“Don't do this to yourself. You know it wasn't your fault.”
The downpour pummeling the worn pavement was almost enough to drown out the surprisingly somber voice Kirishima had been trying to tune out all week. An honorable feat had he been able to pull it off, considering the speaker was far more hard-headed about this.
It came as no surprise when the solid crunches of hardened skin to lesser stone did not stop or even slow, more grey chunks crumbling at the red hero-in-training’s feet. He didn't want to hear that anymore. Couldn't his classmates stop pretending?
At essentially being ignored, he heard a small grunt, which for some reason wasn't as disconcerting as the scoff or huffs he's used to getting. He couldn't say he liked it, though.
There were a few slow splashes he heard until a tall form stopped next to him, obstructing the third flash of lightning that was a warning for anyone stupid enough to be outside right now. “Oi...Kirishima.”
The voice was clearer and lower now, not needing to be as loud to be heard over the rain.
Kirishima grimaced, holding the next punch for half a second before sending it into the stone again with harder force, the new cracks being created not nearly satisfying to the teen.
When he pulled back to strike again, a firm hand covering his abused fist stopped him, least it end up flat between a rock and a hard place. Finally red eyes cut to meet red, both frowning to some degree. Though, Kirishima noted that there was something else there. The frown he was met with at least didn't seem like one of annoyance.
Now having the undivided attention of his classmate, Bakugou stared him in the eyes. “You didn't cause this” he said seriously, moving to box Kirishima out more from the broken rock he'd been pummeling into submission. “None of us saw that villain pull that last second. You did all you could to get to her.”
“And it wasn't enough, was it?” Kirishima didn't mean to snap so sharply at the blond, but he'd had it. He didn't want to hear how it wasn't his fault that he'd failed his oldest friend.
Bakugou frowned further, looking a tad more like himself again as he folded his arms. Water poured down his face, and he for one honestly wished they could be having this conversation literally anywhere else. “You're acting like she died.”
Kirishima cringed slightly as he turned to square off with him. “That's a damn low bar.”
Bakugou bristled, standing his ground. “Look, you saved her from a hell of a lot worse! We both know that if you hadn't covered her, she would have taken the full force of that shipping container. You know. So stop acting like nothing you did mattered! She's going to be fine.”
Kirishima was shaking. “That's not enough! I couldn't hold onto her! I-If you hadn't seen Mina fall or-or god forbid not been close enough to catch her-”
Bakugou groaned more than he growled at that. “But I was! We’re a team, you know, it's not all on you, dammit! It's almost like you’re doubting us! She knew the two of you were screwed and took the best course of action at the time to risk the jump. Her quick thinking stopped the villain. Everyone survived thanks to it. It's not your fucking fault that damned villain played dirty and got her with that pipe in mid-fucking-air. What were you supposed to do? Jump off the building after her? Even with your hardening helping you- which you probably would have fucking died, you were too exhausted to be doing shit- it wouldn't of helped her. Honestly, thank Tape Face for stopping your ass. I didn't need two people falling to their deaths, fuck that.”
Kirishima stared at him, unable to come up with a good enough excuse for himself. He wanted so badly to have a reason...wished he'd given that villain a couple solid cracks for what he did. Wanted to defend his friend, to place blame for not being there like he should have. But he couldn't.
“You can't do everything by yourself all the time. Not many can be as badass as I am” Bakugou elbowed Kirishima when he didn't say anything to the jest. “Don't beat yourself up over what you can't change. We won. The others stopped Laser Fingers and Crap Breath. Those clowns never stood a chance. We’re heroes and shit happens. Can’t let things like this get to you or I have bad news about the future.”
Kirishima sighed, leaning back against the stone, subdued. He couldn’t feel the anger anymore. He just felt exhausted. Staring at the cracked skin of his unhardened hands, the anger drained and only left sadness behind. He knew what he’d signed up for. That didn’t mean he had to be okay with it. How could he just get used to it? With any of his friends. He had to be better to be there when it mattered. He couldn’t afford to fail them.
Not paying attention, he was startled by a hand briefly on his shoulder, Bakugou looking what his version of concerned must be. Kirishima was honestly touched. He kept this to himself.
“Hey. We’ll... be there, okay? All of us. Watching each other’s backs.”
He let go and backed off a step, looking like this was way out of his skill set. “We’re all going to get stronger. We’ll train more and by the time we graduate no villain will be able to shake us anyway. And, ah, I know she'd hate to find out you were outside beating yourself over it when she wakes up, so cut that shit out. If you wanna fight something, be productive. We can spar instead.”
Kirishima blinked at him, turning as he rubbed his sore hands, Bakugou looking awkward for half a second before scoffing defensively at the look Kiri was apparently giving him.
“What? Tch. Now can we get the fuck inside already? You know what, no, it's not an option. Fucking move. The stooges are probably thinking we fucking died out here or some shit.”
Kirishima cracked a small smile at that and obliged, letting out a breath as he felt slightly more at ease. Bakugou has worried enough to come check on him, even if he’d likely blast him before admitting it. He trailed his trudging friend back into the dorm building, both of them soaked like they’d just jumped into a pool.
As Iida tore over to them to gripe about the water trail on the clean floors, Kirishima apologizing sheepishly and Bakugou standing there tense with his arms crossed taking it (grudgingly), he realized it felt like there was a weight off his shoulders that all the punching hadn’t lifted. He still had a small bubble of guilt, but it didn’t feel overwhelming or too much to function.
When they were thrown towels and finally allowed to trek to the boy’s bathroom, Kirishima looked to Bakugou, who was staring pointedly ahead.
“...thanks, bro. I, um, think I’ll take you up on that spar session.”
There were a few beats of silence and a Kirishima thought that maybe he’d reached Bakugou’s sentimentality limit for the day. But then he heard a low grunt from the other. “Yeah. Whatever.”
Kiri smiled more, turning away before Bakugou saw. “I'll try not to be reckless like that again too. With the, ah... diving off the roof thing.”
“Hmph. Fuck you for that, by the way. I'm still pissed at you for trying to off yourself going after that guy, Shitty Hair.”
Kirishima had the decorum to at least act ashamed. He knew that he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again though for any of his friends, if he knew that it would help them. He didn’t regret that.
“Not like I was worried, I knew my best bro would be there if things went sideways! I do trust you guys, you know. Besides, I have to be there to back you up! Next time you might be the one that needs saving and I’ll be ready to have your back!”
Bakugou looked outright insulted, and it was hilarious. “Haa?? As if I’d let myself get cornered! Go get freaking showered, you’re gross and they will stop your ass at the entrance if you try to visit her like that.”
Kirishima perked immediately at that, eyes basically shining. They could go see her. And he’d finally be able to again after that first hard day.
The bit of normalcy with the jest was honestly what made the red-haired hero finally feel at ease for the first time in days.
“Roger!” Happily, he hurried to shower and get ready.
“If I get sick after today, you’re dead.”
Kirishima laughed for the first time in days.
They both showered (Kiri also took care of his overused bruised hands) before heading to their respective rooms and getting ready. Sero, Jirou and Kaminari were waiting for them downstairs, flowers and stuffed animals between them to give.
The group headed out together as the storm had since lightened to just a slow pattering trickle. They overall seemed relieved that their sweet shark tooth was looking better. They nudged Bakugou knowingly, smiling. Bakugou rolled his eyes but didn’t bother shoving them off like he would have freshman year.
Kirishima was anxious but more than ready to see Mina. He’d heard she was awake and had asked about them from Momo. His friends with him helped and reassured him that he wasn’t alone in any aspect of all of this.
When they got in, Kirishima gave her the biggest hug before getting the others to too, Bakugou allowing himself to be pulled in for more than a few seconds without more than feigned resistance. Kiri felt whole again and the despair dissipated completely.