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He'd been caught off guard. He'd gotten sloppy; allowed himself to get too comfortable, too soft, so who's f***ing fault could all of this possibly be other than his own?

Bakugou didn't even understand why he was so particularly hung up over it. He should have known, honestly, and should have been prepared. He'd had it coming for years now and he knew that karma was going to catch up to him eventually. He just hadn't been anticipating it to come around quite like this.

It was one thing that his classmates no longer wanted anything to do with him, he could respect that, but some of them could at least have the decency to just leave him alone and not glare holes into the back of his head all d*** day or try to rile him up for whatever stupid reason they have to be bothering him anymore, Half n' Half.

And it all centered around Deku. Of course it did. And of course everyone, including his own friend group, would effectively ostracize him in their scramble to come to the s***nerd's defense. Now, if it had been over an average petty squabble, he'd be on a warpath over it, because f*** them and f*** him for trying.

But this? This, he could understand to some degree, because even though it was in the past, it still did not paint the most flattering picture.

It had only been another episode between him and Deku. The class was used to them butting heads at this point, and thanks to familiarity, very few of them questioned why Deku would sometimes flinch when he got too close to his face or guard when he raised his fist as if it were programmed into the nerd's brain. There was a silent agreement between the two of them to not talk about it. At least, not until they were ready.

The only person who really knew anything was Kirishima, when he'd have a particularly bad night and would vent to the red-haired idiot and sometimes mention a tidbit or so of his and Deku's rocky history. Even then, however, he'd never revealed the worst of it.

And then come Thursday morning and he gets an earful from his mother out of left field because apparently she's having a rough week and wanted to rant at him to blow off stream and now everything's somehow his fault. They don't even hate each other. They just. Don't. Click.

But what would normally be a petty argument over nothing that would eventually calm down into snide remarks and a rough, well hidden apology from dear old mom somehow devolved into something a bit more sinister.

F***ing learn some d*** respect, you brat!” she hollered through the speaker, breathing harshly. “Don't talk to your mother like that!

“F*** you!”

F*** you!”

Honey, please...” could be heard in the background, his father's tone both nervous and dangerous. Neither paid him much attention.

“I F***ING HATE YOU!!!” he screamed out enough to shake the dorms, fully giving in to his seething rage. “I hate you so f***ing much!! Just go die in a gutter somewhere and leave me alone, d***it!!

Make it easier for both of us and go throw yourself into traffic!

“Choke on a d*** and croak, hag! I'll be there to dance on your ashes!”

THAT'S ENOU-

His father's yell was cut short as Bakugou ended the call and hurled his phone at the wall, snapping it in two and leaving a small crater in its wake. At the time, he couldn't care less. A broken desk chair and singed bookcase later, he'd be tearing through the halls with enough ferocity to cause Todoroki to back the f*** off.

Even Kirishima's efforts to calm him down were in vain, he was so p***ed, and Bakugou just didn't know what to do with himself. The anger was just building and building with no outlet, and he knew that sooner or later he was gonna explode, and someone was gonna get hurt, and it was gonna be on him. And so, in his blind rage, he turned to an old tactic that he hadn't used in a very long time.

Take it out on Deku.

Yelling, shoving and tripping, insults, and all the works. It was slightly startling to everyone just how hostile he'd suddenly become, and even the “squad” was keeping their distance. Deku, however, instead of doing the same and trying to stay away, was starting to pester him back, asking too many questions and giving him very questioning looks. It was different from the Deku that any of them knew. The one who kept his mouth shut and dealt with it in nervous uneasiness. It was certainly a far cry from the Deku that Bakugou knew back in middle school.

And then it was the end of the last class of the day when Bakugou shoved him out of his way and Deku immediately shoved him back, right into the wall.

The room went dead silent, Bakugou himself practically seeing red as Deku's eyes bore right into him. “Kacchan, what is your problem?! I thought we were past this!”

“None of your d*** business, s***ty Deku, now get the f*** outta my way!”

No!” Deku yelled, his fists clenched. “If you want to talk somewhere else, we can, but I am not letting it go! We've come so far! Or at least, I thought we did!”

He'd had screaming matches with many people in his life. His parents, his teachers, his classmates, random pr***s he'd run into on the street, but as far as he can remember, he'd never had one with Deku, because the stupid nerd would just stand there and take it. He always just took it. So, even though he'd never admit it out loud, it was slightly startling to hear the full volume that Deku's voice was capable of. It seemed that some of the others agreed, Earlobes and Tentacles in particular fleeing in order to protect their sensitive hearing.

Bakugou faintly remembered Four Eyes calling to get a teacher to break them up, more than one pair of footsteps scurrying off in response. They were probably terrified that two of the strongest students in their class were about to straight up throw down right in the middle of the classroom. At least at this point, the only damage done was both of their burnt and broken desks and a few eardrums.

Only a minute later and he didn't even know what they were saying anymore. He was just screaming insults for the sake of screaming insults and Deku was probably venting about a lifetime's worth of trauma directly at him. At this point, however, he didn't care. He could handle anything that Deku could dish out.

Says the guy who told me to kill myself!!

Except for that.

Bakugou flinched as if he'd been physically struck, rightfully not ready for the sudden revelation dropped in front of a good majority of their class. Deku, on the other hand, was a deer in the headlights, realizing exactly what he'd just said out loud only a millisecond too late and going sickeningly pale, throwing his hands over his mouth and looking up at his childhood friend with wide eyes filled with fear and regret.

Bakugou was painfully aware of how silent the room had suddenly become. He couldn't bring himself to look, even as Deku began to scan the sea of faces with tears in his eyes. Bakugou couldn't quite place the foreign emotions swirling in his stomach, but it did nothing to quell his fury.

“You...” He growled menacingly, with more venom than even he'd intended. Deku looked ready to throw up.

Something hurt. He didn't know what it was, but it hurt. He didn't like it.

F*** you.” he spat, pointedly grabbing his backpack and shoving Uniform's desk over as he made a hasty exit, only barely catching glimpses of his classmates' dumbstruck faces.

He could hear Deku practically tripping over himself to follow after him. “Kacchan, wait! I didn't-”

F*** YOU!!!” he screamed, blinded and drunk with rage as he slammed the door behind him with enough force to create an audible crack.

He tried to ignore the feeling of finality that followed.


 

To be completely honest, he had absolutely no clue how he and Deku hadn't been expelled yet, considering how they'd been at each others' throats recently. Of course, they hadn't talked at all since Thursday, but his point still stands.

No, scratch that. No one has really talked to him since Thursday.

Not since he found them all in a cluster in the common room that night, trying and failing to comfort the distraught nerd after forcing him to cough up far too many details about their middle school experience for either of their liking. The idiot was a sobbing mess, less likely from digging up old memories that he'd rather forget and probably more so from revealing such delicate information when neither of them were fully braced for the repercussions.

Not that any of those extras would ever realize that. No, when they all turned their gazes on him, they weren't looking at a fellow classmate in that moment. They didn't see a friend.

He knew what they saw, but he refused to acknowledge it.

Some he could convince himself that he didn't give two s***s about, but others stood out, such as Four Eyes's sheer disappointment and Icy Hot's literal shaking, attempting to stare a hole right through his forehead. Round Face looked ready to lunge over the couch and strangle him on the spot and Earlobes was wearing one of the ugliest sneers he'd ever seen. Any other context and he'd legitimately be impressed.

Something still hurt. He chose to ignore it.

He paused when he met Sparky's eyes. Kaminari looked as ready to throw hands as Uraraka did, and he wasn't sure how he felt about that, but something twisted in his stomach nonetheless.

Since when did he care what these extras thought of him, huh?

Sero wouldn't even look at him. He didn't know if he was suppose to be offended or not, but the f***er wouldn't even look at him, brows furrowed as he pointedly glared off to the side. He felt rage churning inside of him, his blood boiling in his veins, and he latched onto that feeling in its familiarity. His one constant.

But then his eyes locked with Ashido and Kirishima and everything became static.

Ashido looked betrayed, as if she was staring at an abomination.

(She despises bullying more than anything else.)

Kirishima looked exhausted, as if he was finally tired of his bulls***.

(How has he even put up with you for so long?)

He retreated like a f***ing coward.


 

The atmosphere of the city around them just seemed too d*** cheerful. It was crowded that day, the streets bustling with friends and families alike laughing like a bunch of screeching hyenas and blindly admiring all of the colors and sights assaulting their vision. Hero merch shops were everywhere, along with new restaurants, arcades, and other things of the sort. A lot of this area was relatively new to City A, so the noise was expected. He just wished that he hadn't been dragged into all of this. This was not how he wanted to spend his weekend.

F***ing h***, Kirishima.

The redhead was the literal next best thing that ever happened to planet Earth second only to All Might's hero debut and Bakugou could no longer be convinced otherwise. There was no other explanation, considering that out of everyone in his dumba** class, Kirishima was the only one who actually went out of his way to try and get his side of the story.

Not that it sounded any better. Bakugou was not the type of person to sugarcoat things.

“But you're not like that anymore.” Kirishima had reasoned as if it were obvious. Bakugou was not proud to admit that he'd gotten a bit emotional over it, but it was Kirishima, so it was fine.

He was his best friend. There. He said it.

He almost felt indebted, which drove him up the wall since he hated owing anyone anything, but the guy had chosen his side, even when he knew he was in the wrong, so the least he could do was come along when the idiot had invited him to tag along for their little excursion. As much as he didn't want to spend anymore time with his classmates and their stupid grudges(or Deku in general) than necessary, he felt like he owed it to Kirishima to stick with the guy as he'd done for him.

Of course, when they'd arrived at their destination, loud and irritatingly colorful and really f***ing crowded, he didn't expect for Aizawa to divide them into small assigned groups for a certain amount of time.

And he was convinced that Aizawa was out to get him too, because he was paired with Deku and Raccoon Eyes.

F***.

Awkwardly shuffling around the eighth hero merch store that they'd come across and Deku had begged to explore, Bakugou eventually found himself looking down from the indoor balcony of the two story merch store at the random extras browsing below. Up here, where there were less people, the mindless chatter from afar was almost relaxing, like background noise you'd fall asleep to. For a moment, he was alone with his thoughts.

Granted, they weren't the most reassuring, but still.

“Kacchan!” Deku chirped from somewhere to his left, a permanent smile plastered on his face trying to outshine the f***ing sun itself. Next to him, Ashido looked weirdly uncomfortable, refusing to look him in the eye.

He would never admit it out loud, but her reaction to everything might have hurt the most. He'd known her stance on bullying. She'd proclaimed it proudly on more than one occasion and had practiced her words religiously. Any time that the idiot parade would drag him off to go out on the town to hang out, and they came across any scene that even remotely resembled bullying, she would intervene, whether it was as small as aggressive name calling or a straight up beat down. It didn't matter.

He didn't care what they thought of him. He didn't.

He'd been worried about how she'd react.

“They have so much cool All Might stuff in the back!” Deku exclaimed, either not noticing or ignoring the tension in the air. Most likely the latter. “Come check it out!”

Bakugou glared at him, his scowl turning into a snarl. “F*** off, Deku. I'm not it the mood.”

Deku had been about to say something else when Ashido stomped her foot onto the ground with a slam. “The least you could do is say 'no thank you'.”

From the look on Deku's face, he was now acknowledging the aforementioned tension, looking at the acid quirk user in concern. Bakugou pushed himself off of the railing, crossing his arms and looking the girl straight in her stupid black eyes.

“Still gets the point across, doesn't it? Get off my back.” he says coolly, doing everything in his power to keep his temper under control. Lashing out now would lead to way too many problems that he neither the time nor patience for.

Ashido wasn't impressed. “The point you get across is that you're being a rude, selfish jerk!”

Deku cringed. Bakugou scoffed. “That all you got, horns?”

The pinkette's face turned a reddish color and she clenched her fists in anger. With a hard sigh, he shoved passed her. He could still feel his own temper rising, but he swallowed it down. This was a battle that he'd lost so many times in the past and if there was one thing he still hated more than anything else, it was losing.

“Stop being such a bully!” she spat behind him. He kept walking towards the left stairway. “You've always been such a bully! How did I not see that!?”

He took the first step down when she threw one last jab at him. “And you know what bullies are!? Villains, that's what!”

Ouch. That one kinda hurt.

He'd like to think it wasn't because they'd still been...allies earlier that week.

His steps must have faltered, because it was a second or so before he was back to putting one foot in front of the other, resolutely deciding that he would not give her the satisfaction of any hint of hurt, whether she'd been wanting it or not. H***, she might not even want to hurt him. She was probably just trying to get a point across and do what she thought was right. She's a good hero after all. That's what he begrudgingly told himself as he reached the ground floor and made his way to the doors, ignoring the sharp sound of the wind picking up.

A moment later found him throwing a punch at the wall outside the store with a muffled curse before heavily planting himself on a thankfully empty bench and rubbing his temples due to an oncoming headache.

This was beyond aggravating. If he'd known that the majority of his time would not be spent with Weird Hair, he would have declined.

It didn't surprise him that just about everyone in his vicinity did everything in their power to avoid eye contact and keep themselves and their brats within a certain distance of him, probably due to the powerful rage aura he must be subconsciously emitting. A large part of him was grateful, as it meant less annoyances from random extras that might otherwise wander a little too far into his personal space.

A smaller part that sounded suspiciously like Deku oh so helpfully reminded him that people shouldn't be afraid of their heroes.

“Kacchan?” Well, speak of the devil.

Deku had somehow materialized next to him, alone, he realized, with an unbelievably irritating amount of sympathy in his eyes. Wringing his hands nervously, the nerd fearlessly took the seat next to him, clutching at his knees. “You, uh... You doing okay?”

“Why the h*** would I not be?” he bit back, looking pointedly away.

Awkward silence ensued, Deku's mumbling being the only sound outside of the constant murmur of the crowd around them.

“I, uh...” Deku began, sounding as if he wasn't sure what to say. “I got into a fight with Ashido.”

He finally turned to look at the nerd and cocked an eyebrow. “You? Get into a fight? With someone other than me?”

Deku chuckled at that, though his face fell a moment later. “I... I didn't like what she said. I know she's just trying to defend me, and everyone else is too, but... I don't like it.”

He exhaled sharply. “It's not fair. I-”

“The f*** do you mean, 'not fair'?” Bakugou interrupted. “Karma's a b****, Deku. I've had this coming for a while now. It was only a matter of time-.”

“IT'S. NOT. FAIR.” Deku said more forcefully than anything he'd ever said before, especially when disagreeing with Kacchan to his face.

Bakugou grimaced.

Deku breathed in slowly before letting out a long sigh. “I haven't been afraid of you in a long time,” he said. “And you haven't done anything that really hurt me in years. We're not the same people.”

His eyes hardened. “I'm stronger because of you. You're kinder because of them.”

“That's pretty f***ed up, Deku.”

“But it's the truth, and I'm grateful for that.”

Deku leaned back into the bench, the tension leaving his body. “Yeah, the things you did and said were a little messed up-.”

“A little?”

“Okay, yeah, really messed up, but...now? Now I feel like I can take on the entire world and come back smiling!”

His pearly whites reappeared, and Bakugou almost felt as if he had to squint. “And I don't mean I'm, like, jaded now or anything, but I have tougher skin, and that will really help me in the future! I'm a stronger person because of you!”

“Idiot. That doesn't make it any less wrong.”

“That's not what I'm saying.” the shorter teen argued, sitting back up and staring out at the crowd with a serene look and a soft smile on his face. “What happened between us was really unfortunate and has lasting repercussions, but it's not the end of the world. What's done is done. In the end, something good came out of a bad situation, a silver lining of sorts, 'cause good always prevails, just like how heroes always win. Get it?”

Deku was looking at him with a glowing smile and his arms outstretched as if he'd just explained the secrets of the universe, holding said look even as Bakugou gave him the most incredulous stare he could muster. He finally looked away, Deku shifting next to him and once again clutching his knees.

It was probably only a minute or two, but it felt like hours before Bakugou huffed. “You said you got into a fight with Black Eyes?”

Deku startled, looking up at him with wide eyes before sheepishly looking away, his face turning red. “I, uh... Yeah, I... Aha.” he stammered. “I may have...lost my temper.”

He looked completely away from him, hiding his face. “Did you, uh...feel any breeze? You know, before you walked out?”

There was a moment of silence as Bakugou put two and two together and his eyes widened in shock. “What the f***?! You took a f***ing swing at her!?”

“I came really close.” he admitted, wringing his hands again. His voice watery with guilt. “I'm glad I stopped myself before I actually hit her. I don't think I would have ever forgiven myself... I still feel really bad about it. I probably really scared her... I plan on apologizing later, but I just... I...”

He curled in on himself, glaring at the ground. “I was so mad. I just hate this so much. If I hadn't opened my big mouth-.”

“F***ing h***, Deku, don't even start with that.”

“I hate how everyone's treating you! I hate it so much! They're acting like you're still the same person you were when all of that happened and you're not!”

The idiot stood up at that, still glaring daggers at the ground and trying not to cry. “They don't know anything! They don't know!

Bakugou kept his face neutral as he stared at the overemotional nerd rubbing harshly at his eyes in an attempt to keep it together. He was willing to bet that Deku just wasn't as accustom to being this angry over something of this nature. He sat down heavily, taking a deep breath to calm himself down before they fell back into silence, and for some unexplainable reason, it was surprisingly comfortable.

And then Deku turned to him sharply and they made eye contact, his eyes hardened and holding a level seriousness and energy that caught him off guard.

“Read my lips, Kacchan. You are not a villain.”

He would take it with him to his grave, but the force and determination, the resolve behind his proclamation made his heart stutter for a moment. Deku must have caught on the second before he looked away, because he seemed to brighten back up, leaping up and moving to stand directly in front of him.

“So, on a less intense topic, about the All Might merch in there, what I was going to say is that they actually have some really rare items in there. I even saw figurines from his debut, even before the golden age!”

That caught his attention. All Might's first hero outfit had fallen into obscurity years ago, so only extreme fanboys, like the one in front of him(and himself, but nobody else needed to know that), could recognize it that easily. “S***, for real?”

Deku lit up like a Christmas tree at his acknowledgment. “Yeah! Yeah, and they've even got those really valuable gold plated ones for collectors that sell for thousands online! And they're super cheap, so I don't think they even realize their value!”

Deku was practically vibrating with excitement in front of him. “Come on, please, please, please? You're the only one that gets All Might merchandise like I do and I really don't want to talk to Ashido right now...” He trailed off at the end, most likely still feeling like human garbage for even wanting to hit her, if Bakugou knew him as well as he unfortunately did. However, Deku shook his head and smiled back at him, holding his hand out invitingly.

And then he flinched, going wide eyed for a moment as he glanced at his outstretched hand and suddenly had a moment of panic, pulling it back and clutching it tightly to his chest while laughing sheepishly. “Sorry... Force of habit.”

Bakugou sighed loudly, pushing himself off the bench and bending his back, an audible but comfortable crack following. “You know what? I'm feeling petty and got nothing better to do. Let's go.”

Compared to all of Deku's other smiles, the sun had nothing on the way his dumb f***ing face was shining right then. “Really?! Like, for real? You mean it?”

“Shut the f*** up, Deku.”

The nerd jumped, scrambling to cover his mouth, but kept on smiling nonetheless. “Right. Shutting up.”

Deku ran ahead as Bakugou briskly walked after him, disappearing behind the glass doors and making a beeline for the stairs. He must have gotten scolded for running, because Bakugou walked in to find him apologizing and bowing to a stern-looking retailer by the front desk in a manic fashion and sweat flying off his face. Bakugou didn't wait for him, making his way up the staircase with Deku catching up a moment later, his face redefining the color red. It looked darker than Kirishima's hair dye.

The next several minutes were not as bad as they could have been, considering that he was in Deku's company. They've had way worse days, anyway. It was mostly spent with them looking through all of the All Might merchandise on the second floor, Deku gushing over every single thing he got his hands on while Bakugou admired the rarer items on sale and would occasionally throw jabs at Deku to keep his Must Be An A**hole levels balanced.

He decidedly ignored Ashido watching them. He didn't know where she was, but he knew she was there.

“Hey, look at this one!” Deku laughed. “Look at the jacket. Don't you have one of those?”

“The h***?” It was a small figurine of All Might's younger days, back when he worked in the US, with rounder facial features, unfamiliar white scleras, and sporting a comfortable but fashionable varsity jacket.

Bakugou snorted. “Well, what do you know? He actually had a sense of fashion at one point.”

“Oh, come on, Kacchan. It's not that bad.”

“Don't you dare even try to defend that banana suit. It's f***ing hideous.”

“His hero suits all look cool, though.”

“He didn't design them, moron.” Bakugou countered. “They were all done by that Shield f***.”

“Please don't call Melissa's dad a f***, Kacchan.”

Bakugou nearly choked while Midoriya's face reentered its perceptual state of embarrassment. As hilarious as hearing Deku cuss was, the idea of giving him the satisfaction of making him laugh made him queasy. Queasier than he'd expected, because he felt kind of sick all of a sudden.

The feeling grew in intensity at a rapid pace.

The air stayed out of his lungs and suddenly he was hyper aware, his twitching fingers begging to attack. He felt his heart squeeze and his eyes widened.

It was disturbingly sudden, but he knew this feeling.

He turned back towards Deku, who was staring directly back at him with wide, terrified eyes. He was sweating profusely, his shaking hands clenched tightly into fists and his breathing erratic.

Kacchan.

I know.

The two of them raced towards the railing, eyes scanning the area and the outside through the giant windows for any sign of danger. Deku's hands were wrapped around the railing so tightly that Bakugou heard it creak under the pressure.

“This isn't even normal!” Deku hissed through clenched teeth. “I've been dealing with the fidgety feeling for years and I've never felt it appear this quickly.”

“So being slammed in the f***ing gut out of left field isn't normal?” Unfortunately, he wouldn't exactly know. The whole “fidgety feeling” thing was still relatively new to him, so as much as he absolutely loathed it, Deku was the expert here.

No! It's always gradual! Even if it's a quicker build up, it always-”

The world shook.

The sudden momentum nearly threw them both over the balcony. Screams and shrieks could be heard all around them as people, products, and property alike were violently thrown around and the building groaned loudly as it slowly leaned towards the side. The large windows above shattered, raining glass down on fleeing civilians as they shielded themselves and their kids from the falling debris.

So, this “Hero Sense” can predict even the most procrastinated villain scheme or a single random moment of extreme danger several hours in advance, and yet it still doesn't have the balls to f*** with motherf***ing nature.

Duly noted.

“Kacchan!” Deku screamed in his ear and made him wince, but with a quick look behind them, it was clear that they were the only ones on the second floor.

“This floor looks clear! We have to go!”

“But what if-!”

“Hasn't Aizawa taught you anyway!? We'll be of no f***ing use if we get squashed! Now move it!”

With that, the two leaped off of the balcony, launching themselves through the broken windows and skidding around the ground outside. The second his feet touched the ground, Deku was hauling a** like it was on fire, vanishing into the crowd to help with rescue efforts right then and there, and Bakugou couldn't even think of having a say in it before he was alone.

It was difficult to get his bearings between the panicked crowd and the earth throwing a hissy fit, but ultimately, this kind of situation was not his forte. There was no villain to beat the s*** out of. This was a natural disaster. This was entirely rescue.

And he was gonna get to practice with a real life situation and real life consequences. F***ing fantastic.

The building was emptied out, and the majority of the crowd had moved away. Off to the side, Bakugou spotted the color pink, Ashido yelling at a boy with what liked like his younger sister to not hide under anything like a dumba** and get out in the open before they get flattened. After yanking them out from under the low hanging balcony, it caved, demolishing the land where the two had been curled under moments ago.

From behind, there was a huge crash, and Bakugou turned just in time to watch the hero merch shop fall to the ground with a resounding roar. He could only hope that everyone made it out. The hundreds of dollars of merchandise were gone for sure, though, and that was a real shame.

The world had been shaking for thirty seconds.

Where in the fresh h*** did Deku f*** off to?!

The building next door to the now destroyed merch shop swayed dangerously, people screaming and backing up as dust coated the entire area. Another building down the street collapsed, taking down another one near by. In response, Round Face and Tail appeared, already getting distance between the rubble and the populous and preparing to start searching once the shaking stopped.

And it did. Despite the severity of the earthquake, it barely lasted a minute.

It was astonishing, how easily the world around them was destroyed in a single minute. The streets had been torn in half, people barely avoiding falling to their deaths as a sinkhole opened up a ways down the street and swallowed up what looked like an entire block.

Somehow, the building next to the now destroyed merch shop was still standing, leaning over dangerously as terrified cries rang out. From the looks of things, heroes were already responding down the way, but if there were people still trapped, then they needed help now. Aftershocks were a thing, after all. That, and the Hero Sense was really kicking in now, which only meant bad things.

Seriously, where the f*** is Deku!?

His eyes once again zeroed in on the faulty building, and somehow he knew that the idiot nerd heard those cries for help, too.

F*** it.

He took off in a sprint, letting his feet move on their own and carry him towards the groaning structure. He shoved passed several bystanders, all milling around like a bunch of morons instead finding their bearings and maybe a safer location. As he broke through the crowd, he saw a woman with an infant run out of the building sobbing, looking back expectantly as she cradled her screaming brat. Each second, her face fell, until she was nearly falling to the ground in despair.

This is a warning issued by the hero agency systems of City A.” an overhead voice rang out throughout the district. All able citizens are asked to evacuate the area due to the imminent threats of aftershocks and heavy flooding. Heroes will direct you to the nearest shelter. If you are unable, then you are advised to search for steady, high ground or wait for heroes or emergency services to escort you to safety.

Wait, flooding?

It had been a minor detail when they'd first come here, thus unimportant, but there was a huge reservoir a distance from the new district that must have been damaged by the earthquake. If that's the case, then this really is a race against time, 'cause that will be a f*** ton of water.

“Hey, lady!” Bakugou yelled, the woman's eyes snapping up to meet his. “What's going on here? Did you see a dumb-looking nerd with green hair and freckles come through here?”

The woman gasped. “Are you with him?! And the pink girl, too!? You have to help me! My daughters are still in there!”

“You've gotta be kidding me.” So, Deku and Black Eyes are both in there. This day just keeps getting better.

With little more prompting, he ran in, immediately having a coughing fit from all of the dust in the air. Rubble could be heard falling in the distance as the building continued to lean and moan with petrifying indications. As he lifted his shirt over his nose, he stopped, listening for any signs of life that may be hidden behind the wall of contaminated air. Almost instantly, the sound of a small child crying could be heard. Bakugou zeroed in on it, blindly feeling his way through the foggy air. He would create sparks to try and see better, but he thought he could smell gasoline.

He stumbled across a silhouette, a small child continuing to cry over some rubble on the floor, and Bakugou found himself pushing through the ruined, partially collapsed building just a little bit faster with his heart stuck in his throat.

“Is anyone there?” he yelled through the dust, watching as the silhouette jerked up, leaping up and waving its arms wildly.

“Over here!” the little girl screamed, jumping up and down as Bakugou finally reached the spot. If anyone asked, he would deny remembering the moment that all the blood left his face and made him white as a ghost.

Laying under some of the rubble was the stupid f***ing nerd. His leg was twisted in a sickeningly angle and blood slowly pooled around his head and side. From the looks of it, he'd barely missed the heaviest of the s***, Bakugou cringing at the flattened fingers of his left hand under the giant piece of what used to be a wall.

“He got me out of the way and now he's hurt.” the girl cried, big fat crocodile tears streaming down her face. He vaguely registered the sound of rubble moving a distance to his right. “Please help him!”

Bakugou let out a long sigh of annoyance. “This f***ing idiot.” he muttered to himself. The rubble that had fallen on him was heavier than he thought, which was concerning, but it didn't take too long to dig the moron out.

“Come on, come on...” Freeing his fingers was the hardest part, fighting against what felt like the weight of the entire building in order to free his hand and hopefully not ruin Deku's arm more than the idiot already has over the last several months. After what felt like an eternity, he was finally able to pull Deku's unconscious form away from the mess of metal and concrete. There was a nasty looking gash on his side, and for a moment, Bakugou wondered if the idiot had bled out. F***ing s***nerd moron.

The floor jerked beneath him, sending him and the brat to the ground. The building groaned dangerously in the face of the expected but unfortunate aftershock, like a beast preparing to devour its prey, as rebar and concrete began to rain from above them. The girl screamed, crying as a slab of concrete came just a little too close to crushing all of them.

“Hey, kid!” Bakugou yelled with just a little too much bite, pulling Deku into his arms bridal style. “Hop on my back! I'll give you a piggyback ride or something like that, yeah? I need you to work with me here!”

Thankfully, the girl complied, immediately climbing onto his back and holding on tightly as he settled his cargo and bolted into the swirling dust. He could hear the building collapsing all around him, literally tons of debris slamming into the ground as he ran. For once in his life, he could actually thank his lucky stars that the rubble was so nice as to build a pathway for him. The light of the outside world was shining through the foggy air and he couldn't help but feel relief flood his system.

“Kacchan...?” Deku slurred, regaining consciousness. “What happened? The girl?”

“I got her, Deku. Just shut up for once in your sorry life.”

They broke through, the light blinding him and nearly sending him tumbling to the ground, kid, idiot, and all. There was a shrill cry, the woman from before being held back by a man as Bakugou approached them. It took all of his self control and memory of injuries to not just drop Deku like a hot potato. The girl hopped off, running to her mother and hugging her tightly as another building across the street collapsed and sent dust flying.

Deku struggled against his grip. “And Ashido?”

Wait, Horns was still in there, wasn't she?

F***.

“I'm going back for her.” he said, attributing the shaking in his voice to the earth as he set the nerd down.

“Wait!” he yelled, wincing at his destroyed body as Bakugou stood back up as turned to the couple. “He needs an ambulance, now!”

The couple didn't even get the chance to respond as he turned and sprinted back towards the building, leaning and grinding against itself in a display of danger and imminent death.

Things would never be easy for him, would they?

Going back into the dust cloud met going practically blind once again. Sounds were muted against the loud groans of the building, so Bakugou had to just follow his instincts and run, constantly tripping over rubble and dodging debris at the last minute a few times too many. At one point, he ate s*** entirely, foot getting caught and throwing him straight into the ground. F***, his nose was probably bleeding now.

There was a scream somewhere in the distance, Bakugou blindly following the sound of feminine voices just above the cacophony of screeching metal above them and through the haze of dust and dirt irritating his eyes and lungs.

Even through the contaminated air, he could see the bright pink breaking through the gray surrounding them. There was crying, revealing a girl around their age with a nasty cut on her arm. Ashido was reassuring her, pulling her away from the mess of rebar surrounding them and patting her shoulder.

“Horns!” he yelled, coughing as dust filled his lungs. She turned to him, looking a lot happier to see him than he'd been expecting, and yanking the girl along with her.

“This is the last civilian in here! We gotta go!” she screamed above the noise.

Bakugou nodded, grabbing the girl's other arm and dragging them both along with him. It was almost the exact same scenario as before, dangerous debris falling all around them as the girl continued to scream in terror of her approaching death. The sight of light filling the swirling dust cloud caused her to sob in relief.

“We're okay!” Ashido continued to reassure her. “Everything's gonna be fine!”

The ground caved behind them. Bakugou may have felt fear before, but there were few times that he was scared enough to actually show. Seeing the floor disappear behind them and a massive crack appear in front of them was one of those times.

The girl panicked, pulling away from them and the dangerous hole appearing ahead of them. Ashido yelled something, pulling her back towards them as the ground shifted, dropping them down a few inches.

Of course. Of f***ing course .

The building was collapsing, and it was collapsing right f***ing now.

Thinking fast, Bakugou hauled the flailing girl to him by her waist, running up to the edge beyond oblivion and straight up throwing her to safety.

F***ING RUN!!!

She hit the ground hard, bouncing off and rolling to a stop. There was a moment of relief that shot through him as she reacted almost immediately, leaping to her feet and sprinting for the exit in tears. Concrete came raining down where she'd once been, blocking out the light of the outside world.

He felt everything jerk to the side and throw his balance off before he saw anything, dust clouding his vision and irritating his lungs as the earth itself opened up to swallow them whole. For a single moment, in a millisecond's time, his wild eyes locked with Raccoon Eyes', hers alight with fear and adrenaline-fueled desperation. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that it was the first time she'd looked at him with something other than long deserved hatred in days.

The groaning of the building around them became so unbearably loud that he could barely make out anything around them, and everything shifted again. Distant cries could be heard for a moment, and he could only hope that the b**** is out of harm's way and hasn't rendered this whole f***ing suicide mission pointless.

If anyone ever asked, he would vehemently deny the sharp spike of fear that shot through his entire being when he felt the ground itself give way and the ceiling cave in above them. Somewhere in front of him, shrouded in an impenetrable wall of dust and concrete, Ashido screamed.

And then he was free falling.

Chapter Text

There was a moment where he felt weightless, as if Round Face had used her quirk on him and he was just floating there, among the sinking rubble surrounding him and blocking out the sun. Dust swirled around him like water and covered the light of the cloudless sky attempting to peek through, giving the feeling of falling deeper and deeper into the abyss until there's nothing left.

Ashido's screaming entered his awareness for a moment, only to be overpowered by the metal falling on metal and concrete on concrete. Bakugou wished he could see her, but he was at least able to locate her somewhere to his left. The roar suddenly hit a crescendo, and the sun peeked through the darkness for a single moment.

There was a sudden impact and everything went white.

It was so unexpected that he didn't have time to even try to stifle the scream that tore out of his throat, accompanied by the sound of tearing flesh that he barely registered above the cacophony of falling debris and the deafening crash of the building meeting the ground and groaning into its final resting place.

Oh f***, that hurt!

It hurt! It hurt!!

Pain coursed through his body, disrupting his breathing and making him almost feel numb. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he noticed a dull throb pulsating through his uncooperative right arm and a sharp stinging feeling around his hip, but it was easily overshadowed by whatever was happening to him at that moment, this unbearable sinking feeling that almost left him suspended in nothingness and left him heaving.

Why did it hurt so bad!?!

A familiar voice filtered through the overwhelming sounds of his heavy breathing and wild heartbeat pounding in his ears. It was a high-pitched noise, his brain not entirely deciphering any understandable language, almost as if someone could blow a whistle underwater, and it was nowhere near enough for his frazzled brain to put a name or face to.

He felt his body giving up on him, choosing oblivion over whatever excruciating h*** this was supposed to be, and despite his mind's struggle against it, his vision was blurring and he felt his body going limp against the rough, uneven ground without his permission.

The air tasted metallic.


 

He must have actually passed out, because within the next moment, it had become eerily quiet.

The only thing he could hear was the odd pile of dust sliding downward and maybe a small stone or two. Though the air wasn't as breathable as he would like, the dust seemed to have cleared somewhat, sunlight lightly streaming through the remains of what was once a structure, or even the ground. From here, it almost looked like a giant hole had opened up, as if they'd been swallowed by a sinkhole. Well, all things considered, it could be a lot worse. At least he had a light source and his oxygen supply wasn't limited.

H***, he was still alive.

His right arm was going numb, which was concerning. Slowly turning his head, and realizing that he must have hit it in his fall because ouch, he was kindly greeted by the sight of his arm being crushed by debris. Bakugou grimaced, trying to move his fingers under the weight and finding it almost impossible. S***, he really hopes he can keep that. He kind of needs it.

Jostling his arm, he realized through the pain with some inkling of hope that the rubble pinning his arm down was loose, not holding up the entirety of the ruins around him and not standing as the only thing between his body and several tons of material, and that meant it could be moved.

Bakugou slowly exhaled, ignoring the stinging sensation that followed, and with his still muddied senses, pushed himself towards his side to get a better angle to move this thing.

Three things happened at once.

The first was that the stinging in his hip suddenly became a whole lot worse, flaring up and screaming at him to stop trying to move. The second was the realization that he couldn't move.

The third was nearly throwing up from what felt like his torso being ripped open.

He gasped, seizing despite his attempts to control his body and grabbing at the floor with his free hand to ground himself. Hot, stabbing agony shot through his system, and his hand reached out on reflex towards whatever was causing his stomach to feel like it had just exploded from the inside out. His fingers found themselves wrapped around thick, sticky cylindrical metal, and it fully dawned on him just how royally f***ed he was.

He let out a shaky breath, forcing himself to relax and go limp. Adrenaline was setting his brain on fire and panic was obstructing his airways, but he had to keep it together.

He'd been f***ing skewered, nailed to the ground by a piece of rebar jutting out of the ground. By the stickiness on the pole, he must have slid down a bit from where he'd originally been stuck, which would explain the floaty feeling before he conked out, and would also mean that his stomach is even more jacked up than it looks.

He'd been thrown into a sinkhole, speared in the gut, and left unconscious for an unknown amount of time while bleeding. How the f*** was he still alive?!

“Blasty?”

Her voice was small, cracking with emotion, and it was too weirdly uncharacteristic for him to fully recognize her at first. He allowed his head to roll to the side, finding a blurry but familiar pink silhouette in the mess of rocks and concrete to his left. “Horns?”

She let out a sob, her form slumping onto the ground and shaking against the heavy debris pinning her down. As his vision cleared, he could make out the ugly looking cuts and puncture wounds littering her arms and the stream of blood running down her face. Her hair was even more disheveled than it usually was, which he didn't know was possible, dirty and sticking out at awkward angles, and the color of her skin was dimmed by dirt and grime, making her eyes stand out even more.

He noticed huge tear tracks, cutting easily through the grit on her face as if they were painted tribal markings, and she sniffled. Bakugou waited as patiently as he could as she went into a coughing fit and whined miserably.

“I thought-...” she forced out, inhaling the clearing air greedily and her voice shaking with a dizzying number of emotions. “I saw you fall... I thought you were dead.”

Another sob. “I was so scared that-.”

“Save the pity party for when we get out of here.” he grit out, cringing at how raspy his voice sounded. “We're not out of the woods.”

Black Eyes let out another whimper, but her eyes shone just a little bit brighter. She began to struggle, fighting against the weight holding her in place. On closer inspection, her fingers were bleeding and most of her nails were broken, as if she'd already tried to forcefully claw her way out. The pile on top of her was massive, the heavy, bigger rocks precariously balanced at the top on the smaller ones surrounding her body. He didn't know if the size of her crevice was just tight enough to keep her in place or if her lower body was being crushed, but either way, she was pretty much stuck.

But he was even more stuck, literally pinned down by nail and hammer, with something else piercing into his right hip and his right arm held in place. As much as it made his blood boil, he was out of commission.

HELP!!!” Raccoon Eyes shrieked, hoping that, by some miracle, someone might hear them. “SOMEONE HELP US, PLEASE!!! SENSEI!! KIRI!!

Silence answered her plea.

Frustration settled on her face, her struggles against her cement prison renewed. Even as he watched her squirm, he could feel his senses becoming more dull. For a second, he was terrified that he was coming down from his adrenaline rush, anticipating the brand new onslaught of pain that would come with it that would threaten to take him out. His pounding heart fought against it and he gagged.

“Blast?!”

He coughed, bile rising in his throat and leaving it feeling like he swallowed Horns' acid. He grimaced at the strong taste of iron in his mouth.

“Hang in there, Dynamite!” she yelled, pushing and shoving at the rocks around her despite the obvious futility of it. He hated how desperate she looked. “I'm gonna get you out of here! I promise!”

Bakugou let out a shaky, painful sigh, looking away from his classmate's struggling form and sinking back into the recesses of his mind. His brain was running a million miles a minute, possible plans of escape, reasons that there might be no help, the logistics of their survival, pros and cons, worst scenarios flying through at speeds that he could barely comprehend. Good grief, this must be what it's like inside Deku's head. Yeah, he's not a fan.

It was still better than letting the pain consume him. He hadn't realized he was breathing through clenched teeth until he stopped his train of thought, being slammed in the gut by the pain and nausea, his body screaming at him to do something about it.

What that thing was, he'd love to know.

“Blasty!?” Horns shouted through her panting. “Blasty, can you hear me!? Stay with me!”

His head was pounding, so he just flipped her off with his good hand instead of turning to look at her. With his luck, he was probably also concussed on top of everything else.

His mind started right back up again. The quickest solution would be to blow up the rocks holding Ashido down with his free hand, but that would risk crushing her if they fell the wrong way. If they waited for help, it would be safer, but his own injuries in particular didn't give anyone much time.

F***.

He hated this feeling, this helplessness. It sent shivers crawling up and down his spine and left him in a state of barely contained rage. He grit his teeth and dug into the dirt with his free fingers in an attempt to ground himself, because as much as he wanted to freak out, as much as he was freaking out, this was a matter of life and death and he needed to stay calm.

And not his definition of calm.

Breathe.

“Breathe, Blasty.” Ashido's voice cut through his muddled mind, and he suddenly realized that he was actually hyperventilating, senses heightening against his will and leaving him in unfiltered agony.

Something was coming.

“Ashido,” he gasped, swallowing the scream that tried to crawl out of his throat. “I got a game plan, but it could get really bad.”

“But it's already really bad?” she joked despite her tears, and he couldn't help smirking because she had a point.

“Those rocks up there.” he said, motioning to the giant slabs of concrete. “I'm gonna try and blast them off of you from here.”

Horns looked up as far as she could, unable to see all the way above herself from her angle. She looked back at him with a grimace, and he could only assume that she was concerned about being crushed to death. Even if his aim is spot on, and it always is, there's a good chance that they'll fall whichever way they pleased, including tipping forward and raining down right on top of them.

From that height, a hit to the head would be game over.

“Won't that hurt you?”

Wait, what?

“What?”

Black Eyes bit her lip as her face held its look of displeasure. “The kickback from the explosion. Couldn't that break or tear something important?”

Bakugou stared at her incredulously, feeling whiplash from the Ashido he'd spoken to in the merch shop and the Ashido here beside him. The one who finally realized what an a**hole he was versus the one who was currently terrified for his life. Then again, she was a good person. Of course she'd be worried.

“Why would you care?” He didn't know if it was his mind lagging behind or if he was even in his right mind to blurt that out, but something wasn't adding up to him and it was doing nothing for his worsening headache. Raccoon Eyes, meanwhile, looked as if she'd just been told her dog died.

And then her face morphed into that of inconsolable horror when they heard a low rumble.

She let out another sob, beginning to hyperventilate as she made a final, vain effort to free herself, and though Bakugou was still reeling from the concept, she'd made it very clear that it wasn't her own safety that she was concerned about. On any other day, that would send him flying into a rage, but right now, he was just too exhausted to care.

The rumbling grew louder, the ground vibrating along with it, and Bakugou felt as his own heart rate skyrocketed. At first, he thought that he was imagining it, or jumping to conclusions, but realizing that Ashido was also in possible danger, it dawned on him that his Hero Sense was going off. For what, he wasn't sure, because this didn't feel like an aftershock.

Something was coming.

He closed his eyes and thought back, filing his current agony away for just a moment, to before he found himself in this predicament, when he was getting along weirdly well with Deku and the earthquake actually hit. To the people running, that family. He absentmindedly wondered if Deku's Hero Sense had gone off when he ran back in after Ashido.

Not that he cared.

But he was missing something. He could feel it. There was something that he'd forgotten. A small detail-.

It hit him like a ton of bricks and his eyes snapped open. All able citizens are asked to evacuate the area due to the imminent threats of aftershocks and heavy flooding.

Imminent threats of aftershocks and heavy flooding.

Heavy flooding.

NO F***ING WAY.

Scanning their surroundings, Bakugou felt a small sliver of hope when he noticed that they were practically surrounded by a gigantic moat, trapped on the highest point of the ground inside the hole. But that's the problem. They're stuck in a hole , and if what's coming is what he thinks it is, then it's a no-brainer that the hole's gonna fill up.

“Ashido!” he choked out, coughing harshly from exerting his voice so much. His lips tasted strongly of copper. “Cover your head!”

They both knew it wouldn't do her much good, but she obeyed nonetheless, holding her arms protectively over the back of her head as her face hit the dirt. With the best angle he could get, and with much sweat as he had available, he swung.

The world erupted in a flash of heat and the lights went out.


 

Aizawa is this close to having a straight up meltdown, logic be d***ed.

“Calm down, Eraser.” Present Mic said coolly beside him, and at a respectable volume. “They'll find 'em in no time.”

“I have been a full fledged pro hero for over a decade,” Aizawa spat. “and I am a teacher who has an exact fourth of his class still missing. I have every right to be down there searching for them right now.”

Mic sighed as Aizawa returned to his pacing and scanned the sea of faces before him. Apparently, the area had gotten so unstable that they'd shooed some of the heroes away that didn't have extremely useful rescue-related quirks. Aizawa had tried to argue that he could keep a victim's quirk from lashing out during rescue, but they hadn't listened, and it was aggravating him to no end. Foolishness, all of it.

Iida was pacing more than Aizawa himself was, leaving a literal rut where he'd been walking while Asui attempted in vain to calm him down. Her own posture was just as tense, which wasn't helping. Off to the side, Todoroki was glaring holes into the dirt, subconsciously freezing the ground under him while simultaneously warming up the air around him to uncomfortable levels. Yaoyorozu had been forced to give up trying to comfort him due to how blisteringly hot it was getting to his left and absolutely freezing on his right. Yaoyorozu had dejectedly wandered over to where Jirou and Mineta were having the same problem getting too close to a panicking Kaminari without getting zapped by accident.

Obviously, Aizawa wasn't the only one irritated with all of this, because both Hagakure and Kirishima had tried to sneak off and search for their missing classmates themselves, Sero and Rikidou having to forcefully hold the redhead back while Jirou, Shouji, and several pro heroes were now keeping a very close eye on the invisible girl after her third escape attempt. Thankfully, Tokoyami, Kouda, and Aoyama were not being as difficult, choosing instead to mope around and generally bring the mood down even more than it already was.

That left Uraraka, Midoriya, Ojiro, Bakugou, and Ashido still unaccounted for, and he hadn't heard a single word from any of them.

Aizawa kept pacing.

He tried to not look desperate when he quickly reached for his ringing cell phone, or even remotely disappointed when he read the caller ID. “What?”

“Hey.” Vlad King panted into the phone. “I heard that you and your class were out on the town. Are you guys alright?”

Aizawa groaned, rubbing a clammy hand over his face. “Fifteen accounted for, five missing.”

Vlad King hissed out a curse and Aizawa droned on. “How are things at the school?”

“Could be a lot worse.” Vlad King responded with a sigh. “There's a lot of damage to the structure, but it's still standing, and the only injuries we've got are minor. We can all thank the principal and All Might for that. All Might had been losing his s*** for a solid minute before the earthquake hit, so we were already prepared for something to happen.”

“Good.” Aizawa huffed. “Apparently it's bad enough out here that they're evacuating heroes, so stay on your guard.”

“D***. Yeah, will do. Keep me updated, and keep an eye out for Recovery Girl. She's trying to get a helicopter over there.”

With that, Aizawa hung up, looking out expectantly over the mob once again as another group of civilians and emergency personnel began to shuffle through. Hagakure had made a fourth escape attempt, being hauled away by another hero kicking and screaming while Yaoyorozu kept trying in vain to keep everyone calm.

“Good grief.” Present Mic sighed to his right, surveying the damage from their vantage point and grimacing.

And Aizawa kept searching, eyes roaming over the landscape for the smallest hint. Maybe a figure launching themselves around the rooftops with his tail, or floating debris, or an explosion. Even a flash of green lightning or a pink silhouette.

“Shouta...” A hand landed on his shoulder, and Aizawa could only grimace at Mic's sympathetic face. “We'll find them. You'll see.”

Aizawa turned away, his eyes hidden in shadow. “We're pro heroes, Mic. Optimism is dangerous.”

Present Mic hummed in response, returning to staring sadly at the destruction.

OJIRO!!!

Both heroes whipped around fast enough to leave them dizzy as Hagakure wiggled out of the heroes grip and sprinted through the last stranglers of the incoming crowd, slamming into the tail quirk user hard enough to send them both to the ground. Next to them, Uraraka smiled through her obvious exhaustion, combing through her disheveled hair and letting out a sigh.

Aizawa and Present Mic joined the rest of the class in swarming the two heroes-in-training, Aizawa ignoring the slight weakness in his knees.

“Are you guys alright?” Asui asked in concern as she pulled the brunette into a tight hug.

Uraraka gave her a watery smile. “Yeah. Yeah, we're okay. Saved a few people while we were at it.”

As the class clambered around their two classmates, Aizawa turned back towards the city and narrowed his eyes. Two down, three to go, and if he remembered correctly, they'd been grouped together.

So close.

“Eraserhead!” a voice called out, and Aizawa turned to find a police officer approaching him. He was tall, with short black hair, and was sweating like a pig. “I need to speak with you. I'm friends with Toshinori.”

Ah, in that case, this must be Detective Tsukauchi. Aizawa watched him carefully. “Go on.”

“I've just phoned Toshinori and I was told to inform you as well.” he stated professionally, despite his panting. “You'll find one of your students with the next ambulance that comes through here.”

It took all of Aizawa's self control to keep his breath from hitching. “Since All Might's involved, I assume you're referring to Midoriya.”

“Yes. He was brought in by a family that he helped rescue. Apparently he's hurt pretty badly, but it isn't anything life-threatening.”

Aizawa let out a breath that he hadn't realized he was holding. “Alright. Thank you. I'll keep an eye out for him.”

The detective nodded with a tired smile, turning on his heel and returning to where a group of emergency workers were clustering together. Aizawa turned back to his class, still crowding around their now safe classmates. Hagakure was still wrapped around Ojiro while Uraraka was now being lifted off of the ground by a teary eyed Iida with Asui clinging to his back in order to join their group hug and Todoroki watching from the side with the barest ghost of a smile.

“Alright, young listeners!” Present Mic shouted. “The danger may not be over, so we gotta stick together. Stay in our sights and everything will be fine!”

Two more. Just two more and everything will be fine.

It took a few minutes for anymore ambulances to drive into the recovery area, but Aizawa was quick to leave Present Mic with his rambunctious class and make his way over to the paramedics in search of the missing problem child. He passed by several families, either meeting for a happy reunion, waiting for any news of their loved ones, or in far too many cases, facing the worst case scenario. It was too powerful a reminder, that not even heroes can save everyone from the earth itself. It's just not realistic.

It took longer than he would have liked, but he eventually came to the final ambulance truck and was met with the sight of his injured student squeezing the side of the stretcher so tightly that he was bending it. Midoriya's leg was propped up and wrapped in a tight cast, thick bandages tied around his forehead, torso, and hand. He was breathing erratically despite the oxygen mask, his heart monitor beeping wildly, and his eyes were of someone who couldn't possibly be within their right mind.

The boy's eyes widened at the sight of his teacher, almost immediately breaking down into tears. “Aizawa-sensei...”

“Just rest, kid.” Aizawa said. “You look like you need it.”

“The family?” he asked in desperation.

“All safe. They helped get you here, apparently.”

Midoriya seemed to relax for a moment, breathing out with a loud sigh and staring up at the ceiling with unseeing eyes. He slowly leaned his injured head back onto the pillow, closing his eyes despite the crease in his eyebrows.

And then they flew open, as if someone had just slapped him in his face. He gasped, throwing himself forward and crashing down as Aizawa and the Paramedics standing by did everything in their power to hold him down and keep him from hurting himself any further.

“Midoriya!” Aizawa yelled, grabbing the boy by his shoulders and glaring into his glazed eyes. “I need you to stay calm. Keep it together.”

“But Kacchan is-!” Midoriya doubled over in pain, clutching his head as he began to hyperventilate.

Aizawa's eyes widened. “Calm down, Midoriya. I need you to stay calm.” He breathed deeply, trying not to yell. “Were Bakugou and Ashido with you?”

Midoriya whimpered, nodding quickly and wincing from the pain he probably just inflicted on himself. He swayed dangerously, leaning against his teacher and taking deep breaths to try and actually calm himself down. “I don't know where they are now.” he sobbed. “I don't know where, but we have to find them right now.”

He began to mumble, words flying out of his mouth at a million miles a minute and slurring together the longer he went, exhaustion fighting against his overactive mind. When stopping him or pulling him back to reality did nothing, Aizawa tried to keep up, but all he got out of it was “building” and that really didn't help.

The young hero-in-training suddenly paused. “Something's coming.”

Aizawa felt a shiver run down his spine at how heavy the atmosphere had suddenly become. “What?”

Midoriya looked up at him in terror, his eyes now missing their usual vibrant color and dull against the light, and tears flowing down his face. “Sensei, something is coming.

And he just passed out, right then and there, falling onto his teacher's chest and going limp. Aizawa stared down at him with an unreadable expression, not entirely processing the multitude of emotions running through his head except for the cold dread creeping into his mind. He laid the boy down, easily moving away as the paramedics kicked him out of the ambulance to care for their patient, and rubbed at his eyes for the umpteenth time that day. This was getting to be too much.

There was a crashing sound in the distance, followed by a low rumble.

The crowd started to panic, screaming in terror as the ground began to vibrate, and Aizawa was already bracing himself for another aftershock. However, the shaking never reached the same level, staying at a low vibration that only upturned a couple pebbles and maybe a few tools left here and there. Every hero on the field tensed up, watching and waiting for whatever was about to happen, and Aizawa felt the hairs on the back of his head standing straight up as if his quirk were activated.

Even now, after having so much experience and seeing so many terrible things, after be jaded from years of hero work, he couldn't even describe what he felt when his eyes snapped towards the right, staring in horror as a literal wave of water came roaring through the destroyed reservoir like an All Might smash and tore its way towards the ruined city. It took almost every hero and emergency worker on sight to keep everything under control as the crowd screamed and cried over the devastation happening before him.

And Aizawa felt his heart continue to sink, because two of his students were still missing.

And it isn't even that they can't handle themselves. Both of them are very competent heroes in the making, but neither of them are easy to miss. Someone should have seen or heard them by now.

Sensei!” a familiar voice rang out, Aizawa spinning around to find Jirou practically tripping over herself to get to him. She was disturbing pale, looking as if she'd just seen a ghost and sweating buckets, leaving her hair in disarray, and was biting her lip hard enough to draw blood.

“Jirou, you should be-.”

I heard an explosion!

Aizawa's stomach dropped. “Where?!”

Jirou immediately spun around and ran, Aizawa having no choice but to chase after her. The wave was blazing through the city like a tsunami, pouring into the multiple sinkholes littering the area and tearing several buildings down in its wake. A small, dark part of Aizawa's jaded mind couldn't help but see the universal joke of having such a new, bustling and lively part of the city absolutely demolished so soon after its grand beginning.

Go figure.

Jirou skidded to a halt, stumbling and barely catching herself as she stood over the tall hillside overlooking City A, and pointed without saying a word. Aizawa followed her aim, feeling the color drain from his face as his eyes landed on an especially hole-ridden section of the city, nearly completely destroyed and sinking into the earth, just as the waters washed over it. It must have been a deep hole, because it was filling up extremely slowly, allowing the small pillar of smoke to rise proudly above the ruins surrounding it.

That's it. Evacuation or not, he's getting down there.

“Go back to your classmates.” Aizawa ordered. “Stay together. I'll be back.”

He watched as Jirou nodded numbly, wandering aimlessly back to her group of friends as Aizawa made one last head count of his class. Present Mic seemed to be doing the same thing, counting them one by one as he passed through the small crowd of teenagers with an nervous look on his face. Aizawa didn't like that.

He narrowed his eyes and glared at Present Mic in the eyes when said hero turned to notice him, gulping and pulling at the collar of his shirt as he approached him sheepishly.

“What?” Aizawa growled will a lot more heat than he'd meant.

Present Mic laughed nervously. “I, uh... I may have...um...lost track of a few of them...”

“...You what?”

The look that Aizawa was giving him must have been more intense than he thought, because the voice hero looked ready to bolt. “I'm sorry, really! A fight broke out between some civilians and I had to help break them up! I was distracted!”

Aizawa returned to counting, immediately making note of the distinct lack of blinding red hair. It wasn't hard to make a couple deductions soon after.

They were right back to where they started. Five students missing, two of them likely in critical condition or trapped and about to drown, because they would have rendezvoused with them a long time ago if they were able, and on top of everything, it was now THAT group of students.

And if Aizawa found them all alive, he was going to kill them all himself.

Chapter Text

He'd never admit it, but the fact that the kickback of the explosion actually knocked him the f*** out terrified him.

There was a ringing in his ears when he started to come to, blocking out all other sounds around him other than an almost static resonance. For a moment, he forgot where he even was, confused at the contrasting sensations of hot air making it hard to breathe and cool liquid lapping at his sides. There was a stinging, somewhat burning feeling against his back, accompanied by a sizzling sound that slowly penetrated through his muddled senses. The static lifted, replaced by what sounded like a running waterfall.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he faintly remembered smelling gasoline.

The world slowly but surely began to regain some vague idea of shape, his vision being primarily dominated by the color pink. The world suddenly shifted, turning to the left and leaving him gasping from the sudden jolt against his side. The blur of color moved stiffly, shaky appendages reaching over and hovering around his face. Somewhere far away, someone was calling him.

His mind slowly began to catch up, taking in the fact that he was now lying on his side, his right arm numb and cold, but free from its stone prison, and his right thigh throbbing from the pain in his hip. He felt himself being rolled over and his upper body being lifted out of the what felt like a shallow puddle as his head was placed on something moderately soft. The sizzling returned, though it was dampened by the overwhelming sound of running water.

“Got it.” Ashido's voice floated into his awareness after a long moment, followed by the sound of something slamming into the water beside him. “Okay, okay...”

His vision cleared, and he realized that he'd been placed in Ashido's lap. On the ground, he could see a lone piece of bloody rebar painting the water red. His surroundings looked slightly different from when he'd seen them last, rocks and boulders scattered about in a random fashion and the natural moat around them filled to the brim and spilling over.

“Bakugou?” Ashido's voice wavered a little too much for his liking. “You with me?”

Bakugou coughed. “Yeah.”

Ashido let out a shaky breath, nodding to herself before looking up at the walls surrounding them. From what he could see, there was still an excess of water filling into their hole, which would definitely be a problem if they attempted to make their escape.

“Okay.” Ashido mostly said to herself before turning her full attention back to him. “I melted parts of the pole so that you wouldn't drown, a-and so I could move you easier and...I...”

She trailed off, looking back up at the walls with hints of fear and uncertainty. The flood surrounding them continued to rise, now up to Ashido's lap and leaving his clothes drenched. “I- I...”

“Horns?” He hated how tired he sounded.

I don't know what to do.

She nearly broke, tears streaming down her face as her entire body shook and she gasped for air. “I'm suppose to be a hero. I'm suppose to save people, b-but I- I don't...”

For the nth time since he'd woken up, she sobbed. “I don't know what the h*** to do. What am I suppose to do!?

She slowly lifted him into her arms and away from the rising water, earning a loud hiss that had her wide-eyed. Looking back up at her, he could only watch as her expression slowly crumbled back into heartbroken terror, her breath completely erratic and eyes red-rimmed from the constant flow of tears. Her grip on him was tight enough that he couldn't even move if he wanted to, but loose enough that he isn't being crushed to death. Pressed against her chest, he could feel her starting to hyperventilate more than he could hear it.

He grimaced. As much as he hated it, absolutely loathed it, she's the able one. She's the one whose going to get them out of here.

He can't lose her now.

“Breathe.” he coughed out, raising his hand with strength he didn't know he still had and clasping her shoulder. “You need to breathe.”

Her breath hitched and she coughed, trying in vain to control her own gasping.

“Come on, Pinky. In two, out four. Understand?” It was slow, agonizing even, how much time passed as the acid quirk user calmed down, the water continuing to rise around them and lap at his raised back. He couldn't make her match his breath in his condition, so he could only hope that she was strong enough to somehow stay in control and focus on getting them out alive.

Even after everything that happened, he still trusted her. She was a good person, after all.

“Okay...” she mumbled. “Okay, okay... Calm. Stay calm, Mina. You can do this.”

Despite how slowly she moved, Bakugou couldn't hide the pain that shot through his entire being, gritting his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut as she lifted him into her arms bridal style and stumbled to her feet. A particularly sharp stab of agony hit him and he yelped.

Ashido jolted. “Blasty!?”

“Just-...” he forced the words out through gritted teeth. “Just get us outta here, Horns.”

She whimpered but said nothing else, making sure he was secure before starting the long trek to the walls. She waded through the water slowly, now siting just above her knees, methodically moving around the uneven terrain in order to avoid tripping and falling. Bakugou could feel her grip tightening around him as she got further and the water rose higher. It was a surprisingly comfortable position, so he had to fight with himself to not just drop his head on his frie-, classmate's shoulder and fall asleep. He'd been lucky twice and he knew it. The next time he closed his eyes could literally be the death of him.

Ashido continued to stumble through the mess of rocks and concrete, feeling the ground for rocks and holes before taking each step and trying to avoid climbing over things as much as possible. It was painstakingly slow, but steady enough to not jostle the cut of rebar still lodged in his stomach too much. The taste of blood was still way too strong for his liking, but there wasn't much he could do about that at the moment.

“Okay.” Ashido muttered, her grip tightening to the point of discomfort. “There's a giant piece of... I don't know what this used to be, but it's big, it's sturdy, and it can get us to the other side without having to swim.”

Glancing to his right, he could see the giant slab of concrete, possibly once a ceiling, that sat just above their heads and stretched upward from where they were all the way to the wall of the chasm, just outside of the waterfalls pouring down from above. Though the flow was slowing down, the water had still climbed up to Ashido's waist, once again washing against his still damp back.

He could practically feel Ashido's grimace. “This might hurt, Blasty.”

With some effort, Ashido climbed up a small way towards the top of the piece of ceiling, hoisting him up and dropping him there. He hissed from the landing, his head pounding more than ever, but he simply exhaled and gripped at the ground under him to keep from yelling out and making Ashido panic. Next to him, there was movement, Ashido easily pulling herself up next to him as if it were second nature. Wordlessly, Ashido reached over and picked him back up, pausing at his sharp intake of breath before settling him and walking forward.

As much as Bakugou wanted to get out of here, and maybe survive being gutted, he wasn't exactly sure of how Ashido was planning to do that, glancing over at the high walls of stone and dirt looming over them. Ashido continued to walk, grime still caking her hair in clumps and mud painting her face. There were two lines still running down her face from her eyes, where the dirt had long been washed away, practically shining a brilliant pink color much more natural to the overly excitable girl's usual complexion.

“D***it...” Ashido hissed, looking up at her newest obstacle. Though her voice is as clear as day, he could see the corners of his vision slowly blurry and losing focus, going dark in the far edges. And f***, was he tired.

He couldn't explain why, but Kirishima popped into his mind, the red-haired idiot giving him a blinding, toothy smile as if he were the greatest thing that ever happened to him. If that was the case, then he really was an idiot. H***, he cemented himself as an idiot the moment he said any word in his defense over that whole mess. Kaminari and Sero appeared shortly after for a moment, but he cast the thought aside. For all he knew, they really did hate him.

Then again, he thought that Ashido hated him too, and she seems pretty adamant about getting them both out alive.

Hey!” Raccoon Eyes's voice suddenly pierced into his awareness, earning a wince and a strong jolt. Ashido was looking at him as if she'd seen a ghost. “Don't do that, Blasty! You gotta answer me!”

Bakugou only grunted in response, brows furrowed as he put a hand over his wound. He was still soaked, so he couldn't tell if the rebar had gotten jostled and worsened the bleeding, and he really didn't feel like messing it up by sitting up to look.

“I need you to work with me, Dynamite.” Ashido breathed, still looking upward towards their only chance at freedom. “Wrap your arms around my neck and hold on tight. I'm getting us up there even if it kills me.”

Bakugou spat blood and looked at her incredulously. “With one arm, Horns?”

“Whatever it takes.”

He glared at her dangerously, not all that fond of throwing his arms around her and holding on like a damsel in distress being saved by their prince charming or whatever, but he wasn't stupid. He knew better than to even attempt to stand when his vision is still graying out and he's already been on the verge of never waking up twice in the last however the f*** long they've been down there. If he conks out now, he's as good as dead.

Great, looks like he's sitting up after all. He couldn't help but sigh. “Push me up.”

Ashido complied, slowly raising his upper body towards herself so he could reach out and get a firm grip. He was sure at least one of his teeth had cracked by now with how much he'd been gritting them, but it was better than screaming and freaking his classmate out. He chanced a look at his injury, finding a sea of red and a mess of metal and flesh where his stomach was supposed to be. A surge of nausea hit him, and he could feel what could only be blood already spilling passed his lips without his consent.

Blast!?

Bakugou spat it all out and threw his arms around her neck with a little more force than necessary. “Stop losing your s*** every time I so much as cough and f***ing climb.”

He could her face harden where his own was pressed against it. Ashido took a deep breath, swallowing what was probably another sob, and shoved her right foot into a crevice. He felt the moment her right arm left his back and reached forward and instinctively tightened his grip around her with more strength than he realized he still had. Her legs shifted, finding footholds in the rocks and dirt, and she paused, taking a few calming breaths. She then lunged, reaching up and grabbing another hold before finding new placements for her feet and planting herself securely back onto the wall.

Bakugou had to admit that her current display of strength was commendable, hauling someone almost twice her weight and a little over twenty centimeters taller than her with one arm while using the other to scale a near ninety degree angle climb. Now, if it were him, it'd be a walk in the park, but mountain climbing is literally his favorite nonviolent pass time and his size alone in comparison to hers would make the job that much easier. That, and he's Bakugou f***ing Katsuki and he can do just about anything.

So yeah, he had to give it to her. This was impressive.

He didn't know how long he clung on like that, sucking in a breath every time she leaped for another crevice to grab to avoid yelling out. The higher she got, the less he could afford startling or distracting her, so he swallowed every scream and muffled every cough as she continued their ascension. Every bone in her face was set and locked in her hard concentration. He could hear her heart beating so wildly that he wondered if it would actually burst through her ribcage.

Below them, the slab of concrete they'd trekked on was now underwater, the waterfalls around them slowly losing steam and becoming closer to small spring rivers rather than the wannabe Niagara Falls they were before. Hopefully, the water would start to recede soon. It was still a lot of water, but it wasn't like the entire f***ing ocean had been dumped on them. There was only so much water, and the less there was, the higher the chances of a pro hero or one of their idiot classmates, whom he knows would be so reckless as to come looking, finding them.

There was a crashing sound, Ashido going rigid against the wall and tightening her grip on her newly discovered crevice despite the small trickle of blood flowing from her fingertips. A heavy rumble rocked the area, and the first thought that crossed his mind was another aftershock. He almost deflated in relief as the wall held strong, Ashido's grip remained steadfast, and the shaking never occurred. Somewhere behind him, he heard the walls falling apart and crashing both into the waters around them and being thrown just below them. He watched in awe as the stone and dirt directly under them fell apart and joined the rest of the debris now under them. Ashido whimpered, but held strong.

Everything settled back down, the ground under them having been built back up above the water's surface. He ignored the implications of where they'd be right now if Ashido were any slower or had chosen to just wait in the first place.

“You okay?” she asked quietly, actually being mindful of their proximity. He chose not to mention it and instead appreciate the low volume when her face is this close to his.

“Yeah...” he huffed, ignoring the pain starting to flare back up in his torso. “Yeah, you're doing good, Pink.”

He knew she'd hung out with him long enough to know that he didn't just hand out compliments or encouragement on a dime. He felt evidence of a hint of a smile by the movement of her jaw against his scalp.

The world jerked.

Bakugou didn't even notice Ashido scream directly in his ear, only feeling his own heart leap into his throat and his stomach lurch uncomfortably, impalement nearly forgotten. Ashido's grip on his legs tightened, irritating the puncture wound on his hip and forcing a grunt out of his throat, while her other hand practically dug into the rock it was clasped on. The painfully familiar cacophony of falling concrete and metal resonated throughout the entire area and left them both breathless.

The ground below them shifted, the walls tumbling into the water all around them, and Bakugou, with no enemy to fight and no reason to hide any and all forms of weakness, tightened his own grip around his classmate... friend(?) and dug his face against her nape. Ashido, in turn, let out a high pitch noise against her teeth and pressed them both against the wall.

“Please hold, please hold, please hold, pleaseholdpleaseholdpleasehold...” Ashido whispered to herself like a mantra, praying to whatever deity she may or may not believe in that they aren't about to be send hurdling to their deaths.

The other three idiots appeared in his mind's eye again, this time with a familiar hint of green somewhere in the mix. He didn't know if it was his life flashing before his eyes or all of his past wrongdoings slapping him in the face.

Ashido's shriek of unbridled terror stole the air from his lungs. “NO!!!

It was the second time that day that he'd felt momentarily weightless, as if gravity itself had turned off and left him in a state of suspended slow motion. All sound canceled out, surrounding him in eerie silence as every single regret he ever had in his life dug deep into his soul all at once. Ashido's face was frozen in despair as her arm launched up, having retracted from her hold breaking apart and leaving them at the mercy of their own gravity.

Her fingers tore into the dirt and time restarted, sending them plummeting back down to where they'd come from. Bakugou grunted as their fall was suddenly interrupted, Ashido getting a better grip and catching them against the wall. She broke right through, continuing their sudden descent as her hand continued to dig painfully into the side of the wall. Bakugou didn't even want to know what the acid quirk user's abused fingernails looked like right now.

He felt their momentum suddenly stop, nasty cracks resounding alongside Ashido's strangled yelp before the pinkette's hand slipped on her own blood and sent them free falling the rest of the way down. His head was suddenly shoved under her chin and his torso against her own as she shielded his mangled body against the inevitable impact that they were both bracing for.

He didn't remember much about the landing. Only the sensation being slammed into something, another loud crack, Ashido's scream, and then he was torn away from her, left careening towards what he could only think of as his final resting place.

He hit the ground a second time, all sound drowned out by the loud ringing in his ears and the indescribable agony coursing through his battered form. The air was knocked right out of him, leaving him breathless for a moment too long. Every second that passed where he couldn't breathe heightened his panic, and yet he was in a simultaneous state of stunned confusion, his body not cooperating with him and choosing not to move.

All movement stopped. It was far too quiet.


“Come on! Just a little bit farther!”

“I am one guy, Kirishima! Give me a sec!” Sero shouted, making sure that Kaminari had safely planted both feet on the roof before shooting another strand of tape to yank Kirishima over.

It was painfully slow, moving from roof to roof with Sero grappling ahead and having to stop and pull the other two over with him. The tape quirk user was honestly surprised that none of the pros had caught up with them by now and hauled them back.

Within the several minutes that they'd been out there, the sky had become overcast, leaving the sky a pale gray color that the warm breeze coming through did nothing to brighten. Kaminari grimaced. “It's not seriously about to rain, is it?”

“It's not suppose to.” Sero said as he ran along the roof with the other two towards his next jump.

“It better not! There's enough water out here as it is!”

Kirishima stayed disturbingly quiet the entire time, solely focused on not letting the spot where the plumb of smoke had risen from leave his sight. Sero had been forced to restrain him several times in the beginning of their journey to keep him from just trying to jump across on his own and plunging into the water. Of course, he couldn't really blame him, since both his oldest friend and his best friend were still missing.

Sero wasn't sure how he'd feel if something happened to either of them, and if logic was anything to go by, that was probably the case.

He wasn't even mad about the whole thing between Bakugou and Midoriya. At least, not anymore. Sure, he'd been disturbed and disappointed in him, but the more he thought about it, and the more he watched Kirishima treat Bakugou the same as he always had, the more he started to think that maybe straight up excommunicating the poor guy was a bit much. Especially over something that he couldn't exactly go back and rectify. You can't change the past, after all.

He'd be honest, as awful as Bakugou was to Midoriya back then, seeing him even remotely hurt by their reaction made him feel bad. The two of them had just gotten back on speaking terms and Blasty was just starting to open up to other people, and probably finally putting it passed them, and then suddenly he's back to square one without really wanting to be there anymore.

His other classmates may disagree with him, but Sero wholeheartedly believes that they could have handled the whole situation much better.

Now, as things would have it, he'd been planning on meeting up with Bakugou and Kirishima once they'd separated from their assigned groups and inevitably gravitated to each other, maybe to talk things out and start working towards getting things back to normal. Even if Kaminari and Ashido were still mad at him, Sero himself didn't exactly want to see the explosion quirk user be so miserable. Especially when the very person they were trying to defend was now mad at all of them for it. Clearly, Midoriya hadn't wanted to talk about it either, and it wasn't out of any sort of fear for his own safety.

What a mess.

And of course, mother nature apparently had other plans and Sero was not a fan.

“That's it! Right there!” Kirishima suddenly exclaimed, pointing towards the biggest sinkhole that Sero has ever seen in his life several buildings away. “They're down there somewhere!”

“Not good, man.” Kaminari said, concern lacing every word. “That's a lot of water and if they're pinned, then we got a problem.”

“Yeah. That's what I'm worried about.” Sero stated. “Whether or not Ashido could scale it is irrelevant. Bakugou can fly, and a**hole or not, he's not gonna just leave her there. They'd have made an appearance by now.”

“So...there's a good chance that...” Kirishima's voice trailed off as he bit his lip, his eyes glossy with unfallen tears. Sero couldn't imagine what he was going through compared to the rest of them.

“Hey, don't give up hope just yet.” Kaminari sighed, a hand on the redhead's shoulder. “We'll find them. You'll see.”

“We're wasting time.” Sero suddenly announced, feeling anxious about standing around too much longer. “We need to g-.”

The world jerked.

He heard a gasp from Kirishima and a yelp from Kaminari before he even realized what was happening, grabbing each one with his tape before holding onto a nearby pole and hoping that it doesn't fall as the structures around them shook and toppled over like dominoes. Even though the last aftershock had been way more powerful than this, there was no telling how long it would last or how much damage it would cause.

In the midst of the chaos, Kirishima's eyes snapped towards the sinkhole. “Ashido?

The shaking lasted for less than a minute, but every second they were stuck there waiting it out had felt like hours. Sero was now biting into his own lip hard enough to draw blood as he released his two friends and quickly surveyed the damage. Their pathway had been somewhat ruined, but thankfully, there were still enough sturdy rooftops to move on, though the numerous sinkholes had grown in size and they were still down a few buildings now.

Sero sighed shakily. “Guys, I th-”

“I heard Ashido!” Kirishima yelled, gesturing wildly at their destination. “I heard her scream! We have to hurry! Come on!”

“Hold your horses there, buddy!” Sero responded, taping his waist to keep him from jumping for it yet again. “I'll have us there in a minute or two tops, so give me a chance, will ya?!”

“Still, make it quick!” Kaminari shouted impatiently as Sero moved on to the next rooftop and started the process once more. About three houses down was a structure just teetering over the edge of the abyss, shielding that side from the tons of water roaring through. Even though it was receding, it was still deep enough that getting caught in it could mean death.

For the poor redhead's sake, Sero dragged him across even opening between buildings first, yanking him over so he could crash into the building and pull himself up, before moving on to Kaminari, who was lighter and could be pulled all the way across and caught in one go. The closer they got, the more anxious they became, until it hit a peak the moment Sero's feet hit the ruined structure looking over the edge. The sturdiness of the ground under him set him at least a tad bit at ease.

Even then, it didn't help much.


 

His fingers twitched, and slowly but surely, his lungs began to accept air again, leaving him sputtering and coughing from the rising dust around the newly fallen rubble. His vision was blurry and the edges had closed in even further, and for a moment, he wondered if this was actually it.

He felt pressure on his right hand, and he allowed his head to lull to the side to peer into a red-rimmed eye, far too dim for its owner. Ashido's other eye was forced shut by the stream of blood pouring the entire left side of her face. She forced herself to her knees, her back bent forward and red blotches blossoming on the sides of her shirt, and her only visible foot from his angle bent in the wrong direction. Her entire body was littered with cuts and bruises and her clothes were torn beyond repair.

And her right hand was in a whole different category of its own, her fingers swollen and already turning a deep, ugly dark purple. All of her nails were either partially or completely torn off and bleeding profusely. Considering how important his own hands were to his quirk, Bakugou couldn't help but cringe at the damage.

Ashido's voice sounded so far away that he couldn't quite understand what she was saying. He squinted up at her, trying to focus his vision as it once again began to swim. The tears began again, Ashido holding her good hand against her mouth and her hair casting a shadow over her eyes.

Something hurt and it had nothing to do with his injuries. He didn't like it. For a moment, he wondered if this really was actually it.

He didn't want to die.

But there was no way that Ashido could carry them both to safety in her current condition, with one limb out of commission and another on the verge of permanent damage. Maybe, just maybe, if she can handle it, and he knows she could power through it if she had to, she could haul her own a** up there and at least secure her own safety, and if there's even a ghost of a chance, get someone down there to get him as well.

He really didn't want to die.

“Ashido,” he spoke, though he could barely hear his own voice. “Go, while you still can. You can...get help... Leave me here.”

It was a childish notion, that knot twisting in his stomach even after the words had left his mouth, but he was far beyond denying his likelihood of survival at this point. Whether it was for that or the remaining anger and spite still churning in his mind and forcing his heart to beat was beyond him.

Or maybe, somewhere deep down in his dark, practically non-existent soul, there was an inkling of empathy for Ashido's thunderstruck expression and pathetic, voiceless wailing, as if she were, in some strange alternate reality, losing something unbelievably important.

Again, his mind wandered to red hair, side by side with green, two blinding grins and sparkling pairs of eyes, one that he found somewhat endearing and the other unbelievably annoying. There were images of four idiots, of red, pink, yellow and black, dragging him around on their stupid escapades with excitement and vigor as if he'd actually wanted to be there.

Who knows. Maybe he did.

There were other things too, like phone jacks and rosy cheeks. There were chopping movements and sweet things, frogs and birds, ponytails and regular tails and weirdly colored hair. There were too many teenagers crammed into one common room, laughing and crying and screaming and failing spectacularly at flirting, and there he was stuck somewhere in the middle of it, getting far to used to being surrounded by such imbeciles.

There was a dark spot, with a sleeping bad and a droning sound, and it felt safe. Somewhere far away, there was a light, an image that he wished he could one day reach and surpass. Another distant pang of guilt joined his melding pot of regrets.

He wondered if his mom and dad were okay.

His cheek suddenly hurt, as if his mother had actually reached over and smacked him. He wasn't sure when his vision had gone dark, but the world lit back up, revealing Black Eyes clutching the sides of his head, leaning her own in just a little too close and her lips moving wildly. He didn't particularly appreciate the feeling of her tears and the blood from her fingers running down his face, but he didn't have the strength left to brush them off or push her away.

Ashido suddenly jerked up, her head snapping up behind them, towards the ledge that they'd been trying to reach only moments ago. He couldn't see her face, but he'd never felt such a sudden rush of emotions that he couldn't even comprehend as when she started flailing her arms wildly and belting out screams loud enough to break through the fog of silence that had taken him.

They must have been found. Horns was going to be okay.

It had been a long time since he'd experienced this kind of euphoria.


 

The moment he was pulled across, Kirishima hit the ground running, skidding to a halt on his knees and overlooking the damage done. He yelled so loud that Sero's ears were ringing. “ASHIDO!! BAKUGOU!! ARE YOU THERE?! ANSWER ME!!!

Sero chose to focus on catching Kaminari up with them, the electricity quirk user already leaping off the roof and grabbing for the strand of tape shot his way. It was only a moment later as he was pulling his friend towards him that he heard it.

Kiri!!! Straight down!!! HURRY!!!

Kirishima leaned over as far as he could without falling right over, his eyes seemingly zeroing in on something before his shoulders went rigid, hardened fingers digging straight through the concrete.

What the s***!?” he mostly hissed to himself. “No way-, hold on-, that's not- F***!

He scrambled to his feet, his entire body hardening. “I'LL BE RIGHT THERE!!!

Kaminari's feet his the ground just as Sero spun around. “Kiri, don't you da-!”

And the redhead was already leaping off the side, plummeting hundreds of feet to the distant ground below, while Sero could barely look down far enough to see what was happening without risking losing his balance. He even had to pull Kaminari back when the idiot tried to.

“But we gotta get down there!” Kaminari shouted as a resounding crash announced the end of Kirishima's descent.

“Way ahead of you.” Sero tested the strength of the pole he'd shot tape around before grabbing onto Kaminari. “Hold on, and don't let go until you know for sure you won't break your legs.”


 

He struggled for another breath.

He'd been in life or death situations before, staring down dangerous foes and taking on injuries that would have killed lesser men, but whatever thoughts of death he'd had before now can go f*** themselves. This. This is what death felt like.

He didn't want to die, but...

What the h*** was he suppose to do about it when he could barely twitch his fingers and his lungs were refusing to cooperate?

Would they even miss him? Kiri would. Deku would, because he's an idiot. Raccoon Eyes clearly seemed to be upset for some reason. Maybe the others would be too.

But they're good people. Of course they'd be upset, even if he'd wronged them.

They'll be fine.

“Ashi-.” his body was suddenly racked with coughing, arching in its attempts to force air into his system. He barely registered Ashido's presence next to him. Somewhere nearby, he faintly felt something slamming straight into the ground with enough force to create a tremor. Someone had his hand in theirs, and he could only assume that it was the pinkette. When did it get so dark?

“Ashido...” he forced out. He could feel how weak his voice was, so he couldn't imagined how pathetic he sounded at the moment. But this was all he had and all the time he had left to do it in, so he could only be grateful that there was somebody there to listen, even if it wasn't the person who deserved to hear it the most.

“Sorry...for everything.”

There was a single moment where color reentered his vision, a blur of pink dominating his sight. He couldn't feel anymore, so he had no idea what was happening around him, but at least the pain in his stomach had been reduced to a light throb. As the color faded out as well, there was a flash of brilliant, familiar red, and for the first time since this whole ordeal started, he felt relaxed.

They'll be fine...

.

 

 

 

 

Someone was screaming.

Chapter Text

I can't find it!

 

The muffled echoes sound vaguely familiar. The ringing in his ears is dying down, and yet it's unbearably loud.

 

Are you sure?!

 

Is he-?

 

NO!

 

His entire existence is a single paradox. He feels warm, but he's so cold. He feels weightless, but so, so heavy. He's sinking and he's floating.

 

I will NOT let him die!

 

He's afraid, but he feels at ease.

 

This is the edge of the abyss.

 

Come back...

 

Clear!

 

There's a light in the darkness. Cackling energy in his numbed mind.

 

Expand, contract.

 

It's warm.

 

LET ME GO-!

 

Breathe, d***it!

 

Someone's coming, right?!

 

Someone is wailing in the distance. It's like a siren's call.

 

Expand, contract.

 

The light is warm. Electrifying.

 

Come back...

 

Please.

 

Who's there?

 

Clear!

 

What's his name again? He can't remember.

 

Expand, contract.

 

He feels sick.

 

Anything?

 

No!

 

He feels heavier. He latches onto that feeling.

 

I WILL NOT LET YOU DIE!

 

The nothingness becomes electric.

 

Come back...

 

Come back...

 

Come back...

 

I'm sorry.

 

Expand, contract.

 

I'm so sorry, so please.

 

The inky blackness explodes into white.

 

Don't go!

 

 

..

 

.

 


 

He doesn't remember that moment, when the light nearly blinded him and his chest burned as if it were on fire. He doesn't remember the hands on him either, grounding him and trying to hold him up from eternal slumber for as long as they had to. He doesn't remember a girl being pulled away, kicking and screaming and trying everything within the power of her broken body to return to his motionless side.

“He thinks that we hate him!”

He doesn't remember being mourned, nor does he remember being saved.

This is the edge of the abyss.

“He can't die thinking that we hate him! He can't!

He doesn't remember the shadow that was cast over him, long, silent, and tense, but so very calming. It feels familiar. It feels safe.

He feels heavier. He latches onto that feeling.

 

Come back...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will not die.

 


 

The world was still blindingly white.

He vaguely registered that he could move to a certain extent, remembering a previously paralyzed state somewhere in the back of his mind. His thoughts were a muddled mess of fuzzy images and smothered panic, muffled screaming and spiraling regrets. There was an irritating high pitched rhythm in his ears and whispering that sounded far too loud to his frazzled mind. For a moment, he noticed a pressure on his right hand. His vision began to return, revealing a distorted version of an unfamiliar world and three looming shadows, one unfamiliar and the other two safe and comforting.

It was far away, but it sounded like someone was calling his name.

The pressure in his hand tightened and he felt it being moved. His eyes(When had he opened his eyes?) slid over to the right, locking onto a tall, warm figure with brown spiky hair, and any panic that might have been lingering in the back of his mind subconsciously melted away. Looking back up, his eyes landed on a figure in black standing over him, exhaustion radiating from him like it was the very essence of his being.

A voice drawled out, the clearest thing he'd heard since he could remember. “Bakugou.”

“Hmm?”

There was a loud sob, but he kept eye contact with whom he realized was his teacher. Only now was the white world beginning to take shape, revealing white walls and sheets and moonlight shimmering through the large window on his left. Absentmindedly, he realized the rhythm was steady beeping and that there was some kind of mask hooked to his face.

He didn't have the energy to put every indication and conclusion together, but it was a no-brainer at this point that he was in a hospital.

Which meant that he was alive.

He's alive.

How the f*** .

“Rest, kid.” Aizawa said with a huff, and Bakugou vaguely noticed that the rhythm, a heart monitor, had sped up somewhat. “You've had a very trying time of it. I promise I will fill you in on everything that's happened once you've regained some strength.”

He whispered something to the third person, some lady with pale green hair in a bob cut and dead fish eyes that he didn't recognize, and the two of them promptly made their exit, leaving Bakugou with his thoughts and his overemotional father.

Lovely.

Katsuki...” his father whimpered, and if Bakugou had the lung capacity for it, he'd be groaning in complete and utter annoyance. Masaru's hand tightened around his, and his face was already embarrassingly red and puffy. The man always did wear his heart on his sleeve.

Thank goodness.” Masaru removed his glasses, rubbing at his face as if there was anything to hide at this point. “We were so scared. I- I...

His father completely broke down, practically crushing his hand and shoving it against his face. As gross as it was, for some reason, he didn't have it in him to pull away. If anyone asked, he'd blame his current exhaustion.

“Calm down, old geezer.” he rasped, his voice raw from lack of use. Masaru only seemed to cry harder.

How long had he been out? The possibilities made him blanch.

“Hey, easy kiddo.” he heard his father say above his heart monitor. “Everything's fine now. Nothing to worry about.” He let out a strained laugh. “Though I'm not really helping any, am I?”

Bakugou's immediate reaction was to glare at him. Masaru's smile was only that of utter relief.

“I'm so glad you're okay, Katsuki.”

Masaru jumped and Bakugou's heart monitor skyrocketed when there was screaming heard down the hall, an incoming hurricane tearing down the halls with no remorse for any living being standing in its way. Recognition crossed his father's features first, Bakugou's own mind still lagging a bit behind, and Masaru's face seemed to carry a myriad of emotions that he couldn't name, some of remorse and others the most resolute that he'd ever seen him. He eventually chose quiet understanding.

Bakugou winced from the loud, resounding bang of the door being swung open with enough force to nearly snap off its hinges. It didn't take rocket science to figure out who it was when he could very clearly hear her heavy breathing despite the ringing in his ears and she was stomping over to them so violently.

Nothing could have prepared him for the moment that he made eye contact with his mother.

An identical pair of red irises were staring down at him, wide, angry, and polluted with a typhoon of emotions that put his father's own to shame. It left her with a bizarre expression, intense in its uncertainty with wide eyes decorated with red veins and matching irritated skin. It was the oldest that she'd ever looked.

He'd heard quite a few sobs over the last however long all this bulls*** had been going for, but never in all of his life had he ever heard one crawl out of that woman's throat. “D***it... D*** it all...

It was easily one of the weirdest experiences he'd ever had with the old hag, her hesitating a moment before slowly carting her fingers through his hair. Coddling just wasn't her thing. This unfamiliar gentleness was foreign territory for both of them, their language of 'love' or whatever it was being that of raised voices and abrasive physical contact. If she was soft with him, he'd usually just be offended. If he was kind towards her, she'd be extremely concerned.

Not to say that they didn't have issues, because even a blind person could see that, but even in the rough patches, they'd decipher it eventually.

Usually.

“Just go die in a gutter somewhere and leave me alone, d***it!!”

“Choke on a d*** and croak, hag! I'll be there to dance on your ashes!”

Ah. Right. Except for the last time they'd spoken.

Because the last time he told someone to kill themselves definitely didn't weigh on his conscience.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by a pressure against his forehead, looking up to see the hag's face pressed in way too close to his for comfort. Any other scenario and he might be tempted to reach over and smack her himself, consequences be d***ed.

He could hear her grinding her teeth, and he couldn't thank his lucky f***ing stars more that she was holding her tears back. Her voice was raw, tone harsh. “I'm sorry, okay? I am so f***ing sorry.”

She gasped, continuing to wage war with her emotions like the tyrannical b**** he knew and begrudgingly loved somewhere in his cold, dead heart. “You may be a punka** brat, but you're my punka** brat, and I'd lose my f***ing mind if I had to live the rest of my d*** life with the fact that my last words to you were literally to kill yourself.”

“Make it easier for both of us and go throw yourself into traffic!”

It was jarring, seeing one of the strongest, most immovable walls in his life slowly begin to crumble before his very eyes. It only served to bring his mind back to a screeching halt, even as she quickly turned away and threw an arm over her eyes to keep herself under control. He didn't know how to feel about it.

He one hundred percent blamed it on his muddled senses and fuzzy mind, but with this unexpected show of a more commonly accepted form of familial love, he had the sudden urge to throw her for a loop in return. An eye for an eye, you could say.

“I'm sorry, too.”

The look she gave him was priceless, completely caught off guard and unable to comprehend it. MitsukiBakugou.exe has stopped working.

His eyes must have drooped, because his father was ruffling his hair a moment later. “Go ahead and sleep, son. You must be exhausted.”

“'M fine.” he responded on reflex, his father chuckling and mother huffing in exasperation before he found himself drifting back into a dreamless sleep.


 

The second time he woke up, he was greeted by the dead eyed lady from before checking his vitals.

“I have a name, you know.” she snarked, proudly showing off her name tag with 'Dr. Katakaru Ren, Ph.D.' plastered on it.

“Whatever you say Fish Eyes.” he slurred, already teetering dangerously on the edge of consciousness.

She snorted. “Man, you remind me of my own son. About your age, too. Kid's studying to be a paramedic, something about being a hero for those d*** heroes or something inspiring like that. I couldn't be more proud, but I get the feeling that you couldn't care less, huh?”

He got the feeling that he'd like this lady a lot more than other medical personnel he and his idiot classmates had been forced to deal with in the past.

“Alright, you're safe to pass out now. Be ready to wake up to more visitors in the future. Quite a few people have been clambering to see you.”

It irritated him just how easily he fell asleep only moments after.


 

Waking up this time was blissfully forgiving. Despite the fact that the underlying exhaustion was still present, he was more aware than he'd been at any point since the ground had first given out from under his feet. The fact that he could remember that moment so clearly was not as blissful, nor could that be normal. Questions for later.

He still didn't know how he survived, though. More questions for later.

Even with his mind coming back together the way it was suppose to be, he still woke up slowly, a dull ache throbbing in the back of his head and reminding him that his body wasn't in the mood to deal with any of his s*** right now. The first sight he noticed were bright, vibrant colors surrounding him before he focused his vision, noticed that the pressure in his hand had returned, and realization couldn't have crashed into him any harder.

He was surrounded by the sleeping idiot parade, haphazardly scattered around the room and all completely out cold from the looks of it. Over by the window, displaying a picturesque sunset of oranges and pinks and giving the room an orange-ish hue, Sero had draped himself over the large chair sitting beside it in what was arguably the most comfortable position one could find in the uncomfortable hospital furniture. On a small couch directly next to it, Kaminari was practically out cold, sprawled over it awkwardly with his limbs hung around in strange positions and drool pooling on the floor just under his face.

Directly to his left, his eyes fell on a mass of pink, Ashido's head face down on the side of his bed and motionless. Her left hand was tightly wrapped around his, her right bound tightly in light bandages. She was sitting in a wheelchair, though she seemed to be doing a lot better than the last time he'd seen her, her foot made useless and hand nearly destroyed. There were definitely other minor injuries that must have already been healed before now. He turned to the right, finding Kirishima upright and asleep in the seat his father had been in, arms crossed and head against the side. From the looks of it, other than Ashido, none of them showed signs of any previous injury.

More color caught his attention, his line of sight reaching a clusterf*** of ugly bouquets and overly colorful cards, some more painful to look at than others. One bouquet was an embarrassing mix of too many different kinds of flowers and looked as if a unicorn threw up on it, while another one looked relatively well put together, mostly made up of roses. A couple of the cards were hand drawn and looked as if they'd been made by small children, with stupid stick people drawings and hearts and stars. A small stack of wrapped gifts were also there, placed explicitly to be easily spotted amongst the mess of...whatever bizarre show of something or other that was being made here, because who the h*** would bring him stuff? The first thought that came to mind was his class, but that just didn't seem right.

He heard a whimper and was startled by the feeling of someone trying to break his fingers.

He turned back to his left, finding Ashido twitching and squirming in her sleep. His brows furrowed, concerned about what exactly might be happening behind those eyelids. She did see a lot of the same things he did.

“Black Eyes.” he whispered, lightly moving his hand. Ashido whimpered louder, yanking his hand towards her and earning a surprised grunt.

“No...” she whined, her other hand digging into the side of the bed with a concerning sizzle. Bakugou cringed from the memory of her bloody, dark purple fingers.

Black Eyes.” he tried again, but to no avail. In fact, she looked like she was about to cry. He grit his teeth, heavily tempted to just shove her over and scare her awake, because he'd had his fair share of nightmares in the past and he understood.

And yet she continued to writhe.

He'd never wanted this. This whole 'friends' thing had never been on his radar. He shouldn't be here. He should be training, angry with the world and annoyed with anyone who even looked at him. This group of weirdos, this squad of morons who kept following him around and trying to worm their way into his life, were never suppose to be a part of the equation.

He never signed up for this. He was drafted, d***it!

And yet, wasn't it the perfect karma? To finally have the one thing he never thought he even wanted only to have it torn away from him in a way that only hurt himself?

A**holes.

“Ashido.” he spoke a little louder.

A part of him was glad that he wouldn't have to send her to the ground after all. She visibly jumped, her eyes wild and unseeing. Bakugou hissed, feeling the burn of acid against his skin and yanking his hand away to avoid more damage. Thankfully, it didn't look too bad.

Ashido breathed out harshly, allowing tears to roll down her face as she stared down at her hands with a distant look. She bit her lip and stayed silent, and even though she wasn't looking at him, he could tell that there was something before her eyes that was haunting her.

It happens when you face death. He's probably gonna deal with a few nightmares of his own in the near future.

Her eyes traveled to Kirishima, still fast asleep on the other side of the bed. Ashido smiled fondly at him, like an older sister to her little brother, and let out a sigh, turning around to look over at the other two idiots still passed out in the corner.

'Her boys', as she loved to call them for some reason. It drove him up the wall for a long time, but that only made it more prominent, just as it had with 'Bakusquad', so there was nothing he could really do about it. He hated the fact that he eventually got used to it and simply tolerated her, and hated what that said about him even more.

He wasn't sure what he was expecting to happen when she finally noticed him. Perhaps acknowledgment, an understanding that they'd been to h*** and back and could now walk away without any overlying hatred. Perhaps things could be easier from here. Ultimately, whatever he was expecting, he wasn't sure how to interpret her frozen state, wide eyed and left in stunned silence.

He wasn't expecting her to completely fall apart.

“Dynamite?” her voice wavered heavily, entire waterfalls pouring from her eyes and her hands shaking. Bakugou was really getting sick of all this sobbing and crying.

“Dynamite...” she repeated a good octave higher, rolling her wheelchair and pushing herself as close to him as possible. He flinched when she practically threw herself on top of him, burying her face into his chest and letting out a high pitch whine.

“Oi,” he growled, his own voice still somewhat raw. “The h*** do you think you're doing? Get off me!”

She only held on tighter, rubbing her face against him like a cat and getting tear stains all over his scrubs. Bakugou tried wrestling her off, but he wasn't anywhere near full strength and Ashido is already a strong girl, so she wasn't budging. “F***ing, Ashido-!

“I'm so sorry.”

He stopped and stared at her.

“I'm so, so sorry.” she hiccuped. “I... You're a hero, okay? You're a hero already and you're gonna be amazing when we all graduate together alive and well and I...”

He grunted in discomfort when she squeezed tighter. “I thought you were gone forever, Blasty. I thought you were gone and I was so scared that I was never gonna see you again. Listen to me, you gotta believe me when I say it. We don't hate you, okay? We don't. We can't hate you and we never will.”

She finally removed herself, settling back onto her wheelchair and violently rubbing at her reddened eyes. Bakugou was still staring at her with a cocked eyebrow by the time she looked back.

“What!? It's true! Listen, I was a bad friend, okay? It was wrong of me to be so mean when you don't do that stuff anymore. You do know that stuff you did was really wrong, don't you?”

He looked away instinctively, which was honestly all the answer that Ashido needed. “I've...had a long time to think about things...and get yelled at by Midoriya. When I found out about back then, about all those things you did, I was...I felt really betrayed, like I didn't even know you. I was trying to do what I thought was right and all I did was hurt my friends.”

She sniffled. “I realized that...that the person that I didn't know was gone a long time ago... Kiri was right. You're not like that anymore.”

Bakugou simply hummed in response, choosing to stare at the ceiling rather than her face. “I would have admitted to it eventually.”

“I know. Midoriya told me that.” Ashido responded somewhat guiltily. “He was really mad.”

“It's our business. It's our history for us to figure out, so just stay out of it from now on.”

“I will... I promise.”

“Good.” Bakugou spared a glance at her, watching as she wrung her hands nervously. “I'm not mad, by the way.”

Her eyes shot up to his. “You're not?”

He snorted. “Honestly, this whole thing seemed like one giant act of karma for years of torment. I've had it coming for years.”

“You don't deserve to hurt, though.”

“Don't I, though?”

No!” she yelled, slamming her fist onto a small nightstand. “You don't deserve to suffer!”

Bakugou glared at her incredulously, which only made Ashido angrier. “No! You're not allowed to think that way! And I'm gonna spend the rest of our high school days beating those thoughts out of your head, got it?”

“Read my lips.”

Her eyes were practically glowing with determination, glaring daggers right through him like a knife through butter, and Bakugou found himself having flashbacks of a day that seemed like yesterday, when he and an old friend turned enemy turned rival sat on a bench and the boy, once weak and now strong, stared right into his soul and declared the one thing that he wanted to believe more than anything else.

“You are not a villain.”

“Do what you want, Horns.”

Ashido smiled. “I will, thanks.”

There was a loud snort, both teens turning to see the redheaded sunshine boy waking from his slumber. He rubbed at his eyes sleepily, stretching his arms out and arching his back as he rose to a straighter position. “What time is it?” he yawned.

“Sun just set, Kiri.” Ashido responded, her smile apparent in her voice.

“Wow,” Kirishima mused, turning to her. “We've been here for a pretty long ti-... F***ING H***, DUDE!!”

There was a surprised yelp and a thud from the other side of the room as Kirishima leaped up and Bakugou found himself enveloped in another giant bear hug. “You can't do that to me, man, you hear me!? You scared the everliving s*** out of me! I thought we lost you!”

“Cut that out, Weird Hair!” he yelled, weakly shoving a simultaneously laughing and crying Kirishima off of his body while another commotion could be heard on the other side of the room.

Kaminari suddenly appeared, leaping over and landing in some kind of strange pose, pointing at him dramatically. He couldn't help but notice the pinpricks of tears at the edges of his eyes. “A**hole!

Bakugou just glared back deadpan. “What's new?”

Sero's snort from the side sounded wet with emotion. Kaminari stomped his foot like a child throwing a temper tantrum as a couple tears escaped. “No! Don't even! You can't do that to me, man! Don't you dare think that you can just get away with scaring me like that, bro! I'm gonna have nightmares for weeks now, thanks to you! Jacka**! A**hat! You're an a**!

“Okay, chill, Kami.” Sero said coolly, though the crack of emotion was still present. “The guy just got back. Give him a break.”

While Kaminari was still fuming, Kirishima started rummaging through the stuff scattered across the dresser to his right. “Dude, you gotta see all this stuff, yeah? The entire class came together and made it for you!”

“Oh yeah!” Kaminari suddenly perked up. “Wait until you see Yaomomo's! She went all out!”

“Ojiro's is also pretty nice.” Sero commented, permanent grin present but eyes somewhat watery. “And I don't know about you, but Midoriya's looked great. I think he and Yaoyorozu also designed the rose bouquet.”

“Don't think you're off the hook, though!” Kaminari suddenly shouted, though no one paid him much mind, Kirishima practically tossing cards into Bakugou's lap, Sero looking at the gifts with interest, and Ashido watching on with the most relaxed expression he'd ever seen on her.

It was the usual chaos, the kind of friendly banter that he'd been forced to become accustom to before it was suddenly pulled out from under him, and whether he wanted it or not, he found himself resigning to this return to normal that he would never, ever admit that he'd missed.


 

“You died.”

There was no beating around the bush. No sugarcoating it. No fooling around, because Aizawa would always be blunt.

He'd stopped breathing. His heart stopped beating.

He died.

Aizawa's expression was grim. “You were clinically dead for approximately three to four minutes, and considering your injuries at the time, resuscitation should not have been possible. You are living on borrowed time.”

Bakugou stared absentmindedly at the heart monitor, displaying a strong, steady beat being held behind his ribs. Even with the oxygen mask no longer attached to his face, air entered his lungs as if it were still second nature. His body continued on like normal. Bakugou looked back at his teacher. “How long was I out?”

Aizawa sighed. “On life support, six days. Off of it, eight and a half, give or take. Today is your sixteenth in the hospital. In all honesty, the doctors are astonished that you recovered so quickly, even with Recovery Girl's assistance. They weren't sure if you were going to wake up at all. Any other questions?”

Bakugou remained uncharacteristically quiet, trying and failing to comprehend what he was being told. There was something about apparently dying that made his stomach twist uncomfortably. He hated the thought of losing for good so soon, when he still had his goals to fulfill and an entire lifetime of heroism to experience. He still had to become the number one hero to even surpass All Might.

He took a long, quiet breath. “How did they bring me back?”

Aizawa was quiet for a long moment. He closed his eyes before turning to the window, avoiding eye contact. “They didn't.”

“Wait, what?”

“Don't misunderstand. I said they didn't.” Aizawa said, again closing his eyes. “You were ultimately saved by Kaminari.”

Bakugou's eyebrows shot up as Aizawa continued. “Your vitals disappeared before we found you all. Kirishima attempted CPR, but it was proving to be ineffective and according to what I was told, Kaminari had shoved him away and proceeded to use his quirk as a defibrillator. It was risky, considering just how much electricity runs through his body, but I personally don't blame him for it. It was the best and arguably only option at the time and despite the odds, he was successful. You were breathing, albeit with difficulty, by the time we reached you.”

Well... Sparky's outburst suddenly made a bit more sense.

Aizawa let out another sigh. “Either way, I've taken enough of your time. You have more visitors, anyway. Don't strain yourself and be prepared to sit out of heroics classes for a while after you've returned to the dorms.”

Aizawa turned to leave abruptly, leaving Bakugou to continue reeling from all of these revelations and try to comprehend everything that happened. His teacher stopped just short of the door, hand wrapped tightly around the doorknob. “Bakugou.”

Bakugou watched him, silence as his indication of undivided attention. The pro hero huffed. “I'm glad you're alright.”

And with that, he opened the door and disappeared. Bakugou didn't even have five seconds to collect his thoughts into something even resembling understanding before the electric quirk user himself leaped through the doorway and landed in the same weird pose, pointing at him dramatically. “A**! Hole!

“I feel like we've already done this song and dance.” Sero chuckled from behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder to keep him grounded.

Kirishima and Ashido were close behind, Ashido already looking healed and ready to walk right out of the hospital then and there. Recovery Girl must have finally healed her after dealing with the more severe cases, like himself.

A green mop appeared in the doorway.

Bakugou and Deku made eye contact almost instantly, the latter looking leagues better than the mangled form he'd found in that building and about three seconds away from bursting into tears, and knowing him, it would be enough to flood the building out. Bakugou was not proud to admit that he jumped when the nerd suddenly ran at him, his entire body seizing when he lurched forward and threw his arms around him with a bit more force than he must have intended.

“What the f***, Deku!? Get off!” came the knee jerk response.

“No!”

“What do you mean, no!?”

“Just let me have this, Kacchan! I've had a very bad last two weeks and I need a moment!”

“I don't give two f***s, Deku! And I can't f***ing breathe!”

The nerd somewhat loosened his grip at that, but still wouldn't release him. Bakugou lost track of the string of curses flying out of his mouth as his hands ignited and he flailed uselessly in Deku's unyielding hold. Kirishima and Sero could be heard laughing hysterically from wherever they were standing in the room, but Ashido and Kaminari, despite their excitable personalities, remained strangely quiet.

As did the fourteen other people now crammed into the room with them.

Bakugou paused, Deku taking the opportunity to get a better grip on him like the leech he was and shamelessly shove his face into his shoulder, and stared at their new company with guarded confusion. Round Face was glaring at her own feet as if they'd seriously offended her, one hand balled into a fist and the other clutching the sleeve of a blank faced Half n' Half's shirt. Froggy had her hand on Round Face's shoulder while Bird Brain hid somewhere in the back of the crowd. The grape stain scurried through the see of people over to where Sparky was, a melon in his arms for some reason, and Earlobes following behind and doing everything in her power to not look at anyone other than the electric quirk user. Everyone else was pushing passed one another to surround his bedside, his own shoulders tensing up in response to the close proximity.

“It's been a long time, Bakugou!” Four Eyes exclaimed, a certain amount of sadness well hidden in his voice. “We heard that you were awake and we all wished to come see you! I do hope you at least appreciated the gifts, even if you might not have liked them!”

Ponytail spoke up, holding up a large basket and Big Lips shouldering two identical ones. “We hope you don't mind if we brought more. We all went shopping and picked up a few trinkets that reminded us of you. Consider them peace offerings, perhaps?”

“I've also spent all morning baking!” Big Lips announced proudly. “Midoriya, Uraraka, Kirishima, and Yaoyorozu helped out the most, though the others would also help sometimes. I made sure they didn't mess anything up.”

“D...Deku told us what kind of things you liked.” Round Face said quietly. The thought that her timidness didn't suit her was immediately crushed underfoot. “There's a lot of cinnamon and mint stuff in there.”

Dunce Face spoke up from the side. “Dude, Jirou says that she got a playlist together for you in case you get bored! She hopes you like it!”

The chatter started back up, most of the group excitedly talking about every little goody that they'd brought with them while the quieter ones simply watched. Deku finally let go, taking the seat to his right while Kirishima stood vigilantly to his left.

And Bakugou continued to stare at all of them as if a group of strangers had just offered to take him to Narnia. “Now wait a minute.”

The chattering continued, the more excitable members of class 1-A only getting louder as the volume continued to rise. Four Eyes was yelling at them to stop talking so loudly while everyone else watched the chaos in silent content. “I said wait a minute! OI!!

Everyone shut up instantly, all eyes on him. Deku flinched from the volume while Kirishima watched in silence. Bakugou huffed loudly. “What the f*** is all this, huh?”

Silence continued. Bakugou let out a long sigh. “I don't know what you're trying to do, but you can just drop it. I don't need your pity, I don't need your formalities, and I certainly don't need your scrutiny.”

Uniform deflated, her sleeves wrapped around Tail's arm. “But we wanted to see you. We were worried.”

“But why? I'm the bad guy, remember?”

You could have cut the atmosphere in the room with a knife, it was so thick with tension. Bakugou attempted eye contact with several of them, but they'd almost always turn away. He found it unbelievably irritating, his blood rising to a boil. “Well? Say something you cowards! If you hate me, then stop pretending like everything's fine! Just say it and leave!”

“We wanted to apologize.”

Sharp red eyes immediately met with stoic, yet soft heterochromatic. Icyhot's face remained neutral, but there was a weirdly evident droop in his shoulders that had Bakugou raising an eyebrow at the dual quirk user. Round face was still clinging to his sleeve.

“You scared everyone, you know. We didn't know whether or not you would survive until a week after, and even then, they still weren't very clear on if you'd wake up.” Todoroki took a deep breath, no obvious emotion clear on his face. No regret, no disgust, not even embarrassment. “We had a lot of time to think and for me personally, I realized that in my anger towards what happened between you and Midoriya in middle school, I both invaded Midoriya's privacy and completely disregarded any positive progress made between you and I, labeling you as a monster. After considering everything that's happened between us from the day we met until now, I no longer see how that's fair.”

“The h*** are you talking about?” Bakugou snapped. “It's not like it wasn't true. I did do all of those things. How's paying for it not fair?”

Froggy was the next person brave enough to meet his eyes. “So you knew that it was wrong.”

Bakugou stared at the frog incredulously as she stepped forward. “That's where the problem is, I think. You already knew it was wrong, so you've obviously changed. You may not be innocent, but it was still in the past and you two are trying to do something about it. Midoriya didn't need us butting into his private life like that and making him uncomfortable, and you didn't need to have your own efforts to put it behind you thrown back in your face. Friends don't do that.”

Earlobes sighed, still not looking at him. “You're not the person that beat kids up for bumping into him in the hallway. You're the person who went out of his way to save me and let me help in a huge heroics exercise instead of taking all the glory and sacrificed his time to help me put a band together for the cultural festival.”

“If I may add on that subject,” Bird Brain spoke up. “Though your instructions weren't always clear, your suggestions for my playing in that show were extremely helpful. It's a small thing, I would think that your old self would have given up on us and walked out. In fact, you wouldn't have even agreed to it in the first place. ”

“Yeah man!” Sparky yelled. “It may not have been saving the world, but actions scream louder than words!”

“Don't you mean speak?” Earlobes asked.

“Dude, it's Bakugou. Everything's loud.”

“Okay, true.”

“May I also say something?” Ponytail spoke up. “Ashido's and Midoriya's accounts of what happened also paint you in a very heroic light. You were the one who rescued Midoriya from that building, both him and that girl, and even though it was a risk to your own safety, you ran back in after Ashido without a second thought. That doesn't seem like very villainous behavior to me.”

Murmurs of agreement flooded the room as Iida stepped forward. “I think our intent is now clear, so if I may, I, Tenya Iida, as the class representative of U.A.'s class 1-A, would like to humbly apologize for our actions towards you and hope that we can both make amends and return to our journey of becoming better friends, heroes, and people together.”

The idiot actually bowed, leaving Bakugou in stunned silence, as everyone else followed with a wave of individual apologies that had his head spinning. A large part of him wanted to lash out, unfamiliar and unnerved by the show of affection he was experiencing. What was he suppose to say to this? How was he suppose to react?

Why weren't they afraid? Why didn't they hate him? Were they stupid?

Why didn't he hate them? Was he stupid?

Was he going soft?

“Bakugou?” He hated how small Round Face's voice sounded right now. This isn't the girl he fought at the sports festival at all!

Pink Cheeks approached his bedside, standing awkwardly next to where Deku was still sitting, now with the dumbest s***-eating grin he'd ever seen on him. Both of her hands were balled into fist, her eyes slowly coming back to life with a roar of fire that he found himself preferring over the dull, lifeless ones from earlier and determination taking over her expression.

“Bakugou.” Her voice was still quiet, but a thousand times stronger than it was. “When you're all better and all of this blows over, is it okay if we spar? I learned some new moves and I want to see what you think.”

“Oh, dude, can I come?” Kirishima's eyes were as bright as the sun. “That's sounds like a party!”

“Me too! Me too!” Raccoon Eyes squealed.

“I would also like to participate.” Half n' Half said deadpan.

“Hey now, don't everybody all sign up at once!” Sero laughed. “Next thing you know, the whole class is gonna show up and it'll just be like another sparring session in heroics class!”

The class's excited chattering started right back up again, leaving Bakugou to remain in his stupor. He felt Kirishima patting his back a little too hard, but he didn't have it in him to yell at him for it.

H***, he didn't have it in him to yell at any of them at the moment, because this is the first time he's experienced a show of affection as a show of affection and after leaving them on such a nasty note, after all of this bulls***, every single one of them is willing to let it go and start in a new light.

He wants to be mad at them. He really does. In fact, he feels like he should be mad at them, but he can't, because there's too big a part of him that's just relieved that there are this many people that now both know the true about who he once was and don't wish the worst for him, and everything can go back to normal. This shouldn't be possible. It doesn't make any sense. He can't comprehend it. He deserves... He deserves...

...What does he deserve?

D***it, he really is going soft.

He remained quiet, watching his company with unseeing eyes as they settled everything down, organizing their gifts around the room and setting up small decorations that they'd found for him, like cheesy little bomb stickers or the odd All might poster. They even had a small wallpaper designed with elements from his hero costume, definitely the work of Ponytail with designing tips from others, and he's not gonna lie, it looks bada** as f***. That thing's going in his dorm room. He watched in silence, eyes covered in shadow, and sighed.

Kaminari appeared in his peripheral. “Dude, are you about to cry or something?”

“...SHUT THE F*** UP, SPARKY!!!”

The explosion wasn't that big(they're in a d*** hospital), but it was enough for Dunce Face to be simultaneously laughing and screaming as he threw himself onto the uncomfortable hospital couch for cover and sent it tipping right over, throwing him back onto the floor. Kirishima, Sero, Ashido, Earlobes, and the Grape were all laughing hysterically while everyone else just watched in fond exasperation, except for Four Eyes who yelled at them for something about misconduct.

And Bakugou huffed in annoyance, even if it was all for show, because f*** that guy for outing him like that. The group continued on with their antics until Aizawa finally came back to kick them out, another nurse, probably not Fish Eyes, ranting about multiple noise complaints from neighboring patients that very few of them could care less about. They left with promises of normalcy, to go on like nothing happened, and ignore this snag in the road, and in all honesty, Bakugou couldn't really ask for more. He couldn't even fathom how he'd gotten to this point, this moment where it seemed safe to say that everything really was going to be okay, nor could quite convince himself that he deserved such a happy ending. And yet, here he was.

What a time to be alive.

Chapter Text

He was frozen there, knuckles hovering inches from the door and other hand held tightly in a fist at his side. In all honesty, he couldn't explain why he was so nervous or truly understand the contradicting emotions swirling around in his stomach and making him feel nauseous, but running away would really unmanly of him, wouldn't it?

Kirishima had been at a loss for words. It had been such a sudden shift, watching as the class went from their usual antics to a witch hunt in a matter of hours. If he'd known exactly what Bakugou's anger would lead to this time around, he would have put a lot more effort into calming him down. Even within the squad, he knew how to work with him better than anyone. He understood his unique language and was confident in his ability to communicate with him effectively and translate when others were floored.

So maybe this was his fault, in a sense, choosing to leave him alone even when a fuse had obviously been lit.

The argument between Bakugou and Midoriya that afternoon had been one of the most intense things that he'd ever witnessed. Bakugou in a screaming match was one thing, but he'd never, ever heard Midoriya yell like that before; had never seen him that angry before. He didn't even realize that the guy could yell at people, so seeing him lose it like that was more than a little startling.

Now, he'd known about their history to some degree. In the privacy of their dorm rooms, when he felt just a little more open or was having a rough night and needed to talk, Bakugou had given him a small glimpse into their shared past and his, lets be honest, horrendous actions towards his childhood friend, but he now realized that he'd never been told him the true extent of the torment.

After Midoriya's little slip of the tongue, their classmates were relentless in pulling every single gritty detail of their middle school days from Midoriya's memory as they could possibly manage, and Kirishima's heart broke as his friend wept like a small child, flinching at every attempt at consoling that any of his friends tried. Kirishima now wondered how they'd all been blind to the way that Midoriya had been cowering from them.

He hadn't completely understood why at the time, but seeing the look on Bakugou's face when the rest of the class silently turned against him made his heart absolutely shatter. No matter how hard the hot head tried to hide it, Kirishima knew him and he'd looked in the mirror enough times in his life to know what pain looked like.

He didn't fully understand until he came across Midoriya not long after, alone in one of the gym rooms surrounded by destroyed work out equipment. Kirishima watched silently as the freckled boy plowed his fist right through another punching bag, yanking it out in an explosion of debris with an uncharacteristically unreadable expression.

“Bro, you good?” Kirishima asked carefully, wary of Midoriya's current state of mind. Angry Bakugou, he can deal with. It's familiar. Angry Midoriya is the definition of the unknown and Kirishima really doesn't feel like dying today.

Midoriya stood there in silence, glaring at the ruined equipment in front of him as if it seriously offended him and shaking with uncontrollable emotion. Kirishima felt his skin crawl as the quietness continued to stretch on between them, and suddenly, he almost felt as if he was intruding on something unfathomably personal.

“I was so close.” Midoriya finally whispered, his voice dripping with frustration.

Kirishima tilted his head, and Midoriya took that as an invitation to continue. “We were this close. We were finally fixing things, making amendments and moving on.”

Midoriya began to slowly pace around the room, staring holes into the floors. “We were hanging out more, training together, talking like civilized heroes in training, maybe even like friends if I want to be self indulgent about it, just like how I'd always dreamed of when we were kids, and then...”

Kirishima felt a chill run down his spine as Midoriya suddenly looked back at him, tears freely running down his face. “Do you all honestly believe that I'm afraid of him anymore? Get it through your heads. I. Caught. Up.

It was like a dam broke, a sob escaping Midoriya's lips as he sank to his knees and rubbed violently at his eyes. “We promised each other to stay quiet. To wait until we were both ready to tell you guys the truth.” he said through his hiccups. “He never said it out loud, but I knew he was worried about how you guys would react.”

He suddenly leaped up in a burst of motion, startling Kirishima as he began to pace more frantically. “He didn't have to say it. I could tell! Anytime it was brought up, he'd say something like, 'Black Eyes absolutely hates that s***' or 'your little nerd squad would actually curse my bloodline' or even 'wouldn't want anyone to think I was unmanly or anything'. I know him! If he didn't care, he wouldn't waste his breath on it!”

The poor dumbbell left in Midoriya's path got punted into the wall as green energy crackled dangerously around his body. “You guys didn't have the right to know! We weren't ready, d***it! Neither of us were ready and I-...”

He stopped. “I...”

“Midoriya?”

“...I did this.”

Kirishima finally found it in himself to move, running over and holding his classmate up as his knees buckled and gave out from under him. “I broke our promise. I messed up and now he's paying for it.” Midoriya buried his face into Kirishima's shoulder, soaking his shirt. “I hurt him, Kirishima.”

The redhead had been at a loss as to how he was suppose to comfort his friend as he continued to cry into his shoulder, still shaking with now obvious frustration and guilt. It would be later that he would realize why he was so hesitant in that situation, realizing that it didn't matter that he hadn't been actively involved in probing the poor guy and then attacking the person he might have even been trying to protect in the process. Kirishima hadn't put an effort into invading their privacy.

But what had he done to stop it? Looking back at his middle school days, it was exactly what he'd always done. Absolutely f*** all.

So now here he was, standing still as a statue in front of the blonde's door and making an a** out of himself. What was he suppose to say to him? 'Hey man, it sure is a real shame that all the people that you've learned to at least tolerate now hate you and I did jack s*** to defend you even though we're suppose to be besties. Sorry about that!' It left a sour taste in his mouth. The idea of apologizing for it at all did, because he knew just how little it would be appreciated. So what was he suppose to do?

Actually knocking might be a good start.

With a deep breath, his knuckles rapped against the door, the sound echoing throughout the fourth floor. Kirishima couldn't explain why he felt so nervous about all of this. Guilt, perhaps? Or maybe concern? He tried to swallow any emotion he may be feeling that could be interpreted as pity and steeled himself.

It worried him how long it was taking. He knocked again, a little harder this time, and continued to wait in silence. In retrospect, he didn't know what he was expecting, just hitting a wooden frame without context and waiting for him to appear as if summoned. He knocked a third time. “Bakugou?”

The silence stretched on. Kirishima swallowed. “It's, uh... It's Kirishima. I...wanted to see how you were doing.”

Kirishima wrung his hands hard enough to leave scratches in his skin and scuffed his feet against the carpet. Had he been paying closer attention, he might have picked up on the sound of bare feet methodically stepping in front of the door.

“I-” The redhead took a deep breath to calm his nerves. “I don't know if you care, but I'm not mad. I don't know how you feel about all of this, but I was hoping that we could maybe talk about it... Please?”

It remained quiet. Kirishima bit his lip and hung his head, shaking it as he turned to return to his own room. He jumped at the sound of the door suddenly being unlocked.

He immediately returned to his spot in the middle of the hallway, his heart soaring, and waited dutifully as the door opened a crack and a tired red iris peered through, burrowing into his very soul. After a moment of intense staring, the door was pushed all the way open, the room's lone occupant trudging back to his desk and unceremoniously dropping into his chair. Kirishima entered after him somewhat hesitantly, carefully shutting the door behind him and surveying his surrounding.

The room didn't look like a hurricane blew through it, so he could safely say that if a tantrum had followed tonight's events, it happened somewhere else. The only hints of a possible outburst were a couple singes in the furniture and a crater in the wall, though he vividly remembered hearing all of that damage being done that morning.

The only light came from the lamp on Bakugou's desk, illuminating his tense face with a soft glow and emphasizing how tired he looked. He resolutely avoided looking in Kirishima's direction.

“You said you wanted to talk.” His voice was sharp, biting and harsh as he scribbled into a notebook in front of him and glared at it as if he were trying to make it spontaneously combust with his mind.

Kirishima's hands were tightly pressed together, his shoulders tense and heart hurting. He sighed. “Yeah. I, uh...wanted to see how you were doing.”

The lead of the pencil snapped off and Kirishima wondered for a moment if he'd said the exact wrong thing and was about to get booted out. Bakugou hissed a curse under his breath, tossing the pencil behind him and grabbing another one.

“Why wouldn't I be?” he asked a little too matter-of-factly, still avoiding looking at him.

“Well...” Kirishima mumbled, unsure of what to say. He hadn't come into this conversation completely prepared. He'd had his moment with Midoriya, panicked, and came running into a new situation nearly blind. He took a deep breath and forced himself to keep talking. “I just... You seemed upset and, uh, that didn't sit very well with me, so-”

“Well, I don't give a f***, so you can leave now.” It also didn't sit well with Kirishima how dismissive and calm he was being about it. It made shivers run down his spine and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

“I hate to pry,” Kirishima said, feeling a surge of confidence suddenly run through his system. “But after all of this time and from what I've seen, I somehow doubt that.”

The pencil tip ended up punching a hole through the paper. Bakugou silently seethed at it before ripping the page out with terrifying ferocity and starting anew. “Like I said, Weird Hair, I don't care, so you can shove it and get lost.”

“Say that to my face.”

The pencil stopped, and it was as if all sound left the room at once, leaving them blanketed in disturbingly uncomfortable silence. Bakugou barely tilted his head towards him, and it drove Kirishima nuts that he still wasn't looking directly at him, avoiding any possible eye contact. And yet, the rage beginning to radiate from him somewhat put the redhead at ease with its familiarity.

“Ex-f***ing-cuse me?”

“You heard me, dude. I want you to say that you don't care to my face. Look me in the eyes and convince me.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I don't believe you.” Kirishima spoke with conviction, his heart hammering against his ribcage as his feet were set evenly apart and he squared his shoulders as if he were preparing for a spar.

Because normally, when comforting someone, you would try to avoid conflict with them, but Kirishima knew better than to think that clashing with Bakugou wasn't inevitable.

“Get out.” he ground out.

“No.”

“I said get out, Kirishima.”

“And I said no.”

He could practically hear his teeth grinding and the pencil creak under the weight of his hand. Kirishima pressed on. “I've had a lot of time to get to know you, so you can't hide it from me.” He clenched his fists and allowed his gaze to bare into him. “No matter how much you claim otherwise, I find it hard to believe what you're saying when you don't immediately proclaim it with conviction.”

He took a deep breath and braced for the fallout. “And you didn't just avoid the question. You hesitated.

The pencil snapped in half.

WHY THE F*** DO YOU CARE!?” he screamed, his chair clattering to the floor as he suddenly stood, and his eyes finally met Kirishima's head on. They were wild, a hurricane of such a mess of emotions that it gave him a headache and left him winded. “I didn't ask you to come here! I have never asked you to waste your d*** time here!”

He hurled the broken pencil at him. Kirishima didn't even flinch as it bounced harmlessly off of his hardened forehead as he stood there quietly and allowed his friend to seethe and rage. “I'm not a good person! Don't you f***ing see that?! I guarantee you that not a single thing you heard tonight was over exaggerated! In fact, I bet the nerd downplayed it!”

A textbook hit his shoulder, flying off uselessly to the side, while the notebook he'd been writing in nicked his face and slammed into the wall behind him. “But I don't give a f*** about what any of you extras think of me because I'm still gonna be the number one hero regardless! I don't need you! I don't need any of you! I never asked you to stick your noses where they don't belong and weasel your way into my life! Why the f*** would I give a single rat's a** about what any of you think of me?!”

Kirishima grunted as the desk chair was flung squarely into his stomach, falling to the floor in front of him. “I'm a monster, okay!? A d*** barbaric delinquent like everyone's been trying to tell you morons! I will never stoop so low as to call myself a villain, but I know d*** well that that's what I am in everyone's eyes now, but f***'em! Why should I care?! Why should you care?! Why should any of you guys care?! So do what's best for all of you and leave me alone, for f***'s sake!”

Bakugou's fist slammed into Kirishima's chest, Kirishima cringing at the ugly cracking sound against his hardened skin that followed. The blonde was breathing heavily after his outburst, his hair hanging over his face and leaving his eyes in shadow. Kirishima didn't realize that he was biting his lip again until he felt a drop of warm blood running down his chin. His eyebrows furrowed as he stared at his now disconcertingly quiet friend.

But you're not like that anymore.

It seemed so obvious to him in that moment, looking down at the fist against his chest that had already done so much good for the world. A hand with the power to destroy cities and bring the strongest villains to their knees, calloused and warm from the exertion and hard work over so many years of perseverance and dedication to a lifelong dream.

Bakugou remained silent, so Kirishima continued. “I've told you about my middle school days, right? I wasn't exactly the most confident person. No self-esteem whatsoever. I almost didn't even try to get into U.A. because I didn't think I could be a very good hero. I could probably go on for hours about my mistakes and failures during those days.”

The fist was slowly removed from his chest, knuckles an ugly purple color as he slowly turned away and made his way over to his bed. Kirishima watched as he situated himself on the bed, leaning against its backboard and looking at his knuckles with a distant expression. They must have stayed like that for quite a few minutes, but it felt like hours as silence completely enveloped them. After a while, Bakugou pulled his knees up and buried his head into his loosely draped arms, his breath hitching dangerously.

Kirishima felt the remaining pieces of his destroyed heart crumble to dust at the sound, leaving him with nothing but raw empathy for his best friend, the strongest person he's ever known. Putting one foot in front of the other, Kirishima eventually found himself sitting down on the bed next to him, staring down at his hands and sighing. He wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, sitting quietly in each other's company as Bakugou got a reign on his emotions and pulled himself back from the brink of tears, but the silence between them eventually became comfortable, just the two of them alone in a room and away from the world, two friends who trusted each other away from the judgment and tribulation outside.

It was nice, honestly.

“If I had to look back on it,” Bakugou started, startling Kirishima with the unexpected sound of his voice. It was deceptively clear and steady. “I'd say that everything started falling apart between us around the time I got my quirk.”

Kirishima's eyes widened. “Dude, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to.”

“Shut up and let me talk.” Bakugou snarled. “I don't know what you all forced out of Deku, but I want to at least tell you everything that I remember, even if it ends up sounding worse.”

Kirishima stayed quiet after that, a feeling of pride settling in his being as he listened to his best friend recount his and Midoriya's dark history. Sometimes, it was vague from fuzzy memory or a small thing that might not have mattered, but there were other things that Bakugou could remember in vivid detail. Things that honestly made Kirishima's skin crawl and made him feel gross and uncomfortable. But he didn't say anything, simply listening as Bakugou basically spilled everything to him and revealed every dirty secret that he might have kept from them since day one. Kirishima almost felt as if he'd traversed another wall, crossed another border, set one more foot towards an unbreakable bond even stronger than his own skin.

It had been such a powerful bonding experience for him personally that he was ready to just sleep on the floor of his room for the night, but once everything was said and done, Bakugou was quick to try and kick him out. He didn't get too far before Kirishima remembered his now injured hand from his earlier freak out and dragged him over to Recovery Girl's office despite his violent protesting for a quick heal before going to bed. Kirishima didn't mind overall, crawling into bed that night with a warm feeling in his heart and a strange sense of satisfaction.

The look of pure joy on Midoriya's face the next morning when Kirishima casually swung an arm over Bakugou's shoulder like he always had only made him feel that much lighter.


“The point you get across is that you're being a rude, selfish jerk !”

“That all you got, horns?”

Midoriya bit his lip and subconsciously curled in to himself, both familiar and foreign emotions swirling in his stomach and making him feel violently ill.

The time between Thursday afternoon and now had been one of the worst experiences of his life, watching his friends and classmates turning around and revealing darker parts of their personalities that he'd deeply wished were nonexistent. If it had been him that they were mad at and picking on and making miserable, he'd be much happier with it, because he felt confident that he could fix it. After all this time, he feels like he could recover. He could deal with it.

But it was Kacchan that they were being so hostile towards. It was Kacchan who they were mad at and picking on and making miserable, even after some of them in particular had put so much of an effort into befriending him, and Midoriya hated it.

Some people in his position might have felt some sort of sick satisfaction, watching their former bully get what's coming to them or something of that nature, but it only made Midoriya angry, and not just because of his 'hero complex' or whatever Kacchan liked to call it. For one, they didn't know everything, and they didn't have the right to assume they know everything. They weren't there throughout their childhood, they weren't there throughout those admittedly awful days in middle school, and they certainly weren't there to witness their recent efforts in fixing things and becoming better heroes together. They weren't there to watch Kacchan discuss his quirk with him or help him try to get better control of it. They didn't know where Midoriya started. They didn't know his biggest secret, the truth behind his power and what it could mean for the future of heroism. They don't know the things that he and Kacchan know. They haven't experienced the things that he and Kacchan experienced.

That, and it's not like Kacchan's life has been any easier. Can't they look back at their first year alone and see that he's suffered enough?

So it makes his skin crawl, seeing Todoroki purposely shove against him when walking by or Uraraka hurling insults at him if he so much as looks in their friend group's direction. Any time that he and Kacchan were anywhere near each other, he could feel himself tensing up with how many eyes were glaring at his childhood friend.

And Kacchan just took it. He'd yell and scream like always, but he'd always ultimately take it, trying to put up a wall of indifference and pretend not to care when Sero gave him the cold shoulder or Kaminari sneered something at him, supposedly in Midoriya's defense. He refused to react to Ashido's intense glares or hostile quips at his expense. And yet, all Midoriya could do in response was silently seethe at them, because these were the people that did what Midoriya himself couldn't for the longest time. These were the people that finally found a way through Kacchan's rough exterior and got him to warm up to them. These were the people that put the most effort into including him in their fun and getting to know him. These were the people that he learned to let his guard down around.

No, it wasn't even just them. It was remembering the way he'd relented to Jirou's request to join her impromptu band, or how easily he allowed Ojiro to hold him back from starting a fight, or how he didn't even bat an eye at allowing Rikidou to save him from capture, class exercise or not, that made this whole thing so much more painful.

He got that they wanted to protect and support him. He got that they cared and were worried. He understood what they were trying to do, he really did, but all it did was hurt him, because now, all he can feel is frustration and guilt for ruining the one thing that Kacchan never had nor realized he wanted until now.

And this wasn't helping, watching as Ashido grew red in the face from anger while Kacchan was literally doing everything in his power to keep his own tremendous temper under control. It was so unbelievably painful, remembering just a couple days ago when the same girl had ran up behind him and slammed into his back with a laugh and a giant grin, nearly throwing him to the ground with her momentum and clinging onto him like a koala. It had been one of the best things he'd seen all month, watching as Kacchan had begrudgingly given her a piggyback ride all of the way to the cafeteria, cussing and ranting at her the entire time while she'd blissfully played with his hair.

He didn't realize that Kacchan had walked away until he heard Ashido yell after him. “You've always been such a bully! How did I not see that!?”

Midoriya felt his heart sink and his vision began to swim with unshed tears, his stomach writhing with painful, negative emotions as he did everything in his power to swallow his anger. Getting mad wasn't going to help anything, especially here, in a public setting, surrounded by strangers. He wondered how many people were already being bothered by the commotion.

“And you know what bullies are!? Villains, that's what!”

There were few moments in his life where Midoriya could safely say that he'd truly snapped, where something in his mind, a suppressor, a mental block, a gate holding back any well hidden rage that might be lurking in the back of his heart broke open. Thinking back, the only recent time he can really think of is Thursday, the moment where he unintentionally caused this whole mess.

The unfamiliar feeling once again seized his heart as his childhood friend took pause at the statement, almost as if he was trying to avoid stumbling over himself, keeping from flinching or tensing up, and silently trudged down the stairs.

“Why did I become the reason for All Might's end?!”

The memory of that night, of that fight, flooded into his mind like a tidal wave. They weren't there for that either, were they? Did they actually know how much he had to suffer? How long he held that burden? Has he ever spoken to them about that?

Do they know?

Anger, anger, anger.

He didn't register Ashido's conflicted expression, as if she'd realized just a moment too late that she might have crossed a line and didn't know whether or not she should try to take it back. Her fists clenched painfully as she let out a sharp huff and turned back to him. “I'm sorry, Midoriya. You shouldn't have to deal with that.”

I shouldn't?!” Midoriya exclaimed, only controlling the volume of his voice to a certain extent. His throat still hurt after all the angry screaming on Thursday.

Ashido startled at his outburst, but put her smile back on and held her hands up in a defensive manner. “Hey, don't worry about it.”

“Well, I'm worrying about it!” Midoriya retorted heatedly. “How can you say that, Ashido?”

Though guilt did flash through her expression for a moment, Ashido just sighed sadly, as if dealing with an innocent child who didn't understand the world, and it made Midoriya's blood boil. He suddenly had a much better idea of how Kacchan felt most of the time, and to him, the fact that he hadn't actually tried to kill anyone during this whole thing spoke volumes of his progress towards becoming a better person.

“Look,” Ashido said. “I know you still care about him, Midoriya, but you gotta understand that the things he did to you weren't okay.”

“I know that, but neither is digging into people's private lives without their permission.” Midoriya grit out.

Ashido seemed to notice his mood, because she suddenly looked nervous. “Hey, don't be so upset... I just really hate bullies, okay?” she said. “I hate what they do to people, making their lives miserable to make themselves feel good, and it especially hurts when it's someone who I consider a friend whose been harassed.”

She smiled at him sadly, the creases of her face tense. “I'm really sorry, Midoriya. If me being friends with him ever upset you, then I-”

He didn't mean it. He really didn't mean it, but something inside him shattered in that moment, a wave of blinding rage making his skin hot and his vision a reddish hue. It took a second to regain control of his body and reel it back in, and the fact that any longer could have had disastrous consequences still haunts him.

He didn't remember taking that swing, only the feeling of the wind from One For All's crackling energy whipping up the air around them and causing a light breeze to pass through the large merch shop. Several people stopped and stared, all startled by the unexpected act of hostility.

And Ashido looked especially shaken, staring wide eyed at the fist hovering just in front of her nose, centimeters from making contact and sending her careening through the wall behind her. A part of Midoriya felt immediately regret for it, because how dare he threaten one of his classmates like that, but it was instantly smothered by the righteous fury making him nauseous and leaving him with too little oxygen entering his lungs.

“W-what was that!?” Ashido stammered, still recovering from the shock of the near hit. “What was that for?!”

“What do you mean!?” Midoriya had to fight not too yell. He'd already made enough of a scene as it is. “Stop! Just stop it!”

“Wha-”

“Stop hurting him!” Midoriya finally choked out, tears flowing from his wide, furious eyes. “Just stop it! You've already ruined it, so stop making it worse!”

“Mido-”

“We were so close, Ashido! We were practically friends again, after everything we've been through! Do you have any idea how much it hurts to watch you guys treat him like this after he finally started liking all of you?!”

“That's not fair-”

“No! Shut up!” Midoriya yelled, losing control of his voice. He didn't care anymore. “He's changed! He's trying to change, he's trying so hard, and you guys have helped so much with that! He's come so far! You guys can't act like people can't change! And it's not like he can do anything about the past! This isn't fair!

“It's also not fair that he gets to get away scott-free!” Ashido yelled, a pained look marring her features as if spitting that out physically hurt her. “He hurt you and you've done nothing about it! Ever! You deserve better than that, Midoriya!”

“But I don't want to do anything! You may have not noticed, but he gets all of that!” Midoriya responded, his voice rising in volume. His throat already hurt again. “That doesn't matter anymore! None of that matters! What matters is that he trusted you, okay!? He trusted you, I trusted you, and you all went and forced me to talk about something that I didn't want to talk about! And this is the exact reason why! In fact, he probably wanted to be the one to tell you! I certainly wouldn't be surprised!”

“But...” Ashido looked frustrated and just about destroyed. He almost felt bad. “But what he did was wro-”

STOP IT!!! ” He screamed. “Stop acting like you know everything, because you don't! You don't know what he went through. You don't know what I went through. You don't what we're going through, so stop assuming you know what's best when you clearly have no clue how complex our connection actually is and I- Just- Just stop bullying him, d***it!

She flinched at that.

He sobbed. “Did you know that neither of us had friends in middle school? I wasn't popular, but neither was he. At least, not in the way you think. Everyone hung out with him because they were either afraid of him or wanted to take advantage of his status and power.” He took a deep breath, memories of that day suddenly at the forefront of his mind, the words said, the actions taken, both the lowest and highest points of his life, and in the middle of it all, one of the biggest scares of his life. “So the last day that he ever did anything to me, you can imagine how fast those 'friends' ran in the opposite direction when he was grabbed by that villain.”

Ashido's eyes widened and Midoriya cringed. This was also delicate information, a moment in their lives that Kacchan especially didn't like bringing up, but at this point, there really wasn't anything to hide anymore, was there? “They literally left him to die, because that villain had every intention of killing him. I tried to do something, but...” He swallowed. “My power... I-I couldn't use it at the time, so I couldn't do anything but watch him be slowly suffocated to death. Thankfully, All Might was there and got us both out alive, but...”

He shook his head. That wasn't the point. “He didn't have anyone after that, and of course he wanted nothing to do with me, so-”

“Sir,” a voice called over, a young female employee approaching the two cautiously. “I'm sorry to interrupt. I'm sure this is important, but you're causing a scene and disturbing customers. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave.”

All of the anger left him in that moment, replaced by a deep, profound sadness, easily overshadowing any embarrassment that he might be feeling over causing such a ruckus in a public location. He nodded calmly to the nervous employee, who seemed to deflate in relief that there wouldn't be any conflict.

“I'll see you around, Ashido.” Midoriya said almost dejectedly, rubbing at his eyes in an attempt to get rid of the tears as he turned away from his classmate and quietly made his way down the stairs. He never looked back, even when he felt the girl's eyes fixated on his back as he walked out the door. All he could do was hope that he could at least make her understand to some degree, because he hated this.

He hated it so much.

He hadn't realized how stuffy it was in the store until he walked outside and took a deep, long breath of fresh, clean air. It was beautiful out, with people bustling around the colorful city as the sun shone down, reflecting on the windows of the many buildings surrounding them and giving the area an almost heavenly glow. Even the clouds threatening to overtake the sun and Midoriya's own fowl mood couldn't take away from it. He let out a sigh and looked around.

He noticed him almost immediately, sitting alone on a bench off to the side and glaring holes into the sidewalk. People were practically tripping over themselves to keep their distance from the living personification of rage itself. Again, Midoriya couldn't help but commend him for keeping it under wraps after all of this...this...this bulls*** .

And yet, with his trained eye, after knowing and observing Kacchan for so many years, he could see, practically feel the inkling of hurt so well hidden underneath the surface, and it hit him tenfold. No, he would not stand for it. Not when he finally had the power to do something about it.

And so, with a deep breath and the confidence of a hero, he stepped forward.


“YEAH! Another beautiful day in City A!” Present Mic shouted, leaving Aizawa's ears ringing painfully.

While several civilians excitedly pointed in his companion's direction, Aizawa simply shoved his scarf over his nose and hunched over, preferring to stay out of the limelight for the time being. He's had enough of it due to his nightmare class, thanks.

The city was bustling with activity and far too nosy for his liking. Families and friends were running around back and forth between merch shops, restaurants, museums, and several other attractions and businesses that had set up shop around the area. His students seemed to be having a grand old time, and thankfully had yet to make any scenes, from the looks of it. He'd spotted Ojiro, Uraraka, and Hagakure in some girly looking cafe down the street, but otherwise, the rest of them seemed to have disappeared into the crowd.

“Mic, you're being too loud and attracting too much attention.” Aizawa drawled, already feeling a headache coming on from the brightness of the city around them. Present Mic seemed to be in a particularly good mood, singing and shouting all day like a complete mad man, while he'd personally love to just go back home and fall into a coma for the next five years.

“But Eraser~,” he whined. “It's such a beautiful day today! Don't you just want to stand on your tippy toes and shout to the world about it?”

“What I want to shout about is how incredibly annoying you're being right now, but I haven't had enough coffee today to put in the effort.”

Present Mic pouted at him, but his smile was back soon enough. “Then you're going to love this cat cafe! Midnight and I visited it the other day, with all the cute cats and some pretty d*** good coffee, and the only thing I could think was, 'man, I wish Shouta was here! He'd love this place!'”

“I'm trusting your judgment, so I better not be disappointed.” Aizawa responded coolly, Present Mic beaming at him as he practically frolicked the whole way there like the idiot he's fully embraced being. Aizawa would later admit that he had initially enjoyed their time at this cafe, petting a beautiful black cat that had curled up on his lap while sipping away at his black coffee and Present Mic slurped on a smoothie so brightly colored that it could give someone a seizure, but soon, his mind wandered back to his rambunctious students.

He still had yet to hear about any problems, but he would honestly be very surprised if nothing came up at all. Especially since he'd taken a risk and stuck the two problem children together. According to All Might, Midoriya and Bakugou had both been putting a conscious effort into not constantly being at each other's throats, so he hoped that he was right and that their efforts would continue.

Because whatever happened between them the other day at the end of class was heavily effecting the whole class, both socially and academically, and they needed to put an end to it if the class was to continue to grow as heroes.

“You worry about them too much.” Present Mic said casually, earning a glare from the underground hero for reading him so easily. He only snickered.

“I just hope that they become great heroes and not absolute menaces to society.” he responded. “They're well on their way towards either, and I don't want that on my record.”

Mic nearly spat his drink. Aizawa snorted. “They all have potential to be some of the greatest heroes that Japan's ever seen, but right now...”

“They're a bunch of butthurt teenagers.” Present Mic finished. “Yeah, I've noticed too. Bakugou seems to be taking the brunt of whatever's going on, and I feel like it needs to be addressed, because he has yet to blow up over it, and you've said before that he only really backs off like this if it's really, really bothering him.”

“Doesn't want to risk showing weakness.” Aizawa concludes. “Such a bother.”

“You care so much about him.” Present Mic grinned. “All of them, really.”

Aizawa didn't even flinch. “At what point have I ever said such a thing?”

“You don't have to, Eraser. You might as well just stamp 'adoptive father of twenty something' on your forehead.”

“Lies and slander.”

Mic laughed as he sucked at his straw, pulling back when barely anything came out and looking through the straw with one eye to see if there was anything left. Aizawa questioned his own sanity for choosing to associate with these kinds of people before downing the rest of his coffee.

The cat in his lap suddenly jumped, screeching and running off to the other side of the cafe with startling urgency. At first, Aizawa wondered if he'd petted wrong, but then the rest of the cats freaked out all the same, running and jumping all over the place and scaring several of the customers in the process. The employees watched in confusion, looks of concern painted on their faces.

Aizawa and Present Mic were both standing, the hairs on the back of Aizawa's neck standing on end. Mic looked at him, his expression morphing from carefree ignorance to stone cold seriousness like the flip of a switch, and took a deep breath.

“I hate to be captain obvious, but something's wrong and they know it.” Mic whispered, and Aizawa nodded. Animals were sensitive to a lot of things that humans were not, so there could be multiple reasons for this. That, and cat's are particularly finicky, which makes the possibilities even more staggering-

The world jerked.

Mind moving at a million miles a minute, adrenaline high and nerves as strong as steel from years of experience, he immediately realized what was happening. With no time to lose, he and Present Mic leaped into action, even as the ground itself shook beneath them and left them nearly stumbling.

“ALRIGHT!! EVERYBODY STAY CALM!!” Present Mic yelled over the commotion, leaving Aizawa's ears ringing all over again. “PLEASE DUCK UNDER A TABLE OR COUNTER AND WAIT IT OUT! EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY!”

Those who weren't already taking cover immediately followed Present Mic's instructions, ducking under the tables and counters as the windows imploded and pieces of loose furniture came crashing down around them. Aizawa yanked the back of Present Mic's jacket and threw them both under their table as a large piece of the ceiling slammed into the floor just in front of them. He clenched his teeth and forced himself to breathe as his mind suddenly left the current moment.

His students are out there. His students are out there and he has no idea where they are.

And he already knows that those d*** problem children are doing something reckless.

D*** it all.

The shaking only lasted about a minute, dust rising up from the destruction around them as people slowly appeared from their hiding spots. Now that things were calming down, Present Mic quickly crawled out from where they were, Aizawa close behind, and began evacuating people from the unstable building. From the looks of things, that cafe was one of the few buildings still standing, nearly every single other one left in shambles as people began to scream for help.

Aizawa could feel the conflicting feelings bubbling up in his stomach, a strong desire to search for his class attempting to cloud his judgment and deafen him to the several screams around him, but he swallowed his concern and focused on the task at hand, following after Mic as they began to dig out survivors and escort civilians towards where emergency services were beginning to gather. As much as the worry was leaving him ill, he'd told his students far too many times that hero work was not for the faint of heart, that there would be days that you would have to put the civilians' welfare ahead of both your own and that of your colleagues. Aizawa was many things, but he refused to be a hypocrite.

By the time everything was said and done, a small, dark part of him would wish that he'd gone looking.


Midoriya felt like he was floating.

His brain was muddled and throbbing, searching through the pain and exhaustion to try and put everything together. He couldn't remember much, but there were foggy images of a merch store, Kacchan and Ashido, uneven ground, destruction, a family, a girl-

The girl!

It suddenly came flooding back to him, memories of rendezvousing with the pinkette and putting their differences aside for the moment to save two girls, a young child and an adolescent around his age, from a destroyed, barely standing building. They were separated in the fog of dust, Ashido following the sound of the older girl calling for help, as Midoriya searched through the rubble for the thankfully uninjured girl.

The last thing he remembered was the sound of a wall crumbling down on top of them, Midoriya quickly grabbing the girl and tossing her out of the way as lightly as he could before trying to leap out of the way himself.

Apparently, he hadn't cleared it as much as he would have liked, because he could feel the blood around his head and side, and the excruciating but familiar throbbing of his fingers, though it wasn't due to his quirk this time around. He prayed that the girl was okay.

He was still floating, feeling slightly jostled, and realized that he was being carried. His heart rate skyrocketed, panic rising as he tried to force his limp body to cooperate, prying his eyes open in search of the child that he'd being trying to rescue.

The first thing he saw was ash blonde hair, and it honestly absolutely thrilled him how his immediate reaction was pure unadulterated relief rather than any sort of fear. “Kacchan...?” It came out slurred and quiet, but red eyes glanced down at him all the same.

“What happened?” he forced out, despite slowly regaining the answers to his question as time went on. His heart was still hammering in his chest. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he registered uncomfortably familiar fidgeting and hyper awareness creeping through his body. “The girl?”

“I got her, Deku.” came the gruff reply, voice coarse from the dust in the air. “Just shut up for once in your sorry life.”

Midoriya glanced further up, noticing tiny limbs wrapped tightly around Kacchan's neck and torso. He let out a sigh of relief as her little head peered over his shoulder, watery eyes staring down at him with concern. He gave her a soft smile.

It bothered him that even as they broke through the dust and into the sunlight, his vision fought between clouded with spots and perfect clarity. His body kept jumping between a numb throb and agonizingly sharp pain, and his muddled brain was having trouble deciphering the millions of words flooding through it to fully understand the implications.

All he could tell was that something was still wrong, the world was shaking again, leaving him even more disoriented, and he couldn't do anything if he was still limp in Kacchan's powerful grip.

He heard a woman crying as the girl disappeared from Kacchan's back, a happy reunion if the lack of urgency was anything to go by, and Midoriya began to struggle, his pounding heart and erratic breathing doing nothing to ease his overactive mind. Kacchan's grip only tightened, but he wouldn't give up.

His voice cracked with exhaustion as he spoke. “And Ashido?”

He felt Kacchan stiffen against him, his childhood friend's heart now hammering as loud as his own, and Midoriya's vision suddenly cleared and zeroed in on him to the point of leaving him nearly gasping against the pain in his head.

“I'm going back for her.” His voice shook with suppressed concern as Midoriya felt himself being lowered to the unstable land below them.

It had been a while since the last time he felt the hero sense slam into him like this.

The world lit up so brightly that it left him squinting. Every injury, every cut and scratch, every rumble running through the ground, every single d*** pebble pressed against his back was sending pins and needles through his entire body, and the sounds of the crowds running, screaming, the buildings falling to the ground and roads being ripped apart sent waves of sound slamming into his eardrums. The air around him smelled strong of smoke and dirt, copper and gasoline, sweat and caramel. His own heartbeat was suddenly nearly deafening him over the earlier assault against his ears and every physical sensation was drowned out by the sudden urge to throw up all over the ground below him.

STOP HIM! STOP HIM! STOP HIM!!

DON'T LET HIM GO!!!

“Wait!” he yelled, forcing his voice to speak, his body to move, his body fighting itself to move , but he faltered, wincing and cursing himself as an unbearable weakness overtook him, feeling unbelievably sick and falling limb against the ground. He heard Kacchan yelling at someone about an ambulance before his presence disappeared altogether, racing back after their missing classmate and hopefully the other girl.

It was agonizing, how much pain, nauseous, and unexplainable hopelessness was coursing through his entire being in that moment, suddenly dead to the world as someone, an unfamiliar face, tried speaking to him against the white noise. He again tried to force his body to move, but nothing was happening. It would cooperate with him. He couldn't be that broken. He can still go after him! He has to save them!

He has to save him!

He felt his stomach lurch, leaving him dry heaving as strong hands held onto him in his suffering, and he suddenly found himself pitching forward into darkness.


Ever since enrolling in U.A., it had been made obvious that the life of a hero was not an easy one. It was full of risks, blood and heartache, death . It had been a message that Aizawa had taught them early on, and one that they learned early on through their various experiences against the villains always coming after them.

Ashido had known from day one that the life of a hero was not an easy one, and right now, in the midst of a flood of dust and concrete raining down on her, surrounded by the sounds of falling debris drowning out the rest of the world, and locking eyes with Bakugou, his own red orbs blown wide and wild with the millions of thoughts that could be screaming through his head in that moment, she understood more than ever.

The ground gave way and with a loud scream tearing through her throat, she was suddenly falling, a startled yell sounding just above her. She couldn't say that she remembered much about that fall, but it almost felt like she was floating, surrounded by rocks, metal, and concrete sinking into the abyss alongside her. The ground rose up to meet her and she couldn't deny the tears running down her face as a spike of fear ran through her system and she braced herself.

She landed on her stomach, leaving her winded and unable to breathe as pain shot through her body. She fought for air as the dust rising up around her obstructed her airway and left her gasping. Everything hurt, her body screaming in agony as the remains of the building came falling down on top of her, creating what could possibly be her grave.

She gasped again, fighting for air, tears running down her face, hoping beyond hope that she wasn't about to be crushed to death-

She'd never heard anything like it.

An unbridled, blood-curdling scream tore through the air above the sounds of destruction leaving Ashido's ears ringing. She felt herself go pale, the absolute agony behind it leaving her heart stuttering to a near stop. However, nothing left her with so much dread that her blood froze in her veins as the familiar voice behind it.

She didn't notice that she was fighting against the rubble now holding her down until the noise began to die down, pushing against the debris burying her up to her waist and pinning her to the ground. Her body was littered with cuts and bruises and her stomach felt like it was burning from her earlier crash landing, making her nauseous and dizzy, but she fought regardless, shoving and beating against her stone prison to the best of her ability.

Her eyes suddenly flew forward, gaze scanning ahead of her and through the fading dust cloud. She could barely make anything out, but she knew he was there, and a**hole or not, he was obviously hurting and her heart was in her throat because she couldn't get to him. He wouldn't be able to get to him because she's stuck and she doesn't know where he is and she can't stop the panic from taking or her entire being because everything is wrong, wrong, wrong .

The dust settled, dispersing like a curtain being drawn, and the landscape in front of her revealed itself, her searching eyes zeroing in on the scene ahead of her. She would never be able to describe the feeling of pure, hopeless terror that settled into her system as the air was once again stolen from her lungs, bile rising in her throat and catching her voice, leaving her completely and utterly speechless.

Bakugou had landed a ways from her, the impact against his back rather than face first like herself. He was left in an awkward position, his bruised left hand digging into the dirt and his head left hanging back with wide, pained eyes staring off at nothing as he gasped for breath.

There was a pole, glistening with slick blood, sinking into his lower back and protruding from his stomach, his shirt torn and soaked with the same sickly red color.

Ashido couldn't even describe the wave of emotions that overtook her and left her to drown. She let out a strangled cry, her will to fight renewed as she attempted to push and pull at the mound holding her down. The world around them seemed to become more quiet, the sound of his desperate, pained gasping becoming more prominent and sending her into a full blown panic.

Bakugou! ” she screamed, continuing to writhe and struggle in her attempts to reach her...friend? Were they still friends? “Bakugou, can you hear me?! Answer me!

He barely even reacted, only flinching lightly at the sound of her voice as his tense body slowly began to relax. Ashido felt like she was about to throw her heart up altogether. “ Bakugou!

Calling it heartbreaking was the understatement of the century, watching as her classmate's struggles slowly ceased, his body going limp against cold metal and dirt ground. Ashido only then realized that tears were streaming down her face, leaving the dirt under her face damp as she gave one last heave against the pile of concrete above her. She felt herself slowly breaking with every second that nothing budged.

Bakugou! ” she screamed, not even a twitch coming from the uncharacteristically quiet body before her. “Bakugou, please!

Of course something like this would happen now, when her friendships were on the verge of falling apart and tensions were high, and right when the very person she'd been trying to defend in the process would turn on her for it. Of course something like this would happen now.

“Are you trying to f***ing kill me!?” he'd yelled, sparks popping from his palms as Kirishima grabbed him by his shoulders to keep him from falling face first onto the floor while Ashido clung to him, a huge grin on her face.

“Why would I do that?” she asked playfully, rubbing at his hair. It was a lot softer than she'd thought it would be.

Bakugou eventually regained his balance, Kirishima snickering as Ashido's legs tightened around the explosion user's waist to hold herself up, earning a grunt followed by a low, guttural growl.

“You guys having fun there?” Midoriya's timid voice floated into her awareness as he, Uraraka, and Todoroki wandered by. Bakugou only snarled at them, though Midoriya was still beaming at them, Uraraka having a giggling fit and Todoroki staring at them with his head tilted and with a look of light confusion.

Kirishima laughed as he joined them in their trek to the cafeteria, leaving Ashido to deal with the consequences of body slamming the Beast of Class 1-A from behind. For some reason, she wasn't too concerned.

What she wasn't expecting was for his arms to twist around and grab onto her legs, hoisting her up to sit comfortably against his back. She squealed in delight as he turned to follow after their other classmates, returning to playing with her surprisingly soft her, observing the natural, unrelenting spikes in wonder.

“You f***ing idiots are such a d*** hassle.” he grumbled. “Why the h*** do I even put up with you s***heads?”

Ashido only giggled, rubbing at his scalp more harshly as if she were scratching a dog. He growled dangerously at her, but just returned to cussing her out as he trudged on to the cafeteria with her comfortably hanging off of him.

'It amazes me,' she distinctly remembers thinking, back in that time not too long ago, earlier that very week even, when they'd grown so close, 'how good of a friend you can actually be.'

“And you know what bullies are!? Villains, that's what!”

She knew that that was one of the only things that truly bothered him. She knew that there was a certain level of trauma left behind from that incident . She knew that those words would hurt .

And now those words just might be the last d*** thing that she ever said to him.

“You can't!” she cried, attempting to claw her way towards his frighteningly still form. “You can't do this to me! Please, Bakugou!”

He remained motionless, and Ashido was harshly digging through the ground in order to free herself and get to him. She barely noticed the pain of her torn nails. “ Bakugou!

It was at this point that reality began to sink in, her fingers now bleeding profusely, back sore from the weight holding her down, and drowning in the silence surrounding and consuming her. It was at this point that she began to realize that she was alone.

It was at this point that she realized that she could be staring at a corpse.

“Bakugou.” she whimpered, hoping beyond hope that he might turn to gaze at her, sharp red eyes, bright and alive locking with her own. The longer the silence stretched on, the more she felt her poor heart being torn to pieces.

He probably thought that she hated him. He probably thought that they all hated him.

“Blasty.” The nickname rolled off her tongue so easily, as if no time had passed at all, as if nothing had happened between them.

“He's trying to change, he's trying so hard, and you guys have helped so much with that! He's come so far! You guys can't act like people can't change!”

She... They messed up, didn't they?

“What matters is that he trusted you, okay!?”

“Blasty...” Her voice cracked, sobs wracking her body as she fell against the dirt, her hand shakily pulling against the ground. “Please, Blasty... You can't do this to me.”

I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

You're not a villain. You're one of the greatest heroes that I've ever met.

You fought so hard. You tried so hard.

“Come on, Dynamite...” Her personal nickname. The one that only she really ever used. When was the last time she'd used it? “You're stronger than this, Dynamite. You gotta get up.”

There were streaks of blood running through the dirt where she'd her fingers against it in her desperate attempts to free herself. Her vision was blurry from the build up of water and her face felt hot. His body still hung bonelessly against their prison of stone and metal.

So... That's it.

The sun peered down through the dust, and Ashido could do nothing but bury her face into the dirt and grime under her and scream.

Chapter Text

The rumbling of the aftershock had long since quieted down, but Ojiro still couldn't help the lingering paranoia as he and Uraraka trekked through the broken wasteland that was once a bustling part of City A.

They'd been separated from Hagakure in the initial chaos, easily disappearing into the waves of civilians around them, and he couldn't help but worry about her safety. The multitude of worst case scenarios were running on repeat in his head, and his only saving grace from devolving into a state of panic was digging through the rubble with Uraraka and searching for survivors that the heroes had yet to reach. It was like autopilot, moving from building to building and finding people in the upper floors who were lucky to still be breathing while Uraraka was able to get to the more deeply buried victims with ease.

Even still, he was finding himself missing the invisible girl's bubbly voice and positive vibe the longer he didn't know of her whereabouts, and it was concerning him.

It didn't help that they'd found several bloody and gruesome scenes in the process, people who were either injured beyond the hope of a full recovery or even civilians who'd lost a limp. Thankfully, several other civilians who were left uninjured were helping carry those who couldn't travel for the two heroes in training so that they could focus on finding as many people as possible.

Ojiro would never forget the moment he found a corpse, a woman wrapped around a crying infant in a pool of her own blood. She'd been struck in the head from the looks of it, and Ojiro could never forget that moment when he looked at this person who'd been alive earlier that day and this baby who was now motherless and felt his heart snap in two. It was traumatizing enough on its own. He couldn't imagine if it was one of his classmates, or heaven forbid, Hagakure.

“We'll find her.” Uraraka said shakily after pointing a civilian towards where she believed emergency services were stationed. The two of them were slowly making their way over, hoping to do some good on their way and maybe save a few lives in the process. He wished that they didn't have to dig through the dead to get to them.

“Yeah, sorry. I'm just worried, and this isn't really helping.” Ojiro admitted. “I can't help but think, what if she got caught somewhere? What if she's in trouble and nobody sees her? What if no one saves her because they don't even realize she's there? What if she ended up...like that?”

Uraraka smiled sadly, fiddling with her cell phone. “I get what you mean. I've been trying to call Deku for a while now and haven't gotten anything. I hope he's okay.”

Ojiro sighed in understanding. “Yeah. I hope everyone's alright. When they said we were going out for a day trip, this is not what I had in mind.”

Uraraka chuckled at that, though there was little joy behind it as they continued their walk, listening closely for anymore cries for help that they might have missed. It wasn't long before they saw the tents and emergency vehicles set up on a hill just outside of the city. Ojiro bit his lip, Uraraka patting his back reassuringly as they approached. It would be at the foot of the hill where they'd see a group of civilians heading that way as well, along with two ambulances. Among them, standing vigilantly nearby, were a family of four, a stoic father, a teary eyed mother, and two sobbing girls, one a young child and the other around their age. The teen was being treated for minor injuries while the child was pressed against her mother, burying her face into her skirt and sobbing. The ambulance doors opened as a paramedic came out with a roll of gauze for the older girl.

And Uraraka did a double take. “Deku?!

Ojiro felt his own breath hitch as Uraraka took off in a sprint, racing towards the ambulance and nearly falling flat on her face with how quickly she stopped herself. As Ojiro caught up, he could hear her breathlessly speaking with one of the paramedics about their friend's condition.

“His injuries are serious, but not permanent or life-threatening. A healing quirk will fix him right up.” he explained calmly, Uraraka letting out a loud, watery sigh of relief. “He protected the little girl over there and was caught in a building collapse. Apparently he was with two others, but we don't know their current location.”

Ojiro bit his lip at that, brows furrowed and stomach twisting with concern. Uraraka glanced at him with a similar expression as the paramedics went back to their work.

“Civilians are heading up ahead of us.” the paramedic said. “I suggest heading up with them. Even some of the heroes are being evacuated from the scene, so it's no place for kids.”

Reluctantly, the two did as they were told, matching tense looks as they caught up with the small crowd approaching the emergency set up. “Do you remember who Midoriya was with?” Ojiro asked.

“They didn't tell us.” Uraraka responded. “I only knew our group.”

“So it could be anyone...” Ojiro concluded. It didn't sit well with him, thinking about one of his classmates getting hurt or trapped, even the ones that he might not always be particularly fond of. H***, for all he knew, that could be where Hagakure disappeared to...

“It'll be fine.” Uraraka said reassuringly, despite the dangerous upward pitch of her voice. “You'll see. Everything's going to be fine.”

Ojiro sighed, feeling as if he hadn't slept in weeks. “I really hope so, Uraraka.”


It had been years since the last time his hero sense made him feel this sick.

Midnight cringed at him as he threw up another round of blood and bile into the bucket that Recovery Girl had shoved into his arms. His throat felt raw and his side was throbbing, and it only made his hair stand up on end.

“Sheesh, All Might,” Midnight said with a mixture of concern and disgust. “I'd heard stories, but I didn't think it got this bad.”

Toshinori coughed hoarsely. “It hasn't in a very long time.”

“So it must be pretty bad out there.” Vlad King thought aloud. Toshinori could feel his insides twisting uncomfortably at the thought. He'd felt his hero sense appear out of nowhere a minute before the earthquake actually hit, so he'd immediately gone to the principal and had everyone prepare for the inevitable damage that was coming. Thankfully, U.A. suffered very little damage and any injuries were extremely minor and quickly taken care of by Recovery Girl. Even as everything started coming back together, however, and everyone braced for any aftershocks, Toshinori could only feel the fidgety feeling becoming progressively worse. For a while, he couldn't figure out why and could only assume it was the hundreds of civilians trapped or hurt in the catastrophe. He shuttered at the thought and his own helplessness.

However, it spiked just before the aftershock actually hit, leaving him sicker than he'd been in years, and kept on until long after it ended. Even then, though it wasn't as agonizing as it had been, he still didn't feel much better and that worried him. It was when he remembered that Aizawa's class was out there that he nearly cried.

This feeling of uselessness, this helplessness, it only made his symptoms worse and his heart stutter and crack. He hoped that those kids were okay. He hoped that those two were okay.

A phone call is here! A phone call is here!

Toshinori fumbled between his phone and the disgusting bucket in his arms as he checked the caller ID. “Present Mic?”

Midnight's eyes widened. “Mic's with Eraserhead. You should answer that.”

Toshinori couldn't have hit accept faster. “I am here!”

“Yo, All Might!” Present Mic's voice filtered through. Toshinori didn't miss the breathlessness. “I imagine things are pretty crazy over there!”

“It's been an experience.” Toshinori responded. “One of us will update you two shortly.”

“Cool!”

Toshinori took a deep breath. “How are the students?”

There was a long pause and Toshinori felt his heart actually stop dead in his chest. Present Mic sighed. “Most of them are fine, but I'm not gonna lie to you. Only fifteen are accounted for. Five are missing.”

Toshinori took a sharp intake of breath. “Can you give me names?”

“Oh boy.” Present Mic huffed, a hint of worry lacing his voice. “Alright. We haven't found Uraraka, Ojiro, Ashido,...” He sighed, already knowing. “And Midoriya and Bakugou.”

S***.

Present Mic mentioned a few other things, but they were all lost on Toshinori. Eventually, Midnight took the phone from him and finished the conversation before the teachers present returned to dealing with school issues. Despite his condition, Toshinori attempted to help, wanting desperately to be of some use and get his mind off of the rising panic. He eventually gave up when he started making a mess of different rooms from throwing up too much blood and getting dizzy, earning a one way ticket to Recovery Girl's office.

“Anymore of that and you're going to need a blood transfusion!” she said in exasperation, forcing him to stay seated on the bed and rest for what felt like eons of sitting around and doing nothing.

“I know that it's difficult, Toshinori,” Recovery Girl said softly. “But you can't just throw yourself into every problem and expect everything to go your way. Things have changed.”

“I know.” he said dejectedly. The little old nurse just patted him on the back and returned to her work.

“You're worried about those boys.” she eventually said.

Toshinori reluctantly nodded. “No one has heard from either of them.”

Recovery Girl sighed. “I'm sorry. It must be hard on you.” She only got a slow nod in response.

If this went on for too much longer, the worry and needless guilt would eat him alive. His hands tightened, fingers digging harshly into the side of the bed. If only he could still be All Might, even for just one more day, he'd be able to fix this whole mess himself and everything would be fine, just like always. He knew that was dangerous, overly optimistic thinking, but he couldn't help it. He couldn't help but feel himself break at the thought of his successor's suffering, whether it be injury or trauma. But he couldn't do anything about it. If any of them were hurt, then-

A thought struck him, and his head flew up so quickly that it made the room spin. “Recovery Girl!”

She turned to look at him and he felt his heart rate speed up. “I am asking you a favor!”

She continued to stare at him expectantly. For the first time since this whole disaster began, a wide grin took over his face. “Please, go meet to Eraserhead and Present Mic in my stead! I cannot help those kids, but you can!”

Hope. It truly was a wonderful thing.


There was a loud gasp and a hand clasping against metal, and Ashido's world suddenly came crashing back together.

Her head shot up from the dirt, grime caking her face and hair. She didn't know how long she'd laid there in the mud in a state of indescribable numbness, but it suddenly didn't matter anymore because everything that was wrong with the world was fixing itself before her very eyes.

Bakugou had managed to get himself flat on his back, brows furrowed, eyes strained, and teeth gritting so hard that Ashido thought she heard them crack. His hand fell from the pipe or whatever it was as he seemed to focus only on breathing.

He was in obvious pain, struggling to breathe, and still mortally wounded, but f*** all of that right now because he's still alive.

He's still alive!

He's alive!!

“Blasty?” Her voice was far more timid than she'd hoped, cracking and wet from emotions that she still couldn't possibly control. All the fear and hopelessness she'd been drowning in was slowly melting away, festering farther in the back of her mind for the time being.

She didn't care, though. All she wanted was to allow the relief to wash over her as he slowly turn to gaze at her, sharp red eyes, alive, locking with her own.

“Horns?” he croaked out, his own voice gritty with dust and blood. He looked exhausted, eyes dull but focused and breath labored and wheezing. He was covered in bruises and blood soaked his clothing, and Ashido couldn't give a single f*** because he's alive and breathing.

Emotion took her over before she could do anything about it. Her breath hitched before she could say a word. “I thought-... I saw you fall... I thought you were dead.”

Images of a quiet, lifeless body reentered her mind, words that should have never been thrown eating away at her conscience. “I was so scared that-.”

That you were gone. That you thought we hated you and you were gone. That I would never get the chance to apologize because you were gone.

“Save the pity party for when we get out of here.” he interrupted, his voice like sandpaper. “We're not out of the woods.”

And that's all it took for reality to come crashing back down all over again. The rocks pressing against her back suddenly felt ten times heavier and the light from the sun dimmer, barely glistening against blood and the scattered metal across what was probably a few minutes from becoming their grave. She felt sick, adrenaline pumping through her veins and leaving her shaking with pent up energy that had her nearly hyperventilating. She threw her hands back at her stone prison, acid lightly burning at them and smears of blood being painted against them, and shoved.

It was just as useless of an effort as it had been before, not even the sizzle of acid having much effect against the heap of stone holding her down. Of all the times that her acid had to be weak, it just had to be now.

Her lower half was getting cold, blood being cut off from her legs and sending pins and needles shooting up her spine. She couldn't be more grateful that lady luck decided to give her a small mercy and not break her legs or pelvis, but it didn't change the fact that she couldn't move while her friend was literally dying in front of her.

By some d*** miracle, she'd been given another chance. She wasn't wasting it here.

She began screaming for help at this point. She didn't care how, but they needed to get out of there. She wanted her teacher. She wanted her boys. She didn't care if it was a complete stranger and she had to force Bakugou to swallow her d*** pride and let himself be saved, because she'd been given another chance and she wasn't wasting it here.

There was only silence. They were alone.

Yaomomo once told her that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. She understood that trying to free herself was useless at this point, that it probably wasn't going to make a difference, but that wild pounding in her chest and heat running through her veins was setting her body on fire. She grit her teeth, feeling the beginnings of tears burning at the edges of her eyes. She didn't care if she was losing her mind. She was determined to escape her stone prison, save her classmate, and make things right. She had to. She had to.

She heard a wet, strangled noise and crippling fear ceased her heart.

Bakugou looked like he was really starting to struggle, breaths wet and wheezing and his lips tinted red. He heaved, his eyes squeezing shut as the sickeningly red color stained his grit teeth.

She felt herself in the throws of panic. “Blast?!”

He continued to writhe, his movements sluggish, and Ashido couldn't possibly care less about the concept of insanity. She needed to get to him now. “Hang in there, Dynamite!” Her own words were like background noise to her, flying out of her mouth on autopilot within the haze of terror leaving her breathless. “I'm gonna get you out of here! I promise!”

She fought the mound, pushing, shoving, hitting, melting, every single possible thing she could think of in order to reach him. She didn't care about her mental state. She didn't care about her physical state. She'd crawl to him on two mangled legs as if she'd jumped with Midoriya's quirk if she had to. She wasn't sure if the feeling of movement was her imagination, but she couldn't afford to take any chances and risk missing a breakthrough.

Bakugou had become disconcertingly quiet. Ashido glanced back at him to see that he'd once again gone still, panic rising like the bile in her throat. She couldn't lose him now. “Blasty!? Blasty, can you hear me!? Stay with me!”

She never thought in a million years that she'd feel such mind-numbing relief from someone flipping her off.

It wasn't long before he was wheezing again, his breath short and wet with what she could only assume was blood. At first, she thought it was from the pain, his fingers digging into the ground under him. However, the shortness became shorter, and the wetness was overtaken by pace, and Ashido realized that he just might d*** well be starting to panic.

Her breath hitched. They could handle her panicking. She could handle herself panicking, but there was no way in h*** that she could stay calm if he lost his cool. The situation was already proving to be a near hopeless one and she didn't think she could last much longer if he gave into panic. He was such a strong person, an enigma, a paradox of being so incredibly unstable, and yet one of the most stable people to lean on, depend on. Seeing him like this was to much for her to take.

“Breathe, Blasty.” she said breathlessly, because it was all she could do, hoping and praying that it just might be enough to keep him emotionally grounded. She couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes widened, as if he'd realized it himself, and took a long, deep breath in response. His face contorted in agony and her smile was instantly gone.

“Ashido,” he suddenly said, his head slowly turning to face her and pain painting every feature. “I got a game plan, but it could get really bad.”

“But it's already really bad?” she said without thinking, inwardly cringing at her own lack of tact. His responding smirk set her at ease.

“Those rocks up there.” he said, vaguely motioning to her stone prison. “I'm gonna try and blast them off of you from here.”

Ashido strained her neck to look up as far as she could, cringing at the size of the pile on top of her. She was incredibly lucky that she wasn't experiencing the full weight of it. She knew it was heavy, which would require a lot of force to move, which would require a lot of strength to create said force. Strength that he didn't have at the moment. She didn't think she could handle it if he hurt himself any more. “Won't that hurt you?”

Something twisted uncomfortably in her stomach when he looked at her incredulously. “What?”

She bit her lip. “The kickback from the explosion.” she explained. It seemed pretty obvious to her, and she never even had to make peace with the fact that he was so much smarter than her. It should be an obvious problem. “Couldn't that break or tear something important?”

He furrowed his eyebrows and stared at her with a mixture of frustration and genuine confusion. “Why would you care?”

It was as if Midoriya had slapped her at twenty percent. As if Todoroki had frozen her over. As if someone had reached into her chest and crushed her heart to dust.

He does think we hate him.

Her voice failed her, a whisper not even she could hear. “Dynamite...”

There was a low rumble.

Terror. Pure, unbridled terror. It ceased her very being, took hold of her mind and left her to die. She didn't even realize that she'd spiraled into a state of panic herself, drowning in the lack of oxygen in her lungs and the sudden, overwhelming sensation of claustrophobia. She doesn't remember clawing at the ground, attempting to drag herself out of her prison, bloody fingers, broken nails and all, and reach her friend before the earth opened up again and swallowed him whole. This hopelessness, this helplessness. It was nothing like she'd ever felt before.

She hated it. Loathed it. Despised it.

She had to get them out of here. She was the only one who could.

“Ashido!” Bakugou suddenly yelled, his voice garbled and rough as he suddenly devolved into a harsh coughing fit. The rumbling grew louder. “Cover your head!”

She didn't know if it was her own panicked state of mind or the fact that it was Bakugou who told her to do it, but she didn't even question it as she threw her arms over her head and dug her face into the dirt. Her heart stuttered in her chest when she heard crackling.

The explosion nearly deafened her, the shock wave leaving her head pounding and a powerful wave of heat stealing the air from her lungs. The fire left her blinded.


“I overheard that they found Midoriya. They said he was hurt, but that he should be fine.”

Jirou watched as Todoroki and Iida both practically deflated, letting out huge twin sighs of relief. Asui was still over with their other classmates smothering Uraraka and Ojiro.

“Thank goodness.” Iida breathed out, Todoroki quietly nodding along. The temperatures of the air around him suddenly became far more bearable as Iida continued to speak. “I shall speak with Aizawa as soon as I can so that I may see Midoriya myself!”

Jirou simply nodded, looking back over the mess of concrete, metal, and glass making up the landscape before them. It had been absolute devastation, like nothing she'd ever seen before in her lifetime. Listening to the multitude of conversations around her, she'd gotten a pretty good idea of exactly what kind of apocalyptic aftermath they were looking at. Apparently, not only were some of the heroes, including their teachers, being evacuated from the mess like the rest of the civilians, but the ones that had stayed behind had already found a sickening number of dead in the wreckage.

And a certain few of her classmates were starting to panic.

Rikidou had yet to let go of Kirishima after his last escape attempt, the redhead looking like he was ready to sock the poor guy and make a run for it any second. Jirou had long since given up on getting closer to Kaminari, the static alone leaving a painful buzzing in her ears. Mineta had been a little more tenacious in trying to calm him down, though he only got singed for his efforts. The poor idiot had been incredibly apologetic towards both of them, but he couldn't turn it off with how panicked he was at them moment. Sero was taking the whole situation the best out of the three, helping Rikidou keep a handle on Kirishima and staying quiet through out more of the ordeal. His smile, however, was very noticeably absent.

Meanwhile, Ashido and Bakugou were nowhere to be found.

Jirou wasn't above admitting that she was also getting worried. She considered Ashido a good friend. A fellow girl that she could hang out with when Yaomomo wasn't available. She was a promising hero and an inspiring member of their class, and Jirou didn't think she'd be able to sleep that night if something happened to her. Bakugou was a bit more confusing of a case. On one hand, she was still mad at him for the whole thing with Midoriya, and she felt that she didn't even have to explain why. What happened was awful and not a single apology had been uttered from what she understood. On the other, however, she didn't think that he deserved to get hurt, and the fact that he hadn't made an appearance as of yet was...not promising.

“Anything on...you know?” Kirishima asked her quietly.

Jirou frowned. “Not yet. If I hear anything, you'll be the first to know.”

Kirishima's shoulders somehow slumped down further than they already were, his head hanging dejectedly as he glared daggers into the ground under him. Despite his relaxed body, Rikidou didn't dare loosen his grip. Jirou bit her lip and felt her heart crack a little bit.

“Man, this is the worst.” Sero sighed, shaking his head. “I feel so helpless right now.”

“Welcome to my world.” Kirishima mumbled.

“Don't lose your heads.” Rikidou warned. “This could devolve into a life or death situation at any moment and we have to be ready to protect the rescued civilians. I know it hurts, and I'm worried too, but we're heroes and we have to have priorities.”

Jirou and Sero both nodded along, Kirishima staying eerily quiet. As much as Jirou didn't like it, that small chance of dealing with the trauma of a classmate's death weighing heavily on her heart, Rikidou had a point.

It just so happened to be at that moment that Jirou heard a strange sound echo through the air. Her jacks lifted on reflex, like satellites scanning for a signal, and her eyes slowly traveled across the ruined landscape. It had sounded like cracking, like a foundation crumbling, but the noise was too wide and deep to be another building falling to the ground. Her brows furrowed deeply.

“Shouji,” she called as said classmate wandered by. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” he asked, his other limbs immediately morphing into ears.

The sound reached her ears again, louder this time. The source sounded like it was coming from the right. “That.”

Shouji seemed hesitant. “I...heard something, but it's faint.”

“It's getting louder.” Jirou said as a shiver ran down her spine. “It sounds like cracking, but...fuller.”

“Fuller?” Shouji asked mostly to himself, his voice laced with concern. The three to her right looked especially worried, completely unable to pick up on these sounds that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. It sounded so...ominous.

The next crack was clear as day, so loud that Shouji's head whipped around to the source immediately, a reservoir far off in the distance from the rescue setup. Jirou suddenly felt her heart pounding in her ears, reverberating through her entire being as the two of them realized with terrifying clarity exactly what was about to happen just seconds before disaster.

There was a resounding crash, the walls crumbling beneath the weight of hundreds of tons of water pressing against it and unleashing a wave of water that tumbled through the landscape and towards the remains of what was once of bustling, lively city.

Jirou had to retract her jacks between the roaring water and the screams of terror from the crowds surrounding them. Kirishima was instantly on his feet, Rikidou already holding him back as they all watched the scene play out in horror. Jirou could hear Yaomomo's and Uraraka's voices among the screams and several yells of shock and terror from too many familiar voices to list, several gasps sounding amongst the rest of them, all helpless as the destruction happened before them with no way of stopping it.

Kirishima became to struggle.

“Kirishima!” Rikidou yelled. Jirou barely registered that Sero wasn't helping him. “Kirishima get a hold of yourself!”

Where are Blasty and Ashido?!” Kirishima practically screamed, his face and voice that of pure despair. “Someone should have at least seen them by now! We have to find them now!

Sero had an unreadable expression as Kirishima continued to writhe in Rikidou's grip. Somewhere off to the side, Kaminari was watching with wide eyes and uncharacteristic silence. There was crying, but Jirou could no longer put a face to it. It was a clusterf*** of sound assaulting her ears, leaving her cringing and her head pounding.

Boom!

Jirou's head shot up so fast that she her a light crack, her eyes immediately zeroing in on a certain area of the destroyed city. Kirishima seemed to have noticed, because he was watching her with eyes the size of dinner plates. The sound had been faint compared to the rest of the cacophony around her, but it had been so familiar that her mind had automatically focused on it, almost as if it were a comfort.

She sat next to him in class. Of course she was use to it.

“I heard an explosion.” Her voice sounded disbelieving.

She noticed Kaminari tense up in her peripheral vision. Kirishima had somehow managed to wrench himself out of his classmate's grip, appearing by her side instantly. “Where?! Jirou, where!?

Her eyes never left the direction she'd heard the sound come from, the beginnings of a smoke cloud rising above the lowered skyline. Jirou's hand shot forward. “There!”

“Wait!” Rikidou shouted, his hand wrapping around Kirishima's arm as he instantaneously made a break for it. “We can't go down there!”

“He wouldn't be there if he could leave!” Kirishima practically screamed in his face. “That could be a signal for all we know! He's going to drown!!

Rikidou's grip seemed to loosen at that, Kirishima once again ripping himself away before looking sharply at Sero. “I don't care what any of you do or say! I'm going!”

“Oh, no, I get what you're saying.” Sero said with a disconcertingly calm voice and blank expression. “But there's no way you're getting there on your own. I'm going with you.”

“Me too.” Kaminari suddenly said with conviction, his face tense. “Ashido's probably with him, and I want to help them too.”

“Guys...” Rikidou's voice trailed off while Shouji just silently watched. Kaminari glanced over at Jirou, as if daring her to try and talk them out of it. The roaring wave sounding against her ears drowned out the pounding rhythm.

“I don't care what you guys do,” Jirou said breathlessly, her heart rising into her throat. Sweat was starting to collect on her skin and she could feel the icy cold of fear creeping up her spine. “But I'm getting Aizawa! It doesn't matter how, but we're all getting out of this alive, together! All twenty of us!”

The last thing she saw was Kaminari's eyes come back to life before she spun around and ran.


If this wasn't karmic retribution for being a terrible friend, then she didn't know what was.

It had taken some time, even with the pile of rocks successfully blown up for the most part, but Ashido finally managed to wriggle herself out and to her freedom just as the rumble reached a crescendo and a massive wave of water came flying over the edge of the high walls, pouring into the huge natural moat surrounding them. She'd had trouble breathing from the lingering heat still radiating around them that she was convinced had singed her already ruined hair, but forced herself up on shaky numb legs when she noticed that Bakugou was once again terrifyingly still.

Her fingers burned from the feeling of acid dripping from her hands as she shakily reached down under his back and began melting the base of the rebar, her other hand pressed against his neck to reassure herself that he was still alive. The feeling of his heart stubbornly pumping blood through his veins was truly a blessing.

She wasn't jolted out of her state of mindless autopilot until she'd freed his arm and rolled him onto his side to get a better vantage point to remove the upper half of the rebar, and he suddenly gasped. It had terrified her, the thought that she might hurt him any more than he already had been. She finally removed the majority of the pole, leaving only the small section of it lodged in his body untouched. As scattered as her mind was at the movement, she knew better than to try and yank it out. She wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but she wasn't a complete idiot, either.

His head was on her lap by this point, his dull, unfocused eyes fluttering open and tiredly staring at her. It was so uncharacteristic for him, jarring even after everything that had happened, and she could feel herself slowly falling apart.

He didn't deserve this. No matter what happened in the past, he never deserved this.

“Bakugou?” she'd tried, watching as his eyes came into focus. “You with me?”

He coughed, coarse with pain and wet with blood, but he simply let out a shaky sigh as his walls slowly attempted to rebuild themselves. It was an awe-inspiring sight. “Yeah.”

It was dizzying, looking around at the broken structures, towering walls, and rushing waterfalls surrounding them, as if it were fate itself spelling out that if nothing else, only one of them might crawl out of this pit of death alive. It left her breathless, leaving her body in automatic as her lips moved, the words never really reaching her brain as her mind and emotions came to a screeching halt.

They were alone, with no way out, and her classmate, no, her friend, was going to die in her arms, seemingly far too at peace with the idea of having no one by his side in his last moments when that was far beyond what he, a teenage human like herself who was more than capable of making mistakes, ever deserved, and there was literally nothing she could do about it. Only the universe itself could come up with such a cruel joke.

“I don't know what the h*** to do.” Her mind caught up with her mouth, hearing the words spill out like the torrents of water around them. “What am I suppose to do!?

She didn't even notice that she was once again spiraling into a panic until his voice entered her awareness. “You need to breathe.”

Her breath hitched as she latched onto the sound of his raspy voice. “Come on, Pinky. In two, out four. Understand?”

Pinky. Her hero name, because she's a d*** hero.

And what kind of hero was she, allowing herself to fall into such a state of disarray when someone's life was literally on the line? Why did the person dying have to be the one to comfort her?

So she sucked it up, her mouth moving without her knowledge, and decided on a plan of action. If they waited here, they would likely drown. If they stopped at the base of the wall, Bakugou would likely bleed out before anyone found them. There was little choice but to either wait to die or escape on their own. It was risky, but there were literally no other options and Ashido was determined to get them both out alive.

He was heavier than she'd thought he would be, the majority of his body weight pure muscle. The water was slowly filling the hole, now just below her knees and rising, as she waded through the desolate area with her friend held securely in her arms. The fact that he didn't seem to mind concerned her, urging her to move as quickly as she could without tripping over something like an idiot and sending them both plummeting into the water. She couldn't bear the idea of dropping him now. She absolutely hated the idea of hurting him any further.

Even so, she had to ignore it whenever there was a grunt or hiss and she had to look away from his face when she had to move him around to step over or climb onto anything and focus on the task at hand. She had to ignore the warm liquid staining her hands and arms and the stickiness of her now ruined shirt against her skin.

She didn't realize she was on dry land until she was literally standing in front of the high walls, the flood of water slowing down to a more comforting pace. She stared up at her newest obstacle, a feeling of futility pulling at her gut.

“D***it...” she muttered to herself, the urge to vomit slowly seeping into her stomach. There were no pathways, no convenient stairways sitting around for them. Just a straight wall, looming over them at a perfect ninety degree angle. The fact that she remembered that that's what that angle was and that past tutoring had paid off didn't matter. What mattered was that there was only one way out, and that was up and over. She was ready to take risks, but that just might be too risky. Her grip on her classmate tightened. “What do you think, Blasty? Any ideas?”

No response.

Her train of thought came to a screeching halt. “Blast?”

He was limp in her arms, his head resting comfortably against her shoulders and eyes dull and unfocused. Ashido felt her heart stutter to a stop and the blood covering her body was suddenly sending pins and needles throughout her entire body. She gripped him impossibly close, lightly shaking him. “Blasty!? Blasty!

It terrified her how quiet he was, his entire being radiating with exhaustion as he slowly began to fall asleep against her. For a second, all she knew was panic. “Hey!

He jolted, eyes wide and bright before he squeezed them shut and winced in pain. Ashido nearly collapsed in relief. “Don't do that, Blasty! You gotta answer me!”

Suddenly, the risk of climbing wasn't so much of a risk and more of a necessity. “I need you to work with me, Dynamite.” she breathed, staring intently at the top of the wall, where freedom was waiting for them. “Wrap your arms around my neck and hold on tight. I'm getting us up there even if it kills me.”

She was expecting some kind of resistance, a rebellion against daring to think he would possibly be willing to hang on to her like some damsel in distress. She was waiting for him to tell her to go f*** herself and figure something else out. All she got was an incredulous stare, blood beginning to drip down his chin. “With one arm, Horns?”

She could only feel her resolve harden. “Whatever it takes.”

His familiar glare returned, his eyes lighting up in a fiery, ferocious way that made them practically glow with scrutiny. It was the eyes she knew, the intense fire burning hotter than the sun itself that she knew so well. It was familiar, and for her and a few others, safe, and her knees nearly gave out from under her.

His eyes turned away, an annoyed sigh escaping his bloody lips. “Push me up.” he consented.

It was a surprisingly delicate operation, pulling him up to her for a better grip. The obvious pain on his face left cracks festering in her battered heart, shattering it in a moment of terror when a new spray of blood escaped his mouth and left them both covered in a mess of red. She must have said something to him, because he threw his arms around her neck hard enough to make her think that he might be trying to choke her out. “Stop losing your s*** every time I so much as cough and f***ing climb.”

She would never forget that span of time, those desperate moments of her dragging herself and her classmate up the side of what was basically a cliff. Every move, every decision she made was engraved into her memory, every crevice, crack, every shape and the roughness of the rocky wall rubbing against her broken skin in her mind's eye. She fought the urge to cry as she shoved her foot into the rocky side, feeling her heart speed up the moment she removed her right arm from his back to reach out and pull them up. From there, it was just rock climbing.

It was just rock climbing. No flood, no earthquake, no blood, no death, no stakes. Just climb, Mina.

She did everything in her power to ignore any sounds coming from the boy against her. The fact that Bakugou seemed far less uncomfortable with being stuck in such close proximity with her than she'd expected had her reeling, his head against her collarbone and breathing irregular with hitches and hisses from Ashido's inevitably jerky movements. He clung to her without complaint and with strength that he shouldn't have had. It left her amazed by his stamina and stubbornness, a flood of overwhelming emotions gripping her as he hung off of her and quietly waited for her to pull them both to safety like the hero she was supposed to be.

He had accepted his limits and was allowing himself to play the victim in this scenario, the damsel in distress. He was letting her save him.

He still trusted her.

She'd never wanted to cry so badly as she did in that moment, nor had her determination been so unwavering.

The sound of crashing scared her, her body automatically clinging onto both the wall she was scaling and her damaged cargo. She noticed how far she'd manage to climb in her zen state far more quickly than she felt the warmth seeping from her purple, throbbing fingers and down her arm. She couldn't tell if the shaking was the world around her or her own nerves finally reaching their limit. The thought of an aftershock barely crossed her frazzled mind.

The walls below them gave way, leaving them stranded above and with nowhere else to go but up. It terrified her, thinking about what might have happened if she'd been any slower, caught in the destruction of the rocks crumbling back down to the concrete graveyard below.

“You okay?” she practically whispered, her abused heart slowly climbing back down from her throat and into her chest.

“Yeah...” She was surprised that he answered, his voice strained but steady. “Yeah, you're doing good, Pink.”

Warmth blossomed in her chest, feelings of pride, normalcy, and hope rushing through her like the water cascading over the edges of freedom. If she'd at all questioned his trust since her earlier revelation, all doubts were squashed by the offered encouragement. She latched onto it as if both of their lives depended on it.

She was so close. They were so close. Just a little bit farther and then-

The world jerked.

Ashido couldn't help the scream that tore out of her throat, all the fear, doubt, confusion and hopeless terror she'd felt throughout this entire ordeal all accumulating into this one, single moment. She seized against the wall, destroyed fingers digging into it and body flattening out, pressing her friend, one of her closest friends, one of her boys between it and her, as if her body could be a sufficient barrier against any falling debris.

It was destroying her now, how she completely turned her back on him when something that she'd already known had been emphasized. She always knew he could be an a**hole. She always knew that he wasn't the nicest person.

She also knew that he didn't put effort into things that he didn't get two s***s about, and for the last few months, he'd sure as h*** put a lot of effort into being at least a semi-decent friend to them.

He'd also ran into a collapsing building after her to make her she got out okay and got skewered for it.

There was a moment where she forgot where she even was when Bakugou's grip around her tightened, his face firmly pressed against her nape. It was as if another wall had been breached in that moment, a silent request, permission for her to offer her protection, and f*** her if she wasn't going to give it to the best of her ability. So she grit her teeth and pressed them both against the wall, breath shallow and a flurry of words and noises flying out of her mouth as she dug in as hard and firmly as she could. With death staring them in their faces, she couldn't help but think of their families and friends, how they'd be so upset, how they'd miss them. It physically hurt her, just thinking about the possibility.

There was the sound of rubble crumbling into dust and suddenly her hand was grasping at air.

There were no regrets in that moment. No sadness, no hindsight, no acceptance. Just blind, blaring, overwhelming and all encompassing horror.

Kirishima would later tell her that her blood-curdling scream was so loud that he'd heard it from above the sinkhole and three streets away. Gravity took hold almost immediately, tipping them back and leaving them in its merciless grip. Her reaction was near instantaneous, her flailing arm shooting forward and latching onto the dirt and rock wall for some kind of leverage against the force of nature dragging them back down to their deaths.

The earth gave way from under her weight, leaving her fingers digging through what felt like a natural grinder tearing through her already tender flesh. She barely felt the pain through her numbed senses, adrenaline pumping through her icy cold bloodstream as she hit a snag in the rock, her wrist cracking painfully against the sudden strain and snapping her fingers against the hard, unrelenting surface. The sudden force threw her off completely, leaving them both careening through the open air.

She didn't even think about it. Pulling him in and hugging him against her body as if she were some kind of useless meat shield was just instinct, something that the hero inside of her ordered her body to do. She knew she could handle the landing far more easily than he could at the moment. In that second, all that mattered was minimizing the damage. All she could do was her best and hope that it was enough.

She screamed against the feeling of her back slamming hard into the ground, a loud crack resounding in her ears and reverberating through her entire body. The two were forcefully ripped from each other, Ashido crashing into the dirt and sent skidding across the rough, uneven ground. Her body felt like it was on fire, the air sucked out of her lungs and heart breaking through her ribs and trying to pound out of her chest. Her head spun, a mess of thoughts spiraling out of control and flying through her brain at speeds that she could never hope to understand.

She was suddenly left in silence, and all she could comprehend was numbness.


“Sensei!” Iida's voice could barely be heard over the overwhelming sounds of the helicopter's blades as it made its slow descent, the side door swinging open and revealing Recovery Girl's small form.

Aizawa turned to him sharply, his eyes boring into his very soul. Iida felt a shiver run down his spine as Aizawa looked back at a paramedic from the chopper approaching him. “We were sent here by All Might's and U.A.'s request!” the paramedic stated, his voice almost completely drowned out by the waves of noise. “Recovery Girl was hoping for an update from you!”

“I'll tell her on the way.” Aizawa responded, his voice stern and emotionless. It sounded somewhat strained, having to yell over everything else. “Get back in the chopper and I'll follow in a moment. It's an emergency.”

Iida felt cold dread seize his heart as the paramedic nodded hesitantly before returning to the helicopter to relay Aizawa's order. As the class representative of U.A.'s class 1-A, he was concerned for all of his fellow students' safety, whether they are on good terms or not, and he wasn't blind to the fact that Bakugou and Ashido were still missing and that Kirishima, Kaminari, and Sero had ignored regulation and fled the safe area.

Aizawa looked incredibly tense, his jaw set and eyes guarded from any possible show of emotion. His fists were tightly clenched and his cold glare was boring into the grass underneath their feet. The day no longer felt warm, but rather icy like mid December, when the snow would fall and freezing winds from the north would nip at their ears and bite at their skin. The cold took hold of his body, burning his lungs and freezing the blood in his veins. It no longer mattered to him what the past may hold among any of his classmates. They are all still his classmates and he cares for them, and as the class representative, he felt responsible for them.

And it was disgraceful of him, ever allowing his close friends to treat Bakugou so poorly and invade his and Midoriya's privacy like that. He hadn't pried, but he did overhear it, and he'd been just as disgusted as the rest of them. He could not bring himself to retaliate, because he didn't see that as heroic behavior whatsoever, but standing by and allowing any of this to pass was ultimately just as bad. It was immature and unkind, and did not paint the next generation of heroes as role models. Heroes should not be so vengeful, as he had learned personally, especially towards an ally.

So it was wrong of his peers to lash out like that, especially against Midoriya's wishes, but Iida was just as guilty for staying silent, and despite not being able to fully comprehend why, other than the realization of his own underlying immaturity and dishonesty, he felt terrible for it.

“Sensei!” Iida called again, regaining Aizawa's attention. “Sensei, what's going on?! Have they been found?!”

Aizawa remained quiet as the slowing blades of Recovery Girl's chopper started right back up again. Despite the overwhelming buzz of noise around them, the world between the two of them seemed mute, silent to the point of madness, and it terrified him.

Aizawa pinched his nose and breathed, a loud huff escaping his lips before he approached Iida and slapped a hand on his shoulder. His eyes were still piercing, yet unnervingly dead. “I need you to listen closely, Iida. This is important.”

Iida felt himself swallow as Aizawa's eyes borrowed into his very soul. One part of him was honored that Aizawa saw him as mature and enough of an adult to stay in the loop, but the other had nothing but cold dread. Aizawa spoke. “While I'm gone, you are in charge. I need you to keep order among your classmates. No matter what happens, I need you to stay calm.”

“Sensei?”

“I'm not going to sugarcoat things for you.” Aizawa continued. “This could be very ugly. For the sake of your classmates, I need you to stay calm and be prepared for the worst.”

Iida paled. “...The worst?”

“You're a smart kid, Iida. I know I don't need to spell it out for you.”

Iida wasn't sure how to process the surge of emotions that muddled his mind, but he could easily identify the worry for his classmates' safety. Aizawa's hand tightened around his shoulder. “In the world of heroics, tragedy is commonplace. Hopefully, that isn't the case today. I truly do hope that this is a miscalculation on my part and that your classmates are fine, but the evidence suggesting otherwise has been continuously piling up.”

Iida grimaced, a sense of hopelessness enveloping his entire being. He shakily removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes, forcing his resolve to strengthen as he looked back into his teacher's eyes. If he didn't know any better, he'd say that they'd become just the tiniest bit softer. Iida inhaled loudly. “Is there anything else I can do?”

It was Aizawa's turn to grimace, a sense of tired recognition mixed with a spark of something that Iida couldn't quite decipher radiating from him. “All I can say, kid, is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Keep order, and keep quiet for now. Don't needlessly give your classmates reason to panic. For now, just wait. You will know what happens in due time.”

Iida nodded grimly, Aizawa returning the gesture before turning on his heel and sprinting to the helicopter, barely hopping on as it lifted into the air and immediately took off towards the destruction out in where a lively part of City A used to be. Iida couldn't help but feel pinpricks of tears at the corners of his eyes, immediately tearing his glasses back off and rubbing at his eyes more harshly. He had to keep it together. For the sake of all of his classmates, he had to keep it together.

He felt another hand on his shoulder, finding Present Mic standing behind him with a look of sympathy hidden behind his sunglasses. With a gentle tug, he led the distressed hero in training back towards the rest of the class, patting his shoulder and back as he spoke empty reassurance with commendable charisma and energy. Iida couldn't help but be amazed by it, by these veteran heroes' ability to stay calm and keep a smile on their faces in such dire circumstances. He supposed he better understood why Midoriya spoke of All Might's smile with so much admiration.

And so, he straightened his back, put on a strong face, and returned to his friends, praying with all his heart that his missing classmates would return alive.


It was when the dust had settled that awareness finally crept back into her mangled form.

Her leg was in agony, throbbing and painful, sending pins and needles screaming up and down her body as it slowly bled. Her back felt cramped and sore, though it was nowhere near the fire in her lower leg, and she wondered for one terrifying second if there would be permanent damage. On the other side of this traumatizing spectrum, she could no longer feel her right hand. Glancing over at it, her hand was dark purple and black, swelling profusely and blood oozing from her fingertips. In her daze, she couldn't tell if her nails were still there.

She groaned, dull pain running through her entire body and a continuous pounding in her rattled head. She could almost feel every cut and bruise across her person lightly flaring up and burning at her skin, the skin of her back in particular burning like fire. Her bones ached. Her head ached. Everything ached like they'd never ached before and suddenly, she had the urge to cry again.

She ignored the slight ringing still in her ears and the fact that one of her eyes was being held shut by the blood pouring from a cut on her forehead drying over it, and slowly rolled herself onto her stomach, cringing hard enough to crack her teeth as the pain exploded in her back. She could practically hear her spine creaking and shuddering with every movement and leaving her dry heaving from the pain. If this was what Midoriya felt like every time his quirk backfired, then Ashido suddenly had a lot more respect for the guy's pain tolerance-

Bakugou.

Ashido suddenly couldn't breathe. Where was Bakugou?!

She panicked, trying to force her body to work as she commanded and swallowing the scream in her throat. Her voice seemed to go down with it, because she couldn't find it in her state of terrified confusion. All that came out when she attempted to call his name were squeaks and whines, and whether it was her mind not working with her mouth or something as stupid as not knowing which name to use, she wasn't sure.

Her one working eye caught sight of dusty, unruly ash blonde, and without even questioning anything, ignoring the quietness outside of the slowing waterfalls and the stillness of what fate kept emphasizing as their final resting place, she began to crawl.

Her cracked bones scraped against each other and she screamed through her teeth, her working hand digging into the dirt for something to cling onto in the pain. She pressed her forehead into the ground, not giving a d*** about the dirt now caking her entire face, and forced the dusty air into her lungs.

“In two, out four. Understand?”

All she remembered about those moments was that it hurt. It was fuzzy in her memory, the feeling of her bones scraping and creaking and her skin tearing and blood slowly oozing from her dozens and dozens of scratches and cuts. She was convinced that some of her bruises went down to the bone. Her foot was completely useless, not moving at all and instead acting as deadweight being dragged across the ground. She didn't dare look at it. She could tell that it was broken and she didn't care how bad it was at the moment. Even in the haze of agony and the red tint obstructing her vision, she crawled. It was painfully slow, dragging herself over rocks and falling over to the other side, a scream escaping her lips from the impact against her already injured back. And yet she crawled, because during those moments, she couldn't bring herself to give a single f*** about the pain.

She heard coughing, and her attention was pulled back to her classmate's prone form. His eyes were open and his chest was moving, which were miracles in their own right, but he looked unbelievably out of it, which was something that scared her. She knew that he could very likely go into shock from their fall, and if, or even when that happens, that could very well be it.

No. She wouldn't fail him. Not again.

She didn't remember approaching him, but the next thing she knew, she was by his side and even more sore than she already was, as if her body had completely moved on its own. She took a breath and allowed her left hand to take a hold of his. He seemed to still have feeling, because he turned to look at her in response. His eyes were dull, half-lidded and so, so incredibly tired.

He seemed to look her over in silence, cringing at the damage done to her own body as if he weren't mortally wounded himself. She felt her face contort in frustration as she forced herself to her knees, biting back her screams and shrieks bubbling up and held herself up on shaky arms. The blood on her back had dried and gone cold, and her right hand was completely and utterly numb.

“Blasty?” she tried, her voice cracking harshly. “Just hang in there, Blasty. I'll think of something.”

He stared up at her quietly, blood tinting his lips a dark red, and squinted in confusion. Ashido felt her heart reach impossible speeds. “Blasty? Can you hear me?”

He remained quiet, squeezing his eyes shut in what was probably pain, and Ashido realized with startling clarity that he really might not be able to hear her anymore. There was something about him being so far away that he couldn't hear her voice, even though he was right there in front of her, that shattered her very soul and left her suffocating in a torrent of emotions that she'd long sense lost control of. She slapped her good hand against her mouth and sobbed into it, no longer able to handle everything that was happening to them in such rapid succession.

He'd trusted her. He trusted her to get them out of there and now she was no longer able to. She couldn't even stand anymore, so how in the h*** was she expecting to drag them both to safety now? At this point, all they could do was wait for someone to save them.

And there was a very good chance that help just wasn't going to make it in time, if it even came at all.

Which meant that she failed. She failed him. She was given a second and even a third chance and she failed. Strike three and she was out.

Ashido Mina was broken.

“Ashido,” It was barely a whisper, but she heard it all the same. The fact that he used her actual name was completely lost on her. “Go, while you still can. You can...get help... Leave me here.”

Ashido Mina was broken, but she was not defeated.

“What the h*** kind of s*** are you spouting?!” she yelled on instinct, filters chiseled away from the h*** she'd been dragged through. She didn't care if her voice fell on deaf ears. “Since when does Bakugou f***ing Katsuki ever give up on anything, d***it!?”

His eyes were no longer focused on her, staring off at something that she couldn't see, and her entire being screamed at her to pull him back. Keep him here, because if he slipped away now, he wasn't coming back.

“Blasty!” she yelled, lightly shaking him. Everything was slowing down and terror had permanently seized her bruised and battered heart. “Blast, don't you dare do this to me!”

I still have to apologize, you a***hole!

SMACK!!

She didn't know what possessed her to slap him, but she was in a state of pure, unadulterated panic and it was the only thing she could think to do. She felt herself practically deflate when his eyes suddenly brightened, a spark of life returning their colors and forcefully pulling him back to awareness. Ashido didn't care anymore. She latched onto his face, both her good and broken hands clutching his face. Her right was leaving an ugly red print against his cheek and his face weakly contorted in disgust at their proximity, but she could only lean into the familiarity.

“You can't give up, Blasty, okay!?” she yelled. “You have to hold on! You are literally the most stubborn a** person I know and I won't forgive you if you die on me now!”

What the h*** did she mean, she wouldn't forgive him?

“We're gonna survive together! We're gonna get out of here so we can kill each other ourselves, got it?! I know you're gonna want to kill me for being a s*** friend, but like h*** I'm gonna let you get away with scaring me like this!”

Her hold tightened. He only stared back at her blankly. “We're gonna have a sleepover, all five of us like before this whole stupid thing started, and you're gonna yell at us for dragging you along, but we won't care because you can't convince us that you don't love us anymore!”

She sobbed, her forehead pressing against his. “I'm so sorry, Dynamite. I'm so sorry for being a bad friend to you and Midoriya. I'm so sorry for poking my nose where it doesn't belong, and being a nosy, gossipy b**** and turning into the mean girl. I never wanted to hurt you, and I never should have, so you gotta live so we can be friends again and things can go back to normal, okay? You gotta stay with me for just a little bit longer, okay? Just a little bit longer. Everything's gonna be-”

“Ashido!! Bakugou!! Are you there?! Answer me!!!

No. F***ing. Way.

Her head shot up, the flare of pain in her back forgotten, and her eyes rose up to far above the wall, up at the edges of the world, to where a mess of red could be seen peering over the abyss. It was as if the clouds had parted and the sun had shone down on them, a promise of life and paradise opened wide for them to enter. Not just a spark, but an entire roaring fire of hope coursed through her broken, beaten body with a sense of euphoria like she'd never felt before.

She didn't realize she was sobbing, tears streaming down her dirty face. “KIRI!!! STRAIGHT DOWN!!! HURRY!!!

She couldn't make out Kirishima's face from this distance, but he jolted towards them all the same. He tensed for a long moment before he sprang into action. “I'll be right there!!!

“Ashi-”

His raspy, barely audible voice was cut off by coarse, wet coughs. Ashido twisted back around, pain coursing through her own body, and felt that fire suddenly flicker out. It was only now that she noticed just how pale he'd gotten, blood slowly pouring from his mouth as he desperately gasped for another breath and his eyes appeared glazed over. Ashido found her own airways constricting and never noticed the powerful crash of something slamming into the ground a few feet away. “Blast, don't you dare! Don't you dare die on me! Help is here! The others found us, so we're gonna be okay! Everything's gonna be okay, so just-”

“Ashido...” he forced out, cutting her off. She shut her mouth despite herself, her hand shaking in his own limp one. He looked up at her, almost through her in his hazy gaze, and Ashido was sure she would be haunted by this moment for the rest of her life.

If she didn't know any better, she'd say he tried to smile. “Sorry...for everything.”


Kaminari literally hit the ground running.

“I told you not to break your legs!” Sero yelled from somewhere above him, having not quite reached a safe distance from the ground yet, but in that moment, he couldn't have cared less.

Because Ashido was screaming.

Kaminari blanched at the sight of her. Her ankle was very clearly broken, bent over and pointing in the wrong direction, and her back was smeared with blood. Her right hand looked like it'd been stuffed into a blender and somehow kept every finger, swollen and black with all of her nails either halfway or completely gone. She was coated in smaller injuries, a sea of cuts and bruises, but that was easily the least of their problems. She was curled forward, eyes screwed shut and screaming herself raw.

And somehow, as if it were even possible, Bakugou looked so much worse. Ignoring the multitude of bruises littering his own body, his right arm looked like it had been crushed and was starting to turn startling shades of black and blue. There was a sizable pool of blood around his hip and his skin had become a sickly, ghostly white, a stark contrast to his injuries' bright colors.

But those weren't what made him nearly throw up. It was the remains of a semi-melted pole that was lodged into his stomach and painting his shirt a deep crimson that left him breathless. On closer inspection, there must have been an exit wound, because the pool of blood stretched far beyond just his hip alone. Kaminari was probably just as pale, stumbling over as Ashido took another, shaky breath and screamed hoarsely. Kirishima, on the side opposite to the pinkette, had his head against Bakugou's chest, one hand tightly around his limp one and the other pressing into his neck.

“Good lord!” Sero hissed behind him, and honestly, Kaminari couldn't blame him, because man, did it look bad. If he didn't know any better, he would think the guy was actually-

I can't find it.” It came out as a whisper. A breathless statement of disbelief as the redhead lifted his face, a look of pure, unbridled horror on his face. “Is he...

Kaminari went rigid, the indications making his heart stutter to a stop as Sero quickly moved passed him, hitting the ground next to a still emotionally distressed Ashido. Her voice was almost gone at this point.

“What do you mean, you can't find it?! What does that mean?!” Sero spat, his own muted look of terror marring his features.

His f***ing pulse!!” Kirishima yelled in his face, tears in his eyes, and Kaminari felt the world begin to collapse in on itself. “I can't-... NO!

He can't find a pulse. It's gone.

He's gone.

“Are you sure?!” Kaminari asked dumbly, unable to comprehend such a thing.

Do you really think I would joke about something like that!?!” Kirishima screamed, going back to frantically yelling at Sero while Kaminari attempted to understand what was happening.

It was...unthinkable. He just couldn't imagine it, the idea of the Lord Explosion Murder, the King of Explodo-kills, THE Bakugou Katsuki losing the ultimate battle so soon. Despite the guy's reckless tendencies, Kaminari had been personally convinced that he was either allergic to death or that death was straight up afraid of him, and that he'd outlive all of them, because he was the kind of guy who would spit in the face of the grim reaper, flip it off, and saunter off like a true hero giving a negative number of f***s.

Such wishful thinking, he realized as he stood there now, watching Kirishima examine his best friend's still form.

He looked so peaceful.

LET ME GO!!” Ashido suddenly screeched, flailing in Sero's grip as he dragged her several feet away and hugged her tightly against himself, forcing her to face away from the gory scene. She weakly fought against him, her sobs renewed.

Kaminari!” Kirishima hissed, his voice harsh and supercharged with emotion he couldn't control. “I need you to slow down the bleeding around his stomach and hip! Hurry! I will NOT let him die!

Kaminari jolted out of his stupor and stumbled over, taking the spot that Sero had vacated. If there was one class that he always tried to paid close attention to and hold decent grades in, it was heroics, and he remembered that All Might had gone over first aid with their class extensively, especially after he retired from heroics, but it was for minor to intermediate injuries, as the more major ones would be taken care of by emergency personnel. He had an idea of how to take care of the hip. He could do that. He had absolutely no f***ing clue how to deal with his stomach, except to not touch the pole.

He also had very basic CPR training, but it was, as he said, very basic. Basically how to do chest compressions. They were supposed to have more in depth life saving technique and advanced first aid classes in their second year, since that used to be when they got their licenses, but things had changed, and he really hoped that that would change alongside it soon. He didn't have the extent of training needed for this.

However, he did remember Kirishima mentioning that while training for the U.A. entrance exam, he had taken civilian classes on CPR in order to better his knowledge on saving a life on the field. The guy was practically a certified professional with how much training he'd gotten during that period of time. A part of him felt a surge of hope blossom in his chest.

And then he remembered All Might explaining that CPR was a lifesaving procedure in that it kept the blood flowing until paramedics arrived and that the success rate of resuscitation was less than fifty percent.

Kaminari!!” Kirishima's voice was already raw as he yelled at him before starting well practiced chest compressions, his jaw set and a wildfire blazing behind his eyes. Kaminari shook himself out of it and zoned in, tearing off his jacket. As much as he liked this jacket, it was replaceable.

As he expected, it was plenty easy to slow the bleeding around his hip, tying his jacket tightly around his waist in a way that would put pressure on what looked like a puncture wound. At the moment, they had literally no way of cleaning his wounds, so all he could do was slow the bleeding in hopes that Kirishima's CPR would be more effective. He didn't know if that was how it worked, but it made sense to him and f*** him if he wasn't going to try his d*** best.

Ashido's cries and mantras of pleads and apologies drifted into his awareness as Kirishima moved on to mouth-to-mouth, tilting his unconscious friend's head back and shamelessly pressing their lips together. Kaminari took in the sight of Bakugou's chest artificially rising at Kirishima's command before Ashido's shrieking became comprehensible.

“He thinks that we hate him!” she cried into Sero's shoulder, and Kaminari felt his own heart snap in two. “He can't die thinking that we hate him! He can't!

What was the last thing that Kaminari said to him? Some snide comment? An insult? To f*** off? Something worse? Whatever it was, considering the circumstances, it couldn't have been good.

Words are always so easy to throw around, and can be so painful when used recklessly. No one ever considers how they could be a double-edged sword. No one thinks about whether or not they'll ever see that person again. What they'll be left with when that person is gone. Anything could suddenly become your last words.

Why were they mad at him again? Some stupid mistakes he made as an immature middle school student? Things that had nothing to do with them?

If he thought they hated him, he wouldn't blame him. They made it pretty convincing.

Suddenly, Kaminari could feel nothing but anger towards himself.

“Anything?” Sero called, his voice dangerously shaky as Ashido continued to babble inconsolably into his collarbone.

“No!” Kirishima cried of frustration as he pressed his fingers back against Bakugou's neck. He clenched his teeth tightly and fought back his own tears as he returned to compressions. “Breathe, d***it!”

“Someone's coming, right?!” Sero shouted mostly himself. “They know we're not there! I'm sure Jirou or Rikidou have told someone!”

It was around that moment, as it became so, unbelievably clear that Kirishima's efforts were in vain, that Kaminari noticed the tears silently streaming down his face. Every second that ticked by looked more and more grim, a silent promise in the face of tragedy. It was terrifying, thinking of a world where blasts and curses that have become commonplace in the classroom will be silenced. A world without its next great hero. A sob escaped him despite himself, though it was drowned out by Ashido's hoarse wailing, but we would not let himself break down. As much as he wanted to just fall apart, as much as he wanted to cry and scream and curl up with Ashido in their misery, he couldn't bring himself to do it. Bakugou would be upset if he broke down because of him.

Kirishima lifted his face from Bakugou's, a string of curses spewing from his mouth that the ash blonde had surely taught him at some point since Kaminari hadn't even heard some of them before. He continued to work, stubbornness and an overwhelming need to save his best friend fueling him further, as if giving up now would put his death on his hands. But it seemed futile, how time continued to pass on without him-

“The voltage of a typical defibrillator,” a teacher's voice suddenly appeared in his mind like a familiar bolt of lightning. He didn't remember who, but it was in that d*** CPR class. “can range between a hundred and forty upwards to a thousand. There is no universal number between these numbers that will consistently resuscitate a human heart.”

Kaminari didn't know what possessed him in that moment, but the next thing he knew, he was shoving Kirishima away. “Stand back!”

Kirishima let out a strangled noise sounding akin to a wild animal, but in that moment, Kaminari didn't care. “Don't think you can just lie down and die on us, you f***ing a**hole!”

Electricity crackled around his body, his fingertips sparking wildly. It was a delicate operation, so he had to control his quirk at a level that he never had to before. Over a million volts could travel through his body at once if left unchecked, so he could very easily fry him if he was not careful.

If he messed up even once, there was no coming back from it.

Two hundred volts.Clear!” He pressed his fingers against Bakugou's chest and pushed, electricity cracking around him and causing his motionless body to jolt upward. He pulled away a second later, looking up at Kirishima expectantly.

He seemed to get the idea, because he immediately leaped forward and returned to compressions. Kaminari could barely feel Sero's gaze on his back in his adrenaline high and Ashido's sobbing was drowned out by his heart pounding in his ears.

“We still gotta smooth this whole clusterf*** with our class out, you hear me!?” Four hundred volts.Clear!!

Lightning began to build around the open space as Kaminari fought to suppress his quirk, running across the ground in a display that easily paled in comparison to his full, destructive power. When he'd fought alongside Bakugou and Kirishima in the provisional license exam, he'd felt so small at first, and yet he felt like a hero by the end.

His hands were left hovering above his still form, Kirishima's own forcing his heart to keep pumping. Forcing blood to circulate.

“We're heroes, d***it!” he screamed. He hoped that the others didn't catch his voice cracking. “And you know what heroes do!? Save lives, that's what!”

His fingers dug into his chest. Seven hundred and fifty volts.CLEAR!

“Hey Kacchan,” Maybe if Kaminari had opened his eyes to how easily Midoriya could approach the explosion quirk user nowadays, then none of this would have happened. Maybe he could have done something about it. “I noticed that you've been letting Kaminari call you that a lot lately. I was wondering why, if you don't mind me asking.”

Bakugou peered back towards the freckled boy seated behind him, the nerd watching him in open curiosity, and snarled. “Yes, I do f***ing mind. Why do you even care? F***ing jealous or something? Weirdo.”

Midoriya chuckled nervously, a few sweat drops rolling down his face. “I... I mean, maybe a little bit...?”

Bakugou glared at him unimpressed. Midoriya raised his hands in defense. “I mean, what I mean is that you haven't let other people get away with that for a long time! I guess you're just use to it from me.” he laughed lightly. “Why? I'm curious.”

Bakugou growled at him dangerously before turning pointedly away. Midoriya sighed, as if he'd been expecting that, and returned to writing in his notebook. It would be a minute or two before the beginning of their next class that Bakugou would lean against the front of Midoriya's desk.

“I don't really care.” he finally said. “He can call me whatever the h*** he wants.”

Midoriya had smiled brightly at that, a knowing look lurking behind his eyes, as if he were deciphering a complex code. Bakugou must have sensed it, because he shot a look back at him and flipped him off. Midoriya only smiled brighter.

He suddenly remembered with startling clarity exactly how names worked in the ash blonde's mind.

“I will not let you die!” Kaminari said through clenched teeth and glanced behind him. Sero was watching in silence, Ashido limp against him as if she'd passed out, though the death grip she had with her good hand around Sero's arm gave her away. His eyes flew back to his dying friend, a dark voice in the back of his mind reminding him that he was already dead. Whether or not he can resurrect him has yet to be seen. He could only pray for a miracle.

“I refuse! I absolutely refuse!” he yelled, his fingers already pushing back down on his still body. He could feel the icy cold of his skin through his shirt. “I WILL NOT LET YOU DIE!

“We're all getting out of this alive, together! All twenty of us!”

Nine hundred volts. CLEAR!!

Again, the chest underneath his fingers spasmed under the power of the electrical currents, his body jolting against him and kicking up dust that irritated his already watery eyes.

But then it arched with a loud, desperate gasp.

The sound genuinely scared him, Kaminari falling back in surprise while Kirishima immediately surged froward, grabbing the ash blonde and hoisting him up into a semi-seated position to accommodate for his underused lungs and the air roaring back into them. Kirishima and Sero let out twin expletives of equal shock and disbelieving ecstasy.

Bakugou's eyes were wide open, unfocused and darting around wildly. Physical movement seemed to be limited, but Kirishima still held a firm grip on his arm in case he tried to fire off his quirk in delirious panic. Kirishima's other arm was around the back of his neck to support his head and his own face was of someone who had just seen the ghost of a loved one. There was movement from behind, but Kaminari didn't take a moment to glance back at what Sero and Ashido were doing. Instead, he reached for Bakugou's other arm, cold but not frozen, and despite the risk of a charred palm, took a hold of his hand.

He was nowhere near stable. It would be ignorant to say that he would surely survive, but in that moment, hearing erratic, labored breathing and feeling a pulse beat manically against his fingers gave Kaminari such a wild sense of euphoria and accomplishment that he clung to it as if his own sanity solely depended on preserving that feeling.

He did his best, he told himself in the face of uncertainty. He did his absolute best.

It would be a moment later that the sound of a helicopter overhead caught his attention, said aircraft appearing above like the answer to prayer they'd been waiting for. Kaminari would later claim that it was like an angel dressed in black had descended from the heavens when their teacher lowered himself down with his capture weapon. He would notice later that throughout the entire ordeal, Aizawa attempted to avoid eye contact with them. When he'd first seen the state that Bakugou was in, his face had been completely hidden in his unkempt hair. The air of professionalism that he held on to always left the rest of them in awe.

Aizawa grimaced, his voice barely audible. “He's too far gone for Recovery Girl's quirk without the risk of death. Can't afford to sacrifice stamina.”

His eyes scanned the rest of them, looking them over for any other physical issues. He lingered on Ashido a moment too long before turning back to the task at hand. With well practiced precision and gentleness, he lifted his student from the dusty ground and approached the low hovering chopper and waiting gurney. As soon as he was passed off to Recovery Girl and the paramedics, Aizawa returned to them.

“I'll need a detailed explanation as to what happened here,” he said simply, making eye contact with them for the first time. His eyes looked guarded. “But that will have to wait. I imagine that the three of you can travel just fine on your own, so return to your classmates at the rescue sight. Ashido, for the purpose of efficiency, you'll be riding with me.”

Ashido was quick to comply, wordlessly holding her arms out for him to pick her up like a small, lost child. He didn't bother saying anything about it, scooping up the emotionally distressed girl and allowing her to bury her head into his shoulder and continue to cry, though Kaminari wasn't entirely sure how many tears she had left.

“Take Kaminari up first.” Kirishima told Sero, watching as Aizawa carefully climbed into the helicopter and took his seat, Ashido still comfortably curled up in his lap. His voice was completely devoid of emotion. “I'm heavier, so it'll make travel quicker.”

“Sure.” Sero responded, sounding so unbelievably exhausted.

Kirishima was quiet for a long time, his eyes never leaving the helicopter as it rose up into the air and disappeared high above the edges of the walls. His shoulders drooped, a sob escaping him. “I don't...”

Sero let out a shaky sigh, lightly setting a hand on his shoulder in understanding. “It's fine. Let's just... Let's just head back. We'll talk later.”

“Yeah.”

Sero motioned for Kaminari to follow him, the electric blonde complying wordlessly. Sero grabbed onto him tightly, a look of concern in his own dead eyes, before he shot a line of tape up to the ledge where they'd come from and began their ascent.

Chapter Text

Day 1

The sun was setting behind the cloud covered sky, blanketing the landscape in a blue-ish hue. The area was a good distance out from the epicenter, so damage was at a minimum in comparison other places, where entire cities were reduced to dust. Even here, where buildings were still standing with shattered windows and chipped foundations, mothers chattered and children screamed, a dizzying mix of happy reunions and terrified cries over the wailing of ambulances assaulting her ears as emergency workers continued to fight against her relentless trajectory, wading through rocks and concrete towards the remains of a familiar office building.

By the time she got there, through the traffic, personnel, heroes, and waves of civilians searching for some kind of security, the entire office complex was in complete and utter disarray. Police and paramedics were stubborn in trying to hold her back, but frankly, Bakugou Mitsuki couldn't give less of a f***.

Due to her and her son's...destructive tendencies, their phone company was being a b**** and a half when it came to replacing her newly demolished cell phone, smashed in a fit of rage after a particularly nasty confrontation with her brat the other day. Masaru got a call that night from Katsuki's friend with the bright red hair confirming that the punk had managed to do the exact same thing. Weren't they just a pair?

For the rest of the week, her little meltdown ended up really biting her in the a**, the loss of an important form of communication costing her a couple job offers and the paychecks that came with them. Masaru had told her not to worry about it, and that he could just work overtime to keep their income at a steady rate, but it was still annoying and for the time being, she only felt like a hindrance and that really nagged her.

And now life decided that it was going to be a b**** and ten more about it by calling up motherf***ing nature and telling her to go f*** up everyone's lives just for s***s and giggles.

After the initial earthquake, she'd been quick to escape from her home, which was thankfully still standing for the most part, and started on her journey towards her husband's workplace almost instantly. She had no way of knowing if he was okay at the time, so the only way to know for sure, she reasoned, was to go searching for him herself. She trusted U.A., so she could only hope that damage at the school was at a minimum. Her brat was a stubborn one, anyway. He could take care of himself.

She hadn't talked to Katsuki since their last fight, one of the worst they'd had in a while. He'd yelled and screamed and threatened her plenty of times, as had she to him, but she couldn't remember the last time they'd told each other to go die and came anywhere close to meaning it. Masaru had been clambering for her to make amends as soon as she got the chance, and Masaru, being the doormat he was, only really got on their cases if it got particularly bad, so she couldn't help but wonder if they'd perhaps gone too far.

They told each other to kill themselves. That was probably too far.

She'd run into Midoriya Inko on her way, the apartment complex she lived in being examined for any severe structural damage or injured residents that might not have gotten out. She was rather panicked over the whole situation, especially since Izuku had yet to answer any of her calls. The two of them triple and quadruple checked for any updates from U.A., but it seemed that they had yet to say anything.

“That should be good, right?” Mitsuki reasoned as Inko continued to pace. “If something happened at the school, they'd tell us, right?”

Inko nodded in response, a look of concern still marring her features as she waited for any news of her son's whereabouts. Even if damage was minimum, the boy had quite the hero complex and would throw himself into danger constantly if it meant that someone else would be safe. Her own brat could tell you all about that.

Inko, bless her heart, was kind enough to let her borrow her cell phone to contact her husband, a wave of relief washing over her when his breathless voice came through the speaker. He was quick to reassure her, even through the yelling in the background, and Mitsuki promised to meet him at work. Though Masaru didn't seem all that fond of her braving the elements to get to him when aftershocks were a very real threat, he also knew that his wife was a force of nature on her own, so he eventually relented to her wishes and promised to wait for her.

It had taken all day for her to get there, between the aftershocks and the heroes and workers constantly getting in her way and trying to turn her away. She was sure she'd be on some hero blog somewhere for nearly socking Kamui Woods in the jaw, but as previously stated, she could not possibly give a single f***. She's a woman on a mission and she wants her d*** hubby, thank you very much.

Now here, at the fashion agency that Masaru worked at, when the night was just barely approaching and carelessly leaving Japan in a state of disarray, she felt her blood pressure rising every minute that she didn't know where her husband even was. She barely registered the fact that people were literally scrambling to stay out of her path as she stormed through, screaming Masaru's name like a demon on a warpath for a human running from their pact.

“Excuse me.” a voice spoke behind her. She must have had quite the glare at the moment, because the person behind her recoiled in fear. She recognized him a moment later as one of Masaru's associates, though she couldn't remember his name for the life of her. He nervously tugged at the collar of his shirt. “You're, uh... You're Mrs. Bakugou, correct?”

Mitsuki stared at him incredulously. “Yeah?”

The man exhaled. “Okay. Um, your husband told me to tell you to meet him at Musutafu hospital.” he explained, Mitsuki's brows shooting upward. “I was getting a ride from a very kind officer myself to see my mother and make sure she's okay. You can come with me if you'd like.”

“The hospital?” Mitsuki repeated slowly. “Why the h*** is he at the hospital? What did he even do?”

“Nobody's told you?” the man questioned, and Mitsuki felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. “He seemed pretty panicked. He didn't tell me what happened, but it had to do with your son.”

“Katsuki?” Katsuki's in the hospital?

She didn't even thank him for the ride. She just shoved herself into the backseat of the cruiser alongside him and ignored her own panicky movements. Neither the officer nor the man next to her said anything about her restless leg or nails hitting against the window. It took every ounce of willpower she had left to not snap at them whenever they offered any form of reassurance or encouragement. The man gave up when she shot him a look that could have easily turned him to dust if she had the ability.

She didn't check to see if she actually broke something with how hard she slammed the car door shut before diving into the multitudes of people swarming around the hospital. The place was an absolute mad house, especially with some of the building damaged from the earthquake and in need of repairs. Several of the less injured patients had to be sent to other hospitals in the area in order to accommodate for the influx that they were experiencing. Through the crowds cramming in to see their loved ones, one could find themselves trapped in a prison of bodies pressed together in their efforts to move about the hospital lobby.

But that wasn't an issue for one Bakugou Mitsuki. As if her powerful rage aura could be sensed, the crowds parted for her as if she was Moses before the Red Sea. The poor girl working the front desk just about threw up in fright from a single moment of eye contact with her.

“I'm here for my punk.” she said curtly, her nerves still eating at her, as the girl flailed for words to respond to her demands. Mitsuki couldn't understand a single thing that came out of her mouth through her stuttering.

“Mrs. Bakugou.” a familiar voice drawled, and Mitsuki whirled around to face who she recognized as Katsuki's homeroom teacher. If she thought he'd looked tired when she'd first met him, then the man looked like he was going to drop dead at any moment now. His unkempt hair was in even greater disarray than it normally was and there were bags under his eyes the color of his shirt. All in all, he looked like he wanted to die.

He gestured for her to follow, so she obediently fell into step behind him. The lobby was far too loud for normal conversation, though she could have overpowered it easily if she really wanted to, but she stayed quiet anyway. She would get her explanation eventually. It was just that waiting for said conversation was driving her up the wall. She suddenly had the overwhelming urge to punch something. She should have followed through with decking Kamui Woods.

She was led to a private waiting room, blessedly quiet compared to the mayhem out in the front lobby. There was a young looking girl off to the side, staring intently at her phone and trying not to cry while a family a ways away was deep in prayer, taking turns speaking to whatever god it was that they so strongly believed in. On the other side of the room, a little girl was blissfully coloring in a book with a large bucket of crayons while an old man watched with tears in his eyes.

And at the far end of the room were her husband and Inko, the woman attempting to pull Masaru back from what looked like an oncoming panic attack as he sat in an uncomfortable chair with his hands pulling at his hair and his glasses missing.

Inko turned to the sound of their approaching footsteps, her eyes widening at the sight of them. She let out a loud sob, her face crumbling and a hand over her mouth as she searched for words. Before Mitsuki could say anything, the plump little woman had run up and thrown her arms around her, crying into her blouse.

“Mitsuki...” her voice cracked. “I'm so sorry, Mitsuki.”

“What the h*** is going on!?” Mitsuki yelled, Inko flinching against her. Her eyes traveled between her distraught husband and the solemn underground hero. “Can someone please tell me what's going on?!”

Her eyes locked with Eraserhead's. Mitsuki was no fool. As terrifying as the possible picture was, she could piece the puzzle together. “Where the f*** is my son?!?

The teacher, Aizawa, she remembered, let out a long sigh and rubbed at his face. “He's currently in surgery.”

Surgery wasn't always something to panic over. Surgery wasn't the reason that her husband was losing his s***. Mitsuki was about to say as much when Aizawa lifted his free hand to stop her.

“Your son's class was on an outing in a part of City A sitting extremely close to the epicenter of the earthquake and he and another student were caught in a building collapse.” he explained. His hand fell from his eyes, revealing an unreadable expression. “His classmate suffered broken bones at worst... Your son, however, was mortally wounded.”

He pointedly turned away from her, his eyes guarded. “He was impaled through the stomach by a piece of rebar, which severely ruptured the organ and resulted in heavy blood loss. The medical staff are doing everything in their power to ensure his survival, but as it stands right now, things don't look very promising. I am deeply sorry, but there's a very good chance that he's not going to make it.”

There's a very good chance that he's not going to make it.

He's not going to make it.

He's not going to make it.

Mitsuki could only stare blankly at the man, mouth agape and words gone, her voice swallowed into the void of nothingness that was eating away at her soul.

Something hurt. Something hurt and she didn't like it.

“That...that's not funny.” she stammered. Her newly recovered voice sounded near hysterical to her own ears. “Y-You're kidding me, right? My son, my boy, my Katsuki? Ha! That kid, bratty punk a** demon spawn or not, is one of the best d*** future heroes that this side of the Pacific will ever f***ing see, and you're telling me that he's dying?

A glimpse of what might have been a sliver of regret flashed across his eyes. “Yes.”

She faintly wondered if this was what being struck by lightning felt like. Inko's voice sounded muffled, Masaru's quiet presence nearly forgotten, and Mitsuki wondered for a second if she was actually about to faint.

“Make it easier for both of us and go throw yourself into traffic!”

“I don't believe you.” The unsteadiness in her voice was blaring among the white noise. “I want to see him.”

“Mitsuki-”

“You can't.” Aizawa said simply.

Liar! ” she shrieked, causing everyone in the room but the tired hero to jump. “I want to see my son! Where the f*** is he!?

“Mitsuki, you're being hysterical!” Masaru called out. “Please calm down!”

I'M COMPLETELY F***ING CALM!! ” she screamed back. She completely missed the fond, far off glint in Aizawa's eyes before it was completely smothered.

Apparently, she'd completely lost her f***ing mind and gone into full blown panic mode, because she'd flipped a coffee table and hurled a chair at a door before her husband and Eraserhead were able to properly hold her back and drag her out. She didn't remember a thing of this, only suddenly finding herself back outside the hospital with her husband rubbing her back as she dry heaved over a garbage can.

It wasn't suppose to be this way. Her brat was strong. Too strong. Too tough and loud and full of himself to let something like death take him out of a fight. He may be a brat, but he was her brat. Just because she asked for death to intervene in a mindless fit of seething rage didn't mean that she actually wanted it. She never wanted this. Is her life some kind of cosmic joke or something?! Why does it always have to be him!?

Then again, maybe she's the one who can't take a joke, as this was the cruelest one the universe could conger up. How many times would her own words and actions come to kick her while she's down?

“It's been a long time since you completely lost it like this.” Masaru said fondly, his voice unsteady and cracking. “And you still question where Katsuki got it from.”

“Shut your d*** mouth.” she coughed out, gasping for air as if she hadn't breathed in years. She stood up, wobbling against him as if she were drunk, and soon found herself sitting on a bench with Masaru's arm around her shoulders, watching as a young boy played Heroes and Villains with his older sister and they chased each other around the grass, and suddenly, she could see shadows of the man next to her running through their yard with a small child with bright red eyes and light blonde hair.

And Mitsuki buried her face into her husband's chest and screamed .

Because it wasn't fair that that might be how they leave off. It wasn't fair that she never even got the chance to try and fix it. It wasn't fair that her boy was dying.

Katsuki is still just a boy. He's a kid. He's her kid.

Her kid is dying.

The two of them agreed to stay the night at the hospital, waiting for any news of Katsuki's condition and surrendering to the fact that there was no way they would sleep that night. They were warned that even if he survived the operation, there was still the threat of the strain against his body, his mental state, and possible infection. The odds were not in their favor.

The hardest part was accepting that there was nothing they could do about it. She couldn't even be there for him.

When Mitsuki was finally allowed back into the waiting room after her mental breakdown, everyone else had left, the lone occupant in the room being a familiar boy with brilliant red hair. The moment their eyes met, the poor kid burst into tears, burying his face in his hands and a fountain of apologies spilling from his lips. She didn't know whether or not it was the motherly instinct that she so blatantly lacked rising from the recesses of her heart, but her immediate response was to run up to the boy and throw her arms around him.

He seized in her grip, his own strong arms wrapping around her a moment after. “ I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I let this happen. I did my best, I really did. I promise.

“Calm down, kiddo.” she whispered, her eyes watering, because what did her son do to deserve such a wonderful friend like this? “I believe you. Thank you so much.”

He sobbed into her already ruined blouse, his muffled cries and her husband's sniffling the only sounds in the otherwise empty waiting room, and frankly, Bakugou Mitsuki couldn't give less of a f***.

She wanted her son back.


Day 2

At first, she didn't understand, but maybe it was because that they weren't particularly close by comparison that she was elected to make the delivery. That, and it had ultimately been her idea.

Yaoyorozu didn't want to be here. She really didn't want to be here right now, but for the sake of her classmates, she had to power through. She was stronger now, after all. A hero in the making.

In her arms had been three bouquets, two of them already delivered to their respective recipients. She'd stopped by Midoriya's room first, the freckled boy still fast asleep and recovering. The doctors said that he would probably be unconscious for a little while longer and may possibly wake up with slight memory loss, but he should be fine. Yaoyorozu couldn't be more thankful that she wasn't the one who would be forced to tell him what happened. At the very least, she could brighten up his room with the beautiful bouquet that she, Uraraka, and Todoroki had put together, left for him to wake up to.

She honestly felt extremely guilty for chickening out and asking a nurse to give the pink roses to Ashido, saying that it was from 'her boys' and that she'd understand what that meant. She didn't want to be the one to update her on everything. It was a possibility that Aizawa-sensei had already done so, but Yaoyorozu couldn't take the chance. She didn't want to be the one to tell her, and Aizawa had been rather cautious about the subject anyway.

“Keep quiet for now.” Aizawa had said. “I will let you know what happens. If the worst comes to pass, I will inform you myself.”

Yaoyorozu and Iida had both exchanged solemn, empty looks. Iida sucked in a breath. “What exactly is his current condition?”

“He survived the surgery,” their teacher responded, “But he's in critical condition and on life support. Due to the severity of his injuries, Recovery Girl is unable to heal him right now, as the sudden drop in stamina would outright kill him.”

It was blunt, like a sledgehammer against drywall, and Yaoyorozu felt her body grow weak against her will as Iida became unnaturally rigid beside her. It was one thing to face danger every other day as growing heroes. It was something else entirely to be told that your classmate, one that had previously been treated unfairly, was in grave danger and there was nothing you could do about it.

It was disheartening, to put it extremely lightly.

“Rest, if you can.” Aizawa sighed, walking passed them. “Right now, all we can do is wait. Whatever happens, happens.”

The last bouquet in her arms suddenly felt heavier. The class had collectively agreed that tiger lilies were the most appropriate option, but while buying flowers, they ultimately decided that having Yaoyorozu create plastic ones would be for the best.

No one mentioned that it was mostly because the thought of those beautiful orange blooms, bright, lively, and symbolizing wealth and pride , eventually wilting away and dying within the week made them all feel sick.

Long blonde hair suddenly caught her attention, revealing a disheveled Present Mic, his hair down and wearing civilian clothing. He had two hot drinks in hand, uncharacteristically silent as he passed through the throngs of people around them. Yaoyorozu wasn't sure what had taken her over, but she suddenly found herself quietly following after him.

She had to be especially cautious, the bright orange flowers still in her arms like a beacon to her location. She crept through the tighter packs of people, watching as he disappeared around a corner separated from the rest of the corridor. It was easy to carefully tip toe her way over to where he'd gone, hidden around a corner where silence continued to reign. Hugging the tiger lilies to her chest, she peered around the corner.

Present Mic stood in front of a seated Aizawa, his hair tied back in a messy ponytail as he stared tiredly at the drink now in his hands.

Present Mic sighed. “How you feeling, Eraser?”

“Tired.” he answered in monotone.

Another sigh. “You're always tired...”

Aizawa took a long sip of his drink, likely a coffee, and continued to stare blankly at nothing. The thing was that he didn't just look tired. He was downright exhausted, with bags under his eyes and complexion paler than usual. He rubbed at his face, his movements sluggish, and let his hand drop down beside him a moment later.

“You know, Shouta...” Present Mic started, a thoughtful look in his eyes. “He's shown over and over again that he's a pretty resilient kid. I think he's got a chance. It's bad, but-”

“Mic,” His voice rumbled dangerously, his eyes still dull and tired. “What have I told you about heroes and being optimistic?”

It wasn't very often that Yaoyorozu saw Present Mic so serious, still as death and a sad look of sympathy washing over him. It wasn't very often that he spoke so quietly.

It also wasn't very often that her homeroom teacher, the one who encouraged and pushed her forward, looked so defeated, letting out a harsh sigh as he set his drink down and allowed his shoulders to slump with his face in his hands. It was the single most vulnerable moment she'd ever experienced.

And she'd never felt so invasive towards someone's privacy in her life.

She quietly and quickly fled the scene, not wanting to intrude any more than she already had. She knew she wasn't suppose to see any of that. She never actually wanted to be here.

The flowers in her arms suddenly didn't seem so bright.

It was like her feet were lead when she finally reached her destination, nurses pointing her to a startlingly serene man with soft, strained eyes and a kind smile, as fake as it was. When she'd handed him the flowers, saying that they were for his son from the class, he'd burst into tears, grasping her hands and thanking her profusely, and Yaoyorozu found herself at a loss for words, unsure of how she was suppose to respond to this.

She ended up retreating yet again, saying that she needed to return to school while thanking him for his time. Again, she felt terrible for it, but she just couldn't handle all of this, some part of her chastising herself for her lack of action when she could have maybe somehow prevented all of this from happening. Last night had already been near impossible to sleep through, and tonight was going to be just as bad. She could tell.

Of course, she thought that she was done, that her day could now end and she could go wallow in her own self pity in the welcome solitude of her dorm room while she waited in bated breath for the fate of her classmate. As it turns out, she was wrong.

Walking briskly out of the hospital doors, trying to separate herself from their tragic reality as much as she could, she spotted a head of hair from her peripheral vision that she could never in her entire life possibly miss. He was alone, silently sitting on a bench with his hands in his lap as he absentmindedly watched the crowds passing by. Yaoyorozu approached him somewhat cautiously, peering over his shoulder while making her presence known as to not startle him. “Todoroki?”

Said boy turned to look at her, blinking at her before letting out a quiet 'oh' and scooting over as a quiet invitation. As much as she wanted to get as far away from this hospital as she possibly could, she just couldn't find it in herself to decline, so she sat down next to him, dusting off her skirt.

She pointedly ignored the plastic orange petal that must have gotten pulled off one of the flowers, having been caught on her clothing up until now. She didn't miss how Todoroki eyed it even after it had fluttered to the ground.

She wasn't sure how long they'd sat there in comfortable silence, simply enjoying the nice weather and each other's company, before she found it in herself to break the silence and perhaps start a conversation. “So, what are you doing here, if you don't mind my asking?”

Todoroki glanced at her before returning to staring off at the city landscape. “I came with Uraraka and Asui to check on Midoriya. They're expecting him to wake up any day now.”

“I see.” Yaoyorozu nodded. “I was there not too long ago delivering the flower bouquets, though I didn't see either of them. They must have come by after I left.”

Todoroki made a sound of acknowledgment, now staring at his hands. “I'm not sure why, but I felt uncomfortable in there, so I'm waiting for them out here. If they're not back yet, I imagine that they wanted to visit with Ashido as well.”

“That would make sense.”

The two fell back into silence, Yaoyorozu playing with the hem of her skirt while Todoroki continued to stare at his hands. At first, nothing seemed to change, but then she noticed the air around her getting steadily warmer before suddenly dropping back to normal. She chanced a glance at her companion, who was now practically glaring at his left hand before both of them slowly curled up into fists. It was almost beautiful, watching the small flames licking at the knuckles of his left hand and the frost gleaming in the sunlight on his right. The moment was gone a second later, his arms relaxing as the elements disappeared from around him and his hands dropping limping back into his lap, his shoulders drooping with them.

“We were supposed to have our rematch today.”

Yaoyorozu visibly jolted, not expecting him to suddenly speak up after his little moment just then. When her brows furrowed at him, he motioned his head towards the ground, by a crack in the sidewalk where the orange petal still sat.

Oh.

Yaoyorozu's heart sank. She bit her lip as Todoroki continued on. “It was much earlier this week. He was complaining about that whole fiasco at the sports festival again and when he demanded his rematch, I decided to accept it this time. I couldn't tell you why, but I felt like... I felt that it would be appropriate.”

He tilted his head up, staring at the sky as a patch of clouds momentarily hid the sun. “I would like to think that we were on neutral ground by then, or at least at an understanding of where we stood with each other. A trust thing, perhaps.” His blank expression slowly morphed into a scowl. “And then I found out about...all of that, and suddenly, it was as if nothing had changed between us since day one.”

A thoughtful look crossed his features before he lightly shook his head. “No, it was more than that. It was like...a retrogression. A severe one. A betrayal of sorts. You understand, right?”

Yaoyorozu nodded along, not saying a word as to chance interrupting him. This was by far the most that she'd ever heard him speak at one time. “I will be honest with you, after that, I'd wanted that rematch more than ever, just so I could get revenge. Knock him down a few pegs. I actually told him so at one point, believe it or not. I might have even threatened his life, though I don't quite remember, and I doubt that I would ever go so far. I was just...so angry. The strange thing is, though, that he'd seemed genuinely elated by my threat. I only realized recently that it was because I was giving him exactly what he wanted.”

He sighed. “I do wish we could have fought. I was starting to look forward to it myself, even if it was for the wrong reasons. Perhaps... Perhaps we could have worked something out. Now everything just feels backwards and upside down. It's...discombobulating.”

“I understand what you mean.” Yaoyorozu quietly responded. “The dorms are so quiet now, and everyone just seems so...sad.”

“It will be a lot quieter now, won't it?”

Yaoyorozu felt herself blanch, the implications of Todoroki's words sending chills down her spine. She balled her hands into fists as they sat in her lap, her vision somewhat blurry. “You say that as if he were already gone.” she said, barely above a whisper.

Todoroki didn't respond immediately, his expression left blank and well guarded. The quiet had suddenly become heavy, constricting and almost suffocating in its weight. The crowds were muffled to her ears as she gazed at the profile of his face, a bright blue eye, normally radiant and glowing in contrast to the dark burn scar surrounding it, seemingly dulled out, its color muted.

“The way I see it,” he finally started, a far away look in his eyes. “...It's better to assume the worst and maybe be pleasantly surprised later than to expect the best case scenario only to have your heart broken.”

He stood up at that, Yaoyorozu startled by the sudden movement. “I can hear Uraraka's and Asui's voices.” he stated somewhat hurriedly. “Let's go back to the dorms.”

And he walked away, meeting the two girls halfway, and left Yaoyorozu to deal with these new, violently writhing emotions making her stomach feel as if it was doing back flips and somersaults. She could hear the two talking about Ashido, mentioning how depressed she seems to be; how worried they are about her. She overhears them mention that the pinkette is refusing Recovery Girl's treatment, adamant on healing naturally, though she doesn't catch why. In the end, wordlessly following them away from the hospital, she could only be grateful for the chance of escape from such an asphyxiating atmosphere.

She never really wanted to be there.


Day 3

Deku woke up early that morning, and Uraraka just couldn't bring herself to be the first one to see him.

Apparently, he'd come to in a panic, the last thing he remembered being his 'hero sense' going completely haywire. He seemed to remember a good bit more than the doctors had been expecting, and he'd been so determined to find out where Bakugou and Ashido were that they literally had to sedate him to keep him from hurting himself.

He woke up again that afternoon, having learned his lesson and patiently waiting for any news that he could get. His mother had come to see him in the wave of emotions that was expected of her, and Uraraka could imagine that she'd gotten on his case for getting himself hurt again. Aizawa-sensei and All Might had also gone to visit him, leaving not long after to discuss reconstruction efforts with other heroes and emergency personnel. Through everything that's happened, the one and only good thing that seems to have come out of it for anybody was that Uraraka's parents were finally getting some paid jobs to assist with fixing City A. She could only hope that they didn't overwork themselves.

It was a little while after All Might finished talking with Deku that Uraraka and Iida had arrived just outside his hospital room, both eager to see their friend. Uraraka caught the knowing look that Iida shared with their homeroom teacher as he approached them.

“You two don't have to visit him now if you're not ready, but if you do and he asks anything,” he said, directed to the class rep, his voice holding an intimidating level of severity. “I'm giving you permission to answer. He has a right to know.”

Iida seemed to go pale, but nodded with enthusiasm nonetheless. For a moment, Aizawa looked extremely apologetic before following after the retreating form of the former number one hero for damage control while the two students peered into the room.

And Uraraka nearly passed out.

Deku, with bandages all around his face and left hand and his leg in a cast, turned to them and beamed. A grin spread across his face as he waved to them with his uninjured hand and his eyes practically sparkled in the afternoon sun, bright and alive and happy.

He didn't know. There's no way he knew.

Aizawa left breaking the news to them.

She was going to have some very choice words for their teacher once this incoming train wreck cleared up, because that just wasn't in character. Or cool.

“I'm so glad you guys are okay!” he cheered, relief evident. If Uraraka looked more closely, she could see a well hidden mounting fear in his eyes, as if the longer he waited, the more he understood that something bad was going on. He was a smart guy, after all. “I've been really worried about everyone.”

“And everyone has been worried about you!” Iida exclaimed. “You need to stop being so reckless, Midoriya! This isn't good for your health!”

“I know, I know. I'm sorry.” He didn't sound sorry at all. “I just wanted to make sure everyone made it out safely. The other girl got out, right?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Uraraka said. “It was the little girl, an older one, and their parents, right?”

“Yeah! Thank goodness.”

Uraraka liked to think that she'd been friends with Deku for long enough to catch on to certain little nuances about her friend's behavior. She noticed after a moment that he seemed somewhat nervous, his hand gripping the metal bar of his bed and his free foot lightly bouncing against the mattress. He seemed to be fighting his eyebrows, as if he was practicing control over his emotions, and his teeth were subtly grinding against each other.

He was worried. He was still worried because he was a smart guy, and he knew that something was wrong, and the longer his questions were ignored, the closer he'd come to catching on himself.

He has a right to know.

“So, um...” he started, fidgeting slightly. “How's the rest of the class doing? Did everyone make it back safely?”

Neither of them answered immediately. Uraraka realized a moment too late what the silence clearly emphasized as Deku's face suddenly fell, the underlying worry rising to the surface.

“What happened?”

Uraraka felt her heart crack as he leaned forward. “You have to tell me. Nobody is telling me anything! Not the doctors, not the nurses, and not mom. I was going to ask Aizawa-sensei, but All Might wanted to talk to me about something privately and they were both in a hurry.”

Ah. So that's what happened. Uraraka still didn't appreciate it.

“No one else will tell me anything and I'm starting to get really scared, you guys!” he said, his hands shaking. “Please just tell me what's going on!”

He swallowed. “Where are Kacchan and Ashido?”

It was like someone had sucked the air right out of her lungs. Uraraka was left without a voice, gaping and searching for some kind of sound that could perhaps be mistaken for human language if nothing else. She hoped beyond hope that she wouldn't cry.

“Ashido will be okay.” Iida had answered almost immediately, already braced for the inevitable, and Uraraka couldn't help but admire his strength in that moment. “From what I remember, she fell from a great height at some point. She suffered from a broken ankle, a cracked vertebrae, several broken fingers, and a minor concussion. However, she is fully aware, tended to, and well on her way to a full recovery. She's fine, I promise.”

Deku was biting his lip, his face pinched as he swallowed and Uraraka would bet her entire allowance that it was a feeling of unfounded guilt crawling back down his throat. He looked down at his lap with watery eyes, glaring at his broken body as if it'd seriously offended him. Such a caring heart, so dangerously worn on his sleeve with the scars and cracks that he hoarded like dragon's gold. She might not ever be able to fully understand this side of him.

That was the thought that ran through her mind when Deku swiveled back around to face them expectantly. “And Kacchan?”

Iida fell silent, Uraraka doing everything in her power to not just fall apart right then and there. It was as if she were concealing a dagger, waiting for the moment to strike as an unsuspecting, innocent and trusting victim welcomed her with open arms. The seconds ticked by, with every sound and nuance in the room amplified in her ears.

It was morbidly fascinating in a way, watching the way the look in Deku's eyes morphed into something else entirely, the familiar, welcoming glow fading away as he began to succumb to a growing feeling of uncontrollable horror.

Iida was so much stronger than she was. They were all so much stronger than her.

He has a right to know.

“I...” Iida inhaled sharply. “I'm so sorry, Midoriya... He...he was gravely injured in the disaster and is in critical condition. Aizawa-sensei isn't optimistic... And the doctors don't think he'll last much longer.”

Uraraka saw the exact moment in which Deku's world crumbled, where his eyes went blank as he stared at them in complete and utter disbelief. The look in Iida eyes was that of utter defeat. “I'm so sorry, Midoriya.

He didn't respond, only turning to look forward and staring blankly with unseeing eyes, wide with unbridled shock and pupils dilated dangerously. His free hand shook violently, a light, magenta glow flickering in and out of existence. Long, agonizing seconds ticks by where reality came crashing into them like a tidal wave, leaving them gasping for air before they were ultimately sucked under the current.

“Midoriya, breathe.” Iida's voice cut through her muddled internal thoughts like a meat cleaver, forcing her attention to Deku hyperventilating. Iida was hovering close by, calculating how to approach his friend as tears began to stream down the freckled boy's face and he curled into himself.

“Uraraka, he's having a panic attack.” Iida informed her urgently, gesturing to the call button. “Please call for a nurse.”

Deku's breathing quickened to a dizzying pace as he curled further into himself, uncaring of his injured limbs. With his working fingers, his hand carted into his hair and tugged violently. Uraraka wasn't emotionally or mentally prepared for when he threw his head downward and screamed.

Uraraka immediately knew, right then and there, that this, this was what heartbreak sounded like.

“Why did you say that?!” Deku had asked frantically as they squeezed through the tight hallway clustered with students, though the venom in his voice was only apparent in hindsight.

“Because he should know better than to shove people.” Uraraka huffed, glaring over to the end of the hall where Bakugou and Kirishima had migrated alone, the redhead with an arm around his back and a slightly dimmer smile. For some reason, she'd ignored that detail.

“Our shoulders barely grazed each other! It's crowded in the halls at lunchtime, Uraraka! I don't even think he noticed me! You're not being fair!”

“Well maybe he's had it coming!” she'd responded heatedly, her face in a pout and fists clenched at even the thought of someone daring to ever treat her friend so poorly.

Thinking back, Deku had looked ready to slug her. At the time, she'd only noticed the tears building in his eyes, and Uraraka had nearly panicked. “H- Hey, hey! Don't cry, Deku! Everything's fine! You're our friend, so we'll protect you no matter what, okay? We're not scared of him.”

Her promise only seemed to make him even more upset, which had greatly confused her. At the tilt of her head, the tears had spilled over and he rubbed at his face.

“I can't believe you all.” he'd said. “I trusted you guys, you know! I trusted you guys and now you're all just being a bunch of bullies!”

Uraraka flinched. “Bullies?! Deku, that's not fair-”

“Do not .” Deku warned, Uraraka immediately shutting up in response. “I am sick of this, Uraraka! I'm gonna go eat by myself.”

“Deku, wait-”

“Don't talk to me until you've apologized to Kacchan!”

It had really thrown her for a loop. That wasn't Deku being righteous. That was Deku being defensive. That wasn't Deku's hero complex. That was Deku's protective side.

And he'd kept his word as well, avoiding her like the plague for the rest of the day with a strange, unnerving mix of a childish pout and a righteous fury burning behind his eyes, overlying a deep sadness. Whenever they made eye contact, it was like she was looking at a different person. From this new, isolated perspective that she'd been thrust into, she started to notice things, like Kirishima's lack of energy and Deku's perpetual bad mood, snapping at almost everyone in their class. Strangely enough, no one really seemed to notice this.

And Bakugou was deliberately avoiding him. If Deku was there, he either stayed as far away as possible or left the room entirely. At first, Uraraka had thought that he was mad at Deku for revealing the truth, but she wasn't so blind as to not see the inconsistencies of her previous accusations. It was later that she realized that he was simply trying to avoid conflict. The only person that he would even try to talk to that entire time was Kirishima, and that was when she started to notice the slouch in his posture and the tired look in his eyes, and started to wonder if things had maybe escalated too far. If she maybe hadn't given their budding friendship enough credit, or was perhaps undermining the respect that she'd earned in his eyes. She thought that perhaps she could find time during that outing to City A that they'd be going on tomorrow afternoon to talk things out with them. Both of them.

Well, so much for that.

Uraraka and Iida were soon kicked out of the room, as Deku actually managed to pass out due to a mixture of shock and a lack of oxygen from hyperventilation and the doctors wanted to make sure it wasn't some kind of emergency. Though he held his rigid posture, Iida looked absolutely devastated, sitting heavily onto an uncomfortable hospital chair and tearing off his glasses to rub at his red face. Uraraka supposed that even the best heroes had breaking points.

Uraraka vaguely remembered that Aizawa had actually been kind enough to warn them about the incoming storm. At least, she knew that Iida had caught on from the look on his face. “We didn't have to do that.”

Iida paused for a moment, but only for a moment. “You didn't have to, Uraraka, but as class representative and an aspiring hero, I feel that it is my duty to confront these obstacles with my head held high.”

He chanced looking up at her, and the sadness evident in his soft expression broke her heart. “I am grateful that you stayed, though. Your presence was reassuring.”

Was it really? She'd felt like a complete mess the entire time. Could just being there really have helped that much?

Iida looked away. “I just wish that I could do more. Our classmate is in such dire peril and there is quite literally nothing that any of us can do about it. I feel so helpless.”

“Yeah...” Uraraka sighed. “He's always been a trouble magnet, huh? Too ambitious for the world to handle and too hardcore for us to understand.”

“Uraraka...”

Her breath shook. “Deku shouldn't have talked to me. I haven't apologized yet.”

The world grew blurry. She couldn't recognize her own voice. “...I wanna apologize.

Strong arms wrapped around her, and it was then that Uraraka realized that she was actually crying. Her knees gave out, Iida easily taking her full weight as she fell against him and openly sobbed.

She cried about Deku's heartbreak. She cried about Bakugou's predicament. She cried about the deaths of thousands of innocent people. She cried about the fear and pain and sheer hopelessness that they were all left with.

She cried because it wasn't fair. None of this was fair. She cried because they hadn't been fair.

It was actually terrifying in hindsight, how all of that effort in befriending her most volatile classmate had been so easily discarded. How the respect she had earned by her own strength had been wasted.

And now, for all she knew, he was gone, too.

And so she knelt there on the dirty hospital floor, in the embrace of one of her closest friends, and she cried.


Day 4

Jirou hadn't known what to expect when she felt a tug on her pant leg and glanced down to find Mineta looking back up at her.

The common room was uncomfortably silent, with most of her classmates either hiding out in their rooms or at the hospital. Classes that day had been a serious drag and according to Aizawa, their collective performances in heroics class were abysmal. She overheard from a conversation between Present Mic and Vlad King that Aizawa and All Might had been adamant on canceling a scheduled joint class with class 1-B that was suppose to happen that day, and Jirou couldn't possibly be more grateful for that.

Rikidou was stress baking, already stuck with several batches of cookies and three cakes that couldn't possibly be eaten in time before they all went stale. Sero was playing a video game on the common room TV by himself, completely on autopilot and simply just going through the motions. His expression appeared bored at first glance, but closer inspection revealed that he wasn't focused and simply lost in thought. Hagakure and Ojiro had both fallen asleep on the couch opposite to herself, both a little too comfortable with their proximity as Hagakure laid on top of him completely out cold. Jirou couldn't help but absentmindedly think about how Ashido would be teasing them relentlessly if she was here.

With a huff, Jirou unplugged herself from her phone and stared down at her perverted classmate from her spot on the couch with an annoyed look. “No, I am absolutely not sending you pics of Yaomomo. Your stupid a** puppy dog eyes aren't doing you any favors.”

Mineta almost looked offended at the accusation. “No! This isn't about Yaoyorozu! ...In fact, it has nothing to do with girls. It's important, honest.”

Jirou raised an eyebrow, leaning forward from the couch to watch him skeptically. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah... I was wondering if you could talk to Kaminari.”

That caught Jirou's attention. Any annoyance immediately left her as she looked at him with an air of seriousness and muted concern. “Did something happen?”

“He won't talk to me.” Mineta said dejectedly. “He won't even answer the door anymore. He's just been getting quieter and quieter since, you know, that day, and now he's just...completely shut himself away.”

Now that Jirou thought about it, Kaminari had been extremely subdued today in particular. Doing poorly in academics was already a given, but today, he'd bombed on everything, the quizzes, his assignments, and he'd even nearly gotten himself killed in heroics class by frying himself while on a rooftop and walking right off the edge. Asui barely caught him in time and it had nearly given Jirou a heart attack. He'd even managed to get a four percent on their English test today, which he'd been seriously studying for since last week. At the time, he'd constantly talked about how well he was doing and how confident he was about his chances of passing after so many effective tutoring sessions with-

Oh. Right.

Now that she thought about it, that might be a factor.

F***.

Jirou huffed, pushing herself to her feet. “He's in his room, right?”

Mineta nodded quickly, spinning around and scurrying off as Jirou strode after him. She didn't miss the fact that he opted for climbing the stairs instead of going for the elevator, where he would be in forced close quarters with one of his female classmates, but she chose not to dwell on it.

Reaching the third floor of the dorms, Jirou could practically feel the thick atmosphere pressing against her skin. There was no light visible from under Iida's door, so she could only assume where he'd disappeared to. Meanwhile, she could hear the pitter patter of paws against the floor in Kouda's room from where she stood. She wasn't sure what animals were running around his room or how many, but she really hoped that he didn't just let them loose on the dorms. She doubted that anyone was in the mood for any shenanigans today.

Jirou stood over Mineta, planted in front of Kaminari's door, and listened. The lights were also off, making her wonder if he'd disappeared off somewhere else without anyone noticing for if he'd just jumped off the balcony or something. However, plugging herself into the wall, she could hear his breathing, a little quicker than she'd like and muffled as if under his blanket. Glancing at her phone, the clock read 5:42pm.

With the grape head watching her expectantly, she rapped on the door with her knuckles, listening for movement. There were several seconds of silence before she let out a long exhale and knocked harder. “Kami, it's me.”

She heard rustling at that, said boy likely leaning up to stare from his bed. Jirou side glanced Mineta, nodding and giving a thumbs up as his signal to make himself scarce and leave the rest to her. Thankfully, he seemed to get the idea and quickly ran back down the hall and disappeared down the stairs.

Returning her attention to the task at hand, she noticed that silence had returned. “Kaminari.”

She heard him slowly roll out from under his covers, flopping out of his bed and onto the floor with a graceless thud. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes as the floor creaked under his weight and he pushed himself up. His footsteps were sluggish, dragging against the ground, and Jirou suddenly had no idea what she was walking into.

Kaminari wasn't the only quiet one. None of them were talking about what happened. The three boys and Ashido were being pretty tight-lipped about the full details of what went down in that sinkhole and it was starting to grate on her nerves. She completely understood from the final outcome that it was bad, but how bad had yet to be revealed.

She couldn't imagine what that kind of knowledge was doing to them. Out of the three of them, Sero was hiding it the best, barely talking and keeping to himself. He only really talked to Kirishima and Kaminari and went to the hospital every afternoon to see how Ashido was doing and get updates on Bakugou. He never returned with a smile. Kirishima, on the other hand, was always at the hospital. As soon as classes ended, he changed his clothes, checked in with Aizawa, and went on his way, only returning just before curfew. Points for devotion on his part.

And Kaminari was trying. He was trying so very hard to keep living life as he always had and to pretend that everything was fine, but as his grades plummeted lower than ever before and his social life dwindled to near nonexistence, it became more and more apparent that he was slowly self-destructing. From what, she needed to figure out.

Maybe the grape made a good decision on this one. An intervention was definitely in order, and if she's the only one who can do it, then so be it.

The door swung open, and Jirou was suddenly nearly blinded by the fakest grin she'd ever seen in her life.

“Hey, Jirou!” Kaminari greeted, enthusiasm lacking. His hair was a mess of static and he hadn't even bothered to change out of his now disheveled uniform. There were bags under his eyes, scleras a reddish hue. “I wasn't expecting to see you! How are you doing?”

“Fine, I guess.” she said casually, ignoring the way her stomach dropped at the sight of him. “Can I come in?”

A flash of panic flew through his eyes for a moment. “Uh, haha, I don't know if now's a good time. It's a complete mess in here.”

“Hasn't been a problem before.” Jirou responded. “I just wanna talk is all.”

Kaminari tried to keep his composure, but Jirou could tell that he was ready to bolt from the conversation. He suddenly glanced at his barren wrist. “Oh, yikes! Would you look at the time! Got homework to do! You know, catching up and all!”

Jirou jammed her foot into the closing door, effectively cutting off Kaminari's escape. “We need to talk, Kami.”

Kaminari looked increasingly panicked, his face morphing into frustration. “Look, I'm not in the mood right now. Can we do this some other time?”

“No.”

“Dude, come on!”

“I'm not leaving until you get whatever's bothering you out in the open.”

Kaminari's expression suddenly twisted into something sinister. “...You know full well what's bothering me.”

Jirou didn't lift her gaze, glaring at her idiot friend as he did his best to sneer, as if he was actually attempting to intimidate her. Any other scenario and she might assume that he was trying to do an impression of Bakugou.

She doubted it, though.

With a sigh, she yanked the door back open, fighting against Kaminari's grip on it. “Just let me in, idiot. I don't care what you have to say. I just came here to do what I do best.”

“Roasting?”

“Listening, but thanks anyway.”

They returned to their staring, Kaminari's gaze unsure and Jirou's unwavering. He looked away first, glaring holes into the floor and biting his lip. Eventually, he let go of the door, backing up and giving Jirou enough room to squeeze passed him and into the dimly lit room.

Honestly, she'd been expecting worse, but it was still about the same clusterf*** of a living quarters that it always was, though the color felt muted to her and the atmosphere heavy. Silently, she walked over to his bed and made herself comfortable while Kaminari sat down on his desk chair, closing his computer. Jirou briefly caught sight of a news article about the earthquake before it was gone.

“Forgot to turn it off before I went to bed.” he chuckled humorlessly.

“Right.” Sitting here now, directly in front of him, Jirou was suddenly at a loss for words, searching for the right ones to use in this situation before finally settling on a more direct approach. “You've been quiet all week.”

Kaminari stared sadly at his hands. “Yeah... Yeah, it's been rough.”

He didn't say anything after that, leaving Jirou grasping for straws. The fool was normally so talkative, and the one time she wants him to talk, cat's got his tongue. “Is there something going on that we don't know about?”

Kaminari flinched at that. “I guess... Haha! I guess I'm just disappointed with my grades is all! Phew! Oh man, have I been falling behind! I guess I really am an idiot, huh?”

His smile was so artificial that Jirou was surprised it didn't come with a 'made in China' sticker. “If that was all that's bothering you, then you'd have been f***ed your entire life.”

“Hey now...”

“Kaminari, you may not be the brightest bulb on the chandelier, but you're not completely stupid, if the fact that you're wearing that uniform is anything to go by. The problem? Neither am I. Just be straight with me, alright? The only person in this building who can clearly hear through walls is me and I'm sitting right in front of you. What's going on?”

Kaminari cringed, wringing his hands together and looking pointedly away. “I guess... I guess I've been really worried about Ashido. She's starting to scare me, actually.”

Now this was where she was expecting to get to, because she knew it had to do with that. She knew that it might have to do with Ashido.

And she knew that it had everything to do with Bakugou, considering that even those of them who were never all that close with him were losing their s*** because what the f*** he's dying. The problem? There were still factors in the equation that she didn't know, and it's kind of hard to solve an equation when you don't know every variable.

Either way, this seemed like a good start. “What about Ashido? Did she say something?”

“She won't let Recovery Girl treat her.” he explained dejectedly. Jirou remembered Uraraka mentioning something like that. “She said she wants her to heal other people who need it more than her first, even though her hand's in really bad shape. Apparently, Midoriya's joined the bandwagon as well.”

Jirou hummed. “How noble.”

“I mean, yeah. She's always been selfless like that, thinking of others first, even when it...might not be the right choice...like, you know...ostracizing someone.”

He continued to stare at his hands, flexing them and glaring as if they'd done him wrong. “She's really scared, you know? I wasn't there until the end, but I saw enough, and I...”

He took a sharp breath, and Jirou realized with startling clarity that the floodgates were about to open. “It was really bad, Jirou. His entire f***ing stomach was torn open.”

Jirou felt her breath stutter as her friend stared off at nothing, recalling a memory that she couldn't see. His skin looked deathly pale against the dim light and his voice wavered dangerously. “Ashido said that he'd been mostly aware until just before we found them. I can't imagine how much pain he was in.” he swallowed, his eyes once again drifting down to his hands, lightly sparking. “And then... And then they... He...”

“Kaminari?”

“S***, Jirou, we actually lost him.”

Her train of thought abruptly came to a halt. She was left winded, as if something had slammed into her gut. She didn't know if it was exactly what it sounded like, but this was new information to her. No one had bothered to tell the whole class the exact grizzly details of what took place, only that their exiled classmate's life was hanging in the balance, but they'd left their classmates to their own because they needed time to process it.

“You mean like...” She trailed off, using her hand to make a cutting motion over her neck.

Kaminari's eyes became devoid of emotion. “I don't... I don't know the details as to what nearly did him in, but yeah. No pulse. He was just gone.”

Jirou suddenly felt sick, absentmindedly wondering what the last thing she told each of her classmates was. Had she ever told Yaomomo how much she values her friendship? Had she ever told Sero how much she likes talking to him or Tokoyami how comfortable he is to being around? Had she ever thanked Hagakure for going out of her way to include her and others in class escapades or Kouda for always being there whenever she just needed a quiet presence?

Had she ever told Kaminari how important he is to her?

Had she every told Ashido or Midoriya how much she appreciates them and how class just wouldn't be the same without them?

Did she ever even thank Bakugou for helping her pull the Cultural Festival concert together? Did she ever acknowledge the fact that the first person among their class that he saved, while openly admitting that it was exactly what he was doing, was her?

Not Kirishima. Not Kaminari. Not Midoriya. Her.

She wanted so badly to ignore the fact that Midoriya's name was one of the ones that immediately popped up in her mind before her own, that it popped up even before Ashido or Sero, but considering everything that had happened, the least she could do was own up to her own mistakes.

And she could start making up for it by being there for one of the people who was suffering the most, because even though the ash blonde was a raging a**hole, he was a loyal and protective raging a**hole with no patience for lingering weakness if he had anything to say about it.

Kaminari took a shaky breath. “You're the first person I've told, actually. Sero and Kirishima had to explain everything to Aizawa and the doctors for me... I- I didn't know what to do at the time. It was just... I couldn't wrap my head around it. It didn't seem real to me.” he said, staring blankly at his sparking fingers. “He's always so strong, an unstoppable force. It was just so wrong, seeing him like that, seeing him...”

He choked on his own words. “Dead... I saw him die. Ashido had to watch him die.”

In Jirou's mind, she could only begin to understand by imagining herself in Kaminari's or Ashido's position if it had been him or Yaomomo who got run through. The thought was immediately burned at the stake and left to rot.

“There was nothing else I could do.” he finally said, tears freely flowing down his face. His hands lit up. “I couldn't think of anything else, so I-”

He choked again, holding his hands forward and pushing at the air, electricity crackling wildly at his fingertips and lighting up the dimly lit room. At first, Jirou didn't quite understand, but it suddenly hit her.

It was like a lightning strike. “You resuscitated him?

Kaminari inhaled sharply. “I know. It was so stupidly risky,” he cried. “But I couldn't think of anything else because I'm just not that smart and I- I couldn't just sit there and do nothing! He wasn't coming back and I didn't think I'd be able to live with myself if I didn't-”

Kami.

In an act of selfless obliviousness that would make any of her hero colleagues proud, she threw her arms around him, feeling the familiar buzz and static run through her body as electricity shot through her system, leaving her ears ringing and limbs aching. The light dimmed almost immediately, Kaminari going rigid in her grip.

“You're such a f***ing idiot, Kami.” she said, and suddenly, she realized that she sounded an awful lot like him. “The only reason he's still alive right now is because of you.”

He leaned into her embrace, his breath hitching dangerously in her ear. “He's still got a fighting chance because of you. If he survives this, it will be thanks to you, Kami, so stopped feeling so sorry for yourself, because you've done so much more for him than any of us could ever even hope to do.”

And that was when he threw his own arms around her, shoving his face into her shoulder and letting out a muffled scream. Jirou was at a complete loss as to how she was suppose to respond to this, so she simply tightened her grip around him and let him cry on her.

Because losing a classmate is hard, losing a friend is harder, losing one of your best friends is devastating, and losing one of your best friends who you turned your back on is world-ending.

She sat there for hours, cradling her mess of a friend while he let everything out that he'd been holding in during these last four days. She held onto him as he released a spray of apologies and regrets and expletives that left them both exhausted beyond understanding. Glancing at her phone, it was almost eight o'clock when Kaminari was finally completely limp against her collarbone. With a sigh, she stood up, dragging his boneless body to his bed and hoisting him onto it, leaving him to sleep in as much peace as he could manage. Sending him a quick text to call her if he has any nightmares, she turned off his lamp and slipped out of his now silent room.

She was surprised to find Sero standing outside his door, brows furrowed and biting his lip. “He gonna be alright?”

Jirou shut the door quietly, letting out a breath that she hadn't realized she was holding. “Eventually. I'll keep an eye on him for now.”

“Alright.” Sero sighed. “Well, dinner's ready, so come on down if you're hungry.”

“Sounds good.” Jirou said, following behind him as he turned to the elevator to head back to the common room. Stepping into it, Jirou turned to look at her companion as he punched in the button for the ground floor. “Hey Sero, have I ever told you how much I genuinely appreciate you?”


Day 5

Kirishima was leaping out of Present Mic's car before it was even at a full stop, Kaminari, Sero and Jirou stumbling out after him not long after as he burst through the front doors of Musutafu Hospital.

Though Ashido and Midoriya had both caught wind of what was happening around noontime, news didn't reach the dorms until that evening, Midoriya sending a panicked call to Iida and Ashido shooting a storm of texts that took over Kirishima's phone. Apparently, they hadn't been allowed to say anything until they were given permission directly from Mitsuki, and now the entire dorm had collectively demanded that the teachers drive them all to the hospital. All nineteen of them, crammed into Present Mic's, Aizawa's, Midnight's, and All Might's cars without giving them much of a choice in the matter and bracing for one h*** of a night.

Normally, surgical infections were uncommon, but between the contamination of the dirty metal, the length of the surgery to remove it, and his immune system weakening from being dragged through the ringer, it should have been an obvious outcome in hindsight. He'd had a dangerously high fever late that morning and was taken back into surgery that afternoon.

If the infection reaches his bloodstream, it's over. He'll be dead before sunrise.

It terrified Kirishima, the finality of it weighing heavily on his entire being. It was as if this was the climatic moment, where the tension reached its breaking point and the final outcome was decided. The doctors were confident that the second surgery would go smoothly. They were not confident that he would survive the night. His only solace was memories of the first night, where a very similar ending was predicted and he had pulled through because this was Bakugou f***ing Katsuki. Death was afraid of him, b****.

Kirishima smiled softly at the memories that followed, just a few weeks ago after a nasty rampaging villain encounter that had nearly killed a few of them when they'd gotten themselves involved, without telling their teacher (and it wasn't their squad that time!). They'd all pulled through the scare in stride, though the fact that nobody was hurt certainly helped to calm their nerves. At this point, they were getting used to the constant attacks.

The fight itself was so little of a blip on the radar that few of them remembered any details, but the reason that this particular incident hung over them for so long was one, because of Aizawa's terrifying reaction (he'd practically manifested the Baku rage aura, he'd been so p***ed at them and it was f***ing scary), and two, because of that exact quote being coined, and by Bakugou himself, no less. He didn't know what it was about it, but it had been absolutely hilarious at the time, the entire dorm erupting in good-natured laughter. Death's apparent phobia of their explosive classmate ended up becoming a meme in their class for the longest time after that, leaving the other heroics class and several of the teachers scratching their heads.

And for Kirishima, he couldn't help but remember it all in nothing but fondness when Bakugou decided to play along, all culminating to one weekend when he killed a giant spider that was freaking everyone out in the common room with nothing but his barefoot, because they'd all already accepted that he was a complete madman. Ashido had crawled out from under a sofa cushion with utter relief painting her face. “Our glorious hero, brethren! All hail!” she had cried dramatically.

Bakugou just snorted at her, though Kirishima had caught a glint of amusement well hidden in his eyes. “Yeah, you better! I'm Bakugou f***ing Katsuki and I ain't scared of anything! Death's afraid of me, b****!” He hollered, digging his heel into the eight-legged demon's crushed remains, and everyone in the room had collectively lost their s***.

Kirishima jolted, someone shoving into his shoulder as they ran passed and yanking him back into reality so violently that he experienced whiplash. He'd been jogging blind, suddenly finding himself in a very familiar section of the hospital as he stumbled to a stop. He barely registered his own labored breathing, feeling his heart rate skyrocket as he stared down the corridor, towards a painfully familiar pair of double doors.

He'd come here completely on autopilot, letting his body move for him.

But he wasn't suppose to be here.

As much as he wanted to, as much as he wished he could be there, where the majority of his classmates would be congregated in the next few minutes, he'd made a promise, and it was a promise that he intended to keep. After all, going against his word would be unmanly.

So, sucking in a breath and forcing his body to turn on its heel, he walked back the way he came, even though the tug in his chest made his body burn.

After a few wrong turns and asking several nurses for directions, he finally found his destination, a small room a few floors up with a single occupant curled up as much as possible with an injured back in the bed closest to the door. Kirishima could see her pink hair and horns barely peaking out from the white sheets, her body shaking and every breath hitching softly. The top of the drawers by her bedside was littered with cards and toys, a vase with beautiful pink roses standing proudly off to the side. A pink stuffed bear and an alien action figure sat at the foot of the bed, resting comfortably on a heart-print blanket draped messily over the edge.

The bed almost looked too big for her, as if it could swallow her whole.

Like the earth itself had done.

He breathed sharply, wide golden eyes whipping around the face him at the sound. The range and depth of emotions that swam in them left him with vertigo, gripping the door frame to ground himself when the world was falling apart around them.

She rolled onto her back with a wince and let out a sob. “Kiri...”

Kirishima entered the room, taking a seat by her bedside and carting her fingers through his hair with a sigh.

“Kiri...” she tried again, her voice cracking with emotion. “No, Kiri. No.”

Kirishima didn't have to look at her for his heart to snap in two. He grimaced, his teeth grinding together as he tugged at his hair a little too hard. He only realized now just how blurry his vision had become, small droplets silently falling to from his eyes and down to the white tiled floor. Risking a glance back up, Ashido was no longer looking at him, her hands clutching at her face as she lay on her aching back, a high pitch whine escaping her lips.

“You shouldn't cry.” Kirishima said shakily. “He'd be upset if he knew you were crying over him.”

“I know...” She whined again, her grip tightening around her face. Kirishima barely understood what she said behind the wall of emotion distorting her words. “But I'm scared. I'm so scared, Kiri.”

“We all are.” he said with a steady voice that surprised himself. “Everyone showed up tonight. It's not gonna help anything, but, you know. Moral support.”

He remembered leaving the dorms with the others, Kaminari in a state of shock as Jirou pulled him along and Sero with a heavy grimace on his face. Yaoyorozu and Kouda both stuck close to Jirou and looked about ready to cry while Todoroki's and Iida's expressions were blank. Iida and Asui were both helping to pull a sobbing Uraraka along, crying out something about Deku and silence and apologizing, while Ojiro walked behind them, his hand tightly clasped around a floating glove. The rest of the class just looked solemn.

As did the teachers, the ride in Present Mic's car being eerily, uncomfortably quiet. Not even the radio was playing.

They really thought he wasn't going to make it, didn't they?

Kaminari and Sero would walk in to Kirishima curled up next to Ashido in her hospital bed, the pinkette clinging to him and crying into his chest. Kirishima glanced up at them, recognizing the colors of their hair through his blurry vision. “Any updates?” he asked carefully.

Sero sighed. “With him, no. I haven't heard anything new. As for the class, most of them are all bunched up in that one waiting room. Uraraka, Iida, Todoroki, and Asui are all hanging out in Midoriya's room. Apparently, he's even more of a mess than Uraraka was.”

Kirishima could understand that, being as rescue-oriented as he can be and possibly having such a constant in his life suddenly ripped away from him with no way of stopping it. He absentmindedly wondered if the poor kid would somehow twist this whole mess into being his fault.

“You good?” an unexpected new voice startled him, and Kirishima only then noticed Jirou standing in the open doorway, watching Kaminari intently with a scowl hiding her concern.

Kaminari took a shaky breath, gazing at everyone else in the room before turning and nodding to her. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I'm good.”

Jirou nodded, giving one last, lingering look before disappearing down the hall, heading back towards where the majority of the class was waiting.

“You know,” Sero said, taking the seat that Kirishima had been seated in. “Where they all are, they'll hear what happens first.”

“But here, we'll face it together.” Kaminari responded, cringing at his own sappiness. Or maybe it was the implications of his own words. Ashido whimpered, clinging to Kirishima tight enough to constrict his breathing, and Kirishima could feel the rub of heavy bandages around her hand against his back.

Sero released a breath he probably didn't even realize he was holding, allowing himself to lean against the bed and draped an arm over Ashido's midsection. “And there you have it. Whatever happens, happens.”

“Doesn't mean we have to like it.” Kaminari mumbled wetly, leaning his face against Kirishima's back near where Ashido's hand was still flatly pressing against him.

“Squad?” Ashido's muffled voice was barely heard, but Kirishima curled around her all the same.

“Yeah. Squad.”

“Squad.”

“Squad.”

They fell asleep like that a few hours later, an incomplete disaster.


Day 7

Against all odds, the a**hole was still alive somehow.

It was a miracle that was leaving doctors absolutely baffled. With how weak his body was, he shouldn't have been able to fight off the infection, even with the surgeons' efforts. They claimed it should be impossible, but they seemed to not realize who exactly they were talking about.

Sero smiled at that.

They were back to square one very early that next morning, all of them nearly passing out between the lack of sleep and numbing relief. Aizawa decided to be merciful, letting them all sleep into the afternoon, having them do their morning classes during heroics class hours, and foregoing those classes that day altogether. Considering that All Might was just as exhausted, he was just as grateful for the unexpected break.

And so, most of them were far more alive getting up this morning than they would have been otherwise, going through their morning routines with renewed vigor and arriving in class bright eyed, bushy tailed, and as ready for the quiet that the incoming weekend would bring as they could be.

Sero sighed contently as he grew comfortable in his chair, Kaminari nearly falling right out of his when he practically threw himself into it and earning a snort from Jirou. In the front left corner of the room, Hagakure was excitedly talking to Uraraka and Yaoyorozu about something while Shouji mentioned something to Ojiro. To Sero's left, he heard a thunk as Kirishima plopped himself down and threw his head back with an equally satisfying sigh. “Bro, I haven't felt this...not stressed since last f***ing Wednesday.”

Sero let out a dry, humorless laugh. “Relatable, dude, and even after all this, we can only play the waiting game.”

“Look, at this point, I've really gotten my hopes up.” Kirishima said with a smile. It was dim, but it was a smile, nonetheless. “I haven't doubted him before.”

“I mean, he hasn't been this close to death before, but I get what you mean.” Sero sighed, pulling out his books as Iida marched into the room and waved his arms around to tell everyone to sit in their seats. After a few moments, everyone was present, the class having gotten much better at ignoring the empty seats on either side of the room. A part of Sero was really starting to hate how used to it they'd become. How...complacent they were.

That word somehow made him feel sick.

“Good morning.” Aizawa's bored, monotone voice drawled out. For some reason, Jirou's earlobes and a couple of Shouji's arms perked up at the tone.

The class responded in kind, tired but alive and ready to get their lives on track, because life wasn't going to stop and wait for them all to get their s*** together.

“Well, you lot seem oddly energetic,” Jirou and Shouji were still on the edge of their seats, and Sero couldn't help but wonder what they were hearing that the rest of them weren't. “But I suppose that simply means that things are starting to go back to normal.”

“You're awfully talkative today, Sensei.” Jirou stated, her head slightly swiveling to glance at Kaminari. “There something you wanna tell us?”

Aizawa turned to give her a hard stare, looking over all of them in guarded suspicions. After a moment, he turned back to her with a raised eyebrow. Jirou was still for a moment before she slowly shrugged her now lax shoulders. “Just saying.” she sighed, almost sounding disappointed. “Seemed different is all. More...chipper.”

Aizawa hummed in response, leafing through a stack of papers in his arms. “So you don't know.”

The room went dead silent, all whispering and tapping immediately coming to a sudden stop. Sero was pretty sure he heard a couple necks snap with how fast they looked up. Next to him, Kirishima was rubbing the back of his own neck with a wince.

Aizawa eyed them all again, sighing after a long moment with some kind of strange acceptance as he set the stack down on his desk. “No point in delaying the inevitable. To cut to the chase, as of today, life support is no longer necessary. His survival is confirmed.”

There was a second's delay, the class pausing in their attempts to process this information. It was like fireworks, a clap of thunder over head, and then it was as if the walls of their burning room crumbled before them, revealing All Might himself smiling down at them.

And then everyone in the room collectively lost their s***.

“NO WAY!!"

“ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”

“Oh, thank goodness!”

“HE'S GONNA BE OKAY!?!”

“I told you that jacka** was too stubborn to die!”

Iida shot up from his desk, hand raised high in the air. “DO MIDORIYA OR ASHIDO KNOW ABOUT THIS??”

“I was informed of this by Bakugou's mother just this morning and had it confirmed by the hospital staff minutes ago.”

“THEN I SHALL CALL IMMEDIATELY, IF I MAY BE PERMITTED!!”

“Yeah, sure. Go ahead.” Aizawa sighed, though Sero caught him rolling his eyes.

“I'm calling Ashido!” Kaminari yelled, his cell already up by his ear and tears in his eyes. Jirou whispered something to him, but Sero didn't catch it. Meanwhile, Iida dropped back into his seat and fished for his phone, a overwhelmed Uraraka practically crawling onto his shoulders to listen in. Todoroki appeared beside them, having abandoned his seat altogether. He shot some kind of knowing look to Yaoyorozu, who simply gave him a watery smile and a nod in response.

Homeroom that day was in no way productive. All it ended up being was a bunch of screaming kids crying over unintentionally being a bunch of a**holes and nearly losing one of their own in the midst of it, but now it was okay, because he was going to be okay, so they might be okay too. After everything that had happened, after everything he'd seen, Sero could hardly believe it.

Kirishima nudged Sero's shoulder. “They'll probably start letting in more visitors now. You want to come with me today to see him? I think the last time you saw him was...”

Sero exhaled, nodding before Kirishima could even finish that sentence, because he didn't want to hear it. All he wanted was to bask in this euphoric feeling of utter relief. “Yeah, I'd like that.”


Day 9

The bouquet had already wilted.

Midoriya wished that he could do more for the beautiful flowers other than asking a nurse to move the vase his mother brought for him by the window, but he knew better than to think that they would last forever. On one hand, helplessly watching the plants slowly die was making his stomach churn uncomfortably and his vision blurry, but at the same time, as such a thoughtful gift from his dear friends back at school, he couldn't bring himself to get rid of them. Not until every last petal dropped. For some reason, the idea of so effectively delaying the inevitable was giving him a bizarre, yet somewhat satisfying sense of control.

Biting into the last apple slice from his mother's last visit, Midoriya looked out at the recovering city working through the end of another day, washing over by an orange hue. From his room in the hospital, he was given a pretty decent view, observing the birds that fly by and the different, familiar heroes moving through the area on their official business. He'd even gotten to say hello to a couple window washers that came by his room. Despite the complete and utter devastation, everyone was doing their best to keep their spirits high. As strained as the smiles were, they were throwing their everything into relief efforts. It really was incredible, how people would come together in the wake of such utter destruction. Not only were other countries from around the world lending aid, but crime rates had made a sudden drop during the last week or so. Whether it was intentional or not didn't matter. Midoriya was still grateful.

He winced at the pins and needles running up his jostled leg. Recovery Girl had said that the bone was healing quite nicely on his own and other than a scar, it was like he'd never hit his head in the first place. Apparently, his side had gotten pretty messed up too, but the pain was dull and bearable compared to past experiences. In other words, despite refusing her treatment, he apparently didn't need Recovery Girl at all, even if her quirk could get him out of that hospital room by that night.

He swallowed the feeling of guilt that pooled in his stomach at the thought. He shouldn't feel so bad for his own body healing itself.

He couldn't bring himself to call it survivor's guilt. He refused.

As much as he loved seeing his friends, as happy as he was to see Uraraka and Iida almost everyday, and Todoroki every other day, as much as he appreciated Asui's and Yaoyorozu's surprise visits and all the gifts from his classmates, and as much as he understood the caring thought that went into Kirishima faithfully dropping by to say hello every single day, it did nothing to help the festering, irrational emptiness in Midoriya's heart every time that someone walked through that door and it wasn't Kacchan.

He'd barely seen him since that day, when he'd carried Midoriya out of that building and ran back in after Ashido. Midoriya hadn't been entirely conscious when the building came down, the earth itself opening up and swallowing it whole and them with it. He hadn't been conscious when the injured were pulled out of the wreckage. All he remembered was the memories of the hero sense going ballistic, leaving an unexplainable terror in his heart.

And then he's finally given the truth, Iida in somber regret and Uraraka close to falling apart, and Midoriya completely lost it.

That pain stayed with him even now, when things were finally starting to calm down and perhaps even go their way. Being his childhood friend and all, auntie Mitsuki had given him permission to get wheeled over and see him for himself, if he ever so pleased. He'd only braved checking on him twice, once on the fourth day and just yesterday, after a truly wonderful update from Iida the day before. It was like night and day, finding a mess of tubes and wires tethering Kacchan to the world of the living by only a few threads, ashen and lifeless and still, versus a normal setup with just a heart monitor and a precautionary oxygen mask, almost as if he was just having an afternoon nap or he'd just overdone it training and ended up in Recovery Girl's office. Midoriya was not above admitting that he'd become a sobbing mess both times, the first facing the mortality of a loved one head on and the second in the throws of mind numbing relief. He'd also become intimately familiar with the callouses on the ash blonde's palms during these times.

A single moment of weakness, an act of recklessness that saved one and cost him the chance to save another, and now his childhood friend, his oldest friend, whom he was finally rebuilding his connection with like he'd always dreamed up, was hurt because of it.

His mind wandered back to a forest, shrouded in the darkness of night and smothered in blue flame, breaking his body beyond repair in the face of the attempted murder of a child, only to be limp and useless as fearful crimson eyes vanished through a swirling mass not even five feet in front of him.

So much for learning from your mistakes.

He was startled out of his thoughts by the door to his room creaking open. Midoriya curled into his sheets, rubbing at his face to hide any hints of tears that might have escaped his eyes unnoticed.

A familiar lanky figure immersed from the doorway, a slouch and slump in his shoulders cutting away from his height. His shaggy blonde hair was left as disheveled as usual and his eyes were slightly dimmer than normal. “How are you doing, young Midoriya?”

Midoriya didn't raise his head to meet All Might's gaze, only humming in response.

All Might sighed, moving to Midoriya's bedside. “May I sit down?”

Midoriya nodded numbly, so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even notice the bed dip down. He gripped his sheets and buried his face into them, focusing on breathing normally.

Last Friday truly was a moment of pure elation, a reprieve from the hopeless terror eating away at him since the day he woke up. He didn't think he'd ever forget that phone call, with Iida's excited shouting and a wave of cheering nearly drowning out his voice. It had been such a relief after the soul wrenching fear just two days prior that he came extremely close to passing out, and that wasn't even an exaggeration.

How could it be, when he was clinging to the last slivers of his sanity as he could do nothing but wait for the news of Kacchan's survival or death? The day itself all blurred together in his mind, but he very clearly remembered that night, huddled against Asui and Uraraka as he screamed out his anguish and Iida and Todoroki stood by as silent support. Five kids, heroes in training, helpless against fate itself reaching out and dragging their classmate away like the scarred villain in the Beast's Forest.

“Young Midoriya?” Midoriya visibly startled, yanked back into reality by the sound of his mentor's voice. “Are you alright, my boy?”

“Y-yeah.” Midoriya stammered, rubbing at his eyes in a sluggish motion. He suddenly felt as if he could sleep for a thousand years. “Better than I was, at least. That has to count for something.”

All Might hummed. “I suppose.”

Midoriya risked a glance, looking into concerned blue eyes. “So, um... How is he? Any changes?”

All he got in response was a sad smile. “No, nothing new, but he's still stable. That in itself is something that we should be grateful for.”

“Yeah.” Midoriya agreed, a small smile gracing his lips. “Yeah, you're right.”

“This must be hard on you. You've been so strong, young Midoriya.”

“Ah... I don't know about that.” Midoriya couldn't help but look away, staring down at his hands. “I wasn't able to do anything. I haven't been able to do anything. I've never felt so helpless.”

“But you haven't given up, have you?” All Might persisted, and Midoriya looked back up at him. “Tell me, Midoriya, if the worst had come to pass, what would you have done?”

Midoriya paled at the thought, folding into himself. “I...”

“After the grief, after the pain, through the pain, would you have given up everything that you've fought for? Be honest with me.”

Midoriya swallowed the lump in his throat, staring off at the nothingness surrounding him. It was a sickening thought, losing someone who'd been such a constant throughout his life, even when it was a hard road to walk. He could see it in his mind's eye, the sorrow that might overtake him and the others, the lack of excitement and chaos in the wake of a dying star, the quiet.

Eery, eery quiet.

All Might breathed. “Would you still be a hero?”

It was like a bolt of lightning, a clap of deafening thunder. For the first time since that first day he'd woken up, his eyes ignited back to life and his voice held firm with unwavering conviction. “Of course, I would. It's what he'd have wanted me to do.”

It had been a long time since silence was a comfort, when the sound of a pin dropping only strengthened his resolve. He felt his heart swell as All Might's smile grew. “You are so strong, young Midoriya. I admire that.”

All Might leaned his head back, staring up at the plain white ceiling above them with a look in his eyes that Midoriya could only describe as soft. “And even in your grief and uncertainty, you never let go of that sliver of hope that he would keep fighting, didn't you? It takes a lot of strength to have so much faith in someone other than yourself.”

Midoriya remained quiet for a moment, searching for the right words. His eyes traveled along his scarred arms, trophies from his past victories and remnants of past failures, forever carried through time until his dying day. Symbols of his struggle to fight, to keep trying, to catch up.

And there, in the distance, closer than he ever thought possible, was the clear view of someone's back, a goal, a constant, a symbol of victory that he dreamed of meeting, no, surpassing, as it that could place him at the very top of the world.

Midoriya smiled. “It's easier to have faith in someone whose so strong, don't you think?”

The grin on All Might's face said it all.


Day 10

“You ready for this?” Kirishima breathed, subconsciously tightening his hold around the handles of the wheelchair. Ashido remained uncharacteristically quiet, her healthy foot propped up on the seat and her arms tightly hugging her knee as she stared at the close door.

It had stunned Kirishima that in her guilt, Ashido hadn't once gone to visit Bakugou. He knew that Midoriya had checked in a couple times, Kaminari and Sero were there a few times as well, including today, and several of their classmates and teachers had checked at least once, all graciously taking in the fact that dear lord he's still alive somehow. Aizawa himself came by regularly.

And Kirishima was there every single day. Every single d*** day, from the end of school to the end of the day, he was there, the first to hear anything, the first to see anything, the most up to date of the bunch because this was his best friend and he was seeing this to the end. Somehow, he knew that Bakugou would do the same for him. Bakugou's mom seemed to think so too.

Though he spent most of his time with the Bakugou's, he still checked in on Ashido, staying as a constant source of moral support and updates. It was strange, how their roles had changed in this crisis, with Kirishima standing strong while Ashido fell apart at the seams. It was rather jarring, actually.

It was just as jarring as when he'd walked into her hospital room to say hello and before he could even say a word, Ashido was practically demanding that he take her over to see him. Apparently, Sero and Kaminari had both talked her into it, promising that they'd be there as well. Kirishima was just a given. Of course, they'd left convincing the nurses to move her, despite her back was still kind of messed up, to him, but considering how much stress they were probably dealing, he let it go. He certainly knew that he himself wasn't a hundred percent okay.

And so, here they were, after debating with the nurses for a solid hour, and that didn't include the time it took to carefully move her from the bed to the wheelchair and the trip itself. Kirishima couldn't help but become nervous at the prospect of Ashido permanently injuring her back because of her own stubbornness.

Kind of reminded him of someone else he knew.

“Ashido?” Kirishima asked carefully, noticing the long pause between them. “You good?”

Ashido's grip around her knee tightened. “Yeah... Yeah, I'm good... Go for it.”

Kirishima breathed, moving from behind her and pushing the door open. “Alright.”

The room was standard, white walls and tiled floor with a big window on the far end. Kirishima had become very familiar with this set up, with a basket of little trinkets courtesy of Yaoyorozu among others and the cutest d*** stickers he'd ever seen plastered on the window, made up of dynamite sticks, classic cartoon bombs and explosions with words like bam! and pow! in bright, bold letters. He smiled despite himself, having been there when Hagakure and Aoyama put them up. Ojiro, there for damage and glitter bomb control, had said that the stickers had originally been Uraraka's idea, but just like Ashido, she couldn't find the courage to visit for a long time, so Hagakure and Aoyama had volunteered in her stead.

There was one sticker that stood out from the rest, a random All Might sticker in the upper right corner of the window. Kirishima very clearly remembered when Todoroki had randomly walked in not long after the other three had left and unceremoniously slapped it on there.

He then stared at him blankly and pointed at it. “Midoriya says he's a big All Might fan, just like him.” he'd said simply, his eyes falling passed him to the hospital bed. “I thought it would be appropriate. Plus Ultra.”

And then he waved and walked out, leaving Kirishima in a state of mild confusion. The gesture was stilted, but a kind gesture nonetheless and Kirishima could appreciate that.

For a moment, Kirishima's eyes wandered to the big desk to the side and his eyes softened, eyes scanning over the dozens of handmade get well cards scattered around. Within the first five days, all nineteen of them had made at least one, but between the huge scare on that fifth day that glorious, glorious announcement on the seventh, a few of them had been compelled to make an extra as well. Kirishima could easily spot both of his, with red and orange construction paper and bold, messy handwriting.

“Ey!” Kaminari's voice rang, lounging on a couch by the window. “The party's here!”

“Well, aren't you chipper all of a sudden?” Sero snorted from the other side of the room.

“Bro, I'm trying to lighten the mood, you know?”

Sero huffed and turned to Kirishima. “He hasn't said anything since we got here until just now. I'm convinced the guy's freaking depressed now or some s***.”

Lighten. The mood.

“We're trying our best, guys.”

Kirishima tried to smile, but he knew his face looked somewhat pained, even before his eyes wandered passed Sero to the hospital bed.

And there he was, right where he left him.

The healthy, fair color of his skin was a blessing to see, full against his ash blonde hair and the blinding white of the bedsheets. Kirishima could remember, clear as day, when he was so pale and ashen that he blended right in and still as death.

He chastised himself for his choice of wording.

“It's weird, isn't it?” Sero said to no one in particular. “I've never seen him so relaxed.”

He looked so peaceful.

Ashido whimpered.

All three boys jumped at the sound, wide eyed as the pinkette fought to keep her composure. The sobs were quiet, muted as her face contorted painfully and she feverishly wiped at her teary eyes, liquid streaming down her face as if a dam had broke.

Again, poor wording, Eijirou.

“Kiri,” Ashido hiccuped. “Push me forward.”

Kirishima numbly did as he was told, the other two watching in silence, as if this were such a sacred interaction that they dare not interrupt. Ashido was situated right next to the bed, where she was forced to face reality, even though it was so, so much better than it was only days ago.

He should have died days ago. They should be at a funeral right now.

“Hey, Blasty,” Ashido spoke up, her hands pressed against her knees. “It's me, Raccoon Eyes. Sorry it took me so long to stop by.”

Kirishima's arms were crossed, tightening against himself as he fought to not cry himself. Meanwhile, Kaminari was bleeding from biting his lip so hard and Sero was suddenly fascinated by a particular tile on the floor. Ashido took a deep, shaky breath. “I don't think you can actually hear me, but talking to you makes me feel better, you know? I'm such a chatterbox. I probably drive you crazy.”

Her right hand, stiff and bound tightly with heavy bandages, hovered hesitantly over his limp one. “So, I wanted to come by because that girl came by to visit me today. You know, the one we saved from the building before it fell on us?”

It was like all the air had been sucked out of the room, three pairs of wide eyes locking together. None of them had known about that. Well, they knew a family was there when Midoriya came through, but this was new information. “Her name is Saki, and would you believe it? It turns out that she's quirkless, like you said you thought Midoriya was back then, remember?”

Another hiccup. “She really wanted to see you, and she had the cutest little sister who wanted to thank you for 'saving her and her hero', but, you know... You're sleeping. They wanted me to tell you they said hi...”

Her hesitant hand finally dropped against his, her other, sliding under it. She pulled his hand up, leaning forward and pressing it against her face, and sobbed. “I'm sorry...”

Her grip tightened as much as it could, and Kirishima felt his heart crumble as her words were drowned in sorrow. “I'm sorry, Dynamite. I'm sorry for being a bad friend, and I'm sorry for being mean, and I'm sorry that I let this happen to you. I never wanted this!”

She nearly choked on nothing, coughing as her voice jumped an octave. “I'm really sorry, okay? I learned my lesson, so you can wake up now, okay?”

And that's when time restarted, Kirishima lurching forward and throwing his arms around his classmate, his friend, as she shook in his embrace and tightened her grip on Bakugou's hand, as if that alone was keeping him grounded.

“I learned my lesson.” she cried. “You can wake up now.”

The room was silent other than her sobs and the steady beat of a heart monitor. “Come back...”

Come back.

Come back.

Come back.

“...We miss you.”

They didn't notice the twitch in his hand.


Day 14

Uraraka was getting really sick of the quiet.

It had been two weeks since the earthquake. Two whole entire weeks, and the quiet brooding and lack of noise and excitement was starting to drive her absolutely insane. Whether it was the worry and guilt eating her alive or the atmosphere finally taking its toll on her, she wasn't entirely sure.

At least Ashido had some sense kicked into her, allowing Recovering girl to heal her back and make sure her fingers healed correctly. Any longer and she might have permanently crippled herself. Deku, however, was being way more difficult, stubbornly refusing any treatment for his broken leg. It would heal just fine on it's own, he'd argue. It was getting to the point where Aizawa was threatening to start marking them with unexcused absences if they didn't get their acts together. Yes, this was getting rough for all of them, really dragging them through the dirt, but at least they weren't hurting themselves.

Uraraka swallowed. She hated this.

She hated seeing her friends in pain. She hated the constant guilt churning in her stomach every time Bakugou was brought up in conversation. She hated the quiet sadness that had overtaken their class. She hated this quiet.

She hated all of this.

“Are you okay, Uraraka?” Hagakure's voice broke through her train of thought, Uraraka slightly jumping at the sound. Though she couldn't see her face, she could tell by her body language that she was worried, her foot scuffing against the ground and the fabric of her shirt stretched and bunched as if she was gripping and pulling at it like a nervous habit.

Uraraka curled up in her place on the couch, glancing over at Jirou next to her. Uraraka wasn't oblivious to the fact that she wasn't plugged into her phone, clearly listening in to everything around her. On the other couch, Ojiro was on his phone while Yaoyorozu had fallen asleep next to him. Kouda sat on the floor next to her, playing with his bunny. Uraraka could hear clattering in the kitchen as Rikidou baked a much more acceptable amount of sweets with Asui and an ever clueless Todoroki trying to figure out how everything worked. In the middle of the room, Kaminari and Sero were playing a fighting game, Kaminari once again proving his prowess in gaming while Sero fought valiantly against him, while Tokoyami and Shouji sat around the table, they and Dark Shadow playing some kind of card game. From her knowledge, everyone else was in their dorm rooms.

Except for Kirishima, who was predictably at the d*** hospital.

“I'm fine!” Uraraka said with a cheery voice, smiling up at where Hagakure's face should be. “Don't worry about me! Just tired is all! Boy, today was sure a long school day, huh?”

Hagakure was still for a moment, impossible to read, but she sighed nonetheless. “Okay, if you're sure.”

“I am!” Uraraka said happily as Hagakure walked away, looking over Ojiro's shoulder to see what he was doing. Only then did her face fall, even if she didn't know if the invisible girl was still looking at her.

The quiet returned. That awful quiet that had overtaken them and left them with nothing but their own thoughts to fill in the void. Uraraka didn't think she'd ever realized how use to, how much of a comfort the familiar muttering and stuttering, cheering and laughing, and cursing and explosions had become over time. Two weeks of Ashido's overwhelming sadness. Two weeks of Deku's self-inflicted confinement. Two weeks of Bakugou's complete silence.

It was just...too quiet.

And then Kirishima suddenly burst in through the front doors and screamed.

Every single person in the common room jumped, Yaoyorozu startling from her sleep and a few noises of surprise sounding from around the group. Rikidou, Todoroki, and Asui instantly appeared from the kitchen, tense and unsure as to what in the world just happened.

“What the h***, dude?” Jirou complained, massaging her temples. “Would appreciate a warning next time, sheesh.”

“You good, Kiri?” Kaminari called over concerned, Sero pausing the game before peering over himself.

Kirishima looked like he'd just run a marathon, his hands on his knees as he regained his breath and sweat rolling down his body in beads and soaking his clothes. His hair was left down, completely forgotten and in utter disarray.

“Do you need to sit down?” Uraraka asked in concern, running up to the wheezing redhead's side. Kirishima held his hand up, as if to say he's fine, and straightened himself up. His face was flushed and his hair looked damp up close as he let out a rough breath and wobbled towards the couch to lean against the back of the couch.

Uraraka only noticed then that he was smiling like an idiot, his sharp teeth on full display and eyes red as if he'd been crying. He practically fell against the couch and laughed breathlessly. “Hah, this is the best day of my f***ing life!”

“What, is he awake or something?” Kaminari asked somewhat knowingly, a sad look hiding behind his gaze. Sero smacked his shoulder and Jirou gave him a questioning look, but they didn't say anything otherwise.

A pause was his reply, Kirishima's smile becoming impossibly wide.

Wait a minute.

WAIT-” Kaminari screeched a moment later, the silence that had followed speaking volumes. He practically tripped and fell back to the ground as he tried to scramble to his feet. “You better not be messing with me, Kirishima!”

“Why the h*** would I joke about this!?” Despite the harshness of his words, Kirishima was still beaming, his eyes sparkling like the morning sun. It felt like years since the last time any of them had seen him so happy, so alive.

Sero was on his feet. “Wait, so Blasty woke up?!”

Kirishima pumped a shaky fist in the air. “Death's afraid of him, b****!!”

The entire common room erupted in cheers, ranging from Todoroki allowing a small smile to grace his features to Kaminari and Sero screaming like maniacs in one of the most violent hugs that Uraraka had ever seen, Kaminari dragging poor Jirou into it with him. Hagakure was screeching, her sleeves wrapped around a smiling Ojiro and Yaoyorozu while Rikidou ran up and gave Kirishima a high five. Shouji and Asui smiled brightly, a happy 'kero~' from the frog girl, while Tokoyami sighed in satisfaction. A few more of their classmates peered into the common room in confusion, being pulled into the wild impromptu celebration as they all began brainstorming ideas for a proper reunion, and perhaps even a group apology.

So loud... So wonderfully loud.

With a tired but genuine smile and heart far lighter than it had been in a while, Uraraka slipped out to make a phone call.

“Did you hear?” Uraraka asked, holding her phone tightly. She now sat comfortably on her bed, knees pulled up against her chest.

About Kacchan?” Deku's voice came through the speaker. He sounded raw, and Uraraka could only assume that he'd been crying. “Yeah, I did. He woke up really early this morning, before the sun rose. I think he fell back asleep, but like, real sleeping, not...

A quiet sob reached Uraraka's ears and she smiled sadly. “I'm really glad he's okay.”

Me too...” Deku forced out as his body became wracked with sobs. “I'm so glad... I was so scared...

And there Uraraka sat, staying with Deku over the phone as he cried his pent up fear and overwhelming relief into the speaker. She wasn't sure how long she stayed there, but by the time Deku had calmed down and convinced her that she could just visit him tomorrow and not camp out for there for the weekend, the sun had set. With a long, satisfying stretch and a yawn, Uraraka decided to forgo her late weekend night and go to bed early, underlying exhaustion easily overtaking her.

She slept well that night.


Day 15

Ashido suddenly realized with startling clarity that she didn't know where she was.

It was so dark that she couldn't see her own hand in front of her face, the inky blackness seemingly going on forever. It was as if she'd been pulled into an empty universe, trapped in a never-ending void with nothing but her own thoughts to keep her company.

And yet, for some unexplainable reason, she just knew she wasn't alone in here.

“Hello?” she called out, her voice echoing forever and ever in her ears. She held her hands out in front of her, searching a solid surface, a wall, some kind of border, anything.

But the darkness continued to stretch onward.

There were light footsteps in the distance, echoing against the nothingness and amplified in her ears. She gasped, finding herself sprinting towards the unknown noise as if she already knew that it was safe. It was familiar.

What wasn't familiar was the low rumble and menacing growl that floated through the open air along with it. Ashido fell all the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, her blood freezing solid in her veins and heart pounding against her ribcage. It was guttural, feral like a wild beast, but held a bizarre, other worldly quality to it that had her hyperventilating.

The darkness began to close in on her, swirling and writhing as a low hum assaulted her. It gave her a weird buzz, her bones vibrating against her skin, and suddenly, every single fiber of her very being screaming at her to run.

The footsteps stopped, the only thing grounding her from the downward spiral of panic, and she let out a whimper against her will.

For one single, glorious moment, the darkness opened up around her, as if it were a physical manifestation, and the empty world appeared before her. The void seemed to go on forever, like an open universe with nothing in it but her.

Her and another, her eyes suddenly drawn to familiar ash blonde color against the darkness and locking with crimson red ones.

What was he doing here?

The darkness closed back in, taking away her sight, Ashido's heart stopped in her throat, an unknown force pulling her towards him. Suddenly, the when's and why's didn't matter anymore. What mattered was that he was here, she wasn't alone, and they were in danger.

She never saw what was stalking them, but she could feel it in the ground, the movement of an unknown being as if it were gliding, the roaring hum rattling her body and an indescribable that couldn't possibly belong to any living creature sending her mind into panicked overdrive.

“Bakugou!” she screamed, her hand reaching out blindly into the nothingness. Why couldn't she see anything?! “Bakugou, where are you!?”

Black Eyes!” he yelled back, almost directly in front of her, and she felt his hand clasp her own.

For a single, solitary moment, everything was okay.

But then there was a cry of pain and she was violently yanked forward.

NO!” she screamed, stumbling forward before regaining her footing and pulling back as hard as she could. She couldn't see anything, not even her own hands, but she could feel the warm, familiar callouses pressed against her own palm. She could feel the rumble of the deafening hum overtaking her body. She could feel her grip loosening against her will, relaxing to the rumble vibrating her body. She felt his grip tightened around her.

Black Eyes!” he yelled again, and if she didn't know any better, she'd think he sounded scared.

Foggy images appeared in the inky backdrop, flashing by so quickly that she could barely comprehend anything, but she could see a single moment, the two of them and another person, running away from the crashing, crumbling landscape around them. And then it was suddenly just the two of them, cut off on all sides by death itself roaring towards them in the form of the metal and concrete above them. In the dust, she'd only seen him for a moment, but she realized absentmindedly that she'd never seen him that openly terrified before.

And then they were swallowed up.

Ashido fought against the force trying to take her friend away, her other hand surging forward and wrapping around his wrist. His grip on her was impossibly tight, a silent submission to her need to save. She'd been given permission to save him, and she couldn't possibly allow herself to give up on him.

And yet, her body wasn't cooperating. She could feel herself growing weaker, her feet sliding against the empty nothingness that was suppose to be the floor. She cried in frustration, forcing her grip to stay strong despite how the hum had hit an unbearable peak.

With tears running down her face and disappearing into the darkness, Ashido realized with horrifying understanding that he was slipping from her hold.

But she couldn't give up. She has to save him!

But you can't.

She can't fail him again! Not when he's depending on her!

But you will.

He doesn't deserve this!

Ashido!

Why would you care?

His hand was ripped away.

And suddenly, she bolted up in a hospital room, tears running down her face and light acid burning through white sheets.

She forced her hands to relax, breathing in real, existing air in the light of the low sun streaming through the window. They were long, harsh breaths, pulling in oxygen as if she wasn't used her poor lungs in years. She let the tears fall, her heart stuttering in lingering fear as she adjusted to her new, safe environment as she glared down at her treacherous hands.

'You just need to get stronger,' she told herself. 'Be the best hero you can possibly be. You just gotta keep up.'

It was sunset from the looks of it, the room bathed in an orange and pink hue. Everything was as it had been before she'd fallen asleep, the four of them visiting their explosive friend in hopes of finally getting the chance to catch up on things.

Being told that he had basically come back around was a moment that Ashido wouldn't forget for a long time, her and Kirishima curled up together again, crying from pure relief rather than heartbreak. She'd really missed feeling good.

Speaking of which, it seemed that he'd fallen asleep as well, arms crossed and head resting awkwardly against the chair on the other side of the bed. He snored softly, a relaxed look on his face as he slept peacefully. She couldn't help but smile, seeing how much less stressed he was already, even before getting the chance to see for himself that his best friend was gonna be okay after all. She couldn't be more thankful. Such a kind and wonderful person never deserved that kind of heartbreak.

Eyes scanning around the room, she eventually found the other two in the far corner by the window, letting out a snerk at their ridiculous positions. Somehow, Sero had gotten the smaller spot, curled up over the armrest of a chair while Kaminari was practically falling out of his spot. She guaranteed that he would wake up that way, falling to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

With a fond smile, she shook her head and giggled to herself. Her boys may be a bunch of weirdos and maniacs, but they were her boys. Her wild, crazy, troublesome boys. They were her best friends.

Now if only she could treat all of them as such instead of being a b**** without knowing the whole story.

Her smile turned sour, eyes watering up all over again. Suddenly, her hands felt heavy, as if gravity was pulling them back down. She shook the dark thoughts pushing their way through her mind back out, refusing to feel anymore sorry for herself. That's not what he would want. With a sigh, she turned.

Golden eyes locked with crimson and time stopped in its tracks.

He was just staring at her, watching intently as if gauging her, sizing her up, and Ashido suddenly felt as if the world had violently thrown itself back together before she could fully process everything. It almost seemed like she'd only seen him just yesterday. And at the same time, it felt like years ago. It was so much to process and take in that she wasn't even sure how she was suppose to respond.

So she just broke down.

Because he's okay. He's really okay!

“Dynamite?” she tried, not entirely sure if this was another f***ed up dream of some kind, because she was going to be p***ed if she woke up from this one too. He only looked at her somewhat annoyed, a pale representation of his usual scowl, and yet so utterly familiar and real.

“Dynamite...” she squeaked, and any other day, she might be at least a little bit embarrassed for crying like a small child, but in that moment she couldn't possibly care less, pushing herself up close and throwing her arms around him like she was jumping on the grenade.

He felt so solid in her grip, even as he squirmed in discomfort. “Oi, the h*** do you think you're doing? Get off me!”

His voice was raw, raspy and unused, and yet it held the same bite so clearly that it rang out like a bell, and Ashido could only cling on tighter, terrified that if she loosened up for a second that the darkness would close back in. He wasn't at all impressed. “F***ing, Ashido-!

“I'm so sorry.” she blurted out without thinking, causing him to pause in his struggling altogether. She could practically feel his glare boring into her head, but she couldn't care less because his eyes were open and he was breathing and talking and alive and dear lord he's actually going to be okay.

Words began pouring out of her mouth as she clung tighter, words that she could only assume were apologies spewing out like a fountain. She was able to catch up to her own mouth in time to get the gist of what she just gushed to him, but she didn't regret a single word of it.

She finally gave him room to breathe, having spit out everything that she felt that she needed to, at least for now, and was met with the most incredulous stare she'd ever seen. Her heart cracked. “What!? It's true! Listen, I was a bad friend, okay? It was wrong of me to be so mean when you don't do that stuff anymore. You do know that stuff you did was really wrong, don't you?”

His eyes slightly widened and he looked away, and suddenly Ashido felt like the equivalent of human garbage. Bully or not, it was so painfully obvious now, right here in this moment, that he felt guilty. He really didn't need her shoving his mistakes back in his face when he was trying to move on.

“I've...had a long time to think about things...and get yelled at by Midoriya.” she started, cringing at the memory of the first time she'd gotten the chance to confront him about everything. He'd completely lost it, yelling at her and coming very close to blaming her for everything before stopping himself and shutting himself away. He gave her a very heartfelt apology the next time they met up, but Ashido couldn't help but think that perhaps his anger was justified.

“When I found out about back then, about all those things you did, I was...I felt really betrayed, like I didn't even know you.” Her middle school self would probably be absolutely mortified that one of her best friends was a former bully, but her middle school self could suck it. “I was trying to do what I thought was right and all I did was hurt my friends.”

She took a deep breath and continued. “I realized that...that the person that I didn't know was gone a long time ago... Kiri was right. You're not like that anymore.”

I'm sorry.

I'll say it as many times as I have to.

I'm so, so sorry.

Ashido heard him hum, watching him intently as he seemed to think over her words carefully. It was like a punch to the gut, how easily he was considering her and giving her the time of day after everything that happened. He chose to stare upward instead of at her. “I would have admitted to it eventually.”

He was way more calm than he should be and that terrified her. Was he sick? Was there brain damage after all? Was she really still dreaming? She calmed herself, allowing the guilt to take hold and prove this moment real. “I know. Midoriya told me that. He was really mad.”

Bakugou seemed to accept that. Either that, or the comment flew right passed him. “It's our business. It's our history for us to figure out, so just stay out of it from now on.”

“I will...” she said easily, as if that alone would keep him alive. “I promise.”

“Good.” he said simply, eying her as she quickly looked away, messing with her hands. This had suddenly gone from a beautiful reunion to an awkward silence and she didn't appreciate that. She didn't want that to ruin this moment for her, even now that she's fully registered everything.

He suddenly spoke up again. “I'm not mad, by the way.”

Her heart skipped a beat, eyes shooting back up to meet his in disbelief. “You're not?”

He snorted at her as if it were obvious, while Ashido continued to reel at how patient he was being with her right now. “Honestly, this whole thing seemed like one giant act of karma for years of torment. I've had it coming for years.”

“You don't deserve to hurt, though.” she said with conviction, because she now understood that fact far better than she ever, ever wanted to.

“Don't I, though?”

Her heart f***ing imploded. What?

No!” Ashido yelled, slamming her fist onto a small nightstand. Bakugou seemed slightly surprised by her sudden outburst. “You don't deserve to suffer!”

The incredulous glare she received in response would probably tear her to shreds for the next several nights, because it wasn't like she helped this situation any with the whole fiasco that went down before the earth threw its d*** hissy fit. After everything he's done to be better, everything he's done for her and the other boys and their classmates, this just wasn't right.

How dare he hate himself. He wasn't supposed to care what other people think! He was supposed to be the best!

“No!” she exclaimed, glaring right back at him. “You're not allowed to think that way! And I'm gonna spend the rest of our high school days beating those thoughts out of your head, got it?”

And she meant that, her eyes burning dangerously with determination and life that was making her own body shudder as she returned his glare tenfold. Her hands were in tight fists, ignoring the pain in her right from the strain being put on it for no apparent reason. She refused, absolutely refused to allow this to go on. Not after almost losing him. Not after being forced to face a reality where he wasn't there anymore. It made her sick, and there was no way in h*** that he was going to continue on not understanding just how important he was to them.

In his own words, F*** that.

He broke eye contact first. “Do what you want, Horns.” he finally relented, looking about three seconds away from taking a swing at her, and Ashido couldn't possibly be happier.

“I will, thanks.” she said contently, a smile splitting her face in two.

Suddenly, it felt as if they had all the time in the world.

Chapter Text

Ashido couldn't put her finger on as to why, but she didn't think she'd ever felt this exhausted in her entire life. Perhaps it was from staying up a little too late last night, or maybe it was all the stress from the last month or so crashing down on top of her all at once.

Either way, she needed a nap.

Walking back into the dorms for the first time since the earthquake, a full two weeks after, was surprisingly emotional, her legs feeling weak as she and Midoriya ventured into the common room and found an entire movie night set up waiting for them, with popcorn, candy, blankets, a pillow fort, and a stack of superhero movies and documentaries, some rom-coms, and anime films. Midoriya had gushed over the selection of hero films while Ashido noticed her favorite movie sitting at the top of the pile. She tried to smile and be happy, she really did, because this was so unbelievably thoughtful and beautiful and she loved her friends so much, but she just couldn't help but notice the number of pillows climbing up to only nineteen and despite the happy ending to their story, she discovered tears silently streaming down her face anyway.

Because it could have gotten really bad. It came way too close to getting really bad.

“Ashido?” Hagakure's voice sounded out next to her, and Ashido's heart leaped into her throat.

She wiped her eyes harshly, putting on a smile. “Yeah, hey! This is really cool! You guys didn't have to put this together!”

“She's right.” Midoriya said softly, looking between a cheesy action movie set in the beginning of quirk history and an All Might documentary with a sad smile. “This is too much, you guys. You didn't have to go this far.”

“But we wanted to!” Uraraka cheered, far more jovial than she'd been in what felt like forever, and threw her arms around the green haired teen. Any other day and Ashido would be teasing him immensely for the way his face turned redder than Kirishima's hair.

“We wanted to give you a warm welcome back.” Yaoyorozu smiled. “We've missed having you around.”

But something's still missing, Ashido couldn't help but think. Something's still missing and it's not the same. Not yet.

Ashido's eyes met Midoriya's, and from the looks of it, he was thinking the same thing, his eyes still somewhat dimmed, because he was okay, and was going to be absolutely fine and there was nothing to be afraid of, but that didn't mean that they didn't still miss him. That didn't mean that they didn't notice that he wasn't there.

Bakugou had been sitting at death's door for a little too long for Recovery girl to give him proper healing without the sudden loss of stamina imposing an immediate threat. They were concerned that if she tried to completely heal him now, when his body was already doing it on its own, it might cause his stomach in particular to set improperly, which could lead to health problems later down the line that they didn't want to risk. So, he was stuck with staying at the hospital with stitches still in his stomach for a bit longer and would be forced on an all liquid diet even after he was discharged. None of them were happy about it, least of all him, but as it stood, there wasn't much they could do about it.

And so, here Ashido and Midoriya were, all healed up like nothing ever even happened and back in Heights Alliance with their friends, while Bakugou had no choice but to sit back, alone in a hospital room. It's not like he would have been all that thrilled to spend time with all of them in a setting like this, but it still didn't feel right, just knowing that he wasn't around.

So bless Kirishima and his thoughtfulness when he reappeared in the common room, though Ashido never even noticed him leave. He held up his cell phone with a smile on his face. “Guys, I got Blasty on the line!”

The class was quick to loudly crowd around him, Ashido laughing as they all attempted to talk over each other through the small device. Kirishima raised his hands defensively. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hey guys, calm down! It's not even on speaker yet!”

As the class collectively gave the red head some breathing room, he pressed something on the screen of his phone and held it up. “You're on speaker, Bakugou. Say hi to everyone!”

F*** all y'all!

“Dude, come on!” Kirishima shouted in amused exasperation while the class exploded in laughter and cheering. Sero and Kirishima were quick to shush them.

So Black Eyes and Deku are over there now, right?” he asked, a hint of disdain in his voice.

“Yeah, Recovery Girl healed us and we got discharged this evening.” Midoriya explained sheepishly. “Sorry, Kacchan.”

The h*** are you sorry for?” he spat. “Stop apologizing for the stupidest s***, you f***ing dweeb.

Someone in the group snorted while Ashido could clearly hear Hagakure stifling a giggle. Midoriya sighed. “Right, sor- I mean I'm-... Right, okay. Got it.”

A growl of annoyance could clearly be heard through the speaker, which only made Midoriya's smile brighter. Kaminari laughed. “Wish you were here, man! We're having a movie night to celebrate everything turning out okay and it just ain't the same without you!”

Why the h*** would I want to be at your dumb movie night anyway?

“Because you love us!” Kaminari responded easily, his grin forcing Ashido to squint.

And who the f*** told you that?!

“You don't need to tell us, man. We've, uh- We got the message.”

Lies and slander! F*** you!

Ashido couldn't remember the last time she'd felt this light, her classmates laughing with joy and smiling like a bunch of idiots who didn't know how the world worked. Ashido almost felt like a kid again, playing with her friends at the park and being blissfully unaware of how unfair and terrifying life could be.

Such a needed reprieve. It had been nice.

Another week and a weekend had rolled by since then, the class moving on and functioning like normal, or at least, as normal as it could with one still recovering. There were still nights where she or one of her boys had nightmares, and she often found herself either huddled up in one of their rooms sobbing like a small child or trying to comfort one of them after breaking into her own room to talk. There was even one night where Kirishima got a rather interesting call from Bakugou, though he wouldn't say much more about it than that. Ashido had a feeling she understood why. The guy's already seen some of the worst the world has to offer. This is just one more check off his list of traumatizing experiences.

And they'd visit him constantly. Sometimes they'd find him sleeping off some pain medication, while others he'd be wide awake and giving them the dirtiest looks as soon as they walked through the door, warning them of even daring to try to use him as an excuse to procrastinate on their school work. Slowly but surely, their visits weren't quite as frequent because of that. That is, until Kirishima revealed that Bakugou was still tutoring him, which was how Kirishima was keeping up with still being there almost all the time. There was a lot of yelling when all four of them showed up with their homework the next day.

And the world just kept spinning, rebuilding itself to what it was before. Now, it didn't seem so impossible.

Yesterday was shaping up to be nothing particularly special. She got up that morning, had breakfast, and joined her boys in calling Bakugou again, whining for the nth time that they miss his cooking. He seemed far less cranky about it that morning, so that was probably a good sign. Then they all went to class.

Nothing of note really happened until heroics class. It was a battle royale, all of them paired off with the last team standing as the winner. Sadly, Kouda wasn't there that day, as one of his pets had grown old and sick and had to be put down. Ashido couldn't help but feel terrible for him. As someone whose quirk revolves around animals, it must be especially painful for him. Ashido had a pretty good idea of what it was like to face the mortality of someone you hold dear.

She'd lucked out, being paired up with Todoroki, and was totally ready to kick some a** before Kaminari let out the loudest screech she'd ever heard in her life.

“WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME IT WAS TODAY!?!” he screamed several octaves too high, zooming passed her as he took off towards the training ground entrance. Several other shouts of excitement sounded out across the area.

Ashido whipped around to follow him, her eyes immediately landing on their teacher and the two boys following in behind him. It was as if everything in the world had finally, finally fallen completely back into place.

“No! F*** you!” Bakugou yelled back, yanking Kirishima in front of him to block the incoming stampede of his excited classmates. “And Kiri, if you so much as think about turning around, I swear to all that is good in this forsaken world I will launch you through the f***ing wall!”

“Calm down, all of you.” Aizawa drawled, the class collectively quieting at the sound of his voice. “His body hasn't yet fully recovered, so no sparring and no rough housing until further notice. And please be gentle.”

Bakugou made a face at that, but didn't say much else, instead choosing to sit with Aizawa and observe the royale. Ashido was happy to say that the class's overall spirits had shot through the roof, every pair fighting with vigor and enthusiasm. Ashido even won in the end, even if she was kind of carried to victory by Todoroki. Midoriya and Kaminari followed close behind.

Apparently, Bakugou had gone through at least one healing session with Recovery Girl just before he'd been discharged, just to make sure that his arm and the puncture wound in his hip were completely taken care of and no longer issues to worry about. His stomach, however, was still extremely tender and certain foods were still off limits. With this information, Ashido wasn't surprised that the seemingly exhausted ash blonde immediately disappeared into his dorm room after class. That didn't stop her from chasing after him though, forcing herself not to think too much about it as she skidded to a halt in front of his room and rapped on the door.

His cursing was muted behind the closed door, but he trailed off as soon as he yanked it open and met her eyes. It was as if an entire conversation passed between them within a single millisecond, silent understanding passing between them as if there was no one else in the world. Ashido sobbed before she could stop herself.

“F***ing h***...” Bakugou sighed as Ashido gently wrapped her arms around his torso and pressed herself against him. As much as she tried to keep her emotions in some semblance of control, the sound of his heart beating strongly against her ear and the steady rise and fall of his chest was all it took to break through her already weakened defenses.

He didn't try to push her away when she started crying into his shirt, nor did he attempt to hug her back. He just stood there, silently accepting his fate as the pinkette ruined his shirt with her tears and squeezed his diaphragm just a little bit too tight. She'd never know how long they stayed like that, but she wasn't above admitting how grounding of a moment it was for her, to be standing here in Heights Alliance with her friend after almost of month of nothing but heartbreak and waiting, waiting, waiting.

“Alright, that's enough, Horns.” he said as he pushed her away, his voice familiarly gruff, but strangely soft. “You've had your moment. Now f*** off. I'm tired.”

And he slammed the door right in her face. Ashido found that she couldn't have cared less.

She supposed that yesterday's events were why she was so ridiculously tired today, draining her energy and leaving her tossing and turning once again. She'd felt like a zombie rolling out of bed this morning, dragging herself to her desk and zoning out through classes. Today was special though, because it was the first time since the earthquake that all twenty of them were present in the classroom, and that was a good reason to be happy. That still didn't change the fact that she was tired as f***.

So she was sorry if she snapped or glared at anyone, or didn't catch something someone was saying, or missed something entirely, because all she wanted was to sleep for ten thousand years. This whole ordeal had taken its toll and she's exhausted.

So walking down the sidewalk back towards the dorms was a blessing, her bed distantly calling to her as she stumbled her way there. The sun was just about to set, the campus blanketed in sunlight as students slowly meandered their way to their homes. The chatter was low, a nice hum in the back of her mind to lull her into a sense of security.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Such a nice day.

“Leave him alone!”

Ashido stopped at the sound of Midoriya's voice, spinning on her heel and zeroing in on a scene that slapped her awake almost instantly.

There were three boys, none of which she particularly recognized, laughing and sneering as Midoriya stood strong, staring them all down with self confidence he'd literally fought tooth and nail for. Behind him was Kouda, tears streaming down his face and huddled up in a ball as he shielded a small cat from the group's dangerous eyes. The poor little thing looked as if its leg was hurt, limping around in Kouda's shadow as he whispered reassurances. Whether it was for it or him, she wasn't sure.

“It's the freckled kid from 1-A!” one of them jeered. “If you're so tough, then why don't you make us leave?”

“I really don't want to.” Midoriya warned, returning their glares tenfold. He'd learned from the best, after all. “It's best for all of our sakes that you just walk away.”

The three boys laughed, completely ignorant to the true power manifested before them. However, Ashido could still see the way Midoriya's fingers were twitching and the way he held his hands so that they were close to his face. His forehead shone with sweat against the evening sun.

There was a moment where Ashido felt her blood boil, rage overwhelming her senses and leaving her vision red. It was as if a long forgotten hatred had been rekindled, a blazing inferno in her healing soul, and every fiber in her being was screaming in her ears with an irritating buzz. Acid dripped from her fingers, a light sizzle sounding from the grass at her feet.

How dare they. How dare they!

Somewhere in her mind's eye, crimson eyes met hers, pain hidden behind a curtain of indifference as her voice tore at him like a knife, and then they were dimmed with agony until the light left them and the breath left his lungs, and suddenly, the anger completely evaporated.

Calm. She needs to stay calm. The last time she'd lost herself to anger nearly took her friend away forever and she didn't think she could handle that happening ever again.

Of course, that didn't mean she had to stand by and just let this happen. That had been a much more complicated situation that she'd been mostly blind to. This seemed pretty straight forward in comparison.

She nearly lost it when one of the boys finally lost his temper and socked Midoriya in the jaw. The green-haired teen took it easily, barely flinching at the collision even when his cheek bruised and his left nostril lightly bled. The bubbling anger came roaring back as Ashido heard her teeth clatter together and she stomped over. “What the h*** do you think you're doing!?”

The boy laughed, an ugly sneer on his face. “What, now you're gonna have a girl defend you?”

The front boy, the leader of the group from the looks of it, surprised Ashido by smacking him over the head. “None of that. I didn't ask for your input, nor did I ask you to hit the guy.”

Ashido could feel Midoriya's gaze next to her as she looked over the three. Two and three weren't anything special, the second boy looking like the most stereotypical pretty boy she'd ever seen and the quieter third one with the head and arms of a bat. Unlike Pretty Boy, whose eyes were boring into her and making her skin crawl, he had a kinder aura about him, even if he was still participating in whatever this was. Ashido had no respect for him doing that, but at least he might not be that bad of a person.

The leader, for some reason, made her angry. At least he didn't act like a complete jerk like Pretty Boy, but there was something about him that put her on edge. His eyes were sharp, shifty, his dark hair somewhat long but well kept and a pair of sunglasses on his head. Ashido vaguely remembered seeing someone who looked similar to him during the practical of the U.A. heroics entrance exam.

“Listen,” Sunglasses said. “I really don't want to fight you, miss. So if you could leave, that'd be appreciated.”

Ashido snorted, crossing her arms. “I don't know what's going on here, but I'm asking you politely to leave them alone.”

“Good grief,” Pretty Boy growled. “We were just playing a game.”

“Hurting innocent animals is not a game.” Midoriya said sternly. His cheek was now purple. “We're asking you nicely to please leave us alone. We don't want to fight you either.”

Now, Ashido didn't believe for a second that they weren't looking for a fight, but she chose not to say anything. Sunglasses was giving her a dangerous look, annoyance beginning to creep up in his eyes. He sighed. “Now look what you did.”

Ashido and Midoriya glanced behind them, watching as the cat limped out of sight. Kouda gave a satisfied sigh, a small smile on his face as the poor creature made its escape. It was only a second, literally just a second, before Ashido looked back towards the boys and found Sunglasses literally inches away from her face. She hadn't even heard him move. “You went and ruined our fun. How rude.”

She resisted the urge to flinch, even when he was standing so close. She refused to play defensive in this situation. She would not lose ground to these guys. Midoriya watched wordlessly as the other two boys approached as well. “Ashido, Kouda, let's just go. We have more important things to do.”

Ashido couldn't help but swell with pride at Midoriya's confident demeanor and passive aggressive attitude, not daring to crack under the pressure that he was being put under. He showed no fear, even when images of past experiences could very well be flashing across his vision. Ashido chose to turn away from that train of thought.

She heard Pretty Boy squawk in indignation while Discount Batman let out a small 'oi' as if he were at a loss. Sunglasses snorted, obviously annoyed with them, but in Ashido's humble opinion, he could go suck an egg.

There was a whoosh, a light breeze rustling against her pink curls, and in the blink of an eye, Sunglasses appeared in a blur, his form seemingly melting into the air and rebuilding itself behind them. Ashido jumped, not prepared for the use of what was obviously the guy's quirk, and watched in horror as he lifted his foot and jammed it right into Kouda's chest, earning a surprised gasp from the animal whisperer as he toppled over onto his back.

There was a moment where real anger flashed across Midoriya's eyes, his fists clenching and lightly sparking, but it was replaced by uncertainty a moment later, leaving him almost confused in his position. Ashido wondered if he was trying to hold back like he had with her back in that merch shop. She knew he didn't want to seriously hurt someone, even if they were petty bullies.

He also probably didn't want to get in trouble with the school. He'd already been on thin ice before, taking part in a major hero raid illegally and then getting into a fistfight with Bakugou after curfew. The last thing he needed was to attack students outside the heroics classes and be the one to get in trouble when they goaded him into it rather than attack first. Too risky, even if his retaliation was justified.

D*** school politics.

“What? It's not like I actually hurt him.” Sunglasses laughed.

That didn't help Ashido feel any better, buddy, and it didn't help Midoriya loosen up either.

And they weren't the only ones, apparently, because the next thing any of them knew, Sunglasses was on the ground.

It happened so fast that Ashido wasn't sure what even happened at first. She saw the three boys first, Sunglasses falling flat on his a** from an unknown momentum and slowly processing how he ended up there in the first place. Pretty Boy and Discount Batman both looked ready to soil themselves, their eyes wide with terror and knees buckling wildly. When Sunglasses finally looked up, his eyes were filled with what could only be described as hatred.

A second later, Ashido turned, finding Midoriya crouching down to help Kouda back to his feet, Kouda patting his back to show his appreciation and support rather than have to say it out loud. Meanwhile, Ashido was suddenly grinning, because standing in Midoriya's place next to her was Bakugou.

Sunglasses growled. “The h*** is wrong with you?”

“What? It's not like I actually hurt you.” he sneered back, his voice dripping with venom and gaze absolutely murderous. His teeth were barred, his canines glistening in a demonic grin.

With how close they'd become, Ashido had genuinely forgotten just how good he was at intimidation.

Sunglasses stumbled to his feet, a clear hand-shaped scorch mark on the front of his uniform jacket, and glared daggers at the explosion user. The other two seemed to be gaining some confidence from their leader's defiance in the face of death. “You think you're better than me, you son of a b****?”

Bakugou didn't even miss a beat. “Yes, I do, and that I am.”

Ashido heard Midoriya choke somewhere behind them.

Sunglasses ground his teeth. “Cocky mother f***er. Just because you made it into the heroics course and I didn't? You're all looking down on me and yet they let a monstrosity like you run around scot-free?”

Bakugou snarled, a nefarious glint in his eyes that had the three of them quaking in their boots. “You're really asking for it, f***er. I ain't in the mood for this kind of bulls*** today, so I'd recommend for everyone's sake that you just f*** off and leave these losers alone.”

“What? Too scared to fight me?”

“Do you want me to?”

“Kacchan...” Midoriya warned, his expression etched with concern.

“Hey dude,” Discount Batman, now the smartest of the group in Ashido's opinion, said nervously, grabbing Sunglasses's shoulder. “Maybe we should go. It's not worth it to fight over a cat.”

Sunglasses shook him off, glaring at Bakugou as if he had some kind of vendetta against him. Bakugou, on the other hand, had toned down some of his intensity, but his eyes were still like that of a predator, an almost villainous glint making them practically glow, and his teeth remained barred. Ashido could only wish she could flip from chill to mass murderer like an on and off switch so easily. It amazed her that Sunglasses was actually brave enough to invade the ash blonde's personal space and get that close to him, meeting his gaze head on despite the way his hands and knees trembled. It was a wannabe hero staring down the real deal, an amateur against an expert.

Sunglasses, with a wobbling smile, met Bakugou's hardened gaze. “I'm surprised at how much the school lets you get away with. I wonder what I can do?”

What happened next would forever change the course of that young man's life. For the worst.

It was a blur, a mass melting into the air and reappearing elsewhere so fast that none of the six of them even realized what happened until Bakugou involuntarily gasped a second later. His viciousness held, but pain flashed across his eyes, and the realization was like a bolt of lightning.

The idiot punched him.

He actually punched him.

Right in the stomach.

Suddenly, all Ashido could think was f*** this guy, but before she knew what was going on, two things were already happening at once.

Green energy surged forward as Ashido was being yanked back, Kouda whimpering at the sizzling against his skin where he made contact with her. It was a moment later that she realized that she'd leaped forward towards the a**hole herself, unsure of what her plan had actually been in that moment.

There was a sickening crunch where Midoriya's fist collided with Sunglasses's nose, digging into his face and sending him careening off across the yard, skidding across the grass and through the side of the school with a resounding crash. The two lackeys looked on in utter shock, left completely speechless by the display of power.

“D***it, Deku!” Bakugou yelled in anger, lightly clutching his stomach. “I had it under control!”

“I'm sorry! I panicked!” Midoriya yelled back, flailing and genuinely hysterical. “Are you okay?!”

“I'm fine, you moron! Calm down!”

“I am calm!”

“That's my line, f***stick!”

The two powerhouses continued to argue like children, leaving the rest of them in a state of shocked confusion. Ashido barely noticed that acid was still freely dripping off her hands.

“What is wrong with you!?!” Discount Batman screamed. “You could have killed him, you lunatic!”

“Enjoy your position in the heroics course while you can!” Pretty Boy declared angrily. “You won't be staying there for long after this!”

The two boys ran off at that, searching through the wreckage for their fallen leader. Ashido felt Kouda release her, leaving her to stand there in a state of stunned silence as she attempted to process everything that had just happened while he approached the two rivals. “Um, are we gonna be in trouble?” he spoke up nervously.

“Doubt it.” Bakugou growled, attempting to straighten his posture. “Throwing a punch with clear malicious intent at an injured person is gonna screw them over big time. I can handle it, obviously, but anyone else and they could have been seriously f***ed up. Also, he swung first and I didn't touch him.”

D*** school politics.

Bakugou let out some kind of indecipherable sound of protest when Midoriya forced his arm around his shoulder. “The h*** do you think you're doing!? I can walk, a**hat!”

“I don't care. It's better safe than sorry.” Midoriya said sternly before turning to Kouda. “Kouda, please take his other arm.”

“I don't need your help, extras!” Bakugou practically screamed in their ears, even when he didn't do much to push them away. Ashido pointedly ignored the way he stumbled as they began to pull him along and swallowed the fear that was building up in her stomach. She could only hope that something hadn't been torn.

She was about to follow after them when she heard sizzling at her feet, looking below her and noticing the sidewalk they'd been standing on for the first time since she'd stepped into this situation. There were holes in the concrete, steam rolling up from where drops of her acid ate through the hardened cement like cotton candy and left it looking like Swiss cheese. Her acid in that moment was so strong that it was corroding the sidewalk itself in seconds.

If Ashido had attacked any of those boys, she could have done far more lasting damage than Midoriya's punch. She only hoped that Kouda's hand didn't get too badly burned.

With those thoughts festering in her mind and making her stomach flip, she followed after her classmates towards the dorms, her exhaustion nearly forgotten.


“You got a minute, Sensei?”

Aizawa looked up from grading papers to find Jirou peering into the teacher's lounge. Present Mic and Midnight spared her passing glances before returning to their own work while All Might watched her carefully, his brows furrowed in what could only be apprehension. Honestly, after everything Aizawa's seen, that was all the reason he needed to decide that this was probably a situation that required his attention. “Yes, I do. Can we discuss it here or would you like to speak in a more private setting?”

“No, this is fine.” Jirou said, her voice layered with uncertainty. “Do you know where Recovery Girl is right now? I think something happened to Bakugou.”

All four heads turned to face her at that, eyes wide. Aizawa tried to ignore the feeling of his heart dropping. “Jirou, please elaborate.”

Jirou twirled her ear jack, a nervous habit as she stared pointedly at the wall. “I got to the dorm and found him being led in by Midoriya and Kouda. Ashido asked me to look for Recovery Girl and I thought I should get you too. I don't know what happened, but she sounded p***ed.”

Aizawa shared glances with the other teachers, worry etching their faces as they got up from their desks. Midnight's voice stood out. “All Might, head to the dorm for damage control. Present Mic, help Jirou find Recovery Girl. She's most likely in her office. Aizawa, with me.”

Present Mic and All Might were at their feet immediately, disappearing through the doorway after Jirou's retreating footsteps. It only took Aizawa a moment to fall into step with Midnight as she strode down the halls of U.A., her heels clicking against the tile floor.

“What exactly do you have in mind?” Aizawa asked carefully, his heart still in his throat.

“Just a hunch.” Midnight replied coolly, only frustrating him.

The fact that anything could have happened so soon set his nerves on fire. The kid literally just got discharged from the hospital yesterday, after being stuck there for a month, after being in a coma for two weeks, after being gutted in the stomach by rebar and nearly dying. The kid's been dragged through the ringer. What happened now?

He followed Midnight wordlessly, passing small groups of students chatting away as they all headed back to their dorms. Twisting and turning through the halls, the two pro heroes found themselves stepping into the dimly lit security room, the main source of light being the half a dozen computer screens bathing them in a blueish hue. With a flick of her hands, Midnight was already rewinding the recordings, looking over the main cameras outside of the building in search of Aizawa's students.

“You're sure you'll find them that easily?” Aizawa questioned, watching his colleague in scrutiny.

“It couldn't have been any earlier than the end of classes, whatever happened.” Midnight reasoned. Her calculated movements suddenly stopped, her head turned to a particular screen on the bottom left. Her voice dropped to something serious. “As a matter of fact, she mentioned Kouda, right?”

Aizawa peered at the screen himself, watching in confused apprehension as a group of boys surrounded what was obviously Kouda on the ground. Midoriya appeared a moment later, the problem child defending his classmate in a calm and rational manner that, only to admit it to himself, honestly made Aizawa proud. He felt his blood pressure rise as soon as one of them punched Midoriya in the face, a deliberate attack against a fellow student unprovoked that Aizawa would be taking advantage of when he spoke with Nezu about this. Not even half a minute later, Ashido had stepped in, the boys attempting to intimidate them as a cat jogged out from where Kouda was and disappeared off camera. One of the boys went so far as to kick Kouda and Aizawa's blood hit a boil.

That's when Bakugou appeared, entering the scene so suddenly that none of the other students even noticed him until he was shoving one of the boys away from Ashido. His presence seemed to knock some sense into the boys, two of them backing off in what Aizawa could only assume was fear. A deep, dark and irrational part of himself hoped that was the case.

One of the boys, however, seemed to be a little overconfident, actually challenging Bakugou, from what it seemed. Despite his dangerous stance, Bakugou made no move to attack him, and Aizawa couldn't be more proud of him for that.

And then the boy swung at high speed, the tape unable to keep up with the kid's quirk, and his fist buried itself into his student's injured stomach.

Aizawa wasn't sure what the feeling was that suddenly rushed through his veins, but the fact that it threatened his rationality to the point that he didn't even flinch when Midoriya broke the kid's nose disturbed him. Allowing a moment for his vision to return to the blue color created by the screens rather than the red glaze that had overtaken it, Aizawa swiftly turned on his heel and barged out of the security room.

“Meet me in the principal's office when you get the chance.” Midnight called. “I'll get a good word in for you.”

“Thanks.” Aizawa replied curtly, storming back through the halls towards the entrance that would eventually take him to the dorms.

The kid's stomach was still vulnerable. He still couldn't eat solid food, for f***'s sake. Who knew what kind of damage a hit like that could cause. If his stomach sustained any serious damage whatsoever, let alone the worst case scenario of rupturing, he didn't give a f***. He was talking his mother into suing.

He was marching into Heights Alliance before he knew it, finding a crowd of concerned and angry teenagers in his wake. On the outer rims of the crowd, Iida was literally ranting at nothing, pacing around and chopping his arms wildly as he yelled about how disappointed he is in his fellow U.A. students for such imbecilic actions. Asui and Todoroki both did their best to calm him down, though they both also looked ready to shank someone. Uraraka had given up on being reasonable altogether, sulking in a corner up on the ceiling. The marks on her bare arms seemed to signal a past struggle, as if she'd had to be forcefully restrained from leaving. He briefly wondered if she'd actually considered homicide.

Over by the kitchen doorway, Kouda, his right hand tightly bandaged, had situated himself to watch the madness from a safe distance, though there was a clear scowl on his face. Inside, Aizawa could hear Rikidou practically throwing his pots and pans around like they'd personally offended him. There was a loud clatter, Rikidou struggling not to curse at the mess that had inevitably been made as a result. Apparently, Aoyama was in there with him, because there was also a surprised, girly shriek that accompanied the crash. Just outside the door, Tokoyami and Shouji were both brooding with enough grouchiness to practically manifest their own dark cloud to shroud them in dreariness, completely unaffected by the sudden noise coming from the kitchen, though Dark Shadow let out a squawk of displeasure.

The rest of the class was crowded around one of the couches in the common room, Ojiro and Hagakure peering over in concern while Sero impatiently tapped his foot, his grin turned upside down and hands rubbing longingly at his elbows. Off to the side, Jirou and Mineta had put their differences aside to make a collective effort to keep Kaminari calm, his expression a mixture of anxiousness and genuine, silent rage. Opposite to them, Ashido and Midoriya stood together, Midoriya with a patch on his bruised cheek and wringing his hands nervously while Ashido did everything in her power to control her frustration and anger. Having been dragged through that ringer alongside Bakugou, he couldn't imagine what might be going on in her mind.

Speaking of which, said explosive problem child was seated on the couch, shirtless as Recovery Girl looked him over and gave him an impromptu checkup for everyone's peace of mind, even if he looked less than thrilled about it. Kirishima sat next to him, likely as damage control, while Yaoyorozu stood by as Recovery Girl's assistant, diligently creating supplies as needed. At Bakugou's other side, closer to where Midoriya was, All Might sat quietly, watching the old nurse work like a silent guardian.

Other than Recovery Girl, almost everyone in the room was avoiding staring at Bakugou's exposed torso, unable to look at the remnants of the damage done. Since Recovery Girl hadn't been able to heal him for so long, his body had to compensate naturally, leaving a permanent reminder etched into his skin. Aizawa found himself having difficulty looking at it himself.

The massive scar on Bakugou's stomach was hard to miss, dark and as angry as its owner. It was somewhat star-shaped, messy and uncaring in the way it tore through his pale flesh, and spread out further than the actual hole left behind. Aizawa knew that there was a matching scar maiming his back where the rebar had entered his body, possibly larger than the exit wound, but he didn't really care to walk around and examine it.

“Hey,” Present Mic suddenly appeared at his side. “Don't worry. From the sounds of it, he's fine. Nothing to worry about.”

Aizawa only hummed in response, approaching the scene to see for himself. Trust but verify, as they say. The students in his path easily stumbled out of his way as he came through, towering over the little nurse as she finished her quick tests. Bakugou's posture was slouched, relaxed despite the look in his eyes promising a slow, painful death if he had to sit there for much longer.

“I don't see any severe damage, though it might bruise lightly,” Recovery Girl concluded. “But if you feel fatigued or nauseous for any reason, come see me immediately. For now, you should rest. And no strenuous exercises or activities. And no heavy meals-”

“Alright, alright, I get it! Don't have fun! Under-f***ing-stood!” he finally snapped, seething against Kirishima's precautionary grip on his shoulder.

“Since when did you ever care about having fun?” Kirishima snarked, earning a withering glare in response.

The tension in the common room seemed to dissipate somewhat, but there was still a lingering feeling a righteous fury floating around the room, figuratively and literally in Uraraka's case, still up on the ceiling with a look in her eyes that could set someone on fire.

“Bakugou,” Aizawa spoke, the entire room going silent. Bakugou eyed him incredulously as he huffed. “Do you mind explaining what happened?”

Bakugou looked pointedly away, but Aizawa pushed on. “I already have an idea of what happened, but I want to hear it from you specifically.”

Bakugou turned back to him sharply, brows furrowed. “Wait, you know?”

“You were all in perfect sight of a lesser used security camera. The whole thing was recorded. We just don't have the audio.”

While Bakugou's expression morphed into that of mild surprise, Ashido let out a high pitch squeal somewhat resembling a laugh and Midoriya involuntarily allowed the brightest grin that Aizawa had ever seen to split his face in half. Aizawa actually had to squint.

It took some coaxing, but Bakugou eventually relented, explaining what happened in an incredible amount of detail. Ashido and Midoriya gave twin looks of shock as he clearly described theirs and Kouda's sides of the story as he'd witness them, as if he'd been paying extra close attention. Aizawa couldn't help but think that the kid should be more careful. His concern was showing.

But that didn't matter, because by the time Bakugou had finished his tale, Aizawa actually felt like he wanted to punch something. How such problems of society got into their school, he didn't know, but that wasn't gonna be a fact for much longer if he had anything to say about. He didn't know what the look in his eyes was saying, but All Might and Mic both seemed genuinely afraid.

Aizawa took a deep breath before standing. “Midoriya, I understand that you were rightfully upset, but I unfortunately can't just not punish you for attacking another student. We have rules for a reason. I promise your punishment will be lenient.”

“Okay.” Midoriya responded simply, remnants of his earlier smile still clearly present.

“Recovery Girl,” Aizawa's voice dropped an octave without him noticing. “Would you happen to know where those boys are?”

Recover Girl gave him an unreadable look. “They were all in my office, last I checked.”

Aizawa hardened his gaze, looking back at his students before turning on his heel. “I'll be right back.”

The wave of cheering and excitement behind him as he strode out of the building almost put a smile on his face.


“Hey, Jirou,”

Said girl jumped, whirling around to face him with wide eyes in clear disbelief. Sparky let out some kind of bizarre victory screech from the kitchen.

Bakugou scowled. “That is your name, isn't it?”

“Uh...” Earlobes mumbled dumbly. “Yeah? Yeah, that's me.”

With a rough sigh, Bakugou settled back into his place on the couch, his arm snaking out from the blanket around his shoulders and aggressively poking at the seat next to him. Earlobes gave him a questioning look, but approached nonetheless.

From what Bakugou had overheard, Aizawa had gone on an absolute warpath, tearing through the halls of U.A. and nearly giving those boys a f***ing heart attack when he barged into the infirmary. He and Midnight led them all to Principal Nezu's office, who easily tore through their arguments with logic, facts, evidence, and a whole heaping ton of common sense. The principal refused to take any of their bulls***, putting Discount Batman on house arrest, suspending Pretty Boy, and expelling Sunglasses altogether. Even though Deku was on classroom cleaning duty for the next week(with a new assigned partner everyday), it was still complete and utter victory for class 1-A. Bakugou was okay with this.

Earlobes sat down tentatively, watching him out of the corner of her eye as if she was expecting him to suddenly lunge at her. Bakugou swallowed any anger bubbling up in his chest and took a deep breath. “I want you to listen closely, 'cause I'm not saying this ever again. Ever.”

Earlobes's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but he pressed on. “Listen, I just... Uh... F***ing h***, why is this always so hard!?”

“Take your time.” Earlobes snorted. “We really don't need you having an aneurysm.”

“Shut up.” Bakugou growled. “Just... F*** it. What I'm trying to say is thanks.”

From the look on her face, that was probably the last thing she'd expected to come out of his mouth. She seemed flustered, staring in stunned silence as a light red dusting overtook her cheeks. “Wha... I mean, sure, but what the h*** did I do?”

“One,” Bakugou started without missing a beat. “You kept Sparky from losing his f***ing mind and told him what's what.”

“I mean, he's my friend too, and did you just admit you were worried about him?”

Bakugou chose to completely ignore that comment. “Two, they only found us in time to save me because you heard my explosion.”

“Well, yeah. That's my quirk. I just so happened to hear it. I wasn't specifically listening for you.”

“And three,”

“Are you even listening to me?”

“As it turns out, you indirectly saved my life.”

Jirou stared at him wide eyed, almost terrified. “A- Are you okay?... Are you Toga?”

“Dear lord, shut the f*** up and let me explain, you b****.”

She shut her mouth real quick, most likely out of some kind of curiosity rather than anything else. Bakugou sighed. “I had an interesting conversation with Kami a while back about what happened when I keeled over.”

He resolutely ignored the way his heart was pounding against his ribcage. “He told me that he'd felt really f***ing helpless for some reason. F***ing idiot. But either way, point is that the only reason he was so determined to bring me back was because of something you said. Apparently, you inspired him or some s***, and as stupid as that sounds, I'd be six feet under right now if that weren't the case, so...f***ing thanks, I guess.”

Earlobes remained completely speechless, eyes the size of dinner plates and frozen in a state of utter shock. Bakugou might have been p***ed about such a reaction if he weren't so tired. What time was it again?

Jirou stammered. “I... Well, yeah, sure thing, I guess. You're welcome. Maybe, you know, you could consider us even after I acted like such an a** to you.”

Bakugou considered her for a moment, watching as she awkwardly sunk into the couch, hugging her knees and staring off at nothing. He simply hummed. “Maybe.”

“So, when did you two become friends?” Sparky cheered, skipping out of the kitchen with an absolute abomination of a sandwich and a soda.

“None of your business, Pikachu!” he immediately shot back, Jirou snorting in response.

Sparky only smiled brighter. “Sure thing, man! So, what movie are we all watching?”

“Not a f***ing rom-com. I literally don't have the stomach for hurling right now.”

“So, action then?” Dunce Face suggested.

Bakugou could feel the evil grin forming on his face even before he opened his mouth. “I was thinking horror.”

Sparky blanched, Earlobes almost keeling over herself with laughter. “Uh... Are you sure about that? Positive?”

“As a f***ing proton, Dunce Face. A smart film, not the cheap s***, and no backing out, 'cause the deal was that I get to choose the first movie. And that I get the couch, so off, Earlobes!”

“You invited me here!”

“I didn't say you could stay!” he yelled, kicking her to the floor. “Off!”

“Well, aren't we friendly.” Black Eyes laughed, Kirishima following close behind. Bakugou only snorted at him, burying himself into his blanket like some kind of cave dweller and glaring at every classmate who dared to come too close to him. For some reason, they all only laughed it off, like he wasn't perfectly capable of incinerating them all or something.

Well, to be fair to them, he didn't exactly appear all that threatening at the moment, wrapped up in his little cocoon. He did make an example out a Flat Face though, booting him off the couch as hard as he could when he tried to sit there. He might have actually bruised him with how hard he hit him.

“Alright, everybody!” Ponytail happily announced. “In celebration of both our classmate's rapidly improving health and proper justice being served out today, Iida is allowing us to stay up past curfew without his complaints this one time. Please do not abuse this privilege, but also be sure to enjoy yourselves tonight!”

The class cheered, Sparky's and Raccoon Eyes's voices raising above the rest as the lights went off, the snacks were brought out and the movie was popped in. As the group settled, Bakugou watched the idiots surrounding him carefully, their excitement simultaneously contagious and unbelievably annoying. He snarled at himself for how stupidly soft he was becoming. He scowled at them, fighting himself on keeping the tough guy act up or using his exhaustion and relatively recent near death experience as excuses.

For some reason that was far beyond him, the latter option won out. “Oi, Idiot Parade.”

Said idiot parade turned to him instantly, Bakugou incredibly amused that they actually responded to that now. “Up here. Now.”

Their eyes lit up like stars, Kirishima leaping up and landing next to him without hesitation. Sero was a bit more cautious after being sent flying. “You sure, man?”

“Would I say anything if I wasn't?” Bakugou snarled, which was all the invitation they needed to completely surround him, Horns going so far as to dig into his blanket mound and nearly smother him. He'd be getting her back for taking advantage of his generosity later.

For now, this was fine, his idiot...friends, f*** it, invading his personal space like normal and his classmates being annoying and loud like normal and as much as Bakugou told himself he hated it, it was normal.

He'd missed normal.

And so, he'd let it slide just this once, content with being in an environment where people were loud and obnoxious and stupid and cared, where they tolerated him as a person and understood him to some degree, not condemning him for his past mistakes. It was more than he deserved, honestly.

Or was it actually what he deserved, doomed to be annoyed and angry at the constant idiocy he was surrounded by for the rest of his life? He'd be working with these maniacs in the future, after all.

Funny how life worked that way.