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i go for the door (the place where you are)

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Shouto’s first conscious thought is that he is extremely grateful that it is the weekend, because his bed has never felt so comfortable. 

 

Though he’d remodelled his room rather rapidly, UA still insisted on students sharing the same basic furniture, so their desks and beds were all manufactured together, perhaps in the interests of fairness. Shouto is aware this is just, as he is growing quite aware of the fact not all of his classmates can relate to his and Yaoyorozu’s ideas of economic normalcy, but this does not mean he is entirely able to quash the voice in his head reminding him of his bed at home. Not that he sleeps worse at UA, per se- he probably sleeps better, considering his father is nowhere near- but the flat, stiff little mattress that barely fits now he’s hit yet another growth spurt does no wonders for his comfort, and he feels too self-aware to complain about it. 

 

He stirs a little, mind still surprisingly hazy with sleep, and wonders at how soft everything feels. He is not particularly the self-indulgent type, but he feels it presently. His pillow even smells good, not the sterile scent of his dorm or the artificial cleanliness of his house, something like cinnamon or citrus. 

 

He stretches, and feels only further bedding. 

 

Shouto stills. Slowly, he opens his eyes, ill-adjusted against the glare of sunlight, arm still feeling mattress where there should be none, and stares up at a ceiling he does not recognise. There is a fan above him. His room doesn’t have a ceiling fan. 

 

He sits up in one clean movement, drowsiness gone and fingers flexing with tension, poised for a fight. Sitting upright only makes the disorientated feeling grow; the entire room is completely foreign to him. Now that he’s out from under the covers, he can make out the sound of traffic, unheard of from the UA dorms. 

 

The room is spacious, looks lived in, making his initial suspicions of some villainous basement lose further credibility even as his pulse continues to race. There are bedside tables on either side of the Western-style bed; the wardrobe is classically Japanese, and there are old-fashioned mats laid on the floor. It’s spotless without feeling impersonal, books and various accessories neatly organised but clearly well-kept, the walls a muted cream sort of colour. Shouto startles when something by his side buzzes softly, calming a little when he tracks the noise to no more than a phone, though not a model he recognises.

 

Cautiously, he slides his legs over the side of the bed, palms still raised defensively by his sides. No sound comes from outside the room, but that means nothing; he moves with as little noise as possible, anticipating violence. 

 

He glances at the phone, which has gone dark again, reaches swiftly to activate the lock screen again. It shows a number of emails from official-sounding addresses, some activity in group chats he doesn’t recognise, and a handful of text messages, mostly mundane, that he doesn’t bother to look at. The whole thing seems incredibly banal. His eyes travel the room again, finding nothing amiss, which only lodges unease more firmly in his chest. 

 

He can’t shake the feeling this is someone’s real apartment, and he’s somehow found himself in it, though he knows it’s naive not to suspect foul play. Most likely he’s been taken somehow, or he’s been hit by some sort of quirk and is hallucinating. It’s possible this is all a dream, too.

 

Likely he is being toyed with, observed. It is important that he maintain composure. 

 

Shouto goes to stand and has to catch himself against the wall when he finds himself dizzy, like his centre of gravity has shifted. It almost feels like it has- he frowns at the floor, wondering if the owners simply like a low bed. 

 

He’s read somewhere that it’s possible to wake from a lucid dream by checking for specifics, like the date, and reaches for the phone again. The time seems about accurate, but he can’t access the date, unfamiliar with the make of the device. 

 

He pushes himself off the wall, frost softly emanating from his fingers when he reaches for the door handle lest it make some creak, and peers further inside the building. 

 

As he’s suspected, he’s in an apartment, and though his stance is taut with nerves as he looks around, he finds it empty, at least to the eye. 

 

The apartment is nice, though there is something strange about it Shouto can’t quite place. The kitchen is big and modern, cupboards fully stocked when Shouto finds himself relaxed enough to snoop; there is a living room with a nice couch and a suitable dining-table, and a kind of cramped bathroom. The bathroom is the first real giveaway that the apartment is shared, unless the two sets of toothbrushes and various grooming products are the sign of a very vain and particular home-owner. 

 

He ends up perched on the couch, peering out of the window into the street. It looks busy for Sunday morning, and he frowns, wondering if this isn’t perhaps Tokyo rather than Musutafu. It’s true that he lives in a rather isolated part of town, but he doesn’t think he’s seen this kind of activity even around the school, unless it was some special occasion. It can well be- he’s bad at keeping track of festivals and the like, unused to celebrating them and bad with dates in general.

 

Unsettled, Shouto retraces his steps, worried by his unbalanced gait as he does so. He’s never ill, and rarely injured; there’s no reason for him to be dizzy unless this all is part of some nefarious scheme. The fact that he simply can’t guess what the game at play is is driving him to frustration.

 

He stops in the bathroom again, rifling around, until a glimpse of a man just by him makes him jolt upright, ice and fire crackling into existence unprompted. He might have marvelled at how easily his flames arise, but he’s too distracted by the realisation he’s simply looking at a mirror- but his reflection is unfamiliar.

 

He glances around the room, feeling disturbed, but there is no one in sight, and the brows furrowing in the mirror match his own frown. And yet- 

 

The man in the mirror is just that: a man. Adult in a way Shouto is not, and will not be for quite some years. At a wager he would have said his mid-twenties, maybe slightly less. Shouto feels plenty grown himself, but looking at this unfamiliar face he can see the ways he isn’t yet- his jaw is stronger, his shoulders broader; he’s far more muscular, and there’s something both sharper and more sophisticated in his face. He raises a hand cautiously, watching the man do the same. He has a scar across his palm. 

 

He’s fully aware he’s letting his guard down too much, but he finds it hard to look away from his inspection, eyes searching. He realises after a moment he’s looking for traces of his father, and flinches away, embarrassed. Still, though there are hints of him in his posture and the piercing blue of his eye, he finds his mother’s delicate features have not left him in this older form, something refined in his face that neither his father nor his brother can lay claim to. 

 

He tears his eyes away at last and stares at the ceiling. So his body is older. He’s taller: that explains the dizzy spell. Where he is, though, remains unclear, despite hypotheses beginning to form in his mind. He goes for the bedroom again, opening the drawers of the cabinet he’d woken up by, and exhales a controlled breath, finding identification forms, a wallet, various knick-knacks that he doesn’t recognise.

 

The phone buzzes again. Calculating, he presses his thumb to the screen. Nothing happens, but a notification pops up to enable facial ID. He presses it rapidly, blinking in surprise when a little laser scan emerges from the device, buzzing faintly as Shouto holds still. He curses his impulsive move for a moment, sure of impending danger, but the phone simply clicks and the home screen appears with a little welcoming beep. 

 

He checks the date. Sunday October the 19th, 2125. 

 

Right, Shouto thinks, and feels an urge to sit down, which he resists. He checks the weather, the news, watching the date reappear with normalcy as he scrolls rapidly through unfamiliar stories. 

 

He sets the phone down, and looks at the ceiling again. His hair feels long, which he’d noted only absently earlier. 

 

It seems most probable he’s in some kind of future world. The concept is decidedly odd, and more fantastic than he’s apt to believing, but it’s hard to come up with an alternative explanation. His body is physically older, the room seems strangely known to him, and the bedside cabinet is filled with what seem to be his possessions, not to mention the year matches up with the age he looks. 

 

He sits on the bed. The whole situation still feels like a dream. His thoughts turn to hospitals and doctors, and he wonders if this is his life- his real life- and he’s simply lost his memory. That’s possible with amnesiacs, he assumes, though does not know. Perhaps there’s been some kind of fight, and he’s hit his head. 

 

It’s just very difficult to grasp. Shouto knows for a fact that he’d gone to bed the previous day in his dorm room at UA, and can recall every detail of the day. The past week comes to him with perfect clarity. Is this normal for amnesia? His gut feeling says no. He feels too much himself to think he’s forgotten some eight years of his existence, give or take. 

 

At a loss, he turns to his phone. It hasn’t struck him until now that if he is indeed in his future, he might not be completely alone. 

 

His most recent text is from “I.M.”, and reads Hey!!!! thanks for yesterday, sorry i was so drunk, i think kacchan made me do it but still and is immediately followed by Also, i just wanted to know if you’ve made any progress on that dossier, because i was wondering if i might take a look at it - would be helpful ahead of the trip but don’t feel like you need to if you’re busy !!! 

 

Midoriya, he thinks, and feels strangely heartened, though perplexed. It’s nice to see they’re still talking in the future- or still friends, really, based on the tone. He would have hoped so, but he’s always cautious with his friends, unused to their presence even after a year of UA. It’s odd to imagine Midoriya older, and odder to imagine him and Bakugou drinking together, but he supposes if it was some kind of group event Bakugou might well have taken his boredom out on his usual scapegoat. It’s not like he and Bakugou are at constantly each other’s throats anymore, after that fight in first year- Bakugou’s slightly less of an asshole and Midoriya’s slightly less… Midoriya.

 

He wonders what the dossier is, and if he should attempt to reply, pretending to know what he’s being thanked for. He supposes he wasn’t drinking, or not heavily, because he feels fine. 

 

Curious now, he checks his other texts. One is from “T.I.”, simply reads Good Morning ! Hope you are ready to face the day ! and when he checks the chat log, he notes this seems to be a daily send-off. His usual response seems to be a single cat sticker. He sends one now, feeling somewhat like a fraud. Another text is from the data provider, and the last unread message is from someone whose initials mean nothing to him, talking about scheduled interviews and upcoming press galas. There are a number of other conversations open, but none unread, so he leaves them be, vaguely overwhelmed.

 

He avoids his inbox for much the same reason, heading for the messaging app where various group-chats seem to have their own life; one is named “aizawa number one dilf appreciation group”, which he does not understand but suspects to be the work of Kaminari or another one of Bakugou’s friends. He’s wary of reading the messages, just scrolls through the groups. There’s one with his siblings that hasn’t been used in a solid month or so, which is strange because they’ve never had a group chat. There’s a number which seem to be related to work, and he catches a few familiar names. For some reason Bakugou appears first amongst his noted friends, but he thinks this might just be taking note of who was last online. 

 

Phone in hand, he wonders who to contact. A year prior he would have tried to handle this completely alone, but it seems obstinate not to consult someone, considering everyone else seems to be in the right time and place but Shouto, who is a potential amnesiac. If he’s doing pro-hero work, which he seems to be, it’s dangerous putting civilians at risk by not telling anyone about his condition. 

 

He considers Iida, who very likely will drop everything and quickly run through every possible alternative with him, but it feels slightly uncomfortable. Iida is always busy; he doesn’t doubt this applies in the future too, and he doesn’t like to make himself a nuisance. Midoriya is another obvious answer, but if he’s recovering from a rough night Shouto doesn’t want to throw this at him. His next close friend is Yaoyorozu, who is also permanently busy but perhaps more composed and less likely to drop everything if he assures her it’s not an emergency.

 

First of all, he thinks, he might as well know if he’s meant to be doing anything instead of lounging around and having an internal crisis. 

 

It feels uncomfortable messaging her, especially because they so rarely talk via social media in his own life. They spoke a bit over summer, mainly sending each other pictures of their holidays and having polite discussions of their plans once school started, but he’s been told he’s awkward over text, and Yaoyorozu stays very formal. If he scrolls up on this phone, he can see snippets of their last conversation, apparently organising some work-related event. The tone is more casual than he’s used to.

 

He writes: Hello. Do you know if I’m doing anything important today? I feel like I’m forgetting something.

 

Oddly enough, her response is almost immediate. 

 

I take it your night went well :-D As far as I know, it’s your day off, isn’t it? Last we spoke you mentioned going into the office to look at something for Izuku, but I don’t believe that was urgent business. 

 

It is bizarre to see Yaoyorozu use emoticons and to call Midoriya by his first name, but he supposes it would be stranger if she didn’t, almost a decade down the line. 

 

Ah, that’s what it was. I’ve got to send him some intel before he goes on his trip.

 

He seemed a little sad about it when I last spoke to him. I think he’s enjoyed being back in Japan for a while. But the opportunity to be there with All Might is a tremendous one, which he knows, I think. 

 

Of course, Shouto says, though he has no idea what she’s talking about and feels vaguely blindsided by the notion of Midoriya and All Might outside of Japan. Thank you. 

 

He pulls the wallet out from the drawer, finding a registered hero ID card inside with a thrill of excitement, then a business card, which lists the address of a building- it is Tokyo, he notes, and wonders abruptly just where all his classmates are talking to him from. 

 

Leaving the apartment fills him with vague trepidation, waiting to wake up from his strange slumber, but nothing happens. He’s dressed in clothes he found in the wardrobe, which fit him too well not to be his, though he raised a brow at some of the fashion choices he’d apparently be making in the future. Fashion has never been a concern of his, nor style, but this seems to have changed with time; he feels a bit ridiculous strutting around in an all-black ensemble, but it feels fitting on his older body. His keys and his wallet he puts in his pockets, fearful of losing them.

 

It occurs to him as he hesitantly follows his phone’s instructions to the nearest underground station that he’s got no real reason to be heading to the office as if it matters. He still hasn’t told Yaoyorozu about his condition, and there’s nothing about this favour he’s doing Midoriya that feels relevant. It’s more that he feels like he has a purpose beyond aimlessly avoiding some kind of nervous breakdown.

 

Riding through Tokyo makes him feel vaguely claustrophobic, and very much on high alert. A lot of people are staring at him, which makes him feel like everyone on the train knows he’s out of place, though he considers eventually that it might just be that his face is recognisable, if he’s a pro-hero. Probably he doesn’t take public transport. 

 

The building he finally arrives at is impressive, towering over the city, and the kind of place he’d expect his father to own, which he dislikes. He mellows when he steps inside and notes the group of teenagers staring at him, feeling exposed and staring right back. They’re obviously on some kind of school outing; he recognises the Ketsubutsu uniform and wants to inch away, remembering only belatedly that he is not their peer in their eyes, as a handful respectfully lower their gazes and a number of others stare at him with a sort of impressed awe, muttering his name under their breath. They look sort of like they want something from him; Shouto manages to spare them a nod he hopes comes off as friendly enough, trying not to look blatantly out of place in his own damn workplace as he heads for the reception.

 

The receptionist is out; it strikes him he has no idea how to enter the building further. There are doors, but they’re locked by pass, and he doesn’t want to try them and look like an obvious idiot in front of a school tour.

 

The door opens as he’s still calculating his next move, and he’s surprised to find Amajiki meeting his eyes, the other man’s hair shorter than he remembers over his elf-like ears, something hard to place about him changed enough that Shouto struggles to recognise him for a beat. He tilts his head faintly at Shouto, ghost of a smile on his lips as he holds the door.

 

“Todoroki.”

 

“Thank you,” Shouto says, bowing, and passes through before he can blurt something stupid or stare at the older student. He wonders if he works with him sometimes, if they share office space, if the man is just visiting. He’s never seen him look at ease, but he seemed fine just then, far less subdued than Shouto knows him to be. Perhaps they’re friends, or perhaps Amajiki has evolved into someone comfortable enough to smile at near-strangers. His clothes were still faintly crumpled, which is reassuring somehow. 

 

He wanders without real direction around the building, finding his way to the elevators and deducing the right floor only on his second attempt. It’s nicer than he expected, perhaps still soured by the memories of working for his father. There’s a handful of bigger offices towards one end of the corridor that he assumes contains his, and it does; his name is written on the door, and his handprint unlocks it.

 

At a loss again, he texts Midoriya.

 

Sorry, which part of the dossier do you want in particular? I am at the office right now.

 

Not for the first time in the day, he feels like a child pretending at being an adult. This is technically his working space, but he has no idea what’s what, and he dreads meeting his coworkers lest they begin to talk to him about any of their work. The idea of talking to anyone is losing its appeal- surely it would sound insane, suggesting he was from the past; he finds it hard to pretend he seriously believes himself to have amnesia. 

 

He entertains himself by rifling through files, which does ground him somewhat. There’s something deeply satisfying, maybe even exciting, about glimpsing what his life could be one day- cases he’s resolved, people he’s saved. There’s more paperwork than he expected. On the walls there are awards, and it feels like cheating to look at them but he does anyways, taking in the achievements this Todoroki Shouto has accumulated over the years, plaques and rewards and commemorative pictures. 

 

He wonders who works with him, if he works alone. Midoriya seems to be based abroad for the moment, probably in America, and he can’t guess if any of his classmates are in Tokyo too, or if they stayed home, went elsewhere. He tries to imagine what his thought process was, in his final year, applying to internships- why he went to the big city. It’s tempted him often; he’s ambitious, Tokyo has a very competitive circuit, and it would take him away from home. He’s thought recently it might be more difficult leaving all of his schoolmates behind. Perhaps he’ll grow out of these worries, or perhaps his friends have followed.

 

There’s a picture of what looks to be class 1-A on his desk, older than Shouto knows them but younger than he looks now, maybe a year or so after graduation, he thinks, all in what looks to be their hero costumes. It’s very strange observing his classmates like this, all recognisable but different as they sit on the steps outside the school. Midoriya seems much taller, and his hair is short, curling wildly. Iida looks much the same, but he has new glasses, and they change his face. Uraraka’s hair is long, darker. Yaoyorozu’s seems short, and her costume is very different from the one he knows, leaving her far more covered up than he’s used to seeing. He spots himself near her side, looking askance at the photographer as he is prone to doing- he can’t tell very well, but he almost thinks his hair has been bleached. Bakugou and Kirishima are on his other side, both turned backwards to look at something happening off-screen; they both look tall, too, more built, Kirishima’s skin dark from the sun and his hair loose like he rarely wears it. Bakugou’s face is obscured, but he looks darker too, hair very blonde against his tank-top. His one arm seems to be knocking into Shouto’s, which he finds odd, or maybe just the precursor to a shouting fit.

 

Whatever you have is great, but if you could give me matsuoka’s personal files that would be especially good !! We don’t have much on him yet and i know you have a more substantial backing on this one :) 

 

No problem, Shouto sends, and starts searching for whoever the hell Matsuoka is. When he finds him last, Midoriya’s sent him something else.

 

By the way, you’re sure you’re ok from friday ? didn’t want to ask yesterday …

 

Shouto stares a little. Friday? Something happened to this Shouto on Friday? 

 

Why wouldn’t I be fine

 

Oh, be that way :P Midoriya replies, unfortunately assuming Shouto is being dismissive of his concerns. Shouto sighs to himself and sends him the files. 

 

Task completed, he feels antsy lingering in the building, and sees himself out cautiously. The receptionist is back in when he leaves, and she smiles warmly at him. He tries to return the favour, and doesn’t quite succeed. 

 

He tries to avoid the underground the second time around, hailing a taxi and feeling both kind of ridiculous and kind of like an asshole when the price counter hits the hundreds of Yens in an obscenely short time. Still, he supposes it’s his money. If he can afford an apartment that big in central Tokyo, he must have money to burn. 

 

The driver seems aware of who he is, and keeps glancing like he wants to ask but is too nervous to, which Shouto sort of appreciates, not feeling up to conversation, much less when he’s not exactly the person the driver thinks he is and has no idea what future Shouto would have to say in his position. He feels himself stiffen every time the guy looks over, and when they make eye contact once, the driver flinches and looks away. 

 

He tips awkwardly, uncertain what taxi etiquette is, pats his pockets down to make sure he still has his keys on hand when he enters the apartment complex. Somehow the walk upstairs feels familiar, which he guesses it is, to his body at least. He feels drained, though the day really hasn’t been particularly taxing and he slept in until lunch. 

 

The apartment is blissfully quiet. He finds himself hungry, looks through the cabinets with mixed approval and apprehension. He can’t imagine himself eating half of the things in it, so he supposes he must have gotten more adventurous, and significantly better at cooking, but the issue is that Shouto himself is still terrible in the kitchen, and has been basically banned from touching the communal oven, stove, and microwave. 

 

He ends up eating cold noodles he found in the fridge while he sits on the sofa, finding them significantly tastier than any brand he recognises and his sister’s attempts to cook for the whole family (though he feels slightly guiltily thinking this). The silence of the apartment doesn’t bother him, but he finds it slightly less blissful than initially. He thinks he might have gotten used to the dorms, the constant undercurrent of activity. The Todoroki estate had felt like a tomb over summer. 

 

He opens the window a little, regulating his body temperature when he finds the autumn air colder than expected and enjoying the faint sounds of pedestrians and traffic. 

 

So, what now? As much as the food is better and the bed more comfortable, it’s not on the table for him to stay here if he doesn’t belong- if he does, he’ll ruin more than his own reputation, messing about amongst pro heroes when he’s still in high school. It feels inevitable that he’ll have to talk to someone, but the prospect is daunting, now that the lives of his friends in this future world feel more real. They won’t remember being second years so clearly as to recall his week; they’ll worry he’s been put under some mind-controlling quirk before they really think he’s from the past. Shouto’s never heard of a quirk that allows for time-travel of any sort. 

 

He sets his noodles down, appetite gone. The truth is that he feels at a loss, but the situation is so foreign he’s not sure how to even react to this. It is so rare that he is rattled- Bakugou’s kidnapping in their first year and Endeavour’s televised battle had been about the only recent times he’d been incapable to control himself, and he’d thought those two had been quite sufficient. 

 

His silent contemplation is abruptly interrupted at the sound of the door swinging open, interruption so unexpected he actually jolts a little, immediately on edge again. So he was right after all- this is some kind of trap, Shouto thinks, a little wildly, and feels his powers come easily, each hand deceptively gently wrapped in ice or flame. 

 

“You could have warned me you still haven’t apologised to that crazed bitch about the cat thing,” a voice calls from the hallway, and Shouto’s heart pounds loudly, disoriented again by the tone. “She ripped me off completely, didn’t even let me negotiate the damn rice.”

 

The voice is hoarse, low, loud, familiar. Shouto feels his feet move by their own volition so he can look at the intruder, who is very non-menacingly tucking his shoes away, grocery bags by his side on the floor as he kicks the door shut lazily. From where he’s crouching by the closet Shouto can really only see his back and legs, which are more what he’d expect from some pro villain than the grocery discussion, but only in the sense that the guy looks like he could crush someone’s head with his thighs. 

 

The guy stands, turns, expression irritated as he meets Shouto’s eyes. “Don’t give me that look, asshole. You know damn well you were the one who started that whole mess.”

 

“Uh,” Shouto says, because he’s - there’s a very high probability that the man currently walking up to him is Bakugou Katsuki, and also Shouto feels like maybe he needs to sit down, though he’s not quite sure why. His heart is beating very fast even though he no longer thinks he’s about to be attacked, and he thinks he’s overheating. 

 

Definitely Bakugou stops just short of him, eyes narrowing. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” 

 

Shouto would like to reply, only he feels as though he has forgotten how to speak, and this would likely be a lot more alarming if his brain wasn’t completely shut down. Bakugou looks- 

 

The thing about Bakugou- his Bakugou- well, younger Bakugou- is that he’s not- Shouto thinks he’s pretty okay on the eyes, really. Not that he cares, or focuses, but out of the guys in their class, excluding himself, he’d probably say Bakugou was- somewhere in the lead. Based on objective assessment. He knows this is true; the girls gossip. He has nice skin, and bone structure. It’s just somewhat marred by the fact his temper is atrocious and he thus rarely relaxes his face into less than a scowl. 

 

This Bakugou also has good skin and bone structure, but unlike with the Bakugou Shouto is used to seeing, his eyes have to keep jumping around trying to take all of him in. His skin is sort of golden, like he’s holding on to a summer tan; he’s wearing a tight long-sleeved black shirt that makes his physique very apparent, and it’s- it’s a good physique to have. He’s still shorter than Shouto, thank god, but just by a little; he seems more imposing anyways, even just standing with groceries in his hands. His hair is longer than Shouto knows it, also more shiny somehow. There are neat silver piercings high on both of his ears. Like Shouto, his jaw is more defined, nose sharper, and he has faint cheekbones. There are freckles on the bridge of his nose. He doesn’t know how to describe the change all these details amount to, but it is immediately obvious and overwhelming, and Bakugou is- he’s- hot. 

 

Shouto has spent about fifteen years of his life resolutely disinterested in other people point blank, sixteen disinterested in them in the romantic or sexual sense. Lately he’s been catching himself not so completely removed from it all as he thought he was, and with some well-founded suspicions as to where his interest lies, but he’s mostly surrounded by people just heading into their late teens, half of them still recovering from the horrors of puberty, the vast majority with the maturity of children, and the most he’s had to contend with are brief flashes of interest every couple of days when one of his classmates looks handsomer than he remembers, or maybe staring a little too hard at some of the older students, who have grown into their good looks. Once in a while he realises that his observations of some of his friends are not strictly platonic, and is quietly mortified by it for a couple of days. He just doesn’t really know how to process it, and resents the impact on his composure.

 

He does, however, think Bakugou is decisively and terminally hot, a word he has never even thought of applying to a real life person. This knowledge continues to hold him hostage, incapable of speech.

 

“I,” Shouto manages, and with colossal effort shifts backwards slightly, so he’s not standing so close to him. For a moment he thinks he’s managed to escape, Bakugou stepping around him to put the bags down in the kitchen, but he only does this to then grab Shouto by the shoulders and stare him down. He freezes more habitually, unaccustomed to touch. 

 

“Are you ill or some shit?” Bakugou asks, still peering intently at him. Shouto wills himself to get a grip, because he’s aware that once he gets out of this stupor he will be beyond humiliated that he managed to turn into an overloaded Kaminari just because Bakugou of all people aged this well, and begins to come up with a response, something cutting and clever that will explain away his current state.

 

“I could be an amnesiac,” is what comes out instead. Bakugou stares. 

 

“The fuck?”

 

Shouto finally gets a grip, shaking Bakugou off and rubbing his shoulder reflexively. “It’s just a theory. I seem to be missing eight years of memory.”

 

“Wha- since when?” Bakugou asks, and Shouto thinks why is Bakugou in my apartment anyways? “Are you sure you’re not just high? Goddamnit, was Kaminari here again?”

 

“No,” Shouto says, which feels true, at least. He can’t imagine smoking weed with Denki Kaminari. “I’ve been having a weird day. Could we do this later?”

 

He doesn’t know what he’s asking, exactly, because he’s not sure why Bakugou is in his apartment, or why he’s brought groceries, or- did he leave the door unlocked? Does Bakugou have spare keys to his apartment? Is this even Bakugou?

After a beat, Bakugou goes to punch him in the face, which answers the last question, and Shouto glares incredulously at him, ice glinting where it formed between them. Bakugou merely blinks, then crosses his arms. 

 

“You don’t seem concussed.”

 

“You thought actually giving me a concussion was going to help with that?” Shouto asks, flat. 

 

“Fuck’s sake, Sho,” Bakugou says, which throws him off so much that his ice evaporates, ears ringing. Bakugou swears and goes to manoeuvre him somewhere; Shouto flinches back again.

 

They stare at each other. 

 

“Okay,” Bakugou says finally, eyes like amber. It is rare that he fixes Shouto like this, but he swears he’s gained some kind of ungodly extra quirk, because he feels hot all over. “Who the hell are you and where the hell is Todoroki?” 

 

His voice is oddly calm, expression blank. Shouto wants to lie to him, but he feels suddenly more trapped and tired than he has all day, and he still doesn’t know what Bakugou is doing in his apartment on a Sunday evening, holding groceries and calling him by his first name. Bizarrely, the fact he seems a moment away from killing him inspires trust. 

 

“You probably won’t believe me,” Shouto says. Bakugou only stares, gamely. There’s something about him that Shouto doesn’t recognise, not just in his face. 

 

“Try me.”

 

“I am Todoroki,” Shouto says, eyes flitting away. He’s usually not uncomfortable with eye contact, but he knows how stupid it sounds, doesn’t want to be looking at Bakugou when he says it. “Shouto, I mean. But I’m not- from now.” He exhales through his nose. “When I went to bed I was at UA. I woke up here. And I don’t know why.”

 

Bakugou says nothing for a bit, and then he says: “Doesn’t sound like amnesia.”

 

“I don’t think it is,” Shouto says, turning back to him. “I think I’m in the future. I don’t recognise anything. Normally I’m still in school.”

 

“So where’s normal you?” Bakugou demands. “In high school?”

 

Shouto hadn’t considered this. He feels like the thoughts he’s spent the day avoiding are finally catching up to him. “I suppose he’d- I’d- have to be.”

 

Bakugou looks for a moment like he’s going to blow something up, eyes flashing and brows lowering, but it passes. “How old are you?”

 

“Seventeen this year,” Shouto answers, which is stupid because he’s still sixteen for a while yet, but he feels like an idiot saying he’s sixteen in this grown man’s body. “I’m in my second year at UA.”

 

“What were you doing yesterday?” Bakugou asks, gaze shrewd. 

 

Shouto considers it. “We all had breakfast together yesterday- Iida wanted it to be a bonding experience. Half of the group was miserable being up so early, though, so he was quite distressed. And we had some incidents in the kitchen.” He delicately doesn’t mention he was behind one of these. “Later Midoriya and I studied together a while, but he got somewhat flustered thinking about our practicals because he injured himself for the first time in a while in our last session. I went to read in my room for a while and skipped lunch. Someone ordered pizza to the dorms and got in trouble. There was a movie on, but it looked - not to my tastes. I went to bed.” 

 

He sighs, remembering his disgruntled mood. “It was raining hard. It took me a while to get to sleep because Bakugou was blasting music.” 

 

“I wear headphones,” Bakugou says.

 

“They don’t do much, then,” Shouto starts, then remembers himself and pauses. “I mean-“

 

“Goddamnit, Todoroki!” Bakugou exclaims abruptly, now actually looking pissed off as his fingers spark. “I fucking knew something happened on Friday. What is it with you and being a complete fucking moron at the worst possible moment?”

 

The last part feels more directed at him than the start, and Shouto kind of wants to say something in his own defence except he has no idea what his future self has done and he’s also slightly irked by him at this moment, considering he’s apparently to blame for Shouto being here. 

 

“You believe me?” Shouto asks, because he’s a little incredulous that Bakugou of all people, even this Bakugou, is the type to take his word for this kind of thing. Bakugou glowers at him, which is reassuring.

 

“That idiot is a terrible liar,” Bakugou mutters, looking furious. “And you’re clearly not him, but you’re obviously still Shoto Todoroki.” 

 

“How am I not him?”

 

Bakugou just rolls his eyes. “You didn’t even bitch out the grocery store woman.”

 

“I could just be an impostor,” Shouto points out, not sure why he’s trying to convince Bakugou not to believe him. It just feels wrong somehow, how easily he’s been let in on the secret.

 

Bakugou actually snorts, though his features are still tight with anger. “Only you would fare so poorly at it, then. And you talk like an orphan from a Dickens novel.”

 

“I do not,” Shouto says. And then, because apparently he physically cannot stop himself from rising to the bait with Bakugou, even in this bizarro world: “I didn’t know you read.” 

 

“Fuck you,” Bakugou retorts, though he seems to have relaxed a fraction. His expression is unfamiliar when he looks at him, and it makes Shouto’s skin crawl. 

 

“Why are you in my apartment?” 

 

He doesn’t mean to ask it, but the question bothers him. It’s the one thing out of place in his future- the rest was pretty much expected. Bakugou casually seeing himself in was not. Again, Bakugou takes him off guard by not immediately biting his head off, just looking at him with this hard knowing gaze Shouto doesn’t want to find intimidating but somewhat does. His Bakugou never looks like that. 

 

Just as suddenly, Bakugou shrugs, dismissive. “My place got flooded a couple weeks back. I’ve been crashing here. Your dumbass still hasn’t learned to cook; I magnanimously keep you from starving to death while I’m here. Speaking of which: hungry?”

 

He turns back into the kitchen, Shouto slowly following. He can’t imagine Bakugou ever picking his place to crash at.

 

“Didn’t you have anywhere else to go?”

 

“In Tokyo? No,” Bakugou retorts, swiping through the cupboards expertly. “Unless I wanted to end up crammed into a shitty four-person dumpster.” He turns to give him the evil eye. “Do you wanna fucking eat or not?”

 

Shouto’s stomach grumbles. “If you don’t mind.”

 

“If I don’t mind,” Bakugou echoes, mockingly, but he shoves Shouto towards the table. “Lemme work then, dumbass.” 

 

Shouto watches him move around the kitchen like he’s the conductor of a particularly raucous orchestra, mildly fascinated and still vaguely in shock. Every so often he realises he’s just blatantly gawking and reels himself in. He’s not sure what to make of this Bakugou, who is both so like his own and so diametrically opposed. Shouto wonders what he’s like, if this is what his version of Bakugou has turned out to be. 

 

Bakugou sets bowls down dramatically, clicking his tongue when he catches sight of the leftovers. “Thought you were hungry.”

 

“I am,” Shouto says, albeit somewhat guiltily. The food smells heavenly. He’s caught sight of Bakugou making his food in the dorms sometimes; Kirishima and co are always wheedling him for some. It smells good at UA, too. He’s sure if he asked Bakugou would lose his shit and hit him with a spatula. 

 

They eat in silence, Bakugou obviously distracted and Shouto feeling increasingly fatigued. The food wakes him up a little, so good he kind of wants to weep and beg Bakugou never to let him return to the mercy of a Bakugou who doesn’t share. 

 

“Right,” Bakugou says, setting down his chopsticks eventually. Shouto blinks around a particularly large mouthful of rice, trying not to look like an idiot child when he meets his eyes. He’s pretty sure he fails, but Bakugou doesn’t even give him shit, just looks away while he swallows, fingers tapping against the table like his Bakugou does in class. When he looks back his brow is furrowed. “We need to figure out how this happened and how the fuck to switch you back around. You look like shit and I need sleep, so we’ll start tomorrow. I assume you don’t know what caused this.”

 

“No,” Shouto answers, feeling useless and hating the feeling. He’s not accustomed to being the weakest link in a situation. “I think whatever happened occurred on your side, not mine. We spent Friday in class, and I’ve felt fine all weekend.”

 

“Fucking swell,” Bakugou grunts. “I don’t know anyone with a time-related quirk.”

 

“I think I probably have some kind of villain database in my office,” Shouto suggests, unwilling to be of no consequence in this conversation. Bakugou only shoots him an irritated look.

 

“I know, asshole, I work there too.” 

 

He collects their cutlery as Shouto exhales, feeling disoriented again. He hovers while Bakugou cleans up, just as intensely as he does everything else. He wonders if there’s anything Bakugou doesn’t do angrily. He imagines he brushes his teeth hard enough that his toothbrush snaps. 

 

“Do you pay rent while you’re here?”

 

“Wow,” Bakugou says. “Cheap bitch.”

 

“That’s not what- I just meant. If you buy the food and cook, it’s a lot of money and work. It doesn’t seem fair.” 

 

He doesn’t know why he feels the need to share it; it’s just suddenly that he’s worried his older self has forgotten what a miracle this food is compared to microwaved noodles, and that just seems wrong. 

 

“I don’t pay rent,” Bakugou answers. Shouto can’t see his face, but he sounds like he’s smirking. “As if I’d let you take my money when you could afford the whole building on daddy’s credit card.” 

 

The mention of Endeavour and the thought of still being indebted to him in his adult age makes Shouto clench his jaw, wanting to detach from the situation but unable to quite do so in present company. He watches Bakugou in silence instead, wondering why a Bakugou who lives at his mercy would still insist on bringing up topics he knows to avoid. He guesses it’s just some greater truth that Bakugou must be an asshole no matter the time or place; the real life equivalent of a toothache no matter how good he looks.

 

He does look good. Shouto wishes he could stop focusing on this so much. 

 

The cupboard door slams shut; Shouto twitches a little.

 

“Stop standing around like a mismatched houseplant and go to bed,” Bakugou snaps, peering at him with the sort of look Shouto would expect one of their teachers to throw at them if they’re acting out. “I take it you’re able of doing that, or do you need to be put to sleep, too?”

 

“I think I can manage,” Shouto responds, irked, and turns away, though he can’t help shudder at the thought of Bakugou manhandling him to bed like a particularly disturbing mother figure. Then he feels slightly bad, because this is probably just as weird to Bakugou as it is to him, and Bakugou has been acting uncharacteristically reasonable all evening while Shouto zones out and trips over himself. 

 

He turns; Bakugou’s arms are crossed as he stares at nothing. 

 

“Ah, Bakugou?” 

 

The blonde raises a brow. Shouto cannot believe how quiet he is. “What?”

 

“Where- I presume you have a mattress to sleep on?”

 

Bakugou looks about to snap at him for saying something stupid, then his expression contorts a bit and he clamps down. “No, I, uh. Take the couch.”

 

Shouto looks at the couch, which does not seem built for a grown man to sleep on. He looks at Bakugou. Bakugou glares at him with murderous intent. 

 

“I see. Well. I just- you should have the bed; I’ll take the couch.”

 

“Why would you take the couch in your own damn apartment, icyhot?” Bakugou sniffs, and Shouto feels an odd sort of pang at the nickname, like a little bit of normalcy has returned to his life. 

 

“It’s not really mine,” Shouto says, raises one shoulder. “And it feels wrong making you take the couch after taking advantage of your cooking and your-“ He tries and fails not to sound passive aggressive. “Hospitality.”

 

To his shock, Bakugou stifles a smile, like Shouto has said something incredibly amusing; it comes second after the time travel in terms of things Shouto has never dreamt of experiencing. 

 

“Don’t be fuckin’ dumb.  You look about to pass out, and I’m not gonna risk getting evicted for sweating on the ice princess’ sheets once he comes back.”

 

“If you’re sure,” Shouto says, and feels awkward for the umpteenth time. There is something about conversing with this man that makes him tongue-tied, and he decisively does not enjoy the feeling. “I can buy a mattress tomorrow.”

 

“You won’t have to, seeing as we’ll have sent you home by then,” Bakugou shrugs, and shakes his head. “Just go before you faint, idiot. I’d leave you to sleep on the floor if you did.”

 

Shouto doesn’t quite believe him, but he obeys anyways, instinct to rebel overpowered by his exhaustion and the reluctant admission that Bakugou is right. He hopes this isn’t also a repeat event. He doesn’t think he can cope with the fact Bakugou has grown wise with age.

 

Sleep comes fast and heavy once he’s lying down, bed still as comfortable as it was in the morning. His last coherent thought is how big the bed is for one person to sleep in. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

One of the innumerable things that sets Katsuki aside from his peers is the fact that Mondays are his favourite day of the week. 

 

It’s simple, really. Mondays mean the start of the week, after the mind-numbing boredom that weekends bring. Sure, they technically have free time, but it’s really a question of doing homework and preparing for the week to come, and as Katsuki is always well ahead of his work, weekends are just dull. They don’t have access to the bigger training grounds or to their equipment a lot of the time. At home, he has more to do- working on new skills, skateboarding, drumming, cooking, and so forth. In the dorms there’s less space, and even the kitchen is always busy. 

 

He supposes it’s more tolerable than it once had been. In first year, living in the dorms had been almost excruciating, not least during the aftermath of the kidnapping. He’d found the other students insufferable and a nuisance, hated having to live within the confines of the dorm system, hearing the banal details of every other dumbass and suffering through pointless interactions his every breathing moment. It’s frankly a miracle that his parents hadn’t been charged with some colossal bill for property damage even once- he thinks he deserves far more credit than he’s given for his impeccable self-control, but what else is new?

 

Nowadays, he at least derives some vague entertainment from his classmates, or some of them. Kirishima and co are always needing last minute studying help, which kills time if nothing else, and on rare occasions (maybe not so rare) they even provide decent company. Kirishima’s the ultimate exception, obviously, but that’s different; he’s only got one best friend. 

 

Disgruntled by his saccharine thoughts, Katsuki shakes himself. It’s a Monday morning, class is kicking off, and he might not dislike the weekends so much anymore but the chance to actually do something proactive is filling him with thrumming energy. 

 

Speaking of best friends. 

 

“Hey, Katsuki!” 

 

“Lay off the first names,” Katsuki grunts, though it lacks heat. Kirishima only laughs and bumps their shoulders together. He’s just started doing it recently, but it happened sort of accidentally once or twice and then stuck, and Katsuki’s got no real reason to justify his dislike of it other than the knowledge that the other idiots will follow in Kirishima’s footsteps sooner or later.

 

Whatever. For the moment Kaminari and co are still too justifiably afraid of him blowing their heads off to try it. At least Kirishima doesn’t expect him to return the favour.

 

“I don’t understand how you’re always so awake so early,” Kirishima sighs, as they trudge down the stairs. “I feel like I’m half-dead all the way through the first couple hours.”

 

“Yeah, I can see that you’re just barely awake,” Katsuki retorts, rolling his eyes hard. Kirishima operates at about 110% at all times. “Maybe if you all went to sleep at decent times you wouldn’t bitch about the early mornings.”

 

“This is why Kaminari thinks you’re an old man,” Kirishima snorts, and ducks when Katsuki glares and blasts him. 

 

They settle into their seats; Katsuki kicks his feet up on his desk and closes his eyes as the rest of 1-A filters in, too loud and yappy. Another perk of being an early riser: missing out on group breakfast. 

 

Iida, in his typical attempts to be literally the worst person Katsuki has ever laid eyes upon, which is a high bar, had forced a ‘team bonding breakfast’ on Saturday, the likes of which Katsuki would be more than happy never to experience again. Eating meals as a group isn’t exactly a rarity, but it’s not like he ever enjoys it- they already spend all their damn time living, studying and working together. The only difference with these ‘team activities’ is that Katsuki is forced to remain present longer than he’d like. Besides, most of his classmates still can’t cook for themselves, so meals always end up turning into Katsuki recoiling in horror at all the expired ready-made noodles and energy drinks while trying to fight people off from his own food. The worst offenders aren’t even the most obvious candidates- how Yaoyorozu and Todoroki look like they do with the diets they consume is frankly a mystery for the ages. At least Yayorozu has the smarts to order food in, rich bitch that she is- Todoroki, probably because he’s been cut off from his dad’s credit card or whatever, survives on a mysterious diet of fast food that Katsuki can’t stomach thinking about. 

 

He sighs, put off at the thought, and leans further back in his chair. It’s getting colder out.

 

As per the laws of the universe or whatever the fuck, Katsuki can tell Deku’s approach a mile away, something in the little shuffle hop of his footsteps broadcasting ‘I am a self-important little bastard’. Sometimes he misses the simple days of getting immediately prepared to pummel the shit out of the guy when he comes near. Deku’s yapping away, some inane shit, but it grows louder when they come closer.

 

“I didn’t notice,” Iida is saying, in his best class president voice. “But you don’t think he’s ill? Injured? Emotionally disturbed?”

 

“No, no!” Deku rushes, in the face of Iida’s growing paranoia. “I- I don’t know, he seemed fine. But we were meant to meet for lunch and he never showed. I went to check on him in the afternoon and he- I don’t know how to explain. He just sort of, uh, smiled at me. And- patted my head.”

 

His voice falters near the end; Katsuki frowns. From context cues he assumed they were talking about Todoroki, but the latter end of the sentence is about as in character for Todoroki as it is Katsuki. 

 

He glances at Kirishima to see if he’s been paying attention, and finds him tilting his head at him curiously, raising his brows pointedly when he sees Katsuki is watching. 

 

“Todoroki?” Kirishima mouths, then glances back. “Doesn’t sound like him, huh.”

 

Katsuki shrugs to indicate how much he cares about whatever mental break Todoroki is having. The bell rings, mercifully; Aizawa lumbers in looking like death and collapses into his chair as if he’s an ageing paraplegic instead of a guy in his thirties. 

 

“Morning, sir!” Iida barks. Katsuki wonders sometimes if his spine is directly connected to the rod up his ass.

 

Aizawa only grunts, eyes skimming the room vaguely like he’s perhaps entertaining the thought of proceeding to a role call at some point in time but the effort would be too much at the moment. Sometimes Katsuki sympathises with the guy- he knows the feeling of staring at class 1-A and despairing at the fate of the hero world only too well. The second bell rings shrilly; Katsuki removes his feet from the desk, chair legs landing loudly on the floor as his neighbours jolt. 

 

Todoroki comes through the door a moment later, his entrance coinciding perfectly with the class quieting down so that he enters in almost dramatic silence. He’s late, Katsuki thinks, with vague relish. 

 

“Todoroki,” Aizawa intones, bored-looking. “Joining us at last?”

 

“Sorry,” Todoroki says, and Katsuki sits up a little straighter, frowning. There’s something odd in his face- he doesn’t quite look like himself. “I forgot where the classroom was.”

 

A vague titter crosses the room. Aizawa just stares, which would make many a student flinch, though Todoroki’s so impassive at all times it probably wouldn’t show if he did. He looks particularly unconcerned. 

 

“Fine. Sit down.” 

 

Todoroki goes easily, and Katsuki frowns harder. Fucking weirdo. He can tell without looking that Deku is making big eyes at his neighbour.

 

Class continues normally from there; Katsuki more or less wipes thoughts of Todoroki from his mind, more preoccupied with Aizawa’s increasingly scientifically technical demonstrations and their possible application to his quirk. Once in a while someone interrupts to ask for clarification, Katsuki giving them a dirty look for their incompetence, but the time it takes to answer gives him time to waste, and he casts suspicious glances backwards, despite himself. 

 

Todoroki is looking at him, almost every single time. In itself it’s not too much of a shock- Todoroki is infamous for his unblinking state and utter lack of self-consciousness about it, and since they’re rivals Katsuki’s quite familiar with it. What is weird is the regularity, and the fact Todoroki rests his chin on his palm to contemplate him further. 

 

Katsuki bristles, scowling, but he’s not in the habit of throwing desks quite so much and he’s too interested in this particular lesson to want to get lectured for disrupting it. Instead he merely shows his teeth when he catches Todoroki looking and forces himself not to turn again. 

 

“Dude,” Sero says, leaning to nab his elbow when the bell rings for lunch. “Todoroki?” 

 

“What about him?” Katsuki snaps, though he can’t decide if he’s pissed off that someone saw or relieved that he’s being validated in his concerns. Sero just pulls a face. 

 

Lunch redirects their conversation; there’s only so much speculating that can come from being late to class and looking a little too often in Katsuki’s direction. He gets engaged in some stupid fight about how far the blonde bitchass from 1-B would be able to use someone like Shoji or Mineta’s quirk considering they stem from physical mutations (he personally would love to see Moronma or whatever his name is with Mineta’s freakish head globes), then tries to dissuade Ashido from starting a betting pool on the virginities of the third years. 

 

“Mirio walks around naked half the time, there’s no way he’s not gotten laid yet!”

 

“Yeah, but imagine fucking him- what if he phases through you?” Sero asks, gesticulating. Katsuki crushes that mental image with a steel fist.

 

“Still- you can’t have abs like that and be a virgin.” 

 

“Virginity is a social construct,” Kirishima says, carefully, though he’s blushing a little. “So I don’t think it matters.”

 

“Okay, valid,” Ashido replies, sounding perhaps a little irked that she has to a acknowledge a more serious point than she was trying to make, “But come on! We’ll basically have reached the age of adulthood by the end of next year. We need some hot dorm action, right?”

 

“Yeah,” Sero nods, grin spreading when he looks at Kaminari. “For those of us who will never get laid.”

 

“Excuse me?” Kaminari scoffs, affronted. “I’ve gotten to third base!”

 

“Man, you keep changing the bases so they match up to your story-“

 

“Oh, please,” Ashido laughs, “Pretending that pillow is a mouth-“

 

“Dude, gross,” Kirishima balks, “I’m trying to eat-“

 

“Shouldn’t you have some ladylike discretion, Mina?” Kaminari interjects, ducking when she swats dangerously at him. “Not from, like, a sexist point of view, I mean because you’re always saying we’re uncivilised brutes and you’re so classy-”

 

“Well, you’re always fucking horny, why am I not allowed to be?”

 

“It’s different if you talk about it, though,” Sero says, cautious, “Because you can listen to us talk about it but if we listen to you we sound like perverts, right?”

 

“Guys, I would love if we had this discussion while I wasn’t trying to eat. Any other time.”

 

“Can you all shut the fuck up?” Katsuki snaps, slamming his fists down on the table. They all do, miraculously, as do a table of first years near them. “Your sex lives or lack thereof are quite literally the last fucking thing I want to hear about at any given moment.” 

 

Kirishima sighs in relief and finishes his lunch; the others mumble a bit, before Kaminari redirects his bright gaze, brows twitching carefully as he looks at Katsuki. 

 

“Bakugou- you’re a virgin, right?”

 

“Oh my god,” Sero says. 

 

Katsuki inhales one long breath, puts his elbows on the table, and leans in close enough that he can make Kaminari’s freckles out. 

 

“Continue this conversation and I will stick this fork up your ass so deep the question of your virginity never arises again.”

 

Kirishima bursts into stifled laughter. Kaminari only looks sort of queasy. Katsuki hopes he hasn’t given him any ideas.

 

They head to the training grounds after lunch, which Katsuki is quite literally crackling with energy for, arms swinging with gusto as they amble down the path. It’s not a particularly thrilling session, but it’s an intensive one, which means a lot of moaning from his classmates and  a nice little ego boost for him. There’s something intensely satisfying about knowing that what drives his peers to tears is basically the equivalent of his powers in primary school. 

 

He recalls their first year training sometimes, when he’s feeling indulgent towards the incompetent clowns he calls classmates, recalls that first harsh session before the forest incidents, the melodrama ensuing from them being pushed ‘to their limits’. They’re still the same now with the whining, but their limits have increased more than he thinks they know. 

 

They change rapidly, chasing 1-B out as they stake claim to the grounds. As always, laying eyes on their rival class is accompanied with unnecessary conversation and a lot of traded barbs. Little blonde bitch gives Katsuki that nasty smirk of his, and Katsuki blanks him, knowing being ignored will rile him up far more than snapping back will. For all that the two classes have grown closer with time, 1-B has never gotten off Katsuki’s ass, probably because their inferiority complex rightly recognises him as about a hundred times better than them in every conceivable way. Not that 1-A is much better, mind you, but they at least have maybe a handful of people Katsuki considers worth his while. 

 

He wonders absently if mid-life crisis Barbie’s shitty stealing quirk would work on Todoroki. He’s only able to take one quirk at a time, and Todoroki for all intents and purposes has two defined quirks (which is complete bullshit, just for the record). It’d be pretty entertaining if he just ended up with one. Maybe Todoroki’s hair would turn uniform. 

 

“Penny for your thoughts?” Kaminari asks, hopping around on one foot until Katsuki impatiently grabs his shoulder to hold him upright. 

 

“Just thinking about how shit 1-B are and forever will be,” Katsuki says, maybe louder than necessary, maybe so that Monocle will hear. Kaminari grins. 

 

“Amen to that.”

 

All Might is leading the session, and he spares a warm smile for Katsuki when he brushes by him, hand firm on his shoulder. Katsuki glowers at a corner of the dome in response. 

 

“Watching you with All Might you’d think he was, like, Satan, instead of the guy whose onesie you wore for at least five years,” Camie had said, once, in one of those awkward meet-ups they’ve been having as a foursome sort of by accident but also sort of intentionally over the past year. He doesn’t fucking know how his life has taken him places where he sometimes sits in those embarrassing little kawaii kitty cafés crammed in next to Todoroki while a girl with the attitude of a TV reality star gleefully puts pictures of them on Instagram. 

 

When he makes it to Number One, he’ll need to convince her to make that damn account private. It’s already far too popular- the numbers on her posts are too big to be explained solely by Kaminari’s multiple fake accounts. 

 

Anyways, Katsuki’s not about to explain that just because All Might was maybe sort of possibly his icon for all of his childhood years doesn’t mean he’s going to fall over himself crying tears of joy whenever he’s nice to him, considering he’s a mature fucking person and All Might’s literal schtick is being nice to everyone. So maybe All Might kind of singles him out, based on the complaints of Kaminari, but that means nothing- All Might’s also taken Deku of all people on as his shitty protégé, so he clearly has issues with taste. Whatever, Katsuki doesn’t need his approval. He’s definitely never cried because he got his undeserved forgiveness for fucking up his life. 

 

Unlike Aizawa, All Might isn’t particularly keen on the whole ‘push until you cry’ aspect of their training, but he’s tough nonetheless, by objective standards. Thankfully, objectivity has never been relevant to Katsuki’s life, and he spends most of the lesson alone, untouched by the criticisms and advice most of the class requires. All Might passes by once to comment on how good his control is, and then has to run off to make sure Yaoyorozu doesn’t rightfully incinerate Mineta for sticking around when she has to open her suit up. 

 

There’s something real creepy about the fact their adult teachers have never felt there to be some ethical concerns about two of their teen students running around either mostly or completely naked for their hero work. Not that it’s Katsuki’s business, but if Mineta accidentally runs into Hagakure one more time, he might just end up as roasted grapes. 

 

He throws himself easily into the air, hair whipping around his face, and drags an explosion after him to bolster his ascent. There’s this move he’s began to come up with, spurred on by his increased awareness of the technical workings of his quirk, but he can’t quite concretise yet; it’s directing the impact of the explosion in such a way that it’s able to travel in more precise directions. His explosions are essentially chemical, but there’s a range of chemical explosions, and their impact varies wildly- tailoring might give him more manoeuvring powers. He flips over, volleying back to earth.

 

Not that he needs the precise control, really. Versatility is a strong suit of his. But he likes having a range of reliable attacks, and he likes expanding it. No point being complacent, even if the bar is on the floor at UA. He shoots a look back, finds Kirishima determinedly solid as Kaminari’s lightning crackles off him, spinning out of control so that Katsuki has to whip around to avoid getting electrocuted.

 

He guesses he’s lucky, in that he has no downsides whatsoever to his quirk. Kaminari blows his own mind if he uses too much, Uraraka and Ayoyami get nausea, Mineta has to lob off parts of himself, Deku breaks all his bones- and even those whose quirks don’t have serious limitations usually have some kind of side-effect that they don’t like. Hagakure, Shoji and co are permanently stuck in their weird forms, and most of the class has at least some vague physical deformity to match their quirk. Katsuki’s quirk leaves no trace on him, comes at will, and does nothing to him. He guesses maybe he sweats more than the average person, but his sweat is nitroglycerine, c’mon. That’s just dope. 

 

In terms of the genetic lotto, he will acknowledge being a lucky bastard, then. Especially considering his parents have fucking lame quirks. His dad has acidic sweat, sure, but it’s pretty minor, and not automatic like Katsuki’s, and his mother has probably the stupidest quirk known to mankind, because all it does it make her skin moisturised. Good fucking thing they ended up together, so that their offspring would profit from their well-synergised mutations. Endeavour and his eugenics schtick probably ate shit when he realised some random nobodies had outclassed his own attempts at creating the perfect quirk. 

 

A neat series of Stun Grenades later, he uses a Blast Rush Turbo to blow off some steam, the impact blowing him a ways off from his original practicing spot. He lands quite efficiently, exhaling breathlessly more from exhilaration than exhaustion as the sand parts by his feet. 

 

Straightening and clearing the dust gives him his first moment of reprieve, focus not on his own endeavours but on those of his classmates for a minute. The noise is the loudest, as always, shouts, crackling, a great booming commotion. Then comes the visual overload, flashes and movement and general upheaval. Katsuki turns away. 

 

The noise had been better than the silence, in the aftermath of the kidnapping. Even now, he has days where everything is so quiet he can feel poisonous fear seep into his bones, paralysed with the memory of All For One, feeling like the beating of his own heart is failing against the numbing advance of death. He manages to shake it off, most of the time.

 

Todoroki is not by his usual group, he notes, then stares, focusing. Todoroki is not by his group, and there are flames dancing lightly over him, side to side, like a pet cat might climb across its owners’ shoulders. 

 

He’s seen Todoroki use fire before. Far more this year than prior. But he’s still not as comfortable with it, not like he is with his ice, which he uses like an extension of himself, like it’s automatic, like Katsuki uses his own quirk. When Katsuki is annoyed, his fingers spark; when Todoroki is, ice spreads over his. 

 

Watching Todoroki you’d think fire was his sole quirk. The flame crawls off him, growing in size with a calm ease until it about reaches the height of the ice wall he sometimes makes. 

 

His face, when Katsuki squints to make it out, is not quite as serene as his movements let on, tension in the set of his jaw and his eyes vaguely troubled. His expression, though, is vague, almost faraway. 

 

Katsuki, very much despite himself, considers walking up to him and demanding answers. 

 

There is no fucking way Todoroki has gained control of his quirk literally overnight. Between his attitude and the fire, something is disturbingly askance, and Katsuki half wants to shout at him and half wants to shake him until he ‘fesses up. 

 

It’s not like he even needs to fight the guy into it. Not that he and Todoroki get along, or anything, but he guesses they’re slightly less at each other’s throats than they were, mostly due to their forced interactions during remedial training and sort of accidental truce during. It’s not like Katsuki did it on purpose, and he’s pretty sure Todoroki didn’t either. Tolerating each other kind of stuck, like once it had happened there wasn’t any clear reason not to continue. 

 

Todoroki and possibly maybe Deku are his biggest rivals in 1-A, probably in UA, if Katsuki’s honest, once they get their asses in gear properly, moreso than than the third years, because their quirks have (dare he think it) potential. No surprise on Deku’s side, seeing as he fucking took his from someone else like the parasite he is, but Todoroki’s is home grown. It makes sense, thus, that they kind of talk now, even if it’s mostly to trade barbs or make weird small talk about their quirks. And it means Katsuki is perfectly entitled to march up to him and politely ask where the hell he learnt how to use his quirk well all of a sudden. 

 

All Might calls an end to the session, and Todoroki vanishes into the locker room before Katsuki can make up his mind, so it’s Deku he catches instead, tripping him up when he passes so he has to stumble and wait.

 

To his credit, Deku barely windmills before he straightens. “Kacchan?”

 

“Todoroki,” Katsuki says, and watches Deku’s expression switch rapidly into a sort of relieved but stressed understanding. He strongly resents the fact he sort of appreciates the sentiment. 

 

“You saw that too?” 

 

“I have eyes,” Katsuki scoffs. 

 

Deku shakes his head frantically, the cogs in his brain almost audibly whirring away. “I don’t know what’s going on. He was acting a bit weird yesterday, but I thought it might just be an odd mood- but the flames? His attitude towards his quirk flipped overnight- it doesn’t make sense.”

 

“You don’t know why?” Katsuki asks, unimpressed. “I thought you two were fucking- bosom buddies.”

 

Deku flushes, which makes Katsuki suspect and then fervently dislike the idea of there being more to it than that. “I- I don’t know, no. He’s allowed to act differently, of course, and I’m glad he’s doing well with his quirk, but it’s almost like- he didn’t even know his own locker combination.”

 

Katsuki frowns hard. “Maybe he’s lost it.”

 

“I don’t think so,” Deku says, but he sounds worried. Katsuki’s not in the mood for anguish if there’s no further information to be had, so he grunts in annoyance and shoulders his way past him into the changing rooms, half-formed plan to confront Todoroki now well and fully engaged.

 

If he learns Todoroki’s secretly swallowed one of his dad’s hairs and gotten some weird fire boost, he’s going to lose it. Is there no goddamn integrity left in the world? 

 

He sticks to the showers for longer than necessary, not wanting to be stuck leaving the lockers with Deku as lone companion now that they’ve dawdled. One of his greatest indulgences is a cold shower. Being warm and sweaty is his norm, so it doesn’t bother him, but intensive training makes it sort of noticeable in a way he doesn’t appreciate; the cooling down is appreciated.

 

He’s only just gotten out of the showers when Todoroki seems to appear out of goddamn nowehere, only missing catching him off-guard because Katsuki’s developed a sixth sense for people sneaking up on him. His heart rate spikes wildly in the half-second it takes him to recognise Todoroki, then he’s pissed at the fact the asshole almost had him freaking out for nothing. 

 

“Don’t touch me, jackass!”

 

“Sorry,” Todoroki says, a little too thoughtful, but he steps back, Katsuki pulling his shirt on with an aggrieved look. “How are you?”

 

It’s almost enough to make him pause as he does his buttons.

 

“Hah?” 

 

“You looked like you were making good progress,” Todoroki offers, almost a twinkle in his eye; Katsuki does pause now, taken aback. “With your quirk, I mean.”

 

“That’s not new, asshole- why are you watching?” 

 

“Don’t be so incessantly suspicious,” Todoroki snorts, the most emotion Katsuki’s heard from him in a solid month. “Even your mother’s genes won’t save you from frown lines, you know.”

 

“Okay, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Katsuki demands, rearing back for a fight as his hands spark. He feels like he’s being backed into a corner without a clear target in sight; his fingers are twitchy. Outside of the arena, he’s usually reduced to scrutinising the little spasms of Todoroki’s face and the changing light in his eyes to figure out what angle he’s coming from. It feels wrong having more than that to work with.

 

“Hard to explain,” Todoroki says, and shakes his head, raising his palms in defence. “Didn’t mean to put you on edge. I’ll take my leave if you like.”

 

“Stop deflecting!” Katsuki snaps back, managing to be angry more than bewildered only because he’s got a sore spot about Todoroki placating him. “You’re seriously weird today, what the hell is going on?”

 

Todoroki horrifyingly looks like he might smile. “Nothing you need to worry about.”

 

“I’m not worried!”

 

“Good to know.”

 

Chatter reaches their ears before Katsuki can fling Todoroki bodily to the ground- class 1-C making their way over to the locker room. Katsuki hastily grabs his bag and slings his tie loosely over his shoulders, meaning to get back to drilling his classmate, but said classmate stops his advance with a finger to his chest, then uses Katsuki’s momentary incredulity to loop his tie up for him with surprising grace. 

 

“There. Presentable.”

 

“I’m going to kill you,” Katsuki warns, so disturbed he almost misses sounding furious. Todoroki definitely smiles, a little quirk of the lips, but he inclines his head.

 

“Yes, most likely. I’ll see you after class, all right?”

 

“Who- hey, what the hell?” Katsuki calls after him, but he won’t chase Shouto Todoroki all the way into their classroom, not for the life of him, so he cusses under his breath and slowly walks after him, trying to make sense of their exchange and failing. 

 

He feels somewhat like he should just punch a hole through Todoroki’s desk, and somewhat like he should punch Todoroki in the gut instead until he confesses to whatever he’s hiding. 

 

He also feels kind of like he’s on a hidden camera. And like he could explode the school with the amount of sweat in his palms. 

 

The last hours of class feel like a whole-ass month. Katsuki feels like he’s in the Matrix and all of his classmates are still happily oblivious to the fact they’ve crossed into an alternative reality. Sitting with Todoroki somewhere behind him and refusing to look back is as bad as having a rabid dog about to jump him and not being able to turn around, except instead of knowing he could sock the dog in the jaw to take it out he has no such certainty with his classmate. 

 

He’s tempted to grab Kirishima’s head and turn it forcefully backwards, maybe hiss hysterically into his ear until he realises that Katsuki’s day has gone from perfectly fine to nightmarish, and Todoroki has possibly gone insane. Unfortunately, that would make him feel an unacceptable level of kinship with Camie, and he’s not prepared to accept he’s sunken to such levels yet. 

 

Disturbingly, he almost entertains the thought that Utsushimi would know what to make of this ordeal. It’s a thought he regrets ever allowing to cross his mind. 

 

English class trudges on at a snail’s pace, Present Mic’s enthusiastic exclamations about the fascinating inner workings of the English conjugation system unable to quash the increasing sizzling from Katsuki’s palms. He gets called on once or twice, probably Mic’s attempts to distract him before he burns his desk, but being a natural born genius has its perks, one of which being the fact he just kind of blinks at the board and spits out the right verbal class or whatever. (Also, he studied. Come on.) 

 

Mathematics manages to slightly focus his attentions, just because Ectoplasm’s monotone ranting at least has something to do with the scientific background to quirks that Katsuki is looking into. It doesn’t help much, thought, because he begins thinking about Todoroki’s quirk again, and then he gets angry about that, so he ends up furiously writing equations like some kind of manic nerd. 

 

Sometimes he thinks the subject selection at UA is kind of shit. Like, sure, maths is useful for understanding quirks and their equipment, likewise for science, and he can see how English will be of use to him specifically once he makes it internationally, but as for the rest… The fuck is modern art hero history going to do for him in the future? Why does anyone think modern literature is relevant to the development of the next generation of heroes? Maybe it’s meant to inspire their future heroic speeches or TV spots, but Katsuki is perfectly fucking eloquent as is. He wishes there was more hands-on work with Power Loader, or that those students who obviously didn’t need to cover the basics of an education could at least advance to some special Heroics class with All Might. 

 

“Don’t you think it’s crazy how many pros we have as teachers at UA?” Kirishima asks, between classes, resting his chin on his fist pensively. “Like, obviously we have All Might, which is insane in itself, but then also Aizawa, Cementoss, Midnight, Snipe…”

 

“Well, they’re qualified for the job, ain’t they?” Katsuki retorts, raising a brow. “Who’d you think we’d have instead?”

 

Kirishima shakes his head. “Nah, I meant more like- they’re pro heroes and they’re teachers at one of the best schools in the country. That’s super intense. I can’t imagine being a teacher but also being expected to drop everything and fight whenever I’m needed.”

 

“They’re not on high call demand, though,” Katsuki points out, albeit dubiously, considering Midnight. “The hero agencies are the ones people rely on.” 

 

“Yeah, but look at all the shit that’s gone down since we started here,” Kirishima says, waving a hand feelingly. “I swear the teachers here have spent almost as much time fighting as they have teaching!”

 

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Katsuki snorts, though he takes the point. “I’d never be a teacher.”

 

“Hah? Why not?” Kirishima grins broadly. “I think it’d be cool. Not immediately, of course! I wanna just be pro for a while. But when I’m a little older- don’t you wanna see the future generation of hero be trained properly?”

 

“Tch, like I’d enjoy having to babysit a bunch of untalented idiots and know the world was doomed,” Katsuki responds, leaning back in his chair. “Most of our class won’t even make it into the top 100 heroes, so what would they teach some brats?” 

 

“So harsh,” Kirishima sighs, before perking up. “Wait, what am I saying? You’ve already sort of been a teacher, right? During your remedial training!”

 

“Not the same thing,” Katsuki grunts, glowering. “And it proves my point, anyways, those hell-spawn will never make it.”

 

“Didn’t you end up doing well with them, though?”

 

“Shut the fuck up, Kirishima.”

 

When the final bell rings, Katsuki wants to jump for joy and blast out of the room, but he's not lost his mind just yet, so he stays put as nonchalantly as possible and trudges out at a normal, reasonable rate. So what if he catches Todoroki's eye and the latter's expression brightens ominously? Katsuki's not even paying attention. 

 

He heads to the dorms as though there is absolutely nothing on his mind, dropping his bag off in his room before rejoining the common room and fixing himself a glass of water, like he does every day of the week. He thinks he makes an excellent actor, considering everyone seems to buy it. Maybe one or two people throw him nervous glances, but he can hardly be blamed for sparking urgently every couple of minutes. It's also not like it's unusual for him to sit glaring daggers at everyone, so he doesn't take it as a sign of his unconvincing posturing when people begin inching away in alarm. 

 

Deku is looking at him like he'll explode if he doesn't know what's happening within the next minute. Katsuki flips him off feelingly. Deku whips out his little diary and starts frantically scribbling away.

 

Todoroki, incidentally, is nowhere in sight. 

 

He's on the verge of just storming off and kicking his door in when Todoroki finally appears, Deku and co sitting up to catch his eye when he seems not to notice them. Katsuki watches him nod absently at them and cast a look around before he lands on him, then scowls when Todoroki very noticeably pushes his way through Katsuki's useless friends where they lie playing Mario Kart and seats himself next to him. 

 

"Got lost again?" Katsuki snaps, all too aware that they are being watched by every person in the room and feeling his earlier disorientation threaten to creep up again. Todoroki inclines his head.

 

"Yes, actually." He seems to sense Katsuki's about to express how fucking likely that is, shakes his head. "I've got a bad sense of direction, or so I've been told."

 

"You've lived in this dorm for a year," Katsuki says, very unconvinced. "Concussed yourself lately, icyhot?"

 

Todoroki bites down a smile, and Katsuki momentarily has a fucking aneurysm or something, because he can physically feel his face go lax and his throat dry up. "No, but I have had a rather abnormal weekend. Am I really behaving so weirdly?"

 

Katsuki has to try twice to speak, but he manages it on the third go, loud and annoyed. "Whaddya think, asshole? You're the one who keeps cornering me out of nowhere! It's not like we have shit to talk about!"

 

"Oh, yes," Todoroki sighs, not looking all that torn up about it. "Well, I'm afraid I can't help that so much. Am I faring all right elsewhere?"

 

God, he really has lost it, Katsuki thinks, half-impressed. "Let me think- you forgot your classroom, your locker  combination, and your dorm location within the span of a day, freaked out your loser friends, and you look like a- like some bizarro world version of yourself- yeah, doing fucking peachy." 

 

"Fuck," Todoroki blinks, which is an entirely novel brand of disturbing. "I didn't think they'd notice." Before Katsuki can fully have a go at him, he turns to contemplate Deku, who jumps guiltily at having been caught staring. Todoroki turns back.

 

"I take your point." 

 

It's depressing that the one time in Katsuki's life where Shouto Todoroki is acknowledging that he is correct can't even be savoured properly because Katsuki is too busy trying to decide how he is going to kill him, and maybe also somewhat worried that Todoroki has in fact gone clinically insane, depriving him of a rival. 

 

"Listen, you insufferable freak," Katsuki hisses, wanting Todoroki's face to return to normal levels of impassive disdain, "I don't know what the fuck is wrong with you, but if you don't spit it out I'm going to kick your ass into the ground, weird new quirk control or not. If you're gonna waste my time anyways I might as well get something out of it."

 

"Oh, was that how you noticed?" Todoroki asks, sounding almost pleased. "I didn't know if you would."

 

"What, I wouldn't notice the fucking wall of flames that you've never been able to do before?" Katsuki snaps, unable to resist the sarcasm dripping off his words. "Yeah, I'm fucking blind- of course I noticed!"

 

"Well, what did you think?"

 

"Are you fucking serious right now? I said spit it out or square up!" 

 

Todoroki relents, looking vaguely regretful. "I know, I know, sorry. It's just-"

 

He has a weird expression, and Katsuki growls, hands flaring up. "I swear to fuck, Todoroki-"

 

"I don't think I can tell you," Todoroki says, almost sympathetic, like a teacher talking down to him, only missing the patronising tone Katsuki so hates, and it makes the back of his neck flush with uncertainty as to how exactly he's supposed to react to it. Todoroki's eyes are intent on his, missing the usual veneer of aloofness that makes his staring impersonal. "You're right that something has happened. I don't think telling anyone presently is a good idea, however. Even you." 

 

"You can't just refuse to tell me," Katsuki snaps, tamer than it might've been because his mind is stuck on the even you. "Probably a danger to all of us in this state." 

 

"I am not," Todoroki affirms. "And I'll make an effort not to- ah, disturb you any further."

 

Katsuki struggles to find a response, because he's profoundly unused to Todoroki being so faux-reasonable and accommodating to Katsuki's entirely justifiable complaints, but he still doesn't feel like letting him just fuck off without explaining what the hell is going on. 

 

"You have to tell me why your quirk changed." 

 

Todoroki huffs out a breath, flexes his fingers consideringly. "I guess I conquered my relevant psychological issues."

 

"Overnight?" Katsuki snarks, sardonic. "So if we get into it at the tournament this year I can expect you not to pussy out like a little bitch?" 

 

He doesn't still hold a grudge over that. It's been a year. Like he cares if Deku is worth Todoroki's full attention and Katsuki isn't. Most definitely has not made him burn through several punching-bags out of sheer frustration. 

 

"You can expect that, yes," Todoroki says, and then suddenly goes pale, free hand clenching the sofa hard. Katsuki wants to know what bullshit he's pulling now, but he sort of looks like he's about to pass out, and he's unwilling to catch the blame for it. 

 

"The fuck's going on now?"

 

Todoroki curses, soft, goes to stand and sways a little. Katsuki almost raises to shove him upright, but he steadies himself before he can make than embarrassing move, brows furrowing slightly. 

 

"I should- I need some rest."

 

"Thought you weren't sick," Katsuki says, skeptical. Todoroki looks at him thoughtfully, faint beads of sweat rolling down his neck.

 

"So did I."

 

He stumbles a bit further away before he manages to regain his posture, and then his walk is brisk. Katsuki watches in silence, about to yell after him that he's heading in the wrong direction before Todoroki seems to realise this by himself, pivoting a bit unnecessarily to leave the room. 

 

He guesses he could have stopped him and pressed harder, but he's good at trusting his gut feeling, and instinct says Todoroki's feeling worse than he looks. Katsuki's not going to hold off him out of sympathy for his poor sickly self, but if Todoroki's just in some kind of feverish stupor, it might explain his bizarre attitude somewhat. Checking in the morning will tell him if that's true, and if not Todoroki might be more forthcoming when he's not about to keel over. 

 

"What was that about?" Kirishima mumbles, trying for discretion even though half the room is turned towards them. His eyes are big, curious. 

 

"Who fucking knows," Katsuki mutters, before focusing his glare. "None of your business, anyways."

 

"Is he okay, though?" Kirishima asks, eyes flitting away to where Todoroki last vanished. 

 

"Your guess is as good as mine," Katsuki answers. The knowledge that this is true is admittedly somewhat worrying. 

 

He goes to bed early, too thrown off to focus on much else. If Todoroki's not ill, maybe he's having some kind of mental break, or he's been hit by a rogue quirk. Wouldn't be surprising if one of the 1-B people finally cracked and tried to attack the competition. There's just something profoundly unsettling about him that Katsuki cannot put words to- more than the fire, more than the chattiness, some kind of amalgamation of all these little things that ends up creating a Todoroki he barely feels he knows. 

 

He's particularly disturbed by the way Todoroki is handling him, of all people. If he was going through any of Katsuki's hypotheses, you'd think he'd keep it to himself or go inform his precious little pals, who are all well and truly concerned for him anyways. Quirk, fever or whatever else, there's no reason for his attitude towards Katsuki to change, which it definitely has. It's not just the seeking out- Katsuki's the most competent person in the class, it might just have been a strategic move- but the way he'd talked, some consistent emotion loosening his tongue and relaxing his stiff hold on his features.

 

It's a sort of ease, Katsuki realises. Like he's comfortable around him. 

 

He, on the other hand, is horrendously ill at ease all evening, and goes to sleep swearing bloody murder. If Todoroki thinks he can just waltz into the week acting like a dick without Katsuki doing something about it, he's sorely mistaken. 

 

His dreams are vague and disconnected, flashes of imagined combat and distorted memories of various real fights, snippets of conversation and tendrils of red smoke. He's always fighting, though sometimes it's more like fighting to breathe than any heroic action scene. Todoroki permeates them, of course, sometimes frustratingly half-there and sometimes an immovable solid presence Katsuki can barely shift. 

 

The dreams share this one similarity, though: in each one, just when he's got Todoroki pinned and powerless, he smiles, and Katsuki drops him.  

 

 

Chapter Text

The bed is still as comfortable the second time around. It gives him less of a minor heart attack to see the room, though.

 

Shouto sits up, exhales deeply, and rubs his eyes. Not a dream, then. He’s not sure if it’s better or worse that the Bakugou of the previous day wasn’t the product of his subconscious. Probably better. 

 

He yawns under his breath and scoots out of the bed. In the sharp morning light, no longer feeling like he’s about to keel over at the dining table, the previous night is coming back to him in clear focus, and he’s beginning to wonder how he lived through the night without having some kind of severe mental break. 

 

Surely Bakugou wasn’t really so calm and reasonable about all of this nonsense. Surely he didn’t cook them dinner out of the niceness of his heart and take the shitty cramped couch so Shouto could sleep well. 

 

The couch. Shouto looks back at the bed. It’s not that he feels like he’s got a better alternative, but he just cannot believe Bakugou, who goes to sleep at like eight thirty every night and takes care of himself at the same level as some kind of health-nut soccer mom, would ever willingly sleep on a couch barely built for an adult man for days on end without complaint. 

 

Bakugou must have lied, but what about, and what for? If he hadn’t found his own things in the drawer and the cupboard he would have thought he was in Bakugou’s apartment instead. Shit, maybe he is- maybe the truth is that Todoroki is the one crashing at his and taking the couch, and his things are just stored away because… No, that doesn’t cut it either, not unless Bakugou’s literally had a full personality change. 

 

He thinks back to Bakugou coming into the apartment before Shouto started having a brain-dead moment, complaining about groceries and addressing him like it was a well-established habit for him to start complaining mildly once he set foot through the door, knowing Shouto would be in there listening. 

 

Something in his stomach twists into knots. 

 

He walks into the sitting room once he’s changed, feeling like confronting Bakugou in pyjamas would be a step too far. As it is, he finds him awake and changed, which raises the question of where Bakugou keeps his clothes and why he has the nagging suspicion that he took them from the wardrobe in the bedroom. Bakugou’s dressed less casually than he’d been the previous day, tight black jeans and tank top reminiscent of his high school hero gear. 

 

“Hey,” Shouto says, flexing his hands in a way he would deny betrays his nerves. 

 

“Hey,” Bakugou responds, leaning against the counter. Shouto tries very hard not to let his eyes drop to his thighs, where the fabric is most strained. 

 

“Did you sleep okay?” Shouto asks, and wants to hit himself for coming to a place in his life where he makes terrible small talk with the guy who once screamed at him for daring to walk a pace in front of him on the way to their shitty remedial training. 

 

Bakugou just scoffs. “Breakfast?” 

 

Shouto’s eyes may water a little. His future self has it so good. “Yes. Please. Do you need any help?”

 

“Not from you,” Bakugou retorts, but he’s mocking more than mean, and it makes Shouto feel seen through the adult body, sixteen and out of place. “Just sit down.”

 

He sits. Bakugou cooks like it’s second nature, hands flying over the chopping board and tilting careful drops of this and that into the mixture in a way that makes Shouto about as stressed as he would be watching a very intense battle. 

 

“I don’t have the time for something complicated,” Bakugou says, by matter of explanation, setting down steaming rice bowls and miso soup with a small scowl like they don’t look like something out of a cooking magazine. 

 

“This is fine,” Shouto breathes, clearing his throat. “This is- good.” 

 

Bakugou snorts. “I’ll bet. What was your last meal, an expired packet of kaki no tane?”

 

“No,” Shouto says, feeling unfairly put on the spot but unwilling to offend the man providing him with the food of the gods. “But this is much better.”

He risks a glance at him. “You don’t let me eat your food in my time.”

 

“Well,” Bakugou says, and grins. “That’s cause you wouldn’t appreciate it properly if I did.” 

 

“I would,” Shouto disagrees, feelingly. Bakugou’s grin only grows wider; Shouto sort of wants to go on the defensive against that more than the accusation. “Stop d- I would. I never eat cooked goods normally.”

 

Bakugou raises a shoulder. “Like you would tell me that in high school.” 

 

Shouto reddens and doesn’t know why. 

 

“I’ve been thinking we should probably not go to work today,” Bakugou says, more plainly, which sounds like he’s pulling teeth. “You obviously can’t go, and it doesn’t make sense for me to fuck off and ditch you before we figure out how to fix this shit.”

 

Shouto had somehow completely forgotten that they had jobs, but the realisation immediately highlights just how surreal it is that Katsuki Bakugou is willing to sacrifice a day of his undoubtedly perfect work ethic for his sake. 

 

“I could go,” he says. “To work.”

 

Bakugou glares. “You’re like twelve. How are you going to spend the day as a pro hero?”

 

“I’m sixteen,” Shouto says. “And I’m not suggesting I lead a team into the fray. But I can probably manage a day at the office or a minor rescue.” 

 

Bakugou stares at him with the intensity of a person who expects everyone around him to match him in dedication at every given moment, which Shouto supposes is about par of the course for him. “It’s not just about you at this level, you know.”

 

Shouto frowns. “I realise. But you’re not incapacitated in any way, so it doesn’t make sense keeping you out of the job. I could always say I’m under the weather and not fit for active duty.”

 

“You would never admit that,” Bakugou retorts, but he looks more considering. “You’re on a long-term job right now, anyways. I guess if you just sit around fucking about all day you won’t do too much damage.”

 

“Long-term?” Shouto asks, intrigued again as the topic of his future profession arises. “What sort of job is that?”

 

Bakugou clicks his tongue. “There’s a sort of syndicate on the rise in West Tokyo. You’re working on the investigative side for the moment. They’re sneaky assholes.” 

 

“Doesn’t the police do that kind of work?”

 

“They back us up,” Bakugou concedes. “But there are some jobs too dangerous or too discrete for the force to take on, and besides who trusts cops to do a good job?” 

 

“True,” Shouto allows, profoundly curious. “You work for the same agency as I do, right?” 

 

“Yeah,” Bakugou says, swiping his bowl before Shouto can start licking the remnants. “Thankfully not next door to each other. We do work on the same cases pretty often, though.”

 

“How often is the day just derailed by villain shenanigans?” 

 

“Too fucking often,” Bakugou snorts. “Most of them are pathetic, though, so it’s not on us to sort them out.”

 

Shouto can imagine that, him and Bakugou called in only for emergencies, and it makes him feel a strange sense of misplaced pride. “When do you- we- get called in, then?”

 

Bakugou smirks. “When shit is actually going down.”

 

Shouto is aware that he has a distracting tendency for wistfulness, but there’s no fighting the impulsive longing he feels for this life that is not quite his wherein he and Bakugou of all people get called in when shit goes down. 

 

“Have we been working there for a while?”

 

“Yeah,” Bakugou says. “Not so long, though. And don’t ask too many questions, I don’t want you somehow fucking up the future because you know too much about it.”

 

Shouto hadn’t considered that. “Why’d you go for Tokyo? Are there a lot of class 1-A here?”

 

“Not that many,” Bakugou answers, scrunching his nose. “And it was the obvious choice. Wasn’t gonna settle for being the big fish in the small pond.”

 

“Midoriya is abroad?” Shouto inquires, tentative. Bakugou actually fixes him with a look, but it’s more startled than furious. 

 

“Fuck, it’s weird hearing you call him that. Yeah, he’s in the US with All Might for a year. I mean, he’s here right now, for like three weeks or whatever.” He rolls his eyes. “Here I thought I was rid of him.”

 

Shouto doesn’t feel like he can quite stomach how transparently, begrudgingly fond that sounds by contrast to his Bakugou, so he lets it slide. “That’s unbelievable.”

 

“God, just don’t talk to him about it. He spends his days spamming people with enough crappy tourist pictures as it is.” 

 

“Who else do I know at the agency?” 

 

Bakugou hums, tilts his head back. “Hm. ’S a big one. Yaoyorozu. Hawks, as of right now, if that’s familiar. Oh, Mirio and Amajiki.” He cracks his knuckles. “Right, and Utsushimi works at the Musutafu branch. And that dumbass Yoarashi too, technically, on loan from where he works in Osaka.”

 

It’s a lot of familiar names, and somehow a lot less of their classmates than he’d expected. He imagines trying to collaborate with either Camie Utsushimi or Inasa Yoarashi on the daily, and shivers a little. 

 

“Don’t think about it too much,” Bakugou says, like he can read minds, which Shouto profoundly hopes he can’t, because every moment that he’s not thinking about something particular, he’s gawking at Bakugou. “Fuck, have you even met those two yet? ”

 

“Yeah, at the remedial training course,” Shouto says. “And we- see each other sometimes.”

 

“Fuck, you are so- small,” Bakugou sighs, almost annoyed, which makes Shouto bristle but also blush. “It’s fucking bizarre to look at you and hear a kid talk back to me.”

 

“I’m not a-“ Shouto pauses. “Can I come in to work, then?”

 

“I love that you ask me for permission,” Bakugou snickers, abruptly smug. “Yeah, fuck, whatever. We gotta get going, then, so you ought to get your hero gear.” 

 

He ends up directing Shouto as he rifles through the closet, packing his various equipments efficiently into a bag and bullying him into a coat despite the fact it’s only October and Shouto can regulate his body heat. He feels sort of like he suddenly has a functioning parental figure. 

 

They do take public transport, Bakugou with a face mask pulled high over his face and Shouto with a hat shoved on. They get stares anyways, but Bakugou exudes a sort of warning energy that keeps the gawkers at bay, so Shouto manages to control his sudden temptation to inform Bakugou that there is no way he won’t get stares when he looks like that, even with half his face covered. 

 

“Do people ever crowd you on here?”

 

“No,” Bakugou enunciates flatly, like the question is stupid. “If they’ve seen me on TV, they’ve also seen me blow someone’s face off.”

 

“Even the crazy fans?”

 

“I like my personal space,” Bakugou sniffs. “You’re trouble, though. People forget they’ve seen you fuck shit up when they see that face.”

 

He says it meanly, but Shouto bites his lip on instinct, unable to control the way his face flares red. He has a horrible feeling Bakugou caught that.

 

The office is just as statuesque on second approach, though it’s easier to navigate with Bakugou storming in like he owns the place, nodding at the receptionist, and almost manhandling him into the elevator. Shouto feels somehow more stressed as the floors run by, though. The office is teeming with activity, people who know his face and expect things of him he can’t give them. 

 

He considers asking Bakugou for some last minute advice, but it sticks in his throat. The doors open. 

 

Various voices call out in greeting as they walk in; Bakugou tilts his chin up in absent greeting, and Shouto awkwardly nods, overwhelmed by the number of strangers and feeling himself pull out of the situation. Bakugou strides comfortably down the hall, pulls to a stop a little ways from Shouto’s door and raises a brow.

 

“Gonna follow me in here too?”

 

Shouto stiffens. “I didn’t know if I was still meant to.”

 

“I’m fucking with you,” Bakugou says as the door opens, before frowning in recognition at someone over Shouto’s shoulder. “Oh, hey.”

 

“Good morning, Katsuki,” Yaoyorozu’s voice says, achingly familiar all of a sudden. Shouto turns with some nervous anticipation. “Shouto.”

 

“Good morning,” Shouto echoes softly, finding it hard to cope with the names. She looks older, too, beautiful in a way his Yaoyorozu isn’t quite yet, her hair practically short and something more calmly confident in her stance. Her smile is the same. 

 

“I trust you’ve recovered from your night with Izuku,” Yaoyorozu says, lips twitching into something half-teasing. 

 

“I wasn’t hungover,” Shouto protests, tonelessly. “But- yes. Ah- thank you for yesterday.”

 

“It’s nothing,” Yaoyorozu answers, shaking her head. “Have you had the time to look over the files I sent last night?”

 

He wants to say yes and bluff, feeling immediately like he’s fucking someone’s day up, but Bakugou is fixing him intently, so he bobs his head. “No. I apologise. I didn’t have the time.”

 

“That’s all right,” Yaoyorozu waves away. “Let me know when you do, though? Jeanist wants to coordinate sometime this week. I think he’s passing by this afternoon, as a matter of fact- do you mind sparing him a couple of minutes if he does? I’ll get him for dinner, but I’m on-field most of the day.”

 

“Jeanist is in town?” Bakugou asks wryly, sparing Shouto having to respond to the onslaught. “Didn’t even tell me, the old fuck.”

 

Yaoyorozu laughs behind her hand. “It wasn’t a pleasure visit. He asked about you, though. I think he’s staying until the weekend, if you’d like to grab him for dinner at some point. I’m sure he’d love to cast an eye over the apartment.”

 

“Judgmental dick,” Bakugou scoffs, but he looks entertained before his expression shifts abruptly. “I can’t take guests at the moment, anyways. While I have you here, Momo- the gala?”

 

“Yes, you have to come,” Yaoyorozu sighs, while Shouto tries to place what was off about the previous exchange. “We do need to host these press junkets once in a while, you know that. And they eat you up.”

 

“I’d like to see them try,” Bakugou mutters, darkly. “Didn’t I get a free pass after last time? I thought I’d sat through enough bullshit.” 

 

“Indeed, which is why you’ve skipped out on the last two conferences,” Yaoyorozu smiles, pointedly. “There’ll be an open bar.” 

 

“Goodie, I’ll see all the other assholes get pissed,” Bakugou snorts. “I’ll go if I get to threateningly cuss out at least ten different journalists.”

 

“Five.”

 

“Seven, and I get to shake one up.”

 

“Shake up the Bubka editor and it’s a done deal.”

 

“I’m there,” Bakugou nods firmly. “He’s the piece of shit who refused to take down that costume piece, isn’t he?”

 

Yaoyorozu exhales through her nose. “That’s the one.”

 

Bakugou smiles darkly. “Gonna be a good gala.”

 

Yaoyorozu smiles back, then clicks her tongue and turns to Shouto, serious all at once. “Ah, I almost forgot I hadn’t asked yet- how is the interview going?”

 

“The interview,” Shouto says. “Good. It’s going- well.”

 

She frowns, eyes searching. “Really? You’ve spoken to them about it?” 

 

“I,” Shouto says. 

 

“Not that I’m surprised,” Yaoyorozu rushes, with a hint of her younger self’s fits of self-doubt. “It’s just- I’m proud of you.”

 

Shouto swallows, feeling like a fraud and a terrible friend. 

 

Bakugou shifts, and he misses what exactly happens, but Yaoyorozu’s expression changes, and she smooths down her trousers. “In any event- get back to me on the file, okay? I’ll see you two later.”

 

“Bye,” Bakugou says, casual, and Shouto nods her off and wonders what the fuck just happened.

 

As soon as she’s out of earshot he turns. “What interview?” 

 

“Just some hero profile shit,” Bakugou grunts, pushing his office door open. “I don’t know. As we’ve established, you don’t tell me your every secret.”

 

Lies, Shouto thinks, though he has no way of telling why. 

 

They spend a while going through Shouto’s duties for the day, then Bakugou unceremoniously kicks him out of his office. The first ten minutes alone are nerve-racking; by the end of the hour he feels like the office he’s sat in is a familiar sight, emailing back and forth like it’s a daily occurrence for him. He’s a quick learner, he’s heard. He almost enjoys the whole debacle, just for the feeling of really being thrown into something he doesn’t know and having to swim his way upstream. It’s not often that he feels that way. 

 

The syndicate he’s working on is thankfully nowhere near the threat the League of Villains poses in Shouto’s present day life, though they seem plenty dangerous in their own right. Thinking about it that way reminds him that he’s heard nothing about the League since arrival. He doubts they’ve been conveniently disposed of, which seems too easy, but then he supposes the life expectancy of high profile villain groups isn’t exactly that long. The topic feels taboo in a way the lives of his classmates have not, Bakugou’s wariness regarding time shenanigans feeling founded. 

 

In any event, the syndicate has its own grim track record under its belt, and the research he has on hand is intensive and yet alarmingly sparse. Unlike the League, these people are very keen to avoid confrontation with heroes unless their hand is forced. It makes sense, he supposes, because the League is somewhat of an anomaly in that its explicit goal is to ruin heroism for the world. This group is more concerned with getting rich through very dubious means; murders and exploitation tucked away between the money laundering and corruption. 

 

He forgets to take a lunch break, only finally rising from his chair when his hand starts cramping. It’s funny to feel physically unused to something so banal as typing. The technology took some getting used to in itself, explanation having slipped Bakugou’s mind, reasonably enough. 

 

He thinks there might be a food hall somewhere in the building, though he has no idea where, so he shuffles out of his office sort of sheepishly and takes the elevator up and down about four times until he finds the cafeteria, where the staff give him a look like his appearance in the middle of the afternoon is not a novel feat. 

 

It’s on his way back up that he runs into Hawks, who still looks roguishly handsome in what Todoroki assumes is his mid thirties, and who brightens lazily when he sees him.

 

“Hey, baby Todo. How’s you?”

 

He’s not quite able to suppress the grimace that name causes, which seems to go down as an expected reaction judging by the smile he gets. “Fine. Yourself?”

 

“The usual,” Hawks shrugs, still with the crooked smile. “Not appreciating being shifted up and down the ranking board on the daily, but I can’t say no to the competition.” 

 

“You never had qualms chasing rank back in the day,” Shouto says, automatic, because he’s trying not to show on his face how he feels about apparently toying with Hawks’ numbers on the hero ranking, considering he’s literally the number two hero in the country in Shouto’s present day. 

 

“True,” Hawks laughs. “Little shit. Hey- Friday, you didn’t get any weird follow-ups, right?”

 

“Right,” Shouto says, wishing he wasn’t apparently the only person in the world who doesn’t know what had happened on Friday. “Did you?”

 

The blonde’s wings flap a little. “Nah, course not. But I figured I’d be a bit of an ungrateful ass if I didn’t check up on my kindly saviour.”

 

“It’s part of the job,” Shouto says, hoping he’s following the story well enough. What a thought, somewhere down the line, exchanging banter with one of the top heroes in Japan about taking a hit for him. 

 

“So it is,” Hawks grins, shoving his hands in his pockets. “You’re a riot, y’know that?” 

 

Shouto doesn’t, so he grabs wildly for another topic of conversation. One of the valuable lessons he’s learnt at UA is that staring silently at someone to end a discussion isn’t well-received by most people. 

 

“Are you coming to the gala on Wednesday?”

 

“When do I ever skip a party?” Hawks huffs, wings fluttering. “Wait, are you actually coming? Don’t tell me the terror of the presses has decided to bless us with his presence.”

 

“If you mean Bakugou, he has, conditionally,” Shouto shrugs. “And I am too, I suppose.”

 

Hawks’ piercings jangle when he punches the air. His feathery ash hair has darkened with time, Shouto notes. “Fucking finally! I love doing press with you two, seriously. So much juicy drama.”

 

“Unbelievable,” Shouto says, half-accidental, because he’s not entirely sure what he expected of pro hero Hawks in personal conversation but this isn’t quite it. It explains the constipated look on his father’s face whenever Hawks is in proximity. Shouto feels a renewed bout of liking for him.

 

“Aren’t I just?” Hawks winks. “Hey, also- your brother wants to know how you’re doing.”

 

Shouto frowns, half because the guy’s speech is such a whirlwind of unpredictable tonal shifts it takes him a beat to catch up and half because he cannot fathom why Natsuo would be inquiring as to his well-being through Hawks of all people. “Why doesn’t he ask me himself?”

 

Hawks chokes a laugh. “Fuck, you got me, he didn’t ask. But he wants to. He watches all your fights, you know. He’s a little obsessed.”

 

“That’s new,” Shouto says, feeling like he’s having two different conversations at once. 

 

“Point taken,” Hawks wheezes, wings twitching. “But it’s no longer in a creepy, murderous way, I think. Most of the time, anyways.” 

 

Shouto officially has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about. He desperately wishes Bakugou was there, which is a foreign feeling in itself. “I have to get back to work.”

 

Hawks raises his hands. “I won’t keep you. See you around.”

 

He works diligently for a while, half-distracted, then gives in and logs out, knocking on Bakugou’s office door. 

 

“Don’t tell me,” Bakugou says, when he opens the door. “You set your office on fire.”

 

“No,” Shouto frowns, leaning into his office space. “Why is Hawks talking about my brother to me?”

 

Bakugou’s expression goes impressively calculating. “Your brother?”

 

“Natsuo’s not even in the hero circuit,” Shouto says, feeling weird even calling his siblings by name in front of him. Bakugou leans back onto his heels, eyes still very red. 

 

“They met through your old man. Kind of a lucky accident.” 

 

He says it like it’s true, which Shouto finds means he believes him. “They’re- close?”

 

“Sure,” Bakugou says. 

 

It is apparent this is one of the topics Bakugou is not getting into. Shouto sighs and looks around his office. Bakugou’s is designed about the same as his, though all of his paperwork is anally well-organised, and his decoration is much more eclectic. He doesn’t have any photos, but he does have newspaper clippings pinned to a board. 

 

“Is that all?”

 

Shouto’s not sure what Bakugou reads on his face, but he sort of rolls his eyes and pinches his waist, which comes so randomly Shouto fails to deflect. 

 

“Give me a moment to finish this up, then we’ll call it a day.” 

 

He heads for his desk with a frown like his mind is back on whatever work he’s doing, and Shouto goes hot and cold before he regains control of his muscles and shuts the door. At a loss for anything else to do with himself, he stands there and watches Bakugou switch from folder to laptop looking like the young, rebellious CEO of a Fortune 500 company. 

 

Five minutes in Bakugou starts absently toying with a pen like a drumstick, and Shouto feels a little ill with how much it is to handle. 

 

Mercifully for his fraying nerves, Bakugou really doesn’t take too long tying up loose ends, whereupon he shrugs his jacket on and kicks his chair under the desk, the fierce concentration in his face fading to something quieter when he meets Shouto’s skittish glance.

 

“How was your first day as a pro hero, then?”

 

“Good,” Shouto says, then feels bad for his dull answers. “Confusing. Kind of like a dream.” 

 

Bakugou shakes his head. “Not what you were saying about that case last we spoke.”

 

“I’m not used to it yet, though. It’s more interesting than English grammar.”

 

Bakugou’s teeth flash in amusement. 

 

“Why are you so nice to me?” Shouto blurts, which is not what he intended to ask. 

 

“What the fuck kind of question is that?” Bakugou demands, stopping dead. Shouto wishes he wouldn’t look at him like that. It makes it very hard to stand his ground and stare determinedly back at him. “The hell does ‘so nice’ even mean?”

 

“I-“ Shouto starts, unwilling to relent now. “Cooking, and showing me around, and- explaining things.” It sounds stupid even to his ears, Bakugou’s eyebrows climbing, so he buckles down, voice flattening. “You would never do any of those things normally.”

 

What an embarrassing conversation to enforce, he thinks, as Bakugou’s eyes flash, brows furrowing. What a ridiculous thing to ask. 

 

“I’m almost a decade older than you, you little shit, I’m not going to watch you fuck up out of pure pleasure. It’s not like I was in the habit of kicking puppies in the teeth in high school,” Bakugou snaps, which Shouto might have protested upon first meeting but will concede even with regard to his own Bakugou. “And I’m not being nice because I don’t let you starve or embarrass yourself. It’d mess with my own shit if you did.” 

 

Shouto stares mutinously at him, and Bakugou’s lip curls in annoyance. “Get higher standards, fuck’s sake. You’re not getting special treatment from me.”

 

They journey home in the busy Tokyo rush hour, Shouto feeling claustrophobic where he stands pressed against the side of the compartment, too tall for there not to be people shoved in under his armpit. The UA dorms are already so busy compared to the big empty halls of his home- it hadn’t occurred to him until they’d been on the streets of the city trying to rescue Bakugou just how full of people Japan was. The train at this time of the day is even more overwhelming. Shouto breathes through his nose to avoid doing something rude like gagging. 

 

Bakugou is standing so close he’s half pressed into Shouto’s side. He somehow smells both like fresh linen and a gently-smoking fireplace. 

 

Upon their return they spend a solid hour with Shouto sat cross-legged on the floor and Bakugou sitting wide on the sofa just volleying ideas back and forth, taking note if something seems feasible. It’s almost enough to install a sense of normalcy into him, like the classroom debates they sometimes have, though it’s hard to really forget himself whenever he looks up. 

 

“Friday. What happened?”

 

Bakugou’s expression goes stormy, but he stays silent until he appears to have an answer ready. “Nothing, according to you. Was some minor criminal activity on Hawks’ patrol, but then some fucker had to throw dynamite into the mix. You were passing by and helped out. Some little panicky quirk user started volleying hits when he ran off, but apparently didn’t hit anyone.” He scowls. “Course, starting to doubt the credibility of that particular claim.”

 

Shouto feels vaguely chastised. “And there’s nothing else that could have done this? Some other fight?”

 

“Not recently. If it’s someone’s quirk doing it, it’ll be from then.”

 

“Do you think he- I- knew who it was?” 

 

“Fuck knows,” Bakugou mutters, fists clenching. “Probably. He was out Saturday morning. Could have been doing research.” His head falls back against the head of the couch, chest heaving with frustration. It’s a more normal Bakugou state, but Shouto can’t help the pang of misplaced guilt that follows. This Bakugou isn’t normally on the brink of murder, at least not that Shouto’s seen, and he cares that his Shouto has gotten transported back in time. 

 

“Would Hawks recognise the guy if we found him?”

 

“Worth looking into,” Bakugou grunts. “Though unlikely. I don’t think this guy was even part of the main beef.” He snaps his head back down. “Our best bet is trying to find a profile whose quirk matches up to the situation.” 

 

“Is there some kind of database?” 

 

“Government records, but those are hard to get access to. There is a registry of known villains on the police networks, though, and if this guy is some kind of petty criminal he’ll be on it.”

 

“That sounds useful,” Shouto frowns. “Can’t we just do that?”

 

Bakugou’s fingers spark absently. “If he’s not big league, there’s a risk he won’t be registered under the right quirk, though.” His eyes find Shouto’s. “Like, his quirk will have been mislabelled or misunderstood.”

 

“Oh.” 

 

The prospect is disheartening. Even if they find the guy, he might not even be listed properly, and Shouto has no idea what he’s looking for. That he might stare the guy in the face and be recognised but not recognise is extremely irksome. 

 

“You’re probably trying to track him down in the past,” Bakugou says, eyes shut and arms crossed from his perch on the couch. “Or you better fucking be, considering.”

 

“I’m sure I am,” Shouto says, and makes himself believe it, because he can’t imagine he’s so changed that he wouldn’t be mortified by the knowledge Bakugou had something to hold over his head, if nothing else. 

 

They spend sometime more trying to figure out the inner workings of a quirk like the one Shouto’s been hit with, disagreeing on basically every point except that it must be an extremely rare one, considering the ability to warp the laws of time is almost never seen in quirks. The thought of rare quirks, however, reminds Shouto that they in fact know someone who specialises in niche quirk knowledge. 

 

“Ah, Bakugou- wouldn’t Midoriya be the person to ask about something like this?”

 

Bakugou groans, prolonged. Shouto pushes on obstinately. “He’s sort of obsessed with quirks. If anyone knows about the technical workings of a quirk like this, it would be him.”

 

“To get into the specifics you’d have to tell him what happened, you realise.”

 

Shouto frowns, looks out of the window. He’d been considering talking to Midoriya before discarding the idea, but then he supposes telling Bakugou wasn’t planned and has been going remarkably well, all things considered. Letting more people into the secret feels dangerous somehow, but then this is Midoriya- Shouto’s first friend, and selfless to a point. 

 

“He can keep a secret.”

 

“Barely,” Bakugou sneers, but he doesn’t fight him on it. “Text him if you’re sure.”

 

Shouto looks at him warily. “It would be better if you did.”

 

Bakugou pulls a face. “Who says I have his number?” 

 

“You do,” Shouto retorts, feeling equally childish. Bakugou has that effect. “I don’t know how to talk to him. I don’t know him.”

 

“Don’t say that to his face, he’ll cry,” Bakugou scoffs, but he reaches for his phone anyways. “Whaddya want to tell him?”

 

“Ah, just- what happened. That I woke up here. That the other me is back at UA. That it’s probably due to the skirmish on Friday.” 

 

“Right,” Bakugou says, fingers flying over the keyboard with far too much relish for there not to be a series of embellishments Shouto didn’t approve in the message. 

 

They eat dinner, Bakugou casting Shouto little glowers every so often lest he dare make a comment about his niceness agin. Shouto wouldn’t. When he’s eating Bakugou’s cooking he swears Bakugou could ask him to retire from the hero game and he just might do it in a moment of joyful insanity. 

 

“Do you like Tokyo?”

 

“Yeah. More to do than home. Always some criminals to beat up. Better places to eat.” Bakugou sets his glass down. “Good night-life. It’s a big city, so people mind their own damn business.”

 

“Glowing praise,” Shouto says, stifling the urge to smile. Bakugou kicks him under the table. 

 

“Why you asking, anyways? Not enjoying having to ride the tram with commoners?”

 

Shouto’s mouth pulls, maybe petulantly. “It’s just very busy.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’d be so much happier living at home.”

 

“I definitely would not,” Shouto retorts, because he would prefer living in a trash can outside the League of Villains HQ to living under Endeavour’s supervision. Bakugou’s lips quirk upwards.

 

“How’s second year?”

 

“Vaguely less traumatising than first year,” Shouto replies, before wincing a little at the faux pas. “More satisfying in terms of training, I think.”

 

“First year sure was eventful,” Bakugou agrees, just a bit grating. “October of second year- tournament coming up, right?”

 

“Right.” Shouto hesitates, decides he’s not going to start being less difficult than he is just because Bakugou is a more tolerable person. “I suppose you’re still mad about that.” 

 

“You are such a dick,” Bakugou says.

 

“It wasn’t like I was throwing it to spite you,” Shouto mutters, mutinous. “Not everything is about you.” 

 

“So I’ve heard.” Bakugou’s head-tilt feels insulting. 

 

“Why are we even talking about this?” Shouto asks, suddenly self-aware. “You’ve probably had this conversation. Several times.”

 

Bakugou snorts like he’s been caught out, taking a bite of his fish. “You haven’t.”

 

Shouto goes to answer, but the slightly off feeling creeping into him has caught up with him, and he blinks against bright lights, breath caught in his throat. It’s the heat of a fever and the cold sweat of nausea, punching him in the gut as he exhales. 

 

For a moment he thinks he might pass out, but the feeling is thankfully overpowered by his dead-set unwillingness to bear the humiliation of displaying such weakness, most especially in front of someone like Bakugou. He inhales, trying to gauge his odds. His immediate desire is to remove himself from the room under false pretences, but he has the notion that even his iron-clad will won’t be able to carry him through it, not convincingly enough for his companion, anyways. 

 

He doesn’t have many options, and Bakugou will only be lost in thought for so long before he looks up and catches his wincing for himself. Best he communicate this momentary indisposition himself, then. At worst Bakugou will gloat about this for a while, but his own Bakugou won’t even witness it, and besides Shouto is good at letting Bakugou’s taunts bounce of his skin, most of the time. 

 

He sets his chopsticks down from his steely grip on them. The edge of one of them is faintly singed.

 

“Mh. Bakugou?” 

 

Bakugou looks up and frowns hard. “Are you having a fucking aneurysm?”

 

“No,” Shouto glowers, despite himself, before reigning his annoyance in. “Something is wrong.” 

 

For all the distaste in the blonde’s curled lip, his focus is distressingly unwavering as he leans closer, grabbing his chin to look at him. Shouto lets him, unwilling to fight against it when he knows Bakugou will end up slamming him to the floor to examine him if he does. He’s half-glad he’s currently freezing, so he doesn’t flare up at the contact.

 

“Roll your eyes up.”

 

Shouto complies: Bakugou tsks. “One to ten, how bad?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Bakugou squeezes his cheeks hard between his calloused fingers. “I can tell it hurts, dumbass. One to ten.”

 

Six, Shouto thinks. “Three.”

 

“Right, six,” Bakugou mutters darkly. “Stand up, if you can manage.” 

 

Shouto does, mutinous, though he regrets it when he finds it harder than expected, only just resisting the urge to clutch the table’s edge. This has to be some kind of side effect of the time travel- the build-up from his exhaustion the previous night. It’s not his modus operandi to fall over himself like this. 

 

“Feverish, nauseous, what?” Bakugou asks, sounding more vaguely annoyed than particularly worried. Shouto tries to scowl at him.

 

“Both. Mostly feverish.” He hates fevers. Any other physical condition can be alleviated by his quirk, which lets him go hot and cold as needed. Fevers do just that, but sporadically, at random, too often for him to consciously match. He’s burning up now, cheeks hot and fingers burning. 

 

“As long as you’re not puking my food up,” Bakugou says, and leaves him to stand there as he whisks the dishes away. Shouto hates him, a little bit, which makes him weirdly nostalgic.

 

Once the kitchen is spotless, Bakugou bullies him into the bedroom, taking advantage of Shouto’s building exhaustion so cleanly he suspects he was left to sway on purpose. It’s almost impressive, or it would be if Shouto wasn’t so resentful of being chaperoned. Bakugou at least doesn’t try to help him any further, abandoning Shouto with aggressive orders to get changed and into bed or face the consequences. 

 

Shouto only complies because the bed looks very inviting. 

 

He lies around feeling sorry for himself a bit, unused to being so pathetically incapacitated and disliking the experience. What feels like an eternity later, Bakugou barges back into the room with what looks like surgical grade pain-killers and a pot of tea. With the light from the hallway illuminating him from behind, he looks like someone’s wrathful guardian angel. 

 

“I’m not dying,” Shouto protests, shivering a little as he sits straight. Bakugou quite literally kicks him back down, setting the tea down carefully as he does so. 

 

“Then don’t act like such a melodramatic bitch about some basic precautions. I don’t want your body rotting away before its actual owner returns.” 

 

He manages to make pouring tea look aggressive, a feat Shouto cannot quite wrap his mind around, then shoves a cup at him with an expression that says if Shouto doesn’t drink it Bakugou will force it down his throat some other way. 

 

Shouto burns his tongue on the tea, which hurts disproportionately. “It’s really not that serious.”

 

He’s not sure it isn’t, though, which is a mildly terrifying thought. If the quirk has some kind of side-effect- if he’s going to deteriorate faster the longer he’s out of time- there is a new sense of urgency to their trying to reverse it, and so far their prospects have looked dire, what with the anonymous offender and untraceable quirk. 

 

It has been very long since he was sick, and as a result it feels a fair deal worse than he thinks it can be. Maybe Bakugou is right, and he is rotting away, waves of heat and cold reflective of some kind of large-scale shutdown, his immune system’s dying thralls. 

 

He’s not exactly afraid of dying, but dying bed-ridden sounds particularly unpleasant, especially if he’s not even in his own life, and a stranger has replaced him in his. This Shouto’s friends don’t deserve their friend fading away into oblivion without even being able to see him off. His friends don’t deserve it either- perhaps his future self hasn’t even told anyone, and will die without explanation, out of sight. He feels briefly and miserably alone. 

 

“Wipe that look of your face,” Bakugou scowls. “This is not some kind of historical k-drama. People don’t die from their fragile dispositions anymore.”

 

“I’m not fragile,” Shouto mutters. “And this isn’t me, this is the product of the quirk. A quirk which I do not know anything about, and have no real hope of discovering anytime soon. For all I know my organs could be shutting down due to time-travel related upset.”

 

“You’re talking nonsense,” Bakugou snaps, matter of fact, and shoves more tea at him. “Drink and shut up. Your organs would have failed from the start, not acted up randomly. I think this comes in waves. You looked like death last night too.” 

 

I didn’t feel like it then, Shouto thinks without saying. He feels slightly less on the brink of panic, though, or perhaps his fever is breaking. His eyes go to the painkillers.

 

“Those look strong.”

 

“Hah?” Bakugou asks, eyes flicking around before he finds them. “Well, yeah. ’S not like we’d be taking painkillers every time we tore a damn nail.” 

 

“You get injured a lot?” 

 

Bakugou raises a shoulder. “Not really.” His eyes spark briefly, smug. “Most people don’t exactly land their hits on me.” 

 

Shouto thumbs at the scar on his own palm, unthinkingly. “When they do, though.”

 

Bakugou crosses his arms, leaning against the wall. “Then it gets messy.” He looks out of the window, eyes unseeing. “Mostly injuries happen when someone else is the target. When you have to shoulder a hit meant for a building, or some shit like that. Or from over-exertion.” 

 

Shouto cannot quite comprehend Bakugou ever admitting to pushing himself too far, but then he guesses he could be referring to him instead. “Has anyone from our class ever…”

 

“Bit it?” Bakugou asks, surprisingly calm still. “Nah. Mostly avoid big injuries, too. Not that they know how to keep out of trouble, course. Idiots.” His chin tilts up. “’S just most of them don’t get involved in the dangerous shit.”

 

“But we do,” Shouto says, softly. His head hurts a bit. 

 

He’s not paid attention to his body too much, too groggy in the mornings and distracted when he changed, but there are scars and faint aches he’s not familiar with, each with stories he doesn’t know. He wonders if having many of them lessens the sting of the one on his face, if he wears it without the afterthought that he brought it upon himself. The opposite might be true- perhaps he now feels that way about all of them, blames himself for failing to avoid injury.

 

He finds himself interested in what Bakugou looks like under his shirt, now without the dubious motivation. His own Bakugou is always frustratingly unmarked, recovering from his stint with the League with nary a scratch and blowing off fight after fight like no one’s ever laid a finger on him. Midoriya’s hands and arms are scarred up to the elbow, and Todoroki’s face is unavoidably disfigured; Aizawa’s got the scar under his eye and All Might looks like a walking corpse. Bakugou walks unperturbed, arousing Shouto’s suspicions that he has some kind of secondary quirk to scare off blemishes. 

 

In an odd way he sort of hopes this Bakugou is the same, unharmed by the challenges life throws at him.

 

“Deku says he can come over in the morning,” Bakugou says, sliding his phone away. He looks mildly irked. “I have to go in to work, but I said you might as well hang around here. If you’re still sick it’s better than having you infect the office, anyways.”

 

Shouto blinks. He’s starting to fall asleep, he thinks. “Okay.”

 

“Drink more tea,” Bakugou says. “And if it wakes you up, take half a painkiller.” 

 

“Okay,” Shouto says, more quietly. He startles a bit when Bakugou snaps his fingers in front of his face, managing a frown. “Okay.”

 

Bakugou exhales a dramatic breath, visibly doesn’t say something probably rude, and leaves for his sofa. He yanks the door shut behind him, but it doesn’t slam, like its advance was halted before it could. 

 

“You are nice to me,” Shouto calls after him, because it seems important to tell him he knows this, though it sounds petulant and hazy to his ears, and he doesn’t think Bakugou hears, not lying curled up on the sitting room couch. 

 

Sleep comes to him in waves, his breathing unsteady as the fever fades. He falls asleep with his hands curled into loose fists, nails half-pressed to the scar. 

 

He dreams of Hawks, flying easily over the city skyline, which is devastated. He’s oblivious to the damage below; Shouto can’t call to him, but he doesn’t take his eyes off him. If he looks away there’s no telling what he might find around him. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki likes to go for a morning run around the dorm site on week days, regardless of the weather, though it doesn’t hurt that it isn’t raining buckets or snowing like hell. It’s the sort of exercise people like to describe as ‘therapeutic’, a word Katsuki scorns but doesn’t disagree with exactly. Running in the early morning quiet, the city distantly awakening, the world seems built to accommodate him. 

 

The dormitory is dead quiet when he makes his way out. There are other early risers in 1-A, but they stick to their rooms for the most part, especially as it gets colder outdoors. Katsuki huffs a cloudy breath against the cold morning air, rolls his shoulders, and breaks into a sprint. 

 

It’s just about six thirty when he jogs back inside, hoodie damp and hair annoyingly ruffled. He’s preoccupied with trying to decide on whether to shower first or fix some breakfast, and it almost makes him miss the glimpse of red and white in his line of sight. 

 

Todoroki is out of uniform, which Katsuki has seen maybe twice ever on school grounds, and he seems quite unawares that anyone else is around. He’s only around for about a second before he vanishes down the stairs, and Katsuki stares. 

 

Had someone asked him in first year, he’d have reckoned Todoroki was the type to ‘rise with the sun’ and then meditate to further his self-control or some shit like this. As of now, he knows that to be completely off track- Todoroki sleeps until he’s absolutely obliged to rise, then gets ready at the speed of light. As a matter of fact, Katsuki’s even started to be able to tell when his apparent perfect composure at the early hours of the morning is the equivalent of the average person’s bleary-eyed stumbling. 

 

The idea of sneaking out after him is appealing, but Katsuki doesn’t like the fact he’s spent a full day concerning himself with the doings of Shouto Todoroki, and resolutely heads for the kitchen instead. 

 

He stays on high alert throughout his breakfast, just in case, but Todoroki doesn’t show.

 

There is an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu in the fact that he spends the moments before class listening to Deku worriedly mutter to Uraraka about Todoroki, although this time he can feel the little prick casting him glances like he’s thinking about asking Katsuki if he knows something. He tries to broadcast the fact he has no idea what Todoroki is doing and will kill anyone who asks him about it, which he thinks succeeds, considering Deku doesn’t bite the bullet. 

 

He determinedly does not listen to their conversation. 

 

“Apparently Todoroki is still ill,” Kirishima informs him, because he is the only person worth of Katsuki’s time. “Midoriya said he took him to Recovery Girl before class.”

 

“Did he now,” Katsuki says. Very fucking interesting that poor ill Todoroki had to be accompanied to the nurse’s office by his darling friends, seeing as he was wandering the halls freely like some anime ghoul hours prior. 

 

Kirishima tilts his head at him in typical bedraggled puppy style. “You heard from him since yesterday?” 

 

“No,” Katsuki says, shortly, lest he get any ideas. “Fuck knows what he gets up to.”

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Todoroki ill,” Kirishima says, and he sounds concerned, fuck him. “Maybe we should stop by or something.” 

 

“He has plenty of bedside company without yours,” Katsuki bites out, throwing a glare over his shoulder. “Probably has a personal nurse.”

 

Kirishima clicks his tongue, running a hand through his hair. “Man, y’know, I don’t get the vibe the Todorokis are big on all that.”

 

“What, money?”

 

Kirishima pulls a face. “No, like- support.” 

 

Katsuki groans and shoves his shoulder. “You give way too much of a shit about everyone’s fragile feelings.” 

 

“I guess I could try during lunch,” Kirishima says, worrying at his lip. “But we have that test right after, so I’ll probably still be cramming.”

 

“I thought I went through that shit with you?” Katsuki frowns, toying with his pen. Kirishima winces.


“We did, but you know I always forget what I revised when I turn the page, dude. It’s not on you.” 

 

Katsuki rolls his eyes. “Of course it’s not on me, dumbass. You need to stop stressing so much about some basic grammar.”

 

Classes passes by with no real distinction, minus the teachers remarking on Todoroki’s absence and Deku increasingly vibrating with stress about it. It is fucking tragic that Katsuki has had to come to accept that Deku has such a death wish that he’s clearly overcome his trepidation in favour of worrying about his friend, which means the moment the bell rings for lunch Deku will plant himself in Katsuki’s way to ask him ridiculous questions. 

 

The bell rings, and Deku bounds out of his seat, but Katsuki’s one step ahead, slinging his bag over his shoulder and pressing ahead so he hits the busy hallways before the asshole can catch up to him. 

 

Heading for Recovery Girl’s is the most logical next step. Kirishima has a point in that most people in their class will be trying to study, Deku is unlikely to guess he’s there, and Katsuki still hasn’t gotten the answers he was promised. As long as he beats the other assholes there, he can be in and out before anyone questions his presence. It’s not like he has shit to say to the guy.

 

The nurse’s wing of the school is dead quiet at lunch time, all the students milling about the food halls or their dorms, his footsteps echoing loudly as he approaches. 

 

“Young Bakugou!” Recovery Girl says, the moment he cracks the door open. “Don’t tell me you’re in trouble now, too!” 

 

He looks at her warily, offended but not about to get into a fight with her. The woman has nerves of steel under the smile. “No. ‘M here to see Todoroki. He in?”

 

The old hag bobs her head with a frown. “Yes, and not in good shape. You children push yourselves far too much.”

 

“He that sick?” Katsuki asks, skeptic. She shakes her head feelingly. 

 

“His chart readings are awful, but he insists he’s just under the weather. Typical teenager…”

 

Her remonstrances turn to muttering halfway through; Katsuki shoves his hands in his pockets. “Can I see him?”

 

Recovery Girl blinks owlishly at him. “As long as you’re not here to start any funny business, he’s just in the back.”

 

“God, I just want to talk to the asshole!” Katsuki snaps, leaving her behind to grumble about reckless children as he shoves his way into the bedroom. She can talk, anyways, like it’s not fucking creepy that she kisses minors for a living.

 

Todoroki is in fact in bed, looking particularly princely against the white sheets, though not particularly ill. He perks up at seeing him, sitting upright from his distracted slump.

 

“You look chipper,” Katsuki accuses, before the conversation can get derailed by some inane shit again. “Is this your death bed look?”

 

Todoroki bats his lashes with the utmost innocence. “You can look at my charts, you know. I’m a medical miracle.”

 

Katsuki’s looked at the charts, and they do look batshit. “You can control your body temp. Not the most reliable patient.”

 

Todoroki breaks into a smile again, which Katsuki is starting to profoundly hate. “All right, then. Why don’t you believe I’m ill?”

 

“I saw you snooping around this morning.” 

 

“Ah. I might’ve guessed.” Todoroki settles back against his cushions. “Brief recovery period?”

 

“Don’t talk down to me, asshole,” Katsuki growls. “You told me yesterday some shit was going on.” 

 

“And I said I wouldn’t tell you about it,” Todoroki recalls, though he tilts his head thoughtfully. “Is it lunch break?”

 

“I wouldn’t be here if I was meant to be in class,” Katsuki retorts, scoffing. “What’s it to you, anyways?”

 

Todoroki stays silent for a moment, eyes faraway, as Katsuki’s foot taps increasingly loudly against the floor. He’s tempted to start shaking answers out of the guy, but Recovery Girl isn’t as deaf as  she looks, and he’s sure that giant syringe packs a punch. 

 

“It’s a shame you won’t skip class,” Todoroki says, finally, slow. His eyes are almost inquisitive. “Is there no convincing you?”

 

Right, Shouto Todoroki trying to get him to cut class. What a fucking joke. Katsuki’s expression says as much. “Cause you’re such a fucking rebel, right?” 

 

“I do break rules quite often, you know. I went after you against express orders, after all.” 

 

Katsuki is aware, and does not appreciate the reminder. “That was your dumbass choice, not mine!”

 

“It’s just that I really don’t think I should tell you, but I would appreciate your help anyways,” Todoroki says, quite gently. Katsuki has never heard the word help leave his lips. “So if you’d be up for it you could come with me today.”

 

Katsuki inhales one long breath before giving up and grabbing Todoroki by the front of his stupid shirt, as quiet as he can be while his explosions pop. “What the actual fuck is wrong with you?”

“Ow,” Todoroki says, in response to the sparking. Katsuki sort of regrets hoisting him so close to his face. “I need to fix this thing that’s happened. I’ll need to go into town to do it, specifically to the police registry. I can probably manage alone, but I don’t know my way around so well, and you’re a good partner for investigation.”

 

Katsuki loosens his grip a little so he can search his face better, trying to find the catch and unable to conclude anything beyond the fact Todoroki must be under some kind of quirk-induced stupor. There’s no way he’s speaking so freely of his own volition. Maybe that’s it, actually- maybe he can’t speak about the actual incident as part of the workings of the quirk.

 

With this in mind, he steps back. If this isn’t just some very early midlife crisis, there might be less reason to maul Todoroki to death and more reason to pay attention to his insane rambling.

 

Flattering his ego isn’t enough to get him to drop class, though. 

 

“I’m not your sidekick.”

 

“I know,” Todoroki says. “But you can satiate your curiosity if you do come. Your grades won’t suffer from one day off.”

 

Katsuki glares at him a little. It’s not that he’s worried about the consequences, which he can handle- his record is perfect, and the test is easily caught up on. It’s the principle of the matter. He’s a fucking perfect student. 

 

“Whatever’s going on with you- ’s some serious shit, right?”

 

Todoroki thinks this through, then nods. “It is to me, yes.” 

 

He owes his rescue group exactly nothing. They made their own choices. But Katsuki knows he’d have done the same were their situations reversed- not because he cares, mind you, but because he hates sitting around letting other people do the hero work. If Todoroki’s in some quirk-related crisis, and if he can fix it before Deku manages to offer his help…

 

“If I get shit for this, I’ll kill you, understood?” Katsuki announces, giving his classmate the evil eye.

 

“Oh, fantastic,” Todoroki sighs, content, and then he leans in. “We’ll have to get past Recovery Girl first. She won’t let me leave with my charts so chaotic.“

 

Katsuki cannot believe he’s helping Todoroki break out of UA à la Mission Impossible. “Can’t you say you’d rather go rest in your own room?”

 

“I don’t know if she’d buy it,” Todoroki reflects. “Maybe we can distract her.”

 

“Or take the window.”

 

Todoroki hums, climbing neatly out of bed and padding over in his socks to stare out of it. “That could be doable. You can cushion your landing, right?” 

 

“Worry about your damn self, seeing as you’re so ill,” Katsuki grunts. “Taking the frame off will be too loud, though.”

 

Todoroki’s delicate fingers fix either side of the window, frost spreading rapidly to cover the frame, and he yanks it back with nary a squeak, setting the whole fixture gently down on the bed before raising a brow at him. 

 

Katsuki only grimaces. This fucking insane. Shouto Todoroki is vandalising school property, and Katsuki’s going with it. 

 

“Put it back in once you’re out. Don’t want it to look like someone’s broken in.” 

 

With that, he hoists himself up through the frame. If he’s going along with this batshit scheme, no way is he letting Todoroki lead it. 

 

Freefalling out of a fourth-storey window is maybe slightly more intense a statement than planned, but Katsuki only endures a moment of blind nosediving before he extends his hands and counters his momentum, shoulders knocked back slightly by the impact. His descent is easy from there, though, so that he spares his attention more for the possible observers than the actual plunge into the void. 

 

There doesn’t seem to be anyone around at this time of the day, which is convenient. He’s close to the ground when Todoroki slips neatly past him, ice slick under his heels. They land about in sync, Todoroki pausing to vaporise his ramp before he does. 

 

“You’re batshit crazy,” Katsuki informs him, for the record, then sets his jaw challengingly. “What now?”

 

“We’re mostly out of sight on this side of the building, which should hide your explosions if you use them to boost yourself,” Todoroki indicates, eyes scanning the perimeter. “We need to get from here to the back gates in as little time as possible, so that we don’t get seen milling about the lawn.” 

 

“And what are we doing about the security there?” 

 

“I’ll get to that,” Todoroki says. Obnoxious prick. “Shall we?”

 

Katsuki didn’t get the best track in the long jump examinations for nothing. He boosts himself higher and further only once, lands clean across the back lawn, neatly in the shade of the dying trees. 

 

There aren’t many actual guards on the UA gates, due to the heavily-protected gates and barriers themselves, not to mention constant patrolling and security cameras. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any, however, and from their spot Katsuki can make one out by his desk and one on the other side of the gate, both standing on high alert. 

 

“I assume your genius plan doesn’t involve us beating up the school guard,” Katsuki says, raising a brow. “So, what, we sneak out?”

 

“I can distract the one inside long enough to get by him,” Todoroki affirms, peering at the gate. “You can hit a small target from a distance, right?”

 

“Who do you think I am?”

 

Todoroki shakes his head. “If you set off some minor explosion amongst the trees by the training centre, the other guard will have to go investigate.” 

 

“So the guards are distracted. How do we get out?”

 

Todoroki raises a hand. 

 

“Where the fuck did you get a key pass?” 

 

“I broke into the security office this morning,” Todoroki shrugs. 

 

Katsuki is begrudgingly impressed and mildly disturbed. “That’s fucking reassuring. UA is that easy to break into?”

 

“I knew where to look,” Todoroki says, having the good grace to look somewhat sheepish. “And it was quite difficult. I got lucky with the thermal sensors.”

 

“Of course you did,” Katsuki mutters darkly. “I don’t ’spose this magical pass kills the security cameras, does it?”

 

“No, but you should be able to blur the image, if you can smoke them for a bit.”

 

Katsuki purses his lips. “So let’s get to it, then.”

 

They slip closer to the cabin; Todoroki nods, and Bakugou aims high, bursts of energy whistling through the air to land at the feet of the trees some way off with boisterous crackling. Both guards turn to look, alert- he does it again, less loudly, and the one by the gate sets off, hand on his belt. 

 

They wait he’s at a safe distance. Todoroki sets his fingers flat against the highest step of the cabin, and Katsuki watches impatiently as the windows of the building start fogging up with condensation. It gets like a sauna in remarkably little time, the guard cursing and rising to yank the window open. His back is turned only for a second, but it’s enough, Todoroki slapping the pass confidently against the framework as Katsuki eyes the smoking cameras. 

 

The gate clicks open; they slide out into the street. 

 

“We should probably leave now,” Todoroki says. The gate continues to open. 

 

They run. Katsuki is beginning to think his school administration has done a terrible job of securing the place, but then he guesses they’re not usually trying to stop people from getting out so much as getting in. 

 

Out in the open, he feels like he’s a moving target, expecting UA teachers to burst out of the woodworks at any moment and drag him back, but nothing follows them. It takes surprisingly little time for them to hit city centre. 

 

“When we went to look for you we went through the commercial area,” Todoroki says, absently, as they wait for the bus. “It was the first time I’d been, I think. It felt like it, anyways. We all wore disguises.”

 

“That’s not where the police headquarters are,” Katsuki responds, eyeing him suspiciously. “Don’t tell me this is a shopping spree.”

 

“No,” Todoroki snorts. “I was just remembering.”

 

They take the bus in silence. It’s teeming with little kids going home for lunch, quite a few of them eyeing their uniforms with big eyes. 

 

“Are we breaking into the police offices, too?” Katsuki asks, because he’s not particularly keen on turning criminal at the whims of his classmate. Todoroki might not give a fuck about posting bail, but Katsuki’s not about to do for him what he refused to do for the League. 

 

Todoroki looks at him sideways. “No. I know someone there who should let us in, at least to consult the registry. It probably won’t be particularly helpful, but it’s a place to start.”

 

“What are you looking for there, anyways?”

 

Todoroki goes vague again. “I’ll tell you if I find it.”

 

They make an odd pair walking through town square, Katsuki slouched and glowering, Todoroki standing tall and lost in thought. More than one girl blushes just from looking at him, which is patently ridiculous- in fact, Katsuki catches men doing the same, which feels more offensive somehow. Todoroki is, of course, completely oblivious.

 

It really is insulting how he looks. On paper Todoroki is a joke- hair like a cartoon clown, half his face burnt up, about as emotive as a plank of wood. In practice, somehow, all of this works. Katsuki has tried very hard to limit the interactions between his parents and his classmates in general, but he dreads his father ever setting eyes on Todoroki. There is absolutely no doubt he would immediately try and recruit him for a fashion shoot. 

 

He’s seen Todoroki’s siblings on TV, and they’re fine, but they’re not Todoroki. He guesses Endeavour’s creepy experimenting paid off in more ways than one when it came to his youngest child. Shame his personality is so fucked, though. 

 

“We may need to obfuscate some,” Todoroki says, low, as they walk through the doors. “Try not to contradict me.”

 

The man at the front desk looks friendly enough when he spots them, probably just from the uniforms. 

 

“Can I help you two?” 

 

“I’m looking for Detective Nanase,” Todoroki delivers dutifully. The desk attendant smiles. 

 

“I’ll tell him you’re here, Mr…”

 

“Todoroki,” Todoroki says, like his face isn’t common knowledge. “Shouto.”

 

The guy who shows up looks vaguely hassled at being summoned, and surprised when he spots Todoroki. “Shouto. Aren’t you meant to be in school?”

 

“We’re doing a project today,” Todoroki answers, hands folded neatly behind his back. “I thought I could come here for my research.”

 

“Right,” the detective says, eyes flitting to Katsuki. “What’s your project on?”

 

“Famous cases of heroic collaboration with the police force,” Todoroki rattles off, like he’s memorised it. “Do you think we could look at the registry?”

 

“I don’t see why not,” Nanase shrugs, contemplating them. “You probably won’t be able to take anything out, though.”

 

“That’s fine,” Todoroki says. “We can take notes.” 

 

Neither of them have notebooks on them, but Katsuki brandishes his lunchbag, daring the detective to question its contents. He doesn’t. 

 

“Sure, then. I’ll show you up. How’s the old man?”

 

“Peachy,” Todoroki says. Katsuki stifles a smirk, caught off guard. 

 

They get dropped off unceremoniously, the older man hovering a bit before apparently deciding he’s got no reason to do so and leaving them alone amongst the archives. 

 

“Didn’t know these were open to the public,” Katsuki comments, casting a look around. Todoroki shakes his head.

 

“They’re not, exactly. You need to have an accepted reason to have a look. But hero work usually counts, and Nanase’s worked with my father a lot, so I figured he would let us skip the admin.”

 

“Convenient for you to have so many contacts,” Katsuki grunts. 

 

“I’d prefer not to feel like my father has eyes on me wherever I am,” Todoroki shrugs, leaving Katsuki to frown after him as the moves into the room. 

 

“You going to tell me what you’re doing now?” Katsuki demands, after a minute of Todoroki silently flitting from row to row. He barely reacts to it.

 

“Looking for someone.”

 

Katsuki’s jaw sets. “Thank you, captain fucking obvious.”

 

“I told you,” Todoroki starts; Katsuki’s fists flare up. 

 

“Don’t start with the ‘I can’t tell you’ shit again! Unless you’re under some kind of silencing quirk, I don’t see what exactly justifies me being dragged around blindly for your convenience without being allowed to hear more than some vague crap about it!” 

 

Todoroki frowns at him. Katsuki is upon him in a heartbeat, refraining from shouting only to avoid drawing attention. “You have no qualms letting me get shit for busting out of school, so don’t try and pull some high and mighty secretive excuse, either!”

 

“Katsuki,” Todoroki starts, before catching himself, but it is all too little too late, and Katsuki snarls. 

 

Quit calling me that! Since yesterday you’ve been batshit crazy- why do you know how to break out of UA so well, anyways?” A sudden, incredibly obvious thought crosses his mind, and he blanches in anger, grabbing Todoroki by the neck. “It’s not Todoroki, is it? You’re that Toga bitch!”

 

He can’t fucking believe he didn’t realise it sooner. After it happened to Camie of all people- Todoroki acting like some bizarro imitation of himself, pulling all kinds of weird shit. And Katsuki has been dumbly helping him out, like a complete moron. So much for his fucking instincts.

 

“I am not,” Todoroki protests, even as Katsuki yanks him into the wall hard. “K- Bakugou, let go- how would I be able to use my quirk if I was her?”

 

This realisation calms Katsuki’s murderous rage somewhat, though it doesn’t lessen his urge to beat Todoroki’s ass. “Well, fine, maybe you’ve been the UA traitor all along, then!” 

 

“I wouldn’t have asked you to come with me if I was!” Todoroki grits out, elbowing Katsuki between the ribs when he tries to fling him to the ground. Katsuki grabs his arm and flips him over his back, sending him flying into the shelf behind them with a clang. 

 

“Villains love kidnapping me, as established,” Katsuki yells, over the blow he barrels out towards Todoroki’s chest. Todoroki flings up a neat arc of ice to stop it, flash-stepping around it to avoid the next hit. 

 

“I’m not a villain!” 

 

Katsuki goes to fly-kick him, but Todoroki intercepts, faster than he’s used to, wrapping an arm around Katsuki’s waist and yanking him down. He recovers fast, legs hooking Todoroki to him so he can throw them down and land atop him. 

 

“You’ve done a shit job of not acting like one,” Katsuki starts, while Todoroki recovers from having the wind knocked out of him, but it doesn’t last long, the latter raising a palm to freeze Katsuki’s hand from the wrist up when he goes to blast him. 

 

“You are impossible-”

 

Ice shatters; Katsuki lowers both his fists, but Todoroki bucks up and rolls them over in a move Katsuki has never seen him pull, explosions missing their target in the commotion. He blocks efficiently, but Todoroki doesn’t try to attack, just gets this determined look on his face and cups the sides of his face, thumbs pressing just under his jaw. 

 

He doesn’t press hard; Katsuki falters a little, though he will swear it’s just the uncanny move and nothing to do with the way he flushes. 

 

“Just let me explain,” Todoroki says, before he can retaliate by actually killing him. His hair is all ruffled, eyes bright with exertion. “Before you do me in.”

 

“Why do you know how to block me?” Katsuki demands, furious, because that is what has happened and he refuses to believe Todoroki is better hand-to-hand than he is. 

 

Todoroki sighs, leans back. “You had better believe me.” 

 

“I’m all fucking ears,” Katsuki says, before glaring particularly hard. “And get off me!”

 

Todoroki does, looking like it hadn’t even occurred to him not to sit on Katsuki’s chest. Katsuki pulls himself upright. 

 

“I’m not your Todoroki,” Todoroki says, which is probably the stupidest thing he’s said all day. “I am Todoroki, though. In my normal life I’m twenty-five years old. I work as a pro hero in Tokyo. On Friday, I was in a skirmish with a minor villain, whose hit seems to have poorly landed, and appears to have taken effect with a certain delay. I woke up yesterday in this period of my life. I suspect my younger self will have woken up in mine. I figured it best not to cause upheaval by sharing this with anyone, though I was counting on asking you for help in fixing it. I just doubted you would believe me if I told you.”

 

He pauses, looking actually sort of apologetic. “I suppose I should have tried to be less suspicious, but it’s been a while since I saw you all like this, and I couldn’t resist at least talking to you.” 

 

Katsuki takes this in. “You’re Todoroki. From the future?”

 

Todoroki nods.

 

“You’ve been here since Sunday.”

 

Nod.

 

“You didn’t want to tell me because you didn’t think I’d believe you.”

 

Todoroki half-smiles. “Stupid to think not telling you would work out, I know. You wouldn’t just blindly trust me on something like this.” 

 

Katsuki stares at him hard. “Fine.”

 

Todoroki’s brows shoot up. “Fine?”

 

Katsuki sits back. “Yeah, fine. I buy it.” 

 

It’s Todoroki’s turn to stare, mostly intrigued. “So easily?”

 

“That’s why you can use your fire,” Katsuki shrugs, crossing his arms. “You got over your daddy issues and shit. Makes sense.”

 

The smile that slowly spreads across Todoroki’s face is as inexplicable as it is blinding. “Oh. Of course.”

 

Katsuki stares at him a bit more, lost in thought. This explains the attitude, the forgetfulness, the lack of decorum, the quirk. Why Todoroki is so different with him is an unanswered question, though. He pointedly does not think about why Todoroki knows his fighting moves so well. 

 

Shit. If this is really future Todoroki… 

 

“So, who’s number one hero in the country?”

 

“I can’t tell you that,” Todoroki says, but he sounds horribly endeared, making Katsuki go flaming scarlet and glare fervently at him. “Don’t you automatically think it’s you?”

 

“Well, yeah,” Katsuki mutters. “Doesn’t hurt to ask, though.” 

 

“We shouldn’t hang around here too long,” Todoroki says, looking up. “They’ll have heard us fighting. Anyways, these archives won’t have what I’m looking for.”

 

“Is it the guy who hit you?” 

 

“Yes,” Todoroki nods, moving to stand and absently extending Katsuki a hand. He doesn’t take it. “I thought he might have hit me on Friday, so I tried to look into him over the weekend, but I obviously don’t have access to his files as a teenager.” 

 

“You know who he is?” 

 

Todoroki hums. “I do. I mean, I know his name and face. But I have no idea what he would be doing now, eight years younger, and I can’t just demand the police look into it.”

 

“That’s still something,” Katsuki protests, following him out of the room. “A minor villain is still a villain, isn’t he? He’s probably still shit-stirring now, if he’s old enough.”

 

“He would be in his late twenties,” Todoroki frowns. “But I don’t think he’s been active long. Time-travel doesn’t seem like a useful villainous quirk.”

 

“Did you have a look at his record at all?” 

 

Todoroki stops, eyeing him approvingly. “As a matter of fact- he had some old charges for petty theft on it, I think. Shit, if he has a record now, we can get his address of it.”

 

“That wasn’t so fucking hard, was it?” Katsuki asks, rather smug. “So, how’d we do that?”

 

His companion tilts his head thoughtfully. “There will be records in the office, but I don’t know if I’d be able to get to them. I know a few people, but they won’t let us at police records so easily.” 

 

“Can’t you bullshit that Nanase guy about the project? Or tell him you’re here to look into something for Endeavour?” 

 

“It’s a stretch either way. If he buys the latter he’s going to confirm with him, and the last thing I want is for my father to get involved. He’ll either decide I’ve lost it and have me locked up or believe me and try and grill every detail of the future out of me.” 

 

Katsuki pulls a face. “So?”

 

“There is someone who might be able to help,” Todoroki says, frowning. “But I don’t know if she even lives where I remember her living.”

 

“As long as we don’t have to go to fucking Tokyo. We’re not all made of money.”

 

“No, she’s from here. The only problem is that I don’t remember her address.” 

 

“Could you find it on a map?” 

 

“The area, yes.”

 

“Well start there, then. Not fucking rocket science.”

 

They leave the station and head for the buses, Todoroki ‘mostly’ sure that he knows which one to take and complaining about the fact he doesn’t remember how to operate his phone. 

 

“How long have you lived in Tokyo?” Katsuki asks. He’s running through the Tokyo agencies in his head, half-jealous at the thought. Which is stupid, considering if Todoroki can make it there, his future self definitely will have. 

 

“Ah, three- four years,” Todoroki estimates. “There was a sort of intermediate where I used to commute a lot.” 

 

“What’s it like?”

 

“Busy.” 

 

“Wow, fuck you.”

 

Todoroki sighs. “It is, though. Big, too. There are interesting places, though. And people.” He perks up. “A lot of cats.”

 

Katsuki could give less fucks about Todoroki’s damn cats, so he racks his brains for future-orientated questions. There are so many he doesn’t know where to start. 

 

“Is All Might still around?”

 

Todoroki looks at him, surprised, and Katsuki stares firmly out of the window, cursing his loose tongue. Embarrassing damn question.

 

“Yes, he is. Keeping busy, too.” 

 

Katsuki only grunts, ignoring the thick relief that courses through him. 

 

They ride a while more, Todoroki occasionally asking him some banal question about his daily schedule for confirmation, Katsuki watching the darkening skies. They’d only set off during lunch; it’s getting late, the transit and the stint in the archives having taken longer than they felt. By the time they leave this mystery woman the sun might be setting. He’s not dressed for October after dark.

 

They’re pulling into a rather grand area of the city when Todoroki suddenly goes still. 

 

“Don’t pass out,” Katsuki warns. Todoroki only shakes his head.

 

“I completely forgot. This woman- she’ll live here, but we’re only friends now because of her career change. If we meet her now she’ll have no reason to help us.”

 

“You dumbass,” Katsuki glowers, thinking of the long journey back. “How did that manage to slip your mind?”

 

“Going back in time isn’t exactly par of the course for me,” Todoroki replies, furrowing his brows. “Ah, what a shame. I can’t think of anyone else who has that sort of access to police records.”

 

“She a cop?”

 

“She would be now,” Todoroki says, still frowning. “But she works as a hero as I know her.” 

 

Some nagging thought half-forms in his mind. 

 

“If it’s just a matter of access, all pro heroes should work, no?”

 

“Yes- but people like Aizawa and the other teaching staff will have their tech firmly out of the way, and even if they happen to keep it within reach I have no idea how to get through their security settings.”

 

“Right,” Katsuki says, thinking hard. “And there’s no one whose security we could just bullshit.”

 

They get off at the next stop, waiting for the bus back. Katsuki knows he’s missing someone, but fuck him if he knows who. True enough that the teachers won’t have some convenient password to let them through. 

 

They don’t exactly know many other pro heroes. He can’t imagine Best Jeanist would be thrilled to see him again, nor whoever it was Todoroki did his internship with. 

 

His head snaps up. 

 

“Your old man’s a pro hero.”

 

“So he says.”

 

“No- he’s a pro hero, he’ll have access to this shit. Doesn’t he have an office in your house?” 

 

Todoroki’s eyes widen in thought. “Of course he does. He does have security, but…”

 

The line for the bus is getting longer. Katsuki elbows him to shut him up before he starts disclosing the details of the national number one hero’s security system for everyone to hear. A good thing too- the person next to them, whose gender is difficult to discern considering they seem to be an amorphous blob, slinks away guiltily when Katsuki shoots a nasty look their way.

 

He isn’t keen on traipsing all the way to wherever the hell Todoroki and his family live- probably in a palace in the countryside, though then he supposes they likely have a private helicopter service to see to their movements. 

 

Wild speculation about the wealth of the Todoroki household is a favourite topic amongst the students of UA, worsened since the revision sessions hosted in Yaoyorozu’s home. Katsuki has no doubt half the rumours about said sessions were complete fabrication, because he can buy the mansion and servants but not the private show-trained dolphin hall. Still, there’s something entertaining about the Todoroki-related speculation especially, considering Todoroki’s rocky relationship with his father- the idea of Todoroki and Endeavour having family dinners in stony silence, each sitting on one end of a table the length of an Olympic swimming pool, is dear to Katsuki’s heart.

 

His one hope is that the Todorokis have connected phones in their rooms. If the past year has taught him one thing about his classmate, it was that he’s a shameless little shit- he can just picture Todoroki ‘accidentally’ placing ludicrous orders to Endeavour’s office at one in the morning, trying to blow the phone bill by calling self-help hotlines, and staunchly refusing to answer his father’s in-house calls without pretending he’d lost his number. 

 

He’s about warming up to the idea of visiting the Todoroki estate after all when Todoroki himself grabs hold of his shoulder. Katsuki goes to shake him off, annoyed by how tightly he’s gripping on to him, but his remonstrance dies off when he sees Todoroki’s face.

 

“It’s happening again,” Todoroki manages, through gritted teeth. The pallor from the previous night is back with a vengeance, and Todoroki’s eyes are alarmingly glassy. Katsuki glances around rapidly before dragging Todoroki away from the bus line, the latter’s obedient stumbling more worrying than the way he looks.

 

“What is?”

 

Todoroki exhales through his nose, breath icy. “I’m not sure. It seems to be happening sporadically every day. I think it’s a symptom of being out of time. My body isn’t equipped for me.”

 

“You think it’s just you, or T- the other Todoroki as well?” Katsuki asks, sharply, peering critically at him. Whatever this is- some kind of weird fever, by the looks of it- seems to emerge with disturbing speed, sweat beading and his classmate’s features waxy.

 

“I would assume both,” Todoroki rasps, closing his eyes before steeling himself some. “Though I would think it worse on this side, considering humans are accustomed to going forwards in time and not so accustomed to going back.”

 

“Was it this bad yesterday?” Katsuki asks, feeling vaguely angry at the thought of Todoroki fucking off from the common rooms only to collapse in a heap once he got to his dorm. Todoroki shakes his head.

 

“It feels worse. But it got about to this point, maybe a bit further. I just slept it off.” 

 

“Should have gone to Recovery Girl straight away, moron,” Katsuki snaps, further irritated when Todoroki smiles at that. 

 

“Yes, doctor.”

 

“Don’t act smart with me, fucker,” Katsuki bristles, looking around for some sign of the damn bus. “You need to get back to UA, and I’m not waiting around for fucking public transportation. Don’t you have a driver or some shit?”

 

“I’m upper class, not a millionaire,” Todoroki snorts. “That said, I think I had stolen several of my father’s credit cards around this age, so we can probably get an Uber.” 

 

“From here to UA? That’s a big fucking bill,” Katsuki says, not keen on Endeavour showing up to cremate him for bankruptcy the moment they set foot at school. Not that he’s scared of the guy, though. He just seems like the type to go berserk while Katsuki is lugging his useless offspring through the gates. 

 

“He’ll survive,” Todoroki says, thumbing inefficiently at his phone. “How do you use this thing?”

 

“Give here,” Katsuki huffs, ordering the car as Todoroki leans more heavily on his shoulder. They’re attracting looks from the queue, and seeing as his face was plastered all over everyone’s damn screen for about a month a year ago and Todoroki’s practically a minor celebrity in his own rights at this point, it won’t be long before some asshole starts snapping pictures. The last thing he wants is for some shitty gossip rag to start hypothesising as to what Katsuki is doing out of school with Todoroki hanging off him like a rag doll. 

 

He can see the headlines now: dangerous delinquent Katsuki Bakugou kidnaps and drugs the nation’s sweetheart. Some quack psychiatrist writing a think piece about how the kidnapping has affected his psyche and he’s lashing out. 

 

He hands Todoroki his phone back irately. “Stop flopping on me like a dead fish!” 

 

“Sorry,” Todoroki says, straining to stand. His hair is starting to stick to his forehead. Katsuki staunchly resists checking his temperature. “Time travel is massively overrated.”

 

As long as his hands are off him, Katsuki’s willing to indulge his shitty conversational attempts. “Must be fucking weird to see everyone so young. Even the teachers.” 

 

“It is,” Todoroki nods, managing to open his eyes properly in emphasis. “You’re all still children. I didn’t feel so small when I was your age.”

 

“M not a child,” Katsuki bites, though he’s curious. “Everyone change their looks up a lot in the next couple of years, then?”

 

Todoroki smiles crookedly. “Well, we all grew up, for one. Growth spurts and all that. Lot more muscles, generally speaking. Hairstyle changes.”

 

“As long as Mineta’s not some pretty boy in the future.”

 

“Never,” Todoroki promises, convincingly. “He aged like bad wine.”

 

“The fuck’s bad wine?”

 

Todoroki hums in thought. “Vinegar.”

 

It forces a laugh out of Katsuki, who turns away to avoid Todoroki’s pleased beam. Older Todoroki emotes too much. 

 

Not to mention he seems to have pulled a 180 from the indifferent superiority he usually shows Katsuki- or used to, maybe. He’ll begrudgingly admit Todoroki’s not exactly who he was at the start of first year. The classic Deku effect, that. No doubt this Todoroki is still best friends with Deku, too, and has blossomed into an absolute sweetheart who expresses his emotions healthily and befriends small children.

 

The thought makes Katsuki faintly nauseous. It had been funny when Camie had pulled her glamour stunt with the kids, Todoroki the anime pretty boy, but mostly because it was so out of character. Not that Katsuki likes his Todoroki, per se, but he’s vaguely respectable, even if he is intolerable. He’s not sure he could stomach a Todoroki who wasn’t such an socially stunted passive-aggressive jackass all the time.

 

Fuck, he has got to stop thinking of Utsushimi by her first name. She does not deserve the status. It’s not like they’re even close- if he was going to deign to call anyone by name it’d be Kirishima. She’s just so hard to take seriously by surname. 

 

“What brand car are we looking for, anyway?” Katsuki demands, craning his neck to look around. Todoroki sways vaguely guiltily. 

 

“I don’t- know cars.” 

 

God. Maybe he shouldn’t have worried too much about Todoroki becoming a tolerable person. He’s halfway through grabbing the phone to check (it’s a fucking Buick, because apparently all Uber drivers are contractually obligated to be berserk yuppies with foreign cars) when Todoroki makes a little wounded noise that is definitely not in the Todoroki repertoire. He even looks annoyed at having made it, which is gratifyingly Todoroki, but the mere occurrence is enough to raise alarm bells.

 

“Do not fucking pass out,” Katsuki warns, a little helplessly. 

 

Todoroki passes out. 

 

Katsuki dives to grab him with all the intensity of a mid-combat tackle, Todoroki disturbingly loose-limbed under his hands. There is absolutely no way the whole gaggle of people around them isn’t staring, but his attention is a little caught up in hauling Todoroki to his feat. He doesn’t weigh much compared to his gauntlets, at least- Katsuki still fondly recalls the time Deku almost dislocated his shoulder in first year trying to use his gauntlet against him. 

 

Of course, because the universe thinks its sense of irony and comedic timing is stellar, the damn Buick rounds the corner just as Katsuki is trying to figure out how he’s supposed to hold someone up while touching them the least he possibly can. Todoroki’s like a head taller than he is; Katsuki’s got a death grip on the back of his head and one halfway down his back, and it’s only through superhuman effort that he somehow manages to plant a foot for balance and lean back hard to snarl at the onlookers. The inevitable guy with his phone out drops it to the pavement.

 

It smashes. Katsuki smiles with his teeth. 

 

The Buick pulls up with an obnoxious screech, window rolling down slowly. 

 

“Enji Todoroki?” 

 

“That’s me,” Katsuki says, and stares the guy down until he slowly reaches to unlock the door. 

 

Shoving a passed out Todoroki into an Uber like he’s the exasperated bodyguard and Todoroki’s the debauched prodigy child gone wrong stumbling out of a club at some ungodly hour of the morning was not high on Katsuki’s list of priorities for his life. Doing this while Todoroki’s head lolls against his shoulder and the Uber driver looks at him like he’s considering calling the cops ranks somewhere beneath allowing Kaminari and Ashido to style him on this list.

 

“You go to UA?” Buick douchebag asks, in a tone that conveys the fact he does not believe Katsuki is educated past middle school but also doesn’t trust that the shitty little car divider will save him if he makes this too obvious. 

 

“None of your damn business.”

 

They drive in silence for a bit, Todoroki stirring a little every so often. Katsuki tries to sit him up by himself, but there’s something so pathetic in the way he crumples against the window that he yanks him back towards him. It’s just practical, in case he starts convulsing or some shit.

 

Todoroki sighs softly against his neck. Katsuki nearly blows up the backseat. 

 

“Hey,” the fucking driver says, because apparently his head is so far up his ass he keeps forgetting that he’s scared of him, “Aren’t you that kid from TV?”

 

Katsuki’s nostrils flare. “Matter of fact, I am.” 

 

“The one the villains took, right?” 

 

“That’s me,” Katsuki grits out, and waits. 

 

“You had the, what was it, uh-” 

 

Buick guy falters; Katsuki watches with profound satisfaction as he remembers, then goes as white as the shitty redone leather seats of the Uber. 

 

“Explosions?” Katsuki asks, as damn politely as possible. Todoroki hums against his shoulder.

 

They reach UA in an impressively short amount of time. 

 

Todoroki’s fever seems to have broken by the time they get out, no longer unconscious but not quite aware of his surroundings; Katsuki kicks the door open and Todoroki manages to stumble after him, holding onto his shirt sleeve like a toddler. The Uber drives away with screeching tires- Katsuki has half a moment to feel like he’s handled the whole mess spectacularly well, all things considered. 

 

“Katsuki,” Todoroki mumbles, nudging him. Katsuki goes to tell him to stop with the damn first names, only as it turns out Todoroki is actually being helpful, because the UA alarms are blaring, lights are flashing, and three different pro heroes are looking at them with deathly calm expressions. 

 

“Motherfucker,” Katsuki says. Todoroki sighs.

Chapter Text

 

It takes little time for Shouto to find his bearings upon awakening; his first thought is that his head doesn’t hurt, and from there he sits up, touches his forehead, finds it cool. 

 

It’s later than he’d awoken the past few days. When he checks his phone he finds it past nine, and his stomach drops a little with unidentifiable anxiety. Bakugou will be at work, surely- and Midoriya is coming to meet with him at some point, though he can’t remember if he was ever given a time. 

 

He tumbles out of bed hastily, shaking his hair out and grabbing some clothes haphazardly. If he’s to meet yet another future version of his classmates, he’d rather he be prepared for it. God only knows what Midoriya the elder looks like. 

 

The apartment feels bigger in Bakugou’s absence, like it had been when he’d first explored it. In the kitchen he finds aggressively yellow sticky notes stuck to almost every cabinet, in Bakugou’s oddly tidy scrawl, warning him off touching anything inside and instructing him to get his breakfast from the oven instead of burning down the kitchen trying to cook for himself. Shouto opens one cabinet just to be contrary, half-expecting a grenade to hit him for it, but there’s an actual hot breakfast awaiting him in the oven, which makes him retrospectively feel like a child being pointlessly difficult to his overworked parents. 

 

The parental analogy with Bakugou is extremely disturbing. Shouto reminds himself sternly that he has been an angelic child when it comes to his scumbag father, and that if anyone he knows can be called a pointlessly difficult child, it is Bakugou.

 

He entertains himself by watching bad reality TV reruns, engrossed by the mind-numbing boredom engendered by sitting around watching an average-looking American man hand out roses to a number of smiling women who all seem to have perfect teeth and murder in their eyes. The man’s quirk seems to be something harmless like glamour, but the women all have strangely intimidating resumés. He begins to suspect the whole romantic scenario is a cover for a government recruitment scheme.

 

The doorbell buzzes once when Shouto is starting to get perhaps too absorbed, startling him from his seat on the couch. In typical Midoriya fashion, he waits an admirable amount of time before buzzing again, so that his second buzz coincides with Shouto swinging the door open. 

 

“Hello,” Shouto says, determined, before the door is even fully open. A solid strategy on his part, as he is immediately struck dumb.

 

“Hey!” a man with green hair says, smiling vaguely anxiously. Shouto blinks once. 

 

Bakugou, while changed, is still extremely identifiable as Bakugou. Midoriya not so much. He seems to have finally hit his growth spurt, which Shouto had observed in the group picture but not registered- he’s not as tall as Shouto by a bit, and he’s not sure where he stands next to Bakugou, but he’s a far cry from the tiny Midoriya Shouto knows. The height has come with muscles; Midoriya is no All Might, thankfully (the mental image is scarring), but he’s lean, compact, like if Shouto punched his stomach he’d crack a finger. His hair is longer, all but a few rebellious curls tucked back by a hairband. 

 

The biggest change is something else, though, maybe something internal. Midoriya’s face is still recognisably his, though far more adult- gone are the baby cheeks and colossal eyes; even his freckles are more evenly spread, skin presumably darkened by the American sun. But there’s a set to his shoulders, a straightening to his spine, a glint to his eye, like he’s no longer bent inwards with the great pressure of his own expectations, or maybe like he’s actually met them. 

 

For a moment, Shouto is paralysed, not with an onslaught of want but with trepidation, half profound fear, half immense joy. This is who Midoriya becomes, having overcome it all- the person lurking in his eyes when he’d first cornered Shouto at the tournament, the person in plain sight every time his quirk courses through his body. He seems hopelessly adult.

 

“Shouto?” Midoriya asks, shoulders hunching with worry. Shouto breathes more easily. 

 

“Sorry. Come in. Thank you for coming.”

 

“Ah, it’s no big deal!” Midoriya waves away, hand flapping rapidly; Shoto is overwhelmed with affectionate relief. “I hope everything is okay? Kacchan wasn’t exactly forthcoming, but he said it was urgent.” He pauses. “Well. He didn’t say it, but it was heavily implied. By swearing.”

 

He speaks about Bakugou with more ease than Shouto has ever heard. For a moment he wants to sit him down and ask how it is Bakugou has become whatever the hell he is. 

 

“I’m all right,” Shouto says, instead, because he is. “But I do have a problem. I’m not sure how to talk about it.”

 

They sit down by the table; Shouto puts the kettle on. It’s electric. He wonders if his future self consciously bought it. 

 

“Is it to do with Friday?” Midoriya asks, hanging his coat up on the chair. “I mean, I know you said it wasn’t-”

 

“It is,” Shouto confirms. “I was aware I’d been touched by a quirk, though I managed to counter it as it hit. As nothing had occurred come Saturday night I assumed it had passed without effect, or perhaps come and gone. Unfortunately, it seems simply to have been delayed. It started affecting me on Sunday.”

 

Midoriya’s eyebrows shoot up in alarm. “It’s been going on since Sunday? That’s a long time!” 

 

“Yes,” Shouto says, folding his hands together. “It’s not painful, or anything. But Ba- Katsuki thinks it’ll probably get worse the longer it goes uncured, so.” 

 

“Right,” Midoriya mutters, frowning with worry. His hand shoots out to grasp Shouto’s, comfortingly. “Man. Okay. Kacchan said you wanted me to help figure out what kind of quirk it was?” 

 

“It’s rare, I think,” Shouto agrees, distracted by the hand-holding. Midoriya’s hands are warm, almost as calloused as Bakugou’s; his scars span criss-crossed up to his elbows where his sweater ends. “I assumed you would be best placed to analyse it.”

 

Midoriya smiles sheepishly, releasing his hand to rub at his neck. “Thanks. I’ll do my best.” His eyes grow intent when he looks back, the manic focus often found in his demented quirk-related mutterings creeping into his expression. “So, this quirk…?”

 

“It seems to be time-warping,” Shouto explains, trying to use appropriate language. “Which is very rare, as I understand.”

 

“You mean it alters the properties of time? That’s-” Midoriya seems to vibrate with excitement, though he appears to suppress it somewhat guiltily when he recalls why the topic has arisen. “I mean- yes, that’s very rare. I can only think of- wow, maybe two people with quirks like this…” 

 

Unlike Shouto’s Midoriya, he seems to have learnt to translate his wild muttering into actual words. “Do you remember how we learnt about quirk types in school? Mutants, transformers, emitters?”

 

“Like it was yesterday.”

 

“Right- transformers tend to only be able to cause temporary body alterations, whereas emitters bring something into existence, affecting some aspect of the world.” He scrunches his nose. “It’s very rare for there to be an overlap- people who affect some aspect of the world in a transformative way. You’d have to affect matter itself, or some other universal state.”

 

Shouto ponders this. “Something like Mirio phasing through matter?”

 

“That sort of works, yes,” Midoriya nods, enthusiastic. “Or Thirteen, who can make black holes. Even a quirk like mine.”

 

“Right.”

 

His companion seems to miss the tone, frowning in thought. “The thing is, though, I know of people who can affect space, or void, I guess, even something more vague like creation- but time? Most people with quirks to do with time really have control over something else, like matter or mind.” 

 

“You don’t think it’s possible for someone to really alter the laws of time?” 

 

“I do!” Midoriya exclaims, shaking his head. “I don’t think any quirk is impossible- quirks are mind-blowingly powerful. Do you ever think about how Momo could tank the economy in minutes if she wanted to? There are probably kids out there who could reverse the polarity of the Earth!”

 

“Reassuring.”

 

“I just think if someone did have a time-altering quirk, it’d be hard to recognise as such. They’d be more likely to be classified under another category. Like, if I could age someone’s body fifty years in a second, it might look more like some powerful killing attack than altering their existence,” Midoriya says, rubbing his hands together. “So it might be a start to look for quirks that seem slightly misclassified.” 

 

Shouto slides his phone out of his pocket, noting the alarming number of notifications as he does. “We can do that now, if you’re up for it.”

 

“Of course,” Midoriya nods. Once Shouto hands him the device, database thankfully still open from the previous night’s research, his fingers fly quickly over the keyboard, doubtless engineering some extremely specific detective-type filtering of suspects. 

 

Having stopped regarding him with unnecessary caution, Shouto finds himself distracted again. Adult Midoriya’s not exactly hard on the eyes, especially sitting comfortably near him, stray strands of hair curling softly to frame his face. The word ‘dreamy’ comes to mind, like the type of guy who stars in the Netflix original romantic comedies that someone always watches in the common rooms. Shouto doesn’t know how he feels about the alarming rate at which his vocabulary has expanded specifically to qualify attractive men. 

 

Midoriya is at least not the walking heart attack that Bakugou is, which is sort of a relief because Shouto doesn’t think he could take it if all his future classmates made him have minor seizures every time he looked at them. Alternatively, this is a damning condemnation of Shouto’s tastes, but he’s trying very hard not to dwell on that, for his dignity’s sake. 

 

“What exactly would this time-warp involve?” Midoriya asks, jolting Shouto out of his Bakugou-related reverie. Not reverie- nightmare. He contemplates Midoriya.

 

“Let’s say it displaces people.”

 

“In time?” 

 

The cogs turning are almost audible. Shouto looks gamely at him. “Yes.”

 

“Ah,” Midoriya says, and returns to the phone. After a moment, not looking up: “Kacchan says you’re getting lunch together, by the way. He’s just texted.”

 

“Oh. Has he said where?”

 

“Uh, didn’t- oh, he just texted again. He’ll pick you up.” His lips twitch. “He says not to extend the invitation.” 

 

“That’s rude,” Shouto notes. Midoriya just grins a little.

 

“He also says ‘get off the phone, Deku’, so.” 

 

“How does he even know that?” Shouto asks, disbelieving. Midoriya shakes his head.

 

“I feel like he just has a sixth sense that tells him what I’m doing at all times. Which will be useful if I’m ever kidnapped or forced into marriage, but has not been very convenient to me thus far.” 

 

It’s said with good humour. Shouto cannot recall Midoriya joking about Bakugou even once, not in a year and a half of class- it’s only over the past six months he’s ever started to talk about him at all. 

 

It must show on his face, because Midoriya’s smile fades, and his gaze turns inquisitive. Shouto looks away. 

 

“Has he’s said what time he’s coming by?”

 

“No, but I assume within the next thirty minutes. It’s around lunch time at work, I think.” 

 

“Then we should probably have some leads,” Shouto says, meeting Midoriya’s earnest eyes. “Or face a tantrum.”

 

His friend stifles a laugh. “Wise words. I may have something, but it’s not exactly what the brief was.”

 

“Anything will do,” Shouto says, leaning in curiously as Midoriya shifts so they can both see the screen. 

 

“There’s no one with a record whose quirk matches what you said. I’m not surprised, cause like I said- if there was someone written down with time warping powers, it’d be news. What I did find, though, are these guys.” He gestures to the screen. “All of them have very weird quirk descriptions- the kind of descriptions I’d expect if you had a quirk no one had heard of and couldn’t quite categorise.”

 

There are only a handful of names; Shouto peers at the mugshots, half expecting to recognise a face. “You narrowed it down this far? That’s incredible.”

 

“Ah, it was nothing, Shouto,” Midoriya smiles, flushing. “Like I said, it’s a rare quirk. Not many effects could be attributed to it.”

 

“Still,” Shouto says. Izuku Midoriya, eternally present to help fix his messes. Some part of him wants to weep and shake his hand feverishly.

 

The door slams open with no decorum, making Midoriya jump like he’s all of fifteen years old and Shouto stir laconically and raise a hand.

 

“Hey.”

 

Midoriya exhales shakily; Shouto instinctively smiles at him as he turns in his chair to greet the incoming blonde. “Hey, Kacchan!”

 

“Quit it with the Kacchan,” Bakugou retorts, which sounds more like a greeting than a threat. He spares Shouto a nod. “Someone’s looking sprightly.”

 

“I woke up like this,” Shouto replies, seriously. “How was work?”

 

“Pointless,” Bakugou grumbles, leaning against the wall to stare down at them. “Tell me you’ve gotten somewhere.” 

 

Shouto waves his phone. “Izuku managed to find us a shortlist of suspects.” 

 

“It was no big deal.”

 

“Figures your obsessive research would come in useful a some point,” Bakugou snorts, though he gestures for the phone, frowning at the group. “So one of these clowns is the guilty party?”

 

“I think so,” Midoriya nods, leaning in to point. “All of their quirks are described in odd ways that could correspond to your guy, from an outsider perspective.” 

 

“Coma inducement with schizoid consequences,” Bakugou reads off, frowning. “What, you think that’s really someone being sent back into another life and going crazy on return?” 

 

The sight of them unthinkingly putting their heads together is fundamentally strange. Shouto fights the temptation to pat them. 

 

“Yeah, exactly, only they’d be unable to describe it,” Midoriya agrees. Bakugou leans back with a thoughtful scowl. 

 

“Guess that makes sense.”

 

“Are you joining us for lunch, Midoriya?” Shouto asks, resting his chin on his palm. 

 

“Are you cooking?” Bakugou demands, unimpressed. Midoriya only shakes his head.

 

“Ah, I’d love to, but I should actually get going. I’m supposed to be getting some work visits in before the gala tomorrow.” He actually looks put off by this. “I really wanted to eat at yours at some point. There’s nowhere in America that makes good Japanese like Kacchan.”

 

“Course not, Americans can’t cook,” Bakugou scoffs, though Shouto thinks he looks faintly pleased. “All Might’ll go anaemic if he has to depend on you for food.”

 

“I wouldn’t let him get ill!” Midoriya protests, though he falters. “He does have a weird penchant for junk food, I gotta say. Must be something in his metabolism.”

 

“Fucking great, so he’ll get diabetes instead?” Bakugou rolls his eyes hard. 

 

“Are you excited to go back?” Shouto asks, before some inane argument can arise. It’s clear that even a cordial Bakugou and Midoriya derive great pleasure from arguing ceaselessly about nothing in particular. 

 

“Sort of,” Midoriya says, pensive. “It’s been really exciting, and being with All Might in all the places he went when he was our age is super special. And I’ve never been abroad before!”

 

“We heard,” Bakugou interrupts, darkly. “For several hours. Drunkenly.”

 

“Saturday was not my fault,” Midoriya responds, somewhat accusingly. “And I was excited to see you two again!” 

 

“So were we,” Shouto says, which he has no memory of but feels is true anyways. Bakugou makes a face at him.

 

“Anyways, yes, I am excited to go back, but I’m really glad to be home, even for a while. Everything is so different over there, and they talk so fast and loud- and you guys are all over here! It feels like I’m missing out on so much.” Midoriya’s smile grows challenging. “And I don’t like how the rankings look when I’m not around. Too easy on you two.”

 

“Yeah, keep talking,” Bakugou snorts, cracking his neck. “We know you fucked off because you were about to drop out of the top, shithead.”

 

“Blatant lies!” Midoriya, but he laughs when Shouto raises a brow at him. “Seriously, though, I have to head. Ochako will kill me if I leave her to handle the press alone.” 

 

Bakugou makes a whipping sound. Midoriya goes pink, pulling a face as he rises. 

 

“I hope things get solved fast with this guy, anyways. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do- and I hope you’re doing okay. You are, right?” 

 

He’s standing with his jacket half-on, all earnest eyes and suppressed curiosity. It’s a familiar sight.

 

“I’m fine, Izuku,” Shouto says, fond. “Or I will be. Thank you.”

 

“Okay,” Midoriya nods, serious like he takes his word for it. “But if you aren’t- you know I’m here for anything.”

 

“Touching,” Bakugou says. 

 

Midoriya’s frown recedes into something more vaguely exasperated, vaguely endeared. “I’ll see you tomorrow, unless you’re retained at the door all evening.” 

 

“What, with the mighty Midoriya in town?” 

 

“I couldn’t match up to the nation’s power couple if I tried,” Midoriya salutes, and proceeds to get chased out under duress. 

 

“Little prick,” Bakugou grouses, once he’s shut the door. “How many days is it until he leaves the country?”

 

Lunch goes by rapidly from there. Shouto attempts to offer his aid, almost cuts his finger on a blunt knife, and gets relegated to pouring drinks, ‘if he can manage’. Bakugou manages to put together a meal in about the time Shouto takes to do this. 

 

They don’t talk for a while, Bakugou reading over the criminal profiles and Shouto trying to place the foreign feeling lodged in his gut. He feels jumpy. The emotion has been dormant all morning, but it’s now that they’re alone again that it has free reign, no Midoriya-shaped distractions left. 

 

He recalls the previous night with embarrassing clarity, now that the fever has left him. Not the details, necessarily, but the brusque efficiency with which Bakugou had looked after him, and his confused ramblings before he fell asleep. This is his coworker, for all intents and purposes, an ex-classmate turned temporary roommate- a temporary roommate who lives on the couch but has clothes in the bedroom wardrobe and knows the kitchen like the back of his hand. 

 

It is all a little much. The nation’s power couple, Izuku had said. Clearly a joke, even just by tone- but it sticks, Shouto’s mind spiralling. Bakugou, him and Midoriya getting together for drinks, hosting dinners, apparently. 

 

Everyone keeps addressing them as a unit. Never has his useless socially stunted childhood seemed more frustrating than now, as he tries to decide whether this is normal for two old classmates who share a living space. 

 

“You look like you’re having a stroke,” Bakugou says. Shouto almost chokes on his lunch. 

 

“I’m just- thinking.”

 

“Shocker, that.” 

 

He wishes fervently Bakugou wasn’t looking at him while he was having this particular crisis. It is not helpful in the slightest. 

 

“You’re not ill again, are you?” Bakugou demands, looming over him to see; Shouto stays still with great effort, decisively not managing to shake the thoughts plaguing him. “If so, shit’s getting worse way faster than anticipated.”

 

“I’m not ill,” Shouto grits out, though he feels it a little, chest heaving unnecessarily and face heating. He needs to get a grip. Where is that repressed composure when you need it?

 

Bakugou sits back heavily and stares at him, then looks away, frown pronounced; he toys with a chopstick for a second.

 

“If you want to tell Deku you should, you know. Probably figured it out by now.”

 

“What?” Shouto asks, disoriented but somewhat relieved by the complete shift of his focus. 

 

Bakugou’s shoulders hunch slightly; his tone is very neutral when he speaks again. “Makes shit easier for all of us. You could- work with him. On this.”

 

What, Shouto almost asks again. He feels very slow. Surely Bakugou isn’t trying to push him off to Midoriya. Unless he’s sick of him? If they are really accidental roommates, Bakugou’s spent days babysitting him; it makes sense he’s trying to pass him on to someone who actually cares. Guilty, confused relief hits him, a convenient stopper to his jumbled thoughts; this feels more like real life, not some inexplicable alternate universe where he can’t wrap his mind around anything. 

 

Under the relief sits something embarrassingly wounded.

 

“You think that’s a good idea?”

 

Bakugou looks a second away from snapping something like since when have I ever thought Deku was a viable alternative to me you absolute fucker, but he reins it in. “You’re friends, aren’t you?”

 

It’s something tight around his eyes that gives him away.

 

Oh no, Shouto thinks. Bakugou isn’t shunting him off out of annoyance. Bakugou is shunting him off because he thinks Shouto regrets being stuck with Bakugou, and is a lot more comfortable with Midoriya, who he is actually friends with in his own life. Bakugou is being considerate of his feelings, and worst of all, he’s not even right. 

 

“We live together,” Shouto says, because he has to say something and it seems safer than anything else he’s about to blurt out. “I’m not going to move out of my own place. And I wouldn’t kick you out. So it’s better if I stay.”

 

It is a terrible excuse, but he considers it an achievement that he can still speak Japanese, at this stage. His heart is still pounding with this terrible, confused something.

 

“Suit yourself,” Bakugou says, suspiciously enough, but he apparently is also less prone to bottling his emotions up until he explodes, because he glowers at a spot just above Shouto’s eyes and says: “If it’s not moping about Deku- what is it?”

 

“I,” Shouto says. Bakugou thinks he’s been sitting in increasingly panicked silence because he resented being stuck with him- which he has been, sort of, but definitely not in the way Bakugou thinks, only he doesn’t know what way it is beyond that. “There’s just- some things I don’t… Understand.”

 

Bakugou groans in exasperation. “Damnit, Todoroki, if there’s some shit wrong you have to tell me, I don’t fucking care what it is. You can’t lie for shit, just spit it out.”

 

Shouto’s expression must reflect how unappealing that option sounds, because Bakugou growls and yanks him closer over the table, looking more like his younger self than he has thus far. 

 

“If you’ve got a problem with me we’ll do something about it, but don’t get stuck in the future permanently because you’re too damn stubborn to-“

 

“I don’t have a problem with you!” Shouto retorts, trying to make it clear how stupid that idea is, except mortifyingly he stutters over the last few words, like his body has decided to helpfully punctuate the sentiment. Bakugou stares, long, and then his expression very slowly shifts, something bright and dangerous-looking emerging in his eyes. 

 

His hand is still loosely fisted in Shouto’s shirt.

 

“Would it terribly inconvenience you to let go of me,” Shouto asks. 

 

Bakugou does, looking very unfazed and perhaps somewhat amused, like he sees that incomprehensible dread Shouto’s been struggling with and understands it better than he does. 

 

Miraculously, his phone rings. 

 

“Ground Zero,” Bakugou answers, dropping the attitude immediately. “Hey. You good?” 

 

Shouto fidgets as Bakugou frowns. “Yeah, fine. You need it now?” More inaudible noise. “Be there in fifteen. Don’t pull some dumb shit in the meantime.”

 

“Who was it?” Shouto asks, on his feet too, just because he feels aimless standing around while Bakugou starts pulling equipment out of his sports bag. 

 

“Shitty hair,” Bakugou says, shucking his hoodie off and pulling his winter jacket on. It still has the same design with the high collar. “There’s been some kind of big nature-type bullshit near the observation deck. Needs backup.”

 

“Kirishima lives in Tokyo too?” Shouto asks, heading for the bedroom. “Is there anyone with him?”

 

“Yeah, some other pros, but he said this called for some high-intensity input. The fuck are you doing?”

 

Shouto turns; Bakugou’s all but ready, hands on his hips in the doorframe. “Getting suited up.”

 

“You are not coming with me.”

 

“I’m high-intensity input.”

“You’re a kid, you have no idea what high-intensity is, dumbass,” Bakugou snaps, grabbing his arm when Shouto resolutely ignores him to zip his collar up. “You’re staying here, understood?”

 

He storms off to get his gauntlets and mask on; Shouto stubbornly pulls his boots on and follows. “I’m not just letting you and Kirishima go off and put yourselves in danger while I sit around doing nothing.”

 

“You’ll put everyone in danger by being on the scene, let alone trying to help.”

 

“I’ve defeated villains before,” Shouto mutters, setting his jaw. “I handled Stain fine in first year- held of the League last year- you and me took care of that villain after we got our licenses-”

 

“Not the same,” Bakugou retorts, snapping a finger by his ear. “You can barely control your fire yet.”

 

“Then I’ll do backup!”

 

“Like hell you- fuck it, I don’t have time for this,” Bakugou scowls, grabbing his arms hard enough to bruise. “You do exactly as I say, understood? I don’t care if you’re a sixteen year old who thinks he’s hot shit and doesn’t listen to authority- if you step out of line I’ll take you out myself, got it?”

 

“Fine,” Shouto snaps. 

 

“Fine!”

 

They rush out of the apartment; Shouto half expects to go by train, but as soon as they’re on the streets Bakugou is up in the air, sprinting up the side of a building in a burst of orange. Shouto determinedly follows suit, ice sending him rapidly upwards and onwards as they race down the busy Tokyo streets. In a way it reminds him of their race at the tournament, before Midoriya had outsmarted them, but there are so many people, and the buildings are so tall. Far below there is commotion, flashes of light and exclamation, but he doesn’t spare them his time, too intent on matching Bakugou’s dizzying pace. 

 

At the speed they’re going Bakugou looks almost like he’s flying, which he tends to do when he’s going fast- his boosts are rapid and precise, making his movements seem fluid and uninterrupted as he vaults over the top of buildings. The altitude is skyrocketing as they go; Shouto looks down once or twice and almost topples off just in surprise. He’s never been up a skyscraper before.

 

“This way!” Bakugou hollers, at a certain point, somersaulting into the nothingness beneath them; Shouto blindly follows suit, ice slick against the windows, his only tether before gravity takes over.

 

There are suddenly police helicopters overhead- one tilts to shout at them, sounding encouraging; noise, loud and set apart from the usual city life, reaches them in bursts, like a low bass thrumming at a concert. 

 

He pushes forwards to gain on Bakugou so that they both stop on the same ledge. Bakugou casts him a rapid, appraising look.

 

“Stick behind me when he get closer- and go for the civilians. This isn’t like practice, all right?”

 

His tone is brash, which Shouto is almost more accepting of than if he’d tried to sound nice about it. He trusts his own abilities, but these are professionals, and lives are at stake.

 

They descend little by little, a trail of ice and fire, until the noise is suddenly overpowering, sirens and alarms a high-pitched whine over the chaos, the air thick with panic and screaming. Here lights flash everywhere, helicopters swarming in like a flock of birds; Shouto can see the observation deck, for the first time in his life. He doesn’t have much time to appreciate the touristic value, considering the ground around it seems to be bursting at the seams- it looks like an earthquake, cement rippling easily, buildings tilting and starting to crumble, large masses of people straining in all directions. 

 

“Down!” Bakugou yells, as something white and flashy spins their way. They drop a floor, and whatever misses them causes a colossal amount of noise. “There in the middle-“

 

There in the middle the action seems thickest, a figure in white Shouto does not recognise volleying what seems to be light beams in all directions and something that looks like a very large wild boar charging into the twisting tree at the centre of the commotion. The tree, Shouto realises as they weave their way closer, is not a tree, but their villain, limbs like roots rising through metal and stone to shake the earth. 

 

“It’s almost like Kamui Woods,” Shouto notes, loudly, into Bakugou’s ear. The blonde nods sharply.

 

“With less flexibility and more raw strength. Stay in the air, looks like the quirk grows stronger the closer to earth it is.”

 

The top of the building to their right abruptly crumbles further, great blocks of cement hurtling towards stray civilians at such a speed Shouto is entirely sure he’s about to witness a bloodbath- but there is a great snapping noise and a lot of smoke instead, and Bakugou curses, launching himself off his perch to torpedo towards the dust cloud. 

 

Shouto follows, skating after him; Bakugou has blasted clean through half a floor’s worth of debris by the time he catches up, landing loudly on the ground next to- 

 

Ah, Kirishima. Shouto’s pulse, already rapid with adrenalin and nerves, goes shaky, realisation sinking in that his sunny classmate can withstand part of an apartment. 

 

Sure enough, as the debris clears, the shielding stops gently, and there is a flash of red by Shouto’s side, Kirishima straightening with a wince. His quirk looks less like the rocky surface it usually does and more like a human-shaped super-metal of some kind, alien and unbreakable; he looks big, like he could take another building. 

 

“You came!” Kirishima exclaims, grin breaking through the hard planes of his face, and he is suddenly recognisable, eyes focused but kind. “And you’re early.”

 

“What’s urgent?” Bakugou asks, reappearing in front of them and surveying Kirishima critically. To Shouto he looks disturbingly unscathed, but Bakugou appears to think otherwise, frowning warningly at him.

 

“This building,” Kirishima notes, rapid-fire, as he turns to strain against another falling wall. “Though we could handle it if someone else could take her. Foreign villain, apparently, I got called in last minute. The tower’s a big one- the city’s really keen on not losing it.”

 

“I assume you’ve gotten the crowds under control?”

 

“I’ve been trying, but there’s still a group trapped between here and the observation deck,” Kirishima explains, intent and worried; the building seems to be holding up. “The villain is dangerous, and the other two are just about managing to keep her in check. I couldn’t stray too far.”

 

“Get the others to clear the people out, and tell Delight to bar off access behind us. It’ll mean no one can reach us from the other side, but it also means no further infrastructure damage. You and Beast can monitor further collapses while the tree freak is handled.” He pauses. “Quirk?”

 

“Slower than she looks, but she hits hard,” Kirishima notes, just as the ground trembles dangerously. “The thing is, she’s mainly been fending off attacks- I think she’s trying to swallow up the observation deck from underneath, and the fight up here is just to win her time.”

 

“So we better put a stop to it before the whole fucking square caves in,” Bakugou grunts. “Weaknesses?”

 

“For all intents and purposes, she gets her force from the earth- and I think her body is the same.”

 

“Flammable,” Bakugou says, eyes glinting. “We’ll take her. Reconvene in ten.”

 

There are screams from the crowd; Kirishima takes off without another word, like he knows without asking what the plan is. Shouto is not so well-versed in Bakugou, so he just looks.

 

“Fuck,” Bakugou says, eyes widening behind the mask for an instant before narrowing again. “I almost forgot who you were.”

 

“Flammable,” Shouto echoes, heart lodged in his throat and hands practically vibrating with unspent energy. “I won’t do anything stupid, Bakugou.”

 

“Stay far out of reach,” Bakugou allows, glaring, “And if I say fall back, do it instantly, no matter if I say it while I’m being dragged into the depths of hell, got it?”

 

He nods unwillingly. 

 

“Then let’s go kick some ass.”

 

Who Shouto assumes is Beast passes them by as they throw themselves into the fray, wild boar gone and replaced with an oversized eagle hoisting several grown adults over a newly creates crevice. The closer to the tree, the larger the cracks- when he glimpses downward, it looks almost like it drops into the centre of the earth. Destiny barely catches sight of them before saluting and taking off, beams of white extending to seal the crumbling street as she goes. 

 

The villain turns towards them from far off, gnarly branch spiking out in all directions; it crunches into a statue near them with enough force that the statue crumbles almost to dust. Shouto’s heart rate spikes, but he spins neatly upwards and out of reach. Somewhere, faintly, he can hear Kirishima yell, presumably telling his teammates what their plan is. Destiny, the one with the beams, has been instructed to put up a barrier, which is a risk, Shouto understands- safer for the general public, and limiting the danger of a wider collapse, but dangerous when it comes to the villain, because it leaves them with small numbers and no fall-back if she takes them out.

 

Perimeter, he thinks. Perhaps there is a bigger risk to be taken. 

 

He meets Bakugou’s eyes when he drops left, fleeting, and nothing is said but Shouto decides it is the sign he needs, instinctive, because he starts a slow circling around them, ice solid and thick where it rises, his usual wall molding easily to his command. 

 

Walling them in reduces their numbers to two. He has to trust Bakugou can take it.

 

When they hit the observation deck, the atmosphere feels noticeably heavier, and the branches that shoot towards them come far faster, but faster than them is Bakugou, whose two fists bear down on the branch so hard Shouto thinks it shrivels, understanding belatedly that it splits under the blast, crackling all the way to the trunk. The villain screams, or maybe roars, thrashing roots upturning the street further, but the chilling, inhuman noise doesn’t even seem to reach Bakugou, already barreling down a second time, dancing easily around a second branch to hit the base of the tree.

 

Its massive wooden limb erupts into smoke, the villain howling in rage, and Bakugou is out of reach again. Shouto is on auto-pilot, ice flowing like oxygen, crystallising shards reflecting the scene and the blue and red flashes from above so that everywhere he looks he can see this endless writhing forest and Bakugou, small and fierce and everywhere at once. 

 

A root shoots heavily out to pierce the wall, and succeeds, ice splitting under the impact and the root spreading through; Shouto digs his fingers into the wall and propels himself forward, concentrating with icy calm on the root when he lands on it. It senses the intruder, twisting with vicious intent, but he doesn’t relent, and he feels it die, in waves, winter spreading like disease as the spasming branches still. 

 

A nimbler branch swings towards him murderously; Shouto flies high, landing atop his wall, and gives chase, killing where the wood has pierced through, even as the holes multiply. He cannot look back to Bakugou, only listen, the booming sounds and raucous taunts echoing wildly within their icy confines.

 

The advancing roots slow, to his satisfaction, but it doesn’t take his mind long to hypothesise, and he instinctively dives back towards the action, finding his suspicions correct- the villain, sensing the threat, has pulled back only to divert her strength, branches converging like a swarm of bees on Bakugou, who vanishes under the mass of writhing wood. Shouto’s breath dies in his throat- he is flying through the air, burning with focus, and though the woman sees him come she cannot act upon it, because his palm is rising unbidden and ablaze to dig into her bark, hard. 

 

She screams, wood blackening and turning to ash where Shouto’s nails rake determinedly in, and there is an ominous grumble like something rising from the depths, but he can’t spare it much thought, too busy trying to burn her to the ground, marvelling in latent shock at the way his fire comes so easily.

 

He hears more than sees the threat whistling his way, rips his burning hand out of her back to dodge, which he just about achieves, a dark, thick root like something underworldly slamming heavily to the ground upon missing him. 

 

Bakugou yells from nearby, Shouto propelling himself skyward to catch a glimpse, alarmed, but his classmate seems more pissed off than scared, though this is true of Bakugou even in the direst moment. He’s escaped the incoming tide, thankfully- Shouto hopes he was distracting enough to be of some help- but the deep dark roots keep streaming upwards to nab him, and their emergence is destabilising the ground too much for Bakugou to land safely. 

 

Shouto launches himself off the wall, freezing what he can as the earth cracks; Bakugou lands just for a second, midway to his next jump, but even as he takes off again the roots all shoot towards him, and just the one manages to tie itself around his ankle. In a heartbeat he is swallowed by forestry, and Shouto hears himself cry out, the déjà vu too strong and too upsetting. No more of Bakugou vanishing into the shadows- he barrels down to the writhing roots, hair whipping around his face.

 

He knows from some bone-deep certainty that his Flashfreeze Heatwave is a more familiar attack in this body than in his own, but knowing is different than the feeling, implacable and self-sure, of the whole perimeter cooling when he does; when he heats the air expands so fast it even catches him off-guard, superheated blast coursing through the tangled mass like a match thrown into a haystack.

 

Fire courses across the devastated ground, lending to the apocalyptic nature of the scene, but Shouto does not look, eyes scanning for movement he does not detect, ears straining for a voice he can’t hear. Bakugou had been pulled under so fast- but he can’t have just gone under, there is no way- Shouto rises a bit wildly into the air, noting absently that the fiery inferno below seems to be a good job at halting any further roots from being birthed-

 

The villain is screeching at a horrible tone; Shouto whips around and pauses, mid flip, when he sees near the core of the trunk a throbbing pulse of yellow. There are words perhaps, but it sounds European, and he can’t understand her, only lands heavily on a half-intact platform to stare, poised to fight. Inside the trunk, near the roots, the pulse is growing brighter, and the villain’s branches are scrabbling to quell it, but it seems too late, too little-

 

Bakugou rips out of the tree base like a bomb in himself, ripples of latent energy destabilising Shouto where he stands; the villain sways heavily left, trunk completely unbalanced as a volley of smouldering explosions shake through the air. It looks vaguely biblical, the falling tree and its thrashing limbs surrounded by dizzying swirls of energy, roots ablaze below them. Bakugou for his part is a blur of movement, the glint of his gauntlets the only sight Shouto gets of him before he’s gone again.

 

It’s one of the more dangerous aspects of Bakugou’s attacks, in Shouto’s opinion, that he is capable of such great violence and that he vanishes in its aftermath. He remembers the sports festival- his entire wall, shattering in a great burst of energy, and not a single idea where Bakugou had gone, clouded in the smoking blaze. 

 

The villain seems to be shedding trunk, and Shouto thinks for an instant it is over, but the strange tree moves again, one big twisting movement, and finally unveils its true size, the entire pavement flying into the air to reveal the monstrous trunk. 

 

Shouto hates show-offs. 

 

He plunges swiftly downwards, just long enough to punch through an onslaught of rising branches, burning to crisps upon contact, then weaves upward again, trying to spot the villain herself where she seems to be trying to be absorbed into the trunk. He gets a glimpse before he feels something heavy hit him hard in the chest, sent flying into his own wall- he redirects midway, so that his feet hit the wall; kicks off like a swimmer might, palms held ahead, and grabs firmly hold of the branch that struck him when it tries its luck again, heat and frost coursing wildly through him into the offending limb so that it begins to splinter all the way into the trunk.

 

Not too far off Bakugou’s voice reaches his ears, that oh-so familiar AP SHOT sounding through the air like a battle cry. Shouto ducks for cover; Bakugou cries out with gleeful destruction when the whole trunk shakes from the impact. It’s far stronger than Shouto has ever seen it. He can’t imagine what it would do to a human body.

 

“SHOUTO!” Bakugou hollers, close again if just for a second. “I’m going to lure the bitch out to the deck- catch her in the neck when I do!”

 

He’s off in a heartbeat, and Shouto could throw up with the intensity of it all, sensory overload beginning to gnaw at his adrenaline-fuelled cool, but he drops low anyways, ice swirling from his every limb when he lands, so that the broken-down soil yet untouched by fire turns to wintery desolation under his feet. He can’t think straight beyond avoiding notice, the sound of his blood rushing in his ears, and somewhere high above Bakugou’s voice is taunting, the still-living roots shifting irately in his direction.

 

There is a loud flash of movement, and Shouto moves like this is second nature, leaping between jagged, collapsing chunks of the street, half-blinded by the sudden spotlight of the reporters’ helicopters. His fire bursts out of him like a colossal, well-aimed axe to the head, swinging and hitting the woman cleanly in the back of her neck. 

 

The burst of well-earned triumph he feels is depressingly short-lived. No sooner has he stopped emitting flame that he feels his sickness return with a vengeance; being midair still, he hardly has the presence of mind to control his landing, just barely sticking it instead of going spreadeagled into the abyss. His head throbs like he’s the one who took a burning axe to it; he retches for air.

 

Unwilling to slip up so late in the game, he manages to move again, steering clear of the last collapsing swathes of cement and squinting hazily upwards to make sure the villain is truly out of commission- she is, hanging limp and stunned as Bakugou plants his foot in her chest and rips her out of the gargantuan tree carcass. Shouto almost folds and sits right there.

 

He can’t pass out on live television. It feels like an eternity of swaying painfully, eyes drifting shut with the effort of staying upright, but a prickling in his neck makes them fly open in alarm, and before he can even think to run or leap away, the entire rotting trunk comes crashing heavily down towards him.

 

His flames sputter and choke, panic and wooziness costing him control, and his ice comes belatedly, enough to stay the first blow but surely not enough to withstand it-

 

Something- someone- hard and hot barrels into him with all the brute force of a punch to the stomach, Shouto’s vision going black for a moment, and there is a tremendous crash, like the end of days, but more importantly his ears pop and his body flares with scorching heat, and when he forces his eyes open once more, vision swimming, he is somewhere different altogether, slumped against Bakugou’s shoulder, the dead tree lies prone across the whole street, and there is a sizzling crater right around where he stood a minute ago.

 

“-Reckless motherfucker,” Bakugou is yelling, hoarse and furious and maybe relieved, though Shouto’s ears are ringing so hard he can only make out every other word. He stands back with tremendous effort, trying to meet Bakugou’s eyes, and the latter stops ranting, though the red gleam Shouto meets is just as irate as the yelling. 

 

“That’s incredible,” Shouto manages, kind of croaky with fever but full of conviction nonetheless. “That last - I don’t know how you did that.”

 

Bakugou’s expression contorts. His gloved hands are an anchor Shouto is unwilling to rip free of, his last means of standing upright; his suit is almost intact, minor tearing on his chest and scratches on his face. Only the scattered dirt and bloody smears even hint at the fight they were in, maybe also the sweat and the blazing glow. Shouto’s not too sure the glow is really there. His perception of reality is not ideal.

 

“The fuck did you put up that wall for?” Bakugou asks, because he is oblivious to the fact Shouto is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and it is all his fault. “You knew that meant we were fighting two to one- I told you not to get ahead of your damn self.”

 

“I wasn’t,” Shouto mumbles, vaguely rebellious. “I was counting on you.”

 

Bakugou exhales noisily. “I can’t believe you get sick now of all times. Shouldn’t have let you on the damn field.”

 

“You were,” Shouto says, still reeling, still incapable of talking like a real person. “You were so good.  When she had you covered in roots, and you burst out of the trunk- you can’t normally do that. I’ve never seen anyone do that. You looked- fuck, my head hurts. I can’t remember what it was now. You looked like All Might or someone.” 

 

“Christ,” Bakugou says. His hands have moved from Shouto’s arms, and he has a distinct suspicion that he’s seeing black not because he’s passing out but because he is being held to Bakugou’s chest. “Let’s go before anyone tries to interview you.”

 

Whatever residue willpower Shouto had to keep him on his feet is vanishing, probably largely due to the fact that his brain is shutting down and his nerves are shot, and his body has been screaming at him since Bakugou blew through an apartment’s worth of wood with Shouto in his arms. 

 

His memories beyond that point are fragmented and confusing. He remembers being asked to melt the ice, which he does. Stumbling over the destroyed street half-carried. A snippet of Kirishima’s voice, relieved and proud and impressed all in one burst, the blurry outline of Kirishima leaning to hug him, the memory of clinging a little. Everything being very loud.

 

He knows someone drives them, because he recalls shivering against the window; remembers Bakugou hurrying him up the stairs, then a period of convalescing on the couch, sipping tea difficultly and slipping in and out of consciousness. Bakugou on the phone, informing him about suspects. 

 

When he comes out of it fully it is late, and he is tired more than hungry or hurt. Bakugou seems to know he’s returned to himself just by looking at him, because he pauses the television.

 

“Hungry?”

 

Shouto shakes his head. “I just want to sleep.”

 

Bakugou nods. “I’ll reheat the tea if you want it.”

 

“I’m all right,” Shouto promises, and feels it. “I wasn’t even injured in the fight, you know. Just this- jet lag thing. Though I’m grateful it waited until after we’d called timber to take me out.”

 

“Yeah, real fucking gracious,” Bakugou scoffs. He’s in a tank top and sweatpants; some sadistic part of Shouto’s brain reminds him of his delirious musings. “By the way- did a good job out there. For a dumb kid.”

 

Shouto would like to say he does not turn a slow, pleased pink, but he does. “Thanks.” He clears his throat. “I think I’ve made my opinions clear enough over the past hour.”

 

Bakugou shoots him an amused smile. “Fever talking, huh?”

 

For his own sake, he does not answer. Getting to his feet without feeling faint is a relief. “You said something about- a phone call?”

 

“Yeah, office called- they looked into your computer activity, and it seems you looked into some of our suspects. Narrows down our field.”

 

“That’s good,” Shouto says, wondering for the first time what the other Shouto is doing, back in time, holding all the secrets and apparently doing nothing with them. If he’s decided to seek anyone out for help- if he’s spoken to Shouto’s Bakugou. How Bakugou has taken it.

 

“Go on, get some rest,” Bakugou motions, snapping him out of his trance. “I don’t want any morning fainting spells.”

 

“You should come,” Shouto blurts out. Before he can think. Before he can stop himself. Bakugou sets down his mug slowly, examining his face like there are answers on it that Shouto doesn’t know the question to. 

 

“To bed?”

 

“Not like-“ Shouto starts, stops, restarts. “To sleep. That’s all. You shouldn’t be sleeping on that couch.”

 

Bakugou’s eyes are dark and so very cautious. “And your bed is the better option, you reckon?”

 

“Yes,” Shouto says, and it comes out with certainty, three days’ worth of chaos fading in the face of this one knowable truth. “It’s your bed, too.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“I’m not telling you shit,” Katsuki yells, the fourteenth million fucking time one of his classmates attempts to ask him another stupid question. “Now fuck off and let me through before I kill you!”

 

Uraraka’s face goes determined, like she’s seriously considering floating him until he gives her answers (he’d like to see her try), but Iida, in one of his rare bouts of usefulness, seems to finally triumph over his own concern in favour of sticking by the rules, clapping his hands together over the chorus of demanding voices. 

 

“Leave Bakugou be. I assume explanation will surface sooner or later- perhaps he has been told not to elaborate by the teachers.” Iida’s glasses glint disapprovingly; Katsuki remembers his bitchfit after he and Deku had gotten shit for their fight and prays he doesn’t have to live through another one. Fucking Todoroki. 

 

A grumble of complaint crosses the group, but it backs off slightly; Kirishima stays put, crossing his arms stubbornly when both Iida and Katsuki fix him with glares. 

 

The last goddamn thing Katsuki wants to be doing is this, standing aimlessly in the common room while his entire class gawks at him- he shoves his way into the corridor, too aware of eyes on his back, and stomps toward the stairs, Kirishima trailing after him. 

 

“Fuck off.”

 

“I’m not doing anything!”

 

Katsuki stops, turns. “I’m on house arrest, dumbass. They’ll have someone guarding the door and shit. No way you’re getting in.”

 

Kirishima’s face falls slightly, brows knotting together. “Oh.” 

 

“Yeah. Now fuck off.”

 

“I just,” Kirishima starts, biting his lip. “You’re not in trouble, are you?”

 

On anyone else it would be alarmed, or pitying, or sanctimonious, but Kirishima says it in the tone of one who will believe Katsuki if he says no, just wants confirmation that he’s all right and that they’ll talk later, when he wants to. When he can.

 

“No,” Katsuki says. Which isn’t strictly true, because he is, but is true in the more figurative sense. He’s not going to come out of this the villain, and he’s fine, personally. No trouble. 

 

Further comment dies on his lips as he spots Ectoplasm eyeing him from the end of the hall, and he only nods at Kirishima before slouching and walking over to the pro hero.

“Young Bakugou.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t answer the man, just grunts and pushes past towards his room, disliking the tail. It’s doubtful that this is actually Ectoplasm- it’ll be one of his clones. Convenient quirk, that. 

 

He slams the door shut in the hero’s impassive face once he gets inside, half to see how he reacts, but Ectoplasm only looks warningly at him. 

 

He sits down heavily. House arrest again, though this time he’s confined to his room. What a sick joke- like he’s the one at fault here. 

 

It’s darkening outside, sun lowering slowly out of sight. Objectively, he understands why he’s stuck in his room like this- he and Todoroki were out since lunchtime, having apparently vanished without a trace. That’s several hours of panic for the teachers, who would have assumed the worst- another kidnapping, some kind of villain breach. He supposes he’s a particularly sensitive target for kidnapping. 

 

Not that anyone quite seems to think he’s the victim here. It’s infuriating, considering he actually fucking is- Todoroki is completely at fault for all the shit everyone keeps ragging him about. But trying to argue this while Todoroki hangs limply off him wasn’t exactly convincing, and besides that he knows what people think about him- that’s why the villains took him in first year, after all.

 

He feels caged, pacing the room irritably. He wonders if Todoroki is conscious yet- if they’ve put him under, worried by his readings, or if they’ve kept him awake, trying to coax answers out of him. Fucking great timing Todoroki has, leaving Katsuki to handle the onslaught of furious teachers alone like a tool.

 

Unthinkingly, he allows sparks of frustration to course over his arms. There’s very fucking little that scares him, and he knows for a fact he’s hard to unsettle. He’s got televised proof of it, unrepentant and furious during the League confrontations, and he remembers with a certain stinging pride what that fucker Tomura had looked like being bowled over by an explosion. 

 

This is somewhat different, though. He wasn’t scared by the anger radiating off the teachers when they figured out Todoroki and Katsuki had vanished of their own volition, but there was something beyond their anger, the kind of all-encompassing relief that only stems from genuine terror, and that Katsuki is spectacularly uncomfortable with. It’s the same kind of thing he’s heard from All Might once or twice, like that night when he’d busted through the wall, though it had been disguised under layers of comforting confidence. The teachers of UA were freaked the fuck out for their sakes, and it’s not something Katsuki wants to accept responsibility for, but it’s hard to shake the feeling off. 

 

Aizawa, in typical Aizawa fashion, had been the least phased of them all, eyes like endless tunnels of black, but Katsuki knows him well enough to know the guy cares. He’d watched all the coverage obsessively, in bouts of self-loathing, and Aizawa’s press conference had stuck with him hardest, the way his fingers had twitched like he was resisting the urge to hit the interviewer, the heavy conviction in his monotone support of Katsuki. He’s hard to crack, Aizawa, talks to Katsuki like a bothersome goblin at most times, but he’d spoken then like he saw someone in him Katsuki’s not sure even he sees in himself. 

 

For fuck’s sake. He does not feel guilty about this. 

 

Todoroki hadn’t wanted people to know, though he’d done a shit job of covering his ass. Katsuki’s not sure if it’s caution or a misplaced sense of betraying his trust, but he’s certain it’s not his place to be giving away someone else’s secrets, and he’s staunchly refused to budge on that position. Todoroki will wake up sooner or later, and he can decide how to go from there. It doesn’t matter if they lock Katsuki away like a misbehaving child. 

 

If Todoroki decides not to spill, no doubt they’ll both be duly punished for their inexplicable misdemeanours. He can’t imagine the school being dumb enough to let them spend any time together before they ‘fess up. 

 

Katsuki freezes, thinking. Todoroki had spent Monday night ill, presumably also Sunday. Getting worse, he had suggested. What he’d seen had seemed pretty damn bad. If Todoroki’s state keeps worsening day by day, there’s no telling what could happen. What happens to someone whose mind and body don’t exist in the same realm of time? Do they go comatose from the shock, reduced to vegetable state? Do they get stuck permanently out of time?

 

Keeping this Todoroki around sounds like an acceptable alternative, if the normal Todoroki is his only other option, considering this Todoroki is at least marginally more interesting. But stranding normal Todoroki in the future seems somewhat unethical, and besides there’s no reason for that to be the most likely outcome. 

 

Time is not in their favour. If Todoroki doesn’t spit it out, or if he does but no one believes him, or whatever the fuck else, days will be wasted that they might not have. 

 

He inches towards the door, listening attentively. No sound comes from outside, but that in itself is a give-away. Ectoplasm’s clone will be scaring conversation off. 

 

It’s damned inconvenient that Ectoplasm’s the one assigned to him. The guy is smart and strong, and very hard to budge. If it had been Present Mic or even All Might, he might have tried talking his way out, but Ectoplasm’s not the type. Katsuki thinks he could take him, with the element or surprise, but he’s not going to attack a UA teacher. 

 

He expects the window trick won’t work again. Not that the school knows that’s how they got out unnoticed, but he’s relatively sure they’ll have someone patrolling nearby now. So his only strategy is to find another route of escape, or to try and distract Ectoplasm long enough that he can make a run for it. 

 

No doubt the teachers will expect him to try and break out. He’s not a force of persuasion, anyways. So…

 

Reluctantly, he reaches for his phone. 

 

Oi. I need you to do some shit.

 

It takes a minute for Kirishima to reply; Katsuki cracks his knuckles impatiently.

 

What’s up? 

 

I have to get out of here but Ectoplasm’s up my ass. I have a plan but it involves you and the other dumbasses. It’s more explanation than he might have given, but there’s a part of him that’s not so keen on involving his classmates- not because they’re idiots, though they are, but because if he gets busted they’ll get shit for it too. 

 

They’re down, Kirishima answers, soon enough. Do you need any backup?

 

There’s half an unspoken conversation there, wherein Katsuki explained and Kirishima decided he trusted he wouldn’t be getting into trouble if he didn’t have a good reason for it. Sometimes he thinks about Kirishima and wonders what the hell he ever did to deserve his unconditional support. 

 

No. In five minutes, get Kaminari to grill the lights on this floor. While they’re out, come to my room. Then Kaminari should hit the lights again. 

 

Kirishima sends back a string of affirmative emojis. Katsuki exhales and puts his phone down, then inches closer to the door, hand resting on the handle. 

 

Like clockwork, five minutes later, the light flickers and dies. Katsuki yanks the door open as silently as possible while Ectoplasm whirls around, pulse echoing in his ears- there’s the sound of footsteps nearby, too loud. 


“Bakugou, come here-“ Ectoplasm starts, loud, obviously suspecting subterfuge; Katsuki growls in annoyance right in front of him, covering Kirishima’s approach.

 

“I’m right fucking here! Why are the lights out? Some kind of shitty psychological trick?”

 

It’s too dark to see, so he can only guess at the extreme suspicion on the teacher’s face as he glares in his direction- Kirishima brushes against Katsuki, and he shoves him hastily back, shutting the door further behind him. 

 

There’s the tell-tale pop of another clone coming into existence, no doubt leaving to investigate while the other stays to guard Katsuki. Must think he’s so damn clever, foiling Katsuki’s escape plan.

 

The lights flicker back to life before Ectoplasm 3.0 can go very far; Katsuki squints against the light with genuine grievance, finding both clones looking at him.

 

“Fucking-I’m not going anywhere, god.”

 

He dramatically re-enters his room, closing the door behind him. Kirishima makes big eyes at him. 

 

Katsuki gestures at himself, then at the door, mimes running with his fingers. Then he points at Kirishima, gestures to his mouth, makes an aggressive face like he’s shouting at some idiot. Kirishima tilts his head, thinks a minute, and then his face lights up with recognition. His features rearrange themselves into a frankly disturbing scowl, and he silently shakes his fist at the door. Katsuki nods.

 

Kirishima flashes him a thumbs up. Katsuki, huffing, returns it. Kirishima appreciates that kind of stupid gesture. 

 

About two minutes later, during which Kirishima cheerily digs through Katsuki’s All Might comic strips and Katsuki silently threatens to kill him, the lights go again. His last sight is Kirishima’s encouraging fist-pump; he tugs the door again and slips out into the darkness, sprinting silently down the hall. 

 

He’s about halfway when Ectoplasm knocks on his door, and Kirishima’s voice bursts out, irate and outraged.

 

“FUCK OFF! I’m not falling for this shit again!”

 

He doesn’t hear Ectoplasm’s response, but a boom resonates down the hall, Kirishima definitely enjoying himself too much as he vehemently refuses to play along. 

 

Katsuki turns the corner just as the lights come back on; Ectoplasm’s expression as he stares at the door pure exasperated resignation.

 

The school is mostly quiet, classes having ended, but he keeps a low profile anyways, avoiding the library and the food hall. He falls back closer to the nurse’s office, sticking to the walls when voices grow louder, but bizarrely there’s no one watching the infirmary. He checks and double-checks the hallway, hyperaware of his surroundings, but even when he tersely opens the door, expecting an immediate outburst, there’s no one in sight.

 

Maybe they overestimated their guard, or maybe they expected Katsuki not to go looking for further trouble after he’d already gotten so much shit for his previous misdeeds. Actually, maybe they just didn’t think he’d go looking for Todoroki. 

 

He ducks through the divider, still waiting for company and not enjoying the deadly quiet. Todoroki is in the same bed, not awake this time, though he looks asleep rather than unconscious, cheeks rosy rather than waxy. Katsuki approaches him warily. 

 

There’s something very weird about looking at such a familiar face and knowing the person wearing it is someone different. He buys Todoroki’s story, but it sounds insane just looking at him sleeping like this. 

 

Looking at him sleeping is creepy in its own way. Todoroki is a walking contradiction, all restrained movement and combative stillness, but he never looks like this, vulnerable and blissfully unawares of it. He looks young, within grasp, not like himself. It’s an un-fucking-comfortable picture. Katsuki crosses his arms and stomps closer, nudging at the bed with his foot. 

 

“Todoroki.”

 

Todoroki doesn’t so much as stir. Katsuki curses silently and prods at his chest. It’s weirdly toned. Maybe not weirdly- Todoroki is in shape. Not that Katsuki cares, he just knows this. From training.

 

“Hey, asshole. Wake up.”

 

It’s like trying to wake a block of stone. Katsuki grabs his shoulders and shakes, hard. Todoroki’s head snaps back and forth floppily, but he squirms sleepily, eyelids fluttering and brow furrowing. 

 

“Nh- wh-”

 

“Fuck’s sake, get up!” Katsuki snaps, still shaking; Todoroki frowns properly, grabs vaguely at him before settling on tugging at his arms like he wants to pull him in. Katsuki blanches and drops him, and finally Todoroki opens his eyes, groggy discontentment fading to sudden clarity when he sees him.

 

“Oh. What time is it?”

 

“Too damn early for you to be slumbering peacefully while I get my ass chewed,” Katsuki starts, but the door to the infirmary opens, and he starts in alarm, trying to think of what the fuck he’s going to say to get out of this one. Todoroki yanks his arm hard, and Katsuki swallows down his angry protests when he realises he’s being shoved under the bed.

 

It’s the stupidest thing he’s ever done, but he crawls under the shitty bed, hears Todoroki settle, and has just about vanished from sight when two pairs of feet enter his line of vision.

 

“His charts are still fluctuating,” Aizawa’s voice notes, black boots staunchly planted about a foot away from Katsuki’s face. “Have you made any progress with the source of this?”

 

“No,” Recovery Girl says, rickety little voice tight with worry and frustration. “I believe it is the effect of a quirk, but you insist the boy has not recently been affected by any.”

 

“I would have assumed it happened today, but as his classmates have confirmed, it’s been ongoing since at least Sunday, and there is no way to my knowledge that he was attacked over the weekend.” Aizawa shifts slightly, leaning to flip through the chart readings. “Until he regains consciousness, Bakugou is our only potential source.”

 

“They left together,” Recovery Girl affirms, with conviction. “I am sure the boy knows something about this mysterious ailment. Not that I eavesdrop, mind you- but I heard Bakugou shouting at him a couple of times, and it sounded pointed.”

 

“Bakugou won’t talk if he’s decided not to,” Aizawa says, flatly. Recovery Girl exhales noisily.

 

“That boy! Doesn’t he realise we can’t help unless we know what’s wrong?”

 

“I’m sure he does. This isn’t like his infantile brawl with Midoriya. Bakugou doesn’t usually go looking for trouble. I assume he feels very strongly in the right about this.”

 

“I just don’t understand what could have happened so that the Todoroki boy involved him in this, of all people.”

 

“They aren’t particularly close,” Aizawa concurs, voice distant. “And Bakugou isn’t particularly cooperative.”

 

Recovery Girl leans in over Todoroki, and Katsuki freezes, holding his breath. His arm is about touching her foot. “He seems to be faring better. I would say another hour and we might be able to talk to him.”

 

“If he’ll talk,” Aizawa says, but he follows without further protest when she turns to re-enter her office. 

 

“Have we heard back from his father?”

 

“He’s been on the field all day,” Aizawa responds, voice fading as the door opens. “But I think Toshinori has gotten in touch. Not that he’s likely to be of much help.”

 

The door closes again. 

 

Katsuki waits one, two, three long beats before surging back to his feet, irked. Todoroki pulls himself neatly upright.

 

“You asshole,” Katsuki snaps, impatient. “I had to haul your ass all the way back to UA, and you just had a fucking nap while I got the full FBI interrogation? They locked me in my damn room!”

 

“How did you get out?” Todoroki asks, curious. “Sorry, also. But I couldn’t exactly predict this would happen.”

 

“That’s a terrible fucking apology,” Katsuki grits out. “And that’s besides the point. Are you going to tell them, or what?”

 

Todoroki hums, eyes drifting. “The teachers?”

 

“No, the fucking national table-tennis team.”

 

“It’s not a good idea,” Todoroki says, ignoring him entirely and shifting before he can retort. “Not right now. I thought we would be able to finish our excursion before we had to give answers.”

 

“Well, we haven’t, which is on you, so-”

 

“This hit me a lot later last night,” Todoroki argues. “If it had done the same we would have been at my father’s by now. Listen- if I do tell anyone, it has to be after I’ve done enough to figure out where this guy has gotten to.” 

 

“I don’t understand why you can’t just spit it out” Katsuki scowls, though he does, actually, having thought it through himself.

 

“Too much could go wrong,” Todoroki sighs. “It’s not so much the teaching staff. They might take some time to believe me, but they’ll get around to it eventually, even though they might take longer than we have. Like I said- my father would jump to the occasion if he knew I had future-related insight. And that would be very dangerous.”

 

“So what the hell will you tell them in the meantime?” 

 

“I’ll just say I’ve fallen mysteriously ill,” Todoroki shrugs. “I can explain today away one way or another- I’ll say I knew about a dubious remedy and I forced you to come along because I needed your help getting it.”

 

“They’ll see right through that,” Katsuki responds, unimpressed. “Look, they were seriously freaked out about this- it’s all fucking great for you if you don’t tell them something, considering you can just fuck off to the future. I’m not getting suspended because you can’t come up with a better solution!”

 

“You won’t be suspended,” Todoroki says, though he finally seems to be taking this more seriously, frowning in thought. It takes a minute of terse silence before he seems to come to a conclusion, folding his hands and looking up at Katsuki. 

 

“I’ll tell the teachers the truth, come what may. But before I do that, I’m getting my hands on the files.”

 

Katsuki stares at him for one indignant minute. “Are you fucking serious? We’ve just gotten shit for fucking off, and you want to do it again?”

 

Todoroki doesn’t flinch. “I don’t know how much worse this will get. For all I know I’ll spend all of tomorrow comatose. If that does happen, I want to know whoever takes over the work has the information they need to get ahead. If we find out this guy isn’t even on the record, I’ll have to fight much harder to convince them I’m not just delirious and groundlessly accusing strangers of sending me through time.” He sets his shoulders. “I’m the only person who’s seen his face. I want to confirm who he is before I can’t anymore.”

 

Katsuki bristles. “Fucking- even if you’re set on going, no way in hell are we getting out.”

 

“No one’s keeping watch on the infirmary. We just need to leave UA grounds.”

 

“You’ve lost it,” Katsuki says. “They’ll all be on high alert, dumbass.”

 

“No, they won’t. They have me here and a guard on your door. Why would they expect us to leave again?” 

 

“Even if you’re right, there’s no damn way we can get out the way we did earlier, and if they catch a hint of movement anywhere they’ll be on us. We can’t disable every security camera on campus, and we can’t outpace all of them on foot.”

 

Todoroki nods slowly. “You’re right. But who said anything about leaving on foot?”

 

Katsuki stares. Todoroki leans towards him, eyes intent. “You don’t have to come with this time. I have a plan. Go back to your room, wait it out, and expect me back within the hour.”

 

It is incredibly difficult to place the jumble of emotions he’s feeling. There’s seething outrage in there, a bit of burning curiosity, flat disbelief, and worst of all a furious sort of resignation. Todoroki will not back down on this, and won’t be convinced otherwise. 

 

He’s sort of right, is the thing- timing is incredibly testy with how unpredictable this time sickness shit is, and there’s a solid possibility that he goes comatose at any given time. They have the option of using the present time to tell the teachers straight away, but the less information they have the more likely it is they won’t be taken seriously from the start, especially considering how much their story sounds like a wild cover-up. Between Todoroki’s Stain encounter, the illicit rescue mission, and the Deku fight, they have a poor track record with this kind of thing. Once- if- they are eventually believed, UA’ll have to tell Todoroki’s parents, of course, and that’s another kicker. Adding the Endeavour variable into the mix swings the balance in his son’s favour- there’s no telling what he’d decide to do with the information. 

 

With all the stifled fury in the world, Katsuki scowls. “Fuck you. I’m coming too.”

 

Todoroki’s eyes widen. “What?”

 

“You swear you’ll tell them right afterwards?” Katsuki demands, fists clenched tight with tension. Todoroki nods seriously. “Then I might as well see the damn thing through. Fuck knows what you’ll do to yourself out there alone. If you don’t come back, no one will believe me if I tell them what happened.”

 

Todoroki wisely does not argue, only looks at him with a creased brow, clearly wanting to dissuade him but finding his rebuttal watertight. Of course it is. 

 

“In that case, you should go hide away somewhere by the main entrance. It shouldn’t be too long now, but I’d rather stay put as long as I can, in case they notice my absence.”

 

“What am I waiting for?”

 

Todoroki’s lips quirk up dryly. “My beloved father.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t linger long. Todoroki doesn’t give him too much information, and they’ve been lucky with the lack of interruptions. He almost gets caught as he leaves, Vlad King appearing within seconds of Katsuki turning a corner, but he manages well enough. UA’s main entrance is quiet out of school hours.

 

He wonders how Kirishima is faring. It’s possible he’s been caught out, but he doubts it- as long as he has no reason to suspect any shenanigans, Ectoplasm wouldn’t be pointlessly harassing him by checking in every so often. Stick Kirishima in his shirt and shove a pillow over his head, and he could even sell that Katsuki had mutinously decided to sleep the day off.

 

God, this is insane. He can’t believe he’s breaking out of school for the second time in a singular day. If Todoroki doesn’t keep his promise, future or not, Katsuki will break his legs. 

 

Maybe ten minutes pass, Katsuki skulking by the door and staring through the glass windows, and then suddenly the lights go on in the back of the room. He braces for confrontation, but it’s only Todoroki, barefoot and quiet as he peers into the room. He takes a moment to see Katsuki, quickly joining him when he does.

 

“So?”


“He’s here,” Todoroki says, gesturing to the door. “We should stand outside.”

 

The door just about closes by the time Aizawa and Nezu’s voices near, and Katsuki blinks against the glare of headlights. Todoroki tugs him sideways, so that they stand about hidden by the pillars. 

 

The car- a sleek black Jag- stops with great dramatics; behind them, the teachers walk out to greet the pro hero. Katsuki eyes Aizawa with suspicion. 

 

“How is Shouto?” Endeavour asks, as soon as he’s stepped out of the car. There’s something weird in his tone, less like he’s worried for his darling child and more like he’s pissed off that UA has somehow failed him again. “Is he awake?”

 

“He’s still sleeping, but he’s faring better,” Nezu says, in his ever-calm voice. “I apologise for having to call you here, but we thought it best to have family on hand, considering the medical aspect of the situation.”

 

“Todorokis don’t just fall ill,” Endeavour says, shortly. “You don’t know what has happened?”

 

“No,” Aizawa says, seemingly unfazed. “Perhaps we should move the conversation indoors.”

 

Endeavour scoffs, but he seems keen to see his son, at least, following without further complaint. The door slides open, then shut; Katsuki watches Todoroki watch the door, still as a statute. 

 

“Go,” Todoroki says. 

 

They run to the car, and Todoroki basically punches the window in, hand slapping against it so that it freezes solid and he can yank it back. He unlocks it from there, clambers into the driver’s seat as Katsuki takes the other side; the car’s alarm blares twice before Katsuki punches it dead.

 

“Fucking drive!” Katsuki yells, as Todoroki dumps the window in his lap and feels around the steering wheel.

 

“I don’t have the key and he has one of those stupid smart systems,” Todoroki retorts, quite placidly, though his gaze is sharp. “Give me a hand.” He gestures downward. “Literally- give me your hand.”

 

One small explosion and some blind grabbing on Todoroki’s part later, the engine roars alive. Their eyes meet; Todoroki smiles, and Katsuki scowls.

 

“Stop gawking and get a move on!” 

 

The car reverses with screeching tires, Todoroki swerving wildly into the lawn before he turns around. The lights on the lawn flip on as they race by, and as Katsuki looks behind them, certain their escape will be thwarted; the doors to UA burst open, Aizawa’s scarf flying as voices shout in alarm. 

 

They are just within reach, and Katsuki waits, fiercely defensive, while Todoroki veers a strong left. 

 

Aizawa lets them go.

 

“What the fuck,” Katsuki breathes, once the car careens into the highway, wind whistling through the open window. Todoroki is intently focused on the road, though you wouldn’t think it from the way he drives, changing lanes like a maniac. “He could have stopped us.”

 

“I thought he might let us go,” Todoroki says, expression not wavering as he checks the mirror. “Can you hand me that window?”

 

Katsuki does, and Todoroki steers with one hand, slotting the window back into place, which Katsuki has strong but ill-defined feelings about. “What the fuck do you- why?”

 

“He trusts us,” Todoroki answers, meeting Katsuki’s eye at last. “When it matters.”

 

“You didn’t see him earlier,” Katsuki retorts, disbelieving. “He’s fucking pissed. And he thinks we’re morons.”

 

Todoroki smiles. “Also true.”

 

The car drives smoothly enough, and after a few minutes Katsuki relaxes a fraction, realising they’re not being chased. 

 

“Why the hell do you know how to steal a car, anyways? Between the security card and this I’m starting to think you’re a villain in the future.”

 

“Not quite,” Todoroki snorts. “But you learn some dubious skills in the hero industry. My quirk doesn’t usually lend to stealth.”

 

“Fuck, this is crazy,” Katsuki mutters, watching the city flash by. “We’ve just stolen the number one hero in the country’s car. You’re no good.”

 

“He is my father,” Todoroki points out, though he seems pleased with himself. “Technically all of his belongings are mine somewhere down the line.”

 

Katsuki looks at him out of the corner of his eye, Todoroki’s eyes glinting with something almost mischievous, racing through the city like some kind of deranged getaway driver, and feels a disquieting beat of something unfamiliar in low in his gut. It’s almost like the kind of swooping feeling he gets during fights, when whoever he’s fighting pulls some shit he actually has to focus on, but it’s more insidious, something he can’t place but knows not to trust. 

 

It’s retrospectively obvious, in present company, that Todoroki isn’t the Todoroki he knows- it’s a constant in his posture, his expressions, his eyes, some development Katsuki observes without knowing. For a moment he is keenly aware that whatever it is suits him. 

 

He briefly and powerfully wishes his own Todoroki could hurry the fuck back so he didn’t need to sit thinking bullshit like this, but is damnably reminded that Todoroki’s face is unchanged and that all of this is apparently something he will grow into. 

 

It is the first and only time he has used the breathing exercises the UA counsellor tried to teach him to control his temper. 

 

Predictably, Todoroki goes easy once they reach the nicer part of the city, where the apartment blocks vanish, replaced by sprawling estates and traditional homes. Katsuki weirdly feels like he recognises the Todoroki abode, maybe from television; they slow down, but the gates open when the car approaches. 

 

Todoroki parks the Jaguar, then exhales longly. Katsuki raises his brows.

 

“My sister is probably home,” Todoroki confesses, tapping the steering wheel in thought. “As long as she thinks it’s my father coming home she should leave us at it. If she’s heard about him being called away, she might come asking questions, though.”

 

“Fucking great,” Katsuki gripes, squinting out into the courtyard. “A whole Todoroki family reunion. Just what I always wanted.”

 

“Fuyumi won’t stop us,” Todoroki decides, and climbs out of the car. “Let’s not waste time.”

 

Todoroki’s house is just a blown up version of Todoroki’s room. Katsuki reflexively takes his shoes off and puts on slippers at the door, to the half and half bastard’s poorly suppressed amusement. He’s still not wearing any shoes.

 

“You don’t need to do that.”

 

“Excuse my fucking manners,” Katsuki snaps, shouldering past him. “Where now?”

 

Todoroki pauses, looking around, and there’s something taut to his expression that Katsuki wishes he didn’t notice or recognise. It’s the look he had around UA, of not having set foot there for a long time, but instead of being imbued with amused nostalgia, Todoroki’s face is impassive, recognisably so.

 

“Well?” Katsuki demands, out of impatience, certainly not to get Todoroki to stop looking like that. It works either way.

 

“This way,” Todoroki says, slow, then shakes his head and gets a grip. Katsuki pads after him, not wanting to be impressed by the home but feeling it a little anyways. 

 

It’s enormous, compared to Katsuki’s parents’ place, or anyone else he grew up with. Walkways, a central garden, two storeys, several buildings, and everything maintained immaculately. They must have a gardener, or else Todoroki’s sister has a plant quirk. He has a brother too, Katsuki thinks, but he’s not sure what his deal is. He doesn’t know much about the Todoroki siblings, as a matter of fact- has seen them on TV, knows they didn’t attend UA, and that Todoroki is the youngest.

 

He remembers eavesdropping on that awful conversation in first year- no, not eavesdropping, wasn’t his fault Deku and Todoroki decided to have their private conversations out in a damn hallway. Todoroki had been so different then to how he is now- cold and combative, unused to company. Katsuki remembers shouting at him about it all. He still stands by that now. Todoroki’s sob stories aren’t relevant to their rivalry. 

 

Still, he knows what kind of person Endeavour is. It’s not something he likes to dwell on, in part for selfish reasons. There’s a not-so-well-repressed part of him, the Deku-related one, that sometimes breaks out into cold sweats at the thought of becoming the Endeavour to someone’s All Might, venting his second-place frustrations by trying to raise only the strongest of kids and fucking them up in the process. Not that he’s as obtuse as the old man, but it feels within the realm of possibility, and Katsuki hates that, hates the hint of panic that arises at the thought, hates the way it makes his gaze skip Todoroki’s half-guiltily sometimes. He wouldn’t, he thinks. But he doesn’t know that. 

 

“You really hate him, huh?” Katsuki finds himself asking, which is stupid because he’s never pretended to care about Todoroki’s issues before, not to his face at least. This Todoroki seems unsurprised, only lifting a shoulder.

 

“It’s complicated. Not because I’ve forgiven him. I just don’t know if hate is the right word anymore. We don’t exactly talk, so it’s easier to forget he exists.”

 

Katsuki mulls this over. There’s something probably really depressing about how blasé Todoroki is about cutting off his own father. Not that Katsuki’s parents are fucking ideal, considering his father is a pushover and his mother is a batshit bitch, but he’s never doubted that they loved him, or, hell, that he loved them. 

 

“D’you remember what it was like between you two in high school?”

 

“Worse,” Todoroki replies, prompt like he’d expected it. He smiles at Katsuki in a way that makes him bristle defensively, eyes tired but soft. “My family situation was particularly messy during my teenaged years. There’s a few bridges I’ve mended since.” 

 

“I don’t think that’s how the metaphor works,” Katsuki says, without bite, because he feels uncomfortable being told this so easily. Maybe Todoroki senior overshares like this all the time. It’s not like it’s out of character for Todoroki to give too much information out in sporadic bursts.

 

Unsurprisingly, he finds himself thinking about his Todoroki, who is still solidly in high school, presumably with no mended bridges. There’s something ominous about such a large house when it’s this quiet, a felt absence. Todoroki’s mom has been hospitalised for years, he knows, and apparently it’s only his sister and father who still live here. He tries to picture Todoroki amongst them.

 

Weirdly, Katsuki almost misses the guy. Not because he’s any better than this other asshole, but because he knows him. It feels wrong hearing these things from someone else, like a violation of privacy. 

 

They get into Endeavour’s office easily, and it is about as ostentatious as you might expect. Todoroki scoffs loudly upon entering; Katsuki thinks this amount of self-promotion borders on creepy. Décor aside, it’s very impersonal, full of hero-related folders and well-organised cabinets. The guy’s work ethic is admirable, if nothing else.

 

“This looks very locked,” Katsuki says, examining the computer. He’d half hoped that having entered the household unperturbed meant everything would go smoothly, but Endeavour’s obviously pretty paranoid. Katsuki thinks he saw security cameras in the bedrooms. “There’s some recognition system shit.”

 

“ID lock,” Todoroki confirms, looming over his shoulder. Katsuki shoves him off in annoyance, which he takes without comment. “That might just work in our favour.”

 

He messes around with the controls a little, then opens his blue eye wide and leans in. The computer goes through a series of beeps, then reconfigures, a familiar logo flashing on-screen.

 

“That worked?” Katsuki asks, incredulous. Todoroki just shakes his head.

 

“Of course. He wouldn’t believe any of us capable of getting in here without his noticing it. Besides, the others have no interest in hero work, and I never set foot here.” 

 

Todoroki navigates through pro-hero folders with easy speed, like he’s used to it, which Katsuki supposes he is. It only takes a series of clicks for the criminal code to appear on screen, and then Todoroki is scrolling through a sidebar and entering a name into the search engine.

 

Goro Ohuro appears on the screen looking nothing like Katsuki had expected, a man in his late twenties in a scruffy suit who looks mutinously embarrassed and also ill-kempt in the headshot atop his profile. Todoroki sucks in a breath.

 

“This him?”

 

“This is him,” Todoroki confirms, scrolling up and down the short page. “Charged for multiple accounts of fraud and misrepresentation by the casino where he used to work. I doubt that’s what he was up to in my time, but it fits his profile, at least.” He double-clicks on a tab. “A lot younger, of course. Ah-”

 

Katsuki squints at the screen. Trial judgment date- just about a week prior. 

 

“He’s in prison?”

 

“Yes,” Todoroki mutters, stormy-looking. “Damn. So we can’t track him down to a home address.”

 

“We have what we came for,” Katsuki shrugs, stretching over him to screenshot the page and AirDrop it to his phone. “Now we better get the fuck out before your dad shows up. He’ll guess where you are sooner or later.”

 

“We know where he is,” Todoroki counters, eyes still firmly on Ohuro’s face and expression strange. “While time is on our side we may as well try and see this through.”

 

Katsuki stares, feeling his temper start to unravel at long last. “What, you want to go pull a prison break right now? High speed chase not enough of an adrenaline rush for you?” 

 

“If we could corner the guy tonight,” Todoroki continues, unaffected, no doubt thinking up a thousand ways of getting around a prison security system, “We could fix this before the morning.”

 

“Are you listening to me, bastard?” Katsuki grabs him by the shoulder and throws him into the wall, seething; it miraculously makes Todoroki look at him like he’s more than a blank space to dissociate over. “I said I’d do this shit, and you said you’d stop and tell the teachers once we did! Don’t change the terms now!”

 

Todoroki’s resolve seems to flicker, then his eyes narrow with determination. “Well, I didn’t realise the opportunity would present itself this way. I gave you the opportunity to stay behind, if you’ll recall.”

 

“You can’t be fucking serious!” Katsuki growls, explosions bursting from his fingertips. “You can barely go a day without keeling over- if you conk out during this prison shit, I’ll take the fall for it!”

 

“I’ll send you back to UA before I go, then,” Todoroki replies, infuriatingly detached. “With my taped confession, if you’d like it.”

 

“Yeah, cause doing this shit alone has worked out so great for you!” Katsuki snaps. “I’m sure my future self was just as delighted as I am to learn you got time-swapped by some asshole because you got hit in a fight and decided not to tell anyone on account of how you were so perfectly equipped to deal with it by yourself!”

 

He’s not quite sure where he gets that outburst from, but it works wonders, Todoroki’s eyes going big and the fight draining from his shoulders. It’s almost effective enough that Katsuki foregoes his mortification, though not quite- he has no fucking idea why he went off like he cared. 

 

He really doesn’t hope Todoroki thinks he cares. He doesn’t. 

 

Todoroki only sighs, runs a hand through his hair so that it tangles into bursts of red and white. Katsuki furiously avoids looking at him. 

 

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I just- I know you- he- is less than delighted. I know he is. He’ll kill me once I get back. I just don’t want him to wait long for that.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t quite know how to respond to that, so he hunches his shoulders and glares at the corner of Todoroki’s mouth. “Right, so you’re acting like a fucking idiot cause you’re that eager to get chewed out.”

 

“No, he’s just right,” Todoroki confesses, something awfully alien in his voice, maybe tenderness. “I should have told him. But I didn’t think it was something major, and we’re not in the habit of making fusses of small injuries. Of course, that policy usually relates to minor bruising rather than temporal displacement.”

 

“So you want to get home,” Katsuki hears himself say, tightly, still unable to look somewhere else and feeling itchy with discomfort. 

 

“Yes,” Todoroki says, simple. “I do. Very much.” 

 

Katsuki’s palms are sweating profusely, static energy spiking, and there is no good reason for either of these two things. It’s just fucking Todoroki, who’s talking some shit about his life. “No need to act like such a jackass about it, if that’s all.”

 

“I’ll bear that in mind,” Todoroki nods, sagely. Katsuki manages to meet his eyes, which are pensive and lost in thought, but he squirms when Todoroki focuses on him, brows raised a little. “Wouldn’t want to be stuck here with you, after all.”

 

“Fuck off,” Katsuki retorts, but his jaw relaxes a little. He and Todoroki don’t banter, not really, but it feels like something they could be doing, unlike whatever has occurred with their future selves to make Todoroki able to condense a decade’s worth of feeling into a few choice words. “I wish you’d both stay in the future and leave me alone.”

 

“I’m sure my younger self misses home, too,” Todoroki says, wryly. “Or some parts of it, at least.”

 

Katsuki frowns. “You think because you two switched, you might not be able to return to your actual time? Like, our future obviously changed because of this shit, right? And it didn’t happen in your past, I’m assuming. So maybe you’ll end up in some other future, and Todoroki won’t come back here-“

 

“Todoroki will come back here,” Todoroki interjects, infuriatingly reassuring. “He’s got a fixed point to return to. And as for the future, I suppose there might be some changes, but I wouldn’t worry too much.” He quirks the side of his mouth upwards. “I’ve thought about it. Even if I do end up somewhere changed, the things that matter will be the same.”

 

It seems important to ask, somehow. “How can you be so sure?” 

 

“Some things in life are just meant to work out,” Todoroki says, vague, then smiles, with ill intent. “I’d know how to chase them down, anyways.” 

 

Katsuki determinedly does not ask any further questions, though he can feel Todoroki’s horrible, knowing gaze follow him as they walk out of the house. Fuck the guy, anyways- he’s the one who keeps telling Katsuki all of his personal shit, what’s Katsuki meant to do, reciprocate? It’s natural to be fucking curious about the future. 

 

The ride back to UA is slightly less frantic, though it confirms Katsuki’s theory that Todoroki is just that insane as a driver. It’s a minor miracle no one pulled them over either way. Maybe the cops have Endeavour’s license down, assume it’s urgent.

 

His nerves threaten to overwhelm him as they approach, Katsuki stomping fiercely down on his mounting anxiety. He’d thrown around the idea of suspension for dramatic purpose previously, but the thought is nightmarish. Surely not- not when there’s time travel fuckery involved- but maybe it’s too late for explanations, now, and Aizawa let them go earlier as some sort of sign of release, metaphorically washing his hands of them. 

 

Katsuki doesn’t think he could take expulsion.

 

“I’ll tell them as soon as we’re back,” Todoroki says, conversationally. Katsuki glowers suspiciously at him, but his eyes are on the road, expression void of any particular motive. “Aizawa will believe me, if no one else. Since the guy is in prison he can’t exactly make a run for it before they decide to believe me.”

 

“Thought you didn’t want to waste any time not being believed.”

 

“Of course not. But running around chased down by UA pros will be more of a hindrance than the alternative, and I’d rather go home than pat myself on the back for fixing this alone. Besides, I don’t want you to get in trouble for this. I’ve been rather flippant the past few days.”

 

Katsuki shifts in his seat. Down the street, the UA gates are firmly shut, lights bright against the dark street. “It’s whatever.”

 

“No, you were right. I’ve been very focused on getting back, without much thought for those I was affecting in your present time.”

 

“Yeah, well. All it would have done is convince me you’re eternally an asshole.”

 

“Rich,” Todoroki says, tempering Katsuki’s glower with a teasing look before sobering. “Anyways, that’s not something I want. I wouldn’t want to risk our- your- relationship in this timeline by upsetting your life so callously.”

 

It’s a testament to how seriously messed up his life has been of late that Katsuki’s reaction is just to turn to the window again, watching the city blur into streaks of light as he tries to gauge how he feels about this joke of an answer. There’s something about older Todoroki that seems to shock him into a weird state of calm, like he’s so worked up by all the bullshit that he ends up flat-lining. 

 

“You really care about that shit, huh.”

 

Todoroki turns large, serious eyes on him, and Katsuki wishes he wouldn’t, not with those princess lashes and that- face. 

 

“It matters a lot to me. As do you.”

 

Katsuki desperately does not make any instinctive and mortifying noises, though his throat dries out and his cheeks flare. Fucking adult Todoroki and his coy statements about the future, about them, like-

 

“So I guess the fever’s back?”

 

Todoroki only snorts. “Yeah.”

 

They pull into the UA grounds. Katsuki is almost looking forward to being expelled, just for the chance to escape this particular fucking conversation. 

 

He has half a thought regarding how ominously silent and dark the school seems, a far cry from the search party and alarm from earlier, but the car has barely stilled that Aizawa is upon them, appearing a foot away with murderous calm and possibly supernatural silence; Katsuki jolts and Todoroki does not. The expression on his face would make grown men weep. 

 

“You have ten seconds. If I don’t like what I hear your own mothers will never know what happened to your corpses.”

 

“What the fuck?” Katsuki manages, still recovering; Aizawa’s eyes flash.

 

“Eight.”

 

“Is my father within earshot?” Todoroki asks, like now is the time to be precious. Katsuki would strangle him himself were Aizawa not indisputably first in line.

 

“No. Four.”

 

“You're skipping seconds,” Katsuki protests; the man fixes him with such condensed disdain he shuts up.

 

“One.”

 

“I am an adult incarnation of your student, I’ve been swapped with my younger self since Sunday, and per our research the man who did this to me is currently in prison for fraud and misrepresentation under the employ of the local casino,” Todoroki rattles off, within a respectable amount of time. The air seems to still, waiting; Katsuki doesn’t risk cracking his knuckles. 

 

“I don’t believe you,” Aizawa says, Katsuki now wondering if perhaps he should have composed some sort of will or last words to be read at his funeral (short and simple: Fuck you Todoroki). “But you have an hour to convince me otherwise.”

 

Which is, all things considered, probably the most Katsuki could have asked for. 

 

Chapter Text

For the first time in days, Shouto wakes uncomfortably. 

 

This isn’t the fault of the bed, of course, nor even necessarily the fact that he’s sharing it. The bed, evidently, is big enough for two people, and his companion had stuck firmly to one side of it, an invisible line cutting their space into two neat halves. 

 

It’s just very difficult to feel at ease sleeping with someone near him. Especially when this is Bakugou. Especially when Bakugou is only sleeping near him because he’s accustomed to doing so, in this life. 

 

Shouto stirs restlessly, shifting against his pillow. He feels too listless to get up, but too nervous to stay put. 

 

He’s never shared a bed before, not in recent memory. Perhaps as a child he had crept into his siblings’ beds, or his mother’s, but he doubts it- he had never known his brothers and sister well, and he can’t imagine his father would have tolerated him sharing his bed. 

 

It is a very foreign concept, thus, to have a living person so nearby in his sleep. He knows objectively he has been behaving irrationally, but it is hard to give himself over to sleep in someone else’s presence, to go slack and vulnerable and trust this is safe to do. Not that he doesn’t trust Bakugou- he trusts him well enough in his own life, let alone this one, but it is hard to remember this when his own heartbeat seems too loud in the dark room. 

 

He’d actually fallen asleep quickly; even after their standoff Bakugou had insisted he had things to do first, though Shouto knew even then this was an excuse to let him go to sleep first. The problem had arisen when he’d awoken randomly at some ungodly hour of the night, warned by some unnamable feeling of wrongness. Then he’d become aware that the intruder in question was fast asleep hardly an arm’s length away, and that had made things a bit better and a bit worse.

 

Bakugou runs hot in his sleep. This Shouto might have expected. He doesn’t mind so much; he gets cold at night. It’s just that he can almost hear his heartbeat, and watch the soft rise and fall of his chest, and it is terrifying. 

 

It seems embarrassing in retrospect, not having pieced things together sooner, but he thinks he might have known from the first day, just been unwilling to acknowledge his thoughts. Of course the apartment looks like Bakugou’s; of course there are two toothbrushes and one bed. He half-admires how smoothly Bakugou had managed to churn out lie after lie to counter his obvious questions, so convincingly he’d stopped asking. 

 

Still- Bakugou in that fight, the way he’d handled Shouto afterwards- it had been impossible to invent alternatives.  

 

It’s just- hard to wrap his mind around. The past couple of days have presented him with a picture-perfect future, and Bakugou has been the one variable he could not fit, refusing to take on the roles Shouto could see him in. He’s changed his mind a little since he arrived- like it or not there are some things about the future he knows are not quite so foreign as they feel, exchanges which come naturally, expectations he can match. He can see them becoming friends, he supposes, because they are, a little, even in his time, or at least they are what he can see becoming friends. 

 

What he cannot see them becoming is this; more than. This is where his Bakugou and this Bakugou diverge. He tolerates his Bakugou now; respects him in some ways, even likes him in some, but he most fucking certainly is not on his way to liking him the way this other Shouto likes him. 

 

The worst thing is that he knows, really knows, that this goes beyond mere liking, that this is something more akin to love, that dreaded thing Shouto has been so tormented by for so long. He doesn’t know love. Certainly it never existed between his parents, and it struggles to exist anywhere in his household. He thinks he might love his friends, but he finds it hard to verbalise, even to himself. To think this is something that exists between him and Katsuki Bakugou is incomprehensible. And yet he knows it does, at least here, because he feels it- has finally put a name on the foreign thread tying all of Bakugou’s actions, the unthinking kindnesses and the look in his eyes. He doesn’t like the way it makes him feel, destabilised, half under attack. 

 

Bakugou shifts in his sleep, turning onto his back, tilted in his direction, and Shouto holds his breath guiltily, but nothing happens. 

 

Bakugou doesn’t look angelic in his sleep; somehow he is still frowning a little, and there is a forever sharpness to him that even sleep cannot erase. He looks altered nonetheless, more like a real person somehow. Shouto watches the sweep of his eyelashes, the freckles on the bridge of his nose, the broad expanse of his chest as he breathes, and only stops when he realises how creepy he would find himself for doing this if he were in his own time again.

 

He gets out of bed, jittery, walks himself to the kitchen and puts the kettle on, only belatedly considering the potential noise. 

 

The thing he keeps coming back to is this: Shouto could, somehow, understanding loving this Bakugou. Not Shouto himself, not really, but a later version of him- he could appreciate this Bakugou, share a life with him. It makes sense. Shouto can’t quite handle him, but he is embarrassingly affected by him anyways- how he looks, how he fights, how he looks at him. 

 

What he cannot understand is loving his own Bakugou. 

 

Perhaps their theories are all wrong. Perhaps this is not his future. It is all he can make sense of- this is, instead, a divergent timeline, some sort of alternate universe, where perhaps Shouto was raised to believe he was both capable of love and deserving of it, where Bakugou was not treated like a young god for all of his infancy and taught how to emote without violence. An alternate reality, in short. Not the likely outcome of his own life. 

 

He is aware that he is wallowing in self-pity, shakes himself. It’s just that they are worlds apart, the two Bakugous- he struggles to trace this one back to his own.

 

The kettle goes. He pours himself tea thoughtlessly, used to the layout of the cabinets by now.

 

For the lack of anything better to do, he returns to his phone, the files Midoriya had found. Perhaps his theory will be of some use here; a quirk matching his new ideas. 

 

Yamazaki Sarada has big eyes and an appalling record, vicious assaults leaving her victims caught in some kind of weird disabled state, unable to use their limbs at a functional rate, and Shouto can guess what Midoriya saw here- someone who manipulated time in relation to the specific individual, slowing their life down so far out of sync with the rest of the world as to ruin it irreparably. 

 

He supposes this could be the broader use of the quirk that hit him- their whole difficulty is that given the fact the quirk was delayed and half-missed, it is very likely his symptoms don’t match up with the user’s usual modus operandi. Still, he can’t see how speeding up or slowing down would quite extend to trading places.

 

Kiba Yuhi looks morose and lifeless, but her crimes are petty, mostly pickpocketing and drunken loitering. What her quirk does is thus ill-explained, but it seems to have to do with making the affected victim undergo a complete personality change and sporadic outbursts. Shouto combs through her file intently, wondering, but the medical reports discourage him somewhat. The personality change seems more akin to schizophrenia, and although Shouto supposes the quirk affecting him might be supposed to make past and present coexist in one body, hers seems more psychological than really temporal. 

 

Inojin Kankuro is the man Bakugou had noted in discussion, whose targets go into prolonged comas and awaken totally disoriented. His quirk seems most closely related to Shouto’s situation, only lacking the fact that Shouto is here, though he can acknowledge the possibility that this is due to the misfire. Maybe his bouts of illness are leading towards the coma. 

 

He considers Inojin’s face, a certain demureness to his looks. The man’s eyes are devoid of any emotion. A life sentence, Shouto notes.

 

Goro Ohuro’s crimes are quite random. Fraud and misrepresentation for his initial sentencing, then a string of robberies, across the years. His original file had him marked quirkless, a strange detail, but he has victims and potential victims in the later years. Almost completely brain-dead for some, apparently- there are a lot of psychological evaluations on file. Some of the luckier targets retained ‘the mental capacity of a child’. A handful succumbed to various ailments in the following year, apparently unrelated, or the man would have incurred far heavier sentences.

 

Shouto frowns. Something in the phrasing is ringing bells, though he is unsure why. 

 

He still has Goro in the back of his mind when Bakugou enters the kitchen, looking up somewhat warily from the file. Bakugou is dressed, so he must not have slept much longer than Shouto, or maybe he’s just fast. 

 

“Hey.”

 

“Good morning,” Shouto says; it comes out softer than he’d intended, and he looks away. Bakugou doesn’t comment on it, thankfully, only checks the tea, crinkles his nose, and puts the kettle on again before stepping closer to examine the files. 

 

“Gotten anywhere?”

 

“I think so,” Shouto offers, a little less tense. “Or- I think some are likelier than others, in any event.” 

 

“Agreed,” Bakugou says. “I was looking through them last night. And, of course, we have the results from your search, so that takes some options out.”

 

“Oh,” Shouto says, having forgotten this. “That’s true. Who wasn’t in my search?”

 

“Her,” Bakugou says, tapping Sarada, “And also the brothers.” 

 

“I didn’t think they were likely suspects anyways,” Shouto notes, maybe a little disappointed. “Quirks didn’t match up.”

 

“Yeah? Who’d you reckon is a likely suspect, then?”

 

“Yuhi potentially, but I was thinking mostly of Inojin, Goro and Tooru.” 

 

Bakugou clicks his tongue. “Not Inojin.”

 

“Why?” Shouto frowns, looking down at the page. “His quirk aligns almost perfectly with my experience.”

 

“Yeah, but his quirk’s not all that matters, dumbass,” Bakugou retorts, exaggeratedly underlining part of his report. “Life sentence. Which means…”

 

“He was in prison when I was attacked,” Shouto surmises, vaguely embarrassed. “Or he was supposed to be, at least.”

 

“He was,” Bakugou corrects. “I had them check surveillance.”

 

“That narrows it down, I suppose.” He glances at their pictures again. “Anyone else not within proximity at the time?”

 

“Yeah, Tooru, funnily enough,” Bakugou gestures. He must have placed more calls than Shouto can recall during his convalescence. “Was at a strip club at the time.”

 

“The staff can confirm that?”

 

Bakugou grins. “He was on stage, so yeah.”

 

Tooru’s headshot seems to smirk suggestively at Shouto, who closes his file maybe a bit too aggressively. “So that means we only really have two suspects.”

 

“Yeah, Yuhi and Goro. They’re the two I was considering as well.” Bakugou leans in to pull their files closer, thoughtful. “I couldn’t find much info on their whereabouts, though. Damn cops love keeping track of our every move, but god fucking forbid they know what the criminals are up to in Tokyo.”

 

Which reminds Shouto. “How is everything after yesterday? The woman- she’s in custody? Were people killed?”

 

Bakugou raises a shoulder, turning to his tea. “Yeah, five. In the first collapse. There are six others in critical condition. A lot of injuries otherwise, but recoverable.” He sets the kettle back. “As for her, we’re sending her back to Spain for her trial. Some sort of ecoterrorist.” 

 

Five people, Shouto thinks. His thoughts turn to Kirishima, instinctively, and he wonders how he slept, if he saw the bodies. The thought of only being called in for crises is suddenly less exciting.

 

“I’m heading in to get some hours done before the gala,” Bakugou says, casual as anything. “I assume you’d want to come with?”

 

“Yes,” Shouto confirms, thoughts difficultly leaving the death toll behind. “Yes, ah. I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.”

 

Bakugou eyes him consideringly. “Shoot.”

 

“So- this is some kind of formal press event?”

 

“Yeah. Classic media shit. I think it’s a fucking ridiculous idea to have so many pro heroes in one place, but who cares about safety when you can get so many great photos, right?” 

 

“What are we supposed to do there?” 

 

“Nothing,” Bakugou snorts. “It’s not even like we need to do interviews. We just have to show up, eat, and not cause a scene. Or maybe actually cause a scene. All publicity is good publicity and all that.”

 

Shouto relaxes a fraction. “So no one is going to expect me to talk to them?”

 

Bakugou pulls a face. “Well- they will. The press adores you. You’ll be swarmed. But you can get away with not answering a lot. Shouto does that anyways.” 

 

“Have- I-“ Shouto pauses to reorganise his thoughts. “What interview was Yaoyorozu referring to the other day?”

 

Bakugou’s expression immediately tightens; his grip on his mug steels. “Shouldn’t come up today.”

 

“But if it does.”

 

The blonde’s eyes flash; he seems to struggle with himself for a bit. “There’s this- a journalist is doing a piece on Endeavour. For the anniversary of his entry into hero work.”

 

He stops there, but Shouto doesn’t need any further, not really. He can guess. The portrait of his father wouldn’t be complete without reference to his children. No doubt they have all been approached for interviews; no doubt Shouto more insistently than the others.

 

“And I didn’t just shut him down?”

 

“No,” Bakugou says, expression stormy and distant. “It’s complicated. I can’t tell you much else.”

 

“Will he be there tonight?” Shouto asks, and hates that he can tell his tone has gone carefully neutral. Bakugou, naturally, can tell this too. 

 

“Doesn’t matter. Just stick to people. As long as you’re talking to other heroes you won’t need to talk to anyone else.”

 

“Okay,” Shouto says. 

 

“Okay.”

 

They sit in silence a while longer, until Bakugou eventually gets up to start on breakfast, and Shouto watches him, almost habitually now. He’s never considered the possibility of not returning to his own life, and he’s not about to, not when they’re making actual progress, but for a moment he wonders. It’ll take some adjusting, upon return. He doesn’t know how he’ll look Bakugou in the eyes.

 

As if psychic, Bakugou clears his throat; Shouto flushes guiltily. 

 

“About the gala.” 

 

“Yes?”

 

Bakugou crosses his arms, glance skittish. “The press doesn’t know. About- this. So we usually play it cool.”

 

It is incomprehensibly awful to talk about it, but Shouto manages. “You’re keeping it secret?”

 

Bakugou frowns, looks away. “It’s none of their damn business. People are obsessed with heroes and their private lives; for some fucking reason their opinions matter. Sponsorship and stability, that kind of shit.”

 

For some reason Shouto swallows down a stung feeling. “I see.”

 

“Not that I give a fuck,” Bakugou mutters, almost to himself, “But neither of us wanted to- Japan’s secret gay pro-hero fling, all that- already threw such a fit when you said you weren’t into women…”

 

“I did?”

 

“Yeah, on national TV,” Bakugou snaps, though it’s not really angry. “Denying your secret marriage to Yaoyorozu again. PR damage control took ages, spinning you as a chaste celibate.”

 

He thinks he understands a little better. “And that worked?”

 

Bakugou snorts. “Yeah. General public thinks you’re some kind of virtuous ice prince. There’s a lot of people interested in popping your cherry.”

 

Shouto chokes heartily on his tea; Bakugou does not look sorry, though he does whack him on the back with slight restraint. 

 

“I’d never considered all the weird porn there must be out there,” Shouto manages a little hoarsely, once he’s regained his breath. He’s seen some scarring things in his heyday, mostly from their group chat, but never concerning any of them. He supposes fame takes many forms. 

 

Bakugou huffs a bitter laugh. “Trust me, you do not fucking want to know. I think the worst moment of my life was accidentally opening one of Kaminari’s links and finding that somehow All Might and Aizawa had some real nasty fetishes concerning me and Deku.”

 

Shouto does not have an adequate response to that, so he only blinks with vague distress as Bakugou stares blankly into space for a moment. “Yes. I didn’t want to know that.”

 

“There’s worse,” Bakugou warns, abruptly coming back to himself. “Anyways, point being- we have to socialise with other people tonight. Just go talk to Deku all night or some shit.” 

 

Shouto nods obediently, refusing to feel like an abandoned child. It’s just that Bakugou is his undeniable safety net here; he instinctively doesn’t like straying far from him. 

 

Briefly, he contemplates that it might actually be somewhat difficult to return to his normal life, for a lack of Bakugou’s company. He’s gotten horribly used to it, considering how long he’s been here. 

 

They get ready efficiently. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, Bakugou has to make less of an effort to hide his routine under subterfuge, calmly combing through the wardrobe to find both of them suits for the event and making the bed distractedly while he reads his emails. They’re out of the door in record time, making the cursed Tokyo morning rush hour in time for Shouto to wish his fainting spells had better timing. 

 

The office is less alien the third time around, and his coworkers greet him politely, some inquiring as to his health, mostly asking about the fight the previous day. Bakugou mostly weathers the inquiries, answering with technical jargon Shouto doesn’t understand and taking the praise where he gets it. 

 

Once he’s in his office, work goes by fast. 

 

He’s wary for most of the early hours that his illness might resurface, but for all that it seems to be occurring earlier, it doesn’t yet seem to have reached his morning hours, which is a relief. He sticks to his office, dreading prolonged social interaction already, figures out that he can get lunch delivered to him, watch some of the surveillance footage he’s clearly been putting off for some time, tries to sort out his adult self’s desk for him. He’s never considered himself a disorganised person, but then he supposes he doesn’t usually have enough things to make a mess of, or not things he considers his own, anyways.

 

He’s just about beginning to watch the clock for time when his phone rings. 

 

It hasn’t rung once in his whole time here- texts and emails aplenty, sure, but never a direct call. Shouto fiddles with the screen, feels his eyebrows climb when his sister’s face appears. 

 

He can’t imagine Fuyumi having good reason to call him unless someone has died, but he counters the immediate spike of anxiety by reminding himself that his relationship with his siblings seems to have evolved in the years after high school. 

 

Answering the phone feels like picking up a live bomb with his bare hands, but he just can’t quite bring himself to let it dial out, not when some part of him is so wholly convinced he’s about to be informed of a funeral he needs to attend, RSVP and genuine tears please.

 

Unwillingly, he picks up.

 

“Hello.” 

 

His voice sounds abrupt to his own ears; he starts when Fuyumi appears on-screen, not having expected to see her face. 

 

“Hi, Shouto,” Fuyumi says, and she looks about as she always does, anxious, a little apologetic, nervously determined. It’s not what Shouto expects she would look like if she was the bearer of serious news. “Is this a bad time?”

 

Yes, Shouto thinks, most definitely. “No. I’m at the office.”

 

“It’s nothing urgent,” Fuyumi says, blue eyes flitting away. He is certain she is tugging at her sleeves off-camera. “I just thought- we should talk about the interview.”

 

He’s not sure what his expression reflects, but it must be too transparent, because she winces before he can formulate a reply. 

 

“I know it’s- we didn’t end the conversation well last time. But I want us all to be on the same page about it.”

 

“Why?” Shouto asks, difficultly. The last thing- the very last thing- he wants to be doing right now is this, taking a call from his sister about whether they will participate in a news piece commemorating their father, getting thrust baldly into whatever twisted intricacies their relationships will consist of in a decade’s time. 

 

Fuyumi takes a moment to sigh, sounding somehow both more and less tired than she usually does. She looks old, Shouto notes, not in the sense that she’s aged poorly, but that she’s aged- a real adult. She’s twenty three in his time; thirty by now, then. Her glasses are better-suited to her face- her hair is shorter. The red streaks seem more prominent than they once were. 

 

“I just want us to be able to talk about these things as a family. It’s not that I want you to do the interview- you don’t have to. But mother said she would, and I am, and Natsuo isn’t, but he’s submitting a prepared statement.” She lifts her glasses to rub at her eyes. “I only want to know what you’ll be doing. That’s all.”

 

Shouto tries not to spit out what he thinks about his mother having to talk to some- some gossip rag, for his father’s ego’s sake, hands curling tight before he manages to regain his cool. “You can do what you like. And I haven’t decided yet.”

 

Fuyumi bites her lip, then looks up, eyes heavy with things past that Shouto has not lived through. “May I ask that you consider the repercussions before you make up your mind?”

 

They are all of them poor communicators, but Fuyumi’s voice has always been the most expressive amongst them. He doesn’t know what hurt he has caused, but hurt has been caused, no doubt callously. He feels strangely detached from the situation nevertheless, unable to take on residual guilt for whatever he might have done. 

 

“I won’t make hasty decisions,” Shouto says, eyeing the door and wishing someone would interrupt them. God knows what delicate tight-rope he’s hurtling off- probably he’s just set back the Todoroki reconciliation by another decade. 

 

“Okay,” Fuyumi breathes, half to herself. He determinedly doesn’t look at her. “Okay. Thank you. Are you going to that big gala tonight?”

 

He almost asks if she is, surprised that she knows, but no, no doubt the event is simply highly mediatised. “I am. We’re going soon, actually.”

 

“That’s nice- I’m sure it will be very beautiful.” Her tone falters into something cautious. “Could you ask after Touya for me?” 

 

Shouto’s eyes jolt back to her, frozen with shock, but there comes a knock on the door, and it just about manages to help him regain an ounce of self-control, voice still a little off when he almost-not-quite meets her eyes. 

 

“I apologise, I have to go. I’ll think about what you said. Send my good wishes to those at home.”

 

Fuyumi’s smile is strained but sincere. “I will. Tobio misses his uncle. Come visit soon, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Shouto echoes, and ends the call, fingers spasming with repressed emotion. 

 

The knocks come again, loud and impatient, and he thinks he calls out, because the door swings open, Bakugou giving him a dirty look as he shoves himself inside. 

 

“No, don’t mind me, take your precious time.” 

 

His expression almost immediately shifts when their eyes meet, gaze flitting to the phone still clenched between Shouto’s fingers and back upwards. 

 

“Fuyumi?”

 

“She has children?” Shouto asks, hates that it sounds so shell-shocked. Of course Fuyumi has children. She’s thirty. No doubt she is happily married in some cosy Musutafu house. 

 

“Hah? Yeah, two,” Bakugou grunts, leaning back against the file cabinet. “A baby and a kid.” 

 

“Oh,” Shouto says. He tries to picture these children, can only see little clones of his siblings, though this is no doubt incorrect, unless Fuyumi has married someone with the same genetic scheme. 

 

Bakugou shifts; Shouto swallows. “You okay?”

 

“I,” Shouto begins, ready to deny all charges, except he doesn’t really know why he would. Bakugou has heard worse, no doubt. “I just can’t imagine any of us raising children.”

 

He leaves out the without ruining them for life, but he assumes that’s self-evident. Bakugou nods, pulling a face, rests on his elbows. 

 

“Yeah, well. Those two seem like perfectly ordinary fucking kids. Dumb as rocks, both of ‘em.”

 

It’s a rude thing to say about someone’s children, but Shouto finds himself smiling despite himself. “Don’t tell me you’ve met them.”

 

“Once or twice,” Bakugou glares. “Not my choice.”

 

“Yeah, I can imagine,” Shouto sighs, though he feels somewhat more himself. “Remedial course. Neither of us was exactly anyone’s ideal babysitter.”

 

Bakugou barks out a laugh. “Shit, I’d forgotten about that. Fucking Camie and her glamours.”

 

“I still don’t know what she did that was so funny.”

 

“Nah, you wouldn’t,” Bakugou agrees, grin wide. “Anyways. Came to tell you we should get going. We’re supposed to be by the New Takanawa in two hours, and we still need to get changed and shit.” 

 

“We’re going to the Grand Prince Hotel? Isn’t that for movie awards?” 

 

“We’re way more interesting than a bunch of actors,” Bakugou snorts. “Point being, traffic’s a bitch, let’s get going.”

 

Shouto nods, then abruptly remembers Touya, and his stomach clenches again. He is so very tempted to ask.

 

“Let’s go, then.”

 

They take the taxi this time, who takes a long detour through Koto city as they exit Chiyoda- to avoid the swarms of paparazzi, Bakugou says. Shouto finds it very hard to pay attention to anything with the roiling feeling in his gut. 

 

Touya. Hawks, he guesses, was referring not to Natsuo, but to his eldest brother, whom Shouto remembers very little and knows even less about. His memories of Touya are vague- he remembers his face, more akin to Shouto’s than Natsuo’s or Fuyumi’s, his red hair; he recalls him as he used to recall his siblings in their totality, a distant figure. Touya more than the others takes on an antagonistic role in his memory, but this he knows is not his brother’s doing- he remembers more vividly than anything his father’s words, praising Touya’s firepower, denouncing his weak constitution. He remembers Touya’s departure mostly in the void it left, how his father had failed to inform him of it for days afterwards. 

 

He had been kept so very separate from the others. Even now, Fuyumi and Natsuo never utter a word about their lost brother. He had thought him dead for a long time. Still, he knows they know more than he does- recalls Natsuo’s outburst, in the aftermath of his father’s injury, the blame squarely placed on his head for what happened to Touya. 

 

In this future, if it is that, then, Touya has resurfaced in some way, enough so that Fuyumi is aware of him, talks of him with trepidation but not like this is novel. Touya has resurfaced, and Shouto is expected to be able to ask about him at a hero event. From Hawks, presumably, if their interaction is to be relied upon, though god knows why. Hawks and his brother would have been about the same age, he thinks, though he cannot remember what Touya’s birth year was. They sounded friendly. 

 

Perhaps Hawks rescued him at some point. He can’t help but think of the line of the work Hawks is in, wonder what exactly Hawks would be likely to rescue someone from if not themselves.

 

He exhales, frost hanging off his lips. This is not his business. He does not know these people, not really, not yet, and he does not know these things. He will not ask after Touya Todoroki at this gala. 

 

“Rainbow Bridge,” Bakugou says, presumptuous, startling Shouto into looking at him. He’s on his phone, frowning as always, gaze studious as he considers the screen.  

 

“Sorry?” 

 

Bakugou looks up, clearly still half-engrossed in his reading. He gestures out. “Rainbow Bridge. We’re crossing it now.”

 

Shouto looks. Oddly the sight affects him more than he expects. He has missed much of the landscape, lost in thought, but Tokyo is still foreign and compelling, and the iconic bridge towers impressively over the wharf. 

 

There are so many people. Tourists crowding the bay, cars impatient as they cross, bikes ringing urgently by. The taxi crosses the bridge leisurely, their driver impassive, and the whole of Minato and Shingawa rolls into sight. Somehow it is a relief, perhaps a reassurance, to watch this mass of humanity go about its day. All of these people have their own lives, their own concerns, their own missing brothers. They persevere.

 

“Have you ever been to the observation deck here?” Shouto asks, leaning against the window to stare out at the water. Bakugou scoffs.

 

“Figures you’d ask. You love Koto.”

 

“So yes?” 

 

“Yes,” Bakugou allows, amused and beleaguered. “Fucking tourist.”

 

Shouto raises a brow. “You’re a tourist here too.”

 

Bakugou cuffs him on the back of the head.

 

They slow to a crawl by the ever-busy station before the Grand Prince comes into view, and Shouto is decisively distracted, curious as the great white building rises above them. 

 

“It’s sort of- ugly.”

 

“It’s hideous,” Bakugou agrees, so feelingly Shouto smiles. “The inside is passable, but the outside looks like the damn UA designers were on a budget. Thank fuck they stick us in the banquet hall.”

 

Shouto’s seen pictures of the Grand Hotel only once or twice, during award ceremony season, but he thinks he recalls he banquet halls- vast and chandeliered, all golden extravagance and glamour. 

 

“Where will we get changed?”

 

“They have dressing rooms,” Bakugou says, careless, “But I reckon we’ll get private rooms this year.”

 

It’s the first time since the tram that Shouto has really felt like a celebrity. “Really?”

 

“Yeah. Didn’t use to get those when we’d just graduated,” Bakugou snorts. “Fucking intern jobs.”

 

They get out of the taxi on a back street upon Bakugou’s insistence, which Shouto understands when the clamour of photographers and journalists reaches their ears before they’re even half-way down the street. Bakugou just marches on, unconcerned, and a man raises a hand upon their approach, gesturing to a side-entrance. 

 

“Ground Zero. Shouto. It is an honour to have you here.”

 

Bakugou frowns in assent. They cross the lobby mostly unperturbed; Shouto assumes that in typical Bakugou fashion they are extremely early. Some small groups of people have already formed, and the staff definitely point, but they reach the elevators and subsequently their floor with minor interruptions. 

 

“Thank fuck,” Bakugou groans, once he’s slammed the door to their really rather impressive suite. “Fuck, I hate press events.”

 

He looks disconcertingly like the Bakugou Shouto knows, riled up and muttering murderously under his breath. Shouto ducks his head to avoid doing something stupid like staring at him for too long.

 

It strikes him when he enters the bathroom to change that he is a complete fool and should have fought tooth and nail not to come to this gala, because he is changing into a suit. A nice suit. And Bakugou is doing the same. And Shouto is going to spend a whole evening in front of cameras. 

 

He thunks his head against the bathroom mirror in actual desperation. Perhaps avoidance is the healthiest alternative after all. 

 

He tries to be as slow as humanely possible in doing up his suit, then actually tries to groom his hair, a sense of looming doom hanging over his head as he does. 

 

“How fucking long does it take to put a suit on?” Bakugou yells through the door, Shouto hitting himself in the eye with the bottle of cologne he’d been handed along with his clothes. 

 

“I’m finished,” Shouto calls back, which is true in more ways than one. 

 

The bathroom door opening is a more terrifying experience than the tree nearly crushing him. He almost- almost- manages to make a break for it without looking down from the ceiling, but Bakugou grabs him firmly by the shoulders, lifts him off his feet, and deposits him back by his side, facing the mirror. Shouto can only say his prayers and meet his eye resignedly.

 

It is worse than he had anticipated. 

 

“What’s going on now?” Bakugou demands, staring him down, and Shouto can only chorus a helpless oh god oh god oh god as he completely fails to muster a response. He thinks he makes some kind of strangled noise.

 

It’s one thing to have your dawning suspicions of your sexuality to be brutally confirmed by the sight of one of your less friendly classmates. It is another thing entirely when Bakugou is like this, tailored in sleek black, the lines of his suit drawing Shouto’s extremely treacherous eyes to the breadth of his shoulders and his narrow waist, golden embroidery on his lapel outshone by the glint of his eyes. Shouto has never even thought of the term breath-taking in conscious memory, but it feels extremely apt, because he feels as though he has lost his basic respiratory functions.

 

Bakugou is scrutinising him intently, but his glower recedes with understanding, eyes half-lidded with unspoken taunting. 

 

“Stop that,” Shouto gripes, regrettably whiny; Bakugou’s lip curls, glib. 

 

“The fuck am I doing?” 

 

He’s so- of course he knows, because he and this Shouto are an item, and no doubt this Shouto can dish out as good as he gets, would turn this into some kind of flirtation, would- they share a bed, Bakugou had called him chaste like this was hilarious. 

 

Oh, god. Shouto turns red in waves, not entirely sure that his skin isn’t literally sizzling. He squeezes his eyes shut, fights to recover his voice.

 

“I’m glad to see you have not lost an ounce of your terminally awful personality across the years. I would have missed the casual sadism.”

 

It is miraculously cutting, but of course Bakugou only laughs, sharp and cocky. “You can’t keep your eyes shut all night, you know.”

 

Shouto opens them mutinously. The mirror is faintly steamed up, which he refuses to acknowledge responsibility for. “Fine, then.”

 

“Don’t be rude,” Bakugou admonishes, like the bastard he is, and spins Shouto to face him. “Gotta look people in the eyes.”

 

Shouto gives up, head sagging helplessly. “Seriously, Bakugou-”

 

Bakugou takes mercy, releasing him with one last smug smirk and fixing his hair. “Forgot you used to be so easily impressed. You look good too, you know.”

 

Shouto groans dramatically, mainly to cover how rapidly this melts his insides.

 

“My old man made the suits,” Bakugou informs him, eye gone critical as he surveys them. “Fucking jumped for joy at the chance to dress you. Ingrate.”

 

“They’re beautiful,” Shouto notes, surprised. They are- the needlework on Bakugou’s is stunning, and the material is incredibly rich. Shouto’s own suit fits him perfectly, pearly more than white, silvers of his lapel working to the advantage of his bone structure in ways he doesn’t understand. “I didn’t know your father worked in the fashion industry.”

 

“’S how my parents met,” Bakugou says, seeming satisfied at last. Shouto is more comfortable when he’s examining him like a challenge than like a person. “I think I heard All Might arrive earlier; should probably head down if we want decent seats.”

 

Shouto wonders what is worse: his in-depth examination of Bakugou’s eyelashes, or hours of socialising uncomfortably with strangers. The hours of socialising seem slightly less emotionally taxing.

 

They enter the foray rather brusquely, reception teeming with flashing lights. Shouto finds himself squinting painfully at the glare of the cameras, overwhelmed by the volume; Bakugou rotates him by the elbow, facing the main host of photographers with a challenging glare. Shouto is too self-conscious to follow suit, falling back on his usual paparazzi tactic, which is staring flatly into space and trying to emulate the emotional depth of a block of stone.

 

For some reason, the photographers seem thrilled, calling rapturously at them both and requesting angles and poses. Bakugou tolerates this with greater patience than expected, but he seems close to diving forwards and crushing equipment once or twice, which effectively quietens the horde. Shouto bows awkwardly at them when they finally extricate themselves, and Bakugou leans in without touching him, voice modulated so no one within earshot can hear him.

 

“Splitting up. Go find Deku- he’s probably near the entrance still.”

 

“Where are you going?” Shouto inquires, vaguely alarmed for all that he had expected this. Bakugou inclines his head.

 

“I need to drink to get through this shit.” 

 

Shouto nods mutely, and he must be more easy to read than he likes, because Bakugou’s irked posture relaxes a fraction.

 

“Look, we’re seated at the same table, so I’ll see you at dinner. Don’t freak out.”

 

Shouto would like to state for the record that he is not the type to freak out, but the moment Bakugou has vanished from sight, faces he half recognises in every direction, he panics mildly. 

 

“Hey, Todoroki!” 

 

Kendo from 1-B has aged gracefully, fringe gone and hair copper-tinted, but she is a familiar face nonetheless, and Todoroki lets her approach with only slight anxiety. 

 

“This place is stunning,” Kendo notes, admiring in a sort of brusque manner, dusty pink plumes trailing after her in a stately manner as she moves. “Perks of Tokyo work, right?”

 

“Right,” Todoroki says. 

 

She shakes her head; Todoroki wonders how she possibly got her hair so sleek and shiny. “God, you must be swamped. Hard work being the top hero in the country, huh?”

 

“Ah,” Todoroki mumbles, weathering this particular revelation rather better than he had stomached the others. “It’s harder work staying there.”

 

Kendo snorts with laughter before stifling her grin into a smile. “I bet! How is Bakugou? I saw you two on television yesterday- fantastic work, as always.”

 

The latter is said wryly but sincerely, and Shouto inclines his head, a little flustered. “Thank you. He’s fine. Didn’t want to be here.”

 

“I can believe that,” Kendo smiles. “Takes me back to my internship days. Thought it was all a joke at the time, but hey, here I am, taking pretty pictures in my sponsored Versace dress.”

 

“I don’t even know my designer’s name,” Shouto realises, which is disconcerting, somehow, like he owes it to Bakugou’s father. Kendo only laughs.

 

From there, the following hours are a blur of people and conversations that go more easily than he expected. He talks to Shindo, who barbs him about a rescue mission he knows nothing about, Amajiki again, who seems like he wants desperately to perish on the spot, clutching his champagne glass so hard it cracks, somehow also Monoma, who has absolutely not changed. He is forced into prolonged conversation with Miruko Usagiyama of all people, whom he has never even met, and who very uproariously denounces him to a group of strangers about pushing him down the hero ranking ladder. 

 

He runs into Iida and his brother when he attempts to flee to the restroom (he never makes it there), which is a massive relief. Iida is still very much the same, voice booming and expression eternally caught between seriousness and geniality. He looks handsome in his suit, a shade darker than his hair, spends about five minutes just greeting Shouto enthusiastically before getting him into conversation. Tensei is equally pleasant, though far more laid-back. Shouto finds the both of them easy to talk to, perhaps because they also stem from a lineage of pro-heroes. Their conversation lasts for a fair while, all quirk technicalities and abstract comments on the event that Shouto doesn’t have to pretend to know more about than he does.

 

He makes it to the bar after the two of them depart in search of some person they apparently are all mutually acquainted with, exchanging nods with Beast Jeanist where he stands surrounded by finely-dressed bystanders. He almost doesn’t recognise him at first for the lack of denim.

 

“Hey. Shouto.”

 

“Hitoshi,” Shouto manages, only just remembering Shinsou’s first name. Of all the people, he wouldn’t have reckoned on his apparent future friendship with Shinsou of all people. 

 

“Driven to drink?” Shinsou inquires, deadpan. He looks very different with his hair tied back, almost reminiscent of Aizawa at that press conference. Shouto wonders not for the first time if they’re secretly related. The similarities are too plentiful. 

 

“Not quite,” Shouto responds, trying to figure out what kind of attitude he is expected to convey. First name basis had been strange enough with Midoriya, let alone someone he cannot remember even speaking a word to. “Just running out of conversational topics.”

 

Shinsou inclines his head in understanding. “Relatable. Although I can’t complain, I suppose. The paparazzi are still under the vague impression that shouting at me will lead me to walk them off a cliff.”

 

Shouto does not reply to this, but he thinks his expression says enough, because the corners of Shinsou’s mouth tilt upwards. 

 

“Are you here with anyone?”

 

Shinsou raises a shoulder. “Technically I came here with the 1-B lot, but I’m apparently also going to chargebolt et co’s afterparty.”

 

Kaminari, Shouto surmises, and thinks it little surprise that he might have worn down even Shinsou’s walls over time. “Free agent, then.”

 

“Shackled by social convention, more like.” Shinsou sips his wine thoughtfully. “You look good, by the way. Nice tux. Very heir to the throne vibes.”

 

“Ah,” Shouto says, a little taken aback, hot under the collar. “Thank you. So do you.”

 

It’s more automatic than sincere, but he finds he means it. All of the guests look good, dressed to the nines and photo-ready, but his classmates look matured, too, and it suits them. 

 

“I was going to ask about work, but I feel like that’s all anyone is going to talk about all night,” Shinsou says, folding his arms behind his back. “So onto more important things. You know there’s a cat café basically right next to your office?”

 

Shouto suddenly understands why he is friends with Hitoshi Shinsou.

 

Having survived the hellscape of the socialite hero milieu, he finds his depleting energy restored somewhat once they’re sat down. Someone might be making a speech, he thinks; he’s distracted by the food, and the lights, and the fact he’s sitting surrounded by people he actually knows. It’s hard having a quiet conversation when everything is so loud and people keep clamouring for toasts, though, and Midoriya has to swap places with Uraraka because she was accidentally served food she’s allergic to, depriving Shouto of his most reliable conversational companion. Uraraka is just as good company older than she is young, but she’s equally very high energy, and Shouto is growing increasingly tempted to freeze into solid ice for some respite. 

 

He’s never around people in such an intense capacity. His throat feels sore from overuse, and he keeps being unintentionally rude by completely zoning out in conversation to stare at Bakugou across the table. 

 

“Your suit is lovely,” Uraraka comments, when desert comes around. “Bakugou’s father is so talented.”

 

“Yes,” Shouto answers, nodding at her dress. “You look nice too.”

 

“Ah, this was pulled out of a retail store,” Uraraka laughs, thumbing the ruffles around her shoulders. “No designer dress for me.”

 

“Don’t you have a pro hero salary?”

 

“Well- old habits die hard, okay? Don’t call me cheap!” Uraraka responds, blushing. Shouto raises his hands innocently. “I meant to say good job for yesterday, too. I haven’t seen that ice wall in years.”

 

“I wish we had gotten there sooner.”

 

Uraraka’s smile fades, eyes gentle but distant. “Don’t we always.”

 

He’s not sure why, but this prompts him to grow restless, and he watches Bakugou for a moment, who has finally managed to subdue Kaminari from whatever tangent he was on, Kirishima laughing raucously by his side. 

 

“You look good,” Uraraka says. Shouto almost wants to say she’s already told him that, but her voice tells him she means something different, so he meets her eyes cautiously. She seems wistful, maybe proud. “Both of you.”

 

He wonders who Uraraka has in her life, if she is with Midoriya or Iida perhaps, if she is happy and in love. She seems the type of girl to be happy and in love, but he doesn’t know her enough to be sure, nor her life in this world. 

 

Out loud he says: “It’s the lighting. It’s very flattering.”

 

She snorts; the moment passes. “Tell that to me tomorrow when I come out looking like shit in the fashion magazines and Katsuki goddamned Bakugou and his flawless skin make page one.”

 

“He does have good skin.”

 

They are ushered off into a lounge after the meal, and Shouto feels like he has forgotten the feeling of fresh air on his skin and the sight of daylight. He gets flung out of orbit again, but he’s not in the mood for more stilted small talk, and manages through superhuman effort to plow through the crowd and attach himself firmly to Bakugou’s side.

 

“Wow, that bad?” Bakugou asks, critically, as Shouto resists the urge to lean into him and fall asleep. All these fainting spells are a bad influence on him.

 

“Don’t make me speak,” Shouto warns, plaintively. Bakugou snorts.

 

“C’mon, we’ll go sit in a corner and make fun of everyone’s terrible fashion choices. Have you seen that asshole from 1-B is here in a striped tux?”

 

“Your refusal to admit you know his name is admirable.”

 

They do go sit in a corner and mock the fashion choices of their company, though this is mainly Bakugou’s doing, as Shouto sits and listens contentedly to his bizarrely technical and actually very mean take-down of various people’s clothes. It’s a good pass-time until journalists begin to circle them. 

 

“I thought the journalists wouldn’t intervene if we were talking to other heroes.”

 

“Guess they’re getting brave,” Bakugou mutters murderously, eyeing the interviewer not-so-subtly inching closer. Shouto feels himself physically shrivel up and die at the idea of taking an interview. 

 

“How much longer do we have to stay?”

 

Bakugou considers him, then quite abruptly stands up, dusting his shoulders. “Not a second longer. Want to go chase down our potential duo?”

 

“Won’t Yaoyorozu want us to stick around?” Shouto asks, unable to repress the delirious hope in his voice. “For the afterparty?”

 

“Nah, this was a record appearance,” Bakugou scoffs. “Now let’s go kick some villain ass. I have Yuhi’s last known address.”

 

Shouto swears he hears an angelic chorus as they rush out of the building, barely saying their goodbyes and relishing the clear disappointment amongst the press as they go. Bakugou doesn’t even head up for their clothes; they’ll come back later, Shouto assumes, or maybe never, if he can help it. He doesn’t care; he feels free, relief like a drug as Bakugou manhandles him out of the hotel. 

 

The feeling is only intensified the further they get from the venue, clamouring crowds vanishing from sight. Minato is a luxurious quarter of Tokyo anyways, all fancy restaurants and glamorous casinos; even in their suits they don’t look too out of place in the crowds once Bakugou has navigated them a while away. Their pace slows then; he doesn’t think either of them has said anything since they left, but it’s sort of nice, the quiet. He can’t imagine Bakugou enjoys small talk either. 

 

Shouto is watching the neon lights flashing above a cinema with a certain reverie when the thought abruptly strikes him, and his heart skips a beat.

 

“Bakugou.”

 

“What?”

 

He is probably wildly overreaching. “Where are the major casino areas in Tokyo?”

 

Bakugou frowns, Shouto holds his breath. “Chiyoda and Minato, I think.” He opens his mouth to demand explanation, but the thought must land, as his eyes widen in understanding. “Ohuro.

 

“I was in Chiyoda on Friday,” Shouto says. They stare at each other for a moment. “Would it be too much of a coincidence?” 

 

“Might just be lucky,” Bakugou mutters, expression calculating. “We know he goes for casinos, and Hawks said he wasn’t a part of the main attack on Friday, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He should be avoiding the area since he was recognised there.”

 

“His profile said he was an opportunist,” Shouto notes. “If the major heroes were off at dinner, serving as a point of interest for tourists and fans, the area would be busy enough for him to make a profit if he rigged a game or two.”

 

“Shit,” Bakugou curses, eyes blazing with anticipation. “Good thing we’re dressed for the casino, huh?”

 

Of course, they don’t exactly just walk into the first casino and find their man. Casinos apparently are just as boring and overwhelming as super hero galas, and they’re recognised, too, which must be bad PR. As predicted, the area is teeming with folk hoping to catch a glimpse of a hero, and they are rabid in their attention, Bakugou’s remonstrances only just able to keep them at bay. Shouto stops feeling bad for rebuking them once someone lunges for his dick with alarming focus.

 

By their third casino, Bakugou just heads for the reception and loudly demands access to surveillance. It makes the job a lot easier, but no more enjoyable.

 

Shouto is seriously beginning to consider calling it a night by the sixth. His fever seems to be threatening to make a comeback, leaving him groggy and discontented, and he has decided he hates casinos. The people in it seem plenty suspicious on their own rights- maybe they can just arrest one at random, luck out.

 

He has finally decided to tell Bakugou to back off before the latter finally blows up and kills someone (in particular: the valet currently trying very hard to convince him to hold a ‘celebrity gambling event’) when someone in his line of sight freezes noticeably a few tables away. 

 

Shouto turns. Goro Ohuro visibly pales.

 

He breaks into a sprint without speaking a word, trusting Bakugou will follow, but Ohuro is faster than expected, and clearly knows to navigate the layout of a casino far better than him, surprised patrons spinning like tops as he races by them. No matter- when he hits the stairs Shouto throws himself over the edge of the ramp, ice saving his landing as he goes running after the man. Ohuro must sense his advantage dwindling, because he volleys what looks like a swarm of cogs at his head, which Shouto blocks easily. The crowd around them parts in a panic, slowing Shouto down somewhat as he tries to avoid crushing anyone, but before Ohuro can dive into the throng the pillar in front of him explodes violently, flinging him backwards and off-balance as Bakugou hurtles down towards the front doors.

 

Ohuro’s eyes look wild with panic as he swerves this way and that; Shouto almost pities him. It’s obvious he wouldn’t ever willingly have attacked someone who so outranked him.

 

Ohuro’s quirk hits a waitress near Shouto, who screams and falls to her knees. Shouto’s pity vanishes. 

 

His fever is definitely returning by the time they hit the third floor, his actions only kept precise by his intense focus. He’s already battling sensory overload, and both he and Bakugou’s quirks are incredibly restricted by the surroundings- there are people everywhere, and the building risks collapse at the slightest hit, so they’re reduced to very limited attacks. Shouto has not yet mastered high-level efficiency in small spaces, but Bakugou evidently has, because he manages to hit the singular step Ohuro is leaping towards just enough that his foot passes through it, sending him sprawling to the floor amidst cries of panic. 

 

Shouto half-thinks they have him cornered, but Ohuro lashes out in great swathes of his quirk, customers screaming, and Bakugou has to relocate to avoid being hit, Shouto detained by the necessity of shielding the onlookers. By the time he’s secured them, Ohuro is off again, breaching the casino doors with great ruckus. 

 

Shouto reaches the outside fast, driven and spurred on by how woozy his sight is getting, but Bakugou is faster, expression furious and focus singular. He grabs Ohuro by the leg and flings him neatly through the air before he can make a move, sending him flying into a tree; the bystanders gasp and run as Shouto approaches.

 

Ohuro, however, increasingly desperate, is now distributing hits like free candy, and his aim is so poor anywhere is a fair target. Shouto tries to freeze a perimeter, but it’s hard to do so at random without catching someone out, and his headache is making his eyesight blur. 

 

One grey burst of light escapes his shield by mere seconds; Bakugou flings himself full-body into the crowd, knocking them out of the way, Shouto’s pulse thudding loudly with relief. He is almost too late to see the glint in Ohuro’s eyes as he aims his next blow directly at Bakugou where he helps a woman to her feet. 

 

Almost. 

 

The attack never leaves Ohuro’s hand. Ice flows from Shouto’s arms like an unfurling wave, hurtling down the street and carrying Ohuro with it with biblical rage as people scream and run out of the way. By the time the structure has crystallised, it towers over the buildings, Ohuro a small figure caught amidst great glaciers, shouting vague threats over the stunned silence. 

 

Shouto’s self-control might be slipping a little. 

 

“Got him?” Bakugou asks, tightly, as he approaches. Shouto only nods. Bakugou’s nostrils flare. 

 

“Good.”

 

Shouto has seen Bakugou exuding about every variant of anger, but not this dark throb of violence, all the rage in the world coming off him in tightly controlled waves. It’s actually intimidating; if Shouto weren’t a bit ill and unsettlingly sure it’s not a threat to him he might even have backed off a little. He thinks Ohuro might not emerge from the confrontation fit for questioning- and that’s it, he realises, Bakugou is about to murder the guy not because of some street skirmish but because he sent his Shouto careening through time. 

 

Well, shit. Shouto starts to go after him, which is easier said than done, because even walking steadily Bakugou is fast, climbing the glacier like a stairwell and coming to a halt long before Shouto has reached him.

 

He expects Bakugou to explode the guy’s face off. He expects Bakugou to yell and throw him through a ceiling somewhere. What he does not expect is for Bakugou to reach his spot atop the ice, deactivate his gauntlets, and crouch to calmly meet Ohuro’s eyes. 

 

“I’m innocent, you have nothing on me, call my lawyer,” Ohuro babbles, as Shouto draws nearer, then abruptly switches tactics, straining against the ice- “If you don’t let me go I’ll get both of you, you’ll see-“

 

“Fuck you,” Bakugou says, dispassionately, and punches him so hard that Shouto hears bone break. 

 

Ohuro screams like Bakugou has just set him on fire. 

 

“You sick bastard! You motherfucker! Touch me again and I’ll-“

 

Bakugou punches him again. 

 

If there is a god, Shouto thinks, as Ohuro squeals ear-splittingly, then he is a generous one, for allowing him to stay conscious this long. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It is a good thing for everyone’s sake that Katsuki’s body is upheld at the absolute peak performance standard, so that even upon reaching his room several hours later than he would usually go to sleep, he manages to awaken at his usual time feeling only somewhat disgruntled.

 

He dresses quickly, fixes himself some food, and decides on going for a run despite the faintly ominous wind howling outside. He needs time alone, first of all, and also maybe some time to sort through his thoughts. His mind flies to the previous night the moment he reaches the outdoors.

 

It’s a miracle Aizawa hadn’t physically dragged them into his office by the ear, but Katsuki thinks Todoroki might’ve had a point about the whole caring thing, because he’d managed nonetheless to sneak them in without Endeavour knowing it. 

 

He had grilled them separately, then together, like some kind of shitty cop show, except without a good cop to compensate for how fucking freaky it was to have his intensely bloodshot eyes boring into you. Sometimes Katsuki thinks Aizawa’s quirk might have some secondary effect where he can disarm people psychologically as well as physically. Not that he’d been particularly unsettled himself, considering he was telling the truth and none of the whole fiasco was his fault, thanks very much. 

 

“I believe you,” Aizawa had said eventually, arms crossed like this didn’t mean he wasn’t still very tempted to just pull the whole disposing corpses schtick. “You’re nowhere near mastering your quirk this well as of yet.” 

 

Katsuki would have bristled in his position, but Todoroki had only inclined his head. “Bakugou picked up on that too.”

 

“That’s the other thing,” Aizawa had nodded, gaze heavy on Katsuki and tone more returned to its usual monotony. “Bakugou would never skip class without good reason.”

 

“Course not,” Katsuki had muttered, wondering resentfully why it felt like Todoroki was amused by this. 

 

“You’ve still broken innumerable school rules,” Aizawa had continued, gesturing at papers on his desk. “Not that I know which ones. But this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated. I expected better, Bakugou.”

 

“It’s not his fault,” Todoroki had interjected, before Katsuki could decide how to react to this, definitely not fighting a flush of shame. “I was the one who orchestrated it all. And I forced him to come with me.”

 

Aizawa’s expression had translated very clearly how likely he found all of this. “You forced him.”

 

“Yes,” Todoroki had said, unscrupulous. “Dragged him kicking and screaming, as it were.”

 

Katsuki had mutinously held Aizawa’s stare until he finally rolled his eyes. “I’ll put that on the record.” It had sounded an awful lot like we all know even the League of Villains failed to make Bakugou do anything he didn’t want to do, but I’m going to be lenient and not dispute this because frankly I have other shit to do and I am not paid enough to deal with this. 

 

With that out of the way, the mood of their little meeting had turned rapidly business-like, Aizawa grilling Todoroki about the specifics of his situation, the man who had attacked him, the way his quirk worked, the exact symptoms of his illness. Unlike Katsuki, he had been completely unconcerned with the fact this was Todoroki from the future, discussing all of this like it was all some everyday class debate. 

 

Unsurprisingly, he was quick to get to the core questions.

 

“So you’re still unsure as to the exact working of this quirk.”

 

“Ohuro’s file shows him as quirkless,” Todoroki had said, pointing to Katsuki’s phone. “I believe he himself does not fully understand its workings.”

 

Aizawa’s brows had drawn together. “That could prove inconvenient. Especially if he is much more inexperienced in the present time.”

 

“When I looked into his file on Saturday, I noted that it was classed as psychological, giving his victims the mental capacity of a child.”

 

Aizawa got there before Katsuki had the time to put two and two together. “You think he exchanges his targets with their childhood selves.”

 

Todoroki had nodded, and Katsuki’d repressed an unwilling shudder of anger. Switching an adult and a child- even thoughtlessly, the impact would be devastating. An adult mind trapped helplessly in the body of an infant, unable to communicate its situation for years, maybe, knowing it was losing a race against the clock- and on the other end, a small child put into the body of an adult, completely unable to look after themselves, everyone the person knew at that age devastated by their apparent mental break. 

 

“I was right to think the quirk had failed in its goal, but I had thought it to have missed completely, not hit me residually. Luckily his aim was shoddy and his attempt weak.”

 

Aizawa’s eyes had gone very dark, surveying them. “Lucky indeed.” 

 

The discussion had turned to technicalities; Aizawa noting the scarcity of time-related quirks, the little known research into them. 

 

“Eri is the one person I know with a pure affective quirk of that nature, though Rewind regresses the individual completely, instead of splitting them across time. Unfortunately, we have little idea of how to undo the effects of it.”

 

Katsuki hadn’t even considered the kid; from the look on Todoroki’s face, he hadn’t either. Aizawa had seemed lost in thought, though, failing to register their expressions. 

 

“So Ohuro is in prison.”

 

“I know procedurally this is a delicate matter,” Todoroki had noted, frown reappearing, “But I should stress the importance of speed.”

 

Aizawa had inclined his head, eyes shutting in thought. “I understand that. But it’ll be difficult to gain access to a random prisoner so extensively without having to re-explain the whole situation.”

 

“You’ll have to figure something out,” Katsuki had declared, crossing his arms. “Todoroki’s getting worse and worse on the daily, both in terms of the effects and in terms of when he starts feeling like shit. Fuck knows what’s going on on the other side. Even if we do get shit fixed, the swap could do permanent damage to both of ‘em. There’s no time to waste on procedure.” 

 

It was the first time he had spoken up in some time, mostly content to sit silently scowling at the desk, and his company had considered him for a beat. Even now Katsuki can still recall the sudden and bizarre realisation that he was the sole child in a room of adults. 

 

“Point taken,” Aizawa’d said, simply. “I can pull some strings. I’ll do what I can so that none of this comes up, at least not until we have you back to your respective times.” 

 

Todoroki had nodded thoughtfully. “So my father won’t be involved?”

 

“I can’t see why it would be necessary,” Aizawa had shrugged. “Though we will have to find some excuse for your illness. Mic improvised and convinced him you couldn’t be seen because you were contagious and had to be quarantined.”

 

“You lied?” Katsuki had asked, taken aback, though he couldn’t say he was particularly upset to hear there would be no seeing Endeavour any time soon. Then he’d frowned. “And he bought that shit?”

 

“Mic can be very insistent.” 

 

Todoroki had only snorted. 

 

They had spoken a while longer, Aizawa half tapping away on his laptop and half asking them more broad questions about the past few days, namely “how exactly you broke out of UA twice within a day”. Katsuki swore he’d looked almost proud through his death stare when they explained the latter. 

 

“One thing I don’t understand is why you approached Bakugou,” Aizawa had asked, finally, setting his laptop aside. “Obviously his quirk is very flexible, but in terms of your specific goals I would have thought someone more suited to stealth or fast travel would have come to mind.” He had left the whole plus you two barely tolerate each other on the regular and Bakugou isn’t exactly a team player unsaid.

 

Katsuki had tried very hard to stay still as Todoroki, for the first time, had adopted the expression of a deer caught in the headlights. “Ah, I. Well. He.” 

 

Aizawa’s expression had not shifted one bit; Katsuki had begun to contemplate if it was possible to hang himself with his scarf. 

 

“He figured me out first,” Todoroki finally supplied, lamely. “So I didn’t really have a choice.”

 

I was very clearly your best option in this shithole, and you sought me out, you fucker, Katsuki had not said aloud. 

 

Aizawa had let them go with assurances regarding emergency staff meetings and getting Endeavour off the premises, though he had detained Katsuki briefly for possibly the most mortifying conversation he’d ever had, considering him impassively.

 

“Why didn’t you come to any staff about this?”

 

“Wasn’t sure what the hell was going on at first,” Katsuki had muttered, scowling at the floor. “Then half ’n half didn’t let me because of his whole paranoid schtick.” 

 

Evidently, there was more to it than that, as Katsuki was not known for waiting for permission to act, but Aizawa had accepted this, narrowing his eyes slightly. “And you trusted his story.”

 

“I mean, he could use his fire.” His palms had crackled, maybe in admission. “It was hard to think about telling someone when we were running around chasing down some time-travel bullshit. Plus he kept passing out.”

 

Despite himself he hopes that had been apology enough, not for his record’s sake but because he doesn’t particularly want to leave Aizawa under the impression he doesn’t trust him. He thinks Aizawa understood, anyways.

 

“You two have proven uncharacteristically efficient together,” Aizawa had noted, something like pulling teeth under his deadpan. “Can I expect more of this in the classroom, now?”

 

“No,” Katsuki had snapped, reddening for no fucking reason. “It’s just- circumstantial. Plus he’s less fucking insufferable as an adult.” 

 

For one, deadly beat, Aizawa’s eyes had filled with deep comprehension, and Katsuki had stilled with a sort of instinctive defensiveness despite not knowing what the fuck Aizawa was seeing. Then the older man had screwed his eyes shut like he was suffering through the world’s worst headache, and he’d kicked Katsuki out of his office.

 

They’d returned to their dorms in silence; Katsuki had observed Kirishima’s absence in his room, and promptly crashed.

 

He guesses, thinking back, that Kirishima must have gotten out of there without notice somehow, or Aizawa would have wanted to know the details of his involvement, too. Which is good- Kirishima’s already gotten flack for one Katsuki-related rescue, which is more than enough, and besides if Kaminari had gotten shit for helping Katsuki would have had it lorded over him for the rest of his life. He’s going to be obnoxious enough about his ‘favour’ as is. 

 

Re-establishing the previous night’s events has lead him all the way back into the dorms, face sore from wind-burn. He climbs the stairs two at a time, appreciating the warmth of the heating systems the further he gets away from the door. He feels less tired than he expected, considering the wind. 

 

His hopes of further tranquility are, of course, crushed as soon as he enters dorms. Even the other classes’ students cast him looks when he makes his way up, one or two risking to call after him, which he ignores in favour of stomping into their common room. Here, it seems like the whole world and its mother has decided to rock out and talk over each other, like some sort of déjà vu fest from the previous day’s interrogation party. He half wants to boost himself over their heads and down the hallway, but he’s not going to run away from these idiots.

 

“Bakugou!” Sero calls, turning the group away from where he now sees Todoroki crammed between classmates. “C’mon, dude, tell us what happened yesterday. We were so worried!”

 

“None of y-“

 

“Don’t say it’s none of our business!” Ashido groans, loud and annoyed. “Look, you two literally just went missing twice in a day, and no one will tell us anything about it! They even sent us to bed without any info!”

 

“You ever thought about why no one will tell you shit?” Katsuki snaps, not in the mood. Todoroki meets his eyes with a small moue. 

 

“Dude, we thought you’d been attacked or some shit,” Kaminari stubbornly interjects, crossing his arms. “You can’t hold out on us forever.”

 

“Try me.”

 

For a moment he thinks they’re going to press their luck, but instead Mineta turns back to Todoroki. “Bakugou won’t say, but Todoroki will, right?”

 

“Yeah, come on, man, you’re not a raging dick, you can tell us,” Kaminari wheedles, grabbing onto his arm. Todoroki pulls a face. 

 

“I can’t, I’m sorry.”

 

“Seriously, man,” Sero pleads. “At least tell us what’s up with the teachers.”

 

“Just back off,” Katsuki growls, when Todoroki looks increasingly uncomfortable. He tells himself it’s because now is not the time for icyhot to get loose-lipped. “We’re here now, and nothing’s happened, so fuck off.”

 

“What he said,” Todoroki echoes, primly, to the gaping of the class, and extricates him from the group to reach Katsuki’s side, straightening his tie where Kaminari had been hanging off of him. “You’ll hear about in due time.”

 

With unhappy muttering, the group dissolves again. Some are more easily rid of than others, though, and so of fucking course Deku and his idiot band converge on them. 

 

“Not to pry, but are you okay, Todoroki?” Deku asks, eyes flicking worriedly between them. “Last we knew you were in the hospital wing.”

 

“We were really worried about you,” Uraraka agrees; Katsuki glares at her, aware she’s pulling the worry card for information. “Hagakure says she saw your dad here.”

 

“I’m fine,” Todoroki assures them, shifting a little. “I just had some things to do yesterday. It’s complicated.”

 

“And it involves Bakugou?” Iida asks, dubious. Katsuki bares his teeth at him.

 

“I needed his help,” is Todoroki’s answer, which does absolutely nothing to make the whole thing less suspicious, for fuck’s sake. “He’s really not the one to blame here.”

 

All three stare at him with various degrees of disbelief, and Katsuki’s hands flare in irritation. “Say it to my face if you’re gonna stand there like shitheads!”

 

“Hey, you’re not exactly acting very normally right now,” Uraraka protests, reddening. “It’s only fair that we’re a little weirded out.”

 

“I just don’t know why Todoroki would have gone to you first,” Deku says, maybe accidentally, because he blushes a bit. Gross; Katsuki is starting to think maybe he was right about the whole crush thing. “Not that- ! I only meant- unless it’s a matter of quirks- but if you were using your quirks together on a large scale then it would have had destructive effect-“

 

“Stop sciencing this, shitty nerd,” Katsuki interrupts, exasperated. “Maybe he asked me because he was sick of your face!”

 

“I wasn’t.”

 

“I’m not trying to insult you, Kacchan! It’s just hard not to theorise!”

 

“You know what’s hard? Listening to you without wanting to rip out my own eardrums!”

 

“T-that feels sort of uncalled for!”

 

“Your existence was uncalled for!”

 

Todoroki grabs him by the sleeve. “Walk me out?”

 

Katsuki sends him his most withering glare, Deku and his minions all taking a cautious step back, but Todoroki only tilts his head expectantly, and Katsuki swallows a life’s worth of curses, tersely relaxing his shoulders. 

 

“Fucking fine.

 

Todoroki is going to see Aizawa, to the best of Katsuki’s knowledge, and hypothetically accompany him to the prison, if things go well. Obviously, Katsuki is not going along either way, seeing as he has no reason to be there. He in fact has no reason to have been involved in any of this shit, as Deku had pointed out, but he is, and it makes him angry, god knows why. 

 

“They’re all so young,” Todoroki comments, quietly, once they’re out of earshot. Katsuki casts him a glance; his eyes are distant, fixed somewhere Katsuki can’t follow.

 

“Yeah, no shit.”

 

“I recognised UA once I got here,” Todoroki continues, keeping easy step with him. “But I thought at first maybe I had teleported or been put under a hallucinatory quirk. It was once Izuku showed up to ask me about not coming to- lunch, or revision, something like that- that I figured out what the quirk had really done.”

 

Katsuki keeps quiet, frowning, and Todoroki seems content to go on. “I know it sounds incredibly obvious, but it is very jarring to be back in this time. UA doesn’t feel like it was so long ago, but I can tell it is, now I’m here. Aizawa looks young to me, now. Isn’t that funny? I always thought he looked ancient.”

 

“’S hard to picture,” Katsuki allows, gazing at nothing in particular. “Sort of feels like this is it in terms of how everyone is.”

 

“Believe me,” Todoroki smiles, wryly. “It definitely isn’t.” 

 

For some reason, something about this jolts the slumbering queries he’s been trying to get to shut up for the past few days. Katsuki’s never been a coward before and he doesn’t intend to start now, so when the question pops up in his mind’s eye, unwarranted and poorly timed though it might be, he only wastes a few seconds cringing before biting the metaphorical bullet. His voice comes out demanding.

 

“So what the fuck is up with us in the future, anyways?”

 

Todoroki actually stops, blinks at him with his big mismatched eyes. Katsuki doesn’t know why he looks so taken aback when he’s been so fucking indiscrete up to this point, but he can’t quite muster a glare, holding on to his composure through sheer stubbornness.

 

“I don’t think I should tell you too much,” Todoroki answers, cautiously; he raises a warning hand when Katsuki glowers. “But I will say that whatever you’re assuming is probably true.”

 

“I doubt that,” Katsuki grunts, thinking despite himself of everything from mushy couples to horny fuckbuddies. His options all seem equally laughable. 

 

“I wouldn’t,” Todoroki says, simply. Katsuki is at a brief loss for words. 

 

“You really expect me to buy that you go from thinking I’m some worthless arrogant asshole to-“

 

“I still think you’re an arrogant asshole in the future,” Todoroki corrects, though it’s less barbed than it might be. “And I never thought you were worthless. That’s your vocabulary, not mine.”

 

Katsuki stares at him, feeling oddly reassured by the insult, even as his mind rebels against everything else he’s just had confirmed. “How fucking sweet of you.”

 

Todoroki laughs. “I just have a more nuanced appreciation of you. And your cooking washes you of your sins.” 

 

“Fuck off,” Katsuki scorns, though he is a little caught off guard by the fact Todoroki eats his food. “That’s just taking advantage.”

 

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” Todoroki affirms wisely, ignoring Katsuki’s indignant flush. “Anyways, the food is a perk, not a motivator. You’ll understand with time.”

 

“Strongly fucking doubt that,” Katsuki grunts. Todoroki is looking a little pale. “You good?”

 

Todoroki nods, a little tightly. “It’ll pass. I don’t think it’s the usual fiasco.”

 

“Right.” He doesn’t seem too convinced, breathing louder than usual, and Katsuki tries to think of a distraction, so that he can at least deliver him to Aizawa without having to carry him, not after this train wreck of a conversation. 

 

“You’re nothing like the Todoroki from here, y’know.”

 

Todoroki’s gaze chases him, a little hazy but relatively sharp, definitely perking up with interest. “Really?”

 

“Tch, yeah,” Katsuki says, shoving his hands in his pockets. Aizawa’s office feels further than it ever has. “You talk loads. And your face is all- not constipated.” 

 

“I wasn’t aware there was another way to act, at that age,” Todoroki says, thoughtful. “Who would have thought prolonged social interaction would do such wonders.”

 

“Awful fucking forthcoming, too.”

 

“Ah,” Todoroki says, in a mildly surprised tone, like this has just occurred to him. “It’s not really conscious. I’m not usually like this- not with most people, anyways. I think it’s because you’re still so young that I don’t mind sharing.”

 

They reach Aizawa’s before Katsuki has to offer any more insight into goddamn Todoroki, but Todoroki senior looks faintly more alive, like the mood has passed. Aizawa wastes no time filling them in: they have an opening, Aizawa can bring Todoroki in for the afternoon, and they’re bringing some scientist friend of his. Katsuki listens to them talk like a kid left out of a conversation, a feeling he distinctly dislikes, though it gets worse when the time to leave arrives and Katsuki is unceremoniously sent off to class.

 

Class is a surreal experience. He’s only missed one afternoon, he keeps reminding himself, and he was ahead of the curriculum anyways. But with all the wild shit that’s been happening, returning to the normalcy and routine of class is a shock to the system. He half expects to turn and find the normal Todoroki at his desk, the events of the past few days some kind of weird fever dream. It’s only the constant whispering and glances that confirm he’s not gone insane. 

 

Kirishima slides him a note saying “all good? :0” within the first hour, which Katsuki crumples before nodding at him. Then he remembers the whole unexplained escape, considers his odds, and decides to forego any hopes of getting answers, instead just giving Kirishima a pointed thumbs up, which he returns with a grin. So that’s settled. 

 

At lunch time, Katsuki steels himself, curses every deity in existence, and grabs Deku by the strap of his dorky backpack to yank him off to a secluded table. Deku yelps, other students looking up in alarm, but he stops struggling immediately, sitting with big curious eyes once Katsuki has dumped him on a seat. 

 

“Look, I can fucking tell you’ve got some idea of what’s going on, so before you give yourself an aneurysm or pull some dumb shit, I’ll tell you what’s happened.” 

 

It’s not something he wants to do, but he knows the alternative is far worse, Deku hypothesising and stalking him throughout the day for some sign of whatever the fuck he thinks is going on. Todoroki would have cracked at some point anyways, and with the guy cornered, it shouldn’t be long till things are back to normal.

 

Deku, of course, is incapable of ever not being the worst person in the world, because instead of taking this gift like a normal fucking person, he practically creams himself with trepidation, eyes wide and mouth open. 

 

“Oh wow, Kacchan- thank you-“

 

“Shut the fuck up. Todoroki is Todoroki from the future, he was swapped by Sunday, and we spent yesterday chasing down the person who hit him with a quirk. The end.”

 

He wishes Deku would faint or take very long to wrap his mind around this, but disappointingly his face only contorts itself a little before settling on a sort of awed intrigue. “A time swap? Fascinating- I was almost right…” His brows shoot up again, with concern this time. “Is this why Todoroki keeps being ill? Displacement?”

 

Katsuki grunts in assent, annoyed that he’d guessed so fast. “Anyways, he and Eraserhead have gone to check in on the guy who hit him.”

 

“I see,” Deku breathes, and seems lost in thought for a moment before he snaps back. “Thank you, Kacchan. If you need anything- or if the two of you do-”

 

“What exactly would you even do,” Katsuki mutters, “Break some bones?”

 

“-Just let me know, okay?” Deku finishes, unperturbed. He looks less hysterical than he has all week, which isn’t much by average standards. “Ah, this explains so much- and why you were involved-“

 

“How the fuck does it explain how I was involved?” Katsuki demands, defensive. “I was only involved because I figured out some shit was up.”

 

“Well, yes, but Todoroki seems really comfortable with you, and-“ Deku starts, oblivious to the rising homicidal vibe. “Oh- should I not call him Todoroki? He’s older than me now-“

 

Katsuki flips the table.

 

Having told Deku, though, he feels sort of as though he owes it to Kirishima to do the same with him. Unlike Deku, who is about as useful as an Instagram advert, Kirishima was actually a part of this whole debacle, and he kind of deserves answers, especially considering he was perfectly content to wait for them instead of snooping around like the little weasel Deku is. He knows he won’t say shit, anyways. Kirishima’s sort of a secret-keeper of his. Not that Katsuki confides his deep worries to him like some kind of emo oversharer, or anything. It’s just when he has rare moments of- less than perfect composure, Kirishima is usually the only accidental witness, and he has never spoken a word about this to anyone, nor even really brought this up to Katsuki. 

 

He waits for a lull between classes to nudge him; Kirishima cuts off his conversation with Sero. 

 

“What’s up?”

 

Katsuki beckons him closer, and Kirishima promptly leans in. It’s funny- for someone so loud and flashy, he’s very good at making himself discrete. Probably has something to do with the tiny black-haired kid Katsuki has spotted in pictures in his dorm, or the fact Kirishima is largely loud and flashy as a defensive mechanism. Whatever, it’s none of his business- he’s not a therapist. 

 

“About yesterday.”

 

His classmate’s eyes widen, then he scoots even closer, brows furrowing in concentration. Katsuki pulls a face at the proximity, looks back to check no one is paying attention, and pitches his voice low.

 

“Half ’n half was hit by a quirk on Sunday. Swapped him with his future self, or whatever the fuck. We were out looking for the fucker who hit him. Eraserhead’s taken over today.”

 

Kirishima’s stupidly expressive face undergoes a rapid series of transformations, settling on something between shock and curiosity. “Woah.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“That’s why Todoroki has been acting weird? He’s from the future?” Kirishima asks, whispering dramatically. “How far in the future?”

 

“Like ten years, I think,” Katsuki reckons, shrugging one shoulder. Kirishima’s eyes widen again, and then he pulls his mouth thoughtfully.

 

“Wait, does that mean Todoroki- our Todoroki, I mean- is stuck somewhere alone in the future?” 

 

“Not alone,” Katsuki mutters, then catches himself. “We’re all still alive in the future, aren’t we? Dumbass.”

 

“Oh,” Kirishima breathes, relieved, though he still seems torn between his previous excitement and worry. “So he wasn’t really sick?”

 

“He was. It’s some kind of side-effect.”

 

“Poor Todoroki,” Kirishima says, palming his cheek against his hand. For one awful intense moment, no doubt the effect of being contaminated by Kirishima’s constantly overflowing emotions, Katsuki is made aware of the depths of his own affection for the sap he refuses to call his best friend. “He must be scared. Or I guess maybe not. Todoroki’s never scared of anything. I would be, though.”

 

Katsuki, busy crushing the unwarranted wave of feelings, doesn’t respond, so Kirishima goes on: “So you’ve- found the guy who did this? Or- girl, I guess. You said fucker, so I assumed. Though maybe fucker is a gender neutral insult?”

 

“For fuck’s sake,” Katsuki snaps, emotions successfully vanquished. “Let’s not spiral into a discussion about some villain’s gender identity. It’s some asshole called Ohuro. He’s in prison.” 

 

Kirishima contemplates this, pointy teeth digging into his lip. “So he’ll be able to fix things?”

 

“Dunno. Better be.”

 

“Did you figure all of this out by yourself?” Kirishima asks, suddenly, sounding impressed. “Is that you two went off together? Cause you told Todoroki you knew what was going on?”

 

“Sort of,” Katsuki grunts, not willing to recount the humiliating details of their excursion and archive-room brawl. “I could tell some shit was up. Was using his left side too easily. And then I caught him sneaking around when he was apparently infirm. When I called him out he told me what was up.”

 

“Woah,” Kirishima whistles. “You’re super observant, dude. It was real decent of you to help him out.”

 

Katsuki huffs. “Yeah, well. Wasn’t out of the goodness of my heart.”

 

Kirishima, weirdly, seems to have absolutely no difficulty wrapping his mind around the fact Katsuki and Todoroki have paired off so easily on this, unlike- literally everyone else, Katsuki included. It irks him somehow. 

 

“Do you think you’ll be in a lot of trouble once this is all over?” 

 

“All I fucking did was babysit a liability for an afternoon. Wasn’t like we went MIA for a week,” Katsuki glowers, hoping rather fiercely that the UA staff agrees. “Didn’t even do anything dangerous.”

 

“Yeah, but you did break out of school twice in a day,” Kirishima counters, though he sounds too excited about this to pull off the admonishing tone. “How did you do that, actually?”

 

“That’s for me to know and you to wonder.”

 

“Aw, come on, man!”

 

Class goes on without further incident, Katsuki quite content to forego conversation and return to work. He’s not a huge talker, usually- not outside of certain contexts, anyways, like trash-talking his enemies and responding to perceived slights. Having spent so much time indulging Todoroki’s rambling had sort of eluded his attention in the moment, but in his absence he feels vaguely put off and eager to avoid any more pointless conversation. 

 

He’s making a stilted effort not to think about what Aizawa and Todoroki are up to as the day goes by. It feels remarkably unfair that he had to put up with all the subterfuge and nonsense only to miss out on the actual confrontation with the jackass responsible for the whole mess. Aizawa didn’t have to haul Todoroki’s ass around the city for a whole day; he gets to do the fun bit where they threaten some lowlife scum. He figures Todoroki will keep him up to date, at least, even if ordered not to do so, which is a minor comfort, but it’s frustrating anyways. 

 

As it is, his mind has decided to dwell on other mysteries instead, and Katsuki would much have preferred seething over being excluded. Todoroki’s non-answer is somehow worse than a straight answer, because Katsuki isn’t fucking stupid. Todoroki treats him real different, and keeps going on about his future self and how important he is to him and how he wants to get back to him and blah sodding blah; point is Katsuki may not care for this shit, but even on someone like Todoroki (maybe especially on someone like Todoroki) it’s obvious that there are- relationships involved. 

 

Katsuki is not a relationships person. He only begrudgingly acknowledges his family ties, and has barely begun to accept that maybe friendship isn’t the worst thing in the world, even then only with regards to Kirishima, who is very easy to like, considering his only relevant flaws are bad taste and a lack of braincells. Also, he really likes Katsuki, for some unfathomable reason. Anyways- besides maybe the fact that he respects his teachers, and maybe perhaps under duress he would admit that he doesn’t entirely despise most of his class anymore, he still finds it hard to wrap his mind around taking more than just himself into consideration when it comes to living his life. Call it rampant self-centredness, or a singular focus- whatever. He’s used to people only mattering in their capacity to challenge him, or permit his advance. 

 

Whatever awkward, dysfunctional understanding he may or may not have with the icyhot bastard, it most certainly is not a friendship, and there is no fucking way it could ever be more than that, not in his lifetime. The only thing Katsuki can, after much internal struggle, perhaps imagine, is it being a solely physical thing. From an objective aesthetic standard, Todoroki is- easy on the eyes, and maybe their rivalry spiralled into some kind of sexual tension, whatever. Katsuki’s not- like, it’s not that he’s prudish, but it’s just that he has other shit to think about. So it’s not like it feels particularly plausible, but it’s way more fucking plausible than the alternative. Unfortunately, from the way other Todoroki acts, he has a dark suspicion what he considers plausible doesn’t matter one bit. 

 

Maybe Todoroki is just fucking with him. Maybe one or both of them suffers some kind of debilitating brain injury in the future. Maybe the general population has been drugged into dopey submission. Katsuki refuses to accept the idea so head-on. 

 

Whatever. He’s not fucking thinking about it. If he’s lucky (and what a concept that is- his life is a cosmic joke) Todoroki will be back to normal by the night, and they can all mutually agree to wipe whatever horrors experienced from memory and go back to their regular lives. 

 

(On a completely unrelated note, he snaps his pencil clean in half from how hard he’s gripping it.)

 

It’s only after training that Aizawa returns with Todoroki in tow, passing by the facility to check in on the class. Katsuki is expecting Todoroki to do some presumptive shit like wave him over, and is fully prepared to ignore him and finish his exercising, but instead Todoroki just ambles over to him and sits cross-legged somewhere behind him like he’s waiting on him. Which is weird in its own right, but Katsuki’s not the type to suffer from performance anxiety. He makes quick work of his exercises.

 

“So, good news or bad news first?” Todoroki asks, when he leans past him to grab his towel. Katsuki scowls, dabbing at his sweaty forehead. 

 

“Bad.”

 

“That makes the good news sort of obsolete,” Todoroki frowns. “I’ll just start with the good news.”

 

“Then why even ask?!”

 

“So, good news. We found Ohuro, and he’s definitely our guy. He’s also willing to do basically anything for a shorter sentence. I don’t think he’s made for jail.” 

 

Katsuki waits for the other shoe to drop.

 

“Bad news,” Todoroki continues, rather more grim, “He understands his quirk even less well now than he does in my time. He’s barely used it except in his casino schemes, and he doesn’t even know what it does. I attempted to get more specifics out of him by asking tailored questions, but he clearly has no idea what he’s talking about.”

 

“Fucking incompetent villains,” Katsuki mutters, a little unsettled. He hadn’t considered that they might track the guy down and still not be able to do anything about the swap. “What, so he can’t swap you back?”

 

“He probably can,” Todoroki says. “But most likely the effect would be sending me into a completely different time again, creating some sort of three way situation. And so on and so forth.”

 

“Son of a bitch,” Katsuki curses, fists clenched with pent-up frustration. “Can’t we force him to do it properly somehow? Doesn’t the government have sketchy people around for this kind of shit?”

 

“None that we have at our disposal, and besides none equipped to deal with this type of quirk.” Todoroki’s voice finally changes from the monotone he’s been stuck in since his return, going deeper with discontentment as he stares up at the sky. “He simply lacks the control to be trusted with the return journey. Our best bet seems to be waiting on our counterparts to fare better in the future.”

 

What an unsatisfactory bitch of a situation, Katsuki thinks. He’s sure Todoroki is doing a terrible job in the future, and his older self is doing all of the hard work- seeing as this Todoroki had been a dumbass and not shared any information and his Todoroki has no damn clue what had happened, he can’t imagine it’s an easy task. 

 

He hunches his shoulders impatiently, stir-crazy feeling intensifying. “And how long is that gonna take? A week? A month? Probably be dead by tomorrow.”

 

He only means it because he fucking hates sitting around relying on other people to do things right (people are terrible and Katsuki is the only competent person in his life), but Todoroki’s brows rise and fall a little, and he tilts so his foot is almost touching Katsuki’s ankle. “I don’t think it will take them long. You’re a pro hero, remember. All of us are. We have a lot better access to things. If they even look into my research, which Katsuki undoubtedly will, they’ll only have to go through a handful of people.”

 

“Don’t call him that,” Katsuki scolds, going for him rather than me because it feels less personal, even though the constant pronoun switching gives him a headache. “How do you know Ohuro hasn’t fucked off and fled he country or something?”

 

“Not his profile,” Todoroki counters. “He ran into Hawks completely accidentally- it’s just because the villain he was fighting fled into the casino district and he freaked out when we came barreling into his stomping grounds.” 

 

“Since when was Hawks was involved?” 

 

“Point being that once he realised we weren’t after him and I didn’t resurface, he’ll have assumed he got away with it. I expect he’ll have started his gig again once the weekend passed.” 

 

“This guy doesn’t sound like the brightest fucking spark.”

 

“No, I didn’t get that impression either.”

 

They leave the training grounds together, heading to dorms. It’s a quiet walk, which Katsuki registers as meaning Todoroki is being unusually subdued, considering. It doesn’t make his whole reassurance spiel particularly believable. He guesses maybe the possibility of being permanently trapped on the wrong side of time has begun to occur to him, or that he’ll die before being able to go back. If Katsuki were anyone else, he probably would have left him be, not applied further salt to the wound, but he sees no point in pretending to be a shoulder to cry on here. 

 

“’S what you get for making yourself open to shitty villain attacks.”

 

Todoroki takes a moment to answer as Katsuki readies to retort, but he doesn’t seem scared, not that Katsuki has ever seen Todoroki afraid apart from that time with Endeavour. It’s something else, regret or pensiveness, some Emily Brontë shit Katsuki wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. 

 

“It’s part of the job. You have to consider the security of others first. What else are heroes for?” He shakes his head, jaw clenching a little. “I don’t like causing trouble for others. Aizawa has to deal with the prison and the school, you had no reason to be involved in this, and I’m sure whatever is happening on the other side isn’t a solo effort either.”

 

Because they’re walking mostly in step, Katsuki can only make his right side out, all pale hair and lone dark eye. One time Deku, sleep deprived and rambly, had suggested they get Eri to touch Todoroki, see if he’d split, like Todoroki was two people meshed together. If he was, Katsuki doesn’t know exactly which traits he would assign to either. He looks softer from the right, but Todoroki’s a textbook case of appearances being deceptive, considering he can’t go anywhere without being fawned over but has the worst personality in the world. The only candidates who beat him to that prestigious title are Deku and the League assholes, maybe fucking Monoma. 

 

“All part of the job, isn’t it?” Katsuki echoes, pulling a face. “Heroes are used to handling other people’s dumbassery.”

 

“I’m not accustomed to being the dumbass in question,” Todoroki shoots back easily, though his jaw has not relaxed. “That’s sort of the point of being the number-“ He stops himself just as Katsuki feels himself flare with interest, continues wryly. “…Being a good hero.”

 

“Fuck you,” Katsuki scowls, deprived once more of the only future-related tidbit he cares about. “Deserve to lose some solid points for this shit.”

 

“I doubt it’ll make it into the official record,” Todoroki shrugs. He seems to have gotten over himself, but his brows are gently furrowed now. “It’s just sloppy work. And-“ He pauses, sighs. “I suppose I feel guilty about it all. I honestly have no doubt the others will sort it out, but placing all of this responsibility on them…”

 

“Future me can handle it,” Katsuki retorts, defensively. “Stop being so pathetic about this. For a pro hero it’s just another mission.” He cannot believe he’s bringing this up, but let it not be said his reign of terror at Aldera Junior High’s debating club has taught him no lessons in using any and all tactics to win an argument. “You lot came after me last year, didn’t you? ’S not like that was some huge personal sacrifice or whatever.” 

 

He refuses to think it was, because that would imply any of those buffoons honestly cared about his fate, and he has already come up with satisfactory justifications for their actions that steer well clear of this. Deku obviously has a raging boner for unnecessary self-sacrifice; Todoroki had some kind of hothead hero thing about Katsuki being taken right in front of him, Yaoyorozu followed where Todoroki went, and fucking Iida went because of his obnoxious class president responsibility schtick. Kirishima, of course, is the exception, genuinely having gone because they’re friends, but that’s besides the point. 

 

Having fulfilled their various heroic aims, he firmly refuses to think any of them have thought about the rescue mission since, no matter that Kirishima has explicitly told him several times that he still has nightmares about failing to get him back. Again, Kirishima is the exception. If they’d failed to s- to help him get himself out of there, they would have been pissy for a while and gotten over it, not held it like a cross over their heads forever. And if they had, well, that’d be because they’re fragile and overly emotional. Fucking whatever, the point is that they didn’t, so this hypothetical is irrelevant to his current train of thought. 

 

“Right,” Todoroki says, quietly. “Of course not.” 

 

Katsuki does not meet his gaze, for no other reason that he is tired of his face. 

 

“I’m not so emotional usually. I think it’s a side-effect of time-travel. Or seeing your friends regress a decade.” 

 

Finding a way out of dangerous waters concerning Todoroki’s stupid guilt, Katsuki rolls his shoulders. “Speaking of your shitty friends- I told Deku today. He was gonna have a stress-induced seizure otherwise.”

 

“Considerate,” Todoroki notes, though he seems unsurprised. “There’s no real reason not to talk to him about this now. I expect he will be teeming with questions.” 

 

“If we’re gonna host a Q&A, shitty hair is coming too,” Katsuki bites, more willing to commit ritual suicide than listen to Todoroki and Deku exchange saccharine greetings for an hour. “Also, aren’t you running really late on your scheduled breakdown of the day?”

 

“I passed out in prison,” Todoroki answers, flicking his hair out of his eyes. “And I assumed the invitation extended to Kirishima anyways.” 

 

“Doesn’t that seem like the type of detail worth mentioning?!”

 

“You almost sound like you care.”

 

That’s not it, you bastard! 

 

They would be an incredibly obvious group sitting together in the corner of the common room, considering the scarcity of Katsuki and Deku breathing the same air without some kind of fight breaking out and the general weirdness of the past days, so it is decided they must relocate to someone’s room. Katuski flatly refuses to let any of them into his room and vetoes Deku’s on principle; Kirishima sheepishly admits his room is somewhat of a mess, so they end up going to Todoroki’s. He’s the least likely to get yelled at for hosting, anyways. 

 

Katsuki never participated in the stupid room tour thing in first year, so he is the only one amongst them never to have laid eyes on Todoroki’s interior design penchant. It is just as terrible as expected. 

 

“Did you import a whole fucking replica of the Imperial Palace’s royal suite?” 

 

Todoroki blinks laconically. “No, I fixed this up myself. It didn’t take very long.”

 

Kirishima shakes his head in mild disbelief, taking the room in. “Man, I remember seeing your room last year- did you build extra furniture for this?” 

 

“I also brought some from home,” Todoroki says, as if this is perfectly normal. “Would you like some tea?”

 

Despite it all, Katsuki would in fact like some tea, so they end up all sitting on the cushy floor of Todoroki’s room, sipping overly expensive tea. Deku, despite being a regular guest, sits like he has a rod up his ass. Kirishima is comfortably cross-legged. Todoroki’s legs are folded under him like a good Japanese host. Katsuki spreads just to be contrary. This whole group is too damn civil.

 

He mainly lets Todoroki do the talking, disinterested in repeating himself and not willing to try and figure out what he is and isn’t supposed to be sharing. As such his commentary is mainly interjecting to disparage Todoroki’s retelling or insult whoever is currently being discussed, which Katsuki thinks is a very valuable contribution, really. Todoroki’s such a boring story teller. 

 

Deku and Kirishima remain very interested anyways, waiting them out before beginning to do the obvious, which is asking questions about the future. Deku tries and mostly fails to balance good manners and consideration of others’ feelings with his feverish curiosity; sometimes starting to look like he wants to whip out a notebook and begin a comprehensive analysis of every minute detail of Todoroki’s future life. Kirishima, the only ‘well-adjusted’ person in the room, asks more normal questions, like whether cars can fly. 

 

Both are equally disappointed to learn the success of the reversal is out of their hands, querying about their other options to no avail. Kirishima recovers fastest, expressing his confidence in their grown selves; Deku follows suit, noting the wealth of resources at their disposition before segueing into hypotheticals about the development of quirk recognition technology. Todoroki seems amused by this, speaking up when Deku runs out of breath. 

 

“You’re in town right now. I’m sure your assistance was requested with exactly that.”

 

“Ah, really?” Deku falters, reddening slightly. He looks stupidly pleased; Katsuki scoffs.

 

“Like we would need Deku to solve this shit.”

 

“He’d certainly save you time.”

 

“What do you mean in town right now?” Kirishima chimes in, conveniently before a three-way argument can break out. “Does Midoriya not live in Tokyo too?”

 

“He’s abroad with All Might for a bit,” Todoroki supplies, to Kirishima’s impressed beam and Deku’s stunned disbelief. “I’m not sure where he’ll settle when he’s back.”

 

“R-really?” 

 

“Yes. I could recount your itinerary in depth, if you like. You provided us with a very detailed description on Saturday, though somewhat garbled by inebriation.”

 

“Holy shit, what?” Kirishima crows, laughing over Deku’s yelp as Katsuki grins wolfishly. “Midoriya was wasted? Wait, wait- what is everyone like drunk? Oh, man, please tell me what everyone is like drunk. There’s no way that’s some kind of huge future altering secret.”

 

“I’m not sure I can recall every single person’s habits,” Shouto frowns, Deku still red-faced as it dawns on Katsuki that he’s actually going to tell them. He downs his tea in anticipation. 

 

“Let’s see, ah- unsurprisingly, Denki is a table-dancer, though he also gets weepy if he touches tequila. Mina starts fights with everyone, but especially bouncers. Sero likes to tie himself to high buildings towards the end of the night, which is an inconvenience. Toru strips, which I’m sure you can see the problem with.”

 

“Oh my god,” Deku manages. Kirishima looks like his birthday has come early. 

 

“Tenya cannot handle his drink. Momo obviously can, but if you do get her drunk, she becomes very emotional and rather touchy-feely.” Todoroki pauses, lost in thought. “Fumikage is a disastrous drunk. We don’t let Mineta drink with us anymore, partially because he’s been banned from most of the places we go to.”

 

“Could have guessed that,” Katsuki mutters, engrossed despite himself. 

 

“What about us?” Kirishima asks, excitedly. Deku looks like he wants to protest, self-preserving instincts kicking in for once, but his curiosity wins that particular battle.

 

“Ah,” Todoroki says. “Well.” Which is a story if Katsuki’s ever heard one. “You’re a ‘fun drunk’, per Denki’s scale. I will admit that I have never understood his scale, but I think this has something to do with minor property damage and emotional trauma. You tend just to be a bit boisterous.”

 

“Of course he has a scale,” Katsuki snorts. Kirishima grins. 

 

“Izuku can withstand truly disturbing amounts of alcohol,” Todoroki continues, thoughtful, “Whilst also being a lightweight. I’m not quite sure why.” He blinks at Deku, slightly apologetic. “You are a very opinionated drunk. 

 

Deku groans, and Katsuki crosses his legs. “I notice you’ve been avoiding yourself, icyhot.”

 

“That’s because I never get drunk,” Todoroki replies stoically, not a trace of dishonesty to it. “You, on the other hand, are a crier.”

 

“You are so full of shit,” Katsuki shouts, lobbing his empty teacup at him as Kirishima bends over double with laughter. Even Deku is smiling. “Cut the crap, asshole!”

 

“I’m telling the truth,” Todoroki protests, eyes twinkling. The cup bounces harmlessly to the floor, frozen solid. “I guess you’ll just have to wait until you’re of drinking age and see for yourself.” 

 

Deku only just manages to dissuade Katsuki from demanding Yaoyorozu make them a bottle of vodka to settle the argument. No mean feat, considering Kirishima is a big fan of the idea and Todoroki is uncommonly slow to take Deku’s side. As if Katsuki is a crier- he bets Todoroki is just being coy to avoid revealing whatever indecency he pulls when he’s drunk. Still, Deku is deplorably correct in noting that Todoroki is growing increasingly pale and drawn, and that it is best he get a good night’s sleep if they’re waiting on the future to solve the problems of the past.

 

They say their respective goodbyes, Katsuki still glowering about the blatant lies, and he finds both Deku and Kirishima looking at him expectantly once the door has shut. 

 

What?”

 

“Dunno, just felt like the moment to all look at each other,” Kirishima snorts. “Thanks for telling me about all of this, by the way. ‘M not exactly relevant.”

 

“Neither is he,” Katsuki counters, sticking a finger in Deku’s chest with more strength than strictly necessary. “It’s whatever.”

 

“I’m glad you’ve been so cooperative of late, Kacchan,” Deku says, rubbing his chest, which is fucking definitely snarky, the little asshole. Katsuki glares at him.

 

“It’s weird- now that I know who he is, it’s super obvious he’s a grown-up Todoroki, not ours,” Kirishima muses. “Does that make sense?”

 

Deku nods firmly. “Agreed. I guess we must all sound really dumb and young to him, huh.” 

 

“Don’t put us all in the same boat as you,” Katsuki retorts. “I’m going to bed. Had to miss like three hours of sleep over this shit last year.”

 

“You went to bed past eight thirty? Are you even alive?” Kirishima asks, dramatically. Katsuki flicks him off as he walks, and Deku, for good measure, because he knows he’s stifling a laugh.

 

He goes to sleep with vague thoughts of ridding himself of friends in the morning, but his night is dreamless, unperturbed. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Wherever the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s budget goes, it definitely isn’t funnelled into providing comfortable rest for visiting pro-heroes, which Shouto is starting to suspect is on purpose. His hours of fitful rest have not been aided in the slightest by the tiny plastic stool he was unceremoniously showed towards upon arrival, which seems to have been designed as a torture instrument specifically for him.

 

He’s not sure if Bakugou has slept at all, because he’s either awake or missing whenever Shouto opens his eyes. Probably the wiser choice. Shouto feels more tired than he had before. 

 

“What’s the time?” Shouto asks, voice cracked with the remnants of his restless sleep. Bakugou, drumming his fingers against his knee, points at the clock above him.

 

“I didn’t see,” Shouto mumbles, rubbing his eyes. It’s just past five A.M. “How are we doing with Ohuro?”

 

“Finally stopped passing out,” Bakugou says, looking annoyed. “Or screaming.”

 

If this is true, it seems miraculous. Ohuro had been absolutely hysterical the entire journey to the police, and continuously alternated between bouts of blustering uncooperativeness and fainting spells for the rest of the night. In one of his lucid moments, he’d requested a lawyer, and that had thrown yet another spanner into the works. Shouto had first fallen asleep during the first of many legal disputes. 

 

“About time,” Shouto mutters, casting a look left. They’ve been sequestered for now, considering the lawyer could only be convinced to fuck off if Shouto and Bakugou stopped ‘intimidating’ his client (though Shouto suspects he was actually just getting irritated with said client’s dramatic rants himself). “I couldn’t stomach more of his theatrics.”

 

“You and me both,” Bakugou growls, with a foul look towards the room. “Fucking pussy. Once we get this shit sorted I look forwards to getting his ass behind bars for everyone else he’s fucked with.”

 

The door opens, and one of the officers emerges, casting a look between the two of them. “He’s ready to talk to you now.”

 

“Better fucking be,” Bakugou snaps, storming ahead; Shouto gets up (stiffly, thanks to the damn chair) and follows. The officer looks after them like he’s had a very long night, which is definitely down to Ohuro but probably also somewhat because Bakugou keeps getting into altercations with the cops when they try and talk down to him. Shouto’s no stranger to the permanently tense relations of the hero world and the police force, but really, it’s not like Bakugou’s wrong. The police have been doing a terrible job of monitoring this known criminal. It’s very rich of them to then start complaining about protocol when someone else does the dirty work for them.

 

Ohuro seems somewhat deflated, his lawyer impassible by his side. Ridiculously, they’re behind a glass window, like Shouto is really about to lob a fireball at the guy’s face. 

 

(Bakugou kicks his chair back, foot on the table, and Ohuro flinches. Shouto reconsiders the purpose of the glass window. But really- a glass window, to keep Bakugou out?)  

 

“Want to tell them what you told us?” the Commissioner asks, crossing her arms. By her side, the Superintendent and hero liaison survey Ohuro with poorly-disguised irritation. Only the science heroes Shouto doesn’t know seem in a good mood, scribbling happily away. 

 

Ohuro glances at his lawyer, who sets his pen down. “With a fuller understanding of his quirk, my client believes he is capable of safely exchanging pro-hero Todoroki with an alternate self of his. However, he doubts whether he would be able to replicate the conditions of the original exchange precisely enough to exchange the specific two incarnations.”

 

“Bullshit,” Bakugou says, loudly, making Ohuro jump. “You’re perfectly capable of changing people with their infant selves, as we’ve had explained to us in great fucking detail by the lab-coats there. How is it any harder to change someone with a variant you know the exact characteristics of?”

 

“It’s not the same!” Ohuro blurts, eyes nervously flitting between the two of them. “I didn’t even realise I was doing that- I thought I was changing their mental age! And even then it was approximate- I was years and months apart each time.”

 

“This seems like your problem to fix,” Shouto says, coolly. 

 

“I know that!” Ohuro exclaims, twitchy again. “That’s why I’m telling you- I don’t want to be blamed if I exchange you wrong!” 

 

“I thought we might discuss this further outside,” the Commissioner says, gesturing to the science team and sparing Ohuro a withering look. Bakugou, glaring daggers at the villain, nods sharply. 

 

“Better hope I like what I hear, Goro.” 

 

He had assumed that capturing Ohuro would be the last hurdle to jump, Shouto thinks, as they exit the room. Somehow the possibility of having him behind bars and still not being able to return to his life had never crossed his mind. It is more unsettling now than it has been for the duration of his situation- being so close to getting this all fixed, only to realise it might not be fixable. 

 

Beyond the latent fear of his painful death, he is shocked to discover how badly he wants to go back. Everything in this life is like the improved version of his, but it’s not his life- not his past, not his achievements, and not his friends. If this future is his, things will have worked out better than he could have hoped, but he wants to earn it, not steal it from someone else. He misses his friends as he knows them. 

 

“Ohuro is telling the truth,” the Commissioner is saying; “He’s scared shitless of you, and if he doesn’t want to spend his life in the roughest all-male prison we can find, it’s in his best interest to cooperate. He doesn’t have sufficient control over his quirk.”

 

“However,” science hero one interjects, scanning his tablet, “With our technology, it should be possible for us to help focus his quirk sufficiently.”

 

“Well, might be,” his coworker is quick to stress, shooting a dirty look his way. “That kind of tech is very avant-guarde, kind of experimental- not the sort of thing we’re licensed to operate.”

 

“But we know someone who is,” the first guy claims, unfazed. “And she should be here any time now.”

 

The Commissioner frowns. “Then she better have clearance for this case. The police are not going to host some kind of rogue scientist on the odd chance that she be of help- incurring that liability is not an option for the department.”

 

“Oh, let the fucker in,” Bakugou retorts, rolling his eyes hard. “Invoice damage to the agency, if you’re too chicken-shit to deal with it.”

 

“Do you know this woman?” the Superintendent asks, warily.

 

“You do too,” Bakugou scoffs, addressing the next part towards the door just as a knock comes from the other side of the room. “Thought you were dead, Hatsume.”

 

“That was only a minor setback,” Hatsume Mei exclaims cheerily, bounding through the door. She looks disturbingly unchanged, bar the change of clothes and the ugly scarring on her cheek. By her side two officers exchange exasperated looks. “What’s kicking, explodey? Heard you two have some juicy problems for me to handle.”

 

“Ms Hatsume,” the Commissioner starts, like this is very painful to say. “I wasn’t aware you had returned to Tokyo.”

 

“Oh, you know me,” Hatsume waves away. “Couldn’t stay away for long.” Shouto notes, with some surprise, the government ID on her chest. 

 

“We have a quirk user who-“ 

 

“Yeah, yeah, Yang already filled me in,” Hatsume says, the other scientist cut off mid-sentence. Her lantern-like eyes land on Shouto with insatiable curiosity; she’s in his personal space before he can so much as blink. “You’re little baby Todoroki, then? How fascinating!”

“Hands off, Kirby,” Bakugou warns; she relents slowly, eyes still intent. “Look, can you do something or are you just here to yak on about some bullshit?”

 

“God, you’re a riot,” Hatsume mutters, though she seems no less cheery, leaning back to grab a suitcase out of one of the officers’ hands. “I brought my tools. If I can get access to the B-wing labs, I should be able to get something going before lunch.”

 

“With due respect,” the Commissioner says, begrudging, “You are no longer employed here. You do not have access to private facilities.”

 

“I’m an on-site expert,” Hatsume retorts, flashing her badge. “According to section 3(5a) of Part 4 of the second Protocol, ‘appropriate facilities are to be provided for the-’”

 

“Fuck’s sake,” Bakugou gripes, pushing past her towards the door. “You two can have your passive-aggressive fight about whose fault it was you broke up later.” 

 

Shouto ducks his head so he won’t be caught smiling at a very inappropriate moment. Both women seem uncharacteristically at a loss for words. 

 

 

With proprieties out of the way, Hatsume takes over the lab with impressive ease, ordering various members of the science team around confidently. They all seem to bear at least begrudging respect for her, which Shouto finds somewhat amusing, considering her status in high school. Her lab demeanour, in any event, is unchanged; she makes an alarming amount of noise, uses lumbering tools about twice her size, and sets three things on fire, at least one of which was not an accident. Between drilling, she yells technical-sounding questions in their direction.

 

“What exactly is it you’re trying to make?” Shouto inquires, eventually, tired of sitting and watching. Hatsume perks up immediately from her precarious perch atop two stools. 

 

“It’s very simple, really! Your guy can already use his quirk fine, even within the year- your problem is one of precision, right? So we’re modifying the kind of tracker we would usually use to track someone on a mission so that instead of solely tracking only your specific quirk signature, it is tailored also to your quirk signature in one specific form. On top of that, I’ve been tweaking my little monitoring baby- he’s supposed to help connect to someone’s quirk usage, so that an exterior party can follow and control it if the connexion is stable enough.”

 

“How totalitarian,” Shouto mumbles, as Hatsume coos at her ‘baby’, a mass of sparking cables and electromagnetic probes ominously protruding from the ceiling. 

 

“No, silly, he’s for personal use, not the government.” 

 

“Wow, an option that is somehow just as terrible,” Bakugou says, flat. His gaze on the engineer is piercing. “Is this going to work?”

“Should do,” Hatsume nods, stool teetering ominously as she blinks her eyes intently. “With the tracker on this Todoroki’s signature and us steering Ohuro, the probability of connecting with the correct Todoroki is pretty high.”

 

“Don’t give me pretty high,” Bakugou snaps. Hatsume actually stops, turning to look at him, and he grabs her stool to meet her eyes, tilting so she has to hold onto the cables not to fall. “I don’t want pretty much Todoroki. This isn’t some fucking lab experiment. You bring Todoroki back. If not-“ He pauses, eyes very red. “Well, you will, won’t you.”  

 

He straightens the stool, Hatsume’s expression curiously hard to read. “Also, fucking talk to Jun, because that was mostly your fault and she’s a miserable bitch to work with now.”

 

“Oh, mind your own business,” Hatsume exclaims, but she turns back to work with more focus than previously evident. Shouto raises his eyebrows and decides he doesn’t have the time to ask, even if he very much wants to.

 

They go get breakfast just past seven, though Shouto feels nauseous thinking of doing anything but sleeping. He regrets his decision even more once they get to the mess hall. It already seems an undue tragedy that he not be able to eat Bakugou’s cooking one last time, but the feeling worsens when he sees what he gets as replacement.

 

“No wonder they’re all so ill-tempered,” Shouto mumbles, prodding at the cereal. “This looks expired.”

 

“It’s this or vending-machine noodles, which will definitely be expired,” Bakugou says, unsympathetic, though he isn’t touching his food either. He looks disgruntled, though he might just be tired, Shouto thinks. His Bakugou is very strict with his sleep schedules, and he can’t think Bakugou has had more than an hour or two’s shut-eye. Unfairly, he doesn’t even look the worse for wear, hair tousled and suit jacked discarded- his shirt is slightly unbuttoned and ruffled, like some action movie star. 

 

“Can’t we just go find food somewhere else? It’s Tokyo. Somewhere will be open.”

 

“Not risking it,” Bakugou retorts, though he seems to be considering it. Shouto, sensing an opening, readies himself for an impassioned tangent, but any conversational prowess dies off when the doors to mess hall open cautiously and Camie Utsushimi peers in. She brightens immediately. 

 

“Hey, Inasa! Found ‘em!”

 

“Oh, for the love of fuck,” Bakugou says, loudly. Shouto thinks he looks kind of pleased. “Who let you assholes in?”

 

“Like we wouldn’t come and see what was up! I literally cannot believe you were just gonna let this happen without telling us-“

 

“AH, SHOUTO!” Yoarashi booms, bursting through the doors and making a beeline for Shouto, who stiffens warily. “What a situation you’ve found yourself in, eh?” 

 

“Geeze, keep it down,” Camie winces, coming to sit by their side. “Also, girl, you are crushing the donuts right now. And I mean that like they are being crushed to dust, not like in the Drag Race sense-”

 

“APOLOGIES!” Yoarashi exclaims, slamming down a box of donuts. “I forgot I even brought these!”

 

“We, like, figured you two must be hungry. I always think the food choices here are so wack.” 

 

“You two are giving the damn kid a seizure,” Bakugou yells, before either of them can pipe up again. “Sit your asses down and shut up, damn!”

 

The duo turn to consider Shouto, who blinks. 

 

“Oh, my god, my bad,” Camie says, leaning to pat his cheek. “Poor baby. You are literally giving me such a debutante vibe right now. It really is little you.”

 

Yoarashi bows intensely. “We didn’t mean to cause further upset!”

 

Shouto reaches for a donut. They are squashed, but the taste is unaffected. “Hi.” 

 

Apparently Camie’s distantly friends with someone who works at the station, because she launches into a convoluted story explaining how they came to hear of the situation at hand, involving many confusing terms Shouto is sure she is using incorrectly. They had heard something was up with the two of them several days ago, without any clear idea as to what, and discussed coming to Tokyo to pay a visit, but it was only upon hearing the specifics that their plan had crystallised. 

 

As she talks, routinely interrupted by Yoarashi’s additions and Bakugou’s irate questioning, Shouto considers the duo. Camie is a third year as he knows her, physically mature for her age, so she isn’t too changed, though her hair has been bleached and her makeup is artfully messy. Yoarashi is equally unchanged, though he seems to have somehow gotten even more enormous, and when he removes his hat his hair is long, curling incoherently in all directions. They both have a hint of that added gravitas affecting all his classmates, even as they chatter away.

 

He realises, as he watches Bakugou clarify the actual details of the situation at hand (“-no, we can’t keep him like this”), that what really takes him aback is their familiarity with one another. With UA it had been sort of expected, but their interactions as a foursome in his time have been limited and somewhat stilted. Watching them now, Camie leaning comfortably into Bakugou’s side and Yoarashi’s burly arm slung over the back of Shouto’s chair, they seem like old friends. 

 

“You doing okay?” Yoarashi asks, in what is probably his quietest voice but still hurts Shouto’s ears. He seems genuinely concerned, stupidly expressive face contorted in suspicion. “Must be quite an adjustment, huh?”

 

“You could say that.”

 

The wind-user lets out a loud sigh, turning to look at him. “You two always get the crazy quirks. I feel like it was just last week Bakugou was hit by that truth-telling quirk.”

 

“That what now,” Shouto says. Across the table, Bakugou is angrily bickering with Camie about some publicity stunt. Yoarashi’s eyes widen.

 

“Ah! Yes! You don’t remember, of course. Bakugou-“ He stops, frowns. “Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this?”

 

“No, no,” Shouto says. “You definitely should be.”

 

“Well, all right. It all started because Kirishima got into an altercation and Bakugou shielded him, if I remember it right-“

 

“The fuck are you two talking about?” Bakugou demands, loud. Shouto fixes him with what can best be described as a rebellious pout. “I sure fucking hope it’s not some confidential mission-report shit.”

 

“Why must you always ruin things for me...”

 

Having averted the risk of Yoarashi telling Shouto anything actually interesting, Bakugou returns to his conversation, Camie laughing and kicking his knee when he starts threatening her with bodily harm. It makes Shouto feel sort of displaced, in a way he doesn’t recognise- it’s just strange to see, he supposes, that they are so comfortable with each other, that Camie can clasp Bakugou’s hand to read his palm and he will tolerate the contact, voice mild and expression long-suffering. Very strange. He wonders how the other Shouto would feel about this. Not that he and the other Shouto share a common interest here, obviously, but if this was his- 

 

Anyways. Bakugou is perfectly free to hold hands with whoever he pleases. 

 

“Aren’t they cute?” Yoarashi booms, somehow managing to make this sweet statement sound intensely enthusiastic in the same way he might promise someone a rematch. Shouto looks at him warily. 

 

“Not a word I would typically associate with Bakugou.”

 

“I meant them like this,” Yoarashi continues, unperturbed. His tone has shifted into paternal pride, which is disturbing not least because he is definitely the youngest of them. “You must not have expected to see all of your friendships so maintained, huh?”

 

“I wouldn’t call us friends,” Shouto says, not meanly. Yoarashi looks comically wounded. 

 

He has a point, though. Not really that his friendships are holding strong- he has come a ways from first year, after all, and the pleasant relief of finding himself still firmly friends with people like Midoriya or Yaoyorozu wasn’t quite surprise. But there are many people he is not so close with in his own time that seem to consider him a fast friend in the future, and even this oddball group seems to be a tight-knit one. 

 

It is a little overwhelming, he finds, that so many people care about him. 

 

Unfortunately, caring seems to come with the side-effect of reading him too well, because Yoarashi slings an arm around his shoulders and pats his chest sympathetically. “Don’t overthink it, kid! Everything will work itself out just fine, even if things don’t always end up as planned.” 

 

“Thanks for the inspirational advice.”

 

“You are very welcome!” Yoarashi exclaims, with a smile so broad and sincere Shouto almost smiles back, slightly sheepish. It’s not that he’s trying to be stand-offish, but it’s very uncomfortable to find himself apparently such close friends with the person he once failed his exams over. Also, he’s still very embarrassed by that whole fiasco, and thinking about it is makes him defensive. 

 

Yoarashi’s smile quietens a little, and he reaches for the box. “Donut?”

 

So maybe being friends with him is a tolerable prospect, Shouto thinks. “Thanks.”

 

The four of them spend a while talking, the building growing busier as the morning gets on and the police force returns to work. Somehow, between the chattering duo and Bakugou’s grounding presence, Shouto relaxes enough to nod off in their booth, slipping in and out of consciousness. He’ll take any rest he can get- his body feels like it’s on overdrive, still unnaturally tired from giving chase the previous day. 

 

Somewhere around nine or ten, he is gently shaken awake by Camie, straightening rapidly when he realises he’s been sleeping against Yoarashi’s shoulder. 

 

“Seems like the lab wants you guys back,” Camie says, generously ignoring Shouto’s flushed cheeks. “I don’t really have the time to stick around for the rest of the day, but I can make it work if you want some company.”

 

“Ah,” Shouto swallows, touched despite himself. “Thank you. But that won’t be necessary. I don’t want to keep you any longer.”

 

“Katsuki, he’s such a sweetheart,” Camie croons, before standing on tip-toes to ruffle his hair. “Oh, Shou. Good luck getting home safely.” 

 

“Th-“ Shouto starts, only to be lifted off his feet into a bone-crushing hug by Yoarashi, who seems close to tears. 

 

“If you need anything, I will be happy to provide any service I can-!” 

 

“Hghrh,” Shouto says, unable to speak. Hopefully this means something to Yoarashi, who sets him carefully back down and shakes his hand very intensely. 

 

“All right, god, he’s not terminally ill,” Bakugou barks, gesturing at them. “Enough with the theatrics.”

 

Camie continues blowing kisses until they are out of sight; Shouto takes the box of donuts with him as they get into the elevator. 

 

 

They find Aizawa in the hallway outside the labs, and Shouto starts. For some reason, he hadn’t even thought about their homeroom teacher in all this time, but upon seeing him he is flooded with surprising relief, like having him there means things will work out fine. 

 

“Hey, sensei,” Bakugou greets, hands in his pockets. How old is Aizawa, Shouto wonders- Bakugou must be about as old as Aizawa is in their time? It’s an odd thought. 

 

“Bakugou,” Aizawa says, in a very different tone to the way he usually says his name. Then he looks at Shouto. 

 

“Sensei,” Shouto mumbles. Aizawa doesn’t look much altered, just older, hair cut shorter and bags heavier. 

 

“I didn’t know you’d been called in,” Bakugou says. Aizawa shrugs.

 

“I wasn’t. I was in the city; contacts told me the two of you were mixed up in some kind of mess again. Thought I’d stop by.”

 

“This doesn’t happen often,” Bakugou grunts. “Anyways, we have it under control, now.”

 

“So I heard.” 

 

“The amount of faith you have in us is insultingly little,” Bakugou scoffs, though it lacks any real heat, and Shouto somehow doubts this is quite true. 

 

“Hm,” Aizawa says. “Bakugou- mind giving us a minute?”

 

Bakugou shrugs, sees himself into the lab. There is a beat of silence, then loud swearing and mild remonstrances erupt into the hallway, one of Hatsume’s babies evidently acting up. Aizawa’s eyes narrow.

 

“You look tired.” 

 

Rich, coming from him, Shouto thinks, but he feels tired, so he only nods. “The swap- it’s been taking its toll on my body.”

 

“I see.” Aizawa scrutinises him a bit. “This can’t have been an easy adjustment. I’m glad to see you’ve been holding it together. And good work on tracking the villain down.”

 

“Thank you, sensei,” Shouto manages, somewhat flustered. Aizawa is not knowing for his random bouts of compliments. “It was mostly Bakugou, though.”

 

Aizawa’s dark eyes flicker to the lab and back. “I expect the future has come with its share of surprises.”

 

To this, he can only manage a nod. He does not want to know if Aizawa is talking about what he thinks he’s talking about. 

 

“Once you’re back to your timeline, update me on what has happened. I expect I will have been involved in some way, but as my actual student, I would assume I want your input on the situation too.” The older man crosses his arms in thought. “In any event, if things don’t go as planned, seek me out. It’s my responsibility to look after my students.” 

 

“I will,” Shouto says, meaning it. It feels worryingly unfamiliar to have a crisis situation he’s not actively hiding from Aizawa, somehow. God, between Stain and the rescue mission, he’s got Bakugou beat for dangerous stunts pulled without authorisation- and Bakugou and Midoriya’s fight had at least stayed on school grounds. What has he become? 

 

“That’s all I had to say,” Aizawa says, dry like he can read minds. “You should go intervene before the whole morning’s work gets destroyed.” 

 

Shouto inclines his head in agreement, and his ex-teacher watches him go, impassive as always. 

 

Bakugou and Hatsume, as it appears, have moved on from fighting each other to fighting the machine together, because Hatsume has apparently tweaked it a little too well and it keeps overloading. Shouto helpfully ices the spasming device. Somehow, his trust in its efficiency isn’t particularly reinforced. 

 

“It’s fine,” Hatsume assures him, both hands shoved deep into what Shouto can only describe as the guts of the machine. “It works fine! I was just playing with settings a little.”

 

“It was on fire two minutes ago!”

 

“It’s fine, I said!” She turns to consider Shouto, looking convinced. “Look, all we’re waiting on is for them to give us the OK to use it on your guy- it’s gonna work, I swear. Can you take your clothes off?”

 

“Uh,” Shouto says. 

 

“I need to place the electrodes on you to get your signature,” Hatsume explains, like she doesn’t understand what possible qualms he could have with stripping naked in a crowded room of scientists. “Shirt, please?”

 

“I don’t feel like I need to be fully naked for this,” Shouto counters, relatively sure of this. Hatsume harrumphs.

 

“Well, fine, we’ll only do it on your arms and chest- that’s where your quirk is habitually used, anyways.” 

 

The scientists, Shouto notes suspiciously, look somewhat disappointed, although they turn scrupulously academic when Bakugou slaps his hands together menacingly. He undoes the top of his shirt and rolls his shirt up; Hatsume covers him in a rainbow of electrodes, buzzing somewhat uncomfortable but not quite painful, or at least not enough that he registers it as such. When she begins to tweak the monitor, the hurt kicks in, tiny but incisive pricks of pain. 

 

He thinks, briefly, of calling his sister. It feels like the time to say goodbye. But Fuyumi has no idea there is a goodbye to be said, and he feels faintly nauseous in recalling their conversation- again, Touya- so that he can’t quite muster the conviction that he’s duty-bound to do it. In his own life he most definitely wouldn’t think of warning his siblings of some threat befalling him. 

 

Spurred by some latent sense of guilt, he nonetheless sits staring blankly at their group chat for a handful of minutes, trying to formulate some clever half-truth that explains enough in the event this all goes wrong but not so much that he needs to come clean if it doesn’t. Unfortunately, linguistic wit has never been his forte, and the best he can come up with are cheesy lines from action movies he can’t quite recall. 

 

“These donuts taste like diabetes,” Bakugou notes, peering at the donut clutched between his fingers like it’s a live bomb. Shouto sets his phone down, shrugs at the offending donuts apologetically. 

 

“They taste good.”

 

“Does heart failure taste good?” 

 

“I don’t think heart failure is edible.”

 

“Die.”

 

They sit and eat donuts in silence; Shouto licks the sugar off his fingers while Bakugou picks at the dough with disgust. It is the last meal they will share if all goes well. Shouto wishes it was nicer; that he was, that all he had to offer as parting gifts weren’t some overly sweet store-bought donuts and morose silence.

 

Adjusting had been hard, Aizawa had assumed. He’s not so sure he was right. Adjusting had been really quite simple, once Bakugou had barged his way into the apartment. Adjusting back to his own life might just be the harder task, deprived of an omnipresent guide. 

 

“Hey,” Bakugou says, kicking his ankle gently enough. “Stop with that face. It’ll be fine.”

 

“I know that,” Shouto says, though he doesn’t. The blonde snorts; for the first time all week his eyes are what Shouto might describe as soft, and it comes too unexpectedly for him to deflect, so that he can only stare and flounder under Bakugou’s awfully gentle scrutiny. 

 

“No, seriously. Don’t worry so much about doing things right. You’re really fucking young. You have ages to figure shit out, but you’ll be fine- no matter what happens here or there.”

 

“You sound so sure of that,” Shouto deflects, quietly, for a lack of anything else to say. Bakugou hums, rubs at his eye. 

 

“Well, yeah. You’re a capable little motherfucker.”

 

It’s a glowing endorsement if he’s ever heard one; he ducks his head and considers the electrodes as they pulse. “And if I overestimate myself?”

 

“That’s what friends are for, isn’t it?” Bakugou asks, only half-sardonic. “Besides- you know who your competition is. Not the type to enjoy an unfair victory.”

 

“My saviour, Katsuki Bakugou,” Shouto mutters. He means it in jest, but also cannot quite wrap his mind around the fact Bakugou is covertly promising his younger self’s fealty, and worse, that Shouto sort of believes him. This stranger, this adult man with the familiar face- somehow, through these twists of fate, Shouto has ended up wholly in his care, and emerged trusting him rather too entirely for the short time they’d known each other. He doesn’t know how to express any of this, nor does he particularly want to, but he is filled with gratitude nonetheless, and hopes Bakugou knows this, even if he fails to say it out loud. He can’t imagine how he would have handled a young Bakugou seeking his help.

 

“You bet, kid,” Bakugou snorts, with that knowing look that would feel horribly out of place on the Bakugou knows. 

 

Most of this Bakugou is horribly out of place for the Bakugou he knows.

 

A delighted croon from Hatsume steals his attention away, and he turns to see her atop the contraption, grin manic and fingers caressing the cables. Upon seeing them watching her, she beckons them nearer, patting the device and sliding off.

 

“It’s set to go, gentlemen! Or should I say one gentleman, and one presumptuous bastard?” 

 

“Isn’t he just,” Bakugou agrees with a sneer. Shouto rolls his eyes lest the two of them start bickering. Loathe as he is to forego the opportunity to learn the juicy gossip and various interdepartmental disputes of the, uh, governmental agencies, there are more urgent things to attend to, like not dying in limbo. 

 

“Can I remove these?” 

 

Hatsume tuts and swats his hands away when he makes to tug at an electrode. “Yes- we have your signature- but be careful, damn, these things are expensive!”

 

Shouto exchanges a look with Bakugou as they silently survey the debris cluttering several countertops. Hatsume ignores this blissfully as she removes the sensors, leaving red pinpricks in their wake for Shouto to rub at absently. 

 

“Hey, the fuck? You can’t just stick needles into a pro-hero like that!” Bakugou gestures, indignant upon spotting the wounds. It’s funny, because Shouto knows for a fact if he’d complained he’d have been called a pussy- or at the very least Bakugou would have told him to quit whingeing. Of course he would suddenly develop empathy just to win an argument. 

 

“Oh, he can handle it,” Hatsume waves away, unperturbed as she half-sits on Shouto’s knee to rip the last batch off. “Bet he didn’t even feel it. His abs are chiselled.” 

 

Bakugou seems far more infuriated by her absent-minded groping of Shouto’s chest than he had been about the unwarranted injury, hackles rising rapidly while Shouto blinks in mild fear at her roving hands. “Said chiselled body is insured, so if you wanna get Endeavour’s legal team on your ass-“

 

“Scientific curiosity, jeez!” The pink-haired woman relents, though, leaving a vaguely blushing Shouto to awkwardly button his shirt up. “So damn territorial.”

 

“Now who’s presumptuous?”

 

“You know, ever since you started importing your gadgets from abroad, you’ve really gotten annoying,” Hatsume mutters, looking actually grumpy for once. Bakugou is unrepentant. 

 

“Not to interrupt,” Shouto interrupts. “But could we focus on the potentially disastrous quirk machinery?”

 

“Potentially disastrous just means most likely safe,” Hatsume dismisses, science team nodding with varying levels of confidence when Shouto casts them a look. “Programme set up, test run completed, and we’ve fixed most of the glitches.”

 

“Uh, all of the glitches,” one of the scientists corrects, warily. Hatsume grins.

 

“Sure, yeah. All of ‘em.”

 

“I’m going to die,” Shouto says, matter of factly. Bakugou groans. 

 

Thankfully, Hatsume’s subordinates have more restraint and less faith in their own sheer luck, so Hatsume’s wild enthusiasm is curbed somewhat by further tests and tweaking. Shouto has no complaints, considering the more Hatsume’s lip juts out, the less the device looks like a live bomb. Once the group is satisfied, humming and muttering intelligent sounding assessment, the metal monstrosity is wheeled out into the adjoining testing bay. Hatsume directs its installation as some poor helper crumbles under the weight of the monitors dumped into his arms. 

 

When everything is in its place, the process is further delayed by procedural nonsense- the police send their own expert to check the conditions of the set-up are satisfactory, leading to Hatsume’s growing irritation with her ‘creativity’ being stifled and more than one snippy back-and-forth with the poor hassled Superintendent. 

 

“Oh, tell Jun if she wants to be all up my dick for no reason she can at least buy me a drink first,” Hatsume exclaims eventually, unabashed even as the Superintendent flushes. “We’re all set, and I’m not feeling inclined to see this through if the police aren’t willing to let me do anything my way.”

 

“I’ll, uh,” the Superintendent clears his throat. “I’ll tell the Commissioner.”

 

He returns with her in tow a couple of minutes later, though Shouto suspects this is only because the Commissioner wants keep an eye on Ohuro. To their credit it’s not like either woman seems particularly concerned by the other’s presence; the Commissioner simply stands in the doorway with crossed arms and a serious frown, Hatsume hums eagerly as Ohuro gingerly sits down in his designed seat. He still looks pale and queasy; Shouto somewhat perversely enjoys his flinch when the electrodes begin to sting his skin, and looks towards the Superintendent. 

 

“Have you located his other victims?” 

 

“The ones hit during the casino chase, yes,” the man replies, frowning. “Unfortunately, we have no way of tracking down any recent hits until he tells us about them.”

 

“He’s given us a few names,” the Commissioner adds, turning to consider Shouto with her cool grey eyes. “But it’s evident he won’t confess to all of his crimes. He wants a reduced sentence.”

 

Shouto shakes his head, remembering the waitress crumpling to the floor with wide eyes. The magnitude of of Ohuro’s quirk had only revealed itself to them late, minds and lives irrevocably ruined at his reckless hands. And all for what? Money, a quick fix, wounded pride. God, it turns his stomach. He wishes briefly that there was a way to stay for the duration of his trial, just to see some justice served. Sentencing won’t do much, but he would bet good money that someone like Ohuro fares badly in prison. 

 

“All right,” one of the scientists announces, flipping a switch so Ohuro’s chair raises itself onto a platform. “Starting testing.”

 

Ohuro looks for his lawyer, greying around the edges, but the latter looks supremely disinterested in his latent concerns, only quirking a brow in acknowledgment. Hatsume’s contraption buzzes alive, tubes glowing with energy and electrodes beeping intermittently. 

 

“Sensors active,” Hatsume notes, with a grin. “Shouto’s tracker still on.”

 

“Starting phase two,” another scientist calls, lowering Ohuro’s chair so he’s more fully reclined. His eyes flash, but he stays put, fists clenching. 

 

“Sensors activating!”

 

They watch in engrossed silence as the monitor starts projecting across the screens, pulsing waves reflecting the ebb and flow of Ohuro’s quirk. It’s displayed in star formation on the screen, ball of energy spiking in various directions; Shouto wonders absently what his own quirk would reflect as in the same way. He can’t imagine any UA trained student would have such a loose and fluctuating display. 

 

“What’s happening?” Ohuro calls, voice tight, when Hatsume’s fingers run over her makeshift keyboard. “Hey- what the hell? What’s going on?”

 

“Redirecting quirk,” Hatsume answers, either to him or to the room at large. “Locking on target.”

 

For a tense moment, they wait. Then she smiles broadly. 

 

“Target acquired. We’re good to go.”

 

The Commissioner nods sharply. “Then we do the trial attempt. We aren’t risking pro-hero Shouto on the first run of experimental technology.” 

 

Hatsume’s lantern-like eyes flash bright yellow. “It’s experimental, but it’s perfect. Pro-hero Shouto is in safe hands.”

 

“Glad to hear it. Someone else is using it first.”

 

“Can pro-hero Shouto chime in?” Shouto asks, wondering how the hell Bakugou manages not to blow up anywhere he works if he always finds himself at the heart of this kind of drama. It’s making Shouto’s jaw clench with irritation, and he likes to think of himself as a quite tranquil individual. “I’ll take the risk. A team of scientific professionals has been working on this thing all morning.”

 

It’s not that he doesn’t understand the risk, but Hatsume is already somewhat of a prodigy in high school- her machines are exquisite things, when they work. Now officially government mandated, and supported by a team of presumably saner folks, Shouto will take his chances. It’s not like the machine is the one sending him through time, anyways- it’s a glorified GPS for Ohuro, really. 

 

“His choice,” Bakugou chimes in, daring them to fight him on it. Shouto lets him nudge their feet together, almost subconsciously. 

 

“If he- if you’re prepared to incur the liability,” the Commissioner concedes, stilted, “Then by all means.”

 

“Settled,” Hatsume decides, happily enough. “Let’s calibrate this baby first. Todoroki- come sit within arm’s reach, please.”

 

Placidly enough, Shouto does. The mood of the room shifts- everyone’s various grievances taking a backseat to the realisation that this is it- the end of the road, if all goes well, probably also if all does not. The cops shift back cautiously; the science team murmurs confirmation, and Shouto cannot quite help himself from glancing back towards Bakugou, who is-

 

By his side, meeting his gaze expectantly. Right.

 

“All right. Mr. Ohuro,” the Commissioner speaks out, “You are aware of your circumstances, of course. Any sign of foul play will severely impact the outcome of your case.”

 

“Also, my fist will severely impact your internal organs.”

 

“Ground Zero, if you could refrain from making threats of battery towards my client…”

 

“Punitive justice,” Bakugou says, unperturbed. Ohuro twists upwards nevertheless, nervously skimming the faces in the room.

 

“Worry about this- thing, not me!”

 

As if in response, the monitor beeps shrilly, startling several officers. Ohuro jolts in his restraints. 

 

“You hurt his feelings,” Hastume reproaches. “Can we get started on calibration?” 

 

Getting no dissent, she snaps her goggles on, leaning far into Ohuro’s personal space with one hand on the screen. “Right. Power up your quirk as slowly as you can- don’t use it just yet, just summon it to you.”

 

Nervously, Ohuro’s wrists make a circular motion- a typical move for an untrained quirk-user, relying on some familiar gesture to summon his quirk. For a beat nothing happens and he shifts anxiously, then the same cloud of floating cogs flickers into tremulous existence around his fists. The air between the cogs, Shouto notes curiously, seems hazy, like the horizon on a very hot day. 

 

“Fascinating,” one of the scientists hums, peering closer. Hastume’s goggles make a whirring sound, probably enhancing her own quirk, and she literally rubs her hands together with excitement. 

 

“Warping proprieties are intact,” another assistant calls; Hastume nods, waving her hands like she’s just remembered herself. 

 

“Alright. Calibrate?”

 

Shouto’s not entirely sure of what happens, but Ohuro’s hands move seemingly of their own volition, to the villain’s alarm, the configuration of cogs altering itself, and simultaneously Shouto feels an achingly sharp headache manifest itself in his skull, nothing like the haze of the previous days. Instinctively, he clutches his forehead, gritting his teeth and controlling his expression difficultly. 

 

“What are you feeling?” Hatsume inquires, eyes boring (probably literally) into his. “Specifics, please.”

 

“Abrupt and very localised migraine,” Shouto manages, resisting the urge to screw his eyes shut out of sheer willpower. He wishes he’d paid more attention to their anatomy lessons when it came to quirk localisation. “Feels like it’s emanating from the- temporal lobe.”

 

“Wonderful!” Hatsume crows, clapping her hands together as the police offers frown and the scientists exchange vaguely incredulous smiles. Her gaze turns sharp when she sees the dubious looks she’s getting, and she turns to Bakugou, tapping his chest authoritatively. “Care to explain for the class, if the muscle hasn’t drowned your studies out yet?”

 

“Temporal lobe’s where explicit memory is stored,” Bakugou answers, before the rest of the room can even finish exchanging wry anticipatory looks. He’s obnoxious like that. “Including episodic, which I guess is what you’re going for, if you’re trying to pinpoint the specific time Todoroki needs to go back to.” 

 

“Ten points for explodey!” Hatsume applauds, squeezing his arm with the air of a wizened tutor whose mentee has just proven himself for the first time. “Shame on the rest of you, though.” 

 

“I can’t hold this much longer,” Ohuro says, somewhat strained; one of the scientists surges forwards to activate the quirk-disabling restraints, and his power flickers out of existence, to Shouto’s relief. He rubs his forehead. 

 

“Calibration confirmed,” Hastume affirms, flicking one screen behind her with a satisfied air. “We officially have a 98.9% probability of your safe return to your own timeline, kiddo.” 

 

“You can tell just from that?” Shouto inquires, curious. She shakes her head.

 

“No, dummy, we calculated the odds with regards to the machines. But now we know those chances are actually legitimate. If your villain over here can focus on the right time and place, which it sure looks like he can, we’re a go for the rest.”

 

Shouto considers this, thinks back to the previous day. “So the cogs were organising themselves.”

 

“Yup! Big ol’ idiot over there never thought anything about what form his attacks took, but the cogs regulate the switch- and if you get the configuration right, you can send people back and forth from specific points in time with a certain degree of specificity.” 

 

“Like setting a watch.”

 

“Like clockwork,” Bakugou snorts. “Fucking themed villains.” 

 

“All comes down to machinery,” Hatsume retorts, spreading her hands. “Good thing we have mechanics, huh?”

 

Ohuro, Shouto notes, looks somewhat shell-shocked, likely at the realisation that his quirk is far more powerful than he thought it was. Villains are always going on about how heroes have a limited vision of the world, and if only you’d join us, then you’d see, but in Shouto’s experience they are largely the ones who purposefully stunt their own worldview. If Ohuro hadn’t been so hell-bent on using his quirk as an easy way out of his slippery schemes, he would have discovered a myriad of functions at his fingertips. Small things, like sending someone back to get closure with loved ones, or bigger ones, like seeing if he could transfer more than the mental. He could have enabled time-travel. 

 

“Recording,” one of the science officers announces, screens shuffling into place around her. “Reversing the effects of the quirk on pro-hero Shouto: first attempt.” She looks at Shouto, voice losing a touch of pomp. “Ready?”

 

Shouto casts a look around the room; the cops nod when he meets their eye, a neat little show of respect, maybe a goodbye. He’s not sure how well the other Shouto knows any of them. Hatsume doesn’t meet his gaze, engrossed in twiddling with her switches, but he appreciates it more than the reverse; at least she’s paying due attention to the whole operation. 

 

His stomach twists a little with nerves. 

 

He doesn’t really have a goodbye to say to Bakugou. They’ve already had their little unsaid exchange, and besides, it’s not like this is the last time they’ll see each other. Shouto will reappear at UA and spend the next week resisting the urge to roll his eyes at Bakugou’s various fits of rage; with time, maybe, this Bakugou will make his appearance. 

 

Still, there is something final about this, irreversible. In a strange way it is like leaving a good friend behind. Shouto has never done well with goodbyes, mostly because he has never done them at all. Both of his familial ruptures occurred wholly unannounced and very dramatically, with no chance to get a word in edgewise; he has not experienced anything similar since. 

 

“Ready,” he says, because his chest feels tight and he worries that if he tries to say something else it will come out more emotional than he would like. He cannot bring himself to meet Bakugou’s eyes. 

 

“All right. Activating quirk.”

 

The restraints beep; Ohuro’s hands flare up slowly, and their eyes meet for an instant, this man who has accidentally turned Shouto’s life upside down staring down the child who has brought him down for the last time. Then he looks away, quirk humming as the cogs turn, and Shouto’s headache reappears with a vengeance.

 

“Countdown,” Hastume announces, hands flying over the little keyboard as Shouto’s heartbeat begins to sound abhorrently loud to his own ears. “Going in five- four-“

 

He’s never quite sure why; something about the rush of his pulse, the spike of fear in his stomach- but his hand reaches out lighting-fast to grab at Bakugou’s, and he grips it like a lifeline. 

 

Bakugou presses back, just the once, steadfast, palms calloused. 

 

“One,” Hatsume says, just as their eyes meet. Ohuro’s quirk bursts forward with a great hum; Shouto’s last glimpse of the future is the endless red of Bakugou’s eyes.

 

Everything goes very dark and still. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Todoroki is sick. 

 

Todoroki, in fairness, has been sick since the day he got here, Katsuki knows, but it has been sporadic, temporary, contained. Today, Todoroki is sick, and it’s slick with a permanence there hasn’t been before. They don’t take him to the infirmary this time; no point, as his malady is not one to be cured by Recovery Girl, but he doesn’t come to class, and though Katsuki doesn’t check in on him, Deku does. Bedridden, or so he says.

 

Katsuki had somewhat managed to push back fatalist thoughts the previous day, but it’s hard to keep it up. Hearing that they had no further leads, no way out, that they could only sit and hope things were faring better the future- unsurprisingly, it had grated at him like nothing else. With Todoroki so abruptly worsened, the impotent anger he feels grows suffocatingly thick. There is no feeling in the world that Katsuki abhors more than helplessness.

 

He goes to class, of course. Sits and seethes through two excruciating hours of Hero Studies, barely able to concentrate on All Might’s teaching, and all-but bites Ayoyama’s head off for tripping against his desk. 

 

He wants badly for there to be something else- for Todoroki and Aizawa to have missed out something obvious, for there to be some kind of loophole to exploit- but as much as he sits and glowers at nothing in particular, he can’t think of what it could be. This Ohuro asshole is an incompetent bastard, and there’s not much they can do with him without risking fucking things up worse. Fucking two-cent villains with their shit quirks.

 

The instant their study hours begin, Katsuki is storming out of the class at light-speed, shoving his way through the halls with the kind of loud disregard for social convention that makes people jump out of the way. As it is, he can’t bring himself to care about the outraged cries that follow in his wake. He’s too pissed to be in the company of others- if people keep badgering him, he’s not so clear that he won’t genuinely commit manslaughter. 

 

He heads to Gym Gamma the moment he’s out of the busy halls, wanting to let off some literal steam. Cementoss isn’t in, but that’s not a problem- there are some default displays up that suit his needs just fine.

 

Being that he is not a complete moron, he spends a handful of minutes warming up first, and it is while he is completing a final set of push-ups, one arm tightly clenched behind his back as the other strains to support his weight, that he hears footsteps approach. 

 

He completes his set unflinchingly, not wanting to break his pace, then slams his other arm down so that he can flip himself upright to face the intruder. Unsurprisingly, it’s Todoroki, who has seated himself on a nearby bench, and looks like shit.

 

“You realise you have no reason to stalk me anymore, right?” Katsuki demands, though he’s not really that mad about it, considering how predictable it was. Todoroki is upsettingly pale, eyes somewhat glossy and expression deceptively serene. 

 

“It seemed more entertaining than languishing in bed.”

 

“Could have gone to Deku, now he knows your big secret,” Katsuki retorts, stooping to retrieve his training gloves. “Or have you already been to see him?”

 

“Yes, two hours of being anxiously fretted over would have made my day,” Todoroki replies, tartly. “Anyways, I assumed you would be training, and I thought I might be of some use here.”

 

That gives Katsuki pause, and he scowls skeptically at him. “Not that I’d ever say no to kicking your ass, but you don’t look like you can withstand a punch.” 

 

Todoroki snorts. “Not as a sparring partner. I’ve learnt my lesson when it comes to fighting you half-assed.”

 

He doesn’t give Katsuki the time to reply to that, pushing on unconcerned: “I just wanted to see how you were getting on with your quirk. Give you some pointers. I am extremely wise with future knowledge, after all.”

 

“Not fucking likely,” Katsuki scoffs, though he cannot quite control the intrigued urge to accept the offer. “You saying you actually know shit about my quirk regime?”

 

“Better than you do,” Todoroki smiles, infuriatingly. Katsuki resents it immensely. 

 

“That’s- you have an unfair advantage, bastard!” 

 

“True,” Todoroki concedes, “But I’m right. Want to show me some moves?”

 

Katsuki doesn’t like the feeling that he’s being played, but equally can’t deny that he will never turn down the opportunity to show off, so he only harrumphs before tightening the wraps around his ankles and wrists. “Whatever.” 

 

He warms up with a series of neat little contained hits, then doubles back and propels himself through the smouldering holes in the concrete, just to test his accuracy in flying backwards. When he hits the wall he boosts himself upwards again, flips to slam his palms together; the resulting explosion propels him all the way atop the highest wall in the room.

 

Using his quirk without the gauntlets is a different sort of kick. Storing his sweat allows him the kind of explosions that would collapse whole streets, and a sort of consistency and stamina that is hard to maintain without external aid, but his quirk is powerful enough without any such help. He can pull off a Howitzer Impact without so much as breaking a sweat- figuratively, that is. Perversely, that leap of faith away from the League sticks to his mind as a thrill of a memory sometimes- not the circumstance, but the great burst of power coursing through his veins, his inner monologue chorusing i knew i could do it i knew i could do it i knew i could do it with the sort of triumph that suggested he maybe hadn’t been so entirely sure of it. 

 

TV couldn’t quite capture the magic of it, flying large, streaks of vivid, untamed orange and yellow propelling him through the air so that the wind whipped at him with rough affection and the mob of villains sent to take him in left gaping and useless. That is the core of him, he thinks, reminds himself sometimes when his thoughts are more chaotic than he would like- raw power, an immovable will, and lots of moxie. 

 

Flitting around the room, relying on pure physicality, he feels the jumbled rage and powerlessness in his chest dissipate, a sort of coarse, organic vitality reanimating his movements as he makes his rounds. This is why he is stellar hero material- because he’s good at what he does, even stripped to his bare essentials, an entity of contained intensity. 

 

He darts downwards, fists joined so that the ensuing explosion sends tremors fissuring all the way down the block and he lands immaculately atop the debris; his pulse is satisfyingly loud in his ears, breathing a little laboured from exertion. 

 

“Nice landing,” Todoroki comments; he’s leaning harder against the wall, but his eyes are more alert. Katsuki jumps off his perch to approach him, flexing his arms to shake off any stiffness. 

 

“I could have told you that.”

 

“Learn to take a compliment,” Todoroki replies, unfazed, though he quirks his lips when Katsuki glares. “You know, I’ve reconsidered whether I should be helping you with this. I don’t want you having an unfair advantage here.”

 

“How do you know you’re not getting an unfair advantage on the other side of things?” Katsuki retorts instintively. “Sounds to me like you’re scared of a challenge.”

 

“If I were, are you saying you couldn’t beat me without an unfair advantage?” Todoroki asks, slyly. Katsuki glowers.

 

“Fuck you, that’s not what I meant. You can’t even beat me with two whole-ass quirks.”

 

“Debatable,” Todoroki dismisses, though he seems prepared to drop the argument, likely not taking it seriously from the get-go. “I’ll concede your point, though.”

 

“No,” Katsuki snaps, not prepared to give way. “If you’re right, I don’t want to be winning any fights against half ’n half because I had pointers.”

 

Todoroki blinks, considers him. “Oh. Then I suppose you can get back to your regime.”

 

“Just give me advice to pass on,” Katsuki counters, cracking his neck. “So we’re quits.” 

 

It’s a logical solution, so he doesn’t understand why Todoroki’s expression shifts, but he does know it’s uncomfortable to look at, and he tears his eyes away to kick feelingly at a block of concrete. 

 

“I don’t see why that wouldn’t work,” Todoroki says, and his tone goes business-like when Katsuki looks back at him. “Advice, then. You know your Howitzer Impact- what would you liken it to?”

 

“Missile,” Katsuki answers, automatic. Mic had called it that, and it’s an accurate description. Todoroki nods. 

 

“Your quirk is sort of like a nuclear arsenal within itself. Howitzer causes surface burst detonations, but that’s not the only type at your disposal.”

 

“You saying I can pull off different kinds of bursts, then?” Katsuki asks, not bothering to disguise the eager edge to his voice. He’s had the thought before. “Sub-surface and all that?”

 

“I don’t see why not, hypothetically,” Todoroki says, careful enough. Katsuki takes that as a yes. “With sufficient control, you can redistribute the fall-out to do more than just blow things up.”

 

“I’ve thought about using sub-surface,” Katsuki pushes on, considering the room. “If the explosion doesn’t break through, the ground could collapse without released EMP of blast waves. But I can’t see how I would manage to set it off from beneath the ground.”

 

“Can’t you?” Todoroki asks, eyes drifting over to the holes in the wall. Katsuki frowns intently, putting two and two together. 

 

“It can go that deep?” 

 

“Not yet, it can’t.”

 

How fucking delicious, Katsuki thinks, to have a quirk with no real limits. He gives himself a moment to think, then snaps back to attention. “What about an air burst?”

 

“No reason not to work, considering the proprieties of your quirk. As long as you control the ripple effect…”

 

“Motherfuck,” Katsuki mutters, graphs tracing themselves in his mind’s eye. It’s not something within reach yet, but if the original expanding blast wave can be thrown in such a way that it is reflected off the ground, it could create a second shock wave travelling behind the first, faster than the initial one, merging to form a single wave. He forgets the technical term- something European, certainly. 

 

He’s been referred to as atomic prior, but he has never quite grasped that he is so literally nuclear. 

 

Man, his parents really drew the genetic jackpot with him. 

 

With some difficulty, he stores the information away for later consumption, eyes dragging back down. “So what’s the equivalent eye-opener I’m supposed to share with you?”

 

“Good question,” Todoroki hums, knotting his fingers together gently. Flames softly dance across his joint hands; Katsuki wonders if the explosive properties of his sweat would be set off by his fire. “I don’t think there’s as much of a bigger picture motive to share. I already had some of that from Izuku in first year. Though I guess that might be stressed some more: that it is not a question of my father and my mother’s respective quirks, as much as people would have me believe it. They’re two halves of my own quirk, not anyone else’s. Duality can be deceptive.”

 

“Well, that’s cryptic as fuck,” Katsuki says, because he was starting to feel a little too engrossed in the whole philosophical tirade. “Don’t know how you expect me to tell him that.”

 

“One way or the other,” Todoroki shrugs, eyebrows rising. “Enough pearls of wisdom, I think.” 

 

He looks a little better, though whether this is simple timing or if his mood is capable of affecting his health is an unresolved question. Katsuki only nods. Unlike some people, he doesn’t intend to become the Number One hero in the world by relying on his superiors coddling him every step of the damn way- some vague indication of the direction to work in is more than enough advice. 

 

“I’m gonna work out until lunch. The others will be around, if you need company or some shit.” 

 

Todoroki only shakes his head. “I’d rather sit here. It’s less chaotic.”

 

Funny, that. Katsuki agrees. “Suit yourself.”

 

He spends the better part of the hour continuing his regular routine, though Todoroki’s words linger in the back of his mind, and he can’t help but spend a while attempting random hits towards the ground, seeing if he can manage to do something other than crack the surface into great shards. He can’t, unsurprisingly, which is annoying in the same way that anything he is not immediately very good at annoys him, but not devastatingly so, because he’s also not delusional (shut up, he’s not) and this sort of shit takes years to perfect. Once or twice he catches Todoroki’s gaze on him, amused and knowing, which is distractingly irritating. 

 

Cementoss and one of the first year classes (the new 1-B class, he thinks) is coming in the next hour slot, so he wraps things up with time to spare, cleaning up and tapping his pass out as Todoroki straightens and gingerly joins him by the door. Up close Katsuki recognises the cold sweat he’d been in when Katsuki had to drag him back to UA; his fingers twitch against his own volition, like he wants to drag Todoroki by the collar of his uniform, not trusting him to stand upright by himself. He doesn’t- trust him, that is. 

 

His complexion is waxy, and Katsuki is abruptly convinced he was not supposed to leave his room. Which is incredibly fucking stupid on Todoroki’s part, but Katsuki’s not his nurse. He walks slightly slower than usual anyways, just because he doesn’t want to have to carry him in if he goes too fast or some shit. 

 

He can’t help but ask, anyways. “Have you been like this all morning?” 

 

Todoroki’s responding head-tilt is slow. “Like what?”

 

“Like a fucking plague victim, is what,” Katsuki snaps. Todoroki frowns vaguely.

 

“Mostly. It’s been on and off since I woke up.” He sighs shortly. “It’s more annoying than anything else.”

 

Untrue, Katsuki thinks, but then Todoroki would be the type to complain about grievous illness the same way Kaminari complains about chipping a nail. Scratch that- Kaminari would never be so composed. 

 

“The future seems to be taking its sweet fucking time.”

 

It comes out more resentful than he appreciated, and Todoroki stops, tapping at his wrist. “Hey. They’re doing their best. It won’t be long now.”

 

“How do you know that?” Katsuki snaps, finally, most definitely not fuelled by the fact he wishes he could do something other than just sit around like an asshole and watch his classmate perish- “You’re fucking dying, dumbass, maybe stop being so happy to accept that someone else is going to fix this shit!”

 

Todoroki watches him for a second, Katsuki ready to drop his bag and swing if he so much as blinks at him wrong, but all he does is close his eyes for a moment. They are sickly bright when he opens them again. 

 

“Look. Do you trust Todoroki?” 

 

“The fuck does-“

 

“I don’t mean in some deep sense. Not even necessarily with yourself. But do you trust Todoroki to do the right thing?” His mismatched eyes are calm as they survey him. 

 

Katsuki exhales angrily, calms himself. He does, obviously. It comes almost too quickly, the affirmative. For all his many faults, Todoroki is a rival of his for good reason. Whatever issues Katsuki has with him do not concern his motivations- he knows the bastard will stop at nothing to do what is right, regardless of personal qualms. He has first-hand experience, after all- remembers uncomfortably what he’d looked like with his arm desperately outstretched, trying to steal Katsuki out of the arms of the League as Dabi murmured amused greetings at him. If Todoroki is mostly intact, wherever he is, undoubtedly he will be trying his hardest to make things right. 

 

Unwilling to communicate any of this, he only grunts, looking sideways. Todoroki doesn’t press the issue, only spreads his hands in explanation.

 

“Well, I trust you to do the same. Between the two of us, then, I expect we’ll manage.”

 

It’s a stupid fucking answer, but Katsuki takes it. They head to the lunch hall in silence.

 

What are you supposed to do when you find yourself at lunch with your most heinous school-yard rival when said guy in fact has a decade on you and comes from a time when distant disdain has apparently been replaced by something you would rather cut your own vocal chords out than say aloud? Katsuki’s parents were never ones for constant life advice, or if they were he’s ignored them, but he’s sure as fuck never had any tips on how to deal with this particular brand of excruciating torment. 

 

Up until this point there’s been a reason to talk to Todoroki. Confronting him about his weird behaviour, then mission-talk, which has been their most reliable conversational tool for longer than just this weird week- intermittently, the sort of snappy back and forth he’s sort of kind of used to with Todoroki anyways. But this is different. 

 

Contrary to popular belief, Katsuki is accommodating as fuck. He’s perfectly goddamn capable of playing cooperative when it’s necessary- can converse as much as is necessary if it’s in the interests of something else than inane socialising. So everything this week has been consistent, fine, safe. Today, though, and maybe tomorrow, and maybe the day after that, there is no reason to tolerate this imposition on his alone time any longer. Their quest has ended, unresolved, and if Katsuki didn’t begrudge him the previous night’s conversation, his limits are being stretched now. 

 

The training thing was acceptable. Todoroki stalked him, and he wasn’t much of a disturbance. Lunch together with no justification, though, that’s just a fucking inconvenience. A little companionable event, right. 

 

The only thing worse than stomaching more of this aimless companionship would be telling Todoroki any of this, Katsuki decides, by a slim fucking margin. The guy looks like he might keel over any moment, anyways, and Katsuki’s not quite in the habit of kicking dying puppies with steel-toed boots, no matter the stupid shit that goes around school. His lips are unnaturally red, either because he’s been licking them dry or because he’s been biting them to centre himself. Todoroki’s not one for nervous tics, so it’s about as off-putting as the rest of him. 

 

The notion that Todoroki is sticking to him in his hypothetical last moments rattles him. A fucking selfish thing to do, if that’s what’s happening, he thinks viciously. 

 

“The food here is better than at the office,” Todoroki murmurs, cheek resting heavily against his palm and tone reproachful. “That shouldn’t be allowed.” 

 

 “The food here is mediocre at best,” Katsuki scorns. Todoroki only hums.

 

“Then the food at the office is less than.” He raises his gaze with some effort, though it is placid when it meets Katsuki’s. “Which is outrageous, don’t you think. It’s not like we can’t afford better.” 

 

“We being the office or you personally?”

 

“Both,” Todoroki allows. “Though I meant it in the sense that the office can afford to give its rising stars a decent meal.”

 

He sounds- petty, Katsuki thinks. It’s almost funny. 

 

“You should tell them that when you get back. Emotional compensation or some shit.”

 

“Or some shit,” Todoroki agrees. His eyes slip shut. 

 

Katsuki stabs at his lunch a little too aggressively. He hates illness. He’s never ill himself- injured, sure, always, though rarely seriously, too adept at taking care of himself and too rarely evenly matched. Not ill, though. His metabolism is strong; he burns through disease like he burns through everything else. It’s such a cowardly form of violence, illness- insidious, gradual. Doesn’t give you a fair fight. 

 

“What did you do in class today?” Todoroki asks, like he cares. 

 

“Yeah, fuck off, mom.” 

 

Todoroki’s eyes flicker back open, entertained. “It’s been a while since I was at school. I’m curious.” 

 

“Could have come to class then,” Katsuki retorts, meanly, “Since you’re obviously up to wandering around campus like a ghoul.”

 

“You know the word ghoul?” Todoroki inquires, innocently. “So young?”

 

Fuck you.”

 

They’re quiet for a bit, Katsuki eating and observing Todoroki out of the corner of his eye as the latter barely touches his food. He looks ghoulish, actually, so Katsuki doesn’t appreciate the attitude. 

 

“There’s a lot about the future I wouldn’t have believed at your age,” Todoroki says, eventually, soft and hoarse. It’s hard to make out, but he doesn’t seem bothered to try. “Make sure I don’t do something stupid when I get back, if you can.”

 

“Not my damn problem,” Katsuki scowls, though he’s unsure what the fuck spurred that particular tidbit on. “Also, not my fault if you’re fucking stupid all the time.”

 

“Untrue,” Todoroki says, unfazed. “And I mean it. There’s some- family things. I don’t know what I’ll have found out.” 

 

Todoroki’s family things are the last thing Katsuki wants to know about. “Tell Aizawa, then. I’m not gonna change your mind, unless you’re asking me to beat the shit out of you.” That could be arranged.

 

“It’s a distraction,” Todoroki shrugs, almost thoughtful. “Though I suppose you have a point.”

 

“I swear, if you’re sticking me on babysitting duties because you’re trying to set us up-” Katsuki starts, abruptly incensed, because despite his words he is already envisioning weeks of hawk-eyed supervision in case Todoroki goes berserk. 

 

“Of course not,” Todoroki says, mustering half a reproachful look. “Who do you take me for?” There’s something like a I don’t have to try to set you up on the tip of his tongue, and Katsuki doesn’t have to take that humiliation, so he takes a loud bite out of his prawn cracker to drown out any attempt at speech that may follow.

 

“What-fucking-ever. You have actual friends, anyways, get those extras to look after you. Deku should do the trick.”

 

“I didn’t miss that,” Todoroki starts, probably in reference to the way Katsuki’s entire being curls with disgust when he has to speak Deku’s name into existence, though Katsuki never finds out, because he’s suddenly seizing up, pupils blown out as he convulses. 

 

Katsuki is on his feet before he can formulate a thought, dives in time to grab Todoroki by the shoulders when he collapses forwards and misses impaling himself on the side of the table by a fraction. 

 

Todoroki continues shaking, but it’s only tremors, and they stare at each other, Katsuki’s pulse loud with unreleased adrenaline. Todoroki’s not exactly heavy, compared to literally anything Katsuki hauls around on the daily, but it’s an awkward angle; he’s got one knee bent to brace, and Todoroki’s half-way lifted off the bench, back flush against Katsuki’s chest.

 

Asshole,” Katsuki spits out, because his brain is being uncharacteristically slow with repartee, and he’s distracted by the way Todoroki’s whole body is drawing itself inwards, like he’s making himself small. 

 

“Fuck,” Todoroki breathes, shaky, which is still the weirdest fucking thing in the word, cussing from the resident ice princess. He looks bad, that kind of pain where you literally can’t think straight, consumed. Both of his hands are white-knuckled, clenched towards his chest. “That hurt.”

 

Understatement of the fucking century, Katsuki thinks. Todoroki keeps flaring hot and cold against him, and he’s gone for cold now, ice biting into Katsuki’s chest. 

 

“The fuck is happening?”

 

Todoroki only shakes his head; his one fist unclenches difficultly, hand raised towards his own forehead like he wants to take his temperature, but he yanks it back before it can reach upwards, stiffening abruptly, and this time when he shakes it throws him off the bench entirely, Katsuki falling back urgently to stop him from crashing to the ground. Todoroki keeps shaking, teeth gritted and eyes screwed shut, while Katsuki tries to straighten again, determinedly does not think about the fact he’s got Todoroki basically in his arms, an inch away from falling into his lap. 

 

He’d put him down, but he doesn’t think he can stand, and it seems pointlessly cruel to dump him on the floor or put him back on the bench just so he can fall again. 

 

Todoroki’s shaking slows again, and he exhales a cloud of icy air that makes Katsuki’s hairs stand on end from the proximity, raising clear eyes upwards. His hair is plastered to his forehead, shirt damp with sweat, but he looks aware of his surroundings in a way he hasn’t been all day, even as he makes no move to right himself. 

 

“Thanks,” Todoroki says, almost conversationally; Katsuki abruptly remembers where they are, but when he looks around they’re all but alone, too early for the majority of the students to be crowding the hall. 

 

“Are you-“ Katsuki begins, wanting answers, not wanting this feeling like Todoroki is dying, because it looks like he is, and it sure as fuck as feels like it too, like every shitty ending scene from some trashy movie Kirishima would cry over. Only Todoroki doesn’t let him finish, just closes his eyes, looking serene, which is very bad, enough that Katsuki’s words die in his throat, urgency stealing his voice. This is a joke- Katsuki is not about to watch someone die, not after what watching All Might get shredded on national TV did to him-

 

“You’re sweet, you know that?” Todoroki says, which is maybe worse than if he’d just been dead, especially because of the way he says it, thoughtful, sort of lilting, like he’s fucking with Katsuki but also mostly means it, like this is something he can say. Katsuki will kill him if he doesn’t die, he really will, but Todoroki’s gone rigid again, because he has the worst timing, and this time he knows it’s different, because his quirk flares up on both sides, without any warning.

 

It’s pure instinct, the way Katsuki bites down through the pain, one hand blasting warningly through the ice that spikes out in all directions, the other holding fast as flames burn at his skin. It lasts all of ten seconds, but it’s a hot fucking mess anyways, and he feels more than hears the fire system go off, alarm shrill but not quite relevant as he steadies himself and twists Todoroki roughly to see if he’s-

 

Todoroki is still, malleable, and burning to the touch. 

 

There is not a single sign of life in his demeanour.

 

Katsuki doesn’t flip his shit, because he’s a hero in training, goddamnit, and a good one at that. He stays very still, breathing calm. Waits for the rise and fall of Todoroki’s chest. Calmly shifts so that he can lower his hand to his throat, two singed fingers seeking a pulse. 

 

For one, long, very quiet moment, ruckus distant and ears ringing, he feels nothing. 

 

Then Todoroki takes one long shuddering breath, rushing air into his lungs, and only fails to knock Katsuki over in his frantic thrashing because Katsuki reacts to danger strategically, and has both of his wrists in a steely grip before he can even swallow the nauseating relief rising in his chest.

 

Todoroki’s eyes meet his, wild and disoriented, and he still looks the exact fucking same but Katsuki just knows, before he opens his mouth, that he’s back, that the person he’d caught minutes prior is gone. 

 

“Bakugou?” Todoroki says, only half questioning, blinking fast like he’s dizzy. 

 

Katsuki doesn’t fucking know what to say back. He feels exhausted. 

 

He nods, sharp, aborted. Todoroki’s eyes fall shut for a beat, then open just as fast, remembering himself maybe. He looks very out of it, still, though how much is just the left-over from his body and how much is down to other time-travel bullshit Katsuki can’t begin to guess. 

 

“I’m back,” Todoroki says, though it lilts up uncertainly towards the end, and he brings his eyes up again, searching. “In the right time.”

 

“Sure fucking looks like it,” Katsuki manages, finally. The fire alarm is obnoxiously loud now that he’s paying attention. There is a punched out block of ice by his side, and his one hand is raw, burned in little licks of flame. 

 

Todoroki nods, groggily, and for one horrible second Katsuki suspects he’s about to doze off, but his eyes fly open with far more alertness than he’s displayed in the past few moments, whole body tensing defensively. 

 

“I can-“ He shoves at Katsuki’s hands, trying to break free, kicks a leg out aimlessly to right himself, and Katsuki all but drops him, wanting abruptly to punch through a wall and get as far as humanely possible away from him. “Stand, I can stand, just-“

 

“Fine, god, stand, then,” Katsuki snaps, shoving him further when he stumbles back to his feet. “It’s not my fault you keep fucking passing out-“

 

“I don’t,” Todoroki retorts, though he looks- flustered, is the word, which Katsuki has never seen on him, not even close, and whatever waxy sheen had possessed him has vanished, pink smeared across his cheeks. “That wasn’t even me.” 

 

“Well it sure fucking looked like it,” Katsuki glares, “And I don’t believe you didn’t go around in fainting spells in the future, either, so-“

 

“They weren’t fainting spells,” Todoroki says, and then possibly gets a grip, or maybe realises how ridiculous this argument is, because his stance relaxes somewhat from his fight or flight posture into something more normal, collected. 

 

Katsuki mirrors him unconsciously, falling back so it doesn’t look quite so much like he’s about to punch him in the face. His own face is too warm, and he hasn’t ever had a fight this embarrassing with Todoroki, not this petty bickering. 

 

“How’d you get Ohuro, then?” Katsuki asks, still borderline aggressive but more begrudging than threatening, because he wants to know, actually, and he figures it’s a better idea than throwing Todoroki out of a window or something. 

 

Something surprised flashes through Todoroki’s expression, and his shoulders go less tense, though his expression is still warily neutral, flush aside. “You knew about him.”

 

“Course we fucking knew,” Katsuki scowls. “Your dumbass adult self is the one who kept it all to himself, remember?”

 

Todoroki looks like he might argue, and he has never been so easy to get a rise out of, but he catches himself. “We identified him as a likely culprit and chased him down. There was a fight, but once we had him in custody Hatsume and her crew managed to tweak his quirk so it had more accuracy.” 

 

Hatsume?” Katsuki asks, non-plussed, before narrowing his eyes. “Who’s we, anyways?”

 

“A lot of people,” Todoroki says, frowning, “Though mostly myself and B-“ He bites his tongue, and it comes out a little combative, maybe defensive. “You.”

 

“Right,” Katsuki says, in this weird tone, before shaking himself. “Well, obviously. Bet I did all the work over there, too.”

 

“I don’t even know if I believe that you were of any use here,” Todoroki replies, staunchly. “I’m sure my adult self is more than capable of looking after himself.”

 

“He wasn’t,” Katsuki retorts, which isn’t quite true, “And he wanted my help, asshole.”

 

Actually, he’s pretty sure he wanted his company, and now that Katsuki is remembering this he’s also remembering what other fan-fucking-tastic things he’s learnt the past week, and suddenly he sort of wishes Todoroki had just bit it so that they wouldn’t be having this stare-off. 

 

Does he know? Surely he does- but Todoroki’s an oblivious idiot, and surely it would show if he did. Maybe it does- maybe that’s why he’s looking so on edge, and why Katsuki feels the need to glare so hard at him. Fucking- shit.

 

“Bakugou,” Todoroki says, slow, and it’s striking how toneless he sounds in contrast to his older self, but Katsuki reads it as cautious anyways. “Was I- did I say…”

 

Todoroki definitely fucking knows. 

 

He can’t believe it never occurred to him that once this was all over Todoroki would also know about all of this shit. 

 

“You were fucking weird and annoying,” Katsuki says, glowering, “And got me into so much shit, so you owe me fucking forever.

 

Do I,” Todoroki says, frowning lightly as if to test the truth in this statement. “What for?”

 

“I broke out of school twice, hot-wired your old man’s car, broke into your house, lugged your unconscious ass around town, and am probably gonna get expelled,” Katsuki exclaims, maybe embellishing a little but wholly justified in doing so. “So yeah, you owe me!”

 

It only hits him belatedly that Todoroki must be wondering why the fuck he would ever do any of this shit for him, which is a good fucking question, but before he can backtrack and make this accusatory, Todoroki blinks slowly and looks at him like he’s never seen him before. Katsuki stops dead.

 

“…You stole my father’s car?”

 

“Collective effort,” Katsuki admits, defensively, because he can’t get a read on him. “Wasn’t technically stealing, anyways. We brought it back.”

 

Todoroki looks at him for one long, hard moment, and it’s so much like the expression he has when he’s readying for combat that Katsuki lets him look, waiting on the outcome. 

 

“We fought a major villain together,” Todoroki says, slowly, carefully. “In the future. Plant quirk. She made this massive tree, roots burrowed into the city sewers. She was trying to destroy the Tokyo Observation Deck.” He pauses, thinks. “You punched through the tree.”

 

“What,” Katsuki says, only he doesn’t really feel like starting a fight anymore. “Wait, what?”

 

“I’m about ninety percent sure you and I are the number one and two heroes in the country,” Todoroki pursues, still with that look, and Katsuki’s not a fucking idiot, so he can pick up the invitation even as his blood pounds with abrupt anticipation. 

 

“You know your dad’s security system is completely ineffective on you? He still hasn’t updated it.”

 

Todoroki’s eyes glint; Katsuki pushes on. “Also, your fire quirk is way fucking cooler than your ice quirk.” 

 

“I could use it properly here?”

 

“Said it was ‘rusty’, but,” Katsuki shrugs. “Didn’t look it.” Then, because seriously- “Who’s number one?”

 

“I don’t know,” Todoroki admits. He looks like he sort of wants to roll his eyes but also sort of wants to smile. “Midoriya was abroad, though. I feel like that should be mentioned.”

 

“Of course he fucking was,” Katsuki mutters. “Can’t let me have anything.”

 

Todoroki’s lips twitch, which Katsuki doesn’t trust one bit, but he wipes it away before Katsuki can pounce. “We work in Tokyo. I’m not sure where he does.”

 

“I knew that,” Katsuki retorts, crossing his arms. “You saw a lot of him, right? Since you were all getting wasted together before the switch and all that.”

 

“Oh, right,” Todoroki says, thoughtful. “They mentioned that. I think Midoriya is a bit of a mess when he’s drunk.”

 

Katsuki refuses to ask any further questions in that vein. “Your older self is seriously fucking insane, y’know. We broke out of the infirmary by jumping out of the window.

 

“That sounds,” Todoroki says, pauses. “Unsafe?”

 

“Yeah, no shit.

 

“What’s your father’s name?” Todoroki asks, suddenly, like he’s just recalled this burning fucking question. Katsuki bristles. 

 

“What’s it to you, creep?” 

 

“He made my suit,” Todoroki says, looking wistful. “And I didn’t know his name, so. It felt impolite.”

 

“Wh-“ Katsuki doesn’t want to know. “Masaru.” And then, because it feels weird otherwise: “And the hag is Mitsuki.” 

 

“I see,” Todoroki nods. Then, as if daring Katuski not to accept the information: “My mother’s name is Rei.”

 

“Thanks for the reference,” Katsuki grunts, because it’s not like he’s ever going to meet fucking Rei Todoroki, though he’s not quite as rude about it as he could be, and as the opportunity has presented itself he catches himself clearing his throat. “You have siblings, right?”

 

Todoroki stills imperceptibly, but it’s only a second before he speaks, albeit stiltedly. “Yes. Natsuo is closest to me in age. My sister’s name is Fuyumi. And Touya is-“ He stops, looks uncharacteristically lost for a beat. “He doesn’t- live with us.” 

 

“Right,” Katsuki says, suspiciously, because that sounds like a whole can of worms he didn’t ask to open. 

 

“We should probably tell Aizawa I’m back,” Todoroki says, looking around like he’s only just realised the fire alarm is still blaring. Then his eyes go lower, to the ice, and then to Katuski’s arm. 

 

“You freaked when you came back,” Katsuki says, before Todoroki can even open his mouth, because Todoroki’s expression is carefully blank in a way he doesn’t much like. “It was very embarrassing for you and I haven’t brought it up because I’m fucking pleasant like that.”

 

Todoroki’s jaw is still clenched, but he snorts softly, eyes pulling away from Katsuki’s arm. “I’m sorry.” 

 

“Were you not listening earlier? I don’t want your damn apologies, you owe me,” Katsuki snaps, looking away. “You’re not getting out of that through niceties.”

 

“I wouldn’t have expected there to be anything you’d be interested in from me,” Todoroki replies, back to himself, which would be a relief if ‘himself’ wasn’t so annoying. 

 

“Maybe I just want to be able to get you to shut the fuck up when I want,” Katsuki mutters, darkly. “And to stop stalking me.”

 

“I will not be held accountable for the actions of my other self,” Todoroki replies, primly. “And I doubt I was stalking you.”

 

“Ask literally anyone. You were stalking me, half ’n half. I gotta say, I preferred when the League was doing it.”

 

“You know,” Todoroki says, consideringly, “Your older self actually is quite pleasant. Do you think Ohuro’s available here?”

 

“Excuse me?!”

 

“I’m just saying, I’d rather owe him a favour. I wasn’t even around when you were apparently helping me.”

 

“Well, I’d fucking rather that you weren’t a dumbass who got himself hit by minor villains and didn’t tell anyone about it, but here we are!”

 

“That wasn’t me,” Todoroki says, though it is slightly petulant. 

 

“That was the most in character shit I heard all week,” Katsuki counters. “Don’t even try it.”

 

“Acting out of character isn’t the worst fate you could befall,” Todoroki says, archly. Katsuki sputters. 

 

“That’s fucking rich- you would have preferred that I leave you to die like a bitch, then? That in character enough?”

 

He means it insultingly, but he has an uncomfortable feeling that something distressingly more like hurt than offence has crept into it, because Todoroki’s eyes soften noticeably, maybe guiltily. 

 

“That’s not what I meant.”

 

“I don’t care what you think,” Katsuki snaps back, irritable, but Todoroki doesn’t let up, ducking his head a little to look at him. 

 

“It’s really not what I meant. I only-“ He stops, licks his dry lips absently, meets Katsuki’s unwilling gaze. “Why do you think they get along so easily?”

 

Get along,” Katsuki scoffs, darkly. Todoroki’s cheeks go a brilliant pink again, so Katsuki doesn’t beat himself up too much for saying something so stupid, but his triumph is short-lived, because Todoroki’s eyes flash, and he draws himself a little straighter. 

 

Fine, then. Why do you think they’re able to-?” He only stumbles over it a little, and it’s Katsuki’s turn to feel himself go furiously red, fingers sparking. 

 

“Are we seriously fucking having this discussion? How should I know what the hell they were thinking? Probably just horny and too busy to pick anyone else up, fuck.” 

 

“I don’t think they’re just,” Todoroki starts, then miraculously realises that this is literally the worst conversation they could be having, swallowing and shutting the fuck up. It’s too late, though.

 

“Just what,” Katsuki grits out. At least one of them is literally smoking, and he feels particularly prone to exploding. 

 

Todoroki audibly exhales through his nose. “Just fu- just. Having- relations.” 

 

“Christ,” Katsuki manages, half incoherent with rage. If Todoroki had said fucking he thinks he might honestly have killed them both. 

 

“It-“

 

“Do not speak. Seriously- do not open your goddamn mouth right now.” 

 

Somewhat mutinously but looking all-together relieved, Todoroki shuts up. 

 

Katsuki takes one, two, three very loud breaths, in and out like he’s on some anger management show, curses mentally when he grows aware he’s the one making the smoke, forces his fists to relax. 

 

“We are forgetting we ever heard that shit, and we are never talking about it again. Got it?” 

 

Todoroki looks like he’s seriously thinking about saying no. “I don’t think you can just choose to forget something.” 

 

“Believe me,” Katsuki laughs, mean and somewhat hysterical, thinking of all the profoundly humiliating memories he has beautifully crushed and repressed. “You can.” 

 

“Fine, we won’t talk about it,” Todoroki says, unimpressed. “I think it may have been an alternate universe, anyways. So.”

 

“I don’t care if it’s my destiny-imposed future!” Katsuki exclaims, flinging his hands in the air. “I don’t do shit unless I want to, and I sure as fuck don’t want to do- you!” 

 

It is perhaps unfortunately literal, but they both quite smoothly ignore that.

 

“That’s good,” Todoroki says, after a beat. He looks vaguely serious. “I hadn’t considered self-determination.”

 

“I swear I’m going to kill you,” Katsuki says, though it sounds more exhausted than threatening. He doesn’t catch whatever response he’s about to get, because the fucking fire extinguishers go off at last, water abruptly erupting from the ceiling at an alarming pace. “Motherf-!“

 

“Oh,” Todoroki says, a tad irked if that, and just stands there, letting himself be drenched. Not that it makes half a difference, with his shirt and hair already stuck to him, but Katsuki was dry, and now he’s not, and he hates being unnecessarily wet, god, he hates his life. 

 

The system cuts off loudly, water stopping so suddenly that the whole room feels too quiet. Katsuki is this close to a rage black-out, he really is, except Todoroki touches his shoulder and before Katsuki can kill him he sees the steam rising off his arm, and he stops, exhales loudly, and doesn’t move. Todoroki relaxes a fraction, continues running his hand around Katsuki’s personal space, and it’s- nice of him, whatever, but it dries him off anyways, so he’s not gonna complain. 

 

Todoroki retracts his arm, and Katsuki runs a hand through his hair, not about to say thank you or some shit, stares in disgust at the wet floor. 

 

“This has been the worst week of my life. I want you to know that. I am including my kidnapping experience in that.” 

 

Todoroki looks him up and down, slow, his lashes wet and dark against his cheek. “You are the only person in the world who would use that as a petty trump card.”

 

“Don’t invalidate my trauma,” Katsuki retorts, scrubbing at his face. “Jackass.” 

 

“I really should go see Aizawa now,” Todoroki says. Unperturbed. 

 

“Yeah, fucking obviously,” Katsuki says, and thinks, god, it’s over, this is all done, he never has to speak to Todoroki again.

 

“Uh,” Todoroki says, then, or at least the closest thing to ‘uh’ Shouto Todoroki will ever say in his life. Katsuki cannot help but snap his gaze up. He thinks Todoroki might be rocking back on his heels ever so slightly, which, like. “You should- come too. If you were- involved.” His eyes are inscrutable, almost but not quite the reflective wall they once were, like this excuses the wavering in his voice. “I still have to hear what happened here, too.”

 

“I don’t think you want Aizawa to hear half of the shit that went down here,” Katsuki scoffs, snidely, though it sounds far too willing too his own ears. He needs to get a grip. Todoroki is a moron but also not deaf. 

 

“No, probably not,” Todoroki says, gamely meeting his glare. “So- maybe afterwards.” 

 

Katsuki doesn’t not want that, exactly, because number one hero in the country, but still, this is all a little too easy, and he is nothing if not contrary. He sets his jaw. 

 

“I thought you weren’t stalking me.”

 

“Look,” Todoroki sighs, “I really want to hear about the car.” 

 

And, well. Katsuki’s only fucking human. He can’t help it if his lips curl not quite threateningly in Todoroki’s general direction. 

 

Fine. Add it to the never-ending list of favours you owe me.” 

 

“I think you’re getting more out of this than I am,” Todoroki refutes, lofty as can be. Katsuki can’t believe how much less annoying he was just minutes ago. “I had the whole future at my disposition. You only had me, and I wasn’t even physically different.” 

 

Hah? Don’t give me that shit, icyhot! You’re the one who started this whole mess!”

 

Todoroki stares at him for a moment, with this expression like he’s said something weird, which he hasn’t. Righteous indignation is a par of the course Katsuki emotion. 

 

“Actually,” Todoroki says, gradual and calculating, though still with that half-incredulous look to him, “I will owe you whatever you want if you cook me dinner.”

 

Katsuki is so overcome with indignant rage that he simmers right back into calm, and he peers at Todoroki lifelessly. “Are you concussed? Is that it? Did the travel permanently deprive you of your major brain functions?” 

 

“No, your food is just really good,” Todoroki states, with more conviction than Katsuki has heard him use, like, ever. “There is honestly not much I wouldn’t do for it.”

 

What the fuck is he even supposed to do with that? 

 

“You- I cooked for you?” 

 

“Daily,” Todoroki sighs, and his face goes- soft, lacking its frigidity, somehow reminiscent of the fucking illusion Camie had pulled out. Katsuki wants to kill him. “I think mostly you just wanted me out of the kitchen.”

 

That, Katsuki can believe. “I’m not cooking for you in this lifetime, you delusional fuck, so you’ll have to get used to insta-noodles again.” 

 

For a moment Todoroki looks comically dejected, like genuinely shattered, but Katsuki never gets to savour putting people down anymore, and so obviously the bastard recovers quick as anything, eyes glinting challengingly. “All right.”

 

Katsuki wasn’t born yesterday, so he squints at him suspiciously, and sure enough, Todoroki looks away, impassive. “I expect it’s the sort of thing you get better at with age, anyways.”

 

Katsuki throws him into a wall hard, water splashing at their feet as he fists his hand in Todoroki’s absolutely wrecked shirt, and Todoroki takes the hit, eyes inquisitive more than anything as Katsuki heaves with the effort of not reverting to his middle school methods of getting people to stop getting on his nerves. He’s not going to pummel him, he’s not, it’s just because he’s going to give in and it’s unfair that Todoroki knows this. 

 

“I’ll do it this once,” Katsuki spits, “Because of your shitty bait, but I swear to god, Todoroki, you’re on thin fucking ice.” 

 

“Okay,” Todoroki says, easily, and Katsuki releases him before he strangles him, or worse, starts forgetting how pissed off he is because he’s distracted by the fact Todoroki’s face is still tinged with colour and it’s making it evident that he has freckles.

 

They stand there for a minute, facing opposite directions. Katsuki feels uprooted, like nothing is going the way he’d planned; he’s still a little damp, and his arm hurts distantly, and his whole chest is tight with suppressed emotion; there’s a headache pounding behind his eyes. 

 

Shit, whatever. Whatever. It’s just Todoroki, and it’s just food. He can take one more day of this bullshit before things go back to normal. 

 

Todoroki starts when he snaps his fingers, confirming Katsuki’s suspicion that he was angsting about his burnt arm like the predictable moron he is, though he betrays nothing but mild reproach when he looks up.

 

“Aizawa. I want this over with before afternoon class starts.” 

 

They exit the cafeteria to find half of the lunch queue staring in their direction, because of course once the fire alarm had gone off the lunch service had been delayed, and they seem to only have re-entered the building post downpour, disgruntled and hungry. 

 

Dead silence reigns for a heartbeat, and Katsuki watches pieces click into place, because they’re still slightly wet, and Todoroki’s shirt has been yanked completely askew, and Katsuki’s hair is an unnatural mess, and they both look slightly punched-out, so that’s fucking swell, because the first years one hundred percent believe they’re fucking now. 

 

Todoroki exhales lowly, and for one beautiful moment their eyes meet with rare understanding. When Todoroki fixes the crowd it is with that most punchable of faces, cold like an Arctic winter, visible blue eye cuttingly distant, posture screaming that he considers himself above every single person in the room and if they twitch closer he’s going to show them why. Katsuki, obligingly, hunches into the slightly feral and unhinged stance he typically assumes when Deku is challenging him on something, hands sparking ominously. 

 

“The fuck are you looking at?”

Someone honest-to-god screams; the whole group of little dumbass extras cowers back like Katsuki has emerged with the whole League hot on his heels and not just some idiot pretty boy who can’t cook and doesn’t understand his own fucking quirk. 

 

“One word of this,” Katsuki warns, as they make their way through the meekly parted crowd, and is met by frantic nods. Not that it’ll last, not really, not in a school like UA where everyone thinks they’re hot shit, but it’ll save him a day, a week, a month, if he’s lucky. 

 

They proceed in peaceful silence to Aizawa’s office, and Katsuki relaxes, losing the edge, thinks absently of what he’s going to cook for dinner, because if Todoroki is going to force him to cook he’s going to cook some shit that’ll blow his mind to the future and back. 

 

Todoroki makes a little sound, and Katsuki scowls immediately, wary, finds nothing amusing in their surroundings. “What?”

 

“Nothing,” Todoroki retorts, thoroughly unaffected by the tone, and there is something really terrible about the way the corner of his lips twitches as he looks away. “It’s good to be home.”

 

Katsuki, stomach sinking, has the distinct impression that things are not going back to normal.

 

Chapter Text

Shouto’s eyes are shut for anything between a second and a lifetime, but before he even opens them he is struck with the secure knowledge that what he will see when he does won’t be the poorly disguised panic of the teenager whose face he has grown used to once more across the past few days. 

 

He exhales, a tentative fluttering thing.

 

He feels more alive than he has all week, which is probably a good sign. Someone is holding him still, but he is no longer awkwardly braced between the floor and Katsuki’s chest, instead propped upright by a solid arm around his shoulders. 

 

When he blinks groggily against the glare of laboratory lights, he can already feel his lips quirking upwards. He recognises the hold, is all.

 

Katsuki huffs exasperatedly before Shouto manages to meet his eyes, obviously noticing the change in his expression- his apparent annoyance is heavily undercut by the relief that sits nakedly on his well-known features when Shouto is finally able to focus on his face. He aborts whatever he was going to say when Shouto raises a hand to rest against his cheek fondly. 

 

“Don’t tell me you’re concussed now,” Katsuki settles on, gruff, his red eyes intently searching as they examine Shouto, like he can find some sign of wrong just by glaring at him. It’s a comfortingly familiar expression; Shouto’s fingers twitch lightly against his face.

 

“I missed you too.”

 

Katsuki’s eyes snap back to his as he scowls winningly, belied atrociously by the colour spreading high across his cheeks. Shouto only smiles. 

 

“Pro-Hero Shouto-san?” someone calls sheepishly, Shouto noting disinterestedly and somewhat belatedly that they appear to be in the police headquarters and that there are an odd dozen of people watching them. It’s not that he couldn’t tell there were people there; it’s just that he didn’t really care. He still doesn’t, actually. 

 

“Just Todoroki is fine.” 

 

“Do you mind if we run some tests to-“

 

“It’s him,” Katsuki interrupts, glowering. “We’ve been in this shithole for sixteen fucking hours. Over my dead body are you keeping us any longer.” 

 

Shouto, quite pleasantly, nods in agreement, though his pleasant expression slips entirely when he meets the eyes of the terrified looking man in the chair nearby. Ohuro quivers. 

 

“The prisoner has complied with our requests,” the Commissioner says, somewhat warningly, as if Shouto’s really about to jump the guy when he’s strapped to a chair and looks on the verge of tears. Her eyes flicker to Katsuki. “As Ground Zero-san can confirm.”

 

“I’m sure he was guilt-ridden enough to hand himself over to the forces of law, too,” Shouto mumbles, sarcastic. It’s funny just how ordinary and sallow the man looks. Appearances are deceiving, and all that. It’s a lesson Shouto learned early on at UA. 

 

A man he can only assume to be Ohuro’s lawyer clears his throat, inclining his head towards Shouto. “If you have nothing further to ask of my client, I would request that he be removed to custody. He needs to rest before we proceed to prolonged interrogation.”

 

“Yes, well,” the Commissioner nods, eyeing Shouto. “I suspect we could all do with some rest. Shouto-san?” 

 

“I have nothing to say to him,” Shouto says, lightly. With appreciated ease, he moves to stand; Katsuki follows, sending a withering glare Ohuro’s way.

 

“See you in court, asshole.”

 

“Thank you for everything,” Shouto recites politely, meeting Hatsume’s eyes with somewhat more sincere gratitude. “If you think tests are necessary, I will stop by as soon as I can, but I would like to go home now.” 

 

“Oh, go on,” Hatsume groans, albeit cheerily. “It’s good having you back, Todoroki.” 

 

They don’t dawdle once they’re out of the room, Katsuki only pausing to pick up some of their things from a waiting room. Now that he’s not in close proximity to his face, Shouto is free to admire the rest of him- the gala would have been the night prior, he thinks, and this explains the suit trousers and devilishly fitted shirt Katsuki is wearing. 

 

“Stop staring,” Katsuki warns, without looking at him; Shouto snorts. 

 

“I’ve been stranded amongst teenagers for a week. You’re a sight for sore eyes, as they say.”

 

Katsuki cuts him a glance, almost coquettish if it weren’t for the pull of his mouth. “And whose fault was that?” 

 

Ah, there it is. Shouto stops walking, eyes him carefully. “Katsuki…”

 

“Don’t,” Katsuki stops, harsh despite his low tone. When he faces him his expression is hard to decipher, and Shouto’s stomach clenches with nerves he rarely feels. He has changed a great deal from the child who struggled to distinguish one emotion from the other, and there is little of Katsuki’s face he is not profoundly well-acquainted with. To meet his eyes and not know what he is feeling is frightening in an unspeakable way. 

 

Never do something so stupid again. I am beyond furious,” Katsuki says, and his voice is hard and certain but not violent, which makes Shouto’s fingers tremble lightly. The blonde’s eyes are flame-bright with controlled emotion. “If you ever- ever- hide something from- if you ever keep something like this a secret-“ 

 

He cuts himself off like he can’t quite muster finishing the threat his sentence holds, fists tight, and Shouto half-wishes he’d just punched him instead, the nauseating guilt he’d been hit with the moment he’d woken up in the past reaching new dimensions in his chest. His lips move silently once, twice, before his voice comes back to life.

 

“I know. I know. I just hate to worry you for no-”

 

“Damnit, Shouto! I know that! You know I know that!” Katsuki snaps, at last, eyes blazing and hands sparking. He inhales sharply, gestures broadly. “How many fights did we have about this? You know how fucking hard it is for me to tell you about this shit!”

 

“I do,” Shouto murmurs, because he does. It had taken them years of frustrations, screaming matches, avoidable miscommunications, and excruciatingly halting dialogue to agree that as their welfare was of mutual importance to one another, they had to make the effort to inform the other when something was wrong. If there’s one person in the world to whom opening up about anything resembling weakness is a more arduous task than Shouto, it’s Katsuki. 

 

“And I tell you,” Katsuki continues, “Even when it’s some petty trivial shit, because we agreed-“ 

 

He falters, gesticulating, and for a moment Shouto can see the exhaustion on him, in the taut lines of his shoulders, the purple under his eyes. In his time back at UA Shouto had slept fitfully, missing home, feverish more often than not, and in the late hours of the night his mind had thought of nothing but the blank fear that he was trapped in the past, his life lost to him. I thought I’d lost you, he’d almost said, upon awakening. So too for Katsuki, who is drained and furious and palpably relieved beyond words, and whom Shouto cares for to a frightening degree.

 

“I know,” Shouto repeats, overwhelmed with repentance and a shaky sort of affection. “I’m sorry. It seemed so stupid, that something serious might have come from a fleeing on-looker. And Izuku was coming, and I didn’t want to…”

 

Katsuki isn’t looking at him when he trails off. His throat works. “You looked at his file.”

 

“I was going to tell you,” Shouto sighs, suddenly bone-tired, scrubbing at his face. “First thing come Sunday. I just never got the chance.” 

 

He has more to offer, expects to follow up, but instead he finds himself staring helplessly at Katsuki, and somehow the latter’s expression shifts, breaks, and the anger seeps out, until he just looks like the tired twenty-something that he is, less of the national hallmark of heroics and more like the person who kicks Shouto in the shins when he doesn’t want to stand taller to kiss him. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Shouto says again, before anything else can be said. “I was-“ 

 

“Bad timing,” Katsuki retorts, flat, rubs at his shoulder. He looks like he’s been in a fight recently, something notable, Shouto notes, with a beat of alarm, because he holds himself just a little too carefully. “Any other day no one would have given a shit. I know you wouldn’t normally-“ 

 

Their eyes meet for a second, Katsuki uncannily fragile through the moodswings. 

 

“I just,” Katsuki says, quiet, just about managing to look at him. “I was-“

 

This is worse punishment than anger, Shouto thinks, helplessly, because his chest feels skewered. He is unable not to show whatever tumultuousness is reflected on his face, nor can he stop himself from grabbing Katsuki’s hands in his own, throat working. 

 

“I know.”

 

His voice wavers, unfamiliar to his own ears, as Katsuki grimaces and looks down, fingers clenching around his despite themselves. “I also- I know, I- it won’t happen again, I promise you.”

 

“Fuck you,” Katsuki says, fiercely, and shakes his hands loose to wrap around Shouto’s back and reel him in, tight like a restraint, chin pressed firmly into his shoulder. Shouto goes easy, folds into it, his own hands gripping tightly onto his shoulders. “Fucking- you stay right here from now on, you hear me?” 

 

Shouto nods, mutely. He has, over the years, befriended a lot of huggers. Tenya is the solid, paternal kind, who claps you on the back, braces your frame; Uraraka hugs like she can imbue you with her own affection, warm and staunch. Izuku holds so tight it feels like he’s trying to keep you out of reach from the rest of the world. Inasa always lifts you off the ground. Katsuki, though, is as far from a hugger as you can get; only Shouto has him beat, by sheer virtue of the number of times he’s stood stiffly unmoving while someone crushed him to them. 

 

When he does deign lower himself to it, though, he’s by far Shouto’s preferred choice. Katsuki doesn’t so much hug as hold, and he doesn’t hold anyone but Shouto on the regular, which he only ever does like this- with the apparent intent to consume him whole, a dynamite anchor for Shouto to sink into, deft and deadly fingers curled safely into his nape. 

 

Shouto has been weak all week, fainting and falling and generally behaving like the deutragonist of a Brontë novel, but only now does he allow himself a moment to feel it, just for a second. He presses his face into Katsuki’s hair, smells gunpowder and cinnamon and citrus, only barely manages to keep his knees from buckling. 

 

It has been beyond bizarre spending a week in isolation with only the former selves of his ex-classmates to keep him company. It had made the ordeal somewhat worse, he thinks, in fact, to be unable to speak to anyone even while surrounded by painfully familiar faces. Shouto hadn’t thought he’d forgotten what they used to look like, but he’d found it incredibly hard to stomach just how young they looked. Katsuki in particular- so small, such big reproachful eyes, his cheeks still childishly round. Shouto has no particular affinity for children, and mostly lacks the usual instincts associated with them, but being around the teenagers had set him on edge. Children, all of them, still- so fragile. So much ahead of them. 

 

He thinks he sags a little harder than anticipated, because Katsuki shifts to counter it, with the same purposefulness as parrying a blow. 

 

They’re not often so open with their displays of affection, even now. Especially not out of the house. It’s nice, though, really, and Shouto’s not one for embarrassment, particularly, so he turns his face a little, kisses the side of Katsuki’s forehead. 

 

“Thank you. For getting me back. And looking after the other one.” 

 

“Wasn’t out of the kindness of my heart,” Katsuki scorns, pushing away, though his hands stay where they are, and his frown has eased. Shouto smiles at him with just a hint of sarcasm. 

 

“Of course not.” 

 

Katsuki snorts, softening more. “I owed you one from last time. That’s all.”

 

“Ah, well. I owed you from the time before that,” Shouto shoots back, raising his brows, which makes them both smile. Many moons ago, when Katsuki still looked a lot like the kid who’d very reluctantly babysat Shouto all week, that’s how their friendship had blossomed- one owed rescue after the other, turned to increasingly frivolous favours, then the sudden realisation they didn’t really have any need for excuses to spend time together anymore. 

 

“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Katsuki gestures, pushing back a little further now, looking more like himself. “Home?”

 

“No place I’d rather be,” Shouto says, simply, which is true, so he doesn’t know why he gets such a heated glare for it. 

 

For once, Katsuki’s infamously stingy (quote: ‘practical’) mindset doesn’t force them into the crowded Tokyo underground, because Shouto manages to wheedle his way into using the (horrible) gold-level credit card his father’s bank gave him to get an Uber home. Katsuki, as a rule, hates the entire concept of Ubers, but then Shouto is the only one who recalls their prior journey in one, so he wins the argument fairly easily.

 

It’s in both of their natures to scrutinise, but Katsuki (perhaps surprisingly) is better at doing so without being noticed, so when he catches him looking as they wait, he knows it’s pointed.

 

“What?”

 

The frown is back. “How are you feeling?” 

 

Shouto thinks, shrugs lightly. “Good. Surprisingly, actually. I feel righted.” He considers the sky. “I don’t know how things were here, but I was ill all week, and I think it was mostly displacement.” 

 

“You were ill here too,” Katsuki nods, shifting. “Though I assumed it would be worse on your end.”

 

“A sensible assumption.” He can feel his smile turn teasing. “You were very ill-equipped to handle it.”

 

Katsuki groans, irritable, pushes at his shoulder. “I don’t want to hear anything about that little shit.” 


“I can’t believe I ever thought you were hard to read,” Shouto continues, happily. “Never have I seen anyone so transparent.”

 

“Oh, shut the fuck up,” Katsuki snipes, crossing his arms. “You should have seen yourself this week.” 

 

“I half wish I had,” Shouto says, thoughtfully. For all his bolster he’s sure Katsuki was nicer to the kid than Shouto was. “I suppose I dealt poorly with some aspects of the future?” 

 

“Despite my best efforts, yeah. You’re a nosy fucker. At least you’re pretty dense, too. Took you a while to figure anything out.” 

 

Shouto pulls a face. “I suppose I could have tried to be more discrete at UA. You figured me out quite quickly.” 

 

“Yeah, but I’m a sensible fucking person,” Katsuki snorts, ignoring the flat look he gets. “We’re talking about the genius who thought Deku was All Might’s love child. It somehow took you most of the week to figure out we were dating.” 

 

“Oh,” Shouto says, and he must sound more put out than he feels because Katsuki laughs, not so meanly. 

 

“Exactly. And you blame me for how long it took us to get together.” 

 

“Because it was your fault,” Shouto retorts, impassive again. He continues unperturbed as Katsuki bristles indignantly. “I was the one who made the first move, after all. And to ask you to move in. If you’d stopped being in denial sooner it wouldn’t have taken us long at all.” 

 

“You thought we were ‘friends with benefits’ when we’d been exclusive for three months! How the hell was I supposed to know you were that stupid?” 

 

“It’s not like you made it obvious,” Shouto sniffs. “If I recall correctly, I attempted to clarify things on several occasions, and you either took offence or threatened to evict me. Also, even when we did get there, you’re the one who kept picking fights with me to try and get me to break up with you.” 

 

Katsuki flushes spectacularly, as he does whenever this old barb is thrown around. “Don’t put that shit out of context- was a perfectly fucking reasonable response.” 

 

Shouto exercises the one talent his father has passed down to him, a slow, incredibly insulting eyebrow raise. 

 

“Oh, fine, get that look off your face,” Katsuki gripes. “Somewhat unreasonable. You know why I was doing it.”

 

“I do,” Shouto relents, and is saved from having to concede any further ground by the appearance of the Uber. Amusingly, it’s a garish red card blasting music. Something about the dreaded Endeavour card just seems to attract douchebags. 

 

Katsuki yanks the door open as soon as the car is within reach. “I hear one sound other than my own damn breathing and I’m accidentally forgetting to rescue you next time some anti-capitalist vigilante tries to blow this piece of shit up, understood?”

 

The radio cuts. Their drive is blissfully silent. 

 

“I’m surprised you don’t have more questions,” Shouto comments, once their driver has shakily sped off from the street. “I certainly do.”

 

“Then why not ask them?” Katsuki retorts, keys jangling as he swipes them into the apartment. 

 

“I thought given my recent failure of judgment I would let you take the lead in deciding when was appropriate to discuss this week’s events.”

 

“Appreciated,” Katsuki says, the sincerity of which Shouto doubts somewhat, “But you’ll have to wait a while then.”

 

“Aren’t you curious?” 

 

They stop dead at the foot of the stairs, Katsuki pulling himself up to better look him in the eye. Much to his eternal grievance, Shouto still stands as one of the tallest of their circle of acquaintance, and Katsuki does not. Still, his height disadvantage is perfectly adequately compensated for by everything else about him, though Shouto would not be so foolish as to actually tell him this. In any event, the glower does a lot of the legwork for him.

 

“Shouto. I have spent the past week going on anything from six to no hours of sleep, to keep me in shape for days that included a city-wrecking brawl against some manic tree bitch and a fucking gala, not to mention yesterday’s pathetic villain chase. I had to sleep on the couch for half of it. I want to go to bed.” 

 

“You took the couch? Our couch?”

 

“Of fucking course I want to hear all the grizzly details of whatever the fuck went on in side B of this fiasco, not least what actually happened with Ohuro, but you’re here now,” Katsuki steamrolls on, ignoring Shouto’s vaguely awed horror at the fact he willingly slept on the horrendous torture instrument they call a couch. “We can talk about it whenever.” 

 

It is, as always, a clever admission of things he is not so eager to say outright; that Shouto is here now, and Katsuki no longer feels the need to forego all of his careful routines and self-maintenance regimes, no longer has to focus all of his energies on retrieving him. 

 

More than two decades into his life, and Shouto still finds it hard to understand, sometimes, that anyone can care so much about his presence in their life. 

 

He watches him in pondering silence as they climb the stairs, nods to himself when they reach their door. Rest would be welcome, even if he doubts they’ll sleep: Katsuki is not a day-sleeper, and Shouto usually turns insomniac after prolonged periods of illness-induced naps. Still, a lie-down on something else than his high-school dorm bed would be divine, and once Katsuki’s gotten out of his overnight clothes and accepted his return, he’ll be liable to talk, anyways. 

 

“Okay,” Shouto says, out loud, maybe somewhat belatedly; it’s not like Katsuki won’t understand, considering he hasn’t replied to his last tirade. He’s gotten used to Shouto’s off-beat conversational routes, though he’ll deny it in his pettier moods. 

 

“Quit talking to yourself,” Katsuki mutters, shouldering the door open and waiting for him to go in. Shouto complies, eyes trailing over the welcome sight of their apartment, though he stops when Katsuki turns to lock the door. When he turns around again his eyes narrow at their proximity. “What?”

 

“Okay,” Shouto repeats, enjoys the frame of his lashes and the ruffled gold of his hair. Katsuki has the reflexes of a wild animal- it’s only unspoken trust that stops him from throwing him into the nearest flat surface when Shouto crowds him against the door. “I just need to do this first.” 

 

In a delightfully predictable move, Katsuki goes to protest, and Shouto takes the dive: cups his face in both hands and kisses the living daylights out of him. 

 

It’s perhaps a slightly worrying sign of just how co-dependent they really are that he feels like a desert wanderer tasting fresh water for the first time in months, but his definition of normalcy has long been warped into incomprehension, and this must be a lesser evil, he thinks, or not one at all. Katsuki’s skin is comfortingly blistering and he tastes bittersweet; the sound he makes is like coming home. 

 

Of course, life wouldn’t make sense without Katsuki being the most impossible creature alive, so barely a second passes (all right, a minute- maybe five) before Katsuki sparks him warningly right in the thigh. Shouto falls back with a wounded noise, expression perfectly blank with bewildered innocence, maybe belied by whatever’s showing in his eyes, because Katsuki sends a dirty look his way. 

 

Sleep, I said.”

 

“All right,” Shouto says, helpful as can be, raises both hands in a mea culpa gesture, which fails to land, because Katsuki just instinctively punches his open palms, hard. Fair enough, really. It’s usually an invitation to spar. “I would say I needed to get it out of my system first, but that would be patently untrue, as I don’t feel any more inclined to sleeping now that it’s over with.”

 

“You never get it out of your system,” Katsuki smirks, as Shouto rolls his eyes. “I almost miss your teenager years. So chaste.” 

 

“Just repressed,” Shouto corrects, slipping out of his shoes and into the kitchen. “Don’t you recall the summer after UA?”

 

“You can’t eat anything right now,” Katsuki calls after him reproachfully, placing a glass of water in his hand and hooking an arm around his waist to haul him backwards. “Self-control, damnit. How are you a pro-hero again?”

 

“My stunning good looks and winsome personality,” Shouto responds, letting himself be dragged. “You know, I’ve been weakened a lot by this past week. I don’t know if my legs will carry me across the apartment.”

 

“Seemed to work just fine when you jumped me,” Katsuki mutters, though he shifts obligingly to pick him up in a fireman’s hold, Shouto throwing an arm loosely around his shoulders. “Lazy asshole.”

 

Shouto, smugly, sips his water in silence. 

 

Changing is a rapid affair, years of hero-work serving them well; Shouto hangs their suits carefully before falling heavily onto the bed with a satisfied groan. 

 

“If this apartment is ever under attack, I want you to know I am saving this bed first.”

 

“Well, shit, I’m saving you last,” Katsuki calls back from the bathroom, from which he emerges clean and in his workout clothes. “That kitchenware cost me a solid month’s intern salary. And the hag would kill me herself if I lost the wardrobe.” 

 

“Even after the sofa?” Shouto inquires, mock-inquisitive.

 

Katsuki waves a dismissive hand. “That piece of shit is impervious to attacks. I’d like to see anyone try to destroy it.” 

 

“I take your point,” Shouto snorts, feels around his bedside table for a hairband. He finds it after a bit of blind groping. “In any event, I doubt it would come to that. The neighbours downstairs would probably eviscerate any potential villain who dared intervene with their prized balcony garden.“

 

“Don’t fucking get me started,” Katsuki groans, glaring meaningfully at the floor. “If I have to hear one more invitation to their damn- what is it even? Esoteric spiritual herbology-“

 

“Esoteric and holistic spiritual slash soul-healing herbalistic science conference,” Shouto recites dutifully, cool facade breaking at the look on the blonde’s face. 

 

“We have to evict them. I don’t care how. Accuse them of growing weed. Actually grow weed in their garden. God, I hate being rich,” Katsuki grouses, through Shouto’s bouts of suppressed laughter. “We could still escape, you know. Donate everything to charity. Move into a shitty two bedroom-flat in Kyoto and commute.”

 

“We already donate immense amounts, Katsuki,” Shouto reminds him, hair now firmly out of his eyes. “And you would hate living outside of Tokyo. You call everyone from outside of centre-town a tourist. Last time we visited your parents you called your cousin a country-bumpkin.” 

 

“I stand by that,” Katsuki answers, raising his brows, though he’s smiling, now. “Inside Tokyo, then. We could live somewhere really shitty, like in the broke student areas.”

 

“You would also hate that. Remember when you lived with Eijirou and Denki for a year?”

 

“A year and a half,” Katsuki corrects darkly. “Of hell.” 

 

“You’re so dramatic.”

 

“You lived with Momo and Tenya,” Katsuki throws back, shutting the wardrobe and pulling the curtain, “Which is in no way comparable to the fucking horrors of living with those two. Décor alone could have put me in therapy. Don’t pretend you don’t remember the time you lot were there for a party and Iida had to be sick on the way in.”

 

“Largely because he’d been compelled to drink far too much by myself and Momo,” Shouto replies, lips twitching. “Though upon recollection I will concede your point about the disorganisation, because I remember finding a fully-grown mushroom farm under the bathroom sink at that party, which Denki assured me was not part of the ‘official’ mushroom farm.” 

 

“I never imagined a day would come wherein I would miss Deku so much,” Katsuki sighs, mournfully. Shouto rolls his eyes.

 

“My living situation was far from ideal, anyways. Momo’s bouts of anxiety resulted in compulsive shopping, so more often than not I would return home to find the staircase somewhere else than I’d last seen it. And I don’t need to explain the Tenya side of things. I love the man, but he is possibly the world’s worst roommate.”

 

“Point,” Katsuki concedes, finally seating himself on his side of the bed. “I wanted to choke him out for half of our UA cohabitation. Remember the time he tried to put me and Deku in the ‘shame corner’?”

 

“Merited,” Shouto says, flat. Katsuki flips him off.

 

“And the time with the ’separation tape’?”

 

“The showers were never the same,” Shouto agrees, wrinkling his nose. “My personal least favourite was the whistle.”

 

“Whoever got him that deserves death.”

 

“I have a Pavlovian aversion to whistles now. I think they trigger my insomnia.”

 

“Good thing you’re the laziest person alive, then,” Katsuki counters, which is a typically ridiculous accusation he only gets away with making because his standards for laziness are so outrageous. He looks young and tired and touchable; Shouto reaches towards him, curls a possessive hand into his t-shirt. 

 

“Come close.”

 

He is at least spared the usual unnecessary bickering over who goes where, as Katsuki only gives him a dirty look before folding easily, even when Shouto drags him contentedly to his chest, pulls him in tight and hooks a leg over him.

 

To this day some of their friends act surprised when they see them at home, like they forget between visits that they’re uncharacteristically tactile with one another. Touch-starved, Shouto would gracefully fail to call himself, though not so much these days. It works well, for them. Shouto has never been afraid of the damage Katsuki’s hands can do, which he thinks is part of the foundation of their relationship. In any event, a silent and powerful longing for skinship exists somewhere within the confines of Shouto’s chest, and when they’re out of sight he likes to act upon it with all of the volatile clinginess of a cat.

 

Katsuki is a furnace, as ever, and sweaty, which Shouto happily counters by cooling himself somewhat. This thing between them crept up on them mostly in silence, so it startles him sometimes just how accustomed he’s become to Katsuki as the most dependable constant in his life, but it had struck him especially hard back at UA, sleeping alone. 

 

Perhaps mercifully, his bouts of illness had succeeded in knocking him out for some period of time, but when the fever had receded he’d laid awake and felt cold. Even someone whose emotional intelligence gets put in question as often as Shouto’s does could figure out that someone with an ice quirk wasn’t likely to be feeling physically cold unless they were suffering what he supposes qualify as withdrawal symptoms. 

 

He restrains himself, of course, from sharing these particular thoughts with Katsuki. Though their powers of communication (and even, god forbid, emotional honesty) have improved leaps and bounds from their high school days, be it with the general populace or each other, there are lines to be drawn. Shouto can’t think that he will ever be in a place where he doesn’t feel like his own emotions are slightly alien to him, but putting them into words is far more torturous. The unbearable ordeal of being known, as it were. 

 

Katsuki’s particular blend of wonderful and excruciating, however, has a sort of sixth sense for the direction Shouto’s inner monologues take, or maybe just a very potent sense for whenever anyone dares think of him as anything other than a fearsome heroic iconoclast. There’s a significant overlap in those two. Whatever it may be, it makes him twist to fix Shouto with a sconrful look. 

 

“You lack subtlety, you know.”

 

“I refuse to be lectured on the topic by King Explosion Murder.”

 

A sullen sparking of fingers near his nape is the only retort the barb gets, a surefire sign of fatigue that makes him ease off even as Katsuki mutters a reply. 

 

“Go to sleep. You’re insufferable.” 

 

“I’ve been sleeping all week. I think I’m too awake for it now.”

 

“No, you’re not. Close your damn eyes.” 

 

Shouto acquiesces, uncommonly docile. The movement makes his cheek brush Katsuki’s forehead, furrowed as always. He’s hardly the more agreeable of the two of them, though this is a common misconception, more unyielding at times than even Katsuki, but he has a mellow streak somewhere deep down, and it kicks in most potently at times like these, in the aftermath of some particular excitement.

 

When Katsuki puts his mind to something, he is lightning-fast in making it happen, and so he is fast asleep within moments of their last exchange, shoulders relaxing and breathing evening out. Shouto, distressingly, feels his own eyes slip shut minutes later, lulled into rest by the unwavering cadence of his nearby heartbeat. It takes him a while to fall asleep, nonetheless, but it overtakes him quite gently, 

 

He dreams of nothing. He doesn’t stir. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Questions:

 

  • How the time-travelling works: In my opinion, it’s an alternate timeline situation; in going back in time Todoroki n Bakugou Sr’s lives split from Todoroki and Bakugou Jr’s, which explains why the older pair don’t recall the switch happening in their own high school time. I honestly didn’t give this much thought, but to the best of my knowledge that’s the usual pseudo-scientific justification behind divergent memories in situations like this, so yeah! Todoroki and Bakugou Sr had a different get-together story. Hell, you could HC that their get-together story was one of my other fics, as some of you have pointed out, lol. 

 

  • Re: agencies: Yeah, I’m aware their agency is like mega-overpowered in comparison to some of the other agencies we know of in canon, lol. Firstly, I would like to say that this makes sense in my mind because I imagine the Tokyo agencies, like all big city firms, tend to have a few very powerful conglomerates rather than a diverse spread of firms (like how, say, London only has a number of ‘golden circle’ law firms which dominate the whole country). Also, I imagine the way their working contracts operate is different than the pros the UA kids know so far; I can buy the sort of hero team format working for some of the other kids, but not so much for the fiercely independent mains we have. So it’d be more freelance work from a communal basis than Pussycat style. I won’t go too in-depth into the particulars of that, haha. I’ll take this opportunity to note that I hate the fact that some UA teachers somehow are also pro-heroes and this is never examined or questioned at all. 

 

  • Dabi: Because all of my fics are just me playing out my own fantasies for canon, Dabi does indeed turn coat when the kids are still, well, kids. He betrays the LoV at some point, likely in connection with Hawks’ efforts, and then operates as a sort of solo vigilante anti-League guy for a bit before he’s finally caught. He gets big time convictions, but his sentences are heavily mitigated by his later actions, and Endeavour exerts his influence to have him get off far more easily than he should, probably because he feels guilty, though none of his kids appreciate the gesture. He and Hawks patch up their friendship via jail visits, and though exactly what they are to each other is always a matter of debate, they are close. His siblings, beyond one very emotional reunion, find things complicated with him. Natsuo, weirdly, is on the best terms with him, because he treats him very matter of factly. Their first conversation was just Natsuo telling him how disappointed he was in him and how bad of a person he was. Their second conversation was him apologising for all the shit he’d been through. Their third conversation was Natsuo providing Touya with chicken nuggets and eating them silently with him. They get along. Fuyumi is obviously far more forgiving, but Touya handles himself very awkwardly around her, so things are still a work in progress with them. Shouto, actually, is very largely responsible for saving his brother from a life-sentence in solitary, but once he’d passionately defended him in court he kind of backed off completely. He understands his brother’s motivations entirely, but also finds it very hard to talk to him without remembering all the terrible things he’s done, not least the direct confrontations they’ve had, which leads to some quiet accusations re: Touya turning out like Enji. They have a ways to go.

 

  • Fuyumi: Shouto and his siblings are actually comparatively tight in the future, because he undergoes growth and decides he would like to have family who he doesn’t eternally associate with trauma and bitterness, even if they are all ill-accustomed to it. This includes working on changing the type of relationship he has with his mother and reconnecting with near-strangers, and doesn’t come easily to him (or them). However, the topic of their father is forever a terse one, and a significant rift is caused when Shouto, destabilised by bad things at work, berates his father on national TV, quite succinctly but blatantly nonetheless. Fuyumi is upset not that he has shared this story but that he didn’t consider how this would affect the other members of the family, namely in her upcoming marriage. Shouto initially refuses to agree that this was a misstep. Hence the strained tone between them resembling more their canon relationship and less what you might expect seven years down the line. They are otherwise quite close, and Fuyumi has met all of Shouto’s friends. 

 

  • What’s the relationship between my fics anyways? Honestly, they’re all standalones- I don’t intend anything to be like a direct sequel to the other; I strive to keep characterisation consistent but beyond that I can imagine the two of them getting together in a number of ways, so. I’d say my most ‘realistic’ take on it (let’s call it the canon shaekspeares-verse lol) would, in fact, be the future! TDBK timeline, because them getting together after UA makes the most sense to me. You can probably tell from my writing, but I can’t see current canon TDBK as a healthy relationship, mostly through Katsuki’s fault (and more broadly the narrative), which is why in my UA-set fic there’s always a shitload of time devoted to Katsuki’s character development, lol. So I’d say post-school makes the most sense to me.

 

  • What’s your take on the future of canon? I do actually think the future seen in this fic is sort of true to canon, at least for my ideal hc version of it. Not the relationships, of course, because LBR the most we’ll get out of BNHA is some Izuku/Ochako endgame, but the dynamics. I think Izuku, Katsuki and Shouto are always going to be cast as the leading three, and I think they will eventually head the leaderboard. They’re just incredibly god-mode heroes, and all three of them are on /improvement/ arcs, so even if someone else exponentially strengthens, they’re still ahead. I also think Izuku would go to the US, like All Might, and probably with the latter as a mentor. I can see Katsuki doing a US route right out of high school before he moves to Tokyo, kind of to test himself away from UA and to push himself not to be so tied to ‘beating’ Izuku et co; I do think he and Izuku would be roomies between these two events. I don’t think all of UA would go on to be pro-heroes per se, and I imagine them very spread out. I’m not sure who I would see them being interns with etc, mostly because we only get a very limited idea of what the pro-hero world looks like in BNHA-world, and I don’t really buy that the trio would end up under the wing of one of the pros we already know; I think they’d start from scratch, minus maybe Izuku and All Might (though I would suggest that Katsuki is just as likely for AM mentoring). As for rankings, I think it varies wildly. The maths behind rankings has always, well, rankled me, so I’m not 100% on the science behind them. I think they all have their strengths; their collective biggest weakness is how destructive their quirks are, though Shouto’s ice is somewhat of an advantage here, and I can see Katsuki being the best at containing his damage eventually. So I don’t know, but as of fic canon Shouto is first and Katsuki is hot on his heels. 

 

For your consideration:

 

  • Izuku & Eijirou: I mentioned in my notes, but I have a lot of v clear thoughts on ot3 and I’ll probably end up writing fic about the ‘in-between’ period where they’d all left high school. I’m 100% that Izuku and Katsuki are roommates during their trainee time, and they move on from their sort of awkward friendship to the life-time friendship they’ll keep developing for the rest of their lives (though in the moment they would not tell you this). This is where Katsuki and Shouto really become friends at all, because Shouto and Izuku are very tight. Once they’ve moved to Tokyo and Izuku leaves for the US, Shouto and Katsuki sort of accidentally become closer because they’re so used to hanging out as a trio by now. Spending time without Izuku as the buffer leads to, well, the relationship they eventually have. Early Tokyo is also where the fun jealousy arcs take place, albeit at different points. Katsuki is intensely jealous of Izuku and Shouto for aaagees, first because he’s insecure in his friendship with Izuku and later because he’s heavily into Shouto and the two of them are very close. Shouto, on the other hand, gets horribly jealous of Eijirou, which he handles poorly because he’s so unused to being jealous of anyone. It’s something Izuku never catches onto except on one occasion, and something Eijirou catches onto almost immediately and finds very funny years later (at the time he tries not to let this show). 

 

  • The stuff the older duo are referencing in their final chapter: I can’t touch on all of this, but both of them call back to some fights they’ve had across the years. In their early days of friendship, particularly when they started working together, they had a lot of very dangerous operations where one or the other got hurt, and the more serious instances always lead to arguments, because Party A would find it impossible to express or really digest that they had been extremely scared and guilty and Party B would heavily reject the idea that someone had to be looking out for them etc. With one memorable occasion landing Katsuki in intensive care after he refused to admit an injury, Shouto’s troubled n confused reaction lead to an explosive reunion that kind of clarified the situation, after which they were a) admitted friends and b) more inclined to be truthful. As for avoidable miscommunications, these majoritarily took place in their weird (and long) ‘what are we’ phase, during which a lot of unnecessary tension and heartache happened long after the obliviousness had died off. Shouto literally had a boyfriend for a time during this period largely because of this, which was as fun for everyone involved as it sounds. Finally, once they had /finally/ actually started dating, their early days were mostly miserable due to both of their carefully acquired inner peace and growth suddenly crumpling in the face of novel insecurity and worries, resulting in a lot of immaturity and Katsuki’s knee-jerk nastiness in the hopes that Shouto would dump him, freeing Katsuki of his fears of rejection while not actually dumping Shouto.

 

  • Sexualities n the state of their relationship: Personally, I see Shouto as gay & Katsuki as pretty equal opportunity when it comes to the physical vs very single-target sexuality when it comes to actual relationships. In any event, the media is something they’re wary of. Not so much that they’re frightened of the consequences really, because they’re both so good at their jobs that they would inevitably still be employed, and worst case scenario they could go abroad, but because they don’t want to be primarily identified by incidental aspects of themselves forever in the national psyche. Most of their close friends know, and their other friends have a vague idea, but beyond them and Katsuki’s parents + Natsuo, no one explicitly knows. One of their bosses and some of their teams know, mostly because they had to tell them before someone else did, and they keep the press under control, but they never really discuss the matter explicitly. It matters to the high-ups because they’re both very lucrative. Shouto and Momo are a national favourite couple, with everyone sort of just expecting them to get married at some point; Katsuki gets shipped with literally everyone. Branding saves them a lot of scrutiny, but as Katsuki likes to point out, if one of them was a woman, they would easily be the most-shipped couple in Japan; ‘ice prince’ versus ‘explosive hero’ just makes good publicity. 

 

  • WHO IS WHAT KIND OF DRUNK: Yeah, yeah, you asked for this. I’m only doing 1-A because I cannot invest any more time or thought into this. Grape man: banned from nights out. Yuga: unsurprisingly, the dramatic drunk, who wails about whatever emotion is crossing their mind, weeps over small things, and proclaims they’re about to die when they feel slightly sick. Mina: boisterous drunk; forever convinced someone is trying to get a raise out of her and thus trying to fight them; takes a million of drunken selfies and gushes over loving her friends. Tsuyu: cannot handle her drink, falls asleep after like a beer. Tenya: also a light-weight, just becomes clumsy and confused, might cry if you tell him he’s doing something wrong. Ochako: Gets tipsy super easily but can drink almost everyone under the table; alternates between being giggly and fun and extremely intense, threatening everyone ‘for their own good’- has floated away on numerous occasions. Mashirao: refuses to drink after the time he got wildly drunk and began a pole-dancing routine with his tail. Denki: guess. Eijirou: The superior drunk, just gets somewhat louder and more inclined to do dumb shit; always somehow coherent enough to help his drunker friends home. Koji: the bipolar drunk, either nursing a drink quietly or suddenly hyper and losing his mind on the dance-floor. Rikido: fun and rowdy until he switches into the mournful drunk, begins crying about how small bees are. Mezo: basically cannot get drunk; designated mom friend. Kyoka: extreme light-weight, which she disguises by drinking very little; when she does get drunk she gets super emotive and excitable, to Denki’s delight. Hanta: chaotic, philosophical drunk, just as likely to tape himself to a stop-sign as he is to begin proclaiming the futility of morality. Fumikage: the cryptid drunk; vanishes ten minutes into a night-out and has to be hunted down again. Toru: unfortunately prone to stripping and causing absolute chaos, but falls asleep very easily. Momo: holds her drink well, but if drunk, begins spilling the tea on literally every person imaginable and encouraging everyone’s bad decisions; if pushed to the limit also starts voicing loud opinions on politics and demanding ‘her song’ be played- if it is, will clear a dance-floor in seconds. Izuku: easily influenced into drunkenness, upon which will start trying to fight everyone and simultaneously gushing about his friends, so basically nothing changes except he’s a lot more mouthy. Katsuki & Shouto are (in their quest to dominate everything they encounter) amongst those best-equipped to handle their alcohol, but once drunk… Katsuki is, to his horror, an affectionate drunk, who starts losing his grip by increasingly touching all of his friends, then begins to go on about how much he likes them and indulging in their stupid requests (he’s also far more smiley, which he loathes). Shouto is a shameless flirt, in that particular brand of overly confident drunk that would be excruciatingly embarrassing if everyone else wasn’t wasted as fuck. The two of them together are a menace, which they discovered on one memorable occasion where they got competitive in their drinking and got heavily pissed, culminating in some really good footage of Shouto using the world’s most shameless pick-up lines on a furiously blushing Katsuki on the verge of tears of laughter. This occasion has had some repeat performances. It’s traumatic for everyone else. [The OG will feature in an upcoming fic, because I love it.]

 

  • What's next in the shaekspeares todobaku portfolio? I have a shitload of fic ideas for these two, but in particular I want to write a fic set in the oft-mentioned in-between, and then I'm not sure- I'd like to do some AU stuff but I lack inspiration for a specific one, so idk. Unfortunately, I've come to really dislike the most popular 'fandom' AUs like coffeeshop/tattoo artist/flowershop owner/popstar/ABO-verse/mermaid/jock-nerd etc, mainly because they're everywhere and people can't write, lmao. So if anyone has some particular and somewhat niche scenario they want to see these two in, feel free to drop it as a suggestion. Anyways, currently, I have (1) in-between canon-verse fic I'm planning, and (1) completely random AU multi-chapter fic that I strangely felt compelled to write overnight and have finished two chapters on already (catch the first one very soon). Please read the latter, it's a very rogue setting and for some reason it's from Izuku's perspective (poor guy is third wheeling hard) but also I love it and it's got a ~fun suspenseful vibe~ you can guess about in the comments lol.