Chapter 1: Honolulu
The boys land on America for the first time, and enjoy some sun, surf, and sketchy flea market hawkers.
Kirishima hadn't been presented with much of a choice. Bakugo didn't leave any room for argument, just shoved a plane ticket into his hands and told him “You're coming.” Luckily Kirishima didn't have anything planned for the summer, and while he had hoped to spend some of it with Bakugo, he hadn't expected Bakugo to come to him. The boy had taken Kirishima mountain climbing a few times before, and even camping once. Camping and hiking were the most peaceful times Kirishima ever spent with Bakugo. Something about the wide open spaces made even Lord Explosion Murder feel small and quiet, and Kirishima felt lucky Bakugo wanted to share that silence with him. But those were just weekend trips. Kirishima wasn't sure he could keep his mouth shut for a whole month in America. A whole month!
“Welcome to Honolulu International Airport,” a friendly-sounding female voice called over the PA system, swiftly repeating in Chinese, Japanese, and then Korean. Kirishima couldn't contain his sharky smile.
“First steps on foreign soil, bro!” he proclaimed proudly, nudging Bakugo with an elbow. The blonde shrugged off his headphones, letting them rest around his neck like a collar, and narrowed his eyes at his friend.
“You've never even been over to China?” Bakugo asked incredulously, hefting his backpack over one shoulder. He liked using just one strap; Bakugo was too cool for both straps. Undaunted, Kirishima shook his head. Bakugo smacked his forehead in exasperation. “Just don't be weird, alright?”
As they filed out of the jetway and into the terminal, Kirishima couldn't help but be a little surprised. Bakugo, worried about being embarrassed in front of foreigners? Well, technically they were the foreigners here, but the point remained. Kirishima wasn't sure if he'd ever seen Bakugo be openly concerned about what others thought of him, strangers, no less.
The thought was driven from his mind when the pair spilled out into the terminal from the boarding ramp. Kirishima didn't consider himself sheltered by any means, but he had never seen such a crowd. There were so many people! There were many familiar Asian complexions, given it was the terminal for incoming and outgoing east Asian flights, but in addition to their native Japanese, there were faces that were clearly recognizable as Chinese or Korean, and oh, the others! Europeans, Africans, new and interesting colors of tan, some people with physically-apparent quirks, and some who were simply oddly colored, like Ashido; it was so much to take in, and Kirishima looked around with wide-eyed enthusiasm. There was so much English all over the place, too! He was glad he was there with Bakugo, who always did far better in English than Kirishima did. His train of thought was interrupted slightly by a whack to the abs. Hard enough to get his attention, but not hard enough to hurt. The Bakugo Special.
“Stop looking around like a toddler, dude,” Bakugo mumbled chidingly, his face flushing. “We gotta check into our hotel, anyway.”
Since he was a less-experienced traveler, as well as someone who didn't mind going with the flow, Kirishima allowed himself to be led out of the terminal, and through the miniature subway the airport used to transfer people between terminals. When the doors to the monorail opened, he was hit with a blast of wet, sticky, warm air. Holy crap, Hawai'i was hot! Bakugo silently wove through the throngs of travellers with practiced ease, leaving poor Kirishima to dance around them in a clumsy pursuit, his bags haphazardly buffeting less cautious travellers.
When they finally reached the shuttle bus station, Bakugo sat down on one of the benches, cradling his duffle bag on his lap and making certain to check his backpack every minute or so. It was a nervous tic he had, that any bag, pocket, or even wallet had to be checked multiple times. Kirishima dropped his own bags and flopped down to sit next to his best friend, still barely containing his grin. The sky looked the same as it did over Japan, but the palm trees waving in the breeze and the faint smell of the sea made Kirishima's head fill with all sorts of ukelele jingles, the kind from commercials and cartoons. He wasn't just in America, he wasn't just in Hawai'i, he was here with his best friend. It made Kirishima's head swim like he was in a dream.
“Thanks, bro,” he said, glad he meant enough to Bakugo that he was invited--er, pressganged. Surprisingly, Bakugo didn't sound annoyed when he responded.
“Well, I mean, you proved yourself when we did Mt. Fuji,” Bakugo said matter-of-factly. “Diamondhead is a pretty tough climb, but I think you could keep up. If we were doing it the old-fashioned way.”
His tone was neutral, but Kirishima knew in Bakugo's book that was about as good as jumping for joy. Kirishima knew Bakugo didn't like showing it, but he was glad his friend was looking forward to a good time. He always got less talkative when he was hiking around, but when he did, he seemed less ready to bite people's heads off than usual. It was jarring, but Kirishima thought Bakugo was downright pleasant when in his element.
“Aww, man, that would have been such a cool hero name!” Kirishima pouted.
“What, Diamondhead?” Bakugo asked incredulously.
“Yeah, cuz, you know, I can make my head as hard as a diamond,” Kirishima supplied. Bakugo buried his face in his palm, but said nothing.
When their bus arrived, Bakugo and Kirishima were the only passengers. The driver asked them something in English that Kirishima didn't understand. What Kirishima did understand was that Bakugo stiffened and clammed up. He was too nervous to use his English, even though he was, by all accounts, not bad at the strange tongue. Not as good as Yaomomo or, weirdly, Kaminari, but still better than most in their class. It surprised Kirishima that the boy was nervous.
“Where you headed?” the driver asked again, this time in Japanese. Bakugo flushed and hid his face, but Kirishima proudly told the driver where they were staying, and then they were on their way. Kirishima's face was practically glued to the window. Passing through downtown Honolulu shattered the illusion of an island paradise a little bit, but all the sights and sounds were intoxicating. Still, though, he was a little concerned for his friend.
“Hey Bakugo?” Kirishima said, eyes still darting between pedestrians and street signs, doing his best to read all the Roman characters all over the place.
“What?” Bakugo asked flatly. No insults! His good mood must still be intact. Kirishima smiled.
“Hey, are you… nervous about speaking English?” Kirishima asked with concern. It wasn't like Bakugo to freeze up like that. Sure, sometimes he had the odd panic attack, but only over the big things in his life. Namely his future as a hero. But Kirishima had always admired Bakugo's decisiveness in most things he did. It was manly as heck!
Bakugo, to Kirishima's surprise, didn't curse him out or snap back with something witty. Instead, he slouched down in the bus seat a little bit and avoided eye contact by looking out the window.
“I'm not fluent, so I don't want to embarrass myself by trying,” he admitted, the faintest hint of red coloring his cheeks. He always had been a perfectionist.
“But dude, your English is like… really good, though,” Kirishima pointed out supportively. Bakugo groaned.
“Yeah, but like… it's their country, I don't wanna be the shitty foreigner who fucks up and says the wrong thing,” Bakugo croaked. It was surprisingly considerate, for him, if a little misguided.
“Dude, nahhhhh,” Kirishima chided good-naturedly. “You know how adorable it is when an Australian tries to speak Japanese at you back home?”
“It's not adorable. I mean, I’m not --” Bakugo sputtered, and Kirishima laughed.
"No worries, bruh,” Kirishima said in English, an absolute Present Mic-ism shamelessly stolen from their bombastic English teacher. Even Bakugo couldn't stifle a tiny smirk at Kirishima’s delivery.
What seediness in downtown Honolulu had caused Kirishima apprehension melted away as their bus drove into Waikiki. The stylized hotels, the gleaming glass boutiques and high rises, it was like a very nice neighborhood in Tokyo with a tropical white sand beach a hundred yards away. There were masses of tourists, some happily using their quirks to get around. One man flew by on large eagle’s wings, and a black woman stretched along on elastic legs, high above the crowd.
“Welcome to America,” Bakugo said, glee apparent in his voice. Noting Kirishima's confusion, Bakugo pointed vigorously at the crowd, random quirks going off everywhere, “Here there's only one law regarding using quirks,” Bakugo explained, grinning maniacally. “Use your quirk all you want, as long as you don't break anything or hurt anyone!”
Kirishima's confused frown widened into an enthusiastic sharktoothed grin. His skin hardened and he punched at Bakugo's arm excitedly. Bakugo expertly dodged, and took it for what it was.
“I'm gonna blast my way up Diamondhead,” he said with determination, his eyes wide and his grin manic.
America. Land of the free. Home of nearly half of the global top one hundred heroes. While All Might had been the global number one spot once, now it was a fierce battle for the spot between a few Chinese and American heroes, and one German, even. Why so many Americans? Because this place let you go wild training your quirk. As long as a kid didn't hurt anyone's stuff, or people themselves, they could gain massive amounts of experience just by going to a public park or schoolyard playground.
It was heaven to Bakugo. Once they checked into their hotel, dropped off their things, and lathered up in sunscreen, they raced like madmen to the water, where there was nobody around to be hurt by Bakugo's quirk when he fired it off far enough out from shore to get airborne. Bakugo was a newly minted eighteen year old, and thanks to where his birthday fell on the calendar, he was the oldest of their year. Over the summer before their third year, Bakugo had upgraded his provisional licence to a full-fledged Pro Hero license. That was recognized worldwide as a “I can fuck around with my quirk” pass, regardless of which country issued the license. Kirishima was still provisional, only seventeen himself, though he'd seen just as much action as Bakugo had.
Diving into the water, they swam out from shore, until they finally rested about two hundred meters out. Giggling like naughty children, they knew how it would go down. Bakugo would launch them airborne and they would fly to the mountain. It would be like riding a roller coaster for Kirishima. And it gave him some hug time with his best bro, since he had to hang on somehow.
“I wish I could use my quirk, dude,” Kirishima said, sound bummed out. He floated a little lower in the water dejectedly. He always felt his quirk had been kind of lame, even when everyone assured him it wasn't. Bakugo could fly. He could destroy buildings. Kirishima could use a rocklike body to… withstand stuff?
“You'll get to at some point,” Bakugo said, in such a good mood that he was finally free to do as he pleased, finally unrestricted, he sounded almost consoling. His life up until the pro hero exam had felt stifling, but now he felt like a terrible weight had been lifted.
“Aww, alright dude,” Kirishima said, his puppylike optimism returning his good spirits. A few nice words from Kacchan meant the world to him. He swam over to Bakugo with a grin and wrapped his arms around his best friend's neck. Just as they were ready to blast off, Bakugo recoiled.
"Dude. Did you touch my foot?” Bakugo asked, his voice tense.
“What? Nah, bro, I-” Kirishima said before being jerked to attention by a sandpapery feeling on his foot. Instinctively he hardened his leg, and his quick reaction saved the limb.
“THERE'S A FREAKIN’ SHARK, BRO!” Kirishima cried in panic, hardening his whole body as the bull shark bit down harder on his calf, trying to shake the boy loose, but nothing could hurt his toughened skin, tougher than steel. He couldn't help himself but scream at the feeling of being pulled down towards the depths by the shark.
“HOLY FUCK!” Bakugo shouted when he felt the thrashing fish against his leg as it tried to eat Kirishima. “Hold on!” he ordered and blasted all three of them out of the water.
Kirishima wailed in terror, his grip as strong as iron on Bakugo's neck, but he had left the skin on his inner arms soft, so as not to hurt Bakugo. He'd really improved his control over his quirk. Still, he was squealing like a baby as they flew through the air, and Bakugo couldn't stand it. He turned back and blasted at Kirishima's leg, blowing the creature clean off and into the ocean below. It collided with the water with a huge splash, and swam away grumpily.
Bakugo exploded them all the way up the mountain, Kirishima laughing like a little kid as he hung on for dear life. His laughter meant something to Bakugo. He wasn't sure what, exactly, but it didn't annoy him like most other people's laughter did. That was confusing. But then again, Kirishima was here because he annoyed Bakugo the least. When they finally landed on top of the mountain, they both threw out a massive high five and slammed each other's hands with a satisfying crack and some smoke pouring from between their palms, courtesy of Bakugo’s quirk. They cried out in elation, utterly pumped that they had done something so cool, just for fun.
The feeling didn't last long.
The police cars surrounded them as they broke off their bro-hug, both of them flustered at being observed. The police officer spoke to them in English.
“What the hell is going on here?” he called, stomping up to them. Bakugo froze and didn't meet the man's gaze. Kirishima's English was worse than Bakugo's, but he spoke up first.
“He a pro hero! We almost get eaten by… Anooo, oi, Bakugo, samei-ka?… a big fish!” he said, struggling to find words, nudging a mute Bakugo for help.
“Is that true?” the officer asked nodding to Bakugo. Bakugo pulled out his wallet and handed the man his pro hero license. The man whistled and laughed handing it back.
“And who's he?” the cop asked Bakugo, pointing to Kirishima.
“My intern,” he said suddenly. “I have my own agency.”
“No foolin’? Shit, son, my bad,” the cop responded, shrugging. After Kirishima recovered from the sudden shock of being called Bakugo's intern, which made him feel kind of weird, he picked some of the shark teeth out of his leg, which was still rock hard. He softened his skin, and the rest of the teeth fell out, and Kirishima stooped to collect them.
“What are these?” he politely asked the policeman, who had already dismissed the other cars.
“Shark teeth,” he responded evenly. “I see how you'd be useful as an intern now, not many people can go up against a quirk-positive shark and live.”
“Quirk positive?” Bakugo asked. The cop just pointed to the teeth kirishima was holding, and pointed to their serrated edges, which moved in a sawing motion back and forth. Kirishima dropped the teeth and shuddered.
“Bruh,” Kirishima said, emulating Present Mic. Bakugo laughed and shoved him. The police office shook his head and started back towards his car.
“Still think you got a lame quirk?” Bakugo asked, switching back to Japanese. Kirishima knew better than to argue, simply flushing with embarrassment and throwing a shark tooth at Bakugo.
"You know, I did think of something we can do," Kirishima said, a naughty grin adorning his face. "I can harden up and stuff… Why not use me as a surfboard? You can blast us along real fast and I'll skim across the water like a rock!"
Bakugo was quiet for a moment, before clapping Kirishima on the shoulder.
"I think that may have been the best idea you've ever had," he said, Sparta-kicking Kirishima onto his front and hopping on his back, using the caldera of Diamondhead as a ramp to launch into the sea with a consistent stream of thrust from his hands. Kirishima cackled like a hyena as Bakugo outstripped a group of speedboats on their way west. They figured out they could turn pretty easily just by Kirishima dipping a foot in the water like directional braking. They made great time around the island, seeing sea turtles on the north shore and ripping past Pearl Harbor.
They surfed around all afternoon before lunch. Bakugo looked so happy and so tired. He nonchalantly crackled small sparks in his hands in the middle of the sidewalk, and nobody batted an eye. It made Kirishima happy to see him so free and easy. Bakugo had once described not being able to use his quirk reflexively was as difficult as being told not to ever use one of his arms. He could do it, but it was annoying and sometimes he slipped up.
Bakugo led them to a restaurant. Some kind of chintzy Americana place. They were both too pleasantly exhausted to care where it was, they had all month to hit up somewhere nice. Bakugo had insisted on taking care of all the expenses for the trip, since the trip itself was a signing bonus from a support company for an advertising spot. Bakugo won the contract and in addition to royalties, he won a free vacation.
Pleasantly drowsy, they ordered ice coffee to wake back up, along with a platter of random fried things to get some calories. Quirk use burned calories like no other kind of exercise, and they were both happy to gorge on fried mozzarella and jalapeño peppers. Waking back up with the introduction of caffeine, they discussed plans for the night.
“Alright, Sharkbait, what are we doing tonight? We did my thing all day, now it's your turn,” Bakugo asked. He didn't look thrilled at the prospect, but he seemed to be amenable to being nice, even considerate for once. Kirishima was enjoying Bakugo's American spirit.
“Well, we pretty much did the manliest thing we could do all day, so… How about we do something lame instead… Want to hit a night market?” he asked hopefully. Bakugo didn't like the idea of running around shopping, but he figured there might be some cool souvenirs. They were only going to be in Hawaii for another two days, then it was off to Los Angeles. It was a pretty comprehensive trip for a signing bonus, but Yutani holdings Corp had really wanted his likeness.
“You know what? Sure, we can do that for a little while,” he said, popping a jalapeño in his mouth and chewing jauntily through a grin. He expression became serious as he swallowed, and pointed to Kirishima sternly. “Just a little while, okay?”
“You got it, bro,” Kirishima said with a smile. They finished up and wandered out into the fading light, walking around until they found a night market. It was huge. There were stalls, proper stores, kiosks, people hawking junk next to stores selling rare jewelry. It reminded Kirishima of drawings he'd seen of ancient China, but with electricity. And quirks. One vendor in particular caught his eye. He pulled Bakugo by the wrist away from a shady guy with giant parrots and toward a specific stall which was nothing more than a storage trailer. Inside were shelves upon shelves of old electronics, old hero memorabilia, and an odd assortment of exotic weapons.
“What, you planning on becoming a mall ninja or something?” Bakugo asked disparagingly, eyeing the highly impractical and cheap stamped designs with disdain. Stain probably got his kit from a place like this.
“Nah bro, check it out! Old video games, from back when they made physical copies,” Kirishima said enthusiastically. The shriveled old woman sitting in a lawn chair said something at them in Mandarin, but neither of them understood what she said. Kirishima smiled anyway. “See? Isn't this place cool?”
Bakugo didn't think it was cool at all. It was all worthless junk presided over by a hag, and the whole place reeked of cigarettes and rotten fruit. But Bakugo didn't say as much, simply shrugging. Let the puppy frolic, he figured.
“Holy crap, check it out, an original edition All Might lunchbox! Still wrapped!” Kirishima cried. That got Bakugo's attention. That must be worth a few hundred thousand yen. He watched Kirishima hand the woman a five dollar bill and was handed the lunchbox. Bakugo was surprised he had gotten such a bargain, but doubted Kirishima knew what it was actually worth. Following Kirishima into a nearby antique store, he watched the kid negotiate in shakey English for a nearly five thousand dollars. The store promptly bought the lunchbox and displayed it proudly in their window, complimenting its excellent condition.
Bakugo watched Kirishima walk away with a fat envelope of Benjamins, and felt his jaw hanging open in awe. He stumbled behind Kirishima, tripping over his words.
“Kirishima? How the fuck… How did you just… Make so much money…?” he asked, genuinely dumbfounded, considering telling kirishima to be an antiques guy instead of being a pro hero.
“Just lucky, all kinds of stuff comes off the boat here,” he said, handing Bakugo a hundred dollar bill and smiling wide. “Thanks for lunch, bro, but tonight, dinner's on me.”
Bakugo frowned. “Did you grow up hustling or some shit?” he asked.
Kirishima's smile faded. “I thought we agreed not to talk about how I grew up, Kacchan,” he said, sounding hurt and annoyed. Bakugo threw up his hands and rolled his eyes.
“Aight, fine, whatever Sharky-hair,” Bakugo spat. “I’ll drop it.”
Kirishima bought a few knick-knacks, and even a pair of Hawaiian pattern shirts for himself and Bakugo. Eventually he sat them down at a restaurant, a nice one, one where the tables had candles and the menus weren't even in English, instead printed in the fanciest of all languages, French. This was kind of place where people would have been smartly dressed, if most people there weren't on their vacations and as such wore casual clothing. It was jarring seeing hoity toity waitstaff in nice uniforms waiting on fat, middle aged peopld in Hawaiian shirts and sandals, but then again, their waiter had a squid for a head.
"Would monsieurs care for an aperitif?" he asked in a measured accent. Kirishima looked to Bakugo for translation, but he shook his head.
"Not twenty-one," he admitted.
"That isn't a problem for heroes, foreigners especially," the waiter replied dryly, his eyes fixed on the corner of Kirishima's provisional license peeking from his pocket.
"Still no," Bakugo insisted. Bakugo gave him their orders and leaned back in the booth's cushioned seat.
"No drinking, huh?" Kirishima asked, a hint of disappointment in his voice.
"Not here," Bakugo replied. "We spent all day in the sun wearing ourselves out. We'll hit up a club when we get to LA, hair-brain. Trust me, I wouldn't pass up an opportunity to see you more fucked up than Kaminari when he short-circuits."
Kirishima's sharky grin reappeared, relishing the prospect. He'd had a few small cups of hot sake on new year's eve, but never drank properly.
"D'you think we can do it out of red plastic cups, like on TV?" he asked hopefully. Bakugo barked a harsh chuckle.
"Come on, they don't actually do that."
Chapter 2: Los Angeles I
The boys land in California, and spend most of the chapter dealing with transportation.
" Kacchaaaannnnn whyyyyyyyyyy? " Kirishima whined plaintively as they sat trapped in the car rental place at Los Angeles International airport.
"She said they don't have a car for us yet," Bakugo said, jerking his head towards the terminally-apathetic woman behind the counter.
"But you made a reservation!" Kirishima contended. They'd called ahead to make certain they wouldn't be waiting.
"Yeah, but I don't think it means the same thing in English," Bakugo sighed, plopping down between his friend and his luggage. Leaning back in the chair, he blew upwards to get a lock of hair unstuck from his sweaty forehead. God damn was America hot. He was prepared for Hawaii being a tropical sort of hot, but Los Angeles just seemed like the inside of an oven. He had serious concerns about his sweat igniting accidentally and blowing him to smithereens.
"Why do they even let you make reservations if you still have to wait?" Kirishima complained, his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he fanned himself with a magazine. "C'mon dude, if this was Japan you'd be ripping her a new one."
Bakugo couldn't argue with that, but he was far more timid in English. Polyglots who learn languages instead of speaking them natively tend to have different speaking styles and personalities in different tongues, mostly due to confidence and a sort of post-pubescent Sapir-Worf effect. His English just wasn't as confident or explosive as his Japanese.
"So we're just stuck here?" Kirishima prompted.
"Yeah, what the fuck do you want me to do, blast her?" Bakugo retorted.
"Why not just blast us around like before? Why do we even need a car?" Kirishima suggested.
"Do you have any idea how tiring that would be? Especially carrying your chunky ass around," he said, a little harsher than he meant to. Luckily, Kirishima took it in stride.
"All muscle, bro!" he said, giving a half-hearted grin and patting his bicep. Bakugo drew his eyes away and fixed them someplace else.
"Mostly hair," he muttered, but he wasn't interested in pursuing the conversation further.
After an hour or so of them both catching up on social media (Mina and Kaminari were peppering them with questions and demanding pictures), they were all set with a car. Much to Kirishima's surprise, Bakugo tossed him the keys.
"You drive," Bakugo said flatly. Kirishima fumbled the keys before looking down at them, not the faintest idea how to even open the door.
"'I've never driven before," he said blankly, looking from the keys in his palm back up to his friend.
"I popped for the insurance policy," Bakugo replied, as if that were a satisfactory reply. "Besides, it's not that hard, you'll figure it out."
Kirishima looked back down at the keys for a moment, but closed his hand into a fist of righteous excitement. Grinning wildly, he fist pumped; Bakugo had confidence in him! That was all it took to get him jazzed as hell. Somehow, he managed to make it out of the parking garage having knocked over only three traffic cones.
"Red light, red light!!!" Bakugo barked frantically as they approached an intersection, Kirishima still tapdancing on the gas doing 40. The redhead slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt just short of the white line. He turned to Katsuki, his smile a little shaky.
"See man, I got this!" he assured, but inside he was terrified. Maybe being dumped into LA traffic wasn't the best way to teach someone to drive, but it was Bakugo as hell to give someone a trial by fire that way.
"LA is, uh, a lot seedier than I expected," Bakugo commented, noting the cracked streets and litter. Honolulu had some rough-looking areas, but LA was on a whole different level. The shoulders of the streets were full of metal and plastic from cars, broken glass, and what Bakugo assumed were used syringes.
"It's not that bad," Kirishima replied. The other hero held his tongue. As if on cue, though, the car sputtered, shuddered, and died.
"The fuck did you do?" Bakugo asked sharply.
"I don't know bro, it just stopped!" Kirishima responded, turning the key. No sound whatsoever came from the engine, the silence filled with the angry honking of the cars behind them, and the strange beat of Latin music in the distance. Bakugo unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the door, letting in a blast of stiflingly hot air.
"Pop the hood," he said, more exasperated than annoyed, confident he could work out what the problem was. His confidence, however unfounded, was supremely reassuring to Kirishima. They were pro heroes, they didn't have much to fear from the slums of LA, even if half the culture here was based around underground free-quirk prizefighting. Kirishima had been shot quite a few times with not a scratch to show for it, and Bakugo... he could level the city if he wanted.
After poking around inside the engine compartment, Bakugo was thoroughly stumped. "What the fuck did you do, seriously?" he grunted in annoyance as the boys pushed the car around the corner into a mercifully-nearby gas station.
"I don't know man, it just stopped working. No lights came on or anything," he said, having taken careful note of all the needles and lights.
"Wait a fucking second," Bakugo said, hit with an idea like a bolt of lightning. Hopping in and turning the key, he found that the electrics worked fine, but the needles for speed and fuel stayed where they were. He smacked himself in the forehead, dragging his hand down his face.
"Do you know what cars run on?" he asked serenely. Kirishima felt his muscles stiffen in a way that had nothing to do with his quirk. Was it that simple?
"It didn't let me know we were running out!" he said defensively.
"E stands for 'empty,' hair-for-brains," Bakugo replied gruffly as he leaned on the open door to roll the car next to a pump. " Em-pu-ti, " he overenunciated on Japanese.
"Sorry bro, I'm not good with cars," Kirishima chagrined. "Speaking of, how did you learn? Like, how did you know there wasn't anything wrong with the car?"
Bakugo grimaced. "My old lady taught me."
Kirishima knew to leave that one alone. There were certain things bros didn't talk about. Shit that made them actually upset. Kirishima had his childhood, Bakugo had his relationship with his mother. Heck, even Mina, the queen of broken boundaries, had shit the rest of the squad didn't mess with, and she wasn't even a bro.
"At least we're already at the gas station," Kirishima mused, quickly changing the topic. Bakugo swiped his card at the pump and flicked it over the car to Kirishima in one smooth motion.
"Go grab some snacks or something, whatever's the most American-looking," he said. Kiri flashed him a thumbs up and tromped off to the convenience store. As he perused the shelves, Kirishima couldn't help but appreciate how much Bakugo has matured over the years. Sure, he was gruff, but it wasn't like their first year, where he would bite someone's head off for any little thing. He still felt like the same bad-boy, but someone who could actually be a hero. The vacation was doing wonders for his mood, too. Pretty much every time they were outside, he was crackling and popping away in his hands, finally free to express himself. Kirishima took a quick glance outside to ensure he wasn't about to blow up the gas station. He other boy leaned against the car, looking down at his phone. His casual ease, his effortless coolness… Kirishima had to shake his head to get the thoughts to go away.
Selecting some chips with big American flags on the bag as well as a pair of hot dogs for good measure, Kirishima made his way to the counter, and that's where the trouble started. It struck him as odd that the clerk was more or less in a cage; sometimes stores in Japan relied on the honor system, but here the clerk felt the need to cut themselves off due to crime. It made Kirishima feel dangerous, like a threat. He didn't like that feeling. He meekly placed the snacks on the little shelf as he swiped Bakugo's card. He was about to depart when a man with a handgun burst in. Pointing it at the clerk through his cage, the man shouted something in Spanish that Kirishima didn't understand. What he did understand was that his body moved without conscious thought.
Within seconds, the man was on the ground with Kirishima's knee in his stomach, snarling from within his ski mask. He shot Kirishima in the face, but the hero was far too tough for the bullets to do more than feel like a light shove due to kinetic force alone.
" Stop plea se," Kirishima said as the man struggled. The guy batted at Kirishima with extra-flexible limbs, likely his quirk, but the fight went out of him by the time Bakugo had arrived.
"Are you freakin' serious?" Bakugo sighed. "I'm on vacation, and now we're gonna have to deal with the police again. "
"Bro, I couldn't not," Kirishima chuckled, knowing full well that Bakugo's instincts would have kicked in too.
The clerk walked out from behind the cage and kicked the pinned man in the side, saying something passionate in Spanish. He pulled out his phone and within minutes, the police arrived. Once the would-be robbed was cuffed and safety in the back of a police cruiser, Bakugo had to do all the talking again. Kirishima was able to pick up a little more of it this time, as the responding officers seemed to speak mostly Spanish as well, so the English they used was simple enough for him to understand.
"Your friend stopped the bad guy?" they said to Bakugo, gesturing to Kirishima, whose arms were laden with copious amounts of free junk food that the clerk had insisted he take.
"Yeah, he just tackled him to the ground," Bakugo replied. "It wasn't a big deal. No need to go to court or anything, right? Do heroes have to go to court?"
"No, no court es necessario, " the officer said, "It's an open-shut case. But the gun has been fired nine times; they all missed your friend? The guy says he shot him. Is he okay?"
"Yeah, his quirk saved him. We're heroes," he said, hoping it would get them out if there even faster.
"You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means," the cop replied skeptically.
Kirishima saw Bakugo's face tighten, and knew he was biting his tongue. The blond shuffled over to Kirishima and shoved his hand into his jeans pocket as both Kirishima's hands were full with snacks, producing Kirishima's hero license in one hand and flashing his own in the other. Kirishima stumbled, flustered by the sudden feeling of Bakugo's hand on his thigh, and had to catch an errant bag of chips that fell from the pile in his arms.
"See? He-ro, " Bakugo said, a modicum of smugness creeping into his tone.
"Alright, alright, but I want him checked out real quick. Just to make sure," lady cop said, jerking her head towards the ambulance that was on the scene, her lips tight with foot-in-mouth.
"Yeah, yeah, sure," Bakugo acquiesced, stuffing Kirishima's license back into the other hero's pocket. Kirishima flinched slightly, already on-edge from residual adrenaline and the previous touch. It was a little much.
"Your blood pressure is really high," the EMT commented as he took the arm gauge off Kirishima's bicep. "You sure you're not in shock or anything?" he asked in just-okay Japanese.
"Nah, I probably just have that normally," Kirishima chuckled nervously, rubbing the back of his head to conceal his flush.
"Diagnostic is saying you're experiencing a spike testostero--hey, wait!" the EMT said as Kirishima popped up and power-walked over to the car.
Nope nope nope nopenopenope. Kirishima was getting out of there before it got even more awkward.
"M'all good bro let's get going," Kirishima said tersely, earning him a suspicious look from Bakugo.
"You're acting weird. If you're actually hurt, fucking say something. You got shot in the face nine times , Fitty . If you got a concussion or something, seriously… I care more about your health than a stupid vacation," he said, an earnest look on his face. Kirishima's ears felt warm and throbby, and he avoided Bakugo's gaze as he got back into the car, passenger side this time, with his backpack in his lap.
"Nah bro, I'm good, for real," he said, giving a big smile, but it looked forced. Bakugo looked around and did a half-hearted eye roll, but slouched into the driver's seat, and away they went.
The awkwardness deflated over time, and Bakugo proved to be a better driver than Kirishima. Nobody honked at him when he made turns, he didn't have any trouble figuring out which lane to get into, and he didn't even use the GPS since he could read the English street signs fast enough to know where he was going. It made Kirishima feel kind of weak. Bakugo was sort of just good at everything . Why was he even hanging out with a loser like him anywa--
"Stop it," Bakugo said, punctuating his point with a light elbow to the shoulder. "You're getting down on yourself. Stop."
"How did you--"
"You look like a puppy just got yelled at for crapping on the floor. You make this big sad eyes and stare off into space. What's the deal?" Bakugo asked, leaning his elbow on the door and propping up his head.
"Just… I'm sorry I'm not as cool as you, you know? I feel like a stooge or something," Kirishima replied dejectedly. "Like… you deserve a better best friend or something."
Bakugo nearly stopped the car, but found the wherewithal to keep driving. Taking his eyes from the road for a second, he looked Kirishima in the face, biting his lip as if he didn't know what to say.
"I hang out with you because I like hanging out with you. No other reason. I'm just good at the obvious shit. I'm terrible with people, but you could make friends with a freaking rock . You practically made friends with a villain who almost killed you one time. Remember Rappa? All those letters he sent from prison?" Bakugo suggested forcefully.
"Yeah…" Kirishima sighed weakly.
"Why I you think I picked you to bring?" Bakugo asked, turning to the other again one they were at a red light.
'Cuz you can't get a girlfriend?' Kirishima snarked, nihilistically quoting Kaminari. Bakugo made the tongue-bitey face again.
"No, stup- No. It's because you're fun. You make sure everyone around you is having fun, and I wanted to share this experience with you," Bakugo said, averting his eyes for the first time. Sensing a bit of embarrassment, Kirishima took it at face value.
"Huh, I guess I do like to have fun," Kirishima conceded.
"Yeah. I suck at that. I couldn't have enjoyed this without you. So… Thank you for coming."
Brightening up as they pulled away from the red light, Kirishima nodded. He knew Bakugo wasn't good with words or emotions.
"Thanks, bro," he said. "I needed that."
Katsuki cleared his throat before responding:
"I think we both needed that."
Chapter 3: Los Angeles II
Bakugo and Kirishima hit up a club, and run into an American pro hero.
I named Bakugo Castle Bravo because in Japanese, it sounds not dissimilar to his name. Besides, what better to name an explosion based hero than the biggest Western nuclear blast ever produced?
There was a music to the streets of Los Angeles that neither of the boys had ever felt before. There was a city beat, a rhythm under the asphalt that imbued them with a strange sort of energy. Bakugo's feet got tired, but Kirishima felt an urge to move to the city music. In the smoggy orange haze of evening, the pair made their way towards what Bakugo had promised: a club.
"I swear, my shoes are going to melt into the fucking asphalt," Bakugo complained, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead. He'd ejected some sweat directly on the pavement just to be sure he wasn't going to blow anyone up, but he still needed to stay away from open flames, lest he blast all his clothes off.
"Oh come on, we're almost there bro! It's gotta have AC inside," Kirishima said consolingly. He was excited to show off some of the dance moves Mina had drilled into him last spring break. That, and finally get a taste of this 'alcohol' everyone and their mom seemed keen on.
They made their way past the last few blocks, past a vacant sandlot and a shady store selling questionable tchochkes, to a building that looked like an abandoned aircraft hangar bumping with muffled music. Kirishima felt Bakugo hadn't done much planning, since there was a pretty long line. The puppyboy felt crestfallen. It would take them hours to get in at the rate the line was moving.
"Aww man, we have to wait," he said, gesturing to the line of well-dressed people in disappointment. Bakugo was initially just as disappointed, but hid it far better. Scowling at the situation, the circumstances that would dare make his best friend sad… No. He grabbed Kirishima by the wrist and stomped past the line to the big guy in front. Wordlessly, he flashed his hero license to the bouncer. The tall man looked it over, turned to Kirishima with a clocked eyebrow, and shrugged, waving them into a second door beside the first. Bakugo looked over his shoulder with a smirk.
"For once, it's actually worth the trouble. VIP entrance," he read from the door, smugly satisfied. Kirishima's face lit up, and Bakugo felt pride swell in him.
"Hell yeah, man! This is gonna be great!" Kirishima squealed, sounding for all the world like a little kid getting a new video game. They both stepped inside the dark venue, and were a little shocked at what they saw.
Instead of a dance floor with a crowd gathered around it, the VIP area was more like a lounge, serviced mostly by well-endowed women in the absolute bare minimum that could be considered clothes. Feeling a bit numb from the shock, Kirishima looked to Bakugo to make the first move inside, which, after a gulp and a grit to his jaw, the other boy did. Kiri followed him, taking in the surroundings; the velvet drapes, the suede couches, the plates full of confectionary on the coffee tables. There were even piles of flour or confectioners sugar just sitting there on perfectly good mirrors. The things these crazy Americans come up with!
"Jeez Kacchan, this is way different than I thought it was gonna be; nobody's dancing," Kirishima noted innocently as they sat down in one of the couches. One of the buxom women made their way over, and Bakugo said what Kirishima assumed was a drink order to her, slipping her a fifty.
"So," Bakugo said shakily, doing a poor job at maintaining an air of nonchalant coolness. "Enjoying the view?" he asked, gesturing to the scantily-clad women.
Kirishima munched on a cookie as he surveyed the scene. Really, just looking at women wasn't doing anything for him. He liked talking to people, not ogling them.
"Uh, yeah, totally, it's great!" he lied, stuffing the rest of the cookie in his mouth so he could give a double thumbs up.
"Good," Katsuki replied, a little flustered. "I'm glad. I'm… glad."
"You don't sound glad, bro," Kirishima asked with concern, nibbling a brownie this time.
"Jeez, gel-for-brains, what'd you skip lunch for if you're just gonna load up on carbs right before we drink?" Bakugo replied, deflecting Kirishima's comment.
"Ha ha, right, right, thanks for reminding me," Kirishima chuckled, polishing off the brownie and kicking back, doing his best to play cool, though definitely still uneasy. They heard a noise from behind them, and in walked someone they both recognized. Kirishima's face lit up, and Bakugo's went straight into his palm.
It was Captain Celebrity, America's number four hero.
"No frickin' way bro, no frickin' way! Chris frickin' Skyline is in the frickin' club!" Kirishima bubbled ecstatically, covering his mouth with both hands like a Kamui Woods fangirl and hiding behind the back of the couch. "I used to have the biggest crush on-- uh, I mean, you know, bro-crush -- on him," Kirishima said shakily, catching himself.
"You looked up to that guy?" Bakugo replied caustically. Captain Celebrity used to be the number one American hero, and frequently switched places with the other top three. He'd done a stint in Japan a few years back to reform his image as a philanderer, but he retained his bad-boy image in the face of public adoration. He was an incredibly powerful jack-of-all-trades hero with strength on par with All Might, and honest-to-gosh flight like Superman. He was overly concerned with appearances and his own image, superficial yet superhuman. Katsuki was less than a fan.
"Oh crap bro he's coming this way, hide me!" Kirishima said, panicking and ducking lower. Bakugo looked down at him incredulously.
"Dude, just fuckin'--"
"I thought I recognized you, Castle Bravo!" the tall hero said mirthfully, making his way over to the couch and extending a hand. Bakugo buried his face in one hand, and weakly shook the guy's hand with his other.
"You made a pretty big splash with your debut, you know," Captain Celebrity continued, releasing his hand. "Taking out a villain who could literally turn into a tank… That's flashy, kid," he said with an abnormally bright smile.
"Yeah, uh… Thanks…" Bakugo croaked.
"Who's this? A fan?" CC asked, looking down at a wide-eyed Kirishima.
"You're telling me you can recognize me without my costume, but you can't recognize Red Riot?" Bakugo snapped. "He doesn't even wear a mask!"
The tall American looked taken aback at the sudden outpouring of emotion from the young hero, but quickly eased back into his cocksure grin.
"Sorry, Red Riot, your name hasn't reached my desk yet, but I'm sure it will soon," he said diplomatically, sticking out a hand. Kirishima, still in a starstruck trance, mindlessly shook his hand.
"How do you… Japanese?" he gurgled, like a kid meeting Santa.
"Hmm? I work in LA, kid, you can't get by as a hero around here unless you know Spanish, English, and Mandarin. Japanese is a plus, and it's comparatively pretty easy. The second language is always the hardest but after that it's easy," the Captain explained, carefully wrenching his hand out of Kirishima's absentminded grip. The unnatural redhead's hand kept moving up and down and his eyes were glazed over from the star power before him. Bakugo elbowed him into lucidity and cocked an eyebrow at Captain Celebrity.
"Yeah…?" the American prompted.
"What are you even doing here? I thought you were supposed to be Mr. Straight-Edge now. What gives? Shouldn't you be working or something?" Bakugo asked accusingly. Captain Celebrity held up both hands and gave a simpering expression.
"Well, you see, my hair doesn't look as good at night, you know, less natural sunlight, so I try to restrict my hours to daytime. That's when people are watching TV, anyway," he chuckled. "Besides, this is where my publicist works! C'mon Stacy!" he called merrily in English to one of the scantily clad women, who practically wrapped herself around his forearm and walked towards one of the back rooms.
"Have fun boys, drinks'r'on me!" he called over his shoulder as he disappeared behind one of the fuzzy doors. Once he was out of sight, Kirishima noticeably relaxed.
"Dude, what the fuck was that? I've seen you take charge into danger like an idiot a million times, and you can't handle meeting someone famous? All Might is our teacher, for fuck's sake, you didn't go all goo-goo eyed over him!" Bakugo growled. Even in the dim light of the club lounge he could see Kirishima turning crimson.
"I don't know, dude, it's like… You know…." Kirishima said, trying and failing to string the right words together while staring at his own fingers.
"It wasn't just a bro-crush was it? Whatever the fuck a 'bro-crush' is anyway," Bakugo said, averting his eyes and maintaining a somewhat softer expression than Kirishima was used to seeing from him. He buried his face in his hands, his normally sharky smile contorted into a shaky grimace. He'd been denying it to himself for a long time, but having someone else know, especially Bakugo…
As a kid, Kirishima did used to have a crush on the guy, like any normal kid got on adult celebrities. Except he'd gotten it on a guy. And another guy. And another. And on and on until he realized that men made him feel things women didn't. He knew that wasn't how most people were, so he did his best not to stand out in that respect. And he hated how wrong it made him feel. He hated how dirty he it made him feel whenever he wanted to feel important to Bakugo, even just as a friend, like he couldn't distinguish admiration from lust, friendship from something more--
"Are you into guys?" Bakugo asked. He didn't say it harshly, or sharply, or loudly, or anything, but it still hit Kirishima like the shockwave of being screamed at.
This wasn't what he wanted. He didn't want Bakugo to feel like Kirishima just wanted to-- no. That was it, his life was over, his friendship was ruined, all because his best friend was perceptive enough to see what he was hiding.
"Don't say things like that, Kacchan," he said, his voice hitching as he bit his lip to keep it from trembling.
"Are you?" Bakugo pressed. He wasn't angry or scared. Just… Neutral.
"I don't know, probaly," Kirishima admitted, turning his face away and wiping at his eyes with his wrists. "I'm so freakin' sorry, man, I--"
"Why the fuck are you apologizing?" Bakugo asked, forcefully turning Kirishima by the shoulder to face him. "Dude, you're not gonna act like this is some kinda big, life-changing thing, are you?" the blonde boy spat.
"But I've been lying to everyone this whole time!" Kirishima choked out, doing his best to compose himself as the wet patches under his eyes began to dry, eyes still full of tears threatening to fall. "I lied to you. "
Bakugo looked around incredulously. "Do I look like I give a fuck?"
"So you're not, like… Weirded out by being my friend?" Kirishima asked, the faintest hint of his smile starting to bubble back up. Bakugo didn't mind? All was not lost!
Bakugo pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers, the faintest spark of his quirk lighting his face.
"I always knew, and couldn't give less of a shit, dumbass," he stated plainly. While Kirishima had been pushed to tears by the thought of being reviled, now he felt like collapsing into tears of relief, but simply managed a strained chuckle. The person he liked most still wanted to be his friend. That, no matter what else, was enough.
"Oh man, that's such a relief… But can you keep it between us?" he asked. He didn't want people to see him as some kind of a stereotype. Gay guys were usually girly, right? Aoyama was the only other gay person he knew of, and Kirishima certainly wasn't that kind of guy.
"Did I ever mention that one time I made noodles and you--" Bakugo began, but was quickly cut off by Kirishima waving his arms and shaking his head desperately.
"Oi oi oi! We all agreed never to talk about the noodle incident!" Kirishima said pointedly. "Besides, no one can prove Mina and I did… that ."
"Yeah, yeah, secret's safe," Bakugo hmm'd, still reverting back to a softer, more pensive look, like back when he had first inspired Kirishima to pursue his unbreakable form. Kiri was going to ask why he was looking so thoughtful, not quite meeting his eyes, but thought better of it, reckoning he was still just absorbing the shock of it all.
One of the barmaids returned with a pair of drinks, and Bakugo slipped her another folded bill. Handing one of the glasses to Kirishima, he nodded to him.
"Well, here's what you've been looking forward to," Bakugo said dryly, clinking the glasses as Kiri accepted his. The redhead wetly sniffed the beverage, wrinkling his nose.
"What is this?" he asked.
"Whiskey neat," Bakugo answered. "Come on, drink up, we're celebrating."
"What are we celebrating?" Kirishima asked innocently.
"You not being in the closet anymore, hair-for-brains, at least now you can ease up," Bakugo replied, holding his glass near his chin as if to say 'hurry the fuck up.' Kirishima took the hint and they took a sip in unison. As tough and manly as he was, he couldn't help but cringe at the taste.
"Ew, dude, what the heck, this is gross!" he declared resolutely, looking down at the glass as if it had betrayed him.
"It's the manliest drink they had," Bakugo replied. Kirishima's face twisted from cringe into a forced expression of stoicism.
"Oh, uh, yeah…" hehe said, forcing himself to take another sip. It tasted like crap! Nothing like sake, which was sweet and smooth and usually served warm. Who the heck wanted to drink this?
"You know you don't have to drink it if you don't like it," Bakugo said, annoyed he had to state the obvious. Kirishima couldn't put his glass down fast enough.
"Oh thank God," Kirishima sighed. Bakugo called the waitress over again and ordered another pair of drinks.
"I'm getting you something that even you can handle," he explained. "The fruitiest, bitchest bitch drink they have."
"Come on, don't be like that," Kirishima pouted. He didn't want Bakugo to go and treat him like some kind of stereotype. Half the reason he never told anyone was specifically so people wouldn't.
"You'll understand when you get it," Bakugo sighed. The waitress returned promptly, setting two tall glasses on the table in front of them. Each glass had seven layers of liquid in it, one each layer corresponding to the colors of the rainbow.
"Drink up, Eijiro," Bakugo said. Kirishima was taken aback slightly by the Bakugo using his given name, but more confused by the fact that he also had one of the rainbow drinks. Kiri looked from Bakugo's drink to his face, and back again. Seeing his confusion, Bakugo explained. "I like guys too, dumbass."
"Wait, what? Kacchan, you--?" Kirishima started, but Bakugo gruffly picked up both drinks and held one in the redhead's face.
"We're chugging these together," he said with finality. Kirishima took the drink and raised it to his lips. Bakugo did the same, and they both began to guzzle the almost disgustingly-sweet drink in unison. Each layer had a different fruity flavor, but still tasted like syrupy sugar. When they had drained their glasses, they both placed them down on the table loudly. Kirishima was surprised that he didn't taste any of the harshness of the alcohol.
"I was faster," Bakugo said nonchalantly. Kirishima perked up, licking the sweet residue still stuck to his lips.
"Is that a challenge?" Kirishima asked, signaling for the waitress to bring them two more. A wicked smile spread across his face. "You're going down, bro."
"This is why I brought you, Eijiro," Bakugo said, pleased with the urge to indulge his competitive drive.
"Why do you keep using my name? That's unlike you, Kacchan," Kirishima replied, not breaking eye contact when the waitress handed them their drinks.
"I'll tell you if you can beat me two out of three," Bakugo said. Bakugo won the next round, and was perfectly fine giving Kirishima a shot at three out of five. After their third rainbow cocktail, Bakugo stood victorious. Kirishima felt tipsy, but not so intoxicated as to not feel in control. It was pleasant, and he liked it.
"I win," Bakugo declared. Kirishima pouted a little, somewhat disappointed, but overall still having a good time.
"So, what do you win?" Kirishima asked, realizing he never offered something for Bakugo's victory condition. Bakugo refused to make eye contact for a moment, but grew a resolute expression.
"This," Bakugo replied, leaning towards Kirishima and pressing their lips together. Kirishima was startled, but it was like a bolt of lightning had gone through his body, and he suddenly felt much more aware. His muscles tensed, and he felt himself stiffen in a way that had nothing to do with his quirk. Bakugo pulled back slowly, still not making eye contact. Kirishima's heart felt like it might leap from his chest, and he took a moment to process what just happened. He decided he very much liked it.
"Keep winning," Kirishima breathed. Bakugo looked into his eyes, his brows simpering like he was about to cry, but shoved his face into Kirishima's again. It was sloppy, and their teeth clicked together, but Bakugo's lips were warm and sweet, and his skin smelled like sugar thanks to his quirk. Kirishima knew he was tipsy, but Bakugo was far more intoxicating. Kirishima felt himself wanting to hold Bakugo's head, and he did. The blonde flinched at the touch at first, but eased right back into the kiss, returning with more passion and need. After what felt like an eternity of slow, romantic liplock, they mutually pulled back. Kirishima leaned back on the couch, ran a hand through his hair, and exhaled slowly.
" Wow, " he said breathlessly, surprised and overwhelmed, but laughed a little at the relief. He couldn't stop the massive grin that seemed to have forced itself into his face.
Bakugo was about to say something, but noticed the waitresses, who were fawning over them like kittens from across the room. They looked like they had never seen anything so adorable in their lives. He withered and leaned into Kirishima's chest to hide his face.
"So….?" Kirishima asked, his question obvious.
"Yes I fuckin' like you, dumbass. Always have. Always will," Bakugo mumbled into his chest.
"Same," Kirishima replied instantly, regretting his inability to come up with a better response. In lieu of verbal sugar, he draped his arms around Bakugo, savoring the feeling of the explosive man's muscles move beneath his fingers. It was like touching something untouchable; the raw power Bakugo had made Kirishima feel like he was petting a dangerous jungle cat. He didn't feel danger, though, only satisfaction .
"So uh… Do you want to dance?" Bakugo asked, looking up at him. Kirishima nodded, helping Bakugo extricate himself from the hug and get to his feet.
"Just one thing, first," Kirishima said, pulling out his phone. He opened his camera app, and gave Bakugo a peck on the cheek as he snapped a photo. "Mind if I send it to the squad?"
Bakugo took the phone and looked at it, biting his lip. He turned the camera back on and gave Kirishima another deep kiss, snapping a picture while kissing him and giving the camera his best 'what the fuck are you gonna do about it?' face while looking directly into the lens. Satisfied, he handed the phone back to Kiri, and told him to send one after the other. Kirishima had to turn off vibrate, because after about ten minutes the notifications from Mina, Kaminari, Sero, and Jirou just wouldn't stop.
They made their way onto the dance floor downstairs, and danced. The music wasn't something either of them would listen to, but they found in a dark room full of strobe lights, it didn't much matter. When some kind of electro-funk waltz came on, they did their best to imitate ballroom dancing. As Kirishima held Bakugo's hands and swung him around, leaning back against each other's weight, he saw something he had never seen before: Bakugo was smiling and laughing, his eyes closed as if he hadn't a care in the world. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was adrenaline, maybe it was relief. For Kirishima, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
Chapter 4: Los Angeles III
Kirishima is feeling kinda funny, and it's not just the embers of his crush burning hot.
I never let my fics die. They're all being worked on. Albeit slowly.
For the chat sections:
Geijiro: our boy kirishima
KatsuBravo: our other boy bakugo
"Dude, I feel weird," Kirishima commented as he flopped back onto the couch in the VIP room. Wiping some sweat from his forehead, he felt the room spinning. "Does being drunk make you feel super hungry? Everything feels all connected and vibration-y and stuff."
Bakugo cocked an eyebrow, looking down at his newly-minted boyfriend in exasperation.
"How are you hungry already? You ate like four of those cookies," Bakugo grumbled. "Just drink some water, you're probably still tipsy."
Kirishima held a hand out in front of his face. It looked just like it usually did, but there was something about his vision, like a sort of positive pressure on his mind, that made it look like it was passed through an old TV camera from the 70's. Everything felt sharper and more interesting, yet duller and hazier. He felt a good sort of excitement in his spine, like his nerves were getting a hug. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, but it was entirely new.
"It doest feel like it did before, man, I think the alcohol wore off a while back," Kirishima replied. It didn't feel like he was controlling his mouth, but he was. He was flummoxed. Bakugo returned with two glasses of sparkling water, and only then did Kirishima realize his mouth was really dry. He chugged the water, feeling much better.
"Lift," Bakugo said, tugging gently at Kirishima's hair as he sat down and scooted his lap under his boyfriend's head. To Kirishima, it felt surreal, to have the man he admired so much idly playing with his hair, not to mention the disorientation he couldn't place. It was just too weird. Regardless, now that he was back in the lounge, he decided to check his phone. As expected, the group chat had blown up.
Channel: #Goon Squad
50+ missed messages
RedRiot has changed their username to Geijiro
PinkPankPunk: YOU DORK
Lampy: 'why are you ge ?'
PinkPankPunk: DENKI NO
Lampy: DENKI YES
Geijiro: Uhh, I can't help it, I guess. But if I get to be with Katsuki I don't wanna help it.
PinkPankPunk: you stop that
PinkPankPunk: I'll die from the cuteness
Adhesion-kun: Send more pictures, I want so see her have a heart attack
Wall'o'Marshalls: This has been so long overdue oh my fucking god
Geijiro: yeah okay hold on a sec
PinkPankPunk: I can't believe it took you this long, kiri
PinkPankPunk: like for real, pretty much everyone saw this coming
Geijiro sent a picture: 7-02-2102-DCIM006.png
PinkPankPunk: he freaking petting you?!
Lampy: you tamed the beast
Lampy: also, your eyes are looking really red, you enjoying yourself in America? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Geijiro: what are you talking about?
Lampy: you aren't high right now?
Wall'o'Marshalls: you look pretty glazed over
Adhesion-kun: oooooooh, I'm tellllliiiiiiingggggg
PinkPankPunk: stfu you make joints out of tape
Lampy: they're non-toxic and don't fall apart.
Lampy: what more can you want?
Kirishima set down his phone on his chest. How would he be high? Unless, wait, the cookies…? But that was just something from TV, right? They don't actually put pot in food, right?
"Hey, uh, Kacchan? What was in those cookies?" Kirishima asked. Bakugo looked confused for a moment, but noting the look of concern on Kirishima's face, he beckoned one of the waitresses over. He asked her something in English and buried his face in his palm when she answered.
"Well?" Kirishima pressed, taking Bakugo's hand away from his face and into his own hand.
"You ate like four damn weed cookies, dumbass," Bakugo sighed.
"Are you serious? What the heck?" Kirishima cried, feeling like each word took hours to say. Bakugo barely noticed a difference in his speech, though.
"You dumb rock! I have to tote your stoned ass around, now," Bakugo glowered, but truth be told, he was relishing the opportunity to take care of his new boyfriend. He tenderly reached a hand to Kirishima's face and caressed his cheek. Smooth as a riverstone, yet soft, just like Katsuki's lips had felt it to be." What am I gonna do with you?" Bakugo sighed.
"S-sorry, I--" Kirishima slurred.
"Shh, I was just thinking out, it wasn't your fault" Bakugo tutted. A deliciously evil idea occurred to him. He reached over Kirishima towards the table, and grabbed one of the edibles.
"Wait, Kacchan, are you ssuuuure?" Kirishima asked, sounding for all the world like a little kid with his inflection. Baku's brow furrowed and he took a bite of the cookie defiantly.
"I'm sure as hell not letting you do this without me," he said resolutely, chewing aggressively, as only Bakugo could be imagined to do. He swallowed, and swigged down the water on the table, which had long since lost its ice and become nearly pure condensation. "Let's go eat," he said, throwing a few bills down in the table.
"But like, isn't it super late? Won't everywhere be closed?" Kirishima asked, feeling strangely aware and anxious of the things that his brain normally handled on autopilot. Like how his toes felt, or whether he was drooling or not. He was drooling just a little bit, but he wasn't sure, because most of his face was too numb to tell.
"It's only like twenty-two ten, tons of places are still open. Besides, it's a freaking party town, places will be open all night," he replied, wiping Kirishima's chin with the cuff of his sleeve. Kirishima was mortified, but Bakugo just smiled. "You look even dumber than usual," he chuckled. "But your helplessness is cute. Come on."
If Kirishima was a little high when they left the club, he was absolutely stoned off his ass by the time Bakugo pulled him stumbling into a burger joint off the strip. Bakugo gently sat him down at a table and went to order, placing Kiri's phone in his hands before he left. While normally Kirishima could operate his phone without thinking, now each new screen was utterly enticing and unfamiliar. It took what felt like ten minutes to navigate to his chat app, and he was wondering why his new boyfriend hadn't come back yet. As it turned out, it had only been a minute at the most, and Katsuki was still last in line. Chuckling at the complete sensory dilation, he dove back into the chat, perhaps more candidly than he would have normally.
Channel: #Good Squad
25+ missed messages
Geijiro: guys this ism woird
PinkPankPunk: speak to me child
Geijiro: ots so difgrent
Wall'o'Marshalls: America, eggsblain
Geijiro: its like
Geijiro: like being tiredf bht not
Lampy: he's trying to speak to me, I know it
Adhesion-kun: tell us of your travels, young riot
Geijiro: time is weird now
Geijiro: stuff is fubny
Geijiro: I'm hongry
Lampy: H O N G R Y
Adhesion-kun: I'm screencapping all of this for later use
Geijiro: God u guys Katsuki is so ducking hot
Geijiro: and smart
Geijiro: and cooL
PinkPankPunk: and hot
Wall'o'Marshalls: he's not that hot
PinkPankPunk: easy for you to say, sappho
Geijiro: its nnt fair
Lampy: jeez bro how much did you even smoke
Geijiro: I ate like 4 of the edblees
PinkPankPunk: holy fuck
Lampy: that's a fuck load dude
Adhesion-kun: You absolutely legend
Adhesion-kun: I can't believe you've done this
PinkPankPunk: how are you still conscious
Geijiro: red riot. Unbreakabls wall
Lampy: "If you refuse to go down, you're stupidly strong." - Bakugo, our first year
Adhesion-kun: - Grigori Rasputin, 1918
PinkPankPunk: - All Might, also our first year
Geijiro: I refuse to go down, I'm too manly
KatsuBravo: You better not refuse to go down
KatsuBravo: on me
Lampy: - Bill Clinton, 1995
Geijiro : who is tbat?
Adhesion-kun: no clue
Wall'o'Marshalls: presumably someone who wanted someone to go down on them
Lampy: phillistines, all of you
KatsuBravo: I will blast you into the ocean kamknari
Lampy: is Kacchan high also? He never makes typos.
KatsuBravo: not too high to kick your ass
Lampy: I'm in danger
Bakugo returned with their food, burgers the locals had assured them were the best around, and he had the good sense to purchase three burgers for Kirishima, knowing how big his appetite usually was, and how cannabis could affect hunger. His first few bites were almost pure reflex, savoring each qualium of flavor and texture, understanding now why the others enjoyed this damn plant so much. It made eating feel amazing. He didn't even realize he had scared down an entire burger within two minutes, and Katsuki had to lean over and wipe some ketchup off his face.
Kirishima looked at his best friend, and there was a sudden upwelling of love and appreciation within his soul. Even with his mind as addled as it was, he still had a fascinated admiration with the boy. The vibrations of the universe and interconnectedness he felt from the drug were like a door opening to a new depth of perception, and all of it was leading to an overwhelming feeling of infatuation. It all had to be a dream, it all had to be.
"Eijiro, you're crying," he said gently, handing him a napkin.
"A-am I? I'm sorry, man, I just… I can't actually believe you like me back, it's like winning the lottery," Kirishima replied, dabbing at his eyes. It really felt like that to him. Seeing the man he'd loved and pined for for years finally sitting across from him and knowing that they were together was overwhelming.
"Well, no, because the lottery is dumb luck. You fuckin' earned me, Eijiro," he said resolutely, pushing his drink over in front of Kirishima. "Have some milkshake."
"Ha, you're gonna dive right into date stereotypes, huh?" Kirishima chuckled lightly, taking a pull from the straw, and finding it quite good, smiled back at Bakugo. "I guess I should savor you being so sweet."
"Don't push it," Bakugo replied gruffly, but it was more that he was flustered than embarrassed. He was starting to feel the effects of that cookie he ate, and while it was new, it wasn't incapacitating like it was for Kirishima. They ate in comfortable silence for a few minutes, with Bakugo discovering he really liked those little pickled peppers from the condiments station, and decided it was a good time to call it a night and head back to the hotel.
"Don't worry, we'll hit a casino or something when we get to Las Vegas, I think we're too fucked up to go gambling right now," Bakugo said, but Kirishima was in another world. As they walked down the strip to their hotel, he kept one hand on Katsuki's shoulder to ground himself, but his eyes were glued everywhere except where he was walking. The flashing lights, the exotic smells, the street performers, the music, the mish-mash of Spanish, Asian, and American architecture, fountains, fireworks, luxury cars rolling by, strange and interesting quirks being displayed, and even a pirate ship-themed live performance drew his eyes. Ordinarily he would be enthralled, but in his altered state, he was utterly mesmerized, feeling as though he was floating above the crowds, experiencing a whole new world. Bakugo let him simply float, throwing an arm around his waist and holding him close whenever they went through foot traffic.
They arrived at their hotel, a very nice affair with a Renaissance theme, and Kirishima was floored, literally. When Bakugo stepped away to check themselves in, Kirishima saw the frescoes on the ceiling, the intricate and opulent filigree on all the rococo painting frames, the absolutely stainless marble tiles, and he lost his balance. His eyes were glued to the ceiling, and Bakugo had to pick him up off the floor. Ordinarily he would smile and laugh it off, but his mouth was rounded in childlike wonder and oversee at the scale of the place.
"This is just a hotel?" he asked.
"And a restaurant," Bakugo replied.
"But it's so big," Kirishima responded, incredulous. "It's like a big church or something."
They found their way to their room, which had a single, king-size bed amidst fine imitations of baroque European furniture and art. To Kirishima, it was like stepping into a painting, if that painting had an air conditioner, TV, and an upper-story view of the brightest strip of pavement in the world. What caught his attention the most was the bed, and how there was only one of it. He must have stared at it for too long, because Bakugo spoke up.
"Hey, uh, we can get a different room if you're not ready to uh… Sleep in the same bed," he choked out.
"I don't think uh, um, doing naughty things would be comfortable just yet," Kirishima stated, looking up from the bed to Bakugo, who recoiled in shock.
"N-no, dude, you're fucked up, that wouldn't be right. I was just uh… Would you be okay to sleep next to me?" he asked, clearly hopeful. That was something Kirishima was absolutely ready to do. How many times had he forced to stop himself from hugging Bakugo for a second too long, how many times had he found an excuse to sling his arm around his neck, how many times had he leaned against him on the train?
"Yeah, Katsuki, I've wanted to do that for a really long time," Kirishima replied, not quite sure what to do from there, still being pretty out of it from the dancing, alcohol, and still-present weed in his body. Katsuki guided him to wash up, and then followed suit while Kiri wearily flipped the channels on the TV, not finding anything in English basic enough for him to follow easily. Bakugo came out of the bathroom in just pajama bottoms, and Kirishima stared blankly for a moment before turning off the TV. Kirishima was tired, but the only thing going through his mind was that Bakugo was so hot. So so ridiculously hot . And beautiful, and cute, and cool, and strong, and confident, and just… Everything he wanted.
"Let me get those for you, Ei-chan," Katsuki said softly as he undid the buttons on Kirishima's shirt, helping him out of it and sliding off his jeans. Kirishima should have felt cold, but he didn't; boxers were more than enough in the ubiquitous warm, muggy hotel room climate. Katsuki sidled under the still-tightly-tucked covers, and beckoned for Kirishima to do the same. The read head maneuvered himself into the, bed, and for the first time, felt his skin contact Katsuki's in a romantic way. Not a sexual way, but a comforting, soft, "I've got you, I'm here" kind of way. Katsuki's back pressed into Kirishima's chest, and he guided Eijiro's hand to his side, clearly desperate to be held. Kirishima obliged, having never properly held anyone, but he found it was what he wanted, the feeling of enveloping someone and holding them tight making him feel secure in himself.
"Thank you, Eijiro," Bakugo said as he clicked off the lamp. "I've wanted to feel this for so long."
"I'm touch-starved too, dude," he replied, tracing his hand over Katsuki's well-defined muscles from his position as big spoon. "I was never able imagine it with anyone else."
Bakugo's breath hitched, and he exhaled slowly, interlacing his fingers with Eijiro's.
"Yeah, me neither," he sighed, sounding the most content he had ever sounded. "You were the only one."