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From the Dark

Chapter Text

It was a whisper.
A dream he imagined. A dream that ran through cycles, that drifted further with every imagining. Fading with every passing glance.
Promise.

 

Bakugou woke with a startle. A jump. Bones bit by muscles that ached to move. To react. To do…
…something.
This was the problem:
Reoccurring dreams.
Or—more accurately—dream.
The same one, over and over.
It hit like lightning, like a tornado forming. All he could see was clouds funneling, turning purple. Then, the next thing he knew, he’d be in the dream. Reliving it. Re-watching it.
A memory.
That’s what it really was.
He knew it, and whoever else was in the dream knew it, too. When he had the dream, it wasn’t a dream. It was a moment. A place and a time with a real person. It was something he’d forgotten. Something important. A promise made a long time ago, to someone whose face was a blur. Whose voice seemed to funnel his ears out with every syllable.
All he could hear were his own words. His response.
Promise.
A vow. An oath. Words Katsuki was meant to keep.
Words that escaped him, even now.
It always ended that way though. With him reaching out, trying to grab whatever those words were. Trying to grab them so he could make them solid. So he could remember.
What had he promised?
And to who?
“Babe, you okay?”
The soft concern brought him out of his coiled bundle. All the nerves accumulated from the dream smoothing out, all at once.
“Yeah,” he grumbled, still groggy.
But, then again, he nearly always was.
Even before the kidnapping, Bakugou has always needed a lot of sleep. In his own opinion, the PTSD made it worse.
A whole lot worse.
Not that Ochako minded.
In fact, their third date had been a nap-date. Completely her suggestion, though Bakugou in no way protested. Even now that they were married, it was still one of his favorite ways to spend time with his wife.
Comfort.
Rest.
Trust.
Warmth.
Nap dates with his wife were the best. They encapsulated everything he’d ever wanted from a significant other. And she participated magnificently.
Damn.
She was perfect.
Still staring at the ceiling, Bakugou reached over and grabbed her. Dragging her closer, he held her to his chest a moment. Relieved at her being so close. Relishing the fact that he could simply reach over and touch her.
That, in and of itself, was a dream come true.
Even though he couldn’t see her face, he could feel her question. It lingered in the air.
So he answered her. It was the least he could do.
“Just a dream,” he told her.
Another excellent thing about his wife:
She was smart.
Smart as hell.
Without needing more, she caught on.
“That dream, huh. Did you get anything new from it this time?”
She wasn’t pushing him, which was good. Katsuki wasn’t much for sharing, and she understood that perfectly. It was why they had always gotten along. Ochako respected that he needed his thoughts to himself. That his heart wasn’t an open book. That his plans didn’t pencil everyone in. She understood that, and she accepted it. Respected it. Which was important, especially when he was having moments like this.
In moments like this, she was clever. Smart.
Perfect.
Her tone was conversational. Comforting. Curious, as she curled into his chest, one of her hands rubbing tiny circles over his abs.
So warm…
At this point in their relationship, Bakugou had stopped fighting it. Whenever Ochako started soothing him, he didn’t protest. Didn’t puff up his bravado. Shrug her off or pretend he didn’t like it, or didn’t care for it. Naw. At this point, Bakugou was done with all that.
When Ochako started to soothe him, he didn’t try to stop her.
He ate it up.
It was too good not to.
Not just because she was his smokin’ hot wife—and she sure as hell was, he’d kill anyone who tried to deny her either of those titles—but because it was good. Having someone to rely on. Someone who understood. Someone you could trust.
Someone you could speak freely around.
Someone who’d stick around.
Even when things got hairy, or even when you were so injured you couldn’t walk straight. Someone who’d have your back, even when you were grumpier than a grizzly in December, or even if you were pricklier than a panicked porcupine. Someone who didn’t care that you woke up screaming sometimes, or jerked awake most mornings.
It was nice to have a partner.
Someone to rely on.
Someone you wanted to give your word to. Someone you wanted to keep your word with.
His word…
Bakugou always thought about their wedding day when the dream happened. The vows he’d given Ochako. How he’d promised to be that person for her, even if she stopped wanting him to be. How he’d given himself to her, heart and body and all that other corny shit, on the day he’d said “I do”.
Whenever he had that dream, he always thought about their wedding day. He always thought about their vows.
Always.
Because on that day—the day Bakugou made the most important promise of his life—he’d said “I do”.
He never said “promise”.
Not to Ochako.
So why?
Why was that promise so important?
Why was it important enough to compare it to his wedding vows?
Why was it important enough that he had to dream about it every week?
Why?
Why did it give him so much guilt when he couldn’t answer?
He didn’t know.
….he didn’t know.
“Are you going to be alright?” Ochako asked, still smoothing his insides out with her padded fingers. “Do you need to spar with me before you head off to meet Shima?”
He scoffed. “No. No need.”
“You sure? You know Shima will be curious if you show up grumpy.”
“Yeah, I know, and yeah, I’m sure. And stop calling him ‘Shima’, it’s pissing me off that you have a cute nickname for a guy that isn’t me,” he complained. But only half-heartedly.
He was, in all honesty, glad that his wife and his best friend got along.
It’d be a real pain in his ass otherwise…
As usual though, Ochako saw through his complaint. Saw it for what it was. And she pouted—fake-pouted, to be precise—right back.
“Well, I’d have a cute nickname for you, if you’d just give in and let me call you ‘Kacchan’.”
And, just like it always does, the name tripped him up.
He stuttered.
Good mood shattered.
Without any more discussion, he moved away.
His chest felt heavy as he slid out of bed. As he sat up. Once his feet were on the floor, he felt the weight shift to being carried on his shoulders.
An ache.
An old sore.
Feet on the ground, looking at his slippers, he grumped.
“Don’t call me that. Ever.”
And, just like that, everything she thought she understood about her husband was gone. One minute, he was Katsuki, the man she loved. And the next?
Well…
He didn’t appreciate her pointing it out—since it was one of those cringy middle school things—but, he’d reverted to Lord Explosion Murder.
No longer her husband.
No longer Ground Zero.
No longer Katsuki Bakugou.
He was the kind of guy that shot first and didn’t care for questions. A rabid dog being cornered by a catcher. He wasn’t open and caring and warm and friendly, even now, but he usually wasn’t like this.
He wasn’t like this.
With that one silly, stupid name, he’d turned around. Turned into the guy she’d first met.
And she didn’t get it.
Not at all.
Not in the slightest.
And she wished she did. With everything she had, she wished she understood what made him like that. Why the stupid nickname she’d blurted out in the spur of the moment, so long ago, triggered him like that. Why that stupid joke had carried so much weight for him. Why it mattered so much.
She didn’t understand.
But she would soon.
And, in all honesty, it probably would’ve been better if it had remained a mystery.

Some skeletons are best left in the dark.

Chapter Text

The screaming rose up like a siren. Calling for more. For others. Like wolves howling in the night.
But it didn’t concern him.
Not in the slightest.
In fact, the screaming was a good thing. Screaming meant others were in the know. That people were on the way.
They’d send heroes soon. No doubt about it.
The thought made him giddy.
He hid his smile though. Now wasn’t the time. He had a task to complete.
Lava exploded out from underneath him.
His bare feet were a sight to see. The way they emanated a reddish glow. The way they looked so smooth. The way they stepped easily over the sidewalk.
The way they spilled lava out of their soles.
Ah.
What a relief.
He really rather liked the feeling. The way it made his feet warm, but not too warm. The way it felt like stretching, like unwinding some muscle that he’d been neglecting. The way it felt natural, easy.
Man.
Quirks really were something, weren’t they?
He couldn’t believe how close he’d been to missing out.
More screaming ensued as he walked. As the sidewalk melted away. As light posts and buildings and street signs began collapsing under the heat of his lava. Cars had to stop as their tires melted away, as the black street ran with murky, incinerating red.
It was quite satisfying.
All the red ooze eating up all the manmade garbage.
But still.
It wasn’t enough.
He sighed, running a hand through his hair as he did.
But, just before he could even think of truly despairing, a sound like a canon blast got his attention.
Oh.
Now that was interesting. More than interesting, actually.
This was exactly what he’d wanted.
Looking to the sky, he could see the smoke from the blast. How something was shooting away from it. Rocketing toward him like a bullet. A giant, swearing, blonde haired bullet.
Oh.
This was too good.
In that moment, fate was far too kind to him. That’s what the villain thought as the lava continued to spill out from his feet.
The hero zoomed, nearly passing him. Only stopping because he had caught hold of a street light and swung around it, slowing his momentum. When he stopped, he was hanging off the street sign like a monkey—one arm supporting all his weight—looking down at the lava in horror.
Oh.
This was going to be fun.

Bakugou wasn’t sure what he was seeing.
At first, it seemed like a normal situation. Some asshole villain was half-assedly using their quirk to create chaos. No big deal. Sure, the guy’s feet oozed lava, but that was kind of whatever. Typical in the life of a hero. Things like this just happen.
So he hadn’t thought much of it when he’d rushed off without Uravity and Red Riot. After all, he was the fastest out of the three of them, and this required a pro hero of his caliber. Of their caliber in general, actually, but again: he was the fastest.
So he sped off, blasting himself into the sky. Rushing over the city like a falcon made out of gunpowder.
He’d sped off, without looking at the situation closely. Without really even trying to think this through.
He wished he had.
Now he was hanging haphazardly off a street light, watching the magma eat away bits and pieces of the city. His city. The one he was supposed to be protecting from stupid shit like this.
But there he was, watching the lava.
Hanging off a street lamp.
Shocked to his very core.
It was a wonder he hadn’t lost his grip on the lamp post. That he hadn’t accidentally dropped himself into the lava.
Because this shock was of that level.
Totally.
Looking down, Katsuki noticed the villain first. A black suited man standing in a sea of lava—impossible to miss. A man looking up at Katsuki with just the hint of a smile. With green eyes, as his green hair blew carelessly with the wind. Not that that was a surprise.
Deku’s hair had always been wild.
Hands in his pockets, jacket hanging off his shoulders, Deku looked up at Bakugou.
And he smirked.
Only for a moment, and only a little bit, but it was enough.
After that, his face went back to being pleasantly surprised. Like a cat whose paw was nibbled by a mouse.
Which didn’t make any sense to Bakugou.
After all, Deku was just Deku.
Quirkless.
And yet, there he was, standing in a sea of lava. A sea of lava that clearly originated from the quirkless bastard standing in the middle of the destruction.
It just…
Didn’t add up.
As Bakugou tried to process all that he was seeing, Deku’s smile faded. Barely visible as he began to speak.
“Kacchan, long time no see.”
And even without the lava, or the presence of his old friend, or the sirens or the melting city, Bakugou knew.
This was not good.

Chapter Text

He looked…
Snazzy.
Bakugou can’t remember a time when he’d used that word, but it popped into his head right now. And, he didn’t think he was wrong.
Deku’s suit was snazzy.
If he wasn’t standing in a sea of lava, it might attract some attention.
But, alas.
He was, in fact, standing in a sea of lava.
He was the villain Bakugou was after.
Which didn’t add up.
“DEKU?! I thought you were fuckin’ quirkless!” Bakugou shouted over the sound of the sirens in the distance.
Deku nodded, his smile growing a bit more prominent. “Oh, yeah, I totally was. Completely quirkless. An absolute loser, actually.” He laughed a little at that, as if he thought it was funny.
Bakugou find it unnerving.
Deku sobered in the next instant though.
An unsettling smile settling over his face as his eyes went rigid. “But, obviously, I’m not the same anymore.”
Bakugou couldn’t help it.
Still dangling from the street light, he scoffed.
“Yeah, no shit sherlock. You’re out here wrecking shit. What the hell happened to you wanting to be a hero, huh? I thought you were in love with All Might.”
That, as it turned out, wasn’t the right direction for this conversation.
Dark gaze settling onto Bakugou, Deku snarled. That blunt blade in his gaze turning into something with rigid, hungry teeth.
It made Bakugou’s insides shrivel.
“Yeah, real hero he turned out to be. What a liar.” Deku shook his head, as if he were trying to rid himself of flies. “You’d think the Symbol of Peace would be a little more considerate, but no. Even if it was a lie, he could’ve just comforted me. Just a little. I mean, I’d just lost both of my parents. And what’s he tell me? That I’m quirkless, so I can’t be a hero. I wasn’t worth anything without a quirk.” Deku’s mouth twists wickedly, showing a glint of teeth that certainly weren’t normal. He pressed onward, despite Bakugou’s insides trying to skitter away like a scared rabbit. “It was like being told I was defective!”
Bakugou wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Not really.
He knew that Deku lost his family in the fire that night, that night that was so many years ago. That Deku’s father had come home, gotten sick, and then set the place ablaze on accident. That Deku was rescued from the fire by All Might himself.
After that…
Well, Bakugou didn’t know.
He was young at the time. Very young. He remembers conversations his mother had on the phone—mostly just overhearing her talking in the middle of the night type of stuff, things he didn’t understand the context of. He remembers his mother crying. Visiting the Midoriya’s graves with his mom. Seeing Deku at the funeral, holding a stranger’s hand as he watched his mom and dad get put in the ground.
But that…
That was it.
That was the last time he saw Deku. And, once he was gone, his mother and father didn’t really talk about him.
Once, Bakugou had tried asking her. About a year after it happened, he asked her why he couldn’t play with Deku anymore. Where he’d gone. Why he wasn’t allowed to see his friend anymore.
(Okay, he didn’t ask it like that, but that’s how he felt.)
The moment after he asked, it was silent. And then, his mother shattered the moment, taking him by surprise.
She broke down crying.
His father had taken over then. Encouraging Bakugou to play upstairs or outside or something while his mother wept and his father did his best to comfort her.
And that was the last time he had mentioned Deku.
To anyone.
So, in other words:
Bakugou had missed a lot.
Clearly.
Deku didn’t slow down enough for Bakugou to process though, or to ask questions. Instead, his snarl grew bigger.
And Bakugou knew for sure:
Deku’s teeth weren’t normal.
Not at all.
Not anymore.
A moment ago, they’d just seemed odd. Strange. But they’d definitely changed. In that small moment, Deku changed completely.
Something took him over.
“You know, you’re right. I was practically in love with All Might when I was a kid,” Deku continued, his eyes beginning to glow as his teeth became sharper. “I thought he was everything you could ever want to be. The perfect person. Strong and courageous and heroic. But, after that night, I realized he wasn’t any of that. He was none of that. And I realized that there’s more out there—so much more you could be. That it’s actually really quite easy to be better than All Might.”
“Deku… what are you doing?” Bakugou asked nervously, watching as Deku shifted in front of him.
And shift he did.
His suit started to tear, audible even over the sound of screaming citizens. His feet grew hair, and so did his arms and legs and face. The hair grew, bulging out of his suit. His eyes glowed yellow as he changed.
Bakugou watched as his old friend broke.
As he became a monster.
Deku was about the size of a semi-truck now. Green fur coated his body, only tatters remaining of his suit. Claws, teeth, a giant lion’s head with grooved horns poking out from his mane. Something like scales sat along any point of his body that could be used for attack—his knuckles, the bottoms of his feet, his shoulders—and there were saber-like fangs poking from out of his mouth.
Deku was a monster.
Grinning with his vicious teeth, Deku spoke.
“Master’s going to be mad I ripped another suit. But, it’s all for a good cause,” he said factually, mostly to himself. In the next instant he was focused once again.
He turned his glowing orange eyes onto Bakugou.
“That’s all in the past though. I’ve got power, and I’ve got understanding. And I gain more, every day. I’m snowballing, Kacchan. Getting stronger all the time. And one day, I’ll expose all you monsters for who you really are.”
And now, Bakugou’s stomach really felt it.
Katsuki felt like his intestines were being gouged out. Ripped up. Blended together with all his other insides.
Because this guy before him?
It wasn’t Deku.
Not the one he remembered.
This Deku wasn’t smiling. Wasn’t happy. Wasn’t constantly worrying over everyone’s welfare.
This Deku was vicious.
Monstrous.
This Deku was looking at him like a lion would a gazelle.
Which was fitting.
“You know, I sort of wanted this to last longer. Part of me wishes we didn’t meet until later. Then maybe you’d get to see all the things I can do,” Deku growled, a deep reverberating sound that shook the crumbles of cement that remained. “But, then again, it might be best if you’re the first hero I kill. Kind of fun and ironic, don’t you think? Considering our promise.”
“Promise?”
The word was a trigger. A firecracker. Something lit and then exploding in his head.
“What promise?” he demanded.
But it seemed Izuku was done talking.
Lifting one of his massive half-human, half-lion paws, Deku brought Kacchan down.
And it wasn’t pretty.

Chapter Text

Blasting underneath himself, Bakugou shot upward, away from Izuku’s paw.
Shit, that was close, he thought to himself. Reorienting his mental state atop a building, he watched Izuku swing back around to face him, fangs snarling up at him into a hideous grin.
“Still as fast as ever Kacchan,” he remarked.
And then he struck again.
This time, the lion-beast launched itself at the building. Throwing out a giant fist as he rocketed up through the air.
Ground Zero reacted in an instant.
Blasting off again, he tossed himself high into the air. Doing his best to give himself a moment to think, to process.
What is his quirk?
That was where he needed to start. What kind of quirk made lava come out of your feet, and still turned you into a giant lion beast?
He wasn’t sure.
He wasn’t sure if there was a quirk like that.
And, if there was…
He had no idea. Not right now.
There wasn’t any time to think.
Because once Deku came up empty-handed again—his fist lodging itself in the building, cracking it, creating debris that cascaded down like the shittiest rain—he turned, digging his claws into the building so he could face Ground Zero.
And he breathed fire.
Breathed fire.
Just like his dad could.
Bakugou was almost too startled to react.
Almost.
Being a practiced hero helped a lot in that moment. Even without his mind’s consent, his body seemed to remember that his life was at stake.
Angling away from himself, he let off another blast. Good thing too. He could feel the heat zipping by him—either Deku’s breath was hotter than Endeavor’s pissy attitude, or that was an extremely close call. There was no time to think about it right then though.
Bakugou’s blast shot him away from the fire, yes, but it also shot him toward the ground. He hadn’t meant to do that. But, maybe that was what he needed at the moment. His feet on the ground, finding something sturdy.
To get his bearings.
Bakugou let off a few more blasts, just so that he could land on his feet. And, when he did, he slid across the ground before breaking into a sprint.
“Running away Kacchan? That’s unlike you,” Deku remarked—his voice rumbling down at him like thunder—before leaping again.
As Bakugou blasted himself away from Deku’s fist—again—he shouted.
“I’D FIGHT YOU IF I KNEW WHAT THE FUCK YOU WERE!”
Deku laughed at that, turning and allowing Bakugou a moment to gain his bearings.
“You know what I am Kacchan. You know. I’m just useless. Worthless. Deku, remember? Always have been Deku, always will be,” he reassured, lion’s teeth growing a bit more as he does.
Bakugou didn’t buy it.
But, it didn’t matter.
Because that was when they stopped being alone.
Something came dropping out of the sky, slamming into the ground, cracking the concrete as it landed. A starburst of earth was shattered, its focal point the thing that just dropped into the ground. Honestly, it kind of reminded Bakugou of a comet.
But, of course, it wasn’t a comet.
It was Kirishima.
When the dust settled, Red Riot stood in between Ground Zero and the villain Deku. He was completely decked out—solid all over. Looking like a rock having a bad hair day. He stood in between the two and shouted.
“Stand down villain! The heroes are on their way.”
At that, Deku looked amused. Giant, lion’s tail swishing behind him, much like a cat’s.
“Oh? Well, if you say so.”
And, just like that, Deku shrunk.
Fur receded, his height cut down in feet as he slowly came back down into himself. Almost like his form was collapsing in on itself as he began morphing back into Deku. Turning back into that kid that looked like the one from Katsuki’s childhood. Like the best friend he’d lost hold of so many years ago.
Only, now he was mostly naked.
The suit had been torn, so Deku stood before them in his underwear—which somehow miraculously survived the transition even better than his pants legs had.
Deku stood, nearly naked, looking at Red Riot with that faint smirk on his face, and said, “If you say the heroes are on their way, then I guess our fun is over.”
Usually, this was when Red Riot informed the villain that they were under arrest. But, of course, Deku was giving in too easy for either of them to feel comfortable trying it.
Kirishima looked sidelong at Bakugou, a question in his eyes.
But Bakugou was a bit distracted.
Firstly, by how much Deku had grown. And not just in the I’m-a-giant-lion sort of way.
Deku was built. Buff. Almost like he trained as hard as Bakugou himself did, or at least as hard as Kirishima.
And then Bakugou was distracted by the scars.
They ran all over Deku’s body.
They created bizarre kinds of patterns, zigging and zagging all over him. Making no sense as they tried to cover his body. It was like he’d been trapped in a woodchipper at some point, and then spat out only to be cinched in a web of electric wire.
It was distracting because Bakugou couldn’t figure out what made those scars.
Or why.
Or how Deku had survived.
That was the real kicker.
What had Deku gone through to obtain so many scars?
What had happened to him?
What had Bakugou missed?
And what was the promise?
He had so many questions, but, Deku was a villain. And, although he trusted Kirishima, he still didn’t really want there to be any sort of bond between the two of them. For people to connect the dots, figure out they knew each other.
That wouldn’t be good for Ground Zero.
If people knew his old best friend was a villain, people might lose trust in him.
And trust was a really big deal when it came to heroes.
So, as Bakugou tried to figure out what to do next, they were at a standstill. Sitting in a lull. Waiting for Ground Zero to figure out his next move.
But, of course, that couldn’t last forever.
“Ground Zero,” someone said, startling him.
Of course, it was Uravity.
Cautiously, she clambered her way over to them. Avoiding lava and scraps of broken buildings as she did. Although she had technically snuck onto the scene, her presence wasn’t actually a surprise to Bakugou.
Who else would float Kirishima into the air like that?
Who else could?
As she made her way over, she assessed the situation. The villain, the boys, the destruction. And, even through all that, her eyes settled on Bakugou.
They always settled on Bakugou.
She was looking at him, and only him.
Looking at him with concern as she joined the two heroes. Looking at him with such tenderness, such depth. Looking at him, not like he was just a hero, but her husband as well.
It soothed him a moment.
Reminded him that there was solid ground out there, even if it wasn’t here, between him and Deku.
Yeah, he could get through this.
But, right as he thought that, he was interrupted.
And it sent chills down his spine.
“Oh? This is her, right? I saw that you were getting married. Sorry I didn’t come to the wedding Kacchan, but I was a bit busy with the Master’s plan,” Deku commented, running a finger along a particularly nasty scar that rested on his chest.
When he looked up again, there was a pleasant smile on his face. Open, and friendly.
A ghost of the old Deku.
“Ochako, right? It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He paused, as if waiting for Uravity to answer, but there was no time.
Sirens were pressing in.
Deku shifted his eyes around, as if locating the source of the sound, even through the buildings. His head tilted this way and that a moment before he finally went back to smiling.
“Well, it’s been a pleasure catching up with you Kacchan. Maybe we can meet up again another day. But, I’ve got to go.”
He crouched, low to the ground, looking like a coiled spring.
And, somehow, Bakugou knew Deku was about to get away.
Before Deku launched though, he grinned up at Uravity.
“Oh, and it was a pleasure meeting you,” he said.
And that was it.
A sound like a rocket launching filled the air as the half-naked villain shot into the sky.
And then he was gone.
In his absence, there were sirens. Police beginning to move through the wreckage. People trying to escape the lava.
Three heroes looking at the sky, confused looks on their face as they tried to process what just transpired.
They stood in silence a moment, gathering their thoughts.
Katsuki was the first to break.
And he went ballistic.

Chapter Text

Deku reached the hideout only moments after leaving the scene of the disaster.
He was getting better and better at using his quirks.
It’d make him proud if he still wasn’t so far away from his goal.
But that didn’t stop the others from cheering for him.
“Deku, that was incredible! We saw the whole thing on the news!” Twice exclaimed. The other voice took over, “You didn’t even injure Ground Zero! What kind of crap is that! Not to mention you tore another suit.”
But Deku was used to Twice’s personalities by now. He paid the other Twice no heed as he walked past him.
“You made for quite the show,” Mr. Compress gave silent applause as he said it.
Deku smiled. “Thanks. That was the point.” He gave Twice a very directed look, but then turned back to address Kurogiri.
“Did the others accomplish their mission?”
“Yes sir, they did,” Kurogiri reported.
“Good, I’m hungry again,” Deku grumbled.
The others went silent because they knew he wasn’t lying. They could see it in the way his shoulders were hunched. His eyes roving darkly over their hideout. The way he leaned into the direction he walked.
Deku was hungry.
And they knew they could just as easily feed him as his target, or his goal, or anything else for that matter.
So none of them stopped him. If none of them said anything, he’d leave them alone.
And they were right.
He made his way down to the basement, and they all let out a silent breath of relief.
It wasn’t as dark and dreary as most basements. It couldn’t be, or they wouldn’t be able to comfortably house visitors.
Visitors like the one they had now.
He was glaring at the ground. Not quite looking at Denki, but not quite looking away either.
And Denki?
He was having a good time.
Currently, he was showing off his ability to charge things up. In his hands was an ancient toy. A monkey with symbols, to be precise. The most annoying toy Denki probably could’ve found.
And he was making the monkey dance.
“See? Cool, huh? Pretty useful if you ask me,” Denki commented as the monkey clattered off his palm, hitting the ground with a bounce.
“Kaminari.”
Deku immediately had Denki’s attention. His face brightly lit with excitement as he turned to face his superior.
“Stop torturing our guest,” Deku instructed.
Which deflated Denki’s grin instantly. Like popping a balloon dog.
It made Deku smile a bit.
“Be a good friend and bring us a water please,” Deku asked, turning on a dime to be pleasant.
That cured his friend of his sorrow.
“Okay!” he said, running off upstairs.
Which left Deku with his guest. The potential new recruit. A hero on the rise with an obvious chip on his shoulder. An asshole of a father. A history of heroes letting him down.
Deku smiled. Pleased and polite, all at once.
“Todoroki. I’m glad we’re finally able to meet.”
And he wasn’t lying.

 

It was all over the news.
Ground Zero goes berserk after a villain escapes.
But, of course, like with so many things, they didn’t understand the full story.
All they saw was him blasting stuff. Swearing up a storm. Him being tackled by Red Riot before Uravity took over and hauled both of them away from the scene of the crime.
When they were far enough away, Uravity gently let them down in an alley.
“What’s up with you man? You can’t go crazy like that!” Kirishima chastised, clearly concerned.
Ochako nodded. “Katsuki, what’s wrong?”
“Yeah, you knew that guy, right? I mean, he kept calling you ‘Kacchan’ and stuff,” Kirishima reasoned.
Ochako didn’t like that.
Not one bit.
Apparently, neither did Katsuki.
“Don’t fucking call me that,” he spat.
“I wasn’t!” Kirishima raised his hands, as if in surrender. “I just want to know why he was calling you that.”
And then, Bakugou went silent. Real silent. The kind of silent that comes before a storm. That sits and waits for the perfect moment to strike. A snake coiled, watching carefully. That kind of silent.
Bakugou had retreated.
That’s what it meant.
And pressing him any further?
Well…
It wasn’t well-advised.
And, since Ochako and Kirishima were his best friends, they knew better.
As reluctant as they were, they knew they were better off letting it go.
Kirishima blew out a long breath. “Alright man, fine. You can tell me when you’re ready, or not at all, or whatever, but if there’s anything that you know that would help me fight that guy…”
Ah.
Now that was something Bakugou could get behind. A good, sturdy reason.
Only…
Bakugou sighed. “Not really. Everything I know about him is useless in that department. That shitty nerd was quirkless when we were younger, but who knows what the hell quirk he’s developed since I last saw him.”
The two blanched for a moment. Shocked.
Bakugou had just unwittingly given up some information.
And that doesn’t happen very often.
Neither said anything though, or made any move to acknowledge what he’d just done. Instead, they kept it business-like. Tactical. Otherwise Bakugou would shut off again.
“Well, don’t you know, like, his parents’ quirks or something?” Kirishima pressed carefully.
Usually, tact wasn’t his thing. But, when it came to Katsuki…
Well, Ochako was more than happy to have his help.
Somehow, he knew exactly how to press Bakugou for more information without setting off his internal alarms. Finding a good balance between getting information they needed, and information they wanted.
And his tactics worked.
Bakugou shrugged at the question instead of exploding or shutting down. And then—miracle of miracles—he actually gave them a verbal answer.
“I mean, yeah, but neither of them could turn into giant fucking lions. His dad breathed fire, and his mom could float small shit towards herself, and that was it. Neither of those should amount to all that mess.”
The other two agreed.
It didn’t make sense.
“Well, either way, we need to make our way to the police station now and let them know what we know,” Ochako said, ever the level-headed one.
Bakugou looked panicked. Clearly, he was about to splutter something, but Ochako cut him off.
“You can speak directly to Tsukauchi. He won’t tell anyone that you’re the one giving him a lead on Deku—the villain—whatever,” Uraraka stammered.
And so, off they went.
To waste seven hours of their life—at least, that was Bakugou’s opinion on it.
He hated to admit it, but…
Deku was smart.
Wicked smart.
Always had been.
With that muttering and that observant nature of his…
Bakugou hated to admit it but—that, coupled with Deku’s new quirks?
Well.
Deku was a force to be reckoned with.
And that didn’t sit well with Bakugou.
Not at all.

Chapter Text

“It’s time Deku.”
The news was brought to him over the phone. Through the warped sound of the receiver. Through the sound of his master’s breathing device. Garbled, and full of static.
And yet, still.
It rang clearly.
Filled his stomach with birds taking flight.
He couldn’t help but grin.
“Yes sir.”
Oh.
This was going to be so much fun.
And it was going to do so much good.
So much good.

Bakugou was not impressed.
Ochako had moved the couch four times already, and still, he thought it looked best where it had been for months.
Right in the middle of the damn living room.
“For fuck’s sake Ocha, we’re going to be late,” he griped.
“But…”
She looked so desolate. Standing before the couch with that look of uncertainty on her face. Like, maybe the couch would actually look better over there instead.
He sighed.
In all honesty, he kind of expected this by now. Whenever something major was happening, she acted like this. Picked some stupid, menial task to do right beforehand. Supposedly, it helped calm her nerves. Katsuki observed that it was kind of the opposite.
However.
After that incident before she met his parents—the one where she threw a zero gravity hammer into the wall right next to his snarky, whiny head—he knew better than to try and stop her. At least, not without tact.
Instead, he tried to reason with her.
“Look, Angel, it’s perfect where it is. And if it isn’t, I’ll blast a hole through the damn wall if I have to so it can BE perfect. But, later, alright? We don’t have the time now. The charts are going to start soon, and I know we’re on stage.”
She whipped her head around, a sly grin on her face. “Oh? Don’t want to miss your moment in the spotlight, huh babe?”
That cheeky grin…
It was a bad move on her part.
Without hesitating, Bakugou smirked sharply. A dark glint in his eyes as he stalked over to her.
It set everything in her stomach on fire.
When he was close enough, he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close, completely flush against himself.
Pink dusted her features even more than before.
He absolutely loved it.
Looking down at her, he grinned evilly.
“No. I don’t want YOU to miss your moment in the spotlight.” His face grew softer as he brushed a thumb over her cheek. His voice got lower. “You’ve been working so hard Angel. If anyone deserves a moment in the spotlight, it’s you.”
And he meant it.
Sure, it had been months since the Deku incident, but still.
They hadn’t forgotten.
Ground Zero going berserk. Him letting off a few blasts in Red Riot’s face—not that shitty hair wasn’t used to that kind of crap. Still. It startled the public. And they sure as hell remember him being carried away by Uravity.
Yeah, his rankings had taken quite the dive after that.
And so had Riot’s and Uravity’s.
After all, the three of them teamed up all the time. Literally, all the time. They had a joint hero agency. And, for the longest time, it was a good idea.
Until Bakugou had gone and—literally—blown it.
But still, the two of them refused to break off their partnership with him. He insisted it was fine. It was just their professional ties, after all. He’d still be Ochaco’s husband and Kirishima’s best friend, and he’d totally understand if they wanted to break up the partnership.
But they didn’t.
They stayed.
And they fought.
And they smiled.
Oh boy, did they ever smile.
Red Riot and Uravity and Ground Zero had all been to dozens—maybe even hundreds—of interviews in the past few months. They’d done tons of rescue work, tons of PR moves, tons of donating and cutting ribbons and kissing babies. Tons of it, trying to make up for Ground Zero’s temper tantrum.
And, just in the past few months, they’d really been making headway.
A lot of headway, actually.
People were starting to come around. Coming to understand the trio more. Accepting them more. Even Bakugou’s shitty attitude seemed to be alright—a thing fans came to expect, and actually enjoyed.
But if it weren’t for shitty hair and Angel…
It never would have happened.
Especially since the Deku incident had dredged up some… stuff for him. Memories. Thoughts best left alone. Stones best left unturned. Nights that he woke up, startled by a lion’s jaw around his throat, or by seeing a suited man standing in lava, drowning his wife in it.
Since that fight with Deku, he’d definitely been a little out of it. A bit more protective of Ocha, a bit jumpier. A bit grouchier. Since Bakugou was Bakugou—and always had been—it already was up to Uravity and Red Riot to gather audiences. Win over hearts and shit. And that work had doubled over the past few months because of his dumb ass.
Thank goodness it was finally paying off.
So, yeah, Bakugou knew that the three of them were ranked. That he’d be in the spotlight with them. But, he planned on standing behind them both. Stepping back. Letting them soak it in.
After all, they were the ones who really deserved it.
And, honestly, Bakugou felt like he owed it to them.
Because he did.
And that was why he didn’t want to be late.
If he and Ochaco were late, it’d just be Kirishima in their spot, laying claim to their rank without them.
Late heroes weren’t allowed to stand in their place.
And there was no way in hell that he’d stand by and just let Uravity go unrecognized.
No way in hell.
So, despite where the couch was, they’d have to leave it for later. For when they got back home.
Not that he actually cared where it was.
It still functioned the same, regardless of where it sat.
He kissed Ochako once, quite tenderly. Letting the feeling of warmth linger for both of them.
When he pulled back, he had that shit-eating grin on his face again.
“Besides, doesn’t matter where the couch is, we hardly ever use it. We both know I drag you back to the bedroom for sexy-time.”
Ochako turned so vividly red that her round cheeks kind of resembled tomatoes.
“BAKUGOU!”
He ran out of the house, laughing as his wife chased him. Cursing him to sleep on the couch for the next month—regardless of where she ended up putting it.
But whatever.
At least they were on their way.

Chapter Text

Like a good friend, Kirishima was waiting for them backstage.
His eyebrow quirked up, a smug grin spreading over his face as he saw them.
“Took a little detour, did we?” he asked, his tone suggestive.
“Shut your face shitty hair,” Bakugou grumbled as Ochaco blushed. “Or I’ll shut it for you.”
Bakugou hated when other people flustered Uraraka.
As her husband, that was his privilege.
Kirishima rolled his eyes at Bakugou’s threat.
“Yeah, okay. We all know how well THAT turns out.”
“Tch.”
“So, what took you guys so long? For real, I mean,” Kirishima asked, trying to sound casual.
Bakugou rolled his eyes. “This crazy woman decided that it was a good idea to rearrange the house two hours before all this craziness started.”
His wife’s head whipped around, glaring at him. “That’s not why.”
“That IS why. If it weren’t for that, we would’ve gotten to the agency on time to change, and we wouldn’t be running behind schedule at all,” he asserted.
She gave him that pouty look. The one that made him want to kiss her and punch something all at once.
God she was so cute.
“It isn’t all my fault,” she mumbled.
Because they were still backstage, Bakugou was a bit bolder than he otherwise would have been.
He gave Ochaco a kiss on the forehead.
“It’s okay Angel Face, I still think you’re amazing, and you’re totally going to kick that couch’s ass when we get back.”
She rolled her eyes at both his real and false praise.
Before she could fully reply, Red Riot cut in.
“Hate to break up you guys’ sticky, sweet, disgusting couple’s quarrel, but we’re about to start.”
“Right,” Ground Zero said, going straight back to business.
Uravity had to cough a bit to bring down the red in her cheeks.
“Now, for our top ten!” some announced said on the other side of the curtain.
“Finally,” Bakugou muttered.
“We’ve only been here for five minutes,” Uraraka shot back.
He shrugged. “Five minutes too long is still five minutes too long.”
“I don’t think that’s quite how the saying goes,” Kirishima replied, only to acquire a death-glare from Ground Zero.
“What?”
But the announcer was continuing, which shut the trio up in a heartbeat.
“Our number ten hero…”
But, when they realized it wasn’t someone they knew, and it wasn’t them, Ground Zero grew bored again.
“Oh, you gotta be fucking kidding me. A goddamn washing machine? What the fuck?”
Uravity elbowed him. “Be nice.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“And now for our number nine hero…”
“What number are we again?” Red Riot asked.
“Four? Bakugou replied, his tone skeptical. “I thought you were getting better with numbers,” he interjected, going on offense to distract from his memory lapse.
“Yeah, like math. Not remembering numbers.”
“Hair for brains still can’t keep up, eh?”
“I just told you to be nice,” Uravity interjected.
“Sorry Mom.”
That earned him a glare, but outside the curtain, they were moving on.
“Currently holding the number eight spot is the icy-hot hero… Shoto!”
Applause erupted, and this time the commentary from the trio was more directed. After all, they had been classmates with Shoto.
“Still looks stiff as ever,” Katsuki remarked.
“But buff,” Eijiro remarked. “Wonder what his routine is like.”
“Probably some crazy shit. You remember who his dad is, right? Or do common facts also slip out of your hair?”
“I said that we were being NICE Katsuki.”
“Sorry.”
They’d missed Shoto’s remark in favor of their own. So they simply watched as he took his place on stage.
“And now, for the current number seven hero… King Blitzer!”
“Hey, how come he gets to have ‘king’ in his hero name, but I can’t?”
“Because yours was followed by ‘explosion’ and ‘murder’,” Riot explained.
“Tch. Stupid double standards.”
“They’re not—” Uravity began, but gave up almost immediately. “Oh, nevermind.”
“And now, for the number six hero…Edgeshot!”
The crowd went crazy, as they usually did. The portion of the stadium full of fans was nearly having a riot, throwing fake ninja stars and preening over their favorite hero.
“How is that stoic, rusty razor so damn popular?” Ground Zero wondered aloud.
The second and third parts of the trio shrugged, mystified as Edgeshot did nearly nothing and still caused his audience fans to swoon or roar.
“For our number five ranked hero, we have once again… Best Jeanist!”
Again, portions of the crowd went berserk. However, Jeanist pandered more to his fans than Edgeshot, so it made more sense.
“Remember when Bakugou interned with him and had to wear jeans? That was so funny,” Kirishima remarked.
“I hate jeans,” Bakugou snarled.
“They make your ass look real nice though.”
Both the boys looked at Uraraka, completely dumbfounded.
An innocent look on her face, she shrugged. “What? I’m being serious. And, I’m right. His ass looks really nice in jeans.”
Kirishima was still shocked at her statement. Usually, Ochaco kept thoughts like that to herself.
But Bakugou on the other hand…
“You keep talking like that, and I’m going to take you home right this second. Don’t test me Ochaco, you know I love when you talk like that.”
“Oh—for the love of all things heroic—please save me this disgusting banter!” Kirishima begged, looking skyward a moment. As if the heavens themselves might open and save him. Then he looked pointedly at his friends. “You two, I swear… you’d think after being married for two years you’d have cooled off.”
“Cooling off is for losers,” Bakugou replied.
“I can’t cool off when my husband’s this hot,” Ochaco affirmed.
Before Kirishima could get even more disgusted, Bakugou patted his shoulder.
“Don’t worry son. One day, you’ll find someone special, and you’ll have a love just like your mother and I do.”
Though his hand was aggressively swatted away, he just sniggered.
“I swear. Sometimes I don’t even know why I bother with you two,” Kirishima grumbled.
“And now, for our number four ranked hero, a real upstart who came out of nowhere we have… Dabi!”
Ballistic.
That was how the crowd was.
The staple-faced hero walked across stage, looking like he couldn’t care less about being here. Like he was here by accident. Like he had tried to walk back to his grave and, annoyingly, missed the mark by several blocks.
And the crowd loved it.
Not that Bakugou could really hate on that. After all, his fans loved when he scowled.
But still.
The blue-flamed bastard put him off.
There was just something strange about him…
Didn’t matter that he and Shoto were related, or that he and Endeavor shared quirks. Something about that guy just didn’t sit right with Bakugou.
Or maybe he was just projecting. Judging a book by its cover.
By its very dead, Halloween-looking cover.
Uravity elbowed him, giving a stern look as he turned to face her.
“But I didn’t say anything!” he protested.
“But you were thinking something awful, I know you were.”
He simply sighed. Unable to lie to her.
“And now, for our number three ranked hero—or, should I say heroes? Give it up for Ground Zero, Red Riot, and Uravity! The Shooting Star Team!”
If that wasn’t their cue, then nothing was.
The curtain went up on the three of them. Without missing a beat, Riot and Uravity went into character. Full-on hero mode. Smiling and waving and pandering to the fans. Pointing and cheering and grinning at the crowd.
The crowd that was going absolutely buck-wild.
They ate the two of them up.
Fire burned low in Bakugou’s stomach. Simmering into something solid and steady, while simultaneously spreading through his limbs. Something that felt like a mark, like a statement. Like looking out over a hoard of villains he’d vanquished, feeling the nitroglycerin in his hand, like holding seven sticks of dynamite.
Pride.
That’s what it was.
Those two idiots who were showing off? Who were being named as the number three heroes? Who were carelessly tossing free shirts into the crowd? Those idiots were his idiots. His best friend and his wife.
And he couldn’t have been prouder.
A smirk snuck its way onto his features, his teeth glinting at the audience through his snarl.
And those people in the stands?
They loved that, too.
The Shooting Stars were being absolutely adored right now.
Good.
Bakugou knew that Red Riot and Uravity deserved it. Had earned it. Both the adoration, and the trust, and the approval, and everything else that made them ranked third.
They’d earned it.
As the audience began to simmer down, the announcer stepped up to ask the three of them for a statement.
Uravity was first.
Good.
Very good.
Things were going so well. Ochaco speaking to the crowd would only make them better. She had a way with words, and with people, that Bakugou didn’t. So did Kirishima. The two of them could move people to tears if they wanted to. They could talk down Godzilla in the middle of Tokyo for fuck’s sake. There was no way that this could go wrong.
Which is, of course, when it did go wrong.
Because being there, on that stage, standing in front of that audience? Facing all those people? Claiming that pedestal? It all meant one thing.
He was a hero now.
And that meant he’d completely forgotten his promise.
Not that that was why Deku showed up.
But, oh hell.
Did it make Deku feel good.

Chapter Text

Smoke poured out from everywhere. So sudden, and without reservation.
The announcer caught Bakugou’s swear words in his mic as the hero exclaimed, “What the hell?” As soon as the fog appeared, his arm reached protectively out around Ochaco. As if he alone could shield her from whatever was waiting for them when the smoke cleared.
And maybe he was.
But that was highly doubtful.
Because when the smoke cleared, the arena was exactly the same. Exactly the same, except for one thing:
Deku.
Wearing another suit—this one white with black stripes—standing impeccably still. Statuesque. Almost as if he belonged where he was.
Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
He stood in the number one hero spot.
Breaking the illusion of belonging, Deku smirked.
“Good evening everyone,” he greeted casually. Calmly. Confidently. As if he wasn’t a wanted man standing in a room full of heroes. Like he wasn’t a piece of meat being lowered to the dogs.
And you could see it.
Every hero in the room’s reaction.
Tense.
Movement.
It was like the arena was leaning in over Deku, readying to pounce. A dog crouched in front of a bone.
He must’ve sensed that, because he continued.
“Nobody should attack me, and nobody should stop the live feed for any reason. If you break those rules, people will die.”
You could feel that, too. The response that was felt in the room.
Holding their breaths.
That’s what everyone was doing.
Shocked, confused. Maybe even disbelieving. Either way, they were all mostly heroes in the arena, and they all knew better than to try something. Not with a villain that was already so well-known. Not with someone who broke onto the scene like Deku.
Deku smiled pleasantly.
“Excellent. I’ll explain it simply: there are quite a few buildings around town that I have placed bombs in. Most of them are full of people, the one I’m about to blow up is not.”
It wasn’t as if there was a loud sound, or a rumbling, or explosions in the area. Not as if the heroes in attendance heard anything, because they truly didn’t.
But still.
They knew.
Phones started buzzing a moment after Deku’s words were out.
A building had, indeed, been blown up.
And, just as Deku had said, it was empty.
So far, no casualties.
There was half a breath of relief before everyone realized what it really meant:
Deku probably wasn’t bluffing.
That pleasant smile grew into a pleasant grin as he continued.
“Excellent. Now that we have verification that I’m not playing games, we can continue. Don’t try to stop what’s going to happen heroes, or I will kill hundreds. I promise you that if you let me act out my part, I won’t kill anyone. Should the feed stop, or should I be attacked, or should anyone intervene, hundreds—or, thousands—will pay the price. However, if you allow me my moment, I won’t be killing anyone.”
The smile grew darker. Sharper.
“Not today, anyway.”
Which, of course, didn’t bode well with anyone.
Least of all, Bakugou. If anyone knew what Deku was capable of—and Bakugou was certain that, at this point, no one really did—it would be Bakugou. And all Ground Zero knew was:
This guy was clever.
This guy was not quirkless.
This guy was more dangerous than playing with fireworks at a gas station.
And Deku knew it, too.
He surveyed the crowd before him, like a cheetah observing a great plain. A king looking over his feast.
Hungry.
“Heroes have plagued us for many years now. Creating this false sense of safety. How easy it would be, for me to pluck lives from Fate’s tapestry. Too easy. I could create a massive noise and blast a thousand hearts. Shatter eardrums. Disrupt brain functions. I could spit lava into the heart of the city. Call forth a beast from another dimension. And you know what you all would do? Do you know how you would react?”
Everything was silent. Everyone waiting. Watching. Wondering if the answer was obvious.
Or just unpleasant.
As Deku spoke, Bakugou drank his words in. Tried to digest them. Understand them.
What had made his old friend like this?
In the meantime, he secured Uravity. Both he and Red Riot shuffled her—ever so slowly—so that the duo was in front of her. Protecting her. Not because she was weak, or because she needed it.
But because, to Bakugou, she mattered so much more than himself. And, to Kirishima, that was good enough. Bakugou was his best friend and, if his best friend wanted to protect his wife above all else, he’d be standing there right next to him, guarding her as well.
It was why they’d made themselves a team in the first place.
Deep rooted connections. Consideration for one another.
Friendship.
Loyalty.
Understanding.
Kirishima also understood that, in this moment, Bakugou was going absolutely nuts.
He still hadn’t divulged how he knew this villain, or why. But it was easy to tell:
This guy shook Ground Zero up in a way no other villain had.
And Red Riot would know.
Bakugou’s red eyes were intent, steady. Focused on Deku as the villain answered his own question.
“You would do nothing.”
He paused.
Then reiterated.
“NOTHING. Not even to save your own lives! Power sits underneath your skin—pushes out through your fingertips, and still! You would do nothing!” Deku’s voice rose, angry and bitter. “How stupid! How foolish! How selfish! How many of you were born with gifts you won’t use? Gifts you keep confined? How many of you could save lives, if only you’d step out of your comfort zone and just MOVE? USE WHAT YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN!”
The outburst startled everyone.
Deku included.
Taking a deep breath, he recollected himself. Adjusting his tie with a look in his eyes that marked it a nervous habit.
Calmer, he continued.
“For too long, we’ve neglected the wonderful things we’ve been given. No—YOU have. The people. You sit and wait for heroes to come, to rescue you, when you could be your own saviors. When you could stop the slaughter yourselves. You sit idly by while others dirty their hands for your yellow hides. Cowering under the shadow of heroes while your neighbors suffer. While lives are destroyed. What use is a gift that stays hidden? That gets no use? It HAS NO USE. No purpose. And that’s why…”
Deku’s demeanor changed.
And Bakugou saw it.
The hunter.
The beast lying beneath the green eyes.
The lion in wait.
Looking out over the crowd, he snarled a smirk. Looking directly into the camera, he spoke again.
“That’s why I’ve come. That’s why I am here.”
The shadows…
Something was wrong.
They crept over the stage, dimming all the lights except for the ones on Deku. Spotlighting him even more than before. Highlighting the hunger in his eyes.
“I am here to remind you, to warn you. A boogeyman. An omen. A thief that stalks at all times, has no fear of the hour. I am here, and I will continue to remind you, to make you move.”
Foreboding came on so strongly that it nearly winded Bakugou. Made him almost breathless. Want to vomit.
And what was worse:
Helplessness.
Whatever Deku was going to do—whatever more he had to say—it was not going to end well.
And Bakugou—one of the top heroes—could do nothing—NOTHING—to stop him.
He felt spurned. Admonished. What good was being a hero—having a quirk at all—if he couldn’t do anything with it? If he couldn’t help people?
If he couldn’t win every fight?
He burned as he stood watching Deku.
As he heard Deku wrap up the villain monologue portion of his appearance.
“If you don’t use your quirk, then you don’t deserve it.”
Mutterings arose, but Deku ignored the muttering. He pointed, very steady, very focused, and his snarl came to such a sharp point it was nearly piercing to the eyes.
“If YOU don’t use your quirk, then YOU DON’T DESERVE IT!” he thundered.
It shocked everyone.
Silence struck the room again.
Deku’s eyes burned.
“YOU! I’M TALKING TO YOU!”
The room seemed to shrink. Boiled down into vapors that were slowly lifting away.
Meekly, people began looking down to where Deku was pointing. To see if it was them, or their neighbor, or someone else. Afraid, and relived when they found it wasn’t them.
It was someone else.
The stares pointed inward. Down and down and down, until Deku finally had to pinpoint the man himself.
“BEHIND THE CAMERA! GET DOWN! COME TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE!”
“Oh shit,” Red Riot, for once ,was the one to mutter curses.
Not that Ground Zero didn’t agree. Because he did.
Wholeheartedly.
This was definitely not a good sign.

Chapter Text

Legs shaking, the man fell off his stand as he attempted to do as the villain Deku asked.
“Come stand before the stage, before your heroes,” Deku commanded as the man stumbled.
Bakugou had to lock his joints.
He nearly ran to help the guy.
Poor sap looked like he was going to start puking his guts out all over the floor. Or pass out. Or both.
But he couldn’t move.
Couldn’t.
Deku would kill people, and it’d be all his fault.
A constant stream of DAMNDAMNDAMNDAMNDAMN could be heard in Ground Zero’s head. A painful surge of uselessness pumped into his veins as his joints protested.
He wanted to MOVE, DAMNIT.
But, he couldn’t.
The threat was too great.
He could only watch and hope that other heroes were on this. That others were looking for the bombs. Evacuating citizens. That, soon, someone would give them the go-ahead to crush Deku.
But until then, he simply had to wait.
It was agony.
Watching the man walk. So slowly, so painfully. As if his feet weighed tons and he was wading through sticky cement. Sweat poured off the guy, drenchingthe ground as he shuffled foward. His eyes were wholly focused on the villain waiting for him. At the man who stood, watching him with some dark kind of fire in his eyes.
Deku wasn’t grinning anymore.
Maybe that was what was so terrifying.
He was glaring at the man, judging him as he made his way. As he did his best not to pass out under the gaze of the angry villain.
When the man finally made it to the front, he stood before the stage. Simply looking up.
It made it easier to see the giant gulp the guy took before speaking.
“Y—yes?”
Deku smirked.
“Yamato Nakazawa. Thirty-seven years old. Divorced, two kids. You went to college and gained a degree in filmography. You didn’t play sports, and you’ve never been in trouble with the law. Extremely clean, all in all. Extremely…” Deku seemed to search for the word, and, after a moment, landed on, “Useless.”
More sweat poured off the man.
“Not you, in and of yourself. Or your life. Anyone can be useful—anyone. You can be a trashman, or a tree trimmer, and still, be useful. However, there have been times when you’ve stood down. Been less useful than you could have been. Are you aware of that?”
Deku’s eyes weren’t questioning. Neither was his tone.
This guy…
He knew.
The way his eyes widened, his pupils dilated. Another giant gulp went down his throat. His hands began to shake and it moved through him quickly, his whole body shuddering. Fearing whatever it was Deku was going to say next.
But, somehow, the guy actually managed to respond.
“Y…yes,” he said to Deku. Eyes full of pain, of regret. “I do.”
There were murmurs. The general consensus was shock.
But Bakugou didn’t feel that. In fact, he felt the opposite.
Somehow, Deku would know. For whatever reason, Bakugou felt that strongly. That, if Deku wanted to know something, he’d know it. If you had dirty laundry, Deku could sniff it out. Bakugou wasn’t sure why, exactly, he felt like that. But he certainly did.
Before the stage, the man stood shaking.
Deku nodded at him, acknowledging his response.
“Your quirk is useful. Much more useful than some. And certainly more useful than a quirk that isn’t a quirk at all. You were gifted with something powerful, wonderful. And yet, when the time came for you to use your gift, what did you do?”
Deku didn’t wait for an answer, which was good. The guy’s face was pale. So pale, Bakugou thought he might be astral projecting himself out of the arena. There was no way in hell he’d have been able to answer. So Deku answered for him.
“Nothing.”
Deku’s answer felt infinite. Endless. Like a shot projected through space.
Eyes full of something like fire and brimstone, Deku continued.
“You did nothing. You continue to do nothing. Your quirk lies dormant inside yourself. Unused. You could help so many, save so many, and yet you choose to play video games at night. Play with your cat. Occupy yourself with home living magazines. What kind of existence is that? That you look the other way when people need your help? That you stand down in favor of making it to sales at the store on time? That you ignore your fellow man—even yourself—to the point that lives are damaged?” Deku’s voice grew darker. Somehow even more angry, more threatening. “What good is a quirk to someone who refuses to use it? To someone who’s afraid of helping? Of fighting? Of doing the right thing? How ridiculous, don’t you think? Even when your own life was at risk, you still didn’t use it. You let others save you. How pathetic.”
The man seemed thoroughly abashed. Head down, sweat dripping off his nose. Legs shaking like fall leaves in a great wind.
This guy was going to break if Deku didn’t let up.
“I said that I am here as a reminder. A way to push you all,” he addressed the crowd now. The cameras. A dead look in his eyes. “I said I would prompt you. Encourage you to do what you ought to do. And this, my friends, is the only way I can do it.”
He looked down again from his high place, from the number one hero spot. Looked down at the cowering man.
“I will give you one chance. But only this one.”
The arena was silent.
If someone had exhaled sharply, everyone would’ve heard it.
They were all waiting for Deku’s loophole. For his instruction. Leaning in to catch his words. To understand.
When he spoke, he floored everyone.
No one was expecting it.
“Fight me.”
The man before the stage looked up sharply, stunned. Unsure.
But Deku nodded.
“Activate your quirk. Do your best to stop me. Try to save yourself. You’ll have to. I won’t allow rescue to come from anyone else. No one will get hurt in the process but me, I swear it. Don’t expect to win, but still, fight me. That will be enough. If you can do that, I will be satisfied.”
The man looked around, eyes still wide. Unbelieving.
Honestly, Bakugou felt the same.
Clearly, Deku had gone nuts. To think that this guy would dare fight him.
Everyone still knew about Deku.
Everyone.
His giant lion-beast form was all over the internet. So was his lava-feet stunt. If this guy had ever—ever—browsed the internet (at least, in the past few months) he’d have seen Deku. Knew that he was a beast.
There was no way.
No way he’d fight Deku.
The man swallowed hard again, his Adam’s apple bobbing like a buoy.
“But… it’s illegal. I’m… not supposed to…”
Deku’s eyes flared angrily.
“DAMN THE LAWS RIGHT NOW. YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER. OTHERS COULD BE IN DANGER. I’M A VILLAIN, AND I’M IN CHARGE OF THE SITUATION RIGHT NOW. NO HERO CAN STAND BEFORE ME. NOT RIGHT NOW.” Simmering down some, he gave the man a look of disdain. His lip curled as he spoke, “Or do you mean to say that life has no value? That you refuse to defend yourself? Do you truly think these heroes can stop you right now? That they’ll blame you for using your quirk against me? Or are you simply afraid?”
Bakugou wasn’t sure if it was wise or not, but, in all honesty, he’d have reacted the same if he were in Yamato’s shoes.
Yamato remained silent.
Sweating.
Scared.
Then Deku did something that was a bit jarring for Bakugou. Something surreal.
He made a “tch” sound, just like Bakugou used to do.
It sent him back.
Way back.
To sweaty days spent in the sun. Playing hero on the playground with a certain green-haired individual. Looking up at All Might on television.
And that, for some reason, struck another chord.
Playgrounds…
Heroes…
It tied together somehow. He just wasn’t sure how.
And he didn’t have the time to figure it out.
Deku looked away from the man, to the space right beneath the number one hero spot.
And he spoke again.
“You disappoint me, yet you’ve proven my point. I can’t tell whether I ought to be grateful or be sad. Either way, I think this end is a good one. In all honesty, I can’t imagine it ending any other way.”
When he looked up, his eyes weren’t green anymore.
They were red.
Pulsing red. Vivid red. Like lava and blood and rubies mixed together. Like a vampire’s eyes, or like the eyes of the setting sun.
Angry.
Red.
Hungry.
“Since you’ve proven your quirk useless to you, then I’ll take it.”
It was infinitesimal, but still, it could be felt.
Confusion.
People were looking around at each other. Question marks in their eyes. Even Bakugou received one. From Kirishima, no less. And when Kirishima hit Bakugou with that question mark, Bakugou merely shrugged.
He had no idea what Deku was going on about.
No one did.
Not yet.
“You don’t want to use your quirk, then you don’t need it—don’t deserve it. So, I’ll take it,” Deku continued, his eyes glowing brighter.
He grinned sharply, adding to the rigidness in his eyes. The red lighting that pulsed there.
And rippled out.
Yeah.
Bakugou was stunned. Shocked to see it. The strikes of red lightning that seemed to ooze out of Deku, folding over him like snakes fond of a tree branch. They bent and broke, over and over again, always rendezvousing at Deku’s body. Curling in and out and around him like he was a sun and they were minor planets.
And it didn’t seem to bother Deku.
Not one bit.
With the lightning pulsing, and his red eyes glowing, Deku snarled.
Sharp teeth framed his lips.
And he hunched as he looked down at the man. Bending like a cat about to pounce.
“Your quirk is useless in your own hands. So I’ll relieve you of it. Take it and make something of it. Make it useful.”
For some reason, this was the moment Yamato seemed to wake up. Come back from his fear-drunk haze.
“What?”
“I said…”
And then Deku leapt.
Pounced.
Rocketing off the stage, Deku landed with his feet on Yamato’s chest. Knocking him to the ground, towering over him. Hunching like a great cat does over their prey.
And still.
No one moved.
Sure, they feinted. Started and stopped. But, ultimately, they all remained where they were. There were still other lives at stake. Things holding all the heroes back.
Which Bakugou knew wouldn’t end well for Yamato. He wasn’t sure how yet, but he was certain that this wasn’t good.
Because Deku was speaking nonsense some kind of nonsense…
At least, that’s what he thought.
Until the branches exploded from Deku’s fingertips.
Dark fingers. Ones that more resembled angry black brambles than fingers. The red lightning surged through them as they rushed forward, stabbing into the man underneath Deku.
No one was sure what that was, not exactly.
But there was someone in the room with a hunch.
Eyes wild, fingers digging their lightning deep into the man’s body, Deku’s feet planted firmly on his chest, Deku screamed.
Screamed.
“I WANT YOUR QUIRK!”
And the way he said it made everyone shudder.
Like a mad man demanding freedom, or a tiger demanding a sacrifice. A wolf howling with the full moon in sight while you sat hunched over a dying fire. A beast with a lamb in its jaws.
That’s all the heroes could see when they looked at the scene before the stage.
And with what they all knew of Deku, that actually wasn’t far off.
Lightning surged brighter, striking into the man’s body.
And he convulsed.
As if the lightning really were striking him. Hitting him, heart and soul.
“I WANT YOUR QUIRK,” Deku repeated.
Only, this time, it was emphasized with more lightning. With those brambles reaching deeper under the man’s skin. The lightning glowing red under the surface.
It struck, again and again, coursing through Deku’s fingers. Creating chaos inside the man’s twisted body. Every time the lightning touched down, you could see the volts making his muscles jerk and twitch.
It made Bakugou sick to his stomach. The urge to vomit more prevalent now than ever before.
The man began frothing at the mouth. His nerves making his muscles contract in weird ways. Harsh ways.
Was Deku killing him?
No one knew.
No one was sure.
And still…
None of them could move.
Not because lives were on the line. They couldn’t use that as an excuse this time. Not in this instance. It was too bold of a lie.
They were afraid.
This thing Deku was, the thing he was doing…
None of them truly understood it. Knew how to stop it. Combat it.
That’s why none of them could move.
By the time any of them realized that—realized why they were failing this man—it was too late.
After another moment, it was over.
The lightning stopped. The convulsing stopped. Deku’s devil hand retracted, turning back into regular fingers.
But there was something off now.
Something different.
Dread had settled deep into the bones of everyone watching. A fear that licked at the back of their necks. That tickled the underbellies of their minds. Eating them from the dark corner where it lurked, slowly dragging them into a place too empty for them to be able to grasp at anything.
And, at the end of it all, Deku still stooped. Panting. His whole form hunched.
Hungry.
That’s how he looked.
Like a dog that had finally caught a rabbit between its teeth.
When Deku looked up, he stood up straight. Removed himself from the man’s chest. Examined his fingers carefully.
And then, he did the strangest thing.
Deku began to cry.

Chapter Text

The tears were strange, for sure.
But they’d just seen stranger.
And yet, still, all they could do was watch Deku’s plan unfold.
He cried.
Big tears that dripped heavily. That welled on the floor, created massive puddles.
“This is the thing this man has held back for so long. The gem he kept hidden. A light that he wouldn’t let shine. This is the power that he kept to himself. See it and weep as I do,” Deku instructed.
The tears swelled.
And swelled.
And swelled.
Before anyone knew it, the puddles had become huge. They sat atop the ground, not soaking in at all.
And then they moved.
Gelatinous masses that jiggled together. Formed shapes made from tears. From salt and water. They came together and made things.
Giant things.
Monsters.
At this point, Bakugou had thought he’d seen it all. But, clearly, he hadn’t.
This guy’s quirk…
It was something else.
A million things were flying through Bakugou’s mind. So fast, he barely had time to even wave at them before they passed him by.
Among them, he was able to focus on the most important one:
This was it.
Deku’s quirk.
A quirk that stole quirks.
Unfathomable.
Unreal.
How had Bakugou not seen it before?
And…
Why had Deku kept it a secret?
Did he not know about the quirk when he was a kid? Did something go wrong?
And then, a terrifying thought:
Did Deku steal his father’s quirk? Set the house on fire himself?
The thought was more than daunting.
It was completely harrowing.
And still, there wasn’t time to dwell.
Because the tear monsters?
They attacked.
Rushing forward, five of them hit the front row. Some of the occupants were heroes, but some were civilians. Some uncomfortable using their quirks, and others simply so caught off-guard that they couldn’t.
A few people ran away, blood trailing after them. Tear monsters that looked like large, spikey wolves snapped their jaws at them as they ran.
And Deku still stood among them all.
Smirking.
“This is what you’ve wrought on yourself. Remember this Yamato: you had a chance. Had you tried, even the slightest bit, I’d have let you keep your quirk. But, for those watching, remember this.”
He took a dramatic pause. Had one of the tear-beasts adjust the camera so it was focused on him and only him. On his leer, his green eyes sparking with red lightning, and his hungry tiger smile.
“I am watching. So, don’t be useless.”
And with that, a great poof of smoke appeared. Pouring in like before.
Heroes moved then.
Rushing forward, there was a great cacophony. A sound like elephants stomping on each other’s feet, stumbling over each other.
But the trio didn’t move. They didn’t even try.
Because Bakugou already knew. Even though the smoke hadn’t cleared, he knew.
Deku was gone.
And, although Yamato was still unconscious, unable to confirm it, Bakugou knew.
Deku had taken that guy’s quirk with him.
As the heroes rushed the front of the stage, Bakugou pushed his partners back. Away from the chaos. Away from the fire.
Because he knew.
This fire was merciless. Sweeping, and engulfing. Nearly unending, and painfully hot. Strong as a tide. A fire in a forest that had been dead for hundreds of years. With tons of tinder simply lying around. Things that no one had thought to throw away. Things people thought wouldn’t burn. Not until they did. Not until the fire was in full swing.
And Bakugou knew.
This fire’s thirst wouldn’t be quenched anytime soon.
Not even close.

 

Back at base, Deku was met with more excitement.
“Hohoho! You showed them!” Twice yelled. “Quite an excellent event,” his other voice said.
“That was truly spectacular,” Mr. Compress agreed.
Deku grinned. “That was the warm-up. I’m not part of Act I. Not really.” He turned to Twice and Denki.
“Are you two ready?”
Static could be seen jumping off Kaminari as he grinned. “Oh, you know it.”
“Affirmitive! LET’S GO WRECK ‘EM!” Twice’s personalities answered.
Deku’s grin was sharper. “Good. You two and Kurogiri are the next step. Starting in three days, the city will know fear. They’ll know that their heroes can’t save them.”
The villains fidgeted, excited. Glad to have such a clever leader. Glad to have such a bold plan.
None of them could wait.

Chapter Text

The night after the billboards, Bakugou had nightmares.
Yes, plural.
They hit him, over and over and over again. Every time he closed his eyes, there was a new one. A new situation, and a new scenario, with new people suffering.
Though, there was a common theme among them:
Uravity and Red Riot.
In every dream he had, they were there. Showing up late to the scene, or sometimes the focal point of the dream. Either way, most of his dreams had them included.
And it was rough.
Every time they were in the dream, it went south. Bakugou—no, Ground Zero—was always trying to reach them. Help them. Fight for them. But, in the end, he always failed.
When Deku had Uravity in his lion jaws, Bakugou had had enough.
He woke with a start.
And stayed up.
For days.
Tsukauchi had called on him again. Asked if he remembered anything important. Anything at all.
So Bakugou had spilled what he knew of Deku. That they used to be friends. That Deku loved playing hero when they were kids. That he was a quirkless little piece-of-sunshine shit. That his parents died in a fire.
Honestly, it wasn’t anything that the detective didn’t already know.
They were all at a loss.
Additionally, Yamato Nakazawa had recovered. After two days in the hospital, he finally woke up.
Quirkless.
And, according to the quirk registry, what they saw Deku do before he left? The tears trick?
That had been Yamato’s quirk.
Deku had stolen it.
Granted, Bakugou had suspected as much, but still.
How did Deku do it?
On the third day of being awake, Ochaco approached him.
“Babe, you need some sleep,” she urged.
He grunted, scrolling his browser for any news. Any clues. Anything at all that would give him answers.
Ochaco sighed.
Leaning forward, she wrapped her arms around his waist. Leaning her whole body into him.
It warmed him up instantly. Made him cozier than he’d ever expected to be while sitting in his office’s stool.
“Get some sleep Katsuki,” she whispered into his ear.
That, in and of itself, was almost enough to lull him into passing out. Right there, at his desk. Sitting up straight, even.
But then the alarm blared.
Ground Zero and Uravity jumped up, at the ready.
Red Riot burst into Ground Zero’s office.
“Trouble downtown. They say there’s… red lightning.”
There wasn’t any doubt in their minds as to what that could mean.
And yet…
They were wrong.
“Blasty, you doing alright? Your steering is a bit off,” Red Riot remarked.
Currently, they were traveling how their team usually traveled:
Zero gravity and explosions.
It’s why they were called The Shooting Stars.
They’d tie together, Uravity would cancel their gravity, and then Ground Zero would use his explosions to propel them through the air. If the landing looked like it was going to be rough, they used Red Riot as a landing pad. Have him hit the ground first to break their fall, while Ground Zero and Uravity double-teamed working against the impact.
It was pretty genius.
And very flashy.
And, usually, very effective.
But, as they flew, Ground Zero had nearly clipped a few buildings. Several times.
“’M fine,” Bakugou said as he corrected their trajectory.
But neither of his teammates bought that.
“He hasn’t slept since the incident,” Uraraka mouthed to Kirishima.
He looked alarmed at that.
Rightfully so.
Ground Zero let off another small blast as they inched their way by a building. Way too close for comfort.
“Maybe you should sit this one out bud,” even as he suggested it, Kirishima knew what his answer would be. Knew what it SHOULD be.
If Deku was behind the red lightning, they’d need everyone’s help—even more than the three of them—to take Deku down. Even a sleep-deprived Bakugou was better than no Bakugou. That aside, Kirishima knew Bakugou had a mystery connection to Deku. Something that spurred him on whenever Deku showed up. Eating him from the inside out.
So even as he asked, he knew Bakugou would refuse.
And he did.
Not as violently as he would have had he been well-rested. Instead of telling Red Riot to shut his fucking mouth, he simply grumbled and said “tch” as they flew toward the fight.
They were close.
They knew because they could see it.
From the ground, red lightning shot up. Shook the sky.
Boomed like thunder.
The trio all felt their insides turn over. Not just nervous.
But scared.
They could lose their lives, sure. But that was always a risk in their line of work.
Losing their quirk though?
That was an entirely different kind of animal. A different kind of loss.
How do you survive something like that?
Not a single one of them had an answer, so they really hoped they wouldn’t have to find out.
Because they were encroaching on the lightning, coming in fast.
“Here we go,” Bakugou muttered.
They didn’t even slow down to land. They just let Kirishima do his magic as the three hit the ground.
Hit the ground running.

Chapter Text

It was nothing like what they expected.
When they showed up on the scene, red lightning was shooting everywhere, yes. But…
There was no green-haired villain to be found.
Instead, they found…
“Kaminari?!” Kirishima exclaimed.
“Bolts for brains?” Bakugou asked.
Sure enough, it was him.
He was wearing some kind of goggles over his eyes. A black jacket that looked more metal, or punk than the one he’d had in high school. And his hair? More electric looking. Spikier, sharper. Over one of his goggles was a glass, something like a sight. Bakugou recognized it as an after-graduation addition to his hero outfit, something from his first few outings on the job. Something he used only a few times before.
From before the accident.
Denki looked sharper now. His boots were bolted, small shock absorbers embedded into them, poking out like Frankenstein’s neck-bolts. Cuffs made from some kind of leather and metal wrapped around his left wrist—the one that survived—and around his other wrist was a glove, one with metal over the knuckles. In his ears there were things that looked like tiny lightning rods poking out of several spots.
Denki grinned at them.
“Hiya kids! How ya been? It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Don’t think I’ve seen any of you since I was released from the hospital.”
“Denki… what’s the deal man? We thought you were Deku! What’re you doing out here? And how is your electricity like that?” Riot cut in.
“Oh, this stuff?” holding up one of his hands, Denki let loose with a string of static.
It exploded outward, reaching into the sky. Reaching much higher than they’d ever seen Denki’s quirk reach before. And that wasn’t the only thing that changed. His lighting didn’t look like it used to. It looked harsher, deadlier than before.
It looked like Deku’s red lightning.
Civilians were heard screaming. Running. Cars honking, and people panicking, and things being crashed into other things.
“Cut that out man! You’re scaring people,” Kirishima scolded.
“That’s kind of the point,” Denki replied, a devilish grin hidden behind his skeptical, “no duh” look.
Another wave of lightning struck out at the sky.
“What the hell do you mean Pikachu? What the fuck’re you talking about?” Bakugou growled, already tired of the game.
Kaminari grinned.
“Obviously I’m here doing this on purpose—that’s what I mean. This is all part of Deku’s plan! Pretty genius, right?” another bolt hit the sky as the heroes tried to take in what their old classmate—their comrade—was saying.
When the villain looked back at them and saw their confusion, he rolled his eyes.
“You guys are so dense, I swear,” he grumbled before turning and striking a mailbox with his lightning.
Mail exploded out of it. Being shredded and set on fire as it cascaded back down, out of the air.
“Hey!” Riot yelled.
Denki redirected his attention back to them, a dark look in his eyes.
“You guys haven’t seen me since I was fired.”
“Retired,” Bakugou corrected.
He’d said it factually, but still.
That wasn’t wise.
For some reason, that really set him off.
Denki was pissed.
Lightning rocked off Kaminari’s body. Hitting buildings and cars and anything its spiny electric fingers could reach. A ball of red, angry lightning striking for just a moment.
And still.
It was enough to cause tons of damage.
The three heroes had jumped back. Red Riot going full-steady, as he was calling it these days, his whole body rock hard as his friends used him as protection.
When the lightning stopped, they all gaped at Denki.
He should be fried from an attack like that, left a drooling, bumbling mess of a dork.
But there he was, glaring at them. Still standing. Still in his right mind. Not an ounce the goofball he should’ve turned into.
Clearly, they didn’t know this Denki Kaminari.
Not at all.
Glaring, Kaminari explained.
“I didn’t retire, I was FIRED. They told me I COULDN’T go back to hero work. That, since I’d lost my arm, I would be a hazard. Unstable. I told them to give me a better arm then. Make me stronger. I begged them to give me something better, not just a general prosthetic. But no. Those assholes didn’t listen. So, after just a year in the field, I was tossed aside. After all that training, and all that work, and after all that time I spent at school working my ass off, I was fired. Not even because I was bad at my job, but because I was injured. Because I sacrificed part of myself to save someone else. Like how heroes SHOULD do. And still! After that, I wasn’t worth anything to them. Those bastards.”
Even without the red static surging around him, they would’ve been able to feel it.
Kaminari wasn’t just angry.
He was bitter.
And furious.
“Yeah, I definitely didn’t retire, you hot-headed, blow-hard. I was FUCKING FIRED.”
The fact that Denki would dare insult Bakugou at all was shocking. But the fact that he roared the insults and swears at him?
It was even more disarming than the red lightning.
Denki didn’t give them a moment to collect themselves though.
“You know who saw potential in me though? Deku.” He said the name almost reverently. Gladly. Like the very name was a gift that he was bestowing upon the heroes.
“That guy took me in. Gave me an upgrade. Made me better than just Charge Bolt the hero.”
Red bolts shot at a building, digging into it like claws, causing half of it to fall.
It left the trio speechless.
“He made me Zeus’ Might, the villain.”
As he spoke, he rolled up his sleeve, removed his glove, revealing a mechanical arm.
And it was pretty wicked.
It was black metal. Dark. The electricity pulsed inside it, coursing in a way that you could see it under the metal, making it look strong. Deadly. There were tons of buttons and wires and do-dads in cases all over the arm, but it was also clear that those cases wouldn’t break.
That didn’t mean they shouldn’t try to break them though.
Bakugou felt that, if they managed to disable the arm, Denki would be back to where his quirk’s power used to lie. But, he couldn’t be sure until he’d done it.
And now wasn’t the time.
If he made a move now, he’d get blown to pieces.
For show, Denki charged his power. The arm lit up, glowing from the bicep down to the hand. Lightning shooting through it where the veins would be. Then Denki aimed it and released, shooting a bolt of lightning with the piece of equipment.
It blew a hole straight through three separate buildings, the fire that lingered from the blast causing even more alarms to go off.
It was a strange symphony of destruction. Destruction that was coming from Denki.
The trio of heroes was a bit rattled.
“Like it? I think it’s pretty cool. Plus, Deku made sure that it keeps me in check. I don’t get overcharged and short circuit. I’m not Kaminari the idiot anymore.”
That snapped Bakugou out of his daze.
“I think you are. If you weren’t an idiot, you wouldn’t be squaring up with US,” Ground Zero pointed out.
“Oh yeah?” Denki asked, using that trademark mischievous grin of his.
“Oh yeah. Doesn’t matter who you were, or what you did. What you’re doing now is wrong,” Ground Zero pointed out. “And we’re heroes, so it’s our job to stop you.”
“Oh? Why don’t you ever say the same thing to Deku when he shows up Kacchan? Is it because of that promise?”
Bakugou had been winding up, aiming his howitzer at Denki’s arm.
But he stopped.
Dead in his tracks, he stopped. Jaw going slack.
“WHAT?”
But before he could get an answer, Denki blasted more red lightning. It went haywire, shooting out in arcs, not as focused as before. Still, it struck pretty close. It forced the trio to take cover again.
“Damn,” Bakugou muttered.
Somehow, the sparky bastard heard him.
“Cuss words aren’t very heroic Kacchan.”
“I’m gunna rip his tongue out,” Bakugou muttered.
“Honey, no,” Uraraka warned.
“But he just—”
“I said NO Katsuki.”
He sighed, reluctant as ever. “FINE. Then how do we teach this has-been a lesson?”
“That’s mean Bakugou, he’s our friend,” Kirishima said.
And he’d clearly meant it.
Bakugou could see the crease lines, the worry, that marred Red Riot’s face. This was really hitting him where it hurt.
Because he was right.
The three of them had been friends.
They really had been.
At school and outside of school, the three of them spent a lot of time together. A lot. Whenever they weren’t doing homework, or when they weren’t trying to woe their favorite female (Bakugou’s had always been Uraraka), or whenever they weren’t at their parents’ houses visiting, or napping, the three of them were together. Training and working and playing dumb games that Denki seemed to make up as they went along. Hell, Denki had even been one of Bakugou’s groomsmen for crying out loud.
So, yeah.
Kirishima was right.
They were friends.
But, clearly, that was over. And Bakugou wasn’t one to shy away from facts.
He put his hand on Red Riot’s arm. Gave it a solid squeeze. It was the closest thing to comfort Kirishima would get from Bakugou, especially in this situation.
And the closest thing to understanding.
“He USED to be our friend. But friends don’t try to fry each other with lightning, right?”
It wasn’t the type of argument to give emotional closure, but it was solid. A home-run.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Kirishima muttered, still bothered.
In all honesty, Bakugou was bothered too.
Denki had always been the smiley one. Happy to include anyone and everyone. Just glad that people existed, and that he could be in their presence. Sure, he was dumb as a June bug in December, but still. A nice guy. A fun guy. Someone who had accepted Bakugou, despite Bakugou’s harsh attitude and rough nature.
They really had been friends.
But, as Bakugou said…
Friends don’t hit each other with lightning.
So, even if he and Kirishima hadn’t settled into the fact, it still remained:
Denki didn’t see them as friends.
Not anymore.
“We’re going to do an up-and-at-‘em, got it?” Bakugou asked.
His partners nodded. Kirishima was still troubled, but at least he was on board.
“We’ll knock some sense into static shock over there when we get to him, alright?” he reassured Riot.
Kirishima nodded, his face becoming determined as he did.
“Right.”
“Good, let’s go before that dingus kills someone. Then he’ll REALLY be in trouble.”
And then they were on the move.
Uravity canceled out their gravity. Ground Zero let off a flew blasts, sending a rock Denki’s way to make it seem like he was coming for him. In the meantime, Red Riot jumped into the air, going skyward like a bullet.
By the time the smoke cleared out, and Denki had already taken several missing shots with his lightning, Kirishima had used a building to bounce off of and was hovering over him. And Bakugou was hovering back behind their hiding spot, ready to back him up, just in case.
But that was unnecessary.
Because Kaminari never saw Red Riot coming.
He came crashing down like the fattest, most solid pigeon in existence.
And slammed his right fist right into Kaminari’s face.
A regular fist, not a rock-hard one. That’d kill him.
Yet.
When Kirishima’s fist connected with Kaminari’s face, somehow it still went south.
Something happened.
His fist went right into his smirking face. His grinning, mischievous face.
And his smile turned to sludge.
In fact.
All of him turned to sludge.
When the motion of the punch was through, Red Riot stumbled. Looked at his hand. Backed up. Looked to his teammates, confused by the sticky dark stuff on his knuckles.
For a moment, the trio was completely silent. Stunned. Confused.
“What the—”
“I KILLED HIM?!” Kirishima panicked, throwing his hands into his hair. Eyes practically bulging out from his cage-face mask.
“Calm the fuck down, you only hit him with your fist. Even if you HAD hit him with your quirk fully active, you shouldn’t have been able to turn him to slime,” Bakugou reasoned as he and Uravity made their way to where Denki had been.
The three leaned over the sludge. Doing their best to surmise what was going on with it.
In the end, even after the scene was scoured by the police, they would come up with nothing.
They weren’t sure how Kaminari did it.
But he did.
“Wow, that was a really hard hit Kirishima. Nice job. You’ve really been working out.”
If this were a few years ago, Eijiro would’ve beamed at the praise. Glad to take it in, share some of his work-out secrets with a friend.
But this wasn’t a few years ago.
This was now.
And, in the “now”, the three of them had just fought Denki Kaminari because he was a villain. Because he was shooting off his quirk, making a ruckus and hurting people and damaging property. And, in the “now”, Denki Kaminari wasn’t here.
He’d just been turned to slime.
And in the “now”?
They were somehow still hearing his voice.
The three heroes whipped around to see who was messing with them. To see what was going on. What villain could change his or her voice like that.
But it wasn’t a villain.
And no one was punking them.
Standing there, on a pile of rubble, stood Denki Kaminari. Zeus’ Might. Grinning and holding his metal fist in the air, just in front of his face. Lightning dancing gently over his knuckles.
Red lightning.
“Pretty good, but not really good enough. Not for me, or my boss, or my friends. We got stuff planned, see, and I have to be part of it. So, as fun as it was to chat, I’ve got to run.”
And with that, a black abyss opened behind Denki. A dark and swirling pit that opened like a whale’s mouth.
“Later,” Denki called cheerily before disappearing into the darkness.
And that was it.
That was that.
Their first encounter with Denk Kaminari the villain.
Zeus’ Might.
The friend they loved.
The friend they lost.
The friend they SHOULDN’T have lost.
The moment the dark portal was gone, Bakugou knew it was over. The jig was up. The adrenaline was gone.
Kirishima dropped to his kness.
And cried.

 

“Honeeeey, I’m hoooooome.”
Deku grinned at the return of his minion.
“Denki, welcome back,” he said, tone genuinely pleased. “It seems you’ve made all the headlines. Or, at least, your lightning seems to have struck home. I’m glad the gauntlet was able to change the color so well. Additionally, the press didn’t catch a single shot of you. I’m impressed.”
To prove it, he handed Kaminari a beer.
Which meant something.
Deku forbid Denki from drinking in his presence ever again, since the last time Denki got smashed he tried to kiss his boss.
Apparently, Deku wasn’t so carefree. Not as much as Denki, anyhow.
Smiling like a puppy, Denki gladly accepted the beer.
“Thanks boss, did it all for you. Well, and a little for me. Should’ve seen their faces when I hit the lights. Really had them going,” he grinned wickedly. “Oh, and Twice helped too, I guess.”
Sitting in the corner, Twice gave Denki a thumbs-up, “Glad to help!” and then, in the next instant, a thumbs-down, “You wouldn’t have stood a chance on your own. Your clone crumbled like a short-bread cookie at a day care.”
“So I’m not so tough,” Denki shrugged dramatically. “I’ll get stronger, I swear.”
But that really didn’t concern Deku. Not at all. Denki was playing his part perfectly as he was.
He patted Kaminari’s head. “You’re perfect just the way you are.”
Denki beamed. A puppy being praised by its owner.
Deku smirked.
“How did Kacchan react?”
“Huh?”
“To his old nickname, and to the reminder of the promise,” Deku clarified.
“Ooooh, yeah, yeah,” Denki sat on his bar stool so he was more properly facing his boss. Doing his best to mimic Katsuki’s attitude and demeanor, squaring his shoulders to bulk up. “He was all ‘what’, like, all angry and stuff, but that’s about as far as it got. You told me not to let him think too deeply on it, right?”
Deku scoffed. “Figures that’d be his response,” he muttered. Then, aloud, he said, “Yes, you did splendid work today Denki. I couldn’t be happier. I’m ecstatic to see your next appearance.”
Static in his smile, Denki beamed.
He couldn’t be happier.

Chapter Text

That night, when they got home, Bakugou was silent.
As he took off his clothes, as he got in the shower, as he climbed into bed.
Bakugou said nothing.
And he didn’t have to.
Long ago, Uraraka had learned how to read him. Not in an exact way—there was no science or observation skill or quirk on the planet that could accomplish that, not with Bakugou—but well enough to understand.
Bakugou was still processing.
Still thinking things through.
He needed some space, some time to think. Because, to him, this wasn’t the same as a falling out.
This was like losing a friend entirely.
Not that Denki was dead, but, to Bakugou, he might as well be. After all, the person who had attended their wedding? The guy who made the dumbest jokes? Who was constantly bringing people together with a smile?
That guy wasn’t here anymore.
Denki Kaminari wasn’t dead in a physical sense.
But he was gone in most of the ways that mattered.
And it wasn’t likely that they’d be able to bring him back.
And Bakugou—being the practical guy he was—had probably already figured that out.
He just needed time to accept it.
So, by the time he got in bed, he was ready.
Facing away from Ochaco, Katsuki Bakugou did the one thing he absolutely abhorred. The thing he was most embarrassed of. That made him burn inside.
He cried.
At first, he tried to cry silently. But, that’s a skill he’s never really had, unfortunately.
So when the sobs started racking his body, shaking the bed, Uraraka couldn’t help but notice.
And she didn’t ask. Didn’t pry. She already knew why he was crying, so there was no need for that.
Instead, she curled up behind him. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she buried her face in his back.
And she nodded.
That’s all.
No words. No sounds. Just a nod. An acknowledgement of understanding.
She understood he was hurting. He had every right to hurt over this. And she didn’t mind, not in the slightest. In fact, it was the opposite. She held him because she wanted him to know.
She was here.
That was all it was. A silent way of telling him that she was present, and that she would be for as long as he’d let her. She’d sit here all night with him, every night, and hold him if he wanted. Because she was here.
And that was all he needed.
For a moment, Bakugou grabbed her hands, held them to his stomach as he cried his hot, angry tears. But, after a few moments, he got sick of that.
With a swiftness you wouldn’t believe, Bakugou flipped himself over to face his wife. And then, just as quickly, he buried his face in her chest. Avoided letting her see his face covered in red, splotches and tears, but still.
He let her hold him.
And she did so gladly.
One hand sifting through his hair, the other rubbing hypnotic circles on his back, Ochaco held her husband. Held him until the sobs stopped, and the tears had dried up. Held him until he’d cried himself silly, and then she even held him as they slept.
And that night, for the first time since the billboards incident, Bakugou slept well.
Really well.

 

Every day was chaos.
Chaos.
Red lightning popped up at random times, all over the city. And, although they suspected it was just Denki trying to raise hell, the public wasn’t convinced. Not so easily, and not nearly fast enough to keep damage to a minimum.
Not enough to keep damage at a moderate level, even.
Because when the red lightning showed up, they thought the same thing The Shooting Stars had on that first day:
It was Deku.
And he was here to take quirks.
Additionally, they had yet to capture evidence to prove otherwise. No one had taken a single picture of Denki yet.
And so, the red lightning instilled fear. Both in the civilians, and the heroes.
They had the same thought process up to that point—the heroes and the people—but they diverged after that.
The heroes thought to use their quirks to stop Deku. To create more order. To help others. Stop the chaos.
But the general public?
Not so much.
Most people panicked. Started using their quirks on the spot, regardless of whether it would be helpful or not. All in a panicked bid to prove to Deku that they weren’t useless. That they weren’t stagnant, hiding their powers.
They were using their quirks.
When the red lightning showed up, chaos ensued. Not because of Denki. In fact, after that first encounter, the damages that he, himself, caused were minimal. Tiny things. Small cosmetic issues mostly.
The damage the public created was much worse.
So much worse.
And Bakugou was torn.
Did Deku mean for this to happen? Did he want generalized chaos? Was that why he was scaring people into using their quirks like this?
Or was this another example? A way to show them that they relied on heroes too much? That, really, when it came down to it, their quirks really were useless to them?
Because, as far as Bakugou could tell, the public’s quirks WERE useless. With the way most people used them, there was no tact. It wasn’t helpful in the slightest. At least, right now it wasn’t.
Most of them didn’t use their quirks that often. At least, not the people whose quirk COULD be helpful in a fight. So the more powerful ones got out of hand real fast when the lightning showed up.
It was a catastrophe.
Every day.
Because Denki would show up.
Every day.
At least once. Sometimes twice or three times. And, every day, some hero would fight Denki. Would pound him into the dirt.
And he’d become sludge.
And appear again the next day.
Grinning wickedly, spewing lightning like he was Zeus’s personal arsenal, and never getting caught.
Honestly, Bakugou wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take.
It was getting exhausting.
Which is, of course, when some good news arrived.
Finally.
Uravity came into his office in a hurry. Sweat beading on her forehead, her eyes excited. And she wasn’t alone. Red Riot was right behind her, his image a mirror to hers.
“What the hell have you two been doing?” he asked.
When they both grinned, it was a bit disarming.
“We just got some news!”
“EXCELLENT news,” Kirishima added.
“Oh yeah? Spill,” Bakugou demanded, kicking the chairs in front of his desk to motion that they sit down.
They did.
And, of course, his wife immediately began talking.
“We were just out, doing patrols, when we saw the strangest thing.”
“Red lightning,” Kirishima interjected.
“And so, of course, we went toward it—”
“Without ME?” Bakugou growled.
“Shh, just listen,” Uravity demanded, bowling over his unnecessary worry, continuing with her story. “So we followed the lightning and, of course, Kaminari was there. But, he didn’t see us at first, and so we decided to spy on him and see if maybe he was hiding something.”
She paused.
Bakugou wasn’t sure if it was to be dramatic, or if she was trying to figure out how to say what she wanted to say. Either way, it made him mad.
“And? Spit it out!”
“There were two of them,” Red Riot interjected, right as Uravity went to answer.
She gave him a pouty look—the kind that made Bakugou’s heart squeeze, and made his hands antsy—so he decided to throw her a bone.
“What’s he means pink cheeks?”
“He means,” she began, all too excited to explain, “that there were two Kaminaris. Two of them. We stayed hidden for a while, and then Dabi showed up and blasted one of them with his fire. He didn’t see the other one because it was hidden. But the one he blasted? It turned to sludge.”
“And what about the other one?” Ground Zero asked, always one for the good questions.
“We flushed that one out. It was an easy take down with Dabi there,” Riot replied. “But that one turned to sludge too.”
Bakugou mulled that over a bit. Turning it like butter in his mind. Making it into something he could use.
“So, what you’re saying is: there are multiple Pikachus running around, blasting red lightning like he’s hot shit, and they’re all mush?”
They both nodded.
“That’s our theory anyway,” Uravity said.
“Yeah, I mean, it makes sense, right? I mean Kaminari might not be involved at all if that’s the case,” Red Riot said.
Bakugou shook his head. “Don’t get your hopes up Kiri, that’ll just make it worse.” He went back to business mode. “Did you two get pictures?”
Uravity nodded.
“Good. We need to call Tsukauchi right away and relay the info. At the very least, he can get the image out to the public. Maybe it’ll help somehow,” Bakugou said, already reaching for the phone.
“I’ll call Dabi. You know Tsukauchi—he likes to be thorough,” Red Riot said as he grabbed his phone and left Bakugou’s office.
It took only four seconds to get Tsukauchi to agree to come to their office. It was a very short phone call.
And Red Riot was still in the hallway—or his own office maybe—trying to get ahold of Dabi.
Which left him alone with his wife for a few moments.
His wonderful, brilliant wife who had just snagged some extremely important evidence.
Man.
She was fucking awesome.
“Think this’ll really help anything?” she asked.
Bakugou hardly listened though.
For some reason, there was a fire in his belly. As she was talking, he had been completely focused—he was a hero, after all. But, in the back of his mind, there was a nagging. Something like a facet dripping.
And he was thirsty.
Bakugou got up and rounded his desk to look at Ochaco.
He didn’t stand before his wife very long though. Instead, he grabbed the arm rests of her chair and leaned forward.
Clearly, she wasn’t expecting that.
“I don’t think I’ve given you a good, proper kiss in a while Angel. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time,” he said, looking into her beautifully brown eyes. The way they sparkled at all times, like they had some kind of internal light source in them.
Those warm brown eyes looked down, away from his red ones.
“Well, we’ve been busy. And things haven’t really been easy on you, so…”
“Don’t make excuses for me Angelcakes,” he commanded, his voice gentle as he cupped one of her plushy cheeks in one of his hands. “There’s not a single one I’ll let fly.”
And then, before she could even react, he was kissing her.
Kissing her passionately, deeply. It took her by surprise, but there was only a moment of hesitation before she returned the kiss. Mirroring her husband’s passion and love.
And there was a lot of that.
A lot.
Katsuki burned inside. His body was so fiery, he felt like he was holding up a big explosion inside himself. Leaning over Uraraka, he tried to convey to her how much she meant to him. How she was the only one he felt so warm with. How he was so grateful that she felt the same.
How grateful…
Yeah.
How many nights had she stayed up, worrying over him? How many times did she come in to check on him? To urge him to take a rest? Way too many. Bakugou was a grown-up, and things like resting should be on his priority list since rest was what fueled good work.
But lately, he’d been letting everything get to him.
It seemed like they were down the rabbit hole, and there was just no end to this nightmare Wonderland.
But there was.
There would be.
And she’d be one of the ones who’d help him find it. He knew it.
And, although it hadn’t happened yet, and they were still deep in the woods, he was still grateful to her. Grateful for their future. That she decided that she wanted to spend it together, with him.
He was so lucky.
“So damn lucky,” he muttered, peppering Uraraka’s face with kisses. Swift pecks that showered her with warmth as he continued his adoration. “I can’t believe such a wonderful, sexy hero like yourself would be with such an asshole like me. Damn Ochaco, you’re amazing.”
It was small, but he still saw it.
She shuddered.
And then she leaned up, deepening their kiss.
It sent volts into his veins like nothing else did.
Made his entire body tingle with warm energy. Energy that could grow. That promised more. Energy that wanted to give, and take. Energy that wanted to grow until there was something like fire, or hail, or storms inside of him.
And he wanted that.
Oh, he so badly wanted that.
Wanted to give in to that energy. That flow. The heat and the power and the electricity. He wanted to give everything he was into that energy. Wanted to feed that thing inside him that demanded.
He wanted more.
Things were delving into dangerous territory now.
And he knew it. Even as he jumped the river of thought and went straight onto the land of action, he knew it.
Things were getting a little too hot.
And he was sitting there, fanning the flames.
Bakugou knew how Uraraka was when he kissed her neck. How it drove her mad. How much she absolutely loved it. It put her into overdrive ridiculously fast.
But they were still at the office. Waiting to meet up with Dabi, the cool-flame hero, and Detective Tsukauchi, which meant that they couldn’t leave.
Yet.
But Bakugou’s self-control had never been that great when it came to Ochaco.
Which meant he wasn’t just fanning the flames anymore.
He was dumping gasoline onto them.
Bakugou blazed a trail of kisses down her neck anyway, despite knowing it wasn’t a good choice. Murmuring about how cute she was. How much he loved her. How incredible she was as a hero, and a wife, and how proud he was that she was his. Anything and everything he could think of, really, was whispered into her neck as he planted kiss after kiss there.
And he could tell:
It was driving her insane.
“Katsuki…”
It was a plea and a whine all in one.
The response in his system was instinctive. Completely animal.
Bakugou rumbled in response. All of his systems fully firing now. Ready to give in to the fire in his belly.
“I thought you two were professionals. This doesn’t seem very professional to me.”
There was a moment of stunned silence. His wife stiffening up beneath him.
He sighed.
Uraraka froze, mortified. Bakugou simply lifted his head a few inches to see who was at his office door, an annoyed look on his face.
Of course.
It was that undead bastard.
Dabi.
“Tch, finally. Been waiting forever,” Bakugou remarked, leaning against the desk to give Ochaco space. Space so she could calm down.
Dabi gave him a glare. “No you weren’t. I was down the street when Kirishima called. You couldn’t have been waiting more than five minutes.”
“Yeah? What the hell were you doing so close?”
Dabi’s glare intensified. “It isn’t like you own this block, short-fuse. Being a hero has nothing to do with turf wars. Besides, ‘s not like I’m on this street ‘cause I wanna be. I was assigned here, moron.”
Bakugou growled.
Which was, as usual, Kirishima’s cue.
“Well, now we’re just waiting on Tsukauchi,” he said cheerily. He turned to Dabi. “Want something to eat? Or drink? We’ve got some stuff in the fridge.”
Dabi smiled at Kirishima—at least, as much as Dabi COULD smile, anyway—which was a shock to Bakugou.
Well, actually, only kind of.
Everyone loved Kirishima.
“I’ll take a water,” Dabi replied. “Thanks man.”
“Sure thing bro,” Kirishima replied, leaving the room.
Which left three heroes, sitting there feeling quite awkward.
Quite.
It had Bakugou convinced:
This meeting was going to be hell.

Chapter Text

They had surmised that someone was using a cloning quirk to make multiple Kaminaris. That’s how he was cropping up so fast and never getting caught. It wasn’t even him in the field.
It was a clone.
That said, most of the heroes got that information, and they took it to mean one thing:
No need to hold back.
If Denki ever did go out into the field for real, Bakugou would feel bad for the guy.
He’d get slaughtered.
After the meeting with Tsukauchi and Dabi, Bakugou accidentally bumped into Dabi in the alleyway behind his agency. Bakugou had been sent to take out the trash, and Dabi had been doing… well, Bakugou wasn’t sure what the hell he’d been doing.
He stood there, leaning against the wall. As if he were waiting for Bakugou.
“Hey,” he greeted meaningfully.
“Yeah? What do you want?” Bakugou practically snarled.
Cooler than CoolWhip, Dabi simply looked away, as if checking for eavesdroppers, then back at Bakugou.
“There’s something strange afoot. Not just the lightning guy and the quirk stealing, but something else.”
His voice was heavier than it usually was. More urgent somehow. Though Bakugou wasn’t sure why.
“If you’ve got something you wanna say, then just fuckin’ say it,” Bakugou demanded. Tired of beating around the bush already.
He was tired, and horny, and all he wanted to do was go home with his wife so he could pick up where they left off before Dabi interrupted.
And the undead bastard…
He was taking his sweet time answering.
Dabi looked around, as if mulling over his answer, but eventually he shrugged. “Don’t know what it is. Not really. But the atmosphere… it’s changing.”
That made Bakugou present real quick.
Because he couldn’t disagree.
He’d felt it.
The way people watched them as they walked down the street. As they watched each other. People weren’t smiling happily, carefree, like they had been before. Things were different.
It’d been less than a year since All Might’s mysterious retirement, and still.
It could be felt.
Their ever-smiling hero…
He wasn’t here anymore.
Bakugou felt in his gut that, if All Might were still around, he’d be able to kick Deku’s ass. Be able to put a stop to this nonsense. People would feel more at ease, despite the lightning strikes. That they wouldn’t panic as bad. Wouldn’t be using their quirks out in the streets, going out of control.
But All Might wasn’t here.
And the atmosphere reflected it.
So, when Dabi said that, Bakugou couldn’t deny it.
He nodded.
“If we heroes aren’t careful, people might change the way they’re thinking about us. Change the way they feel.” Dabi pushed off the wall, walking out of the alley. At the mouth, he called back over his shoulder, “Be careful Ground Zero. Nobody knows what’s coming next.”
“No shit Sherlock.”
But Dabi just waved.
“Catch you later Blasty.”
“Back at you Skellington.”
Dabi’s smirk could just barely be seen as he walked out of the alley.
“Shoto says hi, by the way.”
“Tell half-‘n-half to piss off.”
“Will do,” he called as he waved around the corner.
And with that, Dabi was gone.
He still gave Bakugou the creeps.
But.
At least he wasn’t a stick in the mud.

 

“I need to bite.”
Denki nearly dropped his soda.
“What?”
Deku repeated himself, leering into his drink. “I need to bite again before we start looking like we’re all bark.”
Denki nodded, as if that made sense to him. “Right boss. So, what do you have in mind?”
Deku smirked. One of those smirks that meant he had a devious, devilish plan. One that set off hyena cackles in the back of Denki’s mind.
“Something awful. Isn’t that right Todoroki?”
From the corner of the room, their newest team mate acknowledged Deku’s claim by saying, “Not awful. Not exactly. He’ll deserve it.”
A blue flame danced in between his fingers. Hungry, and looking surprisingly cold for a flame.
“They all do,” Deku retorted casually, sipping at his drink.
Deku reminisced. Thought about that night. The one that changed everything. His broken dream. His shattered life.
The broken promise.
“They all do,” he repeated, this time with feeling.
It sent shivers down Denki’s spine.

 

Kaminari had taken things too far this time.
Bakugou felt it in his bones.
Fury.
He’d fucked with him, and fucked with Kirishima, and that was painful. That sucked, yeah. That had been like a dump truck full of dynamite and piranhas had run him over, for sure.
But this?
This was worse.
Somehow, Denki figured out that the heroes knew he was a clone. Maybe he’d figured it out because no one was holding back anymore, but still. Apparently, he knew, and had said “fuck it” or something.
Every day that he made an appearance, he’d make several.
All at once.
All over the city.
And they still weren’t sure how the hell he was doing THAT part of this fucked up magic trick. Really, that was bad enough. Almost more chaos than the heroes could handle, what with all the civilians trying to use their quirks to defend themselves and failing—hurting each other and causing boatloads of damage. That sucked bad enough.
But this?
Uravity in the hospital?
That pissed him the fuck off.
“If that stupid spark plug gets anywhere near here, I’m gunna short circuit his man parts permanently,” he threatened darkly as he and Kirishima patrolled the perimeter.
“I just want you to know bro, that kinda sounds like a come-on,” Red Riot pointed out.
“It fucking doesn’t.”
“It does. Especially when you defend it with the ‘fuck’ word.”
“Tch, whatever. Point is: I’m going to murder that guy.”
“Oh-ho, that doesn’t sound very heroic,” Kirishima teased.
Ground Zero nearly smacked Red Riot across the face right then and there. “You’re an idiot.”
“Yeah, sometimes. But, I do know a thing or two occasionally.”
“Occasionally,” Bakugou allowed.
“Like how Ochaco wouldn’t want you blowing your lid over this.”
Kirishima had just dove head-first into dangerous territory. If there was one thing Bakugou hated, it was being told what to do. Only his wife could do it, and everyone who knows him understands that.
However.
Bakugou also hated when people tried to use her as a shield. A mouthpiece to get him to do whatever.
Kirishima was walking a thin line.
But it was one he had walked before.
And he was a pro on the tightrope.
“She’s only in the hospital for another day. That’s all. Her injures weren’t anything to shake a stick at, sure, and it could’ve been worse, but it wasn’t. She’ll be back with us in two days, and in the meantime, you just gotta keep your cool. That way she’s got a hero agency to come back to, right?”
Katsuki clenched his jaw.
Man.
He hated when Kirishima was right.
“Yeah,” he grumbled anyway. Just to prove he was listening.
It made his best friend happy.
But Kirishima knew better than to push it.
So he changed the subject.
“I wonder how Jiro is doing. I hear she didn’t get the brunt of the damage, but… man. That must be rough.”
Bakugou couldn’t disagree.
Sure, he hated that Uraraka was in the hospital—it made him worry like nothing else could, and the house seemed so empty and cold without her—but he figured that, somehow, Jirou really did have it rough. More so than Uraraka.
I mean, really—the guy you were engaged to disappears for a year without a trace and then shows up as a villain? Shows up and tries to convince you that it’s alright? That the “revolution” he’s trying to start will help you? That he isn’t really the bad guy?
And then, on top of all that, you’re a hero so it’s your job to fight him?
Yeah.
Bakugou could see how she was having a tough time.
To Kirishima, he said, “Apparently, she feels real bad about what happened. Hasn’t left Ocha’s side.”
That stilled their voices. Left them wandering in their own heads for a bit. Brooding.
After a few moments, Kirishima thought it would be best to change the subject. Again.
“When’s this meeting supposed to start anyway? Are we just patrolling indefinitely?”
Bakugou shrugged.
“Dunno. Sweet cheeks usually keeps track of that stuff…”
The other boy made a thoughtful noise. “Yeah… your wife kicks ass.”
Bakugou let loose with a wolfish grin. “Hell yeah she does.”
“Also, why is this press conference so minimal? And so secret? I don’t get that.”
Ground Zero made a “tch” sound.
“Because, you dork, we’re on high alert after bolt brain’s last lightning session. It was a level three destruction and required level five rescue.”
Seven was the highest they went for either of those. One being the lowest, seven the highest.
Level seven anything was usually dealt with by a large-scale hero team, and it usually included hired backup. Level five was pretty bad too, though.
That’s why this was a semi-secret meeting.
They were no longer treating Denki like a low-rank villain.
He was a full-scale threat now.
After tearing ten skyscrapers back to earth, it was about fucking time.
Personally, Bakugou thought it didn’t matter how strong Denki was. Or how much destruction he caused. The fact that he was working for Deku—well, supposedly he was, there wasn’t actually solid proof of that yet, just his claims, so they weren’t saying he definitely was yet, which was another bullshit move in Bakugou’s humble opinion—made him a big threat in Katsuki’s mind. That alone made him the real deal. Anyone connected to Deku wasn’t dicking around. Which meant:
Denki was dangerous.
Since The Shooting Stars’ first fight with him, Bakugou had been preaching that.
It was a bit late, but he was glad they were finally coming around and believing it.
Though it did kind of piss him off that he wasn’t the one giving speeches today. (In all honesty, that was probably for the best.)
It would be Endeavor.
Considering he was the Number One and all, it sort of made sense. Sure, he didn’t hold the same atmosphere as All Might did, but he was still Number One. Still the guy people had to look up to. Still tougher than a brick wall mounted on the back of a dragon.
Endeavor was nothing to sneeze at.
Not when it came to power.
Being classmates with Shoto, Bakugou felt differently about the hero. Truly, when it came to Endeavor, he felt unsure. He knew what that guy had done to Shoto. Knew he was an ass. And still, he couldn’t fully hate the guy. Partially because he was still a hero. Still saving lives.
But also because, recently, he’d seemed different to Bakugou.
Really different.
He could see it reflected in his sons, too.
When they shared the stage—which was seldom, but it did happen from time to time—his sons no longer glared at him. No longer looked like they were slowly melting in his presence. Or like they were standing in the mouth of Satan himself.
They looked…
Different.
Shoto was hard to read. Always had been. But there wasn’t as much sharpness in his eyes. Not as much antagonism. Hell, Bakugou had even witnessed him shake his father’s hand in the past few months, which was a real shocker.
And Dabi?
Well, it was strange, but Dabi looked at him differently too. Not so much like one alpha dog to another, but more like a tornado sizing up a wildfire. Two separate species, yet still powerful works of nature, still acknowledging each other. That kind of a feel. He didn’t look at Endeavor in that “one of us HAS to go” kind of way anymore. Granted, Bakugou didn’t know Dabi as well as he knew Shoto, but still.
It felt like progress.
And Endeavor was making strides with the public as well. Not trying to disassemble his “lone wolf” vibes. But trying to work them for the better. Spinning them to make him look strong. Like a wolf howling at the full moon, hovering nearby to protect. All Might had been like a father figure to society. A guardian angel. And Endeavor could never pull that off.
But aloof protector?
Yeah.
That he could manage.
And, as of a few months ago, he’d been doing a hell of a job with it. Public opinion about Endeavor had really started to go up.
So yeah.
Bakugou kind of wished he could tell the cameras “I told you so” to their faces, but.
It wasn’t really a good time, and it wasn’t really his place.
And, yeah, he still had mixed feelings about Endeavor, and there was no way to know for sure.
But…
It seemed like the guy was trying.
Regardless, they weren’t here to pass judgement. The two of them had been drafted to keep an eye on the meeting. Make sure things went smoothly. That nobody got hurt, and no villains were able to break through.
They weren’t in the meeting at all. Not really. They were outside, patrolling. Like the good little guard dogs they were. Waiting for the show to start.
And, boy howdy, were they in for a shock when it did.
They expected to see Endeavor on the tv screens that were set up at the end of every hallway. See him standing behind a podium, speaking about the red lightning and how it was mostly Denki, and how he was now considered extremely dangerous. They expected to see him on the tv, talking to the press. Or maybe the press talking back and forth with him. Something like that.
They weren’t expecting to see Deku.
And they weren’t expecting to see Denki.
And they weren’t expecting to see Endeavor captured in Deku’s lightning.
But, at the start of the meeting, that’s what they saw.
And that, in and of itself, sucked. But what came next was even worse.
Much worse.

Chapter Text

“Good evening,” Deku greeted evenly.
It was maddening.
Just when Bakugou thought things might be dying down, taking a turn for the better, HE would show up again.
And things would suck.
“Let’s go,” he urged Red Riot.
“Right.”
The two set off at a sprint. Heading back the way they came.
As they ran, they caught glimpses of what was going on in the TVs they passed. And whatever they didn’t see, they heard through the speakers.
“Hey Boss, why don’t you have the camera dude back up some? Endeavor isn’t fully in the shot, and it’s wiggin’ me out.”
“Oh? Step back then please. Get Endeavor in the shot as well.”
“Yeah, like, his full body and stuff.”
“How’s that Denki?”
“Much better Boss, ten outta ten.”
“Good. We can continue.”
“Fucking morons,” Bakugou grumbled as they ran.
He caught a glimpse of Deku looking smugly at the camera, wearing another dapper suit.
Damn this fucking nerd.
He kept showing up, at the worst times, ready to wreck whatever peace Bakugou had just barely managed to assemble, all while looking ridiculously fucking good.
What a fucking asshole.
He was really starting to piss Bakugou off.
“Tonight, I bring to you a gift. Another reminder. I have to say, you’ve done splendidly so far. At least, as far as the citizens are concerned. When the lightning shows, you suddenly become bolder. Unafraid to use your quirks for yourselves. To fight back. I couldn’t be more proud of you all for that,” Deku purred out of the screens.
It made Bakugou even angrier.
He moved faster down the hall.
“However, the heroes have responded in a… less than stellar way. Almost callous toward you citizens. Calling your quirk usage ‘dangerous’ and ‘a menace’. As if, for some reason, their quirks are inherently better. As if they, for some reason, are better equipped to handle your protection than you are.”
“We are,” Bakugou ground out as they ran.
He didn’t spend his high school years getting his ass kicked by Eraserhead for nothing. All those classes, and all those battles, and all those struggles—they were all to make him a better hero. To help him learn to use his quirk better. And, as much as he hated to admit it, it hadn’t happened over night. It had come with patience, and practice, and training.
Which was something most civilians didn’t have.
Deku carried on, ignoring how bold his claim was.
“Though, I do wonder: how should you feel when you’re being protected by malice? By men fueled with jealousy? Rage? What are your heroes beneath their costumes? Are they standup citizens? Do they truly have hearts for justice? Or do you simply clap for them because they can take down bad guys and save people? Do you truly know the people who stand above you? Does it matter to you, I wonder? Would you care to know them? Or would you discard facts in favor of strength? Is that all there is to being a hero?”
“Damn,” Bakugou muttered as they flew down the hallway. “He’s about to pull some shit again.”
“Right,” Kirishima replied, sounding less than thrilled. “But, how do we stop it? We can’t go barging in through the front door.”
Bakugou nodded. “We need the element of surprise. Remember those grenades they set out in the break room? Those weren’t flashbang grenades. They’re full of sleeping gas.”
“Oooh, right! I see where you’re going with this,” Kirishima grinned now as they ran, pointy teeth accentuating his smile. Making it a hunter’s grin. “Good thinking Ground Zero.”
Bakugou grinned back. “Didja expect anything less from me, hair for brains?”
But their banter died off because they knew:
They had to hurry.
They passed another screen, saw Endeavor clutched in Deku’s lightning fingers. The way his eyes were vacant. Empty.
They had to hurry.
“This man is abusive. Fueled by anger. By jealousy. This man hurt his own family in order to gain what he has now. Hurt so many. Strangers, enemies, friends. People he was supposed to love. He ignores those in need, favoring the more heroic stunts instead. A monster bent on stealing the spotlight. That’s all this man is. Someone consumed by greed. Consumed by his thirst. This man cares for nothing but the number one hero position. He will do anything to be able to keep his claim to it. Tell me…”
There was a pause.
Minute, but still existent.
“Damnit,” Bakugou muttered.
Theatrics and Deku weren’t a good mix.
Not a good sign.
Not at all.
“What will you do, I wonder, with this hero gone? Will he be a legend, like All Might? Or will he fade like the other passing idols? A setting sun in the wake of a thousand setting suns…”
Bakugou chanced a glance at a tv.
And he felt his stomach drop.
Lightning surged. Not outward, but inward. Glowing inside those bramble-like fingers of Deku’s. Glowing, and pulsing, and, if you looked hard enough, you could see what they were really doing.
Eating.
Those fingers were leeching Endeavor’s… something… away.
Bakugou would bet his life on what it was.
They were nearly out of time.
They didn’t bother with the door. Instead, Red Riot charged at it with a rock fist, breaking it down. Ground Zero was on his heels and, in an instant, the two of them snapped up all the sleeping gas grenades. Turning on a dime, the two were rushing back out the door, back to the room where the cameras were.
Deku’s voice was clearer than ever as he continued his monologue.
“I said that I’d bring you a gift tonight. The people have responded excellently to my call. My cry for accountability. And now, it’s time the heroes answer as well. Those who stand above. Who are called to go beyond. Heroes are those who stand in the ruin and wreckage. They’re the ones who are supposed to uphold truth, justice, all the things that society holds dear. They’re the ones who’re supposed to be protecting our smiles. How can a man protect the smile of strangers when he shatters the smiles of those closest to him? How can a hero provide comfort for others when he makes his own family shudder in fear? How can a hero be a hero at all if he can’t be held to a higher standard?
“I’ll give you the answer:
“He can’t.”
There was a loud cry over the speakers. A gurgling sort of whine. Crackling could also be heard, like a thousand whips the size of the equator were lashing around the room all at once.
The duo put more effort into their pace. Forcing themselves to go faster, to keep their footing, to stay upright as they flew down the halls.
They were nearly out of time.
“Tonight, I bring the citizens a gift: accountability for your heroes. When they are no longer afraid to hide their indecencies, we will know how true to their calling they are.”
“Damnit,” Bakugou cursed under his breath, with more feeling than ever before.
Because he knew.
It was too late.
As they passed the screens, they could see the lightning pulse in Deku’s fingers. Sucking away the fire inside of Endeavor.
Taking his quirk.

Chapter Text

When they reached the room, they threw the smoke grenades in carefully. Being sure that they weren’t in the open as they tossed them, and that they weren’t in Denki’s sights. Luckily, they accomplished the task without getting struck by lightning.
On the TV screen, they could see the smoke start to fill the room. The gas moved quickly, the dense fog covering the lens of the camera until there were only shadows moving through it. Vague figures and shapes rather than people.
Denki wobbled a bit. Gave a hefty yawn. His voice was thick with sleep when he spoke, and his speech petered off toward the end.
“Oh boss, I am so sleepy. I think I gotta take a snooze. Just a real quick one. Right here on the floor is good, right? Right.”
Before Denki could fall, Deku was suddenly there, catching him.
He lifted Denki under his arm as if he were nothing but a pillow.
The bastard.
Turning, Deku smirked at the cameras.
Clearly the gas was having no effect on him at all.
For some DUMB FUCKING REASON.
Katsuki couldn’t believe this horseshit.
“I think that, for tonight, that will be all. Remember that I am here, and I’ll continue watching, both citizens and heroes. Be on your best behavior. Don’t be useless.”
And, from the screen, Bakugou could see the portal open up. A dark swirling abyss like the one Denki went through the first time.
And they’d caught it on camera.
Not that it really did anything for them in the moment.
Deku and Denki were gone, and they’d left a few parting presents.
A quirkless number one hero.
And a fire that raced out of Deku’s hands as he disappeared into the swirling darkness.
Great.

 

Because of the gas, they hadn’t been able to get to Endeavor and the news folks right away. In their haste—their justified maniacal pace—they had forgotten to grab themselves gas masks. They had to wait for the stuff to clear before they could rush in and assess the situation.
And it wasn’t good.
But it wasn’t all bad either.
The fire was small. It grew rapidly, yes, but it didn’t get to anyone. It wasn’t as fast as the two pros waiting outside the door. Which was a good thing. They’d have gotten hell six ways from Sunday if their stunt ended up being what killed someone. Gotten hell from the press, and themselves. Neither of them dealt well with guilt.
That would’ve really sucked.
But, even so, the situation wasn’t good.
Now Endeavor was in the hospital, still unconscious. Everyone was waiting to see if he had his quirk still or not.
Well.
Everyone but Bakugou was waiting.
He already knew the answer to that one.
“Damnit, I was so close,” he grabbed handfuls of his hair in frustration.
How could he have overlooked something like two villains sneaking in to the meeting? How had Deku and Kaminari even gotten in, anyway? How did they know about the meeting in the first place?
It was eating him up.
His wife rested a hand on his forearm. A warmth that he could in no way deny spread through him. Releasing his hair, he held Uraraka’s hand.
She was giving him a pained look. Like the whole situation had hurt her, even though she hadn’t been there. Even though she hadn’t been fighting. Even though she hadn’t been hurt that day.
She squeezed his hand.
He squeezed hers back.
“I was so worried about you.”
It set Bakugou’s heart on edge. Hearing her say that, in that tone.
It was worse than being beaten by Deku a million times over.
“Baby, I—” he began, but then stopped.
There were tears in her eyes now.
Tears.
Bakugou’s jaw nearly dropped.
“I never know what to expect when Deku shows up. You know? And he seems to have a personal vendetta against you. When I saw him on my TV, I was sure that’s why he was there. I started to panic. I didn’t think I’d be able to breathe. I was so, so scared Katsuki.” She sniffled, and he moved closer to her. “I wasn’t even there. What could’ve happened to you? If I think about it, I might just lose my mind. Usually, our jobs are dangerous, but we’re right there with each other. Making each other stronger. And I knew Shima was there, and I felt like that would be enough for any other villain. But with Deku?” she shook her head, and Bakugou could feel the tremors in her hand now. “I don’t even know if I’M enough.”
“Bullshit,” Bakugou growled, jumping into the hospital bed with her, as quickly and carefully as he could.
He wasn’t supposed to be in the bed, and he knew that—he’d already been told over twelve times—but to hell with the rules.
He was going to hold his wife damnit, whenever and wherever he wanted.
ESPECIALLY if she was about to cry.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Uraraka turned her face into his chest, buried it there. Bakugou wasn’t sure if she was crying or not, but it didn’t matter to him. Either way, it was clear she needed him, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to be there when she needed him.
He held her tightly. Not uncomfortably so, but enough that she knew for sure.
He was there.
And he wasn’t going anywhere.
“You’re more than enough Angel. Don’t forget that. No matter what comes our way, we can handle it if we’re together. I’ve got you, and you’ve got me, too. Together, we’re the world’s greatest power-couple. No one can take us down. Got it? No one. Not even that shitty quirk-thief.”
She nodded into his chest, and he could feel how uneven her breathing was.
He’d never felt so much pain in his chest before. Never.
“If it makes you feel better, we’ll train harder, okay? More combat focus. For all three of us. We’ll do more in dodging and blocking, alright? We’ll figure out a way to beat that broccoli-headed bastard, and, until we do, we’ll dodge like there’s no tomorrow. Okay?”
Again, she nodded, but this time he felt more reassured. Probably because she felt more reassured.
Curling into him more, his wife wrapped her arms around him, the pressure of her hold matching his own.
It was more comfortable that way.
Much more comfortable.
So comfortable, that Bakugou didn’t want to move.
And he didn’t.
When the nurse came in and found them asleep on the bed, with her in his arms, she was livid.
Not that Bakugou cared.

Chapter Text

“We all know why we’re here.”
In all honesty, they did not know why they were all there.
But Bakugou did.
He’d been grilled, over and over again about that night. The night when the number one pro hero lost his quirk to a villain.
On live television.
Yeah, that was kind of an important night. Somewhat of a game-changer. I mean, if the number one hero wasn’t safe from that guy, who was?
No one.
That’s what the public thought.
And so now, the police were doing triple-overtime. Working their asses off even more than before to put the kabosh on this madness. To bring the public some kind of peace. To ease their minds, even the slightest bit.
That’s really why they were all there.
And Bakugou knew it.
The police needed to draw some blood. Show that they were making strides, and that those steps weren’t just leading to dead-ends or off the sides of cliffs. No. They needed some solid proof. Some way to appease the public, show them that they could overcome this challenge.
That was why they were there.
There was no way in hell Deku should’ve known about that meeting. No way at all.
Unless there was a mole.
The police had come to exterminate some vermin.
Though only Bakugou, Kirishima, and Uraraka knew it.
For some reason.
When they’d told Bakugou, he’d made a pretty good case. The sleeping gas had no effect on Deku, not at all. How did the police know that wasn’t a setup? That Bakugou and Kirishima weren’t the moles?
That had nearly driven that barking dog off the wall.
He was practically foaming at the mouth when Bakugou brought that up.
But, as usual, Tsukauchi managed to step in. Play the voice of reason.
“We don’t,” he said, plain as day. “We don’t know that you’re not the moles. However, you two were the only ones who reacted to Deku. The only ones who made a move to stop him. So, that means you’re either definitely the moles, or you’re definitely not.”
“But, YOU still won’t know that until it’s too late,” Bakugou reiterated. “This meeting won’t flush US out if we’re the moles. Already, this meeting has the potential to do jackshit. If we’re the moles, then it’ll DEFINITELY be a waste of time.”
The detective looked so pained by that Bakugou was nearly sorry he said it.
But not quite.
As a hero, his job was to do the hard stuff. Not be afraid to crack his knuckles and scrape his knees. Bang a few skulls, even if they belonged to the police chief and lead detective. Or even drag long hauls of villains off, even when he was sleep-deprived.
Being a hero meant doing the hard stuff.
Like point out the truth.
Honestly, he didn’t find it that hard to do. It was people’s reactions that usually sucked.
Tsukauchi didn’t take it meanly though. Instead, he sighed.
“I understand that Ground Zero, but, it’s the best plan we’ve got.”
Katsuki harrumphed and crossed his arms. Maybe rolled his eyes.
But relented.
“Fine. If it’s what you got, then it’s what you got. Either way, I know I’M not the one spilling things to that shitty dork. And I seriously doubt it’s hair for brains. And it sure as hell isn’t Angelcakes. Which means that, if it’s someone in the room, they’ll get antsy if you strike close to home. And it won’t be good. At the very least, you’ll have us for back up. If not, then others as well,” Bakugou had told him.
That seemed to set his mind at ease.
Not that you could tell his mind was unsettled during the meeting.
As the meeting started, the detective was calm. Collected. A parent looking at a broken cookie jar and knowing which child did it.
Even though Bakugou knew that was bullshit.
Tsukauchi had no idea.
But the bravado was what counted right now.
He leveled a stare at all of them. At Shoto, and Dabi, and Hawks, and Bakugou, and Kirishima, and even Ochaco. Even that bunny-hero lady and Tsukauchi’s police crew were getting drill-bit stares.
“Who is the leak?”
The room was so silent that if someone let one loose, it’d have sounded like a hurricane.
But it was only that silent for a moment.
Bakugou let out a laugh.
“Delicate open. Nice,” he commented, grinning maniacally. “Who wants to volunteer and confess theirs sins? Spill you losers. Who done it?”
They all presumed Bakugou was joking.
But they knew full well that Tsukauchi wasn’t.
Hawks was the first to speak up. “You really want to question the top heroes? You think that’ll help?”
Growling, Bakugou slammed his fist on the table. “Listen up feather weight. That meeting was top-secret. There was no way that shitty nerd and that human sparkplug would’ve known where to go without an insider’s help.”
Hawks, much to his surprise, nodded. “I agree, but I don’t personally believe the leak could be found in this room. I mean, think about it: people at the news station knew that the meeting was being held. Don’t you think the leak would be more likely on that level of the operation rather than here? I mean, you’ve got me—you know I work well with Endeavor, I’ve almost died for the guy, several times—you’ve got Dabi and Shoto, his two sons, and then there’s the rest of you. Bona fide heroes. True blues if there ever were some. I don’t believe a single one of you would work with someone doing as much damage as Deku. Even if his goals WERE pure, I think you all have enough sense to know that his methods are dangerous to society as a whole, and to the public’s general well-being. Not to mention their state-of-mind,” Hawks reasoned.
And, there was no real way for him to be sure of this, but:
Bakugou thought that Hawks might be on his team.
Doing this from a different angle. Using a different tactic on the people in the room. Being smart and manipulative, that’s what Hawks was doing. Digging at their core, their pride.
Their sense.
All of them had a strong sense of justice.
All the heroes, anyhow. Bakugou wasn’t sure about Tsukauchi’s personnel, but he knew the rest of them did.
If any of them was working with Deku, it was because they believed in his cause.
Whatever the hell that was.
Which meant that, if they were working with Deku, they’d have to have concerns, because Hawks was definitely right.
Regardless of his goals, Deku was dangerous. Not just to heroes, but to the public as a whole.
With all the havoc his antics caused, and all the damage, and all the injury to bystanders, it was undeniable.
He was a menace to society.
And, if any of the heroes really were the leak, they’d know it. Have strong feelings about it. None of them were unreasonable enough to be blind to it.
There’s no way Hawks’ words wouldn’t hit home.
Not for a hero.
Though, Hawks could just be covering his own ass. He might be the leak—the double agent, is what the leak really was—and he might just be trying to make arguments to make it seem otherwise.
Bakugou didn’t know.
Wouldn’t know.
Because all the heroes sat silently, staring at each other. At the ceiling. At the police personnel. At the table.
Anywhere but at each other.
“No one else has anything to say?” Tsukauchi broke the silence as if he were a sledgehammer, and the delicate quiet was glass.
The rabbit spoke up.
“It’s wise to say nothing, don’t you think? If we defend ourselves, we look guilty. If we admit we’re guilty, well, then we’re guilty. And there’s no point to do anything in the between, is there? This is an all-around lose-lose situation we’re in. And, in all honesty, I agree with Hawks. I don’t think it COULD be one of us. We’re all bound by our morals. By our goals. We’d never betray the public like that.”
There was a bit of shuffling. Bakugou didn’t know if it meant agreement, or disagreement, or if it meant the leak was getting uncomfortable, but either way, there was shuffling.
In the end, Hawks spoke up again.
“Listen, Tsukauchi, I know you’re doing your best, and you’re doing all you can. But, even if one of us were the leak, you’d have to somehow keep quiet about it. You can read the atmosphere out there, you KNOW it’s bad. The people are like mad dogs right now, frothing at the mouth to get a bite of a bone. ANY bone. If one of us is the leak, they’ll turn completely mad. NO ONE will be safe, because no one will trust heroes. And if they can’t trust heroes, who can they trust? It’ll turn into a madhouse. Complete anarchy. Everything will devolve into chaos.”
It was all true.
Every one of them felt that.
But…
“If there’s a leak, then it’ll have to be stopped,” Bakugou inserted assertively.
What he was about to say…
It was hefty.
His heart broke just thinking about it. About the meaning and consequences. About how his life—everything he built so far—would probably crumble.
But.
Truth was truth.
And what needed to be done still needed to be done.
Glaring Hawks down, he said, “People will be mad, and they’ll be afraid, but they’re already mad and afraid. They’re ALWAYS mad and afraid. If they lose faith in heroes… then so be it. It’ll give them more faith in the police. And, right now, they need faith in SOMEONE, even if it’s not us.”
And they all knew what he really meant.
If heroes needed to disappear for the sake of the public…
Then so be it.
They ought to disappear.
They were here for the sake of the people. For their peace of mind. If it happened that heroes made people more anxious, if it happened that they stopped accomplishing that feat, well then…
Yes.
They ought to disappear.
Clearly, his words didn’t sit well with anyone. There was even more shuffling, more avoidance of eyes, more downcast looks. There was more unease than Bakugou was prepared for.
And still.
It had to be said.
It had to be done.
If that was what the people needed for peace, then it was their job to make sure it was done.
Even if it meant the end for them.
On that happy note, the meeting ended. Tsukauchi realizing how grim the situation really was, how dire the straights they were all in, and also realizing this meeting would get them nowhere.
They left the building in contemplative silence. Words spoken aloud, an idea brought to life, that they weren’t quite ready to live with yet.
The end of heroes.
Bakugou shuddered at the thought.
Of course he didn’t want heroes to end. What the hell would he even do with himself? All he’d ever wanted was to be a hero. It was what he’d always strived for. Even as a kid, he knew he was destined to be a hero.
Even that shitty nerd knew…
Uraraka bumped into him, he stopped so suddenly. And Kirishima bumped into her.
Both of them looked at Ground Zero’s back, confused.
“Katsuki? What is it?” Uraraka asked.
Electricity zipped down his spine. A tingling sort of knowledge that left you hollow. Like being hungry, and searching the desert for food.
He knew.
“I remember…” he whispered.
“Remember what?” Kirishima asked.
But Bakugou was too focused. Too intent.
If what he knew would help, then… well. He had to tell Tsukauchi, didn’t he?
Without anymore preamble, Bakugou turned on his heel and sprinted back the way he came, back toward where the meeting was.
With only one exchanged glance, his partners followed after him.
Ochaco understood when Bakugou bursted through Tsukauchi’s door and said.
“I remember the promise.”

Chapter Text

“Are you sure that that’s his motive?”
“Hell fucking no, I’m not. I haven’t seen the guy since I was six years old. You’re lucky I have any memories at all from back then, that was forever ago,” Bakugou snarled. Calmer, he said, “I just remember the promise is all. And I remember him making a big deal out of it, and I remember we were both All Might fans, and he keeps bringing up the past, so I figure that’s probably got something do with it, right?”
Tsukauchi looked intent. Contemplating as he stared at the table.
Uraraka and Kirishima said nothing, just sat silently and tried to digest what Bakugou was saying—what he had said.
Could they really have found the villain’s motive that easily?
Was it really that simple?
Even Bakugou wasn’t sure. It made sense that Deku wanted revenge on heroes for treating him so poorly—for shattering his dreams when that was all he had left, when that was all he had to look forward to. But still.
With the red lightning, and the chaos, and the quirk stealing…
Bakugou couldn’t help but feel like maybe there was more to it. Like maybe there was a factor they hadn’t thought of yet.
He thought he’d feel better after remembering the promise.
But…
There was still an ache in his mind. A prickling that was so minute it was almost nonexistent.
Almost.
And almost really doesn’t cut it. Especially not with Bakugou.
“I’ll run this by my team, see if it really might be a motive. If it fits into the psychology of what he’s doing, then you might be right about his motives,” Tsukauchi said.
“Still doesn’t help too much,” Bakugou grumbled. “Just means he’s even more unpredictable than we thought. If his goal really is revenge on heroes, then that could happen anywhere at any time, and he can pick on anyone.”
Bakugou wasn’t wrong. In fact, he was a hundred percent right. Yet…
“Knowing his motives might help us reason with him though,” Tsukauchi countered.
Bakugou nodded, but he felt pretty certain.
There would be no reasoning with Deku.
Ever.

 

“They’ve started questioning the heroes. They think there’s a double agent in the high ranks,” the man said, swirling some fire around his fingers.
Deku grinned. “Well, isn’t there a double agent, Mr. Todoroki?”
The man of flames leveled a very serious look at Deku.
It nearly made the villain’s heart skip a beat, that’s how intense it was.
“Yes.”
His grin deepened, reaching up to the edges of his eyes. Cutting his features like a blade.
“That’s good to hear,” Deku replied.
Denki, on the other hand couldn’t help himself, and he noted:
He was a little jealous.
Not because he really actually had feelings for Deku—well, he did, just not like THAT—but because he didn’t like other people winning lots of favor with his boss. It meant he had less spotlight, and less praise.
He didn’t like that.
“What’s our next move, boss?” Denki asked, changing the topic.
Still smiling, though not as severely, Deku turned to Denki. “We wait for a bit. See how the heroes respond. Maybe we can get them to tear each other apart.”
Deku thought it over a moment. The heroes being unwilling to trust each other. Unable to work together. The police questioning their every move.
Oh.
That sounded like fun.
“That would be good,” he mumbled, a small smile on his face.
It was one of Deku’s few tells, and it didn’t reveal much.
Just that the boss had a new plan.
In all likelihood, it was a very good, very wicked plan.
Kaminari felt charged up already.

 

It was quiet for a few minutes. In the dark, it was easier to get lost in his thoughts. There were less pictures, less sound, to process along with his thoughts. Lack of movement from the world, lack of distractions. It gave him time to sink into his own mind.
But they both knew.
That could be a very dangerous place to be.
Snuggling up to him, Uraraka grabbed his hand and squeezed it.
It brought him out of his own thoughts, just like she knew it would.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” he replied.
It was hard to read Bakugou on a good day, in broad daylight. It felt like a nearly impossible task in the dark.
But Ochaco had gotten better at it over the years.
“Tell me what you’re thinking,” she asked.
Long ago, she had built up reserves for this. Strength for when she felt vulnerable enough to ask him. In most ways, she let herself be vulnerable to him. Almost completely. If he ever wanted to know anything about her, or what was going on in her head, all he had to do was ask, and he knew it. Which is why she’d built up this resilience. For when she asked him to open up to her.
And he said no.
He never directly said it. Instead, he’d say something like, “just thinking,” or “it isn’t important”. Something to get her off his back, to change the subject.
She knows he doesn’t realize it kind of hurts.
And she knows he doesn’t do it on purpose.
Katsuki was just a very private person.
That’s all.
So when he curled up and brought her closer, she wasn’t expecting him to answer her.
Voice ghosting against the top of her head, mumbled in guilt. Or shame. Something that didn’t belong with him, he spoke.
“I know I’m not the greatest guy, but, am I really that bad of a friend?”
The thought surprised her. Without thinking, her free hand reached up to dust patterns on his face with her thumb.
He leaned into her hand heavily.
“What’s that about? Because Deku turned villain?”
If her hand hadn’t been on his face, she wouldn’t have felt his tiny nod.
Her chest felt tight. Like someone had a grip on her heart, in the most unpleasant way.
Instinct took over.
Leaning up, she kissed Katsuki’s forhead. The bridge of his nose. His cheeks that had lost their round shape since their freshman year. She kissed him, and then did her best to look him in the eyes through the still darkness.
“You are an excellent friend Katsuki Bakugou. You might not always be the most open with your feelings, but you’re still loyal, and still compassionate. You feel for people, even though you don’t like showing it. You’re considerate, and thoughtful, and your mind is always working toward making SOMEONE’s life better. I’d say that makes you pretty wonderful.”
It was incredible. The easy way in which she eased his mind. In all honesty, it probably helped a lot that Uraraka was not a known liar. If it came out of her mouth, there was a ninety-nine percent chance it was true. The only time he’d ever known her to lie was the time they nearly got caught making out in her dorm room at school.
The memory of her floating him to the ceiling in order to get the teacher off her doorstep made him smile.
Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her closer.
“You sure are smart sweetcheeks, I think I might want you to stick around,” he teased quietly into the dark.
And still, he knew.
There was no way she wasn’t blushing.
“I thought we were having a tender moment.”
“Oh, we are,” his words were practically a growl before he pounced on his wife.
It was a great end to a day that could’ve been a lot worse.

Chapter Text

“Have they made any more moves to investigate the heroes?”
Of course, Deku wasn’t talking to Twice or Denki.
He was talking to that Todoroki guy.
He shook his head at the boss. “Not that I’m aware. And I’m sure that, by this point, I would be. Perhaps Hawks’s words scared him off.”
“Hmm, I doubt it,” Deku said thoughtfully, his fingers lifting agilely and smacking the bar top calmly. “Tsukauchi is not a personal acquaintance of mine, but I do know some things about him. For instance, he is quite thorough, and very bent on justice. I’m sure he hasn’t given up on the idea of there being a double agent. More than likely, something is stopping him from pursuing his investigations.”
None of the lackeys in the room—the fire-hero included—knew what to say about that.
Luckily, it seemed like their boss wasn’t waiting for a response.
“No matter. We’ll keep pushing. Honestly, I was hoping the police and the heroes would’ve torn each other apart by now, but,” he shrugged elegantly. Making a face as he did so. “That’s life, eh? Guess we’ll just have to keep moving forward. One step at a time.”
“You can count on my support from the shadows.”
Deku nodded at the hero.
“For now. One day, you’ll have to be brought to light.”
“I’m aware. However, I’d rather it be later than sooner.”
“Don’t want to miss your annual debut at the gala?”
He made a thoughtful noise, clearly uncomfortable.
Deku laughed once. “No need to feel uneasy. It’s a good cause. Raising awareness for abused kids. I understand why you and your brother attend every year.”
As soon as he said that, the hero’s fist balled up. Tightly, as if he were readying to throw a punch.
“My father… he was an awful man when I was a kid. He’s… different now. More stable.”
“And yet you still helped us dispose of his quirk,” Deku pointed out, punctuating his statement with a flame flickering to life in his palm.
The other fire-bearer nodded. “Yes. He’s more stable, but still. People need to atone for their crimes.”
Deku grinned at him.
Pleased.
Impressed.
“My thoughts exactly.”
And that was when Denki knew:
It was going to be a fun day.

 

Bakugou knew it was going to be a fun day because Uraraka had it circled on the calendar. And she only circles days when she makes plans for those days. Which, unfortunately, isn’t often.
Uraraka makes excellent plans.
And he was quite confident in his wife. Quite confident that today would be no exception.
He wasn’t disappointed in her plans.
He was quite thrilled when she brought him to the zoo.
When they took the train and got off, waltzing up to the entrance, he’d snorted.
“The zoo?” he’d said, as if he were too old for this stuff. As if this were ridiculous. As if there wasn’t a tiny bird taking off inside his stomach, excited to be out and about.
Grinning, she took his hand. “I know you love to see the lions. Today, they’re displaying the new cub for the first time.”
All of his bravado faded in an instant. Like a child, his face lit up, starting from his eyes. Wonder and excitement and anticipation spread through his system, faster than lightning. Seeping into his bones like the maddest sugar rush.
She could feel it in the way his grip tightened around her hand.
It was so, so cute.
This was the reason she brought him in the first place.
She laughed once, ending in a smile that was a bit too smug for Katsuki’s taste.
He’d have to find a way to wipe away that smugness.
But for now…
He was too focused.
“When are they showing the cub?”
Ochaco looked at her watch. “In twenty-three minutes.”
“Let’s GO,” he urged, dragging her through the zoo.
It was incredible.
The cute little cub was rolling around in the grass, paying the crowd no attention as the zookeeper rattled off lion statistics and facts. Bakugou paid her no mind either—he already knew everything there was to know about lions. Even more than what she knew, probably.
Using his smarts, he started signaling to the lions. Making all kinds of gestures that he knew would drive them wild.
And it did.
In the middle of the zookeeper’s speech, the lions looked up. Watched Katsuki.
And then rushed the crowd.
People screamed and backed up, but Bakugou didn’t. Mostly because he knew he was safe from them, but also because he knew the lions.
As in, they were friends.
Being a hero had its privileges.
Like being able to convince the zoo to allow him a few moments in the lion’s enclosure, for instance.
With the beasts inside.
It only took one visit for them to accept him. Every time after that, they became excited whenever they saw the pro hero, outside of uniform or in it.
He was part of their pride.
After the ruckus was caused, the head zookeeper came out to personally scold Katsuki. To his credit, he pretended to be shamed. But they’d known each other awhile, and the zookeeper knew Katsuki wasn’t really sorry.
In all honesty, the head zookeeper was putting on a facade too. She only scolded him for show.
She loved that Katsuki could bring the lions right up to the crowd like that.
Made for quite the performance.
After the cub had been revealed, Katsuki’s brain settled enough to decide what he ought to do for Uraraka to even their score.
Ice cream.
She was a bit surprised that he wanted to leave the zoo early—she knew it was his favorite date spot, not to mention there was the new cub—but she agreed easily. This was Katsuki, after all. If he had something in mind, it was going to be good.
And it was.
Across town, there was a small little ice cream place called The Yeti’s Hut that Ochaco LOVED. However, due to its location, the duo hardly ever went there. It was too far out of the way normally, and they just didn’t have the time to leave their office/apartment/patrol area to come down and snag a few cones.
But, of course, today was an exception. Today was their day off, and Kirishima was covering for them.
And, of course, there was Bakugou’s competitive spirit to contend with as well. If Ochaco did something wonderful and thoughtful for him, he HAD to repay the favor. Or one-up her. Otherwise, he’d pout like a sore loser.
Not that it was a competition.
For Uraraka, it wasn’t. She was just glad to see her husband relaxed. Excited.
It felt like forever since they’d had a day like this.
They sat outside the ice cream shop, on a bench, licking at their preferred flavors. Enjoying the sun, which they soaked up in buckets, and the fact that they were there together.
Internally, Bakugou recognized it as a miracle.
With all the crazy nonsense they’d had to go through lately, it was a wonder either of them were still alive, let alone in one piece, and enjoying a day off together.
It filled him with some kind of longing…
Some kind of urgency that he didn’t have a name for…
He just knew that it started in his gut, and moved through him like lava. Steadily, burning whatever it touched. Desperate to make headway, to get out.
“What’re you thinking about?”
Her question caught him off-guard. Made him snap back to the moment real quick.
“Just thinking about how lucky I am to have you,” he answered, mostly honest.
Sure, that wasn’t all of it, but that was the gist.
He really did feel lucky to have her. To have anyone, really, but especially her.
“You’re a real kick-ass woman, you know that?” he asked.
She made a face that he knew well. He wasn’t sure if there was a name for it, but he knew that it meant she was trying to hide her embarrassment.
It made his heart seize up in a pleasant way.
Without warning, he swooped in fast, landing a quick peck on her cheek.
“I love you,” he said simply, quietly. As if afraid others might hear and steal the words from him.
A sweet, sappy smile came over her face. “Oh? Well, that’s good news. If not, then I’d have to cancel our dinner plans.”
“Dinner plans?”
That was intriguing.
“Mhmm,” she replied, her hum a sing-song sound. “It’s that place you like with the food that burns my nose just from smelling it. I figured it’s been awhile since I went there with you, which means it’s been a while since you’ve been there at all, and I thought that you might want to—”
He cut her off with a kiss.
A kiss that forced her to drop her ice cream onto the ground. That forced a squeak out of her. That forced her to jump, startled and excited all at once.
When he pulled back, it was with a growl. And he only did it so he could mutter, “stop talking or you’ll kill me with your perfection,” before he dove right back into the kiss.
And, damn, if he didn’t mean it.
His wife was perfect.
And, damn.
He didn’t deserve her.
But, at least he knew it. Knew it well enough to know he ought to treat her like a queen. Like a princess. Like she ruled the whole damn galaxy. Like she held all the stars in one hand, and his heart in another.
He knew he didn’t deserve her.
And that’s why he was determined to show her how much she meant to him.
After the fire built itself up in his stomach, he could feel it spreading. Itching down his arms and into his veins.
He wanted to show her more.
Which is, of course, when his wife regained her composure.
Pulling back out of the kiss, like reversing a car from a parking spot, Uraraka placed a hand on his chest.
“We’re in public,” she hissed.
“Then let’s NOT be in public,” he suggested, grinning like a wolf.
She did her best not to laugh.
But, ultimately, failed.
“FINE,” she said, as if it cost her everything.
And it might have.
It certainly cost her an ice cream, he knew that.
They were making their way back home—both of them in a bit of a hurry, to be honest—when Ochaco’s phone rang.
It was her usual ringtone. The one that happened when an unsaved number called.
“Just leave it,” Bakugou suggested.
If this was work related, it might take a while. Might take FOREVER, actually, and Bakugou’s whole body was in blazes. There was no way in hell he was going to wait. With that much fire in his blood, he NEEDED her to put it out. As soon as possible.
But Uraraka answered anyway, using her usual “hello?” greeting.
Which, in the end, was a good thing.
Because as he stood there, watching her face, he knew only one thing:
Something was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Her eyes grew wide. Showcasing how smooth the brown looked. Her mouth hung open a bit, in a little “o” shape.
“We’ll be right there,” she reassured whoever was on the phone, and then she hung up.
All the fire in his stomach was doused. Completely dismissed because he knew.
This was bad.
Turning to Bakugou, she said words that he’d never thought he’d ever hear. Especially not together, in that order.
“Kirishima was arrested.”

Chapter Text

If he hadn’t already established that his wife wasn’t a known liar, Bakugou would’ve called her out right then and there.
But no.
His wife wasn’t a liar.
For the first time in all the time that he’s known her, he thought that it was kind of a shame she wasn’t a fibber.
Because, in this one instance, he’d have really liked for her to have been lying.
“Listen, you can’t deny me access to shitty hair, HE’S MY FUCKING PARTNER,” Bakugou roared at the lady behind the window.
It was frustrating that she didn’t even flinch. Didn’t glare. Nothing. Just kept staring at him like he was a five-year-old in a store throwing a tantrum.
Droll stare still in place, she said, “According to our public records—and the statement of Mr. Kirishima himself—he is unmarried.”
It took Bakugou a moment to process what she was saying.
When he did, he nearly blew up the glass.
“NOT MY MARRIAGE PARTNER YOU DUNCE, HE’S MY HERO PARTNER.”
The lady still looked unconvinced. “If he were all that heroic, he wouldn’t be in jail right now. Now, would he?”
That nearly did it.
If Tsukauchi hadn’t walked in right at that moment, Bakugou definitely would’ve blown the lobby to bits. Even after Tsukauchi showed up, he still might’ve. But Ochaco was also there, and she was instantly bringing him down.
“Babe, Tsukauchi is here.”
“WHO GIVES A RAT’S ASS?”
With a stern look, she glared at him. “You should, if you want to see your best friend.”
Right.
Taking a deep breath, Bakugou backed away from the lady. He was still glaring at her—wishing her a thousand stubbed toes and a hundred mornings full of back aches—so he noticed the look she sent his wife. The sort of look that said “good luck with THAT thing”. The kind of look that really pissed him off.
In all honesty, it almost set him off again.
But Uraraka could feel his growl growing, and she tugged him along. Harshly, like one might drag a rather big, rather rambunctious dog when it doesn’t want to listen.
As they turned toward Tsukauchi, they could feel the atmosphere. The foreboding.
It wasn’t good.

 

“What do you mean Kirishima is in league with the yakuza?” Bakugou’s glares seeped into his voice. Soaking it with accusation and anger.
Tuskauchi sighed. “I mean exactly that Bakugou. Some evidence has come to light recently that he’s in league with the yakuza.”
Violently, he shook his head. “No. NO. No way. Shitty hair would never—”
Tsukauchi held up a hand. “I know, I know. I don’t think he would either. But… evidence is evidence, and we still have to check it out. Make sure it’s a false lead. If not, then we wouldn’t be doing our jobs right, and that’s the last thing we can afford right now.”
Bakugou felt the urge to grind his teeth together. Snarl until something in his lungs burst.
“How long will that take?” Uraraka asked.
It was nagging at them both.
It was easy for Bakugou to forget, but the fact remained.
Eijiro Kirishima wasn’t really Bakugou’s partner. He was his teammate, which meant…
There was more to the team than just the two of them.
Losing Kirishima wasn’t just his loss, it was Uraraka’s too.
Then again, neither of them were thinking of it as a strictly business thing.
After all, Kirishima was—above all else—their friend.
What would this do to him?
Tsukauchi sighed again, like someone who was breaking a mirror while stepping under a ladder and being informed that their black cat ran away all at once would.
“I don’t know. Hopefully, we can wrap this up quickly. We need good heroes on the street. Heroes that are mindful of the people and the climate. Red Riot is a favorite. It isn’t just the number of arrests that keeps him popular. He’s quite popular. It’s not just kids that adore him, either. Nearly every age demographic has a large set of fans devoted to Red Riot. His whole atmosphere is uplifting to everyone. We need that on the street. But,” his eyes didn’t meet Uraraka’s or Bakugou’s as he said, “it’s still our job to investigate claims with legitimacy. There’s a handful of evidence showing that Kirishima might have yakuza ties, and we can’t just ignore that. It’d be corrupt. And word would definitely leak out.”
“Because this is Deku’s doing,” Bakuoug growled. It all came together in his mind so fast, it felt obvious. “That bastard planted evidence. He’s trying to make Shima out to be the bad guy. Or trying to make it look like the cops are looking the other way.”
For a moment, his wife felt proud that he was using her silly nickname for their friend.
But.
The situation overpowered that feeling immediately.
Tsukauchi nodded at him, not placating.
Acknowledging.
“More than likely, you’re right. That’s why we arrested him as quietly as we could. Very few know of his current predicament.”
“It won’t leak out to the media?” Bakugou asked.
“It shouldn’t. If it does, we’ll know that we definitely have a mole in the inner circles of the police department.”
That was good to hear, but still.
It wasn’t good enough.
Not an eye for an eye.
They were talking about Kirishima’s career. Practically his whole LIFE was on the line here. Everything he’d ever worked for.
Bakugou didn’t want to think it was possible, but his brain didn’t work like that.
His brain was brilliant because it didn’t refuse reality. Didn’t reject logic, or tactics, or anything that dealt with facts. His brain—as irrational as he could be—still understood things. Saw them for what they were.
And he knew.
If it happened to Kaminari, it could happen to Kirishima, too.
What if Kirishima lost his license?
What if he had to stop being a hero?
Would he become like Kaminari, too?
The thought was… haunting.
And it left him with the reality that, yes. If it happened to Kaminari, it could certainly be a reality for Kirishima. It WAS a possibility.
And that didn’t sit well with Bakugou.
Left a chill in the back of his mind that just wouldn’t go away. And it wasn’t something he could ignore either.
Because, if it wasn’t possible...
…he wouldn’t be thinking about it at all.
The realization made his brain work a thousand times harder. Going into overdrive, Bakugou couldn’t help but say what was on his mind.
His voice was level. Calm. But underneath there was bite. A tiger lurking in the jungle, waiting to strike.
“If any of this gets out, Kirishima’s reputation will be complete trash. He doesn’t deserve that. He’s a good guy. He’s my teammate, and my friend.” His voice held none of its usual feistiness. Instead, it held that chill. A cold creeping up like a fog, coating the land, icing the bones of anything it touched.
He continued.
“That said, you should know Tsukauchi: if this stupid rabbit hole leads to my friend losing his job, you’ll have more than just Deku’s villain squad to worry about. You’ll have war coming from both sides, and I’ll be on the front lines, I can assure you of that.”
Tsukauchi looked surprised, shocked. Turning his attention to Uraraka, it was easy to see what he wanted from her.
Some kind of protest. For her to stop her husband’s rage-rambling like usual.
But she nodded.
“He’s not wrong Detective. I feel the same way. Kirishima doesn’t deserve this. I understand that you absolutely need to investigate the claims, and that’s fine, but if this ruins his career…” she shook her head. “I agree with Katsuki, that’s all I’ll say.”
Clearly, the detective didn’t know what to do with that. It seemed unreasonable to him, clearly it did, and the two pro heroes understood that he was just doing his job.
And yet…
They both felt firmly about this.
After all, this was Kirishima’s career at stake. His reputation. His whole life practically.
If they didn’t feel strongly about that, then did they really have a strong friendship with Kirishima?
To help Tsukauchi out—and because it was a legitimate question Bakugou had—he asked, “Can we at least see Kirishima?”
That snapped the detective out of his stunned silence.
“No. You two could be in on this as well, so no. We don’t want secret messages being passed around for the yakuza.”
Katsuki’s jaw clenched so tightly, Uraraka wasn’t sure if his teeth would survive it.
Instead of letting her husband reply with a slew of swearwords, she jumped in.
“Does that mean you’ll be at the agency then? Going through our office things?”
He nodded.
“Since I know that careers are on the line here, I’m going to do it myself with a small task force. Starting tomorrow. Unfortunately, I can’t get to it until then. So, I’d also like to ask that you two stay away from your agency until then. Just to keep you from looking suspicious.”
As usual, Bakugou didn’t pull any punches in speaking his mind.
“This is bullshit.”
Tsukauchi nodded, agreeing. “It still has to be done.”
“What the hell kind of evidence do you have anyway? This is such a big shit show for an anonymous tip,” Bakugou asked.
The detective looked uncertain. Trying to decide something.
After a moment, he sighed and spilled it.
“Someone has pictures and a short video of Kirishima hanging out amongst the yakuza members. Including their boss. It seems like they’re handing him money for some reason, and in the video, he shakes their hands.” Tsukauchi finishes with a shrug. “That’s all it is, and I’m sure since it’s Kirishima, it’ll turn out to be nothing, but…” he sighs. “He’s also denying ever meeting with them, which is suspicious. If he’d just admit it and tell us why he was there—”
“NO.”
“No?”
Bakugou nods. “Yeah, no. If Kirishima says he wasn’t there, then he wasn’t there. It wasn’t him in the video at all.”
“Bakugou…”
A feeling like funnel clouds forming in the room around them set off Uraraka’s internal alarms.
She jumped in before they could get into it.
“Tsukauchi, Bakugou and I will fully cooperate with your investigation. We’re certain that there’s nothing to find. And we have full confidence in Kirishima. We appreciate you keeping this quiet and doing what you can to keep this from the public’s attention. Right Bakugou?”
Still raging mad, Bakugou gave a gruff sound of consent.
Uraraka sighed, relieved.
In all honesty, she was impressed her husband hadn’t blown up the whole prison.
“Please keep us as informed as you’re allowed. And be sure to let us know if we can do anything to help speed things along, or clear up any questions you have.”
Tsukauchi nodded. “Absolutely. Thank you two for your understanding.
He was looking very pointedly at Bakugou as he said it.
Which only pissed him off further.
It was by far the worst end to a date Bakugou had ever had.

 

“It seems like the evidence got to the police just fine. Good work Mr. Compress,” Deku praised easily.
“Thank you, though it wasn’t much in the way of performances…”
“It got the job done, that’s all that matters!” Twice shouted.
It was rude, but Deku nodded in agreement. “Yes. With that, Kacchan will be without one of his partners. And, if his past is anything to go by, it won’t bode well with his temper. I imagine it’ll cause quite a tiff between him and the police.”
Denki nodded. “Definitely. The only thing that would’ve been worse was if we framed Uraraka.”
Deku shook his head. “No, I couldn’t have done that.”
He didn’t say why. Rather, he preferred to keep that a secret.
An ace to hold for another hand, perhaps.
“Excellent work to you, too, Toga. Without you, this plan would have been a thousand times harder,” Deku said.
The blonde girl giggled. “Anything for you boss.”
It made the villain smile.
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“How did you manage to get enough of Kirishima’s blood?”
The question was blurted out by their undercover hero, of course.
Deku grinned, but Denki answered before he could, which he didn’t mind.
“The boss has this wicked quirk where he can make a bunch of tiny tarantulas appear, and they do whatever he tells them to do! Kirishima sleeps like a rock, so he sent a bunch of them in his room the other night to gather some of his blood.”
In Toga’s opinion, Kaminari seemed way too excited about spiders. She’d have preferred gathering the blood herself, but.
Deku had said no.
“Is that also how you gather intelligence?” the hero asked.
Sipping his drink, Deku shrugged. “Sometimes. Sometimes I just rely on you.”
He said it with a wink.
Which tipped Kurogiri off.
“Sir, perhaps you’ve had a bit much?”
Deku quirked an eyebrow at the shadow man, but conceded. Kurogiri was always looking out for him.
“Alright,” he said, handing his half-full drink to Kurogiri. The bartender dumped it, and cleaned it, setting it next to the other five glasses Deku had drained that evening.
With a yawn, Deku stood and stretched.
“Well, I’m off to bed then. Phase two begins tomorrow, don’t forget.”
Deku ascended the stairs to a chorus of “yes sir!” from his lackeys.
It was more wonderful than any lullaby he’d ever heard.

Chapter Text

That night, Bakugou got a call from an old friend.
And it wasn’t pleasant.
“BLASTY!”
The voice raked against his ears in the quiet night. A jarring alarm if there ever was one.
“Ouch, damnit Pinky, you’re killing my ears. What the hell do you want? It’s four in the fucking morning,” he grumbled, anger making him fully awake.
The phone went silent for a while. A good long while. So long, in fact, that Bakugou thought that she might’ve hung up. Or, fallen back asleep.
He was on his way there, too, until she said it.
Very quietly, as if it were a bad omen.
“I can’t get ahold of Kirishima.”
By this time, Uraraka was stirring, eyes squinted at her husband in her half-awake state.
Bakugou wracked his brain.
Why the hell would Mina Ashido need to get ahold of Kirishima at four in the morning?
Unless…
There were some things that Kirishima wasn’t telling Bakugou.
“Mina… are you and shitty hair…” he thought about how to say it. Really, he did. But, in the end, he was still Katsuki Bakugou. So he said it as profane as possible, and without any tact.
“…fucking?”
“WHAT?” her voice scratched at his brain. Like she was using knives for drumsticks on his ear drums. “NO WAY! NEVER! Well… I mean, not never. Probably eventually? I don’t know. Things are complex right now. But, we were supposed to go out today and he never showed up. And he never called. And he isn’t home, and none of that is AT ALL like Eijiro.”
Katsuki grumbled, pissed.
Partially because he was kind of pissed at Kirishima.
Why the hell hadn’t Kirishima told him he was going out with Mina? Was it because it wasn’t official? Who the fuck cared about that? Besides, it had always been obvious, even back in high school, that Shima had a thing for Mina. He was always looking her way. Casting wistful glances like some lovesick shojo heroine. Even if it wasn’t official, the fact that Kirishima had managed to score even one date with her was cause for celebration. Bakugou would’ve liked to have known, just because it was his best friend’s happiness at stake.
But that wasn’t the only reason he was pissed.
He was also pissed because, apparently, Kirishima had either made some conflicting plans, or he really did plan on banging Mina. Because who the fuck starts a date at nine at night? That was when he had planned on getting off of patrols that night—so, actually, the date would’ve had to start even later than that.
What the fuck.
And, in the end, he was also really pissed at the police.
Because if they’d never stupidly arrested Kirishima in the first place, Mina wouldn’t be interrupting his sleep and calling him at the fucking witching hour.
Damn cops.
And damn Deku and his shitty villain squad of idiots, too.
He couldn’t believe this was a predicament he was dealing with.
Bakugou sighed into his phone.
“Look, Mina, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Kirishima got arrested today.”
For a moment, there was silence on the other end of the phone, and Bakugou mistook that for a good sign. Took it to mean that Mina was processing his words. Taking them in.
When, in actuality, she was doing the opposite.
“WHAT?!?!?!”
She was freaking out.
And in a very loud way.
Way too loud for Bakugou to handle.
Jerking his ear away from the phone, he nearly started slinging swear words back into the device, but, at this point, Uraraka was fully awake. And, luckily for both of them, she took over.
Grabbing the phone from her retreating husband, she immediately took charge.
“Mina? It’s Ochaco.”
For some reason, that alone calmed the other girl down.
Stupid shitty hair and his stupid girlfriend.
When this whole thing was over, Bakugou was going to kill Kirishima, and then kill Mina, and then have Ochaco invite them on a double date.
Stupid shitty hair, keeping secrets from him.
“Listen, I can’t tell you much, mostly because I don’t know much, and also because we don’t want word spreading, but here’s what happened…”
Bakugou thought his wife summed it up pretty well, though he couldn’t be sure. Halfway through, the siren song of sleep called to him, and he felt his eyelids drooping and his mind drifting.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow evening, see if we don’t get any more information tomorrow. Okay?” caught his attention though, and he woke up again. “Okay, no problem Mina. Sorry about all this. That must’ve been terrifying for you.” She paused, listening to the other girl, and Bakugou couldn’t help but feel some of his compassion reawaken.
Because Uraraka was right.
That really would be terrifying.
There you are, waiting for your significant other, and they just… never show up.
And it’s not like Mina doesn’t know what Kirishima does for a living. She knows his job is dangerous as all hell some days. That’s probably what took her so long to call, actually. More than likely, she was scouring news sites to see if there was anything out on Red Riot. If there were any intense villain attacks today.
In all likelihood, she’d been freaking out for hours.
Poor girl.
“I totally understand. It’s no problem Mina, really, it isn’t. Katsukia is just… well, you know, he’s Katsuki, that’s all. Yeah, you too. Try to get some sleep, okay? I’m sure it’ll all turn out alright. Yeah, definitely. Bye,” Uraraka hung up and handed the phone to Bakugou so he could put it back on his nightstand.
As soon as that was done, she settled into him, snuggling up with her head on his chest.
He reciprocated, throwing his arms around her and giving her a brief, but tight, squeeze.
“Thanks for taking over,” he mumbled.
She chuckled. “No problem.”
“You’ve got to teach me how to do that though.”
“Do what?”
“Use your black magic to calm people down so quickly. It isn’t fair, you know.”
She giggled, nuzzling into him. “’S not black magic, I just listen and take charge of the situation, that’s all.”
“Hmm. It’s sexy.”
She laughed again, knowing they were both too tired to start anything. Exhausted from such a ridiculous day. Besides, his whole demeanor was giving him away. His voice was too groggy, losing its presence slowly as he spoke.
And she wasn’t wrong.
In a few minutes, she was listening to his even breathing. His steady heartbeat. Feeling his chest rise and fall as she laid on it.
Comforting sounds, all of them.
But, in the end, she couldn’t quite settle herself.
“Bakugou?”
Her quiet voice stirred him.
“Mhhm?”
“If you ever get arrested, or hospitalized, or go missing, you better find a way to tell me where you are.”
He chuckled, which sounded more like a grunt when mixed with his sleepiness.
“Even if I die, I’ll be calling you to let you know, alright?”
He felt her head shift back and forth against his chest as she shook it.
“No dying allowed.”
“Mhm, yes ma’am.”
Very quietly, he heard her add, “You’re too important,” as she squeezed him.
It nearly did him in.
There was usually a moment before Bakugou’s hands created explosions. Moments where he could feel how his sweat had built up. How it needed release. How it was begging to be set loose, freed. The need to pop off some explosions always burned in his hands when his quirk was building up. A desire he couldn’t ignore. A release he absolutely NEEDED.
He felt something similar right then, only, the feeling bloomed somewhere inside his chest.
And he wasn’t quite sure how to let it out.
He settled for dragging his wife over, draping her over himself. She was laying almost completely on top of him. All of her warmth mixing and combining with his in the most pleasant way.
That felt better. Closer to the release he needed. It loosened the grip in his chest.
But still, he needed a bit more.
Somehow, he managed to pull her even closer to him. His chin resting just atop her head.
“Much better,” he thought to himself. Then, aloud, he said, “Same goes for you angel. You better not go anywhere, got it? I’ll be in some deep shit if you ever go.”
Her fingers traced idle patterns onto his bare chest, warming him. Sending tendrils of gentle fire into his skin.
“I’ll do my best,” she promised.
“Hmm,” he rumbled. At first, she thought he’d fallen back asleep, but then he added:
“I think that’ll be good enough.”
It wasn’t much to most people.
But to Uraraka?
And coming from Katsuki?
It was the highest vote of confidence. An undercover sort of praise.
It made her chest explode.
They drifted fast after that. Content and warm. Speeding into the land of sleep.

Chapter Text

Uraraka was out when the phone call came in.
Seeing it was her husband, she picked up immediately, breaking off her conversation with Iida.
“Hello?”
“Our phones have been tapped.”
She gave a thoughtful pause before deciding she really didn’t know what to do with that.
“O…kay? So why call and tell me?”
“Because I want those bastards to KNOW that I KNOW WE’VE BEEN FUCKING TAPPED,” under his breath he began muttering. “Stupid cop bastards thinking they’re sneaky. As if they could ever pull a fast-one on ME.”
It had been exactly one week since Kirishima had been arrested. The Shooting Star Agency had to announce that Red Riot was taking a vacation and would therefore be absent. In the meantime, Tsukauchi had turned their offices upside down in order to find any damning evidence. Additionally, the duo knew they were being monitored, followed around, nearly all the time, everywhere.
And now this.
Their phones were bugged.
Uraraka sighed. “We just… have to deal with it babe. If it’ll help…”
She didn’t have to finish her sentence. Bakugou knew what she was going to say.
And he agreed.
But still.
He didn’t like it.
Sensing her husband was on the verge of combusting, Ochaco changed the subject.
“Speaking of: have we heard anything new?”
“Tch. No. But I think that, legally, they’ll have to let him go sometime, right? They can’t just keep him indefinitely while they search for something more damning, right? That seems pretty corrupt, too.”
Uraraka nodded. “That’s true. Hopefully they can’t hold him up too much longer. This is getting ridiculous.”
And it was true.
Even though the public accepted that heroes need breaks and that they take vacations, they were getting antsy.
Where was Red Riot?
That’s what most of their fans wanted to know.
The Shooting Stars weren’t themselves without him. Not that their fans had a problem with Uravity and Ground Zero, it was just…
They weren’t complete.
“Well, if that’s all you called to say hon, I need to go. I’m having lunch with Iida.”
“Tch. Tell goggles I said hi.”
“They’re glasses.”
“Same difference.”
She rolled her eyes, but said, “Love you.”
And there wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation before he said it back.
“I love you, too.”
It was strange, to be honest. Not because she thought it was a lie—she believed Katsuki Bakugou loved her with all of his angry, explosive heart.
But he usually wasn’t so quick to say it.
Not because he was embarrassed. Not really. He just… generally didn’t like for people to hear his feelings. Not if they weren’t meant for them.
In all honesty, even though she thoroughly enjoyed hearing those words from Bakugou, and with such little hesitation…
…it still kind of scared her.
Because it meant that something was off with him. And, although he’d never admit it, she knew.
Bakugou was scared.
What if she was next?
What if HE was next?
Not just in regards to villain attacks, but:
What if one of them was arrested?
They wouldn’t be able to see each other.
Ochaco hadn’t voiced that concern yet, and neither had Katsuki. Not to anyone, not even each other.
But she could feel it still. Both of them could. It hung over their heads like a bird of prey would. They never spoke about it out loud, but they could see its shadow on the ground. Feel it coasting in the wind above them.
They knew it was there.
She could feel his urgency build, too. Her husband’s morning ritual usually consisted of him fighting his way out of bed. Tossing and turning and groaning before finally making it up and on his feet. But, recently, it had been worse.
Instead of groaning and moaning and growling about getting up, he’d turn to Uraraka. Begin planting kisses on the back of her neck. Do his best to seduce her into staying in bed, into calling in sick and staying home, ignoring her duty.
Honestly, she enjoyed the kisses and the attention and the… other things.
But.
It wasn’t like him.
Not at all.
He was a man of duty, and he respected that she had made promises to the public as well. No, he actually loved that she was strong enough to make those kinds of promises. Strong enough to try and keep them.
He didn’t think of her as weak. That wasn’t it at all. When All Might retired, it made them all realize:
Not everyone is a match for everyone.
Not every villain can be fought with strength. With power alone.
And, if there were ever a villain that could reinforce that feeling, it was definitely Deku.
Definitely.
There was no denying that Katsuki Bakugou was, largely, a mystery, but his wife did know him just about as well as any person possibly could.
And she knew that, without a doubt, that fear—that neither of them could ever win against a villain, not one like this—was what was driving Bakugou’s new behavior.
Which was why she couldn’t just sit back and fully enjoy it—as much as she wanted to.
Because it wasn’t a good sign.
“Uraraka? You seem to have something on your mind?”
Iida’s voice was a gentle breeze cutting through the sails in her mind, breaking apart that worrying wind.
Uraraka sighed. “Yeah, there’s a lot on my mind actually. I just don’t think I can explain it all, and I don’t think Bakugou would want me to.”
“Is everything… okay? Between the two of you, I mean.”
She knew what he was insinuating.
She rolled her eyes.
“Yes Iida, everything is fine. He treats me very well. Better than anyone could imagine, actually. But, this whole villain thing has just been…” she sighed again, heftily.
And Iida nodded, accepting her turmoil. And she knew he did. That he’d never say he understood—because he knew he didn’t—however, there was this:
Compassion.
Acceptance.
“Yes, this new villain being an old friend would cause quite a stir, I’d imagine. Additionally, with Endeavor gone, that means that your team has taken the number two hero position. It’s a lot to process in such a short amount of time.”
In all honesty, Uraraka hadn’t even thought about that.
It was kind of a shame, too. Because Kirishima was in jail still, and there was no way Bakugou would want to celebrate without him. But even if he WASN’T in jail, they’d only taken the number two spot because Endeavor had been rendered quirkless. They hadn’t really earned the number two spot, not really.
All in all, there was no cause for celebration.
None.
As the world re-adjusted itself on her shoulders, Iida patted her back awkwardly, as was his style.
“If there’s anything I can do…”
She gave her friend a smile. One that was only half the brilliance of what he deserved.
“Thanks Tenya, that means a lot to me, but I honestly don’t think there is.”
And, as sad as she was to say it, it seemed to be true.
What could any of them do at a time like this? What could they do besides watch? Besides wait?
When the world begins to unravel, and you’ve no idea where the seam is, what do you do?
What do you do?

 

“I don’t believe it.”
Everyone went quiet.
Deku’s voice was strong, forceful, when he spoke. He made no other indication as to how he felt.
Which was why there was silence.
Was he mad? Sad? Or simply just disbelieving?
They waited a heartbeat.
Two heartbeats.
Three.
Deku smiled lazily. “There’s no way he’s remembered the promise. None at all.”
It wasn’t a predator smile. Not an angry smile.
The room let out a collective air of relief.
The good mood stayed, even as the fire-hero nodded. “That’s what they’ve told me. They seem to think they know what your motive is, and it has to do with Ground Zero remembering the promise.”
Deku scoffed. Gave a little, “tch,” sound, just like how Kacchan used to do.
And then he grinned.
“What do you think Denki? Think he really remembers? Or is he bluffing?”
It seemed to Deku that, if Denki had a tail, it would wag every time he addressed the electrically charged young man.
Grinning from his very aura, Denki was only too happy to reply. “Ooooh, I don’t know boss. I mean, Bakugou has a good memory. And he doesn’t really bluff. I’ve never heard him tell a lie before. If anything, it might be the cops bluffing. But if he says he remembers, then I believe he remembers.”
“Really?”
“Oh yeah.”
Deku grinned. “Shall we make a bet then? Do some investigating? What d’you say Kami? Want to go out for a fun trip?”
Again, he could see Denki begin to wag. Excited that his master was addressing him, asking if he wanted to go for a walk.
“I’m ready whenever you are boss.”
Deku grinned.
“Just what I like to hear.”

Chapter Text

Bakugou had a nasty run-in with a villain before. Well, several, if we’re being honest, but there was one in particular that was especially nasty.
He had wanted to cut off Bakugou’s hand.
And it wasn’t a bluff either.
In the moment—no, even looking back, Bakugou can’t quite remember how it happened. How it came to be that the guy had stood, ax over his head, ready to bring it down on Bakugou’s strapped down arm. On his hand that was encased in iron, unable to blast his way through.
He doesn’t remember how that moment came to be.
But he sure as hell remembers what he was thinking.
It was something along the lines of:
“Holy actual fucking shit. What the hell am I going to do with just one hand?”
At the time, Denki still had both of his arms, so he didn’t spare a thought for him. All of his thoughts were focused on how he was going to be crippled. How he was going to lose his ability to create blasts with force, and how he was going to lose his ability to write.
“Will I be able to be a hero still?” he wondered. And, back then, he wasn’t so sure. Wasn’t sure what all he’d lose.
He just knew he was going to lose a lot.
Which is, of course, when two smiling, wonderful dorks showed up and kicked some villain ass and set his hand free.
That, too, was a blur. Most of what he remembered was how great it was. How wonderful that he didn’t have to give up his hand.
It was a sappy moment in his mind. Something coated with sugary relief and cotton candy type of joy. Most of the memory was shrouded by the bright spotlight that seemed to surround the two. By their calming presence. They way they were reassuring to his soul.
Those two dorks…
They were his best friends.
Uraraka, the love of his life, and Kirishima, who had somehow managed to become like a brother to him.
It was a sappy moment, not just because he was overjoyed to see them, but because it was the moment that he knew:
He couldn’t do this alone.
Not really.
He needed someone.
Needed THEM.
They were his right and left hands. Explosions just waiting to be set off. A quirk that couldn’t be compared to. They were an anomaly, as far as he was concerned. Both of them precious because they weren’t just goofballs, or dorks, or bad at making jokes.
They were fundamental.
Tools that could be used for great good in anyone’s hands.
But especially Bakugou’s.
That’s what he thought. That’s why he knew he was lucky to have either of them, yet, here he was, with both of them on his hero team.
Only, neither of them were with him when the call came. When the fire started.
When the lava sprouted.
His phone went off, signaling his duty, and people rushed by screaming, declaring what he already knew.
There was a giant, green, fire-footed lion bastard running around town.
And he was roaring Katsuki Bakugou’s name.
“Oh piss.”
Never in his life would he ever admit to muttering that. And he’d DEFINITELY never admit that he’d said it right before facing Deku.
Never.
It was a moment for him alone. A moment to collect his thoughts.
Right before he faced the beast.

 

When he arrived, he arrived in a large arc. Gliding over the city, riding the after-explosions of his quirk through the air. Doing his best to understand what he could of the situation before rushing in.
Not that he understood much.
It looked like Godzilla had thrown a tantrum right in the middle of the street. Kicked his toys over, spat fiery lizard garbage all over the ground. Smacked a few holes into a few buildings.
Empty buildings, Bakugou noted.
He wondered why Deku would do that.
Why he would only attack the derelict buildings, the ones that were empty and condemned, when there were so many sitting around that were clean. New. Full of people.
The gears in his head started turning as his decent dawned on him. As he came to level with a building’s roof, he began sprinting, not wanting to set off a blast while he was still processing.
Still thinking.
Was Deku… protecting people?
Trying not to hurt them?
And, if so, what would that mean?
If Bakugou’s theory was right, and Deku was trying to punish heroes, then Deku was probably trying to stay away from hurting civilians, right? I mean, the guy was still kind of human, wasn’t he? Human enough to have a purpose? A goal? That would mean he was human enough to not want anyone getting caught in the crossfire. Human enough to not want innocent people to suffer.
…right?
The roaring and the red lightning up ahead caught his attention. Drew him out of his thoughts as he began to strategize.
But damn.
If he didn’t pray that he was right…

 

“Think he’ll come?”
“Oh, he’ll be here,” Deku replied.
It was a bit harder for Denki to understand him in this form. Those lion-and-somehow-still-kind-of-human lips of his made words garble more than what was normal for Deku. Even a drunk Deku.
As many times at Denki had seen him tipsy, Denki had to admit, it was impressive how well his boss held together. The man could definitely hold his liquor.
Well…
In some regards, anyway.
But that was neither here nor there.
Denki was following along next to Deku, watching his moves so he could stay out of his boss’s way.
At the moment, Denki thought Deku was moving quite unpredictably. His lion’s head was constantly swiveling, his tail slashing through the air briskly, ready to fight.
And his quirks?
He was letting them all sorts of loose.
Denki had heard about the lava-feet quirk, but he’d never seen it before that moment. The moment they arrived on the scene, his boss’s bare feet made sense as magma began to pour out of every step. As it oozed across the ground, ate its way into the sewers.
He could see why his boss was opposed to shoes.
In a few moments after that, Deku had abandoned his jacket, relieving himself of it in favor of making Denki keep track of the item. Then, Deku had rolled up his nice shirt’s sleeves.
And bats poured out.
It was like one of the most nightmarish magic tricks ever conceived. Bats pouring out of Deku’s arms, fleeing into the city, flying into people’s hair, their buildings, their cars.
“Make a big enough panic, and a hero will come,” Deku lectured as he walked, magma still dumping from his feet and bats still clawing their way out from an unseen facet in his skin. “But, injure enough people—destroy enough property? They’ll send the best.”
Denki knew who he was referring to.
And he figured they’d already caused a big enough stink to attract his attention.
But…
He wanted to have some fun.
“Can I help, too, then?”
Deku grinned at him. Like a father would look at his son as the youngster tried to pick up a screwdriver, or wrench.
“Be my guest.”
If Denki wasn’t charged up before, he certainly was now.
His arm began to glow.
Moving the jacket around—making sure the fine garment didn’t touch the ground—Kaminari reached his metal arm. Finagled with a few buttons.
And let loose on a building.
The force of it was…
Incredible.
In fact, Denki flew backward, it was so powerful. He’d yet to use his arm’s highest setting, but that was pretty close.
Close enough that Deku turned to look at him, gaping.
As the back pain began to set in, with a metal chair crushed underneath him, Denki gave a sheepish smile.
“Woops.”
Rolling his eyes, Deku moved forward some more. “Well, if my lava and bats don’t do the trick, that certainly will. There’s no way he’ll be able to ignore that.”
Denki picked himself up, dusted himself off, and walked toward his boss.
Only to stop.
Deku’s eyes were glowing.
Glowing green.
The red veins in the whites didn’t look right though. Not at all like blood vessels.
But like lightning.
Picking up his, apparently, unfinished statement, his boss began to shake. To grow.
“And, there’s certainly no way he’ll be able to ignore THIS.”
Now THIS was something Denki had seen. Multiple times, in fact. Yet, still.
It never ceased to amaze him.
As his boss’s skin trembled, and his frame shook itself loose, Denki could only find himself awed by the man. By the person he was following. By the person who had saved him, over and over again.
By this monster of a man.
And he was.
In an instant, Deku was no longer a green-haired man.
He was a green-furred lion.
“Let’s see him ignore this,” Deku remarked.
More screaming ensued. Chaos renewed by the presence of something more to fear.
And that was how they got here, now. To this point, with his boss in full monster-mode, snarling and bristling and creating a scene.
It was glorious.
Before Denki could get in a word, Deku raised his head skyward.
And roared.
And he could swear:
That sound?
It was strong enough to shake your soul.

Chapter Text

This felt all wrong.
Bakugou was looking down at a cityscape torn apart by lava, lightning, and hellfire.
Endeavor’s hellfire.
And, to top it all off, he was sitting up on a rooftop, looking down at Deku. Deku, who was currently in lion-mode, talking to Denki, his old friend, who was clearly excited to be talking to the giant lion.
It was a shit situation in general, but there was also the nagging feeling of something missing. Two “somethings” to be exact.
His team.
If he was lucky, Ochaco might show up with another hero. That’d be swell. Generally, the two of them moved quicker and more efficient with her quirk activated on both of them. Though, if he were being honest, part of him didn’t want Ochaco to show up at all.
This was a dangerous situation if there ever was one.
And Kirishima?
He was completely out of the question, whether Bakugou thought it was too dangerous for his best friend or not. Shitty hair was still locked away in jail.
And, without those two, Bakugou didn’t know if he’d have backup. How long it would take for other heroes to arrive.
How much damage could the two villains do before then?
How many people might they kill with their careless quirks?
How could Bakugou just stand by? How could he live with himself if he just waited?
He couldn’t.
“Fucking Deku,” he grumbled under his breath.
And then he leapt off the building.
Before he hit the ground, he let off a few explosions. Cutting it really close, if he were being honest. But still.
He wanted to get as much of a drop on Deku as he could.
Not because he was going to sneak attack him. He wasn’t foolish enough to expect he could do that.
But because he didn’t want to get swatted out of the sky like he was the bird in some lame ass game of badminton.
So he let off a few poppling cracks as he nearly hit the ground. And, when he did hit the ground, he still felt it in his knees.
Maybe he cut it a bit closer than “too close”.
It was too late to think about that though, he had both of the villains’ attention.
Turning on a dime, lion Deku pounced toward Bakugou.
Ground Zero let off a few quick explosions to boost himself away. Not up, mind you, just away. Moving horizontally with the ground.
No sooner had he done so, red lightning shot past him, reaping destruction on a building as the red electricity followed Bakugou’s movements. So, Ground Zero had to think fast. React fast. Make his movements more erratic as he flew.
Spinning and twisting and jerking his body up and down, Bakugou let off a lot of explosions.
A lot.
When the lightning finally stopped, it was only because the green lion was on the move again.
Deku had pounced again. If Bakugou’s last blast hadn’t turned him so his back was facing the ground, he’d have never seen the beast. He’d be toast.
With a few more blasts, Bakugou rocketed himself even further away. Just barely missing Deku’s clawed grasp. It was shame that the evasive maneuvers kept both of his hands busy, or he’d have left a little gift for Deku. Tossed a grenade at him. But, he was just focused on not getting caught right now.
It was all he could do.
In all honesty, he was expecting another barrage of lightning from Denki. But it never came.
Confused, Bakugou let his boots hit the ground. He slid backward for a moment—the momentum from his last blast wearing off—as he watched the two villains. Suspicious of their behavior. Too experienced to feel relieved.
What the hell were they planning?
Deku the lion grinned at him, standing up straight to show his full height.
Bigger than a house.
That’s how big he was.
Smirking with fangs, Deku greeted Katsuki. “Ah, Kacchan. So nice of you to join us. We were just taking a little stroll. Talking about you, actually.”
Bakugou didn’t like the sound of that. And not just because it was Deku speaking.
“Your voice sounds like shit in that form Deku,” Ground Zero remarked. “Like a coyote who’s been hit in the face with a hammer.”
In the background, Bakugou could see Denki making a face.
It was an expression that Bakugou knew well. A face that meant that Denki agreed, but knew better than to jump in. Knew to stay out of it.
It was how he—sometimes—had avoided trouble back in high school. Back when Bakugou would constantly run his mouth. Used to be that Denki would snigger, or nod, or grin. But those days ended quickly when he realized such reaction would get him in just as much trouble as Bakugou.
Thus, THAT expression was born.
Really, Bakugou hadn’t known it was a thing until Denki reminded him.
It made his heart squeeze uncomfortably for some reason. Like it was twisting in a painful way.
So strange.
Deku didn’t seem disturbed by Katsuki’s comment, and he certainly had no idea about the face Kaminari was making.
He just grinned wickedly. “Different quirks have different effects on people. It happens. That’s not the point of us being out here, today, though.”
Without further preamble, Deku slammed his lion fist into a building.
Glass cascaded from the frame of the window he smashed, raining down on the street below. It was a lot of glass. A lot. Surely it had done some kind of damage. There’s no way anyone could just punch their fist through something like that and not be injured.
But Deku didn’t seem to be affected by it at all. Or, perhaps he was just too focused on what he was doing.
Reaching into the broken window, Deku brought something out. Something that was wriggling and squirming and screaming.
A person.
Deku grabbed a person.
A young lady by the looks of it, though Katsuki couldn’t be sure. The person was moving too much, and Bakugou’s blood was running too hot. His ears pounding an annoyingly loud, unsteady rhythm in his head.
“LET. HER. GO,” Bakugou growled at Deku, having to roar over the obnoxiously loud sound in his ears.
Annoying.
Deku grinned, his whiskers pulling back to reveal his lion teeth. The blood caked at the very tops where the tooth met gums.
Maybe Bakugou had been wrong before.
Maybe Deku wasn’t human at all.
“I’ll let her go Kacchan, but only if you answer my question,” Deku finally drawled. Letting the sentence flow sluggishly, as if he had all the time in the world.
He probably did, the useless, thief of a villain bastard.
“THEN ASK THE DAMN QUESTION,” Ground Zero roared back.
The beast swished its tail playfully. Like a kitten with a mouse in its paws.
“Tell me Kacchan, since you seem to think you know: what did you promise me, all those years ago?”
In the background, Bakugou vaguely registered Denki asking Deku, “oi, boss, did you mean to make that rhyme?” but it wasn’t something Bakugou registered immediately.
Because he was thinking in overtime right now.
Not because he had forgotten the promise. Definitely not. Not right after remembering it. But because he knew:
Deku shouldn’t know that.
Shouldn’t know that Bakugou remembered the promise.
How would he?
It was information only the police had. The police, and the top ranked heroes.
The realization hit quick, and its aftershock was felt even quicker.
There really was an agent among them. A viper. A rat.
Before it could make Bakugou’s stomach really churn, Deku set his hand on fire. The empty hand. He brought it close to the woman.
“I’m losing patience Kacchan. Answer me: what is the promise you think you remember?”
Bakugou didn’t like being called a lot of things. He’ll openly admit that.
But he had to say:
He especially hated being called a liar.
Though he hadn’t said it outright, he still felt it:
Deku was insinuating he was lying.
Bakugou made a “tch,” sound.
“We promised…”
The memory came attached to the words. Like mud on the bottom of your shoes after a walk in the woods during a heavy rain. Unwanted, and obvious. Something you’d like to get rid of, but would, in all likelihood, stick around until you got rid of the boots all together.
Annoying.
They were on the playground, playing hero like they always did.
Both of them pretended they were pros. Bakugou was, of course, All Might himself—because he could only be the best of the best, of course. And Deku had reluctantly assigned himself to be an older hero called Gran Torino, for some reason. It wasn’t anyone Katsuki had ever heard of, but it was someone Deku knew well. Because, really, there wasn’t a single hero Deku DIDN’T know about.
The two were “jetting” around the playground. Bakugou had just pretended to do an All Might leap onto the top of the playground (he’d used his quirk, of course) and Deku had just boosted himself up the stairs of the playground (running the old-fashioned way, of course). When they reached the top, they stood victoriously. Posing like heroes would. They both let out a heroic laugh to frighten any evildoers that might lurk beneath them, and that was when the promise was initiated.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to do this for real Kacchan? We could be heroes together and stand like this all the time!” Izuku’s enthusiasm was catching. Extremely contagious.
Katsuki could feel his heart swell at the idea. His excitement like the worst kind of sugar rush imagineable, running rabidly through his veins.
The sickness went to his mind.
In his defense, Bakugou didn’t know yet that Deku was quirkless. That there wasn’t really any chance of him becoming a hero. And, obviously, the fire hadn’t happened yet. Deku and Kacchan were still neighbors, still friends. Mrs. Midoriya was still alive and well, watching them as they stood up on the playground, laughing like only kids can, a gentle smile on her face.
Bakugou didn’t know.
Couldn’t have known.
If he had, there’s no way he would’ve said it. Never in a million years would he have made the promise.
He didn’t know.
“I promised you we’d be heroes together,” Bakugou finally lets out. Guilt hangs thicker than fog in the air, filling his lungs as the words are forced out of himself. As he watches the squirming woman and the dancing fire in the lion’s hands, he confesses his sin. “I promise that you and I would become the world’s greatest heroes, together. That we’d be a team. That I wouldn’t give up on that, and that I wouldn’t let you give it up either. I said that we’d be a team, or we’d never be heroes at all.”
It was that last part that got him.
That was what he was really responsible for.
All of that other stuff was circumstantial. Deku had to want it too. If Deku didn’t want to be a hero, it would’ve been wrong to force him. If they had grown up together—the fire nonexistent—gone to middle school together, it wouldn’t be Bakugou’s responsibility to ensure Deku still wanted to be a hero. To make sure that Deku was on the course to becoming one.
It would’ve been wrong to force him.
Bakugou couldn’t have been held responsible for that.
BUT.
There was his end of the bargain. The part that he COULD be held responsible for.
Not being a hero at all.
He’d still done it. Wholly and completely without Izuku. He’d done the thing he said he wouldn’t do.
He was a hero.
And a high-ranked one at that.
It wasn’t much, but still.
It was a broken promise.
And, to a boy who had everything in his life crumble—burn to the ground—perhaps that was all he had. Maybe that was all that Izuku had been left with, after the fire took what it wanted.
And Bakugou had broken it.
Without a second thought. Without a single glance. Without even remembering it on his own,
Bakugou had trampled that promise.
The space between the villains and the hero was thick. Heavy. As if they were waiting for the space to collapse, or implode.
Then Deku threw his head back.
And he laughed.
Looking at Katsuki with a devilish grin, he told him.
“Sorry Kacchan, that’s not the promise I’m looking for. Maybe you can try again later.”
And, with that, Deku’s fire spread.
Nearly engulfing the woman.

Chapter Text

Before Ground Zero could move, there was the sound of roaring fire.
Blue flames shot off from somewhere behind a building, hitting Deku in the back of the head.
Now was his chance.
As Deku’s mane caught fire, Ground Zero exploded forward. When he got close to Deku, he shot off a very controlled blast in the lion’s face.
It worked.
Stunned, Deku’s claws released the lady. And, before she could fall, Ground Zero caught her. Awkwardly, and with one arm, but still. He was able to keep her from falling by herself.
When he hit the ground, he threw the lady over his shoulder.
And he ran.
Sprinting with everything in him, he ran past Deku, and—miraculously—dodged Denki’s lightning blasts. All while carrying the screaming woman.
Damn.
Today sucked.
He sprinted behind a building, one that didn’t end with a dead-end alley, and set the lady down.
“Ma’am, I know that was scary as all hell, and I know you’re freaking the fuck out, but I need you to focus and run away. Got it? Run in that direction. We’ll hold them off, okay?” Ground Zero instructed.
Sniffling up her screams, she shakily nodded.
“Good. Now go before they realize you’re gone,” he directed.
Without the slightest bit of hesitation, the woman ran off. Which, honestly, was a surprise. People in shock were kind of hard to direct.
When she was a safe distance away, Bakugou peeked around the corner to see what he could see.
And he was glad he did.
Deku was on all fours, shaking his head furiously, trying to rid himself of the fire. Denki had stopped spurting lightning in order to try and help his boss—which, truth be told, was not going so well—and Dabi was standing just across the street from Bakugou. Hiding, just like he was. Watching the villains.
In all honesty, he never thought he’d be so relieved to see the zombie-faced freak in his whole life. But, here he was, finding himself relieved AND grateful.
After another moment, Deku seemed to be fed up with the flames on his mane. With his claws, he slashed out at a fire hydrant, decapitating it. It sent water spewing up into the air. Water which Deku leaned over, soaking his flaming head.
In the meantime, Bakugou looked over to Dabi and caught his eye. Silently, he mouthed, “Backup?”
Dabi nodded and mouthed back. “On their way.”
Bakugou tapped his wrist pointedly. Dabi got the message.
He held up a hand with all five fingers.
Great.
Another five minutes with these bastards. And it was only just him and Dabi.
Great.
Bakugou felt like he’d at least make it out of this one alive. After all, he—apparently—didn’t actually remember the promise. And it seemed pretty important to Deku that he did.
He just hoped that he could walk away from this with his quirk as well.
After another moment, Bakugou signaled to Dabi that he was going to rush forward. Dabi nodded, mouthing that he’d cover Bakugou with fire blasts.
That seemed about as good of a plan as any.
Taking a grenade off his belt, Ground Zero launched it at the two villains and sprinted forward.
When the villains registered the grenade, they also registered the fact that Ground Zero was rushing them. Before they could properly react to either, a wave of fire rushed by Bakugou’s head. Blue flames from hell that moved like it had a mind of its own.
Deku jumped straight into the air. Monstrous muscles in his legs shooting him up toward a building. At first, Bakugou thought he’d left Denki to fend for himself. But then, he saw the beast’s tail.
Apparently, it had a use.
Kaminari was trailing behind Deku, wrapped up in his tail.
And he wasn’t as preoccupied as Deku was.
As Denki’s metal arm took aim, Bakugou knew the lightning was coming.
Before it could hit him, he blasted sideways, away from the electric current. The red lightning charged forward, ripped a hole into the sidewalk, the road. Though, in all honesty, Bakugou’s blast was just as bad. He’d calculated wrong on the force, and he’d used a bigger blast than necessary, charring the ground and forcing a light post to melt and fall over.
But, hey.
At least he avoided death.
As Ground Zero shot toward a building, he nearly tried to ricochet off it. But, at the last second, he blasted himself so he shot just to the side of the building, avoiding it all together.
He could only ricochet with Uraraka’s quirk activated on him. If he tried to do it by himself, he’d probably break his legs.
Or fall like an idiot.
Damn.
He was cursing every part of him that had wanted her to NOT show up earlier. Even though this was dangerous, it was more dangerous without her. And Kirishima, for that matter. He’d feel a whole lot better if he had his team mates with him.
His thoughts were cut off by the sound of more fire roaring to life.
Spinning, he charged out of the alleyway he’d accidentally flown himself into. Back out on the street, he saw what the action was all about.
Denki has somehow made it to the ground and was blasting at Dabi with his lightning. Dabi was taking cover and sending flames back at him from behind the building. And Deku?
Deku was leaping over the building.
In a second, he’d be right on top of Dabi. Literally.
And Bakugou was sure that wouldn’t be good for Dabi.
Grabbing another grenade, he tossed it at Kaminari’s feet. It rolled right up to him, and he was too preoccupied with his own quirk usage to register that it was there.
When there was a moment of reprieve—the moment right before his grenade was going to go off—Bakugou shouted.
“RUN CORPSE FACE!”
That immediately got everyone’s attention.
But for Denki, it was too late.
The grenade went off at his feet, sending him skyward. And he was lucky his boss actually seemed to care about him. He was leaning over the rooftop, readying to pounce on Dabi, when he noticed his lackey was flying. Abandoning his attack, he shot into the sky after Denki to catch him.
In the meantime, the heroes regrouped.
Dabi ran over to Bakugou, both of them retreating behind another building.
“How much longer on that backup?” Bakugou asked.
“Still three minutes.”
“What the fuck? Why is time moving so slow?”
Dabi didn’t have an answer for him.
“We just need to keep them at bay. Your fire seems to do that fairly well, but you gotta look up too, you dumb ass. Deku can hurdle buildings like they’re nothing.”
“So I’ve gathered.”
Bakugou thought a moment, leg bouncing impatiently, arms crossed. “I think if we can keep this up for another three minutes, we might make it out alive. We just have to keep going like this until backup arrives.”
“No shit sherlock.”
Bakugou growled, but now wasn’t the time to pound Dabi’s face into mince meat.
“Besides, it’s already halfway there,” he thought to himself.
Peeking around the corner, Bakugou expected to find the villains regrouping.
But he found nothing.
“Shit. We have a problem.”
With that said, Bakugou immediately looked up.
And found a giant lion falling out of the sky at him.
“DABI!”
Both of the heroes used their quirks to push themselves away. Bakugou created multiple blasts so he could move fast enough, and Dabi rode out a wall of blue flames.
With the heroes on opposite sides of the alleyway, and a giant lion in between them, the question remained:
Where did Denki go?
Seeing the question rise in his eyes, Deku answered, “I sent Denki home. I can hear the choppers are coming. I know backup is on the way. It’ll be too much for him to handle.”
“But not too much for you?” Dabi questioned.
Grinning lazily, Deku said, “No.”
As simple as that.
And then, Deku surprised him even further.
He shrunk.
Back into his human form.
This time, he was wearing a bit more than underwear. Some of his pants had managed to survive the transformation as well, though they were cut now. Looking more like shorts than anything else. Bakugou was disturbed once again by all the scars that ran like train tracks all over Deku’s body. Places where he’d been burnt and cut and stitched.
It seemed to disturb Dabi too.
“The hypocrite,” Bakugou thought to himself.
But now wasn’t the time for snide remarks.
Bakugou wanted answers.
“What the fuck happened to you Deku? Where did you go after the fire?”
It was the question that burned in his mind stronger than a solar flare.
One of Deku’s green eyebrows rose playfully, lackadaisically. Running a finger over the scar on his chest, he smiled brightly. “You mean these old things? They’re spoils of war. Proof that I’m not so useless anymore Kacchan. If it weren’t for my master slicing me open and putting me back together again, I might not have ever made it this far. That lion quirk would probably rip me to pieces—actually, it did once. Can you believe that!” he laughed, an oddly light sound. Not mixing with the mood well at all.
It set the heroes’ stomachs on edge.
Face sobering up, Deku gave Katsuki a very direct stare. “I had to do something though, didn’t I? When that fire came… I was useless. Completely useless. And there wasn’t a single hero in sight. Not a one. There was supposed to be. Remember that Kacchan? There was SUPPOSED to be a hero there for me. But there wasn’t. And as a result, I lost everything in that fire. Because of HEROES who LIE about WHO THEY ARE!”
The last part was a shout. A roar. It rocked the earth under their feet and shattered the glass of the buildings he was sandwiched in between. It was so loud, and so percussive, that both heroes had to cover their ears. But even then, Deku’s words reached them loud and clear.
“I WAS USELESS BAKUGOU. WORTHLESS. WAITING ON A HERO THAT WOULD NEVER COME. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT WAS LIKE. LISTENING TO MY PARENTS SCREAM IN THE OTHER ROOM AS I HUDDLED UNDER THE SMOKE. THE SMOKE COMING OFF OF THEIR CHARRING BODIES. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.”
His eyes were wild, fierce. Alive in a way that Bakugou didn’t fully understand. A way he didn’t ever want to fully comprehend.
Because that place in his eyes…
It was terrifying.
A nightmare in the waking world.
Bakugou had never felt his soul move in reaction to what a villain said to him. And he’d never felt his soul move so violently, so painfully.
But he felt it now.
The way his insides shook, his chest a puffing mess. Like fog was seeping in to his core, like everything he’d ever stood on was made of jello.
Bakugou wasn’t sure how to move.
How to proceed.
“Deku, I…”
His words choked off. Catching in his mind.
There was another promise…
…wasn’t there?
Blood and fire still pooling in his eyes, damming up like the worst river there could ever be, Deku roared again. In his human voice. Without the noise of a lion, but with every bit of its fierceness.
“I’LL NEVER BE USELESS AGAIN KACCHAN. NO ONE WILL. I’LL SHOW THEM WHAT THEIR HEROES ARE. THAT THEY CAN’T BE RELIED ON. THEY CAN’T WAIT FOR PEOPLE. PEOPLE ARE UNRELIABLE. HEROES ARE NOTHING MORE THAN THAT. THEY’RE JUST…” he sighed, taking a deep, shuddering breath, and releasing it calmly.
Looking at Bakugou, he caged that fire. Sealed away that burning room, that building filled with hell and defeat and regret and a million other things that have been burning since that night.
Controlled, he finished his statement.
“Heroes are just people. It’s best not to rely on them.”
By the end of the rant, he’d stopped being angry.
He was…
Sad.
And Bakugou could imagine what he felt. Like being told Santa was really there to steal from you, or that the Easter bunny was really a coyote in disguise.
Disappointment.
Despair.
The realization that things are never as they seem.
Broken dreams.
That’s why he was so, so sad.
And, in a way, Bakugou could relate.
But, in the end:
He still thought Deku was wrong.
Not that he could tell the villain that. Not now. Not when Deku was raising literal hellfire, burning the space between the two heroes, between the buildings. Not when sharp obsidian was shooting out of the ground, their ends glinting sharply in the light of the flames. Dark and hungry, edges that were serrated, jutting out of the ground at alarming speeds.
“Heroes are just people Kacchan. They sleep, and they eat, and, most importantly, they bleed. They die. They fade away.”
A howling wind rose up, carrying the flames to greater heights. Needlessly showcasing Deku’s power in a dramatic and immense way.
Hair swirling with the flames, eyes simmering in their light, Deku continued.
“That’s my mission Kacchan. You wanted to know my motives? This is it. The root of the problems of my life, of society—they begin with you, and him, and every other hero parading around like they’re angels. Like they’re better than people. Like they know more, or can be more. People need to learn for themselves Kacchan. They need to defend themselves. Stand up for themselves. Because, when it comes down to it: if they don’t, no one will.”
The wind rose, the flames rose, and the obsidian kept bursting out of the ground. Ground Zero let off a few blasts, backing himself up. Dabi did the same, only, with blue flames.
How far was Deku’s reach?
Exactly how much danger were they in?
As he began wondering about how deep he really was, Bakugou noticed that Deku was staring at him. Intently.
With the flames in his eyes, Deku spoke again.
“I’ll kill as many heroes as it takes to make them realize: no one can save them if they don’t try to save themselves. I’ll kill all of you, if I have to. I’ll start here, today, even. If I have to, I’ll start with you Kacchan. I’m not afraid to. I’m not afraid to start with you.”
Bakugou felt the bottom of the universe drop out. His stomach twisted into knots.
This wasn’t his friend.
Not at all.
Not the Deku he remembered.
Though it seemed to him that Deku was mostly monologuing to convince himself, he was sure:
Deku would do it.
In fact, he was fairly certain he was about to.
Pain bloomed inside Bakugou’s chest, waiting for the blow. Watching as his childhood friend raised a hand, something dark and festering beginning to grow in his fingertips. The way his face distorted, doing his best to smile as he raised his weapon—as he raised his hand against Bakugou.
It was…
Agonizing.
Just to watch Deku move like that. His smile so distorted by his pain. The excruciating feelings welling up inside him. The feelings that had nothing to do with Bakugou.
And everything to do with him, all at the same time.
They were friends during the fire.
They were friends after.
Both of them had survived the fire. Hadn’t been physically touched by its angry hand.
And yet, the flames reached between the two. Burned whatever had been between them. Left a charred place. A withered spot. Ground that was good once. A full forest, probably. A place where life was simple, easy, calm.
That was gone.
And what had Bakugou done to stop it? To help that burning place?
…nothing.
Absolutely nothing.
He’d been fighting that feeling for so long, but now…
He was certain.
Some part of the Deku that existed now?
Part of it was his fault.
And the beast that would emerge from behind this wall of flames now? The creature he would become once the festering reached out to Bakugou? The villain he’d be once the glass and wind and obsidian and fire had all stopped?
That’d be his fault too.
At least, if he didn’t move, it would be.
The festering grew in Deku’s hand. Bakugou could see it rearing up, like a snake about to strike. A sad, warped smile crossed Deku’s face.
“Sorry Kacchan, but this is something I have to do. You’re in the way of making things better, so you have to go.”
Jittery nerves burst through Bakugou’s forearms as he readied himself to blast off.
“Don’t do this Deku. You’re better than this. You’re a hero at heart, you always were,” Katsuki pleaded.
Not because he was afraid for his own life.
But because he was afraid for Izuku’s.
Smile twisting more fully, cutting into Deku’s features, he said, so very simply:
“I still am.”
The moment stretched like a rubber band. Like a rope with not enough strength. Gauze pulled too thin.
It wasn’t going to work.
Something was about to snap.
Break.
Shatter into a million pieces.
Bakugou didn’t want it to be him.
He didn’t want it to be him.
When the moment broke, it shattered them all.
Disbelief coursed through their bodies. As paralyzing as fear—if not, then more so.
The land shattered, obsidian flying back toward Deku. Something hit, crushing the ground beneath itself.
Someone had made one hell of a landing.
Standing before them, white lightning stretching around him was a guy. A guy with a cracking face, with dry skin, with a cut on his lip.
A guy who looked right at Deku and spoke with the kind of authority that moved metal to make them tanks, and tanks into armies.
“One for All. We meet again.”
And, as Deku’s eyes widened with recognition, Bakugou could only feel three words rising to the surface of his mind.
What the fuck.

Chapter Text

Not that Bakugou was ungrateful for not being made into…goo, or dust, or ashes, or whatever the fuck Deku was about to make him into—because, definitely, he was grateful.
He was just confused.
And if there’s one thing Ground Zero doesn’t like, it’s being confused.
Especially on the job.
“Who the fuck’re you? Are you the back up?” Ground Zero spouted.
He didn’t look like backup to Bakugou. What was he wearing? Jeans and a hoodie? What the fuck?
The guy turned to look at him sidelong, his eyebrows drawing in.
“Is this really the time?”
Haphazardly, Bakugou shrugged. “For all I know, you’re on HIS side,” he said, gesturing to Deku.
Deku laughed once, harshly. “No, this asshole isn’t with me.”
“So then… he’s with us?” Dabi shouted, his uncertainty carrying well.
Bakugou shouted back immediately, not wanting to miss his opportunity at a dig. It’d help his nerves.
“You don’t know this clown either? He looks like he’s from your neck of the woods. Look at the bags under his eyes!”
“Kacchan.”
The villain’s dark voice rang clearly through the still burning flames. When Katsuki looked to Deku, he felt his stomach drop out again.
Right.
They were in a fight to the death.
And Deku clearly meant business.
“I can assure you this isn’t the time Kacchan.”
The heroes shifted. The mood turning cold again through the flames.
“Right,” Bakugou muttered.
“I’m on your side Ground Zero, trust me on that,” the white-haired guy said.
His lightning was so…
Strange.
Yet, oddly familiar.
So was the way he landed. It kind of reminded him of All Might’s glory days. Back before Bakugou himself was even a hero.
Clueless of Bakugou’s inner thoughts, the white-haired guy faced Deku.
“You won’t be running away this time, One for All.”
Red flames jumped higher into the sky, burning vividly red.
“Don’t call me by his name. I haven’t earned it yet,” Deku growled.
Woah.
Clearly, that was a trigger point for Deku.
Strange.
It was strange to see this new hero—at least, Bakugou hoped to the gods he was a hero—swoop in and mess with Deku.
Clearly this guy understood things about him that no one else did. Even Bakugou.
So then…
Where the hell had this guy been?
Why hadn’t he shown up sooner?
The question didn’t have a second to be asked.
In the next instant, it seemed like the world exploded.
And not in the fun way, like when Bakugou used his quirk. This was horrible. Way worse.
Super bad, actually.
Ground cracking underneath him like an eggshell, Deku braced himself before he leapt.
The white-haired guy with the cracked face did the same thing. And, much to Bakugou’s surprise, got the same result. The ground impacting under his feet, breaking apart like it did for Deku.
And then, the moment they both coiled to strike, they weren’t there anymore.
They disappeared for a moment. Gone. Moving faster than lightning, or sound.
Then came the boom.
KABOOOOOM!!!!
Bakugou’s heart was imploding as he was skyrocketed by the blast. Not because he was afraid of falling back down—he wasn’t. In fact, he immediately began using his quirk to boost himself upward, blasting underneath himself so he could face the place where he had just been thrown from. Blasting himself up and back, toward the top of a building—no, he wasn’t scared for himself.
He was scared for Deku.
And that white-haired guy.
What the fuck did they just do? How had either of them even survived?
And how would he feel about it if the answer was “no”?
And then, belatedly, he realized Dabi was still around somewhere too. Another person to add to his list of worries.
When he reached the top of a building, he stopped blasting. Let himself drift onto the ledge of the building—a little wobbly, but he still was standing strong. And, as he reached it, the light from the attack went out. Simmering until there was nothing left of the white-and-red blast except the aftermath.
And it was a mess.
Eight buildings total had been crushed. Their support beams probably sliced by the attack, then everything from that point onward had been obliterated by the aftershock.
Man.
In all honesty, Bakugou was lucky he’d been blown skyward.
It was a strange thing, really, that he wasn’t dead.
But now wasn’t the time to think about that. His luck and his nerves and his fear had to all be pushed aside for the moment. Shoved into that space just below his chest, swallowed down to some dark place. Ignored for now.
There was—miraculously—still a fight going on.
Below him, in a larger-than-life crater, stood Deku, still in his cut-off pin-stripe pants, and the white-haired guy, wearing a hero outfit that had been hidden under his clothes. Oddly enough, it was a light gray hue. A cape unfolded as he touched the rest of what remained of his hoodie and it disappeared, crumbling away like ash. The cape was light blue.
Odd choices for a hero, Bakugou thought.
Especially one that packed such a punch.
You’d think he’d want more presence than that…
But now wasn’t the time for trying to decipher this guy’s fashion choices.
The two down in the crater were talking. Not shouting, just talking. Probably Deku was spewing some nonsense shit again, and the white-haired guy was fucking with him about it.
Good.
Deku needed an ass-kicking. A reminder of what heroes are. What they do.
Maybe then…
No.
Probably not.
Growling, Bakugou leapt off the building, going in a direction that would take him around the fighting duo.
He’d have to get over this.
He’d HAVE to.
Clearly, Deku had gone off the deep-end after the fire. Completely lost his marbles.
What had happened after the fire? Where did Deku go? Who did he meet?
Who put these bullshit ideas in his head?
And how could he prove to Deku that they were wrong? That those ideas were lies? That they were just a few degrees off from being right?
Because, to a certain extent, Bakugou agreed. People should understand their quirks. Use them in situations where they can help themselves. Be trained well enough that they don’t hurt themselves or others in desperate situations.
But he also disagreed.
Heroes were highly trained. Honed fighters. Calm under duress, during fire and flood and fight. Heroes watched out for others in ways that others couldn’t watch out for themselves.
Society needed to be able to stand on its own, yes.
But it also needed heroes.
How could he get Deku to see that?
It was a conundrum for after he found corpse-face. Made sure he was okay. Dabi had to be his top priority at the moment. HAD to be.
So he searched through rubble. Behind the building that they both had been standing by.
And Bakugou found him.
Miraculously, he was still alive.
Unconscious, but still breathing.
“Shit,” Bakugou muttered as he shifted a lamp post off Dabi’s body.
In the next instant, he was running his hands over Dabi’s shirt. Along his ribcage, seeing if anything was misplaced.
If he moved Dabi, and there was a rib broken in there hanging close to his lung…
Well.
It wouldn’t be good.
But, somehow, Dabi seemed pretty put together.
As put-together as you can be with your face stitched on, that is.
“Up you go zomb-o. Easy does it, I’ll get you out of this shit-fest,” Bakugou muttered, mostly to keep himself on track.
His whole being was split. Torn.
Try to save Staple Man.
Try to help Cracked-face.
Try to talk some sense into that shitty nerd.
There was a lot going on in his head. A lot of things he needed to reconcile, a lot of things he needed to sort. And he didn’t have time, didn’t have opportunity. Didn’t have a clue as to how he was going to do any of that, let alone all of it, like he should do.
So.
Start with the most important:
Getting Dabi to safety.
Tossing Dabi onto his shoulder, he took off sprinting. Running toward a direction that was away from the fight.
And man.
It took fucking FOREVER.
As he ran, he heard several more booms from behind him. Knew that that white-haired weirdo was duking it out with Deku still. That those two were forces of nature, forces to be reckoned with.
Bakugou wanted so badly to be there. To see what was happening.
To talk to Deku.
To explain.
To find out:
What the hell was the other promise?
He’d felt it reaching forward in his mind. Poking at the place that was coherent, but dodging back into the shadows the moment he tried to reach for it.
It had been triggered by something Deku said…
But what WAS it?
Both things were illuding him now. Both Deku’s words, and the promise he was supposed to remember. All of it was foggy. Tossed around in his mind like a bouncy ball; too fast to catch, but just present enough to be noticed.
Gritting his teeth, he picked up his pace. Desperate to talk to Deku before something happened. Before he took things too far and slaughtered that white-haired guy. Before he disappeared into the night. Before he was captured by the police.
He needed to talk to Deku again. Calmly. He needed answers.
What did promise did he break that was so important to him?
“Damnit,” Bakugou swore, right before he turned a corner and nearly ran into a police line.
Not bothering to stop, he shouted at a police officer. The officer turned just in time for Ground Zero to throw Dabi into his arms—and he reacted just fast enough that Dabi didn’t hit the ground.
“GET HIM TO A MEDIC!” Ground Zero ordered, before running a few steps back the way he came, and blasted himself into the sky.
Thank fuck.
Running was way too fucking slow. Especially when something this crazy was going on. Something this urgent.
Desperate, Bakugou let loose giant blasts. Lighting up the sky like it was July. Doing his best to rocket back to the scene faster.
He needed to talk to Deku…
When he was overhead, it was pretty obvious. Ground Zero wasn’t much of a stealth hero, and his large blasts were the most obvious thing he had in his arsenal.
Both the white-haired guy and the villain looked up at him. Watched as he approached.
He figured he was in trouble when Deku raised his hand to the sky.
And he thought he was ready for it. Really, he did.
But he forgot:
Deku was a quirk thief. And, clearly, he’d been hunting down quirks for a while. More than likely, Bakugou hadn’t seen half of what Deku could do.
The shockwave that ran off Deku’s hand, piercing the sky, was earth shattering. Bakugou felt his bones shaking inside his skin as his teeth rattled together violently.
Desperate to get the feeling—and the sound—out of his body, he threw his hands to his ears, singing the edges as they were still hot from explosions.
But that didn’t matter. He was used to the aftereffects of his own quirk.
What mattered was the what came after.
Red lightning.
The shockwave was clearly a distraction.
This was Deku’s real plan of attack.
And—fuck!
It worked.
A red bolt struck Ground Zero squarely in the shoulder. Pain lanced into his veins, sliding under his skin. It raced its way through his system at a speed only electricity could manage.
It was too much.
His heart stuttered.
Overexerted.
Exhausted.
The blast bite at the valves in his heart, chased its beating.
Broke him.
And he’d never been so pissed off in his whole life.
Fucking Deku.
He was trying to talk to that little shit, and he had to go and do THIS? REALLY?
And, on top of that, it was regretful.
Uraraka was nowhere in sight.
If he died here, and Ochaco’s beautiful face wasn’t the last thing he’d get to see…
He’d haunt that shitty villain for the rest of his life.
That was what he was thinking—if he could think. The bolt biting into his bones was making everything fuzzy. Making it hard to concentrate, to think.
Until, finally, Bakugou stopped.
That night, Ground Zero did something he’d only ever done once before—and he’d only done that for Uraraka.
He fell.

Chapter Text

“Awww, fuuuuck,” Bakugou groaned.
It felt like someone had dropped a hammer on his head from the top of Kyoto Tower. Like his head was splitting right down the center.
When he went to feel—just to be sure his head was actually one solid, single piece—he let out a roar of pain.
Woah.
Was his shoulder on FIRE??
What the fuck?
Opening his eyes—he was glad they still worked—he sought out the source of his pain.
And he found that he was in a hospital bed. With wires hooked to his arms. An IV feed, a heart monitor, tons of gauze wrapped around his shoulder…
Oh yeah!
The memory of the confrontation with Deku replayed in his head. All of it, moving so fast. He remembered flying toward them. He remembered watching the white-haired guy and Deku take out an entire block with one attack. He remembered running through the destroyed bits of city. He remembered throwing Dabi at the police.
And he remembered the lightning.
And he remembered falling.
All of it was too much, too fast. The memories were causing his heartrate to pick up, his monitor started beeping quicker.
As soon as the beeping picked up, he felt a disturbance at his bedside. Two disturbances, actually. One on each side of him.
Startled into sitting up, Ochaco and Kirishima both looked at him—both of them carting a bit of drool around in the corner of their mouth.
He couldn’t help himself.
He laughed.
The heart monitor’s beeping slowed down more as he grinned at them both.
“You two look like dorks.”
“BAKUGOU! BUDDY!” Kirishima exclaimed, registering the fact that Bakugou was awake and alive.
Katsuki beamed at his best friend.
The other exclamation was more of a breathy whisper. Said through a tight throat, tears in her voice.
“Katsuki.”
That one word, with that tone, nearly broke him right then.
His chest squeezed painfully, in a way that science and medical mumbo-jumbo had nothing to do with.
He lifted his hand to her face, finding it a bit difficult, but still managing.
Once there, Uraraka held it in place, closing her eyes.
He couldn’t help but think she was so beautiful.
Thank gods—thank gods—he was able to see her again.
A breath that had been held deep, deep inside him came out. A relief to exhale.
“Hey Angel.”
She opened her eyes, and his chest constricted again when he saw that they were shining.
“How long have I been out?” he asked.
“Two days.”
Disbelief hit him harder than Deku’s lightning. “TWO DAYS? Holy shit. No wonder you dorks look so worried.”
Both of his team mates gave him breathless laughs. Still too worried to fully appreciate the statement.
His hand was too tired to keep it up at her face, so he let it drift. Though he held his fingers open, a silent invite. Ochaco took it immediately, lacing their fingers together as best she could. After a gentle squeeze, he asked what was really on his mind.
“So… what happened? To the white-haired guy and Deku? Did they…?”
He wasn’t sure how to finish that.
Mostly because there were so many ways he COULD finish it.
Did they fight to the death? Did Deku get caught? Did Dabi recover? Did the two of them destroy the city? Where were they now?
So many blanks needed to be filled in, he wasn’t sure where to start.
Ochaco answered.
“After he knocked you out of the sky, Tenko jumped up to catch you. Lucky for you, too. You were out cold,” he couldn’t ignore the tremor in her voice as she said the last bit. He gave her hand another squeeze and she let out a small breath, gathering the courage to move forward with the story. “Deku used that as his opportunity to escape. Tenko rushed you to the hospital after that.”
“Fuck,” Bakugou roared quietly.
He’d fucked everything up.
What would have happened if he hadn’t gotten blasted out of the sky like an idiot?
“There’s no need to beat yourself up Katsuki, you were doing what you thought you ought to do, and you weren’t even wrong,” Kirishima chimed in. “Those two were causing a lot of destruction, and you were just trying to put a stop to it. That’s part of your job.”
“…yeah.”
It was Ochaco’s turn to give comfort. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze, which he immediately returned.
Damn.
It felt so good to see her. He felt like it’d been ages.
And same with Kirishima, but, in a very different way.
“See you’re out of the slammer now,” Bakugou remarked, grinning.
He was definitely going to hold that over him for a while, that’s for sure.
But Kirishima was good-natured enough that he grinned. “Yeah, I am. Squeaky clean. Couldn’t find any evidence that I have any ties to any type of villains—yakuza or otherwise. They couldn’t even find proof that I met with them, aside from that fabricated tape.”
“Yeah, that pissed us both of pretty good,” Katsuki said, feeling the familiar anger rise up. “Those dipshit cops…”
Kirishima shrugged, unbothered. “It is what it is. Honestly, I’d have found it weird if they DIDN’T investigate me. I just wish they could’ve done it without throwing me in jail.”
“And ruining your date?”
The red-haired hero froze. Bakugou gave him a shit-eating grin before he remembered how he came across the knowledge in the first place. It soured his mood, tainted his smugness.
“By the way, you owe me BIG TIME for that one. Mina called me up at, like, four in the fucking morning, you know.”
Kirishima visibly winced. “Sorry, she was just worried.”
“Yeah, and I can’t blame her. If her shitty-haired boyfriend would’ve just TOLD his FUCKING BEST FRIEND that the two of them were going out, then the hair-for-brains’ best friend could’ve called her at a DECENT FUCKING HOUR to let her know the situation instead of getting woken up at hell-o’clock in the fucking morning,” he lectured.
It made Kirishima even more sheepish. “Sorry. I just… I’m not sure whether we’re official yet or not.” Now Bakugou’s best friend looked worried, which put an even bigger damper on the mood. “I mean, we’ve been on a few dates, but we’ve never said that we were exclusive or anything…”
Bakugou shook his head.
See, he loved Kirishima, but this was something they’d gone in circles about numerous times:
His self-worth.
Granted, he was much better than he was in middle school—and, if it weren’t for his work study with Fatgum, he’d probably be a lot worse than he is now—but, still. There were certain things, and certain times, where Kirishima questioned himself. How good he was. How much he was worth.
It was all bullshit to Bakugou.
His best friend was worth a thousand moons—an entire fucking galaxy, actually. If he wanted something, he should just say so.
Because he’d get it.
Which is what he said—in his roundabout Bakugou way.
“Then what the fuck’re you waiting for? GO MAKE IT OFFICIAL HAIR FOR BRAINS!” Katsuki practically roared at his best friend.
Stunned, Kirishima froze for a moment. Then, after another, Uraraka nodded at him.
“I’ve got things handled here. Go be with Mina. I’m sure she’ll be excited to see you,” she added, a genuine smile peeking out from the corners of her mouth.
It triggered Kirishima’s responses once more. Jumpstarting his actions.
He stood. Pretty awkwardly, but, determined. Back straight and arms flexed, fists clenched—either with determination, or fear, Bakugou wasn’t sure. Kirishima looked up, face set.
All in all: a very manly way to stand up.
“Right. You two, get some rest. Especially you Bakugou,” he directed.
“Tch. Don’t tell me how to live my life. I’ll do whatever the fuck I want,” Katsuki replied.
Which, essentially, translated to:
I will.
“Good luck!” Uraraka called out as Kirishima dashed out the door.
He waved as the door closed behind him.
And then there were two.
Silence filled the room like a gas, thick and suffocating. At first, they sat and waited for it to dissipate. But, when the revelation came that it wouldn’t, Uraraka was the first to speak.
“I thought…” her voice choked off. Clearing it, she tried again. “I thought you weren’t going to make it.”
He nodded at her. Not agreeing, acknowledging.
“Yeah. Being struck by lightning is pretty shitty. But, I told you already, I’m not going anywhere, you know?”
She sniffled, looked away. Was she ashamed that she was worried?
Damn.
That hadn’t been what he wanted…
“Oi, Angel, get up here. I miss you.”
His arms were wide open when she looked up. Ready to embrace her.
“But, you’re shoulder…”
“Fuck my shoulder, it can suffer. It’s just being a whiny bitch right now—I’ll survive it. Now get up here, my arms are getting cold.”
She rolled her still-teary eyes, but did as he asked.
Carefully, she climbed into the bed. Settled herself down lying next to him, her head resting on his chest while her hand drew idle patterns on his stomach through the bedsheet.
He felt better already.
“Sorry,” he muttered, just to add to the effect. Get it off his chest. Make himself feel lighter.
Because, truth be told, he was sorry.
He hated worrying her. Though, of course, he didn’t do it on purpose.
She shook her head. “’S not your fault. Deku is really strong, and you were doing your best. If it weren’t for you, Dabi might not have made it.”
“Oh yeah, corpse face WAS there, wasn’t he? How’s he holding up?”
“Good, all things considered. Probably better than you by now.”
“Not possible.”
“What? How do you figure?”
“Well, first of all, his face is fifty percent staples—”
“Katsuki!”
He grinned wickedly at her, pressing on to stop her outburst.
“And secondly, because he doesn’t have YOU in his bed.”
His words had the desired effect.
His wife turned red in the face. Blushing beautifully as the heat made its way down her neck to her chest.
“You…”
He grinned again, pulling her closer and landing a quick kiss on her nose.
“Are amazing?”
She scoffed, but didn’t disagree.
In all honesty, he was so glad.
So, so glad.
That he was here still. That SHE was here still. That they were able to still lie in bed together like this. That they could look forward to a time when they were in their own bed, back at home.
He couldn’t believe it, really.
All things considered, it was a miracle he was alive. That he’d survived the attack without his left and right hands—without his best friends.
It was incredible.
And the fight still weighed heavily—oh, did it weigh heavy—but now wasn’t the time. The guilt and the fear and the uncertainty—all that dumb shit could wait. Right now, he just wanted to enjoy this moment. Enjoy the fact that he was holding his wife. That they were talking, and giggling, and slowly falling asleep next to each other.
Yeah.
He was just going to try to heal right now. That’s all.

 

The bottle was shoved off the counter, toppling over and shattering as Deku’s ass bumped it.
Kurogiri, Kaminari, Compress and Twice were all on their feet, ready to jump in. Intervene, in whatever way they could.
But Deku gave them his commanding eyes.
Eyes that told them to back down. To let this happen.
Reluctantly, they relaxed.
Still watching though.
Watching as the hero slammed Deku against the counter. As he snarled, fire visible in his mouth as he spoke.
“You almost killed my brother.”
Deku shrugged. “I told you, it was an accident. I wouldn’t have killed him on purpose. The building fell where it did, that’s all.”
The hero snarled again, ice lancing its way across Deku’s shirt and onto the counter.
Shoto was not pleased.
“If my brother could’ve died, then that means that innocent people could’ve died as well. I thought you were against that, DEKU,” he spat the name like it was a curse. Like it was tobacco in his mouth. Grungy and slimy and putrid.
Deku glared.
“I AM against innocent people dying. That area was clear of citizens when I let loose. Dabi was there to stop me because he’s a hero. In all honesty, I don’t mind heroes dying. If they’re for their own cause, then they deserve it. However, I WAS being extra-cautious for your sake, because I know your brother is important to you. I swear to you Shoto, I was doing my best.”
Todoroki glared at Deku a moment more.
Then released his fists from his vest.
“Sorry, I… I believe you,” he said, a bit uncertain. As if he were aboard a boat, still getting his sea-legs.
Deku straightened his tie, and nodded at him somberly. “It’s alright Shoto, I can let it slide. I understand. Family is very important. Very, very important.”
And he meant it.
If there was one thing Deku believed, it was that family was important. That it mattered.
It mattered.
Once his tie was straightened, he cleared his throat and made an announcement.
“We’ve made quite an impression. The people are shaken, scared. That’s good. We’re slowly driving our point home, which is good. However, a new problem has risen.”
Pulling out a photo, he tossed it on the countertop of the bar. Letting the others gawk at the white-haired man a moment.
“HE is here.”

Chapter Text

Bakugou had been home five nights now. Luckily, Recovery Girl was a forgiving lady, or she wouldn’t have overlooked all the times Bakugou made her work overtime in school, and she wouldn’t have had a hand in making his shoulder better.
But, as previously mentioned:
She was a very forgiving lady.
Even to a little shit like Bakugou.
That said, his arm was feeling heaps better. No longer needing painkillers. Not prescription ones anyway. He’d already weened himself off those. And his physical therapy was progressing excellently. Partially because he took it very seriously, and also because he was dying to get back to work, which meant taking P.T. VERY seriously.
But, when he wasn’t going to the doctor’s or doing therapy, he was on the computer.
Re-watching all the available footage from that night.
Not that it told him much. Just that he had done a shit job of guessing Deku’s next move. That lightning bolt was completely telegraphed. He should’ve seen it coming, even from the handful of miles away.
It was stupid.
Additionally, he’d already memorized Deku’s words. Replaying them over and over and over again, hoping they’d trigger his memory like they nearly had that night.
But…
It was useless.
For whatever reason, Deku’s words replayed didn’t have the same effect they had on that night. There was no memory in the fog. No words just barely tickling his mind. There was just… emptiness.
And frustration.
Oh, was there frustration.
He had that in heaps. In bucket loads. Truck loads. So much frustration.
And guilt.
That didn’t hit him until he was about to sleep though.
He’d lie awake and think about it. About how he fucked up. How he hadn’t been there for Deku. How it definitely would’ve made a difference.
What would things be like if he hadn’t abandoned Deku? If he’d been a better friend?
He’d shudder at the thought when it hit him at midnight. Cold in the dark.
Was Deku safe after the fire? Was he terrified all the time? Did he hide? Where did he go? Who raised him? Were they good to Deku?
Or did they give him those scars?
Sometimes when he slept, he dreamt that he was the one giving Deku those scars. Crying and sobbing, but unable to stop. Burning and slicing and slamming permanent reminders into Deku’s body while Katuski wept like a baby. Like HE was the one getting wipped.
When he had that dream, he would usually wake covered in sweat.
That one…
It hurt him.
It hurt him a lot.
In a physical way, almost. His stomach would curl and he felt like vomiting. The reoccurring nightmare was the shittiest nightmare he’d ever experienced—even worse than when his dreams made him relive the sludge man attack.
Some nights, though, he’d have the dream, and it would be the other way around. He’d have dreams that DEKU was giving HIM scars.
He felt better about that one.
Not that he was a masochist—he wasn’t, pain sucked—but because it felt like a relief in some way.
He earned it.
That’s what he felt in the dream. In the dream, he’d sit there and let Deku set him on fire, or curl barbed wire around his neck, or spit in his face or whatever.
He deserved it.
One night, he was having such a dream. A dream where Deku was slowly feeding him into a woodchipper. It hurt—oh, it hurt like nothing else—but Bakugou didn’t fight it.
Because what Deku was saying was true.
It didn’t make much sense to him, but it did in the dream. In the dream world, everything made sense. Nothing given voice was wrong, or confusing. It was all truth, and it was all instantly understood.
“This is what you get Kacchan. This is what comes from the things you hide in the dark.”
Yeah… it was.
Deku was right.
This was his bad. His fault. He earned this. Deserved it. He’d ruined a kid’s life. Broken a promise.
He’d promised Deku—
“KATSUKI, WAKE UP.”
He startled awake, jerking violently, jarring his shoulder a bit.
When his eyes adjusted—which, for some reason, was very hard for him, he had to blink a ridiculous amount of times—he saw it was his wife waking him. Looking over at him with drawn-in eyebrows, looking…
Scared.
“Ochaco, what’s wrong? Are you okay? Is there danger?” he asked, transitioning into husband mode seamlessly, sitting up in another blink, assessing their dark bedroom for threats.
“Katsuki, you were sobbing. In your sleep.”
“I—what?” he blinked again, finding it more difficult to see than he should.
When she nodded at him, he touched his fingertips to his face.
And, yeah.
There were tears.
He really had been sobbing in his sleep.
Embarrassed, he threw his face into his forearm to wipe the rest away. To hide his tear-stained face.
Shit.
He couldn’t believe he’d woken her up for a stupid dream. He immediately tried to fix his voice, make it not so soaked with sobs. Did his best to derail her worry. “It’s fine, I’m fine. Just a nightmare. It’s over now though. I’m sorry I woke you. Really, really sorry, but it’s okay. We can go back to sleep.”
Before he could really, truly insist on it, he felt a warm touch on his forearm.
He dropped it, allowing his wife to look at him through the dark.
“You’re not fine.”
The way she said it was so simple. And it was her no-bullshit tone, which meant he couldn’t brush her off. Couldn’t reassure her like he wanted to.
Instead, he let out a ragged, breathless laugh.
“Yeah, I… I’m kind of not,” he admitted, voice thick again.
“Baby, what are you thinking that’s got you so worked up?” She leaned into him as she asked, doing her best to see him through the dark.
Even in a moment like this, her earnest voice had his heart hammering away. Even in the dark, he could feel her eyes pierce through him. Her ability to see his weakness, his vulnerable spots… it was absolutely terrifying.
And exactly what he needed.
“What kind of guilt are you carrying love?” Uraraka asked, brushing his tears away with her thumb.
Damn.
She was so soft. And warm. So comforting.
Safe.
That’s what she was.
He leaned into her palm, wanting desperately for her to never stop touching him.
He hadn’t forgotten though:
She had asked him a question. And he fully intended to answer her.
“It’s stupid. I just… keep finding ways to blame myself. No matter which way I slice it, it’s somehow my fault. If I had been a better friend back then, kept in touch, then maybe he wouldn’t have—”
Ochaco was shaking her head, a stern expression on her face.
“What?” he asked.
She shook her head just once more. “No, don’t do that. Don’t do something stupid like that. That’s a rabbit hole you’ll never come out of Katsuki. It isn’t your fault. You were a kid when you knew him. You were a kid when you made that promise—whatever promise it is that he’s talking about—you can’t be held responsible for that. You were a kid, and you were more powerless than you could ever have known. There was nothing a kid—ANY kid—could do in that situation to make it better. Nothing you could’ve done to help your friend. None of this is your fault Katsuki, understand? NONE of it.”
His chest felt so heavy. So, so heavy.
With every word she spoke, the weight just grew and grew and grew. Until, finally, he had to let it go.
He had to.
A sob snuck its way through his teeth, bursting up out of his lungs unpermitted. His breathing was ragged again, coming in short gasps. And he could feel the water leaking out of his eyes, running with nowhere to go.
Damn it.
Bakugou hated crying.
When he did, he had to hide. Usually, he would curl up into himself. Under the covers, or pulling his knees to his chin. He felt the urge to hide now, to run from this moment where he was so naked. Laid completely bare.
“Katsuki.”
It was one word, just his name.
But it had so much meaning to it.
So much love, and care, and consideration. A thousand things that could be held down, or held up, just by that one word alone. A thousand things that could be mended, or heated, or guarded with just that tone.
And he was.
Not completely mended, or completed heated, or completely guarded. Just a little bit of all three.
But that was enough. More than enough.
Maybe that was why Bakugou had fallen in love with Uraraka. The way she said his name, like it was some wonderful treasure to hold and not a curse like most people did, maybe that’s why he’d fallen in love with her. Wanted to marry her.
But no.
He was in love with her long before she ever said his first name. Long, long before.
All his desires were simply confirmed when she finally did come around to saying his name. With all that love and care and consideration.
Safe.
Yeah.
Ochaco was safe.
There was no need to run.
He fell into her, letting his face rest on her shoulder. Let the sobs tire themselves out, and his tears run themselves ragged. Ochaco held him, ran a hand up and down his back, soothing him. Gentle warmth spreading wherever they were connected.
Man.
He loved her.
He loved her so fucking much.
Once his breathing settled some, the warmth didn’t stop. The circles on his back didn’t stop. The feeling of being completely overwhelmed didn’t stop.
Finally, he had to say something.
Arms tightening around Ochaco’s waist, in a possessive and protective way, he said, still facing her shoulder, “How are you so fucking smart?”
She giggled a little, glad to hear his voice was back to normal. “I’m not smart, I’m just common sensical.”
“Well,” he said, finally facing her. His eyes blazing and his stomach rolled into a million excited knots. “I fucking love it.”
And, just to punctuate his statement—well, that wasn’t the only reason why, but still—he kissed her.
It was strange, to go from being so upset, and so cold, and so sorrowful, to being so warm and full of fire. Full of excitement, and tenderness. Going from sobs to wanting to squeeze someone so tightly that it makes you burst—not that that made much sense.
But, life is often strange and nonsensical. And Katsuki needed the warmth right now. The reminder that he could love and be loved, and his wife was more than happy to help.
He felt very loved.
When the night finally quieted down again, Katsuki was cuddling up to Ochaco as closely as their bodies would allow, holding onto her like she might disappear if he didn’t.
That’d be hell.
If she disappeared, who would be there to tell him he was being stupid? To inform him that his baggage didn’t need to be carried? To be a refuge when he felt so weak?
Granted, he knew it would still take a while for him to believe it in his heart—that none of what Deku had become could be chalked up to something Bakugou did or didn’t do—but still, his mind had to believe it first. He had to hear, and from someone else. If he’d told himself it wasn’t his fault, it would’ve felt like a lie. Like he was trying to weasel his way out of the blame, and the punishment that would follow.
But it was the truth.
It wasn’t his fault.
He was just a kid.
And he knew it, he really did. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he knew that he couldn’t really, truly be blamed.
He had just needed to hear it from someone else. Someone trustworthy.
And who could he trust more than his wife?

 

“We need to deal with Kacchan before we deal with One For All’s new wielder.”
No one, not even Kurogiri, knew what Deku was talking about.
He had been staring at the bar top for twenty minutes now, his eyes glazed and far away. Thinking into the future, maybe. Or maybe just thinking about that one sentence over and over again until, finally, he’d managed to say it out loud.
“Uh, sure thing boss,” Denki said, taking the brave proverbial step forward. Then, he added, “What did you have in mind?” Mostly for clarification’s sake.
Without registering anyone or anything else in the room, Deku reached into his pocket and fished out his phone. He didn’t look as he dialed a number, either. His eyes were still glassy, still focused on the bar top.
Honestly, it was starting to freak Denki out.
When the person on the other end of the phone answered, the spell STILL wasn’t broken.
Still bound by its claws, Deku spoke into the phone with his eyes foggy.
“Todoroki? When’s that gala you go to? Relatively soon, right? It’s a masquerade, isn’t it?” There was a brief pause as Todoroki answered.
Whatever he said clearly pleased their boss.
His lips curled into a devilish smile, and it broke the spell.
Thank gods. Denki was about to flip.
Eyes finally able to focus, Deku smirked and said, “Oh, no reason. Just thinking I might want to raise a little awareness myself.”
“Might as well go pick out our masks,” Twice said, his voice droll. Then, the other voice took over, ecstatic. “We’re going to a masquerade!”
And, he had to admit, he shared in Twice’s enthusiasm.
A hero gala? A masquerade?
What could be better?
All Denki needed was a date for the ball.

Chapter Text

It took him an eternity, but.
Bakugou had finally done it.
He was finally—FINALLY—able to go back out in the field. To do hero work again.
Finally.
At first, he wasn’t sure if he’d make it out onto the field before winter was over, but, there he was. In his winter costume, keeping out the cold. Kicking ass with his two best friends again, his right and left hands.
Man.
He’d missed it.
He’d even missed being stopped by random fans along the street. Well, not really stopped, but ogled. Cheered at. Swooned over. Usually, he found all that shit annoying, but, it was part of being a hero.
And he’d really missed being a hero.
“Ah! It’s Ground Zero and Uravity!”
“Woah, no way!”
“Think he’ll growl at me?”
“Piss off, we’re trying to work here!” Bakugou roared across the street.
The three teenagers all bunched up, starstruck.
In all honesty, he still didn’t get that. He was used to it, but he didn’t get it.
Why the hell did they like when he yelled at them?
So strange.
“Hey, Ground Zero?”
It wasn’t a serious tone, but, regardless, his wife had his attention immediately.
“Yes Uravity?”
“We need to talk about the gala.”
At his blank expression, Uravity smiled sideways at him. “You forgot it was coming up, didn’t you?”
“Uh… maybe?”
She giggled. “It’s okay, you’ve been really busy.”
She didn’t say it sarcastically. She said it like she meant it. Which, he couldn’t help but agree.
Getting your ass kicked and then recovering really took it out of you. Kept you busy. Sure, there was a lot of resting involved, but that was actually involuntary on Bakugou’s part. Only done out of necessity. Besides the resting, there were tons of doctor appointments, tons of physical therapy, and tons of trying to get back on your feet. It kept you pretty busy.
But he wasn’t the only one who’d been busy.
All the recovering meant that his team mates had to work overtime, which meant that he hadn’t seen his wife half as much as he’d like. And she was the one who kept track of stuff like that. Of charity outings, etc.
So, of course, he’d forgot.
“Sorry,” he muttered, though there was no real need.
“It’s alright. I already picked you out a nice suit.”
“Oh?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yep.” And then his stomach curled over, suspicion killing any relief he might have had.
His wife grinned wickedly.
“You’re going to love it.”
There was no way that was a good sign.
It was still a week away, right? Maybe, if he was charming enough about it, he could change his wife’s mind.
…or maybe not.

 

“Do you have your suit ready Mr. Compress?” Deku asked.
“Absolutely! I’ve been waiting to bring it out for an occasion such as this. I used to do quite a bit of high-end performing, you know,” he added. Deku couldn’t see his expression behind his mask, but he assumed the magician was grinning.
“Good,” Deku replied, smiling contently at his minion. “This is definitely going to be your time to shine.”
“I’d really rather prefer you hold off on this venture until after the gala.”
The voice was from the hero in the corner. Lately, he’d been growing reluctant. Mostly because of Deku’s newest plan.
He smiled kindly at Shoto. “You’ll have to be revealed some time, you know. The gala is as good of a time as any. Besides, I already told you, I’ll donate three times the amount the heroes usually do. No harm will be done to the children, just the gala itself.”
He still didn’t look convinced, but that didn’t matter. He would come around. Deku knew he would.
In the end, Deku’s plans were always worth it. And all of his henchmen were well aware.
And this plan? The one involving the gala?
It was Deku’s best yet, he was certain.
Oh, he was certain.

Chapter Text

Bakugou loved going to the gala, he really did.
But.
He had just gotten back to being in the field. Two weeks hadn’t even passed yet, and now he was taking a huge chunk of time to go to a formal-wear event rather than take to the streets and show those bitches who was back.
But, he really couldn’t complain too much.
Like he said, he really did love the gala.
It was just that he was antsy lately, that’s all.
Tired of being cooped up.
Like he would be tonight.
“Stop sighing Katsuki, it’s just one night. Besides, you love the gala, and it’s for a good cause,” his wife pointed out, as if she were able to read his mind.
As she tapped on his chest lightly, he leaned down more so she could properly tie his tie for him.
Oh man.
He hated formal wear.
At least he got to wear his hero mask.
“I’m glad you don’t wear your helmet to the gala. I like it and all, but I like seeing your face when I can,” he commented offhandedly. Watching his wife’s face brighten a little as she kept to her task.
He grinned.
“You look beautiful.”
The shade of pink that dusted her features darkened, leaning toward red. “Thank you,” she muttered.
He loved when she got flustered. It drove him absolutely mad.
The moment she was done with his tie, he grabbed her around the waist, drew her close, and then kissed her.
When he’d had his moment, his heart felt lighter. Recharged. Ready for the gala.
“Alright, let’s go raise hell—er, I mean, awareness.”
She rolled his eyes at him, certain the slip-up wasn’t an accident.
She wasn’t wrong.

 

The gala was, as usual, very lively. Heroes of all kinds, young and old, new and experienced, sidekick and interns alike, were there. Wearing varying degrees of hero-wear so the children invited could visit with them properly, and chatting with each other over flutes of champagne while the children were offered flutes of juice (so they didn’t feel left out).
Bakugou remembered the first time they were invited. Uraraka had been adamantly against going. Mostly because she wasn’t sure how she ought to act at such a function.
But, Bakugou had reassured her. There was nothing she could do that would be worse than whatever he did at the gala—he’d make damn sure of it, though he didn’t tell her that. Besides, he had confidence in his wife. She was polite, good at conversation, great with kids, and extremely well-mannered. Plus, a quick learner. Anything she didn’t know, he could teach her, or she’d pick up on.
He had no doubts that she’d do well.
Plus, attending fancy events sort of came with the hero package.
Once he’d reminded her of that, she’d agreed to go.
And she loved it.
That’s why it was one of the few events they went to on a yearly basis. Uraraka loved the atmosphere, loved the setting, and, above all else, loved the cause.
Awareness for abused children.
It was definitely high up in the list of good causes, that’s for sure.
When they arrived, the gala was already in full swing. Once they’d officially opened their agency together, The Shooting Stars had decided to make the gala a yearly event that the three of them attended together. Which mostly meant that they arrived together.
And shared a common theme.
This year it was roses, it seemed. Bakugou had some designed on his vest, Uraraka had one in her hair, and Kirishima had one hanging out of his vest as well.
Personally, Bakugou thought matching roses was pointless. But, it made his wife happy, so there was no way in hell he was going to complain.
When they’d stepped out of their limo (one hired just for the night, mind you, they weren’t gaudy enough to have one on hand or something) they were greeted by paparazzi and reporters. All asking questions as the trio waved and did their best to make it to the doors.
They were doing well until Uraraka noticed a kid on the stairs. Looking scared and out-of-place.
Kneeling down, she smiled at him. “Are you lost?”
He’d nodded, face still kind of blank.
“Who are you with?” she asked him.
“M—my grandpa. He’s inside, I think. I… I don’t know why I’m out here.”
“Well, c’mon then! We’ll get you to your grandpa,” Uravity said, smiling, offering her hand to the little boy.
Without hesitation, he took it.
And the paparazzi went wild.
Snarling, Bakugou stepped up to be a barrier between his wife, the kid, and the vultures. Smiling politely, Kirishima stepped up on her other side to do the same.
Once they were inside, the assault stopped.
They were safe.
The three of them let out a collective breath of relief. Just one.
Then it was all business.
“Okay, where do you think your grandpa is?” Uravity asked the young boy.
He shrugged.
Great.
“What’s his name?” she asked the boy.
Luckily, he knew that much.
As soon as he’d said it, she’d nodded and looked to Kirishima. Without a word, Kirishima nodded back and dashed off. Going to find the old geezer, probably.
“We’ll wait here. Red Riot will find your grandpa and bring him here, okay?” Uravity said/commanded/asked all in one.
The little boy nodded. No way in hell was he going to try to argue with such a calming presence.
Bakugou couldn’t blame him.
As they stood there—Uraraka gently talking to the boy while Bakugou stood nearby, looking like a body guard—he realized how cute it was. The little boy slowly began to stop sniffling, getting comfortable around the hero Uravity. Slowly losing his desperation and sadness and trading it up for hopefulness, and content. Eventually, Uravity even began joking with the boy, and earned a few laughs out of him.
She was so fucking talented. So fucking cute. So fucking great with kids.
He couldn’t even believe that he was lucky enough to have her as a wife.
When, at last, the boy’s grandpa did finally show up, he was actually reluctant to go with the old man.
“Don’t worry, we’ll meet again,” Uraraka assured him with a smile. “Especially if you’re staying for the party.”
He nodded, his face glowing. “We are!”
“Good! Then I’ll be seeing you in there,” she said with a wink.
Contented now, the old man thanked the heroes and returned to the party.
“Thanks for finding him Shima,” Uraraka said.
He shrugged. “No big deal. Besides, he seemed really worried. He didn’t tell me much about the kid, but I know he’s had it rough. He was real scared for the little guy,” Eijiro said, his face thoughtful.
The three heroes stood a moment, and then, Red Riot broke the silence again.
“Well, Mina is here, and she looks stunning, so I need to go dance with her before someone else does. I’ll see you guys in there,” he said, waving as he exited the entryway in favor of the party.
Which left two.
“Are they even officially dating yet?” Bakugou asked, his tone colored with irritation.
Looping her hand around one of his crossed arms, she said, “Maybe? I mean, I think so.”
Bakugou scoffed. “Idiot.”
She rolled her eyes, but, before she could cut in, Bakugou changed their direction.
“You’re great with kids, by the way. Super adorable, super good at understanding them, you’re fantastic,” he complimented.
She didn’t look fazed by the comment. In fact, she shrugged. “Yeah, well, I like kids. And they’re pretty easy to understand. A lot more straightforward than adults usually are.”
“So, you still want a few of them then, I’m guessing?”
Uraraka blushed.
For some reason, the topic of kids has been really weird for her lately, and Bakugou wasn’t sure why. They didn’t talk about it too often, not in the sense of them having them, anyway. They’d already agreed to have a few, maybe later on down the road. Usually, she was excited by the idea, and talking about kids in general—not just the idea of their own, but other kids as well—made her light up. But, whenever he brought up kids—in general, not even just having their own—these past few months, she’d gotten… weird about it.
And he had no idea as to why.
After blushing, she answered him. “I do. I’d love to have a few kids with you Katsuki.”
She said it so passionately, so firmly. As if she’d fight anyone who dared to disagree.
He liked that.
Liked it a lot.
In fact, he liked it so much that part of him wanted to ditch the gala. Take Uraraka back home, and show her how much he liked it.
But, as mentioned, they’d have to leave the gala. Which Uraraka would not be pleased with.
Almost as soon as he thought the words, Uraraka said, “Alright, it’s time to go in.”
And launched them into the party.

 

“Excuse me, would you care for some champagne, Mr. Shoto?”
The two looked at each other a moment. Compress looked absolutely polite, playing the part of server without flaws, while Shoto looked…
Well…
Displeased.
“No thank you, I don’t drink,” he replied, his tone matching the politeness of Compress’s, but his eyes telling a different story.
Clearly, he was not pleased with the interaction.
It made Compress grin. “If I can’t interest you in champagne, then how about some water? Or some tea? We’ve got a lovely selection of tea, as well as soda beverages.”
“No thank you, I’m fine,” the hero insisted.
He looked ready to snap.
Smiling politely, Compress nodded. “Well, should you change your mind, please let me or any of the other servers know.”
And with that, Compress left Shoto and his circle of friends to pester someone else.
“That guy was kind of pushy,” Dabi noted aloud.
Shoto shrugged, his face backed to looking bored. “I suppose he’s just trying to do his job.”
For some reason, Dabi wasn’t so sure. He felt like it was more than that.
After Compress walked away, he took out the marbles. The ones he’d been stealing from Shoto progressively throughout the night. He had fifteen of them, but he still needed one more to complete his collection.
Then the fun could begin.

Chapter Text

Bakugou was ready to vomit.
And not because of all the booze. In fact, he hardly drank anything at all. Just one champagne flute. Just the one. And he was really good at holding his liquor.
No, it wasn’t anything he’d drank.
It was all the people.
All the noise.
There was too much chaos. Hands brushing and bodies squishing together. Cramming like sardines in a can sitting in the sun.
It wasn’t the heat that he minded though.
It was the crowd.
How could he handle himself like this? In a place where he was completely unable to use his quirk? In a place crawling with people he could accidentally hurt?
He could feel the paranoia rise, and, with it, the anxiety. The claustrophobia.
The panic.
Where the hell was his wife?
He needed to hold her hand a moment. Steady himself.
Just the one moment.
Just a brief recharge.
Then he could go rushing back into the fray of the gala. Into the mix-and-mingle atmosphere that he sometimes detested.
He just needed a moment to anchor himself, that’s all.
In a flash, as if he had some internal radar, he found her with his eyes. She was standing across the room—on the exact opposite end of the room, go fucking figure—talking to Todoroki. The two looked pleased. Like the conversation was going well.
And it probably was.
Todoroki and Uraraka were friends. They’d connected back at U.A. and generally stayed in touch. They didn’t get the chance to meet and catch up often, but, when they did, they’d spend decades talking to each other.
Good.
Bakugou liked that Uraraka found happiness in this setting. In being at the gala. Even if that happiness was talking to Shoto Todoroki, he was okay with it.
At least one of them was having a good time.
Hopefully, he wasn’t about to rush over there and interrupt a serious conversation. He wouldn’t be sorry—he’d done it before, and he’d do it again without a second thought—it would just earn him a lecture.
But it wasn’t like it was his fault that the half-and-half bastard didn’t have facial expressions. How was he supposed to know if the conversation was serious or not?
Those thoughts in his head, he began to excuse himself, threading his way through the crowd of people.
Which is, of course—of FUCKING COURSE—when all hell broke loose.
Because nothing was allowed to go right in Bakugou’s life. Nothing. Not anymore.
He’d already got the job, the best friend, the drop-dead gorgeous, kick-ass wife. Why should he be allowed to keep it?
Right?
The room seemed to expand a moment as bodies burst into existence. Towering over the partygoers, their exposed skulls brushing the ceiling.
Had the ceilings always been that tall in here?
Wait—
EXPOSED SKULLS?
Yeah.
Bakugou double-checked, but, yeah.
Black creatures—or possibly navy blue, who could ever tell?—loomed. All of them had vacant eyes, slack jaws, and skulls that were busted open at the top. Skulls that exposed one of their most vital organs.
Their brains.
Bakugou wasn’t sure what to do about them—what to do about this whole situation. He was only halfway across the room, and he was completely surrounded by people. Sure, the creatures hadn’t moved yet, hadn’t proved whether or not they were aggressive, but Bakugou had no doubt they were.
It wasn’t like they could be the entertainment, or anything.
At least, not for the heroes.
Clearly, this was a villain set-up.
And there was definitely someone in the room there who found it amusing.
A gleeful laugh rose up. Cackling like a hyena.
It was a server. Only, Bakugou didn’t know which one.
He was wearing a mask now. A mask that was black and white.
“Alright, start the show Nomu! Show them what you can do! Everyone: ATTACK!” the man in the mask shouted.
There was only a breath. A tiny heartbeat in which they could react.
And Bakugou took it.
“GRAB THE KIDS!” he shouted.
He wasn’t sure what was coming, but he knew:
It was going to be hell.
Instinctively, Bakugou reached out. Found a kid.
And ran away.
Pushing through bodies and forcing himself to fucking MOVE damnit, he somehow got away. Ran away with the kid in his arms.
Right out of the building.
Just in time, too.
Behind him, the familiar sound of structure crumbling could be heard.
One of those things smashed through the doors, the ceiling. Breaking the arch of the entrance and creating a confetti-strike of brick and building.
It was a shit-fest is what it was.
“Run, hide,” Bakugou instructed the kid, setting him down.
As he did, his brain briefly registered that it was the same kid as before. The lost kid.
What a weird coincidence.
Mutely, the kid ran away. Fleeing as told.
Good.
There wasn’t a whole lot he could’ve done here anyway. Besides get himself killed.
Turning back around, Ground Zero charged the beast. Glad to be out in the open with it.
Maybe he could get somewhere out here. Actually blast the thing into dust.
But, right as he was about to pinwheel explosively into the monster, a flash of white caught his eye.
And smashed right into the bastard.
The beast reared up a little, recoiled from the punch. But not by much.
More white flashes appeared, buzzing around the creature like a fly, as the beast took a thrashing. Hit after hit, the beast stood there with blank eyes, taking it all in. Luckily, after about twenty seconds or so, the beast started reacting. After that, the white flashes seemed to be doing damage.
And, as the white flash came down from the attack—just to rebound off the ground and take another shot—Bakugou saw who it was.
It was that guy.
The one from the last fight he’d had with Deku.
When he noticed Bakugou noticing, he shouted at him.
“GET INSIDE, THEY NEED HELP! I’LL HANDLE THIS ONE.”
Right.
There was still a situation unfolding here. Still a crisis that needed to get kicked in the ass.
Without further hesitation, Ground Zero rushed into the building. Elbowing people as gently as he could to get back inside.
It wasn’t just chaos inside.
It was hell.
Inside, fire was sprouting. Being doused as quickly as possible by some water-based hero while Todoroki kept blasting at the brain-things.
Aside from him on the front line, Bakugou recognized Red Riot’s form tearing through his formal wear. Taking hit after hit from a black brain-thing that had axe blades for hands.
It was a good match-up, as long as Shima didn’t tire out first.
Metal-head was there too, though, backing him up.
Hopefully they could handle that thing.
Another one was taking on Mina and some hero that was throwing spirals at one of the things, backing it up and away from the exit. In fact, that seemed to be most of the heroes’ goals: to get the things as far from people as possible.
Which was good.
Because, as things were—people rushing around, dodging the weird monsters and their strange attacks that were all over the place—Ground Zero couldn’t risk using his quirk. Risk setting off a blast and hitting a citizen.
Under these conditions, Ground Zero was nearly useless.
And it really pissed him off.
“EVERYONE! THIS WAY!” He shouted, determined to do SOMETHING damnit.
As best as he could, he helped people dodge attacks. Helped them duck and move and weave around the chaos. Did his best to guide them to the exit.
When there were less citizens, it got easier to see. Not by much, the smoke from Todoroki’s flames covered quite a bit of space, but it was easy to draw the lines. Easy to figure who was doing what and where.
And it became painfully obvious:
Bakugou’s wife was nowhere.
Maybe she was stationed outside or something. Helping people get to ambulances, or something. There was no way there were absolutely no injuries running out of this building. It just wasn’t possible.
Because these things…
They were monsters.
Beasts.
Their vacant eyes, and their strange jagged movements…
They weren’t normal.
Like a bunch of Frankenstein monsters running around.
Though there really wasn’t much time to think or process that.
The dancefloor was clear. The hall empty of all citizens.
Good.
Showtime.
He didn’t have his howitzer gauntlets, but that didn’t matter. Bakugou could still be Ground Zero without them. He WAS Ground Zero, with or without them.
And he’d prove it to these bastards.
With a sound like canon blasts, Bakgou spiraled forward. Twisting and turning like a cartwheel of flames turned airborne.
And he slammed one of his palms into one of the thing’s brains.
Right as he let off a bombshell of a blast.
Light exploded into his vision, blurring out what exactly transpired. All Bakugou knew was that, after the light settled, the thing was on the ground, twitching. Staring even more vacantly, somehow, at the ceiling.
And Bakugou’s hand was… slimy. Grotesquely wet.
“Squishy. Gross bastards,” he commented, rubbing the slime off on his suit.
If Uraraka found out he’d done that on purpose, she was going to kill him.
But now wasn’t the time for that.
There were still more than a dozen of these things left.
And Kirishima looked like he was wearing down.
With another flash of light and percussive boom, Ground Zero was across the room in a second.
Right as the thing swung an ax-hand at Metal-head, too.
Which wasn’t good for the steely bastard, probably. But it was good for Bakugou. It meant the creature’s head was wide-open. The perfect target, at the perfect place, at the perfect time.
This time, Bakugou was expecting the squishy feeling. He didn’t recoil from it so much this time. And his blast wasn’t as strong. He figured it wasn’t necessary.
He was right.
The thing went down like a felled tree.
“AIM FOR THE BRAINS!” he roared into the fray, hoping the other heroes would hear him. Praying the chaos was dimmed just enough to get the message across.
Apparently, it was.
Because it did.
In the next few moments, there was still chaos. Still a bunch of attacks happening, but less frequently. People were attacking the brains now. Working together to dodge, and distract, and destroy. The sounds of fighting weren’t as overbearing now. Stopped filling the room so much.
Until they stopped entirely.
Bakugou took down four of those things. The last one being the last of the creatures to deal with.
Bakugou’s hand landed in the last brain. Let off one last blast that felled the beast.
And, when it collapsed, that was it. That was everything.
They’d won.
Silence took the room. Looming like a bad omen. Like the breath before a eulogy.
Yeah, they’d won, but…
It didn’t sit right with any of them.
“Is everyone alright?” Bakugou shouted into the room, his gruff voice dominating the expanse, bullying out the quiet. “Does anyone need immediate medical attention?”
Another moment of silence took over, this one full of thought though. Full of movement.
“Probably on the outside,” a hero called.
“Everyone in here seems to be okay,” another added.
Bakugou nodded affirmatively at that. “I suggest half of us move outside then. The other half should stay here in case these things decide to rise from the dead. We’ve got no idea what they are, or what they’re capable of. Besides creating a shit-fest, that is.”
There were probably a few heroes present who disagreed with his choice of words, but not a single one of them agreed with the sentiment.
Yeah.
That had been complete pandemonium.
And it wasn’t over yet.
Usually, Ground Zero would be one to volunteer to guard the creatures. Especially since his quirk seemed especially effective against their stupidly exposed brains. But, at the moment, his concern wasn’t in the room. It was somewhere outside of it.
Where was Uravity?
It didn’t feel pressing yet. Panic still withholding its cold grip.
But not for long.
An hour later, and Bakugou still hadn’t found her. Still had no idea where she’d gone off to. Where she could be.
Did she get injured? Had she been carted off to a hospital already? But, if that were the case, they’d call him, right? They were married, after all. If she was conscious, she’d have told them—insisted—that Bakugou needed to be informed. And, if she was unconscious, they’d have called him to give him the low-down. Let him know was the situation was.
Cold bile rising into his throat, he checked his phone, just in case he’d missed something.
And he found a text.
His heart stammered. Nearly stopped.
It wasn’t a normal text from a friend. No. And it wasn’t good news either.
It was strange, this text.
From an unknown number. One that his phone claimed wasn’t a number at all. Didn’t exist, really.
But it didn’t matter.
He knew who it was from.
He knew.
That bastard.
That BASTARD.
He still couldn’t believe it. Didn’t want to believe it. But, he knew it wasn’t fake. Somehow, he knew it was real.
That shitty nerd.
He really had her.

 

“Well, now that we have her, what do we do?” Denki asked, sounding uncertain.
Deku knew how he felt about this. Out of all the things they’d done, that Deku had asked him to do, this was the worst for him. The one that was the hardest to cope with.
Kidnap his old friend.
Because, yes, Denki Kaminari had been Bakugou’s friend first, and he certainly hung out with him more than he had hung out with Uraraka, but the fact remained.
They were still friends.
In a way.
And, clearly, Denki felt more sympathy for Uraraka than he had for Bakugou or Kirishima. It was easier for him to blame either of them—the two supposed friends who had abandoned him. But, Uraraka was different. She was close enough to him that he felt for her, and yet, still far enough away that Denki couldn’t bring himself to blame her for his arm. For how they’d disposed of him. He just… couldn’t justify it.
Which was why it was hard for him to look at her, covered in soot and dirt, tied to the chair. Chained to it, really.
Poor fellow.
But, Deku could reassure him easily. After all, he had no plans on hurting Uravity.
“We wait for her to wake up,” Deku replied. “If she’s cooperative, then we won’t have to do much with her.”
In all honesty, he’d prefer that.
He hadn’t told anyone about his first encounter with Ochaco Uraraka yet. And, truthfully, he didn’t plan to tell them. It was a feather in his hat, and his alone. He didn’t need to share with them.
But.
He didn’t want to hurt her. Not if he didn’t have to.
Especially not with how she was in that moment.
He’d prefer not to take any lives, especially innocent ones.
Especially innocent ones.
“It won’t take Kacchan long to respond, I’d wager,” Deku continued. “So, even if she wants to be uncooperative, she won’t be uncomfortable for long.”
To the others, it sounded very much like he was trying to convince himself more than anything else.
Not that they’d say that out loud.
“Todoroki, I think it’d be best if you explained her situation to her when she wakes. She’ll feel it’s honest coming from you,” Deku said, as if the subject were a curious one, more than anything.
For the first time since he’d joined the villains, Todoroki’s gut twisted.
Not because he was disgusted. Or afraid.
It was shame.
Very definitely shame.
He’d done this to his friends…
He’d done this to her…
And now he’d have to explain it?
Great.
He wanted so badly to protest, but he didn’t. Because what Deku said was right. Correct.
Of all of them, he was the most trusted. His words the most consistently honest. And Uraraka knows that.
…or, maybe she knew it.
There was a lot of fallout from tonight.
A lot.
And Todoroki knew:
It would only get worse.
He’d never voice his doubts. Never. But he couldn’t help but have them.
He hoped this was all worth it.

Chapter Text

The Shooting Stars were a wreck.
A complete mess.
“It was like watching a rabid lion and a rhino with thumbs go ham,” someone had said.
And they weren’t wrong.
When Bakugou found out his wife had been taken, it wasn’t just bad, it was horrible.
He lost it.
Rushing back into the building, he began blasting. Shaking the creatures, blasting some more, demanding information. When none was forthcoming, he went completely ballistic.
Firing shots everywhere, causing the remaining heroes to run. Confused, and doing their best to attend to their charges—fulfill their duty—while avoiding Ground Zero’s rage, they weren’t sure what to do.
He was crumbling pillar after pillar. At the rate he was going, he’d bring the whole building down in minutes.
Until Red Riot did something.
Everyone had felt relieved at that. When Red Riot stepped in and took a few blasts, it seemed to calm Ground Zero down.
Only for a moment.
Only long enough for Bakugou to get the message across to Kirishima. Only long enough for him to make Riot understand.
Uraraka had been taken.
And then there wasn’t just one angry, out-of-his-mind, raging hero.
There were two.
Rampaging like monsters. Like beasts.
Like villains would.
In fact, it was so bad, they had to shoot both of them with tranquilizer darts in order to get them to stop raging.
But that was twelve hours ago.
They’d woken up since then.
Thanks to Mina, Kirishima had calmed down quite a bit. When he woke up, she’d been there to comfort him. Talk sense into him. Anytime he got antsy, or too fired up, she’d soothe him. Reassure him. Talk him down. He’d go quiet, thoughtful, rather than fly into another rage.
But the one person who could do that for Bakugou?
She wasn’t here.
And every time Mina was there for Kirishima, he felt it again. Waves of understanding washing over him.
This could be it.
This could be the future.
Watching others—friends and strangers alike—find comfort in someone else. Be able to turn and find their partner.
While Bakugou woke up to no one.
While Bakugou ate up the loss. Tore into himself in order to find an answer. While Bakugou would lie in his cold, empty bed. All by himself.
Always by himself.
Always without Ochaco.
That could be the future.
…it was horrifying.
Terrifying.
Dark.
It was a future he couldn’t stand to look at. One that he refused to let be reality. Refused to accept. The very idea of it was more than repulsive.
It was abhorrent.
Harrowing.
It swallowed up a big portion of his gut, turned it inside out. Like he’d accidentally sucked needles into his cardiovascular system. Like all the nerves in his spine were being crushed and weighted down, causing all his limbs to tingle and burn.
Damnit.
He would watch Kirishima and Mina interact—watch the way she lovingly talked to him. Her eyes glazing over with worry, with fear.
And he hated it.
Not because he hated that others could be happy, could have partners. But because he was missing his.
He fucking had that.
He did.
He had someone who cared. Someone who could coax him. Someone who understood him better than anyone else.
But.
She’d just been fucking taken, damnit.
And they weren’t letting him do a fucking thing about it.
“YOU FUCKING BASTARRRRRRRRDS,” he roared, wrestling against his restraints.
The material bit into his arms, made his biceps feel like they were exploding.
They could hear him. He fucking knew they could fucking hear him.
They were ignoring him.
Torturing him, those fucking assholes.
“I HAVE TO FIND MY WIFE DAMNIT,” he roared, slamming his body up against the restraints as hard as he could.
And still.
They didn’t budge.
Growling and snarling, the angry fueled him. Powered his desperation, his need.
He had to find Ochaco.
He had to.
Even if these restraints broke his bones, slashed at his arms and legs, it didn’t matter.
He had to get out of here.
Had to find her.
Eventually, Kirishima came back in, looking somber. Sad.
Were those tears in his eyes?
“Bakugou, you gotta calm down,” he pleaded. Pleaded like he meant it. Like it was worth something to him. Like his whole heart was hung up on the words. “If you don’t, they’re gunna knock you out again.”
Bakugou did something he hadn’t done in a long, long time.
He snarled.
As if he really was a rabid lion.
He fucking snarled.
Growled.
At Kirishima.
Threw out a slew of curses, one strung right after the other, his rage at its limit.
“I’D CALM THE FUCK DOWN IF THEY LET ME GO FIND MY FUCKING WIFE DAMNIT,” he snarled at Kirishima, and then thrashed again.
As Kirishima’s worried look deepened, so did Bakugou’s anger. His rage.
Kirishima was free, wasn’t he?
Then why the hell wasn’t he out searching for Uraraka?
It didn’t make any fucking sense.
Or, better yet—why didn’t Kirishima release Bakugou? Why the hell was he just standing there? They could both be out searching for her, if he’d just man the fuck up and get Bakugou out of there.
As soon as the realization hit, the fury went through the roof.
Bakugou had never been so angry in his whole life.
It was pulsing, pulling at his system. He felt something in his eyes twitch, bursting. It poured red into his vision, tainting his one eye.
And he didn’t fucking care.
Because he was too fucking mad to care.
This guy, standing here, begging him to calm down, was his best friend. Had been the guy standing next to Bakugou when Bakugou had shackled himself to Uraraka for the rest of his life. Had been there when Bakugou said “I do” in the proudest, most wonderful, moment of Bakugou’s life. Hell, Kirishima was the one Bakugou first confided in when he’d finally figured out that he liked Ochaco Uraraka. When he’d figured out what all the angst, and uncertainty, and heat meant—why he felt those things only around her. Since the beginning, Kirishima had been there, and he knew damn well how Bakugou felt about Ochaco Uraraka. How important she was to him.
So why the hell was he just standing there?
Why wasn’t he doing anything?
Why wasn’t he helping Bakugou?
Teeth grinding down so hard and fast that it drew blood, Bakugou snarled. Spoke through his pearly whites, even as they were being dyed red with his own blood.
And he said:
“What the FUCK are you even here for? You fucking KNOW how fucking important she is to me. You might have shit for brains, but you’re not that dumb. You know what this means to me. And yet, you’re here, trying to tell me to calm down. Trying to talk me out of finding her. Giving me some bullshit that everything will be alright, or that it’ll all turn out, or whatever the FUCK you were going to say in order to get me to calm down. But you know what? That’s shit. Bull-fucking-shit. Because a real friend wouldn’t be sitting here, giving me empty words. LYING to me like some pretentious asshole. A real friend would be doing something to ACTUALLY help me. A real friend would be furious. A real friend would be out there, searching for her since I can’t. What kind of friend abandons his best friend like this? What kind of man would ignore a friend in need? What kind of man wouldn’t help his best friend out? A fucking COWARD, that’s who—”
Movement—swift, sure movement—caused him to halt his rant.
Apparently, Kirishima had enough.
Standing tall, Kirishima moved fast. So fast, Bakugou barely had time to register it. Not that he’d be able to do something about it if he had. Currently, he was—literally—tied down.
All he could do was register the fact that Kirishima brought his hand up.
And slammed it down.
Right on Bakugou’s diaphragm.
In that moment, wind became a foreign concept. Air was a brutally murdered species. Something wiped completely from Bakugou’s mind as it lost all meaning. As all of his lungs’ contents were expelled in one painful, short burst.
And he gasped.
Like a stupid fucking fish.
While being strapped down to a stupid fucking gurney in a stupid fucking hospital.
He gasped.
When he looked at Kirishima, he found that he was surprised.
For once in his life, Bakugou was a little terrified of Kirishima.
Ice-in-your-veins terrified of Kirishima.
Terrified of that look in his best friend’s face. The way his eyes were dark. The way they were set. He looked like an executioner, about to hang a loved one.
Bakugou felt his stomach drop through the floor, his heart hung by a loose noose as he waited for Kirishima to carry out the sentence.
The red-haired hero opened his mouth.
And, once again, surprised the hell out of Bakugou.
“I’m going to let that one go Bakugou, because you’ve just had your wife kidnapped, and I know how important she is. Believe me, I know. Because you’re right—I’ve been here the whole time. I KNOW how Uraraka affects you. I know what kind of good she does. I know how much emotion you’ve vested in her, how much of your heart she carries. I know, and I get it. Personally, I can’t blame you for freaking out. Really, I can’t. Because if the roles were reversed, and Mina was the one taken, I’d be the same way. I’d be furious. Livid. Out of my mind. Hell, I went a little nuts myself when I realized what really happened at the gala. When I realized Uraraka had been taken. But…” he paused, that weight in his eyes shifting as he looked away. “That doesn’t mean you get to say and do whatever the hell you want. I get it, but that doesn’t make it right. And they get it, but they can’t let you go if you’re frothing at the mouth, alright? You can’t help her. Not when you’re like this.”
Bakugou’s teeth clicked shut in an audible way. Grinding as he stewed in his frustration. Wallowed in it.
But, in the end, there was nothing to do.
Nothing to say.
All he could do was:
A) Keep struggling.
or
B) Accept it.
Accept this truth. This horrible, gut-wrenching, soul-vomiting form of defeat. Accept
that he needed to calm down, think this through.
Accept that how he was acting was wrong.
He hated it.
But.
He knew which path was best. Which path was the only real way to get things done.
The fight went out of him. Sucked away by the volume of Kirishima’s words. The ways in which they tugged at his mind and emptied his bleeding heart.
Yeah, this sucked.
And, yeah, it was terrifying.
But still.
Kirishima was right—he shouldn’t be acting this crazy. It would get him nowhere.
Taking a few deep breaths, Bakugou focused on that. On how this wasn’t helping. On how he could be helping, if he stopped being so irrational. On how Kirishima was right.
And he calmed down.
Like a wind-up toy losing momentum, slowly and steadily, but still. He calmed down.
Once his breathing returned to normal and rational thought began to pulse back through his mind, he took a deep breath.
And let it out.
“Sorry Shima. You… you don’t deserve that. Didn’t deserve a word of what I said, and I didn’t really mean it. Sorry,” he grumbled, embarrassed—not because he had to apologize, but because he’d said such stupid things in the first place. “And… you’re right.”
Kirishima didn’t look surprised like most people would have. Apologies from Bakugou were rarities, an endangered species. Something you saw maybe once in a lifetime, if you were lucky.
That’s how most people saw it, anyway.
Not Kirishima though, and not Uraraka. They knew.
If the conditions were right, and Bakugou was wrong, he’d apologize. Especially to the people who meant something to him.
Like Kirishima did.
Like Uraraka did.
Man.
This sucked.
“Well, I accept your apology,” Kirishima replied, not sounding mad. Then he smiled. A tiny, small smile. “I’m glad you’ve calmed down finally. That took way longer than expected.”
As he spoke, he opened the door and threw his gaze outside it. Speaking quietly, he said, “Yeah, you can send him in now.”
“Send who in?” Bakugou asked, immediately skeptical.
Bashfully, Kirishima rubbed his neck. “Well, I figured he would be the only one who could really help, you know? Since he and Deku seem to have a history, and it was clearly Deku’s crew who took Uraraka. I didn’t want this to get messed up. It’s too important,” he said earnestly. Truthfully. As if his whole heart were being served next to those words.
And Bakugou couldn’t blame him. Hell, he couldn’t even really disagree.
Because he knew who Kirishima had called on.
When that white-haired bastard entered the room, Bakugou was willing. He was ready.
“White lightning: help me get my wife back.”
Split lip imposing on his smile, he nodded.
“Finally. Let’s get to it, then.”

Chapter Text

He was ready.
Standing in the dark building, listening intently for any signs of movement, for any sound. His hands were sweating up a storm—had been for days—and his nerves were all jittery. Like he’d drunk six coffees and twelve energy drinks all at once.
He was so ready for this to be over.
It had been a week since he’d last since his wife. Since she was taken by Deku. Since he talked to her.
He was so, so ready.
If all else failed—if he died here, and his plan got shot to hell—at least there was that.
He was going to see Ochaco again.
Even if he wasn’t exactly ready for this fight, he was ready for that.
“Punctual, just as expected.”
The voice grated on his nerves, but he didn’t say anything. Instead, Bakugou turned to find the speaker.
Standing in the shadow of a column stood Deku. Looking as prim and proper as ever, only, he was also wearing a smirk.
“You couldn’t have found a dustier building?” Bakugou’s voice dripped venom.
Deku chuckled. “The one on the south side of town is dustier, but it’s being taken up right now by a yakuza guy and his thugs. So this will have to do,” he replied, not even missing a beat.
Then he raised his hand.
Bakugou did his best not to react to it, but it was difficult.
Who knew what Deku could do with just one hand?
He watched Deku warily as the villain raised his hand.
And snapped his fingers.
A swirl of shadow appeared. A black hole, or a vortex. One that swirled, and swam.
And spat out Bakugou’s wife.
She stumbled out of the blackhole. Stumbled and fell to her knees, looking tired. Ragged. Worn out. Her hands were bound behind her back, and she was wearing normal clothes. Not the formal dress that she’d been kidnapped in.
Had…
…had someone actually touched his fucking wife?
“Ochaco!” he shouted, but didn’t move. He knew better.
Not that it didn’t cost him.
His next words were said from between his teeth. From a jaw that refused to work quite right. A voice that tried, so desperately, to break.
“Ochaco, are you okay?”
He could see the surprise on her. The way it set her shoulders, and the way it made her head snap up. Her eyes went wide when she saw him.
“Katsuki,” she breathed, like it was fresh air.
She smiled at him then. Tiredly. Worn out.
It shattered his heart.
“What did they do to you?” Bakugou demanded, his tone taking a nosedive toward angry and desperate.
“Nothing. Not really. They didn’t hurt me at all,” she said, sounding just as surprised as he felt.
Deku chuckled, smiling at Ochaco in what appeared to be some kind of genuine affection. “Of course not.”
Of course not…
As if that wasn’t what Deku had promised him. As if Deku wasn’t a villain. Wasn’t a murderer. An chaotic, psychopath who had kidnapped his wife.
Yeah.
“Of course” he wouldn’t hurt Ochaco.
Fucking asshole.
“The hell is that supposed to mean?” Bakugou demanded, rage in full swing now.
Deku smirked at the pro hero. An annoying, knowing glint in his eyes as he explained.
“Your wife is very kind. Very tenderhearted. She’s only become kinder over the years. Even before she was at U.A., she was aware of others. Kind toward them. Hurting your wife was never part of my plan. I only kidnapped her because she’s yours.”
Bakugou couldn’t believe this.
Couldn’t believe his ears.
Did that mean…
Ochaco was never in any danger?
No.
No way.
He refused to believe that. Refused to believe Deku. He was a criminal, a thief. A life breaker. A villain.
He couldn’t believe anything Deku said.
“Besides,” Deku continued, “I didn’t want to hurt an innocent. Even if you or Ochaco deserved it, that doesn’t mean the kid does.”
A void opened up in Bakugou’s mind.
Absorbing all noise, all sound. Hollowing out his mind. Dropping the world from beneath him in a magnificent spectacle of silence and power.
Bakugou blanched.
When Deku stopped talking, the whole world felt the quiet. It was the kind of moment where nobody was sure what exactly was happening, they just knew:
Something was happening.
About to happen.
And Bakugou wasn’t sure if it was good or not.
When the silence and the waiting and the void became too much, Bakugou had to say something. Had to jump in.
“What kid? What the fuck’re you talking about?”
Again, the world went quiet. Steady.
Listening.
And, in the meantime, Bakugou looked to his wife and Deku for answers. Though neither gave any.
Ochaco’s mouth was hanging slightly open in an “o” shape. As if she’d been caught in the middle of doing something wrong. As if she’d just been punched in the gut. On the other hand, Deku’s eyes were wide, the rest of his face somehow managing to stay blank. Drained by the strain in his eyes.
Deku broke the silence this time.
He looked at Ochaco.
“He doesn’t know?”
“There was no time,” Ochaco said bitterly, glaring at the floor.
“Oh.”
Deku’s tone shocked Bakugou more than anything. He sounded genuinely sorry. As if that simple declaration were an apology.
“Well, you could tell him now, before it’s too late,” Deku suggested. “I’ll be killing him in a moment, so he might as well know.”
The last half didn’t sit well with either of the heroes. Bakugou didn’t want to tell Deku flat out that he disagreed with his statement.
But he disagreed.
There was no way in hell he was going to let himself get killed, especially not after hearing what he’d just heard.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out what Deku meant. What his wife meant. It was pretty clear, even without Uraraka saying it.
“I… I’m pregnant.”
Shit.
She shouldn’t have done this now. Not in this moment. Not here. Not now. Not with this villain standing behind her, and their future looking more and more shattered as Bakugou’s eyes focused ahead.
Because…
Even though he’d figured it out, hearing the words out loud gave them power. Gave them more meaning. Made them real.
Shook him.
His legs began to tremble, and he couldn’t help the thoughts that circulated through his mind.
He was going to be a dad.
A fucking dad.
Holy fuck.
That was exciting.
More sweat poured into his palms as the words made his heart sing. Made his stomach flop over. Made a million more worries and fears and doubts fester into the forefront of his mind.
But he didn’t have time for that.
Didn’t have time to think about it.
He’d never be a dad if he and his wife didn’t make it out of here alive.
He needed to focus.
Yeah.
There was still a villain…
Glaring, Bakugou snarled at his old friend, “Isn’t this enough for you Deku? Taking the happiest moment of my fucking life? Can’t you just leave it at that?”
Deku laughed once, his smirk back in place.
“I thought you’d be more excited than this Kacchan.”
“Yeah, well, I could be if it weren’t for some shitty villain kidnapping my wife. But, right now, I’m focused on making sure she survives.”
Which was true.
Bakugou was so ecstatic he wanted to explode. Wanted to rocket into the sky, blow up a whole building. Throw his fist in the air, scream out a nice loud “fuck yeah!” into the sky.
But he couldn’t do any of that.
He was a hero in the middle of a situation. A situation which required level-headedness, and focus like you wouldn’t believe. He was a hero who had to shove aside all personal feelings in order to accomplish his goal. In order to save people. He was a hero on duty. In the middle of a very, VERY important rescue mission.
There was no time to celebrate. None. And there wouldn’t be until hours later.
If he survived.
Because it was clear to him now what Deku wanted. Why he’d kidnapped Uraraka.
It was just like White Lightning said:
He was after Bakugou.
Only Bakugou.
“You might as well celebrate now,” Deku replied, as if reading his thoughts. “You won’t be able to when you’re dead.”
Bakugou snarled at him. “I get why you’re mad Deku, but, c’mon man. This is fucking ridiculous.”
Deku’s eyes narrowed in a laser-like glare. “Do you really understand Kacchan? DO you know why I’m so mad? So angry? So fed-up with these stupid heroes and this whole idiotic hero society? Do you really, truly understand? Or are you just spouting nonsense?”
Gaze as steady as a mountain’s, Bakugou nodded.
“I do. I know. It’s because of that promise, right?”
Deku scoffed. “Do you really remember it now, Kacchan? After all this time, you think I seriously believe that you remember?”
“But I do.”
A wave of angst crashed over Bakugou, threatening to fry his nerves and freeze his muscles.
He remembered the promise.
In the middle of the night, he’d woken up, and it had been there. As if someone had simply dropped it into his mind. He’d woken up shaking, sobbing. Memory eating him away as he lay there, helpless to do anything but relive it. Realize that this was his doing. That this was his own folly. His stupid arrogance coming back to bite him in the ass.
And there had been no Ochaco there to comfort him.
He remembered.
“We promised we’d be heroes together, but that was before you knew,” Bakugou recalled. The memory pulling words slowly out of him, like dragging a rug out from underneath an elephant. “When you found out, things changed. You knew you probably didn’t stand a chance. So, I gave you that promise.”
Deku had been crying that day. Sobbing. Upset. And Bakugou just wanted to comfort his friend. Wanted to give him some hope to hold onto.
So he’d promise him.
“I’ll be your hero.”
He wasn’t sure if he said it out loud—or if he simply recalled it, or if Deku was the one to say it in the present—but, either way, Bakugou heard the words. They bounced off the walls, rang inside his ears like cymbals.
I’ll be your hero.
“You lied to me Kacchan,” Deku said, lava seeping suddenly from beneath him. Oozing forward to eat the floor away, as if it were a living monstrosity. “You promise me Kacchan. Told me you’d be my hero. That you’d be there for me, if I needed someone. That I could use your quirk, if I needed one.” His words were true. Bakugou really had said all those things.
Deku barreled on, seething now. Crackling lightning and exuding smoke.
“But, when the time came, where were you Kacchan? Huh? Where were you? WHERE?”
And that was it.
Bakugou’s breaking point.
He snapped.
“Probably in bed because I was FUCKING SIX YEARS OLD DAMNIT,” Bakugou roared back, surprising both his wife and Deku.
He didn’t give them a moment of reprieve though. No time to process.
Teeth bared, Bakugou let loose his anger. Gave the villain a piece of what was on his mind.
“You fucking ASSHOLE. You expect me to be responsible for that shit? A fucking six year old? You say you wouldn’t hurt innocence, but isn’t this the same? Holding me responsible after all these years, when I couldn’t have done anything for you back then? I was just a kid. JUST A FUCKING KID. I didn’t fucking know. Wouldn’t have been able to help, even if I did. But I would’ve tried Deku,” his anger clambered down, as if falling from a great high. Sighing, Bakugou said it again. “I would’ve tried to help, if I knew. If I’d been there. I WOULD have Deku. Because I… I fucking cared. About you, and about your mom. I didn’t know your dad, but I would’ve tried to save him, too, just because he was yours. Even as a six year old… I would’ve tried.”
His words were sincere. Passionate. Firm.
He knew.
He would’ve tried.
It wouldn’t have been enough.
But he would’ve tried.
“I’m sorry Deku. I really am.”
The world seemed to climb back down. Unwinding with his statement. Settling into this new cacophony.
Not that it changed anything.
Deku had already done what he’d done. Was already a villain. Had done irreversible damage to himself, to Bakugou, to heroes as a whole. To society, even. The world went silent, and Bakugou had to live with the knowledge that it didn’t matter.
Even if Deku accepted his excuse. Saw reason.
It didn’t matter.
He was still a villain.
And, because that fact was sharp as a double-edged sword—and just as cutting as one, too—he knew.
He couldn’t wait to find out.
His palms were so full.
Without winding up, Bakugou set himself off.
He exploded.
Yellow light engulfed them, a resounding BOOM clattering after it. Chasing down the light, right on its heels. Landing the sound, right as Bakugou escaped.
Escaped with his wife.
And his kid.
‘OCHACO, YOUR QUIRK,” he roared, cradling her in his arms.
“Right,” she replied, activating it on herself.
Ah.
Much better.
As Bakugou rocketed away, he heard Deku shouting from behind him.
“DON’T LET HIM ESCAPE, I NEED HIS QUIRK!”
Damn.
Despite it all, Bakugou had been hoping…
After that confession, Bakugou was really hoping he’d see reason.
Guess not.
Not that it mattered.
Because, even as Bakugou recognized something like ice chasing him—rising right behind him as he blasted higher into the sky—there was a light.
A white light.
Exploding forward, cracking the ice, and the building, right in half. Making it all crumble as Bakugou escaped.
“What the hell was that?” Ochaco asked.
“White Lightning,” Bakugou said, because, really, he didn’t remember the guy’s real name. “He’ll take care of this,” he continued confidently.
He could feel the weight of his wife’s gaze. How it was probing, questioning, asking him if he was really okay with this.
“My priority is you,” he told her, not meeting her gaze. Choosing, instead, to focus on getting them to safety. “You’re always my priority Angel.”
Which was true.
His family…
That was always his goal. Hero or not, friend or not, wrong or not—his family was his priority. The ones he was sworn to protect.
Because, the world?
They had other heroes. Dozens of them. Tons of them.
His family just had two.
Just two.
And, as far as he was concerned, they were both extremely valuable to his family.
Extremely.
White light and red lightning exploded behind him, creating divots in this part of the city. Cracking the concrete and clawing into the sky. Two gods, doing battle. Raging behind him.
And, with half of his family cradled in his arms—the other half being safe already—Bakugou felt no qualms leaving the mess behind.
He had so much more to look forward to. A future that was shining brightly.
And it wasn’t a future he’d find behind him.
He had to move forward.