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nothing lingers passively

Chapter Text

Time to wake up and smell the hierarchy.

Literally fucking smell it.

It was sometime towards the middle of their second year the students of UA's Hero Course started to come into their biological roles. To exactly zero surprise from anyone, Bakugou Katsuki presented as an Alpha. Because of fucking course he did.

By contrast, everyone was floored to learn that Todoroki Shouto had presented as a Beta.

While the rest of the class seemed to mourn the news as some mistake or sick joke or twist of fate or bad juju (the fuck?), Bakugou noted that Todoroki himself seemed entirely unbothered. Could be that dead fish vibe he channels so well. But he suspected it had entirely to do with his old man.

“The Alpha- iest Alpha who ever Alpha’d. The poster child for Alphadom. Look up ‘Alpha’ in the dictionary and you'll see Endeavor’s pic---" Kaminari caught an eraser with his face from Ashido's direction. “Oh come on, this is the funniest thing that's ever happened to me!”

“I don't know, guys,” Midoriya began to mumble behind Bakugou, and the grip on his pen smoldered, “Betas are the backbone of society! They're calm, rational, level- headed---"

“Those all mean the same thing!”

As the class erupted into chaos, he didn't miss the way Todoroki pressed a soft smile into his hands. He was clearly living for this shit. Maybe the guy was just relieved to watch the list of differences between himself and his deadbeat dad grow. Comedic karma. Or something, who knows. He couldn't bring himself to care less.

Anyways, he was an Alpha and that's all that mattered and everything was good and right with the world.

Until he found out he was fucking allergic to suppressants.

Suppressants suffocated the intoxicating come hither aura Omegas gave off during their heats, and tampered Alpha's destructive need to fuck anything with a pulse during their ruts. While suppressants weren't mandatory to take at UA, they certainly helped to keep the students focused and everyone that could take them did so.

Dehydration and dry skin were common side effects of suppressants - they dry up the glands that secrete the potent hormones that Alphas and Omegas experience during their monthly ruts and heats. Normally these reactions can be lessened by drinking more water and bulking up on body lotion and chapstick.

But the hormonal glands aren't the only ones to wither like raisins, so as a future Pro Hero that has a quirk which activates with sweat, the choice boiled down to a hard nope, fuck that. No suppressants.

The peace of his classmates be damned.

And Bakugou’s ruts were potent.

Omegas shivered, cast their gaze and bowed their heads simply being in the vicinity, and even other Alpha's gave him a wide berth with which to stomp through.

Bakugou was sure Todoroki had considered himself Beta- blessed to only have half the senses of an Alpha or Omega and none of that sticky rut or heat bullshit to wade through every month. But there was a downside, and Bakugou had a front row seat to Todoroki's dawning horror that Betas reacted to Alphas much in the same way Omegas did. Ain't evolution a bitch.

He remembers the first time he rounded on Todoroki in the midst of a particularly volatile rut. They'd just had to be separated after five consecutive draws during No Quirks training. Filled to the brim with adrenaline and frustration, Bakugou had gotten right in Todoroki's space, snarling something animalistic as his palms warmed and sparked where they fisted in the other's sweaty gym uniform. It came on in a matter of seconds - a shiver ran straight from Todoroki's head to toes like a lightning strike, and it cut off whatever he was about to say midsentence. He had jerked his face towards the floor and then froze, eyes wide. Todoroki had been so caught off guard by his own reaction the fuck literally caught on fire.

But more importantly than Todoroki's post- pubescent high school crisis, Bakugou's ruts were driving his grade- point average into the ground.

Normally a pretty sweaty individual (a byproduct of his quirk), he was absolutely drenched during his ruts. Beads of sweat pricked at his hairline and dripped down, collecting with a salty sting in his pale eyelashes. It got on his desk, smeared his note taking. His hair, normally a riot of blonde spikes, stuck to his nape and temples. Keeping his quirk in check during his ruts was a real lesson in restraint. Especially surrounded by these unapologetic goons. He was one more “but Kacchan---" away from accidentally blowing the whole school to hell.

At any given point all five senses were on red alert. Alarms, sirens, whistles, car horns, smoke signals, S.O.S's - the fucking works and then some. His pulse slammed through his veins, deafening in his ears with blood rush. Spit collected in his mouth with every Omega or Beta that passed within a two- foot radius like they meant shit to him, swallowing it back thick with a heavy tongue. Every noise reverberating through his skull with an echo. Every gust of wind or touch felt like ants crawling under his skin. He was convinced he could see noise and smell colors, for fuck’s sake.

Everything and everyone, everywhere was utterly overwhelming. Full stop.

He couldn't think in a straight line for the life of him.

So when his academic rank dropped a number for the first time in literally ever, Bakugou found himself at Todoroki’s dorm room. He pounded his fist against the wood paneling of the door, already frowning.

“I know you're not sleeping, jackass, I can see your lights on!”

A stretch of silence, then a quiet huff, followed by the clattering of a pen on a desk and soft footfalls on tatami.

The jerk opened (finally, the dickbag) the door just enough to peek his dumb face out. He had the nerve to look bored, eyes flat and mouth pulled down softly at the corners.

Bakugou’s scowl deepened.

“You gunna let me in or what?” He asked.

“Or what,” The fuckhead mimicked Bakugou’s posture, folding his arms across his chest and wedging himself in the space between the door and its frame, resting his weight on a hip. Todoroki's princely aura belied his rude ass mouth tenfold.

Bakugou openly seethed. He didn't climb a flight of stairs at 9:47pm on a Tuesday to put up with this crap. He had the circadian rhythm of a grandpa and he'd be damned if he wasted precious time on this punk when he could be having a staring contest with the back of his eyelids instead. “I got a problem, pisslord. Let me in.”

“Your personality is a problem for a therapist, not me.”

“The fuck you think you're talking to?!”

Bakugou sliced forward, cracking his palm against the wall beside the Beta’s ear with an absolutely feral growl. Todoroki visibly struggled as he tucked his chin towards his chest and averted his eyes.

“What do you want, Bakugou?” Todoroki said between clenched teeth, balling his hands into fists at his sides, gaze still fixed to the floor.

Bakugou pressed his lips into a line and straightened, trying to reign in the heady aggression he knew was rolling off him in waves.

“I need to form a pack bond before this rut bullshittery screws my class rank any further than it already has.” He said in one breath. Took another, held it.

Todoroki blinked at the floor. Once, then twice. It wasn't until the scent bombarding him from Bakugou started to wane that he was he able to lift his head and regard him with a tight look.

“And you're at my door because…?”

HAH?! Because it's gotta be a Beta, you stupid turd!” This guy skip 4th grade health class or what?

“Iida has a list of all the Betas in the school - actually, Iida himself is a Beta. Why not ask him? I'm sure he'd be thrilled to help out a ‘fellow student in need’” Air quotes, fucking air quotes. If he didn't need this bastard he'd murder him right here and now and bury him under the floorboards.

Todoroki took a step back preparing to close his door in Bakugou's face - but Bakugou was quicker, gripping the door so hard smoke wisped from his fingertips.

“Look, just--- fuck, hear me out. Why you gotta make everything so fucking complicated?!” Todoroki's eyes flit across Bakugou's face, looking for fuck knows what. This bastard was impossible to read.

After a few moments (Bakugou didn't do awkward silences, thanks) Todoroki let his shoulders drop with a resigned sigh, turning to retreat back into his room and take a seat in front of his floor desk. He folded his legs beneath him on the short chair, staring down at the mess in front of him with contempt - clearly he'd been studying, desk cluttered with note paper and pens and textbooks. Bakugou looked around as he entered, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his sweatpants. He'd never been in Todoroki's room, but had heard accounts from the decorating contest they had as first years. The traditional Japanese everything was so very Todoroki it was stupid. He had the sliding door to his little balcony cracked open, a cold breeze ringing faintly through a wind chime into the room. Brisk, temperature better for studying in. But the minimal lighting was warm, bathing the room in soft yellows and golds, his sparse furniture casting long and dark shadows across the floor.

“... … a pack bond,” Tododoki repeated and glanced blandly over his homework as Bakugou shut the door behind him, coming to stand on the side of the desk. “What century are you living in? No one forms packs anymore, the idea is archaic.” He frowned up at Bakugou, absently tapping his pen against his bottom lip.

Bakugou clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, leaning his shoulder against the tall dresser and glaring down at Todoroki. “Don’t you think I already know that, half ‘n half? You know damn well I can't take suppressants---"

Won't take suppressants. They won't kill you. Maybe you should reconsider your career aspirations for the good of society. Or at least my sanity. Do you know what you smell like? I don't think you know what you smell like---"

"Can't take suppressants, you shit. You always so damn mouthy this late? Also, fuck you. If anyone's got a right to complain about smell it's me." Bakugou jabbed a thumb towards himself. He paused, running his tongue over his front teeth. His canines were sharper since he presented as an Alpha. "...what do I smell like?"

"Like I want to peel out of my own skin, leave it on the floor and run." Todoroki clicked his pen.

Uh. Okay. The fuck?

Bakugou pondered that for half a second and pressed on. He didn't care to unpack that. Not now, anyways - not when the ache low in his body was verging on painful.

"Listen, I need a Beta to form a pack bond, to lessen the severity of my shitty ruts. Can't do it with another Alpha, and I'd rather asphyxiate myself than find some needy as fuck Omega. Can't dumb that down enough."

"Why me then? I don't see any benefit in this arrangement for me." Todoroki leaned back, staring coldly up at Bakugou from behind red and white fringe. Bakugou briefly wondered if it would look pink gripped between his fingers or just a smathering of the two.

If anything, he needed this pack bond thing to work so he could stop thinking such god damn gross shit like that.

“Well for one, you're barely hanging on to the number five spot academically. I could tutor your dumb ass. Assuming you're not as hopeless as Shitty Hair.” Bakugou steam- rolled on, and the offer gave Todoroki pause. Anyone would be stupid to pass that up - Bakugou is (was) first in his class and he's had classmates begging him to help them since forever.

Apparently the offer still wasn't enough. Not enough to justify doing the things that maintain a pack bond. Kinda intimate things. Strangely intimate and intimately strange. Todoroki wasn't that stupid, and he hated him for it.

“I think I'll pass.”

But Bakugou was smarter. The smartest in the class save for when his rut had him fucking up perfectly ace- able tests. He'd done the research. This had to work. He had nothing and no body to fall back on if it didn't.

He wasn't a quitter. He was just getting started. And he was nothing if not resourceful.

Bakugou sneered, all toothy and devastating.

“You won't have any drooly heat- stupid Omegas tryin’ to hump your leg or getting handsy in the cafeteria.”

“That happened once---”

“Won’t have any smarmy rutfuck Alphas linin’ their dick up with your ass whenever you turn around or rubbing one out to your yearbook photo in the locker rooms.”

Todoroki’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

“I'm sorry? Aren’t you a smarmy rutfuck Alpha?”

“Don't lump me in with those bastards. I have the self- control of a fucking saint.”

Todoroki huffed. “Are delusions a symptom of rut?”

Piss off,” Bakugou ground out, “It’d also be a lot harder for Alphas to make you do that---” He loosely gestured to Todoroki’s everything, “---snively bitch thing.”

Todoroki stilled, and Bakugou could see him chewing the inside of his cheek by the way his face twisted. Putting up with hormone- soaked Alphas and Omegas was certainly annoying - Bakugou had his fair share of thirsty Omegas tripping over themselves at first sniff. But Bakugou knew damn well the one thing Todoroki despised upon presenting as a Beta was the way his body involuntarily reacted when an Alpha’s aggression sloshed over the edge, given they were close enough to smell.

For the stubborn Todoroki Shouto, it was downright infuriating. And Bakugou planned on using that feeling to his advantage.

“...what? I've never heard of a pack bond helping with… that.”

“Well, kind of---"

“Oh, kind of, right, here comes the loophole---”

Holy shit, you fuck, shut up!” Bakugou dragged his hands down his face and slithered to the floor. This candycane bastard was going to be the death of him. He leaned back on his hands and mentally counted down from ten. Fucked up around six. Stopped, then started again. “For the most part, yeah. They’d have to actually try.”

“Try.”

“You got ice in your ears or somethin’? Yeah try. Like, consciously. Have to think about it.”

Todoroki breathed a laugh. “You're capable of thought then?”

Dead. This guy was so dead. Todoroki had the self- preservation instincts of a walnut.

“The fuck--- dial back the sass, wouldya? Damn.” Bakugou pushed himself off his hands to sit up, leaning over Todoroki’s desk and pulling the open notebook closer. What language was this even in? No wonder Todoroki is only number five in class, he probably couldn't read his own handwriting.

“So...?” What an asshole.

“So---" he snapped the notebook closed, leveled his gaze, "y’know, I've never imposed that Alpha shit on anybody. Not on purpose. I don't give a fuck what you are - I don't need biology to tell me I'm better than you. I'll kick your ass in every parallel universe you could think of. I'll become the number one hero despite what you are, not because of what you are.” A heavy pause hung between them before he tacked on a and your handwriting is garbage like an afterthought.

Todoroki stared.

Bakugou's (undeserved) honesty didn't change the fact that pack bonds involved weird things.

The staring was getting kinda weird too.

“Throw me a line here, icyhot, because your face sure as fuck tells me nothing.” This motherfucker had the emotional range of a spoon.

“...okay. I'll do it.”

“I--- you--- okay? Just like that?” Bakugou’s jaw slacked. But only for a second. Because he was better than that.

“Would you have preferred I said no?”

“No, fuck, okay alright good fanfuckingtastic great, let's move on.” Bakugou pinched the bridge of his nose and rocked forward. The more time he spent in the Beta’s presence, the warmer he felt. His peaking rut sat coiled and hot in his gut, clawing for release. Keeping himself from vibrating in place was exhausting and it was well past his god damn bedtime.

“So… how does this work? What do you get out of this deal, exactly?” Todoroki’s cooperativeness was strange but Bakugou wasn't in a position to question it.

“Well, Betas are supposed to be all calming and shit. They're like Alpha Xanax. When we mix scents,” his lips twitched, “it'll make my rut easier to deal with. Like what a suppressant would do if it didn't fuck up my quirk.”

“And myself…?” He was sure it was his rut thinking instead of him, but this half ‘n half bastard had no right looking so god damn tempting. Sitting on his legs with his shoulders straight, hands neatly in his lap and twisted at the waist just enough to regard Bakugou fully. His eyes swept over him in a once- over. He had on a pair of plaid pajama bottoms colored in blues that looked worn and soft, bunching up with a messy drawstring knot. The white t-shirt he had on dipped low in a V at the front and hung loose and ill- fitted. The Beta had burned up enough shirts with his quirk that he didn't need to imagine what was underneath - a muscular chest, defined abs, smooth stomach and a thick waist.

Bakugou wanted his hands there.

“Can’t go full Beta bitch if no Alpha will get near you. I'll make you smell like fuck off.”

“Are you sure you're not talking about a mate bond?” Todoroki ticked up a red brow, “Sounds awfully similar. Mixing scents, that is.” If Bakugou were a lesser man, perhaps he'd be intimidated by the withering stare Todoroki had on him. But it only made his hackles rise.

"Not the way we'd do it, idiot."

"There's two ways?" Todoroki hummed and considered this, like he'd been living under a rock his whole life.

"Consummating ain't the way to form a bond you perverted fuck. I'm not putting my dick anywhere near you---"

“Oh thank god.”

“---besides, it'll smell different. I'm not going to explain fucking chemistry to your dumb ass. Just know that without any gross feelings, the bond smells different.”

The expression that flits across Todoroki’s face made his heart skip in his chest. Looked almost like disappointment. Huh. It was replaced a second later by his usual stone wall, and Bakugou began to think he imagined it. The hell?

“...okay.” Todoroki started, and that was quickly becoming Bakugou's favorite word. “What do we have to do?” Determination showed in those stupid mismatched eyes, and Bakugou found himself swallowing around a mouth full of saliva.

“Gimme your hand.” He demanded. Once Todoroki lifted his arm he pulled it between them and flipped the other's hand over so his wrist was facing up. The thick blue lines of Todoroki's veins under milky skin drew him in - it was the most bizarre feeling he's ever experienced. His tongue felt heavy in his mouth as he said, “First we just… do this,” and then connected their pulse points.

The absolute shock that rocketed through him was nothing he’d been prepared for, but it paled in comparison to the flood of relief that followed and washed through him, sweeping cool and soothing down his spine and spreading outwards from there.

Todoroki clearly felt something all together different with the way he snatched his hand back, clutching it to his chest with the most scandalized expression Bakugou had never imagined he could even make. He'd laugh in the peppermint fuck’s face if the sudden loss of contact didn't make him feel like he'd been pistol- whipped.

“Todoroki, what the fu---”

“I--- that was--- no.” Todoroki stuttered, shaken and flushed from neck to ears. It took a few gulps of air before Todoroki collected himself again. Meanwhile, Bakugou felt the returning heat of his rut lapping at his insides fiercer than ever. “That was--- that was no, Bakugou. It felt strange.”

HAH?!” Bakugou had gotten a taste of the alleviating sort of release Todoroki was capable of giving him, and now he itched for it. “You tellin’ me that was, what, painful?”

“No, it didn't… hurt.” Todoroki frowned into his lap, rubbing his wrist with the thumb of his other hand, his brows knit.

“Then what's your fucking deal?!” Bakugou hissed through his teeth, wiping the sweat on his palms into his pants at the knees. “You scared or somethin'?!”

Todoroki whipped his head up, eyes sharp enough to cut glass. Bakugou could kinda sorta understand that yeah - maybe it was crappy luck or bad fucking juju that Todoroki ended up a Beta after all. He was a force (freak?) of nature.

“I,” The aggression that rolled off Todoroki burned under his nose. “Am,” The line of his jaw was taut like a rubber band, “Not.” He hissed.

Bakugou's grin was wide and sharp and dangerous. “Prove it.”

Something snapped between them, Todoroki’s eyes darkening with a flutter. “...your move then, smarmy rutfuck Alpha."

"Fuck you---”

A growl ripped from Bakugou's chest as he flung himself straight across the desk, sending books and pens and papers flying. The world seemed to tilt on its axis, and the next thing Bakugou knew he was leaning over Todoroki sliding sweat- slick throat to throat. The airy gasp he elicited from Todoroki almost went unheard through the blood rush in his ears, dripping down thick between his legs. He was only coherent long enough to press an unfettered moan into the other's neck, nose bumping under Todoroki's chin as he shifted gland over gland.

With one hand pressed into the tatami beside them for balance, his opposite skated blindly up Todoroki's arm until it reached the soft hair at his nape. He roughly pushed his fingers through the other's hair, fisting a twist of red and white strands. Bakugou yanked Todoroki's head to a sharp, painful- looking angle and leaned into his erratic swiping and rubbing.

Despite the dizzying fog his mind was in, he could faintly make out hands gripped around his biceps, and humid breath stuttering at the slope of his shoulder. As if a light switch had been flicked, a cooling relief washed down his neck and soaked into the rest of him, extinguishing the raging fire in his gut and curling around his jumping nerves. The reprieve was addicting, having lived with his rut unchecked and imbalanced for too fucking long, body crying out for the normalcy it had gone without for months.

Something inside him dislocated.

"...gou?" Blood pounded in his ears. Did he just hear his name?

Half- moons of red cut into his arms, pulling Bakugou back and out from under Todoroki's chin. He shifted only far enough that their damp panting fanned over each other's cheeks. The hands that had been gripping his biceps moved to hover over his chest. He felt like he was in some fever dream, thoughts unfocused.

"Baku---...?" Sounds filtered in like the hiss of a missing TV channel.

God, Todoroki looked absolutely wrecked - pupils blown, hair tussled, lips parted softly and breath hiccupping. There was a thin sheen sticking to him, and Bakugou wanted to lick it off, taste the salty sweat and savor it.

"Bakugou..." Clearer now.

His eyes flicked to Todoroki's mouth as a tongue darted out to wet his bottom lip, leaning forward and---

"Bakugou."

"WHA--- huh?!" Ever articulate, Bakugou startled at the sudden shove to his chest, snapping his hand from where it at been buried in Todoroki's hair like he'd been burned by it. He scrambled backwards off the desk, landing on his ass with a gruff ooph. There was a pink mark on Todoroki's neck where his rubbing had begun to chafe. Bakugou didn't know when he had began to catch himself thinking about leaving marks other places. With his mouth.

Holy shit, he just thinked that thought and that's dangerous and wrong and disturbing because this is Todoroki Shouto for fuck's sake. His rival since day one, the peppermint mystery wrapped enigma, the stoic hero, the ice and fire protégé with the piss poor attitude problem. Surely it was his rut thinking for him. It had to be. There was no other explanation.

Right?

Todoroki was staring at him again with heavy eyes and pressed brows.

"The fuck you looking at, eh? It's creepy."

Todoroki seemed to come back to himself right then, pulling his left hand away from where he had pressed it to the pulse in his throat. "Creepy? Bakugou, the only creepy thing here is what you just did to my neck."

"ME?!" Bakugou barked, baring his gums and sharp teeth, "You instigated that, you half n' half fuck!"

"Ah, you're loud... ..." Todoroki, annoyingly immune to Bakugou's yelling, rolled his shoulders with a sigh, "So did it work?" This motherfucker had no fear.

"Who's loud you little---" Bakugou stiffened, biting the inside of his cheek. Briefly, he looked down at himself as if there would be any physical evidence it had worked. There was none of course, but the feeling was unmistakable. The heated weight that had been roiling in his abdomen simply whispered now, tamed and oddly sated. Todoroki's scent floated around him, coddling and cool and smelling like spearmint and plain, clean soap. Bakugou had almost forgot what it felt like to have simultaneous control of his body and mind, the fog that had clouded his thoughts lifting quick enough to give him whiplash, the clarity jarring. He tasted some copper from between his teeth, crossing his arms. "Yeah. It did."

Todoroki only hummed noncommittally, breaking his weird stare to start collecting the things Bakugou had flung off his desk. There was a dusting of pink high on his cheeks. "So is that it? We have a pack bond now?"

"The fuck else you expecting me to do, make friendship bracelets or some shit? Yeah that's fucking it." Bakugou pushed himself to his feet as Todoroki gathered the last of his supplies from the floor.

"I see it had no effect on your personality. Shame." He deadpanned. As far as Bakugou was concerned, the only shame was that murder was illegal and he couldn't suffocate Todoroki with his own pillow. He whirled around and stomped across the room, wrenching the door open violently enough to rattle the hinges.

"Better luck next time, asshole."

When he looked back over his shoulder, Todoroki again had his fingers pressed absently to his pale throat. He was looking at his homework again, and the unexpectedly lost look on his face made Bakugou's hand falter on the doorknob.

"Okay."

"Ffff--- okay. Okay. Next time."

Chapter Text

Ugly fluorescents buzzed overhead, illumining the bathroom in sickly yellows.

“Bakugou…”

Todoroki sunk his teeth into the inside of his cheek, tasting warm copper wash over his tongue and swallowing it down thick. He nearly choked on it as rough lips caught over the pulse of his throat, eyes snapping open and hands coming up to grip at Bakugou's forearms. His fingernails cut red half- moons into sun gold skin.

Bakugou.”

There was no response from under his jaw. Downright obscene sounds of sweaty skin unsticking and sticking back together mixed with the wild, shallow gasps between them. Bakugou's sweat- slicked hands struggled to keep purchase on the tile, palms sliding down and jerking back up, digging his fingers into the grout. Todoroki was acutely aware of humid breath ghosting over his skin between his jaw and curve of his shoulder, hypersensitive to every drag of breath or shift of sinew and hard muscle pressed against his chest. The heat that Bakugou radiated was oppressive, lighting a fire under his skin and collecting damp at the nape of his neck, behind is knees. He released a shaky breath, lulling his head against the tile to give Bakugou more room to run their throats together, his movements frantic and erratic. Desperate, lost. Todoroki could relate. Although he was faring better in the cognizant department at the moment.

He'd only vaguely known how pack bonds worked, but now three months in, Todoroki could venture a better guess. On feeling alone, Betas acted almost like a sponge to Alphas, absorbing their rut through the thin skin at the glands in their wrists and neck. Whereas supressants tampered with the biochemistry of the endocrine system enough to put a lid on Alpha rut, Todoroki internalized it. Near violent levels of foreign hormones flooded through him in waves, lapping hot under his skin. It then passed through him like a human sieve and dripped warm and syrupy low in his gut, where it would eventually dissipate.

Todoroki squinted at the ceiling lights. His heartbeat plunged, thrumming tight and unwelcome between his legs. Bakugou's scent rose up like the smoke of a forest fire, as breathtaking as it was destructive, settling deep in his pores. His jaw tightened, trying to will his thoughts from following his pulse south.

His train of thought bottomed out when Bakugou abruptly slotted a knee between his thighs as his hands slipped from the wall, Todoroki gasping a startled, strangled wheeze. Sparks skittered under his his skin and muscles jumped as he pressed his hips up in an involuntary, sloppy grind against Bakugou's leg. Horror immediately sapped the color from his face as he dug his fingers into Bakugou's biceps hard enough to bruise.

"Bakugou, what are you---" Todoroki hissed through his teeth, choking down an embarrassing keen at the back of his throat. He pushed at Bakugou's arms until his solid body shifted back and head bobbled up with a tickle of blonde under his chin. Bakugou's liquid fire stare was hot enough to dissolve flesh and melt into the marrow of his bones. But there was a glaze to them not normally there - something feral and completely lost to the influence Todoroki's Beta scent clearly possessed him with. Dark and heavy- lidded. Bakugou flicked his hazed attention to Todoroki's mouth and he felt his pulse jump between his tonsils in a panic, watching the other lean forward, lips lightly parted--- oh no, not this again.

"Katsuki." Todoroki turned his face away, shoving a hand between Bakugou and himself, intercepting his face with his palm. Bakugou went stalk still. The tension was palpable, their labored breaths echoing off the tile. He could hear Bakugou swallow, then go quiet. The silence was more deafening than the blood still pounding through his ears.

The dead air stretched. He could feel Bakugou blink behind his hand, dusty lashes fluttering against his damp palm.

"Kats---?"

"Who the fuck said you could use my name, huh?!" Bakugou erupted as if awoken from a deep sleep, grabbing Todoroki's arm and violently wrenching his hand away from his face. His whole body shook with mounting rage, stare dangerous and narrow and fists balled at his sides. Bakugou's eyes were fiery brands, searing like a white hot punch to the chest. An incriminating pink stain blossomed between Bakugou's jaw and disappeared into the opening of his shirt, and Todoroki found himself fixated at his sharp collarbones. "Fuck you touchin' my face for, eh, bastard?! I'll kill you and leave your ass here to piss over!"

Ah. Todoroki never thought he could feel comfort in the wake of a death threat. Then again, he'd never met anyone like Bakugou Katsuki before. Or maybe he just needed therapy.

And just like that, it was over. The return to normalcy gave him whiplash. Like a rug pulled out from under him, or a bucket of icy water dumped over his head, or a slap to the face. All of the above, actually.

"Welcome back." He huffed an airy laugh, scrubbing his hands over his face as Bakugou kicked the stall door open like the brutish Neanderthal he was, the lock ricocheting off a trash can and whizzing past his ear to lodge in the wall.

"HAAH?! The hell's that mean?" Bakugou stalked out and made to lean over a sink, squinting into the mirror to assess the swell of his throat gland. Todoroki was inwardly relieved the other hadn't stuck around long enough to notice the swell in his slacks instead. God, this couldn't be right. Surely there was a disconnect between his brain and the Beta under his skin. Todoroki took a deep breath, willing a frosty chill to seep from his lungs and crawl out between his ribs, easing out the wildfire he'd absorbed from Bakugou until it simply ebbed warm and vaguely disquieting at his neck and wrist.

"Nothing." Wisps of frost curled eloquently around his soft exhale as he carefully pulled down his sleeves and grabbed his jacket off the hook, exiting the stall. Bakugou was glaring down at the bloodied crescents on his forearms, his head snapping up when Todoroki approached the sinks. There were pricks of red on his dress shirt.

"What the ever- loving fuck?! You a god damn cat or somethin'?!"

Todoroki didn't deign to reply. Folding his jacket neatly over a sink and leaning over another to inspect the chafed skin under his jaw line in the mirror, he sighed at his sorry reflection, running a wad of paper towels under the cold water and pressing it in gentle dabs to his neck.

"Oi! You ignoring me, half n' half?!" Bakugou ate up the space between them in long, quick strides, slapping the faucet off and getting right in Todoroki's space.

"Hard to do, really." Todoroki regarded him with all the finely- tuned indifference he's perfected over the trajectory of his life thus far. The incredible Alpha scent that normally struck him stupid like a lightning bolt was now a distant rumble of thunder on the horizon. He stared down his nose and directly into the sweltering heat of Bakugou's glare, a lick of warmth flushing up his spine. His lips twitched. He tracked a bead of sweat that slid down from the blonde's hairline over the hard lines of Bakugou's face, following the curve of his thick neck and collecting in the hollow above his clavicle. Todoroki felt his mouth pool and his head fill with static.

"... ... -lf 'n half. Fuck, Todoroki, anyone home?"

Todoroki snapped his eyes back up. Did he just blank out? "Uhm." Smooth, Shouto.

"You're a Grade- A freak, aintcha? Forget it, Beta Brains." Bakugou threw his hands up with a snarl and stomped back to his own sink.

"There's not a soul in this school that would question why you have blood on your shirt, Bakugou." Todoroki finally recovered from earlier.

"Fuck you." Bakugou replied without much heat, gripping the porcelain of the sink and ducking his head under the lip of the mirror. He cupped his hands under the running faucet, splashing cold water over his face.

He supposed they had both gotten exactly what they had wanted out of this arrangement - Todoroki, armed with Bakugou's potent, lingering scent, barely reacted to Alpha aggression anymore. For the most part, they bounced off him like he was surrounded by some invisible force field, parting biblically from his path or sidestepping awkwardly into the distance. When an Alpha did get in his face, the best they could drag out of him nowadays was a twitch. He figured Bakugou was getting what he wanted, too - he was back to his normal (as normal as a bipedal grenade could be) self, reclaiming his top spot in the class and taking no prisoners in his merciless quest to be the undisputed best. At everything.

Todoroki leaned back over his sink, eyes sliding across the room carefully. Bakugou had his own eyes pinched closed, pale lashes sticking together and brushing his cheeks as he splashed water over his face. He dragged a wet hand through his riot of blonde hair, over his neck, down his back as far as he could reach, then slipping back around over his chest. Todoroki steeled himself as Bakugou's shirt shifted up with his movements, exposing the smooth skin at his slim waist. Before they began this strange arrangement, he never registered how devastatingly handsome Bakugou was. He had started to appreciate all the expressions the other wore - from the quiet, contemplative ones when he was taking an exam, brows softly knit and mouth a sober line - to the batshit determined ones he wore mid- fight, mouth split wide and toothy and spewing absolute filth. Todoroki found himself irrevocably drawn to Bakugou - to his thuggish swagger, the curl of his scarred, thick hands, to the broad slope of his shoulders. A lot of people found Bakugou objectively handsome, so Todoroki didn't feel quite at odds with his attraction.

So he thought Bakugou was good- looking. So what? Anyone with a pulse would.

Why his pulse took a swan- dive in a southern direction at contact just had to have everything to do with absorbing Bakugou's rut. It was the closest a Beta could ever experience what rut did to an Alpha, afterall.

Bakugou straightened, shaking himself off like a dog. Water droplets flung everywhere, and Todoroki had to retreat a few steps to avoid getting wet. All those warm appreciative thoughts on Bakugou's attractiveness fizzled out with a pop.

"Never mind, you're an animal." Todoroki muttered to himself.

"Haaah? What're you bitching about over there? Hurry it up, we're going to miss the bell."

"Hmn." Todoroki hummed noncommitally as he slipped into his jacket, hiking the strap of his backpack over his shoulder and walking towards the exit.

"Hey, walk behind me you asshole!" Bakugou muscled his way in front of Todoroki, snatching up his backpack where he'd flung it on the floor on the way in. They merged into the harried traffic of students in the hall, clamoring to reach their classrooms.

Some things never change.

Something did though, between them. Todoroki had told himself that biology was his puppeteer, that he simply acted as a Beta was made to act with an Alpha. However, the thought of that left a sour taste in his mouth, and he knew it to only be a half truth. But it was the safe route, the comfortable - well trodden and bright. The path that made sense.

As Bakugou disappeared in the crowd, an unfamiliar feeling of longing and loss finally had Todoroki absolutely convinced he took a wrong turn somewhere.

Chapter Text

Kaminari sidles up to Bakugou, slinging an arm over his shoulders whilst Ashido hooks her arm in his and sticks to his other side, jostling Bakugou between them.

“Good morning! You're smelling especially docile today.” Kaminari grins and bites his lip in a way Bakugou knows means he can kiss his serene morning goodbye. These clowns very clearly and with purpose decided to make him the target of their harassments this (formally) fine Thursday. The static brain makes a point of leaning in and taking an exaggerated sniff.

“Fuck off, dunceface.” Bakugou groused, shrugging off Kaminari’s arm and shoving him with more force than was necessary so that he side- stepped into the distance past his peripheral, laughing the whole way. He snapped his other arm away from Ashido and briefly wondered when it was he started letting these goons drape themselves all over him like wet towels without fear of consequence.

“Ooh, Bakugou!” Ashido pressed her palms together as Kaminari rebounded to walk in step with them towards the cafeteria. “He's right, y’know! You smell super nice today!”

“I just showered, what's it to you?” Bakugou shoved his hands into his pockets and steeled his jaw - he knew exactly what they were getting at and he'd be damned if he fed into their idiocy.

The day after he and Todoroki had initiated their pack bond was absolute chaos. The very moment he entered the class had the entire room losing their collective shits, spiraling further straight to hell when Todoroki showed up moments after. He supposed he should have expected as much - mixing scents created a very powerful shift hormonally as well as in how they smelled to everyone else around them. It took a solid week and a half of mass hysteria before the class finally settled. Pack bonds weren't prolific enough anymore that how they functioned would be common knowledge. However, Bakugou's struggle with his rut and allergy to suppressants was known throughout the school, so once he spit his reason out to these prying brats their frothing confusion finally simmered.

Todoroki's involvement with Bakugou, although explained over and over and over including by Todoroki himself, remained a hot topic of debate between the classes. Why Bakugou sought out Todoroki took a back seat to why Todoroki sought out Bakugou, of all people. The students’ remaining confusion festered into a morbid curiosity that followed at his heels wherever he went nowadays.

Including by Thing 1 and Thing 2 here.

“No, that's not it.” Ashido tapped a finger to her lips as Kaminari grinned cheekily on his other side. Very few things pissed Bakugou off more than someone playing dumb at his expense. “It smells familiar. Like the first breath you take when you step outside on a chilly day. Or the condensation on a glass of really cold water in the middle of summer.” She leaned in, quirking a pink brow. “Like mint, too! And boring, plain soap.” Ashido had the best nose out of any of the other Alphas in the class, and it was annoying as shit.

“Condensation doesn't have a smell.” Bakugou replied, hupping his backpack more securely over his shoulders. He gripped the straps. “And for the last time, I just showered, fuck’s sake! I don't wallow in my own filth like you two.”

“Well it doesn't smell like your soap.” Kaminari added pointedly. He had balls of steel to try to sling his arm around Bakugou's shoulder again. Fucker had no fear. He got a palm to his face this time and had to bow out from under Bakugou's arm. “And you're certainly the last person that comes to mind when I think of a tall glass of water. More like a shot, if anything.”

Ashido snorted.

Figures an Omega could smell the difference between the soaps people use. This was really, really annoying. He briefly flipped through a mental catalog of criminal investigation shows and how best to murder someone and make it look like an accident.

Or maybe he could just lose them if he walked fast enough.

He had no such luck. They were as dedicated to their teasing as they were stupid. And they were certifiably stupid.

Bakugou gritted his teeth and rounded on them.

“You done? Got your bullshit outta your system? Good, because come training period I'm ripping your Pikachu ass to shreds.” A ripple of aggression had Kaminari wincing and snapping his eyes off to the side. There wasn't as much heat behind his threat (promise?) as there could of been, so he recovered quickly.

“Sounds awful, no thanks!”

Bakugou kicked open the swinging doors to the cafeteria and glared back at all the staring faces like he didn't just make a scene of himself.

“Yo, Bakugou, good morning!” Kirishima waved a hand in the air towards the front of the room, leaning heavily against an empty table. Beside him, Sero was nodding off on his feet.

“Thank fuck.” Bakugou beelined it towards the redhead with Ashido and Kaminari in tow, still chattering incessantly behind him. He dumped his backpack in one of the chairs as Kirishima pinched Sero awake. “Let's fucking go already.” He stalked off in the direction of the breakfast bar.

The cafeteria at UA was something out of a movie. Gigantic. High ceilings with skylights and dining tables scattered everywhere, dotted with potted plants and lounge areas. The menu was stupid huge and always growing. The students could literally get whatever they wanted. While Bakugou was still convinced he could cook that whatever better, but the convenience was at least appreciated. He grabbed a tray and slapped it on the counter, sliding it across until he found what he was looking for. He loaded up a plate with a course of meat on top of meat with a side of more meat. Fuck yes. And orange juice because what's a belly full of animals first thing in the morning without some fruit acid to wash it all down with?

The group returned to the table, digging into their breakfasts and chatting amicably amongst each other. A flash of red and white on the complete opposite side of the cafeteria had Bakugou snapping his eyes up. He squinted. Across the room, Todoroki had settled at a table with Deku and crew, facing Bakugou but oblivious to his staring. The nerd’s fat head was kind of blocking his view, talking animatedly with his hands. Todoroki had his face lowered while his eyes regarded whatever Deku was blathering on about with mild interest. His lips were pursed around a straw, sucking the life out of a juice box. Something Deku said suddenly had Todoroki abandoning his shriveled drink, lips turning up in a soft smile that made its way all the way to his eyes. While Todoroki certainly smiled more than he did as a first year, these gentle expressions were rare and Bakugou could almost hear the airy little huff of a laugh that usually accompanied it. Fleeting as it was, the warm expression had his stomach knotting. The hell? Bakugou shoveled a few too many forkfuls of meat into his mouth, brows knit and stare still flung across the room with increasing ire at the back of Deku’s head. They pretty much stayed out of each other's way when Bakugou wasn't on his rut, only interacting when they were forced to for group activities. So why did he feel so god damn fixated? He wasn't even on his rut right now, for fuck's sake. Just who did that peppermint motherfucker think he was, being all distracting and shit?

Ashido and Kirishima shared a look over their plates.

“Doesn't Bakugo smell particularly calm today?” Ashido commented offhandedly. Bakugou slid a guarded look her way and swallowed his mouthful. Pinky was back on her shit again. She rested her cheek in a palm, elbow propped up on the table and smiling while making direct eye contact. Alpha to Alpha. Bakugou knew a challenge when he saw one, and had to hand it to her - Mina Ashido was not a quitter. Her self- preservation instincts were non- existent.

Sero looked between them with a pensive expression. He was a Beta, which was probably why Bakugou wanted to strangle him the least out of the four of his friends most of the time. When confronted about why Bakugou hadn't asked Sero to form a pack bond to ease his ruts, since he knew him better, Bakugou answered exactly that. Todoroki was not Bakugou's friend, and it was simpler that way. He also knew Todoroki would keep his mouth shut, which he most certainly would not trust Sero to do. He wasn't a gossip like Kaminari or Ashido, but Sero doesn't keep secrets well under pressure. And Ashido could easily bully the details out of him if she wanted to (and god, does she ever, nosey gremlin).

“I don’t think calm is the right word. Ever. Unless you mean like the calm before the storm.” Sero quipped while stirring whatever mush he had in front of him. Traitor, Bakugou’s brain supplied.

Kaminari jumped right back in like the little shit that he was, “You’re not on your rut right now, right? How come you still smell like Elsa over there?”

“You chuckleheads know damn well scent mixing lasts days at a time---"

Kaminari hummed thoughtfully and cut in. “You haven't been on your rut for, what, a little over a week? That's pretty long for a pack bond scent to stick around.”

“---days at a time, like I fucking said!” Bakugou pressed on with force. “I'm not going to sit here and take statistics from someone who double knots their god damn sneakers because they can't tie them properly.”

“Ouch.” Sero laughed into his tea.

“You totally smell... different, though.” Ashido threaded her fingers together under her chin. “At peace kinda.” Her smile was gentle and knowing and he hated it.

Bakugou squinted over the rim of his orange juice. “Yeah? That's the damn point, so what's your game here, E.T., because I'm graspin’ at straws tryin’ to figure out what the hell your play is---”

“You smell mate bonded, man.” Kirishima added with finality, grinning toothy and lopsided.

Bakugou’s hackles rose up and a crackling warning scent with it.

“How the fuck would you know what that even smelled like, haah?! Just last week you poured sour milk in your cereal and puked Capt’n Crunch for three goddamn hours!”

“That's fair.”

“C’mon, guys,” Sero chided, “Let's just finish breakfast and prepare for homeroom.”

Kaminari clearly had a death wish. “Okay, but like, do you not want to mate Todoroki---"

ENOUGH!” Bakugou erupted from his seat, slamming his hands down on the table and snarling through sharp, bared canines as a devastatingly belligerent and feral scent crashed over the table like a tsunami. In its shivering wake, Sero had froze up and tucked his chin downwards, eyes flicked to the side. Kaminari, as the only Omega at the table, fared the worst - he’d been hovering over his tray as a sudden and violent shudder shocked through him, snapping his chin towards his chest and cracking his head against the table instead.

“Ow, fuck---”

“Hey, Bakugou, cool it!” Kirishima clapped a hand onto his shoulder, digging his fingers in with enough pressure to pull Bakugou back into his seat, the bitter scent rolling off the other Alpha piercing the aggression and sobering his rage. His growl tapered off in the back of his throat.

Across the table, Ashido slid a hand from the base of Kaminari’s spine to the top, making little circles between his shoulder blades as a coddling sort of scent permeated the thick fog of fury and submission and easing the rapid heart rates that had jumped up into everyone's throats.

Sero recovered first, sighing down at his oatmeal. “You know, I can kind of understand why Todoroki would want a pack bond to avoid that. It's the worst feeling.” He frowned and Bakugou immediately felt the pang of guilt clatter into his stomach. “Although why he chose you when there are plenty of less hostile Alphas is beyond me.”

“Like me!” Ashido chirped, patting Kaminari's cheek when he could finally lift his head from the table. There was a bruise forming in the middle of his forehead, but he was otherwise unscathed. “God, I'd pay real money to rub up on Mr. Tall, Gloomy and Handsome just once---"

Sero made a pained expression at the same time Kirishima snorted, “I think that's called prostitution and Todoroki doesn't strike me as the type.”

Barf, c’mon guys, I'm wounded here!” Kaminari whined, rubbing at his head with his bottom lip jut out like a damn toddler.

Bakugou clenched his jaw and stood, his chair scraping backwards against the linoleum. He snatched a plate of pie from some unlucky first year’s hands and tossed it in front of Kaminari without fanfare. “Here. Eat that and shut up.” A sorry was in order, he was sure, but he'd probably choke on the words and die.

Thankfully Kaminari is easily pleased. Or just a moron. “Whhhoooaaaa!” The human sparkplug's eyes went all big and wobbly. “That's my favorite! Thanks!”

“You know his favorite desert, Bakugou?” Kirishima laughed unbelievably. He still had his hand on Bakugou's shoulder. The intensity from earlier crackling and thick fizzled out to a dull wariness across the table.

“I'm perceptive as hell, fuck off.” Bakugou replied, rolling his shoulders to dislodge his hand. Grabbing the strap of his backpack, he plunked it on the table and fished around until he pulled out his water bottle, wagging it at his friends. "I'm going to fill this up, and if any of you leeches follow me, I'll stick it up your ass."

"Swounds awful, nwo fanks!" Kaminari said from around a mouthful of pie.

"We'll just see you in class, then." Sero was shaking his head at Ashido's pout.

"Maybe you should stand outside a sec while you're at it, man." Kirishima offered good- naturedly. "Might make you feel better."

"Don't tell me what to do, shitty hair." Bakugou whipped his backpack over a shoulder and padded towards the exit, raising a hand as if about to wave, but flicked them off instead. Ashido's obnoxious guffaws followed him out.

Briefly, he glanced back and skimmed the opposite side of the cafeteria - the seat in front of Deku was empty. His ribs felt too small for his lungs, tight and warm. The obvious disappointment simmering under his skin only served to aggravate him further. Bakugou bit the inside of his cheek and pushed his way out of the swinging doors, mouth pulled down into a soft frown. Maybe his rut was coming on early - way too early, he only just got off his last one. Huh.

As he rounded the corner, he came to a sudden stop, shoes scuffing a dark mark on the floor with a squeak. Todoroki was leaning over a water fountain, a hand threaded back through his hair to keep it out of his face as he drank, long and deep. Bright early- morning light flooded the hallway from the large windows, making the white of his hair almost blinding in its intensity. Todoroki's dense lashes were lowered, nearly brushing his cheeks. The pink tip of his tongue slipped in and out of his lips languidly, some water dribbling down his chin.

Bakugou sucked in a breath.

Which apparently wasn't nearly as quiet as he thought it was, because Todoroki flicked his eyes up and met Bakugou's as his hand left the button to the water spigot.

"Bakugou?" Todoroki straightened, wiping his chin off with the back of his hand as his other dropped from his hair to his side loosely. His lips were shiny and wet and tempting what the fuck. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm the hall monitor, where's your fucking pass?" Bakugou rolled his eyes and finally stalked forwards again from where he'd been planted, popping the cap of his water bottle off with his thumb. "I go here, dumbass. Now move."

"I'm not done. Wait your turn." Todoroki huffed, making to curl back over the water fountain again.

"HAAH?" Bakugou gripped his water bottle tighter. "You're done. Between this and your fucking juice box you're going to have to piss by the middle of first period."

Todoroki blinked, eyes immediately narrowing. "Juice box?"

Shit.

Bakugou bristled, a defensiveness he was unused to rising up his throat like a bile. His cheeks warmed, expression souring. "You eat and drink the same exact thing every day. Know thy enemies or whatever."

Todoroki looked like he wanted to say something, opening and closing his mouth a few times before he set his jaw pensively and dipped back down into the water fountain. Good, crisis averted. "I'm not your enemy, Bakugou." He replied evenly, pressing into the spigot and the fountain whirred back to life, arching a stream of water into Todoroki's waiting mouth.

His scent shifted, and Bakugou's nostrils flared, brow knotting. A Beta's scent was normally very faint, like it was far away compared to Omegas or other Alphas. Ever since they started their pack bond, Todoroki's scent became a lot easier to distinguish, to put labels on. But the scent easing off him now was entirely new and unnamable. He was making direct eye contact through his gulping water like a god damn fish. Bakugou stiffened, face growing hot. Betas just didn't do that. Okay, different crisis now. This motherfucker was making a show of it - lapping up water like a man dying of thirst. Not the dainty little cat- esque laps before he noticed Bakugou's presence, but full on slurps. His eyes flew distractedly between Todoroki's challenging stare and the bobbing of his throat.

Bakugou's mouth dried.

"The hell you ain't." He renewed his grip on his water bottle, knuckles going white as he stepped closer to the fountain. "I'm not going to spend the day dehydrated because your spiteful ass has to have the last word. Fuck off."

"I was here first." Todoroki said so matter- of- factly Bakugou wanted to punch him.

"What are you, four?! Move it!"

Sluuurrrrppp.

"You're going to piss yourself!"

"I'll take my chances."

"No the fuck you won't because I'm filling my god damn water bottle before class so you're moving!" Bakuou's scent rose up biting and caustic, sparking a warning through Todoroki in the form of a twitch. That was all he could drag out of him nowadays. The Beta was clearly testing the limits of their pack bond, emboldened by his (sort of) immunity to Alpha aggression, and Bakugou would be damned if he didn't take the bait despite himself.

Todoroki wasn't even drinking anymore, jaw slack and tongue lolled out, just letting the stream of water flow back out of his mouth and dribble down his chin, soaking the collar of his shirt. His eyes were hard, determined. Bakugou swallowed, feeling his spine flush up. Todoroki quirked a daring brow, lips turning up in a soft, deceptively subtle way and Bakugou fucking lost it.

"You---" He snatched Todoroki by a lapel and hauled him up in one volatile, swift movement. A low, deep growl rolled from the barrel of his chest, eyes dark and fixed directly into Todoroki's own, mouth split across his face and canine's bared up to the gums. He could feel the other's humid breath hitch against his cheeks, staring into swelling pupils as his own undoubtedly shrunk to pinpricks. The abrupt shift in the Beta's scent had him reeling, the hairs at the back of his damp neck standing at a quiver. His ears rang at a screaming pitch and skin pimpled with gooseflesh. The world dropped with his stomach as Todoroki closed the space between them, crushing their mouths together through a strangled whine - a searing comet shot through him straight to his groin, his knees nearly buckling underneath him from the force. Bakugou swallowed Todoroki's startled gasp whole as he pressed back into his soft, wet mouth with a drawn out moan. An oppressive heat skated thick and shuttering down his spine and collecting low in his belly. Todoroki slipped his tongue past his lips, sliding the flat of it over his teeth and licking over his upper lip and Bakugou saw fucking stars explode behind his eyes, all coherent thought derailing and going static.

It all came crashing back just as quickly as it began, and just as violently. Two palms slammed into his chest, knocking the wind out of him with a sharp wheeze as he stumbled backwards and nearly landed on his ass. He threw out a hand to catch himself with the wall, already glaring by the time his train of thought snapped back online.

"What the fuck?!" He coughed at the same time Todoroki hissed what did you do? Bakugou's hackles rose up in tandem, his jaw tightening as an angry heat licked up his spine. "HAAHH?! What'd I do?! You kissed me!" He growled incredulously, voice pitching. His body shook with unchecked rage and frustration.

"I--- what? What? I didn't---" Todoroki looked like he just came back from the twilight zone. His eyes were wide with a glassy sightlessness, flushed dark pink to the tips of his ears. "I didn't kiss you, you--- you kissed me!" His voice cracked. Seeing him so riled up normally would have given Bakugou a sick sort of satisfaction he would've lauded over the chronically stoic prick for days, but the circumstances turned everything he ever thought he'd feel on its head. Instead, his chest clenched painfully at the disoriented expression painted across the other's face. Todoroki had both his hands fisted in his own hair, looking so fucking lost and angry and sad it gave him whiplash just to witness.

"Wha--- Because you kissed me first, Jesus Christ! You hit your head?!" He was missing something here. Something big.

"I didn't, I---" Todoroki dropped his hands from his head, dragging them down his face and backing up. Red and white stuck up at sharp angles. "I didn't. I didn't kiss you. I would've---" Bakugou watched on with no small amount of mortification as he fumbled over himself like a fawn on new legs, whipping around and then fucking booking it. Todoroki just kissed him and now he was running the fuck away and holy shit what the fresh hell is happening right now---

"Hey, hey, what the, wait--- Todoroki, fuck, Shouto---!" A turbulence of embarrassment soaked through him like lead as Todoroki rounded a corner and disappeared.

Bakugou was left gaping, lips tingling with the taste of winter and apple juice.

His heart jack rabbitted into his throat suffocating and exhilarating all at once. Pressing his shoulders to the wall, he slithered to the floor and knocked his head back, staring up in disbelief at the popcorn ceiling.

"What the fuck." He breathed aloud to the empty hallway.

Chapter Text

"'Cringing. The act of licking the teeth or lips of a person of higher rank among pack members as a show of subordination or to deflect aggression. This is an ingrained behavior in non- Alphas, although reports of cringing have been extremely rare since the popularity decline of pack bonds beginning in the forties.'" Midoriya Izuku chewed the thumbnail of one hand as the other scrolled through an article on his phone, his brows knit. "Huh, wonder what happened in the forties...?"

"Midoriya."

"A- Ah, right! Sorry, Todoroki." His friend gave him a wavering, sympathetic smile that only served to mortify him further. "At least you know what happened now?" Midoriya offered good- naturedly as Todoroki tried with all his might to sink into the floor and disappear forever.

"Knowing doesn't help." He sighed, dragging his hands down his face and letting them fall loosely into his lap with a resigned look across the kotatsu at his friend.

Midoriya had wormed his way into Todoroki's life with unabashed resilience since their first year, smoothing the cracks he didn't know he had entirely without permission and filling them with a loyalty he hadn't known he was capable of feeling - he had easily become the closest thing to a best friend Todoroki has ever had. He'd follow him into battle, never second- guessing his decisions. His passion and resolve were unmatched, something undoubtedly worth looking up to. He was every drop deserving of being hailed as a leader, a Hero in every sense of the word. Todoroki had no doubts that he would become the first Omega to claim the title of Number One. He was also a great listener.

So after this morning's Water Fountain Incident, Midoriya was the only one he could trust with his plight. It wasn't uncommon nowadays for them to camp out in each other's rooms doing homework or nothing at all, comfortable in their silence. Or chatting, as they were now. Dressed down in t- shirts and pajama bottoms for the evening and lower halves tucked under Todoroki's kotatsu, he had rehashed what happened between Bakugou and himself with no short amount of painful embarrassment. All the while, Midoriya had nodded along quietly, brows knit with concern.

Midoriya's penchant for making intrusive suggestions on matters of the heart was certainly a reason he had gravitated towards him to begin with, but his particular situation was proving to be something entirely outside Midoriya's realm of expertise. Todoroki tried to hide his disappointment behind a cup of the tea he'd made for them.

"You can't help it. So why feel bad?" Midoriya hummed, puffing little breaths over the top of his cup to cool his scalding drink. Behind them, Todoroki had his room's little balcony open, his wind chime fluttering in the breeze - normally the gentle noise served to ease the tension knotting in his shoulders, but his unease ran bone deep.

"I don't feel bad. It's---" Embarrassing? Shameful? A blow to his pride so savage he might never recover? "---stupid." Todoroki finished instead, breathing a humorless laugh. He was balancing his cup on his right palm, keeping the tea the perfect temperature while his left steadied it lightly at the back. Watching his friend struggle to sip at his own blistering hot drink was at least entertaining. Every time Midoriya thought he'd given the tea enough time to cool, he'd stick the tip of his tongue out warily, only so suck it back in with a hiss on contact, features pinched up in pain. After a few more tries, Todoroki decided to have mercy and motioned for Midoriya to pass his cup over, covering it in his right hand and using his quirk to cool it.

"Thanks." Midoriya smiled, bright and warm. He finally sipped at his tea, lips turned up softly at the corners into the rim. When he continued on, it was with a great flourish of his hands. "Anyway, I think you're making this a bigger deal than it is. You had nothing to do with what happened. You can't help biology. Besides, your pack bond with Kacchan is working, right? Alphas avoid you like you're made of plague. I'm kind of jealous! If I had a dollar for every time the Omega in me tucked its tail when an Alpha got angry, I'd be a gazillionaire---"

"Midoriya, I licked Bakugou's teeth."

His friend made a strangled noise at the back of his throat, scarred hands flying up in front of his red face. "R- Right! Well when you put it like that, it certainly does sound---" He peeked out from behind his thick fingers, giving Todoroki a wobbly smile. "---stupid."

Todoroki's schooled his expression to soften, offering Midoriya a smile he hoped was convincing. If Midoriya noticed the tight edge to it, he blessedly didn't say anything, letting the conversation taper off into a gentle lull. They played a game on Midoriya's phone for awhile as the sun finally dipped below the horizon, casting long, dark shadows across the tatami and wood. The paper lighting fixtures quivered in the cooling breeze, their golden light skittering on the floor and up the walls. Muffled chatter died down from the floors below them, the students of Height's Alliance settling into their own dorm rooms for the night.

After getting his butt whooped more times than he cared to keep track, Todoroki straightened from where he'd been leaning over Midoriya's silly phone game. He tried rolling the knots out of his neck with a crack, rubbing at his eyes with a knuckle.

"You did good, Todoroki! No one can usually tame that many dinosaurs their first level. It's unfortunate we kept spawning in carnivore- infested regions---"

"What does it mean when an Alpha cringes?" Todoroki blurted. The question had been sitting heavy at the back of his mind since Midoriya had put a name to the not- kiss. It couldn't be a show of subordination if it was coming from an Alpha, and he had definitely felt Bakugou press his mouth into his in front of the water fountain. And all those times they mixed scents, when Bakugou would lean towards him in a daze, dark red eyes fixed at his lips. Was it a show of dominance? He felt an angry heat lick up his spine, jaw setting pensive.

"Huh?" Sigh. Et tu, Midoriya?

"Cringing. The thing... with the mouth. What does it mean when an Alpha does it?"

Midoriya pursed his lips, locking his phone screen and giving him curious a look. "They don't."

Todoroki's mind swam.

'Wha--- Because you kissed me first, Jesus Christ!'

'Hey, hey, what the, wait--- Todoroki, fuck, Shouto---!'

Bakugou Katsuki thought Todoroki had kissed him, and kissed him back.

Bakugou Katsuki had called him by his name.

The color from Todoroki's face instantly drained.

"Do you like Kacchan, Todoroki?" Midoriya's accusation punched into Todoroki's gut like one of his Detroit Smashes, breath ripped from his lungs from the staggering force of the impact. His friend was clearly oblivious to the inner turmoil tearing his whole world upside down and inside out. Todoroki's heart jumped between his tonsils and face flushed hot, pulse pounding in his ears. Midoriya leaned closer from across the kotatsu, turning the full force of his large, green- eyed stare that belonged to someone half his age on Todoroki like the blistering heat of a interrogation spotlight.

"I--- no. I don't." Todoroki winced at the sound of his own pinched voice. "I'm responding to an Alpha the way a Beta was made to."

Midoriya hummed in a way he knew he didn't believe him, and suddenly Todoroki wasn't sure he believed himself either. He didn't know what to believe anymore. "And what if you're not?"

Todoroki audibly swallowed, a wave of uncertainty and trepidation the likes of which he's never known crashing over him, flooding under his skin until he felt like he was drowning in it. He pressed his finger tips together and leaned his forehead into them, chin tilted down and staring unseeing into his lap as the world dropped out from around him. Falling for Bakugou Katsuki was never part of their deal, never part of any plan or thought he could have ever conceived himself to be a part of. He put his autonomy on a pedestal and never realized his biology fading out around it, melting together into something foreign and undistinguishable.

"And what if I am?" His voice came out a rough whisper. He grimaced against the thought that he was designed by nature to be a second class citizen. It was the reason he agreed to a pack bond with Bakugou to begin with - to lesson his submissive reactions to Alphas. Bakugou included. If cringing really was a show of submission, then he wanted no part of it.

Even if he risked losing a piece of himself in the process.

Midoriya finally seemed to sense the quiet crisis Todoroki had slipped into and pushed off his knees, shuffling over to the side Todoroki was seated at and gently pushing his hands away from his face. "I can't answer that, but I do think your pride is getting in the way of whatever that answer is."

Todoroki lifted his eyes and grunted. "No it isn't."

"See! My point exactly!" His friend laughed, shoulders shaking as he settled back on his heels. Todoroki could barely smell it, but Midoriya had a faint, soothing scent. Like rain dripped into parched earth, thick green foliage and a summer breeze. It soaked under his skin and eased out the tension that had been building up all day. "You and Kacchan are more alike than you think."

Todoroki exhaled through his nose, rolled his eyes. "That's a frightening thought."

"Yeah I guess." With a chuckle and a nod, Midoriya stretched his arms over his head and squinted at the clock on Todoroki's desk. He abruptly jolted, jumping to his feet in a panic and grappling at his phone. "Oh! I have to call my mom, I completely forgot---" He spun on his heel and dashed towards the door, skidding to a stop just short of bounding over the threshold and glancing back over his shoulder. "Good luck, Todoroki!" He flashed one of his winning smiles and sped off.

"With what---" But Midoriya was already gone. He could hear him taking three steps at a time down the stairwell.

Todoroki blinked at the closed door, releasing a breath and flopping onto his back, staring at the bland ceiling. His thoughts drifted.

There was only one way to know for sure if what he felt for Bakugou was just the Beta in him yearning for the Alpha in Bakugou, or... something else. He frowned at nothing and rolled over, pushing himself to his feet and grabbing his tea, heating it back up with his left hand as he padded towards his little balcony in a rush to escape the unwelcome stuffiness that train of thought was bound to create. The wind chime sung in the soft evening current, joined by crickets and other tittering insects. Lights on campus and the surrounding city blurred into shimmering colors in the dark. He had the advantage of having a room on the topmost floor, getting an unobstructed view of the night sky stretching deep blues and blacks across the sky, dotted with twinkling stars and a full, glowing moon. Bracing his free hand on the cool metal of the guardrail, he tilted his face up and let his eyes flutter closed with a deep, grounding breath.

His moment of respite shattered as a familiar and jarring feeling of being watched struck an electric cord down his spine. Years of honed, beaten in senses had his face snapping down instantaneously, breath coming out icy. Todoroki's eyes locked with a sharp, blood red gaze and he immediately regretted stepping outside. How he could forget his room sat directly atop a certain Alpha's was beyond him.

"Bakugou."

"Half n' half."

Todoroki was thankful for the dark to conceal the heat that undoubtedly lit up his cheeks. Bakugou was a sight - especially after a day awkwardly skirting around each other and avoiding any and all eye contact. He was sitting with his back pressed into the iron railings, knees spread easy, face tilted up to regard Todoroki with a look he couldn't read. His skin was flushed pink in splotches from a recent shower, ashy hair darkened to a golden wheat with a heavy dampness, sticking to his face and nape. A towel hung around broad, rolling shoulders, hanging loose over his bare chest. Bakugou was wearing nothing more than a pair of sweats, sitting low at his trim waist. He was also holding open a book, balancing the spine of it against a knee with his thumb pressed into the center. All softness in Bakugou's physique when they'd met had melted away to all chiseled lines, sharp angles with bulging biceps and a thick, muscular chest. Years of experience, hardship and a brutal training regimen had cut Bakugou into a devastating sort of handsome, one built atop raw, unbridled power.

Todoroki's mouth dried, swishing his tongue around between his cheeks until he had enough spit to speak again. This doesn't prove anything, his brain supplied. "What are you doing?"

"The fuck? Basket weaving, what's it look like?" Bakugou dog- eared his book and snapped it closed. Calculus, it looked like actually. He could smell the spice of Bakugou's soap from a floor up.

"Without a shirt on? You're going to get sick." He frowned, hipping his weight so he could prop his elbows on the thin banister.

"Fuck off." Bakugou sniffed, dragging his wrist under his nose. "It's my room, I'll sit out here naked if I fuckin' felt like it---"

"Please god, please spare me the trauma." Todoroki pressed his hands to his temples. Bakugou was as shameless as they come, and while he's gotten more than his fair share of locker room eyefuls to know he's got nothing to be ashamed of, the thought of walking onto his balcony to a naked Bakugou a floor below did strange things to his head.

"HAAH? I ain't your god, pretty boy."

"That's for sure." Todoroki replied evenly, lips softly curving up as he brought his tea to them.

"What're you doing?"

"Thirsty."

"Ch'yeah, no kidding."

Todoroki's smile dropped like a weight in a bucket of boiling water, blood rushing hot under his skin. His face flared a bright red up to his ears, cracking the bottom of the cup against the railing and chipping it. He cursed himself for playing right into Bakugou's hands when he'd set out to distance himself not even moments ago. The ease at which they had fallen in their usual back and forth was alarming, completely unaware until the air between them shifted. Thick, heavy and crackling with some unnamable energy. He took a breath, and tried his own voice on for size after swallowing his heartbeat.

"Bakugou."

"Juliet."

"Bakugou."

"What, Jesus! I'm eight fuckin' feet away from you, stop sayin' my name like a god damn parrot---"

"I don't want to be in a pack anymore."

Even from a distance, Todoroki could see the careful set in Bakugou's jaw. His chest rose and fell slowly, but there was a shake to his breathing, as if he were holding something back with great difficulty. He often did this right before detonating into an explosion of sharp words and flying fists - he hadn't expected to sever their bond so easily and without a fight.

But nothing came of it - no yelling, no fists, no property damage or threats of expulsion from whatever unlucky teacher managed to find and pull them apart first. He almost wished Bakugou had flown off the handle, because the silence was deafening. A broken rib or two would be less painful than the expression that flit across Bakugou's face, dark and lost.

It didn't last long, however. If looks could kill, Todoroki imagined his brains would have been splattered all over his balcony by now.

Bakugou bit into a sneer, the taught band behind his unusually mild demeanor finally snapping.

His words rushed like water breeching a dam. "You think you can just kiss me and pretend it didn't fucking happen---"

"I didn't kiss you, Bakugou." Todoroki interrupted with force. He needed to cut this conversation down at the knees. Rip it off like a band aid. "It's called cringing, it's--- it's something non- Alphas do as a show of... subordination." He chewed down around the word, the taste of it washing sour over his teeth.

A light switch flicked on behind Bakugou's eyes, his gaze scattering all over Todoroki's face, undoubtedly searching for any sign that he'd misheard or been lied to or anything else a person like Bakugou could use to save himself the humiliation of the truth. There was none to be found, of course. It was hard not to notice the flush climbing high on Bakugou's cheeks, realization visibly crashing over him with a slack jaw and beady red eyes surrounded by a sea of panicked white. But embarrassment on Bakugou was always fleeting, his shock swallowed up in the span of a heartbeat. Anyone who ever commented on Todoroki's metaphysical walls had clearly never met Bakugou Katsuki. Whereas Todoroki's were made of icy indifference and inflexible pride, Bakugou's were built of a fiery ego and dogged bravado. "Yeah? What cereal box you read that off of?" His voice came out sharp and dangerous. Masking defensiveness.

"Midoriya found it on one of the secure databases owned by the school's library archives---"

"DEKU? Fucking Deku?!" Bakugou's voice climbed, verging on the hysterical. His wide grimace bared his teeth like an animal backed into a corner. He was standing now, the familiar sound of crackling and popping sparks smoking from fists curled at his sides. "Deku doesn't know shit about nothin'. That little fuckwad---"

"He's my friend, which is more than I can say of you." Todoroki snapped, "This isn't open for debate, Bakugou. I'm done."

"You---"

For the second time that night, he'd struck Bakugou speechless.

But instead of victorious, Todoroki felt his stomach plummet to the floor and heart lodge in his throat instead. The clear night sky suddenly felt like a heavy quilt draped over his shoulders in the middle of summer, thick and suffocating. A myriad of emotions twisted up Bakugou's face before falling off entirely, left bare and strangely vulnerable.

The silence stretched for what seemed like an eternity, and Todoroki hadn't known he'd been holding his breath until a soft faintness licked at the back of his skull. He released his breath and sucked in another through his nose, the cutting sound amidst the quiet night jerking Bakugou from whatever speech paralysis he'd lapsed into.

"---... ...whatever." Bakugou finally mumbled, breaking eye contact to stoop and snatch his Calculus book off the ground. Without looking back up, he waved it dismissively over his head at Todoroki. "Don't come crawlin' to me when you have a bunch of rutfuck Alphas seepin' out the woodwork who would love nothing more than to see your Beta ass on your knees." With that, Bakugou stepped back into his room and slammed the door to his balcony with enough force to topple and shatter something from within the room. A slew of muffled curses filtered up through the floorboards.

Todoroki released his grip on the railing and leaned down, pressing his cheek to the cool metal and letting his eyes flutter closed with a shaky exhale. The scent of Bakugou's spiced soap still hung in the air, lingering like a ghost.

'And what if you're not?'

Todoroki frowned and turned his face into the crook of his arm.

It wouldn't matter. Not anymore.

"Stupid."

Chapter Text

Second year washed out like the tide, taking the remainder of Bakugou's restraint with it. His rut returned with a vengeance, holding his focus hostage and swiftly driving his grades into the ground a mere few weeks into the first semester. Midterms were encroaching, weighing heavy at the forefront of his rut- addled brain.

“-gou? Bakugou?”

HAAH, huh? What?” He bared his teeth, head snapping up from where he'd been having a staring contest with a particularly fuzzy line of text. Camped out in the dorm lounge area, books and flashcards and pens scattered on the table, the students bore into their studies. Outside, the first frost of the season settled into a glittering sheet across campus, flooding through the windows of Heights Alliance in shivering blue- grey light.

Bakugou was surrounded by the usual suspects. Tutoring them. Or trying to - his rut was peaking to a literal fever pitch. His brains just might melt and drip out his ears and he'd be none the wiser. The chill in the air offered no reprieve.

“You okay?” Kirishima asked good naturedly somewhere across from him, toothy smile wavering. He sounded far away compared to the blood rush in his head.

“I'm fucking fine.” He aggressively flipped to the next page of his book. The text there wasn't any clearer, damnit.

“I've seen road kill better looking than you right now.” Kaminari peeked out from around Ashido’s shoulder, positioned up wind of Bakugou as much as that could be in an indoor space. Bakugou's rut was so heinous that even at a distance and with two other Alpha’s between them, the Omega ducked his head and wrinkled his nose every time Bakugou so much as sneezed in his direction. “Seriously, though. Your eyes are super red. You sure you don't have Pink Eye?”

“What's so bad about Pink Eye?” Ashido asked, mildly hurt.

“It's a contagious infection.” Sero, ever the voice of reason in this group of idiots, frowned. He was sitting opposite Kaminari. Better safe than sorry, he’d claimed.

“I said I'm fucking fine!” Bakugou snarled, “Cut the shit. You fuckwits wanna play Twenty Questions or do you wanna mind your damn business and study?”

“You guys are just prejudiced against pink eyes.” Ashido huffed.

“Ashido, your eyes are black.”

“I'm going to give you all black eyes if you don't shut the fuck up and get back to work!” He seethed, pounding a fist on the table. Sparks flew from between his fingers, petering out like the tail end of a firework. Fuck, his eyes stung - he’d been sweating bullets throughout his rut, pooling over every stretch of skin and running salty and stinging into his eyes. Yanking the hem of his shirt up to his face, he scrubbed the sweat at his red- rimmed eyes, inadvertently exposing his torso. Ashido's dog whistle went ignored.

She'd been the first one to call Bakugou out when his rut exploded back into his life with Todoroki nowhere to be seen. Nosy as they all were, his friends had (eventually) recognized the mutual benefits they'd both gained from their arrangement, and had thus flew into a panic at first sniff of an unbridled rut resurfacing from Bakugou's every pore some few weeks after Todoroki dipped.

When he’d met their rabid curiosity with a clipped, we’re not a pack anymore and left it at that, Mina had dragged those black gold eyes over him like a slab of meat on display of a corner deli, snapped her gum, and pressed her lips together in a disbelieving uh huh. Suspicion hummed faintly under his skin that they hadn't pursued any details beyond that. But he wasn't about to invite these goons into his shitstorm of a situation.

Todoroki was an ace at the Pretend It Never Happened game, which on some level Bakugou appreciated. Saved him a lot of work, since that was usually a tactic he himself often employed when things got uncomfortable. And if Bakugou did nothing but let what happened fester, eating himself alive for fucking months, well - that was his problem.

'It's called cringing, it's--- it's something non- Alphas just do as a show of... subordination.

Bakugou grit his teeth.

The truth passed between their balconies that night stung worse than anything his biology could throw at him. He'd kissed Todoroki Shouto, and he hadn't had his rut to blame. That humiliation still smarted.

“---and what I don't understand is,” Kaminari was still rambling, the entire table oblivious to Bakugou's internal, raging crisis, “why this,” he gestured loosely to Bakugou’s everything, “is a problem. I mean, you rely on sweat for your quirk! You're like a werewolf during a full moon, dude. If I owned whatever unfortunate Agency that ends up hiring you, I'd literally only schedule you on your rut.”

Bakugou clapped his book shut angrily, shoving his pens into a pocket with more force than necessary. His hackles rose with a low, rumbling growl. “When's the last time you saw me activate my quirk with my fucking face, haah?!” A searing heat licked up his back, brows drawn in sharp. He abruptly felt like he had cotton between his ears, blood pounding and deafening. His frustrations spilled out quick and messy, punctuated with hissed curses. “I can't fucking see, I can't even fucking think in a straight line, you--- you…” He derailed, speech slurred, all thought coming to a screeching halt, fizzling out with a pop. He blinked, head filled with the drone of a missing TV channel. What were they talking about again? “Uh.” Fuck.

Uh?!” Four pairs of eyes gawked at him, gasping in tandem.

“Ha, holy shit.” Of course Kaminari was the first to recover from the shock, fuck him. He waved his hands in front of him with a wide smile just begging to be punched in. “Forget everything I've ever said about your rut behind your back. I like this Bakugou!”

Sero gave him a sympathetic smile he wanted absolutely nothing to do with as Ashido clapped a hand over her mouth just in time to muffle a shriek of laughter.

“I think you should go take a nap or something, man.” Kirishima squeezed a hand on Bakugou's shoulder.

Fuck. You. I'll nap when I'm dead.” Bakugou snapped when his lucidities came back online, shrugging out from under Kirishima’s hand. Standing, he shoved his text under his armpit and jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I'm outta here. You dumbasses are a lost cause.” His head swam, and it took everything in him not to sway on his feet.

“Okay, thanks for your hard work!” Kirishima waved, infuriatingly immune to Bakugou's insults.

“Awh, but I hate PoliSci! It's my worst subject!” Ashido whined and stretched her arms over the table, jutting out her bottom lip.

“All subjects are your worst subject.” Sero clicked his pen, palming his cheek in his other hand.

Fatality.” Kaminari laughed as Ashido launched a highlighter at him and a very unstudious chaos ensued.

“Go, before they notice! I'll cover you!” Kirishima shot him a thumbs up and fell across the table in faux dramatics.

Che. Don’t tell me what to do.” Bakugou muttered, answered only with the raucous laughter of his friends as he turned on a heel. Throwing a hand over his head dismissively, he swiftly made for the stairwell, taking them two at a time. He felt his blood pressure rise with the floors.

When he made it to his room, he all but threw his textbook onto his desk, kicking the door shut with his heel. Peeling out of his disgusting clothes and pulling on a comfy pair of sweats and a black t-shirt, he plunked into the seat at his desk and flipped the book back open, determined to get to studying. Trying to do anything productive, let alone memorize information, during peak rut was like playing Russian Roulette, and the bullet represented the point at which all faculty ceased and nature took over.

Although, he was pretty sure his gun was fully loaded from the start.

Bakugou fisted a hand in his hair in a vain attempt to ground himself, eyes skimming the same first line of the same first paragraph he’d been staring at for a painful thirty minutes. He bit down on the inside of his cheek, swallowing back the taste of warm copper, but instead of jarring him back to his studies it only served to nauseate him. Gripping the edge of his desk, he leaning back in his chair until it was balanced precariously on two legs, glaring at the lights on the ceiling. His vision blurred.

“What the fuck…” He hissed to the empty room, letting the chair snap back to the floor and scrubbing the heels of his palms over his eyes. Blinking a few times, he peeked back over his text, only for that same damn line of text to blur right in front of him. Fucking hell.

Bakugou gritted his teeth and sucked in a breath, pinching his eyes closed. His blood thundered, racing hot and thick through his veins. He flushed damp up his spine, his nape, behind his knees - sweat saturated his skin. His ears hissed deafening and static, every minute noise polluting into his room sending tiny shocks through his jaw, teeth clenched close to splintering.

A familiar but no less unwelcome heat pooled low and syrupy in his gut, bringing his pulse to settle between his thighs. He squeezed his eyes tighter and bit into his lip, trying to will his restraint from slipping. Bakugou had never felt this out of control in his entire fucking life. He was fast, volatile, unrestrained and unpredictable, but nothing he’d ever done had been truly habitual. Until this point, he'd built his life upon carefully orchestrated destruction.

The pulse between his legs grew, incessant heartbeat pulling his hand to hover over his crotch. Heat curled and radiated through his sweats, which felt too tight, too warm. Too everything. His eyes snapped open, glaring accusingly through the salty sting of his lashes at the straining bulge of his lap.

“Fucking…! Shit.” His voice dragged gravelly and low.

Bakugou wasn't some smarmy rutfuck Alpha. He's never spent his ruts thirsting after anything with a pulse or fucking himself off dumb. He wasn't some depraved animal devoid of any and all rational thought or self control. Bakugou Katsuki was better than that. He had better things to do, places to be, asses to kick. He'd rather choke on his own spit and die than admit defeat, even to himself.

His hand brushed over his pants, his dick twitching as tiny electric currents zipped under his skin and stiffened his shoulders.

Maybe he'd resign to this fate, just this once.

Fuck. Okay.” He ground out, standing abruptly from his seat, the legs skidding against the floor. A sick twist of indignity and anticipation rose up his throat like a bile as he dropped his knees to his mattress heavily. His skin hummed, mouth dried. The sooner he got this over with, he reasoned, the sooner he could get back to studying.

Bakugou hooked his thumbs in his sweats, bringing them down past his ass and around his thighs. The fabric of his boxers was stained dark where precum had already soaked, making a mess before he'd even had the chance to touch himself. What the fuck. He sat back on his heels and spread his knees, pushing his palm into his straining erection as a raspy gasp tore from his throat. A sizzling heat settled under his skin, the hairs on the back of his neck standing. He shivered against his own hand, dick pulsing against his palm, hot and yearning and needy for attention.

Pathetic.

He bit back a growl, plunging his hand into his boxers and gripping the base of his cock in a brutal, merciless hold that had him wincing, twin shocks of pain and pleasure rocketing up his spine. If he was going to do this, it was going to be on his own god damn terms. He squeezed his hand, pulling it up and over his dick in a slow, punishing stroke. He thumbed over the slicked- up slit as sparks flew under his skin, behind his eyes. Curling over himself, Bakugou tipped forward until his damp forehead met his pillow, one hand fisted in his sheets as the other worked over his cock with increasing ferocity. He fucked ruthlessly into his hand, rough calluses catching on hyper sensitive, angry red flushed skin and pulling tight groans from his stuttering lungs. His ears reverberated with the sounds of his ragged breathing and the wet suctioning of his strokes. Nose, mashed gracelessly into his pillow, sucked in his own acrid scent of salty, aggressive desperation.

Blood rushed through his skull, his ears, under his skin and hardening the thick cock in his hand close to painful. The muscles in his thighs jumped in tune with his mindless thrusts, belly tightening taut and quivering, close to snapping. Precum ran thick and sticky between his fingers as he raced his fist over his dick to finish lest he peel out of his own damn skin. He knew he was close, blessed friction burning a heat through his veins so hot it felt cold---

Katsuki.’

That voice - that yielding, even voice that had disemboweled him at the most intimate level singed at the edges of his wavering consciousness. A voice that had no right whispering between his ears in the heat of his depravity, conjuring up images of soft, thin lips; drinking in humid, wet gasps brushing against the shell of his ear. Of a red and white mess splayed like a halo on his pillow, framing a face of striking beauty staring dark and heavy- lidded and fluttering, one eye a stormy grey and the other a piercing turquoise. And of a thick, lithe body, flushed pretty and pink and pliable under him, arching into his hands pressing bruises into hips as he imagined himself fucking into a heat so tight and searing it was inhuman, unreal.

Katsuki.’

---his hand stuttered over his cock, locking his wrist with a feral noise as he came apart at the seams, core seizing up as his orgasm hit him like a freight train and ripped out of him with such ferocity he thought he was going to pass the fuck out - vision whiting, gaping at nothing, seeing nothing. Muscles chased waves of spasms under his skin, riding out the rest of his release. A stupid amount of cum soaked into his bedding as his hand dropped like a dead weight under him, ass still in the air and cheek smashed into his spitty pillow.

He'd just had the best orgasm of his life, and Todoroki fucking Shouto had wrung it out of him without even being there.

Fuck.” His voice was wrecked.

Instead of sated, the realization struck a new, frightening cord that had Bakugou abruptly pushing himself off his face before his cock had even softened. He kicked the rest of his way out of his pants, clumsily pulling his shirt over his head to wipe his hand on, balling it up and chucking it towards his hamper. Missed it by a mile.

What business did Todoroki have to invade here, now? They'd severed their pack bond months ago, for fuck's sake. Nothing about their bond should have lingered behind, yet that voice, laden thick with wonton desire, had gripped him by the balls and milked him of everything he thought he knew and turned it to ash in his mouth. This wasn't fair. This wasn't fucking fair. Whatever warped deity pulling the strings on Bakugou's hot mess of a life had a sick sense of humor.

Fuck.

He nearly tripped over himself on his way back to his desk, riding high on afterglow and trepidation, legs feeling wobbly and new under him. He ripped open a drawer and rummaged through the back, school supplies flying haphazardly, until he found what he was looking for. He gripped a smooth medicine bottle, dated from when he’d first presented as an Alpha, still full. With shaking hands, he twisted off the cap and shook out a pill. It sat small and white and so innocuous it was almost laughable. A suppressant. Disaster in the palm of his hand.

But to Bakugou, nothing was more devastating than admitting he felt something for Todoroki Shouto. He was a force of nature - with the changing power of an iceberg carving up continents, reshaping how Bakugou viewed the world around him; and the destructive intensity of a forest fire, laying waste to all that which Bakugou thought he knew of his own self. The indomitable authority with a soft smile, quiet and awkward but absolutely immobile in his resolve, meeting Bakugou punch for punch (literally and figuratively). Todoroki never failed to engage him in a way that snatched all of his attention, consuming his focus time and time again until he had somehow, sometime without his knowing, become a permanent fixture in his mind. Then, in his heart.

Double fuck.

Bakugou stared despondently between the book on his desk and the mess on his bed before settling on the suppressant in his palm. His hand shook. Todoroki had been the one to abandon their pack bond, Todoroki had been the one to go about his merry fucking life like nothing had happened while he suffered at the mercy of his rut smoking between his ears and whatever the hell his heart was trying to tell him about that peppermint bastard. Fuck that noise, Bakugou was made of tougher stuff than that.

Or maybe all this proved was that he really wasn't. But he'd drive himself into the dirt before admitting jackshit to Todoroki Shouto.

With one last withering look at his palm, he tossed the pill at the back of his throat and swallowed it dry.

Chapter Text

Inhale, exhale, inhale.

Humid breath fanned out sticky and shallow over the swollen gland of Todoroki's neck, pointed canines grazing his pulse. Warm, chapped lips trailed wet, open- mouthed kisses down the column of his throat. Inhale, exhale, inhale--- his breath hitched on the scent of wood smoke and spiced soap and salt singing the edges of his wavering coherence, rendering all thought to ash in his mouth. He arched into the calloused, scarred hand working his cock to aching, choking back a broken sob.

Overwhelmed and high on it, a shudder escaped him as Bakugou's sweat- slick weight pressed him down into the futon. A mouth laved searing over the curve of neck and shoulder, sucking blossoms of purples and blues into pale skin. He ran the flat of his tongue over his thrumming pulse point, savoring and claiming and oh god Todoroki didn't even know he'd wanted to be claimed until now - by that forest fire stare, white hot like brands; by fingers and by mouth pressing tender bruises into his flesh, marking him as if he were a birthright; and by that rough all- consuming Alpha scent soaking into the marrow of his bones and swallowing him up entirely.

“Katsuki…” His voice felt foreign and far away in his mouth, strangled around a name that had always just been on the cusp of spilling from his lips. Now it overflowed between them, over and over until the syllables ran raw. “Katsuki, Katsuki, Ka---”

He was worked open quick and sloppy, unfurling close to the edge. Todoroki's vision blurred. Thick fingers rubbed at his walls, hitting so perfect it drove his hips straight off the futon with a wet gasp. Fireside eyes caught his own in one last beautiful warning before Bakugou sank into him, finally, finally taking that cock in a full, long stroke that fucked the breath right out of him. Sparks flew under his skin, behind his eyes, in his belly.

Bakugou rocked into him then, dragging Todoroki back into himself with a sloppy slap of skin on skin, filling him impossibly whole, burning from the inside out. The blood in Todoroki's veins ran like gasoline, igniting as hips met hips in a brutal rhythm. His mouth fell open in a soundless cry, fingers dragging ragged, red lines down bare, broad shoulders.

A husky, unrefined voice panted hotly at his ear, the rumble of it reverberating bone deep and washing a sizzling fire between his thighs, scorching damp up his spine.

“You gunna come for me, pretty boy?”

With a sharp thrust of hips Todoroki absolutely lost it, body going up in flame as the world dropped out from beneath him.

His eyes snapped open, jaw hung loose and stupid and gasping quick, shallow breaths, lungs stuttering. He winced at the warm, tacky gross feeling in his pajama bottoms, a flood of debauched shame washing over him like a sudden deluge. Squinting up at his ceiling in the early morning glow of his lonely room, he lay motionless as the thundering of his pulse subsided, bringing him down from whatever demented, sin- soaked plane of existence his dreams (nightmares?) kept thrusting him into night after night recently.

The faint scent of burning cotton crept through the outskirts of his hazed, sleep- addled brains, realization hitting him half a second later than the trigger of the sprinkler system.

“Oh sh---" He kicked out of his blankets to the tune of a chorus of shrieks from rooms beside and below, twisting and using his right hand to smother the flames eating up the left edge of his futon in a sheet of ice.

Disjointed, scattered sounds of doors swinging open and raised, wild voices filtered up through the floorboards, almost lost to the hiss of the sprinkler spigots saturating every dry surface to dripping.

The door to the room under him slammed open so violently he could actually hear the doorknob bounce off the wall. The noise rung out like a gunshot in the cold morning.

ALRIGHT, WHICH ONE OF YOU ASSHOLES WANTS TO DIE?”

Todoroki's heartbeat actually skipped.

“Bakugouuuu,” Ashido's voice was slurred with sleep. “What'd you do this time?”

HAAH?! Fuck you, raccoon eyes, I didn't do shit!”

“Did you leave your desk heater on again?” Kirishima said, clearly stifling a yawn.

“I told you, I didn't do it! Fuck off!”

Todoroki almost missed the faint knock at his door through the yelling that ensued, his pulse jack rabbitting between his tonsils.

“Uh, Todoroki?” Sero asked, mild. “You good, man?”

Todoroki dragged his hand through his wet hair, damp clothes heavy and cold against his skin. He stared despondently at the charred edge of his futon.

No. Todoroki has never been less good in his entire life.

“...yes.” He answered instead.

A shivering dawn broke the horizon outside his window, reflecting in quivering shimmers across his soaked room just in time for his phone alarm sound. He dismissed the noise with a swipe, scrubbing his hands over his face. Someone must have found the sprinkler system's shut off valve, because the spray finally tapered off.

Nothing says pathetic quite like a cold shower anyway. Scratch that - he’d whipped by pathetic and bee- lined it straight into the void of disgustingly desperate with a wet dream so charged and vivid he’d lost control of his quirk.

Todoroki groaned and fell back against his soggy pillow, bringing his arm to rest over his eyes.

This is bad. So very, very bad.

- - - -

Winter settled over Musutafu, blanketing UA’s campus in a heavy quilt of white. The grey- blue sky stretched over the trail of students trudging through the snow in a messy formation, the cold air cutting remnants of conversation and rendering them into chilled, incoherent murmurs. Frigid wind bit any exposed skin pink and raw, carrying with it a particular scent from the front of the queue of students that blended with the barbed, icy ozone - it smelled of wood smoke, soap spice and the heady, tepid pull of an annoyingly familiar Alpha rut.

At the back of the line, Todoroki Shouto’s mouth watered entirely without his permission. He wrinkled his nose and frowned.

“He’s doing it on purpose.”

“Hmm?” Midoriya hummed absently, trying and failing to pull on his ridiculous elbow- length gloves while they made their way across campus towards the training grounds.

“Bakugou.” Todoroki hooked his thumbs in the straps at the shoulders of his hero uniform. Grey slush lapped at their boots.

“Kwachun?” Midoriya was using his teeth now, and Todoroki silently wondered why he didn't just ask Hatsume to make him bigger gloves. Midoriya grew out of his pipsqueak physique sometime towards the beginning of their third year, filling out broad and tall and solid with muscle. He looked every part a hero. Save for when he was practically tripping over himself trying to walk and wrestle with his costume at the same time.

Todoroki had gone through his own transformation, soft lines of boyhood melting into cut angles, torso a thick column of chiseled muscle and limbs long and firm. He had to cant his chin down to look most of his classmates in the eye, much to their dismay. “Yes, Bakugou.”

“Wha aboot eem---" Watching Midoriya struggle had finally lost its entertainment value, so Todoroki decided to intervene lest his friend chip a tooth - he pinched the cuff of Midoriya's glove and yanked it up his arm with enough force that they both had to take a step back to keep from turfing it like fools. “Thanks!” Midoriya beamed. His smile still exuded a bright childishness despite years and bloodshed gone by. Todoroki was thankful for that, though, and hoped he never grew out of his supernatural ability to make everything feel okay. Midoriya wiggled his fingers, fisting them until he was satisfied with the stretch of fabric over them. “Doing what on purpose?” He finally asked, tilting bodily to the side and squinting towards the front of the line, where Bakugou was eating up the snowy trail ahead of everyone else.

“Smelling. Like that.” Todoroki side- eyed Midoriya, watching as he sniffed the air and made a contemplative face. Omegas had very good noses, and were especially susceptible to the scent of an Alpha’s rut.

“Like… what?” Midoriya fished a few something- covered raisins (yogurt, he guessed) from a pocket on his belt that Todoroki was pretty sure was meant for life- saving purposes. He popped a few into his mouth and held out the rest in offering, which Todoroki declined. “It's kinda hard to smell him since he started taking supressants. You sure it's him?” Midoriya hooked a finger in the front of his uniform and ducked his chin, giving himself a sniff as if to prove a point. After a beat he made a face and shrugged.

Todoroki chewed on a grimace at the reminder.

Bakugou hadn't hid the fact that he started taking suppressants - he never hid anything - and Todoroki supposed it'd be impossible to hide anyway. A couple days ago he had found himself the target of a sunken, red- rimmed gaze with pupils blown so wide the burning color was nearly completely swamped by black. At the opposite end of the class, in the crowded hallways, on the other side of the cafeteria Todoroki felt eyes on him like sizzling brands. The attention swept humid up his back. Not that he's never had a stare- down with Bakugou before. But it was weighty and intense and nothing like their usual unspoken glaring contests.

On the occasions he felt Bakugou's unnerving stare leave him, he would catch the pale color of Bakugou's lips as he chewed on them, chapped and split, ripping off painful looking tears of skin. His whole body looked taut, stretched thin and close to snapping. Bakugou's voice slurred as he spoke, words colliding together like his teeth were in the way of his tongue, sticking fat and swollen to the roof of his mouth.

His scent rolled off him with a quiet sort of intensity the likes of which Todoroki had never experienced. Like lava bubbling and churning beneath loose earth, simmering just below the surface of his skin. The scent hung heavy in the air, lingering well after Bakugou had left a space, curling hot and heavy in Todoroki's chest.

The whispers among his peers had never really stopped, simply waning in traction. He never bothered with that anyway.

“I'm sure.” There hasn't been much he’s been more sure of than this.

“Huh.” Midoriya scratched his chin. “His rut must be super bad if even you can smell him then.” He mused. “Y’know, I told him ‘Kacchan, that's not a good idea. Remember the first time you took one?’ but all he said was ‘Fuck off, Deku, you moldy gerbil’ and honestly that visual’s all I've thought about for---"

Midoriya.”

“R- Right!” Midoriya’s popped a few more raisins in his mouth and grinned around them. “Vhat’s an Owpha shmel wike oo a Betwa, aneeways?” With his cheeks stuffed, Bakugou's gerbil observation was uncanny.

Todoroki frowned at the trail ahead of him. “It smells like I want to---" Midoriya's brows climbed, and he had to swallow around a mouthful of saliva as a gust of wind, laden with Bakugou's heady scent, pooled warm and languid in his gut. “Like I want him to---" Midoriya's brows disappeared somewhere in the vicinity of his hairline, cheeks chipmunked (gerbiled?) with raisins. “Fuck me.” He finished with a defeated sigh. If there was one person he could trust not to judge him, it was Midoriya.

All things considered, Todoroki supposed he could have timed that last part better, seeing as Midoriya was full on choking on his raisins now. Whoops. A few good whacks to his friend’s back spared him the embarrassment of death by snack food, shuddered wheezes faded into little gasps.

“U- Uhm?! Excuse me?” Midoriya sputtered, eyes saucers and face flushed red. He floundered like a guppy with the water ripped from his gills, wringing his hands and looking everywhere but directly at him.

Todoroki dealt the other's astonishment a stagnant expression.

“Midoriya?”

“S- Sorry! I just… wasn't prepared for… that.” His friend was rubbing at the back of his unruly head, giving Todoroki a wobbly smile.

Ah. Well, he supposed they had that in common. Todoroki wasn't exactly prepared for that particular urge either, no matter how many times it slammed into him unexpectedly. Thinking about Bakugou in that way did funny things to his head. And funnier things to his crotch that actually really weren't funny at all. Truly.

Really.

Todoroki chewed the inside of his cheek.

“But, uhm!” Midoriya bounced a fist in the palm of his hand, powering on and sparing Todoroki from coming up with a response, bless him. “I remember you telling me that mixing scents with Kacchan made you--- made you feel---" Horny? Thirsty? Turned all the way on? Like he wanted nothing more than to sink to his knees and--- “like you were on a rut too.”

Good save, Todoroki's mind supplied. He didn't want to finish that thought anyway. Early on in his and Bakugou's arrangement, he’d regaled Midoriya on his findings and discoveries with no small amount of stony- faced embarrassment on the roles of Betas in a pack bond as he'd experienced them first hand - from the absorption of their rut and the mindless drive to mate that came along with sponging up something so inherently sexual in nature, to a quiet but insistent yearning just to be near Bakugou during his rut (which he vehemently ignored). Midoriya had taken Todoroki's observations in stride (and wrote it all in a notebook like the nerd he'd always be).

But if he had to relive trying to explain what scent mixing with a volatile Alpha did to him a second time, he might never recover. It was certainly not a highlight of his life. Especially since his subconscious was having a field day with his imagination while he slept. He'd avoided making eye contact with Bakugou since he'd broke off their pack bond and skirted over any and all interactions as much as he could, unable to hold himself properly in the same vicinity when the Bakugou haunting his dreams kept whispering hot and filthy between his ears.

“Yes, but,” Todoroki rolled a few knots from his shoulders, peeking up as the entrance to the training ground came into view. “He’s nowhere near me now. It was only like that when we were scent mixing. As soon as we stopped, so did the feeling.”

“Maybe it takes awhile to leave your system?” Midoriya asked. “Like you're going through withdrawal or something?”

Todoroki frowned lightly as they stepped into the training area.

“I guess…”

“Super weird, though.” He couldn't quite place the look on Midoriya's face right then, nose twitching as he looked him up and down, clearly sniffing out something his Beta senses had no concept of.

Todoroki only grunted as the speaker system crackled to life overhead.

Present Mic’s voice boomed across the entire expanse of looming dummy buildings, yammering about keeping destruction to a minimum which was already going promptly ignored as an explosion went off some ways ahead of them in the staged shopping district. Their class had been given free reign of the school's urban- appearing training grounds to develop their quirks and team building with limited supervision on alternating days with 3-B. They took to a voting system of scenarios to better structure the days they had the training ground to themselves. The morning’s vote had yielded a basic exercise in which they'd be split into heroes and villains - and whichever team had captured or incapacitated the other by the largest margin by the end of the period wins. Straightforward, simple.

Todoroki had been relegated to the villain side, and Midoriya to the hero side.

A lapse in conversation stretched between them. Midoriya had a gloved hand to his mouth, consumed in his own muttering and unphased by the noise up ahead (or deaf - Todoroki couldn't be sure what sort of damage a childhood with Bakugou might've wrought on one's hearing). He was pouring over a map of the urban training area he’d apparently kept adjacent to the raisins in his belt.

He inwardly winced as a faint musk carried on a gust of cold had his stomach clenching up. Todoroki was borderline convinced he was going mad - Betas were just not made to be able to smell these sorts of things, especially at this distance. During his and Bakugou's pack bond, sure - he’d learned even Betas had heightened senses within a bond, although only for their partner or pack mates. At the time, he could even smell Bakugou's rut prior to it actually hitting him. But why he still could smell it, feel it, after months and despite their severed bond was a mystery.

Midoriya finally peeked back up, and must have found him dissociating because it took a solid three seconds to notice his friend was waving a hand in front of his face. He simply laughed, clearly used to it as he stuffed his map back into his pocket. “So I take it you haven't figured it out yet?”

Todoroki blinked out of the thoughtless lull he’d slid into during their pause in conversation, eyes fixed but not really seeing somewhere over Midoriya's head. He knit a brow. Huh? He looked at his left hand, clenched his fist, then stared at Midoriya with lips faintly drawn down.

“Yes, I have… … first year. At the Sports Festival. You were there…”

“N- No, Todoroki, ffffff---" Midoriya launched into a fit of laughter. He was clutching his stomach, the corners of his eyes watering as he sucked in gasps of air between giggled outbursts. “N- Not your left side, oh my god I'm gunna give myself a hernia---” He was biting his lip white with the effort to contain himself, whole body wracking.

“... I see.” He didn't see. At all.

“I mean,” Midoriya straightened with a wobbly smile, wiping his wrist under his running nose, body still vibrating in place, “how you feel about Kacchan, now that you've broken off your pack bond.”

Oh. “Oh.”

The answer was nearing ludicrous levels of frustrating. Todoroki had played the part of blissfully unaffected so well he half believed himself - that is, until a few days ago when Bakugou's latest rut hit him like a bullet train, derailing his composure and leaving whatever fragile indifference he'd strung together a carnal wreckage of indistinguishable emotions. It was easy to chalk his vivid wet dreams up to rampant teenage hormones, but the other visuals his imagination conjured were not so easily pegged down. Scenes less filthy and more on the side of disgustingly domestic.

The only thing he was sure of was that he'd severed more than just their pack bond that night on the balcony. In his desperate need to validate his own confused feelings he’d undoubtedly invalidated Bakugou's and ruined whatever chance they could've had at being anything more.

Anything more? Stupid. They weren't even friends. They weren't rivals either, though. Hadn't been in a long time. Actually, Todoroki wasn't sure when he stopped thinking of Bakugou as a rival and started thinking of what his hair would feel like between his fingers.

He blinked.

Yikes.

There was a tender grip on his forearm suddenly, Midoriya's.

“Todoroki?”

“Uhm.” Articulate. He exhaled, the tail end of it quivering from his lungs. “I think I---”

A sound went off overhead, signaling a ten minute warning before the start of the exercise.

Hey.” The hand on his arm squeezed reassuringly. “We'll talk later, ‘kay?” Midoriya grinned and bit on the pink tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth. “Preferably after I beat you, villain!” The diversion in conversation gave him whiplash, before he had the chance to properly reply, Midoriya was gone - One For All crackling and snapping over him as he lofted cars and buildings, asphalt busted in his wake. Todoroki stood frozen, limbs heavy as he watched the green speck of Midoriya disappear to another corner of the training grounds.

He must have stood there for awhile, as the starting gong sounded and he was still in the same spot, struck dumb by his own thought derailment. An explosion of noise jolted Todoroki to move, villains already coming to blows with heroes. It was too garbled to really distinguish between voices, destruction and quirks activating. Damn. Preferring to fight at a distance, he devised to create as much of it as possible. He ran on foot, as using his ice to propel him would be like a neon sign pointing directly to him for team heroes. Instead, he concentrated his cold under his feet which allowed him to freeze the snow in front of him hard enough that the impact of his boots didn't leave any footprints, covering up his trail before he’d even made it.

He ran until the chaos near the entrance simply echoed between the still structures, the snow an untouched blanket beneath him. The quiet was a frigid mix of comforting and unnerving.

An hour passed before any semblance of life aside his own appeared, the murmuring of voices drawing nearer.

Heroes or villains?

He couldn't be sure, so as the voices crept up through the narrow street, Todoroki quickly pressed his back against the cool brick of an alleyway as flat as he could make himself. Wood pallets leaned against the wall in front of him, giving him a decent view while keeping him out of one. He melted into the dark shadows cutting across the narrow space just as the voices neared. He recognized them immediately. One of which sent his heart back up into his throat.

“---fucking following me for?!”

“‘Cause I'm an irreplaceable friend concerned for your well being.” Kaminari prattled off, clearly fighting a laugh. “And you look awful, man. Seriously bad.” He observed, ballsy smile evident in his voice.

“Thanks, Channel fucking 7. What's next, sports? The weather? Fuck outta here with that shit. I'm the god damn physical embodiment of health and wellness.” Bakugou’s voice was hoarse and scratchy - it sounded like the physical embodiment of health and wellness needed to be checked into the geriatric ward. Todoroki felt parched just forced to listen to it.

“Right, yeah, okay.” Kaminari hummed. “Except you look like you're channeling a dehydrated soybean.”

“The fuck--- you done?! You fucking done? Why you gotta lodge yourself up my ass every training exercise like a fucking leech?!"

“Okay okay, dial back the Alpha thing, huh? It's making me itchy.”

HAAH? Who’s making you itchy you little---"

“So what villains are left, anyway?” Kaminari cut in without skipping a beat. Todoroki had nothing but respect for someone who went clear out of his way to antagonize Big Bad Alpha Bakugou on a daily basis. This sparky Omega had no fear.

He could hear Bakugou crack his knuckles as he mulled his thoughts over.

“George of the Jungle. He'll be by the park.” Bakugou's gauntlets clinked as he adjusted them. “Avril Lavigne. She'll either be inside a building or an enclosed space where the acoustics will reverberate. Sound travels slower in cold air so she'll need to be somewhere the wind is blocked.”

“Wow, okay. You sure are smart!”

“Fuck if I ain't.” Todoroki rolled his eyes. “And there's also---" A strong gust of wind swept past Todoroki just then, howling through the alleyway before spilling out into the open. The crunch of boots approaching on snow stopped abruptly, the air cutting with a marked inhale. Bakugou's pause hung heavy. Todoroki's pulse sped up, hair at the back of neck threatened to a quiver, skin scattered in gooseflesh. His anxiety climbed despite himself. “Half n' Half.”

Shit, did he just sniff out a Beta?!

Betas didn't have much of a scent about them to begin with even to the doubly enhanced senses of an Alpha in rut. But it wasn't outside the realm of possibilities. Maybe Bakugou was going through pack bond withdrawal, too, as Midoriya put it. Besides, if he could smell Bakugou despite having the lukewarm- at- best senses of a Beta, then it only made sense that Bakugou could smell him as well.

Kaminari made a high, strangled whine.

“Uh, yeah. Let's not and say we did. The dude's in his element out here.”

Another sharp inhale followed.

“Thought so! Let's fucking do this!”

Huh?! Do what---”

The unmistakable sound of sparks igniting in the palms of Bakugou's hands had Todoroki pushing off the wall a moment too late - the pallets he’d been hiding behind splintered as they erupted in his face, the force of the explosion sending him flying towards the back of the alley. The wind whistled through his ears as he sent up a glacier of ice on instinct behind him to catch himself and keep his head from cracking against the brick wall. But ice wasn't much softer, the impact screaming through his skull and striking jagged pain and nausea down his spine. His vision swam, squeezing sight back into his eyes as his ears rung from the explosion. A flame licked to life along the left side of his face, growing to a glowing surge of fire twisting itself around his outstretched arm, rendering the pallet shrapnel to char in an instant. Ash mixed with the snow kicked up in flurries, now sloppy and grey and black at their feet. Chest heaving, Todoroki solidified his stance as he wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. It came away smeared red. Must have bit his tongue.

The smoke cleared, and his heart sped up. Bakugou looked like death warmed over, but was still devastatingly handsome - Todoroki could only blame the space he'd forced between them these past few months, the lack of eye contact, the lack of coherent thought apparently get it together this is a training exercise---

“Bakugou.” Smooth.

“Fuckface.” Came Bakugou's response. Not unexpected, and vaguely endearing.

A shock of yellow sparking in his periphery jogged his sensibilities back up into his head from where they'd camped out behind his ribcage, and he remembered they were not alone.

“Uh, guys... whoa, wai---!”

With formalities out of the way, he wasted no time throwing out a mountain of ice - it roared down the cramped alley, eating up brick and concrete alike and encasing poor Kaminari up to the chin in shivering crystalline blue. His exhale came out a cool puff of white, frost clinging to the side of his face.

Bakugou had used an explosion to dodge, because of course he did. He skidded to a stop, hunching to a threatening posture with his fists popping sparks at his sides.

"Oi oi oi!” He barked at Kaminari, stomping through the slush to grip at the edges of the ice prison. “The fuck you doin’ getting captured already, huh?! What kinda dunceface falls for that move?”

Snaps and crackles of lightning twisted inside the block of ice, growing in intensity as Kaminari struggled. “B- Bakugou, go! I can g- get out on my own!” His teeth chattered together.

No you fucking can't, you---"

"One hundred twelve million volts!"

"You stupid motherfu---!"

Todoroki squinted through the burst of light, using the opportunity to get out from where he'd inadvertently cornered himself. Rookie move. A surge of ice lifted him from the ground, stopping just short of the roof of the building nearest, hupping onto the ledge just to peer over the side.

Kaminari had freed himself from his ice prison, but had struck himself dumb with his own quirk, as the ice he'd been encased in condensed his electricity around him instead of dispersing. Grade school science, really. With Kaminari now a drooling mess in the middle of the street, Todoroki watched placidly from his perch as Bakugou snagged the collar of his fellow hero's uniform and dragged him none too gently off to the side, hissing curses the whole way.

Whether the adrenaline or something else entirely, a light smile tugged at the edges of his lips.

"The fuck you smiling for, huh?! I'm going to crush you!" Bakugou tilted his face up towards the building Todoroki was watching him from, palms spitting tiny explosions.

Todoroki hummed, looking at his watchless wrist as if checking the time. “If I were a real villain, I'd be half way to the other side of the planet by now.”

Bakugou wheezed a strangled laugh, his insides just as dehydrated as his outsides, it sounded like. “If you were a real villain, I'd have your ass smeared across campus by now, pretty boy.”

Todoroki's heart flipped, and he felt his cheeks heat up. Somehow that nickname felt different than it did before this morning.

The atmosphere shifted - palpable, ossified and suffocating in its intensity. Todoroki couldn't help getting sucked into the strange energy that bubbled between them.

“Hm.” Todoroki eased himself into an loose crouch on the edge of the roof. “So what now, hero?” As the bridge of Bakugou's nose colored pink, he was only comforted by the realization that Bakugou must have felt it too. Whatever it was.

Todoroki's eyes lowered, following the bobbing motion of Bakugou's throat as he swallowed thickly. He watched as his nostrils flared, which might have spelled agitation if Todoroki didn't know better by now - Bakugou could smell him. He wondered if he smelled half as mouth- wateringly enticing to Bakugou as this Alpha smelled to him.

A full- body shudder escaped him despite the brief still of the wind.

Bakugou’s nose twitched.

The tension broke with the stretch of a feral grin across Bakugou's face. His scent rose up acrid and bitter.

“Now,” Bakugou ran his tongue over his chapped lips. “Now you fucking fight me. No holding back like first year! Got that, half ‘n half?! Gimme all you got or I swear I'll kill---"

He wouldn't. He wanted this just as much as he owed it to Bakugou.

“Okay.”

A fire lit in the black depths of Bakugou's eyes. “Fuck, let's go!”

And that was all it took.

He didn't know who landed the first punch, nor how long they'd been fighting, muscles screaming with exertion. The area resembled a post- apocalyptic wasteland in the aftermath of their battle - what wasn't frozen solid was on fire or busted beyond recognition. A layer of soot hung heavy and stifling in the air, street a mess of dark, dirty slush. Sometime between getting slammed into the side of a dummy vehicle and sending Bakugou through a window with a blast of fire, Todoroki had found himself back at street level. Their fight was brutal and satisfying that way - nothing like the first time.

As they bordered their limitations, it became increasingly obvious who had the advantage in close combat. Bakugou chased every opening Todoroki left, as vicious as it was keenly precise. Gritting his teeth, Todoroki sent another torrent of ice crashing across the street, frostbite climbing over his grubby uniform and stinging his skin.

Bakugou blew apart the ice that surged up in front of him like it was made up of something fragile, gripping the smoking remnants with a savage grin that cracked painfully dry at the edges.

"That all you got?!"

“You always talk this much when you're fighting?”

“Better than kicking the crap out of a fuckin’ mime. You're boring the piss outta me here."

Todoroki scoffed as he hopped away a step and tightened his stance. Bakugou’s grin sharpened.

Todoroki didn't have time to dwell on what that expression was doing to his blood pressure as Bakugou erupted through the remaining ice, frozen shards sent flying. They whizzed past his ears, already near deafened by the explosions dismantling his ice and adrenaline pounding through his veins. Needing to create distance, he sent up a moving snake of ice, cleats of his boots digging in as he glided along it, up and over the buildings lining the street.

But Bakugou was fast. So fast. And was agile in a way someone as ridiculously brash as he would never appear to be.

Using his explosions to propel himself in the air, Bakugou lofted himself onto Todoroki's icy path and blew it to bits from beneath him with a cracking boom. With nothing but air under him, his stomach lurched up into his throat. Bakugou rocketed past him, twisting midair to snap his trajectory in a move both impressive and frightening. A savage grin cut across his face, white teeth smeared red from a deep fissure in his chapped lips.

"Come at me with all you got!"

Todoroki's eyes widened as a glowing palm slung out in front of his face. He barely had time to snap his arm in front of him to create a shield of ice as an explosion erupted, ringing through his skull and sending him plummeting like a stone.

The pavement shot up to meet him with a sick thud, breath ripped from his lungs in a wet gasp. Ribs broke on impact, blood gurgling up his throat and spilling hot and viscous from his lips, mixing with the ashy slush under him. Black spots flew through vision. He only half registered the crackling splinter echoing between is ears as his own cheekbone shattering up into his face where it met the cold ground. There was an audible pop as his arm was viciously twisted behind his back in a vice grip, dislocating from the socket. A sharp knee pressed into the small of his back, keeping him pinned against the gross pavement.

His pulse sped up as Bakugou leaned over, breath quick and shallow against the shell of his ear. A shiver that had nothing to do with the dirty snow soaking his uniform skated through him as Bakugou shifted his hold, draping his body over him completely. Bakugou's hips radiated heat where they were pressed fully against his ass - a hot, needy coil settling in his belly that had no right being there when his hair was being yanked into a smoking fist and his nose smashed into asphalt.

“You're just as fucking pathetic a villain as you are a hero.” Bakugou's voice cracked, and Todoroki could hear him audibly strangle back a dry wheeze.

Todoroki turned his head through the gravel, turquoise gaze narrowed on the panting blonde above him. He schooled his expression as impassive as he could make it while his heartbeat slammed painfully through his face, his mangled ribcage, the back of his head that still stung from earlier. Bakugou's chest rose and fell in shuddering, deep movements. There was a quiver to him that Todoroki could feel where their bodies met. He was headbutting his limit just as Todoroki was. This close, he could see every disgusting crack of Bakugou's lips, the deep recesses of his cheeks, the bruising swells under his eyes, the pupils swamping the fire of his eyes to black. There was a deep gash across the bridge of his nose, blood running in a slow, coagulated stream from his nostrils from a punch Todoroki had landed earlier, dripping in scorching splats onto the back of his cold neck as Bakugou hovered. Dirt and gravel clung to the cuts on his face. Parts of his uniform were singed away where his flame got too close, exposing Bakugou to the frigid cold.

Suddenly very distracted by bits of wind- rawed skin, he dragged his eyes over Bakugou's hunched form, the black painted on sleeves of his winter uniform doing absolutely nothing to hide the muscled bulges of his arms. His solid, built shoulders heaved with exasperation above him, breath freezing as it met the cold air in white plumes. Between where is chin was hidden in the high collar of his uniform and the bottom of his red- rimmed eyes, Todoroki found himself hyper focused on the skin there - ghostly pale with a sickly yellow undertone, chapped and dusty. There was not a single track of sweat to be seen, skin dried into flaking lines like the drought of a river bottom.

Bakugou wasn't sweating.

Curious.

"... ---alf an' half. Todoroki! Hey asshole, you fuckin' black out on me or what? Pay the fuck attention!"

"Kind of hard not to." Todoroki huffed, spitting a mouthful of blood. His ribs shrieked in pain with the weight of another person and his heavy hero gear crushing him into the street. Those gauntlets were no joke. How Bakugou could swing those things around without pulling his own arms from their sockets was baffling. His own dislocated left arm pulsed in a painful throb where Bakugou had it twisted against his back. "You're very loud."

"Fuck you!" Bakugou spit. Todoroki winced as he tightened his grip on his hair and pressed his face into the ground, pointed canines peeking over his split lips with a snarl. There was a faint sloshing noise he couldn't place as Bakugou moved. "Gotta smartass mouth for someone who just fucking lost."

"I don't remember doing that." Todoroki squeezed his eyes closed for a moment, allowing them to fall back open on the dirty slush beside him.

Think.

He can't go down this easily.

"HAAH?" Bakugo's deep growl fanned sweltering and prickly at the back of Todoroki's ear, striking a fizzle of electricity down his spine as the Beta in him reacted with a twitch, the hairs on the back of his neck standing in tandem with his heartbeat jumping. "Doing what?"

Think, think!

"Losing." His voice might have eked out breathless against his will - definitely from his aching lungs and not the warm hips pressed perfectly against his ass. Definitely.

He squinted, trying to regain his own clarity amidst the pain.

An ugly yellow color floated on the surface of the slush in front of him, swirling like gasoline in a parking lot puddle.

Huh...?

Brow knotted, he blinked a few times to clear his vision. Still there. Briefly, his eyes fell on Bakugou's utility belt digging into the small of his back. One of the grenades he had there was split open where it had collided with his own utility belt on impact, the contents emptied onto the street. The faint, sweet smell of nitroglycerin married with dirty snow carried on the nipping wind.

Ah.

Todoroki could hear the scowl in Bakugou's voice. "Funny, because I have you eating fucking asphalt at the moment."

"Is that what I'm doing?" Todoroki ran his tongue over his bloodied teeth, eyes darkening as a thin layer of ice clung to his right side and crawled up where Bakugou's body met his. "I thought I was distracting you."

"Yeah? From fucking what, your little ice trick ain't gunna do sh---"

"This!"

Todoroki's left side erupted into a raging inferno, catching on the layer of nitroglycerin floating in the street beside them and igniting with a quaking boom. Windows of the surrounding buildings shattered, foundations and fixtures quivering with the force of the explosion ripping them apart. Blinding light, searing pain and splitting ringing between his ears.

He somehow landed on his feet with a skid and ice licking at his heels, vision swimming and blood gurgling up his throat like a bile and spilled viscid and disgusting down the front of his uniform. Wavering in place, he tried to focus on Bakugou's hazy figure in the distance between the black spots dancing in his periphery and the smoke sizzling off the ground.

A cut of white teeth slicing across a sooty face set off alarms in the back of his pounding skull, registering Bakugou's stance with a jolt of adrenaline.

Now or never.

Dropping to a knee, a circle of ice twisted around him, cutting through the cold air and pulsing up from the street in waves. He ignited his left side to ease the frostbite painting his skin in crackling pale blue as he pushed his quirk into the ground and over his limit.

Footsteps thundered over wet pavement. Explosions detonating and hurling Bakugou into the air, twisting into a death spiral of spitting flame.

"Howlitzer Impact!"

Todoroki's eyes snapped up, fingertips skimming the gravel as he wrenched his arm towards the sky, sending a tsunami of jagged ice erupting through the road, upending the asphalt as it barreled down the street, a monster frozen of chaos.

Thick fingers curled towards his sparking palms, Bakugou raced straight towards the tower of ice splitting the ground with a ferocious grin.

"That all you got?!"

Yes. Indefinitely. He's met his limit. His flames snuffed out with a frigid gust.

Inhale, exhale, inhale--- Todoroki choked on the blood bubbling from his lungs, chest tight, aching, suffocating. His body shook, slunk to the ground. Time slowed to a crawl.

The next instance played out like a disturbing series of snapshots. Fleeting, intense. The sort of images that would brand themselves to the back of his mind forever.

The sparks in Bakugou's palms fizzled out. His pupils shrunk to pinpricks, eyes a blaze of red surrounded by wide, panicked white. The grin melted from his face.

'...like a suppressant would do if it didn't fuck up my quirk.'

It was then a sickening realization washed over Todoroki like a splash of acid to the face. The lack of sweat, the mysterious sloshing noise. This entire time, Bakugou had been using the sweat reserves in his gauntlets in order to activate his quirk.

And it had finally run out.

“BAKUGOU---!”

He struggled to peel himself off the street just as the wall of ice slammed into Bakugou with the force of a bullet train and hurled him into a building, walls giving way in the wake of his body.

Mute horror sapped the color from Todoroki's face.

He had to get up, had to do something - anything. Broken ribs clawed jagged and needlelike at lungs, pain blanketing his sight in black. He couldn't move, veins rushing with the lead of damning exhaustion.

Distantly and through the blood pounding mercilessly in his head, he heard the roar of destruction. Foundations shook loose and split apart. Support beams squealed and buckled, cement disintegrating and windows shattered where they shook apart in their frames. With a bone- jarring crack the building collapsed, swallowing Bakugou whole in a mouth of concrete and metal teeth.

Todoroki couldn't hear through the noise of the building crumbling to rubble, sending up a heavy cloud of choking dust. His voice slipped between the tremor of his lips, over and over until the syllables ran raw. “KATSUKI, KATSUKI, KA---"

Copper flooded over his tongue and washed the name from his mouth.

- - - -


Over the course of only god knows how long, Todoroki awoke in pained fits of starts and stops - first to the blinding lights of an operating room, then the sterile but no less harsh lighting of a recovery ward. At one point, he faintly recalled Midoriya visiting to tell him don't worry, Kacchan is okay. Relief had washed heavy over him, a cracked sob leaving damp tracks up his temples and into his hairline. The alleviation mingled with the physical pain of his broken body, blacking back out shortly after Midoriya delivered the news courtesy of some extremely nice pain medication. It felt like there was tinfoil wrapped cotton where is brains were supposed to be.

Then, finally, he found himself back where it all began - staring listlessly at the dark ceiling of his cold room, alone.

Soft light crept under his door from the hallway, painting his room in large, deep shadows. It was late. The garbled sounds of voices filtered up from the common room, where his classmates were probably cramming together for midterms. He sat up with a tired groan, hand immediately pressing to the swell on his face. His fingertips traced the bruised outline of it from his cheek up to the hollow of his eye socket, brushing the ends of a few stitches climbing through his brow and bunching his skin. He could feel his heartbeat in his heated face, and a burning ache in his chest from ribs still healing. Bandages wrapped tight around his left arm all the way up to his shoulder where his flames had heated beyond his capacity to avoid getting scortched by them. The faint scent of burned flesh mixed disgusting with the sterile kick of whatever disinfectant the hospital had slathered over his wounds. He still had grime under his fingernails.

Chewing back a wince, he pushed himself to his feet and made his way to his balcony, relief washing down his spine in a shiver as a cold gust greeted him. There was a dusting of snow blanketing each surface in soft white, the colored lights of the city beyond the school hazy and blurred together in flickering shimmers. The chill of the winter night crept up through the soles of his bare feet, wind ruffling the thin fabric of his pajama bottoms and worn, threadbare t- shirt, easing out the heated throb coursing through his body. He sighed, breath icy.

His breath caught in his throat as he looked down, a vicious déjà vu punching him straight in the gut. An achingly familiar scent followed, carried up on the cold air and assaulting his already worn and hypersensitive nerves - it was almost intense enough to send him to his knees as he tried not to let the pinching throb in his chest show on his face. Iron crossbred with the ash of a campfire, soap spice coming into contrast with the salt of a heady sweat and something so remarkably distinctive and temperate it pulled at him. He gripped at the banister in front of him lest he fall right over it.

Bakugou was standing on his own balcony, arms spread out lazily on either side of him against the railing, shoulders pressed to the iron rail. He was leaning back, chin tilted up towards the frigid sky with his eyes closed. The light spilling from his room caught on his pale lashes and cast dark shadows over his face. He had a bulky bandage wrapped around his head, hair sticking up at even stranger angles than his normal riot of a style. Some of it lie flat and matted with a crust of old blood and hospital ointment against his skull. Blue and purple bruising swelled across the center of his face, radiating out from his nose, an ugly gash sitting shiny with liquid stitch over the bridge. He had cotton stuffed into both nostrils, lips gently parted as he breathed in and out through his mouth, air freezing in front of him to white plumes. Bakugou's long sleeve shirt was crammed up to his elbows, revealing dark tears along his arms where his quirk had been pushed to the surface of his skin.

The frozen banister squealed in protest between Todoroki's fingers as he tightened his grip, the noise cutting through the gentle night like nails dragging down a chalkboard. Bakugou's eyes snapped open, otherwise eerily still as he glared upwards.

"Todoroki."

Something in him dislocated at the sound of his voice. This was playing out painfully familiar, but Todoroki wasn't about to let it end the same way. Throwing caution to the biting wind, he folded his arms over the banister and leaned forward.

"Hamlet."

"To--- wrong fucking play, dumbass!"

“That so.”

“Yeah, now piss off. I'm busy.” Bakugou huffed, eyes closing again as a cold gust whipped through his ratty shirt and sweats. His boots were untied, tongues lolled out and laces dirty as Bakugou shifted, dragging them through the melting snow. It was strange seeing him subject himself to the cold with only one layer to keep him warm.

Todoroki tilted his face and squinted. “Doing what, exactly?”

“Preventing my gizzards from boiling the fuck over by sheer force of will. So take a hike.”

Todoroki opened his mouth, then closed it. Whatever answer he was expecting, that hadn't been it.

He raked his eyes slowly over Bakugou, catching on the sticky sheen stretching over his flushed skin. Sweat pricked at his temples, following the crease between his brows, collecting in the dips of his collarbones and soaking the front of his shirt. Todoroki followed the thick line of his neck from below the cut of his jaw to his throat - the gland sitting beneath the surface was so swollen he could actually see the outline of it from a floor up. Between that and his broken nose, Todoroki wondered how he could even breathe properly. They must have only been in the hospital just long enough for the last suppressant Bakugou had taken to work its way through his system, leaving him back in the volatile throes of his rut. He looked an absolute disaster of a person.

No, that's not right.

Bakugou was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

Beautiful in a way a forest fire was beautiful - as captivating as he was destructive, a latticework of vivid brilliance and frightening power. A blaze of guts and glory. Bakugou had swept into his heart without warning, engulfing and all consuming, rendering his carefully constructed walls to ash. He was drawn to him like a moth to flame, catching alight long before he'd ever realized he'd been burned. The space between his ribs had been gutted in the house fire of his emotions, fragile interior blackened with charcoal. The foundations upon which he’d built everything he’d thought he knew lay in ruin from the beautiful chaos that was Bakugou Katsuki.

Do you like Kacchan?’

Yes. God, yes. So much. Too much.

He watched as Bakugou struggled to swallow back his own spit.

Guilt took root in Todoroki's belly, the vines of which crawling through the aching spaces between his fractured ribs and clenching tight around his heart.

“Bakugou, I'm sorry---” he cut himself short, sucking in a breath, “If I had known you were that sick---”

Bakugou's eyes popped back open, jaw working on a grind.

Eat shit, half an' half.” Bakugou set off, fire flashing through the depths of his eyes as he pushed himself straight. “You would've what, held back? Not used your flames? I told you before there's no god damn point!” He shoved his fists into the pockets of his sweats and steeled his gaze. “You and your sorry can fuck off.”

Todoroki stared, incredulous. “I almost killed you.”

“Ch'yeah right! Don't flatter yourself, I'm fucking fine.” He gestured loosely to all of himself, looking less fine and more like a natural disaster in human form.

Todoroki huffed a humorless laugh, heart pouring through his mouth before he had the chance to catch it. “Let me help you.”

“Wh--- help?” He rasped, caught off guard, “The fuck's that mean? You plannin’ on spoon- feeding me that tasteless Jell- O crap from the hospital?”

“We can start a pack again.” Todoroki blurted in a rush. He cursed himself immediately, scrambling to recover, “It'll help with...” He nodded towards the bulge in Bakugou's throat. His own gland felt tight, aching. He tried to choke it back.

Bakugou looked momentarily floored, jaw slack and eyes wide. It vanished just as quickly as it came on, snapping out of place with a loud, raucous laugh. “What happened, some Alpha get a little too close and make you go full Beta bitch?” He sneered, slouching back. “I told you not to come crawling back to me if a bunch of Alphas started hounding your ass."

“No…” Todoroki pursed his lips and scrunched his brow. His stitches smarted. Actually, now that he thought about it, Alphas had continued to avoid him just as they had when they were pack bonded. It only made sense, though - if they could smell each other at a distance, they must be exuding some kind of intense scent, he quickly reasoned. He made a mental note to apologize to poor Midoriya later. The sensitive Omega must have been bombarded with whatever smell he was oozing but been too polite to mention it. “That's not it.” He lowered his eyes to his hands, dusted with specks of snowflakes. They melted to tiny pinpricks of water on his left and collected together in cold fuzzies on his right.

HAAH?!” Bakugou straightened, elbows closer to himself across the railing. “Why the fuck else would you wanna to help me, huh? Did the aliens finally return to claim their long lost brethren? You some kinda yappy meat suit? Fuck outta here.”

He'd laugh if he didn't feel like his heart was going to bust all over the inside of his ribcage.

Instead he swallowed the painful throb building in his throat and forced himself to meet Bakugou's eyes. In a gush of pent up, quivering emotion his lips fell open around words his brain had only half begun to process the weight of.

“Because I'm in love with you.”

The tension was instantly palpable. It no longer felt like cutting winter, but the full force of a summer sun scorching down his back and coloring his face a bright, burnt red.

The only comfort was that Bakugou's face was just as flushed, all the way to the tips of his ears. They stuck out particularly red against the pale wheat of his hair. The expressions that flit across his face were almost comical, sputtering and bristling animatedly.

"You--- what? The fuck, what?!”

Todoroki felt like he had to try his own mouth on for size before responding, chewing around the words before deciding screw it, he’s already dug himself this hole - he might as well lie in it. “I said I'm in l---"

“I fucking heard you, dipshit!”

He must have blacked out mid word- puke, because in the next second Bakugou was completely upright, a myriad of unplaceable emotions flicking across his face as he gripped his own railing. His knuckles were white.

Todoroki shifted, taking a frigid breath to ground himself. He released it in a puff of white. The lump in his throat seemed to swell. His voice came out softer than he'd wanted, smaller. “Okay.”

The tension snapped, going up in a roaring flame. Bakugou's expression twisted, eyes wild and mouth split open into a dangerous show of sharp white.

“You--- You don't get to fucking say that!”

“Huh? What do you m---”

Bakugou vaulted himself onto the railing, using it as leverage to then launch himself clear off his own balcony to grip the iron spokes of Todoroki's instead. He hauled himself up and onto the porch as Todoroki braced himself for impact - of fists, flame and fury. This was expected, normal. He'd be lying to himself if he claimed to not prefer it this way. It saved him from having to find a nice, solid surface on which to bounce his skull off later. Stupid. So stupid. What was he thinking, confessing to Bakugou? Clearly nothing. He should have just let his profound realization rot inside him.

The feral growl vibrating from deep inside Bakugou's chest as he threatened the space between them sent a flurry of sparks down his spine, and he had to clench his jaw to keep them from manifesting into a shudder. His aggressive Alpha scent slammed into him, rising up like the billowing smoke of a forest fire.

A faint tickling sensation under the bridge of his nose was all the warning he received before Bakugou's wide, scarred hands cracked on either side of his head against the door to his room, caging him. The scent of the Alpha's peaking rut shot through him like a bullet, ricocheting off his insides and settling to quiver at the bottom of his gut, still warm.

Cross- eyed, Todoroki wrinkled his nose. He should have expected that reaction, honestly.

“The fuck's your problem?! Huh?! You're the one that broke off our pack bond. And now you say you l---” Bakugou choked and made a face like he just inhaled something sour. “That you fucking what?! You what?!” His voice climbed, verging on hysterical as his hands balled into sparking fists beside his ears.

Todoroki's mouth thinned, crossing his arms over his chest. His heart was still slamming against the inside of his ribcage, the density of his confession only building as Bakugou drew this out to unnecessary lengths. Why did every interaction end up this way? “I needed to be sure.” He replied flatly, looking the blonde directly in the eyes.

Bakugou's jaw twitched, obviously unused to a clear play of dominance from a non- Alpha. “Be sure of what? You're one cryptic asshole, you know that?”

“That what I felt for you was real. Not just the Beta in me responding to the Alpha in you.” His breath rushed out of him all at once for the second time in as many minutes, his own honesty leaving him feeling empty and light- headed and a touch nauseated. He felt like he was leaving pieces of himself all over the ground while Bakugou took nothing, gave nothing in return.

“Oh holy sh---” Bakugou's face colored a deep red, which might have been strangely charming if it didn't also look like he were about to have an aneurysm. “You just up and fucked off with no explanation whatsoever!"

Todoroki's chest abruptly felt too small. “You didn't give me any reason to believe I owed you one.”

Bakugou barked a laugh, right in his face. “I kissed you back in the hallway for fuck's sake---”

“Because you thought I kissed you---”

HAAH?!” Bakugou cuts him off, “You think I go around swapping spit with any motherfucker?”

“I wouldn't know.” Todoroki’s brow furrowed. His stomach was in knots. He skimmed through a mental catalogue of every interaction they had since the beginning, trying to trace the trajectory that lead them here, now. He came up frustratingly short.

“You don't know a fuck much of anything, so lemme dumb it down for you.” The heat radiating off of him collected in a sticky pool at Todoroki's nape. “I can’t get your candy cane ass out of my head. I can smell you everywhere I go, even if you aren't in the room. Like some kinda freaky ghost.” He was clenching and unclenching his fists against the door, sparks popping in tiny explosions in his sweaty palms. The dark wood shuddered and creaked under the weight of his hands. “Can't close my eyes without seeing you there.” He hissed, the low timber of his voice striking a sizzling cord straight between Todoroki's thighs. “Couldn't take a damn leak without hearing your voice critiquing my aim for fuck's sake.”

Todoroki could relate. Maybe not that last part (that was weird), but the rest was all too familiar.

“You're an Alpha in rut, none of that means anything.” His face burned, his ears burned, everything burned under the weighted inferno of Bakugou's stare. He’s breathless, or he’s been holding it this entire time, who really knows.

“Oh yeah? You an expert on Alphas now?” Bakugou squares his shoulders, fingers curling against the door. He was so close, too close. When did he get this close? Balmy breath cascaded over his face as Bakugou breathed ragged and shallow through his mouth. “I took suppressants to get you out of my head and it just made it worse, fuck! Explain that, go ahead.” Bakugou’s voice dropped, a rough whisper on the wind. “Rut or no rut, I still want to--- I still want to...” He trailed off, lids heavy as his dark eyes dropped to Todoroki's mouth. He absently ran his tongue over his bottom lip.

Todoroki's breath hitched.

“You're going to have to be more clear.”

For a moment, he wasn't even sure he had said it outside his own head.

The moment incinerated in a searing rush as Bakugou’s chapped mouth crushed against his own; a bruising kiss of teeth and lips and wild abandon, his startled gasp swallowed whole into the wet depths of Bakugou's mouth - it wasn't sweet, or soft or tender or anything he'd ever seen or read about before. It was fierce and filthy and perfect that way.

Bakugou relentlessly dove into kiss after sloppy kiss, chasing his lips at every opening Todoroki left between them to suck in gasps of air. Scarred hands dragged blindly down his chest, down his sides and over his abdomen. The heat radiating off him bled through his shirt, fingers blazing trails across already overheated skin. He gripped him at the waist, hard and steady - anchoring him as if he'd vanish away if he let go. Maybe he would. He never felt closer to combusting into ash as he did now, being thoroughly debauched and devoured by this fiery Alpha.

He matched Bakugou's fervor step for step, pushing thin fingers into soft, ashy blonde and soaking up the lush moan that spilled unfettered from Bakugou between feverish kisses. His chest burned with breathlessness, head dizzy with want and lack of oxygen and drunk on every slide of lips and clash of teeth. Bakugou hissed as his broken nose bumped against his cheek, kissing raw and brutal through the pain undoubtedly throbbing over his face.

It was all really disgusting - both were hot messes with the hot subtracted and messes multiplied tenfold. Bakugou tasted of sweat and copper, spit smearing over their gross, bruised and split and bitten mouths as they drank each other in.

Bakugou slid his tongue between his lips, begging entry to map the corners of Todoroki's mouth. A delirious, dreamy sigh bubbled up his throat as he let his jaw slack, welcoming the plunge. But it caught, strangled and stupid, somewhere near his tonsils as Bakugou's tongue instead licked across his bottom gumline, along his front teeth and over his upper lip.

Abruptly parting just enough that their breath mingled quick and humid in the space between them, Bakugou licked away the spitty tendril keeping their lips connected with a wolfish grin. Chests heaved, lips swollen and shiny with spit. His voice dipped low, running viscous over his tongue. “Clear enough?”

Todoroki blinked, the dumb haze he'd fallen into dispersing like a cold snap. “Uh.” He fumbled, brow creasing, mouth twitching. “No, actually. What the hell was th---”

“Cringing. That's what you called it, huh? Unless you made that shit up---”

No--- yes that's what it's called, Bakugou, oh my god,” Todoroki pinched his eyes closed, exasperated. He wanted to go back in time to when he couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything but feel Bakugou's mouth on his own. “but Alphas don’t do tha---”

Oh.

All remarkable brain functions sparked out like a power surge, the cavity between his ears filled with a static hum. When his faculties flicked back online, the dawning realization bloomed at the back of his skull like a fiery sunrise.

Breath stuttered, he watched as Bakugou's pupils dilated, black surrounded by a rim of fire. His face heated under the attention, the sliver of space between them feeling like too much and not enough all at once.

Bakugou just offered himself up with an all but extinct subordination behavior completely non- intrinsic to his biological echelon. Only Bakugou would confess with something insanely unnecessary and kind of gross. Instead of with using actual words like a normal human.

Actually, he should have predicted this - Bakugou’s feelings were too emotionally charged to ever really be conveyed in words. Even still, the idiocy of it all was overwhelming.

Todoroki huffed an airy laugh, the kind that never failed to color Bakugou to the gills. Tentatively, carefully as if half expecting Bakugou to pull away or change his mind, he reached out to trace the outline of the swell in Bakugou's throat. “Does that mean you---”

Bakugou's hackles rose with a sharp inhale as cool fingertips drew softly around the throbbing gland, not seeming to be aware he was even leaning into the touch. “You make me say it, Icyhot, and I'll toss your ass right off this balcony. Authorities will have to pick your body up with fucking straws.”

“How romantic.”

Who's romantic, you sappy little--- ah, fuck.” Bakugou let his damp forehead drop to Todoroki's shoulder as thin fingers pressed cool and soft into the gland thrumming near the surface of his skin. He sucked in deep breaths, leaning into the touch unabashed now with a strangled noise.

Todoroki could feel the heated rush of Bakugou’s pulse against his fingertips. His other hand threaded through the blonde locks at his sweaty scruff. Just how long has he been yearning to do just that? Too long. It made the moment that much sweeter.

“At second thought,” Todoroki hummed, “I change my mind.”

Bakugou only grunted.

Todoroki frowned, fingers pausing where they met the edge of his bandage. “Bakugou? Did you hear me?”

A huff of hot breath ruffled the thin fabric of his shirt collar. “No.”

“I said I changed my mind.”

Radio silence. Bakugou was actively rubbing against Todoroki's fingers, each press of throat to hand drawing closer and closer to Todoroki's wrist. And the scent gland that lie beneath the bruised, milky surface. His pulse beat like the wings of a small bird, fluttering with anticipation the nearer Bakugou got.

Katsuki.”

Todoroki pulled away all at once, pressing his palms to Bakugou’s shoulders and pushing him bodily upright, gripping him steady by the biceps. His head bobbled up from where he had begun to wedge it beneath Todoroki's tickled chin, blinking owlishly as whatever rut- induced stupor he'd lapsed into faded.

His brows instantly drew together as clarity returned to him in an angry snap. “What?!”

“I don’t want a pack with you.”

The dead air that stretched between them was laced with vitriol, igniting as a thunder roll at the back of Bakugou's throat ripped from the depths of his chest. He caught Todoroki in a vice grip at the front of his shirt, yanking him a breath away. His scent rose up acrid and bitter, stinging under the bridge of his nose. This close, Todoroki could see the wild shine streaking across his eyes like a fiery comet across a blood red sky. It was frightening and exhilarating all at once.

“Your quirk fuckin’ with your brains?! This hot and cold bullshit is givin’ me whiplash here, you asshole! Make up your mind - do you want to be with me or not?!” The last part seemed like it was physically painful to say, Bakugou's face twisting up.

Risking life and limb because he was just brave (read: stupid) like that, Todoroki breached the shred of space left between them without warning or fanfare, brushing his lips over the chapped, panting ones breathing ragged over his face. A soft touch of the lips, nothing more, nothing less. Bakugou froze, comically still. He pulled back only slightly.

“I do,” Todoroki’s mouth twitched up into a soft smile. He pushed down his nerves, following Bakugou's eyes as they chased the bobbing of his throat, the attention crackling and intense between them. “As a mate.”

He didn't fail to notice as Bakugou’s breath hiccupped. His fury melted like the snow beneath their feet, lost to the cold night and cool fingers pressing into heated, sticky skin at his nape. Wide eyes fell beneath heavy lids, dark and hungry as they searched his face.

“Yeah…” Bakugou’s voice came out a rough whisper. He cleared his throat and corrected himself, “Fuck yeah.”

Their noses bumped, a barely there touch of cold to bruise, breathing each other in deep. Todoroki cupped Bakugou's scraped cheek, sliding his hand down to press his palm flush against the rut- soaked gland. It thrummed against his fingertips, warm and needy and familiar. And his.

“Your move, smarmy rutfuck Alpha.”

Slowly, a grin stretched across Bakugou’s face, all toothy and devastating.

“Then put up your best fight, pretty boy.”

Chapter Text

The energy between them ran electric, hairs at the back of Bakugou's nape, arms standing at a quiver akin to the seconds before getting struck by lightning. Every ragged, breathy gasp drawn out between them a clap of thunder, the air charged and thick as an impending storm; each drag of neck on throat striking a sizzling cord from the back of his skull down his spine, igniting into an inferno and discharging in a flurry of sparks through his insides.

“.... --- uki.”

Static hissed between his ears. Words disguised as disjointed, broken noise floated above him and dissipated in a sun flare of consciousness.

“Kats---...”

Husked out breath tickled the top of his head, skating along his scalp. Short and shallow, he distantly registered his name meeting the night like a whisper at the back of his skull. The blood in his veins rushed, boiling hot and pushing ugly splotches of red to the surface of his skin; he couldn't hear, couldn't think. Sweat pooled over him, collecting sticky and gross in every fleshy crevice his rut stupid body possessed.

A sweltering heat settled into a coiled ball heavy and low in his belly, vibrating with barely contained force and sending arcs of spitting livewire current racing through his frame. Crackling energy lit hot under his skin, snapping over him at the swollen, concentrated points between their throats in zips and jolts. An abrupt power surge of raw, chaotic rut left him in a burst, snuffed out and replaced in a blackout of aching deliverance. It settled over him as a cloak of normalcy, enveloping his bones and releasing him from the brutality of his own biology. For the first time in a long time, he could feel the bite of winter freezing his sweat over and pricking his skin up in bumps and shivers.

Fuck, Shouto, you feel so g---”

A sharp, strangled breath cut through the chill. “Katsuki---...!”

Bakugou slot a knee between Todoroki's thighs just in time to catch his full weight upon it as he slipped down the door. He had no choice but to follow, curled over him and gripping the back of the other's threadbare t- shirt to keep them both from ending up with their asses on the slushy ground.

This close, he could feel the foreign intensity of his rut filling Todoroki as tendrils of molten heat bleeding out through his clothes and pulling a wet gasp from between his lips.

Hah---” Todoroki shook against him, blunt fingernails digging sharp and bruising where they clung to his arms, struggling to grasp his composure as Bakugou's fire raged through him fiercer than ever before. “How do you--- is this what you--- shit…”

“Fuck, yeah, it's---” Bakugou tucked his broken nose under Todoroki's jaw and inhaled long and deep. Even through the bruised swelling of his nasal cavity, Todoroki's scent lingered still, filling the void his rut had abandoned and intoxicating his already hypersensitive faculties completely dumb. Saliva collected in his mouth. “It's really bad this time.” He breathed, unable to articulate further, even now as Todoroki took the full brunt of his rut and internalized it in his own body, running its course through him like a human sieve.

His eyes almost bugged out of his goddamn skull as Todoroki suddenly ground his hips down against his thigh with a breathy little eck of a noise that went straight to his groin. His cock twitched. His jaw slacked. Fuck. What the fuck. Had he ever done that before, holy shit--- just thinking about it made his head spin and his whole world tipped on its axis.

Oi,” Bakugou wet his lips, recovering with a slow smirk, “who's the smarmy rutfuck Alpha now?” He pressed a sharp grin against the other's throat, a syrupy heat lapping between his thighs with every jerk of Todoroki’s hips he was witlessly blessing him with.

“Still you,” Todoroki hissed, jaw line tight and grip tighter, “This is all, ah, still yours,” his voice hiccupped in his mouth, smokey and fucked out like a crackling ember, “asshole.”

“I like to think I'm above humping kneecaps,” Bakugou paused for effect, “pretty boy.”

A shiver ran down Todoroki's frame despite the brief still in the wind, following the last syllable as it left his mouth.

Bakugou's brows shot up.

Oh.

Oh, he was going to exploit the ever- loving shit out of that for the rest of forever, bet.

“You like that?” His gravelly, low chuckle was met with resilient silence, but the way Todoroki tilted his chin up and away to expose more of the corded line of his throat gave him all the answers he never knew he needed. There was nothing submissive about it, no hidden meaning to be found buried in dusty library books or strange wiki articles.

An irritated pink color stretched between Todoroki's ear to the slope where neck met shoulder, skin rubbed raw from the intensity of their scenting. Bakugou brushed his rough lips over the chaffed trail, feeling the thrum of the overactive swell against his mouth in tune with his own rapid heartbeat. He could taste the salty sweat of his skin and, oddly, his own heady flavor filtering out in mixed shocks of disconnected pleasure through the pulse under his tongue. Todoroki sucked his lip white between his teeth and visibly restrained himself from pulling his hips in a sloppy, secondhand innate need for friction against him. Fucking hell--- by now they were both stupid hard and aching with it.

Inhaling deep with his face beneath Todoroki's jaw, he could smell something through the swollen tissue under his nose - faint but pulling; a scent he’s encountered before but was too brief and obscure to ever really identify. But now, with Todoroki against him like this - it was clear. It was more than the thick, musky scent of mutual arousal permeating the chilled spaces between them. This scent was Alpha meets Beta--- no, it was their scent - the culmination of their shared feelings and solidification of their bond. A forest fire on the edge of a glacier valley, ash resting atop new snow, sparks dancing over a sheet of ice, warm spice mixed with spearmint - it was them, completely and irrevocably theirs.

Bakugou shifted out from under his chin, just enough that their noses touched briefly, humid breath fanning over their sweat damp cheeks and pluming to clouds as it met winter's dark sky. Todoroki's eyes were still pinched closed as he rode out the last few waves of a biological nature that didn't even belong to him. And then almost as quickly as it had seized him, Bakugou's rut eased from Todoroki’s system like water dropped through a screen, bottoming out with a shiver and leaving him a panting mess between Bakugou's arms.

From there, nothing was the same.

Because this time, when Bakugou lost himself in Todoroki's parted, quivering petal lips, drunk on the little sighs of chilled breath puffing to white, he knew exactly what he wanted. This time, when Todoroki met his eyes with pupils blown to black galaxies, heavy- lidded with a shared desire, he didn't pull back. And this time, when he leaned in transfixed and chest aching with what he now realized was overwhelming affection, Todoroki met him halfway.

Kissing Todoroki Shouto was even better the second time around. Third, Bakugou Katsuki would argue. The hallway beside the water fountain definitely fucking counted and he would not be convinced otherwise. As far as he was concerned, Todoroki could take that cringing bullshit and shove it straight up his ass. But it didn't matter; it was neither here nor there. Not anymore. Not when he wasn't acting on impulse; not when he wasn't desperate to relay his feelings in the only way he knew how.

And especially not when he had the most gorgeous motherfucker in this school caged against a door with hands pressing fingertip bruises into the warm flesh at Todoroki's hips. Still riding the strange high that was scent marking with a Beta--- fuck, his mate--- he scrambled to keep himself lucid enough to guide whatever this was to wherever it was going. Bakugou slid his tongue along the seam of Todoroki’s lips, bitten plush and mauve and shiny with spit, coaxing his mouth open with quick licks. Calloused, scarred fingers moved up to scrape along his scalp, pulling at the soft red and white strands just enough to tilt the other's face into an angle better suited for licking his delicious mouth out.

“Katsuki…”

He swallowed the low sigh of his name that trickled from between Todoroki's teeth, mapping the corners of his mouth through short gasps of air and soft moans. An exploratory tongue met his own, following the sharp of his canines. Their lips broke with wet smacks, only to collide back together in fevered, sloppy messes of teeth and tongue.

Todoroki brushed his thumb in circles over the swell in his throat, nearly choking on the sensation zipping under his skin and exploding as fucking stars scattering behind his eyes. The juxtaposition of the gentle sweep of his hand and fierceness of his kiss was dizzying.

His scent beat over him in waves from all sides, pulling a feral growl from somewhere deep in his chest, caught between their mouths as they kissed bruising and wild; yearning to taste and touch and feel everything they meant to each other both said and unsaid.

A light suddenly flicked to life on the balcony next to theirs and Bakugou almost swallowed his fucking tongue. They both froze, hearts jumping between their tonsils. Still connected at the mouth, their eyes snapped open, catching each other's gazes in nervous terror as Sero's balcony door opened with a burst of raised voices.

Some were more distinct than others.

“Sero!” Iida chastised, exclamation carrying from somewhere in the middle of the room and irritatingly loud for some god forsaken hour at night. “Close the door! You can't just let the heat out like that, it's a waste of our school's resources!”

Soft footfalls stopped just short of actually walking out onto the balcony, thank fuck, “If they can afford robot babysitters, they can afford my door to be open.” Sero never sounded closer to death, “Besides, if I down one more energy drink I might actually have a heart attack. I need the cold air to keep me up if we're going to finish studying in here.”

Sero's voice faded as he retreated from the balcony doorway, mixing with a garble of other voices Bakugou (unfortunately) recognized.

With a frustrated huff through his swollen nose, he broke their lips apart and rested his palms flush against the door. He could feel their frantic heartbeats slam in tandem in their chests, bodies close and warm, and still taste him on his tongue as they caught their breaths. The light bleeding across from the other balcony was cut by a wide shadow cast by the overhang above their heads, melting them into the darkness of it.

What a shitshow of a situation.

Eventually the immediate danger of being found subsided along with their pulses, Bakugou let the tension in his shoulders fall, dragging the coals of his eyes over the beautifully battered face breathing damp and warm over his own.

Todoroki was a fucking mess, but god if he wasn't the most stunning train wreck of a person on this filthy planet. Blue and purple bruising swept over his right cheek and collected under his eye in a swell that forced it to a watery squint. A row of stitches climbed through a white brow, puckering his skin an angry pink. His pupils were blown to black in the wake of their scenting, thin slivers of grey and piercing turquoise peeking around the deep rims. A layer of sweat clung to his skin sticky and shiny under the glow of the winter moon, cooling in barely- there shivers. His hair was a riot, colors mixing together haphazardly in the middle. He wanted to bury his hands back in there, tangle his fingers and yank him close enough to extinguish the space between them until they breathed as one person. God, his lips were swollen plump and red, gently parted and begging to tasted again and again, bitten and licked and spilling moans of his name. Bakugou's eyes chased Todoroki's tongue as it darted over his bottom lip, leaning in to claim it between his teeth.

“No.” Tododoki hissed, turning his face so that Bakugou's teeth grazed his cheek instead.

“Fuck, what?” Bakugou groaned against his cheek, rerouting his lips and mumbling through directionless, open- mouthed kisses, “Wanna join the Beta Brigade over there?”

He heard Todoroki cluck his tongue against the roof of his mouth as his lips trailed over the sharp cut of his jaw, “No, but we're not, ah,” he swallowed thickly as Bakugou's mouth found his throat again, sucking the skin over his thrumming gland between his teeth and licking it over raw and pink, “we're not doing this out here.” He finished breathily.

Bakugou grinned against his pulsepoint, “Yeah? Well ain't that a relief and a half. It's cold as balls out here.” His rut may run through him like the blistering heat of summer, but winter was still his least favorite of the earth's trip around the sun.

Todoroki huffed dryly. “Were you hoping we could phase through the door sometime before Spring? Back up so I can move.”

“You're the one still sitting on my leg.” Bakugou's mouth turned up, not for a fucking second missing the way Todoroki's throat bobbed sharply under his lips.

“Bakugou,” Todoroki murmured a warning, wary of the moving shadows playing across the balcony a room over.

So that's how it's gunna be? “Haah?!”

Katsuki.”

“Better.”

Todoroki ran his tongue over his teeth behind his lips, making an irritated noise, “I can’t open the door like this, we’ll fall. Move.”

Bakugou sneered. “If I move back I'll be outta the shadow. Besides, we've fallen from greater heights and lived to tell about it. What are ya, a pansy---”

Todoroki, petty jerk that he is, snapped the door open with a crack and they spilled through it in a mess of limbs and idiocy. Bakugou's face bounced off the tatami and his vision instantly blacked out. Pain absolutely fucking screamed through his skull, ringing between his ears deafening and blinding in its intensity.

“Oh---”

“---ckfuckfuckfuckfu---”

“Are you---”

His whole damn face throbbed, the liquid stitch sitting across his nose peeling back and nostrils gushing warm blood all over his hands, his shirt, the floor. Nothing felt worse than having ones face broken, except re- breaking that same face in the stupidest way imaginable. When his vision finally decided to return to him, still swimming with black spots, Bakugou gaped at the ceiling like a fish, sucking in a deep, quivering breaths through a loose jaw. Todoroki's bleary visage came into focus, hovering over him with his hand drawn back, taught like a rubber band.

“O- oi, waitafuckingsecond---…!” Bakugou whacked the hand poised over him, “If you slap me, I'll fucking gut you!” He snapped his hands over his gushing nose, growl muffled into the bloodied cup of his palms against his face, glaring over his fingers.

Todoroki had the audacity to just blink vapidly at him for a moment, as if this wasn't entirely his fault. Okay, it was mostly his fault. The brief look of concern that had flicked over Todoroki's face melted back into a stony impasse. He sat back on his heels and actually shrugged, the dickbag. “Welcome back.” He sighed, so blasé in spirit Bakugou wanted to choke him.

Twisting to his side, Bakugou pushed himself onto his ass with a hiss of pain. “Fuck you,” Bakugou replied without much venom, energy bleeding out of him quicker than his actual blood. He hunched over his lap and pulled his hem up to his nose, each dab of cotton to skin sending little zips of pain throughout his face. With his shirt soaked through and sticking disgustingly warm and wet to his chest, he regarded Todoroki from under his lashes with a tight look. “Got something I can use besides my shirt, or you gunna sit there watching me bleed all over myself?”

With an exasperated sigh usually reserved for dealing with children, Todoroki stood from where he'd been hovering awkwardly, his other hand dropping from his bandaged abdomen. “Please don’t get blood on my things.” He replied shortly, closing the door to the balcony they'd just terfed it through like fools not even moments ago.

“Yeah, yeah, take a fucking hike already, your shitty things are safe.” Bakugou kicked his way out of his boots while scooting across the floor on his ass, eventually planting himself on the edge of Todoroki's elf- height desk. He tipped his head back, swallowing around a mouthful of blood. And waited. Impatiently.

Todoroki squinted, pausing in front of him as he retreated from the draft of his door, mismatched eyes quietly searching Bakugou’s face for fuck knows what, he had no idea what a guy like Todoroki could be looking for in a guy like him - probably making sure he wasn't about to pass out, which he wasn't fuck you very much.

What?!”

“Nothing,” Todoroki replied, but his lips betrayed him, turning up softly at the corners, “Just thought you'd have better reflexes than that.”

Bakugou's hackles immediately ran electric, his scent rising up biting and caustic. “I’m up to my eyeballs in fucking codeine you ass!”

“Not a very heroic excuse.”

“I'LL FUCKING KILL---”

“Stop shouting, you're getting blood everywhere,” The Alpha aggression manifested in barely a twitch of movement, rolling off Todoroki like water. “What else had you expected me to do, really?” He disappeared into the tiny adjoined bathroom, flicking the switch and flooding the dark room with gold light that caught on the sparse furniture and sliced shadows across the floor, bathing the natural wood in rich sepia tones.

“Could've just waited ‘em out, y'know.” Bakugou’s fury simmered, voice slurred around a mouth full of blood, choking back the warm copper taste as it collected on his tongue from his nasal cavity.

Todoroki’s scoff bounced off the tile. “And what were you planning to do if they had the door open all night?” Todoroki frowned at him through the mirror, wringing a washcloth damp under the sink, “Let us freeze to death?”

Bakugou swallowed another mouthful of coagulating blood as it rolled thick down the back of his throat, head tipped back but still managing to meet Todoroki's gaze in the mirror with a smirk, “I was fully prepared to kill you and crawl inside your gizzards to keep warm.”

Todoroki, who was outrageously immune to his most creative threats, simply ticked his brows towards his hairline, “You're neither Bear Grylls nor Leonardo Da Vinci so I doubt that'd work out in your favor.”

Bakugou huffed through his nose, a bubble of blood popping against his face, “First of all, it's Leonardo DiCaprio, you cultureless fuck,” He wheezed a laugh, mouth split into a bloodied grin, “And I could out- survive those extras any day.”

Bakugou could see Todoroki roll his eyes in the mirror as he finished up, turning to cross back over the room. “I can’t say I'm honored you'd use my carcass that way.”

Todoroki's ability to deliver morbid jokes with a straight face was par none, and Bakugou didn't know whether to feel relieved or annoyed they shared the same sick sense of humor. Demented. Hilarious. “You fucking should be.”

“Mn.” Todoroki was in front of him again, crouched down so that they were eye level. “Now hold still.”

“Why the f---” He stiffened up as Todoroki's hand closed in over his face.

“Shut up,” he said, then clarified, “Stop moving your mouth.” Todoroki pressed the damp cloth in gentle little sweeps over Bakugou's face, his lips, his throat - everywhere the blood had run. He paid careful attention to his hands, turning them over in his own as he pressed and swept the cloth over the pads of his fingers and the skin stretched between them, tracing the lines of his palm and rough calluses along the edges, gliding over bony knuckles and moons of his nails. Diligently cleaning him up with a softness Bakugou couldn't have pegged him to possess in a billion years.

And he was close, so close. Leaning into Bakugou's space as he worked, inhaling his oxygen and leaving him breathless with every warm exhale caressing over his face.

They'd been close before, physically, even prior to being pack bonded. Usually in the midst of trying to beat each other senseless during training routines. They'd exchanged sweat and blood countless times but he'd never taken the time to really look at him. And now that he had the opportunity, he was content to drink in the sight of him like a man dying of thirst until he drowned. Had Todoroki's eyelashes always been different colors too? Stupid question, of course they have. So long and dense they nearly skimmed the apples of his cheeks when he blinked. Stark white lashes, normally melted into the milky soft color of his skin, stood out against the dark bruising climbing the right side of his face. They fell over the cold, winter grey of his eye like a flurry of snow. Over the other eye his lashes darkened to a dark brick red where they met at the base, blending into the uneven shade of his scar. They framed the incredible turquoise color like a hearth, barely containing that fiery brilliance within them. Looking between the two felt like getting pulled apart, left exhilaratingly bare - exposed to the a spectrum of elements with each languid blink.

Thoroughly engrossed, a spidering shock of pain registered a full- ass second later than Todoroki's deliberate swipe to his nose.

Ow, fuck, you bastard---”

“Stop staring at me.”

“You’re an inch from my face, where the fuck else am I supposed to look?!”

“There's an entire room around us.”

Bakugou flit his gaze over Todoroki's ear, pretended not to notice how flushed it was. “Yeah, well, your lame Martha Stewart Meets Feudal Japan decor is boring as fuck and not nearly as interesting to look at as your fa---” The rest of that sentence died in the back of his throat as his eyes fell upon the futon rolled out a foot or so away. The edge of the left side was scorched dark and bitten to frail pieces, singed away to expose the feathery down of the soft insides. It took his brain an entire second of wading through whatever drugs remained in his system from the hospital before it hit him - hard and fast like a punch to the gut. “You piece of shit!” A furious heat lit in his veins, snatching the washcloth out of Todoroki's hand and brandishing it in his dumb face like a weapon, “It was you that set off the goddamn sprinklers! What the fuck?!”

“What are y--- oh.” Todoroki followed Bakugou's line of sight, then stilled.

Scratch that, actually - he full- on fucking twitched, then froze like a victim of his own quirk, his hand still hovering over Bakugou's broken face. And if that wasn't weird enough, Bakugou could see his cheeks color a bright red clear as day right in front of his eyes. Bakugou was half convinced he'd been launched into the Twilight Zone just then.

“Yes…” Todoroki responded hesitantly, cautious in a way that was too foreign to not be immediately suspicious. He dropped his empty hand to his lap and turned his eyes slowly, carefully back up as if resigned to meet his executioner - which was just as well, with Bakugou practically vibrating in place with mounting rage.

Yes? The fuck's that mean, yes?!” He snarled, lips curled back over the sharp of his canines, “My bed's still waterlogged for fuck's sake!” Bakugou gripped the edge of the desk with his free hand so tight his knuckles paled.

“Sorry.” This lackadaisical turd didn’t sound sorry in the slightest, meeting his eyes with an emotion Bakugou couldn't quite read. The scent easing off him was no help, either. His very essence surrounded him, radiating off every surface of his room and inundating him from all sides. It was triggering a million and a half different synapses at once, Alpha senses firing off on all cylinders and Bakugou had no idea which to act upon.

Sorry my ass, fuckface! How does that even happen?!”

“I had a dream.” He responded plainly, fiddling with the hem of his shirt.

Bakugou squinted. “HAAH? About what, makin’ s'mores ya shitty Boy Scout?!”

“About you.” Todoroki's eyes dropped to Bakugou's mouth. “And me.”

“What about us--- holy shit.”

The cavity between his ears suddenly felt empty, liquid dumb sloshing against the inside of his skull, jaw slack and stupid - of which he never felt more of in his entire fuckass life. His pulse vacated his face and took a goddamn swan dive straight to his dick.

Luckily for him, Bakugou wasn't a total fuckwit because he doubted Todoroki could have managed elaborating more than that without physically combusting - he had the communication skills of a wet noodle and Bakugou would have been left wondering what in the fuck he had to do with a dream and a crispy futon until the universe collapsed in on itself.

When his own personal world stopped spinning long enough to grip reality in a steady hand, the magnitude of his newfound supernova of a realization flashed over him like a sun flare, licking hot and humid up his back and settling sticky behind his knees. He doesn't know how he earned this, what celestial god he appeased enough to have Todoroki fucking Shouto admit in the most abstract way possible that he'd had a wet dream about him so charged he lost control of his quirk. Every planet in their solar system must have lined up perfectly for this moment; stars crashing together in bold new constellations and comets streaking across the bend of the atmosphere that surely wouldn't happen again for another billion and a half years. He had fallen into Todoroki's gravity before he'd even realized he'd tripped.

The vacuum of space in his chest expanded, but only touched the edges of the infinity that was all that Todoroki was to him.

Slowly, a grin split across his face, white teeth glinting in the smudged dark of the room, like stars across an inky night sky, “Yeah, no kidding? Well if dream me could do that,” he nodded loosely towards the futon, cocky smile stretching, “just imagine what kinda damage the real thing could do.”

Unluckily for him, Todoroki was still an asshole and no amount star sign bullshittery could ever justify it. “You mean like bleed all over yourself?” He deadpanned.

“Shut the fuck up and kiss me, half ‘n half.”

And he did.

Their mouths met in a sloppy scrape of teeth and tongue and crushing lips, swallowing sighs and gasps as they searched the corners of each other's mouths deeply. The space heated between them into something raw and wild, sucking the oxygen from the air in a suffocating pull of desire. Hands mapped over skin in a searing rush, fingers tracing the edges of bandages and following every dip and line of hard, bruised muscle, heedless of the pain that mixed with the pleasure in a thrill of jumping nerves. He swallowed the low moan that tumbled from between Todoroki's lips as rough fingers traced down the curve of his spine, his sinewy body arching towards him despite the awkward position. Kissing Todoroki was everything and not enough all at once - the dizzy born of their combined scents, the feel of a mouth matching the fervor of his hunger step for step built into a dangerous, feral ache low in his belly.

The Alpha in him howled, straining at the end of a weathered chain threatening to break and make this Beta his. To mark with his mouth, his teeth, his hands, his whole body. To pin him down and have him in every filthy way he could, to rip him into a mess of pieces and devour what was left. An ancient, wild instinct in him cried out for release, to claim and tear this Beta apart at the most intimate level until he was nothing and nobody but his alone.

But the human in him was louder.

A jolt of pain struck a nerve through Bakugou's entire fucking face as Todoroki bumped up against his nose, sucking a sharp breath between his teeth and flinching his head back. “Fffff---!” Their lips broke with a hiss. “Fuck,” He grunted at the ceiling, trying to feel around blindly where he dumped the washcloth as a new trickle of blood began to run over his mouth. “Fuck, I can't--- can’t have you like this---”

He felt Todoroki's airy laugh against his face more than he heard it through the blood rush between his ears. “Sorry, hold still again.”

He found the washcloth and held it to Bakugou's face, leaning in to dab at the new trickle of blood as it collected in the seam of his lips, washing warm over his teeth.

Something inside him snapped, “Like hell, I want you, you goddamn stupid sonofa---oomph?!”

Katsuki.” Todoroki muffled him with the bloody washcloth, “Shut up and hold this here.” He roughly placed Bakugou's hand over the stained cloth so he was forced to hold it to his own nose.

“Don't tell me what to d---”

Todoroki's lips touched his below the washcloth in a soft brush, a barely- there feeling, then another. And another. Over and over. Leaving annoyingly short, tender kisses across his swollen face, lips soft and plush and lingering only long enough to drive Bakugou up a goddamn wall. It sets him the fuck off - with every deliberate little break, he aggressively chases Todoroki's lips with his own, pulling him back in with a hand buried firm at his sweaty nape while the other staunched the blood flow at his face. It was awkward as hell but Bakugou would rather asphyxiate himself then let up because of a bloody nose.

“Fucking--- stop.” Bakugou found himself growling as Todoroki teased his lips again, palm gripping the back of his neck as he veered on the cusp of losing himself entirely. “Stay.”

“Mhn,” Todoroki kissed the edge of his lips, “no.”

Wha---” Bakugou gave Todoroki a staggered look as he abruptly abandoned his sweetly torturous kisses, dipping to bury his face under Bakugou's jaw to take deep, trembling breaths of whatever intoxicating Alpha scent he was oozing. He had no idea what he smelled like to a Beta, let alone his mate; but the feeling of his lashes dragging against his neck with each shaky inhale had the beast inside him clawing, begging. He wanted nothing more than to take what was his, absolute and thorough. Stake his claim, mark his territory, get his scent so deep under his skin it would have other echelons pissing themselves just by looking at him.

The Alpha in him strained at the end of a line, shackled to this plane of existence with the feeling of Todoroki's mouth alone.

Todoroki sighed through the unhurried kisses he was trailing under Bakugou's jaw, having not lost traction for a single moment, fuck him. He'd wedged himself firmly between his knees, hands skimming up and down his meaty thighs as he sucked a litter of bruises into the sticky flesh below his ear, over the swell of his gland, the slope where his neck met his shoulder - licking and biting wherever the salt and sweet of his skin tasted best.

His hands rucked up Bakugou's blood- crusted shirt, warm and cool palms smoothing down his chest, fingers splayed across the hard wall of muscle stretched over his thudding heart. They trailed lower, following the taut lines of his abdomen and then skimmed up his back, fingertips dancing over the nubs of his spine. Finally, they rested at his waist as thumbs circled slowly over the juts of his hips.

Whatever blood was still left in his head shot straight between his thighs, heartbeat exploding there.

Oi, just wha--- Shou---” His words cramped up at the back of his throat as Todoroki wordlessly dipped the cool tips of his fingers below the elastic of his sweats, brushing against the engorged outline of his rut- swollen cock. How long had he been this hard, fuck? He bit back a groan, teeth clenching until his jaw ached. Todoroki kissed and sucked over the thrumming gland in his throat as his warm palm brazenly kneaded against him, sending an electric thrill flying under his skin. His breath escaped him in short, uneven pants as he was worked over in little pets and squeezes through the fabric of his sweats - until it became unbearable, until it felt too tight, too hot, too everything, hips twitching up to meet his palm. Bakugou sucked in a sharp breath through his teeth and choked back a gelatinous clot of blood as Todoroki stroked him long and lazy. “Ohmygod what the fuck're y---”

Todoroki sunk between Bakugou's legs until he was eye- level with the strained tent in his pants. He traced the tips of his fingers along the clothed edge of his cock, pressing his index finger into the head. The fabric of his sweats darkened, damp with precum under the pad of his finger.

The pink tip of his tongue darted out, wetting his lips.

Their eyes met.

“Can I---”

Bakugou groaned loudly, cutting him off, “Are you really fucking asking if you can suck my dick right now, half ‘n half?! Huh?!” His voice cracked at the back of his tongue. “Are you?!”

Todoroki blinked, looking maddeningly nonplussed for someone with a cock an inch away from their face, “Is that a yes?”

“That’s a fuck yeah, you dumbshit!”

“You're loud.” His fingers gingerly hooked over the waistband of his sweats. Inched them lower. Wet his lips again.

Bakugou’s nostrils flared with a snort, carding his fingers through Todoroki's hair and unabashedly coaxing his mouth closer to where he ached for it the most, “What? Afraid someone will hear us?”

“No,” Todoroki's eyes fluttered low, leaning into the warm hand running over his scalp like a cat, “Just an observation.”

“Oh fuck you.”

Todoroki shrugged one shoulder with finality as he pulled Bakugou's sweats and boxers away from his hips, just enough to free his cock. It bounced out from the elastic flushed swollen and full, curved towards his abdomen.

Todoroki's pupils blew out and breath hitched, ghosting quick and warm over the sweat slick clinging to the inside of his thighs.

The atmosphere shifted in an instant - palpable and ossified.

He never knew hunger to be a contagious thing, but as he watched Todoroki run his tongue over his teeth behind his lips like a man starved, mouth watering for him, he was suddenly fucking famished. His tongue pooled with a ravenous, insatiable lust - he craved that rudeass mouth on him, sucking on his cock and moaning with the taste. He wanted to fill the space between Todoroki's tonsils, indulge himself on Todoroki's delicious mouth, until every twitch of his lips had him conditioned to drool like a Pavlovian dog.

Fuck, his mouth was close, lips parted loose, hot huffs of breath rolling in trembles over his sweat damp skin. A crease slid across the space between Todoroki's brows, darting his tongue out to wet his lips. He closed his mouth, then opened it, adjusted his angle. Then closed it again. Bakugou followed the sharp bobbing of his adam's apple, watched the minuscule shake to the hand gripping his thigh.

It almost looked as if he were---

Keh, you nervous, half ‘n half?” The words left his mouth before they had the chance to filter through his frontal lobe. In his defense, it was kind of hard to think in a straight line with a pretty little mouth breathing hot and heavy a touch away from his swollen cock.

Todoroki's eyes flashed something dangerous and Bakugou realized his fuck up too late.

On the Richter Scale of Things Better Left Unsaid, insulting Todoroki's pride was easily a Magnitude Brainless. Darwin Award level dumb, actually.

A cross, defiant look shadowed over Todoroki's face, a fire blazing in his eyes that had Bakugou instantly fucking sweating, caught up in the sweltering heat of a challenge he had witlessly set. Todoroki turned his head, lips twitching around a flash of teeth---

“Whoa, hey, holdthefuckup…---!” Bakugou caught a fistful of red and white before Todoroki had the chance to mercilessly swallow him down, yanking his face a safe distance from his cock. “Listen, you--- I--- shit!” He huffed into the damp washcloth, letting it drop to the desk with a wet splat so he could grind the heels of his palms into both eyes.

When he looked down, Todoroki was frowning up at him, the flame behind his eyes flickering, “I'm not nervous.”

“Like fuck you ain't,” Bakugou snapped, digging his own grave again - not deep enough to lie in but certainly shallow enough to trip over. “You think I'm not ner---” He grimaced around the word, swallowing it back with difficulty, face pinched ugly like he'd just tasted something sour, “that? My balls are swimmin’ in nitro right now and I've got some fiery fuckface an inch away from my dick. I'm one loose quirk away from becoming the village eunuch!” He gestured wildly to Todoroki's burnt fucking futon to illustrate his point.

Todoroki looked at the futon, then the cock in front of him, then back up at Bakugou hovering over him, “Taking one for the team.”

“Ch’yeah, you're fucking welcome.” Bakugou snorted dryly through the scabs gumming up his nostrils.

A roll of the eyes. “My hero.”

“Bet your ass I am.”

And then it happens. The flame behind Todoroki's eyes snuffed out, the tense buildup in the atmosphere breaking with a pop, going up in smoke; and Todoroki laughs. Not one of those airy little things he usually does that could easily be confused for some kind of small mammal sneeze, but a laugh. And it was the most beautiful thing Bakugou's ever fucking heard. Bright and lush and genuine, smile reaching up from his lips to wrinkle the bridge of his nose, eyes pinched shut and crinkled at the edges. Tears clung to his lashes as he sucked in gulps of air, dissolving into himself. His shoulders shook beneath the soft fabric of his shirt, hot breath dampening Bakugou's thighs, tickling the coarse, pale hair below his navel in short wheezes.

It takes all of the strength Bakugou has, all the willpower he’s cultivated meticulously over the trajectory of his life thus far not to come right then and there, with a laughing Todoroki between his knees.

Too much time elapsed for Bakugou to pass it off as a rut- soaked hallucination; he committed the sound to memory as Todoroki reigned himself in with trained ease, like it'd simply been a hiccup in his system. He rested his cheek against Bakugou's thigh and peered up at him with the dumbest little smile Bakugou's ever fucking seen - he wanted to punch it off. Kiss it off. Both, not necessarily in that order. “Centuries from now, people will still speak of your bravery.”

“Wha--- alright, comedy hour is over.” Bakugou gritted his teeth, cock twitching against his abdomen as Todoroki skimmed his lips along the soft inner flesh of his thigh, tantalizingly close. “C'mon, let's see what you can do.”

The blaze behind Todoroki's eyes reignited, and this time, he did nothing to stop Todoroki from rising to the challenge.

Bakugou thought he'd be prepared, but as soon as Todoroki's tongue licked a stripe up his cock he nearly peeled out of his own damn skin. He bit down on the inside of his cheek, chest pinching around a groan as he restrained himself from coming instantly in what’d be the most embarrassingly short upset of his young life. Their eyes met again, a pistol start sounding somewhere in the back of his mind - and then Todoroki's lips were everywhere, pressing obscenely noisy kisses over his cock, tongue laving wet licks up and down his length until he dripped and twitched and shook.

Something he’d pretend wasn't a pathetic noise until his dying fucking breath escaped him as Todoroki suddenly leaned back carelessly, licking his lips.

“You taste sweet.”

Bakugou almost choked.

“That's the nitro, dumbass.”

“I like it.”

Bakugou actually choked.

“And that's the gay.”

Todoroki rolled his eyes, “Katsuki.”

“You always this fuckin’ yappy with a dick by your face?”

“Only yours.” Todoroki replied too easily, the absolute prick, choosing then to blessedly shut himself up by swallowing Bakugou's cock down in a slow, torturous decent. God, his mouth was an absurdly hot, wet heat around him. One of his hands wrapped around the base where his mouth couldn't reach, licking and stroking his cock to a spit wet mess.

The sounds that filled the room were down- right filthy, drowning out the low hum of the heating system and cry of wind beating against the balcony door. With every slurp, every squelch and every suck more blood rushed to his cock, filling it impossibly full and achingly hard, flushed up red and leaking. Todoroki audibly swallowed around him, wet suctioning noises pulling from between his lips.

Fuck, Shou…”

Bakugou moaned, long and loud as he gripped the edge of his desk, hips twitching up and all but coming undone as the head of his cock brushed Todoroki's tonsils and his throat clenched up around a gag that had a ripple of pleasure lapping over him. His ears rung with it, heart leapt with it.

Todoroki’s glassy eyes met his in a wordless warning from under the fringe sticking messy to his damp forehead. He gripped the top of Bakugou's thighs, firmly pinning his hips down with the pure strength of his fingers alone as he deftly hallowed his cheeks, suckling and swirling his tongue around the head and dipping it into his slit with every upstroke.

Who was this peppermint motherfucker trying to fool? Who taught him this shit? Fuck, actually he didn't want to know---

“Ow wed eet innuh wahguzee.”

The vibrations of his voice around his cock very nearly had Bakugou passing the fuck out, the space between his ears a screaming pitch of static. “H- haah?!”

Todoroki pulled off him with a sinfully wet slurp, bobbling up from between his thighs as a thumb absently traced the thick vein on the underside of his cock in place of his tongue. Bakugou's legs trembled. “I said, I read it in a magazine.”

Fuck, he said that out loud?

“Yes.”

Double fuck!

“What kinda shit you reading, half ‘n half?!” Bakugou recovered with a snap.

Todoroki stared at him, deadpan. “Helpful shit.”

“You---” Smartass. “Why were you reading this in a magazine, huh?”

“Why, where do you get your education?” Todoroki effortlessly deflected. Bakugou didn't have the cognizance to call him out on it, brains emptying south of his pelvis.

“The fucking Internet like a normal person.” Bakugou spat.

Todoroki's blinked, “I see.” He had that far away look that meant he was thinking, eyes intensely vacant, staring somewhere well beyond the dick in front of him.

Bakugou scoffed, reigning Todoroki back in from wherever he’d just disappeared to, “Maybe hit up the manners section next time you're fucking off in a library, huh. Talking with your mouth full is rude as shit.”

He settled a firm hand atop Todorokis head, easing it back down between his knees until the cold tip of his nose bumped against the v of his thigh. A shiver thrilled straight down his spine.

Todoroki’s huff fanned over his sticky skin before he swallowed him down again with a clever tongue. He laved the flat of it over his cock, pumped his lips over him in a sloppy rhythm. Bakugou tipped his head back as a filthy moan ripped from the depth of his lungs, one hand buried deep in red and white while the other gripped the edge of the desk with enough force to splinter the wood under his smoking palm. His chest heaved, breath labored with the wet slide of lips stretched around him.

Every muscle in his body jumped in tune with every lick, every suck; belly taut and quivering, so fucking close as Todoroki slid his mouth over his achingly full cock in earnest, moaning around him for fuck's sake. The sloppy, wet sounds lit a sweltering heat through his veins, release gathering into a concentrated, fiery heartbeat between his thighs. His core spasmed as his breaking point crept up on him in a searing blaze spiking under his skin, accumulating so white hot he thought his muscles would melt from his bones.

At the cusp of his release, he dragged a hand through Todoroki's hair, pulling the sweaty strands away from his face. Their heavy eyes locked, razing a heat to every Alpha’d nerve he possessed, sizzling down his spine and erupted as flames in his belly.

Fuck I--- I'm gunna---” He choked, words running into and over each other haphazardly.

Todoroki's jaw slacked and tongue lolled out, just letting his cock rest hot and heavy on it as precum and spit dribbled back over his lips down his chin, soaking the collar of his flimsy shirt. His eyes were steeled, determined. He quirked a daring brow, wet, swollen lips turning up in a soft, deceptively subtle way and Bakugou fucking lost it---

A vicious déjà vu hit him the same time as his orgasm, vision whiting out as he came apart at the seams. The back of his head collided with the wall with a thunk, jaw loose around a deep groan as thick ropes of cum shot over Todoroki's face.

Heartbeat still thundering through his veins, Bakugou sucked in gulps of air through his teeth, hand dropping from Todoroki’s damp hair heavy against his sticky thigh. He blinked the blur from his eyes, mouth slashed into a thin line. Inwardly, he fought the blissed out haze to wrangle his soul back into his body from where Todoroki had just sucked it clear out of his dick.

“You, hah---…” His release had washed all thought out like the tide, leaving him exposed to the burning sun of a new realization in its wake. “You were--- you were fucking hitting on me.”

Todoroki blinked the one eye that didn't have cum clinging to his eyelashes in fat globules, gracelessly spitting what had landed on his tongue onto his lap. “I was… sucking you off?”

Fuck, he felt heavy, like all of a sudden someone cranked up the gravity.

No, you fucking--- not tha---” He sputtered, dragging both hands down his warm face as he straightened from where he'd slithered down the wall, bobbling in place as his skeleton settled back into his guts from the force of his orgasm, “At the damn water fountain, you--- you were hitting on me!”

“Oh.” Todoroki adopted another faraway look for a moment, like he had to fucking think on it, “Yeah.”

Yeah? Just--- yeah?” Bakugou's brows shot into his hairline with an incredulous twitch of his lips, still catching his damn breath. He stared down at him, searching his face for fuck knows what - maybe a just kidding or an elaboration, but when none came, he met Todoroki's utter lack of tact with familiar provocation. “You--- you're unfuckingbelievable. I'm revoking your Flirt Card ‘cause you suck at it.”

The Beta rested his cheek against the inside of Bakugou's sticky knee. “Is that so, Romeo?”

Ooph, he just played himself.

“Your balcony is above mine, you literally walked right into that scenario and you know it.”

Todoroki absently scratched his fingers over the bandages mummifying his abdomen, rolling his eyes. “Who knew you could be so charming?”

“Fuck off and die, I'll charm the crap outta you.”

“I'm swooning.”

Fuck off.”

“Speaking of, that was…” Todoroki's speech trailed, touching his fingers to his face and rubbing sticky cum between his thumb and index finger, channeling his inner daytime TV homicide detective or some shit.

“The time of your life.” Bakugou supplied with a wolfish grin.

“...gross.” Todoroki finished lamely.

Bakugou barked a laugh, “Fuckin’ nasty. Look at you, you're a gorgeous fucking mess.” He reached out, grazing his fingers through a tacky line dripping down his face. It stuck out in beautiful contrast to the dark skin of his scar in streaks and spatters of white, perfectly imperfect. Todoroki was art in human form, a fleshy canvas onto which he'd paint his feelings again and again, a layered masterpiece of cum and bruises.

Eat shit, Jackson Pollock.

Todoroki eyes fluttered shut, leaning into the fingers playing over his face.

Gorgeous was an understatement, his traitorous brain churning out soft as fuck adjectives like ethereal and words he's only come across Once Upon a Standardized Test Nightmare like pulchritudinous. Even that ridiculous a word couldn't hold all that Todoroki Shouto was between two distant consonants.

He snapped his hand away when his periphery started to color a little too pastel.

“Alright, halftime’s over, half n’ half, get off me.” Bakugou shifted his hips just enough to pull his sweats up and tuck his cock back into them one- handed.

Todoroki's brows pinched, peeking his cumless grey eye open. “Wait.”

“Nap later, asshole, my legs falling asleep under your fat skull.” Bakugou knocked his knee against Todoroki's temple, jostling him to lift his head.

The Beta begrudgingly shifted quasi- upright, eyes narrowed at him suspiciously, “What are you doing?” He sat back on his heels.

“Can’t let that shit dry to your face, keep up.” He pushed himself off the desk and stood, stepping around Todoroki and peeling his bloodied shirt over his head in one fluid motion. Dumped it unceremoniously to the floor.

“Marking your territory, Alpha?” Todoroki stared at him blandly, following Bakugou with his one good eye as he made his way into the bathroom. Or glared, it was hard to tell even when it wasn't bruised to a swollen, watery mess.

Haah?” Bakugou snatched a clean washcloth from the pile above the toilet, running it to sopping under the warm water. “If I wanted to mark my territory I'd piss on it.” He grinned toothily, making the mistake of looking into the mirror to try to catch Todoroki's reflection behind him, only to be faced with his own startling, bruised and bandaged image instead. His grin faltered. Yikes. Ugly was too kind a word. Visually dissecting his wreck of a face, he glanced up just in time to notice Todoroki migrating to his futon. He sat with an all too easy grace despite the obvious hardon creasing his pajama bottoms. Heh. “Oi, getting comfy?”

“Something like that.” Todoroki looked down at his shirt, soaked in spit and cum, and after what Bakugou could only guess was the dumbest internal debate ever unheard, pulled his shirt over his head and plopped it to the tatami. Nudged the whole mess further away from himself. “Can’t you just smear blood over the doorway and be done with it?”

“Still not your God,” Bakugou’s lip twitched, “and I don’t need to mark my damn territory,” He slapped off the faucet and wrung the cloth out with more force than necessary.

“Why's that? Peeing on things too Neanderthal for a classy Alpha like yourself?”

Bakugou whipped around.

“Because you're my fucking mate now.”

It slipped out of his lips like a gunshot, a verbal bullet that ricocheted in the stunned silence between them. Todoroki's lips parted, eyes scattering over Bakugou's face in the ashy fallout of his words, the significance of it forcing the warm bullet in his chest to take root and bloom, bursting lush florals of feeling and curling between the spaces of his ribcage.

Todoroki recovered quicker, the bastard, expression collapsing back into itself, plain and aloof - but Bakugou knew better by now. This look was different, mouth softer where his lips met each other in a line, brows lighter. Gentler. Fonder. He was smiling. “How’s it go? What's mine is yours?”

“And what's yours is mine, to bleed or piss on.” Bakugou replied, tamping the aggressive heat rising on his face by sheer force of will.

“Something about that sounds off, but I can't quite put my finger on it.”

“I'm right,” Bakugou was in front of him now, dropping to a loose squat. He rocked forward on the balls of his feet, holding the damp washcloth in front of Todoroki's face, “so shut up. And don't move.”

Miraculously, he didn't.

Bakugou’s touches weren't tender, or soft, or anything Todoroki's had been. But they were calculated, and they were diligent, wiping at the flaking cum and spit clinging to his plush, stretched lips that Bakugou wanted nothing more than to lean into and pull between his teeth. With explicit purpose, swept it along his cheek, the flushed pink bridge of his nose and finally, his eye; pinching off drying globs of cum and catching little red eyelashes in the fibers of the washcloth in the process.

A knuckle brushed against the dark skin running down Todoroki's left eye as he dragged the washcloth over it, and Bakugou stilled - instantly drawn into a strange, captivating curiosity. Abandoning his task entirely, he ran his fingers over the discolored topography of his scar, sailing over the undulating waves of soft, marred flesh, a deep red sea lapping up against a creamy shore littered with bruises. The rough appearance a stark contrast to the fragile texture of wet tissue paper, feeling as though his skin could melt away under the warmth of his touch alone.

A humid flush licked up his spine as he noticed with a start that the other was staring at him with such intensity his ears popped.

What?!” he snapped, heat rising to his ears.

Todoroki huffed a laugh. “That's my line---”

“Fuck you.” Bakugou dropped the washcloth and reached out, dragging Todoroki by the scruff into a silencing kiss in a hasty attempt to mitigate any further self- inflicted embarrassment.

All too wary of crushed cartilage still smarting under the mangled bridge of his nose, he kissed Todoroki with a languid, experimental sort of slowness he hadn't thought himself capable of. He licked over the smooth roof of Todoroki's mouth; teased his soft little frenulum; ran his tongue along the contours of his teeth. Canines pointed, sharper than an Omega's, but not nearly as defined as an Alpha’s. Perched on the fence cutting between two vastly different worlds tried to define Todoroki in every aspect. His presentation, his quirk and his appearance split right down the middle. But he owned it, fiercely and without compromise. Made a life built of halves into a whole and redefined himself into an infinity of dimensions that Bakugou lost himself in time and time again.

Todoroki tasted like the hospital - the sugar of a fruity Jell- O and the bitter coating of pain medication; blended with the burning sweet of his own nitroglycerin- mixed cum. He lapped up every delicious flavor, coaxing out hungry noises with his tongue and swallowing them up as if they were his last meal on this Earth.

Bakugou eases him back onto the futon as they kissed long and deep, dropping his knees to straddle Todoroki's thighs. His head met the pillow in a splay of peppermint, framing him like a halo in the warm, amber light the sparse fixtures cast over the dark room. Todoroki melts under his attentive mouth, chin tilted up as Bakugou's lips found the gland in his throat again, inhaling his scent and feeling the steady throb of it against his tongue. A building heat coiled low in his belly as he dragged the sharp of his canines over it, sucking the supple skin between his teeth and tonguing a new bruise there.

When Todoroki's heartbeat skipped under his lips, every untamed fiber clinging to his bones broke into a howl, ancient and wild and begging to bite down over that delicious gland - to break skin, flood his tongue with his taste and hold him down with his teeth while he took and took until he'd abandoned his humanity entirely, losing himself to a carnal desire that transcended time and devolving into nothing more than Alpha.

“Katsuki.”

Tug.

His name was the pull at the end of a line, syllables coaxing him back from that feral edge of his cognizance, beyond which he scarcely knew the depth of.

With a grounding breath he circumnavigated the bandages pulled taut over Todoroki's abdomen, fingers sliding through pools of sweat - mapping him out, dragging his fingers across pebbling, dusty nipples and over every stretch of thick muscle and soft scar until he committed each sinewy plane to memory. His fingers followed the wet lines his mouth left as he slipped further down Todoroki's body in a slow descent, hands sailing over new, fleshy territory with every inch he'd discovered first with his mouth.

His nose ran through the thin trail of hair below Todoroki's navel, an alluring smathering of red and white, until his lips caught on the loose knot of his pajama bottoms. He pulled himself up, taking Todoroki's waistband with him between his teeth and let the elastic snap back against Todoroki's hips, grinning wolfishly as his mate jolted beneath him.

“Ready?” He asked, but he didn't need to - he could see the answer spelled out in the dark, heavy look in the other's eyes as he shamelessly palmed Todoroki's cock through his pants, fingers tracing the outline from base to tip, the loose slack to his jaw behind his plush lips as telling as anything. The thick, musty scent of his arousal assaulted his senses, tongue collecting with saliva and belly warming with anticipation, little hairs at the back of his neck standing on end.

“To die of old age.” Todoroki actually managed through the breathy croak of his voice, shifting up onto his elbows to watch Bakugou toy with the dumb knot on his bottoms, twitching every time Bakugou accidentally- on- purpose brushed his hand over his cock.

“Your funeral, then.”

With a smirk, Bakugou tugged down his loose pajama pants and snug briefs in one fluid yank, pupils instantly blown as Todoroki's cock sprung free and laid thick and glistening and perfect against his abdomen, all soft lines and curves. It was swollen to a pretty red, full and beaded at the tip with a pearl of precum. Bakugou forced himself to swallow before his saliva ran out of his mouth, drooling like a fucking dog with the sight, the scent.

Damnit, you're beautiful.” He panted aloud despite himself, eyes dragging over the narrow of his hips to the faint taper of his waist, trailing up the thick column of his bandaged torso to the sweat stretched over his broad chest. Then back down, licking the taste of his scent from the roof of his mouth. Todoroki's whole body flushed up under his weighty stare in blotches of pinks, eyes going hazy, breath audibly catching. The low blink of Todoroki's heavy gaze was suddenly too fucking much - Bakugou tore his eyes away to press his lips to his sticky knee, mouth trailing down in nips and licks to where his scent was strongest.

“Wait.” Todoroki rasped. Cleared his throat.

“Fucking--- what now?” Bakugou groaned against the inside of his thigh, lapping the slick sweat from his skin there. He wanted to lick it off every plane of his body until he dehydrated from the salt of it.

“Not your mouth.”

HAAH?” he growled, sharp eyes darting up, “Something wrong with my mouth?”

“Besides its unfortunate proximity to your broken nose?”

Huh---” Oh. “That's your doing, remember? Take responsibility and own up to the bloody crotch consequences.”

“Or,” Todoroki began casually, astoundingly diplomatic despite having his pants pooled around his ankles and a cock near to bursting between his legs, “You could use your hand, and kiss me again.”

Oh- er.

A toothy grin split Bakugou's mouth, “Needy, aren't you?”

“What, can’t multitask?”

The challenge stretched his grin all the way up to his gumline, crawling back over Todoroki until their lips nearly brushed, almost cross- eyed to meet each other's lusty gazes. “Shut it, half ‘n half, I'm talented as hell.”

Todoroki only hummed like the complete bastard he was and chained his arms around his neck, hands sliding through the sweat coating over his skin. With that low, even timber of his voice that always commanded his attention, he breathed him in, “Prove it.”

Bakugou bared his teeth in a flash of white, the Alpha in him slipping out with a feral growl as he reached between them and curled his thick fingers around Todoroki's cock, swallowing his stuttered gasp whole in a searing kiss that bruised and tasted of hospital Jell-O and copper. His nostrils flared as he breathed sharp through the spidering pang under his nose, filled with the heady scent of his mate's spiking arousal oozing out of his pores and enveloping every nerve in his body to sizzling. The rough calluses of his hand caught on the velvet soft of his cock with each squelching twist of his wrist, squeezing and stroking him to a mess beneath him as he devoured his mouth from the inside and out.

Todoroki was remarkably less chatty on the receiving end of whatever this was supposed to be, and thank fuck for that. It made any noise he could pull out of him all the more rewarding; lewd little ah's growing in pitch with every stroke of his hand and unstrung syllables of Bakugou's given name between increasingly uncoordinated kisses.

Hands were in his hair, scraping along the edge of his bandage, then down - fingers dragging ragged, red lines down Bakugou's shoulders, each renewed grip freckling his skin in red, stinging crescents. Todoroki was close, Bakugou could tell he wouldn't last much longer - he's been halfway there since internalizing his rut on the balcony, all those foreign hormones gathered warm and tight in his belly, muscles jumping in tune with the sloppy suctioning of Bakugou's fist racing over his cock, tip slipping between his sticky fingers. He played over the wet, dripping head with every upstroke and thumbed the thick vein of the underside, pressing against sensitive bundles of nerves that had Todoroki arching and rocking into his hand. He shifted a breath’s distance to take him in, beautiful face painted over pink and obscene, a captivating kind of wrecked that had Bakugou throwing all inhibitions to the wind in favor of taking Todoroki apart in his hand piece by fucking piece.

He had him brilliantly teetering on the edge with every slick pump, watching him bite his lip white, mismatched eyes glossy and unfocused on where Bakugou had him straddling the line between euphoria and absolute ruin. Intoxicated on the thick scent of Todoroki's peaking arousal, brains misted over, he dragged his chapped lips up, hot against the shell of his ear, voice as husky and unrefined as broken tinder.

“You gunna come for me, pretty boy?”

He could smell Todoroki's orgasm before it hit him, his scent spiking the moment something in Todoroki dislocated, cracking the impenetrable wall of his restraint straight down the middle, raw pleasure gushing through the chasm and wrinkling his nose, eyes pinched and mouth falling open around a wet hiccup of a sound. His hips drove straight off the futon as he came with a strangled cry, spilling warm and sticky into Bakugou's palm and over his fingers in thick spurts of cum.

Todoroki captures Bakugou's mouth in a delirious, ungraceful kiss at the end of his release, sighing long and poetic into his mouth.

Bakugou, suddenly spent on every level one could be spent, unceremoniously dropped his whole weight over him, heedless of his fucked up ribcage, and the rest of his dreamy breath came out a wheeze.

“---Ow!” Todoroki hissed, lips sliding apart with a wet shmk, “Get off me, you're heavy.”

Bakugou rolled off him to starfish out with a grunt, “You pronounced thank you wrong, asshole.”

Todoroki made a noise Bakugou couldn't discern as he caught his breath, resting his eyes in the hazy comedown. When he opened them again, he lulled his head to the side, catching Bakugou's gaze and holding it, charged and lengthy - the filthy debaucheries they'd exchanged falling away to the brilliant intimacy of just watching each other breathe.

Todoroki broke the enraptured stare first, eyes dropping lower over Bakugou's face, and Bakugou was starting to learn what that meant, what Todoroki wanted - the taste of it still fresh on his tongue.

He watched Todoroki's pupils swell where they were locked on the center of his face, lips twitching and breath catching as Bakugou leaned in to press their mouths together, the sliver of atmosphere between them milky and warm in the aftermath of all they had shared.

Mrrph---?!”

The creamy mood instantly spoiled over as Todoroki caught Bakugou's mouth with his whole fucking hand, and he was suddenly forced to reevaluate how perceptive he really wasn't. This mate bond thing was turning out to be less intrinsic mind reading and more a barely parrying urge to commit domestic homicide.

“Disgusting. You're bleeding again.”

Bakugou twisted away from the bastard’s palm, snarling, “Oh for fuck's sake---” and launched himself upright, grabbing the washcloth he’d abandoned earlier and pressing it to his face until the molassesy flow staunched for the umpteeth fucking time. He wiped his sticky hand off on it while he was at it. There was no saving this thing, soaked with so much bodily fluid Bakugou wouldn't be surprised to find it autonomous in court and he'd have to bury it somewhere sacred in accordance with the law.

Todoroki stretched back into his pants like a cat, all long limbs and oatmeal spine while Bakugou busied himself making spite- fueled deals with his own face, sitting up to fold his legs underneath him, “Maybe you should go back to the hospital.” He offered unhelpfully.

“It's fuck o'clock at night, the only place I'm going is in your shitty futon, so move over.” Clotting demons appeased, Bakugou carelessly tossed the biohazard over his shoulder, pulling the cover to Todoroki's futon out from under his ass with a swift yank.

Todoroki was forced to roll onto the tatami. “Okay, you can stay I guess,” he began, as if he was really considering forcing Bakugou to vault back over an icy railing in the dead of night. Bakugou wouldn't put it past him, the freak, “but...” he continued warily, planting himself at the very edge of one side of the futon, chin angled down as he silently calculated the space left over, “...there's not enough room.”

Some people just suck at math.

Fortunately, Bakugou was enough genius for the both of them - Todoroki's a lucky bastard.

“There is if you're not a fucking coward,” Bakugou replied, tossing the quilt up just enough to crawl under it onto his side, arm beneath him outstretched across the top while the other held the blanket open.

Todoroki regarded his (generous) invitation with thinly veiled sleepy amusement, a sated, all- encompassing tiredness drawing over him in palpable lines, blinking slow and heavy, “You never struck me as the type of person who liked to cuddle.”

Bakugou's hackles sprung up, baring his teeth as his face flared hot, “Who likes to cuddle, you sappy shit? It's a tactical sleeping arrangement.” His grip on the blanket tightened, thrashing the tented space his outstretched arm created impatiently.

“... ...tactical sleeping arrangement.” Todoroki parroted in that monotone droll of his, easing himself into the futon anyway. He pillowed his head on Bakugou's bicep, resting his arms loosely in front of him.

Exhaustion was swiftly catching up with them, rounding down the cut shape of their shoulders and settling over their bleary eyes.

Bakugou's chewed down on a yawn, smothering the tail end of it into his shoulder as Todoroki settled in. “...ah, fuck--- yeah, you deaf or something? That's what I said.” He let the quilt fall over them, pulling his arm into the warmth.

Their voices began to taper off in volume as a heavy fatigue gripped them, slipping off into soft spoken puffs of breath.

A stifled noise. “...are we back on Da Vinci again? Are my guts in danger?”

The sleepy fuck was in perfect strangulation distance, and he'd deserve it, mate bond be damned.

DiCaprio---” Bakugou sucked in another yawn, “and the only thing in danger is my god damn bedtime---”

“Mhn, so that's it?” Todoroki cut in, murmuring through the space between them, “We have a mate bond now?” He closed his eyes, sighing long and content.

Bakugou sniffed, reaching up to rub at his nose, thought better of it, and dropped his hand back down. Wiggled the itch out of it instead. His words slurred, colliding together over his tongue, “Wha, you expectin’ me to make bracelets or some shit? Yeah that's fucking it.”

It was a while before Todoroki responded, and Bakugou wondered if the sleepy fuck had knocked out before him until he sucked in a breath, releasing it slow and tired, “Who should we... tell first...?” His voice was quiet, a whisper barely above the glittery patter against the balcony door. It was snowing.

Bakugou yawned again, wide and loud, drowsy eyes falling shut. “What's there to tell? Everyone will smell it on us tomorrow.”

“... ...okay.”

The silence stretched.

Bakugou’s mouth twisted, peeking an eye open, “Okay...? Just like tha---”

His heart actually skipped.

All the visible lines of Todoroki's face had melted, brows smoothed and cheeks soft. Plush lips were gently parted, breath ghosting against his arm delicate and warm. His chest rose and fell in an even rhythm, messy hair slipping in front of his face, unguarded and tender.

Shouto.”

Silence.

Bakugou stretched out a leery hand, sweeping his hair back away from Todoroki's forehead, fingertips brushing over the marred flesh of his scar. He exposed the whole of it, stretched up to his hairline, and traced down the outskirt, mapping over the broken outline. Todoroki's eyes moved a little behind the almond shape of his lids, thick lashes feathered and quivering against his cheeks, but his breathing remained slow and deep.

Affection swelled through the spaces in his chest, spreading warm from the center, ebbing through the hallows of his bones and lapping against his edges, transcending outwards from there.

“Okay…” he whispered.

With Todoroki fast asleep, Bakugou slipped his hand into the one resting palm- up by his face, lacing their fingers together loosely. His hand was cold to the touch, and as he adjusted his grip their wrists brushed, the connect of their scent glands sending a flurry of tingles up his arm. A lick of anxiety razed through him, warming his nape as he watched Todoroki for any sign of disturbance, gaze scattering and hairs of his arms standing on end. But with no more rut left to pass through him, Todoroki only shifted in his sleep, tucking his chin towards his chest and curling his hand into Bakugou's with a sigh. His fingers fit perfectly between his own, like they were made to be there, cool pads snug amid the bruised juts of his knuckles.

Pressing his face to the pole where red met white, the tingles faded back, gradually and slowly, until all that was left was the thrum of their pulses, a fluttering beat of birds wings under their skin. Bakugou was lulled by that slow, cadenced rhythm of their hearts, and awoke the next morning with his mate between his arms and the culmination of their bond caught between their wrists.

And if Bakugou spent a solid minute wagging the feeling back into his limp noodle arm after Todoroki's fat head crushed the feeling out of it while the sleepy fuck just watched, well, that was neither here nor there.

New snow collected in the panes of the high windows, reflecting the morning sun in blinding streams of light cutting across the classroom as glowing pillars, catching dust particles twinkling between their sharp edges. The soft hum of the heating units easing the chill from the air was drowned out by the rowdy din of students chattering away over their desks.

When Bakugou kicked open the doors and the whole room didn't immediately upend itself in the chaos of a new mate bond scent at first whiff, he was put on edge. Tension knotted itself in lines of his shoulders as he slunk across the linoleum, fists buried deep into his pockets and lips pinched in a scowl.

“Welcome back to the world of the living, man!” Kirishima shouted over the raucous from across the room, flagging him down with an obnoxious wave Bakugou was pretty sure he'd be able to see the motion blur of from space, “We were worried about you!”

“Worried about wha---” Bakugou had barely made it halfway to his desk when a sickeningly sweet scent punched into him, syrupy and thick and stinging awful under the bridge of his nose. Instinct pullied a growl from deep within his chest, lips stretched around canines bared to the gumline, “who the fuck reeks?!” His nose wrinkled despite the tender flesh still coloring the middle of his face in ugly purples and blues.

“Fiiiirst of all, you got no room to talk.” Bakugou plunked his backpack down and Kirishima slung an arm around his shoulders, leaning his weight into him with a toothy smile that rivaled the sunlight spilling across the floor. “Kaminari’s just on his heat and forgot to renew his suppressants, chill out.”

His growl tapered off at the back of his throat, hackles easing back into place. Ah, so that's it. They just couldn't smell his mate bond over Kaminari's depravity. He made an ugly face at the source of the disgusting smell.

Kaminari looked like death warmed over - his head pillowed against his arms over his desk, damp hair sticking to his nape and forehead, coated in a layer of sweat Bakugou could actually taste the sweet scent of where his nasal cavity met the back of his tongue. Omegas smelled cloy to Alphas, intensely so during their heats, like their skin candied and blood ran saccharine, luring Alphas into their honeyed gravity.

But Bakugou didn't have a single sweet tooth in his entire fucking face.

And god damn, Kaminari smelled like a Tesla coil built in a Hershey factory, the heat of a staticy friction burning chocolate to the bottom of a pan, rising up bitter and toothrot warm.

Bakugou's lip curled, “Is that why you were so fucking useless at the training grounds, you had a heat coming on?” He briskly rolled Kirishima off his shoulders, hooking his shoe in the leg of a chair and yanking it out from under his desk, dropping heavily into his seat. Spread his legs, took up space.

“Useless is just his natural state.” Sero chimed in from over a haphazard pile of study things on his desk.

“Hey,” Kaminari finally picked his face up from between his arms, the creases from his shirt sleeve marking his forehead in weird lines, “This could all be avoided if you just formed a pack with me.”

Bakugou's brows shot up.

Sero was guiltless, “I don't want any part of that.” He used his pen to motion to Kaminari's sweaty everything.

“C'mon,” Kaminari stretched himself across the desk as far as he could go without his ass ever leaving his seat, “Be a pal. I'm getting carpal tunnel from jacking off. My dick's chaffed.” Kaminari huffed childishly, lips pushed into a pout.

“Gross,” Sero dropped his pen into the seam of his textbook with a frown. “No.”

“Whyyyy?” Kaminari whined, reaching for Sero’s wrist. His scent jumped and every Alpha within a four desk radius flared their nostrils. Sero didn't even blink. “Can't be that bad if Todoroki did it with Bakugou! They're not even friends!”

“I'm right fucking here.” Bakugou snarled, fighting the rising heat in his face tooth and nail. They didn't know, they didn't fucking know---

Sero ignored him and yanked his arms to his side defensively, abandoning his text, “What's in it for me?”

“Uh,” Kaminari eyes grew in what Bakugou supposed he meant to be cute, but he really just looked Extra Stupid, knowing full well there was zero advantage on a Beta's end to scent marking with an Omega, “what about my undying friendship?”

Sero didn't miss a beat, “Hard pass.”

“Brutal,” Ashido cackled. She wasn't even pretending to be studying at this point, turned completely around in her seat, straddling the spokes to the backrest and giving this stupidity her undivided attention.

“What about twenty dollars?” Kaminari countered, crowding into Sero's space now. His desperation rolled off him in a sweet fever.

This close, Sero's nose actually twitched, and he leaned back in his seat until he was balancing the chair on two legs. “Something about accepting horny money rings vaguely illegal.”

Kaminari was undeterred, “Fifty dollars.”

“No.”

The sparky Omega’s lip tic'd, “One hundred dollars?”

“... ...I'll think about it.”

“You're the worst---!”

Their dumbass conversation fell away as a familiar scent intercepted the one stinging and gross under his nose.

Bakugou smelled Todoroki before he saw him, the soft scent of clean soap and spearmint and what he vaguely recognized as himself - woodsmoke and warm spice, liberated his senses from the putrid sweet rank of Kaminari's decadent heat. And when he stepped through the door---

---no one reacted.

The fuck?

Todoroki instantly looked confused, which didn't appear any different from his normal expression or rather the lack thereof; but as someone who's been watching him on wavering levels of self awareness for fuck knows how long, Bakugou could see it in the faint wrinkle between his straight brows, the stiff line of his shoulders, and the miniscule tightening of the grip he had on his messenger bag. He had no idea when he'd come to discern the subtle differences in Todoroki's expressions - maybe this mate bond granted a clarity that otherwise would have been lost to him. Or maybe that’s as bullshit as the intrinsic connection thing they’d been force fed all their lives and Todoroki's poker face game was just weak as hell today. Regardless, from the looks of it, Todoroki had been expecting the same uproar Bakugou had - or at least one similar to the absolute riot their pack bond scent had incited.

But Todoroki, Beta blessed that he was, couldn't smell an Omega heat from a distance if his life depended on it. Feeling merciful, Bakugou silently jabbed a thumb in Kaminari's direction, wrinkled his nose, and hoped Todoroki was good at charades. It took anywhere between thirty seconds and a year before understanding washed the crease from between Todoroki’s brows; he mouthed an oh and slipped into his seat.

A moment later the bell rang and that was fucking that on that.

The complete and utter lack of notice of a bond he knew to be potent in its obviousness was a simmering unease beneath his skin, but with nothing more to go off of than Kaminari's surgery stink, and a grade to salvage from the ruin his rut had brought about, Bakugou forced himself into his studies, to his training - tenaciously, viciously. Lost to his own extremes, he barely saw Todoroki the rest of the day, but his scent lingered behind him like an apparition - sometimes it was so close, so powerful that when Bakugou closed his eyes, it felt almost as if Todoroki were standing in front of him; his tongue pooled with Todoroki's taste, fingers twitched with the memory of everywhere he’d touched, imagination playing back the way last night's winter moon had washed the white of his hair to glowing at the back of his eyes. His scent completely colored over his faculties, each inhale an artful stroke that painted a brilliant landscape of vivid sensory detail.

So how?

How can no one else smell this--- smell them?

That evening, he solved a total of six and a half calculus equations before the curiosity that’d been building in his gut all day finally ran over, restless and furious with it. He scaled Todoroki's balcony, flinging his door open with an agitated snap.

“Oi, halfie, do you think we did something wro--- what the ever- loving fuck?!”

Bakugou gripped the doorframe, sparks shooting out from beneath his palm in little fizzles as the scene in front of him froze over in its frame.

With his lower half tucked beneath his kotatsu, Todoroki stared at him will all the aloof indifference of someone who had grown fully accustomed to being interrupted. And as if what he was doing--- what he was letting be done--- what he was letting Midoriya do to him, was entirely fucking normal and not at all some kinda fucky breach of their mate bond. His lips were poised over a bendy straw stabbed into a juicebox, midsuck. The cord of his neck stretched, adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed his drink.

Across from him, Midoriya was cradling Todoroki's arm outstretched between them, bent over the creamy underside of his wrist. He had his nose pressed to the gland nestled among the blue veins running beneath his mate's tender skin. Midoriya's eyes bugged like an animal caught in a pair in headlights, anxiety rolling off the Omega in palpable waves that smelled sweetly bitter under the bruising of Bakugou's nose like spoilt fruit.

“Uh, h- hi Kacchan…!” Midoriya instantly dropped Todoroki's arm, knees knocking against the underside of the kotatsu as he scrambled backwards on his ass in a red- faced panic, “what're you doing h--- it’s not what it looks like--- oh my g---!”

Todoroki's back met the tatami before Bakugou's feral brains caught up with him, hands fisted in the Beta's shirt as he loomed over him, a deep snarl on his lips as his scent crashed over the room like fallout from the epicenter of a nuclear meltdown, searing and cloaking the room in sizzling thick fury. The drink Todoroki had been nursing flew out of his hand, contents spilling out as it skittered across the floor.

The violent shiver his scent ignited in Midoriya suddenly locked up, rigid and stiff as he tucked his chin towards his chest, averting his eyes and sucking his bottom lip between his teeth, brows drawn down into a line.

Beneath him, Todoroki's hands merely twitched at his sides.

“---hatthefuckwhatthefuc---”

“Katsuki,” Todoroki began, infuriatingly nonplussed for having a wholeass human being on top of him, “my juicebox.” Then again, his priorities have always been a little screwy.

(Unimportantly, because he just was, Midoriya mouthed Katsuki?)

Fuck your juicebox, asshole, answer!” Bakugou snarled, mouth slashed white and sharp. He renewed his in grip in Todoroki's shirt, dragging him halfway off the floor until their eyes crossed, “What the fuck is happening here?!”

Juicebox forgotten, the mourning phase passed and acceptance settled in, Todoroki circled his hands around his mate's wrists - one unnaturally warm, one unnaturally cool, and firmly pried his hands from his shirt. “I told Midoriya we’re mate bonded now.” He said so plainly Bakugou saw instantly red.

Incessenced and blinded by it, Bakugou used Todoroki's own grip to shake him, “The fuck does that have to do with what you were--- what he was--- that's none of his fucking business, nosey little---”

Todoroki released him so he didn't bobble himself silly, “You expected everyone to just smell it on us, anyway,” Todoroki cut in, “but when nobody did, I had to wonder…” Trailing off briefly, he settled back on his palms when Bakugou made no move to vacate his lap, “Midoriya was just trying to smell something, anything, and has a few theories, if you'd like to join us.” He pat the space beside him and Bakugou had to actively restrain himself from just killing the bastard on the spot.

One witness is one too many.

The snarl at the back of Bakugou's throat cut off, balling his crackling hands into fists at his sides. He remained firmly planted in Todoroki's lap, because fuck this guy. And that guy. No one tells Bakugou Katsuki what to do.

Theories?” Bakugou spat, twisting around just enough to bare his teeth while still crushing the life out of Todoroki's legs, multitasking like a goddamn champ, “We ain't in Baskerville, Shitlock, the hell kinda theories you think you got?”

“Go on then, Midoriya.” Todoroki translated patiently.

When Midoriya was finally able to peel his chin off his chest in the shivering wake of Bakugou's wildly possessive scent, he looked between them, clearing the submissive squeak from his voice with a practiced savvy, “Uh, right!” He started, bopping a fist in the palm of his other hand, “When Todoroki told me you were mate bonded, Kacchan, I thought it was strange that I couldn't smell it,” he shifted, folded his legs beneath him in a seiza, “especially because your pack bond was so vivid a change from your normal, uh, smells. Er, your smell. I couldn't really catch Todoroki's scent. Anyways, mate bonds are much more intimate a scent, I've read, than pack b---”

Who's intimate?” Bakugou spat it like it was dirty word, “And what's this, Biology 101? Get the fuck on with it!”

Todoroki stared at him pointedly.

So Bakugou sat a little heavier, feeling spiteful.

Payback's a bitch.

“Y-yes, well,” Midoriya smelled like the woods - thick foliage, clean air and wet earth; but the anxiety rolling off him hung under his nose like the peaty rot of leaves, “I don't suppose Todoroki's mentioned he could still smell you, even after he broke off your pack bond, did he?”

Todoroki flinched beneath him, but it was probably just his circulation’s last ditch effort to make it out from under Bakugou's ass before his lower half died a slow, tingling death. He honestly looked more harassed by Midoriya's interrogation than the fact that Bakugou was still sitting in his lap, “Ah, well…---”

“---huh?” Bakugou groused, brows gathering, “Betas can’t smell anything beyond a foot away even if they had a gun to their heads.”

Todoroki shot him a challenged look.

Midoriya scratched his freckled cheek, “They can if they're mate bonded.”

“What the fuck are you trying to s---”

“Then what about you?” Todoroki found his voice again just in time to cut Bakugou off, “You said you could smell me, even when I wasn't around. Alphas shouldn't be able to smell a Beta from a distance, and not without purposely seeking it out.”

Bakugou's blood pressure climbed, “I could smell space debris on my rut, for fuck’s sake, you ain't special.”

“And when you weren't on your rut...?”

Bakugou's brains short- circuited for a hot second.

“We can't all be as amazing as me.”

“That's not possible, Kacchan.”

“Listen, nerd, the only impossibility is---”

Todoroki clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, contempt rolling off him as an annoying tickle under Bakugou's nose, “Is it ever possible, Midoriya?”

“Mhn,” Midoriya nodded, “Alphas can smell Betas just as Betas can smell Alphas,” he began to pick at his cuticles in his lap, “if they're mate bonded to them.”

Bullshit,” Bakugou snarled, latching onto Midoriya's hypothesis only to gnaw holes through it, “We've only been mate bonded since last night!”

“Oh!” Midoriya's nose twitched, “Is that why your desk smells so much like Kacchan, Todoroki? Were you studying last night too?”

“Something like that.” Todoroki replied, tongue in cheek.

Midoriya blinked owlishly as Bakugou's mouth ran comically dry.

“He's better at math.”

Fuck you,” Bakugou snapped before this shameless idiot could expose them any further, jabbing a finger into his chest, “And fuck you, too, Deku - you gunna sit here regurgitating some Wiki article on shit I already know or come up with some real answers?”

Katsuki.” Todoroki hissed.

Lieutenant Dan.” Bakugou mocked.

Todoroki made a face. And a sad attempt to move his legs, but couldn't. Fucking finally. Bakugou's ass was starting to cramp. He shifted his weight and sneered.

Small victories were always short- lived.

Midoriya sat back on his heels, wringing his hands, “I'm just thinking, that maybe the reason no one smelled the change on either of you is because there was no change.”

Bakugou's grin fell, “The fuck's that even mean you cryptic sonofa---”

“None of us know what a pack bond is supposed to smell like, Kacchan, it's not a thing anymore,” Midoriya interjected quickly, pushing the tips of his index fingers together in a nervous manner, “but usually, from what I've read, pack bonds are initiated by a mated pair, so---”

So?!” Bakugou screeched at the same time Todoroki blanched a stunned oh my god. Whether in reaction to Midoriya or from getting his eardrums blown out was moot.

So…!” Midoriya's smile wobbled as he inhaled deep, “soooo, since pack bonds and mate bonds are formed the same way, scent marking at the wrists and neck, maybe you thought you were just pack bonding but really you had---”

Bakugou had enough of this.

“Oi oi oi oi,” he aggressively cut across whatever bullshit Midoriya was about to drop, “People can't just fucking mate bond with someone accidentally, you turd! They both gotta be in lo---”

The word died on his tongue as a record scratched somewhere in the back of Bakugou's mind, thoughts colliding together like some doofy vinyl slapstick. Needle plucked up and set back down closer to the edge, to an earlier conversation, memories replaying themselves scratchy and familiar between his ears.

‘---besides, it'll smell different. I'm not going to explain fucking chemistry to your dumb ass. Just know that without any gross feelings, the bond smells different.’

A dawning realization began to crawl up the back of his skull, sapping the color from his face.

Feelings.

Feelings.

“Uhm…?”

It was then that Midoriya seemed to sense the peculiar energy in the room hanging thick and charged, looking between them before finally taking the god damn cue to fuck off.

Bakugou could barely hear Midoriya mumbling a quick you got this, goodnight! and stepping out of the room over the raucous tune of his thoughts realigning to a new pattern of grooves.

The click of the door triggered a skip in the needle, this one echoing deep inside his head and reverberating off the contours of his skull until his head rang with it.

Feelings---

When was it, exactly, he had begun to think of Todoroki as someone other than a rival? Of something more than a friend? When had he begun to seek strength in his tenacity, or comfort in his silence? When was the last time he imagined his future without Todoroki in it?

It happened before he was Alpha, before Todoroki was Beta - their presentations not yet born to the glands under their skin.

He could visibly see Todoroki putting two and two together, the wrinkle between his brows smoothing out and seal of his lips breaking, stormy grey and burning turquoise flickering over his face in an incredulous disbelief.

Everything made sense at once, a cataclysmic array of scattered dots connecting into a clarity of trajectories and patterns that led up to this moment.

“We've been mate bonded this whole shitting time.”

Fuck.

Fuck!

All this time spent fighting against a metaphorical leash, and it was only now he realized he'd placed the end of it directly into Todoroki's hands at 9:47pm on a Tuesday a year earlier. A year, a whole fucking year. All this time they could've been, could've had---

“Katsuki...?”

A verbal tug on the end of a line.

Thinking back, Todoroki could have easily strangled him with it. Tied their bond so tight around his throat he choked, knotted it like a noose until he was breathless against the force of his own fucking feelings, fuck.

But with the way Todoroki was looking at him now--- maybe the way he's always looked at him, like no one else ever had; seeing something reflectionless beyond the bravado of Alpha, he suddenly knew it was never a leash. More a red string, tangled between them both in the space behind their rib cages, and woven of material infinitely stronger than leather or chain. The ends of which were lost to the tangled course of time - not tied with a perfect, fragile bow, but knotted into a beautifully chaotic mess of loops and twists that only strengthened with each pull.

Thoughtlessly, or maybe with too much thought his brains rationaled doing literally anything else seemed pointless, he pressed their lips together. A brush, and instantly not enough. They met each other again, then again. Every touch a crack of flint to stone until the sparks caught, the world around them flaring alight, razed to ash and dust as they shed their Alpha, their Beta until nothing else was left but them and the bond twisted over their hearts.

A hand on his chest forces a breath of distance between their lips, warmth running like a liquid down the center of his face as he catches Todoroki's polar gaze.

“Katsuki.”

Tug.

Their string knots a little more.

“Your nose is bleeding again.”

Holy motherfucking shitting fuck I swear to g---”

Todoroki absently drummed his fingers over Bakugou's thighs in a light rhythm as Bakugou angrily wiped his nose across his wrist, “Maybe you should stop making dumb faces so it heals.”

Bakugou sniffed, glaring over his arm as he dragged his face along it, white slash of his mouth smeared red, “Shut the fuck up, you love my face, pretty boy.”

Tug.

Bakugou could see the pull as it happened, visualize the connection they'd sewn as a tangible thing stretched between them in Todoroki's fluttered blink, in his scent that was both his and theirs.

His mate made a thoughtful noise, fingers coming to an abrupt stop in the middle of his tempo, “Yeah,” he laughed that airy, small mammal thing, skimming his palms up Bakugou's thighs to a rest at the taper of his waist, “I do.” His lips curved into a soft smile that reached his eyes in such a catastrophically disarming way Bakugou's heart lurched up between his tonsils, beat stuttering over itself as if he'd missed a few steps tripping down a stairwell.

And in that moment Bakugou's never been more fucking thankful for having his face punched in, the warmth flashing over his face concealed under ugly purples and blues.

“I---” he almost choked as his mouth ran dry, almost, because he was astoundingly articulate in his emotions (read: not at all), responding, “think you're so fucking weird.”

Todoroki’s answering scent crooked under his nose, pulling him closer until he was forced to catch himself on his palms, salivating with the taste of it suddenly flooding the back of his mouth.

“Says the smarmy rutfuck Alpha.” Todoroki curled his hand in the soft hairs at Bakugou's nape, just enough to drag him through the heady space left between them with a scrape of teeth, the coppery tang of blood and apple juice washing over his tongue. A pentecost of mutual understanding danced as a fire at their lips, pressing their tactile I love yous into bruised skin and wet mouths until they burned with the intimate fluency of a language all their own.

And Bakugou grinned, all toothy and devastating as he licked the red thread hanging between their lips as the (less spitty, more feeling- y) one connected over their hearts knotted further, tangling too impossibly intricate to ever simplify as just Alpha and Beta.

“That's smarmy rutfuck mate to you, asshole.”