The idea to go to a corn maze had been Uraraka’s, but turning it into a class bonding trip had been all his. Tenya was going to make this class bond with each other if it killed him.
Sure, their third year might be a little late for forced bonding, but in other years they’d had villain attacks to bring them together. This year had been blissfully silent which was great and Tenya was happy for the integrity of UA and his classmates safety, but it had an unfortunate side effect.
There was no closeness. No bonding. Everyone had retreated into their private cliques like the past two years had never happened and they were all strangers. They were not strangers, and Tenya was going to make sure everyone remembered that.
And if he had some of his own agendas to enact in the process, well, there was no shame in that.
“Listen up classmates! I have put in your folders a map of the surrounding area and how to get back to UA should we get separated. Additionally there are the school emergency numbers listed please memorize those and destroy the papers before we-“
Tsuyu raised her hand.
“We have cellphones, Iida. Ribbit.”
Tenya rubbed his forehead. Obviously he knew they had cell phones but they could never be too careful.
“Good point Tsu! But we can never be too careful!”
Tenya took a deep breath. This was gonna be the hard part.
“The last page of your packet contains the name of your partner. These are non-negotiable and Aizawa-sensei has agreed.”
Tenya gestures to the yellow bag in the back of the bus, propped up against Mic-sensei’s shoulder.
“He says yes,” Mic-sensei filled in once he realized that there weren’t gonna be any reactions from the sleeping bag. They’d gotten used to the concept of Mic and Aizawa being married last year, but it was still weird to see them like this. Not because anyone in the class was homophobic or anything, since Mineta had been expelled after an incident and replaced with Shinsou, but because once Mic made Aizawa laugh and they’ve never recovered.
Tenya smiled forcing fake cheer and authority into his voice, and clapped his hands twice.
“There you have it folks! Everyone open your packet!”
The bus was filled with rustling as everyone ripped open their envelopes, immediately flipping to the last page.
The first sound that reached Iida’s ears was Uraraka’s quiet gasp as she saw the name on her paper before she turned to glare at Iida accusingly.
“Sorry Uraraka! You know I had to pair you up with people from other friend groups!” Iida shrugged apologetically. Or at least it appeared apologetic.
He could see Mina blushing out of the corner of his eye. Yeah, this was a great idea.
“Oh! And one more thing!” Tenya stood in front of the door, blocking the exit. Whichever pair finishes the corn maze first will win a prize!”
Screams filled the bus.
Hanta smiled as he saw Kirishima hold up his paper with Bakugou’s name on it triumphantly. Most people were paired with people outside their own friend group but Iida probably knew enough that pairing with Bakugou with anyone else would’ve spelled out destruction for the corn maze.
Iida probably didn’t realize that Bakugou had been slowly pushing Kirishima away in a fit of gaycrisisitis, a disease that ruins at least 4 friendships a year at UA. Some people come out the other side of it okay, like him and Kaminari deciding they would be better off as friends after Kaminari avoided him for a week, then confessed and awkwardly kissed him before Sero had to friendzone him.
Other people, like Monoma and Shinsou ended explosively, causing the rift between class 1-A and 1-B to grow even more. Hanta knew that Kirishima and Bakugou would make it out alive but that didn’t mean that things in the Bakusquad weren’t awkward everytime Bakugou pulled away and they had to watch Kirishima pretend it didn’t break him apart inside.
It wasn’t until they pulled up and saw that it was actually a Haunted Corn Maze that Hanta started questioning whether or not everyone would make it out alive.
Todoroki and Midoriya reluctantly pulled their hands apart as they went to their assigned partners causing Hanta to chuckle quietly to himself. They were the second couple after Yaoyorozu and Jirou to get together which was great for them but meant that they stood no chance of getting paired together for this.
Hanta surveyed the rest of the group, seeing how the pairs had shaken out.
Midoriya was frantically trying to calm down Koda while trying, and failing to hide that he was scared himself; every time he said “it’ll be fine!” his voice went up two more octaves.
Jirou had whipped open the informational pamphlet they’d been handed by the ride attendant and was pointing at different example monsters, while Tokoyami leaned over her shoulder. Every once in awhile they’d scoff at one they deemed particularly bad or give slightly approving head nods towards the ones that passed their test. Yeah, Hanta thought, they were gonna be fine.
Kirishima also has the pamphlet open and was waving it around excitedly as Bakugou looked at him with a soft smile on his face. Once he saw Hanta looking at him though it dropped off, replaced by a scowl and a middle finger thrown in his direction.
Hanta raised his arms in a helpless gesture. His lips were sealed on this situation, plus he’s pretty sure Bakugou had bigger problems. Kirishima always instituted scary movie nights, but Bakugou always found a way to avoid them even before gaycrisisitis has taken over. The explosive idiot was gonna shit his pants. Hanta laughed to himself again.
Ojirou and Tsuyu looked the most unbothered, neutral on the scary part and more interested in the shenanigans and maze as a whole. Ojirou’s tail wagged excitedly as Tsuyu pointed to the lookout structures on either side of the maze, obviously strategizing how to get out of the maze fastest.
Hanta’s eyes fell on Kaminari and Shinsou, and he had to bite back the urge to laugh out loud. Kaminari was utilizing the Midoriya Method aka talking constantly to others and yourself, except Hanta knew it wasn’t because of the millions ideas bouncing around his head. Kaminari hated scary movies. He never abandoned their scary movie nights but he still hated them, and he was definitely going to end up wrapped around Shinsou like a monkey at the end of this. Hanta glanced at Shinsou’s fond expression. Maybe Shinsou wouldn’t mind that so much.
Hagakure was, Hanta thinks, gesturing excitedly at Satou. He could see gloves moving around and her beanie moving side to side. That seemed excited, right? Satou was listening politely while slowly moving them towards the caramel apple stand. Honestly, Hanta respected Satou’s commitment to staying on brand.
Yaoyorozu and Shouji had edged their way over to Tokoyami and Jirou somehow and were currently discussing strategy with each other which they could have done standing five feet away, but the fact that they were holding their significant other’s hands didn’t escape Hanta’s notice. Hanta tried not to be jealous; he supported all his friends love! But it would be nice to hold someone’s hand on a night like tonight too. It was a good attempt to force people to bond with new classmates, but pairing couples up with other couples just turned the pair into a double date.
Mina and Uraraka were over by the larger map, pointing out strategic areas to avoid. Hanta heard Uraraka quietly say the words “and then I could float you here!” pointing to a spot on the board and grabbing Mina’s shoulder. Mina turned pink(er) but Uraraka was too busy formulating a strategy that definitely involved cheating to notice. Poor Mina. Hanta shook his head and looked for the last pairing.
Of course, Aoyama had on blinking jack-o-lantern earrings underneath an orange sequin hat. Gotta be seasonally sparkly. Todoroki’s face was unreadable as Aoyama loudly talked about his fears next to him, but his eyes were focused on something across the field. Hanta followed his eyeline to Midoriya who was still rambling and making Koda look less secure by the second. Of course. Hanta tried not to feel too bitter.
Hanta couldn’t be bitter for too long because his partner was bounding up to him, looking like a very determined and excitable german shepard. The flip his stomach did was completely unrelated to Iida, thank you very much.
“I didn’t realize that it would be haunted!” Iida’s voice was full of concern as he gestured dramatically towards the sign.
“Well,” Hanta started walking towards the entrance where everyone else was slowly gathering, “I don’t think it’s actually haunted.”
Iida rolled his eyes.
“Yes, thank you for that insight Sero.”
Iida’s voice was sarcastic but Sero could see a small smile there as well. He didn’t know why their serious class president let him get away with teasing him like this, but neither Hanta nor the butterflies in his stomach were about to complain.
“Let me just make a few last announcements,” Iida let his sentence trail off as he strode towards the front of the group. Hanta sighed. Hate to see him leave but love to watch him go. Hanta’s butt-related train of thought was derailed by the booming of Iida’s voice.
“Classmates!” Iida’s voice echoed over the crowd, before softening into something apologetic. “I was unaware this would be haunted. If it makes you uncomfortable please let Aizawa-sensei and Mic-sensei know you want to sit out.”
Mic shot them a thumbs up from where they were seated on a hay bale, using Aizawa’s sleeping bag as a blanket and holding two cups of cider. When no one protested or made their way over to them, Iida continued.
“Once again the rules are: stay with your partner and no switching partners. Whoever finishes first wins. No destruction of property. Follow the rules of the maze. And most importantly: no quirks.”
Everyone groaned, Hanta’s pretty sure Uraraka threw her pamphlet down in anger. Without using quirks it was a fair game as to who would get out first, which was surely Iida’s plan. If not, pairing the two of them together would have just been unfair. Of course it was probably just random anyway.
“Okay everyone!” Iidas voice rose above the muttering grumbles of the class.
Tenya could barely move out of the way as everyone shoved together to get in the maze, splitting up once they got to the first three way split in the road.
Tenya sighed. Even with the elimination of quirks from the picture someone was bound to get hurt or cry or both. He just hoped the pairs he’d made on purpose would get through unscathed.
Sero strolled up to him, seemingly unconcerned with the competition or everyone else’s impending doom.
“How many people do you think are gonna get hurt?”
Sero’s question was casual, but Tenya knows he does care about everyone else’s safety and well-being. At least a little bit. Sero, unlike everyone else in their class, just knew how to mind his own business. Tenya sighed as he looked at the other boy. How he wished that could be him. Unfortunately the mom gene was too strong and he couldn’t resist the urge to meddle. Or give himself an excuse to hang out with Sero for the night.
Tenya hasn’t spoken of his crush to anyone. He barely voiced it to himself. The crush being on a boy was nothing new. Tenya cringed as he thought of his hopeless, silent, painful crushes on both Midoriya and Todoroki. But he knew other people would be surprised by his crush on Sero. Sure, Sero was talented but so were other hero classmates. And he was funny, but there were funnier. And to Tenya he was beautiful, but even Tenya wouldn’t give him the most beautiful ranking of people in their class.
But Sero never treated Tenya any differently. Tenya wasn’t dumb, he knew he was high strung and bossy and took everything a little too seriously, and sometimes that meant people in 1-A would talk to him like he was a small child or a teacher.
Sero didn’t do that. Sero made the same jokes to Tenya he would make to anyone else, clapped his hand on Tenya’s back like he was just another teenager. That meant more than anything to Tenya. And then one day he’d looked across the room and saw Sero’s head tilted back, laughing at something Kaminari had said and Tenya thought: oh. Tenya knew that everyone thought him a silver statue, ready to be constructed outside UA but even silver melts at a certain point. And Tenya was melting.
When Iida has said that their partners were non-negotiable, Ochaco hadn’t really thought much about it. Sure, not being with someone from the Dekusquad wouldn’t be great but she would manage. Ochaco was confident in her abilities to get along with anyone. Of course, all of that has flown out the window once she saw Mina’s name. Fucking Iida. Nosy, meddling, motherfucker.
They’d spent the first ten minutes of the maze in silence, other than a few grunts indicating which turns to take or light gasps when people half assedly jumped out at them. Ochaco was pretty sure the beginning of the maze was amateur hour, so she distracted herself from the butterflies in her stomach and racing heartbeat with thoughts of Iida’s impending reckoning.
Ochaco was so preoccupied with contemplating Iida’s slow and painful death that she hadn't even noticed Mina coming up beside her or the “monster” popping out next to them.
What she did notice, however, was Mina’s scream as the monster grabbed at her. Mina jumped backwards, running into Ochaco in the process. Before she knew it Ochaco was on her back with a pinker than usual Mina on top of her. It all happened so suddenly she hadn’t even had a chance to activate her quirk. So not only was she having a lesbian crisis but she looked like an incapable hero. Great. Thanks a lot, Iida.
The moment they spent on the ground seemed to stretch out like a caramel apple between them, sticky and never ending. Ochaco wished she could stay in this moment forever. Or she would, if she wasn’t dying of embarrassment.
“I’m sorry! That one caught me off guard!”
Mina’s voice was cheerful despite their close proximity as she pushed herself up and off of Ochaco. She was beautiful from afar but even more beautiful up close. How was that even fair?
“It’s okay!” Ochaco responded cheeriness covering up the bubbles threatening to escape her heart, taking Mina’s outstretched hand, “I didn’t even see that one!”
The pair continued walking, taking another turn further into the maze. Honestly, the maze wasn’t that scary. There had only been a few people jump out so far and the corn rustled so much it telegraphed their every move. Ochaco scoffed.
“You seem pretty unphased by” Mina gestured vaguely at the maze, “all of this. Aren’t you scared?”
Ochaco smiled at Mina. Interacting with her crush? Nah. Scary mazes? Oh that was definitely something Ochaco could handle.
“Nope! My parents worked so much when I was a kid I barely had any supervision! Which meant I could watch whatever I wanted! Which was horror movies. I started when I was like eight or something!” Ochaco giggled, remembering seeing The Exorcist for the first time and screaming and hiding under her blanket. The adrenaline after she recovered felt like the first time she made herself float, and there was no way Ochaco was gonna let that go.
Ochaco realized that she’d been rambling and cut herself off with a blush. She always made herself look like an idiot around the other girl. Not that it was particularly hard but Ochaco would’ve liked to at least pretend otherwise.
Mina was seemingly oblivious to Ochaco’s gay crisis, instead focusing on tearing her eyes around the maze. Thank god for small victories, she guesses. Neither of the girls even notice that they’re still holding hands until they round a corner, running straight into a guy holding a fake butcher’s knife.
Mina’s scream is all the warning Ochaco has before she’s tugged behind Mina by their joined hands, and Mina shoots a string of acid at the offender. He manages to narrowly jump out of the way before giving Mina the finger and telling her to “fuck off and control herself." Mina panted heavily, scanning around them frantically for the next threat.
Ochaco was thrust into the realization that even though she was unphased by the shit around them, Mina clearly wasn’t. Ochaco takes a second to assess their options before grabbing Mina by both hands and turning her to fully so they’re face to face.
“Follow me. I’ll get you out of here.”
Mina’s hands shook, sending tremors into Ochaco’s arms from their entwined fingers, but she nodded minutely. Ochaco tugged Mina towards a small opening in the maze; the taller girl showing no resistance to Ochaco’s tug. Ochaco sighed in relief as she realized that her guess was correct. The opening lead out to the gap between the maze and the parking lot and they were blissfully alone and free from the chance of a monster attack.
Ochaco sat down on the fence separating the grass from the pavement and gestured for Mina to sit next to her. Mina’s breathing had evened out, eyes boring holes into the ground even though her shoulders were still tense and hand was still shaking where it was laying in Ochaco’s.
“Hey”, Ochaco’s soft voice broke the silence that settled over them, punctuated by screams and the sound of conversations within the maze.
Mina doesn’t meet Ochaco’s eyes, instead focusing on a fraying string on her sweater.
“Hey,” Ochaco says again, this time reaching out and putting her hand over Mina’s. Finally, that gets the other girl to look up. Even like this, embarrassed and with leaves in her hair she’s beautiful, but that’s not the point right now.
“It’s okay. I didn’t realize you were afraid, I’m sorry.”
Mina looked down again, ruining the eye contact Ochaco had just worked so hard to establish. The normally boisterous girl mumbled something under her breath, before breathing in and speaking up.
“I’m sorry!” Mina paused, sounding frustrated with herself, “I didn’t realize I was such a scaredy cat but after everything that’s happened I guess I’m a little jumpy. It’s not very heroic of me.”
Ochaco smiled, squeezing Mina’s hand.
“It’s okay to be afraid! Besides, what you did back there was pretty heroic. Even though you were scared you put yourself in front of me and used your quirk! That’s amazing!”
And Ochaco wasn’t lying. It really was amazing. Mina had one of the most powerful quirks in their class and she’d only gotten better at it over the past few years. Her quick thinking had gotten even better too, even though Ochaco knew that she questioned it based on the stupid rankings that they were placed in.
Mina looked up at her, smiling like she hung the moon. Now that was something Ochaco could get used to.
“I guess you’re right!”
“Of course I’m right! And I say that you’re a hero!” Ochaco paused, debating her next words but something about their secluded spot and the dark clouds above them gave her courage. Adding a flirty note to her voice, Ochaco continued.
“Or, you’re my hero at least.”
Mina’s soft smiled changed into something different then, a little more smug, a little more wicked. Maybe Ochaco hadn’t been prepared for the implications of her flirtatious comment. When Mina spoke her voice was softer and smoother than Ochaco had ever heard it. Ochaco was going to die.
“Well, as long as I can be your hero I guess that works for me.”
Ochaco’s brain short circuited and all she could think was: they still hadn’t stopped holding hands. They were still holding hands. She looked down at them, blush covering her face. This was worse than her crush on Deku. If she looked at Mina now there was no way she’d be able to hide it. Of course, Mina noticed her glance at their hands.
“Oh, we don’t - if you don’t want -” Mina began to pull her hands away. Ochaco had to either say something or risk losing the contact and Ochaco spent too long missing out on the latter. Ochaco was no coward, not after three years of hero training, and there was no way she was going to start being one now.
“I do! I do - I - It’s okay! I do...want.” Ochaco forced herself to look up and smile at Mina, hoping that her feelings weren’t written pathetically all over her face. Or at least if they were, Mina would let her down gently. Mina’s smile turned smooth again.
“You don’t mind?” Her voice was soft, and she seemed closer, somehow. Ochaco hadn’t seen her move.
“N-no,” Ochaco’s voice was equally soft now barely a whisper.
“Do you mind this?” Mina moved her free hand up to brush a piece of Ochaco’s hair behind her ear. Ochaco leaned into the touch, chasing the warmth Mina’s hands provided. Her hands were always warmer than the rest of them, a side effect of her quirk she’d once told Ochaco. And in the fall air it was only more obvious. Ochaco had never thought she’d get this far and really had no idea what to do. All her thoughts were boiled down to the points of contact with Mina; nothing more, nothing less.
“That’s - that’s okay.”
“How about this?” Mina cupped Ochaco’s face with her hand then and Ochaco closed her eyes briefly. This was better than she ever could have imagined. But. But now it was here she was impatient. She knew Mina was waiting for her to say something, but she couldn’t wait anymore. She was here, close enough to touch. And Ochaco wanted to touch. She wanted to touch so badly.
Ochaco leaned in and pressed her lips against Mina’s.
Mina let out a light gasp before leaning in closer and tangling her fingers in Ochaco’s hair. All the adrenaline Ochaco had ever felt was distilled into this kiss, into Mina’s lips. This was the rush of floating, of surviving a horror movie, of defeating a villain. Ochaco wrapped her hands around Mina’s waist and gripped her tighter, fingers tangling into the back of Mina’s jacket.
When Mina pulled back for air she gave Ochaco one of those priceless smiles she was so known for, and Ochaco gave her one in return.
“I could get used to this.”
“Well, someone has to be around to be your hero, right?”
Mina and Ochaco’s laughter echoed across the empty parking lot, both of them too wrapped up in eachother to realize that they were floating two feet above the fence.
Hanta and Iida chatted amicably as they wandered through the beginning of the maze, enjoying the peace so far. Iida had bought them both apples for a snack from the cart outside of the maze, steadfastly ignoring the salesman’s insistence that didn’t he want candy? Or caramel? Iida got them two bottles of apple cider too just to shut the guy up.
That was one thing that Iida and Hanta agreed upon: healthy food. Even though Hanta had a feeling Iida’s was more about righteousness and being a good hero while Hanta’s was mostly based upon the fact that his mom was a health nut and eating healthily reminded him of home.
Oftentimes he would be in the kitchen cooking up some new vegan, organic, paleo dish that no one else would try when Iida would wander in, ready and willing for whatever weird food or vegetable Hanta shoved his way. Iida was great like that.
Right now Iida was craning his head above the maze, trying to keep an eye on all their friends. Their silence had been amicable so far but Hanta wanted Iida to relax. If he was lucky he’d even get Iida to laugh genuinely enough that his eyes crinkled and he showed all his teeth. Then Hanta would know he succeeded in getting their class president to relax. And if Hanta got to enjoy the view while he was at it, well, that was no one’s business but his own.
Hanta knew the best way to begin getting Iida to relax was to talk to him, and the best way to get him talking about something that wouldn’t just piss him off was to surprise him. Hanta smirked.
“So the Uraraka-slash-Mina pairing was on purpose, right?”
You could practically hear the brakes squeaking from how quickly Iida stopped walking.
“I - What?”
“You know, their whole lesbian-crisis-too-afraid-to-make-a-move thing?”
Iida had slowed to almost a stop now, looking at Hanta like he’d just told him the sky was purple or Aizawa had fifteen cats. Aizawa only had five cats, and they both knew it.
Hanta poked him.
Hanta never understood why he was the only one who got away with annoying Iida like this. Or maybe he was the only one that tried. Everyone else seemed to think that Iida was some teacher in disguise, or maybe a small child. Once Hanta had watched Ojirou cover Iida’s ears after Bakugou had dropped one too many “fucks” in a row. Hanta mentally rolled his eyes. This was the guy who had no qualms about yelling scrotum in the middle of a crowded training camp and they were worried about him hearing a few fucks? Ridiculous.
Iida was still shocked. Hanta poked him again.
“I - I did no such thing! Surely that would be an abuse of my group - “ Hanta’s laughter cut Iida off this time.
“Technically, it’s not an abuse of anything. You made a group of two people who are in separate friend groups, that’s what you were trying to do, right?”
Iida hesitated, so Hanta continued on.
“Plus, you know you can’t hide that shit from me! I know exactly how much you love to meddle, Tenya.” Hanta drew out the last syllable of Iida’s first name, make it sing song. The blush that spread across Iida’s face was very, very pretty and something that Hanta would definitely file away for later.
“I felt as though it was important,” Iida pushed his glasses up on his nose, “to facilitate our friends interactions as much as I could. Is it not a heroic duty to help two people find happiness?”
“Cheers, I’ll drink to that, bro.” Hanta lifted his bottle of apple cider to where Iida’s own was listless in his hand, tapping them against each other lightly.
“God, I wish,” Iida muttered under his breath, before looking up at Hanta like he’d just admitted he’d murdered a man. Hanta bursts out laughing, bending over with the force of it.
“Shit, dude,” Hanta forced out between laughs, “I really never thought I’d hear you say that.”
Iida’s face is red as he starts walking forward, leaving Hanta in the dust and trying to leave the memory of what he said there too.
“Hey!” Hanta jogs a few steps to catch up with him, “No shame in the game, dude!”
Iida rolled his eyes before continuing on his way. Sure, Hanta can get away with a lot with Iida but sometimes he thinks it gives him such a crisis of identity that it kind of shuts him down. Hanta likes seeing how close he can get to that line, but today it seems like Iida brought them there all by himself.
Iida’s about to turn a corner when a man with a chainless chainsaw jumps out at them, revving it and filling the narrow corn hallway with the smell of gasoline. Hanta laughs in the guys face before bopping him on the nose. Come on, a chainsaw? Ridiculous.
He turns to Iida, ready to begin a tight five roasting this dude when he sees Iida’s expression. Nothing about Iida’s body language outwardly changed but Iida’s face looks like he’s seen a ghost.
Hanta’s reaching out before he considers if it’s a good idea, wrapping his hand around Iida’s bicep.
Iida’s eyes snap towards him, but Hanta can tell they’re unfocused. Next thing he knows he’s being pushed into a corn stalk with Iida’s hand around his throat.
Denki chomped on his caramel apple as they walked through the maze, chatting like it’s just another day walking around talking to Shinsou. Iida had obviously hoped for people to make “new” friends even though they all already knew each other, but Denki would consider himself friends with Shinsou, even if the other boy didn’t feel the same way. Shinsou just wasn’t part of the Bakusquad, he was more emosquad territory, if he was any squad.
The only difference from any other day where Denki decided to bother Shinsou and Shinsou decided to tolerate for some reason that escaped the excitable blonde was that he was gripping Shinsou’s upper arm tightly and walking close enough to him that their sides were touching.
“-and then Kirishima spit out his milk all over Bakugou, so obviously Bakugou-”
Another pair of kids walked by, causing Denki to jump even though he tried to hide it. Denki really, really, hated scary things. He was used to being scared when he was doing hero stuff, but being scared for no reason, when he couldn’t fight back? Thanks but no thank you very much.
Denki had already committed to ruining his reputation in front of Shinsou even though “ruining” and “reputation” were both relative terms, but he didn’t want it to go completely terribly. If he could stop being so terrified for five minutes he could even appreciate the fact that he was clinging to Shinsou and how nice Shinsou’s bicep felt. Okay, so maybe when he’d said they were friends, he was leaving out his massive crush on the taller boy. Whatever.
Shinsou’s voice was monotone, but something about how unaffected he was by this soothed Denki. Maybe he was overreacting? Denki heard a twig crack behind them. Maybe not.
Shinsou put his other hand on Denki’s shoulder to prevent him from turning around.
“I said, calm down. There’s no one behind us, I already checked.”
Denki breathed a sigh of relief.
“You know it’s a lot easier to say ‘calm down’ than just do it, right?”
Shinsou rolled his eyes.
“Unless,” Denki paused his fear momentarily to allow a smirk to grace his face, “you wanted to use your quirk on me finally.”
Denki had been begging Shinsou to use his quirk on him since they’d met. Reasons varied from pure curiosity to wondering if Shinsou could finally get the constant buzzing beneath his skin to calm down and he could be free from Adderall forever. Part of him just wanted to know what it felt like to have Shinsou in his brain. An even deeper part of him wanted to be that person who could show Shinsou that he could be trusted, that he didn’t have to be afraid, that he wasn’t a villain. But that was just wishful thinking.
Another branch cracked and Denki couldn’t help himself before he snapped his head backwards again. Shinsou let out a sigh when Denki was met with dead air.
“Sorry! Sorry.” Denki scrunched his eyes shut, wishing he could just fucking get over it and grow a pair. Heh, grow a pair. Wryly, Denki adjusted his binder. At least he still had his sense of humor.
“It’s okay, Denki.” Shinsou’s voice was uncharacteristically soothing. Damn, Denki must look really freaked out. Not that Denki wasn’t always soothed by Shinsou’s voice, but right now it seemed like it was something Shinsou was doing on purpose, not just a side effect of Denki’s unfortunate crush.
“Please, Shinsou. Can you just, like, talk or something? Please get my mind off of this?” Denki was pleading now, even though it was pathetic he could hear twigs and rustling around them and even though he knew every movement couldn’t be someone waiting to sneak up on them, his body couldn’t catch up to that thought process.
Shinsou sighed, and Denki braced himself. Of course he would say no. Shinsou tolerated Denki’s friendship, nothing more, and here he was; letting Denki be his partner, hang on his arm, annoy him with his embarrassing fears. Denki cast his eyes towards the ground and braced himself for the inevitable.
“Here, first let’s walk like this. It’ll be easier than you hanging off me. And it might help you feel more safe.”
Shinsou reached over and managed to pry Denki’s arm off his own while Denki processed the information. By the time Denki has finished processing and is aware Shinsou isn’t going to blow him off, Shinsou has his arm snugly around Denki’s shoulders. Denki is going to fucking die.
Denki sighed, reveling in the feeling of safety and warmth he’s getting from the other boy.
“Much. Thank you.”
Denki still hadn’t looked at Shinsou, and he doesn’t dare ask again for Shinsou to talk. Maybe the readjustment was just so Shinsou could avoid having to talk to him. Denki startled when he felt a rumble move through Shinsou’s body into his own as Shinsou let out a groan and started to talk.
“I’m not afraid of stuff like this.”
Denki hid a smile in his shoulder. Shinsou is talking. Or trying to at least. For him. What a good friend because that’s definitely all it is and he isn’t going to let himself get his hopes up again. Not after the embarrassing confession he had to Sero, or how he heard about Shinsou’s rejection and subsequent falling out with Monoma. That was not going to be him.
“I can tell.”
“Have you ever woken up at 2 a.m. to see your parent rummaging through the bag in a blood stained jumpsuit and half zipped up yellow sleeping bag? And then had your parent be Aizawa? Because I have.”
That finally gets a laugh out of Denki then, loud in the silence that they’d created around them. Denki wished he could see Shinsou’s face. He wonders if he’s smiling too. Denki hoped so.
Conversation flowed easily then with Shinsou doing most of the talking for once. Denki would never admit it but he loved the sound of the quieter boy’s voice. It soothed him. Denki’s pretty sure if he could he would fall asleep listening to it.
“-and that’s when Snowball jumped up on the counter, knocking Da-Aizawa’s cup onto the ground, except ‘Zashi was bent over trying to get Oreo’s claws out of the pillow she’d dragged into-”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Denki didn’t want to interrupt Shinsou’s story but they’d been walking for fifteen minutes now with no interruptions from monsters or goblins or anyone sneaking up on them. Denki wasn’t about to complain but it felt too good to be true. Maybe someone had tried to scare them while Shinsou was talking and he hadn’t even noticed? Great hero skills if that’s the case.
“I know, I know, how did Oreo pull an entire pillow into the kitchen?”
“No. Well, yes, but no.”
Shinsou made an inquisitive sound in the back of his throat.
“Why hasn’t anyone bothered us?”
Shinsou didn’t respond. Denki waited, maybe Shinsou had to think about it? Distant screams and the faint rustling of wind through the cornstalks punctuated the silence as it stretched out between them.
Denki stopped walking, forcing Shinsou to stop with him. The hay crunched beneath their feet.
Denki turned his face up to get a look at Shinsou, only to be greeted with an expression he’d never seen Shinsou make before. It was guilty? Or ashamed? A little bit shy? And was that a blush? What the fuck was going on over there?
Shinsou stepped back, releasing his arm from where it had been wrapped around Denki’s shoulders and started cracking his fingers nervously. The cold rushed into fill the space around Denki’s shoulders, followed quickly by his insecurities. What was going on? Shinsou even started chewing on his bottom lip. Whatever he was about to say was clearly bothering him and Denki’s brain was working overtime trying to figure out why.
“I,” Shinsou paused and glanced up at Denki quickly before looking at the ground again, “I used my quirk on one of the first people we saw. You didn’t notice because you were busy trying to get all of the wrapper off your apple. I told him to tell the rest of the staff to stay away from us. Obviously one got through, though.”
Denki’s eyes widened the more Shinsou talked as realization hit him.
“Wait! You used your quirk on strangers!? And you won’t even use it on me? That’s super unfair, dude.”
Shinsou rolled his eyes as he turned towards the path and continued to walk.
“Figures that’s what you’d be focused on.”
Denki starts to walk after him, continuing his train of thought undeterred.
“Well yeah! It’s unfair is what it is! I just want you to use your quirk on me! Come on, Shinsou don’t be such a - wait a second.”
Denki stopped again, only a few feet down the path from where they’d stopped initially as the implications of Shinsou telling the staff to stay away from them at the beginning of the maze starts to set in.
Shinsou finally realized that Denki had been waylaid by his own brain again and stopped too, turning around with an expectant expression. Denki didn’t know what expression he had on himself, but whatever it was as soon as Shinsou saw it everything else dropped off his face and he schooled it into something approaching carefully crafted neutrality. Denki hated that.
“Why would you still talk to me if you knew that no one else was gonna come? Or put your arm around me? You could have just told me!”
Denki’s tone was a mixture of confusion and annoyance. Why didn’t Shinsou just tell him? Denki’s eyes squinted as they glanced around the maze as if the corn could give him the answers Shinsou wouldn’t.
“You asked me to.”
“What?” Denki’s one brain cell pulled itself from where it was working on that puzzle to focus on Shinsou’s downcast expression. Shinsou was cracking his fingers again as he stared aggressively at the ground.
“You asked why I still talked to you even though I asked them not to bother us. And it’s because you wanted me to. So I did. And I put my arm around you because you were scared. And I…” Shinsou trailed off, mumbling the last part of his sentence.
“And I wanted to comfort you. Is that so hard to believe?”
“Uh yeah, kind of dude.”
Denki was smiling when Shinsou’s head snapped up, but it was self deprecating at best and Shinsou didn’t smile in return.
“Usually people don’t do that kind of stuff for me. I mean, I’m sure Kiri would have if I wanted him to, but everyone else would’ve just told me to get over it or something. And you didn’t even have to. I know we’re friends but I just didn’t expect you to go out of your way to do something for just me! That’s kind of wild, dude. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that for me before!”
“Jesus Christ,” Shinsou’s stepped closer now, closing the gap between them. He takes another step until they’re close enough to touch, “You’re an idiot.”
Denki’s nervous laughter fills the space between them. Shinsou is very, very close. Denki’s still laughing, trying to expel some of the anxious energy buzzing beneath his skin when Shinsou raises his hands to cup Denki’s cheeks. Denki stops laughing in the middle of a breath and holds it. Shinsou’s even closer now, their lips practically brushing and Denki is pretty sure he can feel the movement of the earth under his toes, or maybe that’s just his heartbeat.
“You’re an idiot.”
Shinsou’s voice is soft, almost as soft as his lips when he finally closes the distance between them.
Denki sighs as he leans into the kiss. His hands are gripping the side of Shinsou’s sweatshirt and it feels like he’s drowning; like he’s been killed and brought to life; like he’s just used fifteen million volts and come out the other side standing.
Denki’s hands move to the back of Shinsou’s sweatshirt, pulling his body flush against his as Shinsou twines his fingers in Denki’s hair, deepening the kiss. Someone could come out with a chainsaw right now and actually murder him and Denki doesn’t think he’d notice until he was dead. His world had narrowed down to the spot where their lips connected, nothing else.
Eventually though, Denki realizes he has to come up for air and they broke apart, both breathing heavily. Denki shut his eyes and leaned his forehead on Shinsou’s chest.
Shinshou smiled down at him before dropping a gentle kiss onto Denki’s head.
They stood like that for awhile as workers scurried in and out of the area, very careful not to disturb them.
The feel of Iida’s hands around his throat instant dispel any sense of normalcy that Hanta might have been trying to cling to. Wherever Iida was right now, it wasn’t here and Hanta was faced with that realization head on.
The guy with the chainsaw was apologizing frantically and pulling his mask up but Iida couldn’t hear him and Hanta didn’t care enough to. With a flick of his wrist Hanta shooed the guy away from them, but never taking his eyes off the other boy. Hanta and Iida were the same height but Iida had about fifty pounds of pure muscle on him and could crush him in a second. Normally Hanta would be all for that train of thought, but right now all he could do was be worried.
“Iida.” Hanta says again, putting more urgency in his voice. Still, the other boys red eyes remained unfocused and far away. Hanta tried again. “Iida?”
Iida’s eyes were still distant but his hands squeezed tighter around Hanta’s throat. He knew he could escape if he used his quirk but whenever Iida snapped out of this he was going to be a wreck and Sero wasn’t going to just leave him here. Iida’s own words about what a hero would do echoed in the back of his mind. Yeah, he wasn’t going anywhere.
Hanta didn’t know if using Iida’s first name was going to make the situation better or worse but he had no other ideas, and choosing between hurting Iida or letting Iida strangle him, he’d choose the later. Every time. Iida had been hurt enough already, his injured hand was the one wrapped around Hanta’s neck and he could feel it shaking with exertion.
Iida blinked. Iida blinked again and suddenly his eyes were back in focus.
“I - Oh my god - Hant - Sero!” Iida pulls away from Hanta like he’s been burned and Hanta sucks in breaths as he rubs his throat. Thank god.
“I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry, Sero.” Iida hands are fluttering around Hanta torn between wanting to touch and wanting to stay away. His body is half bent in an apologetic bow but he moves to rest his hands on his knees as he breathes in. Hanta didn’t know where Iida’s mind just was, but it was probably a thousand times worse than being pressed into a stalk of corn.
“Iida. Iida! Calm down, it’s okay. You’re okay. I’m okay. It’s okay.”
Hanta can see Iida’s back shaking with unshed tears and knows that it’s only a matter until the boy that’s so often a solid statue of heroism breaks apart in front of him.
“Can I touch you?”
Iida nods imperceptibly so Hanta steps forward, placing his hand on Iida’s back before maneuvering the other boy to sit on the cold ground. Iida sits down heavily, letting out a soft exhale as he hits the ground. Hanta’s pretty sure he’s never seen Iida’s head hang so low or hands so not-expressive.
The hay pokes into Hanta’s pants as he sits down next to Iida.
Iida’s only response is a heavy exhale.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Hanta pauses, waiting to see if Iida will respond, “We don’t have to if you don’t want to but, it seems like something really got to you back there. It might help to talk about it.”
Hanta sat back on his hands, letting Iida settle his breathing and take everything in. They’d all been through a lot these past few years, but Iida had gone through more than most. He’d been the one responsible for getting help at USJ, all Hanta had done was stood there. Then Tensei had gotten hurt, and Iida had gone after Stain alone. And then Iida had been part of rescuing Bakugou. Iida really was destined for greatness.
Iida’s voice was more subdued than Hanta had ever heard it.
“Don’t apologize, dude! No worries!” Hanta forced some cheeriness into his voice as he looked at the other boy. This wasn’t the Iida he was used to, no smile or frown, no steel, no determination. This Iida looked broken. And Hanta hated it. But if he lo-liked the other Iida, he had to like this one too, so he was going to figure out what to do.
“It’s okay to be afraid sometimes, so afraid that you go somewhere else.” Hanta kept his voice light. He didn’t want to push Iida to talk but something in his gut said that Iida just needed permission. How long had he been holding this in?
“I had a full on panic attack after Todoroki trapped me in his ice during the Sports Festival. Something about being constrained like that,” Hanta shudders at the memory, “it fucked me up. Ironic considering how good my quirk is for constraining other people, huh?”
Iida looked up at Hanta finally, red ringing his eyes.
“I didn’t know that.” Determination came over Iida’s face, “You put up a great fight! Todoroki is extremely powerful but I thought you did very good!”
“Thanks, Iida, but you know that’s not the point of what I told you.”
Iida’s eyes traveled to the ground and Hanta had a second to wonder if it was the wrong thing to say, if he should’ve just let Iida take the out and move on.
“The smell…” Iida sat up, grinding the heels of his palms into his eyes, “gasoline.”
Hanta sat up as Iida took in a shuddering breath of fresh air. Hanta didn’t know if this would be allowed but after the past few minutes it was worth a try. His hand was warm where it touched Iida’s knee.
“It’s like when an engine stalls, right? It’s burning up all that gasoline. That’s what my engines smell like too. And to smell that when I’m not running just takes me back to that alley when we,” Iida cuts himself off like he was just realizing something. Hanta quickly put two and two together before finishing Iida’s sentence for him.
“The hero killer. Stain. When you guys fought him.”
Iida nodded before realization took over his face and it morphed into outrage.
“You’re not supposed to know that! We weren’t supposed to tell anyone!”
Hanta’s laughter washed over both of them in the face of Iida’s indignation.
“Dude, everyone knows.”
Iida’s face paled in panic at the implication of Hanta’s words.
“No! Not about the details. Just that you guys fought him, and you got hurt,” Hanta gestured to Iida’s hand, “really bad.”
Iida gazed at his hand, expression unreadable.
“I went to avenge my brother, and Stain took one look at me and knew. Knew I wasn't fit to be a hero. His quirk allowed him to immobilize people. I spent most of the fight on the ground, engines stalling out, waiting to be killed or waiting for Todoroki or Midoriya to die.”
Iida looked up, face like a caged animal, when Hanta put his hand on Iida’s. Hanta picked it up, tracing the scars that wound up Iida’s arm from his wrist. The scars from Stain were bad enough, but in the process of trying to fix it even more scars were added. Hanta hadn’t missed Iida self consciously running his fingers along them when they were training, or adding a long sleeve under his t-shirts they way Midoriya did.
Iida inhaled sharply when Hanta touched his hand to a deep scar on his forearm, one of the places he’d been stabbed.
“Wanting to avenge your brother is natural, Ii-Tenya. It’s not your fault that he immobilized you. He took down plenty of heroes. Todoroki and Midoriya barely won and they’re the strongest in our year. You got beat up enough,” Hanta traced the scar higher, “you don’t need to keep beating yourself up for it. He was defeated by all of you. Not just Todoroki or Midoriya.”
Iida closed his eyes and exhaled a breath that seemed like he’d been holding in for awhile, longer than just tonight.
“Thank you, S-Hanta. Can I call you Hanta now? It feels like you know a lot about me.”
Hanta smiled before releasing Iida’s arm and standing up.
“Of course you can, Tenya!”
Hanta reached down, sticking his hand out. Iida hesitated for a second before grabbing it with his injured hand, letting Hanta pull him up. Once he was standing however, Hanta didn’t stop pulling, bringing him in for a hug.
Iida tensed up for a second before he let himself relax into the hug, wrapping his arms tightly around Hanta. Hanta knew this wasn’t gonna solve all of Iida’s problems or guilt, but maybe he could help relieve some of it. For this moment, at least.
They stayed there hugging, until an employee jumped out, “I vant to suck your bl- oh, uh, sorry guys…” The employee retreated awkwardly into the stalks as Hanta and Iida laughed.
“Anytime, Tenya!” Hanta winked as he drew out Iida’s name, liking the feel of it in his mouth.
Iida’s laughter followed them as they turned to face the rest of the maze.
Katsuki huffed as he slouched forward, angrily shoving his hands into his pockets. This was bullshit. All he had been trying to do was avoid Kirishima, and he couldn’t even manage that. He’d seen the look Sero had given him when they got paired off, that motherfucker knew what was going on and was just letting him suffer. Asshole.
It was either think about how much he hated scary stuff and was definitely going to hate this, or think about how close he was to Kirishima this whole time. How he could just reach out and touch him, pull him into a kiss and ruin all of this. Katsuki wondered if focusing on his fear was better, until he saw a “ghostly” figure make its way on the parallel path to them. For once maybe his thoughts about Kirishima were the safer option.
Kirishima was seemingly oblivious but Katsuki knew better. He could feel Kirishima’s sad looks and dejected reactions every time Katsuki was short with him or ignored an invitation to hang out. He just couldn’t do this, okay?
Katsuki snorted derisively to himself. What was gonna happen? He would confess that he was falling in love with his best friend and then Kirishima would return his fucking feelings (doubtful), and they’d be happy (doubtful) and hold hands (his sweat ignited just thinking about it) and ride into the sunset together and live happily ever after? Not fucking likely.
Kirishima was quiet beside him for once, on the lookout for scary people or anyone else. Katsuki peered at him out of the corner of his eyes. He was beautiful, especially in the fall light, hair down and beanie pulled tightly over his head. The red of his hair, even longer now than their first year, fit the autumn weather perfectly. Katsuki knew if he could get out of his own head they could have fun tonight, make jokes and push each other into the corn stalks around them and it would be like nothing was wrong. But Katsuki could never get out of his own way and tonight was no different.
Sero’s smug knowing smile replayed in Katsuki’s head. Fucking dick. He knew everyone else in the self-proclaimed ‘bakusquad’ had realized something was up, but they probably thought he was just being an asshole or reacting negatively towards Kirishima coming out to them at the beginning of the summer. And it wasn’t that. It really, really wasn’t that.
Katsuki had known he was gay his whole life. He knew he was gay and it was what it was. There was no point in dwelling on it, he was here to be a hero, nothing else. Plus what would he even do with a romantic relationship? That was laughable. He wasn’t dumb. He knew he was fucked up and an asshole and all the other things everyone said about him. He fucking knew, okay.
That’s why it pissed him off even more when everyone told him he had to change. He was fucking trying. It just didn’t work. Until Kirishima came along. Kirishima told him once that he made Kirishima brave, but really it was Kirishima who did the heavy lifting, because Kirishima did more than make Katsuki brave; Kirishima made him good.
He was still peering at Kirishima out of the corner of his eye when someone jumped out to Kirishima’s left, causing him to jump backwards, right into Katsuki. Reflexively Katuski steadied Kirishima with a hand on his back, warmth seeping in underneath the bright red jacket. Katsuki pulled his hand back like he was burned. He might as well have been.
Hurt flashed across Kirishima’s face before he covered it up with a goofy smile. Katsuki’s heart ached.
“Woah! That one got me!”
Kirishima’s laughter filled the maze around them and his eyes sparkled with adrenaline. Katsuki grumbled.
“Pay attention next time, idiot.”
Kirishima didn’t react to Katsuki’s disinterested tone, smile never faltering.
“Hey man! Sometimes I just want to relax and let myself be scared sometimes, you know! It’s hard to sneak up on a bunch of hero students, but if we don’t let them then where’s the fun in the maze?!”
Kirishima gestured while he talked, getting more excited, even as he caught a guy trying to sneak up on them on his left. The guy looked dejected when Kirishima waved at him and slunk back into the corn.
“What about that moron?”
Katsuki gestured to the direction the guy had just been.
“He was too obvious! I can’t let everyone get through, they have to work for it!”
Katsuki was sure that if he wanted to Kirishima would be able to notice every poorly trained lackey before they got the drop on him. Kirishima had spent all summer training and was an even better hero now than he was last year. Katsuki would be proud of him if he wasn’t busy having a gay crisis every time he saw Kirishima with his shirt off. Which was all the time. Stupid costumes.
Even though, Katsuki thought to himself wryly, if he had a chest as flat and carved as Kirishima’s he would be shirtless all the time too. Instead he got stuck in a tank top and sports bra and a prayer his boobs wouldn’t get any bigger.
The corn rustled as someone snuck up on Kirishima’s left, but Kirishima was busy babbling about their latest training exercise where he and Kaminari had gotten the best of Sero and Mina. Katsuki smirked as the guy walked up behind him, revving up a chainsaw.
The first whir sent Kirishima jumping into the air, turning around quickly before backing up into Katsuki, groping blindly behind him to shove Katsuki behind him.
Katsuki tripped over his own feet at the sudden movement, reaching out to grab the back of Kirishima’s shirt so he didn’t fall over. The laughter of the corn maze employee echoed in the maze before he turned around and headed the opposite direction, ready to get another unsuspecting victim.
They both breathed heavily, Kirishima from the scare and Katsuki from the close proximity. Kirishima jumped in front of him. It was nothing, some idiot in a scary maze but Kirishima still jumped in front of him. Why? Why any of this? Why was Kirishima even fucking here?
Katsuki let go off Kirishima’s shirt. If he felt like he was burned before, he was ash now, burnt all the way down to his core. The ground was solid beneath his feet as he took a step back. The ground on his feet. The wind on his face. His eyes screwed shut tightly. The smell of corn. The smell of Kirishima’s cologne and the unmistakable Kirishima smell, like summer rain and warmth. Kirishima. Katsuki’s eyes snapped open.
Kirishima’s face was open like a wound, nerve exposed and concern for Katsuki written all over his face. He shuttered it, putting a carefree smile on and opening his mouth to say something to deflect from the whole situation but it didn’t matter. Katsuki had seen the pity there.
“Don’t, Kirishima,” Kirishima opened his mouth like he was going to interrupt, smile still stubbornly on his face like he thought he could salvage this, “Shut the fuck up. I don’t need your fucking pity.”
The smile fell off Kirishima’s face and it took Katsuki's stomach with it, but Katsuki’s mouth was already open and he was powerless to stop it.
“I don’t need you to jump in front of me like I need your fucking protection either. Or your fucking help. We both know who’s the more capable hero here, and it’s not you.”
It was like Katsuki had left his body and was looking at it from above, held hostage by his own pain and anger and unable to shield anyone from the blast radius; not himself, not Kirishima. Kirishima had recoiled, shrinking into himself like it would be enough to protect him. They both knew it wouldn’t. In the wake of Katsuki’s rage, there would be no survivors.
“Bakugou.” Kirishima choked out, voice tense with emotion that he was trying, and failing, to not let Katsuki see.
“Bakugou,” Katsuki imitated back, feeling the fight start go out of him even as the sarcastic tone left his lips, “Stop trying to fucking fix me. Or help me. Or whatever the fuck you’re doing. I don’t need it. I don’t fucking need you.” His voice cracked on the last word.
And with that, the fight was gone, and Katsuki took another step back, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. This felt right. Destroying something he wanted just to prove to himself he didn’t deserve it. Because he didn’t deserve Kirishima. That was what had started all this.
Sure, he respected the stupid fucker, ever since they jumped together at the same time at USJ. And he sure as shit wasn’t gonna reach for anyone else’s hand in Kamino Ward. But that crush had exploded the closer they got, and then Kirishima had come out and they spent the entire summer on the phone with each other every day, Kirishima rambling about some dumb shit while Katsuki provided sarcastic quips.
That was when the crush had turned into something more serious, something attached to an L word and he knew he had to get the fuck out. Because it was fine to have a crush on someone that wouldn’t go somewhere, but love? Absolutely not. And with Kirishima no less? Katsuki knew a lot of things and above all he knew this: he did not deserve Kirishima.
Katsuki was pulled from his spiraling by the firm pressure of two hands on his wrists, pulling them away from his face. Kirishima was close, too close, wearing an expression Katsuki had never seen before. He looked serious, deadly serious. During a fight Kirishima looked determined, but he usually had a wild smile on his face like he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But this, this wasn’t just determination. It was more than that.
Kirishima opened his mouth, and Katsuki prepared himself for something cloying and sweet, something comforting that Katsuki would never let himself believe. Instead what came out of Kirishima’s mouth was the last thing Katsuki ever would have expected.
“Shut the fuck up, Bakugou.”
Katsuki’s mouth opened, forming a perfect ‘o’ of surprise. It wasn’t the first time that’s been said to him but, Katsuki wracked his brain, probably the first time Kirishima said it. Or said it like that at least. Like he meant it.
Kirishima had released his hands and stepped back, putting distance between them. His voice was still calm, laced with steel that Katsuki had never heard before.
“Stop being a fucking asshole to me. You’re my friend. I don’t know what the fuck your problem is but if you want to sit here and act like you don’t respect me, that’s fine. But you need to get over whatever’s making you do this.”
Katsuki’s mouth didn’t move from it’s position of shock. Halfway through his declaration, Kirishima’s voice had gone desperate, breaking on the last few words like he’d used up all of his resolve making whatever point he had been trying to make. But he still continued talking, tears streaming down his face now and Katsuki was suspended in space still, unable to do anything but stare.
“You’re my best friend, Bakugou. You’re the one who’s words I went to get to Red Riot Unbreakable. You reached for my hand at Kamino Ward. Don’t fucking sit there and act like you don’t care about me because you want to push me away. Whatever it is, talk to me about it, because this bullshit isn’t going to fly with me. I know you better than that, Bakugou.”
Katsuki broke, then. He could feel his knees give out below him, the cold dirt reaching his knees grounding him once he hit the ground. It was too much, this was all too much. He could feel himself breaking apart, the stress of these past few years tearing him apart from the inside. Tears streamed down his face freely now, and he dragged his hands down his face.
A stuttering breath in. A stuttering breath out. The grounding feeling of dirt beneath his knees and his feet. This was fine. He would be fine. He was gonna stand up and brush it off, maybe grit his teeth and apologize, and then he and Kirishima would move on. He’d stop avoiding him, bury his stupid fucking feelings, and they could move on.
Kirishima was kneeling in front of him now, still crying. Katsuki looked away, studying the ground.
“I’m sorry, Bakugou. I didn’t mean to say any of that. I was just being selfish. I didn’t mean to snap like that. These past few weeks have been rough. I should’ve known my feelings for you were becoming too much...too obvious.”
Kirishima took his beanie off to fidget with it, running a nervous hand through his soft hair. Katsuki stared hard at the ground. His feelings? What did that even mean?
“I’m sorry, Bakugou. I don’t know what’s going on with you, but I’ll stop pushing.”
And just like that, Kirishima undid everything he said, put all the blame on himself again. Katsuki was tired of Kirishima doing that even though, when Katsuki replayed all the fucked up words he’d said tonight, he realized he wasn’t exactly helping with that either.
Out of the corner of his eyes Katsuki’s saw Kirishima’s hands grip the ground tightly for a second, minutely hardening his fingers to ground himself, before releasing it and pushing himself up. Katsuki couldn’t let Kirishima walk away and leave things like that.
Katsuki pushed himself up too, dusting himself off to avoid looking at Kirishima even though Katsuki could see his feet had stopped moving and were pointing towards him. He had to fix this. He knew how Kirishima felt about himself and he’d ignored it, forgotten it. Spit his insecurities back at him and for what? His own fucking feelings. How selfish could he be.
It was Kirishima’s turn to look stunned, pointing a confused hand at himself.
“Yeah, you. You’re right, idiot.”
Katsuki grimaced at himself. This was gonna be harder than he thought.
“I was just being an asshole. I was lashing out at you.”
If Kirishima’s eyes were wide before, they were even wider now. If he kept up like that he was gonna hurt himself.
“Things have just been rough lately. But you’re right. I shouldn’t lash out at you. You’re a great hero. Probably even gonna reach number one before me,” Katsuki let a small smile grace his lips, “I’ll get there eventually though. But you’re gonna be there too. Right there with me, side by side, even though you deserve someone better than me.”
Kirishima’s mouth finally shut, but he looked ready to open it again.
“No, Kirishima, don’t. You saw the way I acted during the rescue portion of the provisional license exam. I’m not stupid, I know that being powerful isn’t fucking enough. It never will be. But you have the rest. You’re powerful and kind and smart and good at working with people. That’s what being a number one hero is all about. And that’s just the way you are, Kiri.”
Kirishima was crying again. Fuck. That’s not what Katsuki wanted. He just wanted to undo the damage that he’d done before because he knew the way Kirishima was gonna react, was gonna internalize it and keep it in his mind forever. Katsuki just wanted to prevent that from happening.
Maybe it was the panic at seeing Kirishima cry again. Maybe it was what Kirishima had said earlier, about his feelings for him. Maybe it was Katsuki just being so fucking emotionally exhausted that he couldn’t keep the leash tightened on his emotions as much as he normally did. Regardless, it didn’t matter why it happened, but it did. Because Katsuki opened his mouth to say something, to apologize again, but instead what came out was.
“You’re perfect, Eijirou. And I’m in love with you.”
The words were barely out of Katsuki’s mouth before he realized what was happening, palms igniting, ready to blast him away from this goddamn hellhole that brought all this up. This was fucking ridiculous and he needed to be away, fuck the rules set by Iida and Aizawa.
Before he could send himself off, away from his problems and stupid fucking mouth and thoughts, he felt a hand wrap around his wrist. He could still blast off, but knowing Kirishima he would probably just fucking grip onto him harder and bring them both down. Fucking great.
Katsuki was suddenly very interested in the sky. The clouds were truly fascinating tonight. That one looks like it’s shaped like his broken heart, how cute.
Katsuki tore his eyes away from the sky to finally look at Kirishima. Kirishima was smiling. Why was this fucker smiling?
“Why the fuck are you smiling?”
Kirishima smiled bigger. What the fuck?
“Because I love you too, Katsuki.”
It wasn’t even a question. Katsuki spit the word out. This was farther than he ever thought he’d get. Even in his wildest dreams where he confessed he never got this far.
“I love you too, Katsuki,” Kirishima was still smiling, like this was a fucking good thing, “No wonder you were avoiding me! It all makes sense now.”
“Tch. Shut the fuck up.”
Kirishima was still. Fucking. Smiling. His voice was sing-songing.
“But you love me,” He reached forward with his right hand, intertwining their fingers, “and I love you.”
Katsuki opened his mouth, ready to argue. Kirishima shouldn’t look this fucking happy to be loved by him. Being loved by him was a goddamn death sentence, not a fucking christmas present. Kirishima’s hand found his cheek, however, and all thoughts of talking were dashed from his mind.
“I know you’re gonna say you don’t deserve me. Because you just said that. But you do. The Bakugou from two years ago would have never acknowledged that maybe someone else was a good hero. Or that you might not be the only number one hero ever.”
The last bit was teasing, Kirishima's smile softening to something more intimate, just for him. Katsuki closed his eyes, letting himself take in Kirishima’s touch. Maybe he could let himself have this. Just this once. He inhaled. He exhaled.
“Okay?” the excitement in Kirishima’s voice was palpable.
“This’ll probably be a shit show, but...okay.”
Kirishima’s voice was soft, but he was even closer now, Katsuki could feel his breath on his own lips.
Kirishima’s lips were hot on his. Katsuki thought that he’d been burned to ash, but this was beyond that. There was no more burning down, only creation and he knew that Kirishima would be able to handle it; the fire of himself.
Kirishima leaned back, touching their foreheads together. Somehow Katsuki’s hands had gotten tangled in his hair, knocking his beanie onto the ground next to them.
“I mean it, Katsuki. I love you.”
“Tch. Shut up. I know you mean it.”
Katsuki could feel Kirishima’s expectation.
“And I love you too, Shitty Hair.”
Kirishima intertwined their hands and turned to face the path.
“So are we like...boyfriends now?”
Katsuki rolled his eyes as he pushed Kirishima into a cornstalk.
“Fuck off, idiot.”
Kirishima’s smile was blinding. The fire wasn’t the sun, igniting in from the inside out anymore, it was a fireplace, feeling like home and safety. Katsuki smirked to himself, yeah, that felt right.
“That’s a yes.”
Tenya was still embarrassed about his outburst before. Sure, he was laughing and talking to Sero easily now but the weight of his guilt was hard to shake. It was almost like Sero could tell, launching into increasingly ridiculous stories that Tenya really hoped were fake because there really shouldn’t be that much weed in their dorms.
“-so then after we finished the fifth bong of the night we decided to make brownies. Normal brownies not weed brownies and we-”
Sero waved a hand in front of Tenya’s face.
“Tenya? Tenya? Are you listening?”
Tenya blinked, bringing himself to the moment, forcing his eyes to focus on Sero’s dark eyes.
“Yeah, yeah!” Tenya responded with maybe a little more enthusiasm than necessary, if the way Sero flinched was anything to go by.
“Sorry! But yeah! I’m listening!”
Sero was smiling, but it looked disbelieving. Only someone who smiled as much as Sero could possibly imbue them with different moods. His talents never ceased to amazing Tenya.
“It’s okay, if you’re distracted. You know that, right?”
Tenya looked away sheepishly. He didn’t want to have this discussion. Again. He’d already monopolized too much of Sero’s time and energy. There was only one solution. He had to distract Sero.
“Since when did you get so good at reading people, Hanta?” Tenya added a teasing note to his voice, “or is it just me?”
It was Hanta’s turn to look sheepish, blush covering his face as he turned away from Tenya before he looked at Tenya again.
“Maybe it’s a little bit of both, Tenya.”
The way Sero said his name this time was different and heat curled in Tenya’s stomach. Oh no. This may have been a miscalculation.
Sero continued walking, looking back at him.
“I know that was just to distract me from bringing up earlier, though. Nice try.”
They continued walking, chatting easily as Sero let him off the hook but there was something else now. Everytime their hands brushed it sent a spark up Tenya’s arm and he could feel the tension between them. Sure, he’d planned on being partnered with Sero for a reason, but he never thought he’d get this far.
Well, Tenya was adaptable. He was a hero in training. He could deal with some flirting from his crush, right?
A loud scream jolted Tenya from his plan, forcing him into Sero’s arms. The worker laughed, adjusting their mask before retreating into the maze. Well.
Sero’s hands were secure around him, one grasping his bicep and the other wrapped around his waist. Oh fuck. Tenya was not prepared for this.
Sero squeezed his arm once. Tenya internally begged forgiveness and then thought again, even more vehemently, fuck.
“I thought your quirk was all about legs?” Tenya looked at Sero confusedly, “your biceps don’t need to be this big, dude”. Sero punctuated the statement with a squeeze to Tenya’s bicep.
“Full body fitness is important, regardless of what your quirk is! You especially don’t want to rely on just your quirk in battle!”
Tenya’s expression, which was schooled into a look of carefully neutral information disbursement, morphed into a smirk.
“Which you obviously know since your legs have become much more shapely since we’ve begun training. And that has nothing to do with your quirk.”
Sero gaped at him.
Maybe it was too much? Tenya wasn’t number two in the class for no reason but he was also pretty sure knowing how to read a book didn’t translate into knowing how to read people and there was a very real chance that he completely messed it up. And overstepped his bounds. And ruined his friendship with Sero and disgraced the position of class president with his inappropriate behavior.
Tenya should’ve known this was coming. Sero would never go for someone like him, uptight and anal retentive when Sero did stuff like smoked weed in the dorms and hung out of his room with his tape to go visit Kaminari. And Sero, Sero was beautiful. Tenya self consciously adjusted his glasses. He wasn’t. Beautiful. Sure, he was fine, at least two second year students had left him notes in his locker this year, but that didn’t compare to Sero. Especially not Sero when he smiled.
Before he could backup and begin the painstaking task of trying to repair whatever he’d damaged though, Sero recovered and leaned back, looking at him appraisingly, eyes lingering on Tenya’s legs.
“I guess I should take the compliment to heart, considering it’s coming from the King of Legs and Ass.”
Tenya choked on nothing when Sero said the word ass. He was going to die here. Why did he think this was a good idea? Maybe if he was lucky someone would come out actually murder him this time and he would be able to escape the blush overtaking his face.
Sero released his arm to continue walking forward. What was Tenya going to do to beat that? Tenya gulped. Probably nothing. But that comment had to mean something, right? Tenya hummed to himself thoughtfully. He could put an end to this now, and just ask Sero out for dinner. That would be good, right?
Tenya could see the exit of the maze ahead of them. If it went badly he could always just escape to the bus and Sero would be free to pretend like it never happened and never talk to him again. Perfect plan.
Sero was walking beside him, looking the picture of relaxation, if Tenya ignored the redness dusting the tops of his cheeks and tips of his ears. It was cute. Tenya steeled his resolve, it was time to do this.
Sero paused to look at him, stopping when he noticed Tenya had stopped as well.
“I-” Tenya paused, before realizing that the middle of this path wasn’t the best place to do this. Tenya grabbed Sero’s hand, pulling them off to an indent in the cornstalks, mirroring the way they’d pulled off to the side earlier. It all came full circle.
“I-” Tenya began again, steeling his resolve, “Today was fun. I enjoyed your company. And you helped me a lot earlier when I- anyway, I’m glad you were there. Thank you.” Tenya looked down at his hands, continuing.
“I enjoy spending time with you, Hanta. And I was hoping you enjoyed spending time with me too. As a friend! Or as something other. Than a friend.”
Tenya paused. He hadn’t really gotten to the goal of asking Sero out; the whole thing was kind of getting away from him now. He took a deep breath, eyes darting up to Sero’s face before darting away, looking at a point over Sero’s shoulder.
“So, that’s why I would like to ask-”
Tenya was interrupted by Sero letting out a huff of air.
“Oh jesus christ.”
Tenya’s eyes shot up, meeting Sero’s, only giving himself a second of preparation before Sero was leaning in, lips pressed against his, hands tangled in Tenya’s hair.
Tenya’s eyes closed automatically, leaning into the kiss hungrily, gripping Sero’s waist hard enough to bruise. This kiss felt like his recipro burst, the peak of his speed and stalling out all at once. He didn’t know what he’d expected, but it hadn’t been this. This was a thousand times more than anything he could’ve hoped for. Somehow he was melting again.
Sero leaned in even farther, crushing Tenya against the corn stalks behind him, causing Tenya’s glasses to skew on his face. And they would have kept on like that, probably until they fell into the corn stalks if it wasn’t for a wolf whistle breaking their concentration, directly next to them.
Sero pulled back, gasping with air, hair askew and looking thoroughly kissed, which, considering that’s what they’d just been doing, made a lot of sense. Tenya loved it.
“I-” they both spoke at the same time, before laughing in tandem. Tenya’s eyes dropped to the floor again, suddenly feeling shy about this whole thing. What was protocol for this type of thing?
Tenya was interrupted, or saved, from saying anything more by Mina and Uraraka emerging from the path next to them, holding hands.
“Iida! I didn’t know you had an agenda for yourself too!”
Tenya blushed as Sero burst out laughing, doubling over to hold his stomach with the force of it. Tenya wanted to be more embarrassed but it was hard to feel anything but joy in the face of Sero’s laughter. Sero recovered soon enough, though he was still smiling when he straightened back up.
“Looks like it worked out for you too, you useless lesbians.”
Mina laughed while Uraraka opened her mouth in indigatation.
Tenya cut her off.
“You’re welcome, by the way.”
It was Mina’s turn to gape, looking between the two of them with an expression of shock and slight indignation on her face.
“You-you-” she pointed at Tenya aggressively, “you knew?”
“It seemed like a heroic feat to help two friends resolve their romantic issues.”
Uraraka and Sero rolled their eyes at the same time. This may have been a mistake on his part.
“And he likes meddling as much as a suburban housewife does.”
Uraraka smirked as Sero laughed again, high fiving her.
“He totally does though,” Sero agreed, nodding enthusiastically.
Tenya couldn’t bring himself to be too upset though, because Sero stood closer to him, grabbing his injured hand with his, bringing his knuckles up to his mouth to brush a gentle kiss across them.
Mina and Uraraka exchanged a knowing look before turning, waving at them cheerfully and heading towards the exit.
“So.” Sero turned to look at him, still holding his hand.
“I think you were trying to ask me something before I, uh, so rudely interrupted you.”
Tenya leaned forward, placing a light peck on Sero’s lips. Now that he knew he could do this he didn’t think he would be able to resist doing it all the time.
“Do you, Sero Hanta, want to go on a date with me?”
Sero laughed, leaning into Tenya’s body.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
They turned towards the exit, just in time to see Kirishima dragging Bakugou out by the hand, hair messed up and beanie on Bakugou’s head instead of his own. Tenya turned to Sero, ready to say something, only for Sero to grab his head and turn it so he could look back down the path, where Shinsou and Kaminari were walking hand in hand.
Or more accurately, walking hand in hand, while stopping every five seconds to make out. Jesus. Tenya was happy for them but he really didn’t need to know what it looked like with Shinsou’s hands gripping Kaminari’s ass.
“Well,” Tenya adjusted his glasses, “at least we know we won’t be the last ones out of the maze.”
Sero smiled, pulling Tenya in for another kiss.
“Or, we could be.”
As everyone boarded the bus, previously separated couples reunited, and new couples enjoying some steady teasing from everyone else, Tenya stopped by one of the employees at the exit.
“Thank you for letting us come to your establishment! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time.”
The employee snorted derisively.
“You guys are weird as fuck. Please don’t come back.”
Tenya opened his mouth to respond, apologize maybe or defend his classmates but instead he was tugged away by the steady pressure of Sero’s hand in his.
As Sero shoved him onto the bus, he felt a kiss on his cheek.
“I think it was a great trip, babe.”
Tenya blushed as Sero let go of his hand to sit in his seat, flipping open his folder ready to take attendance to make sure everyone was here. Or he would take attendance, as soon as the wolf whistles and cheering died down.