There was a lizard in Kirishima’s room.
A scaley, clawed, fanged lizard. A fifty centimeters long, red, winged lizard.
A dragon, there was a dragon in the middle of the floor of Kirishima’s room.
Bakugou blinked slowly, a hand curled around the door’s handle and one foot still out in the hallways. He looked at the dragon, the dragon looked back at him. For a long moment, neither of them moved nor made a sound.
Then the dragon opened its fangs, coughed out a huff that might have meant to be a growl, but instead came out as a bright, small sequence of sparks.
“What the fuck,” Bakugou whispered as he watched a sock on the floor catch fire and the dragon startle and scurry away under the bed.
From its new hiding point, it made a soft, cooing sound that nearly had Bakugou thinking it was agreeing him.
He'd let himself inside Kirishima's room with the aim of fetching him and heading to school, but he was nowhere to be found - it wasn't too weird as an occurrence, with his internship having started again and occupying him at the most unexpected times, but Bakugou had been sure he'd heard him come back the night before, and was nearly positive no one had come out of the room again after it.
Maybe he'd heard wrong, he distantly guessed as he knelt by the bed and peered under it.
The dragon was curled in one of the far corners, against the wall and with its head hidden beneath a wing; from what Bakugou had been able to see before it hid away, more than two-thirds of its total length were taken up by its neck and tail, and its wings were wide and webbed, lighter on the underside than they were on the top.
Bakugou wanted to touch it.
Did dragons even exist? He knew there was a good amount of people with dragon related quirks, but he'd never heard of actual dragons being real. Maybe it was a quirked animal like principal Nedzu was, he thought as his brows furrowed further. A quirked lizard, or something like that.
He reached out a hand under the bed, then stopped as the dragon startled and curled further on itself, as if trying to make itself look smaller. Was it scared?
“Oi,” Bakugou grunted, turning his palm upwards like he would have if he'd been trying to coax a cat closer, “I ain't gonna hurt you, quit being a coward like that.”
He didn't know how much the dragon understood, probably not much at all, but at the very least something in the gruff sound of his voice must have been soothing to it, worth trust, because slowly it moved its muzzle from under its wing, looked at him with tilted head and curious eyes.
Then it uncurled itself, and the next thing Bakugou knew was the feeling of its pointy claws moving along his arm as it coiled around it to climb up his shoulder.
“Hey!” Bakugou snapped as he startled upright, moving his weight on his toes and knees, “get the fuck off me!”
The dragon stopped its climb with its head just a breath away from his nose, looked at him with curiosity once again - he scowled at it, unsure about what to do, and the dragon chirped at him high-pitched and trilling, climbed the rest of the way up to comfortably curl itself around his neck.
Bakugou could feel its warmth seeping through his clothes, the pointy scales along its spine tickling his nape, its weight comfortable and grounding on the width of his shoulders.
“... ‘the fuck,” he said with a raised brow, “weren't you scared of me just a minute ago?”
He didn't expect an answer, obviously, but the dragon chirped at him again anyway, closed its eyes as if fully intending to fall asleep where it was.
Bakugou looked at it a second longer, then rolled his eyes and got up to his feet: Kirishima might have still been out on his internship and therefore excused from class, but he still needed to go, and the flexing clock on the wall was telling him he was about to be late.
He stepped outside and shut the door at his back, then threw a glance at the closed door to his own room, considering.
Logically, it would have been better to drop the dragon in there before heading to school, maybe leave it water and food (what did dragons even eat, meat?) and postpone dealing with it for later in the day - maybe for when Kirishima was back, since he found it in his room. He might have had an explanation as to how it had gotten there, probably.
Bakugou glanced at the dragon still curled on his shoulders, seemingly blissfully asleep. He raised a hand to rub a finger along its forehead, smoothing the pad along its horns, and the dragon cooed and pushed against his skin as if asking for more.
Against his will, Bakugou found himself grinning lightly.
“You gonna be a pain if I take you with me?” he asked without stopping his finger’s movement, finding peace in the dragon’s rough, warm scales scratching along his hand.
His answer came in the form of a pointed tail curling tightly around his bicep, and he scoffed as he hoisted his bag up higher on his shoulder, trying not to dislodge the dragon’s head resting along his collarbone and puffing warm breaths on his bare throat.
At least he wasn't going to feel cold, Bakugou shrugged as he started walking.
Heads turning and voices whispering were things Bakugou was used to as he made his way along the school hallways, but he still couldn't avoid standing straighter and basking in it, that specific morning.
Usually the attention he attracted wasn't as excited and positive, after all.
The dragon seemed to be content enough to simply nap around his neck - Bakugou had guessed it would have been curious of the new surroundings, maybe even lapse back in the scared state he had found it in, but instead its shape remained relaxed for most part of the walk to school, like a particularly comfortable scarf, and only startled out of its limp-noodle state when Kaminari’s loud voice shouted Bakugou’s name in greeting, head snapping up and turning to take in the newcomer.
“Holy shit!” Kaminari yelped as he got closer, and Bakugou found himself growling and taking a step back when his leaning too far in had the dragon coil and tense, its tail nearly painful around Bakugou’s bicep.
“It's real?!” Kaminari kept going, shining eyes and slack jaw, “I thought it was a toy!”
“Why the fuck would I have this sort of toy and why the shit would I bring it around with myself,” Bakugou huffed incredulous, and then started walking again when Kaminari only shrugged in answer.
“Aesthetic?” he proposed, completely serious as he always was when spewing that sort of bullshit, and Bakugou growled at him again, taking the suggestion as the insult it undeniably was.
As Kaminari asked about specifics and Bakugou answered with huffs and grumbles, the dragon slowly relaxed again - it rested its head in the crook of Bakugou's neck and folded its wings in, kept hugging his arm with its tail held loose. It didn't seem particularly interested in Kaminari, didn't make any effort to inspect him or climb him as he had Bakugou, but it didn't complain when Kaminari reached a hand over to touch it and scratch its long neck, and pressed against his skin like it had when Bakugou had petted it with the same soft, cooing sound.
For some reason, Bakugou didn't like it - how close Kaminari was getting to it, how close the dragon was allowing him. Was it some sort of pet owner jealousy? After not even half an hour of having it?
Bakugou found the idea laughable, but he still didn’t like the thought of other people getting too close to it.
The image of Kirishima surrounded by their classmates briefly and inexplicably crossed his mind, but he shook it away with a scowl at himself: the situations were nothing alike, and Bakugou wasn’t going to compare them now nor ever.
He didn’t like either in sort of the same way, but that was simple coincidence he wasn’t going do dwell on any longer.
Still, he didn’t like it, and he liked it even less when he entered the classroom and, after a second of stunned silence, he was suddenly surrounded by too many people all shouting questions and reaching out to touch the dragon, pushing in his space, making it impossible for him to take another step forward - he should have left it in his room, he groaned at himself in late realization.
Why had he even thought this could be a good idea? There was no way of it, with the sort of classmates he found himself with.
He became even more sure of that when the noise and attention became too much to handle for the dragon, prompting it to hiss and sputter sparks again in attempted self-defense before slithering its way beneath Bakugou’s jacket to hide in his sleeve, nearly undressing him of it on the process and clawing painfully at his back and arm.
Why did all his classmates have to be so loud and nosy, Bakugou groaned to himself as annoyance raised further and further the closer everyone got to him.
“Back the fuck off already, you're freaking it out!” he yelled in the end, putting a halt to the noise and flurry of hands for long enough to allow himself time and space to push his way to his desk and collapse into it.
Inside his sleeve, the dragon was still coiled tight and trembling, huffing out warm breaths in a panicked rhythm, and Bakugou rose a hand to run a knuckle along its clothed head, trying to calm it down and make it come out of its honestly uncomfortable hiding spot.
Its wings were definitely too big to fit in there.
“Bakugou-kun,” Iida started after a second more of stunned silence, a hand raised to fix his glasses and stiff posture, “while I get why you’d want to take something so peculiar with yourself, bringing a pet to school is against-”
“Who cares about that!” Ashido interrupted him in a yell, throwing herself across the room to lean on Bakugou's desk - he pushed back and away from her too eager expression, but she only smiled wider and pressed closer, “where did you get it? Is it an actual dragon? What's its name? Can it fly? Can it spit fire? Is it a baby?”
As her questions tumbled out of her lips unrestrained, the rest of the class gathered back around him again, quieter but still buzzing with excitement, adding their own inquiries as soon as they came up with them and not giving Bakugou enough time to answer any at all.
Not like he had any intention to, seeing as most of them he had no way of knowing either - there was only one he was actually thinking about, watching the small, scaled head peek back out of his jacket collar and peer at his classmates with cautious consideration.
Did it have a name? He wondered if Kirishima had named it already - knowing him he probably had, but until he could ask him...
“It's called Red,” he said, reaching a fingernail to scratch at the underside of its muzzle.
Like Red Riot, he mused to himself, like Kirishima.
Bakugou was nearly sure it was because of the fact that he had found it in his best friend's room, but there were things about the dragon that had had him thinking about Kirishima since first landing his eyes on it. Its colors and the way it was sharp and warm, its fangs and the feeling of its scales similar to Kirishima's hardening under Bakugou’s fingers, its horns and spikes on its head, how happy it looked when Bakugou gave it attention.
It's cute like him too, his traitorous mind pointed out - habit nearly had him banish that thought immediately, but it’d been long enough since accepting his feelings that in the end he gave up that particular endeavor without really trying much.
Yes, it was cute, and Kirishima was cute too. Red was a fitting name.
“That's boring,” Ashido whined instead, like her opinion was worth anything at all - Bakugou scoffed, pointing at the dragon currently happily chirping at him and snuggling between his neck and cheek.
“Red likes it,” he simply shrugged, and Ashido pouted harder at him.
Iida forced him to hide Red in his bag throughout class, and Bakugou grumbled and cursed, but still deposited the dragon between his books and told it to keep quiet.
Surprisingly, Red did just that.
When Bakugou opened up his bag at lunch hour, he found it snuggled with its head on a small pile made out of the pens and spare change and crumpled pieces of paper it must have found around the bottom and under the books - Bakugou thought it soundly asleep by the way it was curled on itself and breathing deeply, but as he reached a hand inside to grab his bento box its head immediately snapped up on alert.
“Hey,” Bakugou said, surprised at the fast reaction, and Red answered with a quiet chirp before peeking its muzzle out of the bag to look at the class around them.
The way its eyes focused on the empty teacher desk before it scurried out of the bag to reclaim its preferred perch on Bakugou's shoulders nearly made him believe it actually understood why it couldn't stay outside, as classes droned on.
Were all quirked animals more intelligent than their quirkless counterparts, Bakugou wondered idly as he picked his lunch up and started unpacking it. Maybe Red actually did understand him.
Instead of simply settling around his neck to sleep as it had done that morning, once out of the bag Red perched on one of Bakugou's shoulders like a particularly big bird, tail swishing along Bakugou’s back and wings neatly folded along its spine.
Its eyes were trained on the bento box currently resting atop the desk, and Bakugou raised a brow at it before snorting and uncovering his food.
“You hungry?” he asked, reaching with his chopsticks for a piece of sausage and raising it towards Red to see if it was interested - the speed at which small fangs closed around the food had Bakugou snort in genuine amusement.
Definitely carnivorous, then.
As if to show its gratitude, Red rubbed the side of its head against one of Bakugou's temples, cooing softly as it chewed with gusto.
“Yeah, yeah,” Bakugou waved it off. He made to start eating himself, chopsticks already aiming for his rice, but the shadow falling across his desk had him pause before anything could make it to his mouth.
He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, counted to ten and then back again as Red stood on alert, coiled and tight.
When Bakugou opened his eyes and raised his head, half of the class was looking at him with expectant expressions and barely held in smiles. Because of course they were.
“What,” he snapped, smacking the chopsticks back on the bento’s lid with more force than he probably should have. From his shoulder, Red tilted its head at him, blinked its eyes in rapid succession a couple of times.
“Can we please play with Red?” Uraraka asked in a pleading, excited tone, hands clasped before her face and eyes scrunched shut.
“Fuck no,” Bakugou immediately answered, “get lost already.”
Red wasn't a toy, he'd already told them as much, and he didn't care how long they whined and pleaded, he wasn't going to-
“Ow! ” he snapped, turning sharply around to look at the dragon that had just bit his ear with more strength than Bakugou had assumed it possessed, “the fuck was that for!”
Red looked at him with the closest thing to a frown a dragon could muster, then it chirped at him as it splayed out its wings, flapped them a couple of times in what would have been an impressive display, hadn't Red been as small as it was.
Still, it was obviously annoyed.
“What, you actually wanna go with these losers?” Bakugou growled at it, waving a hand towards the group of classmates still looking at him with interest, and Red chirped at him again, headbutted him in his cheek with enough strength to feel the sting of its horns.
“I don't get what the fuck you're trying to say, you stupid lizard!” Bakugou snapped in exasperation, but the only answer he got was another sharp bite to his ear.
“For fuck sake-!”
From somewhere before him, someone snorted out a laugh. Bakugou turned sharply to look at the offender, one hand up to cover his ear from any more attacks, and found Sero and Kaminari barely holding in their laughter, shoulders shaking and hands on their lips.
“You assholes wanna fucking die?!” he growled, perfectly aware they were making fun of him and ready to put a stop to it with as many explosions as needed - Red chose that exact moment to headbutt him again, though, and the action seemed to be the last straw for Kaminari and Sero.
They doubled over, arms around their bellies and legs barely holding them up, and Bakugou was on his feet and reaching for them in the span of a breath.
“Sorry, sorry!” Kaminari pleaded as he hid behind Sero, “it’s just, holy smokes, that dragon is a riot, it’s like watching Kirishima smacking you around-”
Bakugou bristled at that.
“Dude, dude,” Sero interrupted, laughter still falling from his lips, “I think, I think it's telling you to stop being rude,” he giggled, leaning on Kaminari to keep himself up just to stumble as Kaminari tried to do the same.
“Just like a Kirishima stand-in,” Kaminari wheezed as he righted himself, making Sero somehow laugh even harder.
Just like Kirishima, they had said.
Bakugou thought he was imagining the similarities, but the idiots seemed to have noticed something too.
He stopped listening to Kaminari and Sero’s comments, ignoring with them the noises raising from the rest of his classmates still present in the room, to instead turn around and look at the dragon perched solidly on his shoulder. It was preening, sitting tall and looking smug, and when its eyes met Bakugou’s stare it chirped at him and then cooed softly.
Bakugou moved a hand up slowly, reaching a thumb and a forefinger to gently cradle the base of Red’s muzzle - the dragon looked puzzled at him, but still let him bend its head to the left, allowed him to lean closer to inspect its right eye.
Over its lid, small and barely visible even in the bright light of the lunch hour, but still undeniably there.
A scar, just like Kirishima's own.
Bakugou let his hold on the dragon go and moved his head back and away slowly, squinted his eyes at the ones still looking at him curiously and patiently. It was different, something was missing, but it was still eerily similar to…
“Kirishima?” he asked, a whisper so quiet it should have gotten lost in the chattering going on around him, but that somehow still had the effect of silencing the whole room into sudden stillness.
At the sound of the name, Red straightened up and flapped its wings, chirped loudly and happily before softly headbutting Bakugou in the side of his head.
It looked at him straight in the eyes, then chriped again, quiet but insistent.
That… that was a yes, right?
Holy goddamn fucking shit.
Red- Kirishima? Kirishima.
Kirishima was currently sitting in the middle of one of the beds in the infirmary, Recovery Girl in front of him, Aizawa on one side and the whole of Class 1-A pressed together and cluttering the other.
As soon as Bakugou had realized what he was dealing with wasn't a quirked animal, he had sprinted towards the teacher lounge and presented the issue to Aizawa, who’d first tried using his quirk to no avail and then ushered everyone towards the school nurse.
Watching Kirishima curl on itself and coil in tension in front of so many eyes watching him, Bakugou wondered against all logic if maybe he'd been wrong in getting the teachers involved.
Seeing him so obviously stressed made Bakugou want to reach out and cradle the dragon back against himself, but Recovery Girl was still checking him out for any possible health issues - it had already been made clear there was nothing they could actively do to turn him back, everything that was left was to wait and hope for the best.
“He seems to be doing just fine, aside from the obvious shape-shifting problem and the high heart rate caused by the stress,” Recovery Girl declared in the end, moving back and away from Kirishima's small form and letting go of her stethoscope to leave it hanging by her neck.
Bakugou immediately reached out a hand towards the center of the bed, palm up and spread open, and Kirishima didn't wait a second before scurrying up his arm and curling tight around his neck.
“He doesn't like being surrounded,” Bakugou told the nurse as an explanation for Kirishima's uncharacteristically skittish behavior.
Recovery Girl nodded in understanding as she moved back towards her desk. “Probably because of how small he is,” she mused, “everything must feel overwhelming right now.”
From his perch back along Bakugou's shoulders, Kirishima crooned sadly and puffed smoke, tail limp across one of Bakugou's pecs and head hidden underneath a wing. Bakugou reached a hand up to rub at his spine without thinking much about it, and felt him relax under his fingers with a soft huff.
For a while, the whole room kept silent as Kirishima’s situation properly settled in.
“So what do we do?” Sero asked in the end, moving closer to Bakugou to look worriedly at Kirishima's small frame.
In answer, Aizawa sighed and raised a hand to push his hair away from his face.
“I’ll contact Fat Gum to see if he knows what sort of quirk Kirishima got hit by,” he said as he moved towards the door, “meanwhile all of you get changed in your costumes, school still isn't over.”
He stepped outside of the door, closed it at his back. Then less than a second later he opened it again, pushed his head back in just to point a finger straight at Bakugou.
“Don't lose sight of him,” he commanded before disappearing again, and Bakugou scoffed, incredulous.
As if he could have ever had any intention to.
Curled thrice around his neck like a particularly bulky choker, Kirishima fit just right hidden away behind the high-collar of Bakugou's winter costume.
It had taken a couple of minutes for him to grow used to the added weight, but in the end he found the accommodation as comfortable and natural as Kirishima seemed to, snuggled up against his skin and engulfed by the costume’s warmth. Bakugou had thought the explosions might have startled him, given how much bigger they had to feel in his current shape, but Kirishima seemed perfectly at peace surrounded by them if his occasional relaxed crooning was anything to go by.
In the privacy of his own head, Bakugou was honest enough to admit it made something in his chest swell with warmth, the way Kirishima refused to leave his side and found comfort and protection with him even in the midst of his usual destruction.
He briefly wondered if it was simply animal instinct telling him Bakugou’s fire could only mean shelter for him, that Bakugou would never let it harm him, or if Kirishima himself felt that safe by Bakugou’s side too, surrounded by explosions and yelled promises of death.
Selfishly, he hoped for the second.
As his feet hit the ground again after a complex succession of moves he was trying to grow used to, Bakugou took a moment to regulate his breathing and uncoil his muscles - while at it, he reached a finger up to move his collar away and peer down at Kirishima, checking whether he was still fine.
“You good?” he asked, tone a bit winded, and Kirishima raised his head to look at him and chirp happily, snuggled back around his neck and rubbed his forehead against the underside of Bakugou's chin as if to reassure him of his well-being.
Bakugou was letting so many smiles slip up looking at the dumb reptilian, he found himself seriously hoping Kirishima wouldn't remember a thing once he was back.
“Good, don't slow me down,” he said as he fought back a grin.
It was a stupid thing to say, Kirishima had never been an hindrance to him before and Bakugou was positive he wouldn't start now - given the annoyed chirping and soft bite he got in answer, Kirishima seemed to be of the same opinion. The reaction had Bakugou huff out a short laugh: even as a dragon Kirishima was still Kirishima, it seemed like.
He shook his head at him, feeling fonder than he ever thought possible.
As he raised his hands to get back to his training, a loud voice yelled his name from behind him - he turned around with a frown, and found Ashido running towards him and waving a hand excitedly over her head. Behind her, Kaminari and a pair of floating gloves that had to be the invisible girl followed her with only vaguely less excitement.
Hi scowl got deeper, and Kirishima chirped at him as if to tell him to calm down.
“I’m training,” he told Ashido as she got close enough to hear, the unsaid leave me the fuck alone clear even just through his tone and expression.
She pouted for a short moment at his reaction, but then started swinging back and forth on her toes, lips stretching in a smirk as the other two idiots settled by her side.
“That's why we're here!” she said happily, “we’re offering to take Kirishima for a while!”
Could his scowl get any worse? Apparently. Bakugou felt his hands starting to smoke in barely contained anger at the suggestion, and didn't even try to stop it from happening.
“No,” he growled, taking a step back and away from them. Kaminari and Ashido pouted at him.
“Isn't he uncomfortable to carry around for your fighting style?” Kaminari asked as he crossed his arms at his chest.
“He must be weighing you down,” Ashido concurred, “literally.”
Bakugou found himself snarling before he could make a conscious decision of it.
“He’s not, get fucking lost,” it wasn't completely true, but Bakugou was good enough to have adjusted easily and fast - nothing about Kirishima was ever irreparably uncomfortable, for him.
From inside his collar, Kirishima cooed at him with a tone Bakugou recognized as an approximation of the concern he showed whenever he was worrying about being an unnecessary shackle, and he scowled first at his classmates in front of him, then at the dragon himself.
“Shut up, we’ve already talked about this,” he snapped, “you being a lizard doesn't change a damn thing.”
It was only a temporary issue anyway, Bakugou could deal with it no problems.
Kirishima looked at him quietly for a moment longer, as if weighing the truth of his words, and then pressed his head once more against his jaw with a soft, happy coo.
Bakugou felt his heart swell a little at the display.
“Isn't it dangerous for him, though?” the invisible girl wondered after a moment, sounding pensive - her glove was raised up in a way that made Bakugou assume she had a finger to her lips, but with her quirk he couldn’t be sure. He raised a brow at her in incredulous anger, but if she reacted in any way he couldn't see it.
“She's right,” Ashido agreed with a light tilt to her tone, “he doesn't have his hardening anymore, after all!”
“You might end up burning him to a crisp with all that fire,” Kaminari mused, shrugging then when Bakugou shot him a glare at the insinuation: as if he'd ever be careless enough for something like that to happen, who did these fuckers even think they were talking to.
His control was notoriously impeccable, and he’d expect more from his classmates than doubting that simple truth.
Before he could let them know just how ridiculous and insulting their worries were and point them out as the badly concealed wish to snatch the dragon from him they obviously were, Bakugou felt Kirishima bristle and tense inside his collar. He poked his head out, long neck straight up and eyes as intense as he could manage in his current form, and stared the other three down for a long, still moment. Bakugou could feel him get warmer around his neck, and he found his frown shifting from angry to confused at that.
Then Kirishima opened his mouth, small fangs all on display, and spit out a long tongue of fire with the most defiant attitude Bakugou had ever seen him adopt.
The way he huffed smoke and slank back down around Bakugou's neck, comfortably settling himself once more into his preferred sleeping position, was an as clear way to say there, fire obviously isn't going to hurt me, now let me be as if he'd used actual words to voice the thought.
Watching the surprise take over their classmates’ faces, Bakugou couldn't stop himself from barking out a loud, unrestrained laugh.
Later, in the boys’ locker room as everyone changed back into their school uniform, Kirishima for the first time since the beginning of the day scurried away from Bakugou's side.
He watched him inspect the room’s floor, wiggle under lockers and slither his way around the many feet occupying the place, and then shrugged and went back to undressing - dragon or not, Kirishima was trained enough to take care of himself in such a controlled space.
“How long do you figure he's gonna stay like that?” Sero asked by his side, leaning over and around Bakugou to throw a glance at the dragon currently climbing up along a locker door.
Bakugou shrugged, reached for his uniform pants and started putting them on. Aizawa hadn't given them a timeframe for how long they had to wait, but it couldn't be too long.
“A day, maybe a couple,” he grumbled, “worst case a week,” and only if the villain that had hit him was a particularly strong one: for a quirk’s effect to last that much, the user must have had to train rigorously for years. Or use some sort of enhancer.
Of course, that was assuming the quirk had a time limit.
“What if he doesn't switch back?” Sero asked after a moment of consideration, spot on as if reading his thoughts. Bakugou scowled in annoyance at being made to properly consider that scenario, but was saved from answering by Kaminari’s sudden whine.
“Don't say that!” he complained, slamming his locker shut and then starting to button up his shirt, “he might be entertaining like that, but I want my bro back!”
Sero turned around to look at him, frowned and crossed his arms over his naked chest.
“Of course I want that too, I’m just saying,” he huffed, “it's a possibility!”
“Well, it's a possibility I don't wanna think about,” Kaminari groaned, reaching for his jacket and shrugging it on.
Bakugou watched them with narrow eyes as he finished dressing himself, thinking about their words and properly weighing them: if the possibility had been a serious one Aizawa would have mentioned as much already, wouldn't he?
He made to say so to the two idiots, more to appease his own worries than anything else, but a red blur free-falling at his left had him suddenly discard that line of thought in favor of turning around and snapping a hand to reach for it.
Kirishima's limp form rested across his palm with neck and tail hanging out, belly cradled between his fingers and wide eyes blinking at him.
“‘the fuck are you doing?” he asked, frowning as the dragon wriggled around in his hold and then sat up on his haunches. He chirped at him as if trying to explain, then opened his wings, flapped them a couple of times, and scurried back up on the top of the lockers.
Bakugou watched him run up and throw himself out of the ledge once more, and once more he reached out and grabbed him before he could hit the ground.
Was he trying to fly?
Behind his back, Bakugou heard Kaminari snort in amusement, and for once he nearly found himself joining in with him.
“You can do it, buddy,” Sero told Kirishima with a laugh, finally going back to getting dressed, “I believe in you.”
Kirishima chirped at him in something that was probably meant to be gratitude, then scurried back up the lockers to try once again, ran up to the ledge, threw himself out with splayed wings.
Bakugou sighed in fond exasperation as he fell right back in his open palm.
Kirishima flew high up above his head as Bakugou made his way towards the dorms, hands in his pockets and nose tilted up to look at him.
He seemed to be having fun, switching from an updraft to the next and twirling midair as he followed his own tail, or a bird, or a bug he really shouldn’t be trying to eat - at times he stumbled and fell, and in those occasions Bakugou felt his muscles coil ready to snap and reach out to catch him before he could hurt himself, but in the end he always found his bearings in time, righted his body and flew back up.
Kirishima was like that, Bakugou mused with a low hum and warmth in his chest. Headstrong and resilient, even in a body as small as the one he was currently inhabiting.
He whistled, long and drown out, and watched with a barely there smirk as Kirishima snapped his head to look at him, chirped right back high enough for his small voice to carry across the space separating them.
He’d left two days prior for a sudden call to his internship with Fat Gum. That morning, Bakugou had as usual let himself in his room to fetch him and walk to school together, expecting to see him still with his hair down and uniform jacket missing, and instead had found him up and ready to head out, the bag storing his hero costume in one hand and an apologetic smile adorning his face.
It had been fine, by that point Bakugou was used to it - he had rolled his eyes, told him to be careful with more swears and curses than necessary, and then had proceeded through his day as he always did when Kirishima was out on his internship.
Which was to say, with nerves ready to snap at any given moment and the constant feeling of something missing from his side.
He was used to that, too.
Now Kirishima was technically back, Bakugou reminded himself as he finally reached the dorms building. It was his weight on his shoulder as he came back down to perch on him, it was his heat against his cheek as he crooned and pressed against him. Kirishima was there, with him.
It still didn’t feel right, though.
Because of course it didn’t.
He reached a hand up to scratch between the dragon’s horns, and waved the other dismissively at his classmates as he passed through the common room with lazy steps. Kirishima turned his head around to watch his friends lounge on the couches and chat with each other, and as he waited for the lift to open Bakugou began to assume he’d soon fly towards them to spend the rest of the afternoon in their company, as he usually did after a long day of school.
Instead, Kirishima stayed perched on his shoulder the whole way inside the lift and then to his room, only let himself down once the door was securely closed behind their backs.
“Make yourself at home, I fucking guess,” Bakugou scoffed as he watched him slither under his bed and start making noises under it.
He shrugged off his uniform and jumped into something more comfortable, settled at his desk to start with the daily homework load and easily got in the groove of it; he wasn’t sure how long it passed before he stretched his arms and back and turned around to check what Kirishima was up to, but when his eyes found him he ended up having to do a double-take.
“What the hell are you doing,” he asked with a raised brow and incredulous tone, and Kirishima remained still for a second longer, unblinking eyes steady on him and small fangs closed around the hem of Bakugou’s favorite skull tee.
Then he jump-started again, probably as soon as he realized Bakugou wasn’t about to reach out and blow him up for whatever he was doing, and scurried away back under the bed dragging the shirt with himself.
“What the fuck,” Bakugou muttered to himself, frowning as more noises started coming from where Kirishima had hidden away - he got up, curious about what exactly was happening, and knelt down by his bed to peek under it.
In a far corner of it, Kirishima was perched on a pile of stuff Bakugou was more than sure hadn’t been there, that morning: he could make out a couple of his shirts, the fancy compass his father had gifted him last birthday, three of his drumming sticks, his silver bullet necklace, coins and pens and his All Might wallet - where had Kirishima even gotten that?
He shook his head, frowning harder as he watched the small dragon settle his skull tee atop the pile he had built up.
“Are you fucking hoarding?” he asked incredulous, and Kirishima immediately stopped his ministrations to snap his head around and look at him, stilling again as if he’d been caught doing something he knew he shouldn’t have.
Which, damn straight he had.
“Stop stealing my stuff, asshole, I need that shit,” Bakugou groaned, reaching a hand out under the bed and then snatching it right back when he felt small fangs prickle at the tip of his middle finger.
“Ow, what the shit!” he snapped, annoyance rising in his chest - Kirishima hissed at him and sputtered a small lick of fire, then scurried up on his hoard and curled tightly around it.
Bakugou sighed through gritted teeth, forcing himself to not explode on the spot. He let the side of his head hit the floor by his bed, still kneeling at its side, and after a moment he breathed the tension in his body out with a long exhale.
It was Kirishima, but at the same time it wasn’t.
There were times when his new animal instincts took over and overrode his sensible mind, making him do shit like throwing himself off lockers to learn how to fly, follow bugs to snack on them like it was in any way a healthy thing to do, collect junk around Bakugou’s room to make his very own hoard. He obviously understood Bakugou’s words, but answered to them like any animal would - he couldn’t even get him to answer with nods or shakes of his head, and that should have been easy .
Bakugou sighed again, tapping the fingers of one hand on the floor tiles and watching Kirishima look at him from beneath a wing with wide, attentive eyes.
“How long are you gonna stay like that?” he asked in a grumble, not really sure whether he meant in that position or in that shape. Maybe, probably, he meant both.
It’d been just two days and he already missed Kirishima, even if he was right there - how more pathetic could he even get?
He huffed at himself and made to move back to his desk, resigned to having lost his belongings at least for the time being, but as soon as he got up to his knees he felt a slight pull at the hem of one of his sleeves. He looked down, surprised, and found Kirishima’s muzzle barely peeking out from under the bed to bite at his shirt.
“...what,” he asked for lack of anything better to say. Kirishima looked at him a second longer, then slithered under the bed without letting go of Bakugou’s sleeve, pulling him back down on all fours with the obvious intention of dragging him with himself.
Oh, for fuck sake-
“You can’t add this shirt to your hoard, I’m wearing it!” he yelled, snatching his arm back with enough strength to pull the small dragon out from under the bed with himself, still hanging by his sleeve as Bakugou pushed once more back up to his knees.
From his dangling position, Kirishima growled at him, let smoke seep out from between the fangs still prickling holes at his shirt, and Bakugou growled right back at him, snarling teeth and deep frown. They stood at a standstill for nearly a whole minute before Bakugou groaned and pushed back to his feet, moved his free hand to detach Kirishima from himself and cradle him against his chest.
They weren’t going to go anywhere, if that kept up.
Dragons were supposed to be stubbornly greedy beings, after all - even if the trait didn’t exactly fit with the Kirishima he knew, Bakugou had already come to terms with the fact that that wasn’t the Kirishima he knew. Sacrifices had to be made in order to show the lizard who was the superior being between them.
He still wasn’t going to give up his shirt, though.
“Just get back on my shoulders if you want to sleep on this damn thing so bad,” he grumbled as he sat at his desk to finish his school work. Kirishima looked at him with inscrutable eyes for a beat, and after a whole day of stopping-and-staring Bakugou had gotten used to that, but once he did move he didn’t climb up his chest as Bakugou had guessed he would.
Instead, he let himself down on his lap, twirled on the spot a couple of times as Bakugou brought up his legs and crossed them under himself, and then puffed out a sigh as he settled to sleep.
Baffled, Bakugou found himself realizing he couldn’t read him at all.
He could always read Kirishima, at least in part, at least a bit.
He groaned, leaning down to rest his forehead against the edge of his desk and looking with a frown at the sleeping dragon. For reasons he didn’t want to dwell too long on, he found himself thinking back to the locker room conversation between Sero and Kaminari.
Something ugly twisted painfully inside his chest as he forced himself to banish the thought.
“Come back already, you damn idiot,” he hissed, words barely a discernible noise even in the quiet of his room. From his lap, Kirishima didn’t make a sound.
Dragon Kirishima was cute, Bakugou thought.
He had a cute little muzzle with sharp teeth and intense eyes, and a cute red shine all over his smooth, warm body. His wings were wide and soft to the touch, and the way light filtered through the membrane turning them orange was cute, too. His chirps and coos were cute, and the way he pressed himself against Bakugou to show gratitude was cute as well.
Human Kirishima was cuter, though.
The way his teeth were too pointy, too white and just the right amount of dangerous, but still made up the warmest smile Bakugou had ever seen, that was very cute. The way his hair framed his face when down and made him stand out in a crowd of thousands when up was cute, too. His laughter and the way his voice sounded when calling Bakugou’s name were cute, and his pouts were as well.
Actually, Bakugou was yet to find an expression he didn’t find cute on Kirishima’s features.
He liked the way dragon Kirishima felt when resting on his shoulders, but he liked it better when the weight was that of an arm leading down to a solid, warm body pressed all along his side.
He liked the feeling of dragon Kirishima curled around his neck as he fought, but he liked it better when he could feel a wide back against his own, sturdy and trustworthy and safe to press against.
He liked the way his hands felt as they caressed red scales, but he had liked the feeling of soft fingers interlaced with his own way, way more.
Bakugou sighed, turning around on his bed to go from laying on his side to look at the ceiling above him - it was far later than he usually stayed up, and he could feel sleep muddle up his thoughts and turn his mind sluggish, but he still couldn’t manage to fall into unconsciousness.
Kirishima was sleeping on the pillow by his head, curled up and snoring softly, every exhale a puff of wispy smoke.
What if he stayed like that? Remained a small dragon and never turned back into his best friend? It was a ridiculously farfetched scenario, but the further into the night it got the more likely it sounded to Bakugou.
What if he never got to hold his hand again? Grab his face and kiss the living daylights out of him, tell him how crazy he made him?
Bakugou groaned, pushing his weight on his arms to sit up and then cradling his head between his sweating palms - he was being irrational, he knew it, but the more he thought about the possibility the less he found himself able to stop.
“Damn it,” he growled, annoyed at Sero for having planted the idea in his head and at himself for actually entertaining it. He needed to shut his brain down already.
He closed his eyes tightly, counted to ten and then started to go backwards too, when the soft cooing coming from right before his face had him startle out of the rhythm. He opened his lids slowly, and Kirishima’s muzzle was less than a breath away from his nose, head tilted to the side in what might have been concern.
It had to be concern.
Bakugou groaned, letting himself fall back on the bed and then curling on his side. If it had been the human version of Kirishima he’d been dealing with, he would have for sure been able to tell what his friend was feeling - he knew he would have. Reptilian features were so hard to decipher, compared to the way Kirishima usually wore his heart on his sleeves.
Bakugou missed him, and having him there but not quite was only making everything worse.
The dragon scurried back around his body, climbing his hip and side to come rest in front of his face once more. He nipped lightly at Bakugou’s jaw, cooing soft and then pushing his forehead against his cheek to nuzzle it slowly and, yeah, that was attempted comfort, Bakugou could still tell as much.
He snorted, moving an arm up and around Kirishima’s small body to cradle him against his chest, curl himself further around him.
“I know it’s still you,” he huffed, moving a finger to trace the edge of a spread out wing as Kirishima wriggled to lay his chin on Bakugou’s neck, “I just-”
I just miss your voice and laughter, and I like you so much it hurts, but I can’t go confessing my embarrassing crush to a glorified lizard now, can I, he completed in his head, and then rolled his eyes at himself for the thought.
As if he could ever say something like that out loud.
“Got a thing I gotta tell you,” he completed instead, letting his eyes fall shut and relaxing into his mattress, “so turn back into something that can actually talk, you moron.”
For however small, Kirishima’s body was warm and comfortable against his chest. Bakugou felt it croon at him in answer to his words, snuggle further against his neck and between his arms.
He huffed a goodnight in a mumbled, heavy exhale, leaned down to nuzzle at the first part of the dragon his nose could reach.
He took a deep breath in, inhaled the scent of smoke and earth, and fell asleep shortly after.
Bakugou woke up to the feeling of being unable to properly breathe.
Or move at all.
He felt heavy and pressed down, he was pretty sure his right arm and shoulder were dead he could feel them that little, he was overly hot and sweaty and did he mention he couldn’t breathe.
He opened his eyes with a groan, blinked a couple of time as he let his brain catch up to being awake - mornings were never easy to him for the first fifteen minutes after having left the land of dreams. He wiggled his toes, then his hands just to make sure he still had both of them.
He took a breath in with more trouble than he should have, let it all out as if it had been punched out of him.
Then he noticed the red hair in his peripheral vision, splayed out on his chest and under his chin, tickling his jaw and collarbones, and he found himself not breathing for a whole different reason.
He was back.
Wriggling out from under him without waking him wasn’t easy, seeing as he was built like a brick house made of solid, heavy, sculpted muscles Bakugou could feel against himself from head to toe-
Fuck, he thought.
“Fuck,” he said out loud, too.
Dragon Kirishima hadn’t been wearing any clothes, had he. Goddamn it.
He groaned loudly as he felt himself becoming warmer and warmer, blush undoubtedly taking over his whole face, and then cursed under his breath when his lamenting his lack of foresight got interrupted by a sleepy, incomprehensible grumble.
“Bak’gou…?” Kirishima mumbled after a second, reaching up a hand to rub at his eye and yawning loud and unrestrained. Then he stopped with a soft oh, hand still mid air in front of his face, probably just realizing he had once again a human body.
A human, possibly very naked body.
Bakugou hated his life.
“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” he said, keeping his voice as unwavering and unaffected as he could make it, “when I come back, I better find you with a pair of fucking pants on,” his tone trembled a little by the end of it, but with any luck Kirishima would read it as his usual anger.
It took a moment for Kirishima’s sleep-muddled brain to understand what Bakugou was saying, but when he did he immediately sprung up with a panicked yelp to scramble back, went too far and ungracefully fell down to the floor.
Bakugou took a second to thank the small things for the fact that he brought all the covers with himself.
He sat up and reached with a leg over Kirishima’s sprawled out body, hastily made his way to the bathroom without sparing a glance towards his best friend least he saw how red his face currently was.
To hell with mornings, seriously.
Kirishima was sitting straight on the edge of his bed when he came back, a pair of Bakugou’s sweatpants hiding his lower body and shoulders so rigid he looked ready to pull something.
Bakugou watched him for a handful of self-indulgent seconds, feeling the usual warmth take over his chest and making him unwind from the last of the apprehension still tensing up his muscles.
He sure had freaked out over nothing, the night before.
In the dim light barely filtering through the closed curtain, Kirishima looked soft and inviting - his hair was down and tangled, his teeth were worrying at his plump, red lip, his slender fingers twisting and turning in his lap.
Bakugou found him so beautiful, he nearly felt unable to breathe once again.
“Stop freaking out,” he said as he walked closer, making Kirishima startle and look up, wide, red eyes shining as they pointed straight at Bakugou’s own.
It’s not like it was your fault, Bakugou wanted to keep going, but something reflecting the light across Kirishima’s cheekbones and temples caught his attention and distracted him. He frowned as he walked closer, came to a stop right between his spread knees.
There were scales, small and red in color, still scattered across his skin.
“Sorry…” Kirishima mumbled, tilting his head up to look at Bakugou with a still pinched expression, but Bakugou only shook his head in answer, raised a hand to thumb at the remnants of the transformation still lingering on his face.
He looked weirdly otherworldly, like that.
Bakugou wanted to kiss him.
Should he stop and pull back? His brain was yelling at him to, screeching at him to not cross that line, but the way Kirishima instinctively leaned against the touch had him still before backtracking. He thought about the small dragon pressing against his skin, about the happy cooing whenever he rubbed his fingers along his scaled body.
Maybe, Bakugou thought, maybe he could push a bit further still.
“You’re not completely back,” he said, rubbing the pad of his thumb across one of his cheekbones and then down along his jaw, slowly, carefully. They were small enough to be barely visible, but horns were pushing out from the skin of his forehead, too, sharp and coarse-looking.
Bakugou wondered how long it’d take for everything to disappear.
“O-oh, yes, probably,” Kirishima said, a bit stilted and red faced. Then he shrugged, careful enough to not dislodge the hand still touching him, “it took a while to settle in, too.”
Bakugou hummed, long and pensive, and brought his free hand up to trace the scales on the other side of Kirishima’s face as well. They felt rough under his skin, and for a second he wondered how they’d look like, if Kirishima were to harden right then.
Bakugou wanted to kiss him so bad.
“You-” Kirishima started, then interrupted himself to cough a little, tentatively brought a hand up to hold at the lower hem of Bakugou’s shirt.
He looked even more flushed than he had a minute earlier, apple of his cheeks nearly rivaling the scales still left on them for color. Bakugou decided he liked that expression on his face too.
He liked it a lot.
“You said you wanted to, to tell me something, yesterday…?” Kirishima pressed on in the end, resolutely not looking away from Bakugou’s eyes as his sharp teeth worried his lower lip, his hand held onto the shirt a bit tighter.
The other one was still clutching his knee, knuckles white enough to perfectly bring out even more the red scattered all across them, and Bakugou thought about holding that hand, rubbing his thumb across those scales till they, too, disappeared behind a pleased flush.
Kirishima was so painfully gorgeous, like that.
“You remember,” Bakugou hummed, eyes and thumbs still roaming all over Kirishima’s face, and when he received a jerky nod in answer he bit his lower lip and then ran his tongue to wet it slowly, deliberately.
He saw Kirishima swallow and turn redder still, but he didn’t look away, his eyes still holding Bakugou’s own, expectant and inviting, beaconing him in. A moment later, his tongue came out to mirror the other’s movement, along his lip and then back behind sharp teeth, and Bakugou found his breath caught in his throat, felt his chest size.
That was a conscious action on Kirishima’s part, wasn’t it?
With his heart beating louder than it ever had before and his hands feeling dangerously sweaty, Bakugou decided he’d take a leap of faith and trust it was.
Kirishima tensed up the moment his lips crashed against his, demanding and hungry since the start, and for the length of that stretched out second Bakugou found himself scared he’d misread everything.
It’d taken so long for him to decide to make a move, he couldn’t believe he’d fucked it up anyway.
Before he could pull back and apologize, though, Kirishima’s hands came up to hold at his waist tightly, pull him closer as his lips finally started moving against his, hesitant against his being insistent, warm, careful. Bakugou huffed a relieved breath against them, and as his shoulders came down and his muscles relaxed he let Kirishima pull him closer still, followed him as he fell back on his bed.
Even in the new position, Kirishima splayed out under him as he settled above and between his legs, the kiss remained chaste despite its strength: their lips moved clumsily against each other, trying to find a rhythm that worked for both of them, and Bakugou spared a moment to be grateful that was how his first kiss had ended up feeling.
Warm and right, like coming back home after a week of grueling work. He could get used to the feeling of it.
With all his heart, he hoped Kirishima would give him the time to get used to it.
“I like you,” he breathed against Kirishima’s lips as they came apart, his fingers still tracing the scales slowly fading against warm skin, making them catch against his blunt fingernails as he scraped them along his cheekbones, “that’s what I had to say, I like you.”
When Kirishima huffed out a laugh, wide chest trembling with it under his own, Bakugou couldn’t even say he hadn’t been expecting it - that was just how the idiot was, always smiling, always laughing.
He rolled his eyes at him, then pretended not to swell with affection when Kirishima threw his arms around his waist to hug him tighter.
“The kiss sort of made me figure,” he giggled just beside one of Bakugou’s ear, nuzzling his hair and leaving pecks between it.
Pressed as he was against his collarbones, Bakugou could feel the outline of fading scales against the plump of his lips, by now just barely still there, and he slowly pressed against them more firmly, just to know how it felt, just to commit that to memory too.
“What about you, jackass,” he mumbled then, kind of miffed Kirishima was yet to say it back but still not making any move to try and get out of his embrace. In answer, Kirishima laughed brightly again, rolled them around on the bed till they were laying face to face on their sides.
He was smiling, wide and full of warmth, and Bakugou couldn’t have teared his eyes away from him even if he’d wanted to.
“Bakugou,” he said, tone still light with uncontained happiness, “everyone knows a hoard is made of everything most precious to a dragon, and I made it out of your things, and I tried to pull you in it,” he giggled, squeezing his eyes and baring all his beautiful teeth, “you were the first thing I picked for it, of course I like you back, you doof.”
Oh, Bakugou thought, feeling his eyes widen as Kirishima brought a hand to hold his cheek, pulled him back in to fit his lips once more against his own.
It hadn’t been his shirt he’d wanted, the day before.
And that was why he’d stayed perched on him the whole time.
When they pulled apart, all remaining traces of the shapeshifting had finally left Kirishima’s skin. As he looked at him in the dim light of the early morning, hair even more of a tangled mess and face shining bright with happiness, Bakugou thought him just as otherworldly and gorgeous as he had before.
Kirishima never ceased to look like something too perfect to really exist, after all.
Bakugou pushed himself against his chest and hid his face in the crook of his neck, arms going up around his shoulders to hold him close and legs tangled with his and around the sheets. He inhaled his scent in, let it calm down his thundering heart.
“Well, thank fuck you’re not a dragon anymore, then,” he grumbled, feeling his face heat up as Kirishima tightened his hold around his back, started rubbing circles across his shoulder-blades and spine, “I ain’t no one’s to keep and treat as a trophy to hoard like that.”
Then he took a fast breath in, pushed through before Kirishima could interrupt him and have him chicken out of it.
“I’ll still be yours if you’ll be mine, though.”
Bakugou couldn’t see him from his position against his chest, but by the way Kirishima’s hands stopped he assumed he was gaping at him like the dumbass he was.
Then he started laughing again, a sound that started from his shoulders as a tremble that shook his whole body, travelled up to his throat, bubbled up crystalline and bright till it was drowning out every other sound inside the room.
Bakugou waited him out, didn’t mind it as much as he would have had it been anyone else - that was just how Kirishima was, he laughed when he was embarrassed, he laughed when he was elated, he laughed when he was happy and ready to burst with it.
He just laughed a whole damn lot.
Bakugou was pleasantly used to that.
As Kirishima started peppering kisses between his hair and all over his face, as he promised for as long as you’ll want me to and held him even tighter, as their lips found each other yet again while they ignored the blaring alarm trying to grab their attention, Bakugou let himself entertain the idea of growing used to a lot more, in the years to come.
Everything Kirishima had to give him, he would gladly accept and hold close and dear as the precious gift it undoubtedly was.
If he were a dragon, he decided, those were the only things he’d ever want his own hoard to be made of.