Chapter 1: Cataclysm
They'd called it cataclysmic.
The first time he watched the story of that battle on the news, Kirishima had thought it to be a little bit of over-exaggeration - but he'd been sitting in a hospital bed, and half of a city had been reduced to rubble and ash, so maybe the news had a point after all. Watching it on TV was a strange disconnect from having had seen it in real life. The decimated buildings and streets, accompanied by the various raging fires, made things look a lot worse than they might have actually been; but Kirishima had stood on those streets in the middle of the chaos, and it was safe to say that it had definitely been...what was the word they'd used? Cataclysmic.
But there were things that the news never could have captured. The toxic smell of smoke, the look of determination and exhaustion on the faces of the few heroes left standing, faces coated in ash and soot and illuminated by the dancing lights of countless raging fires. The shrieks and cries of trapped civilians who had done nothing wrong but be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
These were the realities of the battle, the realities of being a hero and living in a super-powered world, and it was a reality that the general population hadn't been willing to accept any longer. That battle had been a turning point in the minds of many. The League of Villains had met its final defeat, its leaders and lieutenants captured and locked away, and the world swore that such catastrophes would never be allowed to happen again.
the reforms were simple at first. A national database was set up to register every person with a quirk, including captured criminals, heroes, heroes-in-training, and children who were first beginning to manifest their quirks. Still, the public demanded more, unwilling to believe that a database was the best that the government could offer. The U.A Support Class began working in tandem with the civilian police force, providing them with advanced gadgets for combating crooks with quirks.
But what even the heroes failed to predict was that with the fall of the League of Villains, the rate of crime plummeted. Without a unifying organization and a leader, and with the most powerful villains imprisoned, there was no super-villainy left - only petty thieves. As the age of villainy ended, so too did the age of heroes.
The civilian public was overjoyed. There were no more city-destroying battles, no more catastrophe lurking around every corner. But heroes had to face a different reality. The police kept some of the most powerful heroes on call simply as a precaution and a deterrent, but the rest were forced out of the profession.
And Kirishima recalled it being a bigger blow to some of his friends than to others.
"Uh, Earth to Big Red? Hellooooooo?"
Kirishima looked up with a start, quickly coming out of his daze. Even still, it took him a few seconds to remember where he was: standing behind the bar, at work, near closing. Kaminari had already clocked out and had taken a seat at the empty bar, and was looking at Kirishima with a tilted head. "You alright there, Spike? You were doing that freaky zoning out thing again."
Kirishima nodded quickly, giving himself a little slap on the cheek to focus up. "Yeah, sorry. It's been a long day." He gave a bit of a sheepish grin, idly rubbing the back of his neck. "What did you say you wanted again?"
Kaminari rested his cheek against his fist, sighing and rolling his eyes. This was a frequent occurrence. "The same thing I've ordered at the end of every shift since I turned 21. How do you not know this by now?!" Even in his waiter outfit, Kaminari looked the same as he had at U.A. Maybe it was the trademark lightning bolt in his hair, or maybe it was his undone tie and generally unkempt appearance, but Kirishima still saw the same dork he'd gone to school with.
The red-head sighed, ducking below the bar to open one of the fridges that lined the wall. The tips of his hair were the only visible part of him, something that amused Kaminari greatly. "You act like you turned 21 years ago," Kirishima replied, standing and turning to put a glass bottle of hard lemonade on the wooden bar top. Kaminari snatched up the bottle like he was dying of thirst, and Kirishima just snickered. "It was four months ago. When are you going to order something real? Get a man's drink! A whiskey or something!"
Kaminari made a face, wrinkling his nose as he sipped his lemonade. "Eww. You just can't appreciate hard lemonade. The intricate flavors are lost on you...don't worry, I don't judge too much."
"It's lemonade and vodka," Kirishima replied in exasperation, taking a few steps over to the sink and continuing to clean the last of the glasses he'd been working on. He was rather happy he worked at a small restaurant and bar. Even on busy nights, he never had to stay too long after closing to keep everything in line, and he got free drinks after he'd finished cleaning up, which was something he was always happy to take advantage of. "It's not some masterpiece of brewing. I don't think you'd know good alcohol if it punched you in the face."
"Oh, are we punching Kaminari in the face? And I wasn't invited?" Jirou approached the bar with raised eyebrows, smelling vaguely like cigarette smoke. She had her headphones around her neck, as usual, and was still wearing the black shirt and black pants that constituted her hostess uniform. "You already know what I want, Kirishima. And don't make my glass three-fourths ice this time, alright?"
Kirishima groaned, grabbing a clean glass and pouring her a Jack and Coke, going easy on the ice. "You're always telling me how to do my job. Are you the reason why customers have been looking at me like a moron?!"
Jirou shrugged, taking her drink without a noticeable change in expression. "I just warn them that the bartender doesn't always know what he's doing. It's not technically incorrect, is it? But hey, look, you gave me less ice this time. You're learning." She got an annoyed blush out of Kirishima, and a snicker from Kaminari. "Don't even get me started on you, Kaminari. We all saw you trip over your own damn feet and spill soup everywhere tonight."
"I was distracted," Kaminari protested. "They were running that story about Midoriya and Todoroki on the TV again. They just got back from that...thing. What are they calling it? The Peace Tour?"
"Yeah," Kirishima sighed, swapping out Kaminari's now-empty bottle for another before the blond could start complaining about the "poor service". "A tour of the country by the two most recognizable heroes."
"More like the only two remaining heroes," Kaminari muttered, sipping from his fresh drink. "They're the only ones from our entire graduating class that got to stay heroes. How shitty is that?! We were just as good as them!"
Jirou rolled her eyes at that. "Don't lie to yourself, Kaminari. They were the best, and we all know it. Nobody else from our class compared. Besides, it's not like they get to do anything fun. They just make public appearances and shit. And probably bang whenever they get the chance." She snickered at the disgusted face Kaminari made. "What? You know it's true. We all suspected it, and even if they haven't announced it publicly, we all know."
Kaminari just stuck out his tongue in mock revulsion. "Whatever. And come on, what about Bakugo?! He was a great hero!"
"I mean, yeah," Kirishima replied, his back turned as he finished up the rest of the glasses. "He was pretty great, aside from the part where he blew up half a city block trying to go after All For One by himself. What civilian wants to be protected by somebody that reckless? It's no wonder he was forced to retire, just like the rest of us."
"Bakugo...that's a name I haven't heard in three years," Jirou mused over her half-empty glass. "He sorta just dropped off the face of the Earth, didn't he? Doesn't respond to texts anymore, doesn't come out with us on the weekends. It was driving Uraraka nuts for a while, until I convinced her that it just wasn't worth giving a shit about anymore." She shrugged. "Who even knows where he is?"
"Oh, Kirishima does," Kaminari replied matter-of-factly. "He visits him all the time. Or did you stop doing that, Big Red?"
Kirishima froze in the middle of cleaning the final glass, turning slowly. "Uh...yeah, I stopped. Haven't done that in like a year and a half."
"You're a shit liar," Jirou pointed out, her eyes falling to Kirishima's fist. "Your arm is hard, and now that glass is cracked. Well done." She smirked as Kirishima swore, tossing the glass in the trash. "You seriously visit him, Kirishima? Why? He hates everybody. He literally has not spoken to anyone from our class in three years, besides you, apparently."
Kirishima blushed a little, shrugging his shoulders. "I dunno. I was worried about him after everything went down, you know? His whole world kinda fell apart on him. Suddenly he wasn't a hero anymore, he nearly got arrested, and Midoriya was the new golden boy. People were calling for Bakugo's head. I just wanted to make sure everything was alright with him, and it...kinda just became a regular thing."
Jirou's interest was clearly piqued, and she set her drink back on its coaster, folding her hands on the bartop. "So, let me get this straight. You've been secretly visiting Bakugo for three years - I say 'secretly' because I didn't know, which means Uraraka doesn't know, or else she would have told me. So, clearly, you don't want us to know. The way you and Pikachu phrased it makes me think this is a very common occurrence, I'd guess a few times a week at least. Does this all sound right?"
Kirishima nodded slowly, trying to pretend he wasn't paying attention as he wiped down the bar, getting all the bottles and nozzles cleaned off and put back into place. "Yeah, I guess..."
Jirou raised her eyebrows. "So how long have you two been sleeping together?"
Kaminari sprayed a mouthful of his drink all over the bar, and Kirishima went as red as his hair. "W-WHAT?! Jirou, what the HELL are you talking about?! We're not sleeping together! I'm just checking up on him!"
"Whatever you say," Jirou replied, sounding detached and disinterested as ever as Kamanari howled with laughter. Kirishima had to move the hard lemonade away just to make sure Kamanari didn't actually knock it off the bar. "Oh, my God! I totally believe it, too! That's the only reason you'd be going over there all the time, Spike!"
Kirishima ignored the sensation of blood rushing to his ears, keeping his eyes down and focusing on cleaning up the lemonade and spittle from the bartop. "We're not sleeping together," he muttered. He was telling the truth, but his weak and flustered tone didn't help his case. "Don't you two have somewhere else to be?! The place is closed, go home already!"
"You don't need to tell me twice." Jirou rolled her eyes and stood, tossing a bill down next to her empty glass. "Keep the change, Kirishima. Buy Bakugo something nice." She walked away, and Kaminari went with her, asking vaguely about getting a ride home. Kirishima wasn't listening. He put the bill in the register and finished up his duties in a matter of a minute or two, sliding out from behind the bar. As he slid on his jacket and left out the back door, he wasn't thinking about Jirou and Kamanari anymore. He was thinking about Bakugo. How would he react if he found out everyone knew about Kirishima visiting him?
It was a short drive through deserted streets from the restaurant to Bakugo's tiny apartment. Normally, Kirishima had no problem with just walking, but it was a cold October night, and he'd recently gotten the heater fixed in his beat-up pickup. As the cab filled with the hungry rumbling of the engine, Kirishima couldn't help but feel nervous, as he usually did visiting Bakugo. He never quite knew what to expect, whether his old friend would be angry or despondent, coherent or drunk. It was a toss-up every time. And when he was knocking on the door a few minutes later, the silence inside didn't answer his question. The door was never locked, and he sighed as he pushed it in.
It turned out Bakugo didn't even need to answer. His small apartment was full of empty cans of cheap beer, and the door pushed them across the carpet as Kirishima opened it, hitting his ears with the distinct noise of empty aluminum against drywall. Bakugo had been drinking again.
"Christ," Kirishima muttered, wrinkling his nose and slowly shedding his coat as he stepped inside, shutting the door with his foot to keep out the cold. "Bakugo! Where are you? This place is a mess, dude!" He had to look down and plan his steps to avoid stepping on cans as he headed into the living room. "I know I haven't been here in a few days, but seriously..."
The apartment was small, but the distinct lack of furniture or decoration made it look slightly bigger than it actually was. It was just a living room, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a tiny kitchen. Good enough for one person, and Bakugo never complained about it. He complained about plenty of other stuff instead.
Bakugo was laying in a heap on the sofa, in his pajamas - which was a totally normal thing this late at night, but Kirishima knew he hadn't changed since the morning. "Piss off," the ashen-blond growled, red eyes boring into Kirishima. Even now, that glare gave Kirishima the shivers, and not necessarily in a good way.
Kirishima rolled his eyes, kicking a few cans aside and sitting slowly on the arm of the old, beat-up couch. "What's your dad gonna say when he finds out you spent your grocery money on beer again?" He only received the finger in response. "Bakugo, it's been three years of this. I'm worried about you, you know."
"Why?" Bakugo snorted, looking away and drinking from another can that was sitting on a stool nearby. "It's not like I ask you to come by. You just do."
"And you've never stopped me," Kirishima pointed out. "I'm here because we're bros, remember? Bros watch out for each other. That's all I'm doing."
Bakugo shot him the finger again, took another drink, and tossed the now-empty can onto the floor to join its brethren. "Whatever. I don't need your help, so get that smug grin off your face." Kirishima tried to point out that he wasn't grinning, but Bakugo simply kept talking. "I'm not gonna thank you for coming over and nagging me, asshole, so just stuff it in your ass."
Kirishima folded his arms with a small pout. "I only nag you because somebody has to, Bakugo. Your dad just drops off money every week and leaves, and your mom doesn't talk to you. You've cut off all our old friends and classmates, so somebody has to look out for you, since you refuse to look out for yourself." He stood with a sigh. "When's the last time you even ate?"
"Who fucking knows," Bakugo snapped, quite angry without another beer nearby, but he was always angry anyways. "I'll eat when I fucking feel like it, Shitty-Hair."
The redhead gave him a skeptical glance, heading to the kitchen and peeking through the fridge and cabinets. "There's literally nothing in here, Bakugo. You literally only bought beer! And not even the beer is left!" He turned, staring at his old friend in disbelief. "There's no food in here! Nothing!"
"You don't think I know that?" Bakugo hissed in response, like an angry snake, but Kirishima didn't flinch. "I'm starving and I'm broke! What the fuck am I supposed to do?!"
"You're gonna put on your coat," Kirishima sighed. He knew Bakugo wouldn't actually change clothes, but the redhead planned to be adamant about making him wear a coat, at least. "And we're going to go get some food."
"Like hell I'm going anywhere in public with you," Bakugo muttered, but it was clear there was no real bite behind his words. "Where the fuck do you even want to go, anyways?" He put up his hands to catch the jacket that Kirishima casually tossed at him.
"There's a diner on the same street as the place where I work," Kirishima replied. "Come on. I'm paying." He smiled, feeling something strange in his chest as the anger in Bakugo's eyes gave way. He was too hungry to be pissy, and Kirishima just laughed as Bakugo headed out the door without looking back. The redhead followed, out of the apartment and back into the cold night.
Chapter 2: Frigid
I didn't plan to continue this originally, but hey, why not? :)
The two walked in one-sided silence for the short walk out to Kirishima's truck. While Bakugo fussed his way into his coat, needing protection from the cold night air, Kirishima was happily going on about his day at work, completely unprompted. "And so when Kaminari came up to the bar and told me a table of five dudes all wanted beer, I was like, dude, why can't they just take a pitcher? And he totally just stares at me like he doesn't get it at all, and I finally was just like-" He fell silent as Bakugo shot him a deadly glare.
Kirishima nodded quickly, hiding a smile as he unlocked the doors to his truck and hopped into the driver's seat. Bakugo shut the passenger door with a bit more force than was needed, which caused the redhead to wince, and folded his arms against his chest. "Turn on the fucking heat already, it's freezing. And fucking drive!"
The redhead blinked, tilting his head as he looked at Bakugo with a bit of naive curiosity. "Er...bro, your seatbelt. Come on. Safety first, right?"
Bakugo gave him another sharp glare, growling under his breath. "It's like a five minute drive, you said. I'm not putting on my fucking seatbelt for a five minute drive. Don't be a bitch." He shifted in his seat to absorb more of the heat, turning his attention away from Kirishima.
The redhead let his eyes linger for a moment. In the darkness of the cab, backlit by the lights of the street and other apartments, Bakugo looked...different. The way the dim light looked like fire on the tips of his spiky blond hair, the way his grunted breaths fogged in the slowly-warming-but-still-cold air of the truck, the light creases that formed in his face as he sucked air through his teeth and shivered; these were all details he'd never noticed before. He'd never looked at his friend, his "bro", this closely. It was new, and it was odd, and it was something he didn't have time to think about too long. Bakugo looked over at Kirishima with a glare that could have melted right through him and the glass behind his head. The redhead hastily threw the truck into gear and slowly headed down the street.
"So," he began, one hand on the wheel and the other arm resting against the door. "What have you been up to?" He felt a vague sense of unease, which was strange. He always felt comfortable around Bakugo. They were best friends, after all. But as he glanced out of the corner of his eye, watching Bakugo glaring at him, he couldn't help but feel nervousness bubbling up within him.
Bakugo snorted, the breath steaming in the air like it had come from an angry bull. "The fuck kind of question is that? You know what I've been up to. The same shit I've been up to for years now, idiot." He looked out the window as they drove by, pretending to be suddenly interested in the streetlights, but the way he'd trailed off, coupled with the new slump in his shoulders, was pretty indicative of something else.
Kirishima frowned a little, but kept his eyes on the road. Bakugo wasn't the type to want direct comfort. He didn't take hugs, he didn't take pats on the shoulder or kind words; Kirishima wasn't convinced that he ever wanted comfort at all. Even still, he'd never been able to just sit by, and so he usually just tried to change the topic whenever things grew awkward. "So...I dunno if you've been to this diner, but it's pretty kickass. Seems like your kind of food, I guess. Cheap, greasy, and doesn't pretend to be better than it is."
He looked out of the corner of his eye with a grin, hoping the playful barb would draw some kind of reaction from the blond, but aside from a slight narrowing of his eyes, Bakugo didn't even flinch. Kirishima already knew the last few years had been hard on his friend, but as time had gone on, more and more of the fight had left Bakugo. It was like he was a different person.
They lapsed into silence, Kirishima looking one way and Bakugo looking another as the pickup rumbled noisily through the sleepy streets. Kirishima found it increasingly unsettling. He himself wasn't a quiet person, and he didn't enjoy silence, but it felt even worse with Bakugo. Bakugo was violent, loud, passionate, driven, and honest - or he was at one point. Seeing him now, sullenly staring out at the passing lights and buildings, genuinely upset Kirishima.
Luckily, Kirishima hadn't exaggerated when he'd said the diner was close. He barely had any time to dwell on the somber feeling in the air before they pulled into the parking lot, and once he'd parked the truck, he hopped out a little too hastily. Bakugo followed, his hands jammed in his pockets, breathing hot steam as they walked inside together. The diner's heating hit them both like a warm blanket, and a pair of audible sighs was the first communication they'd exchanged since leaving the truck.
"So..." Kirishima swallowed as he sat down in a booth, acutely aware that he'd opened conversations with that word quite a few times already. He paused, watching Bakugo slide into the other side of the booth with a disgruntled expression on his face. An old TV was posted up in the corner behind his head, and he heard the faint mutterings of an all-night news station. "Uh, are you warm enough? I could give you my jacket if you-"
"Shut up," Bakugo grunted, cutting him off and giving him a weary glare. He couldn't even muster up the give-a-shit to put venom in his eyes, and it hurt Kirishima's heart to see. "You already dragged me out of my house to this shithole. You gonna make me listen to you flap your fucking lips, too?"
It was something, at least, and Kirishima had to smile. He could work with that. "Come on, you love it when I talk. That's why you let me come around so often. You can't live without the sound of my voice, can you?"
Kirishima had long since learned that dealing with Bakugo was like dealing with fire. Without the proper caution, you'd get burned every time. But fire, like everything else, sometimes needed a spark. And as he saw the refreshed anger in Bakugo's eyes, he knew he had an ignition. "Are you fucking dumb?! I don't TELL you to come to my place! You just show up and open the fucking door!" Presumably, the blond hadn't even noticed that he'd stood and banged both fists on the table.
Kirishima gave their startled waitress an apologetic smile before turning back to his friend. "Bakugo, I was just messing around. Relax, alright? You're getting all worked up. As usual." He added the last part in a mutter under his breath, and was quite thankful Bakugo didn't hear it. The angry boy grunted a series of swears and curses as he sank back into his seat, barking at the waitress that he wanted black coffee. The young woman scurried away like a frightened animal, and returned with mugs for both of them.
Bakugo didn't even acknowledge her, while Kirishima gave her a bright thanks. He sighed once she'd walked away, beginning to doctor his coffee with cream and sugar. "It wouldn't kill you to be nice, you know. She brought you a drink! You could have at least said..." He trailed off as he looked up at Bakugo, his eyes widening slowly in alarm.
The blond boy's eyes were fixated on something behind Kirishima's head, his hands clenching the table so tightly that his knuckles had gone white. Steam was rising between his twitching fingers, and his face was tighter and more tense than Kirishima had seen in months. Kirishima turned quickly to look at the television, and he felt his heart sink. A landslide had struck an impoverished village in the countryside, and according to the ticker at the bottom of the screen, the casualty count was rising.
But that wasn't what either of them were paying attention to.
"Deku," Bakugo hissed, the word emerging from his gritted teeth as though it was the foulest curse imaginable. Kirishima's jaw dropped as he watched Midoriya and Todoroki working in perfect unison, efficiently clearing the debris and rescuing everyone they could. Kirishima couldn't even hear what the reporter was saying over the sound of his heartbeat in his ears. It wasn't the landslide, or the heroic display by his former classmates. It was knowing how Bakugo was feeling.
Suddenly something dark blue whizzed over Kirishima's shoulder and he instinctively ducked, watching in real time as Bakugo's coffee mug shot through the air like a bullet and exploded against the television screen. Both ceramic and glass shattered with an awful noise, spraying black coffee everywhere, but it didn't compare to Bakugo's roar of anger. "I DON'T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS SHIT!" The blond stood, his shoulders and chest heaving. "Why do they get to be the fucking heroes?! What makes them so deserving?! I was ALWAYS stronger then them!" He'd pulled his hands off the table, and his palms started crackling and popping with barely restrained explosive energy.
Kirishima raised his hands immediately, forgetting the fact that he'd been lightly sprayed with black coffee and that there were now bits of shattered mug in his hair. "Bakugo, you need to chill, dude. You're going to blow us all sky high. Just calm down!"
Bakugo's eyes were seething with a rage that Kirishima hadn't seen in years. "Don't fucking TELL me to CALM DOWN. You have NO IDEA-"
"I know exactly what you went through," Kirishima interjected, talking over Bakugo as he stood slowly, maintaining eye contact. It was like trying to calm an angry dog. "I was a hero, too, Bakugo. A pretty good one, if you remember. I got the same letter of dismissal that you did. The only difference is that I chose to move on, dude. Being a hero was my dream, just like yours, but I didn't just give up. And I can't believe that you did."
Bakugo looked like he'd been slapped, but the rage was slowly beginning to bleed from his face. The small explosions stopped in his hands as well, but he didn't sit down. "You...you could never..." Then he shook his head, sinking back down into the booth. The fire had burned out quickly.
Kirishima just sighed, sinking back into his own side of the booth, glad Bakugo hadn't hurled his mug. "Relax, Bakugo, alright? Let's just get some food and chill." He glanced over at the shocked waitress, who was pale and standing about as far away as she could, and gave her a nervous wave. "Uh, I'll pay for the mug! And the TV...sorry about that." The redhead sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, and he could have sworn he saw a smirk crawl across Bakugo's face.
Dinner passed without further incident. The waitress took a bit of calming down before she took their orders, including another half-dozen apologies and reassurances from Kirishima that Bakugo wouldn't damage any more property. The food was, as expected, awful, but Kirishima didn't even care. As Bakugo calmed down even more, he forgot about the news report, forgot about Midoriya and Todoroki. He began complaining loudly about the shitty food and the lack of service, acting as though it was some unforgivable offense for the waitress to have not brought him a new coffee. Kirishima just ignored it all, rolling his eyes when Bakugo's antics went over the top and paying the bill once they were done. True to his word, he left a nice tip and payment for the destroyed items, though it made him wince. He wasn't made of money.
Kirishima talked idly about nothing in particular as the two left the diner, Bakugo listening - or not - in silence. They got back into the truck and set off, and as Kirishima continued speaking without really thinking, Bakugo made sure to turn up the heat to its very max. It didn't even make sense for something so simple to make the redhead smile, but he did. Even the way Bakugo huffed, blowing steam into the cold air of the truck, was something that made Kirishima sit up a little straighter in his seat. He had no clue why, but he felt a new warmth spreading in his chest even as his body shivered with cold.
The drive back to Bakugo's apartment was agonizingly short. Kirishima kept talking, hoping that something would delay them, would keep the evening from ending, but they reached their destination in a matter of minutes. The redhead's sharp teeth bit his own lip to silence himself suddenly, and he feigned a cough as he put the truck into park. "Oh, well, uh, guess we're here. You don't need me to walk you to the door, do you?" It was only half teasing.
Bakugo shot him a glare, popping open the door and breaking the seal, allowing the blissfully warm air to flood out of the cab. Bakugo went with it, and Kirishima swore that as soon as Bakugo's sneakers hit the pavement, the truck grew colder than ever before. "I don't need a fucking escort, Shitty-Hair. I'm not your girlfriend." He grabbed the edge of the door and prepared to slam it shut, but paused. "Thanks for dinner. Idiot."
The door slammed shut with a noise that made Kirishima wince, but he smiled nonetheless, watching Bakugo walk back to his front door. He didn't even put the car in drive until Bakugo had gotten inside. Kirishima watched the door close, and suddenly wished he'd said so many things to his old friend, things he didn't even have the ability to put into words. It was a rush of new, confusing feelings, and he had to shake his head to clear them away. The truck rumbled into the night, and Kirishima never felt the stare of two red eyes as they watched him drive away.
Chapter 3: Cheers
Thank you all for continuing to read my half-baked ideas. <3
"So let me get this straight," Kaminari began slowly, his eyes sparkling mischievously. "You two hung out last night...you bought him dinner...and he threw a coffee mug at a TV?"
Kirishima tried to ignore him, as he'd been doing for about an hour. The second he walked in to start his shift, about an hour before the evening rush began, Kaminari had dropped everything to assault him with questions about what had happened with Bakugo. Literally. He'd literally dropped an empty serving tray to the floor and run up to Kirishima like a giddy child. The redhead had tried to ignore him, but Kaminari was persistent, and eventually eroded his will enough for Kirishima to summarize the events.
"Maybe I should rephrase. Let me get this gay," Kaminari snickered. He didn't flinch at all under the withering glare that Kirishima tried to give him as he prepared the bar for the imminent influx of customers. "You literally took him out for dinner, bro. That's a date. You and Bakugo went on a date. Or wait, do you call him Katsuki?"
That was enough to finally get a blush out of Kirishima, and he nearly dropped the shot glasses he was holding. "I d-do not call him Katsuki," he sputtered, trying to inject a bit of dignity-saving indignance into his words. It didn't work. "I call him Bakugo, just like everybody else! We're friends. Nothing more." He didn't notice that he sounded just the slightest bit disappointed until it was too late.
Out of nowhere, Jirou was suddenly seated at the nearest stool, still in uniform with her eyebrows raised. "Hold on a second. Are you two talking about last night? Without me?"
Her sudden appearance was enough to make Kirishima jump, and he nearly dropped the glasses again. "Jirou? What the hell are you doing here?! There are customers standing up front!" She waved him off, and Kirishima just stared back. "They're literally staring at you. Did you just run over here in the middle of helping them?"
"No," Jirou replied, rolling her eyes. "I hadn't started helping them yet. It makes a difference." She put her arms on the bar, leaning closer and affixing Kirishima with a blunt, unimpressed stare that made him feel a little bit insignificant. "So, are you going to tell me what happened, or do I need to get it out of Pikachu?"
Kaminari made a noise of protest at the nickname, and Kirishima groaned. "You're like a buzzard, Jirou. Always circling and waiting for the next thing to catch your attention."
The blond huffed in agreement, folding his arms. "Yeah. And besides, I thought gossip was above you, since you're so cool and stuff."
Jirou's eyes shifted to look at Kaminari. She ignored the nervous smile that spread across his face. "Not like I have anything fun to do right now. Watching you two be incompetent at your jobs gets boring after a while." Kaminari made a weak protest that sounded vaguely like he was trying to accuse Jirou of being a bad worker as well, but she ignored him and turned her gaze back to Kirishima. "So, spill it. How was the sex? Was it hot? Who bottomed?"
Kirishima went as red as his hair, and this time, he was thankful he'd put down the shot glasses. "W-we d-didn't have..." Jirou's gaze continued boring into him, unflickering, and he looked down quickly. He wasn't lying, of course they didn't have sex. But despite having never said a word about it aloud to anyone, both of them knew that Kirishima had felt a certain way about Bakugo for a long, long time. Ever since they'd gone to school together, something about Bakugo had always made him so endearing to the redhead, maybe even the same things that everyone else hated. The short temper, the loudness, the recklessness...Bakugo had his flaws, but he was the most passionate person Kirishima had ever known.
Jirou's eyes softened just a bit, and she turned her head to Kaminari. "Pikachu, go take care of that group of girls up front. And try to keep your eyes off their chests, alright? It's repulsive." Kaminari began protesting again, but all Jirou had to do was narrow her eyes, and the blond went running.
She looked back at Kirishima, leaning a little further forward. "Alright, Kiri. Let's talk. How did last night go?"
There was a new sincerity in her tone that made Kirishima relax just slightly, and he nervously turned away from the racks of bottles to face her. "I...it went fine, Jirou. Nothing bad happened."
"...but nothing good happened," Jirou replied slowly, as though finishing the sentence for him. "Kiri, how can you keep doing this? You're torturing yourself. You've been pining for him for years now. You need to tell him how you feel, or you need to cut contact."
Kirishima suddenly felt quite ill, and he put his hands on the bar to steady himself, unable to look her in the eyes. "You know I can't just abandon him...I'm basically all he has." His fingers twitched against the wood. "And that...that other thing you said. That's not happening either. You know why, don't even ask."
Jirou looked like she had something more to say, but leaned back a little and nodded. "Alright, Kiri. I'm not going to pressure you on this, but something has to change. I say that as your friend." She got up off the stool, sighing as her expression changed back to boredom. "I better go relieve Pikachu of his duties. I think I just heard another woman slapping him."
As she walked off, Kirishima swallowed quietly. His hands and arms had hardened without him noticing. He exhaled slowly and released his quirk, returning to preparing the glasses and bottles, trying to think of anything but Bakugo. Anything but Bakugo. He did not want to think about Bakugo, or Bakugo's apartment. Or the way the apartment smelled so distinctly like Bakugo. Or how that smell nearly made him flush every time he walked through the front door. Or the way Bakugo's clothes were haphazardly discarded around the place. Or how Kirishima assumed Bakugo looked when he was tossing those clothes aside. He definitely did not want to think about a naked Bakugo.
These were not productive thoughts.
Kirishima gave himself a hard slap across the face before putting the last bottles back on the shelf at the back of the bar, taking another moment to steady himself. He could push Bakugo out of his mind. He certainly could focus on work for the next few hours, especially how busy it would be.
He heard someone sit down at the bar behind him, and put on a smile before turning around. "What can I get for..."
"About fucking time," muttered the absolute last person Kirishima wanted to see at his job. Bakugo looked bored, slouched against the bar and leaning his head against his fist. "I've been here for like, a second and a half. Your service blows."
Kirishima just stared at him for a moment, his face heating up rapidly. "B-BAKUGO?!"
"That's my name, idiot," the blond muttered, snarling softly. "Did you just fucking yell at me? This place really is a shithole." His eyes narrowed as Kaminari took a seat on the stool next to him, and he bared his teeth like a dog about to attack. "You're fucking kidding me. This asshole works here too?"
Kaminari gave him a dazzling smile, putting an arm around Bakugo's shoulders. He'd never been afraid of Bakugo, despite knowing that it was entirely within the realm of possibility for him to be blown to pieces. "Long time no see, Bakugo! You never answer my texts, buddy. How the hell have you been?"
"I'm going to be a hell of a lot better after I murder you," Bakugo spat. The open threat would have been alarming if everyone weren't so completely used to it. "You people fucking suck at your jobs. How do you ever get any tips?!"
Kaminari's eyes lit up, and both Bakugo and Kirishima could watch in real time as a joke formed in his mind. "Well, Kirishima gets lots of tips. Big ones, small ones, all kinds of tips, really. But I think your tip would be really special for him. He would love your tip."
Kirishima was pretty sure he was about to pass out, holding onto the bar and looking away. He didn't hear whatever Bakugo yelled in response to Kaminari's crude joke, but when he composed himself enough to turn back, Kaminari had run off. Bakugo affixed the redhead with a glare, snarling softly. "Get me a beer, asshole. Don't take too long."
Kirishima nodded, exhaling slowly to steady himself as he expertly poured a glass, making sure not to make it too foamy or not foamy enough. There was an art to the pour, and it was an art he took very seriously. "We don't have that cheap crap you like drinking, so you'll have to make due. Sorry." He gave a tentative smile and put the glass down on a coaster in front of Bakugo.
The ash-blond grunted and took a few sips. He glared at the glass, as though trying to discern whether or not he liked it, or maybe he was just trying to intimidate the drink. You could never really tell with Bakugo. "This...isn't totally shit," he muttered begrudgingly.
It was just about the best compliment Bakugo would give anything, and Kirishima beamed at it. "Well, I'm glad you like it!" He was beginning to get back a little confidence, feeling like he was in his element. But just as he was about to strike up a conversation, other customers started coming in, taking seats all over the bar and talking among themselves. "Be right back, Bakugo. Gotta take care of everybody, you know?" He rapped his knuckles on the bartop and began pacing to and fro, taking orders and creating all sorts of cocktails and drinks. He'd made all of the drinks dozens of times, but it was a different sort of pressure with a pair of red eyes boring into his back. It made him a little nervous, but it also excited him a little. He always did bartend better with an audience.
He tossed the shaker he was holding into the air, grinning as he caught it behind his back and poured it into a glass. Kirishima often worked up a rhythm while working, and a few of the regulars clapped and cheered as he put the last drink on Kaminari's tray. "That's for table 24, right?" He was so in the zone that he didn't even notice Kamanari's look of amusement as he walked away with the tray.
In fact, Kirishima was so in the zone that he didn't even think twice when he poured Bakugo a second beer. Then a third. Then a fourth.
One of the things Kirishima enjoyed most about his job was that the time flew by quickly. Unless he was on break, he was always doing something, whether it was pouring a drink or chatting up a customer, and before he knew it, the night would be over. Everything went in a rhythm, because every night was more or less the same.
"I TOLD you to quit LOOKIN' at me like that!"
Kirishima turned away from the shelves with a start, his eyes widening as he watched Bakugo repeatedly jabbing his index finger into the ribs of a moderately-frightened looking young woman. "You keep lookin' at me with those big...hic...brown eyes, like I'm gonna eat you or something. You need to calm the fuck down, lady!" There were at least six empty glasses in front of him, and Kirishima felt a small surge of guilt wash over him. He hadn't even noticed all the beers Bakugo had demanded. He should have been cut off a long time ago.
Jirou appeared out of nowhere, as she always seemed to, and positioned herself between Bakugo and the other woman. "Is there a problem, Bakugo? As shitty as this place is, I can't let you pick fights with people."
Bakugo sneered at her, swaying on his stool. His face was flushed, and his normally clear and fierce red eyes were hazy and unfocused. "Listen here...you...hic...you dumb bitch. I don't have to listen to SHIT outta your mouth. Go back to...to...whatever dumb bitches do. Dumb bitch."
Jirou raised her eyebrows, glancing at Kirishima. "And I thought he was charming while he was sober. Kirishima, why didn't you cut him off?"
The redhead looked down sheepishly, finishing a margarita and giving it to another young woman a few seats down the bar. "I swear I didn't notice. You know I get in the zone! Remember that one time you were trying to get my attention for like, 45 minutes, and I didn't even see you?"
She rolled her eyes, catching Bakugo's fist as he threw a weak, sloppy punch at her side. "Alright, that's more than enough, Bakugo. Kirishima, you've got like an hour left on your shift, right? Take Bakugo home, I'll cover for you."
Kirishima frowned a little, wiping his hands with a rag. Jirou's version of "covering" usually just meant closing the bar and lying to their boss. "Jirou, don't you think that..."
Jirou just shook her head, still holding Bakugo's fist as the drunk boy struggled to hit her. "Just go, Kiri. I know you want to." She gave the tiniest smile, and Kirishima felt his face heat up quite rapidly before he scurried to the back room to grab his keys, wallet, and coat. With a half-nervous, half-grateful smile at Jirou, he grabbed a protesting Bakugo by the collar and dragged him outside.
"Get'yer hands off me," Bakugo slurred, trying to swing at Kirishima now. He was far less adept at fighting while intoxicated. "You don't have the right to..."
Kirishima just rolled his eyes, still holding a struggling Bakugo as he unlocked his truck with his free hand. "You act like this is the first time I've had to take care of you. Remember that one time you were sick our sophomore year, and nobody would even go near your room? You were bedridden, dude, and if I didn't feed you every day, you probably would have starved."
Bakugo snickered as Kirishima practically loaded him into the passenger's seat, and Kirishima was briefly struck by how strange it was to hear Bakugo laugh. "I told you not to...hic...do it, dumbfuck. You got sick just like me."
The redhead sighed, shutting the passenger's door and heading around to get into the driver's seat. He fumbled with the key, swearing softly as his cold, clumsy fingers struggled to find the ignition, and shook his head as he finally got the truck to start. "I didn't care, Bakugo. We were bros. Bros watch out for each other. That's how it works. I'd do it again if I had to."
Bakugo looked at him out of the corner of his eye as the truck backed out and left the parking lot, and for a few minutes, neither of them spoke. The sound of the truck's engine, and the clicking of knobs as Kirishima fiddled with the truck's heat were the only noises in the cab until Bakugo finally spoke up. There was a heaviness and a reluctance in his voice, as though he'd been mulling over what he was about to say for a long time. "Kirishima...I never said it before...but...thanks. For...hic...everything."
A wave of heat passed through Kirishima that had nothing to do with the truck's vents, and his eyes widened. "Wait, what?"
Bakugo's face flushed a little darker. He folded his arms with a sharp hiss, looking out the window at the streetlights. "Fuck you, I didn't mean anything by that...hic...dumbfuck. Just...whatever! Forget I said anything!"
Kirishima grinned a little, and as they pulled up in front of Bakugo's place, he couldn't help but give Bakugo a cheeky little look. "No problem, bro. Your secret is safe with me. I won't tell a soul."
"You'd better not," Bakugo muttered, opening the door of the truck, and he yelped as he fell face first onto the grass. "You didn't see that," he growled, his voice muffled, and Kirishima just laughed.
It took a lot of coaxing, and a little bit of pleading, before Bakugo allowed Kirishima to help him inside. The place was as much of a mess as it had been the previous night, and the redhead just sighed as he let Bakugo down on the sofa. "Jeez, Bakugo, it smells like sweat and cheap beer...but I guess it always does."
Bakugo grunted and gave him the finger, draping one arm over his own eyes. "Turn off the fucking...hic...light. That shit is blinding me."
Kirishima blinked, looking around as he took off his coat and put it on the back of the sofa. "Bro, I haven't turned on any lights yet. That's just the moon." He had to smile a bit as Bakugo clumsily rolled over onto his stomach, glaring out the window at the moon in the sky, as if he was seriously considering blowing it up. "Chill out, Bakugo. Don't you need to like, get ready for bed or something? It's late, you're drunk..."
Bakugo shifted his head slightly to glare at Kirishima, giving him the finger again, grunting softly. "Fuck off, already. I don't...hic...need you here." His cheeks were slightly flushed from the liquor, and his eyes were still hazy, but his glare had the same effect as usual.
Kirishima just sighed, nodding and turning to go to the door. "You know, Bakugo, you don't have to be such a bastard all the time. To me, especially. I..." He simply shook his head. "Nevermind. Forget I said anything. See you around."
He headed for the door, but before he could put a hand on the knob, Bakugo spoke up behind him.
It wasn't a command, which surprised Kirishima quite a bit. In fact, Bakugo hadn't raised his voice at all.
When Kirishima turned back around, Bakugo had sat up, and was looking down at his lap. His face was shrouded in shadow as his body was backlit by the moonlight, but what little that could be seen of his cheeks was still red...maybe a little redder. "Do you remember...six years ago, when I got kidnapped from camp by the villains?" He paused, looking hesitant to say more.
Kirishima nodded, taking a few slow steps back into the room. "Of course I remember," he murmured. "How could I ever forget? Seeing you that close to All For One and surrounded by the League of Villains was the scariest moment of my life." They'd never really spoken about it before. Kirishima had assumed Bakugo was too proud to admit he'd been in a losing situation. "Why are you bringing it up?"
Bakugo didn't answer immediately. His silhouette slumped slightly, as though he was deflating. "I know I never said anything about it, and I'll fucking kill you if you tell anybody, but I was scared too. I didn't think I was gonna make it out of there alive. And then I look up and see you idiots, flying overhead like some kind of fucking three-person cannonball, and...you saved my life, Kirishima. I never even said thanks. Guess I am a bastard."
Kirishima swallowed, and he realized he didn't really know how to proceed. This was the first time Bakugo had ever really opened up to him. "Bakugo, come on. I didn't mean it like that. It's just, I dunno, you're mean sometimes. Especially to the people who care about you." He knew he'd never be able to get away with saying these things to a sober Bakugo, so it was time to push his luck. "You've been my best friend for years, man. We've been through it all together. It just sucks to feel like you don't even like me sometimes."
"I do like you," Bakugo muttered. "You're my only real friend. You take better care of me than my fucking parents. How could I not like you?" He laid back down slowly. "I'm sorry, is what I'm trying to say. I'll try to be better to you."
Kirishima could barely believe the words he'd just heard. Part of him had wanted to hear them for a long time, and he couldn't help but feel a little surge of joy. "Uh...good to know, Bakugo. I appreciate it."
Bakugo grunted, folding his arms, his silhouette bristling. "Yeah, whatever. You can stay here tonight if you want, I don't give a fuck. I know you don't work until tomorrow night. Just don't fucking tell anybody, or I'll blow your ass up."
Kirishima simply smiled as he inclined his head in a slight nod. It wasn't everything he'd hoped for, but it was a start.
It was enough.
Chapter 4: Maybe
Just something short. <3
A week passed surprisingly quickly, given all that had happened. Kirishima only spent the first night at Bakugo’s apartment, and it went entirely without incident. He was adamant about sleeping on the sofa - even though Bakugo had never said anything about it one way or the other - and he was gone in the mornings before Bakugo even woke up. Kirishima didn’t say anything to Bakugo about it, but he did tell Jirou, who teased him in her very deadpan way. Nothing had occurred between Kirishima and Bakugo, and it was the furthest thing from the redhead’s mind...but that didn’t stop Jirou from having her fun.
Kirishima tried to distract himself with work and exercise, as he usually did, but whenever he had a free moment, his mind would inevitably wander to Bakugo. When he got lost in his thoughts, he would recall how Bakugo had looked so long ago, before society changed; there had been an intense fire in his eyes that supplemented the near-permanent scowl on his face. Nowadays his eyes were simply glazed over most of the time.
Kirishima found it distressing, to say the least.
Jirou accepted the , of tea that Kirishima offered with the slightest nod, her sharp gaze moving lazily across the living room, as though memorizing every detail. Her legs were tucked beneath her on the grey sofa cushions, and she idly tapped her fingernails on the mug before she spoke. “I know I’ve said it before, but...have you ever considered, I don’t know, being an adult ?”
Kirishima felt his face heat up as he put his own warm mug down on the side table next to his armchair. His thoughts immediately raced to the blond he’d been seeing every day for the past week. “W-what are you talking about?!”
She took her free hand off her drink, giving a slow, mockingly-grand gesture across her body. “Look at this place, Kirishima. It’s a complete mess, and I know a lot about messes. I work with Kaminari.”
Kirishima and Kaminari’s apartment was small and cozy, located in a nicer part of town, right on the shore - which had been a major selling point, considering how much the redhead loved cardio on the beach. A large window in the living room overlooked a quiet street, and right across that was a sandy beach usually populated by couples and families.
The interior of the apartment was rather normal: a matching armchair and sofa, framed photographs of the squad, a clean kitchen, a flatscreen TV. A few well-kept potted cacti gave it a slight air of class, but the sheer amount of shit everywhere really made it look like the roommates had adopted a son or two.
There were unexplained action figures on every shelf and counter in heroic poses, including one of All Might holding a tiny watering can near one of the pots on the windowsill, as though he was watering the cactus. Workout clothes were strewn over chairs and scattered across the floor. Empty fast food and takeout boxes littered the living room and kitchen, remnants of nights when Kirishima had been too lazy or too tired to cook anything nutritious.
Kirishima groaned, slapping a hand to his face with an audible noise. “I know, I know, it’s Kaminari. He always makes a mess of the place…”
Though Kirishima didn’t drink, there were discarded bottles and cans of alcohol scattered everywhere. You couldn’t walk half a foot forward without kicking something. Kaminari was adamant that he didn’t have a problem, and Kirishima wasn’t about to confront him on it, but it sure did make the apartment a lot less hospitable.
“What the hell are you guys being so loud for?” A bright flash of yellow hair emerged from a hallway bedroom, concealing Kaminari’s yawning face before it was tucked behind his right ear. He was shirtless, wearing a pair of Pikachu print pajama pants that Bakugo, once upon a time, would have ruthlessly bullied him for. “Can’t a guy get some sleep in the privacy of his own home? It’s so early…”
Jirou’s eyes sharpened and narrowed, looking at Kaminari with a withering glare. Even when she was off the clock, it was clear she held quite a bit of disdain for him. “It’s two in the afternoon. And can’t you put some clothes on?”
Kaminari’s face stretched wide in an exaggerated yawn, and he hummed softly as he scratched at the back of his head. “Mmm...yeah. Let me just find my top…” He turned, bumping into a grinning, shirtless Sero, who looked down at the electric blond and wrapped both arms around Kaminari’s body. “Looks like you found him.”
Kirishima groaned, while Jirou’s eye twitched. She looked like she had a whole slew of things to hurl at the two of them, but she bit it back and choked it down. “That was the most disgusting exchange I’ve ever witnessed. I just want you two to know that.”
Kaminari stuck his tongue out with a pout, trying to appear much cuter than he actually was, and Kirishima heaved a sigh. “That joke is so old. I swear I hear it at least three times a week. But I guess I agreed to putting up with cheesy jokes when I agreed to move in with you, Kami.”
Jirou rolled her eyes and sipped her tea with flared nostrils, preparing whatever venomous remark she had in store. But as though she thought better of it, she gave her head a quick shake and returned her gaze to Kirishima. “Moving along, I haven’t even brought up what I came over to talk to you about. You-Know-Who. I don’t think I need to say his name.”
Kirishima flushed, but before he could say anything, Kaminari blinked in confusion. “Why are we talking about Voldemort? Didn’t he die in the last movie?”
Jirou didn’t look at him, but she did raise her voice. “Kaminari, if I turn my head in the next five seconds and I see you standing there, I am going to break this mug over your head.”
And Kaminari scurried away like the electric rat he was nicknamed after, dragging Sero back into the bedroom and slamming the door.
Kirishima sighed, crossing his legs nervously and looking at his tea on the table, trying to distract himself by counting the dots on the space-themed ceramic. “I dunno, Jirou,” he murmured. He was shaking his foot, an idle tic that he’d picked up some time ago. “You know how he is now. He’s just...a shell of what he used to be, you know? I remember when we were in school, he was the most passionate guy around. Even if he was hostile to basically everyone and everything, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He just had so much energy. I was drawn to him from the first moment we met. But ever since heroes became unnecessary, he’s been...empty inside. It’s like his soul is gone. When they told Bakugo he couldn’t be a hero anymore, they took away his dream, they took away his identity. I don’t think he ever wanted anything other than to be the best. And now that it’s all over, he has nothing left.”
Jirou had been watching Kirishima as he’d spoken, as though carefully examining him for something very specific. She’d always had that shrewd sense about her. “Judging by what happened at the bar, I’d say you’re probably right on the money. He’s a broken person, Kirishima. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. And even though I don’t care at all, I’d say you’re probably the only one who can help him now.”
Kirishima winced at that. That was a thought he’d had for a while now, especially as he and Bakugo had started growing closer. It was like a fantasy in a way - he was the knight in shining armor who would come to Bakugo’s rescue and save him. “But what am I saving him from? Himself?”
Jirou’s eyes glimmered, and she smiled in amusement, a very rare gesture from her. “Yeah. Pretty much. Kiri, I know you. I can see it in your face that it’s killing you to watch Bakugo slide further and further away. You have to do something about it, or it’s going to destroy you.”
The redhead didn’t smile. His eyes were still firmly locked on the mug. Sixteen stars by his count.
“I don’t know what to do.”
The way his voice wavered surprised him. He sounded close to tears, but he didn’t feel like he was about to cry. He was surprised even further when he felt warmth and wetness on his cheeks, and the biggest surprise of all came when he turned and saw genuine concern on Jirou’s face. “I don’t know what to do, Jirou.”
Her eyes were warm and soft. Maybe that was the way she looked at Momo. “Kiri, I’m going to ask you a question, and you’re going to have to answer me honestly. Okay?” She waited for him to nod before she spoke. “Kiri, do you love him?”
Kirishima felt his heart go cold for a moment, and his mind began to race. Love was a word he’d never even really thought about a possibility. He cared deeply for Bakugo, of course, but he cared deeply for everyone. Was Bakugo really special? Was he different?