It was like a bullet had been shot through him and a thousand light switches flicked off to welcome the darkness of a large room he couldn't find his way through. With that life-changing realization that he was a terrible person that should've been obvious for so many years, Katsuki could only manage to fall to his knees and hold her in a hug that she accepted as she spewed weak apologies for the next hour once she realized all the things she told him. He didn't say anything back, but he wanted to tell her that she didn't have to apologize. She was right to say all the things she said, and she was right to say that he was a terrible kid no matter how much each word stung. Because he was all of those things she described him to be.

With every problem presented, change is always in order to solve the problem. So he changed.

He wasn't the same after he stepped outside the Midoriya household, and nothing ever looked as vibrant and saturated as it used to be when Izuku was still here. An unfixable crack ran over the goosebumps of his skin, washed out his soul until it was aggressively silenced, and split his heart into two clean halves.

Throughout the rest of the school year at his junior high, he never lived the same as much as he himself wasn't the same. He'd go to visit Inko Midoriya daily, making sure she was alright and tried to provide her as much as he could when Izuku couldn't. While their relationship started off rocky for obvious reasons, they eventually came to bond under the same pain. He could even admit later on in the year that he was much closer to her than he was to his own mother, spending the night on the living room couch and staying awake by her side so she wouldn't be alone through her tears.

One day during the summer, she walked into the living room where he was studying with a wobbly and weak smile that he could tell was healing, and he couldn't believe his ears when he heard what she had told him on her way to the kitchen to make a meal for the both of them.

"Thank you for being here for us all the time, Katsuki. You're like a second son to me, and I'm sure if Izuku were here, he would have forgiven you."

He tried to smile genuinely because he thought that was nice of her to think of him, but it only came out as mourning as hers was. He thought that she shouldn't think of a monster as one of her own. He knew as well that Izuku would've forgiven him, but he wasn't here to tell him that it was okay and that Katsuki himself could tell him that he was sorry.

The change was evident even to him after a while. At home, he was silent whenever his mother would demand him to do something, and he never raised his voice at anything no matter how much it agitated him on the inside. Instead of training like he normally would almost every hour of free time he had, he would numbly lay in bed until he couldn't handle how loud his thoughts were. It continued as he blasted through the entrance exams of U.A., and he didn't feel a single drop of pride course through his veins.

At school, it was the same way. He'd sit normally instead of raising his legs to prop them on the desk, and he never insulted anyone. People would give him a polite smile in class, and he always used to feel so enraged once he'd register that the happy expressions were directed towards him. The first thought that would always come to his normally active mind would always be the idea that they were mocking him, and he'd open his mouth to yell or snap something he'd never regret saying. But now, that thought would always be replaced with the image of a smile that had freckles dotted over each end, and he'd hesitate. Then he would clamp his mouth shut and keep going every time.

When his class had been attacked by villains, when a purple-haired idiot and many other students taunted their classroom before the U.A. sports festival, or when he had won first place of the tournament without a word, he couldn't feel a spark of life within him. Optimistic people like Eijiro Kirishima and Denki Kaminari would sidle up beside him during class and laugh about things he couldn't find any humor in, he wouldn't provide any input to the conversations nor would he laugh. They would always say that his quirk was cool, but he couldn't bring himself to feel the same at all. He was lethargic in behavior, dragged his feet through the hallways, he always tried to sit alone during lunch but would be subdued by his classmates, and he always responded with silence no matter what they told or asked him.

They reminded him a lot of Izuku in some ways he couldn't describe, so he tried to avoid them as much as he could. But that didn't end up mattering when he sluggishly walked down to principal Nezu's office a little bit into the school year and firmly tossed a resignation letter reluctantly signed by his mother on the desk. He wouldn't have to ever see them again, nor did he have the guts to say goodbye, because he never said anything about transferring to a civilian high school. He never said anything about stepping down as a student from the most prestigious hero school in Japan because he had unwavering regrets plaguing him every night. They weren't really friends with him because he never talked back anyway.

He didn't want to be number one anymore.

How could he ever be a hero when the amount of strength he could muster in thousands of battles would never wash away a single piece of pain? He wasn't fit to be a hero with the way he was and the things he did. He's always been told that he had the power for a hero because heroes always win no matter what. But heroes would never laugh at someone to their face and tell them to jump off the school rooftop. Heroes would never look somebody in the eye, green eyes big and pure, and tell them to die. Heroes would never kill somebody, but he did just that.

However, the thought of Inko immediately washed away any resolve he had about quitting the whole hero gig altogether, and he paused for a moment after Nezu's words of reasoning before silently taking it off his desk and shoving in into his hoodie on the way out. Every time he thought about abandoning the idea of being a pro hero, he always thought about the Midoriyas. Inko couldn't get to see her son grow up to be the number one pro hero he's always told her he wanted to be, and Izuku couldn't live out his life just a little longer to be what he always wanted to be because of him, so he'd just have to carry on his dream for both mother and son.

He was no Izuku Midoriya, and he didn't have green hair or green eyes, but he'd damn well carry on the legacy he violently ended. He would be number one for the sake of Izuku.

Katsuki Bakugou never apologized for many things in his life.

But he was so, so sorry.

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