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Worth a Thousand Words

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Prologue: 

Kirishima burst through Bakugou’s door without even knocking, groaning melodramatically in lieu of a greeting as he made his way over to where Bakugou was currently sitting on the bed. He had his back against the wall and his computer balanced precariously on his knees, an open notebook and a few loose pages spread out next to him. He didn’t even flinch as the door ricocheted off the wall, though he was probably used to the noise since that seemed to be his signature way of entering any room.

Bakugou shifted his legs when he got close enough, giving Kirishima just enough room to flop on top of the covers while still groaning as he mashed his face into the pillow. A small weight settled comfortably on Kirishima’s back as Bakugou returned his legs to their original position, or as much as they could with Kirishima now taking up half of the bed.

 “How was your day?” Bakugou asked as soon as the groans stopped, to which Kirishima answered with an even louder groan. “I see.”

Once he finally felt capable of forming actual words, Kirishima adjusted his head so his voice wouldn’t be muffled by the pillow and asked, “Do you want to watch something?”

“I’ve got to finish this paperwork tonight,” Bakugou answered distractedly, his eyes still glued to his computer screen. Disappointment shot through Kirishima but it was short lived as Bakugou continued, “So put on anything but Paranormal Mafia.”

“It’s not that bad,” Kirishima snorted as he reached for the remote, only for Bakugou to dig the heel of his foot into his back in response.

“You put that trash on my tv one more time and I will throw both it and you out the window,” Bakugou threatened. “Got it?”

“Got it!” Kirishima said. “Maybe we can watch Paranormal Pawn Stars instead? I mean, it is the mafia aspect of the show that you don’t care for, right? Either way, we can’t go wrong with a good, ol’ fashioned Paranormal Pets!”

“Please tell me that is not a real thing,” Bakugou deadpanned.

“I think you’re really gonna like it,” Kirishima said, struggling not to laugh. “One episode had someone who was haunted by a giraffe!”

Silence was the only response Kirishima got for a few moments before Bakugou said, through what was presumably clenched teeth, “Sounds great.”

The absolute defeat in Bakugou’s voice was what finally broke Kirishima. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” he laughed, sentences coming out in two- to three-word intervals as he struggled to breathe. “You just- It’s not- Can you even imagine the types of people who would be on a show like that?”

“I hate you.”

“You’re just so gullible sometimes!” Kirishima hooted. “I don’t understand it!”

“You make us watch stupid shit all the time! How would I have known that Paranormal Pets isn’t a real show?” Bakugou snapped, causing Kirishima to start laughing even harder. He got another heel in the back until he finally calmed down and flipped the tv to a familiar movie, settling into a more comfortable position.

Bakugou remained where he was, legs draped over Kirishima with his computer on his lap as he continued to work. The sun was just starting to set, casting a warm light in the room that worked in perfect combination with Bakugou’s steady presence to ease all the stress and irritation of the day away. Fingers would absentmindedly thrum along Kirishima’s back every now and then, matching a beat that only Bakugou could hear before his hand would return to the keyboard.

It wasn’t until Kirishima was startled awake by a loud noise from the tv that he even realized he had drifted off in the first place. A myriad of curse words that were barely discernable followed as the warm weight across his back shifted.

“Goddamn, stupid-ass bump music,” Bakugou griped as he reached across Kirishima to grab something that had been near his hand. The remote, Kirishima lazily noted as the room went dark.

“W’time is it?” Kirishima yawned.

“Shhhhhhhhhhut the fuck up,” Bakugou shushed him.

Kirishima let out a huff of laughter at the simple hushing turning into such an aggressive command. “Are you going to bed soon?” he asked as he tried to sit up, knowing full well that if he were to fall back asleep right now he wouldn’t be able to get back to his room tonight.

But Bakugou clearly didn’t care, stubbornly locking his legs so Kirishima couldn’t move. All Kirishima managed to do was change his position so he was now on his back, which only served to make him more comfortable. “If you stopped acting like a damn mental patient who’s been committed against his will I might be able to finish my work at a reasonable time,” Bakugou scolded.

“’Kay,” Kirishima said, having a hard time remembering why he wanted to leave in the first place. He was warm, and relaxed, and the soft clicks from Bakugou’s keyboard were luring him back to sleep. “Just gonna…rest my eyes…for a little.”

“Uh huh,” Bakugou said in an almost condescending tone. “You go ahead and do that.”

“Wake me up when you-”

“Goodnight,” Bakugou said forcefully.

The sound of Bakugou’s computer shutting down was what woke Kirishima up the second time. He blinked his eyes open to see Bakugou closing the lid of his laptop before handing it over to him once he saw Kirishima was awake.

“Desk. Or floor,” he added. “Too tired to care.”

“All done?” Kirishima asked as he blearily made sure he didn’t miss the desk and send the laptop clattering to the hardwood floor, which he had unfortunately done in the past.

“Yeah,” Bakugou answered.

“Bedtime?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Alarm?”

“Five.”

Kirishima groaned. “Too early.”

“Too bad,” Bakugou said as he shoved Kirishima over.

Not out.

Just over.

Too tired to question his luck, Kirishima’s eyes closed once again. “Okay. Nighty, night.”

“No, not nighty, night, you bastard,” Bakugou said. Kirishima was on the precipice of falling back asleep so he didn’t have the energy to form words, humming a questioning tone instead. “You’re on the sheets.”

Bakugou didn’t even wait for Kirishima to respond before he started tugging the comforter out from underneath his body.

“Kaaaaatsukiiiii,” Kirishima whined, doing nothing to help the situation.

When he finally got the sheets free, Bakugou wrapped himself up in them and turned his back towards Kirishima. “Guess who doesn’t get any blankets now ‘cause he’s an asshole.”

“Oh no, whatever shall I do?” Kirishima mumbled groggily as he reached over and tugged both the buddle of sheets and Bakugou towards him. He wrapped his arms around a now thrashing Bakugou and burrowed his head into his shoulder.

“Comfortable?” Bakugou snarked.

“Mmm, yes,” Kirishima answered as he dodged an elbow to the face. “Are you?”

“No,” was the immediate response he got, followed by a foot to the stomach and a snort. “Okay, now I am.”

Bakugou was still wrapped up in Kirishima’s arms once he finally settled down, much to Kirishima’s delight. Sure, they had fallen asleep on one another during movie nights or after late missions before, but never in such a private setting like one of their bedrooms. He was glad that Bakugou was facing the wall or he would have gotten an eyeful of Kirishima’s dopey grin.

That excitement suddenly soured into dread as he realized just what kind of situation he had gotten himself into. While Kirishima would love nothing more than to go to sleep every night like this, he knew that Bakugou felt differently about their friendship. A good case in point being that what Bakugou and Kirishima had was only a friendship and nothing more.

Kirishima was just about to pull away and head to his own room when he was startled from his thoughts.

“We’re going to an arcade tomorrow,” Bakugou stated, almost as if this was something they had talked about beforehand despite Kirishima knowing this was the first he’d heard of these plans.

Kirishima’s brain screeched to a halt, struggling to shift gears. Mere seconds ago he had been panicking over how to keep a respectable, friendly distance from Bakugou, and now Kirishima was nearly jumping with joy over the prospect of spending an entire day with him. “Oh, are we now?” he finally settled on as an appropriate response.

“What?” Bakugou barked out. “You got better plans?”

“No,” Kirishima said as he relaxed back into the bed, his earlier worries having all but disappeared. “Where are we going?”

“This place in the Tertiary District,” Bakugou said. “Was given a shit ton of tokens as a thank you and HR finally got back to me and said they’re legally mine, so-”

“What? What does legality have to do with game tokens? And why did you…,” Kirishima started to question before trailing off, deciding he would just get the full story tomorrow when he was more awake. “What time are we leaving?”

“Whenever your lazy ass gets out of bed.”

“So, never?” Kirishima joked as he let out an unintentional yawn.

“Eijirou,” Bakugou threatened.

“Okay, okay,” Kirishima said. “We’ll leave at the first sign of dawn. When the rooster crows, we shall set out into the city to-”

Bakugou turned around and clamped his hand over Kirishima’s mouth. “It’s too late for me to be dealing with this bullshit, okay?” he said.

Kirishima’s small chuckle was apparently a good enough answer for Bakugou since he turned back around, this time with his back firmly against Kirishima’s chest. Kirishima didn’t even try to stop the idiotic grin from returning as he pulled Bakugou impossibly closer, relishing in the exasperated huff that earned him.

“Nighty, night.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Bakugou replied under his breath, shifting only enough so that Kirishima’s arm was no longer awkwardly trapped underneath them.

***

Ashido was lounging across the couch, scrolling through her phone with increasing agitation.

“No, no, no, no, NO!” she said, throwing her phone down in exaggerated disgust. “How do I not have a single good group picture of us all?”

“I liked the one of us in front of the clock,” Hagakure suggested.

“Yeah, but,” Ashido said as she made a show of picking her phone back up and scrolling to the picture in question. “Denki’s not looking at the camera and Satou and Shouji’s heads aren’t even in the shot. At least Eiji had the courtesy of ducking down, but now he just looks like he broke his back.” There was a long pause as she just stared at the photo. “When did these boys get so tall?” she said with a shake of her head. 

“I’ve always been tall,” Shouji said indignantly.

“Then you should know how to take a proper picture!”

“And why exactly is this so important to you?” Kaminari asked from the other side of the room, currently engaged in a card game with Sero, Kirishima, Jirou, and Tokoyami.

“For the memories, Denki!” Ashido shouted. “We’re graduating this year! Don’t you think it would be nice if we all had some good pictures of each other?”

“Ooh! Are you making a scrapbook?” Hagakure asked excitedly.

“Maaaaybeeeee,” Ashido answered, drawing the word out long enough that everyone knew that was exactly what she was doing.

“You wanna go through my pictures?” Kirishima offered.

“Thanks, Ei!” she cried in excitement, jumping up and running over to grab his phone. She was just about to start swiping through his photos when she stopped, giving him a calculated look. “Do you need to, like, delete anything before I go through them?”

“What? No!” Kirishima laughed, shaking his head at Ashido’s skeptical look. “I’m serious, Mina! Why in the world would I knowingly give you my phone if there were inappropriate pictures on there?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Ashido said, looking pointedly at Sero. “Care to jump in?”

Knowingly, Mina,” Sero stressed the word. “My boy Kirishima said knowingly. It’s not my fault you took my phone and saw a bit more than you wanted to.”

Kaminari made a face. “And now we all know a bit more than we wanted to.”

Sero didn’t even look embarrassed as he threw a card down onto the table, eliciting a groan from everyone at the table but Jirou. Light banter filled the room for the next few minutes until Ashido let out an excited shriek, nearly knocking heads with Ojirou as she sat up.

“No way!” she screamed as she ran over to Kirishima. “You have a picture of Blasty smiling?!”

Kirishima squinted to look at the screen that was being shoved in his face. Blown up on his phone was a picture of Bakugou and Camie, the latter holding her sides in laughter as Bakugou looked at the camera with a huge smile on his face.

“Oh yeah!” Kirishima exclaimed, his own face splitting into a smile that matched Bakugou’s. “That’s a really funny story! So a few weeks ago, Katsuki got called in to help when a little kid accidently lost control of their quirk at this game center in the middle of nowhere. All the kids ended up giving him their tokens as a thank you.”

“This is the Lord of Explosion Murder we’re talking about, right?” Sero questioned.

“He’s really good with kids!” Kirishima defended, glowering when everyone laughed. “I’m serious you guys! The girl was having trouble with her quirk and had broken down crying because she had been there for a birthday party and had scared all her friends away.”

The room quieted down as everyone stared at Kirishima, clearly intrigued.

“So what exactly did he do, then?” Jirou asked.

“Well, I can’t remember exactly what her quirk was, but it had something to do with animation or telekinesis, or something like that, because all of the stuffed animals that were supposed to be prizes were, like, walking around on their own.”

“Oof,” Kaminari said. “That’s got to be traumatizing. How old was she?”

Kirishima shrugged. “Five or six, I think. The mother said that she had just started to develop her quirk and was having a hard time getting a hang of it. So Katsuki just strolled into the ball pit where she had holed herself up and told her to calm down.”

“So he yelled at her, then?” Shouji joked.

“Which worked,” Kirishima shrugged. “She stopped crying long enough that he could actually talk to her and give her some basic pointers on control. He did have to stay there until her parents arrived to pick her up, though since every time he went to leave she could lose control again.”

“Aww, that’s really cute and all, but what does this picture have to do with that?” Ashido asked, getting them all back on track. “Doesn’t sound like you were there.”

“Right!” Kirishima said with a snap of his fingers. “So, because he suddenly had a huge pile of tokens and none of the kids that were there would take them back because it was his “reward”, we decided to go when we had a day off. Long story short, Bakugou had just won on this one machine that had raked up a HUGE jackpot, and the tickets would literally not stop coming out. We were stuck there for like three minutes, just waiting for the machine to stop, which was ridiculous because there were alarms sounding and everyone was just staring at him like he was doing it on purpose just to gloat.”

“And where is the lie?” Sero laughed.

“Woah!” Mineta exclaimed, materializing out of nowhere. “Who’s that bombshell of a blonde in the picture?”

Ashido looked him dead in the eye and said, “That’s Bakugou. We go to school with him.”

“Oh shut up!” Kaminari exclaimed as he smacked her shoulder. “I have no idea how anyone could even call Blasty’s hair blonde.”

“Or call him a bombshell,” Jirou said dryly.

“I don’t know,” Hagakure said. “He is rather…explosive.”

Kaminari and Jirou booed, throwing their cards in Hagakure’s general direction.

“He really puts the “bomb” in bombshell?” Ojirou added cautiously to another round of boos from Kaminari and Jirou.

“I know that this isn’t the time, but I feel the need to mention her hair is a very similar shade to Bakugou’s,” Sero added unhelpfully.

“Well then she’s not a blonde either!”

It was a familiar argument, one that Kaminari fought every time his hair was even slightly classified in the same category as Bakugou’s, so Kirishima was able to easily tune him out to finally answer Mineta’s question. “That’s Utsushimi Camie.”

“I thought she looked familiar!” Hagakure said.

“Wait, Camie from Shinketsu High, Camie?” Mineta screamed out as he shook Kirishima. “How do you know her?”

Kirishima hardened his shoulders, rolling his eyes as Mineta pulled his hands back with a shriek, knowing it hadn’t hurt that much. “I’m not that close with her, but I’m pretty sure she’s working at the same agency Bakugou is interning at this year,” he said. “Since I had already draped all the tickets around Katsuki and dubbed him “King of the Arcade”, she said that he’s not a king unless he has a crown.”

He reached around Mineta to swipe to another picture of when Camie had created an illusion of a giant crown on top of his head. He was scowling at her in that picture, which was nothing new so Ashido swiped back to the first one.

“I have never seen Bakugou smile like that before,” she said, already texting the picture to herself. “That Camie must be one hell of a girl.”

Kirishima laughed, though it sounded hollow in his own ears. “Yeah, they get along pretty well, I guess.”

“Pretty well?” Ashido said. “Look at that face, dude. That’s not the face of a guy who only gets along with someone pretty well.”

“Didn’t they spend a lot of time together when they had to take remedial classes back in first year?” Hagakure asked.

With a kind of cursed luck that Kirishima was starting to get used to, Todoroki, Iida, Uraraka, and Midoriya chose that exact moment to get back from grocery shopping.

“Hey Todoroki,” Ashido shouted to get their attention. “You were with Bakugou during your remedial classes first year. What was his relationship with Utsushimi like?”

“Utsushimi?” Todoroki questioned as the group walked further into the common room, carrying a ridiculous amount of bags on one arm and making it look easy.

“Camie?” Ashido attempted to clarify.

“The hot blonde,” Mineta added, much to both Kirishima and Kaminari’s dismay, though for admittedly different reasons.

“Ah,” Todoroki said thoughtfully. “She was very…handsy.”

“Ooh, that sounds promising!” Ashido squealed as Todoroki shuddered slightly and left to bring the groceries into the kitchen with Iida, leaving Midoriya and Uraraka to be bombarded by Ashido. “So, do you think there was a spark?”

“A spark?” Uraraka asked.

“With Camie!”

Uraraka had a thoughtful look on her face as she looked after Todoroki. “Oh, well, I get the impression that Shouto wasn’t all that impressed by-”

“No, no, no,” Ashido said, shaking her head. “With Camie and Bakugou.”

Midoriya let out a startled laugh.

Ashido’s eyes slid to Midoriya, who looked regretful at drawing attention to himself.  “Do you have something to share with the class?” she interrogated.

“Umm,” Midoriya said nervously. “I-it’s Kacchan. There is always a spark.”

With another round of boos from Kaminari and Jirou, Ashido took a page out of Mineta’s playbook and started shaking Midoriya violently. “I mean like a romantic spark!”

Midoriya blanched. “You think Kacchan is interested in Utsushimi?”

He seemed doubtful, so Ashido shoved Kirishima’s phone in his face. “Do you see this smile? That is the smile of boy who is head-over-heels smitten, am I right?”

Midoriya actually took the time to look at the picture critically, though he shot an uneasy look towards Kirishima before he answered. “Umm, y-yeah,” he said as he started to back away, hiding behind Uraraka like a shield. “It definitely looks like Kacchan is in love.”

How could Kirishima have been so stupid?

The confirmation by Midoriya had struck Kirishima harder than he would have liked to admit. He could remember sensing some tension after Camie had hung out with them, helping pick out their prizes and then joining them for food afterwards. At the time he had assumed it was Bakugou’s usual hatred of being in a group of more than two people, but what if it wasn’t? What if Bakugou had wanted Kirishima to leave so he could be alone with Camie?

“Would you look at the time,” Kirishima said as he abruptly stood up. “I just remembered I have to…”

It was good that nobody was paying him any attention since he couldn’t actually come up with a legitimate excuse to leave. The only response he got from his sudden departure was Ashido shouting after him about his phone.

Chapter Text

Ever since Amajaki had graduated two years ago, Fatgum had been dragging his feet on bringing anyone new in. While he was generally grateful for the experience of working one-on-one with a Pro, it was tough when Kirishima was continually pulled away from school and what little time off he was able to find these days.

Tonight was a perfect example of this.

It was a little past ten and Kirishima was just getting back to the dorms. Local authorities had been having problems with a petty thief who had a gravity amplifying quirk, so when an anonymous tip had been called in about a self-storage unit she was holed up in, Fatgum had offered their services in taking her down. Even though Kirishima was happy that his quirk had been put to good use, he was not happy about how sore he was after being slammed through the floor. Well, three floors if he was being technical.

Nothing was broken, but all he wanted to do was eat, take a long, hot bath, and then crawl into bed. But first he had to deal with the bat in his room.

Because there was a bat.

In his room.

Why was there a bat in his room?

After several minutes of jumping around like a lunatic trying to catch the winged mammal, Kirishima’s next course of action was to enlist Bakugou’s help. When there was no answer at his door and his phone went straight to voicemail, Kirishima belatedly remembered that he had gone to see a movie with the rest of their classmates that evening.

Kirishima had originally planned on going as well but he had received the call from Fatgum right as they were headed out. Bakugou had tried to bail as well but Uraraka made a big deal over the fact that they had already paid for the tickets and it was going to be hard enough for them to find someone to take Kirishima’s ticket and she didn’t want to have to find someone to take Bakugou’s as well.

While he debated leaving a voicemail or not, there was a loud beep that let him know he had lost his chance to just hang up without an embarrassing three second message of silence.

“Hey Katsuki,” Kirishima said, his voice still hushed as he kept his eyes on the frightened bat. “Totally forgot that you’re a good kid and turn your phone off when you go to the movies, no need to call me back. I’ll talk to you later.”

He sighed as he hit the end call button, trying to decide what his next steps were. He thought about just leaving the bat to its own devices and going to sleep, but it was ignorant of Kirishima’s exhaustion, frantically flying around the room in a U-shaped path only to land on something different each time. There were probably more than a few nicks and scratches on his dresser and curtains by now.

Afraid to open his door again in case the bat decided to escape into the hallway, Kirishima called the only other person he could think of that would be helpful in this situation. The phone rang twice before a small voice answered. “Hello?”

“Kouda, my man, I am so sorry for the late call, but you wouldn’t happen to be on campus right now, would you? Because there is a bat in my room and I don’t know what to do,” Kirishima said, jumping right to the point.

He had to turn his volume up all the way to catch the response, and even then it was still difficult to hear. “I am sorry, Kirishima, but I went home this weekend. Would you like for me to come back to assist you?”

“Nah man, no worries!” Kirishima said. “I just don’t want the little guy to get hurt. I tried catching him already, but he’s too quick!”

After receiving a few tips on how to get the bat to exit his room on its own, and what to do in case it didn’t, Kirishima thanked Kouda and hung up. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to rest until he knew for sure that the bat was safe and sound outside, Kirishima sat down against the door and prepared himself for an even later night than he had originally planned.

He had only been sitting there for about fifteen minutes, lazily watching the bat try to figure out the best way to land on his clock, when his phone buzzed.

Bakugou:           Fuck you

While not an unusual text, Kirishima couldn’t remember what exactly he had done to elicit this kind of note from Bakugou.

Kirishima:          ???

Bakugou:           I am NOT a good kid

Kirishima laughed quietly, remembering his voicemail from what felt like ages ago, though it had only been about a half an hour at most.

Kirishima:          Nuh uh, ur the goodest boy i know

Bakugou:           Whatever

To Kirishima’s surprise, another text came a few seconds later.

Bakugou:           How did it go with FG?

Kirishima didn’t really want to explain how there were now three Kirishima-sized holes in an office building in Naniwa, so it was a stroke of luck that the bat decided to give up on clinging to his arm clock and landed on his weights instead. Kirishima snapped a quick picture before he could take off again.

Kirishima:          Look at my new workout buddy!

              <image178.png>

He didn’t even have to wait a minute before his phone buzzed again.

Bakugou:           Why the fuck is there a bat in your room?

Kirishima:          No idea

Kirishima:          Kouda said i either have to let it leave on its own or catch it but every time i try to get close it just freaks out and flies to the other side of the room

                            Like for real

              Im not a scary guy

Bakugou:           Nuh uh, ur the scariest guy I know

Kirishima laughed at having his own words thrown back in his face.

Kirishima:          Fuck you

When his phone buzzed again, he was expecting it to be another text from Bakugou, so he was wholly unprepared for the gut punch of seeing a picture of Bakugou and Camie.

It was clear from the angle of the picture that it had been taken hastily, a motion blur around the edges as if Ashido had been afraid of being caught. The couple looked like they were standing in the darkened entrance of a shop that had already shut down for the night as there were no other bystanders around to bother them. There was a ghost of a smile on Bakugou’s face, his eyes softened as his head tilted towards the ground in a way that made him look almost bashful.

Ashido:                 If were competing to see who can get the most pictures of Blasty with a smile while with his girl i think im in the lead (*^3^)/~

The group chat exploded, mostly from the rest of their classmates who needed context.

Sero:                    Doesn’t count as a smile. Red’s still in the lead.

Mineta:              Ummmmmmmm pretty sure Camie is into me, not Bakugou

Ashido:               Its totally a smile!!!

Todoroki:           How do I leave?

Hagakure:          Is that why you invited her?!?

Uraraka:             I can assure you she is not.

Kaminari:           U can never leave. Ur here with us foreeeever.

Jirou:                   Go for it, Prune Juice. Take the shot.

Yao-momo:        Are there official rules for this competition?

Mineta:              See! Jirou gets it!

In between the mess of responses was a lone text from Bakugou.

Bakugou:           So what you’re saying is you need me to come back and help you catch the damn thing?

Kirishima looked at the simple question, his chest tightening as he tried to think of a response. Clearly the movie was over, so they should be headed back anyways, right? So why did Bakugou specify coming back? Had he made plans to hang out with Camie afterwards so it could be just the two of them? Were they going to get food? Maybe go out to a club? Or worse, back to her place?

Of course he wanted Bakugou to come back, but Kirishima saw the picture. He saw how happy Bakugou looked. What kind of friend would he be if he asked him to come back now?

As if sensing his mood, the bat gave Kirishima one last look and took off from his weights, flying right out of his window and off into the night. Kirishima shot up from where he had been sitting, leaping across the items scattered across his floor to slam the window shut before any other creatures mistook his room for a five-star bed and breakfast.

He grabbed his phone, sending off a quick text to Kouda to let him know what had happened and to thank him again, when he got another text from Bakugou.

Bakugou:           Did the bat kill you?

Kirishima:          As if a bat could take me down!

Dont worry bout me! It finally found its way out so im gonna shower and head to bed. Have fun tonight and see you tomorrow!

His phone was still buzzing from the group chat as he left the conversation and deleted the entire thread, spending the entirety of his shower trying to think of what he would say to Ashido once she noticed. Not wanting to lie, but not wanting to tell the full truth either, Kirishima still hadn’t thought of anything by the time his head hit the pillow, and by then he was already fast asleep.

Chapter Text

Kirishima woke with a yawn that quickly turned into a sigh once he realized just how early it was. Unable to fall back asleep due to the rumbling in his stomach, he barely managed to remember to grab a shirt before he was headed out of his room. Shuffling into the kitchen, Kirishima was greeted with a non-verbal nod as Uraraka shifted to open up one of the burners on the stove like she did every other morning.

Already half-way through their respective meals, Uraraka clearly felt awake enough to finally start a conversation. “How was work last night?”

“Not too bad,” Kirishima answered. “How was the movie?”

“Long,” Uraraka groaned out. “And the big twist at the end was not worth it.”

After a few minutes of listening to Uraraka’s heated argument about how the entire second act could have been cut from the movie and everything would have still made sense, Ashido, Kaminari, and Sero came thundering down the stairs.

“Hey man!” Kaminari said as soon as he caught sight of Kirishima sitting at the table. “Sorry if our group chat bothered you while you were out last night.”

Ashido nodded strongly alongside Kaminari. “I didn’t even think about it. I was just so caught up in soft Blasty that I had to share.”

Oh.

Right.

The events of last night suddenly caught up to Kirishima as he remembered why he had gone to bed without eating dinner. He hadn’t wanted to risk still being awake when everyone got back to the dorms.

Or when everyone, minus Bakugou, got back to the dorms.

Uraraka, having seen the way he tensed up, shot him a questioning look but Sero didn’t give her the chance to act on it.

“Pretty sure he saw you though.”

“What do you mean?” Ashido demanded, crouching down as she made chopping motions in Sero’s direction. “I was super stealthy.”

Sero shrugged. “He got really surly almost immediately after you took the picture.”

Kirishima just nodded sympathetically to whatever they were saying, wishing he could leave this conversation as easily as he left the one from last night. Uraraka was still watching him closely out of the corner of her eye so he tried his best not to let his irritation show as he stood up to take both of their dishes to the sink.

“I mean, they did basically disappear after that,” Kaminari agreed. “I didn’t see them for the rest of the night.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that it was my fault!” Ashido pouted. “He’s always disappearing! At least Camie had the decency to say goodbye before they left.”

The plate Kirishima was washing let out a painful screech as his hardened fingers put a long scratch right down the middle. 

“Eiji!”

“Come on, man!”

“Dude!”

“Sorry!” Kirishima apologized, having not realized he had activated his quirk at all. “Sorry, there was a bit of gunk I couldn’t get off.”

“God, that is one of the worst noises in the world,” Ashido shuddered before turning back to Sero. “Anyways, I’m the sneakiest one here, and there is no way-”

“Oh my god, why did you even say anything?” Kaminari whined as he hopped up onto the counter and grabbed a tangerine. “She’s gonna obsess over this for the rest of the day.”

“I’m not going to obsess over it!” Ashido denied, snatching the tangerine out of his hands.

“Oh yeah, I’m sure you won’t,” Kaminari said, voice dripping in sarcasm.

“Name one thing I’ve-”

“You spent an entire week trying to explain to us that you didn’t call Aizawa dad and that we had all somehow misheard you,” Kaminari answered before Ashido could even get the full question out.

Ashido sputtered. “That’s not-”

“And there was that ridiculous business with the mystery tie we found in your room,” Sero added.

Kaminari’s face lit up with a huge grin. “Oh my god, the tie! How could I have forgotten about the tie?”

Ashido crossed her arms furiously, just the barest hint of a blush on her face. “How many times do I have to tell you, that tie was not-”

“And just last night you freaked out all through the previews because you enthusiastically replied ‘You too!’ when the attendant told us to enjoy the show.”

“Are you trying to make me mad?” Ashido glowered. “Because you’re making me mad.”

“No,” Kaminari said. “We’re just trying to help you grow.”

“As a person,” Sero nodded sympathetically.

“Well the only thing that’s growing right now is my irritation.”

Sero let out a mournful sigh. “God, I want to make dick joke right now.”

“Why? Does Mina being mad at you turn you on?” Kaminari joked, but after a second he got a serious look on his face. “Wait. Does Mina being mad at you turn you on?”

“No. No, no, no, no,” Sero backpedaled immediately, flushing a deep red that went all the way down his neck. “It’s because she said something was growing-”

“Is it because of Ashido?” Uraraka voiced. “Or would any girl who is mad at you turn you on?”

Ashido burst out laughing, her previous bad mood all but evaporated at the sight of Sero’s flabbergasted face.

“I- No, she- Can we just- Eijirou!” Sero shouted, obviously trying to change the subject as Kirishima attempted to slink away. “What are your plans for the day?”

Kirishima wasn’t exactly in the mood to be around anyone, but he couldn’t really just say that to his friends; they’re not exactly people who let things go. But since he didn’t have an excuse to decline whatever they had planned, Kirishima started to psych himself up for whatever it was they were about to suggest.

“And I’m telling you right now that it is a Sunday and if you say you are going to work out-”

“Yes! Working out!” Kirishima shouted, reeling back his excitement at having an activity he knew nobody would want to join. “Uh, I mean. Working out. Training. Is my plan. Today. I planned to work out today.”

He shot them a wide smile for good measure.

“Uh huh,” Ashido said, staring at him doubtfully before shrugging and popping a slice of the now peeled tangerine into her mouth. Her face immediately scrunched up in disgust as she shoved the rest back into Kaminari’s hand, who just looked excited that he no longer had to peel it himself. “Sour! Oh lord, that is sour!”

“Working out, huh?” Uraraka said as she eyed him suspiciously. “Is it alright if I join you?”

***

Kirishima should have known something was up when he hadn’t heard from Uraraka for a few minutes. They were the only two in the weight room and it was suspiciously quiet from where she should have been doing her own reps. Before he could put any more thought into it, the bar in his hand suddenly went weightless, flying out of his hands and slamming up into the ceiling.

“Raka!” Kirishima shouted over the bubbling laughter from behind him. “Will you please stop doing that!”

“I’m sorry, Kiri!” Uraraka said, her cheeks puffed out as she tried to hold back her laugh. “You just always go so hard, ya know? You really capture the spirit of Plus Ultra!”

Kirishima just sighed, laying back down on the bench with his eyes closed as his heart slowed to a normal pace.

Uraraka could be heard jumping up and down as she tried to grab the bar to rerack it and safely release her quirk. “Kiriiiii,” she whined after about a minute with no results.

“What?” Kirishima asked.

“I’m gonna be siiiiick.”

“If that weight is enough to make you sick, you need to train more,” Kirishima replied heartlessly.

“We’ve been working out for hooooouuurrss.”

“And? What do you want me to do about it?”

“Heeeelp meeeee.”

“Give me one good reason why I should help.”

“Because you have no other choice?” she offered, her voice a bit closer to Kirishima than it had been a second ago. His eyes shot open when he felt her hand on his shoulder, giving him less than a second to prepare for the queasy feeling that always accompanied her quirk.

Kirishima couldn’t help himself from laughing as he started floating away, though it was mostly at Uraraka’s expense. “So you’re too sick to get the bar yourself but you suddenly have enough strength to lift me?”

To Uraraka’s credit, her face was looking a little green as she shot Kirishima a determined smile.

But Kirishima wasn’t going to let her win that easily. He was comfortable enough with the weightlessness due the various times they’ve trained and teamed up together that all he did was start drifting around aimlessly. “Just because I’m up here doesn’t mean I’m going to help,” he said smugly.

“You’re so stubborn!” Uraraka exclaimed.

“My quirk and IQ aren’t the only reason they call me a rock,” Kirishima winked, doing his best to shoot her finger guns without sending himself spiraling through the air. The room was large enough on its own but with the ceiling as high as it was there were not exactly a lot of things he could grab ahold of.

“I would be careful with the jokes if I were you,” Uraraka threatened, steepling her fingers dangerously close to each other. “I wouldn’t want our friendship to suddenly be on the rocks.”

“You’ve officially hit rock bottom threatening me like that.”

“Let’s rock and roll then, baby!”

“What exactly is going on in here?” Bakugou asked, far enough into the room that it was embarrassing they hadn’t noticed him sooner.

Kirishima was only able to see a small glimpse of green hair behind Bakugou before Uraraka let out a yelp, releasing her quirk in surprise and sending both the bar and Kirishima falling straight down. She was close enough to the bar that she could use her quirk on it before it could cause any more damage, but Kirishima wasn’t that lucky.

Before he could even begin to brace himself for the impact though, Kirishima heard a small explosion and released his own quirk right as he felt two strong arms scoop him out of the air.

“Idiots,” Bakugou’s voice rumbled, almost fondly.

Kirishima could feel Bakugou’s arms shaking slightly and the smell of burnt sugar was nearly overwhelming at this distance. “Are you okay?” he asked, pushing gently against Bakugou’s chest to let him know he could put him down.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Bakugou grunted, though the way he winced as he set Kirishima down gave away more than he probably wanted to.

A quick glance towards Midoriya showed he was in almost the exact same state of exhaustion. Uraraka had moved to his side and was examining a bruise that was already starting to color on his check, giving it a gentle kiss as both a greeting and a comfort.

A spike of jealousy pulsed through Kirishima at the sight.

“You done with your work out?” Bakugou asked, snapping him out of it.

“I was planning on a few laps around the pool to cool down.”

“You’ll probably drown like a rock if you’re left unsupervised,” Uraraka teased from where she was currently gathering her bag and water bottle.

“Please,” Bakugou scoffed. “That joke could only be considered funny during the stone age.”

Uraraka froze, staring at Bakugou for a solid three seconds before bursting out into laughter. “No!” she lamented, throwing her arms up in the air. “I never even thought to stray from the ‘rock’ format! I’ve missed out on so many opportunities!”

“It’s alright if you’ve run out already,” Bakugou said, looking incredibly smug. “I’m sure you can think of a few more before you’re confined to a rock-ing chair.”

“Don’t take me for granite, Katsuki.”

“You know, you really should be a bit boulder with your threats.”

“Alright,” Midoriya said as he started to steer Uraraka out of the weight room. “I think that’s our cue to leave. Thanks for today, Kacchan.”

“Don’t thank me for beating the shit out of you, you fucking nerd,” Bakugou growled out with no real malice. Kirishima’s reflexive scolding was lost as Bakugou continued, “And make sure to keep your hands to yourself next time, Ura-rock-a.”

Midoriya was quicker than Uraraka, picking her up as she lunged for the blonde. “I’m going to erode you with these hands if you’re not careful!” Uraraka shouted as she flipped Bakugou off.

“Good! I’ve been itching for a concrete fight!” Bakugou shouted back, answering Uraraka’s middle finger with his own. Kirishima’s eyes narrowed when he saw the slight tremor in Bakugou’s arm at the simple action.

“We’ll see you later,” Midoriya bid farewell to Kirishima and Bakugou as he casually carried Uraraka away, the rock-based threats she continued to yell severely undercut by the laughter she had to fight through to even get them out in the first place.

“Heh. She knows more about rocks than I thought she would,” Bakugou said as he turned to Kirishima, though the smirk quickly slipped off his face once he saw Kirishima staring intently at him. “What?”

“Give me your hands,” Kirishima said, leaving no room for argument.

“I’m fine,” Bakugou grumbled, though he put no real effort into stopping Kirishima from guiding him to the closest bench and pulling one of his arms into his lap.

“Anything in particular I should be focusing on?”

Bakugou shook his head. “I said I’m fine,” he murmured, leaning closer once Kirishima started massaging his thumbs firmly into the palm of Bakugou’s hand. His eyes had drifted shut, so Kirishima was free to let his own roam, looking for any open wounds he may need to patch up. Due to their competitive relationship, Bakugou and Midoriya had a tendency to leave each other battered and bruised with no intention of going to the infirmary, so it was usually up to their friends to force treatment on the two of them themselves.

“Looks like you guys may have overdone it today,” Kirishima commented instead, hoping for at least a roundabout answer on where Bakugou was hurting the most.

“Bastard disabled my gauntlets halfway through,” Bakugou replied, finally giving Kirishima a better idea of where to direct his ministrations. He may not be able to kiss the pain away like Uraraka could, but that didn’t mean he would stand around and do nothing. The soft whines of protest every time Kirishima would remove his hands to focus on another area let Kirishima know he was doing a good job and he couldn’t help the smug feeling in his chest when Bakugou practically fell asleep in his lap.

Though Bakugou half-heartedly told him he could stop every few minutes, they stayed that way for a while. A small group of first years interrupted them at some point, but the look of pure, unadulterated fear on their faces and profuse apologies once they saw who was occupying the weight room were enough for Bakugou to forgive the intrusion.

The walk back to their dorms was comfortably quiet and Kirishima was not entirely surprised when Bakugou beat him out of the showers to cook lunch for the two of them. They spent the rest of the afternoon holed up in Bakugou’s room, watching tv with only the barest hint of work being done.

Today, like every other day, provided Kirishima with the type of domesticity he had grown to crave. And with graduation looming ever closer, Kirishima knew these days were numbered. Even if they were to stay in the same area once they became Pros, he highly doubted that Bakugou would want to shackle himself down with a roommate so soon after gaining freedom from school and parents alike. And if his relationship with Camie continued…

Kirishima shook his head, banishing thoughts of future unknowns to focus on the present, which just so happened to be a pouty-looking Bakugou intent on removing a series of stickers from his notebook.

“Did you know about this?” Bakugou questioned, raising his notebook to show the colorful array of sparkling cartoon characters littered across the front.

Trying to hide his amusement, Kirishima ducked behind his own notebook. “No.”

“Who was it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Kirishima said nonchalantly.

“Ei,” Bakugou barked, yanking Kirishima’s notebook out of his hand and throwing it across the room.

“Hey!” Kirishima exclaimed as he watched it hit the wall and slide behind the dresser.

“Tell me who it was,” Bakugou demanded.

“A hero never tells!” Kirishima shouted as he rolled and bounced to his feet, slamming the door open and shutting it behind him before Bakugou could reach him. He was already across the hallway and halfway down the first flight of stairs when he heard the door slam open and Bakugou’s voice screaming after him.

“You’re protecting cowards!”

Kirishima narrowly avoided slamming into Kaminari and Jirou, who were already on their way up the stairs.

“Hey, man,” Jirou said, looking at Kirishima with an unimpressed look on her face. “Where are you going in such a hurry? We were just coming to see if you guys wanted to…” She trailed off as her eyes shifted to Bakugou standing at the top of the stairs, notebook in hand.

Bakugou slowly brought up his hand to point at her. “You,” he growled out, cocking his head dangerously.

“Ah,” Jirou said with a slight nod. “I see.”

And with that she pushed Kaminari towards Bakugou and leapt down the stairs, trailing after Kirishima as they both ran laughing through the common room and out the door.

Chapter Text

It was already approaching nine o’clock on a weeknight and Kirishima was the only one on the first floor. Bakugou had finally texted him about ten minutes ago that he was on his way back and Kirishima was now standing aimlessly in the kitchen as he tried to decide what to make for dinner since he assumed Bakugou hadn’t had the chance to eat. Finally deciding on something simple, Kirishima was just starting to prep the veggies when Kaminari hopped up onto the counter across from him. 

“If you’re making extra for Bakugou, don’t bother,” Kaminari said as he pulled down a bag of chips and started munching on them.

“You don’t have to steal his food if you want some,” Kirishima said with a laugh. “I just started so I can add extra if you want.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Kaminari replied hungrily as he patted his belly. “But I also meant don’t bother making him food because he had a date tonight.”

“Really?” Kirishima questioned suspiciously. “And how do you know that?”

Kaminari brought up his phone to show a picture of Bakugou and Camie sitting outside a high-end restaurant. They were both dressed up, Camie in a little black dress and Bakugou in dark trousers and a button-up shirt that Kirishima didn’t recognize. Camie’s hand was resting lightly on Bakugou’s forearm, curled almost protectively around it as Bakugou glared at the waiter who was taking their order.

“Did you not see the picture Mina sent?”

“No,” Kirishima said flatly, remembering he had seen a text come through about two hours ago but he had immediately deleted it when he saw it had come from Ashido, which was basically standard practice ever since the competition had started.

“Fancy place, huh?” Kaminari observed, as usual failing to see Kirishima’s lack of interest in talking about Bakugou and Camie. “You think it was an anniversary or something?”

Though Kirishima had a hard time believing they had been together long enough to have a significant anniversary, he answered with a tight, “Yeah, maybe.”

“Camie definitely seems like the kind of girlfriend who likes nice things,” Kaminari continued. “I bet Blasty’s gotta get her flowers and jewelry for every date.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Kirishima answered flatly again. He sat staring at the sink for a few moments, willing down his irritation and trying to decide whether he should even continue cooking or not. He could always just make himself something small if Bakugou wasn’t hungry, but it was already so late that if Bakugou did want to eat when he got back they wouldn’t be eating until closer to ten. After a silent debate with himself, Kirishima figured he would rather be safe than sorry and started chopping the carrots with only a little bit more force than needed.

Finally showing some self-awareness that Kirishima hadn’t seen in a very long time, Kaminari ducked out of the kitchen with a promise to come back if Kirishima needed any help.

After about twenty minutes of silently stewing, Kirishima nearly jumped out of his skin when a giant bag was tossed loudly onto the table.

“Thank fuck you’re almost done,” Bakugou said as he sank into one of the chairs.

“You hungry?” Kirishima asked cautiously.

“Yeah,” Bakugou grunted as he ran a hand through his hair. “Haven’t eaten since lunch and I’m starving.”

“That’s good. I was a little worried because I thought you…,” Kirishima trailed off, not knowing how to bring up the fact that he knew Bakugou was out with Camie without tipping him off about the contest. “Had dinner plans?”

“I mean, yeah, the recon tonight was at this swanky ass restaurant. But why would I eat that garbage when I knew it was your turn to cook?” Bakugou said as he waltzed into the kitchen and stole a piece of cabbage straight from the pan. “Besides, it’s not like it would have mattered. Camie blew through our money before she was even done with appetizers. I was lucky to get a freakin’ drink out of the whole ordeal. What a waste of time.”

Kirishima thought it would be best if he just kept his mouth shut and let Bakugou rant. If Kirishima remembered correctly, the agency Bakugou was interning for had been tasked with gathering intelligence on a new drug that was working its way through the city. Fatgum had given him a vague update a few weeks ago, though it had mainly just been so Kirishima could keep an eye out as there hadn’t been any huge incidents in their district yet.

“I swear to god, every fucking time we get partnered up I tell her not to, but does she listen to me? No, of course not! She just does her own thing and orders everything off the goddamn menu,” Bakugou grumbled. “And then I’m the one that gets yelled at when our expenses are ten times more than everyone else’s.”

Kirishima felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders as he listened to Bakugou, both at the relief that what Ashido had photographed was not an actual date and the general satisfaction he always had when Bakugou decided to share the events of his day.

“-and when our bill rang up to 15000 yen she had the audacity to just shrug and say that the dealer wouldn’t approach us if we looked like we were just a couple of kids who stole money out of their parents wallets.”

“So did you get the information you needed, then?” Kirishima asked, to which Bakugou gave a frustrated pout. “I’ll take that as a yes,” he laughed.

“You’ll take that as an I don’t want to talk about it,” Bakugou grumbled as he stood up to help get the table set. “Plates or bowls?”

“I’ll take a plate but Denki usually prefers a bowl,” Kirishima said as he carried the steaming pot of rice over the table.

“Who gives a shit what he prefers?”

“Uh, maybe because he made food for me?” Kaminari answered as he walked into the kitchen.

“No, he made food for me,” Bakugou corrected. “But I guess you can have my table scraps.”

Kaminari turned to give Kirishima an incredulous look as Bakugou shuffled to grab a bowl for him, albeit with a lot of cursing under his breath, jabbing his thumb in Bakugou’s direction in a quizzical manner.

“Don’t worry, Denki,” Kirishima said instead of answering his obvious question. “I made enough for you too.”

“Thanks?” Kaminari replied, drawing the word out as he sat down and continued to stare at Bakugou.

“What?” Bakugou bit out as he thrust the bowl into Kaminari’s hands.

“Nothing,” he replied, quickly glancing away and busying himself with getting food. Despite the awkwardness at the beginning, Kaminari had taken over the majority of the conversation while they ate so it didn’t come as much of a shock when he suddenly slammed his hand down on the table. “Oh, Blasty! That reminds me! Kyoka’s parents are getting us into this sold out concert tomorrow night. Are you and Camie busy?”

“Why the fuck do you guys keep inviting her to everything?”

“Don’t be mad that we like your girlfriend more than you,” Denki teased.

“Then invite her on your own time,” Bakugou stated bluntly. “I see enough of her at work.”

There it was. The official title of girlfriend. It had been thrown out into the world by Kaminari and Bakugou hadn’t even batted an eye.

Kirishima hadn’t realized until just that moment how much he had been holding out hope that this whole situation was all just some huge misunderstanding. That, once Bakugou found out about it, he would call them all dumbasses for thinking they were dating in the first place. And then he would call them all dumbasses because it wasn’t any of their business if they had been dating.

Kirishima tuned out of the conversation, too wrapped up in his own head to even care about what was going on around him. In fact, he hadn’t even realize that he’d been asked a question until he felt a gentle kick on the side of his chair.

“Yo, Kiri,” Kaminari said, waving his hand in front of Kirishima’s face.

“Sorry,” Kirishima said, plastering on a smile. “What were you saying?”

“I asked if you are going with us tomorrow night.”

“Oh. Well. Tonight’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Kirishima deflected. He didn’t really want to go, especially if Camie was going to be there, but he couldn’t exactly use that as an excuse.

“And?” Kaminari followed up.

Kirishima shrugged. “It could be fun.”

“But are you going to go?” Kaminari demanded.

Kirishima could feel his defenses start to rise at Kaminari’s accusatory tone, but he was saved from having to answer when Bakugou’s phone started ringing.

With the amount of times it went off and the way Bakugou just stared dead-eyed at the screen, Kirishima assumed it was a call, but after the buzzing went on way longer than a call would have he quickly realized it was a series of texts.

“Why did you even ask me if you already talked to her?” Bakugou asked as he tossed his phone onto the table in disgust.

Kaminari started to laugh but he cut himself off as the phone continued to buzz every few seconds. “That’s Camie? Are you serious?”

Bakugou leveled him with a cool stare.

“Talk about excessive.”

“That’s not really the word I’d use,” Bakugou growled out, spearing a piece of meat on his plate.

When his phone finally quieted down for at least thirty seconds and Bakugou made no move towards it, Kaminari just stared at him. “Aren’t you gonna…text her back?”

Bakugou made a huge production of grabbing his phone, lazily scrolling through all the messages from Camie, and then typed a single word before tossing his phone back onto the table. Kaminari and Kirishima both watched with fascinated horror as the phone started buzzing once again, vibrating enough to move it several inches towards the edge of the table, almost as if the phone had taken after its owner so much that the entire situation had made it suicidal.

Knowing it was in his best interest to get the attention off of himself, Kaminari turned towards Kirishima. “So you’re coming with us, right?”

***

Kirishima wasn’t surprised that “handsy” was the sole defining trait Todoroki had remembered about Camie.

While it felt a little hypocritical to be annoyed with someone abusing personal space, Kirishima had to constantly remind himself not to activate his quirk throughout the entire night while she was around. The train ride to the venue had been torture with her pressed up against his chest, grazing his arm every time she would adjust her hair, and it only got worse as the night progressed. Whether it was a tap on the shoulder to get his attention, or a lingering hand on the small of his back as she leaned in to hear him over the music, Kirishima hadn’t gone more than five minutes without her touching him in some capacity. While it was maddening, he had to admit that this was still a better alternative than seeing her act this way with Bakugou.

Nevertheless, the relief at avoiding any displays of affection between the couple had the unfortunate consequence of one very angry Bakugou.

He must have been misreading Kirishima’s attempts at friendliness as something else because it didn’t take long before he started physically putting himself between Kirishima and Camie, shooting daggers at the both of them any time they happened to speak to one another. Kirishima would have laughed but he just couldn’t find the energy. Instead, he decided it would be best to extract himself from their small group and went to join Tetsutetsu and Kendou as they stood in line for drinks.

They had been waiting for over ten minutes already, chatting about one thing or another the best that they could over the music, when they saw Bakugou cut a swath through the crowd as he stomped away.

“Will you stop brooding for one second?” Camie yelled out as she ran after Bakugou. “I already said I was sorry!”

Tetsutetsu let out a low whistle. “Trouble in paradise?” he joked awkwardly.

“Looks like it,” Kirishima said with a grimace.

He followed after them without a thought, knowing he had undoubtedly played a large role in their fight. It didn’t take long for him to lose them in the crowd, which was probably for the best since he had no idea what he would even say if he found them. And since he wasn’t exactly in the mood to go out of his way to help the couple with their relationship woes, he was just about to head back to the line when he heard Bakugou’s booming voice from around the corner.

“No.”

“You can’t just say no and then not follow it up with an explanation,” Camie immediately countered.

“Watch me,” Bakugou said with a toothy grin, though it was more him baring his teeth than an actual smile.

The competitive part of Kirishima itched to snap a picture right then and there. He knew that nobody else would be able to tell how fake Bakugou’s smile was and he was sure the picture would help keep him in the number one spot, though he had no idea the quality of the pictures everyone else had been taking since he would immediately delete them. However, the more reasonable part of Kirishima knew that Ashido would never leave him alone if he actually started participating in the contest. Besides, he quickly lost his opportunity once Camie started talking again and the threatening smile slowly slipped off Bakugou’s face, replaced with a condescending look as she said, “Wow. You are, like, such a guy, did you know that?”

“And you are, like, such an idiot,” Bakugou replied mockingly, moving to go past her since he clearly hadn’t realized this was a dead-end. Camie stepped in front of him, making it impossible for him to get past. “Why are you even pushing this so hard?”

“Because it physical hurts me to see you act like this,” Camie answered. “If you just sucked up your pride for one minute to have an actual conversation about your feelings-”

“It’s a waste of time,” Bakugou waved off with an irritated, and possibly embarrassed, look on his face.

“What’s a waste of time?” Camie asked with her hands on her hips now. “Having ‘The Talk’? Or your feelings in general?”

This seemed like a conversation that would probably be hard to continue if it was interrupted and, since Kirishima had only followed them so he could try and apologize for his part in their fight, he was about to leave when Bakugou’s answer made him pause.

“We’re both happy the way things are right now, so why waste everyone’s time talking about it,” Bakugou said, though his hands jammed in his pockets told a different story.

“Actions are louder than words, B,” Camie tutted. “And right now you’re not acting very happy.”

“I don’t need to act happy to be happy.”

“That right there is a perfect example of what I’m trying to say!” Camie shouted, not the least bit ruffled by Bakugou’s attitude. “Your actions are too reserved. If you just-”

Bakugou threw back his head and barked out a laugh. “Reserved? I had no idea you even knew the meaning of that word,” he said with a pointed look towards Camie’s attire. She was wearing skintight jeans with a shirt that was just as form fitting, both garments valiantly attempting to keep her from being arrested for public indecency.

“Oh honey,” Camie tutted, taking the insult in stride and going so far as to push out her chest even more as she crossed her arms into a cocky stance. “I thought you had red eyes, not green.”

“First of all, fuck you,” Bakugou said while Camie just snorted. “And second of all, fuck you! I’ve got no reason to be jealous.”

Bakugou’s anger was almost commendable at this point since his eyes never strayed from Camie’s face, including when the small shrug that emphasized her chest distracted even Kirishima for a few seconds. “If you had just worn the shirt and jeans I told you to, you wouldn’t be afraid of a little competition.”

“You think I’m afraid of those monstrosities you flaunt instead of a personality?” Bakugou quipped. “And stop trying to punish me just because I don’t want to be treated like your damn Barbie doll.”

“You know,” Camie said, holding back a snicker. “It’s kind of telling that you went with Barbie when there is such a thing as a Ken doll.”

“I’m not some dickless cuck.”

“You sure about that?”

Kirishima had seen enough to realize that, while it had started out as a legitimate fight, this conversation had somehow turned into some sort of weird foreplay for the couple. So he did the only thing he was capable of at the moment and walked away, mumbling some vague excuse to Kendou as he left. He knew she would let the rest of the group know that he was headed out, which was one less worry on Kirishima’s mind as he kept walking out of the venue and off into the night.

Again.

How had this happened again?

Kirishima had thought he had come to terms with Bakugou and Camie’s relationship. Had foolishly believed that he was strong enough to handle the pain that came from the secondhand rejection. There had always been a voice in the back of his head reminding him of the hopelessness of wanting a relationship with his best friend. Only now that voice was even louder, buoyed by the fact that Bakugou was already in a relationship with someone Kirishima could never compare to.

And Kirishima knew this was only the beginning. If he wanted to keep Bakugou in his life he was going to need to prepare himself to see much more than some casual flirting. If this was going to work, Kirishima knew he would need to get rid of any and all romantic feelings he had for his best friend.

How hard could that be?

Chapter Text

Following the age-old advice of out of sight, out of mind, Kirishima decided that his best solution was to distance himself from Bakugou. This should have been easy considering how busy they both were with work and school, but it wasn’t until now that Kirishima realized just how interwoven their lives had become. They ate all of their meals together, walked to class and internships when their schedules coincided, they had somehow even put themselves on the same schedule for brushing their teeth!

And while Kirishima would argue that he was pulling away at a healthy and acceptable pace, it look less than a day for Bakugou to wise up to his little disappearing act. But because he was…well, you know…Bakugou, the matter was left mostly unspoken with the two of them locked in a silent struggle.

Which Bakugou won most of the time.

Because of course Bakugou won! Kirishima wasn’t exactly thrilled over the prospect of cutting him out of his life, even if it was in both of their best interests. It also didn’t hurt that it felt nice to be pampered with that aggressive affection that Bakugou was best known for.

It seemed like no matter how much Kirishima tried to pull away, Bakugou would go out of his way to reel him back in. If he left for class without him in the morning, Bakugou would be at his side the second the lunch bell rang so he couldn’t sneak away. If he chose someone else to spar with during their hero courses, Kirishima would always find an ice cold bottle of water and some sort of snack left in his locker afterwards. It even got to the point where Bakugou was spending time in Kirishima’s room despite his prior, and ongoing, protests regarding décor and the general smell of the place.

Pretty much everything that Bakugou did was amazing and wonderful and made Kirishima feel so incredibly loved and appreciated…

And it was driving him crazy.

How was he supposed to move towards a purely platonic relationship when everything the bastard did made Kirishima fall more in love with him?

He was confident he could have made the situation work if he had been able to find any sort of refuge with his friends, but they were somehow even worse to be around. The fact that the contest was still in its early stages meant that it was anyone’s game and it was honestly shocking that Bakugou hadn’t found out already with how unsubtle everyone was being.

Sero and Hagakure were probably the most aggressive of the lot, subtly grilling Bakugou throughout the day about Camie, asking innocent enough questions that they wouldn’t draw attention to the fact that they were gathering information on where they could “stumble” across the two of them while they were on a date. Kaminari seemed to have come to the conclusion that, while he may not be able to win, he could still have a part in it by keeping everyone up to date on the couple’s coming-and-goings. And Kirishima had no idea if Camie’s surprise guest appearances at their group outings could still be considered a “surprise” anymore since she seemed to be invited to more events than he was these days.

It wasn’t that Kirishima was hiding from the situation. He knew that Bakugou and Camie were dating, and for the most part he welcomed the reminder, but it was tiring to be around people who seemed to have only one topic of conversation these days. His only saving grace was that Mineta seemed to be just as irritated as he was and was incredibly more vocal about it.

“Can you just shut up about this stupid competition already?” Mineta complained after Sero and Ashido had been arguing for the past fifteen minutes over the scoring system. “I don’t even know why you’re so passionate about it, dude. From what I’ve heard, you’ve taken, like, two pictures compared to Ashido’s billion.”

“Exactly!” Sero ranted. “Because it’s the quality of the picture that should matter! Quality over quantity!”

“If we’re going by quality than I should be in the lead,” Mineta boldly claimed.

“Oh dear,” Aoyama said with a horrified look on his face. “Are you actually playing?”

“No, he’s not. All he does is send and demand pictures of Camie.” Sero paused. “And only Camie.”

“See! That’s quality right there! Cut out Bakugou and suddenly all of your pictures are amazing!”

“But if you guys are going by quality that would put Kirishima in the lead,” Ojiro pointed out, ignoring Mineta altogether.

“But he has only taken the one picture!” Hagakure cried from where she was tucked under his arm. “That’s not fair!”

“Yeah, well, it is the only one where Blasty is actually smiling,” Jirou confirmed. “I’ve gotta say I’m with Hanta on this one.”

“No, I’m saying that I should be in the lead,” Sero said as he pointed at himself. “Not Eiji.”

Jirou shrugged. “Then I’m with Ojiro on this one.”

“This is unbelievable,” Sero complained.

“I actually would like a little bit of clarification,” Kaminari said. “Is the main goal of this competition to get a picture of Blasty smiling, or are we just trying to get good pictures of him and his girlfriend together? Because, once again, Eijirou is the only one who has actually been able to snap a picture of the elusive creature that is Bakugou’s genuine smile.”

“So we all agree, then?” Jirou said. “Eijirou is still in the lead?”

Kirishima wished he could take more pride in that accomplishment, but he knew that the only reason Bakugou had been smiling in the first place was because of Camie. He had just been in the right place at the right time, objectively speaking. It stung to admit, but he had wasted enough time raking through his own pictures of the two of them together to find another one of Bakugou smiling only to realize that there just wasn’t one.

“You’re awfully quiet over there, Eijirou,” Ashido said with a pointed glare.

“I just think that this whole thing is a waste of time," Kirishima responded. “Don’t you, Mina?”

She didn’t push the issue any further, rolling her eyes instead and turning away from him, a sure sign that she was irritated.

But so was Kirishima.

He had done everything in his power to remove himself from the situation without being rude. He was man enough to admit that he had been terrified about his friends asking why; he wasn’t exactly a good liar so he know he would have to eventually tell them the truth if they asked. But that just seemed to add another layer of absurdity onto this already ridiculous situation.

Because nobody had asked.

Sure, questioning looks had been cast his way, especially after one disastrous excuse that involved a family friend’s non-existent pet iguana, but for the most part his friends ignored his aloofness. Kirishima didn’t know which was worse; the idea that his friends hadn’t noticed his discomfort at all, or that they had noticed and just didn’t care.

Slowly but surely, Kirishima started to pull away from them in the same way he was attempting to do with Bakugou. Last minute cancellations, hastily thrown together excuses, and a general absence from the dorms were quickly added to Kirishima’s arsenal of defense.

He knew it wasn’t a permanent solution, but it was the only one he had at the moment. And besides, it’s not like this would have long-term effects, right?

***

Kirishima was lying on his back, staring blankly up at the ceiling in his room like he had been doing for the last two hours already. There was a throbbing pain in his chest from where Unbreakable had shattered earlier that night, the scabs from his untreated wound catching painfully on the loose fibers of his shirt every time he took in a breath. 

Maybe I should just stop breathing altogether.

Kirishima forced himself to sit up before his thoughts could start meandering down that familiar path. His knees and shoulder decided that this was the perfect opportunity to voice their complaints as well, protesting loudly at the simple movement, and Kirishima groaned pathetically as he tried to catch his breath. On top of it all, his stomach grumbled angrily, reminding him that he had not eaten since yesterday morning either.

“Come on, man,” Kirishima mumbled to himself as he got ready to head downstairs, fighting off the wave of dizziness that hit him once he actually stood up. “Gotta take care of yourself, you idiot.”

It took him what felt like ten years to shamble into the kitchen and once he did he just stared at the fridge, unable to muster up the strength to cook even the most basic of meals. In the end he went with a protein bar from the cabinet, not even registering the taste as he chewed and swallowed it down with some lukewarm water.

Scenes from earlier that night replayed in his mind as he sat in the dark kitchen and he knew he needed a distraction. But it was two o’clock in the morning and there was nothing he wanted to do. Nothing he could do. He was useless. And he would always be useless.

Kirishima stood up abruptly, pain carrying the intrusive thoughts away as quickly as they had come. A good workout. That’s what would break him out of this funk. He may not be much, but he knew he was strong.

Or so he had thought.

Kirishima’s knees buckled out from underneath him, sending him to the floor of the weight room before he could let out a cry of pain. He hadn’t even been able to properly set up a bar before his body had given out on him.

Who was he kidding? The only thing he had going for him was that he was dumb muscle. He could be used in place of collateral damage, the perfect bait to catch the villains. That’s the only reason Fatgum kept him around, right? And he had still failed him last night.

“Eijirou, are you in here?”

Kirishima flinched at the loud voice, biting down the whine that threatened to slip out at how much pain that simple action had caused. He lay perfectly still, not wanting to draw attention to himself as Bakugou waited for an answer.

“Dammit,” Bakugou muttered after a few moments.

Kirishima could hear a little bit of rustling coming from around the door and he hoped Bakugou would leave before he noticed him on the floor.

“He’s not in the weight room either.”

It wasn’t a question, but that didn’t stop Kirishima from hearing the silent demand in Bakugou’s voice. When he didn’t hear an immediate reply Kirishima came to the realization that Bakugou had actually called someone.

“No,” Bakugou continued after a long pause. “Already checked there.”

Another long pause.

“No, I’m not,” Bakugou said in a tight voice. “There was blood in his room and now I can’t find him anywhere. Fuck me for being worried, I guess.”

Dammit. Kirishima couldn’t remember what he had done with his uniform, but it sounded like Bakugou had found it.

“I don’t know. Around midnight,” Bakugou continued, getting increasingly irritated with the person on the other end of the phone call.

Odd.

It almost sounded like Bakugou had actually stayed up waiting for Kirishima to get home.

“I didn’t get the chance. He went straight to- Are you gonna help or just interrogate me? Fuck.”

The door to the weight room slammed open and shut again as Bakugou finally left, his voice fading down the hallway as he continued to argue with the mystery caller.

Kirishima let out a breath of air he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He knew he would need to move eventually, but right now all he wanted to do was let the floor swallow him whole as he worked himself up into a respectable brood.

It was no wonder Bakugou had never shown any interest in him. Even if he wasn’t dating Camie, Bakugou would want to be with someone who could keep up with him. Someone who didn’t drag him out of bed this early in the morning due to an injury that would have easily been avoided by someone stronger.

Someone quicker.

Someone smarter.

“Eijirou? Fuck! Eijirou!”

Kirishima didn’t even jump this time, too far gone in the pain and misery to even be surprised.

“Ei, are you okay?” Bakugou’s voice filtered through the throbbing agony as he was gently turned onto his back. “What happened? What’s wrong?”

“Oh, hey Katsuki,” Kirishima greeted indifferently, refusing to meet Bakugou’s eyes.

“Fuck,” Bakugou said, the distress in his voice confusing. “You’re bleeding.”

Kirishima looked down to see that the giant scab on his chest had indeed split open and the front of his shirt was covered in blood. “Huh.”

“Okay, asshole,” Bakugou said as he got his arm underneath Eijirou and moved to stand them both up. “Let’s get you to the infirmary and-”

An undignified cry ripped through Kirishima at the sudden movement. It was clear from the pinched look on Bakugou’s face that he hadn’t meant to aggravate his injuries, but just the small action was enough to make Kirishima see stars.  

“Shit, Ei. I’m-”

“It’s fine,” Kirishima wheezed out as he turned away from Bakugou and curled tightly into a ball. “It’s fine. It’s just a crack. It’ll heal.”

“We’re going to Recovery Girl,” Bakugou stated with no room for argument. “Right now.”

“It’s fine. You don’t have to babysit me,” Kirishima said between pained breathes. “I can take care of myself.”

“I know you can,” Bakugou bit back through clenched teeth, his words coming out heated as worry and frustration stoked him in to a blazing fury. “But it’s usually not this much of a fucking fight when I try to help.”

“I’ll be fine tomorrow,” Kirishima tried to wave off.

“I want you to be fine right now,” Bakugou snapped, refusing to back down.

“Why?”

The question came out without Kirishima’s permission, sounding more pitiful than he would have ever allowed. A hiss escaped his lips as he got up on all fours, staring blankly at the smears of blood he had left on the floor before finally pulling himself to his feet.

“You should just go back to bed, Katsuki,” Kirishima said as he started to walk away, blinking rapidly to try and remove the black spots that were starting to cloud his vision. “I’ll be-”

Chapter Text

The voices around Kirishima were muffled as he slowly drifted back into consciousness. There was an underlying smell of disinfectant and he could feel the pressure of someone carefully wiping a cool cloth around the wound on his chest.

“…called a while ago and I was just about to send for Eraserhead,” Recovery Girl said from somewhere to his left.

“Did the asshole tell you why he let Eijirou come back looking like this?” Bakugou spat out. His voice came from right next to him, cluing Kirishima into the fact that he was most likely the one helping Recovery Girl dress his wounds. It was almost comical how his tone was in direct conflict with the gentleness of the action.

“The boy left the scene before Fatgum even saw him,” Recovery Girl said, the reprimand clear in her voice.

Kirishima tried to let them know he was awake but he found himself unable to move or speak. A haze of panic started to cloud his mind but it was quickly blown away with the warm breath of Bakugou’s huff across his arm, a firm reminder that Bakugou was here with him and that everything would be okay.

“And that didn’t clue him into the fact that something was wrong?”

“He obviously knew something was wrong or he would not have called me,” Recovery Girl said, her patience in the face of Bakugou’s belligerence admirable. “Now tell me, is this the first time he’s lost consciousness tonight?”

“Maybe one other time, but I don’t know for sure,” Bakugou said tightly.

Even with his eyes still closed, Kirishima could sense the tension in the room but he didn’t really understand it. Why was Bakugou so angry?

“He will be okay, Bakugou,” Recovery Girl said gently.

Without another retort from Bakugou, the room fell into silence.

After a few minutes, Kirishima could hear Recovery Girl shuffle over to his side. “Thank you for helping with that. You’ve done a wonderful job. The cuts along his arm should heal nicely enough, so all we’ll have to do is wrap up his chest. But before that, let me just…”

Kirishima jerked painfully as she pressed something ice cold against his skin, the shock enough to give him agency over his body once again.

“Oh good,” Recovery Girl said blithely as she stared down at him, stethoscope in her hand. “You’re awake. Can you tell me your name?”

Kirishima squinted his eyes as he tried to get used to the painfully bright lights above him. “Kirishima Eijirou.”

“What was the last thing you ate?”

“A protein bar,” Kirishima answered.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I couldn’t sleep so I…went to the weight room,” Kirishima said, knowing honesty was the best policy when it came to Recovery Girl.

Recovery Girl nodded. “And can you tell me where you are right now?”

“The infirmary.”

“Good, good,” Recovery Girl said. “Just a few more questions, I promise. Where is the infirmary in regards to the front entrance of the school?”

“Umm,” Kirishima said, raking his brain for an answer. “Just a few buildings down?”

“Correct. And would you say my office is closer to the dormitories than the weight room?”

Kirishima winced, already realizing where she was going with this line of questioning. “Yes.”

“Mmm,” she hummed. “Any particular reason why you decided not to come to me first?”

Kirishima tried to shrug but it was more of a twitch than anything else. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“And yet you hid it from both Fatgum and your classmates? Sounds to me like you knew exactly how bad it was,” Recovery Girl tutted, leaning down and smacking a kiss on his forehead before he could reply. Her quirk instantly started to mend the cuts, bruises, and cracks in Kirishima’s skin, followed closely by the deep set exhaustion that came with the rapid healing. “My services won’t be as readily available to you after you graduate,” she continued to lecture as she quickly and efficiently wrapped his chest in gauze. “Take advantage of it while you can.”

“Yes ma’am,” Kirishima said as he dutifully took the piece of hard candy she handed him and popped it in his mouth, resisting the urge to immediately crunch into it. “Thank you, ma’am.”

Recovery Girl sighed as she patted his cheek before turning towards Bakugou. “Can I trust you to get him back to his room safely?”

***

“Warm out tonight, isn’t it?” Kirishima said, trying desperately to get some kind of reaction out of Bakugou on their walk back to the dorms.

Like all prior attempts, Kirishima was met with complete silence.

Guilt piled impossibly heavier on his chest once they finally reached the dorms, Bakugou silently holding the front door open for him. Not really knowing what else to say, Kirishima murmured out a pathetic thank you. Taking a few steps towards the stairs, Kirishima was confused when the room was suddenly illuminated by the light from the refrigerator.

“Katsuki?” Kirishima said in a curious tone. “Class is in a few hours. Shouldn’t we be heading to bed?”

“We?”

The question came out forced, Bakugou’s voice surprisingly bitter.

Glad to finally get at least some kind of a response from Bakugou, even if it was aggressive, Kirishima nodded. “Yes, we. You haven’t slept yet, have you?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Bakugou answered dismissively as he sorted through the leftovers in the fridge.

“What, umm…,” Kirishima said as he cautiously stepped into the kitchen. “What are you doing?”

“You need to eat.”

“I’m fine,” Kirishima started to argue. “It’s already late and you have work tomorrow-”

“It doesn’t matter,” Bakugou said, more forcefully this time.

Knowing Bakugou wasn’t going to take no for an answer, Kirishima sat down hesitantly at one of the dining tables. “It matters to me,” he murmured softly, not expecting a reply.

A cabinet door slammed shut.

“Does it?” Bakugou bit out as he spun around. “Does it really? Because it sure as shit doesn’t feel like it.”

Kirishima didn’t move a muscle in the face of Bakugou’s anger.

Had it finally happened? Was Bakugou finally giving up on him? On their friendship? The realization shouldn’t have shocked him as much as it did since he knew that this is what needed to happen, but that didn’t stop it from hurting.

“I’ve tried to be patient, but I can’t do it anymore,” Bakugou continued, not realizing that every word he spoke was one more dagger thrust into Kirishima’s heart. “Do you have any idea what was going through my head when the only thing in your room was your uniform, soaked in blood? Or when I found you passed out in the weight room? I mean, for fuck’s sake, Ei, you’ve been pushing me away for weeks and you expect me to think that you still-”

Bakugou broke off, his knuckles white as his fingers dug into the palm of his hand. He stared vacantly at the wall while taking deep breathes, finally turning back around to finish putting together whatever leftovers he found suitable.

“It doesn’t matter.”

This was now the third time that Bakugou had said that, almost as if he had been repeating it like a mantra, over and over and over again in an ill-guided attempt to distance himself from the situation. A situation that Kirishima had only created because he hadn’t wanted to lose Bakugou.

And where had that gotten him? Bakugou was only a few feet away but Kirishima felt like he may as well have been on the other side of the world.

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima said, his voice trembling around the words.

“Stop,” Bakugou said, his voice devoid of all emotion as he set a bowl down in front of Kirishima. “I don’t want an apology.”

Kirishima thought about asking him what he did want, but he was pretty sure he already knew the answer to that question.

Bakugou wanted an explanation.

A reason.

Just any sort of clarification on what had happened between them.

It wasn’t until this moment that Kirishima realized just how much of a hypocrite he was. He had been keeping his friends at a distance because he was angry with them, hurt by their ignorance of his feelings, and yet that was exactly what he had been doing to Bakugou.

Kirishima started choking down his food one bite at a time – not because it was cooked improperly or tasted bad, but because of how tight his throat had become.

As much as everyone liked to joke that Bakugou was socially inept, he really wasn’t. He understood the basic principles of what a friendship needed to survive, he just rarely felt the need to put in the effort. But these last few weeks had shown that Bakugou was more than capable of putting in that effort when it came to Kirishima. Around every turn he had been there in his own way to remind him that he wasn’t alone. To offer him opportunities to talk about what was going on while still maintaining enough of a distance that Kirishima wouldn’t feel pressured.  It was the reason so many of his gifts has been left in his desk or locker. And why he hadn’t allowed Kirishima to fall behind with his studying.

It was the reason why Bakugou’s anger had only reared its familiar head after being fueled by a night filled with worry and panic.

“Come on,” Bakugou said gently as he helped Kirishima to his feet. “You need to get some sleep.”

Kirishima looked around in confusion, realizing that the food he had been eating was already cleared away from the table and the kitchen was clean. Having lost track of time, he blindly followed Bakugou up the stairs.

Fully expecting Bakugou to leave him once they finally got to their floor, Kirishima didn’t know what to think as they both stood outside Kirishima’s room.

Despite how well-deserved it would be, Kirishima was still so stupidly afraid of Bakugou leaving him when faced with the reality of the situation. Exhaustion was amplifying every thought in the worst possible way, making it difficult for him to think rationally, but Kirishima knew that if they were to part ways without resolving this than chances were they never would.

“Are you okay?” Bakugou asked quietly as the first couple seconds of watching Kirishima stare at the door handle stretched into a full minute.

“No,” Kirishima answered honestly for once. “I just…really don’t want to go through that door right now.”

“Then don’t.”

Kirishima let out a small laugh that was closer to a sob. “It’s not that simple, Katsuki.”

“Yes, it is,” Bakugou said as he pushed off the wall and went to his own room, opening the door and looking back towards Kirishima expectantly before going inside.

Knowing this was probably going to be his last chance to make things right, Kirishima trailed hesitantly behind him.

Bakugou was already shuffling things around on the bed with a sort of unwavering resolve that Kirishima did not want to interrupt. So instead he used the time to look around, feeling the need to refamiliarize himself with a space he hadn’t been in for what felt like forever. Nothing had changed, of course, but it helped towards calming his rampaging thoughts. Having been standing awkwardly near the door, Kirishima was startled when Bakugou suddenly grabbed his wrist, putting a halt to the way he had been distractedly rubbing a hand over his chest.

“Does it still hurt?”

Concern laced through Bakugou’s voice as his eyes tracked Kirishima from his head to his toes, looking for any signs of discomfort. Kirishima didn’t say anything as he stood there, watching through watery eyes and wondering why Bakugou was doing this. Why he even cared.

“Ei?” Bakugou questioned when Kirishima still hadn’t answered him. “Do we need to go back to Recovery Girl?”

Kirishima squeezed his eyes shut, willing away the tears that were threatening to fall.

 “Eijirou,” Bakugou said softly. “I really need you to talk to me, okay? Tell me what’s wrong. Or tell me to leave. Either way, I’ll listen.”

Too much. It was all too much for Kirishima to handle right now. He didn’t deserve this kindness. Didn’t deserve this special treatment.

“I’m tired, Katsuki,” Kirishima finally answered.

“I know,” Bakugou said, the words only slightly tinged with disappointment as he guided Kirishima towards the bed. “You can sleep in here, okay? I’m just going to move my stuff to the-”

Kirishima stubbornly planted his feet after the first few steps, jerking them both to a halt. “I’m tired of feeling weak. Tired of second guessing every single thing that I do and knowing that each decision I make is still somehow the wrong one. Because that’s all I ever do. Is make mistake. After mistake. After mistake.”

Bakugou’s eyes hardened. “You don’t-”

“And I know that you said you don’t want an apology, but I am sorry,” Kirishima continued, rambling now that he had finally started to talk. “I’m an idiot and I thought that pushing everyone away – pushing you away – would make it better. But it only made it worse. Because I’m just so fucking stupid.”

“Hey,” Bakugou said sharply. The pressure on his head abated as Bakugou softly removed the hands that had become painfully fisted in his own hair. “You are not stupid, Ei.”

“Yes, I am!” Kirishima cried, wrenching his hands away from Bakugou, unable to stomach the caring touch. “Just look at what happened tonight! I was supposed to be the distraction for Fatgum. That’s all I’m ever supposed to be. The distraction. Just dumb muscle that can take a beating.” He sat down on the edge of the bed, hanging his head in shame. “But I couldn’t even do that right.”

Bakugou kneeled down next to him. “You took down the bad guy, didn’t you?”

“No. I was bait for the bad guy,” Kirishima corrected as he shook his head. “Big difference.”

“You took down the bad guy,” Bakugou said, grabbing Kirishima’s face with both hands to stop him when he tried to shake his head once again. “Didn’t you?”

“Fatgum and the police took him down afterwards, but I-”

“Played an integral role in the apprehension of a villain,” Bakugou said with such surety that Kirishima was having a hard time doubting him. “Integral means essential, by the way,” he added after a short pause, squeezing Kirishima’s face. “Fundamental. Necessary to make something-”

An involuntary laugh bubbled out of Kirishima at the outrageousness of Bakugou’s version of a pep talk. “I know what it means.”

“Of course you do. Because you’re not stupid,” Bakugou said, leaving no room for argument. “And you should know how integral you are. How important you are. And that you are not just bait.”

“If any other hero had been there-”

“Then there would have been casualties, not your one injury,” he said firmly.

Kirishima didn’t speak as he stared at anything and everything in the room expect Bakugou.

“Give me your hand,” Bakugou demanded as he sat down next to him on the bed, reaching out and grabbing the one that was closest to him without waiting for a response.

Carefully, he turned Kirishima’s hand so the palm was facing up and gently poked his thumb.

“One,” he counted, moving on to Kirishima’s pointer finger. “Two,” he continued, slowly moving down the line. “three…four…five.”

Kirishima let out an exasperated sigh, hoping it would mask the way he shrugged a shoulder to wipe away the moisture on his cheeks. “What are you doing?”

“I need your other hand,” Bakugou said instead of answering his question, giving Kirishima a challenging glare until he relented and gave Bakugou his other hand so the counting could resume. “Six…seven…”

Kirishima didn’t attempt to interrupt again as he watched Bakugou diligently count each of his fingers. When he finally got to ten, he forced both of Kirishima’s hands closed before opening them again, repeating the action several times as he started counting in multiples of ten.

“Twenty…thirty…forty…fifty,” he calculated before focusing his attention back on Kirishima’s left hand. “Fifty-one…fifty-two…fifty-three.”

Bakugou looked up and said the last number again, staring at Kirishima expectantly.

“Fifty-three?” Kirishima repeated.

“Your dumb muscle,” Bakugou said, stressing the words to show how ridiculous he thought the idea was. “Saved fifty-three lives tonight.”

Kirishima immediately tried to pull his hands back. “I didn’t do anything-”

“Yes,” Bakugou said strongly, refusing to let go. “You did.”

“All I did was-”

“All you did was save the lives of fifty-three civilians,” Bakugou pressed. “Along with the lives of the other Pros and officers you were working with. You are important, Eijirou. You are strong. And smart. And I can’t speak for every other idiot that you work with, but when you have my back I know there is not a goddamn thing in this world that can take me down. You make me indestructible, Ei. Unbreakable.”

Kirishima didn’t stop the tears from falling this time. “Yeah?” he choked out.

“Yeah.”

Kirishima felt something break in his chest and he let out a single sob that quickly turned into more as Bakugou pulled him in close. He knew he should reject this comfort, but he didn’t want to. He lost himself to the sensation of fingers running up and down the length of his back, sinking even further into the embrace as he wrapped his arms around Bakugou with no intention of letting go.

Eventually the fingers slowed until they were merely resting near the small of Kirishima’s back, bunching up of the fabric of his shirt. Soft snores could be heard rumbling through Bakugou’s chest due to the awkward position they were in, but his eyes snapped open the second Kirishima tried to pull away.

“What are you doing?”

“I was going to get the lights,” Kirishima answered softly.

“No. Fuck you. I’ll get them.”

Kirishima chuckled as he lazily watched Bakugou slid out of bed and stumble towards the light switch, plunging the room into pre-dawn darkness. His body coming to the realization that they were finally going to get some much needed sleep, Kirishima blindly searched for another pillow but came up short.

“Katsuki,” Kirishima started to say only to be cut off as Bakugou slipped back into bed and pulled the covers over the both of them, shifting down to rest his head on Kirishima’s chest.

“What?” Bakugou asked as he sleepily glanced up, the sight making Kirishima’s heart flutter.

Realizing they wouldn’t need a second pillow after all, Kirishima answered with a breathless, “Never mind.”

“Whatever,” Bakugou huffed as he got comfortable once again and promptly passed out, leaving Kirishima with little choice but to follow him into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

It had been over three months since the competition had started and the appeal had thankfully started to die down. At this point, only a select few of their classmates were still participating, as evidenced by the fact that only Ashido, Kaminari, Sero, Hagakure, and, oddly enough, Midoriya remained in the group chat.

While Kirishima hated to admit it, his friendships with these individuals had become strained. They spent less time together than they had in the past, with neither group willing to reach out like they used to. Conversations became stilted, nights piled together in each other’s rooms disappeared, and there was an underlying tension in any and all interactions.

Ashido seemed to be the worst, intentionally bringing up the competition any time he was around and ignoring all attempts to change the subject as she tried to goad Kirishima into a response. It got to the point where he wouldn’t even enter a room if he knew she was there.

Things were at least back to normal with Bakugou, or as normal as they could be with him still smothering Kirishima in attention and gifts. Attempts had been made to figure out what was going on with Kirishima and the rest of their friend group, but he quickly dropped the subject after Kirishima eventually snapped at him to let it go. He may be frustrated with the situation, but it still seemed petty to tell Bakugou about the competition.

Besides, if he hadn’t figured it out by now, then it was his own fault.

“I don’t care that they’re still doing it,” Kirishima complained to Todoroki one day during lunch. “It’s just-”

With almost perfect timing, Kirishima received yet another picture of the couple, along with several accompanying texts about whether or not it should be disqualified because of “tampering” due to the hideous border of cartoon hearts and sparkles.

“Why do they have to keep adding me to the group chat?” Kirishima finished as he tossed his phone into his bag.

“You know,” Todoroki said calmly as he took another bite of his lunch. “When my family won’t leave me alone, I just turn my phone off altogether.”

What started off as an inelegant solution soon blossomed into a feeling of freedom Kirishima had never experienced before. After a few weeks he didn’t even bother taking his phone out of his room at all, taking to stealing Bakugou’s phone if he wanted to play games or listen to music to pass the time. Work wasn’t an issue since Fatgum had given him what amounted to a glorified pager, and if anyone else needed him right away they usually knew how to get a hold of him.

Because of this, Kirishima didn’t think much of it when Tsuyu answered a phone call only to immediately hand it over to him. They were at her youngest sister’s volleyball game and the crowd was getting louder the closer the match got to set point, so he had to step away before bringing the receiver up to his ear. “Hey, Midoriya,” he answered, having already looked at the caller id. “What’s up?”

“Kacchan is at the hospital,” Midoriya responded, getting right to the point.

“Oh my god!” Kirishima exclaimed. “What happened? Is he okay?”

“We don’t really know the specifics,” Midoriya said apologetically. “But me and Ochako are on our way with Aizawa now. Do you want to meet us at the hospital?”

***

Thirty minutes later, Kirishima was walking through the front doors of a hospital on the other side of town. He was familiar enough with the layout since nearly all of his classmates had spent at least some time here, himself included, but as Kirishima wandered through the maze of rooms he kept finding himself in dead ends. Eventually, he came across a waiting room that was showing the evening news on a large tv in the corner and would have kept walking if it wasn’t for Bakugou’s hero name on the bottom of the screen.

 ‘Residents at a west Florrum apartment complex were evacuated late this afternoon by a fire that started on the ground level and quickly spread through the rest of the building. Due to structural instability of the complex, first responders were unable to enter the building until Ground Zero arrived on scene.”

The reporter cut to a video that had clearly been shot on someone’s cell phone, the picture jerking wildly every few seconds. Kirishima watched as Bakugou shouted instructions to the other gathered heroes before entering the building himself, returning just moments later with a middle aged man hefted on his shoulders before passing him off to the medical team and plunging back in again. The next scene showed a mother with her young son, tears in her eyes as she recalled what had happened.

‘I could hear people screaming from outside. The smoke was so thick that by the time I had found my son we were trapped. I had no idea which way was which. We had nowhere to go. Ground Zero saved our lives.’

The video cut back to the reporter in the station.

‘There’s currently no word on how much damage the fire caused. While all reports are showing there were no villains at the scene, investigators are still working to figure out how the fire started.’

With renewed purpose, Kirishima soon found himself standing in front of the room number Midoriya had rattled off on the phone. He could hear yelling from inside and knew he was in the right place, not even bothering to knock on the door before walking in.

“Shitty Hair!” Bakugou announced the moment he stepped into the room.

Kirishima was taken aback.

It had been a while since Bakugou had called him something as crass as that, and it had never been said quite as affectionately. “Hey, Katsuki,” he said cautiously as he made his way to the bed Bakugou was propped up in. “You okay?”

But Bakugou wasn’t paying attention to Kirishima. Or, more specifically, he wasn’t paying attention to what Kirishima was saying.

“Come look!” Bakugou shouted despite the fact that everyone in the room was sitting maybe six feet away, making grabby hands towards Kirishima’s hair. “Do you see how shitty his hair is?”

“It’s not that bad,” Uraraka said as she reached towards Kirishima’s hair as well.

“I said look, not touch,” Bakugou growled, swatting her hand away.

Kirishima was too shocked to move as Bakugou did the exact opposite and pulled him onto the bed, running his fingers through Kirishima’s hair and destroying his hairdo in the process.

“They put him on a heavy sedative,” Midoriya said as way of explanation.

“Oh,” Kirishima laughed, understanding immediately. “So what happened? I heard about the fire on the news, but they didn’t say anything about any injuries.”

“That’s probably because Kacchan was the only one who had to be taken to the hospital,” Midoriya said. “He was in one of the apartments when the ceiling caved in and something, a china cabinet they believe, landed on him and broke his leg.”

Kirishima’s face scrunched up in confusion, though Bakugou must have thought it was pain because he received a pacifying pat on the head. “He had to have surgery because of a broken leg?”

“No,” Aizawa cut in from where he was slouched in a chair in the corner of the room. “He had to have surgery because he thought that a compound fracture was okay to walk on.”

“I was doing just fine on my own,” Bakugou complained.

“It took three paramedics and another two Pros to convince you to stop.”

“All I’m hearing is that four people couldn’t stop me, even with a broken leg.”

Aizawa sighed heavily.

“Katsuki,” Kirishima said as he started to turn around.

“I don’t want to hear it!” Bakugou said as he kept Kirishima’s head facing forward. “I may not have a fancy quirk like yours, but I sure as shit can navigate through smoke and flames.”

The lecture Kirishima had been gearing up towards went right out the window. “Fancy?” he laughed out. “Really, Katsuki?”

Bakugou pouted, somehow looking both confused and offended as he crossed his arms. “You don’t believe me?”

“No!” Kirishima laughed again, moving to turn around since Bakugou had finally let go of his hair only to let out a whoop when he was unceremoniously shoved off the bed.

“See,” Bakugou said with a shrug when Kirishima popped his head up to glare at him. “Thanks to that fancy quirk of yours, your fine.”

“Unbelievable,” Kirishima said with a shake of his head. “You are unbelievable!”

“Okay,” Aizawa said as he stood up. “Bakugou, you’re an adult now. Can you handle checking yourself out of the hospital?”

“Yup,” Bakugou said as he moved to stand as well.

“Not…now,” Aizawa said tiredly, watching Kirishima and Midoriya try to keep him in bed. “After they give you release.”

“I’m fine,” Bakugou said, furrowing his brow as he stared confusingly at the hands on his shoulders. “It’s just really heavy in here.”

Aizawa turned to Kirishima. “Can you make sure he gets back to campus in one piece?”

“I’m on it!”

“Midoriya, Uraraka, you have no obligation to deal with…,” he trailed off, staring disdainfully at Bakugou. “This. But I will let the school know you may be out past curfew as well. Call me if there’s an emergency. Only if there’s an emergency.”

And with that he was gone, leaving Kirishima, Midoriya, and Uraraka to prepare for the hell that would be the next few hours.

While nearly everyone in Class 3A was their own particular brand of nightmare while on any type of anesthetic, Bakugou was hands down the worst to deal with. He basically turned into a four-year-old that had stubbornly refused to take their mid-afternoon nap. Every few minutes he would point to a random thing in the room that he wanted before he would toss it aside, demanding something new but never allowing the discarded item to be removed from his reach. Within an hour there was a pile of rubber gloves, pillows, the contents of Midoriya’s backpack, and various other items scattered across the bed, most of which eventually found their way weaved into Kirishima’s hair.

Kirishima couldn’t really fault Bakugou for it, though. His bright, red hair was a bit distracting, even for someone who wasn’t currently drugged on pain killers.

The nurses in the hospital were familiar enough with Bakugou that none of them even batted an eye when they came in during their rounds, working around Kirishima easily. If anything, they were glad it kept his attention off of them so he wasn’t bombarding them with questions about when he would be released.

Granted, he still asked. It just wasn’t the first thing out of his mouth.

“The doctor should be here shortly,” one of the nurses answered with a sigh after they had been there for nearly four hours.

“Thank you!” Kirishima said with a smile, earning a small one from the nurse in return.

“He’s new to the hospital, so can you make sure Ground Zero is on his best behavior?” the nurse teased, though there was genuine concern lacing his words.

“Gotta get him initiated at some point,” Bakugou mumbled absentmindedly as he tried to give Kirishima a mohawk with the small amount of gel that was still in his hair.

“You really should treat the doctor with respect,” Uraraka said.

“I’m supposed to respect him because he attacked me with sharp knives while I was unconscious?”

Used to their antics, Midoriya was unfazed by what was going on as he continued the conversation he had been having with Kirishima before the nurse had come in.

“So you were saying you got a request from Maniaxe’s firm to assist with a training seminar?”

“Fatgum has worked with him in the past, so it wasn’t really that surprising,” Kirishima said dismissively.

“Come on, Kiri,” Uraraka piped in. “You make it sound like he was just doing Fatgum a favor.”

“Yeah, well- Oww, Katsuki!” Kirishima shrieked when Bakugou tugged on his hair a lot harder than he had before.

“Stop sayin’ stupid shit,” Bakugou said unapologetically.

“Ah,” Uraraka sighed. “Alliterative poetry at its finest.”

The comment startled a laugh out of Midoriya, who had been pouring a glass of water at the time, causing him to drop the near-full pitcher across the floor.

“You’re getting attention from an agency overseas and you’re gonna sit there and act like they’re all just doing it out of some kind of courtesy to Fatgum?” Bakugou said, ignoring Midoriya and Uraraka’s frantic attempts to clean the mess.

“I mean,” Kirishima said with a nervous laugh. He could smell the smoke coming from Bakugou’s palms and had no idea how he was going to get out of this with his head intact, so he was grateful when the door slammed open.

“Yo, B!” Camie shouted as she entered the room. “I know what you’re going to say, but it wasn’t my fault I got here so late because-”

Silence fell over the room as Camie quietly regarded Midoriya and Uraraka mopping up the spilled water with cotton balls and someone’s jacket before her gaze slid to Bakugou’s death grip on Kirishima’s hair. She dropped the duffle bag that she had been carrying to the ground and nodded her head in approval. “Never a dull moment with you guys, is there?”

Before anyone could respond, there was a knock on the door frame and a man who barely looked old enough to be in medical school, let alone a primary surgeon, came waltzing in. His head barely came up to Camie’s shoulder as he walked past her and into the room, but the way his white coat hugged his frame showed he was hiding some impressive muscles for someone his size.

“Hello!” he greeted warmly as he consulted the clipboard in his hands. “I apologize for interrupting, but I wanted to- You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”

Uraraka and Midoriya let out a frenzied stream of apologies as they mistook the doctor’s shock for anger at the mess they had made, though they trailed off once they realized he wasn’t paying them any attention. The doctor made a point to walk out of the door and check the number on the wall before coming back in with an arrogant swagger.

“Did I take a wrong turn somewhere and end up in pediatrics?” he said, leveling Kirishima with a wicked grin. “Could have sworn my chart said Ground Zero at the top, not Baby Riot.”

Kirishima was grateful that Bakugou’s fingers were no longer tangled in his hair, allowing him to slip out of the bed and tower over the newcomer. “I’m surprised you were able to get here all by yourself, Taron,” he drawled, patting him on the head. “Did the hospital buy you a ladder so you can press the elevator buttons, or do you just bring a personal one from home?”

Taron shoved Kirishima’s hand away. “Are you just upset because the villagers came after you again with torches and pitchforks after you trampled all their crops?”

Uraraka, Midoriya, and Camie were clumped together in a group off in the corner, watching their interaction through wide eyes.

“It’s a good thing I had no idea you were the surgeon or I would have demanded a more suitable replacement,” Kirishima jeered.

“You wound me,” Taron said, throwing a hand over his heart.

“Boo hoo,” Kirishima retorted. “Your unethical ass is the one who started making Sharknado jokes while operating on me.”

“You had a swordfish! In your leg! If that wasn’t an appropriate response in that situation, then I don’t want to know what was!”

“A swordfish is not a shark!” Kirishima exclaimed. “If you can’t even tell the difference between Actinopterygii and Chondrichthyes, then why are you even a doctor?”

“I am a human physician, Ei! Not a veterinarian! And I refuse to have this argument with you again!” Taron yelled as he stepped up into Kirishima’s space, poking him in the chest. “Just because you’re obsessed with sharks thanks to those freakish teeth of yours doesn’t mean everyone else is!”

Kirishima flashed him a toothy smile. “Bite me.”

A group of nurses burst through the door right as Taron somehow got Kirishima in a headlock, understandably prepared to break up a fight, and Kirishima couldn’t help but laugh after seeing the visible confusion on their faces when they saw Bakugou sitting calmly on the bed.

“Dr. Banks?” one of them questioned. “We heard shouting. Are you okay?”

Both Kirishima and Taron were laughing hysterically now, though Taron recovered first by playfully shoving Kirishima away. “Yeah, we’re all good in here,” he said, waving off their concerns. “Sorry to disturb you guys.”

The nurses all left, most of them still casting dubious glances Bakugou’s way.

“You’re gonna get me fired, man,” Taron said, still chuckling under his breath.

“They could do better.”

Kirishima let out a whoosh of air when Taron sucker punched him right in the stomach. As he straightened back up, his hand grazed his neck and he gave Taron an affronted look. “Dude, what the hell? Did you actually bite me?”

Taron mirrored Kirishima’s toothy grin from earlier before turning to Bakugou and extending his hand. “I apologize for the unprofessionalism, Ground Zero. I’m-”

Kirishima’s smile faltered as he realized his mistake at letting a relative stranger in-between himself and a drugged up Bakugou, instinctively lurching forward when he saw Bakugou’s eyes narrow dangerously. But instead of an explosion like he had been expecting, Bakugou took Taron’s outstretched hand and shook it.

“Taron Banks,” Bakugou surmised, smirking in satisfaction at the surprise that flitted across Taron’s face. “You run that disaster relief organization that Eijirou’s always helping with, right?”

Kirishima let out a sigh of relief at the surprisingly civil interaction.

“Oh my god, you’re Katsuki!” Taron exclaimed after looking at his chart once again. “I feel like such an idiot! Ei never uses your hero name, so it went right over my head.”

Fear pounded through Kirishima once again at the use of Bakugou’s given name. Hoping to ease the tension before it could get too ugly, he quickly turned Taron around to face Midoriya, Uraraka, and Camie.

“These are my friends!” Kirishima announced anxiously, casting furtive glances at Bakugou in an attempt to gauge his anger. From the way he was glaring daggers at Taron, Kirishima thought it might be best for him to just retreat back towards the bed to keep an eye on him.

“Hi!” Taron said, enthusiastically shaking each of their hands as they introduced themselves. “It’s great to meet you guys!”

“So how do you know Red again?” Camie asked while smiling sweetly at him.

Kirishima screamed internally.

He was trying to calm Bakugou down, not rile him up! What did she think she was doing by flirting so blatantly in front of him? Trying to watch him out of the corner of his eye, Kirishima put a hand on Bakugou’s good leg so he could at least have some kind of warning if Bakugou were to do something impulsive.

Kirishima was so focused on trying to keep the peace that the hand that suddenly appeared on his knee caused him to jerk in surprise. His head snapped down and over as he slowly followed the hand back to the body it was attached to, knowing who the owner was yet still somehow shocked by it. It didn’t help that Bakugou’s eyes were still trained on Taron, his hand on Kirishima clearly an automatic response to Kirishima’s own hand on Bakugou.

“Oh, we met…what was it, almost two years ago?” Taron answered, turning to look at Kirishima for confirmation.

Finally tearing his gaze away from Bakugou, Kirishima nodded his head. “Yup. He was the medic assigned to my search-and-rescue team after that tsunami in Eadu.”

“Though, with the way he is, there probably should have been a few more medics assigned to our team,” Taron claimed.

“Oh, come on. I wasn’t that bad.”

“Wasn’t that bad?” Taron repeated as he shook his head in disbelief. “Wasn’t that bad! Need I remind you that I watched you jump out of a HELO with absolutely no warning, collect down – and active – power lines so we could pass through an area safely, and hold up a building for over forty-five minutes while submerged in running water that reached all the way up to your ears. And that was only the first three hours!”

“Oh my gosh!” Uraraka shrieked, her hand over her mouth as she laughed at Kirishima. “You never told us any of that!”

“Why would he when those were, by far, the tamest of his shenanigans?” Taron laughed right alongside her. “I think my favorite on that particular trip was when our boat capsized about two miles out from shore and he gave his lifejacket away to someone who already had one because, and I quote, ‘He can’t tread water on a broken leg, dude.’

“I can’t even say I’m surprised at this point,” Uraraka said with an airy shrug.  “I think we’ve all got stories about the terror that is Red Riot in the field.”

“Is he really that difficult?” Camie asked, being the only one in the room who had never worked directly with Kirishima before.

Uraraka snorted. “There was this one time that me and Kiri were helping clear out a medical lab that had caught on fire and this test rat got into something that made it, I kid you not, the size of a small warehouse. So here we are, separated from the rest of the group and he turns to me and says, ‘I have an idea’ and then he just…ran…right into its mouth.”

“Raka,” Kirishima said quietly, feeling Bakugou’s fingers dig painfully into his leg at the reminder of that particular incident. Bakugou had screamed at him so loudly after that that the hospital staff actually banned him from visiting.

“Yeah, that checks out,” Taron laughed.

“That sounds so scary!” Camie exclaimed as she leaned in closer, using the motion to sidle up close to Taron. “So what happened?”

“I just stared in shock,” Uraraka laughed. “Wondering what in the world I was going to tell everyone when they asked me how Red Riot died. But as that rat turned its beady little eyes my way, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, never mind. Looks like I don’t have to worry about that after all!’

Kirishima rolled his eyes as he watched Camie make an exaggerated shudder and grab onto Taron’s arm. He would have been worried about Bakugou noticing but he was too busy glaring at Kirishima to be paying much attention to anything else.

“And this thing is huge, right? I’m talking, brushing-its-head-against-the-top-of-the-thirty-foot-ceiling tall! So when it starts taking a few steps towards me, I try backing up as much as I can, holding my hands out in a sort of pacifying way,” Uraraka continued, really selling the story as she mimed the action. “My leg is torn to shreds so I can’t run and I already know that I can’t float over it to get to the exit because it swatted me out of the air last time I had tried, so my mind is working overtime trying to figure out what to do. All the while the rat keeps getting closer. And closer. And closer, until it’s only about ten feet away.”

“You’re dragging this story out more than it needs to be,” Kirishima interjected.

Making a hushing motion towards Kirishima, Uraraka kept going. “So there I am, mentally making the final changes to my last will and testament, when I suddenly start hearing the strangest sound coming from its stomach. Before I know what’s going on, this rat just starts hacking and gagging, almost like it had a fur ball in the back of its throat. With that distraction, I was finally able to escape to higher ground, which was perfect timing because, had I waited even one more second, I would have been violently reunited with a sopping wet Red Riot.”

“Oh god,” Taron spun to stare at Kirishima with a mixture of disgust and fascination. “It puked you up, didn’t it?”

“Oh, it puked him up, alright!” Uraraka confirmed gleefully. “If I hadn’t been so terrified at the time, it probably would have been more hilarious to see him sitting there in this giant pool of bile with this tiny, little rat cupped protectively in his hands.”

“We knew that the reason it was so big was because it ate something it wasn’t supposed to,” Kirishima explained, trying to defend himself. “So I figured we might be able to get it back down to normal if it threw up.”

“But what if it had been toxic to humans?” Taron asked bewilderedly.

“It was,” Bakugou growled out.

“He spent about three days in the hospital,” Uraraka said. “The solution the rat ate caused anyone who was in contact with it to lose control of their quirk. And while it was funny when he fell over because his leg locked up, it wasn’t really that funny when he couldn’t breathe after his lungs hardened.”

“Do you even have an ounce of survival instincts in you?” Taron asked Kirishima, throwing his hands up when Kirishima opened his mouth to reply. “And you can’t just give your usual speech about how you’re a hero and that’s what heroes do!”

“But I am a hero!” Kirishima protested. “And that is what heroes do!”

Taron rolled his eyes and turned back to Uraraka, recognizing that she would appreciate another story. “So there was this one time we were transporting medical supplies to this remote village in the mountains and this guy stopped our caravan and tried to rob us. So of course this idiot,” he said, jerking his thumb towards Kirishima. “Decides to have a heart-to-heart with him about why he ‘felt the need to steal to survive’. After about ten minutes of this, Ei finally convinced him to come with us and get the help he needed. Long story short, he’s our graphic designer now.”

“Wow,” Kirishima grimaced as he watched them. “I really regret letting you two meet.”

Uraraka gave him an unimpressed look. “Did you know he can harden his blood and create spikes by just straight up tearing through his arteries?” she asked nonchalantly. “Because I had no idea until I saw him do it about two weeks ago.”

Kirishima watched in dismay as Midoriya grabbed one of his notebooks that was splayed out on the bed and started scribbling wildly. “That’s amazing! Does the blood still need to be attached to you to stay hardened? And, if not, how long is the time limit on that ability? Will eating certain foods help with the process?”

Not one to be beat and recognizing that Kirishima had no intentions of answering any of Midoriya’s questions, Taron furthered the ridicule by adding, “He once jumped out of a third-story balcony while playing a game of tag.”

Kirishima scoffed. “The kid that was it could fly, so it wasn’t even that much of an advantage.”

“This has nothing to do with whether you did or did not cheat in a game of tag!” Taron shouted. “You jumped out of a building while playing with children! Do you realize that just the sight of you triggers my fight-or-flight reflexes?”

“You say that, but who do you always call when you need help” Kirishima said, wagging a finger at him. “Oh yeah, it’s me!”

“Because you’re the only one stupid enough to keep answering!”

“So you’re affiliated with a disaster service organization,” Uraraka said. “Is that right?”

“Yup!” Taron said with a proud smile. “My roommate and I started off locally while we were still in college, helping with smaller-scale events in single towns like tornadoes and flash floods. We eventually got enough backing that we could start supporting relief efforts internationally, but we still rely heavily on our volunteers.”

“While you were in college?” Camie said playfully. “That must have only been like, what? Yesterday?”

“I…uh…,” Taron said, running a hand through his hair sheepishly. “I graduated a bit early.”

Knowing that Taron was uncomfortable about this particular subject, Kirishima pounced on the opportunity to immediately get back at him for his teasing. “Why don’t you tell them how early,” he prompted, taking pleasure in the ugly face he got in return.

“You’re an asshole.”

“Aww,” Kirishima cooed maliciously. “Are you embarrassed to tell them that you-”

“Ei,” Taron warned. “I swear to god-”

“-graduated at the ripe-old age of-”

“Don’t you do it!”

“-twelve?”

Taron winced, waiting for the reaction he knew was coming.

“Twelve!” Camie, Uraraka, and Midoriya all exclaimed at the same time.

“How old are you now?” Uraraka demanded.

Taron paused for what felt like an eternity before letting out the biggest sigh possible. “Twenty.”

“What!?”

Desperate to get the attention off of himself, Taron quickly shouted out, “Do you guys want to hear about the time me and Ei got caught in an avalanche and-”

Kirishima was across the room in a second, hand slammed over Taron’s mouth to stop him from saying anything more. “Hey, hey, hey,” he said in a faux, soothing voice. “Let’s not discuss-”

Taron licked his hand and laughed maniacally as Kirishima immediately recoiled.

“You’re so gross!” Kirishima wailed as he wiped his hand down Taron’s shirt. “Why are you so gross?”

“Come on now! You can complain all you want, but I know you missed me!” Taron proclaimed, jumping onto Kirishima. “Admit it!”

Kirishima’s attempts to dislodge Taron from his back failed miserably until he sat down in one of the empty chairs and pushed back, squeezing the air from Taron’s lungs.

“You win,” Taron wheezed out as he patted Kirishima’s shoulder in defeat. “You win! Let me up!”

Kirishima stopped pushing but didn’t stand up, effectively trapping Taron in the chair.

“Hey,” Taron said, shoving uselessly against him. “Move, you giant.”

“Did you guys hear something?” Kirishima said, feigning ignorance.

“So as I was saying earlier,” Taron said. “The avalanche took out the power to the entire camp and we had to-”

“Oh, Taron!” Kirishima said, hopping out of the chair as quick as possible. “When did you get here?”

“Nice save,” Uraraka teased as Taron stood up and straightened out his clothes.

Rifling through the now crumpled papers on his clipboard, Taron took a few out and held them up. “So, back to why I’m here, I’ve got Katsuki’s discharge orders. Yay!” He didn’t event bat an eye when Kirishima grabbed the pages he was trying to hand to Bakugou before they could be thrown back in his face. “We’ll be prescribing you a mild anti-inflammatory to help with the pain. You just need to take it easy for a week or two and you’ll be back on your feet in no time.”

Kirishima must have made a face at the impossibility of that request because his lip quirked into another smile.

“Oh, so you’re as stubborn as Ei, huh? Regardless, I really do recommend you stay in the splint for a few days and, once you start to feel better, perform the exercises highlighted on those sheets. Doing them both during and after the healing process will help restore your muscle strength, joint motion, flexibility, yadda, yadda, yadda. I know you’ve heard this spiel before. Someone will be in touch with UA to schedule a follow-up exam, but do you have any questions for me in the meantime?”

“When can I leave?”

“As soon as I get your prescription to the nurse. Which I will be doing right now!” Taron said, ignoring the hostility in Bakugou’s voice as he waved the clipboard in the air. “Keep in mind it may take up to two hours to complete this process, but I promise you will be out of here in no time. Anything else?”

Taking Bakugou’s silence as a no, Taron clapped his hands together.

“Fantastic! Well, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you all again at some point,” Taron said to Uraraka, Midoriya, and Camie before turning to Kirishima once again. “I’ve got a few minutes after this. Walk with me?”

“That sounds great!” Kirishima quickly agreed, setting the papers on the table next to the bed as he got ready to leave. “Let me just-”

Bakugou’s hand locked around Kirishima’s wrist before he could get too far.

Kirishima tried to give Bakugou a questioning look but he was purposefully avoiding his gaze. “Katsuki?” he said cautiously. “Do you want me to stay?”

“No,” Bakugou answered, releasing Kirishima’s wrist like it had suddenly burned him.

Feeling guilty now, Kirishima looked over to see that Taron had already left the room. “Hey Taron,” he called, knowing he couldn’t have gone that far.

Taron poked his head back through the door. “Yeah? What’s up?”

“I’m actually gonna-”

“I told you it’s fine,” Bakugou said through clenched teeth.

“It’s okay. I can catch up with him later. I don’t have to-”

“Just go already.”

Kirishima frowned. He knew that if he stayed now Bakugou would be even angrier with him, but he didn’t like leaving him like this. “I’ll be right back, okay?”

“Whatever.”

Taking that as the best answer he was going to get, Kirishima squeezed Bakugou’s shoulder before letting him go and followed Taron out the door.

Chapter Text

“Last I heard you weren’t supposed to start here for another few months,” Kirishima said as they sat down at one of the many empty tables in the hospital’s cafeteria. “What happened?”

“No idea,” Taron said, shrugging as he took a quick sip from his coffee. “There was an incident that everyone is being tight-lipped about and the hospital only gave me a two-day warning.”

“Well at least I don’t have to help you with your move anymore,” Kirishima joked.

“What part of two-day warning did you not understand? I’m living out of a suitcase right now.”

“Fine,” Kirishima huffed good-naturedly. “But I expect payment in the form of food.”

“Oh, but of course,” Taron said in an over-the-top voice. “Nothing but the finest of meals for you. Shall we say takeout from the vegan place across the street paired with the flat soda that came with my apartment?”

“You joke, but not all vegan food is as disgusting as whatever it was that we had in Texas,” Kirishima said, shuddering at the reminder. “Katsuki makes this mean mapo tofu dish that’s to die for. Just tell me the dates you need help and I’ll try to get some time off. Weekends will obviously be easier, but I could probably help after school too.”

“Pff, after school? I can’t believe you’re still in high school, man!” Taron lamented. “You’re just a wee little baby!”

“Stop!” Kirishima said, batting away the hand that reached over to pinch his checks. “You are only two years older than me.”

“And yet so much wiser,” Taron playfully boasted. “But in all seriousness, I know graduation is coming up soon. You got any solid plans yet?”

Kirishima shrugged noncommittally, having spent hours with his teachers and other Pros along with countless nights awake trying to answer that very question. At this point, the only thing Kirishima could say with certainty was that he had no idea what he was going to do.

“No plans yet,” Kirishima said. “Fatgum told me I was more than welcome to stay on with him while I get on my feet, but I know that’s not really a long-term solution.”

“Not to mention Katsuki might not like his partner working at another agency,” Taron pointed out.

Kirishima stared at him for a few seconds. “What?”

“Aren’t you and Katsuki partners?”

The flippant question felt like a punch to the gut.

As much as he would love to partner with Bakugou, the two of them had never talked about it before. Besides, Kirishima knew that his best friend was destined for bigger and better things. A partnership with Kirishima would only slow him down.

“No,” Kirishima said. He knew the single-worded answer had come out more harshly than he would have liked, but he didn’t really know what else he could say to soften the response. “What made you think we were?”

Taron looked uncomfortable, having realized he had accidently touched on a nerve. “Sorry. It’s just,” he said clumsily. “A couple of the nurses referred to you as his partner, so I just automatically assumed they meant hero partner.”

“Oh,” Kirishima commented dully, trying to figure out why the nurses would have thought they were partners. It made sense, he supposed, since they always visited each other at the hospital. But so did half of their class.

“I guess they just thought boyfriend sounded too immature.”

Kirishima’s thoughts whirled to a stop. He blinked at Taron, wondering if maybe he had misheard him.

Oblivious to the confusion and disbelief on Kirishima’s face, Taron hurriedly tried to change the subject to one he unfortunately thought was a safer bet. “I know that the respect for Katsuki around here is really high, but so is the fear, you know? The paramedics told me it took seven of them to get him into the ambulance.”

“It was five,” Kirishima corrected automatically, still trying to process the boyfriend comment.

Taron laughed, throwing his hands up in defense. “Sorry. It only took five people to get him into the ambulance.”

Kirishima felt dizzy, like he was existing in two different realities as he sat there listening to Taron go on and on about the stories the nurses and orderlies had relayed while prepping Bakugou for surgery.

“-probably could have checked up on him at least an hour ago, but they had me so spooked that I kept putting him off until he was my last patient on the list. It wasn’t until Yuuno finally tracked me down and told me that you were there that I felt safe enough to even come near the room,” he said with a shudder. “I have to say, I’m still in shock. There is a heavy contrast between the way you described him and finally meeting him in person.”

Taron sat there, staring at Kirishima as he opened and closed his mouth, waiting for him to defend Bakugou once again. It took a few tries before Kirishima finally blurted out, “I’m not dating Katsuki.”

“Oh,” Taron reeled back. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize-”

“It’s fine,” Kirishima bit out, trying to smooth over the awkwardness.

“No, but I feel awful now for bringing it up.”

They were both quiet for a few seconds as Taron uneasily picked at the sticker on his coffee cup.

“So when did you guys break up?”

“Taron,” Kirishima said forcefully, making sure to get his attention so he could correct the misunderstanding. “We never dated in the first place.”

“What?” Taron said, looking stunned. “Why not?”

Kirishima let out a sour laugh at how offended Taron made the question sound.

“How exactly am I supposed to answer that?”

“I don’t know,” Taron responded fretfully.

“Well then I’ll give you the short answer,” Kirishima said bitterly. “He’s not interested.”

“Not interested in dating in general, or-”

“Not interested in me,” Kirishima said coldly.

While Taron floundered for a response, Kirishima saw Midoriya and Uraraka wave to get his attention as they entered the cafeteria.

“Hey! I’m glad we found you,” Uraraka said cheerily as she approached, though her smile fell a little as she picked up the mood from the table. “Is…everything okay?”

“Yeah, we’re fine!” Kirishima said, plastering on a fake smile. “Taron was just telling me about how he wasn’t able to get all his paperwork filed in enough time to bring his dog with him.”

Taron gave Kirishima a baffled look.

“Oh, poor baby!” Uraraka mourned. “Do you have any pictures?”

“Y-yeah,” Taron said, looking at her like a deer caught in the headlights. He was clearly uncomfortable with how easily the lie had slipped out of Kirishima and didn’t know what to say. “But I uh…I don’t have my personal phone on me right this second. I’ll be sure to show you next time, but hopefully she’ll actually be here with me by then.”

Clearly sensing that there was more going on between the two of them, Midoriya was watching Kirishima carefully.

“Did you guys need a break from Katsuki?” Kirishima asked, doing his best to keep a straight face.

“Actually, we were thinking of heading back to campus if that was okay with you,” Uraraka said.

“We don’t mind staying, though,” Midoriya was quick to add.

“No, it’s fine,” Kirishima reassured them. “No reason for all of us to be dead on our feet tomorrow. Thanks for staying as long as you did.”

“Of course! We know how much of a handful Bakugou is when he gets all cooped up. And no need to cut this short,” Uraraka said, gesturing between Kirishima and Taron. “Camie said she’s happy to stay as long as needed. Taron, before we head out, I was hoping to get some contact information from you. There are a few Pros I know who specialize in search-and-rescue and they might be interested in volunteering with your organization.”

“Yeah, sure thing,” Taron said as he reached into one of his coat pockets and pulled out a business card. Searching through yet another pocket for a pen, he finally found one and scribbled a number on the back of the card before handing it over to her. “Let me know if you have any questions at all. Katja is running the day-to-day operations and she is more than happy to send over some information, or even set up a meeting if needed.”

“This is great!” Uraraka said as she pocketed the card. “Thank you so much!”

“No, thank you,” Taron said. “We need all the help we can get.”

“Well, it was really great to meet you,” Uraraka said, shaking his hand enthusiastically once again. “We’ll make sure to bug Kirishima to invite you next time we all go out.”

“I look forward to it,” Taron said with a warm smile.

“Do you need anything before we leave?” Midoriya asked Kirishima, concern all over his face.

“I’m good,” Kirishima said, trying to keep the frustration out of his voice. “Thanks though.”

“We’re off then!” Uraraka said. “See ya tomorrow, Kiri!”

“See you later,” Kirishima replied, watching them leave so he wouldn’t have to look over and see the disappointment on Taron’s face.

Even after Uraraka and Midoriya were gone, Taron stayed quiet, the silence between them growing heavier with each passing minute. “Talk to me,” he finally said after what felt like an eternity.

“About what?” Kirishima asked, feigning ignorance and hoping Taron would give up out of frustration.

Taron shook his head.

“What?” Kirishima said aggressively.

“You,” Taron said, flicking his hand at him as he leaned back in his chair. “You’re always the first person to try and help someone else with their problems but you refuse to talk to anyone about your own.”

“Because my problems aren’t worth talking about,” Kirishima said. “It’s just childish bullshit that doesn’t matter in the long run.”

“But it matters right now.”

“It’s fine, Taron.”

Taron gave him a skeptical look.

“It will be fine,” Kirishima stressed. “Talking about the problem isn’t going to change anything. I just need to…readjust my feelings, that’s all.”

“And how long have you been trying to do that?”

The question stung, forcing Kirishima to look down in shame.

Talk to me,” Taron pushed again.

“Why?” Kirishima asked quietly, not wanting to look back up and see the pity of Taron’s face.

“Because I know you,” Taron said. “You have a big heart, so I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for you to have to hide your feelings. Which I know you’re doing based on how you reacted when your friends just joined us,” he added.

Taron paused, waiting for Kirishima to try and refute the claim.

“I’m not going to force you to talk if you don’t want to,” Taron said gently. “But I really think it would help.”

It was nearing midnight already and the cafeteria was relatively empty so Kirishima had nothing to distract himself with as he considered the offer.

Deep down, he knew Taron was right. How many years had he been trying to ignore his feelings for Bakugou, hoping they would disappear only to have them grow stronger? He had always used the justification that his friends were also Bakugou’s friends to avoid talking about it, but that excuse didn’t exactly work with Taron and Kirishima could feel his resolve start to crumble.

“I wouldn’t even know where to start,” Kirishima sighed.

Taron’s eyes flashed in victory.

***

“He’s just- He’s the sun, you know?” Kirishima groaned out as he hit his head on the table, having spent the last twenty minutes explaining the situation to Taron.

“No,” Taron said with a shake of his head, staring at Kirishima judgmentally. “I don’t know. Nobody knows. You’re the only one in the entire world who would describe him that way.”

Kirishima pushed himself back up to glare at him.

“Explain it to me, then. I don’t know him like you do, and from what I’ve seen...”

 “Alright, fine!” Kirishima said, letting out another groan. “So we’ve got the obvious comparison with his quirk, right? Like,” he winced, rubbing a hand down his face. “Oh man. Katsuki would kill me if he heard me describe it like this, but he basically controls the power of a sun in his hands.”

Taron nodded. “I’m following you so far.”

“And, yes, the sun can sometimes be overwhelming. And blinding,” Kirishima added, albeit a bit cautiously. He had never had the opportunity to verbalize these thoughts and they were all just a jumbled mess in his head. “And if you’re not careful it can burn you.”

Taron barked out a laugh.

“Just let me finish before you say something mean,” Kirishima chastised. “There are so many different ways to describe the sun, right? Bright. Dangerous. Dominating,” he listed. “All of which are true. And yet…people used to worship the sun. They thought it was this mystical creature that provided them with life and banished the creatures of darkness. I mean, just think about it. Even now people still bask in its warmth. They’re reassured by its presence. And, sure, you’ll always find someone that prefers a cloudy day, but even they can’t deny that they are positively affected by all the good the sun does.”

When Kirishima finally finished, he expected to see humor or maybe even some sort of confusion written all over his friend's face. But instead, Taron was just staring at him, wide-eyed and mouth open.

“I-it’s not the best comparison, I suppose,” Kirishima started to flounder.

“It’s just really funny,” Taron blurted out, eyes widening somehow even more at the phrasing of his statement. “Shit. Okay, I know exactly how that sounded, but I promise you that’s not what I meant.”

“I’m sure it’s not,” Kirishima said, dramatically throwing an arm over his eyes. “Here I am, pouring my heart out, and you just trample all over-”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Taron said with a roll of his eyes knowing that Kirishima wasn’t actually upset. “What I was trying – and failing miserably – to say is that I find it hilarious that one of the biggest things I hear people say about you is that you are sunshine incarnate. Just this bright personality that can put a smile on anyone’s face, no matter the situation. And yet, here you are," he laughed. "With this vastly different definition of the sun, and it still somehow works.”

Kirishima flushed in embarrassment.

“You really love him,” Taron said. “Don’t you?”

“It’s hard not to,” Kirishima stated candidly. “He’s loyal. And honest to a fault. And he has this incredibly unique sense of humor that just catches you off guard,” he said, smiling softly. “No matter what we’re doing, whether it’s training, or working, or even just playing games, he’s pushing me past my limits in the best possible way. He’s so passionate about everything he does that you can’t help but get fired up right alongside him. And I just want to be around him all the time.” His smile quickly slid off his face. “But I know that it’s wrong to feel that way-”

“It’s not wrong to have feelings,” Taron immediately reassured him.

“But it is selfish,” Kirishima countered. “And incredibly possessive. Especially when the only claim I have on him is friendship, and who even knows if we’ll have that after graduation.”

“You’re a big part of his life, Ei. Don’t try to downplay that.”

“I’m just being realistic. He has his own life. His own interests. A girlfriend,” Kirishima added painfully. “And it hurts because all I want is what’s best for him and I know that it’s not me.” He scolded himself for how pathetic that sounded. “But that shouldn’t matter!” he said, forcing himself to be optimistic. “I’ve spent the last three years enjoying being friends with him without being…you know, with him. So I already know that I don’t need more. I just want more.”

Kirishima let out a dismal laugh.

“Ah dammit,” he said, hit will the full weight of that admission. “Why do I still want more? Why can’t I just be his friend?”

They fell into a silence that wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable, but couldn’t be described it as easy either.

“Okay,” Taron said after nearly a full minute. “I’m about to say something that I already know you don’t want to hear.”

“I’m on the edge of my seat,” Kirishima replied dryly.

Taron tilted his head back and forth, still debating on whether he wanted to say whatever it was he planned on saying.

“Are you sure he doesn’t feel the same way?”

Kirishima gave him an exasperated look.

“Hear me out!” Taron rushed to defend. “I may not know him personally, but I know for a fact that he calls you every single day you are gone just to check in, no matter how short or long the trip is.”

Kirishima rolled his eyes. “Is that all you have?”

“So you’re telling me that’s normal behavior for him, then?” Taron questioned. “He does that with everyone?”

“Well, not really,” Kirishima had to answer. “But-”

“Or how about the way he acted towards me just now?” Taron brought up, moving on since he clearly got the answer he wanted. “I thought he was going to blow my hand off when I introduced myself. And the way he possessively put his hands on you?”

Kirishima flushed. “He is not possessive of me,” he tried to wave off. “That’s just the way he is. And he turns into a toddler whenever he’s coming down from any sort of anesthetic.”

“A toddler that apparently only behaves around you,” Taron stated bluntly. “I don’t think I can fully explain to you the fear and desperation on everyone’s faces when they brought him in today. One of them even said, and I quote, ‘Let’s pray his partner shows before he wakes up.’ They made it seem like he was going to wake up mid-surgery and attack me!”

“Ah. Well,” Kirishima said, regretting it even as the words came out of his mouth. “That did happen once, so I’m not really surprised.”

“What!”

“Before you start judging him even more than you already are,” Kirishima quickly said. “They brought him in after he’d been knocked unconscious during a fight and he had no idea where he was. He came up swinging and wouldn’t stop until I-”

Kirishima cut himself off when he realized he was only proving Taron’s point.

“How do you even know the nurses were talking about me, huh?” he asked instead. “They could have been talking about Midoriya, for all we know.”

“Oh yeah? Is Midoriya a six-and-a-half foot teddy bear?”

Kirishima let out a startled laugh. “Is that what they said?”

“Well, if we’re getting technical, one of them also called you a beefcake of a man.”

Fighting down a blush, Kirishima decided to move the conversation forward before he could hear any more embarrassingly graphic descriptions of himself. “Even if Katsuki did at some point feel the same way – and that’s a big IF – it’s too late now.”

“It’s never too late,” Taron insisted.

“He’s with Camie,” Kirishima started to protest.

“Wait,” Taron said, putting both his hands up to stop him. “Wait, wait, wait. Are you talking about the Camie that is upstairs with him right now?”

“Yeah?”

“The same Camie that smiled pretty at me and squeezed my arm in one of the most blatant attempts to flirt that I’ve ever experienced?”

“Yeah. That’s her.”

Taron stared blankly at him. “Yeah. Okay,” he nodded like he had finally figured out the answer to an impossible riddle. “You’re an idiot.”

Kirishima threw his hands up.

“There is no way in hell that those two are dating,” Taron clarified before Kirishima could say anything.

“Well, they are, so-”

“Are you telling me that big, bad, ‘has-half-the-staff-of-the-hospital-terrified-of-him’ Katsuki doesn’t even lift a finger when his girlfriend is hitting on someone in front of him?”

“That’s just the way she is,” Kirishima tried to explain. “He’s used to it.”

“And you think this is a healthy relationship?” Taron shook his head. “No. No way. I’m telling you right now that those two are not dating.”

Kirishima opened his mouth to continue arguing but the device on Taron’s hip started to beep incessantly, cutting him off before he could even begin.

“Shit,” Taron said as he looked from the device to Kirishima. “I’m so sorry. I have to go.”

“Real convenient, man.”

“Oh ha ha,” Taron said as he stood up. “And don’t think we’re done with this conversation. Dinner. Saturday night, if you don’t already have plans.”

Knowing he would have said yes even if he did have plans, Kirishima nodded. “Dinner sounds good.”

“See you Saturday then!” Taron shouted out as he took off running down the hallway.

***

Knowing that he couldn’t delay the inevitable, Kirishima was reaching for the door of Bakugou’s hospital room when he heard Bakugou’s voice come filtering through.

“I can't fucking believe this.”

“What?” Camie said. “I feel like I waited long enough before-”

“You’ve haven’t even been here an hour!” Bakugou interrupted.

“And yet who turned that frown upside down? Oh! That’s right! Me!”

“You didn’t turn shit upside down,” Bakugou hissed. “All I wanted was for you to bring me my bag, not go through my shit.”

Kirishima’s jaw clenched painfully as he realized that must have been what the duffle bag was. He hadn’t realized their relationship had progressed to the point of Bakugou having an overnight bag with her.

He knew he shouldn’t have let Taron get his hopes up and yet here he was. Somehow shocked all over again at the discovery of Bakugou and Camie’s relationship. Just how many more times was he going to have this particular rug pulled out from under him?

“I asked you for one thing and you still managed to make me regret it.”

“You must have been hit on the head if you thought I wouldn’t use this opportunity to blackmail you,” Camie said bluntly. “And while I wasn’t expecting much…”

“Shut up.”

“I mean, come on, B,” Camie continued. “This is mad embarrassing, even for you.”

“Just shut up.”

“I can’t believe you actually went back to buy this.”

“This is extortion.”

“Hey, I ain’t threating anyone here. I’m just asking simple questions. Like, how many did you buy? Do you sleep in it? Did you get the matching underwea-”

Kirishima knocked and opened the door before he could stop himself, the part of him that wanted to protect Bakugou overriding his own self-preservation in the face of Camie’s relentless torment.

“Look whose back!” Camie exclaimed as what looked like a t-shirt was suddenly snatched out of her hands, disappearing behind Bakugou’s back before Kirishima could get a good look at what exactly made it such good blackmail material.

“You can go now,” Bakugou said to Camie.

“But Kirishima just got here and I never get to see him,” she whined, falling into one of the chairs and hijacking another to throw her feet into.

“Get out already, you cheap, broken-down projector,” Bakugou growled.

Camie laughed at the insult. “I may be cheap, but I ain’t broken down,” she said, sending a wink in Kirishima’s direction.

Bakugou’s hands started to crackle. “Are you done?”

Camie stuck her tongue out at him before turning back to Kirishima. “So, Red,” she said conversationally, the sound grating to Kirishima’s ears. “You and Dr. Banks seem close. And you were gone for so long.

Kirishima nodded, unsure of whether he should sit back down on the bed or move over to one of the chairs now that Bakugou was no longer fixated on his hair. “He saved my life more times than I can count. And you know how it is when you’re in the field,” he said. “You just kind of immediately bond with the people you’re with, you know?”

Camie nodded her head in understanding, the gesture surprisingly genuine. “That’s awesome that you guys keep in touch, though. And that you help him out so much with his own organization.”

“It’s nothing, honestly,” Kirishima said. “Just a few trips a year to help with random cleanups when he’s short staffed. It’s given me a lot of experience and I’ve met some really amazing heroes, Taron included.”

Bakugou still looked like he was a few seconds away from setting something on fire so Kirishima sat down in the chair furthest away from him.

“You should invite him out next time we all do something,” Camie suggested.

“’Raka already bullied him into agreeing to something before she left, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing him around,” Kirishima replied.

“Good,” Camie said with a nod.

Kirishima grimaced, realizing that this had been his longest conversation with Camie and she was only talking to him to get information about another man. No longer wanting to provide any more fodder to the nuclear meltdown that Bakugou looked to be working himself up to, Kirishima sat back and listened as Camie prattled on about whatever mundane topic popped into her head, answering with short sentences and half-hearted nods as the three of them waited for the nurses to come back with Bakugou’s release papers.

After an excruciating fifteen minutes of small talk in the hospital, followed by another ten minutes after accepting Camie’s offer to drive them both to UA, Kirishima finally found himself alone with Bakugou.

“I’ll just be sitting in a fucking chair all day,” Bakugou scoffed through bleary eyes. “What is taxing about that?”

Not wanting to waste any more time since he knew he would be having this exact same conversation in a few hours when he would be getting ready for class himself, Kirishima guided Bakugou towards his bed.

“It’s not just sitting in a desk, Katsuki,” Kirishima admonished. “You’ll have to walk to class. And then walk to lunch. And then walk back to class. And we both know you’re going to be a pain during our hero courses.”

“But-”

“No,” Kirishima said, shoving the bottle of pain medication and a water bottle towards him.

“Damn, you’re so mean in the morning,” Bakugou whined after swallowing two of the pills dry. “You should be nicer to me. I broke my leg.”

“Will you please just take it easy?” Kirishima begged.

“Recovery Girl-”

“Is away and won’t be back until next Tuesday at the earliest,” Kirishima replied tiredly, placing the unopened bottle of water on the desk where he knew Bakugou would be able to reach it.

“I bet Taron never missed a day of classes,” he heard Bakugou grunt as he burrowed himself deeper into his covers.

Kirishima let out a long, suffering sigh.

Bakugou had been like this all night, making belligerent comments and rude, sometimes confusing, insinuations at Taron’s expense.

And since Kirishima had been quick to defend Taron, Bakugou steadily grew more enraged as the night progressed. Under different circumstances, he would have dropped the issue and let Bakugou spout off insults until he was blue in the face, but Kirishima and Taron had been through too much for Kirishima to be okay with Bakugou bad-mouthing him.

“Taron is a lazy piece of shit and I guarantee he intentionally skipped class,” Kirishima said, not feeling the least bit guilty about bad-mouthing Taron himself.

“So he’s attractive and smart,” Bakugou muttered. “Great.”

Kirishima frowned, though Bakugou couldn’t see it since he had made a huff of noise and turned his back on him. “You…,” he hesitated, trying to decide whether it was worth it to ask this question or not. “Think he’s attractive?”

“Camie said he’s cute,” Bakugou answered, sounding sad.

And there it was, the real reason for Bakugou’s hostility towards Taron.

“I was really hoping you would get along with him,” Kirishima said, too tired to hide his disappointment. “Since he’s living so close now-”

“Why don’t you just move in with him, then?” Bakugou suggested rudely.

“You know, that’s not a bad idea,” Kirishima contemplated out loud, knowing Bakugou was only passively listening to him at this point. “He’s a doctor, so he’s probably got the space, and I could finally live with a dog.”

Bakugou shot up so fast that Kirishima actually jumped at the flurry of motion.

“You want a fucking dog, I’ll get you a fucking dog,” Bakugou said adamantly, eyes boring into Kirishima’s like he was waiting for him to argue. “I’ll get you ten dogs.”

“Okay,” Kirishima nodded for lack of anything better to say.

Bakugou fell back into bed just as abruptly as he had popped out of it. Having refused all of the food Kirishima had offered him other than a glass of orange juice, Bakugou was clearly out of it since he had taken the painkillers on a practically empty stomach.

“I just really wish you could get along with him,” Kirishima expressed once again, not really knowing why he was still pushing the issue. It’s not like Bakugou would remember this in the morning.

Bakugou started fumbling around so he could glare at Kirishima through the cocoon of blankets he had created. “You don’t get along with Camie, so why in the hell should I try to get along with Taron?”

Shit. So Bakugou had noticed.

“I don’t even care that much, but I’m not stupid. I know you hate her. You never hang out with her and you always bail almost the second you find out she’s been invited.” Bakugou was rambling now, not giving Kirishima the chance to explain, which was both a blessing and a curse. “And the worst part is that you never tell me when you’re gonna pull shit like that and then I end up getting stuck with everyone on my own while you’re off doing whatever the fuck you want. It’s so damn frustrating. I hate it. And I can’t ask you about it because then you’ll just shut me out again. But who cares now since you’ll probably ditch me even more to hang out with Taron and his stupid hair. And his stupid smile. And his stupid muscles. And his stupid…”

Bakugou voice trailed off as he fell asleep.

Unsure of what to take from Bakugou’s borderline drunken ramblings, Kirishima walked unsteadily out of the room, deciding to just ignore it for now.

Chapter Text

It was during their first lesson the next morning that Kirishima started to feel…something. It had been building steadily ever since last night, but it wasn’t until his phone went off in the middle of class that it really started to become noticeable.

Kirishima fumbled to grab his phone, worried that it might be Bakugou since, just like he had anticipated, he had been forced to fight with him for over thirty minutes this morning when the idiot tried to sneak past him to head to class. Instead of a message from Bakugou, Kirishima was greeted to a text from Denki trying to explain to the group why it was unfair that Bakugou got to skip class under the pretense of a “late night patrol” even though everyone knows he was on a date with Camie. He quickly left the group chat before any new messages could come through, jamming his phone back into his pocket and wishing he could just turn the damn thing off.

But he didn’t want to risk missing something important.

Again.

That thought sent another strange pulse through his body, making his limbs feel like they had been electrified. He tried to shake the feeling off, boiling it down to lack of sleep, but it became progressively more distracting as the day dragged on. He was relieved once they were finally dismissed for training, hoping that doing something physical would help him out of this funk.

A hope that was immediately crushed.

Upon arriving to the training arena, All Might informed them that they were free to do their own exercise for the day. While this situation would normally result in the class splitting into groups of twos and threes, Kaminari and Mineta were able to convince All Might to let them play capture the flag under the guise of a “team building” exercise. The game had been banned their second year after an incident between Bakugou and Todoroki that didn’t really need an explanation, so excitement was high.

With the cheers from his classmates immediately setting him on edge, Kirishima slipped away before anyone could get the opportunity to recruit him for their team. A placating voice in the back of his head told him that this was probably for the best since his bad mood would not be favorable if the objective was indeed “team building,” while a stern voice tried to remind him that it was doubtful he would always be in a good mood while in the field and he should use this as a learning experience.

But another – even louder – voice told Kirishima that with the amount of people signing up to play the game he could make his way to the back of the training arena and destroy as many walls, cliffs, and boulders as he wanted too without getting yelled at.

It’s not Kirishima’s fault that he’s been conditioned to listen to the louder voice.

For the first time all day, Kirishima was finally alone and free to sort out whatever it was that he was feeling without fear of interruption. He knew he was in a bad mood, but he also knew that this frame of mind wasn’t just about the events from last night and this morning. Sure, having only two hours of sleep didn’t help, but what he was feeling felt like it was a culmination of several months’ worth of self-loathing, lack of respect, and general contempt.

Nothing was safe from Kirishima as he ripped through concrete barricades like they were made of soft clay, bashed stone pillars until they were nothing more than dust, and punched through a mock cliffside until he had created a cave big enough to comfortably fit over half his class.

“Kirishima?”

Kirishima jumped at the call of his name.

Midoriya was standing next to him with a concerned look on his face. His hair was slightly wet and he was no longer in his hero costume, which was confusing until Kirishima glanced around and noticed they were the only two left in the arena. A quick search for the giant clock near the front entrance showed him that class had been over for a while already.

“Are you okay?” Midoriya asked, looking around at the wreckage Kirishima had created.

“Yeah man!” Kirishima said with a big smile, the assurance sounding more forced than he had hoped. “Sorry I didn’t join you guys earlier. Just working on a few new moves that are a bit difficult to incorporate with others right now. Did your team end up winning?”

“O-oh,” Midoriya said, obviously not expecting this kind of response from Kirishima. “We played a few rounds with different teams each time, so nobody really won.”

“That’s awesome!” Kirishima said. “It’s always great when the teachers let us cut back and mess around.”

Midoriya hummed in agreement, but there was a nervous energy radiating off of him that Kirishima knew he couldn’t ignore.

“Did you … need something?” Kirishima asked, his tone resigned but polite.

Kirishima watched as Midoriya nodded slightly, almost as if he were working himself up to something. “Are…are you sure you’re okay?” he asked carefully.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Kirishima asked as he turned back towards the column in front of him, striking it again.

 “You’ve just seemed…off today,” Midoriya remarked. “And last night while you were talking to your friend.”

Kirishima thought about lying to Midoriya. About saying he was fine, maybe just a little worn out from being up all night. In fact, he had every intention of just laughing it off, not wanting another repeat of what happened after his talk with Taron last night.

“And I noticed that you keep checking your phone-”

Kirishima’s fist tore a gigantic chunk out of the column.

There it was. That foreign feeling slinking through his veins, growing heavier at the mention of his phone, letting him know that this was somehow a significant piece to the puzzle.

“Kacchan is going to be fine, Kirishima,” Midoriya said in the absence of a response from him.

“It’s not that,” Kirishima replied, landing another blow.

“Then what is it?”

Kirishima’s quirk-hardened fingers were dangerously close to puncturing through the fabric of his gloves, so he forced himself to relax.

While not excusing Bakugou’s behavior, Kirishima could understand his need to put up walls around Midoriya. When he asked what was wrong, he truly wanted to know. Wanted to help, if he could. And he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

But even if Kirishima wanted to talk, how could he even begin to describe what he was feeling when he didn’t really understand it himself?

“If you want, we could-”

“How many people did you have to call before you got a hold of me last night?”

The question surprised the both of them, but Midoriya was quick to answer.

“Well, after Aizawa called, my first call was to Shoji in case you were just in your room and then Tetsutetsu after that. I also called Tenya and Ashido, but by that time I had already made it back to campus and Ochako let me know you were with Tsuyu.”

“Right,” Kirishima nodded. “Eight people.”

He hit the column again, sending splintering cracks across the surface.

“And I know that Aizawa called me three times before he must have given up and called you,” he continued. “In total, how long would you say it took you to finally get me on the phone?”

Though he couldn’t see him, Kirishima could hear the slight hesitation in Midoriya’s voice as he tried to figure out why Kirishima would be asking these questions. “Fifteen minutes.”

 “So,” Kirishima said, puffs of powdered concrete showering him as he landed another punch. “If I’m hearing this correctly, it took thirty minutes and eight people to finally get a message to me that Katsuki was hurt. And I know that it was just a broken leg,” he added when Midoriya made a noise of protest. “But what if it wasn’t?”

“You can’t think like that,” Midoriya rushed out before Kirishima could cut him off again.

“I know, okay?” Kirishima fumed. “I know that this is our profession. And I know that this won’t be the last time that one of us ends up in the hospital. But that doesn’t change the fact that Katsuki was hurt and it took numerous people and a ridiculous amount of time for me to find out.”

Just the thought gave Kirishima this desperate urge to see how many more things he could smash apart before one of the teachers came rushing in here to stop him.

“I’m not arrogant enough to think I could have been there to stop Katsuki from getting hurt, and I know that I would have just been sitting around waiting for him to get out of surgery even if I had gotten the call right away,” Kirishima continued, feeling like he was finally reaching some sort of conclusion as he kept going, each thought punctuated with a blow to the column. “But that’s not the point. The point is that I wasn’t even doing anything important. Just hanging out with my friends, having left my phone behind on purpose because-”

One last punch was all it took for the large column to shatter apart, leaving Kirishima standing in the middle of the wreckage, panting heavily as giant chunks of concrete smashed to the ground around him. And it was right there in that moment that he realized it wasn’t fear that was making him shake. It wasn’t worry that tightened his chest. And it wasn’t insecurity or doubt that had him feeling like a trapped animal banging uselessly against a cage.

It was anger.

Anger at himself.

Anger at his friends for even putting him in this situation in the first place.

And then a new wave of anger for pushing the blame onto others when he was the one who had decided that hiding was better than confronting the fact that his best friend was dating someone else.

“Because I’m a coward,” Kirishima finished.

Suddenly overcome with weariness, Kirishima sunk to the floor, not even bothering to activate his quirk even as rocks dug uncomfortably into his skin. Midoriya cautiously picked his way through the debris, ignoring all warning signs that the red head wanted to be alone.

“I don’t mean to pry,” Midoriya said, continuing despite the eye roll he got in response. “But why haven’t you told anyone about you and Kacchan?”

It was a bold question, one that shouldn’t have surprised Kirishima as much as it did considering how observant Midoriya was, but that didn’t take away the sting.

“They may be a handful sometimes, but I know your friends would stop pushing this thing about him and Camie if you just talked with them about it. I mean, I understand your reluctance to share something so personal,” he continued, obviously ramping up towards an awe-inspiring speech…

That Kirishima interrupted with a snort.

“My reluctance,” Kirishima repeated in a condescending tone. “What an elaborate way of calling me a coward.”

“Kirishima,” Midoriya scolded.

“What do you want from me?” Kirishima said as he finally turned to face him. “Mina started this whole thing because she thought it would be fun. And to some degree I understand why.”

“But it is obvious this whole thing has been weighing on you,” Midoriya tried to reason.  “If you just talked to them-”

“I don’t want to talk to them about this! I don’t want to talk to anyone about this!” Kirishima shouted. “Why does everyone think that talking about this will make it better?”

“They’re your friends. I’m serious, Kirishima,” Midoriya insisted when Kirishima let out an ugly laugh. “I just don’t understand why you refuse to talk with them. Are you afraid of what they’ll say?”

The question felt like an accusation, an attack, and Kirishima forced himself to stand up and walk away before he could respond in kind.

Realizing his mistake, Midoriya started to panic, stuttering out an explanation as he moved to follow after him. “W-wait, Kirishima. I didn’t mean to-”

“Thanks for the talk, Midoriya,” Kirishima said with a note of finality.

***

Despite what he had hoped, Kirishima was not able to miraculously control his anger just because he finally had a name for it. If anything, knowing exactly what the problem was had made it worse. He stayed in the locker room showers for longer than he probably should have, his mind wandering down dangerous paths that he was too tired – too frustrated – to circumvent.

A part of him knew that Midoriya had only been trying to help, much like Taron had, but Kirishima’s anger and humiliation had twisted that misguided attempt into a malicious act.

After the fourth time of nearly punching the wall in frustration, Kirishima finally dragged himself out of the shower and back to the dorms. He wanted nothing more than to just go up to his room and drift into unconsciousness, finally putting an end to this miserable day, but he still had to actually make it to his room first.

He had been in the gym for so long that his classmates were already packed in the common room by the time he got back, taking up every bit of furniture they could. Because of this, Midoriya drew the attention of nearly their entire class in his haste to reach Kirishima before he disappeared up the stairs. Thankfully, after seeing who it was that Midoriya had cornered, the majority of the room had gone right back to what they were doing, the only one still keeping a close eye on the pair being Uraraka.

“I thought I made myself clear, Midoriya,” Kirishima said before he could even take a breath. “I don’t want to talk about this.”

“I just want to ask for forgiveness for my actions earlier,” Midoriya said as he struggled through his apology despite the lethal scowl Kirishima was sending his way. “If you could give me another opportunity to-”

Kirishima grit his teeth as Midoriya continued rambling, tuning out the rest of his obviously rehearsed apology as he stared at his phone and the three new messages he had just received.

Hagakure: Forgot about this one I had taken last Saturday.

Hagakure: <image001.png>

Hagakure: Looks like I’m closing in on the lead :P

His stomach curdled in disgust as he saw a picture of Bakugou and Camie in a shop at the mall. It was the first actual picture he had seen in a long time so he was not ready for the fond smile on Bakugou’s face as he held his phone up, taking his own picture of her. She was holding up a t-shirt with her head titled back and mouth pouting an exaggerated face as if she were a model in the middle of a runway show.

“And I just think that if they understood how inappropriate-”

Kirishima turned away from Midoriya to face the couch Ashido was on. “Mina,” he said, trying to keep as calm as possible even as his voice came out clipped. “Stop. Adding me. To this fucking group chat!”

His words drew the attention of everyone in the room once again, the anger radiating from him so palpable that a few people actually hunkered down in their seats. It was such a surprising emotion to see on Kirishima that Ashido was immediately on her feet, baffled by his outburst.

“Woah, Kiri,” Sero said, standing up between the two in an attempt to diffuse the situation. “Calm down.”

“Calm down?” Kirishima repeated, turning his wrath towards Sero. “You want me to calm down when for the past three months I have made it painfully obvious that I don’t want to be a part of this stupid contest?”

“Kirishima, this is no way to talk to your fellow classmate-” Iida tried to interject.

“It’s not like we’re hurting him,” Ashido interrupted, shoving past both Iida and Sero so she could get in Kirishima’s face, clearly having anticipated this fight and already raring to go. “We all know the paparazzi is going to be twenty times worse than what we’re doing once we all go pro.”

So far off the mark for why this was upsetting him, Kirishima barked out a harsh laugh at Ashido’s excuse. “Do you honestly think that that is the issue here?” he asked bewilderedly.

“Well I wouldn’t know, would I?” Ashido said cuttingly.

“You’re right,” Kirishima countered in the exact same tone. “You wouldn’t know. Because you never asked.”

Ashido and Kirishima were now standing in the middle of the room, faces inches apart as the rest of the class watched apprehensively. Kirishima had a faint sense of someone stepping forward to break them apart, but neither of them even acknowledged the attempt.

“So you’re just going to stand there and pretend that having an actual conversation with you was possible?” Ashido argued, jabbing him in the chest.

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“You know damn well what it means, Eijirou!” Ashido yelled, jabbing him once again. “This is the first time we’ve talked in months!”

“Huh,” Kirishima pondered aloud, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You know, you’re right. It has been months since we’ve talked. And we seemed to have been doing so fine before then. I wonder what might have happened. But what, oh what, could it be? Hmm?” he hummed, overdramatically scrunching up his face in thought as he thrummed a finger across his lip.

Ashido flushed an angry red as she silently watched him.

“Oh! That’s right!” Kirishima said with a snap of his fingers. “Maybe it’s because the only thing you ever want to talk about these days is Katsuki’s relationship status!”

“That’s not fair,” Ashido scolded. “If you had such a problem with the contest, you could have-”

“I could have what?” Kirishima asked, stopping her before she could hide behind any more excuses. “Left the group chat? Told you I didn’t want to participate? Short of screaming it in your face, I couldn’t have made it clearer that I don’t want to hear about Katsuki and his girlfriend.”

“You could have told me what your issue was instead of running away and hiding,” Ashido replied crudely.

Kirishima’s blood boiled at the insult. “Why should I have wasted my time with the effort?”

“Is that what you see me as, then?” Ashido asked. “A waste of time?”

“You can keep twisting this around as much as you want, Mina. But that doesn’t change the fact that you knew I had a problem and instead of actually going out of your way to ask me what was wrong, you decided to poke at it until you got a reaction. Well congratulations!” Kirishima said with a flourish of both arms. “Here’s your reaction!”

“So that’s it, then?” she questioned, doubling down on her fury now that she was backed into a corner. “Years of friendship thrown away because of some dumb contest?”

“It’s not just the contest!” Kirishima snapped. “Deep down I know, okay? I know that what you’re doing wasn’t meant to be cruel and that this was just some ridiculous excuse to keep us all together because you’re terrified about the fact that we’re all graduating this year. But guess what? So am I! And while I’m really happy that you found an appropriate outlet for your freak out,” he quipped, his tone just teetering on disdain. “You’ll forgive me for not wanting a reminder every goddamn day that Katsuki is in love with someone else!”

Kirishima clicked his teeth together in a belated attempt to stop the words from slipping out of his mouth.

A moment of confusion followed by a stunned understanding flashed through Ashido’s eyes as she took in his words. Despite his extensive efforts to hide his feelings, Kirishima had believed he was prepared for what would happen if his friends ever found out. He had politely assumed they would be sympathetic at first, offering apologies for their tactlessness. He was ready for the jokes that would be made once the initial surprise had faded and was cautiously armed for the general teasing they would give him over the fact that he had fallen for Bakugou of all people. He had even prepared himself for their pity once they all came to the same conclusion that he had. That, even if Bakugou wasn’t already in a relationship, he wouldn’t want to be with Kirishima.

But what he hadn’t been prepared for was for the shock and anger in Ashido’s eyes to bleed into full blown panic, darting between him and something just over his shoulder.

A creak from the direction of the stairs set Kirishima’s heart pounding. Judging from the look on not only Ashido’s face, but everyone else in the room, Kirishima didn’t really need to turn around to know what it was that had everyone so terrified.

That didn’t stop him though.

Bakugou was standing at the foot of the stairs, his eyes locked on Kirishima with an unreadable look on his face.

“Katsuki,” Kirishima said quietly, his voice rough from having spent the last few minutes screaming at the top of his lungs. His hands were shaking, though he had no idea if it was from anger or fear. He had never been this blindingly mad before and he knew that anything he said or did would make this situation ten times worse than it already was.

Bakugou wasn’t stupid. He knew exactly what had been said, and he knew exactly what it meant, so any attempts to convince him otherwise would be insulting.

“You should be resting,” Kirishima finished lamely.

Bakugou opened his mouth, but then he did something that Kirishima had never seen him do before.

He hesitated.

Chapter Text

Dread settled in Kirishima’s chest, squeezing the air out of his lungs at the sight of Bakugou just staring at him. The seconds ticked by as the entire room held a collective breath, nobody having moved a muscle since the screaming had stopped. Ashido was still standing somewhere behind him, the rest of the class frozen in their seats as they watched the tragedy that was Kirishima’s life unfold before them.

The silence provided the perfect environment for Kirishima to not only feel his phone vibrate in his hand, but to hear the collective buzzes and dings that echoed through the room as well, notifying them all that another message had come through on the group chat.

His phone was flying through the air before he could even process it, hitting the wall with a resounding crack as the screen shattered.

Kirishima needed to get out of there.

He needed to run.

Every single one of his instincts was screaming for him to just escape as quickly as possible, property damage be damned.

Having already guessed his plan – and moving way quicker than someone who was recovering from a broken leg should be able to – Bakugou was across the room and blocking his exit before he could act. “Eijirou,” he said, his voice just barely above a whisper.

Kirishima took in a deep breath, gritting his teeth as he struggled to remind himself that none of this was Bakugou’s fault. But it hurt hearing the uncertainty in his voice, almost as if it was a physical reminder that nothing was ever going to be the same between them again.

“Let me go, Katsuki.”

“No.”

The response was so simple, so predictable, it almost made Kirishima laugh.

Almost.

“If you haven’t noticed,” Kirishima said, already mapping out his next exit strategy since it was clear Bakugou wasn’t going to budge anytime soon. “I’m having a bit of a bad day today so I really don’t want to have this conversation right now.”

“You seemed to have no trouble talking about it with Pepto-Bismol.”

“Yeah, well, that was obviously a mistake,” Kirishima said furiously, trying to remember if there was anyone on the second floor who left their rooms unlocked as he prepared himself to jump out of a window. He was even desperate enough to go to the third floor, if need be. “So if we could just table this fight for another day, that would be-”

“Eijirou,” Bakugou growled as Kirishima took a step back towards the stairs. “If I have to chase you down, I will. Even on this shitty fucking leg.”

Kirishima was practically seething at the threat and stomped towards Bakugou instead of away from him, furious that he would hold something like that over his head. “Oh that’s real nice, Katsuki. You want me to keep you hostage like this the next time you throw a temper tantrum and tell me to fuck off and die?” he questioned, hoping the insult would be enough for Bakugou to give up and let him leave.

But instead, Bakugou stood his ground, crossing his arms as he matched Kirishima’s anger. “Yeah, well, sorry I’m a bit lost on what to do when you’re mad!”

“What do you want people to do when you’re mad?”

Kirishima used the opportunity that question gave him to shove past Bakugou and try to get to the door, but a tight grip on his arm stopped him before he could go any further.

“There’s a big difference between what I want people to do when I’m mad and what I want you to do when I’m mad,” Bakugou answered brazenly despite the audience.

Resentment surged through Kirishima at the perceived pity in Bakugou’s tone. “Don’t do this,” he reprimanded as he yanked his arm away, unable to handle Bakugou’s touch. “Don’t force this conversation just because you feel guilty.”

“The only reason I have to force this conversation is because I don’t even know why you’re mad in the first place!” Bakugou huffed out. “If you’re mad at your dumbass friends, then fine. I’m sure they deserve it. But chances are you’re mad at yourself for some stupid fucking reason and I’ll be damned if I let that go on any longer than it needs to!”

“If you don’t let me leave right now I’m going to be mad at you,” Kirishima warned in a low voice.

“Fine,” Bakugou said through clenched teeth, taking that final step forward so he could crowd Kirishima against the door frame. “Be mad. I don’t give a shit. But at least talk to me instead of shutting me out. Is this why you’ve been fighting with them? Because of me and Camie?”

The way he said the words, like just the thought disgusted him, made Kirishima recoil harder than if Bakugou had actually hit him. He ended up slamming his head against the door, ignoring the pain that spiked through his neck and back as he fumbled for the handle to get the damn thing open.

“Leave it alone,” Kirishima said, already on his way out the door. “I already know what you’re going to say and I really don’t want to hear it right now.”

“I guarantee you have no idea what I’m going to say,” Bakugou said through clenched teeth, stressing the syllable of each word. “So can you just-”

“Why?” Kirishima demanded as Bakugou scrambled to try and grab him once again. But Kirishima had been expecting it this time, jumping back and nearly tripping over the welcome mat. “Why is it so important that we talk right now?”

“Because I just found out about it,” Bakugou replied stubbornly. “Right. Now.”

Kirishima had already turned away and was walking down the sidewalk. “Yeah, well, I’ve been dealing with it just fine for the last few years,” he shouted over his shoulder. “Pretty sure you can deal with it for a day or two.”

“Years?”

Kirishima’s steps faltered.

Given a bit of space, he may have been able to turn this situation into a small hiccup in their friendship. Maybe he could have devised an excuse about how it wasn’t until Bakugou started dating that he realized how much he meant to him. Their friendship might have been able to survive something as trivial as that.

But not anymore.

His steps resumed at a quicker pace, the silence that followed after him somehow louder than anything Bakugou could have said.

***

Kirishima set out down the sidewalk with no destination in mind. He needed an outlet to work off all of this energy, but he knew the gym would be the first place his classmates would look for him. If they even wanted to look for him, that is. And there was nowhere off campus he could go that wouldn’t result in an interrogation from Fatgum, Taron, or his family.

Too much had happened within the last few hours that any attempts to focus on just one thing left his mind spiraling out of control, enough so that he barely even noticed the rocket headed his way that was actually spiraling out of control.

The loud, crunching sound as the metal crumpled against his chest was enough to finally bring his mind back to the present. He was only able to mourn the state of his shirt for just a second before a blur of pink and blue skidded to a halt in front of him.

“Ohohoho!” Hatsume shouted as she grabbed both of his arms to keep herself steady. She was hovering awkwardly in midair, wearing a boot that could only have been the pair to the one currently smoking on the ground. “Red! You really saved me here! The principal told me that if I caused any more property damage he would personally arrest me.”

Kirishima had to scramble to grab the second rocket boot as Hatsume thoughtlessly unbuckled it, though a few quick button presses on one of the devices strapped to her wrist caused the motor to sputter to a stop.

“You’re pretty quick with that quirk of yours. I was so sure you were about to paint these sidewalks red, no pun intended. Do you have time to come up to the Development Studio?” she asked, not even giving him the opportunity to say no before she picked up the other boot and tossed it into his arms to join the first one. “There’s this thing I’ve been working on and I need someone who can handle themselves around sharp metal objects that have the potential to be flying at speeds of 70 kilometers per hour.”

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima said with an uncertain laugh. “Did you just say-”

“70 kilometers an hour,” Hatsume confirmed. “If I calibrated it correctly.”

“And if you didn’t?”

“I guess that’s what we’re going to find out!”

It was such an obvious solution to his problem. Every so often Hatsume would come begging for help to test one of her latest creations, Kirishima often being the only one who didn’t walk away broken or horribly scarred.

At least physically scarred anyway.

It took him less than two seconds to come to a decision and scramble after her.

***

“You quittin’ on me?” Hatsume asked.

“M’fine,” Kirishima slurred, carving out a space on the floor next to her workstation and letting his eyes rest for just a moment.

They had been working for almost three hours straight and Kirishima had found himself in a much better mood. He was still mad, still hurt, and still so incredibly tired, but Hatsume’s enthusiasm was contagious. He had been thrown through a wall, set on fire, nearly had his hand cut off, and yet every time he stood back up Hatsume would give a shout of excited encouragement and hand him something new.

The next time he opened his eyes he found his head pillowed on a pile of fire-torched coveralls and capture tape. He winced as he sat up and looked around, idly watching the mound of random gadgets that had been piled on top of him fall to the ground. The crick in his neck let him know he had been asleep for longer than just a few minutes and there was a pounding in his head that he was just now realizing was actually Hatsume at her workstation.

“Morning!” she greeted, though Kirishima had no idea how she knew he was awake since she hadn’t taken her eyes off of her work.

“Do you ever sleep?” Kirishima groaned out.

“Of course I sleep!” Hatsume exclaimed, holding up her arm to show off what appeared to be a watch attached to her wrist. “Power Loader won’t let me work unless I show him my sleep tracker.”

Said teacher came bursting through the doors to his office. “Oh my god!” he shouted. “Red Riot is that you? Have you been here this entire time? Please tell me Mei didn’t knock you unconscious and you’ve been here all night!”

“He’s fine,” Hatsume said flippantly.

“Then why is he here?”

“He was helping me test some stuff yesterday and-”

“Yesterday!?” Power Loader yelped.

And,” she continued with an annoyed tone. “He got tired.”

“So you left him on the ground?”

“Well it’s not like I was going to give up my bed.”

Power Loader looked like he was having a mental break down. “Ignoring the fact that I have told you numerous times to remove the bed that is in here,” he said, rubbing his temples. “You expect me to believe that Red Riot came here on his own volition, worked with you late enough into the evening that he was too tired to go back to his room, and then fell asleep on a pile of scraps?”

“Yes,” Hatsume said with a self-assured nod.

Power Loader paused. “Do you understand why I’m having a hard time believing your story?”

“He’s fine,” Hatsume said again, turning toward Kirishima. “Tell him your fine.”

“I promise you I am fine, sir,” Kirishima said, trying to sound as sincere as possible, though his tone seemed to have the opposite effect on Power Loader.

“Great!” he exclaimed. “You gave him a concussion!”

Kirishima had no idea how to respond to that so he just sat there waiting for the two to stop arguing. After a few minutes, their heated fight slid seamlessly into a heated discussion regarding the information Hatsume had gathered with Kirishima’s help. He tried to follow along at first but their use of unknown concepts and confusing jargon left him feeling dazed.

“And that weld barely held up to the repeated stress of his punches.”

“What kind of material is it again? Maybe it’s just losing heat too quickly.”

“But we need to make the suit out of something that is able to withstand the kid’s quirk.”

“Do you guys still…need me?” Kirishima asked politely.

He received an answer of both yes and no from Hatsume and Power Loader respectively.

“Listen,” Power Loader said with a sigh. “You can’t give Mei too much or she’s just gonna push you around. Go back to your dorm. Get some food. And sleep in an actual bed.”

With that advice, Kirishima was unceremoniously shoved out the door.

Feeling at a bit of loss, he realized he was stuck in the exact same predicament he had been in last night. Going back to the dorms was a bad idea unless he was ready to face Bakugou, which he knew he wasn’t. And while it was early enough in the morning that he felt confident in his ability to get back to his room without anyone seeing him, he knew he would be trapped there for the rest of the day, unable to even step foot outside his door for fear of running into the blonde.

Kirishima paused as he passed by the front gates of the main campus. Even if he knew where he wanted to go, he couldn’t leave just yet; his wallet and keys were still in his backpack, which had been dropped at some point during his fight with Ashido.

With a heavy sigh, Kirishima turned away from the relative freedom of the front gates and headed towards the dorms.

Chapter Text

Kirishima stood glaring in the middle of the common room, furious at the scene that greeted him the moment he opened the front door.

Bakugou was fast asleep on one of the couches, no pillow or blanket in sight which meant he had most likely fallen asleep while waiting for Kirishima to return. Had he been here all night? Had he remembered to eat? Had anyone else been able to enter the first floor while Bakugou was camped out in the common room, or had he chased them all out?

Ignoring the guilt that welled up at the sight, Kirishima quietly made his way around the couch and into the kitchen, doing a cursory glance around for his stuff before heading upstairs. Thankfully someone had brought his backpack and broken phone back to his room, both of which were immediately stuffed into an overnight bag. There was no way Kirishima could stay here if Bakugou was this determined to talk. His only option was to spend the rest of the weekend at home, interrogation be damned.

After making a quick stop at Bakugou’s room, Kirishima stalked back downstairs with a pillow and blanket tucked under one arm, his overnight bag slung across his shoulder, and the still full bottle of painkillers in hand. He grabbed a protein bar and a bottle of water as he passed through the kitchen, placing both them and the painkillers on the end table closest to Bakugou.

While Bakugou was by no means a deep sleeper, Kirishima knew that if he had been tired enough to fall asleep on the couch it would take a lot more than some slight jostling to wake him up. Despite that, Kirishima was still careful as he used the pillow to help elevate Bakugou’s mending leg. It was only as he was draping the blanket across Bakugou that the blonde started to shift, but a sound near the stairs pulled Kirishima’s attention away before he could dwell on the fear that he had woken him up.

“I need to talk to you,” Midoriya whispered, gesturing back towards the stairs.

Not even bothering to dignify that with a response, Kirishima grabbed his bag and spun around. As usual, Midoriya didn’t seem to take the hint since Kirishima could hear his light footsteps fall in behind him as he walked out the front door.

Said footsteps sped up once Midoriya realized Kirishima wasn’t leading him to a quieter place to talk.

“Kirishima! Kirishima, please wait!” he called out, having to physically get in front of him to get him to stop.

“What do you want?” Kirishima asked wearily as he stepped around him and kept walking.

“You can’t just leave like this,” Midoriya said as he scrambled to get in front of Kirishima once again. “I know it’s probably not my place to say anything-”

“You’re right,” Kirishima snapped. “It’s not your place.”

“Kirishima, just wait for one-”

“I am tired, Midoriya. And hurt. And I just can’t stay here right now, okay? Do you understand that?”

He stepped around him once again, stopping only when Midoriya shouted after him. “This isn’t fair to Kacchan!”

The spark of anger in Kirishima flared back to life as he spun around. He had a good few inches on the other and it was clear from the look of terror on his face that Midoriya was well aware of that fact. “I don’t need this guilt trip from you, man,” he said in a warning tone. “So unless you want me to break something a bit more expensive than my phone this time, I would suggest you leave me alone.”

“You can break my phone if you like,” Midoriya insisted, thrusting his phone into Kirishima’s hand. “But please, just look at what I have to show you first.”

Kirishima was just about to throw the phone back in Midoriya’s face when he stopped short. Pulled up on the screen was a conversation between Midoriya and Bakugou, timestamped from last Saturday.

Kacchan: <image011.png>

Kacchan: <image012.png>

Kacchan: <image013.png>

Kacchan: <image014.png>

Kacchan: <image015.png>

Kacchan: <image016.png>

Kacchan: Is this why you have so much All Might shit?

Coffee cups, t-shirts, keychains, and other standard merchandise that you can find in practically any local store were the subject of the pictures, though Kirishima couldn’t be bothered to take a closer look at them to see which hero they were for. He could see Camie in the background of a few of them, cluing him into the fact that this is what Hagakure had caught them doing last weekend.

“Why are you showing me this?” Kirishima asked impatiently, shoving Midoriya’s phone back at him.

Midoriya’s hands flailed through the air in a frantic attempt to keep his phone from falling to the ground. “Did you even look at the pictures?”

“No,” Kirishima said flatly. “In case you missed that fight with Mina, I’m not exactly in the mood to look at any more pictures of Katsuki and Utsushimi together.”

“Is that seriously your only takeaway from this?” Midoriya asked, staring at Kirishima with a look of pure exasperation. “Kacchan sends me pictures of an entire store’s stock of Red Riot merchandise, and all you care about is that he happened to be there with Camie?”

Well that at least explained why the t-shirt had looked vaguely familiar.

Tired of getting his hopes up only to have them shattered by the reality of the situation, Kirishima shoved down the familiar stirrings of excitement and started walking away. “We’re friends, Midoriya,” he stated. Or at least we were, he thought to himself.

“Which means you should know exactly what kind of person he is!” Midoriya lectured as he fell back into step with him. “He doesn’t exactly spend his time going around taking pictures of everything that has his friend’s name plastered on it, does he?”

“I don’t know what to tell you other than you’re reading way too much into all of this,” Kirishima said over his shoulder. “Maybe dating Utsushimi really helped him get in touch with his softer side. So, if that’s all you wanted to show me-”

That seemed to be the final straw for Midoriya. He burst forward just enough to step in front of Kirishima yet again, going so far as to put his hand on his chest to stop him from going anywhere. “Did you ever even look at the pictures that were sent through the group chat?” he demanded. “And I mean really look at them?”

After contemplating how much trouble he would get in if he were to actually follow through with his desire to just dump Midoriya on his ass and keep walking, Kirishima took a step back and stared him down. “Didn’t need to,” he answered briskly.

“Yeah,” Midoriya huffed out. “That’s what I thought. Because if you had looked at them, you would have realized just how ridiculous it was for anyone to believe they were a couple.”

“They’re always together-”

“Because they work together!” Midoriya screamed, clearly restraining himself from knocking Kirishima over the head. “Half of the time, those pictures were taken while the two of them were on patrol! And the other half were at events that everyone had to invite her to themselves!”

“Midoriya-”

“Enough excuses!” Midoriya said, drawing himself up to his full height, chest puffed out as he glared up at Kirishima. “I never thought I would have to do this with you, but I am officially pulling rank!”

A snort escaped Kirishima, unable to handle the serious look on Midoriya’s face accompanied by those words. “I’m sorry,” he said as he crossed his arms. “You’re doing what now?”

“I have known Kacchan longer than you, Kirishima.”

“Yeah,” Kirishima said bitterly. “We all know how long you and Kacchan have been friends.”

A tightly made fist at Midoriya’s side was the only reaction Kirishima got in response for the harsh jab. “And, while most of the time you understand him even better than I do, you are blinded by your own role in this. So you are going to sit down,” he said forcefully, gesturing towards a nearby bench in a way that made it clear it wasn’t a request. “And listen to me.”

Kirishima sat down hesitantly, unsure of whether he should be mad at Midoriya or not.

As much as he wanted to leave, Kirishima had to admit he was surprised by Midoriya’s own anger over this whole situation and sitting quietly for a few minutes seemed like a small price to pay to solve that mystery.

Having the kind of control Kirishima seemed to be lacking these days, Midoriya took a deep, calming breath once he realized that Kirishima was finally going to listen and sat down next to him.

“This competition has been very trying,” he stated bluntly.

Kirishima let out a self-deprecating chuckle. “Tell me about it.”

Rather than launching into yet another one of his lengthy speeches like Kirishima had anticipated, Midoriya merely handed him back his phone, gesturing towards it meaningfully.

On the screen was an image of Kirishima standing in front of the stove in the kitchen, his tongue poking out in concentration with a pan held high in his hands. The picture had been taken right in the middle of Kirishima’s first – and only – attempt at flipping a pancake without using a spatula. Bakugou was in the background, his eyes sparkling with amusement as he sat cross-legged on the counter, a ghost of a smile playing across his lips.

“What is this?” Kirishima asked in a hushed tone.

“I felt guilty at first,” Midoriya started to explain as he leaned across Kirishima to swipe to the next picture. In it, Bakugou was standing next to Kirishima during a skirmish match in class. It was strange, being reminded of what seemed like such a mundane memory. The Kirishima in the picture was too busy strategizing with the rest of their teammates to notice the fierce, almost proud smirk on Bakugou’s face as he stared at him. “It felt like such a huge invasion of privacy. For the both of you. But the more Ashido and Sero pressed that Kacchan and Camie were dating, the more diligent I became.”

Kirishima quickly pulled away when Midoriya made a motion to change the picture again, wanting to scroll through them at his own pace.

Taking it in stride, Midoriya forged on. “I know that they are his friends, but it was…frustrating to see how little they actually understand him,” he said with a shake of his head. “I mean, you should have seen the pictures they were taking. Nearly every single one had him looking like he would rather be anywhere else. And I know that he considers her a friend, but…”

Kirishima was barely even taking in Midoriya’s words, too wrapped up in the countless number of pictures Midoriya had been taking of him and Bakugou this entire time without their knowledge. He was combing through them, desperately trying to rationalize each and every one as evidence of their friendship and nothing more.

This was getting increasingly more difficult to do after each picture, however.

On one hand, many of them were taken where the two were surrounded by their friends in the classroom or back in the dorms. Bakugou was notorious for closing himself off in large groups, so it wasn’t exactly surprising that he always seemed to gravitate towards Kirishima.

On the other hand, there were pictures that couldn’t be as easily explain away. Ones where Bakugou was staring at him with just a bit too much intensity while they were in the weight room or at the mall. Or scenes that were a lot softer from a third-person perspective, like when Bakugou helped him with his hair or when they bandaged each other up.

And then there were pictures like the one he had been staring at for the past minute.

“…but do they honestly think he would treat his significant other like that?” Midoriya continued to fume, ignorant of Kirishima’s plight as he unloaded his own anger and frustrations. “It’s insulting! It’s-”

Midoriya stopped midsentence when he finally caught sight of Kirishima.

“A-ah, yes. Well,” Midoriya stuttered, his face exploding into a violent blush. “In my defense, I didn’t take that one. Ochako had sent that to me and I, ah…I thought it captured the same message as the…uh…the other ones.”

The picture that had them both a blushing mess could only have been taken a few weeks ago during a massive recon mission that had required the support of multiple hero agencies. It had spanned over the course of three days, leaving each hero only a few scattered hours for rest. An area in Endeavor’s headquarters had been set up with food, water, and cots for each hero on duty, with some to spare. That particular bit of information hadn’t seemed to matter to Bakugou since he had collapsed in the same cot that Kirishima was in, despite the various empty ones that could be seen spread out around them. He was using Kirishima as both a blanket and a pillow, his head nestled in the crook of Kirishima’s neck while the rest of the body was tucked underneath Kirishima’s sprawling arms and legs.

“And what exactly is that message?” Kirishima asked cautiously.

Midoriya gingerly took the phone from Kirishima’s hand and backed out to be returned to the main folder that housed all of these pictures. Kirishima didn’t know whether to be impressed or horrified once he saw how much Midoriya had to scroll through to get to the very end.

But once he finally got to the very bottom, Midoriya hesitated before handing the phone back.

He seemed to be weighing his words carefully, needing Kirishima to understand what exactly he was trying to get across with all of this. “Kacchan,” he began, cradling the phone to his chest so Kirishima couldn’t see what was on the screen. “He doesn’t show affection the same way other people do. He rarely listens unless he’s being forced to. And he sure as hell doesn’t smile. I mean, sure, he has his mad grin and that deranged, cocky smile that makes you want to run for the hills. But a joyous one is not exactly in his repertoire. So when he smiles,” Midoriya said, carefully handing him back the phone. “Actually smiles, you have to pay attention to what he’s looking at.”

Despite the ironclad belief that there was nothing in this world that would change his mind, Kirishima was terrified to look at whatever Midoriya was trying to show him.

Instead, he focused on the way his knee bounced erratically up and down, his body too wired from the last few day’s events and the strange energy that Midoriya was giving off.

“I’m sorry for the way your friends have treated you through this,” Midoriya said. “And for any part I may have contributed, as well. If I had known that you truly believed he was dating Camie, I wouldn’t have waited this long to talk to you.”

His apology finally gave Kirishima the courage to look down, needing to know what exactly it was that Midoriya had put all of his faith into.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Kirishima muttered to himself.

He really shouldn’t have been as surprised as he was, knowing that this was the picture that had started this whole mess in the first place. Even now, Kirishima’s chest clenched at how beautiful Bakugou looked, the lights from the arcade game bouncing charmingly off his cheeks as he struggled with whether to tear the tickets off his shoulders and throw them in Kirishima’s face or leave them where they were.

He looked happy.

Genuinely happy as he smiled wide, the corners of his eyes wrinkling with pure glee.

Kirishima had always been bitter about the fact that he had been forced to delete this picture, unable to stomach the fact that something that had once brought him so much joy had been turned against him in such a painful way.

Even so, Kirishima knew that Midoriya wasn’t cruel. He had seen something in this picture that no one else had, something that had convinced him that if there was only one picture that Kirishima needed to see to understand the point he was trying to get across, it was this one.

Kirishima let out a heavy sigh and looked at the picture again, this time through impartial eyes.

What exactly was it that Midoriya had said again? That when Bakugou smiles you have to pay attention to what he’s looking at? If that was the case, why did he choose this picture? The only thing Bakugou was staring at was Camie.

Well…that wasn’t exactly right, was it?

Ashido had been so insistent over the fact that Camie had been the one to bring out Bakugou’s smile that the moment had been forever edited in Kirishima’s mind. But looking at this picture now showed a different scene. One where Bakugou wasn’t smiling at Camie, nor was he smiling at the camera. He was smiling at the person behind the camera.

He was smiling at Kirishima.

“Congratulations, Deku,” a voice growled out from behind them. “Looks like you won the contest.”

Chapter Text

“K-k-kacchan!” Deku exclaimed as he jumped off the bench, throwing his arms up defensively as he took several steps back.

“Scram, asshole,” Bakugou said to Midoriya. Kirishima did nothing to prevent Bakugou from yanking the phone out of his hand, too shocked to do anything other than blink stupidly at him. “And I’mma hold onto this until we get the chance to discuss your creepy, voyeuristic activities.”

Kirishima didn’t know whether he should feel insulted or not by the way Midoriya just took off without even a glance over his shoulder. He probably assumed he had done his job and that Kirishima would be okay being alone with Bakugou, but Kirishima was more confused now than ever.

A small hiss escaped Bakugou as he sat down in the spot that Midoriya had vacatedn

“How is your leg?” Kirishima asked without thinking, genuinely concerned.

“Can you stop thinking about me for one fucking minute?” Bakugou snapped.

Kirishima flinched away, putting as much distance as he could between the two of them.

“Shit, goddammit. That’s not what I,” Bakugou faltered, his free hand clenching into a fist. “I just meant, can you please – for once – think about yourself before someone else? I mean for fuck’s sake, you’re pissed at me and you still went out of your way to bring me food and a blanket.”

Knowing it would be pointless to argue that he wasn’t actually mad at Bakugou, Kirishima instead asked, “So when did you wake up?”

“The blanket,” was the curt answer he received.

“Ah,” Kirishima said awkwardly. After a few more moments of uneasy silence, Kirishima asked, “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Didn’t exactly get the chance, did I?” Bakugou said as he glared daggers into Kirishima’s bag at their feet.

Not really having a response to that, Kirishima looked away.

They both sat there quietly. Kirishima had no idea if he was the one who was supposed to break the silence or if he was supposed to wait for Bakugou. The guy had dragged himself all the way out here, so obviously he wanted to talk. But maybe he was waiting for Kirishima’s permission since he had shut him down so hard after he had tried yesterday.

Bakugou was still staring at Kirishima’s bag while he fidgeted with Midoriya’s phone, lost in thought. Kirishima’s heart skipped a beat when the display popped on before he let out a sigh of relief after realizing it was password protected and the only picture it was showing was one of All Might. He had no idea what he would have done if Bakugou had actually been able to see the pictures that Midoriya had-

“Tch,” Bakugou huffed after he unlocked the phone and started scrolling.

Because of course Bakugou knew Midoriya’s passcode.

Why wouldn’t he?

Kirishima sunk down into the bench, wishing he could just disappear. Rationally, he knew he had no reason to be embarrassed. He hadn’t taken any of the pictures. Hell, he had no idea these pictures had even existed until a few minutes ago! But that didn’t stop his stomach from clenching with uneasy anticipation as Bakugou seemed determined to see every last picture Midoriya had taken of them.

“Fuck.”

The curse was said so quietly that Kirishima almost missed it. Curious to see which picture had prompted that reaction, Kirishima hazarded a glance over to see Bakugou staring dead-eyed at the phone.

“She swore she deleted it.”

That explained it then. It was the picture that had gotten Kirishima just as flustered, though probably not as much as Bakugou.

“I’m gonna have to kill Camie now,” Bakugou stated firmly, as if there were no other options. If it wasn’t for the light dusting of red on his neck and cheeks, Kirishima never would have known just how embarrassed he truly was. His hand went to the back of his neck in an exasperated gesture. “I was just so fucking tired and I always have a hard time sleeping in those open spaces they put us in, so when I saw you I just-”

He broke off as he caught eyes with Kirishima, waving his hand at the phone as if there was no other way to finish that sentence.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Kirishima said with an awkward laugh. “It’s not like we haven’t shared the same bed before.”

“That’s not-” Bakugou started angrily before stopping himself. “That’s not what I was apologizing for. I mean, well yeah, I should probably apologize for that, but I meant…this. All of this. And yesterday in particular. I didn’t mean to…”

Kirishima laughed, a real one this time as Bakugou stopped himself once again. “You are so bad at this!”

“Shut up!” Bakugou scowled. “I had this big ol’ speech prepared and then shitty Deku had to go and ruin it!”

Kirishima gaped at him for only a second before jumping to Midoriya’s defense. “Don’t blame him for this!”

“Okay, fine then!” Bakugou shouted back. “I blame you!”

“Me?” Kirishima questioned in disbelief.

“Yes you! I stayed up all night looking like a fucking idiot waiting for your sorry ass to get back! Had to talk to Ashido to figure out what the fuck was even going on and her blubbering added ten years to the entire goddamn story! Had to get bits and pieces from everyone involved and by then Invisi-bitch had heard what was going on and came out of nowhere to add her two cents! At one point, I even had fucking Camie texting and calling me asking what was going on. And the apologies,” Bakugou said with such disdain. “They wouldn’t shut the fuck up and stop apologizing about the whole thing!”

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima deadpanned, getting the exact reaction he had wanted.

“Ugh!” Bakugou screamed out. “I can’t take it! I hope they do the same thing to you when you come back because I’m sure as shit not letting you leave! You’re in it with me now, asshole, whether you like it or not! So just grab that stupid bag and wake your stupid ass friends up so they can-”

Kirishima tuned out the rest of Bakugou’s rant, thinking to himself that this was it. The perfect moment he had never even imagined. There was no need for flowers or gifts, no need for a life or death situation. All he ever needed was Bakugou, here and now, disrupting an otherwise peaceful Saturday morning as he continued to yell whatever thought crossed his mind.

“-and since that is all anyone wanted to talk about, I have no fucking idea what we covered in class yesterday, so now I have to-”

“I love you.”

Bakugou stopped everything to stare at Kirishima, leaving himself in a very comical position with one arm thrust out and the other halfway in the air.

“Sorry,” Kirishima said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just realized I never actually got to say that yesterday. Or the day before. Or any other time that I’ve wanted to in the past three years. So, you’re gonna have to forgive me for wanting to say it again. I love you, Katsuki.”

Bakugou lowered his arms slowly. He was still staring at Kirishima, eyes moving back and forth rapidly as he tried to process what Kirishima had just admitted, looking for any sort of deceit or insincerity in his words.

“You uh…you’re looking at me like you’re surprised,” Kirishima said, trying to stay calm while his blood hummed for him to take some sort of action. Had he misread something? Did…did Bakugou not actually feel the same way?

“This is real, right?” Bakugou stated bluntly. “This isn’t just the pain meds?”

There was genuine concern in Bakugou’s voice and Kirishima just couldn’t hold in the laugh that burst from his chest at the absurdity of that question. “What? How is that even an option?” he asked. “You haven’t been taking them!”

“I’ve been taking them!” Bakugou shouted, looking affronted.

“No!” Kirishima laughed. “You haven’t!”

“Fine then! So this is real?”

“Yes, this is real!”

“And you love me?” Bakugou questioned.

“Yes,” Kirishima confirmed earnestly.

“And you want to date me?”

Yes,” Kirishima said, struggling not to laugh.

“Not Ashido? Or Taron?” Bakugou sneered. “Or any other asshole that you’ve managed to charm?”

“What?” Kirishima said, laughing again despite it all. “Of course not, Katsuki! It’s you! It’s only ever been you!”

Bakugou leaned forward, tilting Kirishima’s chin down with the pad of his thumb before gently kissing him. Kirishima returned it just as slowly, savoring the touch of Bakugou’s mouth on his. It was a long kiss. A slow one. A good one.

“That,” Bakugou murmured as he drew away several moments after it had become inappropriate for such a public place, even despite the early hour. “Was a really good answer.”

“Well it’s the truth,” Kirishima said once he finally found his voice again. His eyes were still closed so he was caught more off guard by their second kiss than he had been by their first. He hadn’t even realized he had thrown his arm around Bakugou until he found his fingers sliding up Bakugou’s neck and into his hair. “I love you.”

“You said that already.”

“And I’ll say it as many times as I want to,” Kirishima said smugly.

“I’m gonna wipe that stupid look off your face,” Bakugou growled out as he leaned in again, but Kirishima turned his face away so the kiss landed on his cheek.

“You can’t!” Kirishima shouted even as Bakugou tried again, kissing his other cheek instead. “It’s impossible!”

Bakugou grabbed his face and turned him so Kirishima was looking directly at him. “You’re being ridiculous.”

Kirishima was the one to lean in this time, kissing Bakugou with a loud smack right on the lips. “But you still love me!”

The stunned reaction that Bakugou gave him was breathtaking, but it paled in comparison to the smile that he gave Kirishima a second later. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

***

They made their way back to the dorms and up to the fourth floor without running into anyone, heading towards Bakugou’s room with plans to get some much needed sleep. Kirishima had thrown his bag into the corner, not wanting to waste the energy dropping it off in his own room, and was just about to crawl into bed when Bakugou came up behind him.

“This shirt is stupid,” Bakugou proclaimed as he started tugging on the hem of the shirt.

“That is such a bad line,” Kirishima laughed as Bakugou ripped it off with barely a warning and tossed it aside. “If you wanted me out of my clothes, you could have just asked.”

“It’s not a line,” Bakugou growled out, his ears turning pink. “It’s a fucking stupid shirt. Stupider than your usual ones and I refuse to sleep in the same bed as it. Plus it feels like plastic. Where did you even get it?”

Kirishima had to think really hard to find the answer as he watched Bakugou peel out of his own shirt and throw it at him to put on instead, grabbing a new one for himself. “Hatsume gave it to me. My other one got ruined and I had to use that as a spare.”

Bakugou poked his head out of the closet so he could stare dubiously at where the offensive shirt had landed on the floor. “Is it going to blow up?”

“What? No? It’s a shirt.”

Bakugou leveled Kirishima with a cool stare. “She’s always using you as her damn guinea pig when things go boom. There’s a reason I hate when you help her.”

“And here I thought it was because you were jealous,” Kirishima teased. When Bakugou didn’t come up with an immediate retort like he usually would, Kirishima gasped. “Oh my god! You were jealous!”

Bakugou opened his mouth, looking for all the world like he was going to refute the claim, but he snapped it closed. “Yeah, okay, I was jealous. So what? You were jealous of Camie.”

Kirishima frowned. “Can you really blame me for that?”

“Yes.”

“Oh come on, Katsuki! You have to admit that your relationship with her kind of goes a little beyond work friends.”

“I don’t have to admit shit,” Bakugou said. “And you’re not allowed to sit here and whine about it to me. You only had to deal with that jealousy for three months. I’ve had to deal with it for three fucking years!”

Bakugou’s shirt was still in Kirishima’s hands as he sat on the edge of the bed, surprised by the statement. “Three years, huh?” he repeated out loud.

“What?” Bakugou barked.

Kirishima had been having a hard enough time believing that Bakugou loved him just as much as he loved Bakugou, so adding the idea that he had been feeling this way for just as long as Kirishima had was making him question whether Hatsume had actually killed him last night. He had no right making fun of Bakugou for thinking this was all just a hallucination caused by his pain medication. “It’s just…when did you know?”

Bakugou made his way to stand next to him. “Does it really matter?”

“Well, no,” Kirishima said after he thought about it for a moment, finally slipping the shirt on over his head. It was a tight fit and he was sure he would stretch it out, but Bakugou didn’t seem to care about that if the look in his eyes was anything to go by. “I suppose not. But I am curious. Was it the Sports Festival our first year?”

“No.”

“What about after my fight with Rappa?”

“No.”

“Was it the…after the, umm…”

Bakugou gave him an unimpressed look, knowing exactly what he was referencing.

“After the…Training Camp?”

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to drop this, are you?”

“I can if you want me to,” Kirishima said sincerely. “It’s just, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this. First year I was so-”

“Manly?” Bakugou offered. “Brave?”

Kirishima laughed. “More like pathetic.”

Bakugou made a face. “What? No you weren’t.”

“I just…don’t feel like I was someone who deserved your attention.”

“Fine!” Bakugou shouted. “It was right after the Provisional License Exam. There. Are you happy?”

“So it was my awesome cooking skills that reeled you in! I always knew the way to your heart was through your stomach!” Kirishima said with a fist pump.

Bakugou stared at him. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“The cake I made?” Kirishima answered, though it was more of a question. “After you passed and got your license?”

“No,” Bakugou said like he was speaking to a child. “It wasn’t when I passed.”

“You’re talking about the first one, then? After you-”

He knew it was rude, but Kirishima just gaped at Bakugou, his mouth hanging open as Bakugou’s eyes got narrower and narrower.

“That…that was-”

“Back in first year,” Bakugou finished preemptively. “I know. Stop making a big deal about it. It’s embarrassing enough as is.”

“No…,” Kirishima said as he slowly shook his head. “No, that is not what I was going to say, Katsuki. This has nothing to do with the fact that it was that long ago.”

“Then what’s the issue?”

A hysterical sound came out of Kirishima that he hadn’t thought was possible for him to make.

“That was like…our biggest fight. Ever.”

“Yeah,” Bakugou said, jutting his chin forward defensively. “And?”

“We didn’t talk for a week.”

“Which gave me time to think.”

“I threw you through a wall,” Kirishima said, trying to get him to remember just how serious it had been. He had been honestly terrified that Bakugou was going to stop being friends with him after that, a worry that had clearly been way off base. “A wall, Katsuki!”

“So? It was hot,” Bakugou stated nonchalantly as he used Kirishima’s stunned reaction to crawl into his lap, running his hands up and down Kirishima’s arms. “And you were a skinny little shit back then. Imagine what you could do to me now.”

Kirishima’s face was on fire. “You can’t just-”

“Are you serious right now?” Bakugou asked as he leaned back on Kirishima’s lap and crossed his arms irritably. “I told you what you wanted to know, what more do you want from me?”

“I don’t know!” Kirishima said, his voice coming out a little more frantic than he wanted. “But some context would be nice!”

Kirishima had to hurry and grab hold of Bakugou’s waist so he wouldn’t fall of his lap when he threw his hands up in the air in exasperation. “It’s not that complicated! You asked me when I knew. Really knew,” he said, poking Kirishima in the chest to emphasize each word. “And it wasn’t when you caught my attention after the Sports Festival or when my stupid heart damn near exploded when you shot out of a wall to save my ass. It was when I was mad. And hurt. And being a broody little bitch because I failed the exam. It was when I took out all my anger on you because I was furious that – once again – you had risked yourself to save me just so I could go and fail at the very end. It was when all I wanted you to do was just leave me alone because I was so certain that you had some ulterior motive for befriending me and I didn’t want to deal with that shit because if it was true-”

Bakugou took a deep breath and looked away for a few seconds before turning back to Kirishima. He used both hands to tuck Kirishima’s hair behind his ears and kept them there, cupping his face.

“But it wasn’t true,” he said, calmer now as his frustration deflated just as quickly as it had built up. “Because, even after I said all those shitty things and got the reaction I wanted from you, you still came back. And not out of fear or pity or whatever other dumbass reason I had thought of, but because you still cared. You were mad as hell and told me exactly why what I had done was shitty,” he chuckled. “But you still cared. Cared about us. Cared about me. So yeah, Eijirou. Our biggest fight is when I knew that I probably loved you. Are you happy now?”

Kirishima picked him up as carefully as he could and shifted them so he could pin Bakugou to the bed, kissing him hard. Taking that for the answer it was, Bakugou’s right hand stayed settled in Kirishima’s hair while his other roamed freely along his back.

“I thought. We were going. To get. Some sleep,” Bakugou murmured against Kirishima’s lips.

“Mmm,” Kirishima said as he drew back only slightly. “Well, we’re in bed. That’s the first step, isn’t it?”

So far removed from what was going on outside of himself and Bakugou, Kirishima almost missed the knocking that could be heard from next door. Voices came drifting through the wall as a group of people barged their way into Kirishima’s room but they were too muffled to hear any distinct words. Kirishima had a very distant thought that he should probably be doing something about that, which all but evaporated when Bakugou started trailing kisses along his neck.

It wasn’t until the knocking started coming from Bakugou’s door that it officially became his problem.

Kirishima pulled away regretfully. “Should we-”

“No,” Bakugou growled, punctuating his answer with a kiss as he chased after Kirishima’s mouth.

The knocking became more insistent.

“They might try to-”

“Already locked the door,” Bakugou said right as the handle started to jiggle.

“Bakugou,” Hagakure half-whispered. “Are you in there?”

“Of course he’s in there,” Jirou said. “Where else would he be?”

Kirishima pulled away yet again. “Maybe you should just-”

Bakugou effortlessly flipped their positions so he was on top, shouting a gruff, “Go away!” before returning to Kirishima in less time than it took Kirishima to blink in surprise.

“Don’t be like that, Blasty!” Sero’s shouted. “We already said we were sorry!”

“Yeah, dude,” Kaminari said. “Even though some of us had no reason to- Oww! Mina, what the hell!”

“Goddammit,” Bakugou mumbled as he seemingly gave up on returning to their previous activity, leaning his forehead against Kirishima’s. “Your friends are the worst.”

“They’re your friends too,” Kirishima chided.

“No, I only hang out with them because I’m dating you.”

“Oh?” Kirishima teased with feigned ignorance. “Are we dating?”

“Just open the door, Bakugou,” Ashido said. “We’re pretty sure Eijirou left to go home and we need you to give us a ride.”

Bakugou gave Kirishima a look, letting him know it was his decision on whether they let their friends know he was in there with him. But there were a lot of things to factor into that seemingly simple decision.

Even though everything had worked out with Bakugou in the end, Kirishima was still reeling from the emotional roller coaster it had been. Adding that to the total of four hours of sleep he had been able to get in the past two days meant that he had very little energy to expend on sorting through how he was feeling.

On the surface he knew he was still angry. Still hurt. And while his friends were currently braving Bakugou’s wrath so they could find him and apologize, neither party would be satisfied with a hurried conversation in the hallway. Sure, it would definitely be a start, but it was a step that Kirishima was too exhausted to take right now.

Understanding just what thoughts were racing through his head, Bakugou made the decision for him. “He left for a reason, idiots! Now go away!”

“That’s harsh, even for you,” Hagakure lectured through the door.

“Well I’m not the one who’s been treating him like shit for the last few months. Figure out a way to fix things with him without involving me.”

“It would take all day to get to his house by train,” Sero tried to reason.

“You’d better get moving, then,” Bakugou replied.

“What are you doing?” Kirishima asked in a hushed tone. “Tell them not to go!”

“Why?”

“Because I’m not there!” Kirishima hissed out.

“So?”

Before Kirishima could continue the argument, a feminine voice that he couldn’t immediately identify spoke up. “I know you’re mad at them but just open the door, B.”

“Who is that?” Kirishima whispered.

Bakugou literally growled in anger.

“It’s Camie, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is,” Bakugou snarled.

“You know what we could do?” Kirishima said as he idly played with the hair at the nape of Bakugou’s neck. “We could just turn this into one big apology party.”

“What?” Bakugou deadpanned.

“Yeah, no, this could be great,” Kirishima said, actually starting to warm up to the idea. “Our friends apologize to me. I apologize to Camie. And then we’re done. We can all just move on.”

“Why do you think you have to apologize to Camie?” Bakugou asked, ignoring the increasingly rude comments their friends were making in an attempt to get him to open the door.

“Well I feel like some apology is due with the way I’ve been treating her.”

Bakugou snorted. “No.”

“But-”

“Everyone in the hallway needs to leave right now!” Bakugou warned.

“Come on, babe!” Camie shouted. “Stop acting like such a brat.”

Kirishima shot Bakugou a very pointed look. “Yeah, it’s crazy that I thought you two were dating.”

“Especially you, Camie!” Bakugou shouted at the door, turning back to Kirishima. “See, this is why you don’t have to say shit to her. I mean, why is she even here? Why the fuck are you even here?” he shouted, directing the last question once again towards the door.

“Look, I’m sorry that I called her. I had no idea that she was going to come over,” Ashido said. “But I feel really bad about what I did to you guys and Camie is my friend. I really don’t want to ruin our friendship so I thought it would be best if I was the first one to tell her.”

“No, you just wanted the opportunity to twist the story so you wouldn’t look as bad,” Bakugou said bluntly.

“That’s not-”

“Stop,” Bakugou said. “I don’t care. I want to get back to what I was doing before you all rudely interrupted, so go. Away.”

“Just hear them out, Bakugou,” Camie said. “You can sleep later.”

“I already did hear them out. Last night. For hours.”

“Why are you being such an asshole about this?” Camie asked, sounding more confused than angry.

The warmth on top of Kirishima disappeared as Bakugou jumped off the bed and stomped over to the door. “I have every right to be an asshole about this!” he shouted through the door, still refusing to open it.

“It was just some harmless fun,” she tried to reason.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“Hey, I may not have the full story but I know enough to know that I’m just as much a victim here as you are but you don’t see me crying about it.”

Bakugou gave Kirishima a bewildered look, throwing his hand at the door in disbelief. “Is she fucking serious? Are you fucking serious?” he said a bit louder so Camie could hear.

“Yeah, I’m serious,” Camie said. “They were just taking pictures, B. No harm, no foul.”

Bakugou quirked his head dangerously to the side.

Kirishima threw an arm over his face and let out a sigh, mentally preparing himself to face his friends since he knew exactly what Bakugou was going to do next.

“You know,” Bakugou said as he ripped open the door. “It’s funny that you’re pushing that particular argument right now.”

Camie was standing directly at the front of the group, blocking the rest of them from Kirishima’s view as she gave Bakugou a smug grin, clearly thinking she had won by getting him to finally open the door. “And why is that?”

“Because I seem to recall having a very frank conversation with you about what would happen if I found out you shared that picture of me.”

“What picture are you-”

The smile slipped off her face as realization hit her like a truck going a hundred miles an hour.

She took a few steps back, the rest of the group clearing the way as Bakugou followed her. It was quiet enough that Kirishima was able to hear Kaminari’s whispered comment to Sero about how he wasn’t the only one in the group to have leaked nudes now and the grunt of pain when Sero undoubtedly elbowed him.

“Listen, B,” Camie said. “Uravity was the one who took it, all I did was-”

Bakugou dove towards her, but she must have been anticipating it since she feigned to the left and ducked under his arms, shooting into the room and slamming the door behind her.

“I’m going to fucking kill you!” Bakugou shouted as he pounded on the wood.

“I deleted it!” Camie shouted back, putting her entire body against the door in an attempt to keep him out. She fumbled with the lock before it finally clicked into place and took a few careful steps back as she watched the door with wary trepidation. “You saw me delete it, you oaf! Just calm down and-”

Camie choked on her words, her mouth hanging open as she finally caught sight of Kirishima on the bed. He gave her a pathetic little wave with a grimaced smile on his face.

“Hey,” he said, the greeting a little anticlimactic for the situation.

“I’m not dating Bakugou.”

The words seemed to tumble out of her mouth as she stared wide-eyed at him.

Kirishima laughed as he brushed his hand through the mess that Bakugou had made of his hair. “Yeah, I kind of figured that out.”

Camie blinked as the action drew her attention to his ruffled state. “Are you what he wanted to get back to doing?”

A loud explosion against the door made them both jump before Kirishima even had the chance to blush.

“Can he, uh…can he get through that door?” Camie asked shakily as she took a few more steps away, putting as much distance as she could between herself and the only thing keeping her safe.

“Honestly?” Kirishima said. “I have no idea. Cementoss seems determined to create a door that he can’t break. And while it has been a few months since he’s destroyed one-” Another explosion sent tremors through the room even as they heard the rest of their classmates yelling for Bakugou to stop. “-he does seem a tad more determined than he has in the past.”

“Okay. Okay,” Camie repeated in that same frenzied tone. “This is fine. It’s not like he’s going to-”

A louder boom followed by increasingly vulgar threats came drifting through the door.

“Man,” Camie said with a shaky laugh. “I should not have come here.”

Having seemingly abandoned all hope of getting out of this situation unscathed and knowing she had nothing left to lose, Camie sat down in the chair next to Bakugou’s desk and started rummaging through the drawers.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Kirishima asked as he watched her, genuinely curious about the answer but also needing to create a distraction from the awkward tension in the air. “Why did you come?”

Camie took in a deep breath and then blew it all out in one puff of air, leaning against the chair so she was precariously balanced on the back two legs. “I dunno,” she said with a jerk of her shoulders. “I mainly just needed to figure out what the hell was going on.”

Kirishima couldn’t help the chuckle at her candid response. “What do you mean?”

“Well Mina called me super late last night just sobbing as she told me about this picture contest thing everyone had been doing that was centered around me and Bakugou. Confused the hell out of me. I had no idea what she was talking about, and I’m still not really sure what’s going on, but I think I got enough of the gist to figure out that everyone thinks we’re dating? And with the way she was talking both last night and this morning it didn’t sound like Bakugou had told them any different, which was even more confusing since he never shuts up about you and I highly doubt he liked the idea of you thinking we were dating.”

All four legs of the chair Camie was sitting on slammed to the ground when she saw the look of disbelief on Kirishima’s face.

“No! No! Nuh-uh!” she said, wagging a finger at him. “Don’t give me that look! You don’t have to listen to him go on and on about some stupid thing you had done that he thought was cute or how you took down a villain that was twice your size. You’re a hero! You do that every day! He does it every day! You think at some point it would have lost its appeal!”

Camie was beyond concern at this point, flat out ignoring the next explosion that rocked the door.

“That idiot won’t even text you when other people are around ‘cause he knows he gets this stupid look in his eyes! And don’t even get me started on the times I’ve caught him watching your interviews! I loved what you wore on the cover of Juzo News, by the way,” she added absentmindedly. “That sport jacket, tailored to perfection, with no shirt on underneath? Genius.”

“Thanks?” Kirishima said, his face fully ablaze at this point.

“Anyways,” Camie said with the wave of her hand. “I tried texting Bakugou but he wasn’t answering. Which is, you know, not all that unusual for him, but I was still worried. And since he won’t be into work any time soon because of his leg, I knew that any chance I would have to talk to him would be if I dragged my sorry ass down here, so here I am!”

Kirishima stared at her for a few seconds, finally beginning to understand why they were such good friends when jealousy wasn’t involved. “You’re a really good friend, Camie.”

“Thanks!” she said, flashing him a huge smile that Kirishima easily returned. “I hope this means you’ll stop hating me now,” she added casually as she picked up a notebook and started flipping through it, completely ruining the moment.

“You know,” Kirishima said with a low chuckle. “I was going to stop him from killing you.”

“Oh please. Like I honestly believe he would,” she brushed off. “I don’t even know why he’s mad at me. Uraraka was the one who took the picture, I just asked her to send it to me. And it was hella adorable! Did you see it?”

Kirishima nodded.

“Good! He won’t believe me, but I really did delete it when he asked me to.” She quickly grew bored with the notebook and flung it back onto the desk. “My turn for questions! Why are you avoiding your friends? I didn’t really get the full story about how you’re involved in all of this.”

“Ah,” Kirishima said, puffing out his cheeks. “It’s kind of a long story.”

To his surprise, Camie didn’t push the issue. “That’s fine. I get it. Complicated shit going on. But it looks like you and Bakugou figured your stuff out?”

“Yeah,” Kirishima said with a small smile. “Yeah, I think we did.”

“That’s great! Word of advice for ya, though,” she said as she leaned towards him. “I’ve seen that hero costume of yours. You might want to have him be a bit less obvious with marking you up.”

Kirishima’s hand slapped over his neck right as the door exploded and fell to the ground.

Bakugou stood in the doorway, palms smoking and looking absolutely terrifying as he was backlit by the fluorescent lighting of the hallway.

Taking no chances, Camie leapt onto the bed with Kirishima and ducked down behind him to use as a human shield. “Come on, B. You wouldn’t do anything that could harm your boyfriend, would you?”

Bakugou stalked into the room.

Rather than immediately lunging towards Camie like Kirishima expected he would, he crouched down and dragged a thrashing Camie out from under the bed. The copy of her that had been hiding behind Kirishima disappeared in a haze as the real Camie started screaming. Bakugou blindly grabbed one of the pillows that had been knocked to the ground and started smothering her with it.

“I know that head of yours is filled with hot air, but come on,” he said with a mad look on his face. “Even if that had worked, did you suddenly forget what his quirk is?”

Camie was able to push the pillow away enough to take a much needed breath, but she used it to ridicule Bakugou rather than put any real effort into getting away. “How can I when you never shut up about it? His abs are rock hard, Camie,” she said in a high-pitched, mocking tone. “He’s got mountains of muscle. I swear he must have been a greek statue in another life.”

“Hmm,” a questioning hum came from the hallway.

Kirishima looked over to see that the hallway was a lot more crowded than it had been previously. Bakugou’s explosions and the shouting would have attracted some attention regardless, but the rest of the class was probably still on edge from what had transpired the night before that they felt the need to investigate.

“Is that why you know so many rock puns?” Midoriya asked, genuinely interested in the answer.

Kirishima was across the room faster than anyone could even blink to tackle Bakugou before he acted on the murder in his eyes.

“Really, dude?” Kirishima said to Midoriya as he tried to hold a squirming Bakugo down. “He’s already mad at you. Did you have to provoke him like that?”

Midoriya’s apology was lost in the wave of noise that came from their classmates.

“I’m sorry, but did anyone else hear Camie say boyfriend?”

“When did Eijirou get here?”

“Wait, do you think she was talking about Eijirou?”

“Fuck dude, Aizawa is gonna be piiiiiissed.”

“Get off me, Ei,” Bakugou said calmly. “I’m just gonna kill him and then I’m gonna kill that blonde bimbo and then we can go back to bed. Easy as that.”

“You are not killing Midoriya, Katsuki.”

“I notice you’re not trying to stop him from killing me!” Camie screeched.

“Answer the question, Bakugou,” Uraraka said. “We want to make sure that no stone is left unturned.”

“Alright, just have to kill three people and then we can go back to bed.”

“CLASS 3-A!” Iida’s booming voice cut through the cacophony of everyone’s shouting. “We are the top students of this nation’s most prestigious academy! Please act like it!” Once they all finally settled down, Iida straightened his back. “Now, will someone tell me what is going on here?”

“Tenya!” Camie shouted as she ran out of the room, literally jumping into his arms. “Save me!”

Iida tried to set her down but she refused to be removed entirely so he was stuck holding her as he asked, “Hello, Ms. Utsushimi. May I ask why you are on school grounds?”

“Well, I don’t know if you heard, but Bakugou had a bit of an accident the other day and broke his leg,” Camie said as she pressed coyly up against him. “He wasn’t answering any of my attempts to get in contact with him and I knew I just needed to come over here and make sure he was okay.”

“That is very kind of you, Ms. Utsushimi-”

“Camie,” she corrected him.

“Ms. Camie,” he continued. “But to be on school property, especially in the dorms, you are required to obtain permission from the school administration. Have you done so?”

“You know,” Camie said as she put a finger up to a pouted lip. “I don’t think I have. Do you think you could help?”

Seemingly unruffled by her obvious flirtations, Iida nodded his head as he was able to finally disentangle himself from her. “Certainly, just follow me-”

His voice broke off as Camie slipped her arm into his and blinked up at him expectantly. He coughed once and adjusted his glasses before ushering her out of the door, blind to the sarcastic kiss Camie blew Bakugou’s way as they left.

Silence followed after their exit that everyone was afraid to break.

Almost everyone, that is.

“Eijirou,” Ashido started to say. “I’m really-”

“I know,” Kirishima said softly. “And we can talk about it. Just…later, okay?”

Ashido looked like she wanted to argue with him, but she puffed up her cheeks and nodded instead. “Later.” As an obvious start to her apology, she ushered everyone out of the room and shut the door behind them.

“Well,” Kirishima said as he finally let go of Bakugou and leaned against the bed. “That could have gone a lot worse. Could have gone better, sure. But it definitely could have gone worse. How is your leg?”

“Goddammit,” Bakugou snickered, not even bothering to move from where he was sprawled out on the floor.

“What?” Kirishima asked.

“I’m just so fucking in love with you,” he said, blindly reaching out to grab Kirishima’s hand. “And yes, my leg is fine.”

“Good,” Kirishima said, too flustered to say anything else. “That’s…good.”

Stretching towards his desk without untangling their hands, Bakugou reached up to grab his phone.

 “Who are you texting?” Kirishima asked, lazily watching Bakugou struggle with only the one hand.

“Camie,” Bakugou answered as he shut his phone down and slid it across the floor. “Just letting her know that she can fuck right off with that visitors pass.”

“So,” Kirishima said conversationally. “Since we no longer have to worry about being disturbed, did you want to try to get some sleep or should we…”

Bakugou lifted his head off the floor to give Kirishima a sly smirk, pulling his boyfriend down to lie next to him. “What do you think?”

 

After waking up several hours later:

“I’m starving and I don’t want to cook,” Bakugou stated as he stretched out on top of Kirishima. “What do you want to do for dinner?”

“Shit,” Kirishima said.

“What?”

“I told Taron I’d meet him for dinner tonight,” Kirishima answered, not missing the face Bakugou gave him. “I need to cancel but my phone is broken.”

“Hell,” Bakugou replied. “If you really want to apologize to Camie, you’ll invite her along. She was all moon-eyed over him.”

Kirishima gave him an evaluative look. “Does that mean you want to go?”

“No,” was Bakugou’s immediate reply. After a few moments, he added, “What time do we need to leave?”