Deku didn’t need him. All those years of chasing behind him, a step and a half behind, and now Deku wasn’t even looking at him. That might’ve been the worst part of it all, to be honest, was the attention he’d lost. Not. Not that Bakugou was starved of attention, his parents were hard on him but they supported and loved him, Aizawa kept a good eye on him, the media was often commenting on him, Mic was there if he ever wanted a commentary, even All Might and most of 1-A would look to him first when anything happened.
Maybe he was just too used to having Deku’s full attention. Too used to being all Deku could see.
When they were kids, Deku came to his house all the time. He went to Deku’s all the time, too. Their moms were close, so they were almost raised like siblings. Bakugou had been the cooler, stronger of them, and Deku thought the world of him. Until All Might had taken his attention away. But even after that, Bakugou was always closer than All Might. He was there, being cool and being badass and standing between Deku and the shittier kids when he had to. But now, he didn’t have to. Midoriya was strong all on his own now.
Bakugou had turned to working out his frustration about this in the dorm’s little gym room. They had it set up so the kids who did work out every day had somewhere other than their rooms for some workouts, where they could find bigger weights and had punching bags lined up. The room was also more reinforced than their bedrooms, so it worked well for those with more oomph in their punches. He didn’t want to meet anyone, so he’d go to bed early and wake up in the middle of the night, before the early birds (looking at you, Glasses) took it over, then going back to sleep when people started getting up so he could be better rested for class.
Two A.M. was usually a good golden hour for him, then he could get back to sleep at 3 and wake up at seven. Headphones on, blinders on, powers unactivated all night, straight up just punching the fucking bag until it broke or his hands hurt too much. It was almost as good as blowing things up, in terms of catharsis.
He hit the well-worn spot again and again, knowing he had his sweat all over the damn thing by now and he’d have to take it down just in case Icyhot wanted to workout or something. His muscles ached, but he wasn’t nearly finished. The music had only started working its way into his spine, where it would stay all day and help him coordinate attacks.
When someone tapped on his shoulder in that state, he didn’t have time to think. He’d punched them before they could attack him first. Instinct, when you grew up where he did and now that he was getting so used to villain attacks.
Deku calmly took the blow to the chest like it was nothing. Bakugou growled. Pulling a headphone out and relaxing his stance, he started.
“Fucking Dumbass don’t scare people while they’re punching shit, what the fuck.”
“I didn’t think anyone else was up, I didn’t want to scare you later.”
“You can’t scare me.”
Deku smiled and rubbed the back of his head, which only drew Bakugou’s attention to the elbow protector he had to wear.
“I know, I know, I just wanted to ask if it’s ok for me to take the bench while you’re here, I don’t want to intrude on your solo workout.”
“I don’t give a fuck.” Bakugou turned his attention back to his bag, tugging on the cover to smooth it out.
The fluff-ball moved to the weights bench and started at a weight Bakugou felt himself uncomfortable thinking about. He put his headphones back in.
It was impossible to get back to that zone he was in, so instead, he grabbed his water and shut off his damn music and walked to the seating on the wall near the weights bench, pulling one leg up on the seat and throwing the other forward.
“You’re gonna kill yourself with that.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m fine.” To prove his point, Deku lifted it almost effortlessly off the rack and started his set.
Bakugou let himself drift back. When they were really small, like, babies almost, He’d promised himself a simple thing. He was going to use his powers to protect Deku. Deku couldn’t do it, so he would. He wondered, sometimes, if that was why he wanted to be a hero, aside from wanting to prove himself better than anyone.
But the Deku in front of him didn’t need him. Didn’t need anyone. Deku was not just Izuku anymore, he was Deku, the hero, full of powers untold. He was strong and fast and nothing like the little kid who used to hide behind him when he could, even if that kid had offered to help him every time. Even if that kid had held hidden strength behind those eyes.
See, when everyone else wrote Deku off as useless, even when he himself had called Deku nothing, he knew the truth. In the green of his defiant eyes, in the grit of his teeth, Deku held a proud and independent spirit. Deku was probably, somewhere in there, scarier than the others credited him with. And they called him irrational for getting pissed at Deku.
The lights went out.
When the fuck did U.A. of all places get blackouts? Didn’t they have, like, redundancies in place for this shit? Who would call this place safe if they knew about whatever bullshit this was. Bakugou growled into the night air, but the bright eyes that looked at him from the bench stopped him.
“Don’t worry, Kacchan, I think the lights should come back on soon.”
“You saying I’m scared of the dark?”
“No, of course not. You’re worried about the security cameras and the wall’s electromagnetic gates, right?”
Deku moved. Bakugou felt him get closer and watched those gleaming eyes. He couldn’t tell if they were just really reflective, or if One For All really made his eyes glow softly. He was pretty sure Deku’s eyes had always been pretty vividly green.
“You wanna move to somewhere more secure?”
“Don’t patronize me.”
“Come on, Kacchan. You want me to walk you to your room?”
“I’m fucking fine.”
Thunder made him jump. How many times had he been startled by a noise since camp? Deku didn’t qualify enough as a friend to even get embarrassed about it. It was a little like getting embarrassed for jumping in front of your dog.
“You can hold my hand.”
“Fuck off, asshole.”
“Listen up, Kacchan.”
The weight that settled on Bakugou’s shoulder was warm and alive, but it wasn’t Deku’s hand, it was his arm.
“You can act tough, and you can hide your -admittedly, reasonable- fear from everyone else, but you and I both know that you can’t hide a damn thing from me and I will always be here to help support you.”
Fucking cunt. Deku wasn’t just a gloating shitface with a ridiculous need to help him, no, he was actually offering him that help. He wasn’t insulting him to his friends, no, he was here insulting him to his face. Deku could never just fuck off. He had to try and help. Bakugou didn’t want help! He knew he looked weak, he knew he was just a scared little kid like he always was, he’d already cost the career of All Might, and Deku was heading the same damn way. Deku would probably sacrifice himself for Bakugou any day of the damn week and Bakugou knew if it came down to that, he wouldn’t be fast enough to stop him.
It was pathetic, really, that being seen through so easily got right at his core. Deku had the same uncanny ability as Bakugou’s mom to just know what he was thinking. He wanted the attention, he wanted the admiration of his little green puppy friend but damn he hated when people recognized his fragility.
“Shut up and walk me up there, shithead.”
Deku’s smile moved the room into a warmer plane of existence. It didn’t even need to be seen. His scarred fingers slid down Bakugou’s arm and took his hand. It was dark enough Bakugou let him. The power was out in the whole dorm. They took the stairs, which had always proven a terrible place to try and fight in. Too many entrances, no good cover. Deku rubbed the back of his hand with his thumb. Deku’s hands were rough, and bent weird. There were rolls in his skin from scarring and knobs in strange places from healed fractures. The anchor point was holding Bakugou from the storm his mind made of fear.
“You want me to bring you some snacks or something later?”
“I could wake up Kirishima to come hang out with you?”
The fourth floor was silent and still. The rain and storm out the window was drumming. The wind played the damn building like a flute. Bakugou growled.
“You want to call your mom?”
“The old hag would drive over here to kill us if we woke her up.”
“Hm. Good point.”
At Bakugou’s door, Deku stopped.
“Here you go, Kacchan, your room. If you wanna spar in the morning to land a few hits on me for helping you, I don’t mind.”
“Hm.” Bakugou didn’t let go of the hand he held. It was his now.
Bakugou felt himself decide he wanted company, even if it was Deku, a second set of eyes, safety in numbers, someone to watch his six. He wanted Deku to be there this time. He had no idea if that was rational, or if Deku would mind, but he didn’t take the time to talk himself out of it.
He pulled them both into his room and shut the door behind Midoriya.
“Ah, wait.” Deku gently tugged at his hand.
Bakugou set his chin on Deku’s strong shoulder. Deku was strong enough that his muscles had gone from dense and hard as rock to pumped and impossibly plush. He’d gotten ripped before the entrance exam somehow. If it was his inherited power or sheer determination, Bakugou didn’t even care. He just felt safer with someone there.
“Hey, Kacchan, are you ok?”
“Don’t talk. Don’t say shit. Don’t tell anyone about this… Stay here for a while.”
Deku’s free hand rested on his back now, and he was held safe.
“Ok. I’ll stay as long as you need me to. It’s ok. I won’t tell anyone.”
“Better fucking not.” Bakugou took a deep breath.
Deku smelled like sweat and deodorant and ozone and that stupid detergent his mom liked. Deku smelled like instant ramen and morning breath and rubble. Deku smelled, most importantly, like home. Bakugou found himself leaning into it.
“Do you wanna go to sleep so we can get up for class?”
“Mnn.” Bakugou had his nose buried in Deku’s trapezius.
Deku took that as acceptance, apparently, because Bakugou was held in his arm by his thighs in no time at all. He’d just. Moved his arm down and squatted a little to hoist him up. This was not what Bakugou had signed up for, but. Damn, Deku. He’d never been lifted up like he weighed nothing before.
“Bedtime for explodo-kings.” Deku smiled to himself.
“Shut up and don’t embarrass yourself.” Bakugou put his hands on Deku’s shoulders for support.
Bakugou didn’t know exactly how Deku had known where his bed was when it was so dark, but he was grateful for it because he landed immediately in the familiar comfort of his favorite sheets.
“You should really get rest, Kacchan, it’s probably better if you sleep through the night, rather than get up to train.”
“You are not one to talk. In fact, I should blow you up for the audacity.”
Deku laughed again as he sat on Bakugou’s bed.
“You know, I don’t get it.”
Deku’s eyes definitely glowed, because Bakugou could see that vibrant green trained on him.
“I don’t get how you can be so stubborn, when all I want to do is get stronger and help others, even and especially you. Why’s it so hard to accept my help?”
“I’m not a fucking wimp.”
“Doesn’t make you a wimp to need help sometimes, Kacchan.”
“Not the point.”
“I need to get better. I need to need no help.”
“No you don’t. Everyone needs help sometimes. Heroes need help more often than anyone else.” Deku’s hand was in his hair.
“Deku, lay down.”
Deku was laying next to him in a few moments, and Bakugou had a wall of muscle on one side, and an actual wall on the other. He could not be safer. He could not be in less danger, but he was definitely way too exposed in Midoriya’s eyes.
His hands had minds of their own, reaching up to Midoriya’s chest and spreading on his pecs.
“Fuckin… Deku you shouldn’t be buff. It’s just wrong.”
Deku laughed and draped an arm loosely over bakugou’s waist.
“Sorry. Need to be. You don’t actually seem to mind that much, though.”
“Shut up, once again.”
They’d shared beds when they were little. It was never this cramped, but it didn’t change much. They were just two idiots laying together in the middle of a storm.
“You want to snuggle up, dude? You’re welcome to cuddle me if you want some time not being distant and uptight.” Deku’s smirk was audible.
Bakugou sighed and took him up on that, calling his bluff. Or so he thought he was. Deku didn’t move away when he moved his arms up and pressed their chests together. In fact, Deku just tightened his grip on his waist and shifted to get comfortable with the new position. How the fuck Deku could just cuddle him with no shame, Bakugou might never know.
“You’re so weird.”
Deku’s laugh shook Bakugou.
“Yeah, I know.”
The worst part wasn’t even how pathetic wanting some attention made him feel, it was how he didn’t even mind how close they were. How could he? Even he had to admit Deku, with all his warmth and squishiness, made a great body pillow.
A deep inhale and letting each vertebrae relax individually, and Bakugou was halfway to sleep. He was, that is, before he felt Deku relax as well. His arm got heavier, his breath slowed.
“Deku, stop touching me.” He grumbled.
Deku began to move his arm, but Bakugou grabbed it and held it in place.
“Kacchan, I can’t stop-”
“Too bad,” He hummed, “You’re just too pathetic to be able to stop, hah?”
Deku exhaled sharply, then yawned.
“You’re such a drama queen.”
“Shut up and hold me.”
Those glowing eyes were open and on him as soon as the words finished forming in his mouth. Maybe he’d phrased it weird, fuck, he was tired. Deku wasn’t angry, though. He was just curious.
“You want me to hold you?”
Deku gently pulled Bakugou’s leg up over his hip, pulling Bakugou flush with his chest. His hands, the rough diced meat that held power enough to rip themselves apart, were treating Bakugou like he was made of rice paper. Deku’s lips made it to Bakugou’s forehead.
Neither of them spoke, for a while, and neither of them moved away. It was nice. Bakugou fell asleep faster than he meant to, than he ever had before. He was fine. Deku was there.