So, there's this hoodie.
It's not much to look at. In fact, it's pretty worn: small holes torn in the cuffs, black colour faded to grey at the seams from years of washing, drawstring lost somewhere along the way.
But it's comfortable.
And it's comforting.
Each time one of them pulls it free from the now familiar padded envelopes, it brings delighted smiles, a rush of warmth, even occasional tears as fond fingers run over the faded fabric.
It's a ritual.
It can never erase the distance, but, for now, it helps ease the ache.
Katsuki pulls it over his head without hesitation, pulling up the hood and burying his nose in the collar to inhale the scent that clings to it, lamenting the loss of the drawstring as he tries to lose himself in the folds. He closes his eyes and allows himself to pretend; to feel the ghost of strong arms around his waist, a firm chest pressed against his back, and green curls tickling his cheeks. It grounds him and when he opens his eyes again, everything is just a little more...right...
He snaps a quick photo, full on cocky grin on display- he knows the nerd will see the spark of joy in his eyes.
He scoffs, rolling his eyes at just how much of a sap he's become before he sends the photo and a quick message:
It's been three months since Izuku had been called up north on a mission. He'd left in a scramble, with only moments to say goodbye to the blonde before he was pulling away from his hold with tears in his eyes and no clue when he'd be home again. Calls are precious moments, few and far between; snatched in the scant breathing space of an urgent mission.
But it doesn't mean he likes it.
It had felt like a chasm opening between them, not just one born of distance. Katsuki's not a touchy person, he values his personal space. But…
He misses the way Izuku would graze gently against his shoulder or drop a kiss against his head as he passed. He misses feeling freckles under his fingers, waking up tangled together, misses the simple affection of their shared space. And he misses his scent, something he'd admitted in the soft hours of the morning, when sleep had loosened his filter.
And when Izuku had admitted to missing all that and more, Katsuki had had an idea. Digging out an old hoodie, he'd worn it for a full day, spritzed it with his cologne and posted it off. He'd teased himself for being a sap, but when Izuku had called him a day later, in tears, he'd felt proud. And when Izuku had copied him and posted it back a week later smelling like his (wonderful, beautiful) nerd, Katsuki had understood his tears.
His own reaction had been less dramatic, but Izuku knows him, he sees the telltale glisten in crimson eyes in the photo that Katsuki sends.
And so it became tradition: the hoodie would arrive and, after a week of wear, get washed, scented, and express posted back as a little parcel of home.
For three months.
It doesn't erase the loneliness; the deep yearning to feel, and touch, and taste, but it takes the edge off.
Until one day, it doesn't arrive…
For three days, Katsuki waits, almost tearing the door off its hinges any time he hears the postman. But all he has to show for it are a handful of bills and one of Izuku’s monthly magazine subscriptions. Alarm bells are a constant in his mind, despite himself. He knows that Izuku’s mission had been approaching its climax; he understands how all-consuming that can be, how everything else fades into the background in favour of the preparation and the win. And he knows Izuku is more than capable, he’s seen him fight through hell and win. But he’s on edge, head darting towards the door at every nearby sound. They’ve barely had time to speak to each other in a week outside of the occasional text and the vacuum of contact makes the blonde’s skin itch. So he buries himself in work, falling into bed each night, too exhausted to notice the empty space beside him until the morning, when he allows himself a moment to brush his hands over the sheets, as if any of Izuku’s warmth still lingers.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
For a full week.
He’s roused from sleep by the ghost of a touch against his head and he leans into it, allowing himself to give into the illusion as he has on other nights. But the soft chuckle gives him pause and he cracks one bleary eye to see a familiar figure perched on the edge of the bed, fingers carding through sleep mussed spikes. A familiar hoodie pokes out of his jacket and he beams a bright but wobbly smile, the corners of exhausted eyes crinkling as he whispers:
“Hey, Kacchan. Sorry I’m late...”
Katsuki sits bolt upright, launching himself at Izuku who pulls him against his chest with almost bruising enthusiasm. But Katsuki doesn’t care, burying his face in his neck, feeling green curls tickle his cheek as he inhales the familiar scent of his partner, and leaves a trail of kisses against his skin.
“Kacchan, I’m gross!” Izuku protests with a tired giggle, but Katsuki just holds tighter, nipping lightly at his neck with a mumbled protest of “don’t fuckin’ care.”
Relief, happiness, frustration, and love entangle in the blondes chest, tightening is throat:
“Welcome home Deku,” he croaks, nuzzling impossibly closer.
A shudder runs through the other man, the sudden rush of contact and emotions overwhelming him for a second, and he blinks back the tears that sting his eyes, pressing a kiss into blonde locks. Izuku closes his eyes, relishing in the weight against his chest, the grounding comfort of the arms around him, the warm breaths against his neck as he lets himself relax into the embrace. Until he feels his equilibrium shift as Katsuki tilts sideways, dragging him down to the mattress and pulling him to his chest, despite protestations of needing a shower.
That’s tomorrow’s problem.
Katsuki allows Izuku to move just enough to discard his jacket before he’s pulling him into a kiss, hands cupping cheeks and carding through blonde and green hair as they both bask in the simple shared affection. Katsuki shivers, skin tingling all along the points of contact as goosebumps trail in the wake of the fingers now running lazily up and down his neck. Izuku smiles against his lips, pulling back just enough so that their noses brush:
“I missed you, Kacchan.”
It’s whispered like a secret, but the blonde knew it anyway, averting his eyes from the sincerity he still sometimes struggles with:
“Yeah…” he grumbles into his pillow, his own smile evident despite his embarrassment, “...missed you too.”
A ghost of a chuckle and then he’s pulled closer, head pillowed on Izuku’s chest, arms wrapped and legs tangled. Katsuki can feel Izuku slackening beneath him, hear his breaths evening and his heart rate slowing as he’s pulled towards sleep and he relishes in the peace, the quiet joy that permeates the air. He’s tired sure, but he can’t help but stay awake just a little longer, some part of him afraid that if he gives in to sleep, this will all be a dream. Red eyes wander across freckled cheeks, lit by the sliver of moonlight peeking through the curtains. He brushes a stray curl from his sleeping partner’s eyes, fingers coming to rest against the neck of the hoodie he’s still wearing. He thumbs the worn fabric gently, a small smile accompanying the rush of emotions. It was always hard to be separated in such a dangerous industry, but he takes comfort in this new tradition that allows the distance to feel less until they could be together again.
The hoodie isn’t much to look at, in fact it’s pretty worn. But what it means to the both of them now makes it so much more than that.