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You really hate events like these. It’s not the heels (ouch), or the expensive wine (not a mixed drink in sight), or the fact that you have to time your bathroom trips strategically in order to reapply your lipstick when it starts to go stale (fuck). It’s that you have to pretend like none of it is making you miserable.

I hate smiling . You’ve been thinking that all night, can’t wait to tell your boyfriend, because surely he’ll laugh. Or maybe he’ll wrap you up in his big arms, lift you up onto your toes. No baby , he’d say. You hate faking it

“God, you two are disgusting.”

You turn to fix Bakugou with a dead-eyed stare. “That’s not a very heroic thing to say, Ground Zero.”

He snorts. “For the last time, call me Katsuki.”

You are, for all intents and purposes, Bakugou’s handler. You make sure he gets where he needs to go, that he has what he needs for missions, and that he doesn’t make any egregious faux pas. It’s actually a pretty easy job, so long as you stay organized.

People who knew him before he went pro are often surprised that you find him kind of charming. But he cooled off considerably after his debut as a freshman at the UA sports festival. It helps that he actually cares about his job, and he especially cares about doing it well.

He cares about you, too, though neither of you would ever admit it. Partly because it’s more fun to play the begrudging colleague act. Partly because both of you know better than to get attached. Everything moves fast, in this business. 

Everything but this stupid party. 

“Kacchan?” you ask, just to get a rise from him.

He knows better than to take the bait. “Whatever, loser.” He folds his arms over his chest, leans in closer, so no one can hear. He’s incredibly anal about privacy, you know. It’s one of the things you like best about him. “Just put the poor thing out of his misery, will ya? He looks like he’s about to burst at the fucking seams every time he catches sight of you.”

You just barely fend off a smile. “It’s one night. He’ll live.”

It’s a reminder to yourself as well. Your relationship is secret for safety. If the world knew you’re involved with the no. 1 you’d have a target on your back bigger than you are. He absolutely will not risk it. But you have your own, smaller reason for keeping this part of your life secret.

You sip your (dry, dry ) wine and watch your boyfriend mingle, covertly. His posture is perfect. His smile is precisely candid. He used to practice handshakes with you. You know the pressure is exactly right, reassuring and strong, exactly what people expect from the golden boy.

But you don’t want the golden boy. 

You want Izuku.

Bakugou doesn’t get it, as he’s told you loudly and many times. Their relationship is still indecipherable to you in a lot of ways. They’re friends. Kind of. They weren’t always, though. If you’re honest, you’re pretty sure you were the tipping point. Seeing Izuku being gentle and considerate with you, and vice versa, did something to the men. Softened them toward each other. They considered themselves partners in keeping you out of trouble, and for that they require some kind of equilibrium, and not a small bit of respect.

Which is why Bakugou stands sentry at your side, when Izuku can’t.

“You’d think it’s a damn funeral,” he grouses. His eyes are on your boyfriend. Your boyfriend’s eyes are on you.

You see the silent plea there. Now?

You shake your head. There’s still another hour of party ahead of you both.

You waste the time. You’re not into networking, and you’re not important enough to warrant a lot of attention. So you watch over Ground Zero, and you get slightly tipsy on very fancy booze, and you try not to think of the blisters blooming on your heels.

The agreed upon time arrives. You head to the coat room. Izuku is already there, your shawl draped over one arm. He bundles you up, presses a kiss to your nose.

“Missed you,” he murmurs.

You push him away with a hand in his face. “It was only a couple of hours,” you laugh. 

He just scoops you back up, pressing a litany of dry pecks against your cheek. “Too long.”

You relax into his hold, too tired to put up a front. You missed him too.

“Come on,” he says against your temple. He tucks you under one arm, shepherds you toward the door. “Let’s get you home.”

Home is actually his apartment, but you’re rarely at your own place nowadays. Izuku tried to convince you to let your lease lapse, but you were steadfast. 

“You’ll want space, eventually.”

He put on his best pout. “I don’t want any space. No space. None.”

But a part of you was still hesitant.

In the cab, Izuku situates you sideways on his lap, already beginning the process of removing your shoes. It takes nearly the whole drive, with him trying not to disturb your tender heels. He’s a lot more gentle than you would have been with yourself, making soft cooing sounds and brushing a hand up your calves whenever he sees you wince. 

He hands you the heels as you pull up to his building, and you balance them in your lap as he carries you inside. He doesn’t let you walk even when you get through the door, just sets you on the bed and goes to grab the antiseptic. 

He chatters as he tends to you, things about the party, the people he talked to, you.

“You really should stop wearing these. They hurt you every time,” he says, frowning a little as he places the bandaids over your cuts. 

“Yeah,” you agree readily. “But I look really good in them.”

“You always look good.”

He doesn’t see your playful disgust, pressing quick smooches to the top of either foot before rising, stretching. He’s removed his jacket, but is still in the button down and slacks. He had to get them custom made, no off the rack suit would fit his massive shoulders, but the result is immaculate. 

You trace the lines of his shoulders with pawing hands as he hauls you into the bathroom. He draws off your dress, your panties, rubbing at the spots where the fabric dug in. 

He frowns. “Do you own anything comfortable?” 

“My mom used to say beauty is pain.”

“Your mom is a very smart woman, but that was very stupid.”

You climb into the shower first, sighing at the temperature, perfectly warm. You let yourself slouch into it, moving only when Izuku steps in behind you, repositioning you with a grasp on your hips. 

He obliges you when you tell him to lean down, massaging shampoo into his wild hair. He’s been keeping it shorter, recently, but it’s still unmanageable on the best days. You’ve made it your mission to be the one to tame it -- or at least make sure it doesn’t snag when you brush through it.

Izuku sighs and hums as you wash, leaning in and into your touch, his face all serenity, all calm satisfaction. Not enough people touch him, you think. Not kindly, at least. He gets hit, often enough. And there’s the buoyant grasping of fans. Sometimes a jovial pat on the back from fellow heroes after a big win. 

But who else holds his hand, or rubs his lower back during hugs? Who makes sure that his hair is really clean after a long night? 

You wish the world were nicer to him. You’re desperate to make up the deficit. You’re trying to keep your cool with him, keep some distance. But he makes it so hard, in moments like this. The peace so whole and big it doesn’t leave room for distance, doesn’t leave room for anything but the two of you, and the warmth of the steam, and the little sound he makes when you scrape your nails gently behind his ears.

Clean and naked, you crawl into bed, wrap around each other as tightly as possible. 

“Crap,” you groan, burying your face against his throat. “I forgot my laptop charger at my apartment.”

He hums, fingers trailing over your shoulders. “We can go get it in the morning.”

You sigh. “No, I have an extra at the office.”

Izuku goes silent. He doesn’t stop petting you, but you can tell he’s thinking deeply about something. 

“You should just move in,” he says. “Then all of your stuff would be in one place.”

You draw back to kiss his chin, meet his gaze. “Gonna need more reasons than that.”

“I would cook and clean, and pay our bills, and make sure you’re comfy,” he says, ticking off fingers. “I’d clear out the whole closet for your dresses, and get those curtains you’ve been thinking about--”

You grab his raised hand with your own, stopping his rambling. “Well, that’s quite the laundry list, Deku. And what would I do?”

He brings your clasped hands to his mouth. He presses his lips to each of your knuckles. “Let me love you, and love you, and love you.” He looks up, eyes so bright and clear, so full. “Please?”

And how could you say no to that?