Katsuki sits at the kitchen table surrounded by idiots, bouncing his legs below the table and trying his hardest not to let the others notice.
He’s playing some card game called ‘Bullshit’, and it suits the losers perfectly, Denki trying to do tarot readings with the discard pile, and Mina breaking into fits of laughter every time she tries to lie. Hanta is the only one who actually knows how to play, but a two-person card game is boring.
Katsuki wishes Eijirou was there.
He’s been gone three days, the long weekend the perfect time for him to go visit his moms in Chiba Prefecture. He should have come back an hour ago, but he hasn’t. And he isn’t answering Katsuki’s text messages either.
Katsuki isn’t one to worry. He’s never worried before, and he’s not the person to micromanage their significant other, but fuck that shitty-haired redhead for being radio silent for the entire weekend, leaving Katsuki to worry something bad happened.
“-gou! Bakugou! ” Katsuki shoots a glare across the table, and Denki looks back unphased, a mound of cards splayed out in front of him. He grins from ear to ear. “Pick three cards, but don’t flip them over.”
“Fuck off, Pikachu.”
Hanta whistles at the tension. “Relax, dude, he’s just trying to have some fun.”
“Don’t give a shit.” Katsuki’s eyes flick to the door before glancing back to the group.
Mina catches it, though, and leans back in her chair. She crosses her arms and looks smugly around the table. “Go easy on him guys, he’s going through Kirishima withdrawals.”
Hanta wipes a fake tear from his eye as Denki pouts his lips. “It’s okay, baby,” Denki says. “He’s probably not gonna find someone else on his trip home.”
“Yeah! The guy only likes assholes, and-”
“-there’s not an asshole bigger than you!”
Katsuki slams his hands on the tabletop and pushes himself up from his chair, which nearly falls back from the force. “Will you damn pissants just shut the fuck-”
The front door opens, and Katsuki’s gaze whips over to it instantly. Eijirou’s in the entry, slipping off his shoes with his eyes trained on the staircase in the farthest corner of the communal area. There’s a bandana around his head and a bulking plastic bag in his hand, his knuckles white from the grip. The moment his shoes are off, he barrels across the carpet, not even sparing a glance towards his friends.
And Katsuki says nothing as Kirishima jumps over the couch, scaring Hagakure out of her nap, and bolts for the stairs, taking them two by two. He says nothing because he’s too stunned.
He stares and hears a slow, soft chorus of whistles around him. He looks back at his idiots and watches their pursed lips and quirked or furrowed eyebrows and fits his own face into a scowl. “What?” he grits through clenched teeth.
Denki blinks, shakes his head and says, “Nothin’,” before sticking out his deck of cards once more. “Pick a card, Bakugou.”
“Why the fuck would I-”
“-’cause Kirishima rushing in and ignoring us is weird, and you need to calm down before you do something stupid. Okay?” Mina leans into the table and gestures to the cards in Denki’s hands. “So pick a damn card, Blasty.”
Begrudgingly, he does. He grabs a stupid card, and he knows his hands are shaking. He’s pissed because he knows Eijirou said he’d be too busy to text over the weekend, but he’d text him when he headed back to the dorm. And he didn’t, leaving Katsuki nervous that a villain got him, or… or maybe someone kidnapped him.
Denki takes the card from his hand, and Katsuki sits back down in his chair. He glares down at the table, trying to think and regain his composure, missing Eijirou running down the stairs and into the bathrooms with a bucket in his hands.
Denki flips it over and grins down at the Queen of Hearts. “The Lovers!” he says, like a damn playing card has the same symbolism as a tarot card. Denki reaches across the table and grabs Katsuki’s hand, which Katsuki yanks away from. “I predict,” Denki continues, unphased. “That you will have a beautiful, happy relationship for ever and ever.”
Hanta scrunches his nose. “That sounds like a load of-”
“-A load of truth,” Mina finishes, accented by a yelp from Hanta as he reaches beneath the table to rub his calf.
The bathroom door slams shut and all four snap their heads towards the sound. Eijirou’s at the door, a bucket full of water in his hand and a forced, nervous smile on his face. His hair cascades over his eyes. He looks like a dork.
“Yo, Kiri, what’s with running through and not saying hello? We’re not important to you anymore, bro?” Mina smacks Denki in the head while Eijirou laughs uncomfortably. He bites his lip and shifts his weight between his socked feet.
“H-hey, Katsuki!” He says, and Katsuki snaps his gaze up from the carpet.
“Um, do you wanna come over and watch a movie tonight?”
Katsuki narrows his gaze, and Eijirou reddens. “Is this some kinda apology for not texting me all weekend?”
Eijirou’s eyes get wide, and his lips part like he wants to argue but doesn’t know what to say. There’s a light blush on his cheeks, but his gaze quickly turns away from Katsuki towards the stairs. “I’m, uh- I’m sorry.” He looks back to his boyfriend. “Just come up to my room in three hours, okay?”
“I’ll make it up to you!” And then he’s running again, his room presumably the goal. As Katsuki watches him skip steps, water sloshing over the bucket rim, the rest of the idiots watch, too.
There’s undoubtedly anger in his heart, his head. But more than that, it’s an aching feeling. When Eijirou has gone, Katsuki sits back down in his chair and glares at the Kitchen’s tiled floor with furrowed brows and a deep-set frown.
“So, uh,” Hanta starts, his voice jarring against the silence Katsuki has been trying to savor. The group looks over at Hanta, Katsuki included. “He’s being weird, right? Like, we’re agreeing on that?”
A hard smack to the shoulder has Katsuki jerking his head toward Mina, who looks at him like he stomped on a kitten. “What?” He snapped.
“Go after him!”
Katsuki snorts. “The fuck are you talking about? He said three hours.”
“So, I’m actually trying to be a decent fucking person for once and give my boyfriend the time he asked for! Y’know, even though I’m kinda goddamn pissed off that he’s clearly hiding something.”
“Oh my god, you can’t be serious.” Denki groans. He leans across the table so that his face is inches from Katsuki’s—it’s seconds from getting smacked into the tabletop. “Who cares if you’re a shitty person? We’re all kinda shitty, so will you please go check on him?”
Katsuki looks around the table at his friends’ pleading smiles. He scoffs and smirks because they look pathetic. He doesn’t like that they make it sound like Katsuki doesn’t want to.
Obviously, he’s concerned about Eijirou. That is his boyfriend, and his boyfriend is running around, avoiding them like he’s trying to hide a dead body or stash a duffle bag of cash he got from looting the local bank. His smile falls; his fingers grip the arms of the chair like letting go is a death sentence.
Is he okay?
Katsuki rises without words, immediately shoving his hands in his pockets because he doesn’t want them to see the fists, to see how agitated he feels. Mina shouts something about him ‘goin’ and gettin’ his mans’.
It’s all background noise. He doesn’t really pay attention as he climbs the stairs, his only focus being on the threadbare carpet beneath his feet and Eijirou all the way up on the fourth floor. He bumps into someone halfway up the staircase who calls after him.
Katsuki doesn’t respond.
And then he’s at Eijirou’s door and can hear him humming on the other side of the wall. Katsuki clenches his jaw, presses his tongue to the roof of his mouth, and raps his knuckles just below the nameplate. “Oi, Ei!”
A clatter comes from inside the room, and Katsuki’s heart jumps inside his chest. It’s like his anxiety has just somersaulted over his heart before strangling it within an inch of its life.
“EI!” He shouts, voice caught halfway in his throat. He grabs for the handle because he’s still waiting for an answer that isn’t coming, and he’s too fucking worried to wait, and tries to force the door open.
“EI, OPEN THE DOOR!”
“Katsuki, I’m- I’m fine!” Eijirou shouts back, but sounds shaken. Katsuki drives his shoulder into the door over and over and over. It’s bruising, it burns, but he doesn’t stop.
“Ei, open the damn door! What’re you doing in there?”
“Don’t say nothin’ when-” He jams his entire upper body into the door and it doesn’t budge. “When you’ve got me and the damn idiots freaked out.” He goes for the door again, and it opens into Eijirou’s dimly lit room. But Katsuki’s got his momentum built up and stumbles in with his eyes wide and searching.
When he halts and jerks back to the entrance to find his boyfriend closing the door, he’s taken back. Eijirou has changed into ratty sweatpants and a t-shirt. His hair is up in multiple clips. Red dye drenches his head, soaks his mop of wet hair, and stains his face and shoulders. His left eye is half-closed, but from what Katsuki sees, it’s aggressively red and watery.
Eijirou blinks, and a tear cascades down his cheek to meld with red. Katsuki thinks it’s pain, moves in and reaches for Kirishima’s cheeks, and the moment skin meets wet, Eijirou breaks. Tears dribble down his cheek.
Katsuki gulps, uncomfortable but anxious. He clicks his tongue and drags Eijirou further into the room, which has always looked bright and colorful enough to give Katsuki a headache.
But now his main issue is the bucket of water by the mirror and the overturned cup of hair dye, the remaining contents soaking into the floorboards. Katsuki watches it like it’s the enemy, like turning away would cause some sort of tragedy. “Go sit down,” he says, and releases Eijirou’s hand. He grabs the overturned cup off the ground and sets it on the table before grabbing a towel off the dresser and dipping it in the bucket of clean water in the corner.
When he turns back, Eijirou looks defeated. He bows his head, hunches his shoulders. It’s like he’s trying to make himself small and unnoticeable.
Katsuki doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t understand why dying his hair is something to cry over.
He doesn’t understand the tears for any reason other than his aggravated, red eye.
Katsuki kneels in front of him, one hand on Eijirou’s knee and the other dabbing the damp towel against his eye. In place of uncomfortable silence, he sighs, “So you dye your hair, huh?”
Katsuki wonders if his voice comes out too harshly, because Eijirou releases a small, shaky breath and bites his lip with sharp, sharp teeth. “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you fucking do it in the bathroom? This place is a mess,” Katsuki laughs. Maybe he thought it would lighten the mood, get Eijirou out of this weird funk, but it doesn’t. Katsuki watches a red-tinted tear drop to Eijirou’s sweatpants and darken the fabric. He stares, scowls so deeply he’d bet it would turn anyone ‘Not-Eijirou’ to stone, then grabs his boyfriend’s chin and guides his gaze towards him. “What’s wrong?”
“-Ei, be serious! You’re crying over convenience store hair dye like-”
“-I look pathetic!” Eijirou watches him now without help for a few seconds, then bows his head back down; his lip trembles. He laughs and shrugs his shoulders while tears fall down his cheek. He acts like that’s it, like that’s a fact, and Katsuki has no chance arguing with it.
And when Katsuki tries to, it’s pointless. Eijirou knows him too well, knows not to give him the chance to speak until he’s done. “Fuck,” he hisses, rubbing his arm against wet eyes. It comes away smeared in red. “This isn’t manly.”
“Ei, what the hell are you talking about?”
Katsuki, still kneeling on the ground, rests his shaking hand on Eijirou’s knees. He’s not sure if they shake from frustration, or because Eijirou’s never cried like this.
Eijirou clasps his hands in his lap and looks down at them, avoiding Katsuki’s gaze once more. “I didn’t want anyone knowing I dye my hair.”
“Why would it-”
“-It matters because it’s my- well, um- it makes me feel stronger, more manly.” He flicks his gaze up to Katsuki and clenches his jaw. He breathes in deeply, and says, “When I was in middle school, I was so… so weak, y’know? My quirk isn’t that great, and- and my hair was black. I looked ordinary, and I acted ordinary. I wanted to be a hero, but I couldn’t get myself to act when people were in trouble, and if I did, the-”
He untangles his hands and clenches them. A teardrop falls on the knuckle, then rolls down the back of his hand. Katsuki holds it, rubs the fist like he’s expecting it to make Eijirou relax.
But Eijirou only tightens them.
“The bullies would only laugh if I tried, y’know? And- and the more I tried to help, the more annoyed they got. I became a target. They- they would remind me of how useless my quirk was, how easy I was to beat in a fight. They- they called me useless.”
And Katsuki freezes, the word a warning or an omen. The thumb that’s been stroking Eijirou’s hand stops. He bites the inside of his cheek and meets Eijirou’s eyes, but he’s not sure Eijirou can see him through the tears. When he speaks, his voice wavers with every word. “You don’t understand what that did to me, what it does to people. I- I’ve got so many friends now,” he says. Eijirou lifts a hand and brushes Katsuki’s cheek. “And a boyfriend, and I don’t want to lose it.”
“...Ei. You won’t lose anyone.”
Eijirou laughs. It’s heavy, weighed down with pain he’s not sharing. “You don’t know that. And even if you’re right, you can’t expect me to just believe it. I wasn’t special, I wasn’t strong or smart. My quirk isn’t anything great, and I’m reminded of it every day. So- so, you can’t tell me that’s not true, because getting told that you’re useless, and that you’ll never be the only thing you’ve ever wanted to be every damn day of your life… it changes your perspective even after it stops. It doesn’t go away.
“The red hair makes me feel like a better person. A stronger person. The moment everyone knows, the illusion brakes, and I’m a pathetic, useless kid again.”
And Katsuki freezes in place, looking up at the tears cascading down his boyfriend’s cheeks. His heart yells at him to offer soft, sweet words and assurances that Eijirou is loved and treasured and that his fear has no place in the future; but then there’s his mind, screaming and warning against it because Katsuki has no right to comfort him.
You’re the one who calls people useless, it says. You crushed people’s dreams and made them fear chasing them. The fuck are you allowed to do? Comfort one victim while your own live their lives doubting their worth. How can you tell Ei he doesn’t deserve it, while you let others keep on believing they do?
The only one worthless here is you.
Katsuki bites hard on the inside of his cheek as he watches Eijirou look at him for a hug, a kiss, or something to let him know it would all be okay. And Katsuki can’t give it to him because he doesn’t deserve to. Instead, he releases a heavy breath through flaring nostrils and rises to his feet. Eijirou watches as Katsuki grabs the towel from the bedside and brushes a finger under his boyfriend’s chin. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Katsuki washes the stained floorboards, wipes the tears and dye from Eijirou’s eyes, and helps him finish the job.
And then he leaves.
He only goes next door, but he doesn’t come out for dinner and he doesn’t return to Eijirou’s room for the movie they planned to watch together. He doesn’t answer texts, or calls, or knocks on his door.
Instead, Katsuki stays awake until midnight, thinking of Eijirou’s confession. His words are still fresh in Katsuki’s mind. Every time he remembers Eijirou saying the word ‘useless’, his heart aches, then plummets. There is a sense of guilt and dread inside him that he hasn’t experienced since the Kamino Ward Incident, where All Might lost his power.
And then his mind is on Midoriya Izuku with One for All and memories of the same harassment, the same bullying that made his own boyfriend so doubtful of his own ability. It keeps him awake for hours more. When the sun finally rises, bathing his room in streaks of morning light, he hasn’t slept a wink.
By now, he’s been thinking I fucked up. I fucked up bad, for hours because he knows in his heart that if Eijirou knew what he’d done in the past, how aggressive his relationship with Midoriya had really been, then Eijirou wouldn’t want his comfort.
He wouldn’t want Katsuki.
He forces himself to get up and go to class. Eijirou’s still upset, he can tell upon entering the classroom. His hair is as red as ever, but loose and limp around his head. Small, dark bags around his eyes make him look sick.
Katsuki doesn’t look much better.
When Eijirou looks up from the desk where his hands squeeze the edge, he smiles hesitantly, and Katsuki can’t bear it. He knows it wouldn’t be there if he knew the truth. Katsuki bites his lip and rushes to his chair. For the rest of the day, as Aizawa draws on in front of the class about the principles of calling for back-up and how much he doesn’t want to be here, Eijirou tries to catch his gaze, and Katsuki denies him.
In fact, when the final bell rings and Eijirou gets up from his desk with his eyebrows furrowed and his soft, perfect lips carved into a frown, Katsuki panics. His boyfriend weaves between the desks, getting closer with his hands squeezing his backpack strap. Katsuki can’t talk to him now because the moment he does, the moment they talk about last night, Katsuki will lose him.
He loves Eijirou. He’s the only boy who’s ever made Katsuki smile on the daily, and the only one he wants to go to on a bad day for no other reason than a hug. And he’s not ready to lose that.
Katsuki slams his hand on the desk behind him, and whips his gaze to Izuku, who’s watching him with startled eyes and a gaping mouth. “K-Kacchan?”
“I need to talk to you.” He gets up and grabs Izuku’s wrist, forcing him up and out of the classroom to a chorus of their friends’ questions.
He doesn’t know where he’s going. Halfway up the stairs, Katsuki pauses and looks around. He hears people laughing in the distance and shakes his head. And then Izuku’s tugging him forward, up the stairs and around the corner. Izuku seems to know where he’s going, and Katsuki feels exhausted. For once, he lets Izuku take the lead, and he guides him into an empty classroom on the top floor—it looks like administration hasn’t used it for years. And yet, Izuku acts like he knows the place intimately. He closes the door behind Katsuki, then saunters over to the front of the room.
He hops onto the teachers’ desk and looks back at Katsuki like he’s waiting on something. The soft smile on his face looks like it’s meant to be comforting, but Katsuki just feels like he’s being picked apart. He’s always hated how Izuku can drive him out of his comfort zone.
“So, what’s wrong?”
The question jostles Katsuki, removes him from his thoughts and makes him glare ahead with not an inkling on where to go from here. “Nothing’s fucking wrong,” he snaps back, defensively.
Izuku doesn’t flinch at it. He nods, then leans back and kicks his feet against the desk. There’s a steady rhythm to it, a soft one that makes Katsuki’s eyes droop. He’s tired, he’s mentally exhausted, and he doesn’t know what to do or what to say.
“If nothing’s wrong, do you just want to hang out? Y’know, silently.”
Compassion bleeds from those words, but it turns to frustration by the time they reach Katsuki’s ears. He clenches his fists and leans back on a student desk. His eyes burn from sleep deprivation and inner turmoil. He can feel the shaking in his arms, his legs, and the knot growing in his throat. “Why…” he starts, the rest of the sentence lost to him. “Why would you say that?”
“I don’t get it! Deku, why the fuck are you being nice to me? Why should you even give a damn about why I’m upset?” Katsuki slams his fist on the desk, then pushes off it and stumbles to the window. Sunlight hits him, the warmth of its rays on his face. He needed something warm, something calming.
He grips the windowsill and looks out on the schoolyard; In the kids chatting by the fountain and the mass pilgrimage of 2-A to their dorm building, Eijirou is a speck trailing behind the rest. Katsuki grits his teeth and looks down. Two dead flies lie there, shriveled up. He feels like a dead fly.
An enormous sigh cuts the silence behind him. Izuku says, “Kacchan, I’m confused. We’ve been friends for months now. Why shouldn’t I care when you’re upset?”
“Because…” Katsuki falters. His teeth hurt, clenched so firmly, but it’s the only thing keeping him grounded. He bumps his head against the window’s cool glass and forces himself to continue, even if the words make his eyes well up with angry tears. “Because I hurt you.”
“Kacchan, if this is about spraining my wrist in the last sparring-”
“-It’s not fucking about that!” He turns back and watches Izuku, the curious look on his face and the worry reflected in his eyes. Katsuki inhales deeply, tries to lower his escalating volume. “It’s- fuck, Deku, I call you useless .”
And Izuku’s expression drops. His eyes face the ground, and his feet stop bouncing against the desk’s front panel. “Oh.”
“To be entirely honest, Kacchan, I worked really hard to move past this. I’ve already forgiven you for middle school, so we don’t need to talk about-”
“-Did it affect you?” Katsuki grits. “Did- Did you doubt your worth coming into Yuuei, or felt like you weren’t worth the space or energy teaching how to be a hero?”
Izuku fiddles with his thumbs. “Kacchan, I don’t see the point in me telling you. Why is it so import-”
Katsuki’s at the desk before Izuku can finish the last syllable, grabbing Izuku’s shoulders. It leaves a startled expression on his face, but Katsuki’s not sure if it’s because of the sudden contact or the fact that he can clearly see the hot tears tracing Katsuki’s cheeks. “It’s important because I’ve fucking hurt you. I’ve hurt you, and- and Ei is-”
Clammy, calloused hands grab onto Katsuki’s face. There’s a frustrated, concerned scowl in place of Izuku’s typically kind expression. “What’s wrong with Kirishima?”
Katsuki blinks. He doesn’t know how to phrase it, or how to apologize for what he did to Izuku when, deep down, the reason for caring at all is his boyfriend.
His sweet, all-loving boyfriend.
Katsuki’s breath comes out labored. He tries to gulp, but his throat is as dry as his face is wet. “Ei… he’s- fuck Deku, he’s the same as you.”
Izuku blinks, taken aback. “The same as me?”
Katsuki pushes away from Izuku, stumbles down from the teacher’s raised platform, and takes a seat at a dusty student desk. Someone carved ‘TM + AT Forever’ in the wood. Katsuki puts his elbow over it and looks back over at his rival-turned-therapist. “Ei is freaked out. He- he doesn’t think he deserves to be here because he’s not flashy enough or strong enough to be a hero. He thinks his Quirk isn’t good enough. He- he thinks he’s worthless.”
“But he’s not,” Izuku adds, and Katsuki almost laughs through the exhaustion and the sadness, because they finally agree on one thing.
“But that’s what he was told in middle school. They called him useless, said he looked boring. They tried to convince him that his quirk was useless, basic, and that he could never be a hero, and…”
Katsuki picks at the desk’s wood top with his fingernail. He looks down at it, looks back up at Izuku, who is observing him concernedly, and sighs. “And that’s what I did to you.”
“They called him useless. I called you useless. They fought him to prove his quirk wasn’t shit, and I pushed you around to remind you that you were a little, Quirkless shit who didn’t deserve a pedestal. They told him he couldn’t be a hero, and I… I told you quirkless people can’t be heroes. I told you to jump off a fucking roof! How? How could I fucking do that?
“‘Cause I am so- so fucking in love with Ei, and the thought of someone doing that to him makes me sick to my stomach, but I did the same to someone else! He cried last night. He looked to me to tell him that none of that was true, and I couldn’t say anything because for the first goddamn time in my life, I felt like a shit-eating hypocrite. I- I couldn’t just comfort him knowing you’re out here thinking the same as him, because- because then if I told him he didn’t deserve it, the words lose their fucking meaning.”
“-Kacchan, I don’t think-”
“-And if he knew,” Katsuki mutters. He heaves a breath, and his exhale is as terrifyingly shaky as his resolve. He feels scared; he feels pathetic. He feels like he’s about to lose the most important person in his life. “If he knew, he’d hate me, and I can’t live with that.
“I can’t lose him.”
The conversation halts.
It’s the first silence in what feels like forever. He hears the chatter out the windows, and he’s grateful for the white noise. It means his attention isn’t entirely on the puddles of tears soaking into the wooden desk, turning it dark.
Then Izuku’s clunky red shoes hit the ground. Katsuki counts the steps until Izuku stops in front of his desk—eleven steps total—and bends down to look him eye to eye. “Kacchan,” he whispers softly. Katsuki won’t look at him. He can’t let people see him like this anymore. He doesn’t want anyone to see his face streaked with anymore tears. He’ll wait until Izuku’s gone.
“Kacchan, I forgave you forever ago. It was wrong, and it hurt, but I know that’s not the only thing you know how to do. You know how to care about people, and you show it in your actions, not your words. So, I don’t think Kirishima would feel as upset about the fact that you did something bad in the past. I bet he’s more heartbroken that you’re avoiding him.”
“You don’t get it.”
“I do,” Izuku smiles. “I know it’s hard being the victim of some intense bullying. It hurts, and it messes with your brain, and your thoughts. But it’s not forever. It goes away with support, and it sounds like Kirishima’s just been holding onto this alone for too long. You need to talk to him. Tell him why you were ignoring him, and why you’re sorry.”
And against his better judgement, his fear and embarrassment, Katsuki finally looks up.
Izuku smiles at him like the conversation barely affected him. He looks as bright and cheerful as he did this morning at breakfast. When he smiles, he genuinely makes it seem like the years of torture had meant nothing.
Katsuki wishes that were enough to satiate his nerves. “What if he doesn’t forgive me?”
“How the hell do you know?”
Izuku sets his hand on top of Katsuki’s fist. It’s warm and comforting, and Katsuki still doesn’t understand how Izuku agreed to this new friendship without this conversation, without this apology. He’s too forgiving—too kind compared to himself.
“Well,” Izuku sighs. “if me and Kirishima really are as similar as you say, then he sees you as a great hero, a smart guy, and someone who’s growing more and more every day. If we’re really that similar, he’ll have no issue forgiving you. Okay, Kacchan?”
The conversation helps, but it doesn’t entirely calm him. His heartbeat has steadily increased throughout the night. When he sees Kirishima and Kaminari chatting in the kitchen over strawberry smoothies, nausea makes him bolt to the bathroom and hack into a toilet; he didn’t throw up, but he wished he did. Maybe some of his nerves would have left with the remainders of his lunch.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get better. He lies in bed until ten, thinking about the best time to confront Eijirou about Katsuki’s royal fuck-ups as a boyfriend. But even after he makes a plan—tomorrow, lunch break, the abandoned classroom where Izuku had taken him today—sleep doesn’t come.
He wonders if it’s the nerves of finally confessing, or the fear of losing his first boyfriend (and the only one he wants). His head is a chaotic whirlwind of thoughts that make his temples pound, and his eyes hurt. His hands are sweating too much, and a quick brush of his palms against his blanket makes the fabric sizzle.
That is where he loses it.
He throws off his comforter and swings his feet on the cold floor. He doesn’t even put on house slippers or a jacket before he stumbles out of his room and takes the five long strides he needs to make it to Eijirou’s door.
He knocks without thinking, then panics because sleep deprivation makes him do stupid, stupid things. He hears shuffling on the other side, and he fists his sweaty hands. It makes him feel braver, but Katsuki hasn’t felt such a lack of control since the League of Villains kidnapped him.
When the door opens, Eijirou’s sleepy gaze and parted lips make Katsuki’s words catch in his throat. He doesn’t know what to say, or what to do, but it’s unnecessary. Eijirou brushes the hair from his eyes and tilts his head in confusion. “Katsuki?”
He sounds tired. He sounds confused, and… sad. Before Katsuki can think too hard about it, he reaches for Eijirou’s hand and interlaces their fingers. Thankfully, he doesn’t fight it, even if he looks questioningly at Katsuki. Maybe he thinks Katsuki’s avoidance meant they were no longer together. Maybe it’s too late.
No, his mind screams. It’s not. Don’t lose him.
Because he knows the voice is right, that it’s stupid to give up on the best thing about your youth, your happiness, and the fragments of teen life left over after the heroism. Katsuki squeezes Eijirou’s hand and leans in close. “Come with me,” he whispers.
When he pulls away, he can see the surprise in Eijirou’s wide eyes before he steels his expression and nods a hesitant ‘yes’. And Katsuki goes with it because it’s all he can ask for when he’s feeling so close to losing everything.
Eijirou doesn’t say a word as Katsuki guides him up to the fifth floor, then the small staircase in the corner of the boy’s hall that leads up to the roof. When he forces the door open, they meet with an inky sky, a twinkling skyline, and a breeze that’s chill enough to make Katsuki feel something like rebirth. He opens his mouth to breathe, and a brisk wind enters his lungs, refreshing him.
The anxiety dissipates only slightly. He looks back at Eijirou, whose eyes reflect the city light.
Katsuki guides him to the railing at the edge of the roof and lets go of his hand in favor of looking down at the Yuuei landscape. It’s quiet when all the students are in bed, when curfew has struck and no one’s allowed outside. It’s almost peaceful.
At least, it is until Eijirou asks, “Why are we up here?”
Then the atmosphere breaks and Katsuki remembers he can’t just stay at the moment and avoid the explanation Eijirou deserves to hear. So, Katsuki turns his head to the side and smiles sadly at him. With a sigh, he expels all his hopes on the wind.
It’s time for the truth.
“This roof reminds me a little of my middle school.”
It’s a tacky start, a stupid one. It gets Eijirou’s attention, though. With a quirked eyebrow, he looks down at the railing, traces his fingers on the cold metal, and murmurs. “It does?”
“Yeah. My lackeys and I hung out up there a lot. ‘Course, I stopped going there in my last year.”
“When you… when you tell someone to take a swan dive off the roof,” he sighs. “You kinda start worrying that when you go up there, you’re actually gonna see them fucking do it.”
A beat of silence follows, and the only thing Katsuki can think is that it’s over, that Eijirou is done with him.
But, apparently, he’s not, because he hisses, “What?”
Katsuki knows he has to answer. He clenches his jaw and looks out at the city, because watching the shame and disgust on Eijirou’s face will only make it harder. “Last year of middle school, I told Deku to kill himself. What’s worse about it is the fact that it’s not the first time I did something to him. I ruined his things, called him useless, and tried to convince him that he couldn’t be a hero.
“But names wouldn’t work on him. Saying he’s ‘useless’, or calling him a ‘shitty nerd’ and a ‘pathetic loser’ did nothing. So I burned his analysis notebooks, shoved him in the halls, and pushed him down no matter how many times he got back up.”
The city lights blur together, reds and golds and whites and blues. It’s beautiful, it’s calming, and he welcomes the hot tears against his cheeks for the first time since this nightmare started. His voice is shaking, but he knows he’s got to keep going.
Except, this time, he wants to see his boyfriend. He grabs Eijirou’s hand and squeezes it tight. Then, he looks up and tries his hardest to smile through the pain because Eijirou is blinking like he can’t imagine any of this is real. His perfect lips are parted, but as much as Katsuki wants to kiss them, he knows that Eijirou’s hands are ready to slap him if he does.
“Ei,” he whispers. “I’m the same as your goddamn bullies. I hurt Deku, I told him to die , and all I wanted to do was comfort you last night, but- but it was wrong . It was fucking wrong. How the hell was I gonna hold you and tell you don’t deserve it while letting Deku go on thinking he did? How am I supposed to kiss you and act like fucking everything was all right while I knew I was the same and let you go on believing I hadn’t done shit as twisted as the people who hurt you? Because- Because I don’t want to fucking hurt you. I love you more than fucking everything, but I’m not gonna be a shit-sucking liar either. I’m not gonna be that.
“Not with you.”
Then the silence hits, and Katsuki is trapped in some pathetic limbo as he waits for Eijirou’s answer, his thoughts.
His boyfriend is watching him, deliberating what to say. There’s a veil of confusion over his eyes that he’s clearly trying to get through, and when he does, when it hits him, his face settles into the most disappointed expression Katsuki’s ever seen directed at him.
His shoulders shake. He looks down at the cement floor because it’s better than having to live with his failures under Eijirou’s eyes. And Eijirou—sweet, compassionate Eijirou—sighs and looks out over the city. He gives Katsuki the privacy to cry. “I thought you hated me the moment you left my room last night.”
Katsuki jerks his gaze up and takes a step into Eijirou’s space. “I don’t hate you.”
And Eijirou smiles softly. Katsuki thinks he can see his eyes glimmer with tears in the city lights, and it’s ethereal. “I don’t hate you either.”
It’s almost like a dream or an insane fantasy. Eijirou reaches out and brushes a thumb over Katsuki’s cheek, before tracing it down Katsuki’s face, his shoulder, down to his sweaty hand and trembling fingers. “Are you serious?” Katsuki asks a whisper carried away by the cooling breeze.
Eijirou squeezes his hand and descends to the rough, icy floor, guiding Katsuki down with him. Back against the railing, his eyes only focus on the boy sitting in front of him with his lip between his teeth and fidgeting hands clasped between his criss-crossed legs.
“So, uh,” he starts, voice low. Katsuki knows he’s shy, but doesn’t reach forward to reassure him. Eijirou might not hate him, but Katsuki doesn’t want to push the boundaries. “Today, when you ran off with Midoriya, did you apologize?”
Katsuki looks down at his lap. “Yes.”
“That’s- that’s good. I’m glad you know it’s wrong now, and that you spoke with him. He didn’t deserve what you put him through.”
A pang of guilt shoots up Katsuki’s spine and into his heart. He wants to gasp; he doesn’t. Instead, he looks up from his lap and over at Eijirou’s sunken eyes and furrowed brows. Katsuki thinks he sees a tear slip down his cheek.
He reaches for it.
Katsuki pushes off the railing, crawls forward, and kneels before him like a sinner to their god. He reaches out and brushes away the tears with warm, gentle hands. And as Eijirou looks up at him with amazement, as he leans in to calloused hands as they come to cup his jaw, Katsuki comes closer to whisper, “You didn’t deserve it either.”
“I- it’s hard to think that sometimes. When my hair grows out, when I lose a spar… I’m proving them right.”
“You’re not; you’re proving that you’re a tough son of a bitch. When you keep getting up, you keep fighting, and you prove those motherfuckers wrong, okay? And even if you quit, even if you decide right here right now that you don’t want to be a hero, and that you don’t want to dye your hair, you still don’t deserve it.
“You are still a wonderful person, you are still one of the strongest motherfuckers I know, and I still love you.”
And the smile on Eijirou’s face shifts from disillusioned to questioning to sheer enamoration. Slowly, a fresh tear pricks his eye, and Eijirou closes his lids to free it. Dark lashes tickle his cheeks. The city glow makes his skin look so warm, so unblemished and perfect.
When he opens his eyes, red meets red, and the world becomes a landscape bathed in rose-tinted lights. Katsuki leans even closer, his lips parted and his heart yearning for more, more, more.
A coarse hand runs up Katsuki’s bare forearm until it drapes his own hand, and guides him until their lips meet. Eijirou’s lips are softer than silk, and taste so good when his tongue swipes across them. His hold on Eijirou is stronger now. As he cups his hand around his boyfriend's head and lays him gently on the floor, he adjusts to hover over him.
The embrace is embrace is powerful. Eijirou cries as he holds on to Katsuki’s jaw, his body trembling and his hair unkempt. And even as Katsuki holds back, as he holds Eijirou like something valuable and irreplaceable, Eijirou bites and sucks, so focused on Katsuki being with him there, in that moment.
As they pull apart eventually, hearts pounding, bodies flush together, and lips swollen from their urgent need to taste, to feel the existence of the other right beside them, Katsuki falls onto the floor just beside Eijirou and looks up to the sky.
Eijirou’s panting is a song he could sleep to, but he’s too focused on their proximity to do that now. Blindly, he searches for Eijirou’s hand, and when he finds his fingers pressed to the cool cement, Katsuki grabs them firmly. Eyes not leaving the sky, he sighs. “I’m not leaving you like that again. I’ll take better care of your feelings.”
“And I won’t hide them from you.”
Katsuki smiles, genuine and rich. Eyes on the sky, a blinking red dot moves from East to West and Katsuki knows it’s a satellite, but he’ll permit himself to be sentimental for just one night. He shuts his eyes and wishes for this to be his forever.
Eijirou’s hand in his and the taste of his lips still in his mouth, Katsuki feels like this could be his heaven.