#bkdk Just thinking about Deku getting hit with a Quirk that makes him forget Kacchan. 😭

He sees him at the agency after getting out of the hospital and he's like, "Oh hi, I don't think we've met. I'm Deku."
"Shut up, Deku," Kacchan says as he rolls his eyes and play-punches Deku lightly in the shoulder. Deku recoils and his green eyes grow wide. It's then that Kacchan notices the earnestness in them. /Oh shit/. He clears his throat. "Sorry about that. I'm...uh...Katsuki Bakugou."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Bakugou," says Deku. His face says it's not very nice at all, not with a greeting like he'd just received. Deku was wary, sizing him up.

Kacchan winces at the sound of his surnamed coming from Deku.

"Don't...please...don't call my Bakugou."
"Okay, so what should I call you? Katsuki?"

A little better, but no, it didn't sit right with Kacchan in this context.

"Call me by my hero name, Kacchan."

"Kacchan?" Deku repeats, a small laugh on his lips.
Kacchan's face twists into a scowl.

"What?" he dares, hands on his hips.

"It's just a little unexpected, that's all." Deku waves his hands in front of his face apologetically. "Okay, Kacchan."

/Tha's fuckin' better,/ Kacchan thinks with an internal sigh.
Damn, his hero name wouldn't even be Kacchan if not for this stupid nerd. And whatever, he's damn grateful it is, otherwise how would he convince this clueless Deku to call him that? Kacchan isn't really prepared to think about what it means for Deku to not know him.
The nerd calling him by the right name is the absolute /least/ little comfort Kacchan can have right now.

"I look forward to working with you," Deku says with a somewhat forced smile. "Hopefully our Quirks are compatible."
Kacchan resists the urge to say, /of course they are, dipshit, that's why we work at the same damn agency/ but instead he briefly explains his Quirk. Instantly, Deku's interest sparks and he's asking a million questions that he should know the answer to 100 times over,
what with all the years of admiration and recorded moves. And right now, all of that is gone.

When there's a lull in Deku's excitement, Kacchan excuses himself, goes to his cubicle and puts his head down on the desk, doing his best to ignore the sting behind his eyes.
_____
TBC
"I can't do it. I can't go on patrol with him," Kacchan tells Mirio after changing into his costume. "I won't."

"Kacchan."

"Please," he begs. He hates it, but that's what this is. "This isn't like our high school days when I was just being defiant or difficult or whatever."
"I know," Mirio answers. "Is it really gonna hinder you if you do?"

"You know the answer to that or I wouldn't be asking. He's too distracting...this way."
Silence falls between them for what felt like ages to Kacchan, but he presses on.

"Imagine if Tamaki didn't know you," he says, more quiet, measured. If this doesn't sway his boss, nothing will.
"We don't really have the staff today, what with the mission in Hokkaido still ongoing."

Kacchan prepares for a fight, but Mirio continues, "But, we'll make it work. I'd rather have half the amount of heroes on the route than half a hero on the route."
Kacchan nods.

"Thanks," he says. He moves to leave, as satisfied as he can be, considering. And he truly is grateful.

"And Kacchan...we'll get get him back to normal."

______
TBC
Kacchan makes tea in the break room after the shift and hopes his timing is right, that Deku's still out. Usually he'd sit and decompress right there with the drink, but he decides it's best to take it straight to his office when it's done steeping, just in case.
"Hey!" Deku's voice halts him in on his way. "I thought we'd be patrolling together, but I guess not. Maybe another time. I'm really interested in learning more about your power."

Kacchan breathes deep and forces a grin. "Yeah, another time. I've got paperwork
and then I'm heading home. It was nice to meet you." The words claw at Kacchan's throat and he does his best to swallow the emotions before they can swallow him.

"Wait! I think we started off on the wrong foot," said Deku waving a hand out in front of him. Your greeting was
unexpected, that's all. It's nice to meet you too." Deku scratches at the back of his head, absent-mindedly.

"Tch," is all Kacchan can manage. He nods curtly, desperate to get out of there, where Deku's face turns slightly pink.

"Okay, well, see ya tomorrow."
Kacchan's apartment is neat and cool. He enters with a sigh, hoping that being home will release some of the tension he's been carrying all day. But all too soon he spies a photo on the bookshelf. One of him and Deku as kids at the beach, looking plump and happy and friendly.
Without another thought he turns it over so it can no longer mock him. And pulling out his cell phone he makes a call to the hospital.

He taps his foot as he waits, the soothing hold time music only feeding his nerves. Did anyone actually find hold music soothing?
"Dr. Hado," a gentle, but frazzled voice finally speaks.

"Yes, hi! This is Katsuki Bakugou, I'm calling about a patient, Deku. Uh, that is the hero Deku. Izuku Midoriya."

"I see. And what's your relationship to the patient?" the doctor asks.
Kacchan stares at the phone for a moment in disbelief. What /is/ his relationship to Deku? Where to even begin. /He probably don't doesn't want our whole fuckin' history, Katsuki. Use your damn head/ he reprimands himself.

"I'm uh...one of his emergency contacts, should be
right after his mom."

The doctor verified the information in Deku's chart while Kacchan closed his eyes and attempted to regulate his breathing.

"Alright Mr. Bakugou. Do you have a question or concern about Mr. Midoriya's case?"

/Of course I fucking do, that's why I called/
"Yeah, well...I'm not sure what to say other than he doesn't remember me."

"I'm sorry?"

"I said, he doesn't know who I am. He...we've known each other since we were kids but since he got out of the hospital, it's like he doesn't know me."

"Hmmm, I see."
Kacchan hears the sound of rapid typing on the other end. He thinks he doesn't appreciate Dr. Hado's mild tone. Clearly, he doesn't grasp the severity of the situation.

"And is he struggling to remember other people or things?"

"He's not /struggling/ to remember me,
it's like I was never there." Saying it out loud is only making it worse. There are definite tears in his eyes now and he knows, he /knows/ this doctor can hear them in his voice but fuck, this whole thing got the better of him.

More typing.
"And does anything else seem to be erased from his memory?" asks the doctor.

"Erased?" Kacchan chokes.

"Now, Mr. Bakugou, it's important not to panic."

/Who's panicking?/

"Right," he says.

"I suggest that you bring him in tomorrow for an examination."
Dr. Hado offers Kacchan several appointment times, but he snags the earliest. Mirio would agree, of course, he had to. Someone else would take their shifts. This is more pressing. Kacchan sets his phone down on the coffee table and rubs at his eyes with the heels of his hands.
Mirio would agree, yes. But would Deku?

_____
TBC
The next morning, on his way in to work, Kacchan has a troubling thought. What would happen in Deku's mind if he'd noticed evidence of already knowing Kacchan? He knew the nerd had a copy of that same beach photo somewhere, not to mention photos from U.A. graduation.
Their lives have been pretty connected for a long time. What if he notices 'Kacchan' saved in phone or the string of text messages they'd been sending over the years. Kacchan knows on his end he’s never deleted them. He just kept the conversation thread open because it’s
always inevitable he'll need to contact Deku at some point, for some thing or another, and it’s convenient to save. They hadn't encountered any of their other friends or co-workers yesterday and Kacchan hadn't thought to mention the situation to them.
How would /they/ react if Deku explained to them how he’d just met the hero Kacchan and asked them about the origin of his hero name? They'd all look at him like he'd grown a third head.
And then another crosses his mind. How selfish he’s being to assume that this is just a him thing. What if Deku also does know Round Face or Icy Hot or Glasses? How about his mom?
Kacchan sighs as he entered the office, not sure of what he'll find exactly and not sure of what he should say to get Deku to the doctor's appointment. He decides, again, that it's at least to be direct with Mirio.
"I know Shitty Hair- Red Riot- has a day off today. He'll come in if I tell him it's an emergency. I'll cover him on his next day off," says Kacchan. Miro is quiet. He crosses his arms across his chest, but there's a look of understanding and compassion in his already kind face.
This look would annoy Kacchan if he didn't need it so much.

"The interns are here today. I'll take a patrol with one of them and if Kirishima can make it in I'll send him out on his own. He knows the route inside and out. I'll forward all calls to my cell for the day."
"Thank you," says Kacchan. He heads to the break room for coffee and finds Deku sitting at the table with a cup of matcha.

"Green tea for a green nerd," he says out of habit, then smacks himself in the forehead with the heels of his hands. But Deku doesn't look up.
He's scrolling his phone pretty aggressively. For a moment, Kacchan things he must have found their text messages and is probably about to have some kind of nervous breakdown. Instead, Deku finally looks up as Kacchan sits and he thrusts the screen towards him.
"You've had some really impressive victories!"

"Tch. Yeah, no shit. Winning's kinda my thing."

"Wow, so you really are that arrogant."

"I'm not arrogant, I'm confident. And it's my name. Katsuki. That's why my hero name is Kacchan.
It's no different than Shoto using his first name, except mine's more of a nickname, something someone always called me growing up- because they knew I was destined to be a great hero!"

"Confidence, huh? So, you know Shoto?"

"Yeah, I know Shoto. Who doesn't? He's popular."
"But you didn't know me; I'm popular."

Kacchan takes a sip of his coffee to give himself a second to think.

"Of course, I fuckin' heard of you before, Deku."

"Do you always swear like this, even at work?"

"Yes."
"How come I never heard of you?" asks Deku. Kacchan swallows hard. He tries to detect the distress in Deku's voice but right now it just sounds like mild curiosity.

"Hell if I know. It's your loss. But you know me now, so...cheers." He held his coffee mug aloft and unexpectedly
Deku raises his mug of tea and clinks. So he really is the same dork, just no memory of Kacchan. He remembers Shoto, clearly. Kacchan decides he'll try to casually drop Uraraka and Iida into conversation, maybe other former classmates too just to check, but he doesn't need to
because Deku asks Kacchan if he's heard of them too. Kacchan desperately wants to roll his eyes.

"Yeah, I know almost all the same people you do," he answers.

"Huh. Did you go to Shiketsu?" Deku asks. Kacchan sorta wants to throw his coffee mug at the wall at this point
but Mirio steps into the break room at that moment to deliver a message to Deku, just like he'd promised.

"Midoriya, the hospital called and Dr. Hado would like to see you for a follow-up. Something about an additional test or two. Kacchan will go with you."

"Huh?"
Kacchan shrugs. He watches Deku carefully. He looks confused but he doesn't protest.

"Okay, I guess that's best, then." Kacchan nods. He hopes this issue will be resolved soon.

______
TBC
"Alright Midoriya, your vitals look good," Dr. Hado said. He'd had reservations about allowing Kacchan into the examination room. But Deku had already signed a release form giving permission to discuss his case with the hero agency, as it pertained to hero work.
When they'd first arrived, he'd explained to the doctor that this /absolutely/ pertained to hero work because it was clearly a Quirk accident. And obviously, it pertained to him, because /he/ was the one the nerd didn't remember.
When Doctor Hado had asked if Deku was okay having Kacchan in the room, he'd shrugged and said he didn't mind. Thank god.

"Any head pain?" the doctor asks. Izuku shakes his head as the doctor palpates. "Nausea?" Again, he signifies, 'no.'
"Any trouble remembering anything?"

"Not that I know of?" Izuku says.

"What did you have for breakfast this morning? asks Dr. Hado.

"Easy. I didn't have breakfast," he answers. Kacchan groans.

"Deku, you fuckin /need/ to eat breakfast," he scolded.
"Sorry," he added, when Dr. Hado eyed him.

"And, you know this man?" The doctor gestured to Kacchan.

"Yep. We met yesterday, at work."

"I see. Is he new to your agency?"

"Yeah."

"Do you know where he worked before?"

Deku shook his head. "We haven't gotten that far yet."
Of course, Dr. Hado may not have directly worked with Kacchan as a patient before, but he did work with heroes regularly and he knew full well that Kacchan and Deku were at the same agency. It was common knowledge, even outside of hero adjacent doctors.
"What does Kacchan have to do with anything?" Deku asks.

Dr. Hado shakes his head, but looks at the floor. Deku doesn't press further. He listens to the Doctor's recommendations for tests and scans and agrees to do them, putting his trust in the man's professional opinion.
Kacchan is impressed with the doctor for making it all seem necessary despite having just reported no head pain or memory loss. Now Kacchan does leave the room and sits in the waiting room...waiting.
After twenty minutes or an hour, the doctor and Deku emerge and Kacchan's being pulled aside, discreetly while Deku checks out.

"There was some unusual brain activity in the hippocampus that certainly resembles Quirk interference that we've seen before.
It seems like some sort of selective amnesia, but I can't tell the specifications of the Quirk from these tests. I'll send some of the results with you and if you look into the villains he was fighting that night, perhaps you'll be able to look into it further."
/Thanks but no thanks/ Kacchan wants to say, because he's desperate for answers and a fix NOW, but he knows he's being unreasonable. Doctors don't have access to villain Quirk registries or to inside information about missions. Heroes do.
They ride back to the agency in a cab, Deku asking all kinds of questions of Kacchan that he already knows the answers to and it makes Kacchan's blood boil. He answers as best he can, given that he has to omit their whole history. And then something pops up on the little screen
in the back of the cab. It's an advertisement for some athletic brand they did last year, just the two of them. To promote the agency and themselves. Kacchan had despised it but the pay had been nice. Deku sees it. Kacchan /sees/ Deku seeing it.
"I hate looking at photos of myself," he says, pointing. "It's kind of ridiculous the extra stuff we do. I don't mind so much, but still the end results are funny sometimes. Have you done any kind of promotional stuff like this before, Kacchan?"
Kacchan blinks. So, does Deku just not /see/ him? Past him?

"Can I see your phone for a second?" he asks. Deku looks confused, but he hands it over willingly.

Kacchan scrolls through the contacts, finds himself in the list of top five and holds it up to Deku.
"What's this say, Deku?"

"My speed dial? It's my mom, Uraraka, Iida, Todorki, and the office. Kacchan, what is it?"

"Nothing, it's nothing." Kacchan scrolls then scrolls through the photos, finds one of them, taken at their favorite ramen place. He instantly remembers
Jirou had taken it because Kacchan had vowed to do the spice challenge and she'd wanted to take a 'before' and
'after' photo, convinced the 'after' would be him looking red and regretful.

"And what's this picture, Deku?"

"That's me at the ramen shop."
Kacchan nods. His eyes burn. He hands the phone back to Deku.

/cool, cool/ he thinks, trying not to panic. He takes deep breaths through his nose.

"They have some wild flavors. Do you like spicy food, Kacchan?"

"Yeah, Deku. I like spicy food," he answers.

_____
TBC
They return to the office and go their separate ways, but this is where things could get hairy because Kirishima is here, as well as the interns, though they're thankfully out on patrol. In the cab ride, Kacchan had decided he needed to warn everyone of what was going on.
He heads to his office and drafts a group text that he edits and deletes dozens of times before finally pressing send.

'Something happened to Deku during Friday's attack. We know he had physical injuries, but there must have also been a villain there with a memory Quirk
because he doesn't remember me. It's like I was erased'

Kacchan's gut clenches as he types that word, 'erased.'

'Don't mention me to him, about our history...childhood, U.A., nothing before yesterday because he won't know what you're talking about. Save your breath.'
A long ass novel of a text. He knew his friends would make fun of him for it, if the content weren't so serious. The he sets his phone aside and ignores the buzzing of incoming responses while he pulls up notes on the mission that could give him any clues.
He skims for details. The time, the location, that he already knew. That Deku had been by himself, backup arriving only after his injury. He'd responded to a call at the shopping center because he'd been closest.
His injuries had been from falling debris. The villain had been apprehended. A villain with Gigantification Quirk. Odd for a standard robbery. He scrolled further, pulling up the villain's profile. Shark Tank, he was called because as a kid he'd apparently accidentally activated
it at an aquarium and well... /dark/, thinks Kacchan. Seemed like the Quirk was a combo of Mt. Lady's and Shoji's, sprouting extra limbs that instantly spread out. This had caused damage to the chopping center and to Deku when he'd tried to make an escape. Fucking amateur with
an unwieldy Quirk, it seemed. Nothing here about memory loss. He pulls up the database for more in depth research and he finds the answer. An article from just a few months ago when he'd read havoc at the beach. 'Shark Tank rarely works alone because of his unruly Quirk.'
He scrolls for names until one hits him square in the face.

'Recent accomplices include Control Alt, whose quirk is deletion...'

Kacchan grabs his coat and heads to Tsukauchi without another thought and without finishing the reading.
"What do you know about this deletion Quirk," Kacchan asks, barging in.

Tsukauchi is quiet for a moment.

"Deku was hit with it and he forgot about me. Why would it single me out? What's the Quirk?"

The detective pinched the bridge of his nose then looked at Kacchan with
a mix of pity and caution.

"From what we've observed, it seems that the Quirk deletes things or people the target has...complicated feelings for."

"Hah?!"

"Like, if there's some unresolved tension or past hurt or discomfort."
The look on Tsuakuchi's face is just a little too knowing for Kacchan's liking.

Complicated feelings. Unresolved Tension. Past hurt or discomfort. What. The. Fuck?

Fuck.

_____
TBC
"And how do we fix it?" Kacchan asks. His hands are on his hips. He feels like screaming. He's past caring whether the detective can hear the desperation in his voice. He's sure he fucking can. It's too obvious and Tsukauchi has known them both for a long time.
"I think it will fade with time, or rather, the memories will be restored with time."

"How much time?"

"Kacchan..."

"This can't last, okay!"

Kacchan feels the tears falling on his face before he even notices them in his eyes. Tsukauchi pretends not to notice.
"I suppose if the unresolved issues become resolved, maybe that would hasten the restoration. We still don't know much about this Quirk. He's fairly new to the villain scene and in most cases it seems use of it was accidental. It's not exactly flashy. From what we can tell,
others run with him because he's also extremely strong, fast, stealthy. Records indicate he's very skilled in martial arts. He may have chosen a code name that highlights his Quirk, but it's not his main asset."
Kacchan sighs. He knows the detective is being more than generous in sharing what little information he has. But just waiting it out is not the answer he was hoping for.

Nor is confronting the /complicated feelings/ he reminds himself. But dammit, he may not have a choice.
He heads home, unwilling to face Deku again until he knows what he's going to do or say, and right now he has no fucking clue where to start. He calls the doctor and asks if it's okay to bring up past memories with Deku. He has to be sure he won't further break the nerd's brain.
Dr. Hado says it shouldn't cause further damage, though it might be uncomfortable. Oh, Kacchan was counting on that much. He just didn't want to hurt Deku further.

After staring at the wall for what feels like several hours, he knows what he wants to do.
He calls Deku.

"Hey, uh...Deku?"

"Kacchan?"

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to call you so late."

"How'd you get my number?"

"Uhhh...agency directory. I hope that's alright."

"Yeah, sure, that's fine. Is everything okay?"

/Fuck no, everything is not okay. Nothing is okay./
"Oh, yeah, this isn't an emergency or anything."

"Oh good," Deku sighs.

Silence.

"I was just wondering if...um...you wanted to grab lunch with me tomorrow. I think we're both off," says Kacchan.

More silence.
"Kacchan are you...are you asking me out?"

"Hah?!"

"I guess I was kinda obvious with my interest, huh?"

"Deku..."

"Sure, I'll have lunch with you. I don't usually date co-workers, but...oh god, I'm sorry, I shouldn't be saying this."

"Saying what, Deku?"
Deku sighs on the other end. Kacchan's heart is absolutely pounding out of his chest.

"I just...this is gonna sound so weird, so please tell me if it's to much, but...I just felt this instant connection to you, like...like I've known you for years."
/You have Deku! You have!/ Kacchan wants to scream. He can't even process exactly what Deku is saying about his feelings.

"So, how about we get to know each other," Kacchan says. We can meet at your ramen place."

Kacchan thinks it's a good a place as any to confront their past.
Now he guesses he has something else to confront as well because he really wasn't expecting Deku to be saying things like this. Kacchan thinks he can /hear/ Deku blushing.

"Sounds good. Noon?" Deku asks

"Perfect."

Kacchan hangs up and stares at the phone for a good minute.
Did Deku just admit to being attracted to him? Yes. That was a thing that happened. And he'd obviously felt enough of something...'an instant connection' he'd said to feel bold enough to say it. /And because he thought I was asking him out/.
Kacchan stays awake, staring at the ceiling for hours because this new information was simultaneously adding to his confusion and making things impossibly clear. Kacchan has feelings for Deku.

Does Deku feel the same? Not /this/ Deku, but full memory Deku? Will he?
No, Kacchan doesn't sleep, because if the key to fixing Deku's memory is to resolve the unresolved...well things just got a lot more complicated.

_____
TBC
"Kacchan, you made it! Part of me thought you wouldn't come!" says Deku, smiling over at him from his seat at a table by the window. Their usual table, Kacchan notes.

"Of course I came, you idiot, I was the one who invited you, wasn't I?"
"Oh, right. Well, anyway, I was worried I'd made a fool of myself."

"You always do that. I mean...never mind. I don't know what I mean."

"See! You're just...you're so familiar with me and at first I found it so off-putting, but..." he trails off.
"You like it," Kacchan finishes the thought. Deku nods.

"So! Here's the menu. The spiciest options are here at the bottom." Deku claps his hands together and slides the menu across the table. "You said you like spicy food."
Deku's face falls as he notices the blank look on Kacchan's face.

"I'm sorry," he says, hands immediately going to his lap. "This is too much too fast, right? We don't know each other at all and here I'm trying to mimic your familiar charm or whatever,
but I'm scaring you, right?"

"Deku," says Kacchan. He swallows hard. Then he reaches into the pocket of his jacket and pulls out a smooth black stone, shot through with gold. It looks like kintsugi, but it's completely natural. He places it on the table between them.
"What's this?" Deku looks at it and looks like he wants to touch it, but he doesn't, at least not without Kacchan's coaxing. Kacchan hopes this memory object will be enough to jog the nerd's memory. That if he holds it in his hand, everything will come flooding back.
It's a real long shot, but he's read about how things like this can work sometimes, and he's hoping it will bridge the gap and ease the blow, because even though Kacchan knows what he wants to say now (mostly), he doesn't know where to start.
The stone is as much an aid for him as it is for Deku.

Deku does reach a hand out and runs his fingers over it, but recognition doesn't flicker in his face the way Kacchan had been hoping.

"You don't recognize this?" Kacchan asks.
"Should I?"

"Yes," Kacchan says.

"Kacchan. What's going on?"

"Deku. This stone is one we found together by the river. As kids."
"You mean you found it," says Deku, but his voice sounds unsure.

"No," Kacchan shakes his head. And he notices the faint glint of tears in Deku's eyes.

"Kacchan. What?"

Kacchan gulps back his own tears and reaches his hands across the table, grabbing Deku's in his own.
He expects Deku to flinch and he's startled, for sure, but he accepts the touch.

"We grew up together. We met at the park in Mustafu when we were three."

"Kacchan..."

"Please Deku, please listen. This will be a lot, but I need you to listen. Can you?"
Deku nods and wipes tears away with the heels of his hands. And he does.

______
TBC
"We were friends," Kacchan starts. "Inseparable at first, mostly our moms' doing, I think. When we played together, they got a little bit of a break. We had fun. We explored, we played pretend. We dreamed of being heroes together. But then..."
"Then I didn't get a Quirk," says Deku.

"You remember?" asks Kacchan, squeezing Deku's hands. He shakes his head.

"No. I don't remember...us...but of course I remember being Quirkless. Kacchan hangs his head and continues.
"We stayed friends for a little while after that. You were always following me because you thought I was something special. I thought I was something special too. And then...I wasn't such a good friend. I think I hurt you.
I could say I know I did, but I don't want to speak for you when you don't even remember me. Anyway, I did a lot of hurtful things. Because I didn't get you and I didn't like not getting you. Once I took my head out of my own ass enough to tell you so, to confront you...
well, then I guess we started to become friends again. Deku, I didn't go to Shiketsu. We were in the same class at U.A. I'm in your graduation photos. We hang out sometimes. We work together a lot. We care about each other. It's not easy, but we do.
We eat at this place pretty often. Together. By ourselves or with the extras...I mean...our friends. That attack on Friday. The one that landed you in the hospital...there was a villain whose Quirk made you forget me."
They're still holding hands across the table. Deku's brow is furrowed in concentration and he's staring intently at the black stone between them as though all his memories of Kacchan are trapped there.
Kacchan wants to keep talking but he knows it's likely overwhelming enough already.

"So," says Deku. "I've known you since we were kids and we've had a rocky friendship, but we're cool now. And yesterday you asked me out or I thought you did and
I pretty much admitted that I'm /interested/ in you and OH MY GOD THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING!"

Deku pulls his hands away from Kacchan now and hides his reddening face in them.
"Why don't you just leave and I can wallow in my own shame and we can forget his ever happened," he adds.

Kacchan winces at the word 'forget.' Gently, he tugs on Deku's wrists, urging him to pull his hands away.
"Deku. No. /That's/ what your worried about after what I just told you?! What is wrong with you?"

Kacchan is half amused, half angry.
"You sound like you're someone worth remembering," says Deku quietly, picking up the stone in his hand again. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath as his fingers close around it. Kacchan pulls his hands back and gives him the space.
When he opens his eyes he looks disappointed and he shakes his head. "I'm sorry, Kacchan. You're not there."

Kacchan fights the tears and he grabs Deku's hands again.
"But I'm here, now," Kacchan says. "So let's just have some ramen together and I'll tell you whatever you want to know about me. Or not. We could eat in silence for all I care, just...please don't be embarrassed about this. I want..."
And he has to pull one of his hands away to wipe at the tears and he's fucking grateful the staff hasn't come over to greet them yet and they're probably hella confused, but they also seemed to be very wise.
"Tsukauchi told me that this Quirk; the one that erased me or deleted me, it's called deletion, deleted me in your brain because of my past fuck ups towards you. And because no matter how close we are now, there's still some tension, and your feelings for me are complicated."
Deku lets out a little laugh. "And how about your feelings fo me, Kacchan? Are they complicated?" he asks.

Kacchan stares at him like a deer in headlights for a moment. But only a moment.

"The problem is, I thought so, Deku. But I don't think they are.
Maybe they used to be but this...you forgetting about me...It made me realize..."

"What, Kacchan?"
They're leaning in now, a little too close. Deku's eyes look full of something Kacchan has never seen before and his eyelashes flutter closed as their lips meet, chastely across the table. It's over in a heartbeat (fuck, Kacchan's heartbeat!) and Kacchan answers.
"That I really want to eat ramen with you, nerd."

Deku rolls his eyes and he pinches the inside of Kacchan's wrist with a scowl. Kacchan laughs. His heart is full but it also aches because this still isn't /his/ Deku, not really.
Deku pulls the menu too him and peruses it like he hasn't eaten there a hundred times before and after finally ordering he looks up and speaks, boldly.

"I'll remember you, Kacchan. I promise."

Kacchan nods but he looks sad and Deku notices.
"What is it?"

"And what if when you remember me you hate the idea of this?" asks Kacchan asks, gesturing between them.

"Then I'd be really sad," answers Deku.

"Me too, nerd. Me too."

_____
TBC
Neither of them could think of a good reason to stop hanging out for the afternoon. They're enjoying each other's company, just walking and talking, with Deku asking for little details about their shared history, nothing serious, just small things.
Still, it has Kacchan on edge because he can't anticipate what's going to come out of Deku's mouth, what's going to hurt.

"I want to see them," says Deku.

"See what?"

"The pictures. Of us."

Kacchan sighs.
"You won't see me," he reminds Deku. "I'm deleted, remember?" /ugh, why the fuck did he say 'remember?'/

"And maybe really looking at our memories, what should also be /my/ memories will help me to remember. Please Kacchan. I want to."
And the way Deku's talking it almost feels like normal. Somehow in the span of these few hours its like a bridge has been built and they're both starting to cross. /Yeah, kissing someone in the middle of the ramen shop will do that/ thinks Kacchan.
He can't resist Deku's defiant pleading, so he agrees. They walk back to Kacchan's apartment in silence, because anticipation leaks in to everything he wants to say.
"What you want to look at first?" Kacchan asks as they settle in. Might as well go all in. But Deku is moving around the space like he's trying to ascertain meaning there.

"I've been here before," says Deku. Kacchan isn't sure if it's a statement or a question and he says so.
"Statement," Deku answers. "I don't remember it," he adds, stifling the growing look of hope on Kacchan's face. "But I don't /not/ remember it. It feels...safe, comfortable. Like...not a stranger's."

Kacchan moves to the bookshelf and picks up the beach photo.
He gestures for Deku to sit on the couch, which he does. And sitting down beside him, he hands Deku the photo.

"Do you recognize this?" he asks.

Deku gasps. He runs his fingers over the surface, over his own pudgy kid face and unruly curls.

"I have this photo too."
"And do you see me in it, nerd?" Kacchan asks. Deku shakes his head, 'no.' "I'm right here." Kacchan moved Deku's fingers over his own face, blonde hair, and toothy kid grin.

"That was a good day," says Deku. But I only remember me and my mom there. I'm sorry, Kacchan."
Kacchan squeezes Deku's hand. "Don't be discouraged."

He's speaking to Deku, but every bit to himself, too.

"I've got plenty more I can show you."
He rummages through his closets and drawers to dig up as much memorabilia as he can (or can handle) and watches as Deku combs through.

It's the Class A graduation photo that hurts Kacchan the most because Deku knows everyone else, of course. They aren't deleted. Only him.
"This is upsetting you," says Deku, finally closing the album on his lap. The look of concern on his face makes Kacchan's heart flip. He wants to deny, but he's tapping his foot and squeezing his clasped hands so hard his knuckles are white.
"It's fine," he replies. "It might help you, so..."

Deku brings a hand up to Kacchan's cheek. It's so intimate, he has to shut his eyes, because it's too painful to look in those searching green eyes right now.

"And this might too."
He knows it's coming and still the brush of Deku's lips against his send shock waves down his spine. The touch makes him feel simultaneously shattered and whole.

Deku might not know him right now, but Kacchan has certainly never met this Deku before and he's not complaining.
"Deku, I don't think I can do this. Date you or..." he says, regretfully when they pull apart. "It's not fair to you."

"Don't you think I get to decide what's fair to me?"

"You're not in your right mind. You don't know me or our history and I do.
"That's okay with me," answers Deku. And damn, that defiance again.

"Well, it's not okay with me!" sputters Kacchan. He takes a deep breath and rubs at his eyes, trying to gather his thoughts.
He continues, "believe me, I'm thrilled you're interested. I like this. But Deku, I love you and I don't want be just some overbearing guy you met at work who you inexplicably find attractive when the reason is a whole life together you can't recall. I said it's not fair to you
but it's not fair to me either. I want you to be with /me./ Not with whoever you think I am right now."

Deku's face is flushed. He's blinking back tears.

"You...you love me?"

Kacchan sighs. Then he nods. Shit.

_____
TBC
Tears are streaming down Deku's face now. He shut his eyes tightly, brow crinkled in the center. He's breathing heavy, but not deeply. Kacchan holds his hand and runs his thumb across the knuckles in an attempt to be reassuring, but it doesn't stop the outburst.
"This isn't fair!" Deku shrieks. "I want to remember you. I /have/ to remember you!"

"Deku."

"How can I not remember someone who loves me?"

"You didn't know I did until now. /I/ didn't know I did. And I shouldn't have said it. I wasn't planning on it, it just came out."
"So you regret it?" The look on Deku's face is just /daring/ him to say, 'yes.'

"No. No, I don't regret it, but this is what I mean. You can't really understand what I feel for you because it runs too deep. I'm just starting to understand it myself.
And if you /never/ remember me...even if you were to fall in love with me, it wouldn't be enough for me, Deku. It wouldn't feel real."

Deku looks crestfallen but he also nods. He doesn't let go of Kacchan's hand.
For a moment, if they don't speak, Kacchan thinks he can almost trick himself that this is the Deku who knows every part of him and wants to be with him anyway instead of one who thinks he's just some hot, hotshot, hothead hero.
"I told you I'd remember you, Kacchan. I promised. I intend to follow-through."

The glint of a smile twitches at the corner of Kacchan's lips. He's this close to crumbling, but the raw determination in Deku's expression holds him together.
"Hey, you thought 'Kacchan' was a funny hero name when you heard it, right?" Kacchan asks.

"I'm sorry about that."

"No. That's not what I...don't be. It's weird right?"

Deku shrugs.

"I guess it's no weirder than 'Deku.'"

"Exactly. And do you know how you came to choose it?"
Deku paused for a moment and Kacchan thought maybe his mind was glitching, struggling over the deleted part, trying to make it make sense.

"Ochako...Uravity. She told me it sounded like 'do your best.' And I guess at the time I kinda had a crush on her, so I went with it."
Kacchan's smile is pained. "Yeah, that's part of it," Kacchan says.

"But it's something to do with you too..."

"Yes."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said I had a crush on her! That as rude when you..."
"Tch. Deku! I don't care about that! That's not new information to me. I /know/ you remember. That was a long time ago. You don't feel that way now, do you?"

"No!"

Kacchan can't help but laugh as Deku's hands fly in front of his face, defensively.
"It was a mean nickname I gave you as kids. You know how I said I did some hurtful things. That was just part of it. But you turned it around on me when you made it your hero name. To be honest, it really pissed me off at the time.
But you made it your own. Just like you did with One For All."

Kacchan doesn't miss how Deku's eyes bulge at the mention of his power. It's been public knowledge for a while that the Hero Deku is the successor of All Might, who passed his power on to a Quirkless boy with
a powerful spirit. But no one just mentions it, casually, like this.

"I was the first person you told, Deku," Kacchan says softly. "And I kept your secret. I helped you train. Even when you were still really annoying to me. It brought us together."
"Then you must mean a lot to me," Deku replies. He stands suddenly. "I don't wanna hear any more about our past, Kacchan. Because what I really want with you is a future. And I know I need one to get the other. So, like I said. I /will/ remember you."

_____
TBC
How? Kacchan wants to ask. But he doesn't He believes in Deku. He believes that maybe they're on a path to resolving unresolved issues, at least he thinks he's done so on his end. How long the path is, well he has no way of knowing.
He needs to be patient and prepare for the long haul. He doesn't want to bombard Deku with things from the past in the hopes they'll lead to remembrance; that seems like a way for both of them to stay frustrated. But maybe if he can keep peppering things in?
There's really no use in speculating. He's laid his feelings bare, as he's done with Deku before. He hopes it will be enough and tries to come to terms with the fact that there just might not be some watershed moment.
They say their goodbyes, regretfully, but Deku is optimistic or he's pretending to be and either way, Kacchan accepts it. But it's after he makes dinner for himself and settles down to watch reruns of an old All Might cartoon that he gets an idea.
He grabs his phone, dials Deku, and when he gets his answer he immediately goes into a tirade, summoning up his past self as best he can.

"Oi, Deku you Dweeb! If you think you can surpass me, you've got another thing coming. I'll beat you with everything I've got!"
"Kacchan?"

He doesn't allow the confusion in Deku's voice to deter him. He continues to speak, using up all his defensive lines of old.

"That's how it was between us, Deku. For a long time."
"Is that why there was such a gap with our photos? Us as happy little kids...then nothing...then the high school?"

"Yes. I always figured you forgave me for my shitty behavior or we moved past it because, like I said before, we care about each other and we got closer after
you shared your secret with me. But maybe...maybe you didn't, Deku."

"I'm sure I would have. If we're really working together and hanging out as much as you say."

"But consider it, Deku. What if that's the key. I don't know that I ever really said, 'I'm sorry' so much as did
things that tried to make up for the bad stuff. Anyway, it's still just the surface, but if you remember...if any of this rings a bell just...know that I am. Sorry. And I love you. I didn't mean to say it earlier, but I do mean it."
There's silence, except Kacchan is fairly certain he can hear Deku crying on the other end. And goddammit, he's got to be living just under Deku's skin there somewhere if he's having this kind of effect on him.
He's deleted, but it can't be total annihilation or else the nerd would never have responded to him in the way he did. Yes, Kacchan is attractive, but wouldn't just be okay with some random extra co-worker giving him a full on love-confession even with the knowledge that Kacchan
was someone he /should/ know. He'd taken that bombshell pretty well. They'd kissed (twice) and it had felt completely naturally even if it was out of the blue.

/So what gives? How the fuck do I break through?/ he wonders for the hundredth time.
"Kacchan..."

"Yes, what is it Deku?"

"I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"Yeah. You will. Okay."

He's incredibly sad as he hangs up. He hates feeling so helpless. If Deku didn't seem so damn invested in him too he'd think his desires were completely selfish, but no.
This is clearly hurting both of them.

/And whose fault is that?/ he thinks. /Couldn't just wait and see if the Quirk would wear off, no. You had to meddle, just couldn't stand being nothing to Deku. Had to assert yourself and get involved and cause a fucking mess./
Too many thoughts swarm in Kacchan's mind and he tries to deflect the ones he knows are completely unfair to himself, but it's not easy and before long he's looking at another sleepless night.
The agency is fairly empty when Kacchan arrives the next morning. He's made it a point to come in early to use the gym and luckily that's clear too.

His hair's still damp from the shower when he enters the break room to find Deku, standing there with a soft smile on his face.
He holds out a cup of black coffee towards Kacchan. It's in an orange mug that says 'Number One Hero,' in bold black letters.

"I got you this as a gag gift for your birthday last year and you didn't accept it. You told me to hold onto it until you actually take number one.
You're closer than ever now, Kacchan."

Kacchan takes the coffee, even though he is in fact still the number four hero. His lip quivers as he follows Deku's gaze to the break room table. Deku holds up a packet of instant noodles.
"You hate it when I eat these. You always grumble and scoff and every time you come over you threaten to throw them out, 'the whole fuckin' lot' you say. But you never do. Instead you just make better food for me."

"Deku..."
"This is maruyama tea, which you love and I don't, but I keep some at my apartment for you and I'm the one who keeps it stocked here, so you always have some."

The tears swell in Kacchan's eyes as Deku continues to pick things off the table.
"This is favorite All Might action figure. Not because it's the best or the most expensive, but because you gave it to me when we were kids and I've always treasured it. I've got boxes of trading cards here...ones we actually traded...very seriously for a time.
I'd point out all the ones we fought over, but I'm sure you already remember."

Deku picked up a photo album and flipped through until he found the one he wanted.

"Graduation. And of course you're next to me. You've always been next to me, Kacchan."
"Not always..." Kacchan murmers, hanging his head, but Deku grabs his hand and pulls him closer. He produces his copy of the beach day picture and points right to the sand-covered Kacchan. "Your hair was even wilder because it was so windy. We argued about this seashell here...
I don't remember all the details...but I remember, Kacchan. I remember you."

Kacchan broke down then and grabbed Deku in a fierce hug. Deku eked out a laugh as he responded happily, resting his cheek against Kacchan's chest.
"How?" Kacchan asks.

"I don't know. Maybe I never will. But I think you were right to try and remind me of things...including some of the bad times."

"And my apology?"
"Kacchan, you were right and so was I. I forgave you a long time ago because you showed me how you changed. You were there for me."

"I /am/ here for you," Kacchan replies, tentatively.

"I know."

"So, you remember...what I told you? About...how I feel?" Kacchan's looking down
and running a hand through his hair.

"Yes. I do," answers Deku, flinging his arms around Kacchan and surprising him with a kiss for the third time in the span of a few days.
"Kacchan. I love you too," Deku confesses when they pull away. "I'm so sorry I forgot you."

"Tch, don't apologize for that, you idiot!"

And this time Kacchan grabs him and leans in first. Deku lets out a yelp, but quickly melts into it and it must be several minutes
before their startled out of their bubble by Mirio clearing his throat. Both of them turn instantly pink in the face, but they're still clinging to each other.

"So, I guess you're feeling better then, eh Midoriya?" asks Mirio.

"Uh huh," he answers, sheepishly.
"Well, it's almost nine." Mirio's way of telling them to get back to their professional selves. Kacchan steals one more quick kiss as he helps Deku clean up his min Kacchan shrine that had taken over the table.
"You really should not eat this shit, Deku."

"Kacchan it's not that bad. I add an egg to it, like you told me, sometimes even meat!"

They both relish the easy banter and Kacchan is so damn grateful to have it back he forgets to be stunned by their recent confessions.
"Deku," he says quieter, reaching for Deku's hand. "Let me take you on a date. A real date. To a nice place. Not just lunch. A proper dinner. Not that the ramen place isn't nice...."

"Kacchan. I know what you mean. And, yes. I'd like that."
"Great. Tomorrow night. My treat. Put it on your calendar so you don't forget."'

"Don't worry, Kacchan. I won't forget."

_________
The End
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