The universe begins at zero.
Because zero is nothingness, it is also absolute potential. Everything springs forth from that little seed and grows without limits, infinitely. Because zero is a complete circle that never ends. It is eternity. And it is a union.
So from the very beginning of time, even before the universe was born, was the existence of fated pairs. Soulmates. People who fit together perfectly as one. And the red strings of fate tie them together, transcending time and space.
Life has unlimited potential outcomes. It could suck, it could be sweet, it could be anything. But a constant granted to life is another intertwined with it. Because the red strings of fate pull the two lives together, such that regardless the infinite possibilities that result from the birth lottery, fated pairs will always find each other. Because it is destiny to come together as one.
But the only one thing that is constant in life, is that there are no constants.
Bakugou Katsuki learns this very early on in his life. He is smart, curious and observant, and most of the adults in his life claim that he is a genius. So it isn’t a surprise when a toddler Bakugou notices that he is different. Tied to everybody’s left ring finger is a small red ribbon. And when certain pairs come close together, the ribbons grow and combine, tying the two individuals together as one.
Everyone had that little knot, regardless of whether they stretch out to connect to another person. His parents have one that connects them together when they are in the same room. His baby cousin has one, a dainty single ribbon tied to small fingers. Everyone in his kindergarten has one. Even fucking Deku has one. Only Bakugou didn’t have one.
Bakugou never had the chance to ask about the red thread tied on everybody’s finger. For as soon as he could comprehend words and concepts, he’d learnt the truth. He hears the gossips from his teachers and neighbours, sees the pitying eyes from the mothers at the playground. The adults probably thought he couldn’t understand, but Bakugou did.
Bakugou knows that those little red ribbons are the “strings of fate” that tie soulmates together. And he knows that of the whole world, less than 10 people in the world were born without a soul string. He knows that he is the first person without a soulmate in their country. He knows that of all the people with soulmates, only less than 0.1% of them never meet their soulmates.
Bakugou Katsuki knows that he is the odd one out, but it has never bothered him. He’s different. Special. And it didn’t matter that fate didn’t grant him a soulmate. Because fuck fate. Bakugou isn’t going to let fate dictate his life. He is going to be the number one hero whether or not it is his destiny because that is what Bakugou is going to do. He himself is in charge of his own life, not some capricious entity. Besides, Bakugou thought, he doesn’t need a soulmate. He doesn’t need anyone.
It doesn’t matter that having a soulmate is supposed to be that one constant in life, because being the number one hero is the only thing Bakugou wants.
Bakugou Katsuki will never understand how it feels to be two parts of a whole. In fact, it’s almost as if he will never understand any feeling other than anger. Bakugou hears that pitying statements everywhere and it angers him.
When the older kids in kindergarten realise the implications of Bakugou not have a red knot around his ring finger, they tease him.
“It’s because no one will ever want you!”
“Who would ever love someone like you!”
“Hahaha! What a loser! Nobody even likes you!”
Bakugou’s quirk manifests that day and he takes down the whole group of them.
The mocking never stops, even if they are never said in front of him. But Bakugou knows. He knows that although his classmates look up to him for his quirk, they say that it’s just fate pitying him for not having a soul mate. And he knows that they look at him with pity too. It aggravates him and this translates to a hardened and rough personality that further feeds the pity. But it the end, it doesn’t matter because Bakugou is going to be number one anyway.
But one can never be free from fate.
The entire craze about soulmates never bothered him until it does. Even though no one teases him for not having a soulmate, talks about soulmates never die down. Even though they are all in high school now. In fact, it is even worse, as it is the time where most people meet their soulmates.
“Oh wow! Kirishima! Is that…?” Bakugou hears Kaminari chirp happily behind him, voice too happy for a fucking Monday morning.
“Yup! It’s a promise ring!” Kirishima replies with equal enthusiasm.
“Wahhh! So you met your soulmate already?” Ashido shouts excitedly.
“Nope! But I’m going to be 100% dedicated to my soulmate! I’m going to swear all my firsts to my soulmate! Just like in The Promise!” Kirishima exclaims.
“Shut the fuck up, dipshits!” Bakugou growls, shooting up from his chair.
Ashido looks like she’s ready to retort, but with a quick wary glance to Bakugou’s opened palms, fingers devoid of red thread, she drops it. Bakugou grunts, ready to blast that sorry look off her face when the class quietens as Aizawa enters the classroom.
Bakugou isn’t sure how or when he opened this particular door, but now he didn’t know how to close it. It is dumb and stupid and Bakugou doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings. How can he be so foolish as to fall in love with his best friend? His best friend who has a soulmate that he actually wants and yearns for?
Somewhere along the way, the redhead had wormed his way into Bakugou’s heart. Perhaps when Kirishima had reached out for him. Or maybe even before. It could have been during one of their study sessions, the serious expression on Kirishima’s face as Bakugou explained. It could have even been when they fought during the sports festival, his bright red eyes glowing with passion. Maybe it was from the very beginning when Kirishima flashed his cheerful grin, never backing down or cowering from the heat of Bakugou’s glare.
But it doesn’t matter when, for Bakugou is screwed either way.
Bakugou could try but he cannot just run away from his feelings unless he took a dive out the window.
Which of course he isn’t going to. Try to escape his feelings that is. Because Bakugou Katsuki doesn’t escape or run away. He fights, and he wins. His opponent? His feelings.
But it is difficult to conquer your feelings when the object of your affections is Kirishima Eijirou. And no matter how hard Bakugou tries, his feelings never stay away. Especially since said object of affections is always by his side.
“Hey, Bakugou! There’s a new restaurant down the streets! Wanna go there for lunch?” Kirishima chirps as he swings an arm around Bakugou’s shoulders.
“Oh! I heard that they’re very, very spicy! And you and I both know you can’t handle spiciness at all, Kiribro” Sero says as he walks behind them.
“Hey! I’m all up for that challenge now! Let’s go!” Kirishima grins widely and Bakugou thinks he might go blind.
“Aww… Come on, Kiribro. We don’t all have to suffer because you wanna challenge yourself. Let’s eat at the usual place!” Ashido whines and Kaminari nods vigorously in agreement.
“Let’s try new thing, guys! We always eat the same old thing. Besides, we don’t have to order anything spicy, and Bakugou can see if the spiciness finally meets his standards!” Kirishima persuades, turning on his puppy eyes a notch. Easily, everyone agrees.
And although Kirishima orders the least spicy dish, he fans at his mouth as he swallows gallons of water. But still, he smiles happily at Bakugou, as if the war going on in his mouth is utterly insignificant.
And Bakugou can’t help but fall a little bit more in love. And maybe he is blinded by love and wishful thinking, because Bakugou cannot help but feel that Kirishima has sacrificed his tongue just so Bakugou can finally have an outside meal with the appropriate amount of spiciness without having to empty entire bottles of chilli powder on his food.
Bakugou refuses to think that he is lovesick. But it has gotten to a point where he almost cannot take it. He’s been pining for years now. But nobody will ever know because on the outside, Bakugou has an iron grip on his self-control. Except, someone does. Someone who looks at Bakugou and sees him. Someone who looks past the anger and good grades and actually sees Bakugou Katsuki.
Someone who yearns for Bakugou but tries his hardest to suppress those forbidden feelings. Someone who watches Bakugou, who goes out of his way to show care for Bakugou and cater to his needs. Someone who scolds himself for falling in love with his best friend even though he has already sworn his everything to his soulmate. Someone who returns Bakugou’s feelings, even if they both didn’t know it.
Kirishima sees how tired Bakugou’s heart is, and he wants to comfort him for the other has his heart in his hands. And even though fate has someone else planned for Kirishima, he knows that his heart will forever belong to Bakugou.
“Hey, Bakugou… Are you okay?” Kirishima asks hesitantly as they see each other in their corridor. Kirishima knows the other is avoiding him. Even though Bakugou would complain about their squad lunches at times, he never turned them down. Yet, Bakugou had quietly declined, claiming he had something on with his eyes cast downwards, a habit he had when he was lying. And while Bakugou continued to talk to their other friends, he hadn’t even glanced in Kirishima’s direction. It made Kirishima’s heart clench painfully.
“I’m fine…” Bakugou mumbles, brushing past Kirishima to his own room.
Ignoring the look of surprise, Kirishima enters behind Bakugou, stopping the latter from closing the door on him.
“Please. Tell me, Bakugou. We’re friends, right? So there’s no need to hide. Please don’t force me to watch you from the sidelines and be all helpless.” Kirishima pleads with eyes wide and tearful. Let me love you when your heart is tired, he does not say.
No matter how strong your lid is, it can’t stop an explosive overflow. And so, Bakugou breaks down and pours out his heart.
Bakugou though it would end in hell, but instead, he’s in heaven.
Because Kirishima fucking loves him too.
Lips meet and teeth clash together as they kiss, Kirishima pressing Bakugou against the door. Fingers trail down exposed skin, pushing aside cumbersome clothing in search for more. Their hips meet in a flurry as they rubbed against each other in fervent passion. As they part for air, their gaze are fixed on the other, breathes mingling as they panted against each other. And when they come together, Kirishima bites down onto the crook of Bakugou’s neck as the latter cries out in both pain and pleasure.
That night, as they lie together on Bakugou’s bed, legs intertwined and bodies curled against the other, Kirishima removes his promise ring.
“Will you be my boyfriend?” Kirishima whispers, presenting the ring to Bakugou.
“But your soulmate…” Bakugou starts but is interrupted by a sweet kiss.
“I don’t care about who fate thinks is my soulmate. Because Katsuki, you are the only one for me.”
The ring fits Bakugou’s finger perfectly.
And of course, their friends see the ring and the obvious signs of their relationship. Even if they tried to keep it on the downlow, it isn’t difficult to see how Bakugou treats Kirishima differently. And even though everyone knows that Kirishima has a bleeding heart and is kind to everyone, it is clear how specially he takes care of Bakugou.
While Bakugou growls at his friends who congratulated them cheerfully, he cannot help the grin that threatened to break out of his face and ruin his image when he sees how happy Kirishima is.
But Bakugou didn’t think that fate would separate them this soon.
It is their first real date. While they still did a lot of couple stuff, they have yet had the chance to go out with just the two of them. When the weekends roll around, they hurriedly completed their homework so they have time for a date.
“Let’s watch a movie tomorrow, Katsuki!” Kirishima suggests as they are sprawled out in bed.
For some strange reason, Bakugou feels uneasy. But he brushes it off, snuggling into Kirishima’s side as he hummed in agreement. Kirishima’s answering smile is more than enough to erase the unease from Bakugou’s mind.
They hold hands the entire way to the cinema.
And although Bakugou is impartial to romance movies, especially soulmate ones, he easily agrees to Kirishima’s suggestion. There isn’t any other movie he wants to watch anyway. But still, the unsettling feeling settles into Bakugou’s mind once again.
It grows and festers in his mind, and becomes a raging storm in his head when Kirishima goes off to the toilet. As Bakugou stood waiting, hands full of their popcorn and drinks, he sees her.
A petite girl with long mousy-brown hair, a soft gentle face, and a blindingly sweet smile. For some reason, she reminded Bakugou of Kirishima.
“I’m so sorry I’m late!” The girls say as she rubs the back of her head sheepishly.
The group of girls she’s with laughs. “It’s fine, Eiri. What was it this time? Helping an old man cross the street? Or a cat stuck in a tree?”
The girl, Eiri, blushes. “Oh no. I just came across a puppy and she was just so adorable I couldn’t help but play with her a little… So what are we watching?”
“The Promise,” Her friends reply and Bakugou found that he was wishing they are watching anything but that.
“Oh! I loved the book so much! A sweet love story about soulmates who promise themselves to each other, never swaying despite the temptations and even though they still don’t meet until they are fifty.” Eiri says dreamily, stretching out her fingers. “It’s why I wear a promise ring too! I hope my soulmate is out there, waiting for me too.”
“Of course they’re out there, silly. Everyone has a soulmate and everyone gets with their soulmate!” Her friends exclaim and Eiri replies with a dizzying smile.
Slowly but surely, Bakugou feels the world narrowing down on him. Everyone has a soulmate except him. And Bakugou doesn’t care that he doesn’t have a soulmate because he has Kirishima. And yet, Kirishima has a soulmate, and no one has ever rejected their soulmate after they met before. Would Kirishima, who so whole-heartedly believed in his soulmate and wanted to give his all to them, be able to turn down the soulmate he had been waiting for almost the entirety of his life?
“Katsuki? Are you alright?” Kirishima asks as he returns from the toilet and sees how pale his lover is.
Bakugou slowly turns to look at him, but as he turns, he sees it. The red knot on Kirishima’s finger starts to grow, lengthening and stretching out and Bakugou just knows who is on the other end.
“Oh my!” Eiri shouts in glee as she feels the tug on her finger. The people around her notices what is happening and heartily throw out congratulations.
And yet, there seems to be a bubble around Bakugou and Kirishima, because Kirishima does not react to the pull of his soulmate, attention focused only on his love. Glancing between Kirishima’s worried face and Eiri’s joyful expression, Bakugou bolts. He doesn’t want to see Kirishima turn those loving eyes on someone else.
“Katsuki! Wait!” Kirishima calls out, chasing after Bakugou, effectively breaking off the connected red treads when he gets too far from his soulmate.
Bakugou runs and runs until he feels his breath falling short and the world turns grey. He stops suddenly, lurching forward as he heaves out his breakfast. Kirishima is beside him immediately, pulling Bakugou to his chest as he wipes Bakugou’s mouth clean with his hand.
“Are you not feeling well? Katsuki? Babe, please talk to me…” Hearing Kirishima’s earnest pleas, Bakugou feels his senses coming back.
“Your soulmate,” Bakugou says like it’s an explanation.
“I told you, I don’t want anyone else but you!”
“She’s here and she’s just so perfect for you! You’ve been waiting for her your whole life! And she’s been waiting for you too! Both wearing those stupid promise rings!” Bakugou shouts, suddenly angry. How could he be so stupid as to think they could be together.
Kirishima pauses at that, surprised. It is almost like the movie they were going to watch. Except, Kirishima stopped waiting. No. It wasn’t that he stopped. He knew he would meet them someday, but he didn’t want them anymore. Because no one can ever compare to Bakugou Katsuki. Bakugou wasn’t a pitstop. He wasn't a “temptation”. Bakugou is his lover, his boyfriend. They may not be soulmates, but they will be lifelong mates. And he tells Bakugou that.
“You may say that now, Eijirou. But you know what they say. You can never resist the pull of your soulmate once your eyes meet. You can’t say that you won’t leave me. You don’t know that.”
“I thought you didn’t believe that?”
“I don’t. But you do. It’s why you picked that stupid movie, right?”
“No… I picked it because I wanted you to see how much you mean to me. I would have waited dumbly for fifty years for my soulmate. But then you came into my life. And I realised that the one I was waiting for is you!” Kirishima whispers, eyes begging Bakugou to believe him.
“But you’ve waited for her for eighteen years and we’ve been together for barely a week!” Bakugou protests, not wanting to get his hopes up.
“But I’ve been in love with you since we were sixteen,” Kirishima says.
“I…” Bakugou starts when a shout interrupts them.
“Hey! You! Redhead! You’re Eiri’s soulmate, right? You fucker better come and make it up to her!” Bakugou recognises the girl as one of Eiri’s friends.
“Tell Eiri I’m sorry but I already have someone I love,” Kirishima proclaims, arms tight around Bakugou.
The girl glares at them, furious. “Eiri has been waiting for you all her life! Tell her that yourself! You know soulmates always get together in the end. And even if you won’t leave him for Eiri, he’s gonna leave you when he meets his soulmate! So stop all these unnecessary pain!”
“Just go, Eijirou. Look into her eyes, talk to her. Go watch that damn movie with her. Take back your promise ring. And if what you told me is true, then you can put it back on me.” Bakugou says as he removes the ring. The girl gasps in shock when she sees that there is no red knot beneath the ring.
Kirishima nods, giving Bakugou a chaste kiss, ignoring the taste of vomit still on his lips. Slowly, they part, fingers still curled around each other. And long after their hands separate, Kirishima off to his soulmate, Bakugou stares at the spot where he last sees Kirishima.
The silent buzz in his pocket snaps him out of his trance. Slipping out his phone, he sees Ashido wishing them a good date on their group chat. Sighing, Bakugou tiredly trudges home.
Bakugou wants Kirishima to be happy. Whether it be with his soulmate or with Bakugou, Bakugou only wants Kirishima to be happy with no regrets. And the rest? Bakugou can handle it. After all, he’s going to be number one.
“You’re mine, and I’m yours.” Is the first thing Kirishima says when he barges into Bakugou’s room that evening. “Eiri is a sweet girl. And before, she may be all I ever wanted. But Katsuki, I looked into her eyes and talked to her like you told me to. And yet, all I felt was that I wanted to be with you. All I could think about was you. And I tried my best to concentrate on her, but all I see is someone who could have been but just isn’t.
“Maybe in the past, I would have fallen in love with her. But Katsuki, I’m not who I was anymore. I’m not the same insecure self who didn’t have the courage to help someone else. You give me strength, Katsuki. You make me brave. You make me who I am, complete me. And I’m proud and happy with who I am now. Maybe once, she was my perfect soulmate. But now, all I want is you. If you’ll have me.”
Bakugou’s eyes fill with tears as he chokes out, “Stop being so fucking cheesy, shitty hair! Of course I want you too.”
Grinning widely, Kirishima slips the promise ring back on Bakugou’s finger. Once the ring is properly on, they meet in a flurry of kisses, gentle touches and fervent promises. They join as one, fingers intertwined and feeling breathless.
Late into the night, when Bakugou thinks Kirishima is asleep, Bakugou murmurs into the other’s neck. “I love you, Eijirou. Maybe fate decided not to give me a soulmate because it knew I was going to love and choose you no matter what. Maybe you wouldn’t have given us a chance if I did have one because you’re virtuous like that. But whatever… I…”
As Bakugou drifts off to dreamland, Kirishima pulls him closer and they fall asleep.
They do not notice as Kirishima’s red thread disintegrates.
They do not notice as a gold cord tie the two together, vibrant and glowing, strong and unbreakable.
But they do notice when the other gets cold, snuggling closer together, and wrapping around each other as one.
They were one even before zero, the very beginning. Even before fate and destined soulmates. Because they are the two who found their own destiny. Who created their own paths and found true love. It wasn’t written in the stars or decided by their DNA. Rather, it was two hearts that met each other and fell in love of their own volition.
They will love each other, withstand pressure together, have petty fights and sweet makeup sex. Their relationship isn’t perfect. But they will stand together until the end of time because they love each other, and not because some fucking unknown thing called fate commanded them to.
Because fuck fate.