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Sometimes we think the past is buried for good, only for it to come back in unexpected ways. For example, upside down and covered in scrapes, stuck in the rosebushes behind my apartment cursing at the chilly night air at two in the morning. Of all the ways I never expected you to come back into my life, that might have been the one I never expected the most.

Loud, dull thuds occurring outside the window in the middle of the night are never, as a rule, good things. And most people, hearing not-good things outside, hide under the covers and try to remember if they locked their patio door that night, or pick up the phone and dial the police. I suppose I’m not most people, though, because my curiosity got the better of my fear. And so, in my bath robe and slippers I fumbled for the flashlight that I knew was somewhere in my bedroom and went outside.

I drew the cloth closer against the cool night air and covered the beam of the flashlight with my hand until just a tiny sliver of light showed the way off the concrete and around the corner where my bedroom window was located. With each step, the dampness from the grass seeped more and more into my house slippers almost immediately. I didn’t even know it was you there, not yet – how could I have ever guessed? It was just such a sorry sight, even barely able to see as I was. If not for my fear I might have laughed out loud.

“Are you hurt?” I asked the darkness instead.

The thrashing about stopped. “Of course I’m fucking hurt, that doesn’t matter! Just get me out of this thing! Pull me out!”

What an angry blob of darkness.

“I-if I go get some scissors from inside, maybe we can get you out of there without hurting you anymore!” I found myself saying.

God dammit if you don’t pull me out this second I swear I’ll come back here and blow this building up!”

As the angry darkness said these words, I began to notice barking dogs and shouting voices from down the hill. Instinctively, I reached out, grabbed hold of the patches of black I assumed must have been your arms, and pulled with all of my strength. You hissed in pain once, then twice, but the third tug pried you free and we fell backwards, down onto the wet grass, me on my back and you braced above me, separating me from the smoky nighttime glow of the city overhead. And I could see the flashlight, out of the corner of my eye, rolling to a stop in the grass, the beam of light resting directly upon your face. My eyes widened (probably), my mouth fell open (most likely), and I definitely couldn’t get out the one word I wanted to say.

“K–Kacch...?”

But then you heard the approaching sounds too, and scrambled back into the night.

It was only about thirty seconds before a police officer ran up to me, asking questions, assuming correctly that someone outside at two in the morning in their robe and slippers must have something to do with the scraped-up idiot who fell off the roof three minutes ago.

At that moment, something you said came back into my mind. I’ll come back here and blow this apartment complex up! Blow up... explosions...

“I thought I heard an explosion over there,” I said, pointing in a direction different than the one you went. The officer’s eyes widened just slightly at this. Got ‘em. “But I must have just been hearing things in the night,” I added, for embellishment. The officer ran off almost before I could finish, thanking me over their shoulder for my help.

And I was left standing, dumbfounded at what just happened, wondering what’s become of you, the boy who once wanted to become a hero.

It was a long and sleepless night before I found your next surprise for me in the morning, nearly stepping onto the small giftwrapped box on my front step while leaving for class in the morning.

“What in the...”

I undid the excessively-taped side of the wrapping paper and slipped out the wide, flat box. Opening it, I found, nestled in the tissue paper... a pair of garden shears. Not even new ones. Still had dirt on them.

Inside the box was a note, which I really hoped would help explain this development.

You don’t use scissors on a rosebush, dumbass. Go prune that thing properly to fix the mess I made of it or so help me god I’ll come back and do it myself.

And thanks for whatever you did back there.

Below it was a phone number.

I left the box with the shears inside, but took the card with me.

Oh fuck, I thought the entire walk to the university. Oh shitting fuck, you’ve got to be kidding me.

 


 

An hour and a half of mumbling to myself about this during class had resolved nothing, so for lack of anything better to do, I messaged Mei about it. I did leave out some important details, of course. Tactical omissions.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya  26 Sep 11:09
so i ran into a childhood friend last night and he gave me his number. idk what to do

watch kny @pressurebuilding  26 Sep 11:17
is he hot

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya  26 Sep 11:18
i mean.............................. yeah?

watch kny @pressurebuilding  26 Sep 11:18
call him you big weenie

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya  26 Sep 11:20
but my display name

watch kny @pressurebuilding  26 Sep 11:21
i’m sure our lord and savior will understand your need to get that booty

Maybe I left out too many details. She does always have a way of cutting to the chase, doesn’t she?

The number went straight into my phone’s contacts. I didn’t want to take a chance on losing it. I even started typing out some thoughts, but carefully saved them as drafts without placing my finger anywhere near the “send” button.

Was this even a good idea? I tried to think about it logically as I flipped your card over and over again in my hands during class. The reasons against calling you fell into two main categories: First, you were kinda being chased by the police. That’s not necessarily a turnoff, but it does make things rather difficult, as I would prefer not having “aiding and abetting” on my record. It would sorta affect being able to work with heroes at my internship and future career.

The second reason was how we last parted, four years ago this month.

It was early September, and our first school year was just getting underway again after summer break. I was out for an early morning run, looping past all the brand-new dormitories before class when I saw the moving van outside Heights Alliance. Boxes were coming out of the building and going into the van, which was not the direction I'd have expected them to be moving.

“An expulsion...?” I asked myself. “From the hero course? Who...?”

You saw me first, and wasted no time. “Come to watch the show, Deku? Be happy, you’re finally getting your way. You won’t have to see big, bad Bakugou anymore.”

“Kacchan, what happened?”

Setting off explosions in each hand, you came towards me. “Say that one more time. Call me Ka-fucking-chan one more time, and I’ll–”

“Bakugou!” called out a teacher from the stairs of the building, who asked you to stop making things more difficult than they had to be.

You glared for a moment, then left to go back inside. You never said another word to me. Never answered my texts or calls. Eventually your number was disconnected, and even your parents didn’t know what happened to you. But I will never forget that day, and the look in your eyes... or the absence of a look in your eyes. The fiery defiance in your glare is how I always knew you were you, the reason I could have recognized you anywhere, any way. It never faltered. Not until then. You looked broken, defeated by forces beyond even your control.

But you never could open up to the people in your life. Never could accept their condescending help.

You were the driving force in my life for years, ever since we were elementary schoolers, ever since your quirk came in and mine didn’t. The idea you were no longer a loud and angry part of my existence came as a shock, something I wasn’t prepared to resign myself to. Not for a long, long time. And I just barely make peace with the idea when something like this happens? What sort of g–

“Midoriya!” barked the professor.

I shot up out of my desk like a bolt of lightning, phone flying across my dusty desk like a shuffleboard puck and onto the floor with a clatter.

She sighed at my overreaction. “Please do pay attention to the real world once in a while.”

“Y-yes ma’am!” I replied, and sat back down slowly.

My face felt warm and pink as I looked up at the whiteboard, the gazes of my classmates dissipating, while also fumbling for my phone beneath the desk. Once I finally retrieved my phone (and had the courage to look down at it again), that pink warmth turned to an unbearable red heat.

Because the send box was empty, and “sending message 3 of 7...” was displayed on the message field.

Oh no, I said, not even sure if I was containing my thoughts inside my own head anymore. Oh no. Oh no.

No more decisions to be made. Now you knew, and whatever would happen was about to begin.

 

Chapter Text

In physical distance, it wasn’t a long walk from the dockyards to the place I now knew was your apartment. The psychological distance was far greater.

I had to make sure it was really gone, to see it with my own eyes, even if it meant going back to a place I knew police and low-level pro heroes would be watching, if not outright swarming over. They didn’t know my name and face before this, just my quirk, outfit, and hero name, but with all the fingerprints inside that hideout (and how few there were from anyone else, at this point), it probably wouldn’t take too long before they knew my name and what I looked like without a mask on. This was probably the last time I could wander relatively freely like this, even after dark.

Shishou, I whispered, I’m sorry. I did my best. It wasn’t enough.

What I wanted to do was scream. To stand on top of that rooftop and yell until I was hoarse and sobbing and collapse into the pain I felt until I went numb. But I couldn’t do that. Grand gestures are the ones most likely to get you caught or killed; be practical and keep it tied down, at least until you really are alone.

I did climb onto the roof, but only for one last look. Just as I did, the rain that had been threatening to fall all day finally began to come down. It’s always nice when the weather matches your mood. If it had been sunny today, I don’t know if I could have endured it, don’t know if I could have gotten the scant hour or two of sleep that I gathered, hiding in this dilapidated warehouse just down the dock path from the other, identical dilapidated warehouse that served as home these past three years. I might have broken down on the spot. Even strong things have breaking points. Harder to find, more difficult to exploit, but catastrophic.

There was no one guarding the hideout, or so it seemed, but I knew better. They would never leave a scene totally unattended. And I had the most important thing here with me, tightly wrapped up in the pocket of my cargo pants. I would keep it safe, to make sure it could see the light of day again, one day.

And so I trudged through those wet streets back to you.

It’s not like you were my first choice in all this, Deku. I hope you know that. It simply wouldn’t occur to anyone to look at your place (as opposed to Kiri’s or mom’s), and I know from your flurry of hilariously unintentional texts that you probably won’t turn me away, even after everything that happened before. You never did know how to move on from an idea once you got it in your head... like the idea we’re still friends after four years apart, and fighting nonstop before that. I guess you’re just the same as ever.

Laying in the rafters of some rusty building, hiding from heroes and sweating my ass off in the stale humidity, staring at messages coming in on my burner phone fast and furious about my childhood and whatnot... that will probably go down as one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I didn’t even have your number, hadn’t thought about you in months. Who the fuck is this that knows so much about me? I thought. You see, I was wondering why the cops stopped following me after I got yoinked out of that shrub. It’s because you recognized me and knew me and knew what to say, somehow. It's because out of all the rose bushes in all the world, I just had to fall into yours. What stupid fucking luck. I really am getting what I deserve, huh?

You were so fucking annoying, all the time. I hated you, hated your existence, wished I didn’t have to see your stupid face. And yet you always did the right thing by me. That just made it harder to hate you, which made me angry, which made me want to see your stupid face even less. Some people tried to defend me, like Kiri. I appreciated that, but didn't deserve it. I was a simpleton back then... maybe I still am. I still don't really like you; maybe all I've made peace with is the memory, and those are easy to make peace with, usually. The living are much harder to please.

Absolutely nothing could ever make the hell that I’ve been through the past few days worth it, but seeing you overthink our childhood, stream-of-consciousness style, directly on this cheap phone with a dying battery... that was a valiant effort nonetheless, even if you probably didn’t intend it.

One sopping wet stroll across the ward later, the expression on your face when you opened the door for me had a similar effect.

Your eyes were wide, that mop of green hair flopping down into it as ever, eyebrows set to the sides in concern.

“It really is you... I... Kacchan, I didn’t...”

I half-laughed, half-sighed. “Yeah yeah, lots to talk about, I get it. Just let me in, the rain’s getting worse.”

Chapter Text

About eighteen hours ago, I was living a normal life. I have college classes during the day, an internship coming up. I keep up my grades. I have a messy little apartment all to myself... well, me and my cat. No police pursuits. No strange gifts on my doorstep. No childhood friends drinking my tea across the kitchen table from me, wearing my clothes.

I mean, yours were wet. I hung them up in the bathroom. Of course it made sense to do it like this, of course. And of course you looked cute in them. I’m still surprised you agreed to it, though.

I can tell you aren’t the same person as you were then.

You’ve changed, in so many ways. Many of them for the better, it seems. There’s just one I still can’t wrap my head around.

“How do you say it then?”

“I’m a vigilante, Deku.”

I bristled slightly at the old nickname, but decided this wasn’t the time. “So what, you go like... beat up pickpockets and yankees?”

“Sorta. We try to take care of local crime, help out the community... in the past we’d even do work for big pro heroes who don’t want to get their hands dirty getting information and locating small-time villains.”

“And the police are after you... why?”

“One man’s citizen’s arrest is another’s kidnapping. The police decided we became more of a liability than an asset, I guess, and decided not to turn a blind eye anymore.”

You kidnapped someone?!”

“I mean, it sounds so terrible when you say it like that. But a top-50 hero asked us to grab the guy, so...”

You trailed off, leaving only the sound of the rain against the glass and the squeaking of the fan overhead.

A sigh, a restless shift in your seat. “I wish I could say I only came to see you again. The fact is, I have an enormous favor I need to ask of you.”

You looked up at the ceiling fan, wobbling idly overhead at the lowest speed. “There’s no easy way to ask, so I’ll just come out with it. I need a place to stay for a while.” Your gaze moved to the window in the back door. “Somewhere they won’t look for me.”

I was afraid those were the words that would come out of your mouth. I had no idea the trouble you were in, but the second you knocked on my door in the pouring rain, I figured this was a possibility. The hurt it caused you to ask for help was written in your brow, your sighs, your eyes that even now were still unable to meet my own. If you felt the need to do this, I realized, you truly were in trouble. This Kacchan was different from the Kacchan I once knew, but no matter what else changes, your pride in not asking for help is something unchanging about you, for better or worse.

“Kacchan.”

Your eyes flickered down to mine, then away again, like sputtering candlelight. There was fear there.

There were so many answers that I could have given, so many refusals that would have been justified... you're a criminal, you're my childhood tormentor, I don't really know you anymore, it's too much trouble... and yet, only one answer was ever under consideration. I paused before saying it, but please know it was never because of any doubt. It was only because it was the most difficult thing I ever promised another person, and because I knew that the second it left my lips, I would have to see it through to the very end.

“There’s a futon in the closet. It’s yours for as long as you need it.”

Your eyes slipped closed for just a moment, the corners of your mouth slipping into a smile, like some small portion of the immense weight on your shoulders had been lifted.

“On one condition,” I said, the words coming out of my mouth a surprise even to myself.

Resentment. A part of me still did resent you, and the remaining parts of me were surprised at that, in the moment. It made sense, though, in regards to someone who did so much damage to me in the past. If you were going to be in my life again, you were going to do it right or not at all.

“Use my name. No more Deku.”

The pain and worry that had returned just briefly in your expression immediately broke out into the loud and genuine laughter of relief. All of the emotions I expected to see in you – resentment, anger, stubbornness, resistance to change – they weren’t there. That was when it really dawned on me just how much you’d changed out there, what a hard life you’d had since I was last in it. You'd even moved beyond what still motivated me: regret, resentment, the unresolved history between us. After being in my life again for less than a day, you already had me admiring you.

And god if this wasn’t the right time for it, but I swear that laugh of yours lodged somewhere in my heart I forgot I had.

Some things never change. Some things just never ever ever ever change.

“You drive a hard bargain, Midoriya. I accept.” You took a sip of your tea, looking me in the eye again as you did, refreshed by your reverie and with a new confidence in your words. “Will there be any more Kacchans?”

I hadn't thought any of this through, and your question took me by surprise, but it shouldn't have. “I-if you don’t like it, then we can axe that, too,” I said. It was only fair.

“Let’s start over at Bakugou and see if you can earn back the Kacchan, okay?”

I nodded to show I accepted his response. All very reasonable and... Wait. Are you toying with me? Now? Of all times, now? I thought. Are you thinking the same kind of things that I am? Then, No Izuku. You’re reading too much into it. Stay calm. Just get him the futon and go jack off and go to bed already.

“Lost in thought again, Dek—Midoriya?” you asked, smiling ever so slightly. Then, before I could respond: “It’s a lot to think about, I know. Let’s get some sleep.”

Dazed, I retrieved the futon and a spare pillow from the closet, as well as a blanket you didn’t take (What the fuck do I need this for, it’s like a million degrees in here) and left you to your own devices downstairs. Back in my own bed, I still couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes, or do that other thing. What kind of weird fate is this? Had I offended the gods? Pleased them? I couldn’t even decide if this was a blessing or a curse, but if I had to pick just one... a blessing. And yet, I spent so long bottling up my feelings for you, trying to forget that the most important person in my life just walked out right on the cusp of adulthood... was there a quick fix to this? No. No such thing. But there was a way forward.

The thing stuck in my head the most was your chest underneath my fabric, the timbre of your laugh, that little smile you gave me at the end. Lost in thought again? Fuck yeah I was. I was thinking about your–

Wait. Was that even a smile or... a smirk?

It was. I swear to God, to All Might, to the stars above, you smirked at me. Even then. What had I gotten myself into?

Chapter Text

Your place is pretty small, is what I’ve determined by daylight. Maybe it just feels small because of all the boxes everywhere, you cluttered dumbass. Maybe it feels small because every inch of your walls is plastered with hero costumes and design posters, you fanboy dumbass. Or maybe it’s just actually small, which it is, because I got bored waiting for your dumb ass to get back from your morning run and measured from one wall to the other.

But you have your own place, and I have nothing anymore, so yeah. Who’s really the dumbass here? It isn’t you. Or maybe it’s both of us. But my status isn’t in doubt. I am a dumbass. Waking up on your floor was enough of a wakeup call for that. It hurt, you bastard! All your rooms are western, and futons don't really work right without tatami underneath. Can’t you afford an air mattress? This ain’t the twentieth century.

Stumbling out of the living room and in the general direction of the kitchen (where I hoped coffee resided), I noticed more about your place. UA school pictures on the walls, the narrow hallway leading to your bedroom, the ugly table sticky with old varnish and laden with a brief note (out for my morning run! be back soon!), the orange ball of fur darting out from under it and running away at maximum speed. Was there coffee, though?

Wait. Back up. What was that last one. Before the coffee.

Fuzzy thoughts attempted to assemble themselves into something resembling human language. A single word. Fuzzy. No. A fuzzy thing with four legs. Cat. That was it.

“Hah?” I said to no one, rubbing my probably-bloodshot eyes. You never mentioned having a cat. Besides, I always thought you were more of a dog person – not just because I used to think you’d look best in a collar, but also because you're excessively loyal, to a fault. Beyond a fault, really. Beyond all reasonable limitations. Beyond what I ever deserved, what I ever thought possible.

These are precisely the sorts of things I did not think about at that moment. Instead my train of thought was something more like Cat. Find cat. Pet cat. Something dignified like that.

I checked the first door in the hall. Bathroom. Toilet. All Might toothbrush in a lonely cup on the vanity. Tasteful shower curtains with seashells. My mostly-dried clothes from last night arranged haphazardly on the shower rod. Pictures of lighthouses on the wall. Clearly you let your mom decorate this room, minus the toothbrush.

Cat. No cat.

The only other room was your bedroom, which I considered not entering out of concern for your privacy for about five whole seconds. I chuckled at the walls before the door even finished swinging open, revealing the dozens of All Might posters plastering them. There were also All Might banners, All Might pennants, All Might memorabilia, All Might figurines, All Might books, and was that... an All Might lamp? Note to self, remind me to bully this kid later. He deserves it. Except not, because I'm trying as hard as possible not to do that lately. You're not 15 anymore Katsuki. Grow up.

While admiring the sheer kitsch of All Might holding up a lightbulb socket, I heard a scurrying noise at my feet. Kneeling down beside your bed, I lifted up the corner of the mercifully non-All-Might-themed comforter blocking my view, revealing a small orange cat.

Hiss.

It didn't seem very happy, so I tried to put it at ease. “Psst-psst-psst” is how I chose to attempt this.

Hiss.

“It's okay kitty, I'm not gonna hurt you.”

Hisssss.

I sighed and dropped the corner of the blanket again. I knew earning trust was harder than that. As much as I wanted to paint you as the cat and me as the one luring it out, the truth was undeniable. I was the cat. Whatever its name is, I have always been this cat, backing myself into corners, hiding in dark places, and hissing at kindnesses.

How many times had I batted your helping hand away? I lost count, long ago. Or, more accurately, I never cared to think about it. What about all the UA staff that tried to help? All those days in Hound Dog's office, the nights hiding in my room from Aizawa. The messages from Kirishima I ignored. I wanted so furiously to make my own path that I was blinded, couldn't see how badly I was straying.

And this is straying, too. You know I'm not here only out of necessity, right? I could have turned myself in and had a nice hot meal today behind bars. A change of clothes. Serve some time (probably not much) and then try to start over with a record. I never would have had to see your dumb face again. Could have kept you crammed down in that dark corner with all the other memories that I don't want to see the light of day. But I think I knew, deep down, that I would still be a stray if I did. This cat only hisses and hides because it knows someone will feed it when it's hungry and clean up its shit without complaint afterwards. I was like that, too. Even to shishou, until she didn't come back one night. We waited, night after night, knowing with each sunset that we were closer and closer to really being strays after all.

In facing one tendency, aren't I abusing another? Am I facing down what I've kept hidden, or just taking advantage of the one last hand that I know will still feed me, even if I bite it?

For now, I'll just live with that contradiction. So don't worry about your cat, Deku. It's fine down there, in the dark. It’ll come out with enough time, when it wants to.

Again, all this was not the sort of thing I was capable of thinking at that exact moment. And so instead my thoughts as I went back into the kitchen were more akin to Midoriya you’re a college student how in the name of all that is good and holy do you not have coffee in this house, repeated over and over again as I opened every cabinet door in your kitchen to find nothing but pots and pans and expired breakfast cereals.

Your pantry was just beginning to resemble an archaeological dig site when I heard the front door opening again and rushed over to meet you.

“Heyyy, welcome home!” I said cheerfully, grabbing your shoulders and forcibly turning you around before you could kick your shoes off. “Coffee. Ground, instant, whole bean for me to blow up in the morning, don't care. Go get some. Now. Please. Thank you. Et cetera.”

Chapter Text

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 08:38
Can I talk to you about something? It has to stay between us

I cradled my phone in both hands as I walked slowly to the store, waiting for Mei to respond, a scribbled shopping list clutched against the back of the phone case. It was the result of fending off your full-front-door assault and sitting you down at the table for an irritable chat about what sorts of things you'd need from the store for day to day life.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:01
goddammit you're gonna give me a heart attack starting conversations like that but yes, go ahead. i'm all ears

Turns out it wasn’t just coffee you need, amazingly. What an ordinary thing to get addicted to, Kacchan. (I can still call you Kacchan in my head, right? Whatever, you’ll never know.)

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:01
So the uh... childhood friend I mentioned before is crashing at my place, indefinitely I guess?

I definitely thought the big tough vigilante Kacchan would be a smoker, or worse. Then again you always have been living proof that being a badass and being a big weenie aren’t mutually exclusive.

Oh right. Weenie.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:02
and please don't ask about his dick, I have bigger things to worry about right now

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:02
how do u know they're bigger? :p

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:02
sorry, sorry, uh... so what's the situation

God I wish I knew. Wish I could tell her even if I did. That you're a guy I was obsessed with throughout my formative years and that I basically would have taken a bullet for even though you were most likely to be one to shoot me in the first place? That I think you're dreamy and perfect even when you're hiding from the cops and have literally nothing going on in the boyfriend department? How could I ever tell her this? How does this begin to make sense? I seriously need a therapist. Or vodka. Probably both.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:04
he just wants to get away from some stuff

I pull out the shopping list you came up with, standing behind a tiny cart in the grocery store. Coffee, chicken, miso (How do you not have miso, are you sure you’re Japanese?), mushrooms, a toothbrush (Extra firm bristles. Oh yeah, and not the All Might variety, I'm fucking serious Midoriya), hot sauce (with specific notes about which brand and variety), coffee again for some reason, and a few other things. I write vodka on the end of it.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:05
family? cops? ex-boyfriend? the NHK guy?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:07
some stuff that is like that stuff, yes

Stop asking about stuff and just be supportive was my general train of thought as I typed that, interspersed with assessing various hot sauce bottles and comparing each to the instructions on the shopping list.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:08
okay, okay, I get it.

I whispered a quiet thank you to Mei for not pressing this matter, and placed the correct bottle into the cart.

How can I convey any of this to someone else? How can I sum up an entire childhood, an entire puberty, every waking moment of our formative years together? What I felt then, and still feel now? The fact that I never was able to break off those thoughts of you, only to bury them under schoolwork and refuse to acknowledge them?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:11
i had this like... super mega ultra crush on him for ages when we were younger. and it apparently never went away because when he was sitting across from me, i... what the fuck do i do mei

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:12
it took years to get over losing him the first time

While typing, a droplet appeared on my screen, then another. It was only when I heard one fall onto the shopping list laying in the cart that I realized I was crying. Over you. Something I once swore I would never do again.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:12
i don’t want it to happen again. i would never get over it, never be able to forgive myself

A tired-looking woman walked past, cart loaded with vegetables, noodles, soda, and an industrial-sized jug of soy sauce. Sorry, I thought to myself. Don’t mind me, just having a cry in the hot sauce aisle. It was a little too spicy, this one.

I saw your reply come in, and wiped at my eyes so I could read it.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:14
izuku that brain of yours is going to be the death of you

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:14
did it ever occur to you that like... maybe having a good thing happen isn’t a crisis? maybe you’re allowed to be happy about it and allowed to pursue this?

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:15
obviously there’s more to this than i’m aware of (which is fine, it’s between you two), but as far as i can tell you’re scared stiff about getting a second chance and that’s not okay

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:15
my friend deserves the guy he wants and not a bunch of old regrets

She was right, and I knew it even as I watched the messages come in, clutching at the bridge of my nose. Am I being an idiot? I thought. I mean, more so than usual? This is potentially the best thing that could ever happen, and here I am crying in the grocery store because I might get my feelings hurt.

When I looked down again at the shopping list, I saw where that single teardrop had fallen. A little crinkled, a little blurry was the word chicken. "Yeah," I said to myself. "Yeah I am."

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:19
i don’t know what to say except you’re one hundred percent right

After wheeling the cart over to the meat section, I stared at the chicken for a moment before selecting a small package of beef as well.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:21
you got this babey!! take it slow, work through your issues together, learn from what didn’t work last time, and try to build something better out of those bones

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:22
and then bone him and let me know how it was

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:22
i will only be doing the first part of that

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:22
then why the hell did i give you all this advice???

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 27 Sep 09:23
because you’re a good person who genuinely cares about your friends?

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 09:23
no that’s definitely not it

I smiled and put my phone back in my pocket.

I don’t believe in fate or red string or any of that. I know the world is not so convenient as to bow to hopes and dreams just because they’re prettier than reality. But in the end, you came back to me for a reason. Because I was convenient, sure. Because I happened to reappear in your life when you needed me, sure. Still, you came to me. You trusted me, entrusted yourself to me. And most of all, you believed you could live with me without going completely cuckoo bonkers. There is a part in you that wants this – I truly do believe that. I just have to get it out.

I’ll start by making you this coffee myself.

 

Chapter Text

“I can make coffee myself, you know.”

“I know you can, Ka– Bakugou.” I held the strainer at careful distance as I poured the near-boiling water over the coffee grounds in a circular motion, like I’d done a few times before, when I had the rare urge for coffee and the even rarer urge not to go to Starbucks for it.

You fidgeted at the kitchen table. “Don’t you have to like... go to class or something? Do you work?”

“Yeah, I...” I was about to turn to face you as I worked, but had a vision of scalding my hands from inattention and instead did not. “I go to class most mornings, I just skipped today.”

“You shoulda just gone. I would have survived.”

“But I wanted to make sure you had what you needed to be okay.”

You snorted. “If you could see how I was living three days ago, you wouldn’t be as worried.”

“I’d probably be more worried,” I said absentmindedly, tossing the coffee grounds in the trash and rinsing out the strainer.

You gave a wry smile as I handed you the coffee mug. “Right, I forgot it was you we were talking about. Yes, you would have been.”

We were both silent a moment, other than the sounds of you taking a highly aerated sip of coffee.

“How is it?”

“Caffeinated.”

“Not great, then?”

“You did fine.”

I got the impression, no doubt intentional, that this was the best I’d get out of you on this particular topic. “I’m glad,” I said, followed up a moment later by a change of topic. “So... I’m in a hero research and design program at the university, and we have an internship starting next week. I’m gonna be working at Halcyon Industries!” It was something I had been looking forward to for an entire year now. The name itself was enough to conjure up in my head the simple, conservative lines and minimalist, sleek angles of some of heroing’s most well-known names, including Kamui Woods, Crimson Riot, and of course All Might himself. Being able to work with such illustrious designers was half the reason I selected this university in the first place.

“Is that name supposed to mean something to me, fanboy?” you asked blankly.

“It’s the company that designed All Might’s costume!” I half-shout, slamming both hands down on the table with enough force that probably would have spilled your coffee, had you not been holding it in midair in front of your unimpressed face. “You’re an All Might fan like me, you should know their name!”

“Was.”

“You’re not still a fan?”

“Still? Even at 14 I don't think I owned an All Might lamp.” Sip.

I laughed nervously, rubbing a hand over the back of my neck. I need a haircut. “Ahah, so you saw the lamp... Wait, you went into my room?!”

“I ran after your shitty cat,” you said with a gesture that implied you had no choice in the matter, which seemed doubtful. “I didn’t even know you had one.”

“Did he like you?”

You chuckled. “No way. Hissed at me a few times so I left him alone.”

I thought for a moment. “Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen All Might in a while, I wonder if he’s feeling okay.”

Puzzled looks are hard to spot on you, but you definitely looked puzzled to me. “You still see All Might?”

“Well not right now, he’s probably hiding somewhere if he’s scared of you.”

There was a split-second of dawning realization on your face before your laughter burst out, full and forceful. “You named – you really named your cat All Might?!” you said, threatening to spill your coffee cup until you managed to place it upon the table between guffaws.

“S-six years ago!” I said, defensively. Mom had let me take him with me when I moved out.

“You goddamn nerd,” you said, tears in your eyes, still laughing at me. You looked so genuine in that moment, like you were rewatching some old comedy and just got to your favorite bit again. It was beautiful, but with a twinge of something that hurt just a little at the end. Maybe I liked you like that after all. Maybe that was all I had a right to hope for.

A buzz in my pocket from my phone, and I saw it was a message from Mei:

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 10:41
you do remember we have the mandatory internship seminar today right

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 27 Sep 10:41
oh who am i kidding you’re probably on the train already

Well not quite.

“I gotta run, actually,” I said, already digging through a pile of papers on the living room floor to find my notebook. “Let’s have dinner together tonight!”

“Like takeout? What’s even around here?”

“No way, I’m cooking!” I said, grinning, notebook in hand.

I heard a voice calling out to me, “But you never cook!” but by then I had slipped on my shoes and burst out the door.

 


 

You looked down at the mess of pots and pans, ingredients and condiments, spices and sauces, and a collection of spatulas I didn’t even know I had being slowly spread across every flat surface in my kitchen. I had just gotten back from class and, admittedly, had burst into the kitchen like a whirlwind, unearthing kitchen implements that hadn’t moved since I moved in. Everything landed directly on top of the pile you had made earlier that morning rummaging for the coffee I didn’t have, which made for quite an avalanche.

“Expired October 23, 2017,” you said, monotone, a bottle of tonkatsu sauce in hand. I kept digging deeper into a disused cabinet. I heard the sound of the refrigerator opening, and then you resumed: “Expired June 4, 2018. Expired December 22, 2018. Expired... ah, you have until next week on the mayo. Let’s have that for dinner.”

I held up the box of panko I had been looking for, panting. “Ahah! I have everything I need to make katsudon.”

“Except pork.”

“I meant – katsudon with chicken!”

“Who makes katsudon with chicken?”

“Lots of people!”

You sighed. “Yeah, people with six whole ingredients in their house that haven’t gone bad.”

I pushed the pile of kitchen contents back from the edge of the table to make room for the panko. I was sweating a little, and the idle airflow from the fan overhead was little consolation. “Just let me make dinner for you.”

Your face was as expressive as a brick wall. “Again, I can cook. Just like I can make coffee.”

“You said I never cook anything, so I thought I'd prove you wrong!”

“Petty as ever.”

And as you walked away, I was left realizing just what I said. It had slipped out so naturally, so easily... meanwhile, you didn't set off a dozen explosions, didn't scream and shout. Which one of us has changed since back then? And which one of us is making the same mistakes all over again?

I had gone into this evening just wanting to see another smile cross your face, to hear that laugh again. I would have done anything, and yet nothing I do ever works.

 


 

Mei waved her bubble tea at me, having casually vacuumed up far too many tapioca pearls at once just seconds prior. No amount of chewing, though, ever seemed to prevent her from speaking.

“Honestly, Izuku,” she munched, “you might be the only person in history trying to figure out how to win a boy over after he’s already moved in. Not even a lifetime of Cosmo articles could prepare me for this one.”

We were planted in an alcove of the university cafeteria in two cushy but uncomfortable fake leather seats opposite a small table. A table that was impossible to use due to how far down into the seat my butt had sunk within seconds of sitting down. I clung to my peach tea like it was a branch preventing me from disappearing into quicksand forever.

“First,” she said, looking around to make sure she wouldn’t be overheard, “why don’t you tell me a little about Bakugou Katsuki?”

I would have fallen out of my chair, were such a thing possible. “Mei how do you know his name?” I hissed.

“Aha! I was right!” She took on a triumphant pose, crosshair pupils gleaming, either unaware of or indifferent to my shock. “You were reluctant to say what he was hiding from, but implied it was something in the list I gave, so I figured it was the cops and not an ex or something. I checked all the city police bulletins for the past week and compiled a list of names and ages, but since you said he was a childhood friend I figured he must be within a year or two of us, age-wise. That narrowed it down to six names, and Google told me one of them entered UA in the same year we did! And his entrance exam results listed the same middle school you went to!”

At no point during this explanation did I become aware that I was clutching my drink so tightly that the lid popped off and it began to drip onto the linoleum.

“Uh, Izuku, your–”

“Are you some kind of... detective?!” I asked, tea running down my forearm. Then, coming slightly closer to my senses, “Who did you tell about this? No one, right?”

“Not a word!” She chirped. “Not to a single soul!”

I exhaled finally, wiping my hand and forearm against my shorts. When our gazes met again, yours was significantly less enthusiastic than before. I asked what was wrong.

“I saw his rap sheet, Izuku. And what he got expelled for, before that.” Her normally-effervescent face wore a look of concern. “Are you sure this is the kind of person you should be around in the first place, much less pursuing romantically?”

My stomach twisted a little. It’s not like I haven’t asked myself these questions multiple times over lately. On paper, you and I have nothing in common, and me taking a risk for you makes no sense. On paper, I haven’t known you for five years, and there is no reason I should feel like you’ve been the missing piece of my life this whole time. On paper, there are no hopes and dreams and second chances, no affections, no aching in my heart. Everything is logically ordered and civilly argued, like a term paper. And I just can’t live by those terms.

“He’s better than that, Mei.” I said it before I knew what words were leaving my lips, before I could formulate any coherent argument. To me, I didn’t need one. To her, though...

“I’ll support you, then. But, Izuku...”A smile that resembled a wince crossed her face. “You do know this story won’t have a happy ending, don’t you?” She looked at me like a caring mother would look at her child sick in bed with the flu – something she cannot cure, only help endure. “No one can hide forever. There will come a day where he has to atone for all this, one way or another.”

“I know.”

“And you’re willing to see that through, even if it hurts?”

“Yes.”

“You masochist,” she said, forcing a smile as she sipped her tea to try alleviating the pall that had settled over the conversation. “Also, you never answered my question earlier. What is he like, anyway?”

I thought about it and replied, “A sadist.”

“Oh, so you’re perfect for each other.”

She smiled as she said it, which was perfectly congruous with the words she spoke. And yet, I knew her heart said otherwise, and that hurt the most.

So I told her about you. About your fearless personality and your strong but unique moral compass. How you used to do your homework the instant you went home and then go to bed at 8pm. How I filled up entire notebooks about your quirk and your combat style, such as it was at age 13. The times we played in the creek behind your house. The times we still played at all.

“Honestly he still sounds like kind of a bastard,” she said eventually, “but I can see what you admire in him, so maybe in a good way? I’ll keep an open mind.”

I sighed. “So now the big question... how do we get out of this?”

“I don’t know,” she said, shifting uncomfortably. “I think my butt has permanently fused with the chair at this point.”

“Mood, but I meant with... Bakugou.”

“Oh right! No idea!” she said cheerfully, chomping down on the last few pearls in her now-drained tea. “There are limits to what well-meaning friends can say sitting around over bubble tea. But you gotta tackle this head-on. I know you’re fond of him, but if you two can’t get over the past, then there’s not gonna be a future.”

I looked down at the amber liquid in my cup, but there was no reflection staring back at me. The past, the future. Atoning, dreams, second chances, and... a reason. Do I need a reason, or is this okay? Will following my heart jeopardize the future? It all swirled through my head.

After the pause stretched out for too long to still be called a pause, Mei stood up, with great effort, and said she had to be headed home.

“Oh, Mei!” I called out, not wanting the conversation to end on such a note. “Thank you for, uh... telling it like it is?”

She looked at me as if I had five heads. “That’s the least Izuku expression I’ve ever heard.”

“Least... Izuku?”

“Ah, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the compliment! But seriously, that doesn’t sound like you. Or... are you on a crime drama or something?” She suddenly gasped, turning to me in mock surprise and now extremely close. “Am I really a detective, Izuku? Am I? Am I?”

 

Chapter Text

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:12
he has been so goddamned annoying

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:14
why, what’s been going on?

I held the phone you got me – the cheapest possible phone, and believe me, I’m familiar enough with these things to know – directly over my head as I sprawled across your couch. You said only to use it for emergencies, but listen, Deku. If I’m going to be cooped up here all day everyday for the foreseeable future, I have to be able to communicate with someone other than you. I will lose it otherwise. (And I’m still calling you Deku in my head, thbbbbt.)

Also it was my ¥10,000 that bought it, even though you tried not to accept it. I’m a lot of things, but a freeloader ain’t one of them.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:14
he’s treating me like i’m 14 and he’s the big grown up. i can’t believe i agreed to this

Kirishima Eijirou, better known as Red Riot, is the only person I kept in contact with after UA. He’s made a good name for himself, coming in at #52 on the latest hero rankings, which I refuse to admit to anyone that I follow religiously. Also, he’s the only person I can think of who doesn’t piss me off just by existing. No oh, are you gonna be alright out there? or wow, this must be so hard on you and definitely no oh, ah, oh, wow, oh, I’m so glad to know you’re safe!!! messages making me want to blow my phone up and toss it in the harbor, like my last one that I tossed once shit began to go down. And yet he only greeted me with a sweet, glad to hear it!! when I told him I was laying low somewhere I’d be safe. He also didn’t ask questions about where or with who. A good friend always understands plausible deniability.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:15
katsuki wasn’t it your idea in the first place?

That doesn’t mean Eiji can’t and won’t piss me off the old-fashioned way.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:15
yes, and that makes it worse!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:16
so he’s... taunting you? mocking you? belittling you?

Yeah basically, I thought to myself, furiously hitting the tiny, cheap buttons.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:17
he made my coffee while i was sitting right there doing nothing!!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:17
insisted on making dinner for us even though he barely knows how to make rice

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:18
constantly running around skipping class trying to do shit for me. it’s condescending

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:18
katsuki do you even listen to yourself talk

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:18
are you sure he’s not just like... nice?

Of course he’s nice, that’s eighty percent of the fucking problem, I thought. I wanted so desperately for you to be just an outright asshole so I could hate you properly, but you insist on being an asshole through kindness, and it interferes with my sworn duty to hate you properly. Shitty Deku, you can’t even be shitty properly.

Not sure why but I remembered the cat then, hiding underneath your bed, hissing. But the constant vibration from the phone in my hands brought me back to reality.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:20
unless...

Or whatever Eiji’s version of reality was.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:20
oh my god katsuki!!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:20
you big grumpy fool!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:20
he likes you!!

The words on the screen sat there for a minute, my brain trying to reallocate resources from some disused lobe to process the foreign language I was reading. Because this wasn’t any Japanese that made sense to me.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:21
you know like. LIKES you.

You made me promise not to set off any explosions inside the apartment, but I may have violated that rule. I may have violated it very much at that particular moment. I may have only stopped when I heard the upstairs neighbors banging on the floor with a broomstick.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:21
WHAT??? NO YOU IDIOT. GET THESE WORDS THAT I’M SAYING INTO THAT THICK SKULL OF YOURS

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:22
HE’S A BIG DICKWEED AND I’M TIRED OF IT

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:23
i never said you liked HIM!! just look, he’s like. making you dinner and shit. that’s way romantic

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:23
kinda even more romantic if he sucks at it to be honest! that’s like!! punching thru ur limitations!! super manly!! rah!!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:24
THEN YOU DATE HIM IF YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:24
MAYBE I WILL!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:26
wait no that’s... kinda weird to think about, actually

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:27
aha!!! so you do kinda like him!!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:29
anyway, you don’t even know him. you don’t know if he’s cute. you don’t even know if he’s our age.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:29
he could be 68 with a bad back and hemorrhoids

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:30
do you think this old man is being romantic to me eiji

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:31
didn’t you literally just say he skipped class

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:32
he’s taking classes at the community college. old man classes. about hemorrhoids.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:32
also i don’t think you’d get tsundere over a grandpa but please do correct me if i’m wrong

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:34
TSUNDERE? ME, TSUNDERE?! EIJI WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL OF THE FUCKS I DO NOT GIVE ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:34
you’re lucky science has not yet invented a way for me to reach through this phone screen and choke you to death

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 22:35
yeah this right here? this is what i meant

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:36
SHITTY HAIR I’M THIS FUCKING CLOSE

 


 

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:59
i mean honestly

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 22:59
i could do worse

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 23:01
could you do better?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:03
probably not. not anymore

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 23:04
well that’s a depressingly accurate way to put it.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 23:06
it’s up to you. what do you have to lose?

One black t-shirt. One pair of boxers and one pair of cargo pants, also black. The little baggie in the lower left pocket of those pants. A couple wadded-up ¥10,000 bills in the upper right one. My worn-out boots and a pair of black socks with holes in them. This cell phone you bought me, and that orange toothbrush in the bathroom, clashing with your bright blue All Might one. Physically, that’s all I own. That’s all I have to lose. I don’t even have a right to the pajamas I’m wearing right now. They’re a little too small. They’re yours.

Metaphorically... is there anything? I was planning on keeping you in the bitter past, maybe just bordering on bittersweet if I squint. You’re not something I even had in the first place, so how could I lose you? Not even a permanent solution in practical terms, so why care? A wild card, a stopgap, a jumping off point to some future I can’t even summon the brain cells to contemplate in the day I’ve been here. It’s not fair to you to call you some of these things, but I’m a practical person at the end of the day. I make logical decisions. I try to, at least.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:10
nothing

So I’ll be logical from here on out. Reasoned decisions only, based on the present and not the past. That’ll keep me pointed forward, even when I feel like laying face down on your couch for the rest of time.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 23:13
:)

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:14
wipe that smirk off your face eiji

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 23:14
it’s an innocent, happy smile! why do you hate happiness?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:14
you’re anything but innocent

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:16
and to answer that question... i don’t know

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 28 Sep 23:17
katsuki... shit gets better, man.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:18
nah. shit *can* get better.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:18
there’s a difference.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:18
the first one, it just happens. you don’t gotta work at it.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 28 Sep 23:19
the world ain’t like that. i know better.

Chapter Text

My eyes opened onto the soft light of a Sunday morning filtering through the narrow, high-up window in my bedroom. Then my eyes promptly closed again, because it was way too early for a Sunday.

Ugh, only 6:12, I said to myself, squinting as narrowly as possible at the digital clock on the wall that also told me, helpfully, that it was sunny outside. How ever could we live without technology.

Then I remembered yesterday’s rain, and how it matched my mood, and the grey clouds that hung over my head and the lightning storm over yours since we fought the night prior. We only exchanged about four lines of dialogue the entire day, all of them about ordering a pizza in the evening. It wasn’t the first day you hadn’t talked to me – after all, there had just been a thousand consecutive days you also didn’t talk to me, and while I can't say those didn’t bother me either, they were less immediate somehow, as they didn’t involve you laying in my living room playing Final Fantasy and avoiding eye contact in between slices.

Had we really screwed things up again that fast?

I rolled over, extricating my arm from beneath the sheets and plopping it atop my forehead with a long sigh. Then I smelled how awful my breath was and had a sudden urge to brush my teeth. Well, at least it's daylight, I thought, shuffling towards the bathroom. I’ll go for my run and then see what new horrors today will bring.

All Might toothbrush, check. A comparatively much more adult and responsible toothpaste to put onto it, check. Alright. I can do this. I can get through this day. Can’t be worse than yesterday. We can try again.

As I went to town on my molars, I noticed the light coming in the bathroom window, also set high up on the wall like the bedroom window. More to the point, I noticed your clothes weren’t there on the rod anymore.

Of course you retrieved them. Of course it didn’t make sense to leave them hanging up well after they had dried out. These things are obvious. Stay calm, Izuku. Spit and rinse. And of course, there must be a reason the futon is rolled up neatly next to the sofa and your boots aren’t by the door. Stay calm, Izuku.

He’s gone again. No, stay calm, Izuku. He left again. I scared him off for good this time. Dammit stay calm, Izuku.

I looked out the front door. Nothing. Not in the kitchen. You couldn’t be in the bathroom. Tears in my eyes, I threw open the back door and–

“Gah– holy fuck Midoriya.”

You were sitting in the grass, previously cross legged and now splayed backwards in surprise, and the angular morning light wisping through your already sun-colored hair was, I thought, the most perfect sight I ever saw. I almost didn’t notice the thing you held in your hands vanish into your pants pocket.

“Sorry, I thought you were–” I started, but didn’t finish the thought. I’m still not sure whether it was because I was still catching my breath or because I thought better of saying it.

You exhaled, and turned your attention to the bush, picking up the garden shears laying in front of you. “Well I’m not. So go back inside.” It was quieter, though – not a witty retort, but a comment that seemed to imply you knew what the rest of that sentence would have been.

I sat down on the corner of the concrete pad outside the door, which gave me a decent view of what you were doing. “Ah, you’re trimming the rosebush.” I didn’t have anything meaningful to add, but it felt wrong leaving yet another conversation to die, so I committed to it.

“Yeah.” You glanced over your shoulder at me. “And I was doing it in peace and quiet.”

“Can I stay if I keep quiet, then?”

A little chuckle and a turn away. “Knock yourself out.”

It was dismissive, and yet strangely the most encouraging thing you’d said since the night you showed up. I wasn’t sure it would lead anywhere, but I fully intended to play my part. And so I sat there for at least fifteen minutes, motionless, me enjoying the brisk but damp morning air and the light burning through the last of the fog, and you intently building a tiny pile of snapped stems in front of you at the edge of the grass. I thought about the juxtaposition of you and the rosebush, both of you full of thorns but beautiful and strangely sweet all the same. I also enjoyed watching your back as you worked, seeing your muscles stretch just a little beneath your shirt with each snip. But you didn’t need to know that part.

I knew one of us would speak eventually, but didn’t think it would be you.

“Shishou used to do this when she was stressed out. Said it helped her clear her mind.” You sighed and leaned back onto your haunches in an uncomfortable-looking position. “But I’m no good at it. I cut way too much off the center here...”

“I’m sure the roses appreciate it,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“It might not last the winter. You're not supposed to cut off so much so late in the year.” You sighed. “But... I hope they do.”

You smiled a little bittersweet smile, seeming more pensive than I would have thought you capable of. I guess pruning the bush put you into a bit of a trance. It encouraged me to go a little deeper. “What kind of person was shishou?”

“The sort of person I wish I could be. Fearless. Capable. Didn’t take anyone’s shit.” You began to wipe off the shears with your shirttail and gather the cuttings into a neat pile, taking no care to avoid the thorns. “But calm and caring and understanding. Like I wish I could be to this fucking shrub as an apology for ruining its shitty life.” You stood up, brushing yourself off, and I looked straight up into your round, red eyes not totally unlike I had just done a few nights ago, the daylight now showing all your sides and not just a random angle.

“I think you did a good job.”

“I always do my best work ruining lives,” you said, a little curl of the lips at the end.

And you held out your hand to pull me up, a gesture I couldn't recall you ever doing before.

 


 

“Don’t move, you piece of shit! Grrrraggghhh!”

The yelling had been going on for an unreasonable amount of time, which was not what I had expected, to be quite honest. The version of you that showed up on my doorstep had changed a little from four years ago. You’re more mature, less shouty. A little more depressed. Okay, a lot more depressed, but who isn’t these days.

“Fuck! Fucking fuck shit goddamn cocksucking fuck! Fuck!”

The you that was yelling at my television was, by contrast, less mature. Much more shouty. Maybe a little less depressed, it's hard to tell. In short: the you I knew at age 15, for sure. Zero change.

I had contemplated going to hide in my room and toss my headphones in to drown you out for the evening, but for some reason I decided to set up shop in the same room and enjoy the show, such as it was. Nostalgia maybe? So, I dragged your (my) futon directly towards ground zero and placed it beneath the edge of the sofa, trying to block your view as little as possible in the process.

“Fucking bullshit!” you cried out at dying for at least the fifth time since I started keeping track. I could hear each button press being mashed as far into the controller as humanly possible.

I laid down in front of you, well out of your line of sight, but could easily see everything you were doing in the game. And... everything you were doing wrong. I wanted to tell you that attacking the skeletons’ arms first made the fight easier, that there were extra crystals behind that door on your right you ran past, that using Slow and then Burn against enemies was more effective than the other way around, and a million other things. But I kept my mouth shut. This was your playthrough, not mine, and you didn’t need a backseat driver.

You sighed loudly at your sixth time dying. “You ever played this thing before, or what?”

I rolled over and looked up into your eyes, which were still focused on navigating the menu system to your much-used save point. Red and yellow go so well together, I pined, then Wait, is he asking me for advice? The yelling, shouting, no-I’ll-do-it-my-fucking-self Bakugou “Kacchan” Katsuki? Asking me?

To be safe, I only answered your exact question. “Lots of times! It’s one of my favorite games.”

The dark loading screen replaced the bright menu, and your red eyes looked softer in the dim light as they looked down at me, causing my heart to instantly skip a medically unsafe number of beats. “Then you know how to murder these guys?”

“Uh, I... y-yeah, you have to–”

“And you didn’t tell me?” you asked, pausing a second to look satisfied with yourself for the question before turning your attention to the screen. And in that second, I think I lost six months off my lifespan. Again, that little smirk. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows how I’ll react and he’s enjoying it. I love that about him.

I... love? Him?

It was the first time those words came together in my head, or at least the first time I let myself put them together again, since you came back into my life. Why now? Why? After the fight we just had and all these open wounds? Now?

“Hey,” you grunted, your character running in circles on the screen a stone’s throw from a pack of menacing skeletons. “Are you gonna tell me how to kill these fuckos or what?”

I snapped back to the present, realizing I was still looking up at you – no, staring at you – and I thought I could see a hint of red on your cheeks, but it was probably just the light.

I was both confident in my explanation and nervous in my delivery, which resulted in me barely hearing myself speak as I explained how to target the arms and attack them first, and you were able to clear the entire bunch of them without breaking a sweat.

“That was so effing easy. How the hell did I have trouble with that?”

I knew that this was the sort of comment that didn’t need a reply, ever, and so kept my mouth shut. You played through a few more rooms of puzzles and enemies before making it to the other side successfully, which prompted another loading bar.

After a few seconds watching it creep across the screen, I felt a jab and noticed it was your heel, digging gently into my side. “Why the fuck are you down there, anyway?”

“Because you’re using the sofa.”

“I don’t have to use all of it, dumbass. Get up here.”

I was already nervous even being in the same room as you, happy the angle we laid at meant you couldn’t see the tortured expression on my face. I wasn’t sure I could handle being up there with you.

“Ah, th-that’s alright Bakugou, I’m fine down here!”

“Midoriya if you don’t use your own couch just because I was laying here first it’s gonna make me feel even worse.”

You’ve figured me out, Kacchan, I thought. The ol’ guilt trip always works.

I slowly rose to my feet, legs trembling a bit, as you slid your head off the armrest and onto the middle cushion, legs kicking off the far end and dangerously close to the lamp on the endtable that you never bothered turning on, but it’s not like I had any brain cells left to worry about freaking lamps at that point. I was busy assuming my spot on the sofa – sitting bolt upright in the vacant space as close to the armrest as possible, but still dangerously close to your head.

A few more enemies dispatched on screen. “You okay up there?” you asked.

“Ah, y-yeah!” I said, probably unconvincingly, and I thought I saw your eyes dart up to me for just a moment.

“Well I’m not. My neck hurts,” you said, pausing the game and wincing a little.

“It’s how you’re laying.”

“No shit.”

“Do you want me to get a pillow?”

“Nah,” you grunted, inching towards me and laying your head atop my thigh, soft blond hairs tickling just slightly where the fabric of my shorts gave way to skin. “Too far away. Just don’t move.”

My heart just about leapt out of my chest. I felt like a video game enemy, lined up in your crosshairs, ready to be pelted at any moment with some sort of advanced flirting weaponry, or whatever this was. And so I sat there, motionless, watching the chest of the man I love rise and fall, his eyes dart about the screen, his arm muscles tighten, relax, and then tense again as the buttons of the controller clacked. Your eyes. Your muscles. You.

Is this how you’re choosing to apologize, Kacchan? Apology accepted. Apology always accepted.

When I was finally able to tear myself away again, you were in the middle of some long-winded quest I barely remembered, taking a bag of medicine from a guy in the jungle to a guy in the desert (which was mysteriously nearby, geologically speaking) for a bag of crystals. There was a lot of running involved.

I permitted myself to let go of my hands, which I had nervously kept folded against my chest. I laid my right against the armrest of the sofa, and my left, out of habit, against the fuzzy thing in my lap where the cat liked to lay.

You stole a glance up at me, an expression that seemed to ask What the heck do you think you’re doing? It didn’t look entirely angry, but... maybe a little.

“Ah, I... I think I thought you were... All Might,” I laughed to him. “You see the cat likes to lay there, and–”

...and I like having you lay there even more, is how that sentence would have ended, if I had the courage to finish it.

Instead, I silently kept my hand there, enjoying the feeling of your hair soft against my fingers, not wanting to move it until I absolutely had to. I waited for you to ask, but you never did – only shifted your position a little, and kept running through town towards the desert. I got bolder, rubbing one finger gently against your scalp, enjoying the almost-imperceptible flick of each hair as it released from beneath my fingertips, cascading downwards.

After a few motions like this, you stole another glance up at me, slightly less angry than the last one but no less inquisitive. And as our eyes met, something Mei said floated across my consciousness. Something I didn't want to associate with the beautiful eyes looking up at me.

You do know this story won’t have a happy ending, don’t you?

I know.

The silence had gone on too long for me to bear. “D-do you not like this? I can stop.”

And you’re willing to see that through, even if it hurts?

You turned your attention back to the screen, where you were collecting your reward for successfully delivering the potion, or whatever they called it.

When you spoke then, your voice had a quiet, serene tenor to it that I’d never heard from you in all the years I’d heard you speak. It cut through everything I was thinking and worrying about: Do I need some logical reason for this? Do I hold back out of fear over uncertainty? But the real question, I realized in that moment, was simply: What future do I desire more than the one with you in it? There wasn't one. There never has been.

Yes.

“Do what you want,” is what you said, and I immediately began trying to lock those words into my memory for the rest of time. So I never forgot their true meaning.

I always thought I would end up thinking things like Oh god I don’t want this moment to ever end! during a moment like this, inasmuch as I ever thought lucidly about it. Or maybe Do you have any idea how many nights I’ve laid awake thinking about you and I just like this?

That’s what I would have expected to be on my mind. They're not things I don't feel, that's for sure. But instead, in that moment, all I thought was this: This feels right. Your head should have been in my lap five years ago, you idiot.

The thoughts ran through my head like my fingers through your hair – gently, effortlessly, like they were always meant to be there. And we stayed that way for a long time, your breathing calm and even, until eventually it slowed even further, you having closed your eyes and drifted off to sleep, the character on screen just as motionless as you, but lacking the incomparable peace of your gently closed eyelids, illuminated by the wan light of a virtual sun in a virtual desert.

 

Chapter Text

I woke up with the ceiling a little closer than I’m used to. After spending this much time staring at it, I’m keenly aware of the stupid fake-stucco patterns, and those useless swirls are definitely a little closer this morning.

Oh, I thought. I’m on the sofa.

Did you know there are four different stains on your living room ceiling? I thought it was three for the first hour I laid here staring at the ugly peeling paint, but eventually I found another light tan one against the front left corner where some rusty water or... coffee or... I don’t want to think about what else... leaked down from above.

I don’t want to think about why I woke up on the sofa. I would much rather think about stains.

I mean, I know why. I remember it. It was only logical right? Yeah, a series of logical decisions. We both fit on the couch, and then it was more comfortable uh... like that. And I know there’s that one hormone you get from touch and physical contact that helps reduce your stress levels... like, Oxyclean or whatever it's called. So I guess we needed some Oxyclean. And well, it seems you liked it, so it made sense. You know, to repay you for all you’ve been doing.

We’re gonna go with that, Katsuki.

Also, this sofa is fucking awful. Not as bad as the futon, but with more springs poking into my spinal cord. The futon also doesn’t creak when I breathe, which is a nice feature that I should be able to take for granted, but apparently I can’t. Creak, creak it announced as I flopped onto my side, fumbling around on the floor for where I left my phone charging last night. I yanked it unceremoniously away from the too-short cable, which briefly protested before breaking off contact.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 09:32
hey shitty hair

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 09:32
listen good

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 09:32
because i’m about to say words i don’t say lightly

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 30 Sep 09:34
oh this oughta be good

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 09:35
you were right

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 09:35
he’s uh. into me.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 30 Sep 09:35
OH MY GOD!! KATSUKI YOU STUD!! WHAT HAPPENED

I left him on read and gently dropped the phone back onto the floor.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 30 Sep 09:52
i am dying please you gotta tell me

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 30 Sep 11:14
well i hope he likes the silent treatment more than i do. you know, for your sake

 


 

Can’t leave.

I’ve been on a few stakeouts before, living off takeout and canned soup with the other knuckleheads from the old gang. Laid low for a little while to avoid some hero patrols in the area. Even just straight-up told shishou I wasn’t doing any work that particular weekend – mental health day, I said. She tried to act disapproving but broke out laughing instead. And yet, being stuck here feels different. Maybe it’s because I’m all alone with my thoughts?

Can’t leave.

So I’ve been trying to keep busy over the last few days. First I thought I’d try fixing the place up a little bit. I attempted to fix the leaky faucet in your bathroom, but I don’t think you own a single wrench, so that went nowhere fast. I did clean the shower and wipe down the windows, which I better get a “thank you” for. I even emptied the litterbox. Little fucker won’t take my shit, but I’ll still take his and toss it out. Life ain’t fair.

Can’t leave.

There’s always the old Playstation, but there are only so many consecutive hours I can spend on it when you only have four games. Also I’ve played two of these four to death already. I’m in this for the long haul. Gotta pace myself.

If only you didn’t take your laptop with you to class every day, even though you take all your notes with pen and paper. What’s it even for? Do you sit in the back and play Minecraft or something? Today’s even worse because you’ll be at the first day of your internship until sundown. Hooray, I have the place to myself! Just like every fucking day!

I downloaded like a dozen games on my phone to pass the time, but all the ads made me want to hurl the phone directly through your television like a pitcher at Koushien. I’m picturing a nice, round, clean hole and maybe some sparking wires. God that would be satisfying.

Can’t leave.

I got so bored I even took inventory of your kitchenware, after having to put everything away from a couple nights ago when we fought. Even after you went to class it still looked like a very tidy earthquake had rolled through and knocked everything directly onto the countertops and kitchen table. In the process of putting everything back where it seemed like it should have belonged, I took the liberty of determining you had eight spatulas and not one whisk.

Can’t leave.

Also, the beef you had was still in the fridge from a few days ago. That’s probably gonna go bad soon.

Can’t leave can’t leave can’t leave can’t leave can’t leave can’t leave.

The same thought droned on and on until I felt like running out the door screaming, but that would not be a useful pursuit, except for the momentary catharsis. Then again, counting your spatulas and ceiling stains and attempting but failing to play with your cat aren’t very useful pursuits either.

My eloquent note of Buy a fucking whisk, lettucehead! was only noticed by you adding a why? in your own scribble beneath it, and eventually it ended up in the recycling without any whisks being produced for the household. As for whatever that stain is on the ceiling, I don't think there's anything we can do for it now. Maybe we can Oxyclean it before it develops sentience. And the cat, well... the cat always runs away at top speed whenever he sees me, but I have to pass the time somehow.

So I stooped down at the cracked door of the closet in the hallway where the kitty had bolted off to. Try, try again, as they say.

“C’mon little dude, can’t we get along?” I said.

Hiss.

Oh yeah, I then thought to myself, remembering its name was All Might. Deku is that kind of person. I wonder who hurt him.

Oh yeah, I then thought to myself. Me.

Anyway. “All Might... here, All Might.” It felt weirder than I thought it would, and that’s even after I thought it would feel pretty damn weird to begin with.

Hiss.

“Come out, All Might... I’ll get you some... some milk or something. If we have any.” Then, thoughtfully, “which we don’t, because Deku only eats convenience store food, but I’ll try to hook you up anyway. Just come out.”

Then, without warning, he darted out of the closet at top speed, knocking over a broom in the corner, claws batting at the hardwood floors as he struggled to make the turn around my butt and scramble into your room.

“I guess some things never change,” I said, and then it hit me: The giant box falling on my head from the top shelf of the closet, knocking me off my feet and onto my tailbone, shoulder slamming into the wall, limbs and papers and trinkets flying everywhere, and then, finally, the broom falling on top it all with a clatter. It was really graceful, is what I’m trying to say.

Oh god, I said to myself as it was happening, I'm about to become the first person to ever get a concussion from trying to pet a cat. But there was no concussion, and I’ve definitely been through worse than having a box fall on me, so I just started on the task of picking up all the papers and notebooks that fell out. But in assessing the damage to the box’s contents, I noticed one of the notebooks in particular. The ink a little blurry, the pages a little wobbly. And charred.

Hero Analysis for the Future.

There were a lot more of these notebooks, of course. Most of the box was filled up with them. I leaned the box on its side and stacked the other twelve neatly, in preparation for gathering all the other shit that had fallen everywhere, but something compelled me to open it up.

Pages upon pages, so filled to the brim with notes that the pages crinkled as I turned them. Sections on type of quirk, strengths and weaknesses, the origins of each pro hero and the school they went to, and what situations they excelled or struggled in. It was really dorky. It was really impressive. And I blew it up and threw it out the window at the end of middle school. Life tip: They can’t suspend you if there are no more classes left. Go wild.

I neatly filed #13 back in the box and pulled out #1. The characters were blocky and hard to read, even though it was written almost entirely in kana like a beginning elementary schooler. Pretty much every page was about All Might, his quirk, theories as to what category it falls into, notes about some specific occasion he held up a falling building or diverted a typhoon or saved a dozen people with his neck hair or did some other heroic feat no human being should be capable of. “All Might is the most powerfulest hero in the world,” said one page. “And Kacchan is second!” Oh god. “He’s way cool, and fearless, and always looks out for his friends!” You really sure about that, Deku? “Everyone says he’s gonna grow up to be the best hero, and when my quirk comes in I’m gonna be next bestest!”

Oh Deku, I found myself saying over and over in my head. Oh Midoriya. You’ve always had it bad, haven’t you?

Then, Stop it, Katsuki. This actually counts as snooping if you take things out of the box. Put them back in. Right.

A few book reports and pages upon pages of class notes for your support course classes, some dorky school photos (a bowtie? really?), class schedules and movie tickets and old train passes to Kyoto and...

And I don’t have anything like this, I realized then. No mementos, no old notebooks. No smiling photographs with friends. I flipped through the freshman yearbook and I think I saw my spiky hair in the top right corner of one picture; there’s another that I’m virtually positive I remember being taken, but without me in it. They must have digitally edited me out, which wouldn’t surprise me. You know why as well as I do: I ended up being very inconvenient for them.

The year we were freshmen ended up being the most tumultuous year in UA’s history. Villain attacks on students and teachers anywhere and everywhere, security lapses, and – oh yeah – All Might nearly dying on national television. That kinda put a damper on things. Just about the only thing that went right was the Sports Festival, which, naturally, I was suspended for.

I got a behavioral review or something, and took it too hard. I went to see All Might, and it all went to my head. I thought I could finally beat him, looking like a shriveled string bean. I was right, that I could. I was wrong, that it would make me feel any better. I was just beating up a guy who was down on his luck.

That’s also exactly how the media, who had somehow gotten onto the UA grounds to film the entire thing, saw it. And then, that was how everyone saw it. And that’s all there was of Bakugou Katsuki’s hero career.

There were meetings, I’m sure. Eraserhead and All Might and Nedzu and Hound Dog were probably all locked in some conference room with a pot of tea, sweating bullets trying to figure out how to cover their own asses for the millionth time that year. Whatever they came up with, it involved expelling me and holding a press conference. Because whatever solution anyone ever comes up with anymore, it involves a press conference. Something, something decisive action. Something, something restoring the community’s faith in UA.

It backfired, Eiji told me later. A bunch of the students – him at the forefront – made such a stink about it that the media ran on that, too, and it became the millionth-and-first boondoggle for UA that year. Their suffering didn’t bring me any closure, though, because my life and reputation were still ruined, and the rest of them... well they’re here in this yearbook, teaching and doing training exercises as usual. All Might is even here cooking hamburgers for everyone with an apron that says “Kiss the #1.” I’d rather not, Toshinori, you slimeball. Maybe the rest of them were misled, but you could have swayed them. You knew the truth, and it died in your shriveled little heart.

All the other kids who didn’t really care one way or another what happened to me are also here, laughing and learning and having a great time (they left out all the parts about them getting their asses kicked by villains, conveniently).

A couple of the students genuinely cared. Iida and Uraraka and a few others were upset, but still they left it to Eiji to say anything publicly. Eiji’s bestie Mina thought it was unfair, but from what I gleaned she got more worked up over Eiji’s reaction than anything to do with me. Kaminari and Sero were angry too, but they stopped caring as soon as someone fed them. The emo bird kid, the one who thought he was French, and the Half-n-Half bastard that won the Sports Festival thought the situation itself was a shame, but their sympathy didn’t extend to me personally, so again, I was just an inconvenience. Also, that weird kid who never shut up about hentai and boobies and wore his underwear as a hero costume said I had it coming and deserved what happened, so I found his apartment a few years later and tossed a grenade through the window. While he wasn’t home, of course. I do have some standards.

None of them ever heard from me again, save Eiji. The consensus seemed to be that I gave up and ran away from my dreams; I’ve never given up, never run away. Heroes can’t be cowards, but changing course isn’t cowardly. I directed my energies towards other things, things they couldn’t see. Not every plant that fails to bloom is dying. Besides, I don’t want to be a hero anymore, now that I know what it’s really like. I just wanna fight and live my own way. After all, destroying the life of a 15 year old to save your own ass – that’s what being a hero means to me these days.

So when I’m not too keen on your All Might toothbrush and lamp and pot holders, this is why. It’s not just because they’re campy and ridiculous – which of course, they are, and I’m sure you of all people would be the first to admit that. It’s also because there was a grain of truth to his reasoning. Given who I was back then, and the sort of place UA was... did I ever stand a chance there? I’ve certainly changed in the hard-fought years since, and I think it’s been a positive change. So why does that still sit ill with me, after all this time?

You should know that I’m not excusing my own actions. That incident was not the first awful thing I did for which I don’t deserve forgiveness, and it sure as hell wasn’t the last. I just wish there was a lesser price I could have paid. The arc of my life would be different now, and I wouldn’t be staring at pictures of the world that should have been mine, but without me in it. I could be a... no. Not finishing that thought.

As I put the yearbook back into the box, I noticed something moving in the hall to the left: the swish of the tail of a beautiful orange cat, a bit chubby and with little white stripes, hair standing up in the sunlight streaming through the bathroom window. His inquisitve green eyes cautiously observed me.

“Hey, pal.”

Bzzt bzzt. I felt a vibration in my pocket, and All Might the cat went speeding back towards whatever hiding place he came from. Thanks a lot, jackass. I pulled the phone out and saw two messages from Midoriya:

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 30 Sep 12:49
so my friend hatsume wants to talk to you?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 30 Sep 12:49
would you be willing to talk to her so she shuts up about talking to you

Hmph, guess my cover was blown that easily. Or maybe she just knows I’m his crush or The Guy He Gets Embarrassed Talking About or some shit. God knows that’d be like him.

My first instinct is no, stay in hiding from everything you can. Do your best not to exist anymore. The future is a dangerous place, so slow it down. Stay stuck here, your head buried in the sand, and don’t lose what little you have left. That's the instinct from the last six months without anyone but myself to rely on.

Can’t leave.

But I feel now that's something that needs to be broken. I can't believe I'm saying this but... I probably oughta embrace whatever kinda weird life this’ll turn out to be. I have no idea how long it’ll last when every knock on the door could be the last time we meet, and when every object in this apartment reminds me of the last time we met. But between the past and the future, there’s only one I can do anything about. And it involves not living like I have been – not re-living four years ago every time my brain is otherwise unoccupied. There are only so many stains on that ceiling. I can’t keep this brain occupied long enough to shut them out anymore.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 12:51
that hurt my head you shitty shrub. sure, why the fuck not

I carefully packaged everything into the box again and filed it away on the top shelf where it had been before. Probably not even you would notice the difference – that is, if you ever bother looking at this stuff again.

But while I flopped down on the couch and stared at the ceiling some more, waiting for your friend’s messages to come in, the memories stayed in my mind. And they repeated the same words over and over. Can’t leave can’t leave can’t leave. The past will keep following you forever. You can never leave. It will repeat itself, wherever you go, whatever roof is overhead, with whoever you care about, and until you break the patterns that caused it, it will make sure you can’t leave it behind. Not quietly, not happily.

The only way out is through.

Chapter Text

The boy next to me is sitting uncomfortably upright in his expensive leather chair in the Halcyon boardroom. He’s taking notes attentively on the insufferably dry presentation about how happy they are to have us here and the illustrious history of the firm and the values they try to represent to the public and blah blah blah. He looks composed and dignified.

But the boy next to me is Midoriya Izuku, and he’s not supposed to be any of those things. On a normal day, his mind wanders off into nooks and crannies of whatever is being discussed. His mind, his pen on his overfull notebook page, and his mouth – quiet but not silent – are all moving a mile a minute. The last especially has become an integral part of the Izuku Experience, along with the constant fidgeting and clicking of the pen in his hand or tapping of his big clunky red shoes on the floor. This does not usually result in a dignified appearance.

I would know, because I’m the same way, and seldom has anyone accused me of being dignified. If they do, I try to make sure they don’t do it twice. I won’t put up with such slander.

I’m always lost in thought, too – rotating some doohickey in my head, wondering if it’s best to route the circuitry of some particular device inside the hem of the fabric or in a special band on the outside, or making notes on my tablet about what sorts of alloys would be best for armor plating, and how it changes between a fire-based quirk, an electricity-based quirk, or for that guy who can turn his fingernails into high-speed keratin darts. (I made armored gloves for him. It was exactly as difficult as it sounds.) And while I’m ruminating, I have a tenuous relationship at best with the rest of the world, just like Izuku does when he’s mumbling his way through class.

And yet, although he seemingly never pays one iota of attention to anything being said, he always comes out of class with meticulous notes on every important topic. That part I have yet to replicate. My notebook is a wasteland, except for scribbled blueprints for a solar-powered robot that removes back hair that I’ll pitch to the next balding guy in a suit at the university who complains about my grades. They love useless shit like that. That’s why they make me take accounting courses. Who needs to know accounting? I’m in a mechanical hero design course. Let me use the metallurgy studio already! I wanna blow stuff up!

What I’m trying to say is, unlike most other people on this planet, it’s when Izuku’s not talking to himself that I get worried about him.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 10:41
you feeling okay bud?

I could hear his phone go bzzt bzzt in his pocket, but he didn’t take it out to respond.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 10:43
hey kelphead pick up your phone

This time the bzzt bzzt drew a reaction from him – reaching down into his pocket to turn his phone off. Or setting it to silent, I couldn’t tell which.

So I gave up, for a while. And I sat there, acting like I was enraptured by the slide about the Halcyon corporate hierarchy while actually trying to figure out which of the identical men in suits in front of me would be most likely to pay money for an electric lint roller.

 


 

“Izuku that’s the saddest bento I’ve ever seen.”

“At least I made one!” he said, his protest weakened by the sad display of plain white rice with a little furikake sprinkled on top staring back at us from his green plastic container.

“Ugh, I can’t stand looking at it.” I plucked two of the grilled hot dog pieces from my own bento and placed them on top of his rice. He gave a cautious look. “They’re good! But they’re not octopus-shaped, sorry.”

“Should they be? We’re in the workplace now, after all.”

“Mentally I will always be seven years old,” I said with feigned indignation, trying but failing to split one end of the hot dog open with the tips of my chopsticks. Mentally, also, I couldn’t believe they weren’t feeding us on our first day. I was hoping for sushi. I am always hoping for sushi. Sushi on plates labeled ¥200 that parade past me on a little conveyor belt, unlabeled, making me sniff the plate and guess which variety of fish was dumb enough to get caught today. Those are the best. Instead, we’re sitting on the floor in a disused conference room. That’s not the best.

“Anyway,” I said, returning temporarily to reality, “what’s your mental state today?”

He scooped up a bit of rice, carefully avoiding the hot dogs. “What kind of segue is that?”

“Oh my god Izuku, first you look lost in your head all morning, then you don’t answer your phone, now you’re dancing around the question like there’s a cowboy shooting at your feet.” I ate a hot dog piece, a little seaweed salad, a lot of rice. Too much for one bite, I thought. Also these tastes don’t really go together. Oh well. Life’s short, make bad decisions. “What’s going on with the boy? That’s what I’m really asking.”

I expected him to turn the color of a hot dog piece when I asked this and not the color of a cherry tomato, so that was interesting.

“Ah, n-nothing really!” he said, you know, like a liar.

“Oh really?” I said, leaning in as close as I could without spilling rice everywhere.

“Mei, please!”

“Did you snuggle and fuck without clearing things up first?”

“Ah, n-no!” he yelped, “one of them! Not the fucking! The uh–” he halted, the blood that had rushed to his face now draining out just as quickly.

Just as Izuku.exe froze, looking like it was about to crash for good, the door to the room opened and a girl in red with long black locks of hair poked her head in. She looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place her.

“Oh, I’m sorry to disturb you. I was looking for Morishita-san.”

“I’m not Morishita-san,” I said, then gestured to Izuku, brain still short-circuiting. “He ain’t either.”

She laughed, but it was a polite laugh and not one that indicated any pleasure or, god forbid, mirth. “Of course not. Excuse me.”

“Ah, um,” Izuku started, just as the door began to close again. “You mean the C.E.O.?” Not only had his brain resumed regular operation, but he really did pay attention to those flow charts.

The head appeared around the edge of the frosted glass again. “Yes, I wanted to have a word with her, but she wasn’t in her office. I’ll be going now,” she said. Huffy, I thought.

“Ah, wait!” he said, making the door halt its closing motion a second time, and again the head peered back around the corner. Midoriya set down his bento and got to his feet. “Do we know each other? From UA maybe? Yaoya... Yaoyo... Ah, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten.”

Her face brightened until it showed something that might reasonably be construed as warmth. “Yes! Yaoyorozu Momo.” She released her grip on the edge of the door and stepped into the room to meet Izuku’s politely extended hand with her own. “Though I mainly go by Creati these days.” Her hero name, apparently.

“Midoriya Izuku!” he said, deftly relieving her of the duty of trying to remember a name she probably never bothered learning in the first place. “I was in the support course! I think we were in the same year!” After she agreed with this sentiment, an awkward moment passed, and then he turned to me, still sitting on the floor shoveling rice into my face and making no attempt whatsoever to act dignified. “And this is Hatsume Mei! Also a UA support grad, and now we’re in the internship program here with the university.”

“Hello!” I said, waving at her over-enthusiastically with my non-chopsticks-holding hand in a way that I hoped resembled a toddler greeting a koala in the marsupial enclosure at the zoo.

Her attention immediately snapped back to Izuku. “It’s good to know they’re hosting the internships again,” she said, and Izuku agreed that yes, it was just peachy to be here, but in different words. “I wish you success then, Midoriya,” she said graciously, and, turning to me with a little more ice in her voice, “Hatsume.” I nodded, and she slipped back out the door she probably regretted opening in the first place.

Izuku sat down next to me again, his mood lifted from the exchange somehow. “It’s exciting getting to meet all these heroes here!”

“You barely knew her, though.”

“It’s just the first morning! We could run into so many heroes here... we could meet All Might one day!”

I’ve seen this boy’s room before, and let me tell you, that old hero would never see the light of day again once Izuku had cornered him. Plus, you know, this gives me a chance to change the topic.

“Doesn’t All Might shit in a box in your bathroom?”

He giggled, ever a rarity for Izuku. “Kacchan laughed his head off at that.”

“Oh my god you call him Kacchan,” I said. “That’s cute.”

“Yeah, ever since we were little.” He immediately seemed distant, lost in thoughts only he was privy to. “He doesn’t like that name anymore, though.”

“Izuku.” I closed the lid and stowed the chopsticks. Something in all this troubled me. “Can I talk to him?”

“What? Why?”

“Oh god, how do I put this.” I sighed, looking up at the ceiling for a moment. “Well if I’m the detective in this crime drama, then I would say you’re too much of a good cop.”

He cocked his head to the side. “And you wanna be the bad cop? What does that even mean?”

“It means you’re not sticking up for yourself enough,” I said, as he finally ate those hot dog pieces and stopped acting like they were poisoned. “This is such a life-changing opportunity, to be here at this company doing this kind of work. I don’t want to see you functioning at less than a hundred percent because some demons came back to haunt you at the exact wrong time.”

He sighed. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea.”

“C’mon, I can’t kill the guy through the internet.”

“The fact you’re thinking about killing him in the first place is what concerns me!”

“You’re spilling your rice, Izuku.”

He looked down, immediately jerking the container back from the precarious angle it had assumed, grains flying everywhere. While he cleaned up, I nabbed his phone from where he had laid it on the carpet and held it up.

“May I?”

“Let me do it, please.”

“So courteous!” I cooed, handing it back to him.

He didn’t seem to have enough hands anymore, so I went to get him a paper towel from the restroom, and when I returned he showed me the phone screen.

“Is that okay?” he asked, doing his best to conceal his surprise, no doubt in response to Bakugou’s answer.

“He called you a shitty shrub...”

Izuku laughed again, just a little. “He has a way with words,” he said sheepishly, like Bakugou was some cheesy TV show from the 80s he was embarrassed to say he liked. Embarassed to say he really liked. Embarrassed to say he was a superfan who had the DVD box set on his bookshelf.

Well, I guess we all have our guilty pleasures, I said to myself. Except you take the expression a little too literally.

 


side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:52
why do you treat him like you do though

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:52
i’m trying to understand in what universe this is a good idea for *him*

I don’t like conflict, I really don’t. I’m a happy person, or at least I try to be. But when conflict needs to happen, as it sometimes does in life, people typically shy away from it. It’s stressful, I get it – and god knows Izuku has been through enough stress in his life.

But avoiding shit? That just ain’t my style.

I’m the brawler that pushes straight through obstacles, beats things down through sheer force. When you work with physical things, strong things, all carbon and metals and mechanisms, you can do that. They take well to hammering and forging, getting kicked and tossed around and subjected to what would otherwise be considered abuse if they didn’t become so much improved for their troubles.

But there’s also the other side of it, wires and sensors, fine clockwork pieces, and the twisting torsion of fabrics and substrates beneath them. Hammering breaks them, blast furnaces melt or burn them. Instead they take to tinkering, small finesses and tweaks that would achieve nothing when working with their burlier counterparts.

There is no piece I make that is ever complete solely with one and not the other. If a client asks for a grapple mechanism or sensor array, then what about adding some flexible carbon fiber plating to protect the arm or leg or tentacle using them? And if some beefy fighter comes in begging for beefy armor, then make sure he knows he can be even better with just a little high-tech edge on top of it.

It’s not just an upsell – it’s a consultation fee, too! Ka-ching!

Wait, I got off topic. Right. It’s about making a complete package. Hero support systems break down into two halves, and like most universities ours offers two broad programs. One focuses on metalworking, plastics, mechanics, gadgets, electrical devices, channeling energies from the point of the quirk outwards into the world more efficiently, and therefore usually focusing more on offensive capabilities. That’s what I do, mechanical hero design, so I understand it best. Its counterpart is more subtle: costumes, fabric, insulation, miniaturization and durability, endurance, and stockpiling resources necessary for the quirk to function properly. It’s focused on defense more so than offense, but more than anything it’s about integration – assembling a hero kit that works as a cohesive whole not only functionally, in battle, but also aesthetically. That’s why it’s called integrated hero systems. It’s what Izuku does.

There are other fields involved – computer sciences for rapid always-on systems and real-time telemetry in battle... genetics and cutting-edge quirk research to determine how exactly each body varies and the way to harness that individually... human psychology to gain an edge on enemies. Botany and geology. The migration patterns of birds. Name literally anything, and it’s probably been used to make a better hero outfit at least once, so it’s not like these are the only games in town.

Izuku tinkers so much with the forest in his head that he forgets how to take a hammer to the tree right in front of him. Or something like that, I mixed up my metaphors. Whatever, I’m an engineer, not a poet.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:53
listen

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:53
midoriya pisses me off to hell and back

I’ve been talking to his crush/childhood friend/childhood tormentor/roommate/criminal stowaway for a little bit now, and he’s getting under my skin – but not, somehow, for the reasons I expected.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:53
but i know a good human being when i see one

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:53
i hurt him enough for a lifetime already

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:54
and still he does this for me?

Shouting and arrogance, denial, cursing, and someone dangerous who’s dead-set on taking advantage of Izuku’s kindness. That’s what I thought I’d find. He couldn’t be more different, except maybe for the cursing. What happened since UA? Was this really the dude who attacked All Might?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:54
a lot of people i treated a lot better have repaid me a lot worse

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:54
i wish to god i didn’t need to rely on any kindness, much less his

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 16:55
i don’t deserve it. never have

Something came over me, though.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:55
so go and earn it you soggy piece of toast

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:55
i don’t give a fuck how apologetic you are

I don't know what it was. Anger that he wasn’t the target I expected him to be? Frustration at his words being the polar opposite of who he was on paper? The desire to let out the fire that had been rising inside me all this time, the steam that had been pressurizing the system, finally won over. I did say I would be the bad cop, after all.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:56
if you care about that boy you’ll change instead of laying around on his floor moping and giving him anxiety

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:56
you have the nerve to get all full of pity for yourself after the shit you’ve pulled? like you’re the victim?

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:58
i’m willing to ignore what i know of your past together. it’s blood under the bridge, whatever.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:58
but i swear on every god in every heaven and every demon in every hell i will hold you accountable for what you do from here on out

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 16:58
even if he won’t

A few minutes passed with no messages, and I felt a kind of accomplishment. I did it. I made this shithead speechless. But then it sank in – it was really playing the victim and all like I said, yes, but there was genuine regret and remorse there. And I started to feel regretful too, as if the job I came here to do was already complete before I showed up.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 17:04
i will.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 17:04
i'll earn it.

He seemed a bit wounded, but in a good way. I always did think boys looked best like that, to be honest.

Except for Izuku. I didn’t ever want to see him hurt. That’s what this is all about, in the end – me trying to keep him from getting hurt. In protecting him, though... am I really helping as much as I think I am?

The little laugh from earlier, the casual “Kacchan”... aren’t they the seeds of a tiny happiness amidst all this grief? Am I keeping them stuck in that awful past? Keeping Izuku there?

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:07
don't misunderstand me, i'm rooting for you. i really am

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:08
do you know how he talks about you when you're not around?

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:09
in some ways, i haven't seen him this happy in a long time

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:10
in others, he’s a nervous wreck. and right now, we’re starting the biggest opportunity of our lives

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:10
we both worked so, so hard to get here.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:10
so if you care about him like you say you do

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:11
make this right, and do it quick.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:13
im begging you.

Is it my job to make sure my best friend never gets hurt? Probably not, I realized then. I have a duty to speak up, to butt my head in, to make sure alternate viewpoints are considered, and to smack him upside the head if he makes what I think is the wrong decision. And then, I have a duty to make my peace and withdraw, and to support him win or lose. I don’t think I realized that last part when I asked Izuku if I could do this.

I talked more with Bakugou than I ever thought we would, after that stormy beginning. He told me about the expulsion, and his story made too much sense not to believe. I remembered all that hullabaloo about villain attacks, the hero program getting dorms, all the ink spilled over various security lapses in the paper. That weird... hamster guy who apparently was our principal and all the press conferences he did. In those days, that was exactly the kind of bus they would have thrown someone under, and from what little I know of Bakugou at age 15, he seems like the kind of kid most people would wanna toss in front of one to start with. Two plus two. I know how to do this math. I’m smart, sometimes.

So maybe Izuku knows what he’s doing here. Or, maybe he’s in way over his head and this is still a big mistake. Who knows.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 30 Sep 17:31
i'm kinda glad he has a friend like you.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:34
flattery will get you nowhere, buster.

People can have good intentions and still do bad things, after all. Or they can do the right thing for themselves, but not for the people around them. It’s not possible to tinker with a person, after all, to pull apart the wires and gears and logically determine how they’ll function, or in what ways they’ll interact with all the other pieces around them. Synergy is one of those buzzwords that Lint Roller Dudes love to put on those slides in corporate presentations, but all it means is that when those wires and hoses and battery packs and jet thrusters fit together just right, when they’re integrated and working towards a common goal together, they can achieve something incredible – liftoff.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 30 Sep 17:35
but... thank you.

Does that mean these two idiots are a jet pack waiting to happen? Well, it looks pretty hopeless to be quite honest, but that’s not my specialty. Izuku would know better. He has so many hero kits scribbled in the margins of his notebooks, all meticulously planned right down to the best use of scraps of fabric, ways to use the kinetic energy of a recoil or a kick to power secondary weapons, schematics of mutant musculature so as to better situate electrical or cooling systems on a hero’s body. What I’m saying is this: if there’s one person I know who can take all these impossible pieces and make them work together, it’s him.

Ooh, and I’ve been working on this amazing portable trampoline prototype with experimental nanofibers for the fire department, so if that jet pack fails, Izuku?

I’ll catch you, buddy. I promise.

Chapter Text

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:25
i am not in any way saying i have made good life choices

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:25
i’m just tired of having to defend them

I can’t tell Katsuki this... he’d call me a crybaby or something. But if anyone had told me how much of a hero’s time went towards meetings, I might have just become a bartender or something.

The Ministry of Public Safety! The Association of Concerned Citizens! Metropolitan Police! The Ministry of Hero Affairs! The Public Safety Ministry Of Concerned, Publicly Safe Citizens! (Actually, I think I made that last one up, but I’m not completely sure anymore.) Also there’s some guy running for prefectural office who keeps asking for hero endorsements even though it’s illegal. And apparently it doesn’t matter how many times I tell his publicist that, she still comes to bother us at the agency once a week. That’s why I beg for street patrols every single time, even during the rainy season. Fighting and being outdoors feels best, no matter what. I don’t want to look at the pile of paperwork on my desk anymore, no matter how many times Fatgum tells me I need to clear it out by the end of the week. Not like he’s gonna fire me or anything, not after he practically adopted me.

I just wanna help people, not jump through hoops. I think that’s why I used to envy Katsuki, just a little bit. The things he had to go through when UA abandoned him were awful, but he had a decent life going for himself there for a long time. No meetings, no regulations – just that pure, unadulterated hero instinct, yeah? I was happy for him, even if I knew it couldn’t really last.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:27
you made your bed, now you gotta lie in it

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:27
it sucks, but you know that’s how this works

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:28
god i wish i had an actual bed

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:28
you can always come get in mine again

First we started training together, just like we had at UA – his offensive quirk against my defensive one. But with time, our paths diverged more and more. I had to be the good little hero, while he faced down whatever hand life dealt to him that particular week. I envied his freedom, and he envied my stability, I think. We always want what we can’t have, right? So as my world hardened into a blur of paperwork and his exploded with crisis after crisis, the frustration built into occasional releases between us that were more than sparring, but always less than serious. Until eventually the disconnect went beyond that sweet spot we had found, and whatever it was between us just didn’t scratch the itch anymore.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:29
i told you no.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:31
chill, chill, i know you got that new guy you’re macking on now

That was so long ago – it doesn’t bother me who he’s with, honestly. I just want him to be free and happy. Seeing him cooped up like this doesn’t feel right. I’m not sure he realizes just how much it’s affecting him.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:33
who still says “macking”? what decade do you live in

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:34 
do... do people not say that anymore

If I’m being honest with myself, I’m idealizing that life he led. For all my gripes, I got to eat at night and have kids ask for my autograph while he was hiding in abandoned buildings asking me to order him takeout because their funds ran out again. He was free, if you could call it that. He was happy, inasmuch as Katsuki has ever been happy.

I want some perfect version of what he was and what I am, all the good parts of both and the bad parts of neither. I don’t need any reminders that isn’t possible, I know that myself.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:36
besides they’re probably snooping around your place

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:36
this account is safe though right??

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:37
if you made it how i told you to

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:37
did you have to put Red Riot in your handle, though?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:37
they’ll just think i’m a fanboy!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:38
yeah some snot nosed 12 year old with his first hero crush

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:40
we’ve all been there...

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:42
just like you loved crimson riot so much you became his little tiny clone

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:43
hey if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

I could say worse, of course, but I won’t. After all, I know Katsuki’s real hero crush was on his shishou. Nightshade took him in and let him fight how he wanted, let him live how he wanted, so long as he kept collateral damage to a minimum. I thought he could never work all that aggression out of his system – thought it was a feature of Bakugou Katsuki and not a bug – and yet, after just a few months, I could sense the change in him. That was when we got to that sweet spot between us, back when I was still at UA. I learned a lot with him, and not all of it was from sparring. But then I became a Pro Hero, and I began to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. And Katsuki was still changing, I think, while I got locked in place by the very dream I’d always chased after.

That’s not to say I regret this; that’s not to say I regret any of this. I idealized this just like I idealized him, and nothing good ever comes of that.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:44
you didn’t join anything you fuckin ripoff! you just carbon copied the guy

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:45
i didn’t copy him, my genetics did!! also my quirk is *better* than his

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:45
yeah because he lived like a hundred years ago

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:47
oh my god katsuki he is alive and he is 56 he’s not from the Edo period

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:49
i hadn’t heard about him since i was a kid though

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:50
he was active until last year! he’s retired now

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:50
still kicking it at 55. nice

He doesn’t know just how much I know about Nightshade, of course. Katsuki never told me much about his “shishou,” didn’t even tell me her “hero” name. I had to steal glances at dusty file folders in the back of Fatgum’s office about the city’s myriad vigilante groups, leafing through a couple of extra files each time I was sent to retrieve one.

(I had lots of opportunities to look, because they’re in the bottom drawer of the file cabinet, and whenever Fatgum is charged up, which is 95% of the time, he can’t reach down there. He never says that’s why – too prideful, I guess. Everyone just kinda knows and helps him out anyway. Also, Amajiki keeps getting tentacle secretions all over the files and it's bad for preservation.)

Like most groups, hers only had a few lines of text. I don’t remember it all, but the highlights were that we knew absolutely nothing about Nightshade or her crew (identity and quirk unknown, exact number of associates unknown, etc.) except that one Bakugou Katsuki was part of said crew. They had a lot of data on him: a former subject of controversy at UA, it said. And erratic, but unlikely to be a threat to police or heroes unless cornered. They never cornered him to find out for sure.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:51
he could have kicked ass at 70 dude. he was still buff as fuck

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:51
he could kick my ass TODAY

I couldn’t deface the file or anything to hide his name. Or I should say, it wouldn’t have mattered even if I did. The exact same low-level clearance file is in at least one dusty filing cabinet in at least one dusty room in every hero agency office in the city. And crucially, even after the police busted up what was left of Nightshade's operation last month, no one bothered sending us a new file calling for Katsuki’s head, like I had feared. So I think you’re free to be yourself for now, Katsuki. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure you always are.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:53
ah, so your hero crush turned into a hero daddy kink

Actually, I take that back.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:54
no, i... that’s really your takeaway from this, katsuki?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:55
yeah you're like. dressing up as your hero to get his attention and all. “look at my cosplay of you, daddy”

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 14:55
i’m blocking you

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:55
you wouldn’t dare
Error: Message could not be sent.

You can no longer send messages to this person.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 14:56
EIJI YOU BASTARD
Error: Message could not be sent.

 


an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:21
so anyway

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:23
FINALLY you unblock me, dipshit

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:24
there was a villain!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:24
IT’S BEEN FOUR AND A HALF HOURS

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:24
NEXT TIME UNBLOCK ME BEFORE YOU GO OUT PUNCHING PEOPLE

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:25
sorry for putting the safety of the general public ahead of you! won’t happen again! promise!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:27
shit, he heard me shouting at my phone and saw your screen name

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:27
“OHMIGOD IS THAT RED RIOT??? FOR REAL???”

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:27
so if you get a message in all caps in the next few minutes don’t be surprised

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 19:27
also this is all your fault

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:28
YOU’RE THE ONE YELLING AT THE PHONE!!!

 


saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:34
is this Kirishima-san?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:36
depends who’s asking

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:36
haha, kidding, yeah it’s totally me

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:36
and you’re izuku?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:37
yeah!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:38
um... midoriya izuku?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:38
you remember me?!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:40
a little, but mainly i just noticed your handle and the fact it has your family name in it

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:40
katsuki only told me your given name, actually... something about protecting me from, and i quote, “a stalker girlfriend”

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:41
oh my god i’m going to go yell at him hold on

 


an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:57
katsuki told me about you

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 19:57
i think we met a few times at UA

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:58
yeah! i definitely remember making you some kinda wristbands in second year

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:58
i mean, how could i forget!! YOU’RE THE ONE AND ONLY RED RIOT!!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:58
YOU’VE BEEN SUCH AN AMAZING HERO, SO CALM AND COLLECTED UNDER PRESSURE

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:59
AND SUCH A CLASSIC STRAIGHTFORWARD DESIGN, IT’S REALLY INSPIRING TO ME AS AN ARTIST

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:59
OH AND I’VE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR CLIMB THROUGH THE HERO RANKINGS!!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 19:59
THAT RESCUE YOU DID LAST WEEK AGAINST THE STONE TOSSING VILLAIN WAS SUPER COOL!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:01
katsuki also told me this about you

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:01
ahah... too much, then?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:02
go ahead, bro! don’t let me stop you! having fans is kinda nice, honestly. and having friends is even better!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:03
are... are we friends?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:04
OF COURSE WE ARE

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:04
YEAH!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:04
YEEEEEEEEAAAHHH!!!

 


an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:31
so you’re a bit of a hero otaku, eh? who’s your fave

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:32
all might!! forever and ever

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:32
i know he’s a pretty generic choice, but...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:34
oh, really? even after what happened...?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:36
that was really hard on everyone, for sure.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:36
i think he did the right thing in the end, though

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:37
katsuki did need a swift kick in the teeth back then but i can't agree with how he got it

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:38
no, i meant... all might looking out for him afterwards

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:40
he did?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:41
all might set him up training with a friend of his! all might told me that himself

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:41
it took me weeks of trying just to catch him alone, what with all the media attention

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:43
midoriya... i don’t know what to tell you, man. that didn’t happen.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:45
he lied to me? no way... i mean... this is all might we’re talking about!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:47
he thought it was a white lie, maybe...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:48
‘katsuki’s fine, he just went to live on a farm in the countryside.’

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:48
but that time was really hard on him.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:48
all might... why...

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:50
now i wish i could have been there for him even more

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:50
he wouldn’t return my calls or messages... no one knew where he was...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:49
did you two not get along very well?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:50
i had a special talent for pissing him off. by accident. still do

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:51
well, lots of people do. don’t worry about it

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:53
you’re about 12 years too late for that, haha

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:54
that’s... not really a haha situation is it?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:54
this isn’t a funny haha it’s an awkward, nervous haha

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:55
i feel like i understand you a little better already

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 20:57
what do you mean?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:57
look...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:58
you’re not a bad guy.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 20:58
you wanna get in his pants, right?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 21:02
aha... what a change of topic...

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 21:03
what in the world have you two been talking about without me...

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 4 Oct 21:04
i mean... no?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 21:04
:)

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 21:05
that didn’t sound very convincing, so do you want some advice?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 21:06
be bold and honest with him

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 21:06
it’ll go a long way! trust me

 


name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 21:05
alright i know you’re talking to him, and he just turned the color of your hair dye... so...

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 21:05
1) what are you doing, and 2) will i regret it

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 4 Oct 21:08
one! not telling you! and two! probably!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 21:08
one day, shitty hair

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 4 Oct 21:09
one day i will end you

Chapter Text

“Midoriya, what are you doing?”

You were reading on the couch, having a quiet and peaceful evening. I was here to ruin that, heehee.

“Might have... mixed some of that vodka with some stuff.”

“Some stuff.” You put the book down, not even bothering to dog-ear a corner of a page. “Oh my god Midoriya you’re drunk.”

I plopped down on the sofa next to you, not caring how loud of a creaking noise it made in complaint, also not caring about the little bit of liquid courage I spilled onto the carpet from the overfull glass, it’s okay, that stuff washes out. “I’m not as drunk as you think, Kacchan.” My last two brain cells rubbed together, and I realized what I said. “Oh shit I called you Kacchan. Sorry, Kacchan.” I took a sip thoughtfully. “Probably gonna call you Kacchan more tonight, sorry in advance for all those too, Kacchan.”

You held the bridge of your nose like you had a headache, or didn’t sign up for this, or some variation on not liking anything that just happened, it was hard to tell what exact version this was.

“Why are you drunk, though? By yourself, too.”

I held the glass towards you so you could partake in the fun, but you instantly returned it to me. So nice. “Ah, no,” you said. You’re so nice Kacchan. Even when you’re mean you’re nice.

“Hee hee, more for me,” I said, thoughtfully taking another sip. They are all thoughtful, these sips. I don’t know what thoughts I’m having anymore, but that’s kinda the point here. My brain is a police station, yeah? And all of this alcohol is kinda like... prank 119 calls. Distracting all the little policemen from the crimes I’m about to commit.

“You’re really sexy, Kacchan.”

Hah! Like that one. The perfect crime. No one will ever know... heehee.

“And like... cute and stuff.”

I don’t know what emotion ended up on your face at that point, but it was pretty extreme. You pulled back, probably in surprise at how correct I was about how fucking nice you looked and stuff. “Like all those messages I sent you by accident before you moved in?” I said, my diction crisp and perfect and not slurred by all the vodka I had consumed in any way whatsoever, “I really meant what I said, Kacchan. I’ve really missed you all this time.” I put both hands on your thigh closest to me and put my face close to yours. Close enough to kiss you, which, maybe would be a good idea?

“You know, ever since we were... I looked up to you, Kacchan. Before I even knew what a crush was, I –”

Here you pushed me away, a hand on my forehead prying me away from my perch atop your leg. “Stupid shitty Deku! Go away and sober up,” you said. “Your breath already stinks. Go to bed.”

But the words were flowing. I was telling you all this stuff; all the things I kept corked up inside were flowing freely. I was being bold, such as it was. I wanted to go yell in the street how happy you made me almost as much as I wanted to sit down and write a letter to whoever invented vodka. They were my real hero tonight. Number one, All Might. Number two, Vodka Dude. Number three, Kacchan. Updated Midoriya hero rankings tonight, woooooooooooo!

I drained what was left in my glass, which was still quite a bit if I’m being honest... and honest is all I seemed capable of being at the moment. “Kacchan, I wanna... do something for you,” I said, fighting off your pushy hands that were threatening to do blasty things to me. “Something nice.” I slouched down on the floor in front of you, a hand suddenly on each of your thighs. They were so warm and the sensation instantly went to whatever brain cortex processes thigh-touching, which must have had a Gone Fishing! sign on the door because they felt surprisingly mushy. Actually, everything felt kinda mushy, including the carpet below my knees and your zipper and belt buckle against my fingertips, fumbling with however the fuck it latched together before you pulled me back by my hair.

Fucking Deku, are you serious?” you yelled, and my attention was finally pried away from your waistband and up into those red eyes, oh my god those eyes, and all I could reply was –

Call me Deku again, Kacchan.”

And then, thoughtfully, like I was taking a sip of those pretty red eyes themselves, “please.” I am positive I looked completely dignified, and not breathless and needy beneath you in the slightest. The number three hero deserves better than such things, but gosh even you must have needs and god dammit who am I to deny those?

You began to let go of my hair, and I reached a hand up to grab onto yours, make sure it still maintained its control over me like it ought to. “Keep it there,” I said, “make me yours... please...”

A hand reached out again – my hand – but this time not on your thighs but between them, on the soft space in the middle that I’d dreamt of for years. I felt something there, your uh... flashlight. In your pocket. I wanted to make it shine, but then, well... this may come as a shock to you, but I may have had a little bit too much to drink. Just a tad. A smidgen. Smidgin. I don’t know how you spell that sober, and definitely not with just a little tiny bit of alcohol in me. Just a little. But apparently that tiny little bit made me do something that my hero definitely didn’t deserve.

“Oh god dammit, Deku, all over my pants and... and the carpet too. I’ll go get a trash can, hold on, you idiot.”

 

Chapter Text

“So bright,” you said, rolling over in bed to shield your eyes from the daylight streaming through the window.

I sat down on the edge of the mattress, placing the glass of water I fetched next to the ugly All Might lamp. “Well yeah, it’s ten in the morning.”

“Ungh... my morning run...” you said, or at least I thought you said, with your voice muffled, buried face-down in that excessively fluffy pillow of yours. Fine, curly green lines splayed randomly across the pillowcase, beginning to organize themselves into orderly cascades as you lifted your head just slightly, only to scatter upon the cotton again as you plopped back down, rotated ninety degrees from before, leaving a disorderly bunch of hair covering half your face.

I carefully brushed the strands away with the backs of my fingers. “You can skip a day, right?”

“Don’t want to... weather’s nice.”

“Midoriya you can’t even open your eyes.”

You opened your eyes about sixty percent of the way to look at me briefly, then closed them again as you drew the sheets a little tighter and curled up into something resembling a fetal position.

“Very convincing.”

“Ngh.”

I brushed a few strands of hair away with my finger again, for no particular reason. “How’s your head feel?”

“Hurts.”

“I’m gonna let Mei know you’re not gonna be in today, alright?”

I picked up your phone but waited until your grunt of approval before swiping it open and opening the messenger app.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 09:41
hey hotstuff where are you?? class started 10 min ago

She beat me to the punch. This is unusual for responsible little Deku, I guess.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 10:12
he’s super hung over, lol

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 10:12
this is the other bastard

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 10:14
oh my god izuku

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 10:14
wait did you get him drunk

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 10:15
no he did that all on his own. i don’t need to get boys drunk to bang them

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 10:15
DID YOU BANG

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 10:16
fuck off, and take notes for him please

I placed the phone back on the nightstand.

“Did I... drink a lot?”

I snorted. “You seriously don’t remember?”

“I remember... pouring a strong drink. Multiple strong drinks. Oww...”

I nodded like I was trying to reassure a kindergartener attempting to learn addition. “Yes you did.”

You sighed, but it was the sigh of someone dealing with an immense headache and not the sigh of someone capable of putting two and two together at the moment. You attempted to open your eyes again, which was a more prolonged effort than last time. Baby steps. “You don’t have to stay here,” you groaned. “I’ll... be okay.”

“But I’m still waiting for you to remember what you did last night. I wanna be here to see the look on your face.”

Another delayed response, while the stripped gears tried to turn in your head again. “Wh-what did I do, then?”

“You don’t remember calling me Kacchan like a trillion times?”

“Oh, d-did I–”

“And you don’t remember writing a letter to ‘Vodka-sama’ that just said ‘thank you, I love you’ over and over again?”

Whether it was the mention of that illegible letter or the three little words that did it, I’ll never know, but some of the gears finally snapped into place in your backfiring little brain, and your train of thought lurched forward.

You sighed again, and this time it absolutely was the sigh of someone who had put two and two together, and realized it was still less than the number of bad decisions they made last night.

“Bakugou... I did say some weird stuff didn’t I...”

The gravelly tone of voice and your eyelids’ difficulty staying open made for a fairly pitiful-looking Deku, which was soon compounded by the heat spreading across your cheeks in embarrassment.

“Don’t worry about it, idiot.”

“You’re not upset that I said all those things, then?”

“Depends, dipshit. Did you mean all that stuff or was it just something your drunk brain came up with?”

“I...” You turned away, half-rolling back towards the wall, trying to tug sheets with you that didn’t move because I was sitting on them. “I’m–”

Boiling, boiling... something in me that was simmering suddenly boiled over. I pressed your right shoulder back into the mattress, turning you back towards me, an arm’s length away. “I don’t care if your head hurts right now you bastard! Look me in the eyes and tell me.”

There was a little bit of fear beneath that cloudy haze there, in those big fucking green eyes I could never understand – above the hints of tears at the bottom and the crust in the corners from a sleepy morning in bed. I didn’t care if I was pressing you too far, didn’t care that those droplets turned into full streams down the side of your cheeks. I would care again in a few more seconds, but not right now.

“Did you mean it, last night? A-and those stupid messages you sent me! All of this! Everything! What the fuck does it mean?”

You wiped at your eyes with your left hand, and... laughed?

Shitty bastard! Why are you laughing at me, now of all times?”

But the fear had melted away, and the tears made it look like you had just had the best laugh of your life, and those green eyes looked suddenly like something dangerous, something I could fall into. And as the smile on your lips parted, I sort of knew what you were going to say already – because of course, you were right. You were always right, and I hated that about you.

“Because you’re the only person in the world who could be given so much love and still not understand it.”

I fight. It’s who I am. I have always had to fight, to prove who I am and to earn my place in the world. I had to fight the people who trained me to fight when they turned their back on me, and when others took me in, I fought alongside them, occasionally against them, and then had to fight the loss of them when it all fell apart. All the while, I fought battles inside, against ideas of what it meant to be a hero or a vigilante, against the urge to stop. Against the urge to give up and let it all slip away into a normal life, no quirks, no more struggle, just bag groceries at the store until I die. I couldn’t let that happen, not ever. If I ever stopped fighting that, I felt like it would be the end of something, the end of the real Katsuki. I’m breaking, I’ve been breaking, but I don’t want to break altogether. I was positive all this time there was no one who could put me back together again.

But when you pulled my head down against the side of your neck, I didn’t offer you any resistance. I wondered then what the last time was I let you do something without fighting it. The last time I let anyone do anything. Have I ever not fought? No pushing or shoving, no resistance? Not even a word to the contrary to let me weasel out later if it ended up being too much trouble?

I knew when those messages came in. I knew when you rolled out the futon for me. I knew when you made the fucking coffee, I knew it, and it’s why I hated it, why I even hate the things I love. I knew when you played with my hair and when you threw up on the carpet. I didn’t know how not to fight it. I didn’t...

And now those fingers were in my hair again as I sobbed against your chest. I wanted to say more words, but I had broken, and words wouldn’t come anymore. They would come with time, I knew that, but you already deserved them a lifetime ago. Making you wait longer would be just another entry on my endless list of injustices.

You said nothing, which was exactly what you should have said, and I was thankful. Or maybe you just were tired of all the sound and motion – I almost forgot you were the one hung over and I was the one who was supposed to be taking care of you.

You, comforting someone else when you’re the one in need of comfort the most, and me, causing more trouble when I’ve already caused so much. That’s so like us. Isn’t that just so, so like us.

 

Chapter Text

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 14:32
ow...

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:35
just how much did you have

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 14:36
too much

My head still hurts from last night, but at least I can open my eyes now. Also, the nausea went away and I no longer feel like the world is spinning fast enough to fling me into outer space.

So, okay. Time to get up. Two-thirty in the afternoon is quite enough rest... I turned down the brightness on my phone, though, just in case.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:38
i thought you never drink!

She’s right. I got drunk once at a party last year when school started and I don’t think I’ve had two whole drinks since then. I don’t even like how they taste, no matter how much other stuff I mix it with.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 14:39
well you know what they say. it’s liquid courage

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:39
and what exactly were you trying to gain the courage for, you ridiculous pile of seaweed

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 14:40
that’s a secret :)

I stumbled into the bathroom to wash my face, and only after wiping the water away did I notice your pants hung out to dry across the shower rod, just like they had been almost three weeks ago, on the night you showed up in the pouring rain. It was kind of nostalgic.

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:41
pfft, like it’s not obvious

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:42
you’re tryna get the blasty booty

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:42
that angry ass

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:42
problematic posterior

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:43
detonating derriere

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 14:43
mei i am waiting eagerly for you to run out of these so my phone stops vibrating

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:44
not gonna happen

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:46
OOH, troublesome tushie

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 14:46
i think you’re drying up here

side to side side side t @pressurebuilding 14 Oct 14:47
not as much as you, go drink some water already

Ugh, no, Kacchan forced so many glasses of water into me over the past four hours I think I might have water intoxication now. That wasn't what I needed. Something else... I wanted... Coffee. Suddenly I wanted coffee, for the first time in ages, but after shuffling into the kitchen I saw you there, already making some.

“Oh... I was...” I said, trying to sound as normal as possible. “Coffee.” I wasn't doing a very good job.

“Well now you don’t have to. This is for you, dumbass. How do you take it?”

Pleading and on my knees. “With milk and sugar... please.”

I sat my butt in one of the kitchen chairs and watched you finish making the coffee. It wasn’t so long ago you were sitting here, impatient, watching me fumble around trying to do the same for you. I guess we really are different, because I could sit here all day and I think my back would get tired of this chair before my eyes or brain ever got tired of watching you work.

“Bam,” you said, placing the mug on the table gently. “One hangover cure.”

“That’s why you were making it for me?”

“Yeah, since I heard you get up.”

I picked up the mug to blow on the brown liquid inside. “Very thoughtful of you,” I said, without breaking eye contact.

The little bit of red on your cheeks was as cute as it was expected, at this point. “I-it’s nothing,” you said, turning around to finish cleaning up. Yeah, sure Kacchan.

“So anyway,” you said, changing the topic inexpertly, “I’m kinda tired of only having one set of clothes. I’ll give you the money, so could you go buy some for me?”

Of course I agreed to do it. But I had to smile to myself. First your toothbrush is in the cup next to mine, then you make us dinner (how the hell did you learn to cook, anyway?), and now you wanna start keeping extra clothes here. What’s left under the heading of moving in together? Monogrammed towels? Your name on the lease?

How far was this going to go without either of us mentioning the elephant in the room? I don’t know what kind of courage built up in me then. I knew I shouldn’t say it, because something could change drastically, but... the way you were acting earlier this morning, and now... I saw how different you could be, and maybe that spurred me on too.

“Bakugou... you’re not just laying low anymore, are you? You’re here to stay?”

The tap stopped running; your head fell and shoulders slumped.

Your words were very quiet. “It’s not like I have anywhere else to go.”

“Your parents?”

When that didn’t produce any response, I set the coffee down on the table and went over to put a hand on your shoulder , to try and pull you out of whatever sad reverie you had gotten lost in.

“If you don’t want me here, then–”

“Of course I want you here.” I took my hand from your shoulder and leaned back on the counter, staring up at the motionless ceiling fan while being careful not to knock over the dishes on the drying rack behind me. “You’re just kinda... selfish, you know?”

“Yeah.”

“I don’t mean you living here, though. I don’t mind that at all.”

That finally got your red eyes to lift up for a moment, and I saw the weight that showed on your face in these kinds of moments, when you let me actually see you as you really are. This is what you never did when we were younger. This is exactly what you never did, and this is why things are different now. Maybe you’re still a bastard like Mei says, but there are little chinks in your bastard armor now, and after studying you for so many years, I know the ways around them. I am getting through to you. Things really are getting better, little by little. It’s exhilarating to be able to talk to you like I’ve always wanted to.

“What do you mean, then?”

“Coming back into my life like nothing ever happened... that’s what I mean.”

The danger, of course, in finally reaching you is that I need to keep these moments under control, so I don’t overwhelm you with the pent-up reservoir of thoughts and feelings and moments of bitter resentment and... and love. All the feelings that I don’t want to burden you with when you already look like you’re carrying so much, because then I won’t be helping you, I’ll just be hurting more. There’s already been too much hurt here, already so much in those eyes, I couldn’t... I just couldn’t...

But my chest began to draw more and more air, and I could feel something kept inside for so long I’d nearly forgotten it start to free itself.

Just like I hadn’t wanted it to.

“Midoriya are... are you crying?” Your brows were furrowed up in the center, and your hand reached out for me, but the rest I couldn’t see. It was too blurry – blurry because the answer was yes.

Of course I’m crying over you. Do you know how many nights I cried over you? How long it took to forget how to feel this way after you abandoned me, abandoned everything and everyone who cared about you? And then you just fall back into my life like nothing ever happened. Selfish. Selfish Kacchan.

“You changed my life once and you never took responsibility for it!” I wiped away big gobs of tears and snot, not caring where they went anymore. “So if you stay, stay for good! Don’t run away again... Kacchan...”

“Run away... you idiot, you hated me back then... I thought you’d be happy!”

“You really think I’d ever be happy without you?!”

By now I was clinging onto your shirt, your shirt that was really my shirt on your shoulders, fingers twisting into our fabric. I saw something close to fear in your eyes, beneath the beginnings of those teardrops – not because you were scared of me, I think, but because you were scared of those decisions you made four years ago.

At first I thought you were scared I would make you confront the past, but that actually wasn’t it – no, I think it was the opposite. You were scared I would let you get away with it scot-free, that I would welcome you into whatever arrangement you wanted without a fight, that my desire to keep you next to me and in my life would mean I went soft on you. You were scared that I wouldn’t hold you accountable, and that you’d end up trampling all over me again. Those were the beginnings of the same mistakes we were making back then, weeks ago, when we first fought.

You wanted a knot unraveled, but didn’t know how to untie it anymore, didn’t know which end to tug on to make the whole thing come loose again. And yet you were surprised, as I looked into your eyes – surprised that you were getting your way for once, and that I was willing to cut this knot for us... if I could.

“Idiot... don’t say things like that.”

“I don’t like lying to you.”

Your brow relaxed and nostrils flared, and you put your hands on mine to pull them off, but gently. There was no romantic pause where our hands stayed connected for a moment, nothing like a scene from a movie or a novel, but I felt something flow between us anyway.

“You changed, too, you know.”

I felt my muscles tense up involuntarily at the unexpected response. “Wh-what do you mean? I didn’t lie to you back then, either...”

You turned back to the sink to occupy your hands with washing the small pile of bowls and silverware at the bottom. “Are you gonna drink that coffee I made you, or what?”

Honestly, I had forgotten it entirely. “Oh!” I said, taking the opportunity to wipe away my drying tears before retrieving it from the table and returning to your side.

“Nah, you never did lie,” you said over the sound of running water. “But you didn’t tell the truth, either.”

“I was...”

“Scared?”

I took a sip of coffee. “Yeah.” It was more sweet than I expected.

With your eyes on the glass in your right hand, held underneath the tap, you shook the excess water off your left and held it out towards me, letting off a few harmless little blasts. It was the first time I’d seen you use your quirk at all since you came back. In middle school, you’d set off an explosion after every other sentence, so long as a teacher wasn’t around to stop you, but now you hardly ever used it to express yourself.

“But it wasn’t this you were scared of at all, was it? You were scared...” The explosions stopped, and the palm with smoke still dissipating from its surface returned to the sink to place the last of the glasses onto the drying rack and turn the tap off. “...You were scared they would stop one day, instead.”

Was this the first time you ever tried bothering to figure me out? I didn’t want to cry again, to saddle you with that, so I just exhaled, and gave you the most tender expression I could come up with.

“That’s it,” I said. “That’s exactly it.”

“So why weren’t you scared, anyway?”

“Why would I be?”

“Everyone else was.”

“I’m not everybody else.” The reply came out before I knew what words I was saying, but unlike last time we stood here, in just this sort of situation, it was the exact correct words that came instead of the wrong ones.

“Yeah you sure aren’t,” you said. And I couldn’t help but smile a little at that.

 


saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 15:36
i probably ought to thank you, kirishima

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 14 Oct 15:37
i was really scared at first, but being bold with him is paying off

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 14 Oct 15:39
woah, seriously?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 14 Oct 15:39
but i NEVER give good advice!

Chapter Text

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1046.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:47
what do you think of this one

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:47
are you kidding? that pattern is awful

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:48
aw i thought it was cute

Maybe on you it would be cute, I thought as I held the phone at arm’s length above my head, looking at your hands holding a vibrant pair of plaid slacks. They were tasteful, maybe outright fashionable if you squint. They were also absolutely disgusting. In fact, they reminded me of the technicolor addition you made to my only pair of pants earlier in the week, kneeling on the very spot where I now had the half-rolled-up futon and a couch throw pillow propped up against the edge of the armrest. It is still not comfortable. Nothing is ever comfortable here, god dammit.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:48
it needs to be darker, dumbass

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:48
ok!

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1050.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:50
well?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:51
red pants? really?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:51
they’re burgundy! and they kinda match your eyes

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:51
not touching that comment

After weeks alternating between wearing your pajamas and tee shirts – all of them a size too small, as it turns out – and wearing ragged the set of clothes I had when I came here, you’re finally out doing the shopping I asked you to do. Thanks, I guess.

But I can’t leave the apartment. Of course not. That’s why you’re doing it for me. You want me to use you so badly? Fine. Go be of use.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:53
can’t you find anything darker

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:54
like completely black

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:54
that’s ideal

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:55
i hope you know this conversation physically hurts me

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:55
and here i thought you’d enjoy that kind of thing

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:56
ohgodpleasedon’tsaythattomeinpublic

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:56
prude.

I don’t remember which of us came up with the “shop via chat” idea first. I think it was you – I can send you pictures of things to see if you’d like them! And now I’m being bombarded with photos of jeans and t-shirts and cargo pants. It’s so elegant, such a clever idea. Over the course of our lives, you have come up with lots of very good ideas. And my job... well, it’s my job to ruin them. Since you like that kind of thing, apparently.

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1057.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:57
here, pure black!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:57
like your soul!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:58
my soul is fucking delightful, shitstain

It’s refreshing, what we’re doing right now. Sorta feels like we’ve cut through all the excess caution and beating around the bush of the last few weeks and we can talk to each other like we always did – me being an ass and you being insolent to the point of outright immunity in response.

But I want to know how far this uppity Deku can go before he cracks, and the one that was kneeling at my feet last week comes out to play again. That Deku seemed like fun.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:59
okay now go try them on for me

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 10:59
why would i try them on, we’re not even the same size

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 10:59
just wanna see how they look on someone, and you’re the only one there

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:00
fine

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1103.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:03
they’re a little loose on me, but what do you think

I think it looks like the worst mirror selfie I’ve ever seen, that’s what I think. Do your plus-ultra aesthetic sensibilities not translate into this medium, or are you just trying to get this over with as quickly as possible? Or both, maybe?

The pants... well, they’re black cargo pants. They look a lot like the black jeans you picked out earlier, and there’s absolutely no reason I would ever need to see a picture of them, honestly. I also don’t need to see another picture, but I just can’t help it.

I mean, uh... it would be nice to see it. In... in the sense of fashion. For the... the sake of thoroughness.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:03
turn around and take another

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:04
show you... my butt...?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:04
the backside of the PANTS, dumbass, we are not shopping for butts here

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:05
i’m starting to doubt that

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:05
ok midoriya less talking and more pictures please

I don’t need to go shopping for butts when I already own your ass, I thought.

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1106.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:06
well?

The dressing room had surprisingly good lighting, so even with the dark fabric and your lousy camera skills (but nice angle...) I could still see the nice curves beneath the black fabric, and my breath caught ever so slightly in my throat.

Oh god I’m a rich man, I thought, having all that to myself.

Wait.

I laid the phone on my chest for just a moment, letting out a sigh and then a frown at the stain on the ceiling I had become so very familiar with in moments like this over the last few weeks. Maybe there’s no rationalizing this anymore. Maybe you’re just hot. Maybe I can admit that.

Maybe I can admit you’ve been my type ever since I was old enough to have a type. And maybe I can admit I was taken aback when you opened the door that night and let me in from the rain, and the light filtered through your hair, and I realized you were still just my type, and you looked so fucking good that I just wanted to pounce on you, but fuck, that would have been the worst possible thing to do at the moment, and –

Okay, maybe that’s a little too much to admit.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:08
it looks good.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:08
so get that pair too

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:10
so that’s... 3 shirts, 2 pairs pants, some socks and underwear

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:10
we’re done then, right?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:10
but you haven’t tried anything on for yourself

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:11
this... this was a shopping trip for you though

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:11
yeah but you should get something too.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:11
and send me pictures when you try it on.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:12
well since it’s 11:11...

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:12
haha too late

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:12
hush or i won’t try anything on

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:13
oh you will

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:14
just one thing. come on

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1116.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:16
is this one good?

I was waiting for a picture of a pair of jeans, or a scarf, or a colorful dress shirt paired with a t-shirt that said “t-shirt” on it. Then I’d have to decide whether to make you pick something juicier or just deal with it.

But the picture I received was... already juicy.

Lace panties? I never expected you to... holy shit... the light gossamer fabric... the little floral swirls... you really took this seriously. The photo has two of your fingers inside the waistband, and I can just make out the way you’ll look underneath that material. In short, it leaves so very little to the imagination, which is good, because I ain’t the creative type like you are.

Gotta play it cool, though, even if I did just start playing with myself.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:16
that’s...

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:16
...so lovely. now hurry up and put it on

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:18
snuck them in under the other pairs of pants i already tried on

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:18
but the dressing room attendant saw me acting funny and she might be suspicious now

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:18
don’t chicken out now, midoriya

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1120.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:20
i can’t believe i’m doing this

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:20
you didn’t even need any prompting

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:21
just naturally want to be a slut for me now, huh?

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_171019_1121.jpg

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:21
so that’s a yes

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:21
guess so...

You always did keep fit, and I guess those morning runs paid off, because the way the pair of undies sat on the flat, toned skin just above your waist (and the little green happy trail poking out just above the waistband) was perfectly complemented by how nicely your small but curvy butt filled out the other side. Even in the crappy lighting, I could see the subtle gradations of your skin tone beneath the airy mesh of the panties, and oh god it was everything I hoped for and more when I came up with this idea, this perversion of your idea that you’re enjoying so much.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:22
does it make you feel good?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:22
the underwear? or doing this for you?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:23
ooh, good question. now you gotta tell me both.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:23
y-yeah it feels nice.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:23
which part?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:23
nnnnn

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:24
both

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:24
maybe you should hurry up and buy it, then?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:25
you know, before the attendant comes knocking at the door asking what’s taking so long

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:25
i um... i wasn’t going to, but...

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:26
do it.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:26
i’ll make sure you find a use for them.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:26
yessir

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:27
heh. i like this side of you.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:31
by the way, you want katsudon tonight?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 17 Oct 11:33
ahah, sure.

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 17 Oct 11:34
alright. you earned it.

 

Chapter Text

“Your bentos have been looking better.”

Mei was staring longingly down at my rice, mushrooms, French-cut carrot slices, small salad, and tiny croquettes. No, longingly wasn’t the word. Hungrily.

I pulled the container slightly away from her drooling gaze. “Ahah, that’s because I haven’t been making them myself anymore.”

She sighed and slumped down even further against the wall of the conference room. Our residence here on lunch breaks has become a kind of internship tradition, since apparently no one ever uses this room.

“Why are the good ones either taken, gay, or on the run from the law?” she sighed.

“Or all three?”

“That’s the joke, Izuku.”

I laughed a little, half-forced, and after that nothing was said for a while. That isn’t the kind of thing we worry about anymore. The mark of a good friendship, sometimes, is the ability to be silent around one another without feeling awkward, and, after knowing each other for almost five years now, I like to think we’ve gotten close enough not to worry about that kind of thing.

The fact that Mei is so seldom silent, though, well... that’s another matter entirely.

We were almost through with lunch before she pulled out a casual “Oh right, I’ve been meaning to ask you!”

“Hm?” I intoned, mouth full of vegetables.

“I know you’ve been busy with other stuff, but Halloween is a week from tomorrow.”

I gulped down the bite awkwardly. I had completely forgotten about Halloween, even though Mei and I had so much fun at the university’s costume party last year. We even placed second in the Best Couple competition – even though we weren’t a couple. Should have been first, but it’s pretty hard to beat a guy with a gigantification quirk dressed up in a ten-story-high Godzilla costume while his firebreathing girlfriend sits in his mouth. That’s gonna win pretty much any costume contest anywhere, actually.

There were plenty of thrown-together ghouls and mummies and yokai costumes, and those are fun enough, but we’re hero systems students and typically we’re supposed to pull out all the stops for the yearly Halloween party. Apparently it’s become something of a department tradition.

“Do you still wanna go?” Mei asked, trying to bring me back to reality, “And if so, as what?”

“I’m gonna go!” I said. “Just... I don’t think it’s going to be my best work this year. Not sure I have the time to dedicate to something as bold as last time.”

“What do you mean, I did all the work!”

She wasn’t wrong about that – after all, she did design her entire suit of armor as well as my own metal glove, but I still had to do my own costume and wig styling. It was a lot of work, being the Elric brothers, but sometimes a Halloween cosplay needs to go all the way. And there was no one better at going full bore than Mei.

“What are you doing this time? Have you decided?”

“Power Loader isn’t letting me sneak into the UA lab this year,” she said, staring up at the ceiling. “Something about Collateral Damage. I don’t even know any teacher named that. Must be a new hire.”

“Mei, I don’t think that’s a hero name. I think he means you destroy things.”

“No way! I’ve gotten way better about that! Haven’t caused any explosions in weeks!”

I put the lid back on my lunch, but no sooner than I did, Mei was practically on top of me, a terrible gleam in her eyes, and I yelped from the sudden intrusion.

“Explosions!! Izuku! You can do a costume with him!”

With Kacchan? Us? “He can’t go out of the apartment, Mei...” I said, my voice getting quieter with the sensitive topic, in contrast to Mei’s, which had climbed with excitement. “And I’d never be able to convince him to do it anyway.”

She leaned even farther inward, until I was no longer certain how she failed to topple over on top of me altogether. Is this what getting pinned against the wall by a boy feels like? “But this is the one night of the year that people can go out with masks and disguises on and no one will think it’s weird... come on, bring him out!”

It’s still kinda risky, I thought. But damn, she has a point. You’ve gotta be tired of that place by now.

“Ya know, it just might be worth trying.” My mind was already racing with possibilities – what costume could you wear? Well, anything I could design at home on relatively short notice. So no wigs or specialty merchandise, but I do have a sewing machine. Fabric and makeup/face paint is easily enough acquired... Something that could hide your face... A mask? Extensive, textured face paint? Some kinda... snout? And what would be cool enough to be a hit at the party without taking three weeks to make, and without compromising your identity?

I had gotten lost enough in thought that I completely forgot Mei was still directly next to my face, and I startled back to reality yet again.

“W-what?”

“You’re sorta cute when you’re lost in thought.”

No way.” That was my least attractive trait, and that’s saying something.

“Aw, come on, be positive about yourself.”

“Why start now?”

“Dammit, Izuku...”

I checked my phone and saw our lunch break ended in two minutes, and so we hurriedly packed up, dusted ourselves off, and snaked our way back down the hallways to the research wing.

“You know, if you’re not sure how to get him to agree to this, you should ask his buddy Kirishima!”

“Ah yeah, that’s a good idea,” I said. Then, a few seconds later, “Wait, how do you even know that name?”

“W-well I wanted to... get another perspective on the situation!”

“Is that so.”

Her cheeks were a rosy pink that matched her hair. “And I may have gotten his screen name from Bakugou a few nights back...”

“Was that before or after he called you a ‘stalker girlfriend’?”

The blush vanished and was replaced by indignation. “He called me a what?”

Her phone was already in her hand, messenger app open, trying to keep up with her furious typing pace. Sorry Kacchan.

 


an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:06
Halloween? i don’t think katsuki has ever had the time for that

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:06
or the chance... or the inclination... or the personality

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:07
i’m scared he might frighten some small children and get reported actually

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:09
oh i didn’t mean going out in the neighborhood here!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:09
there’s a yearly party at the university, so it’s mostly undergrads, maybe a few grad students and some staff. 18+

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:09
he’s gotta be tired of being cooped up here, right

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:10
between you and me? oh god yes he hates it

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:10
maybe... try bringing it up with that point first, before you even mention Halloween

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:10
“hey there’s a chance coming up to get you out of the apartment for the night safely... would you be interested?”

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:10
ah so he sinks his teeth into that idea first

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:11
yeah! because he... won’t want to play dress up. that’s how he’ll see it.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:11
he’s smart. he’ll know there’s a catch. so there’s no point in acting like there isn’t one

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:11
but that will at least get him thinking about the pros rather than the cons

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:11
so it would be a good idea then?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:11
of course! as long as you do it carefully!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:12
you’ve got a good heart, midoriya. you’re doing good things for him.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:12
and i can’t do anything directly, so i really appreciate it.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:12
ah, no no! i’m... it’s not like that

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:13
it’s exactly like that!!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:13
it feels like selfishness

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:13
how in the world do you see it like that

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:14
i keep doing what i want to do for myself without any regard for him, so if he doesn’t want to do it...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:14
if you only ever do what katsuki says he wants to do

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:14
you’re never going to end up doing anything

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:15
you grew up knowing him, you should know how to read between the lines a little bit

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:15
he would never agree to do anything he genuinely doesn’t like.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:15
or to be around anyone he doesn’t like.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:16
you’re... you’re right.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:16
but he’s a stick in the mud when left to his own devices... needs some cajoling now and then

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:16
think you’re up to that task, midoriya?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:16
i have... probably cajoled before

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:17
that’s the spirit!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:17
listen. he would never say it, because he’s... katsuki.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:17
but you put a roof over his head and fed him and kept him safe, even though it’s dangerous

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:17
that’s plus ultra heroism, midoriya

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:18
no please,

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:18
i mean it!!! and he thinks so too, even if he would never admit it in a million years

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:19
but he’s kind of... un-tensing right now. getting back to his old self.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:19
that’s the real katsuki i wanted to see again

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:19
the real katsuki?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:20
ah, look at me going off into the weeds again

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:20
he always seemed so free, being out there doing whatever he wanted

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:21
like that’s sort of the real heroism in a way... just fighting however you want, unrestricted

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:21
you’re the first Real Hero i’ve ever heard say something like that

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:22
it’s not the majority opinion, and not something we could ever say publicly

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:22
but a lot of us envy vigilantes in a weird way

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:22
they’re messy and screw shit up and are sometimes dangerous but like...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:22
that’s how heroing is supposed to be, to me at least. saving people and righting wrongs

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:22
not doing paperwork and being all polished for the media 24/7

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:24
can i send you a picture you can never tell anyone about?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:24
oh wow... the pressure. hero secrets??

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:24
but yes! i’ll keep it to myself. promise

an indifferent penguin sent a file: img_280617_2241.jpg

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:25
is that... bakugou? fighting??

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:25
it’s the only time i was ever able to watch him fight

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:26
he was so fluid and free... and if you look closely you can just barely see the grin on his face through the dark

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:26
so his vigilante costume was all in black too...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:27
that’s just street clothes! vigilantes don’t always have their own outfits

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:27
he had some kind of sweat collection gauntlets later on, but back then it was simpler

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:28
ooh yeah like he had at UA

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:28
exactly! that photo’s from... june of ‘17 i think, so less than a year after UA

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:29
he just had a black eye mask and that orange blast thing behind his head

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:29
said he always lost that in battles though

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:30
kirishima...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:30
hm?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:31
well first i want to say thank you for showing me this and trusting me with it

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:31
it’s no problem! i felt like you of all people should get to see it

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:31
but secondly... i know what costume i wanna try to get him to wear

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:31
oh really... what is it?

saving myself for sonicfox sent a file: img_src075823325-hi-res.png

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:32
NO WAY

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:32
IF YOU CAN GET HIM TO WEAR THAT

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:32
I WILL LAUGH MY HEAD OFF

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:32
it’s got the part behind his head and everything!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:32
aaaaahahaha you fucking rock izuku

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:33
izuku...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:33
too much?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:33
no, it’s nice... Eijirou?

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:34
katsuki just calls me eiji! but use whatever you want

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 23 Oct 17:34
eiji, then!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 23 Oct 17:35
nice!! nice!!

 


 

I slept on the idea I had, and the conversation I had with Kir– with Eiji, and on everything else I’d seen and thought about and heard over the past few days. When I opened my eyes the next morning, though, I ended up staring at the pair of white lacy underwear in the laundry bin across the room, and then I thought about all the black pants and shirts I got for you, and then finally about that jet-black outfit you were wearing in the fight, and the wide-eyed smile on your face, and when that led to nothing else, I simply kept thinking about you, happy, soaring through the air.

I pulled out my phone and scrolled up in my chat with Eiji until I saw it there again. Every muscle tensed, a small blast extending out from one hand trailing behind you, and then that broad smile like a devil on top of someone’s shoulder and yet, in some strange way, angelic as well. It would be enough to make me fall in love, if I hadn’t done that already.

This picture is from so long ago. And yet, me falling in love with you is something even older, something from so long ago, it almost feels like it never happened – like there was never a point in my life when I wasn’t in love with you.

Childhood friendships are not, as a rule, very deep emotionally. You were, before you were anything else, the kid up the street who was about the same age as me and whose mom was friends with my mom. As a result, we saw each other a lot. We rode bikes, ran around the park playing heroes and villains (neither of us wanted to be the villain), and splashed around in the stream across the street from your house. In terms of your quirk and your budding skill at using it effectively, you were the model hero. And I was all too happy to be like all the others, and praise you for it, and put you on the pedestal you so desperately wanted to be placed upon.

I never got the chance to climb up there with you, as luck and genetics would have it. But it wasn’t entirely fate – the worldview you developed didn’t have room for anyone else but you in it. You drank in all that praise from the adults, beat up the other kids, and refused to accept any other version of the world. Eventually you did a little too much of the latter, and the praise dried up, and without anyone there by your side, you fell apart.

I know you fell apart. It’s a matter of pride for you not to acknowledge this, I get it. You’re a proud man, and I know better than most how to let you have that to yourself.

What I’m trying to say is that I have no freaking clue how to get you to wear a Pokémon costume.

It’s so stupid. This is so stupid. Why did I ever have this idea. I must be the dumbest idiot in the whole world, trying to get someone like you to agree to something like this.

And here I am, laying in bed, worrying about you again. I laughed a grim little chuckle to myself at that realization. Right about when this picture was taken, I was probably sitting at my desk in my room at home, finishing up some math homework or something before turning in for the night, which is when I would do my best not to think about you. Once I got started worrying over you, I wouldn’t be able to stop, and I’ve never functioned well without sleep. The first few weeks, the first few months since you vanished, were hardest. I turned in such sloppy work, it’s a wonder I even passed my classes.

But someone was taking care of you out there, Kacchan, even if no one else was. I don’t know her, but I can see her handiwork – you’re a little different now, softer around the edges but just as prickly at the core. And just as unpredictable as ever. So maybe you’ll be a little softer towards this idea, too.

Typhlosion

You were laying on the couch, staring at some mindless game on your phone once I had gotten up and tossed some clothes on. “Bakugou? Can I ask you something?”

“Hm?” you hummed, still lost in your phone. Then, seeing me squeeze in at the end of the couch below your feet, you put the phone down. “Fuck. That kind of question.”

“I-it’s nothing that serious!” I said. “Mei and I were talking, and –”

“Not a great start, but go on.”

“And we figured out a way for you to get a few hours outside the apartment without having to worry about people recognizing you! Sound good?”

You sat up a little at the first sentence, encouragingly, but now sighed and laid your head back onto the armrest. “And?”

“W-well it’s Halloween, so you’d have to wear a costume...”

“God dammit, Midoriya,” you said, clutching at the bridge of your nose.

I pulled up the Typhlosion picture on my phone. “I thought of one you might like, and-”

“No.”

“Ah, b-but this one would obscure most of your face,” I said, leaning forward on the couch and holding the phone out for you to see. “So it would be safe to wear outside, and-”

I had held the phone up expecting more hostility, but the change that came over you when you saw the picture was in a different direction. You muscles un-tensed, shoulders dropped, and I could feel where your feet were previously pressing against my thigh, they now gave way.

“Is that... a...?” You asked, or began to ask.

“It’s a... pokémon. It can make explosions like you.”

You leaned your head back on the armrest again, eyes closed. “So are you gonna go buy it at a store or something? Here, I can give you some money for it.”

I knew how to translate that response from Kacchan-ese. It meant yes. “I don’t know if they sell one, but... I’m a design student. I have a sewing machine and a glue gun and lots more, so I can make it for you myself.”

“If that’s how you want to spend your time,” you said, “then knock yourself out.”

They were the same words you had said when you were out back, trimming the rosebush, when I sat and silently watched you work at the branches. Back then, though, the pleased little smile now visible was absent from your lips. It's a nice addition, Kacchan, I thought. Now I just gotta keep it there.

 


 

This time, it was you who sat and watched me work.

First I started at the kitchen table, a steadier surface for the sewing machine and the only proper seating in the entire apartment. The bulk of the costume came together pretty quickly – there were only two fabric colors, and the fat bulk at Typhlosion’s bottom half meant I didn’t even have to take any measurements, after already knowing your waist size from our little... excursion earlier in the week.

And all the while, I kept catching you looking up from your perch atop the sofa, checking in on me as I worked, measured, cut, and did everything else necessary to put it all together. Some things were kind of haphazardly planned – a brace behind the neck to keep the fabric arcing outwards, some puffy yellow gloves I bought to act as paws – and finally, the long snout, hiding everything but your eyes.

After two days of on-again, off-again work after class, the only piece left to make was the radiating explosion that would attach to the brace behind your head, through the fabric, and I chose to settle in on the living room floor as I cut and painted everything. As usual, you watched me work, although now with more attention than inattention, your glances merely taken instead of stolen.

“Eiji told you, huh?”

I looked up from mixing a small puddle of yellow paint while simultaneously trying to keep All Might from sticking his nose into it. “Yeah.”

“Shoulda figured it out when you first showed it to me.”

With steady breathing, I streaked out line after line of paint along the surface of the piece, careful to maintain even coverage throughout. I must have been concentrating on this for some while, though, because when I next realized you were staring at me, I also realized you were smiling a little as you looked down at me work.

“Wh-what?” I stammered.

“Your tongue sticks out when you’re concentrating,” you said, gesturing to the cat preening in the kitchen. “Like his when he’s hunting down a bug.”

I felt my face grow a little flush, and gave a half-smile, but said nothing.

“Dork,” you whispered, almost inaudible.

My tongue probably stuck out a lot more as I went on, because no more words were said between us for a long time. I would have thought it would be unnerving, knowing your eyes were on me the whole time, but instead it felt comfortable somehow. The real hero aesthetic, I kept thinking to myself, embodied in a last-minute homemade Halloween costume. All of those books stacked up on the floor, accumulated due to schoolwork or personal interest or both, had pages and pages of All Might and Endeavor, their predecessors – all of the great names in heroing history and the design agencies that supported them. There were droll articles from artists and academics about what it meant to embody the heroic aesthetic, how costume design intersected with changes in pop culture and architecture, philosophy, changed from country to country.

None of them said your best friend and crush who once fell off the roof behind your apartment might actually be the real hero aesthetic. Not surprising, really - most failed to mention vigilantes at all, or maybe the index might note a single passing reference on page 148, but never would any establishment figure dare hold up vigilantes as the real heroes. Not even if the only hero I know believes it... not even if I believe it too.

That’s what I was trying to communicate to you while you sat looking on, even if I didn’t realize it. I was trying to say I believe in you, Kacchan. To say that you’re more than a fugitive, more than a refugee on my couch, more than my crush or a guy in a pokémon costume. I don’t know what that “more” means just yet, but we’ll get there one day. You’ll keep watching me, and I’ll keep watching you, and we’ll get there. I don’t mind if it’s hard work, if we need to hunt it down like a stray cricket that snuck in through the back door - I’ll do it. I'll just have my tongue out.

Chapter Text

“Izuku! Other person whose identity I definitely don’t know! Nice to see you.”

After twenty excruciating minutes waddling down the sidewalk in this ridiculous costume, we finally made it to campus, only to be greeted by Mei (“no please! use my given name!”), who definitely was exactly the same in real life as I had come to expect from her messages – in other words, exactly as skilled at getting under my skin.

“I have a name, you know.”

“Nope! Not tonight! You are our Mystery Guest!” She leaned in close to me, hands waving spirit fingers into the damp evening air. “Ooooooh, spooky!”

I pushed her away gently but insistently with a paw to the forehead.

“Aw, come on. Where’s your Halloween spirit?” she said.

“Left it at home.” I adjusted the weird yellow snout sitting in front of my face. “Also what are you supposed to be, anyway?”

Mei stroked her especially large chin. “I’m Thanos! From the... you know, the Marvel movies...”

“Right,” I said, “I knew that.” I remembered seeing it pirated one night on shishou’s laptop for squad movie night, but I usually fell asleep during those. Also from what I knew of Hatsume Mei, I didn’t think she was purple and had a giant chin that looked like a cheese grater. It’s weird meeting someone for the first time on Halloween.

You began to rummage in the shopping bag you brought. “Well if you two are dressed up, then it’s time for my costume.”

“You’re dressing up too?” I asked, suddenly nervous.

“I’m wearing it,” you said, producing a hat with a hand-drawn emblem from the bag, as well as a bright yellow utility belt with pokéballs attached at the hip. “I am... your trainer!”

Hah, I must have misheard that. Could have sworn you said... wait. You really said that.

“What.”

“Like a pokémon trainer. The kids that do battle with the pok–”

“Yes I know what a pokémon trainer is, I am asking why the fuck you’re my trainer.”

“I don’t see any other pokémon around here.”

Aaaaand that shit-eating smirk crossed your face yet again, for what must have been the twentieth time in the last week. You must have thought you looked so angelic and innocent, but I know the truth about you, Deku. You’re a scheming little shit. And you’re anything but innocent, you goddamn bastard, you played me like a fiddle.

“Ohhhh, he got you good,” Mei said.

I ignored her, as usual, focusing my attention on the far too happy trainer skipping into the evening air in front of us.

“Normally,” I said, “people tell other people when they’re part of a group costume.”

You glanced back as you ran ahead, little twists at the corners of both your mouth and your eyes. “But we’re not normal, Kacchan.”

“Well you’re not, that’s for sure.” I tilted my head back, trying to look down my nose at you but only succeeding at losing your puffy little face behind the giant foam snout strapped across the bridge of my nose, and when I angled you back into sight you were turning away, laughing.

The heat rising to my face was expected, but the strange sort of lightness I felt hearing those little mirthful noises wasn’t, by any means. I guess it’s just... because... you looked... cute?

I-if you’re happy, then I guess it’s okay for one night, I thought.

“Whatever. You don’t have enough badges to train me.”

“We’ll see about that, Kacchan!”

Whatever look of reverie had crossed my face while you scampered ahead soon dissipated as I noticed Mei grinning at me with a big purple face and crosshair eyes. “So you do like him, eh?”

“Can’t see where you got that idea.”

“Well,” she said, “a little birdie told me you didn’t really like that name.”

“And?”

“And you said nothing in protest, Kac-chan~” she cooed.

I sighed, trying to look completely done with this situation but probably failing due to the getup I was wearing obscuring everything but my eyes. “What’s the use? Shitty brat’s called me that ever since we were kids. Even though I asked him not to.”

“And he, presumably, asked you not to call him a shitty brat.”

“Not once, actually.”

Mei thought for a moment, stroking her enormous chin with an ornate gauntlet. “Hm, you’re right, that’s much more like him.”

 


 

“No.”

“Come on, it’s just a haunted house.”

The three of us stood outside a door festooned with fake blood, fake eyeballs, fake bones, and whatever else was available at the store for less than 500 yen, apparently. On the banner overhead the words Fright Zone!!! were emblazoned in a blocky orange font, as if the extra exclamation points would make it scarier.

“Exactly,” I said, attempting to fold my arms across my chest but failing. “This is like a middle school cultural festival. Did they have to borrow the blackout curtains from the student council?”

“Come on,” came your voice, a little loud and little faster than typical. “It says there’s candy you can find inside if you’re brave.”

“Oh boy,” I said, trying to hide both my fear of haunted houses and my desire to pass the bravery test with a veneer of nonchalance. “We could just go to 7-11 and get candy, you know.”

Mei chuckled. “Aw, are you chicken?”

“No, I just –”

Bok bok bok!” she said, flapping her arms and looking every bit the fool she was.

“If I agree, will you stop being so annoying?”

“Nope!”

“Alright you two,” you said, opening the door and pushing us through, “in you go!”

The inside was dark other than a few gently pulsing red lights ahead, and the entire area smelled like the inside of a malfunctioning smoke machine.

“There’s supposed to be candy hidden in here,” you whispered, drawing the door closed behind you.

“Ooh, like a big spooky piñata!” said Mei. “Let’s go!”

The walkway was filled with the typical haunted house fare – at least, from what I’d seen in movies and such. There were coffins that opened revealing vampires, evil faces that laughed when you walked past, even a few volunteers that ran out in costume. Those were the only ones that were really scary, because they were smart enough to time their arrival for when you were looking elsewhere, or engaged in a whispered conversation among the maze of skeletons. So when one burst seemingly out of the wall with a hockey mask and an axe, it wasn’t unexpected to hear you gasp. What was unexpected was the way we bumped into each other in fright, hands brushing and, somehow, fingers intertwining.

“Crybaby,” I muttered, gently pulling you along towards the fire exit sign that I knew marked the end of the haunted house. I should have known it then by how uncharacteristically quiet you were at this, in spite of your mood that evening. I should have known by how soft your hands felt. I should have, and yet...

“Wow, holding hands on the first date? You’re a real go-getter, Katsuki.”

I yanked my hand away from Mei’s as we stepped back into the fluorescent light of the hallway. “Shut up. And don’t call me Katsuki.”

She clutched her hands to her face like someone who had just seen the cutest puppy in the world. “Ahh, it’s like a shitty shoujo manga!”

Thankfully, you emerged from the haunted house just then, saving me from further interaction. And in your hands was a pile of about fifteen individually wrapped chocolates.

“Found ‘em!” you said, beaming.

I reached to retrieve one, but you pulled your hands back, tutting at me and dropping a chocolate in the process. “Now, now. What do you say on Halloween?”

“I say give me the fucking candy, that’s what I say.”

“That’s not what you’re going to say tonight, though.”

“Fine. Trick or treat, dipshit.”

You sighed, but Mei interjected “Eh, it’s an improvement,” floor candy now unwrapped and half-stuck to her molars. “Let him have it.”

I sneered, or tried to sneer. “What am I, being trained?”

You just gestured at your costume, and I swear, I would have set off a ton of explosions if I wasn’t wearing these absurd paws.

 


 

After some trick or treating at department offices, eating baked goods made to look like entrails, and another haunted house, for some reason, we squeezed into the packed auditorium a few minutes before the costume awards were set to start. And, predictably, they started about fifteen minutes late – this is a college, after all. Being late is just natural to them, right? That’s what I hear, but what do I know, I never finished high school.

If I had to sum up my first impressions of a college event, though... well, there are a lot of people in really inventive costumes, both quirk-based and not. I can see why the hero systems students are drawn to Halloween. Also there’s a lot of... people with alcohol, which I did not expect, seeing as this is supposedly an official school event and they’re not serving any. And, probably resulting from the alcohol, there are also a lot of people making out in the hallways and along the back wall of the auditorium. Add in the maddeningly loud music, the lights strobing through the smoke, and the constant stickiness of the floor from all the half-eaten chocolates dropped everywhere, and the only conclusion a sane person could ever come to is Get me the hell out of here Deku I’m not cut out for shit like this.

While you were off critiquing a knockoff All Might costume (No no! The stripes are white on red, not red on white!), a pair of girls in Midnight and Mt. Lady costumes made their way over to us, apparently friends of Mei’s from school.

“Hey nice costume!” said one of the girls, touching Mei’s gauntlet. “Wow, what did it cost to make this?”

“Everything!” Mei said cheerily, and they giggled over this for reasons I probably would have understood if I’d stayed awake on movie night more often.

One of the girls then caught sight of me and you and excitedly asked “Oh my god, are you his trainer?” – apparently believing this to be the cutest thing in the world.

You turned back from harassing the would-be All Might and beamed at them. “Yup! He’s well trained. Isn’t that right?”

“Like fucking hell it is,” I sneered, beginning to chafe at the brace sitting atop my shoulders. “This thing is itchy.”

“See?” you said, still looking at the girls and not me, “He already knows Overheat.”

More giggling from the girls was interrupted by the music dying suddenly, replaced by a slightly too loud and much too enthusiastic voice from the stage. “Alright, alright, everyone pipe down for a few minutes,” said the emcee, a slight woman with light green skin and two long eyestalks atop her head. “We’re about to announce the winners of this year’s couples conteeeest!” she said with a dramatic flourish, and then, deadpan and much closer to the microphone, “Then you can all go back to making out again.”

A chuckle spread through the crowd, after which the noise settled down a bit. Gotta give it to her, she knew how to work the crowd.

“Alright then! Starting things off, in third place with 39 votes... Toshinori Yagi and...”

The crowd’s murmuring quickly turned to laughter again on hearing the name, as if the Symbol of Fucking Peace would ever attend some gaudy, shitty college Halloween party.

“Very funny, whoever you are,” the emcee continued. “Anyway, Toshinori Yagi and Midoriya Izuku, come get your award please.”

While the laughter in the crowd died away, my internal panic alarm set off. I could sense a few eyes already on you – people you knew, I guess – and more turning this way as our three dumbstruck expressions betrayed our identities to everyone gathered around.

Mei slapped you on the back, laughing. “You entered him anyway, you little tanuki! Sneaky!”

“Oh my god we won,” you said, ignoring Mei and turning your sudden thousand-yard stare towards me.

It was not reciprocated.

“You fucking dumbass!” I said, grabbing you by the scruff of your shirt like we were back in middle school. “Why did you enter us in the couple’s contest?”

Your hands went out in an instinctive placating gesture, attempting to wave everything away. “W-well you don’t have to be a couple to enter and –”

The additional laughter spreading through the crowd around us then brought me back to the reality that we were arguing in the midst of a sea of people, most half-drunk, with an expectant emcee on stage pleading for us to just come accept the award already, she had other things to do tonight.

Nah. This wasn’t what I bargained for.

“C’mon, dumbass!” I said, grabbing your wrist and yanking you through the crowd. “Sorry Mei!” I shouted as I pushed aside ghouls and yokai and at least one Endeavor on our way towards the nearest exit door.

“Wait!” she called, but we were already down the fake-blood-covered hallway and out the door of the building.

From there, I guess instinct kicked in. The coast was clear – no one watching us outside the building, because of the gathering I guess. After shedding my costume paws, I pulled hard at your arm and hefted you onto my back, with a single motion that clearly I still had in muscle memory after all these years, and blasted upwards, past the brick and the glass of classrooms and offices. I expected you to yell, or curse, or ask what the hell was going on, but you only wrapped your arms tighter around me, locking your hands together around my neck, hands slipping just slightly down into the costume to brush against my chest.

As we soared upwards, the roof finally came into view, and beyond it the glowing pink-white clouds in the nighttime, the sign of the city beyond that I hadn’t seen in over a month now. To move freely again, blasting through that night air... it felt like a blessing.

With a few small blasts to adjust our momentum forward, I felt my feet contact the flat, asphalt-like roofing material, taking a few steps forward to slow myself, but tripping in the process and accidentally sending us both tumbling to the damp industrial surface with a cry.

“Sorry about the landing,” I said, touching my face and realizing my snout was missing, lost in the fracas. “Guess I’m a little rusty after all.”

You didn’t care about the landing or the mask, apparently, judging by the wide-eyed expression on your face as you laid on your back and the light laughter that escaped your lips in between loud breaths. “That was pretty fun, actually.”

“You think so?”

“I never got to do that kind of stuff,” you said, still on your back but your voice electrified. “But you were amazing! Is that the kind of thing you learn being a vigilante, Kacchan?”

That name... I bit my bottom lip, and when I didn’t speak, you went on:

“Woulda been nice to get the prize, though.”

I half-kneeled, half-sat next to you, nose scrunching at your terrible decision-making. “Care to elaborate why you even entered us? I thought we agreed to keep a low profile, dumbass.”

You just smiled the biggest, toothiest grin I’ve ever seen you give, and something in it made me realize how rare that sight really is on you. And yet it was you who said “It was worth it to see the look on your face!”

“A-and what kind of look is that?” I asked, suddenly hot, unaware anymore of what look my face was showing.

“Oh, I don’t know...” you said, except you really did know, it was obvious, like god dammit Deku I can see the self-satisfaction in your eyes over that stunt you pulled back there so just tell me already. Instead you reached your hand up to my cheek, and brushed my skin with your thumb a little, and then after that I really, really had no idea what expression I was showing anymore, but I did lean into it just a little, involuntarily. “Maybe... surprise?” you said, “That a quirkless kid can still catch you off guard after all these years?”

That touch... that curling little smile there on your lips... it was maddening. Maddening that I didn’t want to push you away, but pull you closer. Maddening not because I wanted this tension to be over with, but because I wanted it to stay here forever, to never forget this exact spark. And, as always, maddening because you were right.

Well, you know, I can be right too.

Your lips were softer against mine than I could have imagined. They moved suddenly with the shock of my intrusion, your warm exhalation slipping past mine, welcome in the chill night air. Then, just as quickly, they recovered to welcome me, hot and soft and wet, matching my gentle pressure and exceeding it, and I pressed against you deeper, more fully, my hand slipping into your hair to hold you close and yours tugging at my neck and shoulder, then your other arm snaked around me, until our faces were met with one another’s inside a cocoon of limbs and fabric, warm and comforting.

It was only then that I realized my eyes had been closed the entire time. Yours, still open, met mine, and there were tears floating there, waiting for their moment to fall. I pulled back just enough to speak, my lips still grazing yours.

“I can surprise you too, you know,” I sighed into you, and you returned the motion with your own heat and sound:

“I never doubted it, Kacchan.”

Again...

I pulled back the tufts of your hair that the wind moved atop your face and kissed at the freckles along your cheek.

“You’re really dumb, Midoriya.”

“I know.”

“And you make me so mad sometimes.”

“I know.”

“And you could’ve gotten me in trouble again.”

“I know.”

I pulled back a little, caught by your arms still entangled around me. “That’s all you’re gonna say for yourself? Really?”

That sheepish smile slipped onto your face again, like it always did when you wanted to say so much, but felt the need to soften the words anyway, just in case.

“You need to live, too. I don’t like seeing you have to hide.”

“Idiot. I’m not gonna hide...”

“I’m glad, Kacchan,” you said, the sheepish smile widening into a genuine grin, and I kissed it into memory again, so I could keep it there forever.

One day I’ll tell you, I swear. I’ll tell you that name you have for me isn’t something I hate. It was five years ago, sure, but with time it got worn down, smoothed over in memory, and I wished I could just hear it again, so I could have something that stayed the same even as the world kept changing around me. But when I finally did hear it again, too many things came back, memories I didn’t deserve, and I tried to stem the tide and keep them all back there, where they couldn’t interfere with the now, the incredible now I didn’t want to risk losing.

And so I told you that you had to earn that name back... that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever said. It was never your fight. I was the one who had to earn back the right to hear it.

But, then again, you’ve always fought fights that weren’t your own. That’s just who Midoriya Izuku is, and that more than anything is the reason I’m here on top of you savoring the taste of your kiss, redolent of both forgiveness and cut-rate chocolate.

I still don’t deserve those times we had when we were younger. I don’t deserve your affection, don’t deserve your kindness. I don’t deserve this stupid costume you made me or all the little things you’ve done for me. I don’t deserve to have you in my arms tonight, to kiss you on the neck like this, heated little breaths escaping into the night air like tiny little prayers that it will always be like this again, that this first time seeing eye to eye will last forever, no, no I don’t deserve any of that, don’t want to think I do, not for a minute.

At some point though, we have to acknowledge that guilt can still linger as we move on, like your hands on the small of my back, like the heat that I somehow know I’ll still be able to feel there days later while you’re back in class and I’m laying on the sofa, thinking of you, pretending the coils in my back are your hands again. Guilt is effortless; we fall into it like love, but unlike love it takes no work to stay there – it takes work to leave. I won’t feel like I deserve the warmth of your embrace for a long time. My brain tells me that only one side of that coin is for me, the other foreign and undeserved. And yet, it will still be there, waiting for me in quiet moments, regardless. Just gotta keep going, and maybe, with time... it will all feel better. Just a little bit.

And you’ll be waiting there for me, too. Like you’ve been, all this time, even when I wasn’t even in your life, when I was convinced this moment was utterly impossible, undeserved, undreamt of.

“I’m done hiding from you.”

And the tears in your eyes that were waiting patiently, for these minutes that felt like years, finally let go, and dropped to the rooftop.

“Kacchan...”

I closed my eyes, and touched my forehead against yours. “Yeah. Kacchan.”

 

Chapter Text

It’s never easy getting out of bed in the morning. I haven’t ever enjoyed the feeling of pulling on socks and pants before a morning shower, either, and these old running shoes will probably give out entirely soon. But in fall, when that first gasp of chill air out the door hits me, and I see the hint of red on the horizon of the otherwise dark world, whatever else was annoying me kind of evaporates.

Is this how you feel when you have your morning coffee? Hmm, probably not. Forget I asked.

This is the perfect time of the year for running – though I try to do it every day year-round. It’s chilly and crisp, jacket weather if I wasn’t in motion, but my body heat nicely offsets the natural air conditioning of early November. And so I have on just this long-sleeve shirt and some leggings beneath my gym shorts as I set off for another run, on another day, listening to the first stirrings of the birds punctuated by the quiet slam of vulcanized rubber into concrete.

These are the sorts of days it’s easy. After all, any idiot can run for a day or two, but to keep pushing yourself? To run when it dips down to freezing in the winter, or when it’s sweltering and humid in the summer, even at 5:30 in the morning? To lace up those shoes even when the sound of raindrops against the windows fills up your eardrums before you even open your eyes?

Keeping something good going for a few days in ideal conditions is simple, but what about when things inevitably get more difficult? I know the cold and the snow will come, light settling in later and later in the morning and more oblique every day, in the sky and in our hearts. And what then? Are you and I going to keep moving then?

When two idiots happen to make one thing right again, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. We’re both on the run, but are we running towards anything? Or only from the past? That won’t keep us going for long, no matter how nice your breath felt against my cheek.

So I worry... well, I worry about a lot of things. When I go out for a run, I also go out for a worry. That’s just the way this brain works.

The headlights of a small sedan, the only car I’ve seen this morning, temporarily blinds me, and then it passes, and my eyes reacclimate themselves to the darkness.

Physical exercise is nice, and I’m healthier for maintaining this habit. Been doing it ever since I dreamed of becoming a hero back in middle school – ever since mom stopped being overprotective and let me leave the old apartment in the dark on my own. Honestly, though? The 45 minutes a day to myself to think and process things is probably more useful than the exercise itself. I can’t do that on the train, crammed in like sardines with all the office workers, or wandering the halls of the university buildings noisy with annoyed or excited students. Putting my thoughts in order is a cardiovascular benefit in and of itself.

Outlines of trees and edges of buildings began to emerge from the shadows, and I turned away from the buildings to climb up into the hilly little park where I almost never see another human being at this time of morning. The red on the horizon had grown and begun to lick at the underside of the clouds, turning their purple to pink and then a fiery orange. The trees overhead were a similar color, with fall now in full swing, offsetting the sky's muted blue. Daylight wasn’t too far off.

I must have gotten lost in it all, because I hadn’t even heard the gentle singing coming from the other path that branched into mine until the source of the voice was almost right next to me. No interruptions were necessarily pleasant ones when I was in this sort of mood, but neither was this one terribly annoying, since her voice was smooth and her song selection seemingly a little better than the typical power-jogging pop fan’s, though I didn’t recognize the tune.

I slowed down to let her run in front, and in the dim light I could tell little about her features except for the strained expression she wore, which I only saw the slightest glimpse of, and of course the massive pile of leafy, ivylike vines sitting atop her head and trailing down her back, apparently related to her quirk. We ran like that, me several strides behind, until the singing stopped – maybe the end of a song – and she apparently heard my footfalls and breathing.

She wheeled around like a car in a movie chase scene trying to lose the cops, assuming a wide stance and sending several small vinelike tendrils out in my general direction.

“Gah, holy fucking shit.”

The tendrils were close enough to make me extremely surprised but not close enough to make me fear for my life quite yet. Then, after catching her breath and and realizing I was out for a run and not hiding in the park wearing a hockey mask with a knife in my hand, she added, “You really... really scared me.”

Well that much was obvious, I thought to myself, swallowing at the saliva that was no longer in my mouth. “I didn’t mean to. You see I was on the other path back there, and...” I didn’t know where else that sentence led, so I just let it hang in the brisk morning air instead. Also, I was pretty short of breath, which made multiple sentences kinda hard to pull off anyway.

“Well, whatever,” she said, slowly recalling the leafy tendrils to their perch atop her head. She looked a bit older than me, but less so now, with a lighter expression and a thankful lack of battle stance.

“You’re headed this way too, right?”

It sounded like an invitation to chat, asked as it was with a toss of the head that made the woody stems and still-green leaves atop her head protest ever so slightly at the motion. As she put back in just one of her earbuds, though, and my feet followed behind her, I came to feel that the wind in my hair and the well-timed breaths and footfalls of two people running just happened to fill the cool air well enough already. So well, in fact, that by the time I had completed my loop of the park and it became clear our paths were about to diverge again, still no words had been exchanged.

She gave a polite wave, still running in place, accompanied by a smile that felt genuine. “Until next time!” She slipped the other earbud in and jogged down the sidewalk at the edge of the park near where I had entered.

Next time. I hadn’t thought about that.

 


 

It’s never easy getting out of bed in the morning. Especially not when the fall winds are picking up, the temperature is dropping, and you can tell by the lack of stars in the night sky that the only color that will be waiting for you at daybreak is slate gray, not a pretty bright blue.

If you have someone you’re hoping to catch one more time singing in that little park ten blocks over, though... that does make it a little easier, as it turns out.

Not to say, of course, that this was anything terribly important to me at the time. Nearly being attacked by a stranger in the half-light isn’t necessarily something I want to repeat, and barely any words were exchanged between us in the first place. The real reason I latched onto this was simple: Any extra reason to tug myself out of bed at this ungodly hour is welcome. Always.

When I first moved here, my loop passed by a local bakery, and with repeated trips through that block at the same time every day, I discovered that the shop opened about ten minutes earlier on Mondays – to accommodate a rather rotund-looking hero who frequented the place. Last month I tried out a new route that took me beneath the highway overpass, and I spent a few days trying to determine at what time the din of the traffic finally constituted a nuisance (around 6:45). Maybe that little extra bit of curiosity is enough to drag me out of bed some days; I don’t know.

After three mornings with no luck, and the dull grey of morning just beginning to settle in on a fourth, a little wisp of singing rose up from the path next to me, and I watched the same woman trot into view in front of me – except the glance over her shoulder, which quickly turned into a full backwards run, let me know she wasn’t going to be taken by surprise anymore.

“Let’s go harder this time!” was all she said, pirouetting with a single step to face forward again. Sure enough, her pace was quickening, and I struggled to keep up.

I tried to laugh, or did the best I could while also breathing so hard. “How did you know I’d be here?”

She turned her head halfway back towards me, coiled branches bobbing, leaves glistening with sweat or dew or both. “Because you seem like the kind of guy who doesn’t give up on something once it’s gotten into his head!”

“Well then... how did you know... it was in my head?”

“Because I put it there!”

Until next time. That had made me think, honestly, but now it made me wonder – was I the one trying to meet her again, or was she the one trying to meet me again?

“Until next time?” I asked, constantly short of breath and trying to talk at the same time. “Why did you say that, then?”

She turned to run backwards again, slowing down considerably. “So I could play these witty mind games with you! Did it work?” She was grinning, her light green eyes glinting in the early sunlight. “It worked, didn’t it?”

I jogged behind her, dumbfounded. “Ah... I guess so!”

She smiled a smile that was on the border between reassuring and cocky, and turned to face forward again.

I asked her name, thinking I would turn the conversation towards more normal territory, but all I got in response was:

“Call me Yanagi, and try to keep up!”

She turned on the afterburners then, and I didn’t have any more breath left for conversation. It was everything I could do to keep pace as we wound our way through the park, our breathing and footfalls decidedly not in time, unlike the previous outing.

Before I knew it, we reached the edge of the park all over again – the point at which we had parted four days ago. And, just like before, Yanagi gave a little wave, one that felt more honest this time. She put her other earbud in, beneath a dark leaf of green, and just before running off, said “Until next time, Izuku!”

I smiled back and waved, pondering what a friendly and yet strange woman I had just met, until I realized something:

She told me her name, but I never told her mine.

Chapter Text

“You two banged, didn’t you?”

“We’re not banging!”

“I dunno... That sounds like something someone getting boinked would say.”

To say I was in a good mood in the days following Halloween would be a small understatement. I had a certain bounce in my step, a modicum of confidence (unusual for me), and I had even been caught, on several occasions, whistling. Unfortunately, nothing in life comes without a price, and that price was Mei picking up on my sudden happiness, immediately, and making me suffer for it.

“How do you know so many awful words for that?” I sobbed.

She tilted her head. “For what? For wetting your willy? Frick fracking?”

“Mei, let’s just... focus on our work for a bit.”

“No more mentions of hot dog eating. Gotcha.”

The project for the day was to review a prepared file from a single past client of Halcyon’s – in this case, a man with porcupine-like quills all over the back of his body, arms, and legs. We would go in chronological order, as if we were meeting the hero face to face, seeing if we could make similar decisions to those the pro designers made, and ultimately design a kit for him.

“So what are the priorities here?” I said. “I think giving him a better line of sight in reverse is most important.”

“I agree, but forward-facing defense becomes even more important if he’s looking backwards.”

A few mirror helmet designs later, Mei was sketching a prototype breastplate and I was hard at work figuring out a costume that could leave his quirk exposed while protecting him from the elements. That’s how a lot of our days go – sometimes sketching, sometimes hands-on tinkering... occasionally one of the pro designers coming to check in on us.

So I didn’t bother looking up from my work when I heard the door open. Until I heard her voice.

“Next time already, eh, Midoriya?”

It was only then that I noticed the friendly-looking woman in a blouse and a sheer scarf peering over my shoulder. With green eyes. And a pile of leafy-looking vines sitting uneasily atop her head.

“Yanagi? W-what are you doing here?”

Mei looked up, not quite sure what to make of the exchange.

“Ah, maybe you should use Morishita-san in here,” Yanagi said. “People will get the wrong idea if you talk to the company president like that.”

I was at a loss for words. “Company...”

“...President?” Mei finished.

I knew I recognized that name from somewhere, I thought as Morishita Yanagi grinned at me. Then, with the force of sudden realization, I stood up and bowed, the chair I was sitting in ejecting towards the wall behind me at breakneck speed. “I-it’s very nice to meet you, Morishita-san!” I said.

“Oh please, sit down,” she replied. “We’re not that formal around here.”

Mei introduced herself as well, to which Yanagi replied that she very well knew both of us and was happy we were able to intern at Halcyon.

“See me in my office before you go, Midoriya,” she said before slipping out of the room again.

I stared down at the half-finished list of outfit specifications in front of me for the porcupine hero, trying to process what just happened.

Mei cleared her throat. “You are going to explain all this to me, I assume?”

How do I explain what happened when I don’t even know myself?

 


 

When I arrived at Yanagi’s ornate wood-paneled office a few hours later, her receptionist politely explained she was meeting with a client and would be done shortly, so I took a seat and did some quick google searches for her name. There were fewer hits than I expected – being a businesswoman wasn’t quite as interesting as being a hero, I guess – but the ones that did pop up were fascinating.

They fell into two categories, overall. The first was articles like this one from Tokyo Business Journal: “Halcyon Chairwoman Returns After 6-Year Absence,” or this ongoing series from Hero Economic Times that began with an article titled “Turmoil at Halcyon Industries.” I had heard a little about this situation years ago, while I was still at UA, but didn’t follow it very closely. The articles talk about the former Halcyon President’s desire to pass the company on to his young but capable daughter, Yanagi. The only problem with this was that Yanagi had left home years earlier, not returning even for her father’s death and funeral, and the company passing to a board to trustees per his will. Yanagi had been so completely uninvolved with the company and so completely off the radar that people in the comments began to wonder if she had been killed, kidnapped, or brainwashed.

The other category of articles, however, were from publications like Entertainment Today and Japan Now!. These had screenshots of an instagram account registered under a fake name, and with years of pictures of Morishita Yanagi seemingly roaming the planet. Goat herding in France? Check. Surfing in Rio? Check. Spelunking in New Mexico? Cross-country skiing across Sweden? Milking a yak in Mongolia? She’d been there and done all that, apparently.

If that’s how kidnapping works, they ought to come and kidnap me. I’ve never even been to Kyushu.

While leafing through pictures of Yanagi sipping a daiquiri in Angola, the door to her office opened, and the previous client emerged.

“Midoriya?” she said.

She was in bright red, as always, and I gave her a warm smile. “Yaoyorozu! Er, Creati!”

Yaoyorozu said it was very good to see me again, to which I said likewise, until the receptionist’s impatient hints that Ms. Morishita was on a tight schedule and we were ruining everything became too much to ignore, and we parted ways for the time being.

The shelves in Yanagi’s office were filled with dusty books in some places, knickknacks from her travels in others. Some looked Chinese, some Mexican. For most, I had no idea what to think as to their origin, but it helped alleviate the corporate stuffiness of the room all the same.

Yanagi looked up from her desk, a pleased expression on her face. “Midoriya! Good to see you again. Or can I call you Izuku like before?”

“You’re really the company president, then.”

She grinned. “Small world, isn’t it?”

The world must seem small to someone who’s seen so much of it, I thought.

The chair protested as she sat upright in it to lean on her desk, upon which were a few photocopies of hero kit designs. “Honestly, I mainly called you in here to see that startled look on your face one more time,” she said, ruffling through the papers, “but the internship coordinators tell me you’ve been doing some stellar work lately, and that you even managed to think up a heat dissipation system our designers didn’t for the hero with the lava quirk.”

I never dreamed that kind of thing would merit a mention to someone this high up. “Ah, it was nothing, really.”

“No, come on! It’s okay to be proud of yourself for something like that.”

I attempted a nervous smile, but it failed.

“What’s your quirk, Izuku? It’s not listed anywhere on the documentation we got from the university.”

The souvenirs on Yanagi’s office wall suddenly became much more interesting than making eye contact with her. “I... don’t have one.”

“Oh,” she said, apparently caught off guard by this. “I’m sorry. What gave you such a passion for hero design, then?”

“Wanting to be a hero as a little kid, before I knew,” I said. “And a really good friend I looked up to who wanted to be one too.”

Yanagi’s voice was soft, almost intimate. “Did he ever get to be one?”

And I didn’t know how to answer.

 


 

After the meeting had ended and we said our goodbyes (Come visit anytime! I’m super busy but I can always spare five minutes for you!), I went back to find Mei, who immediately sensed my melancholic state and resisted the urge to prod me for details – something I know is incredibly hard for her.

As the sunset-lit city streets passed alongside us, I knew eventually someone had to break the silence; it just didn’t end up being either of us.

“Ah, there you are,” said Yaoyorozu, leaning against the wall of a building a few doors down from the Halcyon building.

“You were waiting for us?”

Yaoyorozu picked at her bangs. “It seemed like you knew her, so I was curious how you two had met.”

“Who,” I asked. “Yanagi? I mean – Morishita-san?”

She smiled. “Well now I know you two know each other.” With a tilt of her head, Yaoyorozu suggested we all walk together, and so we ambled down the sunset-lit block, lined with trees the same color as the sky.

“He won’t tell us how, though,” Mei said. “Must be a big secret.”

“It’s not a secret! We ran into each other on our morning runs. That’s really the entire thing.”

Mei sighed and folded her arms. “Well that was a letdown. You know, if you weren’t the most honest person I know, I would call that a really bad lie.”

“Ahah,” I said, in a not-quite-a-laugh kind of way. “I-It's true, though!”

Yaoyorozu smiled. “You two seem to get along well.”

“Ever since UA!” Mei said, flexing her biceps. “They called us the Terrible Twosome!”

“Mei, I said we weren’t going to call ourselves that.”

“Why not?! It’s a cool nickname!” Mei had first debuted it during our second-year sports festival, when she begged and pleaded with Present Mic to say it in his commentary. To my surprise he did say it, exactly once, and no one was entertained by it except Mei.

A gentle laugh escaped Yaoyorozu’s lips. “That reminds me of me and Yanagi when we were kids. People called us the Wonder Twins.”

“Hm. Lacks a little pizzazz,” Mei said. “Six out of ten.”

“Twins? Is she our age and running Halcyon?” I asked, incredulous.

“No she’s… eight years older, so 28,” Yaoyorozu said. “Our families go way back, and we were always sent off to play together while the grownups chatted. We dreamt of being heroes together someday, but she never got the chance.”

“Why not?”

“Halcyon is the family business,” Yaoyorozu said. “And she’s an only child that they had late in life… probably so that it could stay that way.”

A lot of those headlines made more sense now. A young girl with dreams of her own, but with a fate already chosen for her by circumstance… likely with a lot of resentment towards her family. That’s the kind of person who runs away for years on end, not even returning for the funeral. And the kind of person who, when they hear about the kids who didn’t get to become heroes, actually cares.

“Why did she come back, then?” I asked.

Mei and Yaoyorozu both eyed me quizzically, although for different reasons, I imagine.

Mei harrumphed. “What’s this about running off, though?”

I looked up at Yaoyorozu, who doubtless knew more about the situation than I did, but it ended up being me who responded. “Yanagi ran away six or seven years ago and only came back recently.”

“Oh, cool! So she’s a rebel problem child.”

“Yes,” Yaoyorozu said. “It was… very irresponsible.”

“I guess it was irresponsible,” I said, looking down at the scuff marks on my sneakers alternating in front of me as I walked. “I do know what that’s like, though. To not be able to follow your dreams.”

The other two were silent.

“It hurts like hell.”

I could comprehend being dejected, being depressed, losing our way in life, and more at the idea that we can’t always follow our dreams – because of physical limitations, because you weren’t cut out for the opportunities that you got, or because circumstances beyond your control prevented it. Running away from everything, though... that was the part I didn’t understand. None of it made sense. Who runs around doing such frivolous things when they have a cherished dream?

“She feels that too. Honest.”

My hands clenched into fists at my side, and had to consciously struggle to let it go again. “But it’s still possible for her. Her quirk looks really cool and powerful, she has the instincts... what you’re born into, what people expect of you... don’t stand there and tell me that’s the same kind of fate as being quirkless.”

Somewhere during that exchange, we had all stopped walking, and the gentle sound of traffic behind us became our only accompaniment in the fading light.

“Izuku...” Mei said. “I didn’t know you felt so strongly about that.”

Yaoyorozu apologized earnestly, and I accepted it. She wasn’t what I was angry about, after all.

“Yanagi felt she couldn’t be a hero, so I did in her place. That’s what we agreed on as kids, and now she supports me by giving me cutting-edge materials and gadgets for my little book.” She patted the thick black book attached to her hip, which I knew contained all the objects she could reproduce. “It’s a pretty good deal, and lets her feel like she’s doing something to help. You two are designers and engineers a lot like her... Do you have a hero you want to help out, Midoriya? Hatsume?”

And for a second time, I didn’t know how to respond.

Kacchan, were you a hero? Are you now? I barely know what you did, barely know what the word “hero” means anymore. Heroes don’t have arrest warrants. Heroes stand tall instead of hiding in the underworld. Heroes own more than one pair of underwear. You challenge every preconception I have of what a hero is, and yet it’s Eijirou’s words that bounce around in my head, that picture he sent me that I could never erase from my memory if I tried. How can someone who’s not even a hero himself be the purest hero that a hero’s ever seen? Even the idea hurt my head a little.

I had almost completely forgotten the question by the time Mei responded.

“I have a hero I want to help out,” she volunteered.

Yaoyorozu turned to her. “What are they like?”

“Well, he’s a real bastard sometimes, to be quite honest with you. He yells at everyone and complains nonstop. Doesn’t even pay his taxes. But he’s been through so much shit and still hasn’t lost hope, and I think that’s why we do what we do.” She looked straight into my eyes. “We make sure the heroes don’t ever lose.”

“That’s beautiful,” Yaoyorozu said, and Mei smiled back at both of us – but especially at me.

And that’s just the thing about that picture. Because there’s one thing that defines a hero there, in that blurry darkness – something Eiji himself missed when he sent it to me, but something that I can see whenever I turn off the lamp when I go to sleep at night, there on All Might’s face. Heroes smile.

His smile is nothing compared to yours, though, Kacchan. His is freely given, perfunctory, done when necessary like a Halcyon board member at a quarterly sales meeting, and that’s why it’s everywhere. Yours is the rarest thing in the world, because it’s only ever natural; it has to be earned, not requested. That’s why it’s nowhere except in a handful of treasured memories and one grainy picture of a vigilante, soaring through the night air.

Heroes smile. Lying heroes give lying smiles; genuine heroes give real ones, the kind of smiles you remember for the rest of your life. The ones that make you fall in love, the ones that win costume contests, the ones that come while making out on rooftops. If that’s your brand of hero, well... that’s something I can believe in.

 

Chapter Text

I didn’t know what to do. I deliberated over it for a long time, and in the end it seemed like it would make me happy, so I took the plunge.

I bought the embarrassing romance novel.

While browsing the bargain bin at the weekend flea market on campus, the blond guy with the rippling, oily pecs and the fire quirk (a dangerous combination…) on the cover caught my attention. He kinda looked like someone I knew, or at least how I imagined that someone would look when he’s not wearing a pokémon costume. And scowling. And complaining. And not wearing much clothing whatsoever, judging by this cover.

And the synopsis on the back made me even more curious. When a mysterious man from the past returns to her life, things begin to heat up! Oh please. Like that kind of thing ever happens.

Except when it really does.

I mean, I could say I’m not jealous that Izuku’s life turned into a cheap romance novel plot, that my best friend got swept off his feet by a dangerous prettyboy from his past and I didn’t, but that would just be a lie. An even bigger lie than when Izuku insisted he and Katsuki “didn’t do anything” after fleeing the awards ceremony and “just went home.” Uh huh. Sure. And the sexy carpenter with the rippling abs this lonely woman called to fix her deck or whatever isn’t going to try seducing her in about six paragraphs.

You know what? This is bullshit. I’m throwing this book out. Wasn’t worth the ¥200.

After briefly thinking about placing the book in the combustible trash for irony’s sake, but before making it to the recycling pile, it occurred to me that it wasn’t so long ago I wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with Katsuki. And to be clear, I don’t like him in the way this protagonist likes her beefy handyman, but, you know, he’s fun enough in an irritating sort of way, when I ever get the chance to talk to him that isn’t via Izuku or Eijirou.

Does that mean I was wrong about him? I dunno. I do regret insisting I was right and Izuku was wrong, but I still don’t think I was wrong. I have no idea what to make of the guy.

If he’s going to be a part of my best friend’s life, though… maybe that changes things.

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 10:55
hey what’s up?

Oh, right, and part of this guy’s life too.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 10:56
was just taking out the trash

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 10:56
but i don’t fit in the bin

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 10:57
hey no, you’re not trash!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 10:57
one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 10:57
ah yes, the motto of the flea market shopper

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 10:58
you went again this weekend? find anything good?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 10:58
nope lol

All I bought was that crappy novel, a single bowl (Now I have 3! Adulthood here I come!), and a random volume of this manga I remember from when I was a kid.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 10:59
well actually

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 10:59
i did get this nerdy thing that made me kinda nostalgic

give me your phone sent a picture: 0311191059.jpg

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:01
oh HOLY SHIT!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:01
i haven’t thought about ultrasquad since i was 7!!!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:01
you watched it too?!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:02
HELL YEAH!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:02
BY OUR POWERS...

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:02
UUUUUULTRASQUAD UNITE!!!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:03
YES YES

It was the dorkiest possible story. A gang of color-coded heroes, each with a quirk that negates the drawbacks of another hero’s quirk, rock-paper-scissors style, team up to form Ultrasquad. They are Japan’s elite unit for defeating crime, for stopping villainous schemes, for telling kids to stay in school and not do drugs, and for whatever else happens in manga and poorly made live action kids’ shows. It’s kinda blurry in my memory, other than the spandex uniforms and the cool helmets and all the massive evil insects they destroyed with the one guy’s laser beam.

Learning to work together and trust your friends, balancing each other out, and believing that things will work out for the best if you blow enough stuff up... those are all valuable life lessons that I learned at a young age thanks to Ultrasquad, and maybe they still hold up even now.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:06
hey, i have an idea

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:06
oooooh, what is it?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:07
wow, people usually express fear when i say that

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:08
no way! you have amazing ideas!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:08
oh my god you’re precious

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:08
well, i thought we should all do a group chat!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:08
with you and me and izuku and katsuki

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:09
!!!!!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:09
that would be GREAT

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:10
so who’s gonna ask katsuki

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:12
idk let izuku do it

 


give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:13
hey zooks

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:17
mei that’s the fourth name you’ve invented for me this week

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:18
one’s gotta stick eventually

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:18
i don’t think it will be that one, unfortunately

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:19
midoriya, more like M I BORING? YA!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:20
i’m leaving now

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:20
wait wait not yet

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:20
i um... would you like to do a group chat together?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:20
me and you and eiji and katsuki

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:20
!!!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:21
oh hell yes that sounds like a terrible idea

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:21
let me ask kacchan

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:27
HE SAID YES!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:28
why does it sound like you were proposing

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:28
MEI.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:28
ZOOKIES!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:29
anyway, nice!! i’m making the chat now

Chapter Text

 

give me your phone added saving myself for sonicfox to the chat
give me your phone added an indifferent penguin to the chat
give me your phone added name cannot be blank to the chat

give me your phone set the group chat name to ULTRASQUAD!!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:41
first!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:41
Welcome to the beginning of the group chat! It’s nice to have-- ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW EIJI

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:41
SJFDHSDJFHSJLD

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 3 Nov 11:42
sorry, couldn’t help it

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 21:43
could have sworn i made a group chat and not a youtube comment section

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:45
like if you’re still listening in 2019

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 3 Nov 11:45
how do i unsubscribe

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:47
none of you are going anywhere

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 3 Nov 11:47
my dn is a command not a suggestion

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 3 Nov 11:47
mei since when are you a dom

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 3 Nov 11:48
oh shit the gloves are coming off now

 


 

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 14:46
ooh, group chat means we can send memes to each other, right???

an indifferent penguin shared a file: 051119_144105.jpg

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 5 Nov 14:48
lol!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 5 Nov 15:01
eiji did you really just send a lolcat

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 5 Nov 15:01
in the year of our lord 2019

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 5 Nov 15:03
cmon, it’s funny! he eated the cookie!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:05
LOLOLOL!!!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:05
ROFLMAO!!! ROFLCOPTER

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 5 Nov 15:05
mei this feels insincere somehow

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:07
ROFLSAURUS!! RAWR XD

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 5 Nov 15:08
yeah this chat was a mistake

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:08
rawr means ‘i love you’ in dinosaur!!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 5 Nov 15:10
aw i love you too bro!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 5 Nov 15:10
i mean. sis

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:12
no i can be a bro too, it’s cool

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 5 Nov 15:13
i... sure?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:14
YEAAAAHHH

give me your phone changed the group chat name to The Bros

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:16
BROS! BROS! BROS! BROS! BROS!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 5 Nov 15:17
mei doesn’t know the meaning of the word chill

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 5 Nov 15:17
it’s true! i can’t read!

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 5 Nov 15:20
this is why i don’t have a name

 


 

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 6 Nov 14:04
midoriya

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 6 Nov 14:08
midoriya are you going to do the grocery shopping today

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 6 Nov 14:17
@gomid_oriya oi birdbrain

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 6 Nov 14:19
down to just rice and soy sauce again, katsuki?

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 6 Nov 14:20
i can’t exactly do the cooking around here when there’s nothing to cook

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 6 Nov 14:31
oh shit

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 6 Nov 14:31
im almost home now

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 6 Nov 14:32
how close are you. the store isn’t that far

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 6 Nov 14:32
IS THAT YOUR KEY IN THE LOCK

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 6 Nov 14:33
haha plain rice for dinner

 


 

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 7 Nov 22:10
izuku, did you do the homework for quirks? do you know what page the emitter quirk classifications are on?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 7 Nov 22:11
i have flipped through this chapter nine times and now my eyes are glazing over

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 7 Nov 22:13
yeah but i just got into bed, can we go over it at lunch tomorrow before class?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 7 Nov 22:14
sure!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 7 Nov 22:16
homework for quirks?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 7 Nov 22:16
yeah! it’s uh... Advanced Quirk Analytics or something, i forget the official class name

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 7 Nov 22:18
pfft. no quirk and he still knows more than you do

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 7 Nov 22:19
sick burn katsuki

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 7 Nov 22:21
i am not smart, i just blow stuff up and hope everything works out eventually

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 7 Nov 22:22
yet another thing we have in common

 


 

an indifferent penguin shared a file: 061119_181357.jpg

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 8 Nov 09:44
LOL check out this doggy

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 8 Nov 09:48
doge? first you send us lolcats and now doge memes

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 8 Nov 09:53
we have leapt forward into 2013

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 8 Nov 09:50
i am at a loss for words

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 8 Nov 09:51
and that NEVER happens

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 8 Nov 09:51
it’s funny!

an indifferent penguin @rriot69420xXx 8 Nov 09:53
katsuki back me up here

name cannot be blank @blastymcsplode 8 Nov 09:53
wow, such red. very riot

an indifferent penguin changed their name to wow such red very riot

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 8 Nov 09:55
knew i could count on you bro

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 8 Nov 09:57
aw, he picked eiji’s screen name. cute.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 8 Nov 09:59
very bro-mantic

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 8 Nov 09:59
if you know what i mean

name cannot be blank changed their name to i hate u all

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 8 Nov 10:01
oh don’t be like that

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 8 Nov 10:01
what a grouch

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 8 Nov 10:03
at least it’s not blank now!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 8 Nov 10:04
good thinking mei. silver linings.

 


 

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:13
hey guys, i found out something interesting today. do y’all wanna hear it?

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 21:13
yeah sure!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:15
According to all known laws of aviation,
there is no way a bee should be able to fly.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:16
Its wings are too small to get
its fat little body off the ground.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 21:16
no.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:17
The bee, of course, flies anyway
because bees don't care
what humans think is impossible.

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:17
nO

i hate u all voted to kick give me your phone from the chat

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:18
Yellow, black. Yellow, black.
Yellow, black. Yellow, black.
Ooh, black and yellow!
Let's shake it up a little.

saving myself for sonicfox voted to kick give me your phone from the chat
give me your phone was kicked from the chat

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 21:20
so anyway how's everyone doing today

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:20
much better now.

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:22
aw i thought it was funny!

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:23
you think rage comics are funny

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:23
but they are!

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:24
exactly my point. you are not to be trusted

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 21:25
alignment: chaotic meme

 


 

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:47
this past half an hour has been so nice and peaceful

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:47
but maybe we should add mei back

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 21:49
wow that’s so sweet of you

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:49
shut it

saving myself for sonicfox added give me your phone to the chat

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:50
you sure took your dear sweet time adding me back you bastards

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:51
it would have been longer but katsuki missed you

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:52
aww that’s cute

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:52
I DID NOT

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:53
and then he lied about it after you came back

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:53
STOP NARRATING MY LIFE

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:53
he was very upset!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:54
that’s fascinating! tell me more :)

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:54
i’m gonna kick you in the dick shitty hair

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:54
katsuki how dare you! there is a LADY present

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:55
a lady we tried to ban, yes

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:55
if mei’s a lady, then i’m a gentleman

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:56
you are a gentleman though!

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:57
i–

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:58
you can’t just SAY THINGS like that

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 21:58
why not, what are you gonna do about it

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 21:59
oh you’ll find out

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 21:59
if sexual tension could be converted to electricity, this conversation would power Tokyo for a week

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 22:00
katsuki fuck off

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 22:01
oho?

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 11 Nov 22:01
ohoho.

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 22:01
WHAT???

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 22:03
you’re just easy to read. it’s fun

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 11 Nov 20:04
your FACE is fun

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 11 Nov 20:04
yup.

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 22:06
can confirm

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 11 Nov 22:08
wow i can hear a LOT of explosions from the other room

 


 

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 14 Nov 15:26
what do i have to do to pass this class

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 14 Nov 15:26
whose dick do i have to suck

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 14 Nov 15:29
mei please

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 14 Nov 15:30
maybe i should stand up on the table and strip during the next quiz

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 14 Nov 15:30
at least i can get a few dollars out of my prof before he shitcans me

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 14 Nov 15:31
i think... you would make more dollars by studying

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 14 Nov 15:32
i think... you’re a wet blanket eiji

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 14 Nov 15:33
i could always give you a few dollars if you need it

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 14 Nov 15:32
a private show? well, since you asked so nice

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 14 Nov 15:34
ooooookay time to move it to DMs folks

 


 

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:40
why is your name “i hate u all” anyway

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:41
isn’t it self explanatory

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:42
but you don’t hate izuku, or me, or eiji

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:42
in fact

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:42
i’m pretty sure

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:43
don’t say it

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:44
you ~*~love~*~ us

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:44
...you said it

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:45
i only speak the truth babey!!!

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:45
grumbles

i hate u all changed their name to you 3 are ok i guess

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:46
AWWWWWWWWWWW

you 3 are ok i guess @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:47
STOP IT

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:47
CAN I CALL YOU KACCHAN NOW

you 3 are ok i guess @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:47
I’M GOING TO BLOW UP YOUR ENTIRE LIFE

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 16 Nov 16:47
yeah, call him kacchan, he loves it!

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:47
KACCHAN KACCHAN.KACCHAN

you 3 are ok i guess changed their name to i hate u all

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 16 Nov 16:48
hmm.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 16:49
oh don't be like that

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:49
too late

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 16 Nov 16:52
k-kacchan...

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:52
NO

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 16 Nov 16:52
that’s cute... what the heck...

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 16:53
NO!!!!!!!!!

 


 

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 16 Nov 18:31
why don’t you like being called kacchan anyway

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 18:33
literally no one but midoriya has ever called me that. it’s weird

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 16 Nov 18:33
so it’s an izuku-only privilege... i see...

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 18:34
oh god, i was appropriating izuku culture

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 16 Nov 18:34
you’re so problematic mei

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 18:34
call me out babey!!

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 16 Nov 18:37
mei why are you like this

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 18:37
tumblr

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 18:39
that explains everything, honestly

 


 

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 20:40
does kacchan have any cute pet names for you, izuku

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 20:40
no i don’t, sorry

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 16 Nov 20:46
actually he does

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 16 Nov 20:46
it’s just not a cute one

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 20:48
well? what is it

saving myself for sonicfox @gomid_oriya 16 Nov 20:50
it’s a secret, that’s what it is.

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 20:53
YOU’RE NOT GONNA TELL US??? no fair...

 


 

i hate u all started a private chat with you

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 20:58
deku you little shit get in here this second

i hate u all @blastymcsplode 16 Nov 20:58
your name is very cute. and i’m going to prove it to you.

Chapter Text

I sat back in your bed, hands behind my head and a smug expression on my face. I knew how to make the most of your fragile self-esteem. I mean, I caused it. Might as well take advantage of it. So when you finally made it to the bedroom, I wasn’t surprised to see you already flustered, frazzled. You probably spent a few minutes staring at your homework on the kitchen table while internally screaming, and that’s okay if that’s how your insides felt.

But now it’s time to make your outsides match your insides.

“I-I’m here,” you said.

I sat up and perched myself along the edge of the mattress, smiling a big, toothy grin. “Well done, you’ve gotten so good at following commands.”

This clearly implied there were many more to come, which of course was exactly the case. You swallowed hard. “Kacchan, what are y–”

“You said you wanted this. Don’t try to tell me anything different now.” The grin disappeared, and I pointed my finger down at the rug on the floor between my legs. I made my voice loud and clear so it couldn’t possibly be ignored. “On your knees.”

Silently, which I appreciated, you knelt in front of me on the floor, head down, and I watched the gentle green fringes atop your head bounce slightly atop one another. So nice, I thought. Would look nicer if they were moving a whole lot more, though.

“Look up, Deku.”

I extended a hand to brush at your left cheek, and let the edge fall off my harsh tone. “This is okay, right? This is what you want?”

Nervous laughter and another glance down. “Wh-what do you mean, what is this anyway...”

“Look at me,” I repeated, fingers gently pressing at your jawline to lift your gaze to meet mine.

“Don’t play dumb. You know I’m going to make you mine, just like you wanted. And you know you’re going to say yes, yeah?”

You were shaking, there on the floor in front of me, the physical manifestation of all your nervous habits. And yet, you still said “Y-yeah” to me in response. You put your absolute need to be used by me above your anxiety. It was sort of flattering, in a way. I made a mental note to be downright pleased about it later.

Because I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste time caring about something like that now.

“Clothes off,” I growled, and you wasted no time stripping for me, cleanly and efficiently, a blur of t-shirts and boxer briefs, as if your life depended on it. The skin that emerged was soft and pristine, the only blemishes being the faint freckles on the inside of your shoulders, which looked just as delicious as everything else. Maybe even more so. I wasn’t about to stop until I tasted them, but, well, everything in due time.

Once you were done doing what I’d asked, you resumed your obedient position on the floor without having to be told. I even smiled a little – enough to let you know I was pleased, but not enough to let you know just how pleased. My finger ran up the underside of your chin, and I watched you shiver with pleasure, raising your head just a little with my touch. It’s so fun. You’re so fun, Deku. When you can’t move or run away... that’s just where I want you.

“You’ve always wanted me to use you, right? To leave you bruised and broken so everyone knows you’re mine, huh?” The pad of my fingers rubbing against the underside of your chin drew back a tiny film of your sweat, worthless sweat, barely palpable between my fingertips. “Just the thought of it makes you fall apart and lose all control, doesn’t it... that’s why you’re Deku. Because you just can’t control yourself unless I do it for you.”

The reply hissed out, barely escaping your lips: “Yesss.”

“So agreeable,” I said, lilting my voice in a way I’d never really tried to do before, but the current I could see run through your body as I did it made sure I would remember to do it again very soon.

I undid the button of my pants and stood up, looming over you and enjoying the overwhelmed look on your face as I unzipped them right before your eyes. “Be happy, Deku. You’re finally getting your way.” Really it was my way, but that was what you wanted anyway.

I tugged with one hand at the back waistband of my pants and let them fall to the floor, my other cupping the back of your head and pulling you in closer, burying your face in my boxers, your forehead pressing my cock against my thigh. “This what you want, Deku, yeah?” I said, as your lips gravitated naturally to my shaft, heat and moisture pressing through the fabric. “Tell me how many nights you dreamed of this, you shitty slut.”

“All of them. Every night, Kacchan.”

I ran my fingers appreciatively through those long locks of green. “Yeah, that’s what I like to hear. You’re just as obsessed with me as ever.” I tugged you away just slightly as I pulled at my boxers until they fell to the ground. I gasped lightly as the front brushed past the head of my cock, already hard and leaking with a little precum. It surged upwards, just a finger’s width from your wide eyes, and I took a fistful of your green hair in my other hand, giving me a wonderful purchase on your head. It made it so nice and easy to hold you close enough to my cock that I’m sure it was all you could see – as if you were capable of thinking about anything else at this point, your brain scrambled by the sight and scent of what you’d lusted after for so long.

“Well?”

I was putting on a good act, but the truth is that when your tongue finally lapped against the tight underside of my dick and your red lips brushed against the tip, I became immediately aware that this would become much more difficult to keep up.

“Fuck,” I said, eyelids lowering as I looked down at you, so pretty with your hand around my base and so much of my length inside you. “You’re good at this, Deku. You suck a lot of guy’s dicks thinking about me?”

“No Kacchan, I was saving myself for you.”

Okay, wow. Was not expecting that.

Neither was my dick, twitching hard against the roof of your mouth; with a sigh, I relaxed my grip on your hair and slid the hand to the back of your head to pull you in, but you didn’t need the extra pressure there. You were already trying to take all of me, your eyelids sliding closed with focused pleasure and little humming sounds escaping the back of your throat that floated up and vibrated through my dick, sending it twitching into your wet heat again.

I pulled away, my cock aching for something more, something even deeper inside you. You gasped and coughed at the sudden withdrawal, a long and viscous trail of your saliva running from my tip to the corner of your mouth and dribbling down your chin.

No time for that. “Where’s your lube?”

“S-second drawer down,” you said, still catching your breath but pointing at the appropriate part of the nightstand.

(I knew this, of course. I checked a couple likely places beforehand because I wanted to make sure the stuff you use had the word Non-flammable printed on the back, which luckily it did. Planning ahead is an important life skill, especially when you’re trying to dom the everloving crap out of a guy without giving him second-degree burns. I try to keep it to first degree in the bedroom.)

“On the bed,” I said, the first word swallowed with how breathless and eager I was to get inside of you, fingers trembling as I retrieved the bottle and slicked up my fingers as well as I could with dripping all over your bedsheets.

You let out a cry as my fingers slipped inside you. “Ah! C-cold...”

I kept my fingers working at your entrance, but pressed my body against your back, my face even with your ear, half-covered in hair. “I’ll warm you right up, don’t worry.” And the way you shivered, the way your hole tightened against my fingers trying to scissor you open for me, all of it made me finally process what you said earlier.

You were saving yourself for me. Does that mean...

“Oi, Deku. You’ve never done this before?”

“W-with toys, and my fingers...” your reply came back, your tone high and then low, all over the place with pleasure and maybe a little nervousness.

Nervous because this hole has never been used. It was waiting for me.

Oh my fucking god I’m rock hard.

I pulled my fingers out and pressed my tip against you, kissing down your neck from your ear towards those freckles at your shoulder that I’d been eyeing lustily ever since you pulled your shirt off, ever since I caught glimpses of them that night you laid with me on the couch. Now I was laying on top of you again, biting gently at them, finally finding out they tasted just as lovely as I expected.

And I pushed into you from behind as my teeth bit down harder into that cute, pure skin. I felt you writhe beneath me, felt the musculature move beneath my fucking teeth as my tongue lapped circles onto your skin. You felt like heaven inside. Oh my god I should have fucking known you’d be perfect for my goddamn cock. I knew it from the second I saw you.

K-Kacchan!”

“Quiet, shitty Deku.”

I could barely get the words out, had no ability to speak coherently anymore, both of us overcome with need pressing against need. I moved in and out again, one hand tugging at your ass, which you moved up and into me. Your breathy sobbing stopped, though, and I noticed you had the pillow clenched tight inside both arms, probably biting it for all your life.

I reached up and tugged it away from you.

“Not that quiet,” I panted. “Want to hear every... fuckin’ noise you make.”

“H-hah... ngh.”

The sounds were almost too much to take, everything was almost too much to take. My dick ached even while pounding deep inside you, my heart ached at the noises that escaped your lips, the idea that your body was for me, meant only for this dick, this moment, all this time.

“Deku... Deku...” I moaned, every muscles tensing, all of the blood that wasn’t in my dick rushing to my face, and with loud breaths I collapsed onto you, letting everything unload inside. Then, with a few seconds’ delay, your sighs ascended to cries, and your body tensed beneath mine, one hand releasing its grip on the sheets to fumble at your own dick, releasing itself onto the sweat-covered sheets beneath where you lay. Beneath where we lay.

And we stayed like that for a moment, processing what we’d finally done, not wanting to disconnect.

 


 

Some brief cleanup later, we curled up along the side of the bed closest to the wall, the side not covered in sweat and drying cum, and I drew you close in against me until I felt your heartbeat and breathing begin to slow. “You were amazing, Midoriya,” I said. “To think that you’d never d–”

“Deku,” you said absently. “I’m Deku.” Your mind was clearly addled from getting dicked to within an inch of your life for the first time, which is understandable.

Did I push you too far? I thought. I dont want to see you like this. “No Izuku, you’re not weak. You’re not useless.” I don’t know if it was the afterglow or what, but... I really felt a strong connection with you in that moment. “You’ve been incredibly strong... don’t say that.”

I began to idly play with your long, curly green hair, and you began to giggle to yourself. They didn’t seem to be related to one another.

“Hah?”

“Kacchan...” you started, but stopped. Just as I began to be sure you’d lost your train of thought yet again, you looked up at me, blissfully unaware of how much sense you were making. “Don’t you think ‘Deku’ gives off a sort of ‘can-do’ vibe?”

In all the years saying that name, I don’t think I ever turned it around in my head like that. “What?”

You laughed. “After all this time, I was finally able... to do this with you.” Another warm breath crossed my chest. “It kinda feels like I can do anything, now.”

God, you say so much stupid shit, I thought, but my heart skipped so many beats it’s a wonder you didn’t hear it, with your ear down on my chest. Stupid, dumb, how dare you, and yet... hearing you say it, it kind of makes sense. So many things make sense when you say them... isn’t that why you’re a quirkless kid in a hero design course? Isn’t that why I’m here holding you and not sleeping on that stupid sofa? I shouldn’t be surprised that you were able to turn that name around, too. You’re always taking misfortune and changing it into something better – it shouldn’t surprise me that you took that leaden name I once burdened you with and turned it into something golden.

You also neglected to give any sign that you noticed how much I was sniffling over what you said, which, again, would be just like you.

“I think your name means whatever you want it to mean, dumbass.”

You smiled, and snuggled into my side until only a mop of green hair was visible above my skin. “Then I’ll be Deku,” came your muffled voice. “Just for you. Is that okay?”

“Of course it’s okay.”

And I pulled your unique little head tight against my chest, and you listened to my breathing and I to yours until you had fallen fast asleep, looking for all the world like a sleeping flower, waiting for the sun to return to open again in the morning.

In reaching for the All Might lamp to turn it off, I happened to notice your phone, lying half out of the pocket of your pants on the floor. From where I laid I could just barely reach it...

So, I did one more thing for you before drifting off to sleep myself.

 

saving myself for sonicfox changed their name to sorry sonicfox

wow such red very riot @rriot69420xXx 16 Nov 23:25
holy shit????

give me your phone @pressurebuilding 16 Nov 23:31
YOOOOOOOOOO YOU TOTALLY BONED!!! NICE ONE IZUKU!!!

You can thank me in the morning, Deku.