Izuku heard Shouto’s friends before he saw them. The cafeteria was swarming with U.A. students, but he was still able to pick out a vaguely familiar voice amidst the cacophony of sounds. He turned towards it to see a small group of students waving them over and followed after Shouto as he began walking towards them.
As they walked closer, Izuku recognized them as Tenya Iida, Ochako Uraraka, and Tsuyu Asui. He already knew about their quirks and how each of them performed in the sports festival, but when it came to their personalities, he had conflicting stories from both Shouto and Katsuki’s accounts.
“Oh, he brought Recovery Girl’s intern with him,” Asui noted, giving Izuku a friendly wave which he returned.
“It’s Izuku Midoriya, correct?” Iida stood from his seat and held out a perfectly straight arm for a handshake. “I’m Tenya Iida, class 2-A’s representative.”
Izuku had been secretly quite excited to meet Iida in particular. He had been relieved when Shouto and Katsuki updated him on the Stain incident and informed him that Iida was safe and receiving the support he needed.
Katsuki had complained less and less about him over time, his grievances over Iida’s strict professionalism gradually shifting to quiet approval of his classmate’s progress. Izuku also found it interesting that Iida had been raised surrounded by the hero industry similar to Shouto, but his experience had been significantly more positive.
“It’s nice to officially meet you,” Izuku said with a smile as he shook the student’s hand.
“I invited Midoriya to eat lunch with us, if that’s okay with everyone,” Shouto said as the two joined the table.
“Of course!” Iida assured.
“I’m a little surprised you reached out like that, Todoroki,” Uraraka admitted. “You’re not normally so social.”
“I bet he’s hoping Midoriya has embarrassing stories about Bakugou,” Asui guessed as she held out her hand for Izuku to shake. “I’m Tsuyu Asui, by the way.”
“I’m Ochako Uraraka,” Uraraka introduced herself and Izuku shook her hand as well. “And please tell us you have embarrassing stories about Bakugou. The guy is too perfect, there has to be something off.”
“No one’s perfect,” Izuku argued, holding back a laugh as he considered all of his boyfriend’s bad habits. “He just tends to be good at everything he does.”
“Sounds pretty perfect to me,” Uraraka grumbled, picking at her lunch.
“Well, perfect at fighting and academics,” Iida conceded. “However, the personality leaves something to be desired.” Izuku watched his eyes suddenly widen as he realized what he had said and who he had said it in front of. “I’m sorry, that was terribly rude of me. I know you two are friends-”
“Don’t worry, I get it. He’s rough around the edges,” Izuku quickly agreed with a chuckle. Iida relaxed and sent him a grateful smile. Izuku glanced around at the group of classmates, a mischievous smile growing on his face as his curiosity got the best of him. “Honestly, if you want to vent about him then go for it.”
“Oh, good because he’s so rude and I think he hates me too,” Uraraka immediately said.
Izuku’s eyes widened in response to both the quick response and the starkness of the confession. It wasn’t strange to hear Katsuki described as rude considering his blunt honesty and competitive attitude often made him come across as perpetually ill-mannered. The part that was a surprise to him was that Uraraka believed Katsuki hated her. Katsuki always made it very clear if he hated someone and Uraraka had never once come up on that list of individuals.
“Hates you?” Izuku repeated, wondering if he had heard her right.
“You said you watched the sports festivals, right?” Uraraka checked, waiting for Izuku to nod before she continued. “He nearly killed me in the fighting tournament when we were first-years.”
“He was quite ruthless with his quirk,” Iida acknowledged. “It was like he didn’t even care that you were a girl.”
So that’s what it was.
Izuku couldn’t hold back his laughter once he realized what had led Uraraka to believe Katsuki held such negative feelings for her. He hadn’t gone easy on her during the fight and she had misinterpreted that as him having hostile intentions.
He noticed the others, sans Shouto, were now looking at him with confusion so he quickly moved to explain his sudden laughter.
“That’s because he didn’t care that you’re a girl,” Izuku explained. “Kacchan doesn’t discriminate when it comes to fighting so gender is never a factor to consider. If anything, I think he respects you more than hates you. You fought harder than he had anticipated in that tournament battle.”
He thought back to the fight and how even he hadn’t been able to think of many good strategies for Uraraka’s quirk. She utilized her environment incredibly well but Katsuki was just too strong. He had been honing his quirk since the moment it manifested and he knew how to use it.
“You’re kidding.” From Uraraka’s tone Izuku could tell she was still skeptical.
“Think about it,” He pressed. “Would a villain give you special treatment for being a girl?”
“So, he fights like a villain,” Iida concluded.
“I don’t think that’s the point he’s trying to make.” Asui thankfully spoke up before Izuku had to. He nodded towards her, grateful for the correction and the fact that at least one of them seemed to understand.
“Kacchan just sees you as someone who’s training to be a hero and he thinks heroes should be able to take on an opponent’s full power,” Izuku clarified. “For him, not using full power is an insult.”
With that final comment he sent a playful glare in the direction of Shouto who had been silently eating his soba as he listened to the conversation. He swallowed his food and responded with an expression of mock offense, nudging Izuku’s knee with his own under the table.
“Don’t give me that look,” Shouto told him. “I’ve been doing better.”
“Are you sure Bakugou doesn’t hate me?” Uraraka asked, raising her hands to press them against her cheeks. “He calls me ‘Round Face’. That seems like an insult.”
“To be fair he doesn’t really call anyone by their actual name,” Asui reasoned with one of her fingers pressed to her chin in thought. “Well, except Midoriya apparently.”
Izuku decided not to share that her comment was far from the truth. Katsuki used nicknames for nearly everyone, even Izuku. Often his were just a fondly spoken ‘Nerd’ or very rarely he’d call Izuku ‘Bunny’ if they were alone because of Izuku’s energetic nature. The first time he had ever even called him Izuku instead of Midoriya was when they started dating.
Sometimes his nicknames could come across as insults but for Katsuki they were mostly just a method of remembering people. A nickname other than ‘Extra’ meant you had been logged in his head and that he had acknowledged you as someone worth remembering. The use of someone’s actual name, be it first or last, meant that he decided you’d be important in his life.
Izuku couldn’t stop smiling the day he heard Katsuki say ‘Kirishima’ instead of ‘Shitty Hair’ during a phone call.
“He doesn’t actually mean to insult you with it.” Izuku defended, though he made a mental note to tell Katsuki to rethink some of the nicknames he was using.
“And he lets you call him ‘Kacchan’,” Uraraka recalled with amazement in her voice. She seemed to drop the discussion of fighting in favor of Izuku’s choice in nicknames. “That’s such a cute thing to call him. You two must be such good friends.”
Izuku bit the inside of his cheek and nudged Shouto back with his own knee under the table when he heard a quiet chuckle escape the other boy. Katsuki wasn’t the only one with a possessive side to him. While Izuku was the more subtle one in the relationship, he still wasn’t a fan of having to hide the fact that he and Katsuki were dating.
“Yeah,” Izuku muttered as Shouto strategically switched the conversation to something new. “The best of friends.”
“Oh hey, isn’t that the healer intern?”
“Where?” Katsuki’s head snapped up on instinct at hearing mention of Izuku. Thankfully none of his friends commented as they all had their attention drawn towards another table in the cafeteria.
“Over there eating with Todoroki, Iida, Uraraka, and Asui,” Sero answered, gesturing slightly towards the students in question.
“Oh, that’s so nice!” Ashido cooed, watching as Izuku laughed at something Iida had said. “He’ll fit in super well with that group. They’re all such sweethearts.”
“Did you just call Icy Hot a sweetheart?”
“Aw, are you worried that Todoroki’s gonna steal your friend away?” Kaminari teased. Katsuki’s eye twitched and he looked back down at his lunch.
“He can sit with who he wants,” Katsuki muttered, trying his best to bury his instincts.
“When’s the last time you and Midoriya saw each other anyway?” Kirishima asked. “You said he went to live on I-Island when you guys were five, right?”
“I’ve seen him since then. We’ve visited each other a few times over the years and we’d video chat or call as often as we could,” Bakugou told them. “It hard for outsiders to visit I-Island because of the security checks and they generally restrict their researchers and students from leaving.”
“So, you guys really are close, huh?” Kirishima observed, a soft smile on his face. It was clear he was happy learning Katsuki had had a friend like Izuku for so long. “It must’ve been hard on you when he left.”
“The part that sucked the most was how fast it all happened,” Katsuki admitted. “His quirk manifested and then like a couple weeks later his mom was getting calls with scholarship and housing offers. The only catch was that they wanted them to move immediately so they could monitor Izuku’s quirk progression.”
“How’d he discover his quirk? Healing isn’t really as obvious as like…electricity or acid,” Sero pointed out, gesturing towards Ashido and Kaminari as examples. “And he said it was a mutation, right? So, his parents wouldn’t have been looking for it.”
“His mom has some weak telekinesis and his dad’s not in the picture but I think he has a fire breath quirk. As far as the discovery went…” Katsuki paused, debating whether he was still comfortable with how much he was starting to share. “I…hurt myself when we were playing outside one day as kids. I scraped my arm and it was bleeding pretty bad.” He frowned as he recalled the day in question. “Izuku freaked out and grabbed it and then suddenly the bleeding stopped.”
He remembered he had asked Izuku after how it all worked. Normally to use a quirk you needed intent behind every action. Izuku had told him that all he had been thinking in the moment was that Katsuki was hurt and that he didn’t want Katsuki to be hurt.
“That’s so cool!” Ashido said, clapping her hands together. “I bet he was so happy that he helped you.”
“He was,” Katsuki admitted, though he wasn’t smiling like his friends were. “And then he was dizzy because it drained his energy and then we saw a tiny scratch on his arm in the same place as my cut.”
“Wait, does he steal the person’s injury?” Kaminari questioned, confused by the story Katsuki told. “Is that how his quirk works?”
“He doesn’t steal it, Dunce Face,” Katsuki corrected. “The energy drains from the same area so if it’s severe enough then his quirk kind of injures him in return.”
“Harsh,” Sero muttered. “Not a fun drawback.”
“The injuries he gets from using his quirk heal much faster than a normal injury but he still has to deal with the pain and some scarring,” Katsuki further explained.
They discovered that Izuku could somehow still heal his own injuries despite the fact that the reflected damage occurred in the same spot as the injury. However, doing so was a long and incredibly painful process for him. It was like trying to walk by taking two steps forward and one step back. It created a cycle of damage that slowly crawled towards being fully healed.
“So, it can hurt him to heal people but he still does it?” Kirishima asked with awe in his voice. “That’s so manly!”
“Pisses me off,” Katsuki said as he watched Izuku interact with his classmates from afar. “Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if he was just quirkless. That idiot doesn’t have the best sense of self-preservation.”
“Aw, you care about him,” Kaminari teased. “You’re really just a softy, aren’t you, Bakugou?”
“Don’t push it,” Ashido warned, poking Kaminari with her chopstick. “I don’t think Midoriya can bring back the dead.”
“We were supposed to be a hero duo,” Katsuki murmured almost absentmindedly as he watched Izuku laugh again at some unheard comment. “That was always the plan when we were kids. The two best heroes fighting side by side in the field.”
That had been part of the reason for Katsuki’s tantrum when Izuku left. First his friend had manifested a quirk that wasn’t combat oriented and then he had left Katsuki behind with a bunch of extras who weren’t nearly as important to him as Izuku. They’d just follow him around because his quirk was impressive and say yes to whatever he said. They were boring.
For a short while, he almost didn’t care anymore. His hero partner was gone and everyone else at school pissed him off. It wasn’t until Izuku had settled in at I-Island and they were able to do a video call that he finally got his spark back.
Izuku had told him that he would be attending I-Island Academy when he was older so it was Katsuki’s job to get into U.A. for the both of them. Izuku had made him swear that he’d be an amazing pro hero and that promise had been key to Katsuki’s determination to be the best and to surpass everyone. Katsuki would become the hero they both had dreamed of because Izuku’s quirk was needed elsewhere.
“But Midoriya’s still planning to be a pro hero,” Sero reminded him, dragging Katsuki out of his reverie. “Sure, his quirk isn’t made for combat but neither was Mr. Aizawa’s and he made it work.”
Images flashed through Katsuki’s mind, memories of watching his teacher fight during the U.S.J. attack. He thought of the skin and muscle being stripped from Aizawa’s elbow as Shigaraki’s quirk slowly decayed the flesh. He thought of the Nomu crushing his skull into the concrete, easily forcing him down without the opposition of a strength-based quirk to push against it. He thought of the blood seeping down Aizawa’s face as he desperately fought to keep his head up and eyes open to protect his students.
“You two will be in the field together one day, just like you planned,” Kirishima assured with a sharp grin, not realizing what meaning his words held for Katsuki. “Saving the world with explosions and healing.”
A new set of memories filtered through Katsuki’s head, this time of a thirteen-year-old Izuku’s exhausted face looking at him through a video call. He had been wrapped in bandages and bound to his bed with the reflected injuries sustained from attempting to heal something far too damaged to fix.
Izuku had been apologetic that he was making Katsuki worry but held no regret for making such a rash and destructive decision in the first place. He had had the potential to fix the Symbol of Peace, how could he pass that up?
“I had to try,” He had said.
“It would have been worth it,” He had claimed when Katsuki shouted at him with tears in his eyes that he could have died.
That was his reality.
To use his quirk, he needed to sacrifice himself. Bit by bit and scar by scar. And there was no force on Earth that could keep Izuku from making that sacrifice if he truly wanted to. He would keep giving until there was nothing left to give.
“Right,” Katsuki murmured, mostly to himself as his friends had already shifted their attention to another topic of conversation. “Explosions and healing.”