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Fire in the Storm

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The fat drops of rain should have tipped him off to make shelter and hunker down, but Bakugo Katsuki was not scared of a little water. It was his mistake in the end as drops became sheets and the wind howled around him, battering his cloak and the studded leather armor beneath it. He fought to keep his hood pulled over his head as he crossed an open field, nestled somewhere in a valley probably another two days travel from his destination.

“We should travel together,” Deku said with a concerned look on his face despite the snarl Katsuki brandished at him. “Splitting up doesn’t make sense, we’re all heading to the same place. Why does timing matter?”

“Because, you idiot, I want my money and I want to get as far away from you as fucking possible, as soon as possible. We keep moving.” As if to prove a point, Katsuki continued walking down the path away from his party. Deku watched him, Ochako standing just behind Deku, as Tsuyu sat on a rock even further back.

He turned around only when he realized they were serious. Tsuyu looked fine, her leg wrapped. They’d tussled with worse in their travels, and she should fucking buck up and get over it. Anger surged through him as he mumbled a spell and discharged a bolt of searing fire just to the left of Deku. It flew through the air and singed the bark of a tree just off the road.

Deku’s face didn’t shift, didn’t move. It was set with a grim determination that pissed Katsuki off even more. When had he grown a spine? Ever since he learned how to conjure magic, he’d been so fucking confident.

“Well I’m going,” Katsuki barked, ignoring the small voice in the back of his head that said going through the wilds alone just to maintain his sense of pride was stupid.

“Bakugo,” he heard Ochako start, but Deku must have shushed her because he didn’t hear another word from any of them as he tromped through the woods.

Now, he was wet. Soaked to the bone in minutes, skin chilled, body trembling. He’d travelled maybe four hours and knew somewhere behind him his party lagged. He dearly hoped an owlbear would eat them. Stupid fucks. He’d travelled with worse injuries, but they were willing to stop because some new addition to their group of adventurers was a little hurt. Fuck them.

Or, fuck him, apparently, since nature decided to exact revenge for his pride in the form of torrential, unending rain. He only hoped ahead of him, somewhere in the stony outcroppings of a cliff, or a mountain (it was hard to tell because of the fucking RAIN) there would be a cave he could duck into.

His thoughts distracted him, leather boots making squelching sounds as the mud sucked at the heels. He didn’t catch the puddle until his foot plunged into the thick goop of it, ensnaring him. Pitching forward, Katsuki hit the ground with an ‘oof’ and then a string of shouted curses. Fuck the rain, fuck the mud, and fuck nature! Gloved hands struggled to find purchase as any weight he put on any point of his body just made him sink into the gunk all the more. He lifted one hand, drew runes in the air, and expelled a bit of his source magic to make his body light, almost ethereal. Katsuki shuddered as the familiar, but still foreign feeling of being as light as air rolled over him.

It got him out of the mud, though, and he breezed through the torrential rain to a rocky outcropping just as the spell dropped. He cursed again, drained, and pissed he’d had to use that much of his magic to get out of fucking mud. Regardless, he was now on stony, mildly damp ground and pressed close to the cliffside as he walked in what he hoped was the right direction.

After about twenty minutes the rain eased a fraction, but he realized through it that the sun had sunk almost out of view. It was getting dark, and not only dark but the rain obscured his vision all the more. A flame flickered to life in the palm of his hand and barely held on, providing dim light enough to take in his surroundings. There did not appear to be any caves on the ground level where he could access them, but about ten feet ahead, and up off the ground about twenty, was the lip of a cave.

If he could get there, maybe he could wedge himself between the stone and get some rest until the storm passed. He walked closer, extinguished the flame on his palm as he reached up to test handholds. Katsuki ignored any obnoxious worries that came to mind and hoisted himself up. One hand hold and foot hold at a time, he struggled his way up the cliff, annoyed as the rain pounded on his head now that he was out of the cover of low hanging rocks.

The stones were slick, but the mud had sloughed off his boots and his gloves made it easier to grip at it. He eventually hoisted himself up onto the much wider ledge and realized very quickly that there was not merely an outcropping there. No, it was a whole ass cave, or at least a long cavern more than big enough for a human to fit through. Another spark of light in his palm revealed a passageway that went forward and disappeared into the dark again.

He glanced behind him, back at the distant forest a mere shadow now in the rain. A soft gnawing sensation in his chest reminded him that he probably should have stayed back with his party, but there was no time for thoughts like that now. He’d made his choice, now he had to live with it. So he turned and began to creep into the cave, the light in his palm leading the way.

The passageway was relatively dry once he got into the depths of it, and if he looked closely he could swear it was not an entirely natural path. There were long swaths of stone wall that looked smoother than the rest, as if someone had found a natural cave and widened it somehow. Maybe with magic, or maybe something big and tough slithered through the cavern and wore it down over time.

What a pleasant fucking thought. Shit. If he had to fight some big ass snake he was going to be pissed as hell. He was tired and soaked and wanted a space to make a fire and sleep. With a couple muttered words the flame in his palm grew to the size of a small melon, firelight dancing off the uneven walls, casting shadows to and fro. He paused when he realized the passageway up ahead appeared to open up into something else - a cavern, maybe? A cave? He crept forward, fire lighting the way and he paused at the mouth of the opening.

Before him was a large chamber, far larger than his firelight could ever illuminate. He peered up at the rocky ceiling which appeared to have cracks and holes in it, threads of moonlight fighting through the rain and clouds to seep through them. Yet despite the obvious gaps, there was no rain in the cavern. Something must be sealing them, which left Katsuki a bit uneasy. Were they windows? In a cavern? Or perhaps there was magic involved, a thought which put the hairs on the back of his neck on end.

He edged along the wall, keeping his back to it as his eyes swept the cavern for any sign of movement. Everything was still except for a soft dripping sound, and passed that a more curious sound: water lapping against some sort of edge. Was there a pool? Katsuki grimaced, exhausted but driven to ensure his temporary shelter was safe. From where he stood he allowed the flame to once more go out and instead rubbed his palms together, summoning more heat, which he then shot out into the dark.

Streaks of light careened across the cavern and in the flash of it, Katsuki saw the sparkle of crystals on the ceiling, on the walls, and in what appeared to be a large pool of water. It was at least 100 feet across, who knew how deep, and from the few seconds it was illuminated appeared to take up a large portion of the cavern. Katsuki sank back against the wall, sliding to sit on the cold ground as he shrugged off his pack. He had no choice, he had to camp here, and since his firebolts hadn’t appeared to alert any unwelcome guests he supposed it was safe enough.

He yanked a blanket out of his pack, grateful for the enchantment that had been put on it to keep his things dry despite he being very, very wet. Deku had paid for it after their last adventuring gig, insistent that everyone deserved to keep their stuff dry if they were going to keep doing work that required the kind of traveling they had been doing. Stupid fucking Deku.

Walking a few paces away from his things, Katsuki removed his soaked through cloak and draped it across a nearby bolder. He removed his leathers and set them down, too. He would have to suffer through the rest of his wet clothes, but he would deal with the cloak and armor in the morning when he’d recovered some of his magic. For the rest of him, he waved his fingers and cast a spell that propelled most of the mud and some of the water out of his clothes.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was something. He returned to where he left his stuff and dropped onto his knees near his blanket. From his pack he produced silver thread which he used to outline the space he would be sleeping in. Once it was set, he uttered another spell and the thread shimmered and hummed. Hopefully if anyone got close enough to hurt him, he’d at least have a couple seconds of warning to work with.

Grumpy, and steadily growing more weary, he slumped back against the wall and dragged the blanket around his shoulders. He chewed thanklessly on some jerky he kept stashed in his pack as he stared out at the faint ripples of water in the moonlight out ahead of him. Chugging some of the water in his waterskin once he finished the jerky, he pulled the blanket tighter around himself and settled in next to his pack.

Katsuki fell into an uneasy sleep.

An unsettling ringing echoed through his head and dragged him from the depths of a dark dream. He realized a little too late that it was his alarm spell, which meant he was in danger. In a matter of seconds he rushed to his feet, fire crackling in each of the palms of his hand. He stared ahead, ready to blast whatever had come near him, only to pause.

Sunlight now filled the cavern, heralding the morning. He’d actually slept through the night, a testament to how exhausted he was after his use of magic and the long day of travel. His clothes still clung to him uncomfortably, damp but no longer soaked. In front of him, illuminated by beams of sunlight, was a man. He was shirtless, wearing only a pair of loose fitting leather pants cinched at the waist.

Katsuki’s lizard brain unhelpfully pointed out the plains of muscle along the man’s stomach, up his chest, down his arms. It was unreal how strong he looked, his pale skin smooth and mostly unblemished. Slowly, he lifted his gaze to find a pair of bright, curious red eyes set against a handsome face with a strong jaw. His hair was bright red to match his eyes, pulled into spikes atop his head with two in particularly that seemed meant to mimic horns.

Katsuki’s mouth went dry for a moment as the fire in his palms died. The man stood respectfully on the other side of the thread and appeared to look between it and Katsuki, as if he were trying to solve some sort of intricate puzzle.

“Who the fuck are you?” Katsuki rasped out, cursing how startled he sounded. Damn, he’d been caught off guard in more than one way.

Lips curled up into a smile, revealing rows of frighteningly sharp teeth as the man regarded him with something akin to amusement. “I could ask you the same! Quite the mouth you’ve got.”

“You didn’t answer my question, asshole,” he snapped and watched the amusement fade into something a little more critical.

“You didn’t ask nicely,” the mystery man replied, “and I’m also under no obligation to answer, considering I’m not the one trespassing in someone’s home.”

“You live here?”

The man laughed. “Of course I do, why else would I be here?”

Katsuki felt his lip curl automatically into a snarl, annoyed at the lack of bite in the man’s reply. If he really lived here, why was he so cheery about an intruder? And more importantly, what the fuck was up with his teeth? They were sharp, which made Katsuki’s guts twist uncomfortably as he wondered what exactly he was contending with.

“Your trick is cute, magic-user,” he said as he brushed the tips of his bare toes against the silver thread, sending another cascade of alarms through Katsuki’s mind. He winced and waved his hand to dismiss the spell. “What does it do precisely?”

“I don’t have to fucking tell you,” Katsuki grumbled, scowling.

“You really aren’t very polite are you? I kind of like it. I don’t often get visitors, and even less often do I get visitors with so much, mm,” he seemed to search for the word, then said something that sounded strangely guttural and definitely was a word, but not in the common tongue.

It tickled something in the back of Katsuki’s mind, like he almost recognized it, but came up short. “The fuck you say?” He snapped instead, making up for how much it bothered him.

“I’m trying to find a word for it, but all I can think of is bite,” and as if to emphasize, he snapped his pointed teeth together with an accompanying grin. “Most who end up here are frightened, or looking for help. Yet here you are, all snarls and growls, ready to fight in a home that isn’t even yours! You’re delightful.”

“Shut the fuck up, you idiot!” Katsuki bristled. What gave this guy the right to be so damn cheerful? “If you leave me alone I’ll let myself out and we’ll pretend this never happened.” He turned and stomped over to his damp cloak and mentally flipped through the spells he knew that might be able to dry it.

“I like your mouth, magic-user,” the still nameless man said from right over his shoulder and Katsuki turned, fire once more springing to life in his palm, only to realize just how close they were, and how warmth seemed to radiate off of the stranger. His protests died on his lips as the too-handsome-for-this-to-be-happening man leaned in close. There was something knowing in his shining red eyes, before he stepped away.

“Would you like me to get a fire going to dry your things? I don’t imagine traveling while wet would be pleasant, and if you’re heading for a nearby settlement then you have at least two more days of travel before you arrive.” Katsuki watched his departing form as he walked along the edge of the pool, then disappeared into what must have been a side-chamber.

For the moment, it was just Katsuki and his thoughts, his unsteady breathing echoing off the stone walls. He wondered if he should grab his stuff and run, but something in his gut kept him planted exactly where he stood until the man returned, arms full of logs and kindling. He deposited them near Katsuki and then turned back toward the pool and began to gather stones. Back and forth he went, quiet and sure, as Katsuki watched. Eventually a small fire pit was made with a ring of stones, kindling and logs in the middle of it.

Expectant, ruby-red eyes peered up at him. “Use your fire,” he stepped back and motioned to the logs. Katsuki fumed over the command, but obeyed in spite of it as he called forth the familiar crackle of fire and sent it flying into the pile of wood. The kindling caught quickly, and soon enough the sap in the logs began to pop as the fire came to life.

“Who the fuck are you?” Katsuki asked as he looked from the fire to the stranger.

“Names have power, but you can call me Kirishima,” he grinned another sharp grin, “and you, magic-user?”

He hesitated. “Bakugo,” he finally offered.

“A pleasure to meet you, Bakugo. Help me get some of those larger rocks over there and we will create a space to lay out your clothes.” Kirishima turned and walked over to a pile of rubble from what looked like a partially collapsed wall. He hefted a large stone almost big enough to be a bolder and walked without issue over to the fire. He set it down and once more pinned Bakugo with an expectant look. “Well? I’m not here to serve you, despite you being a guest.”

Katsuki snorted. “Fuck you,” he grumbled before he wound his way around the fire and walked with Kirishima over to the rubble. Together, the two of them managed to lay out a series of stones and Bakugo laid his cloak out over them. It was by no means perfect, but it would at least help his things to dry.

“Do you not want to dry your clothes, too?” Kirishima asked as he motioned to what Katsuki wore. “There’s space to lay them out.”

“I’m not going to walk around this cavern naked, fucknuts,” he scoffed. “It is freezing.”

Kirishima’s laughter filled the cavern and it warmed Katsuki’s chest for reasons he didn’t really want to explore. “Ah, little human, I forget your skin is not so thick. At least the outer layers for now? The rest may dry on its own.”

“Are you trying to get me naked or something?”

“Mm,” Kirishima’s eyes roamed over Katsuki and the warm feeling in his chest spread outward, and downward. “That, I think, would be a lovely byproduct of my genuine concern for your poor clothes.”

Katsuki ignored the heat that made it up to his cheeks and turned away. “You’re a perv. I’m not getting naked.” But he did start to unlace his over shirt because he was tired of the damp chill on his skin. He slid it off, along with the cotton undershirt he wore, and draped both items across the rocks near the fire. Then he retreated back to his gear, yanking the still-dry blanket up and around his bare shoulders.

When he turned back, he found Kirishima once more regarding him with a thoughtful look on his face. “For a magic-user you look like you can actually fight, how manly,” another smile.

“Shut up,” Katsuki groused as he walked over to the fire and sat down on the ground beside it. “Of course I know how to fucking fight, I’m not stupid, you can’t get by on magic alone.”

Kirishima sat beside him and continued to radiate warmth which was almost as pleasant as the fire in front of them. “You would be surprised to find not everyone believes that to be true. I’ve had many a traveller waltz in here believing magic alone could save them.”

The way he said it sent a chill down Katsuki’s spine. “Are you going to try to kill me or something?”

A bark of laughter startled him. “Gods no, little human. Don’t worry. I won’t say I have never killed someone, because there have been those who intended me harm and I dealt with them accordingly, but as a general rule I prefer to enjoy company when I have it.”

Katsuki quietly absorbed the information as warmth seeped back into his skin. He hadn’t realized just how cold he’d gotten until he was next to a fire. “You’re not human,” he said aloud, and his observation received another soft laugh.

“Nope,” Kirishima replied and glanced at Katsuki out of the corner of his eye, “I’m certainly not.”

“Then what are you?”

It was microscopic, but it was there - a flash of trepidation, hesitation, maybe a mite of fear. For a silent moment Katsuki felt as if his measure as a man was being taken. Whatever was going through Kirishima’s mind, the look disappeared as his gaze shifted back to the fire.

“A dragon,” he answered, and Katsuki’s mind froze. A curse died on his lips as his mind warbled between panic and calm.

“A fucking what?” He managed to grit out.

Kirishima let out a gusty sigh and leaned back on his hands. “A dragon,” he glanced at him, “would you like to see?”

Would he? The human-appearing man in front of him was palatable, easy to comprehend, but what would it mean to stand in front of a dragon? Something that could probably eat him in a single bite? His heart hammered against his chest as he tried to catalog what spells he might be able to use to get out of this scenario.

Apparently he took too long to answer because Kirishima’s face fell and he leaned forward on his knees, staring into the fire. “It is fine,” he said, and Katsuki could hear the hurt there and wasn’t sure what to do with it. “I get it.”

“The fuck you get, shitty hair?”

“Shitty hair?” Kirishima sounded surprised as he looked at Katsuki, the melancholy momentarily held at bay. “You come up with the most creative insults, but I’ll have you know my hair is cool like this. It looks like my spikes!”

“Yeah? Prove it, shitty hair,” he snapped again, “show me.”

Some sort of internal conflict waged on Kirishima’s face in that moment, until it settled on determination. He lifted up to his feet easily and stepped over toward the pool. Katsuki didn’t know what to expect, but he watched from where he sat anyway.

Kirishima’s skin shimmered, then appeared to shatter into a million sparkling pieces that reformed into a towering, red-scaled dragon. He filled a good portion of the cavern, long necked with a sharp snout and a long, but bulky body with thick, armor-like scales. His tail whipped out behind him, spikes along the length of it, as it slapped the water. Kirishima’s wings remained folded to his body, though the cavern was vast enough that he could fly if he wanted to, Katsuki guessed. Those same bright, ruby red eyes peered at him as his head lowered to eye level about twenty feet away.

Despite having asked for this, Katsuki was struck by two things: awe, and fear. Even though he knew somehow that Kirishima meant him no harm, he couldn’t stop his instinctual backward scramble away from the fire and the beast in front of him. His heart continued to pound and he felt light headed as his back hit the wall and he stared ahead. Kirishima remained where he was, watching, though Katsuki was at a loss as to how to read the look on the dragon’s face.

Then the dragon grinned, rows upon rows of sharp teeth visible and Katsuki wondered briefly if he was going to piss himself, because Kirishima could kill him in a single bite and that was terrifying.

A voice rumbled in his mind, you’re scared of me. It sounded sad, and Katsuki wondered if the grin had really been a grimace.

“Well fuck, yeah!” He called out, even as he used the wall to pull himself to his feet, “you’re flashing around a fuckton of teeth, you ass. Of course I’m going to be a little freaked out when I’m staring into a deathtrap. Gods. Keep your fucking mouth shut maybe, if you don’t need it to speak.”

If a dragon could look cowed, well, Katsuki imagined this is what it would look like. Kirishima had snapped his jaw shut and pulled his head back, wings fluttering against his side. Your mouth isn’t much better, it is just as sharp as mine.

“Damn fucking straight it is, dragon-boy,” he took a few half-confident steps forward, and when Kirishima just watched, he took a deep breath and continued to cross the distance between them. Kirishima lowered his head again to Katsuki’s level, and he bit back every instinct that told him to run the other direction as he stared Kirishima straight in the eyes.

Then he reached out and touched his nose. The scales were warm beneath his fingers, and as he leaned in and looked closer he realized they weren’t simply red. There were different shades of red, along with swirls and shimmers of black mixed in. Up close the fear melted away as Katsuki realized how wild it was, to be this close to a dragon, to be touching a dragon, to be close enough to see the details in his scales.

“Your human form, is it real? Or an illusion?” Now, with the fear mostly abated, Katsuki had a lot of questions buzzing through his mind.

Real. I transform, I do not trick. Tricks are for magic-users like you, and as if to emphasize his point he pressed his massive nose against Katsuki’s chest and nearly knocked him off balance. Katsuki grabbed onto one of the semi-flexible spikes that decorated Kirishima’s snout to stay on his feet.

“Yeah well, my tricks gave us a fire you know,” he pointed out, and a deep chuckle filled the space around him.

I could light a fire too, little human, Kirishima sounded amused, it is kinda my thing.

Well shit, that made sense. “Then why the fuck did you let me waste my abilities on it?”

That earned another chuckle. My fire would have been overkill, unfortunately. Hard to control and temper.

“Do you show this to everyone?” Katsuki asked.

No, Kirishima hesitated, the scales beneath Katsuki’s hands seemed to vibrate with it, very rarely. It is dangerous. Dragons do not have the best reputation.

Katsuki thought about the last tavern they’d visited before leaving, before getting jumped by bandits, and before Tsuyu got injured in the fray. A couple fighters, or wannabe knights, had bragged about how they planned to one day kill a dragon. They’d heard a story of a hero who had slain a white dragon and made armor out of its scales, and thought it was a lofty goal worthy of a hero.

Now, the memory made Katsuki angry and his fists clenched.

Little human? Kirishima asked, the voice in his mind dripping with concern, what’s wrong?

“People are fucking idiots,” he growled, forcing himself to flatten his hand back out against the warm scales, “I’d kill anyone who came around here with the intention to hurt you.”

Oh. It was an exhalation, a sound of surprise that seemed so strange to hear only in his mind. I am going to change back now, he warned, and Katsuki took a step back. Once more, the form in front of him shimmered and seemed to shatter into millions of pieces that then reformed as Kirishima. Except the pants he’d been wearing were shredded and he was naked.

“Fucking hells put on some pants!” Katsuki turned away and heard a very human chuckle from behind him.

“I wasn’t wearing pants when I was a dragon,” he pointed out as if it were a fucking smart observation to make.

“Well no shit! You were a dragon! I didn’t see your dragon dick hanging out so I didn’t care. Now you’re human, so wear pants like one! Fuck,” Katsuki’s face was hot and he ducked his head and held the blanket closer.

“Alright, alright, hold on,” he heard Kirishima’s feet slap against the rock, and the sound eventually disappeared. Katsuki returned to the fire and was once again joined by Kirishima, this time with another pair of leathers on.

“How many fucking pairs of pants do you have?”

Kirishima laughed. “Enough. Though I usually only wear them when I have visitors. You humans are so,” he searched for the word, “clothed.”

“That’s the best you could come up with? Fucking hells - ‘clothed’? Yes, we wear fucking clothes because not all of us are blessed to be a living furnace. We get cold.” He crossed his arms over his chest and rolled his eyes.

“That’s a shame. It must be hard to be human.”

Katsuki turned narrow eyes on Kirishima who offered a coy smile in return. “Fuck you,” Katsuki grumbled.

“Mm, you keep saying that. It is a tempting offer,” Kirishima glanced away from Katsuki and at the fire, allowing his words to sink in.

Once they did, Katsuki choked on his own spit and sputtered. “It isn’t an offer, shitty hair!”

“Are you certain of that?” Kirishima gave him an appraising look, and his upper lip curved up into a half-smile that revealed the sharp edges of his teeth. “Because you smell a bit like it is.”

“I smell?” Katsuki’s voice rose unpleasantly, “what the fuck do you mean I smell?”

Kirishima leaned in and made a show of smelling along his jaw, “you smell aroused.”

Katsuki was, how could he not be? There was a fucking dragon sitting next to him that was raw power, heat, and chiseled body. His human form wasn’t an illusion, it was a real thing, a part of him, and Katsuki’s dumbass lizard brain wondered what it would be liked to be pressed to the cold stone and laid flat by him.

Kirishima rested a hand on his thigh and squeezed as he leaned in and worried Katsuki’s earlobe with his sharp teeth. “The smell is getting stronger, Bakugo,” Kirishima murmured, “and I’m enticed.”

Despite his lizard brain shouting yes, there was a deeper fear that had him on his feet and pacing away, trying to catch his breath. He shivered and held the blanket closer, edges of it curled in his fist as he stared at the floor and tried to steady his breathing.

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima called out and sounded genuinely apologetic, “Most people who visit come here and smell of fear, or they’re sour because their intentions are bad. You, you’re so confident, with a sharp mouth and I’ve,” he faltered. There was silence. Katsuki continued to count the seconds as he took a deep breath in and exhaled.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, “I won’t touch you again, I promise.”

“You’ve what?” Katsuki asked, mind zeroing in on what Kirishima had filtered out in his silence. “You were about to say something before you started fucking apologizing for nothing.”

“It isn’t nothing, you’re clearly upset, that wasn’t my intention.”

“Then tell me what the fuck you were going to say.”

“I’ve been lonely,” Kirishima sighed loudly, as if admitting it were physically painful. “And most people come here needing help, needing direction, or wanting to kill me, and you are none of those things and I’ve never encountered a human so, so…”

“Enticing?” Katsuki muttered.

“Enticing,” Kirishima replied with a laugh that was directed at himself and not at Katsuki. “I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing, you shithead,” Katsuki growled. “There’s nothing wrong with saying what you want.”

That seemed to silence him, because when Katsuki looked back over Kirishima remained seated on the ground near the crackling fire. He watched, waiting, and a line of tension held between them for a long, exhausting moment.

“Would you like something to eat? You must be hungry,” Kirishima said quietly, “I can hunt something for you.”

“As a dragon?” Katsuki asked before he could stop himself, and Kirishima laughed.

“I try not to go out in that form, so no.”

A sliver of disappointment wormed around inside of Katsuki. “Yeah, I’m hungry,” he finally admitted as his stomach grumbled at him.

“Stay here, I’ll go get you something,” he jumped up to his feet and once again disappeared around the same corner the wood had come from. When he returned, he had a shortbow slung over his bare shoulder, along with a quiver.

“Should I come?” Katsuki asked.

“Do you know how to hunt?”

Fuck. No. That was Deku and Ochako’s bullshit. “The fuck you think?” He said, instead of the truth.

A grin stole across Kirishima’s face. “Stay here, little human, I promise I’ll bring back something you’ll like.”

“Shut the fuck up shitty hair, and fucking do it already,” Katsuki crossed back over to the fire and sat down indignantly, a book on his lap he’d retrieved from his bag. He heard Kirishima chuckle, then walk down the long passageway that had brought Katsuki to the cavern in the first place.

Katsuki spent time poring over the book in his lap. He knew a few of his spells by memory, like the bolt of fire he could conjure in his hands. He’d cast it enough that it had embedded itself into his very being, fusing with a piece of his identity. The fire was his, and he belonged to the fire. Other spells, however, like the one he’d used to lift himself from the mud took review and practice. He had to mutter the incantation and recite the hand movements every morning, and could only memorize about half a dozen or so spells for the day despite having many more in his book.

When that preparation was done, he returned his book to his bag and decided to take a look around the cavern in the daylight. He started with the pool of water, walking right to the edge of the murky depths. It was a deep aqua blue, surprisingly clean for being still and he wondered where the source was. Glancing up yielded a sparkling expanse of crystals of different shapes and sizes, catching the dim light that filtered in from above. He followed the line of the crystals and realized part of the pool was made of them, too, glittering treasures hidden in the depths.

What a strange place, he thought, especially for a dragon to make its home. What few things he’d read about dragons depicted them as territorial, cruel beasts. While they might make a home in a cavern like this, it was lacking the classical picture of a dragon’s hoard. Where were the piles of treasure? Sighing, Katsuki walked over to one of the walls and dragged the tips of his fingers over the rough edges of a crystal.

Sometimes crystals could be useful as focuses in magic, and these ones had a startlingly clarity that might fit that purpose. He walked back over to his bag and pulled out a couple small tools he kept on his person in case an opportunity like this presented itself. He took the hammer and chisel to the space where one of the crystals appeared to meet the wall and tapped.

“What are you doing?” Kirishima snarled from across the room, his voice low and vicious. Startled, Katsuki turned to find Kirishima standing just inside the entrance to the cavern, two dead rabbits in his arms, soaked to the bone. It must have started raining again. His lips were curled up to reveal sharp teeth and his eyes were narrowed. The rabbits were unceremoniously dropped and Kirishima moved faster than Katsuki could track with his eyes. He shoved his way between him and the crystal, turning on him and continuing to bare his teeth.

“Get away from those,” he growled and his voice dripped with venom and a seething anger that sent a pang of real fear straight to Katsuki’s gut. He dropped the tools and took a few careful steps backward, noting Kirishima’s blown pupils and furious look.

“The fuck, man?” He asked, though his voice wavered and betrayed him, “Calm down.”

“Those are mine, Bakugo, get away.”

It did not take much convincing, but there was something in the way Kirishima’s voice hit his ears that pressured him into obeying. Without even thinking he moved even further away from the crystals, circling back around toward his stuff on the other side of the room. The more distance he put between them, the more Kirishima seemed to come back to himself. His shoulders eased and the snarl relaxed into a grimace. Kirishima stared at him for a long moment before he shimmered back into his dragon form, took to the air with a few powerful flaps of his wings, then nose dived into the pool.

Water splashed over the edges, and Kirishima was gone. The pool must have been insanely deep, if he was able to submerge himself completely. Katsuki’s self-control dissolved into trembling shivers as he wrapped his arms around his naked waist and sank to his knees. He realized belatedly that he was terrified, and he hated it. He stayed like that for a few minutes, allowing the adrenaline and panic to run its course, before he grabbed the blanket he’d discarded earlier and scooted back over to the fire. He brought his pack with him and chewed mindlessly on more jerky, all too aware of the rabbits on the ground behind him, back by the entrance to the cavern.

When he got back to Deku and the rest, he’d demand they teach him how to hunt and prepare a kill. He could cook once shit was skinned and gutted, but everything leading up to that had always been out of his hands. He stared at the flames, bundled in the blanket, and wondered what the fuck he was supposed to do. He’d leave, but now if he listened he could hear the rains had returned, and if he left he probably wouldn’t make it anywhere.

But what would happen if he stayed there? How long could Kirishima stay underwater? There were more questions than answers and he miserably curled around his knees and dozed.

He woke up to the sound of sizzling meat and inhaled sharply, sitting up from where he’d slumped on the ground. Across the fire, Kirishima sat. He was dressed in a shirt this time, along with the pants, and Katsuki stared at him through the flames.

“Done having a hissy fit?” Katsuki spat, anger and fear once again bubbling up in his throat. Kirishima looked guilty and glanced away. Katsuki almost regretted his tone.

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima said softly, “I couldn’t help it. This place, it is my...home. You were going to damage it, my mind went blank. All I could think about was defending it. I didn’t want to frighten you.”

“I wasn’t fucking frightened,” Katsuki shot back. “You’re lucky I didn’t cast a spell on you or whatever.”

Kirishima snorted and gave him a curious look. “Perhaps.”

Katsuki hunkered back down in the blanket, only to realize his clothes had been folded and laid near him. “Hah?”

“Your clothes were dry. I thought you might like them close by,” Kirishima explained as he stood and adjusted the makeshift spit that currently speared what Katsuki assumed were the rabbits. “Dinner isn’t going to be much, this was all I could get before the rain started again. I assume that’s why you’re still here?”

Shrugging in reply, Katsuki grabbed his clothes and put the layers back on. They were warm from the fire and settled comfortably against his skin. He also picked up his cloak and draped it back over his shoulders, folding and setting aside the blanket. Kirishima watched him the entire time, eyes thoughtful, tracking each of his movements.

They didn’t speak as Kirishima finished cooking the rabbit and pulled it off to set it on some sort of fabric. He pulled the meat apart with his hands like it hadn’t just been taken off of a fire, and Katsuki assumed he must be fire resistant due to his nature.

“Why swim?” Katsuki asked after a moment, “isn’t water sort of counter to your nature?”

Kirishima looked at him with a tilt of his head and an amused smile. “You don’t know anything about dragons, do you.”

Katsuki bristled at that, “hey, fuck you.”

“There’s that sharp mouth,” Kirishima replied, sounding pleased in a way that turned Katsuki’s insides to syrup. “Contrary to what you think, water feels wonderful against my skin and scales, whatever form I’m in. Contrasts, little human. It is, ah,” he once again paused, and Katsuki realized he was searching for a word that he might understand, “mm, I don’t know how to phrase it in your tongue. Whatever the case, it is a sensation that is equally exciting as it is calming.”

Apparently he had a lot to learn about dragons, but what Kirishima made some sense anyway. He imagined it was a bit like pouring cold water on a burn. Katsuki filed that away for further study once he made it back to civilization.

“Please, help yourself,” Kirishima motioned to the rabbit and then took up his spot near the fire again.

“You’re not eating?”

Kirishima laughed. “Not to my tastes.”

“Let me guess, you’re a vegetarian,” Katsuki replied dryly even as he scooted closer to the meat. He grabbed a bone - maybe a leg? - and tore into the meat unceremoniously. He was starving and didn’t care that the rabbit was greasy and he was making a mess.

“Hardly. I eat whatever I please, but I have a particular love for crystals, much like the ones you were trying to steal.”

Katsuki wanted to protest the accusation of theft, but got too tangled up in the other part of what Kirishima said. He stopped eating and narrowed his eyes. “You eat fucking crystals?”

As if to prove a point, Kirishima pulled his lips back in a grin to show off his teeth. “The crunch feels nice. They don’t have much taste, but it is more about the experience.”

“What the actual fuck?” Katsuki tried to figure out if Kirishima was messing with him or not. “Hells, I really know fuck all about dragons.”

“Well, not all dragons eat crystals. Like I said, we can eat what we please. It just pleases me to eat crystals.” Kirishima shrugged like he hadn’t just admitted he preferred to crunch on hard, glittering stone instead of real food like the rabbit dripping in Katsuki’s hands.

“Right.” As he processed this new information, Katsuki tore back into the rabbit with his teeth. Kirishima watched him intently. Another thought came to Katsuki’s mind in the quiet peace of the fire. “Earlier, when you were pissed about the crystals. You told me to get away and it felt less like a suggestion and more like a command. The fuck is up with that?”

For the first time since entering the cave, Kirishima looked downright bashful. Color rose to his cheeks as he glanced away from Katsuki. “Power, Bakugo,” Kirishima replied with a shrug, “I can command when the need arises, when I’m nearly feral, or when I feel threatened. It is a defense, mostly.”

“Mostly?” Katsuki licked the grease off of his fingers and didn’t miss the way Kirishima’s eyes drifted back to him, tracking every movement.

Stop,” Kirishima purred, and Katsuki stopped midlick, eyes widening. It wasn’t that he couldn’t keep licking his fingers, but he really didn’t want to, because it would displease Kirishima and he suddenly didn’t want that.

After a minute he was able to shake it off and scowled. “The fuck?”

Kirishima shrugged. “A perk, I guess, of being what I am.”

“So you can make me do anything?” A familiar nervousness crept over him and trembled just beneath his skin.

“No, it doesn’t really work like that. You shook off that last command, right? They’re more of a suggestion. It works in the short term, then more effectively the more, ah,” he hesitated, “compliant you are at any given moment?”

“Compliant?” Katsuki wished Kirishima weren’t so fucking vague. He grabbed more rabbit.

“Willing? It depends on how much you want it, or how much you want to give in. If you want to fight it you can, it doesn’t last all that long. If you, say, wanted to give in and do what I said, well, it becomes more of a compulsion then.” Something changed in Kirishima’s posture. He sat a bit more stiffly, hands folded neatly in his lap, and he watched Katsuki cautiously.

The cautious look drew a shiver from Katsuki who glanced away and hastily shoved another piece of meat into his mouth. He chewed thoughtfully and swallowed, at a loss for words. Kirishima stood and came around the fire to sit beside him and Katsuki watched him. Shadows danced across the sharp lines of his handsome face as the flames flickered beside them. Katsuki turned to him and studied his face, trying to memorize the lines and the shape of his nose, even the curve of his lips.

He also noticed the way Kirishima’s pupils dilated the longer he looked at him, a certain hunger crossing his features.

“You smell again, good again” Kirishima murmured and leaned in to nose along Katsuki’s jaw, then paused, “is this okay?”

Katsuki closed his eyes and let out a slow breath through his nose as he considered his answer. Was it okay? He was in a cave, separated from his friends, wrestling with the fact that a dragon that looks like a human could suggest all of his carefully cultivated control away with a few firm words. There was something freeing about that, something curious that settled inside of him and scratched to be let out.

“Just fucking, kiss me, or something,” Katsuki bit out and finally opened his eyes to find a painfully tender look on Kirishima’s face as he reached up to touch Katsuki’s cheek. Then he leaned in for a soft press of lips. Warmth radiated from his touch and his mouth, chasing away any residual chill from Katsuki’s skin. The kisses were gentle, almost chaste as Kirishima crawled into Katsuki’s lap and straddled him.

Kirishima’s tongue teased along his lower lip and he responded by opening his mouth. They slotted their mouths together, tongues brushing, teeth clicking as Katsuki leaned in a little too roughly, and it drew a soft, warm laugh from Kirishima that Katsuki felt as much as heard.

Eventually they fell into a rhythm. One of Kirishima’s hands crept under the back of Katsuki’s shirt and pushed under the layers to find skin, while the other rested on the cold ground beside Katsuki’s hip. In turn, Katsuki lets his hands wander, rucking up Kirishima’s shirt to drag curious fingertips along taunt muscles that twitched and shivered beneath his touches. Shit, Kirishima was warm, and Katsuki could feel himself melting into the touches, pressing deeper into the kiss with a needy sound at the back of his throat he wanted to pretend didn’t come from him.

Kirishima’s lips broke away from his to trail along his jaw, skin catching on the stubble there in a delicious scrape since Katsuki hadn’t had a chance to shave in a couple of days. “Do you want to be compliant, Bakugo?” Kirishima whispered hotly into his ear before he took his earlobe between his teeth and worried in a way that drew another wretched sound from his throat.

“Katsuki,” he corrected, throat tight with it. As a magic user he knew the power of full names, real names, and Kirishima pulled back to look at him. Stare, really. He was staring, and Katsuki felt anger and fear curling together again, like he had done something wrong.

Instead, he was shoved gently back onto the floor. As an afterthought, Kirishima leaned over and grabbed the blanket, pushing it unceremoniously under Katsuki’s head. Then he leaned down over him, “tell me what you want, Katsuki,” Kirishima said in that same tempting tone. Except this time, the inclusion of his name set all of Katsuki’s nerves on fire. They cried out with a desire to please in a way he had never experienced before.

“I don’t know,” the answer fell from his lips and it was honest and raw and Katsuki hated it the moment it was out in the world. “Shit.” He closed his eyes and inhaled. Up close, Kirishima smelled like campfire and incense and it soothed his frayed nerves.

“Do you want to mate with me?” Kirishima asked as he nuzzled along Katsuki’s jaw. The question drew a nervous bark of laughter from somewhere deep in Katsuki’s chest and Kirishima pulled back with a puzzled look on his face.

Mate with you? Fucking hells,” the word sounded so strange, foreign. “Just say fuck like a normal person.”

Kirishima huffed and crossed his arms over his chest, still straddling Katsuki’s waist. He rocked his hips down and Katsuki let out a surprised sound as Kirishima’s ass pressed against his now all-too-obvious arousal. “Is that a no?”

Katsuki growled, which only seemed to amuse him. He tossed his head back against the bunched up blanket and experimentally rocked his hips up, chasing that same, tantalizing pressure with a soft, bitten-off groan.

“It is a yes,” Katuski sighed, staring up into Kirishima’s bright red eyes. “Fuck.” Kirishima’s smile was brilliant, almost blinding. He reached up and unclasped Katsuki’s cloak so that it could act as a makeshift blanket beneath him, which - oh, they were going to do it here. On the stone fucking floor.

“You’re stressed,” Kirishima said quietly as he splayed one of his hands out over Katsuki’s stomach and applied a gentle pressure. “What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you have a fucking, I don’t know, bed or something?”

Kirishima’s brow furrowed, before his expression melted into amusement. “Oh, little human, you’re cute. Of course I don’t have a bed. I don’t often live in this skin and the cold stone feels nice when I sleep. Are you uncomfortable? I could go see if I have more blankets somewhere.”

“You have blankets but not a damn bed?” Katsuki snapped, annoyed and in disbelief and definitely stalling because his nerves had started to bubble up again. He started to sit up but the hand on his stomach slid up to his chest and pressed him back down.

Relax, Katsuki,” Kirishima said and there was a rush of that campfire and incense smell again as Katsuki rested back against the blanket and let out a slow, uneasy breath. “I will go see if I can find some things to make you more comfortable. Please, stay.”

With that, he was up and disappeared out of Katsuki’s line of sight. Remnants of the command to relax left him focusing on tensing and relaxing each of his muscles in turn. It was a trick one of his mentors had taught him, for when anger or anxiety got to be too much. Now seemed a good a time as any to try it, not that he would ever admit it to anyone.

He was drawn out of his thoughts by the sound of Kirishima’s bare feet against rock, and then the plop of the pile of blankets he dumped on top of Katsuki. They smelled a little old, somewhat musty, but even then the campfire smell was there. Once he clawed his way out from under the blankets to glare up at Kirishima, he realized how pleased he looked.

“Blankets,” he said rather proudly, chest puffed up, “and a pillow.” He pulled an ugly square pillow that looked like it belonged on an old woman’s couch out from behind his back and added it to the pile.

“This pillow looks like it is begging someone to put it out of its misery,” Katsuki pointed out.

“Be nice,” Kirishima scolded, “it is just well loved.”

“Where did you even get a fucking pillow?”

Kirishima seemed confused by the question. “How would I remember?”

“It is your pillow!” Katsuki snapped back, even as he rolled onto his knees and began trying to make some semblance of a bed on the ground with the blankets and single pillow bestowed upon him.

“Yes, well, I’ve also been alive a few hundred years. I do leave this place sometimes to walk among your kind, I probably picked it up then.” There was a pause behind Katsuki’s back before, “do you want help?”

“No,” Katsuki answered, “because there is no help for this mess, we’ll just have to make do.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Katsuki turned and looked at Kirishima who now frowned, brow crinkled in concern. “I have no interest in forcing the issue, I just thought you were interested and sometimes when humans smell like that, I can’t help it. But we don’t have to do anything.”

Looking away, Katsuki fussed with the blankets more. He’d laid one out on top of his cloak and the others had been bunched up along with the pillow where his shoulders would be. He realized belatedly he was planning to be the one on his back and his cheeks heated up at the thought. Since when did he roll over and take it? He could probably convince Kirishima to be the one on his back.

But there was something in that smell, whenever Kirishima got close and the heady scent of campfire and incense filled his nose, that made him want to submit. To comply. To be swept up and taken care of and to finally let his walls fall.

“Katsuki?” Now Kirishima’s voice was heavy with concern and Katsuki realized he had stopped moving, was staring down at the blankets piled beneath him.

“Yes I fucking want this,” he growled, “would you just, I don’t know, command me or something?”

Kirishima made a soft ‘tch’ sound, and then there was warmth kneeling beside him. Fingertips crept up under the back of Katsuki’s shirt and traced up along his spine, warmth radiating from them. Kirishima pressed close, his nose brushing against Katsuki’s temple.

“I’m not going to command you right now, magic-user,” he murmured, soft and kind, “but I will. I promise you that. Right now, however, I would like you to act on your own terms and take your shirt off. I can help, if you’d like.”

There was something in the way Kirishima said it that felt similar to the commands, but without the push. It was confidence, perhaps. Confidence and hundreds of years of experience getting people to take off their clothes before he laid them flat in this cave. Katsuki’s skin might as well have been on fire for how hot that very thought made him and he let out a tight exhale as Kirishima’s sharp teeth worried the skin of his jaw.

“I’m waiting, Katsuki,” he said with measured patience.

Katsuki sat back on his haunches and unlaced the overshirt, which he easily pulled over his head. Next came his underclothes, both articles tossed away from their blanket pile. He didn’t get a chance to move on his own because Kirishima pushed him, manhandled him onto his back and set his teeth immediately to his collarbone in an open mouthed kiss. His hand slid down to Katsuki’s waist and pressed him down into the blankets as his mouth worked.

He couldn’t concentrate once he was on his back with Kirishima’s weight pinning him down. Everything became the sensation of sharp teeth biting and marking, and the heat of the hand holding him. He finally pulled out of the fog enough to tangle his fingers in the back of Kirishima’s bright red hair, which was missing the spikes he had originally presented with. Now, it was just a soft mane of fire that Katsuki could tug on as his body arched into his mouth.

Kirishima licked a wet stripe up the side of his neck, then nudged Katsuki’s jaw with his nose affectionately. Katsuki turned into the motion and Kirishima’s mouth was on his in a fiery kiss. He tugged on his hair in response, diving into the kiss and trying to match Kirishima’s enthusiasm, but his grip faltered when Kirishima’s hips aligned with his and pushed, their erections rubbing together through the now too-tight fabric of his breeches.

A miserably desperate sound hit his ears and he realized that it had come from his own mouth the moment Kirishima let up in order to bite at his jaw as he rutted their hips together again. Fuck, is this what hundreds of years of practice yielded? Confidence, pressure, and an overwhelming control that Katsuki could only dream of. He yielded, submitted, because there was nothing else to do when a dragon in human form had his sharp teeth on your neck.

He turned his head and pressed his nose against Kirishima’s jaw, inhaling, hit again with that overwhelming smell of campfire. It seemed to be coming from Kirishima’s skin, and Katsuki wanted more of it.

“Why do you smell like that?” he grumbled, struggling to find his voice as Kirishima left a trail of wet kisses along his shoulder before he sat back enough to meet Katsuki’s eyes.

“Like what?”

“Campfire. Incense. I don’t fucking know, you smell good.” If he weren’t already flushed, he’d probably blush now after admitting that.

“Hmm,” Kirishima smiled, but it was far from his bright, sunny grin. This one was a little more reserved, a bit more tender, and he leaned in to kiss Katsuki soundly. “Not everyone can smell it,” he murmured against Katsuki’s lips, “it is a good sign. It means you want this,” he emphasized the word with another devastatingly tight roll of his hips that forced Katsuki’s eyes closed and a tiny whine from his throat.

“Some humans smell it, others don’t, perhaps it is because you’re a magic user, or because you’re so aroused I’m not entirely sure. It is a way of claiming, marking territory. A scent unique to every dragon so that when another comes into my territory they know. It comes up in mating,” his smile now showed his pointed teeth, “supposed to soothe partners, help them to feel safe, to relax. By the time we’re done here you’ll smell like me for days.” When Kirishima said it, a frighteningly hungry look passed across his face.

“Oh,” Katsuki said, rendered absolutely speechless by what shouldn’t be such a hot biology lesson. Yet here he was, all the more turned on by the thought of being wrapped up in that scent, of being marked and claimed. He tilted his hips up, searching for friction, and with a soft chuckle Kirishima gave it to him and Katsuki made another desperate sound.

“So eager, little human, I like it,” Kirishima kissed him again, and again, before he sat up and shifted down so his hands could work at the laces of Katsuki’s trousers. Once they were undone he yanked them and his underclothes down until Katsuki could kick them away. Kirishima’s eyes roamed over him, now completely bare, his cock hard and bobbing against his belly.

Before Katsuki could think to say anything, Kirishima bent down and dragged his searing tongue along the underside of his cock. He gasped, grabbed at the blankets and bucked up into the sensation. Kirishima teased the underside of the head as his long fingers wrapped around and stroked him from base to tip once. Then, those red eyes flicked up to Katsuki’s face and he watched a little smile crawl across Kirishima’s lips.

Lips that were almost immediately wrapped around his cock, pulling it into hot wetness. Katsuki tried not to think of rows of sharp teeth as he gasped out a string of ‘fucks’ and ‘shits’ when Kirishima slid his mouth over the length of him as if he were nothing. He pulled back, lapped at the head, then slid Katsuki’s cock right back into his mouth. He couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore as he arched desperately into the sensation.

Kirishima hollowed out his cheeks as he pulled off again, creating pressure that made Katsuki certain he was going to lose it right then and there. He must have said as much, because the next thing he registered was Kirishima’s chuckle as Katsuki’s cock stood hard and wet in the chill of the air. It was difficult to open his eyes but he did, and peered down to meet Kirishima’s hungry look.

“You’re so easy, little human,” he said affectionately as he dragged the warm tip of a finger up Katsuki’s cock. It twitched in response and Katsuki whined and let out a huff of air.

“Shut up,” he grunted, “the fuck I am. You’re just good at that.”

Kirishima blew on Katsuki’s cock and it made him shiver from head to toe. “I am, thank you,” he smiled and pressed a kiss to the underside of the head before he sat up. Katsuki watched Kirishima undo his own breeches and push them down over his hips to reveal nothing underneath. Of course he didn’t wear underwear, he barely wore pants as it was. He wasn’t entirely sure what the look on his face must have been when Kirishima’s cock bobbed into his line of sight as he shucked his trousers, but whatever it was it actually managed to make Kirishima blush. That was a point to Katsuki.

“You’re so lovely, you know that Katsuki?” Kirishima murmured as he stretched back out over him, rutting his leaking cock against Katsuki’s hip. He leaned in for a kiss and Katsuki kissed back, desperate and needy and left wanting when it was brief and Kirishima pulled away. “I’d like to see what your lovely mouth could do.”

Katsuki’s breath caught in his throat as Kirishima shifted his position, knees now up near Katsuki’s shoulders, the head of his cock brushing against his lower lip. The smell was even stronger here, burning wood and heady incense overwhelming his senses. He opened his mouth instinctively, tongue darting out to taste him.

Open your mouth more, Katsuki,” Kirishima commanded, and with a broken sound Katsuki obeyed. Kirishima angled his hips and pressed forward, cock sliding against Katsuki’s lips and then onto his tongue and into his mouth. “Oh, you’re wonderful,” Kirishima groaned as he pulled back and shallowly thrust back in. Katsuki choked the first go around, but Kirishima continued the slow steady movements and eventually Katsuki’s throat and jaw relaxed as he realized he didn’t need to do anything. He just needed to let go, to let Kirishima use him.

So he did, his lovely scent swirling around him as he relaxed and allowed Kirishima to fuck his mouth. He kept the thrusts reasonably gentle and shallow, and Katsuki ran his hands up Kirishima’s thighs because they were right there and why not? It seemed to please him, because Kirishima let out a soft groan and picked up the pace of his thrusts.

Just when Katsuki was really in the rhythm of it, Kirishima pulled his cock out. He reached down and swiped his thumb along Katsuki’s lower lip and smiled at him. “Good, little human, very good.”

The praise warmed him. The warmth spread from the middle of his chest out along his limbs and he basked in it. Kirishima moved, but Katsuki didn’t even track the motions. He was so comfortable cradled in the pile of blankets, warm despite the large airy cavern around them.

“Do you keep oil with you?” Kirishima asked after a moment somewhere down near Katsuki’s hips. Did he? Katsuki tried to collect his thoughts from where they’d been scattered. Finally, he met Kirishima’s ruby red gaze and huffed, pointing to his bag.

“In there, somewhere,” he paused, eyes roaming over Kirishima’s body. He had a better look at him now, especially as Kirishima rose and walked over to his bag. A good enough look to see something curious. “What, uh,” he swallowed, then glanced away. He fell silent.

Kirishima returned with a small jar of oil in hand and Katsuki finally looked at him again. “What is it, Katsuki?”

He motioned for Kirishima to get down, so he did, lowering himself to his knees within reaching distance. Katsuki reached out and dragged the tips of his fingers down the underside of Kirishima’s cock, relishing the shiver it provoked, before he tapped what appeared to be a bump at the base. “What’s this?”

Again, Kirishima blushed but simultaneously looked amused as he rocked his hips forward into the touch. “My knot,” he replied as if it were obvious. Katsuki applied more pressure and watched Kirishima’s eyes begin to slide shut. “Mm, Katsuki,” he grumbled, his name coming from somewhere deep in his chest.

“Are you going to fucking explain what that means?” Katsuki asked as he withdrew his hand and Kirishima looked upset about the loss.

“You don’t know what a knot is?” He asked, his voice lined with skepticism.

“I mean, I know like, with dogs and shit. They knot each other or whatever to mate.” But that is where Katsuki’s knowledge and understanding ended.

“Exactly,” Kirishima shrugged, “that’s all this is. Dogs aren’t the only beasts on this earth to have this adaptation. It is common among dragons, too. Even in our human forms.”

“The fuck, are you going to knot me?” Katsuki asked, his voice pitching up toward the end and he wasn’t sure if he was scared or angry at the thought, or that Kirishima apparently hadn’t planned to fill him in on it until he was balls deep.

“Gods no, Katsuki,” Kirishima laughed, “there’s no point, despite it feeling very good to me. Little humans like you don’t necessarily like it, or get scared to take it, so I usually don’t bother. I pull out before we get stuck.”

There were two feelings that came to Katsuki in that moment. The first was gratitude, now armed with the knowledge that Kirishima hadn’t planned to just shove a knot into him in the middle of whatever was about to happen. The second, though, was a spark of anger at the assumption that he couldn’t take it, or wouldn’t have been given the choice to opt in if he wanted to.

Maybe he wanted to. Maybe he wanted to be the human that could. That didn’t back down, that wasn’t scared of it.

“What if I want it?” The words left his mouth before he could filter them and a curious look passed across Kirishima’s face.

“Do you, Katsuki?” He asked simply, “I could give it to you,” Kirishima slid his body back over Katsuki’s again, mouth right near his ear, the jar of oil forgotten on the ground beside them. He rutted their hips together, bare cocks sliding, “I could open you up and stretch you out and fuck you so deep that my knot slips in and swells inside of you. You’d be forced to be mine for hours afterward, and then I’d want to take you again,” his voice was a low growl and Katsuki was reminded of how he had sounded in his mind when he was a dragon. The rumble was similar.

“I’d fill you, and then you really would be mine wouldn’t you Katsuki?” There was another slow grind of their hips and Katsuki realized he was having a hard time breathing. He flinched in surprise when Kirishima’s fingertips ghosted gently down along his side. “Would you like that?”

“Yes,” he grit out through his teeth, body on fire, desire ravaging his insides as he arched his hips up to try and gain more friction.

“Hmm,” Kirishima made a thoughtful sound as he pressed a kiss to the hinge of Katsuki’s jaw, “we’ll see. Be good for me, Katsuki, and maybe I’ll give it to you.” The words turned Katsuki’s insides to mush as he responded with a quiet ‘please’.

The jar of oil was retrieved and Kirishima’s warm weight shifted down his body. He settled between Katsuki’s legs, pushing them apart with ease. Katsuki canted his hips a bit to offer better access and caught the pleased look that flashed across Kirishima’s face. He dipped his fingers into the oil and ran a finger teasingly around his ass before pressing in. Katsuki’s breath hitched and he couldn’t look anymore. He rested his head back against the blankets as Kirishima’s oiled finger pressed into him inch by inch.

There was drag as he pulled it back out and Katsuki heard Kirishima apply more oil before the finger worked back in. He went slowly, which Katsuki hated to admit he appreciated because it has been a while since he’d done this with anyone. The moment he felt a pang of stress or discomfort, the smell of campfire and incense soothed him back into a state of being relaxed. He allowed his eyes to flutter shut as Kirishima pressed a second finger into him.

By the time there were three, Katsuki’s mind was a wash of pleasure. He moved his hips as best he could in his position to press against the intrusion. All the while, Kirishima’s free hand massaged the inside of his thigh, or would guide him into a slightly different angle as his fingers worked. Once of the angle shifts turned his vision white as three fingers pressed against his prostate and sent streaks of white fire through him.

His cock ached, hard and leaking against his belly, and he finally forced his eyes open to find Kirishima staring at him with an openly wanting look on his face.

“You’re beautiful like this,” he said without being prompted, lips curling up over his sharp teeth, “open, yearning, mine.” He punctuated the last word with a firm thrust of his fingers that had Katsuki’s hips up and off the floor, a desperate noise tearing from his throat.

“Then fucking claim me already,” Katsuki gasped out, shuddering as the fingers slid out of him.

“Eager, little human,” but Kirishima smiled and grabbed for the oil again, rubbing a generous amount over his cock until it was shiny and slick. He pushed Katsuki’s legs apart a bit more so he could kneel between them, draping his body over Katsuki’s prone form. Without another word, he lined himself up and pressed into Katsuki who choked on a sharp inhale at the sensation.

Kirishima was thick and the head opened him up more than the fingers had dared to. The stretch was momentarily uncomfortable, but once Kirishima managed to sink into him a couple of inches the discomfort faded. It became nothing but slide and pressure, then drag as he pulled back out almost entirely only to push back in a little deeper. Katsuki panted, his body flushed and hot as Kirishima finally set a steady, slow rhythm. He leaned down and caught Katsuki’s lips in a tender kiss, one of his hands running along under Katsuki’s thigh.

“You’re so good, Katsuki,” Kirishima murmured against his mouth, then kissed his cheek, and moved to pepper his jaw with kisses as he thrust. “Warm and tight and mine.”

Katsuki was lost to the sensations and smells around him, sinking further into Kirishima’s warmth as his hands trailed over his back, nails digging in when Kirishima thrust particularly hard. He tilted his head back to open up his throat and Kirishima rumbled in pleasure as he leaned down and bit. It was not hard enough to break the skin but there was enough pressure to make Katsuki yelp in surprise as he shoved his hips down against Kirishima’s cock, suddenly hungry for more and harder, and holy shit everything was on fire.

Kirishima’s chest rumbled with a chuckle as he sucked and nibbled at the bite, trailing his mouth down to Katsuki’s collarbone where he repeated the attention. It ripped a desperate, needy cry from Katsuki whose fingertips dug in and felt the shift of Kirishima’s back muscles as they continued to move together. It seemed like they were suspended in time, Katsuki lost between points of pain and pleasure as Kirishima continued to bite and nip and kiss as he fucked him into the blankets.

In a haze, he reached down to touch himself but Kirishima grabbed his wrist and pinned it to the ground. “No, Katsuki,” he growled into his skin, breath like fire, “that is for me.”

Katsuki whimpered and complied as he gave in to the push he felt in his mind to obey. Kirishima kept his hand pinned as he moved, and Katsuki could feel something thicker at the base of his cock sliding in with every thrust. The knot, he thought in the static of his mind, and while he should be nervous he found he wasn’t. He was relaxed, warm, safe, and Kirishima was doing wonderful things that made him lose his concentration whenever he started to give into nerves.

When his wrist was finally released, Kirishima shifting to lift Katsuki’s hips a bit more to press deeper, Katsuki began to mumble a soft spell as an idea came to him.

Stop!” Kirishima snapped as all the sensations stopped and Katsuki was jogged out of his casting with a surprised noise. He peered up at Kirishima confused, then looked to see his hand which had been drawing runes in the air was one more pinned. “What are you doing?”

Katsuki searched Kirishima’s face and saw confusion, and nerves. “I was going to fucking cast a spell, I, shit, just trust me.”

Conflict waged raw and hard across Kirishima’s face in that moment, hips still despite being buried in Katsuki. He looked between where he had Katsuki’s hand pinned, and Katsuki’s face, before he released his hand. The line of his body was tense, and Katsuki realized far too late in all of this that Kirishima thought he was going to harm him. Fuck, he’d messed that one up.

To make up for it he leaned up to press his lips to Kirishima’s, and he responded hesitantly, so Katsuki caught his lower lip between his teeth and bit gently. Then, lips pressed together, he murmured the spell again, tracing the runes with his hand on Kirishima’s back instead of in the air. Magic shivered between them and Kirishima made a confused noise, before gasping softly as Katsuki’s hands turned cold. He ran chilled fingertips down Kirishima’s spine as far as he could reach in this position and noted the way he arched into the touch with a rumbling growl.

“Clever, magic-user,” Kirishima hummed, hips moving slowly again as he used his weight to push Katsuki back into the blankets. “Very clever.” Katsuki rested with his back against the blankets and could now trail both of his hands up and down Kirishima’s sides and back, mapping out the plains of skin with his chill touch. Kirishima groaned against his lips, then into his neck as he resumed his kissing and thrusting.

Their rhythm built up again, recovered from the momentary misunderstanding. Kirishima made new noises now, with the introduction of chilled hands on his back. Katsuki even slid his hand between them to Kirishima’s chest so he could brush his fingers over his nipples. It earned him a particularly hard series of thrusts and he felt Kirishima’s knot more prominently, pressing in and then dragging out, forcing him to stretch to accommodate it.

With a wet kiss to his jaw, Kirishima slid out of him completely and sat back. “Roll over,” he instructed, squeezing Katsuki’s hip reassuringly. “You’ll thank me later.”

Confused but trusting, Katsuki rolled over and Kirishima guided him to his knees. He pulled the loose blankets and single pillow to his chest to provide some support, and squeezed them with a gasp when Kirishima slid back into him from a new angle. He pushed Katsuki’s knees further apart, knocking his balance out from under him, but accompanied the movement by slinging his arm around and under Katsuki’s hips. The shift left him with his weight resting against Kirishima’s strong arm more than anything else, legs spread as he began to thrust in earnest.

“Katsuki,” Kirishima groaned, leaning forward to kiss and bite along Katsuki’s spine. The wrecked sounds of their coupling echoed off the stone walls and fueled Katsuki’s arousal all the more. The arm around his hips shifted enough so that Kirishima’s hand could finally wrap around his cock. Kirishima stroked him and it was warm and searing. Katsuki buried his face in the blankets and let out of a series of moans, groans, and whimpers as he was lost. He could pick up the smell of campfire and incense in the blankets which further muddled his mind to the point he only faintly registered the sensation of Kirishima’s growing knot catching on his rim with every thrust.

“Please, please,” he realized he was begging as he clung to the blankets and gave himself over to Kirishima’s ministrations. “Please,” he wanted to say more but that was the only word that made it from his brain to his mouth as Kirishima continued to pound into him. Then, he wasn’t sliding out anymore. Katsuki felt a thick pressure build just inside of him, followed by Kirishima rutting against his ass and making desperate sounds. He rutted at the right angle, every press sending sparks of white across Katsuki’s vision.

Kirishima bit the back of his shoulder, teeth definitely breaking the skin this time and the heady mix of pain and pleasure sent Katsuki over the edge. He wasn’t sure if the sound he heard was his own desperate cry or someone else’s, he’d figure it out later because everything was about the bite on his shoulder and the pressure in his ass and nothing else as he spilled over Kirishima’s hand and felt a searing hot heat inside of himself.

He couldn’t catch his breath and panted harshly into the blankets. It took him a moment to realize his entire body trembled from the exertion and Kirishima was really the only thing holding him up now as he was reduced to a puddle piled on top of the blankets.

“Shh Katsuki, you’re okay,” Kirishima said softly, warm tongue lapping at the stinging bite on the back of his shoulder. “I’ve got you, take your time.”

When he’d managed to catch some sense of breath, Kirishima guided him onto his side, back pressed against Kirishima’s chest. They were still connected, he realized, the knot keeping Kirishima firmly in place. It sent a shiver up Katsuki’s spine even as he nestled back into the warm body behind him. He had a passing thought and mumbled another spell, the mess on the blankets evaporating, and he felt as much as heard Kirishima’s rumbling laugh.

With the blankets now free of mess, Kirishima and Katsuki shifted in little increments until they were comfortably situated on the blankets. Kirishima grabbed one that was easy enough to reach and pulled it over the top of their joined bodies, even though Katsuki didn’t think they needed it. Kirishima was warm enough for the both of them.

“You fucking bit me,” Katsuki groused after a moment, realizing his shoulder now throbbed uncomfortably.

“It will heal,” Kirishima answered easily, “it is just a love bite.”

“I’m pretty sure you broke the skin.”

“Oh, I certainly did,” as if to make the point, he dipped his head down and licked another warm stripe over the wound. Somehow the heat of his mouth eased the pain. Then he nuzzled back against the side of Katsuki’s neck. “It looks lovely.”

“Ugh, fuck you,” Katsuki grumbled.

“Mm, I think I’m the one who fucked you quite thoroughly, little human,” Kirishima pointed out with another chuckle.

“Now who has the sharp mouth?” It was the first time he’d heard Kirishima curse.

“I’ve always had the sharp mouth, Katsuki,” Kirishima nipped his earlobe as if he needed to be reminded of just how sharp his teeth were. “You should rest, you’re still shaking,” Kirishima’s tone held a note of concern.

“Yeah, fuck I’m tired,” he sighed and turned his head to brush his nose against Kirishima’s cheek. He inhaled, the scent of campfire and incense still present and deliciously lulling.

“Sleep, for a little while. We have the time, we’re going to be like this for at least an hour,” Kirishima smiled against Katsuki’s shoulder as he placed another kiss on his skin. “I’ll keep watch.”

“How’re you not fucking exhausted?” Katsuki’s whole body was heavy, sleep nipping at his heels.

“I have to stay awake to guard you,” Kirishima replied from somewhere faraway as Katsuki’s mind began to slip into the darkness. “Don’t worry, little human, I’ll be here when you wake.”

Good, Katsuki thought as he drifted off to thoughts of low burning fires and Kirishima’s mouth against his shoulder.

Katsuki expected to wake up cold, alone, and damp in a cave. He thought everything had to have been a dream. But instead he woke up to the pleasant heat of a body wrapped around him, still nestled deep in a pile of blankets. The only discomfort came from between his legs where he felt empty, and filthy. A hand stroked his thigh comfortingly as Katsuki processed his current position and tried to ignore the aching in his chest when he realized they were no longer connected.

“It is okay,” Kirishima whispered against his ear and nuzzled, “I’m still here. You’re still mine. The come down from all of this can be stressful, so just focus on my scent. You’re safe.”

He was right. Distress thrummed through him like an electrical current, telling him something was amiss when nothing was. Rolling in the embrace he tucked his head up under Kirishima’s and breathed him in, Kirishima’s hands running soothingly up and down his back. Katsuki nearly drifted off again as his body finally relaxed when Kirishima’s hands stilled.

“Would you like to get cleaned up?” He asked, voice soft, like he was worried about Katsuki skittering off. The tone was almost enough to spark irritability, but Katsuki let it go. He was too tired, too sore, and too uncertain about what he was feeling to muster up enough indignation to respond.

“I don’t want to fucking move,” Katsuki sighed.

“I could carry you,” Kirishima teased as his hands ran over the round of Katsuki’s ass. “There’s a hot spring a little further into the cavern if you think you could make it. It is small, but lovely on sore muscles.”

Katsuki nestled closer and Kirishima made a pleased sound. “That’s not an answer, Katsuki,” he pointed out after a moment, fingers running through Katsuki’s hair.

“Give me a second, gods,” he huffed and tried to muster the desire to move. Finally, after a few more minutes of basking in Kirishima’s warmth, he rolled away. He tested his limbs and determined that despite trembling muscles, he could probably stand. Katsuki earned a surprised noise when he shoved away Kirishima’s attempt to help him up and rose to his feet of his own volition.

“Stubborn,” Kirishima chided as Katsuki stretched out his back.

“Where are these hot springs?”

They proceeded a little deeper into the cavern, past the deeper pool and down a passageway. It opened up into a smaller room where there were a couple different pools, far more shallow than the one in the main cavern. Kirishima led the way, dropping to sit on the edge of one of the pools before he slid in. His head disappeared under the water and he reappeared somewhere near the middle of the pool, shooting Katsuki a sharp smile.

Katsuki followed suit, but carefully. The water was bordering on uncomfortably warm at first so he stuck his legs in and allowed himself a moment to adjust before plunging in. As he slipped beneath the water he was surprised to find he could only go down a couple of inches before his feet hit the rocky bottom and he pushed back up to the surface.

Once his head was above water, Kirishima ensnared him with an arm around his waist and pulled him close, kissing him. Katsuki sighed against his lips and melted into the attention, his arm moving through the water to tread it as Kirishima pulled him close.

They enjoyed the hot spring, the heat seeping into Katsuki’s sore muscles as he floated on his back. He thought he could almost doze off in the water when a voice spoke in his head.

Katsuki, there’s been another bandit attack. They have us. Help us. Can’t send another message.

Deku’s voice was there and then gone as Katsuki sputtered and tensed, dipping under the water before he flailed and got his head back up over it.

“Katsuki?” Kirishima’s voice was tense. Katsuki glanced at him and found concern there.

“Deku, one of my traveling companions,” one of your friends, idiot, “they’re in trouble. Fuck. Shit.” He swam to the edge of the pool and pulled himself over it and onto dry ground. “I have to go.”

Spurred by the uncharacteristic panic in the message, Katsuki wound his way back to the main cavern. He grabbed one of the blankets and used it to towel off before he started to pull his clothes back on. Kirishima eventually caught up.

“What do you mean they’re in trouble? What’s happened?”

Katsuki shoved his legs into his trousers and yanked them up, re-lacing them. Anger and guilt pulsed through him, heating his blood. Tsuyu was already injured from one bandit attack, how had the idiots managed to get captured in another? And why the fuck had he thought it was a good idea to wander off? Why couldn’t they take care of themselves?

“Fuck!” Katsuki shouted and nearly ripped the laces off of his trousers. His hands trembled and it made him angrier.

“Katsuki, relax,” Kirishima commanded, hands coming to rest over Katsuki’s wrists. “You’re not going to be able to help them if you get worked up right now. Hold the anger, direct it at the right people,” Kirishima pressed his lips to the side of Katsuki’s neck, then he dipped down to kiss and swipe his tongue over the bite on the back of his shoulder. “Relax,” he insisted again, nuzzling the mark.

Anger warred against his desire to comply and he clenched his fists for a second before he released the tension and leaned back against Kirishima’s firm chest. “Good, little human,” Kirishima praised, breathing steadily. Katsuki could feel the rise and fall of his chest against his back.

“You don’t understand,” Katsuki bit out after a moment, despite the gentle treatment quelling the worst of his anger, “I left them behind. I wandered off, and I’ve been here. Their stupid asses probably went out looking for me and now I have to go get them.”

“I do understand,” Kirishima replied, running a hand across Katsuki’s stomach, “and I’m going to help you. First, try to finish getting dressed without ruining your clothes.”

Under Kirishima’s watchful eye Katsuki got dressed again, pulling on underclothes and padding and his studded leather armor that had dried overnight. He re-packed his bag as he chewed on rations and belted his sword back to his waist. At one point Kirishima disappeared and when he returned he was dressed, too, wearing soft leather armor and armed with his bow and quiver.

“Do you know how to locate your friends?” Kirishima asked as Katsuki shouldered his pack.

“I have a spell I can use to get us close, at least,” Katsuki frowned, “fucking dumbasses. I can’t leave them for a single day.” He turned and headed toward the passage to get out of the cavern, Kirishima at his heels. They got outside and down the short climb from the mouth of the passage which seemed far less perilous now that the sun had broken through the clouds.

Once they were on flat ground, Katsuki dropped his bag and sat down cross-legged. He pulled a bit of hound fur from his component pouch and set it on the hard ground. A piece of chalk was next as he began to draw runes on the stone around it. Once he was happy with it, he rested his hand against the hound fur and closed his eyes, channeling magic. He thought about Deku, his stupid green hair and his dumbass freckles and everything else he could recall from all their years of travel together.

The hound fur burned up beneath his hand and he felt a guiding pressure at the front of his head. His eyes opened and he looked down to see the runes had vanished, too, but he knew the direction they needed to head.

“I’ll have to cast this again in another hour,” Katsuki admitted, “but I’ve got the direction.” He looked up at Kirishima who watched him with open curiosity. “What?”

“After hundreds of years, I still enjoy watching magic-users employ their craft,” Kirishima admitted with a small smile, “and you look so calm when you cast, the lines of worry on your face disappear, it is enchanting.”

Katsuki felt his cheeks flare red as he stood up and grabbed his bag. “Stop staring and come on,” he growled as he stomped in the right direction. Kirishima laughed behind him.

It took only two more ritual casts of his locate spell to get them close, which would have been impressive if it weren’t stupid he had to do it in the first place. Clearly Deku and the rest had been following Katsuki’s trail before they got caught up and dragged off by bandits. Kirishima travelled quietly beside him and he noticed the further they got from the cave, the more tense his look became.

“You don’t like being out here,” Katsuki noted and Kirishima glanced at him from the corner of his eye.

“I don’t like to stray far from my territory, especially not so soon after mating someone,” he grimaced, “it is counter to my instincts. They tell me to grab you and take you back to safety, but here we are.”

Katsuki wanted to say something insulting, to try and diffuse the uncomfortable tension, but his mind offered nothing. The look on Kirishima’s face was too genuine, too open and honest, and for once he couldn’t bring himself to make some offhand comment when the dragon was going against his instincts to help Katsuki and his dumbass friends.

“Well thanks, or whatever,” he mumbled under his breath and refused to look at Kirishima after he said it.

“Mm,” was all he heard in reply as he continued forward through the trees, following the pressure in his head toward the first signs of a bandit camp.

They both crept quietly along the outskirts of it. Beyond the trees where they were hidden were wooden posts set close together with spiked tops. They acted as walls to protect the cobbled together structures just past the walls. Smoke from fires rose into the air and even from where they were they could hear the sounds typical to a settlement. Katsuki crouched in the dark woods and watched for a few minutes, noting that behind the walls were platforms that guards patrolled.

He glanced at Kirishima who also appeared to be analyzing the structure in front of them. “What do you think?”

“I’m better from a distance, and a decent shot at that. I could find some height and try to take out some of the guards but once bodies start dropping they’re going to send up an alert.” He frowned thoughtfully, brows furrowed, “can you get close and set up traps with your magic? Perhaps if we rile them up we can direct them toward your traps and take a chunk of the main guard out.”

“Can’t you just turn into a dragon?” Katsuki asked and received a sharp glare.

“I could, sure, but what do you propose I do? Dragon fear might keep some of them at bay for a time, but I’m not about to blast them with fire. Your friends are in there, and I think using me in that way should be a last resort,” he glanced back out at the bandit camp in front of them, “I don’t need word getting around that there’s a dragon in this area, if I can help it.”

“Fine,” it made sense, though the lack of a dragon meant this was going to be a lot harder. “Go find the high ground, I’ll try to set some traps near the entry points. Watch my back, and if I’m seen just shoot the bastards and I’ll figure it out.”

Kirishima appeared to hesitate, and Katsuki wondered if he was fighting his instincts. He’d said earlier he wanted to protect, to whisk him back away to his cave and hide. Whatever the case, Kirishima seemed to resolve whatever warred inside of his mind. He grabbed the back of Katsuki’s neck and pulled him close to press a hot kiss to his mouth.

“Be safe, little human,” he said, searching Katsuki’s eyes for something. Then he let go and turned to slink through the trees and out of sight. Katsuki went on his own path, using the trees as long as he could to hide his approach. Eventually they ran thin and he was forced to make a quick, low-to-the-ground dash to a large boulder that would obscure line of sight on him.

Once he made it there, it became easier to scoot from one hiding spot to another until he made it to some tall grass and boulders outside one of the points of entry. The entryway was narrow, made as a choke point no doubt to catch anyone trying to get in without permission. He was able to creep along the wall close enough to touch one of the wooden beams making up the entryway. With a soft mumble he began to cast, focusing on the spot he touched.

It started to glow a sparking yellow and he pulled some of the glow into a thread of arcane energy. With it in his hand he darted across the entryway to the other side and slapped his hand against the wood there. The thread shimmered for a moment and then disappeared, the glow fading, but he could feel the thrum of magic there. It would be a nice tripwire, a surprise for anyone trying to leave.

He continued his way around the wall, pressed close to the wooden beams protecting the camp. Every now and again he glanced out to the treeline and tried to find Kirishima’s figure somewhere in the trees. He couldn’t, which was likely a good sign, he just hoped all was well. As he made his way to the second entrance they’d located during their recon he heard a startled shout.

“Hey! What are you doing?” A man his age was just pulling his trousers up. It appeared as if he had been taking a piss just outside the entrance and reached to grab for a short sword at his side. In a second there was a whistle through the air and then the sound of impact as an arrow lodged itself in his eye socket. He gasped and grabbed at the back of the arrow and that gave Katsuki enough time to grab him, draw his sword, and shove it straight into the man’s gut.

The life drained out of him as he pulled his sword out and dropped him to the ground. Somewhere in the trees Kirishima was watching, and that made all of this a little easier. He dragged the body into some tall grass to try and conceal it before he made his way back to the second entrance and hung out just out of view.

“Did you hear something?” He heard a male voice ask.

“I don’t know, Jeth went out there to take a piss. Maybe he’s got the shits now too,” another male voice.

“Maybe if he didn’t drink so goddamn much he wouldn’t have these problems,” the first voice pointed out, sounding exasperated.

“I have to go switch with Ven soon, he’s guarding the prisoners and he’s tired of dealing with them. Maybe I’ll go check on Jeth, he should be taking this post anyway,” the second voice said and Katsuki tensed.

“Yeah, whatever. Go check on his sorry ass if you want.”

He heard the sound of footsteps approaching and watched as one of the guards turned the corner. Their eyes met, but before he could sound the alarm Katsuki reached out and yanked him toward him just as an arrow nailed the guard in the throat. Katsuki’s sword slid into him as he pulled him close, then he yanked it back out and dropped him as unceremoniously as his other friend.

It was too close, there was no way he was going to be able to get another trap up on this entrance. He glanced back at the tree line for a second, before he lifted the most recently dead man and made his way back to the other entrance. He tossed the body out into the open with a dreary thud and then backed into the tall grass.

“The fuck?” He heard after a minute, then soon after that the jingling of bells as an alarm rose through the compound. It was now or never, and he crept back toward the second entrance hoping beyond hope that the body would lure guards to the trap and he would have a chance to slip in among the chaos. As an afterthought, he dropped down near Jeth’s body and yanked off his cloak, layering it over his own and pulling the hood up.

Near the second entrance, he heard a crackling explosion and the sound of multiple distressed voices and cries of pain. He chanced a single glance back over his shoulder and just around the bend he could barely see an arrow flying through the sky to strike a guard on the upper platform. Good, it would keep them occupied.

He forewent any attempt at stealth and instead jogged straight into the second entrance. Inside he was faced with chaos, men and women in leathers running around as they raised their defenses. No one was guarding the immediate entrance, so he continued to jog like he was headed to his own post. His heart pounded as he passed by one bandit after another but they were all focused on the explosion and onslaught of arrows they weren’t paying attention to him.

Katsuki only stopped jogging when he ducked behind one of the structures that was tucked away from the chaos. He crouched down and once again pulled a bit of hound fur from his component pouch, hastily drawing the runes in the dirt around it as he infused it with magic. This fourth casting of his locate person spell drained more of his magic and he pushed through the ebbing exhaustion in the back of his mind.

He had to find them, even if it meant he would have to rely on his sword skills again. The spell went off and he felt the familiar tug in his mind. Scattering the remnants of the spell he turned and followed the pull.

Ducking along cabins and what passed as houses, he did his best to not catch too many eyes. The panic was wearing off as the bandits began to assemble their defenses, and out of the corner of his eye he saw archers on the platforms and interior guards with swords drawn. He’d been able to get in, but getting out was going to be tricky.

Regardless, he stumbled up next to a cabin and heard familiar voices inside through a window.

“Who do you think is attacking them?” It was Ochako’s voice, hushed, but Katsuki assumed they were likely alone if they were speaking so freely.

“I don’t know,” Tsuyu replied, her voice pained. Had she been further injured? Or perhaps her leg hadn’t been tended to. Shit, Katsuki really shouldn’t have left.

“Izuku,” he heard Ochako say, “come on wake up, something is happening,” her voice was laced with concern. Katsuki poked his head up over the lip of the window and quickly scanned the room. Tsuyu was injured, leg propped up on a chair and wrapped, but clearly bleeding. Her green skin, given her frog-person nature, looked pale, eyes half-open. Her hands were bound to the chair she was sitting on.

Ochako was in a better state, not visibly injured except for a growing bruise on her face where she’d likely been clocked. Her hands were bound and she was staring at Deku, who laid on the ground clearly unconscious. Blood dripped from his temple and he looked almost as pale as Tsuyu. Katsuki had to get them out of there. He crept around to the door and tested it, but it was locked. He scowled, then pressed his hand against the handle and muttered a spell. The lock clicked open, though his limbs felt heavy as he pushed open the door.

Ochako immediately looked at him. “Please, you have to help our friend,” she paused, her eyes narrowed in thought, “Bakugo?”

He pulled off the hood and shut the door behind him, crossing the distance to Deku. Kneeling down he touched the wound on his head and Deku groaned in unconscious pain. One he could probably drag out of this place, but unless Ochako could lift the other, their escape was looking more and more desperate by the moment.

“Shit,” Katsuki hissed as he tried to think through their options. They could make a run for it, out the second entrance where he’d come in, but that seemed risky. Odds were the bandits had enough time to seal off that entrance, and they were in no position to fight. Thankfully their packs and weapons were in the room, but Deku and Tsuyu were in no shape to lift them. Ochako was quick with a dagger, but she worked best in stealth situations, not something like this.

“Untie us,” Ochako said with an urgency in her voice, “focus on that first.”

She was right. He scowled at her anyway, but pulled a dagger from her weapons belt on a nearby table and set to freeing her. She grabbed another and went to cut Tsuyu’s bindings off while Katsuki cut Deku free.

“We’ll have to make a run for it,” Katsuki said as he lifted Deku into his arms, “can you carry Tsuyu?”

“I don’t need to be carried,” she croaked and lifted up onto unsteady legs. Her injured one gave out almost immediately and Ochako grabbed her to keep her upright.

“Whatever,” Katsuki rolled his eyes, “limp along and get caught, that’s on you.” Gods, Deku was heavier than he remembered him being. He shifted him in his arms, carrying him bridal style with Deku’s head against his shoulder. It would have to do.

“I’ll lead us back toward where I came in. We’ll likely have to fight our way out,” he admitted, “but we can’t just sit here.”

Ochako nodded, Tsuyu swayed on her feet and was eventually lifted despite her complaints after their stuff was gathered, armor and weapons back in place. Katsuki opened the door and they began their retreat.

Of course they were noticed almost immediately, cries of ‘intruders!’ and ‘there they are!’ ringing through the air. He ran in spite of it, in spite of his sore legs and sore back, in spite of how heavy Deku was in his arms. It hurt, his lungs burned, but this was his fault and he had to lead them out.

They were surrounded pretty quickly, despite seeing the exit, bows and swords drawn and pointed.

“Give up you little shits,” a large, surly man snapped, “otherwise we’ll skewer you.”

Katsuki was about to set Deku down and draw his sword when he heard screams erupt around them. A shadow fell over the camp and he glanced up and saw a large red dragon soaring above. Fire shot from his mouth in a searing line along the other half of the bandit camp and Katsuki heard tortured screams and the sound of wood cracking and breaking.

“What the fuck?” The same surly man said, but Katsuki could hear fear in his voice now and watched as he dropped his sword. “It is a fucking dragon! Run!” He bolted, his people following suit. Katsuki stared back up at Kirishima’s massive form in the sky and knew he should be frightened, too. Something in the back of his brain screamed that dragons were bad, that he should run, but he knew he didn’t need to.

Kirishima was there to protect them, and the bite on the back of his shoulder stung with that truth as he turned and continued to run for the now clear entryway.

“Stop staring at the dragon and move, Ochako!” Katsuki shouted over his shoulder, all too aware that she and Tsuyu were just as vulnerable to dragon fear as anyone was. Despite his shout, she continued to stand and stare, so he deposited Deku just outside of the gate and ran back in to drag her and Tsuyu both out.

It seemed to break whatever fear was there, because once they were outside the gates Ochako’s eyes cleared and Katsuki picked Deku back up. They made a dash for the trees and the sounds of chaos and cries of fear faded out behind them. Once they made it deep enough into the treeline, Katsuki set Deku down again and then dropped to sit on the ground, his body exhausted and overtaxed.

“What was that?” Ochako asked as she maneuvered Tsuyu to sit on a tree stump.

“Kirishima,” Katsuki replied with a shrug, “a friend.”

“Is that where you went? Off to find a dragon?” Ochako’s voice was filled with disbelief and just a touch of anger. “Glad you went off on this great fun adventure after you abandoned us!”

Katsuki’s lips curled into a snarl as he got back onto his feet, “want to say that again, chipmunk cheeks? That dragon just fucking saved your asses thanks to me.”

“Well maybe we wouldn’t have needed saving if you hadn’t walked off like the stubborn ass you are!” Ochako shouted, quieted only when Tsuyu reached for her hand and squeezed it. “We were going to be killed,” she said softly and looked at the ground, “and we thought maybe you were already dead somewhere.”

Sighing, Katsuki turned his back to her and crossed his arms over his chest. He glared into the dark of the woods, exhaustion and anger fighting within him. He didn’t know which would win. Ochako didn’t say anything more though, merely tended to Tsuyu and then to Deku, shoving a bed roll under his head to try and make the forest floor a little more comfortable.

After what seemed like hours, which was only about twenty minutes, Katsuki turned as he heard someone approaching. He drew his sword but relaxed when he recognized bright red hair and piercing ruby red eyes. Kirishima was flushed, naked from the waist up but had somehow retrieved his pants after his transformation. He also had his bow and quiver over his shoulder.

He walked up to Katsuki first, hands outstretched as he grabbed his shoulders and then pulled him into a tight embrace. Katsuki sheathed his sword and leaned into it, even though he knew Ochako and Tsuyu were right there watching. He pressed his face into the curve of Kirishima’s neck and inhaled, the scent of campfire and incense comforting and familiar.

“It is taking everything in me not to throw you down and claim you right here,” Kirishima rumbled into his ear, “that did not go according to plan.”

“Sure it fucking did, we got in and got out, didn’t we?” He mumbled back without any heat, suddenly very tired now that Kirishima was there.

“Going to introduce us, Bakugo?” Ochako asked, and Katsuki grimaced.

He did introduce Kirishima to the group, right before he transformed again and carried the four of them back to the cavern. Instead of shifting at the mouth of the passageway, Kirishima tucked his massive wings against his sides and ducked down to crawl through it. Suddenly the inconsistencies Katsuki noticed the first time he walked through it made sense, Kirishima needed to be able to come in and out in either form.

Katsuki explained exactly as much as he needed to in order to quell Ochako’s curiosity, ending their conversation with a curt reminder that they were safe and could stay as long as they needed to in order to mend. Kirishima left them for a short time to go hunting again, and while Deku and Tsuyu continued to rest, Ochako and Katsuki ate and pointedly didn’t speak. Kirishima watched with vibrant, curious eyes, but did not provoke conversation either.

Ochako bedded down to rest, but Katsuki remained by the fire. Kirishima scooted over to sit beside him.

“Are you alright, little human?” He asked as he leaned in to nuzzle at his jaw. Katsuki closed his eyes and leaned into the attention.

“Yeah, whatever,” he shrugged and decided not to pull away when Kirishima’s arm draped around his middle and pulled him close.

“I can smell your stress and I don’t particularly like it,” Kirishima admitted as his teeth worried what would likely be a mark onto the side of Katsuki’s neck. “Will you sleep with me tonight?”

Katsuki glanced at his companions, asleep on their bedrolls near their gear, then at Kirishima. “I can’t let them out of my fucking sight, they’ll probably wander off and get captured again or whatever.”

“Then I will sleep right here, with you.”

They curled back up on the blankets together, Kirishima assuming the same position as earlier, his body wrapped around Katsuki’s from behind. It reminded him of the sensation of being full, connected, and it wasn’t even an arousing thought as much as a soothing one. He could smell Kirishima, too, and the scent lulled him as it always did. It mingled with his exhaustion and he knew Kirishima said something as he drifted off, but he couldn’t recall exactly what it was.

Come morning, Katsuki woke still curled up with Kirishima who hummed in greeting as he nuzzled into Katsuki’s shoulder.

“Do you actually sleep?” he asked, and Kirishima chuckled.

“A little, I don’t need a lot.”

Katsuki allowed consciousness to come to him slowly, eyes finally opening to take in the dim light of morning. He glanced over toward his friends. Ochako was still asleep, now tangled delicately around Tsuyu, but Deku was sitting up on his bedroll staring right at Kirishima and Katsuki.

“The fuck you looking at, Deku?” He snapped and rolled in Kirishima’s embrace to put his back to Deku.

“You should see to your friend,” Kirishima whispered in his ear, “I will work on tracking down a meal.” He pulled away and Katsuki immediately missed the warmth, but he watched Kirishima stand and go to gather what he needed to hunt. Once he was gone, Katsuki rolled up onto his feet and pulled his cloak around his shoulders. He walked over to Deku and sat down on his bedroll, purposely knocking their shoulders together.

“I see your dumbass head is still attached,” he said in way of greeting and scowled when Deku offered him one of his usual bright smiles.

“Thankfully, I’m grateful we invested in some healing drafts.” He paused, “I see you have quite the adventure, too,” and he cast a significant look at Katsuki’s neck which was no doubt littered with marks.

“Yeah, well, whatever,” he glared at the floor. “I think I might have fucked things up by having him help me. People might come looking for him now.”

“You could ask him to travel with us.” Deku said it like it was the simplest solution, despite those words casting Katsuki’s mind into chaos. A number of denials came to him. No, he wouldn’t want to leave and No, he’s got more important things to do, and No I don’t give a shit about him that much, but none of them were spoken. They died as soon as he tried to move his mouth to make them.

Deku bumped their shoulders together and Katsuki glared at him, met once again with a smile. “Talk to him about it. I don’t think we’ll start heading out until the afternoon anyway, we have to give Tsuyu another healing draft to get her leg back up to snuff.”

Katsuki nodded but otherwise said nothing as he and Deku sat on the bedroll and watched the morning roll on. Eventually Kirishima returned, this time with fowl instead of rabbit, and set about plucking and cooking the meat. Tsuyu and Ochako woke up and ate with the group around the fire, and Deku made quiet conversation with Kirishima while Katsuki watched them speak.

Jealous flared inside of him whenever something Deku said made Kirishima smile.

The morning wore on as the party licked their wounds and waited for the healing magic of the draft to seal up the rest of Tsuyu’s injuries. Kirishima caught Katsuki’s eyes and smiled, then motioned with his head toward the pool. Katsuki stood and followed him, but they didn’t stop. Kirishima led him down one of the passageways and once they were out of view pressed Katsuki up against the wall and kissed him.

They stayed like that for a few minutes, exchanging hot presses of lips and tongue, hands roaming, hips pressing. Then Kirishima pulled back and stared into Katsuki’s eyes.

“You’re going to leave soon,” he said and Katsuki noted the pull of a frown at the corner of his mouth.

“Yeah, we have to. We’ve got a payment we’re late to collect and potentially another job,” he glanced away.

“I will be sorry to see you go,” and he sounded like that was true, the same note of loneliness Katsuki had heard before slipping in. His heart pounded against his chest as the offer sprang to his lips.

“You could come with us.”

There. He’d said it, he’d made the offer, and Katsuki braced for the rejection. He refused to look at Kirishima until fingertips against his jaw pressed and turned his face back to meet those bright red eyes. “What if I said maybe?” Kirishima asked quietly and Katsuki swore his heart was in his throat now. “I will not leave with you when you go this afternoon but perhaps I could meet up with you. This place will likely not be safe for long,” he paused, “would you really have me, Katsuki? If my nature is discovered I would put your party at great risk.”

Katsuki scoffed. “We already put ourselves at risk, have you seen us? Bunch of fucking morons. You could join us, you’d fit right in.”

Kirishima’s lips quirked into a smile. “You’re headed to the settlement two days travel from here, yes? Carclton, I believe. Give me five days, allow me to think, and I will see if it is possible to come to you.”

That was hardly the assurance Katsuki had hoped for, but it was better than an outright rejection. He could feel his emotional armor creeping back up, settling into place so in five days when Kirishima didn’t show up in Carclton it wouldn’t hurt as much as he knows it will.

“Have faith, magic-user,” Kirishima murmured in his ear, breath hot and tempting, “I’m not entirely keen on giving you up.”

They parted after that, Katsuki returning to the party and Kirishima trailing behind to wish them well on their way. He made sure they were stocked with a days worth of food and pointed them in the right direction. Katsuki didn’t kiss him farewell, didn’t touch him, he merely nodded as he shouldered his bag and he and his party made their way to Carclton.

Two nights on the road and a couple of nights in the settlement left Katsuki with the feeling that it had all been a dream. If it weren’t for the bruised bite on the back of his shoulder he could see if he tilted a mirror just right, maybe he would have believed it to have been one. The rest of his party were grateful for the chance to relax after they collected their substantial coin for a job well done, so it didn’t take much convincing to get them to stay at the settlement.

Only Deku seemed to pick up on the real reason why, and found Katsuki staring out the window of their shared room toward the road.

“I know you don’t generally care about what I think,” Deku started, and Katsuki snorted and shot him a look, “but I think he’ll come.”

“The fuck you even know about it, Deku?” Katsuki asked, allowing the bitterness he felt over pending rejection permeate every word. “He’s a dragon that’s hundreds of years old, why the fuck would he travel with a bunch of fuck-ups like us?”

“Because despite your prickly nature, Kaachan,” Katsuki scowled at the use of the nickname, “he likes you. It was obvious. What’s a few years, or decades even, of traveling with us to someone like that? He’d be stupid not to come.”

Katsuki ignored just how warm Deku’s faith in his worth made him. Instead he scoffed, “must be nice to always have your head in the clouds.”

“I hope he comes,” Deku said, ignoring the comments, “you looked happy with him, you deserve more of that.” Then he turned and left the room, leaving Katsuki to his dark and stormy thoughts.

On the fifth day, Katsuki sat downstairs in the tavern attached to the inn they were staying in. Deku, Tsuyu, and Ochako had gone out on a short mission to help some rangers with a pest problem on the roads. Katsuki had begged off, they were more than capable, not that he told them that, and a small part of him still hoped Kirishima would show up.

It grew late into the evening and Katsuki sat at a table with his head on his arms, dozing. He tried all day to have faith, but as the sun faded and evening patrons slipped into the tavern, he began to believe faith was stupid. There was no way someone like Kirishima would want him, not in any meaningful way.

“Well this is awkward,” he heard a familiar voice at the edge of his doze, though wasn’t quite awake enough to process it, “you see I’m looking for some friends and I believe this is the inn they are supposed to be staying at. I’m afraid I just don’t know what name they would have given.”

Katsuki shot up and nearly knocked his chair back as he twisted his body and was on his feet in no time looking for the source of the voice. His stomach twisted, heart beating against his ribs as his eyes found who he was looking for. Kirishima stood at the bar counter dressed in leather armor, his bow and quiver slung across his back. His red hair was spiked again, and he was rubbing the back of his head and offering the bartender a sheepish, toothy grin.

“Yo, asshole!” Katsuki shouted across the tavern and it quieted the patrons who were there who now stared. Kirishima turned and his sheepish smile turned into a more genuine one.

He glanced at the bartender and offered a bow of his head. “I think I’ve found who I was looking for, thank you.”

Katsuki was still as he watched Kirishima approach. When he was close enough he resisted the urge to grab him. “You came.”

“I told you to have faith,” Kirishima pointed out, and Katsuki caught the familiar smell of campfire and incense. “Of course I came.”

Katsuki glanced around and while most patrons had returned to their conversations, a few continued to watch them.

“And you’re staying?” Katsuki’s heart continued to thud against his insides, like a prisoner banging on the bars of a cell trying to break free.

“I’m staying,” and Kirishima offered him a brilliant smile.

Katsuki wasted little time, grabbing Kirishima’s hand and dragging him up to the room. Deku could sleep with the girls for all he cared, because he was determined to show Kirishima just how much staying meant to him. Where words failed, perhaps his actions could prevail.

Long into the night, after barking at Deku to get the fuck out when he tried to enter the room and immediately turned tail, Katsuki laid in Kirishima’s arms. He was exhausted, sore, and full, both of them still connected with sweat drying on their skin.

“You know, little human,” Kirishima began, pausing to press a series of soft kisses to Katsuki’s shoulder, “I’d like to hear you cry out my name when we’re together.”

In the haze of post-fucking, Katsuki couldn’t quite make sense of it. “Kirishima?”

“Eijirou,” he corrected, “Eijirou Kirishima.”

“Names have power,” Katsuki mumbled, “stupid to give a magic user your true name.”

Kirishima, now Eijirou - which would take some getting used to - laughed and nuzzled his jaw. “I think I’ll be alright.”

“Mm, what gives you that fucking idea?”

“The fact that right now, little human, I am in possession of your full name, and currently have myself buried inside of you,” Katsuki felt him smirk against his skin.

“Whatever,” Katsuki scoffed, “that’s nothing.”

“Oh, nothing is it?” Katsuki was pushed gently by Kirishima’s bulk onto his stomach, pinned by the temptingly warm body above him. Kirishima rolled his hips and Katsuki arched his back and cried out in surprise as he felt his still-hard cock pulse inside of him.

“Eijirou,” Katsuki breathed out and rolled his hips back into Kirishima, groaning at the tug and pressure of the knot inside of him.

Say it again,” Kirishima growled as he rolled his hips and drew another strangled, desperate sound from Katsuki’s throat.

“Eijirou,” he whined, “fuck.”

“Good,” Kirishima kissed the newly re-made mark on the back of Katsuki’s shoulder, tongue darting out to swipe over the abused skin.

Katsuki decided then and there that this was something he could get used to. Kirishima worked him through another orgasm, this one heavy and less desperate than the ones that came before. Thoroughly exhausted, Katsuki brought Kirishima’s hand to his mouth and pressed a kiss to the back of it. Kirishima rumbled contentedly behind him.

“Rest,” he insisted.

“And you’ll be here when I wake up?” Katsuki mumbled through the haze of sleep.

“For as long as you’ll have me.”

Katsuki planned to have him for as long as he could.