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in too deep to go back again

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Izuku tries to control the bounce in his step as he walks beside Kacchan. This is the first time they’ve been able to train together since Jakku, since the two of them had had to recover from their injuries and stay on another house arrest for running away from the evacuation group.

Now that Aizawa-sensei was in on the secret of One for All...well it had saved their asses. Their teacher was learning to use his prosthetic and taking time to recover the vision in his left eye. It’d been damaged- but the power of healing quirks had at least saved the majority of his vision.

Gran was...Gran Torino was dead, but at the very least Izuku could continue training for the day Shigaraki and All for One would come back for him. Because they would, as long as he held One for All.

“You’re thinking too fucking loud,” says Kacchan, scowling.

Izuku winces and tries for a smile, “Sorry, Kacchan.”

“Tch.”

Kacchan hasn’t looked happy, but he’s never had to be on bedrest before.

Izuku wants to reach out and...what? Swing his arm around him, like Iida occasionally will be willing to do to Izuku? Hug him, like Ochako does when she sees Izuku frowning? Nudge his shoulder, like Izuku does to Todoroki?

Kacchan took a hit for him and there’s no denying that they’re something now. But to say the word friend out loud...would Kacchan accept that, even now? The relationship they have, even though Izuku would never trade it for anything, is a confusing mess.

Sparring, at least, is a familiar route.

Especially since Izuku needs to get used to the new state of his arms. Both hurt constantly now, the over-the-counter medications barely soothing the dull ache that throbs through them. His left pinky and ring finger don’t move anymore. Too much nerve and tissue damage, the doctors had said, lucky he didn’t lose the use of the arm or hand all together.

His right fist sends sharp shocks of pain and tends to lock up when he tries to make a fist, only able to curl a little of it at a time.

At the end of the battle against Shigaraki, the two of his arms had just been throbbing masses of pain he’d had to ignore, until he’d been in the dreamscape where they’d been mostly hale and whole.

Izuku wouldn’t regret what he’d done, though. Even if everyone around him seemed to think he should.

Even Kacchan.

Which is why, as they open the doors to the gym, he says nothing. Kacchan is easy to set off. Whether from the loss, the general attitude towards heroes bubbling amongst the population, or Izuku’s general uselessness in doing anything at the battle, Izuku doesn’t know.

So he stays silent as they face each other, glad to just be here with his friend.

Kacchan stares him down before sighing.

“We should work on your newer quirks. Catch-A-Kacchan again, but with Float?”

Izuku almost snorts at Kacchan using that name for their game of all things, but nods, grinning.

“Sounds good!”

Kacchan nods, but scowls again.

“Use your arms at all beyond Black Whip and I’ll kill you, you shitty nerd!”

His arms throb in agreement.

“Of course” Izuku says, not willing to accrue the wrath of everyone he knows that easily.

“Good. Now come on, if you think you can beat me!” Kacchan sneers, explosions bursting from his palms and sending him mid-air.

Izuku lets himself become weightless, toes lifting off the gym’s tiled floor.

“I’ll win this time, Kacchan!”

Black Whip unfurls itself from his arms, some from his back. They’re restless almost, responding to his months of being downed and unable to use anything. Float is different from being under Uraraka’s Zero Gravity, like the difference in being thrown upwards and being underwater.

He propels himself forward, lashing out a whip that Kacchan dodges smoothly to the right of. Except this time, Izuku can move in the air like water and he rebounds, flying upward and aiming downward.

His whips miss again, Kacchan showing his usual agility and blasting into close range, A hot explosion clips him, singeing his hair.

“Kacchan! What is with you and my hair!?”

“Easy target!” He calls back and there’s something playful in his tone.

Izuku’s grin tugs at his lips, spreading across his face. He manages to flip around, using slight bursts of One for All on his feet, tugging forward with small strands of Black Whip.

Kacchan lets loose another explosion and Izuku dodges, letting himself fall a bit and striking out with a few long whips, aiming towards Kacchan’s chest.

Except Kacchan doesn’t dodge this time, eyes going blank and wide, freezing mid air.

Freezing means the explosions he’s been using to propel himself stop.

“Kacchan!” Izuku shouts, reaching out with Black Whip to catch Kacchan. One of the tendrils brushes Kacchan’s arm. Kacchan flinches and sets off an explosion much bigger than the ones they were practicing with. It blasts him up and across the room, far away from Izuku.

“...Kacchan?” Izuku asks, confused. Kacchan falls to the ground shakily, letting off small, poorly timed explosions to ease himself down, stumbling slightly when he lands. He doesn’t say anything to Izuku, breathing hard with eyes shut tight.

Izuku drops to the ground, grunting at the impact as it sends shocks through his ankles and knees.

He carefully walks toward Kacchan, who is breathing deeply, still hunched over.

“Back up,” Kacchan barks and Izuku comes to a halt.

“W-wha-?”

He takes an unsteady step back, biting his lip hard.

“Kacchan, are you ok-”

“Fuck off,” he snarls, “I’m good.”

Kacchan looks the opposite of good, but Izuku knows better than to extend his hand by now. Instead he glances away, hands curled into fists. He chews his lip, strung tight like a bow string.

The breathing across the room steadily calms down and Izuku finds his shoulders untensing. Kacchan grunts and Izuku turns back towards him. He’s crossing his arms, eyes still screwed shut.

“...What happened?” Izuku dares, tongue digging into the blister he’s left on his lip.

Kacchan says nothing for a moment. The silence between them tense and heavy. Something new lies in it, like one word can push them over the tightrope they’re hanging on. Izuku focuses on the thudding of his heart rather than Kacchan.

“Just a stupid memory, whatever.”

Izuku frowns.

“Don’t worry about it, you’ve got enough on your fucking plate.”

“Kacchan-”

“It’s over, whatever.” Kacchan shrugs, walking forward and brushing past Izuku,”Let’s work on your quirk again.”

Izuku watches Katsuki roughly towel his hair.

“Kacchan...if you do need something...I’m always here,” Izuku says, before rolling up his sleeves.

Kacchan grunts but he does nod.

Progress!

Izuku lets himself float up, air parting like water. Kacchan scowls at him, no mean intent but instead something thoughtful.

Obviously, it had to do with Shigaraki's battle, and Izuku resolved to use Black Whip a little differently, so the similarities wouldn't hurt Kacchan again. But did he regret jumping in the way? Was he scared of getting hurt or dying? The unanswered questions threaten to swarm his head, but he shakes it off. Kacchan wouldn't appreciate it. The best thing to do was to let him know that Izuku would be there, so maybe things wouldn't burst out like after Kamino. Maybe Kacchan will tell him. Maybe not now, or soon, but one day, without it being under duress.