a glimpse of tomorrow (looking back)
“Hey, Kacchan,” Deku calls. “Have you checked your email recently?”
He rolls his eyes. “Why would I check my email? That’s where my emails are.”
Across the room, Deku picks up a mug and hefts it in his hand like he’s considering chucking it at Katsuki’s head, but puts it down at the last second. Of course—it’s from the All Might Golden Age: Redux merch line that’s just come out, he’s not going to throw it. Dumbass.
“Well,” Deku says, and his voice changes in that way that means it’s serious and he’s unsure. Katsuki reaches for his computer. “I… I think you should.”
Katsuki reads the email. To say that he dislikes it is an understatement.
“You want to go?” he asks over the top of his computer.
“Do… do you?”
Katsuki scoffs. “No.”
“Oh. Okay.” Deku bites his lip.
He narrows his eyes. Deku gives a wobbly smile back.
“Did you think I’d want to? And don’t tell me you actually want to go back to that place.”
“No—Kacchan, you know it’s not that, it’s just. Well.”
“Well, what? Well, the teachers let me get away with whatever I wanted? Well, everyone kissed the ground I walked on? Well, it took them two months to switch out your burnt to hell desk, and it was only ‘cause local news visited?”
There’s a ringing silence when he’s done. Deku looks down, towards the ground. He used to do that a lot more.
Katsuki isn’t good with words. He says what he thinks in the moment, whether he actually means them or not; though oftentimes he does. He got a lot of shit for it, back at U.A.
Never at Aldera.
“Sorry,” he says. Deku’s head snaps up. “For what I said.”
“Kacchan,” Deku sighs. “You just surprised me, that’s all. Anyway, I- I guess I just haven’t really… thought about Aldera in a while.”
No, he supposes not. They’ve been busy. Not just with the usual, though Starise is always hard work. HeroCon is a few months away—Katsuki learned his first year as a guest that a few months is way less time than it sounds. Deku’s working late nights on that Quirk+ Initiative; every night he moves into the kitchen with his laptop so he doesn’t bother Katsuki going to bed.
He scoffs. “The nerve of those bastards, inviting you.”
“Us,” Deku murmurs. “I was just thinking, maybe it’s gotten better.”
“It’s been, what, eight, nine years? What if they changed?”
Damn, that’s so annoyingly Deku. Sure, people change. But it’s hard to imagine everyone at Aldera changing the way Katsuki did.
He’s suddenly seized by the need to know if Sasaki-sensei’s still homeroom teacher, that bastard. Still standing at the head of the room, smile empty, eyes passing over Deku but cruel enough to call him out in front of the entire class. Still leeching on the high that comes from having power.
“Kacchan,” Deku says. Katsuki looks over; Deku’s slid over to Katsuki’s desk and reaches a scarred hand to poke his cheek. “Don’t clench your jaw like that.”
Katsuki grinds his teeth harder, just ‘cause he’s mad and he can, and then lets go.
“What you’re saying is you want to go.”
“I don’t think want is the right word.”
“Just say what you mean, idiot.”
Deku sighs. “I- I don’t know that I really want to go… but some part of me feels… I do want to see if they changed. If they’re still treating kids the way they used to.”
“Like you.” Katsuki reaches over and forces Deku’s fingers apart, loosening his grip on the edge of the desk.
Deku sighs. "Yeah."
Katsuki looks away for a moment. He has to, or else the burning down his throat like liquid fire won't go away. When he figures out how to speak again he looks back at Deku.
"I'm not gonna let some piece of shit school do anything to you."
Deku beams. It's an actual smile, his eyes crinkling at the corners, and Katsuki huffs.
"Thank you, Kacchan."
"Whatever. If they haven't changed, though..."
The gears in Deku's head start turning. Katsuki can tell; he always gets the same look on his face when they're mid-fight and a plan starts getting put together in his head. Katsuki's seen it a million times.
He kicks Deku under the desk. "What are you thinking?"
"Well," Deku says, leaning over to turn the monitor towards him. His eyes flick over the contents of the email one more time. "If they haven't changed, then I guess we could return the favor."
A spark flickers between his ribs, then catches in his chest. Heat warms his insides.
"Better get a reply written, then," he says, "and we can talk more over lunch."
Deku rolls back to his desk and salutes cheekily with two fingers. Katsuki rings Nobuta and tells the secretary to accept the invitation and make sure to update the schedule with the event. He scans the email again.
To: Deku [email@example.com], Kingpin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Aldera Time Capsule Ceremony
I thought you might be interested. Your schedule is free.
This year marks ten years for the Aldera Middle School graduating class of 20XX.
To celebrate, we would like to invite pro heroes Kingpin and Deku, Aldera alumni, to participate in a public time-capsule opening. We are incredibly proud to have helped them on their journeys to becoming heroes, and would be most honored to receive them as guests and for them to speak at the ceremony. Former students, parents, and the public will be invited as well for a reunion.
Please respond as soon as possible, and do not hesitate to reach out with more questions or concerns.
Aldera Middle School Event Coordinator
Not even an hour later, Deku sends him a link.
“If this is another cat video…,” he starts, already clicking on it.
"It's not," Deku promises, though that doesn't mean it's not a dog video. He loves watching those.
The link leads to a Bookface page—Katsuki grunts, surprised, when he sees it's Aldera.
"They've already posted about an update to the ceremony. See?"
He scrolls down a little, and sure enough, there's a large square graphic with a picture of them pulled from some promotional image they did a while back. Over it is text that says: Aldera Middle School Time Capsule Ceremony Special Guests. Their names are on it.
Katsuki skims the post. Already the reactions are beginning to pile up; word's gotten around fast. Underneath, comments appear one after the other with excitement.
"Mm," is Katsuki's only coherent response.
Sometimes I still think I'm dreaming , one of the students writes. Like, Kingpin AND Deku went to Aldera.
What a treat , another parent says. They never talk about their middle school…
> omg you're right
> Huh! I've never thought about that. They've always been quite private about their past.
> We'll finally get a look into what they were like when they were younger. They're childhood friends, aren't they?
"Read the comments?"
"Uh huh," Deku responds.
"Kacchan, you can't just call everyone losers."
"Don't tell me what not to call people, loser."
Deku pouts. "Can we get lunch now? I've been meaning to try that new place down the street."
Katsuki closes all his tabs and stands. The comments are still circling in his head. As they walk out the door, Deku in front, Katsuki holds his hand up and squints at Deku's back.
He used to push Deku around with that hand. Into walls and desks and lockers. Used to want it to hurt, too. He lowers his hand.
Deku waves at the others as they leave the agency, Katsuki deep in thought, and they go down the street. A couple people run up for their autograph even though they're in casual clothes, not that being off-duty has ever done anything but make Deku happier to stop and talk to fans. Deku chats happily as he takes a marker and scribbles his name in notebooks. Katsuki stops for a picture and hopes he doesn’t look too much like he wants to murder someone.
They make it to the new place and find it's pretty busy, though Katsuki's still able to snag them a table squished by the wall. Deku goes up to order, returning Katsuki's yell that he wants salmon with an "I know, Kacchan!" that gets attention, and by the time he gets up to the cashier he's already started a conversation with another customer. People love Deku. It’s admittedly hard not to.
He pulls out his phone while he's at it, scrolling idly on social media. Their official shared hero account has already posted about going to Aldera's time capsule ceremony, too, which means Katsuki's timeline and notifications have been blowing up nearly as much as his Quirk does.
Mom's sent him a text, the old hag. It's got three curse words so he knows she's serious, asking him why she didn't know about this, and he sends her a few choice words back.
Ugh. This is all people are going to be talking about for weeks. Katsuki's been tagged to hell and back, but he ignores all of them. It's all the same shitty comments and questions.
Deku slides into the seat across from him with a tray and a plate of the promised salmon and rice, smiling.
"Don't eat," Katsuki says, and snaps a picture to post online instead.
[Photo: Deku smiles at the camera, seated at the other end of a table. On the table are two trays, the one in front of Deku katsudon, and the one closer to the camera salmon and rice.]
Trying a new restaurant with this shitty nerd.
"Chew on this," Katsuki mutters, sets his phone aside, and digs in.
It's not bad. The food--it's pretty good, actually, but it's hard to enjoy food while also being angry. Deku's picked up on it, of course he has, eyes flicking from his food to Katsuki and back again through the entire meal.
Near the end, Deku says, "It's bothering you, Kacchan?"
Katsuki crams salmon into his mouth. "I bullied you."
Deku's eyes soften. "And then made up for it. And saved me. And apologized.” He frowns. “Are you worried about—how people are going to see you? If- I guess if- if it comes up.”
Katsuki scowls. "I don't care how people see me. They don't matter. It's not that."
"You never shut up, huh," Katsuki says. "I don't want anyone to think it was okay. What I did. And I don't want you to get hurt."
When they graduated, Aldera sent out invitations for a school reunion. Both Katsuki and Deku declined, citing their busy schedules and their upcoming hero duo debut, but it hadn't been true. The same night, Katsuki remembers sitting together with the lights off so they could barely see each other, shoulders pressed in a single point of contact. They didn't speak.
"You worry too much," Deku says. "I'll be okay if you're there. Alright?"
Truth be told, after entering U.A., Katsuki stopped talking to his old middle school friends. Not that they were really friends, his fellow bullies—they were all ass-kissing losers who followed whatever Katsuki did. Shitty example of friends. No one in Class 3-A did what they did.
"Speech," Deku says. "We'll have to talk together."
"You write it."
"Fine. We'll have to start off with some sappy shit, yeah? You're good at that."
Deku puts on a serious face and uses his chopsticks as a pretend microphone. "To my past teachers and classmates, thank you for the great honor of inviting us here for this occasion-"
Kacchan mimes puking over the side of the table. Deku breaks character and laughs. A good sound.
"We'll figure something out," Deku says. "Oh, right. Did you finish the paperwork for last week's incident yet?"
Kacchan crosses his arms. "I'm missing form J-1. And I need to run a few things over with the police."
They talk about other things for the rest of lunch, and then take their leave. As they enter the agency, Yumi looks up from her desk.
“Oh, someone came in wanting to talk to you.” She waves towards the open lounge area where any guests usually go. “He’s waiting over there.”
They head down the hall. There’s a man slouched in the chair by the vending machine. He stands when they round the corner, and something in his eyes puts Katsuki on guard.
Katsuki steps forward on instinct; Deku grabs his arm.
"Bakugou!" The voice is familiar. "And hey—Midoriya, too. I hope you don’t mind me visiting your agency."
Katsuki steps to the right. Covers Deku a little more, even though the tightening grip on his arm tells him Deku knows exactly what he's doing.
“Why are you here?” He has to wrack his memory for a name besides Triangle Head. An image flashes through his head, followed by the same voice chanting get him, Bakugou, get him!
Odaki holds out his hand, but Katsuki stares until Odaki lowers it again.
“Oh, well, I work in the area—”
“Cut the shit, why come find us?”
“Kacchan.” Deku’s voice is low, warning, but he doesn’t try to stop Katsuki.
“Heard you guys were going to Aldera for the time capsule ceremony. It’s true, huh? I’m going, too. I just wanted to stop by and catch up with a couple of old friends. We used to hang out, didn’t we?”
“Deku,” Katsuki says loudly. “Don’t you have paperwork to finish? You’d better get a copy of Form J-1 from Nobuta.”
He doesn’t want Deku in the same room as Odaki. He doesn’t even want them in the same building, not right now, and he sure as hell doesn’t want to see Odaki pretending to be Deku’s friend like he wasn’t right next to Katsuki laughing.
“Sorry, Odaki.” Deku’s voice is light and cheery. Katsuki can’t see his face, but he’s certain there’s a smile. “We’re busy, you know. I’ll see you at the ceremony, though.”
Katsuki waits until Deku’s footsteps have faded and the telltale sound of the elevator before he speaks.
“Listen,” he starts, stepping forward and grabbing Odaki’s shirt.
“Hey! This isn’t any way to treat an old friend—”
“You listen to me,” Katsuki says, pinning Odaki with a look. Odaki’s mouth thins into a line.
“You haven’t changed, huh.”
Katsuki swallows and lets go. “Yes, I have.” His hand feels like it’s burning. “And I’m not letting you walk in and pretend you’re friends with Deku. You weren’t.”
“I owned up to what I did. And as far as I know, all the rest of you pretended what we did at Aldera didn’t fucking happen, old friend.”
Odaki stays silent.
“So here’s what’s going to happen. You’re not going to talk—you’re not going to even fucking look at Deku, okay? You never wanted to be his friend when he was Quirkless. Don’t start now.”
Katsuki and Odaki both turn. Yumi stands, arms crossed over her chest.
“We’re done here,” Katsuki says roughly, taking a step back. “Why don’t you see Odaki out.”
“This way,” Yumi says, perfectly polite. Odaki straightens his shirt and walks forward. Yumi looks back and makes a face that says, do I need to beat him up?
Katsuki shrugs a shoulder and cracks his knuckles. Yumi gets the message.
“What did you talk to Odaki about?” Deku asks the moment Katsuki heads back to their office. “I started on J-1 for you, by the way. But I gave up on line three.”
Katsuki grunts. “Nothing you need to know about. Let’s go home early today. It’s quiet anyway.”
“You never say that. Plus, there’s still time for something to go wrong.”
Katsuki flips Deku off. The attacks last week are resolved, and the only thing they’ve really had to deal with are some attempted robberies. Nobuta’s taken advantage of the time to forward them loads of emails about events and appearances for the next few months, and making them prepare for their upcoming interview with Hero! Magazine JP and the attached photoshoot.
“I’ll take you to see that new All Might movie,” he says.
Deku’s eyes narrow, but only for a moment, because his excitement overrides everything else.
“Kacchan’s the best.”
“Kacchan’s not paying.”
“ Kacchan. You said you were taking me.”
“Taking you… to pay for me.”
“Kacchan’s the worst.”
Nothing goes wrong. Well, almost nothing, except the rest of form J-1, when Katsuki gets to line forty-seven and realizes he messed up and has to start over. Paperwork. The bane of every hero’s existence.
They leave early. As promised, Katsuki does take Deku to the new All Might movie. They’re riding off of the wave following All Might’s recent book, and for the most part, the classic hero-fighting-villain plot doesn’t disappoint.
Deku keeps up a running commentary the whole time. He gets a little too loud at one point, gets shushed by someone, and then they apologize when they realize they’re shushing Deku; and then Deku apologizes, Katsuki tells them both to shut up, and they apologize to him. Somehow it’s not the worst thing that’s happened today.
They get out and have a simple dinner at home. Then, like clockwork, Deku gets his laptop to work on Quirk+ as Katsuki leaves the kitchen. On his way there from the kitchen he passes the fridge. There’s a new sticky note on it, and it says, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FORGIVE in Deku’s messy handwriting. He heads to bed.
Except he doesn’t. Instead he shuts the door to his room quietly behind him, then steps out onto the little balcony, and makes a phone call.
As expected at this time of night, Aizawa-sensei picks up.
“ It’s late for you, Bakugou, ” he says by way of greeting.
“And early for you,” Katsuki returns.
“ Hm, ” Aizawa-sensei says. “ What is it? Not Midoriya again. ”
Katsuki searches for the right words to say. He must take too long, because Aizawa-sensei continues.
“ So it is Midoriya. ” He sounds tired, but Katsuki knows he’s worried.
“ What happened? ”
“He’s not hurt. We’re fine. I just—” He blows out a careful breath. “I mean. You know. About Aldera.”
Aizawa-sensei barely conceals his surprise. “ Your middle school. ”
“Mm,” Katsuki says. “We got invited back. For a time capsule ceremony. You know, uh, that stupid thing where they make us do a bunch of activities and then bury it so we can dig it back up later.”
“ And you’re going? ”
“Deku wanted to go.”
Aizawa-sensei sighs. “ I see. ”
“I don’t really… I don’t want to.”
“ To go? ”
“To mess something up.”
“ Midoriya trusts you. ” A hum of consideration. “ I trust you. Bakugou, you’re not the same person that entered U.A. You know that. ”
Katsuki swallows. “I never really told you that much about Aldera. Right? Just about—me. The school was shit. Never really thought about it back then.”
A full semester of supplemental classes, probation, and counseling is what Aizawa-sensei gave him after Katsuki admitted to what he’d done to Deku when they were younger; against a scale, the punishment weighs heavy against a glowing recommendation letter, a blind eye, and unwavering praise from the Aldera teachers.
“ So you’re telling me now. Why? ”
“Deku and I are gonna do something. At the ceremony. We haven’t figured it all out yet, but… they’re getting what they deserve.”
Aizawa-sensei knows the right things to say. “ I’ll be watching, then. ”
Katsuki and Deku don’t really talk about the time capsule ceremony for the next week. They get through the interview and photoshoot with Hero! Magazine JP, are called to help with a breakout—some villain that Deku remembers from their first year, and then there’s even a few days where they don’t see each other when Deku leaves town for Quirk+.
Somewhere in between, he finds himself CC’ed to another email. Short, and to the point.
To: Tokuda Taneo [email@example.com], CC: Kingpin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Aldera Time Capsule Ceremony
If you’re available May 15, I want you at Aldera Middle School reporting. We’ve got something to say.
One day Nobuta sticks his head in the office and says, “Have you worked on your speech?”
“For Aldera’s time capsule ceremony.”
Katsuki wants to climb out the window. “Haven’t had time.”
“Make time. I’ll read over what you have tomorrow morning.”
“Fuck you,” Katsuki says, “this is going to be the best speech ever.”
It actually is, because Katsuki’s first draft is a scathing recount of Aldera’s flaws and how all the teachers are complacent shitheads. Nobuta takes out a few of the cuss words, and Katsuki adds them back in on the second draft.
By draft three, Deku’s back in town, too.
“I think we should visit,” Deku says.
“You wanna go to that shithole twice? ”
Deku shrugs. “I looked into it. Sasaki-sensei is still teaching, you know.”
“Great,” Katsuki says, “I’ll send him to the hospital.”
Deku looks over. “No. We’re going to play nice. I want him to feel like—”
“Let’s go, then.”
No fanfare, no announcement, no warning. They go to Aldera the same day Deku suggests it, to get it over with. As they close in on the school, something ugly twists under Katsuki’s skin.
It feels more like a mission than a casual visit. In some ways it must be, scouting their target before making a move.
The receptionist stammers when they walk in.
“We’d just like to re-familiarize ourselves with the school,” Deku says. “Maybe take a tour, see if anything’s changed.”
“Of- of course.”
They’re given visitor passes and free range. The receptionist, of course, politely offers to walk them through, but Deku declines. Katsuki doesn’t say anything.
Just being in this place makes his blood boil.
Displaced anger. He can’t tell if it’s the pressing atmosphere that’s got him tense, if the school itself always made him feel like he was choking, or if it’s his middle school self, or him, now.
Aldera, physically, hasn’t changed much. They’ve added another building for more classrooms to accommodate an increased number of students. The gym has been expanded. Other than that, really, it looks like what Katsuki remembers—those aching halls, the stiff classroom doors.
They stop by the auditorium to see where they’ll be speaking. It’s empty, seat after seat arranged neatly in rows. Katsuki boosts himself up to the stage with an explosion and faces where everyone will be, elevated. Deku settles into a seat at the front row.
“Practice your speech for me, Kacchan!”
Katsuki snorts. There really is no one around, not that he cares anyway, so he cups his hands over his mouth and yells, “Go to hell!”
Deku laughs. It’s a startling sound.
“This isn’t the Sports Festival.”
He grins back. “It’s worse.”
Deku stands, clapping for him; even so, there’s still some distance between the two of them. Katsuki can’t stand it suddenly and vaults back down to the ground. He scowls.
“Are you okay?” Deku asks as they walk out and back through the school halls. “You’re, you know.”
Katsuki kicks the ground. “Fine.”
There’s a pause in which they both wait for Katsuki to say something, or to ask the same question.
“You?” he finally offers. “You seem like—”
“Fine,” Deku interrupts. It’s not the quick, protesting I’m fine he says when he’s hurt bad enough to go to the hospital, or the pleading I’m fine he says when Katsuki finds him pressed underneath his desk on shitty days. Katsuki looks him up and down.
“I’ll beat you up if you’re not fine.”
“That’s counterproductive, Kacchan.”
“Not for me.”
Deku snorts and slugs Katsuki’s shoulder. Doesn’t hurt, of course.
“You know the signal,” is what he ends up going with.
“For emergencies?” Deku jokes.
“For emergencies,” Katsuki repeats, and Deku smiles but slots that little piece of information he’s always had—that Katsuki has his back—away in his mind.
“Let’s say hi to Sasaki-sensei.”
They fall into step with each other. It’s a quiet marvel, something Katsuki is so used to he barely appreciates it anymore. How well they know each other, that is. How aware they are, always. Deku doesn’t walk too fast like he’s on the verge of a run; Katsuki doesn’t walk too slow like he’s looking for prey. They’re even.
Still, despite what he says, Deku starts getting skittish. He doesn’t say anything, but he must be feeling the same thing Katsuki does. The unannounced presence of memory.
Trauma, Hound Dog would say. Hurt, on Deku’s part, and guilt for Katsuki.
Deku stops in front of a notice board. He’s blocking what Katsuki can see of it, tearing down a flyer.
“Fine,” he says, his voice tight and less steady than before. He tacks the flyer back up.
Katsuki looks at it after Deku strides forward.
Anti-Bullying, it says in red characters across the top of the page. Some bullet points, some empty advice. Like trying to seal a gaping wound with only tape.
“Wait up,” Katsuki says, and Deku pauses a moment to let Katsuki rejoin him.
They haven’t talked to anyone besides the receptionist. It’s not like there’s any concrete evidence, yet, of what Katsuki suspects. A person can change a lot over ten years. A place like this, though?
Deku silently gestures. They stop just before a classroom. Their classroom.
After their first year here, Deku always showed up early to class. One of the other bullies thought of a trick to hold the door shut if Deku was later than him, trapping him in the hallway while Sasaki-sensei sat at his desk. Katsuki wonders if Deku’s thinking of the same incident, or another of the many.
“Hey,” Katsuki says.
Deku’s throat bobs. “I’m fine.”
“You know the signal.”
Deku reaches up, raps on the classroom door, and then without warning pulls it open and steps in.
There’s a beat of silence as Katsuki follows, and then a cacophony of noise as a class of wide-eyed kids clamor and yell. Sasaki-sensei’s back is to the class as he stops writing on the board, and then he turns.
“Bakugou, Midoriya, is that you?”
Katsuki steps forward.
“Sasaki-sensei,” he says after a moment, and then, though his fingers are curling into fists, he bows. Deku does, too.
“What an unexpected pleasure,” Sasaki-sensei says. He reaches up and tugs at his shirt collar. He’s smiling.
“Kingpin!” some of the students shout. “Deku!”
The moment’s broken, interrupted by the energy that only kids have. Questions, demands to show their Quirks, to take pictures, autographs.
“I hope you don’t mind,” he says. “We’re just here to observe.”
“By- by all means,” Sasaki-sensei replies. He gives himself away by looking at the spot where Deku used to sit. “Class, settle down. Settle down. We can, um, talk to the heroes after.”
They head to the back and tuck themselves in the corner. No extra seats. Sasaki-sensei starts teaching again.
Eventually he gives up on keeping the class attentive, though, and waves at the two of them.
“Why don’t you come and say a few words for the class? I’m sure they’d love to hear about your experience.”
“Really?” Katsuki drawls. Deku grabs his hand. Nails dig in, a moment of pain, then he lets go. “What would you like us to say? I’m sure we have plenty to share.”
Just to see how their old teacher reacts. A single flinch.
“An- anything,” Sasaki-sensei says. “Um, questions? Raise your hands!”
Deku straightens his back and nods to Katsuki.
“Can I be a hero?” is the first question that gets asked by a quiet girl sitting to one side. Someone laughs. Katsuki grits his teeth. No noticeable Quirk.
“Of course you can,” Deku replies. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”
“Even if my Quirk isn’t suited—”
“You don’t need a Quirk to save someone,” Katsuki finishes. “Sooner you learn that, the better.
The class mutters amongst themselves. There’s other questions after that, too, and Katsuki falls into a familiar haze of answering the same ones they usually get. He’s not sure what he says or if it’s any good, but it seems to be enough.
At some point he realizes he’s sweating. He could set his hands alight so easily.
“Well, we should go,” Deku notes at the end of class. “We don’t want to take any more of your time.”
“I’ll see you out.”
Outside the classroom, Sasaki-sensei shuts the door and then pauses.
“It’s good to see the two of you again. It’s been quite a while. I wish you’d have come to the graduation reunion.”
“We were busy.”
“Of course, of course, of course.” Sasaki-sensei chuckles. “We’re proud of you both. Two of my students aiming for U.A., and both of you going on to becoming pro heroes. Have you seen your pictures, in the halls?”
It’s because Katsuki is always paying attention to Deku that he knows the instant something is wrong. Some part of Deku shutters closed, like the way U.A.’s security system works, locking down and raising wall after wall after wall. No one in, no one out.
You’re weak, Quirkless—
“No,” Katsuki responds lightly. “I haven’t yet.”
You’ll never be a hero—
Are they all pretending the past doesn’t exist? They had Quirk counselling every week. Deku never went after the first few times because he was Quirk-less. Katsuki never went after the first few times because he hadn’t needed it. He’d already honed his Quirk.
After they’d both expressed interest in U.A., they’d been required to go back in for counselling. Katsuki remembers. He’d snuck into the office during one of Deku’s appointment, to listen in, and the counselor kept saying—
You may as well give up now.
“Do you remember what you put in the time capsule?”
“It’s been years.”
“We had you write letters to your future selves,” Sasaki-sensei reminds them. “You’ll be reading them at the ceremony.”
“I hope you find mine—worthwhile,” Deku says. “Have a good day, Sasaki-sensei.”
“We have matters to attend to,” Katsuki cuts in. “Come on, Izuku.”
They walk away. When they’re out of sight of the classroom, Deku lets go, and light sparks around his shoulders for half a minute before it disappears. Katsuki wipes his sweaty hands on his shirt.
“Izuku,” Deku says.
“Didn’t feel right.”
Deku drops his head. With his undercut, his hair doesn’t cover his face, but for a brief moment it’s enough to shadow his eyes.
“I think it’s time to go,” Katsuki suggests, lowering his voice and making it gentle. It’s not a natural thing for him to speak like this—it’s something he’s had to learn.
Deku sniffles. Then he lifts his head. “Yeah.”
They take a different hallway to get back to the front of the school, and there it is. Larger than life, pasted on the wall is a poster of the two of them. It’s from one of their promotional shoots. Katsuki and Deku stand back to back, fists raised, smiling.
Without speaking, they both stop to look at it. On the poster, Katsuki notices names. Students. Aspiring pro heroes.
It’s kind of a joke.
When they finally step out, there’s someone waiting for them at the gates. Katsuki takes a moment to breathe. Deku just stands there, shaking a little. The person at the gates waves.
“Oh!” Deku cries, and closes the distance in a second. “Toshinori!”
“Well, now everyone knows I’m here, my boy,” All Might says, but obligingly settles a large, bony hand on Deku’s back as they hug. He smiles at Katsuki. “Hello, young Katsuki.”
“Hey, old man,” he replies.
Deku holds on longer than usual. All Might doesn’t seem to care, ruffling Deku’s hair a little and reaching out with a hand to pat Katsuki’s shoulder.
“What are you doing here?” It's not supposed to sound so demanding, but it is.
“I can’t come to see my boys?”
Katsuki arches an eyebrow. “At our middle school?”
“I’m sightseeing.” All Might chuckles. “No, I heard you were here and thought I’d come see you. Need a lift to the agency?”
He glances at Deku.
“Yeah,” he says. “Why not.”
They don’t do any work with All Might around, of course. It’s rude. They talk instead, mostly about what the rest of the former Class 3-A is up to.
When they head up to the offices, Katsuki stops.
All Might pauses. “Hm?”
“Thanks for… coming,” Katsuki mutters. “Deku needed this.”
“He has you.”
“He needed someone who isn’t me.”
All Might wraps an arm around Katsuki’s shoulders and pulls him in for a side hug.
“I’m proud of you,” he tells Katsuki. “You’ve come a really long way. You know that, right?”
“I hope so.”
“Tell me,” All Might says when they’re in the office again. He takes a seat in one of the extra chairs. “What are the two of you planning?”
“We’re not always planning something, you know,” Deku replies, dropping into his own chair.
“Well, we don’t actually have a plan.”
“Yeah, we do.”
“What’s the plan?”
Katsuki considers this. It’s a pretty good plan. “Yeah.”
Deku makes a frustrated noise. “I can’t believe Sasaki-sensei hasn’t—he hasn’t changed one bit. You know, I don’t think—”
He drops his head on the desk and goes incoherent. All Might sighs, reaching over to rest his hand on Deku’s shoulder.
Even after years of knowing each other, Katsuki still feels the urge to leave.
“I’m making tea,” he says, and stands. He meets All Might’s gaze. All Might nods. Deku will be fine with him.
There are still some parts of the tangled, deep relationship between Deku and All Might that Katsuki isn’t quite privy to. Something too tender to name, too close to their hearts, more than mentor and successor, more than legacy.
Katsuki messes around and takes his time making tea. He checks on the rest of the agency, makes rounds, makes the tea, and then heads back up. Deku’s wiping at his face when Katsuki steps back in and shoves cups of steaming tea in his hands.
“Thanks, Kacchan,” Deku murmurs. Katsuki doesn’t say anything.
“So this will be a public event,” All Might notes, leaning forward and pressing his hands together.
It reminds Katsuki of their days at U.A., though it’s been quite some time since. When it was just the three of them figuring things out and stumbling around together.
A lot has changed. They’re pro heroes for one, though All Might is still teaching. All Might looks different, too, his light hair just barely fading into grey here and there. He’s got more wrinkles around his eyes. Doesn’t walk around like he’s carrying the weight of the world anymore.
Deku stares at his tea. “What… how- how they treated me wasn’t right. And I think we’re both in… in a place where we can do something about it, now.”
“They haven’t changed,” Katsuki spits. “Sasaki-sensei… you should have heard him. The bastard.”
“Kacchan,” Deku sighs, but there’s no heat in it.
“You’ll expose them, so to speak.”
Deku looks at Katsuki. They both nod.
“Good,” All Might says quietly. “What do you need from me?”
“Your bank account information,” Katsuki bites out. “No—just…”
“Be our teacher,” Deku says.
All Might smiles. “You don’t need me for that.” Then he tilts his head to the side. “Do you really need funds, though? I can transfer some—”
“If you’re offering…”
“Consider it done.”
“Don’t actually, old man,” Katsuki says, grinning. “We’re doing fine. You could make a donation to Quirk+ though. Deku can’t fucking refuse that.”
Deku hides his face, red. He really can’t refuse it.
All Might leans back. “Have you announced the program yet?”
“Nah, they’re still getting everything set up and working on stuff,” Katsuki answers for him. “You’ll hear about it once they’re ready.”
“Back to the topic,” All Might prompts. “You want…”
Deku shrugs. “I just want them to stop pretending. I want to tell them that I never forgot what they did to me. That can’t—happen again.”
“I’ll support you,” is the promise. “Always.”
It’s after All Might leaves that Katsuki suggests they go for a spar. Deku squints at him from across the room.
“Kacchan, not every problem is solved by fighting.”
“I know,” Katsuki says. “But I bet you want to punch me in the face.”
Katsuki waits, and Deku’s lower lip juts out in a pout. “Maybe a little.”
They head to the gym and warm up with a set of laps, and then Deku drags out the mats.
“Not for this,” Deku agrees, and they step onto opposite ends of the mats.
They move together. They don’t actually spar that much considering, but it’s because they know each other too well. Katsuki catches the shift of Deku’s foot and twists left, returns with a punch of his own.
Deku swings and clips the side of Katsuki’s jaw. Pain shoots up, pulses in his cheek, his mouth. First hit. It feels good.
They settle into a rhythm after that. Katsuki matches what Deku gives him, blow for blow. He hits as hard as Deku wants him to—painful, but not lasting.
Deku pants. “He used to—”
His foot hits the edge of the mat. Katsuki balances, keeping his weight spread evenly, and then gets a foot forward again.
“He used to tell me I—”
Deku’s foot connects. He pulls Katsuki down, then stands over him. Katsuki lets himself lay there for another moment, breathing.
“—he taught me I wasn’t worth—” He aims a kick at the ground instead. “Anything!”
“I know,” Katsuki croaks.
“What kind of teacher—! ”
Deku holds a hand out. Katsuki takes it, and Deku pulls him up, then in.
“I know,” Katsuki says in Deku’s ear, and feels Deku grasp the back of his shirt. He’s crying.
“What if… I was- I could have—”
“No,” Katsuki says. “I wouldn’t have let you.”
Starise Agency @starise_desk 15 May
Tune in to the livestream recording of Aldera’s Time Capsule Ceremony starting in THIRTY MINUTES. @officialdeku and @officialkingpin will be there!
Deku @officialdeku 15 May
A little nervous, but I’m looking forward to it. I have a lot to say about Aldera.
The morning of the ceremony, Katsuki slices an apple in his hand. It’s quick work. It takes only a few minutes, and he doesn’t even have to think about the way the knife bites into the apple’s flesh.
By the time Deku’s ready and out in one of the nice shirts Mom forced him to get, Katsuki presses two slices into his hand. They head out after that.
“Of course,” Deku says. He reaches up to adjust his collar; Katsuki watches with sharp eyes to make sure he doesn’t mess anything up. At the very least, after graduating, there’s no dress code that makes Deku wear a tie—just as well, considering he never learned how to wear it properly.
Deku doesn’t ask the same question back, even though the blood under Katsuki’s skin is humming and hot.
Instead, Deku asks, “Are you ready?”
Katsuki dips his head.
He’s as ready as he’ll ever get.
There’s always a handful of moments that people tend to hinge their lives upon. There are wants, and there are wants felt so deeply you cannot help but picture them in clarity, dream about them. Katsuki’s always had that just-out-of-reach dream of being the number one hero, standing on a level no one else can reach. A speech that’ll put them all in their stupid fucking plalces.
He’s never dreamed of this: walking into a packed auditorium, Deku at his side with cameras and unforgiving eyes on them. To deliver a speech to the school that told Katsuki he could be a hero simply because of the spark between his hands; and Deku that he couldn’t simply because of the extra joint in his toe.
By then, Katsuki’s gone through five drafts, but even so as he’s walking in he slips the folded paper out from under his jacket and into the trash can.
Sasaki-sensei’s there. His eyes are hungry. He’s not scared, but Katsuki slows as he walks past and draws Sasaki-sensei’s attention.
“You’d better listen closely.”
Principal Motoki stands at a podium. Next to him is a large cylindrical container. As Katsuki walks up, he feels his palms start sweating. The lights are too bright.
Motoki says some shit, opening remarks that Katsuki doesn’t care to listen to.
He can’t stop looking at the shine of the metal canister. It hasn’t been touched in ten years. He feels too much to be contained in that small space.
“In our time capsule are the letters of a class that has gone on to become more than we could have dreamed of. In each letter to their future self, we asked them to answer three questions, so that now in the present they may reflect.”
What do you hope to be?
“Kacchan,” Deku whispers.
There’s a hiss as Motoki opens the time capsule. Katsuki braces himself—for what, he doesn’t know, as if some enemy that can be beaten will emerge from the dead air. Nothing happens.
What do you fear?
“Our heroes,” Motoki says into the microphone, gesturing. “I'm proud to introduce to you all Kingpin and Deku, Aldera alumni. Ten years ago they were our students, and now they have—”
“Oi, enough of this crap.” A ripple through the crowd. Katsuki’s stopped caring. He must look angry, because Motoki takes a step back, and Deku a step forward.
“This is it,” Deku mutters under his breath. He starts speaking, soft so no one can hear, that endless stream of words that always used to piss Katsuki off for no reason.
Katsuki strides forward. Snatches his envelope from Motoki’s grasp.
His name’s on it. Each character is perfect in size in proportion. Bakugou Katsuki.
What do you think you’ll become?
Deku steps up next to him.
Katsuki opens his mouth to speak, but the words fall away. He thinks of his discarded speech. He thinks about Deku, just days before, crying.
“We—” His throat seizes.
In the back, Mom stands. She doesn’t yell anything, no words of encouragement, but it’s clear anyway.
“A few months after graduation, Deku and I decided we were in it together.” Next to him, Deku startles. “We debuted together, started our agency together. There’s… a lot of shit I couldn’t have done without him.”
He heaves out a breath and looks over. “So—thanks, Deku.”
Katsuki holds up his sealed envelope. He doesn’t open it. “Aldera asked us to come open our letters and revisit our middle school years. You want to know what’s in here? A load of bullshit. When I was fourteen, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. Back then I was an asshole and a bully, and Aldera did nothing to stop me. They were ready to raise a hero who couldn’t even care about others.”
Deku presses their shoulders together, silently. Then he says, “Kacchan’s changed a lot, for the better. But truth be told… I don’t think Aldera has changed at all.”
He takes a deep breath before continuing. “For years, I thought I was Quirkless. So did everyone else. And I still wanted to be a hero.”
Deku’s shaking. Tears gather in his eyes. Fear, hurt, rage—all for that younger version of himself, someone who wanted only a single person that would reach out to him, to tell him what he wanted to hear his whole life.
A slow moving river. The splash of water over rocks, water filling his shoes. Deku’s holding out his hand.
“For years, Aldera told me I would amount to nothing.” Deku turns to Motoki. “If any of you think they helped me achieve my dream, then you’re wrong. Because the only thing this school taught me was that I was worthless.”
The auditorium is so quiet the only thing Katsuki can hear is Deku’s voice, breaking on the edge of a scream. It’s ten years’ worth of silence.
“I can’t ever forgive you for that.”
The tear of paper may as well be the scrape of a knife.
Deku opens his letter, and begins to read.
Katsuki can’t repeat what’s written. The words on a water-damaged page, the blotches of ink—some of them are what Katsuki said, ten years ago, and some of them are what their teachers said, ten years ago, and some of them have never been said.
What do you hope to be?
The clarity of a video from a bygone era. All Might’s booming voice. And then quieter, as he held the both of them and told them he was proud.
“ I’m gonna be the greatest hero— ”
What do you fear?
The trailing smell of smoke. Acid in his mouth. Chain, metal, blood, a single article headline Katsuki buried deep within him to burn as fuel.
“ You’re supposed to be a pebble— ”
What do you think you’ll become?
Deku speaks. Sometimes he’s quiet. Sometimes he’s loud. Deku reads, and Katsuki listens. Not for the first time and not for the last. When he’s done, the letter is set down on the podium; hidden, Katsuki swipes his thumb across Deku’s wrist.
When he’s done, no one dares to say another word.
“This is your lesson,” Deku says. “Please, don’t forget it.”
He steps off the stage. Katsuki follows, because there is nothing left for him to say goodbye to. The boy who used to walk the halls like he owned them, who never took help from anyone, and whose hands were always burning with pain and desire—he’s blinked awake and clambered up on unsteady legs into a future he built.
Deku scrubs at his eyes, but he doesn’t exactly look sad. “Yeah?”
He has to think about what he wants to say. Always a hundred different things, hot flashes of feelings he can never get right. The bite of being wrong has always tasted like bitter melon, but he’s grown accustomed to it.
I’m sorry. I was wrong. You mean something to me. I want to be here.
That’s okay. He has years ahead of them to try to fit everything he feels into words, and he doesn’t have to write it on a single sheet of pale paper.
So instead Katsuki points forward and goes, “I’ll race you.”
Deku shoves him. It doesn’t hurt at all.
“You’re going to lose, you know?”
Losing to Deku isn’t so bad these days, so Katsuki starts running. He hears Deku’s startled laugh and out of the corner of his eye, catches Deku smiling.
And they leave Aldera behind.