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what doesn't kill me makes me want you more

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Red Carnations (My Heart Aches For You, Admiration)

The first time Izuku coughed up petals was when he was seven. It was only a few small pretty red petals. There wasn’t even enough to fill the palm of his hand. His throat felt raw from where he had choked on some as they came up, but despite his pain and fear at the petals, Izuku had to admit he was fascinated by them.

Maybe it was a quirk? Maybe the doctors were wrong and he’d actually be able to become a hero. He wasn’t sure how a few measly flower petals would really help, but he was sure he could figure it out. And once he had a quirk - a real life quirk - then maybe Kacchan would finally be his friend again.

The slim hope sent him into another coughing fit, where he managed to cough up more petals onto his desk. And even though his throat felt raw and he was sure that he could still feel something stuck in his throat, he couldn’t help the smile that stretched across his lips or the happy tears that came to his eyes as he called for his mom to come see the quirk that he was finally, finally developing.

Except when she came into his room and saw the small petals in his hands and on his desk, she didn’t smile. And the tears that left her eyes weren’t happy tears.

“I’m sorry, Izuku. My baby. I’m sorry.”

Izuku was learning to hate those words. Because just like that his slim hope was crushed. He had no quirk. Instead he was sick. Something was wrong with him. Again. And now Kacchan would think he was an even bigger useless freak.

Over the next few months the coughing only got worse. Izuku had started to wear a mask to school in order to try and catch all the petals. Soon enough though whole flowers, little red carnations, started to come up. And their petals were often stained with dark spots of blood.

His mom took him to the hospital for a surgery. ‘To help with the flowers,’ she said while petting his green hair. ‘Everything will be better after it’s done.’

The surgery was successful. His chest stopped feeling tight, and he could breathe without feeling the sensations of petals rubbing his throat raw. But something was missing. And he didn’t know what it was.

All he knew was that seeing Kacchan’s explosions suddenly felt all new, and he couldn’t help but start admiring the way his friend’s quirk was so cool.

 

Yellow Tulips (There’s Sunshine In Your Smile)

Katsuki wasn’t sure what happened to Deku. For months he had been wearing a mask to school, constantly coughing and crying and occasionally excusing himself to the restroom to vomit in the toilets. Katsuki knew the teachers were aware of something that he wasn’t.

And it pissed him off.

The teachers would fret over the other boy. Even the ones who had started to turn a blind eye to the other kids bullying Deku had started to intervene on his behalf. It was stupid that just because the quirkless boy was sick, suddenly the teachers were fawning over him. If they were just going to be mean to the boy when he got better, they should leave him alone now.

Getting Deku’s hopes up and then crushing them would make him cry. And not just the big tears he always did. It would be the ones that actually hurt him and would make his smile disappear for hours on end.

Katsuki hated that. He also hated the helpless feeling growing in his chest, the longer the other boy stayed sick. It got so bad that Katsuki was ready to ask Deku what was wrong so he could try and fix it.

But then Deku stopped coming to school. And when he brought up his concern to his mother, she would only say that he had been very sick and would return to school once he had recovered.

(She tried to hide the tears in her eyes by turning around to finish washing dishes, but Katsuki had seen the single tear that spilled down her cheeks.)

When Deku returned to school, he was different. Of course he was the same quirkless crybaby he had always been, but he no longer followed Katsuki around like a lost puppy anymore. He didn’t follow behind trying to play with him, or spout monologues about how cool Katsuki’s quirk was. Instead he would give Katsuki bright smile during class and then turn back to his notebooks to analyze whatever hero had caught his attention at the moment.

It was a sunny afternoon during lunch break when Katsuki coughed up his first petal. The thing was half the size of his palm, and bright yellow. He had no idea what it meant. It certainly wasn’t part of his quirk. Whatever it was, though, he could feel it settling into his chest.

He went a whole year before one of the teaches caught him throwing up the yellow petals into a toilet. He still didn’t understand why there were petals. Something about ‘strong feelings’ and ‘unrequited’ crap. The teachers whispered with his parents in the principal’s office as if he wasn’t sitting right there.

Deku stopped him outside the school gates, eyes wide with the start of tears at the corners. For the first time in a long while he grabbed Katsuki’s hand, ignoring the nitroglycerin sweat and the way his palm was starting to heat up.

“You have flowers too, Kacchan? Are you going to be okay?”

The ‘too’ was what struck Katsuki as odd. He remembered Deku wearing his mask and always coughing. Imagining the pain Deku had to have been in, especially because the other boy was so weak, made Katsuki frown. And now, with the boy on the verge of tears, Katsuki only wanted to make him smile.

“I’m gonna be fine, Deku. You really think stupid flowers can get the best of me?”

Deku blinked up at him. Then he smiled, huge and bright and with all the warmth of the sun. “Nothing can get the best of Kacchan! Because Kacchan is amazing!”

Katsuki vomited up yellow tulips the whole way to the hospital.

Jonquils/Daffodils (Desire For Affection Returned/Regard, Unequalled Love)

It was during his second year in middle school when Izuku felt the tickle of something in the back of his throat. Something small, and stubbornly stuck in his throat. At first he assumed it was a cold. But when he finally managed to cough it up, he felt the blood drain from his face at the sight of small little white and yellow petals.

At thirteen years old he knew, at a very basic level at least, what the flowers meant. Hanahaki. Fairly common around their age when hormones start to act up and no one knows how to explain their feelings well. Their health teacher had mentioned that as you grow older, it becomes less common due to how strong the feelings needed to be to even develop such a disease.

Normally that would be comforting. Except this wasn’t Izuku’s first time experiencing Hanahaki.

Izuku stuffed the small petals into his pocket before anyone could see. He didn’t need anyone else to discover this on top of him already being quirkless. That would just put an even bigger target on his back. Especially from Kacchan.

Just the thought of the blonde boy made Izuku’s chest feel weirdly tight.

Kacchan was amazing. His quirk was so powerful and he was always so confident in everything he did. Izuku couldn’t help but admire it all. And despite the other boy’s harsh words and occasional explosions near Izuku’s skin, Kacchan had never really hurt him. It was all for show. Lightworks, if you will. Just enough to mark him as Kacchan’s target and stop the other bullies from acting up.

And sure, maybe Kacchan didn’t really like him, but as long as Izuku still got some of his attention then it was fine.

Izuku heart sank as he coughed up more petals. He’d heard of recurring Hanahaki. Again, it was common for kids his age to have higher emotions due to their hormones spiking. Some kids could go through their entire middle school lives suffering from flowers blooming in their chests and then withering away again and again before they learned to sort their emotions out.

He’d never heard of someone having Hanahaki after having surgery to remove it.

The small little petals staring up at him seemed to mock him. Maybe Kacchan was right, and he really was a freak. Right now he didn’t have time to think about it. Hopefully he’d be able to keep this new development underwraps until he could get home and do some more research on the subject.

As his luck would have it though, he was complete shit at keeping his new sickness a secret.

It wasn’t Kacchan who first saw the petals. Instead is one of the girls in his class (one who was at least mildly friendly with him), who noticed the white and yellow petals. Her eyes lit up at the petals and Izuku was briefly reminded that her quirk had something with botany. She didn’t even think before she opened her mouth to seal Izuku’s fate.

“Daffodils and Jonquils. You’ve got it bad for someone, don’t you Midoriya-kun?”

It wasn’t long from those simple words that everyone in class knew about it. All day he suffered through all the looks (varying from mocking to pitying) and all of the comments about how ‘the poor quirkless loser’ had a crush on someone. It was more relieving than usual when the bell rang and he was finally walking along the familiar, quiet path back home.

The worst part of the day wasn’t the cruel comments. Nor was it the troubled looks from the teachers who had already heard about his last encounter with Hanahaki. No. The worst part was that he didn’t even know who his crush was.

He wasn’t close enough with any of his classmates to have a crush on them. Sure, he admired their quirks and wrote about them in his notebooks when he had a chance, but he did that with the pro-heroes too.

It’s possible that maybe my love for heroes is what did it? It wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened. In fact it’s quite common for things like that to happen. Hero-worship does develop into Hanahaki sometimes. But if that’s the case then who would be the root cause of all this? All Might? That would make sense. After all he is the number one hero and I already have several notebooks on him. Not to mention the trading cards and-

“Oi. Shitty nerd. Shut the fuck up with all that rambling already.”

“K-kacchan?” Izuku couldn’t help the moment of elation, even if it was quickly replaced with worry and confusion. The blonde boy so very rarely walked home this way. Even less so when Izuku was walking the path towards their homes.

“Che. Wipe that look off your damn face, nerd.”

The feeling of petals caught in his throat was persistent, but Izuku refused to let them up. He didn’t want his current case of Hanahaki to ruin whatever relatively peaceful moment he could have with Kacchan. It had been too long since the last time they had got to walk home together.

They were walking past the playground when, surprisingly, Kacchan was the one who broke the silence.

“The extras at school say you’re coughing flowers.”

Izuku wanted to deny it. He wanted to say no, he was not coughing up flowers. He didn’t want to worry Kacchan who was giving him a sideways look like he almost actually cared.

But of course that would be the moment his body decided to betray him and he couldn’t stop the coughs or the pretty white and yellow petals from escaping his mouth. He was surprised when he felt Kacchan’s hand patting his back, encouraging him to get it all out. But he wouldn’t say anything to call attention to it.

Why would he? He’d been hoping for his childhood friend to be friendly towards him again for years.

When the coughing stopped, they both decided to sit on the bench. It was quiet, with Izuku just trying to remember how to breathe. Surely the last time he went through this, breathing had been easier in the beginning. Right?

“You gonna confess to the damn extra?”

“Ah.” He ran a hand through his curly hair, wincing as it caught on a tangle. “I would, I guess. That would be the easiest route.”

“You scared, Deku?” Kacchan’s voice was rough and taunting. Two steps away from being downright tormenting, honestly. But Izuku had known Kacchan since they were three. He could hear the concern hidden underneath it.

“That’s not it, Kacchan.” A grunt was his only response. “It’s just. I don’t know who it is. I don’t know anybody in class well enough to actually like them. And the only person I could think about having feelings for strong enough is All Might.”

Kacchan groaned, a long drawn out sound as he stood up. “Fucking nerd. Of course you’d develop Hanahaki for fucking All Might. I bet that was why you had it the first time ‘round too. Auntie is going to flip when she finds out you’re gonna have to have surgery again.

The blonde strode off, barely slowing his pace as Izuku got off the bench. The green haired boy whined to his friend about how unfair it all was, and wasn’t the surgery supposed to stop you from developing these types of feeling again? Let alone for the same person?

Kacchan’s very eloquent response had been a very amused ‘tough shit.’

Over the next few months, neither of them talked about how the small petals turned into whole flowers, or how Kacchan had somehow always managed to walk the same path as Izuku. It was an unspoken routine.

And after Izuku’s flowers grew enough to finally operate on and they were removed, neither boy stopped waiting for each other at the gates so they could walk home down the same quiet path.

White Heather/Blue Violets (Protection/I’ll Always Be There)

Katsuki knew what his sore throat meant as soon as he felt that painful constricting of his chest. For months now he’d been denying that anything was amiss. Especially when there were more important things happening in his life.

Like the fact that Deku’s fucking surgery was coming up in three months.

It was ridiculous timing for fucking flowers to decide to start blooming now. He hadn’t even needed to cough up the stupid petals to know that just like Deku, he’d once again managed to develop Hanahaki.

Unlike the shitty nerd though, Katsuki was well aware who these flowers were for. He had an inkling of a suspicion after he’d had surgery. Mostly because he’d overheard the old hag and Auntie Inko whispering to each other over dinner one night when him and Deku were supposed to be watching an All Might movie.

He’d tucked that knowledge away without much thought. Afterall, what was he really going to do with it? And once he’d gotten older and learned about Hanahaki, he really didn’t think he’d need to worry about developing it again.

Apparently he was so fucking wrong.

His throat felt like it was on fire as he struggled to keep the petals held back. He refused to cough them up until he was safely out of the nerd’s view. Lord only knows how bad things would be on Deku if he saw Katsuki like that.

Once he dropped Deku off back in the very frazzled hands of Auntie Inko, he tried to book it back to his house. The flowers in his chest made it hard to run though, so he only made it as far as the playground before he bent over to cough up the storm of petals he’d been holding back.

They were soft and white, despite the saliva and mucus that coated them. He had no idea what type of flower they were supposed to be, but he knew that they were different than the petals Deku had been puking up.

He wiped his mouth on his arm as he straightened up. There were a few kids giving him curious looks, and a few parents who frowned in both worry and displeasure, but Katsuki didn’t care. They could all fuck off. He obviously had more important things to deal with at the moment.

Fucking hell.

Over the next two months nobody knew about the white flowers or the newer purple-ish/blue flowers that were growing in his lungs. On the good days he was able to ignore them fairly easily. On the bad days he swore he could feel the roots digging themselves in deeper and deeper. Some days it was all he could do to keep them locked up tight in the back of his throat.

But he’d rather have his own quirk used against him than cough the stupid petals up where Deku - who was getting worse as the date for his surgery approached - could see them. The other boy would cry out those goddamn never-ending tears, which no doubt would cause a new flood of bloodied and bile soaked flowers to leave his mouth. Which then would only spurn on a new round of tears.

It was a vicious cycle that Katsuki honestly wanted nothing to do with.

The last month before the surgery was hell. Not only for Deku, who was now hacking up entire flowers and copious amounts of blood, but also for Katsuki. Because the worse Deku got, Katsuki swore the roots in his lungs dug deeper. As if to mock him. Deku was getting worse, some sort of one-sided love for a nameless person when Katsuki was right next to him. Pining away like a schoolgirl.

Logically he knew the easiest way to solve this would be to just tell Deku. Confess how strong these feelings were and get over it. But Deku had never once in his life made anything easy. The shitty nerd would panic, and then feel guilty, and then panic some more. He’d probably try and force himself into returning Katsuki’s feelings.

That was the last thing Katsuki wanted. Forced feelings that stemmed from fucking pity.

“Kacchan? Are you listening to me?”

Deku’s voice was hoarse from his latest bout of coughing/vomiting, and held a slight tinge of annoyance. Katsuki rolled his eyes and leaned over to ruffle the boys unruly hair.

“I’m fucking listening, nerd. All Might’s newest documentary is on tonight. You wanna watch it at your place or mine?”

A choking sound came from the other boy that had Katsuki turning to him quickly. Yellow daffodils and white jonquils burst from his lips, followed by bile and blood. It speckled the other boy’s lips when he finally managed to stop the onslaught of flowers. Big fat tears - real tears, Katsuki noted - formed in the corners of big green eyes. But even with the tears and blood, the boy was smiling up at him.

“You’re gonna watch it with me, Kacchan?”

He grunted. “Course I am, shitty nerd. Stop with the fucking creepy grin. And wipe off your face. Auntie is gonna have a heart attack if you show up at home like that. And the old hag is never gonna let me hear the end of it, either.”

Deku had done just that, a small bounce in his step that had been missing for the past two months. Katsuki would never admit how the sight almost sent him into a coughing fit himself.

The rest of that day went by quickly. Ending with Deku staying at his place for the night, tucked in close to Katsuki’s side as they watched the documentary. The nerd would whisper his praises and analysis of every move until Katsuki slapped a palm over his mouth. Which then would lead to blushing and coughing and a bucket full of flowers.

After Deku fell asleep, Katsuki had to find his way to his bathroom in order to rid himself of the petals that had been suffocating him half the day.

The day of Deku’s surgery eventually rolled around. The boy was practically gasping for breath. He’d heard the nurses and doctors whisper about how Deku’s hanahaki was growing quicker than normal. Whether it was due to his previous case or if his feeling grew stronger, none of them could tell.

It didn’t sit right with Katsuki. How could it? He sat next to Deku in his hospital room and listened half-heartedly to the boy talk about heroes and school and all the things he wanted to do after he got his flowers removed.

“Kacchan?”

“What is it, Deku?”

“You’ll still be here when I get out of surgery, right?” Katsuki couldn’t help looking over at the boy in the hospital bed. His eyes were wide and vulnerable looking. As if he truly didn’t know that Katsuki wouldn’t be anywhere but where Deku was. If they truly thought they would leave this room until Deku was back and safe and not dying anymore, they would have to drag him out by force.

Katsuki snorted, clearing his throat of the damn petals that threatened to come up. “I’ll be here, nerd. Stop worrying about it.”

The nerd was quiet for once. His fingers twisted into the sheets of his bed, and a small happy blush was settled on his cheeks. “I’m happy you’re here, ‘Suki.”

And fuck. If that stupid nickname didn’t get a blush to rise to his own cheeks. He almost spilled the mass of flowers in his lungs right then and there. The fucking nerd had no right to be so goddamn cute at a time like this.

It just wasn’t fair.

When they wheeled the smaller boy out, Katsuki followed along until he was forced to stop. Deku gave him a sweet smile, even if it was tinged with fear at the very edges of it. Katsuki only smiled back, hoping to reassure him that everything will be alright.

Six hours later, Deku came back, sleeping and wrapped in bandages, but blissfully free of flowers and roots. Katsuki sat by his side and held one of his hands as he waited for the boy to wake up. He hadn’t been here for the first surgery, so he had no idea how long it would take for him to open his eyes.

Katsuki felt the roots in his lungs squeeze as he stared at the boy. He looked better. Breathing easier than he had in a long while, but still looked so weak, laying there dead to the world around him.

“Hey, ‘Zuku. If you’re awake, you need to tell me now before I embarrass myself here.” There was nothing but Deku’s steady breathing. Katsuki took a deep breath, letting his free hand come up to tangle in Deku’s green curls. Now would be the best time for doing this.

“I haven’t told you this, but I’ve got flowers in my chest too. Obviously not as bad as you had, shitty nerd, but they’re growing right here. And unlike you who can’t pinpoint which hero-crush is strong enough for you to not be able to sort your own damn feelings out, I know that these flowers are for you.”

He took a deep breath, willing his jaw to stop clenching. “I love ya, ‘Zuku. And it’ll be fine if you don’t, because no matter whether you love me back or not, because I’m not going anywhere. I know I’m a shitty friend sometimes, but when you need me, I’ll always be right here. No matter what.”

Katsuki sat there in silence for a few seconds. He rested his forehead against Deku for a second, before he pulled away. He was getting ready to pull away when Deku’s fingers lightly squeezed his.

“K-kacchan’s not a bad friend.”

Katsuki felt his ears heat up. “Fucking hell, Deku. I told you to fucking tell me if you woke up!”

“Didn’t wake ‘til the end.” The other boy gave a sleepy smile. “Kacchan’s my best friend too. I’ll always love Kacchan the most.”

There was no hope of the heat in Katsuki’s face disappearing. Not with a sleepy and sweet confession like that from Deku’s on mouth. He was aware that this wasn’t a true love confession, but it would have to be enough. Deku never lied, and the odds that he’d even remember this conversation later were slim.

But as long as he was able to be the first in Deku’s life is someway, who was he to complain?

Red Chrysanthemums/Orange Blossoms (I Love You/Eternal Love)

After getting a second surgery for Hanahaki, Izuku really hadn’t thought about it again. If he was being honest with himself, he figured two surgeries was truly an anomaly and the doctors should have actually been able to fix him the second time around.

Obviously he should never have thought that. Because like Aizawa-sensei liked to call him, he was a problem child for a reason.

So thinking of it that way, maybe he shouldn’t have been surprised when he woke up one morning to find red chrysanthemum petals and small white petals that smelled strongly of oranges on his pillow.

Izuku will admit to the panic that settled deep in the pit of his stomach. How could he not panic? This was his third time actually growing flowers in his chest. And at seventeen, it wasn’t like this was a common occurance anymore. Even less so when he’d already had two surgeries.

He scooped the petals off the pillow and quickly made his way to his toilet to flush the things away. His mind raced with so many thoughts he didn’t know which one to stick with. Should he tell his teachers? All Might or Aizawa-sensei, perhaps?

But he knew what they would say. They would lay out his options clearly. Report to Recovery Girl so she could give him an actual diagnosis and the earliest he could have the removal surgery, or that he should just man up and tell whoever he was in love with the truth.

Which would be easier said than done. Because not only was Izuku old enough to realize who the flowers were for, he was also old enough to realize all his flowers had been for the same person.

Kacchan. It’s always been Kacchan.

And honestly, for as smart as Izuku liked to think he was, he should’ve realized this sooner. Because the only person he’s ever felt strong feelings for, and then had them grow back stronger, was Katsuki.

He felt a tickle in the back of his throat just at the thought. Izuku ignored it in favor of splashing cold water on his face.

Logically he knew the best thing to do would be to inform Aizawa-sensei of his current condition. From there though? He supposed surgery would be the easiest route. In his experiences so far they hadn’t actually done much to harm his emotions or memories. It was more like it placed a certain glass panel between him and the part of his love that grew out of control.

The first surgery had made everything new again. It had felt like starting from scratch and re-learning why he thought Kacchan was amazing. The second one hadn’t felt quite like that. It was more like his feelings had been tweaked. He was able to be a better friend. Paying more attention without the bittersweet ache of wondering if Kacchan would ever actually be friends with him again.

This time would probably be the same, right?

It was a mildly comforting thought. And it was enough to ease the phantom feeling of petals in his throat and roots curling around his lungs.

School that day was rough. Not only because he was trying to keep his hanahaki a secret, but because he knew that Kacchan knew he was hiding something. The other teen might not have said anything to him about it, but he kept sending aggravated looks toward him all day.

For once though, Kacchan was the easiest person to deal with. It was Uraraka and Iida who wouldn’t leave him alone. Both of his friends could tell that he wasn’t feeling well, and kept pushing him to tell them what was wrong. There was only so many times he could say he was ‘just under the weather’ before it started sounding like the lie it was. Thankfully Momo was always keeping a close eye on everyone and could tell that Izuku needed some space. She tactfully drew Uraraka and Iida away so Izuku could sneak away to his room.

It was only by sheer luck that Izuku managed to not burst into coughs until his bedroom door was closed. He didn’t make it to the toilet before he was hacking up all the petals that had grown over the course of the day. All the petals rubbed his throat raw.

He didn’t even understand how petals could hurt this much.

And this is still only the beginning. It’ll get worse once the roots start digging in and start causing the bleeding. Not to mention that when things get too backed up everything is going to trigger the vomiting, which really won’t help anything. Judging by how I couldn’t keep my condition a secret last time, and how I have people who will actually take a note on my wellbeing, I’d say I can keep this a secret for maybe twelve more hours. Tops. Less so if I have to lie to someone. Maybe I should just go to Recovery Girl tonight. Nobody would think of it too much. Especially with how I haven’t been well today. But if I tell Recovery Girl there’s no doubt she’ll let Aizawa-sensei know. Or even All Might. And am I ready for them to know the secret? I’m not -

Pounding on his door broke his attention and startled him out of his thoughts. “Oi. Fucking nerd. Open the goddamn door already.”

Panic struck Izuku even deeper than it did this morning. Anyone would have been better than Kacchan right now. Todoroki, Kaminara, Uraraka, even freaking Mineta would be better than Kacchan being outside his door. Because he hadn’t cleaned up the flowers yet. And if Kacchan saw them…

“I swear to god, Deku, if you don’t open this fucking door!” Izuku cringed at the unfinished threat.

“O-one minute, Kacchan!” Izuku hurried to sweep all the petals underneath his bed. Maybe it wasn’t the best hiding place, but surely it would do until he could get Kacchan to leave him alone, right?

Wrong. So very wrong. Because the second he opened the door Kacchan was pushing his way into the room, Kacchan’s red eyes locked on a stray petal and his lips curled back in a snarl.

“What the fuck, Deku?”

“I-i-it’s nothing, K-kacchan! Just a random petal that flew in when I opened my window this morning. I must have forgotten to pick it up.” Izuku cringed as the sweet smell of nitroglycerin seemed to waft through the room. Kacchan didn’t even respond to him. He only wrapped a warm hand around his wrist and dragged him out of the room.

It was obviously a disturbing sight to their classmates, who immediately jumped up trying to find some way to diffuse the situation, but the blonde teen only glared at them and dragged Izuku out of the dorms and straight to the teacher’s dorms. Izuku was blushing and stuttering to all the startled teachers, but Kacchan didn’t say anything until he came to Aizawa-sensei’s room.

Their teacher looked at them with a single raised eyebrow like he couldn’t even bring himself to be surprised at the scene. Which he probably couldn’t, now that Izuku thought about it.

Kacchan pushed him forward until he was standing in the middle of the teacher’s room. The blonde crossed his arms expectantly, a very pissed off expression on his face. If Izuku looked hard enough, he could almost pretend he saw something akin to worry underneath the death glare.

“Problem child. You want to explain what’s happening?”

“Ah. It’s nothing serious, sensei. Just a misunderstanding and Kacchan over reacting.”

“Fuck that! I’m not fucking overreacting to shit!” Aizawa gave him a very unimpressed look. “If you don’t fucking tell him, Deku, then I will.

Izuku sighed and ran a hand over his face. He didn’t want to explain. He didn’t even want anyone to find out. Of course, that would be the perfect time for his body to betray him, just as it had done in the past. So when he found himself coughing and a few red petals escaped his mouth, he didn’t even try denying it’s existence to either Kacchan or Aizawa.

They all watched the small petals flutter to the ground silently. For Izuku it certainly felt like a death sentence.

And as it turned out, maybe it was. After Aizawa-sensei finally could comprehend what was happening, he had dragged both of the students to the infirmary, where Recovery Girl looked simultaneously fed up and devastated as she went over all of Izuku’s medical history.

Kacchan stood stiffly next to Izuku. One of his hands never left the green haired boy’s shoulder, and it was difficult for Izuku to not melt a little closer to his childhood friend.

“Midoriya.”

“Yes, Recovery Girl?”

“Do you know what your options are?”

He nodded his head. “Surgery or confession.”

Recovery Girl set the folder down on her table slowly. She made sure to look at him in the eye, completely disregarding the other two present in the room. “In the very basic form, yes. You will either need to have the surgery, or you will have to confess to the person you love. Each option has a drawback though.”

A bad feeling wormed its way into Izuku’s stomach at her words. Kacchan was the one who spoke up though. His words came out through gritted teeth. “What drawbacks?”

The woman pinched the bridge of her nose. She was quiet for a moment, just breathing, before she looked up again. “Let me be blunt, Midoriya-kun. You’ve had this surgery twice already. Each time, the surgeons who performed the procedure have cut away the parts that were infected. The goal of this surgery is to remove the flowers as well as what makes them grow.”

“But mine grew back?”

“Yes. Which means that they left a small section of what they needed to remove in order for you to still feel love again. In your case, they did this twice in the hopes that you would still be able to lead a normal life. It’s common practice, especially for children who develop Hanahaki.”

It was very quiet in the room. Aizawa-sensei went rigid, his eyes narrowing as he seemed to grasp what she was saying. Kacchan’s hand on his shoulder was tense, but Izuku wasn’t sure what was happening. He looked back and forth between the three helplessly.

“Recovery Girl. Are you saying,” Aizawa-sensei said. “That if Midoriya has the surgery again, they will effectively remove his ability to love?”

The woman nodded slowly. “Yes. That’s right. It would also remove whatever lingering affection he had in his memories of this person completely.”

Almost distantly he heard Kacchan’s rough voice speak up. “So then that leaves confession as an option still, right?”

“Yes. But again, it’s not as simple as it would have been. I said the previous surgeries left a small area available for blooming, correct? In order for a bloom to grow in such a limited space, your feelings must be incredibly strong. And in order for the flowers to stop blooming, the strength of your feelings must be matched.”

Matched? He thought. As in, they must be requited? As in not only did he have to confess his feelings, but Kacchan needed to love him back?

Izuku swore he could feel roots squeezing his lungs and flowers were pushing their way up his throat. Because suddenly he couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t manage to gasp or choke out the flowers because he couldn’t-shouldn’t-wouldn’t tell Kacchan this. He can’t.

Firm hands pounded against his back, and then rubbed soothing circles in between his shoulder blades and the base of his neck. The warm fingers helped soothe the ache his coughing fit had caused. But he was left staring at the mix of red and white petals, the physical manifestation of how deep and unrequited his love went.

He knew everyone in the room was watching him. He knew they were talking about options. He thought he caught snippets of the conversation. Surgery. Medicine. Alternate plans. For the life of him though, he couldn’t find a way to make sense of it.

Because if the options were to have the surgery and lose everything that had helped him become who he was, or confessing to Kacchan, who would no doubt take up the burden and force himself into loving Izuku, there was really only one option, right? He couldn’t put Kacchan into a position like that.

“How long do I have, Recovery Girl?”

The entire room seemed to freeze. Even Kacchan’s hands which were always warm-bordering-on-hot seemed cold at that moment. Three pairs of wide eyes turned to look at him, but all he could do was stare at the petals in his hands. Who knew something so beautiful could truly be so deadly?

Recovery Girl placed a hand on his, not bothering to shy away from the flower petals. “Based on how fast your last bout spread, I’d say six months. Give or take depending on how well you stick to a medication schedule. You should think this through, child. Weigh the options you have before choosing an end.”

Izuku nodded, but he knew that he wouldn’t change his mind. How could he?

Word of his condition spread quickly. He wasn’t sure why it surprised him so much. The kids in his year, particularly his class, were such gossips. It didn’t take long before his friends were constantly hounding him for information. Even kids in other classes - cough, he was definitely looking at Monoma on this one - joined in.

It was only Kacchan’s signature I’ll-kill-you-where-you-stand glare that kept everyone at bay. And Izuku was grateful for it. Truly. Even if it meant Kacchan was always around now and it made his chest tighter and caused more petals for him to cough up everyday.

It was four and a half months after his ‘official’ diagnosis that Izuku found himself hospitalized. He remembered sitting in class, laughing with Ochako and Iida about Kaminari’s latest story about how he was certain Aizawa-sensei and Present Mic were dating. Katsuki had come in halfway through and sat beside Izuku. He’d slung a careless arm around Izuku’s shoulders and pulled him in.

Izuku had coughed up a few petals, but something wasn’t right. His face went red as he tried to force whatever was stuck in his throat out. Kacchan’s hand pounded against his back, and a few white flowers escaped. Someone brought a bucket over and he hurled into it.

The smell of stomach acid was enough to make his eyes burn. He saw more petals - red and white alike - and they were all spotted with blood. But there was still something there. Something that was caught and wouldn’t come out.

His breathing was coming in gasps and he couldn’t help panicking. He only barely managed to finally get the flower out, whole and more than half of the pretty red petals covered in a layer of blood.

His next thoughts came unbidden to him when he woke in a very familiar white room.

Who knew chrysanthemums were so big? It’s amazing I haven’t already suffocated from them. Though I guess I almost did already? I must have passed out. That would explain why I’m in the hospital. I must have really scared Uraraka.

A snort echoed through the room. Izuku looked up to find Kacchan in the doorway. “Round Face almost passed out with you. Four Eyes had to get her out of the room to remind her to fucking breathe because she kept hyperventilating.”

Izuku cringed. “She’s gonna be pissed once she stops being a mother hen.”

Kacchan hummed, finally crossing the room and plopping himself into the chair by the bed. To the untrained eye, the blonde looked the same as usual. Arrogant, annoyed, and like he couldn’t wait to get out of here.

Izuku knew Kacchan better than that though, so it was easy to see the worry and care behind his aggressive mood.

“Who gave you the flowers, Deku?”

The sudden question sent him into a coughing fit. Luckily only smaller chrysanthemums and tiny orange blossoms came up. He looked at Katsuki with wide eyes. “What?”

Kacchan scowled. “You fucking heard me, shitty nerd. Who gave you the damn flowers?”

“It doesn’t matter, Kacchan.”

A small explosion set off from Kacchan’s hands and he cursed as he tried to wipe the excess sweat from his palms. “Like fuck it doesn’t. You’re dying, Deku.”

“He- they don’t love me, Kacchan. Not like I love them.”

“Then get the goddamn surgery!”

Izuku shook his head. “I can’t! I won’t forget what it’s like to love. I can’t lose that, Kacchan. It will take away everything that makes me who I am!”

It was a good thing they were in the hospital and Izuku was hooked up to an oxygen machine. Because just the thought of having the surgery again - removing all his feelings and the way he felt about Kacchan - it sent him into another fit.

His throat burned and he could taste the coppery tang of blood behind his teeth. Kacchan was staring at him, expression completely wrecked and for the first time since he’d gotten the news about how he was going to die, Izuku felt helpless.

One of Kacchan’s hands came up and twisted itself into Izuku’s green curls at the nape of his neck. Kacchan tugged him closer, so their foreheads touched lightly.

“Please, ‘Zuku. Just tell me who it is.”

Izuku shook his head, slightly. “I can’t, Kacchan. I don’t want to put them into a spot like that. To either force them to love me or to watch me die by my own feelings. That’s just cruel.”

Kacchan made a choked sound. The fingers in his hair tightened their grip as Kacchan pulled back, a devastated and angry expression on his face. “What about me, then, nerd? You’re just gonna let me watch the man I love wither away while he pines over someone who’s not even here?”

The silence that followed Kacchan’s statement was heavy. Made even heavier by the fact that Izuku could feel his brain trying to reboot itself. He just couldn’t compute the last sentence.

You’re just gonna let me watch the man I love wither away… Watch the man I love wither… The man I love…

“Love?”

Kacchan let out a growl. “Of course love. It’s not like it’s a secret, shitty nerd. Everyone in our class knows. Now tell me who’s ass I have to kick so I don’t develop another case of Hanahaki as I watch you die.

It was all too much. How close they were. How honest Kacchan’s words were. How real his confession was. Izuku felt the flowers pushing their way up his throat and he didn’t even care about how much it hurt.

He was mumbling under his breath, but he knew Katsuki heard him when he whispered, “You, Katsuki. It’s always been you.” They made eye contact and Izuku gave a small and vulnerable smile. “I love you. And you really, really love me, ‘Suki?”

Kacchan’s response was to lean over and whisper ‘Izuku’ in his ear before their lips met in a soft kiss.

It took a week and a half for all the flowers in Izuku’s chest to disappear. During that time he remained in the hospital with Recovery Girl casting him knowing looks. Those looks turned gentle when a certain abrasive blonde boy showed up with notes and school work every day. She couldn’t fight the smile whenever the young couple shared a chaste kiss when they thought she wasn’t looking.

Nobody in their class could even be surprised when Izuku and Kacchan walked in hand and hand. Though they did let out whoops and cheers when Katsuki leaned over and kissed Izuku firmly on the mouth in the middle of the doorway.

Izuku couldn’t find it in himself to be mad about the PDA. Not when every kiss seemed so sweet and he’d finally gotten rid of his flowers for good.