In theory, Shouto was supposed to be happy about becoming number one, right? It was a testament of how hard he’s worked to get to where he was. If it weren’t for fan popularity, Katsuki would’ve beaten him easily, though. Katsuki had gotten a lot more graceful with failure, but Shouto could practically see the steam coming out of his ears at the results. Third place was left to Izuku, just a bit behind Katsuki.
While Shouto had always striven to be the best hero, he never necessarily wanted to be number one. He wasn’t exactly sure why the win bothered him so much until he saw the smug pride on his father’s face. Sure, Enji had gotten better over the years, but bitterness struck through Shouto in an instant. It didn’t feel like his win as much as it felt like his father’s. In the end, he did exactly what his father wanted him to do, and it ate him up more than he wanted to admit.
Was it wrong for him to want a lower ranking?
Lowering his case resolution rate was not an option. Lives were at stake, and Shouto took great pride in protecting and saving people. The second factor was his approval rating, how much Japan liked him. It was what had made Shouto win number one despite Katsuki and Izuku having higher case resolutions. He honestly wasn’t so sure why he was as popular as he was.
Curious, he asked his agency about it and quickly found out that his fanbase was mostly women. Apparently he was charming and attractive to them, the fantasy of girls everywhere. It was likely what had won him the approval rating he got despite how “lackluster” his people skills were. At least, that’s what he’d been told, Katsuki once saying he had all the personality of a boiled chicken.
Shouto recalled what happened to poor Izuku who similarly had a large female fanbase. He decided to be open about his relationship and suddenly his approval plummeted. Izuku wasn’t really upset over it, just shrugged his shoulders and said his fans would get over it by next year. Part of a hero's life was being treated like a celebrity. Fans never particularly liked when their crush got into a relationship with someone, especially if they disapproved of the significant other.
That’s when the idea struck. Get into a relationship. He wouldn’t actively be destroying his image, but maybe it’d cut back enough to at least get him off of first place by next year. However… Shouto wasn’t really interested in anyone. Starting a relationship for an ulterior motive also wasn’t the best move. If he was going to dedicate himself to someone, he wanted to do it for himself, not because he had some unresolved bitterness towards his dad.
(Which maybe working on his unresolved feelings would be a better call, but Shouto had a knack of burying them instead.)
Maybe he had watched too many romance dramas with Momo, but Shouto supposed he could fake a relationship. To the public eye, it was nothing more than stating they were in love and being seen together from time to time. They had the right to say they wanted to keep the details of their “relationship” private if asked prying questions. It really wouldn’t be all that difficult to fake it, right?
The biggest issue with that idea was that now, in his later twenties, most of his friends were already in relationships. A cheating scandal was not something he wanted to have attached to his name, and he wouldn’t trust someone he didn’t know well with something like this. They might take advantage of the supposed relationship.
Bakugou’s not in a relationship, Shouto suddenly thought. The explosive blond was still someone he talked to frequently. Sometimes he’d be rather dismissive of Shouto’s texts or outright rude, other times he’d call and complain about Shouto taking too long to type out his texts. It took a couple years for Katsuki to admit that they were in fact friends, but it still brought a small smile to Shouto’s face.
Without giving another thought to the idea or how Katsuki would react, Shouto hit call on his contact name. For a while the tone droned on, but Katsuki almost never ignored a call from him unless he was on shift. A few rings later, he answered.
“Oi, fucker, it’s late. Why are you calling?” His voice was rumbly, likely half asleep when Shouto called him. Whoops. Sometimes he forgot that Katsuki went to bed as early as he did.
“Good evening, Bakugou,” Shouto greeted. “So, we’re friends.”
“I already don’t like where this is going,” he grumbled. “Did you just need some confirmation or what? Because I swear to God we won’t be friends if that’s it.”
Shouto sighed, rolling his eyes. “No, that’s not it. I need someone to fake a relationship with me.”
The silence stretched on long enough that Shouto checked to see if Katsuki hung up on him.
“Why?” Katsuki asked, exasperation seeping into his voice. “Is your dad giving you trouble about dating?”
“Surprisingly he doesn’t really seem to care?” Shouto shrugged. “You know how I beat you in the hero billboard chart due to fan popularity?”
“Yeah, thanks for bringing that back up. Imma give you a bowl cut so you don’t win the next one just ‘cause you're pretty.”
Shouto smiled a bit. “Glad to know you think I’m pretty.”
“That’s not what I meant—” Katsuki started to snap, only to get cut off.
“But that’s kinda it,” Shouto continued. “I only won because I have a large women fanbase.” He was leaving out the bit about his father. Katsuki would probably only agree to this if there was a bit of a challenge added to it.
“Don’t interrupt me!” Katsuki huffed, pausing for a moment as if daring Shouto to start speaking again. “What the fuck does this have to do with fake dating me?”
Shouto thought over his wording for a second. “ You know how Midoriya’s popularity went down after he opened up about his relationship? Broke a million girls hearts?”
Humming in acknowledgement, Katsuki sounded suspicious. “Yeah?”
“Well, if I were in a relationship, the same thing would happen.”
Once again, Katsuki didn’t respond for a good bit. “You’re losing me here, like usual. Make sense for once would ya?” Despite asking for clarification, he continued. “You want to lose your popularity?”
“What the fuck?” Katsuki sounded perplexed. “I get that you’re a half brained dumb ass at the best of times, but this is pushing it. How would this benefit you in the slightest?”
Shouto made a face, even though Katsuki couldn’t see him. “Well… honestly I wouldn’t really benefit from it in a way that makes sense to you. But I also don’t like winning just because I’m found to be attractive. I’d like to be able to win on my own merit. That’s something that would make sense to you.”
“Hah? Are you implying I’m too dumb to get it?” Katsuki demanded.
“No. Just personal is all.”
Katsuki took in a deep breath, like he was seconds away from hanging up. “You’re so weird. If this would kill your popularity, the fuck would it do to me? Is this some sabotage attempt?”
Blinking in surprise, Shouto resisted the urge to shake his head. “I’m not a backstabber, you know that,” he reminded him. “To be quite frank, it likely wouldn’t affect you at all. Your fanbase is mostly comprised of young boys, and you’re not seen as very eligible.”
“Mother fucker,” Katsuki swore, but sounded almost a little amused. “If you’re trying to woo me, you’re doing an awful job.”
“Apologies.” Honestly, Shouto wasn’t sure at this point if Katsuki was going to say yes or no. “But what do you think?”
“I think you’re an idiot.”
“You already thought that.” Shouto ignored the rude mark. “Would you fake date me?”
Katsuki made a noise, sounding tired and annoyed. “Why me?”
“Because I trust you,” Shouto replied honestly.
For a second, he didn’t respond. “Miss me with that sappy bullshit,” Katsuki mumbled. “You trust other people too.”
“All our classmates are taken, and the media still struggles with the concept of poly relationships. You’re the only one.” Well, the only one from their class. If Shouto branched out a little… “Well, maybe Inasa would agree to fake date me?”
“Really? That oaf?” Katsuki snorted. “He’d fall in love and make it awkward if you tried to break things off. Horrible idea.”
Shouto had to agree a little with that. “Well, does that mean you’re saying yes then?”
Groaning as if he were in pain, Katsuki finally said, “Sure. But this only lasts until next years ratings, got it? After that, it’s over.”
“What if I win again and the public thinks you broke up with me over jealousy?” Shouto questioned.
“Who the fuck cares. Go to bed, we can talk later.” Katsuki hung up without giving Shouto a further chance to speak.
Part of Shouto couldn’t believe he actually got Katsuki to say yes and felt a little proud of himself. Katsuki was right though, it was time to go to bed.
The next morning they talked things out a bit more. They figured dating wasn’t really all that different from hanging out with a few added gestures of affection. They’d start out small, nothing blatantly obvious since they could both agree that’s not what they’d do if this were real. Hand touching, leaning in close, being seen more often together, all that stuff. Once it was in the tabloids, make things a bit more obvious. Hand holding, kiss on the cheek, kiss on the lips—
“Woah, woah!” Katsuki bristled. “Kissing?”
“That’s what normal couples do, right?”
“Well, yeah,” Katsuki mumbled. “But we don’t have to do that. I can maybe tolerate a kiss on the cheek, but not on the lips. We can just say we’re conservative about that kind of thing.”
Shouto frowned. “It’s the same thing? Your cheek and your mouth are barely two inches apart.”
“That’s— what— have you ever even kissed someone?” Katsuki stumbled over his words a bit. “Of course it’s fucking different!”
While Shouto didn’t quite understand what Katsuki’s deal was, if he wasn’t comfortable with it, it wasn't like he was going to force him. “Fine. No kissing.” He didn’t answer Katsuki’s question.
Next they went over the “fine details” of their relationship in case they were interviewed. Some basic answers of how long they’d been together and what they liked about each other. That last bit was a bit awkward, neither of them saying their answers aloud. All they had to do after that was to plan a few dates.
They settled on days where they worked early and got off early, plus a few days they shared off. There honestly wasn’t a lot of agreeing days, making Shouto wonder how his friends got around this with their relationships.
“We haven’t really hung out since we first got out of UA,” Shouto commented once the call had gone silent for an awkward amount of time.
Katsuki sighed. “My boss says I need to work on being more amiable. If I can tolerate you for a year, I can tolerate anyone.”
“Thanks,” Shouto said dryly. “Even Midoriya?”
“Man, fuck Deku.”
Shouto mouth twitched into a smile. “You two are closer than ever, don’t lie.”
“What do you mean closer than ever? I’ve never had him off my ass ever. ” Katsuki sounded like he was pouting. “I need a break from him. He keeps inviting me over to his mother’s house for dinner, and lately I’ve been third wheeling a lot. It’s getting a little old.”
“Think you’ll be the best man at his wedding?”
“Shut up!” Katsuki snapped. “Anymore of their lovey bs and I’ll throw up.”
“You literally just agreed to do lovey stuff with me,” Shouto pointed out.
“And I literally just told you to shut up.” Katsuki shot back. “All that really matters is our actions. It’s not like we have to act in private, so I don’t have to deal with you talking all intimate.”
That was a fair point. It wasn't like couples were exactly proclaiming their love in public at all times, so them talking casually while hanging out wouldn’t be suspicious at all. Hopefully the paparazzi wouldn’t try to get that close to pry into their lives in the first place. The key word being “hopefully”, considering some of the extremes they were willing to pull in order to get the information they wanted.
The first “date” was a little… underwhelming. It wasn't like Shouto expected the media to take it by storm, but it was pretty normal. They went out for an afternoon lunch and didn’t do anything intimate. However, it was still nice. It was easier to catch up this way, bringing up stories that they didn’t text each other when life got too hectic. Shouto had never minded hanging out with Katsuki alone, recalling times they stayed up late during their time at UA just to talk. Sometimes they needed someone to listen, not someone to try and solve their issues.
Shouto loved his friends, but they were definitely more extroverted than him. They wanted to do things, not sit around and chat. A simple lunch and talking with someone more like himself was a fresh change of pace. For how loud and brash Katsuki was, Shouto sometimes forgot he wasn’t actually all that extroverted.
Second date, they tested the waters with some simple intimate stuff. They sat close on the subway and tried to filter in casual touching. The last bit was a bit hard, both of them normally preferring to keep their space. Third date, things picked up, if only by a fraction.
“Hm?” Shouto had gotten distracted by some other guests at the cafe they were in. They were purposefully sitting next to a window, in very clear view of anyone who’d give them a second glance.
Reaching over, Katsuki covered Shouto’s hand with his own. “This look romantic?” he asked, looking like he absolutely hated this.
In spite of himself, Shouto laughed a little. “You look constipated.”
“Oh, shut it!” Katsuki squeezed Shouto’s hand painfully hard. “I look goddamn dreamy.”
“I’m sure I’ve seen something like you in a nightmare before,” Shouto supplied helpfully.
Rolling his eyes, Katsuki let go of Shouto’s hands and leaned back in his chair, leg brushing against Shouto’s. “What the hell do we do if the media thinks we’re just being weirdly touchy friends?” he asked suddenly.
Oh. Shouto never really thought about that. “Well, they’ll probably ask us about it, and we can tell them we’re together then.” Then he blinked. “What do you mean weirdly touchy? You have Kaminari and Kirishima hanging off you half the time.”
“That’s another kind of touchy. It’s different.”
Shouto wasn’t quite sure what was so different about it, but he decided not to press further on that.
It wasn’t until their fifth date that they finally see the first gossip article. It had pictures from previous dates, all compiled into one article. Shouto didn’t even know about it until he woke up with his phone overrun with text messages from friends freaking out. Right. Maybe he should’ve told them that this was all fake before they started.
Shouto skimmed over the article, it recounting on their rivalry starting from UA all the way up until then. It was weird seeing the pictures from an outside point of view. Even Shouto could admit it actually kind of looked like they were actually into each other. The photographer somehow managed to snap every shot perfectly when they made a move to touch each other, and then when either laughed or started teasing one another over how ridiculous it was.
Looking like he was in love and happy with Katsuki left Shouto with a weird feeling in his chest. He tried to brush the feeling off, summing it up to the fact that he’d never really considered romance until recently.
The article ended with not saying they were definitely together, but heavily implying that they likely were. With the way it was worded, it was like it was obvious. Like why wouldn’t they be together? It left Shouto feeling even more mixed.
To most of his friends, he simply said it was a publicity stunt and to keep that little fact a secret if asked, but he found himself stuck on Izuku’s message.
[ Midoriya ] I’m so happy you two finally got together! I thought I was going to have to intervene if you two didn’t figure it out soon lol
Figure out what exactly?
With his hesitancy to respond, he ended up forgetting entirely.
After a talk with Katsuki, they agreed to make it a little more obvious to the skeptics still out there. It was only a matter of time before a reporter decided to interrupt a date rather than take pictures from afar, anyway.
They watched a movie together one weekend, the bar in between their seats pushed up so Katsuki could put his arm around Shouto. At the end of the movie before they got up, there was a flash, someone undoubtedly taking a picture of them.
That one blew up on social media, rapidly being shared and reposted anywhere and everywhere. Katsuki scrolled through his social media in disdain, snorting and reading aloud some of the comments. “What the hell do they mean we’re soulmates? Jesus christ people will ‘ship’ anything, won’t they?”
Shouto didn’t mind those comments so much, but the angry tweets from fans who hated their relationship were actually kind of funny. There were also some heartbroken tweets about not having a chance with them anymore (as if they ever did) and other comments from people who loved Shouto but hating Katsuki and vice versa.
It wasn’t long before Shouto got calls from family about it. At least from his siblings and mom. He explained to them the situation, and they all sounded a little exasperated when he got to the true part about the reason for the fake dating being that he didn’t want to be in first place to spite his dad.
“You know he doesn’t care about that anymore, right?” Fuyumi asked with a sigh.
“Maybe overall, but he’s still smug about it.”
“Maybe it’s just a dad proud of his son?” Fuyumi suggested.
It was a possibility, but Shouto found himself not wanting to linger on that.
Finally, a show host managed to wrangle Shouto in, weaseling into a spot not already taken up by work or his dates with Katsuki. Unsurprisingly, they only talked about his hero career very briefly before diving into the gossip.
“I’m sure you’re aware of the rumours going around on social media right now, right?” The man asked, waggling his eyebrows.
Shouto tilted his head a bit. “There’s always something going on about me. You’ll have to be more specific.”
“Oh, c’mon, don’t be shy!”
Well, Shouto wasn’t being shy, genuinely wanting clarification. He didn’t want to jump right into talking about Katsuki if there was some other rumour spreading around. Being the son of Endeavor meant that he had been dealing with rumours all his life. Being in a “relationship” would never change that fact.
“What’s going on between you and Ground Zero?” The host asked. “Always eating out and snuggling in movie theaters, you two never seem to be apart nowadays.”
Shouto glanced awkwardly to the side. “I wouldn’t call it snuggling,” he murmured. It was just a casual arm around his shoulder. Didn’t Katsuki classify that kind of thing as platonic?
“So, there is something going on?”
For a brief moment, Shouto knew he could back out of it now, deny everything and pretend they were close friends. He didn’t want to even think about how pissed Katsuki would be if he did that, though. “Yes… Katsuki and I are together.” The first name felt weird rolling off his tongue. He couldn’t recall ever referring to Katsuki by his first name out loud before.
“Ohoho!” The host cackled, looking like he just learned the secret of the century. “So the fangirls weren’t just imagining things! Why haven’t you two posted anything about this on social media?” he asked, head tilting curiously. “I’m sure your fans would eat it right up!”
Shouto frowned a little. He was kind of hoping it’d turn fans away , not draw them in. “We’ve decided not to hide it in public any longer, but we don’t want to put ourselves out on social media in that way,” Shouto explained, the answer rehearsed a month prior. “It’s our relationship, and we’d like to be able to enjoy it without hearing everyone’s input on it.”
Nodding, the host looked sympathetic. “Ah, romance with pro heroes is never easy, is it?” He shook his head. “I know you want to keep it private, but mind if I ask a few questions?”
“Not at all. Go ahead.”
Thankfully, none of them were too invasive until the last couple.
“So, obviously you like the man, but what is it about him that attracts you?”
Shouto blinked. He had a surprisingly easy answer. “I’ve always admired his determination. He has so much power and drive, it makes me want to make sure I don’t get left behind.” So I can be next to him. “Since UA, I’ve been able to talk to him in ways I always had trouble speaking to other close friends. It feels so easy with him.”
Hearing some cooing and aawws from the crowd left Shouto a little embarrassed. That could totally be platonic too, right? Right. Nothing inherently romantic about any of that. It just looked incredibly romantic if that’s the context people had.
“Todoroki, not gonna lie, your answers to that interview were pretty gay,” Katsuki said the next time they saw each other. He decided to drop by Shouto’s apartment and wait there while Shouto got ready. He just got off work and needed a moment to get showered and put back together before going out again.
“Well, I am gay.” Shouto frowned at him. “But that has nothing to do with my answers.”
Katsuki rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean. They were sappy, like you’re serious about all this.”
Still confused, Shouto tilted his head. “I would’ve answered the same way even if we weren’t faking a relationship.”
A look of surprise crossed Katsuki’s face before he was scowling again. “You’re so weird, you know that?”
When they started holding hands out in public, more and more photos of them started circulating online. Katsuki hated it at first, but he eventually started taking Shouto's hand without a second thought. Shouto hadn’t really held anyone’s hands since he was a child, but it was nice. Katsuki’s hands were surprisingly very soft, and on more than one occasion Shouto found himself absentmindedly playing with it. Sometimes out of the public eye.
“You know no one can see us, right?” Katsuki asked, pulling his hand out of Shouto’s grasp and giving him a weird look.
“Sorry,” Shouto apologized, feeling a little awkward. He was kind of hoping Katsuki wouldn’t pull away. “Habit.” That was mostly true. Usually they were only sitting at a table together when out for a meal, not so much in each other’s homes.
“If only you had a habit of doing your paperwork correctly,” Katsuki grumbled. “I shouldn’t even be helping you.”
“I told you I didn’t need help,” Shouto reminded him. His agency was constantly on his back about his reports. Apparently he wasn’t ever detailed enough with his encounters with villains, among general filing mistakes anyone would make. If he ran his own agency, he’d have assistants to do it for him. He didn’t, however, which left him dead tired and making mistakes after a hard day.
Katsuki hummed. “Yeah, but I’ve got nothing better to do.”
They had already gone on their lunch date, but the rest of the evening was still open.
In the background was the TV playing the news. They weren’t paying any particular attention to it, just using it for some background noise. Both looked up at the screen, though, when they heard Enji.
“How do you feel about your son dating Ground Zero?” the reporter asked, breathless as if she had run after him. “It’s become quite the online controversy, and we’d love to hear your opinion on it.”
Enji looked annoyed, but didn’t walk away. “Shouto is an adult now. He’s free to date whoever he wants.”
“Bet he just doesn’t want to look bad by talking shit,” Katsuki grumbled, glaring at the screen.
Faintly Shouto remembered a time where his father wanted to set up a quirk marriage for him. The girls he met when he was younger were nothing more than a blurry memory at this point. When he came out as gay to his family, he was expecting backlash from his father. Surprisingly none came, although his father made insensitive comments every now and then.
“You must have an opinion on it though,” she pressed, clearly wanting a bit more to work with.
Sighing, Enji humoured her a little. “All I have to say is that I’m not very surprised that they ended up together. When they interned under me, I really saw a connection between the two.”
“ What?!” Katsuki shrieked, standing up and slamming his hands against the table. “He’s totally saying that to mess with us, fucking asshole!” His face had gone red, absolutely seething. “What the hell does he mean by a connection?”
Shouto decided not to mention the fact that he hadn't toldtell his father that this was all fake.
Even though Katsuki adamantly refused kisses from Shouto, he kissed Shouto first.
“You know, if I get nothing else from this experience, at least I’ll know how little privacy heroes have in a relationship,” Katsuki mumbled, subtly gesturing behind them.
Shouto had to agree there. The date they were on was at a museum, and today it wasn’t all that busy. And yet, someone was still trailing behind them, undoubtedly wanting to snap the next big photo. “They’ll get tired of us eventually.” Shouto shrugged. “Guess I didn’t think us being together would be a big deal. Just enough for fangirls to turn away.”
Snorting, Katsuki elbowed him. “The number one and number two hero dating? You didn’t think that’d be a huge deal?” When Shouto didn’t respond, he laughed a little. “Christ, you’re so dense.” Despite the insulting words, his tone was light and the way his eyes crinkled in amusement left Shouto’s heart doing flips. Katsuki had a really nice smile when he wasn’t sneering at people.
Eventually they stopped for snacks and sat down on a bench by a screen. The video was giving the backstory on some golden age hero, most of it information he already knew from a previous outing. Back at UA they took a field trip to this museum. Izuku babbled off extra facts the entire day and somehow Katsuki managed to find trouble with another guest, dragging Shouto into a fight with him. All that seemed to have happened forever ago, and yet Katsuki was still by his side.
“You got something on your face,” Shouto said, noticing a fleck of white cream on Katsuki’s cheek. The crepes they were eating were filled a little too full, surprising Shouto that they hadn’t made more of a mess.
Katsuki’s hand started to raise to wipe it, but stopped. “Do that dumb cliche thing where you wipe it off for me. Maybe that stalker will snap a pic and go.”
Blinking in surprise, Shouto leaned forward and licked the cream off Katsuki’s face, immediately being met with a small shove.
“I meant with your hand!” Katsuki hissed, face flushing. He looked more shocked than angry.
“Sorry.” Shouto felt his face going a little pink too.
Katsuki rolled his eyes and looked away, blush rising up to his ears.
Despite the earlier misstep, Shouto felt bold and held Katsuki’s hand. He didn’t appear to mind it one bit, continuing on as if it were natural. They didn’t hold hands much, Katsuki often complaining about how sweaty their hands got.
Towards the end of the date, they ended up in a room alone. On display were some of the first gadgets made to help heroes who’d long since passed. A few of them were made to assist fire quirks, managing to catch Shouto’s interest. He didn’t see these last time.
“What?” Shouto said absentmindedly, preoccupied by the items description. He looked over when Katsuki touched his arm, frowning in confusion as Katsuki reached up to cup his cheek. He didn’t know what to make of the odd expression on Katsuki’s face, but Shouto’s eyes fell close as he leaned in close.
Katsuki’s lips were soft against his, the touch gentle and tentative. All too soon, he pulled back.
“I don’t think anyone was there to see that,” Shouto blurted out, mind reeling. Katsuki had kissed his cheek once before and he was completely right about what he said months ago. A kiss on the lips was completely different.
Katsuki looked a bit taken aback before shrugging. “I didn’t want my first kiss to be on camera.” Before Shouto could say anything about that, Katsuki took his hand and pulled him out of the room. “Let’s go home.”
When it came to interviews, Katsuki was phenomenally great at avoiding them. He knew what his strengths were, and pleasantly answering invasive questions was not one of them. Unless it was purely work related, he often times ignored reporters that came up to him, badgering for more information. Whenever a host wanted him on his show, he declined nearly every offer. Despite all the time that had passed, never once had he publicly addressed his relationship with Shouto.
At least never until very recently.
Katsuki said the interview was dumb and that Shouto shouldn’t even bother watching it, but he quickly found himself recording it to watch later.
Unlike with Shouto’s interview, they didn’t dodge around that they wanted his insight on their relationship. They asked similar things at least, Katsuki providing pretty much the same answers Shouto had.
“Why do you like him so much?”
To anyone who didn’t know Katsuki well, it looked like he was at ease, but Shouto knew he wasn’t. He was sitting up too straight, posture almost acceptable for a public appearance, as amusing as that was.
“Never really cared to put it into words,” Katsuki said dismissively. “And Shouto’s not really the kind who needs to hear why I like him, so it hasn’t really mattered.”
Shouto’s heard Katsuki say his first name before, but he still wasn’t over how it sounded falling from his lips. It made him wish Katsuki called him Shouto all the time.
“No need to be bashful! You must’ve had a moment where you realized you were in love, right?”
Katsuki rolled his shoulders, clearly uncomfortable. “I don’t know… I tried to keep him at arms length for so long, I’m not sure when I started to like him.”
“But that moment when it all clicked?”
“Third year. I don’t want to go into detail because quite frankly it’s no one's business, but we went through a lot and at the end of the fight, I was so glad he was still there.” Katsuki swallowed hard, not looking at the show host.
Shouto felt his heartbeat pounding at that, knowing exactly what Katsuki was referring to. Suddenly, he felt overwhelmed and emotional, shutting the TV off. He didn’t want to think too much about why that got to him so much.
The next time he saw Katsuki, the interview was still racing through his head. Their date went by normally, but at the end, he found himself holding Katsuki’s hand a moment longer before they parted ways.
“I’m glad you’re still here too,” he murmured, pressing a quick kiss onto Katsuki’s cheek before walking away like he didn’t just do that. Just showing appreciation to a friend. They’ve been through a lot.
“Katsuki, let me see—”
Despite barely being able to stand, he shoved Shouto away, snarl on his face. “You’re not actually my fucking boyfriend! I don’t need you hovering over me. Go home, there’s no cameras here anyways.”
The words hurt. Having Katsuki look and talk to him like that after all these months stung like hell. “Caring about you isn’t an act,” Shouto shot back defiantly. “Sit your ass down and let me see if you’re okay. I don’t need to be your boyfriend to do that.”
Katsuki grit his teeth and stormed back to his living room. Sitting down on the couch, he yanked off his shirt and gestured. “I’m fucking fine.”
Looking over his battered form, Shouto’s throat tightened up over the sight of Katsuki’s heavily bandaged side. It was a miracle he even lived. Sitting down, he reached out only for Katsuki to grab his hand. They stared at each other for a moment before Katsuki heaved out a sigh and let go, body going limp on the couch as he gave up.
Shouto wanted to roll his eyes at his dramatic behavior, but knew Katsuki would’ve chased most people off by now. Despite his harsh words, this was proof enough that Katsuki thought a lot of him. His hand gently traced down Katsuki’s chest, stopping at the bandages. “Any permanent damage?” he asked.
“There was a medic on my team who treated me immediately, so I should only come away from this with a nasty scar.” Katsuki’s voice was tired. Shouto wasn’t even allowed to see him at the hospital, Katsuki’s condition too critical for guests. The entire time Shouto couldn’t get one thought out of his head.
I love him.
Now that Katsuki was safe in front of him, the words he had been so desperate to say before vanished. Would Katsuki still let him be this close if he knew Shouto was no longer faking his feelings?
(Had he been faking anything from the start?)
“How long will you be off the field?” Shouto asked, staring at a nasty bruise on Katsuki’s face he couldn’t quite see clearly.
“A week? They’re not completely sure, but not for long.” Katsuki let Shouto turn his face towards him, thumb gently brushing over the mark on his jaw.
Shouto’s eyes drifted to Katsuki’s lips. They were split and battered, but he wanted to kiss them so bad.
Lightly jerking his face out of Shouto’s grasp, it was clear he'd had enough touching. “Save all that sweet shit for when the internet’s there to go crazy about it.” The more playful tone in his voice sounded forced, like he was trying to remind Shouto they were just for show but wanted to be casual about it.
Shouto’s chest ached. “I do what I want.”
“It’s my house, my rules!”
“Technically an apartment.” Shouto’s mouth twitched into a smile at the glare Katsuki gave him.
His hand lightly smacked against Shouto’s chest. “Just because I’m injured doesn’t mean I won’t kick your ass out. Mouthy little shit.”
The following week, Shouto was at Katsuki’s apartment every day. He was fine, but fear pricked at Shouto, needing to see Katsuki again and again. It was hard balancing his feelings with what he thought would be acceptable for a friend to do. Katsuki hated being taken care of. Unless he asked, Shouto knew he shouldn’t bother trying to do things for him. Concern wasn’t the same thing as pity, but explaining that to Katsuki was a pointless task.
“I got it!” Katsuki said, teeth grit in pain.
“You don’t need to get it, though,” Shouto sighed, watching in disdain as Katsuki tried to get something off a high shelf. “I’m right here.”
After watching a moment longer, Shouto sighed again and walked up behind Katsuki and leaned over him to grab the item. He wasn’t really sure what it was, but Katsuki was determined to make dinner and apparently he really needed this thing. Even though Shouto only had a few inches on him, he was able to reach the item with ease.
“Hey!” Katsuki protested, turning around and jerking back once he realized how close Shouto was.
Shouto’s eyes fell to a nasty bruise on Katsuki’s cheek, impulsively reaching out to touch his face. His hand was stopped and Katsuki scowled at him.
“What are you doing?”
“I was worried,” Shouto mumbled, “when I was called and heard what happened. Thought I was going to lose you.”
Katsuki gave him a weird look. “When did you get so soft?” He took the item out of Shouto’s hand. “I’m fine. I don’t need you taking care of me.”
“I know.” Shouto swallowed hard. “I want to take care of you, though.”
“You’re one more sappy word away from me taking advantage of that and ordering you around all day.” Katsuki said after a moment, pushing Shouto to the side and continuing to cook.
Shouto wanted to say he wouldn’t mind, but kept his mouth shut.
At first, Shouto tried not to be a doting “boyfriend,” but then quickly realized Katsuki didn’t seem to really care. While he hated Shouto trying to do things for him, he didn’t push Shouto away for doing anything affectionate. Snuggling next to him on the couch, running his fingers through his hair, and so on. Hell, sometimes Katsuki would make the first move.
One late night when Shouto came over, he let him stay. It was a one bedroom apartment, meaning, “I’m not sleeping on the damn couch, and neither are you.”
It felt weird sleeping in a bed that wasn’t his. For a while, he stared at Katsuki’s back, wanting to move in closer. He also wanted to not get kicked out, so he rolled over to shake the thought from his head. It didn’t leave. He wanted Katsuki to roll over and put his arm around him. A sense of longing filled Shouto’s chest, not allowing him to sleep.
Shouto was never the shy type. Never was he the one to hold back his words and sit idly by. and he couldn’t understand where his sudden hesitance came from. Why not just confess to Katsuki? They were already in a fake relationship, the transition to a real one would be easy.
The words still didn’t come out.
More and more time passed by and he wondered if maybe he'd deluded himself into thinking this fake relationship was real. Katsuki seemed so genuine. The soft look he’d occasionally give Shouto, how sweetly he kissed him, and he seemed almost eager to spend time together. Gradually he stopped snapping at their friends when they playfully accused them of not faking it. They held their dates in more private areas, away from the eyes of others.
As their year together was quickly coming to an end, a feeling of dread slowly filled Shouto. He didn’t want this to stop. There was no way he could return to a life without Katsuki in it. Well… he could, but that didn’t mean he’d be happy about it.
The movie they were watching together was only background noise to Shouto’s racing thoughts. Katsuki liked him, right? Here they were, cuddling on the couch, watching a movie together after eating dinner. As far as Shouto knew, Katsuki didn’t do this with anyone else.
Staring at Katsuki’s face, Shouto’s heart grew heavy. How many more moments did they have like this left? Shouto sighed, immediately catching Katsuki’s attention.
“You good?” he asked with a frown.
The words were out before Shouto could think twice about it. “I love you.”
Katsuki flinched, his look of surprise quickly becoming one of doubt. “There’s no one here to hear you say that.” His voice became soft, arms tightening around Shouto as if he’d get up and leave.
Katsuki swallowed hard, expression hard to read. His hand carded through Shouto’s hair, cupping the back of his head and pulling him forward into a kiss. “Keep it up and I’m going to think you’re being serious.”
Shouto frowned. “I am serious.”
Rolling his eyes, Katsuki looked away. “Kinda figured.” It was clear he wasn’t paying attention to the movie at all. “I’m serious too,” he murmured after a moment.
Leaning forward, Shouto tilted Katsuki’s face towards his, heart pounding. A breath away from pressing their lips together, he paused. He needed to hear it first. “Say it properly, Katsuki.”
“Huh?” Katsuki blinked, taken aback. “The fuck do you mean—” then he scowled. “Really?”
“Really.” Shouto leaned further back, staring at him stubbornly.
Katsuki heaved out a sigh. Reaching over, he squished Shouto’s cheeks together. “I love you,” he said, “even if you’re a dumb idiot sometimes.”
Before Shouto could protest, Katsuki’s lips pressed against his, hands slowly moving from Shouto’s cheeks to brush through his hair. Maybe Shouto should be petty about being called an idiot, but it was hard to focus on anything else other than the fact that this was real. For the first time, Katsuki was kissing him and Shouto knew that he meant it. He loved Shouto.
When the year ended and the new hero rankings were up, none of that would change what was happening now.