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Charley Horse

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Kirishima breathes into the stretch of his thighs, sweating through the burn of tight hamstrings. He used to exclusively work out without stretching afterwards, and paid for it with a few years of worsening dexterity with his increased muscle tone and quirk usage.


At UA he’s learned better ways to build up his strength while working on undoing the damage to his flexibility. His classmates have also started filling in the gaps of their training, now that they’re all in the dorms together. People seeing where they’re lacking and finding ways to compensate, or learning the things they missed before they got formal training. 


In his case, it’s learning to not forget that part of the workout is the aftercare. It’s not exactly thrilling to sit on the ground and bend and twist, especially when his thoughts tell him he should be doing more, should’ve done more reps, should’ve been able to lift more, should’ve had more endurance during training… 


He shakes his head and goes into a lunge, one of the fancy positions with his arms extended to twist his torso to one side. It’s one of the… Warrior poses, he thinks it’s called. Midoriya and some of the other girls are into yoga and started doing practices together after training, and he’d joined in a few times. Well, a few times until he realized how massively outclassed he was. They were all so limber, working so hard and excelling so much. Kirishima took to stretching on his own in the weight rooms after his lifting sessions, trying to copy what he’d seen out of the corner of his eyes, watching his classmates move together through the poses. 


Midoriya is always working on his flexibility, especially now he’s started bulking up with his new shoot style. He and Bakugou are still at odds, obviously, but it seems they’ve calmed down at least… a tiny bit since their explosive fight.  Kirishima hasn’t tried to push Bakugou to talk about it, something he privately feels he ought to get a damn reward for because he wants to know. 


He shakes his head again. It’s not manly to feel jealous over something like this. Bakugou and Midoriya have a years long relationship, of course they’re going to have history and things they share that they won’t bring up to anyone else.


If Bakugou won’t bring it up, then neither will Kirishima. He likes having the explosive guy on his side, actually willing to spend time with him, even if he does still occasionally rag on Kirishima for his hair. 


Kirishima goes to the ground, flushing when he realizes his knees still won’t go near the floor in the seated pose he’s been working at. It’s been like a month and he still feels like he has the worst hip flexors on the earth. How do Midoriya and the others do this like nothing? He grits his teeth and presses the flats of his feet together harder, gripping his ankles and breathing out. He rests his forearms along his knees, gradually adding weight to push them toward the floor.


As he huffs through the intense burn across his groin and thighs, he thinks about Bakugou again. Lately it seems his thoughts just keep.. going there. It’s normal, to have a crush. If that’s what this is. It’s not that he thinks it’s unmanly to like another guy, it’s just that he’s not sure Bakugou really likes… anyone. Of any gender.


He doesn’t want to fuck up a friendship - well, he thinks they’re friends, no matter how much Bakugou shrieks about hating everyone - with any awkwardness on his part. He’ll just have to keep this weird uneasiness, the nauseating flutter of awareness of his friend and classmate, to himself. 


He always laughs things off anyway, makes a show of being so full-speed ahead for battle and getting stronger instead of actually talking about how he feels. It would be weird, right? No one really blurts out their feelings just like that.


It’s like… there’s a process. Kirishima just hasn’t figured out what kind of process that would be for figuring out if your almost-friend would in any way be interested in you. 


He slides his legs out in front of him, one by one, grimacing at the different stretch tugging at his muscles. He hates doing forward bends the most, and they’re the hardest to do on his own without someone pushing him forward.


The door to the weight room flies open, a sudden sharp bang announcing the arrival of someone else. Kirishima is glad he wasn’t holding anything because his hands go sharp on the mat with his jump of surprise. He tilts his head to the side, blowing out a quick breath to shove his now-limp hair off his face. 


Well, this is great. The man of the hour. 


Bakugou marches past Kirishima with a flick of his head, going for the treadmill and smacking a water bottle down in the holder. Kirishima blinks the sweat out of his eyes, staring at Bakugou’s back through the mirrors lining the length of the room. He’s standing spread legged over the treadmill, for once wearing fitted work out clothes instead of his usual baggy attire. They’re nothing special, just black athletic leggings with vented panels behind the knees, tight from hip to ankle. 


Kirishima swallows and looks away from Bakugou’s back, his bare shoulders that tense and flex as he taps on the buttons of the machine to set his pace and incline. 


Is it weird he hasn’t said anything? He should say something, right? Kirishima swallows again, feeling very dry mouthed. Slow footfalls gradually turn into rapid fire thuds as Bakugou starts running, staring out the windows on the opposite side of the room. 


Kirishima digs a hand into his thigh through his gym shorts. Stop staring. 


He lifts himself onto his knees, readjusting his slightly ragged, sleeveless t-shirt before he puts his left leg forward and leans over his thigh, reaching for his shoe and trying to keep from making the ugly effort noises he usually does during this stretch.


Stupid back. Stupid hamstrings. Ugh. Kirishima breathes out and forces himself further. All at once he cringes and swears, collapsing back onto his right ankle beneath him as his left leg seizes up in a fierce cramp. 


“Fuck,” he hisses, staring down at his muscle, the cramps visibly pulling at the tissue beneath his skin. Gross.  


The footfalls stop all at once, and Kirishima feels his stomach drop, sudden nauseous anxiety filling him. Please don’t come over here. The footsteps come closer. 


“Oi, Shitty Hair.” Kirishima sincerely hopes he doesn’t have teary eyes right now, because that would just be the absolute cherry on top of this night of self-loathing, wouldn’t it.


“Yeah,” he croaks out, looking up and trying for a grin. Nice, idiot. 


Bakugou stands just behind him, arms crossed. He’s sweating slightly already, his quirk always keeping him at a higher temperature, ready to supply him with the fluid he needs for his explosions. His blonde hair is shoved back a bit off his forehead. 


“What the fuck did you do?” 


“Just a-“ Kirishima sucks in a hissed breath as he tried to shift his leg in from its half curled position. Oh god. That fucking hurts. He grabs at his hamstring, falling sideways as the leg beneath him protests the strange position he’d propped himself up in. “Just a cramp,” he tries again, wishing he could sink through the floor like Mirio. Convenient when you manage to make yourself look like an absolute ass in front of your crush. 


“Don’t just fucking jerk around like that, idiot.” Bakugou kneels next to him, glaring like Kirishima is the stupidest person he’s ever met.


Kirishima can’t help it, Bakugou looks so fucking manly, sweating and bristling with muscles that seem more built and broad with every passing week. He feels dumber and weaker just looking at him. “Why do you suck at stretching so much,” Bakugou goes on, his voice hitting that familiar nagging, irate tone. 


Kirishima looks down, wishing his hair was unspiked so he could really hide behind it. It’s only slightly floppy now and it won’t cover the miserable look on his face. Plus, Bakugou can see him, all of him, through the mirror in front of them if he looks. 


Kirishima shrugs, hand still gripping his thigh. “Just stupid, I guess.” Bakugou sighs and Kirishima steels himself for an insult, or another of Bakugou’s surprisingly astute, cutting observations. 


“Move your hand.” Kirishima blinks and looks up when something warm shoves at his hardened hand. Oh, he hadn’t even realized he’d activated his quirk. 


Bakugou’s hand pushes at him again and he jerks his hand away, too fast to be casual. God, stop it. Bakugou doesn’t say anything, just digs his knuckles into the muscle. Kirishima yelps and shoves at Bakugou’s wrist, but Bakugou raises his other hand, little pops dancing over its surface.


“Sit the fuck still,” he growls, glaring at Kirishima. He lifts his hands in surrender, biting his lip and trying not to pull away as Bakugou finds the most painful part of the knot and works at it. “Jesus, you ever do anything to take care of this shit?”


“I stretch,” he manages, trying to figure out what’s going on. Bakugou has never touched him before. Well, he’d walked into Kirishima trying to get to Deku, and ridden on his shoulders in the Sports Festival, but he’s never just … reached out and put a hand on him like this.


Bakugou snorts through his nose, his other hand slowly extending Kirishima’s leg out as the muscle begins to ease. “Yeah, and I shoot fucken roses out my ass.” 


Kirishima stares at Bakugou harder. What the hell is going on, honestly? He glances at the two of them in the mirror, shocked at how close they are. It feels strangely intimate for Bakugou’s hands to be on him like this. But it’s just… bros helping other bros, right?  Bakugou’s head is lowered, his blond hair sticking to the back of his neck. 


“You think too much.” Kirishima starts, jerking under Bakugou’s hands on his thigh. They’ve stopped moving, still slightly dug into the muscle. Bakugou glares at him, but it’s not the angry look Kirishima is so familiar with. It’s mocking, sure, but it feels… softer. If it were anyone else he’d assume it was something like affection. 


Okay, I’ve lost it. 


Bakugou’s face twists in a familiar scowl and he stands up slowly, putting a hand on Kirishima’s shoulder to push himself upright. He stalks back to his treadmill, hopping up to brace himself on the console before jumping back onto the tread. He doesn’t look back at Kirishima, just runs and runs till the sound of his feet is a constant rhythm drumming through the room. 


Kirishima brushes a hand over his leg, startled at how relaxed it feels now. It’s warm, too. He’d never really realized before, but Bakugou’s hands were much warmer than his. They were practiced too, no hesitation in finding where he was hurting and digging it out.


He goes back to stretching, more carefully than before, trying and failing to stop looking at Bakugou in the mirror.  Maybe he’ll say something. Bakugou’s right. He does think too much. 


Kirishima wipes his mat down when he leaves, glancing over at Bakugou. It’s so dark out that the room reflects easily in the windows in front of his machine.  Kirishima walks into the door, coughing at the unexpected blow to his diaphragm and blushing furiously as he sees Bakugou’s face twitch, looking back at him through the window’s reflection.