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a heart swelled to bursting

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“I’m gonna miss you.”

Bakugou looks over from where he’s shoving the last of his laundry into a mesh bag.  Kirishima is sprawled out facedown on his bed, sulking.  “Well get over it.”

“No.”

Bakugou pulls the drawstrings on the bag shut.

“Bakugooouu…”

Stop.

Kirishima shoves himself up onto his elbows.  “Come on!  You can’t even say you’ll miss me back?”

“I don’t say shit I don’t mean.”

“That is a lie,” Kirishima accuses.  “You’re gonna miss me so much.  You’re gonna text me every day, asking for dates and for me to come over and hold your hand and make out with you and get us off.”

“Forget that, you can get yourself off,” Bakugou drawls, slipping his phone from his pocket to shoot his father a text.  “I’m going to enjoy my summer by never seeing your face during it.”

“Except for at the training camp.”

Bakugou almost manages to hide the way his fingers pause before he hits ‘send.’  “Whatever.”

Kirishima, of course, can’t just let that go and slides from his bed to come up behind Bakugou, wrapping his arms around his waist and resting his forehead against the back of Bakugou’s shoulder.  “Do you wanna just not go?  We can do something else, go to a theme park or just hang out.”

Bakugou takes a moment to debate throwing his elbow back into Kirishima’s stupid face and stalking out.  “Why the fuck would I not want to go to a training camp that literally our entire year is going to?” Bakugou growls.

“Man, c’mon.”

“Get the fuck off me.”  Bakugou doesn’t elbow Kirishima in the face, but he does wrestle out of his grip and shove him back, grabbing his laundry bag and slinging it over his shoulder.  He makes the mistake of looking up at Kirishima and spots him scraping his teeth gently over his bottom lip.  Fuck.  He’s going to have to fight really hard against texting Kirishima the second he wakes up tomorrow, just to prove a point.  “I’m going, and you’re sure as hell going.  We’re all going.  None of us are cowards.”

“You’re not a coward,” Kirishima says softly.

“What the fuck did I just say?  I know that.”

Kirishima reaches for Bakugou’s wrist, circling it slowly with his fingers.  Bakugou’s phone buzzes in his hand.  “I’m gonna miss you so much.  Even if we text every day and go on dates.”

Bakugou absolutely cannot let on how much he feels the same.  Those words can never escape his mouth, but judging by the way Kirishima leans in to kiss him they don’t even need to.  His cover’s already blown by the way he’s ignoring his phone buzzing again and tilting his head into the kiss, eyes shut.  The laundry bag gets heavy in his grip so he drops it, which leaves him with a free hand he can use to grip the stupid ponytail Kirishima’s been keeping his hair in when he doesn’t have to go to class.  Stupid fucking thing is even dumber looking than his sky-high spikes, but at least it’s better than it all hanging in his face.  It’s so stupid.

Kirishima hums when Bakugou scrapes his nails over his scalp.  Bakugou’s phone buzzes again, so he tosses the damn thing onto his bed and buries his other hand in Kirishima’s hair too.  Kirishima’s hands find his waist and pull him closer and Bakugou presses down a little to slip his tongue into Kirishima’s mouth, dragging over one of the points of his teeth.  “Shit,” Kirishima whispers, voice shaky and breathless.  Bakugou wants to record that fucking word and listen to it over and over and over again, all summer.

“Hey Bakugou, someone’s out front looking f- oh guys, come on.  The door’s not even shut.”

“Fuck off Soy Sauce,” Bakugou mutters, opening his eyes just enough to take in how Kirishima’s eyelashes are fanning over his blushed cheeks.  Fuck.

“Your dad’s out front, man.”

Kirishima licks his lips, finally opening his eyes.  “You better go.”

“Trying to get rid of me, asshole?  Thought you were gonna miss me sooo much,” Bakugou mutters.

“Damn it,” Kirishima groans, wrapping his arms around Bakugou’s neck.  “I am.  Dammit dude, I already miss you and you aren’t even gone yet.”

“Get off me,” Bakugou says.  Kirishima takes it as an invitation to hop up and wrap his legs around Bakugou’s waist instead.  “Fucker, get the fuck off me.  This is like the least manliest thing you’ve ever fucking done.”

“I know,” Kirishima mumbles into Bakugou’s neck.

“You’re embarrassing yourself.”

“Seriously, you’re embarrassing everybody,” calls Sero from the door.

“Promise you’ll text me.”

Bakugou sends a glare at the door, but Sero just grins at him and leans against the doorjamb.  Bastard.  “…fine.  I.  Promise I’ll text your stupid ass.”

“Every day.”

“Get off of me Kirishima!”

 


 

“Had a hard time getting away, huh?” his dad muses as Bakugou finally manages to hurl his bag into the back of the car and throw himself into the front seat.  When they don’t move Bakugou glares at his father, only to see him point at his passenger side window.

Kirishima is standing there, about to tap on the glass.

“Drive,” says Bakugou.  His father rolls down the passenger side window instead. 

“Hi Mr. Bakugou,” Kirishima says, waving.

His dad leans over.  “Hey there Eijirou.  How’ve you been?”

“Oh, really good.  My little sister’s apparently bouncing off the walls about me coming back for the summer.  I’m just waiting for my mom to get off work so she can come get me.”

“Need a lift?”

“Nah, it’s okay.  UA’s on the way home anyhow.  Thanks for the offer, sir.”

“Oh my god,” Bakugou groans, sinking down in his seat.  “Fuckin’ exchange phone numbers already.  Kirishima.  Go away.

Ahhhh!  Bakugou, you were gonna leave without telling anybody else?!”  Ashido comes running from the dorms and Bakugou wants to bang his head against the dashboard until he knocks himself out.

Asui comes ambling out after her, carting along her own bags.  “Are you really surprised?”  She sets her bags down on the sidewalk and sits on one of them.  “He has an image to keep up, after all.”

Ashido is having none of it.  “Bakugou!”  She stamps her foot.  “I can’t believe you weren’t gonna say goodbye to me!”

Okay well he can’t stand for that, the whole presuming that they’re friends thing.  Bakugou half-lunges out the window, shoving Kirishima aside so he can shout, “That would be because I don’t fucking care about you!”

Uraraka calls across the courtyard, “He was probably worried he would start crying.”

Of happiness, bitch!  Graduation day is going to be the fucking pinnacle of my social life because I’ll never have to see any of you assholes again!”  He glares up at Kirishima, who has turned away from him, shaking.  “Fucking stop laughing!  This is your fault!  I could’ve been out of here by now!”

“Ah haha,” Kirishima snorts, not even bothering to hide his grin.  “That’s right.  You forgot your wristband.”  He pulls the leather strap from his pocket and hands it over.  It was a present, some stupid couples thing they did during Christmas where they exchanged gifts.  Kirishima had gotten him this leather strap that admittedly didn’t look fucking awful, carefully worn and with a skull burned into it.  Bakugou takes it and pretends that his face isn’t turning red when he remembers how shitty his giftcard-to-a-coffee-place present had been in return.

“I’ll text you tomorrow,” Kirishima is saying.

“Whatever,” Bakugou mutters.

“Bye, Mr. Bakugou!  Nice talking to you.”

“See you around Eijirou, take care of yourself.  Say hi to your family for me.”

Bakugou doesn’t push himself back up to sit properly until they’re nearly off the hill the school’s built upon.  His phone is in his hands before he realizes what he’s doing and he angrily shoves it away.

“You like that boy quite a bit, huh?”  Bakugou’s dad has the audacity to sound amused.

“He’s fucking annoying.”

“He’s good for you.”  His dad glances over.  “Could you get your seatbelt on, kiddo?”

“Don’t call me that.”  Bakugou waits a reasonable amount of time before complying, so his dad doesn’t think it’s because he asked.

“Listen Katsuki, about that training camp…”

Bakugou throws his head back and groans.

“Now come on son, don’t be like that.  Your mother and I are just trying to do what’s best for you.”

“No you’re not, you’re hovering!  Fuck!  I’m seventeen and I’ll go to the fucking camp if I want to, got it?”

“I want to make sure you’re not going because you’re trying to push yourself,” his dad says gently.

“I’m not.  I’m going because I’m training to be a professional hero, god damn it! Everybody else is going and I’m not falling behind.  I’m not gonna say it again!”

“I’m just not so sure this is a good idea to begin with.”  His dad taps his fingers against the steering wheel.  “For any of you kids.  It’s even in the mountains again, couldn’t they have picked somewhere different?”

“It is somewhere different, it’s in the opposite direction as the last place.  Shockingly, there’s mountains all over.  Fucking relax.”

“Katsuki, you…”  His dad shakes his head.  “You don’t know what it’s like, to open your door and see the police standing there to tell you that your son’s been kidnapped.  You just don’t understand what that does to a parent.  I hope you never do.”

Bakugou sinks back down into his seat.  His phone is too warm in his hands and he shoves it back into his pocket, wiping the sweat from his palms on his jeans.  “Whatever,” he grunts after a moment, staring out the window, “you guys worry too fucking much.”

He ignores it when he dad reaches over and pats his knee, and he ignores it when his dad turns on the radio to fill the silence with noise.  His phone sits heavy in his pocket.

One week until the camp.

Chapter Text

Bakugou wakes up to his phone buzzing on his nightstand.  He debates blowing it up before deciding that having to redo all his settings on a new phone is more trouble than just ignoring it.  He rolls over to do just that when it buzzes again and in a fit of frustration, he grabs it.  Why doesn’t he put it on silent when he goes to bed?  Because he expects people to be fucking courteous and not text him at-

Jesus.  At six-thirty in the morning.

And of course it’s Kirishima.

This Asshole: miss you!!!!
This Asshole: day 1 w/o u
This Asshole: woke up & rold over n u werent there :((((

Jesus Christ.

BOOMgod: dont ever again fuckin text me @ six in the fuckign mornng.

Bakugou puts his phone on silent, tosses it back onto his nightstand and stares at his door.  In the dorms Kirishima’s room would’ve been right behind that wall, right next to his.  Bakugou can’t remember how many times they’d snuck out of their rooms after hours just to sneak into the other’s.  Kaminari seemed to take personal offense that all they did was just sleep in the same bed.  Wasted opportunity, he muttered to himself when Kirishima told him, I cannot believe you two.

Bakugou rolls over.

Punches his pillow.

…god damn it, grabs his phone and checks his messages.

This Asshole: ok well put ur phone on silent bc im gonna keep texting u
This Asshole: I no ur gonna check it again n e way bc ur so tsun
This Asshole: ugh I cant sleep in im 2 used 2 getting up 4 class
This Asshole: this sux im tired Dx
This Asshole: if u were here I could cuddle u
This Asshole: ur like a sedative man I swer I could just lay down w u n then im asleep I miss that
This Asshole: r u sure ur not secretly midnight
This Asshole: dont think the outfit would fit u but the sadist part def does
This Asshole: ok mebbe the outfit 2

Bakugou rolls his eyes.

BOOMgod: dumbass. i’ve seen your uniform. the bondage look is all you.

This Asshole: !!! BAKUBRO UR STILL AWAKE come 2 my house and get in my bed until I fall back asleep

BOOMgod: is my name nyquil? get a body pillow.

This Asshole: I miss u

BOOMgod: you said that. you’re pretty pathetic without me.

This Asshole: :((((( i really am im not kidding im losing so much man cred w/o u
This Asshole: how could u do this 2 me i didnt autherize this
This Asshole: well ok i mean I guess I did when i agreed 2 date but NO
This Asshole: i miss ur stupid perfect face. dont u dare change it before i get 2 see it again

Bakugou shoves his head under his pillow in hopes that maybe if he suffocates to death, he’ll stop blushing over the stupid mushy shit his stupid mushy boyfriend says.

 


 

“Katsuki, come here!”

Bakugou stops at the door and spies his mother flipping through a binder at the table, sipping her coffee.  Fuck.  She’s going to ask his opinion on something he doesn’t care about and he’ll be here for the next twenty minutes.  “I’m going on a run.”

His mom gives him a Look and then glances over at the clock on the wall.  “At seven in the morning.  You.

He bristles.  “I’m still on fucking school time, all right?”

“Get over here and look at this for me.”

“I don’t fucking care about color schemes,” he groans, but sulks his way over to the table anyhow.

“Which one of these looks better with the furniture in this picture?”

His mother has him looking at swatches and styles and modern versus traditional decorating for, as he guessed, like twenty fucking minutes.  It doesn’t matter if he actually looks at anything, or if he actively tries to sabotage her tastes by deliberately picking the most hideous combinations he can think of.  It doesn’t matter if he lays facedown on the table and just points to a random photo when she asks.  He knows what he is.  He’s a living prop that she uses to soundboard.  That’s probably the whole reason she even bothered giving birth to him.  God she’s annoying.

“All right you whiner, get out of here.”

Finally,” Bakugou explodes, shoving his chair back and bolting for the door.

“Make sure the trash is sorted while you’re out there!”

“God, fine.

“And get some milk on the way home, we’re out!”

“Holy shit Mom, do you actually do anything around here?”

“What did you just say to me, bitch?!”

 


 

The problem with living in the same neighborhood all your life is that people start to think they can also parent you because they’ve known you since you were a newborn.  People get comfortable with you.  And while Bakugou has managed to keep the neighborhood kids more or less under his thumb or at least out of his way, the same doesn’t go for the old busybodies or the other neighborhood mothers, who remember him crying when he fell down and scraped his knees that one time and apparently used that image as a foundation for his character instead of all the ass-kicking he did after that.

“Oh, Katsuki!  How are you today sweetheart?”

Mrs. Fukayama is barely four feet tall and half blind.  Bakugou has a short temper but he is not, contrary to popular belief, a fucking monster.  If the grandma who used to give him frozen tangerine sections and barley tea when he did her summer yardwork at his parents’ behest wants to think of him a sweetheart, then he’ll let her.

“Fine,” he grunts.  Doesn’t mean he has to encourage her delusions though.

“So grumpy this morning.”  At least Mrs. Fukayama can take it.  Bakugou chalks it up to her being old and not giving a single fuck.  “Are you happy to be out of school?”

“It’s.  Whatever.”  Bakugou glowers at the unbound cardboard in the trash and roots around for some twine.  “There’s a training camp in a week, so it’s not like I’m going to go long without having to see the assholes in my class anyway.”

She tuts at his language but doesn’t correct him.  Everybody on the block knows his mother.  “Don’t you have friends?  You have that red boy over sometimes, I forget his name.”

Bakugou flushes, glad he has his back to her.  “He was getting annoying.”

“I think he’s a very nice boy.  Bring him back around, he has a good smile.”

Bakugou rolls his eyes and tightens the twine knot.  “Do I look like your dating service?  Invite him yourself.”

“Oh ho ho!  Give me his phone number and I will.”

Shit, that backfired.  “I don’t have it.”

“Oh, mmm, is that so?  Too bad.” 

Mrs. Fukayama asks him to get her some red bean buns from the store when she learns that his mother asked him to get milk, and he almost refuses until she presses a thousand yen note into his hands and tells him to get something for himself too.  Free money is free money, and he shrugs and shoves it into his pocket before starting his run.  He’ll probably want a drink afterwards anyway.

Mindless running has never been his thing.  Bakugou hates repetitive exercise without a purpose; even with music it’s boring.  Kirishima is a freak who enjoys pumping iron and making conversation with the complete strangers on the machines next to him, but if Bakugou had his way he’d live on top of a mountain where nobody would fucking bother him and just hike to and from the city every morning and afternoon.  He’d keep in shape and wouldn’t have to look another human in the face unless he absolutely had to, it’s the ideal living situation.

Unfortunately the nearest mountains are a two hour train ride away, and generally if he’s going to go to the trouble he’d rather make it an overnight excursion.  After the thing with the villains he wasn’t even let outside for months afterward, let alone traveling somewhere by himself and staying there overnight.  It had been…hard.  Very, very hard.  He’d had to give up mountain climbing for that period of time, which was one of the few things that kept him sane and (comparatively) non-violent.

Granted, they’d been moved into the dorms shortly after that so there wasn’t much opportunity to get around anyway, but even if he left the school grounds he had to be escorted by a teacher.  And since the school couldn’t spare teachers to satisfy its students’ cabin fever, that meant for nearly all of the remainder of Bakugou’s first year, he was more or less under house arrest.

It wasn’t as if he was the only one.  Tokoyami, by virtue of also being targeted, and the entire crew who’d come after him were also forbidden from leaving the grounds.  So that meant Bakugou’s options for entertaining himself was to talk to one of those people.

Kirishima was the least irritating choice.

 


 

“I’m gonna kill somebody,” Bakugou announces, “to fucking justify this imprisonment.”

Kirishima pauses in bouncing his tennis ball against the wall before picking it right back up.  The sound of it is irritating, but as Kirishima pointed out earlier, if he doesn’t have something to do then he might pick up an even more annoying habit.  Like singing.

“I’ll find somebody who deserves it so they can’t say shit about it.”

“I’m pretty sure they’ll still have a problem with that,” Kirishima laughs.  He misses his next catch and pushes himself up to go in search of the ball under Bakugou’s desk.

“This is so fucking stupid.  I’m fucking bored!”

“Well.”  Kirishima taps the dusty tennis ball against his chin.  “We could go work out.”

“We just got back from working out.”

“We could go do it again.”

“Fucking gym rat.  How about you study?  Your grades are still shit.”  Bakugou holds out his hand and without him having to ask, Kirishima tosses him the tennis ball.  He bounces it against the ceiling, testing his reflexes. “When did the law governing sidekick liability in professional agencies go into effect?”

“Uhhh…”

Bakugou throws the tennis ball a little harder and almost beans himself in the face.  “That’s on the test coming up.”

“Oh shit, really?”

“Dumbass.”

The thump of the ball against the ceiling isn’t as irritating when he’s the one doing it.  Bakugou supposes he can see the appeal now.

“We could make out.”

Bakugou freezes.  The ball smacks into his chest and rolls onto the floor.

“Kidding!  I was kidding.”  When Bakugou looks over Kirishima is on his stomach, fumbling beneath his desk for the ball again.  He can’t be sure but he thinks he can see the tips of Kirishima’s ears go pink.  Maybe.

It’s not…a horrible prospect.  Even though just thinking about it makes Bakugou’s heart pound and his palms sweat even more than usual.  But why the fuck would Kirishima- It can’t be.  Well, it’s not-  Kirishima’s always hunting him down and trying to get him to socialize, but that’s just- that’s Kirishima.  He does that shit with everybody.  He’s always hanging out with that electric moron and black eyes and soy sauce, and he’s always jumping around talking to people from other groups.  He’s just a social person, someone who likes being around their classmates for some stupid fucking reason.

He doesn’t joke about making out with any of them though.  That Bakugou knows of.

“Oi,” he says gruffly, and clears his throat.  “Are you fucking- was that supposed to be some kind of confession?”  He doesn’t mean it seriously, but Kirishima’s shoulders jump and Bakugou has to actually consider the possibility that it was, dear god, it might’ve been.

Tokoyami lets himself into Bakugou’s room like he’s allowed to go wherever he wants to tell them that everyone is heading to the pools to swim and they’re welcome to join in.  Kirishima practically throws himself after Tokoyami so Bakugou doesn’t get a chance to interrogate him any further on what exactly that was supposed to be, but it doesn’t really matter.

He needs a little time to think.

 


 

It’s not until Bakugou is faced with an overabundance of time that he realizes, with no small amount of horror, that he has nothing to do.  All of his hobbies have become irrevocably intertwined with the presence of his classmates.

He can’t play any of his video games, because he’s beaten them already and the only way he gets any fun out of them is if he plays with Hagakure or Kaminari for the competition.  He can't cook for fun because his mom gets pissed when he wastes food, and without Satou and Yaoyorozu here with their unending appetites there are sure to be more leftovers than his mother is willing to tolerate.  He can't even train because he's gotten so damnably good at what he does that without a partner to test himself against, he feels like he's hardly doing anything.  He could work out, he guesses.  Listen to the same music over and over and just pump iron.  For hours until dinner.

Bakugou expresses his upset by laying facedown on the couch with the TV going, groaning in annoyance whenever he checks his phone only to find that five minutes or less have passed.

“Oh my god.  You're pathetic Katsuki, call your friends already.”

No,” Bakugou growls.  He checks his email for the fourth time in the past half hour. 

“At least call Eijirou.”

“Gross, don’t call him that.”

“I’m not calling him Kirishima you dumbass, so deal with it.”

“I said I didn't want to see his stupid face until the training camp.”  If he goes back on that now he's gonna look like a clingy little loser.

“Look kid.”  A weight drops on top of his legs and his mom thumps him on the back.  “I'm telling you this because you're my fucking clone in practically everything: the sooner you get over yourself and admit that you're a sadsack for that boy you like, the easier it'll be on you in the long run.”

“Is that how Dad roped you into marriage?”  Not that Bakugou wants to know or even particularly cares, but at least the conversation is distracting him from how his email is void of anything to hold his attention.  Still.

“Your dad didn't rope me into anything.  I'm the one who proposed to him.

Bakugou makes a disinterested noise and re-buries his face in the couch cushion.

“Guess what?  You get to hear a story, since you're so bored.”

“Mom no,” Bakugou moans, trying to push himself up against the weight on his legs.

“Shut it and lay back down!”  Once Bakugou reluctantly settles again she taps her fingers against his back.  “Your dad wasn't my first boyfriend.  I had one in high school, and I treated him like shit.  Always expected him to do the calling, to plan the dates and do everything.  He would give me flowers and candy and presents, and I'd give him stuff sometimes but I never really thought about it.  Not like he did.”

Bakugou chews the inside of his cheek and remembers the coffeeshop giftcard and Kirishima's slightly dimmer smile when he opened it.  It had been a crap gift, he knows, and he knew it at the time but he hadn’t been able to come up with any ideas and he couldn’t show up empty-handed.  Shit, Kirishima liked that coffee place, didn’t he?  What was he expecting?

“Well, to the shock of nobody, he dumped me and found himself a girlfriend who actually did stuff for him.  I was so pissed off at the time, but I found your dad in college so I guess it worked out for me.”

Maybe if he is really precise with an explosion he can just pop her off of him and he can make a run for it.  “Is there a point you're trying to make?”

“You know what it is, jackass.”  His mother smacks the back of his head.  “Swallow your pride already and call him.  I don't care how well he knows you; if he doesn't feel appreciated, eventually he'll move on.”

Before Bakugou can sink too deep into the fear of Kirishima actually breaking up with him, his phone lights up and buzzes with an incoming call.  His mother must see the nickname when she glances at the screen because she snorts.  “Classy, Katsuki.  Is that him?”

Will he look desperate if he answers it?  Does he even care?  Arrgh, what the fuck ever, he's bored out of his skull and his only alternative is listening to his mom moan on about the 'good old days' or whatever the fuck she feels like torturing him with.  “What,” he answers flatly, glaring at his mother over his shoulder.

“At least put a proper pet name in there,” she snorts, smacking him on the head again before climbing up and finally giving him a moment of fucking peace.  Jesus, if he'd known how irritating she was gonna be during this break he'd have begged Kirishima to let him stay over.

“I give up,” Kirishima sighs. 

Bakugou sits up and contemplates various ways to get his heart to calm the fuck down.  He sees Kirishima every day.  He lives with him during the school year.  He saw him just yesterday for Christ's sake, there's no reason for this.  “Give up what?”

“I was trying to hold out to see if you would call me first, but I can't wait anymore.”

Why is his life so difficult.  Bakugou scrubs a hand over his face in an effort to peel the blush right off.  Fuck.  What does he say to that?  “It's- whatever.”  God that's so lame.  Fuck, is this a test?  Is Kirishima checking to see how much Bakugou missed him?  He's not really the type to do shit like that though, he probably really did just cave and called because he wanted to.  But it's not like Kirishima says every thought that enters his head, so maybe-

“Dude, I can hear your brain burning.  You're overthinking something.”

“Shut up, I am not.”

“Yeah you are.”

Bakugou vaults up and stalks into his room, locking the door behind himself.  This is not for smug parental ears.  “I was- Fuck, I was gonna call you too.  Or.  Y'know.”

There's no reason why Kirishima's voice should sound so delighted.  “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Were you checking your phone all day?  'Cause I was.”

God, he's really going to die.  All the shit that's happened to him in his life, all the shit that could happen and this is what's gonna kill him.  Kirishima's fucking happy voice and terrifying sincerity.  “Yeah.”

“Heh heh.  That's 'cause you liiiiike me.”

Bakugou sits on the ground, back against his bedframe.  “Don't be a fuckstick about it.”

“Well, I like you too.”

“Moron.”

“A moron that you liiiike-

Bakugou warns, “I'll hang up on you,” even though he knows Kirishima won't take it seriously.

“Hey, are you doing anything?  I'm going to the movies with Kaminari and Sero tonight.  Wanna come with?”

A stab of irrational jealousy makes Bakugou kick his feet out angrily.  “I don't wanna see those pricks.”

“Those pricks wanna see you though.”

Not for the first time Bakugou wonders why the hell people say things like that.  Why would anyone go to so much trouble to try and be friendly with someone else who clearly isn’t interested in it?  It's not like he's particularly nice to either of them.  Sure, they'd folded themselves into the study group Bakugou somehow heads now and sure, he supposes they're not totally useless in a fight, but it's not like he knows their birthdays or gives a fuck about their home lives or anything.  And in return, they don't give a fuck about that shit either.  It's a nice setup.  Anything more is an annoying distraction.

...which, unfortunately is just what he needs right now.  “Fine,” he huffs, and ignores Kirishima's whispered yesss on the other end of the line.  “What are we seeing?”

 


 

Ashido had convinced Yaoyorozu to make a speaker dock for her phone but she has the weirdest fucking taste in music.  Everything from anime OPs to Babymetal to enka blares from the speakers with no discernible order.  Bakugou calls her tastes deranged and she tackles him into the water for it.

War breaks out shortly thereafter, and more and more of their classmates trickle in to throw themselves into the fray.  At some point there’s a five-way game of chicken going on, and despite their awkward conversation moments ago Kirishima finds Bakugou within seconds and Bakugou clambers up onto his shoulders so they can kick the shit out of Kaminari and Sero.

They all know that when the new school year starts, the Heroics students will be shuffled around.  It’s unlikely they’ll all be in the same class again, and after everything they’d gone through they’re reluctant to be out of each other’s sight.  Bakugou, personally, doesn’t give a fuck.

…all right fine, he’d at least be less bored if Kirishima was in his class.

The point is that class A, their class A, won’t be class A anymore.  Even though they’ll literally be in the next room, it’s not the same when the lessons are separate, when their homeroom teachers will be completely different.  Graduation isn’t for a few more months but they can all still feel it approaching, like they’re tied to the tracks of a slow-moving train.

Petitioning Aizawa for things to stay the same hadn’t worked.  Ashido had gathered half the class to wheedle him and all they’d done is shove him to peak levels of irritation, which hadn’t worked out well for anybody.  “Things never stay the same,” he’d finally told them, fed up with the whining.  “The sooner you all learn that, the better.  Now suck it up, you’ll still all be in the dorms together.”

Bakugou pulls himself from the water and heads for the hot tub nearby, flipping on the breaker for it to start the jets.  UA definitely doesn’t skimp on the amenities; its intended use is for quick dips to warm up the muscles for exercise, but he intends to soak.  It’s fucking freezing and if he’s going to go back outside to get back to the dorms, he wants to be so overheated that he turns the asphalt to fucking lava.

“Oooh, Bakugou, good idea!”  A floating bikini bounces over to him and invites herself into his hot tub.  “This feels so good.”

“Get the fuck out of there,” he orders, slipping into the water and shoving at her shoulder.  “I fucking warmed this up for me.  Your ass isn’t on the guest list.”

“Is Kirishima’s ass on the guest list?” she asks with a giggle.

Bakugou’s prepared to haul Hagakure up and throw her back into the pool, but Kirishima swims over to the edge of the deep end and props his arms up on the side, flashing a grin in Bakugou’s direction.  “Yeah, is Kirishima’s ass on the guest list?”

Bakugou squints at him before he makes probably the stupidest decision he’s ever made.  “Yeah, it is.”

Hagakure gasps behind him.  He ignores her in favor of watching the smile slowly slip off Kirishima’s face as he turns a little red.

“So are you getting in or what?”  Bakugou snaps around to glare at Hagakure.  “Get out.

“I can’t watch this?!  Bakugou, you suck.”  But Hagakure pulls herself out of the water and rushes over to where Ashido, Asui and Uraraka are all gathered at the shallow end of the pool.  Probably fucking gossiping judging by the way they all look over at him.

He ignores that too and stares at Kirishima, waiting.

Kirishima taps his fingers against the concrete, teeth very gently pulling at his bottom lip before he pushes himself up out of the pool.  Bakugou follows him as he squeezes the water from his hair and slips into the hot tub.  “Ahh, shit, that’s hot.”

Bakugou snorts.  “It’s in the name, dumbass.”

“Yeah, but it’s extra hot because the pool’s not heated!”

“So turn on the fucking heaters.  I don’t know why you dumb assholes are swimming when it’s fucking winter.”

“I think it’s supposed to go below freezing tonight.”

“Seriously?  Shit.”

“You were in the pool too.”

“Yeah, because fucking Ashido jumped me.”

Kirishima laughs, and Bakugou can’t entirely blame the warm feeling in his gut on the water.  He props his feet up on the bench opposite and pretends like he doesn’t notice Kirishima glancing down at Bakugou’s feet beside him before he does the same.  “You know, if you keep calling people by their actual names, they might confuse it for genuine affection.”

“Don’t even fucking joke about that.”

Kirishima smiles, an upward tilt of the corner of his mouth.

Bakugou unsticks his tongue from the roof of his mouth.  “What was that shit you pulled earlier?”

The smile disappears.  “It was.  Y’know.”  Kirishima rubs the back of his reddening neck.  “It was just a suggestion.  I thought, since, you know, we’re always hanging out and stuff…”

“You’re gay?”

Kirishima’s eyes flick up to Bakugou, then back down to the water.  “I like guys too, if that’s what you mean.”

Curiosity wins over embarrassment and though Bakugou’s heart is pounding, he still asks, “You like me?

Kirishima hesitates, then nods.

This high school romance bullshit is a distraction, he knows.  He’s never been terribly interested in it; first of all, to be interested in it he’d have to actually like the people around him.  That isn’t often the case.  But Kirishima, well, he’s all right.  He’s all right because he doesn’t flinch away when Bakugou shouts, he’s all right because he can tell the difference between Bakugou venting and Bakugou being genuinely pissed, two very different states that apparently look identical to most people.

He’s all right because of other things too.

“I don’t know what I like,” Bakugou says aloud, for the first time.  It’s not a revelation, or something that really bothers him too much.  Knowing whether you like dick or vag or both or neither was never high on his list of priorities.  He has a life goal, and it’s both insanely close and incredibly far off.  He has too much work to do to waste time hemming and hawing over what he prefers to put his mouth on. 

But, he supposes, he can at least admit it to himself that he wouldn’t mind putting his mouth on Kirishima.  “…but if that’s okay with you, then.  I dunno.  If we’re gonna be bored anyway...”

Kirishima looks up at him, all wide eyes and parted lips, and Bakugou wants to sink into the water and melt away.  “Does that- wait, you mean you wanna go out?  With me?

“Am I speaking fucking Russian?  Obviously,” Bakugou growls.  At least here in the hot tub maybe Kirishima can’t tell if his face is red from the blushing or because he’s getting overheated.

“You wanna go out with me.”  Kirishima laughs, a bright, incredulous thing and he slides down from the bench opposite Bakugou, wading closer and sitting down beside him instead.  He leans in and Bakugou hates himself for how his eyes automatically travel down over his shoulders and chest before snapping back up to his face.  “This is- I don’t even-”

Bakugou leans back a little.  Distance.  He needs distance.  Just past Kirishima he can see Uraraka grabbing onto Asui’s arm and shaking her as she stares; once she sees Bakugou she turns away but they’re all sneaking looks over here.  Fuck.  He timed this poorly.

Kirishima tilts his head back into Bakugou’s line of vision and damn him and that stupid hairband he borrowed from Ashido.  Fuck.  “Can I kiss you right now?”

“What the f- no!”  Bakugou punches his shoulder and scoots away, like he’s worried Kirishima will just try to grab and ravish him there, in front of the entire class and then some.  Or he’s more afraid that he’ll go along with it.  Yeah he would probably just let Kirishima do whatever he wants, right here in a public hot tub.  Fuck.  “Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself, shitty hair?  Calm your ass down.”

“I can’t help it!  C’mon, just on the cheek!  Please?”

“Get fucked,” Bakugou declares.  He vaults out of the hot tub and, before his courage can leave him, leaps directly into the deep end of the pool.  Kirishima’s face is all he can see behind his closed eyes, open and hopeful, lip catching between his pretty, amazing, stupid sharp teeth.

 


 

Kaminari and Sero grin and rib him and annoy him to shouting, which almost gets them kicked out of the ice cream parlor they meet up at.  Kirishima holds Bakugou’s hand in public because he doesn’t give a single fuck, not a single one about how much it embarrasses him, or that his hands pop when he gets too nervous, or that they’re in front of the two biggest douchebags who aren’t afraid of making fun of Bakugou.  Aside from Asui, she’s the biggest douchebag.

Like it was fated, they run into Ashido and Hagakure out shopping in the same complex.  Somehow they manage to find Tokoyami and Shouji too, and then Asui and Uraraka drift in from where they’d been looking for new coats for the training camp.  Class A converging again; it’s almost like a natural law, at this point.

Somehow, Bakugou ends up at a sports shop with Kirishima still holding his hand and the rest of their classmates wandering around, promising to text so they can all meet up and go to the movie.  How the fuck did their group grow from four to ten?  Bakugou didn’t ask for this. 

He pretends to examine some climbing rope and carabiners, but really just keeps sneaking looks over at Kirishima as he scrolls through his phone, humming along to some dumb pop song playing from the speakers overhead.  He waits until Kirishima notices him staring before he leans in and kisses him on the cheek.

The look on Kirishima’s face is kind of priceless.

“What was that for?” he asks, squeezing Bakugou’s hand.

“Don’t worry about it,” Bakugou grunts, and plucks a carabiner from its hook.  “C’mon, let’s go.”

Bakugou doesn’t get home until after dinner that night, and when he looks at his phone he sees like fourteen fucking notifications because he got tagged in everybody’s stupid photos they just uploaded.  The repeat offenders (like Sero and Kaminari) always caption them with things like ‘wild @BOOMgod, never before seen in broad daylight!’ and ‘if you look to your left you may notice @BOOMgod behaving like a human,’ and other such bullshit.

And then there’s the ones taken by Uraraka and Ashido, group photos that say ‘Class A impromptu meetup!! look @indomitabledeku we lured @BOOMgod out of his witch hut’ or ‘Pokemon team assembled, even got a shiny @BOOMgod, lvl 60’ and he doesn’t even know what to make of those, why his classmates have to embarrass him like this for everyone to see.

And of course Kirishima has to post a pic of their fucking hands intertwined like they’re fucking newlyweds or some shit.  ‘Out with @BOOMgod, LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED!!! Im dead’  Bakugou vows to spend the next five days completely ignoring Kirishima for this.  Especially for all the fuckstick comments from his fuckstick classmates going ‘HOW ARE YOU STILL ALIVE KIRI’ and ‘oh my gosh those hands really are good for something besides murder and mayhem’ and whatever other dumb fucking garbage comes to their minds.  He did not give these idiots permission to not be scared of him.

Bakugou responds to each of the photos with a heartfelt FUCK YOU PEOPLE and goes to bed.

Chapter Text

Bakugou’s cheek scrapes across gravel and he wheezes.  The weight on his back presses down on his lungs, squeezes the air out of him in cubic centimeters.  He scrabbles against the ground until his fingernails bend and bleed.  Someone makes a fist in his hair and yanks his head up.

That fucking handface bastard Shigaraki draws three fingertips down from Kirishima’s temple to his jaw.  “We want you to be our equal, Bakugou,” says Shigaraki, adding his thumb to Kirishima’s cheek.

“Stop,” Bakugou gasps.  His voice is too weak.  He can’t get the air to shout.  “Stop,” he tries anyway, pushing himself up against the knee on his spine.  Something invisible keeps his wrists pinned down, palms against the floor.  If lying means if it’ll get Kirishima out of his hands then he’ll do it but he can’t fucking breathe so he can’t fucking speak-

The roof above them rattles and rains down dust.  Bakugou just knows All Might is losing, is getting pounded into the dirt by that masked asshole.  All Might came to rescue him.  All Might gave him this chance to escape and all he did was get them all caught.  This is his fault.  This is his-

Kirishima’s eyes open.  Bakugou can see it between Shigaraki’s fingers, can see his long lashes and the scar on his eyelid and can see the way Kirishima’s hope dies out, one winking light at a time, as he realizes he’s not going to be saved.

I’m a hero, Bakugou thinks desperately.  Heroes win.  Heroes save people.  He thrashes until he’s sure his back will break.

Shigaraki taps his pointer finger down and Kirishima’s face cracks.

“Stop it-!

Bakugou wrenches onto his side with a gasp, clutching at his blankets.  It takes too long for his eyes to adjust to the dark, to pick out the familiar shapes of his bedroom.  He slaps frantically at his cheek- no gravel.  No abrasions.  He checks his nails; not bleeding.  Blunt and unbroken.

The shadows near his door take on the shapes of people and Bakugou lunges for his lamp, clicks it on and shines it into the corner of the room.  Nothing.

Nothing.

Soft footsteps shuffle away from his door. Fuck.

Bakugou throws off his covers and hunches at the edge of his bed, gripping the mattress with sweating palms.  His fingers flex as he fights the urge to grab his phone and text Kirishima.  It’s one in the goddamn morning, his alarm clock declares.  If he texts him now, he’s gonna know it was a nightmare and Bakugou is so sick of people he actually likes giving him that coddling worried look.

So, instead, he shuffles into the kitchen and starts to cook.

 


 

“Fine, fine, I’ll teach you.  You need to start learning how to fend for yourself anyway.”

Bakugou busies himself with pulling all the knives out of the drawers.  This is a rare occasion.  He’s usually not allowed to touch them but since he’s learning to cook, of course he’s going to have to know how to use them.  All of them.  Creatively.

“Katsuki!  You little psycho, get the fuck out of there.  Sit here.”  His mother plucks him up and stands him on the chair she’d pulled over, like he’s a child.

“Mom stop, I’m six.

“I’m sure you think that’s incredibly grown up.”

“It is!”

“In comparison to being five, I guess it is.”  His mother’s hands are still bigger than his, and stronger too despite all his practicing with his quirk.  She moves the stool closer with him on it and hands him one of the knives like she’s passing over a stick of dynamite.  “I want you to be so careful.  Don’t cut yourself.  Your hands are your quirk, right?  So you take good care of them if you’re going to use them to be a hero.”

“Ugggh, I know.

“Your dad’s going to be home soon, and we’re going to surprise him with food we both made.  He’s gonna be so proud of you.”

“You’re embarrassing me,” Bakugou mutters, face hot.  “I’m not making this for Dad.”

“Sure.  That’s why you picked his favorite curry, huh?”

“I just- I like curry too!”

“...Baby, you are cute as hell.

 


 

“Hey, son.  What are you making?”

Bakugou rinses the last peeled potato.  “Chicken curry.”

“Spicy?”

“Yeah.”

His father yawns and sits down at the table behind him.  Bakugou chops up the potatoes and dumps them back into the bowl, then checks on the chicken and onions.

“…Katsuki-”

“I’m fine,” Bakugou snaps immediately.  “Drop it.”

He does.  Or he falls back asleep.  Bakugou doesn’t turn around to check until he grabs the curry blocks to grate into the pot, but from the glimpse he catches he can see his father’s eyes are closed, chin in his hand.

“Maybe…maybe you shouldn’t go.”

Or he could be awake, ready to fucking relaunch the conversation he didn’t want to have in the first place.  “I’m going.”

“You haven’t had one that bad in months-”

Bakugou slaps the grater back onto the counter.  “It doesn’t matter.  I’m going.”  He stirs the pot viciously, breathing hard through his nose as he makes a cursory attempt at controlling his temper.  Blowing up at his dad in the kitchen in the dead of night probably wouldn’t be a convincing argument that he’s perfectly stable and fine.

He hears his father get up from the table and come up behind him, and he won’t say he’s relieved when all he does is reach past him for a couple bowls up in the cabinet.  Bakugou doesn’t move, shoulders hunched as he glares down at the counter and listens to the curry bubble as the stock thickens.  “Okay,” is all his dad says, and sets the bowls on the counter next to the rice steamer.  Bakugou waits for him to say more, say something about how he should know his limits, about how he’s worrying his mother and he should be more aware of how his actions affect the people around him, but he doesn’t.  He just turns around and sits back down at the table.

Bakugou blinks down at the counter and takes a breath.  Blinks again when his eyes burn, then sniffs hard and rubs his nose with the inside of his wrist before stirring the pot on the stove.  When he brings over the rice and curry, his father accepts his bowl and digs in without a word.  He eats all of it, sniffing as his sinuses drain because Bakugou makes it hot, the way they both like it.  Bakugou watches him eat it all, hardly touching his own.

His dad looks up to see him staring and Bakugou looks back down at his own bowl, digging in.  “What is it, Katsuki?”

“Nothing,” Bakugou mutters.

To his surprise, his dad just laughs.  “You look so much like your mom.”

Bakugou rolls his eyes.

“It’s kind of nice.”

“Don’t be weird.”

His dad stands up and rinses his bowl out in the sink.  “Go back to bed soon, okay?  You need your sleep.”  He stops by the table and rests a hand on Bakugou’s hair, smoothing his bangs back from his forehead before slipping away.

Bakugou grips his spoon so tight he’s sure it’ll bend, but he finishes.  And he puts the curry away.  And he goes back to bed, and lays on his mattress, and stares up at the ceiling until morning.

 


 

“You know, this is a good group we have here.”

Bakugou fixes his eyes on Ashido and considers putting his earbuds in.  It’s too early in the goddamn morning for this friendship nonsense, not that he ever got back to sleep. Which is great, he definitely wanted to deal with his stupid classmates on a six hour bus ride at fuck-o-clock in the morning on no sleep.

Sero cracks open his can of coffee with a yawn.  “What group?”

“Us!”  Ashido gestures to him, to herself, to Bakugou as he leans against Kirishima and to Kaminari stumbling his way over with his eyes half-closed.  “We’re a clique!  And we’re a cool one!  We’re all pretty hot, we’ve got the smart one that can tutor the rest of us-”

“When the fuck did I say I would tutor the rest of you?” Bakugou asks, pulling out his phone and searching through his apps.  He’s definitely putting on his music.

“You already have!”

“Well not anymore.”

“Ugh!  Bakugou, you jerk.”

“Eh, it was always borrowed time.  You know ‘tutor’ is code for ‘makeout session’ anyway,” Sero drawls, leaning an elbow on her head.

“No thank you,” Kaminari pipes up, slumping onto a nearby bench.  “I mean, unless you’re asking, Ashido.  Then I guess I could go for it.”

“No thank me,” Ashido declares.  “Look.  I’m just saying, it’s nice.  I like our group.  I feel like there could be more girls-”

Amen.

Ashido aims a kick at Kaminari’s sneaker.  “But, all in all, it’s good.  You boys are all right.”

“You’re being pretty mushy this morning,” Kirishima observes, hand rubbing distractingly comfortable circles at the small of Bakugou’s back.  Bakugou is trying not to be obvious in how he’s leaning into it, but he’s pretty sure he’s failing since Kirishima keeps shifting to adjust for his weight.  “Not that I don’t feel the same way, but how come?  Is everything okay?”

Ashido presses her knuckles to her mouth and blinks at Kirishima like she’s about to cry.  “And you.  You’re the best part.  Gah, god, I love you Kirishima.”  She reaches over and buries her face against his shoulder, clinging to his arm.

“Get off,” Bakugou huffs, shoving her when she leans too close into his own space.

“She’s just clingy when she’s sleepy,” Sero offers, curling his fingers around his coffee can and holding out an arm.  “Ashido, come here.  Stop bothering Bakugou, nobody wants to hear him yell this early in the morning.”

As Ashido tucks herself into the crook of Sero’s arm Bakugou sneers and wedges himself more firmly against Kirishima.  “Besides, I’m not part of your shitty clique.”

“You’re always hanging out around us, man,” Kaminari points out.

“I’m hanging out with Kirishima.  Who is a dumbass and hangs out with you losers.

Kirishima beams and says, “I like these losers, though,” which just starts another Ashido love fest and Bakugou barely manages to keep the volume down so that Aizawa doesn’t dropkick him in the face as he shuttles his own class onto the other bus.

When they get on their own bus Sero abandons them for Shouji and Tokoyami, Kaminari wanders over to Mineta and Ashido attaches herself firmly to Asui’s side.  “Kirishima,” Ashido calls as he passes by, “I would marry you if you weren’t taken, and we would have adorable strawberry children together.”

“That’s honestly the kindest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” Kirishima tells her.

“Want some snacks?”

“Yup.  Thanks.”

Kirishima comes wandering over to where Bakugou’s seated himself at the back of the bus bearing a couple sticks of Pocky.  He passes one over to Bakugou.  “I think her folks are fighting again.”

Bakugou grunts.

“Guess summer vacation’s not being nice to everybody.”  Kirishima crunches down on his stick, staring up at where her horns are just barely clearing the back of her seat.  “I should invite her over to stay a couple days when we get back.  Mom would really like her.”

Bakugou looks up from his phone and squints at Kirishima.

Kirishima blinks at Bakugou.  “…what?”

“You’re so fucking lucky to have me.”

Kirishima pops the last of his snack into his mouth.  “Why’s that?”

“You want to invite a girl over to your place during summer vacation.  To meet your family.”

“Yeah, so?”  Bakugou waits until Kirishima sits up straight and flushes dark red.  “Dude- no. You know that’s not what I-”

“I don’t care.”

“Bakugou, I wasn’t-”

“Dumbass, I literally do not care.”  Bakugou taps away at his phone.  “It doesn’t matter.  You’re mine.  Even if she was hitting on you for real she’d have to fuckin’ fight me for you, and she knows her ass would lose.  I’m not handing you over.”

Kirishima coughs and ducks his head.  “Bakugou,” he hisses, voice strangled, “we are on the bus.  You can’t say manly shit like to that to me on- on public transportation, surrounded by our peers-

“Maybe don’t hit on girls like a clueless moron then.”

“Dammit.”  Kirishima sinks low into his seat, covering his face.  “I’m so turned on.”

“Sounds like a personal problem.”  Bakugou puts his earphones back in and closes his eyes.

 


 

The problem with Kirishima is that he just does shit without thinking.  He does it so sincerely that it’s hard to get angry at him for it too, but still Bakugou manages.

“Dickweed!  I’ve told you a thousand times, if someone’s gonna confess to you then you better turn their ass down pronto!

“I know,” Kirishima says miserably into his arms folded atop his desk.  “But I can’t be mean about it man, that’s not cool.”

“What the fuck is cool about being a wishy-washy little fuckface about it?!”

Kirishima groans and kicks his feet.

“Whoa hey, trouble in paradise?  What’s up, Blasty?”

“Go fuck a cactus, moron.”  Bakugou kicks the leg of Kirishima’s desk.  “This unrepentant dumbass has a date.  With a fucking girl.

“Oh.”  Kaminari slides into the chair next to Kirishima’s desk.  “Uh, but aren’t you two…”

“You see my fucking problem with it!”

“It’s not a date,” Kirishima protests, emerging to defend his honor.  Or his relationship.  Or maybe just his piss-poor life choices, Bakugou doesn’t give a fuck which.  “She didn’t confess!  She asked me to meet her at that café downtown by the bookstore because she has something she wants to tell me.”

“Bro,” Kaminari groans, slapping his face.  “That’s so a date.”

“We don’t know for sure if it’s a confession!  What if I was all like, ‘oh I have a boyfriend so sorry I can’t,’ and she was like, ‘okay, well I was just going to ask you a question not about dating.’  I would’ve made her feel so awkward!”

“Kirishima,” Bakugou growls out through his teeth, “tell me who it was.”

Kirishima and Kaminari both jolt up in alarm.  “Dude no,” Kirishima says, “you’ll terrify her.”

“I’ll go fix your fucking mistake is what I’ll fucking do!”

Kirishima jumps up, holding out his hands.  “No, no no!  Fine.  I’ll go handle it.  I’ll- I’ll ask her if it’s date and if it is then I’ll tell her I can’t go.”

“Fucking tell her why.

“I will, geez!”

Kaminari stares at Bakugou long after Kirishima’s departure, chin in his hands.  “…he probably doesn’t do it on purpose.”

“Who fucking asked you,” Bakugou mutters, turning on his heel and stomping back over to his desk.  He throws himself into his chair and seethes until Kirishima gets back, looking even more sheepish than before, and then he seethes for the rest of the final period too.  Barely takes any fucking notes so he’ll have to go over the chapter himself and waste his fucking precious time doing extra studying because Kirishima is such a goddamn bleeding heart who everybody likes and he’s so pointlessly nice that he thinks everybody deserves a chance.

Okay, maybe Bakugou’s a little more bothered by this than he’d thought.

“Dude, I’m sorry,” Kirishima pleads as Bakugou shoves his shit into his bag.  Don’t look at him, Bakugou tells himself fiercely.  He’ll ensnare you with those stupid fucking sad eyes and then you’ll cave like the weakling you actually are.  He cannot believe how pathetic he’s gotten since he started dating this kindness disaster.  If he wasn’t so fucking good with his mouth Bakugou would’ve dumped him a week after they got together.

…fine, maybe a month.

There’s a tap on his shoulder and Bakugou spins to see Yaoyozoru holding out a few pages.  “You need the notes, right?  I didn’t see you taking any.”

Bakugou glares at her.  “I can handle it myself,” he snaps, throwing his bag over his shoulder and shoving past Kirishima for the door.  He hears her sigh and also hears Kirishima throwing everything into his own bag to chase after him.

“Bakugou man, seriously, what do I have to do?  This is getting stupid.”

“You know what?  I agree.  Let’s break up and then you can go on as many not-dates with as many fucking chicks as you want, how about that?”

Kirishima groans.  “You don’t mean that.”

No he doesn’t, but, “Yeah I fucking do!  I’ll finally get some fucking peace and you can do whatever the hell you want.  Bye Kirishima, it was all right, the making out will be missed.”  He kicks off his school shoes, yanks on his sneakers and slams his locker shut before storming out the front doors.

Bakugou doesn’t know if Kirishima is trailing after him at all, but it doesn’t really matter.  He stalks into class 1-A’s dorm, throws his bag at his desk and strips off his jacket, grabbing onto his chinup bar in his closet doorway and pulling himself up.  Every time his chin touches the bar he pictures himself kicking Kirishima’s ass.  It’s not as satisfying as it should’ve been, so when Kaminari lets himself into Bakugou’s room his mood is even more sour than before.

“…dude.  You are so bothered by this.”  Fucker has this curious tone, like he didn’t expect Bakugou to be upset.  Who the fuck wouldn’t be upset?

“I don’t recall fucking inviting you into my room,” Bakugou grunts instead.  Thirty-six.  Thirty-seven.

“You know he’s sulking downstairs, right?  He’s just-” Kaminari sighs.  “Go make up with him already, this is dumb.”

“No.”

“Seriously, you look so dumb right now.”

“Go fuck yourself.  We’re broken up so it doesn’t matter.”

“Bullshit you’re broken up.”

“Go fucking ask him!”  Bakugou drops off the bar since it’s not actually doing anything for his temper and strips off his uniform shirt, hurling it toward his hamper.  “I’m finally fucking free of distractions and he can go grab as many tits as his heart desires, I don’t give a fuck!”

“Dude.”  Kaminari glares at him from his bed.  “Is this a bi thing?  Are you pissed that he’s bi?”

Bakugou bares his teeth.  “I’m pissed that every time a girl saunters up to him, he fucking falls over himself to accommodate her.  I’m allowed to be pissed by that.”

Kaminari hesitates.  “It- okay, fine, I get that.  But don’t say it like that man, he’ll think you’re calling him a cheater.”

“What the fuck else do you call it?”

Not cheating.  Just.  I dunno, but it’s not that.  You’re being a big baby about this man, you think maybe you can admit it?”

Bakugou stares at Kaminari from over by his hamper.  “…get the fuck out.”

Kaminari seems to sense he’s crossed a line because he jumps up and heads for the door.  “Fine, fine.  Be an asshole in here all by yourself, it’s what you’re good at.”  He closes the door just in time to miss Bakugou hurling a book at it.

 


 

At the first rest stop they take, two thirds of the students on the bus stay rooted in their seats.

Cementoss looks over his students.  “You can leave the bus, it’s a rest stop.”

“About that.”  Mineta stands on his seat.  “See, we’re used to getting lied to?  So if we get off this bus and end up going over the side of a mountain today…”

“No, no no.  There won’t be any of that.  That’s more Eraser’s style.”

When still nobody from their old class A moves Bakugou sighs and stands up, climbing over Kirishima’s legs to the aisle.  “You’re all a buncha cowards,” he informs them as he stalks past.

“Babe, where you goin’?” Kirishima calls, like they haven’t fucking had the don’t call me that in front of the class talk about fourteen million times.

“To fuck your mom!”  Bakugou ignores the teasing and catcalls behind him as he stomps off the bus.

Like last time, they’re parked on a cliff overlooking a valley choked with trees between two green mountains.  Bakugou stands close to the railing, hands shoved into his pockets and taking in a view that is admittedly incredible with a sense of unease still lingering from the nightmare he had that morning.

His hand goes up to his cheek like he’s going to find bits of gravel dug into scrapes on his face that aren’t even there.  What is he supposed to do to shake this?  Distracting himself usually works, but there aren’t a whole lot of distractions available on a bus ride several hours long.  It’s just frustrating, to know what’s wrong and know what needs to be fixed, but having no idea how to fix it.

Maybe his dad was right.

Maybe he shouldn’t have come.

“Hey.”

Bakugou glares over his shoulder as Kirishima ambles up to lean against the railing beside him.  “Get lost, asshole.  Aren’t you scared of getting thrown off the cliff?”

“Nah, I trust Ishiyama-sensei.”  Kirishima sniffs and looks over the valley, at the way the early morning fog seeps into the trees.

“Everyone’s gonna be a shithead if they see you out here with me,” Bakugou mumbles, but he can’t deny that just being next to Kirishima makes all the tensed up muscles in his back and neck slowly start to relax.

“Let ‘em.  Who here sees action on a regular basis?”  Kirishima holds up a fist and Bakugou, after a moment, taps it.  “That’s right, we do.”

“You’re such a dumbass.”

“A dumbass who knows what you like.”  Kirishima looks way too cute when he lifts his brows and grins like that.

“A supreme dumbass,” Bakugou confirms, but Kirishima’s snort tells him that he caught the way Bakugou tried to suppress a smile.  They go quiet together and Kirishima breathes in deep, leans forward until the railing creaks.  Feeling self-indulgent, Bakugou lets his eyes wander along the slope of Kirishima’s torso up to his shoulders and arms.

“Sorry I embarrassed you on the bus.”

Bakugou looks away.  “It’s.  Whatever, I don’t care.”

The good thing about Kirishima, that Bakugou thinks a lot of people don’t know, is that he actually does know when to be quiet.  He likes to tease and he likes to make small talk and he loves getting to know people better, but he also can tell when it’s time to just shut up and listen to everything that doesn’t get said.  Bakugou’s not envious of Kirishima’s skill with people, but he’s grateful for it when it comes to them, just the two of them, still figuring out how to talk.

They’d left the school early morning, long before morning was threatening to spill over the horizon so the chill of the night still clings to the edges of the mountains and makes everything feel muffled and damp.  Bakugou soaks it in, the cleanness of it, the stillness and silence of the morning and the spots of warmth from the rising sun and Kirishima’s arm against his own.

Cementoss calls them back over to the bus and when Bakugou puts his earphones in and settles down next to Kirishima, he finds his eyes falling shut and his head drooping.  He lets Kirishima wind his arm around his shoulders as he dozes, just this once.

 


 

Cementoss might not be as deceptive as Aizawa, but that doesn’t make his training any less brutal.  The first thing he instructs his second-year students to do after unpacking the bus is spread out and find something within the mountains to eat for dinner, since they won’t be fed.  “Survival skills like these might not be so important for you heroes who plan to stay in urban areas, but learning to adapt to tough situations is.  Use your quirks however necessary.”  And then he and the other teachers go fuck off inside to probably eat actual food and laugh about how much they love torturing their students.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility.  Midnight is with them after all.

Bakugou finds himself with six hangers on since apparently only seven out of all forty-one of his peers can suss out what’s poisonous and what’s safe to eat.  “All of you are pathetic,” he tells them gleefully, because he’s in a position of power now that he has the fate of their dinner in his hands.

“Seriously, where do you even find the brain space to learn even this?”  Sero complains, extracting himself from a prickle bush.  “It’s sickening for us normal people to be around you.”

“How do you know all this survival stuff?” Ashido asks curiously.

Bakugou turns over a nearby log with the side of his boot, looking for mushrooms.  “I go mountain climbing.”

Sero rolls his eyes.  “Disgusting.”

“Yeah,” Kirishima sighs.  “You should listen to him when he’s actually doing it.  All ‘this is blah blah’ and ‘that is blah blah’ and ‘I know the name of every plant in Japan’ and stuff.  It’s impressive but it’s like, what are you, an old man?”

Super disgusting.”

“Bakugou is cradle-robbing Kirishima!”

“I mean, Bakugou’s the oldest in our year, right?  I think?  His birthday’s right at the start of the school year.”

“Bakugou, you pervy old man, dating young pretty Kirishima for his supple boyish skin.”

Bakugou stops and just.  Re-examines his life choices before he turns to look at them all.  “Do you want to eat?”

The unanimous decision is, “Yes.”

“Then shut up.”

Bakugou hates being trailed by these idiots, but at the same time he likes being the boss.  It feels kind of like when he was a kid leading his little troupe around the woods, though his little troupe was never so fucking mouthy.  He also has to keep slapping things out of Tetsutetsu’s hands, who is apparently an infant because he puts whatever he finds straight into his goddamn mouth. 

“Dude, what the hell!”

Moron.  That’s doku utsugi, that’s poisonous.”

“What?  But they’re little berries!  They look so good!”

“That’s the goddamn idea!  Alright, none of you fuckin’ eat anything without showing it to me first!”

There’s a chorus of ‘yes Dad’s from behind him and Bakugou rolls his eyes.

“Gross, Kirishima, you can’t call him Dad.  Then it’s like you have a daddy kink.”

“Hahaha!  I dunno, maybe I do.  What about that?”

“Ew!  Kirishima ew!

“All of you shut the fuck up!”

Still, it’s not like he’s the only one out here who knows what he’s doing, and it’s not like he’s had people flocking to hang out with him ever since he got into UA.  The way his group keeps looking around and sticking close to him is giving him the sneaking suspicion that his classmates are following him for reasons other than a guaranteed dinner.

“Why the fuck are you here?” he asks Hagakure accusingly.

“Um, because I want to eat tonight?”

He glares, but he can’t tell if he’s getting anywhere with that so he just huffs and turns away.

After four detours to find idiot classmates who wander off and three more near-death experiences by Tetsutetsu picking up and trying to eat fucking everything, they make it back with their jackets full of roots and stems and other edible plant bits, as well as a couple rabbits they’d managed to trap.  The other groups that had splintered off faired similarly and after cleaning the animals and plants, they end up just dumping everything into a few huge pots suspended over fires to stew.  Bakugou and a few other students stay behind to babysit the food while everyone else prepares the tables.

One time when he was in middle school, a teacher had asked him what he’d do if he wasn’t going to be a hero.  It was probably the stupidest question he’d ever been asked (especially at the time, when his brain had been filled with nothing but dreams of making it to the top and didn’t have all this other such nonsense crowding in), but he’d still given it thought.

A chef, he’d said confidently.  Not just any fucking chef; a world class motherfucking chef, king of a culinary empire, with restaurant chains across the globe.  So skilled he’d have put the hero Lunch-Rush to shame, so famously talented that the top heroes would frequent his establishments.  Nothing but the best there, too.

And now, he’s cooking up a bunch of mushrooms and rabbits to feed to his stupid clingy classmates.  At least he’s on his way to becoming a hero.

Bakugou makes a face when he tests the meat.  Gamey.  “Go get me some milk from inside,” he orders Todoroki, who for some reason had decided that he had an invitation to hang around the pots silently like some sort of bi-colored ghost, poking around and making a nuisance of himself.

“You’re going to add milk to the stew?” he asks in that lame-ass quietly curious way that makes Bakugou want to kick a louder response out of him.

“No I’m gonna fucking drink it because I need my calcium.”

“I can’t tell if you’re joking, but calcium deficiency causes irritability so I guess I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Ashido and Sero just barely manage to keep Bakugou from lobbing an explosion at the back of Todoroki’s smug fucking head.

 


 

Separate bath schedules.

Part of it is because of Mineta.  After his stupid escapade trying to scale the wall to leer at the girls last time, the teachers decided that staggering the schedules was the best way to go.  Boys schedule 1, then girls schedule 1, then boys schedule 2.  Bakugou can’t say he’s not pissed off that he and Kirishima get slotted into separate schedules, though he probably should’ve expected it.

“This is bullshit,” he’d complained to Aizawa, who was having none of it.

“Cry me a river.  This is a training camp, not a love hotel.”

Kirishima still finds him after his bath.  And he’s warm and smells good and his hair is all in his eyes, so literally nobody can blame Bakugou for pulling him into a nearby rec room so they make out for a while.  Things are just getting good when suddenly Cementoss wanders in and tells them to keep their gross hormonal teenage hands to themselves, but in a more polite Cementoss-ish way.  Kirishima respects him and Bakugou doesn’t feel like giving the teachers more excuses to separate them, so they reluctantly part.  “We’ll pick it back up after lights out,” Kirishima whispers and Bakugou kisses him again when Cementoss’ back is turned.

Kaminari tries to kick Kirishima’s futon away from Bakugou’s when they start laying out their bedding, so Bakugou very reasonably almost knocks a hole through a sliding door putting him into a headlock.

“No,” Kaminari howls, thrashing until Bakugou gets a leg around him to pin him properly.  “You guys are not sleeping next to each other!  I’m not waking up in the middle of the night to two dudes getting it on!”

“Are you a fucking moron?” Bakugou growls.  He can see Sero starting to take bets out of the corner of his eye and jerks his chin at Kirishima, who flashes him a thumbs up and digs Bakugou’s wallet out of his bag to add to the pool.  “You’re the one always bitching about us not taking advantage of being dorm neighbors.  Besides, we wouldn’t fucking do anything in a room full of people anyway, don’t be fucking gross!”

“I don’t believe you,” Kaminari wheezes.  He struggles again before going limp, panting.  “Holy shit!  Why are you so strong?!  Do you have to be good at everything?”

“Obviously.”  Bakugou makes sure Kaminari is well and truly giving up before extracting himself, straightening his sleep clothes.

“The bet was really heavily in your favor,” Kirishima tells him, bringing over just a couple hundred yen more.  “Satou thought Kaminari would shock you though.”

“Kaminari would get destroyed if he tried to shock me,” Bakugou grunts, folding the money back into his wallet.  Not that Kaminari probably couldn’t at least stun him, but he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.  Idiot probably didn’t even think about it.

“Dude, he probably didn’t want to really hurt you.”

“Then he should get better at grappling holds if he feels like winning.”  Bakugou rummages through his bag.  “…fuck.  Left my phone outside.”

Kirishima perks.  “I’ll come with you.”

“To get my fucking phone?”  What, does Kirishima think he’s like five years- oh.  There’s that look.  “Yeah whatever,” Bakugou sniffs, like his heart didn’t do a sudden little skip-leap at the realization that Kirishima wants to sneak out with him so they can do gross things like kiss and whisper and hold each other and hopefully some grinding also.  “I don’t care.”

Kirishima grins and punches his side excitedly, bouncing for the door behind him.  “Bye guys!  Don’t worry Kaminari, we’ll get all our making out done before we come back.”

“You’d better!”

The mountains are just high enough to discourage most of the humidity, so while it gets sweltering during the day, at night a chill just shy of comfortable seeps in through the trees.  Bakugou spares the edge of the forest half a glance before he jogs over to the picnic tables and snatches his phone up.  The signal in the mountains is spotty at best, with absolutely no hope of an internet connection (at least, not without bribing Kaminari) but he’s still got all his apps and music to think about.

Even with the brightness turned down, his phone casts an awful lot of light.  The only other illumination is from the windows in the lodge behind them, the moon having long since hidden behind heavy evening clouds.  Bakugou’s eyes keep drawing up to the entrance to the nature trails that wind through the woods, gated and dark.

“Hey.”  Kirishima’s arms wind around Bakugou from behind, his mouth against the back of Bakugou’s neck.  The contrast of the cold on his skin and the heat of Kirishima’s lips makes him shiver.  “Too bad we’re on separate bath schedules, huh?”

Bakugou snorts, shoving his phone into his pocket and forcing the woods out of his mind.  Who the fuck cares?  It’s just a bunch of nature trails, and he’s got something way more important to pay attention to right now.  “Would you really wanna fool around in there?”

Kirishima hesitates, then sighs against Bakugou’s neck.  “Okay, no.  But I could at least look!  I feel like I’ve been robbed.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Like you don’t feel the same way.  I heard you whining to Aizawa-sensei.”

Bakugou sputters.  “I wasn’t- that wasn’t whining.  I was arguing.”  He turns around in Kirishima’s arms and lets him back him up to sit on the park benches, tugging insistently until Kirishima obliges and straddles his lap.  His hands find Kirishima’s hips and squeeze.  “Shut up.”

Kirishima buries his fingers in Bakugou’s hair and snickers.  “Dude.  You’re so cute.”

“Don’t call me cute.”

Manly cute.”

Bakugou pinches his side to make him yelp and squirm.  “There’s no such fucking thing as manly cute.

“Sure there is!  That’s you.  Brand new category, all yours.  It’s like sexy manly, with the muscles and the crazy grinning as you blow stuff up, but also damn cute with all the blushing you do.  You’re breaking new ground here, pioneer, be proud.”  Kirishima grins down at him and Bakugou feels like he would probably level the whole goddamn mountain if Kirishima asked him to.

“…idiot,” Bakugou mutters, slides his hands up Kirishima’s back and pulls on him until he bends down to kiss him.

The great thing about Kirishima is that he’s strong.  Bakugou’s more or less come to terms with the fact that he prefers hard to soft, that he’s definitely way more into the swell of muscles over the soft curves of breasts and hips.  He’s pretty sure he’ll never be into a girl, but at the same time he’s pretty sure he’ll never be into anyone like he’s into Kirishima, either.  Kirishima with his solid arms and his square hips and his sharp, sharp teeth that are gently scraping over Bakugou’s neck just-

Snap.

Ice water dumps itself into his veins and Bakugou grabs Kirishima’s shoulders to shove him back, wrenching around to stare at the entrance to the trails.  He sees a flash of something, like the kick of a deer hoof but it takes too long, way too long to connect that to the noise he heard.  A deer.  Just a deer.  But there could be something else; he has to keep watching, he has to make sure there’s not-

Something touches his face and Bakugou flinches until he realizes it’s just Kirishima, hand coming up to cup his cheek.  “Dude,” he says insistently, voice low with worry.  “Are you okay?”  His hand slips down to press against Bakugou’s chest.  “Holy shit, your heart’s going a mile a minute.  Did you see something?”

“Heard something,” Bakugou mutters, leaning his elbow on the table and pressing his knuckles against the wood.  “…just a deer.”

Kirishima goes silent and Bakugou doesn’t have to turn to know what kind of look he’s got on his face.  “Let’s go back in,” he says after a minute, slipping down from Bakugou’s lap and taking his hand to pull on him.  “C’mon, before we get in trouble.”

Bakugou doesn’t fight it, but he watches the woods until they make it inside.  And when the boys all settle down to sleep, genuinely exhausted from a long first day, Bakugou sticks his hand out from under his covers so Kirishima can take it, squeeze it, and kiss his knuckles until they both fall asleep.

Chapter Text

The camp schedule is pretty clear-cut, which is something of a relief after the last training camp.  Even before everything had gone to shit, the training had been hellish.  Bakugou still remembers holding his hands in near-boiling water until he thought the skin would peel off before having to shove them into a cooler full of ice.  He’s not sure how the fuck that helped with his quirk, but then again Aizawa is insane and possibly also a lowkey sadist, so maybe it was just for his own entertainment.

This time though, it’s fairly straightforward.  Sparring in the morning, strength and endurance drills immediately after lunch.  Various lessons with teachers in the afternoon, then free time, dinner, baths, bed.  Bakugou suspects the teachers are going easy on them, trying to settle them back into a training mindset without pushing them too hard to remember what last year was like.  All he knows is that he’d better fucking improve or he’s gonna be pissed as hell at this colossal waste of time.

The morning dawns and the students all shuffle outside with varying degrees of wakefulness.  Bakugou shoves that copycat asshole into a bush when he bumps into him for the third time, and commends himself on his restraint.  What he’d really wanted to do was blow his face off.

“I encourage all of you to think of potential matchups that will help you improve,” Cementoss is saying, like any of them are going to actually absorb this information at the asscrack of dawn.  “While the instructors will occasionally make suggestions, we would like you to consider more carefully the skills of your peers, and choose your opponent accordingly.  These are the heroes you may be working with in the future; knowing how your quirks and fighting styles mesh is vital to not only measuring your own progress, but to encourage a better understanding of both your friends and competition.”

Bakugou rubs at his eyes.  Kirishima’s presence had helped keep the worst of the nightmares away, but he’d still slept restlessly and woken with a deep sense of unease.  Or maybe it was just the same unsettling feeling he’d had ever since he got on the bus.  Goddamn thing won’t go-

“Bakugou!”

He jerks his head up to see Uraraka, of all people, bouncing over toward him with a grin on her face.  “What the fuck do you want?” he asks.

“What else could it be?  I wanna fight you!  Be my sparring partner!”

Bakugou blinks incomprehensibly for a moment.  That’s right, they hadn’t actually ever had a proper rematch since the sports festival last year.  “…alright,” he says after a moment, because he honestly can’t remember half the quirks of this years’ classmates anyway so he might as well go for it.  And, well, if he’s being honest, the fight with Uraraka had been sort of fun until it ended way too early.

“Oh god, Uraraka, are you a masochist?”  Kaminari throws Bakugou a baleful look.  “Don’t just pointlessly slam her this time, would you?”

“Actually, Bakugou’s a great opponent.”  Uraraka gently removes the hand Kaminari had clapped onto her shoulder.  “None of us are ever going to improve unless we’re taken seriously, right?”

“You heard her,” Bakugou crows smugly.  “Eat a dick.  I’m a better fight than you.”

“I didn’t say all of that.”  Uraraka circles around and starts shoving against Bakugou’s back until he stops digging in his heels to flick Kaminari off and starts walking.  “Um, but, yeah basically what he said!  Please try to take your opponent seriously even if they’re a girl, okay Kaminari?”

“Hey, why don’t you fight that vine chick again?” Bakugou calls over his shoulder.  “Then you can be embarrassed when she whoops your ass twice!”

“Your shoulders are really stiff,” Uraraka notes behind him when they’re finally far enough away so his explosions won’t interfere with the other fights.

“Mind your own business.”

“Well okay, but if I beat you because you don’t limber up first, I don’t want to hear any complaining!”

Bakugou glares at her, then reluctantly starts stretching.  He ignores her giggling.

Because of their proximity to the rest of the classes, Bakugou can’t go as all out with his explosions as he normally would.  He has to get creative; using them as propulsion to evade, purposefully creating explosions with more smoke to obscure her vision.  He can begrudgingly admit to himself that she’s gotten a lot better at hand-to-hand, when she gets within centimeters of grabbing onto his forearm and sending him up into the goddamn stratosphere.

“I’ve been taking lessons at Mr. Gunhead’s office!” she chirps when he asks.  Or well, snarls at her a vague approximation of a query.  “He doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but he really wants me to apprentice there next year.  I mostly train with some of his sidekicks, and usually only one or two days out of the month, but it’s really making a difference!  I’m doing pretty good, huh?”

Bakugou detonates an explosion into her face and she sputters.

“So,” Uraraka grunts as she manages to tap his jacket.  He wrenches it off to prevent it from floating into his face and when she releases it somewhere above him he slaps it away.  Tried to blind him with it, the fucker.  “Have you looked at any offices to apprentice at yet?  Are you going to go with Best Jeanist?”

“We’re supposed to be sparring, not socializing,” Bakugou snaps.  He wouldn’t apprentice there even if he was held at gunpoint anyway.  Not only would it be a fucking waste of time, but he’d have to wear those horrible skinny jeans.  Plus there’s the fact that Best Jeanist isn’t exactly in top condition lately, and Bakugou doesn’t want to be reminded every day of the circumstances of why he can’t move his right arm anymore.

“What’s wrong with both?  Ack!”  She spits out some grit he’d slapped in her direction.

Bakugou lets himself look smug.  “Pay attention or eat dirt, roundface.”

“That’s so rude!  Don’t call me that.”

“Don’t have a round face then.”

“That isn’t something I can change!”

At some point Aizawa comes over to put his two cents in.  “You’re relying a lot on your quirk,” he tells Bakugou flatly.  “Just because it’s a strong one doesn’t mean you can make it the crux of every attack you do.”

“What else should I be using?  She has fucking float hands,” Bakugou argues back, cheeks burning.  Why the fuck is he being singled out?  Literally everyone else is using their quirk excessively in the matches, isn’t that what they’re supposed to be practicing?

“Then you both have a lot in common.  Both of you need your hands to attack.”  Aizawa grabs for Bakugou’s wrist, but does this weird thing where he stops and looks at him before he resumes, more slowly.  He twists Bakugou’s arm behind him, but turns his wrist and presses the inside of his fist against the small of his back.  “Can’t use it now, can you?  You both need to think more on how to incapacitate your opponent without using your quirk.”  He lets go of Bakugou and quickly steps back, and Bakugou immediately feels his shoulders relax.  He rubs at one of them absently.  “All right, let me hear those gears turning.  Uraraka, how could you immobilize Bakugou?”

“Um.”  Uraraka rubs her mouth thoughtfully, squinting.  “…well.  If I just started with making him float-”

“Remember who this is.  Bakugou has fine control over his explosions, and he’s already used to maneuvering in the air.  There’s a chance that he could really use that to his advantage.”

“Oh.”  Uraraka deflates before puffing herself back up, and marching right over to Bakugou.  She starts circling him and staring like he’s a piece of meat.

“Hey,” he protests, swatting at her hand when she reaches for him.

“Let her do it,” Aizawa says mildly, like he thinks this is funny.

Uraraka glances up at him before reaching for his wrist again.  He makes a fist with the other hand to keep from shoving her back.  “I guess I would, um.”  She presses his arm against his side.  “I’d do what you did and find a way to restrain him so his hands are against himself.  Or in the way.  He can’t use his explosions if all he’ll do is hurt himself with them, right?”

 -the cuffs on him already, he won’t do anything with-

Bakugou jerks his arm away from her and Uraraka holds up her hands.  “Or something like that.”

“Right, but he’s not going to just stand there and let you look for something to use.”

“I- oh!”  Uraraka runs over to where Bakugou’s jacket is collecting dust on the ground and snatches it up.  “I could’ve restrained him with this when he was trying to get it off!”

Aizawa nods.  “Exactly.  Don’t just do something and hope it works out in your favor; whenever you make a move, even if that move becomes a mistake, you have to be able to use it to your advantage.”

Uraraka beats the dust out of Bakugou’s jacket before holding it out to him.  He snatches it back with a grumble.  “Thanks, Aizawa-sensei,” she chirps, looking way too pleased for having just been lectured on not sucking at fighting someone.

Aizawa nods at her before turning to Bakugou, and there’s something there on his face that Bakugou doesn’t like.  Some bit of him that sees more than he should be allowed to, like he’d somehow heard Bakugou’s heart speed up during the demonstration.  “Bakugou?  What would you do?”

Bakugou stares back evenly.  Aizawa must be looking for a weakness.  Maybe even looking for a reason to send him home; he knows his mom likes him.  His parents probably wouldn’t think twice about calling Aizawa up and telling him about the nightmare.  He can’t let it slip that he’s already not doing so hot.  “I’d let her float me,” he says defiantly, lifting a chin.  “Grab on before she can throw me anywhere, then blow her ass to kingdom come.”

Aizawa sighs.  “Still using your quirk, I see.  But that’s a good strategy.”

“Fine, I’d fuckin’ punch her in the face until she released it!  What do you want from me?”

“All right, all right.”  Aizawa glances at Uraraka.  “I want to see you both thinking more critically with the rest of your time.  Fights aren’t supposed to be drawn out; you want to end them as quickly as possible.  No more of this cat-and-mouse scramble, it’s boring to watch.  Got it?”

Uraraka snaps off a smart salute.  “Yessir!”

Fine, okay, fine.”

Uraraka turns to Bakugou after Aizawa ambles off to harass someone else and tilts her head curiously.  “Would you really punch me in the face?”

“Obviously.  This isn’t a fucking tea party, it’s a fight.”  He doesn’t expect the small smile that crawls into place and glares at her as hard as he can.  “Why the fuck are you smiling?”

“No reason!”

“Do you get off on getting punched?  Fucking gross.”

“Don’t be silly!”

 


 

Ever since Bakugou moved all his cooking shit into the downstairs kitchen, nobody will leave him the fuck alone.

All he wants is some goddamn stir fry once in a while.  He just wants to make some fucking stir fry and take it up to his room and eat in peace, but the minute anybody sees him tooling around in there they start gathering like flies.  Like obnoxious, droning, complaining flies.

It’s not like he feels obligated to feed any of them, obviously.  Since the dorms were opened the cafeteria has been made available for breakfast, lunch and dinner so it’s not as if they can’t leave and go feed their own damn selves.  He also doesn’t have an issue with just putting in his earphones and ignoring the shit out of them until he’s done and can escape with his dinner.

But they get smart about it and it gets really annoying.

They’d started out gathering around the counters and whining and wheedling, but after that time he stabbed one of his cutting boards two inches away from Sero’s hand they all got the hint and scattered.  Nobody really bothers him anymore, but there’s almost always some kind of traffic happening on the first floor, and he’s caught a few of them staring.

Kirishima suggested that it’s because seeing Bakugou do something domestic must be really interesting, which Bakugou thinks is probably the fucking dumbest reason ever.

“Not really,” says Kirishima as he watches Bakugou cook with that embarrassingly soft look on his face.  Kirishima’s the only one allowed to hang around when Bakugou’s making dinner and he uses that privilege to his full advantage under the guise of being a ‘taste-tester.’  Like he fucking needs it.  “You’re always so extra, dude.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe you’re still human like the rest of us.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“You’re just intense.  It’s not an insult.”

Bakugou doesn’t know whether or not he’s offended so he just says, “Fuck you,” and stuffs a piece of tofu into Kirishima’s mouth.

He gets a few weeks of blissful peace until one time Jirou, who apparently has tired of this mortal coil and is looking to die, comes up to him while he’s cooking and says, “So can you make croquettes?”

“Who the fuck do you think I am?” Bakugou demands.  Fucking croquettes.  Obviously he can make croquettes.  “I’m not taking requests, asshole.  Get lost.”

“Look, I really like ‘em but I always burn them.  If I buy all the stuff for you to make some for both of us, will you make them for me?”

“No.”

“Not even for a free meal?”

“Do I look like I’m down on my luck or something?  I don’t give a fuck about a free meal!”

Jirou sighs and pushes off from the counter.  “Okay…I mean, I guess I’ll just make them myself.  They can’t be that much worse than yours, right?”

This is the thing: Bakugou knows when he’s being baited.  He knows it.  He knows about seven times out of ten when someone’s just trying to get a rise out of him.  He doesn’t appreciate it, that kind of asshole manipulation, but-

But god damn it, how dare she.

“Yours will taste like dog food compared to mine.  Fucking get the shit, I’ll make them.”

Looking back, he really should’ve seen it coming.

More and more requests come in, usually presented the same way until it gets to the point where he’ll agree to do it even without any baiting.  Some people get the boot, and if he doesn’t like the food they’re requesting he won’t do it (why the fuck would he make something he doesn’t want to eat?) but more often than not, it’s all simple shit.  And he does get a free meal out of it, and he can usually get whoever’s requesting to do the dishes too.  Less work for him since he doesn’t have to shop and doesn’t have to clean up.

Plus- okay fine, he really likes all the praise.  Apparently his cooking really is fucking awesome, which he attributes to years of demanding to do it himself at home and also probably just more of his natural awesome talent.  It’s not like it’s hard, but when he sees someone like Yaoyorozu ask how to make rice in a steamer it occurs to him that he has yet another incredibly valuable skill that many of his peers do not.  So that’s a good ego boost.

So that’s how it turns out.  For the rest of the year, he’s off-and-on the official cook for his class, and the rumors of his cooking carry on to his new classmates as they move into their second year so he ends up being the unofficial cook for his new class, too.  Some of his old classmates still come over to his dorm and ask him to make food also, so it’s more like he’s the cook for his entire year.  He also suspects that there’s some kind of ‘request guidelines’ in circulation too, because it follows a formula after a while and some assholes he’s never even exchanged words with somehow manage to do everything right without him yelling.

It doesn’t occur to Bakugou until it’s too late that he’s somehow learning things about his classmates against his will.  Uraraka likes dashimaki because it reminds her of home.  Tetsutetsu will eat literally anything featuring spinach.  Kaminari likes the hamburgers Bakugou makes with his cast-iron skillet and Kendou likes goya chanpuru, which Bakugou has only made once since it’s disgusting.

It wouldn’t be a problem if that information didn’t start to bleed into the rest of his interactions with them.  His damn traitorous brain sees Kendou drinking from a coffee cup and he wonders if she takes it black, since she likes bitter foods.  Why would he give a fuck?  Why should he waste precious brainpower considering the likes and dislikes of other people?

He banned requests for a while and again, he has no idea how it spread so universally far when all he did was tell Kaminari to fuck off, but somehow he wasn’t bothered after that.  And then he realized that shopping and doing dishes all the time is tiresome as fuck so he begrudgingly told Kirishima to tell everyone that he’d start cooking again.

It’s not as if he’s the only student who uses the kitchen, either.  And there’s kind of a pecking order involved, that’s complicated and convoluted and not something Bakugou feels like untangling.  Monoma doesn’t get to place any requests, personally or through anyone else, because he’s a quirk-stealing garbage stack and Bakugou hates him.  Tetsutetsu doesn’t get to ask for food if he’s been a dick lately, because he seems to have named himself the unofficial protector of Kirishima’s virtue so every now and then he gives Bakugou attitude for ‘not being good enough.’  Kirishima is fucking unhelpful as usual, since he seems to find it hilarious.

Todoroki and Deku get fucking nothing, ever.  Bakugou suspects that Uraraka’s made a request for that four-eyes engine dickhead once, but he can’t prove it.

Bakugou knows it’s getting out of hand when Yaoyorozu comes up to him asking him for some kind of fancy french shit she eats when she’s back at home.  “Why the fuck do you think I’ll cook for you?”

She gives him this look like she doesn’t understand why he’s asking such a question.  “You’re cooking for everyone else.”

“Not everyone.”  Bakugou turns his back on her and resumes chopping up his cabbage.  “Scram.  You’re not even in my class anymore.”

Yaoyorozu sighs behind him, like she’s the one troubled by all of this, but she leaves.  Bakugou should’ve guessed that Ashido would come flying in to harass him, but he’s too preoccupied being annoyed that he’s sunk so far that Yaoyorozu thinks she can just waltz up and ask him for shit in his own goddamn dorm.

“Bakugou!  C’mon, why can’t you make Momo some food?  You do it for me!”

“I don’t fucking like her.  Know-it-all ponytail rich girl.”

“Okay, first of all, it’s not like she flaunts being rich or anything!  Second of all, her ponytail is cute.  And third of all-” Ashido throws her arms around his neck and hangs off of him like a limpet.  He starts a countdown in his head of when, exactly, he’ll explode her face if she doesn’t let go.  “-she has a lot of money so she can buy really, really good meat.  And you’ll get to eat it.”

Shit.  She has a point.  Bakugou probably wouldn’t even have to convince her to get the really good marbled shit.

“C’mon.  You know, if it wasn’t for her, the cops wouldn’t have ever found you back in our first year.”  Bakugou turns a dangerous glare onto her and Ashido abruptly lets go, backing up a couple steps, hands clasped behind her back.  “I’m just saying.  It’s thanks to Momo’s tracker that they even knew where to look, isn’t it?  Even when she was hurt she was thinking about you.  Don’t you think you owe her a little for that?”

…fuck.  “Fine,” Bakugou snarls.  “Go tell her I’ll make it.”

Ashido claps excitedly and bounces off.

And when Yaoyorozu sits down and tries it, and when she presses a hand to her mouth and looks up at him in surprise and says, “Bakugou, this is…very good,” well, shit.  Fine.  Maybe it’s not fucking horrible to know this kind of thing.

 


 

“Finer control over your quirks is, unfortunately, not something that can be learned in a week.”  Cementoss rests his hands on his knees, regarding each of the forty-odd students sitting in a half-circle in front of him.  “It is something acquired over a lifetime of professional quirk use.  Many of you already have impressive control over your quirks, while others still have quite some work to do.”

“Not naming any names?” Monoma calls smugly.

“Well, he didn’t want to embarrass you.” 

Oooh,” Kaminari crows, flinging himself across Satou’s lap to give Jirou a high-five.

“Please pay attention.”  Cementoss has this amazing way of menacing his students that involves staring very placidly.  It’s like being observed by a quietly threatening brick wall, very different from Aizawa’s perpetually exhausted irritation.  “…Peer review is excellent for encouraging this creative thought.  Oftentimes, an outside perspective is invaluable in the evolutionary process that takes place to make a great hero from a mediocre one.”

Bakugou bristles.  Mediocre?  This rectangular fuck.  There’s nothing mediocre about him.

“You are all still students, so I don’t expect you to have the same versatility as professional heroes, who have run their skills up against myriad villains with even more diverse quirks and skillsets.  A peer review of your quirk use will help you to better isolate your shortcomings, and honest feedback on your presentation as a hero will help you to cultivate the image you wish to portray to the public.  The purpose of this session is to offer up both so lay aside your egos, students, so that you may begin to strengthen the weak chinks in your armor.  Now, do we have any volunteers?”

A few hands shoot up into the air, but none higher than Iida’s.  Bakugou rolls his eyes and rests his chin on his hand.  Great.  Stand up in front of your classmates and wait for them to tear you apart.  He’ll be happy to see how they try to tell him to use his quirk better.  He’ll show them fine fucking control.

Iida stands next to Cementoss with his hands behind his back and shouts something about not holding back on criticism while Bakugou tunes the fuck out.  He didn’t come here to waste all his concentration and brain power on helping other people improve.  If they can’t do it themselves, they’ve got no business trying to make it as professional heroes.  Peer review, what a fucking joke.

“Dude,” Kirishima whispers, digging an elbow into his side.  “Aren’t you gonna say anything?  You’re always watching everybody’s fights so closely.”

“That’s just because I’m looking for weaknesses so I can kick their asses,” Bakugou grumbles.  “Dumbass, I want to be the top hero.  Why would I try to help my competition improve?”

“Sure, we’ll be full-time rivals once we graduate, but we’re classmates right now.  And there’s always all kinds of teamups and stuff, and some of us might even go to the same agencies.  Wouldn’t you rather fight with someone better skilled at your back?”

“I’d rather fucking fight alone, thanks.”

Kirishima doesn’t say anything and Bakugou doesn’t look, but he doesn’t have to.  The second it came out of his mouth he knew he’d fucked that up; he doesn’t have to see the hurt on Kirishima’s face to know he took it personally.

Fucking idiot.  Did he think they’d be together forever or something?  There’s a reason most professional heroes never get married or have kids.

“Kirishima?  All right, please step up.”

Bakugou gapes at Kirishima as he lowers his hand and pops onto his feet, jogging over to Cementoss.  What is he doing?  Why is he volunteering when he’s already so critical of how his own quirk isn’t ‘flashy’ or whatever?  Is he trying to prove a point?

Kirishima doesn’t seem bothered, hands on his hips as he puffs out his chest proudly.  “Lay it on me!” he says cheerfully.

Bakugou’s eyes snap over to his classmates and he glares.

“Dude, stop that.”

“I’m not doing shit,” Bakugou says, as he glares death at everyone.

Kirishima glowers at him.  “Dude!”

Stupid fucking Kirishima, fine.  Bakugou doesn’t know why the fuck he has to be all gung-ho on friendship, but if that’s how he’s going to play out his hero career then he can do whatever the fuck he wants.  He can make his own stupid decisions.  Bakugou doesn’t care, doesn’t have to and isn’t going to. 

He turns away with a huff and ignores Kirishima’s annoyed little sound, resting his chin in his hand again.  Whatever.  Whatever.

Yaoyorozu clears her throat.  “Well, first of all, since your quirk isn’t the least bit flashy-”

Bakugou snaps back around and jabs a finger at her.  “Shut your fucking mouth, ponytail, you don’t know shit!”

Bakugou!

Bakugou jerks forward to see Kirishima glaring and turning red, fists at his sides.  “Shut up, man.  You’re embarrassing me.”

Something unpleasant boils in Bakugou’s gut and he shoves himself up onto his feet, storming off.  “Fine.  This is fucking stupid.”  Someone calls after him but he doesn’t know (or care) who.  He makes for the trees, finds the first one with decently thick branches far enough away from the clearing so he won’t be seen and climbs.

The woods are quiet.  It’s the kind of quiet nature affords a person far away from the city.  There’s no distant rush of highway noise, no chattering voices of casual hikers, no ambient city sounds to pollute the stillness of a forest that allows only its inhabitants and the occasional visitor.  From home, Bakugou takes two trains and a bus to reach this kind of peace.

He can’t completely savor it anymore.

Out of everything, that’s the worst.  Out of everything that happened; All Might losing his strength; the pieces falling into place regarding Deku’s sudden acquisition of a quirk; security tightening to the point of oppression; the descent of fear settling over the populace as a whole as Shigaraki continues to elude the authorities; for all of that, the thing that bothers Bakugou the most is that he can’t find true peace anywhere, anymore.  He used to find it in the woods two trains and a bus away, in the serenity of the mountains before the sun rises, but now…now he can’t.  He jumps at shadows.  He sits tense and waits for something to break.

He wish it would just break already.

“Are you being hard on yourself?”

Bakugou jumps and frowns down past his knee at Ashido, standing at the foot of his tree with her hands clasped behind her back.  “Get bent.”

“Kidding!  I know better than to think you feel bad for something like that.”  Instead of getting bent, she climbs up beside him and pokes his ribs until he begrudgingly makes room for her.  “Though if it makes you feel any better, I thought it was sweet.”

“Shut up.”

“Really!  Overbearing and suuuper controlling, but sweet!  For you.”

“Fuck off.”

Ashido pulls her knee up and hugs it.  “Kirishima’s not really mad.  He wanted to come after you, but I told him to stay.”  She rests her cheek on her knee and stares at Bakugou.  “He’s nice, you know.  Gives compliments so people don’t feel too much like they’re being criticized.”

“They are being criticized,” Bakugou growls.

Ashido sighs.  “You’re so sensitive.

“I’m not sensitive.

“You know, you’re gonna have to go back and get the same treatment.  It’s mandatory.  Wanna get chained to a post again?”

Great.  He had been enjoying not thinking about that.  “…Shut up.”

Ashido swings her legs over the edge of the branch.  “Here, I’ll break down what everybody’s gonna say.  That as for your hero image, you’re a huge jerk and you’re violent and you’re terrible with the press and with civilians and kids, and nobody wants to be around you because you’re so hateful all the time.”

If she was expecting that to hurt, she’s got another thing coming.  She’s also fucking wrong because no matter how hateful he is, people still won’t leave him the fuck alone.  “Like I give a fuck about that shit.”

“And as for your quirk…”  Ashido shrugs.  “Geez, I don’t know.  I don’t think anybody could use your quirk better than you already do.”

Bakugou refuses to feel proud of that.  No- refuses, goddamn you brain.  There is no discernable reason for him to feel smug just because some classmate he despises slightly less than the others says that like it’s fact.  Because it is.  So there’s no reason.  None.  “I’m not gonna say it again, Blackeyes: fuck.  Off.”

Ashido rolls her eyes and drops down from the branch.  “Hurry up and come back, or someone else will have to come get you and it won’t be Kirishima!  It’ll probably be Tetsutetsu.  Or Iida, if we’re feeling mean.”

It’s not until Bakugou can see Iida storming over that he finally drops down from the tree and slinks back over to the group.  “Fine, just fucking go already,” he snaps as he takes his place in the center of the semi-circle, refusing to sit, hands shoved as deep into his pockets as he can manage.

“Obviously for starters, your personality needs work,” Asui says automatically without even raising a hand.

“Fuck you, frog freak!”

She points.  “Like that.  Probably not good for TV.”

“Eh,” Sero calls, “sometimes that’s sorta good.  Endeavor is kind of like that, y’know?  I mean, less cursing, but really standoffish?  And he’s the number two hero.”

“He didn’t become the number two hero because of his standoffishness,” Shiozaki points out.  “Or I don’t think so.  Todoroki?”

“He’s always been like that,” Todoroki murmurs.  “But I don’t know what he was like before he became number two.  I couldn’t tell you.”

“Because of your history and the way you act, people will think of you as a villain.”  Every head turns to regard Shinsou, chin in his hand as he stares right at Bakugou unflinchingly.

Shinsou entered the Heroics Department in the middle of their first year.  Bakugou barely remembers it; he hadn’t been paying much attention to anything that wasn’t right in his face, and Shinsou had no interest in him so they had no reason to talk.  Not even when the asshole got shuffled into their class, and then when he was sorted into Deku’s class the next year.

But it’s not like Bakugou doesn’t know.  After that fight with Deku in the sports festival, everybody knew what Shinsou’s quirk was.  A villain quirk.  Not flashy, not attention-grabbing, but dangerous as fuck.

Bakugou shoves his hands further into his pockets and narrows his eyes.  Shinsou knows he won’t answer, so it’s all just baiting.  Doesn’t matter how true it is; plenty of heroes look at how strong he is and scramble for him to apprentice at their agencies.  What’s he give a fuck if a few pathetic losers think that he’s villain material just because he’s mean?  Those people don’t matter.

Shinsou blinks at him languidly.  “You’re okay with that?  You can answer, you know.  I won’t brainwash you.”

“My answer is go fuck yourself.  I don’t care.”

Kirishima clears his throat.  “Well, lots of heroes use a super tough image to sell themselves.  Not everybody’s gotta be friendly, right?”

“Not to mention,” Kendou pitches in, perhaps trying to keep the peace as much as Kirishima, “he’s strong and his quirk is flashy, and that’s at least two thirds of a hero’s selling point.  Plus if he gets an agent it’s not like he’ll have to worry too much about PR.”

Shinsou shrugs and sits back.  “True enough.”

Bakugou meets Kirishima’s eyes for a moment before he looks away again.  The silence grows uncomfortable and Bakugou shifts his weight.  Kirishima just stood right up and asked for this kind of scrutiny.  What’s wrong with him?

“I really can’t think of any better way he could use his quirk,” Yaoyorozu says finally, exasperated.

Revoltingly talented,” Sero agrees solemnly, nodding.

“Shut up,” Bakugou growls.

“Um.”

Bakugou slowly lifts his head, heart pounding as he takes in the single raised hand from the back of the group.

Deku. Fucking Deku.  Is going to try and tell him how to use his quirk better.  The students in the front row shift back a little bit as Bakugou leans forward.  “What.”

Uraraka jabs Deku with an elbow and nods encouragingly.  Roundface fuckstick.  Traitorous roundface.  They’d managed to have a good session that Bakugou didn’t completely hate, and now this.  He was an idiot for ever thinking she was the least shitty of her shitty group of shitty friends.

“Kacchan, your palms, uh, the sweat from your palms?  It’s like nitroglycerin, right?”

Bakugou glowers as hard as he can, praying for a sudden quirk mutation that’ll let him combust people with just the force of his stare.  “Why are you fucking asking like you don’t already know?”

“Er.”  Deku flips through his stupid fucking stalker notebook and Bakugou somehow resists the urge to fly over, tear it from his hands and blow it up.  “I was thinking.  If you could find out the exact chemical composition, well.  You know, nitroglycerin actually has uh, has medical uses too.”

“Wait, wait wait wait.  Hold on.”  Kaminari holds up a hand.  “Are you trying to say that Bakugou’s sweat has healing properties?

“No, not exactly…”

“Nitroglycerin is used to treat angina, which is the restriction of blood vessels around the heart,” Yaoyorozu pipes up.  “It opens up veins and arteries so that the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood.  Good for people with weakened muscles, heart disease, etc.”

Kendou rubs her chin.  “That’s pretty specific.  Would that even be useful in the field?”

“Well, it has-” Yaoyorozu flushes.  “It has other uses.”

Bakugou, who knows exactly what all the uses of nitroglycerin are, suddenly realizes with some alarm that there could be multiple people in the group in front of him who could make the connection he just did.  “Shut the fuck up,” he orders, a little too desperately judging by the looks of interest he’s suddenly getting from Sero and Kaminari, two assholes who have no problem risking their lives to laugh at him.

“What kind of other uses?” Monoma asks, having also noticed Bakugou’s embarrassment and, as a shit-stirring ass-licker, is determined to find out why.

Yaoyorozu glances at Bakugou.  He draws his thumb across his throat and promises death with his eyes.  Death and never making her that french onion short rib bullshit she loves ever, ever again.

“That’s enough,” Cementoss says as placidly as ever, though it seems like he’s cottoned on to there being something amiss by the way he tries to usher Bakugou back over to the group.  “We’re moving on now, do we have any more volun-”

“Oh my god,” Kaminari shouts, holding up his phone.  Of course, of course this fucker is getting a signal out here.  Of course he knows how to fucking spell ‘nitroglycerin,’ of fucking goddamn course he looked it up- “It’s also used as a pain reliever for anal tearing.

Every single head swings around to stare at Kirishima.  Kirishima blinks, then goes a scarlet so impressive that his face blends into his hair.  “Oh my god!  No!  No, we haven’t even-”

“Dumbass, shut the fuck up!” Bakugou howls and then the class really starts to roar.  He can see Sero almost dying and sends up a quick prayer to whatever gods exist to just take him, fucking take that Soy Sauce bastard already.

Kirishima chokes on a sheepish laugh and covers his face.  “Dude…I didn’t even know…”

“You didn’t know?!  Bakugou, man, step up your game.”

Bakugou snaps.

He zeroes in on Kaminari, ignoring how his face is scorching in favor of stalking over and grabbing his phone with one smoking hand.

Kaminari squawks and scrambles for it when Bakugou wrenches it out of his reach.  “Dude don’t you dare-”

Bakugou blows up Kaminari’s phone.

 


 

Cementoss must really be determined to milk that whole old-school samurai thing, because his idea of punishment is to have students kneel and place a stone Buddha statue on their knees.  Where the fuck did he even get them?  Fuck, did he make them?  With what fucking cement?  They’re in the middle of the fucking mountains.

“You owe me a new phone,” Kaminari hisses over at Bakugou, sweat beading on his forehead.

Bakugou bares his teeth at him over Buddha’s head.  “I don’t owe you shit.

“Hey guys,” Kirishima calls, poking his head in through the door.  “Oh geez.  Those look heavy.”

“Fuck off Kirishima!”

“I can’t believe I’m agreeing with this phone killer, but yeah, fuck off.”

“Wow.”  Kirishima sniffs.  “I came in to see if you wanted some company, but if this is how it’s gonna be then I’ll just go.”

When faced with the possibility of sitting out the rest of his punishment with just Kaminari’s annoying fucking face to look at, Bakugou finds it a lot easier to swallow down his pride.  Well, a little.  “Wait.”

Kirishima stops at the door, turns and raises a brow.  Shit.  He’s still annoyed from this afternoon.

Bakugou drums his fingers on the statue.  “…you can stay.”

“Oh wow, I can stay?  Wow.”

“Uh.”  Kaminari looks between them.  “Are you gonna have a lovers' quarrel right now?”

“Kirishima, what the fuck do you want from me?  You came in here looking to stay and I said you can stay!”

“I came in here to do you a favor, man, not to get permission.

“Oohhh-kay,” Kaminari says loudly, “you two obviously are having a fight.  Uh, maybe just chill out?  Say you're sorry?”

“Shut the fuck up,” Bakugou snaps.

“Dude, stop!”  Kirishima folds his arms.  “This is a serious problem, okay?  Stop yelling at people for me!”

“I was yelling at him for myself!”

“Well stop fucking yelling at him anyway!”

Bakugou shoves the statue off his legs so he can stand.  He's not gonna be shorter than Kirishima for this shit, not even if he has to have that fucking thing on his knees all fucking night for this.  “Asshole.  Since when do you get to tell me what to do?”

“I'm not-”  Kirishima stops and presses his fingers to his temples.  “Look.  I don't care about the stuff you do that's just about you, okay?  But you can't yell at people when I ask for their help, or try to threaten people for me, or- or stuff like that.  You can't.  That's my line.”

Bakugou stares.  “...the fuck you mean your line?”

“My line, that's the line I draw!  The one I'm drawing, like,” Kirishima demonstrates.  “You're crossing my line!”

“You’re a fucking idiot.  It's not called your line, it's just a line.”

“Why am I an idiot?!  It's not the same line for everybody!”

It's a metaphorical line!

“Bro!”  Kirishima throws his hands in the air.  “What the hell does that even mean?

You don't know what metaphorical means?!”

“I know what it means, I mean I don't know what you mean!”

I mean what I fucking said!

“Oh wow you guys are good at this,” Kaminari says.  “I wish I had my phone, I'd record this for demonstrative couples therapy.”

“Shut up Kaminari,” Bakugou and Kirishima say at the same time.

He doesn't want to do this here.  Every time he and Kirishima have a serious, actual talk, they're always in private.  Even if Kaminari is part of this weird, semi...whatever person-thing he's involved in, Bakugou still doesn't want to talk to his boyfriend about this apparently new problem in front of this gossiping swaggerfuck. 

Kirishima rubs his forehead and Bakugou doesn't like it.  It looks- it looks too responsible on him, like he's got things to worry about.  Bakugou doesn't want to be something Kirishima worries about.  “Look, Bakugou, just-”

Ugh, just, fuck Kaminari.  “Your quirk isn't boring.”

Kirishima glances up and sighs.  “Dude, I know, but it's-”

“It's not lame.  It's not uninteresting.  It's not fucking boring,” Bakugou spits, because while he enjoys having the quirk he has, he kind of hates all the bullshit about having to be flashy.  When he becomes the best hero, it won’t be because his quirk is attention-grabby; it’ll be because he’s fucking strong.  Him.  And Kirishima- he's goddamn strong, too.  “I'm not gonna just- just let people sit around and fucking tell you that you gotta be more this or you gotta be less that because your quirk isn't interesting enough.  It's bullshit.  You're fine.  Don't fucking change anything.”

It seems he shocked even Kaminari into silence with that.  Bakugou drops back down onto his knees and hefts the statue onto them, just in case Cementoss decides to come check in on what the raised voices were all about.  “So just.  Fine.  Whatever, I won't get involved anymore.  But don't be an idiot.”

Kirishima leans against the doorjamb and his expression does that soft, vulnerable thing that Bakugou has never ever wanted anyone else to see.  He considers pairing up with Kaminari tomorrow so he can beat the shit out of him during sparring for taking this privilege from him.

“Holy shit, that was romantic as fuck.

“Moron,” Bakugou growls in warning, “shut your mouth.”

“No I'm being serious, that totally was.”  Kaminari clasps his hands to his chest.  “You don't hafta change anything about yourself, baby!  I love you just the way you are!”

“What the f-”  Bakugou feels his face warm and he leans threateningly in Kaminari's direction.  “I didn't fucking say all of that!”

“You totally did.”

“You kinda did,” Kirishima pitches in from the doorway, that soft look still on his face even as he folds his arms and grins.

“Shut the fuck up!  Both of you shut the fucking fuck up!”

Cementoss leans in from behind Kirishim, looking as unimpressed as ever.  “Are you finished now?  Your punishment is over.  Bakugou, I expect you to reimburse Kaminari for his cell phone.”

“What?!”

“Kaminari, I expect you to apologize to Bakugou.  And mean it.”

“Ugh, whaaaaat?

 


 

The edge of the forest darkens with the setting of the sun and Bakugou is sick of being spooked by it.  The only way he’s going to get over this is if he marches right the fuck into it, so he suggests gathering up some lanterns during free time and heading over to the cliffs in the distance to explore.

“We’ve been training all day,” Sero complains.  “Why would I wanna go rock climbing?  Where do you even find this energy?”

Ashido pops up from her spot on the grass.  “I’ll go!  The cliffs look like they have a nice view, I wanna check it out!”

“Ooh, I wanna go too!”  Hagakure slips on some sandals and jogs back toward the main lodge.  “I wanna go get dressed, wait for me!  Mina, don’t let him leave without me!”

Kaminari stares between them.  “Are you serious?  Why the hell would you wanna go n-ow,” he yelps when Jirou digs an elbow into his side as she passes.  “What the hell, Jirou?!  What was that for?!”

Bakugou doesn’t even want to know what they’re discussing.  No- it’s that he fucking knows, he knows what they’re discussing, but he’s already determined and hearing them whisper shit like go with him he’s probably trying to be tough will just piss him off.  So instead he grabs one of the LED lanterns off the picnic tables and marches for the trail gate on his own.

And stops.

Kirishima comes up beside him.  He’s sporting his own scrapes and bruises from training that morning, but he wears them well.  Bakugou still feels the nervous anticipation of their almost-fight tingling down to his fingertips, but he ignores it as he studies Kirishima's profile.  “...you coming?”

“I wanna, but.”  Kirishima looks over at him.  “I'd only be going because I'm worried about you.  So if you don't want me to go, I'll chill out here.”

“You're fucking hovering.”

“You're not giving me a lot of reasons not to, man.”

...well, fine.  Bakugou can give him that much.  He stares into the deepening shadows encroaching onto the main path and flicks on the lantern.  “Stay here then.  I'm fine.”

Kirishima touches Bakugou's elbow, just a brush, but pulls away and heads over to bother Kaminari.

“Bakugou!”  Ashido and Hagakure flank him on either side, and even have the nerve to each take an arm as he kicks open the gate and steps onto the path.

“Get the fuck off me,” he growls, shaking them loose.  The nervousness from before sets in and he ignores it with a vengeance, refusing to look over his shoulder.  There’s nothing there.  There’s nothing fucking there.

Ashido and Hagakure yammer on about mindless topics ranging from sweets to makeup to new hero gear to cute boys in their class to movies and books and what the fuck ever.  Bakugou doesn’t know how they manage to find time for all this pointless shit, but he supposes your afternoons must be pretty open if you never fucking study. 

At some point a deer comes bounding out in front of them and darts across their path; Bakugou knows he jumped, but once his heart finally calms down he realizes Ashido’s fist is still clutching the back of his shirt.  He doesn’t tell her to move it.

The actual climb up to the cliffs isn’t bad.  There are a few steep pathways they have to navigate, with Bakugou passing back the lantern and taking the lead to find the best footing but they make it only somewhat out of breath.  Bakugou revels in the burn of overused muscles; training that morning and afternoon had been hard, and his legs are a little wobbly from kneeling so long earlier but this is…this is good.  It’s good.  Nothing bad happened on the way here; he definitely proved it to himself.  There’s no reason to be uneasy.

“Wow,” Hagakure whispers, and scampers a little closer to the edge of the cliffs to peer over.  “Oooh, ooh Mina!  Mina look, there’s the lodge!  Wow, we walked a lot less than I thought.”

Bakugou glances at the edge of the horizon, still glowing a faint red.  The moon is supposed to be full and the skies clear, so the moonlight will help them on the way back but they still have to make it back down the rocky paths onto the main trail.  Doing it by lantern light won’t be easy.  Well, he can always make smaller explosions for additional light if they need it.

Hagakure sits down at the edge of the cliff, feet just barely dangling over the edge.  “Whew, I’m exhausted.  Wake me up when it’s time to go, okay?”  She throws herself back and curls up on her side.  Bakugou rolls his eyes.

“Hey, um, Bakugou?”  Ashido clasps her hands behind her back and leans closer, lowering her voice.  “Can I ask you something?”

He eyeballs her suspiciously.  “What.”

“When you and Kirishima first got together, like…I mean, who confessed first?  And who did the confessing?  You made the first move at the pool, right?  Or was it like hopelessly romantic, did one of you-”

Shut the fuck up,” Bakugou hisses desperately, glancing back toward the path, half-expecting some asshole to pop out and start recording this.  “What the fuck?  Why d’you wanna know?”

“Well.  It’s.”  Ashido picks at her nails.

Spit it out.

“I like Sero,” she exhales in a rush before clapping her hands over her face.  “Ahh!  I’ve never said it aloud before!  Oh my god.  I can’t believe you’re the first person I told.  Gosh.”

Why the fuck did she tell him?  He can’t quite believe it either.  “…okay,” he says slowly, “I don’t fucking care, so…”

“Bakugou!”  Ashido stamps her foot.  “I’m asking you for advice!”

“That is so fucking stupid,” Bakugou scoffs.

“It’s not stupid!  It’s normal.”

“Why the fuck am I the one you’re coming to for dating advice?  Ask that electric moron, he knows that asshole better than me.  Or ask one of your chick friends, there’s one right over there.”

“I can’t ask Kaminari!  And you’ve been with Kirishima for like six months.  You guys are so solid!  I want that with Sero.”

“Then fucking ask Kirishima.”

Ashido flushes a really weird magenta color.  “I can’t, Kirishima doesn’t know how to keep a secret when he gets excited.  He’d probably just yell it out the second I told him.”

Well, she definitely has him there.

“Besides, you totally made the first move.  Which is probably what I’m going to have to do, since Sero isn’t doing anything!  I’ll probably have to just grab him and kiss him before he gets it!”

Bakugou snorts, kicking a rock over the edge of the cliff.  “Make sure you get a box to stand on, short-ass.”

“Ugh!  Jerk.”  Bakugou leans with it when she shoves him and then shoves her back. 

It’s- he’d never admit it aloud, but it’s all right.  Ashido might be annoying, and might talk too much and be too timid about things, but she’s not sensitive.  She might whine and moan, but she’s never been that irritating type of scared, where people look at him like he’s going to blow up a building every time he gets even a little shouty.

Granted, he’s…okay, he’s nearly actually done that, but that was over a year ago and it was because Deku was being a fucking dick.  It’s like, get over it already, it was just one building.

Ashido pulls on his sleeve and he lets her.  “We should probably go.  I think dinner’s gonna be soon.”

She’s right.  And Bakugou is fucking starving, and if he stays here he runs the risk of being assaulted with more bullshit romance drama.  Next thing he knows, that invisible chick will cry to him about having a crush on the half-and-half bastard or someshit.  God, he’d rather be kidnapped again.

“Tooru, we’re heading back!  Wake up!”

“Mina, oh my gosh, you like Sero.”

Augh!  You were listening?!  I hate you!  Why didn’t you say something?!”

“I mean, I don’t blame you!  He’s super stylish.  He’s kind of a doofus though.”

“Tooru, shut uuuup-”

Bakugou remembers an interview All Might did when Bakugou was small.  He was four, huddled on the couch between his parents as he struggled to stay awake long past his bedtime and see All Might live, on TV, for the very first time.  He doesn’t remember much of the interview, but he remembers one question in particular because he always thought All Might’s answer was way cool.  The interviewer had asked how All Might always managed to be in the right place at the right time, and All Might’s answer had been this:

It’s not 100%, but when you make yourself aware of your surroundings, you begin to develop a sort of sense for the balance of the world around you.  Many more capable heroes could answer this question more accurately, I think!  But for me, it’s just a feeling.  You know when things feel wrong.

Bakugou’s already dropped the lantern when he sees it.

Hagakure’s clothes are over the edge, too far; her sandal’s slipped on the edge of the cliff (fucking hiking in sandals, that dumbass) and she’s falling; Ashido is already grabbing for her shirt but she’s leaning too far, she’ll just slam into her and send them both-

No time.

Bakugou’s fist closes around the back of Ashido’s shirt and he hurls an explosion over the edge of the cliff to blow them back.  Hagakure shrieks and they all topple to the ground in a pile, ears ringing from the boom that echoes over the tops of the trees.

“Bakugou…thanks,” Ashido gasps, pushing herself up off of Bakugou and reaching for Hagakure.  “Tooru, you okay?”

“I’m- I’m okay.”  Hagakure sits cross-legged and her other sandal floats up when she plucks it off.  “Wow, these things are way floppier than I thought.  Bad choice, huh?”

“Fucking stupid choice,” Bakugou snaps, shoving himself up onto his elbows.  “You’re better off hiking fucking barefoot.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right!  Wow.  Oh geez, my hands are shaking.  That was exciting!  Gets the blood flowing.”

“Dumbass. Fucking dumbass.  You would’ve died, falling from this height.”

“But I didn’t!  Mina,” Hagakure throws her arms around Ashido’s shoulders.  “You totally were gonna die trying to save me!  Maybe I’m in love with you now!”

“Bakugou saved us both,” Ashido points out, looking at Bakugou in a way he’s not sure he likes.  “I mean, of course you did.  Right?  We’re classmates.”

“My body fucking moved before I even thought about it,” Bakugou growls, standing up and brushing himself off.  He snatches up the lantern to check and make sure he didn’t break it.  “Don’t read too much into it.  Let’s go, fucking everybody heard that.  They probably think we’re getting attacked.”

Ashido and Hagakure follow him down the path much more quietly than before; almost falling off a cliff is pretty mundane when compared to the shit they’ve all gone through, but Bakugou figures it’s the adrenaline dump and hunger keeping them quiet and doesn’t break the silence himself.  Something about the way the boom of his explosion rattled the cliff, the way the smoke still hung wispy and dark in the still air put him right back on the edge he’d managed to back away from.

When Ashido and Hagakure both grab onto the hem of his shirt as they make their way down to the main path, he lets them.

 


 

“And then he lunged for us, like, lunged like he was going to throw himself off the cliff to save us!  It was so heroic.”

Bakugou’s dentist hates him.  He hates him because he’s seventeen and the enamel of his teeth is already worn down like he’s been chewing gravel for thirty years.  He tried to force a retainer on Bakugou, convinced that he was grinding his teeth at night.  ‘No no, he does it during the day,’ his mother had said.

“Blackeyes,” he says, through the teeth his dentist hates, “if you don’t stop fucking talking-”

“But you were so cool!  And fast!  I totally thought we were going over, right Tooru?”

“Definitely!  But you’re fast too Mina, I mean, wow!”  Hagakure throws her arms around Ashido and clings.  “You’re both my heroes!  I would’ve died.

“This is probably why you’re not supposed to go mountain climbing after dark,” Todoroki drones, mopping up the last of his gravy with a piece of bread.

“But it was exciting!”  Ashido flashes Bakugou a grin.  “Besides, we had a knight in shining armor there to save us.”

Bakugou snarls at her.

The second they made it back to the lodge, there were a couple teachers already lined up outside, ready to do battle.  Bakugou found out that Aizawa had even gone barreling up onto the cliffs to look around for clues.  Fucking embarrassing; making such a goddamn big deal out of one tiny explosion.  Like he wouldn’t fucking level half the forest first if someone was trying to come after them.

It just made him feel worse, to know that he’s not the only one waiting for the other shoe to drop.  A full year later and people are still fucking expecting him to get grabbed by that asshole Shigaraki.  Do the teachers and cops know something he doesn’t?  As far as Bakugou was aware, Shigaraki had moved on from grabbing students.  So when the fuck is he going to be done with this shit?  Do they have to put Shigaraki in prison, first?  Kill him?

The worst of it had been Kirishima, very pointedly trying not to hover but very, very obviously at the front of the group of students gathered in the entrance hall.  Everyone had trickled back into the dining area when they’d found out it was a false alarm, but Kirishima had hung back and waited until Bakugou came into view before slipping away.  Seeing that flash of frantic worry on his face before he’d smiled and waved had been the absolute, goddamn, motherfucking worst.

“-said, he said,” Ashido scrunches up her brow and lowers her voice to a growl, leaning her elbow on the table, “My body fucking moved before I even thought about it.  Don’t read too much into it.

“Kacchan said that?” Deku asks, like he’s allowed to join conversations involving Bakugou without specifically being invited.

“He did!  And he said some other stuff about getting back, but that’s the important part.”  Ashido grins and rounds on Kirishima, who has been trying to look like he hasn't been listening.  “Isn’t that so attractive of him, Kirishima?  Aren’t you suuuuper even more in love with him now?”

“Yeah, kinda,” Kirishima says around a mouthful of rice, and Ashido and Hagakure squeal and clap their hands.

This calls for drastic measures.  “Too bad I wasn’t Sero, since his dick is the one you wanna sit on.”

The table falls silent and Bakugou piles up his dishes on his tray before sliding out from the bench.  Kirishima gapes at him, then at Sero, and his mouth gets big and smiley and pointy and Bakugou realizes yeah, Ashido was right.  He’d never have kept that secret.

“Wait,” Kaminari says slowly.  “Sero?  You like Sero?”

“You like me?” Sero asks incredulously, gripping the edge of the table.

“I- you-!  Augh!  Bakugou!”  Ashido’s shriek echoes behind him as Bakugou escapes to the kitchens.

Doing dishes isn’t exactly a favored pastime or anything, but it’s quiet and solitary and it gives him room and space to think.  His fingers won’t stop twitching, like when he overuses his quirk.  He’d almost dropped his chopsticks twice.  He’d been fine before.  Fucking idiot Hagakure.  Stupid fucking Ashido.

He fills the dish rack and spreads out a towel.

“Does Ashido really like me?”

Bakugou doesn’t even bother turning around.  Does he have a sign on his back?  Come bother me with your pathetic romance problems or something?  “Do I fucking look like Ashido?  Ask her yourself.”

“She ran off.  Said she wanted to get ready for the baths.”  Sero comes up beside Bakugou and starts drying.  Bakugou wants to break a plate over his head, but doesn’t feel like having another thing to replace and instead just keeps ignoring him as he washes.  “So how do you know about it?”

“Because she opened her mouth and told me, moron.”

Why?

He came in here for some fucking peace, not for this interrogation bullshit-  “I don’t know!  I don’t fucking know why any of you pricks fucking do anything!  Leave me alone, asshole!  I don’t fucking care about your feelings and I don’t fucking care about your pathetic excuse for a love life!  Fuck off!”

Sero stops drying next to him and slaps the towel back down onto the counter.  “Jesus Christ, fine.  You’re such an asshole.”

Good.  Finally.  “Obviously!”

Bakugou scrubs at a bowl angrily as Sero storms over to the door.  Ten seconds of silence go by before he apparently decides to get the last word in.  “Don’t you wonder why everybody’s been so nice to you this whole trip, even though you’ve been a complete prick?”

The food Bakugou just ate turns sour in his stomach as he lifts his head and sets his jaw.  He’s not turning around.  He’s not giving that asshole the satisfaction.  “Don’t fucking waste your time.  I don’t need anybody’s pity.”  He sneers, lets it seep into his voice.  “Especially not yours, sadsack.”

“Dick,” Sero mutters, and Bakugou waits, tense, before he looks over his shoulder and finds the doorway blessedly empty.  His fingers twitch in the soapy water; he can hear laughter trickling in from the dining area beyond.  The kitchens are lit bright white, no shadows anywhere.

The boom from the cliffs still rattles in his bones.

There’s nobody there.  There’s nothing wrong.

Nothing.

 


 

Bakugou snaps awake to the acrid stench of scorched straw and the sound of someone screaming. 

He thrashes; someone’s holding him down, someone big- fuck, like the magnet guy maybe?  Fuck- his wrists are restrained, palms facing downward so if he uses his quirk he’ll just blow his own damn hands up.  Goddamn motherfucking- They’re trying to keep him from attacking.  Fuck them.  He’ll fucking blow up his hands to get out of here, he’ll tear his own goddamn limbs off-

Someone’s knee presses into his back and Bakugou remembers our equal and Kirishima’s face cracking in half and he chokes on his shout- the screaming's coming from him.

He wrenches as hard as he can; gets an elbow into something or someone, why is it so dark, where is he, but someone else replaces whoever he threw off and now he’s got what feels like the entire Villain Alliance on his back, pinning him down, suffocating him and someone says something about a quirk and freezing and he can’t- he has to get away, has to-

“Don’t, don’t don’t!  Don’t pin him down!”

Kirishima.  Kirishima’s in here, he’s yelling, he’s gotta get to him before Shigaraki, he has to, he’s a hero-

He bucks harder when the noise starts filtering in, when he can hear, “-going fucking nuts, what else are we supposed to do?!”

“Get the fuck off me!” Bakugou snarls, wrenching his arms until his shoulders ache.  Panic claws at his stomach.  Kirishima’s somewhere in here, he needs to see, he needs to- He needs to-

Bakugou calm down, you’re okay!”  Someone pins down his legs again and Bakugou doesn’t quite manage to bite back another scream as he kicks as hard as he can.  His foot connects with someone and then all of a sudden all the weight on him is gone.

Bakugou rocks up onto his knees; his guts shudder like there’s an earthquake inside him and his limbs all tremble like he’s freezing to death.  A hand comes up to his face to hold his cheek.  Bakugou flinches away but the hand comes back and there’s light, suddenly, too bright and he sees red-

Kirishima. 

It’s Kirishima.  He’s right there.  He’s all right.

Bakugou can’t look at him, still staring down at his half-curled fingers where they shake between his knees.  Everything’s shaking.  All of him is shaking, shaking, shaking.

“Go get a teacher,” Kirishima says.  Bakugou wants to tell whoever it is not to do a goddamn thing, but his teeth are chattering too hard for him to speak.  Kirishima’s other hand comes up to his shoulder.  “Bakugou.  You here?”

Spatial awareness comes back slowly.  Bakugou remembers things in pieces.  Training camp.  Summer of their second year.  They trained all day in the mountains.  Hiked through the woods after dark.  Hagakure and Ashido almost fell.  Boom through the trees.  Dinner, baths, bed.

No attacks.  No shadows pulling him into a void.  No black goop pouring out of (into) his throat until he chokes.  No walls exploding.  Nobody chasing him down.  Fine, he’s fine.  He’s not hurt.  Nobody’s taking him anywhere he doesn’t wanna go.  It’s fine.  He’s fine.  There’s nothing wrong.

But his body hasn’t caught up.  His lungs are clawing up the insides of his ribs, burning like they’d been rubbed down with sandpaper.  He keeps wheezing.  He can’t breathe.

Bakugou doesn’t realize he’s bent over with his head on his knees until a different hand is on his back.  “Give him space,” says Aizawa overhead and fine.  He’s fine.  “Back up, give him space.”

Breathing is hard, the hardest thing he’s ever done-

“Pull it in and count.”

Bakugou shakes his head.  His vision goes dark at the edges.  He’s fine.

Bakugou.  Hold it and count.  Breathe in.”

Bakugou pulls in way too little air.  Aizawa counts to five and he lets it out in the saddest-sounding whoosh, but the next one he pulls in is larger and easier to hold.  Aizawa keeps his hand on his back, pressing down like he won’t let Bakugou up yet.  Bakugou doesn’t want to get up.  He just wants to breathe like normal and then hide in his blankets forever.  Fuck, everyone saw, he had a bad nightmare and everyone heard it-

“Exhale on five, Bakugou.  Start over.”

Aizawa keeps counting, keeps on him about it until he’s finally pulling in air steadily, on the count.  His pulse stops beating too-loud in his ears like the roar of a tsunami but Bakugou still doesn’t pick up his head.  He knows the other boys are still in the room.  He knows Kirishima is still in the room.

They all saw.

“I blew up the floor,” Bakugou mutters hoarsely.  The room still smells like smoke.  There could be a fire, for all he knows.

“Forget about it.  Let’s go, on your feet.”

Standing feels impossible, but Bakugou pushes himself to do it.  His legs feel too unsteady so he locks his knees, and now he can see the light is one of the LED lanterns from the tables outside.  Everyone is awake.  Everyone’s watching him.

Bakugou clenches his fists and stares at the ground.

Aizawa jerks his head toward the door.  “Let’s go.”

Bakugou doesn’t ask where.  Kirishima falls into step behind him but Bakugou pushes him back with a hand to his chest.  He can’t handle his presence right now, not when he wants it the most.  If he gives himself that, then he’s too far gone.  He has to hold it together.  “Go back to sleep.”

Kirishima touches his wrist.  “Dude, there’s no way I’m going back to sleep after that.”

“Then just stay here, I don’t give a fuck.”

Kirishima ducks his head until Bakugou looks up at him, meets his eyes.  He stares searchingly before he gently bites his lip and nods, squeezing Bakugou’s wrist and backing off.  “I’ll be here when you get back,” he says instead.

Aizawa leads him down the hall; Bakugou sees the girls’ room door snap shut before they reach it.  Great.  The entire fucking Heroics department knows what just happened.  He’s going to have to face them in the morning, too.  And the stupid ones are going to come up to him and ask questions, because they don’t know any better, because they don’t know to just shut up.

Aizawa takes him into some kind of lounge or something and points to the couch.  Bakugou drops onto it, squinting in the harsh lighting but kind of grateful for it all the same.  His hands aren’t shaking anymore, at least, but every inch of him feels rung out and tired while his brain feels so keyed up, like he’d just taken uppers or something.  Aizawa goes somewhere, footsteps soft.  Bakugou buries his head in his hands and makes fists in his hair.

Aizawa doesn’t come back for a while, but when he does he holds out a cup of tea and waits for Bakugou to look up and take it.  “Did you drug this?” Bakugou asks, but sips it anyway.

“Not this time.”

Bakugou rolls his eyes and sips again.

Aizawa sits on the armrest of the couch and Bakugou has to hide how much that sets him at ease.  “Don’t make me wait all night, Bakugou.”

Scarred stitched hands covering his mouth, someone huge over him, holding him down, holding his hands down as they force the restraints up to his wrists-

“-a dream,” Bakugou chokes out, gripping the cup so it burns his palms, gives the illusion of him activating his quirk.  “Just a fucking dream.”

“Midoriya said you were screaming.”

Bakugou curses.  Of course it was fucking Deku who went to get the teacher.  Like he hasn’t had his fill of rescuing him or something.  Fucking savior complex prick.

Aizawa sighs and gets up, slumps into a chair opposite and folds his arms.  “Don’t throw a fit over it.  I could hear you from down the hall, I was already on my way over.”

“It was just a dream,” Bakugou insists.

“You keep it stopped up inside you, it’ll just be worse next time.”  Bakugou watches the tea lap gently against the ceramic.  Aizawa shifts in the chair across from him and sighs again.  “Do you need to go home?”

Fuck no,” Bakugou snaps.  Jesus Christ, seventeen and getting picked up from a summer camp because he’s having scary dreams?  He can already taste the humiliation.  He wouldn’t survive it.

“Then you better get back to sleep.  We’ve got another hard day tomorrow.”  Aizawa drags over a footstool and props his feet up, burrowing into the chair and closing his eyes.

Bakugou squints over at him.  “Are you sleeping here?

“Obviously.”  Aizawa sniffs.  “Too tired to go back.  You can do whatever you want.”

Bakugou stares at his tea, downs it and sets the cup on the floor before stretching out on the sofa, rolling over to give Aizawa his back and pretend to sleep until morning.

Chapter Text

“I’m braver than all the other kids,” Bakugou announces proudly, clutching his mother’s sleeve as she hefts him up higher onto her hip.

“Yeah?  What makes you think that?”

“I went down the big slide.”

“Ohhh, the one near the jungle gym?  Yeah, that one’s a doozy.”  She plucks a can from the shelf and reads the label before dropping it into the shopping cart.  “Is that why your knee was bleeding when you came home?  Didn’t stick the landing, huh?”

“I still did it!”

“Yeah, yeah.”  She grins and squeezes him a little.  He’s only allowing her to carry him around like a little kid because his knee hurts.  “So how come you went down that slide anyway?  I thought you liked the swings best.”

“It’s cuz nobody else would.”  And now, now all the other kids admire him and listen to what he says.  It’s pretty awesome.  He’s gonna start dominating all the different structures at the park so more and more kids are impressed with him.  He likes being impressive.  “I’m gonna climb the jungle gym too.”

“Over my dead body, brat.  You know you’re not allowed on that until you’re older.”

“Mom!  Come on.”

“No.”

 


 

Over the course of the next five hours, Bakugou discovers that Aizawa is a very restless sleeper.

 


 

“It’s really amazing.  I’ve never seen a boy this young so skilled with his quirk!  Most children his age are still having accidents, but Katsuki can even control the different elements of his quirk, like the amount of light or smoke his explosions create.  It’s really very impressive.”

Bakugou snaps his fingers, making little firecracker pops as his mother talks to the quirk counselor at the table.  He’s bored and wants to go home already.

“Yeah, I know he’s good with it.  Is there anything else we need to focus on?  Like, he doesn’t use it in the house but I don’t know what he does when he’s outside playing.  Does it seem to you like he gets he’s not allowed to just wave his quirk around all day to show off?”

“What?  Oh, yes.  He seems very sharp.  I’m sure he understands.”

Snap-pop.  Snap-pop.  Snap-pop. 

“Hold up, you didn’t talk to him about it?  Why the fuck not?”

Bakugou tilts his head; a beetle crawls slowly across the floor, half-lame from a mangled leg.  He picks it up and cups it in his hands.

“Katsuki is actually the one who brought up the topic!  He said he understood he couldn’t use his quirk however he wanted until he got a hero license.  Which is very admirable, very conscious of the rules of society.  Most children don’t understand-”

“Most children, most children, you’re starting to piss me off with that.  Katsuki needs special attention, you hear?  You can’t base him off your ‘most children’ models.”

“Oh, I’m very aware.  He’s excelled in all of the categories I tested him in-”

“Yeah, you’ve said that.”

The beetle fumbles around uselessly over Bakugou’s fingers.  He names it Deku in his head and closes his cupped hands; his fingers tingle, light, and with a startlingly loud poomf he detonates.

“Katsuki!  What the fuck was that?!”

“Sorry,” he calls, though he’s not sorry.  He shakes his stinging hands out and watches the smoking beetle carcass break on the ground.  When he steps on it, it crumbles into ash.  “I didn’t mean to.”

His mom takes him home after she’s done talking to the counselor and tells him that he doesn’t have to go back.

 


 

The cicadas are loud as fuck outside.  They buzz so insistently Bakugou’s surprised he managed to get to sleep in the first place.  They drone on, and on, like the hum of powerlines before a storm.

Bakugou tucks his arm under his head and closes his eyes.

 


 

His parents are arguing about him.  Well- his mother is doing a lot of yelling and arguing while his dad just quietly disagrees.  They don’t think he can hear them but he cracked open his bedroom door so he could eavesdrop.  He’ll have to make sure to shut it quick if he hears footsteps.  He’s supposed to be grounded.

“-ave seen him doing it, hon.  It’s not like we can just go call them all liars-”

“The fuck we can’t!  Katsuki’s just a rowdy boy, he plays rough with his friends.  If his friends didn’t like it they wouldn’t keep coming over here to invite him out to play!”

“But their parents don’t like it.  And he keeps getting into fights with older kids.  We- we really should do something…”

“Oh, like what?  Tell Katsuki that he can’t play how he wants or can’t defend himself?  You know, he’s already started reading pamphlets for UA.  He’s going to go there, we should be encouraging him to get stronger, not tell him to pipe the fuck down!”

“I know, I know, honey, I know…”

Bakugou sneers and shuts his door.  His dad always gives in to his mom.

But apparently people have been tattling on him.  He’ll have to bring everybody out to the woods and find out if any of them have been complaining to their parents about the Bakugou Hero Agency game.  It’s not his fault he’s stronger and better than they are.  If they don’t like it, they can just leave.

 


 

He’s so tired.

He’s so tired, but there’s no way he’s going to sleep.  He’s going to have to deal with it, and hope that the daily training will wear him out so much that he just passes out.

 


 

The cops tell Bakugou he has to have a psych eval before they can release him.

“You’ve been through a traumatic experience,” the shrink tells him in that quiet voice, like she’s talking to a little kid or some sort of wild animal.  Bakugou just stares down at the table.

All Might.

The shrink clicks her pencil.  “How are you feeling now?”

“Fucking tired,” Bakugou mutters.  Too many thoughts in his head.  Too many ends not quite connecting to make a circuit.  Too many sounds and smells and voices that make his fingers clench into fists.  He wants to curl up under his blankets and sleep for a year.  He wants to blow up an entire fucking city.

Too much.  There’s too much here to deal with.

Two words and already the shrink’s got half a page of notes on him.  “Just tired?”

Fucking tired,” Bakugou corrects her, because the emphasis is important.

“I see.”

She asks him a dozen questions that must be standard.  Some of them are hard to respond to because he doesn’t know the answers yet.  Most of them are just to make sure he wasn’t brainwashed somehow.  Bakugou deals with it with much more patience than usual, docility brought on by exhaustion making him more compliant than ever.  Maybe if the villains had just kept him awake for a few days instead of leaving him to his own devices, he’d have been more agreeable.

“I’m writing you a temporary prescription for sleeping pills,” the shrink tells him, and tears off a piece of paper to hand over.  “It’s only for two weeks.  If you need more, you’ll have to see your doctor.  I’d recommend you do that anyway, but it’s up to you.”

Bakugou reads the prescription without quite seeing it.

“Your parents are waiting for you in the lobby.”

The look on his mother’s face is one he’s never seen before.  She touches his face, his hair, slaps the back of his head but yanks him against her way too tight.  His dad cries and wraps his arms around them both and Bakugou rests his chin on his mother’s shoulder.

“Don’t you ever,” his mom snaps, voice trembling, whole body trembling, “don’t you ever let this happen again, don’t you-”

“Hon,” whispers his dad.

Bakugou closes his eyes.

 


 

Morning comes so quietly Bakugou doesn’t recognize its arrival until Aizawa unfolds himself from his chair.  He groans, twists and his back pops like bubble wrap.  Bakugou listens to the sounds of Aizawa shuffling around before giving up on pretending and sitting up to look at him.  He’d stayed the entire night.

Bakugou glares at the coffee table between them.

“Get moving,” Aizawa says, passing the couch for the door.  “Breakfast is in thirty minutes.”

The door clicks shut behind him and Bakugou stares at the empty tea cup on the table before he does as he’s told and moves.

Bakugou stands outside of the boys’ dorm for far too long, listening for sounds of activity.  Everyone must be asleep still; they usually don’t wake up until ten minutes before breakfast because they have it so early anyway.  But if he heads in for his change of clothes and someone wakes up…

“Bakugou?”

Bakugou almost puts his fist through the door and spins around to see pajamas behind him.

The pajamas shift uneasily.  “Um-  If-if what happened happened because of me-”

“Shut up,” Bakugou says as threateningly as possible.  He leans forward, fist leaking smoke.  “Drop it.  Don’t fucking talk to me.”

Hagakure seems affronted.  “Hey!  I’m trying to apologize!”

“I don’t care.  Fuck off.”

If he stays out here in the hall he’s going to look like he’s too afraid to go in the room, so Bakugou steels himself and slides open the door as silently as possible.  Just about everyone is still asleep.  Todoroki is up, the bastard, but he barely spares Bakugou a glance before he goes back to tooling around on his phone or whatever the fuck he’s doing.  He debates kicking Deku in the face for being a fucking tattletale but decides that the commotion it would cause isn’t worth the satisfaction.

 


 

Bakugou is the first to breakfast so he grabs his tray and finds a table in the corner.  Shoving his feet up onto the chair across from him and kicking all the others as far away as possible should probably send the message to leave him the fuck alone.

Students trickle in and he can feel their eyes on him.  Nobody outright stares, but everybody looks.  Kirishima starts for him but Bakugou projects don’t hover at him as hard as he possibly can.  Kirishima doesn’t look happy about it but he goes back to his conversation with Sero. 

Bakugou really shouldn’t have done that twice in a row; Kirishima is probably pissed off.  Or worse, he could be hurt.  It’s just too much trouble to reassure him, or even to just be around him; he’ll want to hang all over Bakugou, or he’ll want to hear about the dream or he’ll just sit there, silently demanding Bakugou to be okay and it’s hard to be okay when other people are telling you to be okay.

“Are you okay?”  There aren’t many people in their class who both know how much he’d hate that question and also be completely unabashed about asking it anyway, so Bakugou isn’t surprised to see Uraraka standing at his shoulder with her own tray.

“Why wouldn’t I be okay?” he grunts, picking apart his fish.

“Because you freaked out and scared everyone half to death last night?”

“I didn’t freak out.  It was just a nightmare, Jesus Christ.”

Uraraka says, “Hmmm,” and plunks her tray down beside his, pulling over a chair.

Bakugou stares evenly at her.  “What the fuck are you doing.”

She reaches across his tray for the soy sauce.  “Eating breakfast.”

He waves a hand at the pushed-away chairs and benches.  “What about this setup says I want company?  Fuck off.”  She doesn’t fuck off.  “Are you deaf?  Go.  Away.

She doesn’t go.

Anger much sharper than usual stabs through his gut and spreads out white-hot.  Bakugou vaults to his feet and hurls her tray off the table; Uraraka rears back with a shriek as dishes shatter on the ground and silverware goes skittering across the tile.

“Go the fuck away!” Bakugou roars, pulse thundering in his ears.  Out of the corner of his eye he spots Deku and Iida both standing up, Kirishima half-risen and half a dozen other students tense and ready to intervene.

Uraraka’s chair scrapes back as she stands and he notices, suddenly, that there are tears in her eyes.  “You,” she starts, stops.  Clenches her jaw, lifts her chin and hisses, “You’re such a mean, awful boy.”  She drives her forearm against his chest to shove him away, spins and runs out of the dining room.

Bakugou’s pulse pounds like a war drum in his ears.

 


 

Nobody approaches him for sparring.  Eventually Cementoss tells Tetsutetsu to pair up with him; Bakugou suspects it’s to make sure he doesn’t hurt anybody.

Bakugou cracks his knuckles and glares at Tetsutetsu, who glowers right back and armors up.

The spar is heated and brutal and it’s just what he needed, honestly.  His explosions shake the leaves on the trees, startle wildlife into scattering and by the jumps of a few of the other students around, unsettle the hell out of his classmates too.  Good.  He ignores the pulsing throbs of pain in his palms as he slams Tetsutetsu over and over again, whittling away his steel armor in chips.

“Bakugou, geez, chill out,” Kaminari complains from the sidelines.  Bakugou ignores him.  Most of the other students have finished their matches by now and have been wandering around to watch.  Let them.  They wanna pity him?  Stare at him like they’re scared for him?  Fuck them, fuck all of them.  He’s the strongest in the year barring Todoroki, whose ass he could probably kick six times out of ten anyway.

He’s pissed but he’s in control.  A teacher would step in if they wanted him to cool it.  It’s fine.

Only problem is that Tetsutetsu is a lot better than he looks like he should be and it’s infuriating.  He keeps bracing himself against explosions that Bakugou expects to blow him back.  The steel makes him heavier maybe, helps him plant his feet a little better.  He doesn’t fight like Kirishima and Bakugou has to begrudgingly admit that maybe he and Kirishima shouldn’t spar so much if it’s going to affect his judgment like this. 

Tetsutetsu drops his head into another blast and smacks Bakugou’s arm aside.  Bakugou has to scrape up an explosion across the ground just to distract him enough to try and put a little distance between them.

“Uh oh, looks like Blasty’s beating a hasty retreat,” Sero taunts behind him, and that feels a little better.  It’s so stupid how he’s gotten used to his classmates dragging him.  If that ever happened in middle school he’d have kicked the crap out of every last one of them, but now it just feels weird not to have Asui baiting his temper or Kaminari talking shit about his personality.

Still, there’s jeering and there’s…whatever happened with Uraraka.  Was that even supposed to be an insult?  Mean, awful boy.  Who the fuck calls someone that and expects it to hurt?  It fucking doesn’t.  Bakugou’s mean on purpose.  Or it’s not his fault he’s mean, one of the two.

The ground is pockmarked and scarred from all of the explosions, deep furrows from where Bakugou had dragged up soil and dust to help obscure him from sight.  The smoke is usually enough but dirt helps, and he’s getting better at being more aware of his surroundings in the use of his defense and offense ever since-

…ever since it was made clear to him that he could be better. 

Still, it’s freakish how Tetsutetsu is actually keeping up.  Bakugou doesn’t remember this guy being anywhere near good enough to give him a challenge before but he’s faster, more disciplined, using actual techniques instead of just throwing his fists around. 

“Guess you and Kendou’ve been doing more with your spare time than just dry humping, huh?” Bakugou sneers.

Tetsutetsu jerks back in shock and Bakugou hammers a blast into his side that sends him tumbling.  He pops up with a gasp and says, “H-how’d you know we were goin’ out?!”

“You just told me, you fucking idiot.”

Tetsutetsu snarls and charges back in.

While Tetsutetsu’s good enough to pose a challenge, there’s something mindless about fighting him.  Maybe because Tetsutetsu’s losing his cool and he’s the type to get sloppy when he’s pissed.  Maybe it’s the sound and feel of explosions vibrating up Bakugou’s arms to his shoulders, his ribcage.  His palms burn, more than usual.  He’s probably going to have blisters later.

Good.

Tetsutetsu does this twist where he grabs Bakugou’s wrist and shoves his hand away, drives an elbow into his back to try and take him to the ground.  Bakugou ducks his head to turn it into a roll but Tetsutetsu grabs the back of his neck-

stay back deku

His hand doesn’t even clear his torso before it detonates.

Bakugou feels his side sear in agony as Tetsutetsu screams and lets go.  He scrambles away, clawing at the grass and flipping onto his back.  Panic slams his heart against his ribs as he waits for darkness, waits for shadows to eat him, but they never come.

get him down restrain him for fuck’s sake

Someone screams “Tetsu!” and Bakugou shakes his head hard, reaching up to grip at his hair.  He can hear Tetsutetsu howling, feels the stampede of feet as the other students crowd around them, as the teachers rush over to Tetsutetsu.  Too many.  There’s too many fucking people here. 

“Fucking fuck I can’t see, I- I can’t-”

“It’s all right.  Move your hands.  Move your hands, let me see.”

“I can’t-”

It was just Tetsutetsu.  It wasn’t-  It was just-

“Are you crazy?”  Bakugou wrenches his head up to see- someone, one of the old class 1-B kids, the one with the teeth.  He’s glaring.  A few more turn and look too.  “What’s wrong with you?!”

His heart won’t stop pounding.  There’s nothing wrong, there’s- why can’t he-  “I didn’t mean-”

“Oh my god, Bakugou, you’re bleeding!”

Bakugou flinches when Ashido drops to her knees beside him, wrenching the tatters of his shirt up and gaping at where he’d charred his own side in his frenzy to escape.  “Stop,” he chokes out, shoving at her hands.  “Don’t touch me, get- get the fuck off-”

“No man, that looks bad.”  Sero is already there too and reaching for him and the world around Bakugou gets smaller, narrows down to the points where people are about to touch him.  Bakugou’s throat starts to close up, smaller and smaller.  “Jesus Christ, did you do that to yourself on purpose?

“Tetsu, you’re gonna be okay, you’ll be okay…”

The students not crowded around Tetsutetsu are now staring at him and Bakugou suddenly doesn’t want to be on the ground anymore.  “No,” he insists, pushing himself up even as his side feels like it’s being split apart.  He holds onto it.  It makes it hurt worse but it steadies him, gives him focus.  They keep staring.  He can’t fucking deal with this shit- “Stop it,” he snarls.  “Stop looking at me like that.”

Yaoyorozu and Todoroki exchange glances before they start closer.  Bakugou backs up a step.  Too much noise.  Too many people.

“Let’s get him inside.  See if we can reach Recovery Girl, we might need her.”

Bakugou’s eyes snap over to where Cementoss is helping Tetsutetsu to his feet, Kendou with her arm around his back as they help him toward the lodge.  Kirishima’s over there.  They’re friends.  Kirishima’s really close with Tetsutetsu, and Bakugou just-

“Bakugou, you need to get that treated before you get an infection,” Yaoyorozu says patiently, too-calm like she’s talking to a wild animal.  Maybe that’s what he looks like; it’s sure as hell what he feels like.  Ashido and Sero glance at each other but don’t move any closer, students hovering in a semicircle around him.  His heart won’t fucking relax but that’s because they’re closing in, they need to leave.  He needs to leave.

He spots Kirishima peeling off from the group that had been crowded around Tetsutetsu and heading over toward him.  He has that face, that fucking face from earlier; tired, tight, worried, reaching for him-

“Don’t touch me!”

Bakugou’s said it a thousand times but never to Kirishima, not like that.  Kirishima stops, hand outstretched, hurt flashing in his eyes.  Damn it.  God damn it.  “Dude, we’re not gonna do anything to you.  It’s okay.”

“I know,” he says.  Of course he knows.

Yaoyorozu pulls something out of her arm, some kind of ointment tub.  “At least put this on your burn.  Okay?”  She holds it out.  When he doesn’t take it, she puts it down on the ground, pulling Todoroki away.  “Come on.  Give him space, he doesn’t want our help.”

They all filter away, drifting toward the lodge until only Kirishima is left, watching him with that fucking face that Bakugou can’t stand to see.  He fixes his eyes on the ground, on the little white tub of medicine Yaoyorozu left until, finally, he hears Kirishima leave too.

 


 

Slathering on that ointment and wrapping himself up had been a pain in the ass without help, but Bakugou would rather inconvenience himself than deal with one more person putting their hands on him.  Aizawa found him before he could find somewhere to hide out and ordered Bakugou to wait for him in the lounge.  He’d used that don’t fuck around with me voice that commands obedience, so Bakugou goes.  There’s nobody else in the lounge, at least.  It’s quiet and it’s well-lit and Bakugou can stretch out on the couch and concentrate on the throb of his red-raw palms and the matching pulse of pain along his side.

Aizawa shuffles in and Bakugou doesn’t get up.

“Tetsutetsu’s fine.”

Like a chain going slack, Bakugou’s spine relaxes.

“He almost lost his sight thanks to you.”

And then locks back up.

Aizawa drops into the other chair with a heavy sigh.  He always looks tired, in a perpetual state of exhaustion brought on by dealing with all of them, most likely, but now he looks even worse.  Like the entire world just dropped onto his shoulders without even asking if he was ready first.  “Bakugou, I’m sending you home.”

Bakugou shoves himself up before thinking and pays for it with stabs of pain all up and down his side.  “You can’t,” he wheezes.  “You can’t send me home.  I’m fine, I won’t lose it again, I just need to-”

“No.  You’re going.  I’m not letting you put yourself or your peers in any more danger.”

“It was just one fight-”

“One fight that almost maimed a student for life,” Aizawa snaps.  “You’re not the only one under our care.  I gave you today because I didn’t want you to feel left out, but if this is what’s going to happen then there’s no other choice.”

Bakugou throws himself back down on the couch.  “This is such bullshit!

“What’s bullshit is you constantly pushing yourself.  What are you trying to prove?”  Bakugou can feel Aizawa’s stare boring holes into his skull like his quirk is a physical thing.  “Forget it, I don’t need an answer.  You’re going home.  Honestly you should go to the hospital, but I’ll leave that up to your parents.  Your mother’s on her way now.”

Bakugou’s knuckles creak when he curls his hands into fists.  He bites down hard, teeth aching as he fights against the sting in his eyes.  “Such fucking bullshit.

“Who do you think you are?”  When Bakugou looks over at Aizawa’s tone, more curious than upset, Aizawa narrows his eyes and leans forward.  “What do you think you are?  You think you’re exempt from the backlash of a traumatic event?  Do you think you’re that special?”

Bakugou props himself up on an elbow again to level a glare at Aizawa.  “It wasn’t that bad.  I didn’t even get hurt.”

“There’s no checklist for trauma.  You don’t have to hit all the predestined stops for it to be real.”  Aizawa pinches the bridge of his nose before fumbling through his pockets for his bottle of eyedrops.  “Nightmares, panic attacks, triggers- most heroes have at least one of those.  Most heroes learn to cope with it, because we can’t do our jobs without dealing with the ugly side of the business.  Even All Might had his own problems.  But, well, I guess you’ve probably figured that out by now.”

Throb, throb, throb.  Bakugou lays down and presses a hand to his side again.  “That doesn’t mean I’m the same.”

“Yeah it does.”  Aizawa tucks the eyedropper bottle away again and leans forward.  “I’ll tell you something you probably haven’t heard often enough: you aren’t special.”

Bakugou bites the inside of his cheek until it stings.

“You aren’t.  You’re a human being, with a brain and a heart, just like the rest of us.  You can get hurt just as easily as the rest of us.  To think you’re somehow made of stronger stuff than flesh and bone isn’t just dangerously arrogant, it’s suicidal.  If you’re going to be a professional then you need to know your limits, and respect them.”

“All Might never had to pay attention to limits.”

“And look at him now.”

Bakugou wrenches onto his side, ignoring the pain to snarl, “Don’t you dare say that.”

“It’s the truth.”  Aizawa laces his fingers together, gaze even.  “If you really do respect him as much as you say you do, then you should take one final lesson from his actions: if you keep pushing yourself and ignoring your needs in favor of reaching your goals, you’re going to crash and burn before you can even get up off the ground.  All Might at least had the sense to pace himself.  You can’t even do that.”

“So what should I do?”  Bakugou clenches his fist.  “If you fuckin’ know everything I’m doing wrong, then why don’t you just tell me already what the fuck you expect me to do?!”

“I expect you to figure it out for yourself,” Aizawa says, and stands up at a knock on the door.  “You’ve been given plenty of clues.  Now you’re just being stubborn.”

“The fuck is that supposed to mean,” Bakugou grumbles, throwing himself back down on the couch as Aizawa passes by and opens the door.

“Looks like this visitor’s for you.”

“Go the fuck away,” Bakugou snarls without looking.

“C’mon, you don’t mean that.”

Bakugou closes his eyes.  “It goes double for you, hair-for-brains.”

“Wow, grouchy.”  Kirishima circles around the couch and sits on the armrest.  “Hey, sensei, I’m gonna leave too.  I already called my parents.”

What.  “Why the fuck did you do that?” Bakugou shouts, shoving himself up to glare up at him.  “I don’t need a fucking babysitter!  Stop doing shit that I don’t ask you to do!”

Kirishima, that goddamn nuisance, just sticks his hands into his pockets and shrugs.  “I really only got to come along because of you.  If you hadn’t tutored me, I would’ve had to go to summer classes.”

Bakugou waves a hand in exasperation.  “Cementoss was lying!  They all tell the same fucking lie every fucking year!”

“It’s an academic retelling of the truth and it’s UA tradition,” Aizawa sniffs.

“Well, anyway, I only came along to hang out with you, so.”

Bakugou bares his teeth.  “Don’t feed me that shit.  You came here to train like the rest of us.”

Aizawa heaves a sigh of irritation, skirting around Kirishima and closing the door behind himself.  Bakugou barely notices, seething from his spot on the couch, Kirishima picking at a loose string on his shorts and not looking at him.  “What.

“You freaked me out, man,” Kirishima finally admits.

“Yeah no shit, apparently I freaked out everybody.”  Bakugou throws himself back down and regrets it when he lands on his bad side.  He must’ve managed to keep his pained gasping quiet enough, since Kirishima isn’t immediately rushing over to nurse him back to health or whatever.

“You didn’t see your face.”  Kirishima circles around and takes the chair Aizawa vacated.  “It’s like you weren’t even there.  Dude, it wasn’t- it wasn’t good.”  Bakugou sneaks a glance to see Kirishima rubbing his arms and staring down at his stupid neon crocs.

Bakugou rolls over to give Kirishima his back.  “Stop worrying about me.”

“Kinda hard to do.”

“Do it anyway.”

“I can’t.”  Kirishima laughs, but it’s not his regular laugh.  It’s that strained-and-unhappy laugh he uses when he’s trying to make himself feel better.  “I really like you, y’know?  You’re what I think about most on any given day anyway, so…”

Bakugou clenches his fists tight and presses them against his chest, curling in on himself.  “You shouldn’t leave.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re gonna be a hero.  This shit should be important to you.”

“It is!  Dude, being a hero is my dream, but like.  I mean, it’s not like I can’t have more than one thing that’s important to me.  Right now, in this situation?  You’re more important.”

God damn it.  Bakugou’s eyes sting when he blinks and his chest loosens, like he’d been suffocating without even knowing it.  “That’s so stupid,” he mumbles.  He hears Kirishima move behind him, come closer and feels his hand rest on his back, rubbing.  “That’s so fucking stupid.  You’re gonna fall behind if you keep skipping out on shit just to be with me.”

“I’ll make it up somewhere else.  And you’ll still tutor me, right?”

“That won’t be enough.”

“Dude,” Kirishima laughs, more like his normal one and Bakugou didn’t realize how much he’s wanted to hear it until he does, until relief floods his gut and pours into his brain like a morphine drip.  “Not everybody is desperate to be number one.”

“I’m not desperate,” Bakugou protests, but he rolls over with a wince and reaches out to wind his fingers around Kirishima’s wrist.

“You totally are.  But I like it!”  Kirishima rubs his knuckles against Bakugou’s cheek.  “When you get all fired up and put your everything into being on top, man, that’s awesome.  It’s so manly and cool.  I like seeing you dominate the competition.”  And Kirishima flashes him that cheeky, shark-toothed grin with all his pointed teeth and it’s all Bakugou can do to look him in the eye.  “Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna be a hero.  I’m gonna be the best hero I can be, but you’re kind of part of that deal for me now.  I wouldn’t be able to call myself an awesome hero if I just let you deal with this alone.”

“You can’t,” Bakugou starts, stops, pushes himself up onto an elbow despite the sting in his side, “you can’t do that.  You can’t do that.”

“Can’t do what?”

“Rearrange- yourself!”  Bakugou gestures, even as Kirishima laces their fingers together.  “Fuckin’ reorganize what you want and what you wanna be because of someone else!  That’s stupid.

“Dude, I-” Kirishima cocks his head in confusion.  “That’s a relationship.”

Bakugou falters.

Kirishima shrinks away a little; the nervous tent of his brows almost hurts more than Bakugou’s side.  “You know?  I mean, I know we haven’t even been together a year, but like…I dunno, man.  I haven’t thought of long-term stuff with you but I never ever wanna break up.  Unless that’s what you’re saying, with the whole ‘fighting alone’ thing and-”

“No,” Bakugou says hurriedly.  It’s the one fucking thing he’s sure of today.  “Fuck, no, I don’t wanna break up.”

“So what’s so hard to understand about it?  People gotta rearrange themselves all the time to fit a whole other person in their life.”  Kirishima squeezes their fingers idly.  “You’ve already been doing it for me.  You tutor me when you could be studying yourself.  And you let me call you dumb names even if they embarrass you.  And even if I hate it, you get all protective of me, and you never did that before with anybody.

“You’re different,” Bakugou protests.

“Yeah, exactly.”  Kirishima headbutts his shoulder gently.  “You’re my different person.”

Oh.

Kirishima squints at him.  “You didn’t even...?”  He sighs.  “Man, for being smart you are so stupid sometimes.”

Bakugou scowls and he hooks his hand at the back of Kirishima’s neck, pulling him down into a kiss.  “You’re stupid,” he manages, and kisses him again.

Kirishima laughs into it, almost catches Bakugou’s lip with his teeth and kisses him back.  “I love you too,” he sing-songs.

Bakugou shuts him up with his mouth.  When Kirishima nudges him he lays down properly, Kirishima moving with him to half-crawl atop him, bracing his weight on his knee and hands to keep from hurting Bakugou’s side.  Bakugou lifts his hands to cup Kirishima’s face, the curve of his thumb fitting perfectly along the edge of his jaw under his ear, like matching puzzle pieces. 

Kirishima pulls back to catch his breath, but Bakugou stops him from diving back in with a hand to his chest.  He takes a good, long look at Kirishima’s face; the scar above his eye, his long, long lashes, the way his lips are rough from years of too-sharp teeth dragging over them.  Bakugou presses a thumb over the swell of his cheek and Kirishima closes his eyes, leans into it.

He opens them and he looks different.  Older, more tired.  Bakugou realizes with a sinking feeling that Kirishima’s looked like this for a while, and it must be- it has to be all his fault.

“We still need to get our stuff together.”

Bakugou drops his hand to his side.

“…want me to pack up your stuff?  I don’t mind.”

The idea of leaving the lounge before he’s ready is a daunting one so just this one time, he allows himself this weakness, and he nods.

 


 

Even if he didn’t have to deal with packing up his shit, he still has to deal with leaving the lodge just as all the students are outside doing cooldown kata, courtesy Cementoss.  Yesterday everyone was chatting or semi-goofing off, messing around with each other or simply not paying attention.  Now they’re all perfect students, faced forward and concentrating on their forms.

Bakugou knows it’s because of him.

They’re all looking down on him.  Acting like there’s no way he could figure out that they’re pretending like he’s not here, because they’re uncomfortable or they think he’s unhinged or crazy, or even worse: they’re trying to spare his feelings.  He’d rather have them all angry at him than that, anything but that.

Kirishima volunteers to take their bags down the path to the main road and though it makes Bakugou feel like he’s being waited on, he lets him.  He stares at the backs of his classmates, of the people he’s known for over a year now.  His roommates.  His competition.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” Bakugou snaps. 

Deku starts and looks over his shoulder, pretending like he’d just noticed Bakugou there and hadn’t been sneaking glances.  Bakugou knows he was staring.  Probably thinking all sorts of pointless shit about how Bakugou must be so damaged from what happened.  Fucking condescending, self-important little- “Well?” 

Deku doesn’t shrink back, just watches him with those fucking sad eyes and that just makes him angrier.  Now he’s not even intimidating when he’s trying to be.  “I asked you what the fuck you were looking at, Deku!”

“I’m not looking at anything, Kacchan,” Deku says.  He hesitates and Bakugou sees red, because he knows what’s going to come out of his mouth before he even, “I…hope you feel better-”

“I don’t need your pity,” Bakugou snarls.  He knows the other students are listening, are giving up on their exercises to watch and whisper but his hands are shaking, his everything is shaking with an anger that smacks of shame.  Here he is again, lagging behind while Deku jumps forward.  “You think- what, d’you think you’re stronger than me now?  Huh?  You think you can afford to pity me?  Because I’m so broken that I’m not even a challenge anymore?”

Kaminari shifts awkwardly.  “Dude, stop…”

“Nobody’s saying that,” Yaoyorozu says, again in that fucking voice and there’s a stinging bang in Bakugou’s clenched fist that makes half the students jump.

“Calm down man,” Sero starts, taking a step forward.

“Shut your fucking mouth, limp dick!”

“Kacchan-”

Firecrackers snap inside of Bakugou’s fists as he takes another menacing lurch forward.  “Stop calling me ‘Kacchan’ you pathetic fuck!”

Deku looks at Bakugou evenly, and drops his hands from where he’d been rubbing at his knuckles.  “Bakugou,” he starts again and it sounds wrong in his mouth, like he’s mispronouncing it somehow, “if it’s about the nightmares, you don’t have to- everybody has them.  I even have them sometimes-”

It’s like Deku specifically composes a list of ‘things to say to piss off Bakugou’ and then reads it aloud during their conversations.  “Fucking sometimes, huh?”  Bakugou’s stomach churns like someone had pumped it full of acid.  His side throbs in time with his heartbeat, pang for pang.  “Even you have ‘em?  But just sometimes?

Deku sighs.  “That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what the fuck did you mean?!”

“Whoa, what’s going on?”  Kirishima comes jogging back down the path and it must be on Bakugou’s face, plain as day, because he grabs his wrist and pulls.  “Dude, c’mon, we gotta go soon-”

Bakugou shakes Kirishima off.  “I’m having a conversation with Deku, back off.  That’s what you want, right asshole?  A proper fucking conversation?  So converse already!”

Deku glances over his shoulder.  Half the students have gathered into their own little clusters in an effort to ignore them but Bakugou doesn’t care.  As usual, like always, whenever Deku decides to butt his nose into Bakugou’s business, the world narrows down to the two of them.

Except Deku’s too fucking chickenshit to say anything.

“That’s fucking right,” Bakugou hisses.  Kirishima murmurs something behind him and pulls on the hem of his shirt, so Bakugou swats him away.  “You can’t say anything.  Always acting so fucking high and mighty, always looking down your nose at me, trying to make me look stupid.

Deku has the nerve to look startled.  “Kacch- Bakugou, no, I wasn’t-”

“You think I wouldn’t figure it out?”  Bakugou sniffs hard against his suddenly runny nose and he realizes, with some horror, that he’s about to cry.  Fuck.  Fuck.  “You think I was too stupid to figure it out?  You reeeally hit the jackpot, huh?  Did making me look like a weakling in front of the entire town fucking help you out?  Was that why you did it?”

The look of pure shock on Deku’s face is too honest to be anything but the truth.  He really had just jumped in because of that fucking savior complex.  No regard whatsoever to the circumstances, any of them.

“You never have a reason to jump in.  You never wait to see if you’re needed- I don’t need you!  I don’t need your fucking help, and I don’t need your pity!”  Bakugou takes a step forward and angrily draws his wrist across his eyes.  “I definitely don’t need it when you couldn’t do anything without getting help.  Without getting-”

Kacchan!” Deku shouts in alarm, hands up as if to pacify him.  “Don’t.  Please- please don’t.”

Bakugou draws himself up.  The smug satisfaction he’d been hoping to find isn’t there.  It’s not even worth it.  Judging by the looks of confusion on everyone’s faces, Deku really must not have told anyone else about ‘magically’ acquiring his quirk.  Deku had only told him, Bakugou.  What, to brag?  Or to try and make him feel better?

Bakugou doesn’t know which one he hates more.

“Why do you always go after Deku?” Uraraka interrupts.  “He wasn’t even doing anything wrong.”

“Uraraka, it’s okay,” Deku starts.

“It’s not okay.”  Urakaka clenches her fists.  “It’s not okay because he’s awful with you and then he’s awful with everyone else.”

“Get the fuck over it, roundface,” Bakugou snaps.  “Maybe listen when someone tells you to leave them alone if you don’t want your sad little feelings hurt.”

“No, Ochako’s right.”  Bakugou’s gaze snaps over to where Asui is shuffling forward.

“Tsuyu,” Ashido calls nervously.  “Maybe we should just leave him alone, c’mon…”

“Not to mention we should be paying attention to our lessons,” Yaoyorozu adds, though she doesn’t sound very convinced of it.  Even Cementoss doesn’t say a word, silent at the back of the crowd, arms folded.

“Just a minute.”  Asui meets Bakugou’s gaze head-on.  “…I always say what I’m thinking.  You can probably relate, so please listen all the way through.” 

She casts a glance over her shoulder at the other students before turning back to Bakugou.  “Your problems are your problems, but we all went through what happened that night.  None of us came away from it okay.  Midoriya’s got surgical scars, Momo gets headaches, Tetsutetsu has gunshot burns.  Plus there are the wounds that we can’t see.  Ochako is scared of needles.  Aoyama can’t stand the dark.  And I still feel guilty about not going with everyone to rescue you.  It felt like I was abandoning you to the villains to protect myself.”

“Tsuyu,” Kirishima mumbles.

“I know.” Asui’s gaze flickers over to Kirishima briefly before she returns her attention to Bakugou.  “And as for you, you have nightmares.  Really bad ones, by the sound of it.  I’m not going to say whether or not you’re better or worse off than anybody else, because this isn’t a contest.  The thing I have an issue with is that none of us think less of anybody else for their problems.  All of us are doing our best to deal with them and by relying on each other, we’re all getting a little better each day.  Everybody’s getting better. 

“Except for you.”

Something in Bakugou’s chest winds tight like a twisted rubber band ready to snap.  Kirishima’s hand comes up to rest on his shoulder.  “What the fuck do you know?” he manages.  His voice sounds distant and quiet in his own ears.

“Well.  I’m just guessing.”  Asui rubs a couple knuckles behind her ear.  “To be honest, I didn’t want to come on this trip at all, but I forced myself.  I’m not sleeping well.  I don’t think many of us are.  So, it’s not unusual that you’re afraid of some things.”  She turns and hops back over to Ashido.  “At least this way you seem a little more human.”

Bakugou watches as the students shift away from him one by one.  Kaminari glances at Kirishima and Ashido pulls on Sero’s arm.  Hagakure twists the hem of her shirt nervously.  Uraraka is staring from the front of the group but finally, she looks away.

“Hey,” Bakugou protests, though he’s not sure why.  He wasn’t done.  He wasn’t done, damn it.

Deku is the last.  He meets Bakugou’s eyes for all of a second before he, too, turns around and gives Bakugou his back.

Forty-one students all give him their backs and, with Cementoss, resume their kata.

I’m going because I’m training to be a fucking professional hero-

“…c’mon,” Kirishima murmurs again, pulling at Bakugou’s arm.

-and everybody else is going and I’m not falling behind.

“Fuck- fuck you people,” Bakugou stammers out.  Nobody looks at him.  His palms feel too slick and he wipes them off on his jeans.  His classmates transition seamlessly to the next stance so he takes a step forward.  “Hey, I said fuck you!”

“Bakugou, c’mon,” Kirishima begs, wrapping an arm around Bakugou’s chest.  “Don’t do this, man.”

“I didn’t ask- I don’t need your pity!”  He doesn’t.  He doesn’t.  He doesn’t need their support or their-  Do they think he’s that bad off?  Because he freaks out when someone grabs him when he’s not expecting it?  Because it’s been almost a full fucking year and he still gets that metallic tang on the back of his tongue whenever he smells sewage or hard liquor?  Because of all the small, lingering things that pile up and make him weak, make him unable to control himself or fight the way he wants?  Things that make it hard to breathe, that make him see shapes in shadows that aren’t actually there- 

He’s not- He’s fine.  He might have nightmares sometimes but it’s not-

He’s not afraid.  He’s not afraid.

“I’m not fucking scared of anything!” he snarls.  The classes move on to the next kata; his vision blurs hot again and he lunges forward against Kirishima’s arm, clutching at it hard enough that it has to hurt.  They’re not turning around.  They’re not listening.  “I’m not scared of shit!  I don’t- I don’t need any help dealing with my issues, you got me?!  I don’t have issues!  I don’t need any fucking help!  I’m not afraid!”

“Bakugou.”

He freezes.

Aizawa coughs behind him and clears his throat.  “Your ride’s here.”  Bakugou hears the scrape of shoes as Aizawa turns away and heads back inside.  “Don’t make her wait.”

Bakugou leans against Kirishima’s arm, the whole line of his body unsteady and sagging.  Nobody’s listening to him.  It’s like he’s already gone.

-Deku.  Deku always listens; never ignores him, never leaves him alone.  He’s never once in his life had to stare down Deku’s back because it’s always been the other way around.  “You’d- you’d better look at me when I'm talking to you, Deku.”

Deku pauses and reaches up a wrist to wipe his forehead before he says, without turning around, “…I’ll see you at school, Bakugou.”

 


 

“No, I hate him!”

His mother looks down at him in surprise.  “I thought you and Izuku were friends.  He’s always playing with you.”

“He tries to make me look stupid!  He’s just a dumb, weak, quirkless loser.  I’m not going to his stupid birthday party.”  Bakugou hurls one of his sneakers at the door.  “I wish he would just die!”

Before he realizes it he’s been spun around, cheek stinging fiercely.  He sits down hard and cups his face, staring up at his mother where she stands over him, expression more stormy than he’s ever seen.

“Don’t you ever say those words about another person ever again, Katsuki,” she hisses.  She crouches down and he stares, stunned, when she rests a hand on his head.  “Never wish someone would die.  If you’re gonna be a hero, your job will be to save people.  How can you expect to be anything like All Might when you think things like that?”

 


 

Kirishima whispers, “Come on,” and pulls him away.

 


 

Bakugou stares down at his hands.  Blisters pucker the skin; Recovery Girl had focused more on the hairline fractures in his skull and spinal column than the superficial wounds that would heal on their own, but that meant in the meantime he couldn’t use his quirk or he’d risk rupturing the blisters and impeding his recovery.

He doesn’t know how they won, but he can guess.

He should’ve gone for the gate.  Stepping stones.  Everyone is just a stepping stone, especially Deku.  If he’d gone for the gate, they’d both have won.  He would’ve had plenty of time to clear it.

But his body had moved on its own.

 


 

The walk up to the road is a few minutes down a wide path.  Bakugou leans on Kirishima the whole way.

 


 

He’s gonna die.  He’s gonna die wrapped up in sludge, the town around him burning to the ground.  He’s gonna die with half a dozen heroes standing back in the sidelines, too chickenshit to step up to the plate.  He’s gonna die with a crowd waiting for All Might to show up filming his death on their cell phones.  His parents are gonna see him die over and over online, when the videos get uploaded.

He’ll never become a hero.  He’ll never make it into UA.  He’ll just be a nameless statistic.  A nobody.  A victim.

Bakugou’s lungs burn and his eyes water.  He can’t move his arms.  He’s gonna die.  He’s gonna die.

I don’t wanna die.

 


 

Kirishima slings an arm around his shoulders and presses his fist hard against Bakugou’s arm. 

Bakugou glances over to see his eyes bright, jaw clenched tight as he fights against his own tears, so Bakugou grabs the collar of his T-shirt and starts scrubbing furiously at his face.  Fucking stupid Kirishima never cries unless someone else starts crying first.

Something about that just makes the tears come harder and Bakugou sobs, drags in a breath like he’s fighting for it.  Kirishima pulls him tighter against his side and bows his own head, shoulders shaking.

Kirishima wedges their bags into the trunk of his mother’s car.  Bakugou can’t look his mother in the face; he can already tell by the way her arms are folded and how she’s propped herself up against the driver side door that she’s furious.

“Thanks Eijirou,” she mutters.  Bakugou doesn’t fold himself into the backseat until Kirishima pulls him in.

It takes twenty full minutes of silent driving for his mother to finally break.

“No more bullshit.”  Bakugou looks up long enough to see her eyes in the rearview mirror before looking back down at where he’s clenched his fists atop his knees.  “I’m not dealing with you being stubborn about this anymore Katsuki, you hear me?  This is it.  As soon as we get back I’m going to find someone for you to see.  I’ll knock you out and drag your ass there myself if I have to, but you’re going to fucking see a doctor or we’re pulling you out of school.”

Bakugou doesn’t say a single word, but when Kirishima holds out his open hand Bakugou grabs it and holds on for dear life.

Chapter Text

Bakugou picks his head up off of Kirishima’s shoulder when he notices they’ve been on the highway for too long. “Where’re we going?” he asks, surprised by how hoarse his voice is.

“I was on vacation when your teacher called me, brat. Since your dad’s at work I said I’d come get you, but I’ve got my beachside room for the next five fucking days and I’m not giving it up on account of you.”

Bakugou refuses to feel guilty for something he didn’t even want to happen, but he’s too tired to work up any kind of indignation. It’s like all of his defiance and anger has bled out, and left a trembling apathy in its wake. “Sorry.”

“Whatever.” His mother glances up in the rearview mirror. “Eijirou, you sure you’re all right with this? I can take you back home. Or back to the camp, you don’t have to tag along with my stupid son everywhere just because he doesn’t know how to look after himself.”

“It’s okay,” Kirishima says mildly. Kirishima’s arm around him is too warm to ignore so Bakugou lays his head back down on his shoulder. “A beach vacation sounds awesome. Thanks so much for letting me come along.”

Kirishima’s fingers play with his hair as the scenery blends from mountains to forest to flatland to shore. Bakugou closes his eyes more than once, his hand on Kirishima’s thigh as he dozes, woken only by the jostling of the car and the soft hum of Kirishima’s voice whenever his mom strikes up a conversation. He hopes Kirishima’s calming effect works on all Bakugous, so his mom won’t be furious with him for the rest of the week. It’s bad enough he had to get pulled from the camp; the last thing he wants to deal with is his mother raging about it the entire time, too.

The car stops and his mother opens the door, gesturing sharply. An emergency clinic stretches out behind her and Bakugou groans, rolling his eyes. “It’s not that bad.”

“Then get out here and let me see it.”

His mother unwinds the gauze a lot more carefully than he thought she would, but determines that it’s bad enough to warrant a checkup and proper treatment. “Here’s my card. Here’s the hotel address. I’m going back to get another room for you two; you can get to the hotel yourself.”

“I’m sorry, fucking hell, what do you want me to say?”

“I don’t want you to say a goddamn thing, Katsuki,” his mother snaps. She lifts his chin so he’ll look her in the eye and he forces himself not to smack her hand away, because she’s using that voice that means she isn’t fucking around this time. “I want you to do some fucking listening for once.” She gestures to where Kirishima is leaning against the car, trying to give them some privacy. “Oi, Eijirou! You staying here or coming with?”

Kirishima glances at Bakugou.

“…probably wanna make sure she doesn’t get us a room in the basement out of spite,” Bakugou says, looking away. “Go on.”

That makes three times he’s made Kirishima stay away. He’s in for it when he gets over to the hotel, but at least now Bakugou has a little bit of space and room to himself to breathe and get sorted. Somehow his mother manages to make the rumble of the car engine sound just as pissed off as she is. Bakugou watches them exit the parking lot, turn onto the main road and disappear around the corner.

The clinic room is packed with dumb vacationers who got hurt doing dumb things. Since Bakugou’s injuries are deemed non-critical he gets stuck waiting so.

He listens.

There’s a quietness inside of him that’s been missing for a long, long time. Someone shouts abruptly, and people walk to and fro behind his chair but he doesn’t flinch once and he realizes, with some incredulity, that it’s peace. Here, in the waiting room of an emergency clinic, with noise and people all around him, Bakugou feels the same as he used to when standing on the topmost peak of a mountain with burning legs and lungs.

It’s not as if he’s happy, definitely not. And it’s not serene here, and he’s not proud of his accomplishments or reveling in the stillness of the world around him. It’s not the same kind of peace but it’s similar enough that the roar of his mind is finally, finally dulling to a whisper.

…there’s a little girl staring at him from across the room.

Bakugou meets her eyes and she looks away hurriedly, balancing a picturebook on her legs while her mother wrangles a toddler and a baby. Bakugou stares back until she looks up again and sees him. She closes her book on her lap, then shows him a cardboard medal attached to a ribbon around her neck, #1 clumsily scribbled on it in marker.

His parents hadn’t let him throw the sports festival medal away his first year, like he’d wanted to. He’d hurled it across the house when he’d come home, furious and embarrassed and not at all satisfied. It felt like a consolation prize because Todoroki had been too fucked in the head to concentrate on the fight. This year’s sports festival had been more of the same; Bakugou had won again, but it had been too easy. Deku was sick so he didn’t participate, and Todoroki hadn’t even been there. He’d opted out entirely, like he had that kind of luxury because of his family. The sad thing is that it was true. He’d still received almost two thousand recommendations, despite not even attending.

What that left Bakugou with was just another hollow victory. He’s a two-year champion and he hadn’t earned either of them.

“Are you the explosion guy? From hero school?”

Bakugou blinks and looks over at the little girl, who’d somehow made her way over to him without him or her own mother noticing. Usually he doesn’t have the patience for kids, but here, thinking about the sports festivals and not even getting angry about it…he can deal with it. “Yeah.”

“You’re so strong!” The girl invites herself up onto the chair next to Bakugou and leans forward, hands clenched around her dress excitedly. “You won twice. Are you gonna win next year too?”

“Obviously.”

The girl clutches the medal around her neck and grins a mouthful of baby teeth. “Heh heh.”

Well, that’s enough of that. Bakugou looks up to see if he can gesture to that woman to come collect her kid already.

“Are your hands hurt? Are those blisters?” She grabs at one of his hands and Bakugou…doesn’t jerk away. Huh. He lets her run her fingers over his palm, curious at his lack of revulsion over being touched by a stranger. He usually hates it. “Does your quirk hurt?”

“Only if I overdo it,” Bakugou tells her, because that’s probably a good lesson or something for kids to know anyway. Or something.

“I hope you get better,” she says sincerely and, before he can figure out what she’s doing, brings his hand up to kiss one of his knuckles. “There. Mama does that for me. That should work.”

Bakugou raises a brow. It’s been a surreal day. “Is that your professional opinion?”

“Yes!”

“You usually go around kissing people you don’t know?”

She flushes darker and says, pretty stubbornly he imagines, “Y-yes! Yes I do.”

Bakugou snorts. “Liar.”

“Chie! You leave that boy alone.” The mother finally noticed that one of her brood had wandered off and bustles over to retrieve her daughter. “I’m so sorry she bothered you.”

Chie watches him over her shoulder as her mother pulls her away; Bakugou watches them leave, watches as she sits down and clutches the cardboard medal around her neck. Looks down at his knuckles and rubs them, presses on the blisters and waits for his name to be called.

 


 

Bakugou finds Kirishima waiting for him in the hotel lobby, typing away at his phone with his feet up on their bags. He barely glances up when Bakugou approaches, and doesn't even offer to take Bakugou's bag.

Yeah. He's in serious trouble.

The room's got two double beds and Bakugou waits for Kirishima to pick one to sit down on before coming inside and dropping his bag next to the nightstand.

“I can't keep doing this.”

Bakugou drops his phone and it bounces beneath the bed.

“No! Dude. I don't mean- I'm not saying we should break up, this isn't the break up talk.”

“Then don't fucking say it like that,” Bakugou orders shakily, fumbling for his phone and dropping to sit down hard on the edge of his bed, running a hand through his hair.

“Sorry.”

Bakugou fumbles with the case of his phone, popping it on and off. “...so. Go on.” He can guess what he's going to say but might as well let Kirishima say it.

“This whole,” Kirishima looks up at him and Bakugou almost winces at the angrily wounded look on his face, “thing where you hang onto me one minute and then shove me away the next. I can't do that over and over dude. I get- y'know, I know you like your space so I'm trying to give you space or whatever, but. I can't, just.”

“I know,” Bakugou mumbles.

“Do you seriously? 'Cause if you already know and you're still doin' it, that's kinda worse, man.”

Bakugou pops his phone back into its case.

Kirishima watches him with a frown before sighing and hanging his head, rubbing a hand over his hair. “...I'm gonna go down to the beach. I think I need to run this out a little.”

Bakugou nods.

“You comin'?”

Shakes his head.

Bakugou listens to the sounds of Kirishima digging his suit out of his bag, his clothes as he changes and then the click of their door shutting behind him.

The room’s A/C unit clicks on with a shudder.

In the quiet of the room, with just the ambient sounds of air moving, there’s little else to do but think.

I don't care how well he knows you; if he doesn't feel appreciated, eventually he'll move on.

His phone vibrates in his hands and Bakugou presses his palms together, phone between them before giving in and checking the messages.

roundface: so that was a really dramatic exit but I guess that’s the usual with you
roundface:
have you calmed down yet??

Don’t you wonder why everybody’s been so nice to you this whole trip, even though you’ve been a complete prick?

No, he hadn’t. He hadn’t cared- or noticed, or cared to notice. It’s not something he pays attention to because he has bigger things to worry about, far-off goals that need realizing. Bakugou learned a long time ago that having friends takes too much time and effort. You have to accommodate, you have to spare their feelings. You have to devote too much to keeping them around and for him, the payoff was never worth it. Nobody else around him was as driven as he was to be somebody. They wanted to get the new video games coming out. They wanted to go to concerts. They wanted to go on dates and smoke in front of the arcade and tool around like dumbfucks, so Bakugou didn’t bother. He changed friends with his years, as it suited him, and he never cared to keep up with the kids he’d talked to in middle school. No baggage. No distractions.

Those pricks wanna see you though.

“I’m doing something wrong,” Bakugou mutters down at his hands. He hates to admit it- it burns to admit it but looking at it from a purely objective standpoint, Aizawa was right to send him home. Bakugou isn’t sleeping, is barely eating, and can’t even devote himself properly to the exercises. He should’ve had Uraraka down on the fifth move. Tetsutetsu too. He can’t think like he normally does, can’t be as creative as he knows he is during a good fight because he’s too keyed up, too busy expecting something to escalate.

During the school year he has more things to throw himself into, but he hadn’t been sleeping very well then either. He knows because Kirishima came to his door at least one night each week, looking sad and tired and worried and then Bakugou invited him in and they ‘wasted their youth,’ according to Kaminari, just trying to get some goddamn sleep.

Come to think of it, over half the times he had a nightmare at school, Kirishima was there at his door.

Shit.

Bakugou’s absolutely doing something very, very wrong.

 


 

Katsuki, why don’t you ever bring any of your friends over?”

Bakugou looks up from pulling on his shoes to see his mother hovering over him. “They’re not my friends,” he grunts, tying his laces carefully and fixing his socks.

What’s that mean? You’re always playing with them.”

They’re just there to play with,” Bakugou tells her impatiently. “Where’s my bug box?”

Under the table, punk.”

Bakugou crawls under the chairs and grabs the box. He kneels there to check the contents, plucking out old dried up leaves and twigs. He’ll have to put fresh stuff inside.

You know, maybe they’d become friends instead of just playmates if you invited them over sometimes.”

They never invite me over,” Bakugou explains, rolling his eyes.

Sometimes you gotta be the one to do things first if you want to see them done, kid.”

I don’t care if they’re never my friends. I don’t want them in my house anyway.”

His mom folds her arms and gives him a weird look. “God, you’re pretty self-important, aren’t you?”

I’m just important enough,” Bakugou tells her haughtily. Why shouldn’t he be important to himself? He’s the only him he has. He slings his box over his shoulder and plucks up his net from beside the door, grabbing the handle. “I’m going out.”

Don’t go further than the park, hear me?”

Fine, fine.”

 


 

Bakugou gets two blocks down the boardwalk when he sees All Might, of all the fucking people in the world, sitting on a bench and digging into a shaved ice like he’s just a guy who goes to the beach sometimes. Bakugou freezes, then about-faces and hopes that he went completely unnoticed.

“Bakugou, my boy!”

Fuck.

Bakugou slowly turns around, hands shoved into his pockets and shooting for cool and unaffected. He’s pretty sure he’s fucking it up. “…what are you doing here?”

All Might pointedly moves over on the bench. Bakugou ignores it. “Aizawa told me what happened. So I called your home, and your father told me your mother was bringing you here.” He pats the bench next to him, which Bakugou again overlooks.

All Might went out of his way to track him down. And somehow managed to get here just hours after they did. “Well, you wasted your damn time.”

“Hmm, did I?”

Yes,” Bakugou insists, feeling like he’s being unfairly talked down to. All right, he can recognize that he’d screwed up somewhere, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fucking child. He doesn’t need to play this game, least of all with All Might. Even if he’s gotten more present as a teacher, he’s obviously got his favorite and it obviously isn’t Bakugou. “I don’t need your help.”

“I see.” All Might scoops up some more of his shaved ice. “Then perhaps you wouldn’t mind just keeping me company.”

God, yes, he absolutely would mind. “I’ll have to pass.” Bakugou only manages to take a few steps before All Might starts coughing, hard and uncontrolled; when Bakugou lurches forward in alarm he immediately stops, holding up a finger before pointing it at Bakugou.

“Ah. See there? You do it too.”

“Wh- do what?”

All Might drops his hand into his lap and pats the space on the bench next to him insistently, setting his ice aside. “Come on now. Don’t be shy.”

Bakugou wrinkles his nose, but obediently takes a seat next to All Might.

All Might rubs the back of his neck. “…you know, I think I might be able to sympathize with you here.”

“What are you talking about,” Bakugou asks flatly.

“I know what my situation looks like.” All Might threads his knobby fingers together, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. “I’m weak. I can barely throw a punch. I can’t even run now without getting out of breath. While I still have the experience and knowledge needed to teach, I will never again be a hero like I was before.”

It’s not anything new, certainly not anything the students haven’t discussed amongst themselves, but hearing it come out of All Might’s mouth is odd. Painfully blunt. Bakugou mimics All Might’s pose unconsciously, staring down hard at the grits of sand stuck into the planks of the boardwalk. He still remembers crouching in front of the TV for hours, watching the All Might compilation videos his parents bought for him in his stupid little All Might slippers and his stupid little All Might patterned blanket.

“And now,” All Might coughs a little, “whenever I show even the barest hint of distress, people rush to my aide.”

Oh, that’s what he’d meant. “It’s not because I think you’re fragile,” Bakugou mutters.

“Wah hahaha! Don’t lie, Bakugou my boy; dishonesty for the sake of protecting one’s feelings isn’t your ‘style.’” All Might’s hand slaps down onto Bakugou’s back. “But I know that’s not all of it. And you, you should understand that as well.” He thumps Bakugou’s back a lot more solidly than Bakugou thought he could. “If your friends rush to your aide, it’s not because they seek to exploit your weaknesses. It’s because they want to return you to full strength.”

Bakugou chews on his lip and presses his thumb against a blister.

“Pride is not a bad quality to have. But like humility, in excess, it’ll weigh you down when what you desire most is to move forward.” All Might rubs Bakugou’s back again before withdrawing his hand. He coughs again, rubbing at his mouth. “You have an exceptional talent for cutting loose things that weigh you down. It’s my sincerest hope that talent extends to this, as well.”

“Why do you care?” Bakugou asks suddenly. His voice sounds too young and not accusatory enough for his tastes, but today has just been so goddamn exhausting that he doesn’t have it in him to protect himself anymore. “I’m not your successor. I’m not your pet project. Why the fuck do you care about whether or not I get stronger?”

“Bakugou, my boy,” All Might sighs, “you are one of my precious students. While young Midoriya might need my direct attention due to…specific circumstances, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see you succeed.” All Might’s hand claps onto his shoulder. “The day you achieve your dreams, I will be there, celebrating alongside you.”

Bakugou clicks his tongue and looks away, lacing his fingers tight.

“You must learn to separate yourself from young Midoriya’s shadow,” All Might continues gently. “If you continue to measure your worth so shallowly, you’ll forever find yourself wanting. I’ve seen it before, in other heroes-”

“I get it,” Bakugou mutters darkly.

“-and even I have-”

“I said I get it,” he snaps, shrugging off All Might’s hand.

All Might leans back away, resting his elbow on his knee again. After a moment of silence he clears his throat awkwardly. “Ahh, Aizawa always seems to know what to say to his students. Especially to you.” His laugh is annoyingly sheepish, just like Deku’s. “I always fall short of him there.”

Bakugou rubs his palms in frustration, biting the inside of his cheek at the sting. “What you said- it wasn’t wrong.” All Might doesn’t speak or move next to him so Bakugou keeps his head down. He doesn’t want to know what his face looks like right now. “I said I get it so I get it. I- …I understand you.”

“Ah.” All Might shifts his weight before pushing himself to his feet. “What’s your favorite flavor?”

“What?”

All Might gestures to a nearby snack cart. “Shaved ice. What’s your favorite flavor, my boy?”

Bakugou opens his mouth to tell him he doesn’t like it before he stops himself. “…lemon’s fine,” he says instead, and watches All Might shuffle off in the direction of the stand. He looks small there; still tall, but so thin and swimming in clothes too large for him. Even though the fight with villain boss had been televised, not many people know what All Might looks like when he’s like this. But Deku- Deku hadn’t been surprised when he saw him. Deku had known all along.

Bakugou looks over the beach. He can see Kirishima further down the shore, surrounded by people, like always. Red shorts, red hair; probably red skin too, if he didn’t put on any suntan lotion. He probably didn’t. He always forgets shit like that.

If your friends rush to your aide, it’s not because they seek to exploit your weaknesses.

Bakugou clenches his hands tight enough that his knuckles ache. His blisters bulge, threatening to pop.

Don’t say you’d rather lose! Aren’t you the kid who never gives up on winning?!

All Might returns with a cup of lemon shaved ice in his hands and Bakugou takes it without a word. Here, with people milling about behind them going on with their lives, All Might all but invisible as he settles back onto the bench with a weary sigh, Bakugou sits trapped between the part of him that wants to tear All Might down to conquerable pieces and the part of him that wants to prop All Might up onto the world’s highest pedestal.

“What’s it like?” he asks suddenly, and digs a spoon into the ice. “Hitting rock bottom like this.”

All Might grimaces, which looks pretty bad since his always looks like he’s grimacing anyway. “I wouldn’t say rock bottom.”

“Pretty goddamn close.”

“There are worse things to be than weak.”

Bakugou thunks his cup down next to him. “I don’t wanna hear you say that.” Not him. Not All Might. Not the person who he’s held himself up to all these years, not- not the person he thought of when those villains were threatening to brainwash him. Not the coolest, strongest, best hero.

He sees All Might scratch the back of his head out of the corner of his eye and grips the edge of the bench, waiting for it.

“Bakugou, my boy-”

“Don’t say I’m wrong,” he grits out through his teeth. “Strength is everything.”

“Well.” All Might rests his elbows on his knees again. “You already know my opinion on what strength is.”

“Teamwork? Or fucking friendship? Like this is some after school special?”

“Individual strength is important, especially for heroes. Because of the nature of our society, many people view it as the most important.” All Might picks up his own melted cup of ice and slurps at it. Bakugou doesn’t like how tired he looks, hunched over like this. He reminds him of that look in Kirishima’s eyes.

Even All Might had his own problems.

Is this how he was before? Even when pounding villains into paste, even when thrusting his fist into the air after a battle hard-won? Was the bravado all pretend?

“It’s up to you to determine what’s most important to you, but there’s no need to simplify it so much. I don’t think it’s wrong to prioritize your own growth, but don’t you think you have room for more than just that?” All Might looks down at him and Bakugou makes the mistake of making eye-contact and now, now he’s trapped.

All Might smiles. “You must, of course. The top candidate for the future number one hero must always have room for improvement.”

You’re such a mean, awful boy.

Bakugou looks up at Kirishima again, who has no less than four children hanging off of his arms at any given moment. He remembers a little parade of kids trailing after him, Deku at the very end, as he led them through the woods almost every day every summer. He remembers when just leading them around wasn’t enough; when he didn’t feel like he was proving himself until he was pushing them down beneath his feet.

Yeah, he remembers exactly when it stopped being enough.

Are you okay?

He clenches his fists. Kirishima shouts something and all the kids scatter, and he goes tearing after them.

It would be bad if you hit your head.

“All Might,” Bakugou grits out, eyes burning. He’s getting sick of the fear that’s settled inside of him like a new organ, pumping panic through his veins but he thinks, finally, he knows what to do with it.

You looked like you wanted to be-

“I think-” he swallows back hard and glares down at his feet, at the grains of sand in the boardwalk, through the shame burning through his heart and the tears burning in his eyes, “I think I need some help.”

 


 

roundface: so that was a really dramatic exit but I guess that’s the usual with you
roundface:
have you calmed down yet??

BOOMgod: no

roundface: also the usual
roundface: gonna get all angry and yell at me again?

BOOMgod: no

roundface: now I’m starting to get weirded out
roundface: this IS bakugou right
roundface: I’m not talking to a bot or something

BOOMgod: dumbass. it’s me.

roundface: well you can’t blame me for being weirded out
roundface: are you feeling guilty???
roundface: kidding

BOOMgod: yeah.

roundface: okay now I KNOW this isn’t really bakugou

BOOMgod: FUCKING SHUT UP I ALREADY SAID IT’S ME YOU FUCKING ROUNDFACE

roundface: test passed hehehe
roundface: so are you apologizing for being so rude to me?
roundface: I won’t accept until you make me dashimaki osaka style!!!

BOOMgod: fine.

roundface: and deku gets to eat it too

BOOMgod: I don’t give a fuck.

roundface: oh my goodness.
roundface: now I’m ACTUALLY not sure it’s you
roundface: kirishima did you steal bakugou’s phone??? are u trying to do some damage control

BOOMgod: still me, asshole.

roundface: so
roundface: are YOU going to tell deku that he can eat it
roundface: or are you going to rely on ME to do your apologizing for you?

BOOMgod: you’re out of your fucking mind. I’m not apologizing to him.

roundface: well you should
roundface: you don’t have to like him but deku’s not pathetic
roundface: and you never had a problem with him calling you kacchan before
roundface: so that was just a cheap shot
roundface: it was mean even for you

BOOMgod: it’s none of your goddamn business.

roundface: I guess it’s not
roundface: people are asking about you since I told them I’m texting you so I’m giving them your number ok?? ok

BOOMgod: NOT OKAY

roundface: oops too late

75-6-3219-8563: bakugou its hagakure you’d better be having fun!!!!!! or your probably not having fun your probably super pissed.
75-6-3219-8563: well go out and have fun!! its still summer vacation.
75-6-3219-8563: we should hang out when i get back i actually rly liked hiking w u. pls show me some good spots!!!!
75-6-3219-8563: also u didn’t let me say it before so i’m gonna here and your gonna like it!!! i’m so sorry if i’m the reason u had a nightmare. or like if it was of something with me i dunno.
75-6-3219-8563: I’M JUST SORRY OKAY there

75-6-3449-7741: This is Tokoyami. “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” I too was almost taken as a person with ‘villain potential,’ so I can understand some of your frustration. I’ll see you when classes begin again.

Stupid Blackeyes: BAKUGOU IM STILL MAD AT YOU BUT I AM WORRIED BUT IM SO MAD!!!!! I would be madder but sero and me talked and he wants to try dating. So I guess it ended up ok. BUT IM STILL SO MAD!!! JERK

75-6-1821-1101: kendou here. i don’t know if aizawa-sensei told you but tetsutetsu’s fine. sorry honenuki called you crazy, he didn’t mean it; we all know you didn’t do it on purpose.
75-6-1821-1101: i don’t really know what else to say to you.
75-6-1821-1101: i hope you come to terms with whatever’s going on. things aren’t the same without you here. you know, a lot of us use you as a goal marker. monoma does anyway, even if he’s sometimes an idiot about it.
75-6-1821-1101: it’s not so bad, having people who want to surpass you, is it? because everybody acknowledges your smarts and strength that way. i don’t know why you think any of us look down on you. nobody does.
75-6-1821-1101: this got really long for me not knowing what to say. i hope you’re doing all right. take care of yourself.

electric moron: if you dont take this opportunity 2 get as gay as possible with kirishima i s2g ill turn in my str8 card and lay him myself
electric moron: that man deserves a world class bj for the shit ur putting him thru

75-6-4418-6512: I think I said too much earlier
75-6-4418-6512: sorry
75-6-4418-6512: you should let other people do things for you too
75-6-4418-6512: -tsuyu

BOOMgod: I hate you.

roundface: heheheheh

 


 

Bakugou is waiting cross-legged on the bed when Kirishima comes back to the room.

Kirishima stops toweling his hair to tilt his head curiously. His shoulders and cheeks are pink; he did get a sunburn. “Were you waiting for me?”

“Yeah,” Bakugou mutters. When Kirishima spreads out his towel and sits on the edge of his own bed, Bakugou fiddles with the card in his hand before flicking it over to him.

“What’s this?”

“Read it.”

Kirishima sniffs and flips the card over. “Takahashi Medical Group.” He squints. “…how do you read this?”

“Zento.”

“Zento Mami, PhD. …wait, a doctor?” Kirishima looks up. “You’re really gonna go see a doctor?”

“Not like I have a choice,” Bakugou says, but there’s no heat behind it. All Might had slipped him the card before leaving to catch his train back (he’d ridden all the way down literally just to talk to Bakugou and he still doesn’t know if he should be happy about that or not). “All Might recommended her. Said she treats a lot of professional heroes. And she’ll probably give my parents a discount since I got the card from him.”

“All Might was here? Whoa.” Kirishima lowers the card and fiddles with the edges before leaning forward to pass it back. “Okay. You want me to go to your appointments with you?”

Maybe because he’s spent the entire day beating down his pride it’s not as difficult as usual to say, “Yeah. For the first couple times. So I don’t kill somebody.”

Kirishima squints at him this time. “I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.”

Bakugou shrugs.

“Okay, this is weird, dude.” Kirishima sighs and wraps his towel around his waist before switching over to sit on the edge of Bakugou’s bed, resting a hand on his knee. “What happened? You look like you wanna pass out for a hundred years. I mean, you looked like that before but now you’re doing your quiet thing, and…”

He doesn’t need to say it, Bakugou knows. He hasn’t been like this since the night All Might’s secret got out. He passes his phone over to Kirishima. “Read the texts.”

Kirishima, still confused, unlocks his phone before he bursts out laughing.

“Wha- why the fuck’re you laughing?” Sure, Kaminari said something fucking dumb, but it wasn’t that funny.

“Dude, you put your phone on silent, huh?” Kirishima snickers and shows it to him. “Kaminari and Sero group texted you.”

electric moron: succ

soy sauce: succ

electric moron: give him succ
electric moron: kirishima if ur reading this get the succ

soy sauce: get it from him man
soy sauce: you deserve it
soy sauce: bakugou if u come back 2 school and kirishima isn’t deflowered then we’re gonna graffiti ur desk

electric moron: what he said

soy sauce: we’re the fuckboys
soy sauce: we make sure ppl deserving of fucks get fucked

electric moron: succ him

Those dumbass pricks,” Bakugou growls, lunging for his phone.

Kirishima yanks it away, throwing himself across Bakugou’s bed. “No dude it’s okay, I got it, I got ya,” and starts typing and fuck no, Bakugou knows better. He crawls over atop Kirishima and grabs for it again. “Dude! C’mon it’s okay, don’t you trust me?”

“Not with this shit! Give me my fuckin’ phone!”

“I would never betray you like that.”

“Yes you would! You fucking have! You texted Ashido pictures of all my fuckin’ All Might comics!”

“Bro, it’s ‘cause that’s adorable.

Bakugou gets his phone back but Kirishima had already managed to message ‘i succ him,’ which sends Kaminari and Sero off like literate howler monkeys, screaming and figuratively flinging their own shit. Bakugou glares down at Kirishima beneath his arm. “…you bastard. I’ll kill you.”

There it is.” Kirishima grins up at him.

“You’re much more of an asshole than people think you are,” Bakugou accuses, pushing himself off of Kirishima and typing in a response for Kaminari and Sero to fall into the sun and die.

“I mean, yeah. That’s probably true.” Kirishima sits up and leans against Bakugou’s shoulder. “I just hate seeing you get lost in your head, man. I can’t do anything for you in there.”

“We’re not dating so you can do stuff for me.” Bakugou turns his cheek against Kirishima’s hair, getting stiff with seasalt as it dries.

“Not just ‘cause we’re dating! As your friend.”

“We’re not friends so you can do stuff for me either.”

Kirishima rubs his head against Bakugou’s shoulder. “But I wanna.”

“Stop whining. You’re not the only one who wants to do stuff.”

Kirishima titters. “Stuff like succ?”

Bakugou pretends like his heart isn’t about to burst out of his chest when he says, as casually as possible, “Sure.” He feels Kirishima pick his head up off his shoulder but he keeps his eyes fixed on his phone, even as he feels his face warm.

“What?” Kirishima laughs.

“You fucking heard me.”

It takes another terrifying moment of silence before Kirishima reaches over and puts his hand over Bakugou's phone, ducking down into his line of sight. The nervous hope on his face is too much, the way his eyes are huge and his lashes are long and some of his hair is sticking to his cheek. “Do you wanna. Y'know. Do stuff right now? I'm kinda sandy, I could take a shower...”

If Kirishima leaves he might lose his nerve, but. That could be a good thing too. “Go shower then.”

Bakugou's search history gets decidedly more X-rated during the five minutes Kirishima spends in the bathroom. He knows he's not showering for five minutes either, because the water's on and off in two and then he doesn't come out for another three and Jesus, he's just in one of those hotel towels.

Bakugou tosses his phone onto the nightstand and wipes his hands on his jeans, kneeling there on the bed and watching Kirishima fidget in the hallway. “Get the fuck over here,” he says impatiently, because if Kirishima gets nervous he's never gonna manage to do this.

“Are you sure you wanna?” Kirishima says, hanging back and gripping his towel at his waist like they havne't seen each other naked before. “I mean, like. You've had a seriously stressful day and-”

“Fucking finish that sentence and you'll never get your dick sucked.” Bakugou thrusts a hand out and makes a grabby motion. “Get over here.”

At least Kirishima finally listens, shuffling closer and sitting on the bed sheepishly, reaching for Bakugou's hand to squeeze his fingers. “You're not doing this 'cause you feel like you owe me or anything, right?”

“Fuck off,” Bakugou snaps. “If I didn't want to, I wouldn't.”

“Yeah, but you always push-”

“I'm not fucking pushing myself. The day you can call me wanting to fool around with you pushing myself is the day we're already fucking broken up, asshole.” Before he can lose his courage Bakugou pushes Kirishima's shoulder until he obediently moves with his hands and lays back against the pillows, fingers tapping anxiously on his own thighs. “...shitty-hair, relax. You're fucking wigging me out. What do you think's gonna happen?”

“I'm crazy nervous, man,” Kirishima admits. “Can we uh, can we just make out first?”

Oh thank fuck, he doesn't have to be the one to suggest it. “Fine,” Bakugou agrees, and after a moment of deliberation he strips off his shirt. Kirishima's eyes snap to the bandages around his torso and he frowns so Bakugou leans down to kiss him. Distract him from that. It's not like it even really hurts anymore; the burns were second degree but the sting has long since faded, especially with the ointment from the ponytail chick.

...who he also owes something to now.

Kirishima's hands are warm from the shower as they smooth over his shoulders and up the back of his neck, into his hair. Bakugou ignores the memories that surge up at the sensation; if he keeps track of how far they've gone before, he'll definitely chicken out. And he doesn't want to, he wants to keep going. Not for the sake of paying Kirishima back, or because he wants to stop thinking about his problems; he does want to do those things, both of them, but this doesn't have anything to do with that.

It didn't hit Bakugou until just recently, scrolling through his texts, that he'd shot himself in the foot the second he'd woken up from that dream back home. With just one simple action he'd already totaled his chances of making it through the entire training camp and it was all over something he'd unconsciously decided.

He hadn't texted Kirishima.

“Bakugou,” Kirishima whispers, arm around Bakugou's neck and pulling him closer. Bakugou slides closer, throwing a leg over Kirishima's hips to straddle his waist and slides his tongue into Kirishima's mouth to taste- toothpaste. Fucking dork had brushed his teeth, like he was going on a date. Loser. “Careful,” Kirishima mumbles when they part for breath. Bakugou scoffs and dives back in, swallowing Kirishima's chuckles down like elixir.

He should've texted Kirishima, but he hadn't wanted to deal with the shame of admitting he'd had a nightmare that bad. He hadn't let himself check. That was the problem; not that he didn't reach out for help, or anything stupid like that, but he hadn't trusted his own instincts. He knew he wouldn't be able to feel settled unless he checked to make sure everything was right and he hadn't. He'd ignored his own heart, lied to himself, and during the night the unease had burrowed itself into him like a parasite. Stupid, stupid, stupid. His own fault.

Kirishima threads his fingers through Bakugou's hair and murmurs, “Come back here,” skin so soft and clean and warm. Bakugou feels with trembling hands, shaking with anticipation more than nerves, calloused fingertips pressing over the curve of muscle and the sharp jut of joints and bones.

Bakugou noses the corner of Kirishima's jaw, shifts to the side and presses a palm slow down Kirishima's chest, his belly, over his hips and then, finally, under his towel. They'd gotten off together before, but hadn't ever touched each other, so Bakugou has to pull back to see the way Kirishima's face looks when Bakugou drags a hand over him.

“Oh shit,” Kirishima hiccups, brow scrunching. Bakugou's heart soars.

He'd fucked up so badly; kept distancing himself from Kirishima, kept refusing to reassure himself. Wouldn't let himself keep him nearby, make sure he was okay. And then Hagakure and Ashido almost fell, and shit, that was practically the final nail in the coffin. There was no way he'd be all right after that, not when he refused to let himself protect the people he needed to. The ones he...cares about.

His friends.

Bakugou watches Kriishima's expression tighten almost like he's in pain as he strokes him. “Man, that feels so good,” Kirishima pants, blunt fingernails pressing into Bakugou's shoulderblades where he hangs on. He tilts his head back, closing his eyes, and Bakugou ducks down to nip at his jaw before he wriggles backward and tugs the towel down. When he looks back up at Kirishima all he sees are his hands pressed over his face, ears red as his hair.

Fucking cute.

Still, being out in the open like this, even in the privacy of their own room, it's- it's kind of weird. So Bakugou grabs the extra blanket at the foot of the bed and yanks it up, pulls it over his head and Kirishima's hips and there, in the shadows and warmth, he feels completely unafraid.

At the first touch of Bakugou's lips, Kirishima whimpers, “Oh god,” so loudly Bakugou's sure everyone on the floor heard it.

It doesn't go perfectly. He probably wouldn't win any prizes with a performance like this. Kirishima jerks away once because Bakugou's teeth hurt him, but then his fingers go into his hair and they're shaking so hard, his legs are shaking, his everything is shaking and it's not bad. It's not bad.

Kirishima comes gasping Bakugou's name like a prayer and Bakugou holds Kirishima's hips bruisingly tight, chanting to himself here, he's here, I'm here, we're here.

Chapter Text

Bakugou doesn’t see his mom for two full days before Kirishima bullies him into looking for her. Oh my god dude go find her, she’s probably worried, Kirishima scolded as he shoved Bakugou out the door. Kirishima really does not know his mother that well if he thinks two days of him being in a hotel on the beach is going to worry her. This is the same mother who let him crawl all over the mountains by himself when he was five.

Of course, this is also the same mother who wouldn’t let him go for hours after he came back from his kidnapping, so maybe Kirishima’s onto something.

It takes some searching and some irritatingly easy questioning (“Looking for your mom, kid? Yeah she looks just like you, she went that way.”) but finally he locates her in the hotel bar, leaning against the counter and chatting with the bartender like they’d been friends for years. Bakugou eyeballs the can of soda in front of her as he strolls up. “Risky.”

Her expression immediately sours. “Oh. You. Here to bother me already? It’s not time to go home yet.”

He scowls. “Kirishima made me come find you. Tried to guilt me into thinking you were worried and shit. Good to know he was wrong, I’ll be going now.” His mom grabs the back of his shirt when he tries to leave and yanks him back over.

“Nah ah ah, now that you’re here we’re gonna talk. Siddown.”

Bakugou groans, but obediently slides onto a stool and buries his head in his arms. His mom’s hand drops heavy into his hair and oh boy. Here it comes. Now he gets the punishment that she’s been waiting to dole out probably ever since she got that call from Aizawa.

“Hey Keiko, wanna know something great? This kid here, my dumb, stupid, rotten son? He was so cute as a baby.”

Mom,” Bakugou protests into his arms. The counter smells like spilled liquor and sorta makes his stomach turn, but her hand in his hair is keeping him on steady ground so he bears with it.

“Was he?”

So fuckin’ cute.” Her hand scrubs through his hair hard before gripping it again and Bakugou wills the universe to strike his mother spontaneously mute. “When he was still in diapers he’d go wait right in front of the door for his daddy to come home.” There is no god. “I don’t even know how he could tell what time it was, but like clockwork he’d go wait at the door, usually twenty or so minutes before his dad got back from work. So cute. Didn’t matter if he was napping or playing, he’d just drag his shit over, plonk down and wait. He loves his daddy soooo much. Kinda made me jealous sometimes!”

Augh,” Bakugou shouts and bats her arm away, trying to escape. She grabs him up in a headlock and yanks him back down onto the stool. “Shut up already, hag! Nobody wants to hear that shit!”

Keiko the Bartender has the audacity to look amused. “Nah, I’m with your mom on this one kid, that’s really cute.”

“And I’ll bet that you haven’t even called your father yet. Have you?” His mother digs her knuckles into his scalp and Bakugou shoves her away this time, wrenching out of her arms and backing out of her reach. “Call your dad.”

Fine.

His mom turns and grabs her soda as the bartender wanders off laughing to help another customer. Bakugou, seeking revenge, sneers at the can in her hand, “Who the fuck goes to a bar and gets soda? Jesus Christ, you’re not pregnant are you?”

His mother snorts, rolling her eyes. “And risk having another one of you? Pass.” She takes a reluctant gulp of her drink. “I haven’t had a drink since you got snatched, dumbass. You said the smell of liquor makes you sick.”

Shit. Another spectacular backfire. All his revenge attempts keep blowing up in his face lately.

“Trying to get me back? Loser.” His mother smirks at him and takes a somewhat more satisfied sip. “Surprise, I’m a good mom and you’re a little jerk.”

“You’re also a jerk,” Bakugou points out sullenly, embarrassed and angry that his mom would just up and do something like that without consulting him first. “I never fucking asked you to stop. I’m not even home most of the year.”

“You really are an idiot.” His mom reaches over and flicks his forehead before he can dodge it. “You’re my kid. The whole point of motherhood is to change stuff to make sure your kid’s okay.” She finishes off her soda and waves down the bartender for another one.

Bakugou stares down at the counter before silently taking a seat again. “All Might was here,” he says suddenly, before his mom can start firing off another embarrassing anecdote to bartender what’s-her-face. “He gave me a card. …for uh, for a doctor.”

He can feel his mother’s eyes on him so he doesn’t look over. He can’t. “You wanna take care of it yourself?”

“Yeah.”

“You’d better not procrastinate-”

“I won’t, hag, I said I’d do it so I’ll do it.”

“You’d better. I’m not fucking around, you had better do it.”

“All right already, I get it!” Bakugou growls and rests his chin in his hand, glaring down at the counter. The stink of liquor isn’t so bad without his face pressed into it but he still hates it, heady and stomach-turning. Something scrapes the counter at his elbow and he blinks down at the new can of soda in front of him, his mother cracking open her own.

“…so All Might came all the way out here to see you. Unless he was just here on vacation?”

“No. He took a train back.”

“Oh boy.” Bakugou doesn’t want to look, but he does it anyway and spies his mother giving him a shit-eating grin over the top of her can. “The famous pillar of the people, coming all the way out here just to see you. Did your heart beat right out of your chest?”

Bakugou glowers.

“Your little crush on him was so cute-”

“It wasn’t- I never had a fucking crush,” Bakugou protests, grabbing his soda and angrily opening it so hard he tears off the tab. “I admired him for being a badass.”

“Baby you had a crush.”

“Don’t call me-”

“You kissed your poster goodnight.”

I was three!

 


 

“Hey son, how’re you doing?”

Bakugou hates how obvious the note of relief in his dad’s voice is. “Stop worrying.”

His dad just chuckles sheepishly so Bakugou heaves a sigh, flopping back onto the bed. Kirishima throws a leg over his and taps away at his phone, some dumb fucking candy game or something. “Mom said to call you.”

“Did she? Your mother’s a bit of a bully, huh?”

“She’s an asshole.

“Now now, don’t call your mother that,” his dad scolds mildly. “You know how she is, she’s just-”

“-worried, I know, I know. I’m getting sick and tired of that word.”

“I could use another one, if you want.”

No. Just stop worrying.”

“Katsuki, parents never stop worrying.”

It takes ten minutes of reassuring and plan sharing and copious amounts of cursing (on Bakugou’s part) before his father is satisfied enough to let him hang up the phone. Bakugou growls and tosses it onto the other bed, dragging a pillow over his face.

“My mom is like that,” Kirishima says, and makes that annoyed sound he makes when he screws up a move. “Even when nothing happened to me during the last camp she was freaking out. Like, ‘oh my goodness, Eijirou, you could’ve been killed!’ And I’m just like, ‘Mom, I’m in hero school, I’m gonna be a professional. Every day is going to be like this.’”

Bakugou doesn’t move until Kirishima drags the pillow off his face, and then he just glares half-heartedly. “What’d she say to that?”

Kirishima shrugs. “She said she’ll just have to worry then too.”

Parents.”

“Yeah.”

 


 

Kirishima’s mom stops right in the doorway and stares at Bakugou where he’s sitting on her couch. “Aren’t you the one who beat Eijirou in the sports festival last year?”

Bakugou frowns. Is she going to be the protective type of mother? He wants to get along with her because, well, he is dating her only son and all, but if this is going to be an issue… “Yeah, that’s me.”

Ohhhh boy.” Kirishima’s mom gives him a knowing look Bakugou doesn’t even know how to begin to comprehend and turns to head into the kitchen. “Well it’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Do you like hot pot? I know it’s starting to warm up already-”

That’s fine,” Bakugou interrupts, rubbing his arm. Where the hell is Kirishima? How long does it take to put a toddler down for a nap? You just put the kid in the bed and put the covers on the kid, why the fuck is he taking half a fucking hour to do this?

His mom is giving Bakugou that weird look again, and boyfriend’s mom or not he’s not standing for it. “What? What is it?”

She grins and Bakugou realizes with a shock that she has pointed teeth too. Not as obvious at Kirishima’s but definitely all sharp. “Nothing. It’s just that Eijirou’s talked about you so much, I feel like I already know you. Can I call you Katsuki?”

Bakugou stalls for a moment. “Uh.”

Mom, c’mon! I don’t even call him that yet.”

Thank fuck, it’s Kirishima. Bakugou sits back down on the arm of the couch and tries not to look like he was just rescued.

Well I can’t go around calling him Bakugou, what am I going to call his parents? Good job introducing me properly.”

I was putting Yuki down.”

Was she good?”

Oh yeah, she was good. She ate all of her snack.”

What would I do without you?”

A lot less,” Kirishima jokes. “When’s Ma coming home?”

She won’t be in until much later.” Kirishima’s mother looks around his shoulder at Bakugou. “Sorry Katsuki! You’ll have to meet her another time, she had to stay late at work.”

Bakugou clears his throat. “It’s fine.”

Kirishima’s mom leans forward and to Bakugou’s great shock, just up and kisses Kirishima on both cheeks before she drops her purse on a chair and wanders into the kitchen to get dinner started.

Kirishima drifts toward the doorway to straighten up where his mother had just kicked off her shoes and looks over at Bakugou. “What is it? You’re staring.”

A lot about you makes sense now.”

Oh, you mean my mom? Yeah I look like her, right?” Kirishima grins. “Neither me or Yuki look like our dads. You’ve seen pictures of my ma, right?”

Yeah. Your sister looks like her.”

Yeah.” Kirishima settles onto the couch behind Bakugou and Bakugou is pointedly aware of the entire line of warmth where Kirishima’s shoulder is against his side. “Our dads were anonymous donors so we don’t even have pictures of them, but it’s not a big deal. Mom and Ma have all the medical stuff…somewhere.”

Bakugou rubs his hands together. “It wasn’t a problem? With your quirk?”

Nahhh, there’s a file somewhere with all the data. Mine is a mix anyway. Yuki’s a little more complicated since she has her dad’s quirk right out, but they get really detailed info at those clinics. Just ‘cause the donor’s anonymous doesn’t mean they don’t get all the stuff the parents need to know. They’re really thorough.”

Ah.” Bakugou looks down at his fingers, picking at his nails before glancing back up at Kirishima and scowling at the silly smile on his face. “What?”

I’ve never seen you so interested in someone else before.” Kirishima’s cheeks flush and he looks away, rubbing at one of them. “I kinda like that it’s about me.”

Your family’s interesting,” Bakugou protests, feeling his own face heat up and begging Kirishima’s mom to just stay away from the living room. He’s still navigating this dating thing and he doesn’t know how many times he’s already run this ship aground. “Mine’s just me, Mom and Dad. Fucking boring.”

Kirishima laughs. “Dude you’re like your mom’s clone. That’s not boring. My eyes about popped outta my head when I met her.”

I was there, dumbass.”

And your dad’s like, the nicest guy ever.”

My dad’s a wimp.”

Hey.” Kirishima nudges his elbow into Bakugou’s side. “Don’t be mean. Your dad’s nice.”

Enough about my parents,” Bakugou says loudly, shoving Kirishima over and sliding off the couch arm to sit beside him. “What’s your maji’s quirk?”

 


 

“So what’s your thing?”

Kirishima sits down beside Bakugou, plunking down the plate of watermelon slices he’d carried over. “What thing?”

“Your thing. Frogface said you all had things.” Bakugou grabs a slice to distract himself with and looks out over the water. “What’s your thing?”

“Oh, that kinda thing.”

“Yeah, that.”

The beach is surprisingly empty for it being summer; a few families have blankets spread out across the sand, children and parents screaming and crashing through the surf together. Apart from the boardwalk, there are a few family-owned restaurants and gift shops built right onto the shore, shoddy wooden shacks like the one they’re sitting on now with open dining areas and steps that sink right into the sand. Bakugou buries his toes in it and waits for Kirishima to say something.

“Nightmares.”

Bakugou looks over at him and Kirishima smiles weakly, shakes his head. “Not like yours. Nothing I wake up from screaming. But. Y’know.” Kirishima shrugs and picks up a melon slice. “All those times I showed up at your door, they weren’t always because you woke me up.”

“Dumbass,” Bakugou breathes; he barely notices when his hands lower to rest on his lap, staring at Kirishima. He shouldn’t be relieved that the tired look on Kirishima face for almost the past full year isn’t just because of him, but he is. It’s not okay. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Dude, c’mon, you had your own shit to deal with-”

“You’re a fucking hypocrite if that’s the reason.” Bakugou punches Kirishima’s shoulder, hard.

Ow!” Kirishima glares, rubbing his arm. “What the hell, man?”

“Who do you think I am?” Bakugou growls. “You think I can’t handle your shit on top of my own?”

“Bakugou seriously, you weren’t really handling your shit at all,” Kirishima points out.

Fuck, and he’s right. Bakugou frowns. “Well, I am now. And I’m gonna fucking expect you to be honest with me too, you got that?” Kirishima doesn’t answer and Bakugou lifts his fist. “Don’t ignore me!”

“I got it! Geez, don’t hit me again. Mean.”

The silence between them isn’t exactly companionable, but it’s familiar and they both sulk and eat their watermelon, watching the crowds start to gather as morning rolls into noon.

“I should’ve asked you about it,” Bakugou mutters finally. “I know. …sorry.”

“Augh,” Kirishima groans, “don’t apologize. It sounds so weird coming from you.”

“Fuckin’- excuse me for trying to be supportive!”

“You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.”

Bakugou clicks his tongue and looks away.

“But I get it.” Kirishima drops his empty rind onto the plate and picks up another piece, but not before he squeezes Bakugou’s knee. “Dude, look, you might not think you are, but you’re there for me when it matters. The smaller stuff, I can handle that.”

“You having nightmares isn’t small.”

“Touché,” Kirishima admits, “but I’ll tell you from now on. Other stuff like me worrying about little things? I don’t wanna load you down with that. You don’t want to be loaded down with that either and it’s cool, I got people to vent to. But you’re always there when we have a huge test, or when I really need to work on something. You’re there when it’s important.”

You’re important,” Bakugou insists, a little mystified by his own brazenness.

Kirishima goes pink and laughs, turning back to his watermelon. “You’re trying to woo the shit out of me to get more than your fair share of this melon,” he accuses, flashing Bakugou a grin and biting into his slice. “No dice.”

Bakugou rolls his eyes, but his stomach sits warm and calm and together they work on the plate, reducing it to gnawed rinds and sticky juices. People-watching is always much nicer than people-interacting, at least in Bakugou’s opinion. He’d never really cared much for either until he starting coming to UA but he’s realizing, with some alarm, that the people he’s lived with for almost a year now have come to know him pretty well. Even more alarming is that he somehow has managed to come to know them, too.

Kirishima most of all.

“I like- I like your hair,” Bakugou says abruptly, in a sudden fit of reckless affection. It’s terrifying to open himself up to ridicule like this but he wants to, god damn it. He wants to give Kirishima compliments and make him feel special like Kirishima does for him all the time. It’s taking all his strength to shove his pride to the background, but damn it he’s not gonna let anything get the better of him, not even himself. Here, sitting on this stupid deck and watching Kirishima suck watermelon juice from his fingers as his hair flutters in the wind- Bakugou doesn’t think he’ll have a better time to try.

Kirishima just blinks at him though. Because he’s an idiot. “You always say my hair looks stupid.”

Bakugou feels his face burn. “I mean I like it like this.

“Oh. Down?” Kirishima tugs on a lock. “Yeah. I mean, it’s a pain in the ass for it to be like this if I have to use my quirk, because it gets all rigid around my ears and I can’t brush it out of my eyes-”

“And your teeth.”

“What? No, it doesn’t get in my teeth-”

I mean I like your teeth, moron,” Bakugou says loudly, absolutely certain that his quirk has mutated and that his face is secreting nitroglycerin that will undoubtedly explode any second.

Kirishima gapes at Bakugou, half-eaten watermelon rind forgotten.

“And your- your eyes are. Nice.” Bakugou can’t look at him anymore, augh, god. This is so hard. He stares down at the sand and pictures himself sinking into it. "And your laugh. I guess. It’s like. Y’know, it’s good.”

“What are you doing?”

Bakugou angrily digs his toes into the sand and kicks at it. Kirishima sputters when the wind carries the grains in his direction. “What does it fucking look like?! I’m trying to compliment you, jackass!”

“Haha! Forreal? Dude, don’t get mad, it’s not like you do this often.” Kirishima shoves the plate of rinds behind them and eagerly scoots closer. “Well c’mon, keep going. What else about me do you like? Don’t be shy.”

Oh god. He’s going to die. He’s gonna expire right here, eating watermelon on a beach store deck with his stupid red boyfriend. “I like it when you shut up and stick your tongue down my throat.”

Kirishima laughs and shit, now that Bakugou’s said it aloud, he really does like his laugh. He does. It’s stupid and corny and lame and he loves the way it sounds, like how Kirishima just pulls on all the happiness inside of him and pours it out for other people to hear. Holy shit that was so gay. He’s so incredibly gay. “I like that too.” Kirishima smiles and bumps Bakugou’s shoulder with his own.

Bakugou gives a disgruntled harrumph and chomps down on his watermelon, looking away.

“I like your hair too, Blasty.”

“Fuck you,” Bakugou grunts, face perpetually on fire, he’s sure.

“I do! And I like your shoulders. And your waist. And I love your hands, they’re manly as hell.”

Bakugou looks at the sand under their feet and commands it to devour him. Or Kirishima. One of them. No, both of them.

Something soft touches his cheek and he startles, glaring over at Kirishima. Kirishima just smiles back and brushes his knuckles against Bakugou’s jaw. “And I like this right here.”

He shouldn’t be encouraging this romantic bullshit. “Like what?” asks Bakugous traitorous mouth anyway.

“Being with you. Just you.”

Fuck.

Bakugou pulls away, shoulders hunching as he stuffs watermelon into his mouth like he’s starving to death. Can he do it? Can he admit to it?

“I-” Bakugou swallows and wipes the juice from his chin with the back of his wrist. He clutches at the rind as tight as he dares and stares at the ocean as it tries to eat the shore. “I like it when- when you call me ‘babe.’ If it’s not in front of anybody.”

“Yeah?” He feels Kirishima shift next to him. “…can I call you that now?”

Bakugou scoffs. “Do you see anybody else here? Shit.”

Kirishima sets aside his own watermelon rind and his other hand comes up to cradle Bakugou’s jaw, both of them sticky and warm. “Blasty McSplode, you are a totally smokin’ hot babe,” snickers Kirishima before he kisses Bakugou right there, in the sun, in front of the entire world.

Kirishima is gonna give him a goddamn heart attack.

 


 

electric moron: DID U SUCC

BOOMgod: die in a fire

soy sauce: o shit waddup

electric moron: here come
electric moron: DAT

BOOMgod: STOP

soy sauce: BOOIIIII

electric moron: BBOOOII
electric moron: dammit sero

soy sauce: hahahaaaaa

BOOMgod: I hate you two meme loving fucks

 


 

Bakugou despises with all his being that his mother was right. He will never tell her, will never give her the satisfaction but when he finally, finally loosens his vicelike grip around his pride enough to admit that he is completely, terribly and hopelessly stupid for Kirishima Eijirou, a world of possibilities opens up to them both.

Over the course of the next few days the changes are so startlingly obvious that Bakugou feels like an idiot for not thinking of it before. Kirishima starts teasing him again. They end up wrestling in the middle of making out and even if it concludes with Bakugou holding his injured side after an accidental elbowing, it’s fun. Kirishima apologizes too many times and cuddles up with Bakugou like some kind of guilty pet dog. Bakugou won’t admit to this either, but he fucking loves it.

Bakugou doesn’t fight it when Kirishima takes his hand in public, doesn’t jerk away from kisses, doesn’t tell him to cool it with the flirting. It doesn’t all go smoothly but he makes an effort, a conscious, concentrated effort and the result is Kirishima shining like a goddamn diamond that Bakugou could spend the rest of his life looking at.

When Bakugou finally works up the nerve to approach the topic he asks, “Did you need this?”

Kirishima chews on the straw in his drink before he admits, “I think so, yeah.”

That makes it easier. Bakugou can give Kirishima stuff he needs. Things he wants, those are negotiable, but things he needs? Well, he needs them.

It’s easy to practice it here, at a beach full of people Bakugou will never see again, so he does. He practices looping his arm around Kirishima’s shoulders or waist while they’re walking, he practices staying still when Kirishima drapes all over him like a blanket, he practices just ignoring the part of him that wants to shove him away and stop looking so weak and dependent. Sometimes he doesn’t manage. Sometimes he sticks his hand in Kirishima’s back pocket and gives his own ego the finger.

It’s a work in progress.

 


 

Stupid Blackeyes: ok im not mad at you anymore
Stupid Blackeyes: sero and kami said ur okay r u okay

BOOMgod: why the fuck wouldn’t I be okay?

Stupid Blackeyes: omg excuse me for worrying god so rude

BOOMgod: look asshole I’m SORRY I told soy sauce you liked him alright?

Stupid Blackeyes: omg
Stupid Blackeyes: r u dying

BOOMgod: IF THIS IS HOW IT’S GONNA BE EVERY FUCKING TIME I’M NOT FUCKING APOLOGIZING TO ANYONE ELSE I’M SICK OF THIS INCREDULITY SHIT

Stupid Blackeyes: OKAY OKAY OKAY okay im kidding im sorry im serious. Im serious now.
Stupid Blackeyes: I guess its good you told sero because I wasnt gonna and he wasnt gonna just NOTICE so
Stupid Blackeyes: even though it was MEAN
Stupid Blackeyes: thank you

BOOMgod: whatever, I didn’t do it as a favor to you

Stupid Blackeyes: omfg
Stupid Blackeyes:
you are impossible

 


 

Kirishima gets so sunburnt they have to spend the last day indoors. He whines and complains about how Bakugou is ‘gifted with sun-soaking genes’ and both proclaims his love and hate for the way Bakugou’s arms have gone golden brown. Bakugou complains about his complaining but rubs aloe vera into his burns anyway, though he does smack him on the back one time when he gets too mouthy and sort of regrets it when Kirishima almost cries.

“I’m not crying!”

“Shitty hair, I see you getting ready to cry.”

“Getting ready isn’t crying!”

Bakugou doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to say it, but he finds this side of Kirishima equal parts annoying and really, really goddamn cute.

 


 

“I need you to do something for me when the dorms open back up,” Bakugou says when they’re on their way home.

Kirishima, of course, agrees. His job is the hard part; he has to contact everybody in their year and make sure they show up. When he hears the plan he yells, punches Bakugou's arm and then listens to him, mystified, as he rattles off everything he needs to get ready. “How do you remember all of that?” he asks in awe. It’s great. It’s fantastic.

Bakugou tells him, “Because I’m amazing.”

Kirishima rolls his eyes but still kisses him, and promises to do everything he can to make it work.

 


 

The doctor’s nothing like he expected. There aren’t any button down shirts, no prim and proper haircuts pulled into a bun. No glasses, no clipboards, no comfortable couch to lay on. She’s in a tank top and jeans when he comes into her office and she asks, “What relaxes you?”

He tells her, “Hitting shit.”

They go to the batting cages.

Bakugou never played baseball beyond the usual games in gym class, but it comes as easily to him as everything else does. He appreciates it when Zanto whistles at his first homerun, and notes that it looks like she’s done this sort of thing before. They play for fifteen minutes, sit on a bench and drink sports drinks and talk about shit that has nothing to do with why he’s seeing a doctor. What classes are like at UA, what things he’s currently into. Bakugou bristles at first, stubbornly fighting back against someone getting to know him purely by rote, but where he expects a push all he gets is Zento telling him genuinely interesting shit about the history of heroics that isn’t in the textbooks. Studies and trends and things like that.

“You didn’t ask me about my nightmares,” Bakugou says at the end of their hour, hands throbbing with something that doesn’t reek of smoke for once, muscles simmering from working in a way he isn’t used to. He’ll be sore tomorrow. It’ll be awesome. New. Different.

“Generally don’t like diving into the hard stuff on the first session,” Dr. Zento tells him plainly, leaning against her desk. “You’re expecting it to go one way, I get that. A lot of people, even heroes, have an idea in their head of what it means to see a shrink. I’m gonna guess you probably didn’t want to.”

“All Might warned you about me,” Bakugou accuses.

Zento laughs. “He said a lot of nice things about you.”

Bakugou burns with curiosity. “Like what?”

“Ask him yourself.” Dr. Zento holds her office door open for him. “He’s your teacher, right?”

Bakugou decides to go back to see her again, if only because he hates it when people try to figure him out. He’ll stump her, definitely, for sure.

 


 

Summer vacation passes slow and thoughtless, like a fever dream. Bakugou reads everything on psychology he can get his hands on.

 


 

Two days of preparation, one favor owed to Aizawa for letting him into the dorms early, an embarrassing amount of his savings gone and seven straight hours of cooking later, Bakugou’s almost ready. Ten ‘til two; Kirishima should be bringing everyone over any minute now.

“Oooh, it smells good in here!”

The hard part isn’t the work. It isn’t even the preparation or all the cooking. No, the hard part will be to escape before he gets cornered. His classmates are irritatingly thoughtful, and as a result they like to look at other people as the same way. They’re all guaranteed to look too much into this and start assuming things about him that just simply are not true.

Bakugou hears a bag drop over by the sofas as he dips another prawn in tempura batter and lays it with the others. He ignores the sound of footsteps approaching and tests the oil’s heat before dropping the prawns in. “Oh, Bakugou. Whoa, oh my god, there’s so much food! What’s going on?!”

“Start taking shit to the tables,” Bakugou says, poking carefully at the prawns.

When he doesn’t hear Ashido picking anything up he shoots a glare over his shoulder, only to see her staring around at all the dishes in wonder. “This…this must’ve cost a fortune. And taken you forever- wait a minute, is this why Kirishima wanted everybody to come over?”

Bakugou turns back around and starts plucking prawns out of the oil. “Are you gonna fucking take it or what?”

He hears her move, but then a weight settles against his back and arms go around his chest, and he both feels and hears her say into his shirt, “I knew you liked us.” He should shove her away. He could shove her away.

Instead he grumbles, “I don’t fucking like any of you,” because he can’t let her get away with that.

Ashido squeezes him and slips away and to grab the nearest platter.

Not even a moment later the front door opens and a cacophony of voices spills in from outside.

“-didn’t even see that one with the others. Where did you find it?”

“In the clearance section! See, it’s because you’re rich you don’t think about checking over there. They had all the old season bags on sale-”

“Fourteen, man, fourteen of them all stuck together. It was like trying to untangle the mysteries of the universe.”

“-ever ever did it again. It was the unicorn of high scores, and I didn’t even get a pic, I’m so mad at myself.”

“Uh huh.”

“I really did! I swear to god!”

“We believe you.”

“-to my grandfather's, since he's getting older. He's probably going to end up moving in with us so they're giving him my room.”

“What? Doesn't that make you mad?”

“No, I like Pops-”

“-finished the summer reading immediately! It's not good to put off your homework until the last minute!”

“Give it a rest, Emergency Exit...”

“Hang on, do you smell that? That smells amazing.

Ashido throws herself over the counter, waving. “Guys, come help! Bakugou made food for us!”

Bakugou makes the mistake of glancing over at them; he's been spotted. He finishes plating the last of the food as quickly as possible. Gotta finish up. Need to fucking get out of here before they come over to him.

“Whoa, seriously?”

Ahhhh, is that unagi?! Bakugou, you made us unagi?!”

“And tempura, and yakitori and croquettes-”

“I love croquettes!”

“Is that chanpuru?”

“It’s- wait a second, are these-”

“That’s my favorite.”

“Yeah, that one’s mine.”

“Holy shit, is this all-”

Bakugou wrenches off his apron and stuffs it into the cabinet, nearly vaulting over the counter in his hurry to reach the elevator before Hagakure snags the back of his shirt and practically chokes him to death. “No no no way! You have to eat with us!”

Bakugou struggles and contemplates leaving his shirt for dead. “Get the fuck off me! I’ll kill you!”

Uraraka joins in and destroys all hope of escape. “Are you kidding? You must’ve spent hours on this! And so much money! You have to eat with us!”

“Fuck you, my present to me is distracting all you assholes so I can have some fucking peace for once!”

“Mina, help! Get his arm!”

Bakugou gets dragged back to the table as more of their classmates trickle in and has to endure all the commentary about ‘this is my favorite’ and ‘holy cow this is better than how my mom makes it’ while they all dig in and eat his stupid apology right in front of his face. Fuck. He was supposed to be upstairs. He can't sit here and watch this. He'll die.

Kirishima leans over and digs an elbow into his side, grinning. “You’re so red right now.”

Like it’s not obvious or something. Bakugou glares utter annihilation at Kirishima, gripping the edge of the table. Every time he’s tried to run Kirishima’s grabbed onto him. He’s pretty sure he sat down beside him for this express purpose. “I’ll fuckin’ kill you.”

“I’m glad everyone else gets to see this side of you, man. Makes me look less crazy when I tell them that you’re cute.”

“I am not,” Bakugou hisses through his teeth, “fucking cute, you shitty-haired dickmunch!”

So cute,” Kirishima muses as he reaches forward to pluck up another croquette.

Honestly, Bakugou cannot be blamed for blowing up a full set of their dishes. That’s really all on Kirishima for holding them.

 


 

Change doesn't come immediately, but it does come. In bits and pieces, in bites and swallows. Small, tiny moments that assemble into something greater than the sum of its parts.

 


 

hands grabbing

sludge pouring up from his throat

Take the piece.

Bakugou wakes up, sweating and gasping. Kirishima stumbles through his door moments later, half-asleep, and collapses on his bed next to him.

Bakugou doesn’t fall back asleep but he does rest, Kirishima snoring softly half-sprawled atop him, and contemplates moving the his bed away from the wall to fit in a second nightstand.

Maybe relationships are more like that. Less about changing you are fundamentally and more like- like rearranging the furniture to add a new piece.

 


 

“Bakugou! Do you have a moment?”

Bakugou glances up from his book with a scowl. The only reason he bothers with the rec room is because most of his class will leave him the fuck alone when he’s reading. His room is right between Kirishima’s and Kaminari’s so it’s loud as fuck, and the rec room is spacious and doesn’t give him that feeling of claustrophobia he gets whenever he’s in his room too long by himself. Reading downstairs is his only option, and most of his classmates have recognized that if he’s quiet and reading, he’s not yelling or threatening to kill someone. The only ones stupid enough to disturb him are Kirishima’s stupid crew (which is also his crew, he supposes, if purely by association).

Yaoyorozu isn’t part of that crew. Shit, she’s not even in his class. “Why the fuck are you here?” he demands, acting gate keeper of class 2-B’s dorm if only for the sake of his peace.

“I called out to you, obviously I’m here to talk to you.” Yaoyorozu hesitates before hefting up a thick binder to drop onto the couch beside him. “I’m lending this to you.”

Bakugou eyeballs it.

“…you can pick it up, you know.”

When Bakugou doesn’t pick it up she sighs, prim and proper, and circles around the couch to sit on the opposite cushion and turn the binder to face him. “It’s from the training camp. I was making a study guide for my own personal use anyway, and I thought you might appreciate borrowing it since you missed out on most of the lectures.”

“‘Missed out,’” Bakugou repeats flatly, amazed at the audacity of his classmates. Like he’d just gotten a cold or failed to catch the bus there instead of making a screaming crying fool of himself in front of everybody after he was kicked out for being dangerously insane.

Yaoyorozu ignores his tone and flips the binder open. “I couldn’t do anything regarding the sparring matchups, but I took notes the academic lessons they gave us.” She turns to her color-coded tabs in her color-coded binder and Bakugou stares at it like it’s written in fucking Greek. “Anything in black pen is word-for-word the teacher’s lecture. I also transcribed each of the discussion sections and copied the recordings. That’s the CD in the front of each of the folders. Tabs are separated by day. Personal observations are in red pen, interesting thoughts from other classmates are in blue and are marked with the speaker’s name-”

“There’s nothing from Cementoss’s lecture on the first day.”

Yaoyorozu blinks and looks up at him. “What?”

Bakugou flips to the front. “You said you were making a study guide. If you were, where’s day one?”

Yaoyorozu gapes, working her mouth before flipping to the front of the binder like she must have just missed it. “I- well, I just didn’t include it in this. Naturally. Since you were there.”

Bakugou glares. “I thought these were your personal notes.”

She sputters for a few more seconds before sighing. “All right, so perhaps I may have organized some of this for…for students who weren’t present. Which includes Kirishima, I’ll have you know, and Tetsutetsu missed a day as well. So it’s not as if I did it entirely for-”

“Why?” Bakugou asks impatiently.

Yaoyorozu fidgets there on the couch before she heaves a sigh, clasping her hands in her lap. “You work hard,” she says finally. “I just didn’t think it was fair that you should fall behind through no fault of your own.” She must see the start of anger on his face because she leans back and says, “It’s not pity, Bakugou. I don’t pity you. I just-”

It clicks, suddenly, and like steam escaping the anger drifts away. “You don’t want first place without earning it.”

Yaoyorozu gapes. “I- It’s not something that rude, I’m not that competitive.”

“Don’t be fuckin’ coy, everybody’s competitive.”

Yaoyorozu frowns and squares her shoulders. “…will you take the notes if I agree with you?”

“I’ll take ‘em if you don’t lie about it.”

“Fine. Then…I want to hold onto my valedictorian title through my own accomplishments, not because my competition has been sabotaged.”

Bakugou sets his book aside and pulls the binder onto his lap, flipping through it. It’s thorough and well-organized, as expected. Easy to study from. “You'll regret this,” he tells her idly. “I’ll fucking destroy you in this year’s finals.”

“You’re welcome,” Yaoyorozu tells him dryly, long-suffering and put out, but Bakugou can see it. He can hear that spark of challenge in her voice. People at the top of something don’t get there because they’re bored, or because they just happened to find themselves there; people in a number one slot claw their way up and hold onto their position like they're drowning. Little miss rich girl might think she’s above everybody else scrabbling for accolades, but she isn’t. She’s just not used to having anybody who’s actually a threat. That four-eyes aside, Bakugou’s sure if he threw himself wholly into studying he’d be able to take her coveted first place from her.

Maybe.

Bakugou feels the couch shift as she gets up and heads for the door, and calls before he can hear it open, “When do you want dinner?”

Yaoyorozu pauses, then calls back, “Um. Saturday?”

“Fine.”

The front door clicks shut and Bakugou scours through the notes, drawing his legs up and trying not to flinch whenever he sees Deku’s name on the page. This is for catching up. He needs to catch up.

 


 

Things are still tense for the first few weeks back in school.

Sero and Kaminari have decided that what happened is more or less forgotten and invite themselves back into Bakugou’s daily life like nothing happened. Ashido is still being annoyingly gentle but less so every day. Hagakure drifts over once in a while, like she’s his friend or something, and Uraraka has taken to greeting him annoyingly loudly every morning and saying goodbye when he leaves the classroom.

It’s incredibly irritating, but the noise fills up what would otherwise just be uneasy silence. It’s all right, in that case. Maybe.

What’s difficult is how other people deal with him. The ones who are wary of him aren’t an issue. That timid mountain of a kid and that midget grape-head have always kept their distance, so them staying even further away isn’t a problem. In fact it’s kind of a blessing in disguise; Bakugou doesn’t know what he’d do with himself if he were openly pitied by fucks like them.

The old Class B kids giving him a wide berth is fine too. That kid with the teeth, whatever Kendou called him, keeps shooting Bakugou these distrustful looks but it’s not as if Bakugou hasn’t fielded those before. Ignoring people works wonders because now the responsibility of instigation sits on their shoulders, so if someone starts some shit Bakugou is totally within his rights to end it.

No, the problem is with the ones who insist on talking to him.

One day Tetsutetsu shuffles his way over to Bakugou’s desk during lunch and the entire room braces for a storm. The two haven’t ever really worked at disliking each other but it seems to happen naturally, their similarly short tempers burning down each other’s fuses until nothing but dynamite remains. Bakugou is already a wreck, a powder keg seeking an excuse to blow, seething with the contrary combination of guilt and the defensive self-righteousness of a person who hadn’t actually meant to hurt anybody. Which he didn’t. And he’s pissed off that some people are still acting like he did.

Tetsutetsu stands over Bakugou’s desk, arms folded and sneering, neither meeting the other’s eyes until Tetsutetsu finally growls, “I don’t know what the fuck I did but I’m sorry, alright?”

Bakugou glares up at him, then goes back to his lunch. “The back of my neck.”

Tetsutetsu starts, like he hadn’t expected an answer. Probably hadn’t. Bakugou hasn’t done a lot of talking lately. “Uh, what?”

“You grabbed the back of my neck. Don’t do that.” Bakugou stuffs an egg roll into his mouth, keeping his head down.

Tetsutetsu scratches his cheek before shrugging and turning away. “Fine.”

Bakugou grits his teeth before slamming his chopsticks down atop his desk. “I’m sorry,” he spits out, because the words taste bad. They dredge up a whole lot of shame he’d rather leave buried, but, well. Gotta excise a wound before you can heal it, or whatever Zento said. No point being a fucking wimp about it. “I didn’t- I wasn’t going for- that. For what happened to you.”

“Yeah, I figured that out, honor roll.”

Bakugou jerks his head up.

Tetsutetsu sniffs and looks away from him, arms crossed so tightly Bakugou’s pretty sure one flex will rip his shirt. “I mean. Obviously, right? Who’d blow up their own gut just to win a sparring match? Even you aren’t that nuts.”

“I would’ve won anyway,” Bakugou snorts.

“We’ll see about that, asshole!” Tetsutetsu jabs a finger in Bakugou’s direction, scowling. “I’ll forgive you for what happened, but your ass is still nowhere near good enough for Kirishima. I’ll beat you into shape.”

“What are you, his mother? Get a fucking life, hardhead. You’re already banging Kendou, you don’t get to suck Kirishima’s dick too.”

“Please stop talking about me like I’m meat,” Kendou sighs, kicking the back of Bakugou’s chair.

“Besides, I thought all Kirishima-dick-sucking rights were reserved solely for Blasty McSplode!” Sero calls.

Iida comes all the way from the other classroom to yell about not throwing your chair at people.

 


 

“Erm, Bakugou?” His door creaks open. “Are you in here?”

Bakugou’s expecting it, so his blood doesn’t start boiling like it usually does when he has to speak to Deku without any warning. “What do you want,” Bakugou mutters as he checks his homework with a calculator. The idiot parade will definitely need tutoring on this chapter. Maybe he can foist Kaminari and Ashido off on someone else.

Deku wastes time shifting around in the doorway before coming into Bakugou’s room and shutting the door behind himself, lowering his voice. “So you…so you figured it out?”

Bakugou huffs, eyes flicking up to Deku before he glares back down at his homework again. “Figured what out? You fucking told me. And you yell ‘smash’ before you fuckin’ hit anything, a goddamn baby would figure it out after that.”

“Er.” Deku scratches the back of his neck. “Well- I just wanted- I need to check and make sure you won’t…”

When Deku doesn’t continue Bakugou closes his eyes, summons up all the limited patience he has at his disposal and looks up at this fucking nerd eyesore intruding into his space. “Won’t what? Tell anyone?”

Deku shifts his weight again.

“You shouldn’t have fucking told me.

“I know,” Deku murmurs down at his socked feet. “I didn’t want you to think I was- that I was trying to trick you or anything.”

“Well you should’ve fucking just let me think that.” Bakugou snaps his book shut, lip curling. Now he’s getting pissed, because this goes beyond Deku being Deku and straight into fucking dumb reckless idiot territory. “I don’t know how it gets passed on, but I think I can fucking guess what would happen if the world found out it could be passed on. You’d have every motherfucker after your ass trying to take it from you, am I right? Probably some sickos who’d want to dissect All Might to see if they can figure out from him too.”

“More or less, yeah, that would probably happen,” Deku sighs, rubbing his neck again.

“And that’d put anybody around you in harm’s way. Everybody at school, your loser friends- your fucking mom, she’d be in danger too.” Bakugou glowers. “You put your mom at risk because you thought my feelings were hurt.”

Deku shifts. “I know, I know. It was a mistake. I just…”

Bakugou glares for a moment longer before he opens his book back up. “I’m not gonna tell anyone. But if I end up having to lie about it then I’m gonna be real goddamn pissed off, you hear me? So fucking watch it from now on. If I could figure it out, then someone else could too.”

“Right.” Deku fiddles with his scarred hand, cracking his knuckles before he turns and opens the door. “You probably don’t want to hear it, but…thanks for keeping it secret, Bakugou.”

“Don’t call me that.”

Deku pauses halfway out the door. Bakugou studiously keeps his head down. “Thanks, um, Kacchan?”

“Whatever.”

The click of his door closing is quiet. Bakugou stares unseeing at his homework in his lap and wonders if that was one of those ‘proper conversations’ Deku was so fucking thirsty for.

 


 

One night the dreams are bad, but Kirishima doesn’t wake up. Bakugou heads to the kitchen and finds Uraraka sitting at the table, facedown with her head buried in her arms, shoulders shaking.

He passes by, turns on the lights in the kitchen and starts to cook.

 


 

His dad sits him on his lap while they eat together. Bakugou leans back against his chest, too tired to be tough, too cried out to care.

Food’s pretty amazing, huh son?”

Bakugou just shovels some rice into his mouth. It’s warm and soft.

When things are hard, sometimes all you need to feel better is a good meal.”

His dad’s chest is big and warm and soft. Bakugou’s face feels sore, his nose still running and his eyes swollen halfway shut. He sniffs hard, picking grains of rice up with his fingers, chopsticks abandoned. His dad lets him.

You know, your mama loves you, even when you fight.”

Mama hates me and I hate Mama,” Bakugou mutters.

Now, that’s not even close to true.” His dad kisses the top of his head and scoops some of his own rice into Bakugou’s bowl. “You guys just fight hard. You do everything the hard way. But that means you’ll love just as hard, too.”

Bakugou sniffs again.

I’m sorry, buddy,” his dad murmurs, and sets his bowl aside to wrap both arms around Bakugou and hold him tight. Bakugou keeps trying to feed himself but it’s hard, his dad’s arms are very big. “I know it’s hard for you to say what you mean. You get that from me.”

Bakugou stares down into his bowl, at his father’s rice that his mother made.

But your old man can love pretty hard too. And your mom and I both love you with everything we have.”

 


 

Uraraka looks up when Bakugou sets a bowl of rice and stir fry in front of her. Her eyes are red and swollen, her nose running.

Bakugou sits across from her and plunks the soy sauce between them.

Uraraka sniffs. Wipes her nose on her sleeve, picks up her chopsticks, and eats. She keeps casting watery glances up at him before sniffing hard and asking, “Did you have a nightmare?”

He grunts.

She chews on her lip. “…me too.”

Bakugou spares her a glance. Holds her eyes, and when she gets back to her food he huffs and thunks an elbow on the table in annoyance. “Well? Are you gonna fucking talk about it or what?”

The shock on her face is not appreciated in the least, but he supposes he really can’t entirely blame her.

 


 

“I passed! I passed! Bakugou, I did it!”

“Of course you did it,” Bakugou scoffs. “Did you think I’d be fucking bad at tutoring? Fuck you.”

“Heh heh,” Ashido giggles, grinning down at her test paper. “I’m setting a new goal: no more failing scores this semester!”

“Idiot.” Bakugou flicks her forehead. “Try the rest of your fucking high school career.”

“What the hell is this?!” Ashido screeches, grabbing for his own test paper. “You got a perfect score! Bakugou! What is this?!”

“The fucking natural order, what’s it look like?” Bakugou snatches his paper back and stuffs it into his books. “I’m going to beat out that ponytail rich girl as best grades in our year.”

“Um, didn’t you drop down to fourth…?”

“Do you wanna die?”

 


 

“I figured out what I like.”

“Wha-huh? What?” Kirishima yawns and rolls over. “Man, I was almost asleep.”

Bakugou makes an impatient noise. “Sleep later. Pay attention to me. I said I figured out what I like.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“When we got together, dumbass. I told you I didn’t know.”

“Uh?” Kirishima’s eyes roll up before he yawns right in Bakugou’s face and slides an arm over his side. This must be what lion tamers feel like. “Oh right, right, I remember that. You said we might as well date if we were gonna just be bored anyhow. Which like, charmed the frick outta me dude, I’m just saying-”

“I like muscles.”

“Oh.” Kirishima grins sleepily, flexing like a dumb tool. “Got it bad for these guns, huh?”

“Yeah.”

The blush on Kirishima’s face when he rubs a hand down his cheek is worth it. “C’mon Blasty, you can’t do that without any warning! When you get all straightforward like that it makes me shy.”

Bakugou idly walks his fingers up Kirishima’s side. “Nothin’ straight about it.”

“Oh my god, and now the jokes. Stop it. We’ll never get to sleep.”

“I already told you.” Bakugou rolls on top of Kirishima and braces himself on his chest. “Sleep later.”

“Compelling argument! I agree.” Kirishima wraps his arms around Bakugou’s waist and that is just perfect, thick forearms, rough hands, sharp teeth and soft eyes barely lit by the moonlight sneaking in past his curtains. “Sleep later.”

Kaminari kicks the wall twice before they finally call it a night.

 


 

Without warning, Bakugou’s bedroom door slams open.

I’ll fucking kill you,” Bakugou howls, and hurls a book at Kaminari’s stupid fucking face.

“Dude- ow, man, stop!” Kaminari fends off the rest of the projectiles before shooting Bakugou a smug grin. “Sero beat your high score in Street Fighter.”

“What?!” Bakugou leaps up and hurtles past Kaminari. “Fuck that! Motherfucker, I’ll kill you both!

Bakugou doesn't go to bed until three in the morning, but once he does the top high scores read as follows:

F.U.K.

Y.O.U.

S.O.Y.

S.A.U.

C.E.F.

A.C.E.

 


 

Get the cuffs on him already, he won’t do anything with his hands bound. Christ, it’s like you guys’ve never taken a hostage before.”

Toga never has! Usually they’re too dead. And this one’s not even cute. No blood at all! Can I stab him a little?”

Gentle! Be gentle. Shigaraki wants to talk to him personally.”

Get the fuck off me! Get the fuck off of me!”

Can we gag him?”

Of course not. He’s our guest.”

Great! That’s terrible.”

Why so frightened, kid? It’s just like the sports festival again, right? I mean, we’re not even putting a muzzle on you. Kinda sick of the heroes to do that, in my opinion, but what can you do?”

I’m not fucking scared of you. I’ll tear you assholes to pieces. I’ll fucking blow this fucking building sky high, motherfuckers, come at me! Fucking try me!”

This is almost too sad to watch. Okay, get him in the chair. Strap him down. We’ll take shifts; Twice, you’re first.”

What?! Okay.”

Mr. Compress, if you’d take shift two? I’ll do three, we’ll work it out from there. I need a drink.”

Hold on, I didn’t know you guys were gonna go party! Save me something. Toga, would you save me something?”

Toga can’t drink, so you can have hers.”

Cool.”

The door shuts and leaves him alone in the dark, strapped to a chair, for hours and hours and-

 


 

Bakugou wakes up.

He can breathe. His eyes adjust to the dark and he sees no shapes in the shadows. A little sweat dampens his hair, but not enough to disturb him. He pushes himself up to sit and listens.

A muffled thump from Kirishima’s room.

His feet carry him before he fully wakes to Kirishima’s door. He lets himself in without preamble and sees Kirishima, there in bed, jerking and gasping and dead asleep.

See there? You do it too.

Before UA, everyone else was just a pebble on the side of the road. Everyone else was just a stepping stone.

“Hey,” Bakugou whispers, closing the door quietly behind himself and stepping over Kirishima’s stupid hand weights that he’s probably stubbed his toe on to crouch by the bed. Kirishima’s half-armored so Bakugou is careful, keeps his wits sharp and eyes open as he reaches out to touch Kirishima’s shoulder and shake him awake.

Kirishima doesn’t flail when he wakes but he does cry out, and Bakugou chases after his flinch with his hands on his shoulders. “It’s just me,” he murmurs. “It’s me.”

“Bakugou,” Kirishima pants. He looks at one of his hardened fists and drops his quirk, rubbing at his forehead and wilting back onto the bed. “Jesus. It was a dream. Bad dream. I’m okay.”

“Yeah,” Bakugou says. He picks up the covers and slides underneath; Kirishima scoots over to make room for him and Bakugou reaches again, pulls Kirishima half onto his chest as he rolls onto his back. “What was it about?”

“Nothing,” Kirishima mutters into his shoulder. Bakugou doesn’t even have to shift his weight before he caves. “I mean, yeah. Something. That…villain boss guy, and he was- he was killing everybody and I kept hearing your voice, and I couldn’t find you and Iida and Todoroki just died right there, while I was looking, and.” He rubs his forehead again. “That creep’s in jail. I know.”

“Probably rest a little better if his ass was dead,” Bakugou sniffs. Kirishima doesn’t say anything to that. “Go back to sleep.”

“Can’t.”

“Then just be quiet. I’m goin’ back to sleep.” But he doesn’t, not for a while, and he strokes a hand up and down Kirishima’s back under his shirt until he hears Kirishima’s breathing even out.

Stepping stones.

I’ve changed, Bakugou realizes, quietly, with certainty.

Tiny moments assembling something greater.

Kirishima murmurs sleepily, cheek against Bakugou's shoulder, hand smoothing across the planes of his chest before stilling over his heart.

Bakugou counts his inhales like counting sheep and somehow that, the knowledge that Kirishima, that twenty other students in this building and forty students in their year are still drawing breath tonight, helps set him at ease.

And so he rests.