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Zero: The Birth of the World's Best Hero Duo

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Katsuki couldn’t breathe.

Deku was just… limp. The Bastard had used Katsuki’s own fucking move on Deku and now his soulmate’s body was hanging in Half and Half’s arms and one of his legs was twisted at a weird angle and…

Fuck.

Katsuki stepped forward, his body felt numb, but he had to get there, had to be by Deku’s side, had to—

A hand clamped down on his shoulder. “They’ll bring him here, Young Bakugou. Wait a minute.”

Katsuki growled. “Like hell!” He strained against the hand, but damn it! All Might was using One for All and Katsuki was going to scream, he couldn’t push forward, but he needed Deku and he needed Deku now, how dare this man keep him from his soulmate—

“Young Bakugou!” A second hand clamped down on his other shoulder. “You two can’t attract untoward attention! If you run out there, people will wonder why we let you watch from here, instead of up in the stands where students are supposed to watch. Do you want people to be asking questions like that?!”

Katsuki felt lost. No! He never wanted questions that might endanger Deku, but… but… He wanted Deku safe, he needed… His soulmate was on a stretcher, now, just lying there, and it was coming toward them, but slowly, too slowly, and fuck, the nerd had broken his other leg, too, but when?

That blast! They definitely hadn’t been broken before then, so Deku must have overused his quirk trying to brace himself or some shit like that, and then he’d kept fighting on broken legs like the fucking self-sacrificial idiot he was and—

And Deku was here and Katsuki was pushing some dumbass aside and wrapping his arms around Deku and fuck the nerd had to stop doing this shit, damn it! Katsuki pulled back, staring at his soulmate, at his bruises, at the bags under his eyes; he grabbing his hand, feeling its warmth… Deku looked fucking exhausted. Weren’t people supposed to look peaceful or some shit like that when they were unconscious?!

Damn it all! Deku had promised he wouldn’t hurt himself anymore! Even if the nerd hadn’t meant to use his full power, this was the second damn time today he’d been hurt from overusing it and Katsuki fucking hated it.

In the background, All Might was excusing the guys that had been pushing the stretcher, saying he’d take care of it or some shit like that. As they walked off, though, the hero turned toward him. “Bakugou-kun, with injuries like this, we need to take him to the nurse’s office where Recovery Girl has the tools to make sure he’s ok.”

“Right.” Katsuki couldn’t tear his eyes away from Deku. He felt frozen in place, clinging to his soulmate’s hand. Broken legs wouldn’t have made Deku fall unconscious. His soulmate’s pain tolerance was fucking ridiculous. Which meant… Katsuki swallowed. It meant something else was wrong.

There was a puff of smoke behind him, and then All Might was back in his twig form, nudging the stretcher forward.

Katsuki clung to Deku’s hand, slowly walking beside the stretcher. It… it wasn’t that bad, right? His skin was bruised, but his legs weren’t twisted or mangled or anything like that. Deku hadn’t used his full power, just a bit too much. But the right leg…

The right leg definitely looked worse. Maybe dislocated? But that still didn’t explain why Deku had been on the verge of collapsing before Half and Half knocked him unconscious!

Why?

Why was Deku—

Fuck.

It… it was his fault. It had to be.

Damn it! Katsuki had… he’d fucking argued with Deku! He’d argued with his soulmate and sent him off into a dangerous spar, knowing that Half and Half was strong, that Deku was tired, that the nerd wasn’t confident… fuck!

It was all his fault.

Deku had… With them fighting, their already strained bond would have been even harder to deal with, but Deku had known that Katsuki wanted him to win so even after he’d gotten Half and Half to use his fire, even after he’d gotten both his legs fucking broken, he’d still…

Katsuki barely held in a whimper.

Damn it, Deku! Even if he’d won, it’s not like he could have fought in the next round like this! Recovery Girl could heal shit, but only if their bodies had energy, and they had none of that to spare right now.

Fuck.

Katsuki grit his teeth, his hand tightening around Deku’s.

After what felt like fucking forever, they reached Recovery Girl’s office, and she was already there waiting for him. All Might lifted Deku’s unconscious body, laying it out on one of the beds, and then Recovery Girl was hopping up on a stool and kissing the cut on Deku’s arm.

Katsuki really didn’t like her frown as she leaned back. “He doesn’t have the energy for a complete healing. The boy pushed himself far too hard—he’s got practically no energy left at all.”

Katsuki winced.

Fuck.

His guess had been right.

It was his fault.

Fuck! Fuck this bond, fuck this exhaustion, fuck—his eyes screwed shut. Shit, he’d wanted Deku to win, but not if he fucking knocked himself out like this! Damn it! He hated this shit!

He’d always told Deku never to use full power, but apparently the shitty nerd hadn’t fucking realized that Katsuki meant don’t fucking hurt yourself, regardless of amount of power he used.

“The legs both have hairline fractures, so he likely hurt himself overusing his quirk—” Of fucking course he had, Katsuki had already figured that shit out— “But then he injured his right leg even more when he kicked Todoroki-kun.” She sighed, “I can heal the bruising on his chest and the hairline fracture in his left leg, but the right will have to be put into a cast and wait until tomorrow at the earliest.”

Shit.

Bakugou watched as she worked, watched as Deku didn’t even twitch as the bruising in his leg slowly disappeared, as steady hands cut off his right pant leg, then poked and prodded against the dislocation. As Granny adjusted the leg, twisting the limb, his soulmate winced, but didn’t wake up, and Katsuki just wanted to puke because why had Deku hurt himself like this and it was his fault and—

Watch.

He had to watch this.

It was his fault.

No matter how much he wanted to turn away, to bury his head in his hands, to stare at Deku’s face, he had to watch.

Finally, the leg wasn’t twisted any more, and Granny seemed satisfied. She beckoned to All Might, “Toshinori, come here and help me with this.” All Might circled around Katsuki, gingerly holding up Deku’s leg as Recovery Girl left and then returned with a cart covered in shit.

Katsuki swallowed nervously, threading his fingers through Deku’s as she pulled some long thin sock over his leg, and then began wrapping a piece of fabric all the way up to Deku’s fucking thigh. Then she was putting thicker fabric in a bowl of water and wrapping that around the leg, fussing at All Might to hold it steady, her hands gentle and precise as they smoothed the fabric over Deku’s slightly bent kneecap.

Katsuki squeezed Deku’s hand. Fuck. He couldn’t— tears were stinging at his eyes. Fucking tears.

Damn it! Damn it all! It was just a damn cast! Damn it. Granny knew this shit. Deku would be fine. It was just a broken knee. Well, a leg broken in several places, the worst of which was the knee. But Deku would be fine.

But it was Katsuki’s fault.

His next breath came out as a long hiss. Shit. Deep breaths. Deku was fine.

After only a few more minutes, the wet plaster shit completely covered Deku’s leg and ankle, only his toes visible. “He can have a gummy when he wakes up, but that’s all I can do for him today.” Granny grabbed some towels from the bottom of her cart, propped up Deku’s leg, and then hopped down, peeling gloves off her hands and tossing them into the trash. “Toshinori, there’s some crutches in the supply closet for him to use when he wakes up.”

All Might nodded. “I’ll be happy to get them; I know you’re busy.”

Granny frowned, glancing down at some old-timey pager on her belt. She sighed. “Now a third year needs me. Togata-kun needs to learn to hold back more.” A frown twisted across her face. “Well, the cast will be settled in about five minutes, and then he can move, but he probably won’t wake up until after that, so it shouldn’t be an issue.”

With that, Granny scuttled out of the room, muttering under her breath about needless injuries and the stupidity of the whole festival.

Katsuki took a deep breath, staring at the cast as All Might shuffled around, then returned, leaning two crutches next to the wall by Deku’s head.

Deku would be fine.

He had to focus on that. No matter how shitty his soulmate looked at the moment, he’d be fine. He looked terrible because of the exhaustion, that was it. There wasn’t any terrible injury, he hadn’t overextended his quirk to the point that he’d destroyed his legs like Katsuki knew could have easily happened…

Katsuki swallowed. Deku would have crutches for a few days, but that’s it. Then he’d have enough energy and he could be healed and…

Fuck.

Who was Katsuki kidding, Deku wasn’t likely to be bounding with energy any time soon. Not with the bond like this. They were both struggling to make it through the day, now. The only way to get energy was a gummy, or…

Damn it.

Could they really seal the bond when Deku was already injured?

All Might sighed next to Katsuki, dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief. “Not to worry, Young Bakugou. You have a while before your match, so you both can stay here for a bit. Aizawa-kun will text me when we need to head back to the stadium, plus Cementoss will have to recreate the arena after that last match, and Yamada-kun is delaying events as much as he can.”

Katsuki frowned. The last thing he wanted to do right now was spar with some other fucker. But Deku had lost even though he’d fought so damn hard to win, so Katsuki couldn’t just stop. He had to win! For both of them.

But he couldn’t leave Deku, and Deku wasn’t going to be moved easily until he woke up… Katsuki bit his lip.

Fuck, he hated this bond shit sometimes.

“I’ll be by his side the whole time, Young Bakugou.” Katsuki growled in frustration. Damn it! He hated this shit so much.

“Fucking hell.” Katsuki ran one hand through his hair, staring at Deku’s still figure.

Hopefully Deku would wake up soon.

But one minute stretched into the next, and Deku still wasn’t moving.

Katsuki’s eyes searched his soulmate’s face.

Deku, please. Damn it, please! He never asked for shit, but he needed… He needed his soulmate to wake up! To tell him he was ok. Katsuki couldn’t… he couldn’t concentrate on sparring if Deku was still fucking unconscious. He couldn’t yell at him for pushing himself, he couldn’t—Shit.

The door banged open, and their parents burst into the room. Katsuki blinked, trying to clear the blurriness from his vision. He ran his free hand across his eyes, refusing to let go of Deku with his other.

“Izu!” Auntie was already running toward Deku’s other side, grabbing the nerd’s other hand. Katsuki cleared his throat. “He was collapsing because of this shitty exhaustion, Auntie. He’s ok.” He swallowed, his voice sounded shitty and the words sounded false in his own ears, but he pushed on, “Deku just pushed himself too fucking hard. Recovery Girl could only heal one of his legs, though, because of the exhaustion shit.”

“Thank goodness!!” Tears were pouring out of Auntie’s eyes as she clutched Deku’s hand frantically. The Old Hag sat down next to her, rubbing Auntie’s back while the Old Man stood next to the door.

All Might was stiff as a rod next to Katsuki, thankfully still in the twig form that the family had already met. Auntie looked up with teary eyes. “Yagi-san, thank you for being here! It’s nice to know you were there with him while she healed him. It took us forever to find someone who could tell us where he would be!”

All Might nodded stiffly. “Of course I would come. Young Midoriya has always been a wonderful student, and I was happy to help.”

The Old Hag sighed, watching Auntie as she reached out, her fingers brushing through Deku’s sweaty hair. “This boy never knows when to quit.”

Katsuki winced.

That was true, sure, but… fuck it, what had Katsuki been thinking?! Of course Deku would pull this shit if he thought his soulmate wanted him to win at all costs!

Fuck!

“It was my fault.” Katsuki’s voice was weak. He fucking hated the sound. Hated the situation. Hated… he clenched Deku’s hand. Fuck.

“Oh, Katsu-kun, I’m sure—”

“It is, Auntie!” He looked up to glare at her. “We had a damn fight right before his shitty match. A fight! Us!” He swallowed hard, trying to ignore her lost expression. “Arguments can make the bond weird, especially now that it’s strained or some shit, but I wasn’t thinking and I yelled at him and probably exhausted him more before the fight and…”

“Young Bakugou…” He felt Yagi-sensei’s hand on his shoulder and pushed it off before rubbing his own arm across his eyes. He was notcrying, damn it!

“I pushed him too hard. He was just fucking acting like he couldn’t win and like something else was more important than the fact that we’re supposed to always win together, damn it, and I was so fucking mad because how could some other shit be more important than us?” Katsuki’s voice broke as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the edge of the bed. He pulled Deku’s hand up to his forehead, needing to feel it, needing his soulmate to be close to him. “Nothing… nothing’s ever more important than us.

“Katsu-kun…” Katsuki flinched at Auntie’s voice. Surely she’d be mad at him. Fuck. How could he have fought with Deku like that?! “Katsu-kun, I’m sure whatever Izu wanted to do, he wasn’t thinking about it like that. You’re always the most important person for him. Always.”

Katsuki swallowed. “I know that!” Fuck, the nerd had made that damn obvious with the fight. “He… he went so overboard with this shit, I just…. He accomplished what he wanted, but then he didn’t stop, even though he should have. He shouldn’t have tried to attack the Bastard when both his damn legs were broken, but I’d yelled at him to find some way to win and…” Katsuki’s throat felt thick. “I put too much pressure on him to win.”

The door banged open, and Brain Fucker waltzed into the room, Round Face and Frog Girl behind him.

Katsuki looked away, trying to hide the fact that he’d been fucking crying like some weakass shit. Deku would be fine! There was no fucking reason to cry.

“Is Zu-kun alright?!” Round Face ran to the foot of the bed, staring at Deku’s prone figure. Beside Katsuki, All Might was tense as fuck, even more so than before. Right. They didn’t know his twig form.

“Ribbit.” Frog Girl hopped up beside Round Face, looking between the four adults. “You must be Midori-chan and Bakugou-chan’s parents.” Chan? What the fuck? “Nice to meet you. I’m Asui Tsuyu, and this is Uraraka Ochaco and Shinsou Hitoshi.”

“Tch.” Katsuki jerked a thumb toward All Might, glaring at them as he looked up, daring them to mention the red around his eyes. “This is Yagi-sensei, not Deku’s dad. He works for All Might and trained us for a bit before UA.”

The girls nodded in understanding, muttering out variations of ‘nice to meet you,’ but Brain Fucker’s eyes had narrowed at the ‘sensei’ title. In the end, though, he shrugged and didn’t say anything. All Might’s shoulders sagged in relief.

Katsuki returned his attention to Deku, tracing his thumb across the back of his soulmate’s hand and trying to ignore both the tightness in his stomach and the dumbasses at the foot of the bed. He half-listened as Yagi-sensei made up some story about Izuku pushing himself too hard in training and being extra exhausted before today, and collapsing because of the exhaustion and overusing his quirk.

It wasn’t that far from the truth, at least.

Katsuki’s eyes drifted to Deku’s right leg.

Fuck.

He sat there, nervous and frustrated as hell, as Deku’s friends made small talk with their parents, exchanging stories about school and shit like that. At some point Shitface came in, apparently he’d had to wait for his match before he could check on Deku.

Katsuki didn’t care.

He just wanted Deku to wake up.

It had at least been a fucking hour or something, right? His eyes drifted toward the clock. Two hours.

Shit.

Surely his match would be soon? They couldn’t stall that fucking much.

As if right on cue, All Might’s phone buzzed.

Katsuki tensed as the hero turned to him. “It’s time, Young Bakugou.”

He grit his teeth in frustration.

Deku didn’t need to be moved right now, damn it! Sure, the cast was stable, but he was still fucking unconscious!

Brain Fucker seemed to realize that their classmates couldn’t stay and that Deku would need to move, because he was soon maneuvering the other dumbasses out the door, making some excuse about needing to return and support the other students.

Well, that was one less thing to worry about, but like hell he’d ever be grateful to Brain Fucker for it. Katsuki stood up, slipping his hands under Deku’s knees and shoulders and lifting the nerd up. “Let’s get this shit over with.”

Auntie fluttered around the group nervously, “He’ll be fine being moved, right?”

“Of course!” Yagi-sensei gave her a reassuring smile. “As Young Bakugou said earlier, Young Midoriya is suffering mainly from exhaustion at the moment. The cast will keep his leg still so that he can heal.”

The hero picked up the crutches. “I’ll bring these in case he wakes up.” Carefully, Katsuki stepped back, allowing All Might to walk toward the door. “Follow me. I can take us down some staff corridors so that we aren’t bothered by anyone.”

Staff corridors? It made sense that those existed, but Katsuki had never heard of them. As All Might led them out of the hospital wing and through what Katsuki had thought was the door to a classroom, he had to re-evaluate what he knew about the structure of the whole school. “It should go without saying, Young Bakugou, that a student in these hallways without a teacher escorting them will be severely punished. These are not meant for daily use.”

“Right.” What were they meant for, then? Moving around unseen for whatever reason? Thinking back to USJ, it was probably good that the school had shit like this.

Katsuki looked down at Deku; his soulmate’s head was leaning against Katsuki’s chest as he carried him in his arms, but fuck he hated carrying him like this. Deku should be on Katsuki’s back, holding onto him with his own strength, not collapsed in Katsuki’s arms all unresponsive and shit.

Before Katsuki had even figured out where they were, All Might opened a door and ushered them into a hallway that Katsuki recognized as being near the stadium’s floor level entrance.

Shit.

“Head toward the A entrance, Young Bakugou. I’ll walk ahead a bit and stay nearby so that I can turn away any students that may be down here.” Katsuki nodded, his shoulders tense as he took a deep breath and began walking once more, their parents still crowded behind him, unwilling to leave Deku’s side while he was unconscious.

The crowd was roaring about some shit, and then Katsuki realized that Mic-sensei was saying that his match was about to begin.

Shit.

They must have already finished the previous match, and Mic-sensei had been stalling.

Katsuki froze. He couldn’t. He couldn’t just… let go of Deku. He couldn’t leave him.

His breath started to come quicker as he stared down at his soulmate, his fingers clutching at Deku. He couldn’t just—

A hand on his shoulder.

His father.

“I’ve got him, son. Give Izuku to me and go do us all proud, alright?” His father shifted, his hand now sliding underneath Deku’s legs, right beside Katsuki’s, and the other under Deku’s shoulders.

Katsuki slowly withdrew his arms—he felt like he was fucking ripping off a scab or some shit, each inch of distance was painful.

And then he wasn’t holding Deku anymore.

Katsuki swallowed.

He had to fight. He had to win. He had to stand on top, for both their sakes. Deku… Deku had pushed himself for Katsuki’s sake. Katsuki had to win for him. After one last look at Deku’s unconscious form, Katsuki turned on his heel, marching into the stadium.

Katsuki wracked his brain, trying to remember what he knew of the bracket. Who the hell was he even fighting against?

He climbed up the stairs to the arena—Oh. Shitty Hair.

Well, that was good. Katsuki could blow off some steam, win this shit, and be back at Deku’s side in no time.

“Is Midoriya-kun ok?” Shitty Hair looked genuinely concerned, but Katsuki still wanted to rip him apart for mentioning Deku right now.

“What the fuck do you think, asshole?!”

Shitty Hair took a nervous step backwards. “Umm… ok. I’m gonna assume not ok. Shit, man, I’m sorry. Uh…” Shitty Hair rubbed the back of his head, “You… you’re really not in a good mood right now, huh.”

Katsuki grinned at the dumbass, explosions bursting forth from his hands. “This is the last fucking place I want to be, so let’s end this quick, Shitty Hair.”

“Right! That’s… that’s totally cool. But, well, you’re doing the evil grin thing, and it’s kind of making me nervous, man…”

Katsuki ignored him, crouching down and preparing to blast toward Shitty Hair as Midnight raised her rope shit into the air, then swung it downwards, shouting “Go!” as she jumped backwards and out of the arena.

Katsuki’s hands exploded. He was taking out Shitty Hair, and fast. If hitting him with explosions wouldn’t work, then he’d find another damn way to use them.

Katsuki twisted, acting like he was going to aim a punch straight at his classmate’s chest, but at the last minute he grabbed his shirt instead, and then blasted upward, hauling them into the air with a powerful one-handed explosion, it was off kilter, and made even more so by Shitty Hair’s struggling, but Katsuki was counting on that.

In seconds, the two of them were in a tight spiral, and instead of trying to pull away from Katsuki’s right arm, Shitty Hair was clinging to it. “Shit man, not again! For the record, I do not appreciate being dropped from the sky, even if I can take it!”

“Fucking deal with it!” Katsuki let loose an explosion from his right hand, forcing Shitty Hair to let go and sending him whirling across the arena and over the line.

Shitty Hair rolled over, groaning as he released his quirk.

Whatever. He was fine.

By the time Mic-sensei’s voice rang out over the stadium, calling the match, Katsuki’s feet were already moving toward the exit.

His heart felt like it stopped in his chest as he frantically scanned the shadowy arch.

No one was visible.

Fuck.

Katsuki broke into a run.

As he got closer, though, he could tell that their parents were still there, but they were distracted, their backs to him, and the Old Man’s hands were at his waist, so he wasn’t holding Deku…

Katsuki barged into the hallway, barely skidding to a stop as he saw his soulmate standing there, leaning on both crutches with Auntie wrapped around his shoulders.

“Deku.”

Tired green eyes turned toward him. “Kacchan.”

He didn’t… He didn’t know what to do. Fuck, if this situation was reversed Deku would come running toward him and hug the shit out of him, but… Katsuki slowly walked toward his soulmate, barely registering that Auntie had let go of Deku and was now clinging to the Old Hag.

He stopped right in front of Deku, and the nerd leaned forward, his eyes closed as he rested his forehead against Katsuki’s. Deku’s chin was wobbling, and Katsuki hated it, but he didn’t know what to do and how to say sorry and—“Sorry, Kacchan. I lost.”

Katsuki closed his eyes, gritting his teeth in frustration. Deku should never sound that fucking defeated. Katsuki wrapped one arm around Deku’s shoulders as his other hand reached up to rest in Deku’s hair, tugging his head down to rest against his shoulder. “Damn it, I’m the one that should say that shit, Deku! I don’t care, nerd. I don’t fucking care. Damn it, I’ll just win for both of us.”

Deku laughed softly, his hands moving from the crutches to clutch at the sides of Katsuki’s gym uniform. “That’s not what you said before the fight.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t expect you to go out there and fuck your body up. I told you to strategize, not beat yourself up! What the hell was that about, huh? You know we hate it when you hurt yourself.”

There was a long pause, and Deku’s voice was muffled by Katsuki’s shirt when he answered, “You wanted me to win.”

Fuck. “Not like that, dumbass! Never like that!” His hand clenched tightly in Deku’s hair.

“But… if someday I can save people—”

“How the hell are you going to save people with broken legs, huh? You could barely move! If you injure yourself that badly you’re just another body for a different hero to try to come and save. Remember what Aizawa-sensei said?”

Deku groaned. “I didn’t mean to break my legs. I was just tired and I needed to dig my legs into the ground for traction against that blast, but I pushed too hard and—” Deku hiccuped, and Katsuki was beginning to feel tears through his shirt. “I didn’t mean to break my promise, Kacchan! Either one of them!”

He closed his eyes. Deep breaths. Deku would be fine. Deku was in his arms. “I know. Deku, I know.”

Katsuki didn’t know how long he stood like that, his arms around his sobbing soulmate, their parents standing off to the side, but eventually someone cleared their throat ahead of them.

Katsuki looked up, and his eyes immediately narrowed. Shitface. “I apologize for interrupting, but the matches in the third round are starting and I need to get through and…” he paused. “It is good to see you standing, Midoriya-kun.”

Deku shifted against Katsuki’s chest, trying to turn around, but Katsuki tightened his arms, resting his head against Deku’s and forcing the nerd to stay still. “Then walk around us, Shitface.”

“Katsuki! Don’t call people that!”

“Kacchan, it’s ok, I can walk with the crutches, promise…”

Katsuki ignored both Midoriyas, staring at Shitface for any reaction as he kept his grip tight around his soulmate.

Shitface swallowed, then nodded. “Very well. Bakugou…kun, I…” He paused, then sighed. “Your semifinals match is against Tokoyami-kun. I looked at the schedule and you’ll be using this entrance, so you two can just wait here for my match to finish, I suppose.”

Katsuki blinked as Deku thanked his friend and Shitface walked around them, his movements stiff as always. What the fuck? Was this Shitface’s attempt to extend some kind of fucking olive branch?

Whatever. Katsuki didn’t accept it.

“Alright, brat. You mind releasing Izu-kun so we can give him a hug before we head back to the stands? We’re technically not supposed to be down here, after all.”

Katsuki tilted his head to the side, glaring at the Old Hag for a few seconds before he reluctantly stepped back from Deku. “Fine.”

He looked away as their parents fawned over Deku, Auntie needing to reassure herself a thousand times that yes her son was alright and yes he was fine with Katsuki and no he didn’t need them to stay and yes he wanted them to go watch the rest of the matches and enjoy the festival.

Katsuki snorted. The Old Hag was probably going to have her hands full keeping Auntie from becoming an anxious mess the whole time. Eventually, though, the three of them left, and the second they disappeared Deku let out a loud yawn. “Kacchan, can I have a gummy? Did Recovery Girl say that was ok?”

“Yeah, come on. We still have our stash in the waiting room.” Katsuki frowned as Deku took a cautious hop forward on the crutches. “You want me to carry you?”

The nerd shook his head. “No, I need to get used to them. It’s fine.”

Katsuki shrugged, but kept his pace slow. No matter how fast Half and Half destroyed Shitface, they’d have to melt the Bastard’s ice before Katsuki’s match could begin. The two of them could take their time. But… guilt churned in his stomach. If he hadn’t pushed Deku so hard, he wouldn’t need to deal with this shit at all.

Damn it.

“Kacchan…” Deku sighed, peeking at Katsuki as he hobbled along. “I’m ok, so please stop beating yourself up about it. Mom said Recovery Girl would heal the leg in a few days, right? I just need to rest and regain some energy, first.”

“Right.” Katsuki kicked the waiting room door open, then held it aside as Deku hobbled through. “Because we’re in great fucking shape to get energy right now. We just wake up with a fuck ton of it to spare.”

Katsuki kicked a chair, sending it sprawling across the room. “Tch.” He grabbed one of the water bottles and two gummies from the bag, and walked back to Deku, thrusting one into the nerd’s hands before biting down on the other one.

The nerd stared at him, his eyes unhappy as he swallowed the gummy. “So maybe I’ll have to sleep for a day or something after she heals me. It’ll still be ok.”

Katsuki scoffed. “Like hell. You can’t miss a full day of classes, Deku.” He headed back toward the door. “Come on, I’ve got a shithead to pummel.”

Deku sighed. “Kacchan…please don’t call our classmates that.”

“Fine. An asshole.” He held open the door again, ignoring Deku as his soulmate rolled his eyes.

“You’re being ridiculous. Though, speaking of the match, do you have a strategy to use against Tokoyami-kun? His quirk is really strong and versatile and…” Katsuki zoned out as Deku began to rant about Bird Boy. He could take this asshole out in his sleep, that much had been proven during the cavalry battle.

“There you are! Your match is about to begin, Bakugou-kun! It was very irresponsible of you to wander off like that when your turn is next—”

“Deku needed one of Granny’s fucking gummies. I’m back, so shut up.” Katsuki glared at Shitface, shouldering past him and into the arena.

“Aaaannddd, our second competitor appears! He’s fashionably late, but ready to deliver on what’s sure to be an amazing spar, it’s Bakugou Katsuki!”

Katsuki rolled his eyes as he climbed up the stairs. There’s no way he was that late. Shitface would’ve been using his quirk and running around to find him if that was the case.

He eyed his opponent. Well, the asshole at least hadn’t lied about who Katsuki would be facing. “You and I both know my quirk is a bad match for you. You wanna go through with this or just forfeit?”

Bird Boy’s stance shifted to a more defensive posture and the shadow branched out further. “I must at least try.”

Katsuki shrugged, he could respect that, but this was still going to be over quick. He crouched down as Midnight called for their match to start. The second she was outside the arena, Katsuki blasted forward and upward to close the distance between him and Bird Boy, giving himself a height advantage.

The shadow rushed toward him, but Katsuki had been counting on that. He pulled his hands in front of him letting himself free fall for three, two, one… Katsuki let loose, hammering the shadow with explosions and forcing it to retreat.

Katsuki landed lightly on the ground, the shadow now cowering behind Bird Boy. “Your shadow’s a fucking coward, give up already, damn it!” Katsuki wanted to be back with Deku!

“No!” Bird Boy shook his head, and the shadow reluctantly moved between them again. “You have not even touched me. This match isn’t over.” Tch. Well, if that’s what it would take…

Katsuki ran forward, hands letting out small explosions as warnings for the shadow to back off, then dodged past it, slipping underneath the guy’s arm and punching him in the chest. Bird boy skid backwards a few feet, wheezing, but Katsuki wasn’t going to give him a break. He set off an explosion in his left hand, giving himself more momentum as he spun on one foot and then rammed his heel into Bird Boy’s side.

His opponent staggered, and the shadow once again darted in between them, but Katsuki blasted it again, swatting it to the side before kicking Bird Boy’s legs out from underneath him and pinning him to the ground, one hand still aloft and letting out small explosions, threatening the shadow should it try to come closer. “Now will you fucking yield?”

Bird Boy sighed, closing his eyes in defeat. “I give up.”

“About damn time.” Katsuki rolled his eyes, then stood up and walked out of the arena as the match was once again called in his favor. Of all the matches so far, damn Round Face had been the hardest, but Katsuki could acknowledge that Bird Boy was at least strong—his weakness was just easy for Katsuki to capitalize on.

Deku was grinning at him as Katsuki walked toward the exit, but the sight of his soulmate’s crutches and cast caused guilt to begin churning in Katsuki’s stomach once again.

“You did great, Kacchan!” Deku was beaming and Katsuki wished that he could ignore the exhaustion still present in his soulmate’s voice, he wished he could focus on just the brightness in Deku’s eyes, the happiness in his smile, but…

Katsuki sighed, reaching out to ruffle the nerd’s hair, though he was careful not to be too rough.

Deku pouted. “Kacchan, I’m not going to break.”

“Oh? Then if I pushed too hard you wouldn’t fall over?”

“I have the crutches! I’m fine.”

“Uh-huh.” Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Whatever, nerd.” His eyes drifted down to Deku’s cast. Next, Katsuki would be facing Half and Half—The Bastard that had hurt his soulmate. Even if Katsuki had pushed Deku too hard, Half and Half was the one who had broken his legs. Had knocked Deku unconscious. Had carried him to the stretcher.

Katsuki was going to destroy him.

“I wish they’d give you a break and not do the final match right away like this.” Deku frowned, “I understand that it’s getting late in the day and such, but…” he sighed, then looked up at Katsuki, his eyes determined. “I know you’ll win, Kacchan. Be careful when he first uses his fire, though. That blast from the temperature clash is really powerful. But you’ll be fine!” He felt Deku’s hand against his, latching on despite the awkward angle. “You’re unbeatable in the air, after all.”

Katsuki squeezed Deku’s hand as Mic-sensei announced that the final match was about to begin. “I’ll win this shit.”

“I know.”

Katsuki sent his soulmate a smirk, then released his hand and strode back into the arena.

One more match.

One more match, and he could stay at Deku’s side until the nerd was strong enough to heal.

One more match, and Half and Half Bastard would be on the ground, in second place and regretting every ounce of hurt he’d given Deku.

One more match, and Katsuki could prove that their soulmate duo could beat everything thrown at them, one way or another.

Pops crackled in his palms as he stared across the arena at Half and Half.

Cementoss was standing at the very edge, and Half and Half was already crouched down, his right arm touching the ground. Katsuki raised his left arm, bracing it with his right hand. He’d been primarily making large blasts with his right hand, today, and his arm was damn sore because of it. He probably had one large blast left with it before he hurt himself. His left arm, however, was doing a lot better.

Katsuki had plenty of fire power left, and he’d prove to Half and Half that he would have to pull out more than his damn glacier to beat him.

The second Cementoss gave the signal, ice raced toward him, but Katsuki held his ground and waited. His attack wouldn’t be too large, since he hadn’t worked up a big sweat, yet, but it damn well would be large enough.

Now!

Katsuki let loose. A huge explosion ripped out of his palm, wind stung at his face, his feet slid backwards, and—Katsuki grinned—the glacier was completely obliterated. The dust and debris cleared, revealing all that was left of what had been a massive structure were small pieces of ice scattered over the arena, lying useless on the ground.

“How about you try something else that might actually be a damn challenge?!” Katsuki blasted forward. “The stronger the quirk, the more imprecise the attacks! That shit won’t work against me, so up your game, Bastard!”

When Katsuki was almost on top of him, Half and Half raised his arm upward, but Katsuki let out a blast with his left hand, dodging the Bastard’s arm and then grabbing his opponent’s hair and shoulder, flipping Half and Half over his head and hurling the Bastard toward the edge.

A slide of ice appeared, though, catching Half and Half and keeping him in bounds as he slid toward Katsuki’s left.

Katsuki smirked. That was more like it. Keep him on the run. Destroy his options. Make him use his fire.

Katsuki blasted toward the Bastard again, cutting off his path, then using a blast from his right hand to twist past Half and Half’s second attempt to grab him, flipping to kick— Katsuki’s eyes widened.

Half and Half’s left hand was holding Katsuki’s arm.

His left.

But all the Bastard did was toss him.

Katsuki landed on the ground, his mind whirling.

What. The. Fuck.

That had been the perfect opportunity for the fire, damn it! “What the hell! Am I not good enough for you, Bastard?! You’ll use your left with Deku, but not with me?!”

Katsuki was Deku’s equal! Fuck this shit!

Mismatched eyes stared back at him. He said nothing.

Katsuki snarled. Sweat was beading down his back, his muscles burning from the day’s activity.

The Bastard was going to fucking pay.

He’d drain him of all his ice and fucking force the damn fire out. He may be tired, but he had enough energy to destroy this fucking shitrag.

Katsuki stomped toward Half and Half, not even bothering to use his explosions for speed and instead just blasting apart any attacks the Bastard tried to throw at him.

Half and Half was smarter than this. He was stronger than this. He was better than this. So why the fuck wasn’t he taking Katsuki seriously?! Katsuki growled, glaring at the Bastard in front of him. “I’ll show you what happens when you make a fool out of me! I want an indisputable first place. If you’re just going to fucking underestimate me, I’ll make you damn well regret it!”

He exploded the last wall of ice between them, then lifted his right arm and punched the Bastard in the face, sending him stumbling backwards. Ice rose between them again, but Katsuki just blasted it aside and kicked the guy’s left side, using an explosion to add to his own momentum and send Half and Half flying from the force of the kick.

“Use your left, already, damn it!”

Half and Half stood up again, eyes blank as he stared at Katsuki.

It was fucking infuriating.

“If you have no intention of winning, then why’d you fight Deku so hard?! If you aren’t going to fight me just as much, then get lost! Why the fuck are you even here if you won’t give this your all?!” Katsuki blasted forward, then upward, dropping down and nailing the guy’s shoulder, sending him to his knees and then flipping backwards before Half and Half could grab Katsuki’s leg.

The Bastard was fast, but Pointy Ears had been faster. Katsuki was used to Half and Half’s movements, now, and there was no way he’d get another chance to grab him with either hand.

Damn bastard should have used his left when he’d had the chance.

Katsuki was beginning to feel the strain of all the day’s fights, and he fucking hated the exhaustion weighing him down. “I don’t give a damn about your issues, you got that?!” He had to get the Bastard to use his fire, and fast. “Just fight me with everything you’ve got, or you’re not even worthy to be on this fucking stage, much less be a damn hero!”

Finally, finally, that caused something to flicker in the Bastard’s eyes.

“I know I’m not worthy to be a hero. Not as I am now.”

“Then fucking get better! But how can you even try to do that if you don’t give everything all you’ve damn got!” Katsuki charged forward, “Fight me! Fight me like you fought Deku!”

He couldn’t get revenge against the bastard unless he destroyed him when he was fighting at his best, damn it! Every hit, every kick that he’d landed, they all felt so damn empty, all because this Bastard wasn’t even trying!

Shitty Hair and Bird Boy may have been easy wins, but at least they’d fucking tried!

Katsuki struck low, knocking the Bastard’s feet out from under him and pinning him down as he once again raised a hand high, preparing a solid blast. “Fight like I know you can! You better fucking defend against this shit, Bastard!”

Mismatched eyes widened and ice formed around them both, protecting the Bastard’s chest and encasing Katsuki’s legs, preventing him from escaping his own blast. Like hell that would stop him. Katsuki rammed his hand against the bastard’s icy shield, letting loose a powerful explosion; the backlash sending him flying backwards as ice splintered all around him.

Katsuki hit the ground with a thud, quickly pulling himself up to a crouch as he stared at where the debris clouded his opponent’s form.

Half and Half coughed, the air clearing to reveal him as he slowly stood up, his shirt in tatters and scorch marks and scratches from the ice all across his chest. “You’re insane.”

Katsuki grinned, ignoring the remaining ice that clung to his legs. “You ready to fucking fight, Bastard?”

Flames began to flicker around Half and Half’s left side, and Katsuki’s grin widened.

Fucking finally.

Finally he’d get his revenge.

He’d show everyone that this Bastard wasn’t the best.

If Half and Half was about to unleash the move he’d used against Deku, Katsuki would pull out a big move, too. He’d pour everything he had left into it, and they’d finish this with one shot.

Katsuki blasted straight up into the air, then used off-tempo explosions to set himself into a spin. Keep focused. Watch your angle. Watch the wind speed. Create a vacuum for the flames.

Aim.

Air whipped around him as he shot straight toward Half and Half, who was holding both arms out, ice cracking around him on his right while flames rippled out from his left.

Almost there.

Katsuki cocked his arm back, readying a blast as Half and Half held his left hand forward.

Now!

He punched against the Bastard’s hand, palm out and letting loose the biggest blast he could manage.

The air pressure blew him backwards as everything around him exploded, and he had to release smaller blasts to fight the wind, panting as he landed barely within the line on the other side of the arena.

Katsuki frowned.

It shouldn’t… it shouldn’t have been that easy. It was like he’d just been fighting the recoil from his own blast, not the force of the Bastard’s, too.

As the debris cleared, Katsuki’s eyes widened.

Half and Half hadn’t used the move.

There was no way.

If the Bastard had created any air pressure from his own attack to defend against Katsuki’s blast, then the force… the force would have sent him backwards, sure, but it wouldn’t….

It wouldn’t have knocked him unconscious. The Bastard could have blocked his path with ice, not been blown out of the ring…

He wouldn’t be slumped against the back wall of the stadium.

Images of villains strewn on the floor of the collapsed building flickered before Katsuki’s eyes. Their screams echoed in his ears. His breath came quicker.

No.

No!

Not again!

Half and Half was supposed to be able to defend against that attack, damn it! He was strong enough! He’d been using his fire!

Katsuki ran forward, not even caring as he crossed the line in the arena, he didn’t care, he had to--

Something smelled sweet.

His exhaustion hit him like a fucking truck; Katsuki stumbled, struggling to move forward. He had to make sure—

He collapsed.

____

“Kacchan?” Katsuki groaned. Like hell he was waking up.

Deku’s hand poked at his shoulder. He could feel the nerd sitting next to him, his legs stretched out. “Kacchan, I know you need to sleep, but the awards ceremony is about to start.”

Awards ceremony? Katsuki rolled over, wrapping an arm around Deku and pulling the nerd closer. “Don’t wanna move.”

“Kaaachaaan.” Deku was half groaning and half whining, now. Why was the nerd whining? Katsuki cracked open an eye, wincing at the bright light.

Then he saw the cast, and everything came flooding back. “Fuck.”

Deku snorted. “Good morning, sleepyhead.”

Katsuki sat up straight, ignoring his protesting muscles. “Half and Half—”

“He’s fine, Kacchan. He used ice to shield himself at the last minute. He still had some pretty bad cuts from his ice exploding, but Recovery Girl healed him, and he’s fine.”

“Right. Shit, I thought….” Katsuki closed his eyes. Half and half was fine. He hadn’t killed his classmate. A wave of relief washed over him. That was definitely one less thing to worry about, but… “Damn it!” The Bastard hadn’t even gone all out. Who the fuck just took that kind of hit when they could fucking fight back?!

Katsuki had won, but it didn’t fucking count for anything! Not when that Bastard… “Our fight isn’t over, damn it!” He swung his legs off the table. Fuck this shit! He’d rested. He had enough energy now to find Half and Half, make him use his fire again, and kick his ass. Katsuki had to prove that he and Deku were the best, and it had to be indisputable!

“Kacchan!” Deku’s hand was grabbing his, pulling him back. “Kacchan, you won.”

“No I fucking didn’t! He didn’t use his fire against me! That’s not winning, Deku! There’s no damn point in winning like that!”

“Yes there is! You’re first place! I know it’s not what you want, Kacchan, but I told them I’d calm you down and if I can’t do that… if you’re this angry when you leave the room, then they’re going to restrain you during the ceremony! You know our parents would hate that! And it wouldn’t look good for agencies, either!”

“I don’t want any fucking award! I didn’t earn it!”

“Then…” Deku bit his lip, his hand tightening around Katsuki’s wrist, “then accept it for us!”

“What the fuck?!” Katsuki stared at his soulmate, who had clearly gone insane. “I didn’t beat him at his best! You lost when he was at his best! How does accepting this award ‘for us’ make any fucking sense?”

“Because we won the cavalry battle! When it comes to teamwork, we beat him. Even if you don’t include the 10,000,000, we still beat him. Accept it for that, if you won’t accept it for the one-on-one matches.”

Katsuki stared at his soulmate. “That’s not why they’re giving it to me.”

Deku’s determined expression didn’t waver. “It’s part of it.”

Katsuki sighed, exhaustion beginning to weigh on him now that he wasn’t focused on his anger. He punched the wall in frustration.

“For me, Kacchan? I… I’d be really happy to see you on the podium, wearing the first place medal. Other people should know how awesome you are.”

Fuck.

Deku was giving him those pleading eyes and his chin was beginning to wobble and he was sitting there with his leg in a cast, reminding Katsuki just how badly he’d messed up today and…

Damn it. Shitty soulmate playing dirty like this. “Fine.”

Deku’s grin was too fucking bright. His soulmate squeezed his hand, then shifted so that his legs hung off the bed and he reached for his crutches, slowly standing up. “Let’s go, then!”

Katsuki sighed. He hated this. He hated it so fucking much. But now Deku was waiting for him at the door, and looking back with a determined smile and…

“Tch.” Katsuki strode forward, pushing the door open for his soulmate and holding it there as Deku hobbled through the entryway. Midnight was on the other side, and she smiled at them both.

“Oh, good! I was worried we were going to have to knock you out again when I heard yelling. You were really determined to reach Todoroki-kun at the end of the match.”

Katsuki looked away, scowling. “Let’s just get this shit over with.”

Midnight chattered the entire walk, teasing Deku, but Katsuki didn’t pay any attention to them. He was too tired for this shit.

He ignored the roar of the crowd when they reached the stadium, ignored the other dumbasses congratulating him, ignored Mic-sensei’s voice yelling out information.

The only thing he paid attention to was Deku’s nudge toward the podium.

Begrudgingly, he walked up the steps and stood in the first place spot, refusing to show any exhaustion in his steps, and refusing to even look at Half and Half.

Fucking Bastard.

This win wasn’t worth shit.

Katsuki glared at All Might when the man stepped in front of him, loosely holding the gold medal. “Young Bakugou! Good job doing what you said you would during the pledge!”

Katsuki scowled. “You and I both know there’s no damn point in getting first place like this. Even if the world recognizes it, if I don’t recognize it, then it’s trash!” Katsuki refused to back down. His whole body was tense, he wanted nothing more to explode that fucking medal into a million pieces, but…. Fuck.

Deku was watching.

Deku wanted him to take it.

Katsuki growled in frustration.

All Might sighed. “In this world where people are constantly being compared publicly, there are not many who can keep aiming for the top of an unchanging scale.” As the hero held up the medal, Katsuki refused to bend his head, forcing All Might to raise it higher in order to slip it around Katsuki’s neck. “Take it. Think of it as a wound so you never forget, and always strive to be worthy of it, in your own mind!”

It felt like a brand around his neck, proving his inadequacy.

Katsuki’s eyes finally shifted to look at Half and Half. The bastard looked fucking calm, now. None of those shitty blank stares like Katsuki had received during the match. “Next time we fight, use you full power, damn it.” Katsuki was tired. So tired of dealing with all this shit. He wanted to explode.

Mismatched eyes turned to stare at him. Finally, the Bastard spoke. “I have to do something before I can be worthy of being a hero.” Katsuki blinked. What the fuck? “You said that, during the match. That if I couldn’t fight with my all, I wasn’t worthy of being a hero. But there’s something I need to do first. Then I’ll fight you.”

Katsuki growled. “You fought Deku—”

“I was unsure of myself. He… he acted recklessly and was determined to destroy my problems.” Half and Half frowned. “Is he always like that?”

Katsuki snorted, turning to look at his soulmate, who was beaming at him from the crowd. Typical. “Unfortunately, damn him.”

Whatever. He would destroy Half and Half Bastard the next time they fought. He’d fucking make sure of it. If the Bastard was too much of a wuss to fight at full strength, yet, then Katsuki would just make sure that he was there to fucking destroy him the second the Bastard used his fire.

For right now, though… he glared out at the crowd. Now he had to resist the exhaustion and stand straight as the world watched. Then he’d make up for his stubbornness to Deku. And after that… well, he definitely wanted to explode that fucking cast to pieces the second it came off the nerd’s leg.