BkDK thread collab w @jam_spicy (who formatted the mess i wrote and added a lot of juice and structure to this baby)

This is based on the Old God prompt from day 26 of my Bakutober zine.
Katsuki fell in love with a mortal once, very long ago.

He'd had eyes brighter than moonlight, absorbing and reflecting the state of the world with an inquisitive attitude matched only by his recklessness.
They were greener than the forests Katsuki has seen come and go through the eons, and they were more expressive than a volcanic eruption that could level cities.

That mortal is gone now, buried and decomposed and returned to the earth, but Katsuki lives on.
He's an old god, and mortals die and rebirth with every steady breath he breathes into his lungs, so there is nothing he can do /but/ live on.

So Katsuki does, biding time until the world changes once or twice over… until another mortal springs into the tiny world.
Katsuki missed the young years of the mortal, as he often does. It takes time to parse through the cities and the towns while looking through the eyes of the cosmos, and time is nothing to a god.
But with eyes of starlight green and skin dotted with freckles like seeds tilled in soil, the man looks exactly like his love. Each speckled mark is worth a century of the time that Katsuki has waited for him to come back.
Yes. He /looks/ exactly like his love— /is/ his mortal love— but just as it has been many times before, he has no memories left of Katsuki.
Reincarnation is of the soul but not of the mind, after all. Katsuki is no longer wounded so deeply by the thought of being unknown by someone so precious to him.
Instead, just as he does each time his mortal comes back to him, Katsuki simply graces the mortal realm with his presence once more. & just as they have each time Katsuki comes back: times have changed, & waiting for his lover has left his appearance shifted. Katsuki has to adapt
His hair has grown long, thick at the roots and thinner at the tips. It settles well across his shoulders, mingling with the hair prickling from his jaw.
The beard is long too, but Katsuki only trims it short instead of shaving it smooth. It will just grow back again, between one blink and the next.
He ties the hair itself back in a loose braid which dots down his back like a second spine. Like that, it fits easier beneath the helmet he wears more often than not, which matches the bike he's adopted as his chariot and steed.
Where there were once cobblestone roads and horse-drawn carriages (and before that: dirt paths trampled only by animal hooves and raindrops), the world has been paved in blacktop.
The roads are both smooth and bumpy, though his bike can handle it all when he rides it down the dead empty highway as fast as he can go.
It leaves him feeling detached, drifting like the shark and the shrimp beneath the sea who are far enough below the waves that they lie undisturbed by humanity. Katsuki would be the same as them, alone in the vast expanse of nothing, if not for his mortal love.
There is a diner, nestled in a crook of land by a long stretch of highway that hides away his only worldly desire. Out front of it is a neon sign that flickers in a way that /must/ be purposefully, else the wiring is held together with chewed gum and a prayer.
Katsuki's boots strike heavy on linoleum as he enters, announcing him louder than the jingle of the bell as the diner door swings open.
He doesn't need to look around to find what he's looking for. His mortal is front and center, with emerald-green hair that curls at the ends, and a soft look that belies the age of his soul.
And Izuku looks up from the table he's mid-wiping down, breath hitching in his chest as he takes in the newcomer.

There's a flicker of recognition in Izuku's eyes when their sights meet, a spark trying to catch on kindling and ignite,
but he can't quite light it yet. The flicker dies, and Izuku turns back to his task with only half of a second glance.

The old god is determined to make his Deku remember.
(That night, Izuku goes to bed and dreams of strong, familiar arms embracing him in a different life.)

There's a mysterious biker who has caught Izuku's attention from the very first day he'd arrived in the diner, fresh off of the only highway in the small town Izuku was born to.
Izuku has been alone for as long as he can remember. Almost every day of his life had felt like a muted dream, and he was made to walk through it with sticky mud and thick honey on his heels.
His mother had died early in his life, though she loved him fiercely every day she had been with him before that.

She'd died peacefully, aided by Izuku's gentle touch as he wiped sweat from her brow. That was all Izuku could have asked for, in the end.
Even then, those memories were hard to recall. No matter if they were happy or sad, they were… faded. Locked behind a bleary glass door, and the key Izuku had was nothing but rust.
His doctors assure him it's just depression. It isn't easy to get over the death of the only person in your life, after all.
Izuku didn't know how to tell them that it felt as though he was /waiting/ for something, for all those many years. That his heart felt like it was missing a piece right in the middle, and had been missing it right before he'd been born.
The biker comes by only during Izuku's evening shifts, never a moment sooner or later.

Izuku knows, in the back of his mind, that he should be worried at how much interest the stranger shows in him. He could be dangerous— /must/ be by the haunted look in his eye.
But Izuku has never felt safer than the moments when his biker's eyes watch his back, desperate and longing and resigned all at once.
He's not sure if he's ready, but he feels like just holding the biker's hand can answer the questions that have leaked across his brain, brought forward by the dreams that have been haunting him lately. Ever since the stranger first showed up.
Slowly but surely, they start to talk.

Simple things first. Small talk that seems to have hidden meaning that Izuku can't parse.
"What's your name?" Izuku had asked.

The biker had looked at him over a plain white mug of plain black coffee, and his eyes had crinkled in the corner as he smirked. "You tell me."
Still, Izuku is remarkably drawn to the man, and every word from his mouth leaves him longing to know more. He wants to figure out why his biker is always quiet and alone, and why he watches Izuku like he's known him for a lifetime and more.
Izuku wants to know why he dreams of him at night, and why those blood-red eyes both haunt and bless each dream. Why is it that the sticky claws gripping at his heels seem to loosen when Katsuki is around, and it feels like he can finally /live/ again?

(Katsuki wants nothing more than to make Izuku remember, but Izuku has to make the first move as the mortal.

He has to want it, and act on that desire first.

But Katsuki thinks he could wait.
What're a few weeks to centuries of waiting for his love to return?

Just like everything, it'll pass in a breath and a blink.)

Into the second month of the biker— of Katsuki— hanging out at the diner, Izuku has become quite familiar with the man.
He knows his order, of course: simple coffee and a water (bottled, poured in a mug and topped with ice). Never any food, though Izuku's shift lasts from evening to 2 a.m.
Izuku knows that he's travelled the world (though sometimes, it feels as though he's gone beyond that if it were possible; he has such wisdom behind his eyes), and that his motorcycle is a new addition to his life.
Izuku knows that he only stays after closing to make sure Izuku makes it to the bus stop safe.

But beyond that, he's still too shy to ask for Katsuki's time outside of the diner.
He lets himself feel satisfied with the brief goodbyes they share by streetlight before Katsuki turns and rides towards the highway.
Yet, the universe seems to fix that issue for him when he clocks out of his shift one day, still two months into their relationship, and the blonde nonchalantly offers Izuku a ride home.
He'd never done so before.

Had only watched with a sharp expression as Izuku waved goodbye as he boarded his scheduled bus before he disappeared into the night with the howl of motorcycle tire on asphalt.
Izuku is, of course, flustered by the sudden offer. His longing for more must have been too loud, or maybe the biker was bored of the monotony of their interactions, day in and out.

He tries to decline it even as something in him calls him foolish for the instinctive action.
But Katsuki graces him with one of his rare smiles, reserved for when Izuku goes off on accidental tangents about everything and nothing, or for the quiet moments between the lull of customer service when it's just Izuku and Katsuki and the universe in the sky.
It's more than enough for Izuku to backtrack and accept the offer after all.

Face still red, he takes the helmet held out to him and mounts the bike, awkward as he hovers two inches too far from Katsuki's form in front of him.
His body heat still reaches him from that far back, coating his bones down to the marrow.

Katsuki pulls him closer. He helpfully guides Izuku's arms around his waist, careful in the way his fingers circle Izuku's wrists, covered in long sleeves to stave off the night's chill.
The dark-haired mortal blubbers, burying his face against the biker's leather-clad back. Katsuki smells of petroleum gas and ozone and old forest, though Izuku isn't sure how he knows what the last two smell like.
Katsuki laughs and tells him to hold on tight.

Izuku doesn't catch the blonde muttering under his breath about how he wouldn't want to lose Izuku again, being reckless.
When the motorcycle rumbles to life, it's like a beastly roar. Izuku had not really been on one before, but he'd watched Katsuki ride off every night.
It seems different this time, as he feels the vibrations tremble through his skin & urge him ever so closer to his strange biker man.

When they take off, the wind is loud.
But when he buries his head close to Katsuki's back, digging the curve of the helmet against the curve of Katsuki's shoulder, he can almost hear Katsuki breathe anyway.
Steady, in and out. Slower than Izuku would have expected. He breathes in as if he has all the time in the universe to breathe out again.
Izuku doesn't quite feel the biting cold of the night either, not like how he would have thought it would be when riding on a motorcycle. For some reason, with Katsuki so close, he's never felt so warm and safe in his life.
The longer they maintain contact— the longer Izuku keeps his arms wrapped around Katsuki's middle and holds him tight— the more Izuku slowly starts to remember sensations and feelings from what he's now sure is a past life.
(Katsuki, ethereal and shining like stardust.)

(Katsuki, covered in blood and sweat and wrapped in victory.)

(Katsuki, holding Izuku close.)
The wind cuts across them as they hurtle down the highway. They're getting closer to their destination, and Izuku doesn't want the ride to end.

But what is a mortal to the flow of time?
He pauses at his own thought (/it meant something before, the flow of time. a punishment. a promise./) and gets distracted enough that, when he comes to, they're already at his house. In the blink of an eye.
If holding Katsuki was safety and warmth, then the realization that Izuku has to let go and leave is like being buried in slush and sheets of ice.

Izuku sighs, but gets off of the bike anyway. His legs wobble, though they hadn't been on the road for longer than ten minutes.
Katsuki watches him, helmet already off and eyes darkened with shadows that do little to hide the intensity of his gaze.

While removing his own helmet and passing it onto Katsuki, their bare fingers touch.
More memories flood into Izuku's head like the sudden rumble of thunder in a summer rainstorm, and he feels like he's been shot with lightning, right at the tips of his finger where he brushed across Katsuki's bare skin.
Izuku starts sobbing as he falls to his knees, overwhelmed by more visions, more memories of-

- the feeling of the wind whipping past him as they fall through the sky.
Katsuki is laughing as they plummet to the earth, and Izuku isn't afraid because he knows that Katsuki wouldn't let him get hurt. It was fun, to watch how the ground gets closer until Katsuki's arms wrap across his back and they float back up through the sky to do it again.
- a wedding, or two, or three, and each one being the happiest day of his life. Swathed in soft chiffon around the shoulders and the back, wrapped in heat and love as Katsuki looks at him as if he's the beginning and the end of everything.
- his own weathered fingers, pressed to Katsuki's cheek as he surveys the smooth, unmarred skin compared to the wrinkles that adorn Izuku's. Katsuki pressing that hand closer, kissing it at the palm and swearing to find him again.
His knees buckle, but before he can truly fall, Katsuki catches him in his arms. He holds Izuku close to his chest while the dark-haired man continues to cry, grappling for purchase against Katsuki's smooth jacket.
Izuku whispers, "Kacchan," and looks up into Katsuki's eyes.

Those eyes of red that haunt his dreams even when Izuku doesn't remember, dazzling like the tail of a comet across the sky.
Gentle, like the first rays of sunlight across a newly budding sprout. Patient, like the rocks at the base of a mountain that wait to join the ones at the very top.

How could he ever forget? His Katsuki.
The old god begins to cry, too, as he holds Izuku tighter. At last, in between this moment's breath and the next, Izuku is his once more.

"My Deku, you've returned to me."

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