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Freshly Ground Coffee

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Bakugou had been going to BeansPot Coffe for a long time. A hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in the middle of the city, the place was a wonderfully well-kept secret – at least in Bakugou’s opinion. 

For a shop with what he considered the best coffee around, there were usually relatively few customers, and for that, he was endlessly grateful. Bakugou supposed it probably had something to do with the lack of atmosphere – there were only three tables scattered around the plain room, and the lighting was honestly garbage. On top of that, the shop didn’t have a WiFi connection or outlets to charge devices, so it wasn’t an ideal workspace for students or businesspeople. There was nothing really aesthetic about it either: no latte art, no cutesy menus, not even any uniforms for the employees. Hell, they’d even spelled the English word ‘coffee’ wrong on their sign out front.

BeansPot Coffe was nothing fancy, simply a couple of baristas and, occasionally, the owner of the place, slapping aprons over their casual clothes to make some of the best damn coffee Bakugou had ever tasted. 

The baristas seemed friendly enough with the few other regulars, but luckily they had long since taken the hint that Bakugou didn’t want to chat. Even though he’d gone there almost every morning for two years (it was near his work, and Bakugou was a creature of habit, sue him), he had never had a conversation with any of them beyond his order. And that’s exactly how he liked it. Hardly any people, little interaction with the employees, poor lighting – all of it added up nicely to nobody realizing that the guy in the cap, allergy mask, and unassuming tortoise-shell glasses was actually pro-hero Ground Zero.

Coffee with a side of quiet, blissful anonymity had become his favorite way to start his work day. 

Which was exactly why he was instantly on guard when he walked in one morning to see a new face standing behind the counter. 

Well, actually, first he saw his hair.

Stop-sign red and styled up into spikes, it looked ridiculous against the cream-colored walls of the shop. Between that and the way-too-wide smile that stretched across his face, he was almost hard to look at directly. Too goddamn bright for this early in the morning.

Bakugou’s stomach dropped when his head turned at the sound of the bell ringing and that smile was suddenly directed at him.

Oh my god, please don’t try to have a conversation with me, for the love of fucking god , he thought, annoyed. Shitty Hair looked like a talker.

Bakugou grimaced as he stopped in front of the register.

“Hey man! What can I get for you? Have you ever been here before? I can make a recommendation if it’s your first time here!” Shitty Hair said excitedly, smile looking completely genuine and never faltering. 

Gross.

As he opened his mouth to tell the guy to fuck off and take his order, the door to the back swung open to reveal one of the usual baristas tying her apron behind her back. She had pink hair cut into a pixie and always wore a lot of eye make-up and flashy clothing.

Bakugou had no idea what her name was.

“That’s Takahashi-san. He wants a cappuccino and he doesn’t want to talk to you,” she said bluntly to the redhead. 

In that moment, Bakugou (or Takahashi, his coffee shop identity) decided he liked her.

As she busied herself making his drink, she continued. “He’s a regular. Just let him pay, Kiri.”

Shitty Hair – what kind of name was Kiri ? – turned back to the register at that. His 1000-Watt smile was already back in place.

“Okay Takahashi-san, that’ll be 300 yen,” he said cheerily. “A cappuccino’s such a manly drink, bro!” He added.

Bakugou paused as he reached for his wallet, eyes narrowing. What did that even mean ?

“Are you making fun of me, Shitty Hair?” He growled.

“What? No! I’m serious! I’m still training and I haven’t really gotten the hang of any espresso drinks yet… but I’ll get there!” The barista said, sounding determined as he hit his knuckles together. It looked painful. 

What a fucking weirdo.

“Also – Shitty Hair?!” He added belatedly.

Bakugou snorted as he handed over his payment. “You heard me.”

“Not cool, man! My hair looks awesome!” He said, patting his spikes defensively with one hand while accepting Bakugou’s money with the other.

Thankfully, Bakugou was saved from having to reply by Pinky placing a mug down on the counter in front of him. With a small nod at her, he took the cup and sat at the table furthest from the register, hoping to forget the entirety of his interaction with the redheaded barista.

Kiri.

Unfortunately, that was pretty fucking difficult when the guy was constantly talking and laughing with Pinky as she showed him how to make drinks. Or worse, chatting up the other customers who came in to grab their take-out coffees.

Bakugou finally finished his cappuccino – a perfectly normal fucking drink, thank you very much – and made his way to the exit, ready to get out of there.

“Bye Takahashi-san!” he heard Shitty Hair say. “See you next time!”

Bakugou bristled, and as he opened the door, he flipped the barista off over his shoulder. As the glass door swung shut, he caught the redhead’s astonished ‘Hey!’ before he turned in the direction of his work building and walked away.

What a fucking idiot.

* * *

The next morning found Bakugou walking determinedly up the street to BeansPot Coffe, just as he did every day. He had briefly considered skipping his morning coffee to avoid the chatty redhead from the day before, but he would be damned if he threw a wrench in his routine over a fucking extra. 

No fuckin’ way. 

He stopped in front of the door when he reached it, steeling himself for a single moment before roughly pushing it open. Just his luck, his eyes immediately landed on a red spiked monstrosity of a hairstyle. 

A second later, that ridiculous smile was widening in recognition.

“Hey Takahashi-san!” Kiri said brightly. “I’m guessing you’ll have a cappuccino again today, huh?”

Bakugou grunted, face heating slightly at the fact that the barista had already memorized his completely normal order. He shoved a few hundred-yen coins at Kiri and moved immediately to the side to wait, without grabbing his receipt. 

Kiri raised a brow.

“You can go have a seat, man!” He chirped. “I’ll bring your drink over when it’s done!”

Bakugou found himself wanting to protest, but he couldn’t really think of a valid reason.

“Whatever,” he grumbled, shuffling off to his usual table. He pulled out a paperback and started reading as he waited.

However, it was a little hard to focus when he could see Shitty Hair out of the corner of his eye, painstakingly preparing his drink step by slow step while Pinky watched over him, giving him tips and advice and making him laugh. Bakugou didn’t realize he was staring until Kiri bumped his and Pinky’s hips together playfully, and Bakugou blushed, feeling as if he’d intruded on a private moment. 

He then returned to his book, refusing to look up again even after he heard footsteps approaching.

A steaming mug on a saucer entered his peripheral vision as it was placed on the table in front of him.

“Here you go!” said the redhead cheerily. 

Bakugou grunted his acknowledgement and went back to reading. He didn’t realize Kiri hadn’t walked away until he was interrupted by a soft cough. He jumped slightly, then looked up with a brow raised in annoyance.

“What?”

Kiri grinned, unfazed. 

“That’s the first espresso drink I’ve served, mind telling me if it’s alright? If not I’ll have Mina make you another one.”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes.

“This better not fucking suck,” he grumbled, but Kiri only laughed.

“Just try it! Have some faith, man.”

Bakugou hoped his expression conveyed how little faith he had in Shitty Hair’s coffee making skills as he raised the mug to his lips. He took a tiny sip, testing the temperature. Once he deemed it drinkable, he took a longer gulp. His eyebrows raised infinitesimally.

It didn’t suck.

In fact, it might be better than Pinky’s.

Bakugou pretended to take some time to think his answer over before mumbling out, “‘S’fine.”

His lukewarm response absolutely did not warrant the bright ass smile that spread over the barista’s face.

“It’s good?!” He exclaimed, seemingly disbelieving.

Bakugou narrowed his eyes again.

“Think I’m a fuckin’ liar, Shitty Hair?” He snapped.

Then, guiltily, he added quietly, “Guess you’re a natural or some shit. Can’t tell you’re new.”

Kiri’s smile was absolutely fucking blinding now.

“Aww, thanks man! You’re gonna make me blush,” he said, and Bakugou averted his gaze, unsure what to say. 

He hoped Kiri would take the hint and leave, but it seemed he would have no such luck, because then he started talking again .

“Also,” he said, with a new teasing lilt to his voice. “I wasn’t calling you a liar! I just had to make sure you weren’t just tryin’ to flirt with me.”

Bakugou choked.

Kiri slapped his back as he coughed, barely managing to swallow his sip of coffee without spewing it. When he finally regained control of himself, he glared up at Shitty Hair through watery eyes. His eyes were wide.

“I was only joking dude!” he said quickly, raising his hands.

“Don’t you have a job to be doing?!” Bakugou hissed. 

Shitty Hair glanced at the register.

“Yeah, probably,” he said. “I’ll catch ya later! Didn’t mean to almost kill you, my bad dude!”

Bakugou glared at him again, cheeks darkening. Kiri shot him a grin.

“For real though, sorry if I embarrassed you! I swear I was only teasing!”

Bakugou ran a hand down the half of his face that wasn’t covered by his glasses.

“It’s fuckin’ fine, jeez.”

Kirishima opened his mouth again, but at that moment, the news channel playing on the small TV in the corner switched to a story about Ground Zero and the villain duo he’d taken on single-handedly a few nights ago. Bakugou pushed his glasses further up his nose and glanced up at Kiri, who had stopped mid-word to stare at the screen. 

For a split second Bakugou was worried the look he saw on his face was recognition, but it wasn’t quite that…. It was almost like....

His cheeks darkened further as he finally placed the emotion.

Adoration.

Bakugou coughed lightly to get Kiri’s attention, bordering on desperate now for him to return to the register before he spontaneously combusted.

“Oh, sorry!” He said, his own cheeks darkening now. “Got distracted. You could say I’m a bit of a Ground Zero fan,” he finished with a laugh.

Bakugou grunted a noncommittal, “he’s alright.”

“Nah, he’s amazing,” Kiri said, eyes sparkling now.

Bakugou slapped a hand to the table.

“Shitty Hair. Job. Now.” 

Kiri laughed.

“Enjoy your cappuccino, Takahashi-san!” He said lightly as he walked away like he hadn’t just  personally embarrassed Bakugou within an inch of his life. 

Bakugou downed his drink and bolted, trying and failing to tune out Shitty Hair talking to Pinky, saying shit like, “How hot does Ground Zero look in this footage, though, oh my god ?”

By the time he made it to the safety of his office, he was red all over, and he was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the heat of his drink

* * * 

The next day was his day off, but Bakugou went in for coffee anyway. He’d had a hell of a fight with some villains trying to rob a bank yesterday, and he was worse for the wear from it, sporting cuts and bruises and a shiner under his glasses.

He needed some fucking caffeine.

Kiri greeted him with a surprised smile and a, “Rough night, Takahashi-san?”

Bakugou grunted. “Something like that, yeah,” he said.

The redhead looked like he was about to ask Bakugou what happened, so he hurriedly deflected the attention from himself.

“You,” he blurted. It didn’t quite come out as a question, and Kiri raised a brow at him.

“Me?”

Bakugou grimaced.

“How was your Friday night, Shitty Hair,” he clarified.

Kiri looked surprised for a second, but he recovered quickly. He brought a hand up to his neck and gave him a sheepish smile.

“I went on one of those classically horrible first dates, to be honest,” Kiri said, and then it was Bakugou’s turn to raise his brows. “Guy just talked about himself the whole damn time, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. It was honestly a relief to get home to my cats at the end of the night.”

Bakugou made what he hoped was a passing slightly sympathetic face as he took in the information he’d just been handed. 

Shitty Hair was gay. 

And, he had cats.

Huh. That was mildly interesting, he supossed.

“Sounds shitty,” he mumbled as he paid for his drink.

Kiri laughed and turned to the espresso machine to start the order.

“Yeah, no second date coming out of that one, that’s for sure.”

Bakugou hummed and Kiri chuckled again.

“S’fine,” he said, pouring steamed milk into his drink. Then, he winked at Bakugou. “I’m already engaged, anyway.”

Bakugou’s brows nearly shot off his forehead.

“What the fuck?” He asked roughly. Was he one of those people who got off on making their partner jealous or some shit?

Kiri was laughing in earnest now as he set Bakugou’s mug down on the counter between them.

“Yeah, Ground Zero and I are definitely getting married. He just… doesn’t quite know it yet.”

Bakugou’s jaw dropped. He attempted for a few seconds to form a response, but ended up just sputtering. 

Kiri grinned mischievously and Bakugou rolled his eyes in defeat.

“Get back to work, Shitty Hair,” he mumbled as he took his mug and turned away.

“It’s Kirishima, just so you know,” he heard Kiri chime from behind the register. 

He didn’t respond, and Kirishima left him in peace while he drank his coffee. 

There was a small line forming when he left, feeling considerably better after his caffeine, but Kirishima still made sure to shout a quick “Have a good one, Takahashi-san!” at him as he walked out the door.

* * * 

The next morning brought with it the first chills of autumn, and Bakugou was bundled accordingly in a winter coat and a thick scarf. He could feel Kiri’s - Kirishima’s - teasing eyes on him as he removed his layers at the door, but he ignored him.

“I think a simple sweatshirt would’ve done the trick, man,” Kirishima said playfully as Bakugou finally approached the register.

“Shut up,” Bakugou snapped. “I fuckin’ hate the cold.”

Kirishima giggled, seeming unfazed by his attitude. Bakugou fished out 300 yen and tossed it across the counter to him.

“Hey, Takahashi-san...” Kiri started without picking up the money. “I’ve been working on my caramel latte all week, think I could convince you to try one of those today instead?”

Bakugou blinked at him.

“I always get a cappuccino,” he said flatly.

“I’m not hearing a no, though,” Kiri sing-songed. Then he spread his arms out dramatically, following the arc of a rainbow shape. “Come on, man, it’s a new season - time to branch out! Try new things! Make waves! And give your cute local barista your feedback on his latte skills!”

Bakugou raised an unimpressed brow, shaking his head as he huffed a chuckle. 

“Fine, what the fuck ever, give me your damned latte,” he groaned. Then, with a smirk, he added, “And let me know when you find this cute local barista, and I’ll give him my feedback.”

“Hey!” Kiri exclaimed, but Bakugou was already walking away to his table, laughing loudly.

He took out his paperback and read while he waited, not looking up until there was a mug in front of his face and the familiar scent of sweet caramel was filling his nose.

“Here ya go,” Kiri said cheerfully.

Bakugou blinked down at the mug, taking in the pattern carefully crafted on top of his latte in milk, caramel, and a bit of chocolate sauce.

It looked a lot like...

“Shitty Hair,” he said slowly. “Is this another weird Ground Zero thing?”

He narrowed his eyes up at Kirishima, who was positively beaming now.

“Yeah!” He said excitedly. “Looks just like the explosions on his merch, right?!”

Bakugou raised his brows, groaning. “You’re such a fuckin’ fanboy ” he accused.

Kiri gasped in mock offense. “I’m just practicing “ he defended himself. Then, he grinned. “Did you expect a heart design after breaking my poor little heart?”

Bakugou rolled his eyes and saved himself from having to reply by taking a sip. His brows raised automatically.

He usually wasn’t one for sweet drinks. But again, Kirishima surprised him. The drink wasn’t overly sugary, and if Bakugou had to exist during the chilly weather, the flavor wasn’t an awful match to the cold or the changing leaves outside.

“S’not bad Shitty Hair,” he mumbled. 

Kirishima clapped his hands together.

“From you, I think that means it’s great,” he said confidently.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Bakugou replied.

Kirishima ignored him, smirking. “Technically, since you gave me feedback, that means you’re admitting I’m your cute local barista, huh?”

Bakugou’s eyes widened. He barely restrained himself from crackling his palms at him.

“Don’t you have work to be doing?! Or more fanboy practice?” He hissed. 

Kirishima laughed. “Whatever Blasty, you cant deny it,” he chimed as he retreated behind the register.

Bakugou stared after him, dumbfounded

...Blasty?

Shaking his head, he returned to his book and read uninterrupted until it was time for his shift. 

On the way out, Kirishima said his now-usual goodbye to him. This time, Bakugou returned it with a small wave over his shoulder.

* * *

The next morning, Pinky was behind the register again.

“Morning, Takahashi-san,” she yawned as he approached the counter.

“Where’s Shitty Hair?” He asked in lieu of a greeting.

Pinky blinked at him for a second. “You mean Kiri?” She ventured, and he grunted an affirmation.

“It’s his day off,” she said slowly, head cocking slightly to the side as she looked him over. Bakugou wasn’t sure what her expression meant, but he knew he didn’t like it, whatever it was.

“Oh,” he said lamely. “Good.”

Pinky laughed, but seemed to decide to let it go. “That’ll be 300 yen for a cappuccino,” she said.

“Uh,” Bakugou responded, and Pinky’s brows raised. Ignoring the heat rising to his cheeks, he looked pointedly at a spot on her forehead and continued. “Give me a caramel latte instead.”

Pinky’s brows knit together for a second, and then her eyes widened infinitesimally. She was quick to tame her expression, but Bakugou could swear there was a hint of a smirk that remained. 

“A caramel latte, huh?”

“How much,” he spat, grinding teeth as she punched his order into the register. She chuckle and gave him a smile that looked far too innocent.

“320 yen, and I’ll bring it to your table. Thanks!”

Bakugou dropped his change unceremoniously onto the counter and stalked away.

When Pinky placed his drink in front of him five minutes later, unlike Kirishima, she didn’t say a word, simply setting it down and going back to her job.

Bakugou looked at the mug. No little explosions, no art at all. But that was fine, he told himself.

It’s not like that would affect the taste.

Except, it kind of did. 

At least, it seemed to.

Because as he drank his latte, he couldn’t help but think that it wasn’t quite as good as the one from yesterday.

Fine. Good. But not great.

And when he slipped out the door, there was no excited “Bye Takahashi-san!” waiting for him.

As he made his way to his office, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of lacking, like somehow his morning routine had been missing something, even though he’d repeated all the steps just like he did every day. He shook the feeling from his head and changed into his hero gear, readying himself for his patrol shift.

* * *

Fortunately, regardless of the cause of the odd mood Bakugou had found himself in at the beginning of his patrol, he’d quickly managed to shake it. He had dismissed the feeling as a fluke and gone about his day as normal, having a relatively productive shift, even if it did end with a mountain of paperwork before he was able to go home for the evening. 

By the time he was making his way to BeansPot again for his morning coffee the following day, he had completely forgotten that he’d ever felt off.

That was until, however, he pushed open the door to see Pinky behind the counter again , and disappointment and annoyance flooded through him.

Not that Pinky’s coffee was bad , he’d been drinking it for years now. 

It was just… Kirishima’s was better. More satisfying in some subtle way he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

Maybe it was the latte art.

He must’ve been scowling more than he realized, because Pinky’s expression told him she could sense his foul mood despite his face being half hidden by a sick mask.

“He has the weekend off,” she said with an apologetic shrug.

Bakugou ground his teeth. There was no way he was that predictable.

“Whatever.”

“So,” Pinky said, moving on. “Caramel latte today, or…?”

“Cappuccino,” he replied, thrusting 300 yen at her.

“Yep, I’ll bring it out to you.”

She took his money and he took his seat. 

He fished his paperback out of his bag, but by the time she brought over his drink, he’d done nothing but read the same sentence five times without absorbing any of it. With a sigh, he put his book away and began scrolling mindlessly on his phone as he sipped his coffee.

He was almost done, lifting the cup to his lips for his last sip, when the door burst open, jingling the bells tied above it so aggressively that Bakugou jumped and accidentally sent the rest of his drink flying.

Luckily none of it got on him, but he cursed under his breath as he quickly gathered napkins from the dispenser and mopped up his mess from the table. He was turning to glare at the offender when a familiar voice reached his ears.

“Hey Mina!”

Shitty Hair . Of fucking course.

Bakugou finished spinning around, and sure enough, there he was, standing on the customer side of the counter and grinning at his coworker like he didn’t just almost give Bakugou a heart attack.

Except, something was different about him.

Heat rose to Bakugou’s cheeks as he looked him over more closely.

On second thought, maybe a lot was different about him. Or at least, Bakugou could now see some... features... that he usually couldn’t when Kirishima was behind the counter, wearing an apron. And decent fucking clothing.

He and Pinky were chatting, but Bakugou wasn’t paying attention.

He was far too taken aback by the low ponytail that replaced his usual spikes, by the work out tank top and leggings that hugged his legs and chest and left almost nothing to the imagination, by the tattoo on the back of his - rather large - bicep.

Bakugou’s brain did, however, helpfully tune back in at the word ‘date’.

“Oh, yeah,” Kirishima was laughing, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly.

“I came back early. Turns out you need more than a tinder conversation and two dinner dates to know if you’ll survive a whole weekend of camping with someone.”

Bakugou bristled.

Why did this fucker date so damn much? The hell happened to ‘I’m so committed to Ground Zero’?

And did he seriously just say he went into the wilderness with practically a total stranger? Was he trying to die? And where the fuck were his sleeves? It was freezing out, by Bakugou’s standards.

As if he could sense the sudden cloud of negativity coming from the corner table, Kirishima finally turned in his direction.

“Oh! Hey Takahashi-san! How’s it goin’?” He asked in a cheerful tone, fixing him with that damned 1000-Watt smile.

Somehow it was even more blinding when paired with his loose bangs falling over his eyes as he cocked his head with the question.

Bakugou felt his palms heating.

“Fine,” he snapped. With that, he opened his book back up and pointedly ignored him, wiping his hands on his jeans.

There was a brief moment of silence and then Kirishima and Mina - fuck, Pinky - were talking again. Bakugou strained his ears, but they seemed to be purposefully talking too quietly for him to hear. 

He tried again, half-heartedly, to actually read his book, but he was even less able to focus now than before. A glance at his watch told him he still had half an hour before his shift started. Part of him wanted to bolt anyway just to get out of here, while another part of him just really fucking wanted to know why the fuck Kirishima was suddenly giggling at something Pinky said. He gripped the edges of his book harder.

He didn’t notice Kirishima walking up to him until the chair across from him was being pulled out and he was sitting down. Slowly, Bakugou lowered his book, but he didn’t shut it.

“Mind if I sit here?” Kirishima asked with a tentative grin.

“You already are,” Bakugou said bluntly.

Kirishima chuckled. “How has your weekend been so far?”

Bakugou reluctantly closed his book and sat it on the table. “I’ve got work all weekend.”

“Oh, really?” Kirishima asked. “What do you do?” He sounded genuinely curious.

Bakugou bit his lip for a second. “Doesn’t matter,” he mumbled eventually.

“Ah, okay,” Kirishima responded, sounding a bit put out at Bakugou’s short and closed off replies. “Uh, I’ll let you get back to it, th-“

“Did you seriously go camping with a stranger?” Bakugou blurted, cutting him off. He didn’t want Kirishima to leave, but he was having trouble thinking of anything else.

Kirishima looked surprised, but then he chuckled. “Yeah, I kinda did,” he said, shaking his head. “We’d had dinner together a couple times, but still. Recipe for disaster, right?”

“More like recipe for murder,” Bakugou scolded. “You should be more careful.”

Kirishima barked a loud laugh.

“Sorry Mom,” he teased. Bakugou rolled his eyes.

“Just trying to prevent Ground Zero from becoming an early widow.”

Kirishima threw his head back in laughter. Bakugou, meanwhile, was busy processing the words that just came out of his mouth as a blush crept up his neck. Thankfully, if Kirishima noticed, he didn’t say anything.

“I’m sure Ground Zero is doing his fair share of dating and having plenty of wild nights in the meantime as well,” Kirishima said, fixing him with that damned sunshine-smile again.

Bakugou snorted as he thought back to the last night off he’d had, which he’d spent in sweatpants on his couch. He’d watched a nature documentary, ate some take out food, and fell asleep before 10 PM.

And he couldn’t even recall the last time he’d been on a date.

“I fuckin’ doubt it,” Bakugou said. 

He glanced down at his watch, and saw it was about time for him to get going. Standing, he pulled his hoodie over his head. Underneath, he had on a long-sleeved tee shirt, and by the door hung his winter coat. Had he mentioned he hated the cold, yet?

“Here, dumbass,” he said, shoving the hoodie at Kirishima, whose brows raised so high Bakugou was a bit worried they’d shoot straight off his face. “You're gonna fuckin’ catch a cold running around half naked like that, and I don’t wanna listen to your sniffly ass all next week.”

“Uh,” Kirishima said, without moving, and Bakugou dropped the hoodie into his lap before he could change his mind.

Fighting a blush, Bakugou added a quick, “Don't get any ideas, I want that back tomorrow,” before practically running to the door, hastily pulling on his scarf and jacket, and bolting.

He barely caught Kirishima’s delayed response of, “Thank you, Blasty!”

Bakugou bit his lower lip and shook his head at the dumb nickname. Shoving his hands deep into his pockets, he walked to work at record speed. 

And he wasn’t fucking smiling, thank you very much.

* * *

“Good morning, Blasty!”

Bakugou rolled his eyes as he hung up his coat by the door. “Quit fuckin’ calling me that, Shitty Hair,” he said over his shoulder, removing his scarf.

Kirishima laughed. “Maybe if you quit calling me that . And learn Mina’s name, too.”

“Not fucking like-”

Bakugou cut himself off as he turned around and actually looked at Kirishima.

He was wearing Bakugou’s hoodie under his apron. 

Kirishima raised a brow at him. “You alright man?”

Bakugou felt the tips of his ears going pink. “I told you I wanted that back today,” he mumbled, pointing at Kirishima’s chest.

“Oh!” Kirishima said, looking down. “No problem, it was just a bit cold this morning. Let me take it off real quick, then I’ll get to your drink.”

Bakugou grunted as Kirishima removed his apron and started to pull off his hoodie.

Except, as he stretched it over his head, his shirt was going with it, exposing his stupidly toned Adonis’ belt and a trail of dark hair leading below the waistline of his jeans.

Bakugou felt his entire face flush.

“Holy shit, it’s fine , Shitty Hair!” He growled quickly.

“Hmm?” Kirishima hummed, still inside the sweatshirt.

“Put that shit back on and quit flashing your customers,” Bakugou hissed. “Just give it to me tomorrow!”

“Oh, okay!” Kirishima said, pulling the hoodie back down, along with his shirt. “Whatever you say, Blasty.” 

He replaced his apron and went back to the register.

“Want a caramel latte today?” He asked then, his grin just a tad too knowing.

Narrowing his eyes, Bakugou grunted again, threw 320 yen across the counter, and made his way to his seat, cheeks were still burning hot. He determinedly refused to look at Shitty Hair while he made his coffee, but he wasn’t quite as successful when he delivered it to his table.

He did manage to avoid eye contact, but when Kirishima sat down his drink, the sleeve of Bakugou’s oversized hoodie slipped down over his hand as he pulled it away. Bakugou’s eyes were immediately drawn to the way his fingers curled around the edge of the fabric, looking so small compared to the large fit.

He didn’t realize he was burning holes in the knee of his pants with his sparking palm until the smell of smoke reached his nose.

Luckily for him, Kirishima had already strolled away, humming a song under his breath like he’d done absolutely nothing wrong. Bakugou cursed under his breath and patted at his ruined pants. He sipped his coffee in silence, hardly tasting it as he willed his stupid fucking cheeks to get their shit together and calm the fuck down.

Chapter Text

Over the next several months, Bakugou settled into his new normal with Kirishima. His mornings were nowhere near as quiet and anonymous as they used to be, but he found he didn’t necessarily mind all that much.

Kirishima was getting better and better behind the counter. At some point he’d stopped asking what Bakugou wanted and instead started telling him what drink he was currently perfecting, which would thereby be Bakugou’s order of the day.

Bakugou was becoming much more well-versed in coffee than he had ever wanted to be.

He was also becoming well-versed in Kirishima. 

His unwillingness to disclose personal information about himself didn’t hinder Kirishima’s efforts to befriend him, so instead of asking questions, the redhead tended to fill Bakugou’s mysterious silences by talking about himself. He kept Bakugou well-informed on all things Kirishima, entertaining him with stories of his ridiculous customers, his laughable dating endeavors, his cats, his crush on Ground Zero, and seemingly anything else that happened to come to mind as he prepared Bakugou’s coffee.

In the midst of all that, Kirishima still somehow managed to find time to trick Bakugou into revealing information about himself as well. He had seemed to understand early on that Bakugou wouldn’t talk about anything too personal, so instead he kept it light. Before Bakugou had even realized what he was up to, Kirishima had learned his favorite color, what type of books he liked to read, that he was terribly uneducated about all things movies and TV, and he had even gotten him talking several times about mountain climbing.

Even now that Bakugou could tell he was slowly weaseling his way into his personal life, though, he was just as helpless to stop him. When Kirishima glanced over at him from the espresso machine with curious eyes and a question on his lips, it was like a switch flipped inside Bakugou, and he was answering before he even remembered he was supposed to be filtering himself.

And truthfully, he didn’t hate it. 

He’d be lying if he said he didn’t still feel that same rush of disappointment when he walked in on Kirishima’s days off to see Mina behind the counter. Or if he pretended he didn’t perk up when Kirishima would suddenly walk in while Bakugou was there on his days off to “pick up his paycheck.”

…or if he denied being a bit smug about the fact that “picking up his paycheck” was an act usually accompanied by Kirishima sitting down with him while he finished his coffee, for seemingly no reason other than to talk to him.

Bakugou wasn’t stupid. 

He knew what all this meant. 

And... it scared him a bit.

Not because he was afraid Kirishima didn’t reciprocate his… feelings , or whatever. Kirishima was pretty obvious; his flirting style was about as subtle as being hit over the head with a fucking frying pan.

But rather, he was apprehensive because he could count the number of crushes he’d had in his life on one hand, and still have plenty of fingers left over. He didn’t have much experience in this field, and he was pretty sure he didn’t want much, either.

Frankly, actually pursuing Kirishima seemed like a lot of effort. 

It would mean figuring out how to ask someone out on a date. It would mean figuring out what a date even was , for that matter. If things went well, it would eventually mean revealing his true identity and dealing with Kirishima’s fanboy reaction.

But more importantly, pursuing Kirishima would mean letting someone in, and that sounded… messy.

What if they hit it off?

He’d never shared his space before. What if Kirishima was a bed hog? Or a slob? What if he didn’t do his dishes immediately after eating?

He’d also never had to consider someone else when making decisions. What if Kirishima got weird about his work as a hero? What if Bakugou needed to move for his job at some point? Would they just break up? Would Kirishima move with him?

Fuck, what if their cats didn’t get along?

Dating seemed exhausting, and Bakugou honestly just wasn’t sure his feelings for Kirishima were strong enough to make all that worth his while. He was far more content to let their… whatever it was… continue developing slowly and naturally. If it was meant to be, it would happen, he supposed, but since it more than likely wasn’t, there wasn’t much need for him to do anything about it.

This way, if his feelings got too strong, he could simply pull back, no harm done. 

This way, Bakugou had all the control in the world.

Well, almost all of it.

He still hadn’t quite managed to get his damned hoodie back.

* * *

The first morning of December found Bakugou in his usual seat at BeansPot coffee - the one nearest to the heater - bundled in a thick sweater and reading another paperback novel. He was drinking some seasonal bullshit Kirishima had pushed on him, coffee laden with peppermint and just a bit of chocolate. He’d never tell him (seriously, he would go to his grave telling him it was way too much sugar), but it was just as amazing as everything else he made for him.

For once in the long, long time Bakugou had been coming to BeansPot, the place was actually decorated for the holidays. 

He had a sneaking suspicion he knew who was responsible for that development. And he’d somehow managed to make the austere room look fucking cozy. Bakugou was equal parts impressed at the achievement and nervous about the influx of customers it would almost certainly bring.

Bakugou had the day off, so he was in no particular rush, and he took the time between the short chapters of his book to watch Kirishima work. 

His hair was loose today, and his roots were starting to show. Bakugou couldn’t help but notice that he’d been wearing it down more often ever since he had complimented it one morning when Kirishima had apparently been running too late to style it.

Well. 

If you could call saying it looked less shitty a compliment.

Anyways.

He was wearing an older Ground Zero shirt, from one of the first lines Bakugou had released after going solo. It looked soft and worn, hugging his body loosely in the way that only well-loved shirts could. Bakugou’s lip quirked as he pictured it on a much younger Kirishima, wide-eyed and excited for his new purchase. It was probably a lot bigger on him back then, judging by the way it strained slightly over his biceps now as he worked the espresso machine.

Bakugou watched idly for a while. Kirishima was a natural behind the counter, flawless in the way he could make breezy conversation with customers while preparing the most complicated orders, never forgetting a thing. He’d grown a lot since that first day, when a cappuccino had presented too manly of a challenge for the doe-eyed barista.

Eventually, Kirishima caught him staring and flashed him a grin. If Bakugou didn’t know any better, he’d say it was just a tad softer than the one he used for everyone else.

Bakugou rolled his eyes, but couldn’t quite help the smile that stretched over his own face. Breaking eye contact, he went pointedly back to his novel so Kirishima couldn’t make fun of him. 

Content in the warmth of the coffee shop with the taste of chocolate and peppermint on his tongue, Bakugou continued to read for a while, until the sound of Kirishima’s soft laugh pulled him from his thoughts. Bakugou felt his lip tugging upward automatically as he glanced up from his book.

His eyes fell on Kirishima, standing at the register and talking to a customer. Bakugou’s smile faltered as he took in the man, built and blonde and leaning over the counter towards Kirishima, clearly flirting.

Then, his smile fell completely as his gaze shifted back to Kirishima and he registered his body language. He had an arm tucked around his middle, like he was trying to make himself look smaller, and his other hand was fucking twirling a lock of his hair .

You know, the hair that was only loose in the first place because Bakugou told him it looked nice.

Sort of.

Bakugou let his book fall closed without marking the page, eyes glued to the interaction in front of him. He watched Kirishima punch in the guy’s order and set about preparing his drink. He strained his ears, but he couldn’t quite make out what they were saying; he could only tell that they seemed to have eyes for no one but each other as Kirishima poured filter coffee into a to-go cup for him.

Placing a lid on the drink, Kirishima slid it gently across the counter to the blonde. His hand lingered much fucking longer than necessary as the guy took it from him. Luckily for Bakugou, the heater chose that moment to shut itself off, and suddenly he could hear their conversation. 

“Black coffee, huh?” Kirishima was saying in a voice Bakugou didn’t like one fucking bit. Then, he did the goddamn hair twirling thing again . “I can’t drink it like that! You’re so manly, dude!”

Oh.

Oh .

Yeah. Okay. Bakugou was going to kill him.

Despite the fact that being called manly was objectively a weird fucking compliment, the guy was straight up beaming now.

Bakugou hated him.

“Can I get you anything else before you go?” Kirishima asked, and the guy opened his mouth with a shy but determined look on his face.

Bakugou leaned forward in his seat to catch the guy’s response. Then, he nearly jumped the hell out of it and onto the floor when the heater kicked back on with a soft bang.

Both Kirishima and the customer turned briefly to look at him, and Bakugou went beat red as he yanked his paperback open again.

When he chanced a glance upward, the pair was focused on each other once more.

And as it turned out, Bakugou didn’t even need to know what the blonde had said to get the gist of what was happening as Kirishima scrawled his number hastily onto his cup.

Oh, yeah.

Bakugou was going to kill him, alright.

It didn’t take long after the guy left for Kirishima to come out from behind the counter, humming under his breath as he wiped off the tables. He seemed happy, and Bakugou hated the twisting feeling in his stomach, caused by the same smile that he’d found contagious only minutes ago. Bakugou resolutely pretended to be reading as Kirishima slowly worked his way towards his corner. In reality, he was simply glaring a hole in the same five words on the page.

Finally, Kirishima got to his table, reaching immediately for the remains of his peppermint latte.

“Hmm,” he hummed, looking down at the half-drunk coffee. “Not a peppermint fan?”

Bakugou felt his jaw tic, and he dropped his paperback, turning his glare on Kirishima.

“Just didn’t seem all that manly to me.”

Kirishima’s smile faltered and his brows knit together in confusion. Only a second later though, a look of realization washed over his features, and his grin was back in place.

“Aww, Blasty, are you upset that I called black coffee manlier than the kinda stuff you like?” He asked.

He placed a hand on Bakugou’s shoulder, giving it a light, comforting squeeze before continuing.

“Don’t worry bro, I think your drinks are plenty manly. I was just flirting!”

Bakugou blinked up at him.

Once, twice, and then a third time, as he tried to fully soak in the true extent of his idiocy.

Finally, with a heavy sigh, Bakugou took off his glasses to rub at the bridge of his nose, attempting to stave off the sudden headache he could feel coming on.

After a few seconds, he turned back to Kirishima.

“You really are as dense as a fucking brick, aren’t you?” He snapped.

Then, he grabbed his paperback roughly from the table and stood.

He pushed past Kirishima to make his way toward the door, throwing a growled, “I’ll fuckin’ see you tomorrow, Kirishima,” over his shoulder as he left.

* * *

Except, Bakugou didn’t see him the next day. He didn’t see him for several days, and he had the shitty Starbucks takeaway cups overflowing from his office waste bin to prove it.

The first day, he’d still been angry with Kirishima. He figured if Kirishima wanted to flirt with other guys in front of him, he didn’t really need Bakugou around for anything.

He’d then made the mistake of accidentally half-confiding in fucking Deku about it, giving him short, growled responses when questioned about why he’d been in such a shit mood at work, happier than usual to kick some villain ass while acting even shorter and snappier than his regular self on rescue-style missions.

Of course, it hadn’t taken Deku long to piece together his sentence fragments into a more or less accurate story. And he’d been less than impressed with Bakugou once he had.

“So, let me get this straight,” Deku had said, eyeing him over the brim of his own Starbucks cup. “There’s this guy, Kirishima-“

“Shitty Hair,” Bakugou interrupted.

“Kirishima,” Deku went on pointedly. “And you guys sometimes flirt when you go to the place he works .”

Bakugou gave a curt nod.

“Okay, I see... well, except, it’s you , so I’m going to take a wild guess and say the flirting is actually one-sided, and that you’ve given this guy practically nothing to go on, other than maybe not biting his head off like you do with everyone else.”

Deku paused, and Bakugou just glared at him. Eventually, he continued.

“Right... okay. And on top of that, he’s made no bones about the fact that he’s dating other people.”

“Yeah, but he’s no fucking good at it, always picks fuckin’ losers.”

Deku had just blinked at him, and Bakugou hadn’t loved having his ‘you really are this dense’ expression turned back on him. After some threatening remarks from Bakugou, Deku got on with it.

“So you’re jealous, because this time you not only had to watch it, but it seemed to be going well for him, and even though you’re too scared to act on any of your feelings-“

“I’m not fucking scared!” He lied.

“I wasn’t finished,” Midoriya said bluntly.

“Even though you’re pussyfooting around - don’t look at me that way, you know you are - you still want him all to yourself, without giving him anything in return.”

Bakugou blinked at him, face heating. 

When exactly had this fucker gotten the balls to talk to him this way? And more importantly, where the fuck did someone like him learn the word ‘pussyfoot’?

Feeling angry and called-out, Bakugou stood with a growl, crushing his empty cup and throwing it into his bin. Deku took the hint and followed, accepting his dismissal with grace.

Bakugou had slammed the door to his office shut behind him when he left, then sank onto his couch with a groan, wondering if Deku might have had a fucking point.

So, for the next few days, his absence from BeansPot was fueled by guilt, rather than anger. He took some time to mull things over, trying and failing to pinpoint the exact moment his feelings had spiraled out of his control.

In the end, he came to the conclusion that there just wasn’t a single moment.

He’d fallen for Kirishima slowly, one caramel latte at a time. 

Quietly, but forcefully, so that by the time he’d realized anything was happening at all, it was much too late to intervene.

Admittedly though, Deku was right about him not giving Kirishima much to go on. 

He’d never fucking done this before, okay. He had no fucking idea how to flirt , and he honestly couldn’t see himself trying.

What he could maybe feasibly see, though, was him manning the fuck up and asking Kirishima out, getting over his fears and finally making the first move. 

Oh, and he probably also owed Kirishima an... an apology... for, as Deku had so gently put it, ‘pitching a childish fit’.

So, he resolved to do just that, and he more than happily tossed his last Starbucks takeaway cup.

* * *

Bakugou pushed open the door to the coffee shop, grateful for the stark change in temperature as he stepped inside and closed it behind him. He stomped the first snow of the season from his boots while the bell above his head rang out, signaling his arrival.

With his nerves dancing in his gut, Bakugou looked up to the register. He knew Kirishima would be there; he’d long since learned his schedule by heart. Still though, the sight of him had his heart leaping into his throat with anxiety.

Kirishima was busy steaming milk at the espresso machine and hadn’t seen him yet. Bakugou took a selfish moment to drink in the sight he’d denied himself for the past week. Kirishima had his hair loose again, wearing it in a low ponytail, and it seemed that he still hadn’t found the time to tend to his black roots. 

With a sharp pang in his chest, Bakugou realized that his hoodie, which had become Kirishima’s regular work uniform as the weather progressively got colder, was nowhere in sight. The one he had on instead was noticeably too large on him, and Bakugou felt his chest heating a blotchy red as he remembered the blonde from before, and thought of the potential implications.

Bakugou shook his head to himself as he started towards the register.

“One thing at a time, idiot,” he mumbled to himself.

He watched Kirishima place a lid on the takeaway drink he’d just finished preparing and push it across the pick-up counter with a smile to its waiting recipient. The customer took it and thanked him, and Bakugou’s heart hammered against his ribcage as he bade her goodbye and turned back toward the register, toward Bakugou.

Kirishima eyes fell on him. For a second, he almost didn’t seem to register that it was Bakugou, but then they went wide, and Kirishima actually stopped in his tracks .

Shit.
Bakugou had hoped, rather selfishly, that his behavior had caused minimal damage, but the way the blood seemed to be rushing from Kirishima’s face suggested otherwise.

“Hi,” Bakugou ventured, voice cracking roughly around the word. He cleared his throat awkwardly as Kirishima jolted back to life and walked stiffly to the register.

Fuck fuck FUCK .

“Hi, T-Takahashi-san,” Kirishima responded.

Rather than making eye contact, he seemed to be looking at a point somewhere on Bakugou’s forehead.

Fuck.

“How are you?” Bakugou asked, at the same time that Kirishima said, “What can I get for you?”

Bakugou’s heart sank in his chest.

Surely he’d misheard that.

“Wh-what did you say?”

“Sorry,” Kirishima apologized, voice polite but devoid of its usual sweet humor. “I asked ‘what can I get for you?’”

Bakugou’s heart hit the floor of his stomach.

Kirishima hadn’t asked him that question in months.

“You mean you don’t want me to try something new you’re working on?” He asked quietly, sounding a little desperate as his gaze bored into Kirishima.

Finally, Kirishima met his eye, head tilting and brows contracting as a corner of his mouth lifted in a nonverbal apology.

“Not today.”

“Oh…,” Bakugou started, shock making him dumb. “Uh… I guess… I guess I’ll take a cappuccino, then.”

He had had an entire speech planned out. He was going to apologize, and if it didn’t feel too soon, he was going to ask him on a date. Now it seemed the only question exchanged between them that day would be his order, because Kirishima didn’t appear to want to talk to him at all.

He paid robotically, and he couldn’t help but notice that Kirishima seemed relieved to be done with their interaction as soon as he pushed his cappuccino over the counter at him a few minutes later.

Bakugou watched him helplessly as he drank his coffee in the corner, missing the sweetness of Kirishima’s usual concoctions. He was completely his usual smiling self with every other customer, and a few times Bakugou caught him smiling down at his phone.

A few times they made eye contact when Kirishima seemed to sense him staring, and even as he hastily lowered his gaze, Bakugou couldn’t help but notice the way that smile fell instantly.

Shit.

Shit shit shit .

* * *

After letting the initial shock of Kirishima’s anger sink in, Bakugou went back to BeansPot the next day. He was determined to try again, to properly apologize for his outburst and start mending their friendship. He’d hardly slept at all the night before, and the hurt look on Kirishima’s face from when their eyes met across the shop had floated in his mind’s eye until the early hours of the morning.

He knew he’d acted like an ass, thrown a childish tantrum. He’d expected Kirishima to be annoyed, maybe even a bit pissed at him, but he hadn’t been anticipating how hurt he seemed. Kirishima had always bounced right back from Bakugou’s insults and his short nature, but he’d looked at Bakugou like he’d kicked his puppy square in the face. On purpose. 

Bakugou reached the door to BeansPot and pushed it open, heaving a deep breath. He could see Kirishima’s hair through the glass window, and he caught his eye immediately upon stepping inside.

Rather than moving to take off his coat, he found himself glued to the spot, biting his lower lip and searching Kirishima’s face desperately for any sign of a reaction.

Unlike the day before, he didn’t seem shocked to see Bakugou. The blood didn’t drain from his face; rather, his cheeks turned rosy, and he averted his gaze for a second before he seemed to force himself to make eye contact. Maybe with different context, the body language would appear shy and demure, even flirtatious. But Bakugou could still see the hurt and discomfort marring his pretty features as he looked back to his face.

“Hi, Kirishima,” Bakugou said, doing his best to tame the tremor in his voice.

“Hi, Takahashi-san,” Kirishima responded politely, though there was a hint of resignation there. “Cappuccino?”

“Sure,” Bakugou replied quickly. “I don’t really care.”

“Uh, okay. That’ll be 300 y-“

“Kirishima, can we talk?” Bakugou interrupted. Then, through gritted teeth. “Please.”

Kirishima’s brows shot up as a deer-in-the-headlights expression came over his face.

“Uh - I-I guess. Why?”

Bakugou let out a breath and lowered his allergy mask so that Kirishima could see his mouth. Unconsciously digging his nails into the countertop with his other hand, he rushed out the words he’d practiced all night.

“I-I wanted to a-apologize,” he said quietly, jaw clenching shut automatically as soon as he was through. 

Bakugou couldn’t quite bring himself to look him in the eye while he was speaking, but after a few seconds of silence on Kirishima’s end, curiosity and nerves got the best of him. He looked up anxiously, and was met with a confused expression. He raised an eyebrow, which seemed to remind Kirishima he was supposed to be responding.

“For what?” He blurted, looking at Bakugou like he was absolutely mental.

Both Bakugou’s brows shot up at that.

Huh?

“What do you mean, ‘for what’?” Bakugou asked incredulously. “For-for getting mad at you! For calling you ‘dense’! Fuck, god, for storming out on you.”

Kirishima’s lips parted in clear surprise, for just a second, and then he was sucking the bottom one between his teeth as he thought.

And goddammit Kirishima, now was not the time to look so fucking adorable and unsure and fuck , Bakugou just wanted to fucking hug him or something, anything to restore his usual sunshine smile.

“That’s alright, Takahashi-san, it was no big deal to me,” Kirishima finally said.

Bakugou’s jaw dropped.

What?

“Seriously,” Kirishima continued, when it became clear Bakugou’s speech functions weren’t working. “I’m not like, mad or anything. You don’t need to apologize, but I appreciate it.”

“But- but,” Bakugou sputtered. “But then- why- what ?”

Kirishima turned even redder. He opened his mouth to respond, but at that exact moment, the bell above the door chimed, overly loud for the quiet of the early morning. Bakugou jumped backwards from his spot leaning over the counter, flinching as if he’d been caught in the act of some grave wrongdoing.

“Sorry, Takahashi-san,” Kirishima said, sounding relieved and already looking over his shoulder at the new arrival. He started to say something more, but Bakugou cut him off.

“Just Takahashi,” he spat. Glancing away, he added, “I don’t want honorifics from you.”

Kirishima looked back at him, brows drawn together. For a second, he searched Bakugou’s face without speaking.

Then, finally, “I don’t think that’s appropriate, Takahashi-san. Have a seat and I’ll get your drink out right after I help this next customer.”

Bakugou blinked stupidly. 

A full thirty seconds passed before he accepted his dismissal, stalking away numbly. 

When Kirishima brought out his cappuccino, Bakugou tried to stop him so they could finish talking. However, by the time he was setting the saucer down on the table, two more customers were in line, so he stammered out an apology to Bakugou and rushed off to get started on their orders.

Bakugou watched him as he drank his coffee without tasting it, feeling confused and defeated. Kirishima said he wasn’t mad at him, but he was clearly avoiding him, and Bakugou would be lying if he said his refusal to drop honorifics hadn’t stung pretty badly.

Bakugou had fought countless villains, taken part in bringing down some of the worst ones Japan had ever seen during his tenure as a hero. However, even after all that, he wasn’t sure he’d ever felt quite as helpless as he did then, without a clue why Kirishima was acting the way he was, and unable to get him to even speak to him long enough to start figuring it out.

Just as the shop died down for a minute and Bakugou was contemplating going back to the counter to try again, the door chimed once more and a smiling blonde man about his age entered.

With a sinking sensation, Bakugou recognized him as the man who Kirishima had given his number.

As the start of this entire fucking mess.

His hands fisted under the table as he greeted Kirishima by name, and Kirishima returned it with a warm smile.

What the actual fuck.

“Ready?” The blonde asked cheerfully.

No. No. Absolutely not.

“Yeah!” Kirishima exclaimed. “Let me get Mina and grab my coat!”

Bakugou’s heart sank straight into the pit of his stomach as he watched Kirishima disappear through the back door.

This cannot be fucking happening , he thought, somehow feeling half-numb and half-desparate.

Kirishima reappeared with Mina and without his apron, pulling a jacket over that goddamn oversized mystery hoodie of his.

No no no no no no. No. Fucking no .

Kirishima and the blonde shared a hug, and Bakugou watched in a trance as the pair walked out the door.

The bell jingled loud and cheery overhead. Kirishima didn’t look back.

Bakugou didn’t realize his mouth was open until Mina was suddenly there, gently pushing it closed while collecting his empty mug. He jumped lightly, head whipping around to meet her gaze.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I’ve tried to talk some sense into him, but he won’t listen to me.”

Bakugou wanted to ask her to elaborate, but he was too shocked by the sudden sensation of tears stinging his eyes.

“It’s fucking whatever,” he spat gruffly.

However, the way he abruptly stood and shoved past her, not looking back until he was halfway down the street towards his office, probably made it pretty damn clear that it absolutely was not whatever.

Somewhere along the way, he chuckled, slightly hysterical, as he wondered how the hell he’d ever convinced himself he could just easily ‘pull back’ from Kirishima if his feelings became too strong.

“Fuck,” he mumbled under his breath, lip trembling.

Chapter Text

Bakugou sighed heavily from his place at the corner table, chin slipping slightly on the hand holding up the weight of his head. Straightening himself up, he took another sip of lukewarm coffee and cursed when he accidentally sloshed a bit onto the worn pages of his paperback book.

He’d been back at BeansPot every morning for a week, but had had no luck getting Kirishima to talk to him. He’d outright asked a few more times, but something always seemed to interrupt them; the chime of the bell over the door, signaling new customers; the old landline phone blaring from its holster on the wall; or, Bakugou’s least favorite, that fucking blonde guy waltzing up to the counter like he owned the place, smiling brightly at Kirishima all the while.

Bakugou’s scowl deepened as his thoughts drifted to the pair. Kirishima had talked about casual dating for as long as he’d worked at BeansPot, but never had any of the guys he’d been seeing come to pick him up from the shop when his shifts ended.

He hoped against hope that was simply because they’d met here, and not a reflection of their relative seriousness.

Maybe it was selfish, because Kirishima probably deserved someone like him. Someone who smiled more than Bakugou, someone who would make him smile in return.

All Bakugou had done thus far was make a jealous ass out of himself and expect Kirishima to psychically understand the ins and outs of his feelings in exchange for an old hoodie.

Bakugou groaned lightly, downing the rest of his cappuccino.

In truth, he might have given up and stopped coming by now, accepting his defeat with the little dignity he felt he had left, if it weren’t for one last ray of hope.

Mina. 

He’d yet to see her again since he ran out on her the other day (when he definitely hadn’t started crying, thank you very much). 

Despite his haste to leave then, her words had been replaying in his head ever since, driving him insane any time he’d had even a second to think.

’I’ve tried to talk some sense into him, but he won’t listen to me.’

What did that mean ?

Did Mina not like the other guy either?

Did she perhaps know something about him that Bakugou didn’t?

What if he were a liar? A cheater? An asshole? 

What if Kirishima was setting himself up to get hurt?

Or, maybe, she simply thought he and Bakugou fit better together.

That was a possibility, right?

Sure, Kirishima was definitely a flirt, but before everything had gone south, Bakugou would’ve sworn he was just a bit softer with him. 

A bit softer, and a lot more himself than he ever seemed to be with other guys.

But then again, what did Bakugou know about dating?

Clearly not a lot.

Maybe Mina was just trying to convince Kirishima to talk to him and let him down so he’d quit showing up and bringing down the mood of the whole shop by brooding in the corner.

Now that he thought about it, that last one seemed like a more realistic possibility than he’d like to admit.

Maybe Mina was less of a last ray of hope and more of a means to be put out of his misery.

Bakugou muttered a curse as he felt tears stinging his eyes yet again. He blinked them away quickly, grateful for the distraction when the bell over the door chimed.

His thanksgiving lasted all of one second, however, until an all-too-familiar head of blonde hair walked through the door. Bakugou rolled his eyes, then narrowed them at the newcomer.

“Hey Kirishima!” He said in a sing-song voice.

Kirishima’s head whipped around from where he was wiping down the espresso machine, his face splitting into a grin.

“Hey! How’s it goin’?” He asked.

Then, he glanced toward Bakugou.

Bakugou’s heart skipped a beat.

“I didn’t even realize how late it had gotten!” Kirishima remarked. “Gimme just a sec.”

Oh.

He had only been looking at the clock on the wall behind Bakugou.

Of course.

How fucking silly of him to think he’d be looking him, when he’d been avoiding eye contact for a week now.

Bakugou watched, stomach twisting as Kirishima went into the employee area in the back, just as he’d done the other day. Once he disappeared, Bakugou turned his gaze back to the mystery blonde. The fucker was smiling even as he stood there awkwardly waiting for Kirishima.

Bakugou wondered if he was just naturally that happy, or if, perhaps, dating Kirishima Eijirou would be enough to make anybody smile like an idiot.

Although, he thought to himself, he probably already knew the answer to that question.

Kirishima returned from the back room then, apron gone and carrying a gym bag over his shoulder. A guy with wire-rimmed glasses and a neatly styled haircut, who Bakugou knew to be the owner of the place, followed closely behind him, pulling his own apron on over his shirt. Bakugou wondered if Mina was on vacation or something.

God, he hoped she hadn’t fucking quit or something. 

Now was not the time for her to abandon him.

He didn't know if it was for help or closure or what , but he knew he fucking needed to talk to her.

Bakugou watched Kirishima and his date embrace each other in a hug, just as they had the other day. They were both wearing workout gear, and if Bakugou weren’t in such a bad mood, the sight would’ve made him laugh. 

Kirishima Eijirou would be the guy who went on fucking gym dates.

How had Bakugou fallen in love with such a fucking idiot?

Bakugou’s chest loosened a tiny bit as the pair broke apart and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

Reluctantly, he looked back down at his book and gave a half-hearted attempt at reading. He didn’t expect to have much success, but he also didn’t want Kirishima to catch him blatantly staring and add ‘he’s a fucking creep’ to his mystery list of reasons he wasn’t talking to Bakugou.

Likely only because he couldn’t hear Kirishima and the blonde over the sound of the owner grinding coffee beans, Bakugou actually managed to make it through a few paragraphs. 

In his novel, all hell was breaking loose and yet the two main characters, a brooding fire-wizard on the run from the law, and his partner, a bright-eyed dragon shifter, were having a petty argument over practically nothing. Usually, Bakugou hated romantic side-plots, but today, he couldn’t help but shake his head at the fictional duo, wanting to scream at the wizard to stop being a fucking idiot before he ruined everything. 

He huffed a humorless chuckle and glanced up at Kirishima. 

Maybe he was projecting, or maybe he was just a romantic fucking sap lately, but he couldn’t help but see a bit of the two of them in the two morons in his book.

Kirishima and the blonde were talking to the owner, and only then did Bakugou realize the grinding had stopped, and he could hear them again. They were all laughing about something.

Despite himself, Bakugou’s heart swooped at the sight of Kirishima’s pretty smile as he tucked a loose strand of hair behind his ear.

God, he was in too deep.

“It’s wonderful that you two’ve been working out together,” the manager was commenting.

Bakugou’s traitorous brain hopefully supplied that perhaps they were just work out buddies. As if that would fix this fucking train wreck.

He still won’t fucking talk to me , Bakugou shot back at himself, then blinked.

...he was pretty sure he was fucking losing it.

And in any case, it wasn’t hard to imagine them as something more, with the way Kirishima squeezed the blonde’s shoulder affectionately as he replied that, “Yeah! It’s so nice to finally have a proper spotter! Plus, he’s so supportive!”

The blonde grinned.

“Speaking of that!” He started, leaning behind Kirishima to appraise his backside. Bakugou’s eyes widened. “I think those squats have been paying off!”

Bakugou mashed his teeth together violently as Kirishima beamed and spun his top half around, trying to look down at his butt in the stupid fucking leggings he was wearing.

“Shut up bro!” He said, clearly pleased. “It’s way too soon to tell!”

“Nah!” the blonde said with a smile. “You look great, Kiri!”

And as if that weren’t fucking enough, the prick lifted a hand and smacked him square on the ass, and Kirishima dissolved into giggles like it was perfectly okay.

...

Bakugou felt his hands heating. 

He was going to be fucking sick.

Like for real.

Like now .

He scrambled out of his chair as fast as he could, leaving his book and phone and everything else on the table as he turned to rush for the bathroom. However, he barely made it two steps before a loud crash, just behind him, nearly scared him out of his skin.

He jerked back around. With horror, he realized he’d knocked his fucking mug to the ground in his haste to get the fuck out of there, and it had shattered to pieces.

“Fuck,” he cursed, face flushing red.

Well. At least his nausea was suddenly gone.

Luckily, there were no other customers in the mid-morning lull, but he could feel the eyes of Kirishima and the other two practically boring holes into him as he sank to his knees and started picking up the pieces.

He’d barely gotten started when Kirishima yelled out, “Hey, Takahashi, oh my god, you don’t have to do that!”

And maybe it was because it was the first time in fucking weeks that Kirishima sounded almost like he was actually just fucking talking to him, awkwardness forgotten, but the sound of his voice made Bakugou’s whole body jerk as his heart jumped into his throat.

He looked up and met Kirishima’s concerned eyes with his own wide ones, and distracted as he was, he didn’t notice a lick of pain until Kirishima came close and said, “Oh shit, you’re bleeding, dude.”

Slowly registering his words, Bakugou turned his gaze down to his hand and belatedly felt the sharp sting of a cut as he took in the blood staining the pale skin of his palm and the porcelain shard clasped in it. 

He blinked stupidly. Kirishima fell to his knees beside him.

“Hey, it’s okay, it’s not too bad,” he said softly, and only then did Bakugou realize there were tears stinging his eyes yet again. 

How fucking dumb. It didn’t even hurt that badly.

“Now, you give me that,” Kirishima continued, gingerly wrapping a hand around Bakugou’s and coaxing his fingers open to take the fragment from him. He placed it carefully on the table and moved his hand to Bakugou’s wrist, giving it a light squeeze. “And let’s go get you patched up, yeah?”

Bakugou looked up to meet his gaze. He felt vulnerable, and raw, like somehow the emotional toll of the past few weeks was only just making itself known as Kirishima held him gently. 

He didn’t know what to say. All he could do was nod like an idiot.

Kirishima smiled in response. It was soft and proud, and Bakugou felt like a child crying about scraping his knee on the playground, but somehow, impossibly, he didn’t sense any pity or mockery from Kirishima.

He let himself be pulled to his feet when Kirishima’s free hand found his uninjured one.

Kirishima didn’t let go of him as he led him behind the counter and through the back door to the small employees only area, asking the owner to sweep up the broken mug along the way. 

Bakugou couldn’t help but notice that he barely looked at the blonde guy.

Kirishima pulled him over to a sink, turning with the taps with one hand while he adjusted the water to a temperature he deemed acceptable. He cradled Bakugou’s cut hand gingerly the whole time.

Back here, away from the music and the espresso machine and other people, everything was quieter. He could hear Kirishima’s breathing over the soft sound of the water hitting the basin of the sink.

Or, maybe, he could simply feel it through their point of contact.

He wasn’t sure, but he liked it. 

It was comforting, and despite everything that had just happened, he felt himself calming down quickly.

Kirishima ran his palm under warm water, washing it carefully with gentle soap before finishing up with disinfectant pulled from a first aid kit hanging by the door. He pressed gauze to the wound and carefully wrapped a bandage around it, and Bakugou thought it was definitely overkill, but like hell was he going to stop him when this was the most Kirishima had interacted with him in weeks. 

He’d let him bandage his entire fucking body if it kept him here.

“How’s that feel?” Kirishima asked softly, looking up at him through long lashes.

He’d tied off the bandage, but he was still holding Bakugou’s hand in his own. Bakugou made no attempt to pull away.

“Perfect,” he replied, quiet voice sounding loud in the small space. “Thank you.”

“Of course,” Kirishima said sweetly, but Bakugou could see hints of that same conflicted look slowly returning to his eyes. He dropped Bakugou’s hand, movements gentle so as not to hurt him. “Guess we should go back out now, huh?”

He sounded hesitant, and it made Bakugou a little bolder. 

Ignoring the sting from his wrapped palm, he reached out and took Kirishima’s hand again, lacing their fingers together carefully before meeting his gaze.

“Kirishima,” he started, his voice pleading, yet softer than he would’ve thought himself capable of. “Please talk to me. Let me fix this.”

Kirishima’s eyes widened, and his cheeks flushed bright as he averted his eyes. 

A second later, though, he huffed a laugh like he couldn’t help himself and shook his head before looking back at him.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say a full sentence without swearing before,” he whispered.

Bakugou blinked for a moment before letting out a soft chuckle of his own. 

Maybe he was imagining it, but Kirishima’s statement seemed to hold so much more meaning than the literal words themselves conveyed. He was looking up at Bakugou with conflicted eyes, wide and honest and still as awful as ever at hiding anything. 

There was hope there, that much was clear, but there was also disbelief and doubt and a million other little fears, all doing their part to chip away at it.

“I’m trying,” Bakugou murmured back, and he wasn’t sure why they were being quiet, but it seemed important. “So hard.”

The hope in Kirishima’s eyes flared, momentarily trampling down the distrust, and his fingers tightened around Bakugou’s. 

He opened his mouth, and Bakugou wasn’t sure if it was to speak or… or something else, because he seemed to be getting closer, but god, Bakugou was out of practice and it was fucking hard to tell and everything felt too fast and too slow, all at the same time, and -

The bell over the door out front chimed, and they jerked apart. Bakugou cursed softly. 

Only as the sound of people moving started up once again did Bakugou notice how silent the whole shop had gone; the muffled music had paused at some point, as had the voices of the owner and Kirishima’s… Kirishima’s friend.

Kirishima squeezed his hand and dropped it gently then, and Bakugou’s eyes whipped back to his face, looking at him with something akin to desperation.

“I have to go now, but…,” he said, and Bakugou felt his heart sink down onto the floor of his stomach. “I-I’ll think about it.” His gaze shot up to meet Bakugou’s and he stared at him with a quiet determination. “Just… if you’re doing this because you feel bad, or think you owe me something… please don’t.”

Bakugou opened his mouth to protest, to tell him that he did feel bad, and that he did owe him something - an apology because Bakugou had acted like a fucking prat - but at that moment the door opened and the stupid blonde guy stumbled in with wide eyes because apparently even Ground Zero himself could never catch a fucking break.

“Kirishima, everything alright back here?” He asked pointedly. Then, as if recognizing he was being rude, he turned to Bakugou and hastily added, “You alright, dude?” 

Bakugou grunted, eyes narrowing.

“We’re good,” Kirishima said, smiling softly at the blonde. “He’s all bandaged up, and I’m ready to go.”

Kirishima turned his smile back to Bakugou, and god, he wanted to bottle it up and keep it forever. 

“Bye, Takahashi,” he murmured, and with that, he made his way out the door. The blonde followed close behind, shooting an awkward grin to Bakugou that he made no effort to return.

He was left standing in the dingy back room of a shop where he didn’t work, his heart full of feelings for a guy he didn’t know if he was even allowed to like at all.

Bakugou walked robotically back out to the front, avoiding the owner’s eyes as he made his way to his table and collected his things. 

All traces of the shattered mug were long gone.

* * *

He was half-way to his office by the time he finally realized Kirishima had called him “Takahashi” instead of “Takahashi-san”, and despite being just as confused as he’d been before, he couldn’t help the way it made his cheeks tinge pink or his lips pull into a grin.

Maybe there was a bit of hope, after all.

* * *

Even though he technically had a hand injury and had spent his entire morning lurking at BeansPot, Bakugou still managed to have the most productive day he’d had in weeks. 

Officially, he had the day off, but he ended up going into work anyway. He honestly wasn’t sure if it was out of habit or because, as of late, he’d been feeling increasingly aware of just how alone he was when he went home, but either way, he completed the entire stack of paperwork waiting for him on his desk. He also managed to make a few phone calls he’d been putting off for days now, and even changed out the water filter in the communal kitchen at his agency. 

The pair of interns studying under him had almost pissed themselves scrambling to take over when they saw Ground fucking Zero taking care of kitchen maintenance, and he’d been in such a good mood that he’d simply laughed and dismissed them. 

He was pretty sure that had scared them even more.

It was irrational, he knew, to be so happy. Kirishima hadn’t even fully agreed to talk to him, and he still had no earthly fucking idea what was going through his head. 

But fuck , it was truly hard to be quite so sad and anxious when he thought about the way Kirishima had cradled his hand like he was a secret treasure, or the way he’d murmured his name (albiet, his fake one) without hestitation or honorifics when he’d said goodbye to him. He was both desperate to get back to the coffee shop and, for once in his life, content to be patient. 

After he ran out of work to do around the agency, Bakugou made his way home and cleaned his house. From his living room to his bedroom, the task took just over an hour. Despite his success, he and his cat lived well-within their means; he’d tried upgrading to a larger place after he started climbing the hero rankings, but he’d found it a bit lonely.  

Not that he’d been lonely.

It was just too much house for one person and his cat.

Or at least, that was what he’d told himself.

Now, though, he was a bit unsure. He didn’t think the space would’ve bothered him as much if he’d had a certain barista and a bunch of fancy coffee machinery to fill it with.

Bakugou’s stomach rumbled then, and he shook his head to clear his thoughts, belatedly realizing he’d forgotten to eat lunch.

Oops.

He opened his fridge and frowned at the contents. Or, rather, the lack thereof. Closing the door with a guilty conscious, he supposed he’d potentially been slacking on eating for more than just today’s skipped lunch. With a sigh, he grabbed his reusable bags and headed out the door.

* * *

Bakugou scanned the list he’d put together on his phone and checked the items in his basket. 

Eggs, beef, tofu, peppers, onions, baby spinach, cayenne pepper… check, check, check.

He was about to start toward the register when he realized he was also getting low on rice, and had forgotten to write it down. Turning around, he headed to the back, thankful that he’d  remembered before he got home and ran out of the base for a good half of his meals.

He was bent over, grabbing a big bag of rice from the bottom shelf, when he heard it.

Or rather, heard him.

He’d know that fucking laugh anywhere.

It was Kirishima’s fake one, the self deprecating one, the one that never quite reached his eyes and meant that whatever was being said probably wasn’t funny at all.

Bakugou quickly flipped the hood of his jacket up over his baseball cap and fumbled uselessly with the items in his basket as Kirishima turned down his aisle. Kirishima made his way past him without seeming to notice him, and Bakugou chanced a glance at his back once he was several feet away.

He shouldn’t have been surprised to see him with that fucking blonde idiot, but the sight made his gut twist nonetheless. 

He hated the confirmation that this was real, that the pair of them existed easily outside the space of BeansPot while he felt like he had to hide.

Like he’d puncture whatever fragile agreement they’d come to if they met away from their coffee-scented sanctuary, sending them spiraling back to square one.

Except, then, Bakugou noticed something else, and his heart was beating fast for a different reason.

His hoodie.

Kirishima was wearing his hoodie again. The faded skull on the back stuck out to Bakugou like a white flag. Like a peace offering.

“Nah,” Kirishima was saying to the blonde. “He’s just being nice to me because he feels guilty. It’s pity, bro. Nothing real .”

Bakugou’s stomach dropped, and he was straightening up and following a few meters behind them before he knew what he was doing. Surely to fucking god , Kirishima wasn’t talking about him , right? Pity?

“Dude, you’re full of shit!” The blonde replied. “That guy totally likes you. He looks like he wants to kill me every time I walk in…,” he trailed off, like he was muttering to himself more than Kirishima.

“Likes me?!” Kirishima paused in his step and rounded on the blonde, chuckling with an almost hysterical look in his eye. Bakugou quickly made himself very interested in a selection of spices along the shelves. “Bro, he was out of my league when he was just… just Takahashi. And now you’re trying tell me Ground fucking Zero wants me?”

WHAT?

Bakugou dropped his bag of rice.

Cursing under his breath, he scrambled to pick it up while keeping his back turned to the pair. They were silent, obviously watching him, but he could hardly think straight. 

How fucking long had he known?!

Kirishima went on, and Bakugou heard them start to walk again. “You’re living in a fantasy, dude. Ground Zero isn’t even gay . Trust me, if he was, I’d know about it.”

Bakugou bristled. 

Just because his love life wasn’t very active or public - or, you know, existent at all - didn’t mean Kirishima was allowed to make dumb assumptions.

Belatedly, Bakugou realized this was kind of a weird conversation for Kirishima to be having with his boyfriend . He could maybe read it as them fighting about him, but the blonde didn’t seem angry at all. Despite Kirishima’s words, he was smiling knowingly at him.

“I don't know,” the blonde sing-songed, grabbing a giant package of protein powder and throwing it into their cart. “You say that, but who does that hoodie belong to, bro?” Kirishima flushed instantly, becoming quite interested in the shelves again and pointedly looking away from him. The blonde continued anyway, still grinning. “Part of you believes it too, Kiri. Trust your senpai, in life and in gay disasters.”

“Shut up,” Kirishima mumbled, still looking hard at the protein powders. “I just… I just miss him, okay?”

Bakugou had to bite down what was sure to be an absolutely pathetic noise. He was pretty certain his heart had just broken in two in his chest. 

God, he never, ever wanted to see Kirishima frown again.

“Then go for him! I was eavesdropping today when you were in the back, and bro, he likes you . You’re lucky I was there to stop you when you nearly fucked it up, too, accusing him of pitying...,” the blonde trailed off as his phone pinged, and he switched the basket to his other hand as he checked his messages. “Oh! Tamaki got off early!” He exclaimed, sounding happy. He offered the basket to Kirishima with a sheepish look. “Would you mind finishing and texting me my half of the bill? I wanna get back to the coffee shop as fast as possible.”

Kirishima took the shopping basket with a grin, genuine this time.

“Of course! Tell your boyfriend hi from his kouhai,” he said teasingly.

Boyfriend?

The guy beamed, nodding as he turned and jogged away from him.

“Bye Kiri!” He yelled over his shoulder. 

“Bye Miri-bro!” Kirishima called back.

His smile lingered for a minute. Then, with a wistful sigh, he turned back to the shelves and placed another huge jar of protein powder into their basket.

Bakugou backed away, leaving from the other side of the aisle. He placed his own basket down on the ground, silently sending out an apology to whoever would have to deal with putting his shit back, hoping his hero karma would take care of him as he made his way quickly and quietly out of the store.

He had about as many new questions as he had answers, but he ran into the parking lot with a wild grin anyway.

Kirishima knew he was Ground Zero.

Kirishima and that fucking guy weren’t dating .

Kirishima still wore his hoodie when he wasn’t around.

Kirishima missed him.

If Bakugou jumped into the air with a loud ‘whoop’ and a single fist pump, that was his own business. There weren’t that many people in the parking lot, anyway.

Chapter Text

Bakugou didn’t fully realize he was walking back to BeansPot until he turned the corner into the small parking lot and the sign came into view. Slowing his steps, he wondered what the fuck he was doing, as he knew Kirishima wasn’t there. He’d literally just seen him.

Bakugou shook his head at himself. He was about to turn around and head back to his house, when something caught his eye, causing him to pause. Kirishima’s blonde definitely-actually-not boyfriend had just walked out of the coffee shop, hand-in-hand with the shy barista. Bakugou didn’t know his name, as he rarely worked the relatively busy morning shift, but he’d seen him several times before.

Bakugou made eye contact with the blonde (‘Miri-bro’, his brain helpfully supplied, but he fucking refused, thanks), and his face flushed. However, as friendly as ever, the guy smiled brightly at him and waved as they passed him. Bakugou nodded his head once and willed himself not to frown. 

If his lip quirked a bit, it was only because he was in a good mood. 

And, maybe a little because Bakugou felt kinda shitty about staring daggers at him every day when he’d apparently only been trying to help him.

Bakugou looked back at them as he tossed the wrapper of the take-away sandwich he’d grabbed from the conbini after leaving the grocery store without any food. The pair were heading in the same direction he’d need to go to head home, and now that they’d seen him he’d look fucking weird if he turned around and followed them. Despite feeling somewhat ridiculous, Bakugou made his way to the shop, opting to go in and grab an evening coffee that he definitely didn’t need in order to spare himself any more awkward interaction with the blonde. 

He was barely two steps inside when he froze in place at the sight of a pink head of hair, freshly dyed.

“Where the fuck have you been?!” He blurted.

Mina, tan and freckled and obviously just back from vacation, rolled her eyes.

“Nice to see you too, Blasty,” she said dryly, and Bakugou hardly even registered the use of Kirishima’s nickname for him. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m half-Hawaiian and we do a holiday thing there every few years.”

Bakugou flushed, feeling slightly guilty. He supposed it wasn’t like it was her responsibility to fix the mess he’d made.

“Sorry,” he grumbled awkwardly.

“Anyway,” Mina replied, glossing over his rudeness. “You ready to talk now? You were pretty upset the last time I saw you.”

Bakugou nodded gratefully, but didn’t respond further. He realized he had no idea where to start.

“Hang on,” she said, looking at him sympathetically. “I’ll go tell Iida I’m going on my break.”

Ten minutes later found them sitting at Bakugou’s usual table with two steaming matcha lattes between them. Mina hadn’t bothered to ask him what he wanted. She had, however, charged him for both their drinks with a sweet smile.

“So,” she started in. “You wanna know how long he’s known your name isn’t really Takahashi, huh? Or,” she added suddenly, brows shooting high on her forehead. “Have you not even figured out that’s why he’s not talking to you?”

Bakugou’s eyes widened.

“I’ve figured it out!” He growled defensively, leaving out the fact that he’d literally only just pieced it together half an hour ago. “And does literally fucking everyone know?!”

Her lip curled into a sly smirk and she shrugged lightly. “It’s only ever been our resident meathead in the dark.”

Bakugou blinked at her in shock for a minute, then exhaled as the fight left him. He slumped back in his chair, took off his cap, and ran his fingers through his hair, figuring he was beyond the point of truly needing to hide anymore. The sun was setting outside, and he was the only customer in the place. They closed in half an hour.

“Fine,” he spat. “I’m shit at disguising myself, whatever. Just tell me how to fix this. Why’s he so damn sad around me all the time?” The word ‘pity’ ran through his mind as he recalled Kirishima’s words at the store.

Mina sighed.

“I told you, I tried to talk some sense into him,” she said. “Because I’ve watched the two of you long enough to know you’re just emotionally inept. But think about it from his perspective, Blasty.” She sent a sharp look in his direction. “He’s been flirting with you for months, and he’s been wildly forward about his thing for Ground Zero the whole time. He finds out that he’s been professing his love and joking about your damn wedding to you , and you never made a move, dude. He’s embarrassed as hell for unknowingly pushing himself onto someone who, in his mind, doesn’t reciprocate his feelings.”

Bakugou, whose eyes had grown wide as she spoke, sputtered wildly. “But he -” he started, then cut himself off. “But I - I - I do....” he trailed off, processing her words fully. “Shit.”

Mina gave him a quirk of her lip that did nothing to hide her opinion of his intelligence. 

“Plus,” she went on. “He hides it well, but Kiri’s never been super confident. I told him you’re just a moron,” Bakugou ground his teeth together, but didn’t deny it. “But he keeps saying shit like, ‘a guy like him could never want someone as boring as me, Meens! He’s a hero , and I work in a coffee shop!’”

Bakugou, despite himself, smiled at her Kirishima impression. It was pretty spot on, sparkling eyes and all. Still though, he was soon frowning again as guilt twisted his stomach. 

”He’s just being nice to me because he feels guilty. It’s pity, bro. Nothing real.”

He hadn’t known Kirishima struggled with self-doubt, and maybe he couldn’t have, but he couldn’t help but feel like if he’d only paid closer attention, if he hadn’t been so determined to keep him at arm’s length, so self-absorbed with his endless ‘what if’ questions, perhaps he would’ve noticed it.

He felt like shit.

“How’d he even figure it out.” He croaked. He didn’t quite manage to make it sound like a question. He probably didn’t even need the answer, but he was curious all the same as to what little things Kirishima had picked up on while Bakugou himself had been busy with his head up his own ass.

Mina chewed on her bottom lip, thinking.

“Your eyes,” she said after a minute, and even though he felt numb inside, those two words made his heart stutter. He met her gaze once more, and had the feeling she could see through him. “Yeah, I know,” she said with a small smile. “Something out of a rom com, eh? In my opinion, you’re so obvious all the time, with your attitude and your hair and, hell, even your ear piercings. But captain oblivious didn’t notice anything until you took off your glasses and he saw your eyes ….”

Bakugou gulped. Mina chuckled.

“He was furious with me, oh god. For not telling him, I mean,” she added at his questioning look. Then, she reached out and flicked him hard on the forehead, and he managed a halfhearted glare in response. “I thought you’d eventually use the Ground Zero thing to make a move, dumbass.”

Bakugou had to agree with her.

“Mina!” The shop owner called out, making them both jump. “Two minutes!”

Mina grimaced, downing the rest of her latte and licking green foam from her lips.

“Any more questions, Blasty boy?” She asked. “Or do you have what you need to get your man?”

Bakugou thought for a moment.

“The blonde guy,” he said slowly. “They’re not…?”

Mina smirked. “Only swolemates. If you must know, my angsty little hero, he’s not dating at all right now, so he’s been at the gym a lot.”

Bakugou rolled his eyes at the dramatic address, ignoring the leap his heart gave. He thought back to that first day the blonde had showed up. He’d been so sure something was happening between them. Hell, Kirishima had even…

“But, no, he said ,” Bakugou pressed her. “He said he was flirting with him!”

This time, Mina gave an undignified snort.

“Yeah, Tamaki’s new favorite story,” she replied. Bakugou raised a brow impatiently as the owner called her name again and she stood. “That was the first time they’d met. Kirishima has a type.” She looked him up and down pointedly. “Didn’t realize he was hitting on his senpai’s soon-to-be boyfriend. Mirio thought it was hilarious, and he was super nice about it, but Kirishima was an embarrassed mess for the rest of the day.”

She finished with a laugh, but Bakugou was frozen in his spot, going back over that day with the new perspective she’d given him, trying to make things add up. He’d heard Kirishima flirting, but he’d admittedly not heard anything the blonde guy had actually said . Bakugou had interpreted his smiling and blushing as a mutual interest, had thought Kirishima’s shy body language was overly-obvious preening, but...

“But wait,” he blurted as Mina started to walk away. “The cup. Kirishima gave him his number on a stupid coffee cup, the cheesy fucking asshole.”

Mina’s brows knitted together for just a second. Then, a look of realization came over her face. She smacked him lightly across the head, her patience running out.

“He was writing down Tamaki’s work schedule for the week, you idiot. You aren’t the only coffee shop romance going on around here,” she said.

“Coffee shop romance?” Bakugou repeated, not following.

She rolled her eyes.

“It’s a thing, just trust me. But an explanation of that one is gonna cost you at least another drink. Preferably a harder one.”

With that, Mina left him with his thoughts and his barely touched latte. He finished it slowly, turning over their conversation in his mind. 

When he left, he brought the dish to the counter, and for once in his life, said a very heartfelt thank you.

 

* * *

 

The next day, Bakugou finally decided he was done playing it safe, done waiting.

He was going to march straight into BeansPot without his stupid (and seemingly ineffective against anyone other than actual rocks) disguise, and let Kirishima Eijirou know just how fucking special he was to him.

No more games, no more lies, no more grocery store stalking or mug breaking. They could get their feelings out in the open, and then use all the energy they’d been spending on misinterpreting literally everything to focus on building a relationship with each other.

It was a great plan. 

One that Kirishima would probably call ‘manly’ while he looked at Bakugou with those adoring heart eyes that he never properly appreciated before, and that he missed so damn much now.

Normally, Bakugou would hate something so public. Hell, he still might. But this wasn’t about him. It was about Kirishima, and he wanted the whole world to know Kirishima was his person. Wanted Kirishima to know he wanted that. Wanted Kirishima to know if he ever even implied he wasn’t good enough for Bakugou again, he’d kick his fucking ass because professional hero or not, Bakugou knew who was the real reacher here.

Unfortunately for him, the universe didn’t seem to want any of that, because less than five minutes before he was planning to leave, he got a call that both his interns had called in sick for the day.

Bakugou cursed them both under his breath for the entire duration of his walk to work. Simultaneously, he spent a great deal of his commute questioning what the point of opening his own agency was if he was still subject to picking up last minute weekend shifts like a fucking sidekick.

He was counting down the minutes until his patrol ended from the second it began. If everything went fine and he ran straight back to the agency to get showered and changed, he could make it to the coffee shop just before Kirishima’s usual shift ended.

So, naturally, with less than half an hour to go before he was off the clock, he heard the telltale sound of gunshots being fired, seemingly only a few streets away from him. He took off at a run, and barely twenty seconds later, he got a text from Deku requesting back up for a violent altercation between two notorious villain gangs.

“OF FUCKING COURSE!” He shouted, palms heating as he charged up for a big explosion. “I can’t ever catch a single fucking break around here!”

He released his quirk, shaking the ground with a gigantic ‘BOOM’ as he propelled himself through the sky and overtop of the buildings separating him from Deku’s location, screeching curses at the villain gangs all the while.

Fuck stealth , he thought as a feral grin stretched over his face. They dared to ruin his plan, and he was going to make them fucking pay.

 

* * *

 

“Alright, that’s it,” the police officer interviewing Bakugou finally said. “Thanks for the assistance.”

Bakugou rolled his eyes, sneering at him. The asshat acted like he and Deku had merely screamed for help or something, rather than taking on an entire fucking mob of villains without any help, only for the police to arrive after all the action was over.

This whole ordeal meant he would have to wait days to talk Kirishima, as he usually had tomorrow and the next day off. The least this fucker could do was give credit where it was due.

Deku seemed to sense his foul mood, and he quickly interjected a loud, “Thank you, sir! It’s no problem!”

The officer nodded at him, then pointed toward an ambulance where several apprehended villains were being patched up.

“You two’ll want to go get checked out. Especially you, Ground Zero,” he added, glancing down at Bakugou’s leg. 

Bakugou followed his gaze. His thigh had suffered a rather large gash in the heat of the fight when the two gangs had temporarily teamed up against them, and the blood was staining the already scorched and torn pants of his hero costume. Bakugou grimaced as he looked down at it, suddenly much more aware of the pain.

“Right,” he grumbled, already turning away from the policeman. 

“Merry Christmas,” said the officer in closing, and Bakugou grunted in response, still annoyed. Deku covered for him again.

“Merry Christmas to you too, sir!” He chimed. “Thank you for spending Christmas Eve out here with us instead of at home! We truly appreciate you!”

Bakugou froze. Then, he spun around, cutting the officer off mid-sentence.

“What did you just say?!” He growled.

Midoriya blinked at him.

“I said we truly app-”

“Not that, fuckhead!” Bakugou snapped. “What fucking day did you just say it was?!”

“Christmas Eve...?” He replied, voice lilting at the end in question. 

Bakugou’s eyes shot wide. Midoriya was looking at him like he was insane.

“FUCK!” He shouted. “Why didn’t you fucking tell me that, dumbass?!”

Deku gaped at him.

“Excuse me?”

Bakugou made a sound that was half-groan and half-growl. 

“Never fucking mind!” He yelled, and he turned on his heel to head not in the direction of the paramedics, but rather, straight for BeansPot.

“Kacchan!” Deku called out after him, clearly concerned. “Your leg!”

Bakugou ignored him, muttering curses under his breath, along with suggestions for exactly where Deku could shove his concern. He supposed that explained why both his interns were suddenly ‘sick’.

He glanced at his watch, and then at the surrounding street signs as he booked it as fast as he could with an injured leg toward the coffee shop. BeansPot closed in half an hour, but he wasn’t that far; ten minutes by foot, maybe fifteen with his thigh split open the way it was. He quickly ripped off a bit of material from his shredded pants and tied it around the gash to stem the flow of blood. Then, he got moving again, picking up the pace as he worried his lower lip with his teeth.

Kirishima almost never worked the late shift, but he had to at least try . He hoped against hope that at the very least, whoever was working would tell him where he could find him. Kirishima had already struggled enough with confidence issues, had already spent unnecessary time thinking that Bakugou wouldn’t want him, had already been feeling down enough to stop dating. There was no way in hell that Bakugou was going to let him spend one of the most romantic holidays of the year alone .

Fuck that.

 

* * *

 

Fifteen painful minutes of fast-paced limping later, Bakugou finally made it to the parking lot of the coffee shop.

“Thank fuckin’ god,” he mumbled, hurrying along the line of storefronts toward BeansPot, his path illuminated by Christmas lights and holiday window displays.

He could hardly appreciate them though, between the throbbing pain of his leg and the warm light spilling out from the glass door of the coffee shop that was calling his name.

Bakugou stretched out a hand as he approached the door, noticing distantly that the cut on his palm had reopened during the fight. He was bleeding through the bandage Kirishima had put on him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care, not now. Switching hands, he reached for the door and pushed it open as he looked up to see who was working.

He froze mid-push with his hand against the glass and his breath catching in his throat.

Kirishima.

For a second, all Bakugou could bring himself to do was stare. 

It was stupid, really. He’d seen him barely more than twenty-four hours ago and he fucking knew what he looked like, okay.

But he was so stupidly adorable, with his hair down and soft and covered in a clashing red Santa Claus hat. He was wrapped up in Bakugou’s hoodie again, as he should be, always, and the tips of his fingers were just barely visible, sticking out from overly-long sleeves. 

Both of his hands were tightly gripping the remote control to the small TV that was mounted in the corner, on which his worried eyes were locked despite Bakugou’s entrance triggering the bell. Belatedly, Bakugou heard the voices of reporters coming through the old, crackling television speakers and realized that Kirishima was watching the news about his and Deku’s fight.

Bakugou let go of the door and walked toward the counter, trying his hardest not to limp too much. The few remaining patrons in the shop started whispering in concerned and excited tones before he even made it halfway there. He could clearly make out his hero name, along with the word ‘bleeding’, but he had more important things to worry about.

He stopped in front of the register, but Kirishima still hadn’t looked away from the TV, completely transfixed.

“What are you doing here?” Bakugou asked, as gently as possible.

Kirishima jumped. “Oh! Sorry, si-”

His eyes went wide as he abruptly cut himself off. The remote control slipped from his hands, but he didn’t even try to catch it.

“T-Takahashi?!” He yelped, looking at the TV and back again. “Oh my god! Thank god you’re alright! I was so worried!”

He reached across the counter without seeming to give it a second thought, grasping Bakugou’s hand in his own as if to make sure that he was really that, that it was really him.

Bakugou felt his cheeks go ruddy, but he chuckled despite himself.

“Katsuki’s really fine, I think, at this point,” he offered awkwardly, quirking his lip.

Kirishima blinked at him for a moment, then started laughing.

“Right,” he said, shaking his head as he turned a color that could probably rival Bakugou’s. “That’s gonna take some getting used to.”

Bakugou smiled, averting his gaze. Fuck, it felt so nice to finally just talk to him again.

“Kirishima,” he tried once more. “Why are you even working tonight?”

“Oh...,” he replied. Bakugou couldn’t help but notice the way his face fell, just a bit. “Tamaki wanted to do something romantic with Mirio for Christmas Eve, so I switched shifts with him.”

He didn’t miss the unspoken, because I didn’t have anything else to do . A few days ago, he’d likely have interpreted it as jealousy over Mirio instead, but he had grown since then, thanks. 

Bakugou opened his mouth to reply, pausing mid-word when he heard a camera shutter go off behind him. Kirishima blushed deeper as his eyes flashed up to the customers, who Bakugou realized were likely all attempting to take photos of Ground Zero holding hands with a barista.

Bakugou felt Kirishima starting to pull his hand back, and he tightened his fingers just forcefully enough to stop him. Kirishima looked up at him, eyes wide.

“Katsuki,” he whispered, glancing around. “People are going to get the wrong idea if you don’t let go.”

Bakugou took a deep breath and ran his free hand through his hair. 

It was now or never, then.

“Kirishima,” he started, heart hammering in his chest. “That’s the idea I want them to get.”

Kirishima blinked at him, his expression clearly conveying his disbelief.

“W-what do you mean?”

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “I’ve been in love with you since the first fucking caramel latte, you giant idiot.”

Kirishima’s eyes went round as saucers as he opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again.

“What?!” He sputtered. “But you- but I-I- that’s impossib- I’m sorry, what ?!” 

Bakugou narrowed his eyes, pointing at him with one finger of his bandaged hand.

“If you say anything self-deprecating right now I swear I’ll knock your ass out on our first date,” he threatened.

Then, replaying his words in his head, he cursed under his breath.

“Th-that is - fuck, uh - that is, if you want… to go on a date… with me...” Bakugou stuttered, then winced. This was not at all the manly confession he’d imagined. 

To his horror, Kirishima started laughing .

Bakugou felt his cheeks turning impossibly redder as Kirishima clutched his stomach, felt his blush starting to spread down his neck and chest.

“Listen, Shitty Hair, you don’t have to fucking laugh at m-”

“No!” Kirishima squeaked between giggles. “It’s n-not that!”

He was clearly trying to calm himself down, and it was a testament to how fucking far gone Bakugou was for him that he waited his laughing fit out without stomping out of the shop.

“I’m not laughing at you!” Kirishima was finally able to say. “Not like that , anyway. Taka- Katsuki, you already know in an unfortunate amount of detail how into you I am!"

Bakugou huffed a chuckle despite himself, running his free hand through his hair. 

“No, Shitty Hair, I know how into my hero persona you are,” he said, then rolled his eyes. “Which, by the way, you didn’t need to get so fucking embarrassed about that.” Bakugou lowered his voice, ignoring the flush on his cheeks, and continued. “I used to think that kinda shit about All Might.”

He left out the fact that that was when he was a teenager, and that he never fucking would’ve been caught dead saying any of it out loud. He doubted it would have the same comforting effect with those caveats.

Kirishima laughed again. “I said I wanted to marry you, dude,” he whispered, finishing with a groan.

“Then it’s pretty fucking unmanly of you to chicken out and go back on your word, huh?” Bakugou teased.

Kirishima’s eyes went wide, but he couldn’t tame his smile. 

“How could I possibly only like your hero persona, when the real you is so much better?” He whispered, and it sounded almost as if he were speaking more to himself than Bakugou, but Bakugou’s cheeks flared anyway.

The pain in his thigh throbbed as he fought down a stupid grin, and he leaned against the counter to take his weight off of it. Behind him, another camera shutter went off, and he felt Kirishima’s hand twitching again.

“Hey, Kirishima?” He asked quietly, heart rate picking up again.

Kirishima looked up to meet his gaze, and Bakugou shoved the words out before he could back down. 

“Kiss me?”

“What?!” He asked. “Really? In front of people? And cameras? You’re not even, like, out, in case you’d forgotten.”

Bakugou glared at him. “I don’t give a single fuck about any of that.”

Kirishima glanced around nervously.

“I, uh…” he trailed off, and Bakugou raised an unimpressed brow. “I don’t think I’m allowed to do that at work.”

Bakugou blinked at his flushed face, his uncertain expression, then snorted unceremoniously.

“I’m a fucking professional hero , and I just saved the city from gang violence, or whatever,” he retorted, half pouting. “Can’t you make an exception?”

Kirishima giggled openly at that, and Bakugou had the thought that no matter how much Kirishima laughed, he could never, ever grow tired of the sound. 

“Sorry,” he said, eyes twinkling. “No exceptions for heroes.”

Bakugou’s eyes widened in indignation.

“But,” Kirishima continued. “I suppose I can make one for my favorite regular.” 

And Bakugou barely had time to process his words before Kirishima was bridging the gap between them and pressing a kiss to his lips. 

Vaguely, he was aware of more camera sounds going off behind him, of loud and excited whispering from the customers. However, he couldn’t bring himself to give any of them a second thought, not when he was finally fucking kissing Kirishima Eijirou .

He was much more gentle than Bakugou would’ve guessed, which was probably a good thing because Bakugou already felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. 

He brought his free hand up cup Kirishima’s face, and the little noise he got in response was enough to make him feel lightheaded. He stroked a thumb across his cheek, reveling in the chatter fading away into the background, in Kirishima flooding his senses.

Kissing him was so good

Like... really fucking good .

Electric and tingly and all-encompassing.

It wasn’t until Kirishima pulled back and he tried to open his eyes that he fully realized why kissing him was making him feel quite so dizzy.

“Hey, Kirishima?” Bakugou said again, looking at his now-hopefully-boyfriend through heavy black spots in his vision. “I think I need to go to the hospital. Lost a lot of blood.”

Luckily, he caught his head in his hand as he sagged onto the counter.

“Holy shit, Katsuki ,” Kirishima barked, his face morphing into a horrified expression as he leaned over and zeroed in on Bakugou’s blood-covered leg. “You idiot!”

Within three minutes, Kirishima managed to have everyone out and the shop entirely closed. He pulled a smiling and still lightheaded Bakugou out by his hand before locking up and dragging him to his car.

 

* * *

 

They spent the majority of their first date in the hospital, and Bakugou did his best to make up for the less than romantic location by giving Kirishima as many kisses as physically possible without the doctors kicking them out. Maybe it was the blood loss, but he also apologized for making such a fucking ass out of himself over the past several months no less than fifteen times over the course of the night.

While he was getting his leg and hand stitched up, Kirishima happily entertained himself on the hero gossip websites, which were going absolutely wild with the news of Ground Zero and the mystery barista. Apparently, they even had a couple name already, despite no one knowing who Kirishima was.

GroundCoffee.

Fucking ridiculous, really, but Kirishima seemed to love it, so Bakugou supposed it wasn’t all that bad.

Despite the stitches, it was the best Christmas Eve Bakugou could’ve ever asked for. 

Though, if he was being completely honest, he was pretty sure he’d have been happy doing just about anything, as long as he got to do it with Kirishima.

 

* * *

 

And as it turned out, Bakugou’s concern was unfounded.

Their cats ended up being fast friends, and eventually, even better adopted siblings.