i. nanatsuji’s (moving up ceremony after-party)
The first thing Sero does, is, of course wait for the tonyu nabe to arrive, the dwelling hunger built up throughout the day in his stomach searching for napa cabbage and pork. It’s their first meal as second years, after all. So Tonyu or bust.
When it finally arrives, Sero tries to ask Todoroki to prep a bowl for him, but is cut off by Todoroki himself.
“Please pass the rice cakes,” he requests, staring down the blonde seated across them.
“They’re spicy,” Bakugou responds, as though he hadn’t just wolfed one down earlier a with barely a sip of water.
“I can take it.” Todoroki frowns.
Bakugou frowns back. Sero groans internally.
“Taste first,” his ‘friend’ says lifting a piece with his chopsticks up to Todoroki’s face.
Sero wrinkles his nose. PDA is fine , but the nabe isn’t getting anywhere closer to where it belongs. He starts trying to call for Ashido’s attention beside Todoroki, but she’s getting in what seems to be a pretty heated debate with Aoyama about proper disco attire. Or something.
Todoroki takes a bite out of the rice cake and sets his mouth in a thin line. “Spicy.”
Bakugou rolls his eyes and mutters a quiet, “Told you,” before going on about Todoroki having a cat’s tongue; but none of that really matters because Sero’s finally gotten Ashido to look at him. She knows immediately what he’s after, and huffs a smile when she realizes why he hasn’t gotten it.
Ashido gives him a silent salute as she passes him a nabe bowl; sliding it across the table with ease. Sero taps his chest twice with a fist, in equally silent but deep thanks as he takes it. They all share this, well, bonding experience. If you can call it that.
“This is so good,” he mutters, inhaling the hotpot, glancing over at their resident oblivious duo. “Please get your act together already.”
Exhale. Tonyu nabe really is the best.
Todoroki glances at him and furrows his eyebrows, directing Bakugou’s attention over, too.
“Sorry, did you say something, Sero?”
“Nothing,” he replies quickly, flashing what he hopes is an appeasing grin at them both. “Heh.”
Ashido snorts at him from Todoroki’s right.
ii. ground gamma (joint hero training with class 2-b)
It’s not like it’s a problem, but it’s also not like it isn’t.
Kirishima spends some time waving enthusiastically to Tetsu-tetsu, and then when he can’t pretend Tetsu-tetsu is looking his way because he wants talk anymore, mourns that he has to at least try and make sense of things.
“Not that I’m bothered by this personally, but you’re kind of attracting a lot of attention right now.”
At this, Bakugou somehow sinks deeper into his costume. Eyes narrowing from exhaustion or annoyance, Kirishima’s not sure. He doesn’t even look the other class’ way. “Don’t care. ’M gonna nap.”
He draws a breath in, adjusting his headgear to rest more comfortably on Todoroki’s shoulder. “Half and half. Move your stupid vest a bit.”
Todoroki snaps the left side of the vest off, only commenting that ‘it is not stupid’ before doing so. Bakugou eclipses the half of him.
Kirishima swallows the swell of fondness he has for his friends in favor of, well, something that might be better. Or easier to explain. “Don’t you mind the staring?”
“No,” Bakugou grumbles. “We’re done. It’s cold.”
“You could borrow an extra jacket from someone?” If he asked, Yaoyorozu-san could probably make him one from scratch, honestly.
Bakugou glares at him with as much heat as someone can after years of certain friendship.
Kirishima deflates a little bit. Acquiescing to defeat for decidedly not the first time. “Or not.”
It’s pretty much the end of discussion, but Todoroki smiles at him apologetically anyway. Bakugou has proceeded to shut his eyes and slouch of all things.
Naturally, Kirishima can’t help but smile back.
“Sorry. I think I’m doing a better job at keeping him warm than that would.”
“Guess you’re right,” he shrugs, more content with the response than he should be.
Kirishima spares one last passing glance at the stares directed their way, stretches his grin like he doesn’t already know the question they want to ask here, and thinks to save another attempt at an answer for a warmer day.
iii. heights alliance (in the study lounge after school)
The numbers start floating off the paper after question five.
Katsuki’s entire face, actually, is probably going to float off his head if he doesn’t get the answer to this problem soon. He’s gone over it thrice, but the sheer frustration of having to look over it more than once makes it hard to figure out what he’s missed.
He takes in a quick scan of the room; no one but Birdie and Todoroki in sight. Katsuki sighs.
“Oi, icyhot. Read this for me.”
Todoroki blinks, gets up from his table, and walks over. “Hmm?”
“This one. I think Ectoplasm-sensei made a typo.”
Todoroki skims over the papers, leaning over from Katsuki’s shoulder.
“Ah, you forgot the negative here when you copied it down earlier.”
Katsuki can’t help the way his forehead creases when he notices it. A careless mistake.
“I see it now,” he says, ruffling his hair and muttering a clipped ‘thank you,’ before he can think better of it.
Todoroki hums something amused, and Katsuki feels it more than he hears it. He moves to shove at the asshole, really, because if the halfie had any manners whatsoever , he’d get at least a ‘you’re welcome’ in return.
Katsuki doesn’t get the chance though, because Todoroki knocks a head against his, and slides out of reach just as quickly as he’d closed in. Katsuki’s brain whirs to life a bit.
“I’m gonna go have lunch now. You can do it.”
How annoying. “Why can’t you just leave like normal people?”
Todoroki shrugs. “You wouldn’t like me if I was boring.”
“I don’t like you either way,” he rolls his eyes, picks up a pencil, and starts to write something intelligible on the margins of his pad, but not before scolding, “You need to start eating at the right time, at least,” before Todoroki is out of earshot.
The asshole doesn’t even say anything back. Just waves on his way out. And people wonder why Katsuki claims he’s the rude one between them.
Halfway through question six, Katsuki looks up to find Tokoyami staring at him with an almost contemplative look in his narrowed eyes.
Now, it’s not like they’re friends or whatever, but maybe sticking around Kirishima and Kaminari has finally changed his brain chemistry, because even though Katsuki couldn’t care less about commentary, his vocal chords dare to go through the motions anyway.
“You got something to say to me?”
Birdbrain closes his eyes, breathes out what might be the longest exhale Katsuki’s seen from anyone, and shakes his head. Then, he takes a bite of an apple and chews slowly.
Katsuki goes back to answering his problem sets, and wards off the feeling that the gesture wasn’t really meant as an answer to his question.
iv. fujioka’s drink stall (on a trip to ikebukuro over the long weekend)
“Is that everyone?” Kaminari asks, typing what is hopefully the last of their long, long list of orders.
“Yeah—“ Kirishima tiptoes beside him, giving the class a last once-over. “Wait, actually, where did Todobro go? He might want something.”
They both turn to Bakugou automatically. He grunts at them, but replies anyway. “Got distracted by some stray. Just get the most tooth-rotting milk tea they have.”
Bakugou glares holes at something on the pavement, breath coming out in small, icy puffs.
“He likes sweets.”
“Ah. Alrighty then,” Kaminari chirps back, somehow amused and a tad annoyed at the same time as he goes to recite their order.
“Hold up, with boba or nah?”
Later, when Todoroki is safely found (and thoroughly lectured), Bakugou hands him his drink, and Kaminari watches as their hands brush for longer than is strictly necessary. Almost routine, these days.
And he could say something about it, pull back from all the glow of an afternoon spent in good company, but he won’t. As much as he’d like for all the circle running to end, he’d like even more for it to end right. After all, gravity always acts in attraction, he knows, but electric fields, for all their potential, can end in repulsion.
Hmph , Kaminari proclaims to himself, and they call him brainless.
v. the unforeseen simulation joint (in its newly added locker room)
Bakugou-kun seems like he’s in a good mood, Iida thinks, sagely. As a re-elected class representative, he does his best to notice these things. Learning textbooks is far easier than learning people. But as far as he can tell, the training drill was a success today, albeit quite challenging. Exactly the kind of activity his classmate would enjoy.
Maybe it would be a good idea to bring up Aizawa-sensei’s surprise party with him, later. Satou-kun is on cake-duty, but Bakugou-kun is still the best cook between them by—
“Seriously, are you this hopeless? Dry your hair, at least.”
Iida snaps his head up from where it was resting on his fist.
Bakugou grimaces at the floor from the showers, spattered with water droplets. Iida does the same, now that it’s been brought to his attention.
“Don’t need to. Temperature regulation,” Todoroki nods, seemingly to himself.
“You’ve made a mess,” Bakugou scolds.
Todoroki turns to look at the water trail, narrowing his eyes. The floorboards start to exhaust steam; a dry spell come over them. Todoroki turns back to face him, tilting his head in question, and Bakugou scoffs.
“Show off,” he says, but the tone of his voice is all strangled when he grabs a stray towel off of the racks. “You’re gonna get all of us fucking sick.”
Bakugou flings it ungracefully on the other boy’s head. He gets a small smile out of Todoroki.
“Idiots can’t catch colds, though.”
“Maybe you’re right, asshole,” Bakugou shrugs, dropping his hands and patting them off.
“Hey–“ Todoroki starts, frown blossoming on his face. Iida tenses up, ready to intervene.
“–So don’t go acting like you’re immune,” Bakugou continues, sliding into Todoroki’s personal space again easily. He grabs at the towel and begins to dry the other boy’s hair off, still looking slightly annoyed when he parts Todoroki’s bangs.
Todoroki flushes a bright red, voice settling into something so quiet that Iida almost doesn’t hear it when he says 'okay.'
And Iida, for all the concentration he puts into keeping a straight face, looks away from secondhand embarrassment. Because surely, you must know it, when you see it.
But, Iida thinks to himself; that doesn’t mean he’s going to say anything about it. At least he knows it’s a good time to ask Bakugou for a favor. The party takes priority for now, after all.
vi. common area (in the dorms, on christmas eve)
Some days, Ochako feels much older than she really is.
Nevermind that it’s Christmas Eve, today just happens to be one of them.
“Todoroki-kun! Stop dozing off!” Really, at their age she’d thought he’d hold out longer than eleven-thirty. But no. He’s been falling in and out of consciousness from their couch for the last hour. “You’re going to miss midnight like that.”
She gets an unintelligible sound as a response. Sero flicks his fingers on her friend’s face as he passes through. Zero effect.
Ochako’s about to go over herself when Bakugou walks out of the kitchen—the only indication he’s celebrating with them is a red sweater that’s probably not even his own. Perfect.
“Bakugou-kun! Go and wake Todoroki-kun up,” she says, feeling oddly like she’s commanding a tokémon.
“Hah? Do it yourself, Round-face,” he replies, a surprising amount of volume held back from his usual inflections. At least he seems to be feeling the holiday spirit, even if just a bit.
“Hagakure-san almost knocked our tree over and accidentally shook out most of the ornaments. Would you rather deal with that? ”
“Fine,” he grunts, stalking over to the couches. Hands in his pockets, he kicks at Todoroki’s shin.
“Oi Icyhot, wake up.”
Todoroki stirs, yawning, and blindly makes grabby hands at him. Bakugou’s shoulders sink.
Bakugou turns back towards her, eyebrows raised in a look that practically spells out, “what now?”
Ochako tips her chin up and makes a shaking motion with her hands, to which Bakugou sighs at. He does as he’s told though, and moves to shake Todoroki’s shoulders.
Todoroki slumps his head right against Bakugou’s chest before he can even try.
“Just let me sleep for a minute. Please,” he murmurs, pressing against the red fabric. It matches the half of his head.
“A minute, huh?” Bakugou repeats, voice soft.
He looks up at Ochako then, glaring at her for approval, and though she’s reluctant to give it, shrugs in acquiescence. There are more pressing things for her to do.
The ornaments don’t take too long to set back up, and Tokoyami helps her with the ones near the top with Dark Shadow. They get the star on just before midnight. She thanks him, and is surprised to see the rest of the class gathered around already.
It’s nice. To have everybody here. The work to make the dorm a lively space is always worth it.
“Merry Christmas, everyone!”
She gets a chorus of ‘Merry Christmas’ in return. She smiles as she scans the circle, wondering where Bakugou and Todoroki are.
Midoriya notices her first.
“Ah, they’re asleep over there,” he says, pointing towards the couches.
Jirou nods, making a face. “Todoroki’s drooling on his chest.”
“Merry Christmas to Bakugou, I guess.” Ojiro adds, wagging his tail in amusement.
Ochako snorts. Well, it’s not like she didn’t try.
“Are you taking a picture?”
“What?” Mina shrugs, just as the polaroid prints out. She holds it up for Ochako to look. “It’s cute. They’re even sorta holding hands! See?”
She looks over, and sure, their limbs are a mess, but she can see what Mina means.
Sero and Kaminari start to make faux puking sounds at that, while the rest of the class laughs at them good-naturedly; so Ochako guesses things turned out alright. There’s always next year, anyway.
vii. visit to the meiji shrine (the night before january first)
“It was a good idea to go to pay our respects after all.”
Izuku looks up at the path up ahead, lanterns bright in his eyes, and wishes he always felt this light. One-For-All’s been getting increasingly difficult to manage these days, even with All Might’s help; but welcoming the new year this way marks a year of milestones for everyone.
Someone makes a vague sound of agreement behind him, but with a party of twenty people, it’s hard to make out the one voice in an already massive crowd. He turns to smile at them, then finds himself face to face with Todoroki.
And it’s a relief to know he thinks so as well, but Izuku can’t help but notice how Bakugou isn’t by his side.
“Hey, where did Kacchan go?”
Todoroki stops walking immediately, spine straightening like a rod. ( Or a magnet, Izuku notes.)
He does a quick once over, not unlike someone missing their house keys, realizing in a small panic that they’re lost.
“Sorry, Midoriya. I’m going to look for him now.”
Izuku nods, waving him off into a sea of people. There’s a real lot of visitors tonight, and though he’s sure Bakugou isn’t anywhere too far; he’s also sure Todoroki won’t be able to settle properly until he’s found.
“Kacchan!! I see Todoroki-kun found you!!”
Bakugou doesn’t give him much of a reaction back, but does at least acknowledge him. “Whatever.”
They’ve migrated into a small open space on the shrine grounds, tucked between an ema stall and what Izuku guesses might be a storage shed. It’s closing in on the new year now; and this is probably their best bet at a peaceful clearing to catch it with the fullness of their breaths.
“Oh and ah-“ Izuku tries, a suggestion to try at getting plaques to write on for themselves never making it past his lips. “Um.”
“What? Spit it out, Deku.”
Izuku scratches the back of his neck. “It's just—You're holding hands.”
Bakugou’s eyes widen for a second, glancing at how his hands are definitely intertwined with Todoroki’s, before softening out. He tugs, and Todoroki stiffens in response. When Bakugou lifts up his arm, it is still very much attached to Todoroki’s own.
“Bastard refuses to let go.”
Izuku nods in understanding, or as close to it as one can get when they can’t really. “I see.”
“So Bakugou will not get lost again.” Todoroki explains, expressionless save for the red peeking around his ears.
Unlike Izuku, Bakugou doesn’t take lightly to that, a bewildered noise scratching its way up his throat. “HAH? I’m old enough to be out on my own. What—“
“You’re too small for us to find in a crowd.“
“What did you just say?!” Bakugou all but roars, drawing the attention of a few of their classmates. Izuku motions that it’s nothing to worry about, and they go back to chatting away and glancing at their watches.
“Well, we won’t exactly be able to find you for your height, and–“
“You’re only two inches taller than me, fucker!”
“Three, now. I believe.” Todoroki states blankly, like he doesn’t know he’s just as good as declared a war. And on the first day of the year, no less.
Izuku drowns the rest of the bickering out in favor of welcoming what’s to come with an open mind, because all will follow in good time, he thinks, fondly if not a little bit exasperatedly.
Though Izuku might add this to his wishlist. Let them resolve whatever‘s going on between them before the next time they visit.
“Half-and-Half, will you let go now?”
“Fine,” Todoroki says, sounding very hesitant and not willing at all. “Just keep close to me.”
Izuku lets a sigh escape him, happy for the clatter, despite. The ensuing flare of fireworks’ laughter rings in his ears; a prognostic to the long year that stretches out before them, all words left unsaid and explosions made to follow.
viii. the campus fields (the morning of todoroki’s birthday)
Todoroki Shouto is seventeen and the sky stretches out before him; blue, like always, but bluer than he’s ever let himself see it.
Normally, his day begins with a jog around the dorm grounds. But today is different.
“Alright,” his companion grumbles, closing his eyes. “Cough it up now.”
“Cough what up?”
Bakugou’s brows crease slightly on his otherwise unbothered face. “What do you want?”
“I mean,” he says, voice tightening, “What do you want for your birthday, because I’ll get it for you.”
Oh. That is not what Todoroki was expecting.
“I–” he starts, voice catching. “I don’t want anything.” And to Todoroki’s surprise, it’s an entirely honest answer. But between having his siblings visit, the gifts he’s already received, and the morning in question, it is.
“You can’t be real here, halfie. I am literally offering to give you anything.” Bakugou sits up at that, and fixes him with a weird look. “There has to be something that you want, Todoroki.”
Well, there’s something, he thinks, as Bakugou’s seemed to at least stop calling him unnecessary nicknames, at least for today.
“Like what?” Todoroki asks, curious to know what else Bakugou thinks he might want.
“I don’t know,” Bakugou replies, and he offers a measured breath to the clouds. “A houseplant. Another boring turtleneck. A month’s worth of cold soba, even. Just something, ya know?”
Todoroki mulls it over, holds up the dandelion he’d picked from his side earlier (when the breeze threatened to do so itself), and twirls the stem between his fingers. He considers that last suggestion for a while longer, because that’d mean Bakugou would have to make him lunch for a full thirty days, at least.
He thinks better of that, though; and decides on a whim to blow the dandelion fuzz into the wind. “I don’t want anything because I’m happy with what I’ve got right now.”
It goes quiet, and Todoroki splays his arms out, humming. In all honesty, he's pretty sure Bakugou played quite a hand in his surprise party the night before. (Fuyumi's signature mapo tofu was kind of a dead giveaway considering she didn't arrive until after midnight.) The thought has his lips quirking already.
Bakugou shrugs at his side. “You know what? Fair enough.”
Grass folds between them again easily; the curve of an elbow poking at his right. His companion does not think to count the centimeters when he crosses the endless distance, and smiles back at him with reservations left behind.
Of course, it’s not like Bakugou Katsuki ever does things half-heartedly.
Todoroki feels his own heart rate spike. Marvels at the person he's learned to call a rival over the years and wonders how he'd missed these feelings before.
“Um,” he starts, feeling a blush creep up his neck.
“What now?” Bakugou asks, not sounding as annoyed as he usually would.
“I–” he tries again, voice thick. “I just thought of something that I want for my birthday.”
The ground next to him shifts, and it’s belatedly that Todoroki realizes it does so from laughter. “God, you are so annoying,” Bakugou chortles on, “What is it? Rethinking the soba offer?”
“I think I might want to kiss you,” he blurts.
Bakugou stops laughing immediately. Todoroki’s heart beats furiously against his chest, and his throat starts to warm with tension not unlike the kind after a good cry, almost regretting saying anything at all.
“Oh.” Bakugou nods then, silent and expressionless. “Okay. But also, might?”
Todoroki sits up with a jolt and shakes his head furiously, willing his voice not to crack. “No, I’m sure.” and adds, “But only if you want to." incase that isn’t clear enough.
Bakugou, on his part, seems to think it over for a bit. He stays quiet, like he’s actually considering this, like Todoroki isn’t just jumping headfirst into something that’s completely off the rails alone. It only makes him want it more; like this could be the catch to his fall, the right thing at the right–
Bakugou kisses him.
It’s barely a peck, really. But it’s enough for Todoroki to question why he didn’t ask for this much earlier.
Wide-eyed and face burning, dumbly, he asks, “You finished thinking it over?”
“Yeah,” Bakugou says, and the only indication of the kiss actually happening is the hand at his side, picking at a stray clump of weeds. “I’m just better and faster at it than you are.”
“Again,” Todoroki says, breathless. (And much more confident than he feels.)
“Again?” Bakugou questions, leaning closer once more. This time, he stays long enough for their heads to rest against each other. Long enough that Todoroki starts to feel warm despite being able to regulate his temperature.
“Yes,” Todoroki says, voice sounding foreign to his own ears. His hands find purchase in the dip of Bakugou’s neck, wild tuffs of hair tickling his fingers. “Until we have to go back.”
He shuts his eyes then, welcomes the roller coaster sensation blooming behind them, and waits patiently for the climb to reach its inevitable peak.
“What do I even like about you,” Bakugou snorts into their second kiss, and this time he doesn’t just cross the endless distance, but closes it completely.
“Oh my god, yes. Finally,” Kaminari exclaims, shoulders sagging the moment they enter the classroom. “Imagine if we had to wait until April for Bakugou’s birthday…” he shivers slightly, jittery at the idea of his own thought.
Sero looks at him in disbelief. “I think one of us would have stuck them in a broom closet way before it came to that. Even Yaoyorozu-san was getting impatient.”
“I’m sorry,” Todoroki interrupts, very much confused. “You all know that Bakugou and I are together now?”
“Oh please,” Uraraka says, giving them a once over as she does so.
Bakugou’s ears turn bright red. “How?! We haven’t told anyone! Hell, we just settled it ourselves.”
“Well,” Ashido starts, pointing a finger at her chin, “We just call it like we see it, you know?”