The complete shitstorm began one drab Wednesday afternoon. An algebra exam on exponential expressions was coming up, and while the material came easily enough for Katsuki, the same could not be said for a certain shitty redhead. A certain persistent shitty redhead, who had the absolute worst pouty-face and the tendency to use flattery to get what he wanted, whether the guy realized it or not. And that's how Katsuki had inexplicably found himself roped into yet another tutoring session with Kirishima Eijirou.
"Nope, nope, stop," Katsuki pointed at the worksheet, jabbing the equation impatiently a couple of times with his finger. "See, that exponent's negative."
"Ri-ight..." Kirishima paused. He tapped the end of his pencil to his mouth, and it didn't help when he did shit like that because it was really fucking distracting. "Uhh, what does that do again?"
"You need to flip the fraction in the parenthesis."
"Okay, yes, I knew that. Just making sure."
The past hour or so had been like this. To be fair, the whole situation could have been a lot more unbearable. Tutoring Kirishima wasn't the worst thing Katsuki could do with his time, and it wasn't like Kirishima was an idiot. The guy had the basics premise down, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy figuring things out. It was math that was the problem, and when all the steps were combined together, Kirishima would get overwhelmed. Then he'd start second guessing himself, looking lost and confused because he'd have no idea where to start.
It was whenever that started happening that Katsuki found himself wanting to bang his head against a wall.
The redhead's pencil scratched against the paper, his eyebrows furrowed deep in thought, sharp teeth gnawing at his bottom lip, and for a fleeting moment, Katsuki wondered how he wasn't breaking skin. There he worked, writing furiously, the occasional eraser shavings flying this way and that.
After about a minute, Kirishima set his pencil down and lifted his head, his mouth breaking into a sheepish grin, almost apologetic. "I think I did alright on this one?" The way his voice went up at the end told of his uncertainty. He slid the worksheet over to Katsuki. "There are just so many little rules to remember and I always end up confusing myself."
"If you're bad at math, then you just gotta work your ass off even more to get it down." He snatched the paper, eyes skimming over the chicken-scratch. "This is right, by the way."
"Oh thank God," Kirishima heaved a sigh and leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head. "It's like what Crimson Riot said. Perseverance leads to victory!"
"It fucking better," Katsuki mumbled under his breath, because at this point, he wasn't so sure.
"I should have started coming to you way earlier, you're super smart about this type of stuff!" Kirishima turned to him, beaming, and there was a pattering in Katsuki's chest, that annoying one that he always happened to notice every time Kirishima smiled. "But seriously, bro, you're a lifesaver. I've been really stressing."
"You don't fucking say," Katsuki snorted, again under his breath.
'Stressing' was the goddamn understatement of the century. Kirishima had practically dogeza-ed right there in the dorm common space, begging for his help. And even now, Katsuki wasn't sure what had compelled him to say yes. Wasn't sure what always compelled him to say yes, every single fucking time Kirishima asked for tutoring. Maybe it was just how goddamn persistent the guy was, and at this point, Katsuki had resigned himself to this fate.
"Think I can get the next one right by myself?"
And there it was again. He was so damn persistent, and determined, about everything, even when trying meant he would probably fail. And maybe Katsuki was starting to admire that about him.
So he shrugged. "You can certainly try."
Immediately, Kirishima set off to work, his pencil scribbling frantically across the worksheet, writing in numbers, and scratching out mistakes. Occasionally, when he had to think about what to do next, Kirishima would tilt his head to the side, bring the pencil to tap against his temple, the tip of his tongue sticking out like he was so deep in thought that he had forgotten about it.
Meanwhile, Katsuki waited, as patiently as he could.
Finally, Kirishima held up the paper with a triumphant "Done!" He slammed the worksheet down in front of Katsuki, his grin spreading from ear to ear, teeth practically sparkling. "How's this?"
Katsuki glanced over the equation. It was actually one of the more difficult ones, with a lot of steps and rules to consider, and for a split second, he was impressed that Kirishima would choose this one to work on alone.
"Fucking, give me a second," Katsuki murmured. He worked out the problem to the side in pen, just in case, and to his complete and utter satisfaction… it was actually correct. As if the past hour and a half hadn't been a complete waste of time.
And in that moment, pride overtook him. Kirishima had listened to him. He had learned, done it all on his own, and it didn't even matter how long it had taken for them to get to this point because the result was just so goddamn satisfying.
Katsuki looked up to Kirishima, who was carefully watching him, practically bouncing in his seat like a little kid.
He rolled his eyes. "Fucking took you long enough, ya moron."
Kirishima let out a loud cheer, hands in the air, pencil flying, a look on his face of pure triumph. He turned to Katsuki with a smile on his lips, eyes twinkling. And if Katsuki had to pick the turning point, the fulcrum, the exact moment where everything started going to shit, this would be it.
Katsuki knew what was about to happen. He could see it unfold before his very eyes, practically in slow-motion, like some sort of intuition, and his dumb ass still didn't bother to think of getting out of the way until it was too late. Kirishima had leaned forward and wrapped him up in a big hug.
Now, Katsuki fucking hated it when Kirishima pulled shit like this. He hated physical contact in general, from anyone, but with Kirishima it was about ten times worse because something about it made Katsuki feel like he had been missing out on that sort of thing his entire life. Like he had been ignoring starvation for so long that his body was soaking it in, absolutely relishing it, his heart ramming too quickly in his chest, cheeks heating up, palms sweating, and he didn't understand why. Maybe that's what he hated the most about it.
"Oi, you fucker—"
"Yes! Yes, I did it! I actually got it, thank you, Bakugou!" Kirishima practically squealed, his celebratory shouts drowning out all protests from the blond, his arms winding tighter around him, and Katsuki felt like his lungs were going to collapse in on themselves, "There's no way I'm gonna fail this test now! I'll do you proud, just you see!"
"Yes, right, good, whatever," he wheezed, grabbing onto Kirishima's forearm with smoking hands, "Now get the fuck off of me."
"Right, sorry, sorry," Kirishima pulled away before Katsuki could bring out the pyrotechnics. He plopped back in his chair, spinning it around in celebration, "But, god that felt good! Ya know?"
In a way, Katsuki did know, because in that moment, he felt something too, something other than pride. He had felt it a few times already, here and there, on and off, but it was still jarring no matter how many times it had happened before. It was like he was suddenly hyper aware of his own heartbeat, and his breathing, and the way his stomach was tightening, twisting into knots, fluttering. Usually, he ignored the feeling, pushed it to the back of his mind, because it didn't matter. And it normally wasn't too difficult a thing to do.
Except that Kirishima was just so fucking happy. And for some goddamn reason, that made Katsuki really fucking happy as well.
His insides started churning, his heart like it wanted to shrivel up on itself.
He wanted Kirishima to be happy like this. All the time.
The feelings, they were too much, everything was too much, they made his head foggy, skin clammy, his chest squeezing so tightly by his pounding heart, his ribcage like it was being stuffed with cotton, and Katsuki thought he was going to suffocate. He grasped at his chest, taking in a slow, steady breath. A breath that stung his airways all the way down to his lungs.
"Hey…?" Kirishima piped up, but it was like his voice wasn't in focus. It sounded all fuzzy around the edges. "You look kinda pale, are you okay? Bro?"
And then, all at once, those feelings in his chest became stronger, amplified in a way he had never felt before. There was a stinging in his heart and in his lungs and everywhere else, his insides like they were physically contorting. A cough started, deep in his throat, his diaphragm lurching so much with each contraction that he felt like he was actually going to be sick.
He bolted to Kirishima's bathroom, nearly tripping over his own two feet, barely managing to close the door behind him before hunching over the toilet. And it was like he needed to cough, or needed to be sick, all at the same time. His eyes were shut so tight that he could see waves of white, and he was hacking his lungs out so much that his throat felt like it was raw, as bile and god knows what else was forced out of his mouth.
And then, the coughing subsided. He wiped away the tears that had stung the corners of his eyes, sat back on his heels, taking the few seconds he needed to gasp air back into his lungs. Exhaling a shaky breath, he ran his hands down his face before glancing into the toilet basin.
He froze in wide-eyed horror.
There were petals. Like actual, literal flower petals, just floating in the water.
"What the fuck?"
There was a soft knock on the door. "Hey, dude, are you ok? Do you need water or something?"
The door handle twisted, and before Katsuki could even think, he flushed toilet. Because whatever the fuck that was, was not something that Kirishima needed to see. Or anyone else, for that matter.
As the door opened, Katsuki stood up, wiping his mouth, his voice coming out hoarse. "I'm… I'm fine." His legs were shaking. And when his eyes landed on Kirishima, he almost felt like he was going to be sick all over again. But he forced it down.
Kirishima gave him a once-over, his brow creased in concern, as if he couldn't decide how to be the most helpful. "Do you need me to take you to the Recovery Girl? I don't think she's left for the night yet—"
"No." It came out more forceful than he had intended, but Katsuki could not think straight, his head was still spinning. Why did he feel so dizzy? Why was his chest in pain? What the fuck were those petals? "No, I must have just, fucking, eaten something that was bad. I'm fine now." He cleared his throat. "I swear, they're feeding us poison at this school."
Kirishima laughed at that, but it was a little forced. The guy was still worried. "Yeah, well I trust the Lunch Hero, so maybe you've been snacking on something in your room that's expired?"
Katsuki grunted, neither in denial or agreement. He pushed past Kirishima and made his way back to the desk. "Let's get back to work. Ya gotta show me your correct answer wasn't a fluke or something."
Kirishima trailed behind him, his concern seemingly already forgotten. "Yessir!"
Well, whatever it was, it seemed to have passed. But as he and Kirishima studied, and as his heart continued to flutter and his lungs continued to squeeze, Katsuki couldn't shake the unsettling feeling that something was really fucking wrong.
The second time it happened was during school break the next day. The teachers were switching classrooms, so everyone was eating snacks, socializing, being complete and utter fucking nuisances. Meanwhile, Katsuki had just been minding his own damn business, listening to his ear-buds so he didn't have to make eye contact with anyone. The usual.
There was a burst of laughter from his right. He turned sharply to the culprits – the pink girl must have just cracked a joke, and great, now half the goddamn class was having a jolly fucking time. But above all the others' laughs stood out one, so obnoxious and so loud that he could make it out over his music. Katsuki glared at the offending redhead, whose laugh was so strong that he was practically doubling over on himself from the sheer force of it. But, it was lively, hearty, all dimples and teeth – just an all-around genuine, strong laugh, and for a split second, Katsuki found himself wondering what he could do to make Kirishima laugh like that.
It wasn't as powerful this time, just starting as a tickle in the back of his throat, the slight floral scent in his nose, so slight that he didn't even notice it at first. But it quickly escalated, and next thing Katsuki knew, his heart felt like it was pressing in on itself, tightening, restricting its own beating, a cough rumbling from his chest, shit, not this again.
Katsuki hid his mouth into his inner elbow as he hacked into it, the beginnings of the petals already starting to escape. He wrenching himself from his seat, practically skidding across the room, not caring whose eyes trailed curiously after him. He burst into the hallway, barely missing a collision with Present Mic as he bolted to the bathroom and promptly coughed up in the nearest stall.
Sure enough, there were petals. Not as many as the first time, but the sight was still really fucking disturbing, and Katsuki couldn't help but stare for what was probably far longer than necessary. They were large, a deep red, rose petals. Honestly, what the fuck was even happening? He stood to his feet, wiping at his mouth with his sleeve, leaning against the stall wall until his head stopped swimming.
It was probably just the side effect of some shitty quirk. Like that girl from Class 1-B or something. Katsuki wasn't certain of the details, but he was pretty sure her quirk had something to do with plants. He couldn't remember. Couldn't be bothered to remember. If it was a quirk, it would probably just wear off on its own anyways.
The next time it happened was right before that afternoon's training.
They were supposed to be doing 3v3 battles in some alleyway setting, but Katsuki didn't even make it that far.
Most everyone had put on their costumes and were congregated in the gym area, stretching, warming up for the upcoming fights. Katsuki had just wrapped up his standing routine and had taken a seat on the floor, legs stretched in front of him at a ninety-degree-angle. He bent at the waist, arms stretched in front of him, meeting his left knee with his nose, exhale.
Just then, the door to the boy's locker room opened, and out came the tape guy and Kirishima. Kirishima, with his fucking stupid shoulder gear things, and his face mask that honestly looked a bit painful, and his weird skirt cape that had literally no purpose whatsoever. The guy was fucking ridiculous. And Kirishima's eyes scanned the gym mats in front of him, surveying his stretching classmates, his eyes making contact with Katsuki's. The redhead smiled, beamed, gave a little wave. He left Tape Guy's side, walking as if to sit next to him.
This time, Katsuki could sense it coming a mile away. He could feel his heart rate pick up, could feel his lungs aching already, as if they knew that they would soon be in need of air. He could feel the tingling, stinging, tickling feeling in his throat that always triggered a cough. But just because he knew it was coming didn't make it any better.
The last thing Katsuki wanted to do was bring attention to himself when he was in this state. As he stood and more or less rushed his way back to the locker rooms, he tried his best to be discrete. Tried his best to ignore how Kirishima's voice called after him, filled with concern. But once the door closed behind him, Katsuki sprinted to the bathroom.
And as he kneeled, coughing over the toilet once again, hand on his abdomen, breath coming in uneven, shaky gasps, head spinning so much that he felt like he could faint, the thought occurred that he should probably see the nurse. Katsuki couldn't afford to waste time on shit like this. He was supposed to be learning how to kick villain's asses, not dealing with this absolute fuckery. But, on the other hand, if word got out that he was coughing up rose petals, and that it was getting in the way of his training, who knows how the UA faculty would treat him? If it was starting to affect his respiratory system, they might force him to lighten up on physical activity until the effects wore off. He couldn't allow himself to fall behind like that.
Katsuki flushed the toilet. Then, he listened carefully to his surroundings – not a sound. He let out a shaky sigh of relief. Seems he was alone after all. It was better that way, with no one there to look down on him at him all worried, no one to tell Eraserhead that he had just been coughing up in a bathroom stall. He just needed to get back out there, start the training exercise, and hope that this would all just go away.
If it really was just someone's stupid quirk, the effect would have to wear off eventually. He could work it out by himself, no need to get anyone involved. But – and his stomach sank at the thought – the last thing he wanted was for the coughing to get worse.
In that moment, as Katsuki exited the stall, he made a decision: if whatever this bullshit was, was still happening by the time the weekend rolled around, then maybe it would be in his best interest to get it checked out.
What this all boiled down to was a waiting game. If waiting was all it could take to fix the problem, then it was something that Katsuki was willing to put up with. He just hoped it would all stop sooner than later. He was fucking sick of the taste of flowers.
That same afternoon during the training exercise, it happened again. And again, when he was returning to the dorm common space after dinner. Another time that Friday morning when he woke up. Then scattered throughout the day, during a break, at lunchtime, even once during a class, making Aizawa ask him if he needed to go to Recovery Girl. But he hadn't waited long enough yet, so with ears burning in embarrassment, Katsuki had refused.
Sure enough, later that evening, Katsuki was mentally kicking himself for not agreeing to see the nurse when he had the chance, because now she was off campus for the weekend while he was coughing up petals into a toilet for the ninth time that day.
Needless to say, it hadn't stopped. If anything, it was getting worse, just based on sheer number of incidences alone.
And then it was Saturday morning, birds chirping, the young sunlight gently flitting through the window, and Katsuki was kneeling over his toilet, hacking from his lungs, petals falling from his lips. And it hurt. His throat was raw, his diaphragm ached, his eyes stung, and there was this nagging in his brain, making him come to a conclusion that he had been avoiding for most of the week.
Quirk effects usually don't last this long. This was something new. He couldn't keep ignoring it.
Finally, when it felt like the coughing fit was subsiding, he grabbed his phone. His thumb hovered over the screen for just a moment, hesitating. But Katsuki wasn't an idiot. Sure, he didn't like help when he didn't need it, but he was smart enough to know when he did need help, and he definitely needed help now. So he gave in, unlocked the phone. Called the one person he could think of to call.
He counted the rings, until finally there was a click followed by a sleepy voice on the other end. "Mmh? What's up, kiddo?"
"I feel like shit."
His mother sighed. "Katsuki, it's six in the morning—"
"No, I'm serious, I—" Katsuki had just barely managed getting his phone out of the way in time for him to kneel over the toilet, another wave of petals forcing their way from his lungs and out his mouth. He hacked and coughed, cheeks burning, the insides of his ribcage like they were contorting, until it finally relented. "Fuck. I think I'm really sick."
There were whispers on the other end – Katsuki could make out deeper voice, 'maybe the flu?', and fucking great, now his dad was getting involved. When his mom's voice came back on the line, she sounded a lot more alert. "Are you throwing up? Do you have a fever?"
"It's not the goddamn flu, it's…"
He peered down at the bowl, with water and floating petals, roses, deep red. How could he explain something like that? And over the phone? His lungs still burned, his breaths raspy.
"It's complete bullshit is what it is," he finally managed to gasp out, bringing a hand to wipe at his singing eyes.
"Do you need me to take you to a doctor?"
A doctor's visit was the last thing Katsuki wanted. But his egotistical need to work through his problems by himself was kinda being shat on by his profound need to know what the fuck was going on. What else was he supposed to do?
"Yeah," is all he mumbled.
Of all people, his mom would know what degree of severity it takes to get Katsuki to accept help. Her voice turned grave. "I'm getting out of bed now. Be ready in 20 minutes. I'll deal with the school."
"Ma'am, your son has developed a condition called Hanahaki Disorder."
It was bullshit. All of it.
Trees and cars and buildings flew by, and his eyes trailed after them all. Even still, he could feel his rage boiling inside of him. They pulled up to a stop light, and he heard his mother sigh, which always happened right before she opened her goddamn mouth, and frankly Katsuki didn't want to hear a single word of what she had to say.
For a few seconds, her finger just tapped the steering wheel in time with the turn signal. She took one more breath.
"You caused quite a scene back there, kiddo."
Katsuki clenched his jaw and kept quiet, waiting for them to start driving again. At least when they were moving, the whizzing scenery was a distraction.
"Seriously. Firing off your quirk, threatening the doctor, in a ward full of extremely vulnerable people? Not a smart move, you're lucky they didn't sedate you or something."
When they picked up speed, he tried to read each road sign as they passed, count to ten forwards and backwards, anything to occupy his mind. Usually he didn't bother with those fucking stupid anger management techniques, but his previous outburst had made him face his mother's wrath once that day, and he was too fucking exhausted to deal with it a second time.
"Katsuki…" his mom tried again when he didn't answer, because that's exactly the type of insufferable woman that she is. "Look, I know it's weird, and maybe even scary, and uncomfortable—"
"Uncomfortable? What gave you that idea?" He snapped. His heart rammed in his chest, his anger seethed. "Is it the fact that I cough up fucking flowers, all the fucking time, like it's a fucking thing to do? Is that what gave it away?" He turned back to the window, shook his head. "You don't know shit, so stop acting like you do."
"Watch the sass, punk, I'm being empathetic here."
That didn't even warrant a reply, so he just tched.
His mother sighed again, as if she wanted to say something else. As if every silence was some fucking invitation for her to share her shit opinion. Her grip on the steering wheel tightened. Then, her voice turned quiet.
"Do you know who it is?"
Katsuki didn't know how to respond at first. He just blinked. Then, he turned sharply toward her, eyes raging with fire. "Excuse me?"
"You heard what the doctor said, Katsuki."
Yeah, unfortunately. As if he would believe any of that horse shit. He couldn't stop the growl that built in his throat.
"He's a professional."
"That don't mean jack shit."
His mom laughed at that. "Listen, ya brat, I'd take his medical advice over yours any day. Just because you don't like his answer—"
"He literally doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about."
"Oh really? Cause it sounds to me like you're the one who's clueless, and if you'd just pay attention to your own feelings for once, then you'd really be doing yourself a huge favor here."
"He doesn't know me, and neither do you, so fucking drop it."
"Holy hell, kid," she huffed, shaking her head in disbelief, her eyes set on the road ahead. "Sometimes talking with you feels like banging a head against a wall, ya know? For one, I know you're stubborn – god do I know it. And if you're perfectly happy with sealing yourself off from the rest of the world, not confronting the root of the problem, and living the rest of your life barfing up flowers every time you so much as get butterflies in your stomach, then by all means, be my fucking guest."
"Oh, fuck off."
"But I am your mother, Katsuki." With that, she turned to look at him, for just a moment, her eyes intense. She turned away. "I'd say between the three of us, I've got you figured out the most. And believe it or not, as your mother, I want you to get better. And so does Dr. Yamakawa, it's his fucking job. Why can't you seem to get that?" She raised an eyebrow, her lip upturning slightly. "Too stubborn?"
This was not a battle worth fighting, so "whatever" was all Katsuki grumbled before glaring back out the window.
The atmosphere became still, the only sound the rumble of the car motor and the occasional shifting of gears.
"Well, maybe when you figure out who it is, you can hang out with them more? Give yourself some opportunities?"
Rage, pure rage was boiling in him. "No, we are not having that fucking conversation."
"Oh yes we are," his mom responded snappily. "You gotta face your emotions at some point, kiddo. Don't be arrogant, the doctor even told you the only thing that can cause the disorder."
He couldn't forget the doctor's words even if he tried. They echoed around in his head, lingering there.
He screwed his eyes shut, bringing his hands to cover his ears. "Shut up! Shut up, I'm not—"
'A person who is susceptible to developing Hanahaki Disorder is someone who experiences a deep love—'
"—I'm not, fucking, in love, or whatever—"
His stomach lurched.
An image flashed through his mind – a cheery face, a glistening smile, bright eyes. Shitty hair.
His insides were fluttering, chest hurting, his lungs aching from pressure, and he was coughing again, hacking deep in his rib cage, enough to sting the back of his throat and make his diaphragm throb from the exertion. And there was a floral scent in his nose, a disgusting taste in his mouth, and two damp petals fell into his lap.
His fist slammed against the dashboard. "I said shut up!" he gasped between breaths. He buried is face in his hands, hoping to hide any of the stinging tears that might be hanging from the edge of his waterlines. "Just shut up."
The car parked – were they finally home? – and there was a hand on his back, rubbing gentle circles as he wheezed out a few labored breaths.
There they sat for the several moments that Katsuki needed to recover. His mother just patted his back, whispering soft words that he couldn't even make out under her breath, but something about the faint sound was comforting. It reminded him of when he was a kid, sick with a cold, or crying because he had hurt himself, and as much as he hated to admit it even in his own mind, it really did help. It lulled him into a calm trance, just like it always had.
After a few minutes, his mother took her hand away and passed him a tissue. "Your medicine will be at the pharmacy by Sunday afternoon," she finally spoke. "Until then, you're staying at home for the weekend. Okay?"
Katsuki nodded. He was numb.
"And – hey, look up at me, okay?" His mom brought her fingers under his chin, lifting his head. She saw his face, all red and blotchy, and she didn't laugh. She never laughed at him when he looked like this. "If you ever need to talk about things, like how you feel, or anything else that's bothering you, your dad and I will stay right here, at home for you. We're gonna help you get through this. Okay?"
He set his jaw and said nothing.
"Alright, kiddo, let's get lunch made," his mom ruffled his hair before opening her car door and stepping out. "You chop the veggies, if we hurry, it'll be ready by the time Dad gets back from his photo-shoot."
If Katsuki needed to find a good distraction from this absolute hellweek, cooking was definitely it. Whenever he had a tantrum as a child, his parents would ask for his help preparing dinner, and he usually calmed down. Ever since then, cooking had a sort of lethargic effect on him. Chopping things up, it was relaxing, and at this point, his muscles could go through the motions without much thought.
"You almost done with the cabbage?"
Katsuki hummed, bringing the knife down a few more times before handing the cutting board to his mom, who scraped the strips of veggies into the pan so they could join the chicken. She handed back the board, motioning absentmindedly to a few carrots on the counter, which he set to work on.
There were heavy footsteps approaching the back door, and then his dad strolled in, the door slamming behind him. "Hey, I'm back."
Both Katsuki and his mom mumbled an obligatory 'Welcome home'.
His dad let out a relieved sigh, surveying the domestic scene in front of him as he toed out of his shoes. He stepped into the kitchen and looked over Mom's shoulder, placing a hand on her hip. "Smells good."
Katsuki wanted to hurl, for real this time. Seriously, he was standing right there, and he had eyes and everything.
"So what's the diagnosis?" Dad walked past Katsuki on his way to the kitchen table, ruffling his hair as he did. Katsuki's grip on his knife tightened, just a bit. "You dying already? Although if it's the flu, I advise you to step away from the food."
His mom turned, pointing her spatula at Katsuki's dad with a hand on her hip. "Your son is barfing up flowers."
"He's…?" His dad trailed off, blinking in surprise. "Well, that doesn't sound like the flu at all."
"No shit," Katsuki muttered under his breath. He handed his mom the cutting board again so she could add the carrot, and then he started on the onion.
"I mean I knew it probably wasn't the flu since you wanted to wait for me to get home to talk about it, but what?"
His mom stirred the pan a few times, poking her spoon at the cabbage as it wilted. "Doctor called it the Hanahaki disease or something. Apparently it's pretty rare. Says it's nothing too serious though, as long as it is treated. He sent me a bunch of websites about it, blogs and stuff, we can look through it all tonight when the brat's in bed."
"I'm literally standing right here, you assholes."
"But, flowers?" His dad ignored Katsuki's comment, instead glancing over to him, his eyebrows set low. "Do you mean that literally? Or, more… I don't know, metaphorically?"
Maybe it was because they were talking about his condition, reminding him about it, because Katsuki felt the signs that meant it was about to happen again. It was the way his heartbeat sped up, the burn in his lungs. That's how it always started, followed by a tickle at the back of his throat. He braced one hand against the counter, coughing harshly a couple times into his inner elbow. A single petal this time.
"Nope, no sir," his mom hissed, whacking at Katsuki with a kitchen towel. "You fucker, what did I tell you about roses near the food?"
"Oh for fuck's sake—"
"I'm serious, think of the germs!" She pressed an entire roll of paper towels into his chest, waving her other hand as if to shoo him off. "Just leave the rest to me, it's almost done anyways."
"I'm not a fucking invalid, sheesh, woman—"
"Table! Sit. Now."
Katsuki stuck the knife in the cutting board and groaned, rolling his eyes, sulking to the trashcan where he disposed of the used towel, and then dragging his feet to the kitchen table to plop down as ungracefully as he could. As soon as Dad was done placing dishes, he joined him.
"So. Uh. You were not kidding." His dad's face actually looked a little pale. He stared at Katsuki like he had just sprouted a new head or something, which was definitely not appreciated. "You're literally coughing up rose petals."
"Oh I know, it sounds like complete bullshit," Mom called out over her shoulder as she stirred in the noodles to the pan. "If it was the effect of some quirk, then maybe it would be a little easier to swallow, but an actual medical condition? But he's been doing it all morning. You saw it yourself just now."
"Please tell me there's a cure."
"Dr. Yamakawa said, usually if it's left untreated, it can lead to a whole slew of other health problems, so we can't just hope that it will sort itself out. Thank god there's medicine available." She clicked the stovetop off and brought the pan to the table, setting it on a potholder and taking a seat. "The condition is pretty uncommon, so the pills have to be specially ordered, shipped all the way from India."
Katsuki took a small portion of noodles, but honestly he wasn't very hungry. Wasn't sure how much he could stomach. He hated talking about all of this.
If his dad's expression was anything to go by, he was having a hard time grasping it, too. He was all wide-eyed and scrunched eyebrows, with a confused lopsided frown. "How long will treatment take?"
"About a week for the medication to stop the symptoms, and until that happens, he needs minimal physical exertion. Which, I know you're not gonna want to do," Katsuki's mom turned to him, and it was ridiculous how she was chiding him for something he hadn't even done yet. "But we don't want you suffocating on your own flower petals out there, so until the meds kick in, lighten up on the training would ya?"
Katsuki let out a growl, glaring daggers into her. "I can fucking handle myself."
She just gave him a look, an eyebrow arched, clearly unconvinced. Katsuki broke eye contact. He was tired of looking at that patronizing bullshit.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Mom turn back to her food. "After the meds, it's monthly check-ups, and the rest is really just gonna depend on him. It's not like he can have a surgery and the problem's over. It might just take time – he's got to learn how to get over himself."
"Oi, fuck off—"
"Get over what?" His dad cut in, his need for answers making him overlook the dangerous tone in Katsuki's voice. "How does something like this even happen?"
His mom froze at that. She looked up to Dad, then over to Katsuki. Then back at Dad again. Like she thought they were about to tread on a field of landmines and was trying to calculate the safest path. Finally, she let out a sigh. "Well, the doctor said it's because—"
"He's fucking wrong, I already told you—" But before Katsuki could fight back, his words faltered. There was that burning again. And the squeezing, and the twisting.
"No, nope, not while we're trying to eat," His mom pointed frantically towards the stairwell. "Deal with that in your room."
And Katsuki didn't have the strength of will to protest, his coughing fits were embarrassing enough as they were. He grabbed the paper towels with one hand, the other coving his mouth, and he bolted to the stairs, taking them two at a time. By the time he reached the top landing, there were two petals in his hand. And it was so disgusting, so frustrating. He hated it.
But Katsuki wasn't an idiot. There was no reason he couldn't have just gone into the tatami room, or the office, which meant that his mom wanted him as far away as possible so they could talk about him. No way in hell he wasn't gonna listen to what they had to say. So he barreled his way to his room, making his feet stop as loud as possible. At the last second, he slammed his bedroom door in front of him before turning around and tiptoeing back to the top of the stairs.
He couldn't hear anything at first, so he slid his way down a couple of steps, trying to keep his weight distributed evenly so nothing would creak, just like he had done when he was a nosey kid. Finally, he could start to make out his mom's voice.
"…the face he makes whenever it's about to happen. See it. Learn it. Know it well. Have tissues ready. Be prepared to steer him to the closest toilet."
His dad said something very low and deeply perplexed, but Katsuki couldn't quite hear what was being said. Then there was a very distinct "But seriously, how does that even happen?"
"That's another unbelievable thing. Literally no one can figure out how it's possible. Not doctors, not researchers, not biologists." There was the clanking of dishes, maybe they were clearing off the table already. His mom's voice turned thoughtful, if not a bit hesitant, "But the doctor did say something, it's what made Katsuki have that outburst at the hospital."
Oh no, not this shit again.
But no matter how much he didn't want to hear this nonsense again, his mom's voice carried quite clearly up the stairwell. "He said the only way the disorder can develop is if a person experiences a deep, unrequited love."
Katsuki rested his face in his palms, groaning. Willing the ache that was building in his chest to fucking go away.
"… Love? You can't be serious, our Katsuki? And, we're just supposed to believe that?"
Yeah, his dad knew what the fuck was up. He knew how completely bullshit it all was.
"Well, what else can we believe?" His mom's voice had turned shrill, almost desperate. "For all we know, he could be like, madly smitten over someone, and he doesn't even realize it because, well, you know how he is. He's so… so emotionally…"
And Katsuki wanted to burn the whole house down right then and there. If his parents were gonna spew shit out of their mouths like that, they might as well say it to his fucking face.
"But the thing is…" There was a pause, and his mother's voice turned even quieter, to the point where he could barely make out her words. "I think it's true."
He could feel his jaw grit, his teeth grinding together.
"But who… who would he even—?"
"It would have to be someone who means a lot to him, right? And you know how he is, so there can't be too many people who fit that bill. Well, I've had a few hours to think it through, and…" Her voice paused. It turned even lower still. "You know the kid that Katsuki tutors sometimes? The cute little redhead?"
There was a heartbeat. Then two. Then more, thumping, faster and faster.
"Remember, Katsuki picked him to be on his team in the Cavalry Battle."
He brought a hand to grasp at his chest, where there was a fire in his lungs, in his heart, the flames clenching and unclenching, squirming, writhing.
"And, according to UA faculty and the police reports, he's the kid that coordinated his rescue from the villains."
Then there was the tickling in the back of his throat, like he had swallowed water down the wrong pipe, but it was growing, sickening perfume filling his airways, he couldn't even breathe.
No, no, no.
His dad's voice was next. "Are you sure?"
No. She's fucking wrong.
There was one last, pounding heartbeat, as time slowed to a crawl.
"Kirishima Eijirou." Her voice rang out, loud and clear. "It's definitely him."
And then his mind was filled with red hair and sharp teeth and a glistening smile, the sound of his laughter, so beautiful that he wanted to listen to it forever, and it wouldn't go away. It consumed him, all of him, his entire body, worse than it ever had before – the butterflies in his stomach going wild, his heart trying to beat out of its cage, his lungs burning for air, and it hurt. It hurt, so much he doubled over, his eyes stinging so badly he could cry, and he couldn't hold back the coughing any longer. He let out a hack, his throat already scratching in pain.
The voices in the kitchen immediately went quiet.
He stood up as best as he could on wobbly legs, his coughing threatening to throw him off balance. Not caring anymore about making sound, he clambered his way up the top three steps until he was safe on the landing.
"Katsuki-?" A voice called after him.
Fuck, fuck, goddammit…
The petals piled up, one by one with every cough and hurl, into his mouth and into his hand, overflowing, falling everywhere. He bolted to his room, leaving a trail in his wake, slamming the door behind him.
He tore his hand from his mouth, gasping for air, as a mass of petals plummeted to the floor, flitting every which way. He watched them with disgust, trampling them with a few angry stomps of his foot.
Fuck this. Fuck all of this.
He let out a yell, turning to his wall and kicking at it in frustration. Not enough to damage it, just enough to hurt, to ease out even just a fraction of his rage. Then he did it again, because there wasn't anything else he could do. Next was his fist, his quirk, knocking against the wall, each blow followed by a bellow, a snarl, over and over until it felt like his muscles were too tense to continue and his brain was too numb to even care anymore.
He let out a shaky gasp, turning his back to the wall, leaning against it, sliding to the floor. He glanced at the petals that had fluttered to the ground around him with disinterest.
He was not in love with Shitty Hair Kirishima.
His arm reached out dazedly, his fingers picked up a petal. His eyes studied it.
He wasn't in love. He wasn't.
The roses said otherwise.