Actions

Work Header

The Only Exception

Chapter Text

Sneak Peek of Upcoming Chapter 1

He loved his friends more than anything, and he knew that they loved him. Even Bakugou showed his affection for their group. Like when he made practically five-star quality ramen for the group during a late night study session, even though Kaminari was whining the entire time about verb conjugations. Or when he called the tool that Mina dated in middle school a “fucking stupid asshat” when she shared the story about being dumped at her first dance. Bakugou even gave Sero pointers about his defensive skills the other day, although, to anyone who didn’t know him it would probably look like a shouting match rather than constructive criticism.

Yeah, Kirishima loved his friends. He just wished that he didn’t love one friend as much as he did.

``

“Yeah trust me, no one’s surprised you picked a muscley guy in a tank top” Kaminari retorted.

``

Chapter Text

And I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
I try to keep going but it's not that simple
I think I'm a little bit caught in the middle
Gotta keep going or they'll call me a quitter
Yeah I'm caught in the middle

“This game isn’t faaaair~”

Mina’s voice cut through the fanfare of the Smash game that Kirishima was trying, unsuccessfully, to block out. He glanced up from his English homework to see Mina sprawled on the floor of the common area with her arm strewn dramatically over her eyes. Sero and Kaminari lounged on the couch with Gamecube controllers in their hands, clearly trying hard not to laugh at Mina’s miserable state.

“Aw come on! It’s fun to play against you, Sero always beats me”

Kaminari poked Mina’s puffed up cheeks, only to receive a piercing black glare in return.

“It’s true, he gets worse than you do when he loses”

Kirishima couldn’t help but breath out a small laugh over the exchange his friends were having. Mina was at a clear disadvantage here, being that the only video game she’s ever touched was Animal Crossing. Next to him, Bakugou breathed out a heavy sigh and pushed his hand onto his forehead as Kaminari whined about Sero using cheap tricks to win.

He loved his friends more than anything, and he knew that they loved him. Even Bakugou showed his affection for their group. Like when he made practically five-star quality ramen for the group during a late night study session, even though Kaminari was whining the entire time about verb conjugations. Or when he called the tool that Mina dated in middle school a “fucking stupid asshat” when she shared the story about being dumped at her first dance. Bakugou even gave Sero pointers about his defensive skills the other day, although, to anyone who didn’t know him it would probably look like a shouting match rather than constructive criticism.

Yeah, Kirishima loved his friends. He just wished that he didn’t love one friend as much as he did.

He wasn’t sure when it started, but it sure did hit him hard after Kamino. Having Bakugou ripped away from his life, it felt like nothing he had ever experienced before. But when he actually moved and rescued Bakugou, when he realized Bakugou was safe, the relief that washed over him was exhilarating. Since then, Kirishima has caught himself staring at Bakugou during class and their study sessions together. The rush of adrenaline he once thought was intense admiration he now realizes is something completely different, and completely more terrifying.

Kirishima shook his head quickly. It’s pointless even thinking about this. Bakugou is my friend. Who cares how I feel if it could ruin our friendship?

He sighed. Yeah, he tells himself that now. One look from Bakugou though and he was done for. But he knew, no matter how much his heart ached to be with Bakugou as more than just friends, there’s no way that he would reciprocate his feelings. Plus, it wasn’t manly to be selfish and unload your feelings onto someone else when they would obviously feel uncomfortable with that information. Much better to be there to support your friend, like bros do!

Yeah...definitely better that way.

Kirishima snapped back to reality as Mina slammed her hands on the coffee table in front of the couch, her eyebrows knit together in a show of seriousness.

“Well you guys have had, like, a million years to get good at this game! How do you expect me to have any fun when I can’t even do any damage?” She turned to Kaminari “This is just like the Nezu incident…”

Kaminari shared a knowing look with her and sighed dramatically, “We were just a couple of dumb kids trying to get by”

Apparently, Kirishima had been watching this scene unfold for too long because he got a sharp whack on the back of his head from Bakugou.

“Stop fucking watching those idiots Shitty Hair, you haven’t even finished your first page. You know this is due tomorrow, right?” He cocked one eyebrow up and gave Kirishima a stare that almost made him blush. Almost. Kirishima apologetically put his hand on the back of his head and gave Bakugou a sheepish smile.

“Sorry bro, hard for me to focus with all this noise”

“Tch...whatever”, Bakugou rolled his eyes, abruptly looking away from Kirishima and towards the next page of his English homework, “Dunno why we had to come down here in the first place”

Mina perked up at that comment. Somehow, despite the noise she, Kaminari, and Sero were making, she still heard Bakugou mutter. She sat up straighter, directly turning to face Bakugou.

“Because you’ve been STEALING Kiri away from us! Between all your training and studying, the only time we, his best friends, get to see him is lunch!”

Sero and Kaminari nodded sagely, both making pointed glances at Kirishima, who immediately felt heat rising to his cheeks. Yeah, he regretted telling Kaminari about his crush on Bakugou. Kirishima had been up late last week with Kaminari, and in a moment of weakness from the need to confide in someone about his feelings, he had told a completely untrustworthy friend who literally within a day had already told most of class 1-A about his predicament.

Bakugou’s voice cut through his thoughts. “This idea was fucking stupid anyways. Kirishima can’t focus when you idiots are yelling over a pointless game”

“Awww~ He cares about our dearest red boy!” Kaminari gave Bakugou a mischievous smirk after gazing lovingly at Kirishima.

Oh he was going to kill Kaminari later.

“THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?” Bakugou abruptly stood up from his chair, his hands sparking threateningly at Kaminari, who already squeaked and jumped behind Sero.

“Speaking of...”, Sero interrupted, with his hands up in a placating gesture, “I think Kiri deserves a break, don’t you?”. He looked towards Kirishima, “Besides, you’ve never played, right?”

Kirishima had played some video games when he was little, but in recent years he’d become much more of a gym rat than a gamer, so he was definitely out of practice.

“Yeah I don’t remember much, that’s for sure”

The chance to play some games with his best friends sounded very appealing right now, especially since he was becoming hyper-aware of the lack of space between him and Bakugou. He quickly turned to the blond with a toothy smile on his face, practically vibrating with excitement.

Bakugou glanced at him and quickly looked away with a pout. He muttered a half-hearted “whatever”, which was all it took to have Kirishima jump out of his seat to take the open space next to Mina.

“Okay so Mina, you play against Kiri to get some practice in, and then you’re both going head to head against us” Sero’s voice radiated confidence. There weren’t many opportunities for him and Kaminari to be considered experts, so this interaction presented a rare opportunity for them to hold something over Mina and his head.

Kirishima took his controller and stared at the extensive character list he was supposed to choose from. Mina already picked her character, “Greninja” according to the game’s announcer, and fittingly changed her color scheme to all pink.

“Uhhh...I guess this one?” Kirishima selected a strong looking fighter with boxing gloves on.

“Course you’d pick that one” muttered Bakugou who was completely ignoring his homework to see Kirishima’s match against Mina.

“Yeah trust me, no one’s surprised you picked a muscley guy in a tank top” Kaminari retorted.

Kirishima scoffed at that, “What? He seems manly!”

“Sure sure, whatever you say” Sero squinted suspiciously at Kirishima. As he turned to give Sero an award-winning glare, he noticed Bakugou letting out a short chuckle over their exchange. Bakugou laughs were hard to come by and every time they happened it felt like his whole body was going to combust, no pun intended.

Ah. The game. That’s what he was supposed to be focusing on. Kirishima jerked back towards the television and slammed together his fist and hand into his trademark pose.

“You’re going down, don’t expect any sympathy from me!”

“Pff you wish! At least I know some of the controls now”

Mina wasted no time, her character immediately dashed towards Kirishima’s without a moment of hesitation. And she said she doesn’t know how to play?? Luckily he found the shield button quickly, evading her attacks fairly consistently. Suddenly, Mina switched tactics, now spamming water webs at him with an extremely annoying pace. He gave a short groan at this, switching to offense and attempting to knock her character off with a powerful punch. In a split second, Mina’s character disappeared and reappeared behind him, knocking him off stage. He tried to jump back on the stage but had no idea how to recover. Okay great, I just need to not get knocked off I guess?

And then he got knocked off two more times.

“FINALLY. I WON!!” Mina laughed maniacally next to him. She attempted to spike the controller like a touchdown, to which Sero lunged to catch what seemed like a very precious object to him.

“It felt like I couldn’t even attack...” Inwardly, he sighed. For whatever reason, the battle he just fought transported him back to the fight with Sir Nighteye and Fat. Even in the gaming world, all he could do was shield. Am I really that useless?

Kirishima shook his head quickly, trying to get his grasp on reality. I’m being ridiculous, this is just a game. A fun game with my friends. It shouldn’t matter if I lose.

He put on a sheepish smile, “Mina, that was great!”

“More like that was hard to watch…” Kaminari added.

He heard Bakugou give an annoyed growl as he slammed his textbook closed. “That’s ‘cause you fuckers didn’t even teach him right. You expect someone to know what to do without knowing the basics?”

He hopped over the back of the couch and squeezed into the space between Kirishima and the armrest. Kirishima took in a shaky breath as a flurry of butterflies attacked his stomach. His heart had nearly jumped out of his chest. Normally he didn’t care much about physical contact, it was just another way to show his friends he cared about them, but that was when he was the one initiating it. Was it obvious that his pulse was racing a mile a minute? Mina’s upturned eyebrows and Kaminari’s stifled laughter made him think, yes, he was being extremely obvious. Clearing his throat, he tried to play off his nerves by giving Bakugou a confused expression.

“The fuck? Don’t think I can teach you or something?”

Kirishima let out a short laugh, “No, no nothing like that!” He gave Bakugou a light tap on his shoulder with his fist. “Just happy you wanted to teach me is all”

Bakugou’s red glare switched to something Kirishima couldn’t recognize before Bakugou hunched forward, grabbing the controller from Kirishima’s hands.

“Alright Shitty Hair, listen up ‘cause I’m only gonna say this once” He glanced up at Kirishima, “Your A moves are going to be your best bet most times...” He felt Bakugou lean into him to show what moves would work best during a fight.

He knew he should be listening to the advice Bakugou was giving him, but as he felt his friend lean into his shoulder and against his leg, the controls seemed like the less interesting thing to pay attention to. This close, Kirishima could see the different muscles in Bakugou’s arms tense and relax as he demonstrated different combos on the controller. Even though Sero and Kaminari made fun of him for being on the leaner side, there was no doubt in anyone’s minds that Bakugou was strong.

Strong enough to pin him even with his hardening quirk on the gym floor. Or to shoulder press him above his head as he did crunches. Or to push him onto his bed and kiss him mercilessly.

Okay that last one didn’t happen, but he had imagined it so many times it almost feels real at this point.

Almost.

Kirishima slowly moved his eyes up to Bakugou’s jawline, which was amazing by the way. He watched his mouth move, explaining controls that Kirishima had no hope in understanding at this point. Looking up, he noticed Bakugou had surprisingly long lashes now that he was this close. Kirishima noticed how red his eyes were, a different red than his own, warmer toned with specks of almost an orangey-brown mixed in. His eyes were something people usually found intimidating, but to him, they looked determined, strong, manly…

And suddenly he realized those eyes were now glaring at him. Shit, had he been staring this whole time? He was really in deep now.

“Uh dude, he asked if you got that?” Kaminari snickered.

Kirishima inwardly groaned, this was going to be hard to recover from.

“Uhh sorry Bakugou! I was distracted...no worries, I got it!”

He most certainly did not get it. He didn’t even hear a single thing Bakugou said other than to press the A button. Kirishima gave his fuming friend a sheepish smile, and noticed that the tips of Bakugou’s ears were tinted pink as he rolled his eyes and pushed the controller into Kirishima’s lap. Did Bakugou notice his staring? God, he would be so stupid to lose his best friend over something as ridiculous as having a crush on him.

Still, Bakugou’s leg hadn’t moved away from lightly pressing against his thigh after his embarrassingly blatant staring so...maybe he hadn’t noticed?

Bakugou cleared his throat, arms crossed in front of him, “Fucking play already so I can beat these damn nerds”

“You got it!” Kirishima pumped his fist in excitement. “Alright Mina, let’s see what you’ve got!”

“Pff as if you could beat ME!” Mina was practically glowing in her single victory.

“You sure change your tune quickly--HEY” Sero muttered, receiving a jab in the ribs from Mina.

“Kiri, you’re going down!”

Kirishima laughed wholeheartedly as Mina furiously pressed the start button. He didn’t realize how competitive Mina could actually get, and it was hilarious to see her so worked up over the game.

And then he proceeded to lose. Again.

“Are you actually fucking empty in there?” Bakugou took the controller from Kirishima as he nervously laughed out of embarrassment of getting caught completely not listening to Bakugou’s mini-lesson.

“Tape Face, you’re supposed to be the top one here right?”

“Heeeey what about mee??” Kaminari whined, looking up at Sero for some backup.

“Ah sorry Kami, you’re Pikachu isn’t really that good”

“Whaaat?? You said it wasn’t bad before!”
“Those are two completely different--”

“Okay FUCK who cares?” Bakugou interrupted, looking exasperated with the conversation. “I’m going to win against you, so fucking play me already”

“Alright, alright, but just so you know, I don’t really feel like winning” Sero replied with a glint in his eye. “But I don’t feel like losing either!”

“Isn’t that what you said to Todoroki in the sports festival battle?” Mina asked, facing Sero with a single brow upturned.

“So what if it is?”

“Didn’t you like, lose horribly after you said that”

“...Anyways” Sero rolled his icon over the list of characters and quickly picked “Wii Fit Trainer”, according to the announcer.

Bakugou rolled his eyes and picked Bowser, giving Kirishima his classic “I’m-gonna-win-and-this-loser-won’t-know-what-hit-him” look.

The eye contact made Kirishima sharply inhale and smile at his friend, who was most definitely going to beat Sero. He sighed, I’m in deep, aren’t I? He thought as the screen illuminated Bakugou’s face.

And as Bakugou’s expression broke out into a huge smile when he beat Sero without losing a single stock, he thought, Yeah, I’m in deep.

Bakugou got up from the game, a pleased smirk on his face after gaining an undeniable victory over the best of their squad. He went over to the table and started packing up his textbook and homework supplies. The left side of his body was already feeling cold with the absence of his friend’s heat.

“Aw Bakugou, you’re leaving already?” Kaminari asked, still positioned behind Sero as if he was scared any sudden movement would cause Bakugou to combust.

“I actually care about my grades, unlike you idiots” He muttered as he finished packing his backpack.

Kirishima quickly jumped off the couch and put a hand on Bakugou’s back.

“Hey, you okay? We never finished studying and I think I’m still not understanding the present perfect…” He looked at Bakugou, hoping he would say that he still wanted to hang out. And he kept his hand on Bakugou’s back because, well, he was a little bit selfish…

This time, he paid attention to Bakugou’s ears, which as he suspected, were growing more and more pink. Hmm…

“Whatever” he responded, which Kirishima knew actually meant “Yeah, come up when you can”. He broke out into a wide grin, causing Bakugou to quickly tear his eyes away from Kirishima’s and start walking towards the elevators.

“No worries bro! Be there soon!” Kirishima called over to Bakugou, who responded by flipping him off as the elevator doors closed in front of him.

As Kirishima sat back down on the couch, he felt three pairs of eyes intensely trained on him.

“Uh, what’s up guys?”

“What the hell was that about?” Mina exclaimed.

“You guys were practically eye-fucking” Sero stated matter-of-factly. Kirishima looked desperately at Kaminari, who only nodded in consensus with what everyone else had been saying.

“Was I that obvious?”

“YES” they all responded in unison. Kirishima groaned, he really doubts Bakugou didn’t notice now. And he already promised to go up to Bakugou’s room to finish studying…

“Now go be with your deranged lover boy!” Mina shooed him away, obviously wanting to focus back on the game now that she was on a winning streak.

Kirishima entire face heated up as he got up to pack his bag of supplies. Okay, so what if he was obvious? He would just have to do better avoiding that next time. Next time being now. With Bakugou. In his room.

Right after he was apparently eye-fucking him.

This was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

And I want you to stop insisting that I'm not a lost cause
'Cause I've been through a lot
Really all I've got is just to stay pissed off
If it's alright by you

The sound of Bakugou slamming the door to his dorm room reverberated through the halls of the fourth floor. He lightly cursed as he ran his sweaty hands through his spiked hair. His chest felt like it was going to explode, in a completely different way than normal.

Normally when his chest tightens, constricting his breathing and quickening his pulse, it meant he was having a panic attack. And there was some comfort in that. At least he knew what to expect when it happened.

Well, he should say, there used to be some comfort.

His panic attacks had always been rare, although probably more frequent compared to the normal person. Usually at night, usually when it was warm out, and usually when he felt constricted in some way. As long as he knew the causes, he could predict and avoid them.

But never in class, never around his peers, and certainly not during a fucking video game in the main lobby of the dorms. Not until now, at least.

He noticed his breath quickening after arriving in class the past week. His heart raced during conversations in the gym locker room long after they cooled off from their training sessions. His chest tightening when he saw a flash of sharp rows of teeth smiling back at him.

And worst of all, this wasn’t anything like a panic attack. Sure, they shared similar symptoms, but where panic attacks gave him a foreboding sense of dread he couldn’t shake, this left him feeling...good?

All he knows is that he’s fucking detonated his hands a million times and somehow this feels worse. Sure, he’s come up with reasonable excuses. Maybe he’s getting a cold, or he ate a bad piece of food. It was probably all the adrenaline triggered from Kamino. All friends feel this way and he’s just been too socially inept his whole life to notice it before.

But no, Bakugou was not an idiot. He just had a crush on one.

Even thinking that caused Bakugou to cringe outwardly. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, rolling his foot over one of Kirishima’s hacky-sacks he forgot to take back with him a few months ago. He wasn’t one of those soulless, romantic boys in the rom-coms that Black Eyes and Round Face were always ooh-ing and ahh-ing over. That was more up fucking Deku’s alley.

He kicked the hacky-sack up towards his knees, juggling it for a bit before it landed right by the pile of paper airplanes that Kirishima had made during their last hang out. His pulse quickened as he remembered Kirishima throwing sorry excuses for origami towards his side of the room. He got lucky and one landed perfectly on top of Bakugou’s head, which had caused Bakugou to momentarily look up to glare at him. That was a mistake. Now the image of Kirishima’s face lighting up in such genuine laughter, gripping his stomach as he doubled over laughing, tears springing up to his eyes as he called Bakugou “the angriest airport he’s ever seen”, was burned into his memory.

He sighed, shaking the vision away and calming himself from the sudden burst of--of whatever this is. He ran his hand through his hair again, frowning as the sweat from his hands stuck his hair together awkwardly. Embarrassed, he rubbed his hands against his pant leg. He shouldn’t be getting this worked up over a stupid encounter with one of the only people he would consider a real friend of his.

It’s not like this more physical aspect of their friendship was new. He’s handled a thousand fist bumps, high fives, side hugs, and being used as a personal armrest. But at some point down the line, it stopped being so annoying. Unexpectedly, Bakugou could feel Kirishima’s energy before he even arrived in a room. He started leaning in more during those shows of physical affection. He looked forward to study sessions together because for some damn reason having Kirishima in the same room as him made things more enjoyable.

Bakugou shuffled over to his bathroom and turned his shower on. He wasn’t a superficial person, but he definitely wasn’t about to let his nitroglycerin sweat harden in his hair. That would be fucking gross. He was in the middle of washing out the shampoo from his hair when he heard a loud knock at his door. He cursed under his breath and turned off the scalding hot water, jumped out of the shower and wrapped his towel around his waist. He swung open the door in his normal, over exaggerated fashion and greeted Kirishima with his typical glare.

“Yo Bakubro what’s--ACK!” Kirishima had been looking at his phone when Bakugou opened the door and responded on autopilot before he glanced up to notice the fresh-out-of-the-shower look Bakugou was sporting. Immediately Kirishima’s face went as red as his hair and he stumbled around his words, trying to find something to say.

“S-sorry dude I didn’t know you would be--like I thought it would be fine to come in but--and you’re--do I need to uhh--”

“Shut the fuck up Shitty Hair, s’ fine I’m about to get changed now” Bakugou didn’t know why Kirishima was making such a big deal about this, since it wasn’t anything new with the locker rooms and all. He couldn’t help but start feeling his face starting to heat up as well with Kirishima’s eyes trying desperately to look anywhere above his chest.

He quickly turned around and searched through his dresser for some sweats and a t-shirt, noticing how Kirishima was still standing in his doorway, looking surprisingly stiff and uncomfortable. As he made his way towards his bathroom, he grabbed the red-head’s shirt and pulled him inside the room.

“Don’t act like you’ve never been here before, idiot”

“Y-yeah of course!”

Bakugou still had his hand gripped on the front collar of Kirishima’s shirt. His friend looked up at him and suddenly his stare changed into something that Bakugou couldn’t make out. He felt his chest constricting and noticed he had been gripping his friend’s shirt for a few seconds too long.

He pushed Kirishima’s chest away from him and slammed his bathroom door, cursing quietly to himself. He needed to get himself together. He willed away the feeling that his stomach was turning in and over on itself and changed into his new clothes for the night. He could hear Kirishima outside his door shuffling around, likely playing with the hacky-sack that was on the ground from earlier. Bakugou let out an annoyed sigh. Ignoring his feelings might end up being harder than he thought.

Chapter Text

So do you love me?
All you gotta do is say yes
Now do you love me?
And I won't ever second guess

Bakugo steeled himself against the counter of his sink, taking a few deep, ten count breaths and listening to the sounds around him. He heard the shower head dripping drops of water down on the slick tiles below. Steady beats from the hacky sack were coming from outside the door. He felt the heel of his hands press against the dewy counter in front of him and breathed in the humid post-shower air around him. He looked up at the mirror, allowing himself to unfurrow his eyebrows and stare as neutrally at himself as he could. His hair was still a bit damp, but already it was spiking up as it usually does. He sighed quickly, breaking himself out of the trance he put himself in. He hated to admit it, but his therapist knows her shit. His heart rate was already lowered back to its normal pace, and he could feel the tension in his shoulders dissipate through the rest of his body.

THUNK

Aaaand that tension was back.

The steady beats from the hacky sack outside abruptly stopped, now replaced by Kirishima cursing under his breath and papers being swished on the floor. Bakugo quickly fluffed his hair with his hands and finished putting on his clothes, slamming the door open to find Kirishima squatting on the floor around a pile of loose math papers that were obviously knocked off his desk.

Kirishima started at the sound, falling ass-first on the floor as he scrambled to get up.

“Ah...whoops?” Kirishima gave him a sheepish smile, scrunching up his nose and looking up at him through his lashes. Bakugo could feel his heart about to give out. Oh fuck this. Fucking fuck shit fuck.

Bakugo rubbed his hands on his face to cover up the reason for the blush he could feel creeping up his neck. “Its fucking whatever”, he said, crossing his arms and giving an exaggerated eye roll. He saw his friend visibly relax, which caused himself to relax too. He couldn’t stand seeing Kirishima act like a beat up puppy.

“Thought you were supposed to be an athlete or somethin’” he added.

Kirishima jumped up, completely energized, slamming his fists together,

“Hell yeah I am!”

Bakugo rolled his eyes again, “That wasn’t supposed to be a compliment idiot”. He quickly fought the smile that was creeping up on his face when he looked at Kirishima doing his best Hercules poses with a goofy, sharp-pointed smile on his face. Fuck. Fuck ass shit fuck.

Soon, they got into their normal routine while Bakugo picked up his math notes that were scattered across the floor. Kirishima flopped onto his bed belly first and picked out his English work from the random pages that were just stuffed in his bag. Bakugo couldn’t help but cringe at his friend’s lack of organizational skills as he pulled out his binder and rolled his desk chair over to where Kirishima was.

They were supposed to spend the next hour going over present perfect before bed, but as usual, Kirishima managed to distract him about thirty minutes in. Soon they were both lounging on his bed, Bakugo laying on his back against his pillows and Kirishima face down next to him.

Suddenly Kirishima’s head popped up, “Let’s workout tomorrow morning!”

Bakugo glanced over at his friend next to him. The sun was setting in the window next to him, casting an orange glow around his figure and lighting his hair on fire. He so proudly wore his emotions on his face, clearly full of excitement at the prospect of doing such a mundane, routine thing.

“Fuck”

Kirishima cocked his head to one side, “Huh?”

Bakugo cleared his throat and abruptly turned back to look at his work. “We see each other every damn day idiot” He made an effort to give Kirishima his best neutral expression while internally willing his heart to stop beating like it was trying to get out of his chest.

“I know I know, you hate everyone and definitely didn’t enjoy beating our friends in Smash and losing to me in weight lifting” Kirishima held up his hands in a placating gesture, bowing his head slightly but raising his eyebrows and giving Bakugou a look that made his body feel like it was on fire.

“Fuck off Shitty Hair” He threw his pen at the red head, which obviously had no effect due to Kirishima’s hardening and his own predictability, but he laughed all the same.

“Soooo….that’s a yes?”

“You’re gonna eat my fucking dust tomorrow” Bakugo glanced over with a determined look that was meet with red eyes that radiated just the same determination his had.

The red glow from the dying sunset cast a pink glow on his friends face, and he couldn’t help but think it suited him.

Chapter Text

And the worst part is
Before it gets any better
We're headed for a cliff
And in the free fall I will realize
I'm better off when I hit the bottom

----

Huge dark eyes gleamed at Kirishima, his form exaggerated and loomed at least fifteen feet above him. Rappa’s open jaws resembled what he could only assume was an attempt at a grin as he lunged at Kirishima in slow-motion. His quirk activated on instinct, he felt the short twinge of pain as his skin toughened into his unbreakable state, reflecting Rappa’s teeth and eyes on his hardened arms.

He had to get out of here, he needed to dodge. He can’t take a hit like that straight on. To the left, quick before he reaches me…

But his muscles weren’t listening to his brain’s urgent signals to move. He was frozen, the only thing moving was his shaking arms and chest.

Rappa’s figure inched closer as Kirishima crossed his arms in front of him as an attempt to block the incoming blow. Am I going to die? Just like that?

Images of his friends vividly flashed in front of his vision. Mina standing up to a strange villain on the streets. Midoriya bravely fighting the Nomu at the training center. Bakugou fighting for his life against the League.

And him. Frozen. Crying. Terrified.

Rappa’s form tackled Kirishima to the ground, and he slipped through the floor and into a clearing in a forest that was burning blue. Shigaraki was now in front of him, his mouth splitting into a grotesque and bloody smile. He was holding Bakugou in the crook of his arm, slowly moving his fingers towards Bakugou’s head.

He could see Bakugou screaming, blasts from his hands leaving the villain unperturbed. Tears, blood, and dirt covered his face and body as his eyes searched Kirishima’s for help.

Shigaraki’s croaking voice called out, “Kirishima, you’re too late. You weren’t strong enough. Who are you kidding? Did you really think you could save him?” He chuckled, his hand only centimeters from the blonde.

“No...Please don’t..I-I…”, Kirishima stuttered out, his chest tightening in panic, the air leaving his lungs while simultaneously causing him to hyperventilate.

----

“STOP!” Kirishima screamed, bolting upright in his bed. His sheets were strewn off the bed, and his pillow was damp. He wiped his red locks out of his face, drenched with sweat. He groaned into his hands, taking deep breaths to calm his breathing. Another nightmare.

These happened after Kamino, but they’ve never been this intense. After Sir Nighteye died and the close call with Fat, and honestly, his own nearness to death, the nightmares came back full force. At least once a week, he would have nightmares like this that left him feeling paralyzed and sick to his stomach. He let out another shaky breath, clenching and unclenching his fists until he felt his hyperactive heart slow down to a somewhat normal pace.

Wiping his eyes dry, he glanced at his alarm clock. 5:23. He needed to get up to go with Bakugou for a run at 5:30 anyways. He groaned, flopping back on his bed and screwing his eyes shut. Five hours of sleep isn’t too bad, but it isn’t great either, especially with an entire day of class looming ahead of him.

It doesn’t matter, it was just a dream. He needed to be there for his friends, he shouldn’t keep getting caught up in this. Abruptly, Kirishima flung himself off his bed and did a few jumping jacks to distract his mind from the still fresh nightmare.

Now, awake and successfully distracted, he jogged over to his bathroom and plugged in his speakers to play some tunes while he took a short, ice cold shower to decompress from the poor night’s sleep. Nothing helped him more than singing (or really, screaming) loudly to Mr. Brightside as cool water pulsated on his tense muscles.

A loud bang on the wall caused Kirishima to startle for a second, quickly followed by a grumpy “FUCK OFF SHITTY HAIR”.

Kirishima chuckled to himself, done rinsing the sweat off his body and turned the shower off. “Sorry dude! Can’t help being this rockin’ in the morning!”

It may seem macabre to others, but his sense of humor and willingness to roll things off his back helped him feel like himself again in the midst of all his anxiety. He heard another grumble on the other side of the wall and assumed Bakugou had accepted his lame joke as an interruption he was willing to forgive.

He ran his towel over his hair, inspecting himself in the mirror of his bathroom. His roots were starting to get more obvious. And his lip was bitten, likely from his nightmare. There was no time for him to dry and style his hair, and really no point to either. Oh well. He quickly placed his hair in a low bun and changed into his jogging clothes.

Unfortunately for him, Bakugou insisted on going for a run today instead of weight lifting (which Kirishima was most definitely better than him, although he refused to believe it). Giving himself another once over in his mirror, he snatched his phone and headphones from his counter and headed next door to Bakugou’s.

Despite his bad start to today, there was no way he was going to let it ruin his day. Or his friends’ days. There was no point in unloading some childish bad dreams and needlessly worrying the class for no reason. Today was going to be fine, he’ll be over it by the end of the day for sure.

Resolutely, Kirishima nodded to himself and gave three loud knocks on his best friend’s door.

Chapter Text

Somewhere weakness is our strength, and I'll die searching for it
I can't let myself regret, such selfishness
My pain and all the trouble caused, no matter how long
I believe that there's hope

Immediately, Bakugou’s door flew wide open to reveal a disgruntled, red stare impassively giving Kirishima a quick once over. Kirishima squirmed slightly under his gaze, anxiety settling in the pit of his stomach. He was wearing a neon orange tank top with blue running shorts, both so brightly colored he was practically glowing in the dim hallway. Compared to Bakugou’s all black look, he felt especially insecure.

“You look like shit”, Bakugou stated matter-of-factly, snatching his earbuds from the hook on the other side of his door and stepping out into the hallway. Kirishima could still feel the other’s eyes boring into him as he nervously scratched the back of his neck.

“Ah haha...hey I know I look like a neon sign but this is way better than that time Kaminari wore head-to-toe Shrek merch during last week’s run.” Bakugou had taken one look at the sparking blonde, pulled the green sweatband off his head, and quickly burnt it to a crisp saying “Go be a fucking meme somewhere else”. Kaminari and Sero had even dug a small grave for the headband, which honestly only made Bakugou more infuriated. Kirishima chuckled softly at the memory, looking up to assess Bakugou’s reaction.

Despite his lighthearted comment, Bakugou’s glare deepened and they paused for a moment, the silence of the early morning in the dorm hallway quickly turning from relaxing to uncomfortable as the moment lingered.

Kirishima cleared his throat, “Sooo...you wanna head down?”

Bakugou only grunted as a response turning on his heel down to the elevator leaving Kirishima to jump out of his confused daze to catch up to his friend. They walked the short distance in silence and stepped into the elevator. As they boarded, he heard the blonde mutter something under his breath.

“Did you say something bro?” Kirishima gave him a quick smile, looking at how Bakugou’s tension caused his crossed arms to tighten and his shoulders crept up towards his ears.

Bakugou gave a short sigh, “That wasn’t what I was fucking talking about” he replied shortly.

“Oh…”, was all Kirishima could reply, his nervousness blooming into full on anxiety as the elevator arrived on the bottom floor.

Stepping out, Bakugou gave a growl, continuing to walk towards the outdoor track where they were planning to run. Quickening his pace, he caught up to Bakugou, “W-what were you talking about?”

His friend rolled his eyes, “Your face is pale, your eyes look bloodshot, hell, you look like you need more sleep than Aizawa.”

Kirishima felt his face flush from embarrassment. Sure he wasn’t getting a lot of sleep this past week from his...nightmares, but he didn’t think anyone would notice so soon. Well, no one has seen past his sunny exterior until now. Is Bakugou worried about me? That thought drove a swarm of butterflies through his stomach, causing him to feel lightheaded as they exited the main lobby.

“Yeah, sorry about that...it’s kind of embarrassing” Kirishima spluttered out.

“Just spit it out already, it’s not like it matters” Bakugou retorted. Kirishima probably would have laughed at the contradicting statements if the anxiety of letting someone else know his “secret” didn’t overcome him in the moment. He knew he had no reason to actually fear how Bakugou would respond but...something about the past couple weeks since his fight with Rappa put in a mindset that was almost paralleled that of his middle school days. Ah come on stupid brain! This needs to be a life led without regret, right?

He cleared his throat, “It’s just umm...I’m having nightmares...you’re right it totally doesn’t matter!”, he quickly added, “I’ve only had them a few nights this week and honestly they weren’t even that bad...well, I mean sometimes they’re pretty gruesome but...not nearly as bad as the real thing! The real thing was WAY worse. Er...not like I'm still worried about it or anything, at least I don't think I am..."

He stopped in his tracks as he saw blatant concern and confusion cross his friend’s face, light up differently with the light of dawn. Softer. It was a look that Kirishima was not used to seeing in his explosive friend’s face. He inhaled quickly as an attempt to quell the ever growing and seemingly limitless butterflies that fluttered through him.

“Nightmares..?” Bakugou questioned under his breath, “What kind o-”

“Kacchan!”

The high pitched voice caused both Bakugou and Kirishima to jump, spooked by the sudden interruption during such a peaceful, early morning.

“FUCKING SHIT. WHAT THE FUCK DEKU?” Bakugou yelled almost instinctively as his attention turned to Midoriya who held his hands in front of him as if he was trying to calm a wild animal and Todoroki a few feet behind him, stretching in place and acting as stoic as he normally does.

“Ah--so sorry Kacchan, Todoroki and I were getting ready for a run when I saw you two walking over here! Well, I saw Kirishima first, his hair and bright clothes were pretty hard to miss...which is an interesting choice actually, considering our profession-or future profession really...maybe having such brightly colored hair could be a useful tool in battle...then again villains can more easily spot--”

“Midoriya…”, Todoroki murmured, glancing up at their muttering friend before he got swallowed by the black hole that seemed to be his analytical nature.

“Ah haha, right!”, Midoriya sheepishly smiled and his face flushed honest to his likely embarrassment about going off the rails. Bakugou rolled his eyes and pushed past the green haired boy and started to warm up for their upcoming run.

“Oh hey!”, Midoriya faced Kirishima without skipping a beat. That was something Kirishima always appreciated about his classmate, he always faced his problems head-on with an admirable type of inner strength that he could only hope to imitate in his life someday. “You guys are going on a run too?”

“Hell yeah!”, Kirishima responded, bumping his fists together lightly, “We’re planning on jogging a mile but honestly it always turns into a race when it’s us.”

Todoroki’s calm voice chimed in, “We should all have a race then.”

“Great idea Todoroki-kun!”, Midoriya beamed at the ever-neutral hero-in-training.

“Eat shit fuckers. You’re all going down.” Kirishima could see the blond’s maniacal grin begin to grow. While most others would find the expression terrifying, Kirishima felt more comfortable seeing that determined glow shine on his face compared to the concerned one he witnessed just a few minutes ago. He was infinitely glad for this small distraction, the anxiety only a flickering glow instead of the raging fire from earlier.

As the four of them readied in their positions, Bakugou glanced at him, chin high and a sharp grin on his face. His aura exuded confidence. It was as if he’d already beat them all into the dust.

His red eyes glinted in the sunlight, “Don’t let your hair weigh you down, Kiri.”

Oh , and like hell he wasn’t going to have to fight for it.