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Bakugou’s blood pumped hard in his veins, skin tingling, palms burning, eyes wide with adrenaline—he felt like he could see everything, all the little details of his hero costume, of the paint on the walls. Even the air felt and smelled like more.

He was absolutely fuckin’ high on this win. He was a hero now. Sort of. Technically not yet, but he had a license. Sure, it was just a provisional license, but it was fuckin’ legit!

Out of nowhere, that Shiketsu girl, Utsushimi, stopped him in the hallway. Bakugou scowled at her. He fuckin’ hated it when she snuck up on him, that sneaky ass—

“Hey, Bakugou!” She grinned cheekily at him, flashing her new license. “Lemme see your picture!”

“Fuck off, I ain't stayin’ here another damn second!”

She laughed. “Aw, c’mon! You’re not gonna, like, miss us now that our training’s over? We made some pretty cool memories here, fam!”

Bakugou snorted and shoved passed her. “Nope. I’m gonna be the first one outta here with a license.”

“Yeah, that’s cool ‘n’ all, but, liiiiike, I think we should celebrate.”

He halted. He tried not to blush, but he could feel a telltale warmth creep up his neck. He knew what Utsushimi was referring to; it was something she had mentioned the week before.

---


“Heeeeeyyy, Bakugou,” Utsushimi drawled, plopping down next to him and leaning heavily into his space.

“What?” he barked. He’d been about to take a sip of his energy drink, but he thought better of it when Utsushimi jostled him.

“Soooo, like, I’ve been thinking.” She tossed her hair back and smiled coyly at him. “Would you wanna go out sometime after the exam?”

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “I thought fuckin’ Icy-Hot was your type.”

“Yeah, but he’s a lame and said he’s not interested.” She shrugged, evidently not hurt at all by the rejection.

“What the hell?” Bakugou’s hackles rose, and he sneered. “So I’m second place? Fuck that, who would be interested in that?!”

She waved a hand flippantly. “Oh, please, it’s not that deep. It’s not like I want a boyfriend.”

Now he was just confused. “Haah? Then why the fuck are you asking me out?”

She smiled and batted her eyelashes, tilting her head back to expose the slim V of her chest where her hero costume was open. Bakugou’s eyes flitted down to her cleavage before glaring at her face.

“I just want someone to make out with a little,” she whined coyly. She even pouted her glossy lips.

Bakugou, stifling a blush, pushed her away with his elbow. “Well, I’m not interested, either, so you’re shit outta luck. Go ask someone from your own fuckin’ school.”

They both glanced at Inasa, who was laughing boisterously next to Half-and-Half. Utsushimi shuddered. “No way. Like, I love ‘em, but they’re all kinda dumb, ya feel?”

Bakugou snorted, thinking of his own group of merry idiots. “Yeah, I guess. Still, why the fuck are you asking me?”

She shrugged. “‘Cause it’d be hot. Plus, unlike Shouto over there, you actually seem like you have some experience.”

Bakugou choked on his own tongue, and his face felt as though it had burst into flames. “Fuckin—what the FUCK are you talking about?!”

“Oh?” She blinked owlishly. “So you haven’t?”

“NOT WITH GIR—” He cut himself off, tucking his chin. Oh, shit. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit—

Utsushimi’s face brightened, and she leaned close to his face. “You mean you’ve kissed boys? Who? Friends? Anyone from UA?”

Bakugou stood up stiffly. He hated every second of this stupid fuckin’ conversation; he wanted to leave. “None of your goddamn business!!”

Utsushimi grabbed his arm. “No, wait! I like that!” She wrapped her arm around his and leaned her head on his shoulder. “Have you ever been curious about girls?”

Bakugou shook her off, but she latched onto his other arm. “I’m serious! Don’t knock it till you try it!” she sang.

That made him pause. He’d made a similar excuse about hooking up with Kirishima, right? Would he be a hypocrite if he didn’t give a girl who was clearly interested a chance?

Utsushimi seemed to think she’d won, for she let go of him. “We should, like, make it a celebration after we get our licenses. The girls’ locker room will be empty; we could probably fool around for a few minutes without getting caught.”

---

Even though Bakugou wasn’t interested—not really—he was curious as hell. Sorta like how he’d been curious with Kirishima. He’d said before that he wouldn’t know for sure what he was into unless he tried it. And while he couldn’t deny that he really liked what he did with Kirishima, he still had no idea how he felt about doing stuff with a girl. If he didn’t at least try it, how would anyone take him seriously? He would feel like a damn liar. A failure.

Bakugou eyed Utsushimi over his shoulder. She simpered at him, waiting, looking annoyingly pleased with herself. He turned to face her fully, and her smile widened. She took his hand and led him straight to the girls’ locker room.

She had him sit on one of the benches, and she straddled it beside him. He swung a leg over the side to straddle the bench as well, settling his hands on her hips. Her full lips curled up in a smile, and without any preamble, those lips pressed against his.

Right away, he was put off by the stickiness of her gloss—it made his skin itch, and it tasted the way lotion smelled. He pulled back and wiped his hand on his mouth.

“Your fuckin’ lipgloss is disgusting,” he said with a sneer.

“Oops!” She giggled, wiping her mouth as well. “Sorry.”

“Whatever,” he grumbled. He didn’t have time to say anything else, though, because Utsushimi kissed him again. He parted his lips a little as he kissed back; a second later, he felt her tongue on his lips, and he opened his mouth.

It was surprising, actually, how easy it was. He just did what he normally did with Kirishima, and Utsushimi for the most part followed his lead. Every now and then she would change the depth or the speed, and she did so smoothly and naturally. She clearly knew what she was doing.

The wet smack of their lips and the slide of their tongues echoed in the empty room, embarrassingly loud. But Utsushimi’s lips were soft, and her breath wasn’t bad; the sensation of her licking his tongue and mouth was just as spine-tingly and face-flushy as it was with Kirishima.

So it wasn’t bad. When he closed his eyes and didn’t think about who she was, it was pretty pleasant. He could even get a little into it. However, Utsushimi sometimes sighed or cooed quietly, and every time, Bakugou would become instantly, distractingly, aware of where he was and whom he was with. It made his gut twist and his mouth taste sour—this was wrong. He felt . . . guilty. He really, really didn’t want Icy-Hot to find out he was doing this. If he knew, there was a chance Kirishima could find out. And that thought made his heart pound uncomfortably in his chest. He hated it. He hated everything about this.

Long after it was over, after the take-down he and Half-and-Half accomplished on the way back to UA, Bakugou was still uncomfortable. The part he hated the most was that he wasn’t even fuckin’ sure why he’d disliked kissing Utsushimi—was it because of his thing with Kirishima? Was it because she was a girl? Or was he just not into her as an individual?

Just when he’d thought he was close to having his shit figured out, he was more confused than ever. Great. Fuckin’ perfect.

And, fuck, when he got back to the dorm, Kirishima was so fuckin’ nice to him. He treated Bakugou like a boyfriend, and that made his chest hurt even worse.

Bakugou had loved every second of Kirishima’s attention—all the heartfelt praise, the compliments, the dirty talk. The blowjob had been amazing, but, god, the things he’d said! Kirishima had even talked about fucking him, and Bakugou had moaned like a whore, too caught up in the moment to think about the implications.

What freaked him out the most was that he still wanted that. He could totally see Kirishima fucking him; he could see himself fucking Kirishima, too. He wanted all of that. He wanted Kirishima to keep telling him nice things, and he wanted Kirishima to smile and laugh and cuddle him at night. He liked talking, flirting, and touching. He liked Kirishima a lot.

So why the fuck had he kissed Utsushimi? He was an idiot.

All the guilt and confusing thoughts swirled in his head as he went with Kirishima to the baths.

“Bakugou? You okay?” Kirishima asked.

“Hm?” Bakugou paused in washing his hair to look at him.

Kirishima sat on a stool beside him, rubbing a soapy washcloth down his arm. His hair was pulled up in a ponytail, two black clips holding back his bangs—evidently not a washing day. His eyebrows were pinched, but when Bakugou made eye contact, he smiled. “You kinda looked like you were zoning out.”

“Guess so,” he muttered. “It’s been a long day.”

“I bet!” Kirishima nudged him, still smiling. “You did a lot.”

After they rinsed off, they sat together in one of the large soaking tubs. Kirishima was babbling about something; Bakugou felt bad for ignoring him, but Kirishima didn’t seem to mind. He just let Bakugou sit quietly with him and even rest his head on Kirishima’s shoulder.

“Hey, Kirishima,” he blurted. His heart was hammering. Fuck, oh fuck, he didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to fuck everything up.

“Yeah?”

Bakugou swallowed. He wanted to test the waters, anything to feel less fuckin’ guilty. “Would you do this kinda stuff with the others?”

“You mean . . . taking a bath?”

He clicked his tongue. “No, you idiot! The . . . other stuff.”

“Oh.” Kirishima’s face blushed, and his eyes darted to the water. “I dunno. I guess I never really thought about the guys . . . that way.”

Bakugou pursed his lips. He wasn’t stupid; he knew Kirishima was holding back the full truth. He wished Kirishima would just fuckin’ say it. If he would just say out loud that their feelings were real, maybe Bakugou wouldn’t be panicking now. If they had both been honest from the start, maybe he wouldn’t have kissed Utsushimi.

“What about you?” Kirishima’s voice was tight, his shoulder stiff. His eyes shifted to Bakugou, but now Bakugou couldn’t meet his gaze.

He glared darkly at the water and slipped his hands under his knees. “I’m not interested in any of those idiots.”

The water sloshed a little as Kirishima leaned in. Bakugou could feel his grin. “Just this idiot,” Kirishima affirmed.

Bakugou shrugged a shoulder. His heart was in his throat. He wanted to say more, he really fuckin’ did. He wanted to make this shit official with Kirishima, but . . . he just—

“Hey, Bakugou . . .” Kirishima spoke lowly, breathlessly.

—couldn’t.

“I wanna be with you. Like, for real.”

Bakugou squeezed his eyes shut. “I can’t.”

For a moment that seemed to stretch on for eternity, neither of them said anything. The only sound was the water swishing as Kirishima leaned back. Bakugou could feel Kirishima’s stare, his confusion and anguish, and all he could do was grit his teeth. His nails dug into the backs of his knees to keep his hands from trembling; his pounding heart threatened to break and erupt in a bloody mess from his mouth.

Kirishima inhaled loudly and slowly, letting the breath out through his mouth. Bakugou risked a glance: Kirishima’s head was tipped way back as he stared at the ceiling. His face was unreadable, but his eyes were red—Bakugou’s stomach dropped. Shit—god fucking damn it—he didn’t want to make Kirishima cry! How the hell was he supposed to comfort him in this scenario?!

“Okay,” Kirishima breathed. He rubbed his damp hands over his face and slowly lowered his chin. “Okay,” he spoke louder.

“Kirishima—”

“It’s okay.” When he looked at Bakugou, his eyes were clear, but his chin had those telltale wrinkles of barely suppressed emotion. The sight made Bakugou hesitate—he could tell Kirishima was putting on a stupid brave face, but what would calling his bluff do? Nothing good.

“I’m not crazy, right?” Kirishima asked, staring him right in the eyes. “I didn’t just imagine this stuff between us, did I?”

Bakugou swallowed, blood pounding in his temples, his nose burning. “No. You didn’t imagine it.”

“Okay.” Kirishima sighed and put his hands together, resting his chin on the tips of his thumbs. His eyes shifted back and forth, visibly sorting through his thoughts.

“I don’t think it’s the right time. For me,” Bakugou said. He had to explain himself somehow, had to give Kirishima an answer that he might understand. God, he wanted Kirishima to understand. “I just—there’s stuff I wanna figure out first.”

Kirishima’s eyes, now beginning to glass over, met Bakugou’s. “What stuff?”

“Just—about me.” Bakugou took a deep breath, fighting the urge to get defensive. Kirishima deserved better right now, and if he could, he really fuckin’ wanted to save their friendship. “I’m just confused about a lot of stuff.”

“About liking me?”

Bakugou lowered his head, shame burning his face. “That’s . . . part of it.”

Kirishima nodded. “Okay.”

Bakugou had to bite his tongue before he lashed out—he wished Kirishima had another word to say, literally anything fuckin’ else. But he was processing, and that was fine. It was fine. They were fine. They’d be fine.

“I get it, man,” Kirishima eventually continued. “You have to do what feels right, you know? I wouldn’t want you to force yourself with me. I just—”

Kirishima choked, and tears welled in his eyes again. Bakugou wanted to reach out; instead, he stabbed his nails deeper into his legs.

“Can we please stay friends?” Kirishima croaked as two heavy tears fell into the bath water.

And now Bakugou’s eyes stung, too. “Dumbass.”

Kirishima winced—ah, Bakugou had said it wrong. He finally released one of his hands and pushed Kirishima’s shoulder, getting him to make eye contact.

“Of course I still wanna be friends, stupid,” he said as resolutely as he could with a shaking chest and tears spilling down his cheeks. He brusquely wiped them away. “I wouldn’t be doing this with you right here if I didn’t—didn’t give a shit.”

For some reason, that made Kirishima laugh. It was out of place and unexpected, but a smile tugged at Bakugou’s lips, too. A tiny ball of relief opened in his chest. Kirishima sniffled and wiped his tears. “Okay,” he said again.

Now Bakugou laughed a little, still tearful. “Quit fuckin’ saying that, Shitty Hair.”

They both devolved into the saddest fuckin’ giggle fit Bakugou had ever been part of. But their knees and arms were touching, and things felt . . . not normal, but like they could be soon.

“Even as friends, I really love you, man,” Kirishima voiced, so fuckin’ sincere it threatened to make Bakugou cry again.

“Shut up,” he grumbled, shoving his shoulder against Kirishima’s.

Kirishima just laughed again.

Bakugou was gonna go bed early—well, earlier than usual. He was done with this day. When they went back upstairs to put away their old clothes and toiletries, Kirishima stopped outside their doors. He stood with an arm held open and a shrunken smile on his face.

“Good night, Bakugou.”

Right. They weren’t going to sleep together any more. Bakugou didn’t go for the half-hug Kirishima was aiming for; he stepped right into Kirishima’s space and wrapped his arms around his middle. Kirishima froze momentarily, but his raised hand soon landed, warm and gentle, on Bakugou’s back. It was a little awkward with their stuff balancing in either of their hands, but it felt good—necessary.

“Thanks, Kirishima,” Bakugou mumbled into his friend’s shoulder.

Kirishima’s arms tightened around him, and he swallowed loudly. “Of course.”

When Bakugou stepped away, he found Kirishima still trying to smile. Dumb, stupid, idiot, fool.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

Bakugou nodded. “Yeah.”

Kirishima opened his door, but before he went in, he wished Bakugou a good night once more. Bakugou stood in the hallway a moment longer, his whole body too heavy and numb to move. Eventually, he shook himself out of his stupor, and he went straight to bed.