Kirishima Eijirou is finally eighteen years old.
Being the youngest of his friends was never an issue until the day that Midoriya Izuku arrived at the Dragonshifter Village, bright-eyed and full of wonder. Kirishima remembers that day, because soon after he began to think not only of his coming-of-age ceremony, but about what would come next — for only when the priestesses of the village finally acknowledged him as an adult would he be allowed to formally court his chosen mate. Kirishima has been waiting for this moment for years, and now it's finally come.
He’s going to ask Midoriya to become his, and beg to belong to Midoriya in return.
He spends that winter making his gifts, and when spring finally blooms across the land, Kirishima begins his courting. Midoriya is busy gathering plants in the meadow when he approaches.
“Midoriya Izuku!” Kirishima shouts once he's standing before him.
Midoriya cocks his head to the side, looking slightly bemused but fond all the same. “Kirishima Eijirou,” he replies, and Kirishima’s heart beats faster at his playful tone.
He takes a deep breath to calm his nerves and presents a shimmering red bracelet to Midoriya. “My scales, to protect you from anything in your path,” he recites. Bakugou had yelled at him for bombarding him with questions about which scales were worthy of being included, but it’s worth it for the awestruck look on Midoriya’s face.
“K-Kirishima, are you sure?”
The initial refusal is traditional, though Midoriya hasn’t gotten the words exactly right. Kirishima knows his part, however, and he responds eagerly. “Now and for always.”
Midoriya takes the bracelet, as carefully as if it were made of glass, and slips it onto his wrist. Kirishima fights the urge to roar in triumph at the sight.
“Thank you, Kirishima,” Midoriya says, and his smile is breathtaking. “I’ll treasure it forever.”
He gives the second gift three days later, in the small herbalist’s shop that Midoriya runs with his mother.
“Midoriya Izuku,” Kirishima says. “My teeth, to destroy anything that stands in your way.” He holds out an intricately beaded leather cord knotted securely around his three best teeth. Kirishima knows that he has the sharpest teeth of anyone in the village, even in human form, and preens at the thought that Midoriya will have the best courting necklace of them all.
He falters a bit, however, when Midoriya hesitates.
“Kirishima, are you...you’ve already given me…” Midoriya gestures toward his bracelet; he looks confused, but why would he be? There’s no one else that Kirishima could want but him, and Kirishima isn’t the kind of person who would change his mind midway through a courting.
So Kirishima does what he does best: he squares his shoulders and barrels on with a blinding smile. “Now and for always,” he replies.
Their fingers brush when Midoriya takes the necklace, and Kirishima watches nervously as the green-haired boy trails his fingertips across knotted leather and smooth, sharp teeth. He can’t see Midoriya’s expression and tries not to panic. Finally, Midoriya places the gift around his neck, fumbling to secure the cord, and Kirishima can breathe again. Midoriya’s shirt has enough buttons undone at the top that the necklace lies directly on his tanned skin, and the contrast is stunning.
“Thank you, Kirishima. It’s beautiful,” Midoriya whispers. He looks overwhelmed, but Kirishima doesn’t judge him; being courted is a lot to take in.
“You deserve a lot more,” Kirishima replies, because it’s true.
Kirishima asks Midoriya to meet him by the river, just before it curves and disappears into the forest. Midoriya looks nervous when he arrives, which in turn makes Kirishima nervous – but this is the last day, the last gift. It won’t do to trip at the finish line.
He holds out his hands, cupped around a pair of curved, deep red earrings. “Midoriya Izuku. My claws, to defend—”
Kirishima’s mouth shuts so quickly that he almost bites his tongue.
“I can’t— I can’t accept any more gifts,” Midoriya says in a small voice, clutching at his shirt so hard that Kirishima thinks he might actually tear the cloth. Then the meaning of Midoriya’s words actually hits him, and Kirishima feels cold all over.
“Please, I— I really appreciate them and I’m so thankful, Kirishima. But I can’t— it’s too much. I couldn’t possibly—”
“It’s all right, Midoriya,” Kirishima interrupts. He attempts to smile, but he can feel his mouth wobbling. So unmanly. He should be able to hold it together; after all, Midoriya has every right to refuse him. “It’s okay, you don’t have to accept. I just…”
The world suddenly blurs and Kirishima realizes that he’s crying.
“I’m sorry,” he says. Kirishima concentrates on unfurling his wings, more concerned with a quick exit than the comfort of a full shift, and takes off; where he’s going, he isn’t sure. All he knows is it’s got to be far away from here.
Bakugou finds Kirishima curled up in a cave midway up the mountain five days later, and as usual the blond gets right to the point. “So this is where you’ve been hiding like a coward?” he asks loudly.
Kirishima flinches, but he can’t exactly deny it. “I’ll come back soon. I just need more time to—”
“It’s been five days, you idiot. How much more time do you need?!”
“You don’t understand!” Kirishima interjects. “I really thought… I thought that Midoriya felt the same. I got excited when he accepted my first two gifts and I expected that he would accept my courtship but he didn’t, and that’s fine! He’s allowed to change his mind! I just wanted—”
Bakugou growls harshly, cutting off Kirishima’s distressed ramble. “You idiot. I’m only gonna say this shit once, so listen up. Did you tell Deku that you wanted to court him?”
Kirishima’s brow furrows. “No, but what does that have to do with—”
“And you know that Deku is a human, right?”
“I’m not that dumb—”
“And you know that humans have different courting rituals, right?”
“I—” Kirishima stops, eyes widening as he realizes what Bakugou is implying. “Are you— are you saying that he didn’t know?!”
Bakugou mutters something that could be a curse or a prayer. “He showed up bawling his eyes out after you left, saying he’d hurt your feelings but didn’t know why. You’re lucky the old hag was there to explain courting rituals to him, because if I had to do it then I would have blasted you both into the sun.”
Kirishima is only barely listening. How could he be so stupid? Of course he shouldn’t have expected Midoriya to know— but if he didn’t know about the rituals, then…
“...then, does that mean he didn’t actually reject…?”
Bakugou rolls his eyes. “Ask him your damn self,” he says gruffly, then turns his head and shouts toward the mouth of the cave. “Oi, Deku! Get your ass in here.”
Kirishima scrambles to his feet as Midoriya creeps into view. “M-Midoriya,” Kirishima stammers. “I’m so, so sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed—”
Midoriya has a determined look on his face that belies his nervous energy, and it’s all Kirishima can do to remember how to breathe when Midoriya pulls something out of his satchel and offers it to him.
“To protect you from anything in your path,” Midoriya says. Three rows of carefully arranged seashells form the bracelet, and Kirishima recognizes them as Midoriya’s souvenirs from the time they travelled to see the Great Ocean. It fits perfectly, and he tries not to cry.
Midoriya places the second gift around Kirishima’s neck, hands trembling. “To destroy anything that stands in your way.” The necklace is decorated with sharp, jagged triangles of obsidian instead of teeth; Kirishima notices the thick bandages on Midoriya’s fingers and feels a sharp twinge in his chest.
Finally, Midoriya procures the last gift, cheeks red and eyes shiny with unshed tears; when he speaks, his voice breaks ever so slightly. “To defend all that you hold dear.”
Kirishima stares long and hard at the polished stones of Midoriya’s earrings, deep green and fashioned into an approximation of curved claws.
“Please,” Midoriya says quietly. “Do me the honor of being mine, and allow me the honor of being yours.”
He barely finishes before Kirishima wraps him in a tight hug, tears spilling freely from their eyes. Kirishima buries his face in the crook of Midoriya’s neck and Midoriya hiccups in surprise; then Kirishima feels small, warm hands come up to rest on his back.
It’s perfect, until Bakugou decides to remind them of his presence.
“Hurry up so we can go home, already,” he grumbles. Kirishima pulls away from Midoriya just enough for them to see each other’s faces, and he smiles.
“You are mine and I am yours. Now, and for always,” Kirishima recites quietly. Midoriya stands up on tiptoes when he leans down, and when their lips finally meet Kirishima is happier than he’s ever been.