Kirishima has learned to be happy with his decision to not enroll at UA high school. It's something that has tugged at his conscience for a long time. To apply, to not apply . . . in the end he decided against it, and it was for the best, really. He didn’t need all the attention those kids are getting in the UA hero course anyway.
Like everyone else, he had watched the news coverage from the League of Villains’ attack and it looked absolutely terrifying. This only solidified that he was sure of his decision because clearly, the hero course at UA is meant for students who are ready to handle stuff like that. That UA Class 1-A seems strong as hell.
Kirishima, on the other hand, he’s still working on getting stronger. He’s probably just a late bloomer, that’s all. His quirk is useful, but it’s not cool or flashy, and probably won’t make for a good hero in the future. But maybe he could be a great sidekick! No matter what happens, he still wants to help people.
It doesn’t stop him from daydreaming about a glamorous future, though. In a perfect world he would love to be a pro-hero. He would love to have the confidence and fearlessness of the students in Class 1-A. What would his life have been like if he was more like them? How would his life be different if he was good enough for UA?
Like Bakugou Katsuki.
His chest contracts as the name passes through his mind.
When he saw the news coverage of the League of Villains attack, there was a piece about the students in Class 1-A who were involved. And Bakugou Katsuki was someone who definitely caught his eye. He’s intense, his quirk is cool and he’s attractive as all get-out.
Lucky for Kirishima, he has a bit of an in with Class 1-A.
Ashido Mina is his pink, firecracker of a best friend from middle school. If he’s being honest, he’s slightly jealous of her. She’s never afraid of anything and she is cool and confident enough to be working alongside all of the pro-hero hopefuls in her class. She’s worthy of being there.
“I’m telling you, Kiri, there’s not much more to say about him,” Mina laughs. She’s lounged perpendicular to Kirishima on his bed, her legs dangled over his as he leans against the wall. “He’s actually kind of mean.”
“Mean? How so?” Kirishima wants to know everything.
“Like . . . really mean,” she laughs. “Trust me, if you ever meet him you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. He yells a lot. I don’t know if he even knows how to talk to people at a normal volume.”
“Interesting,” Kirishima muses, trying to imagine it. He’s taken all of the little things he’s learned about the enigma that is Bakugou Katsuki, and he still can’t quite get a good read on him. “Do you think I’m his type?”
“You’re ridiculous!” she squeals, lobbing a pillow in his direction. He grins and blocks it, knocking it back in her direction. “I’m sure there are plenty of cuties at your own school.”
“Pfft, not really,” he scoffs, gently shaking the hair away from his eyes. There’s no one who is nearly as striking as Bakugou, if he’s being honest.
“Well, I don’t know what to tell you, then,” she shrugs. “I don’t know if he’s even capable of having a type he’s so . . . explosive?”
“Duh,” Kirishima notes. Bakugou has an explosion quirk, he knows this. It’s the coolest quirk he’s ever seen, he thinks.
“Even his personality is like that,” she insists.
Kirishima and his mom watch the UA Sports Festival every year on television. This year, he is even more excited about it than he has been in the past. In a way, most people are because of all the publicity the first years got after the League of Villains incident. But that’s not why Kirishima is so interested in watching.
This year, he gets to watch the exploding boy who’s managed to catch his eye even though they’ve never met.
“That’s the one I was telling you about, Mom!” he exclaims, sitting forward and pointing excitedly at the TV as they show Bakugou addressing the crowd as representative for the first years. God, he’s so cool.
“I just wanna say . . . I’m gonna win.”
Amazing. Absolutely incredible. Wait.
“Why are they booing him?” Kirishima scoffs.
“Well, hon, usually the opening speech is a little more . . . y’know. Encouraging? He sounds a little cocky if you ask me,” she sighs, giving him a knowing look.
“Really? I think he just sounds confident. It’s so manly ,” he says, grinning as his mother shakes her head and laughs. “Just look at him, Mom! He’s so hot.”
His mom just laughs again, and his eyes are glued to the screen once more as they start the first round. It’s an obstacle course and obviously Bakugou is in the running for coming in first, right next to Todoroki Shouto, who has both fire and ice quirks. Both of them are incredible, a reminder of how insanely talented all of the UA students are. It’s hard to believe that they’re the same age as he is. Kirishima is slightly disappointed when some green-haired kid comes in with the upset at the end and takes first. Bakugou ends up in third place.
Mina comes in 19th, which is amazing, actually. He feels a little guilty for paying more attention to a cute boy he doesn’t know than his own best friend. But to be fair they weren’t giving her much screen time anyway!
He gets up and stretches during the commercial breaks.
The calvary battle is interesting. Riveting, actually, and he’s glad to see Bakugou’s team take second, especially since Mina is on his team! Oh, he will definitely be calling her about this.
“You must be so proud of her, she’s made it all the way to the third event!” his mom cheers. “I should call her mother later.”
“Yeah, you do that.”
The next event has Kirishima on the edge of his seat. It’s a one-one-one tournament and each battle is a nail-biter. There’s a girl from Class 1-A who really gives Bakugou a run for his money, but he ends up the victor.
One of Bakugou’s opponents catches his attention.
“Oh honey, that boy’s quirk reminds me of yours,” his mom says, as if she can read his mind. The boy in question - Tetsutetsu has a quirk that turns his body to steel. Kirishima’s quirk is that his entire body hardens - there’s nothing cool about it. He’s basically just a human-shaped rock. At least steel looks cool. That, and he seems to just be oozing confidence. All of the students do, really.
They cheer loudly for Mina as she nabs her first opponent. She really is going to be a great hero someday. Not only does Mina have an awesome quirk - she’s bubbly and cute and people adore her everywhere she goes.
Eventually the last battle comes up and it’s Bakugou versus Todoroki.
“He's gonna win, I can tell," Kirishima says, focused on the fight in front of him.
"I don't know, he is up against the son of Endeavor. I bet he knows a thing or two," his mom points out. He just shakes his head.
The battle is intense. Bakugou and Todoroki are yelling throughout, but he doesn't know what they're saying. For whatever reason Todoroki is not using his flame quirk like he did in his previous battle, just the ice.
The fight ends and Bakugou is the clear winner but . . . he seems visibly upset about something. He's getting up and clawing his way towards his opponent when a UA teacher steps in and uses her quirk to incapacitate him.
"That was weird, right?" Kirishima says, as it cuts to commercial rather abruptly.
"Well, they do that for the students' safety. They must have thought the blond was about to do something dangerous," she concludes and Kirishima's eyes widen. Was he though? He looked distraught, almost.
The TV goes back to the program after an abnormally long break and . . . Kirishima is mortified .
"What the hell?" he breathes, as they reveal Bakugou chained up and muzzled on the podium. He doesn't even know the boy, but there's this weird feeling of rage rippling through him.
"That's . . . oh my," his mom says, probably equally shocked.
"They're treating him like he's an animal or something!" he seethes. "It doesn't make sense, if they think he's gonna attack someone . . . why would he be in a hero course in the first place?"
"I don't know, honey."
"That's so cruel!" Kirishima scoffs, still watching Bakugou struggle against the restraints even as he's crowned the winner of the sports festival by All Might himself. It really is a disturbing image. A teenager locked up against his will, being put on display for all the world to see. At the very least it must be embarrassing for Bakugou. At most . . . it's fucking traumatizing.
" Eijirou ," his mother warns, softly. She notices his hardened fists before he does. He gasps inaudibly and releases his quirk, surprised that he even lost control like that.
"I'm sorry, I don't know why this makes me so angry . . . it's not like I even know him. I've never even met him," Kirishima says, feeling flustered.
"I know . . . but it's because you have a big heart, Eiji," she says, sweetly. "That's why I know you're gonna be a great hero someday!"
"Mom, come on," he chuckles, bashfully. "Could you imagine me in this sports festival thing? I'd get crushed."
"Well, being a hero isn't all about being cool or flashy for the camera, you know," she points out. "A good hero also cares about people. Think about pro heroes today - they wouldn't be out there saving people if they didn't care."
"I don't think that's right."
"I'm your mother, I'm always right," she teases and Kirishima just rolls his eyes.
A few hours later, Kirishima calls Mina.
"Kiri! Hey!" she says, answering cheerfully.
"Hey! You were so amazing today!" he gushes, excitedly. "You got so far!"
"Oh my gosh, stop ," she laughs.
"No! Seriously! You were so badass! I can't believe you pantsed that poor navel laser guy on national television."
"That was pretty funny," she admits. "It was tough, though."
"Yeah, your class is so amazing," he points out.
"They really are something, aren't they?" she muses, then continues on to recount her every move through the competition. It's a dramatic story, really, and Kirishima loves listening to her talk. Part of him almost wishes he could have experienced it with her.
"I have a question," he says, when the conversation has shifted from Mina's performance to stories about her classmates. "Why . . . why did they do that to Bakugou?"
"You mean how they had to restrain him?" she asks, catching the uneasiness in his voice.
"I haven't talked to him, so I don't know the full story yet. But from what I hear he wanted to keep fighting, even though Todoroki was clearly out. They gotta keep them from killing each other, I guess," Her voice is slightly flippant, as if she might agree with what they did.
"Why would he have . . . that doesn't really make any sense, does it?" he scoffs.
"What do you mean?"
"Your class is made up of the top hero course students in your grade, right? Why would anyone training to be a hero go as far as to kill a fellow hero?" He says it like it's supposed to be obvious. Really, it should be obvious.
"Yeah, but a lot of us are still learning our limits, you know? Someone might think they're going easy and not be aware of their own strength . . . did you see Midoriya? That kid literally breaks his arms to use his quirk because he can't control it," she points out.
"Is that what happened?"
"Uh, yeah, Midoriya is next-level crazy," she laughs. "He's sweet, though."
"Hmm," Kirishima says, remembering the green-haired boy's fights. He's not even sure what his quirk was. Did they mention it?
"Your boy Bakugou has a weird history with him," she says, casually. "Like, he's grouchy in general but poor Midoriya is like a walking target around him. Apparently they've known each other since they were kids, they've even got cute nicknames for each other."
"Uhh, so they're friends? Enemies?" he's desperately trying to follow.
"Who knows, honestly."
"Oh." Well that helps nothing. Really just adds to the whole enigma thing Bakugou's got going on.
"Oh! By the way, this weekend a couple of my friends from school and I are going to the arcade, you should come!" she says, excitedly. "I know it's not Bakugou but I really want you to meet my new friends!"
"Okay, okay, just let me know when," he smiles.
"Cool! I'll text you the details. Maybe you can bring along some of your friends, too it can be one big shebang," she says, excitedly. Kirishima feels a bit of a lump growing in the base of his throat.
"Oh, uh, maybe next time."
Kirishima wants to make a good impression on Mina's UA friends. She confirmed with him that her friends are Sero, Kaminari and Jirou - three students that he remembers seeing at the sports festival. They've all got very impressive quirks and cool looks.
He stares at his reflection in the mirror, playing around with parting his hair in different ways. Each time he did, it would just all fall back into place, jet black strands hovering over his eyes. He crouches down and rummages through the cabinet under the sink to see if he can find anything that might help.
Hair gel? That could work.
He squeezes the sticky goop into his hands and goes to town. Really, there's no plan in place, he just starts spiking it up until he's feeling relatively okay with it. He feels a little silly looking at himself, especially once he realizes that it looks like he's given himself horns .
Having his hair up and away from his face also reveals the scar over his right eye. It's barely noticeable anymore, but Kirishima feels like it's open for the world to see now. Now everyone can see and now everyone can ask him about it. He wonders how good he'll be at dodging that story. Embarrassing.
"Uh, Mom?" Kirishima calls out sheepishly from the bathroom. "Does this . . . look okay?"
A few moments later, she appears in the doorway and Kirishima looks up at her in the mirror and immediately turns bright red when she laughs.
"I'm sorry! It's not bad, just unexpected!" she insists. "I think it's a good look for you."
"You're just saying that because you're my mom," he pouts.
"Well, you were the one who asked for my opinion," she shrugs. He can't argue with that, so he ends up taking several deep breaths and leaving just like that.
The arcade is loud and buzzing, as expected for a busy Saturday night. Bright lights flash and Kirishima scans the room until he finally finds Mina amidst the chaos.
"Whoa, bold new look!" Mina exclaims as Kirishima approaches their table at the arcade. The four of them are seated at a round table, in the middle of an aisle. He's greeted with three new friendly faces, who all introduce themselves. Kirishima doesn't mention that he already knows who they are. They're all just normal teenagers. It's fine. Really.
"Dude, love the hair," Kaminari says, and Kirishima is flattered.
"Thanks," he says, grinning, and taking a seat.
"What is that gel? Or is it your quirk?" Kaminari prods.
"N-no, just gel," he mumbles. He feels flustered being the focus of attention. They're asking him so many questions already.
"So what class are you in?" Jirou asks.
"Oh, I don't go to UA, I just go to a normal high school," Kirishima shrugs. "I know Mina from middle school."
"Rad! So -"
" What the fuck are you assholes doing here! ?"
Kirishima nearly jumps out of his chair at the booming voice coming from behind him. He jerks his head to the side to see who is yelling and his eyes practically bug out of his head as they locate the furious-looking blond stomping in their direction.
"Hey Bakugou! You came to hang out with us? How sweet," Kaminari laughs, leaning further against the table. Bakugou steps in between where Kirishima and Mina are sitting, slapping his hands down on the table and thus holding his bicep dangerously close to Kirishima's face.
"Fuck no! Are you idiots following me?" he demands, banging a fist against the table and startling Kirishima once more. Maybe he can see what Mina meant about him being a bit explosive.
"Uh, no, why would we be following you?" Jirou responds. Kirishima is just watching this scene unfold, wondering how everyone is able to just talk to him so calmly, mostly unfazed by his yelling. Also clearly unfazed by how attractive he is.
Kirishima shoots Mina a look and she raises an eyebrow, then mouths, "I told you."
"Hell if I know," he grunts.
"Why are you here? Who are you with?" Sero asks, looking around as if he's searching for Bakugou's responsible party.
"None of your fucking business," he snaps.
"Aw, it's okay if you came alone, you can hang out with us," Mina says cheerily, her eyes flickering to Kirishima. Oh my god. No . "I was just introducing everyone to my friend, Kirishima!"
The blond's head jerks to the side and his piercing red eyes lock onto Kirishima's. His stomach jumps into his chest as Bakugou looks him over.
"What the hell is up with your hair?" he huffs, and Kirishima frowns. He's not sure what he was expecting from the first line he'd hear from Bakugou, but it certainly wasn't that.
"Nothing!" he chirps, hands gingerly checking to make sure everything is still in place.
"Hah, Shitty Hair," he says, and Kirishima just gapes at him.
"Nothing wrong with it," he says, defensively, though he's secretly upset that Bakugou hates it. Well, he didn't say hate. He probably does, though.
"Sorry, Bakugou's just like this," Jirou says, in a bored voice.
"Don't fucking apologize for me, I'm not doing anything!"
"I mean, you're being an ass, but okay," Kirishima finds himself saying it. He freezes, though, as Bakugou turns back to him and frowns.
"The fuck did you just say?"
He's morally conflicted at this point. One, Bakugou is insanely hot. Two, he still thinks he was treated unfairly at the Sports Festival. Three, however, he's currently acting like an asshole. Kirishima gets the feeling he doesn't get called out like that often. Oops?
"I said," Kirishima gulps, hoping his voice doesn't betray him. "You're being an ass."
Bakugou's eyes narrow as he's trying to figure out the best way to destroy Kirishima on the spot. He stands his ground, though.
"Dude, don't explode the poor guy, we're in public," Kaminari whines.
Then something odd happens.
Kirishima says: "Why would he use his quirk on me when it's so crowded in here?"
At the same time that Bakugou says: "I wouldn't fucking use my quirk in a fucking crowd like this!"
Kaminari puts his hands up like he's mid-surrender. "Jeez, okay, sorry!"
Bakugou stands up straight and crosses his arms over his chest, still frowning.
"What did you say your name was?" he asks him.
"Kirishima Eijirou," he says, holding out a hand to shake. It's an automatic gesture, honestly, which is why it catches him off guard when Bakugou actually takes it. His hand is strong and warm and - "Oh fuck, I'm sorry, man."
He snatches his hand back, embarrassed to have let his quirk activate during a dumb handshake. It wasn't that big of a deal! Get it together, man!
"Was that your quirk or somethin'?" he asks, seeming only mildly confused as he inspects his own hand.
"Oh, wow, I assumed you were quirkless," Kaminari says.
"Shut up, oh my god," Jirou groans.
"What's your quirk?" Bakugou asks. He's making conversation. Kirishima's heart rate speeds up as he suddenly realizes this is his chance to actually talk to him. Maybe pique his interest, make him want to talk to him more. First impressions are everything.
"I get hard," he blurts, clenching his eyes shut as he hears himself.
"Hardening! It's hardening, my whole body is . . . rock," he's short-circuiting. Crap.
"Whatever," Bakugou sighs and finally trudges away from the group.
Kirishima drops his head against the table and groans.