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Exploding Ice Cubes, Literally

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BEEP-

 

BEEP- BEEP-

 

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-

 

Katsuki, I swear if you don’t turn off that alarm –“

 

And the clock exploded.

 

“… That’s the seventeenth clock you destroyed this month.”

 

Bakugou grumbled muffled phrases, wrapping his arm over his boyfriend’s neck. Todoroki nuzzled into the embrace, vaguely reassuring himself that they’d simply purchase another cheap plastic one at Family Mart. The reminder subconsciously brought him back to why they even set an alarm in the first place – and he remembered.

 

Planting a kiss on the blond’s refined jaw, Todoroki whispered, “Katsuki, we have work.” Bakugou’s lashes fluttered at the gesture, as he yawned, tightening his grip around the smaller man. “Katsuki, your breath reeks.”

 

“Shut the fuck up, Shouto, Jesus Christ.” His morning voice scratchy and rough, Bakugou griped. They remained in that fond position for a few lingering minutes, until Bakugou finally released his hold. Todoroki slipped out of bed first, dragging his feet to the bathroom. An underwear soiled with semen hung on the edge of the tub, with two used condoms yet to be disposed of dirtying the tiles. Shouto picked them up and threw them away, as all Saturday mornings began.

 

“Give me an indisputable reason why we still need to attend Valentines’ exclusive interviews when we’re fucking 38 years old.” Hurling the tube of finished toothpaste across the room, Bakugou violently brushed his teeth.

 

“You know they rotate the same couples every five years.”

 

“They should just stick with the shitty teachers.”

 

“I hope you do understand that Aizawa-sensei is 52 this year.”

 

“Bleh.” His arm slung around Todoroki’s hunched shoulder, Bakugou cleansed his mouth and kissed his boyfriend. “Doesn’t fucking reek now, does it?”

 

The other snorted upon that triumphant grin. “Sure, very minty.” Honestly, they both cared less about morning-breath kisses. There were negligible points in a relationship this old, with a refreshed set of priorities.

 

They had been dating since their first year of high school, and it was approximately 22 years since then. It would be an understatement to claim that everything changed, because really, a lot more than just everything changed. They started from dorm mates and were now properly living together, their solo missions during their twenties now mostly accomplished in pairs. The public practically acknowledged them as one team, and although they weakly refuted the notions initially, they grew to accept it over time.

 

Pulling on a formal white button-down and charcoal grey dress pants, Todoroki prepared his attire for the interview, as Bakugou wore his own button-down with black pants, whilst complaining. The agency emphasized that it was a Valentine's interview, and therefore their overall appearance had to scream ‘we’re madly in love’. Bakugou downright refused, and so they ended up with relatively formal clothes together.

 

“I’m going to kill them if they ask me to propose.” Bakugou hastily glanced at his reflection in the mirror and ran a few fingers through his hair.

 

A laugh bubbled from Todoroki, “So you don’t want to propose to me, is what you’re implying?”

 

“Tch,” Clucking his tongue, Ground Zero rolled his eyes and fixed the cowlick of Todoroki’s unruly bedhead. “Of fucking course not. I’m just not going to fire off in public, is all.”

 

Always so sincere, the hetero-shaded man noted, as they shared another brief kiss. “Well, we’re almost 40, so hurry that plan.”

 

“Whatever.”

 

They shuffled outside and locked the door behind them, and headed over to the parking lot, where their flashy red Toyota stood. Bakugou drove, as Todoroki slumped next to him on the seat.

 

22 years, huh, as he scrutinized Bakugou’s complexion, he could definitely tell the power of time. Bakugou was surprisingly young-faced (most likely a trait he inherited from his mother), just some minor wrinkles close to his eyes hinting at his true age. It was his impression and personality that really softened out – of course, Bakugou Katsuki was still intact – he cussed significantly less, and he was much more patient (though their colleagues argued that that was due to Todoroki’s influence).

 

Stepping at the brakes on the red light, Bakugou glanced his way. “What’re you glaring at?”

 

“No, just,” He sucked in a breath as it blinked green in front. “We’re both old.”

 

“Well, we’re 40 soon enough.”

 

“That’s not what I meant.”

 

“I know that.” They sat in reminiscent silence, the hum of the radio barely audible. Bakugou never liked the yappy voices of radio DJs, largely due to Present Mic, who was still famous for his show. Todoroki recalled the day when they finally got their first vehicle, a pick-up truck, which was technically Bakugou’s father’s. The air conditioner malfunctioned every two weeks, and the heater froze up during winter. There was that one time when Bakugou swung the door too hard that it fell off from the hinges.

 

“Remember when we went all the way to Hokkaido on the truck?” Todoroki asked, and Bakugou snorted.

 

“It was a fucking disaster.”

 

It really was. They were running low on gas when there were no gas stations in 30-kilometer radius, and they had absolutely no idea where they were headed, as both of their phones were out of battery and the GPS basically useless.

 

“Why did we even go again?”

 

Bakugou waved his hand mindlessly, “New Years, all that crap. To see the first sunrise.”

 

“All the way to Hokkaido? Seriously?”

 

“It was your idea.”

 

“I must’ve been drunk.”

 

“You actually were,” Swerving to the right, Bakugou continued, “I just felt nice, or shit.”

 

Todoroki chortled – he did faintly remember that he watched a tour advertisement on television about Hokkaido during that afternoon, and drunkenly suggested that they travel all the way there at night. Bakugou clucked his tongue and shook his head in denial, but threw him their coats anyway and had the engine running in their worn out truck. It took hours, and Todoroki slept through most of the journey, but Bakugou shoved him awake every now and then, to see the stars in the mountains, a field of fireflies, and finally the most beautiful sunrise, as they randomly stopped in the middle of a vacant road close to a cliff. He was pretty sober by then, and Bakugou bought canned ginger tea from home – everything was cold, but with Todoroki’s quirk, that was an easy problem solved.

 

“You had some insane acts, you know,” With no particular ire in his tone, Bakugou griped. “Like that time when you fucking seduced me behind a ramen diner –“

 

“In my defense, you were the one that glided your fingers up my naked torso first.”

 

“Well, how am I supposed to react when you’re wearing the ‘please-fuck-me-till-the-morning’ face?”

 

“I was not, false accusations are bad.”

 

“Eat shit, Shouto.” Parking by the sidewalk of the building, the blond snickered as they both departed from the car.

 

Reporters and staff swarmed them at the entrance, with a few concerning girls that were panting erotically with digital cameras in their grasp. Bakugou swatted most of them away, cussing and snarling, as Todoroki patted the former’s back in futile reassurance. Just getting on the elevator was an arduous task – but the security guards finally intercepted, and they were safe to head to the top floor.

 

The set was more or less prepared, decorated with pink and red hearts that Bakugou always gagged at. Matsuoka Yuri, the emcee and interviewer of the live show, greeted them as she hopped offstage.

 

“It’s a pleasure to have you again, Ground Zero, Shouto.” She pulled off a professional smile, reaching out her hand, as her orange ponytail bobbed to the side.

 

Before Bakugou could spit out another crude comment, Todoroki shook hers and managed a small beam as well. “Nice to meet you again, Matsuoka-san.”

 

“Oh, no need for the formalities. All our viewers have been dying for this day, I promise you. You know how all homosexual couples in our Valentines exclusive attract a lot of attention, but you two were a legend, with the blatant coming out in the countrywide broadcast and everything – that video was viral for ages.

 

Sporting a polite expression, Bakugou and Todoroki both made a clumsy attempt at appearing unaffected by her statement. The so-called viral video was the broadcast covering one of their infiltration missions during their early twenties, when they were both rookies to the heroics field. Aizawa failed to notify them that their whole mission was going to be filmed, and long story short, the pair aggressively and quite passionately kissed as Japan watched them through cameras.

 

It was an incident they both rather wipe out from their memories.

 

But Matsuoka clapped her hands together, and soon everyone was in place, as Todoroki adjusted his clothes. Bakugou just looked like he was desperate to be anywhere but here.

 

A countdown went off, and after three seconds the intro music to the show played.

 

“It’s a happy Valentines to everyone! Today, at Heroes’ Hot Talk, we have the guests all of you had been waiting for – that’s right, it’s the power duo, Japan’s number 2 and 3 heroes respectively – Ground Zero and Shouto!”

 

Whistling and a frantic applause exploded from the audience, as Todoroki clasped his hand around Bakugou’s beneath the table in front of them, as he could already tell that Katsuki was in the worst of moods.

 

“We’re not going to waste our precious hour and jump into the questions immediately, as I’m sure we all know who they are!” Matsuoka whipped her head as her ponytail flew about with her. “So, you two are known to have been dating since your early twenties. How long have you actually been together?”

 

Bakugou passed on the question to Todoroki (although Todoroki answered 80 percent of them anyways). “Truthfully, we began dating in our first year of high school.” An echo of excited chatter went off amongst the people around them. “I’m sure everyone at UA knew, but it was never announced to the public. We weren’t even planning to do so, but as everyone is aware, the broadcast issue occurred.” He said quite sheepishly, as Matsuoka brightened.

 

“That is definitely news! What was the trigger?”

 

His jaw clenched at the inquiry. Endeavor had long retired, and despite the fact that Todoroki had made some amends to their relationship, he preferred to remain detached from his parent. He swallowed, until the microphone was yanked from his hands.

 

“This guy lost his AC remote in the middle of the night,” Bakugou explained, “and so he decided it was an intelligent idea to freeze his entire room. My room was next to him, and I was about to die in a refrigerator, so I stormed to his door and told him to turn it down.”

 

Well.

 

That wasn’t a lie, sure.

 

“It’s exactly what it sounds like.” With a flushed face, Todoroki conceded, having no other choices open.

 

“So that’s why the mention of the AC remote appeared in your broadcast conversation! It’s all connecting now, I see it.” Stealing a terse glimpse at her cue cards, the female questioned, “I know it previous interviews we went over your memorable dates together, to future hopes. Today, we actually wanted to touch upon a different subject. You two are infamous as the epitome of ‘opposites attract’ – is this true?”

 

“For the most part, yes. Katsuki is generally hot-tempered –“

 

“Okay, Shouto, you shut up –“

 

“ – As you can tell, and quite feral. But I also believe we aren’t complete opposites, as people seem to caption us, since we both share a fair amount of similarities – like how we both tend to charge into something without much consideration.”

 

“Really? That’s startling,” Yuri noted with a rising inflection. “Ground Zero definitely has a much more passionate image, but I presumed that you’d be the pacifying one in the relationship.”

 

Bakugou rolled his eyes, “That’s all trash. There was that one time after the Hanami festival, when this guy hurled a fish scooper at me because –“

 

Katsuki, we are not discussing that in public.”

 

Matsuoka grinned at their ongoing banter. “You two really seem to be fond of each other. Do you have some tips for maintaining such strong bonds?”

 

“Well, just like everyone else, we didn’t start off as strong.” Todoroki visibly winced. When they were still freshmen, Endeavor had been beyond infuriated upon hearing about their “uncouth” relationship, and threatened to hurt Bakugou’s family. Their parents met some years after that conflict, and thanks to Bakugou’s parents being such openhearted people, they accepted the apology. “We had numerous arguments – I’m sure that’s not challenging to imagine when you’re dating Ground Zero –“

 

Hey.”

 

“But those were all valuable lessons. We still have a long future ahead, and I’m certain we’ll continuously face troubles as we live, but I have faith in what we built up until now.” He paused, and firmly added, “I trust the man I chose to love.”

 

Bakugou’s scowl vanished instantaneously, and the studio erupted into screams of suffocating female staff members. The raucous noise would’ve ticked off the blond at this point, but he was seemingly unperturbed, his attention holistically focused on Todoroki. Matsuoka’s smile was warm and sincere, as she went to her final query.

 

“Ground Zero’s well-known best friend, Red Riot, once described you two as ‘Exploding Ice Cubes, Literally’. How do you two feel about this comment?”

 

Bakugou broke away from his trance, and spat,

 

“Pretty damn accurate.”

 

And he swooped up Todoroki, and they kissed.

 


 

“I thought you were all about regulations on PDA.”

 

“You called it.”

 

“I said the truth.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

They were stuck in traffic their way back home. Todoroki could still feel the buzz of the studio as everyone around them squealed after that kiss, with one of the staff members throwing a bunch of files into the air, destroying a camera in the process. All to say that Todoroki actually liked it – he enjoyed all their kisses, from their first to last, which had yet to arrive.

 

There was a brief moment in his life when he contemplated his death. It was when he was around 25 or so, somewhere around then – he almost died from a mission, upon rescuing a civilian. Even as his body was heavy with exhaustion, blood, and his shattered hero costume, Bakugou kept him awake, speaking volumes louder than usual, over the countless explosions and screeches resounding from all corners. It was one of the scarce instances where Bakugou cried. Todoroki abhorred that look on his lover’s face.

 

“Stop thinking about depressing shit, Shouto.”

 

His eyelids snapped open at the rough warning. “I wasn’t really –“

 

“You fiddle with your hair when you’re worried over inconsequential matters. Give me some more fucking credit, asshole.”

 

Bakugou’s eyes were glued to the road, but Todoroki could immediately notice his unease. The brusque tapping of fingers on the steering wheel, the crease between his thick brows, and the chewing of the inside of his cheeks displayed clear signs of worry. “Sorry,” Todoroki mumbled, “I just remembered when I almost died, around fifteen or so years ago.”

 

Silence breached their conversation, and some wild honking blasted off in the background. Bakugou never conversed with Todoroki about those few months again, about how he visited that eerily quiet hospital room every single day, with a new trivial story to tell, all because Todoroki said that he liked to listen to Bakugou’s voice before he passed out. It was a traumatic experience for both of them – Todoroki learned the fear of death, and Bakugou almost lost him.

 

“Don’t do that again.”

 

There was that same tension in Bakugou’s words, the unspoken terror, and despondency. His mismatching orbs glistening, Todoroki ran his hand up Bakugou’s arm and back down comfortingly. “You know I wouldn’t. I promised.”

 

“Just don’t.”

 

So he nodded in accession, but still rubbed his hand along the length of the muscular arm. They sat for a while, waiting for the light to change once more.

 

“Hey, Katsuki?” He turned his head to the male, “Let’s go somewhere.”

 

Finally removing his gaze from the road, Bakugou raised his brow but didn’t frown. “Where?”

 

“Anywhere. The park is fine, a pool is fine, or even becoming stranded at some mountain in Hokkaido sounds perfect.” His lips curved upward, and Bakugou sighed, relenting.

 

“You fucking know I can’t turn you down.” The light blinked green. “Let’s grab something to eat, then we can do whatever the hell you want. I need ramen.”

 

“That’ll do.” Laughing, Todoroki spotted their house from only a few meters up north, as they once again got further and further away from it. “Are we going to the place where we committed ourselves to public indecency?”

 

Bakugou snorted. “In my sagacious opinion, quality sex should not count as public indecency.”

 

“So much coming from the number two hero.”

 

“And you’re dating that fucking hero, number three hero.”

 

“Touché.”

 

As it was hours past the fixed mealtime, the diner was practically empty – which was ideal for two of the most popular heroes in Japan. The man greeted them as he had for the past ten years since they frequented the place, and brewed up the usual stock. Stumbling upon this stand was a total coincidence – they were still rookies, and despite their infamous titles gained through broadcasts at UA, they weren’t at pre-built ‘Endeavor’ or ‘All Might’ level. Being a newbie meant more work, and more work meant no free weekends together – which ultimately equaled pent up sexual tension. So they had sex behind this same ramen diner, and then cleaned up and casually entered for dinner.

 

“Do you still remember when the waitress saw you throwing away the condom?”

 

Bakugou groaned. “Her fault for standing there. I had your semen over the leather of my belt; she had plenty of hints to catch on to.”

 

“Youth is terrifying.” Snapping his chopsticks in half, Todoroki shuddered. He wouldn’t dare to step on those bold attempts ever again, as he did so shamelessly in his twenties – his body wasn’t suited for rough sex on cement surfaces, soil, or sandy beaches anymore. The mattress was his best friend. “We’re blessed that someone didn’t take a video.”

 

“Who knows, someone might be jerking off to the sight of you climaxing right now.”

 

“Have you no shame?”

 

“No.” Bakugou slurped his ramen, and Todoroki heaved a sigh at the sight. He dipped his own soba noodles in the soy broth (Bakugou squawked when they first came and Todoroki ordered soba – this was a ramen restaurant, for Pete’s sake). “I’ll kill them if that actually happens.”

 

Todoroki chuckled, wiping the remnants of the tonkotsu soup off Bakugou’s cheek with his thumb. His lashes flickered deceptively, “Jealous?”

 

“Fucking ‘course I’d be, that’s normal.”

 

Shouto froze, and then laughed a little. Katsuki was always so blunt and straightforward – some found that disrespectful and crass, but it was endearing for Todoroki. He could always trust his boyfriend for an unbiased opinion, as Bakugou never sugarcoated his words, not even for the one he loved. It was a double-edged sword at some point, as their quarrels would often stem from Katsuki’s crude commentary, but they were past that stage.

 

“Hey, Katsuki.” Caressing his lover’s hand, Todoroki rubbed gentle circles on the surface of Bakugou’s palm. “Let’s go somewhere new.”

 

“What, like Barcelona?”

 

“Not new in the overseas sense, you know we don’t have time for that.” He pursed his lips together in contemplation. “I want to see the sunrise with you.”

 

Bakugou chugged down his water. “Sunrises are for fucking New Years, not Valentines, idiot.”

 

“It doesn’t need to be for a special occasion, does it? You’re special to me, so it doesn’t matter.”

 

“I can’t believe you spurt such cheesy crap with that dispassionate face.” The spiky-haired man shot back but didn’t state anything of refusal otherwise. He paid for the food and shoved in the chair. “The riverside. We didn’t go there.”

 

“You know it’s February, right? The riverside is going to be freezing –“

 

“I date you for a reason, Icyhot. Put your quirk into use.”

 

Todoroki made a face. “You dated me for nearly over twenty years for my quirk.

 

“That, over many other bonuses that came along with it.” Ruffling Todoroki’s hair, Bakugou opened the car’s door for him, as he propped himself on the driver’s seat. Todoroki closed his eyes and fully treasured the contact of Bakugou’s calloused fingers against his locks – it always provided him with unknown solace, ever since high school, when he suffered from his childhood nightmares.

 

The sun was beginning to approach the horizon, and the sky was purple and orange, blended in between with red and violet. The riverside wasn’t too far away from their home – just around 10 minutes apart by foot. They usually traveled beyond the borders of their town, as Bakugou was fond of adventures and exploration – Todoroki was much more of an indoor person, but since Bakugou only liked ‘venture’ and not ‘people’, it worked out. Most of their trips consisted of hiking new mountains and enjoying the view, or setting up tents and building campfires.

 

Bakugou tapped a rhythmical pattern on the steering wheel, as the traffic light turned red. “Let’s stop by home.” He suggested, and Todoroki hummed in consent. The formal attire they wore for the interview was getting a little too stuffy for comfort, and he also wanted to buy a hot drink on their way to the river. So Bakugou parked the car in its spot and unlocked the door to the house.

 

Todoroki always liked the scent of home – their home – it produced the whiff of Bakugou, like woody smoke and coffee. The latter contended the opposite: that it smelled like Todoroki, so they settled with a compromise that it was the mix of both.

 

He tore off the button-down and changed into his beige cotton sweater and grey sweatpants, releasing a low exhale at the balminess. Bakugou was already fitted in his fire-red hoodie and trouser, scrolling down his phone in the living room. Todoroki crossed his arms and leaned on the doorframe, “What’re you reading?”

 

“Articles about our interview,” Bakugou mumbled, “It’s going insane.”

 

“That’s what it was like the first time – the most upvoted comment was the one that commanded us to get married.”

 

“Which is, frankly, none of their fucking business.” Dusting off his pants, Bakugou dismissed the matter like it was the most tedious crap. Todoroki felt a pit of uneasiness enlarge within him at the reaction.

 

Sure, he loved Bakugou, and he knew Bakugou loved him – that was common sense. But he couldn’t help but wonder, if his significant other really wasn’t considering their marriage – they didn’t have to married to love, of course, and Todoroki was more than conscious of how Bakugou thought proposals and all these additional “contracts” to be preposterous. But all their colleagues were gradually getting married – in fact, most of them already were. It was quite disconcerting, as Bakugou and Todoroki were the first to date.

 

He fondled with his bangs as he pondered, daydreaming off into space. Bakugou scowled, bumped Todoroki on the shoulder as he stomped into their room, and then came out a few seconds later – and suddenly yanked the heterochromatic man out of his fancy, by wrapping a red, hand-knit scarf around his neck; Bakugou was wearing a black one. “Stop making that stupid face, dumbass. We’re leaving.”

 

Shouto blinked, as he glimpsed at the belligerently wrapped scarf around his neck.

 

“I don’t need a scarf.” Todoroki could heat or cool his own body by will – clothes were mere accessories, really.

 

“Shut it, you’re going to get sick.”

 

“You know I don’t –“

 

Bakugou ‘tch’ed and clamped Todoroki’s mouth with his palm. “You fucking got a fever after you built a snowman six years ago, so shut the hell up. We’re going to go to Seven, and then we’re going to the river.”

 

He didn’t protest longer and suppressed a smile as he snuggled into the scarf. It was a little itchy, and pieces of yarn were sticking out conspicuously at a few wrinkled edges, but it was still Todoroki’s favorite scarf. He got it as a Christmas present from Bakugou ten years ago, who ran out of ideas for gifts. Eventually, he sought advice from Uraraka, and the girl recommended something handmade – and so Bakugou struggled for two months to make a scarf. Todoroki followed his example and made a black one for him the next Christmas – it was poorly made, and Bakugou made sure to insult him teasingly for his adroit skills, but wore it around every single winter.

 

The night of February wasn’t bone-chilling, but chilling enough. The scarf definitely helped, as they both wordlessly strolled over to Seven Eleven. The buzzer echoed as they entered, the auto door sliding to their left.

 

“I want to get strawberry milk,” Todoroki said, and Bakugou passed on a cynical look.

 

“How old are you?”

 

“Contently dating Ground Zero, 38 years old, craving for strawberry milk.”

 

“You fucking prick,” Bakugou groused, whilst seizing the biggest bottle of strawberry milk from the fridge. He bought his same old ginger tea, and a paper bag of store-fried sweet potatoes, steaming hot. The young man at the cashier giddily calculated the total cost, upon recognizing the hottest couple of the year (despite them being almost forty).

 

The riverside was only five minutes away thereon, and Todoroki heated his strawberry milk with his quirk. He held Bakugou’s already-lukewarm ginger tea as well, to prevent it from losing its heat in the biting wind. The explosive man weaved through the grassy path and discovered a creaky bench that was placed awkwardly in front of the river. The river itself was flowing down a hill – from the bench, they could gaze upon the view of the city’s midnight, highlighted with the harmony of various romantic ballads for Valentines, and pink-red flashing ornament lights from far away.

 

Todoroki chortled as he sat down on the bench. “I can’t believe you’re actually attempting to be romantic.”

 

“Strawberry milk, ginger tea, sweet potatoes and an antique bench with riverside viewing – I’m fucking romantic, what’d you expect?”

 

“That’s hard to dispute.”

 

They stuck close together, watching the flickering of the streetlights for a while. The shines and glows of the reflected moon in the water were somewhat magical, albeit ephemeral. Bakugou was munching on a sweet potato, and quietly peeled one for Todoroki and pushed one into the man’s mouth. The sweetness coated his tongue, and Todoroki relaxed, resting his head on Bakugou’s shoulder, as the other put his on top of Todoroki’s head – the angles perfectly fit, and they acted like one piece.

 

“Give me the milk.” Bakugou blurted out of nowhere, but Todoroki just pressed the bottle into Bakugou’s hand. The man tossed the lid to the side and tipped the plastic to the opening of his lips. “Ugh, this shit is inedible.

 

“Your taste buds are rigged.”

 

“I’m not the shithead that eats his oreos with fucking toothpaste.”

 

“Kaminari dared me to do that.”

 

“And white chocolate with ketchup.”

 

“That was a one-time thing.” Todoroki hissed, lightly knocking his head on Bakugou’s chin. To a passerby that overheard their conversation, it definitely wouldn’t be one of 38-year-olds. Even middle schoolers would be more mature.

 

The noise of crickets and indistinct honks from the traffic jam below filled in their silence. Todoroki grasped his half-drank milk in his hands, with Bakugou’s can of finished ginger tea rolling around the right of the bench. Todoroki allowed his thoughts to drift off once more – he’d never forget how they even began dating. Todoroki always couldn’t find a way to breathe from the suffocating cage of his father’s shadow. It was Bakugou who freed him, from his insecurities, from his nightmares. He abhorred his past, but he was thankful he didn’t grieve for too long.

 

My scar, there were times in his life where he would break out in cold sweat upon seeing his grotesque scar in the mirror. He never blamed his mother for his abusive childhood, but it was a sign of anguish. It was Bakugou who asserted that the scar was a part of Todoroki and that he’d cherish everything that was him.

 

“Hey, Katsuki?” He drawled, and he sensed a twitch of the arm from the blond. “Thank you.”

 

“… For?”

 

“Mm,” His scarf smelled like wood and coffee. Of Bakugou, of his home. “For being here, for living. For standing with me for over twenty years.” For loving me, he invisibly added.

 

“I’d do it forever, you idiotic Halfie.” Grumbling, Bakugou wrapped an arm around his boyfriend’s shoulder. The gesture came naturally – they were a bundle of cumbersome firsts in their teens, restless with an easy kiss, clueless with their first sex, and irritated by just about anything. Misunderstandings, breakdowns, and hurtful attacks existed in their negligent twenties, repeating inconsequential altercations and banal reconciliations, leaving them battered and torn. They assumed they knew everything about one another – which was downright false, as even after all these years, Todoroki still managed to learn something novel about Bakugou every week.

 

“… You’ve been staring off a lot.”

 

Bakugou’s statement threw him off for a second, as he jittered upward in surprise. He met eyes with Bakugou, and his lover’s brows were knitted together, the flame orbs narrowed in apprehension. His friends always mocked that Bakugou appeared furious when he was worried. Perhaps that was true, but at least Shouto could tell the two apart – and that was all that really mattered.

 

He smirked and ran his thumb between the creased eyebrows. “I’m fine.”

 

“I don’t care.” Obstinate, Bakugou crossed his legs on the bench. “You tell me, or I don’t do your filthy laundry for a week. Your choice.”

 

“You’re so immature.”

 

“Shut the fuck up.”

 

Shrugging, Todoroki detached his head from Bakugou’s shoulder. “I’ve… been thinking.” His voice hardened, and Bakugou didn’t respond, as an indication to continue. “The interview made me somewhat nostalgic, I guess. I kept on going back to the first time we properly interacted, you know, at the dorms – and then the time I was hospitalized after the severe injury, and… our history together.” Pausing, he waited for Bakugou to react, but he didn’t. “22 years. It’s maybe not too long, compared to… well, Aizawa-sensei and Present Mic. But I’m still thankful for you… staying, here.”

 

He predicted a ‘that’s fucking cheesy’, or something borderline ‘you dramatic shit’. Bakugou was Bakugou, after all.

 

But he received a doting kiss on the lips, and he melted into the sensation – the only warmth in the breeze of February – Bakugou’s lips, Bakugou’s scarf, the tang of spicy ginger of the kiss – everything was Bakugou.

 

“You taste like strawberry milk.”

 

Well.

 

Bakugou chortled a little and ruffled his hair. “I thought you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, for fuck’s sake. Just spill if it’s something like that.”

 

“Actually, I’m about to die in two days.”

 

“Sure, very persuasive.”

 

The pit of anxiety still pooled in Todoroki though. Katsuki was beautiful (he scarcely verbalized that opinion, as it came with the risk of an exploding microwave) – even now, as the crescent moon hovering above them created an illuminating streak of light over the city, Bakugou’s skin shimmered like a disparate moon – Todoroki’s moon – his nearly albino-like impression radiant in the dim dark of the night. Just his existence evoked a gush of euphoria within Shouto – he felt miraculously blessed, to love someone like this, and have that love returned.

 

“You got more to spill?” Bakugou frowned, swallowing the leftover strawberry milk.

 

The turquoise of his eye glistening, Todoroki mumbled, “Yeah.”

 

Perhaps, Bakugou would feel like he was tying him down. Bakugou was an unbelievably wild, free soul – he despised restrictions, rules, tedious laws – just the idea of a forever-bound relationship might disgust him. And while Todoroki didn’t want to destroy their foundation of twenty-two years, he couldn’t conquer his own desire. He wanted Bakugou, he wanted everything –

 

“Will you marry me, Katsuki?”

 

He hadn’t even realized he said that aloud until he noticed Bakugou’s eyes dilating by inches. A wave of panic overwhelmed him, as he straightened his back and knocked over the plastic bottle of milk to the side, clutching the sleeve of Bakugou’s hoodie.

 

“Forget that I said that, that was so half-assed, for god’s sake –“ He rambled, his face flushing. No ring, no eloquent words, no preparation whatsoever, like what the fuck –

 

But Bakugou simply pushed him away. Dread threaded its path through Todoroki’s nerves, as he waited for something, with the blond’s head lowered and motionless.

 

“You fucking ruined it.”

 

A bitter dryness and hollow rejection consumed his rattling panic, as tension departed from his stomach. “Katsuki, I –“

 

However, Bakugou didn’t give him a chance to explain, as the man unwrapped the scarf hastily from Shouto’s neck, and ripped out a piece of red string from it. Todoroki frowned upon the sight – had the proposal been so infuriating? It was abrupt and impromptu, but –

 

“Katsuki -?”

 

“Shut up for a second,” Katsuki rumbled, tossing the scarf to Todoroki’s knee, as he then hunched down and snatched Todoroki’s hand. Shouto just kept his mouth shut as he watched Bakugou tie the red string around his ring finger, cursing a little as he failed to make a knot. After numerous efforts, he created a clean knot.

 

Todoroki was beyond confounded – the knot around his ring finger, torn from the red scarf. He wasn’t sure how –

 

“You’re not the only one.” Bakugou declared, still holding onto Todoroki’s pale hand. “I’ve been thinking back to- how fucking stupid I was in front of your mom, and that live broadcast where we spurt dumb crap – I’ve been thinking. And- fuck, I’m so bad at this.” He laced his fingers into Todoroki’s, the long piece of yarn trembling in the wind. “You know I’m fucking terrible with- feelings, in general. But you’re… I fucking need you in my life, and I really, really love you, more than I loved anything, anyone.” He snorted a little, “I fucking sound out of character, don’t I.”

 

Something pricked at Todoroki’s vision, as it began to blur a little. Bakugou’s blond was a blob of dark shades, his red quavering.

 

“Hey, Todoroki Shouto.” His vision cleared for a second as a rivulet of warmth trickled down his cheek – in that second of clarity, he saw that smile – an endearing, loving, natural smile – directed at him, no one else.

 

“Marry me.”

 

It wasn’t even phrased as a question – it was demanding and dominant, leaving him without an alternative, but determined and solid. But something scratched at Todoroki’s throat, as he choked out a sob and hunched downward, nearly hugging his knees, where the scarf lay. Bakugou was laughing, as he pulled his boyfriend closer into his embrace on the narrow bench. The red string around his finger seemed to make a lot more sense.

 

“I can’t believe you –“ Todoroki hiccupped, “Used a string in place of a ring.”

 

“Shut up, you ungrateful brat.” Bakugou just hugged him tighter, and Todoroki giggled as he saw scarlet blaring at the tip of Bakugou’s ear. “This was supposed to be for – later. Your birthday, or fucking whatever.”

 

“I liked that scarf, too. You ruined it.”

 

“I’ll just buy you a new one, stop complaining.”

 

“No, you made this one for me.”

 

“Then I’ll fucking knit another one, satisfied?”

 

“It could’ve been from your scarf.”

 

At that, Bakugou was quiet. Then he whispered, “Black isn’t… a fucking romantic color, or whatever.”

 

Todoroki scrunched his nose, bewildered – then something lit up.

 

Red. A red string. The red string of fate – fated love.

 

An irresistible laugh bubbled up from his chest, as Todoroki nuzzled into his boyfriend’s shoulder. “The red string of fate? Seriously, Katsuki, how old are you?”

 

“Contently dating Shouto, 38 years old, trying to be fucking romantic for once.”

 

Todoroki pushed himself away and planted a feathery kiss on his to-be-husband’s lips. “Nice try.”

 

Bakugou rolled his eyes, muttered something inaudible, and wrapped his arms around Todoroki’s neck, as they closed the distance between them for another kiss.

 

“Hey,” Exhaling through their brief kisses, Bakugou smirked, “You never answered, you sly piece of shit.”

 

Todoroki flashed a victorious smile. “I beg your pardon, I proposed first.”

 

They locked their attention on each other, with an unannounced countdown going down in both of their heads. Another sloppy kiss was shared, as they breathed in synchronization – 3, 2, 1 –

 

Yes.

 

The night sky of the city has no stars, only a cloud-disguised crescent moon, the cacophonous honks of cars on a typical Valentines in the background, a clichéd riverside date, with a can of ginger tea and bottle of strawberry milk hitting against the legs of the bench along the early breeze of spring, with a terrifically amateuristic knot of red string in place of an engagement ring –

 

They both wouldn’t have it another way, because –

 

They are like Exploding Ice Cubes, Literally.

 

I love you.