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It starts with a comment.

Actually, more like with a BANG. And yelling. And Bakugou going DIE DIE DIE because some poor soul probably dared to say hi to him or something.

The comment is this:

“Bakugou doesn’t like anybody, does he?” Tsuyu asks.

“That…would be putting it lightly,” Izuku replies.

She comes to a stop beside him, regarding the scene before them with a frank curiosity. Coming down the school steps are Uraraka and Tokoyami. They pause at the commotion, joining him and Tsuyu in spectating.

“We should probably stop him,” Uraraka says, but she sounds exhausted. Training was brutal today. “I can float him if you can distract him enough for me to get close, Tokoyami.”

Dark Shadow peeks out from behind Tokoyami’s shoulder and whines at the BOOM and flash that greets it. Tokoyami shifts on his feet, sheepish. “I’m afraid Dark Shadow’s still a little…unsettled. From the sports festival fight.”

The four of them stand there for a moment longer, each thinking of their aches and bruises and how much they do not want to try their hand at wrangling Bakugou Katsuki. But—well, they’re heroes in training and even if the student Bakugou is fighting seems to be holding their own, they really should do something.

But even Izuku, whose habit is to butt his head in Bakugou’s business, is too worn out from Aizawa’s grueling practice to muster up any sort of heroic intentions.

“You’ve known him for a while,” Tsuyu says to him. “Isn’t there somebody in his life he’d listen to? His mom, maybe?”

Izuku bites back a laugh. Kacchan? Listen to his mom? Those two are more like siblings than mother and son. Screeching one moment, asking what the other wants for dinner the next, no apology or acknowledgment of what passed moments ago.

Sometimes, he really feels for Bakugou Masaru. He can’t imagine what life must be like, stuck between a volcano of a wife and a hurricane of a son.

“Not really?” He scratches idly at his bandages. “All Might is the closest authority figure I can think of that Kacchan would listen to—but you’ve seen him with All Might.”

Uraraka muffles a laugh. “I don’t think I know anybody else who would grumble at their idol like that.”

“Maybe he’s a tsundere,” Tsuyu offers.

Izuku chokes.

Uraraka giggles and pats his back. Tokoyami looks at Tsuyu like he can’t believe what just came out of her mouth.

“Your mind is more disturbing than any darkness I’ve known,” he says.

She blinks. “Thanks.”

“K-Kacchan?” Izuku wheezes. “A tsundere?”

He tries to imagine it. His brain stalls. The idea that his childhood friend slash bully would…would blush and stammer angrily after thrusting homemade food at their crush…

He shudders. Nope, no, no way. That’s just wrong. Bakugou hates people.

“Oh man,” someone says. “Not again.”

He turns to find Kirishima ambling up to them, hands in his pockets. His uniform jacket is tucked in the crook of his elbow and his shirt sleeves are rolled up. There’s a bandage taped to his cheek and his hair is starting to flop into his eyes.

“Oh, hi, Kirishima. What’d Recovery Girl say about your shoulder?”

Kirishima gives them a thumbs up. “Just a sprain. She kissed it better, don’t worry.”

At that moment, there’s another BOOM and a screech. With all this noise, it’s kind of a wonder that nobody’s come to investigate it.

“So what’s he mad about this time?” Kirishima asks.

The four of them shrug. What isn’t Bakugou mad about at any given moment? You could bet on literally anything and you’d win.

Kirishima huffs a laugh. “Right, well. I need to get home, so let’s break this up.”

He strides forward. Izuku, marveling in his easy confidence, only realizes what he’s about to do when he starts to call out to Bakugou.

The blood drains from Izuku’s face. “Wait—”

“Bakugou!” Kirishima yells, hand cupped around his mouth. “Hey! Cut it out, man, you’re taking up the whole path!”

Bakugou whips around, face contorted in a typical scowl. “Fuck you!”

But all Kirishima does is grin and jog those last few steps to sling his arm around Bakugou. “Don’t be like that, dude. Aren’t you tired from training?”

Explosions crackle over Bakugou’s hands, but—and here’s the miraculous thing—he doesn’t move away. “Hah? Who the fuck do you think I am? That shit was nothing.”

“True. Well, I’m wiped, and Recovery Girl’s healing sure didn’t help with that.”

Bakugou’s eyes narrow. He still hasn’t pushed Kirishima’s arm off him. “That’s your own damn fault. Know your fucking limits, idiot.”

“But you’re the one always going all out, though?”

“That’s because I fucking can! I’m better than all you assholes!”

“Yes, yes,” Kirishima sings, patting Bakugou’s chest. Is he trying to—to soothe Bakugou’s ruffled feathers? Izuku feels his fingers twitch. He feels like he should be writing this down. But if Bakugou catches him, he’ll die. “Still, no need for you to blow up the walkway. C’mon, let’s get ice cream.”

“Tell me why the hell I should spend money just to be around your shitty ass a second longer.”

“My treat? It’s a hot day, man. Indulge a little.”

And with an apologetic wave to the slightly charred student, Kirishima tugs Bakugou away from the fight. Just like that. They walk through the gates and disappear around the corner. The birds start chirping again. Peace is restored.

“I kind of feel like I witnessed something momentous,” Tsuyu remarks after a moment.

Tokoyami nods. “Midoriya, your mouth is hanging open.”

Uraraka puts a finger under Izuku’s chin and closes it for him.

“What the heck,” he whispers.

 


 

And that’s how the Kirishima and Bakugou Phenomenon Analysis starts.

 


 

When Izuku gets into something, he gets into it.

He’s talking days and nights thinking about nothing but the thing. Obsessing until he can’t sleep, collecting information like a dragon with its hoard, observing his chosen subject until his eyes are bloodshot.

With heroes, with All Might, he dives into forum boards and news articles, conspiracy videos and fandom, anything he could get his hands on. Skill stats, capture rates, quirk analyses, calculations and speculation, his own or made by others—he writes it all down. Not to mention the figurines and hoodies and limited-edition duvet covers and toothpaste—if they sold All Might bottled air, chances are, he would buy it. His mom is probably grateful they don’t.

But the problem with his new interest is that…

Well, for one thing, Kirishima and Bakugou are his classmates. Obsessing over a public figure isn’t too bad, but it’s a different story when it’s your peers and you could get labelled a Mineta for it.

Secondly, where is Izuku going to get the same info on his classmates that he does All Might? They’re not pro-heroes. People don’t watch them, don’t talk about them. Izuku’s all on his own if he wants to figure this out.

Because that’s what he’s planning to do.

He’s going to figure out what exactly is going on between Kirishima and Bakugou.

Because there is something there! He’s sure of it, and it’s—to be honest, it’s fascinating. He feels like he’s on the verge of an earth-shattering discovery.

From a young age, Izuku’s made it a habit to study the people around him. To sharpen his mind. So of course he’s studied Bakugou—his moves, his behaviors. (It’s a little creepy, he admits, but Bakugou used to bully him so turnabout is fair play or whatever.) Beside his parents, Izuku’s probably the closest one to a Bakugou expert.

So this? This whole thing with Kirishima? With the harmless snarling and the acceptance disguised as unwillingness? The touching??

It’s gold.

 


 

The next day, Izuku is ready.

He’s got a new notebook lying open under the one he uses for class. He’s at his desk, hunched over but eyes alert. He’s going to observe the hell out of this.

Exactly ten minutes before class starts, Bakugou hooks his foot in the gap between door and wall and slides it open with a bang. Excessive as always. If it were Izuku, he’d just push it open with the back of his hand to avoid leaving nitroglycerin on the door.

Predictably, Bakugou clicks his tongue at the sight of him. Probably annoyed that he showed up first, never mind the fact that a couple of their classmates are here too.

Izuku just averts his eyes and scribbles something meaningless on his schoolbooks. Appeased, Bakugou drops into his seat, chin propped on his palm.

Mindless chatter fills the class as the minutes tick by. Three minutes before Aizawa is set to arrive, Kirishima skids through the door. His tie is a little crooked, but his hair is perfectly spiked. Izuku nods. Priorities, he gets them.

With bated breath, he watches as Kirishima straightens, waves hi to Ashido, Sero and Kaminari, then turns to Bakugou and beams.

Oh my god, Izuku revels. It’s real. There’s really someone out there that likes Bakugou, that would smile upon seeing him. Oh wow.

“Bakugou!” Kirishima bounds forward. “I tried that pain relief patch you told me about yesterday! You’re right, my shoulder totally feels better.”

“Of course I’m right,” Bakugou grumbles. “Only a dumbass wouldn’t know the basics.”

But Kirishima doesn’t find offense, only clapping Bakugou on the back before moving to his desk.

Izuku waits until Bakugou’s attention is sufficiently occupied by his thoughts before picking up his pencil and scribbling down his notes at a carefully calm pace. He bites on his lip to make sure he doesn’t mutter. It wouldn’t do to catch attention, after all.

 


 

At lunch, Bakugou sits at a corner table by himself, radiating an aura of ‘don’t even look at me’ so strongly that the plants around him are practically wilting.

But this doesn’t deter Kirishima in the slightest. After grabbing his food, he takes the seat opposite Bakugou and immediately engages him in conversation. Or tries to. From where Izuku is sitting, it looks like Kirishima is just throwing words at him until he says something so infuriating that Bakugou has to reply, just to tell him off.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty good tactic. The key point here though, is that it’s a tactic only Kirishima could pull off. His hardening quirk keeps him safe when Bakugou eventually blows up.

It…actually looks like Kirishima is having fun.

Miracle number two: there’s someone who finds Bakugou enjoyable company. Izuku has never seen anyone laugh and smile so much around Bakugou. Usually they just cower and cry.

Izuku takes a sip from his miso, eyes peering over the lip of his bowl. He really wishes he could hear what they were saying. The things that Kirishima say to Bakugou hit that perfect grey area of being critical without demeaning, appeasing without flattering. Izuku has no idea how it comes so naturally to him. ‘Cause Izuku might know what makes his childhood friend tick, but that doesn’t mean he can put that knowledge into practice. Everything that Izuku is, seems designed to make Bakugou hate him.

There’s a metaphor here somewhere; Izuku knows Bakugou…intellectually? Theoretically? But Kirishima knows Bakugou…in practice? Physically?—no, that’s definitely not it.

As he’s ruminating, Kirishima, without blinking, snags a piece of Bakugou’s food and pops it in his mouth. Izuku sputters into his miso.

Then he watches, gob-smacked, at the interaction that plays out in front of him. Because Kirishima doesn’t die.

Instead, Bakugou pops some harmless explosions, yells (probably something like, “Wh—you fucking—that’s my food! Open your mouth, spit it out!”) whacks Kirishima’s hardened head, yells some more and then—then he sits back down.

He sits down. And starts eating again. Angrily, but still. What?

Kirishima, on his part, leans back to brush soot from his face and just…continues to smile that shark-toothed grin of his.

And that’s it. That’s it. How is that all that happens? How?

Where’s the face-stomping? The table-flipping? The fires and the screams of the damned and the property damage?

Iida hands Izuku a napkin. “There is miso on your chin.”

Izuku wipes his face with a shaking hand. He’s vibrating in his seat; he needs to write this down immediately.

Seriously; gold.

 


 

Now that Izuku is looking, he can’t stop seeing.

He was wrong; this is easier than hero analysis. It’s practically spelled out for him in 24-pt font. Bolded, italicized and underlined and thrown right in his face. He’d have a harder time avoiding it.

Sure, to anyone else, it would look like Bakugou hates Kirishima just as much as any other ‘extra,’ but they don’t pay attention to how close Bakugou lets Kirishima get.

In middle school, Bakugou had followers, but he maintained a strict three-foot distance from them at all times. Like a bubble of ‘I’m better than you and you should be grateful I even let your stank ass this close.’ There was no arm-slinging, no fist-bumps or hip-checking. If Izuku’s honest, it kind of looked lonely.

That mindset is probably why his attempts to reach out were always rebuffed.

Kirishima, on the other hand, reaches out not because of pity, but because he…doesn’t see why he shouldn’t? Or maybe it’s because he wants to? Kirishima is a straight-forward guy, and it’s unfamiliar and baffling enough to disarm Bakugou. Even when he pokes fun, it doesn’t throw Bakugou into an actual murderous rampage.

“Bakugou. Hey, Bakugou, look.”

Izuku’s gaze zeroes in on the scene across the training field. It plays out in slow motion: Bakugou grunts and turns his head—and his cheek squishes under Kirishima’s waiting finger.

Bakugou blinks.

“Haha, got you!” Kirishima crows. “Dude, your skin is really soft. Do you do skincare or something?”

His finger curls; the knuckle rubs against Bakugou’s cheek. Izuku’s almost kills himself holding back the squeak that threatens to erupt from him. He wheezes, hands clapped over his mouth.

Bakugou slaps an explosion to Kirishima’s face.

Kirishima goes flying. When he lands, he’s laughing. Laughing. “Oh my god, haha—oh god, Bakugou, holy shit.”

Bakugou stands over him, fuming, face fire-engine red. “Stand up. I’m going to beat your ass.”

Kirishima just grins and sweeps his legs out from under him. Bakugou goes down swearing, voice rising when Kirishima tries to pin him. They go rolling across the dirt, bumping into their classmates’ legs. Explosions and laughter ring through the air and they don’t stop until Aizawa wakes up, gives them the evil eye and erases their quirks.

Kirishima, no longer hardened, falls right on top of Bakugou. Bakugou’s face bursts into flames.

Izuku pulls out his notebook and writes in it so fast that the paper rips.

 


 

Their quirks are compatible.

Their. Quirks. Are. Compatible.

 


 

Kirishima gives Bakugou a noogie. Izuku didn’t know that was even possible; that someone could get Bakugou under their arm like that and—and ruffle his hair.

Every day, Kirishima is discovering uncharted land. Can’t you get a medal for that or something?

 


 

Their quirks. Are compatible.

Izuku’s never really thought much about romance, but God, isn’t that a little too perfect?

 


 

He tries to figure out when it happened.

When did Bakugou decide Kirishima was worth his time?

When did Kirishima look at Bakugou and go, ‘hm, I think I’ll pick that one to annoy into friendship’? When did he start to succeed?

After much deliberation, Izuku guesses that the Calvary Battle was when Kirishima forcefully threw himself onto Bakugou’s radar, yelling ‘look at me!’ He just knows Bakugou was impressed by Kirishima’s declaration, his conviction to be unwavering, to be steadfast, and how he made it known that he’d be expecting to take Izuku’s one million—that he’d be expecting Bakugou to take it.

A challenge and a show of faith, all in one.

He’s not quite sure when Kirishima decided Bakugou wasn’t completely an ass, though. It’s unfortunate, but he’ll have to leave that bit a mystery.

“What’s a mystery?”

Izuku jumps. “Oh! Todoroki, hi. Um, how much of that did you hear?”

Todoroki tilts his head. “Mm, not much. I’ll get the hang of it soon, don’t worry.”

“That’s…not what I’m worried about.” Izuku frowns. “You look out of breath; were you sparring?”

Todoroki jerks a thumb over his shoulder. Through the classroom door come Jirou and Uraraka. The three of them are disheveled and covered in dust and dirt. “They asked me to help them with offense."

“Hey, Deku. Are you doing homework?” Uraraka asks, plopping into the desk beside him. “Ugh, I’m so not ready for finals.”

Jirou groans. “God, don’t remind me."

Todoroki frowns, confused. “But then how will you know when the test is?”

“Um, actually,” Izuku says, “I was doing some…side research. You guys remember when Kirishima stopped Bakugou from exploding a student?”

“You’re going to have to narrow it down,” Jirou says wryly.

Uraraka snaps her fingers. “Ah, you mean that day Kirishima sprained his shoulder! What about it?”

It’s a calculated risk, bringing people into this, but Izuku thinks he needs to talk to someone to make sure he’s not hallucinating.

Hesitantly, he offers his notebook to them. They crowd around, curious. Jirou flips the pages for them.

With every line, their eyes widen. By the end of it, Todoroki’s eyebrows have disappeared under his hair. Jirou looks like someone hit her over the head with a pole, and Uraraka is grinning so madly that Izuku fears he’s broken her.

“I knew it,” she whisper-screams. She shakes Izuku by the arm. “I knew there was something there!”

“You really are observant, Midoriya,” Todoroki remarks. “You’ve even marked down how many times Bakugou called Kirishima by his name.”

“Trust me,” Izuku says seriously. “It’s significant. That’s how you know you’ve got his respect.”

Uraraka pauses. “He called me by name during our fight.”

Izuku nods.

She considers that. “Is it bad that I kind of feel happy about that?”

Jirou sits down right there on the floor. Elbows to her knees, fingers laced over her mouth. “Hold on. Midoriya, you realize you’ve uncovered a potential Bakugou-handler? In the wrong hands, this information could be abused.”

“You’re making Bakugou sound like a secret weapon of destruction…” Uraraka purses her lips. “Yeah, okay. I get your point.”

Izuku shifts his weight. “So, you guys see it? I’m not crazy for thinking that Kacchan and Kirishima are friends?”

Todoroki hands him back the notebook. “Midoriya, you might be crazy in a fight, but you make plenty of sense outside of it. Your observations are very astute.”

“Thanks…?”

The door slams open.

As if he was summoned, Bakugou stomps through wearing a vicious smirk. His training uniform is drenched in sweat. He looks so satisfied that Izuku feels an instinctive urge to hide under his desk. Bakugou grinning doesn’t usually bode well.

“What’re you extras looking at?”

Todoroki, as fearless as always, replies with, “You seem to be in a good mood.”

Bakugou grins wider. Izuku sinks down in his seat. “So fucking what?”

Uraraka, who Izuku is beginning to understand also has no fear of death, cheekily pipes up. “Just wondering what could’ve possibly accomplished that. Did you explodokill someone?”

“He sure tried to,” a cheerful voice answers.

Kirishima stumbles through the doors. His uniform is ripped in multiple places; actually, his entire shirt is gone, and both pant legs are burnt off at the knee. Lines of hardening are still present along his arms and face, and he’s smoking. Literally. Under their wide eyes, he pats out a faltering flame on his shoulder.

“Oh my god,” Uraraka says. “What did he do to you?”

“Nothing he didn’t ask me to,” Bakugou grunts. “Besides, he can take it.”

Kirishima laughs. “I sure can! I asked him what his Howitzer was like. That wasn’t exactly what I expected when I asked for a demonstration, though.”

“How are you still standing?” Izuku asks, half horrified, half amazed. That—this needs to go in the book. Where’s his pencil?

“That’s impressive, Kirishima,” Todoroki says. “I was knocked out cold.”

Bakugou glares. “That’s what you get for being a pussy. At least Kirishima has the guts to come at me with full force.”

Izuku flips to a previous page and makes another tally next to ‘# of Times Kacchan Called Kirishima By Name.’ He also jots down, said Kirishima has courage (in a roundabout way)!!

“Deku, what the fuck are you scribbling about?”

Izuku squeaks. “Uh, nothing, Kacchan! It’s—um. Haha!” Yeah, okay, so he’s not the best liar around.

Bakugou narrows his eyes. “I swear to god, if you’re taking notes on me again—”

“Alrighty then!” Kirishima throws himself into Bakugou’s eyeline, hanging off his shoulder. “I don’t know about you, man, but I am parched. What do you say we head to the vending machines? Get something to drink, huh?”

And it shouldn’t work, it shouldn’t succeed in pulling Bakugou down from one of his infamous Deku-induced rages, except—except it does.

Bakugou takes one long look at Kirishima’s blinding smile, clicks his tongue and just...walks away. “Fucking—whatever.”

They watch him go. Silence descends.

In a turn of events, Izuku reaches over and closes Uraraka’s mouth.

 


 

In the wake of his and Bakugou’s final exam, Izuku finds himself saying, “If it had been you, Kirishima, it would’ve been a different story.”

It’s late in the evening. Bakugou is definitely asleep, so Izuku deems it safe to take the seat across from Kirishima at the kitchen table. He slumps onto it, head pillowed on his arms.

“How do you do it? How do you just…work with him?”

Kirishima puts a fork of apple pie in his mouth. Chews. Swallows. He’s giving Izuku this concerned, understanding look and Izuku kind of wants to cry. “I think this is probably a rhetorical question but…it’s not a matter of method or anything like that, Midoriya. I just…don’t have a history with him. Clean slate and all that.”

Izuku sighs. “Sometimes I wish we never grew up together. So I could just be another extra he hates, and not one he extra hates.”

The plate of pie slides across the table. Izuku takes the offered fork and spears a bite for himself. Sato really does make the best pies.

“Do you think you two will ever…” Kirishima makes a nebulous gesture. “Go back to—being friends, or something?”

Izuku shrugs. “I don’t know. I want to. You know, when we were kids, we had all these plans about doing hero work together. Then…well. Here we are.”

Kirishima’s mouth pulls down. He looks so sad on Izuku’s behalf. Man, Kirishima really is a good friend. “I don’t know what happened between you guys but…it’s probably going to take a while for him to apologize…”

“If he does at all.”

Kirishima’s gaze hardens. “If he doesn’t, then he’s not the guy I think he could be. A hero apologizes for their mistakes.” Then, hesitantly, he asks, “Does it bother you? That I’m trying to be friends with him? I don’t want you to think I approve of his actions.”

Izuku bolts upright, waving his hands. “No! It doesn’t bother me—and I know you’re not like that. You’re really nice, Kirishima, and I’m glad Kacchan has someone like you.”

Not to mention, it’s a relief to have someone so impenetrable standing between him and Bakugou sometimes. And…Bakugou would kill him for thinking this, but Izuku is used to worrying about his childhood friend. It’s—not even anything to do with Bakugou himself, that’s just how Izuku is. So even when Bakugou was pushing him around, Izuku couldn’t help biting his nails over Bakugou’s one glaring weakness:

That he would refuse help.

To the point of his own defeat even. He’d rather lose than take someone’s hand.

A hero like that would either rise to heights untouched. Or burn out before they could accomplish anything.

For the longest time, it looked like it would be the latter, but from what Izuku’s observed recently…

Well, he just really hopes Kirishima doesn’t give up.

 


 

Bakugou is gone.

The villains are too strong and Bakugou is gone. They lost.

If it had been you, Kirishima, it would’ve been a different story.

Would Bakugou have reached back, if it was him? Maybe. Probably not. They won’t ever know. Izuku is grasping at hypotheticals, desperate. The outcome probably wouldn’t have changed. It doesn’t matter how many bones Izuku breaks, or how desperately Kirishima begs to join the fight.

The fact still remains that Bakugou was taken. And they were all too weak to stop it.

 


 

It’s disorienting to wake up and then immediately be presented with a very much illegal but tempting rescue scheme, to say the least. The last thing Izuku remembers is—failing. Is Bakugou’s furious expression, fear tinting the edges of it. Of his words, said through gritted teeth.

Stay back, Deku.

For the first couple minutes of his classmates’ arrival, Izuku can’t do much but stare owlishly at them. His mouth is full of cotton. If he blinks, he’s going to cry.

But Kirishima’s tortured statements and Todoroki’s quiet but firm support slices through the haze of painkillers, the shock.

If I don’t do something, how can I call myself a hero?

The words ring through him. An echo of a past event; a sentiment reflected in sunken eyes and a blinding smile; slime and a broken bottle; a thrown backpack, scattered school supplies and desperate red eyes.

Kirishima speaks and it leaves Izuku’s heart racing. Douses him in equal parts frustration and hope. In that moment, Izuku feels like he’s the only one in the room who might understand Kirishima completely.

But should they do it? Should they try one more time? Risk failure, one more time?

He wants to. The person that he is won’t let him sit by.

Kirishima looks at him like he knows it.

Like he’s counting on it.

 


 

Behind a half-demolished wall, suspended in a suffocating snapshot, Izuku visualizes multiple paths diverging. A battle rages at his back. Saliva slicks the back of his throat, threatens to snap his airway closed. His finger twitches. An opportunity, just one, they just need one opening—

Red hair flashes at his peripheral.

Your hands can still reach him, Kirishima said.

But Izuku hadn’t been watching all these weeks for nothing. It’s not his hands anymore. It’s never been.

“There’s a way,” he begins, and maybe one day his voice won’t shake. One day, he’s going to feel just as terrified and he’ll be able to hide it behind a grin. But today, he’s still fifteen and his body feels drained of blood and his words fade halfway through.

“We can’t,” Iida rasps. “Midoriya, we can’t fight.”

“Maybe not. But Kacchan can,” Izuku replies. His gaze slides past Iida. “All he needs is you.”

Shrouded in darkness, with a heartbeat so wild that it shakes the cheap gold necklace on his chest, Kirishima’s mouth parts, a silent question.

“It’ll work,” Izuku says, “but it has to be you.”

Kirishima swallows. Nods.

They’re not fighting, Izuku explains. They’re going to fly.

It all hinges on Bakugou. They’re going to put themselves out there, going to throw themselves into the fray like an impartial block of debris. They’re going to wordlessly slice through the fog, high above the battle, inviting absolutely no reason to call them interlopers or rule-breakers. Their only fault will be when Kirishima extends a hand.

When he locks eyes with Bakugou, throws out a lifeline, and challenges him to take it.

“Come!”

When Izuku hears the explosions, his mouth nearly rips from the force of his grin.

 


 

(Kirishima doesn’t immediately let Bakugou go when they land. Bakugou doesn’t force him to.)

(Izuku doesn’t write it down—it feels too callous to—but he knows exactly how many times Kirishima tries to hold Bakugou’s hand before they finally drop him off at the station.)

(He also knows how many times Bakugou almost forgets to pull away.)

 


 

“How were you so sure that Bakugou would listen to Kirishima?”  Todoroki asks over the phone.

Izuku lies in the dark, covers bunched at his feet. Down the hall, his mom is asleep. She’ll get up in an hour and stand outside Izuku’s room until she hears him breathing. He can’t sleep, so he’ll have to make sure his inhales and exhales sound slow and deep enough to reassure her.

Todoroki can’t sleep either. Izuku doesn’t know why he decided to call, but he’s glad for it. He wonders how Iida is doing. Yaoyorozu and Kirishima, too.

And Bakugou.

“It’s not that he listened,” Izuku says. “Kacchan does what he wants and what he thinks is best. All we did—what Kirishima did—was provide him with that best option.”

Todoroki hums. “As if we were just a rope that he used to escape. We didn’t rescue him; he did it himself, using us.”

“I’m sure that’s how he thinks of it, yeah.” Izuku rolls onto his side, phone balanced on his ear. “But that rope had to be sturdy. Reliable. Kacchan wouldn’t just trust any old string to hold him up. His pride wouldn’t let him.”

A moment of silence. Through the window, the light of the streetlamp flickers. The shadows in Izuku’s room jump.

“Bakugou’s rather convoluted, isn’t he?” Todoroki says finally.

A puff of laughter leaves Izuku. Todoroki’s brand of blunt honesty always gets him. With his voice in Izuku’s ear, he can almost forget the earth-crushing weight of All For One’s presence.

When Todoroki speaks next, he’s subdued. “Midoriya,” he says. “I want to apologize.”

Izuku frowns at his wall. “What for?”

“When the marbles fell from the villain’s grasp, Shouji managed to grab Tokoyami. I was a second too late. I could’ve used my quirk, fire or ice or both—I could’ve frozen the hand that stole Bakugou, or trapped the marble in a block of ice thick enough to buy us time. Looking back, there were so many ways I could’ve caught him.”

“Todoroki…”

“So I just want to apologize, for not being quicker. Smarter. The way you cried after…” A slow inhale. A sigh. “I’m sorry I couldn’t prevent that hurt for you.”

Inexplicably, his words fill Izuku with a strange warmth. It curls just under his throat and makes it hard to speak. “You don’t need to apologize for that. It wasn’t your fault. I’m grateful for the fact that you tried until the end.”

“…If you say so.” Then, “I might fall asleep soon, but will you…do you mind staying on the line?”

“Not at all. If you need anything, just say so. I’ll be here all night.”

“That goes for me, too, Midoriya. Don’t hesitate to bother me.”

Izuku smiles and tugs the covers over himself. “I won’t.”

 


 

Moving into the dorms provides Izuku with way too many chances to observe. It also forces him to get two new notebooks. He labels them #2 and #3—no title, obviously. He’s not suicidal.

They’re filled with notes like:

  • Kirishima’s room is next to Bakugou’s. Kirishima helped him unpack. This definitely means that Bakugou let him see his All Might merch. Izuku would bet that Kirishima teased him for it.
  • There were explosions in the middle of the night for the first week. Then it stopped. One time, Izuku came down late from Todoroki’s room and saw Kirishima slip behind Bakugou’s door.
  • Kirishima drags Bakugou downstairs for class bonding and succeeds 9 out of 10 times. That’s a 90% capture rate! Kirishima is well on his way to becoming a great hero.
  • Bakugou starts cooking for Kirishima. The first time it happened, it was an after-school snack. Bakugou shoved a plate of onigiri at Kirishima, yelled something about how they were “shitty leftovers he couldn’t be assed to finish” and how “Kirishima better be grateful for them,” and when Kirishima beamed and said, “Thanks, Bakugou! I’m sure they taste amazing!” Bakugou had—he’d—he had blushed. Angrily. And stomped off.
  • Bakugou is a tsundere. Izuku’s childhood friend is a tsundere.
  • Izuku finds out that Bakugou still tutors Kirishima when they bring their books down to the common floor one day. They take a corner table far from everyone else and are so obviously in their own world that when Kaminari interrupts them for homework help, Izuku winces on their behalf.
  • Izuku doesn’t see them study outside again after that.
  • They design combo moves. The first time they use it in training, they reduce a whole cliff face to dust. (Izuku fills a dozen pages from their combo attacks alone.)
  • When Bakugou walks into a room, his eyes will seek out Kirishima first.
  • The smiles that Kirishima direct at Bakugou steadily grow softer.
  • Kirishima still joins Kaminari in riling up Bakugou most days, but when it’s just him and Bakugou, the teasing is different. It’s a little warmer. It’s his shoulder knocking gently against Bakugou’s, it's his mouth an inch from Bakugou’s ear. It’s angry blushes, toned-down explosions, unhardened skin.
  • Kirishima falls asleep downstairs sometimes. Izuku recognizes the blanket that will usually, mysteriously appear on him moments later.
  • The casual touches that Kirishima gives to Bakugou aren’t rejected anymore. They come more often, and Bakugou leans into them like he’s starved for it.
  • Bakugou calls Kirishima “dumbass” but it sounds more and more like an endearment each day.
  • Kirishima says “Bakugou” like he wants to say “Katsuki.”

 


 

“Something wrong with your hands, dude?”

Izuku’s gaze flicks up. Kirishima’s stopped at Bakugou’s desk. It’s study period, which means that most of the class are on their phones or chatting. It also means that Kirishima will drift over to Bakugou at least seven times before they’re dismissed. Sometimes, Izuku wishes he were less observant.

Bakugou grunts, kneading his knuckles into his palm. “Aches. Think I might’ve gone overboard.”

Kirishima hums sympathetically. He places a stack of papers on the edge of Bakugou’s desk and holds out his hands. “Give ‘em here.”

“What?”

“Your hands. Hand ‘em over.”

“You and your fucking puns,” Bakugou mutters, but does as asked.

“Tell me if it hurts.”

“If what—oh, fffuck.”

Izuku blinks down at his textbook. What. Was that—um. He chances a look and yup—Kirishima is massaging Bakugou’s palms. In—in class. Right in front of Izuku and seventeen other people and God himself.

Whatever magic Kirishima is performing on those explosive hands has Bakugou hiding his face in the crook of his elbow and—and grunting. Involuntary, nearly-silent noises that Izuku has never wanted to hear in his whole entire life.

Kirishima is oblivious. He continues rubbing and kneading, thumbs digging into the meat of Bakugou’s palms. He manipulates calloused fingers, bends and stretches the knuckles. Pulls at stiff wrists and strokes the tension right out of Bakugou until—well, until he’s putty.

He lies there, completely limp, with his hands—the source of his strength, his crowning pride—in someone else’s possession. Kirishima just fiddles with them like he has no idea the power Bakugou’s surrendered to him.

“Too much?” he asks.

“Nnghh,” Bakugou mumbles.

Izuku looks around. Did no one see the softcore hand kink porn that just took place? Is—did he hallucinate? Is this a nightmare?

Kirishima picks up the stack of papers, leaves one at Bakugou’s desk (along with a—a head pat. A fucking head pat—yeah, Izuku’s swearing now. He’s allowed a swear right now), and hands one to Izuku. “Here, from Mic. He forgot to hand these out last period.”

“Thanks,” Izuku croaks.

Kirishima claps him on the shoulder. Izuku thinks about what that hand was just doing and shudders.

 


 

The worst thing is that he’s pretty sure they’re not even together yet.

They just go around like this, wrapped up in each other so completely that it’s a wonder they don’t walk straight into a tree. It might be cute, if it weren't Bakugou. And if it weren’t so pitiful.

“Hey, let me borrow your lap for a bit.” Kirishima doesn’t even wait for a confirmation, just flops onto the couch and buries his face in Bakugou’s stomach.

Without looking up from his phone, Bakugou shoves at Kirishima’s forehead. “Not your goddamn pillow.”

“Please, Blasty? I’m exhausted.”

“You fucking stayed up playing Animal Crossing, didn’t you?”

“No…”

“Get off me. Liars don’t get lap privileges.”

Lap privileges. ‘Liars don’t get lap privileges’? Implying that Kirishima has gotten them before? Unbelievable. This can’t be real. Izuku begins to consider if maybe Bakugou has been suffering under some sort of personality-warping quirk this whole time.

Like, Izuku is still in the room—granted he’s hiding around the corner, but—does Bakugou not see him? How is he okay with Izuku witnessing this? This is the common floor; anyone could walk in and see this!

Bakugou starts carding his fingers through Kirishima’s hair.

Nope. Nope, that’s it.

Izuku lies down on the carpet and puts his notebook over his face. He gives up. He’s officially done. He can’t do this anymore. They’re so in love and they can’t even see it. They’re practically married. Next month, they’re probably going to adopt a cat or something. God, he hates it here.

Someone lifts the notebook away. It’s Todoroki, kneeling by his head.

He blinks down at him. “Are you alright, Midoriya?”

“No.” Izuku folds his hands over his stomach. “Have you ever met someone so dense they wouldn’t know someone was flirting with them if their life depended on it?”

Amusement flashes over Todoroki’s face. “Yes.”

Izuku nods in commiseration. Of course Todoroki would understand him. “It’s the worse. I just want them to get together already!”

“Ah, you’re talking about Bakugou and Kirishima.”

“They’re so obvious, yet so blind.” Izuku drags his hands over his face. “It’s driving me insane.”

Todoroki presses his lips together in that way he does when he’s trying not to laugh. “I know what you mean. I’m going through something like that myself, actually.”

“Really?”

“Yes, there’s someone I’m interested in. I’ve been trying to make it known to them but I think I’m being too subtle.”

Hearing that kind of makes Izuku uncomfortable for unknown reasons. He frowns. Maybe he has indigestion. He reaches up and pats Todoroki’s knee. “Sorry to hear that, Todoroki. Whoever it is, I hope they realize it quickly.”

Todoroki does that endearing laugh-exhale. He picks a speck of lint out of Izuku’s hair. “Me too, Midoriya. Me too.”

 


 

Izuku is pretty sure there’s a saying about how something that’s healed wrong has to be rebroken to heal right.

He doesn’t know how medically accurate that is, but it’s a metaphor that suits the fight he has with Bakugou pretty well.

They beat each other to a pulp. Until they’re swollen and limping and their teeth ache so bad that Izuku wonders if his might fall out, and whether he’s going to need dentures at the ripe age of fifteen.

It’s simultaneously the stupidest and most cathartic thing Izuku has ever done.

They tell Aizawa they won’t do it again, but if Izuku went back in time, he’d still do it. He thinks they needed it.

Bakugou looks at him like he sees him now. Like he sees Izuku simply as the potential rival he could be, and not as the amalgamation of Bakugou’s numerous complexes, his fears and his failures.

He supposes that’s as good as it’s going to get between them.

When Bakugou gives him advice on his shoot style, he barely manages not to run for his notebook to document the moment. His mouth still goes all wobbly though. Bakugou clicks his tongue, because he knows Izuku just as well, too; knows just how much of an emotional nerd he is.

Kirishima catches him after class, pulls him into the stairwell while Bakugou gets into a yelling match with Iida about homework secrecy or something. “Please tell me this was a mutual beat-down and that I didn’t end up comforting Bakugou for some unheroic actions last night.”

Right. That last bit is going in notebook number three.

“Um, he started it, but I—I went full-force, too.”

Kirishima sags against the wall in relief. “That’s good. Not that you fought, I mean. But I could tell from his injuries that you gave as good as you got. And he seemed really torn up about something. It didn’t seem like a regular bout of anger.”

Izuku rubs his neck. “Yeah, we…some issues got resolved last night. Kacchan was keeping a lot bottled up and it…”

He mimes an explosion, sound effects included.

Kirishima laughs. “Of course. What was I expecting? Are you guys going to be okay, though?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I think so,” Izuku nods. He matches Kirishima’s smile. Then, shifting his weight, he asks, “So…you comforted him?”

The blood drains from Kirishima’s face so quickly that Izuku thinks he might faint. “I—he—look, it’s not what you think, he just—he wanted to rant and—I say ‘comforted’ but really I just lied there and let him do whatever and he just slept in my bed and—wait, that doesn’t sound any better—listen, Midoriya, I—are you…are you laughing?”

“Sorry,” Izuku gasps. He wipes his eyes, stray giggles slipping out. “Sorry, you just—you sounded so panicked.”

The look Kirishima fixes him with is part exasperation, part amusement. “Yeah, well. Bakugou threatened to kill me if anyone knew he needed hugs sometimes, and you’re probably the worst person to find out. No offense.”

Izuku waves a hand. “Ah, I knew about him seeking you out after the first week we moved in. “

Kirishima opens and closes his mouth. “You’re really scary sometimes, you know that?”

“Don’t worry, it’s not like I’m going to tell him I know. I value my life.”

“Hah, true.”

A natural lull falls over them and Kirishima looks out the stairwell door to the common floor. Izuku follows his gaze right to Bakugou. He’s angrily wiping the windows while Kaminari eggs him on.

“I’m glad you were there for him,” Izuku says.

If he hated Bakugou, he’d find it unfair that Bakugou gets something this good and this right with Kirishima. But he’s honestly just relieved.

Maybe it’s a leftover thing from their childhood. Maybe Izuku will never be able to let go of those days chasing after beetles and butterflies in the summer with the closest thing he has to a brother. Maybe he’ll always worry, always feel a weird mix of fond exasperation for Bakugou, and maybe it means he’s genuinely happy that Bakugou found someone to let in.

It must show on his face because Kirishima smiles and pulls him into a hug. “And I’m glad you guys worked it out.”

And it’s a nice hug. It’s a nice conversation, it’s a nice day, the whole thing is such a surprisingly positive outcome to a situation Izuku feared would rip apart completely and it’s all—so unbelievably nice.

Not for the first time, he’s grateful that he made it into UA. That he’s surrounded by amazing heroes-to-be. Aw man, he’s going to cry again. He’s been trying so hard to break out of that.

And of course that’s the moment Bakugou pushes open the door.

“What the fuck,” he says.

“Hey, Bakubro! Wanna join?” Kirishima beckons him forward with a flick of his fingers. “C’mon, bring it in, man.”

Bakugou takes a step. He raises an open palm.

Izuku runs.

 


 

Part of Izuku—the part that’s tired of being bombarded by Kirishima and Bakugou’s sickeningly sweet pining—wants to just shove them together and tell them to kiss already.

But he’s trying to be an impartial observer and well… it’s also kind of funny watching Bakugou fumble his way around feelings. Finally, something he isn’t good at.

“What are you smiling about, Midoriya?”

“Hm?” Izuku pulls himself out of his thoughts. “Oh, uh. Nothing, really.”

A hint of a smile tugs at Todoroki’s mouth and he leans back against his bed, arms crossed. He taps his pencil against his bicep, knee bumping against Izuku’s under the table. Izuku wonders if he’s using his quirk because the touch sends shivers up his spine. Todoroki, he—he looks so…cool. Even when he’s just sitting, it’s graceful.

“You know you were mumbling, right?” he says.

Izuku freezes. “W-what?”

“Something about Bakugou being funny. That’s all I got. Did he do something?”

Oh, okay, that’s what he was talking about. For a second there, Izuku thought he was going to have to hurl himself out the window.

“Just—him and Kirishima, and his…stunted emotional growth.”

“Ah, I see.” Todoroki huffs a laugh. “You know…yesterday in our supplementary lessons, I caught him texting Kirishima.”

It doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy; friends text each other. Except Todoroki has a sly look in his eyes that suggests that isn’t all.

“He was blushing,” Todoroki reveals, visibly struggling not to smirk, “because Kirishima had sent him a post-workout selfie.”

Izuku claps his hands over his mouth. “No! Oh my—seriously?”

“Oh yeah,” Todoroki snickers. “I leaned over and he didn’t even notice; he was so preoccupied. Stared at it for a whole minute. Full body blush and everything.”

Izuku collapses onto the desk, laughing.

That—oh god, that’s the funniest thing he’s heard all week. Bakugou getting thirst-trapped so hard he basically stalls like a computer? And loses sense of his surroundings? All because Kirishima sent him a sweaty, most-likely topless selfie?

“But the funniest thing,” Todoroki continues, “was when I went, ‘Kirishima really likes working out, huh?’ and Bakugou jumped—like six feet in the air—and then turned around and nearly Howitzer’d me for—and I quote— ‘even daring to look at Shitty Hair with your shitty eyes what the hell are you trying to do you trying to get with my best friend huh well guess what you can fuck right off Half-n-Half or I’ll shove a stick of dynamite up your ass!’”

“Stop,” Izuku gasps, “Todoroki, please, I can’t—”

“He didn’t even pause to breathe during the whole thing. I thought he was trying to do an impression of you, to be honest.”

“Oh god, don’t let him hear you say that. He’ll kill you.”

“He’s going to kill me for flirting with his boyfriend anyway, might as well.”

Izuku wheezes.

Just when he’s caught his breath, Todoroki says abruptly, “You’re even cuter when you laugh, Midoriya,” and it sends him into another coughing fit.

Todoroki hands him a water bottle, from his mini-fridge, because he’s rich and hilariously petty so he used as much of Endeavor’s money as he could in outfitting his room and this is irrelevant but—just—what did Todoroki say???

“I said you’re cute,” Todoroki states, throwing Izuku’s heart into cardiac arrest a second time.

“I’m sorry!” Izuku blurts, for some unfathomable reason.

Silence.

Todoroki’s mouth twitches.

Izuku lies down on the floor. Pulls his tshirt over his face and curls into a ball. Kill him. Just kill him. Where’s Bakugou when you need him to explodokill you?

Rustling. Something settles down next to him. Izuku can’t look because the sight of Todoroki lying beside him might actually make him activate Full Cowl and punch his way through all five floors to get away.

“I don’t think an apology is the usual response to a compliment,” Todoroki muses.

Izuku groans. “You know I can’t speak.”

A chuckle. Then, two points of contact on his wrists, one warm, one cool. Todoroki tugs his hands away. He hooks a finger in Izuku’s shirt collar and pulls it down, brushing his nose. It’s a touch so gentle that Izuku shivers.

He blinks his eyes open, hesitant. His breath catches.

Todoroki lies on his side, a foot away. His hair splays across the tatami mat, red-white and silky, begging Izuku to run his fingers through it. To brush it away from those eyes.

Those eyes.

Todoroki is looking at him with those eyes, with grey, with cobalt blue, with so much affection that Izuku might suffocate under it. Izuku wants to suffocate.

“You can when it matters,” Todoroki whispers. “You always do, Izuku.”

His thumbs are pressed to Izuku’s wrists, to his pulse, beating halfway to heaven, lightning quick. His gaze roves over Izuku’s face, his parted mouth, his collarbone, where his shirt has slackened enough to invite the heat in Todoroki’s eyes.

He cups Izuku’s face.

“Tell me to stop,” he says, a breath away.

Izuku doesn’t.

 


 

Izuku is in the kitchen, crouching by the cabinets, when he hears Bakugou encourage someone for the first time.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” It’s a question, but Bakugou’s gruff tone clearly intends it as anything but. “Who said you couldn’t compete with the rest of us?”

Izuku pauses, hand on a bag of rice crackers. That…sounded suspiciously like Bakugou was getting annoyed on someone else’s behalf.

“No, I mean—I don’t have ranged attacks like you guys, you know?” That’s Kirishima’s voice. “It’s going to be hard to stand out as I am now. Blunt force only gets you so far.”

Izuku frowns. Now that’s just blatantly untrue. There are so many applications for Kirishima’s quirk. Fit for defense and offense, for rescue and capture; it’s one of the most solid abilities Izuku’s seen. To be honest, he’s a little jealous of how many hits Kirishima can take. Considering all the beat-downs Izuku’s gone through, having some sort of defensive ability to stop all his bones from breaking would be a literal lifesaver.

Evidently, Bakugou agrees.

“Stand out—? Why are you worrying about stupid shit like that?” Bakugou grunts. “Look, you were there at Kamino. You fucking saw how All Might refused to fall. And you’re the one that told me you’d never waver. That, right there—that ability to keep standing, to not break—isn’t that already pretty fucking cool?”

Wow. Izuku blinks at the rice crackers in surprise. That—was definitely encouragement. Bakugou didn’t even mess it up by calling Kirishima a dumbass or anything. Didn’t know he could do that. Izuku’s weirdly proud.

“Damn, Blasty! That’s a hell of a compliment!” Kaminari exclaims. “Do me next! What am I good at?”

The response comes immediately. “Fucking nothing.”

“Aw, come on!”

Izuku stays hidden a bit longer, curious, but he doesn’t hear Kirishima say anything more.

Yeah, he’d be stunned silent himself if Bakugou ever said a nice word to him, let alone give him an entire motivational speech.

 


 

Kirishima is in the hospital.

The look on Bakugou’s face when Izuku comes back with just Tsuyu and Uraraka is the closest thing to devastation that Izuku’s ever seen on him. Even when it’s clarified that Kirishima is very much alive, just injured, that expression fails to hide itself.

“That’s not good,” Shouto says quietly, as the two of them watch Bakugou slink off to the elevator. His shoulders are drawn tight enough to snap.

“No, it’s not,” Izuku murmurs.

Around him, his classmates are loud in their concern and their congratulations. Uraraka and Tsuyu are glowing from the praise, though exhaustion shadows their smiles.

And Shouto—he tries to conceal it, he’s careful not to touch Izuku—but the way he leans into Izuku’s space is telling. Like he wants to envelope Izuku all around, tuck him under his chin and never let go.

He’s worried. Izuku stands before him, safe and whole, and Shouto is still worried.

Kirishima is in the hospital. Kirishima can’t stand. Bakugou can’t see him. How much worse does it feel?

“Is there anything you can tell him?” Shouto asks, because he’s kind and sincere and he knows Izuku can’t let anything be. In fact, he’s said that he loves Izuku for it.

“I doubt he wants to see me.”

“He’s got a phone.”

The text conversation he has with Bakugou hasn’t been used since the Hosu incident, with his mass location text. It’s a little disconcerting to open it up, to text in Kirishima’s hospital room number. He considers saying something more, like he’ll be okay, or he would want to see you, or don’t yell at him too much, but they’re not there yet. And Bakugou’s never liked Izuku’s platitudes, anyway.

He waits. The read notification pops up, but there’s no reply. He doesn’t know what to think about the fact that he doesn’t even get a who the fuck is this text. It's telling. He hadn’t thought Bakugou would keep his number.

Shouto links their pinkies together, the action shrouded between their bodies. “Will you come up to mine for a bit?” he asks.

Izuku can see how the night will end. They’ll start on the floor, but Shouto’s futon will already be laid out and they’ll migrate to it sooner or later. Shouto will want to see his injuries; the bandages on his body, the fatigue in his mind. He’ll want to hear about it all, whatever Izuku will give to him. And then he’ll pull Izuku under the covers, tuck his head under Izuku’s chin and hold him. They’ll fall asleep, and when they wake up the next morning, Izuku’s heart will be full to bursting.

He pockets his phone. “Let me change first.”

 


 

Kirishima recovers.

In the week that it takes, Bakugou is scarcely seen around the dorms. He leaves immediately after class, strides long and purposeful, and the first time Kaminari asks him where he’s going, Bakugou just gives him a derisive look. As if they should know. As if he’s daring them to think he’d be embarrassed about this. About visiting Kirishima every day with a homemade meal stuffed in his school bag.

Kirishima is released. Bakugou escorts him back to the dorms. The moment they walk through the doors, Kirishima gets mobbed by their classmates.

“You worried me half to death!” Kaminari wails, clinging to Kirishima’s waist.

Bakugou clicks his tongue. “Off, Pikachu. His skin’s still sensitive.”

Kaminari backs off and sends Bakugou a smirk. “There you go, mother-henning again. Hey, Kirishima, how was your boyfriend’s cooking?”

The class bursts into laughter as red blooms over Kirishima’s face. Oddly, Bakugou doesn’t react at all, only wearing a vague expression of boredom on his face.

“He’s not my—Denki!” Kirishima pushes Kaminari onto the couch.

“Obviously, he’s not your Denki—he’s your Katsuki!” Mina pipes in.

“Oh, not you too!”

“Man, you’d be the luckiest husband ever,” Sero adds. When Kirishima dives for him, he cackles and swings himself away with his tape.

It all devolves into a game of tag after that, light-hearted and jovial. Iida tries to lecture them on proper indoor activities, but even he joins in when Jirou tags him.

The only one not playing is Bakugou. He’s still standing by the front door, leaned against it with Kirishima’s hero costume case at his feet. And he’s…

He’s smiling.

It’s subdued. It’s not a smile that anyone else would make—it’s just a minuscule uptick of his mouth, a loosening of his brows, an openness in his eyes. But for a boy who frowns constantly, it’s not something you could miss.

This smile is fond. This smile is—good, like the way a hero is good—and this smile is all for Kirishima. It’s directed at his back, at his laughter and his enthusiasm for his friends, at the fact that he’s healthy enough to jump around. Bakugou is smiling, because Kirishima is here and he’s happy about it.

Izuku politely looks away; it feels too private for him.

He hopes that one day, Bakugou will direct that smile at Kirishima’s face.

 


 

This is how Kirishima and Bakugou get together:

Supplementary lessons seem to be a special kind of hell. Shouto regularly comes back bruised like an apple. He and Bakugou don’t complain about it, obviously, but anyone can tell how drained they are every day.

And today’s lesson is vicious, apparently. So much so that when the two arrive back at the dorms, Bakugou makes a beeline for Kirishima, who’s sprawled out on one of the couches, carelessly drops his costume case to the floor and…lies down on top of him.

Just—straight up cuddles into him.

“B-Bakugou?” Kirishima squeaks.

Izuku notes that his alarm has more to do with how the most of the class is gaping at them, and less to do with Bakugou’s actions itself. His body looks pretty attuned to Bakugou, shifting to accommodate him, arms instinctively curling around his shoulders.

Kirishima looks up and meets Izuku’s eyes. Feeling sly, Izuku winks. Kirishima blushes.

Sero points at the spectacle. “What the fuck is this. What—who the hell took over Bakugou’s body?”

“Nobody,” Shouto answers. He stumbles over to Izuku, yawning behind his hand. “We’re just wiped out from the supplementary course.”

Izuku holds out his arms. Shouto crawls into his lap, eyes already closed and brows pulled together adorably. “I’m sure you guys did amazing anyway,” he says, rubbing soothing circles onto Shouto’s back.

It’s a testament to his growth that Bakugou actually responds to Izuku with a vaguely friendly, mostly sleepy, “Hell fucking yeah we did.”

Though, maybe his lack of aggression should be attributed to his exhaustion, because what he says next makes it obvious that he’s a little out of his mind.

He clumsily takes Kirishima’s hand and puts on his head. “Pet me,” he demands.

Kirishima wheezes. Multiple people choke on their own spit. Sero looks like he’s suffering from a stroke.

Bakugou presses down insistently. With a blazing red face, Kirishima obeys. The little sigh Bakugou releases just worsens the situation. It’s such a uncharacteristically soft noise, and Izuku witnesses a couple classmates’ eyes bug out.

Uraraka is slapping Iida’s arm repeatedly, grinning manically. She catches Izuku’s eyes and points violently at the scene. Izuku gives her a thumbs up. Iida squints at them like he thinks this is all their fault somehow. Rich, coming from a vigilante-seeking delinquent like him.

Uraraka clears her throat. “So this, um, does this happen? Often?”

Kirishima looks at all of them helplessly. “If I answer that, he’ll kill me.”

“That’s practically an answer in and of itself,” Tokoyami points out dryly. Kirishima groans.

Somewhere over Izuku’s shoulder, Jirou mumbles, “He really is the Bakugou-handler, huh.”

“Can you guys shut up,” Bakugou grunts. “Gossip about us somewhere else, fuckers, m' tryna sleep."

“You’re the one that interrupted our class bonding time.”

Bakugou just grumbles at them, looking about ready to fall asleep right there. Shouto is already a step ahead of him, snoring quietly into the crook of Izuku’s neck. Just what did the instructors put them through today?

“So like, when are you guys getting together?” Kaminari asks. “Because like, as a bi, you guys are so gay it makes me feel a little homocidal.”

“Do you mean homicidal?” Tsuyu asks.

“No, I mean homocidal. They’re so gay and mushy and cute and I want to kill them. Kinda like cute aggression? But gay.”

Sero squints. “Isn’t that just homophobia?”

Kaminari snaps his fingers. “That’s it.”

“But you’re bi.”

“Yeah.”

They wait for him to elaborate, but he doesn’t.

“Do you ever make sense? Like, at all?” Jirou asks, genuinely curious.

Mina shakes her head, giving it up as a lost cause. “He does make a good point, though—why aren’t you guys together?”

Kirishima looks like he’s just been told he has to fight All Might to the death. “Uh. ‘Cause it’s…not like that?”

They all look pointedly at where Bakugou is nuzzling into Kirishima’s neck.

“He’s just. Loopy. He gets cuddly when he’s exhausted.”

Hah, as if. Izuku knows that is absolutely false. One hundred percent bullshit. In fact, Bakugou is ten times more likely to blow you up when he’s tired. Two years worth of sleepovers and playdates can attest to that. Baby Bakugou was a terror.

He says as much, prompting Kirishima to send him a betrayed look. He shrugs. So what? He’s sick and tired of this oblivious pining, too.

Mina levels a teal-painted finger at Kirishima. “Don’t ever lie to my face again. Just go out already, you idiots. Denki’s right, this is sickening.”

“Oh my fucking GOD,” Bakugou growls. His head pops up, hair askew from Kirishima’s petting. He glares at all of them with bloodshot eyes. “Will you fuckers shut the fuck up if we do?”

Kirishima’s eyes bulge. “Uh, Baku—”

“Yes,” Shouto interjects crossly, eyes still shut. “They’ll shut up, or else I’ll shut them up myself.”

A chill travels through the room. Alright, so Shouto’s the type to get cranky too. Izuku’s putting that in his notebook—the one for his boyfriend. Yes, obviously, he has one on Shouto, this is Izuku we’re talking about here.

“Fine,” Bakugou declares. He rises onto his elbows, squinting down at Kirishima. “You like me.”

“I—is that a question?” Kirishima asks hoarsely. He looks like he wants to dissolve into the spaces between the cushions. Izuku sees the moment he decides that denial is futile; he pinches his nose and sighs. “Yes, okay? Yes, I like you.”

Bakugou nods. “Okay. You like me, I like you—why are you choking, it’s not a surprise—so we’re going out this Saturday. You figure out where. Don’t wear crocs or I’ll blow them up.”

“Not that your confidence isn’t totally manly, as usual, but don’t I get a say in this?”

“Why, are you going to say no?”

Kirishima opens his mouth. Closes it.

“That’s what I thought. Right, so we’re dating now, Eijirou. You’re my boyfriend,” Bakugou declares.

And he does this thing with his hand like he’s knighting Kirishima—tap-tap on both shoulders—and then he flops back onto him with a grunt.

Aaand that’s it. Kirishima and Bakugou are now together, apparently. Just like that.

Eijirou, Kirishima mouths. He hides behind his hand, groaning quietly like he can’t believe what happened. His blush is so bright that it puts Aoyama’s navel laser to shame.

“What. The fuck,” Sero wheezes. Kouda pats his back. “Bro, what the hell was that?”

“Of course that’s how he’d do it,” Ojiro mutters. Silently, he hands over a wad of cash to—Aoyama? Multiple people do, too. Huh.

Well, Izuku’s glad it’s all resolved now. He just has to write that bit down, and then he can finally stop taking notes. God; took them long enough.

Bakugou goes still. He slowly turns his head, the simple action somehow much more menacing than it should be.

“I’m sorry,” he says, which is a terrifying to hear, wow, Izuku never wants to hear him apologize ever again, “did you just say, ‘taking notes,’ Deku?”

“Uh,” Izuku says, “no?”

Bakugou climbs off his newly-declared boyfriend. “Did you fucking take notes? On me? Again?”

Izuku carefully shifts Shouto off his lap and onto Shouji’s, who takes the weight without a blink. Good guy. “Look, to be fair, I’ve never seen you make a friend before. It was kind of fascinating.”

“Fascinating?”

“Wait,” Momo interjects, “aren’t you two childhood friends?”

“No, pretty sure Kacchan’s just a brother I was cursed with,” Izuku replies.

Bakugou is fully awake now. “If anyone here is cursed, it’s me! For having your lame ass tail me everywhere, you damn nerd!”

“You say that, but whose mom was it that begged mine for playdates to occupy you from tearing up the wallpaper and throwing your toys out the window just to see glass shatter?”

“That sounds like him,” Kirishima says. Then, as if something’s just occurred to him, “Hold up—Midoriya, that means you’ve got to have baby pictures of him, right?”

Bakugou freezes. His expression screams, don’t do it Deku, I swear to god—

In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.

“Yeah,” Izuku says, sliding into a ready stance. “Yeah, I do. You wanna see the one where he’s crying because he ran too fast in the rain and slipped in the mud and his pants slid right off his diapered butt?”

Silence. Awed, amazed silence.

“That would honestly make my year,” Kirishima replies seriously.

Bakugou explodes them both.

 


 

And that's how they get together.

 


 

(Years down the road, there is a wedding.

Izuku is asked to be best man. His speech goes like this:

“Those of you who know me, know that I’ve never been good with speaking,” he begins. “I stutter and I mumble, and at the beginning of our friendship, my fiance had to train himself for a whole year to be able to follow along when I go on one of my tangents.”

Laughter. Shouto raises his glass, smiles.

“But when Kacchan asked me—threatened, really—to do this, I knew exactly what to say.” He pauses, relishing a little in the puzzled frown his childhood friend wears. “In fact, I think I’ve been unknowingly preparing for this moment since our first year at UA.”

Bakugou is properly suspicious now, because again, Izuku knows him and he knows Izuku, and contrary to popular belief, Izuku can be mischievous.

He pulls out three notebooks, pages worn-out and thick with ink. Bakugou shoots to his feet at the sight of them, a comical expression of terror on his face. Kirishima realizes a second later and buries his face in his hands, shoulders shaking.

Izuku grins.

“It is my pleasure,” he says gleefully, “to commemorate Kacchan and Kirishima’s union by sharing some fond memories with you all.”

“Deku, you fuck, don’t you dare—”

“To start, one time I caught Kacchan writing Kirishima Katsuki in his school notes. Another time, I caught him—”

With Kirishima restraining his husband, Izuku makes it halfway through the second notebook before Bakugou blows up the reception.

He considers it a success.)