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Of Anemones and Hydrangeas

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They all pitied him. At least, that's what it felt like. Eijirou Kirishima worked his hardest to get into UA to become a hero, to risk his life to save people. That was what he wanted more than anything. But now, his classmates made him feel as if he was the defenseless one in need of saving.

His chest felt uncomfortably tight as Bakugou stormed away from him. He had gotten in some pointless argument with Izuku again, then became more pissed off when Kirishima got between him and the smaller boy and tried to diffuse the situation. Bakugou was his best friend, but he was always doing this. Kirishima had to suppress the feeling that Bakugou didn't really care about him at all, especially as his concerned peers implied that same thing. He knew they meant well, but their support really didn't help.

“Why do you let him treat you like that?” Uraraka chimed in from Izuku’s side, wearing a deep frown.

“Yeah, seriously, dude. That's rough.” Denki lounged in his chair and observed the situation, muttering a response.

“You do so much for him.”

“Respect yourself. Have some standards for how you're treated!” The class kept voicing their opinions, and Kirishima half-noticed that breathing was becoming more and more difficult.

“You guys just don't know him like I do, really. It's alright!” He took a deep breath and grinned to silence their worries. They were easy enough to fool, and soon they were smiling like he was a joke, as always. He decided that as long as no one worried about him, he would be alright.

He slung his bag over his shoulder and made the quick five-minute walk to the dorms. Making the walk without Bakugou felt strange, and the tight feeling in his chest was returning. He felt something in his throat and as soon as he stepped into his room and shut the door behind him, he cleared his throat and coughed into his elbow.

White hydrangea petals cascaded out and floated down, landing on the floor in front of him. He stared wide-eyed at the petals scattered on the floor and let his bag slide off his shoulder with a thud. Kirishima hesitantly kneeled and cleaned it up, petal by petal. His heart grew heavier by the second. He gripped the petals in his hand for a moment before he threw them in the trash can by his desk and sat down in his chair. He couldn’t peel his eyes away from the screen of his laptop for hours, as every source gave him the same grim result. Hanahaki disease.

Once search result led to another and soon he had innumerable tabs open and he knew everything there was to know about this disease. The stages, the symptoms, even the most common type of flower, carnations. It took some further searching to figure out what his flower was, especially since he was still at stage one, which only caused the occasional cough of petals. But eventually, he identified them as hydrangeas and looked into them. It’s a flower symbolizing heartfelt and honest emotions, heartlessness, and frigid disinterest in romance; he thought this was an especially cruel form of irony. Kirishima’s desperation eventually led him to a forum for those affected with Hanahaki disease. It felt fruitless at first, but after another hour of scanning the webpage, he found a post listing possible ways to elongate the life of the victim without surgery. The number one recommendation was to avoid any sort of contact with the one you’re in love with.

 

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

It was all Kirishima could do to avoid Bakugou, and it did seem to help. He only had a coughing fit when he thought about him too much, or when he bumped into him in the hall, or if he got paired with him for an assignment. But, he was lonelier than ever. He still had Denki and some other friends, when they weren’t around Bakugou at least. He also got to know Izuku, Tenya, and Uraraka more. After a month of seemingly getting better, he finally went a whole week without coughing up any petals. It was a Friday night and it was getting late. Izuku and Uraraka were in his room, kicking his ass at Mario Kart.

“Blue shell, bitches!” Uraraka yelled, jumping up from the floor and devolving into maniacal laughter as she zoomed past Izuku’s character and past the finish line to first place. She smugly sat back down as her green-haired boyfriend and redhead friend finished the race soon after her. Izuku was muttering to himself with crossed arms and Uraraka leaned over to kiss his cheek with a bit of a cocky smile. Kirishima was still laughing after her outburst but pulled himself together enough to gently scold Uraraka for yelling.

“I guess it is getting late, isn’t it? I should probably head to my room. I promised the girls I would go shopping with them tomorrow. And knowing Yao-momo, she’ll drag us all out of bed way too early,” Uraraka smiled and gave Kirishima a hug and Izuku a kiss before waving to the both of them and leaving. Kirishima couldn’t help but avert his eyes for their kiss, only looking back to the other boy as the door shut behind her. He knew it was unfair to be jealous of them or to be upset about their happiness, but that couldn’t change the way he felt.

“It is almost curfew. You should probably head out too,” he flashed Izuku a half-hearted smile. “See you later, man.”

His friend paused for a moment as if he was going to question him, but quickly nodded and said his goodbyes before leaving Kirishima’s room.

Turning off the game and TV, the boy let himself fall back onto his bed with a deep sigh. His arms flopped to his sides and his eyes closed. It didn’t take long for him to feel like he was floating.

 

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

He found himself lying in a field of flowers, beautiful red anemones. And next to him, sleeping peacefully, was Bakugou. His face was the most relaxed he’d ever seen. Kirishima carefully traced the soft lines of his face until his eyes drifted open. His hand pulled back as Bakugou sat up, his eyes never leaving Kirishima’s. The ash blond boy leaned in and kissed him. Kirishima immediately leaned into him, wanting to feel him as close as possible.

It felt like kissing the mid-autumn wind, slow and warm, but false and impermanent. The kiss went on for a long time until Kirishima couldn’t breathe. He quickly pulled back and Bakugou disappeared in a mist. All of the flowers wilted. He was trying, gasping for breath, but every time, it would get caught in his throat, unable to go further, and be expelled almost immediately after.

 

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

Kirishima jolted awake, hands clutching at his throat. There was an urgent knock at the door. He threw himself off his bed and crawled over to his trash can, vision becoming blurry before he was able to cough the obstruction out of his throat. More than a few hydrangea blossoms came tumbling out, clumped together. Stage two. Kirishima took deep breaths and let his arm rest across the rim of the trash can, laying his head down on it. He finally noticed the knocking, and at this point, it was almost banging on his door. He frantically glanced around, wiping his mouth and taking a drink of water. He got up and crumpled a few tissues up, arranging them just so on top of the blossoms in his trash, to conceal them until he could dispose of them without the possibility of too-curious wandering eyes noticing.

He went to the door and opened it. “Hey, sorry. I was…” Kirishima trailed off as Bakugou brushed by him, going into the room. The redhead’s hands started to tremble and his breathing quickened. He turned around to face the other boy. “What are you doing? It’s past curfew.”

“Don’t give me that bullshit!” Bakugou fumed. Kirishima had always seen him get irritated over silly little things but never had he seemed truly angry before. “Why the hell have you been avoiding me? You’ve been distant since I had that argument with Deku, and now what? You’re hanging out with him? He’s your friend now?”

“He’s always been my friend, Bakugou.” Kirishima didn’t know how long he could keep up a conversation with him.

“Yeah, right.” He scoffed. “If you’re pining after him or something, you might as well give up. You know he’s with gravity girl.”

“That’s not it at all!”

“Then what is it? Am I not good enough for you anymore, Kirishima? I thought we were friends, huh?”

“We are! But this is none of your business!”

Bakugou shook with rage. “Fine! Fuck it, I didn’t care anyway!” He shouted, leaving and slamming the door behind him. Kirishima couldn’t bring himself to move. He’d feel totally empty if it wasn’t for the blossoms filling his throat.

 

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

Kirishima was no longer on speaking terms with Bakugou after his outburst, but he was still hopelessly in love. It had been more than a month and it felt like no matter what he did, Hanahaki disease was out to get him. He was only getting worse. And his friends were becoming harder to trick. One afternoon, Izuku and Uraraka were in Kirishima’s room studying for an exam. The room was quiet as they were pulling their things out of their bags, until Izuku tells them he had forgotten a textbook, and left the room to go get it. Kirishima hadn’t been feeling well recently, and despite the candle he kept lit in his room, the room was filled with the scent of hydrangeas and a hint of blood. Kirishima excused himself and went to the restroom. He sat on the cool tile floor for a moment after the flowers came up before washing his mouth and brushing his teeth, flushing the bloodstained flowers away. He was at stage three.

He took a deep breath and left the bathroom, only to be met with Uraraka’s distressed and conflicted expression.

“Kirishima… can we please talk?” He started to panic, and briefly cursed the fact that he went to UA and that all of his friends were extremely intelligent and perceptive.

“Why?” He was stumbling over his words. “We should wait for Izuku to get back before we start studying. He’s the smart one, anyway!” Kirishima rattled off with a fake grin.

“He won’t come back for a while. I have his textbook. I figured he would go look for it and it would give us an opportunity to have a chat.” She paused. “I’m worried about you. I found out about your Hanahaki disease.” Her eyes were getting watery. “You’re one of my best friends. I don’t care who it is, I can’t believe you would throw your life away for them! You’ve worked so hard to be a hero, and you’ll do such good things. You can find someone else, Kirishima. I think… I think you should get the surgery.” The boy’s eyes glossed over and he froze for a moment.

“Bakugou.” He mumbled, and the girl’s eyes widen.

“You have to have the surgery. Kirishima, I don’t think that’ll ever work. Please… take care of yourself. Do the right thing.” She talked so softly as if she was afraid the sound of her voice could crack his glass heart. He nodded slowly and she smiled a bit, hugging him. He patted her back but quickly went back to the bathroom. Uraraka’s eyes fell to the floor. She flinched when she heard him retch.

Beep. Beep. Her eyes drifted to the origin of the noise. Kirishima’s phone. She glanced back to the closed bathroom door, from which Kirishima could still be heard. The girl’s hand shot out and grabbed the phone before she had time to really think about what she was doing, quickly unlocking it and looking at the messages.

Bakugou!!
[4:03 PM]
Hey I wanna talk.
Bakugou!!
[4:03 PM]
I know you’re probably still mad at me. Which… is fair, I guess. But please?

She stared at the phone, eyebrows furrowed and her thumb hovered over the screen. Beep.

Bakugou!!
[4:05 PM]
I mean, I didn’t really expect you to respond. If you don’t want to, whatever. But know that I’m sorry.

Her eyes flew to the still-closed bathroom door. She didn’t hear Kirishima anymore, but she had already gone too far to go back. She selected the three new messages and deleted them before hurriedly turning the phone off and setting it back where it was.

Kirishima walked back into the room, looking pale and defeated.

"You're right."

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

Kirishima was out of school for a week after the surgery. Luckily, there were no complications, and he returned to school as soon as he could. His doctor told him he would be excused from strenuous physical activity for a little while, but that was typical of any surgery. The entire class, excluding Bakugou, came to visit him in the hospital, too. Once he got back, everyone greeted him wholeheartedly. Kirishima’s eyes darted to Bakugou’s empty desk but shook off any concern with a shrug.

He sort of felt different since waking up from the surgery, as if something had been taken from him. It was an odd sensation. He knew that he had the disease because he was in love with Bakugou, but now, that feeling was gone. It was like the memories of Bakugou took on a distorted quality. He still had all his memories, but the depth of their relationship faltered and tapered off.

Kirishima found that the ash blond boy had been gone from school for a few days. He didn’t think much about it for the rest of the day. He walked to the dorms that afternoon with Tenya, Izuku, and Uraraka. The brunette girl waved and split off from the group, mumbling something about needing to talk to someone.

She immediately went to Bakugou’s room and knocked on the door. She waited for a moment and prepared to knock again as Bakugou swung the door open. She kept her mouth in a solid line and crossed her arms, staring the boy down.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Well, I was trying to take a nap, but doesn’t look like that’s happening, does it?” Immediately after those words left his mouth, she let her hand fly and strike his cheek. She was more surprised than he was that it made contact. Bakugou’s face remained unchanged.

“Stop skipping. Why don’t you want to see Kirishima? He seems worried about you. You don’t have to be worried about him now either, he had surgery for his Hanahaki disease. He doesn’t love you anymore.” Her words came off with a sarcastic edge at first. She was scolding Bakugou like you would a child for being insensitive and selfish. His face shifted into an irritated scowl.

“He really was the only one who knew anything about me.” The boy went to shut his door, but the girl slid her foot into the doorway too quickly.

“Don’t you dare. We’re going to have a chat.”

“No, we’re not! I don’t have to justify myself to you! I know I fucked up, okay?! It’s pretty much common knowledge. I missed my chance and now there’s nothing I can do about it.” Uraraka’s eyes widened and she stared into Bakugou’s eyes.

“You did care about him.” She whispered, mostly to herself. Bakugou laughed bitterly.

“Figure that out all by yourself?” His voice wavered, cracking just a bit as his misty eyes found an interesting swirl on his wooden door frame to distract him. Anything was better than the girl’s knowing eyes. He cleared his throat. “Is that all you wanted?”

“I... yeah. I guess. I’m sorry.” The girl stepped back and looked at her hands wringing around each other.

“Whatever.” As his door slammed, a slight breeze drifted a single red anemone petal out of his room.

 

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

Months passed, and things pretty much went back to normal. Bakugou and Kirishima were even hanging out again. Bakugou however, had been skipping class quite a lot and always tried to downplay it. Aizawa didn’t seem to question it, just the students. Their teacher simply looked on, with an unusual and unreadable expression. But Kirishima had been getting especially concerned. It was fall now, and Bakugou stayed home from school with a bad cough. A cold, he said. He did seem especially pale when Kirishima went to get him up that morning, and he wouldn’t let his friend get past the doorway.

So of course, Kirishima bolted to the dorms to check on the other boy. He dropped his stuff off in his own room went to knock on the door, but noticed it was slightly ajar, so he slowly pushed it open.

“Bakugou?” He questioned quietly.

Scattered across the room were flowers. Beautiful red anemones. And on the bed, with closed eyes and a peaceful expression, was Bakugou. His face was the most relaxed he’d ever seen. Well - almost. His heart felt heavy and a familiar, dream-like haze fell over him. He carefully traced the soft lines of his face. Bakugou didn’t stir at all. He lay still. Kirishima looped his arms around the boy, lifting him up and leaning into him, wanting to feel him as close as possible. He couldn’t form words. Kirishima vaguely remembered a dream he’d had.

Bakugou no longer felt warm, but Kirishima still couldn’t breathe. He gasped for breath as he choked on sobs, holding the boy in a tight grip. His breath caught, unable to get past the lump in his throat. Bakugou was pried from him, and he finally caught his breath. Kirishima stayed motionless until all the flowers wilted.

 

~⧫~⧫~⧫~

 

The anemone flower often symbolizes a forsaken or forgotten love and affection, anticipation, undying love, or sickness.