Chapter 1: Up to the Challenge
“The first known written reference of Japan was recorded in the Chinese Book of Han. This book was composed by Ban Gu with the help of his sister Ban Zhao to continue the work of their father. They modelled this work after the Records of the Grand Historian, but theirs was the first annals-biography to cover a single dynasty.
“Between the fourth and ninth century, Japan’s many kingdoms and tribes gradually came together to become unified under a centralized government. This government was nominally controlled by the Emperor. The artifacts uncovered from these periods are detrimental to our history as a nation and the only way to truly understand the past.” Several pictures clicked through the powerpoint, all containing a multitude of pottery, fossils, and technologies.
Katsuki Bakugou stood just to the side of the projection, remote in his hand as he changed slides to keep his auditorium interested. Normally, he hated powerpoints, but it was the best way to show artifacts without his students resorting to turn towards their textbooks every time he wanted them to study the details in order to determine which dynasty a piece was from.
“As you can see, this pot is from the Jōmon period. It’s the earliest known sign of human life on Japan. This single piece of pottery tells us today that humans were around roughly 40 thousand years ago. It also tells us that life in Japan at the time was purely a hunter-gatherer habitation.” He paused, glancing at the raised hand that shot up in his peripherals. He gave a silent, annoyed nod to the student to ask their question so he could continue with his lecture.
“Wouldn’t that be around the Paleolithic era?” the student asked, lowering their hand.
Katsuki nodded robotically, gesturing towards the pot shown on the projector. “That’s right. This pot was from the Paleolithic era. The artifacts that were found, like this pot, were so unique in their forms and shapes that it was quite literally unlike anything ever found in neighboring areas of continental Asia. It is our first evidence found that humans were in Japan in that era. Cool, right?”
The auditorium rang out with agreement and Katsuki continued on in his lecture, eventually moving on to a different era until he decided he wanted to stop talking for the day. He sat down at his desk for a moment before assigning some reading for them to finish after class.
“This shouldn’t take you more than an hour. I know all of you have work from other classes, so I just want you to read through chapter 7 in your books before I see you all next.” After tiredly dismissing them, the class immediately packed up and headed out as he sat at his desk in front of his computer.
The auditorium was small compared to the school's others. The rows of desks ascended to prevent people from not seeing the board. His desk sat away from the board and closer to the large window that overlooked the courtyard. The seats were made of wood, though Katsuki didn't bother to know what kind. His desk was the only thing in the room that fit in with the technology around him. It was made of sleek, black painted wood, heavy and modernly designed with orange drawer handles.
Clicking the power button on the remote, the projector beeped before shutting down completely. Once the projector was down and the students had all filed out, Katsuki ran a hand through his hair. He checked his phone and decided to finally respond to his mother.
When his phone pinged, he glanced at the notification at the top of his screen. The message was cut off, but Katsuki could see who it was from. Clicking on it, he stared at the message from Eijirou. They didn’t text much, not like they used to in high school when Eijirou was trying so desperately to get him to be his friend. Still, it was nice to see a message from his best friend, even if it did kind of freak him out how the fake redhead knew his class had been dismissed early. The message literally said he was on his way because he wanted to see him.
I just let out class.
Glad to know you can text me back.
I can stop.
They met their first year in high school. Their seats weren't anywhere near each other, but Eijirou attached himself to the blonde as fast as possible. Despite Katsuki not wanting to be friends, somehow the redhead weaseled his way in. Ever since, it was hard to find one without the other.
Katsuki didn’t much mind the idea that Eijirou wanted to see him, but it usually meant he wanted something. At thirty-two, Katsuki Bakugou knew at this point that he would not like anything that Eijirou would want from him.
It didn’t take long for his friend to come rushing into his classroom. It had stopped freaking Katsuki out ages ago. Eijirou used this tactic often. If he wanted something, he had to get it as soon as possible. Katsuki watched the door thump as if someone had run into it before it thrusted open aggressively. He simply blinked at his friend in the doorway. He'd always been like this. Eijirou would text him and then show up almost five minutes later, like he enjoyed waiting until the last moment to let him know he was coming, just burst in like a bat out of hell. The sudden entrances used to scare the ever living shit out of Katsuki.
As soon as the redhead’s eyes landed on Katsuki, he ran over to him. There was no reason to run, but here Eijirou was, doing it anyway. Why? The blonde would never understand anything his so-called best friend did. Like why did the guy have a crush on Deku of all people? That one had him stumped for years. The only reason he even knew that Eijirou liked the broccoli-haired man was because the three of them had attended to the same high school.
“Katsuki!” Eijirou exclaimed the moment he skidded to a halt in front of him. Before he could get a word out though, the redhead dropped to his knees in front of him and grabbed his hands.
Katsuki stared at him dumbfounded. “What the fu-?”
“There’s no time to explain! Well there is, but I’d rather hear your answer first. I need you to do something for me! Would you do me the honor…” - Eijirou paused, trying for dramatic effect while he gave Katsuki the most loving look he could muster, but all it did was make him really uncomfortable - “of leading my new trip to Peru?”
The blonde blinked at his friend, silent for a solid minute. “Did you think that trying to make it seem like you were proposing to me would convince me to say yes to that?”
The redhead groaned, releasing his grip on Katsuki’s hands and whining, “Why not?”
“You know exactly why I stopped doing those,” the teacher growled, pushing his chair back to get further away.
Eijirou stood and moved to sit on the edge of his friend’s desk like it was a seat. “Yeah, but I think you should do this for me!”
“I’m not going to Peru, hair for brains.”
The sigh that came from Eijirou made it seem like Katsuki had denied him the best possible thing. “But I want you to come!”
“Eijirou, I already said no. Fuck off. I’m not going to Peru - ever.” Katsuki turned his chair towards his laptop and pointedly ignored his friend in favor of pretending to do work.
“Fine, fine, I guess you won’t be seeing Uraraka over the break then,” Eijirou muttered, crossing his arms as he finally relented.
“I wasn’t going to see her over the break anyway. We aren’t friends.”
“You would have if you were leading my trip.”
Katsuki paused and glared at his friend. He knew exactly what game he was playing, but was still curious who would win. Slowly, Katsuki sat back in his chair, eyes narrowing smugly. “And how exactly did you convince her to go?”
Eijirou shrugged and turned to look out the window. “I didn’t convince her. Midoriya suggested she come since it’ll be an adventure.”
“Oh yeah, it’ll be an adventure for sure. An adventure filled with bugs that carry deadly disease, crawling in caves, finding dead bodies that have had thousands of years to decay, and almost getting killed by all the traps set up to keep people out. Such an adventure.”
The redhead rolled his eyes. “That stuff only ever happens to you.”
Katsuki stared his friend down, red eyes gleaming with anger. Those things used to happen to him a lot. Back when he used to go regularly searching for artifacts, he’d had multiple issues thrown at him. He’d quit simply because of the amount of lives lost in the amount of trips he’d been in. Everything else just seemed like the cherry on top to an utterly fucked up sundae.
“It can happen to anyone,” he muttered, crossing his arms as he glared.
“Well, if - huge if - something bad happens, wouldn’t you prefer to be with us so we won’t just immediately die?” Eijirou asked, pouting as if it would convince his friend.
Katsuki stared blankly at his friend. “Why would I care if something happened to you?”
Eijirou raised an eyebrow and said, “Because then you’ll never get the chance to ask Uraraka on a date.”
Embarrassment rose inside the blonde’s chest, coloring his cheeks almost the same shade as his friend’s dyed hair. Eijirou never failed to call his bluff, even now. “I am not going to ask her on a date!”
“But you want to.”
“I’ll kill you!”
“Nah, but eventually you’ll grow a pair and ask her out,” Eijirou pressed, a smile threatening to take over his already smug looking face. “Can’t do that if she dies in a jungle thousands of miles from here, right?”
Katsuki pinched the bridge of his nose to fight down the humiliation and frustration and sighed. “Fine. I’ll go.”
“Yay! I knew you loved me!”
“I am not going for you!” Katsuki shouted, kicking at his friend viciously. “Get the hell out of my classroom, you red-haired loser!”
Eijirou simply laughed, trying to fend off his friend’s attacks as he got off the desk. He moved around the blonde and planted a wet kiss on his cheek before running as fast as he could out of the auditorium. Katsuki sat, shaking with rage in his seat over the taunting. What the hell did he just agree to?
Katsuki adjusted his duffle bag on his shoulder, not excited about the fact that they were taking a ship rather than a plane. Their equipment, which was apparently enough to require a whole ship, had to be hauled to Peru. He wasn’t sure how they would get all the equipment to the temples or even what most of it was for, but he kind of hated how big Eijirou had been able to make this excavation.
He stepped up to the dock that their ship was sitting at, though he knew absolutely nothing about boats. He had never gone on a museum funded excavation, mainly because museums were all about displaying stolen artifacts. He didn’t want to exploit Peru and just take whatever they were looking for, only for it to end up sitting in a place that no one would bother visiting often.
Museums didn’t actually steal artifacts anymore, but Katsuki didn’t really care. The museums that used to had never returned the stolen artifacts. Under every museum, there was a history of stolen artifacts. Katsuki prefered to give them back to the country it belonged to.
Scanning the crowds, he spotted the red hair of his friend. Eijirou Kirishima was easy to spot. He was tall and his hair made him stand out. Along with his loud ass voice, Katsuki never had a problem finding him. It also helped that the blonde himself was tall enough to see over everyone’s heads.
As he got closer, he spotted someone he did not expect to see. The dark, green hair and freckled face made Katsuki uncomfortable. Slowing his stride, the explosive teacher tried to remember if Eijirou had mentioned Deku coming along on this trip. Among other reasons Katsuki did not like his childhood friend, he used to ferociously pick on him.
He’d apologized long ago, but that didn’t mean Katsuki enjoyed being around the plain-looking man. Though he had started looking classically handsome after hitting puberty, Katsuki remembered when Deku looked like a walking broccoli tree. Then again, the blonde had been raised by parents who worked in the fashion industry. Judging people based on looks was something Katsuki had known how to do at a very young age.
“Oh! Kacchan!” Deku shouted over the bustle of the crowd. All three friends that he had been moving towards as slowly as possible turned to look in his direction. Immediately his eyes landed on the cute round face of Ochako Uraraka.
“Kacchan, huh?” Eijirou asked smugly.
Katsuki scowled. “No.”
“I didn’t know you were coming, Bakugou! This is going to be really fun!” Uraraka said, touching her fingers together. It was a strange habit in Katsuki’s opinion, but he also guessed she was probably trying to stop herself from picking at her nails.
He simply nodded in response, turning his head away.
Eijirou nudged him with his elbow and raised a brow. “Why do you look like you’re going to the gym?” the redhead asked.
Katsuki looked down at his outfit. He wore a black tactical spandex tank top that would keep the fabric from absorbing sweat or water, tapered cargo pants that would allow him better movement, and his green and black jungle boots. Of course, he had more clothes in his duffle bag, along with his climbing axes, his combat knife, and a pair of walkie talkies.
He looked back up at Eijirou with a frown. “What the hell do you mean?”
“Why are you dressed like you’re going mountain climbing?”
“You do realize that all of this is appropriate attire for traversing through a jungle, right?” Katsuki growled. “Which is what we’re going to be doing. You signed us up for a very long, trail blazing hike through a jungle.”
Eijirou shrugged. “It's just a jungle, right? What's the big deal?”
“Jaguars, bugs, snakes, mud, possibly piranhas, and eels,” the blonde responded. “Those are kind of a big deal.”
Uraraka looked perplexed. “Do you think we'll see those?”
“Well, we’re basically stepping into their territory, so it would be weird not to see them,” Deku said, gripping the strap of his own bag.
Back in their twenties, Deku had accompanied Katsuki on some excavations. Aside from the fact that Katsuki had a lot of problems while he traveled, Deku worked for the same company that funded their trips. They often teamed up, the green-haired man doing the majority of the extensive research. They both enjoyed having an intellectual equal. Still, Katsuki preferred not to work with anyone. It was easier in small groups not to lose any lives.
A loud horn sounded from the ship beside them, signalling it was time to board and snapping Katsuki out of his thoughts. He seemed to be lost in them often lately, the impending freak accident he expected drawing him more and more anxiously inside his own head.
“What kind of snakes?” Eijirou asked as he lead the way onto the ship.
Deku stopped walking to count on his hands for a minute. “There are around 200 species of snakes in Peru alone, one of which is the green anaconda. It's the largest snake in the world. Females can grow up to six meters.”
“It's mostly aquatic, so stay out of the water,” Katsuki added.
Uraraka shuddered in front of him. Once they were on the deck, Eijirou turned to his group of friends. “Well, I don't think we'll run into that.”
“It's best to be careful,” Deku said, setting his backpack down at his feet. “We also have to watch for bushmasters.”
The three continued to talk about Peru's native snakes while Katsuki zoned out. He tried not to stare directly at Uraraka, mainly because he felt that would be weird, but he also didn't want her thinking he was paying attention. He turned his head away, looking around the ship with a downright bored expression on his face. Everything was being moved around by ship workers. With a ship this size, Katsuki guessed there were over a hundred workers, but he couldn't be sure.
His attention was called back to the group when a high-ranking man approached them. Judging by his uniform, the man was probably the captain.
“Welcome aboard; I look forward to working with you all,” the man greeted politely. The group responded in kind, deeply bowing to show their respect. “If you all would like to be settled in, we can start the tour and get you all to your room.”
The tour started and Katsuki mentally checked out again. Depending on the weather, they'd be on the ship for eight to eleven days . He hoped it was the lesser of the two. He really did not want to be stuck on a giant ass ship for two weeks straight. He still didn't understand why they needed to even take a ship. A plane was just so much faster. He'd rather spend thirty hours in the air than eight to eleven days at sea.
Eventually, the captain showed them their room. It was a big ship, but all the crew members also had rooms so the group of four had to share. Katsuki immediately tossed his bag onto the top bunk on the right side of the room while Kirishima went for the bunk just below him.
“Try to relax. We'll get you all to Peru safely.”
That made Katsuki roll his eyes. It didn't matter how many times he had heard someone say he'd get somewhere safely; he almost never did. It was impossible for them to be able to predict everything. That didn't mean Katsuki thought little of the captain; he'd just been through too many accidents and was skeptical about coming in the first place.
The room was silent around him as he unpacked the case that contained his climbing axes. He knew everyone else was in there with him, but he figured maybe they didn't want to talk. It was going to be a long trip and they had plenty of time for that boring shit.
“So, Bakugou, what class do you teach?” Uraraka's voice called behind him.
Katsuki turned to look at her, briefly confused when he saw it was only her in the room before turning his body completely. “I teach Biological and Cultural Anthropology, Archeology and Linguistics.”
She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Why do you teach all of that?”
“Those are required to receive a degree in archeology.”
“So you teach all of it?” she asked, leaning forward in her seat. Katsuki just nodded. “I've seen you around the campus, but you're kind of a ghost.”
Katsuki raised an eyebrow at her, sitting down on Eijirou's bunk across from her. “Then how do you know my name?”
“Mainly because of Izuku. He sees you around the campus when he comes to have lunch with me and talks about you a lot.”
His eyes narrowed at her. “What does that nerd say?”
“Oh, he doesn't shut up about how amazing you are. He's always talking about your discoveries and his excavations with you before you quit,” she explained. Her eyes never seemed to leave his. It made him sort of uncomfortable to be under her scrutiny for so long.
Katsuki really didn't know how to respond to that, so he simply shrugged. Still, it was the first time she had initiated a conversation with him at all. Mostly they just said good morning to each other and that was only when they ran into one another in the halls.
“When did you stop?” Uraraka asked.
“Are you always full of this many fucking questions?”
Uraraka shrugged and started to pull out some things from her bag. She remained quiet before continuing the conversation. “I teach Greek and Egyptian Mythology and Latin.”
She handed over a book that covered the Aztec empire - well, the basics of it at least. “Why the hell are you lugging this around?” he asked, his voice raising in his agitation.
“Just in case, you know? I like to know what I'm looking at,” she explained, pulling up pictures of Aztec mythology on her phone. “I found a whole lot out before the school went on summer break. Do you know anything about the Aztec empire?”
“A little more than basic knowledge. I focused a lot on neighboring lands of Japan, but Central and Southern America has always interested me.”
She gave him a pensive look before smiling at him. That smile could make him melt if he let it. “You're a lot different than what Izuku said you were like.”
His eye twitched in annoyance. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Just thought you'd be yelling more, I guess. That's what he said you did.”
“I don't always yell, but I can start if that's what you want,” he snapped, embarrassed that someone had already put an impression of him in her mind. He barely knew her and she already had assumptions.
“No, that's okay. I like being wrong when it comes to people.”
Katsuki really didn't know how to respond to that, so he didn't. He just flipped through the book she had handed him as they both felt the ship lurch and start moving. She opened the other book she brought and reclined back on her bed.
It was a few hours of reading before Eijirou and Deku came into the room with food for everyone.
“Really? You're reading?” Eijirou asked, setting down Katsuki's bowl on his lap. The blonde set down the book and picked up the bowl.
“Well, we both kind of figured that it would be best to understand the civilization we were going to enter,” Uraraka said, happily digging into her own meal.
“That's a great idea!” Deku said, already leaning over to look through the book Uraraka had been reading through.
Katsuki took the time to chew his food and swallow before he looked at Eijirou. “What exactly are we looking for?”
“A scepter and shield. Those are our main goals. It's said that apart these artifacts can cause natural disasters, but together they can start the world over again. We have a decent idea of where the shield is, but the scepter is kind of lost. We're basically following a riddle I got from another archeologist who couldn't come with us,” Eijirou explained in between bites.
Katsuki thought about that. A shield and scepter that had to do with destruction and creation said very little. “What's the riddle?”
The silence that followed meant that Eijirou mostly forgot what the riddle was, but he produced a bundle of pictures from his pocket to show Katsuki. The first picture showed an altar, something vaguely Incan, but mainly Mayan inspired. He flipped through the stack, eyes scanning the symbols, not noticing Deku coming up on his opposite side to look at them as well.
“Look, a pink fish,” Deku muttered, pointing to one of the carvings.
“An archeologist with experience in Aztec, Mayan and Incan culture would have been smart, Eiji,” Katsuki snapped, glaring at the redhead. “This is going to take me days to decipher.”
“I have some,” Deku offered. Katsuki handed the photos over. As he scanned each photo carefully, the green-haired man began to mutter his thoughts out loud.“Some of these are really vague. It looks like there's a date… Trees that hug close. There's a jaguar which could mean danger or sacred. I'm not too sure. I'm going to need time to look at these.”
“There's a chunk of this part missing. What about that?” Eijirou asked.
“Well, it's clearly a number, but it could be an eight or a thirteen. It's hard to determine which.”
Katsuki watched the two interact, paying attention only for a bit before his eyes found their way across the bed to look at Uraraka. She was sitting quietly, done eating for now and watching them discuss the pictures. Carefully, he stood and took her bowl from her. She looked up at him, eyes wide before handing the dish over. He set them both on the side table before leaving to find a restroom to use. He knew how long he had to be on the ship, but he wanted so badly for it to be over already. Especially since he had to share a room with the woman he'd been secretly admiring from afar for months.
Again, as he washed his hands, Katsuki Bakugou wondered what he'd gotten himself into.
Chapter 2: Last Known Position
This is where shit gets real
I decided to post a couple days early. Mainly cause I was bored at work and wanted to see everyones reaction to this
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It had been raining all day. Katsuki tried to stomp the nervous pit settling in his stomach, but the rain made him nervous. Eight days had gone by with no incidents and for that he was thankful, but as if God had a personal grudge against Katsuki, it started pouring. The ship rocked angrily, but the crew went about their business as if rain wasn't pelting them from the skies.
The rain never let up, even as the day continued into the evening. He had dinner with the other three, but they all left to check on the equipment while Katsuki stayed in the room. He didn't want to think about the storm the ship had to trudge slowly through.
Katsuki laid down on his bunk to try to relax. Ultimately he knew it would be useless, but he wanted to at least try. The bed itself wasn't comfortable, but it also wasn't the worst thing he'd ever slept on. That being said, he missed his own bed. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and let the rocking ship lull him. Slowly, his breathing evened out and he fell asleep.
He wasn't sure what woke him first: the sound of loud creaking that did not sound right or the fact that he quite literally was flung from his bunk. Landing heavily on the floor, he groaned. The floor of a ship’s room, little more than metal flooring with an old rug tossed over it, was not soft.
Scanning the room, Katsuki watched as everything was tossed from its place. He struggled to stand for a moment, the rocking of the room only knocking him back on his stomach. Panic rose steadily to his throat, the burning making him think he might vomit. Another loud clanging drew his attention away from the panic gripping his pounding heart from falling out of bed.
Katsuki jumped up, grabbing his combat knife before making his way out into the hallway. Usually, the hallways were crawling with the ship's crew, but now they were desolate. Water soaked the floors, causing Katsuki to slip on the metal and reach out to grasp the walls to keep himself upright. His gaze zipped around until he saw the staircase leading to the deck and he started pushing his way forward.
What felt like hours to him really took milliseconds as he bounded for the stairs, dread settling deep in his stomach. The ship jostled, a deafening sound of metal ripping apart, and Katsuki fell heavily into the wall to his right. He grunted, pushing himself away from the wall to continue stumbling his way to the stairs. Cold seawater seeped into his shoes, stunning him momentarily. Still, he pushed forward as the rising water made it to his waist.
“Shit!” he cursed, trying to pick up speed. “DEKU!”
The floor started to tilt, the water under his feet pulling behind him. His feet slipped from under him, his whole body slamming into the floor roughly. Screaming as he fell deeper into the water, he searched the area with wide eyes for anything to save himself with. As soon as his eyes landed on the nearest doorway, Katsuki grabbed it, knuckles white as he gripped the metal as tightly as he could. Chancing a glance below him, he found the lights flickering out as water consumed the hallway. The only real sound since he'd exited his room had been his own breathing, but now it was like he could suddenly hear everything. The sound of the ship squealing in protest, the storm raging outside, the shouts of people on the deck.
He lifted his head up, trying to pull himself up into the room before the water could potentially crush him. “EIJIROU!”
The roar of the water rushing up at him drowned out the sounds of people screaming from above him. It drowned out his own screams as he desperately kicked his legs to get the rest of his body into the room. Everything in that moment seemed to slow as the water suddenly engulfed him, slamming into him so forcefully his back hit the other side of the doorway. He screamed in pain, letting out what air he had tried to get before being submerged.
Lungs tight from letting out air, Katsuki pulled himself into the room fully. Hastily, he searched his belt for the combat knife. His hands patted down his hips, distress increasing until finally his fingers made contact with the rubber handle. Pulling the combat knife out of its holster, the blonde propelled himself towards the small porthole that showed a clear view of the equipment sinking around the ship.
Holding the knife with the blade facing himself, Katsuki used his weight to thrust the handle against the glass of the porthole. His lungs burned with the need for air, his focus zeroing in on breaking the glass. Reeling his arm back, he slammed the handle into the glass, almost letting out a shout of victory as the thick glass cracked. He counted himself lucky that the water wasn't freezing or he'd have been dead long ago.
It only needed a few more hits, but Katsuki's vision was darkening and he could feel his body getting heavier. Desperately, the blonde lifted himself up, grabbing onto the bedpost. With all his might, he lifted his legs and slammed a booted foot into the window where the crack was. He repeated this until his foot finally went through the glass, slicing through his pant leg and nicking his skin.
Scrambling through the hole, Katsuki's vision blurred more as he scrambled in the opposite direction of the sinking ship. Pumping his legs harder against the current, he broke the surface just as he could no longer hold his breath. Waves crashed around him, thunder cracking violently in the sky above as he coughed, trying to keep his head up. Ashen blonde hair fell into his eyes, obscuring his sight further than the surrounding darkness already had.
“URARAKA!” Katsuki called, voice cracking in despair.
If any of his friends had answered, the archeologist would never know. Red eyes widened before snapping closed just as he was thrown back under the waves. His head slammed painfully into something hard, blacking out his vision completely. His body flailed uselessly against the current, taking deep breaths of air whenever he could, only to be thrown under water way more times than he could count with his head throbbing.
In a last attempt at staying above water, Katsuki wrapped his arms around something floating in the water, pulling his upper half onto it as the waves crashed around him. He coughed more water up, closing his eyes and succumbing to the abyss that welcomed his subconscious.
His face felt hot. Actually, now that he thought about it, his entire body felt hot. That still didn't prompt him into opening his eyes. It took him a while to determine his surroundings with his eyes closed, but the sounds of waves crashing against sand convinced him to pry his eyes open. Blinking, he stared out at warm sand being cooled by the small, rolling waves. A warm breeze rustled his blonde hair, but it did nothing to cool his skin.
Slowly, Katsuki pushed himself up off his stomach. Sand clung to every inch of him, irritating his sunburnt skin further. Rolling his hips, he sat up to look out over the ocean that lay in front of him. The front of his cargo pants were soaked from laying just inside the shoreline with sand sticking to the entirety of his body.
His head throbbed in agony, his whole body screaming at him for moving. He lifted a hand to where his head hurt to check if he was bleeding. His hand came away with crusted blood, but nothing fresh. Katsuki just stared out at the ocean, trying to keep his breathing even. He was alone, God knows where, with most likely a concussion and no supplies. His group was nowhere in sight, but he could see a bunch of random cargo boxes.
Carefully, Katsuki stood up. His right ankle stung at his movements, but he ignored it. Limping slightly, he walked over to the boxes and started to pry them open. It would be much easier with his climbing axes, but he couldn't have everything, he guessed. Someone up there hated him.
Luckily, despite having zero energy, the boxes opened easily. Katsuki guessed the saltwater had weakened them, but he counted it as a small win. If he let himself sit and think about it, he would be overcome with his own fear. He had to keep going.
“No one is coming to save you,” he muttered to himself as he ripped open another crate.
Inside sat mostly just rations and cloth. Grabbing the cloth first, he ripped some strips off to wrap his ankle. Then he reached in and pulled out some of the fruit, smelling it to see if it was rotten. With no idea how long he'd been out, he deemed the fruit edible and took a bite of one.
He continued to munch on the fruit as he made a makeshift sack with the cloth to carry as much as he could. Katsuki fastened the sack over his shoulder and tied it across his chest. With the new satchel, he wandered into the shallows of the ocean to look for more of the wreckage to search through.
He methodically picked through the salvage, storing useful items in one pile on the beach and the other things he might use in another pile. Katsuki knew the walkie talkies he'd found would be useless, so he kicked them away from his pile. He stored whatever he found in his pockets besides the first aid kit, which he stuffed in the satchel with the fruit.
Katsuki sighed, looking around the beach for anything else. Finding nothing, he moved to the water again to wash his face of sand. Granted, his whole body was covered in sand, but he wasn't about to just lay down in the water. He wiped his face and shook his hands to fling the water off.
The treeline of the jungle haunted him. The sounds of monkeys screaming in the distance and the buzzing of bugs echoing around him. As if it was growing, Katsuki turned away, trying to control his breathing. His throat closed up as he swallowed shallowly.
Squaring his shoulders, he channeled the panic into rage and stomped his way to the jungle. It didn't look nearly as closed up as he originally thought, so he slipped between the trees and bushes to wander further in. The sun couldn't shine much through the trees, so the air was cooler than he anticipated. It was a relief on his already burnt skin. Salt water did not make for good sunscreen.
The foliage brushed against his face as he shimmied his way through. Hopefully, he could find a more open area, as he wasn't completely sure where to place his feet. Bushmasters were called that for a reason. The last thing he needed was to step on an extremely deadly snake.
Pushing through to what looked like a path, he wiped at the sweat pooling along his brow. Bugs swarmed him, attracted to the musky scent he gave off. Annoyance coursed through him. He'd known bugs were going to be a problem, but not this close to the ocean.
Life had a way of kicking Katsuki in the ass though. His shoes were soaked through to his socks. Blisters were in the blonde's near future. Carefully, he pushed himself through the thicket, but still fell through completely. Landing on his face, he groaned. Mud caked the front of his pants and tank top, splattering into his face and hair.
Thankfully, the mud sat in the shadow and soothed the burnt areas on his arms. Rolling to his back to sit up, he grabbed more mud and rubbed it further up his arm. With his arms completely coated, he rubbed some onto his cheeks and forehead.
If his mother saw him, she'd murder him - scream at him until he cleaned up - but his mother wasn't here and he doubted she knew how to keep herself alive in a horrible situation. He didn't doubt his mother could survive by sheer willpower alone. The woman was a fucking menace.
Covered in mud except his hair, Katsuki stood and continued his way along the muddy path. His shirt dried as he continued to walk and he thanked his good instinct to take a nap in his tactical tank and cargo pants. He couldn't imagine waking up in wet pajamas, let alone have to trek through the jungle in them.
Hours passed. As the sun set, Katsuki could feel his legs giving out under him. His muscles ached, practically screaming at him for more rest. The blonde knew, however, that if he stopped now, he wouldn't be able to keep going, so he trudged on. He pulled the makeshift satchel around to his front to grab a fruit when he could no longer ignore his stomach.
The fruit sated any thirst he might have had, but it barely gave him energy like food was supposed to. Still, he continued walking until his legs finally gave under him. Falling to his knees, he let out an angry groan. Pain sang throughout his body and his head throbbed from either the probable concussion or the exhaustion taking over. He couldn't quite put a pin on it, but he figured his best bet would be to find a relatively dry area to build a fire.
Pulling himself to his feet, Katsuki slowly trudged on, watching the ground as he walked. His feet hurt. The skin felt like it was splitting open and he was sure that he would have some horrible athletes’ foot by the time he got home. Kicking some dirt up, he deemed it dry enough to make a fire and started setting his things down.
“Guess I gotta do this the old-fashioned way,” he muttered as he started scouring the area for sticks.
Jumping up, he grabbed a branch hanging low from a nearby tree and used his weight to pull it completely down. It would have to do as a weapon for now. He didn't have his knife or climbing axes. With the sticks all set by his other salvaged items, he squinted in the dark to find ways to start a fire.
After nearly an hour of searching, Katsuki could hardly see as he rubbed two sticks together to create a spark. His arms were aching already and more work made it worse, but he kept going, anger the only thing that drove him to keep going.
He grumbled under his breath as he rubbed the sticks together harder until finally it sparked. Triumphantly, Katsuki held the small flame to the dried leaves he'd stuffed under the sticks. Gently, he blew on the flame and watched as it got bigger until finally it caught and lit up.
“Finally,” he cheered softly, letting the accomplishment wash over him to dull the anger he felt.
It didn't work.
Sitting back, Katsuki ran a dirty hand through matted blonde locks as he let his brain run through everything that had happened. He remembered struggling to escape the ship and barely making it to the surface, but he didn't remember much after that. He must have hit his head soon after. Anger coursed through him when he realized he had no idea if Eijirou, Deku, and Uraraka made it out alive.
Eyes burning, he focused on the crackle of the flame in front of him. After a moment, he started to unlace his boots and pulled them off in a fit along with his socks. Already, Katsuki could see reddened skin on his toes and heels. He used the bigger stick he'd pulled off the tree to hang his socks above the fire so they could dry properly. His boots would be damp in the morning, but at least he wouldn't be standing in puddles.
Leaning back, he tried his best not to let tears well up. He couldn't let himself grieve yet when he didn't know if they had died. For all he knew, they had made it to the same shore and he was the only one separated. Despite trying to talk himself out of the panic attack, a few tears still rolled down pale cheeks. His breathing hitched in his throat despite trying to keep it even.
It felt like forever for his breathing to even out, but it must have only been a few minutes. Katsuki wanted desperately to sleep, his emotions frazzled and his body hurting. Everything could wait until tomorrow. If he was being honest, he didn't want to sleep on the jungle floor with how many spiders lived in the Amazon.
Pushing that information out of his mind, Katsuki leaned against the tree roots behind him and closed his eyes. Sleep was not easy. Every little noise jerked him back to consciousness. At some point, he had to put more wood on the fire to keep it from burning out. Disappointment coursed through him as sunlight shone through the leaves to hit him directly in the face.
Opening his eyes, he blinked. His body still hurt and he hadn't really gotten a whole lot of sleep, but he did feel better than yesterday. The fire continued to burn in front of him, though it was dying. Carefully, he sat up to feed it more wood. While up, Katsuki reached over to feel his socks.
The fabric no longer held any moisture. He pulled them off the stick to roll them back onto his feet. Grabbing his shoes, Katsuki tapped the bottom of each boot roughly to make sure no spiders tried to take up residence inside. When nothing came out of either boot, he tugged them on and laced them back up. At least his feet would be relatively dry.
He pulled a fruit from the satchel and munched on it as he kicked dirt over the fire. Once the flames were stamped out, he stretched his arms. The soreness there held nothing to what his legs felt like, but he continued on his way. He made sure to grab the large stick to use for protection. Even just whacking an animal would convince it to back off.
Noises continued to echo around him. In the distance, the pitching scream of a group of howler monkeys rang through the trees. The air sat hot and heavy on Katsuki's already sweaty skin as he marched on. A gentle, tepid breeze rustled the foliage around him. Buzzing filled his ears as bugs flew around him. Katsuki counted his steps as he walked, watching the area around him to avoid snakes.
Glancing at the trees above him, the blonde wondered if the human eye could pick out the camouflaged fur of a jaguar. He didn't understand much about vision, however. He let his gaze fall back to the ground and stopped dead in his tracks at the sight before him in the mud.
Stamped into the mud a few meters ahead of him was a boot print.
Katsuki looked around. Another person being in this area was near impossible unless it was someone from the same shipwreck. When he couldn't hear or see anything indicating someone was nearby, he wandered over to the boot print to make sure it wasn't his own.
Kneeling, he ran his fingers over the muddy print. The mud around it was a bit dry. It looked relatively small, but Katsuki was nothing if not thorough. He stood, stamped his own boot next to it and stepped back to compare the two.
The shoe the first print came from was definitely smaller, but the biggest indicator that it wasn't his own was the marks. Katsuki's boot tread went in a diagonal position for the best possible grip on any surface. The shoe next to it had flat tread and a smaller heel. The boots that made the tracks weren't for parading around the jungle.
He readied his walking stick to protect himself from any threat. Getting caught unaware was not an option. He just hoped it was one of his travel companions or even at least just someone from the ship. Watching his feet, Katsuki started after the tracks.
He continued through some foliage and passed what looked like a pond with no fish in it. Hours passed and the day only got hotter. The mud on his skin had mostly dried, but the sunburn didn't hurt nearly as much as it did. The anger that had sat in his chest was quelled by the hope of finding someone else who had survived.
As the sun set, Katsuki's hope of finding someone died with the light guiding him. It had been years since he last been alone in a jungle. Who knew how old those tracks were? He hadn't had to hunt for his own food since his last excursion. He had no idea if he still even had those skills.
A growl made its way out of his throat. He had to find a good place to make camp. His surroundings only got darker and darker as he searched, his annoyance at himself growing for getting his hopes up. He grumbled as he searched, stomping just a little bit. He was alone. Reverting back to his high school days when he was an angry bitch of a teen didn't matter much when no one could see him.
For the second time that day, Katsuki stopped. Two hundred meters ahead, light shined through the surrounding plants. Not sunlight - fire. Shadows from the firelight danced along the treetops and hanging vines.
The blonde stayed rooted in his spot, arms hanging limply at his sides as he stared. There was such a low probability of him actually finding someone that it was hard for him to wrap his brain around the fact that he did. The skills he'd learned when he first started field work must still be embedded in his brain. Slowly, he started making his way towards the light. Katsuki made sure to watch his step, keeping his movement silent. Red eyes attentive, he caught movement of a person's shadow in the light.
As quietly as possible, the blonde pushed himself into the bushes, crouching low into the cover. His body moved on its own as he made his way around until he actually could see the fire itself. Directly on the other side sat a small huddle of a person. They shook, but no sound came from them.
Grimacing in indecision, Katsuki slowly stood from his hiding spot. “Hello?”
The person snapped their head up so fast, Katsuki was concerned they'd given themselves whiplash. Quickly, the person stood and with the fire no longer blocking his sight, his blonde eyebrows raised in surprise. Both shouted at each other in the same instance it took for them to process who exactly they were looking at.
I have a Spotify playlist for this fic. If anyone wants to listen to it, the link is here
Chapter 3: Good Samaritan
How to lead yourself to a tomb the way Lara Croft always seems to stumble upon them.
I have been going through some (alot) of things and I kept forgetting to just post this chapter so sorry for the long wait
He wasn't sure how long the two of them stood there staring at each other. It only registered as a long time when the brunette stepped around the fire and launched herself at the man in front of her, knocking them both over into the mud. Katsuki slammed down into the ground roughly, letting out a pained groan.
“Oi! What the hell? Get off!” He tried to wiggle his arms free. Heat rose into his cheeks that made him thankful there was mud caked onto his face.
Uraraka squeaked and pushed herself off him. “Sorry! I'm sorry! I just thought I would never see anyone again and then you popped up and…. Why are you so filthy?”
Katsuki pushed himself into a sitting position, ignoring how close she sat in front of him. He glared at her, raising a hand to brush the leaves he could feel stuck in his hair. “You're one to talk. You're covered in just as much mud as I am!”
“Whatever,” she said shaking her head. “I'm just glad to see you! When the ship started to… I was with Kirishima and Izuku and we got separated when we all fell into the ocean.” She paused, staring at him before she smacked his chest. “You scared me, you ass! Who told you that you could just pop out of the bushes?”
Katsuki flinched, backing away from her as she continued to slap at him. “Oi! Stop hitting me! I didn't want to give myself away in case you were going to fucking attack me!”
She ceased her slapping. “Why would I attack you?”
“You were literally just fucking attacking me,” he deadpanned. She made a face at him before she stood and went back to her spot by the fire. Katsuki stood and followed after her.
She sat quietly as he stood next to her, her face not nearly as sunburnt as he expected. Then again, he had no idea what she woke up to. Her brown hair looked as matted as his felt. That didn't stop her from wearing it down.
“Do you know where we are?” Katsuki asked.
Uraraka shook her head. “The captain said we were close to Lima. About a day's travel, I think? But then that storm hit.”
The blonde sat down beside her, running a hand over his muddy face. “So we’re probably in Peru, but who knows how far. Fuck, I knew this would happen.”
“I knew something would happen,” he grumbled. “Something always happens on these things.”
She watched him before nudging his arm gently. “I'm just glad we're alive. If we find a city, we could get a search party out here to look for Izuku, Kirishima, and the crew.”
Katsuki turned a glare towards her and hissed, “I know that.”
“Why do you look so angry then?”
“Because I'm angry, Uraraka! I didn't want to fucking come and Shitty Hair convinced me to anyway! I didn't want to take a ship because surviving at sea is ten times harder than surviving a plane crash! Now I have to claw my way through the fucking jungle and hope those fucking idiots aren't dead!”
Uraraka watched him silently before she placed her hand on his shoulder. “We'll find them. You and I found each other, right?”
He watched her, face contorted in anger before he relaxed. Quietly, he looked away from her and let her keep her hand on his shoulder. It was small and warm on his bare arm.
“We should get some sleep,” she whispered. He nodded and set his walking stick beside him.
Pulling a out an apple, he handed it to her. “Here. I found food crates from the ship on the beach.”
She took the apple gratefully. “Thanks. I didn't find much. There was a bunch of equipment where I washed up.”
He tilted his head curiously, his brow furrowing. “What kind of equipment?”
“Well, I found a combat knife, but there was some mountain climbing gear and some digging tools, I think?”
He held his hand out, giving her a stern look. She stared at his hand before looking at him and raising a delicate brow.
Gesturing aggressively, he frowned more. “The knife.”
Jerking back, Uraraka gave him an exasperated look. She pulled the knife out of her boot, but made no attempt to hand it over.
Katsuki's frown deepened. “Do you know how to hunt? Or even how to use it?”
“Do you?” she snapped back.
Irritation rumbled through him. “I've been hunting since I was twenty! Hand over the damn knife so we don't fucking starve!”
Begrudgingly, Uraraka handed the knife over. It was much larger than his was, which was most likely sitting at the bottom of the ocean. He twirled the knife in his hand, examining it.
“What if I need something to protect myself?” she inquired irritably.
The blonde rolled his eyes and lifted his walking stick. Using the knife, he started carving the end into a point. It didn't take long. The knife was sharp, much better than his knife.
Once he finished, he held the both weapons up for her to choose. “Which one do you want, Round Face?”
She pursed her lips, snatching the sharpened stick from his hand. “This one has longer reach.”
He simply nodded and stuck the knife into the soft dirt next to him before laying down. Rustling around signaled she did the same. Somehow, her presence eased his mind and he managed to fall asleep rather quickly. The soil beneath him wasn't nearly as hard as it seemed the night before. He slept soundly on his side the entire night.
When the sun rose, Katsuki's legs didn't feel as sore. He pushed himself up into a sitting position, eyes wandering to the remains of the fire in front of him. Uraraka slept curled up next to him, but he didn't remember her being that close. After tilting his head to the side to pop his neck, he shook her awake.
She groaned in response before slowly sitting up. Katsuki took the time to look at her, taking in her short sleeve shirt and jeans that hugged her hips. Everything about her was messy. Her hair had leaves stuck in it and her shirt was splattered with stains. She didn't look nearly as injured as he had thought. Maybe it really was just him that got hurt in these situations. He did seem to have the worst luck. He could only chalk it up as karma for all the bullying he'd done to Deku.
Grabbing the knife, he stood as he pulled it out of the ground. With the fire already out, he felt no need to kick more dirt over it. He rustled a hand through his hair to shake out anything stuck in it. Uraraka noticed and immediately did the same with her own hair. The ecosystem around them seemed unbothered by their presence.
Uraraka stood next to him, her small hands wrapped around the spear he had given her. It was much too big for her. She stood at a whopping 162 centimeters. She was short even when she wore heels at the university.
“Ready?” she asked.
He nodded, sliding the knife into his belt. “Want to take me back to where you found all the equipment?”
She gave him a confused look. “Why would we do that? That's back the way we came.”
Katsuki rolled his eyes. “The climbing axes.”
She blinked at him. “Do you plan on climbing?” she asked sarcastically.
“Yeah, given that Peru is a mountainous terrain, we might have to climb some cliffs to get to any villages.”
Her mouth shaped a silent o as she started looking around. “Well… I guess we could go get them, but I don't see how it makes sense to go back the way we came.”
“It doesn't, but those damn axes would be useful and I don't really want to scale a cliffside without them.”
She sighed. “Let's just go forward. We have no idea how far back we'd be walking.”
Katsuki frowned at her before shaking his head with a growl. “Fucking… fine!” he shouted before stomping off in the opposite direction that he truly wanted to go.
Rushed footsteps followed after him only stopping when they caught up. He looked around before pushing through some shrubbery. He held it open for Uraraka to push through ahead of him. She brushed by, her back to his chest.
Once she made it through, he followed after her. The short woman put her hands on her hips and looked around before turning to him.
“Where to?” she asked. Katsuki raised a brow at her confident tone.
With a frown, he pointed in the right direction, which just was away from the shore. He knew he could steer her back in the direction of the ocean to retrieve his axes if he wanted to, but he wasn't a liar or deceptive in any way. She was so sure to trust him though.
“Right!” she exclaimed confidently, marching the way he'd pointed. Rolling his eyes, he followed her.
The day only continued to get hotter. Katsuki wiped the sweat off his forehead. Uraraka stopped to pull her hair up into a short ponytail. He pushed his bangs away from his face. The air felt wet, but he wasn't sure if it was the humidity or impending rain.
Uraraka looked back at him and smiled encouragingly. “It's hot, isn't it?”
“Are you just going to make stupid fucking comments or can we just keep walking?”
“I'm fine with making stupid comments all night,” she sassed back. He glared.
Pushing past her, he lead the way towards a small creek. The water ran clear, more so than water typically ran in the Amazon. Kneeling down, he cupped some water in his hands and splashed it against his face. The coolness felt glorious. It cooled his hot skin and washed away the stickiness of his sweat.
He felt Uraraka brush against him as she knelt beside him and followed his example, splashing her face. They sat in silence gently cleaning their faces as best they could.
Looking around, Katsuki sat back on his heels as Uraraka dipped her arms into the water. Once she sat back as well, he looked at her. Her face was turned up, looking at the small ledge the water was trickling into the creek from.
“What's that?” she asked.
Katsuki looked where her eyes were focused on. Standing, she made her way around the water until she was standing at the ledge. He followed after her, but stopped when she started scaling the ledge as if she had climbed this particular ledge multiple times.
Once she disappeared over the edge, Katsuki stepped back to look for her. Before he could make his way further back, her voice rang out over the ledge, “I found something!”
“What could you possibly have found up there?”
“It looks like, uh… I don't know. It's like a statue, but not? It's got pictures on it and these symbols!” she called back. Katsuki stepped back once more before he grabbed the ledge. “Will you get up here?”
“I'm fucking trying! This wouldn't be so hard with my fucking axes!”
“Stop complaining!” She came back into view to reach down for him. He glared and slapped her hand away. Backing up, he ran and leaped to grab the ledge. Luckily, upper body strength was his biggest focus when he exercised. Pulling himself up, he swung himself onto the ledge skillfully before standing. She frowned at him before she stood and gestured toward a stone mural.
Katsuki moved closer, his forehead relaxing as he stared at the words. He ran a finger across the symbols, bending over to inspect it.
“What is it?” she asked.
“It's a mural,” he murmured, too focused on studying the stone.
He barely noticed Uraraka bending down next to him to look closer. “That's a depiction of Tezcatlipoca.”
“The very first Mayan Sun God,” Katsuki supplied.
Uraraka nodded, tilting her head as she examined it. “The only real way to know it's him is because of the black stripe over his eyes. He's called the Invisible God because most people can't determine what he was supposed to have looked like.”
“That's because all the other depictions of him were found to be other gods. It's less that we don't know what he looks like and more that no one has really found a whole lot of his image.” Katsuki brushed his hand against the stone. “He's an ancient God, the symbol of the start of the world as far as Mayans knew.”
“So… what does this say?”
“I can't really read the damn thing. I'm just guessing, but I think it has to do with that riddle Deku was talking about with that red-haired loser.”
She tapped her chin, brow furrowed in thought as she tried to remember. “Winds blow between the wall of trees… and… I can't really remember the rest.”
“The path leads towards the sky,” Katsuki finished for her.
She looked at him amazed. “Do you just remember those things?”
“Have to since field work used to be my fucking job,” he muttered as he straightened up. He grumbled under his breath before grabbing the sides of the top and pushing down.
The stones ground together before a mirror was revealed. The sun hit it directly and a beam of light pointed directly at Katsuki's chest. They both stared at the beam before they turned to look at where it was pointing. The beam pointed directly into the jungle, perpendicular to the way they were going.
“This is weird…” Uraraka mumbled.
“That's just about how it fucking goes.” He moved toward the ledge and jumped down, turning to see if Uraraka needed help. Of course she didn't; she jumped just like he did, though she landed more gracefully. He knew she didn't ever need his help, which was why he never moved to do so, but he didn't know to what extent.
“Should we follow it?” she asked.
Katsuki didn't answer, narrowing his eyes in the direction the beam lead. It was impossible for it to reach all the way in one direction, but the blonde knew there was something wherever it went.
She looked at him, watching him debate. “If it leads to the artifacts we're going for, then we should go, right?” She rested a had on his arm. His attention snapped down to her hand immediately. “It could lead us to the others.”
“If this mural leads us to the entrance of the tomb, then we've made it deeper than I thought.” He looked up from her hand before looking away from those big brown eyes.
“So are we going to go after it?”
He made a face, pushing his hair out of his face once more. The blonde spiky mess on his head felt heavy, probably from the mud and sweat. With a deep growl, Katsuki started for the direction the light pointed in.
Uraraka followed after him, keeping pace with him easily despite her shorter legs. They quietly trekked through the jungle, walking side by side.
Flinching at something wet hitting his cheek, Katsuki looked toward the sky. He couldn't see it through the treetops, but water started to fall through the leaves. Slowing down, the blonde grabbed Uraraka's hand to get her to stop walking. She jerked to a stop.
“Why'd you stop? I-” Her voice cut off as the rain started coming down a little harder.
He looked down at her, mouth contorting in frustration. “We have to find shelter.”
“It's only rain, right?”
“Yeah, only 750 liters of rain yearly where the whole damn jungle doesn't actually ever have dry seasons,” he snarled.
She blanched. “Is it really that much?”
“Wha…? Yes! It's really that fucking much!”
“Then... where are should we find shelter?” she asked. “It's not like we've found a cave or anything.”
The blonde looked around before he pointed to a much larger cliff. “We could climb up there.”
“Okay, I get that you're trying to get us to higher ground, but realistically we're just going to be sitting out in the rain on top of a hundred foot cliff,” Uraraka reasoned, holding herself as the rain poured through the trees around them.
“DO YOU HAVE ANY BETTER IDEAS THEN, ROUND FACE?”
“Yeah, I do! We keep going until we find the tomb! Boom, already built shelter!” she shouted back.
Surprise crossed the man's face before he turned away. Heat rose into his face, but he didn't let her see it. He felt like his legs were going to give out under him, but this time not from the soreness that he'd seemed to have gotten used to.
“Fine! Which way did the mural say we go?”
The brunette pointed in the correct direction and he waited until she started walking to keep pace with her. Together, they trudged through the rain, Katsuki grumbling about wet socks as they continued on. What had been the point in drying them if they were just going to get wet again?
Quietly, Uraraka grabbed his hand.
He jerked his attention back to the small woman next to him, eyes narrowing in suspicion. What was she doing?
“What do you think you're doing?” he hissed.
“It’s dark and I'm scared,” she explained over the sound of the rain. “Sorry, but I would like to have some sort of comfort.”
Flushing, Katsuki took his hand away from her. She made a face, but didn't protest. No, he didn't like that face. He wanted to offer comfort, but his entire family was emotionally stunted, himself included.
Hesitantly, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and tugged her close. He hadn't noticed they'd stopped walking, but he was glad they had. There was absolutely no way he could hug her awkwardly while moving.
Her small gasp almost made him let go, but she stopped him. It happened so fast; he didn't think it happened at all. One second, he was sure she didn't want him touching her and the next her face was buried into his chest.
One arm hung at his side, the other wrapped around her shoulder as she clung to him tightly. Her whole body pressed against his allowed him to feel her shivering. The rain wasn't cold, so that probably wasn't it.
Licking his lips, he turned his face down so the rain would stop hitting him in the eyes. “What are you shaking for?”
He wanted to smack himself. Why was he like this? Couldn't he just ask her if she was okay without sounding like a total dick?
Her sniffling caught his attention. “I'm worried. What if it doesn't matter if we find the artifact? I don't want us to die out here.”
Slowly, Katsuki wrapped his useless arm around her too, tightening his grip on her. He could feel her squeeze him closer, but he didn't think about it. “We're not going to fucking die out here. I may have done this kind of thing before, but you're really quite the survivalist yourself. Don't sell yourself short, pink cheeks. You and I are going to make it out of this shit heap of a jungle.”
“How do you know?”
“Because if I thought you were a badass before, I definitely think you're a badass now.”
They stayed there, quietly hugging for who knew how long. Katsuki certainly didn't mind. She somehow smelled good, despite not having showered in days. He chalked up the earthy scent entirely to the fact that they'd been parading around the jungle for close to three days now.
She moved away first, her cheeks flushed. “You think I'm a badass?”
He gave her a flat look. “You made it so much farther from the ocean than I did. You're making those shitty boots work for you somehow. You literally knew nothing about Aztec Gods that first night on the ship and now you can just tell who Tezcatlipoca is.”
As he spoke, her face got redder and redder. She put her hands over her cheeks and looked away, focusing instead on the water trickling down the rocks near them.
Katsuki looked away as well. His face was flushed, but nothing near as severe as Uraraka's. He cleared his throat and gestured for her to keep walking. “Let's keep moving.”
“Yeah…” she said breathily. He led the way, knowing she felt uncomfortable with what he said. Plus he'd prefer not to look at her.
For a good hour, the only sounds between them was the squelching of their boots in the mud. Katsuki kept his eyes peeled for any signs of the riddle, but as far as he could tell, there was nothing in sight. His feet ached, the wet fabric of his socks already rubbing painfully against the blisters he had from two days before.
Something tugged at his wrist and he jumped, immediately looking back. Uraraka stood behind him, her hand wrapped around his wrist, but her head was turned away from him.
“What are you doing?” he snarled at her.
The brunette didn't respond. She simply lifted her hand away from his wrist and pointed in the direction she was looking. Katsuki turned to look slowly. He hoped that whatever she was looking at wasn't going to eat them. Thankfully, he simply saw trees.
Trees overlapping and bent in ways that… just didn't naturally happen.
Katsuki stepped towards it, his eyes scanning the weave of trees. “Holy shit.”
“Wall of Trees…” Uraraka muttered under her breath, sounding just as amazed as he felt.
The two glanced at each other before looking around. Both searched for a way through. Finding that meant getting out of the rain and mud, although, Katsuki felt like he should be thankful for the rain. He hadn't felt this clean since before the ship sank.
“Bakugou! Over here!”
The blonde looked away from the wall, his eyes searching for Uraraka. He spotted her a ways down, half her body already slipping into what he assumed was the entrance. Jogging over, he made it in time to see her shimmy her way through completely.
Dread dropped deep into the pit of his stomach. He wasn't a small man. Katsuki Bakugou stood at a solid 188 centimeters. His body well muscled and filled out. He was a wall of sixty-nine kilograms of muscle that would not fit well into the space Uraraka had just crawled through.
Shaking his head, he started to slide his way in. He side walked through, red eyes focused entirely on the woman standing just on the other side. Panic made his chest heave, making it harder for him to squeeze through. His jaw clenched as he reached for Uraraka, not allowing a single sound to claw its way up his throat.
Her hand clasped his tightly and suddenly he stumbled into her, pulled free from the confines of the crack. She caught him, her arms holding him steady despite how much bigger he was than her.
“I forget how small I am sometimes. Sorry about that.” She laughed, rubbing her neck as if she hadn't just pulled him out of what was essentially his worst nightmare.
Katsuki grunted in response. He didn't really feel like talking nor did he think he could. His voice felt stuck in his throat. It was like someone was sitting on his chest.
The woman looked around, trying to see through the rain before she started walking off to the left. Katsuki blindly followed, trusting her to take them to shelter. He took the moment he had to really try to calm himself down, but it took a few minutes of deep breathing to really feel semi-normal.
Once he got a hold of himself, he looked at what Uraraka was doing. She'd found an outcropped cliff to sit under and was gathering whatever kind of wood she could despite everything being soaked. He moved over to her to help her. Taking the satchel off his back, he checked the fruit for signs of rot before he started pulling piece after piece of cloth out of the pouch on his belt.
She watched him for a moment before doing a double take. “Is that dry?”
“Yeah. Leather pouches are durable in rain. It's the reason I fucking dressed like this.”
“Wow! I should take some notes next time we do this,” she joked.
Katsuki snorted, but let her have her moment. He didn't want to tell her that he would never be doing this again. “Use these to dry the wood.”
She took the cloth from him and pat the wood dry as best she could. Unfortunately, they couldn't get them perfectly dry. Lighting a fire with wet wood ran the risk of it either not lighting or it just going out.
Katsuki watched her work silently before quietly digging a hole for the fire to sit in. The dirt under the cliff was mostly dry, thankfully, but the wood would take forever to light. Uraraka set the wood up in the pit and handed the cloth back to him. He grabbed a relatively big rock, wet with the rain, and set it next to the pit. He placed the cloth on the rock before untying his boots.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Wet socks and wet shoes cause blisters and Trench foot. The fire can dry my socks and I won't have to walk on wounded fucking feet.”
She watched him before starting to unlace her boots herself. The sigh she let out when her shoes came off forced him to inspect her carefully. While her feet were delicate and just in general small, he could see the reddened skin and the small cuts that littered her toes and heels.
“You just walked around in wet ass socks, didn't you?” he accused.
“I didn't know I was supposed to dry them!” she retorted.
Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Just light the damn fire.”
He almost lost his mind when the woman pulled out a lighter. Had she always had that? He glared at her, pulling more cloth out of his pouch and stuffing it under the wood. She paused her actions to look at him in surprise.
“Won't we need that?” she asked softly.
“I have a lot.”
She gave him a skeptical look, but still used the lighter to set the fire to the cloth. The fire took forever to catch onto the damp wood, but once it did, the flame was small. They babied it until they felt like it wouldn't go out if they looked away. Uraraka moved around the fire and sat down next to her blonde companion.
Slowly she pressed her shoulder into his side. “Why'd you go into archeology?” she asked, looking up at him with those big brown eyes that made his heart race. He had to look away.
He kept his face turned away from her until she nudged him with her elbow. “The Yagi Toshinori movies.”
“Don't give me that damn look. That's the reason!”
“Which movies? That guy is a famous actor.” Uraraka had this way with her facial expressions that Katsuki knew exactly what she meant, but not what she was thinking.
“All Might and the Temple of Doom, All Might and the Raiders of the Lost Arc. Those were my fucking favorite.”
“Oh! Those movies!” she exclaimed, sitting up excitedly and clapping her hands together.
He squinted at her as she leaned back into him, wondering why she was so close. They were both soaked through to the bone. Being pressed together did nothing to dry their clothing faster. In fact, it probably prevented them from airing out correctly.
“How long do you think the rain will last?” she asked, looking out at the cliffs that rose to an almost perfect circle to display the sky.
He shrugged. “Could fucking last hours.”
She pursed her lips, staring out at the downpour just in front of them. He tensed as she relaxed into his side. His heart pounded heavily in his chest, hoping she couldn't feel it. Her tan short sleeve stuck to his tank top uncomfortably, but he refused to utter a word. Anything he said had a high possibility of making her move away.
Katsuki wasn't sure how long they sat there, but it was long enough for both of them to fall asleep. When he forced his eyes open from the impromptu nap, he immediately noticed the sun was shining brightly in the sky in front of them.
Glancing down, he noticed Uraraka still snoozing happily. Only now, her face was pressed into his shoulder and her arm draped over his stomach. When had she moved? His heart rate skyrocketed once more. Goddamnit, how was he supposed to function if she ignored any boundaries?
He rubbed his eyes and looked over at the fire. Their socks looked drier than they had before, but they still appeared damp. The fire was smaller than before, the wood completely burnt through. Ash in the shape of wood stayed up, but Katsuki knew it wouldn't be long before it crumbled.
Turning back to the woman on his chest, he raised a hand and shook her gently. “Hey. Wake up.”
It took a few more shakes before her eyes opened. She whined before pulling away to rub at her eyes. It made him wonder how comfortable he was for her to sleep that hard against him. Her arms stretched up in an attempt to get feeling back into the one that had been curled up between them.
“Did the rain stop?” she asked, a yawn taking her over. He grunted in response, sitting up to pull his socks and shoes back on.
She watched him tiredly before following his lead. Her heels were riddled with blisters and some of them looked like they were cracking the skin. He didn’t feel like making her feel self conscious of her Trench Foot, but he knew it probably didn’t feel great.
Packing up the area around, Katsuki slung the makeshift bag over his shoulder and wandered out into the sun. Though his clothing was mostly dry, the sun felt great on the still damp fabric clinging to him. He closed his eyes and relished the warmth. The water left over from the rain remained on the ground, but his shoes were designed to be able to handle water.
He jumped when a hand pressed against his back. Turning, he saw Uraraka standing beside him, her eyes examining the cliff ahead. He turned his gaze toward it as well, looking for anything to show there was a tomb somewhere nearby.
Nothing immediately stood out until he spied something that blended well into a small outcropping near the top of the cliff. Squinting, Katsuki stepped forward. With it being so far, he could barely see what it was, but he knew it was paint. He pointed to it as Uraraka opened her mouth to speak.
She closed her mouth, following his pointed arm and looked for what he was seeing. “Is that the entrance?”
“Yeah, that’s probably paint. We have to get up there.”
He turned to look down at the short woman beside him only to find her already moving towards the cliffside. He watched, transfixed as she ran her hand along the cliffside before stopping a few feet from where she started. Her gaze moved up and then she was stepping back.
His eyes never left her form as she sprinted at the wall, using her momentum to launch herself up to what he thought was just flat rock. Her small fingers gripped the edge as she moved along the ledge before literally throwing herself to another. Watching her move slowly further and further up, only taking a few rests in between until she found a small outcropping to rest on.
Brown eyes met red. His face heated, coloring his pale skin. How long had he been standing there, watching her? He’d been rooted to his spot, simply watching the way her muscles held her up expertly. Katsuki had a small feeling that she could lay him out and he would thank her for it.
“You coming?” she called down to him.
He shook his head free of any inappropriate thoughts. “Give me a second.”
The cliff looked far more daunting up close. It stood a good ninety or so meters. The height didn’t scare Katsuki nearly as much as the thought of going into the side of the cliff. Shaking his head once more, he ran at the same place Uraraka had and launched himself up to catch the ledge.
His fingers dug painfully into the rock face. Grunting, he swung his legs to launch himself over the next handhold he could find. His arms burned and under different circumstances he might have enjoyed the burn. Currently, the only thing he felt was the impending dread of heading towards a tomb. Tombs held thousand year old dead bodies. The stench of them still sat in his brain.
Katsuki had to shake his head to clear his mind as he pushed himself to follow the same route that Uraraka had climbed up. He groaned softly, his arms aching as he dragged himself closer and closer to where she waited for him. Planting his feet against the cliff face, he used his thighs to launch himself up.
Grabbing the next ledge, he felt his fingers slipping. Small hands gripped his own and helped him up onto the small landing.
“You almost fell!” she said, a breathy laugh making its way out of her mouth. He didn’t say anything, just panted as he moved to sit next to her.
His hair felt flat, which was weird because normally he felt like it was too fluffy. Sweat stuck to his forehead, but the mud on his skin had sort of melted off when they had stood in the rain a few hours earlier. He looked over at Uraraka, who was casing out the next route to their way to the tomb entrance.
“Do you think you can make it up that far?” she asked.
“I don’t really want to, if I’m being fucking honest.”
She looked over to him, her eyebrows cinching at his statement. “Why not?”
“Because I fucking hate tombs,” he grumbled.
“It can’t be that bad.”
He gave her a frustrated look before standing. “Whatever. Let’s go.”
Uraraka lead the way towards the cliff once more. This time, Katsuki stood only a few inches away from her. She looked over to him and then pointed to the cliff ledge that held the entrance. “We just have a few more kilometers before we’re golden.”
He nodded. “Just about three kilometers up a fucking cliff. Sounds great.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” she sassed back. “Give me a boost.”
Katsuki squatted down next to the cliff, clasping his hands together. She stepped back a few paces before running towards him. Once her foot hit his hands, he launched Uraraka up towards the ledge. He watched her gracefully propell higher until her hands were able to grip onto the ledge.
Soon after she was out of the way, the blonde launched himself up to grab the ledge she had been occupying previous. It took them far longer to reach the entrance of the tomb than he previously thought it would. The sun was setting by the time the pair pulled themselves into the grass around the tomb entrance.
His entire body ached, but mostly his ankle hurt from the cut he’d gotten from when he kicked out the porthole window. His arms ached from putting his whole weight into them. The grass was cool on his skin and the sun was no longer shining in his eyes thankfully. He breathed deeply to even out his breathing and looked over to the small woman laying next to him.
“We did it,” she panted out. He turned his head towards the sky again and felt the corners of his mouth twitching up. “Oh! You’re smiling!”
She laughed fully at him before rolling to her stomach. She pushed herself up to standing as she look up the entrance. “It’s amazing.”
He sat up and turned to look over his shoulder. “We should camp out here and wait for sunrise.”
“Why? We’re right here,” she whined.
“Because we just climbed four or five kilometers up a fucking cliff. Once we go in there, there will be no doubt that we will have to climb more things. No offense, but I’d rather jump off this fucking cliff than climb anything else.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Fine. We’ll camp.”
Chapter 4: Recipe for Disaster
Bad things happen. Mostly to Katsuki. He's not willing to deal with this shit.
They set up camp quickly, not bothering to light a fire as there was no way to do so without destroying the sacred talismans that hung above the entrance. The wards had animal bones, paint and sticks all woven together.
Uraraka leaned against him for warmth. He kept his arms held tightly against his sides. His heart was racing, pounding in his ears as he tried to force himself to relax enough to sleep. Chewing on his lip, he glanced up at the sky, watching the stars twinkle against the sky.
After a while, he opened his eyes as the sun shone brightly against his face. He groaned and looked over to see why he no longer felt the weight against his side. Uraraka stood a ways away from him, examining the symbols etched into the stones. He purposefully had to pull his eyes away from her bent over form.
“What the hell are you doing?” he called.
She stood up, immediately grabbed by his voice. “Just looking.”
“The carvings. Duh.”
Katsuki stood and wandered over to her. Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he bent to look at what she was looking at. “These are warnings.”
“How do you know?” she asked.
“Temples and tombs are all riddled with warnings. The animal skulls, the paint and the spears pushed into the fucking dirt. Yeah, these are all warnings. No trespassing. That kind of thing.”
“Wow. Can you read them?”
“It’s not exactly in my fucking language skill set.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re basically useless here.”
“Excuse me?!” he snapped, straightening up to glare at her. Her eyes snapped up to his face. Where had she been looking?
“You said it yourself that you didn’t study this.”
He continued to glare at her before bending once more to look over the symbols. “Jaguars and storms. This is saying entering here will bring great catastrophe.”
“Oh look at you putting the puzzle pieces together,” she teased. Katsuki growled, turning to fix another glare at him.
“Let’s just fucking go. I want to get this over with.”
The blonde lead the way through the entrance, following the small path that lead through the entrance. He stopped after a few meters ahead. “Fucking… great.”
“What?” Uraraka asked, directly behind him.
He gestured to the hole in front of him. Uraraka looked around his broad shoulders to see. In front of them, a hole that held water at the very bottom. Vines hung from where they stood, but Katsuki judged it would be easier to just jump. The water was brown and murky, even from their stance from above.
Without really thinking, Katsuki stepped off the edge and let himself fall into the water. He heard Uraraka shout above him just before he hit the water. Once he resurfaced, he pushed his hair out of his face and looked up at the worried woman watching him with wide eyes.
“Are you coming or are you just going to keep staring at me like an idiot?” he called.
He moved out of the way just as she jumped from the ledge. The splash from her hitting the water hit him the face. Glaring, he wiped the water from his face as she came back up. The grin on her face stretched all the way up to her eyes.
“That was fun!”
He narrowed his eyes at her and splashed her back before diving back underwater. His eyes burned against the dirt, but he could see the way under the bricks. Coming back up, he was greeted by a splash to the face.
“Are you serious?” he snapped.
“You started it!” she laughed.
“Fuck off. We’re going down.”
They dove down together and she took the lead into the tomb. The opening on the other side lead to a series of hallways all leading into the actual tomb. They worked their way forward, following the puzzles until they reached the top of the altar. At one point, Katsuki had to use his weight to get a lift to hold Uraraka up long enough to allow her to grab a ledge she could then pull him up to. The temple ruins made it hard to navigate, but eventually they found themselves at the top of the altar. Above them, stood a mural just like the pictures Eijirou had shown them on the ship.
Katsuki’s eyes traveled along the mural. The jaguar ran through a city, leaving destruction in its wake. Buildings destroyed and people left lying dead behind it.
“Holy shit… It’s an earthquake,” Katsuki murmured. Uraraka stared up at the mural with him, her hand coming up to touch him.
“Is… Is this what that riddle said?” she asked.
“The riddle pertains only to the locations of the artifacts. Not this. This is a fucking premonition of what could happen if the artifacts are touched. People believed that this is actually what would happen. This mural is a fucking find in itself.”
“Because of what it depicts?” she asked.
“Hell yeah! This gives a better view into their entire culture. They believed this jaguar would destroy an entire civilization. The jaguar could mean anything, but since we’re in a temple of Tezcatlipoca, this means he’s the one going through and destroying the world.”
She just stared up at him. “You can tell all that through this fading mural?”
“What? Yes!” Katsuki gestured above them. “Look at it. The people in front of the jaguar are worshiping it, but that doesn’t stop the destruction.”
The duo stood, staring up at the mural together. Turning away, Katsuki went towards the stone altar. His hands rested on the top as he examined the engravings. Rounded out symbols carefully crafted around the entire altar table. His hands roved over each curve and dip.
“Do these have any meaning?” Uraraka asked, scaring the blonde man next to her.
He looked at her, eyebrows furrowing in annoyance. “Possibly a riddle. It says something about a crowned mountain.” He paused, kneeling down to examine the engravings on the sides in front of him. “A heart… Fuck, I wish I had studied Mayan.”
“Are you just guessing at this point?” she teased.
“I’m just using what Deku fucking ran me through.”
Uraraka knelt down next to him, her eyes scanning the symbols Katsuki was looking at. “What about these two people?”
“Twins. They look the same. A symbol for lovers would not look quite like this. It would look more like they were embracing,” he pointed to the symbol. “See this? See how the pair are only close, but barely touching?”
“So twins and a crowned mountain?”
Katsuki ran a hand through his hair. He stared at the symbols with a glare. Chewing his lip, his mind raced to connect what the symbols could mean.
He stood and moved around the altar to examine the other side. Symbols ran across the sides, looping around the entire stone table. The most prominent one was that of a giant serpent. Tilting his head, he stepped back to get a better look.
“Uraraka, come here.”
She made her way over to him and looked at what he was looking at. He watched her look over the symbols before she turned her gaze up to the man beside her. “Serpent heart?”
“The heart of the serpent. The Amazon River is considered a serpent because of its winding shape. It’s why this symbol,” he paused to finger the shape of the snake. “-is so big.”
“Follow the heart of the serpent to a crowned mountain…”
“But how the hell do the twins figure into all of this?”
Both of them moved around to examine the rest of the altar. He groaned in frustration. Why hadn’t he bothered to learn as much as he could? Rubbing his head, he looked around at the rest of the symbols.
“Look at this!” Uraraka exclaimed excitedly. “The twins separate and then come back together at the base of the mountain.”
“Thank fuck. This means that they meet at the crowned mountain. So it’s-”
“Follow the heart of the serpent to the crowned mountain where the twins meet!” Uraraka finished excitedly.
He tried suppressing the smile as he watched her bounce excitedly. He put his hands on the top of the altar and watched her for a few moments more before he turned towards the stone under his hands. Putting pressure directly in the middle, he jumped back as the stone started to move. The grinding noise of stone against stone almost deafened him.
The top split open and the middle sunk in. The two watched in amazement as an ornate piece rose from the middle. It rose slowly up, showing a mantle for a golden scepter. They looked at each other briefly before looking back at the scepter. The grinding stopped as the mantle came to a stop in front of them.
Katsuki stepped forward, red eyes roaming over the mantle. Uraraka moved with him. He reached toward the scepter. Uraraka’s voice stopped him. “Where’s the shield?”
“They’re separated…” he realized out loud.
“So we have to go looking for another temple?” Uraraka asked.
Katsuki nodded, reaching forward once more for the scepter. His hand brushed against the gold handle and it sent a tremor up his spine. No one had ever found this artifact. The mural above told a story of destruction and death. He couldn't place the feeling of fear that ran through him at simply touching the artifact.
Wrapping his fingers around the handle, he pulled the scepter free of it's mantle. Around them the temple seemed to breathe. Katsuki looked at Uraraka, the temple floor rumbling underneath them.
An unspoken agreement passed between the two. Uraraka immediately turned and lead the way underneath the mural through a passageway that could possibly lead out. She ran ahead of him through the cavern.
His heart raced in his chest as he watched rocks fall in front of them, around them. The temple shook angrily, crumbling as it shook. His lungs screamed at him as he ran after his smaller partner, using his momentum to avoid rocks that had fallen in his way.
Uraraka skidded to her knees then fell to her stomach and started to crawl through a very small cave that used to be part of the bigger cavern. It looked like it had collapsed a long time ago and left it the only way out. Katsuki slid down to his stomach and squeezed his way through after her.
As soon as his body was fully squeezed into the small cave, he felt the panic rising. It bubbled up through his chest, forcing him to take a ragged breath. The cave walls squeezed his shoulders and he shook with the earthquake destroying the sacred temple. The world seemed to shrink in around him,.
Still, Katsuki pushed himself through the cavern. Grabbing rocks to pull himself along, his breathing coming in sharp quick breaths. He focused solely on Uraraka’s legs ahead of him, even as the cavern seemed smaller and smaller. The panic in his chest had his heart pounding against his ribs. The sound of rock hitting rock was only drowned out by the pounding of blood in his ears. He barely paid attention to the rocks caving in until he pulled one leg up near his chest to leverage himself further along.
Pain erupted from the other leg, causing him to cry out.
Uraraka looked over her shoulder. “Bakugou, are you okay?!”
Katsuki turned to look around at his leg, only to find himself stuck under a rock. He groaned in pain, touching the rock pinning his leg in place. “Ah fuck!”
“What happened?” she asked, her voice concerned.
The pain in his leg dulled the panic, but he still felt the bubbling sit in his chest. He looked up at Uraraka, not able to see much in the darkness of the cave. His chest rose and fell rapidly. The scepter seemed to thrum in his hand before he held it up to her.
“Take this and go,” he rasped.
“You have to take it! Just fucking take it!”
Uraraka hesitated. “But what about you?!” she asked, her voice cracking. “I can’t just leave you-”
“Ochako.” She immediately stopped talking. “I’m going to be right behind you.”
Katsuki pressed the scepter into her hand. She hesitated before wrapped her fingers around the artifact. Slowly, she continued forward, her head turning every now and then to look back at him. He waited until he could no longer hear the sound of her shuffling through.
He let out a shaky sigh, letting the panic start to take over. His chest heaved with hyperventilation as he pressed both hands against the rock. He pushed as hard as he could. Groaning, he tried to pull his leg out as he pushed only to find he didn’t have enough space. The rocks around him pressed into his back.
Wiggling, he reached up to try to just pull his leg out. He shouted in pain when the rough surface of the rock dug into his leg further. The darkness around him seemed alive that he hardly noticed the temple had stopped shaking around the small cavern. Instead of just pulling himself free, he lifted himself up to reach for the knife attached to his belt.
His fingers gently touched the knife handle, his hands shaking violently. He chewed on his lip as he gripped the knife tightly. The knife came free from its hold in his belt and he pulled it in front of him. He let himself slump back down against the cave wall. Katsuki felt crunched into his spot.
With his shoulders hunched as much as possible, he tried to make himself smaller. Katsuki wedged the knife between his thigh and the rock. The knife pressed against the wounds the rock caused, his leg screamed in pain. He grunted in pain as he dug the knife in further.
Tilting the knife, he used it as leverage to lift the rock. The knife dug in painfully to his leg and he cried out. Tears welled in his eyes as he put all his upper body strength into the knife. He pushed and pushed until he felt the rock lift off his leg.
Katsuki slid his leg out from underneath slowly, not wanting to drop it back down. He relaxed once his injured leg was completely free. The relief that shed through him even as the blood flowed from the cuts the knife and the rock.
With a shaky deep breath, he started crawling the only way he could. His head pounding, he pulled himself through the small cave. His hands shook as he grabbed each rock, only focusing on pushing forward. The blonde pulled himself forward until he saw light.
Relief flooded him once more. He pushed himself faster until his hands clawed at the edge of where the light was flooding in. Pulling himself up and over, he sobbed in relief. “Thank fuck!” he cried.
He barely crawled himself out completely when Uraraka was pulling him tightly against them. Her brown hair was the first thing he registered before he heard her sobbing. She held him as tightly as she could.
“I was so scared!”
Katsuki trembled in her arms. “Told you… I would be right behind you.”
She choked out a wet sounding laugh. He wrapped his arms around her and rested his head against her shoulder. She was warm and the air around them wasn’t suffocating him.
Pulling away, Katsuki rubbed his face and looked at the area around him. She sat back on her feet, rubbing her eyes to rid them of tears. The duo sat on a ledge, overlooking a large murky river. The trees hung over the cliff above the river. He watched as the water cascaded down from the top of the cliff, never once looking like there was a temple that crumbled just underneath.
She took the time to wrap his leg up to prevent the blood from seeping out further. Already his skin was bruising and it hurt like a bitch. He grunted as the makeshift bandage met with the open cuts embedded deep into his thigh.
Uraraka plopped herself next to him. He looked over at her, his breathing finally even. She brushed some of her hair back, looking down at the water just like he had been.
“What do we do now?”
Katsuki shook his head, looking away from her. “I don’t know.”
They sat in silence for a moment longer, both staring out at the beautiful jungle ahead. “We have to find Kirishima and Izuku…”
He pursed his lips, a scowl settling on his sharp features. The idea that they still hadn’t found the others of the group itched in the back of his mind. The blonde was so focused on getting out of that small cave that he had completely forgotten that they could possibly be dead.
A sinking feeling sat in his stomach. His friend could be dead. Deku could also be dead. He never wanted those things. It was the reason he never wanted to do excavations ever again. The threat of death always loomed over him.
“Let’s hope they made it to civilization,” he mumbled as he pushed himself up.
Uraraka moved to follow after him as he lead the way down the ledge. The walk down the slope that lead to the riverside was slow, Katsuki limping horribly while Uraraka followed close behind to catch him if he fell. The ground underneath their feet was still damp from the rain as they trekked down from the cliff.
Scenery changed, but Katsuki didn’t notice. It wasn’t until Uraraka shouted out about seeing a village in the distance that he started to pay attention to his surroundings again. He looked around at where she was pointing. The sun was setting around them and the light of the village located just a few miles on the other side of the river.
Instead of stopping to make camp, they continued down through to get to the village. Darkness fell over them, but despite the sun setting, the jungle remained alive. The sounds of animals in the distance still resounding through the foliage. Katsuki only stopped when the world around them went silent. The sea of green suddenly seemed to loom over the both of them. The blonde turned to look to Uraraka.
She turned to look at him and opened her mouth to speak. He didn’t have time to hear her before loud growling caught his attention. The next thing he knew there was pain in his back as he toppled forward from the sudden weight pushing him down. A warm wetness spread along his back, but that was nothing compared to the loud growling and the feeling of claws ripping into his shoulder blades.
His face dug into the mud beneath him, scrunching up his shoulders to keep his neck guarded. Sharp teeth pierced through muscle and he cried out. The growling drowned out every noise around him. A different kind of blackness than the night fell over his vision.
Twisting his body, his shoulders screamed in agony. He brought one arm up to defend his neck while he desperately tried to get the knife on his belt. Bright yellow eyes were the first thing he saw before claws ripped down his back, ripping another scream out of the blonde. The knife fell from his hand as he pushed at the strong jaws trying to get the back of his neck.
The growls increased in volume as he tried to get it off of him. Flashes of teeth and a muzzle wet with blood was all he could focus on. The fabric of his shirt stuck to the open wounds. Katsuki slammed his elbow into the cat’s neck, desperate to get it off.
Small hands came into view, slamming his knife into the cat’s neck over and over until blood painted those small hands. The jaguar growled and growled, only focused on the man underneath it. Slowly, the jaguar stopped attacking and slumped over.
Katsuki immediately pushed out from under the cat’s dead weight and dragged himself away. His back screamed in pain, his arms shaking. Blood poured from every area the cat dug into. His head swam, the world tilting underneath him until everything was black.
When Katsuki opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the pillow he was laying his face in. Confusion flooded him the next second. How was he lying on a pillow? He felt cleaner than he had in days.
He tried to push himself up to look around, but pain shot through his arms and back. He let out a choked groan and let himself fall back down. Flashes of yellow fur with black spots sprinkled into it, of yellow glowing eyes and sharp teeth. Small hands splattered with blood and a voice screaming at him to stay awake.
Rolling himself carefully with the arm that wasn't on fire, he looked around without putting any pressure on his back. The room was shoddy, but filled with basic medical supplies. The cot he was laying on looked old, but clean.
The door in the left corner opened and the sound of boots on wood resonated throughout the room until a woman with short cropped hair and dark brown skin came into view. “You're awake. How are you feeling?” English. Fine then.
“Like shit,” he growled tiredly.
The woman laughed softly. “Yeah, that sounds about right.” She sat down in the chair directly next to his bed. “You're lucky you survived. Not many do.”
“She went to go get some food. You've been unconscious for four days,” the woman responded. “Never thought so many survivors of that shipwreck would pop up here.”
That made Katsuki stop. He pushed himself into a sitting position despite the fact that the woman tried to stop him. “What other survivors?”
When Uraraka entered the room, Katsuki was standing in the corner, pulling on a new shirt the woman brought him. His back was covered in red spotted bandages while he slowly pulled the shirt over them.
“Why are you up and moving?!” she shrieked at him.
“Because Eijirou and Deku are in this town and we need to find them.”
“You're not in any condition to be moving!”
The blonde turned to her. “We don't have any fucking time. Who knows how long until the next earthquake?”
“Bakugou, you got attacked by a jaguar. That's not something you just get up and walk away from, okay?” she argued, hands on her hips.
“I have to keep going.”
“You have to lay back down!”
Katsuki glared at her, holding his bandaged forearm. It never occurred to him that the jaguar had sunk its teeth and claws into more than just his back. His entire shoulder and down his arm had been injured in his attempt to get it off. Despite the fact that he couldn't move quite as easily, he had to keep going.
He stomped out of the room, not looking back at Uraraka. She followed after him, yelling in their native tongue at him to get back to his room. Continuing down the hall, he ignored her up until she grabbed his bandaged forearm tightly.
Pain shot up to his shoulder and he crumpled under her grip. The noise he let out was undignified, but he didn't care, not when her fingers were digging so roughly into his stitches.
“You are going back to that room and resting until you're fully healed,” Uraraka hissed, pulling on his arm to drag him back to the room.
Despite the pain erupting up his arm, he planted his feet and dragged her closer. “I will rest when we fucking leave Peru. Let's find Deku and Eijirou and then I'll worry about what injuries I've gotten.”
“Stop. Just,” Katsuki exhaled heavily, trying his best not to yell in the little shack they were in. “We need to keep going. I need to keep going.”
The brunette stared at him before she sighed exasperated. “Fine! Fine… let's .. just… keep going.”
He nodded and lead the way to the exit. Stepping out of the doorway that held no door, he looked around at the village. Most of the buildings were shacks, built with sheets of metal and wood. People milled about, some looking at the pair, but mostly just going about their daily business.
Katsuki ignored the pain in his back, arm and leg as he moved towards a building that looked like a tavern. Uraraka walked beside him easily, her hand on his arm, though he couldn't place why.
The bar was filled with people, talking and drinking, but Katsuki ignored them to talk to the barkeep. “I'm looking for two men. One tall with red hair and the other with green. Have you seen them?” he asked in English.
The barkeep gave him a once over before just staring blankly at the two. “No le entiendo.”
“Busco a dos imbéciles. Uno tiene pelo rojo y otro lo tiene verde. Ambos son idiotas.”
The man raised an eyebrow before pulling something out from underneath the counter. Sliding it over, the man said, "El muchacho con melena verde me dijo que le diese esto en caso de que pasase por aquí."
Katsuki took the letter and thanked him before moving out of the bar. Uraraka followed after him. “I didn't know you could speak Spanish,” she muttered. “I barely remember English.”
“I just asked him if he saw Deku and Eijirou. They left this for us,” he grumbled, holding the letter out for her to read.
She took a few minutes to read through it before looking back up at him. “It says they went to the west road. They're looking for a mural that will lead them to the temple we were just at.”
Before heading the way that their friends went, Katsuki convinced her to stop by a few shops. While he was given different clothes by the local doctor, Uraraka was still dressed in her mud covered clothes. Although mud wasn't the only thing on her anymore. Blood stained her shirt and pants. Katsuki could only guess it was his blood ruining her outfit, considering he couldn't account for four days after the jaguar tore open his back.
The shops didn't hold much, but they were able to get her a decent pair of boots, some spare socks and a new shirt. Instead of the short sleeve splattered with mud, she sported a black tank top now. Her pants stayed stained, but her boots looked more comfortable than the hiking boots she wore the days prior.
Uraraka paid by handing over some Sol that she had in her pockets. Katsuki watched her with narrowed eyes. How they hell did she have money stuffed into her pockets when she didn't have food? Still, she ended up buying some rations and stuffed them into the man's leather pouches attached to his belt.
Once they finished in the town, they headed for the west road. Both walked, though Katsuki suggested jogging at some point. However Uraraka glared at him before pointing to the bandages around his thigh to remind him that his leg had been crushed. He simply glared back at her.
Both had no reference of time aside from the sun between the trees. They just continued walking, following the crudely drawn map on the letter until they found the mural they were looking for. Katsuki looked over the mural while Uraraka looked around for their friends.
“Bakugou, they can't be far, right?” she asked. The blonde simply shrugged.
“They could have went back to town or they went looking for whatever temple this is leading to,” Katsuki straightened up, hands on his hips. “Knowing that nerd, they went looking for the temple. Eijirou is bull-headed enough to follow him.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, coming to stand next to him.
“Eijirou has a fat crush on the big green loser.”
Uraraka mouthed a silent oh. He watched her look away before he narrowed his eyes. Jealousy rushed through him a second later. “Don't tell me you also have a crush on Deku.”
“What?!” she shrieked. “No! He's my best friend! And he's gay!”
He raised an eyebrow. “So, why do you look upset?”
“Because they went off on their own without even waiting for us! What if they go through the same problems we did?”
He rolled his eyes and looked down at the ground beneath them. “Whatever. Let's just find these two fucking idiots.”
Uraraka pouted as the blonde looked at the tracks in the mud. He stood up again and wandered off. She followed after him. “Do you have a crush on Kirishima?” she asked after a solid five minutes of silently walking.
Katsuki stopped in his tracks. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me.”
The blonde turned and stepped into her personal space. She stood her ground, glaring up at him. “I do not have a crush on Eijirou.”
“You're the only one who calls him by his first name and every time I see him, you're with him.”
“That's because we're friends!”
Uraraka scowled. “So are Izuku and I!”
“Yeah? Then why are you so fucking offended?!” he shouted
“Because Izuku isn't the one I'm crushing on!” she yelled back.
Katsuki glared at her. “Who then?”
He watched as her face reddened and his brain almost short circuited. She didn't answer, just puffed her cheeks in annoyance and looked away. Now, Katsuki didn't consider himself all that good at reading people or even good at matters of romance. However, he wasn't stupid and he knew no one ever got that red just from him asking a question. Still, he refused to push it and turned around to continue walking.
The hot air had his shirt clinging to him and he hated it. His whole body felt sticky and he wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back to the village just so he didn't have to traverse the jungle. His back and shoulders stung with sharp pain every time he moved a certain way. The bandages wrapped around his torso and arm itched underneath so badly, he wanted to rip the damn things off. Uraraka was silent behind him. Though he knew she was there only by the sound of her feet, he knew she probably wouldn't stray away from the tracks he'd found.
An hour of silently walking and they could hear talking. Katsuki snapped his head in the direction of the voices and started running. He could recognize Eijirou and Deku anywhere. Bursting through the bushes, Katsuki tackled Eijirou to the ground. The man groaned at suddenly being barreled into, but other than that, the two idiots didn't react as if there was any danger.
“Oh my god, shut up!” The blonde growled. His stitches ached, but he refused to let that stop him from smacking Eijirou in the face.
“Ow! What the hell, man?!” Katsuki pushed himself off his friend and immediately hunched his back to lessen the pain in his back.
Uraraka gently put her hand on his shoulder. “You opened your stitches!”
“What stitches?” Eijirou asked, getting up to look at his friend’s back. Katsuki immediately pushed both away from him.
Something warm and wet trickled down his back. He wasn’t sure if he was bleeding or it was just sweat. Instead, he tried walking it off. Hands on his hips, he tried to straighten up and hold his back in the same position as when he woke up in that shack. The doctor had patched him up as best she could, but he probably needed a hospital.
Deku came up next to him, his freckled face concerned and serious. “Your back is bleeding, Kacchan. What happened?”
His face scrunched up into a scowl. Turning away, the blonde tried to even out his breathing. The pain burning through his back would normally have leveled him, but he pushed through it.
“A jaguar tried to kill him,” Uraraka chimed in.
“A what?!” Eijirou exclaimed.
The small woman put a hand over her eyes, tilting her chin to her chest. “There was so much blood and then he wasn't moving. I thought he was dead.”
“Why are you up and walking?!” Deku chastised, looking directly at Katsuki with a glare.
“Are you fucking joking?! You two idiots could have been dead! We needed to find you!”
Eijirou ripped the shirt on his back up, revealing all the bandages wrapped around his torso. “Holy shit…” he whispered, shock written all over his face.
Katsuki ripped himself away from his friends and glared at them. “It's not that big of a deal! Let's just fucking talk about the scepter!”
Both men looked at him confused before looking at Uraraka. She let the backpack she bought fall to her feet to dig around in it. Quietly, she pulled out the artifact and held it out for the two to look at. Eijirou grabbed it first, his eyes wide with amazement.
Deku moved closer to the redhead to look as well. Both looked at the artifact in amazement before looking at Katsuki.
“You didn't find the shield with it?” Deku asked.
“It was by itself. The altar it was on crumbled around us when we took it,” Katsuki explained. His body hurt and exhaustion ran through him. He wanted so badly for this whole trip to be over. “There was another riddle on the altar that probably leads to the shield, but we don't exactly have a lot of fucking time.”
Eijirou handed the scepter to the green haired man next to him. “So that earthquake?”
“It was the temple,” Uraraka said, pulling the backpack onto her shoulder. Both of them made sounds of amazement. Katsuki glared at the two.
“What was the riddle?” Eijirou asked, moving closer to his best friend. The blonde rolled his eyes.
“Follow the heart of the serpent to the crowned mountain where the twins confer.”
“So follow the Amazon river until we find a mountain?” Deku asked, his eyes never leaving the scepter. Both Katsuki and Uraraka nodded.
“We should go back to the village first. We need to get more supplies for Katsuki and then we can get a map. Maybe ask the locals about a volcano.”
As they all walked back, they spoke more. More than once, Katsuki had to push Eijirou away from him. The redhead kept trying to help him walk. It wasn't like he was crippled. He just had 5 centimeter claws ripping his back open and a jaw that could crush reptile shells trying desperately to get to his neck.
It didn't take the four of them long to get back to the village, but the amount of time they spent there had the blonde on edge. They'd stopped by the local doctor to get his stitches redone and she had yelled at him in Spanish the entire half hour it took her to fix them.
Deku and Eijirou both had pale faces when they left. Katsuki hated it. Both had demanded to be allowed to see the extent of the damage. They instantly regretted it. The group was eerily quiet after that.
After getting more supplies and a map, the four of them decided that they had to ask the locals. However, Eijirou and Uraraka didn't know Spanish. It ended up being Deku and Katsuki who asked around the village. Both came back with similar information, but Deku had the area marked on the map.
The green haired nerd lead the way when they finally decided to head out. Katsuki watched the sunset as they walked and his nervousness started becoming obvious. He stayed quietly in the back of the group while the other three chatted about whatever. If he was being honest, Katsuki wasn't actively paying attention to anything other than his surroundings. Every few minutes, he'd chance a peak behind him to make sure nothing was really following them. Surprisingly it was Uraraka who picked up on it first.
“Are you okay? Do you need to stop?” she asked, her head turned so she could look at him while she walked.
He glared at her. “I'm fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I said I'm fine.”
“Okay, well, you're being weird!” she argued.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and immediately regretted hunched his shoulders. The pain was searing, but he was just thankful he could move. “I'm not being weird!”
“You so are!”
“Okay, let's not argue in the middle of the jungle,” Eijirou chimed from ahead. Katsuki blinked. When had Uraraka stopped to walk with him?
He turned to look at the woman beside him. A grin was stretched across her face before nudging him. Raising a brow, he watched her glance between him and the idiots in front of them.
Looking over, he watched as Deku gently took Eijirou's hand. For a moment, his brain shut down. Slowly, he looked at Uraraka and he watched her grin from ear to ear.
“He could do better,” Katsuki mumbled, a feigned annoyance clear on his face.
“Both.” Uraraka laughed and his heart raced. While she may not completely understand the friendships he had with both men in front of them, she somehow understood that he was genuinely happy for them both.
The hours continued to tick by as they trekked the overgrown jungle around them. Sunlight started to diminish, leaving them in the sounds of night. Howler monkeys called until it was late and then it was just the sound of bugs buzzing the air. Katsuki watched Uraraka look around. Every now and then, she'd point out a particular plant or insect to him and he'd just raise an eyebrow at her.
While his back throbbed uncomfortably, he didn't want to stop moving. The other three were constantly checking on him, annoying him above and beyond what he already was. Still, he forced himself forward. It was easier to move when his back hurt more than the pain in his leg. Though it pissed him off how he was the only one close to death twice in one day.
Temples were always hidden in Katsuki's experience. There would be zero way for them to find it by just walking into it. With the dark hanging over them, he knew they wouldn't be able to spot the clues of where it was located. The blonde stopped walking and let out a deep sigh.
“We won't get anywhere if we can't fucking see what we're looking for.”
Uraraka stopped and turned to him. She looked to his injuries first, as if checking if he was just making excuses to stop. “He's right. We should make camp for the night,” she called over to the other men.
Both colored haired men turned to look before walking back over to them. Eijirou gathered wood for the fire while Uraraka set up a place for Katsuki to sit against without aggravating his back. Deku pulled some food from the backpack Uraraka set down. The four sat in silence once the fire light filled the area.
Katsuki tilted his head back and stared up at the canopy above them. His mind raced with thoughts, but they stopped immediately once he felt a body press against his side.
Looking over, he found Uraraka leaning against him. She held two sandwiches in her hands, one held out for him to take. He used his good arm to grab it and shove a large part of it into his mouth.
The flavor hit him hard. How long had it been since he'd eaten anything other than the fruit he'd found? While he knew it had only been a few days (minus the four he spent apparently in a short coma), he couldn't help feeling like it had been longer. Excursions always felt like they took months. Most of them did, but that was after sites were found. Even still, the taste of the sandwich reminded him of home.
He finished the sandwich easily and even with his body feeling like absolute shit, he felt better than he had in days. The feeling of having his stomach relatively full had relief washing over him. He felt like he could keep going. It was the only way he knew how to get home. That was all he wanted in that moment.
Chapter 5: Tomb Raider
The final chapter. New beginnings start when a chapter ends.
The group woke with the sun. Deku made sure to look over Katsuki’s bandages, green eyes shining up at the blonde with a determination that he’d always had when he saw his travel partner injured.
Deku’s seen him go through worse, had seen him come back from worse. Deku knew from experience that Katsuki would continue pushing no matter how close to death he was. Still, the look made the blonde man scowl back. To any onlooker, it would look like Katsuki was being contemptuous, but it didn’t matter what people thought. Deku knew the determination in that look.
Once they were finished changing out the bandages, Eijirou gasping softly at the sight of the stitches, Katsuki stood without any trouble. His gaze fell upon Uraraka, who stood nearby, trying her best to appear busy packing up the bags. She glanced at him and gave him a smile, which made him frown.
The group wandered further into the jungle, one of them using the map to guide them to the amazon. Hours of walking and Katsuki was ready to throw hands with Eijirou for dragging him into this, but those thoughts immediately stopped when he heard Uraraka sigh. Her hair was tied up into a short ponytail, her button up hanging around her waist to show that she wore a black tank top underneath.
Katsuki took a deep breath. There was no way he’d want these three out here without him. If he had stayed in Japan, they would have experienced everything by themselves and the only one who had ever dealt with it before was Deku. That thought left him feeling vaguely terrified, but he decided not to acknowledge it. While he hated the fact that he’d come, Katsuki wouldn’t have it any other way.
The sight of the Amazon’s shore was breathtaking for more reasons than just the fact that they were going to find their next destination. The waters, while murky and full of dangerous life, were calmly flowing in the opposite direction they were walking in. The river itself was wide and deep, teeming with wildlife around it. Birds sung around them as they moved closer to the waters.
All four of them bent down to wash their faces. Katsuki let out a soft sigh as the cool water hit his flushed face. It washed away the stickiness of sweat clinging to his forehead. He cupped his hands in the shallow shoreline to splash some onto his neck. As he lifted his hands, a small hand smacked the water out of them.
Turning angrily to the woman beside him, he found her looking at him, chastising. “Don’t you dare. You could infect your wounds.”
“So, I just have to stay gross and sweaty?” he growled.
His head reeled at the simple answer he got. This woman. He grumbled a bit before standing back up. Though his body was sore, he was ignoring it the best he could.
Red eyes scanned the horizon. The trees were normally too dense to even see the sky, but with the river, he could see the mountains clearly. Tilting his head, he looked at the mountains ahead of him. The amazon was winding and not a straight shot to where they were supposed to be going, but he could see the shape of smoke surrounding the mountains clearly. Clouds don’t form rings like that.
“I found our mountain.”
Deku looked up from where he was bent at the river. Standing, he came up to where the blonde man was standing. “That’s not a normal mountain.”
“It’s a volcano,” Katsuki grumbled.
“Think that’s where the shield is?” Eijirou asked, coming up behind the two of them.
Katsuki shrugged his good shoulder. “Best chance we got.”
A small hand slid up his good shoulder and he looked over to see Uraraka standing next to him. “How long do you think it’ll take to get there on foot?” she asked.
His eyes didn’t leave her, a weird fondness spreading in his chest. She was definitely a badass. How could he have ever gotten through this without her? He wasn’t sure he’d have ever made it out from under the rocks if she weren’t waiting for him on the other side.
Turning his head back to the mountains, he frowned, mostly at himself. “Not sure. Two days if we push ourselves.”
“We can’t. You’re severely injured,” Eijirou chimed.
“He can do it,” Deku said, a smile on his face. “I’ve seen him do more through much worse.”
Katsuki frowned at the two before pushing forward. Uraraka caught up to him easily. Her hand brushed his and he found comfort in the brush of her skin. Still, he kept his eyes forward, focused only on the goal. Get to the volcano, stop the earthquakes.
Slowly, his eyes drifted back to Uraraka. Her face was set in a similar determination that he’d seen when she’s scaled a cliff. Her eyes met his and for a moment, nothing else mattered. It was just them, silently having a conversation through their eyes. Katsuki was the first to break eye contact, though they both seemed to understand what the other was about to do.
The two immediately started jogging along the river, each pushing off their feet at the same time. Their legs pumped steadily, keeping pace with the other. Katsuki felt his heart rate spike and the pain in his shoulder increased tenfold as the muscles there stretched.
He heard Deku and Eijirou scramble to catch up, but they stayed a good ten feet behind them. His legs pushed him further and he suddenly felt thankful that he made an effort to run when he woke up in the morning. He kept an even pace, his shoulder screaming at him. Uraraka followed him dutifully even as Deku and Eijirou finally caught up.
They only stopped for a break when he could no longer stand the pain in his shoulder. The pain was excruciating, burning his entire shoulder. The stitches didn’t feel nearly as pulled as they had when he tackled Eijirou, but they were definitely pulling.
Uraraka had him sit on a nearby rock and he pulled up his shirt to allow her to get the bandages off better. Her fingers worked at the wrappings carefully, pulling them off his torso and leaving him barechested to the jungle around them. He ignored her small intake of breath, figuring it was from the sight of his wounds. Her fingers traced against his uninjured shoulder and his back stiffened.
Deku let out of soft snort.
He whipped his head around to glare at the green haired loser, but the sound died on his lips the moment his gaze caught sight of Uraraka’s flushed face. His brain thought it the correct moment to recall their conversation about who she might have a crush on. How she hadn’t answered. Or how she had turned the same shade she was currently sporting. Brown eyes gazed down at his back, an appreciative glint in her eye. What the hell?
He jerked his head forward, trying to ignore the way his heart was racing. It was just the fact that they’d just jogged five kilometers along the shore of the river. It had nothing to do with the fact that his crush was eyeing his back like he was a piece a meat.
Whatever was happening seemed to stop. Soon she was focusing on wrapping new gauze around his torso and shoulders. He didn’t move the entire time she worked, even with the way he wanted to kick Deku’s ass for snickering. The moment she finished, he slipped his shirt back on and stood hastily.
He lead the way, walking again. While he wanted to get there soon, he knew running the whole way was unrealistic and just going to tire them all out sooner. Even as darkness started to fall, they all kept walking. Katsuki remained quiet while everyone conversed. He really didn’t feel the need to speak. Not after he had just embarrassed himself.
The darkness closed around them. Katsuki didn’t mind. He kept moving.
The group stopped as they got closer to the mountain. All four of them were exhausted, even as the night fell around them. They’d spent two days transitioning from walking to jogging. None of them wanted to stop until they reached the base. They looked up at the volcano with a tired triumph. Trees stopped growing around the area, everything covered in dried magma for the last six miles from the base.
Quietly, they all made camp to rest before looking for the entrance of a tomb. All of them slept soundly, kept safe from predators that wouldn’t venture this close to the mountain. When the morning came, Katsuki looked up the mountain, feeling a strange presence about it that no one else seemed to pick up on.
“We should split up,” Deku suggested as they packed up the camp.
Uraraka stood up, worry clear on her face. “What? No. That won’t help.”
“We have better chances to find the entrance,” Katsuki grumbled. “Deku’s right. We should. Eiji, keep from getting himself into a stupid situation.”
Eijirou looked hesitant, but eventually followed after Deku. The two eventually disappeared from sight.
Uraraka looked at the blonde like he’d lost his mind. “Why did you do that? What if we lose them again?” she asked.
“Deku’s a good tracker. He’ll find us,” Katsuki said, scowling as he looked in the opposite direction his friends went. Then he started walking.
She was quiet as she followed after him. She stayed quiet, even as they ended up back into the densely wooded areas. Katsuki kept his gaze set forward, despite the heat creeping to the tips of his ears at the thought that he was alone with her. What the fuck was wrong with him? He’d spent three days alone with her before and he hadn’t felt weird about it before.
Her voice startled him. She stood a few meters behind him, calling his name repeatedly as he seemed to zone out.
Turning, he scowled at her. “What?”
“You walked right passed this,” she said, a delicate eyebrow raised as she jerked her thumb at the warning totems. Gold paint smeared up the side of a small ledge lead up to sharpened sticks with animal bones tied to them.
He frowned, mostly because he shouldn’t have missed this, but her presence was distracting him. The blonde looked over the warnings before he jumped to grab the ledge. His shoulder screamed in protest as he pulled himself up. Once he swung his legs up, he had to crouch to catch his breath. The pain shooting through his back was scorching hot and he knew for a fact that he felt a couple of stitches pop open.
Uraraka joined him a few seconds later, her hands resting on his uninjured shoulder. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he ground out. The pain was nothing new by now, but it still surprised him every time he did something he could have done effortlessly. “How are you so good at this?”
“I like to rock climb on my days off,” she answered cheerfully. “Oh and escape rooms!”
“Of course you do,” he grumbled as he stood up. The pain wasn’t any less, but he’d rather ignore it than stay hunched over.
“If it hurts too much, we can stop.”
“No.” He led the way through the overgrown path. Uraraka walked beside him after a few steps and he found himself not minding.
They kept moving, brushing away the plants as they got in the way. The path lead them to a closed off entryway. Stones stacked neatly to keep people from entering. Katsuki pulled his knife off his belt and handed it to Uraraka. She looked at him confused before she dug the knife into the rocks and started prying them away.
The rocks fell away bit by bit until she was able to squeeze herself between the small opening. Katsuki followed shortly after. He squeezed through and immediately grabbed Uraraka’s arm as she tried to move forward. He pulled her closer before pointing to the crumbling floor in front of them.
Moving in front of her, he put one foot down on the edge and watched as the rocks fell. Spears stuck up from the bottom of the pit. If he hadn’t seen it before hand, Uraraka would have fallen onto those spears with zero chance of survival.
Turning around, he gave her a glare. “Look for traps, stupid.”
She grinned at him sheepishly. “My bad.”
Katsuki rolled his eyes and pressed his back against the entrance. He took a deep breath before running and launching himself over the pit. His feet touched the solid ground of the other side and he steadied himself. The pit wasn’t too big, but his legs were long compared to Uraraka’s.
Turning around, he stood close to the edge so he could catch her if she slipped. She gave him a nod before following his example. Her back pressed against the entrance way before she ran at the pit. She pushed off her feet and launched herself over, right into Katsuki’s open arms. Her body hit his hard and his shoulder protested achely, but he still wrapped his arms around her waist and twirled her so she was no longer near the pit.
“That could have gone better,” she chirped breathlessly as she pulled her head away from his chest.
The heat from before ran up his spine and he immediately dropped his arms. She didn’t seem to notice his turmoil though as she turned and examined the ground in front of them. She deemed it safe and marched forward as if she owned the place. Maybe she did. He would not put it past her to try to own the place. She was deeply interested in the carvings of words and carved images along the walls even if she didn’t understand what they meant.
Katsuki followed after her, grabbing her hand as she almost kicked a trip wire. She barely paused, stepping over it carefully. He did the same, his hand still gripping hers. The last thing he needed was to lose her.
Their hands stayed clasped together as they carefully made their way through the halls, exploring rooms that either led to a dead end or making their way forward. Katsuki tried to ignore how sweaty his palm was getting, but he could feel it sliding against her skin as if it was actively mocking him. Still, she didn’t let go and neither did he.
The halls of the temple remained dark aside from some sunlight shining in from above. As they walked and avoided traps, Katsuki saw something he wished he hadn’t.
In front of them, the path led down. Straight into stagnant, murky water. A groan threatened to make its way up his throat, but he held it down. The water looked like it had been sitting for a thousand years and if Katsuki were being honest, it probably had been. The green that lay upon the top suggested years of built of algae. They had no choice, but to go into it.
Katsuki stopped walking as they neared the edge of the pool. The water filled most of the temple floor. Uraraka stopped beside him, keeping her hand in his as they eyed the room before them.
“Should we try to see how deep it goes?” she asked quietly.
He pursed his lips, gazing out at the water. It was too murky to see through, but he had no doubt that it wasn’t as deep as it looked. “There might be a passageway somewhere in here.”
Carefully, he released his grip on her hand and stepped forward into the water. As he waded through it, it came up to only his knees. The water soaked through his pants and the coolness of it brought some relief to his heated skin.
Uraraka followed close behind him. On her, it came to about her thighs. He looked around before gesturing around. “Let’s look around. See what we can find.”
She nodded and waded off in a different direction. Katsuki watched her go before turning to look at the opposite end of the temple. The stones beneath his boots were slick with algae. It threatened to trip him up at any moment.
With nowhere to go on this side of the temple, the blonde man turned his attention above him. The pillars stretched up much further than he could make out. The darkness of the temple did nothing to help his eyesight. Not even the little light that was being let it from the day.
Something glittering caught his attention, though it was far above him.
Squinting, Katsuki stared at the object before jumping at the sound of Uraraka calling for him. He turned to look in her direction. “What?”
“I found a pump!” she called.
Confusion course through him. A pump? Like a water pump? He shook his head and headed in her direction. She was bent over something on the other side of the temple. He stopped behind her as she stood up straight.
“There’s water coming in through here,” she explained. “If we can get it all the way open, we might be able to get this floor flooded enough to reach the next.”
Katsuki shrugged, watching her carefully. “So open it.”
Uraraka turned to look at him, a frown set on her face. “You’re the one with the knife,” she retorted.
“What’s my knife going to do?” he snapped.
“Open it, duh.”
Rolling his eyes, he looked at the pump. It was a rather large pump. Almost as tall as Uraraka herself. A metal shield was holding the water out. His eyes ran up the block, his eyes landing on the rope that could be used to lift it out of place. He followed the rope with his gaze until he could see the barrel that hung from one of the pillars.
“See that?” he asked, pointing to the small barrel. “If we can get that, we can lift the grate.”
Uraraka looked to what he was pointing at before looking back down at him. Katsuki was already moving to stand underneath the barrel. The rope itself was passing through a stone hoop, small enough that the barrel wouldn’t go through it.
“Come on. I don’t have all day,” he growled at her. She laughed him off before running up to him.
Her foot landed carefully into his hands and he had to use his legs to get her high enough so his shoulder wouldn't rip open by launching her up. He stayed where he was, arms open as she flew up. Her small hands gripped the barrel before she came back down. Though she didn’t come all the way down.
Katsuki watched as she dangled just above him. The stone block must have been extremely heavy to not be pulled immediately down by her weight.
Grumbling, he jumped up enough to be able to grab her ankle with his hands. Pain seared through his back as his added body weight slowly drifted them to the ground. Once he had her feet on the ground, he grabbed the barrel himself and used the rope to tie it to the pillar.
The water around them rose around them slowly.
Katsuki leaned his forehead against the pillar, taking deep breaths to get him through the searing pain in his back.
“Are you okay?” Uraraka asked gently.
“I’m okay,” he grit out. It hurt like a bitch, but he’d manage.
Despite her adamency not to get his wounds infect, she couldn’t stop the water from touching his bandages. He’d need some antiseptic when they got out of the tomb so he didn’t die by infection later.
The water continued to rise until they were able to float. Uraraka stayed close to him as their feet got further and further away from the floor. The bag she carried was thankfully waterproof, so at least the bandages they had would be clean when he eventually had to change the ones currently on his back.
Once the water was high enough, Katsuki used what was left of his strength to pull himself onto the flooring of the next level. He laid on the ground, breathing deeply as he tried to ignore the pain. The stinging sensation of bacteria irritating his wound was new. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about it right now.
Uraraka pulled herself up next to him, her hand laying gently on his side as she sat beside him. “We should radio Izuku and Kirishima.”
Katsuki didn’t respond, ignoring her as she rummaged through her bag to grab her radio. As she spoke to their friends, the blonde pulled himself up. His eyes scanned the ledge, looking for another pump.
Splashing of water alerted him off to his side. He stood and made his way further onto the second landing of the temple. The pump was set up similarly to the first, but it was hidden in a separate room. The barrel connected to it seemed to be missing as well.
“Uraraka!” he called.
“Need your help.”
It didn’t take her long to find him. He wasn’t very far. She appeared in the doorway rather quickly before she found what he needed her help with.
The brunette gave him a stern look. “You want to just push it out of the way, don’t you?”
Katsuki nodded and moved to the side of the stone panel. Uraraka set herself next to the otherside. Both gripped the bottom of the panel before lifting. They both grunted as they attempted to lift it up. Slowly, the panel moved, letting water out as it was raised.
His legs buckled under the weight, but he refused to let go. Even with the pain in his shoulder, Katsuki kept his grip on the stone. Water pushed at his body, trying to force him to let go.
It wasn’t until the stone seemed to come loose that the pair let go of it. Katsuki moved out of the way as the round slab sank to the floor beneath them. He looked to Uraraka as the room filled slowly.
She was already moving out to the main room and he followed after her. His back felt torn open all over again, but ignored it. The faster they got to the top, the faster they could go home.
If you don’t bleed out first, a voice whispered in his head.
He shook the thought away. He’d make it. He needed to. His mother would beat the shit out of his corpse if he died. Hell, he’d kick his own ass if he died.
The front room filled slowly just like it had before. It seemed to take forever to get to the next landing. Katsuki almost cursed when he found that they weren’t at the top yet. Uraraka seemed to sense his tension.
“We’re almost there,” she said comfortingly. “I bet this is the last drain.”
Katsuki couldn’t tell who she was trying to convince. He doubted it was just him though. Still, he could feel the wariness settling into his brain. Blood loss and constant pain had a way of doing that to a person.
She was the one who found the third drain. She was also the one who got it to lift. The water felt cool against his heated back even if it did leave a tingling sensation. He almost cried at the sight of the ceiling above them. Though it was more of a cavern like ceiling than a temple one.
The water seemed to spill into a large cave off to the side of them. The pair glanced at each other before swimming toward it. Uraraka crawled in first before standing, Katsuki close behind her.
Grateful to be out of the water, they trudged forward through the cavern. The only sound being their boots sloshing through the couple of inches of water spilling into the cavern. They walked only for a few minutes before having to jump down.
The cave was dark enough to warrant Uraraka pulling out a flashlight. The light shined against the wet walls and nearly blinded him.
They made their way through the cavern, moving around stalagmites easily. At some point they had to squeeze through a crack in the wall. As soon as he was through, he took a deep breath, stopping to give himself a small break. The wounds on his shoulder and back stung dully now. He was pretty sure the blood was starting to seep into his shirt now though.
After a moment, Katsuki followed after Uraraka. She was a few meters ahead of him now, but he didn’t mind. The temple was cylindrical in shape, twisting up light a giant stone spiral staircase. Giant steps lead all the way up to the top of the temple. Sunlight beamed through the holes in the walls of the stone, lighting the cavern.
“We probably have to climb up,” Uraraka called over her shoulder. The blonde man lowered his gaze from the spiraling stones above him to the woman who had marched her way forward like she knew what she was doing.
Katsuki sighed, following after her. “Let’s get this over with.”
The climb up was slow and tedious. The stone ledges were often too far apart from each other for just one of them to reach. Katsuki had to launch Uraraka over to the next ledge several times. Some of them were too narrow to walk comfortably on to the point where they had to shimmy their way over against the wall. Most were broken and both adults had to make sure not to go tumbling down the higher they climbed.
“Kacchan? Ochako?” a voice called from above them. Both of them turned their heads up, looking for the familiar green head of hair they were used to.
“Deku? Is Eijirou with you?” Katsuki called back, his voice carrying farther than Deku’s had.
“Yeah, we came in through what we think is the exit.”
Uraraka looked at him before she put a hand on his bicep. “Let’s keep going. We’re almost there.”
Both made their way up the to where their friends waited steadily. It took much longer than Katsuki would like. His shoulder hurt so badly at this point that he could barely feel the pain in his leg from where it had been crushed by a boulder. It hurt to the point where he was dizzy and exhausted. He wanted to just lay down and never have to get back up. Not in a dying sense, but if he could get home by just laying on the ground, he would be happy. Still, he pushed on, following after Uraraka.
They reached the top of the temple, greeted with the sight of their friends waiting for them. Eijirou immediately rushed towards Katsuki, grabbing his good arm to help him up the last ledge. Uraraka moved to help, but the blonde pushed both away from him as he stood. A scowl rested on his face. He didn’t need help. He’d been through worse and pain was not abnormal for him.
When he looked around to see the altar, he found Deku already hunched over it. The sound of his mumbling resonated throughout the hollowness of the temple below. The mumbling itself used to annoy Katsuki to no end when they were kids, but as they got older and started working together more on excursions, the blonde found himself enjoying knowing how the dork’s brain worked. Most of the time, Deku had no idea he was even talking outloud.
Pulling away from the two worrying over his probably newly blood stained shirt, Katsuki hunched over directly beside Deku. He listened carefully to the mumbling, scowl focused on the etchings in the altar itself rather than the pain in his shoulder. He’d worry about infections and ripped stitches later. Right now, they had to figure out how to stop the earthquakes from happening.
“Oh… oh!” Deku exclaimed, standing up straight suddenly. Katsuki mirrored him, red eyes watching the nerd intently. “I got it! I-” His eyes traveled over to the blonde, surprised he was right there rather than still behind him.
“Spit it out, you nerd. I don’t want to be here all day.”
Deku flushed. “Sorry. It’s just that this says that we need to put the scepter and the shield together, but it’s strange… The shield isn’t here.”
Katsuki rolled his eyes and pressed both his hands flat down on the top of the altar. Stones ground loudly against each other as the altar split open in the middle and out rose the mantel, shield mounted on top. The silver of it sparkled in the light streaming through the cracks in the ceilings as it rose up until finally settling before them like a piece displayed in an art gallery.
The four stared at it, not sure how to proceed. Katsuki and Uraraka knew not to touch it immediately, given what had happened with the scepter. The shield itself was simple in design, but it radiated with unspoken power that the blonde knew he didn’t want to mess with.
“Kacchan, you have to grab it.”
The blonde turned towards Deku so quickly, he tweaked his neck. “What?!”
“The symbols. It says ‘creation falls in the hands of he who destroys.’ That means whoever took the scepter without the shield is the only one who can put the artifacts together!” Deku explained, gesturing wildly at the cravings along the side of the altar.
The blonde turned, looking directly at Uraraka. She bit her lip and pulled the scepter out of her backpack. He watched as she held it up, walking over to hand it to him with a concerned look on her face.
“Be careful,” she murmured so only he could hear.
“I’m always careful, Round Face.”
She pursed her lips at him. Her eyes betrayed her worry, but he took no notice of that. Well, he tried to.
With a determined scowl on his face, Katsuki turned back to the shield, scepter in his hand. Anxiety raged through his veins, coursing through him so quickly his hands started to shake. The fact that the last time he’d grabbed an artifact that held actual power, the temple had collapsed around them didn’t help.
“Wait!” Deku exclaimed, bent over the altar to inspect the shield.
“What now?!” Katsuki snapped.
“You have to do this correctly. If you don’t, the temple might collapse or something and we all won’t be able to get out on time. The exit is too treacherous and there’s four of us. The probability of all of us getting out is slim.”
“So how do I fucking do this then, Deku?!”
The green haired man stood and pointed to the symbol. “See this? See how the person is holding the artifacts? Like this.”
Katsuki stared down at the carvings in the altar. None of it meant much to him, but he knew that if he fucked it up, they might all die. With a deep breath, he turned to face his best friend and the woman he’d been pining for since he started working at the university.
“Katsuki,” Eijirou started, face contorted in fear. “It doesn’t say anything about what happens after. We don’t know what’s going to happen to you.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”
The look on his friend’s face did not say that he believed him, but it didn’t matter. Katsuki would make sure the three of them at least survived, even if he didn’t. Slowly, he turned to Uraraka. The short woman was wringing her hands around her backpack straps like they were going to snap off at any second.
She barely took a moment before smashing her lips against his, holding his shirt and dragging him down to her height. The blonde panicked, his hands clutching on to the scepter as he tried to figure out what to do. She pulled away just as quickly, biting down on her lip.
“Don’t die. I need to take you on a date,” she mumbled, cheeks flushed as she stared up at him.
Katsuki gulped quietly and nodded before turning around. With shaking hands, he reached for the shield. It shined brightly as if it somehow knew he was the one who held the scepter of Tezcatlipoca.
His hand touched the center of the shield first before he slowly took hold of the top. It came free of its mantle easily, but it was heavy. The sound of stones grinding against each other came resounding above the group and sunlight poured in from the top of the temple, shining down directly on Katsuki.
He turned the shield in his hands and slipped his good arm into the hold before lifting it above his head to have the silver face the sun. Slowly, he placed the scepter in the hold just above his arm.
The sun shone brighter, blinding Katsuki as it traveled through the gemstone in the scepter. He almost dropped the artifacts as the light from the sun started to absorb into his skin. Golden bright light travelled down his arm and throughout his body. Distantly, he could hear his friends shouting, but he could only focus on the roaring warmth spreading through his skin and the whispering of thousands of words he knew he couldn’t actually understand.
The whispering turned to shouting as the warmth faded and Katsuki felt a darkness coming over him and suddenly, everything stopped.
He could see the figure of a man, tall and strong and proud. He had no features and said no words, but an understanding washed over the blonde as he looked on. There was nothing, but serenity in this place. A place he shouldn’t be standing in, but he was. The man turned towards him, staring him down even with no eyes, before nodding in acknowledgment and turning away.
Katsuki collapsed, body hitting the stone ground hard as his vision faded back out into the temple surrounding him. The pain was less, but still there. If he could focus, he’d probably be able to tell that more, but everything was slowly coming back into view. He could clearly hear and feel his friends calling his name and touching him. It didn’t keep him awake for long and soon, he was surrounded by darkness.
Three weeks later
“Can anyone tell me how rice became a staple food in Japan?”
Hands went up quickly. Katsuki pointed to one of the few in the back that held their hands up. “Wasn’t it imported?” the girl asked, unsure of her response.
“Yeah, it was imported. Rice has been a staple food of our diet for over 2000 years. In fact, it once was so important to our culture that it was used as a currency,” he said. “It was imported around 100BC and with it came the introduction of social classes and uniting under powerful landowners.
“Travelers from China reported that Queen Himiko reigned over Japan at the time. With this introduction to agriculture, we saw more modern ideas and usage of iron. The pottery is distinctive from this era as well, giving it its name. The clay was sculpted the same way the Jomon period did, but the similarities end there. Yayoi pottery was more simple and functional and less porous.”
Katsuki clicked through some slides to show the pottery from the Yayoi period. The deep necked jars and basins showed a time in which functionality prevailed over decoration. It had been three weeks and his shoulder still hurt, even with the stitches dissolving slowly.
“Alright, class is going to end soon. What did everyone do over their break?” he asked, turning off the projector and sitting at his desk.
Students clamored around, each taking turns to say what they did. Some didn’t do anything aside from studying while most went home to see family. Katsuki listened to each story. When he’d returned home, the first thing he did was go see his parents. They scolded him like he was a teenager, but they looked happy to see him. Of course, that’s just how his parents were.
“What’d you do over the break, Mr. Bakugou?” a student asked once everyone finished recounting their break.
He sighed. “I went on a field trip.”
“Where to?” another asked.
“Peru.” His students murmured in confusion for a few seconds before he raised his hand and waved them away. “Okay, class is over. Get the hell out.”
The students filed out, handing in any assignments they finished as they went. A few of them said goodbye to him as they all filed out, but he didn’t bother responding. He turned his attention to the door all the same, spotting the one person he’d been dying to see all day.
Katsuki stood, ready to make his way over to her, but she beat him to it. Her arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss so quickly, he thought maybe she was going to try to kill him.
“Ochako, what the hell?” he asked grumpily when they parted.
Her smile stretched across her face, dazzling him for a moment. “I missed you.”
“I saw you an hour ago.”
“It was a long hour,” she retorted. Katsuki chuckled despite not wanting to. “I came by to see if you wanted to go to lunch with me.”
“Yeah, whatever. Let me get some stuff done first.”
She nodded, pulling away from him before sitting on his desk while he graded some work he hadn’t finished previously. “What do you want to eat?” she asked.
“I don’t care. You pick,” he said, giving her a small smile.
She beamed at him. “Let’s get Mediterranean,” she said. He nodded in agreement.
Once he finished grading, he stood and walked with her out of the classroom. The walk was pleasant, even if they were surrounded by students. It was nice being back where he wasn’t going to be ambushed by a jaguar at any moment. Thinking about it, he was sure that jaguar wasn’t a normal jaguar. Then again, he didn’t remember much from it anyway so he couldn’t prove that.
Soon they found themselves down the street at a restaurant, sitting down and waiting for their food. Ochako was being quiet, which usually meant she had something on her mind, but Katsuki wasn’t sure he was ready to address it. Taking a deep breath, he looked at her, carefully taking in her soft features and bright brown eyes.
“What is it?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.
She chewed her lip for a moment before leaning forward. “How would you feel going to Egypt?”