Actions

Work Header

the birds are mocking me (they call to be heard)

Chapter Text

For as long as Katsuki could remember, he’d been pretending he was quirkless.

 

And really – it was so fucking unfair that he even had to.  He could remember a time before his fourth birthday, back when everyone passed around nursery rhymes and wives’ tales of quirks going hand-in-hand with personalities; a fact that used to comfort him, but now seemed blatantly offensive whenever he thought about it. As if someone as great as him could have anything other than an awesomely powerful quirk if that was true. Stupid assholes.

 

It started three weeks after his fourth birthday, when he woke up abruptly to an awful rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Lovely’, instead of the usual mourning dove song that normally coaxed his ears into wakefulness. Thinking back, maybe he could blame his horrid temperament and angry demeanor on ten years of getting woken up by shitty English music covers. But that wasn’t here nor there, and it’s not an aspect of his personality that could be changed easily, anyhow. His mother woke up that morning, filled to the brim with loud, spirited anger, because her four-year-old son was yelling curses and obscenities and shut-the-hell-up-you-hammer-head-shark out of his bedroom window at 7 AM. Really; Mitsuki thought, as she dragged her toddler, kicking and screaming, down the stairs for breakfast; I wonder where he fucking gets it from. And if Katsuki refused to tell her what had set him off that morning, then it was fine, because he was just her strong, independent little trooper. She knew he would have the strongest quirk once it came in, and she was sure to tell him so. Often, to Katsuki’s annoyance.

 

It was after this, that he decided that he had to keep his quirk secret. If it got out that Katsuki, of all people, the one with the rambunctious, determined, prideful personality was reduced to a fucking real-life Snow White, he would never be able to show his face in public again. And if this was his quirk, he’d honestly rather be quirkless. It couldn’t help him save people, it couldn’t help him be the strongest, and it definitely couldn’t help him be number one. He taught himself how to fight, and by the time everyone found out he was quirkless, he was strong enough to hold his own if they teased him.

And then there was Deku. Stupid, weak, helpless Deku, who was actually quirkless, but never defended himself. While Katsuki was being signed up for self-defense and martial arts classes, learning to be stronger and make up for the fact that he didn’t have a powerful quirk like apparently everyone else, Useless Deku sat around and did nothing but write in his journals. He even tried to fucking lower Katsuki to his level, showing him blatant pity, which pissed Katsuki off so much, that he could almost forgive himself for how he treated his former friend. But he didn’t have time to feel bad, he only had time to keep moving forward. If Katsuki wanted to be the first quirkless pro hero, then he had his work cut out for him, and if he just so happened to be strong-quick-popular enough to rise to number one, then all the better for him.

 

It was in his last year of middle school when the entire carefully constructed façade he had built up finally crumbled. It started with the words “take a swan dive off the roof” given to his childhood friend and didn’t end until the day was finally over. Katsuki exited the school, leaving behind his followers, and that weak-spined Deku in search of peace and quiet. He just wanted a silent, lonely walk home to help him clear his head, and he didn’t want anyone whining at him while he did it. Especially Deku - what gave him the right to try and be a hero after all these years of watching Katsuki struggle? What kind of bullshit was that? The entire unfairness of the situation struck him right there, and he didn’t bother toning down his seething glower, as he made his way across campus.

 

“You know,” said a smooth voice, “That wasn’t very nice.”

 

Katsuki let out a low groan, not even needing to turn around to know who was there.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” he hissed, out of the corner of his mouth. “I really don’t want or need to hear this from you, especially after you shoved those birds off of my window ledge last week.”

“Oh, come on, Katsu! It was all in fun!” the midnight furred cat purred, twining itself around Katsuki’s ankles as he walked. To outsiders, it might look cute and familiar, but Katsuki knew it was a passive aggressive attempt to trip him. As if something as small and insignificant as the cat could trip him up.

 

He watched his steps anyways and ignored the cat.

 

“Katsuuuu!” the cat yelped, drawing out Katsuki’s name when he purposely stepped on its tail.

“Either shut up or leave me alone.” Katsuki growled, stopping in his footsteps, and glaring down at the animal. The cat glared back, before dropping his gaze and ducking its head to groom its snow-white paw.

“You’re so touchy today.” they sighed, looking back up at him, and if cats could smirk, this one certainly was. “You can’t lie though, I know hearing Hootie and the Blowfish at 7 AM every morning was driving you insane.”

“It was, but you shouldn’t fucking say it,” Katsuki snorted. “I haven’t slept this well in a long time.”

“And now we know a fool-proof way to get rid of them!” The cat said, letting out a weird sporadic purring noise that Katsuki now knew to be a laugh, when he saw him.

 

Deku, staring at him, kneeling in the pond behind some shrubs a couple metres away. As soon as he saw Katsuki notice him, his entire body flinched, and he went to stuff a soggy journal in his bag.  Katsuki felt all the blood in his body drain down to his toes, and he suddenly felt cold.

How much did he see? How much did he hear? How much did he know?

 

“Shit.” he could hear the cat mutter at his side. “I’ll meet you back at home.” The cat turned tail, and fled down the path, away from the school, leaving Katsuki to deal with the curious asshole by himself. Traitor wasn’t getting and dinner tonight if Katsuki had any say in the matter, that was for fucking sure. But that didn’t matter right now.

 

From the way Deku was acting, he was clearly expecting Katsuki to blow up at him (Fuck, how cool would that’ve been as a quirk?), despite the fact that all Katsuki wanted to do in that moment was get out of there. But that would be suspicious, way more suspicious than being caught holding a one-sided conversation with a flea-bag. He made up his mind and marched over to the wimp, who was stuck on the side of the pond, struggling to get the zipper on his bag done up. Pathetic.

 

“Oi, Deku,” Katsuki growled, watching as Deku twitched at his tone. “What are you doing over here, you nerd.”

“N-nothing! Nothing I swear!” The green headed boy said quickly, finally getting his zipper done up and shooting to his feet, curls bouncing wildly with the movement.

“Go away.” was the only half-hearted reply the boy got as he scurried away, confused, but too wary of Katsuki’s strange mood to even try to push him to talk.

 

——————————

 

Seriously, Katsuki thought, as he struggled for air, coughing on sludge or whatever it was this shitty villain was made of, only comic book characters could have luck this bad.

All this because he’d tried to take a back-alley home to avoid seeing Deku, or anyone else for that matter, again. Really, everything was his stupidly weak quirk’s fault. It was already fucking embarrassing that he’d managed to get caught so quickly, especially after all of the years of martial arts training that he had under his belt. But the villain was made of water, or something, and he couldn’t exactly fight liquids, no matter how much he really wanted to.

 

“Wow, a fighter,” the villain muttered, directly in his ear. “If you calm down a bit, I can promise you it’ll be quicker and a lot more painless.”

 

Katsuki felt his anger grow. He couldn’t afford to give up, he was the best and he couldn’t fucking lose. But he couldn’t do anything either, and that just made him more furious. He looked around desperately, for the first time in his life hoping to see anyone, anything that might help him. But there was nothing.

 

Other than a twitch in the corner of his vision. He yanked his head to the side to see a white-tipped tail vanish behind a bin of trash.

 

“Help,” he managed to cough out, and a dark shape streaked from the garbage bin to the opposite side of the alley, and out of sight. Katsuki felt a wave of hopelessness flow over him. His quirk really was useless.

“Well, that was pathetic, how is a cat going to help you anyways?” The villain chuckled in his ear, and Katsuki was so, so much better than this. He managed to rip his head away for a couple seconds and snag another gasp of air, but he could already see the darkness slipping into the edges of his vision. This is where he would die, alone, feeling the most helpless he’d ever felt, unable to fight a villain that couldn’t be fought without a quirk, and too rude and unsociable for the quirk that he had to make any difference.  He was kind of starting to regret that now.

 

Just as his body slowed responding to his anger, falling sluggish in its attempts to free itself from the villain’s hold, he saw a blob of dark green approaching him. It took him a second to focus on what was in front of him, but once he did, there was no mistaking it.

 

Deku.

 

And then he could breath.

 

——————————

 

“Why did you bring him of all people?”

“Because you need to get over yourself! He saved your life, and you can’t do anything about it!”

Katsuki halted abruptly in his steps and turned to the cat, sneering. “You helped. I’ll accept your help because you’re a shitty fucking flea-ridden bag of blood and can’t tell anyone. But Deku? He’s weak and didn’t even do anything but throw his backpack!”

“If he hadn’t of done that, then you would’ve died! He’s the one who found All Might, you fucking white crayon! You’re the one who did absolutely nothing in that situation!” the cat spat, hackles raised. And that stung. That stung a lot. Katsuki took a step back.

“No wait,” the cat hissed, nervously. “I didn’t mean that last part!”

“Yeah you did.” Katsuki scowled. “Whatever, I’m leaving. Don’t fucking follow me.”

 

This time, the cat didn’t follow when Katsuki stalked away. And yeah, Katsuki did know that he’d done nothing whatsoever in that encounter but be a victim. But he’d been kind of busy dying to be much of a help. Times like these made him doubt himself. They made him feel so weak and helpless that he hardly knew what to do with himself, because letting those thoughts catch up to him led to hiding in his dark room, wondering if there was even a point to his struggles, when everyone around him already had such huge legs up in the forms of their special powers. They made him think about what it would’ve been like to have been born with a powerful quirk. Maybe he’d be so strong that the villain would’ve used his quirk to draw attention to him. Maybe someone would have come sooner. Maybe he wouldn’t have to work so damn hard just to get any recognition at all. Maybe he wouldn’t have had to rely on that Stupid Fucking Deku to save him.

 

Maybe he wouldn’t have to hide his quirk and live with the knowledge that Deku knew. Because if he didn’t know before, he sure as hell knew now, with the cat running to him to help, and to what? Teach him a lesson?

     Now he really wasn’t in a good mood. The only thing that could make this any worse would be seeing Deku again.

 

...Fuck.

 

Seeing Deku walking down the concrete path of their gently lit neighbourhood, almost made Katsuki laugh at how much of a shit day he was having. But seeing his childhood friend snickering to himself on the street would most definitely make Deku think Katsuki had lost a few screws from near suffocation, and Katsuki absolutely did not want to explain himself out of that situation. Instead, he reached for the heat of his anger, and let it fill him up like a hot air balloon.

 

“Oi, Deku,” he growled from behind gritted teeth, nearly shivering from the anger he could feel twisting his gut into knots. It only got worse when Deku turned around.

“What.” He mumbled, looking slightly guilty, which just confused and annoyed Katsuki even more.

“I never asked you to save me,” he hissed out, feeling a furious shudder roll down his spine. “As if you fucking could, huh? I don’t need your pity on top of everyone else with decent quirks out there!”

He continued walking down the street, past Deku, and made sure to ram into his shoulder as he passed. “Don’t lower me to your level, Deku.” He spat, briefly making eye contact with him before turning away.

 

Continuing his walk down the sidewalk, he felt more tired than he had in years. His anger was finally starting to ebb, as he watched the warm light of the sunset turn the scenery around him gold, red, and deep purple. The day was over, and he had more important things to think about.

 

Like the entrance exams. Preparations were about take Katsuki for a spin in a fucking tornado.

 

Ten months until the exam, he left school every day and made his way to either the gym, or the dojo, training for hours until he was falling asleep in front of a punching bag or needed to leave to work on his homework. He ignored Deku, hoping that the lack of aggravation would stop the green-haired boy from spilling his secret about his real quirk.

 

Nine months until the exam, he started staying up a couple hours later to study for written exams. He found himself dozing off during lunch break, and everyone started to avoid him as he became steadily more and more irritable. The dreams (Katsuki hesitated to call them nightmares) of the fucking villain attack didn’t help much either.

He’d never felt so... helpless... and shitty… and wholly unprepared.

 

Eight months until the exam, he made his already strict meal plan even stricter.

 

Seven months until the exam, he was starting to wonder where the cat had gone. He was starting to miss the stupid conversation the dumbass provided during his long physical training sessions. If the cat was good for anything it was for banter.

 

Six months until the exam, he started extending his workout and study time, and rarely went to bed before 3.

 

Five months until the exam, he had his first mental breakdown, which involved a screaming match with his mom and ended with him storming out of the house with fire in his lungs and a bruised cheek. He worked off his anger at the dojo, staying well into the night.

 

Four months until the exam, the mourning doves started nesting on his window sill again, seemingly angry about how they were forced out last time and began singing brutal One Direction covers at 5 instead of 7 AM. He was forced to go to bed earlier in order to preserve his precious five hours of sleep. He really missed the cat.

 

Three months until the exam, he sprained his ankle while sparring with one of his sensei at the dojo and couldn’t walk on it for a week. He ended up with another bruised cheek when Mitsuki caught him sneaking out to go for a run in his cast, after another nightmare dream woke him up, sweaty, shivery, and full of adrenaline.

 

Two months until the exam, he scared the morning doves away from his window himself, when they woke him up at 3, trying to sing the Doctor Who theme, which was fucking orchestral for god’s sake. He could’ve sworn he’d seen the cat lurking in the street below the maple tree in his front yard, but when he looked closer, they were gone.

 

One month until the exam, and Katsuki was having what would have looked like a one-sided swearing match with a fucking shih tzu to an outsider. He was just so fucking frustrated. He’d fought with his mother three times already that week, and now he had a huge welt on his arm from her fingernails, and she’d locked the door after he’d stormed out of the house. He didn’t know where the gentle, optimistic mom he’d known as a child had gone, but sometimes he really missed her.

 

And then there was one day until the performance exam, and Katsuki realized that he hadn’t spoken to Deku, his ‘friends’, or the cat for that matter, since the sludge villain incident.

 

He’d never felt more alone, and that left a sick feeling in his stomach.

 

That night, after a long, unusually quiet family dinner, Katsuki found himself sitting at his desk, with his father standing in his doorway. He just stood there for a couple minutes, leaning against the door frame, collecting his thoughts, and Katsuki let him. Masaru had always been the more passive and level-headed of his parents, always trying to leave the room whenever his wife and son started yelling, never doing anything to help de-escalate the situation, and always hiding until the screaming was over. Sometimes Katsuki hated this about his father, but he could also appreciate knowing that an argument with him wasn’t going to end in physical pain and bruised pride.

So he sat there, quieter than he’d been since he was a child, picking at his cuticles while he waited for his father to speak. It didn’t take long.

 

“You know we’re proud of you, right?” Masaru’s voice seemed to ring out in the quiet room, and when Katsuki looked up at him, he looked very nervous.

“Your mother…” Masaru started, before his voice trailed off. He cleared his throat and opened his mouth again. “I know you don’t always see eye to eye, but she does love you, and I know she’s proud of you.”

 

Katsuki clenched his hands into fists, so hard that he could feel his heartbeat in his fingertips. The bruise on his arm from a couple days prior strung a heated note, and he looked away, a scowl lining his face as he shoved his fists in his lap. He really should have known this was going to happen. Masaru always came to speak to him about this after Mitsuki periodically did something she regretted but was too full of herself to admit it. At least, that was Katsuki’s take on the issue. He never had to wonder, at least, where he’d inherited all of his pride and wild emotions from.

 

Katsuki let out a deep sigh, tilting his head to look back up at his father.

 

He was tired of working so hard, so much harder than everyone else, just to have a fighting chance. At this point, he didn’t know what he would do if he didn’t get in to Yuuei – No. He couldn’t afford to think like that. He was Bakugou Katsuki, after all, and he was the best and working harder than everyone else was what confirmed that. It was what set him apart from people like Deku, who only dreamed and never tried. And with all of that to contemplate, he really couldn’t be bothered to think about what his nuclear bomb of a mother actually thought of him.

 

“I’m going to bed,” Katsuki muttered, rising from his chair.

Masaru let out a small sigh and turned to leave. “Good night, Katsuki. Good luck tomorrow.”

 

Katsuki nodded despite knowing that he couldn’t be seen and started to get ready for bed.

 

It took a long time to get to sleep that night.

 

——————————

 

The bus ride to Yuuei the next morning was tense and quiet, something that Katsuki was glad for, but also hated with his entire being. He’d woken up early that morning from a nightmare to try and avoid his mom parents, not wanting her either of them to distract him from his goal. They still managed to, unsurprisingly, as when Katsuki opened the fridge to grab an apple for breakfast, he found a lonely plate of his mom’s spicy pork tonkatsu, his favourite comfort food. Only a sticky note in her flowery handwriting depicting his name let him know it was meant for him.

 

He’d thought about leaving it, shoving her stupid apology back in her face, but in the end, the scents of chili, tempura, and soy sauce had baited him, and he’d heated and eaten it.

 

He pulled his jacket tighter and leaned back against the seat. He could still taste the sweet-spicy sauce his mother liked to drench the pork with on his tongue.

He forced his mind elsewhere, something that wasn’t hard to do when there was a cat sitting stiffly next to you on a train, trying to act as though it belonged there. Katsuki rolled his eyes and broke the silence of the empty early morning air, that filled the train car.

 

“So, what have you been up to?”

 

The cat jumped, having not expected him to speak. They turned and looked at him, surprise and curiosity shown in the tilt of their head.

 

“Didn’t think you’d actually speak to me, after what I said,” The cat said lowly, settling back down and curling their long, white-tipped tail around their snowy, perfectly groomed paws. Their composure was nearly perfect, but Katsuki could see their nervousness in the way their ears twitched every couple seconds, as if trying to catch every disturbance in the calm atmosphere. The train jostled, and while the cat re-centered themself, Katsuki remembered a cry for help, and streak of black across an empty alley. He pushed the memory away, the taste of sweet chili suddenly turning bitter on his tongue.

 

“Thank you.” He said shortly, forcing it out in a small puff of air.

“What?” The cat looked utterly bewildered, yellow eyes wide and unblinking as they stared at Katsuki in shock.

“You fucking heard me, you flea-bag, and I’m not fucking saying it again.” Katsuki muttered, looking away. He could feel his cheeks burning in embarrassment and was suddenly happy with how empty the car was.

“Aww,” The cat crooned, before leaping to the ground and rubbing at Katsuki’s ankles. “Lil’ Katsu is embarrassed about saying ‘thank you’?”

“Shut it, bitch, I’m not the little one here.” Katsuki growled, going to kick the cat away, foot almost connecting with the meat-sack’s fur, but just missing as the cat dodged gracefully, before jumping right up on Katsuki’s lap, and making themself comfortable.

“Come on Katsu, I was going to apologize and offer to help you and everything, you know,” the cat purred, before letting out a big yawn, and rubbing up against Katsuki’s hand, as if begging to be pet.

 

Katsuki sighed again, and gave in. He settled his hand on the cat’s head and started rubbing the soft fur behind their ear. If he was going to get his ear talked off, he might as well be comfortable. The cat hummed and purred under warm hands and began to explain their plans.

 

——————————

 

If the cat had been away for the past ten months coming up with this plan, then Katsuki might have just forgiven them. When the two of them got off of the train, the cat led him to a nearby park, a ten-minute walk from Yuuei.  There was a small hoard of animals waiting to greet them. Mostly birds, perched in the trees were sparrows, pigeons, and others, thankfully no mourning doves. There were a few stray dogs and smaller animals, cats, rabbits, a fox. Katsuki even thought he’d seen a frog.

 

“Oi!” the cat yelped, looking pissed… or as pissed as a cat could possibly look, Katsuki observed, watching their dark tail lash out, back and forth behind them. “I only called the birds here!”

“The birds’ll never trust a fucking cat!” A small dog growled, pushing its way to the front of the little crowd, lips pulled back in a snarl. “Everyone knows cats are manipulative, slimy bastards!”

 

It was the fucking shih tzu he’d screamed bloody murder at months ago.

 

Katsuki pinched his brow, looking to the sky for a moment, silently asking any god that might see fit to help him to please grant him patience, before lowering his gaze, and glaring down at the cat. The cat rolled their eyes, and squared up, sitting back on their haunches, and regarding the rat-dog haughtily. Katsuki turned, and walked away, shaking his head. If he wanted the help of the animals, he apparently (according to the cat) needed to be nice to them at best, and civil to them at worst, and he definitely couldn’t do that when he didn’t even have enough patience to fill a fucking teaspoon for god’s sake.

 

The cat let out a strangled yowl. “Katsu, get your ass back here!”

 

And it looked like the gods weren’t feeling very helpful today. Katsuki stopped in his footsteps and groaned. He looked around, checking for people nearby, before turning and looking back to the cat.

 

“Wait, he can actually understand us?” muttered a pigeon, nervously twitching farther away from him.

“If he can’t, then I guess I hallucinated a very offensive conversation that I had with him a while ago, the asshole…” the shih tzu grumbled, glowering at Katsuki when they made eye contact.

“The most offensive part of that conversation was that I wasted my time to take part in it.” Katsuki said back, blankly, smirking when the dog shot to his feet, snarling and growling. He could suddenly remember why he’d spent so long aggravating the stupid animal, it was very entertaining.

And then the cat scaled him like a building, catching their claws in his jacket and launching themself up to perch on his shoulder. The shit-eating smirk slid off his face as he went to bat the cat away, but the cat just leapt smoothly to his other shoulder, and Katsuki gave up.

“Alright, listen up you fucking gremlins!” The cat yipped, gathering everyone’s attention, finally, to Katsuki’s relief.

“I only called you winged-fucks here, so everyone else, clear out!”

Katsuki almost let out a snort at the cats words but caught himself just in time. He pulled his phone out of his pocket to check the time, and the nervousness he’d buried deep inside (probably under his superiority complex, his inferiority complex, and a dictionary of swear words) was suddenly in his throat. The numbers read 7:27. He still had an hour and thirty-three minutes before the start of the exam. In two hours and thirty-three minutes, he would finally

be finished. He muttered the time limit they had to the cat, who nodded, and jumped from his shoulder, landing elegantly on all four paws.

They efficiently cleared out all of the non-winged animals, and finally settled at Katsuki’s feet.

 

They then explained the plan.

 

——————————

 

The bird meeting didn’t take too long, and within fifteen minutes Katsuki and the cat were racing through the park, after what had started out as a jog, but had (inevitably) ended up as a competition. Katsuki had looked back for one second to gloat at the cat after pulling ahead, when he slammed, full body into someone, surprisingly not knocking them over. The stranger didn’t stop him from tumbling over, though, and he landed hard on his back, the air pushed out of him. When the slight pain in his chest and the black dots faded from his vision, a figure kneeling over him came into focus.

 

It was a boy, probably his age. He was wearing a dark hoodie and had chin length dark hair that hung around his tan, freckled face in a curtain. He had wide, almond shaped eyes, that were a startling shade of red, and Katsuki came back to himself suddenly, realizing that the boy was talking, and he’d been laying there, staring at a stranger.

 

“-and I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you there, I really wasn’t paying attention, even though I wasn’t the one barreling through a park and not looking ahead of me, but I don’t mean it in a rude way-!”

“Watch where you’re fucking going, asshole.” Katsuki interrupted, a scowl slipping easily onto his face. The boy stared at him, looking slightly perturbed, before breaking off into loud, boisterous laughter, that brought red to his cheeks. It drew up a warm feeling in Katsuki’s chest, which he immediately stomped down on, because suppressing emotions was obviously the best line of action at all times.

“What.” Katsuki said sharply, scowl deepening. He could already feel his ears turning pink. He sat up slowly.

“You’re a bit of a dick,” the boy supplied, giggling at this point. “But I could have sworn you were talking to your cat earlier. It’s kind of great.”

 

‘Great’? Katsuki thought to himself, lying back down. I’m too tired for this.

 

“What are you doing?” the boy asked, still crouching over him.

“What the fuck does it look like.” Katsuki muttered, frustrated. The cat finally wandered over and jumped up onto his chest, parking themself there. Katsuki sighed.

“Aww, are you any nicer than your grumpy owner?” the boy leaned over to scratch the cat under the chin with a calloused hand. The cat purred throatily, leaning into the touch.

“Attention whore.” Katsuki grumbled at them, and they let out a brief hiss in his general direction, before pushing back into the contact. The boy tilted his head back and laughed again ruby eyes glinting, and Katsuki had to look away.

“So, can I fucking get up?” he clipped out, feeling increasingly awkward with the boy leaning so far into his space.

“Oh, of course! Sorry!” the boy said quickly, standing up, brushing off his pant legs, and leaning down to offer Katsuki a hand, which was abruptly ignored. Katsuki instead forcefully shoved the cat off of his chest, and quickly got to his feet.

“I’m Kirishima Eijirou!” the boy said casually, still holding out his hand, as if going for a handshake. Katsuki looked at him, at his still slightly red, freckled cheeks, and turned around hastily, deciding that the best course of action would be to just end this strange interaction as quickly as it had started. He heard a shout of “Hey!” behind him as he ran speed-walked away (he still had some dignity, after all), but payed it no mind, and kept moving with the cat trotting decidedly at his heels.

 

“So,” the cat began smugly, and Katsuki immediately sped up.

“No way in hell.”

 

Chapter Text

As he stalked away, Katsuki felt incredibly thrown off. It had been a long time since someone other than the cat had attempted to get along with him despite his not-so-positive temperament, and to be completely honest it was... definitely not something he should be thinking about an hour before the fucking exam, holy shit. Katsuki pushed down his earlier thoughts and started running again. He really, really needed to get back his clear state of mind before it was too late.

The cat stayed quiet, as they ran, something that Katsuki was very thankful for, despite the cat’s still self-satisfied air, as if they knew something he didn’t. It left him time to think, time to organize his thoughts which were beginning to become as cluttered as his mothers’ work desk, in her office back at home. His mother, he really needed to shove those thoughts into a river, because he needed to just fucking focus.

A half hour passed in the blink of an eye with his nervousness – I thought I fucking threw you in a fucking canyon, you bitch - to hold accountable, and before he knew it he was walking through the gates at Yuuei, mood lower than an ant was to the ground, a couple fingernails bitten close to the skin. He felt jittery, but not jittery enough for it to distract him from seeing fucking Deku, what does he think he’s doing here? He didn’t even work close to how hard Katsuki did, and he thought he could stand on the same level playing field as Katsuki?

 

“Get out of my way, Deku,” Katsuki said, voice low, as he stalked towards the trembling teen.

The entire morning really hadn’t been that good for his temper, which was still causing him to twitch in rage, as he fought for control over it. He walked past Deku, angry, but not acting on it. He had too much to focus on today, plus he still didn’t know how much Deku was aware of about his quirk. He didn’t want to do anything that could make the broccoli-headed bitch let the cat out of the bag when he’d been trying to lock that shit up for years. It was already nerve-racking enough with only one person knowing his secret, he didn’t know what he would do if anyone else found out. 

“Good morning Ka-kacchan! Let’s both do our best!” Deku stumbled over his words, and Katsuki ignored him.

It was the first he’d spoken to Deku since the sludge villain attacked him almost a year before. But he wouldn’t let it distract him.

He, and all the other Yuuei hopefuls were ushered into a large auditorium, and somehow Katsuki ended up next to Deku again. Was the little nerd following him or something? The cat jumped up onto his lap as he sat down, and Katsuki’s hand seemed to have a mind of its own as it started to stroke the cat behind their ear. He felt the cat rumble, rather than heard them with all of the noise in the giant room. Deku stared at the cat, and the cat stared back unblinking with wide, golden eyes, not breaking eye contact even as they rolled onto their back, trying to make Katsuki rub their soft stomach. He complied, too focused on the front of the room to put in the energy to counter them.

The lights dimmed, and the crowd’s attention was drawn to a large podium at the front of the stage as a spotlight rained down on it like a ray of molten sunshine. It was Present Mic, Katsuki recognized him instantly, especially when he used his quirk to try and get the crowd pumped up... and met silence. Lame, Katsuki thought, it sucks too since he has such a powerful quirk.

Katsuki slumped a bit in his seat, regretting his thought process and how much it sounded like the useless asshole sitting next to him, when Deku began to mumble. He scratched the cat in their favourite spot, under the chin absent-mindedly, forgetting for a moment the reason he never does, and the cat let out a long, loud contented meow. Katsuki froze. A couple people around him snickered until he made eye contact with them, glaring heatedly to make them stop. He slowly, angrily looked down at the cat in his arms, who was already looking up at him, yellow eyes glinting guiltily. He shoved the cat off of his lap, and they let out a sigh, before jumping up into Deku’s lap.

Traitor, Katsuki had to physically restrain himself from spitting, and he looked the both of the idiots in the eye, trying to convey the fact that they’re both dead when this is finished, whether Katsuki wants to be a hero or not.

By the time Katsuki forced his attention back to the voice hero, he realized that he’d already missed his introduction, and a boy a couple rows down had stood up and was asking a question. The boy clearly had a stick up his ass, judging from how straight his posture was, and Katsuki’s opinion of him only got worse when he turned around and gave Katsuki and Deku both a black look. He started by chastising Deku for muttering, which was something that Katsuki could wholeheartedly get behind (he’d tried to start a petition when he was five – Get Deku To Stop Muttering My Goddamn Ears Off – but had, for some strange reason, gotten in trouble when all he’d been trying to do was take action about something he was passionate about. But apparently that ‘didn’t matter’ and he was using language that was ‘not appropriate for kindergarteners’ and he needed to stop telling his classmates and teachers to ‘fuck off’ when he didn’t get what he wanted). It only got worse when Four Eyes turned and made scathing eye contact with Katsuki, who looked back defiantly.

“And you,” he said scornfully. “Why would you bring your cat on such an important and sacred occasion? Have you no respect for the staff here?”

Katsuki was halfway out of his fucking chair and ready to snap Four Eyes’ spine over his right knee when the cat jumped back to his lap and forced him back down into his seat with their unexpected weight.

“Don’t make a scene,” the cat hissed out, quietly, winding their tail around Katsuki’s wrist in an effort to ground him somewhat. Katsuki made quick eye contact with the cat for a moment, before settling back into his seat and turning his face sideways, away from Deku, to glower at the wall over the heads of other students. He could feel Deku’s eyes on him, along with what seemed like everyone else in the room. He tried to even out his breathing, and finally succeeded in shoving his temper down. Four Eyes turned back to the front, leaving Katsuki sitting there with a lump of fur on his lap, grinding his teeth.

The room gradually settled down as Present Mic gained back control. Katsuki blocked out everyone but the pro hero standing at the bottom of the room and listened as he explained the set-up of the exam. He smirked when the robots were brought up, and his grin only widened when he heard about the zero pointers. This was going to be so much more fun than he’d thought it’d be. Maybe this was the gods’ way of apologizing for their atrocious lack of help earlier.

 

——————————

 

The cat was sitting on his fucking head. He could feel the slight, steady weight there, moving rhythmically as if the cat was grooming itself or something. On top of his fucking head.

“Chill out,” the cat meowed softly, leaning down to set a paw on Katsuki’s nose. Katsuki shook the paw off, not really minding, but he had a reputation to uphold, damn it.

He didn’t like it, but he heeded the cat’s advice, schooling his facial expression into something more passively angry instead of downright murderous. He could almost feel the cat rolling their eyes at him.

He ignored them, hoping that would be enough to spite them, and turned his attention to the small mock city around him that the crowd of examinees was pooled in front of, taking in the tall buildings and the large layout. He was just thinking about how he could adapt his plan more to the landscape, when he heard a slightly familiar voice behind him.

“Hey!” the voice called out, and Katsuki turned his head so quickly that the cat almost flew off, slightly digging their claws into his scalp. Katsuki grimaced at the small pinpricks of pain, and yanked the cat off of his head, holding them in his arms instead. He turned and scowled at the tanned, freckled boy, as he jogged towards him. He recognized him as the one he’d run into earlier.

“It’s you!” the boy said, as he stopped in front of Katsuki. His expression changed a bit, looking a bit more concerned, as he looked to Katsuki’s hair. “Are you... okay?”

Katsuki wiped at the side of his head quickly, feeling liquid. He pulled his hand away to see a little bit of blood. Probably from the stupid flea-bag he was holding.

“I’m fine.” he spat out, uncomfortably. “What do you want.”

“What do you mean?” the boy asked, looking confused. He’d tied back his silky looking dark hair in a small ponytail on the back of his head, resembling a fish tail. Paired with his sharp teeth, it reminded Katsuki of a shark. He felt the tips of his ears darkening, and when the cat swiped a paw at them in a pompous manner, Katsuki knew he was being teased. He tightened his grip on the cat.

“Why are you talking to me.” Katsuki asked in a monotone voice, wondering why the gods hated him so much.

“Oh!” Shark Week Katsuki couldn’t remember his name said, face lightening. “I was wondering if you wanted to work together! You seemed super strong earlier when you ran into me! You almost knocked me over! Plus,” the boy paused, face taking on a more determined and puffed-up smirk, “you seem like the competitive type and I thought we could figure out a strategy!”

Shark Week knocked his fists together in front of his chest, tanned skin turning almost rock-like as he did so, ridges lining his arms like cracks in stone. Katsuki felt a grin slide slowly onto his face, and he loosened his grip on the cat, who hoisted themself up onto his shoulder.

“He would be super helpful! Look at his quirk,” the cat hissed into his ear. He flicked the cat, startling them, and they hissed for real.

“Why not,” Katsuki said, still simpering, “Only if you can keep up, though. What’s your quirk?”

Shark Week looked stunned, but quickly got a hold of himself, his grin widening even more. “It’s hardening! I can harden my skin and use it as a shield. I know it’s not that interesting, but it’s convenient. What’s yours?”

“I don’t have one,” Kastuki said casually, watching Shark Week’s reaction closely. He looked a little surprised, but he didn’t stop smiling.

“You must be super strong to be so confident here!” he laughed. “That’s so manly!”

Katsuki’s eyes widened slightly, the only physical sign giving away his complete & utter astonishment. He’d never received a response that positive before.

“Fucking whatever, Shark Week,” Katsuki mumbled.

“Katsu,” the cat purred, mirthfully before booping him on the nose again with their paw. Katsuki swatted at them, opening his mouth to speak to them without thinking. “Shut the hell up, you ass.” Shark Week snickered.

“I’m never gonna get used to you talking to your cat like that, bro.” he snorted. “Plus, Shark Week? Really? I already introduced myself! I’m Kirishima!”

Before either human or cat could say anything else, there was a tapping on the PA system.

“Well, what are you all waiting for? The test has started! Why does nobody seem to get it?” Present Mic’s voice rang out across the field of examinees, and all hell broke loose.

Katsuki turned to the raven-haired boy, a sly smile lining his features again. “Well c’mon then, Kirishima."

 

 

 

 

Fighting with Kirishima was fucking awesome, to say the least. His quirk, as he’d told Katsuki, was the perfect shield, but he and Katsuki also pulled off some sick tag team combos, and Katsuki was - holy shit he was fucking ecstatic. Katsuki was surprised at how well they worked together, since he’d never really gotten along with anyone before. Katsuki was impulsive, but his movements were still perfectly planned to a degree; he analyzed his enemy for weaknesses before he moved, consistently took in their body language to analyze their movements, and was light on his feet, with a flexibility that seemed to surprise Kirishima. Kirishima, on the other hand, had a thicker body build, despite his slight lack of muscle. He was quick to respond and slow to fall, and was always there in Katsuki’s blind spots, shielding and slashing wherever he was needed. Katsuki was already at 46 points, and he didn’t think that Kirishima was far behind.

The cat had run off to the sidelines early in the exam to command the birds, like a fucking war general or something. They were probably having the time of their shitty meat-bag life. The birds were doing perfectly, staying out of sight and dropping chunks of torn robot armour and rock from high enough that it broke through the armour of the robots they dropped it on. The only thing Katsuki had to do was keep dodging, analyze where the robots were weakest from the falling rubble, and take them down with his own large piece of metal, tearing through the robots like they were paper with the added force of the projectiles. The birds also helped by leading Katsuki to new robots quicker than if he had to search for them himself, something that Kirishima seemed to be overly hyped about. But to be fair to him, he seemed to be overly hyped up about everything.

 

“I’m so lucky you’re letting me tag along, bro!” he enthused, planting a final hardened punch onto the robot they were fighting. His rock like skin tore through the metal like a chainsaw through a block of butter, and Katsuki felt slightly envious as the robot let out a puff of smoke and collapsed to the ground in pieces. He pushed the feeling down though, when he saw Kirishima’s shark teeth form a wide smile again. “You barely even have to look around, you just seem to stumble over robots!”

“Shut up and focus, Shark Week, we don’t have much time left,” Katsuki muttered, sleekly dodging a falling piece of metal. He glared up at the sky, making eye contact with the perpetrator; a fucking mourning dove. “Sorry!” she called insincerely, and Katsuki could’ve sworn she was laughing. He snarled at it, briefly forgetting about Kirishima’s presence.

“Are those birds the ones dropping all of this rubble?” Kirishima asked, suddenly, making Katsuki jolt where he stood. He turned his glare to Kirishima.

“I’d assume so,” he muttered, watching the boy’s face closely, checking his reactions. The dark-haired boy’s expression didn’t change at all, other than when he hardened suddenly, and a piece of metal bounced off of his stony nose. “We’d better keep an eye on them, then. They’re probably part of the exam!”

 

Katsuki rolled his eyes, shaking out the anxiety he felt whenever someone got close to his secret, and looked to the sky, searching for one of his birds. There, he thought, focussing on three, which were flying in circles a couple streets down. “Follow me,” he hissed at Kirishima, waiting for the other boy to nod before charging off down the street.

 

The pair was just rounding a brightly painted corner store where Katsuki knew there was a robot waiting, when a piece of falling silver caught his eye, out of his peripheral vision. He turned to see what it was, skidding to a stop, only to see Kirishima dart past him. There was a loud clang, and there stood Kirishima, the entire front of his body hardened in retaliation to the falling metal, with another examinee crouched behind him, eyes wide in shock. Kirishima also looked surprised, and slowly his open expression tightened into a determined grin. He dropped his quirk, and leaned to pick up the chunk of metal, which was actually quite sizeable, around the size of his fist. He shared some quick words with the other examinee, before turning and running back over to Katsuki, grinning. Katsuki felt a crow land on his shoulder.

 

“Tell those mourning assholes to stop trying to hit people with fucking rubble!” Katsuki hissed to him out of the corner of his mouth. The crow let out a loud caw.

“Whatev, my dude, y’all just make dead ya finna pass, yo.” The crow croaked, before taking off.

 

Katsuki had no idea what he’d said, but he guessed that he’d find out soon enough.

Kirishima stopped in front of Katsuki, still grinning fiercely. Katsuki could barely keep himself from smirking back. He took off running towards the next robot, a little further down the street, feet pounding hard on the cracked gravel. From the sound of the heavy footsteps behind him, Kirishima was following. The boys had almost reached the robot, when the crow was back, pale morning light making some of his inky feathers glow golden. He swooped down and landed on Katsuki’s head again as he ran, and Kirishima tripped noticeably behind him in shock, still managing to stay standing, somehow.

Katsuki slowed to a stop as they reached the sidewalk near the robot.

“Yo, home slice,” the crow cawed. Katsuki scowled in confusion.

“Home slice?” he mumbled to himself.

“The mourning dudes are tryna start a mofo revolution, ya feel?” the crow gestured to the side of the street with a shadowed wing dripping sunlight, where a mourning dove was circling above another couple student’s heads. “They sayin’ they standin’ by sum bros who done got relocated in the middle of a fuckn concert or some’n?”

“Shit,” Katsuki said quickly, the short word hissing out between his teeth. The crow took off again, flying off.

“Kirishima!” Katsuki yelled, pointing towards the mourning dove in the sky. The dark-haired idiot turned too slow, and Katsuki sighed angrily. He grabbed a rock off the ground just as the feathered dick let go of the piece of metal it was holding, and he quickly took in the distance between them, let out a breath, and winded his arm back before throwing the rock towards the metal. He misjudged a little bit, and instead of the rock hitting the metal straight on, it clipped the side of it, sending both in opposite directions. It barely did anything, and now not only was the metal was still falling down towards the students, but now the rock was too. It hadn’t done much, but now Kirishima was there, hardened and fierce looking, almost like a dragon or something. Even his hair was hardened, all shining black and ridiculous spikes. He looked so powerful in that moment, standing in front of two victims, quirk on display and an angry, protective look in his ruby eyes. And then it was over, and his hair was back to falling around his face, and he was talking to the students, making sure they were okay. And Katsuki was envious. The guy had such an amazing quirk, and he didn’t seem to like it. He’d been given what Katsuki had been wanting, dreaming of for literal years, and he didn’t seem to get just how awesome he was. And Katsuki was struck by a deep annoyance about his quirk. The only reason he was using it at all was because the exam was unfair. There was no actual way for a quirkless person to pass it, unless they were stupidly strong or something. And Katsuki was fourteen. Definitely not old enough to be a body builder.

Despite the fact that he hated it, Katsuki knew he wouldn’t be able to pass the exam without his animals. But he didn’t want them to be the ones finishing the job on the robots, something that the cat seemed to understand clearly when he’d told them before the exam had started. Katsuki wanted to be the one making sure he won in the end, and if he had to use his awful, weakling quirk to do that, then he would.

He turned and took off again, towards another robot. He had to do the rest of it by himself. The mourning doves would keep that Shit-Haired Shark Week busy.

 

————

 

Despite the fact that he didn’t have Shark Week to fight alongside during the second half of the exam, Katsuki liked to think that he’d done pretty fucking well. He’d finished with a score of 78 points, only 7 of those rescue points, and he was proud. From what he’d heard, many others seemed to be stuck around the 40 points mark. Leaving a building covered in bruises, and scratches, with aching muscles (that the cat, purring on his shoulder wasn’t helping with at all) had never felt so good. Katsuki felt as though he could run a mile with how satisfied he felt, and he knew without a doubt that he would pass on that performance. He would probably be first too! He wouldn’t be surprised.

He had just left the Yuuei campus, when he spotted Shark Week. The boy was talking animatedly to a pink skinned (holy fuck what the hell) girl, who’s magenta curls bounced with every hop in her step. She grinned so wide that her eyes shut, so Katsuki didn’t notice her black eyes at first. He didn’t notice until the cat leaned down and hissed in his ear, “She looks like a fucking raccoon,” and suddenly Katsuki was forcing down laughter, stuffing his fist in his mouth, physically feeling his ears light up red. When he got his laughter back under control and looked back to the odd pair, he met Kirishima’s eyes. The cat snorted. Kirishima looked like he was about to shout to him or something, so Katsuki turned, and walked down a separate path, starting his long trek to the bus stop.

 

“So?” the cat asked, humour clear in their voice as they mimicked what they’d previously.

Katsuki glared at them again. “No way in fucking hell.”

 

 

Katsuki dropped by the grocery store on the way home, and if Mitsuki was curious as to why there was now a huge bird seed bell hanging from her son’s window at the front of her house, she didn’t ask.

 

And when a sign reading “NOT FOR THE FUCKING MOURNING DOVES” in Katsuki’s handwriting showed up beside the bell a couple days later, Katsuki had to lock himself in his room to get her off of his case.

 

----------

 

It had been a pretty awesome couple months since the exam. Katsuki hadn’t had a big shouting match with his mom since the days before the test, although that was probably partly because he’d given her something to brag to her friends about at work. She probably thought he’d forgiven her, but he was too happy in those following weeks to care. His classmates had all swarmed him on his first day back to school, and after his score had travelled around, he was surrounded by people. Even his old groupies had come crawling back, though Katsuki could never bring himself to hang out with them again. He couldn’t look at them without thinking of the slime villain and feeling like his lungs were restricted. The cat seemed to notice the days after he spent the night being suffocated in his sleep and was good about giving him his space; something that his classmates didn’t seem to understand, though. He wondered how weak he was, that he could be read so easily.

Despite that, he felt, for the first time in a while, that that he was being appreciated for his skill, and he loved it. The fact that no one ever talked about Deku’s experience and that he probably hadn’t gotten any points at all, made the victory ten times sweeter. Deku had to know now that he couldn’t just stand up and suddenly be on Katsuki’s level; he had to understand just how stupid he’d been. Katsuki would never have to worry about the moron ever again. Everything was perfect.

Until a week and a half before the acceptances were mailed out, and the cat randomly decided to disclose the information that some of the mourning doves had decided to help Deku, as revenge towards him. Apparently, they’d been bragging around about how they’d helped the boy rack up quite a few rescue points. And yes, Katsuki was so pissed off that he wanted to find the birds’ new nesting area and set it on fucking fire see how they like it now, but the boy still couldn’t possibly have gotten enough points to be accepted. Or so he thought.

The letters came. Katsuki got a video message from All Might - All Might! The only thing that had been stopping him from jumping around like a lunatic had been the presence of the cat, sitting curled up on his pillow with a very smug air about them, shown in the way they twitched their ears and how they looked down at him haughtily, where he sat on the floor. From the way that they smiled, though, it was clear that they knew just how excited Katsuki really was.

And Katsuki was ecstatic - he, who was almost as close to quirkless as one could get without being quirkless, had tied for first in the entrance exam to the most challenging fucking hero school in the country! Take that, Deku.

That day had been the best of his life so far. Mitsuki had made rich, spicy, thick curry that she ladled over steaming, sticky rice with lots of beef and carrots for dinner that night, and Katsuki had trouble holding back peals of laughter when he snuck a bowl up to his room for the cat, who hated spicy foods, and coughed most of it up in the bathtub. Along with a fair mound of cat hair. It was actually kind of gross. As was the overwhelming amount of milk they forced Katsuki to give them afterwards.

And then school came the next day, and the windows of the house of Katsuki’s pride were smashed in.

It was Deku. The pine tree ass motherfucker had tied with him somehow. At first Katsuki couldn’t even believe it. He thought it was some kind of sick joke someone was playing on him. But the way Deku was hiding from Katsuki was proof enough. They hadn’t spoken to each other, besides exchanging some words before the exam, in almost a year, and the asshole was hiding from him, just like old times. Like he knew just how furious Katsuki was, but he really fucking didn’t. He could never understand the blood and sweat Katsuki had poured into preparing for that entrance exam, or even just the work he’d put into his martial arts practice every day since he was six years old. He also, apparently, couldn’t understand just how much Katsuki had been leaning on the fact that Deku wouldn’t get in.

The cat was scratching its claws on the classroom window, trying to get his attention. He knew what they wanted to say, what they wanted to try and drill into his skull before he did something he regretted, and he fucking knew already that if he tried anything shifty, Deku would tell everyone his secret. That was the only possible explanation for anything Deku did anymore. He could piss Katsuki off all he wanted, fill him like a water balloon until he was nearly bursting with bright, murderous rage, and Katsuki couldn’t do anything unless he wanted everyone to find out what he really was. And he couldn’t handle that, couldn’t handle the thought of anyone judging him for such a soft, useless quirk.

Deku probably thought it was fun, making him feel so destructive without the means to fix it.

There was another high-pitched grating of claws against the window, and a bunch of students cringed at the noise. Katsuki laid his head on his arms. Deku somehow tricked the exam and tied with him, shoving him into a corner, and he couldn’t do a thing about it. He suddenly felt very tired.

Katsuki couldn’t focus very well for the rest of the day, anger mounting and giving way to regret and shame, which just piled more and more anger on him as the afternoon progressed. He found himself at the dojo, fifteen minutes after school ended, panting and barely remembering his flat-out sprint there. Five minutes found him dressed in a pair of camo basketball shorts and a loose ‘Captain Marvel’ tank top, doing some warm up stretches in preparation for a sparring session with one of his favourite sensei, while the cat watched from the edge of the room, careful to stay out of the way.

His sensei’s name was Kasai Haruhi, and she was a hundred and twenty pounds of strategic thinking, spite, and red bull. She was fairly tall, slender, and had quite a bit of muscle for a thirty-year-old. Her hair was short, undercut, and a gleaming washed out red, and her eyes were an extremely pale green. Her quirk let her boil water; something that was good for cooking at first glance, but also something that could have led her down the path of a hero or a villain if she had of wished it to. Katsuki remembered being scolded with the words ‘the human body is seventy percent water’ the first couple times he’d met her, as a young, hotheaded brat, but he could never remember her actually using her quirk on him before. They’d butted heads a lot in the beginning, Katsuki being able to push every single one of Kasai-sensei’s buttons and bring out the rare anger she held inside, but they’d grown to respect each other eventually. She was one of the only people who could get away with calling his shit, and actually leave enough of an impression for him to take her words to heart, something that was a little ironic, considering Kasai was a woman of few words.

They’d also had many prank wars, where Kasai would use her quirk to mess with him, and Katsuki would secretly send his animals to set up traps for her. Katsuki saw her as more of a parent than his own mom, and she was often the one who took him in when Mitsuki locked him out of the house.

Katsuki shook himself out of his thoughts, something he’d been trying to do all day, and let go of his anger in one, large breath. If Mitsuki knew how much she had to thank the dojo for helping calm her son, stopping him from exploding even more than he already did at home, Katsuki knew he’d probably be sleeping at the place. He opened his eyes and dropped into a ready stance. Across from him, he could see Kasai-sensei’s sea foam eyes narrow under her auburn eyebrows. He could feel her examining him, looking for any clues he might be dropping to tell her why he was so pissed off. He hated it, despised when she examined him like the contents of a petri dish under a microscope.

He threw his leg up in a smooth high kick, aiming for her head, twisting away with the grace of a dancer when she reacted quickly, going to grab his ankle. The two circled each other, and Katsuki could see Kasai growing impatient. He watched closely for her tells, noticing her shin tighten a second before she threw herself foreword, her fists flying out fast, but lacking any real power. Katsuki dodged them anyway, and went for another high kick, which she ducked.

“Back! Go Back!” Katsuki could hear the cat yowling from the sidelines, and he hastily jumped back, Kasai’s fist striking the air right in front of him, where he’d been a quarter-second earlier. He could see her eyes widen slightly.

The pair went back to circling each other slowly. Katsuki could feel his irritation mounting in every single second they spent doing nothing and she stared at him with a calculating look in her eyes. He forced himself forward, throwing fists that she blocked every time. And he still couldn’t focus, not even on what he was best at. Kasai landed a quick, but firm hit on his shoulder, forcing him to stumble back a step, before backing off. Katsuki’s scowl deepend. He wanted to fight, he wanted to win, but he couldn’t think about anything other than the exam rankings. If it had been anyone other than Deku… but no, it wasn’t and being angry about it wasn’t going to change anything.

Katsuki let out another slow breath, forcing his fury out of his lungs. His vision became a bit sharper, as some of his focus returned. He made eye contact with Kasai-sensei, and feigned a right hook, using the distraction to land a powerful kick on her left side. He aimed another low kick, which she blocked, and sent another fluid punch towards her stomach. She grabbed his wrist, and redirected it to the side, before pulling his entire body forward by his shoulder, and flipping him over her back.

He landed on his back hard, knocking the breath out of him, and she was on him in an instant, holding down his limbs, blocking his escape. He sighed, and his head fell back against the foam mat. Kasai nimbly lifted off of him, and he could hear her sit down beside him. She was waiting, he knew, for him to start explaining himself, but he didn’t think he could. She was probably confused, and he wouldn’t blame her. He usually told her a lot, and whenever he came in with a red face and a need to spar, she would help him work off his anger first before he could say anything. But it was different this time. Because he felt like his victory had been stolen from him. Because it was Deku. And he really didn’t want to admit it, because he’d tried his hardest, but he was ashamed. He didn’t know if there was anything more he could have done to prepare, but if someone else, someone so weak could suddenly rise to his skill level so quickly, didn’t that make him weaker than he thought?

The cat padded over a few seconds later, and sat on his chest, looking down at him blankly with an amber gaze, watching him as he worked to get his breathing under control, which was ragged from the fight, and from trying to keep his frustration and shame inside. After a couple minutes of lying there, the cat jumped off of him, and he heard Kasai-sensei shift beside him.

“Hey Hatsu,” he looked up to see her offering a hand. “Wanna go again?”

 

Katsuki spent the rest of the evening, and a good portion of the night sparring with her.

 

----------

 

The rest of the school year and the break following it was awful. Once everyone found out that weak, quirkless Deku had tied first with Katsuki in the exam, no one was happy for him anymore. Not that he wanted that now, anyway. But people stopped looking at him in awe in general, like the results were just a reminder now that Katsuki may be strong, but he was still quirkless, and if Deku could catch up to him, maybe he wasn’t as strong as he seemed.  It was like the fact that Deku achieved it made it less special and impressive.

Katsuki was constantly frustrated, spending more and more time at the dojo to work out his anger, at the guidance of the cat, because he didn’t want to end up doing something he’d regret. Something that might end in Deku telling everyone his secret.

Mitsuki started getting upset with him again, seeming to have some issue with him coming home sweaty and tired, only to eat and sleep. And he almost understood why she was upset. But then he would think about the results, and his need to do something productive would come back again, and before he knew it he’d be getting home at 12 AM again, to a locked door or a screaming mother.

It only made him more determined to spend his time away from home.

 

Three of the crows from the entrance exam started sitting in on his martial arts classes and sparring sessions, tossing him supportive comments and suggestions. Or at least, that’s what Katsuki thought they were. He didn’t know what language ‘GO’N START A BEAT DOWN, HOMIE, YOU AIGHT FINNA WIN AT THIS POINT YOLO’ was, though, so he couldn’t really be an accurate translator. To him, talking to the crows was what he thought a person without his quirk must feel like when they talked to animals. He almost doubted his quirk sometimes because of them.

Keeping himself distracted and avoiding Deku kept him busy, so busy that his summer break passed by in what felt like a week. He’d basically just started living with Kasai-sensei towards the end of the summer break, since her house was only a five-minute walk from the dojo, and it was close to a park where he liked to jog.

On one night, a week before the first day of school, Katsuki was at the gym, sparring with Kasai-sensei. He’d been feeling off all day, through his training. His head had been pounding when he woke up and thinking felt like trying to see through candy floss. His entire body carried a dull ache, and he knew he’d overworked himself. To be honest, he was surprised it had taken this long. Maybe it was another sign that he was weak.

He didn’t tell Kasai - she was a stickler for resting when you needed to rest, and if he stopped, even for a second, he didn’t know that he would be able to start up again. His body might not let him. And then he would be wasting precious time that could be spent getting stronger. Deku might beat him again.

Kasai distracted him with a punch to the arm and grabbed his wrist, pulling him forward and cuffed him on the back of the head. Stunned for a moment, he didn’t react when she pushed him towards the ground, face-first, and sat on his back to prevent him getting up. She was light, but it didn’t stop him from getting irritated.

 

“Get off of me you fucking match stick!” He grumbled into the yoga mat as she pushed down on the back of his head to keep him where he was.

“Katsuki,” she said, voice calm and cool and he froze in his attempt to claw himself out from under her. She never called him by his actual name, only stupid explosion-themed nicknames referring to his temper. She liked to say that it was a reminder that he needed to stop being a little bitch and grow up.

“What,” he attempted to say in a standoffish manner, but the effect was ruined when his voice rose towards the end of the word. He cringed inwardly.

“Care to tell me why you’ve been overworking yourself since the Yuuei entrance exam?” She asked in the same, emotionless voice. “You’d think that your ego would let you calm down a bit and soak in the attention. I didn’t think I’d see you at all this summer, but I don’t think you’ve even gone anywhere other than here, the dojo, and my place.”

Katsuki turned his head so he could examine her expression. She looked him straight in the eye, and the frigid set of her thick eyebrows melted a little bit. “What’s going on?”

Katsuki tried to be defiant, but for once, when he reached for his frustration, it wasn’t there. He was strong, he knew he was strong, so why couldn’t anyone else see it? He was tired, and he didn’t try to stop the words falling out of his mouth like pebbles down a waterfall. Kasai just sat there silently and listened.

When he finished talking, she didn’t offer any advice, and he didn’t expect her to. She wasn’t good with words, not that Katsuki was either (although he wouldn’t admit it out loud). Kasai liked to use her actions to show others how she felt, so when Katsuki finished talking, she stopped pinning him, and pulled him to his feet. She pointed to the cat, sitting on the sidelines beside a window, dozing in the honey light of the sunset, and he knew what she was telling him. That he needed to stop flipping out and calm the fuck down and hug a cat or something since she wasn’t going to be offering any time soon.

Maybe he would take her advice.

 

He only showed up at home the night before the first day of school. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or a bit disappointed to find the house empty.

 

Chapter Text

Mitsuki was there when Katsuki woke up the next morning, sitting at the kitchen table reading a fashion magazine and drinking a cup of coffee. She looked up as he entered the room, sunlight from the window resting on her face, and making her sharp angles softer. The backlight made her silhouette glow, and she looked so much more peaceful than usual. Katsuki walked closer to the table, the cat trotting at his heels, and he could tell by the look in her eyes that Masaru had spoken to her about him. Or something. Her cardinal eyes looked a bit duller, but still bright, like she was aware she’d done something wrong, but didn’t exactly want to admit it.

“C’mere,” she said, putting down her coffee, and gesturing for her son to sit down. He complied, silently for once, not wanting to start something the morning of an already sure to be stressful day. She reached out after he’d sat down on her left, and he had to force himself to sit still and not flinch when she rested her hand on his shoulder. He clenched his hands into fists. He could tell she noticed when her expression took on a guiltier light, and he looked away quickly, not knowing how to react.

Mitsuki let out a sigh, and took her hand back, metal bracelets clanging together faintly as she moved her arm. The cat jumped up into his lap, hidden by the table, and glared at Mitsuki. Katsuki had to poke them hard in the side to make them stop. 

Mitsuki looked back down at her magazine and took in a slow puff of air as if gathering her nerves. She let out her breath in a puff, and Katsuki looked back up at her.

“I’m sorry.” She started with, keeping a close eye on her son. “I know I’m not a good mother. I know I haven’t been for a long time. And I’m sorry.”

Katsuki didn’t speak, but he kept his eye on her face as she planned out her next sentence. He didn’t know what to make of the situation; his mother had never apologized like this before. She always sent his dad or did something small; like doing his laundry, cleaning his room, or cooking a food he really liked, and even then, it was rare. Mitsuki never apologized, so this was completely new territory.

His mother’s blonde brows furrowed, and she looked frustrated. Whether it was with him or herself, Katsuki couldn’t be sure.

“It’s been a bit of a mess around here for a while,” she said, finally, and Katsuki was annoyed. A bit was a huge understatement. Mitsuki seemed to realize this in the way his eyes hardened slightly, and she looked a little affronted. “Okay, Katsuki, I’m trying to apologize for shit, but you’re not even taking this seriously!”

“I didn’t even say anything!” Katsuki said in frustration. The cat’s light pressure on his lap grounded him a bit, and he sucked in the rest of a frigid sentence he’d been about to snarl. The cat bumped their head against his stomach.

“I try, I really do, and this is what I get? Lip and sass?” Mitsuki stood up quickly and marched over to the fridge. She threw the door open, grabbed a bag out of it, and slammed it shut before stomping back over to the table, and throwing the bag at Katsuki. He caught it right before it could hit him in the face.

“I’m trying to fucking apologize and tell you I’m fucking proud of you, you brat!” she screeched, ears red, and Katsuki could see tears at the edges of her eyes. She stood there for a moment, trembling slightly as she tried to reign in her temper, before turning abruptly, and leaving the room.

The silence rang for a couple moments after her less than polite departure, and it was only at the cats prompting that Katsuki opened the bag.

“You two seem to have gone in a circle again,” the cat observed, as Katsuki looked down at the pork tonkatsu and cabbage stuffed bento.

----------

Getting to school was easy, as was avoiding Deku. Katsuki just took an earlier subway to school, which the cat followed him on. The early morning nervousness reminded him of the morning of the entrance exam, especially with the stiffness the cat still portrayed sitting inside of a moving vehicle. Usually, the cat didn’t follow him to school, they did have their own life, after all. But lately, Katsuki thought, they’d been following him around more and more often. It was kind of strange, now that he’d thought about it.

“Why are you fucking following me?” he asked, disguising his curiosity in aggression.

“Well...” the cat started, ears twitching as they gathered their thoughts. Katsuki felt himself getting impatient.

“Well?”

“I wanted to talk to you about your quirk,” the cat muttered, sounding unsure of themself for the first time that Katsuki had ever heard. “I mean, as a hero, shouldn’t you use everything you can? And if me and some other animals want to help, shouldn’t we be allowed to?”

“It’s useless!” Katsuki said, surprised. “And I don’t want anyone to see me like that!”

“Like what?” the cat asked, defiantly.

“Like some kind of fucking... Disney princess or something! It’s pathetic!” he could feel his temper rising, but he didn’t really care. The cat had always seemed to understand his reasoning behind not using his quirk before, had they been lying and laughing at him behind his back?

“So, it’s pathetic that you’re even able to talk to me?” The cat asked, voice steely but still composed.

“Yes! What part of that is so hard to understand!”

“The part,” the cat began, voice ringing out in the empty car, “where you used me, and the birds to get into Yuuei, despite the fact that you apparently don’t like us! And the part where I’ve been your only friend for a large fucking portion of your life, but you’re always acting like you wish you couldn’t talk to me!”

The cat was standing on all four paws now, hackles raised, ears flattened against their head, and tail lashing out behind them. Katsuki hadn’t ever seen them so angry before, and he knew he’d made a mistake. He didn’t mean it in that way, sure the cat was a fucking menace sometimes, but Katsuki had never wanted them gone before, but even as the subway slowed to a stop and the doors slid open, he couldn’t think of anything to say. He watched the cat spring off the chair they’d been hissing at him from and stalk out of the car. It took a second for Katsuki to get up and follow them. He didn’t see them again at all on the rest of his quiet, depressing walk to school.

Finding his classroom was simple, with the huge-ass 1-A basically making up the door. Katsuki shoved the door open and stalked inside, glancing around the empty room quickly, and letting out a small puff of relief. He found his desk quickly, taking the piece of paper with his name on it from the table and forming it into an airplane to distract himself. He threw his feet up on the desk and took aim for the garbage can at the entrance of the room when-

“Excuse me, what are you trying to do?”

Katsuki let the airplane go, and watched it sail smoothly through the air and hit a tall, stocky boy who moved to try and snatch it out of the air straight in the middle of his large, square forehead. He felt a smirk overtake his face, as the airplane fell to the floor, and the dark-haired boy leaned down to pick it up, a vein pulsing in his temple. The smirk widened. It’d been a while since the cat hadn’t been around holding him back.

The boy ranted at him about how rude and disrespectful he was being, and Katsuki actually had some fun riling him up even more.

Then Deku entered the room, and Katsuki’s budding good mood plummeted. His entertainment left to go drool over the shorter boy’s shoes, and suddenly he was alone again, which was something he really should’ve been used to by then. Though, he wasn’t ever really alone, was he? The cat always made sure of that.

He pushed away the guilt that rose up in his throat, threatening to choke him, and turned his attention to the desks that were slowly filling up around him.

Beside him sat a blond boy with cat-like eyes and a black, lightning shaped highlight in his fringe. He winked at Katsuki with a golden eye, and Katsuki turned away scowling. A girl, completely pink walked in the room, followed by a familiar redhead with spiked up hair like a hedgehog. Katsuki watched the redhead for a second, curiously, trying to remember where he’d seen him before, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t ever remember seeing someone with hair that shitty. And then the boy saw him and grinned, a full set of sharp white teeth on display.

“Shark Week,” Katsuki muttered, almost surprised, as the redhead made his way over to Katsuki’s desk. I shouldn’t be so shocked, Katsuki mused, he was really fucking strong. The boy’s smile widened when he heard the nickname.

“Yo! Bakugou!” he chuckled as he approached. “I guess it makes sense that you got in too! I heard you tied for first in the entrance exam!”

“Why is your hair so shit.” Katsuki deadpanned, and Shark Week broke off into loud, boisterous laughter. “No seriously, I can’t call you Shark Week anymore, your hair is so dumb.”

Shitty Hair’s ruby eyes were dancing, and he looked like he was about to reply, when a drawling voice caught everyone’s attention from the doorway.

“If you’re here to socialize, then get out. This is the hero course.”

Katsuki couldn’t even see anyone at the door from where he was sitting, so he was a little surprised when a man with messy dark hair in a plush yellow sleeping bag stood up, and sleepily pulled himself out of his blanketed prison.

The exhausted-looking man introduced himself as Aizawa-sensei, yawning every couple minutes, and Katsuki was suddenly struck by how deep this guy’s eyebags were. He could relate.

Aizawa-sensei told them all to change into their gym uniforms and meet him on the training grounds, before immediately leaving the room, and when Katsuki looked over at Shitty Hair, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet with barely contained excitable energy. He looked just as determined and pumped up as he had during the entrance exam, like a huge golden retriever or something, and Katsuki kind of wanted to grin. So he did; a large smirk taking over his features. He stood up, grabbing his gym uniform from his bag, and headed towards the door.

“Come on, Shitty Hair, move your ass.”

“Bro, really? When’re you gonna call me by my actual name? It’s Kirishima!”

When Katsuki turned his head to see if Kirishima Shitty Hair was following, he made split-second eye contact with the rosy-skinned girl who had been chatting with the red-head when they’d walked in. She smirked at him knowingly, and he snarled, completely confused but not wanting to show it.

----------

When everyone was finally changed and prepared for the class, the students all met out on the training grounds in the bright, morning sunlight. Katsuki would have been just as excited as the rest of the students, except for the fact that he could see the cat slinking along the sidelines of the field, their dark fur glinting in the sunlight like oil on water. Why were they still around?

Katsuki wasn’t able to force himself to focus until he heard Deku start squeaking about how they were going to test their quirks, and, if Katsuki had no self-respect, he probably would’ve been squeaking right along with him. But he had to remember that he was different than Deku. He was stronger. His base strength was probably stronger than most of the people in the class, excusing the guy with 6 arms. Maybe Shitty Hair as well, now that he was thinking about it; the other boy had bulked up a fair bit since the entrance exams.

Aizawa met the class out on the field, still looking every bit as exhausted as he had inside. He explained how the quirk testing would work, and Katsuki let his attention roam for a little, seeing the cat again, sitting in the shade under a nearby tree. A couple of crows were sitting above them, perched in the foliage. They were chatting amongst themselves, but they were too far away for Katsuki to hear what they were saying. Not that he'd be able to understand them even if he was able to hear them. Suddenly, Aizawa-sensei was calling his name.

“Bakugou, how far could you throw in middle school?”

“Seventy-four metres,” Katsuki said slowly. “Why?”

“I want you to try throwing this with your quirk,” Aizawa said, tossing a softball towards him, which he caught easily. “Do whatever you need to do, just stay in that circle over there.”

Katsuki followed the surprisingly dainty looking finger towards a patch of grass with a circle of white paint shaped on it.

“Sensei,” Katsuki grumbled, rolling his eyes, “I don’t have a fucking quirk.”

Katsuki heard Deku gasp, as if he’d never heard Katsuki swear in front of a teacher before, and he had to force himself to refrain from rolling his eyes again.

“My apologies,” Aizawa grunted, “But do your best anyway, let’s see if you’ve improved since middle school. Also,” The dark-haired man turned so he was facing the entire class, “The person to get the lowest overall physical score can escort themselves off campus after this. I will not tolerate anyone who thinks they can become a hero without physical training.” he then turned back towards Katsuki, making eye contact, a challenge glinting in his dark eyes. "It'll be a good way to prove you have what it takes to make it as a hero."

Katsuki could feel a smirk taking over his face as he turned back to the empty field. Maybe he didn't have a quirk good for heroics, but he was definitely meant to be here. He could never back down from a direct challenge.

 

 

Katsuki stepped into the circle of the pitch, smirking to himself. From behind him on the field, he could hear Deku’s mumbling, and the moron’s monotonous buzzing irritated him enough for his grin to fall slightly. He saw the cat shifting out of the corner of his eye, and he did his best to block out the muttering and focus. He winded his arm back, exaggerating the movement a bit to stretch out the muscles in his arm, the remains of his grin dripping quickly off of his face as he aimed, and he whipped the ball towards the outfield, gritting his teeth silently all the while. The ball flew quickly through the air before it hit the ground across the field, landing in the grass with an audible thump. Katsuki looked quickly over to Aizawa-sensei, who was looking down at a small screen he was holding. He turned the screen around, and Katsuki’s heart lightened a bit.

“81.6 metres.” Aizawa said clearly, in the most underwhelmed voice Katsuki had ever heard.

“7.6 metres difference from a year ago, through physical training alone?” Katsuki heard Deku murmur behind him, and then there was Shitty Hair, “That’s so manly!”

He could feel the corners of his lips raise a little, as he shoved down a smile.

“And now, Midoriya, you were the other one who tied first, correct?”

Deku nodded, and Katsuki took the opportunity to make his way back over to the group of students, stopping beside Shitty Hair, and that pink girl from earlier.

“That was so cool, Bakugou!” she screeched in his ear when he stopped beside them, and he cringed away from her.

“Who the fuck’re you?” he grumbled, and she huffed.

“Ashido Mina, sorry I haven’t gotten the chance to introduce myself before! It has been a while!” Raccoon Eyes said cheerfully, bouncing up and down lightly in excitement.

“What do you mean it’s been a while? I’ve never seen you before today, you fucking conspiracy theory!”

“You freaking saw me at the entrance exam, dude, not cool! Back when you were staring at-“ she saw Katsuki’s eyes widen a little bit, and her sentence broke off into a mischievous smirk. “Oh,” she murmured, dark eyes glinting with laughter. Shitty Hair just looked at her in confusion.

“Shut the fuck up and go die.” Katsuki said definitively, confused about why the stupid-ass raccoon was acting so weirdly, but not really wanting her to tell Shitty Hair he’d been staring at him for no reason. Raccoon Eyes just giggled ominously, smirk taking on a darker look as she stared Katsuki straight in the eye. Never one to back down from a challenge, Katsuki glared back, and the staring contest was only broken when Aizawa-sensei called for everyone’s attention at the front of the field, where Deku was waiting in the circle, and even then, Raccoon Eyes looked away first. Ahh, sweet victory.

“I wonder how far he’ll throw?” Shitty Hair said, nudging Raccoon Eyes and Katsuki in the arms.

Katsuki could see Deku calm himself, taking a deep breath, and he rolled his eyes. “Just get it over with, nerd,” me muttered under his breath.

Deku winded back his arm slowly, and threw, with all his might.

“46 metres.” Aizawa read out, and Katsuki grinned.

“Why didn’t he use his quirk?” Shitty Hair wondered aloud.

“Because he doesn’t have one.” Katsuki said harshly. “He’s quirkless too. I have no idea how the shitty nerd even got in.”

“’Quirkless?’” Raccoon Eyes (what was her name again?) questioned, looking at Katsuki in confusion. “Did you not hear about what he did in the entrance exam?”

The conversation was broken off by Aizawa speaking again.

“I erased your quirk,” he said, voice ringing out above all of the idle chatter. “That ridiculous entrance exam…” he paused for a moment, his white scarf raising around him with his dark, dark hair, eyes glowing red, “completely irrational when you consider that someone like you got in.” And Katsuki wanted to laugh, because this was the now recognizable hero Eraserhead telling stupid Deku that he wasn’t worth shit.

Eraserhead’s next sentences were quiet, though, and Katsuki couldn’t hear what was being spoken between the two, especially when the pro hero used his capture weapon to grab Deku and pull him closer.

The moment was over in seconds, though, and Deku was free and looking subdued yet determined, while Aizawa-sensei’s hair floated back down around his face in dark, thick layers.

“You have your quirk back… let’s get this over with.”

Raccoon Eyes didn’t even interrupt this time, as Deku muttered to himself, too invested in what was going on, and then Deku was winding up for another throw again, but something was different this time - his arm… was shining? And Katsuki watched, shocked, as the glowing lines of power concentrated solely on his fingertip and he almost let go of the ball and used the last finger to flick it away with outstanding force. The air pressure changed with the blast of the ball, leaving Katsuki feeling lightheaded for a couple seconds, and Deku’s finger… it looked broken. Or at least insanely bruised

“705.3 metres,” Aizawa read out, voice more excited than Katsuki had heard it all morning, and Katsuki suddenly felt like he’d been thrust underwater. The voices around him became garbled, and he couldn’t breathe properly. Deku couldn’t possibly have a quirk… Katsuki would’ve known. He would’ve found out like Deku found out about his, right?

...Or would he have? He could feel the colour draining from his face, and his hands start to shake as he clenched them into fists. It couldn’t be true, there’s no way it could be true, Deku was weak and always had been weak! Katsuki had never seen him do anything like that before in his life. But he had always been clever; had Deku just been sitting around laughing at Katsuki and his stupid quirk since he found out last fucking year?

“Bakugou?” someone called his name, and suddenly sound returned, and it’s loud… too loud. Katsuki looked around quickly, to see that everyone was still chatting excitedly, no one had noticed his mini mental breakdown, and he turned to look at Kirishima, who looked slightly worried, short, dark eyebrows curled down wearily. “Are you okay?”

Katsuki turned away from him, embarrassed.

“Leave me alone.”

Deku… he’d always been quirkless. And yeah, in a way, so had Katsuki, but it wasn’t fair. Katsuki’s quirk could never let him throw a ball seven hundred and five fucking metres, and suddenly Deku had one that could? There’s no way he could’ve hidden something like that from Katsuki, something so much more in-your-face than talking to animals. Katsuki is struck again by a note of self-hatred. He’d been counting on beating out Deku, being able to laugh at the difference in their power, what if Katsuki came in last now? He would get his dreams crushed… all because he didn’t have a quirk that enhanced his physical abilities. Was all of his work over the last seven years of his life for nothing?

He barely heard Aizawa-sensei when he announced the first event, the fifty-metre dash, and he quickly shook off his thoughts. He couldn’t lie to himself anymore and tell himself he was the best, no matter how much he desperately wanted to be, but he still had to try. The invisible girl – she didn’t have a quirk that helped her strength levels, nor did that purple child that someone seemed to have brought to class with them. Katsuki let himself breathe.

He could do this.

----------

The physical tests went by quickly, Katsuki gaining back more and more of his confidence back with every single segment. It was easy, when he realized that most people’s quirks either couldn’t directly help them win, or their users were just too dumb to realize their many uses. There was also the fact that Deku didn’t use his quirk again. Katsuki was feeling a lot more like himself towards the end of the last test; it had helped a lot to see how much he’d improved since the last time he’d participated in a fitness test. He was also much more well-rounded than most, since many of them – if they used their quirks for anything – were only strengthened in one area.

What had not helped at all, and had almost worked against him, were the animals. The crows, the cat, some squirrels, and even a turkey vulture that had been circling aimlessly above were helping out Mount Rushmore… what was his name? Katsuki didn’t know and didn’t particularly care. What he did care about were the crows and the cat - his... acquaintances? Who was he kidding, they were definitely friends at this point – helping him out so much. He still wasn’t doing that well, to be honest, but the fact that the cat was so angry with him that they’d convinced some of the other animals to help someone else just pissed him off. It was sneaky, like how the mourning doves had helped Deku in the entrance exam, and Katsuki hated it. Though he kind of felt like he deserved it.

When Aizawa finally put up the listings, Katsuki found his name in fifth place, right below someone named Iida, and right above Shitty Hair. Deku was in sixteenth, and apparently the purple child that Katsuki had seen earlier was actually a student, not just someone’s little brother, and he placed last, which Aizawa expelled him for.

Katsuki could see people around him looking at him in surprise, probably wondering how a quirkless guy could beat seventy-five percent of them, Katsuki thought smugly, and he didn’t even flinch when Shitty Hair’s large hand came down on his shoulder.

“Dude, that was so cool! You came fifth even without a quirk!” Kirishima said, red eyes gleaming. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Tch,” he muttered. “I better have, if I’m going to be the best.”

Then he saw the cat trotting up to him, looking freaked out, and he stiffened slightly. The cat didn’t get scared often, something that Katsuki’d known to be consistently true ever since he'd met them. And they looked extremely startled, hackles raised, eyes wide and fearful.

“Katsu, please come with me,” The cat said in a low mrow. Katsuki nodded slightly, looking away from them quickly. Kirishima laughed when he saw the cat.

“You brought it again?” He chuckled. “Is that even allowed?”

“Who fucking cares,” Katsuki sighed, as he picked up the animal. “I have to go feed them.”

Then he walked away, leaving Shitty Hair guffawing behind him. When he was far enough away from the group, around the corner where they couldn’t see him, he stopped and sat, leaning against some concrete steps, leading back up to the main buildings. He set the cat down, who let out a loud mrr, and the crows came flying out of nowhere. They landed on the railing, perching in a line. A squirrel scurried over from a nearby tree and perched on his shoulder. They all sat there in silence for a beat, before Katsuki let out a long sigh.

“Weren’t you mad at me?” He asked, looking towards the cat.

The cat didn’t answer right away, looking down at their paws, ears twitching. “I still kind of am,” they said finally, looking up at him and meeting his eyes. “But I have more of an understanding of where you’re coming from after that green-haired slime ball threw that ball.”

Katsuki leaned his head against his knees, scowling. “You shouldn’t just... ugh,” he muttered into the fabric of his pants.

“Shouldn’t what?” the cat asked simply, as if the answer was an easy one. Katsuki’s fingers clenched into fists.

“Let me get away with saying stuff like that just because you ‘understand me’.” He grumbled. The cat let out a low noise that could’ve been a sigh. “You’re impossible.” They said, and the grin was prominent in their voice. “It’s fine, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.”

Katsuki raised his head from his knees and looks around at the animals. “So is this about how you convinced all of them,” he gestured towards the birds and the squirrel, “to help that dude out because you were mad at me?”

The cat’s ears twitched at that, and their tail lashed out behind them nervously. “I didn’t,” they said truthfully, “I think it’s his quirk. He commanded us to do something, and we couldn’t make ourselves stop.”

The middle crow shivered, feathers ruffling as she righted herself again. “Dat was da scariest thing any homie has ever done to me I high-key don’t care who fuck knows, my mans.”

“I’m not your fucking ‘mans’, whatever the hell that means,” Katsuki said on impulse.

“S-sorry!” the squirrel squeaked from his shoulder. “I-we didn’t want-t to bo-bother you!”

“It’s okay, J, it’s fine, he doesn’t care,” the cat said soothingly, and Katsuki was struck by the strangeness of the situation when the squirrel chilled the fuck out after being comforted by a fucking cat.

“So, he can’t talk to or understand you guys, but he can force you to do what he wants?” Katsuki asked, trying to get back on topic.

“I think so,” the cat hissed lowly, shuddering slightly, ears flattening to their head, before seemingly calming themself down. “We don’t know if there’s anything we can do to counter it, so we just wanted to let you know so that you could be on your guard.”

“Definitely -“ Katsuki started to say, when Deku rounded the corner. Instantly, Katsuki could feel a glower line his features and he rolled his eyes, as Deku skidded to a stop, seeing Katsuki sitting there with a cat in front of him, three crows on the railing next to him, and a squirrel on his shoulder. The animals dispersed quickly, the cat giving him a meaningful look before they darted away, and Katsuki was left alone with Deku, who’s awkward twitching was starting to piss Katsuki off more than his mumbling. He ignored the boy, slowly getting to his feet and walking back the way he came.

“Kacchan! W-wait!” Deku called after him, and Katsuki stopped in his tracks. He stood there, waiting for the asshole to respond, and it took a couple seconds before Deku realized he wasn't going to get a verbal response. “I came to find you because everyone’s going back to the change rooms, also –“ “Was it fun?” Katsuki interrupted, and Deku’s words stumbled to a stop.

“Wh-what?”

“Knowing all this time that your quirk is so much stronger than mine?” Katsuki said, voice void of emotion. He didn’t want to end up screaming, so he forced it all down, all the anger, sadness, embarrassment; he didn’t need any of it right now. His day had just started, and he was already exhausted. He was so... tired of being tired all the time. “Nevermind, I don’t want to know.”

And he walked away.

 

 

The rest of the day flew by in a whirlwind of people. Katsuki found himself swept along in all of the excitement of the first day, keeping to himself more often than not. It was overwhelming, just how different Yuuei seemed from his middle school experience, and he’d only been a student for a couple hours of it. Here, nobody knew anything about him, and while that was great that nobody could fault him for Deku’s weakness, it was awful that the only thing his fellow classmates knew about him was that he was quirkless. They probably all thought he was weak, but it didn’t matter because he would prove them wrong.

The classes were very different as well, even the ones not associated with heroics such as science and math were taught alongside how they could help them once they graduated and joined or formed their own hero agencies.

But there was another area that was much more different. Katsuki didn’t know how to interact with anyone, he kind of didn’t want to, though this wasn’t something new. He knew he needed friends sometimes – the cat had proven that ten times over, but he didn’t really desire them. To him, friends mostly seemed like people you hung around and helped so that they would do things for you in return, and it didn’t seem worth it, to be honest. Katsuki did have to admit, though, that it was weird being in a new setting and not knowing anyone, despite it being a factor of high school that had excited him before. He did sort of know Shitty Hair, but the guy was downright strange. He seemed to actually like being around Katsuki, something the ash-blond couldn’t quite believe or comprehend, but the guy was so genuine that it was hard to think up any hidden intentions the red-head could have, or anything he might gain from being all buddy-buddy with Katsuki. He appeared to enjoy it when Katsuki responded to his playful banter with snarky retorts, letting out loud, full-bellied laughs when he found something particularly witty. It grew easier to be around him as the day went on, as the boy came over to his desk to chat with Katsuki (or more, chat at him) during breaks and was content to sit there and blabber away about random subjects. He talked a lot about his dog.

It still felt awkward, though, and Katsuki didn’t think that would change anytime soon. Shitty Hair wanted him around for whatever reason, Katsuki had never met anyone who didn’t hang around him either because they were forced to or because they found him tough or strong. The cat had been his only friend for literal years, and if the way they seemed to run off and ignore him for days to weeks to months at a time was any proof, Katsuki wasn’t that good of a friend. He’d never been that good at reading people, much better at interpreting the lash of a tail or the twitch of a feathered head, and even then, he was awful at communicating. So, he didn’t understand Hair-for-Brains, and he kind of wanted to avoid him despite the disgusting warm feeling he felt in his chest whenever the freckled boy snickered at something he’d said.

Knowing this, Katsuki was surprised and incredibly confused to find himself sitting at a picnic table with the boy, the cat draped around his shoulders like a scarf at lunch, munching on his pork and cabbage, and yanking his bento away whenever Shitty Hair’s wooden grocery store chopsticks got too close.

“But it looks so good, Bakugou!” the redhead wined, mock pouting. Katsuki gestured towards the egg salad sandwich grasped in the red head’s freckled left hand, eyebrow raised, and the cat let out their weird hiss-purring laugh, rumbling against the back of his neck as Shitty Hair groaned, flopping down onto the table. He was so close that Katsuki could see the dark of his roots, where it changed from black to violent ruby red. His hair looked so soft despite the intense spikes it was styled in, something that shouldn’t be fucking possible with how much product he probably used, and Katsuki wanted to touch it. And his hand was moving, across the table, inching closer to the fluffy strands of scarlet hair, when Shitty Hair jumped up, screeching in victory, a piece of Katsuki’s pork tonkatsu skewered on the end of his chopstick, causing Katsuki to jump and pull his hand back quickly. His carmine eyes glittered with triumph as he smirked, pearly sharp teeth on display as he yelled, and Katsuki could feel his ears warming as he blushed, not quite understanding why. He turned his head away quickly as Shitty Hair chomped down on the pork, breaking his chopstick in his shipwreck of a mouth. Katsuki felt himself snort, and before he could stop himself he was braying as the other boy’s excitement quickly turned to pain as he fanned his mouth at the spice level, his whole face burning a bright firetruck red, rivalling his hair.

After that lunch, Katsuki resigned himself to Shitty Hair’s (“My name is Kirishima! Stop pretending you don’t know it already!”) company after the next day found him in Shitty Hair’s presence at lunch again (still confused as to how it happened). It was nice, strangely enough, sitting there talking to him with the cat putting in snarky one-liners that Katsuki had to pretend he didn’t hear, though sometimes he couldn’t stop himself from sniggering. But of course it didn’t last, and the pink girl - Raccoon Eyes - showed up halfway through the lunch break on Wednesday, sitting down right next to Shitty Hair, pale rosy skin popping next to the red-heads tanned arms.

Actively trying (at the cat’s insistence) to participate in a conversation with one person was hard enough, and adding another person into the equation really threw Katsuki off. If he wasn’t, well, himself, he probably would’ve just given up and left their lunch table, cut off the both of the bright-haired morons before they started thinking he wanted to be there, and dealt with the cat’s misplaced griping about how he needed more friends (for some reason), but he was Bakugou Katsuki. Giving up was admitting defeat, and Katsuki was never conquered. Raccoon Eyes was going down. So Katsuki stayed, a bit quieter than before as the cat dozed on his shoulder in the soft sunlight filtering through the leaves above them and focused on his rice and mirin sauce bento.

Shitty Hair and Raccoon Eyes carried the conversation through the rest of lunch, and Katsuki found himself slightly disappointed and frustrated as he followed behind them back to the classroom. The cat trotted beside him, though he was ignoring them at the moment since Raccoon Eyes had been quick to shift her attention to them earlier, lathering them in so much attention and affection that Katsuki had snapped at her for getting so close to him and shoved the flea bag into her waiting arms. The cat had spent the rest of lunch period purring heavily under her stroking, while Katsuki sat there eating his vegetables bitterly. Shitty Hair had snickered at him when they’d made eye contact afterwards, and Katsuki had flipped him off. Obviously.

The cat left him at his classroom door, a claw snagging on the bottom of Katsuki’s pants, and when he looked down, the cat was smirking at him, laughing as their white-tipped tail brushed the floor behind them. Katsuki gave them one unimpressed look before he told them to kindly fuck off before suggesting they shoved an entire cactus up their ass instead of spending their time annoying him. He then turned, snubbing the cat once more, and stomped into the classroom, swiftly taking his seat. The fucking Pikachu impersonator was beside him, surprisingly early, with a boring looking boy with dark hair the colour of soy sauce reaching his shoulders and perfect white teeth grinning against his desk. They apparently didn’t understand that Katsuki had fucking ears, because they were talking about him when he sat down.

 

“Did Bakugou just tell that cat to ‘fuck off’?” Soy Sauce muttered, humour prevalent in his voice and in the lines of his face. Pikachu just smirked.

“I think so, he’s kind of weird. He’s so brood-y in class, but I’ve seen him sitting with Kirishima with that cat sitting on his head at lunch!”

Katsuki’s scowl deepened, and he ground his teeth slightly, as he waited for Soy Sauce’s next response. It took him a moment to connect Kirishima to Shitty Hair, and that didn’t help his mood.

“Well, I mean maybe Kirishima’s trying to help him feel included? He seems really nice, and... well Bakugou kinda seems like a bit of a weirdo and a dick...” Soy Sauce muttered, and Katsuki snapped. He turned in his seat, glaring scathingly at the two boys who froze when they made eye contact.

“Do you have a problem with me?” Katsuki asked gruffly, voice composed and quiet, menacing. He knew it freaked people out more when he didn’t react loudly like they expected him to, though, he thought, none of them have really seen that yet. The cat was really turning him soft.

“U-um, no?” the blond stuttered, looking uncomfortable. Soy Sauce looked similar, a guilty tinge to the way he bit his lip with his straight, white teeth.

“No?” Katsuki asked slowly, tilting his head slightly to the side, expression deadly calm. “You don’t sound too sure there, Pikachu.”

The honey-blond looked stunned for a second, before his expression broke into a wide, amused grin. He had the audacity to laugh, and Katsuki was about to growl out a threat at the asshole, when Aizawa-sensei entered the classroom, looking tired as he had before class, though Katsuki had seen him napping in an alcove over the break. Katsuki snapped his mouth shut and sent Pikachu and Soy Sauce a quick, icy glare that they didn’t seem to take very seriously, before grabbing his binder out of his bag and clueing into the lesson.

It was English, the only subject that he hated with the fury of a thousand fucking suns, the class that wanted him to not only be perfect at communicating in his own language, but wanted him to be able to understand and utilise another language as well, as if he actually wanted to talk to people badly enough to learn their fucking trash language. In his mind, if some dipshit wanted to talk to him desperately enough when he was a hero, they could learn his language. He honestly couldn’t make himself give a shit. English sucked ass.

And it sucked so much more when Aizawa-sensei handed out an assignment to be completed in duos and paired him up with the fucking Pikachu. Katsuki could’ve sworn Aizawa was smirking when he called out their names, and he glared harshly at the teacher who easily eluded his gaze. Like a coward. Katsuki let out a rough sigh as his moron of a neighbour pushed his desk towards Katsuki’s, mimicking those around them in joining the tables to expand their workspace. He sat back down after he finished, Katsuki having left him to do all of the grunt work and let out a slow breath before turning to Katsuki and holding out his hand. Katsuki eyed it wearily.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot,” the boy said, and when Katsuki met his eyes sullenly, he noted copper eyes flashing with humour. “I’m Kaminari Denki! I can conduct and store up electricity pretty well with my quirk.”

Katsuki ignored the hand shifting his eyes to his papers. “Bakugou,” he grunted, as he reached for a pencil. He could practically feel Pikachu’s eyes on him as he tried to ignore him, but it was extremely irritating. “Say whatever you want and get it over with before I tie you to the ceiling by your neck with your large intestine.”

Pikachu let out a shocked laugh. “You’re so prickly!” he snorted, leaning heavily on the table. “Are you actually quirkless?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. He should’ve known that this would’ve been the question. “No,” he said sarcastically, “I’m trying to hide the fact that my real quirk lets me turn into a rubber duck.”

Pikachu snickered at that. “Hey, you’re kind of funny!”

“Fuck off or work.” Katsuki deadpanned.

“Work?” Pikachu asked curiously, looking utterly bewildered, “I’m already done, though!”

 

Katsuki muttered a quick ‘what the fuck’ and snatched the honey-blond’s papers off of his desk, directing his attention to the paper in front of him. It had a paragraph from Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird and ten questions that ranged from themes prevalent in the work to grammar, and Pikachu had answered each question in neatly written full sentences that had Katsuki fuming. He even wrote his letters in fucking cursive. Katsuki couldn’t understand cursive! Who does that?

 

“Are you fucking bilingual or something?”

Pikachu let out a relieved laugh. “That’s all you’re on about? You looked like you were about to follow through on your threat or something! You’ve really gotta chill out with your facial expressions!” He shuffled in his seat looking slightly awkward. “And I’m not really bilingual, I think, I just read a lot of English lit and listen to a lot of English music. I do know a bit of Korean, French, and Spanish, and a tiny bit of Italian as well, though.”

“...How the fuck?” Katsuki muttered to himself, not willing to admit that he was a bit impressed. Languages had never clicked for him, though it could just be his complete refusal to communicate with others overriding his ability to make the connections needed to really understand different tongues, he guessed. Pikachu might actually be a lot smarter than he looked. He felt a small rush of interest, and a smirk slipped onto his face.

“How do you say ‘fuck’ in Korean?”

Pikachu broke down into laughter, banging his fist on the table, and Aizawa had to come over and yell at him before he would shut up.

 

Chapter Text

The next two weeks were a whirlwind of activity for Katsuki. There was so much to get used to; his classes were becoming increasingly active, especially his hero lessons, and he could barely find time to breathe in between all of the knowledge that was being thrown at him. It might’ve been easier to deal with, had he been allowed to withdraw from his classmates during breaks, but now he was being crowded by Shitty Hair and his buddies. Raccoon Eyes had yet to miss lunch, and after a couple days of sitting through her rambling Pikachu had joined them as well. Even Soy Sauce was becoming more comfortable with the little mish-mashed group when they all crowded around his desk in between classes.

It was exhausting being surrounded by so much energy and positivity all the time, and that was without accounting for how annoyingly reckless everyone seemed to be. The amount of downright stupidity Katsuki had witnessed from Pikachu alone was astounding, and more times than not a conversation with him left Katsuki feeling confused and irritated. But it wasn’t bad, per-say, as the cat continually reminded him, it was just new. Katsuki asked the cat if a new lack of a limb would be okay with them. They’d just scoffed and cuffed his ankle with a clawed paw, the fleabag.

Another thing that made Yuuei more intense than other schools was Foundational Hero Studies. It was basically a class where the teachers would throw the hero course students into different scenarios, train them on physical protocol, or basically just do whatever they wanted to for about two hours a day. It took place after all the other classes had finished, and once a week All Might and sometimes Aizawa would set up a simulation project to teach the students how to conduct themselves and their quirks in different situations. Needless to say, it was Katsuki’s favourite class, and he’d already started training more outside of class with Kasai. It was only Thursday on the third week of school when class 1-A had their first class with their new hero costumes thrown into the mix.

Katsuki couldn’t get over how comfy his costume was, despite deliberately designing it to be that way. It consisted of a fitted tank top and leggings that were made of the softest material he’d been able to find and had padding at his joints and different pressure points around his body. On top of that was a loose, cropped, long-sleeved shirt with a black mesh hood to hide his pale hair, and pants made of a thin, almost silvery fabric that faintly reflected what was around it. He’d originally wanted something flashier that wouldn’t camouflage him into his surroundings, but that plan had been vetoed by Kasai. She’d (surprisingly) made some good points about how he could sneak up easier on his opponents this way, and the fabric she’d found was fucking badass. It reflected his surroundings and made him melt into the space around him and in broad sunlight it could make it really hard for his opponents to see. His pants were tied with a thin beige cord and were tucked into a pair of lightweight navy boots that had extra padding on the soles to both help him tread quietly and to take the strain off of his feet. The last, and Katsuki’s favourite part of the costume was the small gas mask that hung around his neck. It was made of a sleek, black, durable material, lightweight and compact. It filtered air and acted like a megaphone if he clicked a button on its side. That had been the cat’s idea, they’d said if he could get the attention of more animals then he might get more assistance should he ever need it. The costume didn’t look super hero-like, but Katsuki was starting to become more interested in becoming an undercover hero, though to a lesser degree than Eraserhead. He still wanted to become the number one hero after all. And shouldn’t his costume helping him do his job be a higher priority than how it looks?

Aizawa was standing in the training field outside the school when Katsuki followed Shitty Hair out of the change rooms, a good portion of the class already present, all in costume. Many of them had interesting designs, but nothing about Shitty Hair’s costume made any sense to Katsuki. The redhead’s pauldrons looked clunky and uncomfortable, and their gear-like shape seemed to restrict more movement than it helped. His weird mouthguard was confusing as well, and Katsuki couldn’t figure out what purpose it served no matter how hard he thought about it. But the redhead seemed happy with his design, so who was Katsuki to gripe about it? He would keep his mouth shut unless he was asked his opinion about it. Then he would give the redhead all of the fucking ‘constructive criticism’ he could ever ask for. Aggressively.

Soy Sauce was next to arrive, and his costume wasn’t actually all that bad. He had a weird fucking quirk, but it wasn’t like he could do anything about that. It was better than Pikachu’s, at least. His didn’t seem to do anything for him, he didn’t even have any support items to help him channel his electricity. Katsuki wondered if he even knew how many volts he could channel, though he greatly doubted it. He didn’t even want to think of the atrocity that Racoon Eyes was wearing; he could hear his mother’s voice berating it in his head, bringing a slight smirk to his face before he could even process it. He forced it down quickly.

By the time the entire class had made it out of the changing rooms, Aizawa looked about ready to shove his head into the nearest wall. Instead of addressing the crowd of blabbering teenagers, he just set up one of the large screens on the side of one of the field’s buildings with a list of names.

The first thing Katsuki thought when he saw the team matchups was great! The second thing? Oh shit. Because yes, he was fighting Shitty Hair and yes, that would be fucking awesome, but Shitty Hair’s teammate was Mount Rushmore, the guy with the shitty mind control quirk. Katsuki didn’t want to deal with him, didn’t really know how to deal with him, even if his team did have the luxury of being the hero team and choosing how they attacked. For someone so meek, the guy scared Katsuki, more than he wanted to fucking admit. What if his quirk had something to do with animal language? Would he be able to control Katsuki if that was the case? Would he expose him?

Katsuki let out a quick sigh and turned towards Soy Sauce. The dark-haired boy smirked at him, dark eyes flashing mischievously. “You ready?”

“When am I not?” Katsuki returned the grin, teeth bared in a ferocious smile.

Shitty Hair and the animal guy were released then to go and set up inside the building, leaving Katsuki and Soy Sauce to talk strategies. The guy was smarter than he gave off, smarter at least than the idiots he hung out with, so it wasn’t as painful as Katsuki was expecting. All Might, who’d arrived late and released a pissed-looking Aizawa, pressed the buzzer a couple minutes later, and the new team leapt into action. Katsuki easily found loose bricks and places to grip and scaled the building, while Soy Sauce used his tape to sling himself up to a second storey window, where he helped haul Katsuki inside. The blond tumbled and rolled, easily jumping to his feet on the cool concrete floor, ready to go. He shoved a panting Soy Sauce to his feet, and took off down the hallway ahead of him, using the silence his costume provided him with to his advantage. No Shitty Hair yet, but Katsuki was certain they’d find him soon. Knowing him, he would have left Rocky in charge of defending the weapon while he sought Katsuki and Soy Sauce out himself. He was determined like that, and he had the best defensive quirk.

Soy Sauce followed him down the hall and up a flight of stairs to the third floor, where they easily found Shitty Hair patrolling the corridor. There was a door in the middle of the wide hall, with large windows running the expanse of the hallway, and one open window on the other side of the hall. How could they get around him when he seemed to be guarding the door? He was very quick with his round of the hall, eyes not staying in one place too long. He must have chosen the spot because of the stairs since there was only one stairwell.

“Damn,” Soy Sauce muttered, “how do we get past him?”

“I have an idea,” Katsuki responded quietly, “but I don’t like it very much.”

The dark-haired guy turned his head to face him. “What is it?”

“Just give me a piece of your tape and stay here, I’ll be right back.”

Soy Sauce shrugged, easily ripping Katsuki a sizeable chunk of tape, and Katsuki took off, climbing up the stairs a level or two. He finally found a window in the stairwell, two levels up, and was quick to open it, letting out a sharp whistle, before sticking the tape on the outside of it. Then he headed back down. It was time to get a move on.

Katsuki was just in time. Right when he’d reached the bottom of the stairs, stopping beside Soy Sauce behind the door, there was a loud crack! on the other side of the hall. Shitty Hair was quick to run to the window opposite the stairwell, where a piece of tape clung, suspiciously. Goddamn birds did their job right, for once.

Katsuki was quick but careful about opening the door, and he silently padded out, Soy Sauce behind him walking surprisingly quietly for someone with such big feet. There was movement from Shitty Hair, and Katsuki was quick to look over and see him stick his head out the window. He would have sighed in relief if the situation didn’t call for the complete absence of sound.

The pair finally made it to the door, and Katsuki pulled it open slowly, thanking the high funds of Yuuei for making sure the door was well-oiled and silent as it swung open, and Soy Sauce crept into the room ahead of him. Shitty Hair was just pulling his big spiky head back inside when Katsuki gently closed the door behind him. Sero sighed quietly and pretended to wipe beads of sweat from his brow. Katsuki rolled his eyes at him.

This time, Soy Sauce led the way deeper into the room, which was well lit and full of columns except for a circle of space in the middle of the room, where the ‘explosive weapon’ sat. Rocky stood beside it, but the pair passed out of sight before Katsuki could make anything else.

Frankly, Katsuki was surprised he’d gotten as close as he had without sensing them. Rocky had cats hidden all over his side of the room, though that wasn’t what ended up setting him off. No, it was the sudden sight of the cat, his cat, crouched behind one of the pillars, shadowy body unnaturally still. Katsuki froze in his tracks, shock flooding through his veins like ice. He didn’t have time for this! He didn’t have time to stand here and do this! But all he could think about was how freaked out the cat had looked and sounded on the first day of class, and he knew he couldn’t let them stay there, under this bastard’s control. He barely heard Soy Sauce’s quiet exclamation of surprise when he surged forward, screeching in anger, and launched himself at Rocky.

Katsuki only managed to land a couple punches on the guys’ surprisingly not-rock-like skin, which knocked Rocky back a bit, before there were cats leaping at him from every direction, yowling and caterwauling and basically just creating chaos. The door slammed open, and damnit that meant Shitty Hair was joining the party.

“Bakugou, you take Kirishima!” Soy Sauce called over the screeching cats from where he was hanging from the ceiling by his tape, and normally Katsuki would’ve told him to go right ahead and fuck himself, but the entire shitty situation was his fault, so he tried to make his way towards the shark-toothed boy as quickly as possible.

He found himself in a hand-to-hand fight with Shitty Hair, and the quick-paced nature of the fight found him panicking for a couple seconds, remembering the force the red-head could pack into his punches. A stinging pain bloomed in his right cheek, and the pain grounded him. He swiftly re-centred himself.

Yes, Shitty Hair’s blows were powerful, but he seemed to be predominantly a tank. Katsuki smirked savagely. That meant he was slow.

Katsuki practically danced around the armoured teen, growing more and more relaxed as the fight wore on. He jumped nimbly away from one punch, and ducked under another, slipping underneath the redhead and popping up behind him to deliver a couple sharp punches to his unhardened back, causing him to lurch forward, only catching himself just in time. But it wasn’t enough, as Katsuki appeared beside of him, tripping him until he fell, hard, on to his stomach. Katsuki was quick to jump on his back and pin him down.

“Bakugou!” Soy Sauce called, and Katsuki’s crazed grin widened. He pulled his mask up over his face from where it rested around his neck. He had to stun the redhead hurriedly and get away just as fast, or they wouldn’t be able to capture him. He leaned down right next to the asshole’s ear, pressing a button on the side of the mask, and took a deep breath.

“Hey!” he shouted, voice ringing so loudly it echoed off of the walls. Shitty Hair’s expression grew pained as he cringed away from the noise, and Katsuki leapt off of him just in time for a string of tape to whip out from behind him and start wrapping the red-head up like a burrito. The blond turned around, high fiving Soy Sauce and walked towards the bomb, past a hoard of confused and distressed cats, past a taped-up Rocky who even had tape on his mouth to stop him from talking, and towards the cat who looked scared out of their goddamn mind. He reached down to pick the animal up and watched their puffed-up fur start to fall flat again.

“Thanks,” they hissed, and he pet their flank slowly, watching them calm down.

“Seriously, Bakugou?” Soy Sauce’s voice came from across the room. “You do know we still haven’t passed the test yet, right?”

“Shut up, dick, I’m going.” Katsuki walked confidently towards the fake weapon and slapped a hand on it.

 

“Captured.”

 

----------

  

It was hard to get out of bed, come Friday morning. The mourning doves had returned once more and had woken Katsuki up at least three times with their brand new (don’t ask Katsuki how he fucking knew) acapella arrangements of YMCA by the Village People, March of the Toy Soldiers from the Nutcracker, and Candy Store from the musical Heathers. It didn’t help at all that apparently the glow of victory from the heroes and villains exercise hadn’t been enough to stop the nightmares. It’d been over a year since the sludge incident, and Katsuki could’ve sworn all those months ago that he’d be done acting like a fucking squeaking guinea pig by now. But apparently, he was weaker than he’d thought, because he was still struggling to get the taste of slime out of his mouth by swishing cranberry-raspberry juice around his mouth twenty minutes later, after his final rude awakening. He was actually kind of glad that the stupid birds’ horrible harmonies had woken him up when they had; he’d probably be in even worse shape if he had to face the worst part of his dream (aka the actual dying bit). Really, he shouldn’t have been surprised to have his nightmares resurface after seeing the cat... controlled like that. It brought back every memory of helplessness and violation that the slime villain had given him.

Katsuki let out a long sigh as he leaned forward against the kitchen counter, resting his head on his arms. The glass of ruby red liquid sat next to his face, half-empty though this was the third time he’d filled it. Despite this fact, his tongue still tasted the mud and gritty sand that he knew was just his mind playing tricks on him. He wanted to scrub his mouth thoroughly with steel wool, but he doubted that it would work. It also involved sticking something that he could choke on inside of his mouth and (surprisingly) he wasn’t too keen on that.

He turned his head to look at the clock on the stove and exhaled again when he saw the numbers reading 3:08 flashing red back at him, like the cranberry juice, like his mother’s favourite pantsuit, red like Shark Week’s hair. It was too fucking early for this shit, but he didn’t think he’d be able to get back to sleep, not with the crushing weight he felt in his throat like he was one second away from choking on thick sludge again.

The taste of mud grew stronger again, and he downed the rest of his juice in one large gulp.

 

Fuck.

 

It took him another fifteen minutes to get the nausea back under control; another fifteen minutes to get the taste of dirt, grime, and bile out of his mouth; another fifteen minutes to get his hands to stop fucking shaking so much.

He found himself on the couch in the family room a half-hour later, the television playing cartoons with the sound off and the subtitles on, a throw blanket on his legs and the cat rumbling on his chest as he looked through a family photo album. The cat was in many of them, twining themselves around his legs, chasing him through the garden, even looped over his tiny eight-year-old shoulders in the Christmas photos from one year. He paused on one picture, smoothing out the slightly crumpled page with his thumb as he stared. It held a tiny Katsuki, sitting on his mother’s lap under the big tree in their backyard, the cat sitting on one of his legs to reach up and lick his cheek. It was taken around a year after he’d met the cat and he was clearly happy, a huge grin lighting up his face as his mother ruffled his hair with a fond smile that painted her face rose gold. The cat, just a kitten themself at the time, looked like they were attempting to climb Katsuki like a tree, claws digging into his shirt, small pink tongue stuck out next to his cheek.

He wanted to go back. He wanted to go back so badly it hurt. Back before the sludge villain, before the mess that was middle school, before he somehow became detestable in his own mother’s eyes. He didn’t understand how everything had become so shitty; all of his problems were supposed to have solved themselves when he received his acceptance into Yuuei, but it felt like they’d multiplied instead. It’d only been a month.

Katsuki relaxed his hand against the page from where he’d been clenching the paper hard enough for it to be in danger of tearing and looked down at the warmth that glowed through his mother’s peaceful, happy expression. The air around him suddenly felt like it was made of glass, and he didn’t want to break it.

“Are you ever going to tell me your name?” he asked, voice quiet and low in the delicate silence of the early morning.

The cat ceased in their purring, and let out a lax, noncommittal chirp in response. Katsuki respired softly and set the photo album gently on the mahogany coffee table beside him. They clearly didn’t want to talk about it, and he respected them too much to prod at that moment.

He laid back down on the couch and closed his eyes, letting the resumed rumbling of the warm weight on his chest lull him back to sleep.

 

 

Katsuki awoke with the tendrils of another nightmare fighting to take hold of him to a warm hand stroking his hair. His eyes didn’t seem to want to open, so he just leaned into the touch, relaxing as the faint but familiar scent of flowery perfume scared away the tendrils of mud that fought to pull him back into the dream. Wisteria, he pondered silently, mind too exhausted to peruse the topic much longer, and he melted back into sleep to the comfort of a hand in his hair, the brush of a thumb on his cheek, and the light press of lips on his forehead.

 

----------

 

Katsuki was exhausted, and he was pretty sure he was being blatantly obvious about it, not that he particularly cared. His ever-present eyebags felt more prominent today, and his temper was so frayed that he’d snapped at his spoon this morning when he’s dropped it on the floor. He was always tired on some level, but today seemed ten times worse for some reason. He was pretty sure he freaked out Pikachu that morning when he came up to his desk before class to poke at his arm and yell in his ear about some moth meme he’d found on Tumblr, and Katsuki had shouted at him to fuck off, voice low and gravelly from the lack of sleep. The hyperactive teen had quickly left him alone, probably slightly terrified, and though Katsuki was glad for the silence, he still couldn’t sleep, the small spike of guilt from shouting surprisingly not helping at all. He let out a deep sigh and pressed his palms to his eyes to block out the yellow light of the classroom, relaxing a bit into the darkness.

A tapping sounded directly next to his ear and he jumped about two feet in the air, heart beating out of his chest. He looked around quickly and relaxed seeing that nobody was looking his way. Then he heard a snicker from somewhere behind him, and a scowl made its way onto his face. When he looked towards where the snigger had come from, he made eye contact with fucking Shitty Hair. The redhead was guffawing into his hands, obviously trying to mask his laughter, though it didn’t work very well as his wide grin was still slightly visible. Katsuki sent a scathing glare his way, before turning to the window, where he’d heard the sound from. It was the cat, in the tree again. Apparently, they hadn’t learned their lesson from yesterday, as they were clinging to the branch, face inches away from the window which they tapped with their claw against as soon as they noticed Katsuki looking.

 

“Are you stupid?” the ash-blond muttered to himself as he moved to open the window. He’d learned his lesson after he’d left the cat in the tree for three hours the first time, and his arm held a few welts that didn’t actually hurt, per se, but the itching of their healing process had been driven Katsuki a little bit crazy at the time. Alongside the fucking ever-existent enervation, he guessed.

 

The window finally slid open, getting stuck a couple times, and Katsuki wondered if it’d ever been opened. When the stupid thing was finally open enough for the cat to fit through, Katsuki stuck his hands through to gather the shitty furball into his arms. Fucking moron. The cat let out a soft mrow in thanks and stupidly climbed up to drape themselves around his shoulders, in full view of everyone, before letting out a wide yawn and going boneless.

 

“You have to get off and leave, asshole!” Katsuki whispered harshly, slowly moving his arms to try and pull the feline from his neck. “Someone’s going to notice!”

The cat hissed at him, digging their claws into his shirt. “Who cares?”

“I care about keeping people out of my business!” Katsuki growled back under his breath, before grabbing his uniform jacket from the back of the chair and wrapping the cat in it. He quickly checked the time.

 

Seven minutes before class. He could do this. He stood up from his seat, drawing some glances as he coughed loudly over the angry yelp that came from his bunched-up jacket.

He made it out of the room quickly, scowling the entire way. As soon as he rounded the corner, he dropped the cat to the floor.

 

“What the hell, Katsu!” the cat complained, fur spiking up as they snarled. Katsuki was about to give a scathing reply when fucking Four-Eyes approached behind him.

“Bakugou-kun,” the nerd said in greeting, expression polite yet cold. Katsuki hated it.

“What do you want?” the ash-blond sneered, unknowingly puffing up alongside his anger, just like the cat.

“I saw the cat in the classroom, and I-” “Yeah, and what of it, nerd?” Katsuki interrupted, not bothering to push against the simmering wave of annoyance for once. He was tired, he couldn’t even begin to count the number of hours of sleep he’d gotten this week without becoming more exhausted with the realization. He didn’t need this kind of shitty confrontation!

“Well if you had of let me finish my sentence, I could have explained this sooner!” Four eyes said clearly, adjusting his glasses and punctuating his sentence by chopping at the air with waving hands. “I’m sure you know that it’s against school rules to have animals in an educational environment, what with allergies and such!”

Yeah, Katsuki knew, but he didn’t need this kind of over-bearing, holier-than-thou, self-righteous attitude directed towards him. “So which of us should break the news to Edgelord and Bug-Eyes?”

“What?” Four-Eyes asked, confusion clear in his expression.

“Fucking – ugh!” Katsuki groaned. “Birdbrain! Frog girl!”

The nerd’s face hardened, and any semblance of politeness slipped from his demeanour like water down a window. “That is extremely rude of you to insinuate! You should treat your fellow students with respect. Not that I’ve really expected you too, with all of the student rules from the handbook you’ve broken thus far. Like your lack of a tie-!”

Four-Eyes took a step forward, and the cat marched in between them, fur puffed up like dandelion seeds and ears plastered back against their head, hissing and spitting at the stocky-teen.

“Fuck off, ass-wipe!” They growled, despite Four-Eyes inability to understand them. It almost made Katsuki smile.

“I really don’t want to hear any of this from someone with a stick so far up their ass it’s a wonder they’re not spitting up splinters all the time.” He said coolly.

“Is that a threat?” Four eyes asked, eyeing the cat warily as they hissed more throatily the closer he got. Katsuki huffed, sparing a glance at the cat.

“I wish,” he muttered, “You’re such a-“

“What’s going on here?” a pissed off voice rang down the hallway, and the two boys looked over to see Aizawa-sensei striding towards them, annoyance radiating from the tense set of his shoulders. Four-Eyes sputtered, and Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“This asshole was ranting at me for pulling this asshole,” he gestured towards the cat, who had settled down and was now smugly grooming a paw at their feet, “out of a tree they were stuck in next to the window in the classroom when they couldn’t get down.” He folded his arms and glared, steely at the taller guy who looked appalled.

“I was not ranting! I was simply explaining that you should be more considerate towards our classmates and not bring high allergy risk animals to school!”

“Which I didn’t, if you’ll fucking remember.” Katsuki’s eyes narrowed, and the cat snarled shortly at the boy before falling silent after receiving a look from Aizawa.

“Distract them.” The cat hissed shortly, and Katsuki sighed. Whatever this was, he fucking hoped it was worth it.

“So what, am I getting fucking detention for helping a cat and getting yelled at?” the blond asked, ignoring Four-Eyes and his stupid fucking stammering, and the weird, quiet hacking noise the cat was making.

Aizawa stared him for a couple of seconds as if judging his character, and Katsuki glared back, just as haughtily. He finally broke the eye contact and sighed tiredly, “Bakugou, take the cat outside and then get your ass back to class. Iida,” he turned to the latter, “It isn’t your responsibility to punish people for rule-breaking. Get back to class.”

Four-Eyes’s face went carmine with embarrassment, and he nodded stiffly. Before he could turn to leave, the cat made one last rough bark, and spit up a hairball right onto Four-Eyes’s dress shoes. The nerd’s face went slack with shock, and Katsuki had never seen a cat look so pleased with itself. He made eye contact with Four-Eyes, face completely deadpan.

“Whoops, sorry.” He said, words dripping with insincerity, before turning away and striding down the hall. “Come on, you dick!” he called behind him, and the cat romped after him, hissing out their weird laugh.

“Next time he pisses me off, I’m gonna shit in his school bag,” the cat crowed. Katsuki wrinkled his nose in disgust.

“You’re fucking gross.”

 

 

Lunch came very quickly, thankfully, as Katsuki had done his best to throw all of his attention into his morning classes. The little confrontation from Iida had served to at least wake him up and rip him out of the moody daze he’d been walking around in all morning, though he still felt pretty exhausted and shitty. He probably shouldn’t have flipped on everyone who spoke to him earlier, especially not that electric moron, but all he could think about the issue was that Pikachu would probably end up leaving sooner or later just like Shitty Hair and Racoon Eyes would when they finally understood how much of a shit person Katsuki was. If he thought about it, he was saving the both of them a lot of bullshit. Pikachu wouldn’t develop some warped perception of his personality and be disappointed upon finding out that it wasn’t who he was, and Katsuki wouldn’t get attached.

Lunch was also a quiet fanfare at the beginning. He sat outside with Shitty Hair and Raccoon Eyes after being caught trying to sneak off and eat by himself and felt so out of place that he just sat there silently picking at his lunch and trying to distract himself from the cat’s attempts to cheer him up. They’d already tried to climb the tree again, giving up after falling a couple times all before Katsuki had even finished his eggs. They had then resumed their place as Katsuki’s scarf and were lazily dozing in the cloudy sunlight in between efforts to steal his food.

 

“You know, the pink human looks more like a moth than a raccoon...” the cat muttered next to his ear, and Katsuki couldn’t stop himself from staring. The cat was fucking right, with those stupid horns and black eyes... Fucking cat screwing with his nicknames for people... as if learning names wasn’t hard enough!

“...Damn you, I can’t fucking unsee it.

The cat let out their weird purring laugh, then continued their half-hearted attempts to steal bits of meat from his chopsticks. The cat drooped after their fifth failed attempt at thievery and huffed loudly.

“Just one piece?” they whined, and Katsuki was too slow shoving them away. The cat flattened their ears to their head, and mrow’ed sadly, the manipulative little flea-bag. Katsuki glared at them hotly, pulling his bento to the other side, and stared back. The cat just tilted their head, somehow managing to look even more distraught with the small motion, and Katsuki snapped.

Fine, you fucking furball! Eat the entire container, why don’t you! I hope you get a fucking stomach ache, you little shit!” He shoved the bento forward on the table, letting the cat jump down from his shoulder and feast on his leftover rice and meat.

The table was silent for a couple seconds before Katsuki noticed the attention he’d attracted. Raccoon Eyes’ and Shitty Hair’s matching shit-eating grins faced him when he looked up, and he instantly felt his ears warm in protest.

“Don’t look at me like that, you assholes!” he yelped, and of course Shitty Hair was the first to lose his mind laughing, head thrown back stupidly, though the human-sized moth was quick to follow. She was louder, pausing to snort every couple seconds, and Katsuki stared a hole in the picnic table, trying to force the blush from his ears.

“Shut up you fucking insect!”

“Why are you so mean, Blasty! First raccoon eyes, now insect? I want a nickname redraw!”

Katsuki didn’t have to think for long on that. “... Mothman.”

The shocked expression on the pink girl’s face was enough for Shitty Hair to laugh so hard that the sound got caught in his chest. “Mothman!”

She looked dumbfounded, like it was the last thing she’d been expecting to come out of his mouth.

“Holy crap!” Shitty Hair giggled, cheeks pink from laughter. “Why are your nicknames so good for everyone other than me?”

“You call that good?” The pink girl asked in mock-outrage, “What does he call you if that’s so good?”

“Shitty Hair.” Katsuki answered, blank-faced.

“It used to be Shark Week, though!” the redhead added.

Raccoon Eyes waited for the laughter to die down before staring straight at Katsuki, completely deadpan. “You know, I thought you were kind of scary on the first day of classes, but you’re actually just a huge, soft dork.”

“Take that back, asshole!” Katsuki growled, “I’m not fucking soft, I’m-” “You’re a raging, ethereal creature of terror, we already know this, Bakugou!” Shitty Hair interrupted, Raccoon Eyes snickering from beside him.

“Speaking of the hero lessons yesterday-” “That was awesome!” the redhead gushed, speaking loudly and excitedly over the still tittering girl. Raccoon Eyes just rolled her eyes at the interruption.

“Exactly! You guys both did great, though. That fight at the end was intense!

“I don’t know about me,” Shitty Hair shrugged, swallowing a bite of melon bread. “I just sat there like a moron while somehow this dick,” he gestured towards Katsuki with a greasy thumb, “was quiet enough to sneak past me. I still don’t understand how you got that tape on the window!” the redhead said in a betrayed tone, flashing puppy dog eyes at the blond.

“And you never will.” Katsuki muttered definitively, fishing his water bottle out of his bag. He exchanged a glance with the cat who only shrugged back at him, and he poured some water into the lid of the bottle, pushing it towards them.

Shitty Hair looked like he was about to protest, but Raccoon Eyes talked over him, setting a rosy hand on his arm. “Shh, let him keep his man-of-mystery title, he’s already lost the cool badass one today. Any more loss and he might cry.”

The rest of lunch was much mess peaceful, aside from Katsuki’s ‘bitch fit’ as Shitty Hair later labelled it. Not even the cat was safe from the blond’s wrath.

 

 

It was a week later, a week spent in firm silence that passed through the partnered work that Katsuki had to complete with Pikachu when he finally realized he might have a problem. The blond seemed to have taken Katsuki’s words to ‘fuck off’ quite literally, as he tried at least five times to get classmates around them to switch partners with him, unsuccessfully.

It was after the third time that the honey-blond ignored a question that day alone that Katsuki sat back, sighed, and thought that maybe, just maybe, he’d fucked up. Because sure, having friends was tiring and Katsuki hated it (read: really liked it and was scared of the thought of rejection), but it would definitely be easier to be on speaking terms with this moron and get all of his classwork done on time than it would be to have to deal with a couple weeks of awkwardness because Pikachu realized how much of a dick he was.

It was this fact (and this fact alone) that got him to make a pit stop at a vending machine before following the class to the busses later that day. It was also that fact that made him push his way onto the bus before Soy Sauce just so that he could drop into the spot beside the electric blond. 

“I thought you wanted me to leave you alone,” Pikachu muttered, looking both puzzled and irritated. 

Katsuki shrugged, and without looking at him plopped a snack-sized bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (disgusting) onto his lap.

Shockingly, the blond sat there for an entire five seconds, speechless, and Katsuki hoped desperately that he’d gotten off easily. But nope, he couldn’t be that lucky, and suddenly Pikachu was squeezing Katsuki’s arm like it was the only thing keeping him from falling into a huge, lava-filled chasm whilst clutching the bag of chips like a baby. He even started tearing up and crying about how he was ‘forever indebted’ to Katsuki, and apparently it was such normal behaviour that it didn’t raise any questions with anyone around them. Fortunately, Shitty Hair was the one to take the seat on Katsuki’s other side. Unfortunately, he just joined in on Pikachu’s antics. Literally what kind of vibe much Katsuki be unknowingly putting off to attract such moronic people?

 

 

The USJ training facility was huge from the outside and even bigger on the inside. The wide array of disaster zones stretched out below the class for what looked like hundreds of kilometres, and the domed ceiling seemed so far up that Katsuki doubted even All Might would be able to jump high enough to touch it. Sunlight shone faintly through the glass that made up parts of the ceiling, its bright, frosty light touching each surface like a glossy film, and birdsong rose faintly from the trees around the center fountain. Everywhere Katsuki looked there was something new; a huge pond with swirling water in different shades of blue and green; a fenced-off section where houses were buried in rubble, only broken sections of their walls and roofs poking out of the apparent landslide; and even a segment way at the back where a life-sized city was smouldering with tongues of orange flame. It was a cool place, but something suddenly felt really off. Like it had become too quiet or something. But couldn’t that just be attributed to the lack of people in the disaster zones? After all, usually the image of a city burning down was accompanied by screaming or something, but- Shitty Hair prodded him in the side heavily, and Katsuki almost yelled at him before he realized there was a new teacher monologuing in front of him. Apparently, he’d missed the introduction because he had no idea who they were. The red-head smirked at him out of the corner of his eye, and Katsuki had to stop himself from growling out an insult. Instead, he turned to face the front and tried to block out the dumbass beside him, and the sinking sense that something was really not right.

 

“-hope you leave here today with the understanding that you’re meant to help people.” The hero in the astronaut suit was saying before they bowed lowly. “That’s all! Thank you so much for listening!”

 

The students around Katsuki clapped, and Katsuki almost joined in for something to do, when the stone in his gut suddenly clenched, and he understood. Panic had his body tensing up, taut like the string of a crossbow. But maybe he was wrong, right? Birds were cowards on the best of days, but they usually didn’t flee without bombarding Katsuki with unneeded explanations.

“Hey dude, are you feeling okay? You look super pale all of a sudden.” Shitty Hard asked quietly, looking a bit worried from Katsuki’s side.

Katsuki didn’t respond for a moment, swallowing around the lump in his throat and steeling his expression back to his normal scowl. “Doesn’t it seem too quiet to you?”

Shitty Hair laughed. “Yeah! It’s weird being this close to all of this stuff without people there, right?”

“Not that,” Katsuki huffed, growing more and more anxious as each second passed, “It’s silent!”

The red-head just cocked his head, confused, and Katsuki let out a rough sigh.

“There’re no birds!”

“... Isn’t that normal for an indoor facility?”

“No,” Katsuki felt like ramming his head into the nearest wall. “I heard them earlier! Somethings wrong-” the blond was cut off by the sudden flickering of the bright, factory lights above them and the sputtering of the fountain as it started to malfunction. After a couple seconds, everything shut off, leaving the students in complete silence as the teachers stared at each other, seemingly shocked.

 

A soft noise, like wind through long grass started up near the fountain, and Katsuki’s blood ran cold as a patch of black fog, swirling like ink soaking into a piece of paper, faded into existence, a deathly pale hand reaching out of its center. Aizawa-sensei took in a sharp breath, before lowering his goggles onto his face.

 

“Huddle up and don’t move, those are villains!” he shouted, not sparing a glance back at the students to make sure they followed his orders before he leapt down into the sea of villains that were now stepping out of the black smoke. “Thirteen, protect the students!”

 

And then there were people rushing around him, the nervous chatter of his classmates fading into rising static, and Katsuki stared down at the hordes of villains emerging from the black smoke. It was almost mesmerizing to watch; the dark smoke licked the ground like waves of saltwater on a beach, only disrupted by those stepping out of it. The sight made him angry, and Katsuki had to force himself to step back from the top of the stairs. He was about to turn and follow the rest of his classmates to where they’d all retreated closer to the massive front doors when he saw him.

Large, amber eyes and a wickedly white smirk peering out of the darkness under one of the trees lining the walkway, and Katsuki froze in place, all fight draining out of him like a pool of water someone had pulled the plug on. Time slowed down to a crawl, and Katsuki was conscious of each century-long second as it passed. He watched, eyes wide, as the fog seemed to gain a mind of its own and the villain was plunged into darkness. He watched until they disappeared completely from sight, and the smoke rolled up the stairs like a waterfall in reverse. Then there was a hand clamping shut around his wrist, and Katsuki’s foot met Shitty Hair’s face. He froze in shock, watching blankly as the red-head pulled his hand back from Katsuki’s arm like he’d been burned, using both hands to try and staunch the sudden flow of blood from his nose, blood the same shade as his eyes.

 

Shit.

 

“Come on!” Shitty Hair said forcefully, eyebrows furrowed with worry. “We have to go!”

He wiped his hand off on his pants, still holding his nose with the other before grabbing Katsuki’s arm again and dragging him towards the class. The fog rose faster behind them, reaching the top of the stairs in no time. The pair reached the front of the group of students, just as Four-Eyes started yelling about evacuating, but the plan was too late; the fog was upon them.

A set of glowing yellow eyes opened from amid the fog, above a metal collar that seemed to glint faintly in the muted sunlight that shone through the uncovered windows. The villain grinned, smile wide and a little bit manic.

 

“Hello, children.”

Chapter Text

If he wasn’t so fucking stunned and unsteady, he probably would’ve jumped forward alongside Shitty Hair when he attacked the villain. He might’ve had an awesome war cry as well, but there he was, barely keeping the tremors in his hands under control as he watched the redhead disappear into the smoke, his bellowing voice vanishing alongside his body. Then his world was flipped upside down as the villain descended towards them, and blackness overtook his vision.

He blinked, and when he opened his eyes he was falling, water rushing up to meet him. He only had a couple of seconds to prepare himself before he was smashing into the water’s surface and sinking like a rock. He tried to hold his breath but being submerged reminded him too much of the sludge villain’s quirk, and the air forced itself out of his lungs as his mouth filled up with the muddy liquid. And he was choking, fighting for air when there was none to be found, as he sunk deeper and deeper into the dark water. He wondered how deep the pool could even be, as his limbs froze up in his panic, and the surface grew further and further away.

Suddenly, there was a long, pink... was that a tongue? Wrapping itself around his midsection and yanking him up towards the surface. The next thing he knew was the cold, hard surface he was set on and the white, overbearing light of the cloudy sky through the skylights as he coughed up what felt like all of the liquid he’d ever consumed. When he could finally breathe without feeling like every breath was going to be his last, he looked around to analyze his surroundings.

It apparently had been a tongue to grab him out of the water, because Bug-Eyes was standing in front of him, alongside Deku who was crouched beside him, brow furrowed in worry. His hand was resting on Katsuki’s back, patting softly in a way that was probably meant to be comforting. He seemed to notice what he was doing at the same time Katsuki did, and he pulled his hand away as if burned.

“A-are you okay, Kacchan?” he stuttered out.

Katsuki gave another harsh cough before answering. “I’m fucking fine,” he growled hoarsely. He looked around again, confused. “Why the hell’re we on a boat?”

And they were. It was larger than a fishing boat, but to call it a cruise ship would be overexaggerating. It was simple and white, with handrails all around the edges from what Katsuki could see, a thought that comforted him greatly after nearly drowning.

It was Bug-Eyes who answered this time, “I think that smokey villain’s quirk teleported us here, there are villains in the water. Are you alright?”

Katsuki sighed harshly. “What’s it fucking look like, Frogger?”

“Call me Tsuyu.”

“Whatever,” he growled, pushing himself to his feet. He took a few wobbly steps on still tense legs, turning his attention to the dark water that swirled around murkily below. Villains dotted the water like colourful fish, popping under the surface for seconds at a time as the waves rippled around them. “Do we have any kind of plan?”

“Kero,” Bug-Eyes said, blank-faced as usual, “Izuku-kun already mentioned that the villains don’t seem to know our quirks, so we could probably take advantage of that quite easily.”

Katsuki turned on Deku, red eyes boring into the green-haired teenager who fidgeted uncomfortably at the attention. “Well... I was thinking we could use Asu-Tsuyu! I was thinking we could use a combination of Tsuyu-san’s quirk with mine and somehow propel ourselves off of the water and scatter them if we’re lucky? But that doesn’t really stop them from coming after us, no matter how much weaker their quirks are out of the water... Then we’ll have lost the element of surprise as well, they’ll know what our quirks are... Maybe we can-” “Shut the fuck up, Deku.” “Sorry!”

As much as Katsuki loathed to admit it, the freckled boy was right. Their best chance with Frogger and Deku’s quirks was to get away fast and hope to outrun the villains, but there had to be some other way, something that might guarantee them more safety. If only fish could fight, then maybe he could... wait... He turned to the frog-faced girl.

“Bug-Eyes-” “Tsuyu.” “Whatever! Just take Deku, and come back for me.”

“Kacchan, no! You don’t have a way to defend yourself, Tsu-Tsuyu-san can take you first, and come back for me!” Deku griped.

Katsuki scowled at him, near stressed enough to start pulling his hair our, when the entire boat lurched. “C’mon, kiddies!” one of the villains cackled, one with an apparently squid-based quirk. “Don’t keep us waiting~”

Katsuki grabbed the railing to avoid sliding down to the middle of the ship, where the villains had somehow cut the ship cleanly in half. “There’s no time for this! I’ll be fine, just fucking go! I have a plan, just come back and pick me up from the water after you’ve made it to the shore! Then you can punch the water on the way back or whatever-the-fuck you’re planning on doing!”

“Won’t that be counter-productive, though?” Bug-Eyes questioned from where she stood, pads on her feet sticky enough for her to not need to hold on to the boat. “If it’s a getaway then we should all go together!”

“It’s no fucking getaway,” Katsuki smirked as well as he could as anxiety ran through his veins. He pictured All Might’s smiling face as he rescued civilians, and it grew a bit easier. “You’re gonna be a distraction.”

Deku finally seemed to cue in, and his expression brightened enough that it must’ve been completely obvious that he knew at least a little about the blond’s plan. “O-okay! Let’s go, Asui-” “Tsuyu.” “Right!”

Bug Eyes wrapped her tongue snuggly around Deku’s waist, then leaped up onto the now diagonal railing in one powerful jump. The last Katsuki saw of them was Deku’s green eyes, and then he was letting go and sliding down the floor of the boat towards the water at breakneck speed, as the floor beneath him shifted to a near ninety-degree angle.

He could hear the villain’s shouts of surprise, even hearing one woman yell “they’re getting away!”, and then he hit the water, hoping nobody had been paying enough attention to hear the large plop as he sunk under the surface. It was much easier to push the panic away this time as he sank lower, much easier when he’d known he was going to be submerged beforehand. It was still pretty freaky how much the colour of the water as he swam lower matched that of the sludge villain, but with a goal in mind he could focus on, he ignored it, instead directing his attention to propelling himself past pieces of rubble and glass. His lungs were starting to ache by the time he made it to the bottom of the pool and thankfully, thankfully, there were fish, a whole bunch of them hiding from the commotion at the bottom of the pond. The small and large huddled together side-by-side, seemingly distressed and unsure. They didn’t back away as Katsuki approached, probably sensing something about the blond’s quirk, but they still seemed incredibly uneasy at his presence. Katsuki opened his mouth to say something, forgetting for a moment where he was, and his chest burned as some more oxygen raced out of his body. Shit, shit, shit! You dumbass! He could feel himself running out of air, and he hurriedly beckoned some fish to follow him before kicking hard and pushing back towards the surface. He hadn’t thought his plan through before executing it, and now all he could hope for was for one of the fish at least to have decided to follow him. He broke surface around where he’d dived under, hiding behind some of the floating bits of boat that had yet to sink, and if he hadn’t nearly drowned ten minutes earlier or almost died from suffocation a year before he could’ve sworn air had never tasted sweeter. He looked around as he tried to catch his breath, spying the villains crowded around the far shore, and Deku and Tsuyu perched in one of the trees. Deku couldn’t see him, but the frog girl was staring straight at him. He nodded to her, and she turned to say something to Deku. He could see them getting ready to jump back down. Katsuki sighed and ducked back behind the rubble.

A fish was there, so silent that as soon as he noticed their presence, he felt his heart leap in his chest. The fish ducked back as well, skittish as Katsuki regained his bearings.

“Don’t do that!” he gasped, struggling to get back into the rhythm of treading water after freezing up in his panic.

“Sorry.” The fish blubbered, fins seeming to wilt as she poked her nose back underwater. Her scales glimmered like chunks of emerald and peridot even through the murky water that covered most of her small body.

Katsuki sighed. Why did his quirk of all things have to do with conversing? “It’s fine,” he muttered. “I know we just met, but I’m Katsuki. Can you and the other fish please help me?”

“We don’t often get to talk to humans, so some of them might be interested, but I really couldn’t say for sure” the fish responded, “wait, can you hear me?”

“Take a wild guess.” Katsuki rolled his eyes, then froze, remembering the cat saying that animals would respond better if he didn’t insult them. “Wait, ignore that, I’m sorry. Yes, I can. Can you please ask your friends to help me?”

The end of the sentence came out through clenched teeth, Katsuki couldn’t believe just how much he sounded like a shitty version of Snow fucking White, but he knew he had to do this. If the villains could be subdued, then he needed to at least try.

The fish stared at him, her eyes eerie and wide. “I can ask. I can’t guarantee much, though. Not many fish like humans. What do you need?”

The blond let out a ragged sigh of relief. This conversation needed to end soon; he’d never been the strongest swimmer, and his legs were beginning to burn. “Ask as many of the larger ones as you can to pull some of those humans in the water under. Maybe they could see it as a kind of... payback for all of the fucking fishing they’ve been subjected to, or some shit.”

The fish’s eyes took on an almost scary glint, for such a small, scaled creature, and Katsuki felt a shiver go down his spine that had nothing to do with the cold temperature of the water. “I can do that.” And without a good-bye, the fish ducked back under the water and vanished.

Well, Katsuki thought, that went better than I thought it would. But this would be the hard part. He would need to swim out into the open and wait for Deku and Tsuyu – when did he start calling her that? – and hope nobody killed him before they could pick him up.

 

----------

 

The thing about running while soaked with water is that it completely sucks. The air either feels like a harsh winter wind or dry and sandy, like the Sahara Desert. Your clothing sticks to you like a second layer of skin restricting movement, and generally just gets in your way. It just sucks, no matter how you put it and trying to get away from a bunch of super-powered thugs while doing it just makes it ten times worse. The fish had done their job with a vengeance, pulling the villains down under the water, quietly enough that many didn’t realize anything happening until it was too late, but in the end, they were just fish, fighting against a bunch of overpowered dumbasses. The plan hadn’t been perfect, Deku had nearly broken a finger and his punch had landed too far out and ended up pushing some villains closer to shore than he’d wanted, but it’d done what it’d needed to; a large portion of the villains were fish-food at the bottom of the pond, and now there were only twelve chasing them! Great, right? Wrong. Katsuki ducked as another sharp quill dripping a thick, honey-coloured liquid shot through the air, narrowly missing his left ear. He could hear the sizzle as some of it dripped onto his shoulder, eating through his gym uniform. Fuck, those things were expensive! Stupid-ass villains.

Out of the corner of his eye, Katsuki could see Deku muttering to himself rapidly in between pants as he ran, Tsuyu trailing behind him, hopping along in the way only she could. Already, they were showing signs of exhaustion, movements slowing and breaths heaving. They were only first-year students, and stamina took a lot longer than the couple months Katsuki knew Deku had been training to build up, though he didn’t know Tsuyu’s timeline. Her movements required more physical assertion, and that was probably catching up with her. Despite her lack of outward signs, her cheeks were growing ruddy, and her forehead was slick with sweat – or maybe that was just pondwater. They had to stop now, or they wouldn’t be able to fight when they were eventually overtaken, and – Katsuki’s thought process slammed to a halt at the same time as his face slammed into someone’s back. Katsuki was immediately on high alert, using the force of the momentum to blindly roll the other person onto their front, landing with their hands held behind their back, and the blond’s left hand pushing down firmly on the back of their neck. His breaths came out hard, and his palms were sweaty, as he looked down at his victim, fully expecting to find one of the villains snarling up at him. The person was snarling and struggling, but rightfully so. It wasn’t a villain; it was fucking Birdbrain.

“What the hell, Bakugou?”

“What the hell, yourself!” Katsuki sputtered, heart still racing from the adrenaline. “What the fuck?” He could hear Deku and Tsuyu skid to a stop behind him. He gingerly climbed to his feet, releasing the bird – man – whatever his feathered classmate was.

“Oh, Tokoyami!” Deku called out, “Maybe we’ll actually have a chance now!”

 “A chance against what?” a voice popped up right behind Katsuki, and his fist was flying with his nerves.

“Fuck, not again!” Of course, it was Shitty Hair. The blond’s entire demeanour eased as he fixed his sight on the redhead who was clutching a bloody nose. It was beginning to become a regular sight. “It literally just stopped bleeding, c’mon man!”

“Stop fucking sneaking up on me, asshat!” Katsuki gritted his teeth. He heard a twig crack behind him. “I don’t want to break my hand before the fight even starts!”

Shitty Hair sighed, and Bird Brain moved forward, eyes narrowed at Katsuki. He ripped a small piece off of his huge black cape and handed it to the redhead. “Sorry, man. You shouldn’t have to keep doing this!” Shitty Hair laughed awkwardly.

The crow fucker only puffed out the feathers lining his jaw and neck, and rolled his eyes, though Katsuki could hear the soft purring sound he was making from the back of his throat. It was so quiet, he probably didn’t even know he was doing it, but Katsuki knew what it meant.

“Fucking fine, Bird Brain, I didn’t mean to punch him, are you happy now? Chill the fuck out.”

Bird Brain’s feathers smoothed out in surprise, and the purring halted. Katsuki just rolled his eyes.

Another twig snapped.

“We have around a dozen villains after us, so we should really get moving,” Tsuyu said conversationally, starting to move forward again, but Katsuki knew it was too late.

This time, the branch breaking was louder. Maybe the others couldn’t hear it, based on their lack of response, but Katsuki’s senses had been trained for years to detect the smallest sounds and twitches. It was how the animals communicated, after all.

The final twig snapped. Gotcha. He threw his arm out at record speed, grabbing the wrist of the villain behind him, and hurled them over his shoulder, sending them hurtling towards the ground in front of him with a sickening crack.

“Could you be any fucking louder?”

And the attack began.

 

The fight was a whirlwind of activity, Tsuyu and Deku were working together, the confusion that the villains seemed to hold towards approaching Tsuyu making up for Deku’s unrefined attack style, and his quick movements covering Tsuyu’s lack of adequate movability. Tokoyami was a couple hundred metres away in a denser pocket of the woods, backed against a tree with Dark Shadow out in full force, attacking anything that moved. And Shitty Hair was nearby, using his quirk seamlessly for both attack and defence as he plowed through villains leaving them baffled (and probably concussed). He was fighting relentlessly, yet he still seemed able to hold a conversation.

“We saw the center of the place just over that way,” Shitty Hair pointed, hardening his arm in time for the fish-face he was fighting to run straight into it, “I climbed a tree and saw Aizawa-sensei fighting this monster-lookin’ guy. It’s where we were headed before you tackled Tokoyami and punched me in the face.”

“Jeez, asshole, I already said I was sorry, what more do you want?” Katsuki snapped, leaping over a low kick a villain and ducking around another arm to land some well-placed punches on the back of the girl’s shoulder. Her arm gave a sickening pop as it dislocated, and she screeched in pain and anger before Katsuki silenced her with a hard-knuckled punch to the skull. He hissed in discomfort, shaking out his hand. “Fucking hell, who has bones that thick?”

“I don’t know but catch!” The redhead called as he shoved his villain towards Katsuki.

“What,” the blond laughed, receiving the fish-faced motherfucker with a kick to the groin, “Can’t clean up after yourself?”

Kirishima’s bright laugh rang out across the clearing as the villain doubled over, hands immediately going to protect his privates. “Quite the opposite, actually, you just looked like you were having fun!”

Katsuki’s answering smirk was fierce but genuine, as he knocked the villain’s lights out.

By the time the five of them had managed to subdue all of the villains, Shitty Hair’s nose has stopped bleeding.

“Please don’t punch me in the face again,” He said, deadpan, and Katsuki was nice enough to oblige.

He punched him in the gut instead.

 

----------

 

Finding the center of the USJ was easier than Katsuki thought it would be, though he guessed they were all just lucky that the direction they’d chosen to run in from the lake had taken them closer to it instead of farther from it. It would’ve been quicker if the cat had been there to climb a tree or something, but that might’ve been counter-productive since they probably would’ve gotten stuck or something. The one day the cat decides to stay at Yuuei in favour of a nap in the sun, and the students get attacked. Ridiculous.

Katsuki had stayed back a bit as they neared the clearing, and apparently rightfully so, as Shitty Hair’s well... shitty hair gave them away almost as soon as they reached the edge of the trees, and he was fortunate enough to not be seen.

“Morons,” Katsuki muttered under his breath.

Instead of running after the dumbasses who were now attempting to fight their way towards where Aizawa was still fighting, he ducked behind a tree along the edge of the forest and tried to come up with a game plan. It took the sound of ruffling feathers for him to realize that Bird Brain was right next to him, and he barely stopped himself from leaping out of his skin when he looked over his shoulder to see him standing next to him, unpleasantly close.

“So, what’s the plan?” the crow-headed boy asked, and if Katsuki wasn’t in the practice of knowing birds nonverbal tells he would’ve completely missed the small amused whistle he let out.

“Oh, fuck off, dick,” Katsuki growled, and Bird Brain grinned. Jeez, that was unsettling, he’d almost forgotten the guy was human, which was funny considering the teeth that lined the inside of his beak. Yeah... disturbing. Katsuki sighed and looked back to the clearing. A maniacal looking villain with white hair – and were those disembodied hands hanging off his body? –  was still standing off to the edge crowing over Aizawa’s limp body as Deku, Tsu, and Shitty Hair fought what must’ve been the monster Shitty Hair had seen earlier. From Handsy’s shouting, it sounded like it was called a ‘Nomu’ or something. A couple steps behind the white-haired man – target acquired – stood the smoke villain from earlier, the one who’d teleported him to the lake. Katsuki turned to Tokoyami.

“We could creep around the edge and stay in the shadows...” he began, still thinking.

“Revelry in the dark.” Birdbrain grinned eerily, and Katsuki just paused to look at him.

“What the fuck?”

“... Nothing, continue.”

Katsuki sighed in annoyance. “Whatever. That smokey guy is their way out, let’s take him out.”

Birdbrain shrugged. “Sounds like a plan to me.”

So the pair crept around the edge of the clearing, keeping out of the light, for the most part, edging closer and closer to the chatting villains.

“Tomura Shigaraki.”

“Kurogiri...” Handsy – who must've been Shigaraki – responded, “is Thirteen dead?”

“He’s as good as, but there were some students I couldn’t warp away,” The smoke villain responded, “One of them got away.”

That’s good, at least... Katsuki wondered which of them it was, but shook the thought from his mind. He needed to focus on going undetected.

Handsy started scratching his neck, progressively becoming more forceful and agitated. “Huh, Kurogiri? If you weren’t our ticket out of here, I would turn you to dust.”

They were directly behind the pair now, and Katsuki and Tokoyami started to creep forward.

“We won’t stand a chance against dozens of pros.” Handsy continued, “It’s game over, man... It’s game over for now.”

Only about a hundred metres behind them, please let them make it...

“We’re leaving.” Shigaraki finished.

Katsuki let himself relax as he prepared to attack.

And then...

it all went to shit.

“Oh, if it isn’t Bakugou!” Handsy called out gleefully, turning around swiftly, and Katsuki froze. Fuck, how does he know my name? “We have someone on our team who really wants to give you his salutations!”

Bakugou knew who. He’d seen him before any of them had left the front of the place. And he couldn’t think about it now, he could do it later in the safety of his bedroom where nobody but the cat could see the cracks in his façade give way, but he still couldn’t make himself move. And then the ground started swirling around him in different shades of inky black, and he was falling into the darkness, spat out at Handsy’s feet. Disoriented and about thirty seconds away from a full-blown panic attack that he wasn’t sure he could hold off, Katsuki watched as the white-haired villain leaned down, hand extended towards him, pupils small and manic and violently blood red, sunken into the dry skin of his face.

“Our friend might be unhappy that he didn’t get to meet you in one piece, but I’m sure this will be a lot less painless than what he wanted to do with you,” he chuckled menacingly, and Katsuki’s blood froze in his veins. He knew he should move, knew he should be yelling something aggressively divergent in the hand fucker’s face, probably with a ‘fuck you’ thrown in for good measure, but it was like his body was made of ice. He could feel the wave of panic roaring beneath his skin, and it was taking everything in him to hold them back. It reached a peak when the man’s bony pointer finger paused a couple centimetres in front of his face, and Katsuki’s breath caught in his throat.

Then red, bright, angry red. Livid and completely hardened, Kirishima stood in front of him, sleeves torn off of his gym uniform, and the villain, on his ass in the dirt a couple metres in front of him.

“What the hell are you doing, moron?” the redhead growled, voice gravelly and serious in a way Katsuki had never heard it before. “Move!”

That was all he needed. Katsuki shakily dragged himself back, into the trees, out of sight, and watched, feeling more cowardly and low than he’d felt since school started as Handsy slowly got to his feet, shaking slightly in a way that made him seem almost unhinged.

“Tomura Shigaraki,” the smoke villain finally spoke up, moving a couple steps forward, “calm yourself.”

“Calm?” The villain’s high-pitched voice rang out across the clearing, and a shiver ran up Katsuki’s spine. “I am calm.”

Kirishima looked less than confident, hardening dropping to reveal his tanned, freckled skin as he slowly backed away towards where Katsuki was sitting in the shrubbery. The villain had only just gotten to his feet, when the sound of a door slamming open rang through the building, the ground shaking with the power of it.

“Fear not. I am here.”

And Katsuki let the wave of panic crash over him.

 

----------

 

Waking up, Katsuki’s mind was clearer than it’d been in weeks as if whatever had been simmering beneath the surface of his skin since school started had boiled over and evaporated. He could feel the afternoon sunlight warming his cheeks and the cat’s steady rumbling purr deep in his bones from where they were curled up on his chest. The window must’ve been open because he could hear the faint sound of birds singing on the windowsill, something melancholy and sweet. Not the mourning doves, their voices were too pretty for that, but that made sense since he wasn’t at home. At that thought he opened his eyes; if he wasn’t at home, where was he? It took him a second to get used to the sunlight, and the cat shifted into his lap as he sat up.

He was sitting in one of the beds in the nurse’s office, across the room from the window, but not close to the door, either. The room was empty and calm, sheer white curtains billowing out from the window with every small breeze, other than the presence of Deku who was sitting in the bed next to him, scrolling on his phone. Katsuki should’ve been angry and annoyed, but he couldn’t find the energy in himself to be, not with the cat rumbling contentedly in his lap, probably still half asleep. He absent-mindedly stroked the cat between their ears, letting out a low sigh as they went boneless, melting into his touch.

The green-haired teenager’s right arm was in a cast, one that started at his shoulder and extended all the way to his hand, making the task of using his phone a much more difficult one if his facial expression was anything to go by. He looked frustrated, and Katsuki was suddenly struck by how unused to any emotion other than fear on Deku’s face. The moment ended when Deku sighed forcefully and shut off his phone with a click. He immediately looked over at Katsuki, and the awkward eye contact that followed made Katsuki wish he’d never woken up. The cat snickered in his lap, and he shoved them off in retaliation. This seemed to pull Deku out of his thoughts.

“You have a quirk, right? I mean, I’ve assumed all this time, but I’ve never really asked.”

Katsuki’s brow furrowed. Was this pity? Or was Deku laughing at him? “You already know the fucking answer, why even bother asking?” he spat. “Don’t you dare fucking tell anyone!”

Deku laughed humourlessly. “As if I would. Not when you know about my quirk.”

“And what do I know about your stupid-ass quirk, other than the fact that you’ve been hiding it for years?” the blond growled. Deku was definitely laughing at him, probably had been for a long time. Katsuki wondered if it’d made it easier to put up with everything when he knew he could destroy them all with just a flick of his finger.

Deku sputtered, for some reason, and when Katsuki looked back over at him, he was surprised with the shocked expression the other boy had. “H-hiding it? Kacchan I’m the worst liar in Japan! I didn’t even have it to hide before the entrance exam! All – um – it was given to me!”

“’Given’ to you?” Katsuki narrowed his eyes, staring Deku down before snorting in amusement. “Yeah right, you nerd. Like I’d believe something as stupid as that.”

Deku sighed, and looked Katsuki straight in the eye, face set and determined. “I met All Might, that day you were... well... attacked, he agreed to train me. He helped me get ready for the entrance exam, but he didn’t end up giving me his quirk until that morning. That’s why I’m so bad at using it – I’m not used to it yet.”

And it sounded completely stupid and unbelievable, but somehow... it fit. But that still didn’t mean it was true. Katsuki gritted his teeth. “If I had of known you were going to spout nonsense, I wouldn’t have fucking asked.” He growled. “In fact, I didn’t ask, so fuck off!”

Deku opened his mouth as if about to rebuttal when the door squeaked open. The other boy’s mouth snapped shut, and he looked frustrated with Katsuki, again, a weird look on him considering he’d always just seemed scared and worried before. The blond rolled his eyes.

Katsuki’s mom walked into the room, his dad following close behind looking stressed and concerned, probably from dealing with his turbulent wife, and Aizawa trailed in behind them, arms and a bit of his head wrapped up in bandages but looking a lot better than he’d thought he’d be.

Katsuki felt himself tense up as Mitsuki stormed across the room towards him, and he pulled his expression into a tight frown before it could expose how unsettled she made him feel. She stopped just beside his bed, and Katsuki couldn’t stop himself from flinching back when her arm twitched up, but she seemed to realize where she was almost as soon as she moved, and lowered it back to her side, forming her hand into a fist instead. Her blond hair was unruly and wild just like the intensity in her eyes, and as soon as she looked at him, actually looked at him, all of the anger seemed to drain out of her. She moved towards him suddenly, and Katsuki froze in shock, but she only put her arms around him and pulled him into a hug, his chin on her shoulder and her face in his neck, shaking slightly as she started tearing up. He barely reacted at first, distantly embarrassed about what kind of weird expression he must have been wearing, but he really didn’t know what to do. Should he hug her back? Should he rub her back and try and get her to calm down? Did he even owe her that?

“Are you doing okay?” Masaru spoke up, and Katsuki jumped, having forgotten anyone else was there. He didn’t trust himself to speak, didn’t really know what to say, either, so he just nodded.

His mother finally seemed to understand how uncomfortable he was and finally let go, though not without holding his face in her hands for a second and pressing a light kiss to his forehead, leaving Katsuki disordered and apprehensive. Teary-eyed, she looked like she was about to start sobbing, so Katsuki wasn’t at all surprised when she turned to leave, but before she reached the door she paused.

“Fuck you for making us worry so much.” And then she was stalking out just as she’d come in.

The cat mrow-ed and jumped up to sprawl themself across his shoulders. “I will never understand that woman.” Katsuki inclined his head slightly to show his agreement.

Now that Mitsuki was gone, Masaru moved forward and set his hand on his sons’ shoulder. “I’m sorry, she’s been so worried since we got the phone call. You know she’s never been good at expressing herself.” The hand on his shoulder squeezed for a moment, reassuringly. “Aizawa-sensei said he had something he wanted to speak with you about, do you want me to wait?”

Katsuki cleared his throat, a bit overwhelmed. “No.”

“Okay then,” Masaru pulled back, smiling calmly, “We’ll be waiting in the car out front, okay? We’ll go get some dinner when you’re done. Do you need a ride home, Izuku?”

Deku looked stunned and immediately started stuttering. “N-no, it’s fine! My mom should be come-coming to pick me up after she’s done work!”

“Deku.” Katsuki sighed. “Just go get in the car.”

“O-okay!” The green-haired boy squeaked, “Thanks Kacchan!”

Katsuki rolled his eyes as Deku got out of bed, jittery as he went to follow Masaru.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa spoke up from where he’d been sitting silently by the window.

The green-haired boy halted. “Yes, sensei?”

“Make sure that arm doesn’t break itself again over the weekend.”

“You got it, boss!” And then with his good hand, Deku fucking saluted, immediately looking as though he regretted it. “I did not think that through.” He muttered to himself, terrified.

“No, you did not.” Aizawa agreed, and if Katsuki didn’t know him better he would’ve thought he sounded amused. “Have a good weekend, Midoriya.”

“You too, sensei!” Deku peeped before jogging out of the room. Katsuki had to hold back a snicker as his father followed him out, bewildered.

 

Aizawa got up slowly and closed the door. He then took his time walking over to Katsuki’s bed and stuck himself in an armchair beside him.

 

“This doesn’t have to be a hard conversation, Bakugou, I just want to know how you’re doing.” He started, face just as serious as it had always been. “I’m worried about your mental health.”

Katsuki felt cold. “What’s there to fuckin’ worry about.”

Aizawa sighed. “How long have you been having panic attacks?”

“I...” he mumbled, and the cat licked at his cheek. If Aizawa knew he was weak, he’d probably expel him on the spot. “I don’t have them.”

The teacher looked unimpressed. “Many heroes have anxiety or depressive disorders, and PTSD can be a very common occurrence, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it doesn’t make you weak to need help. I’m going to ask you again; are you doing okay?”

Katsuki grumbled, completely missing the pro hero’s eyeroll. “I’m fine, jeez.”

“Whatever. Either way, just take this.” Aizawa handed him a business card. “It has my therapists’ contact information. I want you to spend some time over the next week looking into therapy. You don’t have to see my therapist, but I do want you to see someone. Can I have your word that you’ll do it?”

Katsuki crumpled the card in his hand and shoved it into his pocket, embarrassed. “Fine.” He muttered under his breath, and Aizawa nodded, satisfied, before getting up to leave. It was then that Katsuki remembered what he’d been wanting to ask since the USJ. “Wait,”

The teacher paused in his steps and turned back around. “Yes?”

“The sludge villain... the one that was arrested a while ago... do you know if he’d still in jail?”

Katsuki got his answer right away, in the way Aizawa’s scowl seemed to deepen. “I believe his name was Kano? he escaped about a month ago.” The cat stiffened on his shoulder. “I’m sorry you were never contacted. Does he have anything to do with why Shigaraki spoke to you?”

Katsuki has no idea, but the cat’s weight and warmth keep him grounded. “I saw him before that Kurogiri guy teleported us.”

“What?” the cat worriedly meowed. Katsuki reached up to scratch in between their ears.

Aizawa sighed again, exhausted. “I’ll make sure to inquire about this. For now, go home and rest up. Don’t worry about coming to class tomorrow, I’ll have a classmate photocopy notes and bring them to you tomorrow evening. Please,” he set a hand on the end of Katsuki’s bed, “look into a therapist. I’ll see you on Monday.” He then turned and walked out of the room.

The cat leapt down into his lap, big yellow eyes staring straight through him. “What the fuck happened, Katsu?” their tail swished behind them, the only sign that they were in any way agitated. “I stay back here for one day and you’re brought back in an ambulance?”

Katsuki held back a yawn, drooping back against the wall. “I’ll tell you later. I’m too tired to do this right now.”

The cat grumbled, eyeing Katsuki sternly before jumping to the floor. “Fine, but you’re not off the hook. Let’s go get your dad to pay up on that dinner action, I’m starving.

Chapter Text

The conversation was light, in the car, most of it directed at Deku. Mitsuki’s false laugh trickled out of the window as she kept up small talk, hand on Masaru’s forearm as he drove. The rosy light of the late afternoon sun shone determinedly through the storm clouds, painting the street auburn. The cherry blossoms were shrivelling in the late spring, their once pink blossoms that blanketed the sidewalks now brown, soon to be swept up like dead leaves in the autumn.

Katsuki leaned his head against the window, too tired to pay much attention to the dialogue occurring around him, so he blocked it out, opting to instead watch as the scenery passed by. It was getting warmer as the summer approached, and the people who walked past dressed to reflect that, t-shirts and bare arms where there had been heavy, faux-fur lined jackets only weeks prior. Despite the heat, Katsuki still felt a chill that ran deeper than his skin, and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his ripped up uniform jacket, fiddling with a piece of paper he found inside it. He tried to relax, though he still felt on edge. The cat had left him once they arrived in the car, content to lay on the middle seat in between the two boys, with their head propped up on Deku’s lap as he stroked in between their ears. They purred, a low rumble that filled the car with its calming sound, and when they saw Katsuki looking at him, they moved their tail to wrap its tip around his wrist. The blond rolled his eyes and huffed, turning to look back out the window, ignoring the small hissing laugh that his actions prompted. What a fucking turncoat. He absently pulled the piece of paper out of his pocket, maybe he could make a fucking crane out of it or something, to distract himself from the scattered conversation and the small, worried glances he was receiving from the front seat.

He almost didn’t process what it was before he made the first fold, and when he did, he wished he hadn’t. It was the card for Aizawa’s therapist. Katsuki sighed raggedly and debated ripping it up and throwing it away. His mother would see, though, if he did it here, it would be best to wait until they got home. He studied it, mildly curious despite the indignation that came with feeling underestimated. It was rectangular, a calming lavender with loopy, white lettering that spelt out the name ‘Kasai Megumi’. Huh. She had the same last name as his sensei at the dojo. It wasn’t a very popular family name, was it? He hadn’t heard it used very often. Katsuki was pulled from his thoughts by beginning chords of the All Might: Heroes of Light theme song, and he flinched, surprised. Deku looked apologetic, as he pulled his phone out of his pocket, clicking the buttons on the side like mad to turn down the volume.

“Sorry, Mrs. Bakugou, it’s my mom, do you mind if I take this?”

“No, of course!” Mitsuki brushed him off, “Go right ahead!”

Katsuki shoved the business card in his pocket before his mother looked his way, and feigned distraction as he looked back out the window. Deku put the phone to his ear.

“Hi, mom! ... Yes, I’m fine, the Bakugou’s offered to drive me home... No, that’s fine, really! I think there’re leftovers in the fridge...”

“Is she going to be late getting home?” Mitsuki asked from the front seat, she was probably eavesdropping on the conversation, the nag.

“Yes,” Deku replied, ear still to the phone, “No, mom, I was just talking to Auntie.”

“If you’re going to be alone the rest of the night, you might as well come with us and stay over the night,” Mitsuki grinned, eyes running over to rest on her son. “Katsuki won’t mind.”

“Oh no! I couldn’t p-possibly intrude!” the green-haired boy stuttered, looking over to Katsuki as well. “And I’m sure Kacchan would rather I didn’t.”

Katsuki sighed, exhausted. All he really wanted was to go back to bed. “I don’t care.” He muttered, leaning his head against the glass and shutting his eyes to avoid the victorious smile he knew he would see on his mom’s face and the shock that was probably lighting up Deku’s.

“W-well then, okay... I g-guess?” He spoke, nervously. “U-um, mom? Auntie invited me to stay over so I think I’m gonna do that... Yeah, she said it’d be fine...”

Katsuki tuned out the rest of the conversation as a warm lump climbed up onto his lap. Stupid cat.

 

 

The rest of the drive was pretty quiet, his father picked up pizza on the way home, which they ate as soon as they got back. Mayo, shrimp, and red pepper were normally exciting, both because they were his favourite toppings, and family didn’t eat take-out that often much less pizza with how unhealthy it was, but Katsuki still found himself unable to eat more than a couple bites of his slice without feeling nauseous. Everything tasted like dirt, and in all honesty, all he wanted was to scrub the taste of it from his mouth and the anxiety from his skin before retreating to his room for the night. He needed time to piece himself back together before class on Monday. But of course, he couldn’t have that.

“Izuku, why don’t you shower first, and I’ll have Katsuki help me pull out the futon for you?” Masaru asked, and god, Katsuki knew he was just trying to be courteous to their guest, but could nobody tell how spent he was? Katsuki didn’t catch Deku’s reply, instead getting up to shove his unfinished slice of pizza in front of the cat, who ate it up hurriedly. It probably wasn’t very healthy, but the blond was fairly certain they would tell him if there was something poisonous on the plate. After the Bombay had licked the plate clean, he retrieved it and loaded it into the dishwasher.

“U-um okay, uncle! Thank you for the food!”

“It’s no problem, Izu-kun!” Mitsuki smiled widely, voice sweet and unassuming.

Masaru gathered the dishes from the table, passing dirty cups to Katsuki to load into the dishwasher as he scraped pizza crust and fallen toppings into the compost bin.

“Katsuki,” his father spoke, interrupting the quiet, besides the clink of silverware, “would you mind grabbing something Izuku can use as pyjamas? Then we can put some sheets on the futon.”

Katsuki grunted in reply, too tired to put up much of a fight, and trudged out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Somewhere along the line, the cat had jumped up into his arms, something he only processed when he found himself standing outside his bedroom door with an armful of cat and no hands to open the doorknob. Somehow, he managed, shifting the cat into one arm to hold them like a baby as he jimmied the handle, and shoved the door with his hip, letting it swing open. He set the cat on his black and orange blanket covered bed, which was near the back window, and grabbed the smallest pair of sweatpants he owned along with a t-shirt he’d worn in middle school from his dresser; Deku was small, much smaller than Katsuki despite how much he’d bulked up in the past year, and Katsuki still thought the clothes would be big on him. Whatever, he shrugged, he’d done his fucking duty, and he left the room. He grabbed a bath towel from the linen closet as he walked past it and set the pile of fabric on the bathroom counter, before walking back to his bedroom. He closed the door behind him and sat on his bed, letting out a long, low breath. The cat curled into his side, nudging at his hand for pats, and the air was still for a couple moments as Katsuki soothed himself by running his fingers through the cat’s glossy black fur. The window was still open from when Katsuki had opened it that morning, and the dense, auburn light of the dying sun cloaked the room in fire. The breeze blowing in was pleasantly cool, a last remnant of the dying season. The mourning birds perched in their nest were silent, for once, and Katsuki could hear the neighbourhood kids out playing in the street.

“Is this going to be okay?” the cat asked, nudging him with a paw.

“Is what gonna be okay,” Katsuki responded, mind pleasantly blank.

The cat let out a small, frustrated mrow. “Midoriya staying here.”

Katsuki exhaled, watching as a spider crawled its way up the wall near the door. “If I sleep through it, it will.”

“But what about... the dreams?”

“I had my time to freak out earlier,” the blond scratched the cat’s forehead, smoothing out their fur. “I should be fine.”

The cat was silent for a moment, contemplating their next words while cleaning their whiskers. “I know you’re exhausted now, but will you tell me what happened sometime before Monday?”

“... Yeah.” He didn’t really want to think about it, but he owed it to the cat to at least explain himself.

The room went quiet again, and the cat moved on to grooming themself, a warm, rhythmic weight leaning against his side. Katsuki watched the warm sunlight fade as the sun set, the room slowly filling with dark purple shadow. The sounds of laughter and the periodic slap of a ball against the pavement outside slowly faded as the kids went home for the night, probably called in for dinner or homework. The blankets were soft beneath him, thick and warm, and he barely noticed he was drifting to sleep, until someone knocked on the door and opened it, slowly. The light flickered on, chasing all the indigo shadows away into corners and under furniture, and Katsuki was left blinking with eyes that screamed at him in discomfort.

“Fuck,” he muttered, quickly moving to shade them from the harsh, unnatural light.

“Sorry,” his father answered, stepping into the room, “I should have asked first.”

Katsuki clicked his tongue instead of replying, and slowly raised his gaze to the guy as his eyes adjusted to the light. Masaru had the futon under one arm, and a set of navy polka-dotted single sheets; he probably wanted help setting up. Hopefully nothing else, Katsuki didn’t have the energy for the big conversation he knew his father would try to instigate at some point.

As if reading his mind, his father turned to him, setting down the sheets. “I don’t want you getting nervous right now, your mother and I know you’re in no place to talk tonight, but at some time this weekend, we do need to converse and come to some kind of decision looking into therapists. We promised your homeroom teacher we would.”

All Katsuki could do was nod, and he slowly got to his feet, leaving the cat to finish grooming their paws on the bed. He trudged over to his father, and slowly started helping him make the bed. “Is Deku in the shower?”

“Yeah, he’s been in there for about twenty minutes now, so you should be able to use it soon.”

Katsuki nodded again as he tucked in the sheets.

Masaru was quick to leave after the futon had been made, probably a lot more aware than Katsuki wanted him to be of his son’s discomfort at his presence. Deku slipped out of the bathroom not too long after that, and the blond ignored him as he grabbed his clothes and towel, brushing past him in the hall. He almost fell asleep a couple times in the shower, his head leaning against the tile wall under the molten heat of the water, and it took him two times longer than normal to lazily scrub the mud from his limbs and under his fingernails. Eventually, he got out, immediately missing the heat, and dried himself off with the towel, before pulling on a pair of sweatpants and his old Black Widow shirt. The towel got thrown in the direction of the laundry bin, but Katsuki didn’t stick around long enough to see if it’d made it. He trailed back to his room, closing the door behind him when he’d arrived, and once again completely disregarded Deku who was now sitting awkwardly on the futon doing homework by the light of the desk lamp. He turned off the overhead light, figuring the lamp would be enough for whatever the hell Deku was doing, and collapsed into bed, wrapping himself tightly into a blanket burrito. The cat, who had been sitting on the windowsill, watching the mourning doves prepare for the night with an air of superiority, immediately leapt down and up onto the bed, settling themselves on Katsuki’s chest, something the blond was thankful for. The warm weight soothed him, and he passed out as soon as he closed his eyes.

 

 

He woke up gasping for air that he couldn’t seem to find, wheezing as if he’d run thirty laps without break. He didn’t know what had woken him up, but the memory of two, large ochre eyes staring out of the shadows of the trees gave him an idea. Fuck, he really thought that he would be fine. Theoretically, he knew he was fine, he knew where he was, he could see the room well and the shadows were practically non-existent from the light of the nearly full moon that shone helpfully through his window, but he couldn’t seem to get his breathing under control. In fact, the wheezing just got worse. The cat was looking at him worriedly from where they were curled up in his lap, giving his hand small licks as if trying to calm him. But it wasn’t enough, why wasn’t it enough, if he wasn’t careful fucking Deku would wake up and – there was a rustling from the futon, and the green-haired boy sat up sleepily, rubbing at his eyes.

“Kacchan?” he spoke tiredly, peering up at him from the floor, from his mess of sheets and Katsuki’s old All Might blanket. “Are you okay?”

Katsuki couldn’t take the pity he saw in his eyes when he finally seemed to understand what was going on, and the low rasp that came out of the blond’s mouth when he tried to respond only made it worse. The cat sat up, getting his attention, and climbed up, forcing themself into his arms. Katsuki held them tightly against him, and the soft rumbling, nervous purr helped a little bit. Faintly, through the rushing in his ears, he could hear Deku prompting him through breathing exercises, and gradually, breathing got easier. Which would’ve been good, had the tears not started afterwards.

He could hear himself gasping through them, his vision blurring, and he buried his face in the cat’s fur, hiding his face. “Shit,” he rasped in between tears. He pulled away from the hand he could feel on his arm and backed himself up to the wall on the other side of his bed, “Shit.

“Kacchan –”

Shut up!” Katsuki snarled, tensing up, and the cat licked his cheek.

“Calm down,” they muttered, nuzzling into the side of his face.

Katsuki tried to, he really did, but the contrast between him and Deku since middle school was really fucking with him. How weak must he be now, if he was breaking down in front of Deku?

“Kacchan, what’s –” Deku tried again, but Katsuki just shook his head, cutting him off, but apparently, the green-haired boy was refusing to accept it. “No, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not looking down on you!”

Katsuki looked up from behind the cat, glaring silently at him. “Yeah right, I’m weak, why wouldn’t you be looking down on me?”

Deku was frustrated, that much was clear, “No you’re not! Why would I be looking down on you?”

“I just had a fucking panic attack because I had a dream about a pair of eyes!” Katsuki listed off, ducking his face back down into the cat’s soft fur, “Why wouldn’t you be looking down on me?” he reiterated.

“Kacchan, you’re the strongest person I know! You’re the one who’s inspired me to work so hard to try and become a hero!” And now Deku was crying as well, the fucking crybaby.

“Why the fuck’re you crying?” Katsuki asked before he could stop himself.

“Because you’re crying!” Deku sobbed, wiping roughly at his leaky eyes, “I can’t help it!”

“Fuck you!”

“No, fuck you!” the other boy cried out, and Katsuki froze, he’d never heard him swear before. “I’ve wanted to be you for years; I still want to be you! I feel like I’ll never catch up to you!”

“What the hell?” Katsuki said, genuinely confused, “you have a quirk that lets you destroy anything in one punch! How can you not think you’re better than me!”

“If you didn’t notice, Kacchan, I break my bones every time I use it. Plus, it feels like I’ve barely worked for it all, especially compared to everything you’ve worked through!”

Huh. It was one thing to feel angry about Deku’s sudden over-powered quirk, he almost always felt some degree of anger, after all, it was hard for him to tell what actually warranted anger anymore. It was another thing to have your frustrations justified by the source of the problem.

“You’ve taken a quirk that seems hard to apply to being a pro hero, and you’ve worked through that and made it work!” The cat hissed at that, turning their head towards Deku, and the boy immediately started backtracking. “No, wait, I didn’t mean that in a bad way! It’s just you’ve been able to use it for so many situations that I would’ve never thought of!”
“Chill out, nerd, they’re just fucking with you.” Katsuki interrupted, and the cat immediately started laughing, a noise that didn’t seem to comfort Deku much.

“They don’t sound like they are...”

Katsuki scratched behind their ears softly, and they head-butted his hand, chasing it for more pats when he tried to pull away. “They’re laughing, stupid.”

“O-oh,” Deku chuckled nervously. “W-well, okay. Are you okay? Do you want me to grab you some water or something?”

Katsuki sighed. “Go the fuck to sleep, Izuku.”

The green-haired boy let out a shocked, high-pitched ‘eep!’. “O-okay! Good night Kacchan!”

The blond rolled his eyes and watched the boy quickly roll over, pulling the blankets back over himself, and Katsuki shifted the weight of the cat into one arm so that he could grab his phone.

He climbed back under the sheets, laying with his back to the wall, and the cat wormed their way under the blankets to curl up near his stomach. He clicked his phone on to see several notifications from both the group chat he’d been forced into with Shitty Hair, Racoon Eyes, Pikachu, and Soy Sauce and two text messages from an unknown number, which he decided to check first.

 

Unknown Number: Hello, this is Tokoyami, I received your number from Kirishima.

LEM: who?

Unknown Number: My quirk is Dark Shadow; a demonic entity is bound to my existence. Also, I have the head of a raven.

LEM: okay, what do you want?

Unknown Number: I just wanted to check that you are doing okay. It was good to work with you today.

LEM: it’s whatever

LEM: i’m fine

 

Surprisingly, three dots popped up at the bottom of the screen, indicating the guy was typing. Weird that he was awake at... 4 AM. Wow, he’d made it longer than normal without nightmares. Impressive.

 

Bird Brain: I thought you would say that. Those of us who battle with the darkness often deny it. I wanted to let you know you can talk to me about anything if you wish to. I will not judge.

LEM: what the fuck are you doing up so late and what the fuck is ‘battle with the darkness’ supposed to mean?

LEM: and i said i’m fine, bird brain

Bird Brain: I will back off, sorry If I upset you.

LEM: it’s fine, asshole. stop being so formal.

Bird Brain: You’re strange, Bakugou. Have a good night.

LEM: whatever.

 

Well... that was something. Katsuki was curious as to what was keeping the guy up but putting in the effort of asking seemed too tall an order for so early in the morning. He tapped out of the chat, turning his attention instead to the group chat he shared with his classmates, the name of which changed daily. Currently, it was called ‘Flex Tape Sandwich’, and despite having only been changed that morning, Katsuki couldn’t remember why. He opened the conversation and scrolled up to read the new messages. He thumbed past the unread messages from before the trip, ignoring the conversation about whether or not carrying around a mini bottle of ketchup should be socially acceptable. The messages ended before the trip to the USJ and started up again around 6 PM.

 

Acid Queen: Hey guys! where’s baku?

pet rock: Hey Mina! He’s... not doing too good? I don’t know the specifics, but they already took him back to school to see Recovery Girl.

barry b benson: not my patron!

Acid Queen: Denki,,, you can’t just say he’s your patron bc he bought you one (1) bag of cool ranch doritos.

phil swift: yea denks i doubt he would even wanna endorse half the shit u pull

barry b benson: R U D E

barry b benson: sero don’t tell me you only came online to trash talk me

barry b benson: i’m gonna S U E

Alien Queen: Do your best, sweetheart!

barry b benson: (◍╹∀╹◍) 凸

phil swift: were u with baku, kiri?

pet rock: Yeah, we made it to the centre, we were trying to help fight off the head guys. Didn’t turn out so well.

Alien Queen: Oh no! does that mean baku’s really badly hurt?

pet rock: Well... I don’t really think it’s my place to say? He’ll be fine, I think. I mean, I hope?

pet rock: Sorry, guys, gotta go.

- pet rock has signed off -

phil swift: reassuring.

barry b benson: well damn, jackie! i can’t control the weather!

phil swift: fuk u denks

barry b benson: 凸ಠ益ಠ)凸

Alien Queen: WTF WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND THAT SKSKSKKKSS

phil swift: IS THAT BAKUGOU, WHAT THE HELL

Alien Queen: OH MY GOD IT ISSSSS

- barry b benson changed LEM’s name to )  -

phil swift: OH MY GOD DENKS NOT EVEN ALL MIGHT WILL BE ABLE TO SAVE U

barry b benson: personally, i think it’s an upgrade. what did lem even stand for, anyway?

Alien Queen: Idk, kiri’ll probably know.

Alien Queen: @pet-rock

- pet rock has signed on -

pet rock: What’s up?

phil swift: read up

pet rock: Oh! Bakugou made up a quirk he wanted when he was younger and designed a whole character around it! He wanted his quirk to make explosions out of his sweat kinda like his dad, and he wanted his hero name to be Lord Explosion Murder!

barry b benson: i-

Alien Queen: OH MY GOD THAT IS SO SOFT!!!!

phil swift: soft? he wanted his hero name 2 b lord explosion murder. idk about u guys, but i’m doing a concern.

Alien Queen: But imagine lil baby baku! running around with a blanket cape, pretending to shoot villains down with lil baby baku’splosions! Fucking adorable, you funky lil dudes!

barry b benson: guys i’m d y i n g, kiri you’re as good as dead, holy shit

barry b benson: i mean i’m so glad you told us, i’ve never been happier to learn something, but like shit if i’m dead meat then you’re a rotting corpse

pet rock: I regret nothing. Plus, I have time to move to Sapporo and form a new identity so that he’ll never find me. Bye guys, it’s been real.

 

And then there were fifteen messages that spanned from spamming f’s in the chat, to arguing over who got to burn Shitty Hair’s apparently large croc collection after his abandonment. Fucking traitor deserved to have his stuff burned, Katsuki didn’t even know how he’d learned about LEM. Maybe he’d had it scribbled somewhere in a notebook or something? He’d have to destroy all physical evidence later. Katsuki huffed and went back to scrolling through messages, stopping towards the bottom of the chat. They’d all left messages telling him to feel better soon before signing off for the night and Katsuki tried to hold back a small smirk as he typed out his reply.

 

- ) has signed on -

): stop exposing me in the gc, i’m not fucking soft! how did you even find out about lem?

): also what the fuck is this emoticon, it’s so cursed

- ) changed their name to LEM -

LEM: good fucking night, i guess

- LEM has signed off -

 

----------

 

When Katsuki woke up the second time, the house was silent. The cat was still slumbering under the blankets, curled up into his side, but Deku – Izuku, he reminded himself – was gone along with any indication he’d been there. The only sign there’d even been anyone else in the room, was the folded sheets and clothing he’d leant the green-haired boy to sleep in on his desk. The futon was gone, probably put away back in his mom’s closet. Katsuki sat up and stretched, yawning. He hadn’t expected to get back to sleep, but he was glad he had; he felt a lot better after the (semi) good night’s sleep. He grabbed his phone from where he must have dropped in on the floor at some point and checked the time. 10 AM, and a text from his mother explaining that Izuku had woken up early to see his mother off to work and that she had taken the day off. Great, Katsuki thought, massaging his temple at the already blooming headache the idea provoked. She was probably going to yell at him for sleeping in, or something. Katsuki sighed and slowly got out of bed, shifting the cat enough for them to let out an annoyed growl. Their head popped out of the blankets like a whack-a-mole arcade game, and Katsuki couldn’t stop himself from grinning at the sight. Their midnight black fur was stuck up all over the place, and the expression on their flat face was so unimpressed that Katsuki found himself laughing.

“C’mon, you flea-bag, let’s go get some food before the hag storms the room because we’re sleeping too late.”

The Bombay untangled themself from the blankets, still staring Katsuki down. “Fine, but you’re carrying me since you woke me up.”

“Would you rather I let you starve?” Katsuki rolled his eyes, but he still leaned forward to pick up the cat. They ignored their usual spot on his shoulders in favour of snuggling into his chest, tail swaying limply as he walked towards the door. He awkwardly opened it, trying his best to keep from disturbing them, before making his way downstairs.

The kitchen was empty when he arrived, a welcome surprise as he’d been expecting a rant from his mother about his tardiness. He shrugged, setting the cat down on the counter where they stretched briefly, then jumped up to the window ledge to nap in the morning sun. Katsuki grabbed himself a bowl of cereal, not feeling like cooking, and hopped up on the counter to eat. The morning was peaceful, the sky outside a bright blue and the birds on the windowsill were quiet other than the light twittering of their chicks. They’d be teaching them to fly soon, something the blond hoped he wouldn’t miss. He did wish they would hurry up and teach them to speak soon, though, it was odd to not be able to understand them. The closest thing he could compare it to was a babbling baby. He turned away from the window and pulled out his phone as he crunched on his cereal. He’d had some notifications from the group chat, which was now labelled ‘Bakugou is a Fucking Softy™’, when he’d gotten up, and he figured he had better answer some questions before one of them found his house and set it on fire for answers.

 

phil swift: hjgfdh holy crap, bakugou

Alien Queen: It’s actually true??? Softy™ Bakugou confirmed!!!

- Alien Queen changed the chat name to ‘Bakugou is a Fucking Softy™’ –

barry b benson: kiri i fucking l*ve you

- pet rock has signed on -

pet rock: gay

- pet rock has signed off -

barry b benson: hFJDSJSHFDJS KIRI

Alien Queen: SKSKSKSKKSKSKKSKSKKSKKS

- barry b benson changed their name to The Moon™ -

phil swift: what the hell?

- pet rock has signed on -

pet rock: it’s not gay if it’s on the moon

- pet rock has signed off -

The Moon™: I’M SOBBINF

Alien Queen: Gay Cryptid Hero: Red Riot

phil swift: MINA NO DFSJHDJSKDJFKJSH

The Moon™: @pet-rock GET BACK HERE, JERK

- pet rock has signed on -

pet rock: Et tu, bitch?

The Moon™: KIRIPIMAJKFJFUCKINGHELLDFSNJS

The Moon™: I WANTED TO ASK WHERE BAKU IS HOLY SHIT

pet rock: Oh, he’s at home, Aizawa-sensei told me he’s supposed to be back for Monday

- LEM has signed on -

The Moon™: BAKU!!!

LEM: Et tu, bitch?

 

Katsuki smirked at the key smash that followed.

 

The Moon™: well screw you too, asshole!

Alien Queen: Baku!!! are you doing okay? what happened???

LEM: just dealing with some shit, i’m fine. like shitty hair said, i’ll be back monday

The Moon™: WAIT I HAVE A QUESTION

LEM: fucking hell pikachu, what the fuck is it

The Moon™: why lord explosion murder when sparky-sparky-boom-man is Right The Fuck There

phil swift: JFDSKSKDFJ DENKSKSKSK HOLY CRAP

LEM:

LEM: i can’t believe i’m typing the but who the hell is sparky-sparky-boom-man

The Moon™: i can’t believe I’M typing this, you haven’t seen atla???

LEM: the hell is atla

The Moon™: the best show there is??? are you doing anything today????

LEM: no? why?

The Moon™: watch it. that’s your homework.

LEM: and why the fuck should i

The Moon™: because you’ll CATCH THESE HANDS if you don’t!!!

phil swift: me too, bitch, square up

pet rock:

LEM: not you too, shitty hair

pet rock: all i’m gonna say is that if you don’t spend your time productively this weekend, you’ll be dead to me J

Alien Queen: AH SHIT HE PULLED OUT THE SMILEY FACE

LEM: wait what

phil swift: IT’S THE SMILEY FACE OF BARELY CONCEALED MURDEROUS RAGE

The Moon™: I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’VE DONE THIS

LEM: fucking hell, chill out, i’ll fucking watch it

pet rock: good J

- pet rock has signed off -

Alien Queen: I’m shaking

The Moon™: i’m quaking

phil swift: that was terrifying

The Moon™: you know shits real when he stops typing like a boomer

 

Katsuki rolled his eyes and shut off his phone. Looked like he had a long day ahead of him.

 

Mitsuki finally walked in after he’d finished half of the first season of Avatar, curled up on the couch with the cat, his All Might blanket, and a cup of tea, with his laptop on his lap. He had to admit the show was good, better than he’d thought it was going to be so far having been recommended by lunatics, but he’d found himself enjoying the stupid, silly nature of the characters early on, and how relaxed the plot felt despite the intensity that the characters faced. The cat had kept up a running commentary during the entire thing, making Katsuki snort his tea out of his nose a couple times when he tried to stop himself from laughing. He was going to have to wash his blanket sometime soon.

“Katsuki?” Mitsuki called out from the doorway, and he jumped. “Do you want some lunch?”

“Uh sure?” he responded, confused. He paused the episode and turned to look at her, but she was turning the corner into the kitchen before he could say anything else.

“That was weird,” the cat mrow-ed, yellow eyes following the woman out of the room.

“You don’t fucking say,” Katsuki responded lowly. He waited a couple minutes to see if she would call him to come help and when she didn’t, all he could do was turn to the cat and shrug. “Okay then?”

The cat tapped the space bar on his laptop with a single outstretched claw, and the eleventh episode resumed.

 

It was around fifteen minutes later when Mitsuki walked back into the room, placing a bowl of box macaroni and cheese on a coaster on the table beside him, and a bowl of cat food on the floor. Once again, though, she slipped from the room before he could say anything in return. The cat let out an unamused meow and jumped down from the couch to begin eating. Katsuki paused the episode again.

“Is she like... guilty or something?” he mused, keeping his voice down so that his mom wouldn’t realize he was talking to a fucking cat.

“I mean, it’s the only logical conclusion I can come to from how she’s acting,” the cat answered after swallowing their mouthful of food, licking up a piece of kibble they’d dropped on the carpet. “Wow! She even got the good stuff!”

“True...” Katsuki ignored the cat’s enthused munching, pulling his bowl of mac ‘n cheese towards him. “She always works around apologizing, I guess.”

“Whatever just eat! I wanna get back to the show!”

Katsuki rolled his eyes at the cat’s antics, lifting a spoonful of pasta to his lips. They were right to downplay it; it wasn’t like this apparent apology was different from any of the others... was it?

 

 

In the end, Katsuki was only able to make it through the first season by the time his father got home from work, and his mother ended up calling him to help with dinner. It’d been a very relaxing day apart from Mitsuki’s odd behaviour, which had kept him on slightly edge. Where she’d have jumped to fight before, she’s been almost silent all day, other than making him lunch for some reason and checking in to see that he was okay a couple times. He’d spent part of the days texting his classmates who really should’ve been paying attention to their teacher instead of messaging him, and exchanging a few short sentences with Bird Brain during the scheduled lunch period while keeping half an eye on Avatar. He’d never spent much time watching cartoons before, mostly watching action movies or documentaries that caught his exhausted two AM eyes, so he was surprised at how much he liked it, and the wholesomeness of it. It was kind of stupid, but the entire ‘found family’ aspect of it made him feel really warm. Which was. Weird to think about.

He was still thinking of the show later while helping his mother prep dinner in the kitchen. She had decided on curry, her personal recipe with potatoes and carrots and just enough ghost pepper to melt your face off without danger of an emergency room visit. She was also planning on adding beef, which Katsuki was tasked with cubing while she stirred the sauce and added the curry powder.

The room was silent other than rhythmic beeping of the rice cooker, the slow bubbling curry, and the faint plop-ing noise of the carrots Mitsuki was pouring into it. She took the bowl of cubed beef once Katsuki finished with it, and seamlessly passed him the bag of ghost peppers after he’d washed his hands. He grabbed a pair of disposable rubber gloves from the pantry and cleaned his knife off on his apron, before turning to tackle the peppers. The cat jumped from the windowsill with a sneeze, leaving the kitchen in a hurry before the blond could even start. He snickered to himself. Coward.

The peppers didn’t take very long to chop, cutting them in half and scraping the seeds out of them before mincing them with a practised hand. There were only four of them, about as many as Katsuki and his mother could handle, though he could already hear his father complaining that the curry wasn’t spicy enough. As much as Katsuki would’ve loved to brag about having the highest spice tolerance in his family, his father’s existence made it a completely unattainable dream. The old man could eat habaneros raw without breaking a sweat, never mind the seeds, a snack he often brought with them when his mother took the family hiking when Katsuki was little.

When Katsuki was finished with the peppers, he scraped them off of the cutting board into the curry pot on the stove and threw his gloves in the garbage. With the vegetables already simmering and his mother busy cooking the meat, Katsuki wiped his hands on a clean part of his apron before setting it down on one of the kitchen chairs and inched out of the awkwardness of the kitchen. Mitsuki’s apologies had never lasted this long before, so he was nervous that the moment he did something wrong she would snap. Spending less time in her presence seemed like a much better plan than waiting for that to happen. He almost bumped into his father in the hallway, who seemed to be heading into the kitchen, and the man looked relieved when he saw his son.

“Oh, good I was a little worried. Was today okay? She didn’t say anything, did she?”

“No...” Katsuki responded, gruffly, “What’s she fucking doing, anyway? She’s been quiet all day, only talked to me to ask if I wanted lunch and then she made it.”

Masaru put a hand on his shoulder. “She... she’s been feeling pretty badly lately, that’s all,” he said grimly, “I’m going to go and have a word with her. Go hang out in the family room until dinner’s ready, yeah?”

The brown-haired man patted Katsuki’s shoulder twice and gave him a kind smile before continuing into the kitchen. Katsuki knew he’d been dismissed, but he was too curious to ignore whatever was going on. He pressed himself against the wall, just outside the kitchen, trying to catch the hushed whispers that had started up as his father approached the stove. It was too quiet, Katsuki grumbled quietly to himself and moved closer a couple feet. Of all the times for his mother to choose to be quiet, why now? He had to move closer to the empty doorway before he was able to catch anything.

 

“Mitsu, it’ll be fine,” his father was saying, a comforting arm on his wife’s shoulder.

“No, it won’t, Masaru, you weren’t there today, he went silent every time I walked into the room!” Mitsuki whispered, obviously frustrated, “He obviously didn’t want to piss me off! Why am I so bad at this, it’s been almost sixteen years!” Her voice grew as she spoke, and Masaru rubbed her shoulder slowly to get her to calm down. Katsuki swallowed, he’d hadn’t seen the hag show more than anger in the last couple years, it was strange to see her so worked up without the yelling and cursing.

He watched from the hallway as his father pulled his mother into a hug, kissing her temple tenderly, apparently not knowing how to respond. Katsuki rolled his eyes, yeah right, his father was probably just scared of saying anything that might set her off.

Mitsuki squeezed the man tightly, and Katsuki watched his mother start to shake, from anger or something else, he couldn’t tell. Before he could be caught, he backed away and headed back to the family room. With how... emotional his mother had seemed, he didn’t want to do anything to pin that attention onto him. The cat was curled up atop his All Might blanket, probably had been since the smell of peppers drove them from the kitchen, and they stirred as Katsuki sat down next to them, pulling his knees up to his chin.

“What’s up?” they asked sleepily, “You don’t look too good.”

“Thanks for pointing it out,” Katsuki snapped, burying his face in his knees, “As if I don’t already know.”

The cat sat up and stretched before settling down again and wrapping their tail around their white paws. They fixed Katsuki with an icy yellow gaze. “No need to take whatever’s going on out on me, Katsu,” they hissed, eyes narrowing.

“Sorry, sorry, fucking hell,” Katsuki responded sarcastically. The cat poked him with a sharp claw, and he forced down the hiss of pain he’d almost articulated. He turned to glare at them, but they just stared back unwaveringly with the same heavily pronounced scowl. If only he didn’t have this stupid quirk, he wouldn’t be able to tell they were upset at all. Almost immediately after he had the thought, he felt bad. Yeah, he didn’t like having the cat upset with him, but at least he had someone to talk to. With a loud puff of a sigh, he leaned his head against the backrest of the couch, looking up at the popcorn ceiling. The cat grumbled, clearly still annoyed with him, but they settled against his side anyways, a comforting, warm weight. Katsuki hoped the fact that he wasn’t shoving them away was enough of an apology and he closed his eyes, blocked out the room, and let out a slow breath. He was too emotionally exhausted to deal with his mother’s shit, and he really didn’t want to think about it now. Instead, after giving himself another couple minutes to reassemble himself, he pulled his laptop back towards him from the coffee table and pressed play.

 

 

Dinner was a silent affair. Despite not eating anything other than a bowl of cereal and a bit of mac n’ cheese during the day, he still found himself picking at his helping of curry. Logically, he knew the dish was delicious, but as the sky darkened, all he could think about was the nightmares he would probably face that night, and the thick, rich sauce turned to mud in his mouth. He only ate a couple of bites, before he had to stop, completely chugging his glass of water to clear out the taste of dirt. He pushed his bowl away from him slightly. His father tried to talk to him several times after that, about how his day had gone, even going as far as to try and get him to eat more curry. He nearly brought up the events at the USJ, but Katsuki ignored each question he posed, answering only with a couple words before going back to picking at the hem of his shirt. The debatable calmness of the day was wearing away into thick anxiety of what would happen that night, and with the rising panic, all Katsuki wanted was to go to bed and make the darkness pass as quickly as possible.

After about twenty minutes of listening to his father skirt around the issue and watching his mother sit unnaturally quietly at the dinner table as she too ate her curry without appetite, Katsuki had had enough. He got up and saran-wrapped his bowl and shoved it in the fridge. The cat climbed him like a tree, claws sinking into his clothing as they hoisted themself up to his shoulders, and Katsuki left the kitchen, grabbing his things from the family room before trudging up to his bedroom. Once reaching it, he threw his blanket on the bed and plugged his laptop in to charge, before burrowing his way under his comforter. The cat curled up on his chest like normal, their fuzzy head tucked under his chin and tried to let their warm weight ground him. He let out a long, low breath, trying his best to regulate the irregular thumping of his heartbeat, and let the tension drain from his limbs, one at a time. Despite the calming techniques, he still found himself staring at the ceiling for a while before quietly dropping off into sleep.

 

 

Just like clockwork, Katsuki woke up, drenched in sweat and panting at 3 AM the next morning, the cat purring nervously in his ear and licking at his cheek. The darkness of his bedroom was familiar, as was the stupid birds singing outside of his window, and the smell of the vanilla laundry softener he liked to use. Unlike normal, Katsuki’s throat hurt terribly, and he found himself wheezing as if he’d just spent the last hour screaming.

His nightmare had been different from normal, probably something that was to be expected after the USJ. He’d been thrown back into that godforsaken pond from the facility, but it had been larger, much larger, the size of an ocean instead of a small lake. And the water had been thicker, darker, dirtier; it hadn’t been hard to understand why. Not when every time he sank below the surface, he could see those eyes, those infuriatingly orange eyes staring back at him eerily from the depths. And the thick sludge that filled his throat every time his mouth went under, filling his chest with mud and mire. He could feel his breath rasping even more as he thought about it, the edges of his vision turning hazy as his mouth filled with the taste of mud.

The cat was saying something, growing increasingly more frantic, caterwauling in their attempts to communicate, but Katsuki couldn’t hear them over the rushing water in his ears. Time moved sluggishly and all too fast at the same time. Someone was yelling hoarsely, and he couldn’t tell who. All he knew was the pain in his chest, the wetness on his cheeks, and the thick taste in his mouth. He wasn’t sure if it was in his head or not, but he could swear he could hear heavy footsteps rushing towards him, and everything grew to be too much. The lights came on suddenly, and he was gasping for breath, eyes stinging as he grasped for something, anything to hold onto. The ringing and yelling seemed to go on for seconds or hours, he couldn’t seem to decide, but eventually, Katsuki found it easier to breathe, stuttering breaths leaving his chest in pained huffs, the cat’s grounding weight in his arms. A sweet, floral scent filled his nostrils, both calming and anxiety-inducing at the same time. Katsuki wrenched open his eyes, heartbeat pounding wildly despite the waning adrenaline rush that had accompanied his dream. His mother’s face swam in front of his eyes and he froze as he struggled to calm himself again. The woman had tears pouring down her cheeks, her expression both distressed and frustrated. She took his face in her hands, wiping away the wetness from under his eyes and the cat started hissing.

“Get away from him, you lunatic, you’re going to make everything worse!” they snarled, fur puffed up angrily, tail lashing against his stomach. Mitsuki looked hurt, though Katsuki knew she couldn’t understand them, and she let go of him as if burned. The cat let out one last loud growl before curling back into Katsuki’s arms. They gently kneaded the palm of his left hand with their paws, and he didn’t know whether they were trying to comfort him or scent him, probably some combination of the two with how protective of him they were around his mother.

Slowly, his heart stopped racing and his hands stopped shaking enough for Katsuki to accept a cup of juice from Masaru, who’d been standing to his side and rubbing his back as he got his breathing under control. The icy liquid felt wonderful on his hoarse throat, just thin enough that it didn’t send him back into another spiral of panic. It washed away a good portion of the muddy taste, it’s strong flavour sweet and tart enough to distract him from the rest. He sat there for a couple seconds, just breathing and drinking his juice. Stupid fucking nightmares... how was he supposed to deal with this shit now that his fucking parents knew about them? He could already see the questions and worry in his father’s eyes, and his mother, while still eerily silent, looked overly concerned herself, in her own way. There was no way he was escaping the conversation now that they knew. Everything was slipping from his fingers, though he thought he’d been handling it fine. Pushing everything down had been okay, probably not the healthiest, but he’d managed for so long. After every breakdown, it’d become easier to learn how to put himself back together, easier to separate himself from what he was feeling for long enough to feel okay again. But the last two days had felt like he was constantly drowning in his emotions; every time he started thinking about something, he couldn’t seem to distract himself from it. Maybe it had something to do with how physically tired he was, there was nothing else for his brain to focus on. Hell, he’d spent most of the day before tensed up on the couch while he watched cartoons because his mother had acted differently than usual, that couldn’t be normal! But what else was there, therapy? That felt too much like admitting to how weak he was, too much like giving up. Yet he couldn’t see what else there was to be done. He clearly couldn’t handle anything by himself. He didn’t even realize he’d begun to quietly cry again until his father’s arms wrapped around him. He flinched and buried his face in the cat’s soft fur, and they lapped at his cheek, calmingly. His father rubbed at his back rhythmically for a couple minutes as Katsuki finally let it all out. He felt like he’d been running on nothing for weeks, emotions reaching an all-time high at that moment. He just felt everything so much, too much, and anger just felt like an easy way to mask it, to distract himself from it, but at that moment, he felt it all leeching out of him. Like air forcing itself out of a popped balloon, like blood oozing from an open wound, like the tears that fell from his eyes like a broken dam, he felt everything seep out of him with every second he spent just feeling.

By the time he was done crying he felt like an empty shell of a person as if his brain had melted along with his tears and pushed itself out through his leaky nose. He was just so tired. But he was scared to sleep. He didn’t want to dream again, not when every time he had in the last two days it’d ended with him feeling like he was dying. He let out a shuddering breath, and his father finally pulled away. He handed Katsuki a tissue box and let him clean himself up.

“Let’s go watch a movie.”

“What?” Katsuki’s voice was rough, and he took another sip of juice. “Why?”

“I’m tired, you’re tired, we’re all tired, and I think we all need a distraction,” Masaru responded, a kind smile on his face.

Katsuki could barely summon the brainpower to process what was going on. “Why the fuck aren’t you making me talk about what the fuck just happened?”

“We’re not going to force you to talk about that right now, it’d do more harm than good.” His father answered and held out his hand to pull Katsuki to his feet. The cat pulled themself up to Katsuki’s shoulder. “I don’t want to overwhelm you with that conversation right now, so let’s all just go put on a movie and get some hot chocolate. Does that sound okay?”

Katsuki nodded, rubbing his eyes with one hand. He didn’t fully understand what was going on, especially since the hag was still lingering silently at his shoulder, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care right then. He grabbed a fluffy black blanket and followed his father out of the room.

“Do you want to choose something?” Masaru asked once they reached the family room, and Katsuki shrugged. He sat on the couch and turned on the TV, pulling up Netflix. The only thing he could think of was Avatar, so that’s what he decided on, resuming from the episode he’d been watching before dinner, the second episode of the second season. Katsuki watched Mitsuki’s expression soften into something like surprise at the sight of the title, but she was quick to park herself on the opposite side of the couch anyways. A couple minutes passed before Masaru came back, struggling to carry three large mugs of hot cocoa, all covered thickly with marshmallows and whipped cream, cayenne sprinkled on top to give the warm drinks a more comforting taste, and Katsuki pressed play, settling back into his blankets to watch.

The lighthearted plot distracted him from how tired he felt, though the hot chocolate did nothing to help keep him awake. He drained the mug quickly, setting it on the table, and he didn’t know how many episodes it took, but he found himself slowly falling asleep to the sweet taste of spicy chocolate and the warm weight of the cat in his lap, with his parents slumbering beside of him.