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see the love there that's sleeping

Chapter Text

Kaminari checks the room number, then the slip of paper in his hands, and then the room number again.

The corners of the note are wrinkled, poorly pressed and flattened over by his own fidgeting thumbs. Nobody is here to watch him stand around in front of a door, letting the seconds bleed into minutes. He pulls at his gloves, itching to pace and figure out where exactly he had slipped up in his life decisions to end up in front of a hospital room with someone waiting on the other side.

Most people would be working right now. The hall is empty except for him, the afternoon rush of hospital visitors and families fading out into a graveyard of carts rolling through the adjacent corridor, glossed over with the diluted smell of antiseptic. Not the best analogy to use for this setting, but this institution's hospice was a few blocks away, so he wouldn't be offending anybody looking to pass into the next life peacefully.

The door opens before him, and a nurse emerges. She spots Kaminari immediately. "Hello, are you visiting?"

He glances at the paper that the lady in charge of the front desk had given him, just to make sure, and nods.

His presence must've been expected. There's no further questioning from the nurse. “Quite a friend you have here, not even an injury like this could dampen that temper of his,” she tells him, smiling kindly as though she hadn't been one of the nurses present during the outburst that Kaminari had been informed about, “Funny, he was admitted this morning, and is already demanding to leave. The doctor hasn't even been gone for an hour.” It must be refreshing to have been assigned a patient that wasn’t required to stay the whole day, especially one that was a full-fledged hero showing positive results in his tests. A lucky break, compared to most hero injuries to this scale.

Kaminari looks over to the double doors where he'd entered from, and where he’d last seen the doctor. "Yeah, he told me about the situation."

She nods in understanding, "Then that saves me the trouble of bringing you up to speed.” With a quick peek over her shoulder, she holds the door open wider, “We didn't have to put him to sleep for the procedure thanks to one of our nurse’s quirks, so would you like to come in? I'm sure he would like the company."

Kaminari highly doubts he would like to see him here, but accepts the kind gesture, having already gone through the trouble of getting here from his apartment a good half hour away. "Oh, um. Thanks."

After ushering him in, the nurse shuts the door behind her and leaves, sealing his fate. It's unlocked, offering a means of escape if he finally accepts that this is a very bad idea and makes the safe decision to leave and put this all behind him.

The room originally meant for two patients now only holds one, occupying the bed nearest to the window. The view isn't the clearest, buildings and telephone poles blocking out most of the city's beauty. At the root, it's homeーmuch like what being with Bakugou used to feel like.

Not much has changed about Bakugou. Kaminari still can’t quite shake off the ease of familiarity that settles in when he spots him in the corner of the room. Had it been someone else, a warm reunion and open arms would've been taking place right now. Contrary to the view outside and Kaminari’s own hopeful daydreaming, Bakugou’s crossed arms offered no promise of a homely greeting or welcome. Hospitals weren’t meant to comfort, but to be a place for healingーor the other alternative that serves as a distant, unspoken promise for everyoneーwhite walls and sparsely cushioned chairs providing little comfort to body and heart.

"So how'd you get hurt this time?" Kaminari asks, peering over at the medical instruments sitting off to the side, lit up with words and numbers he never bothered to study for basic health care. Unorthodox methods of first aid on the field didn’t require understanding convoluted machines, aside from the heart monitor, keeping track of Bakugou's steady heartbeat.

Bakugou doesn't acknowledge him with his eyes, keeping them on some far point in the sky, perhaps looking somewhere beyond all the obstructions. "I don't need you here." Curt and to the point.

Kaminari holds off on cracking any sort of joke, already expecting the snappy attitude. "Why am I still the only person on your emergency contact then? I would've thought you'd replaced me with your mom by now, or at least added her as a backup." Who in the world would even put their boyfriend as higher priority over their own mom?

Well, ex-boyfriend.

"I would've given them her number if the nurses actually bothered to fucking talk to me," Bakugou growls under his breath. He picks at the bandages obscuring his fingers, stiff as they are. His heart rate doesn't spike, not like how it did the moment Kaminari had walked in. It had been a quiet bleep, a momentary increase in speed that Kaminari had caught at the last second, moving along the screen before disappearing.

"Considering I overheard how you were giving them death threats earlier, I doubt you were in the mood to talk civilly." Kaminari shoves his gloved hand into his pockets, taking the seat placed beside the bed and crossing his feet at the ankles. He doesn't want to come off as rude, like Bakugou, so he tries his best to tone down the coarseness in his words the next time he speaks. After all, he really is worried about Bakugou's wellbeing. "You seem calmer than normal, even with your back and all."

Bakugou's stiff form and the pillows that prop him up into an angled sitting position to prevent unnecessary pressure on his back give away his discomfort. Bakugou sighs, a deep release of air that takes all the weight from his shoulders. He sinks into the bed as best he can, giving Kaminari a full view of his face. A halo of light from the sun turns the ends of his blond hair white, and his eyes glow ten shades brighter.

"Life gets a bit sobering after someone tries twisting your body like a pretzel," Bakugou grudgingly admits, clearly bitter about the subject. He itches at the bandages circling his head, freshly changed and safely stopping the flow of blood that had stained his hair crimson. The bruises and cuts would fade with time, unlike the more urgent injuries that had sent him to the emergency room.

Kaminari had seen the news, and withholds a shudders at the reminder. That's certainly what it had looked like on the live feed, bloody and all too quick for anyone to register before the screaming started.

"Do you need help getting changed?" He offers, knowing that asking further for more details would result in Bakugou clamping up. Considering he lost and ended up in the hospital while others cleaned up the mess, his pride has surely taken a beating.

Bakugou's eyes leave the window to regard him with a weary look, and Kaminari finds himself staring at the nasty swelling under his left eye. He couldn't exactly call Bakugou lucky for avoiding a black eye when he'd just dodged a bullet with paralysis.

Out of reluctance at the thought of being checked out by his mother of all people, Bakugou asks, "Did they really call my mom?"

Kaminari would've felt a sliver of remorseーas he's seen Bakugou take the brunt of Mitsuki’s temper when they clashed in the pastーinstead, he feels none, knowing that this wasn't the case.

There's a hint of Bakugou’s normal self there, questioning the idea as one he’s wholly against. Having to be wheeled out by his mother would surely be a sight for everyone. Kaminari smiles at that. "Nope. I took today off from work to bring you home." He gets up, ready to head to the door and ask for Bakugou's belongings.

"Why?" He catches Bakugou sit up, curiosity in his question and caution in the way he moves. Two weeks in the hospital would make anyone antsy and ready to leave at the first chance. Predictably, however, Bakugou could see that there was a catch.

"Doctor's orders. So just sit tight, I'll be back in five minutes," Kaminari keeps the mood light in the face of Bakugou's disinclination. Saying he wanted to help out would only sound like pity. Besides, Bakugou must've already put two and two together as to why Kaminari was really here, and not going on with his life as he'd been doing for the past year since they'd broken up.

 


 

"So he's going to be fine, right? This won't affect his job?" were the first things that came out of Kaminari's mouth after running into Bakugou's temporary physician earlier that morning.

The doctor was someone Kaminari has met once or twice before, but had yet to catch the name of. While names weren't normally his forte, Kaminari still tried his best to remember faces at the very least. Few people asked Kaminari for his name anymore when he passed through restricted zones. Between frequenting this hospital, bringing over friends and injured civilians alike, and helping out during the occasional power outage, Kaminari wasn't all too surprised to find a familiar face taking care of Bakugou.

For future reference, Kaminari checks his name tag. Abe Hikaru. Easy enough to remember if he repeated it a few times in his head.

"He'll have to take it easy these next few weeks, so that means no strenuous physical labor." Abe hands Kaminari a few papers, presumably holding a breakdown the state and analysis of Bakugou's injury, judging from the thickness. Kaminari flips through it, stopping at the bolded words in the doctor's personal notes. 

Patient must refrain from participating in strenuous physical activities for the next four weeks, or until physical therapy has been scheduled with his doctor.

"So, in other words, no hero work? Bakugou isn't going to like that," Kaminari says to Abe, looking up. He knows just how important being a hero is to Bakugou. It was weird for Kaminari to skip coming to work today and not be on patrol; he could hardly fathom how Bakugou was going to feel after being told he couldn't go to work for at least a month, if he was lucky.

"Also, one more question. Why did you ask me to stick around?" He had already signed the release papers earlier to allow Bakugou permission to leave alone per his own request. They had asked him to stay and speak to Bakugou’s doctor before he left the floor, however.

Kaminari looks down at the old t-shirt and jeans he'd thrown on in his rush to get here, still asleep and in bed at the time that the hospital had called. Not exactly the first impression he wanted to give if they really did run into each other. Then again, why should it matter? It's not like Bakugou would care.

Abe is more than happy to explain. "I could only cancel out the pain so it doesn't register in the patient's nerves, while still allowing the healing process to take place. In Bakugou's case, I've stemmed the pain so his spinal nerves wouldn't sense it in his lower half, keeping everything else was left the same."

The ability to stop the body from reacting to pain through isolation sounds dangerous, but Kaminari is sure this guy wouldn't have become a doctor if he didn't know how to take the proper precautions.

"I would like to say that the injury is concentrated in a small area, but unfortunately, with the intent of the villain being spine curvature through brute force, Bakugou’s whole lumbar and much of his thoracic spine will take some serious healing,” Abe warns him. “For the time being, he has full function of his legs. I recommend that Bakugou use a wheelchair for the first couple of days to avoid unnecessary strain. As you’d expect, one side effect is that patients tend to forget that they are injured, and make it worse by moving around too much.” Sounds like he speaks from previous experience.

Kaminari takes the words to heart, aware of Bakugou’s streak of doing the opposite of what he's told, "Yeah, knowing Bakugou, he'd get up and walk out of here if he could."

"The other side effect is that he'll experience muscle weakness in his lower back and legs. It’s what he would be feeling right now if not for my quirk, which passes the pain off as numbness until the healing process is well underway.”

"But why are you telling me this?" Kaminari asks, still confused. He could've read up on all this when he got home, or called the hospital if he had any lingering questions. In case some life-or-death decision came into play, Kaminari was just here because he was obligated to sign some papers, right?

Abe hesitates for a moment at that, and Kaminari feels the dread creeping up. This could only mean one thing.

"The physical trauma he experienced today will leave him with aches and pains in the following weeks once the numbing effects wear off. This means that he'll have trouble sitting and walking, or doing basic everyday chores until he comes back for checkup, and eventually, therapy. Which is why I need you to take watch over him until then."

"Come again?" Apparently the contract included being Bakugou's caretaker if he ever needed one, which was the exact case Kaminari was being presented.

 


 

A quick stop to the bathroom for a breather and a fair amount of stalling for four minutes later, Kaminari comes back down the hall, knocking to announce his presence at the door, “Hey Bakugou, mind if I come in?”

“No.”

Kaminari enters, brightening up slightly at Bakugou wearing his casual clothing, legs hanging off the now-made cot. He has to wonder where they had come from. Bakugou’s agency had to have provided them without question.

The nurses had made quick work of removing the tubes and IV connecting Bakugou to the machines, wheeling away the monitors to make room for the one thing that hadn't been here five minutes ago. A wheelchair, to serve as a temporary transport. Bakugou looks at it with the intent of something not far off from murder.

“Too bad it's not decked out with some cool drink holders or a joystick,” Kaminari says, taking ahold of the handles and pushing it closer to the bed.

They were provided a standard one out of courtesy, made to be returned the next time they stopped by, whenever that was. Kaminari dreads the day that he’ll have to bring Bakugou back here for an appointment. He’s rude around doctors who know more than him.

Bakugou stops the chair with a foot on the wheel, “That's stupid. I don't need that.” White gauze peeks out from where his loafers and pants meet, and Kaminari remembers a twisted ankle included on the list of miscellaneous injuries taken from the fight. Bandaged as it may be, the doctor is no Recovery Girl.

Kaminari rolls his eyes, feeling the heavy weight of Bakugou’s mood begin to push down on his reasoning. “So you're saying you can walk out this door? Actually, let me rephrase that: are you allowed to walk out this door?”

He knows the answer, and Bakugou’s lack of one. Kaminari puts the wheelchair parallel to the bed. “I’ll take that as a no. Relax, there's nothing wrong with trying to lighten the mood. It's just a wheelchair.”

And a reminder that screams to Bakugou that he’s lost in the worst way possible. Kaminari sees the frustration in his white-knuckled grip. He doesn't take well to the joke. Well, it was worth a go.

Kaminari wants to be the comforting, upbeat guy here, but excuses aren't what Bakugou is looking for. Bakugou wants it told to him straight, and he's got it. It's obvious he's not taking it well.

If Kaminari looks on the bright side, a wheelchair is way better than a gurney, or whatever has to happen that ends you up in the kinds of gurney nobody wants to check for identification.

Still...

“Yeah, I guess it does suck,” Kaminari says. Discomfort would be an understatement to describe the face Bakugou pulls once he's situated. Feet set off the ground, it’s hard to miss the smoke gathering in his hands, nails digging into the armrests as the chair is pushed forward, out the door. “Don't worry, I won't be cutting any corners.”

“Try it, and you're dead,” Bakugou tacks on a threat to the promise, assuring pain if it’s broken.

Kaminari makes a turn at the next hallway, keeping well away from the wall, “I think we've both had our share of scares for the day.”

Bakugou’s desire to leave outweighs his standoffish attitude at the nurses fretting over him. He endures it up until the final doors, not answering the wishes of good luck and smooth recovery and definitely not the stir of reporters that fill the hall they're redirected from. Like earlier, the hospital’s back lobby is barren of people, a good thing.

Leaving the hospital is easy enough. The second the two are out of sight, Bakugou’s penchant for refusing help rears its mighty head, and Kaminari has to think twice on his words.

When Kaminari offers Bakugou a hand in getting from his wheelchair to the passenger seat of his two-door, the shiny paint job gets some new scorch marks, so he leaves Bakugou to do it himself, not wanting anything else on his only car to explode or catch fire.

“Keep it down, stupid,” Kaminari hisses from the rear, “unless you'd like to appear on TV again. And not in a good way.”

The last thing Kaminari wants is to be swarmed by people. Bakugou slams the door, keeping his hands to himself after that.

Kaminari clicks his tongue in annoyance, finding the wheelchair refusing to fold to his will. Bakugou continues to sit pretty in the car as Kaminari wrestles with his first of many problems, not lifting a finger to help. Not that Kaminari needed it, really.

He feels around its metal frame to find the lock clamping down on the wheels, and unclasps it. That seems to do the trick. The chair collapses into itself to fit the trunk, and while he does have some trouble shutting it, piles of old CDs and clothes poking outーas Kaminari was neglected to be told ahead of time that he'd have to shove a whole wheelchair into his car, which would have given him enough leeway to make room for itーhe's eventually able to get the back closed.

He may have worked up a little sweat from one task. Sitting less than two feet away from Bakugou when he climbs into the driver’s seat serves to make Kaminari’s hands overly clammy as he turns on the engine and exits the hospital parking lot.

"So how long are you be on my ass?" Kaminari is busy adjusting the radio to a suitable station that isn't blasting pop or metal, which happened to be the only stations he had, so he's surprised to find Bakugou actually talking to him, red eyes sizing him up.

He checks his side mirror to avoid that piercing gaze. "I may have cleared my schedule for all of this week... and the rest of the month."

His agency wasn't so happy to hear that one of their heroes was going on leave, but Kaminari honestly couldn't remember the last time he’d gone on vacation to do something. Taking care of an injured ex certainly wasn't at the top of his listーthinking about it now, he'd rank it fairly low, well under bungee jumping and learning how to snowboardーthis is a chance Kaminari can't pass up, to have some time to spend with Bakugou, as unapproachable and rude as he was being.

Kaminari doesn't have to look at Bakugou's face to know that he isn’t happy either, so he turns up the radio a little louder and keeps his eyes fixed on the road until the light finally turns green so he can concentrate on driving and not the unbreakable gaze locked on him.

 


 

They arrive at the high rise apartment located in the center of the city with ease, at a time long before noon. Taking the elevator is a relief so Kaminari won't have to face the death trap that would be transporting Bakugou to his place by stairs. Bakugou had thrown a hissy fit at having to utilize the wheelchair again, but a threat to call up his doctor had him clamping his mouth shut, ignoring any hands that reached for him when he appeared to be having trouble getting into the seat.

Arriving at the correct floor, Kaminari brings Bakugou to the second door on the right. He leans on the handlebars, fixing the wheel lock in place as Bakugou checks his pockets for the keys; this is one of those times that he’s left it inside, coming up empty and turning his head as best he can to look at Kaminari.

Bakugou has locked them out before, but Kaminari has to ask to make sure they're both on the same page, and that this isn't an illusion where Bakugou is asking him for help, “What?”

Bakugou snorts, “What do you think? You gonna make me bend down and get it myself?”

He’s infuriating, but serves a valid point. Kaminari refrains from sticking his tongue at him like a child, “Right…”

Kaminari shifts his grip on the rubber handles of the chair, using the hard tip of his shoe to peel away the corner of the doormat that wasn’t stuck under a wheel.

There's the glint of the spare key stuck onto the back, still in its usual spot. Kaminari stoops down to remove it, wiping the grime off while he's at it, and passes it over. Bakugou meets it with a glare. His place took up a whole floor, and required identification for access, so a doormat was quite out of place to have. Their fingers brush, and Kaminari can feel their heat. Bakugou is quick to take the key from him and cut off the contact before either can linger for long.

Once the door swings open, Bakugou removes the lock and grabs the push rings, steering himself through the door with unpracticed ease, leaving Kaminari standing at the entrance. Kaminari had planned on pushing him inside. Things are well under control here, apparently.

Bakugou glides down and turns to enter wide hall that leads to his bedroom, but not before making a point to stop and leave his hearing aids beside where his forgotten keys are sitting in a glass bowl, like they were a hassle to bother wearing. Guess he wasn't in the mood for talking.

Following the fade of squeaking wheels down the corridor, Kaminari flicks the lock of the front door, looking around at the organized mess that makes up the entrance. Shoes of similar designs scatter the ground, and old jackets hang from the single hook coat rack. In the kitchen, mail and scraps take up the counter space, neatly stacked. Bakugou never liked putting stuff back where they belonged when it involved sorting through fan letters, unless it was trash.

He leaves it for Bakugou to clean before going to check the fridge. Kaminari was right to assume that he’d have a fridge full of raw ingredients instead of the ready-made frozen meals and takeout orders that makes up Kaminari’s diet. That would mean turning on the stove instead of the microwave, or be faced with all this food going to waste. He scratches at his head, pulling up the recipe app that he’d readily downloaded for this situation.

This was already making out to be a tough vacation.

 


 

The next morning, Kaminari makes a quick stop at Kirishima's house for an inspiring pep talk before he heads over to Bakugou's place.

He was ready to face Bakugou when he'd left the house. In approaching the first intersection, the light had hardly changed from red to green before he'd made an immediate sharp left, tail between his legs. Wasting time and leeching some cheap coffee off his friend was the best way to avoid his responsibilities, much like every adult his age.

"How long has it been since you last talked?" Kirishima offers him a cup, and Kaminari takes it, pushing himself up onto his elbows to cradle the warm drink. "And by that, I mean engage in a friendly conversation that ended peacefully. Almost a year now?"

Tetsutetsu was in the kitchen, cooking while they chatted. It wasn't unusual to see the guy using his bare hands while cooking, quirk useful for handling anything hot or above boiling point. As weird and unhygienic as it sounds, Tetsu is real strict about his cleanliness, so he gets an okay from Kaminari. That, and his food tasted good.

Kaminari lets the sounds of chicken being fried and the steady pop of rice heating up in a cooker fill the silence, and remembers that he needs to stop by for groceries for his place. He plans to go back to cooking again, currently living off takeout and microwave meals as a hero with a steadily growing paycheck, possessing very little incentive to eat like one. Extra practice at home wouldn’t hurt.

It must help greatly to share the rent and chores with someone else. Maybe he should find a roommate too. Being the equivalent of a warden for Bakugou doesn't really count.

"Sure feels longer than that," Kaminari says with a sigh, thinking about how easy it would be to step into Kirishima's shoes for a day. Then again, he shouldn't go around daydreaming all the time. He's done his share of that this past year.

"How did you even get permission to be his caretaker? You aren't even immediate family,” Kirishima wonders, stirring his coffee drowned in creamers and sugar.

"You think Bakugou is gonna want to be babied by his mom? At twenty-two?" Kaminari asks, making sure they were talking about the same Bakugou here.

Bakugou had been the first to get his own apartment, the first to move out of his parent's place instead of sticking around like the rest of themーTodoroki and a few others were exception by default due to family issues. Impressive and as expected of one of the top students in the class, Bakugou was already engaging in fieldwork long before graduation, coupled with his duties as a third-year Yuuei student. He loved working himself like a dog for what he wanted.

Kirishima takes a moment to consider it, and nods agreeably, "Yeah, you're right. You sure you don't want to talk about stuff?”

“No, not yet,” Kaminari says, shrugging off the offer. He didn't want his mood to plummet before seeing Bakugou.

Kirishima grins, “Take all the time you need, man. I'm not gonna force you if it's too soon.”

“Thanks,” Kaminari smiles back, bringing the cup of lukewarm coffee to his lips, “you're a sweetheart, you know that?”

“I do, how nice of you to remind me. Tetsu doesn't say it enough.” Kirishima turns his gaze to his boyfriend not-so-subtly listening in.

“That's because you always give me that face!” Even with a hand in a vat of boiling water, it doesn't reach the same furious red coloring Tetsutetsu’s face. He’s arms deep in the sink, getting more flustered than he already is when he says, “You know I’m embarrassed about it, Eijirou!” For being such a tough guy, he has quite the soft heart for his boyfriend.

“He gets so red, sometimes I worry he’s gonna faint,” Kirishima whispers to him, determined not to let it be drowned out by Tetsutetsu’s yelling.

Kaminari's alarm goes off, set to remind him that he should start heading out soon. He takes out his phone, checking the time, “Well, I guess it's time to go."

"Already?" Kirishima sits up, looking at the clock nailed to the wall. Not even ten minutes have passed since Kaminari had come through the door. “I guess you won't be coming around often to hang anymore?"

"Dude, nothing could keep me away from your crappy coffee!" He laughs, pulling Kirishima into a hug once he sees the crestfallen look on his face. "I'll be back tomorrow. I’ve earned this quality time off."

Kirishima lifts him up for good measure like he weighs nothing. "Only you would call this 'quality time off.' Bakugou doesn't deserve you, you're too lenient,” he laughs, meaning no harm or foul in his words.

He knows that Kaminari is just what Bakugou needs to get some sense smacked into him. Kaminari wasn't the only one Bakugou has been trying to avoid latelyーas a co-worker, it’s difficult to avoid Kirishima and Tetsutetsu, and Kaminari works at a agency in a whole other part of the cityーbut Kirishima has made a point not to be ignored by Bakugou in the workplace.

"Good luck babysitting!"

Kaminari says his goodbyes to Kirishima once he's set back down, and waves to Tetsutetsu on the way out, who returns it weakly, too embarrassed to lift his head from the food he's cooking. He wants to make a comment on how great the food smells, only for his stomach disagree with a questionable gurgling noise. Anything could come back up if he doesn't get a damn grip on his thoughts.

He was going to need all the luck in the world.

 


 

Kaminari stands at Bakugou’s door, unsettled by the repetitive theme of dealing with closed doors. The whole saying about “opening new doors to new possibilities” or whatever doesn't work here, not when he's already fairly acquainted with this place. This is surely a chance he has to take, one he can't let slip past his fingers.

For what reason? Maybe the glimmer of hope that he'd get to finally figure out the real reason Bakugou had broken up with him, or at least settle their issues and leave it as friends.

Kinda hard to do when he's still got feelings for Bakugou.

He ruffles his hair, annoyed with himself. That shouldn't be a priority. Bakugou had made it clear that he didn't want to continue the arrangement, although he was extremely vague in his reasoning, which was odd. The focus now should be gaining back Bakugou’s full trust. He's got some of itーnot enough to bring up their relationship in casual conversation and expect an answer.

Thinking about it that way, it almost sounds like Kaminari is doing this for his own gain. But he's not. He truly cares about helping Bakugou get better too, he reminds himself, lessening the anxiety welling up within him.

Kaminari stares down the door, squaring his shoulders. “Right, okay. Don't mess this up, Denki. Just be nice, make conversation. Compliment him on his hair-” and he stops, shaking his head of the thought, “-no, wait, those things won't work with Bakugou at all. Ah, whatever. I’ll figure it out along the way.”

He's gotten this far thanks to his own efforts. Maybe bullshitting his way through to the end won't be as counterintuitive as he'd previously thought.

Chapter Text

There wasn't much variety in Kaminari's routine when he stayed over. Breakfast, lunch, and dinnerーon the days where he found it necessary to stick around until nighttimeーwere often void of conversation.

Bakugou had once owned a modest table that seated four, hardly enough to handle a party, before one day, Kaminari had mentioned how empty it made the dining room. That old table has long since been replaced by a long table with a wax finish and intricate designs unfit for Bakugou's taste, and pleasing to the eyes for Kaminari. It makes the gap of conversation impossible large, with Bakugou sitting on the other end picking away at his food.

“Do you remember that?” Kaminari wants to ask, stirring around his food in thought. Judging by the spotless state of the table, there's no mistaking Bakugou’s care for it. Or he's keeping it just as clean as the rest of his house.

Later, Kaminari reads over the list of duties he was given by the kind nurse from the other day. A lot of them seemed unnecessary, and he sincerely feels like he'd be babying Bakugou if he put down these restrictions. Still, she’d reassured him that it would pay off in the long run.

Nothing good can possibly come out of preventing Bakugou from cooking his own food, or going outside unsupervised until he starts therapy. The list goes on with similar instructions, sophisticated yet generally put. Upon further interpretation, it all boils down to Bakugou not allowing to act without an extra hand, which gave Kaminari’s duties a lackluster look in the light of his title as caretakerーat this point, he's more of a babysitter than anything else.

He’ll believe the nurse. She knows more than him, no doubt.

Instead of continuing to stress about his warden job gone sour, he plays with his food, not as hungry for food than he is to hear what Bakugo thinks. It's not hard to stare, not when Bakugou’s got his neutral frown on, quiet in his affairs like always.

With some self-critique, Kaminari can say he actually did well on his first try making food in someone else’s kitchen. It didn't end up as the disaster he'd been expecting. Bakugou's unforgettable cooking lessons from way back had at last come in handy.

"Do you need any help?" Kaminari asks, spotting Bakugou leave the dining room, sporting a sour look. He must be bored, Kaminari can relate. Watching TV in the living room, working on paperwork at the table, or cleaning some odd mess got boring real fast after accomplishing all three in less than an hour.

"Fuck off.” No yelling, no smoke alarms going off, no desire to further the conversation beyond that.

“You're welcome for the food,” Kaminari frowns after him. Again, no reaction.

Bakugou spends all the time in between meals locked in his room, only coming out wielding his crutches and an empty stomach or full bladder. He doesn't mention any aches and pains, not that Kaminari has to worry. There's a record-low margin of error in the doctor’s estimation, so it's basically guaranteed that the quirk’s effects will last for the next week and a half.

It was like Kaminari was taking care of a dog who couldn't- who wouldn't communicate his problems. Great, now he's gone from caretaker, to babysitter, and now dog sitter.

Kaminari is willing to be patient and wait for Bakugou to come around. The guy can only go so many days without social interaction before he drops the attitude. If there's a right way to go about this, Kaminari needs to get his eyes checked, because he isn't seeing any shortcut around this.

He picks up Bakugou’s empty plate off the mat, leaving it in the sink to wash later. The television is switched on, and there's sounds of shifting as Bakugou takes a seat on the couch, tired yet restless from doing nothing. Kaminari sits his arms on the counter, settling on watching the show from the kitchen.

Bakugou needs some space and time to himself. Kaminari can't fathom Bakugou disliking his company purely out of hurt feelings. He isn't looking to interact or be friendly, forcing his words into complete ambiguousness and waiting for Kaminari to finally go away. That isn't gonna happen

Mending friendships shouldn't be the end goal here, but it sure would be a nice side goal for Kaminari.

Burned bridges don't just grow back. They have to be torn away completely before a new foundation can replace the one crumbling. An unsteady base would only create a bigger disaster the next time disaster struck. Bakugou had already done a swell job of completely cutting all contact with Kaminari before, leaving behind that unsteady base.

The only way Kaminari was going to start rebuilding was if he started persisting through each awkward encounter. He could've easily taken the slow route, gradually getting on Bakugou’s good side while giving him the necessary distance to get comfortable and do the same.

 


 

Kaminari had resigned himself to the ideaーit was what he would've liked to doーbut today, he remembers being given specific instructions from one of the nurses, and honestly, a back brace like this isn't going to be put on itself.

Bakugou doesn't look very threatening swaddled in blankets, head poking out from black sheets as he keeps his eyes trained on Kaminari. Upon spotting what's in his hands, he pulls the blanket all the way up.

Whether he likes it or not, Bakugou is going to get into this brace, even if Kaminari has to force it on him.

"C'mon, Bakugou, you have to put it on." Kaminari yanks hard, not in the mood for being refused. He was already put in a bad mood after forgetting his gloves at home.

It had taken some time to get used to seeing Bakugou every day. In Bakugou’s house, what should be his private sanctuary and something not to be infringed upon. His painful stubbornness had gotten real old after day one.

Without the sheets, Bakugou folds his arms, looking positively ticked off at being dragged out of his dwelling.

“You wanna get better, don't you?” Kaminari grills Bakugou with what should be the question that wins him over, but ridden with an injury and a quirk that slows his body, Bakugou is still quick to try and get away.

"I don't need it!" He acts like an angry cat, rolling over and nearly hissing out the words.

"Yes you do! Do you want to be a couch potato for the rest of your life!?" Kaminari catches him before he can tumble off the bed. However, without his gloves, his bare hands shock Bakugou upon contact.

The resulting shout may not have been the reaction he'd been looking for, but Bakugou will thank him for this. Maybe.

 


 

It ends up being quite the predicament. Awkward, for lack of a better word.

"Ow ow ow, fuck, I think you're doing it wrong." From above, Kaminari looks down at Bakugou, perched forward on his elbows and obviously uncomfortable with the setup. Getting him to stay still was easier than he thought once Bakugou got a taste of his electricity for the first time in a while.

"We’ll be done soon,” Kaminari tells him, focusing on the strap he puts into place, “And aren't you supposed to not feel pain?”

Bakugou looks over as best he can from his position, “I can tell when something's too tight, you know.”

Kaminari fixes his position on the bed to get a better grip. He holds Bakugou’s shoulder, a silent order to sit up, one which is slowly granted. "Chill, I've had a bit of practice. Now stay still.”

He discreetly peeks at the booklet provided in the box, turned open to a page with instructions, stealthily kept out of view so Bakugou wouldn't pop a gasket if he found out he was lying.

"Is it supposed to be this stiff?" Bakugou's whole face scrunches up when Kaminari tightens the drawstrings. He checks the tightness with two fingers, and loosens them to give Bakugou breathing room. Bakugou releases a breath, his shoulders drop a meager inch.

"'Restricting motion while also limiting flexion and extension in the lumbar spine,' is what the package says. So, yes, it is." The one-size-fits-all brace had easily slipped onto Bakugou's slim waist. He’s tensing up too much for it to be adjusted properly, so Kaminari places his palm between Bakugou’s shoulder blades. It serves the opposite effect, forcing him rigid. "Now relax, you're starting to sound like someone right out of those pornos you used to watch."

Shock and humiliation flickers over Bakugou's face, and for a moment, his body loses its rigidness. Kaminari almost bursts into laughter.

"I do not-" Kaminari secures the whole brace with one final velcro slapping into place, and Bakugou's words lose their bite to the noise that leaves his lips from gradual relief. With his back properly aligned and held into place, it’s better than when it was bent in a slouch. "Wow... that actually feels good. I think.”

Kaminari smiles at Bakugou although he isn't looking, "Told you."

Bakugou avoids his gaze for good reason, face glowing in a state of discomposure as he sits up. "Well, usually you're wrong about a lot of things. And don't fucking mention that last part out loud again. That was once, and only because you suggested it a fuckload of times and wouldn't shut up.”

He's talking about an instance back when they had been dating. Early on, in fact. This is a first that Bakugou has mentioned anything about their old relationship.

“Pinky promise, and you have my word,” Kaminari bargains, happy to keep on with this. Of course, Bakugou ignores the pinky to grab his discarded shirt. Too bad Kaminari couldn't get him out of his tank top. That would be pushing his luck, and the brace would be uncomfortable otherwise.

Kaminari sits back on his heels, watching as Bakugou pulls the shirt over his head. The pale scars on the exposed skin of Bakugou's back follow the dip and stretch of his muscles, earned from years of brawling and stopping fights in the streets, in and out of uniform, and always reckless doing so.

The name of the villain had been rendered classified, left to rot six feet under in the underground facility of Tartarus like any other evildoer who has murders to atone for. Those claws of his were no joke, stained crimson permanently by the blood of his victims.

There's a fresh scar on Bakugou’s shoulder Kaminari doesn't recall seeing before, cleaned and lightly bandaged to prevent aggravation of the skin. Blood dotted the white fabric, mapping out its shape. Starting from the collarbone, it reached around, ending between the shoulder and neck. Jagged, like someone had deliberately made the claw marks as bloody and ugly as possible. It must’ve torn right though Bakugou’s neck guard.

Kaminari reaches out to trace, to map out with his own fingers. Impatiently, Bakugou pulls down his shirt, getting it caught on the back panel of his brace. Kaminari hangs back, expecting Bakugou to leave it or angrily wrestle with his shirt until it obeyed him. Instead, Bakugou turns his head and looks at him, fingers tugging at the fabric to get his attention.

Without a word of protest, Kaminari jumps to the occasion, happy to be of help. Moving Bakugou’s hands, they’re as warm as he remembers, and for some reason, Bakugou hangs off on the chit-chat. Once the shirt is pulled down to cover the brace, Kaminari looks back at the scar. “So… you good?”

Bakugou gets up to leave. Kaminari smiles after him, not expecting an answer. Yeah, he's fine.

 


 

To Kaminari’s disappointment, Bakugou is up and about the next day like he hadn't come home with a near-broken spine. Kaminari nearly spills his coffee in his scramble to stand, spotting Bakugou ambling around like nobody's business.

“Bakugou, you shouldn't be walking! Where's your crutches?” A back brace shouldn't warrant testing the boundaries of the “confined to rest” rule placed upon him.

Box in hand, Bakugou carries it to god knows where. Like a child, he answers plainly with, “I can do whatever the hell I want. Nothing hurts.”

Kaminari drags a hand over his face, going after him. Why does he do stuff like this? It completely contradicts the nice things he does for Bakugou. He doesn't understand Bakugou’s logic sometimes. “That's because the doctor’s quirk has-”

“I know that it’s working on me, so quit babying me!” Bakugou shouts back, tossing the box into his bedroom before fixing the brace attached to him. Well, at least he's keeping to that rule.

Kaminari’s conversation with Kirishima was a foretelling of this moment.

“Can you move?” Kaminari glances up from his thoughts to see Bakugou standing in front of him. Bakugou can't leave with Kaminari blocking the way, so screw being lenient like Kirishima thought he was.

“I’m not babying you, but if you continue to make childish excuses, I’m going to treat you like one.” Kaminari stays rooted in the walkway of the hall, not budging. He knows that Bakugou isn't going to shove past him.

Kaminari knows better than to be intimidated by his height or his glare. Sure, there were instances when Bakugou would lash out when people pissed him off, and Kaminari may have been grouped onto the masses that were spooked by it, but that was high school, I-don't-need-any-friends Bakugou. Kaminari shouldn't have to be worrying about being careful with Bakugou’s every step and action anymore.

But it seems that Kaminari is wrong. This is a trace of that same Bakugou, dead-set on refusing to be treated like someone who can't take care of himself. This is the kind of attitude that draws the wrong crowd, and Kaminari isn't about to let Bakugou resort to it after all this maturing he's done. His mood swings were getting out of control.

“If it wears off and you're on your feet, I don't want to see you get hurt again,” Kaminari finally says, extending his arm that holds the crutches which he's grabbed from the couch, “At least have your crutches with you. I’ll stay off your case, but only if you're using them.” He’s looking for no as an answer.

Bakugou doesn't spend long glaring at him, what with how obvious the answer isーeither take them, or be sent away to his room. This wasn’t the best nor the most masterful compromise, per se, but the simplest one.

It seems to Kaminari that Bakugou wrestles with the idea, face a range of emotions betraying his thought process until it settles with grudging acceptance, a frown set heavy on his lips, “... Deal.”

Happy with the agreement, Kaminari gives them to Bakugou. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Bakugou looks annoyed with the crutches tucked under his arms, “Happy now?”

Kaminari tries not to be so obvious about how happy he is, “Very.”

He's about to allow him to pass, before an idea pops into his head, and the thought of not having anything to eat yet today drives him to ask, “Want some lunch? I don't really feel like cooking, but there's still some stuff in the fridge, and..”

He doesn't mean to grab Bakugou’s arm or ask so suddenly, but it's not like Bakugou cares about etiquettes here. “You're supposed to be the one working here, what do you think?” Kaminari feels his smile slipping, and Bakugou yanks his arm back, “That means yes, idiot.”

“Great! Let’s go, then!”

Conversation is pliant once Bakugou nods and follows him to the table. As he's warming up leftovers, Kaminari thinks he sees Bakugou go for his chair at the end of the table, only to change his mind and take the seat beside the one Kaminari had tossed his jacket over. He's too busy blowing away steam from the overheated vegetables to know for sure.

Bakugou is leagues more social than normal, socked feet knocking Kaminari’s shin to get his attention away from the food. Kaminari lifts his head, overcooked broccoli halfway into his mouth as Bakugou talks first, “Hey, how long are you here?” He slows his chewing, watching Bakugou bite on his chopsticks in thought, “You never did tell me.”

“About two months.” He swallows his food. “Family emergency, I told them. They left me on standby, so it's not like I have to come in unless they really need me.”

Bakugou doesn't know what to make of the news, carved wood pressed between his lips.

Kaminari smiles at him. “I won't be here every day, if that's what you're worried about. Often enough that I can keep track of you and make sure you don't do anything stupid or reckless.”

Parting his lips, Bakugou huffs out a laugh, going back to eating with his chipped chopsticks, “That sounds more like you.”

“Then I suppose we both have a job to do, don’t we?” Kaminari tilts his plate and pours the rest of the soggy vegetables onto Bakugou’s plate, “And your job includes eating these. They taste weird.”

Bakugou looks like he doesn't wanna touch them either, resigning himself to pushing them off to the side, “I guess we do.”

One civil conversation down, an indiscernible number left to go.

 


 

Unfortunately, being on standby means that he has less work hours, and more workload given to him in bulk. It's the opposite of convenient for someone like Kaminari who has to take care of his plus one.

“I had a long day,” Kaminari complains the second he enters Bakugou’s apartment, lugging his bag of gear.

“And you're telling me, why?” Bakugou asks blandly, engrossed in his book. With a pillow supporting his back and his legs, he holds the book above him, living the dangers of it landing on his face. He turns a page, not paying more than a sliver of attention to Kaminari.

Kaminari falls onto the sofa. “Because it had to do with the hospital you were admitting to being left with no power after some villain attacking the city’s central power station.”

“Right,” Bakugou drags out the vowel, like it isn't any of his business.

Kaminari lets out a whine, “A little sympathy would be nice.”

He hadn't been given time to properly dress for channeling kilowatts of electricity from the backup system to the medical center holding patients, so his stuff was still packed in this bag. There's no doubt he’ll be feeling the after effects of transmitting such an excess of energy from one end of his body to the other for at least a week.

A one-two pat on his head is awarded to him before he's promptly shoved over so Bakugou can continue reading. “Now go fuck off somewhere else. You stink of burnt hair.” The absence of sincerity is disheartening. Better than nothing.

Remembering that today's power outage has likely made it on the news by now, Kaminari searches his pocket for his phone, adamant on wondering if he made headlines.

There's the ring of a cell that isn't his, and Bakugou pulls his out, squinting at the screen, “Who the fuck is it now?” Bakugou has been swamped by calls from friends and family checking in on how he's doing. It must be no different than any other call, answered with startling speed and no greeting, “You called me five times already, it’s getting real damn old. I keep fucking saying, I don't-”

Leaving Bakugou to his own devices, Kaminari reaches for his bag and continues looking for his phone. He hadn't left it on the scene, knowing that a clean-up crew had swept the whole street and come up with nothing.

“No.” Kaminari checks his pockets. Not there either.

“Because I said so, you old hag!” Maybe it was in the glove compartment of his car, sandwiched between thick stacks of police reports.

“I’m hanging up. Don't call me again.” That couldn't be the case, because he was miles away at the time of the scuffle. He did get a cool thank-you gift from the staff, however.

Something turns on within his bag, and Kaminari lights up with the glowing screen, reaching in to salvage his phone where it'd fallen to the bottom. It buzzes with a familiar number. Bakugou, no longer on the phone, snaps at him, “Don't answer that.”

He does do anyway. “Hello?”

“Kaminari! Can I talk to you for a minute? Ignore whatever Katsuki told you just now.” The ring of Mitsuki’s voice has Bakugou shoving his nose into the pages, and Kaminari can only wonder what kind of lecture he'd gotten from his mother to be called five times in succession.

 


 

Not a week after Bakugou had been released, his parents decide on a day where their schedules align the best, and invite them over for dinner with such an air of finality that Kaminari completely forgets to bring the cake he'd bought from the bakery. He's still bemoaning the loss of sharing the triple chocolate stack of heaven topped with icing he'd left on the table when Mitsuki answers the door, already expecting them.

He steps into the one-armed hug, feeling the air being squeezed out of him.

"It's good to see you, Kaminari! My idiot son giving you trouble?" She's a warm and friendly presence underneath all those rough edges and tough words, something her son didn't fully inherit. They did share the same crooked smile, though.

Kaminari thinks back to this morning, when he had to help Bakugou put on his shoes while avoiding getting kicked in the face, and how Bakugou is currently glaring holes into the back of his head, and musters up a tired smile, "Nothing I can't handle, ma'am."

"There's no need to lie around me, I know how much of a pain in the ass Katsuki can be. I took care him for eighteen years before he finally ran off to get his own place, after all,” she says with empathy, eyes bright as she looks back on it with fondness. Kaminari can only imagine raising a rowdy Bakugou to be utter disorder and catastrophe with trademark moments of silver lining. That fondness must include lots of screaming and explosions.

"And I thank you for tolerating him for so long," Kaminari tells her truthfully.

"I should be thanking you for bringing him here! He never visits anymore, the ungrateful brat.” Mitsuki is laid back as ever, messing his hair up before releasing him.

"Like I'd want to see your face," Bakugou answers, mostly hidden by Kaminari’s body. Anyone can mistake his prone form for hiding.
His mother doesn't acknowledge it.

"Come in, and bring the baggage while you're at it." She says to Kaminari and her son, swinging the door open all the way. Kaminari removes his shoes and jacket, leaving mother and son to bicker at the door so he can check out the living room. Bakugou's father must be coming home late tonight, judging from the missing pair of shoes at the entrance. Not everyone’s schedules were free for today.

The Bakugou household is exactly as he'd remembered. Same pale walls and dark furniture. The shelves of old trophies were right where they were supposed to be, class photos from high school intermingling with framed family portraits. It was nice to find that some things haven’t changed.

 


 

Bakugou is the last one left eating, table absent of his mother and Kaminari, who occupy the kitchen, working together to clean up. Dad wasn't home yetーanother late night at the office to take care of whatever duties he’d been assigned to this timeーso there was no one to mediate between him and his mom during dinner.

He's mindlessly chewing his rice, staring at a faded frame holding his parent's wedding picture when Kaminari comes into view.

"Are you sure you don't want any more help?" Kaminari asks Mitsuki, leaning up on the kitchen island, sleeves pushed up and soaked to the elbows from washing the dishes. It sure was Bakugou’s luck to be sitting where he can see Kaminari clearly without worrying about catching his eye.

Looking at him now, unbidden, Bakugou traces the curve of Kaminari’s smile as he busies himself with drying off his hands, unaware of eyes watching him pull the high ponytail out of its tie. There's no trace of the fine detail and gel he puts into styling his hair, letting the hair fall loose at his nape, sticking to his cheeks which are damp from dishwater.

Bakugou stops twirling his fork in the chicken that has turned into mush, feeling his resolve of ignoring Kaminari begin to crumble. All it took was one look and it was like spying on a high school crush again, one he'd tried to shove down for the sake of this visit.

Bakugou never cared much for what the students in their class had thought about each other, but he’s had to tough out more than his fair share of gossip. Of the sickeningly sweet words of Todoroki’s “polite manners and alluring presence,” or the constant showering of praise regarding Midoriya’s “natural eye for kindness and the magnetism of his presence.” Bakugou doesn't get how he remembers this, but it’s enough to make him taste bile.

He may not be appreciative like the others of faces belonging to idiots he wants to pummel to death, so it'd taken some soul searching to get what those girls meant. It wasn't a princely demeanor or a gentle disposition that caught his attentionーBakugou sighsーit turns out he’s a sucker for romantic idiots. Go figure.

Kaminari was the classmate that managed to look the coolest on a skateboard, eating concrete the second he opened his mouth to speak. He couldn't study mathematics for the life of him, yet held the crown for being well-versed in every major poet of the twentieth century. He's flirty and quick to panic in a split second but damn it all to hell he's got some serious insecurity issues to go along with how much he worries his head off about classmates.

Although often overlooked by the rest, Kaminari was in a whole different spectrum altogether.

I'm sure Kaminari deserves better than Bakugou.

Bakugou swallows his food, feeling the mush travel down and sink to the pit of his stomach. He might as well be swallowing his own pride. The sheer amount of it would make it no further than his throat before they blocked his airway and choked him. All this thinking was only making things harder. He shouldn't keep trying to think about something he couldn't have.

"If I could, I'd make Katsuki do it. Kaminari, I'm sure you wouldn't like it if I did that, so I'll leave the old man to his aching back and ask his father for help when gets home." In the kitchen, Mitsuki declines the offer and cracks a joke, in good fun. Bakugou is shocked to find Kaminari laughing with her, left with the thought that this is the first time he's heard Kaminari laugh in so long.

For all the time they've spent together this week, Bakugou didn't exactly give Kaminari something to laugh about, avoiding him half the time.

"I've got everything covered, no problem. You go on and do whatever." Mitsuki ushers Kaminari away with soapy hands. His grin grows wider, dodging the bubbles and water to tuck his damp bangs behind his ear. Kaminari heeds her wishes and leaves her be to take care of the rest. Bakugou finds it hard to look away, and he grinds his fork harder into his plate, no longer feeling the ache of hunger for food.

His mom and Kaminari somehow got along better than her and her own son. Something about her inclination to be sweeter to people outside the family, although she's made a bumper of comments about Kaminari becoming a great addition to the picture someday. The thought makes Bakugou’s stomach clench. He can’t place a finger on the reason. Either it was a deep rooted anticipation at what could be, or a deep fear of messing that future up.

Bakugou’s done a fine job letting the second reason rule his life with his little vanishing stunt with Kaminari, so surely his mother has abandoned the thought for the better.

Kaminari passes by the table, and their eyes meet. Bakugou doesn't look at him any longer than he should. Bakugou's staring during dinner had placed him under heavy scrutiny from his mother, who read way too much into his actions and smiled sweetly at the both of them like Bakugou had just invited his boyfriend over for the first time all over again. The hope is sickening, scary, and Bakugou wants no part in it.

He can see Kaminari deflate at being ignored, walking until he's out of the room.

Why is Kaminari still even with you? You're kind of an asshole, you know. Tactless and unsociable is what you are.

Bakugou pushes his plate away. Something lingering in his belly prevents him from taking another bite. Any more, and he's sure to make waste of all the good food he's eaten tonight. His mom would kill him before he made a mess on her favorite table.

Most nights, before the dormitory arrangements, the responsibility of clearing the mess had fallen to his parents, who didn't want to give him chores on nights where he was stuck at the dining table finishing his homework on days he wasn't training at the park. Those rare moments where music would filter from an indiscernible place and his mom and dad were up to their own wild parent shenanigans, arguing over the last slice of dessert in the fridge, or doing quick waltz that left his father dipping low to the ground with roles jumbled and his mother’s laughter ringing in their ears.

Bakugou isn't saying that the dose of heavy nostalgia has left him missing those times, but...

Soon enough, his mom finishes putting away the plates and placing any leftovers into the fridge for later. She returns to the dinner table and doesn't beat around the bush when she asks, immediately getting to the point, "So, how's Kaminari been? He hasn't come over for quite some time."

His mother knows they're no longer dating, has known for a while. The news circled around the class, linked together by endless group chats that nobody used for serious hero talk, before somehow making it to the parent circle. She sure enjoys rubbing it in Bakugou’s face whenever he comes up in conversation. She had liked Kaminari the moment he'd first walked through their doorway, weeks faster than Bakugou ever did.

"Why don't you ask him? You two seem to be getting along well,” Bakugou grumbles, tracing an old water ring on the table. His mom passes by and slaps down a coaster down, almost pinching his fingers.

He retracts his hand to glare at her, and she glares back with equal strength. Hell hath no fury like a mother ignored. "Kaminari had the courtesy to apologize for not visiting lately. You, on the other hand…”

“I’ve been preoccupied, if it wasn't obvious,” Bakugou bites back. “Or what, have you been in a closet and not watching the news like some doting mom?”

She plants a hand on the table, “I didn't spend it acting like an angry brat.”

A familiar, bubbling anger swells up in his chest. It aches. “Did Kaminari-”

“He didn't say anything mean about you,” Mitsuki says. The feeling ebbs away, leaving him to wonder what that raw, unpleasant thing was. Certainly not a crippling fear of vulnerability. Since when had he ever cared about other people's opinions? Bakugou knows the answer is as right as the blood running in his veins.

“At least he’s nice enough to not talk about you behind your back. And yet, it’s no surprise that he's going out of his way to take care of you. You should be grateful,” she says, implying that he should, what? Apologize? Say thank you?

Bakugou rolls his eyes at his mom singing praises of their esteemed guest, rocking back in his chair. There's a twinge in his hips at the slouching, ignored. He releases the fire and smoke of his words. "I don't care what he does. He can leave."

Mitsuki has the audacity to laugh, pulling out the chair adjacent to his and taking a seat. "I know you care. You care a lot about what other people think. That's what started all this, isn't it?”

Bakugou crosses his arms. It should be illegal for moms to be able to know their kids this well.

“If you really wanted him to leave, you wouldn't have let him into your house in the first place. Now quit your bitch act and let me talk." Mitsuki laces her fingers, smiling that scary motherly smile of hers that says she's leaving no room for argument.

Bakugou sinks further. He wants to leave, avoid this uncomfortable confrontation between mother and son about his life choices and regrets, but he shuts his mouth. They've had their fair share of shouting matches at this table, perhaps he was getting too old to start another one.

“You go off and ignore me again, Katsuki, and see what happens.” Bakugou looks off, undeterred. “Don't forget about how you turned around and believed the first stranger that started yapping stupid shit. I would've thought you'd have a bit more faith in Kaminari than that.” Kaminari isn't the problem, if that's what his mother thinks.

“I didn't ask for your advice.” Who was he kidding, no one’s ever too old to rebel against their parents.

"There you go again. I would've thought you'd sit down and think about why he's doing this. Not everything is about you, kid,” Mitsuki folds the rag she'd used to clean her hands, the words scornful. She talks as though they haven't already had this talk a dozen times, as though the matter involves her; and being his mother, it does, but there's only so much an observer can do to interfere before the rest has to be left to the main party. Then it becomes pestering.

He gestures to himself as show that he's doing as she's asked, "I'm sitting, if you couldn't tell."

"But you haven't been doing a lot of thinking, have you?” She asks. Bakugou rolls his eyes as an excuse to look away.

"He's only doing this because he feels obligated to, obviously." Doctor's orders, were Kaminari's exact words. "If his name wasn't on that damn paper, he'd be off living his carefree life away from me.

"Geez, sometimes I wonder why you had to take after me instead of your father," she shakes her head, as though in disbelief. It isn't the first time he’s seen her stunned by the results of giving him too easy of a childhood upbringing where apologies were seldom spoken and a kid’s untamed heart soared a too free. "Show some fucking appreciation for once in your life, brat. I know you can, you're just holding yourself back. Are you scared?”

Bakugou prickles at that, “I’m.. I’m not fucking scared.” He scratches at his arm, seething at the word.

“You wanted to end it, and this is the result. It isn't weakness to admit your mistakes: it's the first step to fixing things."

Bakugou's stomach churns with an old emotion, in refusal to admit that it's regret or guilt or some other weak, useless emotion. His mom doesn't get what's really up, and he wants to keep it that way. "I don't see you apologizing for how horrible that food was."

"Your father happens to love my food, thank you very much. Don't change the subject," she says, her eyes softening like the always do when she brings up Kaminari, and oh here we go again with making him the criminal here, where every word she says is completely true and Bakugou is left to drag the emotional baggage they bring upon him, "I'm surprised Denki still likes you after all you did."

The shift in tone leaves a sour taste in Bakugou’s mouth, seeing where this was all heading. "He's just being friendly, like the dumbass he is."

She doesn't take it for friendship binding them together, "You aren't teenagers anymore. I shouldn't have to spell out your feelings for you anymore. Even you aren't oblivious to how he still lov-"

"Don't say that." I know that. "I don't need him." He doesn't need me.

His mother sits back, only to shake her head. "God, I've forgotten how difficult you can be." She gets up, waving her hand flippantly at him as she goes to reach for the cold plate of food he’s abandoned. "Okay, I'm done talking with you. Get out of here and go mope in your room or something. I have to clear the table. Your grouchiness is stinking up the damn room."

Normally, Bakugou would storm away, knocking over a piece of furniture or two in his wake. The worst he can do now is leave the chair teetering on its legs as he takes measured steps to his old bedroom, a cleared out and distant memory that he'll gladly welcome back over the shit position he's forcing himself into, being subjected to lectures and looks of degreeing disapproval.

And if he passes Kaminari in the adjacent living room idly flipping through a photo album left out by his mother, headphones on for their privacy, Bakugou doesn't thank him nor curse him for it.

 


 

Their plans to leave before the evening rush would've gone smoothly if Bakugou hadn't taken so long coming out of his room. He'd refused to budge until Kaminari had taken over for his mother and kindly asked him if he would unlock the door before his mom did.

Somehow, that had worked, Bakugou trudging out like he was dragging baggage thrice his weight. Whatever had gone down after Kaminari left the kitchen has Bakugou ignoring him like he’s something unsightly.

The car picks up speed as they approach an area of the highway sparse with traffic. Kaminari keeps a close eye on the road whilst glancing at Bakugou, wanting to get home quickly but tempted to take advantage of the spare time he can wrestle out of some bumper-to-bumper action. His intentions of getting answers is blocked by Bakugou watching the passing scenery, gaze unfocused and far away. Bakugou sure liked to space out lately. Perhaps he has a lot on his mind.

Kaminari can make an educated guess on why Bakugou is acting like this. All he's been doing since they left his parent's place is stare blankly into nowhere. Kaminari could've sworn he heard Bakugou and his mother talking when he'd left the room. He’d promised to himself that he wouldn’t listen, knowing the consequences of butting in on family issues.

"Idiot, slow down!”

Kaminari doesn't notice how close he's sticking to the truck in front of him until Bakugou snaps him to attention. The sudden traffic forces him to slam on the brakes, lurching the car forward. The seatbelts lock to keep them in their seats. Bakugou has been having bad luck all day. Smacking his head on the sun visor, it's better than introducing his nose to the car dashboard.

Ignoring the honking behind him, Kaminari grimaces, embarrassed at losing track of his driving, and changes to a slower lane. He checks quickly to make sure Bakugou is okay. "Sorry, did that hurt?"

"Where did you learn how to drive?” Bakugou groans, stale and melodramatic as he holds his back. “I think I broke my back again.” Yeah, he was fine.

"Don't joke about that sort of thing." Kaminari tells him. The split-second wave of concern is gone in an instant, leaving only annoyance.

Bakugou answers back without pause, "Or what, you'll leave me on the side of the road?” He lets loose a throaty laugh, “I’d like to see you try.”

That sarcastic little blip in the Bakugou bullshit radar is no different from any other he's made before. Kaminari feels his blood boil with irritation. All Bakugou defaults to when Kaminari shows any form of concern is resist and make him regret asking in the first place.

"I might just do it. You're acting like a real asshole,” Kaminari says, meaning to be as serious as he sounds, while keeping in mind the lane he's driving in. Bakugou tenses up in his seat, saying nothing. This is as good a time as any to have a chat, where there’s nowhere Bakugou can storm off to, unless he'd like to take up the offer provided and have a leisurely stroll down the fast lane.

He's had it with Bakugou defensive, acting like Kaminari was after him or something. Maybe it was the fragile atmosphere hanging over the dinner table, of the sudden shift in mood sweeping a blanket of negative vibes over the nice night they'd been having. He’d come back into the kitchen to find Mitsuki doing the dishes with more ferocity than necessary, and Bakugou locked in his room like they were sixteen again.

Bakugou's sensitivity must have stemmed from whatever him and his mother had talked about, and Kaminari had to bet that their talk had fallen into the long list of personal issues that were preferred to be unspoken. And if Kaminari has any grasp on Mitsuki’s character, it must have to do with him as well, and specifically the breakup that she’s only heard snippets about. It's not something Kaminari likes talking about, as one would expect.

"Is this why we broke up? Because we argue all the time?" Kaminari asks, staring at the steering wheel with no better place to look now that the current has slowed every car to a stop. “I’d really like to hear your answer, considering I still haven't gotten it.”

Left together in a car, neither of them had any choice but to say something, lest all these pent-up emotions blow up in their faces tomorrow or a week from now. The last thing Kaminari wants to do is argue with Bakugou right now after a nice meal with family that ended on mixed terms. This ends up being the only way they communicate anymore.

Kaminari looks at the time, deep in thought, before taking a breath and addressing the elephant atop the car, "I mean, all couples argue. And you're, well.. you, so we're bound to disagree on things. Did our relationship get so bad that you decided to cut it off yourself?"

The stubborn turn of Bakugou’s chin serves to tick Kaminari off more than it initially should've, and the answer isn't any better than he’d hoped, "I didn't do that."

Kaminari leans back in his seat, raising an eyebrow. "Really. You weren't the one that said you wanted to 'take a break' or some bullshit like that?"

Bakugou clicks his tongue in annoyance. He doesn't move to deny the claim.

"You know, when you told me you needed some time off, I just thought you needed to collect your thoughts or something. Next thing I know, you stop answering my calls, and then Kirishima is making half-assed excuses about how you're never at the agency because you changed shifts, when you obviously hate changing your schedule and coming home late. Who the hell does that?” The steering wheel is firm when Kaminari smacks his hand down on it, too caught up in his words to care.

He can't help the frustration ebbing into his words, finally given an outlet after months of saying nothing to no one. “And you didn't bother blocking my number. I would've preferred that over calling you and wondering, every damn time like an idiot, if you'd answer.” Kaminari hates frowning. Smiling usually lifts his mood, except now. “You didn't, obviously.”

“And to think that all I get is a maybe we should take a break from this to show.” Kaminari laughs quietly, rubbing that salt in deep. Recalling it isn't making him feel better, it's getting worse. “That text wasn't necessary after the first month, you know. I had gotten the hint by then.”

He should be mad, furious with Bakugou, blaspheming the utter unfairness of reality that has ironically shoved back together as they sat here, tied by a single hospital document that should've been torn apart a year ago. Maybe then, Kaminari could've left all these loose strings behind.

And yet, here he is, feelings unchanged, trying to point fingers at a man who has never once pointed one at him through the whole ordeal.

At that, Kaminari stops. Bakugou may have been the one with the problems that had begun sprouting and affecting the relationship; but who's to say that the man who'd eaten the rotten apple wasn't made rotten by the tree it had grown from?

“Nobody would've made that kind of change if they weren't trying to run away from something,” Kaminari says, almost to himself. He's sure Bakugou hears it clearly in this small vehicle. “What are you running from?”

For a moment, Kaminari had let himself become clouded by blind accusations he wanted to make in hopes of lightening his own shoulders. By doing that, he’d be no better than whatever, or whoever, is weighing Bakugou down. Bakugou has his fair share of issues, of higher excess than the average person. However, he's not stupid enough to let it get to his head unless it's been planted in.

In a year, Kaminari had expected some of these assumptions to be wrong. Judging from Bakugou's silent form slouched in the seat, Kaminari has hit it right on the nail.

Kaminari peers over to see Bakugou’s face, and it hurts to see how cornered Bakugou looks, shrinking into his seat, wearing a sad excuse for a frown, "Is it me?”

Had Bakugou finally gotten tired of him? Was he so unwilling to face Kaminari with the truth? He'd ended it all by text, if that wasn't proof enough that Bakugou didn't want to affiliate himself with Kaminari anymore.

It may come to most as a surprise, but Kaminari can be quite the forgettable person in a crowd of dazzling people. Take high school for a prime example. With the exception of Bakugou, garnering attention was the least of their worries as students of a prestige hero academy.

Kaminari had been in the audience enough times to know that he's got some amazing friends who've had eyes on them from the start, the good and the bad. He’d be lying if he said he hadn't fallen into moods where he was both undeniably jealous yet swollen with pride, a terrible clash of emotions that made him question his aspirations in light of his accomplishments versus those of other classmates. Recognition shouldn't matter. If one thing is constant in history, it's the desire for individuality in those who have the power to possess it.

To think that Bakugou may have broken up with him because he wasn't interested in Kaminari anymore, if feels more painful than a text of rejection, like Kaminari was realizing all over again that maybe he wasn't cut out for this. For him.

Bakugou interrupts his internal questioning, talking harshly for someone who looks ready to wrench the door open, fingers tight on the car handle. "You wouldn't fucking understand. People like you, and don't say insensitive shit about you behind your back.”

"What are you talking about?" Kaminari searches his face, and Bakugou's got nothing but contempt written on it.

"Of course you wouldn't fucking know,” Bakugou releases the door, glaring down at his hands, "I didn't hear people giving you shit all the time about how much of a terrible boyfriend you are, or how your boyfriend needs a reality check so he can finally dump your sorry ass. Maybe it was just me, but that sort of shit sticks after a while."

If not for the traffic, Kaminari wouldn't have been able to take his hands off the wheel and sit in such a position where he faces Bakugou, "Who was telling you this?"

Bakugou pulls his arms tight around himself, "Doesn't matter now. They can go shove it and die.” It sounds like Bakugou’s playing it off as no big deal. This is the first that Kaminari has caught wind of this, so he isn't about to drop the subject like it's nothing.

Bakugou has his own signature brand of mean. It stings like ice, warming with time by his own hands, if he allows it. Then there's the cruel words of a stranger, acting like they have a say in another person's life. It's where self-doubt reigns, all uneven footing on a slippery slope the rest of the way out.

Those were the real bad guys, not Bakugou.

“Of course it matters. You're telling me that people forcing you into thinking you're someone you're not.” Kaminari says incredulously. “Even you can fall into peer pressure.”

Bakugou shakes his head furiously, “Nobody did anything to me. I never said that.”

“You may think they didn't, but you obviously aren't over the terrible things they've said,” He insists, hardened with resolve now that he's seeing Bakugou’s crumbling edges.

It's been falling away for some time now. Others would call it Bakugou going soft, their classmates would say it's Bakugou recognizing his weaknesses. It's unfortunate luck for him to get knocked in the head with it by some opportunistic nobody aiming to cause trouble, maybe a coworker or an old classmates, no different from those people who had the guts to call Bakugou a villain. If Kaminari wasn't so against Bakugou using violence, he'd punch the guys for him.

To think that something so insignificant could ruin so many good things. Kaminari had almost forgotten that even the smallest evils could tear down the strongest people in the world, if it holds a influential sway in one’s life. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Bakugou sneers without aiming it at Kaminari. Slowly, he releases his clenched jaw. "I thought… I thought that if I did, you'd have some common sense and listen to them. I would too.”

He's well aware that Bakugou has insecurities like everyone else, terribly iterated as they may be. The topic was a sensitive one in high school, one that Kaminari avoided like a field of landmines.

“So that’s why I fucking did it. Sounds stupid saying it aloud,” Bakugou admits, which is no easy feat. “Guess you got the answer you wanted.” Bakugou didn't ever like feeling weak in front of Kaminari, and never budged when Kaminari insisted that he wouldn't think of him as any less of a person.

Perhaps glossing over it as though it served no problems to them has caused it expand in size as the years went on, until it had begun to affect more than just Bakugou’s fleeting thoughts. Kaminari should've seen this coming. Being a hero, you can only juggle so many duties before one of them lands on the floor, forgotten, and that duty happened to be having Bakugou’s back.

Considering the injury he's suffered, there's more meaning than one in that thought.

Bakugou always insists that he's fine. Kaminari should've noticed earlier that he isn't, so he can't say he's not also at fault.

The implication of constant bombardment on Bakugou’s mentality from fellow peers has become a jumbled up mess of problems that leaves Kaminari’s head throbbing. "You make it sound like I'd bail on you because of some strangers telling me to.” Bakugou thinking up such bizarre scenarios doesn't surprise Kaminari now that the initial shock has passed. He's been there before. For Bakugou to keep this all bottled in...

He doesn't look to be dealing with it well now that it's out in the open, shoulders bunched like a dog with its hackles raised, unhappy with the turn of events, “Wouldn't you? I'm not exactly the nicest guy around, and fuck knows what else you'll be getting into.”

“You really think I'd pull a Bakugou?” Kaminari gets over his surprise quickly. It doesn't take good eyes to see Bakugou’s flinch. “For all the years we’d dated, I would've thought you'd think of me as more than a shallow guy. A few harsh words won't hurt me.” And if they do, Kaminari makes sure it's known. He doesn't know whether to laugh or swear at the irony. Here he was, thinking that he’s the problem, when Bakugou is the one victim to his own self-deprecation.

And Bakugou knows so, “I'm not calling you shallow, idiot. Did you not hear a damn thing I just said?”

“Then what kind of person do you take me for? Someone incapable of taking a few hits? Someone you can't trust?”

“Someone that deserves better than me.” Plain and simple, Bakugou shuts up Kaminari. “I'm starting to think that I’m the shallow guy here. Wouldn't you agree?”

He did take the initiative first by acting without talking to Kaminari at all, and effectively cut off most if not all contact, thinking that would solve things. And to make things worse, Bakugou didn't find it necessary to explain things from the start and solve this whole problem before it could grow to such proportions.

“I… I’m not sure what to say about all this,” Kaminari confesses, fixing his hands back on the wheel. The traffic was easing up, and their talk was coming to a close. He wouldn't be getting another chance like this with Bakugou, not for a while.

“Then you don't gotta say shit. I don't care.” Bakugou cares, he really does. He cares enough to worry, to not want to ruin a good thing in his life. To be jinxed into becoming what he's not, left to face the guilt of ending something he only wished to preserve. Bakugou is about as human as it gets.

Bakugou doesn't react when Kaminari turns up the radio from its steady hum of background static.
The traffic disperses with time, opposing the crowding thoughts that linger in Kaminari’s mind. Bakugou isn't saying sorry, and Kaminari can't find the words to ask for one.

They've finally made some progress, not the type Kaminari was expecting.

All this conversation has served to do was tell Kaminari that they'd both messed up, and it was their own stubbornness that led to this downfall.

What Kaminari couldn't piece together was whether or not they could come back from this, or if not, patch things up from here. And he didn't have the slightest clue of how to do that.

Chapter Text

Kaminari closes his eyes and sighs. Sleep lies low on the horizon, where the sun has already gone down and that lone sliver of orange in the haze of smog is far out of reach. By the time he opens them again, the room has fallen to the bluish glow of early evening, fitting for his mood.

Hs spends the night counting the cracks in his ceiling to the point where the walls fades into nothing when he refused to blink. Rubbing away the listless exhaustion from his eyes, he reaches for his phone, opening up a day-old chat with Kirishima. Kaminari had texted him before heading out to Bakugou’s parent’s house, and hasn't contacted him since.

To no surprise, Kirishima is online, long into the early morning hours, kept awake by Tetsutetsu's thunderous snoring. Would it hurt for guys with teeth like them to be grinding their teeth at night? It’d certainly leave their gums aching by morning. The thought is enough to distract Kaminari into sending the message his fingers type out.

Kiri, do you know the real reason why Bakugou stopped talking to me?

This should've been a question he asked right after coming home three hours ago. Everything's been a blur since then.

A response comes within minutes, Did you guys finally talk? Like, talk talk

His thumbs hover over the keys. It was more of an argument than a talk, all necessary for Kaminari to finally find out the reason why Bakugou has been acting so selfishly. After constant pressure from negative influences around him, he'd ended up forced into a role that he wasn't, and he couldn't help but play the part, which was an unhealthy way to deal with it. Even Bakugou can be bent out of shape from his sturdy mold of a personality.

Kaminari still wasn't sure why it happened, or if he’ll ever get the whole story, but at least he’s got a starting point to which he can begin working his way from. Towards what, Kaminari has yet to figure out. Sort of.

He's hardly given a moment’s pause before a text is shot back at him, Then yeah, I knew.

Were you one of the people? He doesn’t want to sound accusing, because Kirishima would be the last person to sink to such a low. He’s just making sure.

Dude, of course not! I'd never be able to that. Kaminari smiles. Assurance is all he asks for.

Thanks.

Kaminari ends it there, saying goodnight and not sticking around for a reply. Hopefully Kirishima gets the message.

If anything, today's events have served to enlighten Kaminari of what should be a given fact: There have been misunderstandings that need to be patched up.

Scrolling through his contacts, he gets to the very bottom, down to the only unlabeled contact in the list. He knows the numbers by heart. Without a name, yet to be wiped from Kaminari’s phone. He clicks on the number, hoping to get a call through, and listens to it go straight to voicemail. Figures. Either Bakugou is calling someoneーhighly unlikelyーor his phone is shut off, which is the more sensible answer of the two.

He almost hopes Bakugou answers, but he’s been soaking in his own vat of liquid bad luck today, and to his shock, is met with the sound of his own voice coming through as the voicemail message.

“Hello! If you're trying to reach Katsuki, please leave a message after the beep! He never picks up the phone, but I'll make sure he returns your call, don't worry. I don't really know when that'll be though…” Kaminari rolls his eyes in the dark and snickers despite himself. Sadly, it’s much more hollow than he means it to be, and echoes the one in the recording, high-pitched and full of life.

 


 

Initially, he remembers feeling terrified about being caught, egged on by the rest of his friends into pulling a prank on Bakugou by messing with his phone while he was off in the restroom.

“It’ll be quick and easy! In and out!” Mina shoots her hand out, putting her words into form. “You know his passcode, don't you? A weird boyfriend like Bakugou had to have told you, right?”

Doing stuff together like a couple always comes with a grain of salt when they'd first started dating, Bakugou lacking the relationship experience and known emotional capacity to call “normal.” Bakugou isn't normal. He’d deny the very statement himself. There’s never a time where Kaminari isn't learning new things from Bakugou. What most would call weird, Kaminari would call a learning process with his partner.

“Yeah, he told me,” Kaminari replies, returning to the topic at hand. “After some… persistence.” Like Kaminari checking a text that Bakugou didn't want to read with his own eyes but at the same time refused to leave unresponded, or Bakugou needing his phone to set an alarm for when the food would be finished, thereby granting Kaminari (temporary) consent to use since his own hands were covered in
cooking oil.

Mina wasn't wrong, so he agrees to the plan, given that they had decided unanimously to ditch schoolwork.

Reclining back with his feet up on Bakugou’s desk, Kaminari had been so preoccupied with perusing Bakugou’s phone, glancing over his private info to put into place as many amusing yet temporary changes as possible. He may be pulling a prank right now, as he's gotten permission from Bakugou before about using his phoneーand with him yet to revoke that privilege after forgetting the pledge, Kaminari knows very well that it's bound to be taken away after this. The consequence is sure to be worth it in the end.

“Kaminari!”

“Dude, come on!”

He hears the whispered shouts of his friends, and doesn't glance at the door, adding the final touches. He's just clicking done when the phone is taken from his fingers.

Kaminari swivels around, expecting the radiating anger, “Hey Katsuki!”

Bakugou holds the phone with clenched fingers, high out of reach, “What are you doing on my desk?”

“I was just uh.. charging your phone.” Bakugou continues to simmer, fresh out of the restroom and not at all happy at his space being barged into, and Kaminari grins in hopes of being graced a free pass out of here, “I’m such a caring boyfriend, aren't I?”

“You were using it, when I specifically remember leaving it in my bag, which you’ve obviously gone and rummaged through?” Bakugou kicks the bag in question back under his desk.

Kaminari attempts to squeeze away. “Y-Yeah! So there you go. Now I’m just gonna head back over to my seat, pardon me-” Bakugou catches him by the collar before he can escape his clutches, left to cover his face in awaiting shame as Bakugou checks his phone for the damage.

“... Did you really fucking change all my contacts, dipshit?”

At least Kirishima knows when to not say anything. Kaminari forgets how much he runs his own mouth, giving his boyfriend a rueful smile, “It's a mystery?” As are what reads every single one of the names on Bakugou’s phone. “Let’s just hope you don't call your mom next time you booty call me-”

Sorting through them would be meticulous, and his boyfriend’s tact is anything but that when he's ticked off.

His heels drag on the squeaky clean floor of their classroom, Bakugou pulling him into the hallway so as to not disrupt their teacher sleeping in the corner of the room. Courteous, if not diabolical.

Any attempts to fix the phone has it shutting down in Bakugou’s hands as predicted, and calling his expression angry doesn't even cover it.

“I would say I'm sorry...” Kaminari laughs nervously, at a loss for an answer that can get him out of punishment, “I’m really not, though.”

Bakugou’s eye twitches as Kaminari takes him by the sleeve, “That’s not gonna work on me.”

“I have no idea what you're talking about,” Kaminari says softly, gazing at his frowning lips.

He was planning on kissing his way out, like he does most of his problems. Bakugou beats him to the punch, quite literally punching Kaminari in the mouth with his mouth.

“Ow!” Kaminari pulls back, hand going for his face out of reflex.

“Better than my fist.” Bakugou says, grinning victoriously although there's a hint of pain in the wrinkling of his nose. He didn't do it roughly to the point of breaking skin or bruising.

Kaminari tests his lips with his teeth, smiling back, “I think you mean worse. A kid could do better than that.” That felt like the kind of kiss Bakugou used to give when he had no idea how to kiss. Inexperienced, awkward, and painful. Kaminari isn't going to argue that he hated it, though.

Whether Bakugou had meant to be terrible on purpose or not, he goes for Kaminari’s cheeks, and it devolves into a wrestle of Kaminari keeping Bakugou’s hands away and Bakugou entertaining Kaminari’s obvious lack of strength.

“I’m kidding, you know,” Kaminari points out, with a bit of strain. His laughing doesn't help his case, further dooming him to a losing battle. “You're decent, at most.”

Being compared to a kid and called half-decent is nothing to their normal spitfire. It's worth the compensation Bakugou makes to prove that he is, in fact, the best at kissing. Promptly after losing the match, Kaminari can feel the passion, the drive behind the kiss, he almost doesn't notice the hand creeping into his school jacket.

After an undetermined amount of time Bakugou spends kissing him to prove a point, Kaminari has half a mind to follow through and join in on this fun, impromptu competition. They have class, another field trip after school, the risk of shortened curfew if they get caught sneaking out of class one more time, and Bakugou waves before his eyes the phone that had been so deliberately tucked into his inside pocket.

“Thanks for the phone, Denki.” Unperturbed by Kaminari’s disappointment, Bakugou regards him smugly, “And I have your number memorized, stupid. No way am I gonna mistake you for my fucking mom.”

Kaminari doesn't argue when Bakugou, now in possession of both devices, slides open the door to the classroom, wearing the same air of confidence as he did when he'd caught Kaminari by the collar. Bakugou's triumphant face is impossible to make out when Kaminari has his hands pressed against his own cheeks, feeling played and utterly wooed. At the call of class starting soon with the break almost over, he stumbles in behind Bakugou to grab his free hand, not worried about what Bakugou has in mind to get him back. It’s worth it.

 


 

Quite bittersweet to think about how simple things were before.

“Still hasn't deleted this stupid recording,” Kaminari mumbles to himself, staring up at the faded cracks in the ceiling as he speaks to it, not expecting an answer, “How many phones has he gone through in these past few years? Nearly a dozen.” No way would he go out of his way to transfer it every time.

He denies the possibility, all the while ignoring how his eyes sting as he thinks long and hard on it, pressing the call button once the message ends to hear it again.

 


 

“So this is your grand plan? Be a little copycat? How is this even a prank? You're actually doing me a favor.” Kaminari speaks a mile a minute, overcharged from today's exercise.

Bakugou sinks into the couch, ignoring the shuffling of other students setting up for dinner. It's not unheard of for the class to go straight into making a meal after class. “I never said my idea would blow you out of the water. Just- mind your business, alright?”

“Make sure to add some pizzazz to it!” Kaminari is way too peppy to be mad about having his phone stolen from him for the past five hours.

“Why bother, it's not like you’ll ever listen to this.”

Bakugou hears a whine of “so mean” from Kaminari. However, a dip in mood is hardly something to blink at when Kaminari lays down with him on the large couch, thin arms curled loosely around his sides.

He should put all his weight back and crush Kaminari between the cushions until he leaves. However, he'd called dibs on the couch. No way was he about to let his spite get him booted from tonight's privileges.

A touch on his neck has him tensing with the gentleness of it. Bakugou steels himself of the shudder. He has an elbow with Kaminari’s name on it if he tries kissing Bakugou on the neck again, making his heart jump into his throat and ruin his recording. Bakugou swears mid-word.

Kaminari laughs into his back. He better not interrupt next time.

 


 

“Anyways, thanks for calling or whatev-... Hey, what did I say. I’m not done.”

“We have to go! Time to eat!”

“Then good luck with your shitty voicemail, like I care.”

Bakugou hears Kaminari call out something akin to his name, too far away to hear from the placement of the speaker, most likely muffled by Kaminari as he wrestled back the phone. Sadly, that's the last thing that was recorded before the sound cuts and he's left to face cruel reality and the twenty seconds of silence to leave a message. Why Kaminari had ever offered Bakugou a chance to return the favor and mess around with his phone, he'll never know.

It's already late. Kaminari had to be asleep right now, exhausted from dealing with more than one Bakugou. Not that he would pick up if he was awake anyway.

Breathing doesn't help tonight. There's an immovable weight on his chest, and his entire face feels numb when he touches it. The tips of his fingers ache from nothing, when they only ever hurt from using his quirk. Things are happening to his body, but he's not feeling the emotions that match it.

Bending his protesting fingers, Bakugou chucks his phone at the wall when the pain in his lower back spikes up with a vengeance. Physical pain doesn't seem to be the problem here.

It doesn't shatter, leaving behind a good-sized dent to match the others. Bakugou's back protests as he curls up clutching a pillow, no longer caring if he’d forgotten to hang up the phone. He hadn’t thought out what Kaminari would think once he got the message, emptiness punctuated by the sound of a loud crash.

He holds the pillow tightly to his chest. His meds were too far, sure that sleep would take him away from the growing ache. Whatever this shooting pain is that had started up once he’d stormed into his room with no Kaminari by his side.

The pain is still fresh in his mind, not the kind of reminder he'd like to have from that fight and the one last night, and he's sure it’ll only get worse from here.

Kaminari isn't around to check on him and ask what's wrong. Bakugou wonders, giving in to the sickly empty sea of emotions as he closes his eyes.

 


 

When Kaminari wakes up the next morning to a half-dozen missed calls to his name, he forgets to check the caller. He had ran out of his apartment in a hurry, gotten into his car, and continued the streak all the way up the stairs leading to Bakugou’s place.

Running should take his mind off yesterday’s incident. Crying is normal. Crying over an shouldn’t be the norm. He's sure been thinking a lot about being normal lately, when his very life is the opposite.

It was wishful thinking for Kaminari to hope that something should’ve come out of that eye-opening conversation, like some newfound bond of trust. Little does Kaminari know that it's all going to backfire. Because it’s the day the doctor's quirk hits its deadline and wears off, the one thing among many he’d forgotten.

Kaminari had meant to arrive earlier, but complications are complications.

Normally, the sound of cooking would rouse Bakugou from a deep sleepーa passionate non-believer in early morning alarms. Today, the bubbling noise of the coffee machine reaches Kaminari from the doorway. He doesn't announce his presence. He’s used to having his cheerful good morning greetings left unanswered.

Kaminari takes a moment to breathe, the cold air of the approaching autumn season thick in his lungs, like winter without the snow.

There's the sound of ceramic shattering, followed by Bakugou swearing, and Kaminari abandons unlacing his shoes to rush over to the kitchen.

He stops short of entering. Bakugou stands in the center of broken ceramic shards scattered across the floor, the handle of Bakugou’s favorite mug distinguishable in the mess. The worrying thing isn't the shattered mug, but Bakugou supporting his shaking legs with an arm planted on the counter. His breathing is labored, frozen in place and unable to move after being hit with all the sensations that he would've felt from the beginning had the doctor not gotten to him in time.

"Bakugou, you okay!?" Kaminari was hoping Bakugou would still be in bed at this time, but he had to choose today of all days to wake up early and make coffee. Coffee which didn't even make it into the cup in the end. “Don't tell me you forgot?”

Kaminari happens to walk onto a stray piece that had bounced away. He lifts his foot, seeing the crumbling remains. It was a good thing that he was still wearing his boots.

The sound brings Bakugou to greet his presence with a heated glare. He blinks hard, pushing off the counter and shoving Kaminari away when he steps up to help. It's not enough to hurt, but Kaminari does stumble back a step or two.

"Don't fucking touch me. I can do this." Bakugou snaps, deadly serious. A stuttering breath leaves him rattled, and Kaminari can see his legs refusing to cooperate in protest. "I... I can do this, I don't need that fucker's quirk. I don't need your fucking pity, either."

For the first time, Bakugou's hands light up with explosions, rocking his body instead of the desired effect of damaging the solid granite counter he braces himself on. “Fuck. First that stupid talk with my mom, then you, and now this!?”

Kaminari carefully takes ahold of Bakugou’s wrist. It's dangerous to do, feeling the heat of each miniature combustion bounce off toughened skin. He's sweating buckets, letting his quirk run rampant. The touch startles Bakugou into slowing the explosions to a stop.

“Calm down.” Kaminari looks him right in the eye, stilling his trembling arm. Bakugou folds in, going rigid in his hands, and Kaminari searches for a reason why Bakugou shouldn't blow up the whole kitchen. “Here, I can-”

He can hear Bakugou grit his teeth to the point of pain.

“I just need some goddamn space!” Bakugou wrenches his hand away with a shout loud enough for Kaminari to catch the tapering crack that betrays Bakugou’s frustrations. “.... Please.”

The plea is distant through Kaminari’s ears, like it had come from the next room over. It’s terrifying how quiet and pitiful it sounds in Bakugou’s voice. Bakugou tries to act strong, taking the time to breath and collect himself, like he's unable to stomach the fact that he can't do something as simple as stoop down and pick up what he'd broken.

The words leave a lasting impact. Kaminari moves back like he'd been told to. "Bakugou, at the very least, let me clean up the mess." He wasn't ready to make a second trip to the hospital, not if they could avoid it.

“Fuck, fine.” Bakugou isn't in the state to argue. He shuffles his feet, only to hiss at the abrupt change of where he's placing his weight. Kaminari doesn't see him move again. “Then go.”

Kaminari doesn't try reaching for him again, leaving to find a broom and something to collect the shards in. Bakugou is still there when he comes back, grip tight and white-knuckled on a new mug and pitcher of coffee so he doesn't make the same mistake.

They don't speak about the mess or how Kaminari has trouble getting the broom in between the cracks of the tiles and under the stove. He can always go back to pick them up later when he has the time. After all, he’ll be spending most of his day in Bakugou's home from now on.

The doctor said that the return of the pain would be gradual. With the nerves surrounding his inflamed spinal discs repaired through surgery, mobility wouldn't be painless until he properly underwent therapy. Too bad Bakugou's first session wasn't for another week, pushed back from its original scheduled date to give Bakugou the necessary time to get a feel for the returning ache, marginally less than what he experienced the day of the injury.

Too bad he wasn't taking it well.

Leaving the kitchen with Bakugou barely holding himself up on his own two feet is a sight to pull at anyone's heartstrings, and Kaminari’s weigh down like a ton of metal had been placed upon them, ready to snap. Bakugou doesn't ask for help. Kaminari knows that the second he's out the door, he’ll be collapsing into the first chair he sees.

Kaminari sets the painkillers by Bakugou before bringing the broom with him as he parts from Bakugou’s side, bristled edges dragging along the floor.

 


 

There's the grating scrape of his sneakers along the sidewalk as he walks down the street, deaf to the bustling around him, intent on reaching his destination.

The familiar cream walls and blue trimming of his agency’s main building greets him, filling him with a pleasant sense of homeliness. Bleak and boring as it may appear, it’s a sight for sore eyes, being gone for only a week and maybe a day.

Other heroes who occupy the roster here wave as they pass, and Kaminari makes out transfers from last month, familiar faces from the other Yuuei hero course. While he can't remember the names of every student like Kirishima can, they recognize him all the same. Among them is Mina and Sero, joined at the hip like always.

Mina notices Kaminari immediately, breaking away from the pack and leaving Sero to deal with the whole group alone. “Well, if it isn't our flashy hero who decided to take all his vacation hours so that his poor friends have to carry his weight.”

“Not vacation, leave,” he corrects her. “And I’m planning on coming by to help when I’m free.”

Mina keeps her cool for a second before she dissolves into all smiles, picking him up in a hug. Kaminari laughs as best he can, trapped in her monster grip. “I missed you too, Mina. I see you're- dealing well with our new co-workers.”

“You gotta tell me everything! No no, wait for Sero, and then tell us! But first...” Mina releases him, steering him into the direction of their offices. Like it or not, they had duties outside of kicking villain butt that required lots of sitting. This was where they spent most of their hours off-duty.

It's nothing fancy, a step above the cozy cubicles that belonged to them during their rookie days. A quaint space with a desk, a folding couch that opens up into a bed for those long nights, and adequate room for anything else a hero wants to fit into their workspace. A door provides privacy, and privacy means peace and quiet. Kaminari can't ask for much more than that, he's all set with what he's been given.

He looks around his office, and Mina is one step ahead of him when she says, “If you're wondering, yes I remembered to water it.”

She's referring to the succulent sitting alone on his desk. A gift, from someone a long time ago.

“Wouldn't want to see a cute little thing like that go dying on me, and I know you'd be sad if it did.” Mina smiles down at the little flowers decorating the top of the plant, some of which have yet to bloom.

“Thanks, Mina.”

She presses him with a smile. “The same goes for you, silly. How’re things with Mr. Grumpy Pants?”

There's no worries about telling Mina his problems. She's owned that privilege for years. “Not good. Kinda got into a bad argument with him, so I'm giving him some space.”

She hums thoughtfully, and Kaminari spends those moments looking over his office.

“Got some time to spare to treat your number one best friend out to lunch?” Mina asks. “I might've just had my lunch break. Let’s keep that a secret, yeah?”

Last Kaminari checked, the self-proclaimed title for top friend was a current four-way tie. Still, Kaminari can never decline an outing, holding the door for Mina and leading out of his office placed snugly in its own little corner of the universe, with its clear windows and unpacked boxes. “My lips are sealed.”

He'd originally come here to grab some work that needed to be looked over, lacking the sufficient hours to be let off scotch-free from assignments while taking time off his work life. Lunch sounded like the perfect escape.

 


 

Bakugou was acting odd today.

Ever since Kaminari had arrived, all Bakugou has been doing is reading a book in bed. There were no complaints about having takeout for lunch, or about having his pricey surround sound system cranked up as Kaminari works on an important report.

Kaminari comes to the end of the file he'd picked up yesterday during his visit, detailing a villain causing trouble in their division. From his place at the dining table, he can see Bakugou still laying on his bed, only this time with his book closed as he stares up at the ceiling. He's never seen Bakugou this quiet before. It was almost like that time in the car, except Kaminari had felt like he was suffocating from this silence rather than feeling desperate to break it.

Bakugou’s reclusive behavior gets Kaminari out of his seat and down the hall. He'd gotten bored of reading information that wouldn't stick, so it's not as if he has anything better to do. Kaminari is in full view of being noticed, knocking as he steps into Bakugou’s room. "Hey, Bakugou."

Bakugou raises a brow in question, taking his time to sit up. Rough hands feel around the surface of the bedside table, landing on the hearing aids Kaminari had failed to see him not wearing. So that's why he's been so quiet. The silence must not have been deafening, but peaceful. Unlike Bakugou, Kaminari prefers to always have something playing, even if it was just background noise. He never liked silence.

Bakugou doesn't say anything until they're properly in. “Hm?” It’s more a noncommittal noise, but at the very least, he’s acknowledging Kaminari instead of ignoring him.

He's got his arms propped on his knees, relaxed. Instead of leaving him alone, Kaminari asks, “Can we talk?”

Bakugou lets his head fall onto one shoulder, letting out a yawn. Kaminari hasn't seen him this relaxed or calm for some time. It appears he's fallen into a bit of a lethargy since the pain had come back, resorting to lying around all day until the therapist calls back about that appointment Kaminari had inquired about. “We're talking right now, aren't we?”

"Yeah, I guess," Kaminari laughs humorlessly. His eyes land on the book set spine up on the bed, bent at the bookmarked page, and takes a few courageous steps forward. "Um, what're you reading?"

Bakugou picks up the book he'd abandoned, turning the battered thing over in his hands. It’s certainly seen better days in his possession. "I don't really know, I lost the cover months ago."

"Can you tell me what it's about?" Bakugou looks at him like he'd just spoken another language, and Kaminari flushes, "I haven’t had much time to read these days, and I'm curious about what kind of books you like."

That isn't a complete lie. He can hardly focus long enough to make it to the bottom of a page after Bakugou had appeared so abruptly in his life again. Kaminari can't stop thinking about him.

"Sure." Bakugou scoots to make room, leaving Kaminari a place in the warmest spot of his bed. He takes it, tucking his feet in and sitting back, trying to find a position that won't have him awkwardly facing Bakugou. God knows how many times Kaminari might end up zoning out at his face.

He isn't complaining though, and Bakugou doesn't seem bothered with talking for a solid hour about some story as Kaminari studies him, singling out the slightest changes in features that these past months have brought.

When Bakugou asks what his favorite part is, Kaminari has to think twice to keep from blurting out something else he loves, biting down in his tongue so hard he tasted blood and Bakugou regarded him weirdly. The only thing that saved him from further embarrassment was his book smarts.

 


 

There's a calm lull that passes through the apartment in the coming days. No more fighting, no motion to the path of reconciliation either. They're at a state of limbo.

Bakugou abandons the idea of avoiding Kaminari after lasting less than a day, and starts up his usual complaining in a shorter time than that. It's convenient that Kaminari didn't get whiplash from butting into Bakugou’s business.

The trip to Bakugou’s first appointmentーironically planned ahead of time, as per the doctor’s predictionsーgoes about as well as Kaminari expects it to be. At first.

Privacy is a luxury Kaminari thanks the government every day for. The hospital has its own private wing for recovering heroes. Not to be confused with a product of special treatment gifted to society's definition of celebrities, this hidden waiting room is next door to what would count as the normal waiting room for the general public, with little difference. Same hospital treatments, same employees, same ridiculously long stretch of minutes spent listening for names to be called. Divided, yet equal, for identity purposes.

The both of them stand out in crowd. Bakugou’s higher-ups were the ones handling absence from the media with care, so the least they can do is give Bakugou the space he needs in a controllable environment. Nobody wants to be swarmed in a hospital where the hurt and vulnerable go.

“It's good to see you back on your feet, Bakugou.” Abe, a familiar face in the waiting room as he calls for patients, spots Kaminari twiddling his fingers nervously and Bakugou staring at the children's movie on one of the TV screens. He comes by to greet them for a moment while a patient of his enters a door leading to one of the examination rooms. Apparently the pediatrics department sat side by side with the physical therapy clinic.

Bakugou's arched brows and cautious eyes give away his confusion, so Kaminari waves a hello for the both of them, remembering that Bakugou likely wouldn’t recognize a face such as Abe’s in the sea of people going in and out of his room that day. “Long time no see. I thought you worked in orthopedics?”

“My quirk enables me to be a general doctor-slash-surgeon, regardless of specialty. Given my quirk, I float around, basically. How is your supervising going?” He asks, and Kaminari laughs in spite of himself. Supervising sounded so formal, like a child being cared for by an adult, rather than the reality of two grown men with unresolved relationship issues.

“It's fun.” Bakugou rolls his eyes at the smiles Kaminari fixes on him. He goes back to watching the cartoon hero movie, not looking to be bothered talking to someone he doesn't know.

“I’m glad to hear. I look forward to seeing you back on the field, both of you.”

Kaminari grins, “Thanks!” With a parting wave, he leaves to check up on his patient. It’s likely he won't be returning.

Bakugou gives Kaminari a look when Abe walks away, “Is he the one that took care of me or whatever?”

He nods. “Yup. He probably slipped your mind when you were spitting venom at the other workers.”

Bakugou looks about ready to fire some at him. A nurse at the opposite door calls his name. Kaminari grins at the well-timed escape, “Good luck.”

“I don't need it, stupid.” He certainly does, testing the cushioned grips of his crutches all the way through the door.

Kaminari spends the first hour in the waiting room, watching the movie that had garnered Bakugou’s attention. He doesn't expect to be called in by who he can only assume to be Bakugou’s therapist, a short, stubby man.

“Bakugou did exceptionally well on the machines, but once we got here…” He doesn't go into the details, taking Kaminari down a brief hallway to the large workout area for hands-on therapy.

A horizontal pair of parallel bars stand between them and Bakugou, serving as a formidable length of space to keep them out of earshot. Kaminari looks to where Bakugou sits, hunched but not without incredible discomfort.

“So he’s having trouble here, and you want me to… encourage him?” Kaminari says for clarification. He touches the cold metal bars, watching the imprint of heat his hand leaves behind.

People left and right keep asking Kaminari for help with Bakugou, they forget that Kaminari himself is still learning the ins and outs of Bakugou. He's quite the complicated character.

The therapist appears to have come to the same conclusion. “Whatever you have to do to stop him from throwing in the towel.”

But Bakugou never just gave up.

With that thought, Kaminari walks around the bars. “I’ll… see what I can do.”

Kaminari crouches down to Bakugou’s level. Bakugou will forever be taller as a result of his high school growth spurts, not something Kaminari should worry himself with. “Hey, Bakugou. Is there something wrong?”

“There's a lot of things that are fucking wrong.” Bakugou says, irritated. He rolls his shoulders back someーand yesーgoes to fix his brace. Bakugou’s tender skin had Kaminari often sticking heat pads to his back and sides, and the brace tended to chafe him through his shirt on bad days.

“You know wanna talk about it?” A weak offer.

“No.” And an equally weak refusal.

“Avoiding conflict while simultaneously causing it, I see.” Kaminari sits on the ground, crossing his legs over each other. “Can't say I blame you.”

The staring contest that follows has Kaminari’s skin crawling. Bakugou gazes at him, eyes blank. Strange, for someone who speaks so expressively through them. Bakugou hadn't left the waiting room looking like this. Or had he?

“I’ll be honest with you, I don't want to fucking be here.” Bakugou kicks his leg out, knocking down his crutches, the only thing in range and totally hittable that won't break if he gets rough with it. “This is no damn fun.”

Predictably, they clatter to the floor, no longer supported on the wall that kept them balanced. “Who ever said doing rehab is fun?” Kaminari asks rhetorically. “Getting hurt isn't fun at all.”

Bakugou nurses his ankle, another tally to add to the list of inconveniences that flare up with his anger. “Did they send you here?”

Kaminari looks to the therapists and respective assistants awaiting Bakugou’s return. “Yeah, they said you wouldn't budge when they asked you to. The therapist isn't forcing you. He did say you got real offensive about it, though.”

It was implied, but Kaminari knows the acrid smell of smoke and ash anywhere. The black stains on white walls don't look old either.

Bakugou scoffs, leaning his weight on his hands. “Figures. Should've known they'd call you.”

“I think I know what's wrong.” Kaminari sits forward, giving Bakugou his full attention in hopes for the same. “The other day. Back in the car, when I kept saying those mean things. I was acting insensitively, so I’m sorry.”

Bakugou's eyes sharpen, focusing. He looks at Kaminari, actually looks at him.

“I should be the one fucking saying that.” As though angry at Kaminari for apologizing first, Bakugou tells him, wringing his healing hands, “I thought I made that clear!”

He keeps mindlessly working his hands in a fidgeting manner. Color bleeds back into his knuckles, patchy purple and red from sitting on them for too long, listening to no one and keeping his mouth shut. It's a miracle he listens to Kaminari.

“You didn't exactly apologize.” Kaminari smiles. A response like that means he'd gotten something out of that conversation. “And I think I egged you on pretty hard.”

Lacing his fingers, Kaminari goes, “So, now that you've made your intentions clear, are you trying to say sorry, or are you saying that to get on my good side today?”

A beat, and the emotional front Bakugou has up drops quicker than a fly, “What?”

“You told me you hate being here.” In all seriousness, Kaminari tilts his head, expecting an answer. Somewhere on the inside, he channels his inner Midoriya, remembering a past confrontation the whole class had been witness to, where the eerily calm face of their normally cheery and kind classmate could’ve made any villain squeal. “Do you really think one apology is going to make it all better?”

It was effective on Bakugou before, and it's no different for Bakugou now. He looks away. “Not really.”

“Would you mean it? If you said sorry.”

“Damn it, I guess.”

“You don't sound sure.”

“That's because I-”

“Uh, excuse me...” Their heads turn, pausing to regard the man that had brought Kaminari here. “Would you like to continue this session, or come back next week?”

The tug back to earth had left him oblivious to how they were still in the hospital with people present for what could be the conversation that decides the future of this arrangement. Kaminari’s face reddens at how the therapist stands at a safe distance. “Ah… just a few minutes will do. Sorry ‘bout taking your time.”

The man nods quickly before leaving for the other side of the room. The place isn't large, and sound bounces off the walls with ease. Kaminari pushes down the thought of rumors rising from this, giving his attention back to Bakugou.

“Okay, so, maybe for a moment, I believe you. Why should I listen to you?” All Kaminari needed was a reason.

If he were Bakugou, maybe something about their relationship would be too touchy a topic to mention in a public setting. And an apology can only go so far.

At this point, Kaminari wouldn't be able tell what Bakugou would be apologizing for in the first place. Would it be for his outbursts? For yelling at Kaminari time and time again, hardly ever giving a reason as to why? For forcefully bottling up his own emotions and dealing with them only once the glass had cracked and everything came flowing out?

But unfortunately, he isn't the one sitting in a wheelchair, struggling to put his words out, set on glaring at the floor. Bakugou was always bad with words, which always made conversations harder than they needed to be.

“You deserve more than just a sorry. What I did was shitty, and I didn't even fucking think to ask what you thought about all this. And I don't always mean to sound mad, but…” Bakugou wrenches at his hair, yanking fistfuls as thought that would get the words out faster. It only serves to frustrate him more. “Anger is often the result of fear, or however the fucking shit quote goes, I don't remember the whole damn thing,” He bites out, face sour and words sincere.

“So… sorry.”

The apology leaves the air stagnant, and Kaminari feels the three-second mark of awkward silence lapse in. It's crushing, painfully so.

He breathes, getting up from his place on the floor. “We’ll talk about this another time.”

Hands frozen in his hair, Kaminari swears he can hear the creak of how slow Bakugou lifts his head. Kaminari is quick to interrupt the telling of a mental shutdown dawning on his crestfallen face. “I accept your apology, Bakugou, if that's what you're worried about.”

Just like that, the despair melts off Bakugou, and his full-body sigh reaches for miles, “Fuck. When you put it like that, it doesn't sound like I ruined everything in my life.”

Kaminari’s mood feeds off Bakugou’s, the heaviness in his chest growing ten times lighter. “This ‘I-don't-deserve-you’ issue isn’t wholly your fault, but that doesn't mean I'm not still pissed at you, because I am. You're quite the royal dick in my books.”

For show, Kaminari squeezes Bakugou’s shoulder, and Bakugou jerks with the warning shocks that make it through the gloves. “Shit, ow, alright! You're really shocking an injured person right now, seriously!?”

Kaminari lets his hand be swatted away, satisfied that his friend gets the consequence behind the threat. It's quite empowering to be the one with the upper hand after feeling the rush of relief from making a huge step. “Yes, I am. So, Bakugou, are we going to do this, or are you going to give up for today?” He steps away to reveal the parallel bars that Bakugou had been cursing not long before.

Like he'd thought, Bakugou and “give up” should never belong in the same sentence.

Prying his fingers from the wheels, Bakugou grabs ahold of one bar. He goes to lift himself up. There's hesitation in Bakugou’s muscles, keeping him rooted in the seat.

Kaminari looks on, staring down the poles that stretch across the room in a linear path. It looks easy and simple, to someone who isn't suffering from a critical injury. “Maybe we should take baby steps. For now.”

Bakugou doesn't have it. The wheelchair almost topples with the reckless determination of Bakugou rising onto his own feet. The knee braces with metal support that the therapist had given to him lock into place. Kaminari had missed them, occupied with other parts of Bakugou, like his face, and the battered state of his hands, wavering around cool, hollow metal.

From his place, Bakugou is taller. Kaminari doesn't mind looking up to him.

With a nod of approval from the therapist, Kaminari ducks under the bar, placing himself in Bakugou’s path. The end is too ambitious, so Kaminari sets Bakugou’s sights on an easier goal. Him.

Kaminari reminds him to take it slow, because if Bakugou was famous for one thing, it was pushing himself and not giving a shit about how it got done.

 


 

“Did you really mean what you said?”

Bakugou reclines in the passenger’s seat, ice pack strapped to his knee from a bad fall and arm thrown over his eyes. It's exhausting for Kaminari to look at him. He's the very essence of tired, reaching the end of day one of rigorous therapy.

Kaminari has heard him say sorry only a handful of times, only ever to him and the fortunate souls that have witnessed Bakugou in these moments where he realizes the error of his ways, pushing aside his pride to patch things up.

Blinking open one eye, Bakugouーwith his cheeks squished and mouth pressed in an uneven frown, a result of the stretched position he’s in for maximum mitigationーparts his lips to speak, hoarse with oncoming sleep.

“Yeah, I did.” Although clearly uncomfortable, it's obvious that Bakugou isn't unsettled by the fact that he has to apologize. Rather, that it took him this long to give Kaminari an apology, as insignificant as it may sound.

They had miles to cover. A sorry was a step in the right direction to fixing whatever it is they are now.

 


 

With evening approaching, Bakugou feels his phone buzz. He's numb to the vibrations in his pocket, checking the caller purely for the sake of denying it if he doesn't recognize the ID. He sees the name, mutes the TV, and hits answer.

“Hey… Dad.”

“Katsuki! Sorry it's taken so long to get back after I missed dinner last week. There was a project deadline, and when given the choice of who should stay over, your mother suggested that I finish up since you two were coming over. I didn't think it'd so easily slip my mind.” His dad's warm laughter spills through the phone, and Bakugou finds himself relaxing under its wave.

Bakugou has had it up to here with people thinking they need to apologize for things outside of their control. He doesn't think about it too hard, shrugging it off. “It happens, old man.”

“How’re things holding up?” Like any dad with a son as a hero, Masaru worries. Worries too much, and wears his heart on his sleeve, making for a combination so unlike his wife and son’s personality.

“I’m alright.” Bakugou can only imagine how he would've grown up if he had a calm exterior like his father. And speaking of parents… “Don't tell me that old hag wanted you to give me love advice.”

“You're just like your mother. If she couldn't get through to you, I doubt I could do it if I tried,” Bakugou hears his dad’s smile through the phone, and scowls, refusing to comment. Masaru takes that time to continue. “I didn't mention anything about love, though. Something on your mind?”

“Complicated stuff.” Bakugou leaves it at that.

“You know, love falls into that category, Katsuki.”

“Whatever! I gotta go.” He begins wiggling out of his brace, shoving the phone between his ear and shoulder. He could care less if he hangs up by accident. There should be a curfew for parents calling up on their kids at eleven in the evening.

“So soon? Why, is Kaminari there?”

The eagerness in his father’s voice makes Bakugou’s stomach drop for some reason. “No! He's not!” At the thought of the encounters where Kaminari had listened to all of his dad’s sappy stories of his younger designer days, Bakugou groans, wiping away the thought, “Look. I’m fucking tired. What's with parents not minding their own business?”

“We only want to see you happy, Katsuki,” his dad chides him gently.

“Then stop calling me.”

Masaru finally lets up, laughing way too loud for someone who’d stayed up this late to phone his son. “Alright, alright, I can tell when my son is embarrassed and doesn't want to talk about his problems. I love you.”

Bakugou won't admit he's happy, forcing away the smile on his face to grumble back, “You too.”

He will admit there's a fuzziness growing in his chest when his phone clicks off, call ended.

Chapter Text

The transition is nearly unnoticeable to the naked eye, but the flat no longer harbors so much doom and gloom. It's like someone had opened the blinds to this place, and propped open a few windows for fresh air. Kaminari doesn't feel wary to enter Bakugou’s room. “Morning, Bakugou! Time to get out of bed.”

Bakugou, already prepared for the wake-up call, says from under the cover of his pillow, “I’m up already, quit your yelling.”

“Then why do you still wait for me to call you?” Kaminari answers, smugly shutting the door behind him to evade the pillow thrown at him.

What had once been an endless cycle of Kaminari getting Bakugou out of bed and Bakugou digging his heels in defiance, was now met with little more than a glare and a few choice words. No physical refusal has been dealt out as of yet.

Days turn into weeks. Time doesn't fly by to the point of stirring nostalgia. Kaminari could keep track of the weekdays and his daily routine which seemed to change by the minute.

“That's not how you cut onions.” In preparing breakfast, the knife is taken from his hands, and Kaminari watches Bakugou take the other half of the onion. Straight out of bed, and he's slicing vegetables like a pro, drawing thin lines to chop the onion into small dices. “It’s like this.”

The pieces are more precise than Kaminari’s, which look smooshed at best from his inexperience with knives. Bakugou wipes his nose, unbothered by the blade so close to his eye. “At least you know how to do it without crying.”

“Wanna get the rest of that done, and I’ll check turn on the stove?” Kaminari holds the bowl that Bakugou pours the diced onions into. “Unless you'd rather sit and watch.”

Cleaning his hands of the pungent smell, Bakugou stays at the cutting board, grabbing another washed vegetable out of the basket. “Don't expect help from me next time. I’m supposed to be the one getting pampered and showered with attention here.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” Kaminari humors him, going back to fixing the timer for the soup. He could make soup, thankfully. “You miss cooking, don't you?” Kaminari adds. Bakugou didn't ever voice his complaints about the way Kaminari prepared their food before, amateur-level effort as it may have appeared.

Bakugou locks eyes with him, frowning, and sets to work, peeling the skin of a potato with a paring knife Kaminari had not so discreetly left beside him.

There was no use barring Bakugou out of the kitchen, not when he was armed with a knife and a cutting board, glaring threateningly from his place on the high stools of the counter overlooking Kaminari’s workspace that has evolved into a familiar place. A part of a routine that includes Bakugou turning the one-time favor into a team effort the next day, bumping around the kitchen with his crutches. Kaminari knocking over food from being interrupted during his duties. Getting a crutch to the shin was no encounter without pain, but the food tasted leagues better in comparison with Bakugou there to work his magic and throw a few elbows while he's at it

 


 

Most days, Bakugou was good at keeping the pain at bay.

“I got you.” Kaminari says, ignoring Bakugou spitting obscenities, subject to being hefted up like a child. “Man, you've been putting on the pounds. And before you kill me, please know I’m talking about your muscles.”

Today wasn't one of those days.

Luckily, Kaminari had been passing by to use the bathroom in time to spot Bakugou teetering on one metal crutch with his sweats pooled at his ankles. An amusing sight, if not for the dangers of it.

Kaminari feels the back of his shirt bunch up, and smells the telltale odor of smoke, bemoaning the loss of another one of his favorite white t-shirts. After failing to put on pants with one hand, Bakugou complains, hot breath on his shoulder, “This is so damn embarrassing.”

 


 

“Do you see me right now? I look much worse than you,” Kaminari grunts out, kicking the sweats away to walk forward. He feels the blood rush to his face from exertion as he finally situates Bakugou into his wheelchair. Bakugou was stiff in his arms, now melting into the seat with the pressure gone from his legs. “Why were you up?”

Kaminari looks to the neat arrangement of clothes lying on the bed, fresh from the laundry and folded, ready to be put away in the walk-in closet later in the afternoon. Beside the conjoined bathroom, it was all the way at the other wall of the bedroom. The only explanation for this could be that Bakugou had made his way there and back before Kaminari could come around and start the morning routine of helping Bakugou into his clothes.

“I wanted to do this myself,” Bakugou explains, clearly not happy about being told to sit down. “And not because I didn't want help. It's just… you don't always have to go out of your way for me,” Bakugou says, looking down at his hands.

Did Bakugou want to lessen his burden?

Given, Kaminari wasn't being worked to the bone with chores, nor was he breaking his back for Bakugou’s every bid and call. Bakugou keeps his flat clean, and there’s little maintenance to be done anywhere. Having no outstanding responsibilities makes Kaminari antsy. He wants to be useful more than anything.

He picks up the sweats, shaking them of the collected dust from being on the floor. “Do you trust me?” Kaminari asks.

Call it being needy or selfish, but Kaminari couldn't remember the last time Bakugou had relied on him so much. He’s an independent guy, and although armed with all the attitude boosters they as teens received in high school, the apple never lands too far from the tree, and Bakugou often falls back onto his old habits. But it seems that even so, he’s retained the purpose behind those grueling interactive lessons.

Bakugou takes one last long look at him. Then, with a grimace, he places his hand into Kaminari’s, accepting the help of rising to his feet. Kaminari doesn't look down to see how his knees wobble, focusing solely on Bakugou’s face. Drawing attention to them would only force Bakugou further away. One step forward was better than two steps back.

“Yeah, I guess I do,” Bakugou says, not quite meeting his eyes.

“Then know that I don't mind doing this. It's sweet that you care, though,” Kaminari replies, expressing his appreciation while taking a jab at Bakugou for being so extrinsically considerate in not throwing a fit.

“I don't-” Bakugou words are sharp, stopping short of shooting down Kaminari’s lame attempt at banter. They prove to be not so lame after all, Bakugou neither approving nor rejecting the claim to shake his head. “Today, and that's it. Got it?”

Kaminari bends down, holding the sweats out by the waistband for Bakugou to stick his feet through. First one leg, then the other. Bakugou does it quickly, shaking, fingers latched onto Kaminari like claws. The pressure eases into Bakugou merely holding onto him.

“Today,” Kaminari echoes, snapping the waistband below Bakugou’s hips, just how he likes it. The cuff to the head is soft.

Perhaps tomorrow as well, because matter how long it takes, Kaminari will be here, so long as Bakugou will have him.

 


 

With so much time having Kaminari to himself, Bakugou forgets that Kaminari has a life and stupid friends and equally stupid ideas.

Always so wrapped up in Bakugou’s business to avoid slacking off, he's every bit of the adult he is, and not.

One drink, he'd told Bakugou, right before heeding the call of their friends, all piled up in Kirishima’s ugly minivan. One drink, unless there's games. All bets are off after that. Kaminari had said it as though to reassure Bakugou that nothing would happen.

He wasn't worried, just… mildly curious how it went, waking from a light sleep to grating metal.

Dragging his body out of bed, Bakugou pinpoints the sound to the jiggling doorknob to his apartment.

Swinging the door open wide, Bakugou watches bemusedly as Kaminari try and fail to insert a key into a lock that's no longer in front of him.

“Bakugou? Why couldn't I open my door?” He asks, looking at him with bleary eyes, fingers lacking the strength to stop the keys from being pried out of his hands.

“I live here. You're at my place, dumbass.” Bakugou says, looking Kaminari up and down. He's still dressed in the same clothes from this afternoon, which means he hadn't stopped by his own place after being picked up to grab a few drinks with friends. Well, a few was obviously not the case if he didn't notice the difference between apartment complexes, nor the fifteen floors he'd travelled when riding the elevator up here. Kaminari must've been running on autopilot.

Still unaware, Kaminari yawns, a drunken sway to his feet. Bakugou eyes him in case he does it again. “Kirishima must've dropped you off. Stupid shit, leaving me to deal with you.”

The confusion drapes heavy over Kaminari's expression, brows drawn close together as he processes the words slow, having molasses for a brain and cotton in his ears, none of it making past the thick barrier of partial coherency. Yet again, Bakugou is reminded of Kaminari’s lack of tact in keeping track of his alcohol intake when left with friends.

With one final sigh, Bakugou grabs his arm, tugging him inside. “Alright, Drooly. Get inside.” He'd rather not have Kaminari throwing up in the hall, if he hasn't already done so during the ride here. Kaminari tends to get nauseated fairly easily after a couple drinks.

Bakugou focuses on his balance to make up for Kaminari’s lack of coordination, feet fumbling with the single awkward step that divides the living room and the dining room, a valiantly fruitless attempt before Kaminari gives up and lets them hang uselessly under him. Rolling his eyes, Bakugou holds Kaminari up a little higher, not wanting to drag the scuffed shoes across his shiny cream flooring, but also keeping in mind the resistance of his aching back. Normally, he'd be able to withstand three times the weight of Kaminari without breaking a sweat. That was when he had perfectly functional legs.

He could bring Kaminari to the guest bedroom where he can sleep it off, or bring him to his bedroom to prevent any wetting of beds and episodes of nausea. Having close access to a toilet brings Bakugou to a decision.

Cursing his lack of lower body strength, he makes it past the guest room, only to trip over Kaminari’s stupid legs sticking out from Bakugou’s constant indecision between one bedroom or the other that left them tangled in his. What saves him isn't his hand on the wallーnot when they're occupiedーbut Kaminari.

Bakugou winces at the jarring impact of Kaminari catching the unfortunate brunt of their combined weight on the doorframe. The hand that he's placed between Kaminari’s shoulder blades absorbs a bit of the impact, but it's in the way more than anything, knuckles squished between hard angles and Kaminari’s body.

He uses his weight to lean back, taking Kaminari with him. They fall back with much more grace against the other side of the doorway, a jumbled mess of clumsiness and way too little sleep from both parties. “You've got to be fucking kidding me,” Bakugou grunts under his breath, seriously wanting to punch his uncooperative legs, “Get through the door you dumb fuck, come on.”

“Ow, shit…” Kaminari is at least coherent enough to notice the throbbing in his head. In an attempt to lift his arm to feel for the aching spot, Kaminari gives up halfway and leaves it draped heavy around Bakugou’s neck.

Bakugou looks down, reaching his arm under and over to awkwardly pat the place on Kaminari’s skull where there’s sure to be a bruise forming. “Oh fuck. Uh... sorry.” Kaminari is drunk, so he may not remember this, Bakugou hopes. “Christ, this is embarrassing, what the ever-loving fuck.”

He shoves open the door to his bedroom, taking those final strides to reach his bed and put Kaminari down. Nothing is going according to plan, and as one, they fall onto the sheets, instead of Bakugou dumping the body like he'd intended. He uses his arms to sit up, removing the arm that are caging him in.

“I didn't fall on you, got it? Your stupid ass couldn't stand straight, that’s all.” The tone he uses is akin to a scolding parent, except it was immaturely stern and no way would Bakugou’s mom or dad ever approve of this kind of excuse. Once he's let go, he frowns down at Kaminari, who obviously doesn't notice the weight of his words.

Being the giggling airhead that he is after blasting beyond his upper limit of drinks, Kaminari presses his cheek into the pillow, grinning cheekily as he fixes his words into a full sentence, impressively steady for someone so lightweight. “I’m so gonna remember this.”

“Oh yeah, and how're you so sure?” Bakugou asks, genuinely curious of how exactly he'd recall anything through a splitting headache and bad case of hangover. If he was lucky, Sero or one of them should've given Kaminari enough water to flush this all out of his system by morning, which leaves Bakugou to wonder whether or not he'd wake up to find that Kaminari had wet his bed. Maybe he should've put him in the bathroom where the toilet is, and not on his expensive bed with explosion-proofーstrictly non-vomit-proofーsheets.

“Because I can do this.” Kaminari's hands are a magnet to Bakugou, and the unpleasant thought of cleaning throw up is the last thing to process in Bakugou’s mind before Kaminari is kissing him on the mouth.

His eyes widen while Kaminari lets his fall shut, the mere press of their lips becoming something deeper that has Bakugou slow to resist, or resist at all for that matter, holding Kaminari’s shoulder as he dips his head, wanting more, needing more.

Somewhere along the line, he should've taken into account how touchy Kaminari was from the start and prepared for the worst. Bakugou can't rub two brain cells together with Kaminari breathing heavy against his mouth and testing his teeth on his bottom lip, heedless of the uttered sigh that leaves Bakugou. God, he'd forgotten how good that feels.

He steadies Kaminari when he parts for the slightest of breath, lungs constricting with unspoken emotion from Kaminari’s eyes fluttering open, gold softened to a pale brown in the darkness, radiant and holding Bakugou’s gaze with too rapt of attention to deem sobriety. He’s flat out drunk, Bakugou has to rememberーhe cups Kaminari’s chin and guides him closer.

Kaminari, with his chapped lips and clumsy kisses, perfectly pliant in his arms. That one look had shaken Bakugou to the core, clearing his mind. Maybe Bakugou should rethink the whole ex-boyfriends thing, not that this was the last straw to get him going on the idea. There's plenty of things he loves about Kaminari that'd make him go back on his word. Going about it is easier said than done. Kaminari was always the more assertive one in emotional situations.

He opens his eyes when Kaminari stops, thinking that maybe Kaminari wants to speak, to say something that could make or break the mood. However, what he's met with isn't Kaminari confessing his feelings in a drunken haze, but the peaceful, sleeping face of someone who'd just fallen asleep mid-kiss. For the love of-

The hand on Kaminari’s cheek falls away, curling into a tight fist, and Bakugou, with gritted teeth and a newfound flush on his face, in his efforts to calm down, wants nothing more than to punch himself in the face if not for how that could wake Kaminari up. It would be counteractive to try beating the sense into himself when it'd already been irrevocably kissed out of him.

Kaminari was going to have to have no recollection of this, and Bakugou would be subject to explaining why Kaminari has a huge bruise on the back of his head, and why he'd woken up in the wrong bed, in the wrong house. Falling asleep in each other's bed was a normality. That was back then, this is now, and Bakugou shouldn't be okay the whole kissing part, but it's something he didn't know he'd missed dearly until now.

Bakugou collapses onto the unoccupied side of the bed, listening to Kaminari’s quiet snores beside his ear and recollecting the thoughts that had been drained from him, bit by bit. It’s impossible to confuse imagination from reality and what he wants versus what is best. He already knows what he wants.

It really does suck, being in love.

 


 

Kaminari wakes up feeling like he'd been thrown into traffic and run over by an eighteen-wheeler ten times.

Peeling dry lids open, Kaminari flops onto his stomach, expecting the cold wake-up call of his floor. The bed stretches further than that, taking up only a small fraction of the bare room. Black curtains absorb the sunlight that would've otherwise melted his eyes off. This was Bakugou’s room.

For a selfish second, Kaminari hugs himself, burrowing into the sheets that smell like Bakugou. It makes his heart race and distracts him from the copper taste in his mouth.

Life has its own way of ruining Kaminari’s morning. Nothing compares to the roaring headache of too many drinks and not enough hydration, pounding away with a vengeance. There has to be some painkillers here somewhere. Medicine first, bladder second.

“Man, my head…” He sits up to alleviate the imbalance, finding the floor with no sweat at all. It's cold, soothing his soul as he maps the apartment with his fingers.

“Bakugou?” Arriving at the living room, he finds the man he's searching for, stretched out on the floor on a mat. Kaminari falls a little more in love for no reason at all. “What’re you doing on the floor?”

Bakugou, with his back to Kaminari, sits up on his elbows and shoots back, “Stretches. I think I remember someone ordering me to do them with the threat of no breakfast.”

Kaminari hadn't necessarily demanded Bakugou to follow the instructions word for word, only asking that he properly stretch to lessen the soreness; not that Kaminari had to worry, though. And yet, it was still strange to have Bakugou listen to him, although that promise had gone stale a week ago.

With how fit Bakugou is, Kaminari can't fathom him getting out of shape from an injury, no matter how severe. Back in their third year, he'd suffered from a few broken bones in a rescue simulation gone wrong, but Kaminari still found him pulling stunts and jumping down to his veranda in the middle of the night when all students should've been asleep.

He has a habit of unintentionally prolonging sleep for the sake of other people.

“So, how'd I end up in your bed?” Kaminari inquires, nursing his head.

“Kirishima dropped you off, leaving me, an injured person, to open the door after waking up to you tried to shove your own house key in the lock for a good five minutes straight.”

“Wow. Thanks for letting me in.” That must've taken some crazy hearing to catch. “Who knew you were such a saint?”

“Like I'd be able to sleep with you jiggling your keys all night.” Judging from the exhaustion in Bakugou’s voice, it sounds like he didn't get much of it.

Kaminari pushes off of the doorframe he'd been leaning on, watching Bakugou balance on his arms and extend his leg to the ceiling, back in a delicate arch that Kaminari traces with his eyes, “Here, lemme help.”

Bakugou answers without pause, “Hell no.”

“It's the least you can do after giving me this bruise.” Somewhere along the way, he'd bumped his finger on the swelled skin and recalled it having to do with Bakugou.

Bakugou sets his foot down. “You remember that?”

Kaminari hums, feeling at the bruise, “Yeah, but it's all fuzzy after that point.”

Facing the floor, Bakugou looks strangely relieved at that.

 


 

Bakugou doesn't mention it again, and the bruise is gone within a week, long enough for Kaminari to completely forget.

In that week, there's a total of five emergencies that has him out the door at the oddest of times. From enjoying a pleasant dream at four in the morning, to interrupting his midnight snacks while rummaging through Kirishima and Tetsutetsu’s cabinets. A half-hour break between two fights and a granola bar left uneaten in his pocket, he's lucky his friends offer him somewhere to crash after getting blown right through a house less than three doors down.

Kaminari didn't always wear gloves. They were once just an accessory, a nice touch of simple protection added to his costume when perusing Hatsume’s workplace one last time before she'd begun clearing the shelves for the next student to take her place there.

They’d turned out to be a spare pair that Hatsume had lost and never found the need to search for, the room swarmed in a constant state of clutter. It'd been a perfect fit when he slipped them on, trigger finger exposed and rubber enveloping the rest of the hand. Favors and supply runs have paid off every new pair and flashy tweak only someone like Hatsume could add on.

Kaminari never quite got around to gaining complete control of his quirk, no matter how hard he practiced. Some things just couldn't happen. He owes her a lot, with how swamped by projects she is, to make time for a friend of a friend.

The ones that Kaminari wears now offer no show of skin or nail, and the itch of polyester that lines the inside palm and along his fingers no longer bother him, not after Hatsume added another inner layer within the glove for easy wear. He'd usually have them off by early evening, but a long day of running around after another villain encounter has him just now entering Bakugou’s home in his costume, visor hanging from his fingers.

He sets the visor down on the dining table, pressing down on the aching mark it had left upon the bridge of his nose. His fingers twitch with static, shaken off on his way over to the couch. Kaminari glances down at Bakugou resting as he watches TV, head perched on the armrest, and suddenly he doesn't feel so tired and ready to sleep. “Bakugou! You ready?”

“Yeah yeah, I'm coming,” Bakugou grunts, a strange way to put his sluggish transition from lying down to sitting up. There's little else he can do on days like these when he can't go for physical therapy because of a wrench in their plans. Instead, Bakugou does his own thing during the reschedule.

Bakugou sits his chin on his fist as he watches Kaminari amble around, moving a few armchairs that nobody ever uses. He comes up to Bakugou once there's space, and Bakugou gives his hands a prompt lookover before pointing at them.

“Take them off.”

Kaminari looks down at his hands, finding nothing out of the ordinary, “Huh?”

“You heard me. Your gloves.” Bakugou discards the crutches he'd used to get to the couch, dusting his pants off. “I’m not trusting you to hold me with those damn things on.”

“Wouldn't you slip either way if I forget to catch you?”

“You better not. Now off with them, noodle arms.”

It's an illogical way to put his argument, but Bakugou’s face is a pleasant pink shade that has Kaminari yanking off the gloves and leaving them on the coffee table that's been scooted off to the wall to make room. So.. he was basically saying that he wants to hold Kaminari’s hands without any barriers between them. Not suspicious, but not the answer Kaminari was looking for why he cared so much.

“Did you already stretch?”

“Yes.”

“How long ago?”

Bakugou shrugs feebly, “Half an hour, I think.”

“You sure you don't want to go through the exercises one more time-”

“I'm fine. Quit stalling and get your ass over here.”

Bakugou is tired of waiting, and slaps his hands into Kaminari’s upturned ones. They're clammy, and Kaminari doesn't wanna mention the stink of nitroglycerin, terribly difficult to wash out. But it's Bakugou. He’s always been a slippery guy to catch, leaving permanent sweat patches in shirts and being generally hard to get rid of.

It's a tad embarrassing to have to use his whole body to help Bakugou up, Kaminari nowhere near as heavy set or built as him. They go through the motions, Bakugou shaking the soreness from his legs and using Kaminari as a crutch when needed.

“Sorry in advance if I’m messing up your groove.” Kaminari knows he's got terrible balance, and isn't steady like the bars in the clinic that are drilled to the floor.

“You're not that much of a pushover.” Bakugou says, stopping for an acute pause. “Okay, maybe a little, but that's because you never eat a lot.”

Kaminari keeps an eye on where Bakugou’s toes are so he doesn't step on them. “I do too! I just have high metabolism.” And sucky eating habits.

“Or it takes all that food to get your puny brain working in the first place,” Bakugou teases, “nothing is left after that.” He takes a step, and Kaminari moves back to make room, all the while holding his arm. Bakugou, then Kaminari, and then Bakugou again. It's like dancing, except their aim is the far wall in one direction and not to spin in a circle. “Maybe that metabolism of yours will slow down. Then you'll really regret eating so unhealthily.”

“You're one to talk. You eat so much spicy food, you probably already burned a hole right through your stomach.” Kaminari’s feet touch the edge of the carpet, a first for Bakugou making it through two whole rooms.

“My sweat is made to blow up, I’m sure I’ve got some fireproof components floating around in my body.” He talks for the sake of talking, distracting himself from overthinking this too much. There's sweat gathering at his temple, but Bakugou doesn't look ready to stop. And so they keep going.

Kaminari clamps his mouth shut, seeing the smug smile Bakugou wears, a show of a sign that he knows he's won.

“Almost like we’re out going ice skating again, huh?” Bolder now, Bakugou speaks. “Except there's nowhere to get your stupid tongue stuck on.” He must remember it in great detail. After all, he’d been the one to get Kaminari free without completely blowing off his face, not before laughing for two straight minutes first.

Kaminari cracks up, too loud to his own ears. He’s confident that his tongue is now stuck to the roof of his mouth like glue. His hands are simultaneously cold and burning up from Bakugou’s strong grip, not that Kaminari would find it in him to complain, not when they’ve done more progress today than in the last week.

His choker feels tights when he swallows, and the urge to scratch his nose has never been greater. “Do you wanna stop-”

Bakugou interrupts him before he can finish, pinching right below where the sore on his nose sits. A snort of surprise cuts Kaminari off, and his breath stutters once Bakugou removes his fingers.

“I’m not stopping until we make it over to that side of the room, even if you have to drag me there.” That doesn’t sound pleasant, Kaminari wants to say. Bakugou is focused on his nose, and Kaminari has an itch to rub at it from how Bakugou moves into his personal space and speaks, “And if that visor keeps bothering you, go get it adjusted, stupid.”

He's so close that Kaminari bumps his knuckles on his cheek when he reaches to touch where he'd last felt Bakugou’s fingers, the sensation of Bakugou clamping down and pinching on it like a child looking for attention still fresh in his mind. Bakugou normally isn't normally touchy or teasing, yet here he was, hand held up as he puts his weight on the entwined fingers keeping him up.

He really did act like a kid sometimes.

“You're the boss.”

Bakugou retreats, steadier on his feet than he's ever been. Kaminari likes to think he's helped with that.

 


 

“I can hardly believe it's already fall.” Late fall served them nature in brown leaves and bare trees and the crisp breeze will soon ride the coattails of a cold winter. This whole week had been rainy, but with the sun out, the grass is dry enough to lay in, and Kaminari can go around with a light sweater and relish the company of dragging a friend outside.

Said friend kicks up wet leaves, ticked off beyond belief. “What's so fucking great about it.” Bakugou spits the words out, crabby about losing the argument with Kaminari about today's plans.

He'd only given in after Kaminari promised to let him make plans for next time, and it’s not like Kaminari is very happy about how things turned out either. The price it took to convince Bakugou had left Kaminari with an I-owe-you of a trip to the local nature trail, already mourning the aching feet he’ll have by the end of it. At the mere thought of trekking around and breaking trail with Bakugou, the image of a sweaty Bakugou wouldn't be bad at all if Kaminari didn't factor in how many bugs there’d be. He can only comfort himself with the hopes that Bakugou wears something extra showy and is armed to be teeth with bug spray that day.

For today, though, they stroll along a path cutting through the city park, looking for a good spot in the grass to wind down from the walk. The latest recommendation was for Bakugou to go outside more and stretch his legs. Kaminari prides himself in the idea that this’ll serve as a good starting point. A walk in the park would be, well, a walk in the park.

The best thing Kaminari can do now is stay positive and try not to calculate how much bug spray he’ll have to bring with him when the day comes. “I thought it'd be a nice change of pace. No more dreary white walls or stunning view of the city.”

“Ex-fucking-cuse you, I haven't exactly had the time to sit down and take a week off to paint every room in my house to fit your liking.” Bakugou’s eyes shoot fire at Kaminari from behind the bright maroon shades he’d borrowed. He digs his hands further into his pockets, keeping the dead giveaway that is his quirk from being noticed when his anger spikes, “And you're contradicting yourself. You love how high my place is.”

“Right you are. Did you really get too busy to do some basic renovating, Mr. Number Four Hero?”

“That's Number One to you.” Bakugou pulls the drawstrings of his hood, hiding his ashy blond hair from the world. Despite being so high ranking, Bakugouーlike many other heroes who have to disappear from the public eye for classified reasonsーhasn't exactly released an official statement yet, the news and all close friends vouching for his awaited return to the hero world. If Kaminari has managed to get a good read on the working of Bakugou’s mind somewhere during all this, he can predict that reveal happening only when Bakugou is ready to go back to work. A healthy body is a healthy mind, or so they say.

He must be working hard to go back to doing the thing he loves.

“Absolutely, you've got top spot in my heart!” Which wasn't exactly a lie.

“That's how it should be,” Bakugou grumbles. Kaminari takes great satisfaction in how Bakugou wrenches his hand out to smack him upside the head. The hit jostles the glasses above Kaminari’s brows to fall over his eyes. He's about to return the favor when someone makes the connection and calls him by his hero name, and Kaminari’s attention is wrangled away by the voices of excited children and happy parents.

Kaminari may not be as popular, but he does have a few kids running up to him asking for autographs whenever he's out on the streets. Him and Bakugou have quite recognizable features, but Kaminari doesn't ever bother to put on a disguise, loving the mingling and publicity. He grins and puts on a little light show and even chats with the adults.

Bakugou sticks to his side, hovering almost. He raises no questions, lingering like any other person with a phone in hand to hide his face.

By the time they leave the scene, they're walking together at a respectable distance.

“Why didn't you join in? You're pretty good with kids,” Kaminari says, taking a step closer and cutting that gap to nothing.

Bakugou gives him a sidelong glance. “I hate stupid questions.” Kaminari makes a noise of disappointment, feeling shot down, and Bakugou crack under the pressure, “... From kids and their damn nosy parents, that is.”

He appears lost on what to say, ending up with a stiff compliment of, “Plus, you had it under control.” That's the best Kaminari is gonna get, and he’s stupidly happy about it.

“Hey, you know what would be a good idea right about now?”

 


 

“Ready, and…. switch.”

Kaminari rolls over onto his stomach, the firm rubber of the mat leaving patterned imprints on his fingers. He puts his weight on his hands and checks on Bakugou across from him, who boredly follows his lead. This is the most action Bakugou ever sees these days; stretching and light exercise to keep Bakugou from going insane in between therapy sessions.

They’re deep in the park, away from the crowded entrances where Bakugou can shed the hood and glasses and not have to worry about being pointed out as a pro-hero. Nobody really thinks to approach a pair of guys that are stretching when there's dozens of people around doing more exciting things.

“I get that you wanna work me until I’m dead,” Bakugou begins, neutral in his standings on their walk being interrupted, “but why’re you a part of this?”

“I don't really have anything else better to do.” And it's not like Kaminari gets nearly as much exercise as he should, now that he's been spending all his free time on a couch. Sadly enough, he's beginning to notice the glaring symptoms of becoming a couch potato in his cracking joints and sore neck. That, and...

“Did you know I taught a yoga class once?” Kaminari’s eyes light up in memory. “It was awesome. Man, back then, there were some positions that even you haven't seen me do before-”

“Now is not the time,” Bakugou says with considerable strain, changing his mind.

“Fair enough,” Kaminari says smoothly, sending a wicked smile Bakugou’s way, “I could always show you.” He’s certain that Bakugou’s eyes bug out of their sockets when Kaminari balances on his hands, feet no longer touching the ground in a show of control and a little something else.

No.” Bakugou bans any and all positions Kaminari had learned from that “yoga” class, tongue-tied as he berates him.

 


 

“Mina?” Kaminari finally gets around to unpacking the office, and goes to toss out the empty boxes, passing by an office that wasn't vacant before. “Are we getting a new co-worker?”

He never caught the name of whoever had worked there, so it must've not been someone important. Mina doesn't make mention of it either, taping together a paper masterpiece on her cluttered desk, “If by co-worker you mean a pro-hero with their very own office, then yes.”

“Man, I wish I can get my own office,” Sero despairs, keeping his arm still for Mina.

She tears another strip, sticking it to what Kaminari hopes is disposable paper, “You have an office.”

“An office without a view is no office to me.” Sero sticks to his ideals, when he has them.

“Then how about the janitor’s closet? I’m sure you're familiar with that room by now with how many lunch breaks you take in there,” Mina teases, indirectly admitting that there's only one reason she knows thisーthat being she joins him on a day-to-day basis.

There's a prolonged silence in the office space. Sero bends his arm, and the room is filled with the sound of tape tearing, mixed in with Mina’s shocked cry over her ruined art. Kaminari spares himself the trouble of asking, taking one last glance at the bare room before going over to break up the lover’s quarrel between friends.

It certainly had to be a famous pro-hero to even be considered a candidate for a job and an office before they'd begun working.

 


 

“So, how's Blasty?”

Kaminari stops perusing the food menu. After calling over everyone in the area for lunch, Kirishima arrives later than the rest, sliding into the booth seat.

“To think that my best friend doesn't bother to ask me about my day,” Kaminari feints a broken heart, “Bakugou isn't even here and you're more worried about him than your poor pal who has to take care of him every day.”

“Judging from the sound of it, you've been having a pretty good day.” Kirishima squints in scrutiny.

“You know me so well.” Picking up the menu again, he smiles brightly. “He's doing great, actually.”

“Why not invite him over to the party next week? I bet he'd feel left out if you just went off and ditched him like last time,” Kirishima suggests. Kirishima has a tendency to throw parties at random for just friends, with a buffet-like meal prepared.

He smiles at the waiter bringing them their drinks, five sodas of varying colors for their other friends who are outside. “We both know that things would've ended up in disaster if I invited him out to go drinking of all things.”

“Then tell him that his dear friends miss him, or better yet, break out that charm of yours.” Kirishima takes his, a fitting ruby color. “Unless you want a repeat of last time.”

Kaminari stirs his drink, mixing up the contents on the bottom. “You never told me what was so shocking about me getting drunk last month.”

That gets Kirishima to stop with his lips hovering over his straw. “Uhh… you hardly ever get drunk unless you got something to say.”

Kaminari stands, rolling up a sleeve. “Oh, I’ve got some words for you.”

Kirishima smiles around the straw, pushing him back into his seat. “Just ask him, it’ll be okay.”

Kaminari stares down at his yellow drink, watching the ice swirl around. “Mm, I’ll think about it.”

 


 

It would certainly be the perfect opportunity to get him back into the social circle.

“Bakugou~” Kaminari calls, opening the front door wide in an exaggerated wave of his arm. He stands in the doorway, refreshed from an enjoyable lunch break with friends.

The door hits the adjacent wall, and from his seat at the dining table, Bakugou looks up from his book to greet him sourly. “I know that tone. I refuse to do whatever it is you want me to do.”

“Aww, and here I was, so excited to see you.” Kaminari walks around the table to stand behind his chair. “I have some news I know you're gonna love.”

Bakugou has his eyes on him the whole time. “Does that include you shutting up after this?” He isn't humored, left to be the one to bite instead. “What is it.”

“There's a party at Kirishima’s place for no reason other than cooking as much food as we can stuff ourselves with, and-”

“I’ll pass.” Bakugou opens up his book, and Kaminari gladly takes it out of his hands.

“Now now, you didn't let me finish.” Kaminari points a finger, and Bakugou seriously looks like he's debating biting said finger off if it got too close. “You don't want to hang out with your- our friends? Don't tell me you've never gone to their house before? Don't they only live a mile away?”

“I’m usually dragged over there from work. I shouldn't have to see them when I’m not working,” Bakugou argues. It was a love-hate relationship, apparently.

“It’ll be nice to get out of the house. Be with friends who want to see how you're doing. And I'm sure you need a break from being in your room all day.” Kaminari hits Bakugou with reason after reason, really wanting him to go. Kirishima had told everyone, and they were all equally pumped to see their friend who never answered their texts or calls.

Bakugou doesn't share the same sentiment, crossing his arms. “I'm perfectly fine here.”

Kaminari wiggles through Bakugou’s body barrier he puts up, pulling at his hand. “Up we go.”

“I don't want to,” with a hint of a whine, Bakugou puts reluctance into every step he takes to the bedroom, Kaminari leading the way.

“Yeah you do. You suck at lying. Don't you want to show off how tough you are, big guy? They’re gonna be disappointed that you aren't shuffling around like an old man, though, like in the videos I showed them-” Bakugou raises his hand, and Kaminari knows a fighting stance when he sees one, “-Bakugou, wait!”

He gets an explosion to the faceーall smoke, leaving him sneezing for the rest of the morningーbut that doesn't explicitly mean no.

Chapter Text

A good old reunion with friends kicks off without a hitch.

Bakugou receives lots of positive reception from their friends, more than he'd expected. Then again, they've been there for him since the start no matter how far he’s shoved them away, all possessing surface level knowledge about the breakup. Those who knew it in greater detail and were the exception, were Kirishima, Mina, and Sero, the first to greet them when they rang the doorbell.

Mina is gentle with her hugs but loud in his ear, “Bakugou, you actually made it!” She could be mistaken for being under the influence of Uraraka’s quirk, bouncing on her toes like she was weightless, pointing a pink finger at him, “It kinda makes me mad that all it took was Kaminari to convince you, when I could've asked him to do the same thing so you wouldn't miss my birthday party last summer!”

She's tall with her dangerously arched heels, and Bakugou knows he isn't gonna be getting out of this hug without lipstick being smeared on his cheek. “I had work, mind your own business.”

“Not when I hear Kaminari talking about you so much. Nowadays I always gotta hear ‘Bakugou this, Bakugou that.’ It's almost like you never left!”

Kaminari tends to get real talkative about things he's passionate about. Bakugou raises an eyebrow at Kaminari, who laughs nervously, “Now Mina, I’m sure he didn't wanna come here to be interrogated.”

“I wasn't interrogating him!” Mina starts, geared to getting a hefty explanation out of Bakugou, when Sero butts in and begins to steer her to the food table.

Sero pats her shoulders. “You kinda were. Come on, let's go get some of that dip you were so excited to try.” He goes, not without smiling at Bakugou first.

Bakugou watches them leave, and Kaminari nudges him, “Lively as ever, huh.”

“Annoying as fuck. All of you,” Bakugou snaps. To think he'd considered missing these guys.

Kaminari thinks otherwise, “You miss it.”

They were cool when it counted. Bakugou shrugs, “I don't not appreciate the attention, if that's what you're asking.” That gets Kaminari to grin. Bakugou doesn't return it. The expression he wears is something close, a silent appreciation, brightening Kaminari’s mood further.

As expected, they become separated early on. Kaminari is dragged off to the couch, while Bakugou is left with Kirishima, who jabs a thumb over at the table that's suspiciously set up for playing cards.“How about we go a few rounds?”

Come to think of it, it's strange to be in the company of somebody other than Kaminari. Amidst all the confusing events that have transpired in light of this year, Kaminari has always served as an outlet that connects Bakugou with much of the other groups; so while Bakugou knows how to deal with the worst of social disasters thanks to the help of a walking disaster, it’ll take a fair bout of adjusting to get real comfortable.

Bakugou kicks the front door shut, finding it left open by the other houseguests to allow in the cool air. There's the smell of food coming from the kitchen. It stirs Bakugou’s hunger. “I thought you hate gambling?” Bakugou asks, itching to grab a plate.

“The most I’ve got to gamble is my time, and they say time is priceless, right?” Kirishima says.

Bakugou corrects him, “It's ‘time is precious’, but you do you, I guess.”

Kirishima snaps his fingers, “Yeah, that's what I mean! The point is, it's just a game. Win or lose, who cares, right?”

“You're just saying that so you don't feel sad about losing,” Bakugou checks his cards, unimpressed by his luck. So much for an exciting game. Food sounds more appealing with each passing second.

“Who says I'm gonna be the loser?” Kirishima argues, pouting.

Bakugou grins despite himself, “Me.”

Halfway through the game, Bakugou develops a prickling itch on his neck, a pair of eyes peeking over his shoulder, and finds Kaminari precariously leaning over the back of the couch to join in, watching the riveting gameplay of Kirishima morphing his face into impossible expressions as he decides on what to do.

There's a whisper in his ear. “Think you're gonna win, Bakugou?”

Bakugou nods, covering his cards. Kaminari gives him a thumbs up, his smile leaning to the side. “Awesome.”

Kirishima openly stares, and Bakugou doesn't doubt that there are others outside his field of vision that are also watching. Last they checked, Bakugou and Kaminari weren't on such friendly terms. “Why do you care? You looking to leech off my winnings or something?”

Kaminari is nice enough to look sort of guilty. “Nooo maybe.” He points to the candy at the top of the winner’s pile, the biggest bar of chocolate. How was Bakugou supposed to take this seriously if they were betting candy? Bakugou doubts any of this stuff is new, leftover from last halloween. “Win me that.”

“So demanding,” Bakugou grumbles.

“I have plenty reason to be demanding after you ate all my chips the other day.” The stubborn pout Kaminari has on is cute, not that it should be important.

Bakugou ignores much of this first game, not feeling the vibe to play hard, leaning back to better talk with Kaminari. “How was I supposed to know they were yours? They were my favorite kind.”

Kaminari shoves him in the shoulder. “Dick.”

Bakugou throws his hand back, aiming to hit him. He misses. “Ass. That sounds like a you problem.”

“Says the egotistical guy.”

 


 

Two games and twenty minutes later, the screaming coming from whoever is playing the game pulls Kaminari back into the action, and Bakugou feels strangely bare, staring at his cards. Something bumps his foot, and he looks up to Kirishima across from him.

“So, when're you going to tell him?” The question lacks context, hardly piquing Bakugou’s interest, “I don't mean that thing, but the other thing.”

Bakugou chances a glance at the couch, making sure Kaminari is out of earshot. He’d stopped peeking over Bakugou’s shoulder to take his turn to play. If Bakugou were to judge anything by the sound of Kaminari’s complaining, he wasn't doing as well as he'd hoped once he had finally wrangled the controller from Jirou, who had lost the last match. When he turns back, Kirishima is smiling smugly behind his cards.

He couldn't exactly tell Kirishima to stop giving him that look when Kaminari was here making comments, chin resting on his shoulder as he poked and prodded at Bakugou’s chances of winning, victory already sealed. For someone who doesn't play, Kaminari sure knows a lot about poker.

Bakugou stays, putting down his cards, “What are you talking about?”

The broad definition of “ the other thing” can only mean the paper he'd submitted yesterday. It's likely that Kirishima would know, since all staff are always notified of heroes switching agencies.

In the circle consisting of Momo, the mediator, and Tetsutetsu, the designated loser eliminated early into the game, Bakugou can care less who's listening, knowing that Momo has more important things to worry about than some conversation involving Bakugou doing something questionably serious, and Tetsutetsu is likely in the same boat as his oversharing boyfriend, and doesn't care much either.

It's strange, to have so many people present to offer advice, staying vigilant in respect of his privacyーor at the very least, didn't pry like Kirishima, whose dream is to solve everyone's problems, looking kickass while doing it, and then some.

“C’mon, Bakugou, like you didn't think I’d get a notice from the office of you planning something.” Kirishima looks considerably interested in the conversation rather than his entire bet of lollipops that are on the line here, pitching forward so close that Bakugou nearly gets a look at his cards.

“You better fucking keep it to yourself, then.” Bakugou shoves him back into his seat. “And… soon. Quit pestering me.”

“Me? Ruin a secret? Never.” Kirishima flashes two rows of sharp, jagged teeth. He's having way too much fun with this, and Bakugou seriously contemplates whether to shove this royal flush down Kirishima’s throat or watch his crestfallen face as Bakugou claims the week’s worth of free lunch he’d also carelessly bid off.

At Momo’s word, Bakugou goes for the second choice, savoring the refreshing win until it had sunk deep into his bones. Kirishima congratulates him with watery eyes, making the victory all the more sweeter.

He reaches for the top of the prize pile and tosses Kaminari the candy that he’d been eyeing so intensely, a little something that Tetsutetsu had thrown in when he couldn't figure out what else to put down once he’d accepted that he was going to lose. It hits Kaminari in the forehead, and Bakugou watches the virtual car veer sharply off the track when Kaminari lunges for it.

Cradling the candy as though it holds life’s secrets, Kaminari immediately searches for him, mouth open in surprise. Bakugou scrunches his nose in hopes of looking annoyed, “Now are you gonna stop losing?”

He gets that same dumb stare before Kaminari snorts out a laugh as Kirishima mourns his loss in the hazy background, “Nope, because I suck at this game.”

While Momo collects the cards and restores Kirishima’s will to play with a newly shuffled deck, Kaminari hands over the controller to the next person so he can have his hands free to unravel the plastic wrapping. Snapping the chocolate into two, he holds one end out for Bakugou, “Wanna try?”

Kaminari had made such a big deal about the candy, only to offer up the bigger piece to share. Bakugou doesn't smile back, but the sweet taste melting in his mouth has him fighting one off.

Catching Kaminari’s smile as he bites into the chocolate, Kirishima finds it an appropriate moment to ask Bakugou for a rematch, begging to play another round.

Bakugou finds himself in the kitchen after three more games of wiping the table with Kirishima’s face, bored of easy wins and looking for something to drink. The kitchen is a sanctuary where he can take a breather and stretch his back a little, ending up standing before the fridge and debating a very bad idea of his as he reaches up and feels the muscles in his back sigh in relief with the motion.

“Fuck, alright. I can do this shit. No yelling or causing a scene. Maybe comment on how his hair looks? He likes that, right?” At that, Bakugou tugs at a strand of his own hair, looking at himself in the distorted reflection. Does he still remember what Kaminari likes? The better question should be why he cares in the first place. He certainly wasn't planning on talking with Kaminari and sitting close to him at a party, the first he’s attended since, well…

Not at all.

“Oh who am I kidding, screw it,” Bakugou growls.

“Bakugou, are you… talking to the refrigerator?” Tetsutetsu asks, the only one allowing people access to the kitchen for three reasons: to cook, to keep anyone from getting into the wine cabinet after deeming this an alcohol-free party, and to stop strange instances like Bakugou giving himself an impromptu pep talk with their stainless steel fridge.

Forgetting that he'd come in here for something to drink, he wrenches the door open and grabs the first drink he sees, storming past Tetsutetsu with just the right amount of red on his face to name it anger. “No, fuck off!”

Somehow, in the five minutes he'd been gone, his seat had become occupied, and the place beside Kaminari had become vacant. Must be thanks to Sero, who looks way too comfortable in the stiff chairs that are hard for anyone besides Kirishima and Tetsutetsu to sit in. Even Bakugou can testify to them being hard on the back, but his injury is to blame for his pickiness.

Sero calls out to him the moment he enters the room, “Why not get some rest on the couch, Bakugou? It's much softer.”

The concern would've been convincing if Bakugou hadn't seen Kirishima and Sero shake hands just now over something, and if Kirishima wasn't giving him such an enthusiastic thumbs up, “I should make you eat shit for how much of it you spout, Soy-Sauce Face.”

“Not with the bet I got riding on this,” Sero shrugs, blowing the cover he never truly had. “Have a seat, man, I worry about you sometimes.”

A bet on what exactly, Bakugou finds the answer to when he takes the only place left in the living room to sit, not sticking around to stand and have his friends watch him like hawks. Of course they'd want to put the two exes together and see what happens. If they were expecting a make up just like that, Bakugou was going to disappoint. The best they’re gonna get is what they've already seen today, and any reconciliation of the sort was a bit too early for Bakugou’s taste.

Not that he'd ever considered getting back together with Kaminari or anything. Definitely wasn't a possibility that's crossed his mind before. Never.

Bakugou rolls his eyes at the denial, disgusted with how weak his own internal arguments sound, and mumbles to Kaminari, “Hey, move your leg.”

Kaminari looks up at him confused, but shifts to make space, since Bakugou takes up much more space than Sero does, in a personality sort of way. Bakugou drops onto the cushions, arm slung over the back of the couch, not meant to be taken as being forward, but if he were to come to that conclusion without thinking, it's likely Kaminari has too.

He’s met with nothing close to that, Kaminari sitting back to regard him curiously, “What’re you doing?”

Bakugou doesn't think he needs a reason to do whatever he pleases, “I’m sitting.”

He sees Kaminari laugh and say with words laden in sarcasm, “Wow, I didn't notice. But seriously, what’re you doing here? You sure you wanna sit here?” Kaminari looks over at who's beside Bakugou, and with a sense of impending doom, Bakugou really should've noticed the other occupants of the couch, one smiling and the other glaring at him witheringly.

“Hi Kacchan!” Midoriya greets with that annoying pitch that hasn’t lowered with age. Nothing ever seemed to change about Midoriya, no matter how long Bakugou avoided him.

“Long time no walk- I mean talk, of course.” Todoroki doesn't waste any time, thinking he's smiling good-naturedly like any concerned friend would do, but Bakugou can hear him bullshitting with the sarcasm. Midoriya chastises Todoroki while Bakugou keeps his temper in check, knowing that Kaminari is watching. He can't help the eye twitching, however.

Of course he'd seen Todoroki and Midoriya arrive fashionably late to the get togetherーit was impossible to ignore this prefecture’s favorite power couple, rivaled in the region by just about every goddamn couple that made up their old hero class. Go figure that they’re also the current pillars of society, with a few upperclassmen added into the mix. God knows how often Bakugou has had to deal with the Big Three Annoyances that visit whenever they return from abroad in another country.

So that's why the sofa felt so shitty and uncomfortable, he was here. Bakugou jerks his arm back from where it'd been painfully digging in Todoroki’s side, feeling satisfied with the small victories that the universe continues to grace him. Too bad it isn't kind enough to give him a rest from the questioning that Midoriya blares into his ears, and it just has to be about him and Kaminari.

Bakugou stubbornly makes himself comfortable in the thick of it all, Todoroki’s right side turning his arm into ice and Kaminari leaving his other arm tingling without a single volt of electricity. “Yeah, I’m sure,” he says, answering Kaminari’s earlier question.

Sparing a glance to the table, Bakugou almost falters, woe to find that the audience at the table has nearly doubled. Sero whistles, and the others express varying stages of joyーeven Momo, who smiles beside Jirou. Nosy bastards.

Kaminari doesn't look convinced, but settles back into place to watch the next game between friends, shoulders pressing against Bakugou and loose hair from his ponytail tickling his skin. Bakugou considers the options of brushing it away and leaving it there. Either way, he's left to endure Midoriya’s giggling, Todoroki’s oozing smugness, and Kaminari’s closeness as he cheers on the losing players with a hand perched on Bakugou’s knee.

They’ve come to a pleasant, friendly level of companionship, that's it. Then these guys had to bring love and all that sappy shit into the equation and say fuck you to rationality.

Bakugou flips off the group huddled at the table when Kaminari isn't looking.

Chapter Text

With the night over, Kaminari was looking forward to getting home and crashing on his bed for a long deserved rest. With the keys jammed into the ignition of his car, Kaminari hears the weak sputter of an engine that isn't going to start, and all his hopes for a good night’s sleep go down the drain.

Despair falls over Kaminari, and he tries again, and again, “Oh god, please start.” No response this time. “C’mon girl, I know I'm three weeks late for that oil change. You can forgive me, can't you?” One last ditch effort in starting the car, and the headlights flicker on, but no good sounds come from under the hood. It's grating to the ears, and Kaminari winces at his stroke of bad luck.

This was his only mode of transportation, trains and skateboards aside. One is useful until missions get relocated miles away from any station, while the other is plain impossible to use without being hours late. It was a sign of the times and the dependence for cars, as well as a reminder that Kaminari needs to take better care of his possessions, especially one that costs so much money.

Bakugou stands outside, propped up on the open car door and thumbing at the scorch mark that had been put there by him all those weeks ago, “Talking to the car isn't gonna get it to start.” He's uncharacteristically accepting of the fate of Kaminari’s car, probably because he isn't the owner who pays for maintenance.

Kaminari presses his face into the wheel, the pressure short of activating the horn and alerting the street of his distress, “This is the worst.”

Bakugou looks down the street, towards a familiar building. “Isn't your place just around the corner-”

Kaminari laughs loudly, shaking his head, “What? No, I definitely don't live at a walking distance from here. Wouldn't it be better to just crash at Kiri’s place?” He's already out of the car and climbing the steps leading to Kirishima’s front door. He wasn't mentally prepared for inviting Bakugou into his home, especially not alone.

“We already claimed the couches,” Sero and Mina chime in unison, standing in the way of Kaminari pushing past them. Further in, Todoroki and Midoriya take up the last of the the three couches, no longer awake to see this turn of events. He was really regretting convincing Tetsutetsu and Kirishima to turn their only spare bedroom into a workout room.

Kaminari begs his friends with his eyes. They wouldn't. Mina's got a taste for mischief, and Sero backs her up on this, “Bakugou, you can make it there, right?” Oh, but they would.

Bakugou doesn't have to think for even a moment, “Second door on the third floor?”

Sero nods, “Hasn't changed.”

“Bakugou!” Kaminari whips his head around. He's being left out of the conversation so he can't have the final say, which is quite rude coming from someone like Sero. “This is too sudden!”

“I’m not gonna wait here while you try starting the car up with your electricity,” Kaminari falters at the point Bakugou makes, it's clear he's made up his mind, “The problem is oil, not the battery.”

Kirishima pops up like he'd been listening in for some time, standing over the two doorkeepers, “We’ll watch the car. No point moving it now. Tetsu can take a look at it in the morning.” Kirishima ushers him with a hand, thinking the smile he's got on is encouraging. It makes Kaminari feel like he’s being sent to a questionable demise, “Go on.”

Sero gives him a thumbs up, the traitor, “You’ll be fine.”

Mina pumps her fist up in a silent cheer, the other traitor, “You’ll be fine! He won't bite unless you ask him.”

Kaminari seriously considers dying on the spot, but that would mean he'd never get to see what karma will befall these three troublemakers for pulling the carpet from under him. He relinquishes the key to Kirishima, not wanting to keep Bakugou waiting or give his friends the benefit of the doubt by saying thank you. He could save that for when he makes it through tonight. No, not when, if.

Nothing good can from this, unless a miracle occurs.

“I don't know how they're all so chipper,” Kaminari starts down the cement path, Bakugou trailing him. The good night wishes from the others fade with distance, and Kaminari only raises his voice once they're far enough, “And you, what's up with you?”

“Isn't this easier for everyone?” It takes three of Kaminari’s strides to match two of Bakugou’s, and in no time, their steps are synced under the artificial streetlights. “And your argument was weak from the start.”

“It could've worked.” Short-circuiting of the brain isn’t much of a problem for Kaminari anymore, but jumpstarting a car and giving it too much juice than necessary could've proven fatal. Kaminari can't deny that Bakugou is right. “Okay, I guess you're right. Most of the time, you’re the one who does the opposite of what you're told. I… wanna make sure they didn't drag you into this, that's all.” He knows his friends well enough to take their plans with a grain of salt.

“They’re way happier about getting a couch each to themselves than seeing us go, trust me.” Bakugou makes a true statementーSero and Mina ended up having to room together at a relative's place after being booted from their apartment for having too many parties, so the two best friends must be glad to have time to themselves tonightーbut Kaminari knows how much their friends are rooting for this to work out, to the point where they'd make up a plan in such short time to where everybody wins. Some partーa large partーof Kaminari hopes so too.

The way to Kaminari’s apartment is shorter with company, and Kaminari doesn't have to help Bakugou up the stairs with how easy the walk is. Their conversation hadn't gone anywhere, fading out and leaving silence in their wake. Kaminari unlocks the door and lets Bakugou in, hanging off the doorknob as Bakugou enters first and takes a look at the place.

There's a stark contrast in their living spaces. Bakugou’s is all open layout, natural lighting, furniture that's hardly broken in, minimalist to the tee. He never invites people over unless they annoy him into doing so, and Kaminari only ever finds Bakugou in the kitchen or his room, all other household essentials left to fill the space for other people, which leaves the reasoning to circle around in a loop of Bakugou trying and failing to keep his apartment off limits, while making it really hard for his friends not to see the appeal of hanging out and making good use of his stuff. He has the nicest apartment, after all.

His bedroom is an exception, the only room with a homey enough feeling, with bookshelves stacked to the brim and spare costume parts lying around on his desk, to hold a fire to the cluttered space of Kaminari’s apartment.

Kaminari trails Bakugou, passing through the entryway and making a path at through the boots Kaminari had shoved out of the way to get the door open. He's been meaning to lay off on the hoarding. It was doing a number to the little space he has to spare in his house. Soon, and Kaminari will be owning more footwear than clothes.

Clutter aside, Kaminari can pride himself in how, well... Kaminari the place looksーit can't be mistaken for another.

It's got a completely different feel from Bakugou’s trimmed walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. Bakugou hadn’t wanted those extra details, the design being overlooked by his request for a big apartment and little else in terms of specifics. He hadn't complained once he'd had the keys, so it must not bother Bakugou to indulge in things he doesn't care much for.

Meanwhile, Kaminari had taken a lot of inspiration from his old school dorm when it came to deciding on where and what he wanted his apartment to look like, small but comfortably allowing his hobbies to reside in peace. He's got a gaming system tucked away under the coffee table in the living room, and a couch swallowed by blankets. The rooms were tucked close together, the halls were few, most doors could be seen from the entrance, and the ceiling was low enough for Kaminari to jump up and reach on a good day. His latest trip to the hospital had him towing home a spare generator in return for helping out with another power outage. Safely kept out of reach lest he activate it by accident and wake up the whole floor, the generator takes up a good chunk of living room space, shiny and out of place to the backsplash of rustic green walls.

After high school, he'd been left with a plethora of gaudy, tacky stuff that he'd bought from constantly succumbing to his fleeting desires as a student and had left his wallet empty of allowance with every monthーboxes upon boxes of them. There's no way Kaminari can get rid of any of it, that would be a waste of spent money. They may be materialistically wash to replace, but he wasn't about to discard them because he was past using skateboards for shelves or music gear as decorations. They hold sentimental value, and soundly decorate the walls of his room, where they belong.

“Ever heard of spring cleaning?” Bakugou says, although it's two seasons late for that, and Kaminari doesn't remember the last time he's invited someone over who didn't also leave their place in a similar state of disarray. It isn't exactly priority for a hero to keep their home in tip-top shape.

Bakugou's the clean freak out of the two, there's no questioning it. While he had the energy to help clean the whole dorm after a bad day at the beach that left everyone up to their ears in sand, Kaminari could hardly keep up with anything beyond doing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom back when he was living with his parents.

He would already be drained by the time he got to the other tasks, and the heavy lifting was a no-go. Being an adult, Kaminari could still feel his dad shaking him awake to take out the trash after forgetting to do it the night before. Those kinds of reminders were hard to break with his parents residing in another prefecture, one call away but always ready to chastise him if he slacked on his chores.

Smiling at the memory, Kaminari glimpses the empty trash bin in the one clean spot of the kitchen, “Decluttering doesn't really exist in this house.”

“And neither does proper ventilation either, apparently,” Bakugou says, smelling the air freshener from yesterday that's gone stale in the air, if that was possible. Kaminari had flooded the room with it to cover up the smell of burnt food when he'd failed an attempt at trying his hand on another dish. Dealing with fish isn’t his strong point at all.

Bakugou gives a cursory glance at the kitchen, observing the sloppy cleanup job. He turns his nose away and wrinkles it in distaste. Yeah, he’s noticed.

“You spend so much time at my place, why not use some of that free time to get this place back in order or something?”

His apartment doesn't fail Bakugou’s high standards, but he doesn't get flying colors either. It'd count as an organized mess, if Kaminari had to put a label on the Bakugou scale. This standard must've been born from having a mom that always told him to keep his room clean or else he wouldn't be allowed to what he wants, and a dad that thought the same, both constantly swarmed with work and leaving the duties to him.

A home is a home, no matter the oddities, and Kaminari shrugs an answer, “I keep it clean when I can. So long as no little critters are crawling around, I’m cool with a bit of mess here and there.”

Bakugou isn't amused by how Kaminari wiggles his fingers to mimic the legs of a bug, “Lazyass. So where am I sleeping.”

“Where every guest goes. My bed, of course.” Kaminari point over to his bedroom, the only room with a decoration hanging on the door.

“Guest?”

“Oh, you know,” Kaminari says, picking up a stack of magazines to move out of the walkway, “friends. Family, rarely. Cousin asked me to watch her dog a week ago, if that counts. It was nice, he's kinda old and loves sleeping all day. My bed, in particular.”

“I’m not spending the night in some tick-infested bed,” Bakugou states with finality.

Kaminari sets down the load before speaking, pointing an accusatory finger out at his rude guest, “I’m not tick-infested! And neither was that dog, thank you very much. How about the couch, then?”

Crossing his arms, Kaminari watches Bakugou do a once over of the messy couch, standing off to the side and determined not to lean on or touch it. “Nah.”

“Wouldn't that be your next choice?”

“I bet it's the same as your bed,” he's told blandly, giving him more reason to roll his eyes and fix Bakugou with a look.

Okay, Kaminari may be a messy sleeper, but he knows there’s an invisible line drawn between messy and trashy, and picks up after himself enough to know which side he belongs on.

“So the issue isn't us being in my ‘sucky’ apartment, alone, with all our friends aware of it, but the bugs?” To his amazement, Bakugou nods curtly. This is certainly opposite of the nail-biting tension he'd been expecting, dwindled down to nothing. But there’s something he isn't getting. The way Bakugou is acting is all over the place.

“What now? You expecting me to pull out a kotatsu because you've been disgraced by every piece of furniture I own?” Kaminari asks, not expecting a serious answer.

Bakugou holds his arm, fingers curled at the elbow. “Shit, I don't know. If you want to. That's… that's what people do when they hang out, yeah?”

Kaminari thinks of the wooden table and futon collecting dust in his closet from months of a lack of use, “It suits the weather. But why the sudden interest-”

Oh. Oh.

The words catch up with Kaminari, and he unfolds his arms, “Bakugou. Did you say… you wanna spend time with me?”

Bakugou isn't much of an instigator in the less-tactical parts of life. A little boost is all it takes. Bakugou's stiff fingers that press nails into skin, giving off all the hesitant, standoffish vibes that Kaminari was doubtful of just moments ago.

Kaminari can't hide the smile that creeps onto his lips. “You wanna watch movies and cuddle-”

Bakugou’s attempt at subtlety is kicked the rest of the way out the window as he grits his teeth and says with heavy emphasis, “Hang. Out.”

“-hang out together.” Hang out, cuddle, kick back and relax, it doesn't matter the reason. The fact that Bakugou is the one making the suggestion holds more sway on Kaminari than Bakugou is aware of.

“You could’ve told me straight up instead of making stupid excuses,” Kaminari tells him. Forget being annoyed, it's replaced by a giddy, almost tickling amusement taking him ahold. He pesters Bakugou, who’s taken a rest on the arm of the couch with no place to go, “Or were you embarrassed?”

He doesn't take well to being found out, pitching back when Kaminari tries prodding the truth out of him, “Hell no!” Bakugou takes too long to answer, rebuttals and half-baked excuses no longer at work.

“You so were,” Kaminari interjects smugly. He sweeps his arm out, gesturing Bakugou to a path towards his room, “Well? That kotatsu isn't gonna be set up by itself.”

The face Bakugou makes at having to work for it is priceless.

 


 

Like Kaminari had said, he was no avid fan of doing heavy lifting, so in return for being so troublesome, Bakugou has to unpack the kotatsu.

The table gets stuck midway through the hallway, and Kaminari ends up getting off his couch to help. Minutes later, they have the electric heater on, and Kaminari sinks into the soft sheets pulled up to his chin, back exposed to the cold, but a warm front to make up for it. The table is hard for his head, he doesn't want to lay back and fall asleep right at this moment, not when Bakugou wanted to hang out.

“I usually forget about this thing since it's always a hassle to take out in winter, so I normally use the heater, but man I missed this.”

Bakugou looks ready to cocoon himself and pass out. Kaminari drags out the favor and asks sweetly, “Be a darling and put in a movie, please,” getting the ticked off reaction he'd been expecting. A sour frowns, and his DVD cases are shoved to the side, Bakugou yanking a drawer open and digging around for a decent film. He watches, wondering what's going through Bakugou’s head as he mutters low. He's likely cursing Kaminari’s taste in movies.

While Bakugou decides on something to watch, Kaminari extracts himself from the futon, resisting how the warmth tempts him to stay. Bakugou is a lit fuse, preoccupied with the task of finding a movie, and a sudden grab for essentials wouldn't take Kaminari more than a minute. He quietly heads to his room, smoothing fingers over the goosebumps rising on his arms. With the days getting colder, Kaminari isn't looking forward to how much he's going to be dreading these next months.

Changing into pajamas is quick, rummaging around for his warmer clothes isn't. He checks the drawers, pulling out some dark clothes he doesn't recognize. Kaminari must've had these tucked away for quite some time. They look to be around Bakugou’s size, and Bakugou doesn't have a change of clothes with him. It wouldn't hurt to offer.

Kaminari pads through the hallway and leaves the clothes on the table for Bakugou, pausing in his quest to return back under the kotatsu to fiddle with the strings of the sweatpants. He doesn't remember his clothes being quite this loose and baggy. They slip off his waist, and the tightest setting doesn't hold them up properly. He frowns, rolling the waistband.

He's just about ready to sit back down when Bakugou stands from his crouched position, holding some action movie. “Alright, I guess we could go with this shitty movie- why are you wearing my clothes?”

Kaminari puts his hands on his hips, the folded fabric pressing into his skin, “Your clothes? Last I checked, you probably forgot them here. They’re probably in some bottom drawer I never check unless it’s.. cold...”

His eyes fall from Bakugou to the matching black low v-neck and baggy sweats he'd taken out, hit with the dawning realization that he'd just admitted to keeping Bakugou’s clothes for questionable reasons without intending to. “Uh.”

Bakugou's got a weird look on his face. It isn't good or bad, but it's unreadable. Or maybe it's Kaminari thinking that Bakugou feels unsettled by this. Then it fades to near passivity, like Bakugou doesn't see the big deal behind it. “It doesn't really matter,” comes so suddenly that Kaminari stands rooted in place, far too late to react for Bakugou to notice as he takes the clothes without another word.

He follows Bakugou with his eyes, “Uh, okay.” It doesn't take much for basic motor skills to kick in and put his body back under the blanket of heat, hugging the warm sheets to his chest for some semblance of feeling.

Kaminari takes the remote that Bakugou had so graciously placed on the table for him, fiddling with the settings. He averts his eyes to Bakugou changing, and doesn't complain about the warmth that escapes the enclosure of the futon when Bakugou pulls up the sheet and joins him, “You don't think it's weird? That I still have your clothes.”

“Not as weird as you flirting with me.” Not as weird as Bakugou choosing to squeeze into a space meant for two people who are okay with bumping knees and sitting so close to make out the freckles on one’s nose? Maybe it's not weird at all. Maybe it's completely normal.

Kaminari looks at Bakugou from his side profile, tempted to crane his neck and see better. To stare at Bakugou until he had his fill, and then keep on staring. “Have I been that obvious?”

“That's up for debate now,” Bakugou makes it sound like a bad thing. He could turn the news of a baby that's just been born into a threat with that tone. His face says otherwise, strangely passive as he leans forward on his elbow. He glances at Kaminari once. “It could be worse.”

Worse how, Kaminari almost asks, thrown off by the dichotomy of his words to his actions. It could be worse if he flirted more. In a it-doesn't-kill-me-to-hear-you-try-but-it’s-pretty-damn-close-to sort of way, or an I-like-it-but-I’d-rather-die-than-admit-it kind of way?

Like a scene from a generic soap opera Kaminari must've seen before, a hand bigger than his points the remote higher, “You’re pointing it too low.”

Kaminari forgets all about the dampness of it as the movie starts up, and the buzzing of the heater that keeps them both warm through the night.

 


 

Morning is a silent affair, Kaminari waking to his face stuck to the low table, a suffocating sensation of heat, and a cramping neck. Cradling the area of pain, the first thing he does is check on Bakugou, who had the right mind to recline into his back, arm thrown up in substitute for the pillows Kaminari hadn't taken out.

By now, the heater has turned the underbelly of the kotatsu into a sauna of sweat, and he reaches under to turn it off. With no more hot air being pumped out, Kaminari breathes in relief, curling his legs to his chest to escape confinement.

His shifting wakes Bakugou. A noise leaves sealed lips, and Bakugou slaps a hand over his face.

“I’m dying under here,” Bakugou says through parted fingers, dragging a hand across his sweaty bangs.

Someone should've turned it off last night,” Kaminari chides, aware that he'd fallen asleep way earlier than Bakugou after popping in a second movie, one that happened to be something Bakugou liked enough to stay up for.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Bakugou fixes him with a hard glare, “Not my job.”

He almost wants to apologize for forgetting the pillows too, but the soreness of being kneed in the side sometime during the night makes Kaminari forget all about feeling bad. That, and the stench coming from Bakugou is horrid. Kaminari plugs his nose, “You stink, go take a shower.”

Bakugou shoves him, “Fuck you, the reason I stink is because I was out all day yesterday, and all my stuff is at home.”

Kaminari climbs out, out of Bakugou’s reach, “Not my job, either. Nor is it my problem.”

He’s rudely gestured to, much like how Bakugou had done to their friends last night when he thought Kamianri wasn't paying attention, but his offer isn't turned down.

During the time that Bakugou showers, with the water so hot that Kaminari has to feel around for his toothbrush, he skips down the street to where Tetsutetsu is holding up the hood to his car. He watches from a safe distance while Tetsutetsu checks the oil, only disappearing into their house for a moment before returning to hear the news.

“This thing’s empty, man. Could be ‘cause of a leak in your car too, which explains why you didn't notice until the engine had seized.” Tetsutetsu wipes the dipstick he’d used to check.

“So, you got the stuff you need?” Kaminari asks around a clean toothbrush, having used their bathroom to wash his mouth, too lazy to cross the street and head up the three floors to his room. He should be back before Bakugou even thinks to step out from under the warm spray. He loves long showers, especially now that he’s somewhere where he doesn't have to pay for the water.

“Yeah, but like I said last night, we ran out of oil after Eijirou’s bike was acting up this one time, so he'll get some on his way home. Won't be until tonight, though. I got other stuff to do in the meantime.”

“Still rocking those different shifts, huh. Doesn't it get lonely?” Kaminari asks out of curiosity. It isn't the first time he's heard of a hero couple keeping their hero life separate from their personal life by purposely choosing to work at separate times unless it involves urgent matters.

“Nah, he’s a speed texter, and loves keeping me updated on stuff.” Every minute, if possible. Kaminari's been on the receiving end of Kirishima’s typo ridden, rapid-shoot messages before.

Kaminari beams at the thought, glad to see hear friends doing well, “I’m happy it's working out.”

“The same goes for you.” Tetsutetsu says, and stops to scratch at his cheek, continuing hesitantly with the oncoming sensitive subject, “That's.. how you two were, right?”

“Mhm.” Kaminari sits his hands on the hood, above the front headlights. “It’s true what they say about hero couples. They work crazy well together, although critics often complain about personal stuff getting in the way of the job.

“It's been a while, I kinda forget.” Tetsutetsu admits, sharp teeth peeking out with the curve of his lips, “We've been thinking about going back to having the same shift next year.”

They were quite popular back during their debut as partners, and the hype hasn't died down much since then, “You should, I’m sure the public misses seeing you two going hard together.”

Tetsutetsu swears, grinning like it was painful to hear Kaminari’s joke, “I walked right into that one, didn't I.”

Kaminari laughs, “More like you opened the door and invited me in to make that joke.” He hardly ever gets the chance to do it when it's one of the few puns Tetsutetsu ever get, hours of explanation required to have even the simplest pun make relative sense in Tetsutetsu’s thick skull.

“So, you still trying to sort things out? That is, if you'd call that walking disaster right there something that can be sorted out.” Tetsutetsu points the stick out to something over his shoulder, and Kaminari can see Bakugou emerge from the entrance of the complex, checking his surroundings.

There's no heavy skepticism, but casual curiosity coming from Tetsutetsu, who always takes jabs at Bakugou when he has the chance. Bakugou is too far to see Kaminari’s lips move, which he's grateful for, “I’d say it's going fantastic.”

He's eventually spotted, his wave left unanswered as Bakugou comes stomping over. The way Kaminari rests a hand on his cheek adoringly to watch Bakugou has Tetsutetsu shooting him a concerned look, “Love is complicated. I don't really get it, but good luck.”

“The things we do for love, am I right?” Kaminari says, sighing wistfully at how nice Bakugou looks at any given moment. In the morning sunrise, he's glowing.

“You're a sap,” he hears.

Kaminari graces his friend with a charmed smile, “And I’m here all day. Until you fix my car, of course.”

“Do I expect payment?” Tetsutetsu quips, screwing oil cap back on. Kaminari doesn't see him use his steel form when dealing with under-the-hood jobs anymore, not after jumpstarting a car battery one day and losing feeling in his arms for a whole twelve hours. It was an honest mistake on Tetsutetsu’s part. Sometimes he forgets he's conductive to electricity, being the hardhead that he is.

“I’m sure Kirishima’s got it covered, consider it an owed favor,” Kaminari winks at Tetsutetsu to mess with Bakugou, who arrives to catch the butt end of the conversation and nothing more. He smiles innocently, “Morning, Bakugou.”

“What's so good about it?” His towel-dried hair looks rushed, and he'd tossed on the same black clothes he'd worn last night.

“Haven't heard that one before,” Tetsutetsu says sarcastically, closing the car hood. He can't do anything until Kirishima returns, so it's likely he’ll be making breakfast after this.

Bakugou grunts back a “Shut it, tin can.”

Before this becomes an insult match between two hotheads, Kaminari sits perched on his car, “Mind if we have breakfast here? Had another mix-up in the kitchen and my stove is kinda… not working anymore.”

“Told you to get that thing replaced. I keep saying that electric is better than gas. Less complicated.” It's strange to be lectured by Tetsutetsu, who’s normally the one being lectured all the time by his slightly smarter boyfriend, but he's not wrong when he asks Kaminari, “Confused the salt with the sugar again?”

Kaminari goes a bit red in the ears, knowing that Tetsutetsu had been one of the first people to see him butcher dishes and reap the consequences as a taste tester, “One, I blame you for putting them in the similar looking container. And two, gas control knobs are too complicated for me, I can never get the right temperature.”

Tetsutetsu smiles with way too much teeth to be convinced, and Kaminari would punch him if he didn't run the risk of sore knuckles, “Sure, whatever you say. So long as Blasty doesn't mind my cooking, I’m down for making some food.”

“He liked what you served yesterday.” Kaminari mentions, glancing expectantly at the person in question.

Bakugou, who'd been observing the back and forth exchanging of words, stands straighter at being brought into the conversation all of a sudden. He scratches his head, “It's free, so I don't care.”

Tetsutetsu looks to be debating whether to take insult to that or not, but he's nice and doesn't think much of it, “Cool, then I’ll see what I can whip up. Wanna come in, or are you two gonna…”

Kaminari doesn't get why Tetsutetsu is glancing at the both of them, but he does notice that Bakugou has closed the distance quite a bit from where he'd last seen him, and a squeeze around his midsection has him answering in a rush, “We’ll head in after you. Yeah, no need to stick around outside. We're good!”

Tetsutetsu doesn't pry further, and Kaminari can't find the time to wonder when Bakugou had slipped his arm around his waist, loose and warm, so familiar that Kaminari didn't find anything wrong with it being there, because it vanishes as soon as Tetsutetsu is inside, faster than he can blink.

Bakugou leaves without saying anything, a wrinkle in his brow, and in all honesty, Kaminari wouldn't put it past Bakugou to be annoyed at the lack of attention, seeking it in a more demanding way.

Kaminari laughs to himself. He really is in deep to be having such thoughts.

 


 

“I really liked that movie,” Kaminari says, although Bakugou hadn't seen him open his eyes once to watch the conclusion. It's late, far past the time to be watching movies, and Kaminari has his face tucked into the crook of his arm, unceremoniously slumped over the table, ready to drift off at any moment, “Or what I remember of it. Whatever. I didn't think I’d be so tired after one movie, man.”

Bakugou ignores the deadly blue glow of the screen, “It was alright.”

Yawning, Kaminari drags himself to his feet, keeping his sentences short, “Gotta pee. Be right back.”

The cramped concept of the apartment allows Bakugou to follow Kaminari with his eyes all the way to the only bathroom in the place, light flickering on in his wake. Either Kaminari has to put in a new lightbulb soon, or his accidental activation while delirious with sleep is messing with the switch.

Bakugou takes a slow breath in, body free of the brace for the night. The inconvenience of staying at Kaminari’s house not only for one night, but two, has dissolved any remaining awkwardness between them. If Kaminari had connected his fumbling with words the night before to sleeping together under the same roof, he hadn't mentioned it to Bakugou. It's for the best that Kaminari doesn't know that Bakugou was nervous of all things.

He looks over at the wall of pictures, driven to look away when he sees his face on many of them. It isn't hard to make out his distinguishable features in the dark.

Bakugou hears the toilet flush, and Kaminari emerges from the bathroom, leaving the light on by accident and casting a long shadow into the adjacent room where Bakugou hasn't moved. He’s sleepy, and can't quite tear his eyes away from how Kaminari holds up hisーBakugou’sーpants that ate three sizes too big with a loose fist, cotton pooling at his feet from the sheer difference in size.

“Mm, morning,” Kaminari yawns, climbing back under the futon. To make matters worse, he forgets that his pants are in danger of falling off. Bakugou can’t exactly help Kaminari pull his pants back up from exposing his tight, tight yellow boxers when Kaminari pulls out his arm and uses it as a pillow, “... aaand goodnight.”

Bakugou tenses up as Kaminari relaxes against him, falling back to sleep in minutes. There’s a blanket in place dividing them, but it's impossible to mistake the weight of Kaminari on his outstretched arm and the pulse in his wrist going haywire.

He stares, at Kaminari slumbering so easily on a person, at the hair falling over Kaminari’s face when Bakugou attempts to pull his arm free, at the sheer bizarreness of Kaminari finding comfort in him.

So there, lying on the floor of Kaminari’s questionably clean living room carpet, wearing clothes that smelled strongly of Kaminari’s cologne, stuck in place by Kaminari’s body pressed to his side, Bakugou smiles, a faint thing that comes unbidden. He's satisfied. It's a nice feeling to relish in, one that doesn't come easy or often, but at five in the morning, is the best thing in the world.

He should enjoy it, because tomorrow will throw them back into the routine of things. The car is full of oil, the days are nearing shorts nights and a long winter, and Kaminari is bound to wake up soon, embarrassed to the core. He can't afford to take a long break, and Kaminari knows this too.

Chapter Text

Bakugou is progressing phenomenally well. The therapist had replaced all original training regimes with beginner level muscle strengthening plans in the gym, and from what Kaminari has last heard, Bakugou is scheduled to start on the heavier stuff soon. He stumbles when he walks, and his dream of going back to mountain climbing is a far cry away, but progress is progress, whether it be from level one to level fifty, or the traditional advancement to each new height. Slow and steady is the key, and Bakugou is getting a hang of it, one field at a time.

Rehabilitation has had its good days lately.

The day Bakugou makes it up the twelve flights of stairs on their way home marks the beginning of those final landmarks. He holds his own when Kaminari tackles him a hug, and laughs with reckless abandon, right there on the edge of the steps.

A twinge in his neck has Kaminari pressing fingers down to the point of pain. It lets up some, and Kaminari rolls his head back in search of relief.

“Hey. Sit up.” Bakugou kicks his chair, startling him out of reading the same sentence for the fifth time.

He's even begun helping Kaminari with his studies. College isn't a must if a hero career has been insured, but supplementary classes are required for all young heroes, to make up for a higher level of standard education. Exams exist in adulthood too, apparently.

Kaminari, however, will forever harbor the plague of lessons sliding off of him like oil on water. Knowledge developed through individual effort and interesting subjects comes easier to him over having a teacher or tutor that scolds him on math that makes no logical sense.

Kaminari shakes his head, going back to reading, “Nah.”

“That's why you have neck aches, asshat. Straighten your shoulders, or I'll do it myself.”

Kaminari rolls his eyes, but does as he's told. He has a strange hunch that Bakugou is giving him a taste of his own medicine for all those times Kaminari has corrected Bakugou on his health ethics.

Or maybe this is Bakugou looking out for Kaminari in his own way, scolding and reprimanding at every turn, but backing off and taking another route when he runs into something he can't solve with words. No wonder Bakugou always seemed like the best teacher for him.

He doesn't hear Bakugou complain when he shrinks back into his poor posture out of habit. Kaminari tries his best to remember the advice next time. It's not exactly easy to forget when Bakugou brushes by him, dances a finger along his spine, and startles Kaminari into an upright position like he'd gone and shocked himself. The smirk he gets is the worst part.

 


 

Bakugou's got a bone to pick with Mother Nature, a bone worth years of bad luck. Summers of losing nearly every good shirt he owned to hyperactive sweat glands, and winters where colds threw the homeostasis of his body out of whack and rendered his quirk useless. He could never be a meteorologist, unless he wants to be caught on live television flipping off nature herself.

Snow is Bakugou’s sworn enemy, right up there with Deku and rain. So when Kaminari brings it up, Bakugou tastes the disgust on his tongue, wanting to curse the pretty specks for their existence.

“A chance of snowfall, nice.” Kaminari scrolls through his phone, holding a different opinion about snow. He loves snow. Not the cold that comes with it, but how it comes fluttering down like crystalline raindrops. Those are Kaminari’s words, not Bakugou’s.

“Oh joy.” Bakugou draws out the word, picking at his nails, “When at?” Then he can arrange plans to stay as far away from the outside as possible.

“Early evening.” Kaminari doesn't move, fingers poised to type, and Bakugou sits back, waiting for it. He shoots up off the couch, grabbing the windows curtains to stick his head out. “Wait, that's right now!”

The metal hooks shriek as Kaminari draws the curtain back to reveal the blanket of white coming down. “Bakugou, look! They’re actually correct.”

“For once,” Bakugou snorts, watching the snowflakes fall from thick clouds, hardly discernible in the dark without the house lights over their heads. Kaminari stares out, cheek pressed to the glass, and Bakugou shakes his head of any thoughts that could ruin his bright mood.

Bakugou lays in bed later, hours after Kaminari had left with a scarf wrapped up to his nose and a beanie on his head, blond hair sticking out through the poorly knitted fabric, and Bakugou is convinced that he'd seen his maker in that moment.

Whoever his maker is, they're a dick for pulling a fast one on him like that.

 


 

Kaminari puts up a hand to shield his eyes from the blotted out sun, and whistles at how far the blankets of white and gray stretch into the horizon, the sky mirroring the snow covering every roof in sight. “Man, I guess our park dates are out of the question.”

“Bummer,” Bakugou sounds smug, playing the handheld game that he’d stolen from Kaminari’s bag. He's decked out in pajamas, unlike how Kaminari had come prepared with layers of scarves and jackets.

There's no correction from Bakugou, and Kaminari comforts himself with the idea that they both thought of those yoga days as yoga dates. If the weather somehow got better to bring Bakugou out of bed, it wouldn't be proper exercise weather to go out in.

Tossing aside the mat strapped to his shoulder, Kaminari strips his shoulders of coiled cloth, swayed by the sweet call of Bakugou’s fluffy blankets to lay down, comically patterned with dogs of all colors. This would be a perfect day for sleeping in, but the childish energy that wells up within Kaminari at the sight of snow gets the better of him.

“Let’s go out, Bakugou!” Kaminari exclaims, sinking into the plush of Bakugou’s plain comforters. It must've been dragged out from his closet after Kaminari had left last night.

“Why.” Bakugou has his tongue out in concentration, and Kaminari stares at his lips, longer than what should be allowed.

“Because I’m bored, and the cold isn't stopping the millions of people out there from enjoying the first official day of winter.”

“Snowfall doesn't exactly make it winter.” Red eyes flicker left and right with rapt attention to the video game. It must be that brawling game he loves so much.

“Then how about something else?” Kaminari reaches for the portable console, hoping to garner a suitable answer out of Bakugou, “You don't want to go to Kirishima’s? Or maybe head out for another appointment with-”

Bakugou seizes his wrist before a finger could be laid on the borrowed device. He gives a compelling counter offer, “Or we can stay here,” all the while incessantly mashing buttons.

At the raised eyes, warm and deep red, Kaminari blurts out, just like that, “We can stay home today.”

“Great.” Bakugou lets go, going back to his game, leaving Kaminari scrambling to pick up his dignity and stop blushing like they were teenagers again. “Now take a nap, you look like shit.”

He has been laying awake at night thinking about… things, maybe too much for his own good. Kaminari’s heart thunders in his chest, “Yeah okay.”

Kaminari throws a leg off the bed, and Bakugou stops him with a pull on his arm, and the next thing he knows, he's sprawled over him. Kaminari has earnestly lost track of the number of bold moves being executed upon his poor, weak, heart. This is one more to add to the pile. “I didn't say leave.” So stay.

“Then don't get mad at me for this, ‘kay?” Kaminari says, hugging Bakugou without another thought.

He hovers shy of the small of Bakugou’s back, ghosting over the warm skin there, scalding against his heightened awareness. Always, he's weary of the slightest contact inflicting pain on Bakugou.

There's RPG-like explosions and the battle cries of a fierce warrior, reflecting Bakugou's absence in caring. Kaminari hesitates, stuck between wanting to touch, or back away and forget this happened. He's about to call it quits when Bakugou shifts, pressed flush to him. There's no reaction to his touch, bare hands and all, which he's glad for.

Well, being glad was an understatement. Thinking back on it, Kaminari had nearly shouted in relief when he'd first heard that the injury was treatable. The higher the spinal injury, the more the body could be affected, and for once, Kaminari finds Bakugou’s particular predicament to be one of the better case scenarios. He didn't want to think about where they would be if he'd suffered paralysis, or worse. If someone asked Kaminari, he'd say that permanent paralysis would hit Bakugou harder than any other lasting after-effect there is, be it the loss of a limb, or...

Kaminari mentally shakes his head, careful to not jostle the bed. Perhaps he should lay off on trying to read those medical books. Any more knowledge, and he'd end up as paranoid as the doctors.

Bakugou would be fine, he’ll be...

When he looks up, he should've expected Bakugou to be staring at him like he'd been awake for some time, and both are hyper aware of where his hands are.

“Sorry, too touchy?” Kaminari asks, already predicting Bakugou’s words and moving to back off. But his hands pass over the curve of his hip before Bakugou shoots him a look that warns Kaminari to try pulling away from this. Oh.

Kaminari presses his lips together in a tight line to keep from smiling, returning back to his place where his cheek meets Bakugou’s shoulder, feeling Bakugou finally speak after some time. “Nah, I’m alright with it if you quit being gentle,” he grumbles, sounding like he wants nothing more than to go back to sleep, “it's annoying, and tickles.”

He stops his fingers from drawing circles in Bakugou’s skin. “Can never be too careful,” Kaminari reminds him.

A heavy sigh ruffles the hair at the top of his head. “And yet you always manage to act stupider than the day before,” Bakugou says plainly.

“You're one of the toughest guys I know,” Kaminari answers with an air of honesty.

Bakugou lets out a breath through his nose that can easily be mistaken for a laugh, but Kaminari isn't about to start counting his blessings just yet. “Now that's a more sensible answer.”

 


 

It's light outside, and Kaminari doesn't care to make sense of how Bakugou garners so much of his attention. There's a new batch of snow outside, but Kaminari doesn't want to think about leaving.

They had a light sleep, far too short to call a nap that replenished energy. Bakugou's hand had ended up in his, not laced but pressed together, fingers meeting. Kaminari drums his fingers on Bakugou’s larger ones, wondering if Bakugou was feeling anything. Pale scars move with thick, calloused skin, and Bakugou sits there, watching Kaminari do as he pleased.

“I should head out.” Kaminari wants to hold his hand and never let go. He's been feeling selfish lately, wanting things he shouldn't have.

Bakugou lifts his digits, mimicking Kaminari’s mindless tapping, “Okay.”

Maybe if Bakugou knew Morse code, he'd notice what Kaminari had written into his palm, over and over again like a machine. He almost feels embarrassed, back in the shoes of a kid writing their crush’s name in the margins of a notebook, the finger his pencil and Bakugou’s hand the page. “Thanks for letting me stay.”

His coat hangs over Bakugou’s end of the bed. Bakugou grabs it without asking, tossing it over. Shoving his arms through the sleeves, Kaminari barely catches the words when they're spoken.

“You're welcome.”

Bakugou is always, always cautious with his vulnerability.

“See ya,” Kaminari leans in without quite registering his actions. He's still high on the buzz of being so close to Bakugou, the distance feels nonexistent.

He doesn't see the widening gaze. The normal wave goodbye is replaced by a brush of their lips, so brief that he could taste the whisper of breath on Bakugou’s lips.

The slip-up could hardly be labeled a mistake when he'd been thinking about kissing Bakugou all day long, but Kaminari still freezes up, struck by his own boldness. Burning hands cup his face, and he melts from his rigidness, pressing forward for another kiss. One more, and that's it. A little kiss couldn't hurt. It's less of a taste test and more of a full course, nobody was keeping track, especially not Bakugou.

His hands always smelled strange, the nitroglycerin sweat of his palms producing a distinct smell that could make any nose wrinkle. That smell is what brings Kaminari back, gaze unfocused as Bakugou finally separates them, blinking owlishly at him.

He lets the hands fall from his face, careful in how they linger. They land in Bakugou’s lap, and with a dawning horror that has his heart shooting out of his chest, Kaminari scoots back, putting space between them. He shouldn't have done that. There were so many things wrong with thisーhis brain can’t supply a single one of those reasons, not with how it yelled at him to stay and explain himself as he gets off the blanket that had earlier been draped over him to keep him warm.

Kaminari had leaned in and kissed him goodbye like he always used to, and Bakugou had gone with it like it was the most natural response in the world.

He claps a hand over his mouth, lost in a memory that had manifested itself in reality.

Kaminari feels like he’s floating off the ground, the lightheadedness catching up to him. The buzz has turned to a piercing ring that fills his ears. He hurries to grab his things, "... You should get some rest."

Bakugou is stunned for far longer, and the guilt in Kaminari grows stronger. Anything Bakugou says isn't going to stop him, not even, "Denki, wait. Don't-"

"I'll be back tomorrow." Kaminari musters up a shaky smile, clutching his belongings to his chest. "You like that curry place down the street, right? I’ll buy you some.”

"I don't care about the damn curry, idiot. Just let me speak-"

Kaminari is already out in the hall, hearing his voice crack painfully, "We can talk later. I.. I have to go."

There's the sound of something being thrown against the wall, followed by the slam of Bakugou's bedroom door, but Kaminari swallows down his words and follows where his feet take him, into the empty elevator that feels way too empty for one person. There's nobody in the lobby to catch Kaminari tripping over his scarf, regaining his footing without a second to waste.

Steam rises from puffed breaths as he books it out of the lobby doors, the onslaught of cold wind hitting his cheeks as he makes it to the parking lot, deserted except for his car and other vehicles that had been snowed on overnight.

He locks the doors, sliding down in his seat and curling his legs under him.

That was such a stupid thing to do. Kaminari didn't even mean to, it was just a reflex. A reflex that has yet to be trained out of his body, a cog that can't be removed from the system without being replaced by one of equal size. But Kaminari doesn't think anything can be put in place of the largest piece of himself that loves and keeps loving.

Of course it would be so easy to mess up all their hard work. Kaminari could’ve thought up of a plan in that time, instead of stepping in blindly to this and letting things run their course. But Bakugou was there, and he was there, and the tiny box they had initially filled with expectations in each other has become overflowing with their wants, to the point of bursting.

Kaminari presses the heels of his hands to his eyes, taking deep breaths in an effort to calm down his racing heart. It always comes down to their own selfishness.

He can't go home. Maybe he should head to Kirishima’s house like he’d originally planned, spend the night, watch some old movies with Tetsu and Kirishima in another room to act as some sort of bittersweet reminder that he can't even deal with his own emotions without-

“Denki!”

Kaminari jumps out of his seat, startled. The shout of his name was loud enough to be heard beyond the glass. He whips his head around to look through the back window of his car, and he nearly kicks his door open, stepping out into the crunching snow as he spots Bakugou, in his sweats and thin cotton shirt, standing before him, hands on his knees as he pants for breath. “Katsuki, what're you doing?”

“Did you run all the way here? You idiot, what did the doctor say about running around without your brace!?” The slam he'd heard couldn't have been Bakugou closing his door, but him opening it in pursuit. He'd forgotten to grab a jacket, for god's sake.

“He… he said to only ever chase after something if I really gotta,” he says between gulps of air. Kaminari's lungs sting with the cold, but Bakugou must feel like his are on fire.

“This is the first I've heard of this.” But Kaminari has the notion to think that it wasn't meant to be taken as rehabilitative advices

Kamianri hears Bakugou laugh. With a bit of trouble to stand upright, the stiff smile he wears betrays his discomfort. “You sound worried.”

“I’m about ready to have a heart attack if you keep pulling this shit,” Kaminari snaps back. God, he was beginning to sound like Bakugou.

He’s rooted in ankle deep snow, boots sunken in as Bakugou makes his way over cautiously with his old hero boots. Well, at least he wouldn't have to worry about losing a few toes.

“Why are you here?” Kaminari kicks at the snow, slumping onto his car. Melted snowflakes collect on the seat from how he keeps the door open. “Wanna reject me that quickly, huh.”

“You've been worried this whole time. Quit it.” He's stern, but not rudely so. He’s tense from the wind that cuts through his shirt like ice and leaves him shivering. That prompts Kaminari into removing a layer and giving to Bakugou, who pauses for a moment, likely thinking of an excuse to refuse it.

“Take it then. It sounds like you wanna have a talk.” But now isn’t the time, not when they’re outside in the cold. Bakugou doesn't look like he wants to argue anymore than he has to.

“I can't just quit worrying about you.” Kaminari retorts, as though Bakugou demanding him to stop would somehow magically cease Kaminari’s constant concern for him.

“Relax then, for fuck’s sake.” The sleeves are short and cut off above his wrists. It doesn't take away from Bakugou’s serious tone. “Screw the complicated shit, and let me be truthful for once without being interrupted. You know I'm bad at this.”

“I know you are, you don't have to remind me every time you talk about your feelings.” Kaminari says, folding his fingers together. With a fleeting thought, he remembers that he'd left his gloves somewhere in Bakugou’s kitchen. No point going back for it now. “I don't need excuses, I already know how hard it is for you.”

“That doesn't justify how badly I’ve treated you,” Bakugou argues back. The wind whistles through their ears.

“You’re not a bad guy,” Kaminari smiles a little, squinting through the tear-jerking gusts, “The worst you've ever done is yell at me or get defensive about yourself. That's way better than how you treat most people.”

“You can't deny that it's shitty treatment.” Bakugou frowns to himself, glaring at the ground. “It was fucking stupid to take matters into my own hands, because it's made you lose trust in me.”

Kaminari watches Bakugou beat himself over it. He nods, for both their sakes. Telling the truth is the least he can do, with Bakugou letting it all out in the open. “You did kinda break up with me without letting me have a say in it.”

Although Kaminari had taken the news as though it was a proper end to a relationship that he could move on from, it was anything but that. A physical end is nothing without an end to the emotional part.

Bakugou lifts his head. “I did.” It’s already a large bound in recovery to admit his mistakes.

His tone is gentle, prompting Kaminari to ask, “Is this not an apology?” Kaminari had wholly accepted the one that Bakugou had already given him, but this was bordering onto another subject.

“No, but don't think that either of us will be satisfied with one sorry. I guess I owe you a lot more than that.” There's a promise in his words. Bakugou wouldn't be Bakugou if he half-assed things. “I just have one question.”

Kaminari takes a deep breath, knowing what’s coming. Now seemed to be as good a time as any to talk about the one thing they've been avoiding since that first meeting in the hospital.

“Do you… still love me?”

It's a question Kaminari asks himself in the dead of night. A thought that's crossed his mind, holds an answer, and has Bakugou struggling with himself, clutching his shirt with trembling fingers.

The hair falls over Bakugou’s eyes. “I've got some fucked up timing, don't I? It takes me a year to get this shit out, and I can't…” He grits his teeth, “I can’t fucking answer it myself.”

There's a moment’s pause, and Bakugou laughs, bitter and raw, “What the fuck is wrong with me.”

Kaminari doesn't feel like he’s being played, or that his emotions are victim to some master plan that Bakugou had created to mess with him. This was misunderstanding stacked upon misunderstanding, because they’re two adults that hadn't quite grown out of their insecurities yet. But who hasn't, honestly?

From the start, Kaminari had known that when it came down to it, when they finally sat downーor met like this, standingーand looked each other in the eyes, he'd come to terms with the fact that he’d never really stopped loving Bakugou. It’s like being caught in a wave that never quite got washed out, so he might as well go neck deep in it.

“I do.”

This time, Kaminari moves with purpose. He won't hesitate like before. There's no room for chickening out here.

They're cold. Kaminari can feel his toes going numb. He cups Bakugou’s cold cheeks with icy hands, kissing him on his cold, chapped lips. Bakugou breathes into his mouth, and there's liquid heat pumping in Kaminari’s veins. Kaminari shivers for a whole other reason entirely

He's sure he hears the thud of Bakugou’s head making contact with the roof of the car as they fall in, but he can't do damage control, not when his fingers are firmly planted in the mess of hair.

Desperate hands pull and grasp at loose clothing, and it's hard to focus on where his hands are and where their lips meet. Kaminari is careful of where his limbs go, keeping his elbow from slamming onto the car horn and alarming the whole complex.

Screw the complicated shit, and be truthful. And that's exactly what Kaminari does.

“I love you,” he tells Bakugou, holding him with the intent of never letting go. Whispers it against Bakugou’s skin, and hears the dry sob that rocks his very being. It couldn’t have been from Bakugou, the tightness in his chest telling Kaminari that he isn't imagining the tears that are wiped away by a sleeve that doesn't fit its person.

There's a pull on his collar, and Kaminari stumbles to his feet, gasping sharply. Bakugou kisses him in the snow, drifting down to form a thin blanket on top of last night’s pile.

A minute or an hour can be mistaken for the single moment Kaminari spends lost in Bakugou, and he feels Bakugou startle with a shock, an actual static shock shooting out of him and leaving their lips tingling.

Kaminari stifles a laugh, and more sparks bounce off his skin. He doesn't remember making it up to the apartment, only the press of a railing at his back and the bell of the slowing elevator. A second’s worth of vertigo is the last thing he should be worrying about. He can't look away, not when Bakugou’s eyes light up, smoldering with the faint glow coming off each arc of electricity. Bakugou brings a hand up, running a tongue over his bottom lip, the shock wearing off. Kaminari has never wanted to bite someone’s lips so badly until now.

Their entrance is about as emotionally driven as their exit was. Kaminari makes it through the door, steering Bakugou into the entranceway. There's little care in shutting the door, until Bakugou backs him up into it, intent on untangling the scarf from his person.

Bakugou holds the scarf to kiss him. For all the heat coming off Bakugou, his lips send a chill down Kaminari’s spine. Masking a grin, Kaminari covers his mouth with parted fingers, giggling with each feathery kiss pressed into his skin. Bakugou nestles into his neck, guiding the tilt of Kaminari’s head with the cradle of his hands.

Bakugou noses at his skin, words spilling from his lips, each one stirring up heat under Kaminari’s collar. His pulse must be racing. Kaminari is long past the point of resisting what he can't help, though.

His jacket slips off Bakugou, falling into a crumpled heap, revealing a brand of claw marks from a lifetime ago. Bakugou retreats, just holding him now. Kaminari traces the raised skin up to the shaggy mess of hair that's begun to grow over Bakugou’s undercut. Molten red eyes fall shut as Kaminari maps out every marred, beautiful feature.

“Careful,” Kaminari whispers to himself. There's tingling in his fingers, the crackling sound and phantom sensation of his ears popping that would linger when he used to be unable to control his shocks. Control has never felt so possible with Bakugou in his hands.

Bakugou blinks his eyes open. “I’ll show you careful,” he snaps, all sharp-tongued and spitfire and hot, to the pop of condensed fire in his hands. Everything about is Bakugou is scalding and Kaminari doesn't think he’ll ever get enough of that radiating magnetism.

Kaminari hadn't meant for those words to be intended for Bakugou, but the opportunity to rile can never be taken for granted. “Oh yeah?”

A growl leaves Bakugou’s lips, Kaminari can't help but shudder and press up to feel that animalistic rumble in his very soul. There’s a threat in his words and a promise lying heavy in his gaze. A promise that won't be fulfilled tonight, but when has anything ever stopped Bakugou from making well of his word?

 


 

“It appears you've inflamed the muscles in your lower back, which may mean another extended period of recovery before I can give you the okay to return to work.” The doctor looks between them, “I suspect Kaminari wasn't around at the time?”

Going rigid in his seat, Kaminari covers his enflamed face, nodding jerkily. His smug company is loose-lipped at the question.

“Oh, he saw everything,” Bakugou says in that cocky tone that implies way more than he lets off, much to Kaminari’s horror. The doctor doesn't appear to catch on, busy taking note of Bakugou’s explanation of ‘slipping in the shower’, all while Abe, standing in the corner of the room, has the decency to cover his smile, unlike Kaminari who lacks any of that, smacking Bakugou’s arm.

Slipping in the shower isn't exactly much better than the generic excuse they could've used. Saying that Bakugou had fallen off the bed would've given them away.

At the very least, Bakugou can relish the obvious implications behind why they were together to begin with. Crossing his legs at the ankle and slouching in a way that would make anyone's head shake from the informality of it. He may be perched on the hospital bed, raised high from earlier’s examination, but that doesn't stop him from tugging Kaminari those last few inches closer by his belt loops and use him as a headrest. It’s not Kaminari’s imagination that's leaving the impression that Bakugou is acting touchyーhe's initiating the contact first.

Kaminari makes himself comfortable, not missing the look shared between the two doctors in the room. There isn't much left to say but a reminder, “Then I hope that he stops you from pulling another muscle, as you’re nearly ready to exit your stage of extended leave and engage in light workload at the hero agency.”

It's not the kind of promise Bakugou is guaranteed to keep, unlike the one from last night, but he's proven adamant that he won't push the finish line any further than it needs to be. With freedom in his reach, a feral grin doesn't come close to expressing Bakugou’s true excitement, but it would have to do.

They leave the hospital, Kaminari swinging their joined hands and Bakugou firmly stopping him from skipping outside like an energetic child. He's lacking his normal crutches. It almost sounded like the doctors were tired of telling him what to do. It doesn't take much to settle on a middle ground that favors Bakugou.

“What the doctor said, about my agency…” Bakugou begins, testing the words in his mouth like he's got something important to say.

“Yeah?” Kaminari coaxes. He smiles, nudging at Bakugou, “You're not planning on throwing in the towel so early, are you?”

Joke or not, Bakugou takes offense to it, returning the jab verbally, “I’m not quitting being a hero, get the fuck out with that crap. It's just that, okay, you know how they've willing dealt with all the bullshit I’ve pulled since day one?”

How can Kaminari not know? He's seen Kirishima T-bone cars with his body on the daily, and Bakugou has gotten quite a reputation in the clean-up department. City damage was nothing new.

“I was actually thinking, since we're, you know, that I’m-” Letting go of his hand, Bakugou makes a vague gesture, pointing at himself and Kaminari a few times. Kaminari nods along, getting the gist of it. He was talking about how they're technically together now. Not explicitly stated, since the original breakup was pretty open-ended and stupid, but at the very least, they were boyfriends again, and that's what matters.

Bakugou rubs the back of his neck agitatedly. “I actually had plans of maybe changing things up.”

It's not that Bakugou doesn't like change, but he's not exactly quick to submit to change. Kaminari must be smiling too wide, because Bakugou puts on the brakes and sets this whole conversation in reverse.

“You know what, if you’re gonna keep looking at me like that, then I'm not saying shit,” Bakugou growls, retreating on his word.

“What? Now I’m really curious!” Perhaps Bakugou was, dare he say it, embarrassed about making a big deal about something that sounds like it's been kept a secret for a while. Kaminari really wanted to know now. It's not everyday that Bakugou indulges him in one of his many secrets.

Bakugou shakes his head. “Forget it. Forget it, you'll find out another time.” Kaminari catches the curve of his pout before Bakugou distracts him with, “Love you, dumbass.”

He almost falls for it. Almost. “Aww, I love you to-hey, I know a subject change when I see one!”

“Then you should know you're not getting anything else out of me!” Bakugou says, tone sour. He doesn't appear mad, only mildly annoyedーthe kind of moodiness that betrays someone who isn't quite ready to talk.

Kaminari lets him be moody in peace, seeing that he needs some space. Their hands brush, and the silence doesn't stop Bakugou from loosely entwining their fingers for reassurance. He can talk when he feels comfortable, Kaminari isn't about to press him for answers now that he knows it isn't anything urgent or bad.

 


 

He doesn't have to wait long when he stops by to have a quick chat with Sero and Mina on his way home.

Approaching the end of their shifts, the two heroes were busying themselves with sorting through papers that should've been filed weeks ago but have long since become outdated and useless in their drawers, a boring task to undertake had Kaminari not arrived in a moment of need. With hardly anyone present in the office, aside from heroes on standby and general staff, two may be desperate for company, but three is sure to beat out any lingering boredom in the air.

“I miss having you here, Denki. It's boring with only us!” Mina buries her face in her arms.

Sero sighs, “Hate to say it, but I agree. I can only think of so many jokes before they get bad, worse than yours. When're you coming back?”

“I won’t be gone for much longer.” Kaminari spins in his chair, left to do nothing. “I'm enjoying my last few days of freedom.”

“So, is our great Stun Gun Hero ready to start working together in the same place as Bakugou, after so many years of unofficial joint agency team-ups?” Mina asks, sounding like she's known this information for quite some time and throwing it out there without thinking that it'd hit Kaminari about as hard as a ton of bricks.

Kaminari falls out of his chair. It’s valiant of Sero to try catching him with tape on the wheels, but it's far too late for anyone to react to Kaminari tipping back headfirst onto the expensive carpet floor.

Last he checked, there was no mention of any transferring of agencies. But that would explain why Bakugou was acting suspicious earlier.

On the floor, Kaminari desperately pats down at his hair growing in volume, the reek of ozone coming off of him, hair crackling with electricity as he stumbles to repeat Mina’s words, “I- me and- together?”

She hasn't gotten with the program that this was, in fact, unexpected news, toiling away at the file cabinet that was twice her size. “Bakugou was planning on telling you, wanted it to be a surprise. And we all know he doesn't do that often.”

Bakugou never did surprises because he didn't know how to plan and be inconspicuous at the same time. Bakugou gets real defensive when he can't do something right away and be done with it. But it's obvious that he's got more tact than Mina.

Kaminari glows, the numerous shades of red he falls victim to a dead giveaway. She drops the papers, shrieking, “Oh no, don't tell me I ruined it!?”

Kaminari casts her a wide-eyed look. What could he possibly say to this?

Sero speaks for him, tearing the adhesive from his elbow and sticking it to the desk, alongside the other strips he'd ripped off out of pure boredom, “I don't think I've seen Kaminari look this speechless in a while.”

Mina moans something about being killed. Sero gets up to pick up the documents that had slipped from her hands. Kaminari can't find the words to explain the smile that won't leave his face.

 


 

Bakugou hears Kaminari enter long before he pops up in front of the counter, hair and clothes ruffled by the tough winds outside. His heavy footsteps when he bursts through the door harbor enough sound to be caught over the faucet running full-blast while Bakugou chips away at the three-day-old leftover of rice glued to a plate Kaminari had left in the bedroom but never rinsed off.

Today's appointment had started Bakugou's day with good news, but the frail emotional high he's riding on threatens to shatter as he tousles with the daunting task of doing the dishes of a sloppy boyfriend-slash-part-time-roommate.

“You've got to be kidding me,” Bakugou grumbles in disgust, acknowledging Kaminari with a grunt as he bears down hard on the plate. He's seriously considering just tossing the plate with how tough the grime is sticking, “You no longer have a purpose, just fucking let go, goddammit,” he declares to the crud that has infringed itself upon his normally spotless collection of dishes.

“Katsuki!” Kaminari says aloud, positive energy oozing off the call of his name, and Bakugou moves out of his slouch, the muscles in his back moving smoother than it's done in weeks.

Dunking the plate back into the suds, out of sight before he blows a gasket over a stain born from hell itself, Bakugou finally takes a good look at Kaminari’s radiant face, lifting one eyebrow in question, “What're you so happy about?” He was tense for so long that it takes a good few seconds for the muscles in his face to relax, opposing the grand smile Kaminari has on, which looks about ready to take off into orbit.

“Nothing,” and it can't be nothing of immediate importance if Kaminari can't let the smile go for more than a second before it's back at full force. “I just really love you, you know that?”

Kaminari does that cute thing where he covers his face in sheer happiness, and Bakugou is strangely at peace with how his heart clenches painfully in his chest, refraining from checking his pulse to make sure he isn't the one having heart palpitations. No, it's definitely because of Kaminari. Nothing can beat how Kaminari looks at him, eyes wide and bright and adoring.

“Like I could ever forget with you around,” Bakugou grumbles, not resisting the hug Kaminari pulls him into, up-close and personal and oh so touchy, but it's hard to deny how great Kaminari’s hugs feelーlike all the love within his being is wrapped up into one tight squeeze, so simple yet so full of words. It's different from his other hugs; this one is meant only for Bakugou.

Bakugou turns back to the dishes. A bit of snow from Kaminari’s coat has melted a patch into his shirt, and more of it soaks through the thin tee Kaminari has plastered himself to. He can't tell where Kaminari’s loose giggles start and where his own amusementーhe'd later deny it being laughterーleaves his body tingling with a lightheaded feeling. Whatever the reason, it’s got Kaminari in a goofy mood, but Bakugou isn't about to complain about the affection.

It's nice to see Kaminari happy.

 


 

The weeks following their getting back together had flown by so frighteningly fast, Kaminari can recall that night in vivid memory like it was yesterday, and not a month ago. Bizarre enough to be mistaken for a dream, but Kaminari doesn't have to worry about this dream cutting off at the best part, because Bakugou will always be there, eyes closed or not.

Days later, after the slip-up with Mina, Kaminari and Bakugou find themselves in a place that's long since become a part of their life until now.

The large workout area of the clinic is empty, and they're the only ones left after the final therapy session where the therapist double-checked the tests to make sure Bakugou’s lumbar spine and accompanying lower extremities were working properly. It wouldn't be proper rehabilitation if Bakugou had muscles that still cramped or locked up.

“So it seems you're good to go. Finally ready to get back on the playing field?” Kaminari asks from his place on the vertical bars, holding onto the ends of the bars and leaning back on his heels as he watches Bakugou unstrap the last band of the brace for the final time.

Had it been Bakugou’s decision, the brace would be tossed out, or better yet, blown to pieces the second they left the room. But Kaminari votes to keep it in case Bakugou pulls another stunt like this. He can never be too safe with someone like Bakugou, whose hero name was the embodiment of danger. He had thrown Kaminari ass over head yesterday during an impromptu spar, having put all his impatience with stretches into the throw. Bakugou is fine, one hundred and ten percent.

Bakugou rocks back in his seat before planting his feet on the ground. “Just about.”

Sure, there are a few metal discs implanted into Bakugou’s spine, and his boyfriend is technically part-metal now, which could be difficult to explain when passing through airport security for their first out-of-country mission, but Kaminari has never been prouder of seeing someone stand on their own two legs with as much gall as Bakugou. The improvements were a long but worthwhile journey.

Bakugou was bound to get that final phone call from the clinic any day now, and today had been their lucky day. With further confirmation from today's final appointment, it's goodbye to the clinic, and hello to hero work for him. For him and Kaminari both. Bakugou wasn't the only one who'd gone on leave, but Kaminari had the liberty of helping out on the occasional emergency when Bakugou was strictly forbidden from stepping foot into his agency’s building.

The long awaited first day on duty after leave, scheduled for this coming Monday, will surely loosen the rest of those muscles. Bakugou has already gotten his blood pumping plenty of times around Kaminari, as he can admit with confidence.

“Speaking of going back to work, do you still have that succulent on your desk?” Bakugou envelops Kaminari’s hands with his own as he leans in close. Kaminari can feel the words on Bakugou’s lips in the slow-crawling moments it takes to nod, trying effortlessly not to get distracted by how much he wants to kiss Bakugou.

When Kaminari feels like Bakugou is finally going to kiss him, feels the telltale lean of Bakugou’s body against his, Bakugou shifts out of reach, flashing him that stupidly handsome smirk, “Because I'm pretty sure I got my new office beside one with a stupid yellow flower on it.”

By now, Kaminari doesn't have to fuss over the little things when he remembers how the plant had been entrusted to him, and how he’d showered it with sunlight and love until it had become beautiful and strong like the original owner himself.

Kaminari wasn't sure how to feel when he'd first been told that Bakugou was switching agencies after staying with the same one for the equivalent of his career, but he couldn't deny the warm feeling that had bubbled up in his chest at how this may very well be the change they needed after a long time away from each other. They wouldn't always be together, with their shifts hardly ever aligning to where they could spend the whole day together, but the prospect of being able to visit Bakugou when he's only a door away, nose buried in an intimidating mass of papers from another accident involving damaged roadwork, it sounds… really nice.

The news may not be a surprise anymore, but with Bakugou, there’s a sure guarantee of more surprises to come.

Bakugou has grown impatient for an answer in those moments of reminiscence, the corner of his smirk twitching and threatening to fall at the contemplative look Kaminari has on from thinking. It’s cute how restless Bakugou can get from being ignored. A guy that truly thrived in the limelight, and was all his.

When Kaminari finally smiles back, he swears that he sees Bakugou brighten up just a tad bit, his quirked lips morphing into the slightest resemblance of a smile. The slightest flash of teeth, a far cry from bright or blinding, but with little need for change when Bakugou is already the brightest he can be.

Kaminari lets his hands smooth away any lingering tension in his shoulders before placing them at the base of Bakugou’s back, where he's most sensitive. Bakugou doesn’t move away.

“I can't wait.”