heart of gold, dumb of ass
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Romance, Horror, Fantasy, Modern, Angst (with a happy ending)
this thread is a continuation of a deleted thread from a different site.
Seconds turned to minutes, minutes to HOURS, hours to d a y s. Little by little, the wound in her chest stitched itself closed, leaving nothing but scar tissue in its wake. She glanced down at it as she shed her hospital gown, the morning of her release; angry reddish purple at the center of her being, right in the m i d d l e of her chest. The place where the blade pierced, nearly snuffing out her life. Now, it was just another scar among the rest. A piece of her personal history, forever seared onto her body. (Didn't she read something like that, somewhere, once? That's all history is, after all; scar tissue.)

She noticed herself l i n g e r i n g, slender pale fingers gently running across the mark. ANXIETY bubbled in her chest at the memory, so she quickly turned her attention to something else: the clothes her sister had brought from her closet earlier that morning. She picked up the main garment; a pale pink sundress, lined & adorned with pretty floral white lace. Spaghetti straps & a flared skirt, fluffed out by layers of chiffon underneath. Probably one of the cutest things she owned. Kanae could almost s c o f f. Of course she'd pick this one. At least the shoes looked comfortable enough to walk in this time, she supposed. Her brother would be walking her home, but wouldn't be able to stay there with her. Something about an EMERGENCY patient that just got flown in the night before that he & their dad needed to work on. Her sister would be catching up on all the exams she'd missed earlier that week too, meaning she would probably have the house to herself for several hours. Still, she had agreed to let some of her classmates come visit her at home if they wanted, so it was pretty likely at least one of them would show up.

HER STOMACH TWISTED UNCOMFORTABLY, as it always did when he entered her mind. Though Izuku had been consistent in his visits throughout her stay, things had seemingly reached an impasse between them. After her panic attack, she hadn't spoken to him, much. She just... silently tolerated his presence. The a u r a between them changed irreversibly the night she almost died, & it was excruciating. The air around them was so CHARGED she could almost sense it vibrating, all the raw emotion threatening to spill into the world around them like flood waters. It was overwhelming, dizzying, nauseating. She didn't know what to do with it. She didn't know what to do with ANY of this. SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH HIM.

It had to be about TEN in the morning by the time they got home, and just as promised, Asahi was right back out the door within moments. She w a v e d him off with a small smile, then exhaled a sigh, heading off to the living room to look for a way to kill time. It was only a matter of time before he showed up, but she couldn't allow herself to dwell on the idea. She'd need to save as much emotional energy for the inevitable confrontation as she could.
Things settled down, like they always tended to do in the aftermath of a VILLAIN attack. In the wake of disaster, there was quiet, then r e l i e f. Katsuki never valued these rare moments of peace when they happened after previous attacks. He had always kept his mind clear, easily cutting away all the noise & focusing solely on his goal. His goal to become the BEST HERO that ever was, more powerful than even All Might.

Things had changed since then, even he couldn't deny that. He had been the biggest fish in the pond for so long, he never once considered what it'd be like to enter a new pond with so many others who were equally matched. Now, not only were their fish just as big (if not BIGGER), even the smallest of fish didn't seem so small anymore. Hell, someone he had never even considered a fish seemed to be playing in the same pond as him, now.

This most recent loss, though... This was different. This wasn't that first embarrassing loss to that little piss-ant Deku in their first weeks at U.A; this wasn't the hollow 'victory' he achieved after Todoroki refused to offer a FAIR fight at the sports festival; this wasn't failing his license exam. Much like he spent his y e a r s before U.A operating under the assumption none of his competitors could EVER touch him, he had spent every other villain attack working under the similar assumption that they would all make it through in the end. Bakugou Katsuki believed he could never lose. UNTIL HE DID.

This was the conclusion he had reached, in the days since the attack. Every day, he had gone back to visit Akuma in the hospital, all the while without fully understanding what COMPELLED him to do so. He had grown to (begrudgingly) accept that he did, in fact, care for his classmates -- but he was still stumped on what caused this particular fixation on Akuma, or why he didn't feel nearly as torn up about their other classmate in comparison. He had hoped spending time with her might provide some a n s w e r s, & while it had provided a little insight, he was still confused. So he went to see her in the hospital every day, trying to figure things out little by little.

Which is what he would have been doing today, had it not been the day Akuma was scheduled to be released. He didn't consider asking if he could visit her at home, which he felt STUPID for now. So what other options were there? He was hardly going to just show up at her house unannounced. Still, there was a part of him that was itching to check on her, to make sure her s u r v i v a l hadn't been all some fucked up dream he'd had. He poured his entire being into his training in the meantime, needing something to focus on besides these dwelling anxieties.

Gasping for breath, he glared down at the punching bag he had just BATTERED into o b l i v i o n, small traces of scorch marks seared into the plastic covering. Maybe he had gone a bit overkill, but he was in NO MOOD to give a fuck.
Everything felt tedious and unnecessarily stressful from experiencing a near-to-death fight, from being forced to stay in a hospital, being vulnerable in front of her peers- in front of Katsuki, even the discharge process felt tense. By the time she got in the car she had fallen asleep, exhausted by the spikes of anxiety she'd been experiencing in that wretched place. The nightmares and flashbacks it brought back. Things she wanted to leave buried in the past. - Things she knew she was going to have to address at some point in order to truly overcome them. - Having her family there a majority of the time and her friends, especially Denki, was enough to hold her over for the meantime- even Katsuki's daily visits served to be of assistance even if it were only a small ounce.​

Quite frankly, Akuma couldn't tell what was going on between the two of them. Part of her still felt guilty, felt like she owed him some sort of apology. Something. There wasn't a need to, his conflict was all within battling his own weight of guilt and anxieties, but she couldn't help to feel a semblance of remorse. Akuma had cared for the blonde; she saw him as a friend, someone she could trust, someone that made her feel safe. Whether or not he reflected even the smallest bit of shared feelings as she, at the end of the day she liked valued him. Now this whole accident made, what once felt like it was just at her fingertips, their whole friendship - him - shift just out of reach. It was ironic how something that physically brought them closer had mentally pushed them further apart. It was a whirlwind of mixed feelings and honestly she didn't want to think about it... because thinking about it only made the voice in her head louder, telling herself to 'give him space'.

Even long after their arrival home, the young pinkette felt tired, her phone discarded somewhere on her bed after sending a singular text to Denki informing him that she had officially been discharged from the hospital and was now home. There had been a silent debate mulled over in her head as her finger hovered over Katsuki's saved contact in her phone, weary and hesitant on reaching out. She felt so much like a burden already, she didn't want to bother him anymore. Especially now that she was out of the hospital, it meant he didn't have to visit her. Soon she'd be back in the dorms and back at school where she'd see not only him but all of their classmates regularly. But alas, the overpowered notion that it was only fair for her to let him know considering his consistency in seeing her everyday, had persuaded her to send Katsuki a similar text before discarding the device to be forgotten. She hadn't extended an invite for anyone to come by, nor did anyone ask, but she had a feeling she was bound to see Denki at some point today, considering one- he was the only one who knew where she lived, and two- her mother had already offered to cook dinner for him and Katsuki after their visit to the hospital, as a thank you. Not that it was specified when, but the offer was there. ​

It had been so long since she's been home and the comfort of familiarity was something she wanted to indulge in. She felt safe and secure here more than anywhere. Akuma dawned something much more different than she'd wear over at the dormitory. This time she was lounging in a cropped shirt and shorts she'd changed into when arriving home. Bandages long abandoned and in their place were new scars tattered across her shoulder, her knee, and another across her ribs. She still wore a sling to support her shoulder and lessen the strain, moving carefully, and a brace on her knee. A soreness settled deep in her muscles that left the pinkette tempted to sleep for another week without waking up this time. Her father had told her the stress she was under was what slowed her healing process, but now that she was home she would be good in no time. Akuma wasn't sure how much she believed of that, but regardless she planned to take this extra time to rest and take special care in not straining herself.​
Izuku stared at his open notebook, pencil tapping on his desk, knee bouncing non-stop, and his thumb between his teeth chewing mindlessly. As deeply concentrated as he seemed, the juniper male couldn't focus. He'd been staring so long that the lines on the pages started to blur and the burning of his eyes became subtly noticeable. If asked, he couldn't tell you how long he'd been like that or when he started to zone out, but he honestly hadn't been in the right mindset the entire day- nevertheless the entire time Kanae his classmates had been hospitalized. His thoughts were scattered, a lack of attentiveness in his daily duties that lead to forgetfulness. Some of their classmates thought he'd be better after coming back from visiting Kanae day after day, but nothing changed. In fact some days he seemed even worse than before. He'd of course manage a strained, thin line of a smile and tell them 'she's making good recovery', but it'd never reach his eyes. For some, it started to scare them just how dull he seemed even though he's as bubbled with anxiety as usual. ​

Patient and tolerant, Shoto finally placed down his own pencil with a deep sigh, " Midoriya. " monotoned voice didn't express the concern Shoto held when looking at the juniper male. He called his name again... then again.. then again finally he placed a firm hand on his shoulder and leaned closer, louder, " Midoriya. " Jerking, Izuku recoiled from his touch, head snapping to attention, eyes meeting dual-coloured hues. There was a sharp intake of air in the sudden movement that translated into a slow exhale when it dawned on him that he was still sitting in the common rooms with Shoto. For a moment the two just stared at one another in shared silence, but that was more than enough for him to realize what prompted his friend to shake him from his daze.​

This time Izuku adverted his gaze, easing his bouncing knee to a stop and gripped his pencil in the palm of his hand. " Sorry... " his voice was small, apology spoken barely above a whisper. He cleared his throat, pursing his lips. The page in his notebook was blank, a title barely scribbled out at the top but otherwise he'd written nothing this entire time. His homework was unfinished, he was behind on his studies for the week, and he'd hardly retained what was being taught when he was in class. That's actually part of the reason why he had been sitting here now with Shoto. They'd been studying together or trying to at least so that he could keep up. Yes, he'd written all the notes down. Having the mind to at least do that well enough so he could make a copy of all his notes and give them to Kanae during his visits, but that'd been the extent of his contribution in school-work. ​

It had been another few beats of silence before Shoto spoke up again, placing his pencil down. " You said Yasuda was being discharged today. Do you know if she made it home ? " Ever since the accident, the youngest Todoroki had been diligent in allowing Izuku to talk about her. Even going as far as asking questions, like he did now, in hopes it'd help ease the weight on his mind. So far it'd been honestly helping. Even if he didn't exactly tell his friend everything. he'd learn so much about Kanae these days than he has the entire time they've been in school together . " She should be home by now... " he muttered lowly after glancing at the time. Still yet to lift his eyes. Another few beats... " Then you should leave. You're going to go see her, right ? " Izuku finally met his gaze and he hesitated. Fingers twisting at the pencil in hand, Yes but.... Once more he glanced at the time on his phone. He hadn't received any messages. " Some of the others might be planning to see her. You should leave before they do. " Shoto hadn't even gave him much of a choice, having already decided for him by standing up and closing his notebooks. He neatly stacked them on top of one another before moving to clean up Izuku's despite the male's quiet protest. " I don't understand why you're hesitating. You want to see her, so see her. We can study another day. "

Staring at the taller male in what could been seen as a mixture of disbelief and consternation, Izuku could only nod wordlessly. He was right. Izuku wanted to see her. He still wanted to, even after every single day. Even after all the conflicting feelings and her shutting him out... He promised. So, he did. He ran up to his dorm to change, put on his shoes and left. Phone nervously in hand, still glancing at the screen, hovering over the shared messages between the two that'd been untouched since the attack. He promised...
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The moment the couch came into view, Kanae wasted no time in collapsing onto it, relishing in the velvety softness of the plush decorative pillows. Maybe if she were anyone else, this would be last thing she'd want to do after almost a week confined to a hospital bed, but moving meant thinking, & she certainly couldn't have that. Lying here, still as death, she didn't have to think about anything. She could forget, forget herself, forget times & places, forget every little thing that confused and terrified her. She could forget about her skin, the blood in her veins, the face in her mirror. If only for a moment, she could be erased, she could allow herself not be Yasuda Kanae. Allow herself to not be anything at all. The thought was more comforting to her than it probably should have been.

Still, something pulls her back before she can begin to truly relish in the feeling. Something always does. She had woken up to a few texts that morning, she remembered; one from Ochako, one from Tsuyu, two from Mina. Though it was difficult to say she was truly close to any of her classmates, the girls of their class all developed a tight-knit bond with one another early on. Mina in particular insisted on forming a sense of solidarity, emphasizing the importance of women supporting women, and she wasn't above pulling people into her antics regardless of their consent. They seemed to plan on stopping by later that afternoon, & all the messages said as much. She responded to each of them in kind, despite knowing she probably didn't have to. It was likely they were all planning to show up as a group, after all.

Then, there was only that question... The question of whether or not Izuku would be with them. She sighed, glancing through her texts, quickly finding his name. He hadn't sent her anything, not since shortly before the attack. She wasn't sure whether or not that made sense to her, that he wouldn't text her to see if she got home safe. She wasn't sure if anything made sense, when it came to him. Never had she been so confused by someone who was so easy to understand. For the most part, he was honest -- he was a shockingly bad liar, so it was always easy to tell on the rare occasions when he wasn't being truthful -- & he'd never lie about things that mattered. He had the mind, body & soul of a hero, & his top priority during encounters with villains was always the well-being of others. Selfless to a fault, more than willing to sacrifice himself in the name of helping people. It was his transparency & dependency during emergencies that made him a trustworthy & reliable individual in the eyes of his peers. He was sweet & emotional, his empathic nature unable to turn a blind eye to another's suffering. That's what seemed to drive him into becoming a hero in the first place. That's probably what lead him to her in the first place, also. She had no reason to distrust him. His intentions were pure. He only wanted to help. She didn't have any reason to not trust him. He was safe.

So why? Why did his presence set off every alarm bell that existed within her? Why did his kindness feel like cruelty? His hands were only trying to console her, but she only felt them rubbing salt in her wounds. It felt like he was doing all of this to spite her, like he was trying to hurt her. He wasn't. She knew he wasn't, so why? She didn't understand. She didn't understand anything. All she knew was that it hurt. Every sweet smile, every gentle gleam in those emerald eyes, every kind word & sincere promise that he'd always be there for her, that he wanted to be there for her... It all hurt. She was hurt & confused & angry & desperately wanted to lash out, to scream & cry & break everything in her general vicinity, wanted to make him understand how badly he'd been hurting her. She wanted to make him regret ever having the audacity to care. Her heart was a feral animal, injured & cornered, ready to snarl & claw & bite at anyone who dared to come near. Unable to understand the intentions of the gentle hands that only wished to help heal what had been broken.

She was spiraling now, deeper & deeper into her chasm of confusion & self hatred, not understanding this, not understanding herself, not understanding why she felt this way, not understanding at what point of her life unconditional love & acceptance began to feel more like acts of violence, when up became down & left became right & white became black & everything went wrong--

Knock, knock. Something pulls her back, because it always does. She opened her eyes, instantly feeling tears sticking to her eyelashes, threatening to spill. She wiped them away, rising to her feet, smoothing out her hair & dress. Making it seem like she wasn't falling apart at the seams mere moments prior. Then, she was at the front door, opening it to see the exact person she was expecting. Who else would show up this early? It would be just like him, too, to be in such a hurry to get here the thought of sending a text beforehand wouldn't even occur to him. Typical.
Never in his life had Bakugou Katsuki felt so uncomfortable in his own skin, so out of place in his own mind. Dealing with these strange emotions that latched onto him that night & haven't let go since, feelings he's never experienced before & was woefully unequipped to handle. He had never been so invested in someone else's existence before. It was probably the one thing that was never lost on him growing up, just how self-centered he could be, but he always maintained the sense that he had every right to be. He was special. That was clear to everyone, growing up. Why shouldn't those who are special be allowed to acknowledge the things that made them better than others? Why should he have to learn humility, how to play nice as if they were all created equal when he was living proof that they weren't? Why should he learn how to deal with failure & loss when he was destined to never fail? He was allowed to look down on others if they were truly beneath him. He didn't have to take them seriously, as they could never be a threat to him.

That was his attitude towards others for most of his life, & old habits die hard. Having to acknowledge that maybe he wasn't as special as he thought, having to acknowledge that he was human... It was like being doused with ice water. It was a lesson he had been given time & time again, during his time here. It was a testament to his stubbornness, that after everything, he was only just now starting to see these lessons for what they were. At this point, some of them he was almost grateful for. Almost. His pride was appalled by it, by the notion that he needed to be knocked down a peg in order to see his own faults. (that was the point Katsuki you dumb asshole.) He had come to the understanding that his failures could be used as opportunities, that his past mistakes still had the potential to propel him forward. They needed to happen if he had any hopes of being the best. He could learn to reflect on those things, to figure out where he went wrong so he didn't make the same mistake twice. Still, soul-searching was a bitch when yours was a burning inferno wrapped in razor wire.

This inability to make sense of his own heart was particularly troubling in the case of Mori Akuma. There were a lot of experiences his childhood left him completely unprepared for since coming to U.A, & she was the epitome of that, he's come to realize. He had never been the type to care for companionship. Others were only worth acknowledging if they made for worthy rivals. At first, Akuma was no exception. He never tried to actively push others away, but very few people were willing to regularly put up with his abrasive, condescending nature. Still, there always seemed to be a small handful of people who gravitated towards him regardless. Since coming to U.A, the two particular standouts of this were Eijirou & Akuma. They both had powerful quirks & the potential to learn how to use them effectively, so he didn't feel the need to snub them like he would with anyone else.

He wasn't sure when it started to become more than this. When did these people stop being rivals & start being friends to him? Why did it feel so much different with Akuma? Would he be nearly this devastated if it were Kirishima who almost died? Then, there was what Kaminari said to him, just a few days prior... He had vehemently denied it at the time, naturally, but he couldn't seem to stop thinking about it since. As if all this shit wasn't confusing enough, he couldn't even begin to guess what he'd do if he had to consider the possibility that he might see her as more than a friend. Out of all the new experiences he'd been faced with since starting U.A, this was the one that had the potential to fuck everything up. He couldn't bring himself to contemplate it. God, it made him fucking sick just thinking about it. He could never let anyone hold that much power over him, now or ever.

The halls were quiet as he made his way out of the gym he frequented, pulling his phone out of his pocket. Nothing. He scowled, annoyed at himself for feeling disappointed, but more so at her for not even bothering to fill him in. Did he really not even deserve so much as a simple 'made it home safe' message? She seemed to feel guilty about the way he felt, for reasons he couldn't understand. Not that it really mattered; he was in no mood to be playing her bullshit games. If she wasn't going to offer him the chance to see her, he would have no choice but to take it himself.

So without a moment's hesitation, he messaged her. 'you home yet? i'm coming over.' Send. He wanted to see her, so he was going to see her. He wasn't going to give her a chance to question his intentions or to argue. He had never stopped himself from being selfish before, so why would that change now? He cared about her, but that wasn't going to stop him from being selfish with her. These things didn't have to be so complicated if he didn't let them be. (It's a lie, of course, but how else was he going to ignore this throbbing in his chest, this ice in his lungs? How else could he maintain his pride, his dignity, his strength? How else was he going to cope with the possibility of loving her?).
(only commenting so this thread doesn't get archived.)
Akuma's father was at work, due to be home later in the evening, her mother was in the kitchen humming along to the music lightly playing from the record player and Shiro, her little brother, was rummaging around upstairs the last time she'd heard from him. Meanwhile, the pinkette had been expected to sit and rest yet, she couldn't help the pull to wander into the kitchen walking past the couch. It felt like it'd been so long since she got to stand alongside her mother, helping her cook quietly, or just sitting in the kitchen listening to her parents talk about anything and everything. Having been bed-ridden the entire time stuck in a hellish place Akuma couldn't bring herself to sit idly while such familiarity resided just in the room over. So, much to her mother's surprise, the pinkette meandered up gently nudging into her side as a silent, off-handed indication of a hug (a familiar gesture she'd done when first welcomed into the Moriko family). The red-headed woman peered down at her, hands occupied but she leaned in to press a kiss to the crown of her head and a gentle bump of her hip in return.​

"Can't sleep?" Nanako maintained a soft-spoken tone to match the music that chirped in the air, dancing its way into the gaps of silence playing its role of background noise. Giving a small hum in response, the older woman studied her daughter for another second. Noting the tiredness in her eyes, circles outlining the usually bright jade-hues, and how her lips were pressed tightly with the occasional clenched tension in her set jaw. Small indications paired with the lack of a eye contact, verbal response or reasoning to her question had alerted to the woman that Akuma was at a point where she didn't feel like speaking. The nonverbal aspect to her daughter wasn't unusual, in fact it was very very common. Lately she had grown out of her constant silence, but there were points where Nanako could see it settle in her expression and the force Akuma would attempt to put on herself to give a proper response. Due to her being away at school now bound to the dormitory, it had been a while since the woman has seen her daughter like this, but it was also not unexpected after the strain and anxiety she has been put through. She didn't have to say anything though, because her family would understand they always did and Akuma knew that. So Nanako did what she always had, she simply pressed on without missing a beat, "I'm making fried rice for lunch today. Shiro's been craving it all week." it was simple and light conversation. No true meaning or purpose behind it aside from mindless noise that Akuma nodded quietly at. Eyes still trained on her mother's hands as they cut at vegetables. ​

Footsteps rhythmically tapped along the wooden floor accompanied by the younger male's voice. " 'kuma, your phone was ringing." the interruption didn't phase either of them, her gaze finally tearing away from the cutting board to glance over as Shiro came waddling up beside her in the same manner she'd done to their mother. Her head tilted ever so slightly in an inquisitive tilt which prompted the boy to read said messages. "Kaminari sent a few messages about being glad you're home then talking about something that... Ashido and Todoroki did?" the boy considered the messages as pointless chitchat, not important as he scrolled onto the next and seemed to perk up ever so slightly at the familiar name, seemingly eager with the idea of the blonde coming over (this was another way he could learn who Akuma was). "Bakugou asked if you were home, he says he's coming over!" Now that was a message that seemed to gain everyone's attention. Akuma tensing ever so slightly, yet also a moment of confusion of why he'd ask if she were home. Did he not get her text message? Meanwhile her mother chimed in with a pleased tone, "Oh how sweet! I'll have to make some more rice then for company. Ask him if he'll be staying for dinner too, I have some thawed beef that'll be perfect for stew." Shiro had already begun typing before the pinkette even uttered a word, "It looks like your message didn't send earlier 'Kuma, I'll let him know. "

It wasn't unusual for Shiro to handle her phone like it was his own, and typically she didn't mind at all. There'd been nothing for her to hide anyhow, not anything that she wouldn't have shared with Shiro eventually. Yet, she reached for her phone with her free hand, "I'll text him " Akuma wasn't sure if she wanted him over. Part of her (her heart specifically) jittered at the idea that he wanted to come see her. Adored with the idea of his company in a place where she could feel safe and more herself. Yet, the other part of her that was tired and still slightly guilt-ridden wasn't particularly fond of the idea. Maybe she just wasn't ready... wasn't ready to have him here in another place where she was just as vulnerable. Easily she took the phone from her brother who slipped a soft 'oh' only to see that he'd already sent his message: 'Kuma's helping mom cook, she's sorry her text didn't send but mom's making lunch and wants you to stay for dinner. Here's our address.' Now if she tried to backtrack and tell him not to come, there was no way she'd be able to convince him. Even his message alone didn't seem to give much room for argument (just like in the hospital). Quietly reading the message again and the unsent one above that, the pinkette briefly wondered if she really was bothered by the idea of him coming over or was she just nervous? Nervous he might see something that she wasn't quite ready to show. ​
With his mind constantly running a mile a minute, feet moving beneath him without missing a beat, Izuku realized that he'd spent so much time thinking about texting Kanae rather than actually texting her. Emerald hues fixated on his lit up screen in between his rummaging for clothes, in between his fast trek down the stairs, skipping a few steps to get him closer to his destination. His nerves had thrown him off track, leaving all of this out of order. What he should have done was text her he should've texted her the moment he woke up but he'd been unsure of bothering her so early. He didn't want to accidently wake her if she'd been sleeping, but he also didn't want to bombard her with a message amongst their other peers knowing that they were all aware of their classmate's discharge today. It'd been his way of giving her some space, even if it meant fleeting glances at his phone ever minute, or sudden jolts and scrambling to fish his phone out of his pocket at every notifying buzz that only led to disappointment. He should have texted her... but he didn't. He didn't text her then and he didn't text her now. Not as he walked to the train station pondering on what to say, pondering on if he should even be there right now to her house, pondering on if she'd even want him there in the first place probably not..

Izuku wasn't blind to the shift occurring between the two. He was used to her distant behavior, used to the way she often tried to isolate herself and steer away from their classmates. He understood why now. The more he had learned about her, the more he understood the reasoning behind the way she acted yet, simultaneously there was the part of him that was desperate to try to create this bond between them that seemed unable to grasp that concept. Unable to grasp the suffering she'd endured as a child that led to this distrust. There was still so many chunks out of her life that was a mystery to the juniper male (Like who really was that girl in Kanae's room that day and what did she want? What did she have to do with her?) that might fill in more of the pieces that made up the dark haired girl. Yet even knowing all this, he couldn't help the twinge of familiar pain buried deep behind it all. Pain that he tried to ignore, had been ignoring for most of his life. The kind that wondered why he wasn't good enough, why that no matter how hard he tried it just wasn't enough? He couldn't fault her for the weariness she held towards him. The way she seemed on edge when he was near and more-or-less distrusting of the kindness he tried to display. She was tolerant, yes, but that was the extent of it. At first she had offered him empathy, seemingly proceeding to calm the juniper's nerves when the accident had first occurred, but then the panic attack came... and suddenly it was like he'd been the one who pushed her off the edge. As if he had personally hurt her with his very hand. ​

It'd all been a scramble of stress and emotions between himself, Kanae and her family.. He just hoped that her being home would lessen that. Maybe it'd bring some sense of comfort to the tension she held within herself. A sense of familiarity. Izuku had hoped that'd be the case, and he held that same hope when stepping off the train, and continued to hold it as he spotted a small grocery and opted to pick up a snack or two for them. Maybe she'd eaten already or maybe she didn't. Either way it almost felt like a peace treaty if anything. Sort of a gift as a mixture of; glad you're home, hope you have a speedy recovery, also please don't be upset I showed up unannounced I just couldn't figure out what to say so I gave up on it and now I'm here and I have gifts or something of the sort. Either way he felt better with the idea of buying her something, having grabbed a few drinks and fresh, hot steamed buns all neatly wrapped and warm for them to enjoy together if she wanted. It was also a pleasant distraction for the racing thoughts in his head and equally racing heart in his chest, nerves still twisting at his fingers that gripped the plastic bag in hand.​
Izuku had spent the last few minutes of his walk telling himself that it was going to be fine. Trying to calm these thoughts of his and assure himself that if he could visit her every single day at the hospital then this would be no different. Except when he knocked on the door and was met with that same nettled look in her eye, Izuku realized that it truly was no different. It was no different than the look Katsuki would give him when he would run up to the blonde and be scowled at, dismissed and berated. It was no different from when he offered to help his childhood friend only to be shoved away and practically spat at. It was no different than the look of confliction and disgust that dug claws deep into his chest and left the broken, quirkless boy within him trembling and racking with shattered sobs it was all so familiar because he had dealt with it for years. Even now as he was growing and progressing, reaching for his dreams. He still had to endure the strain of the relationship that connected him to Katsuki. Having to carefully piece whatever was left back together so he could continue to grow from it. She looked at him as if his mere presence wounded her.

Swallowing thickly, Izuku took in a deep breath and held up the plastic bag in his hand. " I-I brought food.." that'd been his ice-breaker and while he was more confident 50 seconds ago that it'd be a good one, now he was feeling much more small standing before her gaze. " So-sorry I didn't text you f-first... I figured you'd be home and I thought that coming to see you would be fine " part of him nearly stammered that he could go home if she wanted, the impulsive reaction to try and be as accommodating as possible even if it meant retreating back, but he didn't. As much as it nearly bubbled up and slipped out, Izuku bit his tongue and continued to stand there willing himself to keep his eyes locked onto hers. He didn't want to leave her and quite frankly he felt as if she was more likely to tell him to leave if he offered it. (part of him also thought back to the hospital and her sudden break in composure when he said he would leave if she wanted... it was that reminder that made the words curl up in his mouth). He wouldn't let that happen again.​
For a moment, it felt like time itself had stopped. Dread swelled in Kanae's chest like a balloon. She was certain she could hear a pin dropping several streets away. The moment Izuku arrived, it felt like a moment of reckoning had arrived with him. She might be out of the woods for now (both metaphorically and literally), but she could feel in the pit of her stomach that the worst was yet to come. Izuku had been careful when speaking to her after the panic attack, most likely not wanting to cause her further distress when she was already in such a vulnerable state. Now, though, the injury that nearly snuffed out her life was little more than scar tissue, and she wasn't sure what he intended to do next. They couldn't continue to exist much longer under the weight of everything that's happened, and they both knew it. Something had to give, and the only way forward was through. The fear was oil, viscous black, coating her insides, weighing down her stomach and constricting her lungs.

She hadn't meant for the moment of silence to stretch on as long as it did. She hadn't meant to look at him the way she was, like she had never seen him before. Anxiety rolled off of him in waves, and her eyes immediately softened once she was out of her own head enough to notice -- she could never wear hardness as well as some other classmates of theirs. Especially not towards someone she had grown so soft for. When she finally remembered where she was, she combed through her jumbled thoughts in an attempt to find a response. "... You didn't text me because you were in a hurry to get here, weren't you? You don't have to apologize for that. Besides, it's not like there was anything stopping me from texting you. I should have, at least to let you know I got home safe. I'm sorry I didn't." She wasn't sure what emotion she was trying to project into her tone to mask the fear and dread chewing holes in her stomach, but she knew it didn't work. It was so clearly a manufactured facsimile, a pathetic attempt to emulate something genuine. Like watching a puppet move. No matter how intricate the details are, you'd never see the unnatural, disjointed movements of a doll on invisible strings and mistake it for a real person. "... And thanks, for the food. We can go eat on the kitchen counter, if you want." She prompted, moving back and opening the door wider, shutting the door behind them once he stepped inside.

It was no exaggeration to say she lived in a nice house. It was far from some lavish mansion, but it was a little more on the refined side in comparison to what most would consider a normal family home. That was to be expected, wasn't it? Her father was a doctor, after all. He hadn't gotten much in compensation after the divorce -- he initially only had one of the three children to take care of, after all -- so he often had to put overtime into his already time-consuming job, to make sure he could provide for her and her siblings. Still, the Yasuda family lived comfortably. It still held the warmth that all homes should. It made the isolation a little more bearable on days like today, when no one else was home. "I hope you didn't pay too much for all of this. I know the prices at some of the stores nearby can be a little excessive..." She decided the moment she started speaking to change her approach, allowing a controlled level of her softness for him into her voice. It still sounded overly cautious and contained, but it proved more effective in her goal to seem more okay than she was. Sometimes the easiest thing to resort to was the truth, but not even her genuine feelings could fully mask the underlying emotions that laced every word. All the fear and pain she tried so desperately to hide was bleeding through the cracks, and she could do nothing to stop it.

Maybe you should stop trying,
a small voice in her head offered. Perhaps a younger version of herself, one that was more accustomed to hope. We already know the ending to this one, don't we? In truth, she did. The narrative has already been decided. Any attempt she made to push him away would fail. If one thing had become clear through this whole ordeal, it's that Izuku was determined to stay true to his word. When he made his promises to her, they were absolute. He was going to stay with her. He wanted to stay with her. Their shared trauma has bound them to one another, now, for better or worse. Like a red string of fate, it could stretch and shrink and bend, but never break. The fact that he knew more about her now only seemed to strengthen his resolve, and thanks to her panic attack, she couldn't even try to pretend that she didn't want him to stay. He had cemented his place in her life, and nothing could change that. Whatever his intentions were, Midoriya Izuku would get his way in the end. It was written, it was inevitable.

Her knowledge of the ending brought no sense of peace or comfort like it would if she were rereading a book, though. Her resolve was growing weaker by the minute, yet here she was, still desperately clinging to her last line of defense. Her fear still kept a vice grip on her heart. Fear would never allow her to surrender so easily. Even if her petulant resistance would never change the outcome, even if he's conquered enemies much more formidable than this, even if she knew there was no reason to make this harder than it needed to be. She sat down at the kitchen counter, right next to the window, and offered the seat beside her. He'd probably try to engage in some casual conversation before delving into anything deeper, so she had time to brace herself, even if she already knew it wouldn't be enough. There were a lot of things they needed to unpack together, but before they could start doing that, she'd have to let him in. She'd have to confront her reluctance to do so, the underlying cause behind it. She wasn't going to do any of that, not yet, not of her own volition. Perhaps this was one final test, a way of confirming his convictions. Even if she was destined to fold, she refused to do so until he forced her hand. If his desire to stay with her was really so strong, surely he would have no qualms against this, right? Surely he could rise to the challenge like he's done so many times before.

If you really want to see my heart, if you're so certain you have the stomach for it, prove it. Prove yourself, Midoriya Izuku.
If he had been thinking clearly, maybe Katsuki would have considered that maybe her text just hadn't gone through on her end. Not long after sending his own message, he was offered a reply -- likely from her brother -- that explained what happened. Instantly, he felt stupid. Of course she was going to text him. Why wouldn't she? He should have known better than to think she wouldn't make sure to let him know she'd gotten home safe. He had spent her entire hospital visit orbiting her, unable to resist the way she pulled at him like gravity. There might have been this strange tension between them ever since the night of the attack, but she wouldn't go completely silent on him, after everything. She would never do that to him. If he had stopped to think, it would have been obvious. But that's just it, wasn't it? He didn't stop to think. He hasn't been able to think clearly, not since the awful night of the attack. His mind had been shrouded in a thick fog, leaving him dazed and confused.

Never in his life had he experienced anything like this before. All his life, his mind had been a steel trap; fixated on the one goal he's always strived for with sharp, crystal clarity. He didn't know how this happened, how he became this thing he is now. How had Akuma gained such tremendous power over him without him ever realizing it? How could her mere existence in this world affect him like no one or nothing else? When did it start? When would it end? These questions have plagued him for nearly a week now, but he didn't feel any closer to finding the answers. He didn't know how to cope with this. He didn't know how to cope with anything. What the fuck are coping mechanisms, anyway? Why couldn't he just brute force his way through life like he had intended to since the beginning? If all his problems could be solved by beating the absolute shit out of them, he would have resolved everything by now. It would be so easy. This is stupid. This is all so fucking stupid. Everything in his entire fucking life is so stupid.

He could hear some mild crackling under his palms, and detonating an explosion in public for no reason would just provide more problems to deal with, so he took a deep breath. He didn't want to show up angry to her house anyway -- Akuma already seemed hell-bent on blaming herself for his mental state enough as it is. If he showed up in an even worse mood than usual, she wouldn't hesitate to assume it was her fault. (Even if it was, though not in the way she would think.) He couldn't mask his feelings, not having nearly as much experience with it as some of the more emotionally repressed of his classmates, so the best he could do is attempt to manage them. He didn't want to stress her out even more than she already was. 'Be there in half an hour.' was all he wrote as a response before making his way down to the train station. It was more than anyone else would have gotten -- most people were lucky if he even responded at all.

If there was one thing he was thankful for, it was that Shiro offered up their address willingly, so he didn't have to worry about asking someone else. The person who was most likely to know was Kaminari, and he was not even remotely in the mood to be putting up with his bullshit. Though it was possible he and even some of the others could show up today regardless. Whatever. He'd cross that bridge when he got there. He knew Akuma didn't live too far away, but the train ride to the station nearest to her was still quicker than he expected. He didn't wonder whether or not she'd want to see him, or whether he'd be imposing on her privacy now that she was in a more comfortable place. He couldn't care less. She could have her parents throw him out if he was that unwanted, but she wasn't likely to go that far. Even if she truly didn't want him there, she'd most likely tolerate his presence until he was ready to leave. He knew that, and he didn't feel bad about using that knowledge to his advantage.

He turned a corner down the street, walking casually, trying to calm his anxieties. Grounding, that was something people did to cope, right? Finding things for your senses to fixate on in your physical surroundings, so you didn't get lost in your thoughts? He wasn't convinced it would work, but he also had nothing to lose. So, he tried doing just that. He focused on the traffic signs & streetlamps, the repetitive buildings that told him nothing, the houses that looked basically indistinguishable from one another. For the rest of the walk, he kept himself preoccupied with the meaningless details until finally arriving at the address given to him. He didn't really have a game plan in mind, nor was he going to concern himself too much with trying to come up with one. He wasn't going to look too deeply into why he felt the need to come see her, or why he still felt just a tiny bit nervous over the whole ordeal. He had spent the entire week overthinking, and he was so fucking tired of this shit by now. He didn't need to keep doing this to himself. It didn't take long before the door was opened for him (probably by Shiro, since Akuma was presumably still helping her mom with lunch.)

"... 'sup?" He kept his greeting natural, despite feeling like a fish out of water the moment he stepped inside. Then again, he guessed a more natural greeting would be no greeting at all, but that wouldn't feel right. He had no reason to growl viciously at this kid, either. It was difficult, trying so desperately to repress the emotional responses that have become so natural to him -- well, the only one he's ever allowed himself to have was growling and screaming angrily. Now, having to play nice for some kid he barely knew... No. He wasn't going to let himself overthink it. He needed to take things for what they are, not for what he wanted them to be. He allowed himself to be led further into the Mori household, taking things in. Was this the house Akuma grew up in? After she left... Whatever mysterious circumstances she was living under before? Right, he still hasn't asked her anything about that situation. He wasn't going to in the hospital obviously, but now that she was home, he could find an opportunity to ask.

That could wait until later, though. Right now, he couldn't really do anything but entertain Shiro while Akuma and her mother worked on lunch together. Shouldn't be too hard, right?
(only commenting so this thread doesn't get archived.)
'Be there in half an hour.' she could hear his gruff voice in her ears overlaying her brother's gentler tone as he read the message out loud over her shoulder. The pinkette stared at the text a moment longer, even after Shiro had moseyed his way across the opposite side of the kitchen. Her mother had busied herself with rinsing and preparing more rice, leaving the young hero standing there in front of the counter. Silently Akuma closed the message and slid her phone into her pocket, dull jade staring at the counter for another beat. "Sweetheart, do you want to help stir the veggies?" The other woman broke her daze, bringing Akuma's attention to focus. Another beat. She nodded, crossing the short distance to the stove to take over while Nanako filled the silence with soft humming and the steady rhythm of the knife against the cutting board. The familiarity of home easing some of that meddlesome tension.

Her mind had still been preoccupied, filled with ash blonde and presumptuous scarlet. Idly pondering over these feelings yet not processing them. It was as if she were standing on the waters edge, watching the waves pull and push, crashing at her feet but just shy of touching her. Deep in the dark chasm of waves, she could see him staring back at her- the distance between them. Akuma wanted to reach out. She wanted to take his hand, to run straight into those waves but her feet wouldn't move.

Thirty minutes had passed seemingly fast, or had he come sooner than he said? Honestly, she couldn't tell. All she heard was a knock at the door and all that tension came flooding back- stiffening her shoulders and jaw. She could hear Shiro in the other room greeting Katuski, probably taking the role of host while she stayed in the kitchen. "Akuma, honey, it seems like your friend is here. Why don't you go wash up and join him in the living room. I'll finish up here." There was slight hesitation, seemingly painfully aware of herself yet not at all at the same time. Even as Nanako gently nudged her to the side so she could take over, Akuma merely side stepped, looking from the kitchen doorway into the living room. Her arm slid across her exposed torso, hiding herself. How could one person want something and want nothing at the same time? She wanted to see him, just like she had wanted everyday since she met him; but she also wanted him as far away from her and her home as possible. Could she just make up her mind?!

"Bakugou-san, you made it!" Shiro seemed more than pleased to have the older hero here, pulling the door wide open as a silent welcome into their home. The Morikos kept their house rather tidy and their décor spoke volumes in how much their parents cherished Akuma and Shiro. The walls adorned with family photos and handcrafted items from their kids. Spotted with some plants and a record player. It was very warm and cozy, definitely lived in and welcoming. "Honestly I thought you wouldn't come by today now that 'kuma is home, but we're glad you're here." in fact, the young boy felt the trust he placed in Katsuki back at the hospital, grow now that he was here. It was like he was keeping his promise to the young boy about protecting his sister. Whether or not he even knew that's what this meant to him. Shiro led them over to the couch, "Okaasan and 'kuma are in the kitchen, we're having fried rice for lunch it's my favourite." he spoke casually, seeming rather comfortable with the situation. A little more cheerful with his sister home now despite circumstances. When sitting down he shifted in his seat to face the older male, tilting his head ever so slightly, "Do you live far from us or did you come all the way from school?" Shiro clearly knew about the dormitory system in place at UA, but he was curious if some of the other students were home like Akuma was, or were they all still at school? (Which he assumed it was the later, but he was also trying to make conversation.) "They said that 'kuma is supposed to be home for a the weekend then she can go back to school."

-- Their conversation was distant in her mind, the pinkette flinching when she felt something warm being draped over her shoulders., Peering behind her, she caught the soft smile Nanako offered with a hum. "It's okay, don't be nervous. If he cares enough to visit you every single day even at home, he'll see past them.." Akuma's throat tightened at her mother's reassurance, even as the woman moved to fix the open cardigan she placed over her. "They don't make you any different from who you are, and trust me sweetheart, he cares more about you than he does a couple scars." It was still a touchy subject for her daughter and Nanako knew that very well, but that didn't stop her encouragement. So to see a semblance of relief in those tired jade hues, the older woman felt accomplished. "Why don't you bring out some tea for everyone okay?" Akuma hadn't even noticed the tray her mother put together, but she didn't deny the offer. Sliding her single arm through the cardigan, she balanced the tray in her hand and carefully walked out to the living room.
This was painful.. It had been a while since he's felt like this. UA had changed Izuku- helped him grow in ways he didn't think he could. The juniper hero struggled day after day constantly being kicked down by every. single. person. But now.. now people looked at him in awe. Now he wasn't the only one reaching out, for he found hands outstretched before he could even lift a finger. Izuku made friends and even rivals. He found acceptance in his peers for once, and a rocky ground with old friends where they now stood on the same level. He'd been running fast, letting his feet take him forward, not wanting to look back. Izuku fought to grow and overcome that shell of a young boy, but that shell still resided within him. It took shelter within this new version of himself, one that could protect him. It stayed safe deep within him, so far that Izuku nearly forgot how it felt, until now.

It wasn't as if he could simply tell himself to do what he did with Katsuki! Because he didn't. His and Katsuki's relationship- while the feeling of being small were similar - is completely different than this. They never truly fixed their relationship. Instead they yelled and fought with fists, back and forth until they finally learned to sit down and have a conversation. Even then it was still rough. On top of that, Izuku's feelings towards the blonde were different than how he felt here. With Kanae... it was stronger, almost impulsive and natural. It was a feeling that he couldn't fight. One that snuck up on him and planted its roots in his heart long before he had even realized it, and now it continued to grow. Even if its thrones pricked at his heart, he couldn't bare to rip it out. In fact, he didn't think he could even if he wanted to.

Izuku lowered the hand carrying treats, fingers tightening and loosening around the plastic bag as his other hand fidgeted with the seam of his pant leg. Juniper hues remained steady throughout the quiet, determination shining through the way it always did with him. It was practically second nature at this point- nervous or not. Yet, there was also no denying the way his shoulders went slack and an inaudible sigh left him when she finally spoke, her own voice unsteady, uncertain... but he didn't let himself get too hung up on the way she sounded because she was inviting him in which meant it worked! Albeit, not in the way he thought but at the same time he wasn't sure what to expect after his last visit with her, but this was better than her possibly slamming the door in his face. Not that he thought she'd ever do that to him! ... maybe? Considering she sounded almost.. afraid? he couldn't be certain. But alas, while her tone was another prick of a thorn, Izuku simply offered a smaller smile of his own, "Thanks.." Trying to count the wins rather than the losses.

As he eased through the doorway, he couldn't help but look around almost immediately. Initially noticing the size of the house. His mother and him have lived in the same place pretty much his entire life, and it had really always been the two of them so they didn't need anything big or fancy. While it wasn't the biggest place, it was much larger than he was used to that's for sure. Of course there were more of them too so it made sense that they'd need something this size to live comfortably enough. Izuku allowed Kanae to take the lead, easing his pace until she passed him for him to fall in step with, juniper hues flickering back to her the moment she spoke again. Her uneasy tone still nagged the back of his head like an alarm bell, alerting him to something wrong. He would ask, except this time he already knew the answer... "Not at all!" he spoke through an airy laugh, rubbing the back of his head with that same small, nervous smile.

Izuku's gaze had drifted once more, taking in his surroundings as well as the emptiness of it all. He hadn't heard another sound since he's been inside. No other steps or voices besides their own echoing off the walls. Briefly he looked at the chair beside her, the small distance that would be set between the two. Placing the bag down an quietly sliding into the seat, Izuku was the one to break the momentary quiet this time. "Are you home alone?" He had learned a lot about her family from the days they spent at the hospital, and it was obvious they were all quite busy, but still, a part of him thought maybe someone might have stayed home with her. Or was it more that he hoped they would've? Either way, the other part of him was almost grateful that it was just them at the moment. Maybe they could talk a bit about what happened.. He learned quite a bit from her family but that didn't mean he was disregarding her own feelings about it all. "Your family are probably busy people.. It was a lot to learn about them when we were all at the hospital." Izuku continued, glancing from the window behind her, back to study her expression.
This was a special hell. A hell on earth created solely for Yasuda Kanae. One that knew every one of her deepest fears and insecurities and used them to curate an entirely unique nightmare, just for her. Looking at Izuku was painful. Seeing his own anxiety, the way he was walking on eggshells around her, was painful. This feeling in her chest, the one that wanted to both cling to him as tightly as she possibly could and push him far away in equal measure, was painful. The confusion of not understanding what was going on was painful. It was all just too painful. Torture in its purest form, the kind she wouldn't inflict on even her worst enemy. It was all the suffering villains have ever inflicted on her and so much more, so much worse. And this was her friend. This was someone who cared so dearly for her, even when he barely knew her. This is someone who's been patiently, carefully, and methodically chipping away at her protective barriers little by little since the moment they met. It terrified her, the thought of not being able to see the forest for the trees, the threats laying beyond her perception that would be obvious if she wasn't so dazzled by his light. If she wasn't so close to this. She's too close to this!!

As a child, Kanae wanted so badly to belong in the light. To be a source of it; something others could look towards for guidance, even during the darkest of nights. But no; she was no north star. If she were any star, it was pathetically dim, one that could barely appear in the darkness of night. No, it wasn't that either; at least the stars could shine of their own volition, as faint as some might be. If anything, she was the moon; she produced no light of her own, but instead could only reflect back what others showed to her. Deep sea animals are designed by evolution for the dark, crushing pressure of the abyss; most of them couldn't be brought to the surface without being killed in the process. Some creatures were simply never meant to see the light of day. Izuku, on the other hand, couldn't be more different. He was a hero; selfless and kind, offering compassion and grace as if it were as easy as breathing -- as if he didn't even need to think about it. His strength was something to be revered, as was his natural inclination towards bringing out the best in others. The light emitting from him was his own creation; a by-product of the beautiful soul he had been born with. His heroism, his overwhelming displays of compassion and kindness, his total unwillingness to give up on someone no matter how stubborn they might be... As frightening as he was, as much as her eyes burned from looking directly at him, she couldn't look away. It blinded her, but it never completely overwhelmed her; instead enveloping her softly, like a mild summer day. In his presence, everything becomes light.

In that way, he was everything she once wished she could be. He was brilliant, in the most literal sense of the word. He shined with a magnificence that could put the sun to shame. She was hardly the only one; everyone could see this in him. Not a single person who knew him would disagree if she voiced these thoughts aloud. Midoriya Izuku was bright. Too bright, perhaps, for those born in darkness like her. So bright, it suffocated every star in the sky, made them invisible under the cloak of light. So bright, it illuminated parts of her she hoped to keep hidden for all eternity, ripping them out of the shadows and forcing her to look at them. All the painful, ugly, grotesque parts of her heart and soul; imperfections brought about by breaking and attempting to put herself back together again at such a young age. The haphazard work of a six-year-old girl, small hands too clumsy and inexperienced to amend this kind of damage, but given no other alternative. All these things she had forgotten about, until he came into her life.

Regardless, their relationship was currently in a strange, nebulous space; something not so easy to label or define. While it wouldn't be a lie to say they were friends, they both knew this was a gross oversimplification. They both knew friends didn't even come close to explaining the complex nature of what they were to each other. They probably wouldn't have the answers to this anytime soon. This was something they could only properly identify once they had unpacked their shared trauma. In the aftermath of everything that's happened, emotions were running high between them. Her heart was in such a volatile place, the essence of her emotions spilling out of her chest like tea brewing in hot water. She could feel all of it, polluting the air around them like a thick miasma. They mixed and melded with the emotions he emitted, swirling like a kaleidoscope. He could feel it too; she knew he could. It was asphyxiating, a haze fogging over their minds like the heat of a humid summer day. They couldn't be certain of anything until their clarity returned.

"Mhm." Kanae nodded in confirmation, helping him lay out the food before starting to eat. Already knowing what his line of thinking would most likely be, she was quick to try and calm his worries. "I didn't walk home alone, in case you were wondering. Nii-san was supposed to stay home with me until this afternoon, but the hospital received a patient in critical condition early this morning. My father couldn't work on them alone, so he ended up having to go back right after we got here." Would this be enough to fully satiate his concerns? After such a close encounter with death, she doubted anything less than 24/7 surveillance cameras and an entire team of heroes guarding the house would be enough for that. That was a slight over-exaggeration, but not a completely unfounded one. During her entire stay at the hospital, he hadn't wanted to leave her side even once. Would he have stayed the entire five days she was there, if he had been allowed? Maybe not, but he sure as hell made it seem that way.

"I can imagine." Stomach acid burns at the back of her throat. She takes another bite of the bun she's snacking on, ignores the sensation of drowning in her lungs. "I'm sorry if they overwhelmed you; they know it's not very often that I make new friends, so they were probably just curious..." She didn't ask about what they talked about; she already knew. After having that panic attack seemingly out of nowhere, it would only be natural that her brother would have to explain what happened. It would also be natural that Izuku, unable to leave these things alone, would want a firsthand account from the girl herself. A seasoned professional at avoiding things that troubled or inconvenienced her, she purposefully side-steps that discussion with the grace of a ballet dancer. Again, that shockingly stubborn part of her reared its ugly head, impeding any progress and only making things harder for the both of them (well, at least in her mind -- after a lifetime of dealing with Bakugou Katsuki, how bad could hers possibly be in comparison?) Either way, Kanae was a closed door, for now. If he wanted to start an open and honest conversation about all of this, he'd need to try harder than that.
Home. As Katsuki surveyed his surroundings, that was the only word that came to mind. Akuma's house was everything one would imagine a home to be. The seemingly endless barrage of family photos and obviously homemade crafts lining the walls, the cozy setup of the living room, the scent of lunch wafting from the kitchen nearby. A week ago, he would have cringed at the scene of cheesy domestic bliss portrayed in every square inch of this place, but now he couldn't help but be... relieved. Not only because the obvious comfort anyone would feel in a place like this, but also because it was everything the hospital wasn't. Akuma's hatred of hospitals came from some undisclosed trauma from her past, but even if it hadn't, he couldn't say her feelings were unjustified. Hospitals were usually nothing but blaring lights and blank, impersonal white walls covered with scientific posters and the occasional bland painting. Any plants they already had were usually fake -- overall, it was an environment that drained the life from everything, despite being a place where people usually go to continue living. This was probably a part of the reason why bringing flowers to patients was a cultural norm, come to think of it. It made the stay just a bit more bearable, adding a splash of life to a place that carried none. He never appreciated it when people would do this for him, but he was an ungrateful little shit back then. It was hard to believe, that his life had been so irrevocably altered in such a short span of time that the person he was a mere seven days ago felt almost like a stranger.

This wasn't the first time he visited the home of a schoolmate, however. Though it was rare, he did have friends throughout his life -- or more specifically, people who seemed to flock around him, in spite of his attitude being anything but amicable. Though that's how things always were, it seemed. No matter how badly he treated those around him, there were always at least a couple people who gravitated towards him and wouldn't leave him alone. They insisted they were friends, in spite of the blond's repeated verbal objections to the contrary. He would treat them the same as anyone else, and yet they'd follow him around like lost puppies, sticking by his side with an unwavering loyalty. Katsuki never understood it; he never really cared to try. As long as they didn't try getting in the way of his goals or become too much of a distraction, he had been content just allowing them to do as they pleased. So in that way, those like Akuma and Kirishima were nothing new; just two more in the long line of people who considered him a friend over the years, regardless of his attitude towards them.

And yet, none of them ever changed him the way Akuma did. Which only brings him back to the much bigger question, the one he hasn't stopped asking himself since the night everything went wrong: why her? Why did this one person become so much more to him without him ever realizing it? Why did she continue to affect him in ways no one else has and nothing else does? The memory of that night flashes in his mind once again -- her entire being coated with blood, dropping like a stone, watching Kirishima dash in and get her out of harm's way while he stood there, frozen like a statue, until he realized the Nomu was still moving. How that cold sweat clung to his skin, even after the fight was over and he was watching her get wheeled into an ambulance. In the end, everyone made it out, but he knew from the start that it'd never feel like a victory. That night would always be an ugly reminder of his own weakness, in all the worst ways. Though his motives have changed slightly, the goal itself hasn't; he would become the no. 1 hero. He would keep fighting, keep growing, keep his eyes fixed on the goal so that he could prevent something like this from ever happening again.

"Tch, of course I would. I'm a lot of things, kid, but I'm not a liar." In spite of those harsh words, there was no bite to Katsuki's tone. He had no reason to play-act civility with the brat, but he couldn't muster up the energy to sound properly annoyed, either (he wasn't actually annoyed; he just didn't know who he was when not playing the part.) Overall, he just sounded... tired. So much so that it surprised even him, the sound of his voice when it came out. Here was Bakugou Katsuki, a boy known in part thanks to his near boundless energy, sounding as if he didn't know the meaning of a good night's sleep. Had this incident really taken so much out of him? It didn't matter; he needed to pull himself together before Akuma got out here. This was an emotionally taxing situation for her, too, and he didn't want to begin this visit with giving her reasons to worry. She keeps blaming herself for all this shit, even when it doesn't make any goddamn sense. It infuriated him, but no amount of telling her it wasn't seemed to sway her opinion. The thought of making all of this harder on her made him cautious about what emotions he allowed to slip around her. Something he had never done before, and probably wouldn't do for anyone else. Again, just another of the ways he's noticed her becoming special, becoming important, for reasons he couldn't quite grasp.

"Nah, I live in an apartment building near the edge of Hosu, about fifteen minutes from here. I came from the dorms, though, so it took a little longer." He decided to humor Shiro's attempts to make conversation, if only for something to do while he waited. Civil conversation was a language he wasn't well-versed in -- any language that wasn't shouting, growling, and stroking his own ego might as well have been foreign to him. Still, he was trying his best, even if his flimsy attempts to answer the younger boy's questions came off as just a bit awkward. Turns out social interaction was like any other skill; it came more naturally to some than others, but it was something everyone needed to practice in order to do better at. It wasn't something he had ever put much thought into, but he was considering a lot of things he never would have before, thanks to this situation. Patience was also a foreign concept to him, but cooking with her mother seemed to be an activity she enjoyed. After the harrowing ordeal that was her injury and spending all those days in a place that was traumatizing for her, even he could understand how important it was for her to settle into a comfortable routine, now that she was home. More than anything, he wanted her to have this.

It wasn't until he noticed a shadow in the nearby doorway that his attention was turned away from her brother, and up to the very face he came here to see. Ruby hues flickered a wild array of emotions, but one triumphed over them all: relief. For a moment, all he could do was stare, dumbfounded at just how fucking relieved he was to see her up and moving again. He hadn't realized just how anxious he had become until she was standing there, in the flesh. What had he been so nervous about, anyway? He didn't think she wouldn't want him here or would be upset by his presence; surely she would have told him to fuck off several days ago if that were the case. And of course he wasn't worried about whether or not she'd be here; obviously she wouldn't be anywhere else. So what was it, then? He didn't know. All he knew was that now that she was here, he couldn't speak. He wasn't sure what he had been planning to say once they were in the same room together, but now that the time has come, any and all words vanished into thin air. All he could manage to do was stare, marveling at what his eyes were showing him; Mori Akuma, alivealivealive in front of him, in spite of everything she'd been through. In spite of this whole nightmare, Mori Akuma is alive.