It was hard to ever put a name to it, or a timeline. Maybe because he couldn’t imagine existing without it anymore, or that he didn’t trust what life would be without it.
There was a sense of invulnerability that came along with disinterest in everyone. A sense of power and strength over others- the freedom of having no weights holding you down. No restraints on his arms or hands and no shackles forcing him to other people.
It was exhilarating as life could be when he couldn’t ever remember what exhilarating was.
He always felt a lot. He always reacted with the spontaneous reliability of a broken wire- a phone charger that was disfigured and busted somewhere along the end. Unresponsive, electric, but when moved just right, it exploded with the full fury of a wall socket.
It could kill someone; he always heard about dumb ass people sticking forks in the wall sockets. He thought about that a lot.
He always wanted the power over his own body, the ability to look at weakness of the flesh and to demand it to stop. He grinned when it worked, when feelings and other weaknesses and other obstacles in his path finally obeyed him. He wanted them to stop, and they did. He didn’t feel them anymore, and somewhere in that haze of power over his own body he forgot what emotions were and why he had them all together. He forgot a lot of things in the haze of monotony and the comfort of reliability. He kept grinning, because he didn’t have the cues for proper reactions and expressions but he remembered grinning so obviously that was something that worked?
He didn’t give a fuck anymore. He didn’t think even if he screamed, he knew how to anymore.
There was a conflict of interest, a juxtaposition against mind and sensation. Something horrible could occur, and he couldn’t feel the contrast between how he felt when something relatively normal occurred. He could break his finger- feeling how it fucking hurt alright, but it wasn’t anything different than when he found that shirt the other day he thought he forgot. It frustrated him, confused him because he knew he should be upset or happy but he couldn’t really remember how to properly drag up those bits in him.
After a while he accepted that maybe he grew out of it; maybe getting giggly or happy over boring dumb things was something he’d no longer experience. Everyone else seemed pretty damn gleeful, pretty happy or excited over grades or new maneuvers; he remembered twisting his face into a grin because grinning was a face he knew how to do well.
(Sometimes he messed it up, sometimes he forced his muscles to move into a face a little too twisted and they looked at him confused and uncertain. He thought he remembered the face you were supposed to do when people told you sad things. He thought he remembered the one you were supposed to make while interested. He felt like an alien; training his jaw and cheeks to move in a half lit room with a cracked mirror didn’t make it any easier.)
(Someone asked him once what he was doing when he was trying to interact with them. He realized he got the face wrong, and was doing the ‘Sad-disappointed-bad-news’ face when he should have been doing the ‘Sad-disappointed-sucks-for-you’ face.)
It wasn’t sadness. He wasn’t sad.
He felt detached and far away. Not like he was looking out from a stranger's face or whatever bullshit that was called. He was there, he knew himself. He was just...He felt like things didn’t matter much. There wasn’t much point in things, all it was doing was procrastination for something he didn’t know. He was procrastinating over and over and there was little to do to force off the time. Stumbling around through day to day being horribly bored, and it was just…
Nothing made it go away.
He was so bored and nothing could ever distract him from how lonely and meaningless his fucking disaster of a life felt now.
He wondered about that electrical socket in the wall. Maybe however fuck-ton of volts that was would zap some sort of feeling back into him.
(And it didn’t. Fucking. Stop.)
He was so desperate for anything at this point, to the point he would be willing to do crazy shit just to make a spark light up again. He was used to punching a target, splitting his knuckles and sending blood in a fine spray from broken skin. You can’t punch nothing. You can’t cover it or make it bleed or pry it apart like string. It’s nothing.
You can’t stop nothing.
(He felt like nothing.)
Maybe he should have clued in earlier that it was a problem; maybe it was because he lacked the understanding or ability to feel emotions or panic to the level he used to.
He always thought that since he had somehow made his emotions go away, that he controlled them, he thought that he had control over everything in his life.
He found himself wishing that nothing and nobody in the world loved him, so he wouldn’t feel the need to keep existing.
It wasn’t a shock to him, or maybe he should have been surprised. He spent his entire life trying to be the best- dammit he was the best. He worked his ass off every single moment of every single day. It was strange numb thought to embrace the idea that he really didn’t want to be alive anymore.
It wasn’t even a big idea, it was something in passing. He wanted to finish his assignment for English, he wanted to get his door hinge to stop squeaking, he wanted to stop being alive.
It wasn’t even- he-.
He didn’t want to die- he just- he wasn’t suicidal.
He didn’t want to think about it- because that would make it true- but there was such an appeal to it all. He always felt like he was dragging himself through life. He felt like he was dragging himself down a hallway after a long practice, everything hurting and he just wanted to sleep.
(and not wake up.)
There’s no casual way to bring up the fact you may be suicidal. (He didn’t even fucking know at this point, okay? He just- he was just tired. )
He knew better than to just bring it up like a fucking joke, that would be a new low even for him. He couldn’t comfort people when everyone reacted wrong to however he thought they would. They all looked plastic, like those goddamn masks people wore in high end movies.
He had so few feelings and everyone else had so goddamn many, and he didn’t understand.
He wasn’t going to tell anyone about it anyways. He knew better especially with all the dumb shit his mother would put him through. He didn’t need anyone's goddamn pity, but it felt downright absurd to keep working so hard towards something he didn’t give a shit about. He was working towards a goal that felt pointless and everything felt like hopeless bullshit and some days he couldn’t even imagine himself a week later.
(What if...what if the entire future was filled with horrible, boring things?)
(That would be too many things.)
(Even for him)
He did have some feelings though. Some things that stung and prickled like boiling water on his skin. It wasn’t like how it used to be, or how he imagined it all used to be. It hurt, and stung and he almost didn’t want it except he had been so alone for so long he would take the burning agony any day.
He hated a lot of things. He hated small things and big things and he latched onto it until his entire existence burned in agony then switched into complete and utter nothingness without preparation.
Hating everything made all the positivism and joy in the world feel like a single offence. Everything bright and sunshine made him hate it and made him burn because his brain was on fire and it hurt and the only thing different was people laughing and smiling- so it had to be that? The syrupy sickly sweet joy of each day made him sick.
He wanted to pull back his fist and smash in someone's face, again and again until they were nothing but blood and begging him to stop because he wanted it to stop also and-.
He was fine, because he wasn’t going to actually bash in someone's face even though he wanted to. He wasn’t actually going to kill himself even though maybe it would stop this
He wasn’t going to do anything stupid. Because there wasn’t a point and the effort wasn’t worth it since it likely wouldn’t change anything.
Have you ever really, really wanted something?
It wasn’t like that.
It’s the opposite.
Aaaaand here we go into the den of wolves.
How far are we going to fall down down down
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The expectations of others are heavy things.
Oppressive, weighing down on you until exhaustion sunk into every bone. Until the act of breathing felt painful, laboring and so much work.
It was irrational, and stupid in all the ways. The expectations over small things. The expectation you’d get to class on time. The expectation you finish your assignments. The expectation you act like how you’re know, the expectation you aren’t different.
God forbid you ever lash out viscerally, god forbid you ever have a bad day. God forbid you lay in bed an extra five minutes because that would give you a moment to think, and the expectations of others do not allow that.
The jealousy of the success of other people. The jealousy that anyone and everyone is better than you, and deep in your heart you know it’s true. It takes you a second longer to answer a question; you’re worthless. It takes you a fraction of a moment longer to act or to respond; you’re better off dead.
(Having thought these things all your life, was it really ever a surprise when the idea of dying was so alluring?)
It was so easy to find the world daunting. The same thing over and over. Bruises that won’t heal. Wake up, spit out the blood, put on a glare and repeat. Day after day. Until the day you died, and nothing in between.
Bakugou looked in the mirror one Monday morning, and realized quite clearly, that although he wanted to be the number one Hero, he could never imagine himself alive in three years.
He hated the term, the vague description he searched late at night when he couldn’t sleep. The haze, the disinterest. He hated it.
“Hey man!” Kirishima cheered, looping one hand over the back of Bakugou’s shoulder. He snarled, forcing it off- that was one thing he knew what to do.
“Fuck off!” Bakugou snarled, slamming himself down in his seat. Class would start, more content he could ignore only to try and have it sink into his skull the next day. He just needed to survive a day, just one more and he could retreat and rinse and repeat and-
God, when would it end?
Class started, he wrote notes he didn’t recognize. No training that day; his arms throbbed in agony from the perpetually bruised muscles. How much longer until the fibers tore apart? How much more until he frayed and frayed and snapped.
Class ended, he ignored the extras. The mindless crowd that watched him and spoke of him, rinse, repeat.
He left, stomping past with words that felt plastic and rehearsed. He got to his room, lay on his bed and stared at a wall.
He stared, blank.
I don’t want to be alive.
Bakugou inhaled shakily, sat up, and grabbed his notes to study.
He didn’t like looking at his texts. Every time he opened his phone he saw the joking message from his mother that wasn’t so joking without context.
‘They probably handed me the wrong baby at the hospital.’
Ignore the way it stung.
(They expect you to be the best. They expect you to be the best.)
A 93% on an exam wasn’t good enough. Fourth place in the class wasn’t good enough.
Half of him wanted to let it rest, to just accept that a 93% was okay, but the moment he did that he knew he would stop getting up in the morning. He knew he’d start to allow the small things to slip by until everything slipped out from under him.
A 93% wasn’t good enough. He was a pathetic fucking horrible piece of shit.
‘Every time I get less than a 95%,’ He thought numbly to himself, ‘I’ll fucking blow up my legs.’
He thought of it as incentive. He didn’t have enough energy to argue that it was shitty at best, and likely wouldn’t prevent anything. This would end with more fucking scars and he didn’t give a shit anymore anyways.
(Maybe, this time, fucking up will change something.)
(You’re such a fucking disgrace you fucking disast-.)
His next exam was an 89%, he blasted his thigh until it hurt so bad tears forced themselves out of the corner of his eye.
He wished, that it would have meant something. He looked at his leg, mauled and bleeding like fucking raw beef, and thought to himself, ‘I’ll have to use the other leg for my next exam.’
He wished he could have tried to fight away the sense of inevitability that surrounded him. He wished that motivation worked, but instead he was left pondering what part he’d have to make fucking bleed as punishment for his own fuck ups.
He wondered, how long he’d last until he started to torture himself simply for existing.
It didn’t get easier.
He cracked; one Saturday on his day off, he decided to lay in bed.
He lay there, staring at the ceiling of his room. His grades were impeccable, his general scoring was off the charts. He stayed in bed and didn’t bother getting up for the first time in his life, and he watched as the clock slowly marked the passing of time.
Nobody burst down his door, nobody slamming a hand or fist against the wall to wake him up or deliver him his things. Maybe he should have realized that something was wrong then, but the echoes of self loathing are such cruel all knowing things.
If he had gone to class that day, in retrospect, it would have stopped everything before it really ever started.
“Dude did you hear? I didn’t believe it honestly.”
“They’re kinda cute together! They’re so nice it kinda makes sense!”
“Wow the two sunniest people hooking up? This class isn’t going to survive.”
“Aizawa-Sensei is going to be so confused.”
“Whoa, wait. Bakugou is going to have a fit over this! I mean, Midoriya? And he’s really protective over-.”
Bakugou stared, uncomprehending at the two hands awkwardly (but oh so clearly) intertwined. The blushing unfamiliar faces, the dawn of something disgusting and devastating all at once.
Bakugou should have argued, he should have exploded like the way something in his brain screamed at him to do. He wanted to grab Deku’s face and smash it in, detonate an explosion so close the only thing that would remain was his goddamn slimy brain on the floor.
He didn’t, because the single instinct more overwhelming than rage was the cripplingly numb sensation that seeped into every nerve of his body.
‘Oh’ he thought calmly and with a solemn close of a door clicking shut.
Bakugou ignored Shitty Hair and goddamn Deku, and let himself fall.
There was a constant, in Bakugou’s life.
No matter how amazing he was, no matter how hard he tried or how much he burned himself in an attempt to blaze in glory.
Deku would always burn brighter.
Kirishima didn’t come to Bakugou’s room for their standard study session. Bakugou wasn’t as close to Mina and Kaminari; the two preferring to pester Jiro and Momo rather than face Bakugou. Sero didn’t have horrendous grades, which left Bakugou sitting alone in his room with his lamp finishing the English assignment. He felt sluggish and tired, pencil scratching in soft patterns as he finished the work and set it to the side. It was still early, hours before he would have finished with Shitty Hair being there. His room was quiet, and it was very lonesome in a strange way.
Bakugou wasn’t used to having friends- he was used to extras, but the absence of Kirishima was felt heavy on him. It made his activities and actions seem more...wasteful. Time he could have been devoting to something important now being wasted instead. It felt wrong, off. An itch under his skin like a sweat gland clogged.
Bakugou sighed through his nose and glanced outside. It was still bright out, he could likely fit in a run although they had finished training today. If anything the exercise could help his endurance, or help the gradual stretching in his quads with repeated jogging. Normally he ran at dawn- two runs in one day wasn’t normal for him. Shitty Hair wasn’t around to be concerned, to ask ‘what’s wrong, man?’ at Bakugou sprinting until his mind went blank.
Few things made his mind blissfully empty; punching things, running, and being exhausted until he cried.
Bakugou grabbed his running shoes, the special ones he used at dawn, and started to lace them around his throbbing feet.
The blisters on his ankles were raw. Broken skin in large gashes from where the heel bit into his ankle. Sections of skin worn off; lesions that bled plasma and slime with ribbons of skin fluttering after he popped them with broken nails.
He wound gauze around the wounds, smearing on antiseptic to make sure it wouldn’t bother him later. For added help, he wound gauze tightly around the arches of his feet. He knew without, they’d tighten and leave him limping.
When the sun started to rise, he grabbed his shoes, scrubbed them under the sink to wash off the crusted gore, and laced his feet up to run.
Training hurt. It left him with his mask breaking and a hefty bruise along his left cheek. His one tooth felt loose, wiggling ever so slightly as his gums began to bleed.
He spat it out in a globule of mucus, sneering with a glare at Shoji who at least managed to look a bit unsettled by it.
No quirks, Aizawa had said. That was fine, Bakugou would keep punching until his hands fucking bled.
He was so so tired of everything.
He laced on his shoes when the air began to cool, turning crisp as the crickets started to chirp. He walked down the main stairwell, untangling his headphones for his music.
He paused near the doors, listening with a frown. Someone was in the kitchen.
The air smelled burnt and thick, like some asshole tried to make something gourmet and instead fucked up one of the decent frypans they had left. Bakugou had half a mind to scream at whoever it was who messed up his pan, until he saw the familiar red hair.
And Deku. Having dinner alone and laughing without knowing the eyes that watched them.
Bakugou looked down, a thick lump of something festering burned in his throat. He shoved his headphones in his pocket, ignoring the lump or his phone. He walked fast, just unseen out the front door to where the streetlights around the campus would be lighting up soon.
Thump thump, the sounds of rubber soles hit sidewalk in a familiar rhythm. It wasn’t enough, it didn’t drown out the repetitive thoughts and cyclic idea of wow I sure am easy to replace.
He didn’t want to think about it, because he already knew he was.
Thump thump, he kept running. Until the gauze on his ankles soaked through wet and sticky from the blisters he ruptured all over again. Until his legs and lungs burned and his eyes stung and he kept running still until his knees gave out a few kilometers away from the safety of his bed.
Forcing himself upright on shaky feet, he kept running still. He couldn’t change how absolutely fucked up everything was but if he could do one thing, he could fuck himself up worse.
He dragged himself into the dorms, eyeing the kitchen that was littered with dirty dishes. Remnants of Deku and goddamn Kiris-.
Bakugou choked on his tongue and forced himself up the stairs to his room. Nobody stopped him on the way.
He had been lagging behind on his training. He’d been getting distracted.
There was no point sitting with those extras for lunch. He didn’t want to see their fucking pity.
He could always just walk back to the dorms but he was pretty sure that goddamn bird went back there for lunch with that multi armed freak.
Which left Bakugou either sitting alone in the classroom (and having Aizawa stare at him unimpressed), or find somewhere else to go.
Half of him was disgusted with the shame of being kicked out of the cafeteria. Him.
But the shame of being caught sitting alone was even worse. He could run, but he knew that coming back sweaty and flushed before afternoon training would be worse. Not to mention it would be dangerous for his writing utensils.
Where was a place that nobody would be at for the hour break they had for lunch. Somewhere he could relax, maybe get some work done before he was shoved back into the classroom with more thick skull dimwits.
It took him two days and a shower to realize suddenly, that the campus had a pool attached to the gym.
He brought lunches sometimes, he stopped cooking because apparently Kirishima took it up as his most recent hobby.
Bakugou liked cooking, but since the two started going out a couple weeks ago he’d been nearly evicted from the kitchen by the sheer amounts of disgusting mushy shit that occurred in the kitchen.
(He felt like vomiting at the nausea in his stomach, at the sight of Kirishima bright eyed and laughing with someone who wasn’t him.)
After a while, the idea of swimming and doing laps was more appealing than trying to stomach an apple when already he felt on the edge of hurling. Everything around him left him shaky, the lights too bright the sounds too loud.
The water was cold and the repetitiveness of it soothed him. He was never one to like swimming, sometimes it was too close to suffocation and sometimes it felt like tar going down my throat no fuck no- but he kept kicking and his sweat was diluted and it was the safest thing he could do.
If he was a bit more exhausted for training, nobody noticed past the steady increase to his explosive blasts.
“Hey man!” Kirishima laughed, throwing one arm over Bakugou’s shoulder. “Bakubro! We haven’t hung out in forever! Man I’ve got so much to tell you-.”
“If it’s about fucking Deku,” Bakugou snarled, forcibly knocking the arm off his side, “then fuck off.”
Kirishima’s jaw dropped, and Bakugou stormed off.
The scabs were starting to scar against his heels.
He kept, fucking, running.
Sometimes students were allowed to head home for the weekend. It wasn’t anything unusual, but most of the time Bakugou stayed on campus mostly to help Shitty Hair drag his grades back up.
Apparently his grades were doing fine, considering he wasn’t crying when the test scores came back.
Bakugou didn’t have anything else to do. He had no reason to stay on campus, no reason to hide away in his room when his homework was already done. He’d wanted to stop by a few stores, get a new pair of damn sweatpants and new shoes because he had trashed his old running shoes. More socks too. And bandages.
He left campus after submitting his offical request and gaining approval from Sensei, giving a short nod of his chin on his way out the door.
“Wait a second.” Aizawa dolled, causing Bakugou to tense as the rest of the class filtered out. Kirishima looked at him, but he didn’t look back. He refused to look over.
The room was empty, and Aizawa sighed.
“I hate doing this,” Aizawa muttered under his breath, “are you...erm...doing...okay.”
Bakugou stared and Aizawa rolled his eyes. “Your improvements are noticeable but you haven’t been as...socially active, or something. I heard from Mic. that you’ve been ignoring your peers.”
Bakugou’s jaw locked. “I have priorities.”
Aizawa stared at him skeptically. “...Right. Okay fine. Get out.”
Bakugou huffed and shouldered his backpack, ignoring the dorms in favour of the long trek out of the UA gates.
He could take the train but the idea of cheap transportation was a cop out. Walking was walking, the main shopping district wasn’t that far away anyways. He didn’t have a hero license so he didn’t need to stop or bother himself with the lowlife shits. He was going to the mall to buy some new goddamn shoes, and that was it.
( ‘That was it’ he told himself, staring numbly at the unconscious shoplifter he spotted lifting from a jewelry store. He wasn’t supposed to use his quirk or get involved, so he left the fucking scum like the shit he was, bent in half and shoved halfway down a trash can.)
He gave up almost instantly on buying the new shoes, nervously flitting about all the way home.
After a mutual exchange of screaming at the old hag of his mother, he slammed and locked his door. Pulling off his bag and opening it up to stare numbly at the bag of green he confiscated off the street rat.
Well...Kaminari always had been talking about this shit, and Kirishima used to beg him to somehow find some. Half out of spite half out of moral righteousness he lifted it off the trash he took it from, but it was the ache in his body and ache in his head that made him look at it now.
Well...he didn’t really know anything about weed or any of that shit, but the label and the bag looked really fucking official. The kanji and everything looked like it came from a full goddamn operation.
“What the fuck is this shit?” Bakugou muttered to himself, trying to straighten the label with critical eyes. “White widow? What kind of shit name is that?”
‘The name of illegal weed, you shit.’ He thought viciously. His stomach twisted, nausea coated his tongue. His bones and muscles hurt and he couldn’t remember the last time he actually slept.
“What the fuck.” He huffed, squinting at the bag with something very, very curious. “Why the fuck not.”
The next day he bought two pairs of running shoes, electing to throw out the worn through pair soaked in tar and blood. The new ones were black, and his socks were equally dark to hide the thick cotton bandages. He got compression socks and sleeves for the ache in his bones. He got a thicker sweatshirt for the chill that he never noticed before.
More tea bags he could use in his dorm. Another blanket since his last reeked of sugar and explosives. He stopped at a hookah store, glaring with furious eyes and sharp teeth at the tired store attendant.
The cashier stared at him, then at the nondescript gunmetal grey pipe he grabbed after a half second of browsing.
“Are you too young to be buying this?” the cashier frowned.
Bakugou’s eyes sharpened. “Isn’t it a little bit fucking illegal to card someone without a license, eh?”
The employee huffed and rolled their eyes, scanning it. Bakugou paid with cash and shoved the plain purple bag deep in his purchases. He was never happier his parents were actual successful shitheads to not have to worry over this crap like Round Cheeks.
His mother was pretty pissed over the brands of his shoes (fuck that) but she didn’t find it weird he got two.
They were nice enough to drive him back to campus Sunday, letting him haul all his shit back to the dorms with only a few curses screamed at staring General Education students. It wasn’t that odd to see people dragging in shit to their dorms anyways, so Bakugou was just one of the crowd.
Bakugou kicked the door, hauling the duffle bag filled with his new things in one hand as he trudged towards the stairs.
“Oh hey!” Mina waved from the couches, blinking in surprise. “Oh! Did you uh...leave for the weekend?”
“Wait really?” Kirishima said, popping up from the other side of the couches. “What! Bro! You said I could come with next time you went home!”
Bakugou tasted ash on his tongue, and something ugly behind his eyes. “Well it’s not like any of you fuckers noticed I wasn’t fucking here.”
“Not our fault.” Mina stuck her tongue out, “not like we like spending time with you blasty!”
“Fuck you.” Bakugou spat, then something behind his words became more genuine. “ Fuck you.”
It was subtle, but enough Mina seemed to realize he meant it. Kirishima’s smile started to falter, and Mina looked surprised and speechless.
Bakugou stomped up the steps, shouldering past Sero who managed a little eep! As he was nearly clothesline-d.
“Uh oh.” Round Face said with wide eyes, “ someone’s grumpy.”
Bakugou shoved past, made it to his room, and collapsed on his bed.
(He wished he never came back at all.)
( How long, he wondered, could I sleep before someone finally noticed I was gone? )
He inhaled and choked on ash and dust, breathing smoke and sparking along his skin.
He slept better that night than he had in months.
Where exercise is a test in flexing.
There was something reassuring in the high that came with.
Bakugou would have never considered using illegal substances, the idea of smoking seemed stupid to him but now it was practically a godsend. He didn’t know everything about weed, but what he did know was that inhaling at first left him hacking up a lung, and then every time after it was bliss.
It gave him pressure in his head, ever so slight like a hat on too tightly. A slight twirl of dizziness, and then, he didn’t care anymore.
He found himself grinning at thins he wouldn’t have found amusing before. He found the small jokes or cute little comments on late night television he streamed on his laptop something funny. His fingertips felt slightly tingly, he was a bit hungry and alert and focused and for a few hours he couldn’t fathom dying.
It helped his arms which throbbed. He didn’t feel the agony in his feet or the blooming bruises across his chest. His eyes felt sticky and dry, his mouth a bit chalky and he knew he reeked of the foul sweet smoke that weed gave, but he was happy.
(He knew it was so stupid, but it had been so long since he actually felt happy he was starving to feel it again.)
So Bakugou Katsuki very casually, became a recreational drug user.
Deku and Kirishima were having their one month anniversary, and Bakugou was laying in bed completely relaxed listening to a podcast. All homework was finished, his grades were improving now that he had a way to clear his fuzzy head every once in a while, and both his ankles looked like they had gone through a meat grinder.
He hadn’t gone for a run, instead he headed out to the forest that backed the 1-A dorm building and smoked in the leisure of a fallen tree. He burned some wet leaves, allowing the pungent smell of nitroglycerin and dead leaf matter to shroud him like a blanket. Even Kaminari’s nose wouldn’t be able to pick up the reak that covered his skin. His naturally red iris’ echoed the pink sheen, disguising it by being obvious.
His hands twitches slightly, calm and relaxed. His stomach gurgled with the early pangs of hunger, but he had gotten used to always being a bit hungry. It was pathetically easy to kick that useless reflex down until it submitted. He barely even noticed it now, and if it ever really started to bother him he’d chug water or tea until his stomach was disgustingly bloated.
He was relaxed, more than he ever remembered being. Everything was soft, he was happy.
“Fuuuck.” He groaned out quietly, his voice sounding weirdly distorted and odd in his ears. It was pretty interesting, how his left ear was hearing it like it was underwater but the right seemed just fine.
The ceiling swum above him- he reached up lazily as if he could pluck the tiles with his open palm.
His classmates had done internships when he was being bogged down with being a completely useless piece of shit. He was performing better now but he had wasted so much time. He could have gotten his license first time if he didn’t waste his time so much before. He could have actually learned something with Best Jeanist if he hadn’t been wasting his fucking time.
God, he was such a fucking failure wasn’t he?
“Yep.” He spoke out loud, still interested in how his left ear felt so weirdly clogged. “I’m completely useless.”
It sounded so strange, even as he rubbed it with one of his twitching hands. “I’m completely a garbage piece of shit.”
He almost laughed, unable to repress the small snort at how hysterically stupid he sounded. God, he should get shitfaced more often.
“Hey! Bakugou!” Kaminari waved him over after class, slamming both hands on his desk. Bakugou didn’t put his feet down, he cracked his eyes open ever so slightly.
“What the fuck,” Bakugou snarled viciously, “do you want?”
Kaminari’s grin didn’t waver in the slightest. “Mina heard that we’re going to be having group projects soon! We were thinking-.”
“ Fuck no.” Bakugou hissed out, recoiling back in his chair like the close proximity wounded him. “Fuck you and that goddamn pink faced freak. Get the fuck out of my face and leave me the fuck alone!”
Kaminari pouted, but there was a glimmer of hurt behind his eyes.
Good, Bakugou thought savagely to himself. Eyes flickered towards the front as Aizawa commanded the room, a stack of papers in his arms.
“Alright, sit down.” Aizawa snapped, eyes flickering without interest between Bakugou and Kaminari’s dejected form. “We’ve got evaluations. Fill them out honestly. We’ll discuss this all after but these forms are for your own personal use.”
He passed the sheets around, each blank except for the printed name of each student in the class. They were going to be evaluating each other, marking things that were both positives and negatives.
Bakugou’s skin itched, insects crawling over his skin. He closed his eyes and inhaled shakily. He felt like everyone was watching him, dozens of eyes and grins laughing and chain him up he’s a goddamn villain! Muzzle him!
Bakugou picked up his pencil, eyes looking at the first name he had to evaluate. That creation chick. He could do this.
He got a stack of papers, each written in different handwriting that marked all his flaws.
He couldn’t do this.
General Consensus: relies too heavily on quirk use over physical combat abilities.
Bakugou has no ability to cooperate with partners or work in a team.
His thighs had healed over, mottled and puckered. Patches from where in his frustration he blasted the skin right off. It was disgusting and pinkish with patched of red around where the meat of his quad bulged visibly. It was good he was gaining muscle so quickly, it was good, it meant that he was being better.
(He knew he needed to get more, he knew he needed to push himself more .)
He couldn’t keep blasting them, not when he had the muscle he needed and he could afford to have large surface wounds when he practiced constantly. There was no amount of baggy pants that could hide the need for skin graphs.
What he could do was...well.
He still wasn’t getting above 95% on every assignment.
And he did own a penknife.
“Alright, you all know you’re having a group assignment.” Aizawa sighed in class, looking exhausted as he started fishing for chalk. “As you all have suspected, you get to choose the group. This of course is not the case, because a few of you were slacking about it.”
Nobody looked, but Mina and Kaminari started to very slowly sink down in their seats.
“I am assigning partners based on physical state, and the evaluations.” Aizawa continued with a sharp eye, “You are required to keep an informational report on your partner.”
Midoriya perked up, and Sero looked more glum at the thought of more work.
“This is how this is going to work.” Aizawa looked firm as he scanned his eyes over each of his students. “You are going to follow your partner’s exercise and training regime for three consecutive days, then alternate regimes. You are to note all progress and what your partner does outside of official training sessions. This is to both increase your own development, and to emphasize what it takes to get through this school.”
Aizawa’s eyes were glowing as everyone shrunk.
Mentally, everyone was sweating over the chance of being paired up with Iida…
“Here’s your partners.” Aizawa’s eyes flickered across the room sharply. “Aoyama. You’re partnered with Koda. Ashido, you’re partnered with Asui. Iida, you’re partnered with Todoroki. Uraraka you’re with Kirishima. Sato you’re with Yaoyorozu. Shoji you’re partnered with Midoriya. Sero you’re partnered with Hagakure. Tokoyami you’re partnered with Jiro. Kaminari you’re partnered with Mineta. Bakugou you’re partnered with Ojiro.”
Ojiro broke out in a sweat as Hagakure spun on her seat to pat his shoulder reassuringly.
“It’s okay!” She assured him quietly, “you’ll be fine!”
“No, I really won’t be.” Ojiro sighed already accepting his fate.
“Dude!” Kaminari wheezed out, looking completely relieved. “Mineta has no exercise! I’m saved!”
Ashido didn’t look upset, instead she was waving across the room excitedly at Asui who was awkwardly waving back.
“I’m happy I didn’t get paired up with Mr. Speedster over there.” Jiro used her thumb to beckon at Iida, who was exchanging firm professional greetings with the equally blank Todoroki.
Ojiro glanced over towards his partner, dreading for his life.
Bakugou Katsuki was reclined in his chair, perfectly balanced as he glanced out the window bored. Good god, the neck muscles on that guy were so large Ojiro wasn’t sure if he could survive one day of exercise.
“Toru,” Ojiro gulped, “I’m going to die.”
The best thing was, that since half the class was following a pre-existing routine, they didn’t actually have to change their schedule.
Which meant, Ojiro woke up fearing for his life when his door was being pounded on far too early in the morning.
“What?” He muttered, stumbling up and out of bed to open the door tiredly.
Bakugou was standing there, fuming with an aura of hate and frustration. His glare itself could cut diamonds.
“Get dressed.” Bakugou spat out, eyeing Ojiro’s sweatpants with a scowl. “We’re going running. Now.”
Ojiro looked at the clock in the hallway, “class starts in two hours?”
Bakugou crossed his arms and clicked his tongue, “You want to do this shitty as hell assignment or not, eh? Get your shoes on you lizard shit lets go.”
Ojiro did, throwing on a shirt and shoes and trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes. The sun was just starting to rise, he doubted anyone was even awake in the building yet.
“Lets go!” Bakugou shrieked back at him furiously, “I’m not holding back for your weak ass!”
God, he’s even worse in the morning. Ojiro thought to himself exhausted already. “How far are we going?”
Bakugou huffed and started to stretch one leg, surprisingly flexible. “Past the administration buildings to the western gate and around the supermarket then back along that shitty ass Koi pond.”
Ojiro stared. “That’s….that’s really far.”
Bakugou scowled. “Tch. It’s only ten kilometers. It’s morning so shut your trap and lets get going.”
Ten kilometers with class starting in two hours. It wasn’t that bad.
(Ojiro didn’t realize that they were running it in 40 minutes.)
“Toru,” Ojiro winced, sinking into his chair with aching legs, “Bakugou is a monster.”
Although he couldn’t see her, he could tell she was worried. “Is he that mean? He always seems so stressed or something.”
“No it’s just…” Ojiro trailed off with a wince, “He...he’s very passionate.”
“Oi! Where the hell you think you're going?” Bakugou shrieked, grabbing Ojiro by his tail to forcibly drag him down the hallway.
“To lunch!” Ojiro yelped back, scrambling on the seamless tile.
“No the hell you aren’t!” Bakugou was spitting fire, looking like Ojiro offended him on far more than a physical level.
“What the fuck.” Ojiro thought to himself, barely able to keep his breathing under control.
He needed many breaks. He wasn’t that experienced with swimming, it made him feel a bit uncomfortable to have a water logged soggy tail.
Bakugou though, was plowing through the goddamn water without pausing once.
“What are you doing?” Bakugou spat back, heaving with exertion. The bodysuit was well worn, fading from friction rubs along his under arms. He looked very, very used to swimming during lunch break.
‘Oh my God’ Ojiro realized in a calm sense of horror. ‘This guy is on a whole new level.’
“Get back to fucking laps!” Bakugou hissed, prickling in fury. If it wasn’t for the hand his hands were underwater, there would be blasts detonating. “You better have been fucking counting!”
“How much do you normally swim?” Ojiro dreaded to hear the answer but some part of him was very curious.
Bakugou’s nose scrunched as he scowled. “1500 meters, give or take a hundred. Get moving we have half a fucking hour you dimwit.”
1500 meters. That was a...wasn’t that a mile? In the American system?
Oh my god. Ojiro thought with a niggling sense of suspicion. The amount of weights Bakugou was forcing himself to lift was….was on Shoji’s level really. The muscles in his arms were ridiculously large, his deltoids looked like thick rope instead of firm muscle.
Ojiro’s stomach growled from missing lunch, already he felt weak and exhausted.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Bakugou pounced on him the moment he tried to sneak back to his dorm room to recover and down some pain killers. “We’re running apeshit. Two and a half hours now.”
Ojiro stared and felt sick. “But...But we already ran today. This morning.”
Bakugou looked at him like he was daft. “Yeah? Now we run again. For god’s sake, do I have to do everything around here? I run for two and a half hours now, around the full campus, then I do reps before I call it quit.”
“Reps?” Ojiro asked numbly.
“Tch.” Bakugou huffed, “Pullups and pushups and shit. Sixty pushups, thirty pullups. If you don’t finish, you don’t fucking sleep.”
‘Okay,’ Ojiro thought very calmly and very horrified. ‘This isn’t healthy.’
Ojiro stared in shock as Bakugou kept running, Ojiro having dropped out only a few kilometers into Bakugou’s fucking death sprint. For god’s sake, the explosion expert could likely finish a marathon in his state.
He made it back to the dorms, ignoring Ojiro (or forgetting all about him), and casually keeled over to vomit foaming stomach acid into the shrubbery. Over and over until it was dry heaving and casual trembling sweat.
“Whoa, you need to sit down.” Ojiro rushed over, worriedly fretting. “We can call Recovery Girl-.”
“Get your fucking hands off me.” Bakugou snapped back, spitting off to the side where he had been retching previously. He looked composed, like this was something casual. “We’re not fucking done yet you useless extra.”
Sixty pushups, and thirty pullups.
When Bakugou had just run himself into puking.
And this was normal for him.
“Hey, Toru?” Ojiro spoke into his phone shakily, “Bakugou is...really not okay.”
Bakugou looked near suffering when he was forced to oblige Ojiro’s normal exercise habit. Focusing less on speed and overall health, more on dexterity and technique.
Bakugou was the class powerhouse. More than once, Ojiro had gotten a few looks of pity for this assignment. Nobody could imagine that Ojiro was having a good time- especially when his legs and body hurt so much the next day he was visibly shaking.
Now that he was recovered a bit, he had the time and rare opportunity to look at Bakugou and truly evaluate where he stood.
Bakugou was ripped raw muscle. He drank an insane amount of water and electrolytes, likely to replenish the amount he sweated. He had fancy specialized gloves to reduce accidental explosions while he lifted weights which was rather considerate of him.
Sometimes though, when he stood up to quickly he’d sway ever so slightly. Eyes distant and glassy before he snapped to attention and snapped even crueler insults.
Ojiro couldn’t even comprehend how powerful and strong Bakugou was, even while lifting weights with him. He was built like a tank, and everything was made from scratch. Ojiro had asked Midoriya who confessed that Bakugou’s genetics actually ran on the sleeker side. Bakugou worked harder than anyone; he wouldn’t accept Ojiro’s kickboxing and plenty of breaks when the boy did competitive swimming at lunch break.
It felt a bit like...betraying his trust, to spread rumors about his insane scheduling.
Aizawa though, he was their teacher and had created the assignment.
Ojiro didn’t feel too horrible when he approached the staff room, slipping inside and making instant movement towards where Aizawa was crashed out on the staff couch there. Ojiro spotted Midnight looking at him curiously, she waved a small gesture and he smiled politely.
“Sensei?” Ojiro said, waiting calmly as Aizawa jerked awake with a groan. The bags under his eyes were vicious.
“I have concerns over the assignment,” Ojiro said, pulling out the careful spreadsheet he had made with Toru’s help once he shared his concerns. “It’s about Bakugou Katsuki’s unhealthy degree of training.”
Aizawa looked a bit prickly as he accepted the sheet, blinking quickly to clear up his vision. He stilled, very quickly sitting properly the moment he began to actually read the spreadsheet.
Ojiro had spent hours tracking both Bakugou’s scheduled exercise, and involving Toru to spy on Bakugou to determine his level of activity once using Ojiro’s own schedule. The evidence was damning.
“You’re certain on this?” Aizawa asked, eyes flickering up with a completely serious expression. “These are the rough times?”
“Exact times, I ah, used a stopwatch to make sure.” Ojiro confessed, now feeling a bit uncomfortable. “He didn’t notice I don’t think-.”
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention.” Aizawa said calmly and with a chilly layer to it. “That’s all.”
Ojiro couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t enough.
“Bakugou, stay after class.” Aizawa said at the end of the lesson. Bakugou squinted, scowling. He assumed it would be good news- maybe they’d realized how far ahead he was in remedial lessons and would be permitted to take his exam early?
He didn’t want to stay behind anymore. He already was so far back- especially when he had heard that Deku had-...
No. He couldn’t afford to slow down and think about that. Not now, not-.
“Yeah?” He asked, trying not to let his discomfort show. “What is it?”
Aizawa stared at him with dark eyes. Bloodshot, red rimmed. He frowned, looking at something on his desk before he crossed his arms slowly. “I’m concerned about how you’re handling the stress of UA. You’ve gone through multiple traumatizing things, more than anyone your age should have. If the stress continues to accumulate-.”
“ Eh?” Bakugou hissed out, red raw fury washing through his skin. “Have my grades dropped or some shit?”
Aizawa didn’t look pleased. “Several classmates have confirmed that you’ve been sleeping in excess-.”
“I’ve been going to bed early so I can get shit done.” Bakugou defended, ignoring the way his throat tightened. Why was he not believing him? He was fine- this was- was bullshit.
“I’m ordering you to see the UA medical facilities for a complete checkup.” Aizawa continued sharply. “Immediately.”
Bakugou was smart. They would never find anything on him. His shorts went far down, past the red meat of his hips where explosions cooked him for his failures. He chugged water until weight formed and masked the unbalanced mass of his muscles. His reflexes weren’t slow from stress when electrolytes left him tingly and electric at the smallest touch.
They would never find anything fucking wrong with him, because there wasn’t anything.
He lost time, so he ran well past dusk. Leaping off his balcony railing, using a tree to slow his descent before he began his long laps in the dark, running along the treeline to stay out of sight of the security cameras. It was a normal boring Thursday, nothing special, nothing specific.
He ran, and his heaving breaths instantly recognized the thick musty reek drifting out of the forest. Lost in the darkness, the rich smell Bakugou knew in his lungs.
“Oi!” Bakugou stormed through the trees, ignoring brambles and twigs catching on his shorts. It was late, normally nobody would have caught whoever it was.
And it was a...fairly large group. Older students, third years. Some looked familiar in different ways, some looked surprised and amused by the sight of Bakugou tearing into their secret little clearing. Well established with logs made into benches, coolers with sake and other alcohol smuggled into the UA campus. Outside the third year dorms that were, surprisingly, fairly close. The trees and starlight basked in the rich smell of dank weed.
“Hi there!” Someone cooed, a heavily intoxicated upper student that found Bakugou’s presence endearing, “want to stay a while?”
Why not? Bakugou thought. Free weed was always better than having to sneak away on his own. Maybe he’d be able to sleep tonight.
It was a different kind of drug, bubbling under his skin and making his body pop with new foreign explosions.
He couldn’t help it, the slight drool and open easy grinning. The sleepy weary feeling fading under the riptide of some other strange sensation.
It was unlike anything he knew, and he knew quite a bit. He never burned with someone else, but burning alone was impossible now surrounded by warmth and other laughing free bodies.
He didn’t know how to feel about it, and then he grabbed someone's arm and the feeling of their skin was so new and good and -
And Bakugou remembered sharp vicious teeth biting forcefully into his neck, that thick delightful haze and his own curiosity that the upper years' dorm building was so much more open and lavish. He remembered slumping into a door, snickering and fumbling uncoordinated before biting sharp and moving sharper.
Bakugou slept loose limbed and relaxed beyond thought. The snoring body next to him did also.
When Bakugou woke up, well past dawn in the bedroom of an anxious trembling third year, he almost laughed. Amazing, how weed calmed his temper and smoothed over his anxiety.
Tamaki, Bakugou learned his name, was nice enough to at least offer him a shirt (a much larger shirt that Bakugou pulled on hastily). Tamaki was blushing so hard his face was blood red when he noticed the marks and bites all across Bakugou’s back and neck.
It was fine, he wouldn’t see the guy again- although he did look familiar somehow. Bakugou ignored it, still feeling loose and sore in a new way.
He made his way back to the dorms, slipping inside with an ever so slight swagger to his steps.
Ashido looked up from her cereal, sharp eyes glancing over the clearly too large shirt , Bakugou’s slight swagger and mused hair, and promptly screamed “Oh my god!”
More shrieking, until Bakugou managed a sharp tooth sneer and hissed out, “not so fucking loud!”
“Bakubro-.” Kirishima cheered happily, “‘I haven’t seen you in da-ys….” his cheer faded, eyes raking over Bakugou in blatant shock. “Bro, is that a hickey?”
His good mood already fading, Bakugou bristled in a new way. At least Deku wasn’t there.
“That totally is!” Mina squealed in delight. “Who is she! Or he! Oh my god you didn’t come back last night-.”
Bakugou gave a single low grunt, shoving his way to where the tea was sitting out. His mouth tasted like something rotting. “Some Tamaki-guy. Sharp teeth on that fucker-.”
Kirishima dropped his breakfast. The bowl broke over ceramic, his skin blanching and he looked like a mixture between enraged and horrified. “You….you s-slept with Tamaki-senpai?”
‘Oh, that bothers him,’ Bakugou realized with a cruel sense of delight. Something malicious and rude twisting in his gut. Good, good. Shitty Hair deserved it-.
“Yeah,” Bakugou said coolly, basking in how horrified Kirishima’s fucking face looked. “He was a decent fuck.”
Mina quieted, and Kirishima walked out of the kitchen hastily.
Tea had never tasted so good.