A/N: So, uh, this is a story. I don't even know if anything like this exists in the crossover category, but this came into my head and I figured I would share what was in my head. My head, alas, has already played out the full story, in a way, so I'm not sure if I'll get to dedicatedly writing this, but I liked the first segment of what I had. Hopefully you guys do too.

It's kind of different from what I envisioned, except for the first scene, but that's usually how it goes when I overthink a story before actually putting it into words. For any of you following A Kitten In A World Of Heroes, that's basically what happened recently; I overplanned way too much in my head and know what's gonna happen but got too much stuck on one route that actually writing it hasn't happened yet. I've gotten a bit stuck. My best word progress was thinking of a funny quote:

"Writer's block is like having constipation. The more effort you put in, the less it wants to come out."

Which might not be as funny to you as it was to me.

Anyway, on to the actual story!


Summary: Bakugo Katsuki had planned to be the number one hero. To fly up so high that none of the extras would even dare to touch him. Instead, he fell from the sky, down down down – until he reached the ocean.


Failing To Fly
Chapter One:
Ace,
OR,
Bakugo Falls A Lot But Mostly Asleep


Katsuki fell from the sky.

"... the hell," his mouth moved, but the wind snatched the words away so that they were soundless past the wordless roaring in his ears. His face felt tight, his clothing snatching and whipping around at him, and as he plummeted he saw a dark, endless blue beneath him.

His eyes widened, and he struggled against the wind to extend a gauntleted hand beneath him – fuck, explode, and a bead of sweat contacted his palm and with a bright red flash sent him careening sideways, but it wasn't enough, because the wind still held him and he was falling – falling –

Another explosion. He was in control. The rushing wind stopped and he hovered, descending slowly, panting, wondering what the hell had happened.

It took him until he nearly touched the water to realize that the endless blue beneath him was the ocean.

After that, it took him only moments to pivot around and realize there was no land in sight.

Swearing unsteadily midair, eyes wide and confused, he looked around and realized that he had to make a decision, and quickly. He set off towards the setting sun, flying across the ocean surface, nearly skimming the water as he propelled himself forward in large explosive leaps and bounds.

Fuck, he thought, remembering the shimmering air that he had stepped into. What the hell happened?

It was like he had blinked – and then –

His distraction made him fly low, and his leg got caught in the water. He grimaced, and resolved to fly higher. He couldn't get wet. If he fell, he knew, he'd never be able to get out again, and he'd have to swim.

A teleportation quirk? He had been at the training camp, when that distortion had first appeared. He had thought it was just a heat haze, sneering at the other students' hesitation, when he had stepped inside –

Surely, he had to be somewhere near to the coast, where he could easily make his way back –

His thoughts skittered and fritz as the sun burned in his face and flecks of frothy water touched his skin and his worry grew.

An hour later of this, he found himself tiring. The sun was hot even as it touched the sea, and his arms ached under the pressure of an hour of constant explosions. He had had to discard his gauntlets, the nitroglycerin stores empty and not filling up fast enough to justify the weight. His throat felt parched. And there was still no land in sight.

By this point, his worry morphed into mindless terror, as he realized he might never see land again.

Hours more passed. Night fell, his guide west disappearing. Katsuki's free hands hurt beyond an ache now; they blistered in a bone-deep pain. But, frantic, no other thought on his mind than survival, he kept going. Time became meaningless then; the world passed in a haze of sameness and a desperation to live.

When he first spotted it, he thought it was a mirage. A dead spot where the reflections of the moon against waves didn't reach. As he drew closer, heard sounds of sand rustling rather than the relentless roar of the ocean and wind, an indescribable relief and exhaustion slammed into him, and he found himself sputtering lower, and lower, until he felt his body, numb, colliding into something hard and he went forward and down and every which direction until the world went senseless.

His lids felt heavy and thick, and his mouth filled with seawater.

So…

He reached out a hand, to where the sound of the sand had been.

Close…

He thought.

And just before everything went dark –

A flash of red, like his explosions, blooming in the night sky. A figure, a voice, grabbing at his arms –

Then darkness.

.

His throat felt impossibly dry.

"Water…" he croaked, fumbly around for his bedside table, where he always kept a cup. Instead, his hand slammed onto hard cold stone, coming away cased in a thin layer of sand and direct. His eyes feeling impossibly bleary, his arms screaming in a senseless agony after his fumbling motion, he groaned and tried to figure out where he was.

He remembered ocean.

A never-ending ocean, the world becoming one blur as time never ended, encasing himself in pain and blind desperation.

Not knowing where he was, what had happened, and persisting forward because he needed to survive.

"Here," a voice said, and there was pressure against his lips, and sweet cold water trickled in. He greedily sucked it in, but after only a few sips, the stranger tipped it back and the sweet relief was gone.

Still, he felt better. The small sips had returned the barest thread of rationality to him. He now remembered landing, and being rescued.

"Thanks," he said gruffly, hoarsely, before trying to crack open his eyes. They felt crested, like Katsuki had been sick and hadn't opened his eyes in days, but he succeeded in tearing apart the lids, to reveal a flickering fire, a dark cave, and a figure ahead of him. It was all blurry.

"Don't mention it," the voice said, sounding suprisingly friendly. "'Saw you fall. Here, have another." The figure moved closer, a flask in hand, tilting it towards Katsuki's mouth, and again he accepted it, now with more caution, wishing that he could grab the bottle himself rather than feeling like a fucking invalid.

"Who – " he licked his lips to wet them once the bottle receded again, but it didn't help, his tongue was still so dry, and so he settled for clearing his throat, "wh-who are you?"

He hated the stutter, but his vocal cords weren't quite right, yet.

"Ah, I'm Ace," the man said. Katsuki could see him more clearly now, the fire lighting up his freckled face and lopsided grin. "Nice to meet you!" He bowed his head, and it made the large orange hat on his head bounce and rattle.

Katsuki wiped at his mouth and returned the nod. "Bakugo," he said shortly.

He closed his eyes again, leaning his head back against the hard stone. He still felt so damned tired. Without intending it, he found himself spiraling again, thinking how nice it would be to sleep just a little bit more –

"Oi, wait, kid – " came Ace's alarmed voice.

But he was already gone, back into deep, dreamless blackness.

.

When Katsuki woke up next, the cave was empty and though his eyelids still felt crusty and dry and his arms sorer than they ever were, he was able to pull himself up and onto his feet. The fire was put out, and daylight stretched into the cave.

Stumblingly, holding on to the side of the wall, he slowly made his way outside. Once there, he found himself stopping, blinking as he let his eyes adjust to the light and new sights.

As expected, the ocean stretched out before him. He stared out at it for a long moment, gaze hard, before he finally looked around to nearer features – the sandy desert the cave resided on, the many withered trees and small shrubs that were perched upon it like an ancient forest that had run dry. Tasting the sharp scent of salt in his mouth and noticing the distinct lack of civilization – no smoke stacks in sight – Katsuki sighed.

It was better than being in the middle of the ocean, he thought. But he still had no idea where he was. Worse, a gnawing feeling was making itself known in his stomach.

He turned his gaze to the horizon, up the coast, and saw a distant figure walking there, a pack slung over its shoulder. He narrowed his eyes, and by the orange hat, was quickly able to identify his rescuer. Ace, he had called himself. For some reason, he was shirtless.

Was he a hero, or just some beach bum that had found him? he wondered, staring across the beach. "Ace" could be a hero name – the clothing the man did have was bombastic enough to match. But would a hero be out here, in the middle of what looked like nowhere? Just some ocean and a piece of desert.

Where the hell am I? he thought again, grumblingly, but he still didn't have enough energy to pay too much attention to the thought.

"Yo," Ace's voice called in greeting across the beach, waving a hand loudly at Katsuki in the air. He looked cheery.

Katsuki stared at him for a long moment, before raising his own hand to return the greeting. After another moment of thought, he began walking towards the stranger, stumblingly at first, then more confidently as he regained his strength.

"Hey," he said, when he was finally face-to-face with the stranger. His eyes landed on the green backpack the man had slung over his back; it was bulging. Had he gone to a town for supplies?

"Hey yourself," he said, smiling at him. "I see that you're up on your feet." He shuffled, and the man looked him up and down for a moment. "Actually came to check up on you. I was about to head out," the man jerked his thumb backwards, and Katsuki saw a strange yellow motor-boat with a sail out in the distance. "You okay if I leave?"

Katuski shook his head, somewhat dismayed by the rapid turn of events. Somehow, he had expected the guy to at least stick around to bring him to a hospital or payphone or something.

"No," he said shortly, trying to draw himself straighter, project confidence despite the weariness that leaded his bones and the confusion that clouded his mind. "Where the hell am I?"

Ace blinked at him, obviously taken somewhat by surprise, before the expression smoothed over and he shrugged.

"The island's name is Alabasta," he said, "A city called Nanohana's back the way I came," he pointed his finger, "if you just keep heading along the beach." He looked Katsuki up and down again and quirked an eyebrow. "You know, you're not quite what I expected."

Katsuki, offput by the strange statement, blinked and frowned, losing some of his posturing.

"Huh? What are you talking about?" Despite himself, he found himself looking down at himself, to his bedraggled hero clothing, wrinkled and crusty, though it had dried. Without his gauntlets, it was just flashy and somewhat fireproof – though, luckily, he still had his kneecaps to bash in faces if he needed it.

"You're kind of young," Ace said, tapping his chin. "Flashy clothes like that, I'd have pegged you as a first mate or captain or something. You sure you'll be okay out there? I saw some pretty strong marines in town."

Katsuki stared at him.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he asked, unable to decipher anything from the long sentences of garbage the other man had just said.

Ace returned the stare, eyebrows furrowing as he ran his eyes up and down Bakugo's costume once again.

"Hmm, well, this might be an awkward question to ask," Ace said, scratching at his cheek and drawling out the words. "But you are a pirate, right?"

Katsuki's eyes popped. This had been the last thing he was expecting to hear.

"What!?" he sputtered. "Hell no! I'm a – " he waved his hands towards his costume, to indicate his other befusion, "I'm a goddamn hero student. What the hell? A pirate?"

The other man blinked, then took a step back, raising his hands in the air in front of him placatingly.

"Ah, got it, got it, sorry. Guess you probably don't want any help from me then." He grinned sheepishly, resting one hand now on his hat, ducking away. "Guess I'd better go then." And he turned fully, abruptly moving very fast in the direction of his boat.

"Huh?" It was like they were speaking two different fucking languages, and Katsuki was behind to feel real irritated at not understanding what was going on. "No – fuck, wait – " Katsuki ran after the surprisingly-fast figure, using his explosions to rocket towards the man. Finally, he was able to clasp the man's shoulder, who looked back at him with a surprised look. They were only a few feet away from his boat.

"Fuck," Katsuki cursed. "Just tell me what the hell is going on. Marines? Pirates? Why the 'hell did you run?"

"Ah, well – " Ace still grinned sheepishly. "I figured you didn't like pirates."

Katuski stared at him again, then examined the purple-white tattoo on the man's back again, particularly noticing the skull-and-crossbones figure.

"You're shitting me," he said incredulously, finally. "You're a pirate?"

He was starting to feel too hungry for this fucking nonsense.

Ace seemed to grow a cocky demeanor, and he pushed back the tip of his hat with one finger and a grin, somehow shrugging off Katsuki's hand in the same motion.

"Fire Fist Ace, Second Division commander of the Whitebeard Pirates." He met Katsuki's eyes and the grin grew more lopsided. "Nice to meet ch'ya."

"Nice to…" Katsuki began distantly replying, before his eyes flung right wide open. "The hell!?" He shook his head to clear it; nothing about this guy made any goddamn sense. A cosplayer, he decided quickly. He must be a freaking loony cosplayer.

He was getting too hungry to think now, but a nagging voice whispered to him again that he didn't know where he was, that he was likely very very far from home – he didn't know where that portal had taken him. A budding worry grew in him that he didn't want to admit.

Maybe he was in fucking Somalia or something and this man was telling the truth.

Do pirates save people who fell from the sky? he wondered.

Fucking ridiculous, he realized a moment later.

"You can't be a freaking pirate," Katsuki decided finally, uncomfortably, crossing his arms to cover his uncertainty. He looked at the man with no small amount of perplexion, and the man raised his eyebrows questioningly back at him. Katsuki then asked the next important question, "Why the hell did you save me? I'm pretty sure you ain't a hero, either."

The man shrugged.

"Felt it was the right thing to do." He paused awkwardly, then said, "Well, kid, it was nice knowing ya, but I gotta – "

"Wait," Katsuki said, and more frustration leaked out of his voice than intended. He remembered flying across that endless ocean, tantalizing land just ahead of him, before a bright red bit the sky. "I don't know what the hell is going on. Can you at least show me to town, or a fucking phone? I just…" Alarmingly, some tears sprung to his eyes, the weight of the day and that endless nothing pressing down on him. "I just want to fucking go home."

And sleep. And eat. That sounded real nice to Katsuki in that moment.

Ace, too, looked alarmed, seeing Katsuki's expression, and he held up his hands in the air.

"Woah, kid," he said, while Katsuki hurried to wipe away at the shameful liquid. "Sure, yeah, I can do that, but don't think you'll get any better reception with me there with you." He paused, then peaked at Katsuki curiously. "I really am a pirate, you know."

Katsuki stared at him emptily for a long moment.

"Sure, whatever," Katsuki muttered finally, not sure what to believe.

.

He really was in fucking Somalia.

Ace had taken him to town. There, the people shied away from the congenial man, gave him second glances and whispered, especially when they saw his tattoos. Worse, everyone was dressed in hijab and desert gear and the buildings were all different and low and dusty and washed-out and it became very clear that he was no longer in Japan.

Yet they all still spoke Japanese. Weirdest fucking corner of Somalia he'd ever see.

What really cemented it for him, however, was when he saw two men very-obviously dressed as pirates with a hip sword, purple turbans, and bandannas and the like, shuffle across town and get accosted by two men in white caps and a blue-symbol like an anchor on their backs. Ace had then whispered "Marines" and pulled him around the corner to stay out of sight.

"What the hell," Katsuki had said numbly. Why were the villains pirates, here of all things? And more importantly – "How the hell do I get back to Tokyo from here?"

Ace had given him a strange look at that, but kept quiet.

There would be no airport from here, that was clear from the low-tech ships in the harbor, not even equipped with motors. He didn't know who to contact for help in this town. The "marines" seemed to be the law enforcement – but Ace, who had rescued him, had looked unusually wary of them and had even warned Katsuki against them. Not a single hero had shown up during that battle. And nobody was using their quirks.

The facts, combined together, were filling Katsuki with a bad feeling. The nagging voice grew stronger, saying that he might have landed very far from home, much further than he had originally thought.

Fucking Somalia. Could he really be that far? It didn't make any fucking sense. Maybe he was head-stoked from being in the sun all yesterday.

Katsuki asked finally to go back to the cave, and after a moment of quiet thought, Ace agreed. They made their way back, dodging through shifty and narrow streets, and Katsuki only felt relief when the desert town was behind them.

When they were back, Ace stoked the fire back to life, set out a meal from his pack, and watched Katsuki curiously. For his part, Katsuki hungrily wolfed down the food, feeling that his ability to think had much improved after eating.

"Where are you from?" Ace asked finally, watching him, a drum stick of meat in his own hands.

Katsuki wiped at his mouth before answering.

"From Tokyo, in Japan," he said.

"Never heard of it." Then, almost idly, "Is it in the Grand Line?"

That led to a flurry of questions, traded on both sides. Seeing the incomprehension on Ace's face and hearing nonsense terms like "North Blue" and "East Blue", Katsuki at last finally in frustration asked for the man to draw a map of where they were.

The man shrugged, then crouching, took out a stick and drew on the floor. First a lopsided donut shape emerged, and he told Katsuki that was the planet, to which Katsuki nodded. Then he drew two curved lines across it, like the Prime Meridian and Equator, except slanted, and then called them the Red Line and Grand Line.

Katsuki had to frown at that, but nodded, still looking at the "map" intently.

Then the man pointed his stick to the top area and said, "So that's the North Blue," he shifted his stick to the right, "the East Blue", to the bottom, "the South Blue," then to the left, "and the West Blue." He then dragged his stick across the middle, where he had previously marked the "Grand Line". "And we're here, on the Grand Line."

At some point during the explanation, Katsuki's jaw had actually dropped open.

After a moment, he had to clamp it shut and shake his head at the utter toddler-like simplicity of the map before him and the obviously uneducated state of the man before him.

"No," he said, taking the stick, frowning, "It's like this."

He drew his own donut-shaped planet, this time drawing the equator and prime meridian at the correct orientation. He told Ace the correct nomenclature, and the man raised his eyebrows at Katsuki's lecturely tone. Then Katsuki pointedly marked the top crossing of the prime meridian and the equator and said, "And this is North, so your 'North Blue' isn't even fucking North. It's the wrong direction." He sighed, then, realizing the effort would almost be futile, scribbled the continents on the dirt map quickly and circled Japan. "And this," he said, pointing with the stick, "is where I need to get back to."

Ace scrutinized his map with an open curiosity, looking back and forth between Katsuki's obviously superior one and his own.

"You know, kid," he said at last. "I've never seen a map as screwed up as yours before."

Katsuki choked, then turned on the other man with a scowl.

"The hell, it's your map that's all wrong – "

But the man raised a single placating hand towards him, before leveling his dark eyes seriously on Katsuki.

"What happened?" he asked finally. "How did you get to Alabasta?"

And so Katsuki told the story, reluctantly and bitingly, of how he had stepped into a strange haze in the air while in a training camp for school, landed up falling from the sky, and flown over the ocean using his quirk for the entire day, until he landed here and Ace had saved him.

"Huh, must be nice," Ace said, almost wistfully, after he had finished. "Living such a normal life."

Katsuki watched him sharply, but bit back a comment.

Ace shook his head, then said almost wonderingly, "So you really are a normal kid, huh." He looked contemplative. "Haven't met many of those. Say, how'd you get a Devil's Fruit?"

"A what?"

"Nevermind." A pause. "What's your home like?"

Katsuki eyed him with suspicion at first, but figuring there was no harm in telling him info that could help him get home, he began talking.

He first talked about his quirk, how it had made him popular at school and how it would lead him forward to become a great hero. Then he talked about UA, about All Might, and about Deku. He talked about his home, the Sports Festival, how he had won.

At some point, Ace brought out more food and drinks. Katsuki had been surprised when he tipped the first mug back to find a sour taste at his tongue, and had spat it all out, wide-eyed at the thought of his record being broken, before Ace laughed at him and clapped him on the back. The way the man said it was so obvious it was his first drink made his face burn, and thinking – well, he was far from home after all, that no one would ever have to know – and just a bit curious – he tipped back the drink to feel a sudden warmth buzz in his chest despite the acrid taste in his mouth and he swallowed it all down.

Ace laughed again and Katsuki saw that he was drinking too, and somehow it was nice, sitting in this empty wild, by an ocean, a desert behind them, a cracking fire, someone new who didn't know him or who he was in this fresh breeze and abruptly he felt free, floating, like he was flying, as the night wore on he got dizzier and dizzier, more and more comfortable where he was, feeling as if nothing could go wrong – he felt the power of his explosions in his fist – he grinned as he cracked a joke, head woozy –

"Woah, woah, kid, I think you've had enough – "

Then he didn't remember much more after that, only a looseness, an opening, and a sense of giving in, defeat, relaxing into slumber.

.

He felt… bewildered.

He didn't know where he was. Everything was groggy and dark. He felt out of place, irrevocably detached, overhauled. He didn't know where he fit into things suddenly, he didn't have anything to fight against, he was floating above an ocean, moving, fighting, surviving, drowning –

He had thought to go West, because West would be the closest to a coast if he was nearby Japan's coast. But he hadn't been. West had taken him – West had taken him –

Alabasta.

He blinked awake, and found a snoring man splayed across the cavern floor next to him. It was dark. He blinked again, feeling woozy, then careened to his feet.

He had drunk alcohol. In a strange land. With a stranger.

Huh, was all that went through Katsuki's mind at first.

Then he blinked again, looked at the stranger, and thought what the hell.

He thought about his options. He didn't want to go to the town, but thought he might have to, face whatever anarchy reigned there in order to get more information.

He felt all loose, distracted, not right.

I am Bakugo Katsuki, and I'm going to become the number one hero, he thought, but as he blinked and looked around in the dark, hearing the constant wash of the ocean waves, the statement somehow seemed quite detached from reality.

Huh, he thought again.

He just didn't know what to do in the face of this emptiness, this confusion. He had known when he had been hanging over the ocean – he had needed to move, survive, but now he was left drifting, confused, everything that was familiar to him somehow distant and unreachable.

He looked around him, blankly, saw the cave walls, the ocean in the distance with glittering specks of moonlight. He wondered where the heroes were, where the enemies were, where his school was and where the fight lay.

Then, not knowing quite what else to do, thoughts still thick and hazy, he clambered back down onto the cavern floor, pulled his head over his forearm, and tried to get some more winks of sleep.