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Opposed to the Typical

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Kirishima Eijirou is six years old when his mother realizes that she doesn't have time to get a babysitter before she has to leave for the evening, and is dragged to his first Fashion Week in an uncomfortable but well fitting suit. It's the most important day of his life, though he doesn't know it yet. He's small, at six, shy and timid, but his eyes are very wide as he follows his photographer mother around red carpets, sticking close to her side. Okaa-san is tall and beautiful and wearing a dress made of beautiful, floaty fabric with flowers on it, and Eijirou is careful not to hold onto it so it doesn't wrinkle as she takes pictures of people also wearing beautiful clothing. He's not really sure exactly why Okaa-san takes pictures like these, but the people are pretty and it's interesting, so he follows along obediently and doesn't question it. He gets cooed at a lot, which is nice but also scary.

They escape the red carpet area to a small cafe, and Eijirou hops onto a chair to sit and wait while Okaa-san calls Akane to see if she can meet up with them and help look after Eijirou. He likes Akane, a lot, and beams when Okaa-san puts her phone away with a relieved smile. Akane makes Okaa-san smile like no one else can, not even Eijirou.

“Is Akane-san coming?” he asks, kicking his feet, and Okaa-san smiles.

“She is,” she promises, “and she'll keep an eye on you so I can work, little man.”

“I like watching you work,” Eijirou says earnestly, and Okaa-san's face does something complicated. A happy-sad, all at once.

“That so?”

“Yeah!”

Their food arrives, just simple drinks and takoyaki, and Eijirou watches as Okaa-san nibbles on hers before taking a bite. Ever since Maro left them last year, Okaa-san is slowly getting better, but he still hates that she feels so nervous doing things like eating. It's easier, if Akane's there. Akane laughs and jokes and feeds her little bites with her chopsticks and calls her “my sweet” and Eijirou really wants Akane to stay and keep making Okaa-san smile forever.

“What is this?” he asks finally, pointing out the window.

“Don't point at people, Eikkun, it's rude,” Okaa-san says with a smile. “This is Fashion Week. People come from all over the world to look at new clothing that people have made.”

“Why?” Eijirou asks frankly, and Okaa-san smiles again. Eijirou loves his Okaa-san's smile. The crinkles by her eyes get deep and soft, and she looks so happy.

“Clothes are a lot of things, Eikkun. They tell us about a person, or they're art you wear on your body, or a statement you make without words. So we're here to find out what people are saying without them having to say anything.” Okaa-san ruffles his hair. “I take pictures so that people who aren't here can see them too.”

“Cool,” Eijirou breathes, lighting up, and Okaa-san laughs a little before nudging him to finish his takoyaki.

The door opens and Akane sweeps inside.

“Akane-chan!” Eijirou hops off of his chair and runs to her. Akane beams a him, sweeping him off his feet and up into her arms. He's much too big to be being picked up any more but Akane is six feet tall and muscular, with long blonde hair and brilliant green eyes. She's fresh from the gym, still in her workout gear, and Eijirou hugs her tight. Akane is half Japanese and half Swedish, which Eijirou thinks is extremely cool, and she can lift Eijirou like he's a feather which is even more cool.

“Hey there hot-shot,” she teases, kissing his cheek. “Lookin' spiffy in that suit. Where's your ma?”

“Right there!”

Akane gasps. “No way.”

Okaa-san's going red now, blushing hotly, and Eijirou giggles at the look on her face. Okaa-san's tall and pretty too, not as tall as Akane, but her makeup is fancy and her dress is beautiful and covered in a flower pattern and floats around her body. And Akane looks at her like she hung the moon. Eijirou wants Akane to stay forever.

“Are you sure that's your ma, kiddo? Because that looks like a princess who happened to stumble into a cafe.”

“It's Okaa-san!”

Eijirou giggles as Akane lets him down, and beams as Okaa-san tips her face up so that Akane can lean down and kiss her. Okaa-san looks so happy.

“Thank you for coming to look after him,” Okaa-san says, and Akane grins at her.

“Not a problem, sweetheart. I've got him, Kiyoko, you can get back to work.”

Okaa-san's face goes even more red, and Eijirou resists the urge to beam. It's so good to see Okaa-san happy.

“Alright,” Akane says, setting him down and taking his hand. “What do you wanna do, kiddo? Wanna go see a movie?”

“Yes!” Eijirou squeezes her hand, swinging it as Okaa-san gets up and puts the camera back around her neck. She barely comes up to the middle of Akane's chest, but she's still so tall! As far as Eijirou's concerned, Okaa-san is one of the tallest people he knows. “Can we go home and watch the one with the lions again? I liked that one!”

Akane grins at him, her teeth perfectly straight and white. “Sweet, I like that one too. We'll drop your ma at the carpet and then you and me are gonna go get popcorn and food and do nothing but watch movies til we're tired. How's that sound?”

Eijirou cheers, holding up his other hand for Okaa-san to take, and together they walk back to the place where all the people have been posing and modeling.

There's another big and important thing that happens that day, but really, when he thinks back on it, the day is mostly important because it's the first day that Okaa-san calls Akane her girlfriend when she comes home.

oOo

All labels under All Might have a rule that the designers hand select their interns.

That's the first thing he learns when he walks into his college classrooms to people who have more talent, more drive, and more experience than he does. Toshinori Yagi and all his associated fellows hand pick each and every one of the interns. You apply, and you hope for the best. There is no guaranteed way of getting in. Each and every intern is picked by the big man in charge, and there is no way around it.

Eijirou rolls up his sleeves, and gets to work.

Eijirou's life has been straightforward to this point. He did well in school, struggling mostly with math, he played on the baseball team, he took trips with his moms and was a good big brother to the twins. And when high school is done, he keeps the momentum. He does well at college. He works hard, gets good grades, is praised for his work in melding masculine aesthetics into beautiful clothing, and calls his mothers every two days to check in. He works hard, and he does everything he can to move out fast into the world, and he succeeds. He graduates with a degree in Fashion Product Development, and three minors; Business, Physical Education, and Journalism. And on one clear spring afternoon, he applies to the vast company that is All Might, in the hopes that an internship under any of their labels will open up.

Several do.

And against all odds, he gets in.

oOo

It takes all of two weeks before Eijirou is sincerely wondering what the fuck he thinks he's doing. He wonders this as he pushes through crowds and rushes across the street in early morning traffic, dressed in a wrinkled and uncomfortable suit and shoes that pinch his feet. He continues to wonder this as he hurries up stone steps, and a guard helps him flash his badge to enter the building. He's still wondering that as he hurries through the lobby at 8:47 trying not to be late.

“Oi!”

He's carrying no less than eight coffees and has a fast food bag clenched in his teeth, but he still whirls around in the sleek lobby of the All Might office building as he hears footsteps approaching. He got into this position thanks to sheer dumb luck and a borrowed Armani suit from his best friend from college, who's also in the building and interning under yet another one of the labels in the building he's at. Tetsutetsu himself is running up, also holding a borderline lethal amount of coffee, and Kirishima grins around the bag. All Might is a beast of a company, and the labels that it hoards under its powerful arms are ridiculous. Everything from the original All Might label to Fatgum and Hawks and Fourth Kind and Mount Lady can be found under its roof, and while it's been a roller coaster of a week already, Eijirou can't help but still be excited as his friend walks with him.

Together they get into the elevator with two other interns performing the Running of the Caffiene, and the solitary woman lifts up her leg and uses her sharp toed heel to push all the buttons for their floors. Tetsutetsu's on 8 with Fourth Kind's design studio, Kendou's on 17 with Textiles, the infamous Monoma is on 20 in Marketing, and Eijirou is on a brutally far up 28. He does his best not to walk too close to any windows when he's in the design studio.

The elevator jerks, and Kirishima resigns himself to a morning of listening to Tetsutetsu talk about his weight routine and how he's been missed at the gym as they go up, Kendou and Monoma bickering about something in the background. Tetsutetsu waves with his head as he gets off on 8, four different PR people cram in on 12, Kendou gets off and trades with the designer for Cementoss (whose name he can never fucking remember), another 3 crowd in on 18, Monoma and two of the PR people get off on 20, Cementoss gets off on 22, and finally the last two PR people and the three from R and D get off on 24, leaving him blissfully alone with a bag in his mouth and eight steadily cooling coffees as the elevator finally moves towards his destination. Of course, it stops on 27, and he tries not to cry with frustration as a short, bulky guy with wild green hair walks into the elevator. He's got a Bluetooth on his ear and is talking, but Eijirou has to hide his smile when he sees the little thing isn't turned on.

“...get the paperwork from Kacchan at 2 for the meeting with Sir, Ojirou will have Naka's schedule, maybe Kendou will know about grapefruit since she likes healthy snacks...”

Midoriya Izuku, former model and current intern, jumps nearly a foot in the air as the door closes and he realizes he's not alone.

Eijirou laughs around the bag as he stammers apologies, and Midoriya hurries to take it from him.

“I'msosorry,” he says frantically, politely ignoring the holes Eijirou's teeth made in the bag. “Hi, Kirishima-kun!”

“Don't worry about it,” Eijirou laughs. “Running errands?”

“Y-yes,” Midoriya mumbles, going red. “I forgot to take something to the PR team last night.”

“Happens to all of us,” Eijirou grins, and the elevator finally dings for 28. “This is me-”

“Oh, I'll go with you! Mirio-senpai is visiting and I need to get him.”

Eijirou sighs in relief. “Oh, cool.”

They walk out of the elevator and onto the floor of the Fatgum offices. Each of the floors has its own look and décor, and Eijirou loves his. Fatgum's whole label and aesthetic is comfortable and fun punk with an emphasis on looks that can fit any body size or type, and he's happy he was pulled on board to work for its lead and original designer. The man himself stands a massive 6'7” in the middle of the room, texting on his phone and already halfway through a slice of pizza at horrifyingly early in the morning while leaning against a bright red wall. The whole office has a fun mid-century modern look without sacrificing comfort, and the walls have a magnificent mural of a view of Mount Fuji done in spray paint, some general tags, and a whole ton of pictures from pop punk and alt rock shows on them.

“Oh hey there,” Toyomitsu Taishirou, more commonly called Fat, says cheerfully, ignoring the exasperated look their receptionist is giving him for eating in the clean lobby. “You made it on time! I'm starvin' for a burger.”

“Sorry it took so long, the elevator stopped constantly,” Eijirou says, handing the receptionist her coffee. She seizes it gratefully and downs half of it in one go as Midoriya hands the bag over to Fat.

“S'not a big deal,” Fat grins, opening the bag and immediately tearing into a burger. “Fuck, 'm so 'ungry. Cmon greenie, le's go ge' Mirio.”

They're led back past the main office area, past the PR bullpen where a group of models stand hovering around the veritable buffet table laid out to the side and devouring food. Another major benefit; Fat refused to let anyone go hungry on his watch, so the offices are always packed with food. Healthy or not, if you wanted it you could take it, and it was always refreshed. No one, no one went hungry if Fat knew about it and could help. Rumor was that a good quarter of the operating budget went to food, but it was never questioned.

They head into the studio proper, a big open room with desks here and there along the walls. Fat's right hand and youngest designer stands at a table looking over two different fabrics, and Kirishima brightens at the sight of him.

“Amajiki-senpai, I have your-”

Amajiki Tamaki, dressed in what Fat likes to call “Business Emo”, is in front of him and knocking back a good third of his espresso in one go before he can even finish his sentence. Fat's office dress code consists only of “Wear What Makes You Comfortable (And keep backup clothes in your lockers in case of unexpected business meetings with the head honchos)”, which Eijirou appreciates. In his skinny jeans, black dress shirt, oversized and unzipped hoodie, comfortable slip ons, and black fingerless gloves, Amajiki-senpai looks more comfortable in the studio than anywhere else.

“Thank you,” he mumbles once he surfaces, and jumps when Midoriya zooms past him to Togata Mirio, who's looking over something on a far table and dressed in a white linen suit with an inky blue shirt under it. “There's paperwork on my desk for the shoot on Tuesday-”

“On it!”

Tamaki sighs in relief, and Eijirou beams at him. “Stop that, go be a ray of sunshine somewhere else.”

“Sure, senpai!”

He passes Fat his coffee and distributes the others to the rest of the room before heading to the desk and getting the paperwork. Once he's got everything settled he'll head to his locker and get changed out of his suit and shoes, something he's very much looking forward to. He's been pushing the limits on what he wears to see if he can get a reaction out of Fat, but so far it's just been Tamaki looking extremely pained at his themed crocs.

Papers gathered and ready to be taken down the hall to their proper homes, he heads towards the door only to be caught by Tamaki's tiny wave.

“Jeanist's asked for your help with final prep today for their show on Saturday,” he says apologetically. Fat nods as he plows his way through fries with the sort of single minded determination that would put professional athletes to shame. Eijirou loves his boss. “Nothing too bad, just measurements. Ditch the jacket and those horrible shoes, I will loan you a pair do not wear your Crocs, call time for the model's arrival is 9:30.”

Eijirou glances at the massive clock on the wall. It's 9:05. He'll be cutting it close, but he'll make it work.

“Got it!”

The papers are delivered to their respective people, his locker in the back staff room is flung open and his jacket and shoes tossed in, and he hurries back to the studio in his socks to take a pair of chunky black sneakers in his size from Amajiki, who looks him over and actually winces. Granted, his salmon shirt, blue tie, and far too loose black slacks isn’t the trendiest look, especially with his sky high hair.

“Hakamata's going to kill me for sending you down looking like this,” Fat says cheerfully, snickering. “We gotta get you some better suits kid. Or at least get those tailored.”

Eijirou cringes but nods, waves quickly at Midoriya (who's still trying to get Togata to stop teasing his boyfriend and go upstairs to their offices), and books it out the door. The stairs will be faster than the elevator, so he takes them down to the 21st floor, where Best Jeanist's label has its shooting studio and work studio.

As always, there's a herd of near uniformly identical interns hovering by the door, but Uraraka from the All Might studio is there as well, looking like she'd rather be anywhere else. The bags under her eyes are terrifying and impressive all at once. Eijirou immediately wishes that he could have shoved more coffee on her- she interns for All Might, is the assistant on Yamada Hizashi’s photoshoots, and also works security at night. He’s not certain she doesn’t actually sleep in a storage closet somewhere.

“Oh thank god, you’re here too,” she mutters as he arrives, brushing himself down. The studio is a riotous bustle of people, Best Jeanist's frenetic pace miles away from the relatively calm, easy going atmosphere just floors above. The interns are all clutching identical coffee mugs. “They freak me out. They're like zebras, I can't tell them apart.”

“Yeah, it's creepy.”

There's a clamor as the doors open and the models come in, and Kirishima cranes his neck to look them over. It's a decently mixed bag, that's for sure. They're mostly about the same height. A few girls, mostly guys, one of them tall and built like a brick with black hair and glasses (who looked suspiciously like Iida Tensei from Ingenium Design... huh). The men are a pretty standard lot. Black hair, blond hair with a black streak, black hair again, and-

Ash blond hair. Pretty.

Eijirou's eyes trail down from the puff of hair and. Oh.

Very pretty.

Ash-blond is striking, with an intense scowl and glare combination and an excellent body. He's beautiful, with strong boned features and a cocky jut to his chin. Eijirou likes him immediately. He's manly as hell.

The identical interns all shuffle around like stressed gazelles, skittish and wary, and turn with glittering eyes to look at Uraraka and Eijirou. He suddenly feels like a bug under a microscope. Someone shoves a measuring tape in one hand and a notebook and pen into the other.

“Brown-hair,” one of them says with a sort of relieved glee, “you get Hagakure. Red-hair gets Bakugou.”

“I don't have a clue who that is,” Uraraka says dryly. One of them waves her forward and leads her away.

“I'm in the same boat,” Eijirou says, and one of them gives him an ugly, feral grin.

“Ohhhh.”

Eijirou immediately feels a spike of terror. “Sorry?”

The one who spoke leans in close, smiling sharply, and points at Ash-blond. Ash-blond, or Bakugou he supposes, is currently snapping angrily at someone who stepped too close to him. “This is a hazing. You have to get all his normal measurements, and his arms. Good fucking luck.”

Oh gods.

But Eijirou's spent the past two weeks doing such terrifying things as working with a hangry Fat, getting coffee during rush hour, and wearing socks with Crocs in a fashion design company just to get a reaction, so one model shouldn't kill him- no matter how hot or how much of a hassle that model might be. Taking a deep breath, he steels his nerves. He's about to walk across the floor when Hakamata walks in and claps his hands once. All eyes immediately turn to the designer. As alway, his face is half covered by a scarf.

“We have a photoshoot for the new collection in five days,” Hakamata says in his cool voice. “We are down to the wire on fitting adjustments and final measurements. Let's have this over with quickly.”

There's a collective, “Yes, Hakamata-sensei!” from around the room, and then the whole place bursts into motion. The identical interns all swarm, and Eijirou heads towards Bakugou. He looks… he looks like he's uncomfortable, but he's hiding it well, eyes flicking around constantly to follow all the movement around him. There's a good five foot radius around him of empty space, no one wanting to get too close. As Eijirou approaches, someone knocks a basket off of a table behind Bakugou, causing a crash. Everyone except Bakugou jumps. He doesn't seem to have even noticed.

Oh. The pieces click together.

Eijirou makes sure to approach so that Bakugou can see him coming, and grins back when Bakugou scowls at him. Bakugou jolts and yeah. Eijirou was expecting that.

“Hi,” he says cheerfully, unrolling his tape measure. “Shirt off, please!”

“What the fuck is up with your teeth?”

Eijirou's grin widens as Bakugou drags off his shirt. Holy shit. Hoooly shit. The guy is ripped. His abs are just shy of display worthy, clearly defined without the skin being practically suctioned, and his arms are positively glorious. Eijirou values performance over display for himself, but then, he’s not model. He's not actually sure if he wants to lick him or drag him to the gym to compare routines. Maybe both.

Both is good.

He waits until Bakugou can see him again before saying, “Yeah, they freak people out, but they're natural! It's a genetic thing, my mom has it too! She had hers capped though. I like mine as is.”

Eijirou’s teeth are pretty freaky, he has to admit. But Eijirou's a fan of his strange smile. While he has his back molars like most people, all of his front teeth from incisors on are pointed and wickedly sharp.

Bakugou looks vaguely interested and then makes a “tch” noise. “Weird.”

“Sure am!” Eijirou says cheerfully. “Ready?”

Bakugou gives him one more look then nods sharply, as if bracing himself.

He steps up and starts measuring, jotting things down as he goes. Bakugou's pretty close to him in chest size but his waist is much more slender. Eijirou's wider in the shoulders and hips. He's also got about an inch of height on Bakugou, which makes him feel irrationally smug.

It doesn't take long for him to figure out that Bakugou hates surprise touch and tenses every time he lifts his hand and puts it back down. He ignores the slight growls and twitching, leaving his hand on his arm to help ground Bakugou and give him a way to feel where else he's moving, and sweet merciful fuck, his biceps are impressive. Like expected, Bakugou settles under his hand. It’s the on-and-off that bothers him, it seems.

As he kneels to get lower body measurements Bakugou says roughly, “Can't imagine you give too many blowjobs with teeth like that.”

He seems to regret it the moment he says it, blanching a little, but Eijirou just looks up at him with a slow, lazy smirk, lowering his lashes just a little bit. Even with his scar, he knows full well that people love his eyes and his long lashes. He's yet to have a person not be flustered by this look. Bakugou's cheeks turn a very satisfying faint pink.

“Wanna bet?” Eijirou drawls, grinning up at him with said teeth on display, and proceeds to measure his inseam. Bakugou flicks him in the forehead, hard, and Eijirou just laughs as he braces a hand on his leg as he writes down the measurement. He's got a hard head and thick skin, Bakugou would have to do better than that to run him off.

He's almost done when Bakugou asks, “So you got a specialist for a dentist or…”

“Oh yeah,” Eijirou says, taking the last set. “There's a guy in the city who does vampire veneers for the serious vamps so I go to him. He gives me a discount for molds of my teeth for more realistic veneers for people. The Buffy crowd really like them.”

“Wild.”

“Yep!” He stands up, relishing that inch he has on Bakugou. Bakugou can clearly tell there’s a height difference and looks deeply annoyed. “All done!”

“Fan-fucking-tastic,” Bakugou mutters, pulling his shirt back on. Eijirou quietly mourns the loss of that view. He's never going to get used to seeing so many ripped and gorgeous models everywhere.

“Well, I probably won't see you again, but it was nice to meet you!” Eijirou grins at him again, and Bakugou grimaces. Under it, he looks a bit amused, and Eijirou decides to take the win. “See ya!”

He turns to leave but Bakugou grinds out, “What do you mean you won't see me again?”

Eijirou turns back around. “I'm just helping out, I'm actually interning up with Fatgum on 28.”

“Huh. Your hair's a different kind of shitty than these guys, should've known.”

“Hey now, I like my hair!”

Bakugou makes a face at him and Eijirou just laughs, giving him a teasing finger wave before heading back to hand the measurements off to the head of the herd of interns, a woman who looks extremely bored.

“Who did you have?” She asks, collecting his paper.

“Bakugou. I didn't get a first name-”

Her head whips around to look at him. “And you're done?”

“Uh. Yes?”

She stares at him a moment before checking the paper. “...so you are. Hmm. Which label are you with again?”

“Uh, Fatgum? I’m an intern, I’m not actually-”

She doesn't seem to notice his confusion, writing something on top of Bakugou's paper. “Name?”

“Kirishima Eijirou, but-”

“Very well. You're free to go. We'll take it from here.” She glides away, enormous bell bottom jeans swishing around her legs, and Eijirou decides it'll be a wise choice to escape while he still can. He slips out the door, glancing back in time to see Bakugou scowling at one of the Jeanist interns passing him a pair of extremely bedazzled jeans, and grins again as he heads out.

The rest of the day is straightforward. He has fun teasing Tamaki, eats lunch with Uraraka and Momo from Textiles, makes some bentos for Uraraka to take home and gets cried on, goes to a meeting to learn more about what it is marketing does, and does another coffee run at 4:00. (There's technically a coffee machine in the break room, but no one's willing to drink what it creates.) He catches a bus and then a train home to his polite little apartment, pulls out his futon, and collapses onto it with a groan of relief.

After a bit of decompressing he drags his phone to his face and indulges his curiosity.

A search of 'bakugou model’ reveals that Bakugou's name is Bakugou Katsuki, he's 23 like Eijirou, and that he's been modeling since he was absolutely tiny. Eijirou's pretty sure that he spots an old magazine photo is him and a terribly cute Midoriya together at about age 6 or 7. There's a few articles a couple years old that seem to be little fluff pieces, and tell him exactly nothing except that Bakugou has a talent for saying things without actually saying anything. Probably a useful skill for a model, a way to keep people away. He's modeled a lot and for some pretty big names, including some international ones.

And…

Eijirou sits up, surprised. He recognizes one set. It was when he was 16 or 17, a shoot Okaa-san did in Kyoto during sakura season for a traditional clothing company, and he remembers seeing them before edits. This one had barely needed any. Bakugou is sprawled elegantly over the roots of a tree, blossoms fallen to tangle in his puff of hair. There's an arm thrown over his eyes, and a single perfect blossom on his lips, as if sealing them closed. The inky black and tiny white crane pattern of his yukata against the soft pink sakura and the pale green of the grass is striking.

He's beautiful. Elegant. Aching to be comforted.

Eijirou saves the picture, wondering if Okaa-san will remember it. The only reason he does is because of the image of the soft cherry blossom on those pale lips. He would never have guessed the grouchy man from earlier could look so soft.

“Bakugou Katsuki, huh,” he asks the ceiling as he rolls onto his back. “Pretty and tough, just like him.”

The ceiling seems to be judging him. He doesn't blame it. Don't get involved with models was a mantra his professors had drilled into his head. Nothing good could come of it, they'd insisted, and while Eijirou could appreciate where they were coming from they hadn't been 6 inches away from Bakugou's abs. Eijirou's not stupid, he's not going to go chasing after a well known and well liked model, but if the opportunity comes up… he might just power walk.

He gets ready for bed, puts Bakugou Katsuki from his mind, and has no great plans or expectations of seeing him again.

oOo

At least, that's his plan, right up until he walks into the Fatgum offices and sees a small herd of models getting ready to be released into the studio, and one Bakugou Katsuki looks up from his phone to raise one perfect, slightly annoyed eyebrow.

Eijirou is so fucked.

Chapter Text

There's roughly 40 people crammed into a meeting room that's comfortable for 15 businessmen, and squishy at 20. Eijirou's not actually sure he's seen this much diversity in a group of humans outside of shitty university commercials, and frankly, it's really cool. There's a woman taller than Fat, three different people with dwarfism, a blind man, a deaf androgynous person, two people in wheelchairs, a woman with Downs syndrome in the sharpest oxblood suit he's ever seen, an extremely handsome man with a prosthetic arm and leg, and generally a bunch of other models in different body shapes, sizes, and skin tones. Bakugou's been squished in at the table next to one of the people in marketing and looks enormously uncomfortable.

Eijirou, trying to take up as little space as possible next to a couple of muttering PR people, feels for him.

“Awright,” Fat drawls, and the room settles down. A woman next to him begins to sign for the deaf individual, Tamaki on Fat's other side shrinking back. “Everybody here an’ ready?”

There's a chorus of nods.

“Great. Okay.” Fat grins at them all, his smile bright. “I'm Fat, head designer and founder, and I'm gonna go over a couple things for you all real quick. Usually we don't do shows. We do shoots, that's about it. Our label does well enough and we ain't couture, but this year the big guys up top want us ta do a showcase at a fashion week, and do a couture show to prove we can ball just as hard as anyone else. They don't care which one. So, I'm taking this opportunity to rub it in th' industries faces that they can't design worth shit for different body types and knock 'em out of the water. Usually we do a Spring-Summer line geared for festival looks and a Fall-Winter for the punk and alt-rock crowds. This year we're expanding ta ready to wear business and formalwear. Amajiki’s coverin’ the business line, we're calling it Suneater, and I'll be handling formalwear with Kirishima over there.”

39 pairs of eyes turn to him, and Eijirou nearly faints. He what?

“We're staying in Japan, I don't want ta deal with trying to fly,” Fat continues blithely, as if he hasn't just turned Eijirou's entire world upside down. “An’ t’be perfectly clear, I don't care if you gain or lose weight while we're working. We got months and months of planning ahead, don't restrict yourself. Nothin’ wrong with wanting your body to look how you want it, but don't fuckin do that for me, okay? You're hungry, eat. Y’only live once and food's too good to suffer without it. Besides, all my shit's meant to be adjustable.”

Eijirou sees a couple of the models sigh in relief. He's pretty sure he's also the only one who's noticed that Bakugou's eyes keep flicking between Fat and the translator.

“Right,” Fat says cheerfully. “So while you're in the wings for Fashion Week, I'm also gonna have you guys do some shoots here and there since there's some magazines that're badgering us for an article on Amajiki here.”

Amajiki promptly turns around and hides his face against the wall. Eijirou loves his senpai.

oOo

Once the models have been released into the studio and measurements are being taken in the chaos, Eijirou allows himself to freak out a little. He's somehow been paired up with Bakugou again, who's watching him with a strange expression as Eijirou fumbles around his measurements. Like the rest of the models, he's down to clinging underwear and while that's not innately sexual, Eijirou's struggling to focus with so much going on and those magnificent abs on display. Fuck, he's so gay.

“What's up with you, shitty hair?” Bakugou finally growls when Eijirou drops his measuring tape for the third time.

“I didn't know,” Eijirou says faintly. “No one told me I was actually helping with the design. I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm gonna die.”

Bakugou snorts, flicking his forehead again as Eijirou measures his hips. “You're a designer, right? You're working with the tall guy, he knows what he's doing. This is like designing with fucking training wheels on. What the fuck are you worried about?”

Eijirou pauses. “... you're right.”

“Damn right I am.”

Bakugou seems calmer today, settled in his skin now that they're out of the press of people and he can see the room from where Eijirou's steered them into a corner. He doesn't fight Eijirou on anything, just nudges him if he's uncomfortable or twitches away just enough to signal him. He probably doesn't even realize he's doing it. Eijirou knows they're being watched out of the side of people's eyes but he does his best to ignore it. His hand tightens where it's resting on Bakugou's arm, a sudden spike of fear rushing through him at the idea of being watched, and Bakugou's eyes sharpen.

“Hey,” Bakugou says flatly. “Breathe, hair for brains. Not gonna do anyone any good if you freak out before you even do anything.”

“You've got a great bedside manner, ever thought about becoming a doctor?”

“Fuck off!”

Eijirou laughs, the coil of tension unwinding as he dodges Bakugou's grab, and feels his shoulders loosen up. Bakugou settles back down with a positively murderous glare, and Eijirou grins at him before looping the tape measure around his neck for the next measurement. The curve of his neck is… alluring. Eijirou kind of wants to know what it'd look like with bite marks on it. Eijirou also kind of wants to know why he's so fucking interested in someone he met yesterday, but oh well. It's his burden to bear.

“Ohhhh my god! You're actually cooperating! There's hope for you yet!”

Bakugou grimaces, bracing himself as his nose wrinkles, and a girl about their age barrels into him and beams at Eijirou. She's nearly his height, with curly dyed pink hair and bright purple lipstick on. Her eye makeup is mostly just a terrifying amount of black eyeliner.

“Holy shit,” Eijirou breathes, staring at her in shock. “Ashido?”

“KIRISHIMA!” Ashido Mina, apparent model, exceptional beauty, and a high school friend, beams at him. “You did go into design after all! Oh my gosh, it's so good to see you! Hey, hey, Bakugou, this is a friend of mine from high school.” She's practically climbing on him, and Bakugou snarls as he pushes her off.

“Oh my god, I don't care. Go away, I'm fucking working!”

Eijirou accepts the hug Ashido goes for, squeezing her tight. “I missed you too. I had no clue you did modeling! I can do lunch at 12, want to meet up?”

“Yeah!!” Ashido kisses his cheek, leaving a sloppy purple lipstick stain there. “Bakugou, I'm getting the gang together! You're coming.”

“Fuck you, racoon eyes, I'm not-”

“There’s a really good Indian place down the street that makes the most amazing curry, we'll go there!” She grabs his pen and writes her number on the back of his hand. “I gotta go back down to Mount Lady for a final fitting but text me when you're ready! I'd say call but honestly I'd probably forget to call back and that would suck because I wanna see you and talk to you and have curry while doing it. I gotta introduce you to my friends, ohmygod you're gonna love Kaminari. Be nice to him, Bakugou, he's doing his best. Byeee Kiri!”

And with that she vanishes back into the swirl of people in the studio, swallowed immediately by the throng. Eijirou laughs, looking back to Bakugou, who looks borderline apoplectic. “Wow, I haven't seen her in what… six years? She hasn't changed a bit.”

Bakugou just growls, and stays sullen while Eijirou finishes up.

“There we go, you're done,” Eijirou says as he finishes writing down the last number, smiling. “So how'd you meet Mina?”

“We're in the same agency,” Bakugou says reluctantly. “She won't fuckin leave me alone.”

“Yeah, that sounds like her.”

Bakugou pauses, and then looks over at him again. “Do you actually design shit? Like. Clothes and hats and whatever other bullshit.”

“Uh, yes?” Eijirou eyes him, confused. “Got a degree in it and everything, graduated magna cum laude from one of the best schools out there. I specialize in outerwear, actually.”

Bakugou rubs his forehead, staring at him with a truly impressive snarl on. Eijirou firmly reminds himself that he shouldn't be turned on by potential violence. “Then why the FUCK are you wearing a grey suit with an orange shirt and rainbow tie and fucking baby pink boaters? Do you get dressed in the dark? What is wrong with you?”

Eijirou laughs, delighted, and Bakugou growls as he lunges for him. Eijirou dodges easily, catching Bakugou's wrist to spin him back up into Eijirou's space, and Bakugou bares sharp little teeth at him. It's not nearly as impressive as when Eijirou does it.

“Wanna know the secret?” He teases, definitely not thinking about how thrilling it is to be pressed up close. Bakugou’s eyes burn like caged flames, but he stops struggling so he can listen. “I wear the ugliest combinations I can find because it makes Amajiki-senpai laugh, and to see what it takes to make Fat comment on it. It's fun. You getting pissed off about it is just a bonus.”

Bakugou stares at him. “You're so fucking weird.”

Eijirou laughs, letting him go. “Yeah, I am!”

The studio door opens with a thud, making the entire room turn to look at the interloper. It's a tall man in all black with an enormous scarf around his neck and a yellow sleeping bag thrown over his shoulder. He ignores everyone, moving off to the side of the room, and Eijirou's jaw drops as he climbs into the sleeping bag and, apparently, passes out.

“Uh…”

Rei, one of the seamstresses, walks up next to him and hands him a massive stack of papers. “That's Aizawa, he manages most of the models. Don't worry, he's just tired. Get these copied and filed please, and then Fat wants you in the studio on floor 10.”

The bottom drops out of his stomach as he clutches the papers. Floor 10 is additional studio space for all of the designers in the building- essentially private offices for personal or experimental projects. All of the lead designers have their own.

Bakugou kicks his calf as Rei walks off. “Better not put me in any weird shit for your line.”

And that definitely is not going to help.

He gets the paperwork dealt with in record time and bolts down all 18 flights of stairs to try and wear down some of his nerves. It doesn't exactly work. He shows his badge to the door guard on floor 10, and a second one escorts him down a plain, windowless white hall to the studio Fat occupies.

It's… surprisingly simple. There are endless mannequins in all sorts of sizes and shapes in a neat row two deep along one wall, bolts of cloth in an organized system of shelving done by fabric type and then color, sleek white tables with adjustable height raised up to accommodate Fat’s height, and all the sewing supplies a heart could desire in a rolling caddy. One wall is a massive whiteboard with sketches held up by magnets all over it, a desk with a simple desktop computer in one corner below it, and an absolutely enormous long arm industrial sewing machine sits against one wall. The whole room is a dream. Eijirou itches to go look at the sketches, but Fat ducks out of closet off to the side and nods him towards a chair by the desk.

“Hey kid, let's talk a bit.”

Eijirou hurries to the chair and sits down so hard it rolls a little and he has to scramble to balance himself. Fat chuckles, settling in the other massive chair.

Fat gets settled in his chair and gives him a long look. “What do you want to get out of fashion?”

Eijirou blinks. No one's asked it like that before. Everyone's always asked what it is he can bring to fashion. “Um. It's kind of... It's kind of dramatic, but I want to redefine what it is to be masculine and manly through fashion. I want to feel more comfortable in what it is to be a man.”

“That's a big dream ya got there,” Fat says, nodding in approval. “A good one.”

Eijirou hesitates a moment before steeling himself and asking, “Why did you go into fashion?”

Fat grins at him, and reaches over to pick up a book from the desk. It's small, plain black, and when Eijirou opens it there's a picture of a much younger Fat in an obviously homemade jacket overed in patches at a concert, grinning wide.

“All growing up I was the odd one out, ya know,” Fat says as Eijirou turns the pages. “A weird kid. Too tall, too fat, too loud, too unashamed, too interested in girly shit like fashion and weird shit like punk shows. No one was making clothes for people like me. So I decided ta make them m'self. Got kicked out at 18, got a job in an illegal sweatshop of all places at 19. Learned how to really make clothes from people starving to get out and get a taste of a better life while I hauled things around. I was a big guy by then, big and bulky and strong. I got out when th' place got raided and a police man suggested I do that instead. I was starving, desperate. So I did. Hated it with a passion. But I kept making things, sold designs here and there, and slowly worked up the money ta get a loan, start my own label. I've done a lotta starving in my life, kiddo, but the day I had the money I started buying out sweatshops and makin them into safe places to work and make things.”

Eijirou turns the pages to one where Fat stands slim and powerful in police uniform. His eyes are dead.

“Punk,” Fat says as Eijirou turns the page to a picture of an ugly little building with a bunch of beaming women and Fat in front of it, “is ta be counter-culture. To reject what people overlook. Punk is drawing th' line in the sand and saying, “not today, not on my watch”, and rising up in spite of it. Can't be counter-culture if you're part of the culture. So I'm tryin' ta change stuff from within. Models of every size and shape, clothing made in safe conditions for any goddamn size, so that people who feel left out find a home. That's why I went into fashion.”

The last page is a picture of Fat with a woman nearly as tall and broad as him. They're both wearing the same jacket, her hair in massive spikes and elaborate makeup on. She looks extremely young, maybe 16 or 17, and happy as can be. They're at a concert.

Eijirou's eyes burn with tears. “That's... that's amazing,” he whispers, and scubs at his eyes as tears threaten to fall. “That's super manly, Fat.”

Fat grins at him, big and easy. “We interviewed fifty people for internships,” Fat tells him. “They were good. Fine. But none 'a them had half the spark you do. I saw it in Tamaki, I see it in you too. You got no shame in laughin' at your mistakes and comin' out better. I already know I want'cha ta stay. If that's what you want at the end of this.”

“Are...” Eijirou stares. “Are you offering me a job?”

“Sure am.” Fat leans back in his chair, grinning. “I think ya could do great things here til you're ready to break out into your own label. And I want ya to do a couture line for this Fashion Week nonsense.”

Eijirou's pretty sure his eyes are going to fall out of his head. “What?”

Fat gestures around the room. “Made the same deal with Tamaki. I want you ta make something to push y'rself. Make a debut on a big ol' stage, if you want. Nothing else, I wanna see what you can come up with. Give it a coupla days, think about it. Couture's... somethin' I don't do well. I can do the ready-to-wear evening gowns and shit like that. But couture's not my gig. You, though. I think you got it. I'll get your badge changed so you can come here whenever ya want. Build something new. Make me rethink what it is ta be a man.”

Eijirou looks around the room, at the mannequins and sketches and tables and fabrics. “You... you mean it.”

“Sure do.”

He rockets to his feet, shock and delight rushing through him. “You- You won't regret this, I will make it the best I can!”

Fat laughs, clapping him on the shoulder with one massive hand. “Good. Tomorrow we'll go talk to the lawyers and get a contract drawn up, and then you need to go have at least two different people look it over for ya. Your ma would be a good one. Hirataki Kiyoko's got a good head on her shoulders, and she probably knows a couple 'a lawyers herself. Don't care how excited you are, lesson one is always have your contracts looked over so you don't get fucked.”

Eijirou goes red. “You know my okaa-san?”

“Kid, everyone who's anyone's seen Hirataka's work. An' you got th' same smile.” Fat laughs, and Eijirou grins at him.

His life might be finally starting to come together.

oOo

He texts Mina and gets the address of their lunch spot, and as soon as he can he heads out to meet up with them. It's a nice little restaurant, smelling richly of curry, and he spots Mina's bright pink hair in the corner with some of the other models from the Best Jeanist group the day before. He heads over, slipping onto the bench with her, and Mina squeals as she hugs him.

“Kiri, you made it! Everyone, this is Kirishima Eijirou. Kiri, this is Sero Hanta, Kaminari Denki, and you've met Bakugou before!”

“Why the fuck am I even here,” Bakugou mutters from across the table, staring at his menu as if he's trying to burn holes in it.

Sero, dark haired with an easy grin, elbows him. “Because we're friends, and Mina's paying for lunch.”

“One of those things is true,” Bakugou growls, and Kaminari laughs.

Kirishima's suddenly very aware that he's surrounded by four extremely beautiful humans and feels his face go a little red as he hurries to grab his menu. “Sorry about being late, Fat wanted to go over some stuff with me.”

“I love Fat,” Mina says, knocking their shoulders together. “He's such a sweetie. So how'd you get on with him?! He's so picky about interns! You have a higher chance of getting into the design team with All Might itself than with him. He only takes one a year.”

Eijirou's cheeks heat up. “I.. might have tripped over my own feet walking into the interview and was so stressed I laughed about it for almost a minute straight and was relaxed instead of scared afterwards because I thought I'd botched it for sure. He thought I'd be a good match for Amajiki-senpai and help him relax since I can laugh at myself. And he liked my outerwear designs, because I didn't just design them to look good on models. That's about it.”

“Oh my god, Kiri, you're too cute,” Mina laughs, and Eijirou laughs with her.

They order their food and dig in. Bakugou's eyes are constantly flicking back and forth around the room, but he looks more settled once they get started on their food and he isn't expected to be part of the conversation. He seems most comfortable squished between the window and Sero so that his sight lines are obscured and he isn't being distracted, and his eyes only flick out the window to follow movement and once when a car blares its horn. Eijirou's suspicions seem to have been confirmed.

Eijirou learns that they all belong to the Yuuei Agency, that the sleeping bag guy from earlier is their manager, that Sero and Kamiari are hilarious, and that the food at this restaurant is really good. They trade numbers before they head back to the building, though Bakugou just growls and refuses to offer his, and then they all head back to work. Eijirou falls back to walk next to Bakugou, who eyes him suspicously as the others pull ahead.

“They don't know you're hard of hearing, do they?” Eijirou says quietly, making sure Bakugou can see his lips. Something like fear flashes across Bakugou's face and Eijirou holds up his hands. “You hide it really well, don't worry, I just know what to look for. My mom's the same. I'm not gonna tell them, bro. Not my story to tell and all that.”

“You better fucking not,” Bakugou hisses, a snarl on his face. His eyes search Eijirou's face and are apparently satisfied with what he sees. “No. They don't know.”

“Mkay, cool.” Eijirou shoves his hands in his pockets. His face feels a little hot. It's probably from the curry, and definitely not from being so close to this extremely, horrifyingly attractive man. Definitely the curry.

They all get off on different floors, Mina back at Mount Lady on 7, Bakugou grimacing as he walks into Best Jeanist's offices on floor 22, Sero and Kaminari waving to him as they head in for fittings for Cementoss on 23, and Kirishima continues upwards to 28. The doors open on 24 and a tall young man walks in, his hair a perfect split of red and white and a scar on his face. Eijirou remembers him from the internship orientation and tour. He'd seemed quiet then, almost cold, and he certainly still seems that way.

“Hi,” he says, and the man jerks, turning to look at him. He's really very tall, easily 6'3”, and whipcord lean. His eyes are intense, one blue and one a muddled grey-brown. “Todoroki... Shouto, right?”

“Oh.” And a deep voice, jeez. “...Yes. Kirishima Eijirou?”

“That's me! I haven't seen you around much. Who did you wind up interning with?”

Todoroki blinks. Some of the icy impression fades, leaving curious shyness in its wake. “Oh. All Might. And you?”

“Fatgum!” Eijirou smiles at him, and Todoroki hesitantly smiles back, as though he's not used to doing so. Which. Sad. “You must know Midoriya and Uraraka then, since they're with All Might! Say hi for me!”

Todoroki's cheeks turn faintly pink. “I...I will.”

Eijirou beams at him as the door opens for his floor, and waves. “See you later!”

Todoroki hesitantly waves back, and Eijirou's pretty sure he catches the ghost of a smile before the door closes again. Togata Mirio is in the lobby apparently to flirt with Amajiki-senpai again, going by how red Amajiki-senpai's face is and the way the receptionist is grinning. Togata is way too pretty, even with his unusal eyes, and his smile is big and happy. Eijirou can definitely see why Amajiki-senpai likes him so much.

“...just saying, I can get us in at that restaurant you like so much...” Togata-senpai is wheedling, his smile suggesting he's already won as Eijirou bounds over.

“Fine!” Amajiki-senpai is so red he looks like he might spontaneously combust. “Fine, fine, just go, I'm so busy-”

“Where do you need me?” Eijirou chirps, and Amajiki-senpai latches onto him like a dying man.

“Oh thank god.”

Togata winks at him, swooping in to kiss Amajiki-senpai's cheek before heading to the elevator, and Eijirou grins as Amajiki-senpai buries his face in his hands with a squeak.

The rest of work goes fairly fast. He's got a lot on his mind as he runs paperwork around the office and fetches coffee. His head spins with Fat's offer and information, with the story he told, with the shapes of the models he'd seen this morning and Mina's return and new probably-friends and Bakugou's scowling face and ripped arms in his head, and by the time Eijirou leaves his phone is buzzing near constantly from Mina's incoming texts. It's buzzing almost as much as all the nonsense in his head.

Text from: Mina
Kiiiiiiri
Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiri
hey hey hey
We should go out tonight!
EIKKUN TEXT ME BAAAACK
I WANNA GO OUT

Text to: Mina
?? Where too???

Text from: Mina
Clubbing!!!

Eijirou stops dead on his way out of the lobby, the cold fingers of icy dread sliding up his spine. The echoes of his college career seem to be laughing at him. He can practically feel the haze of smoke and bodies and spilled drinks and really really poor fashion choices, just like he can feel his fingers moving on the screen.

Text to: Mina
Sure!!! Where do you want to meet?

“I'm gonna regret this,” Eijirou mutters, and catches the bus to start his journey home.

Three hours later in pants that are practically painted on and a tank top made of sequins and little else, Eijirou is definitely not regretting this as he does a line of shots with Mina and his new best friends. Kaminari's dancing with some girl in the depths of the crowded floor, and Sero looks like's going to be going home with some cute little twink that's flirting with him hardcore. Tetsutetsu had happened to be there and hit it off great with Mina, and Yaoyorozu Momo appeared out of nowhere in a very short dress and fuck-me heels with some girl wearing headphones and a shy looking Kendou on her arms, and then Midoriya showed up in skintight pants and fucking hot body glitter which has turned into everyone doing a round of shots. The bass is thumping hard in his bones and Eijirou is having an excellent time, thank you.

Mina cheers as they finish the shots, dragging him out on the floor, and Eijirou goes willingly. He's bad at dancing but he likes it. Midoriya gets pulled off to the side by some handsome guy who looks twice his age, and Eijirou's not far enough gone to ignore that, but Midoriya doesn't seem to mind. The pair vanish into the crowd, and Eijirou has to let it go.

“I'm so glad you came!” Mina yells into his ear as they reach the dance floor. “You look great!”

“Thanks!” he yells back, and she laughs as they start dancing properly. By the time they're tired out the balcony's open, and they burst out onto it both giggling.

“God, I needed this,” he says as he leans on the railing. Mina crashes into him, beaming.

“Hey, hey. Eikkun.”

“What?” He ruffles her hair to make her laugh.

Mina grins at him. “I never got to tell you! I'm bi!”

“What!” Eijirou's absolutely delighted and hugs her. “Oh my god we have so much to talk about.”

She hugs him back tightly. “What about you?” she asks as she pulls back. “I never did find out.”

“Pretty gay,” he confirms. “Women are pretty but not for me.”

Mina grins at him, patting his cheek. “I knew there was a reason we're friends. God, I'm so happy we met back up. Y'know, Sero told me there was a guy with spiky teeth and red hair who could handle Bakugou during measurements and I hoped it was you but I didn't know for sure, and I'm-” Her eyes well up. “I'm really happy it's you.”

“Awwww, Mina,” Eijirou says, eyes welling up as well. “Don't cry, I'll cry!”

She laughs even as the tears spill over, and he gathers her back up in a hug. She tugs him back inside after a while for some more dancing. Tetsutetsu finds them with little difficulties given how tall Eijirou's hair is after another round of drinks and dancing, and Eijirou is reaching his favorite stage of being drunk- soft and clingy.

“Hey handsome,” Eijirou purrs, and Tetsutetsu rolls his eyes as Eijirou drags him in against him along the wall.

“You're such a handful when you're drunk,” Tetsutetsu says fondly, and Eijirou practically purrs as Tetsutetsu kisses his forehead. “Sero and Kaminari have already left. I'm making sure everyone gets out the door safely. You better not be planning on getting laid tonight with as drunk as you are right now.”

Eijirou snickers, stepping into Tetsutetsu's arms so he can cuddle up against him. He's warm and comfortable and the press of people has made him relax at last, and Tetsutetsu is big and safe and comforting to be with. Tetsutetsu ruffles his hair, wrapping an arm around him as Mina giggles and takes a picture of them. “M'not getting laid like this, Tets'. M'gonna go home and sleep when I'm done dancing with my high school bestie.” He gasps softly. “I have my high school bestie and my college bestie together, this is awesome.”

Tetsutetsu's shoulders shake with silent laughter as Eijirou shoves his head under his chin and nuzzles.

“You're such a mess,” Tetsutetsu chides, and opens his arm so Mina can come cuddle with him as well.

“You're so warm,” Mina coos, shoving her face against his chest. “An' you smell good.”

“Oooookay, time to get you two home.”

“Awwwww.”

He's a bit more sober when the cab drops him off at home and he fumbles his way through the kitchen to his couch and collapses onto it. Past Eijirou was smart and left him two bottles of water, some bread, and painkillers. He eats the bread, drinks one of the waters, and lets his head hit the prepared pillow.

What would his life have been like in college, with cheerful Mina there all the way through it? Probably even happier. And more drunk.

God, he does not need to get any more drunk.

He does, however, resolve to tell Bakugou he was missed for not coming out clubbing with them. Bakugou would look so good in club clothes, he just knows it. Bakugou could make a garbage bag look like Alexander McQueen, who's he kidding, but mmmm... trashy clubbing clothes for getting hot and bothered in? That's a thing Eijirou wouldn't mind seeing. He wouldn't mind seeing more of Bakugou everywhere, actually. He's met him all of twice, and he wants to again. And again, and again, and again, and...

And he falls asleep.

oOo

When his alarm screams and he rolls off of the couch in surprise, he definitely regrets it.

Chapter Text

Katsuki wakes up, as he always does, feeling decidedly not well rested.

The bedroom is wonderfully silent for once. Even traffic seems to have eased. He rolls over, checking the clock. It's a brutal 5:30 AM, time for his morning run, and he stares at the unblinking red numbers until it changes to 5:35. Slowly, he sits up. His feet hit the cool floor, and he stares blankly at the cool blue-gray walls of his apartment. There is nothing hanging on them except for one painting above his desk, vibrant and ugly red with streaks of umber and black through it, dots of orange peppered through it.

No one looks at him and thinks “minimalist”, but his mansion-style apartment is near spartan. The desk is simple, the closet clean and neat, the bed plain. The rest of the place is close to the same. He gets up. Makes the bed. Pulls on workout clothes mechanically. Slip his glasses on, lets the world come into sharper focus.

Picks up his hearing aids from the desk and slips them on.

Closes his eyes.

Turns them on.

oOo

Katsuki falls in love with fire when he's eight years old and goes camping for the first time. His father lets him light it. It's the first time he's seen real flames, the ones outside of candles or electric fireplaces, and he burns right along with it. He remembers nothing about that trip but the fire, and how it had consumed him. How much he'd loved it. How much he wanted to sink it into his skin and burn up with him. They get back from the trip, and Katsuki steals his father's lighter and starts setting fire to old school work in the backyard just to watch it burn. The smoke makes his eyes ache.

He's never wanted anything more.

He's been modeling for four years when the obsession starts to eat into him. He learns quickly how to hide it from his mom. He steals a bowl from the kitchen, papers from school, newspapers off of porches, flowers and half-burned cigarettes and scraps of wood, and lets the fires consume it. Eight year old Katsuki has no idea what “addiction” means outside of the context of that one teenage kid who had the white powder on that one shoot, but he's definitely addicted. And he gets caught, when he steals three lighters from a convenience store and his mother smacks him so hard across the face he flies across the room. The fire comes to light. His mother takes everything.

He flips his shit.

But the internet is there, and the internet shows him how to make fires without actually having matches or a lighter. Katsuki gets very, very good at it. Steel wool and batteries, magnifying glasses held at the right angle, a bow and a stick- he makes do. And oh, does he ever make do.

They take him to a shrink when he turns 10 and the fire gets out of hand the first time. He doesn't like thinking about that time. He really doesn't like the shrink, because she gives him a name. Slaps a label on him, fights his parents until they listen to her, and then he gets to go to a specialist once a week to get a handle on his “problem”.

Jokes about pyromania aren't that funny when it turns out it's a mental disorder.

Turns out addiction is a lifelong battle.

Turns out that addicts will do anything for a fix.

Turns out that teenagers, kept on a tight leash too long, go mad at the slightest opportunity for freedom.

Turns out pyromania will make him stand much, much too close to an exploding firework.

Funny, how things turn out.

oOo

Katsuki walks into his living room to find Deku seated at his dining room table. He's in last nights clubbing clothes, eating Katsuki's fucking cereal, a bruise starting on his cheek. His eyes are heavy lidded. He looks like shit. His shirt's torn in a couple places and the pants look way too tight for comfort. There's still some glitter around his eyes.

It's too early for this.

Katsuki snaps his fingers, too tired to actually talk to him, and Deku reluctantly looks up. His mouth looks bruised in a bad way, and his loose shirt reveals ugly bite marks on his neck. Some of them have scabs.

"Boyfriend?" Katsuki signs, indicating the bruise, and Deku snorts.

“Not anymore,” he says flatly, signing his words as he speaks. Fucking show off. “I kicked him out three weeks ago. Things just got rough last night.”

"Fucking idiot," Katsuki signs, his movements sharp, and Deku bares his teeth in something that might be construed as a grin. But Katsuki's known him too long for that shit. It's a snarl, pure and simple, all those pretty manners that Deku puts on a front for the sheer, seething rage that sits burrowed under the surface. Katsuki might be the one diagnosed with an obsession for the dangerous, but Deku likes playing with his own kinds of fire.

“Yeah, well, just living up to my name,” Deku mutters. He shoves cereal into his mouth, glaring out the balcony doors at the city beyond. Katsuki rolls his eyes and heads into the kitchen to grab his prepped food, because while Deku might have given up on modeling at the age of 14, he sure fucking didn't, and his abs aren't going to maintain themselves. Katsuki huffs a sigh, ears pricking at the sound of someone in the hall, and he listens as they pass by. He hates wearing the hearing aids. How do people cope with so much constant noise? The refrigerators hum had been enough to drive him insane, he'd had to buy a whole new one.

He snaps his fingers again to get Deku to look at him. "If you're here we're working out, go get something decent on. I want to go a few rounds before work."

Deku flips him off but gets off the stool, stalking to Katsuki's bedroom to raid his closet. Katsuki clears his throat before calling out, “Pick some of the oversized shit, you'll stretch the good stuff out.”

“Fuck you, Kacchan,” is the only reply he gets. Satisfied, he stabs his food and settles in.

Deku comes back out in the ugliest green shorts Katsuki owns, a tank top that's borderline obscene in how tight it is across his broad chest, and one of Katsuki's rattier hoodies thats been cut to be crop top length tied around his hips. There's bite marks on his thighs. He doesn't seem to care. Katsuki makes a face at him.

"You're getting me a new shirt if that doesn't fit after."

“Oh please, like you don't have another hundred to fall back on.” Deku rolls his eyes. “Okaa-san wants you to text her.”

The cold finger of true fear runs down Katsuki's backbone. "No."

“What, you think I won't tell her where your next shoot is and get her in to talk to you face to face?” Deku says, all innocence. His eyes are hard as diamonds. “Try me, bitch.”

Katsuki knows he absolutely will make good on that threat. He weigh his options and decides not to take his life in his hands. "What does Auntie want?"

“To know you're not dead in a ditch somewhere.” Deku steals some of his egg, and Katsuki whacks his hands with his chopsticks. “Ow!”

"I'll text her."

“Cool. You done?”

"Patience is a fucking virtue, worthless."

Deku raises an eyebrow and steals an apple out of the bowl. “Not when it comes to fucking.” He skips out of the way of Katsuki's swing, snickering, and Katsuki hates him more than ever.

They leave the building after doing stretches, Katsuki exchanging his “house” hearing aids for ones he had special made that look just like regular headphones, and begin their weekly run. Once it was daily, then Deku got that weird boyfriend, and now apparently the boyfriend is gone and he's back to doing whatever the fuck he does in back alleys. Again. Fucking stupid fucked up Deku, who won't just go to therapy like the rest of them for his problems. Speaking of, he really needs to get in to see his fucking therapist again. He'll call when he gets back. And if he's dealing with the phone, he might as well call Auntie. She'll be happy if she knows Deku's there and not off doing... whatever the fuck he does at night. Or whoever. Maybe Aizawa would know a good sex therapist? He seems like the type. Katsuki's sick of dealing with the fallout of Deku's stupid, stupid nighttime habits.

The thing with Deku is... weird. It's just weird. It's always been weird, ever since they were little and Deku was a kid chasing after him and every since- well, ever since the time that things turned ugly. Right now, for all their nasty, frustrating history together, Deku's the closest thing he's got to family. Deku and Auntie were the only ones who would have, and could have taken him in after The Last Fight, and did without question when he showed up with a bag and bruises and sullen silence.

Katsuki's aware he was a shitty kid and a shitty teenager, pointlessly cruel and none too bright when it came to caring about people. Deku would have had every right to shut the door in his face.

But he didn't.

So they exist in a strange truce right now. They aren't healthy, the two of them. They aren't. He knows it. They're on some sort of crashing collision course that has them fighting over and over again, scrambling over each other for the upper hand in nothing, and they're due another knock down-drag out fight to hash out their emotions and settle back down. But they're not quite there yet. And pushing it will do nothing.

He watches as Deku runs ahead, the very beginning of sunrise starting to be echoed on his cheek in the colors of his bruise. His freckles are faded from a lack of sun. He looks... tired.

Deku is built like a tank, even at 5'8”. At a comfortable 5'11”, thank you very fucking much, Katsuki is an image of perfection and knows it. He works hard to maintain his looks and physique, has since he was small, but Deku went from a starved little shrimp slowly dying at 14 to alarmingly burly by 16 and hasn't stopped since. And it's all useable. There's not an ounce of Deku's muscles that aren't used for something, and Katsuki hates that he knows it. He's fast too, fast and razor sharp, and if Katsuki's muscles have gone from display to performance since they started sparring for real a few months back, that's his business.

But lately Deku just looks tired.

Katsuki catches up to him, outpacing him as they head into the park near his apartment, and Deku immediately picks up the pace.

By the time they finish their morning 5 kilometer run, they're both wheezing from sprinting back to the apartment.

“What's the score,” Deku gasps, stretching out his calves in the building entryway.

“82 to 83,” Katsuki wheezes, triumphant. “Eat shit and die.”

Deku flips him off again and nearly falls on a potted plant. It's extremely satisfying.

They go to the building gym to spar in one of the little empty side rooms that was probably originally meant for a cycling class or some shit like that, but someone brought mats and it's good enough for them to do some sparring in. They've both trained in a variety of martial arts over the years. Katsuki favors Muay Thai, Krav Maga, and the Northern Shaolin style, while Deku just throws everything from Aikido to Wing Chun at him in rapid succession. He likes kicks and spins, slipping away from Katsuki and keeping his distance to avoid being grabbed, but he's absolutely devastating with his punches. The sparring ends in a draw, and both of them absolutely soaked in sweat.

“Obnoxious little rabbit,” Katsuki gasps as they both lay on the floor, chests heaving. “When the fuck did you pick up more Muay Thai kicks?”

Deku slowly sits up to start stretching out, whimpering as spreads his legs to stretch towards the ground. “I'm taking classes on Tuesdays again with Daiki-sensei over in Ikebukuro. Are you doing more Krav Maga?”

“Just kickboxing. Thursdays.” Katsuki reluctantly sits up, his back aching. “Fuck. I have a shoot later, I better not bruise.”

“What, today?”

“Yeah, that couture shit for Cementoss today and Saturday for Jeanist.”

Deku groans, wincing as he gets up. “I need an ice bath, and a bottle of vodka. And the day off. I should call out.”

They both ignore the fact that Deku has never called out sick a day in his life.

Katsuki climbs to his feet, stretching out his shoulders. “Great. Do it. I don't give a fuck.”

They go back up to his apartment, Deku ducking in to shower first while Katsuki gets his things ready for the day. As the shower starts he takes a deep breath, putting his hearing aids back on and opening his phone to Auntie Inko's contact information. He stares at the number for a minute before muttering, “Fuck it,” and pressing dial.

It rings all of twice before Auntie picks up. She always was an early riser.

Katsuki-kun, oh, there you are! I'm so glad to hear from you.

“Hey, Auntie,” he says, heart twisting at how happy she sounds. She shouldn't sound happy to hear from him. He sits on his bed, trying to ignore how his hands are shaking. “De- Izuku told me you wanted me to call.”

Katsuki-kun, I always want you to call,” she gently chides, and Katsuki bites his lip against the faint feeling of tears at how soft it is. He doesn't deserve- no, no, he does deserve kindness. He bites his lip harder. “You and Izuku, working all the time, I worry so much. Are you eating well? Staying healthy? Double and triple checking your contracts?

“Fuck, of course I am Auntie,” he growls, and he can practically hear her smiling. “I'm not an idiot, I'm being careful. Aizawa's good at that shit, he makes sure we're not getting fucking scammed again.”

Good, good. And... school?

His heart wrenches in his chest. “I...” He checks the door. It's closed, and the shower's still going. Deku can't hear him. “I dunno, Auntie. I can register for my second year next week, though. If I want to.”

There's a pause over the phone, and then Inko says quietly, “Katsuki-kun, take it from someone who's lived a long and difficult life doing work they didn't want to do and hate. Take the plunge and enroll. We both know how cruel the industry can be. It would be good to have something to fall back on. And you know the risks better than anyone. So... think about it.

“I'll think about it,” he promises, eyes falling to look at the ground. “I'll... I'll talk to my adviser this week.”

Good! I'm glad to hear it.

Sometimes he wonders how different his life would have been if he hadn't pushed Izuku away. If he'd grown up with Inko a constant presence in his life, not someone in and out of it.

If he hadn't made her cut ties with what had once been her best friend.

“De- Izuku's here,” he says, too, because she'll want to know. “He's fine. We went for a run.”

The sigh of relief echoing down the line makes him angry. Inko shouldn't have to wonder whether her son is safe or not. “Oh, good. He's been... he's been very quiet since he broke things off with Rin. And you know what he's like when he gets some idea in his head about things having gone wrong. I know... I know it's a lot to ask, but... please try and see if you can get him to accept a little help or go see someone. I understand if you can't, but... He can be so reckless.

Doesn't Katsuki fucking know it. He really fucking hopes that Inko doesn't know about Izuku's nighttime habits.

“No promises, Auntie,” he says, and she huffs a sad little laugh down the line, but she can read between the lines.

Thank you, Katsuki-kun. And thank you for calling me. Have a good day at work, sweetheart.

“Bye, Auntie.”

He hangs up and grinds the heel of his palm against his eyes. He's twenty-three and Inko still makes him feel like a 17 year old kid who needs to be treated with gentle hands every time he talks to her. What's worse is she might be right. Taking a deep breath, he composes himself and calls his therapists office to get an appointment scheduled for the next day. He finishes right as Deku gets out of the shower, so he grabs his things and leaves the bedroom.

When Deku comes out shirtless Katsuki can't help his hiss. Deku looks down and winces as well. There's yet more bite marks on his stomach, but Katsuki got in enough good blows that there's a number of very ugly bruises painted across his torso.

"You look like shit," Katsuki signs. "My kit's in the pantry."

Deku sighs and heads for the cupboards as Katsuki slips into the bathroom.

By the time he's out and dressed for the day, Deku's bruises have vanished with the careful application of foundation and clever matching of his freckles across his skin with makeup from the massive case that usually sits hidden in Bakugou's pantry. He's also helped himself to Katsuki's nice eyeliner, though he's not done wings, just simply lined his eyes to draw attention away from his still swollen mouth. Katsuki knows full well that Deku thinks he's plain, but it's moments when he's dressed up and accenting his looks that he's forced to remember that Deku used to be quite a successful model. His suit is the spare he left months ago and its fit is a bit off, but it's otherwise fine. He looks normal. Not like he showed up at Katsuki's apartment after getting fucked nine ways to Sunday.

"Thoughts?" Deku signs, twitching a little where he stands.

Katsuki snorts. "Literally no one cares, you're fine. Let's go."

They walk down to the bus stop, Katsuki wearing his fake headphones and forcing himself to adjust to the bustle of the city since he'll be working outside most of the day and the sheer volume of everything has to be accounted for. Deku texts as he walks, expression flat. They hit the stop and settle in line with everyone else, and Katsuki looks over at the park across the street. It's a stretch to call it a park, but there's a little fountain and sitting bench, and a single cherry blossom tree in bloom.

Something about the way the wind is waving the blooms tickles something in the back of his mind. A memory, half forgotten. Something... something important, something to do with cherry blossoms. He can't quite grasp it.

“Kacchan?”

He glances over at Deku, who's frowning, and quirks an eyebrow.

“You look upset,” Deku clarifies. “You okay?”

“Fine,” Katsuki says, looking back at the tree. “Just... feels like I forgot something.”

The bus pulls up and the conversation ends. They get to work with time to spare, and Katsuki keeps out his phone and the fake headphone hearing aids with great reluctance as Deku runs off to go for the usual morning coffee run. He gets in the elevator, riding to the 16th floor, and steps out into the offices for Yuuei Management. Officially, Yuuei doesn't belong to All Might's empire of fashion. Officially. But they rent office space and almost exclusively handle the models for the place, so really it's in name only that they aren't owned.

He makes his way to Aizawa's office and flops on the couch inside after kicking the door shut. Aizawa doesn't even look up from his little laptop.

“On time for once. Incredible. I'll have to give offerings at my next shrine visit,” Aizawa deadpans. “You ready for Cementoss?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, and Aizawa nods shortly.

“Good. Get some rest while you can, I'd bet this goes late. Ishiyama's a perfectionist.”

Katsuki bites back a groan, grabs the pillow from off of Aizawa's spare chair, and drags the blanket off of the couch and onto him. It's going to be a long day, he can feel it, and with ease of long practice he falls asleep fast.

oOo

Katsuki hates doing couture shoots with every fiber of his being, but he will admit that this one's better than most. The cloth sculpture wrangled on to his body isn't going to be nearly as uncomfortable as usual, for one, and for another…

“Hi!” Red-hair-weird-teeth says cheerfully as he carries three massive makeup kits to the pavilion tent the artists are setting up in. “I didn't know you were part of this shoot!”

This is three days in a row. What the fuck.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Katsuki asks, utterly baffled. Red-hair-weird-teeth’s biceps bulge as he sets the cases down. Gods, he looks strong. Those muscles look like they have a point to them. How much can he lift?

“Y’know, I'm not really sure?” Red-hair-weird-teeth laughs, scratching his head. “I just got in to work and Fat told me that he wanted me to go see this shoot live and help out so. Here I am!”

‘Here’ specifically is nearly an hour away from the office at a rare segment of sandy, deserted beach with towering rocks. They're going to be fighting the sun all day. Red-hair-weird-teeth looks good in the sunlight, stripped down to what looks like a comfortable kilt/hakama crossover skirt and a “Punk's Not Dead” tank top with godawful rainbow Crocs. Katsuki, currently in a fitted t-shirt and extremely expensive running leggings and shorts, somehow feels overdressed. Red-hair-weird-teeth rolls his broad shoulders and sweet merciful fuck he’s somehow just as ripped there. Katsuki really wants to know how much he can lift.

“I think I'm just supposed to run around and help out with like, holding sun shades and stuff?” Oh shit, he's still talking. Katsuki was admittedly distracted. “Do you know what the theme is?”

Unfortunately. Katsuki makes a face. “Tethered Flight. That makeup artist is waving at you.”

Red-hair-weird-teeth jolts and immediately bolts full force to the guy, who recoils in terror. Katsuki hides his laugh. After the weird morning with Deku, it actually feels good to get to work. The sea spray feels nice, the smell of salt bringing him back to happier and simpler times. The sun feels good as well, warming on his skin, and the sand is soft and beautiful. He feels more settled here, out of the city, less like the world is pressing in on all sides.

Ishiyama, big and bulky, walks up to him and nods at a waiting tent. “Ready?”

There's no point in even bothering to snap at Ishiyama. It's like arguing with a boulder. Katsuki just sighs and stalks to the tent.

Ishiyama likes classic Japanese style with a twist. The twist this time is a weird and complicated 3D printed headdress in inky blue. Beads dangle from horns that swoop around his head, a mask covering his face with intricate spirals and dramatic lines. His makeup is relatively simple under the mask, smudged eyeliner and lips done in chalky white. A collar of gold is latched around his throat, golden shackles with broken chains in varying lengths on his wrists and ankles. He's put in hakama that have elaborate floral embroidery on them and have been carefully sliced to strips, and last…

He's man enough to admit he's excited about the over robe. The collar is tall, the arm holes trimmed in red velvet, and the fabric itself sumptuous sheer black silk. Thousands of red feathers have been stitched to the back, dotted with gold beads and pearls, and it's so long it drags behind him. The front has a mix of red and black feathers, with a chain across the front that drips with gems and thin strings of chain.

There are a few others in headdresses and similar cloaks, but his is definitely the largest and most impressive. He looks in the set up mirror in the tent and preens a little, pleased. He looks like a conquering warlord.

Ishiyama ducks into the tent and nods his approval.

“We are ready to begin,” he says, and Red-hair-weird-teeth follows Ishiyama in and audibly chokes when he sees Katsuki. His red eyes bore into him, and Katsuki smirks, cocking his head. Red-hair-weird-teeth blushes a little and averts his eyes.

Cute.

“Kirishima-kun, if you would carry the train,” Ishiyama says mildly.

Oh, Kirishima. That's his name.

Katsuki is so fucking bad with names.

Kirishima gathers up the edge of the train with care not to disturb the feathers, and Katsuki leads the group of 5 models out of the tent. In the dazzle of the sun the feathers seem to catch fire, the gold and gems glinting and gleaming, fat as butter. There's a collective coo and awe from the photographer and the assistants, and Katsuki sees Ishiyama’s stone-face curl into a smile.

The five of them are situated on a rock first, bare feet gripping it, and Katsuki finds himself watching through the mask as Red-hair-we- as Kirishima runs around helping out with things and the photographer argues with someone about angles. Kirishima gets called over by the photographer and turns bright pink as the photographer gestures at the five of them and asks something.

Kirishima looks like the kind of person that tans instead of burning.

Kirishima hurries over to him, standing by his foot and looking up so Katsuki can see his lips. “They're arguing about lighting, it'll be a few more minutes before you start. Are you all okay?”

There's a chorus of yeses, and Katsuki nods sharply. Kirishima grins up at him, sharp teeth gleaming. Katsuki wonders what it'd be like to touch them.

“Great!”

Kirishima jogs back to the photographer and one of the other models (Pony? She has a weird name, he vaguely remembers) says, “All the interns this year are soooo cute, but I think he's the best.”

“Right?” One of the men sighs with longing. “He's so pretty, even with those freaky teeth and that scar.”

Scar? What scar?

“I saw him at that club on 25th last night,” another girl says conspiratorially. “With Ashido and some of the others, and he was cuddling with that grey haired guy with the great eyelashes from Fourth Kind. But they didn't go home together, and he didn't go home with Ashido sooooo~”

Katsuki lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding.

“He's a man in fashion,” the first girl sniffs. “He's gay, Tsuna, he's not gonna be interested in us.”

He better fucking not be.

Wait.

Katsuki's brain catches up to himself and he scowls. It has nothing to do with him who Red- who Kirishima likes. And it has nothing to do with these assholes either. He can't quite pin down why it bothers him, and he tears his eyes away from Kirishima's broad form to focus as the photographer approaches. Time to get to work.

Like anticipated,the shoot runs clear into the evening with a break for a light lunch and even lighter dinner. They shoot all over the beach, the photographer fiddling with tiny details in each shot. Katsuki never wants to work with him again. Ishiyama maintains his severe facade while Kirishima runs around handing people water and holding sunshades. At one point he holds one for Katsuki, and Katsuki has to work very hard not to stare when Kirishima ditches his shirt and Crocs in the heat and chatters at him constantly. The kilt-hakama-thing looks way too good on him, and sometimes the wind pulls it enough to reveal his absolutely monstrous thighs and what might be the edge of black compression shorts.

Katsuki might have a problem.

He really wants to know this guy's gym routine.

The shoot finally ends and a ragged cheer of relief goes up. Katsuki feels like he's been dragged through the wringer, exhausted from straining his ears and absolutely ravenous with hunger. As soon as he's free of the shackles and most recent feathered cloak, Kirishima gently pulls the mask from his head and hands him a sandwich.

“Oh thank fuck,” Katsuki breathes, and practically devours it. Kirishima hands him a water as well, and Katsuki gulps it down so fast he feels queasy. The sandwich is followed by wonderful greasy takoyaki and Katsuki can't even bring himself to care about how much his nutritionist is going to scream, he's desperately hungry and she can meet him in the fucking pit. He deserves this.

“You looked great out there,” Kirishima says cheerfully, passing him another small sandwich. “I liked the ones in the water, those are going to turn out great.”

“Fuck yeah they will,” Katsuki says around his food. God, what's in this sandwich? It's near pornographic it's so good. Or he might just be starving. Possibly both. “Hope you put on sunblock, running around half naked all day.”

Kirishima beams at him. “Reapplied every two hours, same as you.”

Katsuki grunts, and pauses as his eyes flick to Kirishima's face. Huh. Over his ridiculous thick lashes, there is a scar. It's small and red, barely noticeable, on his right eyelid.

“Man, I haven't been to the beach in ages,” Kirishima's saying. “I'm glad I got to come today, I haven't tagged along to a shoot in ages. The headdresses are super cool too, I like them a lot. How uncomfortable was it?”

“Fine,” Katsuki grumbles, stealing another proffered sandwich and all but swallowing it whole. “Could've been worse.”

Kirishima looks like he's about to say something more, but someone calls to him and he runs off to go help pack a van up.

Ishiyama approaches on his better side, and Katsuki turns to him reluctantly.

“You did well today,” he says, and Katsuki blinks, surprised. “I anticipated more issues but you kept everything together with aplomb. I hope that this is a turning point for your future, but we shall see. How far out are you booked?”

“Dunno,” Katsuki says, “Aizawa handles it.”

Ishiyama nods thoughtfully. “I see.” He turns to look at Kirishima, smiling a little. “What do you think of Kirishima-kun?”

This is... weird. But Ishiyama is always weird, so. “He's fine,” Katsuki says warily. “He’s way too nice. Don't know him very well.”

Ishiyama's lips twitch as if holding in a smile. “I see. Right, well, I will see you tomorrow at work. I believe there's still space in the van that Kirishima is riding back in. Perhaps you should sit with him this time- he seemed very uncomfortable on the way down and seems to like you.”

Ishiyama glides away before Katsuki can do anything more than gape at him.

He does end up in the van with Kirishima and the other assistants, growling out that it was on Ishiyama's orders before squeezing himself into corner and huddling down. Cars are so horribly noisy.

Kirishima sits next to him, grinning his sharp toothed grin, and Katsuki snarls at him as Kirishima laughs. The rest of the assistants look spooked but don't complain as they head out. Kirishima falls asleep ten minutes into the ride, heavy head falling onto Katsuki's shoulder. He spends the entire ride back to the office marveling at just how soft his hair is and just how massive his arms are.

He stares blankly at the back of the seat in front of him as Kirishima relaxes into his side, and wonders how this ridiculous person thinks he's allowed to sleep on him.

And why Katsuki's letting him. This is weird.

About five minutes before they get back, Katsuki jabs him in the stomach and Kirishima snorts as he wakes back up.

“Mprfg,” he says vaguely, and Katsuki can't help huffing out a laugh.

“Welcome back to the land of the living,” he says, and Kirishima yawns wide and rubs his eyes.

“Mnghhh,” Kirishima tells him, and flops back onto his shoulder. Katsuki elbows him off.

They escape the take down and unloading the van by the skin of their teeth, Fat waiting in the garage for Kirishima and a text from Aizawa calling Katsuki up to the 16th floor. Kirishima waves at him as he leaves their elevator, and Katsuki reluctantly waves back. The delighted smile on Kirishima's face makes his stomach feel weird, and he stalks to Aizawa’s office.

Raccoon-eyes is waiting for him by the door, grinning. “Kiri says your shoot was funnn,” she sings.

“It was fine. Move.”

“You don't mind him, right?”

Katsuki stares at her. Mina stares back expectantly. “Who, Ishiyama? He's whatever. Do you have a shoot with him or something?”

Mina rolls her eyes. “Oh my goddddd Bakugou. Kirishima! He's fun, right? He doesn't bother you?”

Kirishima bothers him, but in a weird want-to-see-him-more kind of way. Katsuki sure as fuck isn't going to tell that to Mina though. “He's fine. Can I go now, are you done with this interrogation?”

Mina beams at him. “That's practically a standing ovation from you! Oh man, I'm so happy. See you tomorrow!”

“Whatever.”

Mina waves goodbye and heads out, and Katsuki pushes open Aizawa's door. He's still at his desk, this time writing in a notebook. He glances up at Katsuki as he comes in and some of the tension leaves his shoulders. “How'd it go?”

“Fine,” Katsuki says, sitting on the couch. “Photographer was picky as fuck, makes Mic look laid back.”

Aizawa grimaces. “Lovely. He's booked for one of Midnight's shoots too. We'll see if he's any good.” He nods at the door and returns to his writing.

Katsuki is technically free to go but he hesitates, and Aizawa eyes him.

“Something else you need, Bakugou?”

He sighs, thinking of Inko’s strained smile. Do it for Auntie. “D’you… have any recommendations for a therapist.”

Aizawa stares at him, then blinks. “Is your current therapist not adequate?”

“Not for me. For someone else. Mine’d be pointless for him,” Katsuki snorts. “Don't think they need counseling for fucking pyromania any time soon.”

Aizawa considers for a moment before digging through the drawer of his desk and pulling out a card to hand to him. “Here. Mizushima Masaki. He's good at what he does and his prices are reasonable. He has a standard practice, but most of his clients come for sex therapy and eating disorder recovery. I obviously don't need to tell you not to spread that sort of information around. A good number of people in our industry go to him.”

Katsuki takes the card, grimacing. Well, that's one hurdle down. “...thanks.”

Aizawa eyes him again. “You've been strangely calm the past few days. New meds?”

“Nope.” Katsuki shrugs and stands up. “I'm out."

Aizawa vaguely waves him away and he heads out the door.

He gets to the lobby before his phone buzzes. It's a text from Deku, a picture of Inko exclaiming over a spread of an article on Nighteye Designs from a month ago. There's no caption, not that one's needed.

Text to: Deku
im not coming to dinner

Text from: Deku
(--_--)

Text to: Deku
(凸ಠ益ಠ)凸

Text from: Deku
She's making curry.

Oh, that's just low. Katsuki wars with himself as he walks out the door, hesitating on the steps. On one hand, being in an enclosed space with Deku for the second time that day. On the other, Auntie's incredibly spicy, burn your tongue off curry, which he hasn't had in months. On the other other hand, listening to his nutritionist scream is fun.

Fuck it, he hasn't had a cheat day in a while.

Text to: Deku
I hate you.

Text from: Deku
Behold the field wherein I grow my fucks
And see that it is barren.
凸(◕‿◕✿)

Of the many things that piss Katsuki off, Deku’s sass is right up there. The worst bit is that no one would fucking believe him if he told them about it. Sighing, he goes to catch the bus and head to the Midoriya household.

He uses his key to let himself in, his nose burning from the sheer spice in the air, and Inko hurries to greet him.

“Katsuki-kun! Ah, I'm so glad you came, come have dinner.”

Katsuki lets himself be dragged to the kitchen, sitting at the dining table. Deku's already asleep, crashed out on the couch with a blanket pulled over him and his hair a mess. Inko’s face twists to an expression Katsuki associates with their stupid teenage years when she looks at him before turning around to dish him food.

“What'd he do?” Katsuki asks, muttering a quick thanks. “Or what did I do? Do I need to fight someone for you, Auntie?”

That makes Inko smile. “Neither of you did anything wrong, Katsuki-kun.” She ruffles his hair as she walks past, chuckling as he makes an offended noise. “It just brings back memories, having both of you here.”

That first year together had been a nightmare. Katsuki had been a fucked up little brat struggling to get his shit together and a handle on his mental illness while living his worst nightmare, and Deku stuck living with his childhood bully and a major source of stress while trying to stand up for himself and get through the rest of his last year of high school. How Inko had kept them both from killing each other Katsuki will never know. How she found it in herself to open her door to Katsuki he also won't ever know.

The curry burns like fire in his throat.

It makes him feel whole.

When he's finished she brings him a single match and candle, offering them silently. He lights the match with a flick of his thumb, and gently lowers the little flickering flame to the wick. It lights, and he takes a steadying breath before carefully blowing out the match. The little flame dances in it's glass holder, tamed and safe. His eyes stay fixed on it, the itch that exists constantly in the back of his head easing. Inko watches the candle as well, it's little light spilling over the table.

“Hisashi liked fire too,” she tells him, out of nowhere. “It didn’t consume him like it consumes you, but he liked to play with it.”

“Who’s Hisashi?” Katsuki asks blankly.

“Izuku’s father. Well, his biological father.” Inko sighs. “I was all of 19 when I had Izuku. I don’t regret him, not at all, but oh. Oh I regret all the things that led me to Hisashi.”

Katsuki rests his elbow on the table, chin in hand. “Everything I’ve ever heard about the guy makes it sound like he’s a royal fucking piece of shit.”

“Mm, that’s because he was. Or is, I suppose. He’s still alive.”

For now seems to echo ominously in the air, and Katsuki grins. Inko smiles as well, stress lines easing a little.

“Thank you for coming,” she says again, a little quieter this time. “It’s very dull here without you two causing a racket and demolishing half the house. And I worry about you, I always do. You two will never be the best of friends, but it’s… it’s good, that you’ve found some balance.”

“You say that now Auntie, but we’re coming up on our twice yearly fight and you know it,” Katsuki says dryly. She reaches over and ruffles his hair again, and he doesn’t bother trying to bat her away.

“I know. And just like always, you’ll come out better once you’ve hashed things out. Neither of you can communicate with the other to save your lives, I swear.”

Katsuki shrugs. They are who they are, and they’ve all come to accept that. He stands up, taking the dishes from the sink and turning it on. Inko joins him, and together they wash them in companionable silence. Inko is so small next to him, though she’s the toughest person he knows, and he feels some of the stress of the day slip away in the familiar motions of washing and drying the dishes. For all the struggles and troubles and nightmares that the world has brought crashing down on his head, the Midoriya household is the eye of a hurricane, seemingly untouched by the outside world.

“So, tell me about this shoot today,” Inko says as they put the dishes away. “Who was it for?”

“Cementoss,” Katsuki says, reaching up to the highest shelves. “You wouldn’t believe how fucking picky this photographer was Auntie, he was so picky. We were out on this beach in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere, and he kept having us rearrange our goddamn toes, like, who does that? The clothes weren’t too bad but there were feathers all over these kick-ass capes and Kirishima had to hold up the train on mine whenever we walked around.”

Inko pauses, turning to look at him. Katsuki raises an eyebrow.

“What?”

“Nothing,” she says carefully. “Who had to hold it up?”

“Oh. Kirishima. He’s this new intern for Fatgum, and he’s got stupid hair and really sharp teeth.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, I keep running into him like, everywhere. Apparently he’s some friend of Raccoon-eyes, you remember her, they went to school together-”

He gets launched into talking despite himself, and completely misses the smile spreading on Inko’s face.

Chapter Text

Eijirou thinks that Amajiki Tamaki might be the actual coolest person he's ever met.

For one thing, he's pretty. Like, really pretty. He has fine bones and elegant hands and dark eyes with long lashes and he's slender too. He dresses well, all in pretty black that fits him well. He has ears that actually look like elf ears, a little pointy at the tips with tiny silver rings in them that shimmer in the light. He's graceful and really strong, and shy but kind. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time to help Eijirou with whatever it is he needs, showing him faster ways and little tricks to make the paperwork easier. At first look, he seems like he might crack like fragile porcelain if someone so much as brushes up against him.

But Amajiki Tamaki is so far away from fragile it's mind blowing.

He'd been upfront about his severe anxiety when he met Eijirou the first time, told him about the worst of the triggers and how he handled it anyway. Amajiki-senpai fights a war with his own mind and body every single day just to get out of bed and go to work and that might be the manliest thing Eijirou's ever heard. Amajiki-senpai has iron willpower just to do his job and live his life, and if Eijirou ever has even a fraction of that in his life, he'll consider it a win.

Eijirou idolizes his senpai, and would happily walk through fire for him.

Or, as the case may be, through a crowded Starbucks in downtown Tokyo in rush hour for a positively lethal amount of espresso. It's basically the same thing.

The day is starting to heat up, spring in the city starting up with a vengeance, and as Eijirou bounces on the balls of his feet in a line that stretches out the door, he wonders if he can talk Mina into going to look at them in a park somewhere. Hanami is fun.

From behind him he hears a familiar voice, and grins.

“...but if we adjust the fitting times for Iida-kun it shouldn't be a problem but then Hatsume-san wants me to see what I can do with that new chiffon and then Yaoyorozu-san wants to have lunch so-”

Eijirou turns around, and looks down at a ridiculous amount of green hair. Midoriya is buried in his thoughts, the familiar fake Bluetooth in his ear. He keeps going, stressed words and ideas mumbled out, and Eijirou grins.

“Hi!”

Midoriya nearly jumps out of his skin, head jerking up so fast Eijirou's a little worried about whiplash. “KIRISHIMA-KUN! Ah, good morning!”

“I don't usually see you doing the running of the caffeine,” Eijirou says, and Midoriya looks deeply embarrassed.

“I uh… it's a long story. But I got the short straw today,” he laughs. It doesn't quite seem that it reaches his eyes. He's wearing makeup too, smoothing out his complexion while his freckles have been carefully mimicked. His eyes have very pretty eyeliner on as well, with the tiniest hint of wings in the corners. As he shifts, his shirt pulls and Eijirou catches a glimpse of an ugly looking bruise.

Old memories shift and pull within him, and he takes a closer look at the shape of Midoriya's face instead of what his face looks like. There's a bit of swelling- a bruise.

“So, you seeing anyone?” Eijirou blurts out, and Midoriya jerks, going bright red even with the foundation.

“What?! No, I'm not, I don't- I'm not looking I mean I just got out of a long relationship and I don't know that now's the time to try wh-when I'm so new out of it since it's only been a couple weeks after all and-and-and I'm really flattered you'd ask because you're really really good looking but you probably know that aahhhhh please forget I said that, but um that's really fast and-” Midoriya seems in danger of passing out if he doesn't take a breath soon and Eijirou grins.

“Relax!” He claps Midoriya on the not bruised shoulder. “I was just wondering since you're all made up today! I figured you might have a date or something. You look fancy, I like your eyeliner.”

Midoriya somehow goes even more red, squeaks, and buries his face in his hands, peeking out at him shyly through his fingers at him. He looks absolutely delighted. “Th-thank you! I like your clothes today, they're really nice! The blue is really pretty!”

So not an abusive boyfriend. Probably. Eijirou really hopes.

“Hey, you don't have my number do you?”

They exchange numbers, collect their ridiculous amounts of coffee, and perform the Running of the Caffeine. This time they catch the elevator with Jirou Kyouka, intern from Public Relations, Ojirou Mashirao who's interning with Cementoss, and the lead designer for Midnight herself, Kayama Nemuri, who's got what must be an entire pot's worth of coffee in a travel mug the size of Eijirou's head.

“Morning, Kayama-sensei!” Eijirou says cheerfully, and she gives him a sleepy smile before reaching over to ruffle his hair. Even when she's dressed in fetish gear she seems like such an aunt. If he hadn’t gotten into Fatgum, he would have been happy to work for her.

“Look at you, so wide awake this early,” she says, her voice throaty with the early morning. “You and Midoriya-kun are always far too awake.”

“I was up at 5:00,” Midoriya says, staring into the distance as if he can see the oncoming apocalypse. “You haven't suffered until you've had to sprint five kilometers at 5:30 in the morning.”

Kayama laughs, giving them all a finger wave as she gets off on floor 12. Everyone scatters to their floors, Midoriya heading clear up to the 35th to the CEO's offices, and Eijirou gets off on Fatgum's floor whistling cheerfully. The receptionist, Setsuna Tokage, just about inhales her coffee the second he hands it over and then goes bounding into the studio. Everyone's already in motion, dress forms all over the floor and different people contemplating the best forms as fabric is draped and pinned here and there. Amajiki himself is at the desk and staring a hole into the computer as he sketches with his tablet, glasses shoved on his nose.

“Senpai,” Eijirou calls, and Amajiki’s eyes light up as he practically launches himself across the studio for his coffee. Eijirou hands it over, and then hands him a cake pop on a stick that he grabbed as well. Amajiki immediately eats it in one go, tension sliding off his shoulders.

“I thought you'd like it,” Eijirou laughs before going to distribute all the rest of the coffees. He come bounding back once that's done.

“I'm suspicious,” one of the seamstresses next to Amajiki says, looking him over. “There's got to be something I'm not seeing with this outfit.”

His suit is baby blue today and he looks fantastic. His tie is even a fancy, pretty floral and his shoes elegant brogues. He looks fucking great.

Amajiki just sighs, clutching his coffee like it's a gift from the gods. “I'm terrified to see what you come up with next.” Amajiki takes a deep breath.

“So,” he says carefully, “did you like being out on the shoot yesterday?”

“Yeah, it was fun!” Eijirou grabs a falling pincushion and hands it back to a harried looking seamstress. “I haven't gone to one in a while, not a real one at least. We did some in my program to try out different jobs but it’s nothing like a real one. Okaa-san used to take me to them to keep me out of trouble so I've been around them a lot. Ishiyama's stuff was really cool.”

Amajiki nods, thin tongue flicking out to lick his lips. There's a flash of metal in his mouth- a tongue piercing! Eijirou hadn't noticed it before. Amajiki-senpai is so cool.

“I ask because, um.” Amajiki fiddles with his coffee cup. “Best Jeanist wants help on their Saturday shoot, and it'd be paid time if you want to go and they did request you so if-if you want you can go but you don't have to! You might have plans or something and you don't have to go if you don't want to but I thought you might want to so I said I'd ask and um. It might be fun? Best Jeanist is always in-interesting…”

“Sure!” Eijirou beams at him and Amajiki slumps in relief so hard he falls into a rolling chair.

“Oh good,” Amajiki says weakly. “Hakamata-sensei scares me. I didn't want to tell him no.”

“No worries!” Eijirou wheels him through the smiling throngs of seamstresses back to the computer. “Do good work, senpai! I've gotta go to like eight meetings today and take notes so have fun for me okay?”

Amajiki just whimpers and lets his forehead hit the desk.

oOo

Eijirou goes down to the studio floor during his lunch with a sandwich grabbed from the food in the offices, flashing his badge and once again being escorted to Fat's studio. The sketches have been cleared from the whiteboard, leaving it clear for him to work on, and he frowns as he looks around the largely empty room. His footsteps echo on the laminate flooring. He sits down in one of the huge chairs, kicking his legs, and does what he always does when he feels uncertain.

He calls his mom.

After two rings there's a click. “Hello, Eikkun.”

“Hi, Okaa-san,” he says with a smile. “I'm having a crisis of confidence.”

Okaa-san’s laugh is soft and sweet, like tinkling bells. It's beautiful, and his heart does complicated happy dance steps every time he hears it. “I wondered when you might call me. I got the contract by the way, I'm sending it to Nori-san to look at later. What's your crisis, sweetheart?

“I don't know what to do,” he admits, looking around the room. “I've been given such a great chance and I don't want to blow it, you know? I want to make something amazing because I don't know if I'll ever get a shot like this again, but I don't know where to even start trying to make things. I want to match the style of the brand, and I want to make it beautiful, but I also want it to have my own touch in there, and I don't even feel like I have a consistent style.”

His mother hums softly, and in the background he can hear the tinkle of windchimes. She must be sitting out in the backyard, enjoying the good weather. He is suddenly desperately homesick for Chiba and its warm weather and familiar places. He wants to go hiking and visit the shrines he loved in childhood, go to the beach in Kamogawa and eat in the city. He misses his family home, with its little yard and its halls full of laughter, and rubs at his eyes. If Okaa-san hears him sniffling she'll just worry.

Do you remember the first time I took you to fashion week?

Eijirou smiles in spite of himself. “Yeah. That was the day that you and Akaa-san got together for real. Best day of my life.” He smiles as he hears his mother chuckle. His pet name for Akane, a play on her name and Okaa-san, always makes her smile.

We were in this little cafe, and you asked me why people came to see other people wearing clothes. Do you remember what I told you after?

“Not very well,” he admits.

I told you it was so that people could see what others wanted to say without having to say anything at all. Fashion is a silent declaration, little man. You just need to find what you want to say. The rest will come to you in time. You've always had good taste in design.

“Thanks, Okaa-san,” he says softly, his heart easing. “I love you.”

I love you too, dear heart. Call me when you have some more time to talk, Akane would be very happy to hear from you.

“I will, Okaa-san!”

They say their goodbyes and he unwraps his sandwich, eating it slowly as he thinks about his mother's words. A conversation, huh?

His phone buzzes with a message and he pulls it out.

Text from: Amajiki Tamaki-senpai!!!
pls tell me you’re here still

Text to: Amajiki Tamaki-senpai!!!
Yeah! I'm on floor ten! Is something wrong?

Text from: Amajiki Tamaki-senpai!!!
no just couldnt find you and wanted to make sure you were ok

Text to: Amajiki Tamaki-senpai!!!
SENPAI THATS REALLY SWEET

Text from: Amajiki Tamaki-senpai!!!
>.>

Text to: Amajiki Tamaki-senpai!!!
:DDD

Eijirou clutches his chest, his heart swelling with fondness. Amajiki-senpai is the cutest.

He's still looking at the message when the door unlocks and Fat ducks inside, grinning when he says him.

“Thought I'd find ya here.”

Eijirou smiles sheepishly, spinning in the chair to look at the whiteboard. “Just thinking about what I'm going to do. I needed some alone time.”

Fat leans on one of the tables, blond hair awry. “Got any ideas for themes?”

“Kind of...” He rests his chin in his hand. “I'm not sure. I've been thinking about what you told me about what punk is. And I want to bring that into whatever it is I make. So, punk and manly but not traditionally manly, and really bold. I want to make something bold. Lots of reds and golds and... something. I don't know yet. Maybe geometric shapes. I've been trying to do some sketches to get my ideas out but it's just not really working yet.”

Fat chuckles. “The joy of design.”

“Yeah.”

“I'm sure you've heard this a million times by now, but you're tellin' a story with fashion. So find a story ya want ta tell, an' make it yours.” Fat ruffles his hair, smiling. His hands are absolutely massive. “Start a conversation, then we'll talk.”

“Thanks, Fat. My mom said the same thing, so I know you must be right,” Eijirou grins up at him, and Fat thumps him on the back with a chuckle before heading to the back room in the studio to fetch something.

Eijirou's never been all that involved in the punk scene until now. And the people in Fatgum's offices wear everything under the sun, from classic English-style red plaid pants to complicated jackets to slouchy t-shirts and ripped up jeans, arms decorated with tattoos and leather bracelets, piercings all over the body, and always, always chokers. All of them seem to believe in the power of what punk can be, how it can transform. Punk is saying, “Not today, not on my watch,” and rising up in spite of it. A fight, a glorious fight to determine a life lead outside of the norms, a refusal to conform. It's a new world, a beautiful and awe inspiring one, full of activism and a thriving lust for life despite all the world throws at them. And it can't be commodified, in its most intricate forms. Fatgum's clothing is meant to be ripped apart and remade into something better, something individual, something that uniquely identifies another person. It's meant to show the world that there's no one way to live. To thrive is to spit in the face of those who would see you crushed underfoot.

Eijirou stands up, walking to the whiteboard. He takes the red marker, uncaps it.

When Fat leaves the back closet to find the room empty, he smiles to himself. The whiteboard has a new addition, one word in bold statement.

UNBREAKABLE.

“Yeah,” he says, smiling at the red word on the whiteboard, bold and unapologetic. “That's a good start.”

oOo

Really, all things considered, Katsuki's not having a bad day. He's really not. It's the day before the Best Jeanist shoot, which means he's been in the studio most of the day switching in and out of clothing to make sure everything fits well, but for the most part people haven't been trying to talk to him, which is good. He woke up feeling strangely rested after his day off, had a morning run with Deku, did some very light sparring, and then came to work. It's been a good day, and he's been released from the studio so long as he remains on Best Jeanist's two floors in case of emergency.

Which is why he's sprawled out on Hakamata's couch, flipping through a copy of Rolling Stone and wondering if he could leave early and if anyone would notice.

The answer is probably no he can't, and yes they would. He's pretty sure Hakamata said something about it, but, to be fair, he wasn't able to listen that close. He flips a page, raising an eyebrow at the picture of Jirou Mika at a red carpet event in a damn good looking red dress from Ryukyu.

The office door opens smoothly, Hakamata Tsunagu himself striding inside and flicking it closed with a graceful hand before heading to his desk.

“Don't you have other things to be doing?” Hakamata asks as he passes Katsuki, pushing his booted feet off of the arm of the couch. Katsuki sits up with a grumble as Hakamata drops into his chair and wakes up his computer.

“Got bored,” Katsuki says.

“Hmm. There's a copy of that drivel they're putting in the new Japanese Vogue,” Hakamata says, nodding at a file on his desk. “See what nonsense I need to have them cut out before it goes to print. You're good at that.” His long fingers fly across the keyboard, eyebrows furrowing as he glares the screen into submission. “They sent a very annoying journalist to do it, I honestly don't know what I was thinking...”

Katsuki snorts, snagging the file off of the desk. “You're vain, that's what.”

“I hardly want to hear that from you, Bakugou-kun.”

Katuski grins, kicking his feet up on the coffee table, and settles in to read as Hakamata works.

After The Last Fight, when everything went wrong and his whole life had fallen apart, Katsuki hadn't anticipated this part of his life to improve. Hakamata had used him as a model several times, but after a shoot ran late and Katsuki had a bit of melt down, he figured out everything and had, despite Katsuki's best efforts, taken him under his wing. Aside from Aizawa and Inko, Hakamata's the closest thing to family he's got these days. Like an uncle, or a much older cousin. A much older, wealthy, constantly meddling and needling cousin with immaculate hair. He's kind of great, now that they know how to talk to each other. For all that he loathes the process of fittings and measurements because the Best Jeanist studios are always so incredibly loud, Katsuki likes the lead designer. Even if he's never going to forgive him for the sheer amount of fucking nonsense that'll be tomorrow's shoot.

Katsuki reads through the article, making faces at the more purple parts of it. “They're like... stupid hung up on your scarf,” he says idly. “Fuckin' dumbasses. Shoulda said it's a religious thing.”

“Mmm, but then they would've asked what religion, and that's not a conversation I'm much interested in.” Hakamata reaches up, twitching the fabric a little tighter to his face. It's a constant thing, the scarf, something the press likes to treat as just another eccentricity of a designer. There aren't many people who know that it covers severe scarring from a childhood accident, several very impressive piercings, and a massive tattoo designed to look like a complex lace mandala that wraps around his long neck.

Hakamata might dress like a prep school reject half the time, but he's kind of a badass. Katsuki can respect that. Sort of.

Mostly.

Sometimes.

To be honest it depends on the day.

“Want me to yell at 'em for you?” Katsuki drawls, and he can see Hakamata's eyes crinkle into a smile over the scarf.

“Not yet. Maybe if they're difficult.”

“Your loss. Oh hey, they put your age in here. You want everyone to know just how old you are, old man?”

“35 is not old, you tiny child.”

Katsuki snickers, skimming along through the article. It's not too bad, but he grabs a red pen to circle a couple things that could be worded better or needed to be removed before tossing it up onto the desk again. Hakamata catches it and sets it in the outbox as Katsuki stretches out on the couch.

“Not too bad,” he admits.

“Good. So long as we don't have another ridiculous debacle like that mess with Soen.”

“Fuck, I forgot about that,” Katsuki says, grinning. “Shit was hilarious.”

“For you, certainly.” Hakamata drums his fingers on the desk, turning to look at him properly. “You've been rather quiet this week and I rarely want to pry, but I think I must. Is something going on?”

Katsuki taps his fingers on his leg, a quick staccato. There's certain things they don't talk about, when it comes to his past. Hakamata's been the one to see most of his major meltdowns, has driven him to his own therapist a couple times during some rough periods. And Hakamata knows how to keep his mouth shut.

“D'you think...” he hesitates, but Hakamata doesn't push, just waits. Finally, Katsuki bites out, “Auntie wants me to talk to Deku about going to therapy.”

“Ah.”

Hakamata's worked with them both. He's aware of their... whatever the fuck it is. Issues.

“And Midoriya-kun doesn't want to go, I take it?” Hakamata says, pulling a blank sheet of paper from the ream on his desk and beginning to doodle.

“I don't know what the fuck Deku wants, and I don't really care, but Auntie asked me to so I will.” Katsuki scowls at the papers in his lap. “Don't really know how I'm supposed to say, hey, sorry for fucking up bad when we were kids and ruining your mental health because I didn't have any healthy coping mechanisms and took it out on you, maybe go see someone about that. I'm not fucking stupid, I know I fucked him up. I know what I did was wrong now. I was a mean little bully and a messed up little shit and I don't- I don't know if things can ever even be fixed. You know?”

Hakamata nods, his pencil swooping in smooth curves over the page. “I see. That is a conundrum.”

“Yeah.” Katsuki picks at the edge of his shirt. “When I started going to a therapist again Auntie suggested it to him but he shut her down and said he didn't need to go.”

Hakamata hums, plucking some colored pencils out of the pencil holder. “I've often found that the people who say they don't need help are the ones who need it the most.”

“Hey, I got help eventually!”

“Yes, you did, and I'm very happy about it,” Hakamata says with a smile, glancing up at him. “But you can't force someone to be better. You and I both know that.”

“Yeah.” Katsuki huffs out a sigh. “Think I should offer to pay for it?”

“That would be both an insult to his pride and his pocketbook,” Hakamata says, tracing the edge of what looks to be a dress in deep navy. Katsuki's willing to bet the dress would be made out of denim. Hakamata has a bit of a one track mind on his design schemes. “After he's gone for a few sessions, then you may offer. Until then, leave it well enough alone. Some things people have to choose for themselves, and this is certainly one of them.”

A knock on the door interrupts them, and the door is pushed open to reveal one of the jean wearing identical blondes. “My deepest apologies for the interruption Hakamata-sensei, I wished only to tell Bakugou-san that he's free to leave for the evening, we've finalized everything.”

“Fucking sweet,” Katsuki says, sighing with relief. “Go away.”

Hakamata nods politely. “Thank you, Shiro-kun.”

The blond bows out of the room, and Katsuki gets to his feet with a sigh of relief.

“Get some sleep,” Hakamata says, putting the pencils away and eyeing the sketch. “Tomorrow will certainly be long, as it always is.”

“Yeah, yeah...”

“And Bakugou-kun?”

Katsuki pauses with his hand on the door, looking back at Hakamata. Hakamata leans back in his chair. “What?”

Hakamata smiles. “I'm glad you're making progress.”

Katsuki's heart squeezes uncomfortably in his chest. “Yeah, whatever. See you tomorrow.”

He shuts the door behind him, the hinges designed not to let it slam despite his best attempt, and stalks to the elevator. He jabs the down button, pulling out his stealth hearing aids and slipping them in. He winces as the world comes into fuller sound, overwhelmed for a moment before his brain settles down and starts sorting out the sounds. The elevator dings and the doors open, and he steps in while looking at his phone. The lobby button is already lit and he leans against the back wall.

“Oh hi!”

Katsuki turns, and there he is again.

“What,” he says blankly as a sharp toothed grin flashes at him. “The fuck. Are you wearing?”

Kirishima grins at him, broad and proud. “Don't you like it?”

“I really fucking don't. I- what even is it?”

Kirishima's smile turns positively fiendish. “It's a jumpsuit!”

“You look like you broke out of fashion prison,” Katsuki says flatly, taking in the cheerful soft orange jumpsuit. The legs are wide and the top is off the shoulder, the fabric soft and floaty. Kirishima has a pair of spiked hoop earrings in dramatic fake gold with even more fake diamonds. He's also wearing bright red pointed toe heels with soft chiffon ties to hold them on, which have been tied to bows in the back. The heels are the sharpest stiletto he's ever seen a man wear. “How the fuck do you pee in that?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“I absolutely do not.”

Kirishima throws back his head in laughter, and Katsuki marvels at the line of his throat. The man is built. There's no reason for him to look this good in something this soft and effeminate and pretty. Katsuki kind of wishes he could burn the thing off of him. But it does, horribly enough, actually look kind of good.

“I like it,” Kirishima tells him, grinning. “It's fun! Fat actually complimented me on it, I finally got a reaction out of him! Amajiki-senpai was less impressed.”

“Fucking hell,” Katsuki mutters, and Kirishima laughs again.

The door dings for the 10th floor, and Kirishima waves as he gets off, flashing his badge at the guard. “See you later!”

“I better fucking not! Come back when you've got better fashion sense!”

The doors close as the guard bursts out laughing, and Katsuki stews all the way around down to the lobby.

oOo

“This is not better.”

Kirishima Eijirou, professional menace, dressed in black short-shorts with embroidered roses, knee high combat boots, and a shirt cut to fall off one shoulder with “Maybe Tomorrow Satan” written on it, winks at him. It is seven in the goddamn morning. Katsuki is not equipped to handle seeing that much toned, tan thigh and biceps the size of small watermelons on display this early in the morning. He stares on in horror as Kirishima casually stretches, shirt riding up. He has clearly defined abs and the sleekest V that Katsuki's seen outside of swimwear modeling.

Huh. Apparently his natural hair color is black.

Fuck, Katsuki really has to get his gym routine.

“I dunno,” Kirishima says, and his grin is smug. “I think it's pretty great.”

He turns and walks away, and Katsuki mouths what the fuck at the swell of his ass.

From across the room as the shoot sets up, Hakamata takes a flask from his pocket and pours a fortifying shot into his coffee before passing it directly to his assistant, who chugs straight from the flask.

It's going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

From the time she's little, it's all people say.

“Oh, Mina-chan's so pretty! So cute! What good skin! So beautiful! So mature looking! So-”

So this or that or the other. She's used to it. She's never just something, they always have to rave about it. And in a way, it's not a bad thing, but it does leave her unsettled. Ashido Mina's looks are great, sure, but her grades are questionable and people seem to brush her off when she asks for help, telling her she's fine and not to worry. So she tries not to worry, even as her grades fall, and does the best she can even when no one will take her seriously.

At least, right up until she meets the Kirishima family.

Eijirou is a fun guy. He's cheerful and charming and wears fun clothes to make people laugh, and talks about manliness and jokes with her about the future and has a buuuunch of fun game systems. She goes to his house a lot in high school while her parents finalize their divorce, and gets to meet Kiyoko-san and Akane-san, who insist on her using their given names since Akane-san is part Swedish and hasn't ever liked only going by a last name. Kiyoko-san is willowy and beautiful, with straight black hair that falls in a gleaming curtain down her back. Akane-san is big and bulky, with thick blonde hair she keeps up in a ponytail and a laugh that shakes the house. There's two younger kids too, a twin boy and girl, and they're adorable. But best of all, they push her. They teach her. They open their home to her and make sure she get assignments done and turned in.

Life happens. They grow up. She graduates, though it's a close thing. He works hard, gets into a great school for design, moves away.

She doesn't.

Which isn't to say she doesn't try. She does. She tries for several schools.

She gets into none.

And it crushes her, just a little bit.

But she gets a good job at a nice boutique and makes decent money selling expensive clothes, and figures she'll take a year off and then go to school. She'll study, and work hard and-

And then someone leaves a pair of extremely expensive headphones in the dressing room.

Everyone knows about Present Mic. He's practically a national treasure, even if he is strangely reclusive about his personal life. He has a popular radio show, models, teaches English and Japanese in his spare time, and supposedly also does PR for All Might Fashion. No one's actually sure when he sleeps. He's amazing, and his signature look is not complete without his headphones. They're custom made, and across the top in a rather boring font is the word “HAGE”- bald. Ironic, for someone with such a luscious head of hair.

Mina holds the headphones in her hands, and stares at them. It's fifteen minutes to closing, and she's the only one left in the store. She also has priceless headphones in her hands, and she desperately needs money. But Ashido Mina was raised better than theft, no matter how skinny her wallet is at the moment, and she sighs as she pulls out her phone.

It takes a little bit of time on her phone to find his contact information for bookings, and she calls the number with shaking hands.

This is Aizawa Shouta,” a deadpan voice says, and she almost drops her phone.

“Uh, hi! I'm- I'm Ashido Mina, and is this the number to reach for Present Mic? I found his headphones and I don't know how to get them back to him-”

The voice cuts her off, suddenly sounding much more lively. “You found them? Where were they?

“La Chien, in Chiba City! I work here, they were left in the dressing room.” Mina sits down hard. “I found them when I was closing, they were hung up on a hook under some clothes.”

Thank you for your honesty,” Aizawa says, and sounds sincere. “They are incredibly important to him. He's still in Chiba, I'll pass him the information so you can meet up.

And that's how three minutes later one of Japan's most popular radio hosts is bursting through the still unlocked door.

“Hi!”

Mina beams, holding out his headphones, and Present Mic scoops them up with a cry of triumphant relief. “OH, MY BABIES! Thank you so much, I had my regular hearing aids in so I didn't notice I didn't have them on me until I went to pull them on,” he gushes, looping them around his neck. Instead of his usual punk look he's in a soft tan cashmere sweater pushed up to the elbows and well fitted jeans, beautiful blond hair pulled up in a bun at the base of his neck. He's effortlessly beautiful, and Mina's a little dazzled.

“I didn't know you wore hearing aids,” Mina says, like an idiot, but Present Mic grins at her and turns his head so she can see them. They're tiny, barely visible, and perfectly matched to his skin tone.

“Most people don't, little listener! The headphones are another set! They help filter out excess noise so I don't get overwhelmed.” He pauses, stopping to look at her properly. “What agency are you with?”

“What?” Mina looks around. “I think the boutique is privately owned.”

Present Mic waves a hand, dismissive. “Not the boutique, you.”

“I don't know what you mean?”

Present Mic genuinely looks surprised. “You mean you're not a model? Seriously? You have the looks and height for it, you should consider it.”

Mina gapes. Mic hands her a business card. Three days later she finds herself in her best clothes, walking stiffly into All Might's building, riding an elevator up, and meeting Aizawa Shouta himself- Present Mic's husband, and one of the managers of Yuuei Modeling.

She leaves employed.

oOo

Her phone buzzes at 9:45 AM, and for a brief moment Mina considers whether or not it would be possible to kill someone through text message. She drags her phone to her face once she extracts her arm from the mountain of blankets she's under, squinting at the screen. Behind her, a warm body shifts and an arm wraps around her waist.

“It's too early for this,” Tetsutetsu mutters, pressing his face against her neck. They've known each other for all of four days but Mina is already certain they're on a path to a lifelong friendship, if only because he's the only one who keeps up with her when taking shots and they can trade stories about Kirishima. He's an excellent club friend and perfect for cuddling, sturdy and soft in all the right places. “Put it away.”

The phone buzzes again.

“If I don't get it now he won't shut up,” Mina sighs, patting his arm. “Painkillers are in the bathroom if you need them.”

“Nah, I got a hard head.”

Text from: LIGHTNING GREASE
Dude.
D u d e.
Mina wake up you are not gonna believe this shit.
Mina
M I N A
M
I
N
A

Text to: LIGHTNING GREASE
oh my god kami knock it off
it's too early for this
what is it

Text from: LIGHTNING GREASE
[download image]

'This shit' is apparently Kirishima “Manliest Man To Ever Man” Eijirou in what are practically booty shorts with roses on them and combat boots leaning over at the hips to pick something up and Bakugou “All I Am Is Rage and Spite” Katsuki staring at his ass like he wants to bite it. Kirishima, it seems, is at the Best Jeanist shoot. Mina's jaw drops.

“What is it?” Tetsutetsu asks sleepily, and she shoves the phone in his face. “Oh, damn, Kiri's ass looks amazing in those shorts.”

“I know, right? But look at Bakugou!”

“Is that the blond he's been talking about?” Tetsutetsu wakes up a little more, taking the phone from her. “Damn. He looks like he doesn't know whether to skin him or fuck him and it's kinda working for him. Dunno how I feel about that.”

“Bakugou's not great at expressing emotions more complex than being pissed off,” Mina admits with a smile, “but he's a good guy under all those bad manners. Gimme the phone back.”

Text to: LIGHTNING GREASE
holy shit.
H o l y s h I t

Text from: LIGHTNING GREASE
I KNOW RIGHT
i'm starting a betting pool, sero's already agreed to be the bak
**bank

Text to: LIGHTNING GREASE
bitch you know ill run the numbers
let me get dressed and then i'm crashing the fuck out of this party
jeanist shoots are always a mess nobody will notice another pair of hands

Text from: LIGHTNING GREASE
love ya babe

Text to: LIGHTNING GREASE
this is better than that time we caught aizawa with a cat in his office

Tetsutetsu groans as he falls back into bed, dragging one of her pillows over his face as she climbs out of bed. “You're leaving?”

“I want to watch this train wreck in real time!”

Tetsutetsu pulls the pillow down, pouting. “But I was so comfortable.”

“Sucks to be you, babe.”

oOo

The All Might fashion empire is housed in a surprisingly plain building for the area it inhabits. It's a clean, sleek, simple design, not boring but not nearly as fancy as other buildings within the Roppongi district of Minato Ward, Tokyo. Roppongi is home to plenty of nightlife, something that Mina loves about her new life in Tokyo, and as she gets off the train to start the walk to work, she finds herself smiling. Roppongi is much to expensive for her- she lives in the Akakasha district, about 25 minutes away by train but still within Minato Ward, and she loves it.

Morning in Roppongi is pleasant. The streets are cramped and tight together, but the early morning light filters beautifully through the buildings. This deep within Tokyo, there's not so many plants as in Chiba, but she sees flowering bushes and shrubs here and there as she walks. Creeping vines rustle their way along walls and cling to buildings, trees shoot up through spaces in the pavement, and an early breeze brings with it the scent of hyacinths and a bit of sakura. It's not as busy as usual, most of the businessmen not going to work on a Saturday. She passes a few kids in their uniforms heading to classes, and waves when she recognizes a few of her regular fellow commuters. She falls into step a block away from the building with Yaoyorozu Momo, who's dressed down for the day in a soft gray skirt and white blouse, texting as she walks with tea in hand.

“Heeey Momo.”

Yaoyorozu jumps, then smiles when she sees her. “Ah! Mina-san, so nice to see you! What are you doing out so early?”

“I'm crashing the Best Jeanist shoot,” she says cheerfully, and Yaoyorozu covers her mouth to laugh. It's very cute.

“Oh, I see!” She seems to materialize a second coffee out of her enormous red Yves St. Laurent tote, and hands it over. “Here! I forgot Yamada-san is at the radio station today and Jirou's with him, so I have an extra.”

“Yao-momo, you just carry around extra coffee?”

Yaoyorozu blushes hotly. “I was embarrassed when I realized I didn't need it but didn't want to just leave it.”

Mina slings an arm around her shoulder, laughing, and takes the offered coffee. It's cold brewed, wickedly tasty and perfectly sweetened. “You're so fun, Yao-momo. I'm glad you're here.”

Yaoyorozu goes a very pretty shade of red, and they flash their badges together to get into the building. Uraraka waves at them from the Security desk in her bland grey and brown outfit, hat at a jaunty angle, and they wave back at her before walking to the elevator bank.

“Ah, Mina?” Yaoyorozu asks as they get in the elevator.

“Mm?”

Yaoyorozu's cheeks go a little pink. “It's okay if you say no, I know you'll probably be busy with things but-but Jirou-san and I were wondering if you'd like to get lunch with us some time? She says we should try and make more friends and I don't see you very much but I really do want to be better friends-!”

“Yeah!” Mina beams at her. “Let's do lunch! And dinner! Oooh, karaoke! We should definitely do karaoke, I can put together a group.”

Yaoyorozu looks absolutely delighted. “Oh, please do!”

She gets off on R&D's floor, and Mina carries on up the floors.

There's music playing when she hits the Best Jeanist studio and shoot floor, and she slips into the photo space behind one of the hassled looking interns. There's some flashy photographer man gushing as Hagakure poses with Iida, the bass thumping. That's got to be pissing Bakugou off for sure, he hates having music playing during photoshoots. There's a thousand and one things happening at once, people rushing back and forth as models are dusted down, slide clothes on, and have makeup applied. Sero and Kaminari are on deck with someone from another agency that she can't remember the name of (Shinra? Shinko? Shin-something) and talking to each other. She zooms over to them, grinning.

“Hey babe,” Kaminiari drawls, grinning. “You got here quick.”

“Like I was gonna miss this.” She doesn't give him the quick kiss she normally would, not stupid enough to mess up his makeup, and Sero snickers. “What about you, Bank-san? Already placed yours? I brought my notebook.”

“Fuck yeah.” Sero rolls his broad shoulders. “Kirishima makes the first move, but Bakugou actually asks him out. I give it two months.”

“Countering that, three months, Bakugou makes the first move and asks Kirishima out,” Kaminiari says. She writes both of them down.

“Nice. Have fun boys.”

Mina finger waves at them and slips away. It takes a little bit of searching through the crowd before she sidles up to Hakamata, who's watching the shoot and clutching coffee that smells distinctly laced with some kind of alcohol. She can't really blame him.

“Heeeeey there sensei.”

Hakamata sighs, rubbing his forehead. “Ashido-san, I distinctly recall you not being one of the models on this shoot as last time you managed to blow up a lighting rig. Why are you here?”

She nods at Kirishima, who's standing behind the photographer and watching with intense interest. “You're a smart man, Hakamata-sensei, why do you think I'm here?”

Hakamata looks between Kirishima and Bakugou, who's waiting in the wings and getting his makeup done. He has a scowl fixed on his face, and his eyes are trained on Kirishima even as wings are carefully applied to the edges of his eyes.

“You asked for Kirishima because he can handle Bakugou without getting out the lion taming gear, right?” Mina drawls. “He told me you asked for help but I know you've got more than enough interns to last the entire day without a problem, and some of them aren't even here.”

Hakamata takes a long, fortifying drink of his laced coffee. “We're ahead of planned schedule, nothing has been broken, and none of my interns have burst into tears yet. I like Bakugou a considerable amount, enough to consider those reasonable expenses to have him on my shoots, but consider this my attempt at stacking the deck against future expenses. Fatgum loaned him to me on Monday, and I would have proposed marriage on the spot when it took us a quarter of the time to do Bakugou's measurements that day. I've never seen him cooperate and it's all over some random intern. I sent out memos to half the company to let them know and we haven't had a single incident. If he doesn't marry that boy I'll do it myself.” He takes another drink, and turns to look at her.

“Who's the bank, and where do I place my bets?”

Mina grins.

oOo

Mina heard about Bakugou long before she met him. He's not exactly the darling of All Might when she arrives and signs her contract with Yuuei Modeling, but apparently he's well liked at Best Jeanist and does a lot of different work, so she hears his name a bunch. They never seem to be on the same shoots or in the office at the same time, and she gets the impression that he's constantly moving, never staying in the same place for very long. Aizawa rolls his eyes every time his name comes up, and Mina wonders what he's like sometimes when she's not rushing from job to job.

She finds out at her first work party.

It's a networking thing, according to Aizawa, and according to everyone else it's an excuse for the All Might designers to let their hair down and drink until they forget their stress. Designers from all over the country come to celebrate an All Might line release, and the Yuuei owned models are essentially required to attend. They rent out a Roppongi club and roll out a red carpet, stylists appear to put them in clothes from the new line and do makeup, and then the models are released on the floor as living displays. There's celebrities, models from other agencies, designers, well connected business men, and a few government officials. Mina gets dressed in something bold and pink, off the shoulder and high in the hem, her heels razor sharp and her hair dyed a coordinating pink that she decides she loves. She gets into the throngs of people and the thumping bass, and absolutely loves her new job.

Mina's smart enough to only get bottled water and never leave it alone, carefully avoiding accepting any drinks by playing the ditz and slipping away from men with hungry eyes. Mina has always been beautiful. She has always known its dangers. It's fun though. She dances with strangers, flirts with cute girls and cute boys, twirls for people who admire the bright colors and beautiful beading and sequins on her dress. She's the center of attention sometimes, and absolutely adores it.

Someone grabs her ass as she walks through the crowd. Shock rushes through her but before she can pull away a hand darts out, grabs the wrist of the old man who caught her, and twists it hard. The hand drops like it's fire, and her rescuer looms into view from behind her.

“Touch her again and I break it,” a tall blond boy spits out, the picture of venom as Mina darts behind him to safety. The old man looks like he's about to shit himself. “Look all you want, touch any of them again and you answer to me.”

The old man scuttles away, and Mina stares at the boy. He's lean but plenty solid, and his face seems permanently fixed into a scowl. They're clearly about the same age but his eyes seem older, like he's some furious old god that happens to be trapped in this club. His eyes are red. All told, he paints an intimidating picture, especially dressed in inky black and ferocious caution orange. His eyes flick to her and she almost recoils.

“Come with me,” he snaps, flicking his fingers at her, and she follows him silently to a pair of boys about her age chatting in one of the booths on the side of the floor.

“Oh hey!” One is a brighter blond than the one she followed, with a black stripe in his hair. “Bakugou, who's this?”

“Dunno,” he says bluntly. To Mina, he says, “stay with them until old-geezer is blacklisted. He's a piece of shit and there's rules against anyone touching us, I'm getting his ass kicked out. We aren't doing fucking sex work here.”

“Sure,” she says, and sits next to the one with black hair and a kind smile.

Bakugou stalks away, looking absolutely murderous, and Mina looks at her new friends.

By the time Bakugou comes back with bottled water for them and a couple fingers of whiskey for himself despite definitely being underage, Mina has met and is now best friends with Sero Hanta and Kaminari Denki.

“We're friends now,” Mina tells him. Bakugou looks incredibly offended.

“No the fuck we aren't.”

“Oh, we definitely are.”

Bakugou knocks back a good half of his drink and levels a glare at her. It'd be more intimidating if he wasn't blushing a little, but there's a bit of pleased pink high on his cheeks, and Mina is delighted.

He talks a big game, he really does, but he makes sure she gets home safe, introduces her to the enormous and burly security head named Miruko, and she extorts his number out of Aizawa with an offering of cat pictures. She starts seeing him in the office and even manages to get him to talk to her sometimes. Bakugou is bad tempered and fiesty, biting out insults as soon as breathing, and it doesn't take long for her to figure out he has few friends. This is fine. She's spent her whole life making friends with prickly people. It's practically her job as an extrovert to find and adopt introverts into her circle. It takes six months of active trying before he caves and starts giving one word responses to texts, another three before he willingly starts coming to the gym with her (theoretically to bitch about her form when lifting), and yet another two before he reluctantly allows her, Sero, and Kaminari to drag him out for friendly outings like karaoke and Mario Kart at Sero and Kaminari's apartment. It takes a year, but she learns three important things about Bakugou.

1. He's at least partially deaf.
2. He doesn't want anyone to know.
3. He's extremely lonely.

She knows for a fact that Kaminari and Sero haven't figured out the deafness, and it takes her a full 10 months to figure it out. He hides it very, very well. But so did Kirishima Kiyoko, and she knows the signs. It's how he hates it when the music is overwhelming, how closely he watches peoples mouths instead of eyes. He talks too loud, half shouting sometimes when he doesn't need to, gets frustrated when he doesn't understand what someone says the first time. He doesn't like movie theaters, will only eat out if it's a small restaurant, doesn't jump when others do. She thinks it's the lowest and highest range of his hearing that's gone, like Kiyoko-san, but can't tell for sure. So she does her best to accommodate, just like she did with Kiyoko-san, and never talks about it with him. If he wants her to know, he'll say something.

The loneliness is a little more subtle. He has a temper and a flashy way about him, explosive and dramatic, and at first it seems he likes it that way. And maybe he even thinks he does, but after a year of her pushing and pushing and refusing to give up, something seems to ease a little in him. He still bitches and complains, but he does it in a careful sort of way, as if afraid they'll leave but unwilling to actually admit he's afraid. He shares a bit of his life when she shares hers, brings exercise tape for Sero when he forgets his without being asked, drags Kaminari to his therapists appointments and then to physical therapy like some sort of pissed off bodyguard-slash-driver. He cares, he's just shit at showing it.

She makes it work. Everyone shows their affection and appreciation differently.

Ashido Mina is not a quitter, and she doesn't quit on her friends.

oOo

Which brings her back to one very important development.

Kirishima Eijirou.

Kind, smart, basically a brother from another mother(s), gay, charming, and definitely flirting with Bakugou Katsuki without fear.

“He's cute,” Sero says, resting an elbow on her shoulder as she watches Kirishima tease Bakugou about something and easily jump out of the way. “It's fun watching him pull Bakugou's pigtails. And those shorts are great.”

“They really are,” she agrees. The shorts hug his thick thighs beautifully, and his combat boots emphasize his fine calves. Bakugou waves his hands in the air, looking utterly frustrated and ready to start flinging the nearest objects. “Looks like he's having fun too.”

Sero looks down at her, grinning. “Gonna go meddle?”

“You bet that perky ass of yours I am.”

Sero laughs, and Mina heads over. She weaves through the crowd as the music thumps

“- don't know how to explain to you how fucking wrong you are,” Bakugou is half yelling, and Kirishima throws his head back and laughs.

“Come on, you've never just worn clothes because they're comfy?”

Six inch stilettos are not comfortable you fucking-”

“Hi guys!”

Kirishima beams at her, throwing an arm around her shoulders. The shorts are somehow even more figure hugging up close and she is a bi disaster. Her eyes slide down to the sheer bulk of his thighs, quietly impressed. “Minaaaa! Hi! I didn't think you were on this shoot, it's so good to see you!”

“I'm gatecrashing,” she tells him, slinging an arm around his waist instead of trying to reach up to his broad shoulders, and hooking her thumb in his belt loop. She grins when Bakugou visibly twitches. “Are you having fun?”

“Soooo much fun,” Kirishima gushes, and grins as Bakugou glares at them both. “Hey, you keep looking like that and your face will get stuck that way, you know.”

Bakugou opens his mouth to retort, but one of the other interns scuttles over to drag him over to the photographer. He goes with a scowl, throwing a, “What are you, ten?” over his shoulder as he goes. Kirishima laughs, and hugs her properly.

“You and Bakugou are getting along great,” Mina says, just a little bit sly. It goes right over Kirishima's head, as she expected.

“Yeah! He's really fun to tease and he's got a great sense of humor.”

That's new. She's pretty sure she hasn't ever heard anyone say that Bakugou has a good sense of humor.

“And he's pretty!”

Holy shit.

“Yeah, he's hot,” Mina says, because she has eyes, thank you very much. “Hey, you know, since you're here and helping out and all, I bet Hakamata-sensei would let you come to the release party. Want me to ask him? Best Jeanist parties are super fun, and Bakugou's gonna have to wear those bedazzled jeans.”

They both turn to look at Bakugou, who's posing shirtless. The lights reflecting off of the stones encrusted on the back pockets of the jeans he's wearing are practically blinding.

“Mina, have I told you lately that you're my best friend?”

Kirishima's called away to help carry things for the photographer's assistant and bounds over, and Mina grins to herself.

“My work here is done,” she announces to the space at large.

oOo

Text to: Kiri 2.0, Presentation Michael, Nap Dad, Urarockin, Miss Momo, Jir Oh Damn, Midoriya Iz-so-cute, Amajiki Tamaki, Mirioooo, Hench AF, Birdboy, Carpet and Drapes, + 45 others
betting is now open on when, how, and if Bakugou Katsuki and Kirishima Eijirou get together, see me or Sero or Kaminari to place your bettttssssss
starting is 1000 yen minimum, we playin for keeps kiddos
meddling is encouraged, please keep putting them together if only to save Hakamata-sensei's blood pressure.

Text from: Carpet and Drapes
How do you even have my number?

Text from: Midoriya Iz-so-cute
omfg
kacchan likes kirishima????
Mina I need to know everything
mina please
I need it
definitely not for blackmail purposes

Text from: Jir Oh Damn
…I give it two weeks and Kirishima asks first. 8000 yen.

Text from: Nap Dad
is there nothing you won't bet on?
Fine. 127 days, whoever this Kirishima person is asks him, Bakugou rejects it and then later accepts.
12000 yen.
And don't call me kiddo.

Text from: Present Michael
TELL ME EVERYTHING LITTLE LISTENER

Text from: Amajiki Tamaki
how do you have this number?
um.
three months, bakugou asks him.
Please don't tell kirishima i'm betting on him.
4000 yen

Mina grins as she rolls over in her bed, looking up at her phone keeps blowing up. This is going to be way too much fun.

Tetsutetsu comes out of her bathroom, nothing but a towel around his waist, and goes to find his clothes from where he left them on the chair. “You having fun?”

So much fun,” Mina agrees. She rolls over shamelessly to watch him dress, marveling at his chiseled ass. “You're sure you don't want to go into nude modeling? Because I'm just saying, you could make a killing.”

Tetsutetsu flips her off to make her laugh. Mina rolls back onto her back as he flops onto the bed with a book, and smiles up at the ceiling.

Life is good.

Chapter Text

Katsuki’s academic advisor is a balding man with hard eyes and long fingernails named Yukimura Hikaru. He taps his fingers in a slow, constant drum, the nails clicking hard on the desk, and Katsuki watches them with morbid fascination as they move. His office is a small, cramped thing, shoved into a corner of a building that mostly houses classes in Classical Japanese, and it always smells faintly of orchids. Crammed between a filing cabinet and a stack of paperwork that looks like it’s about to gain sentience and start eating the nearest available freshman, Katsuki wonders if he’s making a mistake. Yukimura clicks things with the mouse, mouth in a little moue of annoyance as the sunlight from the window falls on his monitor. Katsuki doesn't fidget by sheer force of will.

“It’s not ideal,” Yukimura says at last, and slaps a paper in front of him. “But this is the best I can do if you want to keep on track to graduating. You put off registering so long, you’re lucky I could fit you in where I could. You might need to make a decision and put your other career on hold for this one.”

“Yeah, well, I also want to eat,” Katsuki mutters, and picks up the paper with his new schedule on it. He skims over it, eyes catching on something. “...This says I’m in the International Program. Some of these classes are taught in English.”

“I know you speak fluent English, and it was the easiest way to get you into those classes. Get this done, you’ll have a good chunk of your work done and you might be able to graduate early.”

Katsuki stares at the paper. Yeah, he speaks English, but hearing it is still hard. Especially if people have an accent. Kansai-ben is bad enough, never mind if the teachers are from America or England or Singapore. He’s going to have to work his ass off just to understand the lessons. He’s going to have to wear the damn hearing aids.

He can feel the sensory overload migraine starting already.

“I never applied to the International Program,” he says, deciding to take a leap of faith that he’ll be pulled out of it. Yukimura doesn’t bite.

“Does it look like I care,” Yukimura says flatly. It does not. “Look, you’re smart. Way too fucking smart to waste your life working only on your looks. You’ve got a good brain in that pretty head of yours and one day I’d like to see you with a degree to prove it. You’re one of the most promising Chemistry students we’ve got, even if you are starting half a decade later than most, and you’re a year into a program with frankly, a hard class load to start with. You’ve got a lot of potential, Bakugou. Don’t throw it away because you’re scared.”

Katsuki shoves the paper into his backpack, scowling. The insults to his work sting, but it’s nothing he hasn’t heard before, mostly from people who have no idea how hard his work actually is. “Who the fuck said I was scared?”

Yukimura just waves a hand at him. “Sure, kid. Get out of my office and send the next sad sack in here so I can eviscerate them.”

Katsuki stalks out the door, jabbing a thumb at it to direct a grouchy looking brunette to go in, and heads for the doors of the building.

Toudai is a big goddamn university, one with high standards and an excellent Chemistry program, and he’s worked his ass off just to be able to stand on the steps of its buildings and bitch about its overpriced tea. When he was little, he’d wanted to go to Waseda, same as his dad and his mom. After… everything, he’d changed his mind and gone with Midoriya Inko’s alma mater. Deku had gone to an extremely selective school for design, though Katsuki knows he wants to go back to Toudai for a Masters in something-or-other. Katsuki’s savings had disappeared after The Last Fight, and between his shitty mental health, money, and frantically trying to build a life and career out of a husk of his former one, at 22 he’d finally been able to apply and got in to the Chemistry program.

Now, year two is upon him, and it’s going to be a fucking nightmare.

He swings by Doutour, a little cafe on campus with filling food and decent coffee, and says a mental farewell to his sleep schedule. It was nice while it lasted. He’s halfway through his sandwich when his phone buzzes.

Text from: Auntie
Hello Katsuki-kun! I know you had to reschedule before, did you get to school today?

Katsuki takes a hefty swig of his coffee, ignoring the look of alarm from the barista (it’s still mostly scalding), and braces himself to respond.

Text to: Auntie
Yeah. registered for classes again.
everythings fine, so don’t worry.

Probably a pointless endeavor, telling Midoriya Inko not to worry, but he has to at least try.

Text from: Auntie
Oh! What good news! I’m very happy for you!
Make sure and take care of yourself and lower your work a little!! If Aizawa complains I’ll give him an earful myself.

Katsuki snorts, smiling in spite of himself. The idea of Auntie squaring up with Aizawa’s a good one. He has a bit more of his sandwich, satisfied with the little mental image of them in a Street Fighter setting, and texts her an affirmative before shoving his phone back in his pocket. He’s almost done when the phone buzzes again.

Text from: Deku
it u
[download image]

Curious in spite of himself, he opens it, and immediately rolls his eyes. Deku’s found the worlds fluffiest white-blond pomeranian, and drawn angry eyebrows on the picture. The dog’s owner looks very amused, the dog itself intense and ready to throw down. It’s a familiar scene. Every single time he runs into one, he sends Katsuki pictures.

Katsuki has secretly saved every single one of them.

They’re fucking hilarious.

He saves this one as well, and leaves Deku on read.

oOo

The turnaround for the release of the actual line is impressive, and it’s exactly a week after the photoshoot that the Best Jeanist launch party happens. It’s not a super serious party, officially, but unofficially? It’s a big deal. And Katsuki is so very, very tired of this part of his life. He’s had almost a whole week entirely to himself, no work calling him in to go for fittings or shoots or anything. It’s been a rare time off, interspersed only with therapy, morning runs and sparring with Deku, and hours of working on his hobby and school prep. And after this wonderful, relaxing time…

“No fucking way.”

The intern sighs, gesturing. “The stylist wants you to wear this.”

“I hate it.” Katsuki’s already been poured into the Swarovski crystal encrusted jeans he’s expected to wear for the night, but this is too much. “I am not wearing a pink shirt with Marilyn Manson on it. Vetements can go fuck themselves. I’ll go shirtless.”

Everyone else is getting ready, preparing to be shipped from the Jeanist studios to the club, and most of their styling is fine (even if Iida does look a little like a somewhat queasy gay interpretation of West Side Story in that shirt), but Katsuki has to draw the line somewhere. The Jeanist intern throws their hands in the air and stalks over to Hakamata, shirt in hand. Katsuki crosses his arms over his chest as Hakamata glances at it, grimaces, and waves the intern away. Good.

A minute later Hakamata appears once again, a grey silk dress shirt in hand. “Three buttons open, tuck it in, I have a black belt around here to match your shoes,” he says without preamble, and Katsuki pulls the shirt on. The grey is near jewel tone, it’s so dark, and it fits him near perfectly. Hakamata nods, approving, and snaps his fingers.

“Roll the sleeves to the elbows, slap some highlighter and eyeliner on, and then we’re out of here,” he says imperiously as a team descends like locusts onto Katsuki. He sighs, and resigns himself to being fussed over.

He does look decent, at least, when it’s all over. The highlighter is stronger than Hakamata usually wants on him, the eyeliner thicker, and he looks like the kind of well off bastard who drops the same amount as some peoples rent on a single pair of socks. It’s not a bad look, at least. Once he’s fully kitted out, he’s shuttled with everyone else away, and when they hit the club he resists the urge to bolt and hide in the bathroom for the next four hours. Best Jeanist parties follow a consistent pattern. Hour 1 is socializing, canapes, and judging everyone's clothing. Hour 2 is the start of partnered dancing, usually something ballroom in whatever theme Hakamata's picked. Hour 3 is mingling, and halfway through, the real music and dancing starts, and the club starts acting like a club. Hour 4 is the dancing (boring), people getting drunk (even more boring when he doesn't drink that much on the job anymore), and people getting it on in the bathroom (annoying, also so very unsanitary). The rest of the evening on is more of the same.

Parties are the worst.

It doesn’t take too long before people start to trickle in, mostly flocking like fawning doves to Hakamata to praise him for his work as the models do a bit of mingling. Katsuki allows himself to be examined like so much meat a couple times before making his escape to the little seating area Hakamata’s holding court in. He drapes himself on the couch, lets his eyes go heavy lidded, and knows he looks dangerous as all get out. Hakamata absently pats his shoulder in passing, a polite allowance to his bad behavior. He’s a staple in Hakamata’s work now, having been used as the face a couple of times, and he’s allowed a bit more lee-way than most of the other models. He settles in, watching the slowly filling crowds. There’s Ishiyama talking with the lead designer for Midnight, little asshole reporter wanna-be bitching to an uninterested and obviously bored Jirou (who he hasn’t seen in a while. She must be busy with Present Mic’s fucking batshit schedule), Round-Face from the security team talking with Miruko, Aizawa by the bar knocking back a line of shots in rapid succession, and Present Mic himself in full leather leaning on the bar as if trying to chat up his own husband. Katsuki snickers to himself as Aizawa goes pink. Apparently, it’s working.

Toshinori hasn’t made an appearance yet, but he’s so sickly, it’d be a shock if he did, so Katsuki keeps looking through the crowds. There’s a couple of people from different labels he vaguely recognizes from work, including that skinny black haired emo guy from Fatgum arm in arm with weird-blond-sneaky guy from Sir Nighteye and-

Movement catches his eye and he watches one of the All Might interns walk in. To-something. To...Todoroki, that’s it. He’s six feet and three inches of whippet thin bad attitude in a suit worth more than Katsuki’s entire life. Something about him seems off, but Katsuki can’t place what it is. They haven’t interacted much. He watches Todoroki walk through the crowd to the bar, eyebrow twitching slightly up when Todoroki orders something brown and nasty. Didn’t seem the type. Maybe like… Long Island Iced Tea. Yeah. Probably that. Maybe flaming shots, too. He probably gets stupid wild on the weekends. No one’s that stone faced all the time.

He people watches for a while as the room fills and the noise grows, and then Hakamata gently nudges him off the couch to go mingle while he schmoozes with the serious money. Hour 1 is almost complete, meaning people are starting to get ready for some dancing in the classical partnered bullshit way. Katsuki sulks down into the floor to do some more walking.

A laugh, pitched at exactly the tone that pierces through all the muddled noise and has always grated on his nerves catches his attention, and he subtly turns to locate it through the crowd. Deku must be here.

His eye catches on a pair of people at the bar, one tall, one short. The tall one is one of the models that Hakamata used on this shoot, but Katsuki hadn't had to deal with him. Shin... Shindou. He's pretty, and nasty behind the eyes. He puts up a good front though, and it’s only after years and years of working in a cutthroat business that Katsuki sees through him. He’s cold, underneath that pretty smile, and has a cruel streak that Katsuki honed in on like a laser the first time they met. Most people don't look that deep.

Most people don't have reason too.

Or, in the case of Deku, who's dressed in a nice pair of slacks, white shirt open at the throat, and light linen sport coat, they don't want to. Deku's leaning in, laughing at something Shindou's said, hand up to play with a curl at the back of his neck. Fucking disgusting. He needs to get a better sense of taste. Katsuki's lip curls in displeasure when Shindou reaches out to pick an imaginary hair off of Deku's coat, and lets it linger in a proprietary sort of way.

That's enough of that.

He stalks over as Deku laughs about some stupid joke.

“Move it, Shindou, I need to borrow him for a minute,” Katsuki says bluntly, and ignores the daggers Deku's glaring at him as he herds him away from the man and into a corridor out of sight. The security recognizes them both and nods them back. He and Deku have been staples of Best Jeanist parties for years now, and security is used to their little spats. Or large spats, as the case may be.

“Kacchan, I was really hitting it off with him,” Deku hisses when they've rounded a corner and are out of earshot of the guards.

“I know, that's the fucking problem. Keys.”

Deku's jaw drops. “Kacchan-”

Katsuki holds out his hand, gesturing impatiently. Deku drops his key ring into his hand, face fixed in a furious snarl as Katsuki removes his mail key and pockets it. “I'm holding it for ransom. You come in the morning, you get it back, but you only get it back when you come to my place so I can make sure you aren't fucking dead or missing limbs or some shit.”

He pulls his own keys out, giving Deku his gym key, and some of the rage fades. Deku puts it on his key ring, obviously still rankled but okay with the hostage exchange.

“Normal people would just tell you to call,” Deku mutters vindictively.

“Normal people aren't us, and I don't trust you not to do something really fucking stupid tonight given your track record recently,” Katsuki says flatly. “Drinking or sex. Pick one.”

Deku's jaw drops. “What? Kacchan, I am not talking about this with you-”

Katsuki holds up five fingers, holding them perfectly straight and putting them down with each point he makes. “Matsukawa Shouhei. The ER Incident. Hanata Tetsurou. The Package. What really happened to the old couch. Which one do you want Auntie to know about?”

Deku stares at him. “Are you fucking blackmailing me?”

“I absolutely am. You can drink and not get laid, or you can get laid and not drink. Your choice.” Katsuki raises an eyebrow, just a touch mocking and cruel. “Or do you have to get drunk before you have the balls for what you let them do?”

Deku goes pale with fury, but with exceeding care says flatly, “Fine. I won't drink tonight then.”

Damn. That really wasn't the choice Katsuki was hoping he'd make, but oh well. He nods anyway. “I won't either.”

“Like you were going to get laid anyway if I picked drinking,” Deku snaps, adjusting his jacket.

Katsuki grabs the lapel, pushing him hard against the wall. Deku doesn't fight him, just glares, unimpressed. They stand there for a moment, and Katsuki takes a careful breath, shoving down the little stab of hurt in his chest and getting himself back under control. No. Not again, he is not doing this again.

“We've fucking talked about this,” Katsuki says, and the stiffness goes out of Deku’s shoulders when he hears how tired Katsuki sounds. Katsuki lets go of his jacket and brushes himself down, carefully not looking at him. “You always take it too far.”

Deku's filter disappears when they fight for real. Katsuki fights with fists, but Deku fights dirty in a different kind of way. He has a way of finding Katsuki's sorest spots and stabbing them, and he's just done it again. There's certain things they don't fight about, and Katsuki's sex life (or lack thereof) is one of them. His parents and his pyromania are the others.

“I'm sorry, Kacchan,” Deku says softly. “I was out of line.”

“Whatever.”

They stand in unsettled silence together for a moment before Deku reaches out, tapping the back of his hand. Katsuki jerks his hand away.

“What?”

Deku turns his phone, showing him that location sharing is on, and Katsuki sighs, rubbing his forehead.

“Why can't you just sleep with people who aren't fucking sociopaths,” he mutters, and turns on his as well, making sure he can see the little dot marked “Deku” and it's syncing correctly. “Don't do anything stupid tonight, I don't want to break Auntie's heart if you get killed by one of these assholes and I have to bring you back to kill you again.”

“I'm careful, don't worry.”

“Who the fuck said I was worried.”

Deku doesn't deign to respond to that.

“If you're that dead set on me not going with Shindou, there's plenty of other fish in the metaphorical sea,” Deku says, and Katsuki's nose wrinkles in distaste again. “Oh, come on. I don't always wind up with bruises. Vanilla is fine too.”

“Oh my god, stop talking. Do sleep with him, don't, I don't care, just- don't fucking tell me about it, ew.”

Deku shrugs one shoulder. “Sure. So you don't care if I-”

“Oh my god Deku, be literally anywhere else.”

They rejoin the party, splitting away, and Katsuki puts on his best “I'm Polite And Pleasant” face to do the required mingling. Someone needs to give him a goddamn Oscar.

“What's the deal with you and Midoriya lately?” Sero asks as they stand at a table waiting for Ashido to bring back some food about 15 minutes into Hour 2. Mingling has been done, and if Katsuki speaks to another businessman in the next month after tonight it'll be too soon. “You guys haven’t ever really been friends but you’ve been really weird around each other the past couple weeks.”

“None of your fucking business,” Katsuki says absently, watching the crowd. Todoroki's two toned head moves through the crowd, weaving towards someone in a corner, maybe Iida? Definitely Iida, that shirt is a goddamn travesty. Todoroki's a weird guy, but so is Iida. Maybe they're weird together? Nah.

“I'm just saying, you're both like… weirdly passive aggressive at each other.”

“Just aggressive, no passive. It's a long fucking story and it doesn't concern you so drop it.” Katsuki opens his water and takes a long drink. He's regretting the no drinking rule now, but he's no weakling. He can keep his word. His head is already starting to ache from the sensory overload of so much noise, and he wants to peel these damn jeans off and be anywhere else.

Kaminari saunters up in black jeans with phoenix embroidery on them and a drink in hand for Sero. “Miss me?”

Sero rolls his eyes, taking the drink from him. “You left two minutes ago, calm down.”

Kaminari shrugs, flashing them a grin, and leans on the table, deliberately stretching out his legs to show of their length and the embroidery. Katsuki can see at least five people eyeing him up like he's the last piece of cheese at a wine tasting. “At least we’re not in those freaky cages like that time Gang Orca had us. Think Sakamata's got a bdsm thing going for him? He looks like he might. No one wears that many zoot suits without some sort of freaky bed thing you don't admit to in public.”

“I liked the cages better than this,” Sero says, sipping his drink. “At least then people couldn’t touch us. And the pictures turned out badass.”

Katsuki snorts. “Sure.”

“What, you didn't like them?”

Katsuki takes a drink of his water. “I didn't sign up to do tacky soft-core porn for repressed businessmen and we sure the fuck aren't making enough to qualify as strippers. Gang Orca does cool stuff but standing in a cage wearing a suit for four hours straight was fucking awful.”

“Hear, hear,” Kaminari says enthusiastically, tapping their waters together. Katsuki rolls his eyes.

“Whatever.”

His phone buzzes against his leg and he pulls it out as Sero and Kaminari both sip their drinks.

Text from: HBIC
miss me?

He scowls at the phone, resting his elbows on the standing table. It’s been a while since he’s had a text from this particular number.

Text to: HBIC
when the fuck did you get back

Text from: HBIC
Like two hours ago fam
America was fuckin liiiiit
Lol cuz theres a lot of fires rn
Touched down at Itami and took the shinkansen home
wat u up 2

Text to: HBIC
none of your business

Text from: HBIC
lololol u always pissy
Bet it's a Jeanist thing

Text to: HBIC
Nosy brat

Text from: HBIC
lmao u kno it
we need to do lunch
Like adults
lololol

He rolls his eyes and is searching for the best way to respond when Kaminari drops his bottled water against Katsuki’s hand.

“Holy shit,” Kaminari whistles, and Katsuki looks up to see that Kirishima’s just walked in. Sero chokes on his drink.

Katsuki stares blankly at Kirishima. He’s dressed… well. Really well. Holy shit indeed. He’s in an all black suit so dark it seems to be absorbing colors around it, the shirt made of a sheer black, his tie the same inky, slightly reflective material as the suit. The only color he’s wearing is on his shoes, black wing tips with gold toe covers. More than a few heads turn to look at him, but he just smiles like this is fucking normal and strides towards the bar. His hair makes him another good half foot taller, and he’s easy to track through crowd. Katsuki can’t keep his eyes off of him, taking in the broad shoulders and neatly tucked in waist. He’s broad, Katsuki knows for a fact, but the tailoring has nipped in his figure perfectly, and… yep, that ass is just as impressive as before. How do his legs look so slim when they’re the size of watermelons?

“Very 2018 Spring-Summer Dior,” Mina says, walking up to them. He’s not actually certain people are legally allowed to be in public with dresses as short as hers, but the green looks good on her. Her heels are so tall that’s she’s even taller than him, and he glares at them for a moment before returning to watching Kirishima. “He said he wanted to make an impression.”

“Color me very fucking impressed,” Sero says, wiping his mouth off. “Oh my god. And he isn’t even a fucking model.”

“More’s the pity,” Mina sighs, dramatic as ever. “But then again, we’d all be out of a job, so I guess it’s a good thing. Bakugou, go get him.”

Katsuki snarls. “What? Why me?”

“Cause mama’s in 6 inch stilettos and Sero might fall over his own tongue,” Mina says, grinning at him and stealing Kaminari’s water. “And Kaminari wouldn’t get halfway through that crowd before getting distracted and flirting with some cute young thing. Help me Baku-juan, you’re our only ho.”

Katsuki flips her off, and heads into the crowd. Thankfully the DJ hasn’t started yet, he’ll be doomed once he does, but the crowd is still loud and talkative. He weaves through it, carefully dodging some people he knows are chatty and would want a closer look at the jewelry encrusted on his ass at the moment. He slides past Ryukyu’s designer and one of the Best Jeanist PR people and the music kicks on right as Kirishima turns around from the bar.

He was pretty from a distance but up close he’s a masterpiece. Katsuki’s never felt tongue tied before in his life, but right now he knows what they mean by lost for words. There are tiny diamond studs in Kirishima’s ears, and the sheer shirt looks like it would be soft to touch. His eyes have just the smallest amount of eyeliner on them, making the red of them pop, and Katsuki kind of wants to just stand there and drink him in for a moment. He seems back lit from the club lights, the bar behind him turning him into a painting. Everything seems to freeze, an image of spun sugar crystalizing, and he knows that this sight, Kirishima himself, will be a memory he holds for the rest of his life.

Fuck, Kirishima is beautiful.

“Oh hey Bakugou!”

The world snaps back into focus.

“Raccoon eyes wanted me to get you,” he says flatly, finding his voice. Kirishima smiles at him anyway, big and wide and content. “C’mon.”

Kirishima follows him through the crowd back to their table, and Katsuki digs in with no small amount of happiness to the plate of tuna tartare on tempura fried nori triangles. There’s another plate of small canapes of other kinds, but the tuna is delicious. The room is getting even louder as the music kicks up and dancing starts. Kirishima chats with the others, snippets of conversation reaching Katsuki’s ears, but he doesn’t pay too much attention to it. He people watches to stave off boredom for most of Hour 2, ears bombarded with big band as people swing dance on the main floor. He does his best not to let his eyes linger on Kirishima.

He spots Deku with Shindou at the start of Hour 3, Todoroki behind him with an expression like a storm cloud and narrowed eyes as the two pass him at the bar. It doesn’t look like they bumped into him, but Todoroki looks annoyed at best before he turns around and orders something.

Fucking Shindou.

Sero taps the table by his hand, bringing him back to the conversation, and Katsuki turns to look at him so he can read his lips properly. Sero’s voice is usually in the range he can hear easily, but with all the noise it’s beyond him right now.

Time to mingle again, Sero says (probably), and Katsuki grimaces. Ugh. Hour 3 sucks.

“Sure,” he says out loud.

“Have fun!” Mina teases, close enough he can hear her, and stays at their table with Kirishima while Katsuki, Kaminari, and Sero delve into the crowds once again. Katsuki puts on his best show of polite smiles, even as his head pounds from so much going on around him. He talks with a couple people, escapes a nasty politician he recognizes from a couple other parties, dodges a few different sets of wandering hands, and finally manages to escape to the bathroom.

It’s thankfully empty, and the sound drops off so fast his headache almost completely disappears. Katsuki braces his arms on the sink, taking deep breaths to try and calm down from the sensory overload of so much sound and people and smells.

He can do this. He’s done this a hundred times, he’ll do it a hundred more, it’s a job and jobs aren’t always sunshine and daisies. He just has to get through another hour and a half and he can leave. It’s fine. He’s fine. This is fine.

This is not fine.

“Fuck,” he mutters, hands tightening on the sink. He looks up at the mirror.

His face stares back, grim and cold, eyes wild at the edges, and for a moment he’s 17 again, at his first real party after the accident, overwhelmed and terrified that this is the rest of his life. He blinks to clear the memory, taking a slow breath in. C’mon. He pays a lot of money for an asshole with a piece of paper to help him get his shit together, time to put it in practice. Slow breaths in, hold to force your heart rate to slow down, breathe out. Match the feeling of waves, crashing against the shore.

His shoulders relax, his heart rate lowers, his breathing evens out.

Better.

He washes his hands even though there’s no need, just for something to do, and as he’s drying his hands Kirishima walks in.

“Oh, there you are!”

“Here I am,” Bakugou agrees, a little snappish, but Kirishima just smiles at him, leaning against the wall.

He looks so good, effortlessly confident and charming. The red hair, weird as it is, fits well with the black suit, and he’s loosened his tie a little.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

Kirishima gives him a long look, and Bakugou scowls at him.

“It’s okay if you’re not,” Kirishima says. “I told you, my mom’s like you. With the-” He taps his ear, not saying anything. Katsuki jolts when he realizes that it’s so no one could even potentially overhear. Kirishima is good at keeping secrets, apparently. “She doesn’t do parties well. All the sound and people overwhelms her and she can’t process it all.”

“I said I’m fine,” Katsuki says flatly, walking past him but lingering at the door. “Suit looks good.”

Kirishima brightens, his smile getting even bigger. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Kirishima pushes off the wall, still smiling, and follows him back out into the fray.

The music is starting, and he can see crowds starting on the dance floor. He kind of wants to go and sit back in a corner and hide and kind of wants to get really fucking drunk and kind of wants to be anywhere else and-

“Hey,” Kirishima says, catching his arm and reeling him back in with unnerving ease. Katsuki goes easily, doesn’t know why. He doesn’t want to question it. “Hey, Bakugou! Let’s dance.”

There are people here. Lots of people. He’s working. He’s supposed to be professional, and polite, and completely untouchable. Aloof. That’s what he does.

And he is so, so tired.

He doesn't want to think. He doesn't want to be worried about his not-brother-not-friend-thing, he doesn't want to wonder if he's going to survive school and work, he doesn't want to think about Mina’s thoughtful smiles and Sero asking about Deku, he doesn’t want to wonder how much of this is going to come up at therapy again, or anything at all. He doesn't want to think about how uncertain he is around Kirishima, how his eyes are drawn to him and how something in his chest feels settled with him. He doesn't want to think about any of that.

“Sure,” he says, “Let's dance.”

Present Mic’s taken over the DJ station, because of course he has, and Katsuki feels the throb of a low, ugly bass in his bones when the music kicks back on. Of course Mic would pick something with this much bass, he’s partially deaf as well and knows what feels good. It’s something American, early 2000’s, and it feels like it’s crawling up his spine and putting down roots. The crowd is pressing in, and for once it doesn’t feel bad, and Kirishima’s hands are hot on his waist as he pulls Katsuki in against him, sharp toothed grin too much and not enough in the encroaching darkness.

Come on, Kirishima mouths, red eyes glittering with the low light. Come on.

Whatever.

There’s a dragon in the depths of his stomach, writhing and chomping and aching to sink its teeth into Kirishima, and Katsuki is done thinking about it.

The bass echoes against his ribcage when he reaches up to loop his arms around Kirishima’s neck and gets up in his face, feeling a stab of satisfaction when Kirishima’s pupils blow wide and dark. Good, he thinks, grinning like a razor blade. Kirishima’s hands go tight against him, and Katsuki wants to drag him down, feel those teeth against his tongue, map out every inch of his body and know exactly how that hair feels in his fingers and what the fuck is wrong with him?

He almost pulls away, the weird possessive desire making him uncomfortable. Is this wrong? What- why-

Kirishima must see something in his face, because he tightens his grip, softens his expression.

Easy, he mouths, and smiles. It’s softer this time. No temptation there. Easy.

Rattled, Katsuki nods, and lets the music take them.

Dancing is fun. Kirishima hauls the others through the crowd to him so they’re a group. Mina has a good time, Kaminari gets pulled off to go dance with some huge guy in a suit who looks like he’s just as into Kaminari as Kaminari is into him, and Sero shows them all how to do a crisp body roll that makes Katsuki irrationally pleased to master. The headache fades a little as he focuses on other things, Mina and Sero disappear at some point, and the bass is still hot and slick when Kirishima tugs him in close to dance again. His lips are a little swollen from biting them, and he’s lost his tie at some point. The sheer shirt is opened halfway down his chest, and Katsuki kind of wants to bite him.

Which. Weird.

Fun? Kirishima mouths, and Katsuki nods back, a little surprised to find its true. He has had fun. Kind of.

They dance together a bit more, Katsuki’s mind flipping between wanting to ruck Kirishima’s shirt up to feel his abs and wanting to go and rest and ignore these weird urges. After a few more songs Kirishima tugs him out of the crowd, which is starting to disperse, and gets them far enough away that Katsuki can hear him again.

“Can I see your phone?”

Katsuki, distracted by the curve of his collarbone, hands it over. Kirishima beams and starts tapping on it.

“Here!” Kirishima grins, handing him his phone back. Katsuki looks down.

There’s now a contact in his phone. Kirishima Eijirou!!! it reads, and there’s a number beneath it.

Huh. Eijirou. So that’s his given name.

Fuck, Katsuki is so bad with names.

“Uh,” he says, very articulate, but Kirishima just waves as Mina drags him away towards the door, leaving Katsuki standing there with his phone in his hand like it’s a bomb about to go off.

This is a weird night.

oOo

He switches from the jewel encrusted jeans and button down to a t shirt and tan joggers, shoving his feet in nice Adidas as one of the Jeanist interns orders a car. It's close to 2:30 in the morning, and he nods vaguely at Sero and Kaminari as they head out. His driver is wonderfully silent, driving him out of Roppongi and out into Setagaya. The city changes bit by bit as they approach Seta, where he's made his home. The lights are a bit much in the darkness, dancing like flames against his tired eyes, and he rubs his forehead against the ache there.

His eyes hurt. They aren't as damaged as his ears, but they're not in great shape either, and he's exhausted. He wants to take his contacts out and sleep for a month.

The apartment is, as always, silent when he gets home. He feels like he's been run over by a bus, exhaustion crashing into him as he drops his key ring with Deku's mail key in the dish on the shoe box. He kicks off his shoes in the genkan, grabs some water out of the fridge, and heads to the bathroom. The makeup comes of easily, the contacts taken out and put in their little holders with the right amount of liquid.

He falls into bed, not bother to get out of his joggers, and stares at the ceiling. The plain white stares back.

“I'm not going to check,” he tells the ceiling. “I don't care.”

It seems vaguely disappointed.

He pulls his phone out of his pocket, pulling up the little map with Deku's dot on it. It's moving, but only a little. It looks like he's walking along a street instead of driving, guessing by the speed, and he's clear the fuck out in the middle of Adachi ward. Katsuki sighs as the dot stops in what looks like an apartment building, and drops it on his chest.

It buzzes a moment later.

Text from: Deku
Don't wait up.

Great. Just fucking great.

He lets the phone fall again.

Katsuki should probably think about what happened tonight. About Kirishima, and how easily he gets under his skin. About the weight of his hands and the heat of his breath, and that beautiful black suit and sheer shirt, the muscle beneath it. About how soft his lips looked, that big smile and his bright eyes. How he'd wanted to drink in that smile, bite those lips, feel skin under his palms. He should maybe examine that.

He's not actually sure how.

Katsuki doesn't like people. He just doesn't. Never has, never thought that he would, and while it wasn't exactly upsetting it was a sore spot on his heart- unloveable Katsuki who couldn't even love back properly. He'd dated a bit, in high school and a bit after. It hadn't been comfortable. He hadn't liked the pressure of it, or how people teased, or the looks people gave him when they asked what he was attracted to and he just stared at them. So he stopped dating. He has eyes, people can be pleasing in an aesthetic sort of way, but he's never… wanted. This is new, and strange, and he doesn't know how to feel about it.

Deku likes people. Deku falls in and out of love easy as breathing, treats sex with the same lack of concern as eating, is “cute” and knows what it is to be charming, dates and sleeps around and has a good time. Deku took one look at men at the ripe age of thirteen and decided he was all for them. End of existential angst.

Katsuki kind of hates that he wants that too. It's not fucking fair that Deku gets to be normal and he’s… something else. Not a bad something else, just something different.

This is bullshit.

He rolls onto his side, picking the phone back up and reluctantly pulling up Kirishima’s contact info. Glaring at it, he jabs the button for texting.

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
did you get home ok

That’s probably not a bad thing? Right? That’s a perfectly normal thing to ask someone.

Right?

Fuck.

What if it's not okay? What if it's rude? Oh fuck, he doesn't have a fucking clue what kind of texting is okay, he only ever really texts Deku, Camie, and Mina. Better question, why the fuck does he even care? He barely knows Kirishima and he has this weird… crush? Maybe? What the fuck does a crush feel like? Do crushes usually mean that you want to bite someones neck so everyone knows they belong with you?

He opens his browser and searches “crush feeling?? How stop”

His phone pings and he almost drops it, jerking in surprise and frantically pulling open the message. It keeps pinging for a moment, all in rapid succession.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Yeah!!! I'm back safe!
Thanks for looking out for me lol
Did you get home okay?
Or wait are you still at the office
Please don't still be at the office that would be sad

Katsuki's heart does a very fast cha-cha off a cliff as he stares at the texts. Something in his chest feels proud and happy and… excited. Thrilled that Kirishima is responding.

Oh, fuck.

Yeah, this is probably a crush.

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
I'm home

There. Blunt and to the point. No way that strange, happy-proud feelings can be extrapolated from that.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Bit of a rough night???
you ok bro?

Katsuki sits upright, staring at the phone in his hands as if it's about to reach up and bite him. What the fuck. Sure, he doesn't feel great, he never feels great after Jeanist parties.They're his least favorite part of this job. He hates them and they make him feel like meat on display and he’s going to feel shitty for at least a couple more days.

What does he say?

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
been a long day. See you soon.

Nailed it.

The response comes almost immediately. Katsuki's phone rarely makes this much noise- it's wild.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
ok!!! if you need anything i'm right here tho
like anything. Even just to vent
you got like a super intense amazing job and also you looked great tonight
sleep well!!!!

Katsuki cradles the phone in his hands, and very slowly lays back down, staring at the cheerful little exclamation points. He wants to sit there and deconstruct everything, take each sentence apart and torture it for more information on what Kirishima means, but he doesn't think he'll get anywhere. Kirishima seems very straightforward, not about to pick a fight of any kind. He's not blunt, just honest, and Katsuki... Katsuki has no idea how to handle any of this.

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
goodnight

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Night bro!!!!!

That's going to have to be enough.

Katsuki drops the phone on his chest, staring back up at the ceiling again, and wonders what the fuck he's supposed to do about these feelings.

“Shit,” he informs the ceiling.

It silently seems to agree, and Katsuki is still thinking about the warmth of Kirishima’s hands as exhaustion finally wins out, and darkness wells up to claim him.

Chapter Text

Katsuki is 18 when he sees Lilo and Stitch for the first time. He's got a split lip and a black eye, bruised ribs and a finger that's been stabilized since the bone is cracked without having fully broken. He's wearing his most hated rival's clothes since all of his are dirty, curled up on a green couch in his rival's house where he now lives, and his rival himself is sitting on the other end carefully not looking at him. Deku has a bruise high on his cheekbone, a handprint along his jaw from being slapped. Katsuki wasn't the one to put it there. No, that was some other asshole at school, because Deku has a fucking hero complex.

Inko is gone for the day. It's just them, home alone since they were both suspended for fighting, and they haven't said a word to each other since they woke up.

The movie only gets put on because it's the one on top of the Midoriya movie collection, wildly disorganized in a box in the closet. Katsuki's eye aches, a souvenir from fleeing his mom's house. It's been five days. He's already listened to tiny Midoriya Inko have a shouting match with her, and win. Mitsuki won't sign over the rights to him, still convinced that he's going to come limping back to her, and he's already decided he's dropping out of school to work so he never, ever has to see her again. He tried to access his accounts and found them locked, a lifetime of work stripped away from him. But he's 18. He can open his own, start from scratch, build up enough money to get the fuck out of Auntie's house and pay her back for the strain he's causing on her already thin wallet.

Being poor is a new sensation, and Katsuki really doesn't like it.

The movie isn't dubbed, just subtitled, and Katsuki doesn’t really care about it at first. He’s not watched a lot of Disney movies- his parents prefered live action - and he’s never been big on foreign films. But the art is nice, the characters soft and round and pleasant to look at. He's been to Hawai’i for a few different photoshoots, and this is pretty accurate to the islands beauty. The colors are beautiful, the music is good, and the little alien thing is… cute. Kind of. A little bit feral, a fighter.

When Lilo pulls out a paper with his badness level drawn, Katsuki stares at the little blue alien.

Huh.

Is this what he looks like, to outsiders? Vicious and bad tempered, performing tricks, fine sometimes and a mess others… not worth keeping? Katsuki pulls the blanket tighter around himself, frowning. He's not sure he likes this movie.

Half an hour later, when Deku’s sobbing as Nani sings Aloha ’Oe and Katsuki's own face is wet with tears, he really doesn't like this movie. This is bullshit. Lilo and Nani don't deserve this, and Stitch is trying to be better and only just figuring it out and they're being torn apart. It isn't fair.

Deku passes him the box of tissues after taking a few of his own, sniffling, and Katsuki takes them without a word.

The movie ends happily, at least. Stitch finds a family and a happy home, Lilo and Nani live happily ever after, Hawai’i stays beautiful, and the extremely gay aliens are very gay together. It's very touching. Katsuki isn't sure if he wants to watch the movie on repeat or never feel so strongly about family bonds again.

“You came,” Deku says suddenly, still staring at the screen as the credits roll.

“What?” Katsuki looks over to him.

“To help. You came to help me when you saw I was out numbered at school.” Deku gives him a sidelong look. “Guess your badness level isn’t as high as it could be.”

Katsuki flips him off, and burrows down in the couch to get some rest. But Deku brings him a bowl of katsudon, ruffling his hair as he does, and grins instead of flinches when Katsuki growls out of habit. Katsuki takes a nap, and when dinner time rolls around he gets up and makes chicken kaarage and chirashi sushi in elegant shapes to prove he can and take some weight off of Auntie.

She comes home looking tired, and gives him a wan but grateful smile.

“Katsuki-kun, if you'd come with me?” She says once they've eaten dinner. “We need to get you some different clothes, Izuku's don't fit at all. Some shops are still open.”

Guilt isn't a new emotion, but the sting of shopping with someone else's money for pre-worn clothes is. Katsuki gets his first introduction to second hand stores that evening, following behind Auntie as she turns a critical eye over pants and shirts of varying styles and has him try on a small mountain of clothes to find things that fit decently or can be adjusted. She has a good eye for style, and outfits him well. He supposes it makes sense- Inko was once a model as well, she knows how to make anything work.

“We'll modify some of this,” she says as he tries a long sleeved Oxford. “Judging by your father, you have a bit of height left to grow into, and the last of that baby fat will shift and change your body a little here and there. If I have to guess, your hips will stay slim but your shoulders will grow a bit more broad.” She eyes the construction of a t-shirt with a critical eye. “I'll need to teach you how to tailor your clothes, you’ll not be going to work looking like you dress in sacks after you graduate.”

“I’m not staying in school, Auntie, I have to get back to work-”

The look Auntie gives him is one of pure iron, and it takes everything in him not to run. “Bakugou Katsuki, you will graduate if it’s the last thing I do on this Earth. Don’t you dare throw away your future because someone else thinks they can spit on it.”

“Yes, Auntie,” he says faintly.

She smiles, the stormcloud passing, and hands him a suit that’s definitely too big but is an excellent navy blue. “Try this, let’s see the color on you.”

It’s a good color, they agree, striking without being overwhelming. The pant legs are a bit broad but they’re long enough for him, and Auntie nods in approval.

“So when you say tailoring,” Katsuki says as she leads him back to the knicknacks to see if a pair of cufflinks could be located, “You mean like Deku does. Sewing and shit. That’s a lot to learn.”

She looks up at him, not unsympathetic to the nerves in his voice. “Katsuki-kun, your life is going to be very different from now on. It's going to be quite some time before you can return to the lifestyle you once lead. So I'll do the best I can to help you adjust to it, and find some peace in this new existence. No one ever said it wouldn’t be difficult, but I think you’re up to the challenge.”

He leaves the store with a modest amount of clothes, is dragged to another for new underwear and socks, and Inko picks up a used trunk with a lock from a little side shop and gets a changing screen thrown in for free. They stick it all in her little Honda and Katsuki stares out the window as they drive back to the apartment.

When they arrive, Auntie takes a deep breath, and he warily looks over.

“Katsuki-kun,” she says, “we should talk about yesterday.”

Oh gods. Talking. Katsuki hates talking.

Talking leads to shouting, which leads to fighting, which leads to misery.

But this is Auntie, so talk they do. He tells her, reluctantly, the words wheedled out of him gently, about the kid two years younger than them that Deku had seen being picked on by members of the Judo club. He tells her about looking up from his lunch, watching Deku throw out his arms to help hide the scared little first year, the ugly sound of a backhanded slap. About the panic that welled up, the noise hitting every trigger for his rage, the satisfaction of a fist meeting a jaw, the taste of copper when his lip split and Deku's snarl of fury when he took a kick to his already sore ribs.

Inko asks him why he stepped in.

And Katsuki falls silent.

He knows why.

It's an ugly, tangled up knot, his feelings about Deku, but that sound. That fucking sound, he can't bear to hear it. The thunderclap of a slap sends his adrenaline spiking hard, and besides, Deku's his rival, his to fight with and his to beat and his to badger. It's a disgusting mix of possessiveness and fury. They don't get to hurt Deku, especially not now.

Things have to change but… He can't say it.

Inko gently pats his cheek, and helps him take his things inside so he can start learning the fine art of tailoring.

Later, he realizes that that’s the day that things really start to change for the better, but he still just about rips Deku's head off when Inko brings home a fluffy, handmade Stitch plushie for Katsuki a couple weeks later.

Some things never change.

And if he sleeps with it religiously, no one has to know.

oOo

Katsuki's door bangs open at 8:13 AM, announcing the arrival of Deku with all the subtlety and tact of a herd of rhinos.

Katsuki's apartment is a little nicer than most, but laid out strangely. The genkan opens to a hallway that runs right to left- the bathroom and bedroom to the right, the living room, balcony, and kitchen area to the left. Deku stalks inside without looking over and throws himself on the couch. His jacket gets tossed onto a chair at the kitchen table. Katsuki, in the kitchen and working on an extremely complicated dish requiring four different knives and a wok that's seen better days, raises an unimpressed eyebrow at the back of his head.

“I didn't die, but also, it was a really shitty night,” Deku announces, looking for his remote on the coffee table. He still hasn't turned around to face the kitchen area.

“I really don't care.” Katsuki picks up a plastic plate holding a bunch of greens, eyeing them critically. They could be better chopped. His knife work is getting sloppy.

Deku turns to look at him, face still scrunched up. “Kacchan, you know I hate to say this more than anything in the world, but you were probably right.”

Katsuki drops the plate. Thankfully it lands on the counter with minimal jostling, but his eyes are fixed on Deku's face. “What the fuck happened to you?”

“Well, I went with Shindou to another party,” Deku says, and there's the slightest hint of a tremor in his voice. “And things maybe got out of hand.”

Maybe?!”

Deku's face is mostly fine, except for a split lower lip, but there's handprints in a collar around his neck. They're ugly, thick and purple, someone's fingers clearly imprinted on his skin. Someone strangled him, not safely, and for a brief moment Katsuki can hear the sound of a fist meeting skin. His hands tremble as Deku tugs at his shirt collar, looking away.

“What the fuck,” Katsuki breathes. “Deku, what...”

“It's fine, mostly,” Deku says, and smiles. It's not a real smile, just a baring of teeth, and it's horrifying to look at. His eyes aren't exactly dead, but they don't look good. “And it wasn't Shindou who did this, I lost track of him and got caught up with some other guy who had um. A thing. Y'know. Shindou helped me home last night actually, he was really upset, but I only passed out a little and the guy apologized after? I guess he didn't really know what he was doing.”

Katsuki hates feeling helpless. He hates it more than he can ever possibly put into words. And right now, he is completely helpless. Everything is out of his control.

Katsuki slams the lid down on the wok, bracing his arms on the counter. He takes a slow, deep breath against the simmering rage in his chest.

“Are we doing this now?” Deku mutters, face falling and voice dark and vindictive, and Katsuki has fucking had it.

“Yes!” He snaps, turning around. “Apparently. Fine, let's fucking go. Let's have this fucking fight, because I'm sick and tired of this.”

“Oh, you're sick and tired of it,” Deku says, rolling his eyes as he gets up. “Sure. You know what? You've been trying to control me for weeks now. You want to know where I am, you hold my things hostage, I know you've been talking to Okaa-san about me. So now because you're uncomfortable I have to stop doing something?”

Katsuki flicks the stove off with hands that shake with the desire to pummel, to strangle, to fight. “Yeah, because I can't fucking keep doing this,” he hisses, and slams them on the counter to keep from throwing something. “What, you think I like seeing you walking in here and looking like my fucking dad every couple days? I hated your boyfriend because he was boring as fuck, but at least he wasn't beating you! Fuck, it's like going back in time and seeing him every time you walk in here with some stupid smile on your face and bruises everywhere. Forgive me for wanting to make sure you don't get with some psychopath who kills you in an alley. You need fucking therapy, this isn't okay!”

“I don't need therapy,” Deku hisses, pulling his jacket off the chair. “Don't project on me-”

“I'm not fucking projecting!” Katsuki wants to punch things, hit things, make this stop and make it hurt, but he shoves that rage down as hard as he can. He's not that person. He's not his mother and he's not some fifteen year old punk. He's not going to hurt Deku, not again. Not outside of the ring, where there are rules and order in the chaos. He is not going to let it get out of control. This is a long time coming and he's not going to fuck it up any more than he already has. “I've been in and out of counseling and therapy and psych wards since I was eleven fucking years old, Deku, I think I know what projecting fucking looks like at this point, and this isn't it! It shouldn't fucking be my job to make sure Auntie's not crying because you've gone and picked up some asshole who'll beat you up if you ask nicely again-”

Deku's eyes blaze with anger. “You leave that out of this. This is about you-”

“No, it's not! Not this time!” Katsuki drags a hand through his hair, tugging hard so his fists don't turn outwards. The anger doesn't get to win. He has to channel it, direct it, move it into new positions. He has to stay in control. “This time, it's you. Because I do a lot of shit I don't like thinking about, I do, and I'm sorry that I've been controlling. That's on me, and it's wrong, and I will work on it. But this is about you coming here with fucking bruises and acting like it's nothing, and you know, I'd get it if you were a masochist. But you aren't. And I fucking know that, I know you hate getting hurt, I know how much you hate healing, and this isn't okay. This is self harm, but you're making someone else do the dirty work of it.”

“Fuck you,” Deku says, cold and sincere. His knuckles are white, the fabric of the jacket nearly tearing. “Fuck you, Kacchan, you don't get to pull that line on me.”

“Tell me I'm wrong, then,” Katsuki snaps. “Tell me I'm wrong and you like it, and mean it, and I'll let it go.”

Deku's lips press into a thin, hard line. The split opens again, a bit of blood trickling down his chin.

“Yeah,” Katsuki says harshly, “that's what I fucking thought. Just... just fucking look at yourself! What the fuck do you have about even trying therapy!?”

“Because I don't know if I'm going to like the person who walks out of there!”

They stare at each other, both breathing heavy, and Deku's eyes are shiny with unshed tears. He never can argue without crying.

“You think I don't know what they'll say when I go in there?” Deku demands, gesturing wildly. “You think- you think they aren't going to tell me everything I already know? My whole fucking life has been built on trauma after trauma, half of which belong to you torturing me for most of our childhood! And I have to walk in there and talk to someone and justify to them, who haven't met you and only know my part of the story that I have never been able to cut you out of my life and I don't want to! I have to tell them all of it, all of the horrible stuff that I lived with every day and try and get over because we both- we both deserve better than who we were, I know that, but fuck. I'm not going to sit there and listen to them say I should get rid of you because I watched every single fucking day we were together and saw you being beaten and kicked and roughed up. And you came to me, after everything. I refuse to regret begging Okaa-san to let you stay, because I wasn't going to let you go through anything half as bad as I have. I've-I've-I've starved myself and bled and taken so much verbal abuse and let people do awful things to me and I don't want to tell anyone about it because it's sick and I'm sick and I don't know that if they try to make me better there'll be anything that's me left.”

Silence falls, and Deku's mouth trembles. His jacket drops to the floor as he puts his hands over his mouth, as if wanting to swallow the words back down, but they're out in the open now. They hang in the air, ugly things. Ugly truths, unacknowledged til now.

Deku slides to the floor like a puppet with cut strings, and all the fight goes out of Katsuki as big, fat tears splatter onto the floor. Katsuki walks out of the kitchen and Deku scrambles back so he's up against the wall, curling away from him like he expects a kick.

Katsuki sits down next to him, staring at the floor.

“Gods, we're so fucking sick,” Deku whispers, and the tears start falling even faster. “We're sick, we're not good for each other. But I don't want... I don't want to cut you out.”

“I don't care,” Katsuki says, body numb. His heart is going wild in his chest. “If- If that's what it means. To fix all the bits that got broken, I don't care. Even if it costs me you, and Auntie, and... and having anything like a family. It's worth giving that up if you can start to heal. It's better for everyone that way.”

“Don't say that,” Deku hiccups, scrubbing at his eyes.

“I mean it,” Katsuki says, staring at the floor. He pulls his knees to his chest, resting his chin on them as he hugs them tight. “It was bad. I know it was bad now. The shit I was- The shit I was going through and what happened that night, it might explain it but it doesn't fucking excuse it. I don't get to make excuses, so you sure as fuck don't get to make up excuses for me. If that's what's best, that's what we'll do. And maybe it's what I should've done, should've just... cut contact or whatever-”

Even as he says it, it feels wrong.

“Maybe that would have been the right thing at one time,” Deku says, “but not any more.” The tears spill over fresh again, and he gulps down air.

Katsuki's own eyes are prickling, and he closes them tight.

Deku shakes his head, wiping the tears away. “I don't think I can do it.”

“Do what?”

He lets out a broken little laugh. “Untangle it all. I don't want to be remade all over again.”

Katsuki leans his head back against the wall, tipping it to look up at the ceiling. This is, horribly enough, probably the best and worst fight they've ever had. There isn't any broken glass this time, and they haven't hit each other, and nothing's on fire. What a low fucking bar for communication. “That's not what it fucking does. It's not... you don't just hand yourself over to someone and tell them to remake you. It just gives you a way to come to peace with shit and work through it until you know how you feel without all that other bullshit bogging you down. You're still you. You just start healing the bits you didn't know were broken.”

He gets up, going to the coat closet and fishing the business card out of his wallet. He brings it back, giving it to Deku, who looks at it.

“Aizawa recommended him. Mine wouldn't be any good for you.”

He sits back down again as Deku reads the information on it.

Silence falls again, only Deku's sniffles breaking the silence.

“Would you...” Deku's voice cracks and breaks. “Can you take me. Drive me or go with me, I mean. I'll talk myself out of it if someone doesn't make me go. I don't want anyone else to know about this except Okaa-san and Toshinori-san. ”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, the wave of relief enough that it would have sent him staggering. “Yeah, I'll take you.”

After a shower, Deku patches himself up and Katsuki helps him with his split lip in silence. Brunch is finished and they eat together without a word, both too exhausted to speak any more than they already have. The hours pass by without a noise from either of them. Deku, dressed in clothes Inko once bought for Katsuki years ago, putters around his house. He cleans up the kitchen while Katsuki hunts around in his DVD collection.

He joins him on the couch when Katsuki starts the movie, pulling one of Katsuki's ultra soft blankets over himself.

“What are we watching?”

“Lilo and Stitch.”

Deku immediately gets up, and returns a minute later with two boxes of tissues. Katsuki takes one without a word.

It's a very long day.

oOo

Katsuki's been to a lot of different therapist and doctor's offices in his life, but this one is particularly uncomfortable for him. He's going to spend an entire hour sitting in a waiting room in a very, very fucking nice office clear the fuck at the very edge of Suginami Ward while Deku talks to a therapist for the first time. He's going to sit there in silence, while a receptionist in this very nice building works at her desk, and he's going to stare into space, bored shitless.

This is the worst.

Deku's practically vibrating next to him as they wait, twisting his hands together like he's trying to rip them off. It's the first time he's ever called out of work, though Toshinori had practically fallen over himself to give him the day off, and he's been muttering since they arrived. Katsuki's temper is being held down on its short leash, and he's practicing breathing exercises so he doesn't snap at Deku. The mumbling is annoying, but it's soothing for him, and Katsuki doesn't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to self soothing. He lights shit on fire to calm down, Deku can mumble all he fucking wants. So long as he actually goes to this fucking appointment.

A door opens and Mizushima himself appears. He looks incredibly bland and normal, utterly unthreatening, but Deku goes so stiff he might as well be holding a gun and a cattle prod.

“Midoriya Izuku?”

Deku flinches, frantically turning to look at Katsuki. “Kacchan-”

"I didn't drag you all the way from the middle of fucking Setagaya to have cold feet," Katsuki signs, glaring. "He's not going to hurt you. If he's Hannibal Lecter just scream and I'll come burn the place down. You're fine."

Weirdly, that makes Deku relax, and he gets up on shaking legs to join Mizushima in his office. The door closes with a click. Katsuki sighs, rubbing his forehead.

Text to: Auntie
he just went in

Text from: Auntie
I will make as much curry as you like for as long as you want, Katsuki-kun.
Thank you.

Katsuki's heart about breaks as he reads that text. Auntie has no reason to be thanking him, he's part of the reason Deku's in therapy in the first place. Gods, this fucking sucks.

His phone buzzes against his leg, alerting him to another text.

Text from: Aizawa
Gang Orca got in contact with us, they want you to do a shoot with Utsushimi for a fragrance line.
Thoughts?

Oh, shit. He forgot that Gang Orca was due to call on him again. But Camie's back in the country, so it makes sense. Sakamata likes working with both of them- he has a thing for natural blondes.

Text to: Aizawa
yeah sure.

Text from: Aizawa
Good. I'll get everything arranged.
How's Midoriya doing, Shinsou informed me that he called out.

Katsuki considers telling Aizawa to fuck off for assuming he'd know where Deku is but… for one thing, Aizawa is terrifying, and for another, he's too tired to really fight right now. Aizawa was the one who managed to get both of them out of the worst contract of their lives and into safer ones when they were younger, and has a bit of a soft spot for problem children. But Deku would be mortified if Aizawa knew where he was, and honestly, it’s none of his business.

Text to: Aizawa
he's not dead yet.

Yeah, that's good enough.

The rest of the hour passes as slow as he expected, and he spends the time catching up on an article from an academic journal he subscribes to about ancient Chinese firework displays during the reign of the Song dynasty, which is interesting enough to keep him from climbing the walls and also has some chemistry speculations in it that he finds worth his time. By the time the clock on his phone announces the hour is up, he feels much more at ease and ready to take on the rest of the day. He puts the phone away and looks up, waiting for the doors to open.

Deku leaves the office looking very pale. He gives Katsuki a small, strained smile, does some paperwork with the receptionist, and all but bolts out the door.

“How was it?” Katsuki asks at last as they stand at the station to wait. It's a nice day with just a bit of a bite in the air. Katsuki leans back on a massive stone planter box with petunias in it, and looks up at the sky.

Deku stares at the ground, bites his lip. “He's... nice. I guess. We're scheduled for every Sunday for two months and then we'll see about every other Sunday but he uh. He wants me to come in pretty often. Apparently Toshinori-san called in some favors.” He fidgets, tugging at his sleeves and scratching at his face. Nerves. “Is it... Um. How often...”

“I go every other week unless I need more,” Katsuki says bluntly, watching down the tracks. The train has yet to come.

Deku nods. “He said, um. If you'd be willing? It might be good in a while, like, a long while, if we did... a session together. Maybe. Um.”

It's weird, talking to Deku like this. After years of living together, fighting together, going to dojos and bitching at each other, Deku's got a mouth on him that he only lets loose around Katsuki. He knows he can be a little mean and Katsuki can take it, will take it, without complaining. They're more physical with each other now, in healthier ways- pushing and shoving and wrestling without intent to injure for the best spots on the couch, arguing about who has to do dishes at Aunties house, even going together to the laundromat to get the most worth out of their money. It's like several steps back into the past, hearing him talk like this.

“Nothing's changed,” Katsuki says, shoving his hands in his jacket pockets.

“...What?”

Katsuki doesn't look at him, just watches the cherry blossom tree across the street dance in the wind. “We haven't changed. We're the same people. We've still got all that history and whatever between us, okay? I'm not different, you're not different, all we're doing now is just... talking. More. We both knew that shit was going to change for us, it always does, so don't worry about it. Things change, and keep changing, and then change some more all the time with us.”

“.....Oh. Okay.”

They fall silent again, and for once it's quiet enough for Katsuki to hear birds chirping. He takes a deep breath of spring air, feeling it rush into his lungs.

Everything changes.

“I'll go,” he says, “when it's time. We can talk with him. And maybe we should talk with mine, too.”

Deku leans against the planter box with him, and gently bumps their shoulders together.

It's enough.

oOo

Aizawa calls him into his office late Tuesday afternoon with paperwork and information about the now definitely happening Gang Orca shoot. He’s on the phone when Katsuki arrives, rubbing his forehead, a bottle of eye drops on his desk and a frown on his face.

“As I have just repeatedly told you, his measurements haven’t changed.” He picks up the eye drops, opening the cap. “I- Fine. I’ll have them redone entirely just in case. No, I don’t care. I have no idea who that would be, and again, I do not care. Just send the damn tickets and we’ll make it work. Yes. Goodbye.”

He all but slams the phone down, buries his face in his hands, and lets out a faint, furious scream.

“That good, huh,” Katsuki says when Aizawa resurfaces and reaches for the eyedrops again.

“Gang Orca’s team are all well dressed idiots and I am at the end of my patience with them. The shoot is happening this coming Monday in Okinawa, so please endeavor not to fuck up your body in the meantime,” Aizawa says, grimacing as he blinks the drops onto his eyes. “Ow. You're wanted up at Fatgum when you get a moment, Amajiki-san requested you come up. Something about color tones. Have them do your measurements while you're there, all the standards.”

Aizawa's clearly in a bad mood and Katsuki decides not to press it since he doesn't have a death wish. He escapes the office as Purple Hair walks in, giving him a dry once over. Aizawa's pet intern is a bit of an asshole. Katsuki can respect that.

He heads up to the 28th floor, elevator music cutting in and out of his hearing as he goes, and he grimaces at the loud bing of the doors opening. The receptionist nods at him as he walks up.

“Bakugou Katsuki, someone called Ama-something wanted me?”

She nods, writing something down on a piece of paper. “Amajiki-san is in the studio. Do you know the way back?”

A hand comes into his peripheral, decked with several thin metal bracelets in silver tones. “I'll take him!”

Katsuki closes his eyes, bracing himself as he turns towards the voice.

“What are you doing?” Kirishima laughs in the darkness.

“If I don't open my eyes, you won't be wearing something stupid.”

Kirishima laughs again, and Katsuki reluctantly opens his eyes.

Oh fuck.

Oh fuck.

Kirishima is a tall man to start with, but in the same red shoes as before he's nearly 6’3”. He’s wearing long, dangling fake diamond chandelier earrings, and a black leather choker with an O ring in the center as his accessories. But the main outfit is near obscene. A pure white pair of palazzo pants with pleats fall nearly to the floor, and a matching white, midriff baring, low cut shirt tight to his body reveals the sheer bulk of his arms and torso.

Holy shit.

Katsuki has been staring much too long, and Kirishima's expression is turning smug. He puts his hands in his pockets, obviously preening a little.

“Like it?” Kirishima is definitely smug.

“You look like a redheaded Celine Dion wanna be,” Katsuki says, eyes trailing over the look. It's pretty damn weak as rebuttals go but to be fair, this is. A lot. “And your skin tone is better with gold than silver.”

Kirishima laughs, reaching up to fiddle with an earring. His top moves with him, making the cleavage there stand out even more, and Katsuki suddenly understands the fascination most men have with tits. He kind of wants to bite them, and that smooth curve of hip, and the edge of that goddamn Adonis belt, and fuuuuuck feelings are so stupid.

“Don't worry, I'll be back to fun outfits next week,” Kirishima says, waving him in and down a hall. There aren't a lot of people taller than Katsuki and the height is messing with him. “We're in the middle of a budget crisis again and I'm going to be in and out of meetings all week so I have to look nice.”

“Why not just wear a suit then?”

Kirishima flashes him a spiky toothed grin. “Fat wants me to be distracting to the investors.”

Sneaky. Also very effective. The sheer amount of cleavage Kirishima is showing would be enough to distract anyone. His skin has tanned a bit thanks to the Cementoss shoot, smooth and even. He's ridiculously pretty and Katsuki has no idea where to look.

Amajiki is dressed in all black, a sleek and perfectly fitted suit with black chain epaulets and a pretty little choker around his neck. He looks like he's a stiff wind away from a mental breakdown, and shakes a little as he picks up several sheer mesh fabrics in flesh tones to check against Katsuki's bare chest. This devolves into an argument among the seamstresses and designers about which one is an exact match, and Katsuki tunes out when Kirishima leaves the room. An hour later, he’s been stuck as a living mannequin in a hakama that's been modified half to death and what appears to be some sort of necklace that's also, by the loosest definition, a shirt. He has no idea how this happened but fuck it, he's not doing anything else today and Kirishima hasn't come back yet. Amajiki is passionately arguing against something to do with orange, and a tall woman is arguing for.

Kirishima's sky high hair comes through the door, and Katsuki slumps, relieved. Kirishima stares at the scene, taking in Amajiki’s waving arms, the seamstress waving a scrap of orange fabric, and Katsuki's long-suffering expression before bursting out laughing and coming to help him out of the clothes. He pulls him off to the side, helping him take the complicated hakama ties off and undoing the latches of the shirt-necklace.

Katsuki sighs with relief when he's stripped down again, far from body shy after nearly 20 years of modelling. “I need my measurements done again too.”

“Oh, sure!”

Katsuki's never liked having his measurements taken. He doesn't like being touched on the best of days, and while he's more than used to people flicking measuring tapes around him and critiquing the size of his muscles and the shape of each finger, that doesn't mean he likes it. But Kirishima's good at it. He doesn't feel uncomfortable or annoyed as Kirishima chatters away, measuring everything and talking absently about having lunch with someone called Tetsu who seems to be a good friend of his. Katsuki relaxes as he does, feeling some of the stress of the day ease away. He can't quite help looking down at Kirishima as he kneels to measure his inseam.

He fills the top out very well. Fuck.

Seriously, how much can this guy lift?

Measurements taken and sent off to Aizawa, Katsuki is given his things back at last.

“There was actually something I wanted to ask you about,” Kirishima says, and Katsuki nearly puts his arm through the fabric, instead of the sleeve as his heart heads directly to the Olympic vaulting stations of hope. Katsuki squishes the thought like a bug. Feelings are so stupid.

“You know Midoriya-kun from All Might, right?” Kirishima asks, his smile fading a little.

Katsuki’s mouth twists in annoyance. “Since I was four, unfortunately.”

“Oh, wow, that’s a while. Um… do you know if he’s dating anyone?”

Katsuki’s fingers stumble on buttoning his shirt. It’s a pretty simple question, but it feels a little like someone’s just slipped knife between his ribs and into his heart.

Of course. Of course Kirishima would like him instead.

And today was going so well.

“Why?” Katsuki grinds out, forcing his fingers to cooperate as he finishes the buttons.

Kirishima sighs, rubbing at the back of his neck. His heart does something painful and complicated in his chest at Kirishima's worried expression, and he looks away. “I dunno, I’ve just seen him with some bruises and now he’s got this nasty split lip… It looks bad, man. I asked him about it before but he said he wasn’t dating anyone. I’m just worried that he might have someone who's, y'know. Hurting him.”

“He’s fine,” Katsuki says flatly. “Trust me, it’s stupid fucking complicated bullshit and he’s dealing with it, but he won’t be coming in with any more bruises any time soon, unless I like… deck him while we’re sparring or something.”

“...Sparring?”

Katsuki just looks at him, not bothering to respond. Kirishima gets the hint and doesn’t press further.

“I should go,” Katsuki says, grabbing his jacket off the chair. He feels… how does he feel? Use your words, Bakugou-san, his therapists voice says in his head. Embarrassed, a little. Sad. Upset. Disappointed, too. He needs to go home and work on his figures and never, ever think about having feelings for another human being again.

Kirishima frowns, standing up. In the slight heels he’s even taller than normal, broad and powerful. Katsuki feels like if he touched the white of his clothes it would come away filthy, and his fingers twitch away, curling in against himself. “Hey… you okay? Is it something I said?”

Honesty is the best policy, but Katsuki doesn’t really care right now. He decides to deflect.

“He’s not looking to date for a while,” he says flatly, pulling his jacket on. “You’re not going to have much luck.”

Kirishima stares at him. “...What?”

“He doesn’t really want to date right now,” Katsuki repeats, brushing down his jacket and checking his phone. Camie’s texting again. He’ll read it later. “He’d be a shitty boyfriend anyway. I’m out.”

He doesn’t quite flee from the room, but it’s a close thing. The elevator comes quickly, at least, and as soon as he’s on it he jabs the “close door” button and leans against the back wall. The hot wash of shame crashes into him and he bites his lip, hard. Of course. He can’t just have one thing in his life that’s just for him. At least this means he’ll be able to rip out these stupid fucking feelings and put them in the dirt where they belong. He’ll bury them deep, and never feel like this again, and go back to his normal life where he doesn’t want to hold hands or kiss people or think stupid sappy thoughts.

Which, of course, is when his phone buzzes.

Text from: Deku
Do you have any of that really good bruise cream left?
Scarves are in but this is annoying

Katsuki texts back the cabinet it's in without thinking, then pulls up the little location map as an afterthought. His stomach sinks, bad mood increasing.

Deku’s apparently at his apartment.

Katsuki can’t do this. Not right now, not after they just had such a big fight, he cannot handle Deku’s emotions and his own while he wants to beat up the world for making him feel this shitty. He can’t go home right now and look at Deku and think about Kirishima asking about him and think about Kirishima in general. Fuck.

Text to: Deku
Don’t fuck up my house. Staying with Auntie tonight.
I don’t want to see you until sunday, not in a good place and I’m not up to fight again yet

That’ll have to be good enough for now.  

He gets on the bus and turns his phone off.

Auntie’s house is in Nerima, specifically the Oizumi Machi district. It’s a quiet place; suburban, a few parks, decent schools, mostly apartments but some houses. His parents old house is here as well, though it’s on the other edge of the district. He’s not actually sure where they live now. It takes him a little over an hour to get from Roppongi in Minato to her home, trudging up the stairs to the third floor. The ‘Midoriya’ sign is faded by the door, and he gently touches it as he hesitates in front of the door. He should bring some of his paints and fix it when he’s here next. Maybe repaint the door frame as well, the paint is peeling on that too.

Inko is so small. Such a gentle, non-threatening woman, almost a foot shorter than him and quiet as a mouse, and yet she’s got the strength of a lion hiding behind those mild manners and quick smiles. Over and over, she’s fought for them, and bandaged their wounds, and gently scolded them and helped with homework and been everything a mother should be, even to the cuckoo who invaded her nest.

Katsuki’s head gently falls onto the door, his hand still touching the sign as his vision starts to swim.

He’s just so tired. He’s tired, and he’s starving for maternal affection and reassurance, and he wants to never feel attracted to another human again.

The door unlocks and opens, and he almost falls forward.

“Ah, Katsuki-kun!”

She sounds genuinely happy to see him.

He’s so, so tired.

“Hi, Auntie,” he says quietly. He steps inside, past her, and kicks off his shoes in the genkan. She shuts the door, turning around, and Katsuki lets his head thump onto her shoulder. His eyes are wet. “I’m home.”

He can feel her surprise, and squeezes his eyes shut tight when she wraps her arms around him in a hug. She’s deceptively strong for someone so tiny, and his breathing hitches as the feeling of being safe washes over him. He carefully reaches up to hug her back, always so nervous with his own strength.

“Katsuki-kun,” she says, so gentle, “is something wrong?”

That’s what does it.

Years of conditioning means that he cries in complete silence. He never makes a sound when he cries, not even a loud inhale. He just shakes and falls apart, endless tears running down his face.

Bakugou Katsuki, far past the end of his rope and terribly overwhelmed, has had enough.

Chapter Text

Eijirou meets up with Mina for lunch at a tiny hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant on Wednesday, and resists the urge to day drink. He's had a long, difficult day as the budget meetings progressed, and while it looks like everything's going to be cleared up soon, his head is spinning from the sheer amount of numbers and complicated legal work that's been flying around the room. Fat's insisted that he stay with him until it's finished, determined that he learn everything there is to know about negotiations, but Eijiou is tired and stiff and has every intention of demolishing the all you can eat platters.

He's dressed a little more plain today, in black slacks and a floral shirt opened four buttons down and rolled up to the elbows, a gold choker with a turtle clasp and thin chain locked shut around his throat. He looks about as gay as possible in a business setting, and has been thoroughly enjoying flustering the investors the past few days. It looks like they'll reach the end of negotiations on Friday at the soonest, and he is tired.

And, to top it all off, he has to figure out what's going on with Bakugou.

“You look awful,” Mina says bluntly, and giggles when he makes a face at her. “What? It's true! You look so tired, Kiri, what's up?”

“Budgeting is the worst,” he says, and Mina nods sagely. “Meetings are even more worse.”

“Amen.”

They clink their water glasses, and Eijirou just about moans as he eats the first bite of food. He's not had time to go and raid the food in the office and the sushi is sublime.

“Hey, question for you,” he says, putting his chopsticks aside after he's gorged on a roll.

“What?” Mina picks up her water.

“Midoriya and Bakugou. Are they exes or something?”

Mina chokes on her drink, spluttering with laughter. “Oh my god, Kiri, please don't ever say that in front of Bakugou.”

Eijirou rubs the back of his neck, embarrassed. “I was just wondering...”

“They're...Or something,” Mina says, putting down her drink and wincing a little. “They have a weird relationship. They're like... I don't know. Really competitive brothers? Rivals? Something. I don't think anyone really knows what's going on with them, but they definitely aren't exes. Look, Kiri... Bakugou doesn't talk about his personal life. It took me a year just to get him to come hang out with us. We've been friends since we were 18, and I've never even been in his apartment. I know where his building is, but he's never let anyone go over. Okay? Midoriya worked here in the summers running errands around the building for people, and that's literally the only reason I know they even know each other. They don't talk about each other, they barely talk to each other sometimes. It's complicated and weird and I don't think anyone's ever going to really know the whole story.”

Eijirou leans back in his chair, more confused than ever. “Huh.”

“Why are you even asking?” Mina steals a piece of unagi from his plate, popping it in her mouth.

“...Midoriya has bruises.” Eijirou fiddles with his chopsticks, looking down at the plate. “Bad ones. I freaked out a little, because, y'know. Abuse is scary shit and I wanted to make sure he was okay. So I asked Bakugou about it and he took it the wrong way, and now I have to figure out how to fix it.”

“When you say took it the wrong way...”

“He thought I wanted to date Midoriya.”

“Oh. Woops.” Mina snickers. “I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

“Yeaaah. I need to clear things up with him but he’s avoiding me, so I’ve got to corner him to get him to talk. Especially if he’s got some weird history with Midoriya, I want to clear the air.” He drums his fingers on the table, frowning. “Now I just have to figure out how.”

“Pssh.” Mina waves a hand, grinning and pulling out her phone. “I'll just have Sero and Kami sit on him.”

“Somehow I see that going badly.”

Mina just grins at him, tapping out a quick message. “I’m sure it’ll be fine, Kiri. So… you’re interested in dating him?”

Eijirou picks up his drink, weighing his options before saying, “I don’t know.” At her surprised expression, he clarifies, “I wouldn’t hate it, I don’t think, but it’s been a while for me, and we… we have some things to talk about before we could ever even try. It’s not like it’s complicated, it’s just… up in the air.”

Mina gives him a long look, putting the phone down and lacing her fingers together. “That’s fair.” She sighs, and decides to take pity on him. “How’s your parents?”

Eijirou fiddles with his chopsticks. “Okaa-san’s great, she’s headed to Italy pretty soon to shoot for Vogue Italy’s center piece on the new lead designer over at Alexander McQueen.”

“What about Akane?”

Eijirou stares at the table.

Mina goes quiet for a moment. “Kiri… did something happen with Akane-san?”

“It’s nothing,” he says quietly. “I don’t wanna talk about it. Not right now at least, I mean, I do want to talk about it but I don’t think I can do that right now. Can we talk about bad tv or something?”

Mina reaches over to take his hand, and Eijirou feels the harsh sting of tears against his eyes and hurries to brush them away with his free hand. “Sure, babe. Eikkun… you’ve got a lot on your plate right now, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” he croaks out, finally looking up at her. “I really missed you, Mina.”

“Oh great, now I’m gonna cry.”

They manage to get through lunch without anything further happening, and Eijirou heads to floor 10. Fat’s studio has sketches on the whiteboard now, some of his more avant garde pieces that he’s still not sure about. Something’s not quite right about them, and he pulls his phone out of his pocket and pulls up Akaa-san’s number. It stares innocently back at him and he bites his lip, sitting down on the edge of a table and looking at it.

In the end, he locks his phone and shoves it back in his pocket. He needs to get to work.

oOo

The budget meeting resolves itself in a very unexpected way the following morning. Eijirou whistles a little as he heads for the board room, braced for yet another long day of listening to people argue and taking notes. He's not yet dressed for work- one of the seamstresses has confiscated his ugliest floral suit to tailor it to him properly since it's oversized- and he's rounding the corner to pick it up when he runs into the back of a massive, rail thin man.

Who, as it turns out, must be made out of pure steel, because Eijirou bounces off of him and falls over.

“Oh! My apologies!” A deep, booming voice says, and Eijirou looks up into the smiling, skeletal face of Yagi Toshinori.

His brain freezes.

“I'msosorry,” he blurts out. “Oh my god.”

“It's not a problem, young Kirishima! It is Kirishima, yes? Toyomitsu-kun said you have wonderful hair and truly he did not exaggerate!” An enormous hand reaches down to help him up, still sturdy and callused.

Yagi Toshinori stands at a towering 6’5, and despite a bout with stomach cancer that's left him terribly thin is an absolute Titan in the flesh. A former Olympic weightlifter, volunteer firefighter, model, and all around good man, the man at the head of All Might is nearly a legend. The same year he became a designer, a train he was on crashed, and he single handedly saved over 50 people as the flames devoured the train. His smile, power, charm, and sheer overwhelming presence had become and remained a symbol of hope for Japan in almost all areas- All Might, his label, becoming synonymous with heroic and vibrant clothes as well as the man himself.

Eijirou’s never seen the man in the flesh before, despite working in the same building, and he can’t help feeling a little star struck.

“Y-yes, sir, I’m Kirishima Eijirou. Ah- where are you headed? Can I escort you? Oh, no, I swear I usually wear better clothes than just shorts and a t-shirt, I was on my way to get changed-”

Yagi-san smiled, big and easy. His smile is absolutely blinding in person, and to be the sole recipient of its weight makes Eijirou feel like he could take on the world and win. “It’s not a problem! I’m joining the meeting shortly, and thought I’d talk to Toyomitsu-kun first! I’ll see you soon, Kirishima-shounen!”

And with that, he waves and ambles down the hall to Fat’s office.

Eijirou bolts to the locker room, where his suit is waiting in all its white and highlighter yellow glory, and frantically throws it into his locker.

“Oh god oh god oh god,” he mutters, and bolts to the studio. Amajiki-senpai is there, already drinking coffee and looking like he’s about to fall apart from stress as Eijirou skids into the room.

“Kirishima, what-”

“Yagi-san is coming to the budget meeting and all I have is the yellow flower suit,” Eijirou blurts out. The four seamstresses and Amajiki-senpai all freeze for a brief moment before pandemonium breaks out.

“You can’t wear that suit,” Tamaki says immediately, practically bolting to a cabinet on the wall. “Rei-san, do we have any formal wear? Anything at all?”

Rei is already rustling through racks of clothes, the other three practically digging through some discarded garments in a corner. It takes approximately a minute to discover that there isn’t a single suit that’ll fit Eijirou without serious tailoring, and while they’re all good at what they do, they don’t have the time to make it work. Amajiki-senpai pulls his phone out of his pocket, hitting something on speed dial and jamming it to his ear as Eijirou tries not to hyperventilate and frantically fixes his hair in a mirror.

“Yes- yes, hello my love, yes- Mirio please, thank you. I need a suit for Kirishima-kun right now. Please. You must have something up there that would fit him- ah, yes-” He pulls the phone down. “Measurements, please.”

Eijirou has his measurements taken in record time, information is relayed, and the race against the clock begins.

Like some sort of bulky green cherub a scant two minutes later, Midoriya swoops into the room with a garment bag held up to keep it from trailing on the floor, arguing with thin air in perfect English. This time, the bluetooth is on, and Midoriya has a face like a storm cloud. He’s got a healing split lip, too, but doesn’t seem to be pained by it.

I don’t care if you have to put me on hold for four hours, I’m not hanging up until you put Ms. Shields on the phone with me,” he says, practically throwing the garment bag to Kirishima. “I’m speaking with the full legal authority of Mr. Yagi, and again, I will absolutely wait a disgusting amount of time to speak with her. However, I will also tell her exactly how long it was until I reached her, so please make a decision on what your story is and let me know.

He presses the bluetooth, and his face eases a little. “Hi, Kirishima-kun! Strip.”

“Uh-”

Midoriya waves a hand at him, flicking his finger up and down in a razor sharp dismissal. “Kirishima-kun, you have exactly nothing that everyone in this room hasn’t seen a million times over. Get in the suit. Yes, I’m still here. Yes, I’ll hold.”

Kirishima, a little red, strips obediently down to the Crimson Riot boxer briefs he’s wearing. Midoriya manages to give him an appreciative once over that has him red before turning away to fuss with something on his phone.

The suit itself is gunmetal gray, a light wool, and fits like a dream. The shirt accompanying it is white, and Midoriya takes the light yellow tie that came with it in the bag away before he can put it on, batting his hands away and looping a navy blue tie around his neck before plucking an equally rich, navy blue pocket square out of nowhere and putting it in the breast pocket. There’s a murmur of approval, but Midoriya frowns.

“This is… fine,” he says, face twitching as his eyebrows furrow. “But not as good as it could be. Putting you in anything slim cut is an insult to those lovely shoulders and chest.” He pulls a small notebook out of his pocket, scrawling something down. “Maybe something deeper cut? English doesn’t do the look justice, no white for the shirts- it’s boring and somehow manages to clash with the hair if done wrong and Yes, still here. Thank you. Maybe instead something patterned even with a bold suit? Armani’s style over Hugo Boss-”

“Uh, Midoriya?” Eijirou says tentatively. Midoriya’s head jerks up.

“Yes, Kirishima-kun?”

“Is there anything I should know about Yagi-san in meetings?”

“OH! Yes, gods- green tea is fine, don’t let him have any red or black tea or any of those little powdered donuts,” Midoriya rattles off. “Do not give him any opportunity to steal those little burgers that Fat-san likes so much, he’s on a very strict diet and doesn’t seem to understand that he doesn’t get cheat days- Yes, still here. Yes. I don’t care if you have to interrupt a goddamn Nobel Prize acceptance speech to get her on the line, she is the only person I’m willing to talk to about this. There’s a reason I’m not going through the damn publicist, and don’t think I didn’t hear your comment about my country earlier.” Midoriya holds up a finger. His accent in English isn’t Japanese, it’s some sort of regional American that Eijirou can’t quite place. “Whaddaya think I am, chopped liver? What part of full legal voice are you not grasping here. Yes, I’ll hold. Anyway, he’s generally pretty good and not too much of a hassle if you can keep him away from the burgers.”

Eijirou stares at him. “Holy shit. Can you just… switch like that?”

“I lived in America for a total of 4 years, I’m fluent by this point,” Midoriya says with an easy smile. “Californians, I swear, the West Coast is so weird- I’ve got to run, I’ll send someone to get him back upstairs later if he’s a handful, bye Kirishima-kun! Wear more blue, it’s great on you!”

And with that Midoriya practically teleports out of the room, and Amajiki-san practically launches him out of the door to get tea for everyone while he himself bolts for the board room. Kirishima barely makes it as the financiers, the Fatgum team, and Fat walk in, and is pouring tea when Yagi-san walks into the room and everyone hurriedly gets to their feet.

“Please,” Yagi-san says, waving his hand, and with some hasty bows everyone sits. Amajiki-senpai stands behind Fat on his left, letting Yagi-san take his seat at Fat’s right hand. Kirishima pours green tea for Yagi-san, who murmurs his thanks, and takes his own seat in the corner to take notes. He pulls the notebook out and grabs his pen as a financier named Chirou starts the meeting. Yagi-san listens silently, hands clasped on the table as the conversation bounces back and forth. Fat comments as needed, pointing out things here and there.

An hour in, and Yagi-san clears his throat. The room goes silent, everyone turning to him with magnetic focus.

Eijirou wants that. He wants the sort of effortless command that Yagi-san embodies, while keeping that gentle nature. He can’t imagine ever being afraid around Yagi-san, but he’s clearly in control and has the power in the room. It’s the kind of regal bearing Eijirou dreams of.

He doesn’t remember the exact words that Yagi-san says. The words aren’t important- it’s how he says it, with gentle reprimand and a turn of phrase that has everyone pausing.

The flow of conversation changes with those few sentences, a different opinion opening up new ideas, and two hours later the budget is settled to everyone’s agreement. The financier’s file out as Kirishima stares in awe. Fat and Amajiki-senpai talk together quietly, thanking Yagi-san for coming to help mediate, and then it’s off to another room for Eijirou to go over his notes with the Fatgum budget people and the PR people and fetch some coffee and then talk to the secretary, and then, finally, he meets back up with Fat to check and see if there’s anything else he’s immediately needed for.

Yagi-san is still there and chatting cheerily with Fat and Amajiki-senpai, who for once looks actually happy to be part of a conversation.

“Amajiki-senpai,” Eijirou says, sliding around Yagi-san to stand next to him, “is there anything you need for now? Otherwise I was going to run to get Fat’s lunch-”

“Oi, Yagi,” Bakugou’s voice calls, thumping footsteps coming down the hall towards them, and Yagi-san turns with a big smile. “Deku’s losing his shit and sent me to get you, come on.”

“Bakugou, my boy! It’s good to see you!”

Kirishima peeks around Yagi-san to see Bakugou in an unfairly good looking pinstripe suit with the shirt open halfway down his chest and black nail polish on fake nails. He looks bored and aloof, but there’s a smile hiding under the cool expression at Yagi-san’s obvious happiness. Yagi-san’s body is almost hiding him, but his hair is inescapable and Bakugou’s face falls. Ouch. But he’s here, and Eijirou is grabbing him while he has a chance.

“C’mon, you’ve got a meeting in 20,” Bakugou says, glancing at his phone.

“Coming, coming,” Yagi-san says, still smiling.

“Ah, Yagi-san, can I borrow Bakugou for a moment,” Eijirou blurts out. Bakugou blanches.

“Oh? I don’t see why not,” Yagi-san says, looking curious. Bakugou braces himself, but Kirishima darts around Yagi and practically drags him into the nearest boardroom before he can bolt. Thankfully, it’s the room with the frosted glass to give them privacy. Bakugou looks about two seconds away from just crashing through the glass to escape, so Eijirou just jumps into it before he can do something drastic.

“I’m not interested in dating Midoriya.”

Bakugou freezes. “What.”

“I don’t want to date him,” Eijirou spills out in a rush. “I don’t. I was worried about him, yeah, and honestly he’s still got me a little worried but I don’t want to date him. He’s not my type. I mean, he kind of is, he looks like he could bench press a car and that kind of works for me, but he’s a bit more cute than I like my men. Uh. Also I’m gay. In case you were wondering.”

Bakugou stares at him as if his entire worldview is shifting, and then very slowly nods. Some of the tension disappears from his shoulders, and his eyes soften just a touch. He shoves his hands in his pockets, eyeing Eijirou carefully, and Eijirou lets out a breath.

“Okay,” Bakugou says, and Eijirou grins.

“We good?”

“Ye-es,” Bakugou says carefully, as if testing the word in his mouth. “We’re good. As long as you don’t pull another stunt like this.”

“Cool. And Bakugou?”

Bakugou cocks his head. “Eh?”

“I can’t read minds, and neither can you,” Eijirou says, stepping in closer to him. Bakugou raises an eyebrow, scowling, but doesn’t fight it when Eijirou touches his arm. “Jumping to conclusions does neither of us any good.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bakugou snaps, cheeks going slightly pink.

“Sure,” Eijirou says easily. “You’re not ready to talk about it, fine.”

“Fuck you,” Bakugou mutters, but there’s that secret smile again, happy where he’d been upset before. He only ever seems to really smile with his eyes, face fixed in cold disapproval or rage. Eijirou wants to kiss him until he smiles, until he laughs, but now is definitely not the time or place. There’s something between them again, something like thread stitching them together, but it’s still fragile.

“I’ll see you around, then?” Eijirou asks.

Bakugou nods, short and sharp. “Sure.”

That’s as good as they’re gonna get right now, and Eijirou smiles as Bakugou leaves the room, quietly fistpumping the air. That’s one problem solved.

Now to fix the one of getting Fat’s lunch order.

After what nearly turns into a fist fight at Fat’s local favorite lunch spot, two near misses of getting hit by a car as he runs across the street, and a cramped set of elevator rides later, Eijirou bursts into Fat’s office holding the bag of lunch aloft like a banner of triumph.

“Your lunch!” he practically yells, knowing he looks extremely disheveled.

Fat grins at him, taking the bag from his hands. “Nice. Question for ya- Want ta go on exchange?”

“What?”

Fat nods at the chair by his desk, and Eijirou sits. “Ya know Gang Orca? Sakamata, the designer, he’s an’ old friend. Every couple’a years, we send each other interns for a week. Mine ta Okinawa with him, his ta Tokyo with me. We’re different people, sure, but we’re good friends, and it’s a good learnin’ experience. It’s short notice but he called up and let me know he’s doin’ a fragrance release in a week, thought it might be interestin’ to you to go watch the process. Might be good for you ta get some inspiration too.”

Eijirou gapes at him. “Uh, yeah, I’d love to go! I’ve never been to Okinawa and even if it’s just to work that’d be so cool!”

“Great!” Fat’s smile seems weirdly… smug? “You’ll fly out Sunday afternoon from Haneda with Bakugou-san from Yuuei, he’s modeling for the shoot. You’ve met ‘im a couple’a times, right?.”

“...What.”

oOo

Text to: Baku
Soooo uh looks like im coming with you to okinawa
wanna meet up at the train
Ive never flown out of haneda before

Text from: Baku
you fucking what
why are you coming to okinawa

Text to: Baku
apparently fat does an intern exchange program w gang orca?????
he literally told me today
surprise for me too????

Text from: Baku
What the actual fuck

Text to: Baku
PLEASE HELP ME WITH HANEDA
IM SCARED OF AIRPORTS
THEY ARE LARGE AND CONFUSING
BAKUGOU PLS

Text from: Baku
oh my god fine
where do you even live

Text to: Baku
Akasaka.

Text from: Baku
how the fuck are you affording an apartment in akasaka
seriously
that shits so expensive

Text to: Baku
Ask me no questions i’ll tell you no lies

Text from: Baku
you are so fucking weird.

oOo

Naha Airport is tiny in comparison to the massive and stressful beast that was Haneda International, but it's right by the ocean and the descent is incredibly beautiful. Eijirou gapes out the window as they land, eyes wide at just how blue and bright the water eyes. Bakugou beside him simply looks bored, which makes sense. He's probably been here before and seen a million other flights around the globe. Eijirou's googling has turned up shoots from everywhere from the US to South Africa, and Bakugou is extremely busy for a model. But the ocean...

“It's so blue,” he marvels, and Bakugou groans.

“You aren't going to shut up about the water the entire time we're here, are you?”

“Absolutely not.”

Bakugou sighs, but there's a bit of a smile on his face, and Eijirou beams at him, practically vibrating in his seat as they finally hit the tarmac. It's a short trip from the plane to baggage claim, and they're out of the airport in little time. Eijirou stares around in awe at the trees and greenery as Bakugou kicks the back of his legs to keep him moving along the walkway.

“Ow!”

Move, Shitty Hair, we're supposed to get to the driver as soon as we can,” he growls, shouldering his backpack and pulling the luggage behind him. “Sakamata isn't a very fucking patient man. Hurry it up.”

“When I'm rich, I'm buying a house here,” Eijirou says with full sincerity as he grabs Bakugou's luggage and picks it up, practically bolting for the doors as Bakugou shrieks in annoyance. “Can't skip arm day, bro!”

You son of a bitch-”

They emerge at the taxi rank to find an enormous man with vitiligo standing in front of a sleek black limousine and wearing a suit that costs more than Eijirou's entire life. Sakamata Kugo is somewhat famous, and exceptionally handsome. His First Nations Canadian mother and Japanese father are equally famous actors, and Eijirou's a little dazzled seeing him in the flesh. His skin is mottled beautifully, his throat and rings around his eyes milky white, while the rest of his face is a rich, beautiful brown. With his strong nose and deep brown eyes, heavy build and powerful aura, he's every inch a man in control, and Eijirou thinks that he's everything he could aspire to be.

“Ah, Kirishima Eijirou, if I'm not mistaken,” Sakamata says. His smile is sharp, but kind. “And Bakugou Katsuki. Welcome to Okinawa.”

“Thank you for having me, Sakamata-san,” Eijirou says, bowing as low as he can with all the luggage. “It's an honor and a pleasure! Please forgive me for this sudden intrusion.”

“Oh, you are more than forgiven. Fat is notorious for playing favorites and insisted we have our exchange this year over the weekend,” Sakamata says, but he's smiling. “It tends to pay off in the end. Even if his interns don't stay on with him, he turns out excellent designers. While I know you're spoken for I look forward to continuing our little exchange program. Come, Kirishima-kun. Allow me to introduce you to paradise.”

The drive isn't long, and the scenery is incredible. Bakugou dozes against the door, headphones on and eyes closed as Eijirou plasters himself to the window to take it all in. Sakamata fills him in on tidbits about Oikawa's islands, noting places of interest as they leave Okinawa city proper and emerge out in the countryside.

“Originally, I headquartered Gang Orca in Tokyo,” Sakamata says, handing him a water. The limo came well stocked. “For the central fashion experience, of course. But I grew up here, on the islands, and I was drawn back. I am constantly inspired by them, their beauty and charms, the resilience of the people. And so I moved Gang Orca and shifted my focus to swimwear and beach attire, while still keeping other clothing lines going. It's always summer somewhere, and we do very good business internationally. I'm told you'll be doing some couture work for Fatgum?”

“Yeah,” Eijirou says sheepishly. “Under Fat's instructions. I'm nervous but I'm going to do him proud.”

“I'm certain you will.”

Nakijin is the city where Sakamata makes his home. It's a little over an hour away from Okinawa city, and they arrive as dusk is settling on the island. Sakamata's mansion is enormous, the estate sprawling for nearly eight acres. The main house is enormous, three stories, and manages to somehow meld the classic Okinawan look with modern styling. They pull up to the steps, Bakugou sitting up as though prompted, and a pair of men in all black come to open the doors of the limo for them. Bakugou doesn't bat an eye at the extravagance, climbing out and nodding briefly at them before carrying on ignoring them. Their luggage is collected by another silent pair, and Eijirou's eyes are wide as he follows Sakamata and Bakugou up the steps of the house.

“You have a beautiful home, Sakamata-san,” he says, fully honest.

“Thank you,” Sakamata says, pleased. “I designed most of it myself.”

The interior is light and airy, with murals of waves and abstract art of orcas, blue whales, and a few giant squid here and there. The inside of the house appears distinctly Western in style, though there's touches of Japanese art and design sprinkled in. There are touches of First Nations art as well, some pictures on the walls of Sakamata’s parents in black and white. The floors are wooden and polished to shine, and a chandelier dangles from the high ceiling, cut crystals twinkling in the afternoon sun.

“I'm having dinner prepared for us here. The guesthouse has been made available for you for your stay,” Sakamata says, nodding out the bay windows towards an entire house set away from the main house. “The driver can also take you to a hotel, should you prefer.”

“We'll take the guesthouse,” Bakugou says before Eijirou can even politely demure. “Camie here yet?”

“Utsushimi-san was delayed flying out of Sendai, she'll be arriving extremely early in the morning.” Sakamata motions to one of the silent servants to take their things to the guest house. “She's requested to stay in a hotel in the city itself, so she won't be staying here. If you need anything, please let one of the servants know, and it will be fetched for you. Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

Eijirou bows as he leaves, Bakugou slightly inclining his head before a tall man waves them forward and down the steps to the walkway over to the guest house. The size of it doesn’t fully hit him until the servant unlocks the French doors for them and Bakugou pushes them open.

The guesthouse is enormous, and insane. It’s styled similar to the main house, with an orange tiled roof and umber stucco, hints of blue here and there on the exterior. A balcony runs the length of one side facing towards the ocean, creating a shade for the patio of the basement floor below. It’s sunken into the side of a hill, beautiful green grass rustling in the breeze and the brilliant, blue ocean barely a stone's throw away. Soft, sandy beaches stretch before them as they walk in, taking in the sitting area with its glass doors out to the balcony.

“This is bigger than my parents house growing up,” Eijirou says faintly. “How many rooms...”

“4 bedrooms,” Bakugou says grimly. “One living room up here, another downstairs with a full Western style kitchen, and a full bathroom. I stayed here for a month, once.”

“What? Why?”

“Two years ago it was fashionable to keep models on retainer for inspiration, like muses and shit. I needed the money and Sakamata was tired of people telling him how behind the times he was so I agreed to stay. Easiest money I ever fucking made, that's for sure. S’how I met Camie.”

Bakugou leads him down a hall and points him into a door at the end of it. Kirishima is written on a slip of paper slid into a holder by the door. “I'll take be in the one across the hall.”

There's a Western style bed, a chest of drawers, a bedside table, and a closet full of clothes that look to be his size. Eijirou stares in amazement at the fine fabrics in the closet. He rifles through them, noting a box with some jewelry in it and some truly beautiful shirts.

“Bakugou?” he calls, and Bakugou pokes his head through the door. “Is the guesthouse for storage?”

Bakugou sees the closet and snorts. “No. It’s a courting gift. Wear something from it for dinner.”

“A what?”

Bakugou rolls his eyes. “It’s a posturing thing. He has to at least see if he can get you from Fatgum. He’s bribing you, but it’d be rude if you didn’t wear some of this shit. You’re supposed to take it home, it’s a way to show off his money. He can afford to shower gifts on an intern.” He walks into the room properly, picking through the clothes and pulling out a pair of slim slacks in charcoal grey. “These. And I know you’ve got some sort of fucking floral monstrosity of a shirt in your bags, so that, and if you’ve got anything that’s Fatgum branded that’ll match wear that too.”

“...I’ve got a choker?”

“Perfect.”

“It’s got studs on it though-”

“Even better.”

Eijirou squints at him, suspicious. “Why?”

Bakugou smirks, eyes flashing with mean humor. “Pretty fucking blunt that you aren’t going anywhere if you come up wearing to dinner wearing a collar Fat made like some dog off its leash. Subtle, and kinky. Welcome to fashion politics 101.”

“BAKUGOU!”

Bakugou just smirks, leaving the room very smug, and Eijirou buries his face in his hands as his face goes brilliant red.

He does put on the slacks (perfectly fitted, damn) and a soft floral shirt rolled up to the elbows that matches relatively well, followed by a pair of plain black dress shoes. The choker is fastened on last, and after a moment of hesitation he knocks on Bakugou’s door. Bakugou pulls it open to reveal he’s in baggy jeans and a black t-shirt with a skull on it.

“Good?” Eijirou asks.

“Fine.” Bakugou eyes him critically before reaching out and buttoning up one of his buttons. “None of us are gonna be able to eat if we keep staring at your fucking cleavage all night though. You’re worse than Mina.”

Eijirou gapes at him, face going even more red than before. “Wh- I-”

“You know damn well what you were doing,” Bakugou says, flicking him in the nose before retreating back into his room and grabbing hairspray.

“Are you just wearing that to dinner? I’m gonna look stupid if I’m the only one looking fancy!” Eijirou complains, tentatively crossing the threshold as Bakugou uses nearly half the can on his hair. It looks exactly the same as it always does, soft and fluffy and kind of like an explosion.

“You already look stupid.”

“You don’t mean that.”

Bakugou glances up at him, considers, and shrugs. “Mm.”

“What does that even mean?!”

Bakugou shrugs. “I can change. I’m sure Sakamata put something in here for me that’s fucking ridiculous enough to match up with you. Dinner’s in 20, wait in the living room.” He turns to the closet, and Eijirou lets out a sigh of relief as he obediently trots down the hall and plops down in the living room. The couches are comfortable, and he relaxes for a few minutes before there’s an odd clicking sound from down the hallway.

“I’m good,” Bakugou says casually, as if he hasn’t just switched into a full yukata, tabi, and zori. It’s a beautiful pattern, rich blue with delicate white orcas and minimalist flowers on it, and a deep umber orange obi. It hangs open almost scandalously low, and Bakugou absently tugs at the sleeves to adjust how it hangs.

Eijriou stares at him. “Seriously?”

“What?”

“I ask you to wear something so I don’t stick out and you pick a whole yukata and leave it that open?”

Bakugou arches one imperious eyebrow at him. “And?”

Eijirou doesn’t really have a comeback to that. “...And I guess we better go to dinner.”

“That’s what I thought.”

oOo

Eating dinner with Bakugou, Sakamata, and some of Sakamata’s other designers and label staff is strange to say the least. Bakugou’s whole attitude and changes, a mask slipping on after Sakamata gives him a warning look. He speaks rarely, passes things with the grace of a dancer, bows elegantly, and eats with the manners of a trained courtesan. Weirder still, most of the others ignore him or speak about things that would deliberately keep him out of the conversation. Some of them are normal businessmen just getting through the day, but a few have a more aggressive style to them. Eijirou calls on every etiquette lesson his mother ever gave to keep himself from doing something awful, follows Bakugou’s cue of speaking only when spoken to by the seniors, and does everything in his power not to be flustered by all the suits while he wears a full on leather collar to dinner.

Sakamata had looked amused when he walked in though, so he supposes it’s not so bad.

Once all four courses of dinner are finally done and the suits leave, Bakugou lets out an explosive sigh and slumps in his seat. Sakamata chuckles, waving one of his silent servants over to pour a couple of cups of sake for the three of them still at the table.

“And you didn’t even yell at any of them,” he says, sounding amused.

“It’s the anger management shit, I think it’s starting to kick in,” Bakugou says dryly, and knocks back the sake. “If Pink Shirt ever makes that kind of joke again you should just fucking chop his balls off and call it a day, gods.”

“Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind.”

Kirishima slumps back in his chair, taking the sake and drinking it. He winces at the burn. “I hope that I didn’t offend anyone.”

“Not at all. You handled yourself well,” Sakamata says, pouring himself another. “While I enjoy the leeway that Fat gives his interns, my underlings do not. They are more traditional. Reading the room is important in business, and you did exactly what you should have done.” He toasts them both before drinking it. “Now. We will need to leave here no later than 7 o’clock, so be fully prepared and ready to go at 6:30 tomorrow morning. If all goes well- ha- we’ll be done by noon and I’ll be free to let you two run wild in the ocean. There should be a variety of clothing for swimming in your rooms, feel free to make use of it.”

He stands, broad as ever, and gives them a quick smile. “Enjoy your evening.”

Bakugou and Eijirou head back a few minutes later, and Eijirou hesitates on the path as they head to the guest house.

“What?” Bakugou asks, stopping as well.

“Can we…”

Bakugou follows his gaze and groans. “Seriously? Right now?”

Which is how, ten minutes and no small amount of begging later, Eijirou is jumping off of a dock into shallow water in a brand new swimsuit with a whoop of excitement. The water in the shallows is still warm, and it’s perhaps only six feet deep- perfect for him. He surfaces from the ocean with a purr of delight, shaking his hair out, and grins up at Bakugou.

“Cmon, the water's great,” he coaxes, and Bakugou hesitates for just a moment before pulling off his yukata to show off the sleek jammers he’s slid into and slipping off the dock. The moonlight sparkles on the water, lighting up the ocean. Bakugou comes up from under the water, huffing as he breaks the surface. Eijirou beams at him, splashing him a little. Bakugou sputters, but he’s got a wicked grin that’s stealing Eijirou’s breath away.

“Oh, you little shit-”

Eijirou shrieks with laughter as Bakugou practically dives at him, both of them splashing around in the waves in the darkness. The moon turns the water drops on Bakugou’s skin into little stars, and when Bakugou throws his head back in a raucous laugh Eijirou wants nothing more than to memorize that sound and drag it out of him over and over again. This somber, bitter, cold man, with his beautiful eyes and wild smile, Eijirou wants to make him so happy that he forgets what it’s like to be sad ever again.

Finally they tire of chasing each other around in the water and head to the edge of the water to sit.

“We should probably talk about what happened in the club the other night,” Eijirou says as they sit in the shallows, water up to their waist. Bakugou grimaces, pulling his legs up to his chest and glaring at the water as his smile fails. Eijirou hates that, but he presses on. “I know you don’t want to, and believe me, I get it, but we really do need to talk about this before this goes anywhere else. I'm kind of getting some mixed signals here, and if you don't want me to pursue you, I'm not going to. I don't want you to be uncomfortable, but I do want to get to know you better, and whether that getting to know you leads to something more is up to us to figure out.”

Bakugou gnaws at his lip, face twisting a little as he thinks about it. Eijirou returns his attention to the waves, feeling them flow in and out, swirling around his body.

“I've never...” Bakugou starts abruptly, then stops just as sharp. “Wanted. I've done the dating shit but this isn't- I don't- ugh. This is new. And different. Things got weird when we were dancing, and I didn't know what the fuck to do about it, so I just backed off.”

He shifts restlessly in the water, letting his legs fall back into the surf and glaring out at the distance.

“You've never be interested in someone romantically before?” Eijirou translates, not certain if he quite understands. “Like, felt that want for another person?”

“Yeah.” Red eyes flick to meet Eijirou's, intense and almost angry- and, more than that, deeper down, a little afraid. “Or like. Sexually, I guess. I’ve had it, it was boring and not that fun and I don’t really get why everybody thinks it’s so great but this… It's new, and I don't know that I like feeling like this. It's fucking weird, and uncomfortable, and I keep getting these fucking intrusive thoughts and it pisses me off.”

“Okay.” Eijirou nods, even if it stings a little. It makes sense. “But just so we're clear, and on the same page, I like you. I think you're fun, and good looking, and interesting, and I want to get to know you better. Maybe we won't end up compatible, maybe we're soulmates. Who knows? But I don't want to push you for something you're not ready for. So when you decide what you want to do about it, I'll be here and ready to try.”

Bakugou stares at him, the anger melting away into something raw. Something like hope, like curiosity. “Really?”

“Yeah, sure.” Eijirou reaches out, taking his hand and squeezing it once before dropping it. “I'm not going anywhere for at least the next five years, I don't have any outstanding crushes except on you, and we've got all the time in the world to figure out if this is something we want. I don't want to shove you into something that's not right for you just because I happen to be the exception to the rule for lust, y'know? Wouldn't exactly be very manly of me to put you in a relationship if it turns out that isn't what you want. But I'm also not going to cut you out if you decide it isn't what you want. I told you, I think you're fun and interesting. I want to get to know you, like, really know you. I want to know how you take your coffee and eat breakfast and what trashy TV you watch and your hobbies and what makes you angry and what makes you happier than anything else. I want to be friends.”

Bakugou gives him a long, slow look, eyes narrowing a little. “I'm not healthy. Mentally. I've dealt with a lot of shit in my life and I'm only just really starting to deal with it. I've got a shitton of problems and baggage. I'm not some ball of sunshine like you are.”

Eijirou shrugs, a bit of a smile sneaking onto his face despite the way his heart clenches in his chest. “What makes you think I don't have baggage too? Just because mine's shaped different or maybe weighs less doesn't mean it isn't still there. Everybody's got something that hurt them. Mine probably isn't like yours, but I've got some scars inside too. I didn't smile like this for quite a long time when I was little. You're making your own kind of progress, and I'm making mine. And maybe we'll find it's easier to help each other carry things than go it alone. Who knows?”

Bakugou stares at him, eyes gone wide and soft, and Eijirou's face heats up.

“What?”

“I want to kiss you now,” Bakugou says, blunt and to the point, and Eijirou goes brilliant red.

“Oh, uh, yes sure okay-”

And as first kisses go, Eijirou’s marking this one down for the history books. Bakugou’s lips are soft, and Eijirou melts against him as a hand comes up to cup the back of his neck. It’s not fireworks- it’s the soft crackle and pop of logs on a hearth, heat heavy in the depths of his chest.

“Oh,” he says weakly when Bakugou pulls back. “Oh. Mngh.”

“You,” Bakugou says, his voice gravelly, “are the weirdest person I've ever met.”

“Hrgh,” Eijirou manages, his head still spinning, and just about swoons when Bakugou laughs. He’s beautiful always, but laughing and smiling, he becomes a vision.

They walk back up to the guesthouse together, hands brushing but not held, and Kirishima lets Bakugou shower first as he gets his clothes ready for the next day. A warm spring breeze comes in through the windows, making the soft, sheer curtains dance. He walks to the window, looking out over the waves lapping eternally at the shore. It's been a strange night. A strange, wonderful night, full of new things and strange things and wonderful, wonderful things.

He hears Bakugou in the hallway, and looks over his shoulder as the door opens.

“Shower's free,” Bakugou says, toweling his hair dry. His eyes settle on him, the softness of the curtains wrapping around him. “...Damn.”

“What?”

“You're way too fucking beautiful,” he says bluntly, lips twitching into a half smile. “Standing there in the moonlight and everything.”

Eijirou feels his face go red again. “I, uh. Me?”

“You see anyone else here?” Bakugou drawls. He gives him a lazy once over, leaning against the door, and the smile fades. There's a stillness between them that wasn't there before, a sort of softness that pervades the space. It feels like fresh air and longing, and Eijirou aches to fill it. Bakugou lets the moment settle before saying quietly, “You're sure you're willing to wait?”

“I'm sure,” Eijirou says. “Long as you want.”

Bakugou gnaws at his lip again, eyes narrowing. “Even if it's a year? Even if I decide that I don't like it, that I don't want anything to do with fucking?”

“Gods, you're so crass,” Eijirou says, burying his face in his hands as his cheeks heat up. “But yes. I'm sure. I can wait. And I can work with that.”

Bakugou gives him another long, slow look before slowly approaching. Eijirou waits, letting Bakugou come to him, and goes easily when Bakugou’s broad hand presses to his chest and pushes him back against the wall. Moonlight picks out the planes and lines of his face, dancing on his cupids bow and making his eyes reflective. Eijirou catches his breath, chest hitching under the weight of that beautiful hand. It burns like a brand against his chest, and as Bakugou leans in to kiss him, he reaches up to keep the hand pressed to him.

“Good night,” Bakugou says quietly, when Eijirou’s been turned breathless. Eijirou stares at him, the words stolen out of his mouth, and Bakugou’s smile is almost shy as he rubs the back of his neck and slips out of the room.

Eijirou takes a deep breath, reaching up to touch his lips, and feels his face go hot. “Holy shit.”

He’s not going to be sleeping well tonight.

oOo

Eijirou’s alarm goes off at a brutal 5:05 AM, and he spends a good minute just staring at his phone before he moves his hand to turn it off. It falls obediently silent, and he sighs heavily against the soft pillow. He’s tired from last night's swim and all that came with it, and the idea of being on set of a shoot with Bakugou and not being allowed to be distracted for several hours doesn’t sound like his idea of fun.

After three more alarms, he finally drags himself out of bed. His hair is done quickly, basic morning routine following. The peek of the sun through the window sees him pulling on a pair of nice black jeans and a fitted t-shirt with casual rips and the Fatgum logo across the chest in a weathered print. A belt with an oversized vampire tooth buckle follows, and black combat boots with floral prints along the edges of the soles. He straps on some chunky leather armbands from the Gang Orca things in the closet and calls it good. The reflection in the mirror hanging on the door looks comfortable and functional, and he nods at himself.

Good enough.

Whistling, he heads down to the basement, where food is surely to be found. As he descends the stairs he hears voices- Bakugou’s familiar snarl, and a woman’s voice, light and amused. Curious, he steps off the last stair and looks over to the couches.

“Oh hey,” a blond says from her place in Bakugou's lap. She’s tall, pretty, with big eyes and pouty lips, curvy and utterly lovely in a near skintight pair of running shorts and tank top. Bakugou, dressed in workout clothes, looks thoroughly unimpressed. “Aren't you cute!”

“Um,” Eijirou manages.

“I'm Utsushimi Camie!” She winks at him. “Like, super great to meetcha.”

Suddenly, this trip looks much less fun.

Chapter Text

Eijirou’s opinion on mornings has always been incredibly neutral, though the announcement that they’d be taking the same car as Camie (loud, laughing, way too awake for the hour) fifteen minutes before they were due to leave does not fill him with a sense of overwhelming goodwill towards the world at large. But he shoves everything he can think he’ll need into his bag and hustles out the door along with Bakugou and Bakugou’s self-proclaimed Bestest Bitch-friend.

Camie is tall, willowy, and disgustingly nice. She also talks strange. Eijirou has no idea how to feel about her.

“So like, you’re from Tokyo too?” She asks as Sakamata’s silent servants open the limo doors for them. Sakamata’s leaving instructions with his head of staff, it looks like, a grim faced woman also in all black. “Lit, fam. How’d you meet the boy?”

Bakugou, the boy in question, makes a face like he’s bit a lemon. “Fuck off, Camie,” he snaps, putting headphones on and jamming himself against the other door. His cheeks, Eijirou notices, are slightly pink. It’s terribly cute.

Camie just grins, sitting next to him and poking his cheek fearlessly. He snaps at her, but it’s lacking the usual bite, and he settles down without much grumbling. Eijirou watches in awe, and Camie scoots over and pats the seat in the middle for him. Eijirou joins her, uncertain about being stuck between the two but also not quite daring to upset her.

“I got dragged into helping with some stuff at Best Jeanist,” he says, “and we just kept running into each other all over the place. It’s been a lot of weird coincidences.”

“That’s cute as hell,” Camie coos, patting his leg. “Tell me everything.”

Naminoue shrine is almost an hour and a half away in Naha, and the entire ride there Camie chats with him about anything and everything. Sakamata has his headphones in, looking completely at peace even though Eijirou can see that his phone is playing black metal, and Bakugou himself alternates between napping and snapping out sharp, biting commentary to whatever Camie’s talking about at the moment. Eijirou relaxes as they get into the drive. He likes Camie, even if jealousy might be rearing its head if he thinks about her too much.

Naminoue shrine itself is massive, sitting out on the jut of a beautiful, craggy cliff. The entire crew troupes out to give offerings and pray at the shrine before they’re even allowed to look at the beach where they’ll be shooting, since the section they’ll be on is actually part of the shrine. Camie and Bakugou seem like they know exactly what’s going on, walking up past the massive stone torii gate and towards the honden. Everything turns into chaos. There’s a mad rush to wash hands in the appropriate manner, a quick queue up to the honden, a very large number of people muttering desperate prayers that nothing will go awry and for the ocean kami to bless the shoot with calm waves, and Eijirou’s pretty sure he hears at least three people pray that Bakugou doesn’t explode any expensive equipment.

And then, finally, they’re allowed down onto the beach.

The cliff that the shrine is set on is absolutely breathtaking, with only a sliver of beach and ancient posts strung with chains sticking out of the clear blue water to demarcate where the shrine begins and ends. The rock is beautifully textured, mottled in color and worn from years of salt spray. The blue water surrounding it is impossibly clear, brilliant in color, and for just a moment, the world seems perfect.

Then reality sets in, and with it, pure chaos as they try to catch the light before it’s gone.

Eijirou helps with set up, running tables, makeup cases, enormous umbrellas, and heavy equipment back and forth as the teams swarm around like bees in frantic search for honey. Someone throws up a set of umbrellas for the hair team, another two people are frantically checking the tiny inset where they’ll be shooting for stray glass or danger, someone from the styling team is about to throw down with the photographers assistant for moving her coffee. It’s a pretty normal day by photoshoot standards.

Eijirou loves photoshoots.

Sakamata waves him over to stand under a beach umbrella that someone’s set up for him, his broad form even more intimidating than normal in his full suit. Dark eyes flicking to Eijirou, he says mildly, “What do you think about this set up?”

Oh god. This is a test. This is definitely a test.

Eijirou looks around at the staff and crew, the makeup artists working on Bakugou and Camie, and the two people from the wardrobe team arguing with the stylists. Everyone is busy and moving except for the two of them under the shade, and he looks back to Sakamata. “Organized chaos. But you trust them to do their jobs which is why you’re here instead of examining everything, so they have to come to you instead of you going to them for final say.”

Sakamata smiles, the movement pulling at his mottled skin. Eijirou feels a bit of tension escape. “Very good, Kirishima. Trust is important for people to perform well. If they think I’ll bulldoze over them, they won’t bring as much to the table. Photoshoots, videos, exhibitions, even the runway, it’s all a collaborative art. Something a stylist would think of, I would not. Something a makeup artist knows is different than the photographer. It’s a delicate, complicated balance. I may have final say, but I do not have the only say.”

Eijirou watches the choreographed dance of people rushing around, and nods as he takes it all in.

A laugh gets his attention, and he turns to see that Bakugou and Camie have changed and are stepping down onto the beach in bare feet.

Camie twirls, the white dress spinning and floating out in huge billowing sheets. The top is fitted and comes to a deep v with small tassels dangling from lacings running up it, the fabric mimicking tiny diamonds made of lace and showing her tanned skin from underneath. The skirt is all layers of chiffon that floats and catches in the breeze, and the three-quarter fitted sleeves have bells of the same white chiffon floating from it. She looks like princess, and with her easy smile and long hair she’s effortlessly beautiful, charming, and sweet all at once.

Bakugou looks regal yet approachable in patterned loose pants with a distinctly Okinawan color scheme, his shirt echoing the look of Camie’s dress. White linen, with a tunic style collar and lacings up the center of the v, it’s unfairly good looking rolled up to his elbows. Eijirou feels his cheeks heat up a little as the makeup artists descend to emphasize his natural beauty.

Sakamata sends him over to go stand with the photographer as an additional assistant, and Eijirou shyly waves at him and smiles. The photographer jerks, then grins.

“You’re Hirataka’s kid, right?” the photographer says, and Eijirou jolts.

“Uh, yeah, I am!”

“She’s so fuckin’ badass,” he says, motioning to one of the assistants to move the reflector. “Call me Takahiro, my surname’s Egyptian and everyone butchers it. I’ve got her book, that hugeass coffee table one she did after the Vogue spread they did on her? Absolutely incredible. Just incredible. That underwater shoot of Kayama Nemuri? Hoo damn, I dream of being that good. Keisuke! Higher! Thank you boo.”

Eijirou’s pretty sure he’s about as red as his hair, but he’s quietly proud as well. “Yeah, Okaa-san’s pretty great!”

“Have you helped out much with photoshoots?”

“Here and there,” Eijirou says.

“Great! Sakamata says you know Bakugou, so I want you handling him. He’s a menace even if he is prettier than half the women I know, and I don’t need Keisuke getting his head bit off because he walked too close. I love the kid, he’s great to shoot with, but he’s a prickly bastard on the best of days.” Takahiro adjusts some of his settings. “Just stand off to the side and look invested and if I tell you to adjust his clothes, hop to it kiddo.”

“You got it!” As he jogs off, Eijirou absently wonders if putting “Bakugou Katsuki Wrangler” on his resume might get him a pay raise.

Thankfully there’s not much need for him. Bakugou and Camie stand together on the sand in one of the little sunken-in areas, tangling in dramatic and perfectly angled ways while the photographer shoots photos and then switches to a decent size video camera to capture some footage of Camie walking into the ocean, the pair of them looking at each other as if about to kiss while their hair blows in the wind, and Bakugou looking off into the distance along the rocks. All told, it’s not too much hassle. Bakugou behaves himself for once, and the relief among the crew is palpable.

“I’d do something more but honestly right now, everyone laps up this indie film looking shit for ads,” Takahiro tells Eijirou as he checks over some of the photos on the back of his camera. “Makes my job a shitton easier, since I’m an indie loving, cinematography obsessed bitch down to my core and Sakamata digs the experimental video shit that I do.” He looks up, giving a sharp nod before inhaling deep and bellowing, “ALRIGHT YOU LITTLE SHITS, ONE MORE ROUND AGAINST THE ROCKS, AND CAMIE IF YOU PUT THAT GUM IN YOUR MOUTH I WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS.” Everyone except Bakugou jumps, but he seems to understand what was said and goes back to the rocks.

Fifteen more minutes of shooting (Camie having wisely not put the gum in her mouth), and Takahiro hands his camera off to his beleaguered assistant.

“And we’re good!” Takahiro yells, and a cheer goes up. Everyone starts breaking down camp, folding up chairs and umbrellas and rushing around to clean up as fast as possible as Bakugou and Camie are whisked away into the shade and touched up. Eijirou picks things up, hustling them to the van and a trailer, and then he himself is dragged away by one of the makeup artists and thrown unceremoniously into the limo.

“Where next?” he asks, and Sakamata grins.

In no time at all they’re parked at the harbor where the crew is now climbing onto a sturdy, decent sized boat that looks like it might once have been meant for fishing and has somehow been converted into a luxury yacht. It’s a strange ship, the paint on the bow informing him that her name is Nozomi. Eijirou stares up at it, amazed and delighted.

“Boat time!” Camie yells, grabbing Bakugou’s arm and practically dragging him along. “Move, bitch, there’s a whole ass boat over here!”

“Fucking hell, you’re such a mess,” Bakugou groans, but lets Camie pull him up the gangplank. Sakamata follows sedately behind, and Eijirou’s stomach does something weird and upset as he walks up as well.

Huh. It’s been a while since he really felt jealous.

The Nozomi gets underway with minimal effort, the boat cutting through the waves with ease as they sped out through the waves towards a small island- Kamiyama, apparently. Sakamata heads below decks and reappears in nothing but long black swim pants and a casual haori. No one bats an eye at this, so apparently it’s normal, even if Eijirou is way too gay to ignore the sheer amount of muscle on display. Sakamata is jacked, the boat crew is jacked, the swimmers laughing as they watch the water are jacked, and dear fucking gods, Bakugou has walked up from below decks in his jammers for the next part of the shoot and Eijirou has to take a moment to calm down.

“The fuck’s with you,” Bakugou demands, walking over as Eijirou stares intently out at the approaching islands.

“Nothing!”

“Uh huh, sure,” Bakugou says dryly, and Eijirou glances back at him.He’s still made up, lips looking soft and plush with the gloss on, and his eyelashes darkened and lightly lined. He’s got a bit of a gleam in his eye, and just for a moment, Eijirou drops the pretense and lets just how much he wants show. Bakugou immediately goes red, and Camie whistles from across the deck.

Bakugou wheels around, still red, barking, “Shut UP, Camie!”

“No can do sis, this is high key the best shit I’ve seen all year!” she yells back, and Eijirou buries his face in his hands as she cackles.

“Oh my god,” he mutters, and doesn’t complain as Bakugou starts threatening to toss her overboard.

Soon they’ve come to a halt, and a dinghy is lowered with Bakugou, Camie, and two others on it to row and guard once Camie’s makeup is touched up. Eijirou helps where he can, running back and forth and moving gear for people as the photographer gets ready and Sakamata stands in placid calm among the chaos. Once Eijirou’s finished setting up the table for the laptop the pictures immediately transfer to, Sakamata beckons him over.

“How’s your swimming?” Sakamata asks, and Eijirou about yells in excitement.

“Really good,” he says, bouncing on his toes, “my Akaa-san does Iron Man triathlons and I trained in the swimming portion with her in the ocean. I know what I’m doing.”

Sakamata’s eyebrows raise. “Well then. Want to help out the photographer with the water portion? We’ll pull you out if you get tired or need a break, there’s a number of people who’ll be available. Camie and Bakugou are both strong swimmers but we have lifeguards standing by.”

“I’m down,” Eijirou says immediately, and Sakamata chuckles.

“Grab a wetsuit from the ones below decks, have Koji get your size. Get changed, we’ll begin soon.”

A few minutes later, Eijirou launches himself into the water with a whoop of excitement. The ocean is a bit cold, but he acclimates quickly thanks to the suit, and breaks the surface with a grin. Sakamata laughs from on board the ship, and the floating device for the photographer is lowered down. On the dinghy, Bakugou and Camie look like they’re debating just launching themselves in the water, Camie’s white dress floating in the tiny amount of breeze.

Takahiro is lowered into the water, and braces himself on the floating foam board. His camera is thankfully waterproof, but Eijirou keeps an eye on it regardless.

“Okay, we’re doing a couple of things,” he says. “First, I want you half-in, half-out of the water. The swimmers will help keep you up. Camie, you’re looking over your right shoulder and down. Bakugou, you’re turned to the left and lightly pressed against her hair. Dramatic and romantic. I want cavities looking at you both.”

Oh dear.

Eijirou gets drafted into keeping the board steady, while four other swimmers help the two into the water without getting them any more wet further than their chests. It’s kind of amazing, but…

“Why not just shoot in a pool and do edits?” Eijirou asks, curious.

Takahiro grins at him, nodding at the pair. “Have you met Bakugou? He’s at his best when he’s doing something real. You should see the shit I got when we did a rock climbing shoot, he had a fucking blast. Still some of my best work. And Camie’s a chameleon with a million and one talents, she loves this sort of thing. Besides, I like the artistry of it- capturing exactly the right shot, all natural.”

“Sweet,” Eijirou says, and means it.

Bakugou and Camie get into position, the swimmers sinking below the waves to hold them steady in the water, and Camie’s head turns just so, her eyelashes fluttering long onto her cheekbones, and Bakugou’s turned and he’s undeniably fond and amazed and entranced and-

Holy shit, Eijirou is jealous.

He wants that look on him, that sort of care and tenderness, and god, he’s in deep. He really hopes that things with Bakugou work out.

“Angle your head a little more, Bakugou,” the photographer calls, and has Eijirou help him move the board over a little to get a different shot. The swimmers surface here and there, but it’s a long fifteen minutes and a few more angles before the photographer declares he’s content for the moment with the pair of them. Bakugou immediately dunks under the water, swimming like a shark over to the board to come look at the photos as the photographer flicks through them. They’re all good, the water and light catching beautifully.

“Why not use a reflector?” Eijirou asks as Bakugou peers at a particularly nice shot of them with the sun hitting perfectly.

“I like the challenge,” the photographer grins. “Ready to see the really cool bit?”

The really cool bit is an entire boom arm that extends from the ship, which the photographer fearlessly climbs out along and sits on as Camie floats in the water with her hair spread all around her and her dress, now nearly completely sheer from the water, spread out in huge sheets around her. Her face has been carefully shielded from water to maintain her makeup, and Eijirou’s instructed to go beneath the waves to help get the dress to stay all spread out. Someone tosses him goggles, and honestly, it’s a good time. By the time he surfaces the photographer is practically done, and beams at him as the boom is retracted and Camie’s helped onto the dinghy. Bakugou’s already on it, hair somehow already dry and enfolded in a massive fuzzy towel.

Eijirou climbs the drop ladder back onto the ship, grinning at Sakamata, who chuckles and turns to look at the screen where they’re looking at the photos.

“Excellent as always Takahiro,” Sakamata says, and Takahiro grins proudly. “I think we're finished.”

“Awesome,” Takahiro says, and one of the crew shouts the news over the side. There's an immediate set of splashes, and Eijirou walks over to see that both Bakugou and Camie have ditched the dinghy to jump in the water, Camie surfacing like a mermaid and flipping her hair back.

“Cmon fam, water's fine!” She yells up, and one of the crew drags Eijirou to the side as Sakamata practically vaults off the side of the boat in a perfect dive, powerful body splitting the waves without a hassle. Camie whoops, ducking under the water and swimming to join him where he surfaces.

Eijirou grins, pulling his goggles back on and jumps back in to join them. The water is refreshing, and he easily swims over to Bakugou, who promptly splashes him and disappears underwater. Eijirou chases after him, following him underwater. Bakugou swims with such ease, darting through the water and easily looping around Eijirou before coming back up for air.

“You have your eyes open!” Eijirou says as soon as they come up. “What the fuck, how?!”

“Dunno,” Bakugou says, grinning. “Just always been like that. Never had to hold my nose or close my eyes. It’s just a thing.”

“Wild,” Eijirou laughs, and Bakugou disappears back under the water to careen into him and drag him under.

The water is so incredibly clear, and Bakugou leads him on a merry chase through the tangle of legs and past the dinghy before resurfacing once more. Eijirou wraps his arms around Bakugou’s waist, holding him in, and at some point the goggles go flying at Bakugou’s thrashing, falling down around his neck.

“Brat,” Eijirou laughs, and Bakugou manages to twist around, pushing himself up with Eijirou’s shoulders.

The sun makes the water in his hair sparkle, and Eijirou barely catches his breath at the brilliant, happy smile on Bakugou’s face before he’s shoved under the water again.

oOo

They arrive back at Sakamata's estate as the last true wave of warmth of the day hits. Even for April, Okinawa is hot and humid, and the servants have switched from wearing all black to mostly white uniforms with black collars on their shirts and black trim on the ends of their pants and skirts. The head of staff has changed into a white and black checked yukata, the obi tied in the classic Okinawan style, and her severe expression fades into a smile when Camie bounds out of the car to come and kiss her cheeks.

“I know you wanted to swim more,” Sakamata says, “So perhaps you'll join me at the pool?”

“Hell yeah,” Bakugou says, immediately heading toward the guest house. “Just gotta do some stuff first.”

Camie follows Sakamata and the staff head to the house, calling over her shoulder that she'll meet them there, and Eijirou follows Bakugou to the guest house.

“Camie seems to like the head of staff a lot,” Eijirou says, and Bakugou nods.

“Keiko-sama's a badass. She's like a grandma to Camie, they're pretty close.”

“You actually use sama for her?”

Bakugou flashes a wicked grin at him. “She's an 8th dan judoka, you bet your ass I use -sama for her. She could kick all our asses and it'd be an honor. She's practically Sakamata’s bodyguard.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yep.”

They reach the house and Eijirou immediately heads to his room to change into more comfortable clothes. Pink plaid shorts and a tank top patterned with bright green leaves are good enough, and he shoves his feet in red crocs. It takes him a bit to put his hair back up, but he sighs in relief when it's back to normal.

Eijirou wanders back into the main room, looking around for Bakugou, and he's about to head downstairs when he hears his voice through the open patio door. Eijirou pads over, peeking past the curtains.

“- staying,” Bakugou insists. He sounds angry, and he's pacing along the deck. “No, I- then cancel it! I'm not the only fucking blond male model in Japan, slap a wig on someone and call it a day. Ikau can fight me, I'm not leaving him here alone, that's a fucking recipe for disaster and you know it. He doesn't know shit about politics.”

There's a pause, then a snarl. “It has nothing to do with that, or him. He doesn't have a fucking clue what he's doing and I've been around the block a few fucking times. Tell them I'm out sick, I don't care. I need a fucking break.”

Eijirou frowns, lingering at the door. Bakugou leans on the railing, rubbing his forehead.

“Sakamata won't care,” he says. He suddenly sounds exhausted. “He'll be fucking thrilled since it’s been so long. Yeah. Yeah, I know. I'm not an idiot, I- mm. Yeah. I really don't care.” There's another long pause before Bakugou says, very quietly, “I'm not kidding about needing a break, Aizawa. I'm fucking exhausted. You're never hearing me say this again, but I'm just too fucking tired. Deku, work, school, my personal life, I need a break.”

Silence, then- “Yeah. I'll arrange it.” He moves as if to hang up before grimacing and biting out a sharp, “Thank you. I’ll let Deku know.”

He hangs up, and before Eijirou can walk onto the deck is dialing another number.

Whoever it is picks up fast.

“It's me. No, no one's dead, I just- I'm going to be gone the whole week. I'll be there for Sunday, I'm just going to be gone until- no. No, shut the fuck up and stop panicking, I told you and Auntie I'd go with you until you were comfortable, I'll be there. Practice some goddamn active listening.” Bakugou rubs his forehead, looking tired. “Yeah. What, Monday? Fine. Tell him I'll be there for dinner. And Deku? Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone.”

He hangs up the phone and shoves it in his pocket, burying his face in his hands to muffle a scream before straightening up and taking a deep breath.

Fuck,” Bakugou says with intense feeling, and Eijirou slips away. He feels like he's seen something he shouldn't have.

He's almost back to his room when his phone buzzes, and he stops to pull it out.

Text from: Fat
Hope today's going well! Give me a call to update me when you can.

“Oi.”

Eijirou turns, raising an eyebrow as Bakugou walks back in. “Yeah?”

“You going to come swimming?”

“I'll come sit by the pool, but I think I'm full up on swimming today,” Eijirou apologizes. Bakugou shrugs, heading to his bedroom. His eyes look a little red rimmed, as though he's been forcing back tears and refusing to acknowledge them. Eijirou weighs his options and decides to leave it alone. “Hey, when are you flying out?”

“I'm not,” Bakugou says bluntly, “I'm staying through the week. I'll arrange it with Sakamata.”

“...What?”

“We can talk about it later,” Bakugou says, emerging from the bedroom with a towel.

“Sure. I have to call Fat and update him on everything, I’ll meet you over there,” Eijirou promises, and Bakugou nods before heading out the door with a towel slung over his shoulder.

Once the guest house is empty he takes a deep, calming breath, and pulls up Fat's number.

The phone rings three times before Fat picks up, his voice cheery. “Hey there kid!

“Hi, Fat! Just checking in.”

Good, good. Ya doin' okay? Eatin' well? Keepin' hydrated?

“So far so good,” he says, sitting down on the couch. “Everyone's been really nice and Sakamata-sensei's got a great house.”

I love that house. Glad you're getting on with him, Amajiki's havin' a devil of a time wit' your replacement.” There's a faint crash in the distance, and Fat sighs. “He's a handful, but I can see why Kugo-kun likes him so much. Name's Yoarashi Inasa an' he's already picked a fight with Todoroki from All Might's intern crew. Pretty sure I'm gonna have to keep those two on leashes if they meet up again. He's... a lot. Don't let Kugo-kun sweep ya off yer feet, I need you t' come back.” There's another crash, and a louder sigh.

“Oh boy,” Eijirou grimaces. “Want me to talk to Amajiki-senpai?”

Please. He's missin' you somethin' fierce. I'll get 'im for you.

A few moments, and then a somewhat tremulous and relieved, “Hello, Kirishima-kun.

“Amajiki-senpai, hi! Are you doing okay? Did he get you enough coffee? Did you remember your lunch break?” Eijirou smiles as Amajiki-senpai sighs down the line. It sounds like a happy sigh.

I'm alright. He did get me coffee, but it was from the wrong shop, and Mirio came and got me for lunch. Oh- do you remember who you gave that paperwork to before you left? The one for the press release? I can't find it anywhere and I could swear I handed it off to you but now I'm double guessing...

“Oh, yeah! It's with Osumi-san in Marketing because she needed to sign off on it.”

Oh thank god,” Amajiki-senpai spills out in one long rush. “Thank you, Kirishima-kun. Are you enjoying Okinawa?

“Oh, yeah, it's absolutely beautiful here,” Eijirou says, smiling. “I'm loving it. I'm missing you and Fat, though. And the crew. Tell everyone hi for me. And tell Rei that I still need her birthday for that calendar I'm making! And Hakato-san's allergy sheet needs to be updated, someone printed out the old one. I didn't get a chance to get the new one printed before I left.”

I will. Still trying to take care of us, even from far away... you'll do very well,” Amajiki-senpai says softly, and Eijirou practically glows with pride. They say their goodbyes and Eijirou hangs up, taking a deep breath before heading back out the door.

The guest house seems to be almost on the furthest edge of the property, and he hasn't seen a pool anywhere, which must mean the pool's in the opposite direction. He walks along the pathway, following it down past the house and into an expansive, beautiful garden. It's lush and tropical, vine flowers trailing down over rocks and benches strategically placed here and there for viewing the flowers. Eijirou wanders along it, and perks up when he reaches a servant working on weeding the garden.

“Excuse me,” he says, and the servant straightens up. “Can you point me towards the pool?”

The servant beckons him forward, pointing him down a path through the gardens, then indicates turning left.

“Awesome, thanks man,” Eijirou says, smiling, and the servant gives him a small smile before bowing and returning to his work. Eijirou strolls along the path, taking in the beautiful flowers and the natural grasses, the tall trees shading them. The main house and guest house are surrounded by open lawn, but this area of the estate seems more natural. He reaches a fork in the path, the right leading up some steps towards what looks like a small shrine, and the left leading down towards what looks to be a clearing. Following it, he takes a moment to enjoy the hibiscus growing nearby before reaching the end of the path.

It opens into a beautiful grotto with a view of the ocean beyond, trees surrounding it. The wind rustles through the palm trees, and Eijirou takes a moment to appreciate the grotto. Bakugou’s swimming laps in a long, rectangular pool the level below him, Camie lazily drifting on an inflated pink raft, and the pool itself is covered by some sort of gazebo with roman pillars and an intricate, green painted top twined with vines and leaves. It’s incredibly beautiful and almost magical.

He walks up the steps to the upper level and a second gazebo, where Sakamata sits at a white table made of iron in a comfortable chair, writing in a notebook or journal. His short hair is barely moved by the wind and the strong bones of his face make him look even more intimidating than he already does. Eijirou carefully approaches. Sakamata glances up, and his face eases into a smile.

“Do you have a moment to talk?” Eijirou asks, bowing politely, and Sakamata puts the pen down.

“Certainly.” He waves him into the free chair, and Eijirou carefully sits down with his notebook.

“I wanted to talk to you about you thoughts on- on what it is to be manly, and masculine,” Eijirou says, plunging right into it. Sakamata's eyebrow twitches up, ever so slightly, but he doesn't seem annoyed. “I know where Fat stands on it, but I want to ask a bunch of different people about it.”

Sakamata braces his chin in a huge hand. “An interesting question, to be sure.” His dark eyes fix on Eijirou, heavy and thoughtful. “It’s a curious thing, I think. To be male, I mean. I grew up in a world very different from yours, with different values and tastes, and in a different culture. It is not enough now to be broad and bulky and deny your feelings- and it never should have been.” He considers for a moment. “To be masculine, hmm... I think that to be masculine is to be a defense, and to prioritize the well being of your loved ones over yourself. To work exclusively for their benefit, to humble yourself without losing your dignity, to know yourself and cultivate strength for the use of the greater good. That, I think, is the ultimate expression of manliness and masculinity.”

“That's a great explanation,” Eijirou breathes, delighted, and jots down the basics in the notebook.

“In our line of work, men have historically taken advantage of those less powerful,” Sakamata says, looking out over the pair in the pool. Camie's gotten off the raft and is clearly having the time of her life hassling Bakugou. “Power corrupts. It festers within the heart, in the worst kind of way. There isn't a person in the world who hasn't come across that sort of cruelty. It is, I think, my duty to ensure a safe environment for those in my care.”

“Like Bakugou and Camie.”

“Just so. They are both beautiful, clever people, and beautiful people often attract unwanted attention.” Sakamata's smile fades a little, becoming softer. “I love my life. I do the things that I love, I have a home that is everything I ever dreamed of, I built my own domain out of nothing and have seen it flourish. And I can take those who needed a place to hide and give it to them, if needed.”

Eijirou cocks his head. “Did... did they need a place to hide? Bakugou and Camie? Bakugou said that you had him stay here a while ago.”

“Yes.” Sakamata sighs, deep and heavy in his chest. “There is a saying I find quite apt- healing is not linear. Sometimes you need to be removed from the world to recover from it. They've both had their troubles, more than their fair share. But I think here, in this beautiful place, there's some peace to be found.”

“Bakugou said he wanted to stay until the week is done,” Eijirou says carefully.

“Yes, he let me know. I think it'll be a good thing for him, to relax a bit. And good for you, too, to find some balance together.”

“Uh-”

“You're far from the first to be captivated by a pretty face and quick mind,” Sakamata says, passing him a bottle of water. Eijirou watches as one of the silent servants drapes Bakugou in a fine white linen caftan with exquisite embroidery once he's dried off. He looks like a king, regal and serene as he allows the servant to twitch the caftan to a more appealing set on his shoulders. “Hakamata sees him as something to mold. I see him as something to teach. But he is, I think, a being of pure fire. And fire cannot be shaped, only managed from a distance. It will burn you up or form a steady, eternal warmth to your home. He'll be good for you, I think, and you’ll be good for him. Stability and passion, mixed together… a fine combination. I look forward to seeing what you create together.”

Eijirou chokes on his water. “We're not- I mean, not yet-”

“Oh, I know. But Bakugou has a way of working his way in without meaning to the lives of those around him, whether he or they want it. It is no bad thing.” Sakamata watches as Bakugou checks the time on the phone the servant brought to him, and hums softly. “Give it time- perhaps less time than you anticipate. He’s a man with potential, and a hard life behind him. But you make him smile. I hope you continue to.”

Eijirou can recognize a dismissal and threat when he hears one. He bows politely before walking down to the pool, head spinning. Camie’s being dressed in a similar caftan that just brushes her knees, taking off a swim cap to let her long hair down. Bakugou’s eyes flick to Eijirou, and Eijirou smiles at him. Bakugou eyes him as he approaches, but says nothing.

“I can’t believe you can even make a caftan look good,” Eijirou says once he’s close enough. “It’s not fair to the rest of us.”

“Excuse you, asshole, I make anything look good,” Bakugou says dryly as Camie giggles. “Come on, I want dinner and if I’m cooking for you two idiots I want to get it done and over with as fast as possible.”

Camie perks up, grinning at him. “Oh shit yeah. You’re cooking tonight?”

“Sakamata put us in a house with a kitchen four fucking times the size of mine, yes I’m cooking,” Bakugou growls, and Eijirou grins as a servant appears in perfect silence to offer him his shoes. Bakugou immediately deflates, nodding politely and taking them. While he’s himself with Camie and Eijirou, and Sakamata to an extent, he is faultlessly polite to the servants. It’s a strange juxtaposition.

Camie hangs back to talk to him as they walk back to the guest house, grinning as Bakugou stalks along the pathway.

Eijirou watches his back as they walk, and wonders.

Bakugou banishes them both from the kitchen with a string of curses and annoyance once they arrive, and Eijirou contents himself with napping on the reclining couch while Camie calls jokes and instruction beside him, not daring to intrude in the actual kitchen space. When he finally wakes up, it’s to beautifully plated chirashi sushi on the dining room table, and a very smug Bakugou.

“Where did you get this?” Eijirou demands, staring at the fresh unagi, tobiko, mackerel, and halibut now gracing the spread. There is also inexplicably avocado slices, green beans, and carrots cut into shapes like explosions. The plates are incredibly beautiful, and he almost feels bad disrupting them.

“We’re crashing with a loaded dude who has nothing better to do than spoil us,” Camie says smugly, calling out a quick itadakimasu and grabbing her chopsticks, “and he knows that I love halibut. Sakamata stocks the freezer fresh, fam.”

“Just eat,” Bakugou says, flicking a towel over his shoulder and looking very pleased with himself.

Eijirou’s a little offended at just how good the food is, but doesn’t miss how happy Bakugou looks when he and Camie praise him for the work he’s done.

Camie waves goodbye to them after dinner, heading off with one of the silent servants to be taken to her hotel and promising to catch up with them the next time she’s in Tokyo. She hugs them both, laughing when Eijirou picks her up to easily swing her around and ruffling Bakugou’s hair when he tries to dodge her embrace. Eijirou’s a bit sad to see her go, but smiles as they head back downstairs to finish cleaning up from dinner. Bakugou washes up while Eijirou chatters about his day and wipes down the tables, interjecting here and there with his own thoughts. It’s… domestic. Good.

Bakugou’s just finished brewing a cup of tea, Eijirou finishing up the last of the clean up when he decides to broach the subject.

“Hey,” Eijirou says, a bit cautious as he loads the dishwasher. “Why are you staying with me instead of heading back to Tokyo? I mean, I’m not complaining, I’m glad you’re spending time with me but… why?”

The look Bakugou gives him could curdle milk. “You’re not that dumb.”

“Uh-”

Bakugou leans against the counter, waving his hand around the house. “You’re an intern from Tokyo, 41 hours of ferries and trains and buses and who the fuck knows what else away from home, in the house of a very fucking powerful man in fashion who’s giving you gifts. Sakamata’s a good guy and Fat knows it or he wouldn’t send you out here, but think the next time some shit like this pops up.”

Eijirou feels the blood run out of his face at the implications. “...Oh.”

Bakugou sips at his tea, watching him over the rim of his cup. “Don’t get so distracted by all the pretty flowers you miss the snake underneath. It’s a bitch of a lesson to learn.”

Eijirou sits down hard at the table, looking out at the ocean through the glass doors. “...Did you have to learn that lesson?”

“I was the lesson.” Bakugou hesitates before putting the cup down. “I got stuck in a really shit, manipulative contract when I was about, what… 12? Yeah. Me and Deku both. It looked good on the surface but it was a nightmare underneath. It was...it was bad. We lived in the States for two years before Aizawa pulled out the big guns and practically bought out our contracts to get us back to Japan. Deku got out after that, but I stuck around.” He frowns, eyes unfocusing as he looks into the past. For a moment he just stands there, eyes dark, and then shakes his head sharply. His red eyes latch back onto Eijirou, sharp and intense. “Dunno if I regret that or not, but I’m here now, so it doesn’t really matter.”

“So, you speak English?”

Bakugou snorts. “That’s what you took out of that? You bet your fuckin’ ass I do,” he says in English, his accent a harder, sharper drawl but with the same cadences as Midoriya’s.

“Where’s the accent from?” Eijirou asks, fascinated. Bakugou sits down across from him, taking another sip of his tea.

“New Jersey,” he says once he’s finished half of it. “We were working in New York but we lived and went to school in New Jersey. There weren’t a ton of people who spoke Japanese, so we picked it up fast. We’ve both always been good at languages. Deku speaks more languages than me, but I’m more fluent.”

“What ones?”

“Japanese, English, Shanghaiese - don’t fucking ask, it’s a long story-, French, Italian, some Spanish, just enough Korean to get myself shanked in a back alley, and enough Russian to get to a blow job. Also a long story. I picked up a little bit of Hebrew as well, our area was pretty populated by Jewish families and stuff,” Bakugou says, putting the teacup down. “Italians, too. Weird mix, pretty sure I was the only Buddhist there.”

Eijirou raises his eyebrows. “You’re Buddhist?”

“I was raised that way, dunno how strong I identify as that anymore.” He shrugs. “It is what it is. What about you?”

“Akaa-san’s pagan and worships the Norse pantheon, and Okaa-san is Shinto. I give offerings at both their altars but I’m not attached to either of them,” Eijirou says. His phone seems to burn against his leg, and he shifts a little. That's a thought for another time.

Bakugou shifts uncomfortably for a moment before biting out, “Can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Bakugou drums his fingers on the table, grimacing. “You're... not bad to look at.”

“...Okay?”

“I don't know why I like you. I've never actually liked people before. I don't know why it's you. I just keep wanting to pin you down and fuck you up but, like, in a good way? With kissing.” Bakugou grimaces, fingers drumming faster. “Would you. Want to. Try it, I mean. Maybe.”

“So you want to experiment,” Eijirou clarifies, realizing what Bakugou wants.

Bakugou shrugs, looking a little uncomfortable. “We're alone here, we can play house to our hearts content if we want. No one's here to interrupt. So… I guess?”

“I like it,” Eijirou says, and doesn’t miss the look of relief that flashes across Bakugou’s face. “But we’re laying down ground rules first. And safewords.”

“What makes you think we’re getting up to kinky shit?”

“Oh, we’re not, but safewords are good to have in any situation.” Eijirou shrugs. “It puts a stop to anything fast, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal. You say it, we stop, no questions asked. Same for me.”

Bakugou crosses his arms over his chest. “Fair enough.”

“Let me make a deal with you,” Eijirou says, and Bakugou cocks his head in interest. “While we're in the guest house, and as long as I'm not in the shower, in bed, or use the safe word, I'll give you blanket permission to touch me or kiss me whenever you like. Obviously listen if I ask to slow down, but I'm okay with letting you do what you want. But in exchange, I get to ask you one question a day that you have to answer completely honestly.”

Bakugou stares at him. “Seems like a kind of lopsided deal.”

“I figured I could only get one question from you,” Eijirou admits, and Bakugou scowls.

“Five,” he says bluntly. “Five questions. A little more even that way.”

Eijirou grins. “Deal. Safe word is red, and after this, we won't talk about it unless we both agree.”

Bakugou nods, sharp and uncertain, and Eijirou braces his elbows on the table with a grin.

“I'm using my five right now,” he says, and Bakugou blanches, physically bracing himself. “How many siblings do you have?”

“None by blood,” Bakugou says, grimacing. “You?”

Eijirou beams, delighted that Bakugou's trying to even the playing field. “I have two! They're younger than me by eight years, twins. Akari and Kazuhiko. I was 8 when Okaa-san had them. What's your favorite food?”

“Auntie's spicy curry.” Bakugou's shoulders relax a little, and Eijirou feels a stab of pride. “Deku- that's Midoriya, his mom cooks like a goddamn master chef and she's the only one who actually makes it hot enough.”

“Are you close with Midoriya's family, then?”

Bakugou goes still, eyeing him warily, and then says, as if picking his words very carefully, “Yes. I've spent a lot of time with them.”

Ah. A sore spot then. Eijirou decides to drop it.

“Where's the place you most want to travel to?”

“Tanzania.” Bakugou's eyes spark a little, and Eijirou smiles as he leans in, warming to the topic. “I want to summit Kilimanjaro. Never wanted to do Everest, but Kilimanjaro would be badass. And it's a fucking majestic country. I've been to a bunch of different places around Africa but Tanzania was fucking great. And Botswana, we met these kickass punk bikers. Fat woulda loved them.”

Eijirou's inclined to agree. “What's your happiest memory?”

Bakugou goes bright red, slumping back in his seat. “The day I got into Toudai.”

Eijirou's jaw drops. “Holy shit, you're in Toudai? That's incredible, oh my god. What department are you in?”

“Nope,” Bakugou says, still bright red. “You've used up your five, fucker.”

“Awwwwwwwww, c'mon!”

Bakugou just smirks, getting up. “I'm gonna go shower.”

“Rude!”

oOo

And of course, because Bakugou and patience are rarely two words that belong in the same sentence, Eijirou’s comfortable evening wind-down read of an honestly very interesting history of Okinawa that he found on the shelves in the downstairs living room is interrupted by Bakugou straddling his lap.

“Oh,” he says blankly, looking up as Bakugou plucks the book from his hands. “Hello there.”

“Hi,” Bakugou says, noting the page number before setting the book aside and immediately kissing him. Eijirou manages a noise of faint surprise before his eyes flutter closed and his hands come up to drag Bakugou in closer. He's only human, and Bakugou is impossibly beautiful. His hair is soft, pleasing to the touch, and Eijirou just about melts when Bakugou nips at his lips before soothing it with his tongue. Bakugou's hands fist against his shirt, dragging on it, and Eijirou whines as he lets his mouth fall open, inviting.

Bakugou kisses like he has something to prove and something to subdue, and Eijirou is hopelessly into it.

“Okay,” Eijirou gasps when Bakugou's hands start feeling over his chest, pulling back a little. “Fuck- time out.”

Bakugou blinks at him, pulling away as well. He looks uncertain, hair a mess even more than usual, and his lips are a bit kiss swollen. Eijirou wants nothing more than to drag him back down and kiss him even more, but he takes a deep breath and forces his heart to slow down. Bakugou watches him, eyes flicking over his face and looking for clues as to why. “Was it bad?” he asks at last.

“No, and that’s the problem,” Eijirou says, a giddy laugh slipping out. “Because oh my god. I want to fuck you. Like. Right here right now and that is definitely going way too fast. Or have you fuck me, I’m really not picky, but holy shit that would not be a smart idea. God, you're so damn hot.”

Bakugou turns a very appealing shade of red. “Oh.”

“Yeah, oh.” Eijirou runs a hand through his hair, trying very hard to ignore the fact that they are both definitely hard and Bakugou’s shirt is rumpled and he wants, very badly, to tear it off of him. He's not a teenager anymore, he didn't even know he could get hard this fast still. “Now is not the time.”

Bakugou grimaces, shifting uncomfortably in Eijirou’s lap, and Eijirou’s hands fall to his hips to hold him there. Red eyes flash to him in annoyance, but he just grins back.

“Is it always like this?” Bakugou demands. “When you want someone. The getting weird in the head part where you can’t think straight. Because I really want you. In general. Right now.”

“I mean… yeah,” Eijirou says, absently rubbing his thumbs over the slight jut of Bakugou’s hip bones. “I mean, not that I ever think straight, but- Arousal is a high. You want to chase after it, feel more of it. It floods your body. What was it like before?”

Bakugou shrugs, making a face. “Clinical. Sticky. A bit nasty. I didn’t like it. This, I like. I fucking love this. I don’t know why you’re different and frankly, I don’t really give a damn about the reason as long as you’re here, but I like this. I don’t really get why I want to bite you and show you off to people, but I guess that’s one of those normal human things I missed.”

Eijirou doesn’t know that he’s ever been this hard in his life, or as red. “Oh my god, you can’t just say that.”

“What?” Bakugou snaps, raising an eyebrow. “Why are you blushing?”

Eijirou drags him in to bury his face against his shoulder. “No one’s ever wanted to show me off before.”

Bakugou makes a noise like an angry whale, which is a new one, and says indignantly, “Then they were fucking idiots and didn’t deserve you.”

“You’re being so sweet and it’s killing me here,” Eijirou mumbles into his shoulder.

“I’m not sweet, you asshole.”

“Oh, you really are.”

The way Bakugou yelps when Eijirou kisses his neck more than makes up for how red his face is, and Eijirou lets himself be shoved back against the couch cushions as Bakugou glares at him, tipping his head back in invitation.

It’s going to be a good week.

oOo

It takes exactly one day for Eijirou to know that even if they don’t work out emotionally, they’ll definitely work out sexually.

Because holy shit, does Bakugou take advantage of the blanket permission Eijirou gave.

While they sleep in different rooms, the rest of the day when Eijirou’s in the guesthouse after work (in the department handling Branding, the first day) Bakugou is practically plastered to him, a bad tempered limpet that likes to come up and wrap his arms around him from behind and stick a head on his shoulder and demand everything from stories about Eijirou’s day to the channel being changed. Eijirou thinks he might be getting addicted to the lazy, slightly biting neck kisses that Bakugou randomly drops on him, and the first time Bakugou rakes freshly manicured nails up his torso he almost swoons.

He also kisses like he’s a drowning man needing air.

It’s hot.

At nine o’clock, after a lazy makeout session on the couch, Eijirou’s head is spinning a little from all the attention Bakugou’s been lavishing on him. They’re laid out on the couch, a movie playing mindlessly in the background on the tv, and Bakugou’s sprawled on top of him as Eijirou absently plays with his hair. They’ve both calmed down enough just to relax together, and Eijirou is pointedly not thinking about what will happen when they go back home.

“This is nice. Weird, but nice,” Eijirou says, and Bakugou makes a faint grumbling noise to encourage him to continue. “I’m not used to being the focus of so much attention.”

Bakugou wraps his arms around him, shoving his face against his chest. “What ‘bout old boyfriends or whatever?” He mumbles, and Eijirou fights back a grin as he rubs his face against his chest like a cat. Bakugou can be terribly cute when he wants.

“I’ve had bad luck with boyfriends so far,” Eijirou admits. “I mean, they didn’t hurt me or anything but they weren’t…. Nice. Once we got past the first flirting and wooing bits or whatever they usually just treated me like I was just another part of their lives and that was it. I wasn’t super important in the grand scheme of things when it came to their lives, and that was okay. I just had to get over myself- OW!”

Bakugou’s eyes flick up to him as sharp nails dig into his back for a moment. “Don’t fuckin’ say that bullshit. S’not okay, even I know that. Partners are supposed to be just that, not accessories you just throw on for fun. Got it?”

“Got it,” Eijirou says weakly, and Bakugou hums, shoving his face back into Eijirou’s chest.

“Good,” Bakugou says into his chest, and Eijirou’s heart does several backflips. He runs his fingers through Bakugou’s hair, scratching lightly at the scalp.

For now, he just has to enjoy this.

“Can I ask my five?” Eijirou asks, and Bakugou grunts his agreement. “Cool. How many boyfriends have you had?”

“Three. None of them lasted very long.” Bakugou's fingers flex against his back, and strong arms wrap around him a little tighter.

“How do you identify yourself?” Eijirou asks, and Bakugou makes a face. “You can pass on that, if you want.”

“Nah, it's just... weird.” Bakugou turns his head so he can look at the wall instead, huffing out a sigh. “I don't have one. Never found anything that sums me up right, so i'm just... me. I didn't like girls, so I thought maybe gay, but I didn't really like boys either, so maybe not that. I just don't like people, and you're some weird, toothy exception and I dunno what that means for me. And I don't really care. Deku's always been obsessed with making that part of his life make sense and knows all these stupid huge words for stuff, but it's not a part of me I really give a shit about. I care more about other stuff. Not straight, not gay, not bisexual, I don't fucking know and I don't really give a damn at this point in my life. If I stumble across a word for what I am, great, but I'm not losing sleep over it.”

Eijirou cards through his hair. “That's fair.”

“What about you?”

“Gay as it gets. I denied it for a long time, which was pretty dumb considering I have two mom's, but I guess I thought it would be stereotypical to be gay because of the whole two moms thing? I dunno. I figured myself out and got over my internalized issues and now I'm good.” Eijirou grins. “I was so dumb.”

“No shit.” Bakugou lets out his harsh little barking laugh, and Eijirou's heart does several backflips.

“Stupidest injury you've ever had?”

Bakugou groans, making a face. “Betting Deku he couldn't knock me out in one hit when we were sparring one day. Woke up with his anxious ass on the phone for an ambulance.”

“Oh my god,” Eijirou laughs, wheezing a little. “I can't believe you had Midoriya knock you out.”

“Yeah, and I lost 2000 yen over it too. Fucking sucked.”

“Midoriya's a tank, I'm surprised you didn't break anything.”

Bakugou snorts. “You and me both. He doesn't fucking pull his punches when we're sparring.”

“What kind of martial arts do you do?”

Bakugou shifts, hugging him a little tighter, and Eijirou basks in the feeling of being held. “A ton of different shit. Mostly Muay Thai, Krav Maga, kickboxing. I picked up some Northern Shaolin kung fu a few years ago, but right now I'm mostly doing Muay Thai and kickboxing. I started in Muay Thai from the time I was, what... nine? Yeah. Started Krav Maga when I was in the states, kept at it until I was 16, started kickboxing at 18.”

“Damn. We should spar sometime.”

Bakugou looks up at him, a spark of interest in his eyes. “What do you practice?”

“Hung Gar style kung fu. Have since I was 14, classically trained. I'm not an adept by any stretch, but I'm not too shabby. I did boxing for a while too!”

“Hmm.” Bakugou settles back down. “Could be fun.”

Eijirou grins. That's practically a yes. “Last question.”

“Hmph.”

“Want to come up here and kiss me some more?”

Bakugou's answer, while definitely not verbal, is a strong affirmative. Eijirou thinks he could get used to seeing that pretty blush high on his cheeks, and settles back to enjoy the rest of his week.

Chapter Text

oOo- Wednesday -oOo

On Wednesday morning, when dawn is just starting to break on the horizon, Katsuki climbs out of bed and heads to the long abandoned tennis court at the very furthest edge of the property to greet the day and do some moving meditation. A good portion of the staff are there, already getting into position, and a few of the older ones give him a nod as he settles in the back. The groundskeeper, a gnarled and strong old Chinese man that Katsuki knows only as Zhang, his family name, walks over as another person begins the ritual of morning Tai Chi Chuan.

Katsuki allows him to adjust his form, feeling his body settle in new and uncomfortable-comfortable ways as he gets into position, and follows the katas of the class with Zhang keeping a careful eye on him. He mimics the cloud hands form, Zhang tapping him here and there to correct him and keep him from fucking up his muscles as the staff slowly move through the forms, all of them perfectly silent except for the rustle of clothing. They spend half an hour together before someone's alarm goes off, and the staff scatter to start their work. In a scant three minutes, Katsuki’s been left alone in the old tennis court, and sighs as the day officially begins.

He follows the meandering paths back towards the house, hesitating before heading up to the little shrine. The pagoda it’s settled under is simple and half enclosed, with careful paintings on the walls that look like they’re an homage to Sakamata’s First Nation’s heritage, and a small shrine dedicated to Ebisu. Katsuki claps twice, closing his eyes, and takes a moment to breathe.

The faint wind rustles his hair as he breathes, salt air tickling his nose, and Katsuki lets the last of the tension slide from his shoulders. Once, when he was small, he'd gone with his father to a small neighborhood shrine. Not in Nerima, somewhere else, quiet and serene in the middle of the city. This shrine feels the same way. Still, soft. Safe.

Please let me get through this week and feel less like shit after, he prays, and if there's a bit of desperation to it he's sure the gods have heard worse.

By the time he’s back to the guesthouse, Kirishima’s gone for the day. There’s a note on the table, a simple, Have a good time and relax!! written on it, and Katsuki sighs. He’s tired. He’s been tired for a long time, and it’s about time he catches up on his sleep. He doesn’t want to sleep in the house, though, so he grabs a towel, switches into his swimsuit, and heads for the pool.

He catches one of the servants at work in the garden, clearing his throat to alert the man, and he looks up. Tohru, he remembers, a somber guy with a theft charge.

“I’m heading to the pool,” he says, indicating his towel. “And I want to be alone until at least 12. Can you pass the message on?”

Tohru nods, tapping the phone at his belt, and Katsuki gives him a short, sharp bow before following the trail down to the pool again. It’s still uncovered, big and open, and Katsuki slips into the slightly cold water with a sigh. His skin pebbles, but he ignores it as he begins swimming long, uncomplicated laps.

His head is loud, buzzing with thoughts, and he takes the time to categorize them as he swims.

1- Kirishima. Kirishima is a problem that somehow isn’t a problem, which leads into -
2- Sexuality. He’s interested in Kirishima, which has never happened before and has him feeling very uncomfortable which joins up with-
3- Deku. Who is very, perhaps unhealthily, sexually active and who’s getting help, but maybe not fast enough. Deku has his whole life settled out in front of him, his career officially on track, which leads into
4- School. More importantly, what comes after it. What he wants out of a career is unstable territory at best and he honestly doesn’t know what to do about it.
5- Last but definitely not least: Being off balance upsets him, and he has no idea how to fix it, and he’s an entire island away from his therapist who might be able to wrangle his brain into fixing its trains of thought but who is not, in fact, on Okinawa or available. Not ideal. He’s just going to have to deal with all this shit himself.

It's past noon when he tires of the water and his racing thoughts. He levers himself out of the pool to get his towel. His muscles ache dully, a sign of good use, and he flops on one of the lounge chairs once he's mostly dried off and picks up his phone.

There's a few messages, mostly emails about future shoots from Purple Hair Aizawa, but one text of a Pomeranian from Deku and a recipe from Auntie for wontons. He saves the Pomeranian and the recipe and is planning on lounging and watching a telenovela to brush up on his Spanish (and possibly because María la del Barrio is a fucking classic) when his phone pops up with an incoming video call from Alien Queen.

Katsuki eyes it for a moment before giving in.

Sighing, he accepts the call. Mina’s face pops up, mouth in an “o” of surprise.

“Hey.”

“Hi! Oh, wow, I didn’t expect you to actually pick up,” Mina says cheerfully. “You never answer my calls! Aizawa told me you were staying in Okinawa with Kiri, how’s that going?”

“Good. He’s fine.” Katsuki rolls over onto his side, settling on the chair. “You just calling to check in or what?”

“Well, yeah,” Mina snorts. Her bubble-gum pink hair is especially curly today, the humidity in Tokyo must have kicked up a notch. “You’ve been all weird recently and then you go and actually take a vacation? I was worried, Bakugou! And Kirishima’s a sweetie, I wanted to make sure he wasn’t like, dying in a ditch or something. Sakamata’s guys must be eating him alive. What about you, you doing okay? Getting lots of sun? Relaxing?”

“I’m fucking fine,” he says without much heat behind it. “So fuckin’ nosy.”

“Mm, that’s what they tell me!” Mina smiles. “What else are friends for?”

And gods, that’s right. They’re friends.

It hits him like a thunderbolt, shaking him right down to his core and officially setting up shop. Mina is his friend. An actual friend. Not an adult who holds onto him, or someone with a history who can’t let go, Mina is a friend.

Some of that must show on his face because Mina’s face falls, becoming serious, and she ducks into a side street to get out of the flow of traffic. He’s used to Mina laughing and joking, being her usual ridiculous self, and it’s weird seeing her serious. “Hey, what’s going on? I mean. You don’t have to tell me, I can shoot the shit with you for hours if it’ll get your mind off of stuff, but if you want, I’m here.”

And… she is. She has been since that stupid party, and he’s never been able to get rid of her since. Even though he’s… well, he’s himself. All rough edges and bad temper and constant uphill battle, she’s just lived with him being a recluse and never letting anyone in. So have Kaminari and Sero. They’ve just rolled with all his oddities, pushing his boundaries without breaking him down, never treating him like a threat. And now he actually has friends, good ones, ones that he’s learned things about. He knows that Sero has opinions on the best kinds of tape, that Kaminari’s got brain damage from being struck by lightning as a child and his nightmare parents and has worked around it ever since, that Mina’s actually pretty smart when she’s allowed to take the time to think things through but people always rush her- a physical learner, one who got left behind. He knows she’s desperately afraid of commitment, that Sero’s parents disowned him, and Kaminari’s polyamorous, that Kaminari’s got a lot of trauma he buries under laughter. He knows that Mina’s parents are divorced and bitter, that Kaminari hates eggs, that Sero can’t stand velvet.

What do they know about him? What has he ever let them know?

He hides himself away, burying his core deep so that nothing can touch him, but Kirishima… Kirishima asked for five truths a day, and he spends them so gently. So carefully. Like the answers are something precious and to be savored.

Is he that unknowable?

“Tell me about your dinner last night,” he says before that train of thought gets too ugly, and Mina grins, her eyes gentle but without pity.

“It was sweet, you missed out!” And she launches into a story about Kaminari and Sero taking her to some upscale place and something with a waiter and some wine and someone’s fancy coat.

“My favorite color is orange,” he says when she stops for breath. Mina’s jaw drops open, shocked.

“Oh.”

“I hate sleeping if there’s even a single light on in my apartment. I think your hair is badass, and it’s cool that you’ve managed to keep it so healthy. I like spicy food the best and I like to cook. A lot.” He huffs out a sigh. “And you're one of the best models I've ever met.”

Mina blinks rapidly, the screen flickering as she moves the phone from her face and clears her throat.

“Are you dying?” She demands when she pulls the phone back to her face. Her eyes look a little wet. “Are you okay? Did something happen, because I will get on a plane in half an hour to come put my stiletto up someone's ass if someone messed with you. You know I'll help you hide a body.”

Katsuki snorts, smiling a little. “Yeah.”

“Oh god, you're smiling. What the fuck.”

He shrugs, rolling back onto his back. “I dunno, I just… I guess I'm tired of being alone or whatever.”

Mina's face does something terribly complicated. “When you get back, I'm gonna hug you so hard your eyes will pop out of your head, mister. Seriously, are you okay? I will absolutely hop a plane to Okinawa, just say the word.”

Katsuki snorts. “I'm good. Just been thinking about a lot of shit recently.”

“Okay,” Mina says giving him a smile. “But the SECOND you want me there, you say the word and I'll come. Okay?”

“Sure.”

“I mean it, you little shit, I don't care if it's 3 in the morning, you call me and I'll roll out of bed to help you kill a man.” Mina pokes the screen. “I dunno how much help I would be, but like, I’m sure I can swing a bat hard enough to take someone out. Got it?”

“Got it,” Katsuki says, and feels better than he has in a month. They say their goodbyes and he puts the phone down on the table, looking up at the vines on the gazebo top without seeing them. The wind rustles his damp hair, fresh air forcing its way into his lungs. Okinawa breathes with the curls of the waves lapping at the shore, and the island seems to press on him with its soothing, calming ways. The world seems so far away, and he’s sheltered away from the worst of it, utterly untouchable.

“Breathe,” he says to himself and the world at large, and lets the dull exhaustion of his swim lull him to sleep.

oOo

Kirishima gets back late, and it’s nearing 7 o’clock when he finally arrives. Katsuki has dinner made, chicken kaarage with plenty of spice and some rice, and is just putting the finishing touches on a spiced chocolate cake covered in drizzled icing when Kirishima walks down the stairs to the kitchen. Katsuki turns, body relaxing as he sees Kirishima.

Who looks. Good. Dear fucking god.

“You actually brought a suit?”

“Found it in the closet. What do you think?”

It’s another gunmetal gray suit like his one from before, but this one makes his shoulders seem even more broad, the cut of it emphasizing his broad chest and heavy muscles. Kirishima’s left it open at the throat, forgoing the tie in favor of the Fatgum choker from the first night, and his shoes are the combat boots from the shoot on Monday. There’s a watch on his wrist, diamond studs in his ears, and Katsuki is suddenly very aware of the fact that he’s only in rather short shorts and a tank top, the rather frilly mint green apron he found in the pantry covering up most of it.

Kirishima looks like he might one day, when he’s joined the ranks of men like Sakamata. Powerful. Strong.

Way too damn hot.

“It’s fine,” he says, after a beat too long, and Kirishima’s cheery smile turns a touch predatory. He strides over to come look at the food, and trails after Katsuki as he wills down the heat that’s flared up in his stomach.

“Hey,” Kirishima says, and something about the way he says it sparks a shiver down his spine. Katsuki lets him use the apron ties to tug him back and around, pushing their hips together, hands falling to Kirishima's waist. Kirishima's eyes spark with want, eyes wandering over the apron and down to his largely bare legs.

“Miss me?” Katsuki murmurs, letting his voice go a little throaty, and Kirishima grins. It's a bit sharper than normal. Hungry.

“Yeah, I did. And then I came back to find you looking so cute, and honestly, this is kind of working for me. You being all domestic and pretty in barely anything is hot.”

Katsuki feels his breath catch when Kirishima’s sturdy thigh slides between his legs, a bit of a blush daring to pop onto his cheeks. Kirishima hums, dragging him in a little closer, and Katsuki growls at him.

“Oi, you aren’t in charge here.”

“Aren’t I?”

Katsuki bares his teeth, and Kirishima just laughs, showing off his own, much sharper ones. He flicks the edge of the apron up so that his leg is a little better situated, and his hands fall to Katsuki’s hips and thighs to absently feel him over.

“You look good like this,” Kirishima purrs, and Katsuki shudders with sudden want.

“Fuck you.”

“Mmm, I wish. Not yet though. C’mere, sweetheart. Kiss me hello.”

“As if you have to ask, you asshole,” Katsuki breathes, and Kirishima grins as he pulls him into a heated kiss. Katsuki wants to melt into it, groaning as Kirishima teases his mouth open. Katsuki’s never been one for kissing with tongue, but god, those sharp teeth feel incredible.

“What did you do today?” Kirishima asks when they pull back, kissing over his neck and leaving little bites in his wake. “I’m using one of my five.”

“Woke up and did Tai Chi with the staff,” Katsuki gasps, knowing he has to be stupidly red. His heart is pounding like he’s just run a marathon, and he’s fully aware that they’re both very hard. “Came back, got changed w-went to the pool, fuck-” Kirishima’s sharp nails have run up the tender insides of his thighs, dangerously close to his cock. These shorts were a mistake. “Swam for a bit, talked to raccoon eyes when she called, slept, made dinner.”

Kirishima’s hands have slipped under his shirt, feeling up his sides. His hands are big, sturdy, wrapping around Katsuki’s waist and squeezing a little. Katsuki kind of wants to rut up against his leg. Stupid handsome handsy Kirishima and his fucking suit and his smile and ugh, feelings and this whole attraction bullshit is stupid and-

And Kirishima’s bent to kiss him, and Katsuki feels himself melting like ice cream on a hot summers day.

It feels so good, having someone treat him like this. Like he’s wanted, like his words mean something. Kirishima pulls them out of him so carefully, so gently, and Katsuki doesn’t know that he’s ever wanted to talk more in his life. No one's ever been like this with him. People treat him with kid gloves or collars and leashes- few meet him on his level. Kirishima doesn't even flinch from his sharp edges.

He's never known that life can feel good.

Katsuki pulls back as Kirishima's hands tighten on his waist, a little breathless. “Off,” he forces out, “I've gotta finish dinner.”

Kirishima whines in disappointment, and Katsuki tugs at the ring on his collar.

“Down, boy,” he snickers, and Kirishima sticks his tongue out at him as he grins.

The food is quickly plated and ready, Kirishima chattering about his day as Katsuki gets the food ready, and by the time they sit down at the table Katsuki's heart no longer feels like it's ready for a Formula One debut.

Kirishima sighs happily, digging into the chicken. “Can I ask my other four now?”

“Go ahead,” Katsuki says, rolling his eyes.

“Sweet,” Kirishima grins, and Katsuki feels his face go hot as Kirishima tangles their feet together. “Okay. Time to spill- what department are you in at Toudai, you crazy smart human?”

Katsuki’s feels flushed with a combination of smug pride and preened ego. “Chemistry.”

“Oh shiiiit, that’s cool,” Kirishima gasps, almost dropping his food. “Chemistry is so manly.”

“You and your fucking manly obsession,” Katsuki mutters, but he’s pleased and Kirishima can see it.

“What was your best subject in high school?” Kirishima asks, shoving a piece of food in his mouth.

“English, actually. I was fluent at that point since I'd spent two years immersed and I kept it sharp.” Katsuki absently pushes around some rice. “Deku and I fought for top spot for years. I won, in the end. We both left with perfect grades somehow.”

Kirishima cocks his head. “Why'd you wait to go to school?”

Katsuki's hand tightens on his chopsticks, but he keeps himself under control as he bites out, “I didn't have the money. I wanted to be independent first, so I worked my ass off until last year.” He forces his hand to relax, taking a careful breath. It's the truth, just not all of it. Kirishima seems to see that and doesn't press.

“Last question, favorite thing to make,” Kirishima asks and Katsuki feels some of the tension slide out of his shoulders.

“It's an American food, from New Orleans originally. Stupid fuckin’ fancy. It's called pompano en papillote. We went to the city for a shoot and the company paying for it sent us the place that invented it, and it's so fucking cool. And extra as fuck. You cook a filet of pompano in a closed up piece of parchment paper, and if you do it right the paper puffs up like a balloon.” Katsuki stabs at his food, smiling in spite of himself. “It's tricky as fuck, but I make it when I want to be a real damn fancy bitch, and for Camie's birthday since she whines if I don't.”

Kirishima immediately pulls out his phone to look it up, and Katsuki finishes his food to yet more questions about cooking. The dessert is perfect, and they wash the dishes together, terribly domestic.

Neither of them can keep their hands to themselves that evening, Katsuki sliding up behind Kirishima to wrap his arms around him and bite at his neck and shoulders to leave little claiming bites, and Kirishima catching him for casually possessive, heated kisses here and there as they rattle around the guest house. Eventually they wind up on the couch, Katsuki massaging Kirishima's back with oils from the bathroom.

He can’t get enough of those shoulders, and Kirishima hums as he runs his hands over his back, exploring the muscles there and committing him to memory. He's broad and powerful, muscles thick, and Katsuki lowers himself to nose at the tender spot behind his ear. Kirishima shivers and melts, making a noise like a cooing hum.

He thinks, perhaps, that he might have a bit of touch starvation.

Katsuki loses himself in the feeling of heat against his hands, and when he falls asleep his dreams are a jumbled mess of bodies twined together, and flames licking up and over his skin to slip into his bones.

oOo- Thursday -oOo

Thursday morning finds him walking to the tennis court in the cool predawn light, and he’s the third one there. Zhang is there, as is Keiko-sama, and he bows because he’s not so stupid as to step into a dojo without saluting the people who could kick his ass ten ways to Sunday without breaking a sweat.

Zhang beckons him forward, Keiko-sama heading off to one corner to stretch and breathe.

Katsuki stands in front of Zhang, taller by over half a foot, and Zhang hums as he looks over him with a critical eye.

“You came here to heal,” he says abruptly, the words strange with the servants near constant silence. Zhang jabs a finger into his chest, right over his heart, and the feeling resonates through him. “You move like a dying whale. Find some peace, say some mantras, actually do some healing while you’re here, kid. You’re all off balance, start figuring it out.”

Katsuki blinks. He wasn’t expecting that.

“How,” he asks bluntly. Zhang shrugs.

“Do I look like a miracle worker?” He demands, sharp tongued as ever. “I’m not a spirit worker or a healer, I’m a gardener with a few decades of experience under my belt. I know some shit about chi and thus ends the list of my understanding. But you’re all sorts of blocked and need to get that shit taken care of. Take a good long look at yourself and get to work on whatever it is that needs fixing.”

“Whatever,” Katsuki mutters.

Zhang clicks his tongue, muttering something in Mandarin too fast for Katsuki to catch, and shakes his head. “Have it your way. Let’s at least fix your form, you look awful.”

Tai Chi is agonizing. It’s a particular sore spot with him, when people talk about how relaxing Tai Chi is, like it’s not an art form that requires extreme muscle control. For him especially, always tense, it’s difficult. Zhang adjusts him here and there to make sure he doesn’t put too much pressure on his knees or ankles, but by the time the alarm rings, his head feels a little more clear. He straightens, stretching out again, and takes his time walking back to the guest house. Kirishima is once again gone, the note on the table this time reading, ‘kick ass today!!!’

As Katsuki showers, his mind wanders.

Zhang was right. He doesn’t like it, but he’s right. This is supposed to be a relaxing time, something for recovery and healing, and he’s feeling better but still… still off. There’s a million and one things swirling through his head, uncertainties and disconnects and he can’t quite get a grip on all of it. Healing is messy work, digging into old wounds and dumping out the shit that he doesn’t need. Mental decluttering, Auntie’s said a couple times, and he likes that idea.

Katsuki keeps his home very empty. He keeps few sentimental belongings, discards his hobby work when it’s done unless he’s very, very pleased with it, and he ruthlessly cleans out his clothes each season. He’s gifted clothes constantly, and what he doesn’t like he donates back to the same thrift stores where Auntie first took him to get a new wardrobe. After a childhood full of awards and trophies and artwork, lots of furniture and everything loud, he likes his home the way it is. It looks like a lived in hotel room, sometimes, peaceful and a little bland, with the smallest touches of personality. Clutter has no place there. Sentimentality is on thin ice. He purges what he doesn’t need with a hard eye and ruthless hand, and his head must be no different.

He starts class in a week. He’ll be dropping opportunities at work to focus on something he’s not even sure he wants. He’ll no longer be lounging on a beach with Kirishima, or at work most of the time, or doing anything aside from throwing himself headlong into equations and labs and endless miles of repetitive work and math. So he needs to find what’s most important, list it out, and make decisions on how to most effectively balance his time.

Katsuki wants Kirishima to be part of that time.

He stares blankly at the shower walls. “Shit,” he says flatly. The shower is unsympathetic.

He spends his morning working on buying his textbooks and supplies, and by the time lunch has rolled around his head is both settled and unsettled. He puts his phone down, drumming his fingers on the table top, Kirishima swirling through his head and tugging at his mind. It’s new and strange, and he needs some clarity.

He wrestles with himself for a moment before biting his pride and pulling out his phone.

Text to: Deku
oi
useless Deku
I need a favor.

It takes all of about twenty seconds before his phone buzzes in response.

Text from: Deku
I have two bug out bags and know a guy who makes passports and can use the company jet to get to Okinawa in about 3 hours
Do i need to bring shovels
Do you need to bury a body
please tell me you didn’t kill kirishima he’s way too nice

Katsuki stares at the texts for a long moment before saying, with great enthusiasm, “What the fuck, Deku.”

Text to: Deku
What the fuck
I just need to talk to talk to Toshinori and you have his fucking schedule
Kirishimas fine, his annoying ass is out with Sakamata.

Text from: Deku
Oh thank god, you scared me.

Text to: Deku
the fuck do you mean you have bags and a jet???
HOW DO YOU KNOW A GUY WHO MAKES PASSPORTS???? THE FUCK, DEKU

Text from: Deku
You remember strangulation dude? He makes them. He might be Yakuza. And by might i mean he definitely is but he sent me flowers and his card soooo you know
Gotta have connections~~
i have full access to literally every aspect of the company and the jet barely gets used anyway. I could steal an entire plane with full legal access.
And we lived in america for two years kacchan, you’re telling me you DONT have an emergency flee the country bag??

Katsuki pauses, thinking of the duffel underneath his bed that’s there for that exact purpose.

Text to: Deku
Fuck you.
Can you get me time to talk to Toshinori or not

Text from: Deku
凸(◕‿◕✿) of course I can
Dont test me bitch, i work miracles for a living

Okay, yeah, that’s fair. Kind of.

Katsuki pulls on the frilly mint apron and takes a massive cucumber from the refrigerator to work on some elaborate decorations for dinner, and some slices for himself to snack on. He's anticipating it taking a while- Toshinori is busy all the damn time- but his phone buzzes again.

Text from: Deku
You've got half an hour in three minutes
Rip finance team, they get to deal with Sir instead

RIP in-fucking-deed.

Katsuki waits the allotted three minutes, then dials. The phone only rings once.

My boy!

Katsuki’s heart squeezes in his chest. “Hey, Toshinori.”

I see you so rarely and you call even less, I’m glad you caught me.” Toshinori sounds practically jovial, just thrilled that Katsuki’s called. His heart eases a little. “How is Okinawa?

“Fucking beautiful,” Katsuki says, looking out at the ocean outside the house. “Sakamata’s place is paradise or whatever. Kirishima- that intern from Fatgum- he’s decent enough too. He’s out for the day, thought I’d call so he couldn’t interrupt.”

Toshinori chuckles, his voice rustling like expensive paper down the line. “Ahh, the red-head! Calling him decent is high praise coming from you, my boy, you must like him a great deal. Have you called just to chat, or do you have something you wished to ask me? I am happy either way to hear from you!

Katsuki picks up the cucumber and knife, balancing the phone with his shoulder and ear. “Yeah, actually. It’s kinda… a lot. You don’t have to talk about it, everyone fucking knows I’m a locked up safe with eight combinations before they get to unlock my tragic fucking backstory but I figured you’re the best person to ask about this, so. Here I am. I’m trying to do this whole fucking… openness thing or whatever.”

Oh my,” Toshinori says mildly, which is an allowance to continue.

Katsuki starts chopping, making the slices as fine as possible. “You’ve never married. You don’t really date. I mean, you date sometimes, I know you and Auntie made a go of it for a while and there’s Melissa’s dad- I don’t even know what the fuck went on with that, I mean, she’s basically your kid, and Deku’s definitely your kid since his sperm donor fucked off to who know’s where. You’ve got kids but no partner, and I dunno it just. Got me thinking. Does it…” He takes a deep breath, forcing the words out. “Is it bad? Or lonely, not being romantic and shit? I’ve been thinking a lot about this shit, this- this dating bullshit. Maybe giving it another shot. I dunno that I want to. I don’t know that I need to, but I’ve never really met another person like me. Except maybe you.”

There’s a lingering pause, then Toshinori sighs, very soft.

I wondered if you might ask me about it one day,” he says, a little sad, a little quiet. There’s a rustle on the other end, the sound of a lock clicking shut. “I’ve always thought you might take after me like this, possibly. In your own way. And… it can be very lonely. Very, very lonely. But for me, it has been important to become fulfilled in other ways. We’re told that a partner, a husband, a wife, is the only way to fill that section of ourselves that relies on others. It is, I am happy to tell you, a kind of lie for people like us. Friends, good friends, they fill it well. The family we find helps too.

Katsuki puts down the knife, listening to the faint squeak of fabric as Toshinori sits back down.

I’ve never loved,” Toshinori says, somewhat wistful. “I thought I was defective for years. I tried to build relationships, I tried very hard, but I couldn’t give them what they needed or wanted, and they couldn’t give me what I wanted either. I wanted a true partner, but without any of the romance that would come with it. Dave and I… well. That is a difficult story. Melissa is my daughter in all but name, this is true, and I am. I am grateful, that I have a family, even if none of it is romantic. Inko, David, Sir, they are all a piece of my family. I have partners, of a sort, and I have children. Do not think I missed you leaving yourself off of that list. You are as much my son as Izuku is, as far as I’m concerned. Whether you wish to claim the title of son or not, it is there should you want it.

Katsuki’s blindsided by that, and his eyes suddenly blur. “Mm.” Speaking is beyond him. Toshinori doesn’t press, though, just carries on.

Our experiences will be different, of course. No two people are exactly the same, but whether or not you fall in love… you will not be alone in this world. You have a family. People who do love you, Katsuki, very much. Whether or not you take a partner, or parent a child, that will not change. Family is never limited to blood.

Katsuki clears his throat, fighting back the sting in his eyes.

“Thanks,” he says at last, and Toshinori huffs out a small laugh.

Of course, my boy. I do miss you, you know. I’d like to see you more.

“I know.” He braces his hands on the counter, looking out at the ocean. It’s easier, like this, not talking to him face to face. He doesn’t have to see that expressive face. “I’m… I’m working on it. Deku said you wanted us to come for dinner on Monday, right?”

Yes! Melissa will be here as well, she wanted to see you both and I thought it would be a good idea. I understand if you decide not to come, but I would be very happy to have you there.

Oh gods. It’s been a bit since he’s seen or heard from Melissa. Deku’s probably having a fucking time of it dealing with her.

“I’ll be there,” he promises anyway, and watches the waves crash on the shore. “Hey, Toshinori.”

Yes?

“All of the shit you’ve gone through… Was it worth it, to have us? Me and Melissa and Deku?”

Toshinori’s voice is painfully soft when he says, “Every moment was worth it. I cannot say I've been the best father, or even a very good one… but I regret none of it.

They say their goodbyes, and Katsuki wraps up the food and puts it back in the refrigerator. It’s time for a swim to clear his head, and think about everything that Toshinori’s said.

This time Katsuki goes down to the dock and swims in the ocean, enjoying the clean blue water. The ocean is a bit cool but pleasant enough, and he stays in the shallows as much as he can, not going out any further than where it's about eight feet deep to be safe. He’s a strong swimmer, but he’s not an idiot, and the shallows are warmer anyway. The last thing he needs is to be caught out in a riptide. Deku would never let him live it down.

He returns to the dock to find Kirishima there, home early and napping on the wood. He looks as ridiculous as ever, dressed in red crocs, cut off jean shorts, and a neon pink shirt with ‘TACKY’ written in a splashy font in English written on it.

Katsuki rests his arms on the dock, watching Kirishima faintly snore, and marvels at how stupidly good looking he is. He wants to kiss this dumb, perfect face for the rest of his life.

To cope with this, he splashes Kirishima with water and laughs as he sputters awake.

“Oh hey!” Kirishima grins at him, wiping the water off of his face, and crawls over to plant a kiss on Katsuki’s forehead. “Missed you, babe.”

Katsuki feels his face go bright red.

“Don’t fucking call me babe,” he manages before Kirishima pulls him half out of the water for another kiss.

He makes dinner, this time katsudon and sliced vegetables, dealing with Kirishima being casually handsy and feeling him up the entire time. They eat together. Kirishima tells him about his day, and asks simple questions. This time it’s his favorite restaurant in Tokyo (a tiny hole-in-the-wall Indian place in Ikebukuro), whether he wanted pets (yes, probably a dog but cats would also be acceptable), the weirdest shoot he’s ever done (covered in butter. That one was probably honestly a fetish thing now he looks back at it), his least favorite fruit (grapes), and his favorite candle scent (which, weird, but unscented is best).

He falls asleep on the couch with his head in Kirishima’s lap, listening to him read a translation of Don Quixote, and dreams of nothing.

oOo- Friday -oOo

He wakes up feeling as though he’s existing slightly to the left of reality. Kirishima must have brought him to bed, because he’s in his room, still dressed in the tank top and loose sweats of the night before, and he sits up slow and groggy. Dawn is just barely starting, and he reluctantly rolls out of bed and shoves his shoes on to head to the tennis court.

Tai Chi is better. Even though his head is fuzzy, his body is more comfortable than before. Zhang gives him a long look but leaves him be. Kirishima’s note this time has a sketch attached, surprisingly good, of a fish with a speech bubble reading ‘have a kickass day!!!’

The same as he has ever day, Katsuki takes the note and puts it with his things, careful not to wrinkle or bend it. He’ll keep them, for when he has bad days and needs something to smile about.

He relaxes on the porch for a while, writing out responses to emails. Someone- it looks like Keiko-sama actually- is out in a kayak and bobbing across the waves with nothing but a paddle, checking around what’s probably the perimeter of what’s considered Sakamata’s property. Katsuki watches it for a while before finishing up another email, and by the time he looks back up the kayak and its passenger are gone.

The house feels empty without Kirishima laughing in it.

His email pings again, an invitation to a club dedicated to Chemistry and exclusive to Chemistry majors. There’s a picture attached, people having fun and doing experiments. They’re in a lab, dressed in poorly fitted dress shirts and slacks. One of them is wearing the exact same shade of blue that Katsuki’s first personally tailored suit had been.

For a moment, as he stares at the picture, he can hear the faint whirrr of the sewing machine, Auntie’s sturdy 30 year old Dressmaker moving along and the sting of pins sharp against his fingers. Sure, some of these 19 year old idiots might have known what it was to dress well, but can he pretend he’s ever known what it is to really do science? The gap between them feels impossible. His whole life has been devoted to a single industry.

“What the fuck am I doing,” he asks the empty house. There’s no reply.

He wanders aimlessly through the house, too restless to work on anything and unsettled in his skin. He gives up after a simple, bland lunch, and leaves the guesthouse. He walks the property, nodding to the servants as he passes them, and finds himself out on the dock once again, watching the waves curl and lap against the posts.The kayak has been tied up against it, bumping up and down in the water here and there. Katsuki inhales the salt air and lets his mind drift.

The dock shakes a little as someone steps on it a good hour later, and Katsuki turns to see Sakamata in comfortable cotton pants and a loose haori, his broad chest bare.

“I thought it was you,” Sakamata says, smiling, and joins him on the end of the dock. He's wearing makeup today, his vitiligo covered for once and turning his skin a smooth tanned brown, and Katsuki frowns.

“What's up with your face?” he asks, and Sakamata smiles wryly.

“This may come as a shock, but even I am susceptible to societal pressure sometimes.” Sakamata kicks off his canvas shoes, letting his feet dangle in the water. Katsuki looks out at the expanse of the ocean, the jutted out rocks and little green islands floating on the water. It's weird, thinking of Sakamata as someone who got bothered by anything the world threw at him. Except lateness. Sakamata loathes it when people are late. They sit in silence for a while before Sakamata says softly, “What's troubling you, Bakugou?”

“I'm fine,” he says automatically, and Sakamata chuckles.

“No, you're not, or you'd be at the main house eating me out of house and home and using my oven to make macaroons just to prove you can. I know you well enough, kid, and I've done this song and dance routine a few different times.”

Katsuki huffs out a sigh, kicking his feet and watching the ripples roll out from his movements. “Fine. I don't... I don't know what I want. And it's pissing me off.”

Sakamata cocks his head, nodding for him to go on. His dark eyes are painfully kind, and Katsuki looks away from them.

Be open, Katsuki. Show some trust for the man who kept you alive.

“It's just... My whole life I've just tried to stay alive and keep from hurting myself. And I fell in love with chemistry, I love making shit like that, I'm in a good school for it but what if that isn't what I want?” He picks up a pebble that's on the edge of the dock, tossing it out into the water. “I knew what I wanted. I used to. I was going to make safer fireworks, or design new firefighting compounds, or something like that. Work in a lab, have a 9 to 5. And then all the bullshit with my family happened, and I had to put it on hold and worked my ass off just to have enough money to survive, and then I finally got into Toudai and now there's... other shit. I was just going to live alone, maybe get a dog or a cat and have a quiet apartment and pay Auntie back before Deku could and go mountain climbing on the weekends and die peacefully on top of some huge fuckoff mountain when I was 82 after winning the Nobel prize for something. And now that's all gone to shit.” Katsuki watches the waves roll in and out, frowning. “Now I can't stop thinking about what it'd be like to make room for another person to be in my life for good. Like. Forever, for good. Til death do we fucking part. And what if I want to stay in this industry? The fuck am I going to do with a chemistry degree as a model? Who's going to hire me when all I am is a model?”

Sakamata hums, kicking his feet in the water. “What about perfumes?”

What.

“What?”

Sakamata shrugs. “Perfume is chemistry. There are always people who need more fire retardant clothing. Manufacturers always need new chemicals, new dyes, that sort of thing. There are plenty of chemists in fashion, if this is where you want to stay.”

Katsuki huffs, staring down at the clear water in consternation. “But what if it's not? What if I fuck all this up because I make the wrong choice? What the fuck do I do then? Then I’m stuck! Forever!”

His throat seizes up and he balls his hands into fist, frustrated. It’s so much and he’s just so damn stuck and just-

Sakamata chuckles and ruffles his hair, big hands surprisingly gentle. “You have time, Bakugou. I know it feels like the world is rushing on ahead of you and you're stumbling as you try to catch up, racing to get an edge, but you have time. No one's ever the same person they were even a year before. Know where I was, at 23?”

Katsuki shakes his head, throat too tight to speak.

“I was gutting fish off the coast of Alaska. I lived in a house with 12 people shoved inside it, worked on my feet 10 hours a day in a factory, wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life. I was going to get my masters degree in biology, and spend the rest of my life in Canada, or the States, studying orcas.” Sakamata grins, wrapping an arm around Katsuki's shoulders and pulling him in for a rough hug. It's more reassuring than it has any right to be. “You're gonna be okay, kid. Maybe not right now, maybe not even in a couple years... but you're gonna get there. You'll find a place, and if I know anything about that stubborn head of yours, you'll make your own happiness too. Even if it doesn't look like the way you imagined it.”

Katsuki turns, pressing his face against Sakamata's haori, and takes a few deep breaths to keep the tears down. How long has it been since someone’s comforted him like this? He doesn’t want to think about it. He’s too damn tired.

“You're gonna be okay,” Sakamata says again, horribly gentle, and this time Katsuki has to squeeze his eyes shut as a few overwhelmed tears escape.

He's right. It's going to be fine.

“C'mon, kid,” Sakamata says, squeezing him gently. “Let’s make some kickass macarons for your boy.”

“He’s not my boy.”

“Sure. Let’s make them anyway.”

They’re damn good macarons.

oOo

It's their last night in Okinawa. The last night alone.

Kirishima stands on the deck, looking out over the water, and doesn't twitch when Katsuki steps up behind him and wraps his arms around his torso, tight. It's been a long day, and Katsuki’s not ready to go home. They’ll fly out of Okinawa at 1 in the afternoon, heading back to the rush and bustle of Tokyo, leaving the island behind.

“Hey,” Katsuki mumbles, pressing his face into Kirishima's back.

“Hey,” Kirishima echoes, hands dropping to hold onto Katsuki's. “You ready to go home?”

“No fucking way.” Katsuki kisses his neck, running his teeth over the spot to watch Kirishima shiver. “The real world can fuck off.”

“Yeah, that's fair.” Kirishima turns around in his arms, smiling at him with such incredible softness, and Katsuki catches his breath. He's so beautiful in the moonlight. Katsuki catches his mouth in a kiss, letting it linger with bittersweet kindness.

“I'm going to miss this,” Kirishima whispers, eyes heavy lidded as he pulls Katsuki in just to hold him.

“Miss what?”

“All of this.” He nuzzles against Katsuki's head, some overgrown puppy in the best sort of way. “The ocean, this house... You, cooking dinner, kissing me, smiling. You've been so, I don't know. Happy, I guess. You're happy here, more than I've ever seen you. More settled, less like you're trying to crawl out of your own skin, even though I know there’s something going on in that head of yours.”

Katsuki rests his head on Kirishima's shoulder, relaxing into him. “It's...quiet. No noisy fucking neighbors or street noise, just the ocean and the house and whatever. The people are quiet, Sakamta's pretty quiet, everything's slower here. Let’s me think more, dunno if that’s good or bad. Not like home. Nothing ever shuts up at home, it makes...” He huffs, tightening his grip on Kirishima. “Tokyo's loud. Really fucking loud. It's hard to track everything with my hearing.”

“Can I ask about that?”

“... Yeah.”

“Alright.” Kirishima's strong hand runs up and down his back, holding without smothering. Soothing without pity. Katsuki hadn't known how desperate he was for kind touch until now. “Were you born like this, or did something happen?”

Katsuki closes his eyes. He can see the memory in front of him, the sparkling lights of the fireworks. He can feel the phantom sting of the sparks on his his hands, how his muscles went still, half of his mind screaming and the other half perfectly silent for once.

If he tells Kirishima this, there's no going back. No stories he can tell to explain his fuck ups away.

“You're sure you want to know?” he asks.

“I'm sure. If you don't want to tell me, it's okay.”

Kirishima's fingers card through his hair. Katsuki makes his decision.

“When I was 16, a few weeks from my next birthday,” he says lowly, “there was an accident. Kind of. I don't know how much you'll understand this, but I have diagnosed pyromania. I'm... I'm fire obsessed, real obsessed, not like kids joke about. I've been this way since I was a kid. It's just always been like this, I'm not- shit.” He takes a moment to compose himself. Kirishima doesn't interrupt, listening patiently. “I take meds for it, it's like that. A mental health thing. It's addition, obsession, a way to- to cope with being out of control of your life. I didn't have any real say over anything that happened to me as a kid so that's probably where it started. I'm not better, I'm never gonna be fucking better, but I'm handling it now. Anyway. I told you I lived in the states for two years. 12 to 14. I was kept with Midoriya by this guy- we called him Sludge. He was a pile of shit. There were some laws and shit, I've never understood the whole thing, but basically me and Deku's parents couldn't get us out of the states so we were basically kidnapped and working for this bastard for two years. We didn't know all the details, or all the legal shit, we thought it was like a really shit working study abroad. I started getting worse. He was a nightmare, he kept us on a tight leash and we both lashed out in different ways. Deku- that's his story. For me the pyromania got worse. I hoarded lighters and things to set shit on fire, and was just constantly setting them. Aizawa and Yagi-san got us out eventually, but I was... fucked. I was really fucked in the head at that point. I was way more addicted than when I left. I got sent to an inpatient facility for a couple months. That helped, a little. But after I got out I got worse and worse. When I was sixteen, I bought some fireworks to set off, illegally. A lot of them. Big ones. I went out to the woods, lit them up, and I didn't stand back or look away. I just sorta... snapped.”

Kirishima's arms tighten around him, head turning to press a kiss to the side of his head. Katsuki takes a deep, shuddering breath.

“I was just... right there. And they all went off at once. The light fucked up my eyes but with- with how many I bought, I really fucked up my ears. I lost a lot of my hearing. I've got hearing aids, now, Mic's got connections with a company who make stealth ones. I fucking hate wearing them, it's... it's overwhelming. I can't hear at a range, most of the time. I have a hard time differentiating between sounds if there's a lot of them. High noises are hard to hear, too, or they're just... not there. Now you know.”

Kirishima kisses his temple, breathing, “Shit. That's rough, man.”

“Yeah.” Katsuki buries his face against Kirishima's neck. “There you go. My big bad secret. Don't go fucking blabbing it around.”

“I won't.”

I know, Katsuki wants to say, but instead he just kisses Kirishima instead. The moonlight spills over his cheekbones, turning him into some sort of chiseled god. Kirishima smiles, teeth sharp and kind and inviting and Katsuki knows.

He wants this. He wants Kirishima.

He doesn’t know about anything else, but this…

“When we get back,” he says, heart rattling around in his chest like a caged thing fighting to get free. “When we get back, I want… I want this to stay. Not officially, not yet. But this- thing. The getting to know each other. I want that. No strings because I don’t want you feeling tied to me, at all. And I don’t fucking want to tell people, I really don’t, unless we’re sure we’re gonna commit to whatever this is. If this doesn’t work out, I don’t need the whole world breathing down our necks to find out why.”

Kirishima’s smile is blinding. “You wanna woo me?”

“Yeah. I guess. I don’t fucking have a clue what I’m doing but sure, let’s date or whatever until we know if we want to do like. Actual dating. Courting. I don’t know what the fucking term is.” Katsuki buries his face against Kirishima’s shoulder, groaning.

Kirishima laughs, pressing a quick, firm kiss to his temple. “Such a romantic I’ve found.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

Kirishima laughs again, and Katsuki thinks maybe his whole life has led up to this. Firm arms around his waist, a solid body pressed against him and holding him tight, a calm Okinawa night where everything, for once, is quiet and peaceful and still except for the rattling of his own heart.

He thinks he’s going to like falling in love.

Chapter Text

Katsuki has never been so unhappy to touch down in Tokyo, but after a positively brutal time at baggage claim he and Kirishima escape the airport and jam themselves onto a train headed towards Setagaya and Minato. Katsuki takes the opportunity to smash himself up against Kirishima’s chest and rest his head on his shoulder while he desperately soaks up the last easy physical affection he’ll be getting in a while. They have to switch trains eventually, Kirishima squeezing his hand before he vanishes into a different one, and then it’s a train, and a bus, and a short walk until Katsuki’s building blessedly comes into view. He almost cries with relief, and hauls himself to the second floor, door F, and unlocks it. He drops his keys in the bowl, looks down, and is immediately assaulted by the sight of bright red shoes sitting innocently in front of the step.

“Fuck,” he informs the world at large, and braces himself for impact.

“You’re back! Finally! Welcome home! How was Okinawa?”

Deku practically skids into the genkan, and Katsuki resists the urge to turn around and go right back out the door.

“Deku, why are you in my house,” he groans. “You have your own fucking apartment. Where you live. And have your own life. Could you not just- be there. And not here.”

“Yeah, but Rin came back and tried to bribe me into getting back together by getting one of those bearded dragon lizards, which, I mean, it’s not the weirdest gift I’ve ever seen but like, I don’t even know what to do with a lizard. I don’t even like lizards that much and made him keep it because honestly I can’t take care of a houseplant let alone an entire living breathing animal. So I’m avoiding my apartment until he goes away because he’s like, staking it out? And I think he wants to steal that really nice scroll he gave me but that was a gift, and he can’t have it back, and he only wants it because the fabric has these little tiny dragons on it. It’s honestly kind of tacky now that I think about it, maybe I should just give it to him. Also I did all of the dishes and cleaned the house and did your laundry, oh, and Okaa-san made curry so I brought you some and it’s in the fridge. Also I maybe broke into that super caffeinated tea that you never drink, it’s really good and you should really use it up.”

Deku’s practically vibrating in place, and Katsuki takes a moment to unpack all of that.

“Your ex bought a fucking bearded dragon to try and get you back.”

“Yeah.” Deku blinks at him.

“That’s real fuckin’ weird, Deku.”

“I know, right? He named it Ryu, too, so like, it wasn’t even like I would have got to name it. Do you want me to heat up the curry?”

“Hold up, isn’t your ex’s name-”

“Hiryu? Yeah. He’s a lot. And we only dated for like four months. Let me take your bags!”

“I think the fuck not. Go heat up the curry.”

Deku scuttles away like some over enthusiastic green spider, and Katsuki turns around and thumps his head against the door, letting out a wordless scream under his breath. It’s taking everything in him not to text Kirishima and propose marriage just so he can leave this goddamn apartment and never have to deal with people invading his space ever again with their weird-ass problems. Maybe Sakamata would hire him to be a lawn ornament or something. It’s not too late to change his name and move to rural Canada and herd sheep or goats or something. Gods.

Then again, Deku, Auntie, and Toshinori are the only people who’ve ever actually been in his apartment, so really, he has only himself to blame for not doing all of his moving by himself and letting these fuckers know where he lives.

“I hate this fucking family,” he informs his door.

“I heard that, Kacchan!”

“You were supposed to!”

Deku settles down after a bit of whining about Katsuki not spilling everything about his Okinawa trip and heating up the curry, planting himself on the couch with what looks like a pile of handkerchiefs that he’s embroidering with various kanji. Katsuki knows for a fact that the “katsu” of his name is in there, somewhere, and just hopes that Deku’s planned the color choices well as he sits down on the couch with his food and props his feet on the table.

Auntie likes pork, likes dishes with pork, and has taught him plenty of recipes for it. Her pork katsu curry is good, but lacks the punch-you-in-the-teeth bite of her usual curry, so he always makes his just a touch spicier.  Deku can cook, but not well- he took after her in the other domestic arts. Katsuki’s mind wanders as he eats, comfortable in the quiet. They’d spent hours in the afternoons together in perfect silence, each working on their projects. Deku would be hunched over the sewing machine either at a fold out table in his room or in the corner of the living room not occupied by Katsuki’s meager belongings, the Dressmaker machine making its familiar whirr-click-click as he took sheets of fabric and turned them into dresses and skirts and shirts and coats, endless practice, a sturdy and collapsible dressform sitting there draped in whatever butcher paper Deku’s hacked up to make pattern pieces as Katsuki spent hour after hour crafting intricate meals for Auntie to come home to. It had been a respite at his parents house, and it remained one there- no one disturbs him if he’s preparing food, after all. They know they’ll be fed in time.  

Now, with Deku humming some old song and engrossed in needlework while he eats dinner, it feels positively domestic. He’s mildly offended.

“I’m picking Melissa up Monday, how much do I have to bribe you to drive us instead?” Deku asks as he starts working on the Urara of Round-face's name, and Katsuki grimaces. “Oh, come on.”

“I barely fucking know her.”

“Please? I hate using a driver, it's creepy and uncomfortable and I don't trust them. Besides, she likes you. Mostly.”

Katsuki glares at him. “I have class until 3 in the afternoon.”

“Perfect! She doesn’t fly in until 5:30 at the earliest, and Haneda’s always delayed. That’s plenty of time!” Deku grins at him, big and easy. Katsuki looks around for a throw pillow to toss at him. “C’mon, Kacchan, it’s not so bad. You’re supposed to drive cars to keep them running properly sometimes, right?

“Since when do you know anything about cars, mister-I-can’t-drive-because-I’m-gay?”

“Wow, rude but accurate,” Deku snorts, grinning at him. “Appropriate internet humor though, good job. I can’t drive because I haven’t had time and you know it. But next year, I’m going to! I’m definitely going to learn.”

“Sure,” Katsuki drawls, and Deku cheerfully flips him off.

Thankfully all of his school supplies have arrived, and Katsuki spends the afternoon unpacking all his things from Sakamata, washing his laundry, and preparing his bag for the next day while Deku turns on an American drama and works on his stitching. Deku orders takeout for dinner, and Katsuki finds himself folding laundry while some girl ruminates on the sad state of her life and Deku eats pizza.

“Hey,” Deku says as Katsuki finishes up the folding.

“What, brat?”

“First off, I don’t wanna hear that from you, Kacchan. Second… you okay?” Deku nibbles at a slice, giving him a bit of side eye. “You’ve been really quiet since you got back, you haven’t even really yelled at me. I mean, you’ve been loud, but calm too. It’s kind of freaking me out.”

Katsuki shrugs. “Just feeling good, I guess. It was a good vacation.”

Deku gives him a long, suspicious look, and shrugs. “Alright then.”

And that’s that.

oOo

Katsuki wakes up to Deku curled up on his floor Sunday morning in a little ball, hugging a pillow tight and covered by his spare blanket. He sighs, watching the slow rise and fall of his chest as Deku sleeps.

Usually Deku settles on the couch but sometimes he migrates into Katsuki’s space after bad nightmares, creeping in like the nervous little rabbit he is. The first few times he’d pulled it Katsuki had yelled at him, but after a particularly nasty fight Deku had just thrown up his arms and yelled back that he was scarier than any nightmares, so really, it just shut his head up enough so that he could sleep. And Katsuki really couldn’t say anything in the face of that, so now he just has to deal with it on bad nights.

He huffs in annoyance and pulls his phone to his face rather than dealing with Deku.

Yet more damn emails have showed up. His professors have more information, Aizawa has some last minute paperwork for him, there’s the usual spam, Sakamata’s forwarded him some information about a party that he’s being pointedly encouraged to go to, and Cementoss has sent him some of the roughs from the shoot they did. They look good, at least. He fills out the paperwork for Aizawa, tells Sakamata over his dead body is he going to a party during school time, and reads the information from his professors- which is exactly nothing he didn’t already know.

And as soon as he finishes it all, there’s the buzz of a text from Kirishima.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Hey man i haven’t heard from you but i hope you got home safe!
Miss you

Katsuki’s heart squeezes.

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Sorry, not used to texting much.
I’m home safe. School starts tomorrow so i wont be at work as much
I’ll try and stop by when i can
Miss you too.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
We’re gonna have to start doing lunch, like adults lol
I’m excited to see you again~~~

Sighing, he rolls over and lets the phone drop on his chest. Kirishima is like a hole in his chest, a sore spot he doesn’t want to poke at. But the feeling of hands and lips and a warm body pressed against his to shower him in affection is something that he’s missing, and it itches.

Deku stirs, lifting his head from the floor and looking blearily around. “Kacchan?”

“Right here,” Katsuki says, staring at the ceiling.

“Oh, good.” Deku flops back down, pulling the blanket tighter around him. “Sorry. Nightmares again.”

“Didn’t ask.”

He makes a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, heavy on the seasoning and deeply American in style, and they eat in the early morning sun. Katsuki does meal prep for the week as Deku stitches in patches of sunlight like a cat, the soft thunk ch-thunk of the knife against the cutting board a calming counterbalance to the faint strains of someone playing late 2000’s Korean metal from somewhere in the building. It’s a comfortably brisk afternoon, Spring well and fully raising her head from slumber, and as Katsuki washes off the cutting board he feels the stranglehold of winter easing from his chest.

“We’re taking the car,” he says once lunch is eaten and the time to leave is upon them, and Deku just nods, going to grab his jacket before they head down to the building’s garage.

Katsuki’s car isn’t his favorite possession, but it’s serviceable and sturdy enough. It’s a nearly 10 year old full sized Prius in plain grey, bought used and with a completely clear title. It does its job, is utterly unremarkable, and if Katsuki dreams of trading it out for a bright orange muscle car, that’s a problem for his midlife crisis. Adulthood is stupid, but it gets incredible gas mileage and he’s not so rich that he can go haring around wasting money on a car. He doesn’t drive often, but it feels like a good day for it. Deku doesn’t complain, plopping himself in the front passenger seat and relaxing against it as they take a lazy, winding route out of Seta towards the very edge of Suginami. It’s a quiet day, pleasant, and Katsuki enjoys the drive. They arrive on time, and Deku checks in as Katsuki settles on a couch to wait.

Deku drops down next to him, practically shoving his head in front of Katsuki’s face to look at the article that he has up. “What’s this?”

“History of chemistry during England’s Regency period,” Katsuki says before pushing him back into his seat. “Jane Marcet might have had help with her book by some lady called Frederica Sebright, I want to know more about it.”

“Jane Marcet?”

“She wrote Conversations on Chemistry, it was a big fucking deal at the time and still is, actually. She was a bit of a badass. It was the first simple chemistry book for the public.”

“Oooh.”

Deku reads over Katsuki’s shoulder until he’s called in, and Katsuki settles in to read. He’s finding he likes this hour, likes having the silence to himself to read and relax a little. The hour passes quickly, and Deku emerges in less of a rush than usual, thoughtful and tired. They head out to the car once he’s finished his paperwork, Deku flopping into his seat. Deku leans against the car window as Katsuki buckles his seatbelt, staring blankly out at the world, and Katsuki waits for him to talk.

“Can we go to a park?” Deku asks quietly, and Katsuki nods. They stop at a conbini to grab sandwiches, and a few minutes later they’re walking into Kenpukuji Park, just a few minutes from the therapist's office. It’s a long park, skinny rather than wide, and two decent sized ponds sit at the center with green space around. There’s a few blossoming cherry trees, and Deku perks up, tugging him along so that they can go eat under them. The benches are pretty comfortable, and Katsuki flops out on them, looking up at the sea of pale pink as he eats.

“Good?” he asks once they’ve sat for a while.

“Yeah,” Deku says after a beat, tapping his fingers on his leg. “We talked about Melissa today. I feel better about her coming.”

Katsuki raises an eyebrow, and Deku clarifies.

“I was feeling… jealous, I guess?” He makes a face at his sandwich. “She’s like Toshinori-san’s first kid. And he doesn’t see her as much, so of course he’s really excited. And it’s great, having a dad that I see all the time now, but I was feeling anxious about stuff and a little replaced. But I feel better about it now.”

“Good,” Katsuki says, decisive. “No one wants to replace your useless ass anyway.”

Deku grins at him, kicking his feet. “That’s really sweet of you.”

“Fuck off,” Katsuki says, without heat behind it, and finishes the last of his sandwich.

Deku looks up at the trees, watching the cherry blossoms. “I think… we’re getting better. At being around each other, I mean. Maybe it’s because we just had a fight, and we’re always better after those, but… I think we’re better than we were. And I’m happy about it. I know things are going to go wrong again, because they always do, but we get better every time they do so… I guess this is good. Yeah?”

Katsuki watches the petals drift slowly to the ground, the tiny flowers turning it to a sea of pink. “Yeah.” He punches Deku’s shoulder, just enough to make him rock in place, and stands up to stretch out. “C’mon, let’s go home. You’ve got work, and I’ve got school.”

“And a visiting sister to pick up tomorrow.”

Katsuki groans. “She’s not my sister.”

“She absolutely is. And you’re totally going to come with me to pick her up.”

“No fucking way.”

oOo

“Melissssaaaaaa!”

“Izukuuuuuuuuu!”

“Katsuki,” Katsuki mutters to himself, head pounding from a very long day of way too much noise as Deku goes flying past him to hug Melissa Shield tight and swing her around in the airport. It’s hilarious to watch, admittedly, since Melissa is only an inch shorter than Katsuki, but the two make it work. They dissolve into a babble of excited chatter, Deku grabbing her things as the two of them frantically try to catch each other up on everything. Haneda is loud and busy, and Katsuki has to shepherd them towards the door like a dog to get them to move together since they both start talking so fast it’s almost ridiculous. Melissa’s almost the same as she was when they saw her after graduation, but she’s got a cartilage piercing now and her hair’s been cut to an a-line bob that curls ever so slightly.

They reach the car and Deku starts putting luggage (white, with pink and red plaid, what the fuck) in the trunk. Katsuki’s about to get in the driver’s seat when Melissa tugs on his shirt to get him to turn, and promptly hugs him.

“Oh, fuck no,” he says, grimacing. “Get off.”

“Awww, come on,” Melissa laughs, squeezing once before letting go. “I haven’t seen you in forever, Katsuki! You’re even taller now than when I saw you after graduation, jeez!”

Oh, god, hearing his given name is weird. Americans and their whole first-name thing. At least her accent’s good.

“Oh!” Melissa digs in her bag, and pulls out something. “Here! For you! It was a stamp originally but I took it apart and made it into a paper weight, I thought you might like it since you used to be so big into comics! It’s okay if you don’t but-”

Melissa hands him a small, heavy object. It’s a little metal standee, of a sort, with a dark green base and the word “BOOM” in loud comic font in an explosion sticking up from it, big and bombastic in orange and black. Katsuki stares at it, already entranced.

“I mean, I can take it back if you don’t want it-” she says, and Katsuki jerks it away from her hand.

“Back off, I’m keeping it forever,” he says firmly, and she beams at him.

“Cool.”

After kicking Deku out of the front so that the two of them can geek out in the back about the past couple years, Katsuki hits the road and heads for Toshinori’s. It’s not a terrible drive to his house, just half an hour, and Katsuki thanks the gods for his hearing loss for probably the first time ever since the two talk so fast the words blur together into plain, boring background noise that he tunes out.

Toshinori lives in Den-en-Chofu, Ota ward, in a pleasant house in the middle of the ward. It’s small for the area, generically American styled, with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, and quite a big yard in the back with a tall wall and lots of plants. It’s charming, cozy, and has space for parking for four cars so long as they’re two deep on the side of the lot. Katsuki pulls into the drive to park in front of Toshinori’s sleek, but comfortable black towncar, and Deku practically launches himself out to grab the luggage from the trunk. Inko’s little Honda is there as well, and he takes a deep breath to brace himself for everything.

Toshinori’s comfortable house is as beautiful as ever, and they walk up the steps and kick off their shoes in the genkan. Katsuki braces for impact as Melissa rushes into the house, beaming as she looks around. It’s well decorated, simple and tasteful and extremely comfortable for Toshinori’s stiff bones. The colors are all mild and soothing, the art abstract and meant to lead the eye here and there. There are plants everywhere, leafy and green, and the soft tan walls are a nice counterpoint.

“Otou-san!” Deku calls, as he only ever does when no one but them can overhear him say it, and there’s a clatter from upstairs. “We’re here!”

Toshinori comes galumphing down the stairs, beaming, and for just a moment Katsuki can see the man he first met so many years before, big and powerful and golden as the sun, smiling with brilliant white teeth and so reassuring. All Might himself, live and in the flesh, come to save the day and spirit them away back home, safe and sound.

“I am here!”

He turns around to busy himself with the shoe box to hide his face at those words. His eyes prick with tears that he forces down.

Deku lightly squeezes his arm as he walks past, and Katsuki catches a glimpse of his face. It’s tight and drawn for just a moment, a split second in time when the weight of All Might’s legacy weighs on Deku’s shoulders, and then it’s hidden again with a bright smile.

“Dad Might!”

Melissa’s practically a blur as she leaps to hug him, beaming as she breaks into a rapid chatter of broken Japanese and English. Deku laughs, chattering as well, and the three of them speak together in a hodgepodge of sound that Katsuki tunes out as he escapes the chaos in the entryway to head to the kitchen. It’s European style, big and spacious with plenty of cupboards, and Auntie is already there chopping up things for miso soup.

“Hey, Auntie,” Katsuki says, kissing the top of her head, and Inko chuckles as she wraps an arm around him to quickly hug him. “Miso?”

“Yes, and some simple maki rolls,” she says, looking up at him with a smile. “How was Okinawa, Katsuki-kun? And school? How was your first day of the year?”

“Good. Really good.” He lingers at her side rather than pulling away, and Inko absently rubs his back. “Sakamata’s house is fucking gorgeous, it was great. Did a shitton of swimming, got to run around in the ocean, did a bunch of cooking and Tai Chi. Good times. Shoot turned out fucking great, too, we did it in the ocean and it was fuckin’ awesome. School was fine. I’m gonna have a ton of labs and a couple classes are completely in English so I have to sit way up front, but it’s fine. I’m going to have to get some new stealth hearing aids, because the ones I have won’t cut it right now.”

“Oh, that’ll be expensive, but it’ll be good to have another set. I’m glad school is going well, though, that’s such a relief. Izuku said someone went with you to Okinawa, ah- the one you were telling me about the other day! Kazushima?”

“Kirishima,” he corrects, grinning. “Close, Auntie.”

“You know I’m terrible with names,” she laughs, and hugs him again. “Well, it seems to have done you a world of good. You work so hard, I’m glad to see you looking a little happier.”

Katsuki shrugs, smiling despite himself. “I had a good time.”

Inko nods, looking thoughtful. “Did Kirishima perhaps have something to do with that?”

Katsuki flinches despite himself, heart rate spiking, and Inko immediately hugs him.

“You don’t need to tell me, Katsuki-kun,” she says, keeping her voice low but gentle. “But I hope that you are finding your own kinds of happiness, no matter what they might be. You’ve been sad and hurt a long time, and it’s good to see you smiling again. Whatever happened over this past trip, it seems that it’s helped, and I’m happy for you. And no, I won’t tell Izuku.”

Katsuki hugs her back, heart rate finally calming back down. “Thanks, Auntie.” He steps away, taking the bowl of rice to start working on the rolls.

Melissa skids around the corner, blonde hair bouncing.

“Hi, Mama Inko!” Melissa immediately hugs her, making Inko laugh, and Katsuki settles into the familiar motions of making sushi rolls as his family laughs and talks around him.

Dinner is delicious and minimal effort. The food is good, Deku and Melissa talk non-stop the entire time and Katsuki doesn’t have to provide any sort of conversation, and Inko is smiling. That’s practically worth it all on its own.

Katsuki escapes out onto the deck after dinner while Deku fumbles to put on some movie, tension slipping away as the sound deadens out. It’s easier like this, out in the darkness, and he braces his elbows on the railing as he pulls out his phone and lets the screen light up. He wants to text Kirishima. He wants, badly, because- because why? Because he’s with family. His new one, even if the idea is still weird. He’s with his family and he wants Kirishima to know them, too. Katsuki wants Kirishima, big and sturdy and comforting, to be in the circle of people who make up the most important parts of his life these days. He wants Kirishima to know about Toshinori, and Inko- not Deku, that’s always going to be a sore spot even if they do already know each other. Maybe even Melissa.

The door opens behind him, Toshinori stepping out. He’s on the phone, smiling a bit.

Yes, she’s fine David,” he says in English. “It’s alright, you know, she’s a big girl and she’s traveled plenty already. Of course. Yes, I-” He bursts out laughing, joining Katsuki by the railing. “Yes, David. I know. I’ll call you Sunday. Uh-huh. Yes. I love you too. Bye!

He hangs up, still smiling, and Katsuki raises an eyebrow at him.

“David called to be sure Melissa was safely here,” Toshinori explains, clasping his hands and bracing his elbows on the rails. “Do you mind the company, for a moment?”

“Nah,” Katsuki says. “Not if it’s you.”

That gets him a smile. Beyond, in the comfortable little garden, tall bamboo planted along the edges of the walls sways in the breeze. There are little winding paths, a small zen garden, and on the broad patio is a classic American style grill. It’s so different from the house Katsuki’s parents used to have, and Inko’s little apartment, but it still feels like home. Katsuki’s spent hours here, sitting in Toshinori’s home workshop and watching him bring dreams to life. He’s no designer, but he’s learned a few tips and tricks from Toshinori as the years have gone on. While Deku still does most of his tailoring, he’s no slouch.

“How was your first day, my boy?” Toshinori asks.

“Fine,” Katsuki says, tracing the grain of the wood. “I had a couple of the international classes, everybody’s already buddy-buddy since they’re all in the same program and started doing shit together already. Couple of ‘em asked me about coming to clubs but I told them I’d think about it. I don’t have time for club shit, I’ve got work and homework. The class in English has a teacher from fuckin’ Maine or some shit, he’s weird and did a double take when he heard my accent.”

Toshinori chuckles, eyes crinkling at the corners. “It is fairly unique.”

“Unique my ass, I know what I sound like,” Katsuki snorts, grinning. “Nothing weirder than a Japanese kid talking like a 50 year old Italian guy from Jersey. But whatever. Classes should be fine.”

“I’m glad. Did you come to the conclusion you were looking for after you called me?” Toshinori asks.

“I think so,” Katsuki says, leaning on the balcony railing. “Yeah.”

“Good.” A massive hand ruffles his hair, and Katsuki growls while Toshinori chuckles. “Whatever you decide, I’m proud of you.”

A lump forms in Katsuki’s throat unbidden, and he nods. Toshinori tousles his hair once more before nodding at the house. Inside, he can see Inko cleaning up the dining table, soft green bob tucked behind her ears as she smiles and works.

“You should stay tonight. I have clothes you could change into for tomorrow.”

Katsuki hesitates. But he wants to. He does. He likes waking up in Toshinori’s comfortable house, watching the sun rise from the couch through the patio doors while sprawled on his oversized couch. He likes the house, and the people in it (most of the time), and he has his car and his things are in his bag in the car and…

“Sure,” he says, and follows Toshinori back inside.

Deku and Melissa have Moana pulled up and are already changed into pajamas, pillows on the floor with a ridiculous number of blankets, and Katsuki lets them pull him down to join them without arguing too much. For one thing, they have popcorn. Toshinori and Inko settle on the couch, Inko fussing as the movie starts up.

“The kitchen is still a mess, Toshi, I should really-”

“Inko, please, there is time for that later,” Toshinori says fondly, tugging her back down as she tries to stand up. “Sit down and enjoy some time together.”

Katsuki burrows under one of the blankets, letting his head rest on the pillows. Deku laughs at something Melissa said, Melissa clambering over him to grab another pillow from Katsuki’s other side, and for just a moment, the world seems to tilt as everyone laughs at Melissa’s crow of success.

Mother and father, a brother and sister, a nice house and a few cars, success and pride and good education, laughter and a happy, safe home where nothing bad has ever happened-

But it’s not like that.

He barely knows Melissa. Toshinori and Inko couldn’t make it work, even if they did become Katsuki and Deku’s parents more or less on accident. He and Deku still have their issues, fighting and squabbling and struggling to find their own balance. He’s still poor despite his hard work, still clawing his way to a stable life and struggling with his mental health. Deku’s fucked up, Melissa’s mentioned a nasty breakup with an ex-boyfriend recently, Toshinori’s sickly, and Inko struggles with anxiety and depression like her son and is only just staying afloat from her work. They aren’t some picture perfect family, with a mom and dad and 2.5 kids and a house in the suburbs.

But they are family, now. Little and broken, a familiar voice whispers in his head, and he hides his smile as the aching call of tulou, tulou, Tagaloa echoes around the room to open the movie.

Deku and Inko are both sobbing though half the movie, but by the time Moana’s on the return trip both Deku and Melissa have fallen asleep, bundled up in blankets and comfortably laid out on the pillows. Katsuki’s drifting in and out as well, yawning in spite of himself, and once Toshinori turns off the TV he staggers to his feet to go hunt down some clothes from Toshinori’s workroom.

Toshinori follows him up to it, smiling as Katsuki fumbles with the lights, and gently pushes him into a chair. The workshop is a riot of color and cloth, failed screenprinted t-shirts mingling with half completed ball gowns and waistcoats, golden jewelry casually tossed next to pink plastic bangles, dressforms in haphazard array near the wall with coats, shoes, skirts, and everything else under the sun thrown on them. There’s three sewing machines, two tables, a massive ironing board with an iron on it, and a small screenprinting station. Toshinori pulls out a pair of sweatpants and a failed shirt with a strange design printed on it with a flash of triumph, making Katsuki grin.

“There we are,” Toshinori says, handing them over. “I’m glad you’re staying. You’ll have breakfast with us?”

“Hell yeah.”

Toshinori hesitates for just a moment before pulling him into a hug. “I am glad to see you,” he says quietly, and Katsuki buries his face against Toshinori’s shoulder as he hugs him back. “I do not see you nearly enough. You are welcome here whenever, my boy.”

“I know,” he says quietly. “I’m working on it.”

“And that’s all anyone can ask.”

By the time he gets downstairs, Inko has already cleaned the kitchen and is bustling around the room to be sure everything is done. He shakes his head, stalking over and stealing the cleaning rag from her to toss into the laundry area to dry before being washed..

“Quit it, Auntie, go relax,” he says, and Inko smiles up at him.

“I should be saying that to you, Katsuki-kun,” she says, but lets him herd her out of the kitchen. “I don’t work tomorrow, but you have school, and you’ll need to leave here fairly early if you want to get to Toudai on time.”

“Bullshit, it only takes like half an hour. My first class is fucking genetics, anyway, and that’s easy shit. I just want to get to the good stuff and get out of there. Fucking genetics, I should have tried to test out of it so I can hurry the fuck up.” They stop in the main hall, away from the living room with its sleeping occupants.

“Three years can feel like a very long time,” Inko says, smiling.

“I just want to be done,” he says, fully aware he sounds like a petulant child. Inko hugs him, gently patting his cheek as she chuckles, and Katsuki lets his head flop back down on her shoulder, practically bending in half with as small as she is.

“Oh, Katsuki-kun, I know. But you’re making us all very, very proud. It’ll be alright. For all the struggle you go through now, it’ll be over before you know it.” She ruffles his hair, and Katsuki straightens up. Her smile is soft and kind, wonderfully gentle. After all the years together, she knows him better now, and Katsuki is never going to stop being grateful that Inko is part of his life now.

“Okay,” he says, and her smile widens just a little.

“I don’t know what happened while you were away, but you look happier, sweetheart,” she says, so gentle, and he nods.

“I think I am,” he admits, looking down at the floor. “Dunno for sure yet, but… I think I worked some shit out. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.”

“Good.”

She kisses his cheek, waving goodbye as she heads to Toshinori’s bedroom- and honestly, Katsuki doesn’t even want to know how complicated her relationship with him must be- and Katsuki flops onto the couch. Morning will come soon enough, and with it, work and school and texts from Kirishima.

For the first time in a long time, as he watches the bamboo sway and bend in the faint breeze of the night from beyond the patio doors, Deku and Melissa snoring faintly on the floor, he feels content.

oOo

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Its been a good day.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Yeah??? Im glad!!
Good luck tomorrow!
You’ll kill it, i know you’ll be great

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
damn right, i always am.
hey

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
yeah??

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
I miss you.
Night.

Draft, unsent: I think I love you.
Draft, unsent: I want you to meet my family.
Draft, unsent: it feels like there’s a hole in my chest without you here.
Draft, unsent: They would love you so much. But not as much as me.

Text from: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
It’s hard to sleep waking up without you in the house now.
I’ll see you soon, but i miss you a lot
Good night! Dream bright dreams, babe!
Tomorrow is another day.

Chapter Text

Eijirou has never been so happy to nearly be run over by a car in his life as he bolts across the streets of Roppongi with a bag clutched in his teeth and two coffee containers, practically skipping up the steps of the All Might building in pure joy to be back home on Monday morning. As fantastic as Sakamata had been, he’s thrilled to be back with his people. He waves to Miruko as he heads to the elevator, practically vibrating in place as he’s taken up to Fatgum’s offices. He bursts through the doors on time, handing off coffee to the secretary and bounding off to the studio.

“GO’ MORFNG!” he yells through the bag before he sets it down to a round of laughs through the studio, passing out coffee with an enormous smile. Amajiki-senpai is there in a flash to take his, sighing with relief as Eijirou beams at him.

“I'm very happy you're back,” Amajiki-senpai says, giving him a quick smile. “Inasa-kun was, um. Very much.”

“Very much what?”

“Just very much everything.”

“Oh my.” Kirishima beams at him. “But you’ve got me again!”

Amajiki-senpai smiles back, shy but happy. “Yes, indeed we do. Marketing wants you today for the morning meetings, and then Fat wants you in the studio with me for the other half of the day so you can see what we’re doing stylistically with the business line. You’ll be doing a lot of everything today, is that okay?”

“Sounds good!”

Monday goes by quickly, Tuesday and Wednesday just as fast. But Thursday… Thursday morning comes and Eijirou wakes up after his fourth night of restless sleep to his empty apartment and feels an uncomfortable ache in his chest that he doesn’t like. He rolls over in bed to check the time on his phone, grimacing when he sees that it’s before his alarms are due to go off. He sighs, staring blankly at the empty space in the bed, and shakes his head.

“Nope,” he tells the room at large, “I’m going to have a good day, and I’m going to make this work, and it’ll all be okay.”

So he gets up early, heads down to his building’s gym, and works out until his arms are mush and his legs exhausted and his head is clear once more. He sings in the shower, tips the barista extra when he picks up the morning coffees, smiles and bows and makes himself as unthreatening as possible as he walks around the neighborhood in grey slacks and an eye-watering orange shirt, his shoes comfortable green loafers that make people laugh and smile and his tie covered in Pokemon. He runs errands for the secretary when he gets to Fatgum, makes sure to compliment Togata-san’s shoes when he comes to tease and flirt with Amajiki-senpai, and is having a thoroughly good day when Tetsutetsu texts him around 11 o’clock.

Text from: Manliest Bro
DUDE!!! INTERN LUNCH YOU IN OR NAH

Text to: Manliest Bro
EXTREMELY IN
WHERE AT HANDSOME

Text from: Manliest Bro
ILL TEXT YOU MY MAN

Text to: Manliest Bro
I MISS YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE

Text from: Manliest Bro
NO I MISS YOUR PERFECT FACE

Eijirou smiles fondly at his phone. He’s missed seeing Tetsutetsu every day. During college they’d practically been glued at the hip with each other, living in the same apartment and in the same courses. Tetsutetsu had no so jokingly once referred to them as platonic partners. It was true enough, after all. They’d been essentially married, and it’d been one of the best relationships of Eijirou’s entire life. They just weren’t quite the right fit sexually and wanted different things from a formal life partner, or they would have called it good and just married each other.

Tetsutetsu texts him the address for a perfectly reasonable sushi place, and as soon as Marketing finishes the meeting Eijirou vaults out the door to go and see his friends. It’s just down the street from the All Might building, and he pushes the door open to a wave of delicious smells.

His party is in the far corner, the table already filling up. Yaomomo waves at him, Tetsutetsu blows a cheeky kiss, Kendou says hello and Uraraka cheerfully tells him about getting to toss out a would be intruder. Midoriya joins the group late, rattling off frantic apologies and looking much better than the last time Eijirou saw him. Jirou shows up late but flops into the seat next to Yaomomo and kisses her cheek.

“Hey, babe. We waiting for anyone else?” she asks, pulling off her jacket. “Jesus fuck, Kirishima, what are you wearing?”

“Clothes!”

That gets a laugh before Momo adds, “Ojirou from Cementoss and Tokoyami from Hawks are on their way too, I think. Is Monoma coming?”

Kendou shakes her head, grinning. “PR’s in crunch, he’s not going anywhere. I’m pretty sure he slept at work last night. Iida should be coming, though, I caught him on the way out of Yuuei. Hey, Uraraka, you and Mido texted him, right?”

Uraraka nods, holding up her phone. “Yep!”

Midoriya nods too. “I did too. I tried to get Todoroki-kun to come but he said he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to. Oh, Shinsou’s coming though!”

Right on time, the others show up. Eijirou’s met Ojirou and Tokoyami, but Shinsou is new. Purple hair, enormous eyebags, and a thick white scarf seem to make up the most of him, and he collapses in a chair next to Midoriya before leaning in to drop his head on Midoriya’s shoulder. Eijirou keeps an eye on them while listening to Tetsutetsu’s enthusiastic story about Fourth Kind’s PR team.

“Hey,” Midoriya says cheerfully, grinning down at Shinsou.

“Tell your fucking brother to stop making my life difficult and take the damn Ryukyuu job,” Shinsou mumbles, pulling a bottle of caffeine pills out of his jacket and popping one in his mouth. “I swear to god he gets off on making me stressed. Ryukyuu wants him bad for this and he still hasn’t given us a solid yes or no. I know he’s busy but for fuck’s sake.”

“He’s not my brother, and I don’t think he gets off on anything, actually, but I’ll try and nudge him into taking it. You heard that Melissa’s visiting, right?”

“Oh, fuck, is she? No wonder Sensei’s so pissy, she’s probably taking up all of Yagi-san’s time.” Shinsou straightens up, yawning. “How long is she here?”

“Two weeks.”

“God, I’m fucked.”

Eijirou has just enough time to wonder who Melissa is before a loud, bright voice booms, “MY SINCERE APOLOGIES FOR BEING LATE!”

Tetsutetsu laughs as half the table jumps, and Uraraka beams and waves. Eijirou turns to see one of the people from the Best Jeanist party/shoot standing there, an enormous bulk of a man with blue-black hair and intense eyebrows. He’s broad and boxy, but his smile is bright and kind, and his glasses are perfect rectangles.

“Iida-kun!” Midoriya says cheerfully. “Have you met everyone yet?”

“I have not!” He bends in a perfect 90 degree bow before snapping back up. Eijirou likes him already. “I am Iida Tenya, one of the model’s with Yuuei Agency! It is a pleasure to meet you!”

Introductions go around the table, and everyone orders food and digs in. Eijirou leans against Tetsutetsu, feeling his heart ease a little as they bicker and steal each others food. It’s good to have a table full of people together, all of them friends (or at least getting along), and his heart swells and settles. Tetsutetsu gives him a knowing look, and Eijirou sticks his tongue out at him before shoving a piece of maki roll in his mouth. Eijirou’s always loved parties, dinner parties especially, and his life goal is to have a dining room big enough to host people at least once a month.

“How was Okinawa?” Tetsutetsu asks when they slow down a bit on frantically eating.

“Oh, dude, it was incredible,” Eijirou enthuses. On other other end of the table, Midoriya drops his chopsticks and Iida barely catches them. “So fun, and the island is gorgeous. We did a photoshoot out in the ocean, and Sakamata-san’s house is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely sticking with Fatgum though, some of his higher ups are assholes that need to be purged out.”

Shinsou pipes up from the other end of the table, “Oh, so you’re the Bakugou wrangler.”

“Shinsou-kun!” Midoriya protests.

“I mean… I guess?” Eijirou feels his face go red. “I dunno man. I just keep winding up in the same place at the same time as him, it’s just worked out that way. We get along pretty well though, he’s all bark and not a whole lot of bite. Once you get used to him he’s pretty funny, actually, he’s got a good sense of humor.”

There’s an incredible pause as everyone turns to look at him. Eijirou looks around.

“What?”

Midoriya shakes his head. “...You’re a brave man, Kirishima-kun.”

“Um. Okay?”

Shinsou raises his glass in a mock toast. “If Bakugou doesn’t snag you I’ll marry you myself, you must be the most easygoing man alive.”

“Sorry, Shinsou, I’ve got first dibs,” Tetsutetsu laughs, and Eijirou rolls his eyes, elbowing his friend.

“Oh quit it, you know we’d never make it.”

“I mean, if we had an open marriage…”

Eijirou nods thoughtfully. “You have a point, handsome.”

Lunch finishes up without any further discussion of Bakugou, and everyone scatters. Eijirou presses a wet kiss to Tetsutetsu’s cheek to make him laugh, fluttering his eyelashes and giving him a finger wave as he leaves the restaurant to head up to the studio to work with Amajiki-senpai.

He’s surprised to find Todoroki sitting in the studio after lunch, jammed into a far corner with his head pillowed on some leftover brocade and leaning against the huge scrap fabric pile from god knew what project and looking like he’d rather be anywhere else. His eyes are vaguely glassy, suit rumpled, and his hair in disarray. Eijirou turns around, jogging over to the main office to grab a bottle of water off of the buffet table. He heads back, finding Todoroki looking the exact same, if not a little worse. No wonder he didn’t join them for lunch.

“Hey, man, you okay?” Eijirou asks quietly, handing him the water.

Todoroki takes it gratefully, downing half of it. “Bit feverish,” he says, his voice raspy. “My body doesn’t regulate temperatures very well, it just happens sometimes. I was supposed to go home but Fat said I could rest here a bit until I stabilized to leave. Core’s too cold, and head’s too hot.”

“Hey, no worries man, you’re welcome here. We've got a couch in the break room, you wanna lay down there? It’s long enough for me, so you should be comfy.”

Todoroki shakes his head, curling against the bulk of fabric and letting his glassy eyes blink a couple times. For such a tall guy, for a moment he looks tiny. “...feels safer in here.”

Ohhhh boy, that’s a whole bucket of worms that Eijirou doesn't want to touch. He makes a mental note to try and keep an eye on Todoroki, jogging over to the other scrap fabric pile to dig out a chunk of misdyed fleece (which… why did they even have fleece? Who the fuck was working with fleece during a Tokyo spring?) and go bring it back to wrap around his shoulders. Todoroki blinks slowly at him before settling, long legs tucked neatly under the chair. His hair is a mess, the two colors mixing at the split of his hairline. It’s a little fascinating, but Eijirou drags his eyes away.

“Chimera.”

He blinks, looking back at Todoroki. “Huh?”

“S’what I am. A chimera. Two things spliced imperfectly together. I was probably twins at some point but bodies are weird.” Todoroki’s head lolls against the fabrics, his hair getting even more tangled. “S’complicated. Okaa-san’s got white…”

“That’s cool,” Eijirou says, soothing as he can be. “Do you need something frozen for your head to help cool down?”

Todoroki shakes his head, burrowing against the fabric. “Okaa-san is.”

Eijirou blinks, but before he can ask what he means, Rei is there with a package of frozen peas wrapped in a towel. She hands them over silently, and Eijirou looks between the two, as if seeing Rei for the first time. She’s built the same as Todoroki, slim but powerful in her shoulders and legs, with the same stubborn chin and muddy grey-brown eyes. (Or eye, in Todoroki’s case.) Their hair is the same natural white, though Rei wears hers up in a tight bun.

It clicks.

“Want me to keep an eye on him?” he asks Rei quietly. She shakes her head, resting her hand gently on Todoroki’s shoulder. He shudders in relief, all the tension going out of him, and closes his eyes.

“It should pass soon,” she says quietly, but her face is tense. Todoroki shifts under her hand before relaxing again, eyes moving restlessly under their lids for a moment before falling still. “He’s usually more careful, but the season’s changing makes it difficult for him. Amajiki-san wants to speak with you, please go to him.”

“Okay, Rei-san. Grab me if you need me to get anything for you, okay?” He gives her his best reassuring smile, and some of the stress leaves her face. Eijirou waves before jogging over to Amajiki-senpai, who’s been watching the whole exchange.

“Walk with me a second,” Amajiki-senpai says, and takes him out into the hall and across to one of the smaller meeting rooms. He closes the door behind them, making sure it’s shut tight.

“Something up?” Eijirou asks, concerned.

Amajiki-senpai nods, taking a deep breath and twisting his hands together. “I really hoped we weren’t going to have to talk about this but I guess there’s no way around it now, so um. What I tell you can’t leave this room, alright? Do you understand, Kirishima-kun?”

Eijirou nods.

“Yukimura Rei is Todoroki-kun's mother.”

Eijirou blinks. “I mean, I figured. But I guess there’s a reason you’re telling me this alone?”

“There are some… circumstances, um, about Rei-san,” Amajiki-senpai says carefully, fingers fidgeting with his sleeve hems. “Rei-san works here under a different name for a reason. She’s still married to Todoroki Enji but it’s- it’s very complicated. They’re separated and have been for a long time but Todoroki-san won’t divorce her and he’s… he’s very wealthy and powerful. He’s made her life very difficult over the past years- she was institutionalized for nearly 14 years before Todoroki-kun managed to leverage a way to get her out. She’s here because Yagi-san knows that it’s the last place anyone would look, especially since we’re a no-name company compared to Endeavor. Kirishima-kun, this is very important. No one can know that Rei-san is Todoroki-san’s wife. She’s here because this place is safe, and we need it to stay that way.”

“That’s why everyone calls her Rei, instead of Yukimura-san?” Eijirou asks, and Amajiki-senpai nods.

“Exactly. It’s a common enough name. Don't breathe a word of this to anyone, okay?”

“You can count on me, senpai, and if I have to fight him myself to keep him away from her I absolutely will,” Eijirou says seriously. Amajiki-senpai sighs in relief, smiling tightly.

“I thought so. Will you go down to floor ten? I’m going to send someone down to help you start making mock ups for some of the potential designs.”

Eijirou nods, and minutes later is standing in front of the whiteboard with all of the designs on it. His sketchbook had been nearly filled while in Okinawa, though he’d kept it well hidden away from Sakamata’s crew and Bakugou never saw it. He’s accumulated thoughts and ideas into a number of dresses, suits, skirts and shoes.

The Unbreakable collection in its paper form is highly geometric and craggy, heavily architectural and metallic. Here and there are more natural elements slipped in- geode crystals, for one, gems meant to look like blood spilling down shoulders in another, porcupine quills jutting from another’s shoulder epaulets. The colors skew towards reds and blacks, gold and silver mixing in about equally. He has crowns and headpieces off to the side on their own, a project for the future. Pulling a chair over, he sits down in front of the mass of images and looks them over to try and decide what story he wants to tell with the progression of pieces.

There’s a soft knock, and the door to the studio opens to reveal Rei, who gives him a quick smile as she steps inside.

“Ah, Rei-san!” He jumps up, going red. “Sorry, I was-”

Rei smiles gently, waving him away. “It’s just fine, Kirishima-kun, you were wrapped up in your thoughts.” She pulls a chair over sits down next to him, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “Amajiki-kun tells me that he told you about my son and my husband.”

“Yeah.” Eijirou sits back down, looking down at the floor. “I won’t tell anyone, I swear.”

Rei reaches over, gently touching his hands. “Thank you, Kirishima-kun. I… I have no right, to be in Shouto’s life. It was me who gave him his scar, after all. I’d gone mad with fear when he was small. I’m better now, safe away from Shouto’s father, but we try to keep it as quiet as possible.”

Eijirou looks up. “Is he feeling better?”

“His temperature has evened out, and he’s gone home. Fat-san sent him in a taxi.” She gives him a gentle, soft smile, and Eijirou notes the smile lines by her eyes. She looks much older than the pictures he’s seen of Todoroki Enji, but she’s still an incredible beauty. “Kirishima-kun, you care so deeply, and without a trace of shame for it. Keep that mindset.”

Eijirou blushes, hopping up. “I will! I promise I will!”

Rei laughs, her smile charming. “Good. Now, let’s take a look at some of these and start making mock ups.”

Together they pull down the sketches on the whiteboard and spend the day trying to find ways to bring them to life. They start with the simplest, making roughs out of endless sheets of paper and muslin to try and bring the shapes to life, and as the day draws to a close Eijirou takes a deep breath.

“Can I… Can I tell you something kind of serious, Rei-san?” he asks. Rei looks up from her measuring tape, surprised, and nods.

“Of course. What is it?”

“I haven’t really ever told this to anyone before but. Um… When I was little, like, really really little, Okaa-san was dating a guy called Maro. He wasn’t my dad or anything, we don’t actually know who my dad is since Okaa-san had a hard time in her early 20’s, but he was… he was really wealthy, and controlling, and abusive. She got really sick. I don’t remember most of it, but I still get super stressed if she doesn’t finish all of her food or skips meals. She was a really good photographer and just starting out when he started dating her, but she got out when I was 5 and managed to find a little place to stay. And then she met Akane, my other mom, and things got better.”

He twists his hands together, still unable to look up from the fabric on the table. The muslin can’t judge him. “Maro found her again, when I was about 8. He stalked us for a year until Akaa-san broke his arm when he grabbed and pushed Okaa-san while we were out shopping one day. Okaa-san was pregnant with the twins at the time and it was… it was the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. So yeah. I won’t ever, ever tell anyone. I promise.”

Rei walks around the table to gently take his hands and stop him from pulling at them. “And you feel guilty, don’t you? Because you couldn’t stop any of it.”

Eijirou’s throat swells up, a lump sitting tight in it. He keeps his eyes trained on the table, nodding.

“Kirishima-kun,” Rei says kindly, “it’s a hard thing, living with that sort of fear and shame. But you did what you could for her, and you’ve grown into a good, kind young man, the type of person who will never be like him. That, I think, is all that any mother wishes for her sons. It is not wrong, to feel fear and shame, merely human. In time, it will be easier.”

He nods, swallowing down the lump. “Thanks, Rei-san.”

She gently ruffles his hair, smiling. “Of course. Come, let’s go clock out for the day. I think we could all stand to go home and have some time to relax, some good food, and probably some good television. I will admit that I’m weak to English sitcoms.”

“Yeah!”

Rei pauses at the door, looking up at him. “Kirishima-kun, as difficult as my life may be… please know that I am happy. I have good coworkers and friends, I see my sons and my daughter regularly, and I laugh often. You’re a big part of that. I know you wear the clothes you do to get a reaction, and really, it does make everyone laugh and smile. You bring a lot of cheer to those around you, I hope you know that.”

And now the lump was back in his throat, but this time his heart is happy. Eijirou swallows hard. “Thanks, Rei.”

She gently squeezes his arm, smiling, and together they leave the studio.

oOo

Text to: Baku
Hey
I miss you
Want to come over to mine tonight for dinner

Text from: Baku
...are you cooking or are you giving me your kitchen

Text to: Baku
Giving you the kitchen or getting takeout
I need hugs
And kisses
Kisses would be good too.

Text from: Baku
………
you okay

Text to: Baku
I’ll be better after kisses
today wasn’t the best. Not bad just not great

Text from: Baku
yeah i’m getting that
Let me finish my homework and then i’ll drive over
Do you like fajitas

Text to: Baku
You have a car???
Also what is a fajita

Text from: Baku
You fucking heathen. We’re having fajitas.
And yes i have a car.

Text to: Baku
(¬_¬) rich boy

Text from: Baku
Fuck off, just because I know how to budget doesn’t mean i’m rich
asshole
Send me your address, I’ll be there in two hours.
Make it 2 and a half i have to get shit to cook with

Text to: Baku
[heart emoji]

Text from: Baku
凸ಠ益ಠ)凸

Text to: Baku
[heart emoji]

oOo

The buzzer rings at precisely 8 o clock to announce Bakugou’s arrival, and Eijirou quickly buzzes him up. Brushing down his jeans, he takes a deep breath and smiles at the sharp triple rap on his door.

He pulls it open, beaming. “Hey!”

“Hi,” Bakugou says, and immediately pulls him into a kiss. Eijirou practically melts into him, heart soaring with delight. Bakugou’s hands find his hips, absently rubbing his thumbs in lazy circles against his hipbones, and Eijirou shivers pleasantly. Bakugou pulls away with a smug little smile. “Miss me?”

“Like air. Come in, come in!”

The apartment is on the small side, essentially a long room with a half wall hiding the bed at the very end near the balcony doors. The kitchen is spacious, at least, the living area comfortable, and everything is tastefully decorated. Bakugou stares.

“What?”

Bakugou's eyes narrow, cocking his head as he looks around suspiciously, kicking his shoes off and hanging up his jacket. Eijirou takes the food bags into the kitchen. “It looks nice. Who'd you hire?”

“Wow, rude!” Eijirou laughs, waving him in. “I have taste! My high school bedroom was a nightmare but I lived with Tetsutetsu for 3 years and he straightened me out. He's fussy about interior design.”

The walls are a clean, bright white, the couch a lush dark red that matches his striped multi-color rug. There's some photos on the wall, sweeping landscapes taken by Okaa-san of the English lake district at sunset, along with a particularly lovely framed copy of Okaa-san's photo of Crimson Riot's lead designer for the Vogue Japan special edition on him. There's a built in wardrobe, a dresser beside it, and a record player sitting on top with some other small decorations. A TV stand sits tight to the wall, game systems in cubbies and the games themselves in a stand just to the side. It’s undeniably masculine while still pleasing to the eyes.

Bakugou looks around before nodding sharply. “I’ve seen worse.” This declared, he turns his attention to the kitchen. “Alright, I brought my own pans since I knew I couldn’t trust you to have anything decent on hand-”

“Bakugou.”

He turns as Eijirou reaches out, and Eijirou sighs in relief when Bakugou just steps into his arms and wraps his arms around him. He’s leaner than Eijirou, certainly, but he’s plenty strong, and the last lingering sadness in his heart is purged and tossed away as he buries his face against Bakugou’s hair.

“I missed you,” Eijirou says, knowing his voice is a little hoarse, and pulls Bakugou in tighter.

“Needy,” Bakugou mutters even as he nuzzles against him.

“Stay tonight,” Eijirou blurts out, and Bakugou’s head jerks up, narrowly avoiding taking out Eijirou’s nose in the process. “Please. Just… just tonight, I haven’t slept well all week. No sex, nothing like that, I just really want to sleep. And I miss waking up without you there.”

Bakugou hesitates for just a moment before nodding. “Fuck it, sure. I keep a change of clothes in the car anyway, and I’ve got my shit for tomorrow.”

Eijirou sighs in relief, kissing his forehead. “Thanks.”

“Pff, whatever.”

Bakugou lets him go and starts pulling things out to make the fajitas while Eijirou busies himself around the house, pulling out the record player.

“Hey, do you care if I play music?” he calls.

“On that thing? Sure, whatever. If it gets to me I’ll have you shut it off.”

“Yeah! The record player was a gift from Okaa-san after she went on a trip to the States, she thought I’d like it. Because apparently she thinks I’m a hipster.” He pulls flicks through the few he has until he finds the one he wants, pulling out the vinyl and setting it on the player, putting down the needle. “I only have American music right now, but since I have it, y’know, I think I might try and find more.”

The familiar smoky voice of a woman comes crooning out, trumpet calling bright and brassy behind her, and Bakugou jerks in the kitchen.

“Bakugou?”

“Do you know what song this is?”

“Um…” He picks up the records cover, looking at it. “I’m not good at English. I think this word is ‘Dream’? This one is ‘little’, like um… small? I just like her voice.”

Bakugou puts the lid on the pan so the oil can start to heat, looking off into space as the song plays. “Dream a little dream of me. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.”

“Oh. That’s pretty, I like it.”

Bakugou walks around the lip of the kitchen island to him, taking his hand without actually looking at him. Eijirou’s heart feels like it’s about to go flying out of his chest as he pulls him in close, tangling their fingers together. “Dance with me.”

“...Oh.”

He wraps his arm around Bakugou’s waist, the two of them pressed together and swaying together, moving together as Ella Fitzgerald sings in her low, sweet voice.

“I can always hear her,” Bakugou says, halfway through the song, head resting on Eijirou’s shoulder. “Her voice, it’s the right tenor, even when it’s higher range. Fuckin’ love her voice. And Louis Armstrong is fuckin great too.”

“What’s the song about?” Eijirou murmurs.

Bakugou pauses, before translating with the song, “Sweet dreams til sunbeams find you, sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you. But in your dreams, whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.”

Eijirou feels his face go very red.

“Stars fading, but I linger on dear, still craving your kiss. I’m longing to linger til dawn, dear… just saying this.” Bakugou looks up, red eyes sparking in the faint light of evening, and Eijirou can’t quite help his desperate need to kiss him.

The fajitas, it turns out, are very good. But Eijirou thinks he might like the taste of Bakugou’s mouth better.

oOo

The sunlight comes far too early, creeping over the bed to slowly turn everything a dusty gold. Eijirou wakes up slowly, feeling heavy and deliciously well rested, and finds that Bakugou has burrowed against him in his sleep. His head is heavy on Eijirou’s chest, an arm tossed over his waist and their legs tangled together. For once, he looks wonderfully peaceful.

Eijirou could get used to waking up like this.

He absently strokes Bakugou's hair, the softness of it pleasing to his fingers. It's both wiry and velvet soft all at once, the pale dandelion fluff of color strange against Eijirou's darker skin. Bakugou is pale and sleek all over.

He slowly shifts, coming awake, and Eijirou smiles when he yawns wide and shows off sharp little eyeteeth.

“Morning, beautiful.”

“Mm.” Bakugou settles against him, nosing and nuzzling against his chest like a sleepy cat. “Yeah.”

“Sleep well?”

“It drowned everything else out,” Bakugou says quietly, fingers absently stroking the soft cotton of his shirt.

“What did?”

“Your heartbeat. It was loud enough against my ears that I didn’t hear anything else. Slept like a baby, it was great.” He huffs out a bit of a laugh, holding a little tighter to Eijirou’s shirt. “Shit, I don’t want to get up. You’re going to spoil me for sleeping alone.”

“Awww.”

Eijirou showers first, Bakugou following him before getting changed into his day clothes and stalking to the kitchen while Eijirou gets his hair spiked for the day. He watches Bakugou examine his cabinets, poking and prodding each one and mentally cataloging it. He really does seem like a cat at times, patrolling new territory to mark it out as his own, finicky and picky and dead determined to know exactly where everything belongs. He pulls out things for pancakes as he goes, nose wrinkling at the mix that Eijirou has stashed in the cupboard but pulling out anyway. Eijirou hides a smile as he looks in the drawer for silverware and chopsticks and makes a face.

“Want to pick my clothes for today? Since you think my closet's such a mess?”

“Your closet is a mess. You’re a fucking mess.” But Bakugou lets go of his interrogation of the kitchen to come and open the standing wardrobe, surveying the hanging suits, pants, clothing sets, shoes, and small jewelry box with a critical eye before turning around and pulling open drawers in his dresser as well. He hums here and there, muttering curses and turning a critical eye on everything before looking back at the wardrobe. “Do you have meetings today?”

“Yes and no. Meetings in the morning, and then in the afternoon I’m dedicated to the studio to work on the couture line. I have to start really getting some mock-up’s together so we can make adjustments as needed.” Eijirou watches, fascinated, as Bakugou opens the jewelry box first. “Jewelry first?”

Bakugou nods, pulling out a long gold chain necklace with a simple knot on the end. “Yep.” He puts the necklace on the dresser, pulling out a set of thin gold bangles and a single ring set with a simple black onyx. He adds a pair of modest, simple gold hoops to the pile. “You’ve got a decent jewelry collection.”

“Okaa-san gets lots of stuff as gifts, she handed most of it off to me.”

Bakugou pulls out a couple different pairs of shoes, eyeing them critically next to the jewelry before discarding a pair of dark green loafers, his mostly-black-with-floral-soles combat boots, and a set of simple brown brogues, leaving the red stilettos with the chiffon ties sitting innocently on the top of his dresser. Bakugou gives them one last look over, eyes narrowed, before nodding tightly and returning his attention to the clothes. This takes much less time than Eijirou anticipated. The first thing out is a wonderfully soft linen button-up shirt, oversized even on him, from Sakamata. The next is a pair, of all things, of floaty satin paints in a mottled muted green and blue with large, ultra detailed prints of flowers and birds in pale cream, gold, brown, and red on them. To be honest, Eijirou had entirely forgotten he owned them, and is relatively certain they’re meant to be lounge pants.

“I know you’ve got lace trimmed underwear,” Bakugou says, blunt as ever, and Eijirou goes bright red. “With all the tight shit you wear it’s the only way to avoid lines. But I’m not going through that. Yet. So pick something that won’t show, these pants are enough of a risk as is. Get fucking dressed.”

Eijirou does, in fact, own underwear trimmed in lace, and is as red as his hair when he pulls it on as Bakugou bangs around in the kitchen and curses the amount of protein powder he has. The pants are extremely comfortable, and truly massive- he has no idea where they came from, but they look like they might be one of Tetsu’s failed loungewear experiments from his fabric design class. They tie with a drawstring that has tiny bells hanging from it, and he likes the tiny ringing sound they make as they chime. The shirt he loosely tucks in, leaving it fairly open and rolling the sleeves to the elbows.

The bangles are pushed on his left wrist, the ring on his right ring finger, the necklace looped over his head and earrings pushed through the appropriate holes, and then it’s time for the heels. He slips them on, carefully tying the chiffon into a bow at the back, and stands. He walks out into the living room again, and spreads his arms. “Here I am.”

Bakugou turns to look at him from where he’s somehow making pancakes, and his eyes narrow. He sets the bowl down, walking over to pace around him like a particularly annoyed snake before plucking half of the shirt out and pulling it up a little more so that it drapes beautifully. His fingers trail rather possessively over Eijirou’s stomach, pausing at his chest for a moment before flicking another button loose.

Eijirou bites his lip, staring down at him, and Bakugou gives a sharp little nod, pleased with himself and stepping back to take it all in.

“You need to wear these more,” he says bluntly. “You look good in golds, better against your skin than silver. Bronze would be even better. Black’s nice on you, too. You should wear more textures, cotton and wool are fine but they get boring. Juxtapose that shit.” He waves his hand up and down, generically gesturing to Kirishima’s body. “You’re fucking ripped as hell, show it off or something. No fucking Bermuda shorts though, you wear shorts in public and I might actually be legally obligated to kill you. All or nothing with those thighs. And no khakis, they’re dad pants and you’re not married or a parent. At least you better not be or I really will have to kill you for being an asshole.”

“Not married, no children,” Eijirou snickers, and gets a flash of a smile. “You’re sure about this?”

“I’ve been doing this shit since I was four, bitch, I know what I’m doing.”

Eijirou turns around, looking at himself in the mirror. He does, admittedly, look damn good.

“You like it when I wear the heels, don’t you?” he says slyly, and Bakugou glares at him. There’s two spots of color high on his cheeks, giving him away as Eijirou smirks right back at him.

“I don’t hate you in them and they’re a good color. Shut up and sit down so you can eat your pancakes before we leave, you fucking heathen.”

Eijirou obediently eats his pancakes, tangling his feet with Bakugou's as they sit together. Bakugou's especially pretty when he blushes, and he spends half the time trying to be as obscene as possible to get that pink back on his cheeks. Bakugou does the dishes, scowling and snapping at him when Eijirou leans in to still kisses along his neck to distract him, but it’s not too long before they’re both ready to go. Bakugou’s fetched his clothes from the car, a comfortable t-shirt with a white skull on it and a bomber jacket covered in patches, same black jeans as the day before. He looks good, even better than usual, and Eijirou pulls him in for yet another kiss before they leave.

“Hey,” Bakugou says as they put on their shoes and jackets. “You busy tonight?”

“Um, I don’t think so.” He checks his calendar, just in case. “Nope, I’m free after work. Mina wants me to go clubbing with her and Tetsu on Saturday, not tonight.”

Bakugou makes a face like he’s bit a lemon. “Fun. Want to have a date?”

Eijirou very nearly falls over. “O-oh! A date? Like a real official date?”

“No, you fucker, we’re going to have a fake date. Yes, a real date!” Bakugou rolls his eyes.

Eijirou beams at him, and yep, there’s that blush again. “Yes! Please! Gods, it’s been forever since I had an actual date, please take me on a date.”

“Great. I’ll pick you up from work then.”

Eijirou locks the door behind them, walking with Bakugou down the hall, practically bouncing with excitement. His neighbor, Ritsu-san, is long since used to his antics and just waves at him as she steps out into the hall to leave for her own workday. Eijirou cheerfully waves back, linking arms with Bakugou as they arrive at the elevator. “What are we doing?”

“Half of it is a surprise, but I think you’ll like it,” Bakugou says, his smile back and very pleased. “And the other half is dinner. There's a place I can get reservations to, you’ll fit in perfectly. So don’t fuck up your outfit.”

Eijirou feels like his smile is going to split his face in two. “I’m so excited!”

“Yeah, I can see that.” Bakugou turns, kissing his cheek, and Eijirou ducks his head with a strangled noise of delight. “Anyone ever told you you’re stupid cute?”

“Oh my godddd.”

Bakugou kisses his cheek again as the elevator doors close, and Eijirou grins at the floor.

Life, he thinks, might just be looking up.

Chapter Text

A date. Eijirou is going on a date. He’s going on a date with Bakugou Katsuki, who has apparently made plans and reservations, and he is going to have food and a surprise and he is going. On. A date.

“You’re cheerful today,” Rei says as they work on pinning fabric into general seams to test shapes. “Something happen?”

“It’s a good day,” Eijirou protests, going a little pink. “I'm excited about life! The world is out there and it's absolutely beautiful and I'm going on a date tonight!”

Rei laughs, eyes crinkling at the corners as she takes a massive skirt and pins it to a delicate bodice. The mannequins around the room are starting to be clothed in varying amounts of muslin silhouettes to give them an idea of how the full builds will go. They're working somewhat backwards, but Fatgum is hardly a couture brand, and Eijirou's fully aware that everyone is absolutely playing it by ear. “Exciting indeed. Who is it?”

“I can't say,” Eijirou whines, holding it up for her to examine closer. “I want to talk about it, I do, but he's pretty shy about this and doesn't want anyone to know because his friends would definitely harass him about it. So we're not going to tell anyone properly until we know for sure if we want to get all official and romantic and stuff.”

“Mm, I remember those days. Dating is both very fun and very frustrating, isn't it?” Rei takes the gown to the sewing machine.

“It really is.”

They finish the gown base quickly and drape it on a mannequin. Rei hums in approval.

“I like the mix of shapes,” she says, and Eijirou beams. “Let’s get the rest done!”

At 5 o’clock Eijirou bounds out of the elevators into the lobby, waving to Miruko before nearly running to the doors. The heels help him contain himself, barely, but as he walks out of the door he spots his date and his mouth goes dry. He approaches, stopping in front of Bakugou, who raises a single eyebrow at him.

Bakugou is leaning against a bulky Prius in a jet black suit, white shirt open at the throat. Silver, reflective aviators are hanging from the breast pocket, and his nails have been manicured and trimmed to near razor sharp perfect ovals. The cut of the suit emphasizes his long legs and trim waist, the whole thing coming together in a look that screams ultra-masculine and powerful without trying too hard.

Eijirou’s never felt this gay in his entire life, and he’s including the time that Tetsutetsu won the wet t-shirt contest at a frat party despite going up against four girls.

“Um,” Eijirou says, his brain definitely shorting out. “Whoa.”

“What?” Bakguou snaps, immediately defensive.

“You uh. You look really good,” Eijirou manages to stammer out, cheeks going pink, and Bakugou’s eyes widen just a hair before he clicks his tongue in dismissal and pulls the door open.

“Whatever. Get in.”

“Absolutely, sir yes sir,” Eijirou says, all but throwing himself into the passenger side of the Prius. “Are we going to dinner now?”

“Yeah. It's going to be about an hour, since it's rush hour, so get comfy.” Bakugou puts the sunglasses on, clicking his tongue against his teeth. “Fucking traffic.”

“Can I know where we're going yet?” Eijirou asks eagerly.

“Nope. But it's in Meguro.”

“Oooh.”

Bakugou wasn't joking about the traffic. It takes about an hour to reach Meguro. They talk most of the way there, Bakugou growling about his classmates and groupwork while Eijirou enthuses about work. The standard look of Tokyo fades into something different, and Bakugou pulls into a parking lot as Eijirou stares around in interest. They've arrived in Jiyugaoka, according to the sign announcing the fees for the parking lot, and now he’s terribly curious. Jiyugaoka is fashionable and elegant, which has Eijirou feeling enormously underdressed. They park with the intention of walking the rest of the way there, and Eijirou blushes when Bakugou, also blushing, offers his arm.

It’s a fine, warm evening, the rush and bustle of Roppongi nowhere to be seen as they stroll along the street towards the restaurant. Tokyo’s Little Europe has a slower pace, less frenetic than the rest of the city. The houses are tall and charming in various pastel stuccos and rich brown brickwork, trees and plants everywhere. The neighborhood is utterly pleasant, and Eijirou thinks that he wouldn’t mind living here. The cherry blossoms are nearing the end of their time, soon to start falling, and Eijirou sighs happily as the sunset turns the sky muted pink and gold to match.

“We should do hanami with Mina, Sero, and Kaminari,” he says. Bakugou makes a face, but nods.

“Yeah. We’ve got a little bit of time left, might be nice.” He makes a face. “The other two idiots want to get to know you more, or something. Keep texting me whining that me ‘n Mina are hogging you.”

“Well, I mean…”

“Don’t wanna hear it.”

Eijirou snickers, and gets a rare easy smile from Bakugou in return. “Nah, they’re cool. And they seem fun! I want to know them more, too. I’ve missed out on almost four years of Mina’s life, I want to get to know her all over again and know her friends too. We just drifted, you know? I want her back in my life.”

Bakugou hums. “You went to school together, right?”

“Yeah, middle school and high school. Her parents split up in high school so she spent a lot of time at my place.” He avoids a puddle, hopping over it to make Bakugou smile again. They’ve come to a small canal with a boat docked on it, a lovely bridge with wrought iron railings leading across it. “I’m happy she’s around again, y’know? It’s good to have friends. What a small world.”

“We live on a fucking string of islands, there’s only so far to go.”

“Yeah, a string of islands with millions and millions of people on it! Let me have this magic,” Eijirou laughs, and Bakugou comes to a stop to lean up and kiss him right at the top of the bridge. It’s soft and terribly sweet, and Eijirou’s heart feels like it’s done several thousand flips and wants to escape from his chest. He knows his eyes must be shining when Bakugou pulls back, but he really doesn’t care.

“You’re way too fucking pretty,” Bakugou says simply, reaching up with a shockingly gentle hand to cup his cheek. Eijirou leans into it, charmed past words. Bakugou clears his throat, and adds, “I know I’m not… I’m not great with words. And doing things, I’m… I’m still learning that too. Never really wanted to make someone else happy like this, but I promise, I’m going to try and get this right. I never want you to ever have to wonder if I care. Okay?”

Eijirou’s eyes blur, and he turns his face to kiss Bakugou’s palm. “Yeah,” he says, voice breaking a little. “Okay. Thank you, Bakugou.”

“Don’t thank me for common decency, just hold me to it,” Bakugou says, and leans in to kiss his cheek. “Don’t think I’m gonna forget about what you said about your old boyfriends. I’m going to blow them out of the water.”

That gets him to laugh, and Eijirou leans in to press a lingering kiss to Bakugou’s forehead. “I promise you, you already have. By a very, very wide margin.”

“Good.”

Bakugou leads him off of the bridge and down a few more blocks before they arrive at a very nice restaurant. He briskly adjusts Eijirou’s clothes, brushes down his suit-coat, and then Eijirou watches him go from the slightly awkward, foul mouthed man he sees so often to Bakugou Katsuki, Man In Charge, with just a slight adjustment to his posture and the jut of his chin. It’s honestly a bit intimidating, and Eijirou meekly lets himself be waved through the door.

The restaurant is very Venetian inspired, pretty without being overwhelming in rich reds and clean whites, gold accents here and there to make the place classy without being overdone. There’s a quiet murmur of conversation here and there, soft clinks of silverware on fine china plates. A man stands at the hosts desk looking at them like he might a particular bug on his shoe. Bakugou seems entirely unimpressed, and presses a hand to Eijirou’s back to quietly urge him forward. The maitre’d glances at Eijirou’s pants and heels, and his face contorts ever so slightly. He offers no welcome.

“We have reservations,” Bakugou says bluntly.

The maitre’d’s lips thin, and Eijirou can practically feel Bakugou bristle. “Ah.”

“The reservation is under Bakugou,” Bakugou says, and the maitre’d goes very pale. Eijirou refuses to preen.

“Oh, I see. One moment please.”

Burgundy menus are gathered, and the maitre'd leads them to their table, furiously waving over a very startled waiter from the bar.

Eijirou’s always been big. Or if not big, somewhat bulky. Sturdy. Bakugou makes him feel like the most delicate crystal vase as they walk through the room, the jet black suit gleaming under the muted lights. The waiter sees them to a small, out of view seat that allows them to see the whole room while still being hidden away, bowing politely as Bakugou wins the stare down and pulls out Eijirou’s chair before sitting as well.

“Would you like the wine menu as well?”

“Not tonight,” Bakugou says bluntly. “Leave.”

The waiter all but vanishes in a dust cloud.

“Um,” Eijirou says weakly as Bakugou flicks the menu open. He’s pretty sure the chandelier is actually gold. “Is there something you’re not telling me about your finances? Or are you yakuza or something?”

Bakugou doesn’t look up from his list. “I called in a favor from a parent, nothing so dramatic as that shit. My… my foster dad was happy to make arrangements. And hand over his card. Which I am going to use with pleasure, because I have no moral qualms about fucking gifts, and I haven’t eaten here since Sakamata took me here years ago. Weird night.”

“I don’t even know where to start with that.”

“Yeah, neither did I. Damn good taste in chocolate cake though, I can tell you that. Want to try it?”

Eijirou gets the hint to drop it. “Yeah.”

“Good.”

The food on the menu is decidedly European, which is fine by Eijirou. Akaa-san’s tastes have never fully been in line with Japanese sensibilities, so he’d spent most of his years growing up with a pretty European palate. He picks gravlux, the only thing familiar to him on the menu, while Bakugou goes for the filet mignon.

The menus are rushed away, and Eijirou smiles at Bakugou. “How was class?”

“Good. We're finally getting started on the real lab work, it's a riot.” Bakugou leans back in his chair, comfortable and at ease. “S’weird talking to people in English all the time again. Last time I talked this much was years ago, but it’s fine. We’ve finally got them using honorifics, at least. What about work?”

“Oh my god, we’re so busy!”

The conversation is easy, the food is delicious. Eijirou gets Katsuki to laugh his sharp, barking laugh, and by the time the cake is set in front of them they’re both relaxed and happy. The cake truly is delicious. It seems to melt in his mouth, the chocolate rich and utterly decadent. Eijirou sighs happily, and the pleased look on Bakugou’s face has his heart racing. Their feet tangle together under the table, Eijriou’s heels against Bakugou’s sleek brogues, and he can’t ever quite stop blushing.

Eijirou feels light and fluttery when they leave the restaurant, and coos as they walk the streets. The streetlights in the Venetian inspired square are soft and golden, and Eijirou gasps softly at just how beautiful it is. The lighting is incredible, and he bites his lip, hesitating for a moment to look around at it all.

Bakugou cocks his head. “Like it?” he asks, his voice a little gruff.

“Yeah,” Eijirou says, taking it all in. A thought hits him, and he flushes a little. “...Can I… um. Can I photograph you? For memories? I mean, I’m not my mom or anything, but-”

Bakugou’s already moving, rolling his eyes. It’s an obvious front though. “Where do you want me?”

Eijirou beams.

He gets a few very nice shots with Bakugou on the bridge, against a few walls, and just generally looking up at the sky, but his favorite is a candid of him sitting on a bench, looking up at some people with a dog walk past. There’s just a bit of a smile on his face, his hands clasped together in front of him as he looks to the side.

“Your turn,” Bakugou says when Eijirou declares himself done, and Eijirou blanches.

“Um- Can we get one together instead? And then we should probably get going, right?”

Bakugou eyes him, but clearly decides not to press it. Eijirou takes the photo on the bridge, balancing his phone with a spare rock on one of the columns to take the picture, and it’s honestly beautiful.

They get back to the car eventually, climbing in and slipping away from Jiyugaoka. Eijirou watches the city drift by outside the car, reaching over to take Bakugou's free hand without looking. Their hands fit together beautifully, palms sitting flush together. Eijirou smiles as Bakugou tightens his grip, relaxing into his seat. The glowing neon of a Tokyo night turns him soft, and as the world goes dark and the lights of the evening turn on, he feels himself smile.

Strangely, the neighborhood starts to look familiar again, and Eijirou looks around in confusion as they pull into the guest parking space in front of his building and park.

Eijirou blinks, straightening up and looking over at Bakugou. “Why are we back at my apartment?”

“Because we’re going to get changed into different clothes, and then we’re doing the rest of the date,” Bakugou says, sounding a little bit smug. “Get a t-shirt and those stupid black shorts with the roses on them.”

“I thought you said you’d kill me if I wore shorts in public?”

“Bermuda shorts. Either show off your legs or fuck off. Wear good running shoes too.”

Eijirou eyes him suspiciously, but Bakugou just keeps looking smug. “Okay…”

“Just trust me.”

oOo

Half an hour later, they’ve parked outside of a building in Setagaya, and Katsuki is feeling very smug. Kirishima practically squeals, nearly throwing himself out of the car when he realizes where they are. The sign on the door does give it away.

“Rock climbing?! You’re taking me rock climbing on a date?! Holy shit this is the best date ever, come on come on let’s GO!” Kirishima leaps into the air with a whoop, making Katsuki laugh, and he follows him into the building. Kirishima beams at him as he pays for their time and equipment, excitedly getting geared up and into his harness before nearly sprinting into the rockwall room. There are climbing shoes for rent as well, and It’s a decent sized one, spread around the room in a few different levels of difficulty, and not too busy considering the late evening.

“How’d you know?” he demands as Katsuki finishes strapping on his helmet. “How’d you know I like rock climbing?”

“I didn’t, lucky guess,” Katsuki admits. “Thought it’d be the kind of thing you’d like. So. Good surprise?”

“The best surprise, oh my god, I’m so happy right now.” Kirishima’s smile, enormous and toothy, has Katsuki’s heart doing flips. “Akaa-san loves rock climbing, we used to go all the time. I’m a little rusty, I haven’t been able to go in like, two years, but there was a place in Chiba we went. She’s just like, super sporty and stuff, she does Iron Man’s and marathons all the time. I’m more into weight lifting, but I love rock climbing. We’re definitely doing this again sometime. All the time. Have you done it before?”

“Mostly actual outdoors,” Katsuki says, looking around the room. “Not too many times indoor, but I guess it’s the same concept. Did more along the lines of bouldering than climbing. My family was really outdoorsy, my… my dad really liked it. So I did it a lot when I was younger.”

Kirishima nods, not looking at all judgemental. “Am I ever going to meet your family?” he asks simply.

Katsuki bites his lip. The question hurts deep in his gut, old memories and older scars twinging. “Not my biological ones,” he says after a moment. “At least, not if I can help it. Maybe the others, one day. Maybe. But that’s a big fucking if.”

“Okay,” Kirishima says, as if it’s just that simple, and grins at him. “Let’s get on the wall!”

Katsuki loves him.

He belays first, watching Eijirou climb up the wall like he was born to do it, powerful muscles flexing and bulging as he dusts his hands and swings from handhold to handhold, clever eyes picking out routes until he’s perched at the top and lets out a whoop of success, thrusting his arms in the air. He rapels back down, switching out to belay Katsuki, and Katsuki starts up the wall. It’s more fun than he remembers, finding the routes and switchbacks. The easiest route isn’t too bad, for as rusty as he is, and he reaches the top only a couple minutes slower than Kirishima, who beams up at him from below.

They climb until the lights start to go down, and turn in their gear to the bored person at the desk. Kirishima enthusiastically asks about memberships, taking paperwork to look over, and grabs Katsuki's hand to hold as they walk out to the car.

“I'm so happy,” Kirishima tells him before leaning in so he can kiss his cheek. “This was so much fun! Thank you!”

“Sap,” Katsuki scoffs, but he's pleased and knows it's showing. “Get in already.”

His stomach feels like butterflies and bees have taken up residence in it as they drive back to Kirishima's. He watches Kirishima out of the corner of his eye, taking in the breadth of his shoulders and the thickness of his legs, the sleek curve of his neck and flash of his cheek. Kirishima is unquestionably beautiful, and heat coils up and down his spine while fingers of wanting slide over his skin. In years past, they would have called him gods-touched, in Katsuki's none too humble opinion.

Katsuki walks Kirishima up to and into his apartment. They only just barely get the door shut before Katsuki can’t help himself and pushes Kirishima hard against the door, pressing their bodies tight together and clumsily kissing him. Kirishima melts against him, strong hands grabbing his shirt and back to hold him tight. His teeth are so sharp, and Katsuki takes a moment to salute past him, who had no idea what a kink for teeth was like and was probably ruined forever. Kirishima’s leg slides between his, lending just a bit of friction that has Katsuki snarling against his mouth and pushing him harder against the door.

“Aw, fuck,” Kirishima breathes before shoving at him and pinning him against the entryway wall. There’s a frantic scramble of hands, at least one button going flying off of Kirishima’s shirt.

“Stay,” Kirishima breathes against his mouth as he sheds his shirt and Katsuki loses his jacket, and Katsuki… Katsuki wants. He wants to feel all of Kirishima, know every bit of him, feel exactly how his muscles move under fine skin and the way his breath hitches and gasps, wants to know what makes him whimper and wail and scream with pleasure and yet-

“No,” he says, and steps back. Kirishima takes a step back as well, biting hard on his lip. They stare at each other, both breathing hard, and Katsuki can feel his hands shaking. Kirishima’s eyes are blown wide, the pupils so dark there’s only the smallest ring of red around them. It’s more attractive than it has any right to be, and for just a second Katsuki wants to change his mind, throw caution to the wind, and just let himself have at it. But.

But.

“Not yet,” he says, swallowing hard. “You, and me, we… I want you to know me, first. We don’t even use each others first names yet. I want to know you before- before this. Us. Fucking, or whatever.”

Kirishima takes a deep breath, visibly composing himself. His chest heaves, and Katsuki is momentarily distracted by just how stupidly pretty he is. “Right. Right. Okay. What do you mean, by knowing each other?”

Katsuki takes a shaky breath. Arousal is still fighting for his attention and all those stupid fore-brain things are screaming at him to just let it go and get down to business but that is not who he is. And he doesn’t want to fuck this up. “I want to trust you enough to be in my house.”

Kirishima blinks. “What? Oh, wait, holy shit, hold up. Mina says she’s never even been inside.”

“Mina knows what building I live in, but she’s never been in my house. Only 3 people outside of me ever have,” Katsuki says bluntly. “Deku, his mom, and-and my foster dad. That’s it. I want you to go there first, before we… before this. Um. Fuck, I don’t know how to put this that I don’t sound fucking insane.”

“No, no, I get it.” Kirishima shifts a little, adjusting himself, and Katsuki burns with want. “It’s a big fucking deal. And the fucking is also a big deal.”

“Smooth.”

“Thanks, I try.” Kirishima runs a hand through his hair, taking another calming breath. “And I mean… that’s what dating’s for, right? The- the courting, or whatever, that bit. The getting-to-know-you but with romantic intentions that isn’t just hanging out. Learning to trust each other.”

“Five questions.”

It pops out of Katsuki’s mouth before he’s even thinking about it. Kirishima blinks.

“What?”

“Five questions, just like at Sakamata’s. We should. We should do that all the time.” Katsuki flushes a little. “I never… I didn’t do a good job of turning it around on you. I don’t even know what your degree is in. I don’t know how you take your coffee, or what games you like best, or your fucking gym routine- and that’s been bothering me since we fucking met, I’m going to get it from you I swear to all the gods-, I don’t know if you even like cake. Or your favorite color, but I’m guessing it’s red.”

“You’d be right on that one,” Kirishima says, giving him a smile.

Katsuki takes a deep breath. “If I can’t trust you in my own house, I shouldn’t trust you with- with myself, I guess. I… I’m supremely fucked up, Kirishima, I know that. I’ve got issues galore, but I want this to work. I want this to work with you. Not just because it’d be nice to actually have fun having sex, though that’s pretty damn high up on the list I’ll admit. I like you. As a person. And I want to be part of your life, and have your life be part of mine.”

Kirishima looks like he’s bordering on tears. “That’s so fucking manly, Bakugou.”

“I’m leaving.”

Kirishima laughs, breaking the tension, and smiles brightly. “You’re right, though. This is… this is different. And you’ve already said that sex is kind of weird for you, so yeah, let’s… let’s be sure this is what we want. Look at us, being proper adults.”

“Ugh,” Katsuki mutters, and Kirishima snickers.

“Yeah. Today was really, really good though. It was fun! And the food was good, and, uh,” Kirishima turns nearly as red as his hair. “It was really nice being looked after for once. And getting to be fancy like that. And you looked really, really good in that suit.”

“Fuck off.”

“Not a chance.”

The tension’s gone completely, and Katsuki takes a few hesitant steps forward before Kirishima does the same, closing his eyes as Kirishima slides his fingers under his chin and kisses him sweetly.

“Thank you for the date,” Kirishima says, a little hoarse when they break apart. Katsuki nods, knowing his face must be on fire, and flees.

And if he screams quietly when he gets into his car, no one but him has to know.

oOo

Text to: Baku
oh shit wait now its my turn to plan a date
Thoughts on the aquarium?

Text from: Baku
Hard fucking pass, noise echoes around on the glass and gives me a headache
Midnight had a line release party there once and i thought was going to lose it
No Aquarium.

Text to: Baku
Oh shit yeah we’ll pass on that
Um. Well. I uh.
Cooking classes?
…..
Bakugou I saw that you read this is that a yes or no
Bakugou.

Text from: Baku
had to break out the emergency vodka
fuck it, let’s do it. NO BAKING.

Text to: Baku
Oh gods.
I hope you didn’t just drink that straight

Text from: Baku
I did two shots and everything is very nice now.

Text to: Baku
oh boy. this is going to go well

oOo

Katsuki finally gives in and accepts the Ryukyuu shoot after making arrangements with his professors to miss a day. He’d been dead certain they wouldn’t agree, but he’s kept his grades third best in most of his classes, first in a few others. Some don’t care, others are impressed he’s juggling both, and he manages to finally get back to work with a bit of careful things worked out. Somehow he’s been added to a group chat for the international students, which he keeps muted for the most part, but one of the American girls offers to send him notes and he accepts.

It’s a short shoot done in the morning on the top of a building, which doesn’t fill him with an overwhelming sense of calm, but they’re done by 12 and shipped back to the All Might building. Katsuki checks in with Aizawa, shoots a quick text to Mina to tell remind her to come in and do paperwork when Purple Intern Aizawa gripes at him about it, and decides to head up to All Might’s offices to say hi to Toshinori and harass Deku. Kirishima had texted him to tell him he was confined to the studio for the day building mock ups, or he’d have headed to Fatgum.

The actual design studio for All Might is on the 32nd floor, 33rd and 34th offices of various kinds, with Yagi Toshinori’s office and accompanying boardrooms and VP nonsense on the 35th and final floor of the building. Katsuki jabs the button for the 35th floor, and heads up.

Everything on the CEO’s floor is brilliant and colorful, as awe inspiring at 23 as it was at 14. The look is distinctly mid-century modern American, with eyewatering yellow, red, and blue everywhere. “Bold” is the word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to the All Might offices, and Katsuki’s inclined to agree. He heads to the front desk, and Yagi’s front desk secretary perks up.

“Ah, Bakugou-kun! We don’t see you up here as much anymore, hello!”

He nods, used to hearing this every time he visits. “Hey. Any idea where De- where Midoriya is?”

“Ah, Yagi-san just stepped into a meeting, there’s quite a lot going on this week! I believe Midoriya-kun is near boardroom Delaware,” the secretary says, and points him down a hall. Katsuki nods his thanks and slouches his way through a door with a wave of the small round fob on his keyring. Once through the doors, he’s suddenly a faceless entity. Personal assistant, businessmen and women of all types rush back and forth with papers and coffee, talking on headsets and doing eight things at once. Katsuki knows that Deku thrives in this, the paperwork and mind games, the compromises and the design all at once. One day, he knows, Deku will sit in Yagi’s office and it’ll become his own, taking the reins of a massive beast.

Deku will do it, and do it well. What a fucking world they live in.

He ducks past board room Detroit, going down a narrow hallway where a light seems to have burned out, and stops at a junction when he hears voices out of force of habit.

“-to talk to me about?”

That’s Deku, sounding more nervous than he has in a while.

“Midoriya…” A lower voice, familiar but not overly. “Are you Yagi’s lovechild or something?”

Katsuki blinks. What the fuck has he stumbled into now?

“........What?!” Deku laughs, high and shrill, and Katsuki narrowly resists the urge to smack his palm to his face. Very convincing, Deku. “No, that’s not it! I mean, well, if I was like his actual child I’d be denying it so of course that doesn’t seem very convincing but Yagi-san is like a parent to me but still he’s definitely not my actual flesh and blood father oh my god, I would be so much taller- but, uh, why do you ask, Todoroki-kun?”

Oh. Todoroki. Weird conversation to behaving with him.

Weird conversation period, really.

“Because,” Todoroki says dryly, “My father is Todoroki Enji, who’s in there with Yagi-san right now. My whole life, he’s only ever wanted me to take over Endeavor, be a designer, compete with All Might and finally come out on top as the best in Japan. He’s not as popular as All Might, he can’t crack the top. He arranged his marriage to my mother in order to get favor with her family and have her experience available, had me and my siblings in the hopes that one of us would turn out to have all the gifts. My sister was discarded, my oldest brother fled, my next oldest had no talent or eye for art or business. But me… Somehow, I was going to be molded into exactly what he wanted.”

Fucking hell.

Katsuki closes his eyes. He can feel hands on him, whispers and echoes as people tilt his head this way and that, critiquing and approving in equal measure, praise ringing through his memories. Easy laughter, cut short.

His skin crawls.

Todoroki continues, ruthless. “He got what he wanted. I have a good eye for design, a solid head for business. He had me learning stocks from the time I was 4, complex math and Chinese and English from about 5. If I failed a task, I was punished violently. We had an in house nurse for a time, because I wasn’t learning fast enough for his tastes, and I suffered for it. In college I thought I was free, but he’s kept me on a leash of sorts. I don’t want business, I want art, I want to create instead of rule. But he forced my hand- apply for the business internship here, or face designing under him right out of the gate. I won’t raise a single cent to Endeavor’s name, not after all the blood I’ve spilled for him.”

Deku’s voice is soft. “Todoroki-kun…”

“I’m not done. I can see how Yagi-san watches you. He has his eye on you, whether you admit it or not, but I want to design and build something on my own merit. You’ll take on a legacy, but I’ll build a life with nothing left behind.”

Fucking hell. Overdramatic fashion gays.

(You know you’re just trying to push off your fears, his head whispers, sounding a lot like his therapist. You’re just pushing down memories that he’s bringing up. You don’t have to be rude about it.

Fuck off, he thinks to himself, and ignores how his heartbeat has kicked up several notches.)

“I’ve said my piece,” Todoroki says. “Deny it, or whatever you want. I’m fighting my father in an uphill battle but I’m winning, and I’ll win against you too.” Then, footsteps walking away, slightly muffled by the carpet. He can hear Deku chase after him.

Well then. That’s… something. Deku-bothering is probably off his list of things to do today, now, which is slightly annoying on account of the fact that bothering Deku at work with boring shit is actually pretty fun. Two mental notes slot into place all the same; Todoroki intern, asshole dad, Many Issues. Todoroki Enji, avoid at all costs, and if unable, throw down.

His heart is still racing.

Katsuki leans against the wall, closing his eyes and taking a slow, deep breath. One-two-three-four-in. Hold for 4 seconds. Out-one-two-three-four. He focuses on breathing in a slow, even pattern, bringing his heart rate back down. But his hands won’t stop shaking.

He’s been happy for a while now. He really has, with Kirishima and things being not awful with Deku and seeing Toshinori more. He’s been so happy, which is good, but the anger sits and festers under his skin. Sometimes it sleeps, but it’s always there, always ready to rear its ugly head and make him want to rip and claw, pummel and tear. He has a temper, he’s easily riled, and he knows part of it is a learned response, but another part of it is just who he is. And right now he wants nothing more than to pick up Todoroki Fucking Enji and watch him burn.

“Fuck,” he breathes, fingernails digging into his palms before he finally gets himself under control. “Fuck.”

He wants a lighter, and physical violence.

Well. He can probably fulfil one of those things.

His hands are still shaking as he pulls his phone out and jabs the call button. It rings four times before Kaminari picks up, sounding a little distracted.

Hey blasty-bro, what’s up? You never call.

“You busy?” Katsuki grinds out, still rooted to the ground.

For you, babe? Never.” There’s the slam of a door, and Kaminari sighs. “Oh my god I thought he’d never leave, I’ve been trying to get Hanta to get out the door for like an hour now, he’s gonna be so late. Okay, so, technically that’s a lie, I’m supposed to be going to some work party for that weird ass car company I did some work for like, eight months ago because my mom wants me to see if we could get a discount on a car because she wants me to learn how to drive, but like… I don’t wanna. Also I’m not sure I’d be legally allowed. So please, please give me something else to be doing.

“Want to go to the gym? I need to hit some shit.”

There’s a pause. “I mean…yeah? I like boxing, we haven’t gone in forever. But you don’t sound good man, you okay?

“Nope.”

Ooookay! Gym it is. Yours or mine?

Katsuki almost slumps in relief. He doesn’t have to be alone, thank fuck. “Yours. It’s got the punching bags, mine doesn’t.”

Cool cool, meet you there bro. See you in… what, an hour?

“Yeah.”

Katsuki slips out of the office without anyone the wiser, and calls the day a success based on that alone. He calls a cab back to his apartment, an extravagance he usually wouldn’t bother with, but the idea of being on a train sounds like hell. He grabs his workout gear, wraps, and gloves and heads back out.

Because life has a sense of cruel irony, Sero and Kaminari live in the Todoroki neighborhood of Setagaya, in a 2LDK on the second floor of an elderly but serviceable building. Kaminari’s gym is just down the street, and he’s leaning against the wall waiting when Katsuki arrives. Kaminari grins at him, waving, and some of the furious thrashing in his head calms down.

“Hey,” Kaminai says cheerfully, pulling the door open for him. “There’s a face I haven’t seen in a bit.”

“Fuck off.”

“Ooh, and a voice! You’re moody today.”

Katsuki grunts, making Kaminari snicker, and together they go in. They change quickly, and in little time Katsuki is swinging his first punch against the heavy bag, Kaminari holding it and watching him closely. The gym isn’t very busy, just two other people lifting weights on the other side. They don’t come to this gym too often. Usually, Katsuki goes with Kaminari to his physical therapy appointments and gets to help with torturing him. After being struck by lightning not once, but three separate times, Kaminari’s a mass of light lichtenberg scars and damaged muscles. It’s a wonder he can breathe with all the scar tissue on and in his lungs.

“You wanna talk about it?” he says about ten minutes into their session. Katsuki’s got a few good hits in and started up on a pattern. “Because you’ve been a lot better recently and this is kind of freaking me out, man. I haven’t seen you this angry in a while.”

“People,” Katsuki says, fist connecting in a very satisfying way with the bag, “are the fucking worst. I hate them.”

“Okay?”

Katsuki pummels the bag before stepping back to force himself to work on his form. “It’s one fucking thing if you’re selfish about your own life, right? Wanting to improve, get better, make more money, what the fuck ever. Live your life and get on with it.” He slams his fist into the bag in a perfect straight, nearly knocking Kaminari back. “But I take it real fucking personal when people use their children like pawns instead of actual living, breathing humans who have their own fucking lives and dreams. It’s bullshit!”

This time Kaminari does stumble back at the hit, whistling lowly as Katsuki takes a deep, ragged breath. “Damn, man, what happened?”

“Nothing I can talk about,” Katsuki growls, “because it ain’t my fucking story to tell. And I fucking hate that. Legacy, ha? Such a disgusting word.”

His arms are trembling from the anger and the punches. He lets them hang limp as Kaminari lets go of the bag and walks around to him. Kaminari is horribly gentle as he squeezes his shoulder, and Katsuki looks down at the floor, away from him.

“Look,” Kaminari says, quiet so they won’t be overheard. “You know I know what’s up with that. You’ve gone to physical therapy with me enough to know I’ve had a shit time of it with my parents.”

“Fuck them,” Katsuki mutters without looking up.

“I’m with you there, they’re assholes,” Kaminari says, laughing without a trace of humor in it. “But man, we’ve known each other for about 6 years now. I know someone fucked you up when it comes to trusting people, and believe me, I get it, but… can you trust me a little bit here and tell me what’s going on so I know if it’s safe to let you go home by yourself? Tell me what you need so we can get this better. Maybe we can’t fix it, but we can try.”

Katsuki’s mouth twists, and he keeps his eyes tight to the ground. They’re starting to burn a little.

“I overheard some shit today,” he says quietly, shrugging off Kaminari’s hand and adjusting his gloves. “Brought back some old memories. Not even bad ones, just bullshit thinking about all the shit I had to deal with as a kid. Feeling out of control. I, uh. I wanted to burn shit, but I’m trying not to have a full fucking relapse.”

“Yeah?”

There’s no judgement in Kaminari’s voice, just simple curiosity. Katsuki still can’t look up.

“I can- I can play with fire kind of, now. I make wax figures as like, a hobby? I make wire frames and then light candles and drip wax on them to build them up, and then I carve them up into little sculptures,” Katsuki says, and suddenly the words just come pouring out of his mouth. “I used to be obsessed- I’m still obsessed, it’s just a different kind, not as much all the time. Just. Fire, all the time, I needed it. I was playing with it all the time. Wasn’t until I got out of my parents house it wasn’t just fucking consuming me all the fucking time, I could stop thinking about it. I lit fireworks off and fucked up my eyes and ears when I was a teenager, I’ve got hearing aids. I was fucking dumb and addicted and I don’t ever want to go back to being that person. With fire the only thing that’s a part of me. Relapse for me would be like… burning shit for no reason.”

He finally looks up. Kaminari’s face has gone serious, but thoughtful.

“Y’know,” he says, “suddenly everything about you makes so much more sense, oh my god. That’s why you won’t come to the movies with us?”

“The reverb kills me,” Katsuki mutters.

“Holy shit, we are going to watch so many movies now. I will make you the best home theater and put on the subtitles and we can watch so much shit. And we’ll make popcorn! That really nasty American kind you like so much, I bet one of us can figure out how to make it. It’s gotta be like, butter and sugar or something weird like that, there’s gotta be recipes online somewhere. Wait, can I tell Sero about this? Or is this like, an us secret?” Kaminari grins at him, but Katsuki can see the uncertainty there.

Six years, his head whispers. This time, it sounds like Inko. Six years, and you can’t even trust your friends to know? Come on. Have some faith.

“The… the hearing, yeah,” he says, taking a shaky breath. “I’ll tell him about the fire.”

“Mina’s probably figured out your hearing,” Kaminari says, “what with Kirishima’s mom and everything.”

“Huh?”

“Yeah, Mina was super tight with Kirishima’s family in high school, and Kirishima-san’s got some sort of hearing loss. I think she said it was from a fight when she was younger or something? Maybe a genetic thing? I don’t remember super well, but she’s partially deaf...”

There’s a memory dancing just out of reach, dangling itself at the edge of his mind. Long, pin straight black hair dancing in the wind, being tucked behind an ear- something to do with cherry blossoms. Something to do with… With who?

Katsuki blinks.

The room comes back into focus. Kaminari’s staring at him, concerned. “Whoa, you okay there? You just completely blanked on me.”

“Feels like there’s something I’m supposed to remember,” Katsuki says, frowning. “But I can’t get it.”

Kaminari nods sagely. “The worst.”

“It really fucking is.”

Katsuki takes in another deep breath, and finds that he’s mostly calm again. His hands are no longer shaking, the rage banked and asleep again. His head is clear, the worst of it all past him. The anger is there, as it always is, but it’s a manageable anger. No one will be hurt by him thinking of all the ways that controlling assholes can burn. Kaminari grins at him.

“Feeling better?” When Katsuki nods, he beams, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Sweet! Let’s spar! I’ve been practicing with Mina and it’s been forever.”

They go back to Sero and Kaminari’s place afterwards, Katsuki showering in their cramped bathroom while Kaminari rattles around the kitchen and finds the takeout menus. Katsuki comes out to find Kaminari putting in an order to the local Indian place, is shooed to the couch, and allows himself to relax as Kaminari goes to shower. Their apartment is small, essentially one long room with rooms off to the side, but it’s well decorated. Sero’s grandfather’s woven hangings are on the wall, the rug is richly patterned, and everything is elegantly composed and decorated down to the very nice wood entertainment center, where Kaminari’s eclectic jumble of trinkets have been lovingly placed on display.

Katsuki sprawls on the couch, resting his head on the arm of it, and doesn’t bother moving when Kaminari emerges in comfortable clothes.

“What’s your deal with Sero anyway?” he asks absently, staring at the ceiling.

Kaminari snorts, toweling his hair dry before tossing the towel onto a chair. “Beats me. Rough plan is that if we don’t find partners within the next year, we’re just going to say fuck it and get married. I mean, we might as well, but we figured we’d give it another year to see if anyone pops up before we tie the knot. You never know, I might find some random dude and he might like some pretty young lady and we’ll bid a fond adieu to our place and fuck off to other people.”

“You’re serious?”

“Yep.” Kaminari lifts up Katsuki’s legs to sit on the couch, letting them drop back down on him. “We’re basically married already and the sex is good, so-”

“Whoa, what?!”

Kaminari snickers as Katsuki’s head snaps up. “Yeah, man. We’ve been sleeping with each other on and off since we were what, 18? And we’ve lived together since we turned 19. We basically skipped dating and went straight to married life, we’re halfway to a common law marriage anyway. It’s fucking great, wholeheartedly recommend it.”

Katsuki stares at him for a moment before letting his head drop back down. “Gods. You, married. That’s a weird thought.”

“Tell me about it.”

Katsuki laces his hands over his chest, staring back up at the blank white ceiling. “...Hey.”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks. For today.” Katsuki clears his throat. “I know I’m… bad. At all of this friend shit. Really bad. I’ve never really- I mean. I’ve had friends. But I never really learned about what being a friend was. I was just a bully with sycophants.”

“What’s that word?”

“Sycophant, means minions. Followers,” Katsuki explains without question. Kaminari’s struggles with language are a thing he’s known for ages. “I was a shitty kid and a pissed off teenager and an isolated half fucking insane young adult, and I’m… I’m working on it. I know it doesn’t seem like I’m trying, but I am.”

Kaminari pats his leg, oddly reassuring. “Bakugou, look, we all signed on as your friends knowing that you’re one of the most socially inept people we’d ever met and might ever meet again. You’re a weird dude. A hilarious, violent, stupidly talented, ultra possessive and paranoid little asshole who deep, deep, deeeeep down has a good heart but has no idea how to show it. We get it, bro. Don’t worry about it too much. You go at your own pace.”

“Square the fuck up, sparky.”

“Love you too, babe.”

Sero comes back four hours later to find Katsuki meticulously painting Kaminari’s nails in black and yellow as the other whines, “But I just don’t know if I want that for myself, you know? It’d look amazing but like, can I really commit to a dick piercing?”

“Honey, I’m home,” Sero says dryly, kicking the door shut and looking over the boxes of take out, the Mario Kart on pause on the TV, and Kaminari’s already completed makeup. Katsuki especially proud of how razor sharp the eyeliner turned out. Kaminari’s makeup sample collection is immense and they’d gotten distracted by the idea of what a Bowser inspired makeup look would be like. “What happened here?”

Katsuki grunts, carefully drawing a little lightning bolt on Kaminari’s middle finger. “Collective trauma bonding.”

Sero considers this, shrugs, and sits down next to Kaminari. “Do mine next?”

“Nails, or dick piercing?”

“Surprise me.”

“Dick piercing it is,” Katsuki says dryly.

“Sweet, right on.”

Kaminari snorts, watching the lightning bolt take shape with fascination, wiggling his other fingers before Katsuki smacks the back of his hand to get him to hold still and let them dry. “This is the coolest shit, I need to paint my nails more often. It’s like, fancy classy shit for your hands without having to wear jewelry, and I am sold on it. So anyway, Hanta my love, let’s just rip the covers right off. Bakugou has hearing loss.”

There’s a collective pause. Katsuki freezes, his heart shuddering in his chest. He’d thought Kaminari would tell him privately, but oh no, apparently it’s airing-Katsuki’s-dirty-laundry time. He’s coming face to face with his secrets, today. But Sero just hums, propping his chin on his hand.

“Huh. You know, that makes a lot of shit make sense now. That’s a whole lot of something. So, you’re hard of hearing? Is that the right term? I don’t know shit about deafness of any kind.”

Katsuki exhales again. “Uh. Yeah. Since I was 17. I set off a shitton of fireworks and didn’t move away, fucked up my ears and my eyes.”

“Wait, your eyes too?”

“Yeah, I wear contacts. I have glasses for in the house. Really bright light directly in my eyes is the fucking worse.” Katsuki shrugs, putting the cap back on the nail polish. “Hold still, you fucker, if you mess that up before I can put the top coat on I’ll strangle you.”

Kaminari pouts at him but obediently holds his hands still. Sero sticks out his, and Katsuki sighs as he picks up the bottle of black polish again.

“Give me some classy black nails,” Sero says. “I wanna be a fancy bitch.”

“Aw, babe, you're already a fancy bitch.”

“Thanks, Denki.”

Katsuki makes a face, carefully starting on the first nail. “You're two are taking me lying to you for literal fucking years really well and it's freaking me out.”

Sero shrugs. “You weren't lying. You weren't telling us everything, sure, but lying? Nah. We've always known you're kind of secretive and stuff. We figured you'd either trust us eventually or you'd ditch us, so. Looks like we got to the trust bit. Maybe not completely, but it's a good first step, right? We've waited about 5 years for you to trust us enough to talk about yourself, we can wait even longer to prove to you we're worth that trust.”

Katsuki can't bring himself to look up, pressing his lips tight together to ignore the way they wobble. “Thanks,” he chokes out.

“No worries man. Hey, think you could put tape dispensers on these?”

When Katsuki leaves their house, much later than planned, Sero has tape dispenser nail art and Katsuki has no idea what he did to deserve having friends like them. He walks towards the train station, bag on his shoulder and hands shoved in his pockets, and stares up at the evening sky.

“What a world,” he says quietly, and slips away into the night.

Chapter Text

Katsuki wakes up to the smell of curry early Sunday morning, and after a few long minutes of trying to decide if he’s going to ignore it, gives in and slowly drags himself out of bed. The hour is far too early but the curry smells like the combination of eyewatering spices that mean “home” to him. He heads down the hall and drops into a chair at the dining room table, letting his head fall down on it. It's too fucking early for this.

“You look tired,” Deku says from behind him, and a delicious smelling plate is put down by his head. “Studying late last night?”

“Fuck off,” Katsuki mumbles, reluctantly sitting up. Izuku's passable in the kitchen, but he's the only one aside from Inko who makes curry hot enough that Katsuki likes it. It might be the only reason he's not dead. “Why are you even here? And bribing me with curry?”

“Well, you see,” Deku says, sitting down with his own plate and muttering a quick itadakimasu under his breath, “I did something potentially very stupid, and I'm hoping that you'll help me kill a man and burn a body if worst comes to worst.”

Katuski stops with curry halfway to his mouth. Deku shoves some into his own mouth, carefully not making eye contact.

Katsuki puts his chopsticks down, stands up, and heads to the kitchen. He pulls the freezer door open, pulls out the bottle of stupidly expensive vodka he keeps specifically for Deku related incidents, and pours himself a shot. Deku watches him knock it back, grimacing, and Katsuki calmly puts the vodka back in the freezer and returns to the table.

“Okay,” he says, now considerably more able to handle this conversation. “Who are you killing?”

“So you know Todoroki Shouto?”

Katsuki blinks. The vodka is really hitting him fast, holy shit. He should have eaten. “Tall, skinny, bit of a dick? Two tone hair, scar on the left side of his face, favors his right side, Judo training judging by how he moves. Stonefaced as fuuuuck.”

“...Yeah, that's him,” Deku says, and nudges the curry at him. “You're going crosseyed. Eat something, please.”

Katsuki obliges, humming as the spice hits his tongue with the force of a punch. Perfect.

“Right, so, you didn't hear this from me because nothing's officially gone through yet,” Deku says, businesslike, “But Endeavor's buying out the Hawks label from All Might. It's a mess, because no one wants to let such a big player go, but Hawks wants out of All Might, and turns out that Todoroki Shouto is Todoroki Enji's son and reluctant favorite. Turns out Enji's an asshole in the worst kind of way. His other children didn't perform the way he wanted, and so he decided that Shouto was his best bet and he's been trying to groom him to be even better than Toshinori-san since he was a baby. And to top that off, he mentally and emotionally abused his wife so much she snapped and poured boiling water on Shouto's face, so that's how he got the scar. Shouto hates him more than anything and he's being trying to get out from under his thumb for years and practically had a breakdown from anger when he came to the meetings this week.”

Katsuki stares at him, and his eyes fix on the way Deku's hands are shaking.

“What did you do,” he asks, voice flat.

“I got angry.”

Oh gods.

Katsuki shoves more curry in his mouth, taking a very deep breath. “I know. 'Bout Todoroki. I was at All Might the other day and heard you guys. Wasn’t gonna say anything about it but here we are. So what did you do, exactly.”

“Y’know, Kacchan, we’ve had a very interesting set of years together,” Deku says with brittle false cheer. “D’you remember Jack Mancusso and Ashley Martinelli, y’know, from Trenton?”

Katsuki, a confirmed and long standing Buddhist, crosses himself and has a sudden wish for a rosary at the mere mention of those names. “Unfortunately. Please, please don’t tell me you fucked Todoroki on top of his dad’s car.”

“Wh- Kacchan, that was Amy Martinelli, Ashley was the one who slashed her dad’s tires.”

Katsuki drops his utensils. “You slashed Todoroki Enji’s tires?!

“No, I just let all the air out of two tires so he can’t change them to the spare. And I kept getting his coffee just slightly wrong, and apparently he runs hot so I turned up the thermostat in the boardroom so he was constantly sweating and I did also run down to a conbini and buy a single hardboiled egg, which I managed to convince the valet to put underneath the passenger seat so his car will very slowly start to smell, because I told him that he’d insulted Yagi-san and you know how much the valets love Toshinori-san, and you know, insulting an employee of All Might technically counts as an offense against Toshinori-san due to that whole being-owned-by-the-company thing, and really, we should probably work on that in the future. Anyway. Then I ran into him after the meeting, Todoroki Enji I mean, he’s so tall Kacchan, it’s kind of freaky how big he is, I ran into him in the hall and he had some very choice words for me about how Todoroki-kun was going to surpass me, so I walked up to him a la Jack Mancusso to Mr. Martinelli and told him that Todoroki-kun was his child, not an extension of himself, and to back the fuck up if he thinks he can intimidate us into doing what he wants, in not so many words because I’m not actually suicidal,” Deku says, with admirable calm for someone who’s sounding more and more like a pissed off New Jersey housewife. “And then I punched a wall in a storage closet, because if I fuck up this deal because I hate him Toshinori-san will never forgive me, but I can make his life just a little bit shittier and I think Todoroki-kun's figuring it out. So.”

Katsuki calmly gets back up, and retrieves the vodka from the freezer again.

“Kacchan!”

“Mother fuck Deku, why are you like this!?” Katsuki jabs a finger at him, and takes another shot, grimacing. “He’s a fucking bastard and yeah, I want to kill him but you! You aren’t even officially an employee, let alone CE fuckin’ O, you can’t just go making enemies with some of the biggest people in the business! Learn some fucking tact.”

The look Deku gives him is deeply unimpressed.

“Okay, yeah, I get that coming from me that’s questionable advice, but still!”

Deku shrugs. “So, will you help me kill him if we have to?”

“I mean… Yeah? Why the fuck not? Fuckin’ asshole abusive husbands, fuck,” Katsuki mutters. “You know, I've always wondered about dissolving a body in acid.”

“You worry me.”

“You were the one who asked for my help to kill the fucker, bite me.” Katsuki brings the bottle to the table, slamming it in front of Deku. “Na zdorovie, bitch, drink up. I'm not drinking at 7 AM on a Sunday by myself.”

“Don't you have any gin left?”

Katsuki tells him where he can put the gin, and his sense of taste.

Deku shrugs, and takes three shots just to prove a point.

They’re sober and at least capable of pretending to be fully functioning adults by the time they arrive at Deku’s therapy session, and Katsuki enjoys a full hour of blissful peace and silence before Deku reemerges and they make their way back to the train station. Deku mutters the entire way there, just low enough that Katsuki can’t quite hear him, and Katsuki manages to keep a lid on his annoyance all the way to the station. Finally, when they get there, Deku turns to him with a grim expression.

“Mizushima-san says I should take a break from sex.”

Katsuki reflects on every choice in his life that’s lead to him having to talk to Deku about his sex life, and sighs. There’s no escape. This is apparently something that he’s stuck doing now. Ugh. Gross. “Okay, and?”

“He says it’s not healthy! I have a very healthy sex drive! My sex life might not be, y’know, the healthiest or safest or possibly mentally sound, but still!” Deku is honestly pouting. “I’m not about to go celibate. Sex is fun. Sometimes.”

“Bet you couldn’t, anyway.”

It’s a long shot, trying to fire up Deku’s competitive side, and it fails as Deku snaps, “I’m fully aware of that! I can be kinky and have a healthy life! I just… need to find someone who actually knows what they’re doing. And that requires things like dating. Dating is scary!! You have to talk to people and they might judge you! One night stands are easy, why can’t I just have very good sex with awful people who maybe aren’t the best at taking care of me?”

“...And they say I’ve got issues, gods preserve us,” Katsuki mutters, rubbing his forehead. “Why are you like this?”

“Do you really want to open that can of worms?”

Katsuki grimaces. “I absolutely do not.” He sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose against the forming headache. “Deku, I’m going to say this once, and only once. Listening to you talk about sex makes me afraid for your fucking life. You talk about people hurting you when you’re in this… fucking vulnerable state like it’s something that happens to everyone, and it’s just not. I don’t really get sex, it’s… weird and clinical and sticky and just not really my thing as far as I’ve experienced it, but even I know it’s not supposed to be like you treat it. No one can fucking stop you, it’s your life and body and whatever but just… It scares me. Do you understand that?”

He looks up to see Deku staring at him, eyes wide and starting to brim with tears.

“Oh, fuck, why are you crying-”

Deku hurries to wipe the tears away. “Sorry! Sorry, sorry Kacchan, it’s just… You’re always going to be the scariest thing in the world to me, you’re just… you’ve always been the strongest thing ever in my mind. Even when we’re- when we’re better together, and even after all these years, it’s like the nightmares. Nothing was ever scarier than you, so you saying it’s upsetting, it just. Okay.” He takes a deep breath. “Okay. I’ll try to be more careful, at least.”

“Good enough for me,” Katsuki says, looking away. There’s a cherry tree across the street, the blossoms waving in the wind, and he grimaces. Thank the gods, a change of topic. “Cherry blossom season’s almost fucking gone. Feels like it went fast this year.”

“Yeah.” Deku leans against the planter, looking at the trees. “I guess we kind of did hanami last week, didn’t we? At the park.”

“Yeah, kinda,” Katsuki says.

“Didn’t get to go with Okaa-san or my friends this year though,” Deku muses. “I should see if I can get people together. It’s fun with friends.”

And Katsuki feels walls of impending cooking obligation come crashing down around him as he pulls out his phone to check his calendar for the next week, Kirishima's cheerful voice echoing in his head. Monday is his only free day, but fuck it, he has friends. He’s going to spend time with them.

“Kacchan? Why do you look like you’re about to go into battle?”

“We need to stop for groceries.”

oOo

Eijirou’s phone buzzes at exactly 8 o’clock Monday as he’s dragging himself of his house and thinking longing thoughts about investing in a car, and also how much he wants to stay home from work. He pulls it out when he gets in the elevator, slumping against the wall as he yawns and opens the messages that are starting to pop up.

GROUPCHAT: better than u



Bakugou Katsuki has added you to the group!

Bakugou Katsuki: it’s the last time to do it before season ends. Hanami at Roppongi Towers 7pm tonight y/n

Pink: bakugou i love you but i am going to kill you dead
Pink: it’s 8 in the morning you monster
Pink: (oh hi kiri)

Bakugou Katsuki: you’re still texting back. Hanami at Roppongi Towers 7pm tonight y/n

Sero(tonin deficiency): if I say yes will you stop texting me
Sero(tonin deficiency): (Hey bro)

LIGHT ME: !!!! Y!!!!!!!! I’ve got a blanket and a cutesy basket and everything omg
LIGHT ME: GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY
LIGHT ME: Mina you wanna get brunch???
LIGHT ME: Hantaaaaaaaa i want brunch
LIGHT ME: HANTA
LIGHT ME: KIRISHIMA WILL GET BRUNCH WITH ME RIGHT

Sero(tonin deficiency): No can do babe, your nutritionist would kill you
Sero(tonin deficiency): and me for enabling you. Or Kirishima. Don’t fucking take him to brunch.
Sero(tonin deficiency): Bakugou you fucked his sleep schedule, you get to babysit him tomorrow on the Ingenium shoot so he doesn’t get sick

Bakugou Katsuki: fucking bring it, i can take him. Yes or fucking no this isn’t difficult i need to cook if we’re doing this

Pink: i hate you so much right now, i was so comfy and now i’m stupid awake and my pillow is gone.
Pink: Yes. you better make me some fuckin eclairs and a fucking KICKASS bento.

Bakugou Katsuki: Fuck you i do what i want
Bakugou Katsuki: double chocolate?

Pink: ye

LIGHT ME: wait your pillow???? Wat happen

Pink: it went to work.

LIGHT ME: oooooooooh~

Bakugou Katsuki: Shut it, Pikachu

Kirishima Eijirou has changed name to Red Riot
Red Riot: Morning everybody!!!
Red Riot: I’m down for hanami tonight!
Red Riot: we dressing up an being fancy???
Red Riot: its been a minute but i’ve got some formal shit i haven’t worn in like forever
Red Riot: sorry i’m omw to work so i’ll be slow

Sero(tonin deficiency): I Am Afraid

LIGHT ME: OOOOOOH I WANNA WEAR FANCY SHIT
LIGHT ME: HANTA WE’VE GOT SOME HAKAMA AROUND RIGHT

Pink: a bitch could be persuaded to put on a kimono
Pink: but Kiri you’d have to help me with the obi, i can’t do anything more than like, a nagoya obi

Red Riot: yeah sure
Red Riot: but you’re going to have to drop by my apartment to get my clothes, they’re in a box
Red Riot: come get the key from me at lunch or something

Pink: Can do!!

Sero(tonin deficiency): oh boy

LIGHT ME: I’M EXCITED

Sero(tonin deficiency): babe PLEASE go lay back down, or come lay down with me
Sero(tonin deficiency): you’re gonna feel like shit later if you dont

LIGHT ME: fiiiiine.

Bakugou Katsuki: Meet at 6:30 in the lobby y/n

LIGHT ME: why do you text so weird

Bakugou Katsuki: MEET AT 6:30 IN THE LOBBY Y/N

Pink: LMAO
Pink: Y!

Sero(tonin deficiency): Y

LIGHT ME: YYYYYYYY

Red Riot: Y!

Bakugou Katsuki: They can be taught

oOo

At 5 o’clock, Eijirou clocks out and is almost immediately accosted by Mina, who’s standing just outside the studio doors with two stacked boxes of formal wear, practically vibrating in place from excitement. Her makeup is simple for the day, her curls pinned up and utterly adorable.

“Finally! I thought you were going to be in there forever!” Mina links arms with him, leaning up to kiss his cheek and make him laugh. “Fat says we can change in the lockers, he didn’t care!”

“Sounds good.”

They strip down in the lockers once everyone’s gone, both of them long since past any body shyness with each other. Mina helps him with his hair, combing it up and carefully pulling it into a traditional bun and tying it with a long, fluttering black ribbon. Mina has more undergarments for her kimono than he does, and he helps her with the kimono bra and her juban layers before going to quickly switch into his own clothes. It takes far less time for him to dress than her, hakama much faster without an elaborate obi to wrangle. His hakama are black with tiny white waves towards the bottom that melt into darkness at the top, his top a deep red that’s about the same color as his hair. He adjusts everything carefully, making sure it lies flat. Mina opens the box with his haori as he gets everything on, cooing as she looks at his haori-himo set on top. It’s one of his most prized possessions.

“Akaa-san got it made for my Coming of Age day,” he says, pulling on sleek black tabi and fastening them up. “Pretty manly, right?”

“The manliest, woah. It’s gorgeous.”

Eijirou straightens up, taking the brilliant red haori and feeling it settle comfortably on his shoulders. The crests on it are done in proud gold, instead of white, and he smiles at the mirror before taking the haori himo to clip it to the haori to hold it closed. It’s a beautiful, beaded piece, with a large silver circle in the center. Norse runes of protection run around the edges, circling and enclosing the same family crest on his haori. The beads are all Baltic sea amber, polished until they shine, and it gleams against the red of his top.

“Fancy,” Mina whistles, beaming at him. “Alright, my turn!!”

He helps Mina dress, getting her kimono to hang just right and tying her obi in a simple bow shape. He’s surprised that it’s not a furisode, instead a more subdued periwinkle blue houmongi-tsukesage crossover kimono with an appropriate pattern of wisteria, with the obi in a coordinating deep green and her brilliant pink hair pulled back and pinned to give it shape. He helps her into her zori, sliding his own on as well before they stand together and look in the mirror.

“Damn,” Mina says quietly. “We almost look respectable. Almost.”

“The hair kind of kills the effect,” Eijirou agrees.

But they do look… adult. Mature, even, if eccentric. Mina’s striking to start with, tall and curvy, and she looks especially charming with her pink hair and pale blue kimono. The short sleeves and lovely pattern make her look older than she is, a bit more mature. Eijirou, with his neat bun and black and red, looks like he’s ready to take on samurai training but stop by a salon on the way out of town. It’s exactly what he’s always wanted, not having to give up who he is while still retaining his past. The runes on his chest have a new weight to them, and he touches the silver pendent in the middle.

“Damn, we look good though.” Mina smiles, stashing her things in Eijirou’s locker. “C’mon, let’s go meet the boys!”

They meet up with Kaminari and Sero in the lobby. Sero really does look respectable in a black hakama with a black top, his haori a very nice white. Kaminari’s hakama is an eyewatering near neon yellow, his top black and the sleeves already tied up.

“No Bakugou yet?” Mina asks, adjusting her kimono a little and waving at Miruko, who gives them a wave and salute.

“Nah, he was still getting dressed, he had to talk to Aizawa about something before we left.” Kaminari beams at Eijirou. “Oh my god, man, finally, I’ve been dying to hang out with you. Look, you need to come around okay, me ‘n Sero here have a shitton of games we need to play! Drag Bakugou too, he never takes time off-”

“Which is why I can afford to live on my own, asshole,” Bakugou’s voice says from behind them, and Eijirou braces himself as he turns.

And dear god, Bakugou in formalwear does not disappoint. It’s an unusual combination, black hakama with a dusty orange top, his haori deep green. His hair is as wild as ever, and there’s just a touch of red eyeshadow at the corners of his eyes. He’s also carrying two stacked, lacquered bento boxes with beautiful designs, and has the secretly pleased smile on his otherwise expressionless face. His eyes flick to Eijirou’s for just a moment, quietly appreciative, before he looks back at Sero and Kaminari to berate them for something or other.

Eijirou is so very fucked.

Roppongi Hills isn’t too far from them, close enough to walk without trouble. It’s coming onto dusk when they get there, and they make their way to Mori Garden. There’s a small pond, and around it the sakura are lit up in the evening dark with lights. They seem to glow, utterly beautiful, and the garden is quiet even with the passerby and evening shoppers. Kaminari and Eijirou lay out the blanket and they settle down to eat under one of the lit trees.

“Alright, don’t devour this shit, I slaved over it for you and you're all going to fucking savor it,” Bakugou growls as he gets the bentos out. “Temari sushi, inari sushi, onigiri, chirashi sushi in this one. Mina’s fucking eclairs, madeleines, cookies, and mochi in this one- No mochi for you, Pikachu, I’ve seen your fucking food restriction list.”

“Doctors are mean,” Kaminari says mournfully, but takes one of the onigiri as

“You really like chirashi sushi, huh?” Eijirou says as he takes one of the little temari balls. They’re absolutely adorable, covered in various toppings. The one he has appears to be red bream, and he pops it into his mouth. It’s as delicious as it looks, and he hums happily as he snags another one, this one salmon.

Bakugou shrugs, looking pleased with himself. “It’s easy to make but hard to make look good. I like the challenge. Oi, Tape-deck! Get your fingers out of there, were you raised in a fucking barn? We have chopsticks for a reason!”

The others laugh as Sero protests, Bakugou snapping at him and shoving food at him with the appropriate chopsticks. He wants to reach out. He wants to hold Bakugou’s hands, wants to feed him the little temari balls to watch his face go pink and see what he looks like flustered. He wants to walk hand in hand, or arm in arm, wants to run kisses all over his cheeks, wants to shout from the rooftops that this belongs to him. That he has such a beautiful person who’s prickly as a cactus and yet so utterly, carefully sweet deep down, who’s trying despite all his fears and so desperately in need of love and attention. Eijirou just wants to hold him.

“Um… Stay put,” Eijirou says, getting up and examining the location and set up for the best angles. He needs something, anything to get him to step away from Bakugou before he gives in and kisses him. “I want to get pictures for Okaa-san!”

“Oh, pictures,” Kaminari says brightly. “That, we can definitely do. We do pictures professionally, even.”

Mina laughs, adjusting a little. “Get some good ones!”

“Who do you think I am?” Eijirou laughs, opening up the manual mode on his phone camera and flicking through the settings until he’s pleased. “Ah, Bakugou, can you angle the bento box a little more? Thanks! Kaminari, a littttle bit closer to Sero- yes! Thank you.”

It’s a very nice set of pictures, he must admit. Working with four professionals also doesn’t hurt. They’re a beautiful set of people, the lights from the cherry blossoms are perfect, and the bentos are gorgeous. Pleased, he sends the best of the lot off to Okaa-san, and is about to go sit down when one of the passerby taps his shoulder carefully. He turns to see a group of three people, all looking very curious and definitely foreign.

“Um, picture too?” A small blonde girl says in a very bad accent, nodding at them. “You picture?”

Eijirou blinks, surprised, but Bakguou pipes up something in English and the girl beams in relief, nodding to him.

“She’s asking if you want her to take a picture with you in it,” Bakugou translates, and Eijirou beams, nodding. Her eyes widen at the sight of his teeth, and she grins back at him, opening her own mouth to show him that two of her own teeth are silver.

“Similar,” she says, and he grins, nodding back and showing her how to work the camera before hurrying over to the blanket and sitting back down. The girl hums a little, taking a few from different angles before approaching them and bowing as she hands him back his phone. Eijirou bows back, charmed, and Bakugou says something that has her laughing, quickly replying to him in rapid English.

“She says your teeth are cool,” Bakugou translates as Kaminari watches in interest. He spouts off a burst of English again, his accent drawled and hard to understand, and the girl gestures at her two friends, bowing again. They all bow back automatically, and she waves at them as she goes back to her friends and the trio walks away.

“Let’s see, let’s see,” Kaminari demands, “show us, bro.”

The girl had taken some truly excellent photos, and Eijirou’s are nothing to snort at either. Sero and Mina ooh over them as Kaminari attempts to steal mochi from Bakugou, inciting a shouting match, and by the time they finish up dinner Eijirou’s laughed harder than he has in ages and feels more like himself. He catches Bakugou stealing looks at him here and there, ducking his head to hide his blush as he does.

They clean up and head out, splitting with Kaminari and Sero who have to catch their train in to Setagaya, and start the meandering half-hour walk to their respective homes. Eijirou and Bakugou escort Mina to her building, waving her off as she heads inside with the bento boxes to wash as payment for cooking. After she’s through the doors and into the elevator Eijirou takes Bakugou’s arm and together they start walking down the street.

It’s a pleasant evening, not too hot or too cold with the haori on, and Eijirou lets the silence linger between them for a while before saying quietly, “I can’t hide forever.”

Bakugou lets out a huff of a sigh. “I know. Been thinking about that.”

“We need to tell them sooner than later. I don’t like hiding you. I’ll do it, I mean, because you’ve asked and you have to be comfortable too. But it’s… it’s painful for me to not tell. To feel like our friends can’t be trusted to know that we’re… something.” Eijirou bites his lip. “I just really wanted to reach out and hold your hand, or brush your hair back, or stick my head on your lap.”

Bakugou leans against him a little, his face gone somber. They wait at a crosswalk, the night lit with the neon of Roppongi. The lights reflect on the buildings, turning everything brilliant colors and lighting the darkness.

“Soon,” he says, as they watch the signs. “I’m not ready yet, but… soon. Family first. Then those three.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” The light changes, and they walk across the street. Eijirou and Mina live in the same neighborhood, and it’s not too far between their buildings. Eijirou lets his fingers slide down to tangle with Bakugou’s, loose enough he can let go without pressure. But Bakugou just tightens his grip, pressing them palm to palm, and Eijirou feels his cheeks heat a little with the intimacy of it.

Eijirou doesn’t ask, but Bakugou doesn’t let go when they get to his building. They go up together, hand in hand, and when Eijirou unlocks the door, it’s one handed.

They undress in silence, only the light in the kitchen on. Bakugou helps him out of his haori, gentle with the haori hiko and folding the fabric with gentle care. The hakama and kimono follow until they’re both nearly bare, bathed in only the watered down light from outside and a kitchen bulb that’s dim at best.

Bakugou’s eyes gleam in the dark, the stillness belying the slow rise and fall of his chest. Eijirou steps in closer, fingers trailing up his skin, Bakugou’s hands sliding up his chest to rest on his jaw, thumbs rubbing absent circles over his cheeks. His eyes seem fixed to Eijirou’s face, memorizing every dot and line there.

“Katsuki,” he says faintly, barely a breath of air, and Katsuki’s eyes spark with silent delight.

“Eijirou,” he echoes back, just as soft, and Eijirou’s hands find his hips, pulling him in for a kiss. It’s slow and heated, savoring touch and weight, and Katsuki’s sturdy hands hold him steady. Eijirou wonders, vaguely, if his hands feel as reassuring, anywhere near as sure.

Katsuki steps back, tugging him to the bed, and together they fall there in a tangle of limbs. Eijirou runs his hands down Katsuki’s sides, marveling at the fine skin and solid planes of muscle, and shivers as he feels sharp nails run over his back. He bends his head, pressing kisses over Katsuki’s chest and collarbone, mindful of his teeth but letting the kisses linger. He wants to possess, to leave something, anything to say that this was his person, that Katsuki belonged with him.

But not yet.

He presses his forehead over Katsuki’s heart, closing his eyes. Katsuki’s hands find his hair, plucking it free of its bun, the red strands falling down and resting on his neck.

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispers against Katsuki’s chest, and presses one more kiss to his chest before looking up.

Katsuki’s eyes shine in what little light remains in the darkness, all the walls down, and Eijirou leans up to kiss him once more. Katsuki’s hands trace his shoulders, feeling him out, and Eijirou lets his hands tighten on Katsuki’s ribs.

“I want to tell the whole damn world about you, and keep you all to myself,” Katsuki says, his voice a papery whisper before he drags Eijirou in close once more.

There will be time enough to worry about the rest of the world tomorrow. For now, as Katsuki’s arms wrap around him, pressed chest to chest and heart beating in the safety of the dark, it’s more than enough to simply be.

Chapter Text

After the hanami, things change. It’s subtle, but they definitely change.

They both become busy in a flash. Eijirou’s work amps up as everyone works on different things for the Spring/Summer line and the couture becomes increasingly more complicated. Bakugou’s schooling gets more intense as the course-load increases, complete with required extracurricular outtings with the international students, which Eijirou gets incensed, annoyed texts about near constantly while Bakugou’s stuck touring different parts of Tokyo, and Bakugou’s own work increases dramatically when he’s not working on school things. Kaminari and Sero fly out to London, Mina heads to Mexico City, and Eijirou’s life becomes a whirlwind of fabric, coffee, dyes, and meetings.

And somehow, two weeks after their first proper date, Eijirou manages to get them to a cooking class. They make ice cream together in Shibuya, Eijirou laughing as Bakugou snaps and snarls at dollops on his nose, and eat together on the steps of the building with their knees knocking together.

Next, Bakugou takes him to a museum with a new display dedicated to bosozoku fashion and out for steak after, and they walk along a lazy river stealing kisses here and there. Then Eijirou surprises him at the university one late evening, bringing him conbini food and energy drinks to eat outside of his lab. Bakugou looks utterly charming in his coat and sensible shoes, shooing him away to finish some sort of paperwork on the experiment and kissing him as he goes.

So it goes. The time whizzes past, Eijirou falling into a routine at work and Bakugou burying himself in Chemistry while they catch moments here and there to spend together. Their friends fly back. Eijirou goes out on the weekends to clubs, dances with Mina and Tetsutetsu and never takes anyone home, but doesn’t miss how sometimes he’s the one dropped off first. A small bundle of Bakugou’s things migrate to his apartment. Space is formed in a drawer.

Through it all, Bakugou works.

And through all of that, Eijirou gets to work with him.

Or rather, Eijirou is roped into working with him.

“So,” Eijirou says as he hands coffee to Togata Mirio, “is there like a memo going around that I wanted extra work? Because I’m swamped with Fatgum and people keep calling me to come help with shoots and fittings and stuff. This is the third time this month. I’m happy to help, but what’s going on?”

“Ooh, latte, thank you. Dunno what you mean,” Mirio says blithely, and signs a set of forms someone shoves at him. Nighteye Studios is a riot of movement in sleek, gleaming colors. It’s focus is suits and menswear, and expensive menswear at that. Mirio, decked out in deliciously fine linen and cotton in a mouthwatering burgundy, grins at him as the hoard of people taking measurements for the new fall line runway models moves around them like fish in a stream. “Maybe you’re a good luck charm.”

“Sir doesn’t believe in luck.”

“Mmm, you’ve got me there!”

Sir himself is across the room, bent over a frankly enormous stack of cashmere and examining it as the chaos rolls around him. Eijirou’s only met him once, and is keen on not having to repeat the experience. Sir, no other name given, is a tall, spindly man who moves like a very deliberate spider and has enormously perceptive eyes. He is also, according to elevator gossip with Nemuri-san, one hell of a Dom.

Eijirou can’t hardly look at the man without blushing, these days.

Across the room, there’s a faint crash and an irate bark of annoyance. Mirio takes a fortifying drink.

“Is this about Bakugou, Mirio-senpai?” Eijirou says dryly. He feels a short stab of annoyance at the idea. “Because I’m not his handler.”

Mirio’s strange, dark eyes flick to him, smile dropping for once. It’s unsettling. “Of course you’re not. People don’t need to be handled. He’s not an animal, he’s a grown adult. But he’s comfortable with you in ways he never is with anyone else, because you don’t jump when he loses his temper. You don’t handle him, you comfort him. He’s skittish and I can’t do anything about it, and neither can anyone else except maybe a good therapist and time itself. You help, whether anyone else is willing to actually say it or not.”

Eijirou goes pink with embarrassment, but Mirio just smiles at him.

“Kirishima-kun, he likes you. We like him, too, and we like him even better when he feels comfortable with us. You go a long way to making that possible. So, if you would?”

Still pink, Eijirou makes his way to where Bakugou’s helping pick up a basket of supplies that’s fallen, red with frustration and embarrassment. A skittish tailor is helping, and Kirishima quickly takes over for her, waving her away over Bakugou’s head.

“Didn’t fucking see her,” Bakugou mutters. “Startled me.”

“That's okay.”

Bakugou growls, holding his head and tugging his hair for a second before pulling himself back together. He looks like he's fraying at the edges, careful concealer hiding the darkness under his eyes. He looks exhausted even without it and Eijirou gently urges him to another part of the room.

“You want to stay at mine tonight?” He asks quietly, close enough for Bakugou to hear him as he pulls out a tape measure and gets started on his measurements.

“Yeah,” Bakugou mutters. “Been sleeping like shit this week, might help.”

“Okay.”

Eijirou carefully measures him out, getting everything noted down and helping him calm down. By the end of it Bakugou’s shoulders are slumped and he looks thoroughly dejected and tired. Eijirou gently squeezes his arm, jolting when Mirio practically materializes next to them.

“Hey! Everything okay over here?” His smile is in place but there’s genuine concern as he looks at Bakugou.

“Fucking peachy,” Bakugou mumbles, pulling his shirt on. “I didn’t mean to knock the basket over, I just- I didn’t see her.” He swallows hard, and Eijirou’s eyes widen a little as he mutters out, “Sorry about that.”

Mirio seems taken aback, but claps him on the shoulder anyway. “Hey, no long-term harm done! You’re good! Maybe don’t yell at my tailors though, or I will make your life hell. The only person who gets to yell around here is the people in charge, and they don’t do that.”

“That’s fair.” Bakugou shrugs his hand off, uncomfortable, but Mirio doesn’t seem to mind. “Where is she?”

Mirio points her out, and Bakugou takes a deep breath before stalking over to her to apparently apologize.

“Well,” Mirio says, watching him go. “That’s new. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him calm down that fast from a scare, or go apologize for much of anything.”

Eijirou watches Bakugou gingerly tap the tailor’s shoulder. “He’s a good person, he’s just really, really bad at socializing. He’s just been so isolated for a long time, even if he did it on purpose, it’s… it’s hard for him to adjust back. But he’s working on it. He’s not cruel, he’s just awkward and on edge since he doesn’t like people sneaking up on him.”

He goes pink when he sees Mirio’s smile. Mirio looks very pleased with himself.

“What?” Eijirou asks.

“Oh, nothing. Just good to see he has someone in his corner. Keep it up, kid!” Mirio slaps him on the back, laughing, and Eijirou sighs.

They get back to Eijirou’s apartment at a good time after work, the door closing hard behind Katsuki as they both sigh with relief at being home. Eijirou kicks off his shoes, walking in and immediately face-planting on the couch.

“Any strong feelings about dinner?” Katsuki asks.

“Surprise me, babe,” Eijirou tells the couch cushions, making Katsuki snicker before he starts banging around in the kitchen. He whistles tunelessly as he does, a racket of sound that makes Eijirou smile with Katsuki's improved mood. It's good to be home.

Eijirou’s phone buzzes, an incoming call. He reluctantly fishes it out of his pocket, pulling it up to his face to look at it.

Call from Akaa-san, the phone informs him.

He grimaces, accepting the call.

“Hello.”

Hey, little man. How’s things?” Her voice sounds a bit tight and stilted, but it's familiar all the same.

Eijirou reluctantly sits up, bracing himself. “Good enough. How’s the shop?”

Doing well, we just got another request for a big gate out in the countryside. It’ll be quite the project. Are you coming back for Kiyoko's birthday?”

Eijirou bites back a retort. “Of course. I'll be there. I might be a little late depending on when I get out of work, but Fat will probably let me go earlier to get the train.”

She’s excited to see you. Oh, she showed me the picture from your hanami the other night! You looked very good.

“Thanks.” Eijirou relaxes a little, watching as Katsuki bangs around the kitchen and starts the stove. “It’s been a while since I wore hakama, I thought it was about time. Mina’s got the pink hair now, did Okaa-san tell you? That’s her in the green.”

I thought it was! She’s grown up nicely. Tell her hi for me, okay? Is she doing well? Did she wind up going to school?

“Mina’s fine, she’s doing very well,” Eijirou says, frowning. “And school’s not the end all be all, you know. She’s making better money than I am, even. It’s not a bad thing to be a model, she’s doing well at it-”

There’s a sharp sigh on the other end of the phone. “Little man, don’t put words in my mouth, you know I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a model. She was just so sad about not going to university, when I last really saw her. I was only wondering.

Oh boy, they’re falling into familiar patterns. This could go sideways quickly. “Sorry.”

It’s nothing. Are you eating well? Do you need me to send you money?

“Woops, look at the time,” Eijirou says loudly. “I’ve got dinner on the stove Akaa-san, and I don’t need money. I should go finish this up, I have someone over anyway and he’s probably getting bored, I should go.”

You have someone over-” There’s a note of curiosity and alarm there, and Eijirou is not up to this discussion.

“Everything’s fine, I’ll see you in two weeks,” Eijirou says quickly. “Bye!”

Another gusty sigh. “Goodbye, Eijirou. I love you.”

“Love you too.” He hangs up just as Katsuki finishes what little prep was needed, and tosses his phone on the coffee table before glaring up at the ceiling.

“Fuck,” he mutters, and Katsuki walks around the counter with a raised eyebrow.

“Who pissed in your soup?”

“I'm just frustrated,” Eijirou says. “Akaa-san called and just. Ugh. Things are kind of rocky with her right now.”

Eijirou sighs, flopping on the couch. Katsuki trails after him, waiting until Eijirou has his legs up before laying down on top of him and shoving his head under Eijirou's chin.

“Cuddly boy,” Eijirou laughs, and Katsuki growls at him until Eijirou wraps his arm around him. The laughter fades, and Eijirou stares up at the ceiling, running absent fingers up and down Katsuki’s back.

“Tell me about her,” Katsuki says, quiet but firm.

“Akaa-san grew up different,” Eijirou starts, voice quiet. “She's Japanese-Swedish, grew up mostly in Sweden. Her dad's Japanese, he taught her how to smith. She came back to Japan to get a degree in Harp performance from Kobe and set up a blacksmith shop in Chiba. And then she got invited to be part of the Chiba Symphony Orchestra. That's how she met Okaa-san, Okaa-san was taking photos for the symphony and honestly, she’s got a thing for big burly types.”

Katsuki snorts. “Sounds like someone else I know.”

“Wow, rude,” Eijirou says dryly, and giggles when Katsuki digs his fingers in his sides. “Anyway. Akaa-san's always known exactly who she is. She's a big, strong butch lesbian who works in iron and who plays the harp with the symphony, with three kids and a beautiful wife, and she's just solid as a rock. I'm not like that. My whole life, I was struggling with the idea of what a man was, finding an identity and trying to figure out how to put that in action. I didn’t have any men to look up to, really, but I always idolized Crimson Riot’s lead designer, which. That’s a whole other story. It scares me, being dependent on people. After watching Okaa-san deal with a really shitty relationship and dependent on an awful person I wanted to be on my own as fast as possible. I wanted to be a man’s man, you know? Self-sufficient.”

Katsuki nods, tracing his fingers in firm patterns along Eijirou’s sides. “I can get that. Still not sure what’s stupid yet.”

“Yeah, well, this is the part you’re going to think is really stupid.” Eijirou sighs. “After I graduated and I got the Fatgum internship, I started looking for a place in Tokyo. I went to school on scholarship, and I worked my ass off to save up money for the future. I did really well! I was really proud of myself. I found a place I really liked out in Ikebukuro, real cheap and a perfect starter… and then Akaa-san told me that she’d found me a place and would be paying the rent. One year was already fully paid. Non-refundable.”

Katsuki’s fingers stop. “She has that kind of money?”

“Apparently.” Eijirou’s arms tighten around Katsuki. “We had a really bad fight about it. I’m not you, y’know, but I’ve still got a bit of a temper and I was mad she went behind my back, especially for something so big. I said some things I shouldn’t have, and she said some things too. I take after her like that. I complained to Okaa-san, suggested just subletting it, but Okaa-san told me to accept it as a gift and take it so. Here I am. I'm stuck with the apartment. And it's stupid, it's really stupid, but it feels like a huge slap in the face to come back every day knowing that I'm not really on my own, that this money could be going to save for the twins going to college. So I've been saving my rent every month to make them a college fund. But my indepence is really important to me, and it's… it's really frustrating to not really be in control of this. The lease is for 2 years, but the second it's up I'm moving.”

Silence falls, Katsuki's head heavy on his chest. Eijirou watches the ceiling.

“I mean, it is stupid, but not in a bad way,” Katsuki says at last. “And it's not like I can say shit about it. It's your life, or whatever, I can't demand you feel better about something. And I get it. Wanting to be independent. When I turned 18 I had nothing but hand-me-down clothes and spite, and spite's not a very filling dinner. Giving in and getting help felt shameful. I grew up well off, I didn't know what the fuck to do until Auntie started teaching me.”

Eijirou hums. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Katsuki huffs, shifting a little. “So, you’ve been fighting about this for a while?”

“Not really. We’ve just kind of been stiff with each other,” Eijirou says, sighing. “Really, really stiff. Akari, my little sister, she’s been trying to have us make up for a while, but we just haven’t quite made it there yet.” He runs his fingers over Katsuki’s back, sighing.

“Akari’s the peacekeeper, then?” Katsuki asks, his voice getting a bit drowsy.

“Yeah. She’s a lot like me, actually. She likes fashion, but she wants to go into the merchandising part. Kazuhiro’s big into sports, he plays baseball like I did. He’s much better than I ever was though, he’s already getting scouts who want to look at him. He’s really shy, really quiet. He doesn’t talk much.”

Katsuki’s breathing is getting slower, and Eijirou runs his fingers through his hair. The last sunlight of the day is filtering down through the living room window, spilling across their bodies. Eijirou's heart squeezes.

“You’re really beautiful,” he says quietly, and Katsuki makes a faint noise. “I mean it. I just look at you, and you’re so… you’re so much, all the time. I don’t know how I got this lucky.”

“Pretty fuckin sure that I'm the lucky one,” Katsuki mumbles, and pushes himself up to kiss Eijirou.

Later, lying in bed and listening to Katsuki's soft, steady breathing, Eijirou opens his phone calendar. Okaa-san’s birthday is marked in pink, with several exclamation marks, and he bites his lip. He’s brought people home before. Several people, even. Lots of boyfriends, Tetsutetsu, Mina, friends in general… but the boyfriends had never gone over well with his family. He didn’t blame them for not liking them, either, since most of them had honestly been pretty awful. The worse things had gotten, the less he brought them home, until finally he just stopped all together.

But he wants to bring Katsuki back. He wants him to meet the twins, and Akaa-san, and meet Okaa-san properly. It’s not like Katsuki would even remember her, with as many photoshoots as he’s done over the years.

Locking his phone and setting it on the bedside table, he rolls over to look at his bed partner.

“You complicate my life in all the best ways,” he whispers, and falls asleep with the sense-memory of the shinkansen rushing along filling his head, Katsuki’s fingers tangled in his.

oOo

Ashido Mina likes her life simple, with minimal problems and distractions, which is making coming down from what’s truly been an excellent orgasm to see Tetsutetsu looking distracted a bit annoying.

“What's the problem?” Mina asks, flopping back on to the bed. “You've got thinking face on, and while that's fine I want you focused on me right now.”

“Do you think Bakugou and Kiri are dating?” Tetsu says bluntly, and Mina makes a face at him before flicking his side.

“You were thinking about them while fucking me? Something you wanna tell me about Kiri-kun, Tetsu?”

Tetsutetsu turns a stunning shade of red. “I can multitask! I just haven't seen him as much and he's been really secretive and distracted lately! It's weird! And he spends like, a lot of time with Bakugou these days. I'm getting a little jealous, I never get to see my bro anymore. I miss him, y'know?”

Mina sighs. “Yeah, I know what you mean. But if he is dating Bakugou, he doesn't have to tell us. I mean. We haven't told him about us.”

“But we aren't dating. We're just having really, really good sex.”

“I mean. That's true. But I bet he'd probably want to know.” Mina makes a face, rolling onto her back to look up at the ceiling. She’s sticky and sweaty and has given up entirely on the afterglow. “We’ve got no room to judge if they’re out there sneaking around like the overdramatic gays they are. Actually, wait, I’m not sure Bakugou is even gay. Or like. Has sex at all. I’ve met more sexually inclined lampshades.”

“What kind of home furnishing stores are you going to?”

Mina thumps him with a pillow, making Tetsutetsu laugh, and hates it a little when her heart flutters. He has a really, really nice laugh, and big arms, and a smile like the sun. “I’d tell you to stop being cute, but that’s impossible.”

Tetsutetsu goes bright red, and Mina leans over to kiss him. He’s good at it, and she sighs a little against his lips.

“If they are dating,” she says when she pulls back, “we’re just going to have to wait to find out. They deserve their privacy while they figure it out, even if it is frustrating. I wanna know! I really wanna know. But Bakugou’s… himself, and Kiri’s too nice to push him out like that. I don’t really know what happened to him, in the past I mean, Bakugou isn’t very chatty, but he’s… he’s got his issues. He doesn’t trust easily. I mean he only just barely actually TOLD me about his hearing, even though I’ve known for ages.”

“You’ve got a lot more patience than me,” Tetsutetsu says sincerely, and Mina kisses him again.

“Stop being so sweet.”

Later, she thumbs over to Kirishima’s contact on her phone, staring at it while Tetsutetsu snores against her side. She lets it linger on the messages there, guilt simmering in her belly before she locks the phone again and rolls over to curl up against Tetsutetsu’s solid body. There’s no use feeling bad about it. Everyone has their secrets to keep.

And eventually, secrets to tell.

oOo

Izuku doesn't like getting calls from Kacchan.

It's fine, generally. There’s usually nothing really the matter, Kacchan just needs to chew him out or ask him to pick something up or sometimes bitch at him for 20 minutes straight before hanging up without even letting him get a word in edgewise, but his heart plummets with fear every time. After the accident, he’s always been afraid. He never, ever misses a call, no matter what's happening, and that includes being in the middle of dinner in his apartment with a very handsome bosozoku with a thing for his thighs.

“Sorry,” he says as his phone lights up with music, and the bosozoku waves him off without concern, lighting a cigarette before grabbing their plates to take to the kitchen. He pulls up the call.

“Hi, Kacchan, what's up?” There's a growl down the line, frustration obvious. Izuku rolls his eyes, long since used to this. “What is it?”

There's a very awkward pause before Kacchan grinds out, “You're getting tested next week, right? You’re due?”

“Uh. Yeah, actually, I'm on time for it.” And then a lifetime of Bakugou Linguistics catches up. “D'you want to come with?”

“Do I need an appointment?”

Izuku's eyebrows shoot up and he puts his fork down, frowning. This is… weird. “No, I’ll call and ask if they'll do me a favor and fit you in with me. I’m in there often enough I know everybody, it shouldn’t be a problem. I'll send you information on the process. It's not hard.”

“Fucking peachy. Bye.”

Kacchan hangs up abruptly, and Izuku snorts as he puts his phone away. Strange.

“Friend of yours?” Daisuke drawls as he sits back down at the table, inclining his cigarette towards him. He’s a beautiful man, with long fingers and clever dark eyes, his mouth almost permanently in a smile. They’ve known each other for about two years now, after hitting it off in a nightclub in Shinjuku. He’s rough around the edges but kind in his own way, and they catch up when Izuku has time and an inclination to the dangerous.

“Something like that.” Izuku takes it, taking a long drag. It's a bad habit, one he only indulges after a particularly bad day. And today has been a very bad day. “He likes making my life complicated.”

“You like complicated,” Daisuke says, and Izuku blows smoke in his face.

“Don’t call me out like this,” he says dryly, and Daisuke laughs. Izuku takes another drag, hating himself a little for it, and lets the smoke linger in the air. “Done with dinner, then?”

“I could be convinced to have dessert.”

Izuku grins, putting out the cigarette in the little ashtray he keeps on the table, and stands up. All it takes is the crook of his finger, and Daisuke follows.

Daisuke is rough but not cruel, which Izuku takes as a personal win, and he’s in a very cheerful mood as he goes to the office the next day. He covers the hickeys with concealer, does his job well, and at lunch he finds himself humming as he watches a burrito (homemade, tragically, Japan needs to import more bad attempts at Mexican food in his opinion) circle around in the microwave.

Fingers touch his neck, a voice much too close asking, “Who did this to you?”

Izuku moves without thinking, years of training kicking in and blurring his mind as it shrieks an internal alarm. He catches the hand and arm, strength on overdrive as he spins it's owner forward and slams them face down against the break room table.

There's a faint wheeze as his fingers dig into dual color hair.

He's just bent Todoroki Shouto over a table, pinning his arms down hard and his hand on the back of his neck, fingers tangling in his hair. Their position would be, to say the least, extremely compromising if anyone were to walk in.

“Oh my god,” he gasps, immediately letting go. “I-I-I am so sorry.”

Todoroki wheezes again. “I deserved that.” He straightens up slowly, rubbing his wrist. “You’re very fast.”

“Thanks, it’s the trauma,” Izuku says before he can stop himself, mouth running on autopilot. “Oh, gods, pretend I didn’t say that, oh, that’s embarrassing, I am so sorry, are you okay? Please don’t sue me I have no money and Okaa-san would die of shame, seriously, is your wrist alright? Are you hurt anywhere?”

Todoroki blinks at him, dual colored eyes bright. “I’m unhurt.” He brushes himself off before looking back at Izuku, eyes narrowing a little. “Are you?”

Izuku’s brain stumbles at the heat in his gaze. “Uh.”

“You have bruises. I was concerned.”

Oh, gods. Izuku clamps a hand to his neck, mortified. “Oh no, I’m so sorry, the concealer must have worn off. Oh, I’m so embarrassed…”

Todoroki cocks his head slightly. “Ah. Good bruises, then? Not bad ones. You weren’t hurt?”

This conversation is getting very, very odd. Izuku’s relatively certain he’s turned about 6 different shades of red since it started, and he must be approaching fire-engine territory. “I’m, uh. No. No, I wasn’t hurt. He was very nice! Oh my god.”

“Ah. Good.” Todoroki relaxes a little. His eyes are still sharp though, and as the microwave ‘ding!’ goes off, he says casually, “I’d be happy to maim for you though. If someone did hurt you. You have only to ask.”

Izuku’s jaw drops. He stands in shocked silence as Todoroki retrieves his food from the fridge, staring at him in complete bafflement as he gathers disposable chopsticks from the slew of things available for them on the break room counter. The only sign that Todoroki is even slightly uncomfortable by this is a tiny amount of red on the tips of his ears. Izuku finally manages to stop gaping and clears his throat as Todoroki walks to the door.

“Um,” Izuku says before he can think better of it, “can I take you to dinner sometime? I mean. Not as a date. I mean, it could be, dinner is kind of a dating thing, I’m rambling again. But just as an apology? And maybe so we can get to know each other better?”

Todoroki gives him a long look, and a less than subtle once over. “I wouldn’t mind, date or not.”

“O-oh.”

“I’ll text you.”

“Okay,” Izuku says weakly, leaning against the counter, and Todoroki gives him the smallest flash of a smile before leaving the room. “Fuuuuuuuuck.”

His food needs to be reheated by the time he gets it together.

oOo

Izuku meets up with Kacchan a few days later at the free clinic he goes to, one hidden away in a tiny back alley of Shinjuku just out of the way of Ni-chome. It’s a small place, but very clean, and serene. Izuku chats with the nurses on staff, who all know him quite well at this point, arranges for Kacchan to come in with him as well, and is escorted back without a hassle. They’re put in a small exam room, and Katsuki immediately goes to sit on a chair in the corner. Izuku joins him on the other one, absently noticing the pile of magazines on a little table. Katsuki huffs, crossing his arms and glaring at the room at large.

Izuku glances over at him. Kacchan hates doctors, has since he was small, and it's only been exacerbated by the time he spent in the hospital after the accident. He sits stiff in his chair, all spines and bad temper, but Izuku knows the fear coiling underneath his scowl.

“Just fucking ask me why,” Kacchan finally mutters.

“Nope,” Izuku says, surprising himself. “You want to tell me, you can. Because it's one thing when it's me, because to me sex doesn't mean anything anymore aside from a means to an end. It doesn’t matter that I’m in here all the time, but you? It means something. So. You want to tell me, you think I'm worth trusting with this, with the reason you're here, you can. But I'm not going to ask. This is your business, I’m just along for the ride.”

Kacchan stares at him for a long moment before sighing like a gust of bad tempered wind. “Bastard.”

“You're welcome.” Izuku picks up a magazine, contemplating the woman laughing on the cover.

“...you ever had any scares?”

That. Oh hell.

Izuku doesn't look up. “A few. The first one was when I was 19. It's the reason I get tested so often. He was HIV positive but with a really low viral load and the condom broke, we both freaked out. I think he was even more scared than I was. It came back negative but it really rattled both of us. He was on exchange so we didn't get much time together but… he was nice. He was really nice. Sometimes I think I might have missed out on a really good relationship, but I was really young and stupid and couldn't see how good I had it. It was before I got to being like… like this. You know.” Izuku feels his mouth twist as he stares at the magazine. “... I really wanted to introduce him to Toshinori-san. I think I loved him, probably.”

He can't bear to look up and see Kacchan's face.

“So. Yeah. I've had a scare or two. I'm careful but. You know. Life happens.” He flips the pages without seeing them.

“I've. I've never.” Kacchan coughs awkwardly. “This, I mean. Never been.”

“It's not too bad. It's not fun, but it's not bad.” Izuku gives up looking at the magazine, putting it back down beside him. It’s strange, sitting in the room with someone, but he finds he doesn’t hate it. Kacchan, as ever, is scarier than anything else in his head.

Kacchan drums his fingers on his leg, shifting impatiently before biting out, “I think I’m fine. But what if I’m not? Can’t live with not knowing. It’s been two years, but I don’t- Ugh.” He stands up, pacing around the small room, and Izuku waits patiently for him to make a couple rounds before he flops back down, arms crossed over his chest. “This is is fucking stupid.”

“No, fucking smart,” Izuku corrects dryly, and Kacchan very maturely sticks his tongue out at him. “Wow, Kacchan. So adult.”

“Fuck you.”

“My standards aren't quite that low yet.”

Thankfully the doctor arrives just as Kacchan goes for the throat.

Testing is about the same as always. He goes first, lets the doctor ask her questions and chats casually with her as she takes his blood from a finger prick and other samples. Kacchan can’t quite seem to hold still, shifting and looking away at times and just generally being a skittish mess, but by the time Izuku ducks out for the urine sample he seems less afraid of everything. The doctor asks her questions while Izuku’s gone, and Izuku gets back just in time to calm Kacchan down about the finger prick. Bloodwork is his least favorite, and he grips Izuku’s hand with crushing force while its done. He’s not very keen on the doctor being near his face for a cheek swab either. Izuku distracts him with stories about Yamada-san trying to convince Uraraka to try red peppers for the first time and her uncertainty about it all.

And then, thank fuck, all that’s left is the urine sample and Kacchan ducks out of the room.

Izuku sighs in relief, slumping back in his chair. The doctor raises an eyebrow at him.

“Bit of a handful, isn’t he?”

“He’s got some bad memories with hospitals,” Izuku apologizes. “Sorry about double booking on you, but I really don’t know if he would have come otherwise.”

She snorts, waving her hand dismissively. “You’re in here enough we ought to just assign you your own room, I’m not worried about it. And don’t think I’m not glad to see you in here, because you worry me, kiddo.”

Izuku winces. “Would it help if I said I’m in therapy and I’m at least trying to be better?”

“Yes, actually.” His doctor sighs, filling out some paperwork. “Far be it from me to tell you what you should or should not do with your body, but you’ve come in here in bad shape a few times and if I can keep from seeing you in such a state again I’ll be delighted. Bakugou-san is your… adoptive sibling?”

“That’s probably the closest word for us,” Izuku agrees. “Not quite the right term but it’s the best we’ve got. It’s a long story.”

“Fair enough. They should have your HIV results in about five minutes, and then it’s the usual waiting period for the rest.” She snaps the files closed as Kacchan comes back in and practically dives into the corner chair with his hackles up.

They’re released after that, checking out at the front desk. Kacchan practically bolts from the office, Izuku following at a slower pace.

Kacchan shoves his hands in his pockets as they start along the street, looking much younger than he is. “Now what?”

“Now,” Izuku says, “we wait 2 to 3 business days to hear back, and go about our lives. And life will be boring and you’ll still live in absolute fear for a minute there when they call you until it turns out everything’s fine. And if you’re me, today you’ll go home and have several glasses of wine and hate yourself a little and then get over it.”

The last part comes out more bitter than he intends.

He sighs, rubbing his forehead. “Life would be a lot easier if I wasn’t so much of a mess.”

“Ain’t that the fucking truth. Something happen?” Kacchan asks, eyeing him.

“...Todoroki saw my hickeys last week and touched my neck. I flipped out and pinned him on a table. I still feel bad about it.”

Kacchan stares at him. “The fuck, Deku.”

“Yeah, I know.”

He’s not sure why he doesn’t tell Kacchan about the date. He lets him rib him all the way back to the train. He goes home alone, walking into his silent apartment with its plain walls and boring furniture. Daisuke left his cigarettes behind, and he picks them up off of the table, grabbing his lighter from the desk before stepping out onto the balcony. It’s a cold day, for May. Rain threatens in the distance, and he cups his hand around the end of the cigarette to light it and lets it dangle in between his fingers. The smoke curls in the air, whisked away by the breeze, and he sits on the narrow little folding chair he has placed there for no real reason.

It hasn’t been a bad day.

It’s just been a day.

Just like every other day for the past week, where he’s come home and lit a cigarette and sat on his balcony to smoke. They’ve all been hard days, but not bad days.

He stares down at the cigarette. There’s no way Kacchan doesn’t know about his habit. He has a good nose and an instinctive way of knowing when Izuku’s doing something he shouldn’t be. It hasn’t been a bad day, but… How many good days has he even had, lately? Work is good. He loves his work, he throws himself into it and adores doing design and all the assorted other tasks that get set to him. He loves working for All Might. He sees his friends regularly, though not as much as he’d like. Rin has finally given up on getting him back when Izuku returned the dragon scroll. Things with Kacchan are good, Melissa is talking about taking an R and D position for a year so she can spend more time with their family, Okaa-san’s job has eased up. But he’s just full of… grey. Grey fluff and exhaustion.

He needs to talk to Mizushima-san about taking those suggested pills.

His phone buzzes, and he pulls it out.

Text from: Todoroki Shouto
Would you like to get dinner together this evening?

Text to: Todoroki Shouto
Please.

Text from: Todoroki Shouto
That was remarkably short winded for you.
Are you well?

Text to: Todoroki Shouto
It’s okay Todoroki-kun, I’ll be better soon. Where at?

The cigarette burns out.

oOo

Somehow, it's been nearly three months since they met, three months of hiding and working and texting. Three months of nights spent together here and there, lazy morning kisses and strong hands on sturdy bodies. Three long months of Eijirou slowly but surely falling in love and not telling a single soul. The time has passed in the blink of an eye.

On a warm Thursday the week after fittings at Nighteye, Eijirou leaves work to have lunch with Bakugou at a comfortable little izakaya not far from the office, tucked away down a side street. Bakugou's reading when he walks in, eyebrows furrowed as he pours over a textbook. His exams are approaching fast. Eijirou takes a moment to admire the curve of his neck and the line of his jaw. He's terribly beautiful.

Eijirou smiles, and goes to meet him, dropping a kiss on his head. “Hey, Blasty.”

“Fuck off,” Bakugou grumbles without venom, and tangles their feet together as he sits down.

They order and their food comes quickly. Eijirou digs in, groaning with relief. He's been horribly busy all day finalizing patterns and helping with the Marketing department.

“Long day?” Bakugou asks, stirring his udon.

“The longest, ugh.”

“Mmm. I want you to meet my family,” Bakugou says abruptly, making Eijirou jump.

“Really?”

“Yeah.” Bakugou huffs. He looks incredibly flustered, spots of pink high on his cheeks. “Not like, right now. But maybe in a week? And. D'you want to come over to. To my place tomorrow.”

Eijirou drops his chopsticks. “Oh shit, things just got serious. You sure you're ready for that?”

Bakugou nods grimly. “Yeah. Woke up this morning and decided it was time.”

“Okay, yeah, sure,” Eijirou babbles. He knows he must seem ridiculous, but he's beaming with excitement and Bakugou's cheeks are going a very pretty pink. “Just for a bit, or to stay over?”

“Bring a bag, we’ll see what happens.”

Eijirou lets out a strangled noise, and Bakugou gives him a very self-satisfied grin.

oOo

Bakugou picks him up after work the next day, the serviceable little Prius slotting into Tokyo traffic and Eijirou relaxing at last. The workweek is done at last, and he naps as Bakugou curses out his fellow drivers and they sit in the occasional jams. It’s nearing 6 o’clock when Eijirou rouses himself enough to look around.

“What neighborhood are we in?” he mumbles, bleary-eyed.

“Todoroki, where Kaminari and Sero live. We’re almost there.”

They pass through another few neighborhoods, arriving in Seta in little time at all. Bakugou navigates through narrow streets, muttering to himself as he goes. Eijirou watches the world pass in interest. It’s a quiet place, neither rich nor poor, full of twisting side streets and a mix of apartments and family homes. The plant life is thriving, everything about the area well-kept, and Katsuki turns down a street and into a lot attached to a mansion style apartment building. Eijirou looks up at it, interested. It’s only 3 stories, with maybe 6 apartments to a level at the most, and a soothing grey. It’s boxy but well kept up and fairly new. Bakugou parks and Eijirou scrambles out, taking it in.

“This is it?”

“Yep.”

Bakugou leads him to the door, letting them in and taking him to the elevator. They head up to the third floor, and Bakugou leads him down the hall to the simple door of 3F, ‘Bakugou’ neatly printed on the plate beside it. Eijirou watches him unlock the door with slightly shaky hands, and lets Katsuki lead the way inside.

He’s immediately greeted with the genkan and hurries to take off his shoes. Directly up the step is the entrance to the hallway, and a closed closet. Katsuki shuts and locks the door and leads him up and to the left, into the apartment proper.

“Not much of a tour, it’s just a 1LDK,” he says tightly.

The apartment isn't what he expects. Eijirou isn’t actually sure what he expected, really, but it's not this. The walls are a soothing cream, everything spotlessly clean. The room is open, the furniture simple, and everything is open and minimal without being barren. There are plants on the balcony, the kitchen is cozy, and it looks almost like a well lived in hotel room. There's a TV on a stand, two game systems beneath it, and there are fresh flowers on the dining table, which is pressed up against the wall with a chaotic painting of a forest in flames hanging above it.

“I like it,” Eijirou declares, and doesn't miss how the tension in Katsuki's shoulders eases away. “This is a nice place!”

“I work hard for it,” Katsuki says, looking around. “Rent’s not too bad but it's still pretty expensive. Bedroom's down the hall, same as the bathroom. Kitchen’s fucking tiny but finding a decent size kitchen in Tokyo is next to impossible, so.”

Eijirou beams at him. “I’m really happy you’re comfortable letting me in.”

Katsuki goes pink, making an abrupt about face to go to the kitchen. “It’s nothing.”

Eijirou just smiles, and goes to help him make dinner.

There’s something different about being in Katsuki’s space instead of his own. They’ve been domestic together plenty of times, sleeping together at Eijirou’s place and eating together, but there’s something new and exciting about the change of scenery. They follow similar patterns though, chopping up vegetables and Katsuki griping about this or that, Eijirou stealing kisses to make him smile. They tangle together as they move, little echoes of each other in each light touch to a hip, the brush of a hand across a back. Katsuki has sleek, tiny black hearing aids in, and cocks his head once or twice to catch sounds from elsewhere in the building. Eijirou loves the look on his face when it happens, the intense stare into the corners of the room as he tilts his head to pinpoint the noise. Everything about Katsuki is intense.

He loves him more than anything ever.

They eat dinner together at the little table, feet tangled together, and talk about their day (boring, mostly), and clean up together. It’s so domestic that Eijirou can feel himself just buzzing with happiness, and he basks in the glow of it all as he washes the dishes in Katsuki’s tight little kitchen nook and Katsuki fusses around the apartment. He hums as he puts the last dish in the drain to dry, wiping off his hands as Katsuki stalks back into the room and over to the kitchen area.

Eijirou follows the tug on his wrist, feels Katsuki pull him in, and melts when a strong hand reaches up to cup the back of his neck and he’s being kissed. Katsuki’s mouth is insistent against his, and he lets himself be pinned up against the counter.

“Hello,” he chokes out when Katsuki pulls back, a little dizzy. “Woah. Is this just making out, or are you going for something more here?”

“I let you in my house,” Katsuki says, and his voice all gravel. “S’practically foreplay.”

“Oh. Oh.” Eijirou can’t seem to catch his breath. “You’re sure? I don’t want to push you on this like, ever. At all.”

“Maybe,” Katsuki says, voice husky, “I'd like it if you pushed me a bit.”

Hoooooly shit. Eijirou’s not sure he’s ever been this turned on in his entire life. He takes a deep breath, running his hands up Katsuki’s arms with light fingers. Katsuki shivers, red eyes fixed on his, intense. His pupils have blown wide, intent, focused on him like lasers.

“You say red, we stop, no questions asked,” Eijirou says, serious. Katsuki's nose wrinkles.

“You don't need to protect me.”

“Yeah, I do,” Eijirou says bluntly. Katsuki’s mouth opens as his eyes narrow and Eijirou barrels on. “Not done yet. I need that safeword for both of us. Because it's been a while for you, and for me, and you've already told me you don't actually like sex that much. I get that you want to try with me, and god damn, do I want to try with you, but we don't have to. I'd be perfectly content just sitting here on the couch with you, watching bad movies and making out sometimes. I'm an adult with a healthy imagination, it's not going to kill me to get worked up and then jack off in the bathroom instead if you aren't into this.”

Katsuki stares at him, something oddly fragile in his expression as the spines fall away. “You mean that.” It's not a question.

“Yep.”

“How the fuck are you real?” Katsuki demands, grabbing his face and squeezing. Eijirou grins at him. “What are you?! Are all people from Chiba this weird?”

Eijirou kisses him in response, pulling their bodies tight together, and thinks he’s probably full up on talking for now.

iIi

Okay. Okay. This is happening.

Katsuki is definitely in no way freaking out, he is calm and collected and not at all concerned that this is going to go badly based on past experience. He is not at all worried. At all.

Fuck.

Sexual attraction is fucking weird.

“You’re freaking out,” Eijirou says, matter-of-fact as he pulls his shirt off to reveal his wonderfully muscled torso.

“I’m not.”

“You definitely are.”

The shirt is flicked away to a corner of the room, but Katsuki’s still fixated on those fantastic abs. He kind of wants to lick them. And, shit, he’s allowed to now. He can, in fact, lick and bite them, with appropriate consent, and shit, that’s really, really weird. Is this normal? Is this a normal human thing, to want to bite chiseled muscles?

“-tsuki. Katsuki?”

He tears his eyes away. “Is wanting to bite people a normal sex thing?”

Eijirou blinks at him before snorting with laughter. “You’re so fucking blunt, I love it. Yeah, it is, sometimes. Depends on the person. Why? Do you want to bite me?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, distracted. He steps forward and runs his fingers over Eijirou’s muscles, watching them flex under his fingers. “Want to bite these. And lick them, for some reason, which seems real fuckin’ weird to me. All of this is weird. Sex is weird. Why am I doing this.”

“I mean-”

“Rhetorical question, you’re fucking hot and this whole wanting people thing is new,” Katsuki barrels on, other hand coming up to absently stroke the sleek curve of his waist. Eijirou’s built broader than he is and carries his muscle differently, thicker at the waist. He’s absolutely gorgeous. “You would have made a fucking fortune as a swimwear model.”

Eijirou splutters as Katsuki steps back, pulling his own shirt off and shucking off his pants. Katsuki looks back to see that he’s gone bright red, eyes shining.

“What?”

“I- Um. You really think that?”

Katsuki stares at him, deadpan. “Are you kidding me? You more ripped than half the fucking swimwear models I know now. You’re fucking gorgeous, you’ve got a killer work ethic, you actually know how to swim, you look like a fucking Greek god statue, and you’re charming as fuck. I know like eight agencies that would snap you up faster than you could fucking blink. Pretty sure if you walked in and mentioned interest Aizawa would have you working in less than a week.”

Eijirou’s gone still, frozen in place as he stares. “I… oh.”

Katsuki frowns. “What?”

“I just…” Eijirou rubs the back of his neck, looking away. “It’s nothing. I mean, it’s something, but I don’t really want to talk about it right now. But…” He looks up shyly, cheeks going pink. Katsuki is utterly, horribly smitten. “I-I’m really happy. That you like how I look.”

“...Okay?” Katsuki squints at him. “Is this an ex-boyfriend thing? Were some of them dicks about how you look? Because I will find them and rip out their tongues.”

“Holy shit, whoa, that’s a bit extreme,” Eijirou laughs, brightening again.

“Is it though?”

Right, sex. That’s a thing we’re moving towards doing,” Eijirou says, a little louder than necessary. “Possibly with biting and licking, which I approve of. What are things you like? In bed, I mean.”

“Dunno. I’ve never really been into anyone so I wasn’t interested in experimenting,” Katsuki says, shrugging. “I mean, getting off was just a physical response, my head wasn’t really engaged with it. I didn’t mind it but it wasn’t exactly fun. I don’t know if it’s always like that or it’ll be different with you, but I don’t mind if you use me to get off.”

“Uh.” Eijirou blinks at him. “What.”

Katsuki shrugs, pulling off his socks and flicking them into the hamper for later. “I don’t mind. It’s kind of nice not having to think about doing anything and letting the other person just get on with it. So if I’m not into it I still want you to get off, because it’s like… bonding and shit, but I’m ambivalent at fucking best about being involved.” He grins at Eijirou, who’s still looking a little shocked. “I’d make for a very pretty toy.”

“I have… the weirdest hard-on right now,” Eijirou says slowly, cheeks going pink. “Because on one hand you not wanting to have sex but doing it anyway is really fucking upsetting, and we are definitely going to be talking about that, but on the other hand the idea of you just sitting there bored and judging me while I get off is weirdly hot. Which we are also going to talk about. Later. When we’re both reasonable.”

“Why not talk about it now?”

Eijirou grins at him. “Never talk about sex in bed or prepping for bed, you get distracted.”

Katsuki considers this. “Fair. You’re wearing too many clothes for this.”

“Oh, shit, right- sorry, you’re really gorgeous and I got distracted.”

Internally, Katsuki’s ego screams in delight.

Eijirou’s down to his underwear by the time Katsuki has himself back under control, still blushing a little but clearly determined. They stare at each other, both going red, before Katsuki sighs heavily and just drags his underwear off.

“We’re bad at this,” he growls, and Eijirou laughs, a touch hysterical as he follows suit.

“I mean, that’s kind of to be expected. The first time is always a little weird and uncomfortable and what have you,” Eijirou says. Katsuki refuses to be charmed when he almost falls over, and also refuses to be fond of the fact that Eijirou’s underwear is red. This idiot and all of his red, honestly, Katsuki’s going to start having some kind of Pavlovian style happy response when he sees red.

And then Eijirou straightens up, and Katsuki’s brain short circuits a little.

“Uh. Katsuki?”

“Shut up,” Katsuki says mildly, soaking the whole picture in. “I need to burn this moment into my brain so I can remember it for the rest of fucking time.”

Eijirou splutters again, but Katsuki ignores him. Eijirou is head to toe gorgeous and perfectly proportional, with a near offensively beautiful and uncut cock. Even his damn feet look lovely, and the soft black patches of hair here and there are ridiculously lovely. They contrast well with the red, too.

“I,” he says over Eijirou’s weak noises of protest, “am the luckiest son of a bitch in the entire goddamn world and nothing is going to prove me otherwise.”

“Oh, gods.”

“Oh, I’ll be giving fucking thanks at my next shrine visit, don’t worry about that.” Katsuki shakes his head. “Those past fuckers have no idea what they’re missing out on, and they can keep being fucking clueless.”

Eijirou squeaks. “Oh. Okay.”

Katsuki nods to himself, feeling just a touch smug about the whole affair before stepping closer. Eijirou does the same, reaching out to grab his hips, and Katsuki runs his hand up the length of his torso. It’s a familiar motion, and Katsuki’s felt up his boyfriend plenty of times, but this is new. There’s a weight to it that wasn’t there before, and he can feel a buzz of excitement in his bones.

Eijirou’s thumbs rub soothing circles against his hipbones and Katsuki’s hips roll unconsciously.

“I, um,” Katsuki starts, mind a little hazy with lust. “I went. I went and got tested, just in case. It’s been two years but I figured I should double check. I’m clean, but the results are on the desk if you want to look at them.”

“I haven’t been with anyone since I got tested last, but I didn’t even think about it,” Eijirou says with a wince. “I’ll go next week, but… condoms for sure.”

“That was a given, I hate the fucking mess of it.”

“Mkay.” Eijirou kisses him, slow and sweet, and Katsuki can feel his legs buckle a little. Damn the man. “So, not big on mess. Major turn off.”

“Mmhmm.”

“Any other major no’s?” Eijirou asks.

“Dunno, I’ve only had super fucking vanilla sex,” Katsuki says, a little antsy. “I dunno, don't hit me? I don't even know if I'm going to like this.”

“We’ve got forever to figure it out,” Eijirou says easily. “And if you don't like it, we'll stop. And if you want to try again I can do that too. It's not a big deal to me if you don't want to have sex, I've got two hands and a healthy imagination.”

Katsuki's face flames. “Ew.”

Eijirou grins at him, unrepentant, and pulls him in for another long, heated kiss. Katsuki gives in without a hint of regret, reaching up to fist his hands in Eijirou’s hair. The gel keeping it up softens quickly, everything turning a little wild and messy except for his little horn spikes at the front, which Katsuki’s careful not to touch. Eijirou, of course, notices.

“You’re being real careful with my hair.”

“Yep, I know you like your horns,” Katsuki says, giving it an experimental tug and watching Eijirou’s pupils blow wide and dark. He grins. “Oh, you like that.”

“I might.”

Katsuki does it again, and feels just a bit smug when Eijirou moans and his cock twitches. “Might my ass, jotting that one down.”

Eijirou grins at him. “Cool. So, uh… how do you want to do this? Because I’m fine wherever.”

“We’re going to be boring, straightforward people,” Katsuki says firmly, trying very hard to ignore how his hands shake a little as he lets go of Eijirou’s hair. “Boring ass missionary, because I don’t fucking know what I like and if this is okay, then we can experiment a little. Slowly. I really don’t fucking know what’s going to happen, this might go so fucking bad. I’m bottoming.”

“Oh. Okay. Kind of expected you to want to top, honestly,” Eijirou says, but rolls with it. “Want to make out for a bit just to make sure if you actually want to do this?”

“Fucking hell, I’ve said it a million times already.”

Eijirou shrugs. “Yeah, but if you change your mind I want you to really, really know that it’s okay. Like, know all the way down to your bones. Okay?”

Katsuki feels his cheeks heat up. “Nerd.”

“It’s been said.”

They make it onto the bed in an awkward tangle of limbs, and Katsuki’s just about got his head sorted when Eijirou jerks. “Ah! Towel!”

“...What?”

“A towel, because I don’t think either of us are going to want to wrestle new sheets on this bed,” Eijirou says, which. That’s a fair point. Katsuki groans, climbing back out of bed to grab one from the wardrobe to lay out and snagging the condoms and lube (picked up earlier after some frantic googling of information that he’s not had to think of for literal years) at the same time before tossing the lot of it directly onto Eijirou to make him laugh.

“So many fucking steps,” he grumbles, and flops back on the bed. “Straight people must have a way fucking easier time than this. Do it right and you don’t even fucking need lube because one of them usually just makes the damn stuff. Ugh. What kind of bullshit is that, huh? D’you think they save money on lube? ‘Cause that shit wasn’t expensive, but it sure the fuck wasn’t cheap.”

Eijirou stifles a laugh as he gets everything set out. “I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had just leading up to sex. This is, like… really low key. I was worried I was gonna be way more stressed and now I’m not at all.”

“Good,” Katsuki says, feeling some of his own stress ease. “You better have cut your fucking fingernails.”

Eijirou grins, holding up his hands to show him. “Yep. I’ll admit, I’ve been hoping this would happen so I’ve just kept them really well trimmed. Unlike you, mister perfectly-squoval-professionally-manicured nails.”

“Fuck you, it’s my job to look this good,” Katsuki retorts, grinning.

“I know, and I’m mad about it.” Eijirou leans in to kiss him again, and Katsuki reaches up to hold him there. His shoulders loosen even as Eijirou lightly nips at his lips, silently urging him to open his mouth, and Katsuki obliges. He’s never liked kissing with tongues before this, but now, well. Now he just wants to melt into it, wants to pull Eijirou down and make a home nestled in the curve of his ribcage.

“This is gonna go so fast, I’m not gonna last at all,” Eijirou murmurs when they break apart for air, lingering near his face. Katsuki hums, eyes closing as the tip of Eijirou’s nose runs up his cheek, kisses trailing behind. “You… you’re so fucking beautiful. And I know you know it, you proud little beast, but I’m going to tell you over and over and over again, because I like that pride. You’re always amazing and surprising me, always changing when I’m not looking.”

Katsuki shakes under his hands, overwhelmed by the simple words and unable to speak. But Eijirou just kisses him again, harder, deeper, and Katsuki digs his fingers in to hold him close. He jerks as Eijirou’s hand moves south, absently petting the soft skin of his inner thigh.

“Ready for me to work you open?” Eijirou says, almost against his mouth, and Katsuki makes a noise of agreement.

The lube is located, Eijirou’s finger slicked up, and Katsuki finds himself grimacing as Eijirou slowly works him open.

“Never liked this bit,” Katsuki mutters, nose wrinkling. Eijirou winces. “Not your fault, it just sucks.”

“Anything I can do to make it better?” Eijirou asks, serious as his fingers move and work him open. Katsuki winces, looking up at the ceiling as his stomach flops at the faint noise from it. There’s something kind of clinical about it, the faint squelch making him uncomfortable.

“Stop- just. Just a second.”

Eijirou freezes immediately, and some Katsuki’s nerves immediately ease.

“It’s the noise,” he says, realizing. “The noise is- it makes me feel sick? The noise is gross.” He reaches up and carefully takes his hearing aids out, grimacing at the spike of headache as his brain struggles to change gears. Eijirou waits patiently, fingers still in him, and Katsuki nods at him to continue now that sound is dampened again. This time, the noise is so faint it’s easy to ignore, and Katsuki slumps in relief.

“Better?” Eijirou asks, relaxing a little.

“Much better,” Katsuki confirms, and jolts as Eijirou curls his fingers. “Ohfuckingshit.”

Eijirou grins at him, spreading his fingers a bit. “Yeah?”

Again, you bastard.”

Eijirou obliges, and Katsuki feels his entire body light up in pleasure. He shudders, clamping a hand over his mouth to hold back the embarrassing noises that keep slipping from it even as he arches up and his eyes flutter.

“Fuck,” he barely hears Eijirou breathe. He cracks his eyes open reluctantly, flushing when he sees the look of pure awe on Eijirou’s face.

“W-what?”

“You’re beautiful like this,” Eijirou says frankly, and Katsuki buries his face in his hands as his cock twitches. “And looks like you might have a biiit of a praise kink.”

“Go on, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, bon voyage, fuck off-”

Eijirou curls his fingers again and Katsuki dissolves into a string of random curses, legs twitching. He lets himself sink into the feeling of it, the knowledge that it was Eijirou working open making him twitch and shiver and his cock ache even despite the discomfort. Four (four!) fingers later and he’s feeling like he both wants to kill the man and ride him for eternity, which. Sexual attraction is fucking weird.

“Any fucking time now,” Katsuki says when he’s been made sufficiently breathless.

Eijirou bends down to kiss directly over his heart before sliding his fingers out and wiping them on the towel. Katsuki grimaces at the odd sensation of being left empty, drumming his fingers impatiently as Eijirou rips open a condom wrapper with his teeth (and fuck, that should not be nearly as hot as it is). Eijirou grins at him as he starts working it on, glancing down where Katsuki’s grown softer.

“I’m not stopping you from playing with yourself while I’m busy,” he says, amused. Katsuki raises an eyebrow.

“Why would I do that when you’re literally right there?”

Eijirou pauses, looking back at him. “Do you… not masterbate?”

“...I mean. Not really? S’fucking boring. Sometimes my libido shows up and won’t shut the fuck up until I do but otherwise I just ignore it,” Katsuki says, shrugging. He’s a bit uncomfortable by this, but Eijirou looks fascinated so he looks away and carries on. “When I was a teenager it was worse, but I got real damn good at fingering myself to get off as fast as fucking possible so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I don’t like people. Or porn. So imagination wasn’t really a thing for me.”

“So nothing really gets you horny,” Eijirou clarifies, sounding fascinated.

“Just you,” Katsuki confirms, looking back at him in time to catch Eijirou’s pupils blow wide and go all black. “Jesus, wha-”

“You are the biggest ego trip of all time, holy shit,” Eijirou says, arranging his legs. “Do you have any idea how hot that is? Someone like you- and I say like you because, y’know, you’re super good looking and fit and what the fuck is up with this perfectly shaped dick of yours, I’m kind of mad that I haven’t had a chance to get my mouth on that- anyway, someone like you saying that? So hot. I’m going to be thinking about that for years.”

Katsuki snorts as he lines up. “Sure.”

“I mean it.”

“Alright- mother FUCK-”

“Relax,” Eijirou urges him, and Katsuki throws his arm over his face as he breathes, shaking with need. Eijirou’s moving so slowly it’s almost painful as he presses inside, all of him feeling hot and stuffed full. This shouldn’t be pleasant in any way, this should be the worst thing in the world, and here he is just wanting to shove his hips down as fast as possible. But Eijirou’s iron grip on his hips is keeping him still, moving only at his own snail’s pace.

“Can’t,” he gasps, free hand clawing at the sheets. “I can’t- Eijirou, please, faster-”

“You can,” Eijirou promises, hands tight on his hips as he fucking stops. “Come on, Katsuki. Don’t wanna hurt you. Fuck, you’re so tight.”

“You fucking- bastard-”

Eijirou bends down to trail sharp little bites over his collarbone, and Katsuki lets out a rattling breath, forcing himself to calm down and relax at least a little more. The pressure seems to ease a little and Eijirou groans against his neck, breath hot as he lingers there, and Katsuki shudders as heat spikes and spirals down his legs and arms. His nails dig into Eijirou’s bicep, leaving red streaks in their wake, and Eijirou jerks just enough to make him gasp.

Eijirou moves slow, Katsuki’s mind melting as Eijirou slowly grinds forward til he’s buried to the hilt.

“Good?” Eijirou asks, still a little breathless. “Because I’d like to fuck you for real, now.”

“You’re not doing all the work. I’m not going to fucking lay back and think of the Emperor, that’s for damn sure,” Katsuki bites out. “Fuck, you walk around with this fucking third leg of yours all day?”

Eijirou splutters, laughing as he bends over to bury his face in Katsuki’s chest. His shoulders shake. “Your dirty talk could use some work, babe.”

“Die.”

“Oh, Katsuki,” Eijirou sing-songs, and Katsuki grins, shoving at his head. It shakes him a little, and something pleasant races up his spine.

“Fuck off, you asshole.”

“Nope!” Eijirou looks up, still grinning. “Fucking you.”

Katsuki snorts, the stress melting away for good. “You’re so goddamn weird.” They’re both breathing hard, Eijirou’s chest splotchy and flushed, and Katsuki runs his fingers over the blush there.

“Hi,” Eijirou says, a little breathless, and Katsuki snorts.

“Hi,” he parrots back, and Eijirou grins at him. “Gonna move any time soon?”

“I’m enjoying the view. Also trying really, really hard to make this last longer than a couple seconds, you’re killin’ me here.”

“Fuck off.”

Eijirou snickers, bending down to kiss him again. Katsuki sighs into it, nipping at Eijirou’s lip as he pulls away.

“C’mon,” Katsuki drawls as Eijirou shifts his hips experimentally. “Who knows if I’m going to ever be like this again. Better make it good.”

“Is that a challenge?”

Katsuki arches an eyebrow at him, and rolls his hips in retaliation. Both of them moan, and Eijirou adjusts his grip to absently run his thumb over Katsuki’s pebbled nipple. Katsuki jerks in surprise, and immediately grabs Eijirou’s hand to keep it there.

“That,” he demands, and Eijirou blinks at him. “That felt nice.”

“Oh! Yeah, they usually do, what with all the nerve endings there. No one’s played with these for you before?”

“Nope.”

Eijirou grins. “Sweet.” He runs his fingers over them, ever so lightly, and Katsuki shudders in pleasure. It’s a mild, strange thing, like it’s sunk down in his bones and muscles.

“Good?” Eijirou asks, keeping it up.

“Mmmmn,” Katsuki manages, shivering. “Feels real fucking good.” He levels a glare at Eijirou. “No commentary on this, got it?”

“Sure, sure,” Eijirou says genially, and before Katsuki can brace himself, Eijirou pulls almost all the way out and thrusts back in, hard.

Fuck!” Katsuki writhes, eyes wide, and Eijirou grins as he bends down to press lazy kisses over his cheeks as he starts a rhythm and one hand comes down to slowly, almost casually stroke his cock. Katsuki digs his nails into Eijirou’s arm, knowing he’s making absolutely nothing but nonsense noises as his eyes flutter and he lets them close to simply feel everything.

Katsuki’s been fucked before. He’s done the fucking as well. Neither thing had been overly exciting or interesting, generally over very quick. He’d bolted as fast as he could each time. Now, Eijirou’s hand sliding down his arm to link their hands together, he feels happy. He doesn’t hate this, everything feels good for once, and he can’t quite help moaning at the sensations as he rolls his hips to meet every press of Eijirou’s. Eijirou mumbles a curse that he can’t quite catch, hand moving in time with his hips.

“Eijirou,” Katsuki manages to gasp out, mind too flown apart to come up with anything more, “Eijirou- Eijirou-”

Eijirou curses again before bending down to kiss him, frantic and sloppy and Katsuki comes entirely without warning when Eijirou breathes, “Beautiful,” against his lips. It feels like it lasts forever, his toes curling and mind whiting out for a second as he shouts, back arching up to press them tight together and his fingers still entwined with Eijirou’s.

A few more thrusts, Eijirou’s breath hot against his neck, and he feels Eijirou shake apart as he comes back down enough to think again. Katsuki pets through his hair, still coming down from the aftershocks, and grins up at the ceiling.

Eijirou collapses on him, sweaty and breathing heavily, pressing sloppy kisses against his neck and cheek. “Fuck. That was really, really good. Thank you for the meal.”

Katsuki laughs in spite of himself, feeling loose and languid and honestly a bit smug in the afterglow. “You’re fucking welcome.”

Eijirou tilts his head up to kiss him again, tongue teasing into his mouth, and Katsuki’s hand comes up to hold him there as he gives back as good as he gets, jerking a little when he feels Eijirou’s cock twitch inside him.

Pulling back, he demands, “Really?”

“What?! You’re hot,” Eijirou defends, but he’s laughing and presses a quick round of kisses all over Katsuki’s cheeks to make him smile. Katsuki laughs, breathless and wide eyed. Eijirou watches him, eyes big and bright, and Katsuki’s heart might be overflowing with fondness.

“So that's why people like this shit,” Katsuki says, and Eijirou bursts out laughing, pressing his face to Katsuki's chest as his shoulders shake. “Fuck, that was actually nice! Hey, hey, spikey teeth, is it always like that?”

Eijirou catches his mouth in another kiss. Katsuki purrs beneath him, savoring it, and strong hands stroke down his arms.

“It can be,” Eijirou says, still grinning when he pulls back. “You had fun then.”

Yes.” Katsuki stretches, feeling incredibly satisfied. “Even if I didn’t get to lick your abs.”

Eijirou kisses him again before pushing himself up to slowly pull out, making Katsuki groan at the sudden emptiness. The condom is quickly disposed of, Eijirou ruffling his hair as Katsuki whines at the loss of contact.

“Just going to get something to get us cleaned up, I’ll be right back,” Eijirou reassures him as he climbs out of bed, disappearing down the hall to the bathroom.

Katsuki’s half asleep in near seconds, even the low-level headache he’s been fighting for a literal week gone. Eijirou comes back with a warm, wet cloth, and Katsuki only grumbles a little as he’s manhandled around and cleaned up, humming happily when Eijirou bends to kiss his forehead. The cloth is returned to the bathroom, and Eijirou returns himself to the bed, dragging the covers over them both and kissing the tip of Katsuki’s nose.

“You feeling okay?” Eijirou asks, running his hand through Katsuki’s hair. Katsuki nods, eyelids heavy. “No bad feelings?”

“No bad feelings,” Katsuki confirms, nuzzling him. “Feeling good.”

Eijirou’s smile is brilliant in the darkness, and Katsuki burrows into his arms with a happy sigh.

I'm going to marry you one day, Katsuki thinks to himself, and smiles as exhaustion wells up to claim him.

iIi

Eijirou wakes up slowly, sunlight warming his face as he yawns, rubbing his face against the pillow and feeling what has to be the world’s most ridiculous smile on his face. The bed smells like Katsuki and some sort of very nice laundry soap, pleasing to the nose. He takes a moment to relax before slowly, carefully climbing out of bed. Katsuki growls in his sleep, face wrinkling until he finds Eijirou’s pillow and grabs it, holding on tight and shoving his face into it. Eijirou nearly swoons at the image of grumpy, bad tempered Katsuki, all curled up around his pillow and holding it tight.

He wants this forever. He never wants this beautiful, ridiculous man out of his life.

An image flashes in his mind of white suits and matched golden rings, and Eijirou looks down at his boyfriend and just knows. When, he's not sure, but he wants to marry this man.

He finds his boxer briefs in the corner with his clothes, pulling them back on before slipping out of the bedroom and carefully shutting the door behind him. Katsuki doesn’t seem like the breakfast in bed type, but maybe he can just make a nice, fast breakfast to put out on the dining room table.

Eijirou pads down the hall, blinking when he hears a clinking sound. Maybe something in the kitchen? The sink, probably. He has no idea what kind of noises this house makes.

He rounds the corner of the hall to the little tucked away kitchen, and freezes as he meets the eyes of one Midoriya Izuku, sitting on the counter and eating a bowl of cereal in shorts and a t-shirt reading “turtle-neck sweater” in romanji. There are hickeys on his thighs, peeking out from under the edge of his shorts. They stare at each other like deer in the headlights, Midoriya’s spoon dropping into his bowl with a tiny splash.

“Um,” Eijirou says blankly, suddenly very aware of how tight his boxers are, and exactly how naked he is.

Midoriya swallows, blinking at him. “Please don’t tell Kacchan I stole his cereal.”

Chapter Text

Eijirou and Midoriya stare at each other, the moment stretching.

“Um, sure, I won't tell about the cereal.” Eijirou has no idea what to do in this situation. “Uh. You're here. Why are you here?”

Midoriya hops off the counter, never taking his eyes off of him. He's starting to blush, eyes darting around. “I’d think I should be asking you that, but um. K-Kirishima-kun, you’re a bit uh. Undressed.”

“Right, um, yes, I’ll just- get my clothes…”

There’s a squeak as the bedroom door opens, and Eijirou has never actually seen the blood drain from someone’s face before. Midoriya shoves the bowl in the sink, hurrying past him to stand in the living room area with his hands up. Heavy footsteps thump down the hall.

“Oi,” Bakugou’s voice says from in the hall, gravelly from sleep, “the fuck are you, Eiji-”

Eijirou winces, hearing the footsteps stop, and slowly turns around. Bakugou is thankfully in loose sweatpants and a tanktop, and is staring at Midoriya, who still has his hands up in surrender. His eyes flick to Eijirou, who shrugs helplessly, and then go back to Midoriya.

“Kacchan,” Midoriya says softly, “if you want me to go, I’ll go. I’ll have never seen any of this, and I’ll never breathe a word to anyone. Anything that happens in this house stays here, you know that.”

Eijirou’s heart wrenches. They’ve just been outted in the worst way possible, and as badly as he wants to just blurt it all out and finally tell someone, anyone about their relationship, this has to be Bakugou’s choice. He’s not openly out, he’s not like Eijirou with his loud clothes and bluntness. He’s different, and having this choice taken away must be painful.

Bakugou lifts his hands, and for a brief, terrifying moment, Eijirou’s sure he’s going to throw a punch. But instead, he starts to sign.

Of all the days you have to invade my house,” Bakugou signs, glaring at Midoriya. “You just had to pick today. Can't you fucking call?

YOU HAVE A BOYFRIEND AND DIDN’T TELL ME!?” Midoriya signs, arms waving wide for emphasis, and Eijirou watches Bakugou take a deep, shaky breath before he signs one word, very sharp.

Yes.

Eijirou beams, in spite of himself.

Midoriya shrieks a little, but quietly. “Oh my god, Okaa-san is going to hug you until you burst. And strangle me, for not telling her. You have a boyfriend! You've been dating! How long have you been dating!?

I don’t have to tell you shit. Why did you have to come today?!” Bakugou signs, agitated.

I had no idea he was here?! I was in the kitchen and then he just came in all naked and with those big muscles on display. Oh my god, you fucked-” And that was a strange sign, but that must be his name. It looks impressive. Eijirou wants to know what name he’s been given. Midoriya looks wild eyed but also impressed.

I’m going to kill you,” Bakugou signs back furiously, but he’s bright pink. “Fuck you, [Name].

How was it? Oh my god,” and there’s another name sign that Eijirou doesn’t know, which must be Bakugou's name, “I can’t believe you. How long has this been going on? When did you meet? How did you meet? Is he good for you? He better be good to you. How did you get to know each other? What does he know? Oh god, does he know about the accident? I mean he kind of has to at this point, oh man, I’m very proud of you but also did he push you on this? Because I’ll kill him if he pushed you. I will. Really though are you okay, you have love-bites! Have you told anyone? Is it a secret?

[Name], get ready, you’re going to fucking die.

Kirishima clears his throat, and both heads snap around to look at him. Hands up, he signs, “Uh, guys? I know sign too.

Midoriya blanches. Out loud, he says, “Oh my god, kill me.” Bakugou looks like he wants to echo the sentiment.

“What was the sign you used for my name?” Eijirou asks eagerly. “It was my name, right? I’ve never seen it before!”

Bakugou goes red again, but shows him again, slower. “It’s American Sign Language. The word is ‘sturdy’, modified with with a K for Kirishima,” he grumbles.

Eijirou mimics it, fingers twisting awkwardly. “Like this?”

Bakugou strides over, adjusting his hands. It’s a strange feeling, but Eijirou beams as he signs it.

“You gave me a name!”

“Don’t get too excited,” Bakugou says, but his eyes are soft.

“What’s yours?” Eijirou demands, beaming. “Do you have an American name and a Japanese name?”

“It’s ‘to win’, modified with a K for Katsuki,” Bakugou says, “We’ve got other shit to deal with though. Deku, don't tell anyone about this, I'm not fucking ready to deal with it. I want him to meet Auntie and To- and our other parent before we tell other people.”

Midoriya nods enthusiastically.

“I won't tell! I came to go running but you're uh. Occupied. I should go.” He goes bright red again. “Sorry about this, Kirishima-kun.”

“Stop acting like a blushing virgin, you little shit,” Bakugou mutters, running a hand through his hair. He’s still a little pink, and Eijirou hides his smile. “We all know you’re not.”

“You don’t have to put it like that!” Midoriya protests, blushing. “Rude, Kacchan!”

Bakugou flips him off instead of responding, and Midoriya sticks his tongue out. Eijirou feels like he’s stuck in some weird alternate universe where Midoriya is utterly fearless, and does his best not to show his surprise.

“Go home, I’ll see you Sunday,” Bakugou says, and Midoriya glances at Eijirou.

“Well, about that… Okaa-san wanted to suggest a family dinner Sunday afternoon. So, uh…”

There’s a terribly awkward pause, and Bakugou sighs heavily. “Can you go to your appointment by yourself tomorrow? Just for this week. And if you can’t do it, if you really can’t, I’ll still come and fucking get you.”

Midoriya nods, face falling a little, becoming somber. “I can.”

“Good. We’ll talk about it, I’ll let you know.”

“Okay! Thanks, Kacchan!” Midoriya beams, and turns to Kirishima. “And I’m really happy for you two! Congratulations and good luck to the future!” He practically skips out of the room, and Bakugou rolls his eyes.

“Don’t think I didn’t see your bruises, you little shit,” he calls.

“Fuck off, Kacchan!” Midoriya calls back cheerfully, making Eijirou choke on a laugh and Bakugou go red. “See you guys tomorrow!”

The door closes with a cheerful slam, and Katsuki buries his face in his hand with a groan.

“Well,” Eijirou says brightly, “that could have gone worse!”

“I hate everything,” Katsuki says into his hand. “Let’s make some fucking breakfast.”

Breakfast doesn’t take long at all, Eijirou humming as they make a very American style breakfast and Katsuki stews. Eijirou doesn’t let it bother him when Katsuki’s a bit sharper than usual, a little more snide, just kisses his temple and helps him wind back down a little until they’re both sat at the dining table, feet tangled together underneath it and plates empty. Katsuki’s grown steadily quieter as the meal goes, on and finally, Eijirou decides to push.

“You doing okay?”

Katsuki drums his fingers on the table before abruptly saying, “Let’s go for a walk.”

“Um. Not really an answer, but that works. Where too?”

The answer is apparently Okamoto Seikado Green Space. It’s a beautiful park, hidden in the depths of Seta neighborhood, full of flowers and trees, and Eijirou looks around in awe as they walk through the paths. Somewhere, hidden in the depths of the place, there’s a museum and library, as well as a mausoleum for a wealthy family. It’s a leisurely walk, and they pass through lots of different styles of gardens, and they walk in companionable silence before Katsuki leads them out of the park and around a corner. A stone torii gate stands in front of some very steep steps, stone lanterns to each side.

They walk up the steps and onto a shrine property, Eijirou looking around in interest. It a small, quiet place, one of the shrines so common to urban Tokyo, a tiny pocket of beauty hidden away from the streets. Okamoto Hachiman Shrine is small but well tended, with lush trees and swept pathways, shide streaming in the wind from their ropes. It’s a very quiet place, the hung nafuda boards very old and worn and the honden roof gone green from exposure. It takes a bit for the spigot to start filling the basin for cleansing with water, and once it’s filled (and overflowed a bit) they wash their hands and rinse their mouths before approaching the shrines. Once they’ve given offerings and prayed, Katsuki leads them back to the steep stone steps.

“Alright,” Katsuki says, sitting down hard on the steps. “Ready for my fucking tragic backstory?”

“Only if you are.”

Katsuki shrugs, looking up at the trees. “There's never really gonna be a good time. Gotta just rip this shit out before I get too chicken.”

Eijirou frowns. “You don't have to tell me, Katsuki. You're allowed to have a your secrets.”

“Yeah, but this is the kind of secret that doesn't need to be kept.” Katsuki sighs, running a hand through his hair. “First, you need to know… it wasn't always bad. For the most part I had a good childhood. But hindsight's 20/20 so I know now there was some bad shit happening. But I was happy anyway. So. From the very beginning, I guess.” He clears his throat, and braces himself.

“Inko, that's Midoriya's mom, and my mom met when they were like, 16 and both models. They were both from Shizuoka, got on like a house on fire, lived together while they went to university even though they went to different ones. My mom met my dad, Auntie met Midoriya Hizashi, and they got pregnant around the same time. My dad had a design business and they moved back to Shizuoka. Auntie stayed in Tokyo with Hizashi, but the bastard walked out, so she went back to Shizuoka, and that's where we grew up, at least for a while. Me n’ Deku were always together, and since we were the kids of some fashion obsessed people we found a hero in one Toshinori Yagi. All Might himself. He was big and strong and the image of perfection, and we both wanted that. Deku was even more obsessed than me, and he wanted to model. My mom… my mom decided I should, too. We were cute, I was blond and had funky eyes, we were a popular pair. My mom's mom was English, my dad's mom French. That's why I'm all. This. Anyway, everyone told me over and over again that I was meant to be a model until I believed it. I got quite the fucking superiority complex about it.

“We moved to Nerima, built a nice house. Inko moved with into a little apartment, found a job that paid what it could, and me and Deku kept going with modeling. I was about 8 when the pyromania started. It was a way to cope with all the fucking pressure and how I had no control over… anything, really. My clothes, my food, my time, my friends, everything was dictated to me. I lashed out hard, I bullied Deku endlessly. And when I turned ten…” his voice trails off. He goes silent, and Eijirou takes his hand.

The wind rustles the trees, green leaves turning the shadows into dappled beauty.

“My family was always really physical,” he says at last. “Roughhousing, hiking, sports, all of that shit. We were everywhere, all the time. Ruffling hair, hip checking each other, that sort of shit. Really tactile. But… I let a fire get out of control in the back yard. It started a bush on fire and i just stood there, stuck in place because I was so obsessed. My dad finally put it out. They took me inside and mom demanded to know what I was doing, but I didn't have an answer. And that was the first day she actually hit me. She backhanded me hard enough I went flying across the room and hit a wall. My dad just stood there, shocked, and later he patched me up, but we didn't talk about it. I know they fought about it, but, well.

“When I was 11, the company started struggling, and my agency closed. We switched to a new one, and me and Deku went to America right after I turned 12. I already told you about that. Shit was bad but I got out, and they sent me to inpatient almost as soon as I got back. I got a little better for a while, when I was in patient, and then things fell apart again. Mom never hit me where it would really show, and she did it pretty rarely, never when my dad could see and I was stubborn. I didn't really think it was serious. Always there. She got worse and worse as I got older, got angrier easier and I couldn't do anything right and was not doing well by the time I fucked up my hearing and landed myself in the hospital again. The company was on the verge of collapse when I turned 18, and I came down one day to her screaming at my dad. She'd hit him once or twice before but she was going to and I just. I couldn't handle it. I got in between them and she just lost it. She beat the shit out of me, and she had one hell of a punch. And when I fell she just started kicking me, screaming about me interfering and how much of a hassle I was and how done she was, and when she finally ran out of energy I was just. Done. So I dragged myself up the stairs, packed a bag, took all the important documents I could think of, and went to the only person in my life who'd been too stupidly stubborn to give up on me. Deku. He and his mom took me in and kept me, clothed me, gave me food and shelter and helped me stay alive when my mom froze my accounts and all the money I’d ever made to try and get me to go crawling back. Auntie’s… gentle. Real gentle. She's tough as nails, but she’s just good, down to her bones. I haven’t seen them since I left, and Dad stopped calling after a while. They moved a few years back, company closed up too.”

Katsuki runs a hand over his face, heaving a sigh as Eijirou takes his hand and squeezes it. “So now you fucking know. You don’t need all the gritty details but Mom was real strong, and broke a couple bones that last time. Dad said she has anger issues, like me, but that’s no fucking excuse. I feel so fucking guilty for running and not making Dad go but… fuck it, you can’t save everyone. I don’t think I ever could have made him leave, I don't think he's ever really fucking grasped how much it fucked me up. Maybe not everyone would have have even been hurt by it, but it fucked me up real damn bad for a while. My therapist says people handle things that are potential traumas differently, so I don't fucking know. But here I am.”

Eijirou reaches over and pulls him into a tight hug, squeezing his hand even tighter.

“I love you,” he says simply, because there’s nothing else to say, and Katsuki sighs against his shoulder and hugs him back. “Thank you for trusting me.”

Katsuki nods, pulling back and scrubbing a hand over his eyes. “Come and meet my family tomorrow. For real.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah.” Katsuki fixes his eyes on him, bright and resolute. “I’ve wanted you to for a while now, I’m done. I’m done hiding this, I’m done waiting for the other shoe to drop. Deku knows, and maybe that’s pushing me because I hate him having anything over me, but fuck it, I want them to know you and love you just as much as I do.”

“That is the m-”

“If you say that’s the manliest thing I am definitely breaking up with you,” Katsuki teases, shoving at him, and Eijirou laughs, shoving him back before swooping in to kiss him hard and fast.

“Bakugou Katsuki,” he says, “nothing would make me happier than to have dinner with your family tomorrow.”

Katsuki’s smile, bright and genuine, will fuel him for months.

oOo

Sunday afternoon arrives much too fast, and Eijirou finds himself with a box of frantically purchased expensive apples as a first-meeting gift sitting in his lap as Katsuki drums his fingers on the wheel of his car and winds his way through Tokyo. The neighborhood he’s brought them to is nice, quietly wealthy, with big houses and nice cars. It's the kind of upper class place that Akaa-san makes gates for, where everything people wear is bespoke, and Eijirou watches the world pass by with some small amount of awe. It's the sort of place he wants to live one day.

They pull up to a nice house, parking in a driveway big enough for four cars, and Katsuki takes a deep, steadying breath. Eijirou takes his hand and squeezes it.

“Ready?”

“Not a fucking chance,” Katsuki says, and tugs him down to kiss him before they climb up the steps and walk up to the house. Katsuki’s key is smooth in the lock, and Eijirou’s heart feels like it’s about to burst right out of his chest. Katsuki lets them into the house, kicking off his shoes in the genkan. The house is big and beautiful, oddly American in style. Everything is very open and calm, the walls warm and the art beautiful.

“We're here,” Katsuki calls as he kicks off his shoes.

There's a faint clatter, and a woman bustles around the corner of what must be the kitchen into the entryway. The woman is absolutely tiny, delightfully plump with a bright smile and kind eyes, and looks like an older, female version of Midoriya. “Ah, you must be Kirishima-kun! Oh, I'm so happy to meet you, Katsuki-kun talks about you more than he thinks. I’m Midoriya Inko, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She bows, and Kirishima hurries to bow back.

“Kirishima Eijirou, I’m happy to meet you too. Um. These are for you! A gift,” he says, holding out the box of apples. Inko gasps in delight, taking them from him.

“Oh, what a fine gift! These are beautiful, thank you Kirishima-kun!”

“Sorry it took us so long to let you know,” he says sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.

Inko waves a hand, smiling brightly at him. “Nonsense! Katsuki-kun has always been a very secretive boy, I’m not surprised in the slightest. Come, come, sit down! We're almost ready for dinner. Katsuki-kun, go fetch the boys from upstairs, they got talking about technique and you know those two won’t stop unless you force them.”

“Yeah, yeah Auntie, I’m going.” Bakugou squeezes his hand before jogging up the stairs, leaving Eijirou with Inko. Eijirou is already terrified, but Inko just beams up at him. She looks so much like her son that Eijirou can't help his shoulders relaxing.

“Here, come and help me with setting the food out,” Inko says, and leads him into an enormous open kitchen space. There are huge cupboards and long countertops full of food, and an island with bar stools tucked underneath. A dining table sits nearby, beautiful golden wood with plates and both chopsticks and Western utensils set out.

“We were going to grill things today to celebrate spring, but there just wasn't time! Katsuki wouldn't tell me what foods you like best so we're having curry, I hope that's alright. I made it spicy, I hope that you're alright with that! I thought about making katsudon, but that's Izuku's favorite food and Katsuki would definitely have sulked, the silly boy, he gets so worked up about things like favoritism, but it's quite alright! Do you like steak?”

Apparently Izuku got his talkativeness from his mother. Eijirou grins at her, and her eyes widen at the sight of his teeth. “I love steak! I like meat in general, really.”

“My goodness, what incredible teeth!”

Eijirou laughs, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah, they're natural. It's a genetic thing, my mom's the same way, but she has caps on hers.”

“Well I think they're lovely,” Inko says decisively, patting his arm and handing him a massive bowl of rice. “On the table, please. I’ll get the apples ready for us!”

They're just finishing setting out food when Izuku comes bounding down the stairs, beaming, and swoops in to grab the last plates. “Hi, Kirishima-kun! How are you?”

“Hey, Midoriya,” Eijirou grins, relieved to see Midoriya looking so happy. There's no bruises to be seen today, and no stiffness to his movements. “I'm great, just nervous!”

“Aww, don't be nervous, Otou-san already likes you,” Midoriya says cheerfully.

“What?”

He hears the sound of steps on the stairs. Katsuki emerges first, shoulders up around his ears with tension, and then...

It's Yagi-san. Yagi Toshinori, All Might incarnate, smiles genially at him and straightens to his enormous 6’6 height. He’s dressed in baggy grey-green jeans with a massive belt and an enormously oversized white t-shirt, his frazzled blonde hair bright as ever.

“Ah, Kirishima-kun, a pleasure to meet you as Bakugou-shounen's partner! Welcome to my home!”

Eijirou stares. “Am I being punked?”

Yagi-san laughs, big and booming. Inko smiles, indulgent, as Izuku slides into a seat. “Not at all, Kirishima-kun! I thought Bakugou-shounen would have told you! Ah, he can be such a troublemaker. Oh, apples, how nice!”

Eijirou fumbles a chair out from the table and sits down hard. “Oh my god.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Katuski mutters, and Eijirou squeaks as Katsuki presses a kiss to his temple as he walks over and sits next to Eijirou. “Calm down, he’s just another human being.”

“Why didn't you tell me Yagi-san is your dad?” Eijirou hisses, eyes wide as Yagi walks to the kitchen and Inko chides him for trying to take everything at once.

“Because it's a secret, you little shit. Everyone knows he's got a soft spot for me and Deku, but nobody needs to know exactly how soft. Eat your peas, you heathen.” Katsuki aggressively dishes peas onto his plate, two spots of color high on his cheekbones, and Eijirou buries his face in his hands.

Dinner is light and cheerful, Yagi telling stories and Inko urging Eijirou to eat more, Katsuki and Izuku squabbling over tiny things like who would pass the bowl of rice down the table, and Eijirou feels utterly at home. The apples are delicious, the food to die for, and by the time he’s stuffed full he’s incredibly happy. Yagi Toshinori himself gives him a tour of the incredible workroom upstairs, Inko shows him the guest rooms, and Katsuki makes himself scarce and scrubs the dishes with fervor after a far from threatening shouting match with Izuku about who could do them better that has everyone laughing.

“Kirishima-kun,” Midoriya says, coming up and lightly touching his arm as Inko teases Katsuki for his frantic scrubbing. “Let me show you the deck and the back yard.”

“Uh, yeah, sure.”

Midoriya smiles at him, leading him out onto the deck and shutting the doors behind him. It’s truly lovely, the grill impressive and the garden beautifully manicured. Some bamboo stalks in the corner rustle in the wind, and a few eclectic decorations hung on the fence make the area seem larger and more colorful. Eijirou takes it in, walking to the edge to look at the landscaping. Midoriya joins him, his smile mild.

“Kirishima-kun,” he says, leaning against the railing and turning those big green eyes on him, “I’m going to be very blunt for a second, okay?”

“Um… okay.” Eijirou sips his drink, a bit nervous.

“I have a lot of rough sex.” Midoriya waits until he’s stopped choking on his drink to go on. “I do. It’s a bad hobby. I go to bad parts of town and have all sorts of bad times with people who frankly, I shouldn’t let within 100 meters of me, let alone near my ass. It’s kind of a problem. That being said, you meet a lot of interesting people when you go to underground raves by the docks. And some of those interesting people stay in touch, and because I’m very cute and I know it, I have a lot of less than legal contacts who would do anything for me. Okay?”

“Um.”

Midoriya’s smile takes on a very, very sharp edge. “Not done yet, Kirishima-kun. I know the kind of men who think absolutely nothing about carrying very big knives and making people disappear. I won’t pretend that Kacchan has ever been an angel. We’re not friends, we’re not siblings, we’re just two fucked up people thrown together by fate and trauma who’ve known each other since we were literally in the womb. I’ve watched him suffer for years, and if you so much as lay a finger on him when he doesn’t want it and intentionally hurt him? I will call in every favor from every rowdy, evil asshole I know and see you strung up and gutted like a fish in Tokyo harbor, cut off your head, and have it preserved so that I can look at it every day and toast myself to a job well done. I haven’t spent 23 years of life working for that idiot’s happiness for you to throw it away if you get careless. Am I fucking understood, Kirishima Eijirou?

Eijirou stares. “Y-yes.”

Midoriya beams at him. “Great! I really like you, so don’t fuck this up. If you have to break up, don’t be a dick about it, m’kay? Because I could and will snap you like a twig.”

“You got it,” Eijirou chokes out, and wheezes a little when Midoriya slaps him companionably on the back. He hits like a tank.

Midoriya heads back towards the doors, and Eijirou feels a spike of panic. He needs to say something, and say it now, because who knows when the next moment they’ll have like this will be?

“Um.”

Midoriya turns around, blinking big eyes at him. “Yes?”

Eijirou takes a deep breath to steady his nerves. “He makes me happy.”

Midoriya's attention feels like lasers on him, green eyes boring into him.

“He makes me… he makes me really, really happy, and I love him. I have for a while, I think, and one day, maybe, I think I want to marry him. He's rude and blunt and kind of a cactus but he makes me so happy. I love him, and I want to make him happy too. I want to grow with him, and I want him to-to be able to trust me without question. I know people have broken that trust before but I don't want to be one of them. And I'll do my best to never be.” Eijirou takes another breath, feeling his hands shake. “So when I ask him to marry me, I hope I'll have lived up to your standards as well as his, because I'm pretty sure you're the most important person in his life.”

Midoriya blinks at him, and suddenly, huge tears are spilling down his cheeks.

“Oh, fuck, what-” Eijirou panics, but Midoriya just laughs, hurrying to wipe the tears away.

“No, no, it’s okay! I cry really easy when I get emotional. Thank you, Kirishima-kun, for your honesty and your care. You’re going to be a great brother in law.”

Eijirou squeaks, but Midoriya just comes back over and hugs him tight. Eijirou’s heart swells, and he immediately hugs him back.

The door to the deck opens, Katsuki poking his head out suspiciously. “The fuck is going on out here? Who’s dying?”

Midoriya laughs, wiping the last of his tears away. “No one’s dying, I’m just… I’m very emotional.”

“The fuck else is new,” Katsuki grumbles, stalking out onto the deck and eyeing them both. “Now what?”

“I love you,” Eijirou tells him.

Then it’s Katsuki’s turn to squeak in surprise, making Midoriya laugh again, and then Midoriya almost gets tackled off the deck. Eijirou laughs as the pair dart around the yard, chasing each other in the growing evening like rabbits attempting to fight as they bounce back and forth in a demented game of tag. Inko comes out, shaking her head at the commotion as Midoriya sends Katsuki flying in a hip throw.

“I had a very quiet life until Katsuki came to live with us,” she says with a smile. “Not too quiet, mind you, Izuku was quite the terror for a while in his high school years, but once they got over themselves and started communicating, things got better.”

“Bakugou told me that his mom used to be your best friend,” Eijirou says quietly. “I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.”

Inko sighs as Katsuki launches Midoriya skyward, making him laugh. “It certainly wasn’t easy. But all things come to an end, as they say.”

Eijirou thinks about that as they say goodbye to Izuku, Inko, and Yagi-san, and when they climb back into the Prius he feels the strain of the evening finally hit him like a brick.

Katsuki heaves a shaky sigh, burying his face in his hands. “Thank FUCK, that's done.”

“I had dinner with Yagi-san and he called you a troublemaker,” Eijirou says weakly, putting a hand over his eyes. “He’s so cool and his workshop is incredible and your dad is an actual hero of Japan.”

“Fuck off,” Katsuki says, without heat.

“Katsuki,” Eijirou says.

“Mm?”

“I love you so fucking much.”

Katsuki jolts, pulling his hands away to look at him. “What the fuck? What’s that for?”

Eijirou reaches over, gently tugging him into a kiss. Katsuki goes willingly, melting against him after a moment’s hesitation.

“You realize we have to tell our friends now, right?”

“Aw, hell.”

oOo

Friends.

There are friends in his house.

It is Monday evening and everyone is off of work and there are friends in his house.

They know where he lives now, they’re in his space, they’re taking off shoes and chattering in the entryway and oh gods, this was a bad idea. There are friends that do not need to be in his fucking house in his house and Katsuki is going to have to move and find a new place in like, Saitama or some shit-

“Are you freaking out?” Kirishima says quietly.

“I’m fucking fine. Let’s get this over with.”

Katsuki is definitely freaking out.

The group all piles into his living room. Kaminari, Sero, Mina, Jirou, and for some fucking reason, Tetsutetsu, who Kirishima had insisted on having here for this debacle. Katsuki wants to crawl out of his skin and build a house on top of Mount Everest to avoid this bullshit.

“I like your place!” Kaminari says brightly, looking around. He looks ridiculous in bright yellow joggers and a neon pink shirt. “Wow, it's so nice.”

“Yeah, and I've worked hard on it so don't fuck it up,” Katsuki snaps.

Kaminari holds up his hands as the others laugh, the picture of innocence.

“Sit down,” Katsuki says, gruff, and his friends (and Tetsutetsu) all pile on the couch. Kirishima pulls over one of the dining chairs, sitting on that, and Katsuki takes a deep breath as he goes to stand next to him. “So. We thought it was time to tell you that we're dating.”

“Damn, way to drag it out,” Kirishima says with a laugh as several jaws drop and silence falls for exactly 8 seconds before noise erupts.

“I KNEW IT-”

“Oh my god, finally, thats-”

“Congratulations!!”

“Who asked who, we all have money riding on this,” Kaminari says eagerly, beaming as he looks between them. All pairs of eyes fix on them intently.

Kirishima rubs the back of his neck. “That's kind of a tough question actually. Pretty sure Bakugou, I've let him take the reins on how fast we take things. He definitely asked for the first official date.”

“You started the conversation on the beach, though,” Katsuki mutters.

“Oh yeah, I did!”

Sero holds up his hands. “The beach?”

Kirishima blushes prettily, and Katsuki wants to die. “Um. Remember when we went out to Okinawa for that Gang Orca thing? Sakamata-san has a private beach and we were out there, sitting on the sand after we went for a night swim, and we talked about the Best Jeanist party because like. We were dancing and all that-”

“Oh, we noticed,” Sero says intently. “I will 100% admit that it was very hot.”

“It was, right?” Kirishima says enthusiastically as Katsuki grabs a pillow and attempts to smother himself. “Anyway, we were talking about that and how maybe we liked each other and there was some other stuff that came up, and I said that I was willing to try and wanted to be his friend and then he did this really self sacrificing thing and I said-” Kirishima cuts himself off.

Katsuki pulls the pillow down, knowing he must be as red as Kirishima’s hair. His friends are all staring at them, on the edge of their seats.

“And he said,” Katsuki mutters, “that helping each other carry our baggage was easier than trying to go it alone, and it was the most stupidly romantic thing I’d ever heard and I kissed him.”

Mina shrieks, falling off the couch. “Oh my god this is the best day of my life.”

“Hold up, you went to Gang Orca like, not even a month after knowing each other,” Jirou says, staring at them as Tetsutetsu pulls Mina back onto the couch. “And you just. Did that.”

“Yep,” Kirishima says weakly. “And um. We made out a lot that week without any strings since we wanted to know if we were really like, compatible, and turns out the answer is a solid yes on that, thanks for not asking, and then a while after we got back we had actual dates and now… here we are. Telling you.”

“Amazing,” Sero says as everyone else shrieks.

“I’m so happy for you, bro!” Tetsutetsu says again, hoping up to pull Kirishima into a tight hug. Katsuki doesn’t even get the chance to bristle before everyone is piling on them and cheering, Jirou hugging him tight and ruffling his hair while Kaminari whoops and squeezes him. And sure, he could kick them off, but honestly… It feels nice.

Sero peels everyone off when he sees Katsuki’s eye start to twitch, and before he knows what’s happening people are pulling out food and drinks from seemingly nowhere in celebration, Katsuki’s been put on the couch with Kirishima’s arm around him, and his home is bustling with happy people getting ready for a dinner together. He doesn’t even try to fight it, just gives up and leans into Kirishima’s side as his head spins and Kirishima laughs at something Mina said.

“Hey,” Kirishima whispers as Sero and Kaminari fight over the remote to turn on some random movie.

“What?”

“Love you.”

Katsuki goes red and elbows him in the side, making Kirishima wheeze as he laughs.

Later, with what’s turning into a party in full swing and Bakugou getting absolutely wrecked by Sero and Tetsutetsu on Mario Kart as Jirou eggs them all on, Eijirou slips out to join Mina on the balcony while she gets some air. Eijirou gently hip-checks Mina where she’s leaning on the edge. “Hey.”

“Hey yourself.” She takes the offered drink, resting her head against his shoulder. “I’m glad you told us. Sad it wasn’t sooner, but I get it.”

“Yeah.” Eijirou grimaces. “I didn’t like hiding it, but it needed to wait. Bakugou really wasn’t ready until just a bit ago. We only told his family yesterday, and I told Okaa-san and Akaa-san on Saturday, but they’re meeting him this weekend for Okaa-san’s birthday.”

“I can’t blame you,” Mina says, biting her lip. “Because, y’know… Me and Tetsu.”

Eijirou grins, holding up his hand. “I kind of guessed but, nice.”

Mina laughs, high-fiving him. “You’re way too observant.” Her smile fades into something softer, and she looks down at her drink. “We… we haven’t talked about it and we’re not like, together-together, but… Kiri, I really like him. Like, a lot. He’s sweet, and funny, and really good in bed, and he’s smart, too. He’s a lot like you, but I duno, I think… I think we just fit together really well.”

Eijirou pulls her into a hug, squeezing her tight. “Minaaaa!”

“Oh my god, Eikkun, get off!”

“No! That was so cute! I’m so happy for you!”

It’s nearly 10 before everyone is urged out the door to get back to their own homes, and after some minor objections everyone heads out with some last waves and congratulations. Eijirou sees them off, Katsuki reluctantly joining him.

“How do you feel?” Eijirou asks once the door has closed. Katsuki flops onto the couch.

“Like I want to move houses and never see another human being again.”

Eijirou snickers, easily lifting his torso off of the couch and sitting down, letting Katsuki drape over his lap like a limp cat. He absently runs his fingers through Katsuki’s hair, grinning when he makes a rumbling noise of approval. “All worn out from all that socializing, babe?”

“Fuck you. And do that again, that felt fucking great.”

Eijirou scratches at his scalp, watching Katsuki go limp. “You’re so cute.”

“Fuggoff.”

“Sure, babe.”

They stay like that for a while, the time simply slipping away before Katsuki suddenly groans and sits up. “Fuck, I forgot.” He fishes his phone out of his pocket, opening up the camera.

“What is it?”

Katsuki leans in and kisses his cheek, flipping off the camera, and takes the picture. Eijirou laughs, appreciating his startled expression and Katsuki’s smug smile. It’s slightly blurry but absolutely adorable, and Katsuki makes a pleased little noise before sending it.

“There. Now Camie knows too and she can chill the fuck out.” He turns his phone on silent, grinning with self-satisfied pride, and Eijirou’s eyebrows shoot up as Katsuki straddles his lap.

“Oh, that’s what that was, and uh. Hi there.”

“Hey. Kiss me,” Katsuki demands, and Eijirou grins.

“Oh. That, I can definitely do.”

oOo

The shinkansen to Chiba on Saturday afternoon is fast and not too horribly expensive, certainly cheaper than driving. Bakugou sits next to him, stiff as a board, eyes fixed forward and one hand clutching his tight. There’s a large black box in his lap, presumably filled with a gift for Eijirou’s parents, but he’s yet to find out what’s inside and Bakugou’s been treating it like it’s made of solid gold. Another sits on top of it, wrapped in exquisite gold paper and tied with a very traditional looking bow.

“They’re going to love you,” Eijirou promises, and Bakugou gives his barking laugh, sharp and harsh with anxiety. “I mean it, Katsuki, they really will. They like anyone who makes me happy, and you make me very, very happy.”

“I am definitely going to fuck this up somehow,” Bakugou hisses.

“No, you’re not.”

“They're going to hate me,” Bakugou insists, squeezing his hand and gnawing at his lip. “Lot’s of fucking people hate me. The fuck are we going to do if they hate me? It’s your mom’s birthday!”

“It’s going to be okay,” Eijirou soothes. “We’re almost there, and once we’re there you’ll realize you had nothing to worry about and everything will be just fine. We’ll have a nice night, you’ll meet my siblings, we’ll sleep well and go home in the morning.” Eijirou wisely doesn’t mention how he’s already told his mother that his new boyfriend tends to be prickly and anxious in settings outside of his immediate control. “Okaa-san knows we’re both crazy busy, she won’t hold it against us when we go home.”

Bakugou growls, turning and shoving his face against Eijirou’s shoulder. “This fucking sucks.”

“I know, man.”

“Am I going to see your ridiculous old bedroom?”

“Nope! They moved a while ago,” Eijirou explains. “The house I grew up in was closer to the coast.”

It’s another two buses before they’re close enough to the Kirishima house to walk. Miyanogicho neighborhood in Igane, Chiba, is a pleasant place, full of large and comfortable houses with lots of color and clean streets. It’s a pretty place, and full of trees and plants. Katsuki relaxes a little as they walk, looking around at the different houses and commenting about paint colors as they go. Eijirou holds his hand, fingers tangled together, and tries his best not to think about the last person he’d brought home.

The Kirishima house is on a corner, the lot triangular and raised up with a retaining wall. There are plenty of mature trees and bushes, a frankly massive yard for a Japanese suburb, and a patio deck attached to the house. It’s a two story house, the upper level with a balcony, and quite large. It’s very traditional in look, but still clearly a modern build. The tiled roof, brown-and-tan color scheme, and rather traditional looking fencing and gate make the whole thing especially beautiful. It’s a timeless place, and the ‘Kirishima’ nameplate has been done in iron by Akaa-san.

“Big house,” Bakugou says as they open the gate and walk up the sidewalk.

“Right? I love it!”

He opens the door, beaming at the jingling bells on the door that alert the household to it being opened. They’re a staple of his childhood. “I’m home!” he calls, stepping inside, and almost immediately Okaa-san appears in the hallway, hurrying to him with a happy smile.

Okaa-san is always overwhelming to new people. Even nearly forty, she’s incredibly beautiful, with long black hair down to her waist and pale, flawless skin, dark eyes and a soft, picture-perfect mouth and a nose identical to Eijirou’s. She’s tall and willowy, fine boned, and always looks just slightly ethereal.

Eijirou’s pretty certain there isn’t a more beautiful woman alive.

“Hello, my beautiful boy,” she says, pulling him into a hug. Eijirou hugs her back, tight, and kisses her forehead when he lets go.

“Hey, Okaa-san. This is Bakugou Katsuki. You might remember him, I don't know-”

Her jaw drops. Bakugou stands frozen in the doorway, still holding the black box, eyes fixed on her. Eijirou looks between them, uncertain, and Bakugou slowly sets the box on the top of the shoe box, lifting shaking hands to sign, “Hello again.

Hello,” Okaa-san signs back, staring. “It’s been a while, Bakugou-kun.

“Um,” Eijirou says blankly, “I’ll just… let you two catch up?”

“Yes,” Okaa-san says faintly. “Eikkun, please start some tea. This is quite a surprise, please, come in!”

Bakugou carefully steps inside, eyes still wide and fixed on her.

“I didn’t realize,” he says blankly.

“It’s been some time,” Okaa-san says, taking a careful step forward. “Please, come to the sitting room. I think we might have some catching up to do.”

Bakugou nods mechanically, slipping his shoes off and following Okaa-san to the front sitting room while Eijirou hurries down the hall to the kitchen, where Akaa-san is humming and working on chopping tofu for the miso soup.

Kirishima Akane is enormous. Her hair is more silver than blonde now, streaks in her hair gleaming in the lights, but her shoulders are just as massive and her height just as impressive. She crushes Eijirou in a hug as soon as he barrels into the kitchen, and he buries his face in her shoulders, feeling some of his stress melt away.

“There you are,” she sighs. “Oh, I missed you.”

“Missed you too, Akaa-san.”

She kisses the side of his head, ruffling his hair while being carefully not to wreck his spikes. “And you’ve brought your boy?”

“Yeah, he and Okaa-san recognized each other and they’re in the sitting room. I was an idiot and didn’t think to warn him, I’ve just been so busy- do we have tea started?”

Akaa-san chuckles, letting him go and patting his cheek. “Ei-get, always in a rush. Yes, there’s tea.”

“Akaa-san, I’m not a goat!” Eijirou complains without heat, pulling cups out of the cabinet.

“No?” She laughs, poking at the smallest points at the front of his hair. “If it looks like a get and sounds like a get...”

“I’m an onii!”

“Of course, Eijirou, I’m certain you are.” She laughs, going back to working on the tofu. “Ei-jäkel maybe?”

“Akaaaa-saaaaaan!”

Eijirou hurries to pour two cups of tea and takes them to the sitting room, where Bakugou and Okaa-san are still just sitting stiffly and obviously not certain what to do. He sets the tea on the table and is about to sit down himself when Akaa-san’s voice calls him back to the kitchen.

“I’ll be right back, we’re just finishing dinner prep,” he says, and reluctantly leaves them be.

oOo

A clock ticks in the silence of the sitting room, Kirishima Kiyoko and Bakugou Katsuki staring at each other as tea cools between them.

“I did always wonder,” Kiyoko says, “if you were able to find help. LIfe happened so fast and I lost track of you. How have you been, Bakugou-kun?”

Damn, what to even say to that?

“Um,” he says awkwardly. “I’ve.. managed. Got kicked out, kept modeling, started school. Met Ei- Kirishima. I’m almost fluent in sign now, I found a school. I try and keep up with learning more and sh- and stuff. I have hearing aids, don’t wear ‘em all the time.”

Kirishima Kiyoko, the first person to show him his first words in Japanese Sign Language and the first Japanese hard of hearing person he ever met, smiles with soft eyes and signs, “I’m very happy for you. When you get a chance, please do trust Eijirou with the story of how we met. I think it was a good day for both of us.

It was,” he signs back. “I’ll tell him.

Before Kiyoko can say anything more the door to the sitting room bursts open and what has to be Kirishima Akane walks in, followed by Eijirou and his siblings.

Akane is massive, twice as broad as Katsuki with shoulders that an Olympic powerlifter would envy and the kind of thick, powerful muscle that spoke of hard and dedicated training, scars on her arms, and a broad smile. Akari takes after her mother more than either of her brothers, all long limbs and big, dark eyes. Her black hair is kept up in a tight bun, neat and tight to her head. There's something of Eijirou in her too, between the long lashes and stubborn mouth, and the bright curiosity in her eyes. She zooms in to sit next to Eijirou, peeking around him to look at Katsuki with open interest. Kazuhiko is small, built lithe instead of broad like Eijirou, and slinks in nervously. His hair is cut short and inky black, his eyes the same smooth, pretty shape as Eijirou’s but missing his signature scar. His hands and core, however, look rough and strong, and he huddles in tight up against Akane while watching Katsuki warily.

“So, um… everyone, this is my boyfriend,” Eijirou says, smiling. It’s a little tight and stressed, but still a smile. “This is Bakugou Katsuki.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Katsuki mumbles, standing up quickly to bow. It’s stiff and awkward, bowing all the way when he rarely does it, but he makes the full ninety degrees and sees Eijirou’s eyes widen a little. “I, uh. Just a second.”

He curses internally for leaving the boxes out in the hallway, and hurries to grab both of them. He takes a deep breath before going back into the sitting room, and Eijirou goes to stand up, but he waves him away before carefully setting the bigger box on the table.

“A gift,” he says, taking the smaller box and handing it to Kiyoko with another bow. “I wish I’d brought more but, um, happy birthday. And this one is for your whole family.”

He hands the larger black box to Akane, who immediately pulls off the lid and gasps. Kiyoko looks over and her jaw drops, head snapping around to look back at him. Katsuki stands awkwardly, not sure what to do.

“What is it?” Akari demands, hopping up.

Akane reaches in and pulls out a perfectly spherical cantaloupe, eyes wide. “It’s a very nice and generous gift, Akari.”

Eijirou’s jaw drops. “Katsuki, you-”

“It’s a Yubari King Melon,” he says, and Eijirou wheezes. “I hope it’s enough. I was going to bring two but I couldn’t figure out how to get ‘em here safely.”

Kiyoko’s eyes are wide as she looks between Katsuki, the melon, and Eijirou.

“I only got your family good apples,” Eijirou says, looking absolutely horrified. “Oh no. I should have bought a cantaloupe.”

“Nah, my father’s not supposed to have them with his food restrictions, apples were a good choice,” Katsuki says, sitting back down on the couch. He’s full of nervous energy, watching as Kiyoko carefully takes the wrapping off of the box and her eyes go wide.

“Cherries are my absolute favorite. Did you ask Eijirou beforehand?” she says, reverently opening the box of cherries he’s selected.

“Maybe,” he admits, and she beams at him, utterly radiant.

“They’re beautiful! Thank you for such a thoughtful gift, we have to have these with dinner.” Kiyoko stands up, tucking her hair behind her ear and smiling brightly. “Or with the cake! Oh, such good gifts. Come, let’s eat dinner.”

Eijirou catches his arm as they go to leave the room. “A Yubari King Melon, are you serious?”

“What?” Katsuki grimaces. “I wanted to make a good first impression. Did you know I’d met your mom before?”

“Yeah, kinda, I just assumed you wouldn’t remember her and it would be awkward to bring it up like, hey, my mom took pictures of you once years ago, remember that one random photographer? And what if she didn’t remember you? How much was the melon?”

Katsuki clamps his mouth shut. “Not telling.”

Eijirou pales. “Oh my god it must have been so expensive.”

“It wasn’t cheap.”

“Seriously, how much?”

“Nope.” Katsuki slips out of his hold, giving him a wicked smile before sliding into the dining room to avoid him. Behind him, Eijirou whines in anxiety before following and they take their seats.

Dinner is lively, everyone bright and happy and sharing stories back and forth to make the others laugh and catch up on their lives. They make sure to loop Katsuki into the stories, Kazuhiko telling him about his baseball team and a funny thing the umpire did, Akari talking about her music teacher’s grading mishaps, Akane bemoaning a failed piece and Kiyoko telling them about a particularly ridiculous shoot she’d been asked to do. Even Eijirou tells stories, launching into ones about Fat or Amajiki when there’s a break in the tales. The food is filling and rich, and Katsuki gets urged to tell about something that happened at school while eating his own dinner. The weirdest bit is that everyone listens, laughing in the appropriate spots and letting him stumble and backtrack to try and figure out how to tell a compelling story. It’s worth it to see Eijirou beaming and Kiyoko’s bright, happy face. Cake is had, and the whole family teaches him how to sing the Swedish birthday song and are pleasantly surprised at his pronunciation, and he teaches them the English version.

Kazuhiko is the one to show him around the house after dinner while everyone cleans up, to Katsuki’s surprise. The first floor has the dining room and sitting room (two seperate rooms, which, damn), the kitchen, and the bathroom, which is enormous and beautifully tiled. Everything is exquisitely decorated, a beautiful melding of European and Japanese, with several framed artworks from well known creators and a few prints of beautiful photographs that must be Kiyoko’s work.

Kazuhiko pauses in front of one of them, pointing up at it before saying shyly, “This is me ‘n Akari’s dad. He’s not around anymore, he died a little after we were born, but we keep this one of him.”

Katsuki looks up at a picture of a handsome man with a kind face and soft eyes. It’s a candid shot, one taken by Kiyoko. Akane’s in the background, laughing at something he’s said, and his hair is curly and wild from the wind.

“He looks like you two,” Katsuki says, glancing back at Kazuhiko. “Same kinda smile.”

Kazuhiko nods. “I think so too.” He leads him up the stairs, and hesitates on the top one, looking back at Katsuki.

“Do you like Eiji-nii?” He asks bluntly.

Katsuki blinks. “Hell yeah.”

Kazuhiko considers this, gives him a tiny, happy smile, and then carries on up the stairs. There are three bedrooms, the master, Akari’s, and Kazuhiko’s. There’s also a door out to the upper balcony. Akari zooms up the stairs behind them to show him her very, very bright pink room, and Kazuhiko show him a sleek and near alarmingly adult room with plants and an industrial aesthetic.
“Kazu wants to be a designer,” Akari confides as Kazuhiko shuts his door again.

“He’s good the taste for it,” Katsuki agrees, and Kazuhiko goes pink.

“Pff, who needs taste when you have COLOR!”

Akari goes careening down the stairs again, Kazuhiko chasing after her, and Katsuki shakes his head as he slowly walks back down. Eijirou meets him at the bottom of the stairs, kissing his cheek as Katsuki sways into his side.

“You doing okay?”

“I might need to take a bit of a break,” Katsuki mutters, turning to bury his face against Eijirou’s neck. “They’re great, they really fucking are, but you’re all so high energy and it’s been a while since I’ve had to meet new people.”

“Okay, babe.” Eijirou kisses the side of his head. “Want to go sit out in the garden?”

“Nah, I’ll stay up on the balcony. S’that okay?”

“Sure.” Eijirou hugs him, and Katsuki feels a little bit of the residual stress melt off. “Find me when you’re good, okay?”

“Yeah, yeah…”

The balcony is quiet and comfortable, with a couple chairs and a little table. Katsuki decides against the chairs, sitting down on the ground and letting head head rest against the wall.

It’s strange, being in a house like this. Toshinori, for all his bright and bold public appearance, keeps a quiet house. Inko and Deku are quiet at home too, focusing on sewing and home hobbies, and while things sometimes get lively usually it’s quiet. Safe. Soothing. His parents house was either a riot of yelling from one end to the other or deathly still after real fights. A house like this, full of laughter and light and people excited to talk about their day… it’s new, and not unwelcome. He loves it. He wants to build a home like this with Eijirou, one where no one ever has to wonder or fear anger or retribution, a place where communication and stories reigns supreme. And maybe it’s impossible, but… what’s the harm in a dream?

The door to the balcony opens up and Katsuki jolts, looking up to see Akari in the doorway.

“There you are! Mind if I join you? Okaa-san’s trying to talk Eiji-nii and Kazu into doing the dishes so I wanted to escape.” Akari grins at him. “I can leave if you want.”

Katsuki shakes his head. “S’fine.”

“They’re a lot, huh?” Akari sits down cross-legged next to him, grinning wider still. While she missed out on Kiyoko and Eijirou’s shark teeth, her canines are longer than most. “Akaa-san and Okaa-san look like they’d be quiet but then you get them together and they’re suuuper noisy. I mean, all of us are super noisy, me too, but I think it’s fun. You seem like the quiet type though. I mean, you’re loud, you’re definitely loud, but maybe it’s been a while since the loud bit was fun.”

Katsuki stares at her. “Well aren’t you a fu- a freaking fountain of wisdom.”

Akari snickers. “You can swear, I don’t care. I’m 15, I hear worse at school. You’re from Tokyo, right?”

“Shizuoka, originally, but Tokyo now.”

“Cool! I’ve only ever lived in Chiba, but I’ve gone to Tokyo a bunch. Shibuya and all the touristy places, oh, and I got to go to Roppongi when Eiji-nii moved! His neighborhood is really cool. I think I want to live there one day, like Eiji-nii does.” Akari brushes her bangs back away from her face. “Do you have siblings too? Or are you an only child?”

Damn. There’s a loaded question.

“Both,” Katsuki says, surprising himself. “I was my biological parents only child but in my new family I have a sister, but she’s American. And I have Deku.”

“Who’s Deku?”

Katsuki snorts. “Now that’s a question. He’s… he’s not my brother. We’re not really family, it’s too complicated for saying he’s just my family. Deku’s just a nickname, his real name is Izuku.”

“Kind of a weird nickname.” Akari props her chin in her hand.

“Yeah. I was a shitty little kid.” Katsuki sighs, letting his head fall back against the house. “We’re working on it, but now we just only ever refer to each other with our nicknames. Kacchan for me, Deku for him. We’ve got a long history.”

“Is your American sister adopted or something?”

“Nah. Melissa- that’s her name, she’s my dad’s ex’s kid. It’s a long story, but they aren’t blood related. None of my family is, actually.” Katsuki shrugs.

“That’s really cool though!” Akari beams at him. “You got to make a family instead of just getting stuck with one!”

Katsuki looks down at her, feel a small spark of pride. “Yeah, it is pretty cool.”

“Does your family know about Eiji-nii?”

“Yeah. Told them first, actually. Last Sunday, I took him to meet them. I mean. He knew most of them already, but it was the real meeting or whatever.”

Akari’s smile fades away, and she pulls her knees up to her chest. “Eiji-nii used to bring people home. When he first started university, I mean. He had lots of boyfriends at first. But none of them were very nice. They were rude, usually, and they didn’t smile all the way. Like, with their eyes too, I mean. And they never really took him to meet their families, because I guess they knew they weren’t going to keep him around, which is the worst. And Eiji-nii stopped smiling as much and eventually stopped bringing people home at all. But you’re not like that. You don’t smile very much, and you’re kind of rude and loud, but you look at him like he’s the sun and that’s enough for me. Because Eiji-nii deserves people who look at him like that.”

“He does,” Katsuki says quietly. The rain patters against the overhang as they look out at the lights of the city beyond the rushing expressway. “Never met anyone like him before. He’s so bright and just… strong. He’s so fucking strong.”

“Yeah.”

Akari leans his head on his shoulder, and Katsuki doesn’t even tense.

“Bakugou-san?” she says, her voice quiet as his. “Please take care of my brother.”

“I will,” he promises quietly, and together they watch the rain in comfortable silence.

oOo

The guest futons are laid out in the living room, and as soon as the lights are off Katsuki burrows into Eijirou’s arms and shoves his head under Eijirou’s chin. Eijirou wraps his arms around him, holding him tight, and finally the tension that’s been lingering all day melts away.

“We’re out to the most important people, now,” Eijirou says quietly. “You ready to tell the world?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki mumbles against his neck, burying his nose in to smell the lingering scents of cologne and hair gel, and the general man-smell that’s all Eijirou. It’s starting to ring in his mind as home, and he’s never ever going to admit how much he loves it. “Everyone important knows now. Fuck the rest of them, they can hear it through the grapevine or a megaphone, I don’t care how you tell ‘em.”

“How I tell them?”

“Mm.” Katsuki burrows in closer, as if trying to climb into Eijirou’s chest and just live there. The arms around him tighten, reassuring. “People ask, I’ll tell them, but you’re mine and they can fuck off. I want to savor everything about you.”

Eijirou sucks in a breath, twitching a little, and Katsuki scowls.

“We’re at your parents house and your siblings are upstairs, calm the fuck down.”

“You can’t just say shit like that and not expect me to be moved. Come on-”

“Do not, brat.”

Eijirou laughs, soft and throaty, and Katsuki all but purrs as his big hands start rubbing over his back.

“Hey, Katsuki?”

“Mm?”

He can hear the smile in the darkness as Eijirou says, “You ever want to find out about my blowjob skills even with these teeth, you know you have only to ask.”

“I am going to murder you in your parents house and not a jury in this country would convict me, you absolute asshole.”

Chapter Text

Eijirou wakes up to the sound of breakfast underway, and for a brief, confusing moment thinks he’s back in his childhood home as Akaa-san starts singing something under her breath and Okaa-san chimes in with accented Swedish. But the weight on his chest is new, and as he stretches Bakugou shoves his face against his shirt and growls, nuzzling against his chest. The room swims into view, the familiar living room taking him back to the present.

“Hey,” Eijirou says sleepily, rubbing his boyfriend’s back.

“Shuddup,” Bakuguo mumbles. “M’sleepin.”

“Sure, sure babe. But there’s breakfast.”

“So? Sleepin.”

Eijirou grins at the ceiling, trying not to laugh. “Okay, Katsuki.”

It takes another half hour to get himself untangled, and another fifteen minutes after that to get Bakugou up and moving. He’s not normally groggy in the mornings, but Eijirou’s heart swells as Bakugou sleepily stumbles around, hand clutching the back of Eijirou’s shirt as they get ready for breakfast. He’s cute when he’s not yelling or trying to strangle someone.

Eijirou gets the place settings on the table and is about to start bringing food over when Bakugou emerges from the living room fully dressed, and makes a bee line over to him. Kazuhiko grins at them as Bakugou grabs him in a hug, shoving his face into Eijirou’s shoulder.

“Hey there,” Eijirou laughs, handing the plate of sausage to Akaa-san. “Someone’s clingy this morning.”

“Mmm.” Bakugou makes a vague sort of noise at him. “S’nice. Didn’t sleep well all week, sleeping here’s nice.”

“Awww.”

“Shuddit.”

Eijirou snickers, ruffling his hair, and wraps his arms around him to hold him for a bit while everything is put out on the table. Bakugou really must not be fully awake to be so comfortable with other people around, and even as he slowly wakes up while they chatter together over breakfast, he stays a bit softer than normal. Eijirou’s heart fills with quiet joy, and he knows he fails at hiding his smile.

It’s a good morning.

oOo

Katsuki walks the house as Eijirou squabbles with his siblings over cleaning up the food and dishes after breakfast, looking at the pictures on the walls. There are plenty of famous actors and actresses, beautiful people in wonderful clothes. He spots one of Kayama Nemuri as well, an underwater shoot with her in elaborate black clothes and her eyes fixed dead into the camera, intense and dramatic. There’s Hakamata among strange red, windswept rocks, his white scarf up around his nose and his jeans huge bellbottoms with elaborate embroidery. Sakamata’s there as well, rushing out of the water perhaps 10 years ago with strong arms up in perfect swimming form and his vitiligo making him look like the orcas he loves.

He stops at the picture of Crimson Riot’s designer, the same one that Eijirou has hanging up in his apartment. It’s a beautiful piece. The man has a black mask on, his dark hair gelled and spiked in all sorts of angles, and he’s leaping through the frame with a tattered red coat flying behind him. He has a bosozoku look, abdomen wrapped and black hakama floating, his combat boots decked out in spikes. The background simple and grey, the only decoration a wire frame dress form with the Crimson Riot logo printed on a flag wrapped around it. It’s simple, but stunning.

“Quite something, isn’t he?”

Katsuki glances over to see Kiyoko step up into the hallway to stand beside him, looking up with a smile at the picture. “Eijirou has a big copy framed, thought I’d see the original.”

Kiyoko smiles, gently touching the edge of the frame. “Yes, I gave it to him when he was, oh, 18? He’s always greatly admired the man, and was very excited about it. In fairness, he was the first designer Ei-kun ever met and he left quite the impact. You’ll have to ask him about it sometime. Kokyo-san is a handsome man, and very sweet in person. Charming. Good in bed.”

Katsuki chokes, head whipping back around to look at her. Her smile is wicked.

“Sorry, what,” he manages, and Kiyoko laughs, looking back up at the picture.

“I had a very wild life in my early twenties, Bakugou-kun. I was an up and coming photographer making a name for myself, and unabashed in my admiration for handsome men and beautiful women. I was fairly attractive myself, and I attracted people in power like flies. My parents were wealthy, my life was easy, and I was surrounded by the best and the brightest in the textile arts.” Kiyoko shakes her head, still smiling. “So, yes, I did have a few run ins with some of the more famous designers. But the Riot himself? Perfect, chivalrous gentleman. If Ei-kun has to emulate anyone, I’m happy it’s him.”

Katsuki looks back up at the wall of photos. “D’you do family shoots? Private ones, that sorta shit.”

Kiyoko cocks her head. “If I have time and the subject interests me.”

Katsuki doesn’t look away from the pictures. “My foster father is Yagi Toshinori. We don’t have any family pictures all together, thought it might be interesting to do. Surprise him with it.”

There’s complete silence, and he looks back to Kiyoko, whose eyes have gone very wide.

“All Might,” she says blankly. “You’re- really?”

He shrugs, shoving his hands in his pockets. “It’s not like we go shouting it off of buildings, but yeah. Yagi’s my dad, now. There’s him, me, Deku, Auntie, Melissa, and David. And Sir, I guess, but he doesn’t really count except to Yagi. So. I’ve got a bit saved up-”

Kiyoko holds up her hand, shaking her head. “Oh, I think not. I’d about kill to shoot Yagi-san just once in my life, never mind you again.”

Katsuki glances around, just to check that Eijirou’s not in sight before signing, “I want Eijirou to be there too. We don’t have a lot of pictures together, not good ones, and I want to have some.

Kiyoko claps her hands together, beaming. She quickly signs back, “That would be lovely! Let me know when you can get everyone together and I’ll clear my schedule for the day. I never can seem to get him to hold still long enough to get some good shots, and it would be nice to have one of both of you together for the house.

Katsuki blinks, chest suddenly tight and the air gone from the room. What?

“You mean it,” he croaks out, and Kiyoko smiles at him, reaching out to gently take his limp hands in hers.

“Bakugou-kun,” she says, so gentle. “No matter what happens with Eijirou, you are welcome in my home.”

“Oh,” he says stupidly, and Kiyoko chuckles, squeezing his hands.

“Yes, oh,” she echoes. “You know, I think you’re the first of his boyfriends to ever make him truly happy. I’m happy for both of you.”

Katsuki nods, his throat tight. “I’m- I’ll do my best for him,” he says, looking up. “I promise. I’ll do what I can. He deserves the fucking world, and I want to give it to him. He’s so good, and so strong and smart. You did great with him.”

Kiyoko smiles, touched. “Thank you, Bakguou-kun.”

When she leaves him, Katsuki looks back up at the picture of Crimson Riot, frozen forever facing forward, in action instead of sitting still. Kiyoko’s camera and eyes had captured him as she sees him, strong and bold and an unashamed masculine beauty. Katsuki touches the edge of the strong black frame, as bold as the man it encases.

What will people see in Eijirou, when they start taking pictures of him?

Will they see the joy? The beauty? The clever tongue and big smile, the casual power he wears with grace? Will they manage to capture the energy he carries, the relentless drive and the kindness? How will they pose him? Will they think it worth talking about, the two women who love each other so much and whose eyes and own strength he’s inherited, or will they gloss over that in favor of a more homogenized story, erasing Kirishima Kiyoko and Akane from the narrative of what built him? Imply a father where there is none, when Eijirou might not even know of him?

The thoughts linger with him as they gather their things and say their goodbyes. Katsuki winds up with all of their numbers, lets Akane crush him in a hug and Kiyoko kiss his forehead with gentle adoration, promises to text Akari pictures and come to at least one of Kazuhiko’s games before they head out.

They stand at the platform not long after, hand in hand to wait. Katsuki watches the world go by without really seeing it, still trapped in his thoughts as Kirishima swings their hands. They still have nearly half an hour to wait, but better early than late.

“You seem thoughtful this morning,” Kirishima says, bumping their shoulders. “something on your mind?”

Katsuki huffs. “Dumb shit.”

“Like?”

“... Ever wonder about your dad?”

Kirishima shrugs, unconcerned. “I don't have a dad, Bakugou. It used to bug me, yeah, but there's no point wondering about it. Okaa-san doesn't make a secret of it. She got into drugs when she was 18, had a few rough years and slept around a lot when she got into college. From what she remembers, there's maybe 6 or 7 people it could be, and she didn't even know all their names. He was just some guy who gave her some genetic material to make me. I’m grateful for him, but I don’t need to know him. Not now.”

Katsuki looks over at him. “You mean that.”

“Yep.” Kirishima glances around, then leans in to kiss his cheek. “I’ve got enough family and good parents who raised me right. Some guy who wasn’t there doesn’t factor into it. I had Okaa-san, and then Akaa-san, and they brought up three fine children and loved us all. We always knew exactly who our real parents were. Kazu and Akari’s donor, he was a good guy. Good lawyer, good person. But he wasn’t their dad, either. He was an uncle.”

Katsuki nods, leaning his head onto Kirishima’s shoulder and squeezing his hand. The wind sweeps down through the station, ruffling their hair and tugging at their clothes. It brings with it a sense of calm, wiping out lingering stress and pain from his heart. “I’m glad your family’s like how it is.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, and together they stand in comfortable silence until the shinkansen rushes into the station. They board the shinkansen, finding their seats. Kirishima barely lets go of his hand, as they settle back in to return to reality, Katsuki slowly lowers his head onto Kirishima’s shoulder.

“We should come back and visit again soon,” he says quietly, and Kirishima smiles, squeezing his hand.

“Yeah…” he says softly, turning his head to kiss the top of Katsuki’s. “Yeah, we should.”

oOo

The first full attempts of the formalwear designs are finished around lunch time four months after Kirishima Eijirou becomes an intern, approximately two weeks after his mother’s birthday and scant weeks before Bakugou's final exams. The only thing he has to say about the matter is, “We need a bigger workspace. And people. Shit.”

“Shit,” Rei agrees, downing her third iced coffee of the day. “This is out of our range.”

“Yep.”

The pieces aren’t bad. They’re not. They’ve got a decent framework for what they want, and some of the others in Fatgum’s employ have helped build out and put together the shapes and cuts of the formalwear, but the pieces don’t sing, and they look like they’re the work of someone still a student instead of polished and sleek. The Unbreakable collection is not complete. The collection has been thrown together on a wing and a prayer with whoever could be spared from the other work and had sewing skills, and while he and Rei are good, they’re not good enough. Eijirou stares down the pieces, and drinks some more coffee. He didn’t even drink coffee in college and now he’s turning into an addict just like Tamaki.

“We need an origami master,” Rei says, pulling out a notebook. They're in a spare workspace on the 24th floor, a few other Fatgum seamstresses and designers milling around as they all take notes about the attempts. “We need a pleater.”

“Someone who makes kimono,” Eijirou says. “For the dyes. I don’t know how to get the effect we need.”

“Someone who can do beading,” Rei says, adding both to the list. They both wince, looking at the beading attempts on the nearest gown. They are, in a word, depressing. “We need a real atelier, or at least someone with better skills and experience in this kind of work. All Might has a Parisian atelier for their haute couture, right?”

“I think so. Maybe we can ask Fat if he knows anyone?” Eijirou rubs his forehead, sitting down hard. “Oh my god I don’t want to go through another round of budget meetings. Who do we even talk to about getting a more permanent workshop set up?”

Rei shakes her head. “I have no idea.”

Eijirou brightens as inspiration strikes. “Ohhhh, wait, I know who’ll know.”

Three quick texts and Eijirou’s on his way out the door to hunt down his friend.

Midoriya has the real bluetooth on this time, and is writing in a notebook when Eijirou finds him on the 12th floor. Midnights offices are a hot mess of black latex, corsetry, people in sky high heels with razor sharp eyeliner, and he’s pretty sure he sees at least two of the marketing team in full on bondage gear chatting in the break room as he ducks through the maze of cubicles. While he might be short, Midoriya’s green hair is distinctive, and the poof of it is easy to see over the short walls.

“- don’t have anywhere near enough time for that to work,” Midoriya’s telling the bluetooth. “Yes. Yes. I’m aware, I know- sorry, hold on, that’s not going to work. Mmm. No, that’s a bit… I’ll see what I can do.” He turns around, still frantically writing. “Yes. Yes, of course. Thank you. Goodbye.”

Midoriya snaps the notebook closed and looks up with a beaming smile. “Kirishima-kun! Hi! Oh, wow, that’s certainly an outfit.”

“Hey, Midoriya!” Eijirou grins at him. His cargo shorts paired with a crop top emblazoned with a muscle car and a slogan of ‘My Other Ride Is Not Safe For Work’ have been getting double takes all day, and that’s without his most comfortable green loafers. He’s never loved Fatgum’s extremely loose dress code more. “I’ve got a question for you.”

“Oh! Sure, what is it? You didn’t need to come all this way, I could have come up to you-”

Eijirou grins, shaking his head as they start walking together. “Dude, I was in the same building, don’t even worry about it. Who do I talk to about getting an official workshop space for Fatgum set up? I don’t know where to start.”

“Oh, that’s easy!” Midoriya ducks out of the way of what looks like a Dominatrix in full leather. “You put in a form, and then Sir comes and does an evaluation of whether or not the space is actually needed, since he’s technically the building head.”

“Wait, he is?”

“Yep! Ah, Kirishima-kun, mind those shoes.” Midoriya pulls him out of the way as a woman pushing a cart of heels with actual knives for the heel comes past. “Sir is the building overseer, he decides what goes where. It’s part of his deal with Yagi-san, I don’t know a ton about it. That’s just how he is. He also handles a lot of the final decisions for finance for All Might, for some reason, but he’s good at it!”

They take two quick turns and almost run into Kayama herself, who smiles at the pair of them. She’s dressed in a slick white dress with a black underbust corset over the top of it today, a whip wrapped around her hips like a decorative belt. There’s a pair of young women with her in slick black suits, perhaps coworkers.

“Ah, hello you two!” She glances to her companions. “They’re my companions in the elevator in the morning, we get here around the same time. Kirishima-kun, what brings you all the way down to my offices? Also, where do I get that shirt?”

“Just collecting Midoriya! And I’ll send you the link,” he says cheerfully, clapping Midoriya on the shoulder. Midoriya waves at the three, smiling brightly. “I had a few questions for him.”

“Intriguing,” Kayama laughs, and waves them away. “Thank you bring me those papers, Midoriya-kun.”

They hustle out of the offices, Midoriya grabbing Eijirou to keep him from taking too close of a look at what might have been a paddle covered in spikes and chivvying him into the elevator. Midoriya’s phone buzzes and he glances at the display, frowning in concern.

“What, now?” he mutters, hitting the bluetooth so it lights up. “Sorry, Kirishima-kun, I need to take this. Hey, Melissa! You’re up late.

Melissa. The sister. Eijirou’s ears strain as he tries to catch the conversation better, wildly curious about this family member he’s yet to meet. He really needs to work on his his English if he’s going to keep up with the English speakers in the family.

Midoriya thankfully switches to Japanese, pulling out his phone to check something. “Flights will be packed, I don’t know you should come on a Saturday. A Thursday would be better. You’re not stay with- With Otou-san, right?” He twitches involuntarily, and Eijirou smiles in reassurance. “Yeah, good, I’ll come help you get settled on that Sunday. No, no, it’s okay! It’s all going to be okay.”

Midoriya pauses, then smiles. “Why? Because you will be here!”

Eijirou has to clap a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing, Midoriya grinning and bumping their shoulders together. He can hear tinny laughter coming from the bluetooth.

“I love you too!” Midoriya says at last, smiling. “I’ll talk to you soon. Bye!”

He hangs up, and Eijirou laughs as they reach Fatgum’s floor. “She sounds fun.”

“She is! I love her,” Midoriya says happily. “She’s going to live here for a year, working in the R and D department to get more experience and spend time with our family! And David- that’s her dad, he’s going to be coming to see her get settled and visit a bit. I haven’t seen him since my second year of college, I’m really excited.”

He follows Eijirou into the office, and they turn a corner together only to walk almost directly into Todoroki. Papers go flying, Midoriya squeaking in alarm, and Eijirou immediately kneels to pick them up.

“Ah, Todoroki-kun! What- what are you doing here?!”

Midoriya sounds flustered, and all the senses that have kept him aware and meddling in his friends lives since high school ping. Eijirou glances over at the pair. Midoriya’s bright red, not meeting Todoroki’s gaze as he scrambles for the papers. Todoroki’s ears are also very red, though he’s got better control of his face. Their hands meet on a paper and they both jerk away, looking away from each other again.

“I had to take something to Fat-san,” Todoroki says, stacking the papers and studiously not looking at Midoriya. “And then I got distracted by my mother.”

“Ah, is she here!?”

“In the studio, yes.”

Eijirou watches them finally meet each others eyes, and almost starts laughing at how their pupils dilate and Todoroki’s eyes flick to Midoriya’s mouth. They’re the least subtle pair he might have ever seen, and he’s seen Tetsutetsu and Mina dance together at clubs. At least Midoriya isn’t trying to strip him with only his eyes- oh, wait, nope, that was definitely happening.
Eijirou stands up, clearing his throat, and the pair jump as they rush to get up as well. Todoroki quickly takes the papers, bows, and rushes away with his ears even redder before. Eijirou leads them into the studio, where Mirio is once again flirting with a very red Tamaki, and they lean together against the wall.

“So,” Eijirou says conversationally. “Todoroki, huh?”

Midoriya guiltily wraps his arms around himself. “...Don’t tell Kacchan.”

Eijirou shakes his head, grinning. “No worries man, who you sleep with is your business, not his. Or mine, actually. Long as he’s good to you.”

Midoriya looks up under his lashes, shy. “He really is good to me.”

“Then I’ve got nothing to tell anyone, do I,” Eijirou says, clapping him on the back. “Now. I’ve gotta write all these reports and go do some ritual preparation to deal with Sir and hopefully not blurt out that I know he’s a Dom in the middle of official business. Kayama’s a terror.”

“She is,” Midoriya says fervently, and lets himself be swept away by Mirio, waving as he goes.

Three days later, after an insane amount of paperwork and a small amount of grovelling to Sir’s secretary to have him check his email, Eijirou’s been stuffed into a suit from Gang Orca and doing his best not to sweat right through it as he waits for Sir to arrive at Fatgum’s floor. No amount of begging had convinced Tamaki to be there for his particular hurdle, and Fat had just told him that talking to superiors was going to be his entire life from now on to get used to it. Kindly, of course, but Eijirou is still less than thrilled that as the lowest and youngest of the company he’s still having to do this all alone. For once he looks completely normal, save for the hair. Tamaki had stolen his tie and forced him to open the first two buttons but he still had his pocket square and a nice watch on.

The elevator doors opened to reveal Sir, tall and imposing as ever.

“Kirishima Eijirou?” he says dryly, and Eijirou quickly bows before joining him in the elevator.

“That’s me, Sir-san.”

“Just Sir,” Sir says, not bothering to even look at him. “Please show me your collection.”

They arrive at the 24th floor and Eijirou leads him into the packed room. The Unbreakable collection, in the state that it’s in, is 25 pieces of wildly different heights and widths to match the forms of the different models meant for each one. Shoes have also been added near the feet of some mannequins. The pieces start simpler, with geometric attachments pinned here and there against black gowns or pillowing pants. They grow to elaborate gowns with draping trains or half bare chests, a few capes and hip pieces here and there spilling out in a combination of geometric and natural shapes.

Sir looms above him, his spindly body spiderlike as he moves about the room, surveying each piece with a critical eye. Eijirou trails after him, nervously trying to stay a polite two steps back. Sir stops in front of the penultimate piece, cocking his head.

“This is the final piece?”

“Yes, Sir,” Eijirou says, hurrying to stand next to him. “The last of the collection.”

“What’s it called?”

“Unbreakable. It’s the centerpiece so it shares a name.”

Sir hums, long fingers coming up to tap across his mouth as he considers it. Unbreakable, the piece, is an enormous undertaking and not nearly complete. Broad pants sit at the hips, a train looped around the waist that spills out with edges dripping in black trim meant to look like char from flames. It has pinned embroidery here and there, and the top is black sleeves with a high collar covered in geometric shapes, just long enough to cover the chest of the wearer for modesty. The sleeves have black silk embroidery in the same craggy designs as the beautiful geometric builds attached to the other figures, but as a whole it feels like it’s missing something. Finally, Sir turns away from it to survey the rest of the room once more.

“There are good bones here,” he announces, his crisp voice the same smooth tones as ever. “Acceptable, but could be improved upon. You’ve done a very good job of melding your aesthetics with those of Fatgum’s, and I approve of that. It speaks highly to your nature that you’re capable in a team capacity. Too many designers think that they can be a one man show, and that simply isn’t the case. Very well. I approve. Fatgum will be given a section of floor 25’s workshop space, and I will have someone sent to help you with the build with more experience.”

Eijirou could faint with relief. He bows quickly. “Thank you, Sir!”

Sir makes a faint noise of acknowledgement. “Fatgum is expanding and I’m interested to see where it goes. Don’t fail.”

“Yes, Sir!”

Sir nods, brisk as ever, and heads for the door. Eijirou has to jog to keep up, and Sir whips out his phone as they take a turn into the elevator and he jabs the button for the 28th floor.

“You will, of course, have paperwork that Fat will need to sign,” Sir says, fingers flying as he starts an email. “There will be many forms, and you will need to start your requisitions from storage right away if Fat isn’t buying more things to outfit the workspace. I expect you to be timely with these forms, as all of the people involved are very busy. Please also send Amajiki-san to speak with me when you see him next, we need to coordinate how best to pin Mirio long enough to get him to go with us to the awards show next month. Please have the forms filled out and returned to my office no later than 4:48 tonight. Your help will arrive in a few days time, I have just the person in mind.”

“Yes, Sir!”

“That’s what I like to hear. The documents have been sent to Fat’s email, do not bother my staff with questions about them.” The elevator door dings, and Sir gently pushes him out onto Fatgum’s floor. Eijirou doesn’t fight him, turning around to look at him. Sir gives him a tiny smile. “Good work today, Kirishima-san.”

The doors close again, and Eijirou takes off running. Nothing like a time limit to get the blood pumping, after all.

Three days later, the new Fatgum studio is getting underway properly, neighboring Hawks and Midnight’s secondary space on the 25th floor. Eijirou’s helping some of the tailors finish moving things when the doors swing open and two very different people step inside.

A brightly smiling blonde considers him, soft hair flipped out and his silk top shining in the fluorescent lights. He’s dressed in the tightest pants Eijirou’s ever seen, high heeled boots on his feet and a scarf around his neck, elegant nails painted with chrome polish. He seems to somehow glitter. Behind him is a frankly enormous bulk of a man, a vogmask in plain, dusty blue pulled over his face to hide his mouth and severe white hair scruffy on top of his head. He has a massive white lab coat on.

“Um,” Eijirou says weakly, looking between the pair. “You’re… from the atelier?”

“Oui,” the blond says, flicking his hair back. “I am Aoyama Yuuga of l'Etoile Epoque, and this is Mezou Shouji, who I met in the elevator. Enchante.”

“I'm in R and D,” Shouji says mildly. “Momo says hi. I’m just here to get some information about the fabric you need.”

“Nice to meet you!”

“Yes, yes, of course. Show me what we are working with, yes?” Aoyama hangs up his bag on the hook, looking around. “Where are your coats?”

Eijirou blinks. “Coats?”

“Oui,” Aoyama says, looking back at him. “The white coats.”

“Uh,” Eijirou manages. He has no idea what Aoyama’s talking about, but he’s going to be doing some frantic googling as soon as he leaves the room. Apparently white coats are a thing he needs to request. “Not… here yet. We’re still getting set up.”

Aoyama looks around, taking in the two arguing tailors setting up tables, someone arranging the mannequins, Amajiki mainlining a massive tray of takoyaki while setting up the computer in the corner, Eijirou’s lime green and neon pink “Here For A Good Time, Not A Long Time” shirt, and Rei trying to wrangle one of the bigger pieces without it knocking her over. “Yes, I can see that. Very well.” He pushes up his arms, and gives Eijirou a dazzling smile. “Well, where would you like me?”

oOo

Haute couture, true haute couture, is protected by law. There are rules and regulations, a specialty club of the rich and famous names that have their own Parisian ateliers, or workshops, on hand to make magic out of fabric. There are laws and ordinances, special shops and clever designers, hundreds of hands all hand stitching garments into something new and incredible. Paris is dotted with endless tiny shops working around the clock as pleaters, embroiderers, jewelers, dye masters, and weavers all work their magic to create works of art. The ateliers work constantly to create the most dazzling pieces for those most exclusive designers, each piece completely unique. Couture, such as it is, is not allowed to use the label of “haute” unless the company wants a lawsuit and fine on their hands.

Eijirou has a hodgepodge collection of seamstresses, former sweatshop workers, tailors, kimono makers, origami master's, and one Japanese-French Parisian reject with a frankly alarming skill at bedazzling things to make a formalwear/pseudo couture collection for a punk fashion label, and wouldn't have it any other way.

With Aoyama there, things change rapidly, yet stay the same. Coats appear, all of them uniform save for names that Aoyama embroiders on them to designate for each person in and out of the office. Fat makes a few trips to the former sweatshops he now owns and safely operates, and returns with a number of people that Aoyama now calls l’petite mains, workers to help with the base work and the delicate nature of it all. Aoyama divides up the little workshop into two sides, the tailored and the detailing, tailleur and flou, organizes tables, arranges mannequins, hangs things, and generally turns the place upside down. Through it all Eijirou, whose focus was always on heavier, mass produced work, is fascinated with his speed of adjustment and takes it in stride.

“We are very behind,” Aoyama tells him as Eijirou inspects the bolts of cloth that has come in for their redoes of the designs. The new mock ups have been made and adjusted, the models in once again for measurements once more and a few new checks. “It is to be expected, as none of you quite knew what you were doing, but still.”

“Yeah,” Eijirou groans, unfolding some velvet to check against a sketch, “I know. I should have just asked for help right away but I got caught up in my head.”

“Do not mistake me, you have done amazing work with just yourself and a few people to help, but now we will truly dig in. You are very invested in this,” Aoyama says mildly, watching as he inspects the fabric. “I mean, I would hope so! But you seem to be thriving here.”

Eijirou runs his fingers over the plush velvet, gnawing at his lip. “Formal wear is important. I mean, I know it’s important because it’s fancy and people notice it and whatever but it’s… Formal wear is a statement. It’s always a statement. And I want people to wear this and feel as badass and manly as possible and just… so ready to kick ass and take names. I want people to have more of a choice in what they wear, I see all this homogenous shit and I’m… I’m just tired of it, man.” He picks up the piece, turning it so the light bounces off of the thick velvet. “There’s a whole world out there of people with bodies that aren’t cookie-cutter shapes and it’s not enough just to design in a one-style-fits-all thing. I might make beautiful things, but I don’t think I’d ever truly do haute couture. Too many rules.”

Aoyama nods, thoughtful. “This has also been my thought. There is a reason I am here and others aren’t. And is this why the clothes are adjustable?”

“Yep! It’s kind of Fatgum’s thing. His clothes are meant to change with the owner, so they can be brought in, let out, adjusted at every stage.” Eijirou sets the velvet down, and looks up at Aoyama, who looks like he has something on his mind. “From the very beginning, from the first fashion week I ever went to, I wanted to make things for everyone, not just some people. I want people to feel manly, and strong, and like they can take on the world the second they put my things on.”

“A beautiful sentiment,” Aoyama says, his voice almost melancholy. “I feel… I feel very similar. I never did design, but I must make adjustments for my body, which is not like others.” He holds up a hand quickly. “I do not wish to talk about it, but it is what it is. I am glad you’re working in such a way.”

“Thank you,” Eijirou says, and together they pull out the next bolts of cloth.

The days blur together, but it’s a Thursday when Aoyama decides it’s time for everything to start coming together and Eijirou to start pulling his weight. He gets in after his coffee run (because despite all the hassle, he loves that little bit of morning routine) and finds that Aoyama has set up a rectangle of wood held together by clamps, with a sheet of mesh tight over it and a few boxes of beads near to a bead spinner.

“Good morning!” Aoyama chirps, eyes gleaming intently. Eijirou thinks longingly of the day when he will one day know sleep again, takes a long drink of his coffee, and trudges over to the resident man-in-charge once he’s grabbed his coat. Staying at Bakugou’s is nice, except for in the early mornings when he has to run to catch the train still sleep deprived. “Today you are going to learn to do beading.”

“Oh god,” Eijirou sighs, but sits down anyway. The others working on the pieces all laugh, used to his antics. The seamstress aunties working on his designs know they can tease him mercilessly and he’ll take it, and honestly, he loves it. He loves the studio, he loves sitting with them and focusing solely on hand stitching for hours, loves the camraderie of being surrounded by all these people and the radio playing as they all gossip together. Aoyama plops the frame in front of him, and shows him a long piece of metal with a sharp needle that has a tiny hook just above the end.

“This,” Aoyama says, passing it to him, “is a tambor hook. You’ve seen them before, yes?”

“Yeah, but I’ve never used one this nice.” Eijirou turns the tool over in his hands, fascinated. “I learned it in school but I didn't do much with it, all of my pieces were more structured and most of my decoration was appliqued. It’s heavy.”

“It is.” Aoyama takes it back, twiddling it between his fingers. “This little tool will make all of our lives easier. And you, mon grand will be getting very good at it. Observe.”

Aoyama settles with his tambour and begins the process. First he spins the bead spinner, slipping a curved needle in to collect them beads up. Then he sets that to the side, starts the thread and begins his work. Eijirou watches, fascinated. Aoyama makes it look as easy as breathing. The tambour flashes as it stabs through the fabric and brings back the thread for a new bead, and he settles in to watch in fascination. The frame holds steady as he works, the black jet beads staying tight to the fabric.

“Amazing,” Eijirou breathes, lighting up. “It’s so fast.”

“Yes,” Aoyama says, tying off a knot. “Alright, let us begin!”

And so Eijirou delves and learns.

Aoyama sits serene and calm as his fingers flash along, the tambour moving lightning fast while Eijirou struggles with a single line of sequins. The day goes on like this, people floating in and out of the workshop to see what’s happening, Rei appearing despite it being her day off to gently tease him when she catches him with his tongue sticking out in concentration. Slowly, Eijirou’s practice piece gets better, and by the time he’s pleased with it he’s frazzled and his hair a mess from tugging at it in frustration.

Which, of course, is when Bakugou walks in.

“You look like a fucking dumpster fire,” he says without preamble as he swaggers up, and Eijirou snorts as he takes the offered coffee that’s shoved at him. “The fuck are you wearing?”

“Hey, this shirt is a classic.” He’ll stand by the ‘Maybe Tomorrow Satan’ shirt until the end of time, even if it does make Aoyama mutter in exasperated French whenever he sees it.

“Are those my pants?”

“Not anymore, they’re not.”

“Asshole,” Bakugou says dryly. “I have a fucking shitton of homework to do, gonna go sit in Yuuei if you need me for anything. Purple Aizawa probably wants me to do paperwork or something anyway.”

Eijirou reels him in to gently kiss his cheek, reveling in how pink he turns. “Okay babe. I’m working on beading!”

Bakugou perks up, interested, and looks over at his set up. “Tambour beading?”

“Yeah!”

“Deku loves that shit, you should ask him to help. I never learned.” He glances over, seeing Aoyama, and says something in rapid French.

Aoyama jerks, lighting up, and responds in kind. Bakugou snorts at whatever he says, drops what sounds like a one liner, and before Eijirou knows what’s happening Bakugou’s slid a crooked finger under his chin to tip his face up and is kissing him deep. It’s no polite kiss goodbye, no little peck. Oh no, Bakugou’s apparently remembered that he has a tongue and a claim and intends to make use of both. By the time he pulls back Eijirou’s head is spinning, and he’s gone red in the face.

“See you at home,” Bakugou purrs, looking him in the eye, and Eijirou nods in dumb silence, stunned. Bakugou glances at Aoyama, dropping a dry, “Je me casse.”

With that, he leaves the room, and Eijirou’s face gets even hotter as the door closes and a chorus of giggles and whistles breaks out.

Aoyama shakes his head, leaning in conspiratorially. “He’s only possessive. Men, tch. But what a beauty! You’re a beautiful pair.”

Eijirou’s face is still bright red but he nods anyway, and only touches his lips when no one else is looking. His smile is probably a bit too sappy.

He shoots a message to Midoriya when he’s dragged up to a meeting, not thinking that anything will come of it, but when he gets back to the workshop he’s surprised to find Midoriya in one of the spare coats and chatting enthusiastically with a clearly already smitten Aoyama.

“Oh, hey, you’re here,” Eijirou says, surprised as he comes back to his station.

Midoriya beams at him, barely even glancing as he beads. “I love doing this! It’s so much fun, thank you for asking for me.” He’s keeping up with Aoyama, barely even looking at his hands. Eijirou stares a little. “You know, I love the glass beads you picked for the detailing on the hems, I think they’re really pretty and they’ll add a lot of weight to the hem so it’ll swing really nicely, are you putting them on the pant legs as well? Or on the sleeve edges? I like that you're not doing latticing, latticing is overdone and these are all really neat designs, oh, and Rei-san said something about going to the fabric district soon, could you let me know if you go because I really need some new chiffon for this one project and keep putting it off. If you're okay with it, of course! I didn't mean to intrude. I love beading so much, chain beading is fun and it’s just such a good aesthetic, don’t you think? I don’t have a ton of time but I’ll swing by to help when I can!”

Midoriya’s already finished an entire row. Eijirou gapes.

Instead of answering, he looks over at Aoyama. “Am I ever going to be that fast?”

“Not if you don’t practice,” Aoyama says, nodding at his tambour.

Eijirou sits down, picks up his tools, and begins again. The room is full of light and laughter, Midoriya’s laugh ringing through the chatter and the radio. On the airwaves a man is singing, warm and rich French ringing through the room with quick snapping words weaving through the late afternoon sunshine coming through the windows. The fabric in his hands is sun warmed, the beads glittering with their myriad of colors. His mouth remembers the shape of a kiss, a warmth against his arms, lingering sweetness despite the bite of jealousy attached.

For just a moment, he closes his eyes, and feels perfectly at home.

Kirishima Eijirou is happy.

Chapter Text

July dawns hot and languid, summer heat dropping heavily into Tokyo with monsoon season sending the humidity skyrocketing. The city is awash with sticky bodies and umbrellas on arms, businessmen trudging along in dark suits and obaa-chan's switching to light yukata to help beat the heat. Flowers wilt in the heat, springing up only when the summer rains rush in to wash the streets.

With the full dawn of the summer comes the last push towards finals, which is why Katsuki has been roped into a study group with the international students at a cluster of tables in a shaded, grassy portion of Toudai's campus. It's mixed bag of students, most of them in the sciences. Papers and books are strewn all over the table.

“Hey, Bakugou-senpai,” Tyrone says as he fills out paperwork, his handwriting neat and elegant whether it's kanji or English, “you taking that film class next semester? The one Dr. Takei’s teaching?”

“Why the fuck would I be taking film?” Katsuki mutters, pointing at his hearing aids. After months of reluctantly going without he’s now wearing them most of the time on campus even if he does keep them turned down. “They never put the subtitles on and it's a fucking subjective medium anyway. Pass. I'm not even going to be in any classes with you lot after this semester.”

That gets their attention. Down the table, Vanya and Masego exchange confused looks, and Siobhan raises an eyebrow.

“What?”

“Why wouldn’t you be with us still?” Masego asks, his rich voice soft with concern. From Botswana, he’s a tall man with rich black skin and a voice that rumbles in the lowest of bass levels, devastatingly handsome. The entire International contingent has been crushing on him since day one. “Has something happened?”

Katsuki shrugs, flipping the pages of his book to get to the next chapter he needs to review. “My advisor stuck me in here, I didn’t apply. I selected my classes late so he just put me where the fuck ever. So next time I’ll be doing normal shit.”

There's a chorus of disappointed sounds from the entire table, and Katsuki blinks, looking around at them. “What?”

Xiǎofāng pouts at him, bracing her chin in her palms, sticking her tongue out at him. She's from Shanghai, and speaks 8 languages. Katsuki refuses to be impressed. “We'd miss you, idiot. You're fun, and you know all the cool places, and if we go anywhere we don't have to worry because you're handsome and intimidating so people leave us alone. It's great.”

“Yeah,” Jessica says, sprawling in her chair as the others nod. “And you always do your work in group projects, you talk back to teachers, you're a good teacher yourself when you stop screaming. We'd miss you.”

Katsuki stares at the group, looking around. “What, all of you?”

“I mean, yeah,” Tyrone laughs. There’s a chorus of nods.

“Huh,” he says blankly. “You’re all fucking nuts.”

He goes pink when the group laughs, and lets Xiǎofāng and Siobhan steal his notes while he considers this. After a few minutes he pulls out his phone and quickly emails his advisor to set up a time to talk about his schedule. Tyrone takes advantage of his distracted state to drag him over with Jessica to look over his essay to be sure he hasn’t used the wrong kanji in places, and Masego starts his check over of Vanya’s math.

“No,” Katsuki groans after a few minutes, pointing to one of the kanji. “Together, these two don’t make sense, you need the same one you used here.”

“Aw, shit, thanks,” Tyrone groans, quickly switching them. Jessica grimaces, grabbing her own laptop to check her kanji.

“Dammit, I did that too.”

His phone buzzes in his pocket before he can harangue her. Katsuki pulls it out, pressing it to his ear. “Yeah?”

Something's come up,” Aizawa’s tinny voice says without preamble. “It's nothing bad, it's probably very good, but can you come in to the office to talk to me today? I don't want to discuss it over the phone.”

Katsuki checks his watch, making a face at the time. Traffic will be hell if he leaves right now, not that Tokyo traffic isn’t always hellish. “When?”

As soon as you can. It's not exactly time sensitive but the sooner we get it done better. Come by when you can, I'll leave my schedule open.”

“I'll head over, I'm done with classes,” Katsuki says, stomach tightening. Something must show on his face, because Jessica looks concerned and the others look up at him. “It’s going to take an hour even if I catch the train on time-”

I really don’t care when you get here, as long as it’s some time today,” Aizawa interrupts. “I’ll be leaving the office at 7 o’clock, get here before then. Yamada’s in crunch.

“Okay,” Katsuki says, fighting down bile. “I’ll be there.”

Good.”

Aizawa hangs up on him, and Katsuki takes a deep breath to keep from yelling at the abruptness of it. Katsuki shoves his phone in his pocket, grabbing his backpack. Siobhan shoves his notes in his hand, eyes wide.

“Is everything okay?” she asks, her accent lilting her words.

“Dunno,” he shrugs, pulling his backpack on. “It’s work, it could be anything. I have to go.”

“Send me your essay later,” Jessica insists, “I’ll look over it.”

“Sure.”

The train is as cramped and crowded as he fears, with a change over in Ikebukuro station that leaves him frazzled and frustrated at best. Katsuki winds up wedging himself between a businessman and a trio of schoolgirls for the second half of his ride, and spends most of his time trying not to fall over into someone. The crowd finally starts thinning a little when they hit Minato ward and when he finally reaches his stop its all he can do not to just run out of the car. He’s well on his way to a panic attack as he finally reaches the All Might building, and in the time that it takes to get to Yuuei Agency’s floor his heart has kicked up speed and bile is gathering in his throat.

Purple Aizawa is there almost the second the elevator doors open.

“Aizawa-san said you’d be coming,” he drawls, and Katsuki bares his teeth at him, long past patience. “Calm down, not my fault you got called in.”

Fuck off,” Katsuki hisses, and Shinsou rolls his eyes, unconcerned.

“Chill. Come on, he’s in with Eri right now, she came for lunch.”

Katsuki calms a little, following Shinsou back through the maze that’s the Yuuei offices to Aizawa’s. Shinsou knocks on the door and steps back. It jerks open almost instantly, a 13 year old girl beaming up at him. Eri is getting tall, her long white hair pulled up in a terribly cute ponytail and a simple headband for decoration. The scar on her forehead is faint, and she’s still dressed in her uniform.

“Shinsou-nii!”

“Hey, Eri,” Shinsou grins, letting her tackle him in a hug. “Come on, Scary-face here has to talk to Aizawa-san.”

“Okay!” Eri runs back in to grab her bag, which is shaped like a very cute apple, and waves at Katsuki with a big smile. “Hi Bakugou-nii! I haven’t seen you in forever!”

“Hey kid,” he says, smiling a little. “Go bother Deku.”

Her eyes light up. “Oooh, can we! Shinsou-nii, can we?”

“Sure,” Shinsou grins. “Let’s go.”

Eri waves and Katsuki waves back before ducking into Aizawa’s office. Eri had been adopted by Aizawa (and by extension, Yamada) when Katsuki and Deku were 16, and she’d been a fixture of the All Might building ever since. Deku and Mirio were closest to her, Mirio especially, but all of the models loved her to pieces and she loved them just as much. Katsuki would probably kill for her.

Aizawa’s at his desk as he closes the door, his desk meticulously cleaned and organized. He’s checking something on his computer, frowning as he clicks something closed and glances at Katsuki.

“Sit down,” Aizawa says flatly. His frown is turning his lips into a thin, hard line. Katsuki does, uncertain.

Aizawa turns away from the computer, lacing his fingers together and looking down at his hands. Silence falls, Katsuki’s heart in his throat.

“Before I say anything else,” Aizawa says, looking up at him, “let me say this. I’ve been working with you for a long time now, pretty close to ten years. I think I’ve seen a good part of your life and been a part of it. I know what kind of sacrifices you’ve made. I know what kind of work you’ve put in, what you’re capable of. I’m proud of you. I am… I am very proud.”

Katsuki blinks. “What the fuck, are you dying? Am I dying?”

“What? No,” Aizawa snorts, shaking his head. “I just want you to know all of that before I put this in front of you. Bakugou, you've sacrificed a lot. I don't like the idea of you sacrificing even more. That being said...”

He pulls a folder from one of his inboxes and passes it over to him. It's sleek and black, with a very familiar name embossed in glossy white across the front. Katsuki stares.

He opens the folder, taking out a sheet of paper. There's the usual pleasantries, a few notes about his more impressive stints in modeling, a quick cover of the company’s mission statement and then… an offer. A very fucking big offer.

Katsuki stares. He stares some more. He counts the number of digits in the number written, and then counts it again. Finally, he looks up and croaks, “What?”

“You have a fan,” Aizawa says, standing up and walking around the desk to lean on it. “Someone in their offices is very interested in getting you. If you were anyone else, I would have accepted the minute this hit my desk. The prestige, the money... This is a retirement fund. You’d be set for ten years, if you managed your money right.”

The offer is thus; A year as the face of one of the best known high class menswear companies in the world, for the small price of living in the States for a year and jet setting around to various locations for shoots and promotion. He’s to be put up in an apartment in New York, though the company is willing to negotiate on a different location. There will be banquets, photos, red carpets, and a ridiculous amount of press. The money is incredible, the opportunity insane, and...

And Katsuki would be alone. He'd have to put a hold on school, take another year off. He'd only see Kirishima maybe once or twice in that time, maybe if there were layovers in Japan. He'd be away from all of his friends, his- his family. He'd be trapped in an act for a solid year.

It sounds like hell. But it’s an incredible opportunity.

Katsuki looks up at Aizawa. “I don’t know.”

“I know,” Aizawa says, quiet. “You don’t have to make a decision right away, in fact I’d probably be mad if you did. Think about it, hard. You’d be giving up a lot no matter what you choose, and I want you to be comfortable with your decision.”

Katsuki looks down at the folder, frowning.

“Hey, I mean it. Take some time,” Aizawa says seriously. He crouches down so he’s looking into Katsuki’s face. “I want you to talk to different people about it too. Yagi, Hakamata, maybe your therapist if you have the time to go in. They don’t need an answer for two weeks. I hate that this came up so close to your exams, but... “

Katsuki shrugs, looking down at the folder. The name on it seems to shimmer from the overhead lights reflection, alluring and sickly all at once. Katsuki almost wants to rip the folder to shreds and toss it across the room. The papers would fly, perhaps catching on the bookshelves and the lights, dancing around the room like so many oversized snow flakes. Instead, he puts it carefully in his backpack.

Aizawa straightens up. “No matter what you choose, I’m not going to be angry. You’ve done good.”

“Sure.” Katsuki definitely doesn’t feel like someone good right now. He just feels rattled. “...Am I good to go?”

Aizawa nods, and watches him go.

He gets in the elevator and hits the button for the 25th floor without even thinking, his feet falling into the familiar path to Kirishima’s studio. He flashes his fob to be let in and steps into the space to find Eri sitting with Deku near the window, tongue sticking out as she tries to work the tambour needle like he is. French-Sparkle-Guy is working on a gown, pins in his mouth as he adjusts the hem. Kirishima’s nowhere in sight.

Rei walks around the corner, smiling when she sees him. “Ah, Bakugou-kun, you just missed him! Kirishima-kun was called up to a meeting.”

Shit.

“Oh.”

Deku waves him over, and Katsuki nods to Rei before going to him. Eri whoops as she ties off the thread of her beading. Deku smiled indulgently and sends her to show it to French-Sparkle-Guy.

You okay? You look stressed,” Deku signs to him so no one can “listen” in. Katsuki refuses to feel grateful.

Some shit came up. I don’t know yet. I’ll tell you about it some other time, I need to go.

Deku frowns, but nods. “Okay. Let me know if I can help.

Fuck off.”

Deku grins and waves him out the door, Eri insisting on a high-five that he gives her before he leaves. Katsuki reaches the front door of the building and pulls out his phone.

Text to: Kirishima Eijirou!!!
Turning my phone off, i’m going to aunties
Just need to disconnect for a bit, I’m okay
Love you

He turns his phone off and gets back on the train. Nerima is a good distance away but he barely feels the time, his mind still whirring and sluggish all at once as he walks through the familiar old neighborhood to Auntie’s door. He doesn’t bother knocking, just uses his key to let himself in. There’s cheerful music in the air and the smell of good food. His heart eases a little.

“Hey, Auntie,” Katsuki calls, kicking off his shoes.

“Katsuki-kun, this is a surprise!” Inko bustles into the hallway, beaming at him. Her smile is near blinding “Hello! Come, come, I was just making dinner. It’s not much, but-”

“Auntie, your food is always good,” Katsuki grumbles, brushing past her to set the table for them. Inko trails after him, smiling.

They eat, talking about nothing and anything. Inko's good at conversation, always has been, and the weight of the day eases as she tells him about all the strange things she's been dealing with at her work. Katsuki tells her about class, and when they've finished he scoops up their plates to wash rather than let her do it. Inko holds up her hands in surrender, smiling. It's an old argument that she never wins.

He hums as he works, a half forgotten melody that stirs somewhere in the very back of his mind. He can only just barely remember the fragments, the lyrics themselves lost to time.

He finishes the dishes and turns. Inko's standing there, eyes a little wet and her face pale. She looks as if she's seen a ghost.

“Oh!” Inko almost drops her sewing box, flustered.

“Huh? What is it, Auntie?”

Inko pushes her hair behind her ear. “Ah, it's- it's nothing. It's just been a very long time since I've heard that song is all.” She hesitates before adding, “When your parents had just started dating, Mitsuki used to sing that all the time. It was their wedding song.”

Katsuki frowns. “I can stop-”

“No, no,” Inko insists, smiling. “It's a beautiful song. I've missed it. There's so many happy memories to that song.”

“What's it called?”

Nella Fantasia,” Inko says. “It's a very gentle, loving song.”

“Italian?”

“Yes, the lyrics are beautiful. Your father had an arrangement written so they could duet it together.” Inko turns away, heading for the couch, and Katsuki's left standing in the kitchen.

And… now he's thinking about it, Inko knew his mother and had her longer than anyone else. Long before his father, Inko had been there, lived with her, loved her.

Inko sits down with her sewing, this time a lovely little bag that she’s hand stitching together. Katsuki joins her on the couch, pulling his knees up to his chest as he tucks himself in the corner.

“...How did you deal with losing her?”

Inko jolts, turning to look at him. They stare at each other for a moment before Katsuki can’t bear it and looks down at his knees. He hears Inko sigh, the soft click as she puts the bag aside.

“I won’t pretend it wasn’t difficult,” she says, quiet. “Mitsuki and I knew each other for so long, and I… I loved her very much. I think that’s part of why I couldn’t bear to turn you away. You might not like to hear this, but I see a lot of her in you, the good bits that you’ve spent such time cultivating. You both work so hard, fight to deserve every scrap of space that someone will willingly give you. I think that was what helped the most. It was like walking back in time every time I came home and saw you and Izuku in the kitchen together. We lived together for so long, all the way up to her wedding and when- and when Hisashi happened it really was Mitsuki who kept me alive and sane.”

Katsuki looks up. Inko’s hands are in her lap, her face drawn. She looks older than he’s ever seen her, more weighed down and tired.

“But somewhere my friend changed,” Inko says, twisting her hands. “It happens. Everybody changes with time. She grew louder and more frustrated and I got quieter, a little weaker. We drifted until when you came here she was only the echo of a person I once knew. I had to be a little ruthless to deal with those painful thoughts. But I got through it, because I had a piece of her still, all the best pieces, and my memories were untainted.”

Katsuki looks at her hands. “I think it bothers D- Izuku that I don't hate her. I don't know how I feel about her.”

“You don't have to,” Inko says. “For all his flaws, I can't hate Hisashi. He gave me Izuku, after all. And I could never hate Izuku. But Hisashi is a terrible man, there's no denying that. Mitsuki, no matter how we feel, is human. Nothing more, nothing less. She's a person who made mistakes, large and painful mistakes, and we all have to live with the consequences. Our lives are always tangled with others. You don't have to forgive her. You don't have to justify loving her. You're allowed to be confused about how how you feel.”

Katsuki nods, leaning into the couch. “How do you feel about her?”

Inko sighs, leaning back and looking up at the ceiling. “I'm angry. Mostly I'm angry that I didn't see this coming. I'm sad, disappointed. Hurt, a bit. And deep, deep down, in a locked away box in my heart, there's the love I can't quite give up and never could.”

“That really fucking sucks, Auntie.”

Inko laughs, mouth curving into a little smile. “Yes, it does. Ah, the things we sacrifice for happiness.”

Katsuki's heart drops, and he gets up from the couch to go dig the folder out of his bag. He comes back to the living room, heart heavy. Inko looks up at him, confused.

Katsuki hands her the folder. “Read it.”

Inko takes it, eyebrows shooting up when she sees the name on the cover. She hesitates for just a moment before opening it and taking the papers out, the offer letter on the top. Katsuki sits back down on the couch, lacing his fingers together to keep for reaching for something to light. The silence of the room is complete and absolute save for the ticking of the clock on the wall. Katsuki stares into space as she reads the page, and then reads it again.

Finally, gently, she sets the papers back in their folder. She says nothing, clasping her hands together as she stares at the folder.

“I am so sorry, Katsuki,” she says at last, her voice utterly heartbroken.

Katsuki’s shoulders slump. If anyone is going to get the weight of this, it’s Inko.

“I don't know what to do,” Katsuki says, looking down at his clasped hands. “The money and the opportunity, it's fucking amazing, I just… I don't want to do it. I don't want to put off school another year, I don't want to leave everybody again. I don't- I don't what to leave my stupid boyfriend. But it's a fucking once in a lifetime thing, so I should do it. Right?”

Inko sets down the papers, reaching over to gently take his hands. “Katsuki-kun, let me give you the same words of wisdom someone once gave me. Sometimes in life there are no bad choices. Sometimes, there are only choices that bring good outcomes, better outcomes, and the best of all outcomes. You have to be the one to decide what best means to you. We, your family and your friends, can advise you with our biased answers and our hopes for your best life, but in the end, you are the one who walks your own path. The choice is ultimately going to be yours, and I'm proud of you either way.”

Katsuki's mouth wobbles, and Inko pulls him into a ferocious hug.

Katsuki thinks about Inko's advice all the way home. It's not until he's opening the door to his apartment that he realizes that in all this time, he hasn't once questioned if he and Eijirou would be able to make it work with such a distance. There's not even a question of it in his heart, no lingering fear. Kirishima would wait, and he knows it.

There are touches of Eijirou everywhere in his apartment now, casual things that make his heart swell. A mug Eijirou bought, a new blanket on the couch, a little cactus on the dining table. There are clothes in the closet, a drawer emptied and refilled. There are two chairs on the balcony now, not just one.

Katsuki sighs, hanging his coat over the back of one of the dining table chairs. His eye catches on a sleek black spiral notebook sitting on top of his papers.

Katsuki frowns, picking the book up. It’s not his, probably something of Eijirou's. He flips it open. Sketches greet him, stylish little designs on faceless bodies. Katsuki turns the pages, immediately entranced. The clothes are beautiful and functional, their models a wide variety of shapes to match their different looks. He turns another page and nearly drops the book.

It’s a sketch of him. He’s sitting cross-legged on the floor, frowning as he looks over a bunch of papers. His hearing aids are in, his chin resting on his hand as he looks at everything. It’s a simple little sketch, the pencil lines light and loose. It’s been drawn with such care and devotion to detail, and Katsuki’s heart twists in his chest.

He snaps the book shut, holding it tight as he jogs to his bedroom and goes to the tiny, fireproof safe hidden behind shoeboxes in the closet. He puts the book inside, grabbing his phone and quickly calling Kirishima.

Kirishima picks up almost immediately. “Bakugou! You never call, are you okay?

“I'm fine, but you're an idiot.”

Uh-

Katsuki stands up, putting the shoe boxes back in front of the safe. “You left your sketchbook on the damn table. What if someone had broken in? Don't leave that shit lying around.”

Bakugou, it's fine! Who would even think to take a notebook?

Katsuki rolls his eyes. His tongue feels sharper than normal when he snaps, “Idiot, your work is intellectual property now. Fatgum owns your ass, and everything you create for them. Someone steals that shit and you'll be ruined.”

There's a long pause and then a faint, “Oh. Oh shit, I didn't even think about that.

“Yeah, oh shit,” Katsuki echoes back, shaking his head. “Take better care of your shit. I put it in the safe, come get it tonight. You should get a safe too.”

Yeah, probably… Hey, uh… You okay?

Katsuki hesitates a beat too long. “I'm fine. I'll see you later.”

Yeah, uh- okay. See you.”

Katsuki hangs up, and goes to the hall closet. He pulls out his box of supplies, cleans off the dining table, and takes out a small, humanoid wire figure and multiple half burned sealing wax sticks. A box of long matches follow, and Katsuki takes a deep breath before flicking his thumbnail over the head. It lights immediately, and Katsuki takes another shaking breath before pressing it to the wick. The wick catches and burns.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to the feeling of watching the flame. The fire is entrancing, seductive in it's movements. Katsuki knows, in the rational depths of his mind that has dealt with years of therapy, that the sight of the flame is a trigger tied to serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline for him. It's a heady cocktail that his body feeds him. It's partially tempered by the cocktail of meds he takes, but addiction is addiction. It's instant relief and gratification, and Katsuki takes a few steadying breaths to keep himself from throwing the lit wick at the box of matches.

Instead, he balances the wax over the figure and begins to watch it drip.

It's an unconventional treatment. Katsuki's pyromania had been so ingrained by the time he was 11, and so incapable of controlling his stressors that it was deemed something he would only be able to manage, not fully break. After the years with Sludge, he'd grown worse, and by the time of the accident he was made of nothing so much as built up stress and fire in his skin. His therapist had thrown the idea of a “cure” out the window, and presented him with the idea of a controlled burn instead- something productive, not destructive.

The wax drips along the limbs of the little figure. Katsuki has to take care to build up enough wax to carve it into a small statue. Once the statue is complete he'll take it to his therapist, and they'll set it on fire together.

He can't be fixed. He can't be cured. But he can manage it. He can work to decrease his stress, he can burn things before the stress builds up and it explodes out of him. He can handle it.

And damn, if it doesn't feel good.

Eijirou gets back to the apartment four hours later. The box is hidden away again, and Katsuki has strewn his books, papers, and laptop on the dining room table so he can work on studying. His essay has already been sent off to Jessica for proofreading and he's buried in math problems.

“Hey,” Eijirou murmurs, kissing his temple. “How’s it going?”

“Ugh,” Katsuki manages, turning another page. His glasses slide down his nose and he shoves them back up, glaring at the page. His contacts had started to ache and he'd been forced to switch them out. “Going to be studying for at least another hour.”

“Okay,” Eijirou says, kissing him again. “Come to bed when you’re done, don’t sleep on the couch again.”

“Yeah.”

“I love you.”

Katsuki looks up at him, startled. Eijirou’s smiling, but there’s something uncertain about it. Katsuki reaches over to take his hand, pulling it in to kiss the back. Eijirou lets out a shaky breath, and Katsuki looks back up to see that his smile has turned more genuine.

“I love you too,” he says simply.

Later, he climbs into bed with his boyfriend and immediately burrows into his arms. Eijirou stirs sleepily, rolling over so Katsuki can pillow his head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat.

“Study’s okay?” Eijirou mumbles, absently patting at his hair.

“Yeah. Go back to sleep.”

“Mkay…”

In seconds Eijirou’s asleep again, and Katsuki is left in the silent darkness with only his thoughts for company.

oOo

Katsuki likes to think he's good at rolling with surprises. That being said, the next day tests his preconceived notions. Two pop quizzes, a train breakdown, a lab failure, Vanya twisting an ankle, a broken shoelace, and a forgotten bento later, Katsuki is ready to kill the next person to so much as pop out of a door at the wrong time.

But the biggest surprise is yet to come.

He gets out of his last class feeling like his head has had a train blast through it. Masego claps him on the shoulder before jogging off to catch up with Jessica, who looks like she's about to start praying for divine intervention. Katsuki's not far behind her. He staggers through the building in search of the water fountain. It's in a strange spot, almost hidden away on the second floor of the building he's in. He finally finds it, drinks enough that he feels slightly human again, and heads down the hall. He turns a corner to see one of his former professors talking with a tall woman.

“Thank you for speaking to our students, Dr. Kayama,” the professor is saying. “Your insights and your speeches are always so motivating!”

“As long as I don't bore them to sleep!”

The pair laugh, bow. The professor goes back in his room and the woman turns around to meet Katsuki face to face.

“Ohhhhh shit,” Kayama Nemuri says. She's dressed in a simple black skirt and white top, hair pulled up neatly and her cateye glasses simple. Her heels are positively demure. It is, hands down, the most normal Katsuki has ever seen her look. “Hi, Bakugou-kun.”

“The fuck,” Katsuki says blankly, staring at her. He glances around, seeing no one else in the hall. “Is this some sort of weird fetish thing?”

Kayama blinks, then bursts out laughing. “This is why I like you, kid, you’re hilarious. I don't have you around near enough. Come on, let's go hit the Dotour. Sit with me and I’ll tell you all about it.”

“A doctorate,” Katsuki says, 20 minutes later and 400 yen poorer. He stares at her. “You have a doctorate. In biomedical engineering. And people actually let you guest lecture.”

“That’s right,” Kayama says, toasting him with her tea. “Graduated top of my class, too.”

“Then why the hell are you a designer?”

Kayama’s smile softens a little, and she looks down at her cup. “My parents were… rigid people. Painfully so. I had loved fashion since I was little, and loved BDSM even before I knew what it was. I was a stupid little kid still when I went off to school, and my parents insisted I go into the medical field. I did, but while I was in college I got involved with underground clubs. I knew how to sew, so I made my own things, worked with people who created garments meant for that sort of thing.” She hesitates before adding, “And I found my partner, then. It’s a long story. Anyway, I was getting really good by the time I finished my bachelors. I really did love chemical engineering, I just loved design too. I went back to school for a masters, focusing my studies on pheromones. I’d made friends with Yamada and Aizawa then, we all went to school together, and Aizawa had developed awful insomnia. I wondered if there was a way to help that wouldn’t involve him having to take medicine orally, since he has trouble with it. Also a long story, don’t ask.”

Katsuki nods, enthralled in spite of himself. Kayama glances at him before continuing on.

“Anyway. I ran a number of experiments with pheromones, with some very good success rates, and decided I wanted a doctorate with it too. Meanwhile, I was also running a very successful side business with my designs. People loved them. The punk community ate them up, too, and I was even getting overseas requests. I made enough money to pay others to make them, and then…” She grimaces, burying her face in her hands. “I was a month from graduating with my doctorate when Sir approached me about being bought by All Might. He made an incredible offer, and I… I saw my whole life stretch out in front of me. I could do something I loved, I was wanted for something I loved. So I said yes. I was bought out, but kept on. I became a full time designer. But…”

“But?” Katsuki prompts.

Kayama straightens up, grinning at him. “But at that point, I was one of the foremost researchers on sleep therapy through pheromone means. I was still in demand, and people still wanted me involved with clinical trials and things like that, if only to consult. So… I went for it. You don’t work for my office so you’d never know but I don’t work Tuesdays or Thursday’s after 12 o’clock. I’ve arranged my life in such a way that I can work from home on Saturdays, and during the week I can come in if I’m needed to do trials. For the most part I’m a consultant here. I’m not a full time researcher, that would be impossible, but I do what I can and when I can.”

“Damn,” Katsuki says, leaning back in his seat. “When the fuck do you sleep?”

“Sleep,” Kayama muses, tapping her chin with one long fingernail. “No, don't think I've heard of it.”

Katsuki snorts, grinning in spite of himself.

Kayama leans back, considering him. “So, chemistry huh?”

“Yeah.” He shrugs. “I like it.”

“What do you want to get out of it?”

Katsuki blinks, looking back at her. Kayama sips her tea, smiling. “The fuck does that mean?”

“Just what I said. What does chemistry give you that modelling doesn't? You get something out of everything in life, but what is it about chemistry that gives you more fulfillment?”

Katsuki frowns at his cup. “Dunno if I've ever thought about it, really.”

“When you get a moment, think about it,” she says as she picks up her cup again. “You'll be a whole lot happier when you figure out your answer. And come see me when you can so we can talk shop!”

“Pass.”

Kayama laughs, and Katsuki looks back at her.

“If you had a chance to do something big-”

Kayama holds up her hand. “Oh no no no, don't talk hypotheticals when you have a real question or concern. It's better for everyone involved.”

Katsuki nods, appreciative of her bluntness, and tells her about the offer and his dilemma. Kayama listens attentively. Their tea grows colder and colder.

“I think,” Kayama says when he's explained it all, “that you already know the answer.”

“I just told you I don't.”

Kayama shakes her head, drumming her fingers on her leg. “You do. You know what you want and what you need. You know what you're working towards. You know what makes you happy. You've accepted you'll have to sacrifice either way. Now you just have to actually make the sacrifice and commit to your choice. So, Bakugou Katsuki… are you ready to do it?”

oOo

In the end, Katsuki should have known that hiding the papers wouldn't work. He's too comfortable in his space and too frazzled by his approaching exams to commit to keeping things under lock and key. He slips up after a long day of studying, his backpack contents strewn bodily over the dining table when Eijirou comes home late from an izakya visit with his co-workers.

“Kaaaatsuki,” Eijirou sings, swanning into the room. Katsuki, finishing cleaning up his dinner, snorts in amusement. “Hello my handsome man! My beautiful boyfriend! Love of my life!”

“You're in a good mood,” Katsuki drawls, letting Eijirou manhandle him into a hug. He's never going to admit how nice he finds it that Eijirou's so strong. “And clingy.”

“I missed you,” Eijirou coos, and Katsuki gives in without a fight when Eijirou kisses him, deep and possessive. Eijirou's hands are hot on his waist, his body pressing in tight, and Katsuki's a little dizzy when he pulls back.

“Hi,” he breathes.

“Hey,” Eijirou purrs. “I haven't seen you near enough this week.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki manages, head whirling. Maybe he'll finally take Eijirou up on his offer of blowjobs tonight, if this mood keeps up. “How was dinner?”

“Good! It was really fun, and Fat-san took us to a dry restaurant because Aoyama isn't supposed to drink very much, I think he said it was a medical thing? Anyway they had these super cool like, uh, what's the word… mocktails! Like virgin drinks. I've had so much sugar, you would not BELIEVE how good they were, we have to go sometime. Oooh, and they had really good takoyaki, Amajiki-senpai ate like, everything. Can I move your stuff so I can get a report typed up for Fat?”

“Sure,” Katsuki says, pulling out storage boxes to put the leftovers in.

“Thanks!”

Katsuki smiles as Eijirou starts whistling, clattering around the room. He loves his boyfriend more than he can stand sometimes.

“What the… Hey, Katsuki…”

Katsuki turns to see Eijirou gaping at the paper from the folder. The folder which is now sitting on top of his papers. The folder which has a very famous brand name emblazoned on it.

Fuck.

“Katsuki, this is incredible!” Eijirou says, looking up with a huge smile. Katsuki's heart clenches. “How long have you known about this? A full year abroad, and the money… holy shit. A year apart will be hard but I'm so down, this is amazing. Oh my god, wow, this is so cool-”

“I'm not doing it,” Katsuki says, scraping the scraps into the trash. His skin is crawling, he feels like he's overdue shedding it off and sprouting wings to fly away from this. He puts the plate in the sink.

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“Katsuki, you can't just turn this down-”

Katsuki rounds on him, teeth bared in genuine annoyance now. “I can, and I will. It's not worth it.”

Eijirou gapes at him. “Not- what are you talking about?”

“At the end of the day, it’s a job, okay? A good paying job, sure, but it's just a job. I'm real fucking good at what I do.” Katsuki turns around again and braces his arms on the counter, staring at the backsplash. “Y'know what a natural born genius is?”

Eijirou makes a confused noise behind him. “What?”

“It's when someone's supposedly naturally talented at shit right off the bat. People used to go on and on about how I was just so naturally good at everything. I can paint, I pick up instruments easy, I grasped cooking real young and I have a good memory. I know lots of languages. But I work damn hard at all of it. I work so fucking hard. I practice languages all the time to keep it sharp, I cook almost daily, I do memory exercises and I go to symposiums, and I fucking work to keep myself sharp. And the same is true with modeling. I work at it to improve, but it comes easily to me.”

“Okay…?”

Katsuki turns around, crossing his arms over his chest. “Chemistry isn’t like that for me. It makes sense but I have to work at it. It never stops being fun, because it’s a puzzle. Chemistry makes me happy. Modeling is a job, Chemistry is my joy.”

Eijirou looks back down at the paper, sitting down hard. “I get that, but… Katsuki, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is so much money, you can’t just give it up.”

Katsuki walks over to the table and picks up a notebook and pen, writing something down, and pushes it over to him when done. In bold black letters is a series of numbers. 5,430,810.

Eijirou looks up at him, clearly confused. “What?”

“That’s how much money I lost the day I left my parents house,” Katsuki says, nodding at the paper. “Five million, four hundred and thirty-two thousand, eight hundred and ten yen, which translates to US five hundred thirty two thousand, eight hundred and ten. Half a million dollars US. That's what I gave up when I left. I know my fucking worth. I was very successful as a child model. Don’t you dare tell me what I can stand to give up.”

“But-”

“Will you fucking listen to me,” Katsuki snaps, and Eijirou recoils a little in surprise. Katsuki crosses his arms, glaring at him. “I know what it means to give something like this up. I’m not doing it for you. I’m not doing it for Deku, or Auntie, or even Yagi. I love you, but you’re not a fucking factor here. I’m doing this for me. I’m doing it because it’s what’s right for me, personally, and I don’t need your fucking judgement on top of how shitty this feels to do.”

The fight goes out of Eijirou’s shoulders, and Katsuki bristles a little as he stands up from the table and steps forward.

“I’m sorry.”

Katsuki stares, stunned. He’s expected more fighting, more anger and sharpness, but Eijirou just nods, calm again. “What?”

“I’m sorry,” Eijirou repeats earnestly. He looks back down at the papers. “This has really been weighing on you, hasn't it? I got caught up in the moment, and I was wrong. I should have just trusted you and accepted it the first time around.”

Katsuki wants to flounder, his heart still pounding way too fast. He still wants to fight, body singing with adrenaline, but Eijirou’s the picture of calm now. “Oh.”

Eijirou looks back at him, frowning a little at his tense body. “...You wanna spar?”

“Fuck yes,” Katsuki blurts out, relieved. A safe way to work out the stress of a fight stopped early? Thank fuck.

He changes into shorts and a tank top, not letting his eyes linger as Eijirou hunts clothes out of his own drawer and gets changed. They head down to the little sparring room in the gym.

Katsuki wraps his hands, still shaking a little as Kirishima strips off his shirt and flicks it into a corner, stretching. They’ve both gotten a tiny bit softer from a lack of time to train, but it’s barely noticeable. All the same, Katsuki silently vows to get back to work before Aizawa gets after him. Kirishima starts stretching, Katsuki following along until they’re both warmed up.

“You said you did hung gar, right?” Katsuki says when they both stand up.

“That’s right,” Kirishima says, grinning at him as he drops into a strong, wide legged stance. “Classically trained. I spent four years doing nothing but learning how to stand properly.”

“Sounds boring.”

“You learn a lot about yourself, standing in position for hours at a time. Bit better than your weird homebrew mix.” Kirishima’s eyes spark and his hands move lightning fast into position. “C’mon, Katsuki. I’m waiting.”

Katsuki curses, and launches himself at him. Two seconds later and he's been tossed halfway across the room. He gets back up, staring, and Kirishima smirks.

“What?” He taunts, flicking his hands up to beckon like Katsuki's a dog. “Bring it.”

Katsuki growls and rushes him again.

Kirishima’s an absolute rock against all of his attacks. Katsuki can barely, rarely get him off balance, he just swings right back into his stance and slams his hands here and there to flip him, toss him, and easily send him rolling. He blocks with ease, and Katsuki finally backs up, breathing hard. Kirishima's shiny with sweat but still breathing easy.

“What the fuck,” he gasps out, sweat dripping off his face.

Kirishima shrugs, straightening up out of his stance. “I'm good at defense. You didn't bait me into attacking, or you would have had a better shot. Work smarter, not harder and all that!”

“Good to know.” Katsuki straightens up, feeling much better. The adrenaline has been put to good use, his muscles are feeling good, and the anger is gone. “You should fight Deku, he's a workout. Fucking shitty little rabbit, he likes jumping and kicking.”

“Oooh, fun. But it's more fun seeing you all hot and bothered.”

Katsuki's face flames and he immediately throws his entire gym bag at Kirishima face as Kirishima laughs. The laugh fades out, and Katsuki busies himself unwrapping his hands to help ignore his blush.

“Hey, Katsuki?”

“Yeah?”

Kirishima fiddles with the straps of the bag. “So this week… when you were mad, it wasn't actually at me, right? You seemed really frustrated that day you called about my sketchbook, I was. I was kind of worried.”

Guilt bubbles up. Katsuki reaches out, taking Kirishima's hand. Kirishima won't meet his eyes.

“It wasn't you. I was stressed and didn't want to tell you about the offer until I had thought about it more, and I lost my temper a bit. I'm- fuck, I'm sorry. I don't want to make you feel like that, I'll work harder on this whole communication thing.” Katsuki steps in closer, and Kirishima pulls him into a hug.

“Thanks,” Kirishima sniffles, and Katsuki hugs him tight. “I should've just asked but… old habits.”

“Shitty ex-boyfriends?”

“Yeah.” Kirishima nods against his shirt. “A few of them were… not violent to me? But they'd break my stuff when they got angry. None of them ever laid hands on me, but one of them, he’d rile me up with until we were in a screaming match and I hated it so much. I don't like being angry, I just want to work stuff out in a safe way.”

Katsuki kisses the side of his head, fighting down his own anger. “I'm sorry.”

“No! I know you have a temper, and so do I, but the difference between you and them is you actually work on it!” Kirishima pulls back, eyes a little watery but his face set and fierce. Katsuki loves him. “Anger's a part of being human. You're loud and crass and sharp and I love those things about you. But I love most of all that you care, and you'll work with me. We can be angry and let it out safely, we can argue without someone getting hurt. I don't want things to fester, I want us to fix it together. And yeah, we have a long way to go until we're perfectly in sync, but who cares? I love you, and I want to meet you in the middle and walk on even footing forever.”

Katsuki surges up to kiss him, grabbing his face, and Kirishima wraps his arms around him to hold him there.

Marry me, he wants to say. Marry me and stay with me forever.

But there's a long road ahead of them before that. He just can't wait to see what it looks like together.

“I love you,” he says when they break apart. “More than anything on this stupid little rough in space. Kirishima Eijirou, I love you.”

Kirishima's smile is a sunrise in human form.

Kayama was right. He always knew what he wanted.

Chapter Text

Finals week hits Bakugou like a hammer made of expectations and exhaustion. Eijirou, drowning in work and now free of his intern label, barely has a moment to think but does his best to support his very stressed boyfriend. Tea is made, food is prepped, tempers are soothed, and matches and lighters carefully taken away to keep the whole house from going up as Katsuki fiddles with them. He’s working hard in spite of the stress, and Eijirou’s happy to help him any way he can.

Even if it means being shaken awake in the middle of the night.

Eijirou flails awake as he's violently jostled, blinking bleary eyes. Katsuki’s face is way too close, the bags under his eyes truly magnificent. A slightly crossed-eyed glance at the clock tells him it's 4 am. “Huh? Babe?”

“BDSM-designer-aunt, do you have her number?” Katsuki demands.

“...What?” Eijirou stares at him, and then the words reach his brain. “Oh! Kayama-san?”

“Yes! Her number, do you have it?”

“Uh, no...I have her LINE though, you need her for something?” Eijirou yawns, barely awake. “You can use my phone.”

“Fucking great, I need help on statics, this paper is due by noon and I’m about two pages from done.”

Eijirou blinks. “You mean statistics?”

“Nope.”

“...Okay. Why statics though, you’re in chemistry...” He flops back down, listening to the dulcet tones of Katsuki furiously cursing as he unplugs Eijirou's phone and runs out the door. There's a crashing noise, followed by even more cursing.

Ah, finals week. He does not in any way miss it.

The dawn breaks and with it, Eijirou rises (again). He drags on a kilt and his shorts, pulls on a shirt with a cartoon kitten dangling from a branch telling the word to "hang in there!", and heads to the bathroom for hair care. About half his wardrobe is currently in Katsuki's closet, which should probably make him more antsy than it does. He doesn't mind much though.

Hair spiked, socks for his boots selected, and a leather bracelet slapped on, he heads for the living area.

It looks like a paper bomb has gone off. Katsuki's been up most of the night studying, feverishly working through all of his notes and his lab reports, and there are a few different research books tossed around. The man himself is at the dining table. Katsuki's eyes are a little crazed, and there's three cups of tea in various stages of being drunk scattered around him. The laptop on the table declares that as of about 30 seconds previous, his paper has been submitted.

“I'm going to die and be reborn as a bird so I can shit on the heads of my professors," he announces.

“I- You know, I don’t actually know enough about Buddhism to argue with you. It’s been that good, huh?”

“I will ascend in a cloud of fury,” Katsuki says, hand shaking as he picks up a cup of tea. It looks cold. “I'll ride victorious. Witness me.”

“Ooookay Rockatansky-san,” Eijirou laughs, carefully prying the mug out of his hands. “Trust me on this, you'll feel less like you're dying if you go to bed and get some sleep for tomorrow. Today. Some sleep, anyway.”

“I welcome death and the endless cycle of vengeance that awaits.”

“Okay, babe.”

Katsuki's eyes are slightly unfocused as he swings his head to look at him. “You. Are so fucking hot. And I love you. Also your dick, which is weird because dicks are weird, but I'm a big fucking fan of yours. You’re perfect and I think you might be the best thing that ever happened to me. Don’t let me fuck it up, you are so- so good. I just wanna squish you, all the time.”

Eijirou gapes at him.

Katsuki sways in his seat for a few seconds and then abruptly says, “Bed. Yep.” He launches to his feet and heads for the bedroom.

Eijirou smothers a laugh as he follows Katsuki to the bedroom, pulling the sheets up as Katsuki faceplants in bed. Katsuki fumbles Eijirou's phone back into his hand before shoving his face into Eijirou's pillow and rubbing his face on it like some sort of cat. The exhaustion is definitely getting to him. Eijirou smooths a hand over his back and Katsuki sighs, going limp. Maybe Eijirou should find some way to pamper him a little soon.

"Sleep well," Eijirou says, kissing the top of his head.

Katsuki grunts, lifting his hand to give him the ASL shorthand sign of 'I love you' before starting to snore. Eijirou grins, carefully forming his fingers into the same sign. It’s the only piece of ASL that Katsuki’s taught him, and he cherishes it.

He doesn't have to, but he still fetches the coffee for the office on his way into work. It's become a comforting routine. Tetsutetsu, now hired on with Cementoss instead of Fourth Kind, joins him, Jirou, Kayama, and Todoroki in the elevator. Todoroki's on the phone and looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. He seems to be having a quiet argument with someone about a bathtub, and that provides more questions than answers.

"Morning, Kirishima," Kayama says, smiling. "I was a bit surprised to be hearing from you so early, but I guess Bakugou just took your phone?"

Eijirou laughs, keeping an eye on Todoroki's steadily growing mask of false serenity. He seems about five seconds away from murder. "Yeah, he was up all night. He woke me up to ask for your number so I just told him to use your LINE."

"Smart choice. Oh, Jirou, please see if Hizashi can spare you for half an hour later, I'd like to talk with you about the collaboration with Present Mic and I understand you know most of the details."

"Absolutely," Jirou says with a quick bow.

Everyone scatters to their corners of the building, Eijirou dropping his things at Fatgum’s locker room before heading to a meeting with Fat and Amajiki-senpai to make sure all of their pieces are coordinating properly. It's a quick thing, and then Eijirou's pinballing down to the studio for another day of hand stitching. He passes Tetsutetsu as he goes, says a quick hi to Mina as she’s in and out of the elevator, and then bounds into the studio.

Aoyama meets him at the door, holding up a metal headpiece dripping with spikes and chains. "Welcome! Please look at this, the chains, they do not want to lay flat."

And so his day begins. There are a million and one things to do. The tambour beading is as delicate as ever, the precise felling stitches needed to smooth down seams a new skill he’s pressed to learn. There are papers to sign, a quick meeting with Sir about how the space is working for them, and food to fetch for hungry workers. He’s kept busy.

A little after lunch, the door bangs open and shut, clattering as it bounces off the wall with the force of the push. Amajiki presses his back against the wood, eyes a bit wild and his hair askew. Eijirou waves, grinning.

"Hey there senpai, what's up?"

"Nejire," Amajiki says, and attempts to hide behind the rolling cage of fabric bolts. Aoyama, unimpressed, rolls his eyes as he selects some horsehair braid from the box. "She just got back and Yuyu isn't here to stop her. Mirio was very excited and now they're both loud."

Rei snorts from across the room, looking up from her beading. “She’s just happy to see you. You know she misses you.”

“I missed her too, but she’s just so much sometimes,” Amajiki says, burying his face in his hands. He seems to be trying to become one with the wall, pressing himself further and further back into it. “I just need a few minutes to acclimate again-”

The door bursts open again, and Mirio-san bounds in with a tall, beautiful woman with long blue-green hair behind him. Her smile is sweet, her eyes bright, and Eijirou likes her immediately. Mirio slides through the people in the studio around the rolling cage, and grins at his boyfriend. Amajiki sighs in defeat and peels himself off the wall, hunched in on himself.

“Found you!” Mirio chirps, slinging an arm around his shoulders. Nejire waves at everyone, and then her eyes narrow in on Eijirou.

In half a heartbeat, she’s right in front of him, her big eyes peering up at him and her smile wide.

“Oh, wow, you’re so little! Isn’t he so little, Tamaki? But so tall! What a nice height, do you model? You should! You look nice, you seem sweet! You’re the kouhai, right, the one that’s the designer that’s doing the show and things?! Is it fun? I hope you’re having fun. I like your hair! We’re fun hair buddies now, I like your horns!” She doesn’t seem to need to breathe, bouncing around him and beaming. “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Hadou Nejire and I model and I’m friends with these two! Mirio and Tamaki met me in college!”

She’s a whirlwind of a woman, darting around him to look at some of the stitching before zooming back to stand in front of him. Eijirou grins, giving her a quick bow.

“Kirishima Eijirou, nice to meet you!”

“Awww, you’re adorable!” She leans in against Amajiki, who looks deeply put upon but makes no pretense towards moving. “Isn’t he? Isn’t he cute?”

“Very cute!” Mirio agrees cheerfully, and Eijirou can’t quite help his blush. Mirio’s not his type, exactly, but he’s a handsome man and Eijirou’s only human and easily flattered. “Come on, you two, let’s go find Yuyu and have some fun.”

Amajiki casts a pleading look Eijirou’s way, but he just waves them out the door with an even bigger grin. Amajiki sighs in defeat, but doesn’t look too upset as he curls into Mirio’s side and Neijire turns to start talking a mile a minute about the upcoming shows. The door closes, and peace returns to the studio.

Rei shakes her head as Eijirou sits down next to her and takes up some sheer organza to pin together. “Ah, Nejire-chan. It’s been almost a year since she went to America, those boys have been missing her very much.”

“You knew her from before, then?”

“Oh, yes, the three of them were inseparable when they first came here. They called them the big three. They don’t work for the highest ranked companies, they’re not particularly famous, but all of them are talented and strong as can be in their own ways.” Rei hands him a pincushion when he starts looking for more pins. “You’ve seen Tamaki-kun’s work, after all. Anything someone hands him he remakes his own. They used to call him a carnivore, because he would cannibalize old fabric and make it into something new. Mirio-kun is a master of suit design, and he’s wonderful with people. And Neijire, well, she’s a beauty in her own right but she’s also got an exclusive contract with Ryukyuu and has made a great deal of money through smart investments. I’m so proud of them, they’ve all come so far.”

“Rei-san?”

“Yes, dear?”

Eijirou smiles at her, heart full of fondness. “You’re a really good mom, you know that?”

Rei’s eyes widen, her cheeks going just a little pink. “I- well-”

“It is true,” Aoyama says as he swans by with a hat that Eijirou’s never seen before. “You are a lovely mother to us all.”

Rei’s smile is near blinding in its happiness.

oOo

Eijirou never tires of the thrill of turning his key in the lock to Bakugou’s door. Stepping through the door after work is one of the best parts of his day, and today is no different.

“I’m home,” Eijirou calls, keeping his voice down in case Katsuki’s asleep. There’s no response. Kicking off his shoes, he pads down the little hallway to the bedroom to find a lump of several large blankets on the bed and the air conditioner going full blast. Smiling, he walks over to the lump and peers down at it. “You in there?”

There’s a grunt of acknowledgement.

“Hello then,” Eijirou laughs. “So?”

“Done,” the lump in bed says. “All of them are in, I’m free as a fucking bird.”

“Nice! Want to go out to dinner to celebrate?”

A hand emerges from the lump, pulling back the covers so that one beady eye can peer out of the darkness at him. Eijirou barely holds in his laugh. “Fuck. No. Come here, I want you to kiss me until I can’t remember that I’m a human being anymore. I don’t want to see the face of another living thing aside from you for at least a week.”

“Well, when you put it like that,” Eijirou grins, pulling his shirt off. The hand retreats back under the covers as he shucks off his socks and ditches the kilt. “Scoot over.”

Katsuki obliges, and Eijirou climbs in under the covers to pull him in tight against him. He’s warm, near sticky with the heat from the blankets, but there’s something pleasing about it. They’ll overheat in no time, but Eijirou doesn’t mind. Katsuki’s mouth finds his, Eijirou’s hands drag down to find that far too perfect waist, and there was no point thinking more about it.

oOo

Eijirou has a bit more spring in his step than usual as he goes about his workday. Freed from the stress of finals, Bakugou had been willing to be pampered and willing to indulge Eijirou in a very pleasant and, at some points, rather acrobatic evening. He has a lot to be happy about. A job doing what he loves, a boyfriend who is explosively hot and a relentless perfectionist even about sex, friends who love and support him, and a senpai who is frankly adorable.

“Mirio’s taking me to lunch,” Amajiki-senpai says, fretting as Eijirou maneuvers through the hectic main studio to reach his side. He’s more done up than usual, in dark suit with chain lapels and his ears glittering with piercings. His nails, Eijirou notes with sudden interest, have been manicured and painted with glittery black and silver. Odd, since Amajiki-san usually keeps them plain. “I know it’s your lunch day out too, but if he keeps us late can you- excuse me Noko-san, sorry- can you keep an eye here and run errands if anyone needs anything? We’ll have the new interns in a few weeks, this is the worst possible time-”

“Go!” Eijirou laughs, shooing him away. “I can help, it’s no big deal. Go have lunch. Is Nejire-san going with you?”

Amajiki-senpai shakes his head, fussing with his hair. “No, she’s with Yuyu I think, I’m sure you’ll meet her soon, she was with me this morning and made me go get my nails done, I really don’t know why- Oh, no, K-Kiyo-san, we need the goldwork embroidery on number 32, not 23, make sure that gets changed-”

The door to the studio opens with a resounding clatter to reveal Midoriya holding a suitcoat like it’s a precious child and wheezing for breath. He darts through the crowd, bobbing back and forth, and in seconds he’s standing next to Eijirou.

“Mirio-san, you forgot it,” he wheezes, and Eijirou jumps as he looks to his right to find Mirio somehow suddenly there.

“Holy fuck-”

“Thank you, Midoriya!!” Mirio grabs the jacket, a look passing between the two of them. Amajiki-senpai, apparently used to Mirio’s disappearing-reappearing act after years of knowing him, barely even twitches when his boyfriend tugs on his arm to pull him away from a pile of paperwork. “See you later!”

Eijirou waves cheerfully and makes his way out the door as well.

Intern lunch has become quite a thing for them. Now no longer interns, but proper employees, their cohort still gets together to eat as often as possible. Eijirou and Aoyama make their way there together, because despite Aoyama’s fretting he’s of the same age and Eijirou knows the group will love him.

They’re some of the earliest there, waving at the others as they get their seats and a waitress appears to put menus in front of them before whisking away to go to another table. Eijirou hum as he opens his up. “I was thinking about-”

Aoyama grabs his hand, making a strangled gasp. Eijirou looks over, concerned.

“What is it?”

“Who,” Aoyama breathes, “is that?”

Eijirou doesn’t know, and mutters as much as the door opens and a newcomer steps in. He’s a short man, shorter even than Midoriya, dark haired and bright eyed. Despite the Tokyo summer heat, he’s dared to wear faux leather pants and a black tank top that shows off incredibly jacked arms, and he positively drips with shining silver jewelry. His eyes are lined to perfection, and woven through his hair are feathers. Something about him suggests that he’s not so much a man as a raven currently occupying the form of one. Eijirou is quietly impressed. Aoyama appears to be quietly falling in love.

“Tokoyami Fumikage,” Tokoyami says, bowing politely as he reaches the table. His feather bedecked hair gleams in the light. “Jirou invited me. I’m the in house makeup artist in Hawks, it’s a pleasure to meet you all. My partner should be here soon- oh, he’s here.”

Shoji Mezou ducks through the door and gives them all a quick wave as he heads over. At Eijirou’s side, Aoyama wilts a little before straightening up and giving the pair a blinding smile. Tokoyami glances at Shouji, the pair of them silently communicating, and Eijirou hides his surprise as the two come over to sit next to Aoyama.

Aoyama seems equally taken aback, but recovers with aplomb. He leans in, smiling at the pair, and before Eijirou can hear anything Uraraka drops down into the seat next to him with a groan. Her head thumps straight onto the table.

“Long day?” Eijirou asks, patting her back.

She ricochets back up to better pout at him, eyes blazing as she demands, “How do you get with a minor celebrity?”

“Just because I'm dating Bakugou doesn't mean I know how I did it,” Eijirou laughs. “Why? Did you run into a minor celebrity?”

Yes, and she's amazing,” Uraraka sighs. “Asui Tsuyu! She swims for Japan, she’s going to the Olympics! I was at Ryukyu and she came in to do some work for some swimwear line. Swimwear nothing, I want that girl to be my bride! She was sweet and cute and blunt and funny, and we clicked so well, but I couldn’t just ask for her number! I’m going to be working with her so much soon.”

“I mean… you do work for Ryukyu now,” Eijirou points out. “You absolutely could.”

“Noooo,” Uraraka wails, head thumping back on the table. “Then she’ll know I like her!”

“Is… isn’t that the point-”

It’s a very good lunch. Their cohort all gets along well, and the intern lunches have grown to be a comfortable, happy place. Monoma arrives next, looking so harassed that no one teases him, Shinsou strolling in moments later with Iida enthusing about something beside him. Momo and Jirou are depressingly cute together, Tetsutetsu plants a fond kiss on Eijirou’s forehead, Setsuna shows up with Kendou, and finally Midoriya, Todoroki, and a girl that Eijirou hasn’t met trickle through the door.

“Sorry we’re late!” Midoriya dives into a seat and immediately steals some of Iida’s food. Iida, apparently resigned to this, pushes it closer to him. “This is my foster sister, Shield Melissa! Momo and Shouji know her, but she just moved here a day ago and she’s working in R and D. Her first day is actually Monday but I thought since everyone would be here now would be a good time to introduce her to everyone!”

Melissa, tall, blonde, distinctly American in looks, waves at them. “Hello! Please, call me Melissa, I’m still not used to going by my family name. I know it’s a bit familiar but I’d appreciate it!”

Eijirou likes her on sight. So does everyone else it seems, including Kendo when she arrives, because she turns into a stammering wreck and Melissa isn’t much better. There’s a bunch of side eye all around, and without a word they all agree to pair the two up a little more and see where it goes. Well, everyone except Todoroki, who doesn’t seem capable of taking smitten eyes off of Midoriya, who in fairness isn’t much better off.

With lunch done, Eijirou heads up to the Fatgum studio to check if Amajiki-senpai’s back yet. He isn’t, not very surprising as lunch with Mirio almost always ran late, so he made himself useful to Setsuna, who had changed from being their receptionist and into the design studio as a fabric pattern designer.

“Yeah,” she says casually as he runs print outs of the new concepts over to her so she can take them to a meeting, “I was on rest because of carpal tunnel, just didn’t want to mention it in case things got weird. I’m not permanently with Fatgum, I actually work for All Might itself, but I go wherever I’m needed.”

“That’s so cool,” Eijirou enthuses, and she grins at him. “Oh, looks like someone wants me, good luck!”

One of the seamstresses has waved him over to ask him to clarify some of Amajiki’s truly horrendous handwritten notes. He translates, then shakes his head. “I really don’t know why Amajiki-senpai thought you guys needed me here, I mean, you’re all much more experienced than I am.”

“Maybe he though you needed to learn more experiences,” the seamstress laughs, patting his arm.

“You’re probably right-”

The door bangs open, and everyone looks up to see Mirio standing there, beaming with pride. Amajiki slinks in behind him, face red as can be, and slowly, slowly, lifts his hand up high.

There’s a moment when the entire room cranes to see why Amajiki’s put his hand up. Then, the light catches on the platinum and diamonds on his hand, and the room erupts into chaos.

Fat bursts into happy tears, Eijirou’s arms shoot up in excitement, there’s a whole cacophony of happy shouting. So that was why Amajiki-senpai’s nails were done! For pictures, later!

“Senpai!” Eijirou yells, rushing over to pull him into a backbreaking hug. Amajiki beams, and hugs him back just as tight. It’s the first time Eijirou’s seen him so freely expressive. “I’m so happy for you!”

Fat wraps them both up in a hug, lifting them off the floor with his massive arms. “TAMAKI!!!” He’s weeping, huge tears of joy streaming down his face. “CELEBRATION, EVERYONE HAS THE REST OF THE DAY OFF, PAID!!!”

An even bigger cheer goes up, and everyone swarms to the buffet area as someone else calls for food to be delivered. Alcohol appears out of desk drawers, Mirio kisses Tamaki and sweeps him off his feet, and in moments it seems like the entire building is alive with the joy of a new engagement. As the office stands together in celebration, Eijirou’s smile wide, a small whisper of uncertainty creeps in.

There’s someone else that he needs to talk about marriage with.

oOo

“I want to talk about something,” Eijirou says, and Katsuki looks up from his dinner. For once they’re in Eijirou’s apartment, to give Katsuki a change of scenery and for Eijirou to exist in his own space for a while. There’s no dining table in Eijirou’s house, so they’re making do with eating at his kotatsu/coffee table, floor chairs dug out from the storage closet.

“Okay?”

Eijirou looks down at his bowl, fiddling with his chopsticks. Shoyu ramen, absolutely delicious normally, barely seems appetizing. “I mean… not right now, but… what do you think about the idea of getting married one day? In the future?”

Katsuki’s eyebrows shoot up. “Where the fuck did that come from?”

“Amajiki-senpai and Mirio-senpai got engaged today,” Eijirou says, smiling. His nerves are still painfully frayed,uncertainty roiling in his belly. He doesn’t actually know what answer he wants from Katsuki, but now feels like the time to ask. “It just got me thinking.”

Katsuki hums, sitting back in his chair. “About fucking time those two got on with it. Until you came along I didn’t even think about marriage. Now, with you here, I think about it a lot. Yeah, I want to get married. If it isn’t to you I wouldn’t want it though. And don’t let that shit make you feel pressured, if you don’t want to get married I’d be perfectly happy living in sin the rest of my life.”

Eijirou blinks, confused. “...Living in sin?”

“Christian term for living with someone and having sex without being married,” Katsuki clarifies, grimacing. “I’ve been reading too many stupid American historical romance novels, they’re just so fucking addicting even if they are weirdly religious.”

Eijirou snorts. “Language practice?”

“Melissa brought some with her because we both have shitty taste in books and it gives us something to talk about. And yeah it’s good practice. So.” Katsuki kicks him lightly before bringing his leg back. “What about you? Wanna get married?”

Eijirou fiddles with his chopsticks. “I do, I just… We’re so young, you know? I keep wondering if getting married would be the right choice.”

Katsuki crosses his arms. “You just said in the future. Not now. Who fucking knows about the future? For now, plan for it, and if you don’t want it later, don’t. Who knows where either of us will be in five years, never mind the rest of our lives. Maybe we’ll get married tomorrow, maybe we’ll break up- I don’t see that shit happening, I love you way too much, but who knows.”

Eijirou looks up, heart swelling. “You’re so sweet.”

“What?” Katsuki looks around, as if there’s someone else who said something that Eijirou responded to. “What the fuck about that was sweet?”
“All of it.” Eijirou digs into his ramen, heart easing. “You’re sweet to me.”

“Shut up.”

His cheeks are stained pink. Eijirou hides his smile.

Once the dishes have been cleaned up, Eijirou’s a bit surprised to hear Katsuki fussing with his game systems in the living room. Poking his head around the corner, he raises an eyebrow. “What’s up?”

Katsuki triumphantly holds up the latest Mario Cart, waving it. “Best two out of three and the person has to clean the others apartment.”

Eijirou’s competitive side flares with interest. “No way you can beat me.”

Katsuki smirks, waving the game box in a taunt. Eijirou reminds himself firmly that he shouldn’t be providing positive reinforcement when Katsuki’s being a little shit, but damn, he’s hot when he’s got his arrogant face on. “What, scared because I’ll beat your ass?”

“No way you’ll beat me. Get that set up- and I’m playing as Bowser.”

Katsuki cackles, and Eijirou hurries to finish everything that needs doing. A ball of stress he didn’t even know was there eases away. For all that he’s grim and prickly out and about, when Katsuki relaxes he’s surprisingly playful. Eijirou loves that side of him. Playful Katsuki is so bright and fun, and Eijirou wants him to be that happy all the time.

Katsuki’s on the couch when Eijirou joins him again, legs pulled up and controller in hand. “Slowww,” he complains, already picking out each piece for the race.

“Shut up, I had to get everything put away! And no cheating.”

Katsuki looks absolutely scandalized. “Are you saying I cheat?”

Eijirou glares at him. “Last time we played you leaned over and licked my face when I was about to win and sent me into the grass so you’d get first, you little shit.”

Katsuki’s grin broadens. “Oh yeah, I did. That was fuckin’ hilarious, too.”

“Yeah, so you can stay riiiight over there,” Eijirou says, pushing him to the edge of the couch and kicking his legs up on the cushions. “I don’t trust you! You’re worse than Sero about it, and Sero started tickling me that one time and made me throw Kaminari off the couch.”

Katsuki snickers, and Eijirou relaxes against the arm of the couch as they get down to racing.

“Best 11 out of 12! Come on you asshole!” Katsuki’s insisting not two half an hour later, as Eijirou crows his victory.

“Nope! I beat you fair and square! Take that!”

They’d been neck and neck even the entire time, constantly one upping each other until now, but Eijirou’s won twice in a row and he’s savoring the victories. Katsuki lets out an incoherent noise of fury and tosses the controller on one of the couch pillows that wound up on the floor. Eijirou snickers, arms up in success.

“You’re such a sore loser.”

“Shut up!”

“Come up here and make me, sweetheart,” Eijirou purrs, just to watch Katsuki go pink. To his surprise, Katsuki moves over and leans in to kiss him hard and fast. He’s even more red when he pulls back.

“God, you’re so cute,” Eijirou purrs, opening his arms, and Katsuki lays down on the couch to cuddle up with him. He’s warm and heavy, and all Eijirou’s. For a moment he basks in that knowledge, before peppering happy kisses over Katsuki’s face to make him squirm. “Soooo cute.”

“Shut uppp,” Katsuki whines, nose scrunching up, and Eijirou can’t help kiss him again at that. It’s so rare that Katsuki gets like this, loose limbed and cuddly and happy. Eijirou’s thrilled that today, already so good, has grown even better.

Eijirou kisses his forehead again, sighing happily as he relaxes back into the cushioned arm of the couch. “So, just throwing this out there, since we were just playing a kids game and all… do you want them? Kids, I mean.”

"Yeah," Katsuki says without hesitation. "I want kids."

Eijirou blinks, surprised and curious. "Woah, that was fast. You've thought about this a lot?"

Katsuki shrugs, leaning over to nestle into Eijirou's side. Eijirou wraps an arm around him without thinking, twining their legs together. "Yeah, a long time. Kids can be a pain, but I like them. I want…" he hesitates a moment before plowing on. "I want a big family. A big family in a big house that's full of noise and kids running off to school and too many dishes and a bit of a mess in the office. I want a house like your parents. Been thinking about it since I was, what, 19?”

“Yeah?” Eijirou scratches at his scalp and Katsuki goes boneless, melting against him. “Tell me.”

“S’not much to tell,” Katsuki mumbles, blissed out. “I saw how Inko is with Deku and thought, yknow, I wanted to be like that. I wanted kids to be happy with me. I want a- yeah, fuck, right there- I want a big family.”

“How big? Big like mine?”

"Yeah. Five."

Eijirou nods. "So three kids then?"

"No. Five kids, and me a-and you."

Eijirou’s mouth goes dry and his hand stops moving. Katsuki’s not looking at him, having gone very tense in his arms, but Eijirou just tightens his grip and starts up again, slower now.

“Five,” he breathes. “That really would be big. We’d need a huge house, and sooo much money, but it’d be so worth it. What do you think, here in the city? That’s probably too expensive but maybe a penthouse... Or should we hit the suburbs? Suburbs are nice sometimes, I liked Chiba. Or we could move out to the countryside instead, live that sweet inaka life in a big old traditional house by a bamboo grove?”

Katsuki takes a slow, shivery breath and Eijirou knows he’s hit the nail on the head. “I want that. The- the last one, I want a big house with a huge lawn for playing in. Maybe a garden. Big trees. A shrine nearby. A kitchen big enough to actually do something with it, kitchens here are so damn tiny. I’ll fucking commute, I don’t care.”

“You want the My Neighbor Totoro house,” Eijirou says, and gets an elbow in his stomach for good measure. He laughs, kissing the top of Katsuki’s head. “I like it.” His laughter fades away to a soft ache in his chest, and his arms tighten again. Katsuki nuzzles against his neck like a cat, shoving his face against the soft skin of his throat.

“You sure you want to deal with that much noise? Five kids, that’s a whole lot of sound.”

Katsuki snorts. “Yeah, it’d be rough, but it’d be worth it. Y’know, I used to hate kids. They’ve grown on me. A lot, actually. Guess I grew up.”

Children. Five children, five little lives in a house, full to bursting with sounds and chaos. Five children and Katsuki, in an old traditional house with tatami floors and summertime spilling through the open doors, a koi pond somewhere on the property and soft windchimes hanging from the beams. Katsuki napping in the sunshine on the porch, Eijirou working at his desk… The ache grows. He wants it. He knows in an instant he does, he wants that life, or something like it.

“I want it,” Eijirou blurts out in a rush. “I want kids with you.”

Katsuki sits up, surging up to kiss him with sudden desperate want, and Eijirou’s arms fly up to keep him there. It’s a messy, hot, exhilarating thing, their bodies tangled together and so fully entwined Eijirou’s spinning head doesn’t know where they stop and begin. Katsuki kisses him breathless, stealing his air and replacing it only with the thrill of desire.

“Fuck,” Eijirou breathes when Katsuki pulls back, both of them panting. “Okay. Hi.”

“Take me to bed,” Katsuki demands, and really Eijirou doesn’t need to be told twice.

Later, both of them sweaty and frankly a bit disgusting, Eijirou kisses the hollow of Katsuki’s neck. “So. The idea of a family really gets you going?”

Katsuki snorts, stretching like a great languid cat and petting Eijirou’s hair as he lazily licks over the tender skin and thinks longing thoughts of biting and bruising. “It was a rush of happiness, don’t look so hard into it. I don’t want you putting them in me or anything. It was just… us. Together. I wanted to be with you and that was the best way to do it. It’s not- fuck, stop, you’re slobbering all over my neck.”

Eijirou smiles against the skin, unrepentant. “Sorry.”

“No you fucking aren’t, dick.” Katsuki flicks him in the forehead without much heat. “Natsy fucker. I’m trying to explain.”

Eijirou obediently moves back a little. Katsuki’s still sex-flushed, handsome as ever and softer than usual. Eijirou loves him so much. “Sorry, I’m listening.”

“About time.” Katsuki sighs, petting through Eijirou’s hair. “I want to be part of you, sometimes. I want- I want us to be one thing, just fuckin- I don’t know, be so wrapped up in you I’m not thinking about me anymore. You’re good at that, you’re good at taking me out of my head and making it so I’m only thinking about the moment. Right then, where your hands are on me, your mouth. It’s… it’s nice to shut all this fucking thinking off, even if sex is weird. You make it not so weird.”

Eijirou’s heart swells. “You are so fucking sweet to me, Katsuki.” He leans up, pulling him into a kiss, and Katsuki’s hand fists in his hair to hold him there. It lingers this time, sweet and reassuring, and Eijirou sighs happily when Katsuki finally lets him loose.

“I love you, you know,” Katsuki says, his voice intent and firm. “I love you.”

“I know,” Eijirou says, reaching over to twine their hands together. He curls up closer, resting his head on Katsuki’s shoulder. “I love you too.”

oOo

Work seems to drag on forever Monday when Eijirou keeps getting pulled from his studio to go and work on various other projects. He has a number of tiny meetings with Fat and Amajiki-senpai as they hammer out details for the makeup look they want to go for to make the runway shows cohesive, has to talk to the PR people, gets sent down to marketing for another quick meeting with some people who need his sign of on music choices (which. What?) and then finally gets shuttled back to his studio late in the day to be firmly sat down by Aoyama and handed his tambour and beads. It’s almost a relief to be working on that instead, the punch-pull-thread routine of the beading now familiar and soothing.

Aoyama himself is in his element doing final checks over a number of the gowns and headpieces that, aside from a final fitting check with the models a few days before the show, are completely finished. All of them are absolutely gorgeous, and Eijirou doesn’t let himself think too hard about it in case he gets a swelled head.

“For a first collection, you have really made a splash,” Aoyama says in approval as he and Rei take a gown from its dressform to hang in its protective bag. They are, miracle of miracles, ahead of schedule now. He’s sure it won’t last. “It will be beautiful.”

Eijirou grins, picking up another bead for the netting. “Hey, I just designed this thing! You guys are the ones making it come alive!”

There’s a coo from the rest of the studio’s inhabitants. Aoyama’s smile is dazzling.

“It’s true!” Eijirou defends.

“We know, sweetie,” one of the seamstresses says, fond, and leans over to pat his leg. “It’s just nice to hear it.”

He spends the rest of the day catching up on tambour beading, but he’s still behind on his tasks when everyone leaves for the day. Aoyama, in a very interesting turn of events, gets picked up for dinner by Shouji and Tokoyami, and goes very pink when Eijirou wiggles his eyebrows at him. Eijirou’s left alone with his beading and the radio, which someone had left on the local Korean channel. Pop music has him bobbing his head as he works, and his phone rings just as he gets started on the second design he’s doing. Bakugou’s name pops up.

“Hey babe!”

"Auntie's invited us to dinner," Bakugou says, foregoing any pleasantries. "I don't want to cook tonight, so, do you want to go?"

Eijirou looks at the clock, wincing. He absolutely should stay late, but Inko's cooking wasn't something he was interested in giving up. "Are you driving?"

"I am, yeah. Why, do you need to stay late?"

“A little, I’m almost done but I’ll need a bit of extra time. What time is dinner?”

7:30. If we leave at 7 we should get there pretty close to on time, and Auntie’s not the most punctual person, we’ll probably eat at about 8.

“Kind of a late dinner, isn’t it?”

He can’t see Bakugou’s shrug, but knows it must be there. “Who cares, free food is free food.”

“Alright, grab me at 7.” A thought hits him, and he has to work to hide his grin from his voice when he says, “Oh, Midoriya will probably be in the office late, we should carpool! I can run up and tell him to be ready to go.”

Bakugou’s groan echoes down the line. “I already did. Auntie guilt trips better than anyone I know, I can’t get out of picking him up. We’re taking Melissa too. This is going to be such a fucking noisy car, you all need to get your own damn licenses- whatever. I’ll see you at seven.”

Eijirou shakes his head, smiling. “See you then.”

At seven he finds himself in the lobby as Midoriya and Melissa leave the elevators. Uraraka, busy in conversation with Miruko, waves to them as the three of them meet up and head out the main doors. Midoriya seems lost in thought, trailing after the tall, blonde Melissa like he’s bobbing along in her wake. Eijirou, almost out of habit, checks for bruises again. There are none to be seen, and Midoriya’s not holding himself like he’s in pain, but he can’t quite help his concern.

“I’m glad to see you again!” Melissa says cheerfully. Her Japanese is very good, only lightly accented. “Sorry I couldn’t introduce myself properly at the restaurant, that seemed like it’d be rude. I’m M- sorry, I’m Shield Melissa, Katsuki’s foster sister. I mean, we aren’t super close or anything, but we share a parent so that’s how I think of him. And how I hope he thinks of me.”

“Kirishima Eijirou, and it’s great to meet you! And he does,” Eijirou says, happy to reassure her. “He calls you his sister when he talks about you.”

Melissa lights up with happiness. “Really?”

“Really!” Eijirou smiles, opening the door for them. The Prius is down the street, approaching them at exactly the speed limit. “There he is! Man, I’m excited for dinner, this’ll be so nice…”

Midoriya taps his arm as Melissa waves at the Prius. Eijirou looks down at him, curious.

“Do you mind if I sit up front?” Midoriya asks quietly as the Prius comes to a halt. Eijirou shakes his head, gesturing for him to go right ahead. “Thanks, I’m… I’m having a day.”

“You’re good, man, it’s okay!”

Bakugou gives them both some serious side-eye when Midoriya climbs into the passenger seat, but doesn’t fight them on it. He just turns the car on and pulls into the road again, flipping around to start the drive to Nerima.

“What’s your deal?” he asks Midoriya as Melissa looks out the window, staring in interest at the passing neighborhood. “You look like shit.”

“I was going through the records and found some of the paperwork from when we were brought in,” Midoriya says. His voice is low enough that Eijirou knows he’s not supposed to be actually listening, so he politely pretends to be very fascinated with his phone. “I found the receipts from the buyout and the plane tickets, and a report about… about our health.”

“Weird thing to find,” Bakugou mutters, but his hands have tightened on the wheel. “What were you doing in files that fuckin’ old?”

“I wasn’t, they were misfiled with some expense reports from Nighteye later that I needed to get. Someone must have pulled them and misfiled them at some point, but they haven’t been touched for years so it’s no surprise it got lost until now.” Midoriya sighs, shaking his head. “Filing is a pain, anyway, it wouldn’t surprise me if people were shuffling things and it just got moved wrong. It was a surprise, anyway.”

Bakugou grunts. His knuckles are near white on the wheel. “How much was it?”

Midoriya glances in the mirror, and says something in a language that Eijirou doesn’t understand. It’s not English, too heavily accented and fast. Maybe French? Bakugou’s frown eases, hands loosening. He responds in kind, voice lilting as it dips between guttural and nasal. Almost certainly French, then. Melissa doesn’t even blink, apparently also not a speaker of French(?). Eijirou relaxes back in his seat.

“So, Melissa-”

They strike up a conversation, Melissa telling him all about her new place in Akasaka (it turns out they live only a few blocks from each other, in between his place and Mina’s), and by the time they reach Nerima he and Melissa have swapped numbers and made plans to get lunch together. Bakugou and Midoriya have spoken nothing but French(?) to each other the entire rest of the drive, bickering back and forth about something but not stressed or angry about it. Midoriya’s shoulders are looser, Bakugou gesturing to emphasize his points. They park in front of complex of three tall, skinny buildings.

“Here we are!” Midoriya says, and climbs out of the car. The rest of them follow, and Eijirou looks around in interest. He’s been in Nerima before, but he’s never been to this specific area. It’s quiet, calm. A good place to raise a family, probably. The buildings in front of him are older, but still well maintained and clean. Midoriya leads them up the stairs to the second level, to an old green door with weathered paint and “Midoriya” on the plaque beside it.

“We’re home!” he calls as he opens the door, each of them squeezing in to take off their shoes as Inko bustles down the narrow hall with a beaming smile.
“Oh, welcome, welcome! Melissa-chan, you made is safely, oh I’m so glad to see you, come in! Kirishima-kun you look well, I swear you’ve grown even taller, but that would be difficult to do- Ah, thank you Izuku, please put the papers on the table, Katsuki-kun you look like you’re finally getting enough sleep! Come, come, dinner is almost ready.”

The Midoriya household is both small and spacious, a 2LDK with a large sitting area and a table and chairs in the main area. There are pictures all over the walls in old frames. Some of them are of a tiny Izuku, still a baby, but here and there are others. Prints from shoots as he grows older, a few with Bakugou also in them. A very cute picture of him and Bakugou dressed in preschool garb and their hats jammed on is especially eye catching. He pauses at one of the two of them in their early teens and feels his blood freeze.

It’s a fashion print, something that looks like a promotion for a children's clothing line with a very high end brand. Midoriya is painfully thin in the picture, his already large eyes huge against his almost gaunt face. He’s adorable, but comparing the child in the picture to the man he knows now is… it’s horrifying. His eyes seem like they’re screaming for help, now that he knows what to look for, but on the surface he seems sweet. Bakugou’s no better, slouched and smiling that perfect, sweet, charming smile he has. But something about him seems like he’s seconds away from falling apart, from snapping and having a melt down.

“That was taken two weeks before All Might got us out,” Midoriya says at his side, making Eijirou jump. He smiles wryly. “Kacchan set a dumpster on fire on the way out of the building, and all I remember was wanting to cry because it was Fashion Week and we were so busy. And then it was just… over.”

Eijirou nods at the picture. “You look better now.” It’s almost a question.

Midoriya’s smile is tight. “Yeah. It’s a work in progress, every day of my life. This is why Kacchan won’t ever complain about me stealing food, or using his gym key for workouts. It wasn’t a good time.”

He nods at a picture further along. “But that’s me just about a year later.”

This Midoriya is bright and smiling again, a real smile. He’s put on much more weight in the form of muscles and is throwing up a peace sign at the camera in front of a weight lifting competition. All Might is in the picture with him, probably just at the start of his illness, looking incredibly proud.

“I’m glad,” Eijirou says, smiling. “You’re super manly, Midoriya!”

Midoriya squeaks, blushing. “I! Um, th-thank you!” Flustered, he seems much more like the happier version of Midoriya that Eijirou sees at work, rather than the one that bickers with Bakugou or quietly suffers.

Eijirou bumps his shoulder. “Hey,” he says quietly, “you ever want to talk about anything, I’m there. And if you want a lifting buddy, I’m also there, Bakugou won’t go with me.”

Midoriya smiles at him, and Eijirou resists the urge to shield his eyes. “I’m glad I know you, Kirishima-kun.”

Eijirou stops to look at one more picture on his way into the main room. It’s Bakugou and Midoriya on their High School graduation day, caught in a moment between staged responses. Bakugou’s laughing, face crinkled up as Midoriya’s arms wheel, apparently protesting something the other said, but he’s smiling too. They look… relieved. Not at peace, not even a little, but happy. Eijirou smiles, turning to step into the living area.

Bakugou comes to stand by him as he wisely steps away from the chaos of the kitchen.

“Where’d you sleep?” Eijirou asks.

“In here,” Bakugou says, nodding to a corner where a decorative screen has been put up. “I had a futon and a trunk, and the screen for a bit of privacy. When De- when Izuku moved out, I moved into his room for about two months before I got my own place and headed out.”

“How long-”

“7 months,” Bakugou says simply. “Not too long, but long enough. Oi, Auntie, let Melissa get that, she’s got longer arms.”

“Yes, yes…”

Eijirou looks around at the small, happy little home, and tries to imagine Bakugou as he’s been told- angry, in pain, violent at times, in such a small space with two other people, one of which he’d hated. “It must have been hard.”

“Yeah,” Bakugou says quietly, and doesn’t elaborate.

“Oh no,” Inko frets, drawing their attention back over to them. “I completely forgot the ice cream, those ones on sticks that Melissa-chan likes.”

Eijirou’s hand shoots up. “I’ll go! There’s that Family Mart right down the street, I can go get it. I mean, if they stock it there.”

“Oh, thank you Kirishima-kun!” Inko hurries over, pressing some yen into his hand. “They do, it’s the house brand chocolate covered vanilla ones. This will cover it- you’re sure you know where you’re going?”

“Auntie, it’s literally down the street,” Bakugou sighs. “I can go with him-” There’s a clang from the other side of the room. “Never mind, I need to deal with this. Deku! Get away from the knives!”

“I can help-”

“You can help by getting away from the fucking knives-”

Eijirou makes his way to the door after stealing a quick cheek kiss from Bakugou. The Family Mart is about four blocks down, an easy walk, and he finds the ice cream quick enough. The yen Inko gave him is more than enough, and he thanks the cashier and heads back out. He starts walking back, and gets about two blocks before realizing he’s walked the wrong direction, and now has a six block walk back. Groaning, he turns around, and stops short when he sees a man about half a block ahead on the other side of the street with his face buried in his hands, sitting on a bench on the edge of a park. He doesn’t look happy.

Eijirou quickly jogs across the street, worried. “Excuse me, uncle, are you alright?”

The man looks up, startled. He quickly wipes away the wetness from his eyes, clearing his throat. He's a tall, broad man with a heavy mustache, his close cropped hair a dark brown speckled with white and silver. He's older, softer in the middle and oddly familiar. He's well dressed, his clothes tailored and high quality, but his shoes are very worn. He seems to be watching an empty house across the street from the park.

“Ah, forgive me,” he says with a tremulous smile. “I'm just a bit overwhelmed right now.”

Eijirou immediately sits next to him. “How can I help?”

The man stares at him, surprised. The lingering sunlight paints him gold and orange. Something about his face is so very familiar, but Eijirou just can't quite pin it down. “I… you are very kind, to offer help to a stranger.”

Eijirou shrugs, brushing his shorts down. “A stranger is a conversation away from an acquaintance or a friend, and it hurts no one to be kind! Manliest thing in the world, being kind! Tell me uncle, what's wrong?"

The man sighs. "Nothing that anyone can fix, I think."

Eijirou nods, adjusting his bags by his feet and leaning back against the bench, getting comfortable. "Tell me anyway? Sometimes it helps just to tell it to people, just to talk about it. Someone else can see it in a new light, right?"

The man stares at him, mouth twitching into a small smile. "You are a very wise young man."

Eijirou shrugs, smiling. "That's what they tell me, uncle."

“Your groceries-”

“They’ll keep for a minute.” Eijirou leans in, attentive, and the man shakes his head. A tiny smile plays around his mouth for just a moment before fading.

“Well… I failed the people most important to me.” He sighs, shaking his head. “My wife, and my son. I’m estranged from my son now because I failed to keep him safe, and I left everything I knew to try and help my wife. She is… difficult. She became someone I didn’t know, over the years. Someone I didn’t want to accept she was becoming, I mean, but there… there were still flashes of that woman I married inside her. Things went wrong, as things tend to do, and I forgot myself and didn’t know what to do. After so many years, she’s all I know and I wasn’t strong enough to leave her after my son left. She's better now, with time and having left the place we were before. But I gave up a relationship with my son to keep my relationship with her, and I… I think I made a mistake. We're divorced now, still live together."

Eijirou listens in silence.

"The worst part-" His voice cracks and he clears his throat, rubbing his eyes. "The worst part is that I still love her, even after all of this. She hurt my son so badly and I did nothing to stop it. I'm a terrible parent."

“Hey, uncle, have you heard of the boiled frog metaphor?”

He shakes his head, and Eijirou looks up at the sunset streaked sky. “It’s a pretty simple thing. An easy way to kill a frog is to stick it in a pot with water. The frog likes water, so it doesn’t want to move. Then you slowly turn up the heat, little by little. The frog adjusts to the heat over time. It doesn’t even notice it’s cooked til it’s dead.”

The man winces. “Ah… That… I see the metaphor.”

“My mom told it to me when I was little,” Eijirou says, giving him a small smile. “Kinda grim for a six year old, but I needed to understand. You were an unlucky frog, uncle, but you’re not in the pot now. You can still reach out to your son, right? As your own man, not as a parent. You can try again, knowing better.”

The man bites his lip, worrying at it. There really is something so familiar about him, something about the shape of his face and how he holds his shoulders. Eijirou just can’t place it. “I just don’t know if he’d want to even hear from me anymore. If he’d want an apology when there’s… there’s not really anything I can do to fix it.”

“Are you out anything by trying?” Eijirou asks gently. “Would it hurt to try and right a wrong? Reaching out with an apology, even if someone doesn’t want to hear it, that seems like a pretty manly thing. It’s their choice to accept it or deny it, but, you know, maybe your son thinks you just don’t dare go see him.”

The man sniffs, wiping at his eyes again. “You’re right. I’ll… I’ll talk to the person who took him in, see if I can have her pass a letter on. I don’t even know where he lives now, his number is changed as well. I’ll talk to her first and… maybe I’ll be lucky.”

“That’s the spirit, uncle! Oh, I'm Kirishima,” Eijirou says with a smile. “You don't have to give me your name if you don't want.”

The man stretches out his hand, his smile tremulous. “Thank you for listening. Please, call me Masaru.”

Chapter Text

Inko’s cooking is always the best, and Katsuki groans as he stretches, stomach protesting any further movement. Dinner is finished, Kirishima now a blob of well fed, snoring red hair sprawled over Katsuki’s lap. Deku’s given up on consciousness entirely and has already passed out on the couch. Melissa has followed suit, snoring loudly from her position on the floor, half under the coffee table.

Inko smiles as she bustles around collecting the last of everyone’s things. “It’s good to see them resting.”

“You say that now, but I still have to get all these assholes home,” Katsuki grumbles, but there’s no bite to it. Inko ruffles his hair as she passes, her small hands familiar and soothing, and Katsuki feels the worst of his stress melt away for good. It's been a good night.

“I’ll keep Izuku and Melissa here tonight. It’s the weekend, it’s no problem to take them back tomorrow or even Monday morning. Just take Kirishima-kun home, he seems worn out. Poor little thing.”

Katsuki looks down at his six foot hulk of a boyfriend, and reflects that only a mother would call Kirishima “little”. “Sure, Auntie.” He groans, stretching out again before reaching over to fuss Kirishima’s spikes back into shape. “He’s been working hard, there’s not a lot of time left before Fashion Week comes up.”

“And what about you, sweetheart?” She heaves Deku to the side without him so much as twitching so that she can sit on the couch. “I take it you made a decision about what you’re doing?”

“I’m staying.”

Kirishima lets out a truly earth shattering snore, and Katsuki rolls his eyes. Inko smothers a laugh.

“Perhaps it’s unworthy of me, but I’m glad. I know how much travel wears on you when it’s long term, that six months you spent in France was so hard on you...“ She shakes her head. “When you came home you looked like you’d been run over by a train. It’s good to have you here.”

Katsuki’s cheeks heat a little, and he looks back down at Kirishima. “It’s… it’s whatever.”

“Of course, Katsuki-kun. Let me get the leftovers packed for you."

It takes a Herculean effort to get Kirishima to wake up from his food coma long enough to get him in the car. Once he’s got the food and his oversized boyfriend stuffed in the Prius, Katsuki reluctantly accepts a hug from Inko and gets on the road. Eijirou’s head rests against the window as they drive through the neon streets. Even sleepy, he seems lost in thought about something.

“So,” Katsuki says, pausing at a stop sign. “You never said what took you so long getting the ice cream. Did you get lost?” He says it lightly, letting it be teasing.

He catches a flash of Eijirou’s smile. “No, I didn’t get lost. I mean, I did go the wrong way at first but I figured it out! I just… I ran into this guy. He seemed lost, I guess. Emotionally. We talked a bit, or at least I listened. He’s had some problems and made some mistakes in life and he wants to fix them. I dunno if he can, but I hope he tries.”

Katsuki smiles in spite of himself, shaking his head. “Only you would go out for ice cream and wind up doing impromptu therapy for a stranger. Dork.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Eijirou’s hand finds his thigh and gently squeezes, warm and reassuring. “Thanks for bringing me tonight. I like your family.”

Katsuki swallows around the sudden lump in his throat. “Good. Shut up and rest now, I’ll let you know when we’re home.”

“I love you,” Eijirou sighs, and in seconds he’s snoring.

Later, when Eijirou is wrapped around him like an octopus and snoring in his ear, Katsuki stares up at the ceiling. His phone is glowing, its faint light bouncing off the white walls above, and he wonders faintly what kind of mistakes the man had made that Eijirou would be so uncertain about it. He absently strokes his boyfriend’s arm, and smiles as he curls up closer in his sleep, shoving his face against Katsuki’s neck to cuddle.

“You’re hopeless,” Katsuki whispers to him, fond, and kisses his temple before he falls asleep himself.

oOo

The first of Newton’s three Laws of Motion is thus: an object will move in a straight line or remain perfectly still unless acted upon by an outside force, requiring it to change its trajectory and movements.

Katsuki’s trajectory on Monday morning was simple. There was cleaning to be done in the house, the annual deep clean that he did once every four months. His very exciting and glamorous plans included tackling the baseboards, reorganizing under the sink, and flipping his mattress. This was along with the usual cleaning of dusting, sweeping, mopping up the genkan, bleaching the hell out of the bathroom, and so on. He was a man prepared, complete with scrubbing tools and a blissful day of no hearing aids in, so there would be wonderful, almost complete silence in his house.

At 8 am Katsuki sweeps.

At 9 am Katsuki finishes mopping the main room.

At 10 am Katsuki has finished putting the furniture back where it goes.

At 11 am Katsuki has finished the bathroom.

At 11:48 am, while making himself a sandwich for lunch, Katsuki gets the call.

The Second Law of Motion is as follows; Force is equal to the change in momentum per change in time. In a constant mass, force equals mass times acceleration.

A car.

The person on the other end of the line assures him that Midoriya Izuku is not at risk of death. They say it multiple times, but the fact remains. He’s been hit by a car. He is in the hospital. His medical paperwork informs them that yes, as a matter of fact, he is unmarried and someone who is not a blood relative is the first person to call. So, they’ve called. They give him the address. He takes it down with shaking hands.

Katsuki’s ears won’t stop ringing. He hangs up the phone, and texts Eijirou.

The Third Law of Motion. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

At 12:02 pm, Bakugou Katsuki climbs in the back of a taxi, hearing aids in and glasses on, no time to put in contacts, and orders the driver to the All Might building and then to a specific hospital. He doesn’t remember the drive. He barely remembers that he’s human by the time they pull up to the drop off in front of the All Might building and Kirishima, dressed for once in his life in a suit, climbs in. They’re off like a shot.

“What happened?” Kirishima asks immediately.

“Car accident,” Katsuki says, jaw nearly locked with tension. “He was hit. I don’t know much, but they called me as soon as they got him in, he keeps a card with that info in his wallet.”

“Not that I’m not relieved, but uh… why you?” Kirishima scoots over to the middle seat so that their legs are pressed together. It’s more reassuring than it has any right to be, and Katsuki blinks a couple times as the worst of his fog of dissociation starts to clear a bit. He recognizes the scenery now, at least.

“I’m Deku’s medical proxy and first emergency contact no matter what,” Katsuki says tightly, knuckles white from how hard he’s clenching his fists. “He’s mine too. He gets hurt, I get a call.”

“Not his mom, or-” Kirishima glances at the driver, who’s clearly trying very hard not to look like he’s paying attention. “Or uh, your dad?”

“Auntie’s second,” Katsuki says, terse. “I’m first because sometimes he doesn’t want her being called.”

“Concerning.”

“You think?”

They arrive in little time, the taxi driver is tipped very well, and Katsuki strides in to the nurses desk with the same attitude as a shogun arriving at his castle. Kirishima seems to float in his wake, and the nurse at the desk snaps upright at the look on his face. A few people shy away from him.

“Midoriya Izuku, he was hit by a car,” Katsuki says. It takes every single bone of Aizawa and Hakamata’s training to keep him from launching himself over the desk to find his information himself. “I’m his medical proxy and first emergency contact.”

“One moment,” the nurse says, leaning over to look through his computer. Katsuki stands ramrod straight, Kirishima hovering at his side. Finally, he looks up. “Room 322, but your friend-”

“Not my friend, my translator,” Katsuki lies without regret, pointing at his hearing aids. “These help but I can’t always hear everything. He translates if it’s needed or I can’t understand something. He comes with.”

“Ah, yes,” the nurse flounders. “Go right up please.”

“Thank you,” Kirishima says as Katsuki turns and storms away.

322 is easy to find. Katsuki glances through the window into the room and takes a deep breath, composing himself.

“You okay?” Kirishima asks quietly.

“Yeah. Just… fucking of course he’s involved.”

Katsuki pushes open the door.

Todoroki is sitting at Deku’s bedside, hands pressed together in front of his mouth as if he’s in prayer. He looks absolutely haggard, stripped down to a tank top he must have been wearing as an undershirt. His white oxford shirt has been tossed in the corner of the room, and Katsuki can see specks of blood on it. Deku’s likely mangled arm is covered by a sheet. Deku himself is hooked up to a number of monitors and for just a moment Katsuki is violently wrenched into the past. He can almost taste the month he’d been locked down in the hospital to recover, and then the immediate move to the psych ward. Deku morphs into a sickly, frail Yagi, and Katsuki digs his nails into his palm to force himself back to the present.

Everything wavers, and comes back into focus just as Deku’s head turns enough to look at him.

“Kacchan,” Deku blurts out, his voice a little bleary, and Todoroki jolts. “Kacchan, I'm so sorry-”

“It's okay,” Katsuki says. His voice seems far away, hard to hear over the rushing in his ears. Behind him, he hears Kirishima make a strangled noise, but ignores it. He walks into the room, sparing a glance at Todoroki before he sits down on the bed, reaching out to gently touch Deku’s good hand, just to make sure he’s real.

“I’m sorry,” Deku whispers again.

“Tell me,” Katsuki says simply.

“It’s my fault,” Todoroki blurts out behind him. “It’s all my fault.”

“No,” Deku insists, lip trembling. “It’s mine, I shouldn’t- I shouldn’t have pushed, I was wrong-”

“Just the facts,” Katsuki interrupts, ignoring the way they’re staring desperately at each other. “I don't care whose fault it was right now. No one told me what happened.”

“It’s… it’s a long story,” Deku mumbles, eyes squeezing shut. “I- today, we- lunch, we went to lunch. It was a nice day so we sat outside the cafe. We had a meeting this morning… design. Todoroki-kun, he had his sketchbook, he had it because there were notes in it for work, he said he was going to get rid of it, because- because his dad, you know, and I looked at it and everything was so beautiful...”

“We started fighting,” Todoroki says, voice dull and tight. “He was trying to convince me not to give up design, that I wasn't my father. I didn't know what to do, I got emotional. And I just… I threw my sketchbook in the road because I wanted it gone. He moved before I could stop him, just jumped out to grab it, and then…”

“And then I got hit, because I didn't look,” Deku finishes. “There was a car. I went up on the hood, so my legs were okay, but my arm-”

"Yeah, I can see that." Katsuki smooths down his pants. "Todoroki, out for a minute. I need to talk to Deku alone. Go with Kirishima and get drinks."

Todoroki looks like he wants to protest, but Deku gives him a reassuring smile. The other two leave, and the second the door closes Deku's smile drops.

"Thank you for coming." Deku’s mouth trembles. “Are you going to yell at me?”

“Why?” Katsuki fusses with the blankets, smoothing them out over his chest. He’s not sure how his hands aren’t shaking. Shock, maybe? “You think you haven’t been punished enough? You think you need me to rip you a new one for not thinking things through? You’re doing good enough on that without me, Deku. You want to hurt yourself more you can go ahead and do that, but you’re not going to get any help with that from me this time.”

Deku’s eyes turn watery, and Katsuki takes his free hand as fat tears roll down his face.

“It hurts,” he whispers, heaving a ragged sob. “It hurts so much.”

“I know.” Katsuki feels his hands finally start shake. “Don't ever do that again.”

“I won't,” Deku sobs, turning his head to the side. “I won't, I won't, I swear. But I don’t regret it, I never will. You didn't hear him Kacchan, all the terrible things he thinks about himself. I couldn't let him throw his work away.”

Katsuki sighs, squeezing his hand. “You’re such a stubborn little idiot. All this time chasing after people bigger and tougher than you, getting knocked down and beat up, and you still go out there like you’re 20 feet tall and made of pure steel. I know.”

Deku sniffles. “You must be really mad if you aren’t swearing at me.”

“Not mad,” Katsuki says, dead serious. “I’m not mad, I’m scared. You could've died because you weren't thinking about yourself. You've been lucky so many times, but that luck has run out. You could have died today.”

Deku nods, eyes welling up with tears. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t ever scare me like this again.”

Deku nods, reaching up weakly with his good arm. “Please?”

Katsuki’s ingrained response is to bat the arm away, but Deku looks so pathetic that this time he forces it down and bends down to gingerly hug him. Deku sniffles, but he looks a little better when Katsuki pulls back, so he decides it’s fine.

Of course, Deku then promptly ruins it.

“Kacchan, I need you to help me.”

“What do you think I’m doi-”

“Toshinori-san doesn’t know about Todoroki,” Deku says. Katsuki’s heart shudders to a stop.

“Fuck,” he says. “This is how you’re going to have to introduce him? At the hospital, after you nearly got killed for the guy? That’s how I have to announce your boyfriend?"

Deku's mouth wobbles. "Yeah." He sniffles. "I'm scared, Kacchan. I don’t want Toshinori-san to be mad, or Okaa-san, I just wasn’t ready to tell them and now I have to and it’s out of my hands and they’re going to be so disappointed in me and it hurts, everything hurts, and I’m scared Toshinori-san’s going to be mad at Todoroki-kun but he doesn’t deserve it, it’s my fault, I should have looked but I didn’t, and-"

“Deku, shut the fuck up.”

Deku’s mouth snaps shut.

Katsuki takes a deep breath, forcing down the panic that’s thrashing in his chest. “If Yagi gives you shit for being with stupid half-and-half he can take it up with me. But he loves you, for some fucking reason, so it’ll be okay. Alright? This is All Might. He’s seen us at the worst, he’d never hate you.”

“Thanks, Kacchan.” Deku’s hopeful eyes fade a bit. “So while we’re talking… there’s something I want to say.”

Katsuk fiddles with the blanket on Deku’s bed, uncomfortable at the shift. “Deku-”

“No, listen. Kacchan,” Deku says, as though the words are being drawn out of him from deep, deep down. “I have… I have loved you for a very, very long time. Not romantically, you know, platonic love. But it’s only now that I’m starting to really love you. The real you, not the one who lived in my head. Does that make sense? Because I need it to make sense for you.”

Katsuki gapes at him, completely thrown. “De- wh- How much fucking morphine did they give you?”

Deku’s mouth wobbles again. “Kacchan, please.”

Katsuki groans, running a hand over his face. “Yes! Yes, you fucking terror, I know. I- this is so embarrassing, you’re going to be kicking yourself when you aren’t high any more. Yes, I know, and I- I get it too, or whatever. You nerd.”

The watery, beaming smile he gets at that makes his heart twist. “You haven’t called me a nerd in ages.”

“No time like the present. Sit still, you’re going to fuck up your arm even more if you don’t stop moving. And you better be done dropping bombs on this conversation, this is already way too fucking much for me to handle.”

“I think I’m done.”

“Good.”

oOo

By the time Eijirou and Todoroki get back to Midoriya’s room, Midoriya and Bakugou have apparently had whatever conversation they needed to and Bakugou’s leaning against the wall. Todoroki makes a beeline to Midoriya’s side, putting his bottled tea aside as he goes. Bakugou rolls his eyes and gets out of the way, pushing the chair over for Todoroki to sit in.

Todoroki sits down at his side, eyes glued to Midoriya's face as he reaches over to gently take his good hand. "How are you feeling?"

“I’ve been better,” Midoriya says, but he’s smiling and his eyes are soft as he squeezes Todoroki’s hand. “The morphine is finally working.”

“Good.”

Bakugou rolls his eyes and stalks out the door. Eijirou sighs internally but walks over to Midoriya, smiling down at him.

“Hey man.” Eijirou gives him his best reassuring smile.

“Hi, Kirishima-kun,” Midoriya says, smiling back. It’s not as sunny as it usually is, but it’s still bright. “Sorry about all of this, I didn’t think Kacchan would pull you out of work.”

Eijirou shrugs. “I would have been way too worried about you and him to do anything if I hadn’t come, so I’m glad to be here. I’m sure half the office will be waiting on news about you as soon as it gets out.”

Todoroki squeezes Midoriya’s good hand. “Iida and Uraraka should be here soon. Shinsou said he would come if he could get away.”

Midoriya’s mouth wobbles, and Eijirou quickly grabs a tissue for him. “I feel so bad, making everybody worry. I’m going to get a gift basket for the ambulance people, they were so nice...”

Judging by the look on Todoroki’s face, this isn’t the first time he’s said this.

“I’ll step out,” Eijirou says. “If I don’t see you again today, just know I’m cheering for you bro!”

“Thank you, Kirishima-kun,” Midoriya says, eyes sparkling. “You’re very kind.”

“Awww.”

Bakugou’s waiting a bit down the hall, scowl firmly in place as he looks at his phone. Eijirou takes a moment to compose himself before walking over and sliding an arm around his waist. Bakugou puts his phone away and leans into him, turning to bury his face against Eijirou’s neck.

That’s when it really hits him how bad it is. Bakugou's not shy about physical affection when he wants it, sure, but it's not exactly common for him to blatantly seek comfort where others can see them.

“You okay?” Eijirou murmurs, rubbing his back.

Bakugou shakes his head, not pulling his face back. “I fucking hate hospitals.”

"Can you drink a little water for me?" Eijirou asks, nudging his hands with the bottle. "We'll be here a while and I bet you only had a drink with your meds this morning."

Bakugou reluctantly lifts his and and does as asked, not fighting Eijirou's reassuring arm around his waist. Eijirou's about to offer to go get food when Bakugou's eyes fix on something down the hall.

"Oh, shit," Bakugou hisses, and Eijirou looks down the hall to see frazzled blond hair and an emaciated form in a very expensive suit. "How the fuck did they get here so fast? Stay put, I have to run interference before Yagi tears the hospital down."

Eijirou takes the water bottle Bakugou shoves at him, and watches him walk forward to intercept Yagi. As he comes closer, his face comes into stark relief, and Eijirou shrinks back a little.

Eijirou's never seen Yagi as anything less than happy and smiling. He's not smiling now.

"Bakugou-shounen," he says, and Midoriya Inko steps out from behind him with wide eyes. "Where is he? What's happened? We were only told that he was injured and to come quickly."

“He got hit by a car,” Bakugou says, and Inko gasps, grabbing Yagi’s arm to stabilize herself. “He’s fine, probably just a concussion and some scrapes aside from his arm. His arm is pretty fu- messed up. Deku was the one at fault, it was an accident. Todoroki’s in the room with him now.”

"Todoroki-kun is here?" Yagi frowns. "Why?"

“Todoroki’s his boyfriend,” Bakugou says bluntly. “They started dating a bit ago, and they weren’t ready to tell you. Deku got hit chasing after something Todoroki threw in the road.”

The pure anger on Yagi’s face is going to haunt Eijirou’s nightmares for years. Yagi is a good man, a kind man, but when that eternal smile drops and those vivid blue eyes start to glow, he’s beyond terrifying. Eijirou backs up against the wall as if it’ll somehow absorb him and keep him from being seen by those terrible eyes.

“Where is he,” Yagi says without inflection, eyes flicking around as if he can see through the walls to pick out his foster son.

“You back the fuck off right now,” Bakugou hisses, standing firmly in the way. “He’s scared and in a lot of fucking pain, and you going in there to rip his boyfriend to shreds for something Deku did to himself is going to wreck everything for good. He made the choice to run after the damn thing, it wasn’t Todoroki’s fault alone.”

“Todoroki-”

“Has his own goddamn problems,” Bakugou snarls, not budging. Yagi looms over him but Bakugou just juts his chin out, glaring. “Todoroki might be the only person who’s ever been healthy for him, and they’re in love. And you, if you want to keep your relationship with him, are going to leave that alone. He’s so fucking scared of what you’re going to think about it, okay? He’s fucking terrified. Todoroki’s ready to lose his job, and he’s still right there at Deku’s side. You want your precious heir to stay yours? You are going to go in there as All Might. He doesn’t need you scared, he needs someone who can fight his fears and win. And that’s the Yagi Toshinori who found us in the gutter and told us, “Everything is okay, I am here.” He needs you to be his father, his hero.”

Yagi seems to deflate with a deep breath, hands unclenching. Katsuki’s hands, Eijirou sees, are shaking.

“My apologies, my boy,” Yagi says quietly, bowing his head as he takes another deep breath. “I forgot myself.”

“Then fucking remember,” Bakugou says, straightening up. “You’ve never had the luxury of a frown.”

Yagi blinks down at him, and then smiles. It’s not as strong as his usual, but there’s a bit of pride in it, a kind of power that leaves Eijirou almost breathless. Bakugou’s shoulders relax, his hands going loose. Yagi is a threat no more, though the image of him as he once was in all his glory lingers on. “You have grown into a wise man, Katsuki.”

Bakugou shakes his head, stepping aside. “Shut up. Room 322.”

Eijirou watches the group pass, and Bakugou comes to him and leans against the wall next to him. Eijirou clears his throat. "Well. That was terrifying."

"Whatever." Bakugou runs a hand through his hair. "Look, I'm going to be here all day. I'll be okay, I've got Auntie and Yagi here with me. Go back to work."

It stings a little, and Eijirou frowns. "But…"

"But nothing, you've got a shitton of work still to do for Fashion Week." Bakugou slumps, lifting his glasses to rub at his eyes. "Thanks. For answering and coming with me. I definitely needed you. But I don't want you to have to sit here doing nothing while we wait for Deku to go in to surgery. I'll call you when he's out."

"Okay," Eijirou says reluctantly, after giving him a long look. "If you start feeling even a little bit bad, call me, okay? Text me, send smoke signals, whatever you have to do. I’ll break down a door to come get to you. I'm going to arrange with Fat to take a day off sometime this week so I can be with you, I can do paperwork at home."

It's a testament to how rattled he is that Bakugou only nods. Heart aching, Eijirou presses a kiss to his forehead and lets it linger until Bakugou lets out a shuddering breath and relaxes against him.

"Love you, Katsuki," he says softly.

"Love you too," Bakugou says, and gives him a ghostly smile.

Work is long. Eijirou frets the entire time, and by the time he gets back to Bakugou's apartment he's worn out from the stress. He hits the gym hard after he gets the text that the surgery has finally, finally started, and works out for two hours before heading back up to make dinner. He hears nothing for a long time and finally heads to bed. It's cold without Bakugou in it too.

The phone rings at 12, and Eijirou fumbles it to his ear.

"Hey, babe."

“Surgery was a success,” Bakugou says. His voice crackles a little down the line. “No complications, he took the anaesthesia well. He goes home tomorrow night, if everything goes well. Nothing in his hand was broken except his ring and pinky fingers, the lucky fucker, but he’s going to be scarred as shit and he’s got more metal than a Swedish guitarist in his arm now. He’s got a shitton of stitches. Radius and ulna were both broken, they put rods and pins in.”

Eijirou winces. “Ouch.”

“I’m heading home. See you in an hour.”

“Love you,” Eijirou yawns, but the phone’s already gone dead. He's asleep when Katsuki climbs into bed, but in the morning he wakes up to a faceful of blond hair and his boyfriend doing his best impression of an octopus.

Katsuki heads back to the hospital early the next morning, and sends him a picture of a very sleepy Midoriya throwing up a peace sign. The day is quiet. He keeps up with Katsuki via text through the day, gets confirmation that Midoriya’s been released into his mother’s care, and goes home to Katsuki valiantly pretending that he doesn’t actually care about Midoriya with absolutely zero success.

The next day goes well. Eijirou finally manages to secure working from home, which will hopefully help Bakugou calm down from the tightly wound ball of anxiety that he's been knotted up in. There are a ridiculous number of little wax figures on their table at the moment. He checks in with Midoriya through text, gets a garbled but reassuring message back, and picks up takeout spicy curry for Bakugou on his way home. They eat, they make out on the couch, Katsuki watches him play Portal 2, and they go to bed.

A simple day. A boring day. And the next day, when he wakes up, Eijirou can spend it with his boyfriend.

oOo

Something wakes him in the dark.

Eijirou stirs, blinking in confusion at the ceiling. "What?" He mumbles, craning his head around Katsuki's pouf of hair to look at the clock. The glowing red letters inform him it's 3:18 AM. Why is he awake?

From out in the hall, he hears a strange skritching noise. It's faint, very faint, but there. He goes tense. In his arms, Katsuki stirs.

"Whassit?" He mumbles against Eijirou's chest.

"I don't know," Eijirou says, and jolts when he hears the door open. "The door."

Katsuki rolls over to look at the clock and groans. There's a set of muffled thumps, soft padding, and the bedroom door creaks open.

Eijirou freezes as he hears someone enter the room. Katsuki doesn't seem worried though, just sighs and flicks on the lamp. It's Midoriya, blinking in the sudden light. Eijirou jerks at how close he is. How had he moved so fast? He's hovering over the bed like an uncertain child, scared to wake his parents. The lamplight makes him look ghoulish, his eyes sunken in his skull.

“Sorry,” Midoriya mumbles. He's haggard, dark circles under his eyes, and he's holding his arm tight to his body in its sling and cast. He sways where he stands, as if he hasn't been sleeping.

Katsuki groans, climbing out of bed. Eijirou is stupidly grateful he didn't sleep in the nude. “Sit down before you fall over.”

“I can't sleep.”

“I know. Let me get the futon.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Shut up.”

“I- okay.”

Midoriya sits on the floor with a heavy thump, and Eijirou gets out of bed to come and crouch in front of him. His pupils are huge, and he sways as he tries to focus on Eijirou's face. Now that Eijirou’s heart has stopped trying to escape his chest, he’s found himself worried for his friend. Midoriya really doesn’t look good.

"Hey man," Eijirou says, keeping his voice gentle. "When did you take your pain meds?"

"Kirishima-kun, you have really great eyelashes," Midoriya informs him seriously. "Like. Really good ones. Why don't you model? You should model."

"Thanks dude, I try," Eijirou smiles, doing his best to be non-threatening and reassuring. "When did you take your pain meds?"

"Oh. I… I think an hour ago. I was careful, I was really careful, I cut them in half and took them with water." He leans forward, letting his head thump on Eijirou's shoulder. His voice drops to a whisper. "I'm hungry and everything still hurts really bad. Really really bad. But I don’t want to take too many. What if I take too many?"

Eijirou’s stomach swoops. “You’ve only taken half? How many times did you only take half?”

“Three, I think?”

Eijirou, who’s broken no less than 5 bones in his life, almost screams. Instead, he wrestles down his horror and smiles again, reassuring. Midoriya sits back up and blinks big, unsteady eyes at him. “I’m going to get you some water and give you the other half of one, okay? We’ll make sure you’re safe. I’m pretty sure you’re pain delirious.”

Midoriya’s mouth wobbles. “K-kirishima-kun,” he says, and gives a tiny, heartbreaking sob. “You’re so nice.”

Eijirou melts, bending back down to wrap him in a hug. “Oh, man, you’re okay. C’mere, up you get, come sit on the bed.”

Katsuki comes back with the spare futon, blanket, and a pillow in little time, and tosses them out on the floor. A pill bottle is tossed to Eijirou for safekeeping, and he catches it easily. “C’mon, Deku. Did you bring clothes in the taxi?”

Midoriya sniffles. “Yeah. In the genkan, for tomorrow.” He’s dressed in a soft pair of loose pants and a really very tight black tank top with some nonsense slogan on it.

“Then that’s a problem for tomorrow,” Eijirou says, reassuring. “Come one, let’s have you take the other half and then you can sleep, okay?”

Midoriya nods, and after only a bit of prodding finally takes the other half with some water. He’s eased onto the floor, careful of his arm, and in minutes he’s out like a light. Katsuki sts down hard on the bed, rubbing his forehead and muttering something in what sounds like it might be Chinese. He grabs his phone and shoots a text off, probably to Inko to let her know where her wayward child is.

“Well,” Eijirou says, as exhaustion hits him again. “That… happened.”

“Fuck,” Katsuki says eloquently.

“...Why is he in the bedroom again?”

Katsuki has the good grace to wince at Eijirou’s slightly sharp tone. “He comes here when he can’t sleep. Says I’m scarier than anything he could ever fucking dream up. Apparently I’m scarier than vehicular damage, too.” His voice is sleep rough, and he keeps rubbing at his eyes. “Hasn’t done it in a while. Should’a known.”

Eijirou sighs. “Okay. Let’s just… let’s just go back to bed, now that I know we’re not about to get murdered.”

Katsuki eyes him. “You’re mad.”

“I’m not thrilled,” Eijirou confirms. “I’m tired, and I thought we were about to get killed in our bed. Just… let’s just sleep, and deal with this in the morning. I have paperwork to do tomorrow, and you get to play host since I'll be busy.”

Katsuki winces. "Shit."

Eijirou climbs back under the covers, rolling over to face the wall.

"Ei…"

"We can talk in the morning," Eijirou says, the adrenaline crash making him cranky. "Go back to sleep."

The last thing he remembers before falling back asleep is Katsuki gently kissing the curve of his shoulder.

oOo

They all wake up late. Katsuki drags himself out of bed the earliest to go down to the gym and put himself through his morning workout. Eijirou joins him half an hour in, neither of them saying anything as Eijirou goes through his stretches and then heads for the weights. They head back up together when done, still not speaking, but Eijirou presses a quick kiss to Katsuki's temple as they walk back inside. A quick shared shower later, both of them still basking in the silence, and they make it back to the bedroom.

Deku's blinking bleary eyes over and over on the futon, and Katsuki crouches down to look at him.

“M’up,” Deku mumbles. His face seems sleep swollen, his eyes not focusing well. “Sorry.”

“Shut up. Go sit on the couch, I’ll make breakfast in a bit. And take your pain meds, the whole pill this time.”

“Kay.”

Katsuki helps him up and shoos him out the door. He stumbles along, and Katsuki doesn’t hear any crashes, so he calls it a success.

“We need to talk about this.”

Katsuki would really love to say that those words don’t make his blood run cold, but that would be an outright lie. He closes the door, taking a deep breath to calm himself even though he just wants to bolt for the door and run forever. It doesn’t matter. He needs to face this, because this is becoming Eijirou’s place as much as his, and he has a say in it. It just about kills him to admit it, after all the work he’s done to make his place strictly his own. Slowly, carefully, he turns around to face his boyfriend. He can feel the anger trying to rise, but the fear is waging an effective war against it, never mind the calm morning they've just shared.

Eijirou looks nervous but determined. He’s stupidly beautiful when he’s just woken up, hair down in his face and pants hanging low on his hips. Katsuki kind of hates how much his heart leaps at the sight.

“Yeah,” Katsuki says. “Okay. Let’s talk.”

“Look,” Eijirou says quietly, “I know he was in your life first. I know that you’re always going to be tangled up in each other, I’ve accepted that. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve ever had any kind of emotional relationship that’s near what the two of you feel for each other, and honestly I don’t think I could if I tried, or that I’d want to. But from the outside looking in, right now this… this whatever it is doesn’t look good.”

“I know,” Katsuki says, biting down his temper as it flares up on instinct at the slightest sign of judgement. He knows damn well that Eijirou’s not trying to hurt him. “I know. You live here now, you didn’t sign up for late night visitors breaking in. We’re- we’re codependent. We know it’s not healthy, we’ve been working on it for years. You don't deserve getting stuck in the middle of it.”

Eijirou winces at the word, running his hand through his hair. “Codependent is a little strong-”

“You got a better term for when two people are so tied together they feel like it’s impossible to function without the other one there?” Katsuki asks. Suddenly he feels impossibly tired. “Because I don’t. We’re codependent. We are. We did better for a while when he was on exchange and I was off for months at a fucking time in Europe but we just… we fell back into it when we got back home. Used to be the more time we'd spend near each other the worse we'd get.”

He sits down on the bed, the energy going out of him. Eijirou tentatively sits next to him and offers a hand. Katsuki takes it, squeezing hard.

“You didn’t know me when everything was really fucking bad,” Katsuki says lowly. “We’ve got inverted symptoms from each other. He wanted to help with everything I did to make me happy, I’d interpret it as pity and get angry. I’d want to control everything he was doing and demanded he follow orders, he’d drown in guilt for standing up for himself because it was wrong. We couldn’t keep up boundaries, we’re still bad at that. I don’t know how Auntie made it through living with us until we evened out, I really fucking don’t, we were at each others throats over the tiniest shit. It’s uh… it’s learned. Codependency. I picked it up from my parents, and Deku… Deku picked it up from me.”

Eijirou swears softly in Swedish, leaning over to kiss his forehead. Katsuki closes his eyes against the sting that’s starting up at the tenderness in that kiss. “I’m so sorry, Katsuki.”

Katsuki leans against him, taking another deep breath to calm his tight throat. “S’okay. We’re getting better, a little. Boundaries are hard, they’re so fucking hard. We fight each other on them all the damn time.”

“I know.”

Katsuki turns so he can bury his face against Eijirou’s neck. He wants to just climb in his lap and hide from his problems, to sleep until they’ve all died or gone far, far away. He wants the world to disappear for just a moment, for everything to vanish, and he knows that none of it will. He’s trapped in a cage of his own making, and he has to deal with the consequences.

But.

“I can't take his key. Don't ask me to,” Katsuki chokes out. The words are hard to say, old fear of someone else in control of his life in any way rising up. Because this is a line, it really is, a hard line that he made himself in allowing Deku in his life. If Eijirou pushes on this, he knows it’ll destroy him and all the hard work he’s done to trust people in his space.

Eijirou strokes his hair, soothing. His hands are big and sturdy. They feel like they could fit the whole world in them and still have room to spare. “I don’t mind that he’s here. I really don’t, I like Midoriya a lot! I don’t care that he’s over and I am too. All I want is for him to give you or me a heads up that he’s coming. That’s it. I just want there to be some boundaries that we can all respect.”

Katsuki’s sigh is shaky with relief and Eijirou stops petting him.

“Hey,” he says quietly, and Katsuki forces himself to sit up and look at him. There’s some unnamed emotion on Eijirou’s face, a memory of an old pain there as his eyes search Katsuki's face. “I need you to promise me that if I ask too much while you guys are working this out that you’ll shut me down. I leave your stuff with him alone, it’s way too deep for a meathead like me-”

“Hey, fuck you-”

Eijirou plows on, determined, “But I do want to help. And if the things I’m doing are hurting you, I need you to tell me. I can’t read minds, Katsuki. I read you pretty good now, but I’m not the one in that pretty head of yours.”

“Aww,” Katsuki croons, smirking to break the tension. “You think I’m pretty?”

Eijirou goes a lovely shade of red. “I’m trying to be serious here, you are such a dick sometimes.”

“And you love me anyway.”

“Sure do.”

Katsuki leans in, kissing his cheek and squeezing their still connected hands. “I’ll tell you. I can’t promise I won’t flip my shit while doing it, because I’m still a fucking mess when it comes to Deku, but I’ll tell you. And it’s not your fault if my temper goes, okay? That’s on me.”

“Okay.” Eijirou takes a deep breath, closing his eyes as he breathes out. “Didn’t think this was going to be how I’d start my day, but here I am I guess. Was this a fight? Did we have our first real fight?”

Katsuki stares at him, incredulous. “No, you asshole, the first time we fought was the first time we played Mario Kart and you got mad about me blue shelling you and sulked half the fucking night.”

Eijirou goes pink. “Oh yeah. We need to get rid of that game, we both get way too competitive.”

“Says the man 5 behind me in wins.”

“I’m going to strangle you.”

Breakfast is a subdued affair. Deku eats slowly, struggling with both his non-dominant hand and the painkillers in his system. Kirishima is relatively tense, making brittle conversation while Katsuki nurses what's turning into a headache. Once they've finished Deku's shunted to the couch, where he rests in some sort of half awake/half asleep state, and Katsuki does the dishes while Kirishima gets his laptop and piles of papers to work on.

Katsuki putters around the house, occasionally getting grabbed by Kirishima for sharp, needy kisses before being released. Kirishima is all muted spikes, and Katsuki tries not to feel horribly flattered by how blatantly possessive he's being. He fails.

Once lunch is done, he heads to the bedroom. He has something to get.

He fishes the cigarettes out of their hiding place at the top of his closet, grimacing as he looks at them. They're unopened but recently purchased, picked up on his way home from the hospital the first night. Katsuki isn't an idiot. He's smelled the lingering smoke on Deku before, and knows full well Deku would never dare smoke with Inko around. His addiction is probably rearing it's nicotine stained head right about now.

Sighing, he leaves the bedroom. Deku's not in the living room anymore, but Kirishima is. He's hunched over his paperwork, mouth twisted as he glares at it. His laptop is up and glowing as well.

Katsuki kisses the top of his head. "How much left?"

Kirishima points at another two stacks, grimacing. "That much."

"Shit." He bends further to kiss his cheek, and finally Kirishima turns to kiss him properly. It lingers, the taste of him sweet, like early spring honey. "Kill the fuckers dead."

"You say the sweetest things," Kirishima sighs, fond. "I will."

Katsuki kisses him once more, this time with a bit of teeth, and heads to the balcony.

Deku’s face is drawn taught from the pain that medicine can't touch, eyes closed as he sits unnaturally still in the sunlight on one of the comfortable chairs Kirishima had bullied Katsuki into getting. The cicadas are yelling their eternal cry, the waves of heat rising from the pavement coming to wash over the balcony. A good day for drying laundry, if not for how heavily the humidity clings to the air. Katsuki steps out into the warmth and immediately feels sapped of strength. It's a beautiful, clear day though.

Katsuki taps the cigarettes against the side of Deku's head, bumping him again until Deku cracks his eye open and reaches up to grab them. “Don’t smoke in the house. Out here’s okay.”

The look of pure guilt on Deku’s face makes him regret his decision, but he forces himself to sit down in the opposite chair. Deku fumbles out a cigarette, not looking at him, and then pauses.

“Do you have a light?”

They both freeze simultaneously. Deku starts to apologize but Katsuki waves him off, reaching in his pocket to pull out the small zippo he keeps on him. He flicks it open, the flame popping to life.

There’s a long pause, both of them staring at the flame. Slowly, Deku puts the cigarette down unlit. Katsuki lets the fire die, ignoring the craving to let it grow bigger. They sit in silence, their chairs creaking with each slight shift of weight.

“It’s a bit on the nose,” Deku says quietly, staring down at his lap. “You with fire, me with something that’ll hurt me.”

“A little.” Katsuki stares as the cigarettes. “You brought me a lighter once. In Jersey, when I didn’t have one.”

“Yeah.” Deku cradles his casted arm. “I… you were having a really bad week, I think. I didn’t know what to do to help.”

They glance at each other, and then away. Katsuki can see Kirishima sitting at the table, watching the pair of them through the sliding door as he works at his laptop. It’s reassuring. They can’t get in too much trouble if Kirishima’s there to diffuse them.

“Changes.”

Katsuki tears his eyes from Kirishima. “What?”

Deku isn’t looking at him. “I think I want to make some changes.”

"Yeah?" Katsuki says, looking back. "And why's that?"

“I’m tired,” Deku says, his voice cracking. “I am tired of being sick. I am tired of hurting myself. I’m tired of feeling a thousand years old, and I am tired of being sad. I want to be happy. I want to laugh more again. I don’t want to feel bitter and tired and overworked. I want to make jokes and both of us to groan and you to yell at me without actually yelling. I want to hold Todoroki-kun and not feel like I don’t deserve him. I want to be better. I want to have fun again.”

He reaches up to hurry and brush the tears away from his face. Katsuki watches, some uncomfortable combination of hope and exhaustion wriggling through him.

“It’s good to know what you want.” He says at last. “And it’s about damn time.”

Deku gives him a wobbly smile. “Thanks, Kacchan. I, um. I really do want you to come with me to therapy one day. If you’d be willing? I know we talked about it a long time ago but I think I’m ready and able to have you with me now and I was just thinking it might be really nice so-”

Katsuki waves him off. He’s so tired that his usual defenses are down. “Already fuckin’ told you ages ago that I would. Just tell me when and I’ll go.”

“Okay.” Deku relaxes a little. “Thanks.”

“Whatever.” There’s no bite to it though, and Deku definitely notices. He doesn’t call him out on it, at least.

"I'm going to stay with Todoroki tonight, he said he'll come get me and he’ll head over soon. Sorry for ruining your day with Kirishima-kun, I didn't think he'd be working here today."

The apology soothes him. Katsuki feels a bit of frustration disappear. "Whatever. I should’ve known your needy ass would show up here, anyway.” Deku winces, and Katsuki adds, "Shitty Hair over there wants us to set up some boundaries."

Deku nods, biting his lip. "Yeah that's… probably something we should do. We're bad at those. What kind of boundaries?"

"Just call before you come over so we have some warning." Katsuki hesitates before adding, "It's a good idea, gives me a chance to brace and get my shit together so we don’t rip each others throats out.”

Deku groans. “Yeah, that’s a really good idea. Kirishima-kun is too good for us.”

“Too good for you, definitely,” Katsuki snickers, and easily dodges Deku’s kick.

Deku’s phone buzzes, and he picks it up to look at the message.

“Half-and-half?” Katsuki asks.

“Yes, he’s heading over. Can he come pick me up here, or do I need to meet him at the end of the block?” Deku asks. It’s not a forceful question, just one that needs clarity, and Katsuki hates it. He doesn’t want Todoroki in his house, he doesn’t want Todoroki to know where he lives. But… He doesn’t want Deku to deal with any more pain than he’s already in.

“Give him the address and tell him to come up.”

“Oh.” Deku relaxes a little, though the stress and pain lines by his eyes aren’t going away. “Okay. Thanks, Kacchan.”

“Whatever.” Katsuki reaches over, fluffing his hair to make him squawk. “...I’m trying, you know. This was a wake up call for both of us. We’ve both gotta get better at this shit.”

Deku looks up through his curls at him, biting his lip. “I know. It… it really makes you think, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, “Near death experiences will make you think, fucking hell. Come on, lets get your painkillers in you before you start hurting again.”

“Okay…”

The painkillers hit Deku hard, and Katsuki isn’t surprised to find him napping minutes later. Eijirou excuses himself to take a nap of his own, leaving Katsuki to tackle the dishes in the kitchen and wait for the app connected to the doorbell to make the phone buzz against his leg. It’s a good half hour before Todoroki arrives, and by the time he does Deku’s blearily awake again. Katsuki helps him up and to the door, definitely not inviting Todoroki in.

The man himself looks a little startled when Katsuki yanks open the door to reveal an obviously drugged Deku, eyebrows raising. Deku stumbles to him and leans in, humming happily.

“He’s had a lot of painkillers,” Katsuki says, reluctantly letting go of Deku’s good arm. Deku’s head flops into Todoroki’s shoulder, nuzzling him. Todoroki doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of the motion, and just wraps an arm around him. “Don’t let him get away with doing housework, he’ll try to be useful even if he’s supposed to be recovering.”

“I won’t. I have a housekeeper, and my brother has made enough food to last a week.” Todoroki hesitates, grimacing. “Hopefully it’s edible. And not edibles.”

Katsuki rubs his forehead, feeling his temper spike and barely keeping a lid on it. “Get out of my house.”

Todoroki shrugs, and leaves with Deku tucked safely in his arm. Katsuki shuts and locks the door. He lets his head fall down onto it, thumping faintly as he lets the growing quiet of the apartment fill the space back up with calm. It’s never an issue with Kirishima there, but Kirishima… Kirishima doesn’t come with 20 odd years of baggage and the desire to both coddle and violently injure him.

“Fucking hell,” Katsuki sighs, and drags himself to the bedroom, pushing open the door. Eijirou’s already in bed, a book in his hands.

Katsuki sighs, dropping down onto the bed. “He’s gone. Finally.”

Eijirou nods, putting the book aside and laying down. Katsuki reaches over, gently stroking his face. Eijirou is far too beautiful all the time, those pretty eyes and his fine, strong bones so wonderful to look at. Eijirou leans into his hand, eyes closing.

“I’m sorry for today,” he says quietly. “We didn’t get a lot of time together and I was kind of pissed all day.”

“Don’t be.” Katsuki nudges him over, laying down so that Eijirou can roll over and curl up in his arms. “You’ve got every right to be jealous and demand my attention. You have a say on my time too, and this house. I ought to be getting rent from you, you're here so much. It's your space and having people barge in makes you upset. You hide it, but you’re just as possessive a little shit as me, aren’t you?”

Eijirou buries his face against Katsuki’s neck in reply, hiding so Katsuki can’t see his face. If he had to guess by how warm it feels, he’s blushing. “S’not right.”

"Maybe not, but it's fine, okay? So hush. You can be a little possessive, it’s kinda hot.”

Eijirou whines against his neck. “Nooo.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki grins, stroking his hair. “Want to do something now we’re alone? Games? I can probably handle a movie today if we keep the sound low and put subtitles on.”

“I just wanna watch you play Breath of the Wild and relax,” Eijirou admits, lifting his head.

“I can do that.”

Eijirou cheers, kissing his cheek and rolling over to let him up. Katsuki gets his Switch and climbs back in bed, turning it on. A quiet afternoon turns to an early evening, and Katsuki sleeps better than he has in weeks.

oOo

Despite literally everyone’s objections, Deku is back to work on Friday. Friday is a busy day for everyone in Katsuki’s life, apparently, because he wakes up wildly pissed off due to Eijirou’s alarm not going off and Eijirou himself shrieking directly in his ear when he woke up and saw the time.

He understands though. Eijirou's day is set to be running around Tokyo to look at venues for his showcase with Obnoxious French Sparkles, who is apparently not too big on people being late. He drags himself out of bed to get some food together while Eijirou pulls on his kilt and a soft linen pull-on shirt that definitely belongs to Katsuki. Katsuki ends up driving him to work to speed the process up, and gets a blisteringly hot kiss for his troubles before Eijirou bolts out of the car and takes off at lightning speed towards the lobby, where Aoyama is waiting with his mouth in a tight little moue of impatience.

And because he’s already there and had literally nothing better to do, Katsuki parks in the closest lot and heads in to work.

Purple Aizawa raises an eyebrow when Katsuki hunts him down. He looks like he’s been run over by a bus, the bags under his eyes extremely heavy. “Didn’t expect to see you here today.”

“Wasn’t expecting to be here today. Any paperwork left for me to do?”

“Yeah, actually, we need to update your medical file and a couple other things. And if you’re really bored after that, you could go run messages around.”

Katsuki shrugs. “Why the fuck not.”

So that’s what he does. His day was set to be boring anyway, at least this way he has busy work to keep his brain engaged. He does his paperwork and then gets weighed down with 27 different messages to run around the building. Deku used to do this, when they were teenagers, and Katsuki had too once or twice. It’s oddly nostalgic, being sent up and down the building with all sorts of things to pass on or say. A pair of candlesticks from Midnight go up to Nighteye, who send a bolt of ultra fine wool down to Fourth Kind, who send him to R&D to pick up a roll of trim, and then R&D wants him to go back up to Nighteye to drop off some shoes, and then-

“Can you find Midoriya and give this to him?” Mirio asks without looking up from where he’s examining a shirt collar. He shoves a file folder at him, and Katsuki takes it with a scowl. “Thanks, he’s up on the business floor of All Might somewhere. Sorry I can’t chat, this shirt is fighting me so bad!”

“I literally could not care less,” Katsuki says honestly, and Mirio laughs as he heads out the door.

The receptionist on the business floor waves at him as he comes in, and points him in the direction of the furthest back boardrooms with the added information that a meeting had just concluded with Endeavor. Katsuki ignores the wrinkling annoyance and anger that meld together in his chest as the name and uses his fob to get into the office proper.

It's as hectic as ever, but he meanders through the people and cubicles to the chunk of boardrooms. Sir waves him down a hallway when Katsuki holds up the file at him, still in conversation with Hawks tiny, spit fire designer (and who the hell wore suede and faux fur jackets in a Tokyo summer, anyway).

A few more turns and Katsuki's ears catch the sound of raised voices, one of which is definitely Todoroki Shouto. With deep regret, he follows the sound.

"- believe you would think I would give my approval for this." That's a deep, rumbling voice. Something about it is familiar.

“You think I was asking for you your approval?” That’s Todoroki’s voice, dry and unimpressed. "You’ve never given a shit about who I dated before.”

“Because,” the voice rumbles, “you didn’t date. And now you’re running around like some lovesick puppy after your rival, while I've been doing the hard work of looking through potential wives for you. You will be going to the omiai, and put this foolishness behind you. I gave allowance to your oddities too long."

Katsuki turns the corner to see Todoroki Shouto, Deku, and Todoroki Enji standing in the hall. He’s known, in a vague sort of way, that Enji’s a giant of a man. But knowing and seeing are two different things. Enji is enormous, towering above the pair. He’s twice as wide as Deku and it looks like it’s all muscle, his dark red hair artfully cut and beard luxe.

Katsuki despises him on sight.

“I’m my own man,” Shouto says, straightening up. "It's my life, not yours, and I won't be your breeding bitch for heirs."

It seems for a moment that time holds still. Katsuki can see with crystal clarity what's about to happen, and can't stop it at all. Enji's hand comes up, almost cradling the side of Todoroki's head, and shoves hard.

Todoroki’s head hits the wall hard. The plaster dents with the impact, and his lanky body collapses into a heap of limbs. Deku moves without thought, jumping forward to get between the two, and that’s when Todoroki Enji’s hand comes up again.

“Don’t you tou-”

The sound of a backhanded slap echoes in Katsuki’s ears.

Deku’s head snaps to the side, making him stumble back, and almost trip on Todoroki’s fallen legs. He’s tiny compared to the giant that is Endeavor’s CEO, his right arm trapped against his side and his body still battered from earlier in the week. He is utterly, completely defenseless.

And Katsuki has never taken well to people hurting what’s his.

Katsuki’s there before he even knows he’s moved, standing in front of Deku and Todoroki. His arms are thrown out, keeping Deku back from lunging at the asshole in front of them and getting himself sued.

“Get out of my way, boy, this doesn’t concern you,” Todoroki Enji hisses. He’s clearly furious, and Katsuki doesn’t give a fuck.

“Take another step and you’ll regret it,” he promises. For once, the rage hasn’t turned him to flame incarnate. Maybe it's the sight of the younger Todoroki on the ground, his father standing over him, that cooled his head enough to make the rage into something manageable, something cold and hard in his chest. He’s been in Todoroki’s sprawled position too many times, and he's known enough men in power to know exactly how to destabilize them.

Enji's whole face is red as flame, eyes burning into Katsuki's. “You mouthy little whelp,” he snarls, “do you have any idea who you're speaking to?”

Katsuki feels the rage surge and thrash under his skin, begging for him to let it loose. “Do you?” He takes a careful, deliberate step forward, getting right into Enji's face and forcing his attention away from Deku and Todoroki. He bares his teeth in a parody of a smile, and points up at the ceiling. An unobtrusive black orb stares at them. "Smile, fucker, you're on camera. If you don't want this splashed in the front page of every blog, newspaper, and tabloid in the city you'll fuck off and never come back. And if you try to spin it… who the fuck do you think is going to believe you when there's witnesses to you trying to get physical with an employee and Yagi's eldest son, one with a broken arm that can’t fight back?”

Todoroki pales, eyes glittering with anger.

“If I ever see you so much as breathe on Midoriya Izuku again,” Katsuki says, voice calm and perfectly level as he stares into those horrible, near glowing blue eyes, “I will rip your intestines from your throat and hang you with them like a trophy before setting that stupid beard on fire to give you a scar to match your son’s. I can smell the oils you use on it from here. It'd go up like a roman candle. Lay a single finger on your son again and I’ll cut off your hand for touching what will one day be my brother. Run home, Todoroki Enji. This is my turf, and in a pissing contest with me I can promise you, you'll lose.”

“You think you can threaten me?” Todoroki snaps. “You have no power here-”

“I'm not scared of you, and I have plenty of power,” Katsuki says, with all the contempt that he can well up from under the rage. "Test me and you'll regret it. I devour nightmares whole, and violence is a sacrament I savor. Get the fuck out of my house.”

Enji turns on his heel and stalks away. As soon as he’s turned the corner, Katsuki slams his fist into the wall. The plaster cracks around his hand. The pain radiates up his arm and he takes a slow, shuddering breath, and then another.

The rage simmers down, slow and careful, and he closes his eyes and forces himself to breathe.

“Kacchan.”

Deku slams into him, hugging him so tight he's pretty sure his circulation is going to cut off, shoving his face into his chest. His fingers dig in hard, the sharp nails pressing in through his shirt, and Katsuki gingerly hugs him back. It's foreign and uncomfortable, but the anger goes out.

“Sorry,” he mutters, and Deku shakes his head against his shirt.

“No, no, Kacchan- Kacchan, you did the right thing. You didn't even hurt him, oh my god, I'm sorry, I’m so useless right now-”

“Shut it, Deku,” Katsuki sighs, and ruffles his hair before pulling him off. Deku immediately sticks back to him. “Get your stupid boyfriend, he hit the wall hard.”

Todoroki grimaces as Katsuki turns to look at him, carefully standing up. “It’s nothing I haven’t had before.”

“Don’t care,” Katsuki says flatly. “Head injuries get checked, no exceptions. Deku, stop holding me, go help him. I’m calling Sir and Fat.”

Deku blanches. “Why Sir?”

“Because Sir’s strong enough to keep both you idiots under control and can issue an order not to let that fucker in the building again. Don't give me that look, you two sit the fuck down. You especially, half-and-half, don’t fuck up your head any more than it is.”

He makes a quick call and sits back to wait.

Fat's there in minutes, Amajiki hot on his heels. Katsuki's never seen Fat be anything but happy and smiling. He's not smiling now. He's intimidating and reassuring all at once, his massive bulk solid enough to take any hit. Suddenly, it’s not too hard to think that he was once a policeman. He kneels down next to Todoroki, businesslike even in his neon orange.

“Let's look at ya, big guy,” Fat says, and pulls out his keys. There's a tiny flashlight hanging from them, and he flicks it on. “What's your name?”

“Todoroki Shouto.”

“Year?

Todoroki answers correctly again. He gets the Prime Minister correct, the date, and his eyes are responding correctly.

Fat clicks the light off. “You should still go to the hospital an’ get checked out, but I can't force ya. You seem safe but concussions are tricky things, could start showing symptoms later.”

Sir looms up behind him. “He's going. I'll drive him myself. Midoriya, come with as well, I don't want you two separated and fussing. I’ll speak with Toshinori about the incident as well. Even if they are in talks, Endeavor can send a representative instead of a CEO. Amajiki, fetch Mirio here now, I want him coordinating with Miruko to make sure we don’t have an issue on our hands and that Rei has someone guarding her.”

Deku’s eyes go wide with panic. “No, we can’t, the merger-”

“Deku,” Katsuki interrupts, his voice sharp. Deku turns to him, biting his lip. Katsuki just raises an eyebrow. "You want to put him back in danger?"

Deku pales. "Oh."

“Yes, oh. Listen to Sir, you little shit, now aint the fuckin’ time to buck the system.” His voice has gone rough, the cadences sharp and familiar, and he grimaces as Sir gives him a pointed side-eye. He switches to JSL, which he knows Sir doesn’t speak well enough to catch at full speed. “If you don’t make an appointment to see Mizushima ASAP I’ll hunt you down.

Deku winces, but nods. “I’ll do it today.”

“Good.”

He sees the group off and flounders for a bit. He can’t go to Eijirou. He can’t stand the thought of going to Toshinori until he’s called to give his report. His fingers itch to light something, anything to get this awful feeling out of his chest, and he finds himself turning over the lighter in his pocket.

There’s really only one place he can go.

Hakamata’s in his office, quietly hand stitching something as he watches some movie on his computer. Katsuki tosses his bag on the floor, kicks off his shoes, and faceplants on the couch.

“Long day?” Hakamata asks, unruffled.

Katsuki screams into the cushion in response.

“Mmm, I see. Sir sent me the details of Todoroki-san’s nonsense and let me know you’d probably be coming. Well, you’re welcome to rest as long as you need. Would you like me to call anyone?”

Katsuki shakes his head.

“Alright. Let me know if you want me to turn up the volume on this, it’s a very interesting documentary on Mesopotamia.”

Katsuki just drags a pillow over his head, and Hakamata chuckles.

He makes it a full five minutes before he pulls the pillow off and sits up. “What the fuck is it about fashion that makes people lose their minds. I’ve been a model literally since I was born and I just don’t get it. I mean, I get it, it’s money and power and sex or whatever, but I cannot FUCKING FATHOM how this is my life right now!”

Hakamata hums, apparently unfussed by this outburst. “Allow me to offer you this insight, Bakugou Katsuki- it is the nature of all people in their early 20’s to feel like the world is constantly on fire at any given moment. And when you think you have half a moment to rest, you’ll turn around and find your bathtub on fire.”

“That’s not helpful.”

“It wasn’t meant to be.” Hakamata puts down his stitching to look at him more seriously. “Bakugou, this is the point in your life where change happens at a breakneck pace. Your friends, your family, your health, your schooling, all of it starts to congeal and run away all at once. It is not that your life is particularly dramatic. It is simply that all of these important things are happening in quick succession, they way they do to most people, and right now it’s overwhelming for you thanks to past problems. You are an extremely normal person in an extraordinary line of work. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Katsuki flops back into the couch. “So, what… Deku getting hit, having big emotional breakdowns, Todoroki’s dad showing up and being a dick, that’s all supposed to be normal?”

“Let me see… you’re 24 now?” When Katsuki nods, Hakamata sits back in his chair. “24 was a hard year for me too. I met someone, got engaged, got unengaged, had a parent die, graduated college, got my first big tattoos, and got my first awful job that year. And as I remember, I lived in an awful apartment, my health was in shambles, and I did a lot of crying into ramen and eating out of vending machines because I couldn’t handle how fast everything was. The world doesn’t stop for us to recover each time we’re hit. There are only the moments between the waves to breathe and regain enough strength to go on. Accidents happen. Terrible people happen. There's no grand narrative to your life. Things happen and never stop happening.”

Groaning, Katsuki rubs his forehead. “I hate when you get all philosophical and reasonable on me, you know that? Maybe I just want to mope about my life being shitty.”

“Lead with that next time,” Hakamata suggests, his tall collar twitching in the way that suggests a smile. “Or I’ll continue to dispense wisdom at you.”

“You’re awful.”

“So you’ve told me a number of times, though it has yet to be true. Come here and watch this documentary with me so I can tell you about Sumerian sewing.”

With a sigh, Katsuki gets up and grabs a chair, bringing it over to Hakamata’s desk. “I can’t believe you were engaged once.”

“Yes, well,” Hakamata says, with a very Gallic one-shouldered shrug, “I thought better of it in the end. He was very tall and handsome and good in bed and I didn’t feel a single thing for him emotionally nor him for me. We realized we were being idiots playing into societal desires and thought better of it. We do still call to harp on each other at times, though, I’m fond of him. He’s a year younger than me.”

Katsuki’s eyes narrow. “Isn’t Sakamata a year younger than you?”

Hakamata’s eyes flick to him, unreadable. “Yes, he is. Watch the documentary, Bakugou, it’s good for you.”

Katsuki reluctantly looks forward to find that Hakamata’s already put the subtitles on for him to read, and watches the life of a Mesopotamian man pass on screen. He makes it ten minutes in before he says, “I know what you’re doing.”

“Do you?” Hakamata’s picked his sewing back up.

“You’re distracting me from being mad.”

“And you’re letting me.” Hakamata takes his embroidery snips and cuts some thread. “A year ago half my office would have been wrecked. Right now, you’re angry, but more than that you seem upset. I’d even venture to say scared.”

Was he scared? Katsuki frowns. “I don’t think I’m scared.”

“Give yourself time to process and you’ll find it,” Hakamata sighs. “I’m afraid right now. Not of you, of course, I’m afraid of what Todoroki Enji is going to do when he decides whether or not to throw a temper tantrum. We’ll weather it regardless.” He pauses in his stitching, and carefully puts it down. Katsuki reaches down and pauses the video.

The moment stretches before Hakamata reaches up and undoes his face hiding gear to reveal himself in the full. As always, Katsuki takes a moment to marvel at his beautiful tattoos and piercings. His medusa piercing is new, and bedecked with a fancy light-catching opal.

“I,” Hakamata says quietly, “am also afraid and very upset that someone got violent in front of you again. I had hoped and prayed that you would never have to see that kind of violence again. You’ve had a peaceful life these past few years, even with as hectic as it was, and I had hoped, perhaps foolishly, that the worst was behind you.”

Katsuki looks down at his hands. His fist aches from punching the wall. “I really fucking hoped so too.” The image of Deku being backhanded comes back to him and his fists clench again, hard. “He hit Deku. He hit him so hard he stumbled back, and before that he slammed his own kids head into a wall for backtalking him. My mom got physical but she never threw me into walls. Todoroki said he was used to it.”

“We don’t have a say in how much trauma something leaves us with,” Hakamata says, without pity. “Your pain, Midoriya-kun’s pain, Todoroki-kun’s pain, it’s all on the same plane. It hurt you, so it matters.”

“Does it?” He can’t quite help the quiet pleading in his voice, and his bones grind as he tightens his grip.

“It does.”

Katsuki’s mouth twists, too many emotions warring all at once.

Hakamata closes up his top again. “Up. I’m calling my therapist and you’re going in now, because I know yours won’t have anything close to availability. And no, I don’t want to hear you complain about it with your history and what you just said.”

“Of course mine fucking won’t, she’s the fucking best.” He sighs. “I hate it when you’re competent.”

“I know, and I hate it when you’re clearly not doing well. Put the chair back while I call Inui-san.”

Katsuki does, and follows Hakamata out the door.

There’s a time and a place for arguing. That place is not here, and the time is not now. He sits in Hakamata’s car, listening to blissful silence as Hakamata pulls into traffic. Hakamata drums his fingers on the wheel, Katsuki shoots off some texts explaining what happened and where he’s headed to Kirishima and the idiot squad, and the little omamori hanging from Hakamata’s rearview mirror glitters cheerful in the sunlight. They don’t speak until they’re well into Shinjuku ward.

“I’m only going to say this once,” Katsuki says, breaking the silence. “But thanks for looking out for me all the time.”

"You're welcome." Hakamata drums his fingers in the wheel. "I am fond of you. And I want you to be happy."

"I know," Katsuki mumbles. Hakamata reaches over and ruffles his hair. Katsuki bats at him, whining his annoyance, only to get laughed at.

It will get better. Things will get better. He'll talk to Inui and sort out his head, Todoroki's piece of shit dad will get banned, and at some point he'll see his boyfriend. It's a lull in the waves. Hakamata's right, they'll crash back down soon enough, but for now… for now Katsuki can breathe.