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all the bright precious things

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Bakugou hated formalities, he did them, he was not an animal, but that did not make the fact that he hated them any less true. If anything, Bakugou believed that he was showing god-like levels of control the more time he spent in the city. The fact that he had not punched Shindou yet, was a stellar example of his restraint. He and Momo had grown up together and he had actually been happy to receive an invitation from her when he had moved back, but her husband he could do without.

The only thing that made the mess of the dinner more bearable was Jirou.

“ So Bakugou, tell me about your new place, a far cry from your french chateau no doubt.”

He scoffed as he cut through his duck, “ I hated those pompous houses anyway, I don’t need that much space,” he smirked as he brought a bite to his mouth, “And the smaller the place the less chance of my mother coming to stay with me when she visits.”

Jirou smiled and took a sip of her wine, Momo and Shindou apparently were not worried about their servants reporting anything, not that anything was going to happen to them even if somebody did snitch. Laws did not really matter when you had enough money to buy D.C.

“ Must be exciting though, living next to the Todorokis with all of their parties.”

Immediately there was a shift in the air, both Shindou and Momo who had been eating in silence, stilled and Momo looked up with wide eyes.

“ The Todorokis?”

Jirou nodded at him, “ They live right next door to Bakugou’s new place.”

Bakugou frowned, “ That big mansion? I haven’t heard of any parties but I’ve only moved in officially two days ago. I thought it was empty.”

“ It’s not. Every weekend there’s a huge party. It’s all anybody could talk about this summer.”

There was scoff from Shindou, “ That’s all new money could do anyways. Party and spend money.”

Bakugou wanted to comment but he was interrupted by Momo, who turned to Jirou with a small smile, “ Jirou, you didn’t tell us about that show you went to last week.”

The rest of the night was spent with Shindou recounting tales of his school days, and the more interesting stories of Jirou and her favourite jazz parlour. Momo was nothing but a gracious host, smile easy and laugh light. But Bakugou was not an idiot and he had noticed the tense line of her shoulders and neck. But then again, he would be tense too if he had to spend the rest of his life with someone like Shindou.

He would be the first person to complain about the overbearing nature of his mother, but he was grateful to his parents. They were not the kind to force their only child into a marriage. He glanced at Momo’s long dark hair, which she had refused to cut to match the popular style, his parents were a luxury that not all got to have.

****

Bakugou saw them for the first time that night. He was about to enter the small cottage he had rented for the summer, when from the corner of his eye, he spied them. He saw him first, a lone figure in a well tailored suit standing at the end of the neighbour’s dock. He was absolutely still, as if frozen in time. Bakugou was so focused on him he failed to notice the second figure walking towards the end of the dock.

The night was dark, and the lights of the dock were dim, that coupled with the distance made it so that Bakugou could not see more than their silhouettes, but that was enough to see that the second figure was a woman. She was shorter, considerably so. She walked to the end of the dock towards the man, but she stopped right before she reached him. She did not stand by his side or touch him, seemingly content to stare at his back, unmoving. It was late, he narrowed his eyes in an attempt to better see them, when the woman turned in his direction.

Bakugou could see her hand rise in the air and wave at him, the action surprised him and almost instinctively he raised his hand and waved back. She turned again and remained at the back of the man. He could not tell if they were talking or not. All he knew was that by the time he had prepared himself for bed and was closing all the curtains of his house, he could see from the window that they had not moved.

 

The next morning, he found an invitation to the next Todoroki party in two days.

****

Bakugou had spent most of his life in Europe, something he was grateful for. Yes, it was primarily because of the family design business but he suspected that his mother hated the socialites that she grew up with as much as Bakugou hated their kids now. His summer in the city was him trying to spend time away from his parents, yes, but it was also meant to be a break before he had to go back and take over the business. As a result, all the people he knew in the city were spoiled assholes he had not seen in at least ten years.

He had nobody to take to the party but Jirou.

She was originally Momo’s friend, yes, but honestly he did not feel guilty stealing her for a night. He could have of course just not shown up, or shown up alone, but Bakugou was curious and he also hated parties and crowds. So Jirou was the best option. They entered through the large double doors of the mansion, the house was huge but the space already felt suffocating with the amount of people there. It seemed as if half the city had made an appearance, this was definitely the kind of event where nobody cared who you are, not because of a lack of societal prejudice, but because everyone seemed too drunk to care if they were mixing with the working class. Alcohol of all kinds flowed, the entirety of the entrance hall was filled with cigarette smoke and Bakugou had already seen at least three pairs and the one triad doing very inappropriate things; fine degeneracy if he had ever seen it.

Jirou stretched so her mouth was next to his ear, hot air ghosting against his skin, “ That’s them over there by the staircase.”

His eyes glided across the crowd before spotting them, they were striking enough that it was almost impossible to miss them. Shouto Todoroki was a striking man, who cut an impressive figure in a well fitting black suit. He was tall and broad shouldered, hair gelled back to fully show the scar he had over one eye.

“ They said he got it in the war.” Jirou whispered.

On Todoroki’s arm however was his wife. Ochako Todoroki seemed to be the exact opposite of her husband in every way. While her husband was tall, all sharp lines and still eyes, she was short, all soft strokes and gentle curves. She was dressed in the flapper style like every other woman but while Jirou represented everything about this new age, and Momo seemed to be trapped in the golden past; untouched by trends and changes, she seemed to almost be in costume, like this was not the real her; but a mask she could drop and switch. She was greeting people, eyes bright and smile wide, she radiated joy and seemed to welcome everybody with the exact same enthusiasm.

“ They say it's a modern fairy tale, the disowned son and a working class girl.”

That made him turn, Jirou could see the surprise in his eyes and she took a sip from a champagne glass that Bakugou had not seen her get.

“ He got disowned before the war, then he dropped off the face of the earth, only to come back with a beautiful normal wife and a lot of money. People say she’s from Iowa or something.”

Bakugou’s eyes drifted back to the couple, Todorki Shouto seemed to want nothing more than to disappear, which Bakugou could relate to, but Ochako was talking excitedly with a short stout man that Bakugou could swear looked like a senator. She seemed to feel his eyes on her because she looked up at him, their eyes met and Bakugou was surprised at the true mirth he saw in them. The corner of her mouth lifted in a smug smile and she nodded at him, before bringing her attention back to the man. Bakugou was certain he was a senator.

He caught them a few more times during the night, mostly together but sometimes apart. They did seem to always drift towards each other at the end. At one point he had been separated from Jirou only to spot her across the room talking to their hostess. Their heads were bent together and Jirou seemed to have a small frown on her face but it quickly faded away to a small smile before she nodded and they walked away from each other. Bakugou was about to make his way across the room to question Jirou but her short ass was quickly swallowed by the crowd, which had only gotten bigger since the beginning of the night.

Bakugou could feel his anxiety rising being surrounded by more and more people, he broke free from the crowd and made his way up the stairs. By the time he reached the second floor, he could already feel the music drift further and further away and the people became less and less as he made his way through dark corridors. The only people he saw after a while were couples in dark corners, who he ignored just as he saw the servants ignore them. He supposed that there had to be some sort of security to prevent thieves. He spied a light at the end of the hallway, where the door was left ajar. The room seemed to be some sort of study, illuminated faintly with a soft golden light from a desk lamp, the shelves were piled with books and other oddities. At the far end of the room was a telescope, positioned in front of a large window. Bakugou instantly felt at ease, the room felt like a pocket of peace in the middle of all the chaos. He made his way to the window and cracked it open, allowing the crisp night air to sneak in and chase away the smell of tobacco that had stuck to his clothes. From this side of the building he could actually see across the grounds of the house to his little cottage. He knelt and squinted to see through the eyepiece of the telescope, it was already positioned and he could see the stars but he was not sure what constellation it seemed to be fixed on.

“ I didn’t peg you as a star enthusiast.”

He turned towards the door, where she stood. “ I wouldn’t call myself an enthusiast. I was just curious.”

Ochako hummed and moved closer to him, her short brown hair shifted in colour from dark brown to a warm auburn in the golden light of the room. The faint light did obscure some of her face in shadows but her eyes sparkled mischievously and he could see more of her now that a giant hall was not in between them.

“ I wanted to thank you for the invitation.”

She pursed her lip before walking to stand next to him and shifting the telescope carefully. “Ofcourse, we make an effort to get to know our neighbours.”

He could feel the warmth of her, through the small space between them. She knelt down to look through the telescope before standing up again, “ I come here when I want to be alone, these parties are fun but sometimes you just need to be in your own company, you know?”

It was the sort of thing he felt in the regular and that he expected to hear from her husband, the hunch he had that she seemed to be constantly adapting to the people downstairs seemed to be more and more true.

“ I can leave if you want.” He stepped back and further away from her.

She shook her head and her hand extended to lightly touch his forearm. “ Don’t. Stay.”

She was so close, he noticed how round her face was, her eyes were no longer sparkling but were overtaken by a sort of heady darkness. She stepped closer to him and his heart stilled in his chest. He did not know if it was the glass of champagne he had or her proximity, but he felt a heat wash over him, and his head felt almost swollen with her perfume, and her eyes and her warmth. Her eyes drifted down to his lips before they met his eyes again, her gaze was piercing and Bakugou felt like he was looking at himself from outside of his body. He had always been proud of all his actions, sure of all his movements but something about thsi women disarmed him; he could not remember how they had gotten here; all he knew was that something inside of him did not care anyway.

She stretched upwards and her breath fanned across his face. There was a creak from the door that woke him up from his stupor. He quickly took a step back and turned to see who it was that interrupted them. There in the doorway stood Todoroki. He did not seem to be surprised to see them, he stared at Ochako with an almost indifferent look, and it was only when his eyes drifted to him that Bakugou was jolted to motion. He crossed the room in long strides and passed Todoroki as he left through the door. Something in his gut told him he should stay away from the couple, and he always trusted his gut.

He needed to find Jirou and leave.

 

****

However, it seemed that the couple did not want to stay away from him, because in the morning, Shouto Todoroki stood on his doorstep. Bakugou tensed but all the man did was ask him if he could come in.

Todoroki was dressed in a light grey suit, the lines of which were softer than the one he wore yesterday, it did nothing to hide his impressive build. Bakugou was not used to seeing somebody in his space, the cottage was extremely clean, but the image of the man in his living room made it seem as if it was not his own. Todoroki seemed like the kind of man who commanded every room from afar, but standing right next to him, Bakugou could see that he was more a silent observer.

“ Look, about last night..”

Todorki turned to him, “ There’s no need to apologize.”

Bakugou closed his mouth but he could feel indignation running through him, he was being the bigger person, trying to be better than the impulsive teenager he had been and taking responsibility for what happened. Or what almost happened, his mind reminded him bitterly.

“ The truth is I didn’t come looking for any trouble, I know more than most, that my wife can be quite...captivating,” Todoroki said with a small knowing smile.

Bakugou did not miss the way the man said the word wife, it was possessive but also...not; it was as if he wanted to call her more but was not able to. It was so far removed from the way he acted that Bakugou could only be confused; there seemed to be a genuine fondness between them, more than can be said for most couples of their wealth, but Todoroki was not jealous or angry.

“ The truth is she is distraught about her behaviour last night, and so I have come to apologize to you, and hopefully ask for a favour.”

“ A favour?”

Todroki nodded, “ We would love to have you over for dinner, you can ofcourse bring a guest if it would make you more comfortable.”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes at the man, while Ochako had seemed as if she was always lying, he seemed to be always genuine; the kind of person who only spoke when they had something to say. He knew he should not, but Bakugou had never really cared about shoulds.

“ I’d love to.”

“ It’s settled, see you tomorrow.”

***

That night all he could do was call Jirou.

“ I spoke to her at the party, she asked me a bunch of questions about Momo, how she was dying to meet her.” Jirou’s voice over the phone was slow and smug.

“ Momo?”

“ Well, I would be wary too, considering the history between Todoroki and Momo.”

Bakugou frowned as he looked out of his window at the mansion, “ They know each other.”

There was a short bitter chuckle from Jirou, “ More than know, apparently our darling Momo and Todoroki had a somewhat scandalous love affair; they were supposed to get married, but then he was disowned and went to war and Momo married Shindou.”

“ And Ochako asked you to introduce her to Momo?”

Jirou hummed, “ Weird isn’t it? She seemed genuinely interested in meeting her too. I worried she’d want to rub it in Momo’s face but she doesn’t seem like that kind of person.”

Bakugou nodded but he realized that she could not see him, Jirou was not bothered and continued, “ Anyway, I’ve never heard of them inviting someone for dinner before, I didn’t think they entertained other than for their parties. Do you need me to come with you, because I’ll do it. I’m dying to know more about them.”

Bakugou thought of the small smile on Todoroki’s face when he invited him, how he offered graciously for Bakugou to bring someone with him. How he thought Bakugou would need to.

“ It’s okay. I’ll be fine by myself.” He hung up.

***

The next night, when he approached the gates of the mansion, there was a butler there waiting for him.

“ This way Mr. Bakugou, dinner will be served in the gardens tonight.”

Bakugou followed him through the hall, which looked so much bigger without half of the city crammed inside it and through the large french doors towards the garden. The mansion was shrouded in darkness, which he understood when it seemed that only two people lived in it, but there were lamps positioned all around the garden. The cool air from the river and the scent of the water filled the space. There was already a table with cutlery and candles, Bakugou frowned when he saw that there were only two place settings. .

“ Shouto, they said I’ll find you out -”

Bakugou turned just in time to catch the shocked expression slid off her face. Ochako stared at him before her eyes drifted to the butler who had guided him to the dining table. One of her eyebrows arched, but the man seemed to be purposefully avoiding her eyes.

“ Mr. Bakugou I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”

He put his hand in his pocket and nodded at her, “ I received an invitation from your husband but it seemed to have been given without your knowledge. I can leave, if you want.”

She nodded at him before turning back so that she faced the mansion, she seemd to be having a stare down with the facade of the building, when she turned back to him he saw that she had a small amused smile on her face.

“ You’ve come all of this way, it would be a waste. Please sit.”

The table was smaller than what he had expected, it clearly only fit two people and Ochako seemed to have realized that too because she turned to the butler. This time the man acknowledged her with his eyes drawn to the ground.

“ Mr. Todoroki had some business to attend to, but he informed me that you should both enjoy the meal without him.”

Ochako scoffed, “ Of course he did.”

Bakugou could see that she seemed to be at ease now, her shoulders were not tense, her smile not as easy to come. Her dress was plain and looked soft and worn and she barely had any makeup on. This was supposed to be her in her natural state but Bakugou could still not shake the feeling that this was still an act. A part of him wanted to question her, find out what she and her husband were playing at, but another part of him wanted to watch her crack.

They managed to go through the appetizers and half way through the main course before she finally spoke up, “ I wanted to apologize for the night of the party.”

Bakugou cut into his meat and looked up, “ Is that why your husband invited me over and fucking left, in an effort to humiliate you?”

Her eyes widened at his language and bluntness and Bakugou could feel a small twinge of satisfaction at finally catching her off guard, but his frustration only grew when she simply smiled before taking a sip from her wine glass. Bakugou noted that that was the first time he had seen her drink, he did not think he saw neither husband nor wife indulge at their party.

“ I don’t think Shouto’s aim was to humiliate me. I think he just wanted to make sure we got along.”

“ Is that how you usually get along with all of your neighbours?”

She looked downright happy at his curt tone, “ No, but I think my husband knew that you were special.”

Bakugou shot up from his chair before he could fully register it himself, “ Right. Your husband.”

He placed his napkin down before he started making his way back to the house, from behind him he could hear that she was following him, but he refused to look back.

It was only when he was back in the entrance hall, almost at the door that she managed to catch up to him. Her hand grabbed his elbow and jerked him to a stop.

“ Bakugou, wait.”

He turned to her, they were close, even closer than they were that night. But this time, there was no quiet building tension, Bakugou was angry, he was confused and everybody who knew him, knew that was not a good combination. Her eyes widened when she met his, she seemed to finally understand the full extent of his rage.

“ Why the fuck should I?” he seethed, “ It is clear that you and your husband only seek to -”

“ He's not my husband.”

He stilled, “ What?”

Her eyes closed briefly and she seemed to be thinking, but she opened them again and there was a flash of determination on her face that he had not seen before. She had never looked so beautiful.

“ Shouto and I are only married in name. It’s an arrangement, we’ve never-”

She seemed to be at a loss on how to continue, but Bakugou had heard enough. He crashed his lips to hers and it took her only a second to recover. They melted into each other right there in the front hall.

Much later that night, Bakugou woke up in her room, alone and naked. Images of what they had done, of her soft, yielding flesh and her short gasps flashed over his eyes. Moon light filtered into the room through the huge balcony doors and he got up and dressed with only its light for guidance. The house was quiet and dark when he got out of the room. Down the hall he could see a light in one of the rooms where the door was left ajar.

He was filled with a sense of deja vu but he walked towards it either way. He peered through the crack and saw them. Ocahko was in the room, dressed in a flimsy grey robe, talking to Todoroki, who was in clear distress, his head was bent down and his breathing quick and angry. He was sitting down in a leather chair across from her, head down and sleeves rolled up. Ochako was smoothing his hair, her voice nothing but a gentle whisper as she comforted him. There was so much gentleness in that room, so much true affection and warmth and love. It was the exact opposite of what they had done a few hours ago.

Bakugou stepped back, put on his jacket and left.

***

The next morning, there was another knock while he was sketching. He ignored it, the only people who knew his address would not drop by unannounced and something told him that if he saw Todoroki’s scarred face once again he would punch it. The knocking, however, did not stop, if anything it only increased.

As it grew louder and louder, Bakugou slammed his sketchbook shut and stomped to the door. He was surprised when it was not Todoroki, well at least not the male one, who was standing there.

He realized that he had never seen her in the daylight before, they had always met under the shroud of darkness. He expected her to look different in the sun, but he was surprised that she managed to look more and more like the lady he met last night and not the one who had been greeting guests the night of the party. She was tense and looked uncomfortable; he did enjoy watching her so out of her element.

When he refused to say anything she sighted, “ Can I come in?”

He stared at her but moved to the side so she could enter. He was surprised that she did not look out of place in his small living room, if anything she was more comfortable. Her eyes inspected the place, as if searching for anything important, there was a brief flash of disappointment in her face at the bare setting.

“ You left without saying goodbye yesterday.”

He leaned against the wall and crossed his arms, “ You were busy with your husband, I didn’t want to disturb you two.”

He did not enjoy the amusement on her face, “ Are you jealous?”

He frowned, “ You told me that there was nothing between you two, I don’t appreciate being fucking lied to.”

She licked her lips, eyes never leaving his face before she spoke, “ You’re right. I didn’t tell you the entire truth,” she paused collecting her words, “ Shouto and I are married in name only, but I am also not indifferent to him. I have known him a long time, I care about him, deeply, and it’s mutual. That’s why he invited you in the first place.”

“ So what exactly are you guys? He loves you but he doesn’t care that you’re fucking around?”

There was a flash of anger, “ You’re not listening to me. Don’t you have someone like that? Someone you can’t explain what they are to you?”

Bright green eyes and curly hair flashed in his mind, a freckled back and scarred hands that he had left back in Paris. The look on his face must have betrayed his thoughts because she looked a mixture of relieved and smug. She stepped closer to him and he stepped back.

“ Have you ever fucked him?”

She pursed her lips, “ No. It’s not like that between us. He’s my family.”

Bakugou could understand that, even if he didn’t like it. “ Do you want tea?”

A blinding grin came on her face, it made the knot in his stomach tighten, he was fascinated by all the expressions she made. She nodded and he motioned to the couch so she could sit.

They spent the entire day talking, he watched her bloom in front of him as the sun moved across the sky. The line of her back relaxed, her smiles grew more crooked; her face more alive. But he could tell that she was still hiding something from him.

“ The truth is there is another reason Shouto went along with my attraction to you.”

He smirked as he nestled into her neck, “ Don’t tell me he likes to watch?”

She laughed, the sound washing over him, and smacked his shoulder, “ No, this is serious, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”

He stretched back so he was not lying right on top of her. She bit at her lip before sighting and striagening up. “ I was wondering if you could invite your friend Momo here, for a visit, so that Shouto can see her.”

She could probably see the disbelief on his face because she immediately reached out to cup his face, “ Please Bakugou, it would mean the world to him, and I know that you must hate her husband.”

“ So is that why you came today, so that you can reunite your husband and his long lost love?”

She shook her head and turned his face so that he could meet her brown eyes, “No. No. My plan was to get Jirou to invite her, I approached you, because I wanted to. I was watching you at that party; I saw the way you looked at everyone there. It interested me.”

“ And how was I staring at them?”

“Like you knew what they actually are, you’re the only one who saw through it all.”

He peered at her eyes, he could tell she was telling him the truth, the desperation he saw on her face was not for want of the favour, but because she wanted him to not doubt her. And against all his better judgement Bakugou took one of her hands into his and kissed the inside of her palm.

“ And what will we do, while the both of them meet?”

Her smile was relieved, her eyes happy. “ I’m sure we’ll find a way to fill the time.”

****

The day that Momo was scheduled to visit him, both of the Todrokis showed up bright and early. With lots of cake, and at least three blends of tea. Todoroki directed the servants he had brought, on where to place everything while he and Ochako hung back.

Ochako knelt towards him, “ You have to excuse him, he gets like this when he’s excited.”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes at the intense but somewhat detached expression on his face, “ Well fuck, I can’t imagine what he looks like when he’s happy.”

She pursed her lips to hold her laugh back and Bakugou smiled down at her. Todoroki paced up and down the living room.

“ I did want to thank you Bakugou for allowing this.”

Bakugou shrugged, “ Didn’t do it for you.”

Todoroki turned to her, “ Are you sure about this one? He’s quite the demotion.”

Bakugou bristled but Ochako smiled good naturedly at them both. “ Play nice you two,” she walked to one of the dessert displays that were set out on the table and picked up a small tart with a strawberry on top of it, “ Do you want Momo to come here and feel all this tension?”

As if summoned by her words, there was a sound of a car pulling up to the driveway and immediately Todoroki crossed the room in three long strides to look out of the window. Bakugou made his way to the door, just in time to catch Momo getting out of the car. She smiled brightly when she saw him and spoke to the chauffeur who nodded and got back into the car, before she crossed the gravel driveway to him.

“ Bakugou! I was delighted at your invitation.”

The car roared as it started to leave the property and Bakugou waited until it was safely driving up the road before he hurried her inside. “ Yes, yes I know but there’s something you should know..”

Before he finished, he felt her tense as he closed the door. He looked up and immediately understood why. There at the end of the hall was Todoroki. Momo did not seem to care about what he was saying, she looked absolutely floored, an expression that Bakugou had never seen before. Todoroki took the first step towards them and that was all it took for Momo to take slow steps towards the man. Both of them did not seem to be breathing, the air was filled with a stillness that felt like the moment before a gun went off. When they finally met each other in the middle, both of them took in a deep breath. Momo looked over all of his face, eyes soft and hungry, drinking him in.

“ Is it really you? Here?” Her voice was a whisper, on the verge of tears.

Todoroki nodded. To the side of them stood Ochako, hidden behind the arch that led to the kitchen. She nodded at the backdoor and he slowly walked towards her. She held in her giggles until they were in the garden.

“ Thank you Katsuki, really I don’t know how I can possibly explain how much this means to him.”

It was the first time she had used his first name. He squeezed her waist as they made their way through the gates of her mansion.

“ How thankful are you exactly?”

Her eyes were bright as she turned to him and slipped out of his grasp, “That’s up to you to find out.”

Her shrieks echoed through the grounds as he chased her. When he finally caught her and kissed her she tasted like sugar and strawberries.

***

Hours later, when they were both basking in the glow of each other and the setting sun, there was a knock on the door of her room.

“ Ma’am it’s Chicago.”

Ochako slid out of his grasp so quickly, and put on her robe, her smooth back hiding under the fabric. “ I’ll be right back.”

He sighted and collapsed back into the mattress , she had what seemed to be a dozen pillows on her bed. The linens, soft and warm. He glanced at the setting sun from the balcony, they probably would need to get dressed and go to collect Momo and Todoroki soon. Ochako came back in, she smiled at him from the doorway.

“ We should probably go back to get them, it’s late and I need to talk to Shouto about something.”

He nodded and patted the place next to him in the bed, she grinned and jumped in.

“ What about?”

“It’s just work.”

He hummed as he knelt down and kissed the corner of her mouth, “ What is it that your husband does anyway?”

She shifted so he was pressing against her lips, he gave her one peck, two and after the third she leaned back.

“ We should go get them, it’s really getting late.”

She left the bed and started getting dressed and it was only when they were half way to his house that he realized that she never answered his question.

 

****

Chapter Text

Momo came to visit him every single week for the next month. She would come right after breakfast, he would serve her tea, they would talk, never about anything serious. She only ever addressed the elephant in the room once. They had been sitting on his small dining table, sipping from their respective cups and waiting for Ochako and Todoroki to come over. She placed her cup and saucer on the faded wood with a small sigh.

“ I know that this is less than ideal, but I wanted to thank you anyway… for doing this.”

Bakugou stared at her, noted how she avoided his eyes, “ Well, it isn’t for entirely selfless reasons.”

There was a small smile on her face, “ She does seem very nice, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen you this happy.”

“ Well, I have been having a lot more sex.”

She threw her napkin at him. “ Do you have to be so vulgar?”

Before he could reply, the front door opened and immediately Ochako’s voice filled the space.

“ We’re here!”

He smirked at Momo and got up from his chair, ignoring the intense stare that she was sending his way.

***

 

He and Ochako watched from the distance as Todorki and Momo walked on the sands of the beach. The space between them had decreased throughout the visits, Bakugou could not remember the last time Momo had smiled like that, Todoroki too seemed lighter. Less mysterious giant and more man.

He was sketching in his chair, Ochako in front of him, a glass of orange juice half empty in her hand, she was staring at the two lovers with a fond distant look on her face. Something in him tightened at the thought she might be jealous, he did not try to understand her relationship with her husband and he had no delusions about his status; he was not her long lost love. What they had was nothing like what Momo and Todorki had; there was no quiet tenderness between them, no deep unconditional love. It had started as a carnal attraction but he was not sure what it was now, he did not want to examine why the thought of being another one in a long line of lovers bothered him. He did not know if it was because of who they are, or if it was a side effect of being around the other couple.

“ Do you ever want that?”

He glanced at her. “ Want what?”

She pointed at the distant figure of Momo and Todoroki. “ That,” she gulped her drink in one go as if she wished it was something stronger, and turned to face him she motioned with her hand at the facade of the mansion behind him.“ He wanted all of this for her, you know. I had to push him into it. I wonder if she can feel that every time she comes?”

He scoffed and returned to his sketch pad, he would not be analyzing the fact that all of his figures had started to morph to look more and more like her, “Feel what? His undying love? It’s honestly suffocating.”

He glanced at her from the top of his drawing, he could see her profile from here, her eyes were soft as she continued to stare after the couple. “ Not his love, Katsuki, his desperation.”

He frowned at that but he did not question her. She made her way to him and draped herself on his back, her breasts pushed up against him. Her hands came around his waist and she peered over his shoulder at his designs.

“ They’re beautiful.”

He smirked and turned to look at her. “ Of course they are, I have immense talent and you should know that by now.”

She hummed, a mischievous smile on her face. “ You are good with your hands,” her arm stretched and she slowly grazed at one of his designs.“ Do you think you can make me one?”

He looked back at the paper. “ What? A dress?”

He could feel her head move in a nod against his shoulder.“ If you design it I can send the designs to a tailor.”

He huffed, “ Don’t insult me Cheeks, I can make it, you don’t need a tailor.”

She squeaked before cupping his face and making him turn to look at her. “Really? You can do that?”

He wrenched himself from her grip.“ Jesus, my neck, “ he rubbed at his shoulder.“ And yeah of course I can, I’ll just need to get some supplies.”

She rested her head back on his shoulder, her hair tickling the bare skin. “ Tell the servants everything you need. I want to have a famous Katsuki Bakugou dress.”

“ What? Want to brag to all those other society ladies?”

There was a shift in the air and she pressed her lips lightly to his shoulder, when she spoke her voice was lower, nothing but a whisper against his skin, he was not even sure if she had meant for him to hear her. “ I just want to always remember this.”

He tensed, she seemed to be holding her breath behind him, waiting for his response. In front of them was the view of the river and on the opposite end of the bay was Momo’s house. Bakugou stayed silent. She detached herself from him and walked back to where she had been standing.

“ We should probably go inside before it gets too cold.”

She turned to face him, her face was relaxed but he had spent enough time with her the past few weeks to know that the look in her eye was resigned as if he had confirmed something for her. Bakugou supposed he had.

“ Yeah, let’s go back inside.”

The goosebumps on his skin had nothing to do with the cold.

*****

Momo, of course, was still a married woman and could not shirk all of her societal responsibilities. The summer was almost over and she was required to go visit Shindou’s family with him for a week. The air around the mansion was a lot colder, it looked sadder now. It reminded Bakugou of the first time he had seen it like this when Todoroki had invited him over for dinner. Uraraka had stayed over the night before, he cooked her breakfast in the morning. He was starting to notice things about her all the time; she had a southern twang to her voice in the early hours after she had just woke up; she preferred tea to coffee and had it with an insulting amount of sugar and a squeeze of lemon and she slept like the dead. His cottage was small, he was sure that any normal person would be able to hear him in the kitchen but she managed to sleep through it every time, he would have to wake her up physically if he wanted her to get up.

His living room was even smaller now, that he had an entire corner dedicated to the making of her dress. He had rolls of fabric, a machine, and a mannequin, it had not even taken her a day to procure everything he needed, it stroked a primal part of him; that she so clearly wanted something he made. He was surprised at how well they established a routine, if he stayed with her in the mansion she would leave him after breakfast and go to the study where she seemed to be working on something, he was not completely sure but he figured that a house that big was difficult to run. He would usually either leave to his cottage after breakfast or stay and read from the impressive library they had. Sometimes he and Todoroki would even talk, or play a game of football. The days would pass in mundane contentment. Ochako rarely stayed at his cottage, but she somehow fit his routine so well. She helped him clear the table and chased him out of the kitchen so he can work on the dress. The thought that he would not mind living the rest of his life like this, struck him while he was draping; he could hear the clink of dishes as she went around in the kitchen, it was as if they occupied a pocket in the universe. He had to immediately strike it down, they were not like that, he did not know what they were but the weird fucked up circumstance they found themselves in would surely not end with him and her in a small house completely at ease. Not that he wanted it to.

But the thought seemed to bury itself in his mind. He did not even realize how long he had been out of it until she came and hugged him from behind; hands still slightly damp roping around his torso.

“ When do you think it’ll be done?”

“Patience,” he reprimanded her, she asked him the same question every day.

“ I can’t help it,” she whined, “ I want to wear it for the next party.”

He turned his head to the side fixing her with a look. “ It’s been a while since you’ve had those.”

She nodded. “ I know, we’ve been busy,” she chuckled and squeezed his middle before disconnecting from him and making her way to the couch, he stared at her bare feet.“ But they do serve a purpose, and summer is almost over so we should end it with a bang, don’t you think?”

“ I suppose.”

There was a squeak from the couch and she quickly shot up. “ God, is that the time?”

She rushed to the bedroom and he could hear her rummaging; she did everything so loudly.

“ Do you have to leave?”

“Yeah,” she shouted, “I’m expecting a very important phone call.”

She rushed back into the living room in a whirlwind of fabric and panic and quickly pecked him on the cheek.

“ I’ll see you later.”

Then she was gone, and Bakugou was all alone with a small smile on his face.

****

At this point, all the servants knew him. The mansion, once intimidating with its many rooms, was now familiar. It was late evening, he had engrossed himself with his work to the point where he had missed lunch and had not even noticed until the sun had set and it was too dark for him to work without switching on the lights. He was too tired to cook and Ochako’s chef did make decent enough food for him to have no qualms about showing up for dinner. He had done it before.

He did not find her in her room, or the library, he was about to ask one of the many silent servants when he heard whispering from the study with the telescope. He quietly made his way down the corridor, catching her voice as she talked with Todoroki.

“ - for you to end up disappointed.”

From his angle, he could see the back of her head as she talked with Todoroki, who was facing the window, it felt like the first night when he had seen them on the dock.

“ She said she’ll talk to him.”

Ochako sighted, it was laden with frustration.“ We still have to do this, we’ve worked so hard we can’t let it all-”

Todoroki snapped his hand down on the side table, the crack of his palm against the wood shocked Bakugou but Ochako did not seem surprised with it.

“ Isn’t that why we did everything, in the first place. So we won’t have to care about what we are supposed to do, or who we’re supposed to be?”

The last part seemed to be directed at Ochako herself and was laced with bitterness. Something in Bakugou’s stomach twisted, he had never seen them act this way. He had not even known that Todoroki could be so angry.

“ Oh, Shouto,” Ochako said with pity and understanding, “ You know better than anybody that is the furthest thing from the truth.”

Todoroki did not say anything, the silence lasted for centuries, or at least it seemed like that to Bakugou.

“ I’m sorry, you’re right.”

Ochako took a few steps and took his hand in hers, Bakugou hated how comfortable they were with each other’s touch. They did not act like two people who were not in love with each other.

“ Of course I am, we’ve come this far but we can’t forget that this all could come crumbling down around us.”

Shouto nodded and squeezed her hand back. Bakugou had seen enough, he had been an idiot to get himself involved with them. It did not matter that Momo and Todoroki were in love, Ochako was not his, and Todoroki was not Momo’s. He took a step back but he had been standing in his place for so long and the door of the study opened suddenly. Todoroki stood there with wide eyes.

“ Bakugou?”

Behind him, Bakugou could see Ochako turn quickly from where she stood by the window. The surprised grin she shot his way, made something in his chest constrict. Todoroki looked at both of them and passed by Bakugou, he placed his hand on Bakugou’s shoulder and squeezed quickly.

“ I’m assuming you’re staying for dinner, “ he said with a smile and walked away, voice calling back amusingly, “ Don’t make me wait, you two.”

Ochako smiled and motioned for him to come into the room. “Katsuki, I missed you.”

He scoffed, “ You seemed fine to me.”

She frowned and took a step towards him. “ Don’t do this.”

He looked down at his shoes, he could still feel her eyes on him.

“ Do you know why we throw our parties every weekend?”

The question caught him off guard and he looked up at her before looking to the side.

“ I’m not dumb Cheeks, I know both of you are shady as hell, I figured it had something to do with all of your money.”

She nodded and he was taken back by the fact that she did not even try to deny it.

“ It didn’t start that way though.” She motioned to the room around them. “Everything you see here, Shouto and I had to work for; we built an empire from nothing.”

“ Most people are not so flippant about breaking the law.”

It was her turn to scoff, “ The law means nothing Katsuki, you know that,” she said with disappointment. He said nothing and swallowed the tightness that was climbing up the back of his throat.
“ The parties started,” she continued, “ As an attempt to lure Momo in. It was my idea, it was all for her, for the small chance that he would get to see her again. But she never did, not until you moved in next door.”

He met her eyes and the pain in them shocked him. She did not seem to care though, and she continued. “ Do you know what that does to a person? Knowing someone could love someone that fiercely but never being able to even fathom it, knowing that after each night the person you love most in the world would be heartbroken?” she said, her voice tight and low, “It breaks something in you, but the parties continued, and they were good for business and so I overlooked it all. And that was selfish of me, I admit, but I will not go back to the person I was Katsuki. This money you look down on, it gave me everything. It even gave me you.”

His eyes widened, the words were phrased like an afterthought but they were deliberate, she cared about him enough to justify all of this. He crossed the room and cupped her face, she met his eyes head-on. He could see the desperation and the pain in them clear as day. At that moment, he knew that he did not care, he did not care that she was married, or how exactly she had gotten her fortunes or even what her past was. He did not care as long as he could be by her side through it all.

“ Come to Paris with me.”

It was Ochako’s turn to be shocked. “ What?”

“ After the party, I need to go back, but come with me Cheeks.”

She shook her head, “ Katsuki I can’t.”

He gripped her face tiger and bent down so that they were eye to eye. “ Yes, you can. Todoroki won’t mind, you don’t have to be with him all the time, do you? Leave this place Cheeks, come with me.”

“Momo told Shouto she’ll leave her husband soon, they’re going to tell him at the party next weekend-”

“ That sounds like they’ll be together soon, anyway. Isn’t it about time that you did for yourself what you have been doing for him?”

Her eyes seemed to search his, darting across his entire face. “ I have work.”

“ And Todoroki can’t handle it for a few months? You can always come back to visit. Come on Cheeks, say yes.”

He held his breath as she bit her lip, her eyes darted to the side. “ Give me some time to think, yeah?”

He could feel disappointment build in him but he squashed it down.

“ Of course.”

That night, Bakugou could not sleep. He ended up working until the early hours of the morning on the dress. By the time the sun rose, his fingers had been pricked about a hundred times, he was exhausted and his back was killing him, but it was done. He had made his first official Katsuki Bakugou dress, with no input from his parents, no help from the tailors at the fashion house. This was his from start to finish.

And Ochako was going to wear it.

He immediately fell into his bed in a heap and slept right through the evening. When he woke up he felt a tinge of disappointment that she had not come to visit him yet. Bakugou was a light sleeper, if she had knocked or entered he would have known. He tried to not think too much of the emptiness that screamed inside of him. He carefully wrapped the dress in tissue paper and put it inside a box, before walking up to the mansion gates and giving it to the first servant he saw.

There were three days left before the party. Ochako did not come to see him.

***

By the time that the night of the party came around, he was in a horrid mood. A part of him did not want to go, but there was also a part of him who hoped that he would enter that giant hall, that their eyes would meet across the throngs of guests just like they did the first he saw her and that this time she would not be able to look away.

The fact that he had to see Shindou did not improve his mood at all. Momo and Shindou had pulled up in their car to pick him up. Immediately he knew that something was amiss because the air in that two-minute drive to the mansion was filled with a tension he could almost touch. Momo was tense, Shindou seemed angry, but Bakugou did not care about him anyway. He made a note to stick by Momo’s side for the rest of the night, just in case.

When they entered the mansion seemed to be even more cramped than before. A party had not been hosted for a while and it was clear that the people had missed their weekly release, the energy in the room was bundling up and Bakugou was glad that he did not live here because he did not want to be there when it finally burst.

“ This place is a mess.” Shindou hissed from next to him.

Momo was looking around, and Bakugou’s heart squeezed when Todoroki materialized by her side. Ochako would not be far then.

“ Momo! I’m so happy you made it!”

Bakugou looked up and felt the breath leave his lungs. She was wearing his dress and it looked amazing. The fabric hung on her figure and framed it in waves, the heavy beadwork shone under the light of the hall and left blurry lines in her wake. He had created something from scratch, transformed it from a drawing to a physical form but Ochako had brought his vision to life.

“ Ochako, this is my husband. Shindou this is Ochako, Todoroki’s wife.”

Shindou’s eyes widened, but he immediately smiled and took Ochako’s hand to kiss. Bakugou hated that about him, Ochako wore her mask to protect herself, Shindou wore his to lure people.

“ My, my, stories of your beauty do not do you justice.”

Ochako smiled widely before ushering all of them deeper into the mansion. She played the perfect hostess throughout the night, she poured champagne for them, she laughed with Shindou. Bakugou was sure that she was the only reason that Shindou had not noticed how close Momo and Todoroki were standing to each other. Bakugou also noted how Ochako seemed to be actively avoiding him, she had not looked in his direction all night.

He felt raw, agitated. He had exposed himself that night, asked her to stay the way he had never asked anybody else to do. Bakugou had always been the one to leave, the one to never develop any attachments, but he had overturned all of that at the chance that they might have more mornings like the one they had all summer. He had thought that it would be a done deal and every single second in this mansion, every second she ignored him was an insult; a declaration that she did not want the same things he did.

She had left their little group a while back, moving around the party and playing the perfect hostess. She shone in his dress and a small part of him was dreading going back to Paris and creating other clothes, he did not think he would create anything else that would compare; anything that would make his heart ease the way she did. Next to him on one of the makeshift bars, Shindou was talking to a woman, who managed to look about seventeen. Bakugou wanted to punch him. He glanced around and caught her again, he suspected that he will always be able to catch her in a crowd.

She was talking to a tall man with dark hair, her hand was on his forearm and that was all he could focus on. Before he knew it he was across the room, right behind her. He caught himself before he said anything stupid, but his hand stretched across the infinite space that seemed to stretch between them and grazed the bare skin of her upper arm. She turned to look at him, eyes wide.

“ Bakugou.” Her voice was surprised, admonishing, her eyes pleading with him.

“ Is this your friend Mrs. Todoroki?”

She turned back to the man and gently pushed Bakugou forward so that he was standing by her side, “ Commissioner, this is Katsuki Bakugou, he’s our neighbor,” she said lightly and motioned at her dress, “ He is also the designer of this beautiful dress.”

The man, the commissioner, smirked down at her, the look on his face as smarmy as can be. It seemed Bakugou had to add another person into the list of people he wanted to punch.

“ Well, then every man in this room should thank him.”

Ochako giggled, it was a sound Bakugou had never heard her make before. Ochako would laugh and chuckle and clear her throat to hide her joy. She did not giggle.

“ Cheeks I have to talk to you about something.”

She tensed at the nickname and the smile on the commissioner’s face instantly dropped, he cleared his throat.

“ I’ll talk to you later, Mrs. Todoroki.”

Ochako nodded at him and turned quickly to face Bakugou once the man had become another head in the crowd. She grabbed his forearm and dragged him out to the gardens through one of the huge open doors. Instantly Bakugou felt better, the summer air washing over him, and the lessened crowd lifting his mood a little.

“ What is wrong with you?” she hissed quietly.

“ You’ve been avoiding me.”

Her eyes widened and she sighted, she turned to look around, even now she managed to be on guard.

“It’s complicated.”

“ So what you’re fixing it by not telling me anything? You know if you wanted to say no all you had to d-”

“ I don’t want to say no.”

He stilled at that. “What?”

She turned to him and finally, finally her eyes were on him, they were clear and focused. Nothing mattered, it was only them in this crowd of hundreds. It was the kind of focused look she gave to the party-goers, only it was better because there was no pretense to it. He was looking at Ochako and she was looking at him.

“ All I have been able to do is think about you...and Paris,” she confessed, “ I talked with Shouto about it, and he wants me to be happy,” she paused and laughed bitterly, “ That is all we’ve ever wanted for each other anyway. I still of course had to tie loose ends, finalize somethings before I could travel to another continent for a few weeks. Things that you just halted because of your impatience.”

She glared at him but there was no real malice to it.

“ Why did you not tell me any of this?”

“ I was going to surprise you, if I had not managed to finish by tonight I would have talked to you about following you to Paris anyway. I have been working too hard lately,” she said and a mischievous grin took over her entire face, “I’m sure Shouto would have been able to handle a few things.”

Bakugou smirked and looked down at her. “ You still haven’t told me what exactly it is that you guys do.”

Her hands came up grazed over the lapels of his jacket. “ That’s only for me to know, can’t have you knowing all my secrets.”

Bakugou smiled down at her, “ So what? This all has a fucking happy ending?”

“ Well, if everything goes as planned, Momo and Shouto talk to her husband after the party ends today and Momo will ask for a divorce.”

Bakugou felt an almost sick pleasure in the idea that by the end of the night, Shinodu would be blindsided and he would be that much closer to what he wanted. He glanced back at the room filled with guests, his eyes wandering to the bar. He tensed when he saw that Shindou was not there and he quickly scanned the huge room. Something did not feel right.

“ Hey Cheeks, where are Todoroki and Momo?”

****

Ochako had immediately alerted one of the servants to keep an eye out but it was not hard to find Momo and Todoroki and unfortunately Shindou with them. Bakugou crushed at himself as he ran towards the tree line, Ochako on his heels, where he could already start to hear the yells of Shindou.

“ -you can divorce me?”
There was clear anger in Shindou’s voice and Bakugou pushed himself to run even faster. They found them at the edge of the grounds, hidden away by the foliage. Todoroki had pushed himself between Momo and Shindou while the man was angry yelling.

“ WE ARE LEAVING RIGHT NOW!”

Bakugou stopped right before he reached them.

“ Shindou you need to calm down.”

The man turned to him, face red and eyes enraged, “And you! You knew about it all along didn’t you and you just played along? I always knew you didn’t like me but this is a whole new low.”

“ That’s rich coming from you.”

They all turned around where Ochako was walking towards them. She was glaring specifically at Shindou.

“ What are you even talking about?”

Ochako came to a stop next to Bakugou. Her head was held high and her shoulders were back, he had never seen her like that. This was not the trickster hostess he saw inside or the carefree girl who would hum every time she took a bite of his pancakes. He was not sure who this was.

“ I talked to Momo when she came to visit often,” she stated, “ Girl talk, you know? She shared how often you left the house, how busy your work kept you. I looked into it, imagine my surprise when I found out you have a mistress, a mistress you have kept since the before your marriage.” Ochako fixed Shinodu with a glare so lethal Bakugou felt flutters in his stomach. “ Momo is within her full rights to ask for a divorce. Adultery is very frowned upon.”

Shindou scoffed and gestured at all of them, “ And what the fuck do you call this then, is this not adultery?”

Ochako smiled at him, “ I have ample proof of your… ministrations. Momo has been visiting us for the summer, a couple she’s friends with, and her childhood friend who is our neighbor. Hardly anything scandalous and unlike me, you will have a very hard time finding anyone who would say otherwise.” The smirk she directed at the man almost made Bakugou want to question their entire time together. “ Good discrete help costs so much these days, I won’t count on you finding anything.”

Shindou laughed and wagged his finger at her, Bakugou could feel the rage coming on, “ You’re something else, a right bitch I’ll give you that, but you should not underestimate me.” He took a step closer to her and Bakugou stepped in front of her. “ You see? You two managed to pique my interest, and the story just doesn’t add up. A disgraced son and some farm whore getting lucky and making this much money, ” He motioned to the house. “ I’ll find a way to bring you down even if it’s the last thing I do.”

Ochako smiled at him, her eyes cold and distant. “ Be my guest.”

Shindou stood still as if waiting for her to fold, but when she did not he stormed off. They all watched him leave with various expressions of relief and disbelief on their faces.

“ You never told me you were looking into him,” Todoroki said with no small amount of reverence in his voice.

Ochako smiled as she turned towards him. “ A married woman still needs to have her secrets.”

***

“ You know I never found out what you did?” Bakugou said, turning his head to look at the woman draped over his workbench.

Ochako’s head perked up and she fixed him with an amused look. “ I don’t do anything anymore, it’s all Todoroki,” she said wistfully.

Bakugou scoffed, “ Yeah and that’s why you still won’t move permanently here?”

She placed her head back on the bench and he turned back to the mannequin he was working on.

“ How about this? I’ll tell you a different secret if you drop it.”

That made him stop what he was doing, he turned around fully to face her. He could not see her face but he knew she was smiling.

“ Depends, what’s the secret?”

She turned to him a smug smile on. “ My full name is Ochako Uraraka.”

Bakugou’s eyes widened, and Ochako burst into laughter at his facial expression, her joy filling his studio.