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‘BREAKING: Pro-hero Ground Zero is being transported to ER in an emergency helicopter following a villain attack. EMT on site says he will have to undergo immediate life-or-death surgery, more details to come’

Izuku remembers reading that headline as clear as day. It still makes his heart race thinking about it, his throat instinctively closing up. 

He shuffles closer to Katsuki, keeping his movements small so as not to disturb him. Izuku gently touches his husbands’ hand, running his fingertips over his calloused knuckles. 

His eyes flick up to Katsuki’s sleeping face. His lips are slightly parted, his expression serene. He looks younger than he is, especially when asleep. Almost like a teenager again, if not for the subtle creases decorating his mouth, the light crinkles around his eyes, and the streaks of silver hair which Katsuki refused to admit were there. The blond had fallen asleep after reading for a while before bed, next to Izuku who watched a documentary, as per their usual nighttime routine these days.   

It’s so calm.

They’d been together for so long, rising from childhood friends, to enemies, to rivals, to friends, to undeniable soulmates, each seizing his dream of becoming a top hero along the way with the other by his side. 

They'd fallen into such a comfortable rhythm. 

So comfortable, that Izuku couldn't even fathom things suddenly changing.

‘Authorities say “Ground Zero needs a ‘miracle’ to survive…”

That ordeal is long over, but it still quietly haunts Izuku. The mere thought of everything ending so suddenly on that day is enough to rattle him to the depths of his core. He recalls how Kacchan hadn’t responded to any of his texts, and how he hadn't come home yet. Izuku was in the middle of trying to call him, over and over, then it all happened at once. His phone started blowing up with messages from agents and friends, and the TV switched to the breaking news of Ground Zero’s defeat. He couldn’t take his eyes away.

He and Katsuki still hadn’t yet talked about it. Not since the day Katsuki had woken up from surgery and Izuku was there, unable to express his gratitude and relief that Katsuki had lived by any means other than wailing at his bedside. 

But that was the only time he’d let himself cry, dedicating all of his energy from that point to being there for his husband, to helping him recover. He’d known that he needed to stay positive for Katsuki’s sake. The recovery would be taxing as is; hard enough without Izuku’s constant worrying. 

So, he didn't let his concern show, and he never cried.

It had been over a year since the incident, Katsuki had made a full recovery and was already back to work (albeit taking it easy,) and his physical therapist had said he would be completely back to normal within the year. Many had thought that this would be the catalyst of Ground Zero’s retirement, but the explosive hero had proved that he wasn't done just yet. 

However, Izuku still feels his fingers start trembling at the thought of what happened, wondering why he’s thinking of it now. He just can’t rid himself of this dreadful feeling that crept upon him in quiet moments like this, when he’s all alone with his thoughts of ‘what if?’ 

‘What if those doctors hadn't been fast enough?’

‘What if i’d been there to help?’

‘What if he….?’

Izuku bites his lip.

By the time he heard the news that day, the fight was already over. There was nothing Izuku could do, he couldn’t rush to Kacchan’s side to save him, he could only flip the news channels frantically, calling anyone and everyone who might know anything, or at the very least what hospital Katsuki was being transported to. All he could gather was that Katsuki had been caught in some kind of crossfire with a civilian who snapped suddenly and happened to have an extremely dangerous, long-building power. 

‘He is being airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. His life hangs by a thread.’

Izuku can’t help but squeeze Katsuki’s hand tight, his chest sharp with pain. 

His lip quivers as he shuffles even closer, lifting Katsuki’s arm up and allowing it to draw back around him as he nuzzles into Katsuki’s chest. He is very warm, as always, encasing the smaller hero as he shifts in his sleep, wrapping his arm around Deku further. The weight is comforting, as Izuku gazes at Katsuki, lifting his fingers to his lips. He feels his soft, deep inhales and exhales. 

It brings tears to his eyes. 

Kacchan is okay. He’s still here, still with him, still alive.

But what if he wasn’t? 

That reality still feels too close.

Deku subtly moves his hand from Katsuki’s lips, down his side, fingers brushing up under his shirt, against the flesh of his midriff. He runs his fingertips over the vicious scarring, which extend all the way across his abdomen and his chest, his arm, his leg, just barely reaching his jaw. 

The tears he’d been desperately holding back come in full force now, slipping down his cheeks and nose and soaking into the sheets.

He remembers how Katsuki had looked in the hospital bed, completely defeated, barely recognizable. His back was broken, his limbs were twisted, his skin was torn and burned, bandaged enough to make him look like a mummy rather than a living person. 

The tears keep coming, hot as they squeeze out of his eyes, his throat hurting as he tries desperately not to make noise. 

He knows he’s failed to not wake Kacchan up when he feels the other squeeze him tighter, his free hand coming up to nestle itself in forest green hair.

“Deku…hey. What's wrong...?”

Kacchan utters softly, sleepily. Izuku allows himself to inhale, his breath stuttering. 

He grips his fist, his fingers curling into the fabric of Katsuki’s shirt.

“I’m s-sorry, Kacchan. I didn't m-mean to wake you up…”

He sniffles, trying to stop crying because he doesn’t want to dump all of this on Kacchan right now, but he knows it's too late. The tears won't stop.

“Baby,”

He feels gentle lips press into his forehead, Katsuki’s hand taking his and lacing their fingers together. 

He knows that Katsuki will gladly, quietly comfort him while he cries, but Deku doesn't want to allow himself that luxury. What kind of hero can't even protect the one closest to him properly? Katsuki had protected him over and over again, so why…?

He lets out a sob, unable to suppress it any more. 

“Talk to me, Izu.”

He knows he's worrying Kacchan, which somehow hurts even worse. He’s had enough worries on his plate to last a lifetime recently, he doesn't need Izuku’s sobbing out of nowhere. But he also knows the beans are already spilled, and he can't lie about this or deflect concern. They know each other too well to be able to do anything like that. 

“I-it’s--I just…”

He tries to reign in his breaths enough to speak properly, sniffling. After a moment, he tries again.

“I’m sorry...I was just thinking about...I was thinking about everything that's happened recently, about that horrible day, w-when I didn't know if you were okay or not, a-and--”

His voice gives way with a mighty shake, the tears rolling once more. He squeezes Katsuki’s shirt tighter, and feels the fingers in his hair tighten gently in return.

“Izu, why are you thinking about all that…?”

Katsuki whispers, stroking his hair, continuing,

“It’s over and done with, baby. No need to bring it up.”

“I know!”

Deku cries,

“I know, but I can't stop th-thinking about it! What if you--god, what if you died , Kacchan?!”

His words shake, tumbling past the stone in his throat, and Katsuki shuffles downwards and away, so as to be able to look Izuku in the eyes. The smaller responds by screwing his eyes shut, his best attempt at hiding himself. He never wants to be seen crying.

“Izuku, look at me.”

Deku does as he’s told, meeting a sincere ruby red gaze. Deku’s eyes are tearful, his lip trembling as Katsuki rubs a thumb over his cheek.

“Am I? Am I dead?”

Izuku shakes his head,

“N-no, but...I just...I can't get the thought out of my head. I was so s-scared. And you were in so much p-pain, for so long...for a while, the doctors didn't know if you could fully recover...”

Katsuki’s face softens even more, wiping Deku’s tears as they fall, allowing the other to continue.

“You fight hard... so hard to win against every opponent. You promise that to everyone. That civilian who hurt you had no right to do what he did! He tricked you! He didn't fight fair!”

Katsuki chuckles a little at that,

“What, do villains usually 'fight fair?'”

He sighs, 

“And I still won. He may have messed me up, but who's the one still standing and who's the one who kicked the bucket from his own stupid quirk?”

He said with a confident smirk, but it doesn't help Izuku feel better.

“That isn't the point, Kacchan. You came so close. Too close.”

“But I didn’t die. I’m alive, Deku.”

At that, Katsuki gently pushes Izuku’s head down into his chest, holding it there. At first, Izuku doesn't know what he's trying to do, until he hears it.

A steady thumping behind Katsuki’s ribcage. 

Warm tears refill his eyes again, but this time it's relief. 

“I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere.”

His husband repeats, and Izuku feels his own heart-rate calm down, eventually thumping in rhythm with Katsuki’s. The two of them stay like that for a long while, until Izuku’s tears cease completely, and he’s able to shut his eyes and just listen. Any scary thoughts that creep at the edges of his mind are dispelled, overridden by the calming sound of his love’s heart beating next to his ear, an indisputable reminder.

“Kacchan’s here…”

Just like always. Katsuki won't be leaving him any time soon.

Eventually, with his tears dried and mind soothed, Izuku is able to drift to sleep completely in peace for the first time in a year.