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A Secret Admirer

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It happened on a Thursday which, if you think about it, is a really weird day of the week for something like this to just start happening. It was such a small thing too, almost not worth getting hung up about, but it was still… strange.

The class of 1-A filtered into homeroom groggily, it was only 7 o’clock in the morning. The first people to enter were Iida and Uraraka and Asui, followed closely by Midoriya, Todoroki, and then Bakugou and Kirishima. It was such a small disturbance in their early morning routine that, at first, nobody even noticed it. Too distracted by sleepy morning conversations and the rubbing of eyes as everyone tried to gear up for a long day of hero training.

Kirishima tried to encourage Bakugou into a conversation like he did every morning, but he knew it was pointless. Even though Bakugou was usually the first one on the boy’s side of the dorms to wake up in the morning, that didn’t mean he was bursting with social energy to talk to any of them. Still, Kirishima took consolation in the little grunts and nods Bakugou graced him with when they walked to class together, knowing if it were anyone else, they’d have already been told to fuck right off. It had become part of their routine and it made Kirishima feel special.

So when Bakugou broke free from the pack and sauntered over to his desk for a few minutes of peace and quiet before class started, no one really batted an eye. Until –

EH?” Bakugou’s shout was loud in the early morning buzz of half-awake conversations. Like his explosions; it startled everyone around him.

“Kacchan?” Midoriya looked concerned as he peered around Iida’s tall frame to better see the blonde on the other side of the room. “What’s wrong?”

All eyes turned to look at Bakugou. He was frozen in his tracks, his eyes wide, and his bag hung limply in his hand, like he had just been about to throw it to the ground and collapse into his desk when something stopped him. Kirishima’s eyes followed Bakugou’s gaze when the blonde made no move to answer Midoriya.

And then he saw it.

It was so innocent, really. Just a bottle of unopened green tea. It looked like maybe it had come from one of the many vending machines that were placed around campus.

The longer Kirishima looked at it, the more he recognized that particular brand of green tea. It was Bakugou’s favorite. He was always drinking it; at lunch, after sparring – Kirishima had seen empty bottles of it scattered about Bakugou’s room the few times he had been allowed to come in and hang out.

Just an innocent bottle of unopened green tea. With a little note stuck to the side.

“What does it say?” Uraraka asked loudly. Her eyes were shining in what could only be construed as excitement and overwhelming curiosity.

It didn’t seem like Bakugou had heard her. He just stood there, staring at the bottle like it was a bomb waiting to go off in his face. When nothing happened, he reached out and plucked the note from the bottle. It came off violently and stuck to his finger while the bottle jiggled around from the force. His eyebrows furrowed as he squinted down at it.

The class waited with bated breath. Uraraka looked like she might explode at any minute from the suspense. Kirishima empathized with her – his own heart was racing.

“Tch.” It was all Bakugou said before he crumpled the note up into a ball in his fist.

“Wait!” Uraraka tried to run at him, already knowing what was about to happen, but she wasn’t fast enough.

With a loud pop and crackle, the little note burned up in Bakugou’s hand before he dusted the ashes off his fingertips and onto the ground.

“No!” Uraraka’s face looked pink with frustration. “I wanted to read it! Now I’m soo curious! What did it say, Bakugou!”

Kirishima could tell by the bright tint crawling up Bakugou’s neck that he was incredibly on guard. His movements were stiff as he collapsed down into his seat and stared at the bottle on his desk reproachfully. Kirishima almost wanted to go to his best bro’s aid; to stop Uraraka from pestering him, but something deep down prevented him from speaking out. Who had gotten up so early just to place a bottle of green tea on someone’s desk?

And not just anyone’s desk; Bakugou Katsuki's desk. This was a big deal.

“Come on, Bakugou!” Uraraka flopped down beside him. “I won’t ask for anything else ever again for as long as I live if you tell me what the note said. You can whisper it in my ear!” She leaned close into his personal space and Kirishima winced, knowing he wouldn’t like that.

Bakugou looked murderous. “Fuck off,” he said, though his tone sounded a little funny. He was shaken up; that much was obvious.

“Pleeeease!” Uraraka’s eyes turned pleading.

“It just said to enjoy, okay?” Bakugou snarled dangerously, his white teeth flashing. His cheeks were tinging even darker now. Kirishima couldn’t help but think how brave Uraraka was for remaining next to him when he was like that. “Now get the fuck out of my face!”

“I wonder who it was from,” Midoriya muttered quietly, having taken his seat behind Bakugou stealthily so as to avoid becoming a target for his anger. “And why.”

Bakugou turned around in his desk anyway. His palms sparked and popped dangerously. “It doesn’t fucking matter who they are or why they did it!”

“Woah, what’s going on?” Ashido yawned loudly as she entered the room, followed closely by Kaminari and Sero, who looked like they were leaning on each other for support. “Why is there so much yelling so early in the morning?”

Uraraka bounced to her feet and she smiled the biggest grin Kirishima had ever seen on her. “Bakugou has a secret admirer!” She snatched the green tea bottle from Bakugou’s desk before he could protest and tossed it over to Ashido, who caught the bottle easily in the air. “This was just sitting on his desk with a little note on it when we came in!”

Ashido’s black eyes widened with matched excitement. Kirishima grimaced. He felt sort of bad for Bakugou. Ashido was the Queen of Gossip and Romance, and this was probably like hitting the rom-com jackpot for her.

“Oh my god! I wonder who it’s from!” Ashido expelled with giddiness as she rolled the bottle around from one hand to the other experimentally, as if the bottle would have some sort of clue on it.

Bakugou’s eye twitched and he slammed his hand down on top of his desk. The smell of burning wood filtered through the classroom. “What are you girls going on about?” He snarled and his face looked twisted in anger and… confusion? Kirishima blinked in surprise.

Ashido smiled widely at him. “Well, who else would have done it and why if not because they have a crush on you! This is obviously some sort of effort to get your attention! Isn’t that exciting?”

Bakugou’s eye twitched again – or really, his whole face was twitching uncomfortably now. “NO! IT’S NOT!”

Kirishima looked closer. Though it was incredibly normal for Bakugou to be exploding like this, the red in his face wasn’t the same shade as when he was arguing over the correct answer in class or fighting off robots on the battlefield. No, this red was from something else. Bakugou looked… embarrassed. So so embarrassed.

“It is!” Ashido argued back. Her smile was so wide Kirishima was surprised her face didn’t split in two. “How romantic! We have to find out who it is!”

More smoke and pops crackled from Bakugou’s hand. He had effectively burned a handprint into the top of his desk. “SHUT UP!”

“Indeed.” Aizawa appeared in the doorway, looking disgruntled by the sheer volume at which his class was producing at such an early time in the morning. “Take your seats. Quietly.”

Ashido chucked the bottle at Bakugou with so much effort, he was forced to catch it unless he wanted it to smack him right in the face. Ashido grinned maniacally and Bakugou dropped the drink as if it had burned his skin. With a ‘thunk’, the bottle bounced off his desk and fell to the floor, where it rolled back and forth before coming to a stop near Midoriya’s foot.

The rest of the class took their seats, Ashido and Uraraka were practically buzzing with excitement, they clearly couldn’t wait to gossip about this once class was over, but Bakugou remained standing. He looked out of breath and a bead of sweat had started to trail down the side of his face. Kirishima suddenly felt bad for just standing back and letting his best bro get thrown into Ashido’s romantic spotlight, but he had been just as shocked as the rest of the class to see the bottle, maybe even more so. Someone at UA was pining after Bakugou.

Well - Kirishima forced down a blush that threatened to overtake him - someone else was also pining after Bakugou.

“Bakugou,” Aizawa stated with authority. Bakugou’s red eyes swiveled around to look at him. “I won’t say it again. Sit down.”

Bakugou looked like he was going into fight or flight mode. His hands were half-curled into fists and his body was tense. Kirishima could see his shoulders shaking as he took deep breaths. Finally, the blonde sat himself down roughly into his seat. He stared at the top of his desk with furrowed brows, his mouth set in a tight line of concentration. He didn’t look up even as Aizawa started going over their lesson plans for the day.

Kirishima had a hard time concentrating that day.

He tried to ignore it when they had first entered the room, but now that he had nothing to focus on but Aizawa's grumbling tone and the thoughts in his own head, he couldn’t just ignore the tense ball of jealousy he felt growing in the pit of his stomach.

Someone at UA, maybe even someone in this very classroom, was trying to get Bakugou’s attention. This didn’t really come as a surprise, per se. Bakugou was a very attractive guy. His soft features and pale complexion were a stark contrast to his explosive personality. And he was so cool and manly, like a bad boy straight from a movie or something. A bad boy with, Kirishima knew, a heart of fucking gold. It was so damn attractive – of course there were others out there that saw that in Bakugou as well. Kirishima wasn’t stupid. He had just been… wistfully ignorant up until that morning.

But it couldn’t be ignored anymore.

Kirishima’s eyes involuntarily moved over to look at the blonde when he sensed movement out his peripherals. Midoriya had bent down and picked up the bottle of green tea and he looked like he might shit himself as he tried to hand it back to Bakugou. It shook a little in the green-haired boy’s grasp.

Bakugou’s red eyes narrowed on the bottle hanging over his shoulder and for a second it seemed like he wouldn’t take it. His hands were clasped tightly to the sides of his desk, like he might lift off into the sky at any moment. Then he snatched the bottle from Midoriya’s hand and slammed it down onto his desk.

“Bakugou.” Aizawa didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t need to. His gaze was stern and menacing.

Bakugou slid down into his seat and chewed on the inside of his mouth as he stared the bottle down.

 

 

Their morning lessons dragged on that day.

Despite Bakugou’s earlier outbursts, he remained uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of their classes. He didn’t even take the liberty of snorting in his usual manner when Midoriya nearly fell out of his chair in an attempt to answer a question as quickly as possible. Kirishima wanted to say something to him, but he didn’t know what he was meant to say. They didn’t particularly talk in depth about anything to each other, though Kirishima was sure that he had made some headway with his friendship with the explosive blonde since they pretty much spent every day together and Bakugou hadn’t completely rejected his efforts. But still, their conversations had always been very surface level.

When they were sparring, they talked about strategy and quirks.

When they were eating with the rest of the Bakusquad at lunch, Bakugou generally remained quiet while the others jabbered on about anything and everything, and he really only chimed in with his own opinion if it was to disagree and argue with them.

Those rare moments when Kirishima had been allowed to hang out in Bakugou’s dorm room after dinner and on the weekends to play video games or read comics, they kept their conversations centered around whatever was most relevant at that moment.

Sure, Kirishima longed to talk to him about other stuff. What he liked to do. What his family was like. Was he a dog person or a cat person, or an animal person at all? Kirishima had a feeling that he was, though Bakugou would probably never admit to it. But they hadn’t reached that point in their friendship yet and Kirishima had been content to wait. To be close to someone like Bakugou was a privilege in itself and he didn’t want to ruin it by pushing himself on the blonde too fast. He had just gotten Bakugou comfortable with him casually (or maybe not so casually but he tried so hard to make it casual) swinging his arm over his shoulders when they walked to class.

But he felt like he had to say something. Bakugou looked like he was dying over there.

But he didn’t even get the chance to.

As soon as the bell rang, signaling for lunch, Bakugou was out of his desk and slamming his books deep into his bag. He leaped over his desk dramatically and looked ready to storm out of the room when he stopped. His red eyes darted back to the unopened bottle sitting innocently on his desk.

Kirishima knew he wasn’t the only one watching Bakugou with held breath. Would he take the bottle with him? He hadn’t drunk from it. He probably thought it was poisoned.

After a moment of intense staring, Bakugou snatched the bottle off his desk and practically ran from the room at top speeds. He moved so quickly that Iida called after him and scolded him for running in the halls.

Kirishima watched him leave with his mouth parted in surprise. He had taken the drink with him. So, he was curious to know who had given it to him too. Probably even more curious than the rest of them – though the look on Ashido’s face as she came bounding over to Kirishima had him doubting it.

“What was that?” Ashido asked.

“I know, that was so weird,” Uraraka agreed. “But he took the bottle with him! Do you think he knows who gave it to him?”

Ashido whipped around at that suggestion, gobbling it up. “You mean like, maybe he’s dating someone and trying to keep it a secret and this was just some kind of slip up?”

Kirishima tried not to focus on the way that heavy ball of jealousy rolling around in his stomach seemed to get bigger. He tried to keep the curious yet slightly detached look on his face. He tried so hard, he thought he might burst.

“He was so embarrassed. It was kind of cute. Who knew Bakugou was capable of that kind of emotion.” Asui had joined them around Kirishima’s desk, with Kaminari and Sero close behind her.

“I don’t know. He looked… worried.” Midoriya mused out loud. “Almost like he thought it was a trap or something. I don’t think he knew who gave it to him.”

“It has to be a secret admirer!” Ashido proclaimed. “It just has to be!” She closed her eyes tight and clasped her hands together, like she was making a wish. “Pleeease let it be a secret admirer!”

Kirishima squirmed in his desk. Why did they have to have this conversation right here? He had to participate, otherwise it would look suspicious, but he just couldn’t get the words to come out.

“Bakugou? With a secret admirer?” Sero looked more awake than he had at the start of class, and he was ready to dig into this drama with both hands. “Who would be crushing on him though? The dude is psychotic!”

Kirishima dug his fingernails into his palms to prevent himself from saying anything. He felt like he should go to his friend’s aid – Bakugou really wasn’t all that bad once you got to know him and got used to his screaming, but he felt too embarrassed. He felt like now wasn’t the time, like if he said anything, even under the pretense of defending his friend’s honor, that he’d be giving something away. He didn’t even trust his own voice not to stutter or crack.

“Are you kidding?” Ashido rolled her eyes as though they were all idiots. “Bakugou might be a basket case, sure, but he was still the winner of the Sports Festival, plus he was the drummer in our band, plus his quirk is super cool, and if we’re being completely honest, he IS kind of hot in a totally rebellious sort of way, all douchebaggery aside. I’m sure there are girls lined up around the block that want to get close to him.”

Kaminari scoffed at this with his mouth hanging wide open. “But it’s BAKUGOU. Why can’t a secret admirer leave food on my desk?”

“Maybe it’s someone who doesn’t really know him personally,” Asui suggested. They had finally started to filter out of the classroom and head for the cafeteria. Kirishima tried not to scan the halls for any sign of their explosive classmate.

“So, you think it’s someone from a different class,” Midoriya asked. He looked like he was thinking a mile a minute as they trooped down the hall in unison. “That makes sense. Kacchan has always wowed people, especially those who haven’t been his target before. Anyone at the school who is not in our class could have a totally different perception of him than we do...” He continued to mutter under his breath, but Kirishima couldn't make out what he was saying, thankfully.

“Uuuugh, the romance!” Ashido squealed excitedly before she whipped around to look at Kirishima, who was sweating a little, wishing they would talk about anything else. “Who do you think it is Kiri?”

“Huh?” Kirishima looked at her with a frown. “Me? Why would I know?” He tried to act nonchalant, though he wasn’t sure if he really pulled it off.

“You’re his best friend!” Ashido said it so simply. “You guys hang out all the time. He must have said something to you?”

Kirishima tried to think back to their conversations.

He could remember Bakugou getting really invested in a video on his phone about a fighting strategy when they were taking a break from sparring once. The blonde had practically thrust the phone into his face, rambling on about how his new move was going to be similar to that, but better, obviously. He could also remember Bakugou crinkling his nose once when Kirishima mentioned a particular movie, though he had only responded to tell Kirishima that the movie was so incredibly stupid and how could anyone in their right mind possibly like it.

But have they ever talked about a secret crush? An admirer from afar? Relationships in general?

He shook his head. “No, he hasn’t said anything to me. About anyone really.”

“UUUUGH!” Uraraka looked pained as she leaned into Ashido. “I need to know now!”

Thankfully, by the time they had gotten into the cafeteria, Kaminari and Sero had diverted the conversation into a hazed panic over the test they were meant to have tomorrow that apparently was very easy to forget about.

Kirishima relaxed a little, though he still felt unsettled. He hated how much this green tea bottle situation was bothering him.

Up until that day, he had thought he had done such a good job at hiding his attraction to Bakugou. It was really hard to see him every day and not touch him or confess in the most word-vomiting, non-manly way possible. He exerted so much energy throughout the day keeping himself in check – always making sure that his touches would be perceived as manly friendship, and that he didn’t stare too long when Bakugou got really worked up in training. But now he felt nervous. And for what? Because there was… competition?

Kirishima shook his head. He was so lost in his own thoughts that he hadn’t even realized they had arrived in the cafeteria and were sitting at their usual spot with trays in front of them.

Ashido sat next to him and argued with Kaminari about the relevance of their test (“It’s just one test, it probably won’t be so bad, right?” “Uuugh, you say that about every test!”) and Sero sat across from him and watched the argument unfold while he munched contently on his sandwich.

The bench jiggled and suddenly there was warmth on his other side. Kirishima turned and his heart nearly leaped up into his throat when he saw Bakugou sit down next to him with a tray of his own. His face was still tinged with pink embarrassment, but nothing like what it had been before.

Kirishima’s eyes did a quick scan of his tray, but the green tea bottle was nowhere to be found.

“H-hey,” he said breathlessly. He hadn’t expected Bakugou to come to lunch today honestly. Usually, whenever the blonde got worked up over something, he’d elect to take his food back to the dorms and eat by himself until classes resumed. “Where’ve you been?”

Bakugou’s red eyes snapped over to look at him. His jaw was clenched, and he looked seconds away from blowing them all up. “Nowhere, mind your damn business.” He snapped.

Kirishima blinked at him, though he probably shouldn’t be so surprised. He knew Bakugou was yelling at him because he was embarrassed and not because he had done anything wrong. He had so many questions he wanted to ask the blonde, but he knew to keep his mouth shut. Ashido, on the other hand, never knew when to keep her mouth shut.

She gasped and leaned across Kirishima to get all up in Bakugou’s face. “Did you try to find your secret admirer? Do you have an idea of who it is?”

Bakugou’s ears burned red again and his eye started to twitch. “No, you damn gossiper, and even if I did there’s no way in hell I’d tell you!”

“So you do have an idea of who it is!” Ashido’s eyes were shining excitedly.

Bakugou barred his teeth like a dangerous dog and clasped his hand into a fist. “Listen black eyes you’re heading straight for a world of hurt!”

“Ugh,” Ashido rolled her eyes dramatically and flopped back down into her seat. “You’re right Sero, I don’t understand how anyone could have a crush on him. He’s so rude.”

That seemed to affect Bakugou more than anyone could have been prepared for. His fist loosened and the anger on his face drew back for a moment before it returned full force.

“Whatever.” He spat. And just as quickly as he had arrived, he snatched up his tray and disappeared again.

Kirishima wanted to reach out to him, to call him back, but he didn’t. Now wasn’t the time. Today wasn’t the day for him to be clingy and risk exposing his secret. He was in dangerous territory.

It was easy for everyone to assume they were just bros because the topic of romance and Bakugou Katsuki just didn’t mix. But now that Ashido was invested in finding out who had given Bakugou that bottle of green tea, Kirishima felt more exposed somehow. Like her extra-intent eyes would pick up on the subtle bits he allowed to slip out throughout the day. And she could never find out. No one could. Especially not Bakugou.

Ashido pouted as her black eyes followed Bakugou’s tense back until he disappeared out of the cafeteria and down the hall. “Great. Now I’m going to have to apologize.”

“What?” Sero raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Because I obviously hurt his indestructible feelings or something,” Ashido grumbled. She looked genuinely upset. Kirishima knew that as much as Ashido forced her way into people’s personal lives, she never meant to hurt anybody. She was just excitable, and a romantic, and she didn’t know how to keep anything to herself. She was a lot like Kirishima in that regard. She wanted to be involved in everyone’s life. He reached out and wrapped his arm around her shoulder in solidarity.

Sero and Kaminari blinked at each other in confusion. “Bakugou has feelings?”

 

 

Kirishima had never heard Bakugou yell so loudly before during training. It was like he was verbally trying to expel all of the frustration and confusion out of his body with every heavy swing of his muscular arm. He was sweating like crazy, which only made him more dangerous, and he blew up the base of a building in a matter of seconds.

“Young Bakugou!” All Might yelled from the sidelines. “This is a rescue operation! Why are you destroying everything!”

“SHUT UP!” Bakugou screamed back before he let loose a huge blast from his palms and sent a ‘villain’ spiraling off into the distance. He was out of control.

“If you don’t stop, I will have to remove you from this lesson and send you back to the dorms early!” All Might warned. Usually the thought of falling behind and missing a class was enough to corral Bakugou’s anger back into check. For such a manly badass, Bakugou cared so much about his grades. But even All Might’s warning didn’t deter him this time, and he continued to slam and destroy and rip apart anything in his path.

A loud buzzer sounded throughout the training course and the robots posing as villains immediately shut down and collapsed to the ground. The other heroes on the course with Bakugou – Todoroki, Uraraka, and Jirou – all stopped what they were doing and turned their eyes onto their distressed classmate.

Bakugou stood away from them, bent at the waist with his elbows resting on his knees. Even from this far away, up in the stands observing, Kirishima could see Bakugou’s whole body shaking from overexertion as he panted loudly. All Might had stepped out onto the course, barely giving the other students a glance as he squeezed past them and stalked towards Bakugou’s back with a determined look on his face.

“Young Bakugou. I am going to have to ask you to leave until you have calmed down –“

“FINE!” Bakugou yelled. When he turned around his face was red and sweaty. This was new, and Kirishima would be lying if he said he wasn’t starting to get worried. This whole secret admirer thing was really wearing Bakugou thin. Usually he argued to stay out on the field, promised to keep his anger in check, but today he just stomped away, grumbling under his breath as he detached the launchers from his forearms.

All Might turned towards the stands of observing students and his eyes fell on Kirishima. “Kirishima! Would you be so kind as to take Bakugou’s place?”

Kirishima blinked before he nodded and jumped to his feet. “Of course!” He jogged down to the training course and tried not to think about Bakugou for the rest of the lesson.

 

 

It was all anyone could talk about. The green tea bottle. So innocent. So simple. With a little note that was also simple. Enjoy! It could have been from anyone. Bakugou carried those drinks around with him at all times. Literally anyone could have observed him in the hallways or in the cafeteria or even during training and put two-and-two together that it was his favorite drink. Honey with Ginseng. But Kirishima couldn’t help but deflate a little bit at the thought.

Knowing little things about Bakugou had always been enough to satiate his need to be closer to the blonde. Sure, Midoriya probably knew way more about Bakugou’s past and childhood than Kirishima could ever hope to know, but apart from that, he liked to believe that only he was observant enough to know that Bakugou enjoyed his eggs with an unsettling amount of hot sauce, or that his favorite cheat snack was mint chocolate ice cream and he only allowed himself to have one bowl a month, or that he liked to take his showers in the morning as opposed to at night, or that he was always wiping his hands on his pant legs because of the excessive amount of sweat that he produced… or that he smelled like caramel. These were all little things Kirishima had picked up on after months of hanging out with Bakugou, of quietly watching him out of the corner of his eye.

And now it had become painstakingly obvious that someone else at UA had been watching Bakugou just as closely as he had been. Had they discovered anything about the blonde that Kirishima himself didn’t know? Were there things about Bakugou, private things, that someone else was privy to know that Kirishima hadn’t figured out yet? The idea made the ball in his stomach tighten and he clenched his jaw.

“Hey.” Ashido. “Are you okay? You’ve been so quiet all day, it’s really weirding me out you know.”

Kirishima glanced over at her as they walked side-by-side back to their dorm building. The others had pulled ahead of them, laughing and excitedly planning a Smash Brothers tournament in the living room tonight. He winced and tried to smile brightly. “Yeah, I’m fine!”

Ashido didn’t believe him for a second. He supposed he should have known that she wouldn’t. “Is this about Bakugou?”

Kirishima could already feel the blush starting to creep up the sides of his neck. “W-what? What do you-mean?”

“You’re trying to figure out who gave him the bottle.” Ashido pushed him gently on the shoulder. “Some girl is trying to steal your bro away and you feel threatened! Bros before hoes, right?”

Kirishima visibly relaxed. Good. She didn’t know anything. “Something like that.”

Ashido giggled into her hand. “Don’t be so tense, Kiri. Bakugou would never abandon you for some girl.”

Kirishima blinked at her in confusion. “Why do you say that?”

“Duh. He loves you.”

Kirishima almost tripped over his own feet. “WHAT?” He practically screamed.

“Yeah, it’s so obvious, in a totally Bakugou sort of way.” She rolled her eyes at the blatancy of it all. “The way you guys always train together, and he lets you hang off of him the way you like to do, even though it’s clear that he hates all kinds of physical contact, and he’s always waiting in the living room for you in the morning to walk to class. Sometimes I see him sitting there for ten minutes or more waiting for your slow ass!”

He couldn’t push down the intense feeling of warmth that started to take over his whole body.

“You’re his best friend! He probably won’t ever admit it, but it’s so obvious it hurts. He’s like a lost puppy when you’re not around, all sulky and moody. You’re his favorite red-haired punching bag.” Ashido smiled encouragingly, but her words seemed to drag Kirishima further down than she could ever know. Still, he tried to smile back at her. She was just trying to help make him feel better. It’s not her fault she didn’t know how he really felt.

“Thanks, Ashido.” He choked out. He was Bakugou’s best friend. Nothing more. And he was okay with that, really. He really really was. Really.

When they entered the dorm building, lagging behind everyone else, the rest of class 1-A had already set up for a long night of hanging out in the living room. Sero and Kaminari were practically in Todoroki’s lap, excitedly trying to explain to him the rules while shoving a controller into his stiff hands. Todoroki looked like an uncomfortable deer caught in headlights. He held the controller upside down and Kaminari snatched it from him before jamming it back into his grasp right side up. Todoroki looked like he might burst into flames – he looked so overwhelmed!

“You want to play with us or are you going upstairs to interrogate Bakugou?” Sometimes Ashido could read his mind like an open book.

Kirishima tried to push down the blush from creeping up his neck. “I’m gonna try and talk to him.”

“If he says anything about the bottle, you better tell me about it! The suspense is literally killing me.”

You and me both, Kirishima thought darkly. He forced a chuckle. “Yeah okay, sure.” He waved goodbye as Ashido rushed to Todoroki’s aid like a valiant, pink queen in shining armor before he turned and started for the elevators.

Once inside the elevator, he pressed the fourth-floor button and watched as the doors closed and he was finally alone. He sagged into the wall of the elevator with a heavy sigh and let his head fall back with a quiet ‘thud’. He debated on whether he really was going to try and talk to Bakugou tonight or not. He hadn’t seen the blonde this worked up since the Sports Festival, when he had to be restrained just to receive his first-place medal. Kirishima was almost nervous that he’d blow him up if he tried to talk about it with him, but mostly he was nervous about being pushed away. He could handle a few explosions thrown at him, his quirk was actually a really good Bakugou repellant, but he didn’t know if he could handle the emotional blowback if Bakugou thought that Kirishima wanted to gossip about the bottle. Maybe he would never be allowed back in Bakugou’s room again! But seeing the apparent distress and frustration on Bakugou’s face during their training had made Kirishima’s insides twist uncomfortably. He had to check up on him, just to make sure that he was okay. That’s what best friends did, right?

The ping of the elevator startled him from his thoughts and he stepped out into the hallway. Bakugou’s door was right next to Kirishima’s. He stopped in front of it and fiddled with the strap of his bag nervously. He listened for any signs of life behind Bakugou’s door, but he didn’t hear anything at all. He didn’t even hear music or a movie playing. Was he already asleep? Had he even gotten dinner yet? He supposed Bakugou could have had time to grab something since he left training early, but he had been so angry, Kirishima doubted he had even thought about it.

He raised a fist and knocked hesitantly at the door. It took a minute for his mouth to properly form words. “Hey, Bakugou? You in there?” He was met with silence. His eyebrows furrowed with worry. Was Bakugou even here? He knocked again, a bit louder this time. “Hello? It’s just me, I –“

“Go away,” Bakugou yelled from somewhere inside.

Kirishima winced and his hand fell back down limply to his side. Bakugou was inside, he was just ignoring him. “O-okay! I just wanted to make sure… that you were okay.” More silence. “If you wanted to talk, I mean, not about this specifically or anything but, just in general, if you need anything – “ Kirishima knew he was rambling. God, he couldn’t stop himself.

“GO. THE FUCK. AWAY!” Bakugou yelled again, louder this time. Somewhere behind the closed door, Kirishima could hear the crack and pop of his hands.

“R-right, sorry!” Kirishima hurried away from the door before it exploded on him.

When he was safe in his own room, he stripped of his clothes and collapsed onto his bed with a frustrated groan. What was he supposed to do? He felt like he had been such a bad friend today. First, he didn’t even try to stop Uraraka and Ashido from getting all up in Bakugou’s face about the bottle, then he hadn’t even stuck up for him when Kaminari and Sero mocked the idea of anyone ever having a crush on him, and now he had run away from confronting him just because he was uncomfortable and didn’t want to risk being too obvious all of a sudden. All while Bakugou struggled with this by himself. Ugh! He was so unmanly!

He pushed his head further into his pillow, briefly wondering if he should just suffocate himself so he wouldn’t have to face the reality of being such a shitty friend. But the stifling heat was too much for him and after a few minutes he turned his head to the side to gulp down the fresh air lazily blowing through his cracked window.

He didn’t know how long he’d laid there, but he was almost about to doze off and fall asleep when his phone buzzed loudly on his nightstand and jarred him awake. He blinked around blurrily before he reached out and grabbed his phone. He rolled onto his back and turned on the screen, and his heart started to beat a little faster when he saw that he had gotten a text message.

From Bakugou.

Sorry.

It was just one word, but Kirishima felt all of the tension flood from his body. He quickly typed back, already knowing he was going to over-do it, but not caring anyway. He had to get it out.

Hey! Don’t even worry about it! I shouldn’t have bothered you, I just wanted to make sure you were okay! You don’t have to talk to me, of course, I feel like I’ve been a shitty friend to you today so if anything I’m the one that should be sorry!

It was so much, Bakugou was probably going to blow up his own phone out of anger, but Kirishima didn’t care. He needed to apologize and to get it off his chest. He needed Bakugou to know that he was aware of what a shitty friend he had been. Bakugou didn’t reply right away and the tension was literally killing him. What was he doing over there? It was so quiet in the room next to his. He couldn’t take it anymore. He quickly started typing again.

Some people are playing games downstairs – Smash bros tournie! Want to go dominate?

He really hoped Bakugou would take the bait. His competitive nature was the only way anyone could convince him to do anything social with the rest of the class, and Kirishima was really hoping it would work in this situation. He just wanted things to go back to normal. It had only been a day and he already missed spending time with him. As bros. Just two dudes – hanging out.

His phone buzzed with another text.

Fine.

Kirishima’s whole body seemed to vibrate. Finally, he could spend a few hours with Bakugou and try to forget that someone else probably thought his hair was also sexy and that his lips were probably super intense when you kissed him. He leaped out of bed when he heard Bakugou’s door open and slam shut before Bakugou’s rough voice filtered in through his own door. “Come on loser I’m not fucking waiting for you.” Kirishima could already hear him padding away towards the elevator.

He pulled on one of his Crimson Riot hoodies and a pair of sweatshorts as fast as he could before he grabbed his phone and quickly left his room. Bakugou was already on the elevator and Kirishima tried not to think too much about the fact that Bakugou had his foot angled in the doorway so that the elevator door wouldn’t close without him.

He hurried into the elevator and Bakugou pulled his foot away and finally let the door close.

“Tch,” Bakugou grumbled beside him. “You’re such a fucking fanboy.” He said with a roll of his eyes.

Kirishima looked down at his Crimson Riot hoodie before he smiled back up at him. “I just like to represent manly heroes! One day I’ll have a hoodie with your name on it too!” Shit, he probably shouldn’t have said that – though he had been thinking about it since the first day he’d met Bakugou at the entrance exams. He already knew, even back then, that Bakugou was going to be such a badass hero and he couldn’t wait to buy his merch when it came out.

The tips of Bakugou’s ears burned red – they probably matched the bright blush that had crawled its way up Kirishima’s neck. Why did he have to be so goddamn awkward?

Thankfully, the elevator pinged to announce that they’d reached the bottom floor and the door opened to reveal their classmates hunched together in the living room, surrounding the television. At first, Bakugou didn’t move. He looked like he wanted to slam the elevator doors shut and go back upstairs. Kirishima felt bad for pushing him. He knew Bakugou was already straining his emotional limit today, and here he was making him embarrassed over some stupid shit. But after a minute, Bakugou stepped out of the elevator and started for the couches. Kirishima sighed thankfully and hurried after him.

“Hey! Room for two more?” Kirishima grinned down at them all.

“Of course!” Ashido squealed excitedly. She was eyeing Kirishima hungrily as she scooted over on the couch and pulled him down next to her. She kicked Sero and Kaminari’s backs, who were laying on the ground in front of the couch (“Ow!”). “Make room for BakuBRO!” This was her way of apologizing.

The boys grumbled angrily at being shooed away before they shuffled closer to the center, where Todoroki and Midoriya sat tapping buttons. Todoroki’s movements were slow and calculated, while Midoriya button smashed as quickly as possible and yelled in giddiness whenever Todoroki’s character got too close to him.

Bakugou didn’t hesitate before he plopped down in front of the couch and pulled his knees into his chest, resting his elbows on the tops. He accepted the apology. “I’m next!” He stated bluntly.

“No way! You aren’t even on the bracket!” Kaminari complained.

“Then put me on the damn bracket! I’m playing next!” Bakugou snarled.

Kirishima tried to ignore how close Bakugou’s back was to sitting between his legs. He tried so hard. Ashido grabbed a hold of his arm and squeezed, forcing Kirishima to look at her. Her black eyes were wide and she looked expectantly at him. He knew what she wanted. She wanted him to tell her everything he and Bakugou had talked about. She wanted to know if there were any updates on the mystery admirer. Kirishima winced and just shook his head, to let her know he didn’t know anything new.

Ashido pouted for a minute before she turned back to the television. “Oh my GOD, Todoroki just HIT. HIM!”

“I’m trying!” Todoroki sounded like he was in pain. Poor guy.

Kirishima couldn’t help but smile at his tense classmate before his eyes subconsciously moved to look at the back of Bakugou’s head. His heart pounded away in his chest and he was sure Ashido, who was pressed flush against him still clinging to his arm, could hear it.

 

 

The next morning, most everyone had forgotten about the green tea bottle incident.

They had all stayed up super late playing Smash Bros, even Bakugou had started dozing off near the end – it was way past his usual bedtime, but he had been determined to beat Kaminari out for first place. Which he did, of course. Because he was Bakugou and Bakugou always won. Kirishima was proud of himself for getting Bakugou to come out of his room and enjoy the rest of his night. It had filled him with warmth when they had gotten back up to the fourth floor and he had heard Bakugou grumble tiredly, “night fucker,” before disappearing into his room.

So Kirishima was back to his normal bubbly self as he, Bakugou, Ashido, Sero, and Kaminari approached their homeroom. That was, until the door slammed open from the inside and Uraraka stepped out looking excited. Kirishima could already feel the horror that was beginning to build up inside of him, and Bakugou stopped dead in his tracks.

“Uraraka? What are you doing here already?” Ashido asked curiously.

“I couldn’t help it – I had to see if… well, come look for yourself!” She gestured into the classroom.

Ashido, Sero, and Kaminari ran ahead of them to peer inside. Bakugou was still glued to the spot, looking mortified, and Kirishima winced at the excited squeal Ashido let out when she stuck her head into the classroom. “There’s another drink waiting for you Bakubro!” She yelled back over her shoulder.

Kirishima’s eyes snapped over to Bakugou. The blonde’s face was redder than he had ever seen it before and his hands crackled dangerously by his sides. Kirishima wasn’t even sure Bakugou was aware that he was doing it at this point. Before Kirishima could say anything, Bakugou had taken off at a sprint down the hall and disappeared into the closest bathroom.

Chapter Text

“W-wait! Did he just run away?”

“Bakugou! Where are you going man?”

“Did he just run into the toilets?”

“When nature calls.”

“Are you not going to be drinking this then? Can I have it! Ow – what? I think he threw away the last one! What a waste!”

Kirishima pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to steady himself. His emotions were all over the place, but probably not as unhinged as Bakugou’s were at this very moment. He had to pull himself together and help his bro through this. He wouldn’t be a shitty friend today like he was yesterday. “I’ll go and talk to him!” Kirishima said to the group before he started down the hall at a quick pace (Iida had suddenly appeared around the corner with a confused looking Midoriya and Todoroki, so he didn’t risk running).

He hesitated when he got to the bathroom that Bakugou had disappeared into. He knew he shouldn’t be nervous, it was just Bakugou after all, but his fear of being turned away, rejected, started to creep up on him again. He shook his head with determination. No. Now was not the time to be worrying about himself.

“Bakugou?” He rapped on the door with his knuckles before he opened it and peaked his head inside. There were only three stalls in this particular bathroom, and one of them had the door closed. “Hey, are you okay?” When he didn’t immediately hear Bakugou scream at him to get out, he moved further into the room and let the door close behind him.

He could make out Bakugou’s legs under the stall door as he got closer. It looked like he was kneeling down over the toilet.

“Baku-“

A loud cough echoed out of the stall, followed by the sound of vomit. Kirishima paled so quickly he thought he might pass out on the spot. He grabbed a hold of the sinks behind him to steady himself when his knees got weak. He had never had a very strong stomach for puke, especially when he was hearing it or watching it happen. But he had to remind himself that he wasn’t doing this for him, he was here to support Bakugou.

“Uh, B-Bakugou?” Kirishima looked up at the ceiling and tried not to inhale too much. “Are you okay? Do you want me to take you to Recovery Girl? She can probably – “

“Shitty… Hair…” Bakugou was panting in the stall, and even though Kirishima couldn’t see him, he could hear the embarrassment in his voice as he rasped for breath. “Leave me… alone.”

Kirishima blinked at the bathroom stall door. He didn’t want to leave him alone. He knew Bakugou was upset, embarrassed, but he wanted to be there for him. He hadn’t done anything at all yesterday to try and help him and he wanted to make up for it. Even if that meant he had to stand there in silence, struggling to stay conscious, and listen to Bakugou puke up whatever emotions he was feeling so overwhelmed from. “I… I’ll just stay out here.”

Bakugou grunted in the stall, but he didn’t say anything else.

For a while they just stayed there. Kirishima held himself up weakly against the sink and stared up at the lights on the ceiling to distract himself from the smell, while Bakugou kneeled over the toilet and dry-heaved for a solid five minutes before he finally fell silent. And then there was the flush of the toilet and Kirishima saw Bakugou slowly get to his feet before hesitating to open the door.

Kirishima turned towards the sink and turned on the water before he splashed himself in the face. He was actually very proud of himself. He had never listened to or watched someone puke before without puking himself, so he counted this as a small victory in his personal life. When he reached for some paper towels and started wiping off his face, he heard the stall door unlock behind him and caught sight of Bakugou appearing over his shoulder in the mirror. He looked pale and sweaty.

“Hey,” Kirishima turned around to look at him after discarding the paper towel. “Do you feel any better?” He tried not to sound worried or pitying – that would just push Bakugou into a rage, and Kirishima was really going to try and keep him calm today.

Bakugou’s face flushed red anyway and his lips turned down into a scowl. His eyes narrowed, and he looked at Kirishima with something that was close to suspicion. Kirishima froze up. Why was he looking at him like that?

“You could probably get some nausea gummies from Recovery Girl before class if you’re not feeling good.” Kirishima tried to ease the conversation forward.

Bakugou continued to stare at him. His hands were shoved deep into his pockets and, by the way they were bunched up, Kirishima could tell he was fisting handfuls of the fabric inside them. His backpack lay on the ground in the stall by his feet; forgotten. “Don’t fucking tell anyone.” He bit out with as much force as he could muster, which didn’t end up being a lot.

Kirishima blinked at his best friend in concern. The more he looked at him, the more tired he looked. Had he not slept well the night before? Kirishima deflated. He thought he had done a good job at distracting him, but he supposed in the dark of one’s bedroom at night it was hard to keep one’s thoughts from wandering. He had personal experience with that. How long had Bakugou stayed up last night worrying about this? “I… I wouldn’t ever – “

“Good. Fucking don’t.” He straightened up and shouldered Kirishima out of the way before he started to wash his hands and rinse out his mouth. His face was still red, but it was starting to eb away.

Kirishima wanted to help. He wanted to say something. He wanted to reach out and touch him. Bakugou was so upset. So embarrassed. “Hey dude, can I ask you something?”

Bakugou tensed and snarled down at his hands as he scrubbed them. “What?” He snapped.

“Why are you so embarrassed?” He asked.

Bakugou’s face fell for a second before he turned his red eyes back up to look at him. “Eh?”

Kirishima swallowed hard, hoping he wasn’t about to set the blonde off on another rampage like yesterday. “I mean… a secret admirer is probably really embarrassing, sure, but… isn’t it a good thing? Someone likes you. Enough to try and do something silly like this in an attempt to get your attention. Doesn’t that… I don’t know, feel kind of nice? To know that you’re… wanted?” He wished he hadn’t said anything at all.

Bakugou was looking at him with a mixture of shock and mortification. Kirishima replayed back what he’d just said, and he could feel his cheeks flushing in panic. Was it really so dumb? So unmanly? He didn’t mean to insinuate anything. He was just trying to think about how he would feel if he ever had a secret admirer. He knew he would probably be flustered at first, maybe even a little weirded out that someone had been paying such close attention to him and he hadn’t even noticed it, but he would also be… kind of excited? Like Ashido and Uraraka were saying, somebody liked him and was trying to talk to him! Wouldn’t that be… nice?

“I… didn’t mean for that to sound so mushy, I guess.” He tried to laugh and rubbed at the back of his neck, but Bakugou was still staring at him in horror. “Okay, why are you looking at me like that? It’s freaking me out! Will you just say something!”

Bakugou jerked his head away and continued washing his hands, even though Kirishima was certain that they were clean by now. “I don’t think it’s… nice.” He said through gritted teeth. “If… someone likes me, they should just come out and say it to my goddamn face.” He turned around to look at him and his eyes were so intense.

Kirishima blinked at him. He sounded almost… accusatory? But there was no way Bakugou could know about his secret. He had kept it so safe and guarded. “I mean, don’t take this the wrong way dude, but, you’re kind of really intimidating.”

Bakugou’s eyes flashed dangerously. “You don’t think I wouldn’t be intimidating if we were dating?”

Kirishima let out a little sound; almost like a… yelp? He clapped a hand over his mouth and felt his neck redden with embarrassment. If we were dating?

Bakugou snarled and turned away, his cheeks getting red again. “You know what I meant, dipshit. Just because I would be in a relationship doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be any less… me.” He snagged at the paper towels, leaving some ripped up ones behind for the next person, and started aggressively rubbing his hands dry. “It’s stupid anyway. I’m not going to date anybody. There’s no place for that when you’re trying to be the best pro hero.”

Kirishima tried not to let his shoulders drop at that. He had always known Bakugou was incredibly serious about his training, but he assumed that his friend would start dating at some point in their school career. He had even imagined, a few times, alone in his bedroom, that maybe he would be the one to get to date him. But… Bakugou was so resistant. “I understand.” Kirishima pushed out. But he didn’t.

Bakugou sighed heavily. “No, you fucking don’t dumbass.”

Kirishima’s heart thudded in his chest. He knew him so well.

Bakugou reached down and grabbed for his backpack, shouldering it, before he started to head towards the door. He stopped just before he walked out. Kirishima could almost see the gears turning in his head. “Are you coming or not?” He finally snapped. He was waiting. For him. Again.

Kirishima’s heart fluttered a little but he tried to squash it down before he nodded. “Sure.” He said, before he hurried after the blonde. He didn’t know if their encounter in the bathroom had been a good one or not, or if he had even made Bakugou feel slightly better by being there, but he guessed he understood why Bakugou was so amped up over this now.

To Bakugou, this wasn’t just some silly secret admirer or the beginnings of an incredibly romantic high school story like Ashido and the others thought it was. To Bakugou, this was a threat. That’s why he didn’t want to know who sent him the tea or why they had sent it to him. It was a very real danger to his dream career of becoming the number one pro hero. With each innocent looking green tea bottle left on his desk, it was just another risk of emotions and hormonal teenage feelings that probably threaten his mind on a daily basis.

Kirishima looked at Bakugou out of the corner of his eye as they meandered slowly back to homeroom. His eyes trailed over the boy’s tense jaw and soft cheeks before landing on his determined expression. Kirishima wondered how many normal, teenage boy feelings and thoughts Bakugou pushed away on a daily basis in an attempt to remain completely focused and unfazed. Did he ever even think about being in a relationship? Being in love? It seemed less and less likely as the days went by.

Kirishima thought about that stuff all the time. Probably too much. That’s probably why he was near the bottom of their classes’ grade roster, and why Bakugou has to spend so much of his free time tutoring him. But he just couldn’t help it! When he thought about his friends, he got all gooey inside and he couldn’t help but imagine them all hanging out and having fun together and being close. And when he thought about Bakugou? His cheeks tinted a little as he turned his gaze down to the floor and watched the tips of shoes. When he thought about Bakugou, he got so incredibly warm. It was a different feeling from when he thought about his friends. It wasn’t gooey and wiggly and loud; it was warm and heavy and… sensitive. It was a completely different feeling; one he had stayed up late many nights analyzing.

Did Bakugou really never feel any of that ever, for anyone?

They reached the door to their homeroom and Bakugou kept his head down as he walked swiftly to his desk. He snagged up the new green tea bottle, ripped open his bag, and stuffed it deep inside before he planted himself in his seat and continued to stare at the top of his desk. Kirishima eyed his friends pleadingly, but he didn’t need to. Nobody dared to say anything about the new bottle of love.

The atmosphere had changed. Uraraka looked concerned and Ashido looked a little guilty as they eyed Bakugou from the other side of the room. It didn’t seem like such a silly secret admirer now – not when it was clear that Bakugou wasn’t just embarrassed by this whole thing. He was distraught by it.

“Your test is starting soon.” Aizawa’s voice was right behind Kirishima and it made him jump worse than he ever had before. “Please take your seats.” He closed the door behind him with an ominous ‘click’.

Kaminari groaned from the back of the class and put his head down on his desk. Kirishima felt the same way as he hurried to his seat and pulled out a pencil.

“This test should take no more than two hours – “

Another collective round of groans echoed through the room.

Aizawa rolled his eyes. “But, you’ll be pleased to know that afterwards your evening will be wide open.”

Kirishima’s spirits lifted a little at that. No afternoon classes? He could practically feel his friends gazing around at each other in excitement – already wanting to plan what they were going to do for the rest of the day.

“However, I highly recommend that you use this newfound free time to book some time down at the gym. Maybe do a few hero drills or sparring. Iida,” he gestured to the class rep with the stack of papers in his hands and Iida leaped to his feet to grab them and hand them out. “Or don’t. I can’t make you do anything, really.” Aizawa shrugged before disappearing behind his desk, most likely burying himself away into his sleeping bag. “Don’t wake me. Unless you have to. But even then. Try not to.” His voice came out muffled.

Kirishima looked down at the exam in front of him and he felt his throat close up a little. Some of the material looked familiar, which was refreshing. His tutoring sessions with Bakugou must really be paying off. But there were still some questions that he knew just by looking at them that he wasn’t going to be able to figure them out. What a crappy way to start off a Friday.

Halfway through the second page, Kirishima’s brain felt like it was about to crap out. He rubbed a hand roughly over his face and tried not to panic when Iida and Momo got up at nearly the same time and handed in their exams at the front of the room. They packed up their bags and started to leave. A few minutes later, Todoroki followed them. And after that, Midoriya got up and so did Sero (who was breathing a heavy sigh of relief just to be done with it).

Kirishima read the same question over and over again, but none of the answers even made sense to him. Why was test taking so difficult for him? He sighed in frustration and sunk deeper into his seat. He felt a hand press into his shoulder. Ashido was picking up her test and had her bag slung over her shoulder. She squeezed his shoulder sympathetically as she passed him to go turn it in. She knew, probably better than anyone, how bad Kirishima’s test anxiety was.

Well, her and maybe Bakugou.

Speaking of Bakugou – Kirishima glanced over at the blonde with a questioning look. Usually Bakugou was one of the first people to finish their tests and turn it in. So he was surprised to see that not only was Bakugou not done with his test yet, but that he hadn’t even started it! The packet sat on his desk, completely untouched, and his red eyes stared hard at the top of his desk while he gnawed on his bottom lip.

Kirishima tried not to focus on the way his teeth tugged and nibbled on his bottom lip, making it red and wet. He shook his head curtly. He knew he had to knock Bakugou out of whatever deep trance he had fallen into, otherwise the blonde wouldn’t ever finish his test. Which would be a first, and Bakugou would definitely not be happy about it.

He tried to clear his throat, as though he were about to cough but was holding it back. He glanced over at Bakugou. Nothing. He hadn’t even stirred. Kirishima looked back down at his test and coughed loudly before sniffling. Again, he chanced a glance at the blonde and again, Bakugou was unfazed by the sounds coming from a few rows of desks over. This wasn’t good. What was he supposed to do?

Jirou and Tokoyami got up and turned in their exams at the same time.

Kirishima turned around to Kaminari as Aoyama, Shoji, Mineta, and Hagakure got up respectively and turned in their exams before practically beelining it for the door. “Can I borrow another pencil?” Kirishima whispered as quietly as he could. Aizawa had a strict no-talking policy when they were taking tests.

Kaminari nodded absent-mindedly and tapped his pencil case, looking frustrated before he erased one of his answers and circled a new one. Kirishima wanted to tell him it was the wrong one – he knew because it was one of the only answers he was confident about, because Bakugou had basically (and physically) drilled it into his head. Would it be wrong of him to help? He reached out and unzipped the pencil case before grabbing the smallest, most useless pencil he could find. He hit Kaminari’s wrist with it and the blonde looked up in annoyance. Kirishima’s eyes shot back down to the test before he shook his head.

Kaminari got the hint pretty quickly. With a frustrated sigh, he erased the answer again. This time when his pencil hovered over the next option, his eyes shot up questioningly to Kirishima, who nodded before turning back around in his seat. It wasn’t cheating, he tried to tell himself, even though it so obviously was. Kaminari needed just as much help as he did when it came to taking tests. Something about the stress of it all really fried Kaminari’s brain, and Kirishima could relate to that, though his brain being fried had nothing to do with his quirk.

Armed with a pencil, Kirishima looked up at the clock by the door. They only had 45 minutes left to finish, but he was confident that if he could get Bakugou’s attention, the blonde would be able to finish in time. He steadied the pencil and eyed Bakugou, hoping beyond hope that Bakugou didn’t kill him for this.

Kaminari seemed to have noticed what Kirishima was about to do. “Kiri, don’t – “

It was too late. The pencil flung from his hand and soared through the air before bonking off of Bakugou’s head. It startled him out of his trance, enough that his hands popped and crackled and set off an explosion right at his desk.

Aizawa was up in a heartbeat, his sleeping bag wrapped comfortably around himself as he glared at the few remaining students in the class. “What is going on?” His eyes landed on Bakugou, who looked just as stunned as he did, and Aizawa looked surprised to see that Bakugou was one of the last remaining students left in the room. “Bakugou, is there a problem?”

Bakugou’s face turned bright red. Kirishima shoved his head into the crook of his elbow to block out the world, knowing his face was probably just as bad, maybe even worse. “Wha-?” Bakugou managed to sputter out.

“Have you even started taking your test yet?” Aizawa glowered down at the untouched packet of papers sitting on the corner of Bakugou’s desk.

Bakugou’s red eyes bounced from Aizawa, to the exam, back up to Aizawa, before coming around to settle on Kirishima. “Wha-?” He said again. How lost in his thoughts had he been?

Aizawa glared and slipped out of his sleeping bag. “I’m going to have to take them from you.”

Kirishima’s head snapped to attention. Oh no, please, don’t take his test away.

“From all of you.” Aizawa clarified.

Kaminari sputtered unintelligibly behind Kirishima. “B-but I didn’t even do anything!”

“Oh, so Kirishima didn’t tell you what answer 12 was then?” Aizawa looked at him with a deadpanned expression and Kaminari’s face twisted up at being caught in a lie.

Kirishima grimaced. How did Aizawa always know what they were doing even when he was asleep? It’s like he had hidden cameras all over the place.

Aizawa reached out to take Bakugou’s test, but the blonde was quicker and grabbed one end just as Aizawa grabbed the other. “Bakugou, let go.” Aizawa said. Bakugou’s fingers tightened on the paper. “Bakugou.” Aizawa’s voice was a warning.

Kirishima watched the scene in horror. He couldn’t believe he had gotten them into so much trouble. He was just trying to help!

Bakugou snarled and for a minute it looked like he was just going to burn the whole test up before he finally released his hold on it and Aizawa snatched it away from him.

“You’ll be able to make up for this with some extra credit later.” Aizawa stated as he moved to Kirishima and Kaminari’s desks and snatched up their unfinished exams.

Bakugou was already on his feet. His face was angry, but for the first time in the past few days it wasn’t red. Though Kirishima didn’t really find that very comforting. He didn’t even have time to pick up his things before Bakugou had already disappeared out the door.

He sighed heavily and waited for Kaminari to finish putting his pencil case away before they both left the classroom in stunned silence. Kirishima’s stomach was doing nervous flips and he could feel the prickly sensation of tears building up in his eyes. He tried not to let them fall – how unmanly of him! “I’m sorry Kaminari!” He blurted out. “I’m so stupid! I was just trying to help! Please forgive me!”

Kaminari let out a loud laugh that startled Kirishima enough to make him forget about the fact that he was almost about to cry. Kaminari slapped a hand onto Kirishima’s shoulder and squeezed tightly. “Don’t worry about it man. I probably wasn’t going to finish in time anyway. Honestly, I’ll probably get some better scores from doing the extra credit assignments than I would have on the exam, so really this all kind of works out for me.” He smiled encouragingly at his friend.

Kirishima tried to find any hint of a lie, to see if Kaminari was just trying to make him feel better, but there wasn’t any. Kaminari was actually relieved not to have to finish that test. Kirishima let out a breath of relief himself, though his stomach was still tight with nerves. “Still, I’m so sorry.”

Kaminari snorted and rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “I’m not the one you should be worried about.” He said, and his eyes moved further up the hallway and stopped on a particularly angry-looking blonde. Kirishima followed his gaze and winced when he saw Bakugou standing there, glaring them down. “I’m going to let you deal with this one on your own,” Kaminari said teasingly. “As payback! Bye!” He quickly rushed away and left Kirishima to his fate.

Bakugou pushed himself away from the wall that he had been leaning on and stomped over to where Kirishima stood, frozen to the spot. Kirishima knew he should say something, he had to apologize. “Bakugou – “

“This!” Bakugou interrupted him. “This is why I don’t want to fucking deal with relationships!”

Kirishima blinked at him in surprise. Bakugou wasn’t even mad at him. He was mad at the green tea bottle. Maybe even mad at himself, but not at Kirishima.

“I’ve never not finished a test before in my entire fucking life! And today, I couldn’t even get out of my own damn head long enough to write down my fucking name!” Bakugou’s hands were crackling and Kirishima hardened his skin just a little in preparation, just in case the boy decided to let loose. “How does anyone get anything fucking done with distractions like this?”

Kirishima wanted to say something, he wanted to make Bakugou feel better, but he knew his advice probably wasn’t the best to follow. He was the one so worried about helping everyone else around him that he had sabotaged his own grade for it. His stomach tightened at the angry look on Bakugou’s face as he waited expectantly for Kirishima to say something. But Kirishima didn’t know what he was meant to say. He wanted to tell Bakugou that sometimes pulling back from hero training and homework to socialize with friends could affect his grades negatively, but that it had such a positive influence over his mental health, and made him feel better about himself. Bakugou went a hundred miles a minute, all day every day, giving 110% effort into everything he did. He must be so exhausted at the end of each day – that’s probably why he always went to bed so early. But he was also super tense and always seemed to be on the brink of an explosion every single day, and if maybe Bakugou allowed himself the courtesy to relax and let his guard down around friends or even… someone special… maybe he wouldn’t feel so on edge all of the time.

Kirishima wanted to say all of this and more, but his mouth struggled to formulate any kind of sentence and he just stared, open-mouthed, like the idiot that he was.

“Tch,” Bakugou snorted and rolled his eyes. His hands still crackled mercilessly by his side, but the sound was muted as Bakugou had curled his hands into tight fists in an attempt to control them. “I can’t do relationships. I just can’t.” And with that, he turned on his heels, shoved his fists deep down into his pockets, and stalked away towards the gym, probably to reserve some time to train.

Kirishima watched him go – wishing he knew what to say and feeling horrible that he didn’t.

 

 

Ashido found him sulking in the common area of the dorm building an hour later. Kirishima didn’t know how she could always sense when he was upset, but she appeared next to him as if out of thin air, ready to save him from himself yet again. He loved her so much.

“What’s wrong Kiri?” Ashido slid into the spot on the couch next to him and threw her long, pink legs into his lap. “Your face is so sad – it’s gross.” She poked one of her socked toes into his cheek. “Be happyyyy.”

Kirishima moved his face away so her foot fell back into his lap before he grasped at her shins with both hands. The prickly sensation behind his eyes was starting to build up again. “I made Bakugou fail his test today.” He said quietly.

Ashido’s head tilted curiously. “Huh? How could you make him fail his test?”

Kirishima squeezed his eyes shut to prevent his tears from slipping out and he hunched over Ashido’s shins. The pressure in his chest was so tight as he imagined the angry look on Bakugou’s face, burned into the back of his eyelids. “He was zoinked out, he hadn’t even started the test yet! We had less than an hour left. I didn’t want him to fail so… so I threw a pencil at him to try and get his attention.”

Ashido sighed. “Oh Kiri…” She clearly already knew where this was going.

“I know! I’m so stupid! I should have known he would have exploded or something! I’m his best friend! I’m supposed to know how he’ll react in any given situation! And Aizawa-sensei was so angry. He took Bakugou’s test right out of his hand!” Kirishima face-planted his forehead into Ashido’s shins, despite how uncomfortable it was for him to fold in on himself like that, so she wouldn’t see the tears as they started to fall down his cheeks.

“Kiri!” Ashido lunged forward and collapsed into him in a tight hug. The position wasn’t comfortable for either of them, but neither of them moved. Ashido buried her face into Kirishima’s red neck. “You put so much pressure on yourself to be a good friend.” She sighed sadly. “But you’re not a good friend, you’re an amazing friend! You’re sweet and loyal and kind and selfless, you’re like a giant golden retriever – nothing but good intentions and overwhelming love! I really highly doubt Bakugou is mad at you, he’s probably just angry at himself and took it out on you, if anything!”

Kirishima sniffled loudly and lifted his head a fraction of an inch to peak out at her. “R-really? Y-you think s-so?”

Ashido smiled and ran her fingers across his exposed cheek to wipe away the stray tears. “Yeah, I really do. Bakugou is…” She faltered a little, trying to think of a good way to describe the destructive blonde. “He’s… well you know how he is! He has to be the best. And if he isn’t, he gets so damn angry!”

Kirishima sniffled again and lifted himself up a bit more, running his sleeve under his nose. “H-he was really upset about the green tea thing before we started taking the test…” He said thoughtfully.

Ashido’s head tilted curiously again. “You mean his secret admirer? Is that why he’s been so bent out of shape?” Clearly she, just like Kirishima, had not fully understood the extent at which this situation was bothering Bakugou.

Kirishima nodded solemnly, already feeling a bit better after having let out a few tears, but still feeling uncomfortable. “He said he couldn’t stand knowing someone wanted to be with him, or something along those lines. He was yelling a lot about how a relationship could only hinder his chances at becoming the best pro hero.” Kirishima tried not to show how painful that sentence was for him to say, or how disappointed he felt in knowing that was how Bakugou felt.

“Pfft,” Ashido rolled her black eyes up to the ceiling dramatically. “That boy needs a fucking hug or something, he’s so angsty.”

Kirishima let out a little chuckle. She was right. Bakugou was so angsty. All the time. But that’s what Kirishima liked about him. How serious he was. How much effort he put into literally everything he did, even brushing his teeth or chopping up food was an Olympic sport. It was 1000% or nothing with Bakugou. His ambitions and motivation was so encouraging and inspiring, it was the only thing that kept Kirishima going during their study sessions – otherwise he would’ve stopped trying long ago.

Well… that, and the way Bakugou’s face looked when he was reading his books while Kirishima struggled with homework next to him. He always spared a few glances over at the blonde, examining the slope of his nose and the way his cheeks looked when he was utterly and completely relaxed. They were rare glimpses, but Kirishima treasured them. Okay, maybe he would have let Bakugou tutor him even if his ambitions and motivation didn’t drive Kirishima to want to do better. He would have been content just being able to look at him all day.

“Hello? Kiri? Did you hear me?” Ashido waved a hand in front of his face.

Kirishima jumped and immediately felt a blush dust over his cheeks. “Huh? Sorry, I spaced out for a minute.”

Ashido smiled at him. “Clearly! Geez! I was saying that we should work together to try and figure out who Bakugou’s secret admirer is!”

Kirishima blinked at her and his stomach turned nervously. “Why?” He couldn’t help but ask. “Bakugou doesn’t want to know, he’s made it pretty clear that he just wants to ignore the situation.”

Ashido snorted at that. “Yeah, and when has ignoring stuff ever helped Bakugou with anything? He’s a ticking time bomb, literally! He’ll wait until the last minute and then explode with all of his pent up emotions!”

Kirishima wasn’t so sure. A part of him was worried that Bakugou would be furious with them if, somehow, they were able to track down who was leaving him green teas. But… another part of him… a bigger part of him… was worried that if they did find out who it was, Kirishima wouldn’t be able to handle it. Looking someone else in their face and knowing that deep down inside of them, they also had an uncontrollable urge to talk to Bakugou, to know him, to touch him and be a part of his life. And what if Bakugou found out who it was and… wasn’t… as upset as he thought he’d be? What if – Kirishima shook his head roughly. No, he didn’t want to think about that.

“Come on, just think about it.” Ashido said, as if she was reading his freaking mind again. He looked at her in shock. “If we figure out who Bakugou’s secret admirer is, he’ll be forced to deal with it and then we can all move on from it!”

That was something he hadn’t considered. What if they did find the secret admirer, told Bakugou, and Bakugou told them to fuck off? What if things could go back to normal? Kirishima wouldn’t have to fight so hard to keep his emotions even more in check than he already did. He could go back to sparring with Bakugou and enjoying the rush of adrenaline he got when the blonde came soaring at him with an ear-to-ear shit-eating grin of victory and fiery hands. He could go back to casually slinging his arm around the blonde’s shoulder as they walked to the corner store to get snacks late on a Saturday afternoon. He could even go back to hanging out in Bakugou’s room – stealing glances at him out of the corner of his eyes and watching him nibble absent-mindedly on a callous on his finger.

He nodded, filled with newfound determination. “Alright, let’s do it.”

Ashido looked thrilled. Her eyes opened wide and a huge smile split across her face. “Really? Oh yay!” Her arms collapsed around him again in a spine-breaking hug. “Detective Mina and Detective Kiri are on the case!”

Kirishima couldn’t help but laugh at his friend’s excitement, and his body felt a little less tense. Not all the way relaxed, but enough where his shoulders didn’t burn from being all hunched up anymore. “How do we even start?” Kirishima asked curiously.

“Leave the first bit to me,” Ashido said confidently. It seemed like she had already been thinking about this before she brought it up to him. “I have a few people I want to ask first, just to get a general idea of who we’re working with here. Once I find a few potential suspects, we’ll start investigating! Eeee!” She squealed excitedly and rustled her feet together in Kirishima’s lap. “This will be so fun Kiri!”

Kirishima tried to laugh too, but the bundle of nerves in his stomach was already coming back full force.

 

 

Bakugou wasn’t in the cafeteria at dinner that night.

Kirishima probably should’ve guessed that he wouldn’t be, but still, he glanced at the empty seat to his right, where Bakugou always sat, and felt a little empty inside. He wondered where the blonde was. Probably back at the dorms, cooking his own dinner to eat alone in his room. Didn’t he ever get lonely? Kirishima tried to think about what it would be like to live like Bakugou. To eat meals mostly by himself and to hang out in his room instead of downstairs where most of the class met every single night to hang out. Didn’t he feel… left out? Kirishima would feel incredibly left out.

But no, Bakugou liked being alone. He told anyone that would listen to him how much he liked being alone and hated being around them. But he let Kirishima hang out with him whenever he wanted. And it wasn’t like Kirishima was the one always asking to hang out. There were times, rare times sure but times none the less, when Bakugou would text Kirishima to come spar with him, or he would knock loudly on his door and demand Kirishima go to the store with him to buy groceries, and other things like that. If Bakugou really wanted to be alone all the time, he wouldn’t have wanted to hang out those times, right?

Even if it did always come with excuses, like the fact that nobody else in 1-A could withstand Bakugou’s explosions like Kirishima could, or that he needed Kirishima’s strength to help carry bags so he wouldn’t be stuck carrying them by himself, but they always seemed to be half-hearted and Bakugou never looked him in the eyes when he said them. Was Kirishima thinking too much about it? He wanted to believe that he wasn’t, but after hearing Bakugou go off about how tarnishing close relationships were to his chances of success, Kirishima couldn’t help but feel a little put out.

“Are you going to chill with us later?” Sero asked, turning his attention onto Kirishima, who shook himself out of his thoughts just in time.

“I don’t know, I might just take a bath and go to bed.” Kirishima said, trying not to sound as deflated as he felt.

“Laaame,” Kaminari said, but he smiled at Kirishima so he’d know that he was just joking around. Kaminari had been extra sensitive to Kirishima’s feelings that day, after nearly seeing him break down in the middle of the hallway earlier.

Kirishima smiled back, but it felt forced.

He followed the others back to the dorm building and split off from them in the front foyer to go to his room to change for the baths. He hadn’t even thought about whether or not he was going to knock on Bakugou’s door until he was already standing in front of it. He could see Bakugou’s light on and hear a quiet muffling coming from inside, as though Bakugou was talking lowly to somebody. Probably on the phone. Maybe with his parents. Kirishima turned away from the door and went into his room.

He changed into a pair of shorts and grabbed his towel before he walked back over to the elevator with his phone clutched tightly in his hands. He wanted to leave Bakugou alone, to give him some space, he really really did, but he hated not talking to him. His body physically craved the blonde boy’s attention – like nicotine but worse, he was having withdrawals.

As he rode the elevator back down to the bottom floor, he opened his phone and pulled up his chat history with Bakugou. They didn’t particularly have any long conversations. Mostly it was Kirishima texting Bakugou to ask where he was or what he was doing or why he didn’t come to lunch or dinner that day, followed by Bakugou’s short, curt answers. There are a few messages, from over the summer before training camp, where their conversations had been a bit longer. Kirishima could remember sitting in his room, dying from the heat with a fan blowing directly on his bare skin, and texting Bakugou about training camp or movies or whatever else they talked about. Bakugou had actually responded with longer answers, probably bored out of his mind without any classes or training to distract him, and Kirishima had clung to those few summer days when he’d felt like Bakugou actually wanted to talk to him. Maybe even missed him?

He typed slowly in the chat bar.

Do you have any plans this weekend?

He knew the answer would probably be no, and that he didn’t want to have any plans, but he wanted to hang out with him so bad. It was pathetic, really, how much Kirishima missed the boy who slept in the room right next door to him and attended basically all of his classes and pretty much just saw him every single day. But Kirishima’s pride was small and his love was never-ending, so he hit send before pocketing his phone and stepping out of the elevator.

Ashido, Sero, Kaminari, Tokoyami, and Iida were sprawled out on the couches in the living room (save for Iida, who was at the kitchen counter doing homework with his headphones in). Kirishima walked by them with a little wave before he shouldered open the door to the bathroom and walked inside.

It took him a minute to realize that he wasn’t the only one in the bathroom.

The bath was filled and steaming and Kirishima just barely heard the door close behind him when his eyes landed on the humiliated faces of Midoriya and Todoroki. At first, Kirishima couldn’t understand what was wrong with the picture in front of him. Midoriya’s face was so red, he looked like an actual tomato under his mop of green hair, while Todoroki looked like he may be suffering from constipation but was trying to keep his face indifferent about it.

And they were close.

Really close.

So close.

Together.

Kirishima blinked again at the scene in front of him, as though if he blinked enough times, he’d be able to figure out why it looked so funny to him.

And then it dawned on him. Or more like slapped him across the face. They were so. close. Their cheeks were practically touching, and they stared at him with wide, unblinking eyes.

“Oh.” Kirishima breathed out. “Oh! OH! SORRY! I’m so sorry! I… I should have… knocked? I’m sorry!” he tried to backpedal out the door, but it wasn’t a swinging door that could be opened both ways and his back slammed against it, effectively keeping him trapped inside.

“It’s – it’s not – “ Todoroki was stammering over his words, which wasn’t something he did very often. Or at all really. The tips of his ears were turning pink, another very uncharacteristic thing of him to do. Midoriya had scooted away and was now sinking lower and lower into the water until only his eyes were left.

“Sorry! Really! So sorry!” Kirishima couldn’t even form proper sentences as he reached blindly behind him for the doorknob. “It’s no problem! No big deal! Haha!” He didn’t even know what he was saying anymore. Todoroki looked like he was in pain and Kirishima knew he wasn’t sounding very convincing, but he was in such shock. Was his nose bleeding? It felt like maybe his nose was bleeding. Was he having a heart attack?

He finally latched onto the doorknob and pulled the door forward, stepping closer before turning and beelining it out of the bathroom. He tried to keep his breathing natural as he ran past his friends for the elevator. He pressed the button over and over and over, unable to think. He was in flight mode. He was so embarrassed. He couldn’t believe he had just walked in on that, and then he probably made them feel so much worse because he was so awkward. Aaaagh, where was the elevator?

It finally dinged and the doors opened and Kirishima ran inside before he pressed the button and waited impatiently for the elevator to take him back up to the fourth floor. He took a few deep breaths, willing his heart to slow down. He didn’t dare close his eyes. Every time he did, he just pictured Midoriya and Todoroki’s flushed faces, millimeters apart from each other. Which was fine! It was just so SHOCKING! He felt like such an asshole. He had interrupted such an intimate moment and the only thing he could do was sputter like an idiot and run away.

He winced and ran a hand through his hair. He’d have to apologize to them later.

The elevator dinged and the door opened and Kirishima mindlessly started for his room. He was so lost in his own thoughts that he almost didn’t notice when Bakugou’s door opened. But it wasn’t Bakugou that stepped out.

Kirishima’s feet came to a standstill when he saw Uraraka come out of Bakugou’s room and close the door behind her. She was startled for a moment to see him standing there, but once she realized who it was, a smile came onto her face. She didn’t seem embarrassed at all as she said, “Hey Kiri, are you okay? You’re so pale!”

Kirishima blinked. What the hell was happening around here?! His eyes darted to Bakugou’s closed door before he looked back at Uraraka. Her face was now marred with concern and he swallowed hard, trying not to show how shaken up he was, though he was sure that it was pretty obvious. “Y-yeah! Totally fine.” He wanted to ask. He wanted to ask so badly. Why were you in Bakugou’s room? But he couldn’t.

Uraraka still looked concerned, but she didn’t press him. “Okay… well, if you need anything, you can always come find me.” Her small, soft hand reached out and touched his elbow lovingly and he almost crumpled right there at her feet. Her smile was so soft, and her eyes were filled with worry. “You have so many friends that care about you, Kiri, use us sometimes, okay?”

Guilty. He felt guilty for being so upset. Uraraka was such a sweet girl. He forced his feelings of uncertainty and hurt down and tried for a smile. Uraraka deserved that. She was so kind. “Okay, I will. Thanks.”

With a little wave, Uraraka turned and hurried to catch the elevator before the doors closed. She just barely made it.

After she was gone, the thick blanket of insecurity and uncertainty came flooding back. He almost forgot all about Midoriya and Todoroki as he turned his eyes back to Bakugou’s closed door. This time, he didn’t want to knock. He didn’t want to call out. What if… what if he did and Bakugou told him to go away? Uraraka had just been in his room, for who knows how long, doing who knows what. Kirishima wouldn’t be able to handle it knowing Bakugou wanted her around and not him. The rejection would be too painful.

He turned and continued on to his room. It was the hardest thing he’d ever had to do, but he did it. He opened his door and tossed his towel haphazardly onto the ground before he fell down into the beanbag chair by his desk. His phone vibrated in his pocket and he had half a mind to ignore it. But his brain was already filling up with too many unwanted thoughts, so he dug around in his pocket until he was able to pull it out and look at the screen. His heart dropped down into the pit of his stomach when he saw that it was a text from Bakugou.

Nothing, probably. You want to hang, don’t you?

Kirishima almost responded right away. Almost. But he didn’t.

He knew he didn’t really have any right to be as upset as he was. Him and Bakugou were just bros. Just pals. Best pals. Two dudes, chilling at school, separated in their own rooms cause they’re not gay. Kirishima sighed and let his phone fall to the floor next to him as he threw his head back. The point was that they weren’t dating, and Bakugou was free to hang out with whoever he pleased. Hell, even if they were dating, Bakugou could do whatever the fuck he wanted. He was Bakugou. Strong and explosive and resilient, he didn’t need anybody to tell him what he could or couldn’t do. It was so fucking manly.

And yet… seeing Uraraka come out of his room, after he’d practically ignored or avoided Kirishima all day, really hurt. Like… he’d been replaced.

The tears were falling and this time Kirishima didn’t try to hold them back. He needed this. He needed a moment of emotional release. He let the tears flow as heavily and as disgustingly as he wanted, though he tried to keep his sobs to a minimum to prevent anyone from hearing him. After a few minutes, and several deep breaths later, he gathered himself back together. And he felt better. Tired, yeah, and still upset, but so much better.

He sniffled and wiped at his eyes with the back of his bare forearm before he picked up his phone again. Bakugou’s text went unanswered as he pulled up his chat with Ashido.

Hi.

Her response came almost immediately.

Baby! What’s up?

I need to talk to you. You won’t believe all the things I’ve just seen. My head is spinning.

*Shocked emoticons* OMG! OMW!

Kirishima sighed and forced himself to get up and put a shirt on. He had just started to clean up some old snack wrappers and bottles when he heard Ashido knock urgently on his door. He winced and instinctively looked at the wall connecting his room to Bakugou’s. Now Bakugou knew he was in here, and that he’d ignored his text. He sighed. He’d deal with that later.

“Come in!” He called.

The door opened and Ashido bounded inside. She was wearing a pair of pajama shorts and a tank top and in her arms she carried a bag of chips, two sodas, a few chocolate bars, some gummies, and a couple of magazines. She looked like she was ready to spend the night, and honestly, Kirishima would appreciate the company.

She confidently dumped all of her goodies onto his bed before she turned to him. “Spill!” She said excitedly.

Kirishima looked back at the shared wall again. He knew that if things got too loud, Bakugou would be able to hear them, but the walls weren’t exactly thin. Still, he didn’t feel comfortable talking about everything, knowing Bakugou could be right next door listening to their every word. “Hold on,” he said, before he walked over to the door that opened up to his balcony. He unlocked it and cracked it open before he peaked his head out and glanced over at Bakugou’s balcony. It was dark and his door was closed with all of his curtains drawn shut. Kirishima beckoned for her to follow him outside.

Ashido looked like she was buzzing with excitement as she grabbed the sodas, chips, and a packet of gummies and followed him outside. Thankfully, it was still relatively warm out, but Kirishima pulled his blanket off his bed anyway and carried it outside so they could share it.

They pushed the two chairs together and folded themselves in, Kirishima extending his long legs to hang over into Ashido’s lap, before they covered themselves up with the blanket. Ashido was looking at him expectantly, her little antenna horns wiggling in excitement, but she didn’t push him, and Kirishima was thankful for that. They opened the bag of chips and each had a handful, Kirishima washed it down with a swig of soda, before he finally gave Ashido what she was so clearly dying for.

“I saw Midoriya and Todoroki in the baths.” His cheeks started to tint just a little at the memory. It felt like it had been hours ago, when really it had probably only been like twenty minutes.

“Yeah, we saw them go in,” Ashido said casually, struggling to open the packet of gummies. Kirishima reached out with a hardened fingertip and sliced the top open for her.

“No, Mina,” Kirishima said, employing with his tone. “I mean… I saw them in the baths… together.”

Ashido’s hand stopped halfway to her mouth before her eyes bulged at him. “What?” Her mouth turned into a huge open smile and Kirishima shushed her to no avail. “Wait like… wait wait like they were together together?”

Kirishima covered his burning face with his hands. “I’m almost a hundred percent sure. They were sitting so closely together.”

“Oh my GOD!” Ashido giggled and wiggled around in her seat. “That is so cute I could DIE!”

“I thought I would die from the shock of it alone.” Kirishima chuckled and rubbed at the back of his neck. “It was so embarrassing. I’m so stupid.”

Ashido reached under the blanket and pinched his leg. “Stop saying that. You’re not stupid.” She was serious now, though her tone remained light-hearted.

Kirishima blushed again. “Well, you know what I mean. I can’t believe I just walked in on them like that.”

“Wow,” Ashido said in wonderment as she chewed on a handful of gummies. “Midoriya and Todoroki. I can’t believe it but also it’s like, well, duh.” She giggled again. “Wow this is so exciting! Our first real couple in 1-A!”

“You can’t tell them that I told you!” Kirishima said. He poked her shoulder and held out his hand and she dumped some gummies into his palm. “They would be so embarrassed. And maybe even upset! I don’t want to force them to come out if they don’t want to. That’s why I feel so bad that I walked in on them.”

Ashido nodded knowingly. “You’re right.” She said. “That would probably feel so horrible.” She smiled at him. “You’re such a good guy, Kiri.”

Kirishima winced, his good mood faltering just a little as he silently chewed on his gummies. He didn’t feel like such a good guy. What kind of a good guy would be so upset at his best friend having a girl in his room? The hypocrisy! Look at Kirishima now – with Ashido in his room! Ignoring Bakugou’s texts! He groaned out loud and slipped further down into the blankets. The noise startled Ashido, who dropped a few gummies onto the ground.

“Uh-oh, you didn’t just want to gossip about Midoriya and Todoroki, did you?” She quirked an eyebrow at him.

He pulled the blanket up over his shoulders and buried his chin into it so only his eyes were visible as he looked at her. “No…”

“Bakugou?”

Kirishima sighed loudly. “Bakugou.”

“What is going on with you two? You’re normally so inseparable.” She frowned. “I’m honestly getting worried. Did he upset you? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

Did he? Kirishima winced and stuffed his face further into his blanket. No, of course Bakugou didn’t hurt him. Not on purpose, Kirishima was sure. Bakugou probably had no idea how much seeing Uraraka come out of his room had upset him, and Kirishima felt so stupid for being so upset about it. He was jumping to conclusions that he didn’t even have any right to be upset about in the first place.

“Kiri?” Ashido leaned her head down to catch his eyes. “What happened?”

Kirishima groaned. “If I tell you, you can’t tell me how stupid it is because I already know how stupid it is and that’s probably half the reason why I’m so upset, okay?”

Ashido blinked in obvious concern. She mulled over his words for a minute, as though she wasn’t sure if she could keep such a promise, but she nodded. “Okay. I promise. What happened?”

Kirishima sighed and disappeared even further into his blanket. “On my way back from the baths, I… saw Uraraka coming out of Bakugou’s room.”

Ashido’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. Whatever she had been expecting to hear, it obviously hadn’t been this. “Oh.” She said, analyzing what he had just said. “Are you sure?” He glared up at her. She winced and blushed a little. “Right, right, sorry. Obviously you’re sure.” Silence fell over them and Kirishima clenched his hands into tight fists in his lap. Ashido finally broke the silence a few minutes later. “So… you’re upset because Uraraka was in Bakugou’s room?” It was obvious that she didn’t understand the situation and Kirishima squirmed uncomfortably in his seat.

“I don’t know…” He started quietly. “I just… I haven’t seen him all day and…”

“Oooh,” Ashido nodded her head, looking as though she finally understood. “You feel jealous that he was spending time with someone else, right?”

Close enough. “I guess so…” Kirishima grimaced and finally just pulled the entire blanket up over his head. “I know, it’s so stupid. I don’t know why I’m so upset about it! I just am!” He could hear Ashido’s muffled giggling on the other side of the blanket before it was tugged down off his head.

“It’s not stupid, Kiri. You guys hang out all the time, and Bakugou really hardly ever hangs out with anyone besides you. It’s normal for you to feel this way. It’s a change in your routine!”

God, he loved Ashido so much. How was she always so understanding and validating? So calm and at ease? So… caring. His eyes brimmed with tears for all the love he had for her and he pulled her into a tight-squeezed hug. “Thanks for always listening to my stupid problems!” He mumbled into her shoulder.

Ashido giggled again as she pat his back. “They’re not stupid, Kiri. They’re not stupid and you’re not stupid! Stop selling yourself so short. You’re so hard on yourself, I hate to see you talking like this. You deserve to be happy just like everybody else.”

Kirishima sighed and leaned into Ashido’s warmth as her tiny fingers smoothed into his hair. She was so small and warm, perfect for hugs, and for a while they laid there in silence, just hugging while Ashido played with Kirishima’s red locks. Finally, he pulled away from her and sat up, rubbing at his eyes. And then, Ashido said the one thing Kirishima was hoping she wouldn’t bring up, ever.

“Do you think Uraraka is the one who has been giving Bakugou the tea?”

Kirishima winced as though the words had physically slapped him in the face. “I don’t know.” He said quietly, looking down at his lap.

Ashido seemed to get the hint that Kirishima would rather talk about anything else than the blonde next door. “Hey,” she flicked his forehead lovingly. “Want to watch a movie or something? Oh! A rom-com! Pleeease!”

Kirishima smiled at her. She was so nurturing, so forgiving – whoever ended up with her would be the luckiest person in the world. “Sure, whatever you want to watch.”

“Aww, Kiri!” She planted a warm kiss on his cheek.

 

 

Kirishima stared at the screen of his laptop with a blurry expression on his face. They had watched a K-drama and now had an American rom-com playing, but Ashido had fallen asleep in the first twenty minutes and was now passed out, slumped against Kirishima’s chest as he held her tightly to him. The remnants of their candy wrappers and empty soda bottles lay scattered across the bed and on the floor, but Kirishima didn’t dare move for fear of Ashido waking up. She was so warm and cuddly.

His phone buzzed aggressively on his nightstand, lighting up more of the dark room past his laptop screen. He unhooked one of his arms from around Ashido’s waist and picked up his phone. He had a hard time swallowing when he realized it was another text from Bakugou. A double text. Bakugou never did that.

Are you ignoring me or something?

And then –

Whatever.

Kirishima winced before he set the phone back down. He couldn’t deal with that.

Not yet.

Chapter Text

Morning came too soon, and with a harsh amount of sunlight hitting him square in the face.

Kirishima reluctantly opened his eyes against the blinding light filtering in through his window. He almost forgot that Ashido had spent the night until he heard her snoring into his ear and felt the warmth of her body pressed against his and her arm slung lazily across his chest. He was just about to reposition the blankets and roll back over for a few more hours of sleep when somebody banged loudly on his door and caused him to nearly jump right out of his skin. He sat up and rubbed at his eyes before he blurrily checked the time on his phone. It was barely 8 o’clock in the morning – who was waking him up so early on a Saturday?

Another loud bang echoed on his door and Kirishima’s face paled. He knew that curt knock. It was Bakugou’s.

“Open the door, fuckface.” Bakugou’s voice sounded gruff and raspy, like he had just woken up himself.

Ashido grumbled moodily at being disturbed from her heavy slumber and she detached herself from Kirishima to roll over and disappear deeper into his warm bed. Kirishima untangled himself from his sheets and got up, feeling a bit sweaty at the idea of encountering a Bakugou that would ever willingly choose to get up so early on a Saturday morning – the weekends were the only time the blonde ever slept in, and he was usually out cold until noon at least. This couldn’t be good. Kirishima rushed over to the door before Bakugou could get the chance to bang on it again and opened it just enough to peek one eye out at him.

Bakugou’s hair was even crazier than usual – he really must have just gotten up and rolled out of bed. He was dressed in a pair of navy-blue gym pants and his usual black tank top, with his duffle bag slung lazily over his shoulder. His red eyes narrowed at the little sliver of Kirishima’s face that showed through the doorway.

“H-hey man, what’s up?” Kirishima tried to act casual as he stifled a yawn into his hand, but in the back of his mind he could clearly visualize the unanswered text messages from Bakugou that were sitting in his phone on his nightstand. Had he come to argue about them? To demand why Kirishima had ignored him? Did he even care?

Bakugou looked sour, but not explosively angry. Yet. It must still be too early in the morning, even for his temper to fully be awake. He squinted and leaned in close – close enough to make Kirishima uncomfortable and take a step back, but that seemed to be exactly what the blonde had wanted. Taking advantage of the new space, Bakugou pushed the door open a little further and his eyes scanned the room before they landed on the curled-up figure of Ashido in Kirishima’s bed. One of his blonde eyebrows shot up into his hairline.

“So, uh, did you need something or?” Kirishima tried to push down the blush that threatened to overtake him as he rubbed a hand up and down the back of his neck nervously. He really hoped Bakugou wouldn’t start shouting with Ashido right there in the room.

At first, it seemed like Bakugou wasn’t going to answer. Then he turned his red eyes back onto Kirishima and crossed his arms over his chest. “Come sparring with me.” It wasn’t a question or an offer. It was a demand.

Kirishima blinked in surprise. This was not what he had been expecting to hear. “Oh, for real?” He couldn’t help but ask. After last night… he had been certain that Bakugou wasn’t going to talk to him for a few days. Maybe even ever again. But now here he was, up earlier than he ever was on a Saturday, coming to collect Kirishima to go sparring. Kirishima tried to ignore the way his heart thudded in his chest. It was too early for this.

“Tch, why else would I fucking ask?” Bakugou glowered at him, even though he hadn’t really asked at all. He still looked sour.

“O-okay! Just, give me a minute.” He tried to awkwardly close the door in Bakugou’s face, but the blonde held his ground, and Kirishima was forced to leave the door cracked open as he ran around looking for some clean gym clothes to change into. As he stuffed a change of clothes into his own duffle bag and searched around his room for a fresh water bottle, he glanced at Bakugou out of the corner of his eye.

Bakugou was staring at Ashido’s sleeping figure, and Kirishima couldn’t quite make out the expression that was on his pale face. He didn’t look angry, which was a relief in itself. He looked more… contemplative? Kirishima found an unopened bottle of water halfway under his bed and shoved it down into his bag before he hoisted it over his shoulder. He was just about to follow Bakugou out of his room when he stopped short. He should probably say something to Ashido.

He set his bag down by his door and took two large steps back to his bedside before he bent over Ashido’s sleeping figure. With a large hand, he gave her body a gentle shake. “Mina?” She stirred just a little, just enough for Kirishima to know that she was semi-conscious and could probably hear him. “I’m going to go train with Bakugou. You can stay here if you want to, okay?”

Ashido pushed her face further into Kirishima’s pillow and sighed heavily. “Mmmkay Kiribaby,” she mumbled sleepily.

Knowing Ashido wouldn’t freak out when she woke up without Kirishima there, he jogged back over to his door, scooped up his bag, and walked out into the hallway where Bakugou was waiting for him. Always waiting for him. His heart thudded a little faster in his chest that morning as they walked together towards the elevator.

The trek to the gym was quiet. So very quiet. Kirishima tried a few times to get Bakugou to engage in conversation with him, and just like every morning the blonde only replied with a few grunts as he scrolled on his phone with one hand, the other clung to his duffle bag tightly. Kirishima tried to keep his prying eyes to himself.

When they arrived at the gym, Bakugou finally put his phone in his pocket and signed them in. Kirishima followed behind him, uncomfortable with the silence that had fallen over them. He knew that usually it was his responsibility to keep the conversation going, especially this early in the morning, but he didn’t know what he was meant to say. A part of him was still waiting for Bakugou to explode at him for ignoring his texts yesterday, and the other part was confused as to why he hadn’t yet.

They made their way to training room 4, their preferred favorite as it was made almost entirely out of concrete and was easy for the school to repair after they’d demolished everything with their quirks. Just as they were about to enter, another sparring team was leaving. Kirishima couldn’t hold back the large smile that cracked across his face when he recognized Tetsutetsu.

“Hey man,” Tetsu grinned back a razor-sharp smile that could rival Kirishima’s and they bumped their forearms together. “Long time no see bro! How’ve you been?”

“Oh, you know, just trying to get by,” Kirishima rubbed at the back of his neck before his eyes automatically moved to look at Bakugou, who remained quiet during their encounter, his face impassive and expressionless – which was better than him glaring in hatred or disgust, so at least he was trying to be civil. “Uh, you remember Bakugou, right?” Kirishima threw his arm around Bakugou’s shoulders and tried not to notice the way the blonde stiffened under him. It had been a long time since Bakugou had flinched away from his touch. It was almost enough to make Kirishima want to withdraw his arm. Almost.

“Hard to forget, though I’ve been trying to,” Tetsu said with his usual snark before he nodded stiffly at the blonde.

“Tch.” Bakugou rolled his eyes before he detached himself from Kirishima’s grip and shouldered past the gray-haired boy before he disappeared into the training room. Kirishima watched him go, trying not to be too upset. It was early - Bakugou was grumpy almost every morning. Almost every day, really.

“Man, why do you even hang out with that guy? He’s such a… drag.” Tetsu looked like he had wanted to say something else, but had refrained from doing so.

Kirishima felt his shoulders deflate a little, though he tried to keep his smile rigidly set. “He’s not so bad, once you get used to him. He can actually be really funny when he wants to be.” He probably hadn’t needed to say all of that, but what’s done is done and Tetsu didn’t really seem to notice.

“I just don’t get it.” Tetsu shook his head in confusion. Maybe even in awe a little. “Some of the girls can’t stop talking about that little twerp.”

Kirishima felt his heart stop for a minute as he tensed up. Some of the girls? He couldn’t tell if he had started sweating because of what Tetsu had said or because it was already sweltering in the gym, but he was sure it had to do with a little bit of both. “Uh, some of the girls?” He tried to keep his voice impassive and nonchalant, though he thought it came out a bit higher-pitched than usual.

Tetsu looked at him like he had been dying to vent about this specific topic for some time now. “I don’t really know who starts the conversations cause I don’t really pay that much attention, but I always hear his name when the girls are gathered around their desks during break time. Always talking about the sports festival and his drumming or whatever. It’s like they openly choose to ignore what an asshole he is.” Tetsu looked sheepish all of a sudden. “No offense, of course, I’m sure you wouldn’t be friends with him if he was a total asshole, but still.”

Kirishima’s mouth felt dry as he wordlessly nodded in understanding. Ashido had been right. Of course she had. There were girls talking about Bakugou. Lots of girls. Gossiping about him, maybe even giggling into their hands or blushing at the mention of his name. Any one of them could have delivered the green tea. Any one of them could be pining after Bakugou; brave enough to try and get his attention, confident enough that if he found out who they were that he’d want to be with them too. Kirishima didn’t know if he could stand to meet someone with so much self-confidence. They probably had a good reason for it. They were probably smart and tough and funny and beautiful. His hands clenched into fists by his sides. He felt nauseous and light-headed. The room had started to spin at an alarming rate.

“Anyway, I have to go get some breakfast. Training ran a little later than planned and I’m starving.” Tetsu raised his hand up and it took everything in Kirishima’s body to ground himself enough to raise his own sweaty palm and give him a light high-five.

“O-okay, see you later Tetsu,” Kirishima mumbled. Was his voice really that wobbly, or was that all in his head? He swallowed hard as he made his way into training room 4.

Bakugou was already set up in the middle of the room, stretching his arms over his head and leaning into a deep side-lunge. Kirishima tried not to watch him as he dumped his bag off next to Bakugou’s by the wall and started into the middle of the room to join him. But he couldn’t help letting his eyes wander over the boy; there was nothing else but blank walls in the training room to look at. His blonde hair bounced a little as he squatted lower into his side-lunge, his strong hands gripped at his thighs and his mouth parted in concentration as he limbered up. Kirishima thought his heart might leap out of his chest at any moment. Some of the girls can’t stop talking about that little twerp.

“Why do you look so constipated?” Bakugou’s sharp voice brought Kirishima back to reality. “You gotta shit or something?”

Kirishima felt the blush creep up his neck. “No, I – “

“Good,” Bakugou smashed his fist into his open palm and smirked. “Then try to fucking hit me.”

They trained hard. So hard. Harder than Kirishima was used to them training. Bakugou was everywhere all at once – he was getting faster and more agile every day. His fingers grabbed Kirishima’s shirt and tugged him around and the contact burned through. His hands wrapped around Kirishima’s bicep and threw him aside, staggering him, and Kirishima tried so hard to stay focused on the fight and not on the caramel-scented sweat marks being left on his body from Bakugou’s quirk or the way he smiled a full-set of white, sparkly teeth whenever he outmaneuvered one of Kirishima’s attacks.

He was everywhere. Blonde hair bouncing, white teeth shining, pale hands gripping and pulling and tugging and throwing. Kirishima felt dazed. More than once Bakugou caught him off-balance and he slammed into the ground with the boy hanging over top of him. It was so much.

They trained for two long hours before Kirishima finally collapsed onto the ground in exhaustion, and a little in defeat. His entire body was covered in sweat, Bakugou’s and his own, and he had ripped up the shoulder and back of the shirt he had forgotten to remove before their spar had started. He was absolutely spent, but his mind wouldn’t stop racing, replaying every move over and over again in his head. Until Bakugou appeared over top of him and smirked down at him triumphantly. He looked just as tired out as Kirishima did, his muscles shook with every breath he drew in, but he remained on his feet as he wiped the back of his forearm along his forehead and opened the top of his water bottle to take a long swig. Kirishima noted that he didn’t have his usual green tea with him, and he felt kind of bad. Like the green tea had been tarnished for him somehow. Would Bakugou ever dare to drink it again?

For a while they said nothing, both breathing heavily as Kirishima lied on the cool concrete floor and Bakugou stood over top of him, staring off into the distance with a faraway look in his eyes.

“I’m not mad at you, you know.” Bakugou’s rough voice interrupted the silence. Kirishima blinked up at him and Bakugou barred his teeth, like he hated the fact that he even needed to say that. “About the test or whatever. That’s why you’ve been avoiding me, right? Think I’m gonna blow you up or something?”

Kirishima blinked again. Him? Avoiding Bakugou? What?

“But I’m not mad. So you can stop being fucking scared of me or whatever the fuck is going on.” Bakugou’s cheeks were tinged pink, but Kirishima had a feeling it wasn’t because of their fight.

“I’m not scared of you,” Kirishima said instantly, without really thinking about it. But it was true. Sure, Bakugou was a raging ball of fire and explosions and curses and could literally blow up at any moment, but… Kirishima wasn’t afraid of him. He trusted Bakugou not to hurt him. And even if he did explode, Kirishima’s quirk could easily deflect it. There was nothing for him to be afraid of. Except…

Bakugou narrowed his eyes down at him. “Then why the fuck were you ignoring me yesterday?” He sucked his cheek in between his teeth and Kirishima could tell that he was frustrated. Had Bakugou really thought this whole time that Kirishima was the one avoiding him? That just seemed so… silly.

Kirishima forced himself up into a sitting position and pulled his knees into his chest. “I wasn’t ignoring you!” Bakugou glared and Kirishima winced. Okay, maybe he had ignored a few of Bakugou’s text messages last night, but he hadn’t purposely been going out of his way to avoid him! “I just… thought you didn’t want to talk to me right now. I thought maybe you needed some space and that… you were the one avoiding me.” Kirishima muttered under his breath. The blush that had settled into his neck now leaked up into his cheeks and he averted his eyes. Like he didn’t feel like he was allowed to look at him. He felt like such a shitty friend.

“Eh?” Bakugou’s eyebrow curved upward. “Why would I do something stupid like that?”

Kirishima’s heart raced so fast in his chest, he was sure it was going to leap out of his mouth and fall out onto the ground. He chanced a glance up at Bakugou through the fringe of his red hair to see if the boy was lying or joking. But he wasn’t. Bakugou’s face was as serious as ever. Kirishima didn’t know what to say. “So, we’re cool?” He asked hesitantly.

Bakugou snorted and rolled his eyes. “We were never not cool you fucking loser. God, you’re so sensitive.” But even as he said it, he extended his hand down for him to take.

Kirishima couldn’t push down the smile that overtook him even if he wanted to. He grasped Bakugou’s hand tightly and pulled himself back up to his feet.

“Stop smiling like that, you’re making me regret this,” Bakugou said with a scowl.

“Sorry,” Kirishima said, but he didn’t stop smiling. He didn’t think he could. He was so happy to know that they were okay. That Bakugou hadn’t been trying to actively avoid him or ignore him or replace him, and that he hadn’t been holding a grudge over the test. “I’m just happy everything is okay between us!”

Bakugou rolled his eyes again, but there was a hint of something on his face too. A smile, maybe? The corner of his lip turned up for the briefest of moments before it fell back down into his usual scowl. They walked side-by-side to collect their bags, reaching down and grabbing them before they headed for the showers.

Kirishima was feeling good. Really good. He had made up with Bakugou, his body was tired but invigorated from their intense sparring match, and the warm shower had eased his muscles until he felt totally relaxed. He was still grinning like an idiot when he stepped out of the shower and went into the locker room to change. Bakugou was already sitting on one of the benches, dressed in a pair of loose pants, his usual black t-shirt, and a pair of boots. His damp blonde hair still just as crazy. He looked deep in thought as Kirishima padded over to his locker and started to get dressed.

“So,” Bakugou started slowly, as though he weren’t entirely sure how to continue the conversation. “You and the alien then?” The expression on his face looked careful.

Kirishima blushed. “Oh! N-no, Mina and I are just good friends.” He laughed at the very idea of it. He loved Ashido with all his heart and soul, but she was so much and Kirishima was so much, their energy alone probably wouldn’t be able to withstand a relationship. Besides, as cute as he thought Ashido was, he definitely wasn’t attracted to her like that.

Bakugou’s eyebrow quirked up. He didn’t look convinced. “But she spent the night in your room.” He said it like that alone was enough evidence to support his case.

And Uraraka was in your room. Kirishima almost let it slip out, but he bit it back. He swallowed it down so hard that he almost bit his tongue. Things had just gotten back to normal with Bakugou, he didn’t want to risk dampening his own good mood just because he was dying to know more. “Yeah, no, but like… just as friends, though.” He forced out a laugh. “Nothing happened, really.”

“Hm,” was all Bakugou said.

Kirishima finished changing and followed Bakugou out of the gym into the sunshine outside. He was just about to start heading back for the dorms, but when he noticed that Bakugou had stalled outside the gym, he stopped too and looked at the blonde curiously.

“Want to grab food?” Bakugou asked. He didn’t meet Kirishima’s gaze as he jerked his chin towards the cafeteria.

Kirishima’s stomach grumbled so loudly, he surprised himself before he let out a laugh. “I guess I could eat.”

Freshly showered and muscles starting to get sore, they walked to the cafeteria. And even though everything seemed to be okay between them, Kirishima found it difficult to make conversation. He couldn’t help but start to over-analyze everything that had happened in the last few hours. What Tetsu had said back at the gym, how Bakugou had assumed Kirishima had been avoiding him, how Uraraka had slipped so quietly out of his room. How long had she been in there? Kirishima remembered hearing light muttering coming from Bakugou’s door before he had gone down to the baths. What had they been talking about? Bakugou had yet to mention anything to him about the bottle, or anything else really, so whatever they had talked about in private, obviously Kirishima wasn’t privy to know. Which was… fine. Kirishima knew Bakugou didn’t have to tell him everything. Hell, he didn’t have to tell him anything if he didn’t want to. But it was still a heavyweight on Kirishima’s shoulders because he wanted Bakugou to want to tell him. The same way Kirishima wanted to tell him anything and everything.

Kirishima had just inwardly decided that he was going to let it go and enjoy the fact that Bakugou seemed to want to hang out with him when they entered the cafeteria and his mind stuttered again. Ashido and Sero were sitting at their usual table, but where Kaminari usually sat, there was Uraraka instead. What was she doing there? Usually, she sat with Iida, Midoriya, and the others. Was she waiting specifically for Bakugou?

Kirishima tensed and he glanced at the blonde by his side out of the corner of his eye. But if Bakugou had noticed Uraraka at all, he didn’t act like it as he wandered over to the counter to order his food. Kirishima tried to take deep breaths and not worry about it. He really tried. But as he stood in line waiting for his food to get done, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Bakugou, he couldn’t help but keep glancing over at Uraraka.

He felt bad that he found himself wishing that she would get up and leave before they got their food and sat down. That was such a shitty thing for him to think, especially after Uraraka had been so concerned about him last night. He really needed to pull himself together.

After they grabbed their food, they walked over to their usual table and took their usual spots – Kirishima sitting next to Ashido and Bakugou sitting on the end of the bench, ready to slip away at a moment’s notice, on the other side of him. Uraraka didn’t say anything to Bakugou and Bakugou didn’t even look at her before he started digging into his food. Kirishima tried to relax, but it was so hard.

He bumped Ashido’s shoulder with his own and tried to convey with everything inside of him that he had so much to talk to her about. Her eyes widened a little at the look on his face, she received the message pretty clearly, before she nodded in understanding and went back to animatedly talking to Sero and Uraraka.

When they were done eating, Bakugou kept looking at the door, as if he couldn’t wait to escape the confines of social interaction and disappear back to the solitude of his room and, for once, Kirishima felt the same way. He couldn’t stand sitting there anymore, feeling paranoid and overwhelmingly guilty at the same time, so he suggested they leave and Bakugou was on his feet before he could even get the rest of his sentence out. They cleaned up their trays and trekked silently back to the dorms. Kirishima tried to ignore the loud ‘ping’ of a message coming from Bakugou’s pocket or the way the blonde glanced down but didn’t take the phone out to check who it was or what they wanted.

They walked in the front door of the dorm building and Kirishima was about to follow Bakugou to the elevators, even though Bakugou hadn’t expressly asked him to come hang out or anything, but he faltered a little when he saw Midoriya and Todoroki sitting on the couch in the common area. They both jumped to their feet at the same and appeared in front of him so fast, he was sure they’d teleported there, and they looked at him with the same intense, frantic stares.

“Hey Kirishima,” Midoriya said, his face burning red already. “Hey, Kacchan.”

“Tch.” Was Bakugou’s response.

“Can I… can we talk to you? Privately?” Midoriya’s eyes locked with Kirishima’s and he could already guess what it was that they wanted to talk about. Kirishima couldn’t help but be a little relieved, actually. At least they could clear this up quickly and get it over with.

“Hey, of course!” He tried to convey how okay he was – how they really didn’t have to look so nervous and anxious around him. He wanted them to understand how much he could relate to what they were feeling. How much he respected their privacy. How much they could trust him and just relax.

Bakugou looked put out as he glanced between Kirishima, Midoriya, and Todoroki before he snorted loudly with a heavy eye roll and turned to go towards the elevator. Kirishima waited until the blonde had disappeared behind the silver doors before he turned back to Midoriya and Todoroki.

For a while, nobody said anything, and the air was charged with discomfort and tension. Midoriya fiddled with the hem of his shirt and Todoroki couldn’t even look Kirishima in the eyes. It was too much. Kirishima had to say something. To stop this madness before it swallowed them whole.

“It’s okay if you guys are together!” He blurted out, causing Midoriya and Todoroki to jump at the sheer volume and directness of his words. Luckily, it was 3 pm on a beautiful, Saturday afternoon, so the common area was blissfully empty save for them. “I mean… after seeing you guys in the bathroom, I kind of put two-and-two together, even though I was a bit slow about it, I guess.” He tried to laugh but it came out squeaky.

Todoroki was the one to speak first. It made sense. He was a take-charge, no bullshit kind of guy. “We haven’t told anybody.” His eyes were intense, and his crossed arms tightened even closer together across his chest, as though he were using them as a shield to protect himself from whatever Kirishima might say or do next.

“I figured,” Kirishima nodded. He tried to keep his tone casual. Everything was fine. Relax. I understand. I get it. Really. “I won’t go around telling everybody in our class if that’s what you’re worried about. I would never do that to you!” Kirishima is comforted to see Midoriya sigh in relief and Todoroki’s death grip on his biceps loosen. “Plus, I think it’s really great, honestly.” He smiled and it came more naturally than before. He could feel the tension seep from the air.

Todoroki’s cheeks blossomed with color and Midoriya chuckled lightly before he looked down at the ground between them. They were so cute standing next to each other; awkward and fumbling. The longer Kirishima looked at them, the more he wanted to squeeze them. So he did. He reached out and grabbed both of them by the arms before he collided into them in a big group hug. Midoriya sunk into it instantly while Todoroki seemed to stiffen at the sudden contact. “I’m so happy for you guys!” Kirishima couldn’t help but gush.

“Okay… thank you,” Todoroki mumbled awkwardly. His hand came up and he very gently pat Kirishima on the top of the head once, which made Midoriya giggle into Kirishima’s shoulder before they pulled themselves out of Kirishima’s arms.

There is relief in the air and Kirishima felt his heart swell. He wanted to tell them that everything would be okay, but he tried to keep the flood gates on his emotions somewhat closed. Todoroki already looked like he wanted to run away from him.

“Well, we better get going. We were on our way out to go train,” Midoriya chanced a glance at Todoroki, and Kirishima’s heart couldn’t handle the little smile that Todoroki directed at the excitable boy beside him. How had he never noticed it before? They were so cute!

“That’s awesome!” Kirishima said. “Have fun,” and with a wave, he watched them turn and start off for the entrance, their hands bumped into each other as they went. Once they were gone, Kirishima let out a heavy sigh and his shoulders dropped before he turned and called for the elevator.

Seeing Midoriya and Todoroki together made him think about Bakugou, as much as he tried not to. He couldn’t help it. He tried to imagine what it would be like to bump his knuckles against Bakugou’s as they walked to class. What it would be like to sit in the baths together, so close that their cheeks practically touched. He wondered if Bakugou would ever let anyone be that close to him, or if he ever would let anyone ever get that close to him.

The elevator door closed on his thoughts and started lifting him up to the fourth floor. He pulled out his phone to text Ashido.

I talked to Tetsu today at the gym. He said some girls in his class have been talking about Bakugou a lot. A lead?

He hesitated before he pressed send and tried to remind himself that if they found out who Bakugou’s secret admirer was, maybe, just maybe, things could go back to normal. Besides, this was better for Bakugou’s mental health – he was so stressed out. Maybe finding out who it was and telling them to fuck off would be some kind of stress release for him. He deserved it.

His phone buzzed in his hands. A text from Ashido.

I have a plan!!!

The three little dots appeared under her message as she typed and Kirishima could tell that she was about to send him a long paragraph.

The elevator pinged a familiar sound and Kirishima got off on the fourth floor, still lost in his thoughts when Bakugou’s door opened. The blonde stepped out and he shoved his hands into his pockets as he caught Kirishima’s gaze. For a minute they stood there, just staring at each other, before Bakugou averted his gaze and scuffed the ground with his socked foot.

“Want to hang out?” He asked roughly. Like he hated the fact that he had to even ask. Like Kirishima should have just known to come in.

Kirishima’s heart could barely stand all of the attention today. He felt so lucky. “Yeah! Sure!” He knew the smile on his face was stretched a little too big, but he didn’t care. He was just happy that Bakugou wanted to hang out with him – for a whole day it seemed at this point! He dropped his duffle bag off in his room before he walked back over into Bakugou’s. His eyes swept around the room as a whole, even though he’d already been in there plenty of time. Still, each time it felt like the first time.

Bakugou barely had anything going on in his room. There were no posters on his walls or pictures on his nightstand. No mouse pad on his desk or clothes scattered about on his floor. His bed sheets were a deep blue and his laptop sat on his bed, waiting to be used, but that was about it.

So it was easy to spot the green tea bottle that sat, oh-so innocently, on his windowsill. Kirishima felt his feet plant themselves to the floor when his eyes landed on that bottle. That damn bottle. Kaminari had made a remark that he thought Bakugou had thrown the bottle away, but there it stood, out of place, and still unopened. Kirishima could tell it was the same bottle because the label had been picked at and there were some burn marks marring the packaging, probably from when Bakugou had been manhandling it during class.

Kirishima wanted to ask. He was dying to. But the words bubbled up in his throat and stayed there, never making it past his mouth. Why do you still have that? He wanted to ask. What are you keeping it for? Because Bakugou didn’t just keep things. His room wasn’t littered with personal effects or memorable items. He wasn’t a sentimental guy. But then why did he have to keep that unopened green tea bottle on the windowsill by the head of his bed? Why?

Bakugou seemed oblivious to Kirishima’s thoughts as he stepped around the bulky red-head and collapsed down onto his bed. He reached out for his computer and pulled it into his lap, his jaw set but his face calm.

Kirishima wanted to ask so badly, but he just couldn’t bring himself to want to know the answer.

He swallowed his question down his throat and it burned like acid as he placed himself in Bakugou’s desk chair. They didn’t say anything, and normally they didn’t need to. Kirishima always treasured their silent moments together, because it meant that Bakugou was comfortable just existing in his presence. But right then and there, as Kirishima tried to keep his gaze from wandering back to that damn bottle over and over again, he wished more than anything that Bakugou would just say something. Anything.

As if he was reading his mind, Bakugou sniffed loudly and broke the silence. “You seen this video?” His eyes are glued to the screen as he tilted it a little bit for Kirishima to see. It was a hero video, but Kirishima hadn’t ever seen it before.

“No,” he said as he shook his head. “What is it?”

Bakugou turned the laptop back around and hit the play button, but he didn’t turn it back around for Kirishima to watch. So, Kirishima stood up and hesitantly walked over to him, craning his neck down to see. He was painfully aware of how close they were and he tried to keep his breathing natural, but he was startled when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He reached down and took it out. A message from Ashido.

We should sneak out tomorrow night and wait by the homeroom to see if anybody comes to drop off another bottle! I know it’s against the rules and everything, but I really don’t think we’ll get caught. Uraraka told me today that she had gotten to class a few minutes earlier than usual, but that the bottle had already been there again, so whoever it is must be sneaking in really early! We can catch them red-handed, detective Mina and detective Kiri on the case! :)

“What the fuck are you two idiots planning?”

Kirishima jumped at the sound of Bakugou’s voice. He hadn’t even noticed that Bakugou had been peaking at his phone out of the corner of his eye, even as the hero video continued to play on his laptop. Kirishima fumbled over his words and he felt his face flush.

“We… I mean… Mina thought, um…”

Bakugou raised an impatient eyebrow. “Well? Spit it the fuck out hair-for-brains!”

Kirishima winced. “Mina thought it would be a good idea… to try and find out who keeps trying to give you those bottles.” He involuntarily looked to the bottle on Bakugou’s windowsill. “You know, so that you could tell them to leave you alone or something, if you wanted to. Or… or…” He couldn’t push the rest of the sentence out because he didn’t want to imagine the other way that Bakugou could respond to the situation.

Bakugou seemed deep in thought as he chewed on the inside of his cheek. Kirishima waited for him to blow up, to tell him and Mina to mind their own damn business like he was so prone to do, but he didn’t. Instead, he stated very loudly, “I’m going with you.”

Kirishima blinked in surprise. His mouth fell open a little. He had not been expecting Bakugou to want to come along or be involved in any way. If anything, he had thought that Bakugou would try and shut the whole operation down. What did this mean? Did Bakugou want to find out who the admirer was all of a sudden? Was he… hoping it would be someone in particular? Kirishima couldn’t follow that train of thought, he just couldn’t. It would ruin him right there in front of Bakugou, who was already looking at him with a strange expression.

“You… you want to come with us?” Kirishima asked and he hated how reluctant his voice sounded.

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “This has to do with me so yeah I’d fucking like to be included.” He glared but there was no malice behind his eyes.

“Okay…” Kirishima’s fingers felt heavy as he typed out a message to Ashido.

Can Bakugou come?

Bakugou snorted, obviously still side-eyeing Kirishima’s texts. “You don’t have to fucking ask, I already said I’m coming.”

Kirishima winced as his phone buzzed again with an incoming message.

Does he want to??? Sure! Three pairs of eyes are better than two!

Kirishima pocketed his phone and sat down awkwardly in the middle of Bakugou’s floor. For the first time in his life, he wanted to run away from Bakugou. He wanted to run out of this suffocating, pristine room and back to his cozy, safe bed. He wanted to run away from the innocent, unopened, mocking bottle on Bakugou’s windowsill, and the way that Bakugou was so nonchalant as he went back to watching his hero video. For the first time in his life, Kirishima didn’t want to be near him. He couldn’t. It was so so painful.

“Want to play video games or something?” Bakugou asked.

But of course, Kirishima said yes. And of course, he tried to hold himself together as Bakugou pulled himself out of bed and started to dig around in his closet for an extra controller. And of course, Kirishima tried to act like he wasn’t drowning when, instead of sitting back down on his bed like he usually did, Bakugou sat himself down on the floor next to Kirishima, close enough for their knees to nearly be touching.

And of course, he tried to remind himself that everything was fine. That he was Bakugou’s best friend. That he didn’t need to be anything else. That he was content sitting there in silence and absent-mindedly pressing buttons and listening to Bakugou grunt next to him every time he failed to evade an attack.

But deep down, his world had been thrown off its kilter, spiraling out of control, and he didn’t know how to stabilize it again.

Chapter Text

“What are you bringing that for?” Bakugou asked with a scowl. He was dressed in his school uniform and his usual baggy pants. And he was irritable. More irritable than usual. Probably because it was past his bedtime. Several hours past his bedtime, actually. The muscular clock on Kirishima’s wall that Bakugou snarled in distaste at every time he stepped foot into Kirishima’s bedroom read 12.13am.

Kirishima stopped just short of dropping a hand full of snacks, which he had bought earlier that day at the corner store down the street, into his bag. “Dude, it’s a stake-out, we need to keep up our strength!” He threw the little packages of jerky and cheese into the bag before he opened his mini-fridge and started pulling out a few small cans of pre-made coffee to toss in as well.

Bakugou snorted, and Kirishima thought he saw his lip quiver; like he was trying to hold back a smile. “You’re such an idiot.” He said, but it didn’t hold the usual bite that it normally did.

Kirishima grinned at that. “Don’t worry, I got your chocolate covered chili monstrosities too.” He patted his bag happily before he slipped it over his shoulder. Bakugou was frowning now and Kirishima hesitated, wondering what he could’ve possibly said to upset him.

“They’re not monstrosities. It’s not my fault you have the underdeveloped taste-buds of a child,” Bakugou grumbled, but he looked a lot less threatening than he usually did as he stifled a yawn into the back of his hand. Definitely more irritable than usual, but not explosively angry. If anything, he seemed to be edging on the border of agitated and sleepy.

Kirishima forced himself to relax and reprimanded himself for being so uptight and skittish. It had to be because of how late it was, and how frayed his nerves felt. He had never stayed up this late on a Sunday before, knowing that they had class the next morning. He’d also never snuck out of the dorms and into the school before to hang out in the hallways all night, so he supposed there was a first time for everything.

His phone vibrated in his pocket and he quickly pulled it out. A text from Ashido stared up at him.

Let’s go!

“Mina’s downstairs,” Kirishima said as he slipped his phone back into his pocket.

Bakugou pushed himself up and out of the beanbag chair before he picked up his own bag, which had been slumped over next to Kirishima’s desk, and started out into the hallway. At first, Kirishima’s feet didn’t follow him. He swallowed hard and clenched his hands into fists by his sides and tried to control his breathing. He felt a little nauseous – maybe even a little anxious.

Tonight, they would be waiting outside of homeroom to catch whoever it was that was leaving Bakugou green tea bottles on his desk, and they would finally know who the secret admirer was. Some people, like Ashido in particular, would argue that this is a good thing. That they could finally stop speculating and Bakugou could either tell them to leave him alone or maybe something romantic would happen and she’d get to witness it first-hand. But the way Kirishima’s stomach twisted and pulled uncomfortably made him wish that it wasn’t a good thing to know. It’s not that he didn’t want Bakugou to know who it was – he didn’t even want the unknown person to have to deal with the harsh rejection that was sure to follow if Bakugou chose to chew them out for their unnecessary kindness. But… he really didn’t want Bakugou to be happy about who it was – and that just made him feel like the lowest human being to have ever existed.

If he really cared about Bakugou, he should be happy for him no matter what happened tonight, right?

“Hey, are you coming or what?” Bakugou’s harsh whisper broke Kirishima free from his troubling thoughts.

He shook his head roughly. “Yeah! Sorry!” And finally, his feet allowed him to move.

The hallways in the dorm building were pitch-black in the dead of night, and Kirishima tried to strain his eyes to see where Bakugou was as they headed for the elevator. He bumped into him very suddenly and let out a little yelp of surprise.

“Some private eye you are,” Bakugou snorted in amusement as he pressed the button to call the elevator. “How do you expect to be stealthy when you’re stumbling around like that?”

Kirishima glared at him through the dark and he felt his cheeks warm up. “You know, you could have lit your hands up a bit so we could see better.” He didn’t know why he felt so distressed all of a sudden. It really wasn’t like him. Maybe he was tired. He just wanted to call this whole thing off. He hadn’t even wanted to do this in the first place, but Ashido had been so confident and Bakugou had been so persistent to come along. Why did everyone want to find out who the secret admirer was but him?

“And what? Make a bunch of noise and let everyone know we were on our way out the door?” Bakugou’s voice sounded tight as the elevator door opened and blinded them with light. They walked stiffly side-by-side, blinking furiously, and Kirishima didn’t respond as Bakugou reached out and pressed the button to take them to the ground floor. “’Sides, I could see just fine.”

Kirishima’s lips pressed into a tight line. “Lucky you.” His voice came out more bitter than he had wanted it to.

Bakugou looked at him with an expression of mixed anger and confusion, his bottom lip out in an angry pout and his brows furrowed. “What the hell is wrong with you tonight? You have a fucking attitude. This was your fucking idea, you know.”

Kirishima closed his eyes and took a deep breath. No, it hadn’t been, he wanted to scream at him. He didn’t want to do this. He wanted to go back upstairs and collapse into his bed. He wanted to just ignore this whole problem and try to forget about it. But he knew that if he did that, then come tomorrow morning there would probably be another green tea bottle on Bakugou’s desk, and Bakugou would most likely freak out again and his training would continue to suffer, and Kirishima would be caught up in the whirlwind of the what-ifs that would overtake his mind, and he just really didn’t know if he could handle going through that again. He already felt so close to snapping.

“I’m just nervous,” He finally said, a bit more honestly than he’d meant to.

Bakugou scowled at that. “Why are you nervous? It’s my stalker, not yours.”

Kirishima’s head snapped up to look at him and he furrowed his brows. “Stalker?” The word felt dirty on his lips.

Bakugou scratched at his jawline absent-mindedly as he shrugged a nonchalant shoulder. There were already bags beginning to develop in the soft tissue under his eyes. “Admirer. Stalker. It’s the same fucking thing.” He grumbled.

Kirishima glared. He couldn’t help it. He felt so… angry all of a sudden. So hurt, even if he didn’t have any right to be. “You know, having someone like you and care about you doesn’t automatically make them a stalker or a burden. You shouldn’t be so full of yourself.” Woah. Okay. He hadn’t exactly meant to say it like that. Bakugou’s eyes widened at his outburst but he didn’t turn to look at him and Kirishima was thankful for that. The elevator pinged at the bottom floor and the doors opened and they both stepped out at the same time to see Ashido sitting, not so patiently it seemed by the shaking of her leg, on the edge of the couch in the common area.

She leaped to her feet when she spotted them. She was wearing a black turtle-neck sweater and a pair of stretchy black pants. She looked like she was about to go into full-on stealth night-mode.

“Do you have a pair of night-vision goggles in your bag too?” Kirishima joked, more-so to fill the awkward silence that had settled between him and Bakugou than anything else.

Ashido reached out and pinched his bicep with a crinkled nose before she looked at Bakugou with a big smile flashing across her face. “Ready to meet your true love?”

Kirishima’s stomach clenched and Bakugou’s face twisted up in disgust. “Ugh, don’t ever fucking say that again.” Bakugou grumbled tiredly before he pushed past her and started for the doors. “Are we going or not?”

“Wait, Bakugou, don’t open the door!” Ashido practically yelled, earning a loud Shhhh! from Kirishima.

It was enough to make Bakugou freeze where he was, though, with his hand hovering over the door handle. His shoulders were tense as he turned to look back at her. “Why not?”

Ashido relaxed when she realized he hadn’t touched the door yet. “Aizawa-sensei had sensors installed into the doorframe! He gets an alert on his phone every time it opens between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am!”

Kirishima blinked in surprise and even Bakugou looked a little taken aback by this new information as he slowly let his hand fall to his side and eyed the door wearily.

“How do you know that?” Kirishima asked curiously. He knew the dorm buildings were extremely safe and probably had all kinds of added security, but he hadn’t known how in-depth those security systems went, though he supposed it made sense. Their class seemed to have a knack for getting caught up in villain drama.

Ashido blushed and rubbed at the back of her neck. “I… may have tried sneaking out at some point earlier this year and gotten caught. He came out of nowhere! I swear, he’s always watching us!”

Bakugou snorted and shoved his hands back into his pockets. “Then how are we meant to fucking leave if Aizawa has this place monitored?” His patience sounded thin and Kirishima thought he could vaguely hear the crackling of his heated palms deep within his pockets. “Don’t tell me I stayed up all fucking night just for you to tell us there’s no way out.” He snarled.

Ashido flapped a dismissive hand at his anger and rolled her eyes. “Of course there’s another way. Do you think I’m an idiot or something?” Bakugou opened his mouth but Ashido was quicker. “Eh, eh, eh, don’t answer that, you jerk.” She glowered at him before she turned and started for the kitchen. “Come on, follow me.” She whispered. They had no other choice, so they followed her.

Once in the kitchen, Ashido headed over to the little closet that sat inconspicuously off to the left side of the stove. Kirishima frowned at it – never having noticed it before until that very moment. It wasn’t like he spent a lot of time in the kitchen, unless Bakugou was there cooking something and using Kirishima as his own personal taste-tester. He watched silently, with Bakugou tense at his side, as Ashido opened the closet door and pulled out her phone to shine a light into the little room. It was filled with some dry canned goods, a broom set, and some other average household items like cleaning supplies. Finally, Ashido shined the light from her phone up towards the ceiling.

“There,” she smiled before she turned to look at them.

Bakugou moved first. He stepped closer and peered into the dark room before he glowered at Ashido. “How the fuck do you expect Shitty Hair to fit through there? It’s way too small!”

Kirishima and Ashido both frowned at the same time, but for very different reasons. Kirishima didn’t think he was that big – Bakugou was taller than him!

“He can fit!” Ashido argued back and Kirishima shuffled uncomfortably at being discussed while he was right there in the room before he pushed them both aside to finally see what they were talking about. His eyes landed on a little window up in the corner that had been left open. He hated to admit it, but Bakugou might have a point. While Kirishima wasn’t massive or anything, he was definitely more broad-shouldered than the other two, who had more slender builds as their attacks were meant for speed rather than brute-force blocking. They were bullets, whereas he was more like a solid brick wall.

“Uhhh,” He shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he stared up at the window, trying to mask his concern. “I mean… I could probably fit.”

“See?” Ashido stated proudly before she stuck her tongue out.

Bakugou snorted with an eye roll. “Whatever, I’m going through first.”

“Why do you get to go first?” Ashido argued, even as Bakugou squeezed past Kirishima into the small room and hoisted his school bag up to toss it out the little window onto the ground below.

“Because this whole thing wouldn’t be happening if not for me,” Bakugou snapped as he reached up to grasp the sides of the open window. With a grunt, he jumped up and planted his feet on the wall, holding himself up by the window frame, before he strained his arms and pulled himself up to stick his head out into the night.

Ashido huffed and crossed her arms. “’Least the view is nice.” She grumbled and she eyed Bakugou’s butt as it lifted and stuck out as he tried to pull his legs through without falling face-first to the ground below. Kirishima felt a deep blush creep up the back of his neck and he turned to look away before his traitorous eyes could follow her line of sight, hoping Ashido hadn’t noticed how flustered he’d suddenly become.

“Shut the fuck up! Stop looking at my ass!” Bakugou snarled, his face obscured, before he pulled the rest of his legs through and dropped down out of sight. “Come on! We don’t have all night!” He called back to them, even though that was exactly what they had.

A whole night left to get through.

“You can go first,” Kirishima said, still trying to corral his emotions back under control.

Ashido grinned at him and pushed his shoulder playfully. “You just want to look at my ass, don’t you?” She winked and Kirishima sputtered unintelligibly at the accusation. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you something worth watching.” She giggled and tossed her bag fluidly up and out the window.

“Ow! Fucking hell raccoon-eyes, watch what you’re doing!” Bakugou yelled from somewhere outside.

“Quit yelling! You’re going to get us caught, you loud-mouth!” Ashido yelled back just as loudly before she stepped up to the window. She stared up at it before she blushed and turned to look at Kirishima, who was still trying to calm his racing heart from all this butt-talk. “Can you hoist me up? Sorry.” She laughed into her hand.

“Oh! Yeah, sure.” Kirishima dropped his bag to the ground before he bent down and scooped Ashido up so that she was sat on one of his shoulders. He stepped towards the window, grasping her knees to keep her steady, and she reached out to grab either side of the frame like Bakugou had. “Easy,” Kirishima coached, even as Ashido effortlessly pulled herself up off his shoulder and slipped through the little opening.

“Baku- hey! What are you doing?” Ashido wiggled frantically and Kirishima struggled to keep a hold on her legs as she tried to reach for something out of his sight. “Stop taking pictures! This is serious business!”

From outside, Kirishima could hear Bakugou’s snickering filter in like a fresh summer breeze. His shoulders relaxed at the sound. It had been a while since he’d heard Bakugou having a good time. He supposed it wasn’t so bad that they were all doing this together.

And suddenly, just like that, the tense ball in Kirishima’s stomach unclenched and he breathed out a sigh he hadn’t known he’d been holding in for the past few days.

Bakugou was still Bakugou, even with a secret admirer.

He was still the same guy who insisted on playing 1v1 basketball against Kirishima, despite Kirishima winning every time and Bakugou folding into a fit of curses while he banged his fists angrily against the ground as Kirishima teased him. He was the same guy who, always begrudgingly, brought Kirishima home-made soup in bed and loitered over him, waiting for him to finish, whenever he got sick and couldn’t make it down to the cafeteria to eat. He was the same guy who, once, Kirishima saw push milk out of his nose mid-laugh after Kirishima had shown him a funny video of some guy falling off a lift-chair at a ski resort after the child next to him had accidentally activated their quirk for the first time and nearly caught the guy’s clothes on fire.

It was Kirishima who had been acting like things were different between them. It was Kirishima who had been so hung up on the fact that somebody else had a crush on Bakugou, he hadn’t even realized how far apart they’d started to drift. He winced at his own selfishness, maybe he had been avoiding Bakugou lately, at least subconsciously. He vowed that he’d try to make this experience as enjoyable as possible. Because why shouldn’t it be? He was sneaking out of the dorms in the middle of the night to do dumb, teenage bullshit – something they didn’t allow themselves to do very often given their career choices – with his best friend and his crush. This should be exciting, shouldn’t it? Isn’t that what Ashido kept saying?

He pulled himself out of his thoughts as Ashido slid smoothly out the window, probably being pulled by Bakugou on the other side. Kirishima waited and listened as they shuffled around before Bakugou’s voice rang out.

“You coming Kirishima?”

Kirishima.

He smiled a little and tried to force down the blush that came searing up his neck. “Coming!” He whispered back, because apparently the others had forgotten that they were trying to sneak out of the dorms, before he picked up his bag and held it up to the open window. “Someone grab my pack! I don’t want to drop it!”

Bakugou snorted from outside as Kirishima felt the weight of the bag lift away from his fingers. “Yeah, what with all your precious supplies in here.” His voice was tinged with annoyance and Kirishima winced. He knew Bakugou was still tense about their earlier discussion in the elevator, even if he refused to acknowledge it.

“What precious supplies?” Ashido asked, but neither of them had time to answer before she gasped in delight. “Kiri! Did you pack that coffee I suggested?”

“Of course!” Kirishima smiled at the window, even as he heard Bakugou grunt and mutter ‘fucking hell not you too’. Despite not being able to see them, Kirishima knew Ashido was probably happy dancing somewhere outside. She had been bugging him incessantly all day yesterday to get those little coffees, how could he not have grabbed them when he was at the store? But he didn’t say that. He just let her be happy, because that’s what friends did. “I’m coming out!” He warned before he grabbed the window and pulled himself up.

It was a bit of a tighter squeeze for him, he’d admit, at least for his shoulders. He pulled one arm out ahead of the other and reached out, assuming Ashido would grab his hand and help him. But Ashido was too busy squatting next to his bag and digging around through his snacks to notice that he needed her assistance, and he tried not to think too much about it as Bakugou stepped forward and hooked his thumb around Kirishima’s so that their palms were pressed flat against each other. He really tried not to focus on the sweet-scented sweat that he could feel on the other boy’s palm. And he really really tried not to focus on the way Bakugou’s free hand came up to grab at the elbow of his dress shirt to give them a little bit more leverage before he flexed – gripping Kirishima’s hand tight – before he pulled Kirishima through the window.

In fact, Kirishima was trying so hard not to focus on any of that, that he didn’t even try to catch himself before he fell face-first onto the ground, and it definitely hurt his ego a bit. But it wasn’t so bad to hear Bakugou’s sputtering laugh again, even if it was at his expense.

“Well look at that, he did fit,” Ashido proclaimed as she zipped Kirishima’s bag back up and hoisted it up along with her own. “Now let’s go! We have to get to the school before the last teacher leaves for the night or else we won’t make it!”

Bakugou and Kirishima both froze up at that and turned to look at Ashido with wide, bewildered gazes.

“What?” Ashido asked, once she recognized that they hadn’t started moving faster, but had in fact fallen completely still.

“There’s still a teacher in the school?” Bakugou spat through gritted teeth. “Why are we breaking in so early then?”

Ashido rolled her eyes, as if the answer was painfully obvious and they were just too stupid to realize it. “Because, the school doors close and lock for the night after the last teacher swipes their card when they leave the building. So we have to sneak in early enough that All Might would still be there – “

“Wait, wait, wait,” Bakugou lifted his hands and he had an angry look on his face as he glared between the two of them, as if Kirishima had something to do with this as well. “You’re telling me that we have to sneak past All Might to get into the school?”

Ashido smirked as she stepped forward and lifted Kirishima’s bag out to him. He took it hesitantly and put it on his shoulder, suddenly not feeling very confident in their abilities to do this. “What’s wrong Bakugou? Scared you’re going to get caught?” She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth to emphasize her point and her smirk widened as Bakugou’s face set into tight, stubborn lines.

Kirishima looked between the two of them, not daring to say anything. He knew Ashido was brave, but this was on a whole other level.

Bakugou’s upper lip stiffened and his hands curled into fists by his sides as he dragged in a slow breath. He seemed to know that Ashido was egging him on – spurring at his competitive nature with a knowing grin and shining eyes – but just because he knew Ashido was doing it doesn’t mean that it didn’t work. “Of course not.” He seethed.

With a giggle, Ashido turned and started across the dark yard towards the building that had their homeroom class in it. “C’mon then slowpokes!” She said over her shoulder.

“You have the worst fucking friends,” Bakugou muttered to Kirishima as he shouldered his bag before the two of them started off into the night after her.

“They’re your friends too, you know,” Kirishima said.

Bakugou snorted and rolled his eyes. “You’re my only friend.” He said it so confidently, but it still made Kirishima falter a little.

He was Bakugou’s… only friend? He guessed it made sense. It’s not like he’d ever seen Bakugou hanging out with anyone else if he didn’t have to. Though he tended to tag along with Ashido, Sero, and Kaminari whenever Kirishima did, mostly in the cafeteria for meals, he didn’t necessarily hang out with them unless Kirishima was also present. If he wasn’t hanging out with Kirishima, he was usually off on his own, doing his own things and pretending the rest of them didn’t exist.

Or he was with Uraraka, his thoughts intruded unexpectedly.

He shook his head roughly. No. That didn’t matter. Not right now. Not ever!

A shoulder bumped into his and Kirishima jumped at the contact before he glanced over at Bakugou, who seemed content to stare at the ground in front of them instead of looking back at him. “Sorry,” Kirishima grumbled, gripping his bag strap a little tighter. He didn’t know why he felt so bad knowing that he was Bakugou’s only friend. It should have been a good thing. An accomplishment. Like a badge of honor – he should have been proud to hear it. And maybe last week he would have been. But not anymore.

Because as much as Kirishima tried to stifle it, bury it, or smother it underwater, there was no use denying it anymore. He was pining after Bakugou Katsuki. Hard. And if Bakugou ever found out, his perception of his one and only friend would change dramatically. Maybe forever. Maybe they’d never be able to recover from it and Bakugou would never let anyone close to him ever again – afraid that they were only doing it in an attempt to date him.

“Why are you sorry?” Bakugou looked at him and his brows were furrowed in genuine confusion. “You’re the best fucking friend anyone could ever hope to have. I don’t fucking need any more. And everyone else should be fucking jealous.”

Kirishima blinked at him in surprise. It wasn’t that he didn’t think he was a good friend, because he always tried really hard to be, but he’d never expected to hear Bakugou confirm it. He’d half-doubted it himself when this whole green tea bottle thing had started happening. But now, here they were, trudging across the grassy fields in the middle of the night to sneak into homeroom so they could try and catch Bakugou’s secret admirer, and Bakugou was blabbering on about how Kirishima was the best friend to have.

And Kirishima felt… conflicted.

On the one hand, his heart swelled knowing that Bakugou truly meant it, because Bakugou never said anything that he didn’t mean. But on the other hand, he felt crushed… because Bakugou truly meant it… because Bakugou never said anything that he didn’t mean. He felt split in two, right down the middle of his very being. One half of him was cheering and fist-pumping the air, while the other half of him was crumbling and dissolving further into the dark pit that had begun to grow in the bottom of his stomach.

“Hey,” Bakugou swatted him over the back of the head and forced him out of his thoughts. Kirishima blinked rapidly and noticed Bakugou was glaring at him, his lip pouting angrily. “Now you’re supposed to tell me that I’m fucking delightful to be around and that I’m the most considerate person you’ve ever known or some bullshit like that!” He grumbled, looking genuinely upset. Kirishima blinked at him again before his face split into a huge grin and he started shaking his head. Bakugou snarled at this, his cheeks growing a bright red – embarrassed, again. “Why are you laughing?!” He snapped, his hands closing into tight fists. “I’m a great fucking friend, you asshat!”

Kirishima’s whole body shook with tremors as he tried to hold his laughter at bay – worried he would wake up half the block and blow their whole operation. But he couldn’t help it! It was just too hilarious! He shook his head again, trying to calm himself down, but falling back into a fit of laughter again shortly after. “It’s just…” He started to choke out as he wiped away a stray tear that had run down his cheek. “You have no idea… how much I value our friendship… like you’re so oblivious, dude. It’s kind of endearing.”

Now it was Bakugou’s turn to blink in surprise. His cheeks lit up even more before he looked down at the ground and pressed his lips together into a tight line of concentration – like suddenly it was the most important thing in the world to watch his own feet move. “Shut up,” he said, but his tone was relaxed and soft.

Kirishima smiled so big his cheeks hurt and, riding this newfound high and throwing all caution to the wind at this point, because Kirishima’s pride was small and his love was never-ending, he slung his arm over Bakugou’s shoulders. And this time, Bakugou didn’t flinch so Kirishima squeezed him tighter, the closest he’d ever been to hugging him, before he let his arm hang limply across the back of Bakugou’s neck. And Bakugou let him without so much as a snort or an eye roll.

“What are you guys laughing about?” Ashido slowed her pace before she fell into step beside Kirishima and eyed them suspiciously.

“How stupid you look in that outfit,” Bakugou bounced back easily. He always did.

Ashido huffed and patted at her fluffy pink hair, “Pfft, you’re just jealous. You’d never be able to pull this off.” She teased and Kirishima felt light as air. It didn’t even matter anymore that they were about to try and sneak past the number one hero to trap Bakugou’s secret admirer. It didn’t matter if they were brimming with self-confidence and it didn’t matter if Bakugou wanted to date them or not. It didn’t matter at all. Because even if, for some reason, Bakugou saw who it was and decided he wanted to date them, at least right now, at this very moment, they didn’t know Bakugou Katsuki like Kirishima did.

They might know that his favorite drink was green tea with honey and ginseng, but they didn’t know what his strong shoulders felt like moving under the weight of their arm, sturdy and confident and warm. They might know what his school schedule was, but they didn’t get the opportunity to memorize the sleepy look that glazed over his face when they’d stayed up too late watching movies or playing games and he was fighting the urge to pass out. They might know how handsome he’d looked that day at the school festival, drumming his heart out up on stage and looking more relaxed than he had in a long time, but Kirishima doubted they had the sound of his laughter on a lazy, Sunday afternoon burned into their minds as they showed him a video that he actually thought was funny. And even if Kirishima was the only person to know these things, just for one more night, he wasn’t going to fret about it anymore. He was going to enjoy everything he could get out of Bakugou; as much as the other boy offered to give him.

And if that meant that Kirishima would have to learn to be content with just being Bakugou Katsuki’s best friend, he thought he could handle that. At that moment, he really really did.

They reached the school building faster than Kirishima expected them to – the walk from the dorm building to homeroom was burned into his muscle memory, so-much-so that he almost had to stop himself from just walking up to the door and heading inside. Thankfully, Ashido pulled them over to the side before he could make such a stupid mistake and the three of them crouched down low by a row of neatly trimmed bushes.

“So how do we get inside without All Might seeing us, raccoon-eyes?” Bakugou asked, and for the first time that night, his voice was a whisper. Kirishima could feel how tense he was, and he couldn’t help but tense up himself. They were about to sneak onto school property, right under All Might’s nose. His heart started to pound in his chest.

“There’s a back door around the corner to the stairwell, we could go in there,” Ashido suggested, touching her finger to her chin. “If that’s locked, we could always find an open window somewhere.”

Bakugou snorted and rolled his eyes. “This is UA we’re talking about, there’s not going to be any open windows.” He said.

Ashido and Kirishima nodded in agreement. “Then our best bet is the back door. If it’s locked…” She didn’t continue, which meant that if the back door was locked there was no other way in. They didn’t have a backup plan. If this didn’t work, then all of this would have been for nothing.

“Let’s go,” Bakugou grunted, his face set in determination. Kirishima couldn’t help but admire the way his eyes shone passionately, even in the dark of the night, illuminated only by the streetlamps along the campus paths. He was so manly!

They trooped forward in a straight line, Bakugou leading them and Ashido bringing up the rear, along the outskirts of the building until they came upon the back door. There was a single, dim light above it, making it glow ominously. They climbed the stairs and crouched in front of the door, all of them glancing in different directions to ensure that they truly were alone. The night was silent around them. Finally, Bakugou reached out and gingerly touched the door handle. It seemed to take him forever to try to turn it and Kirishima’s stomach clenched anxiously as the handle dipped easily and the door creaked upon opening. They all winced at the sound before they scuttled inside. Ashido was careful to close the door as quietly as she could behind them.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Ashido sighed in the dark of the stairwell. Bakugou turned on her at that.

“What do you mean, you can’t believe that worked? This was your idea!”

“Shhh!”

“Shhh!”

Kirishima and Ashido both shushed him as his voice echoed in the stairwell. For a long moment, they all stayed completely frozen, half-bent, and waiting to see if anyone had heard them. When a few minutes ticked by and nobody came to investigate the noise, they let out a collective sigh of relief.

“C’mon, let’s get to homeroom.” Ashido took the lead again and started up the stairs, careful not to step too loudly, and the others followed close behind her.

The school felt a little spooky at night, though Kirishima would never admit it out loud. He blamed all of the Japanese horror games, because for some reason they always seemed to take place in a school, that he’d watched Bakugou play over the past few months – seriously, that guy could walk into a dark room and take a jump scare straight to the face without twitching a muscle, it was so attractive, while Kirishima would let out a yelp and hunker down lower into his blankets, decidedly less attractive. Bakugou would always smirk and tease him about it, too.

“Do you think we should wait inside the classroom?” Ashido broke the silence as they shuffled closer to their destination just on the other side of the hall.

“No,” Bakugou grunted. "I want to catch them before they put that shit on my desk."

“We’ll wait outside then,” Ashido muttered as her dark eyes swiveled around the hallway to look for a comfy place to set up camp.

A door at the end of the hallway opened.

The three of them froze instantly, eyes wide, before they jumped into the crevices along the walls as fast they could. Ashido squeezed herself beside a water fountain, clasping her hands over her face, like if she blocked out the world then nobody would be able to spot her or something. Kirishima had lunged for the space between two vending machines. Unfortunately, so had Bakugou, and they ended up squished against each other, pressed into the little space so hard that Bakugou’s elbow was jamming into Kirishima’s ribs uncomfortably.

He hadn’t realized how loud he’d been breathing in his panic, his heart thrumming in his chest, before Bakugou’s hand reached up and clapped around his mouth, effectively silencing him and, at the same time, kick-starting his heart to pump even faster. He could smell the glycerin from Bakugou’s palm, and he tried not to think about the fact that his skin was crushing down on his lips. He really tried not to kiss the sensitive, calloused skin – which was so weird that he even wanted to in the first place, his face lit up immediately with embarrassment. But if Bakugou noticed, he didn’t say anything, and they stared at each other with wide, unblinking eyes as they listened to the sound of footsteps walking closer to them.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kirishima watched tensely as All Might slumped past them, all small and looking disheveled in his big suit. He looked exhausted, which was probably the only reason he didn’t spot them as he shuffled towards the front door.

Kirishima felt like he might pass out as he tried to hold his breath, far too aware of Bakugou’s pinky resting just under his nose and his thumb clutching at his chin, as though to force his mouth shut. They were too close, way too close. Kirishima could feel his whole body pressed against him and even though it hurt to have Bakugou’s elbow jabbing into his stomach, it hurt more when they heard the front door close and lock and Bakugou dropped his hand and slid out of the tiny crevice, his face burning a bright red. Kirishima was sure his face was just as red as he followed after him.

“Man, that was close,” Ashido breathed out a sigh of relief as she leaned back against the wall and slid down to the floor. “I was so sure he was going to catch us.”

Bakugou rounded on her and he didn’t bother to lower his voice as yelled – there wasn’t really a need to anymore, Kirishima supposed, but he stilled winced and eyed the front door wearily at the sheer volume of it. “What?! Have some confidence in your own fucking plans, raccoon-eyes, or don’t invite people to come along!” Kirishima blinked. That sounded vaguely like motivation, in a Bakugou sort of way.

Ashido gaped up at him. “I didn’t invite you! You invited yourself!”

“Tch!” Bakugou threw his hand up in annoyance, but he didn’t seem to have a counterargument for that, which just made him grumble more miserably.

“Guys, I know we’re alone here now, but please,” Kirishima raised his hands and gestured for them to be quiet before he walked over to Ashido and slid down to sit next to her. “I guess we’re going to be here a while,” he said, feeling a bit more relaxed knowing that All Might had vacated the premises. He tried to get them back into an exciting mindset – he’d decided that this was going to be a fun experience, after all! He brought his bag down between his knees before he unzipped it and pulled out the little coffees. Ashido excitedly snatched one from him, giggling, and Kirishima held one out to Bakugou.

Bakugou looked at the can for a long moment before he sighed and grabbed it before he let his bag fall down to his feet and he sat on Kirishima’s other side. It felt nice, being crammed between two of his closest friends, even if the weight of Bakugou’s thigh against his own was suddenly all he could focus on.

“So,” Ashido started as she smacked her lips together after taking a long guzzle from the coffee. She turned her attention to Bakugou, leaning forward slightly to see past Kirishima. “Who do you think it is?” She didn’t need to clarify.

Bakugou froze with his drink halfway lifted to his lips and he glared, but it didn’t have the same amount of anger that it normally did. Kirishima checked the time on his phone. It was just past 1 o’clock in the morning. Bakugou must be exhausted. “I don’t fucking know,” he grunted before he finally drank from his can.

Ashido frowned at that, her eyes darted to Kirishima briefly, before she fixed Bakugou with a steady gaze. “Could it be Uraraka?”

Bakugou choked on his coffee and Kirishima stiffened. Oh no, here it comes. The questions Kirishima had been refusing to ask were about to be answered and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to hear them. He gripped his can tightly in his hand and tried not to look too panicked as he chanced a glance at Bakugou, who wiped at his chin with his sleeve, not caring or totally oblivious to the little brown dots he left on his cuff.

“No? Why would it be round-face?” Bakugou asked, and he sounded so certain that Kirishima’s insides instantly loosened in unsung relief. “She’s in love with fucking Deku.”

Kirishima blinked in surprise that. Uraraka was in love with Midoriya? The same Midoriya who was in a secret relationship with Todoroki? That Midoriya? Ashido’s eyes widened at the confession and Kirishima remembered that he’d told her about Midoriya and Todoroki too, so her surprise clearly matched Kirishima’s as she leaned forward eagerly, clinging to Bakugou’s every word.

“What! She is? How do you know that?”

Bakugou glared and his fingers tightened on the can of coffee. “I’m not fucking gossiping with you about this shit.”

“Why not?” Ashido pouted. “You’re so mean! Don’t you care about anything going on in anyone else’s lives?”

Bakugou snorted as he took another long sip. “No? I have enough shit to deal with, I don’t care what anyone else is doing.”

Ashido laughed, as if she knew some deep secret, before she reached into the bag between Kirishima’s knees to dig out some snacks. “Except for Kiri, of course.”

Bakugou choked for the second time on his coffee and Kirishima’s face lit up bright red at that. He didn’t know why his hands suddenly felt so clammy or why his heart was racing so fast in his chest. It wasn’t like this was news – Bakugou had just said outside that Kirishima was his best friend, confirmed and solidified it into existence like a block of cement around Kirishima’s dumb, fragile heart – but still, the thought of Bakugou not caring about anyone other than him made his chest tighten. Was he really that special to him?

“Yeah well,” Bakugou seemed to stumble over his own thoughts before he huffed. “Kirishima isn’t fucking annoying like the rest of you.”

“You’re right!” Ashido agreed readily as she reached out to pinch Kirishima’s cheek. “He’s worse! What with all his unconditional love and thoughtful consideration!” She giggled as Kirishima swatted her hand away. His cheeks felt like they were on fire.

“S-shut up you guys!” He didn’t know how much more of this teasing he could take.

Bakugou huffed a laugh into the top of his drink, but he didn’t say anything else. A comfortable silence fell over them and Kirishima slowly settled back against the wall. Despite the coffee, his eyes felt heavy and his body felt warm pressed between his friends. The lull of a ticking clock somewhere around them made it even harder to stay focused. He checked his phone again. It was 1.45 am.

“Is there anyone, specifically, that you want it to be?” Ashido suddenly asked, pinching another square of cheese out of the package and nibbling on it.

Bakugou sighed loudly, clearly his patience was starting to wear thin. “No, alien.” He replied, but his voice sounded soft. Kirishima glanced at him and watched as he yawned into his palm, his eyes half-hooded as he crossed his arms tightly over his chest and leaned back against the wall. He looked like he might pass out any minute. Ashido must have noticed too.

“Hey!” She yelled, reaching across Kirishima and snapping her fingers in front of Bakugou’s face. Bakugou started at the sound and his palms crackled in surprise. “Don’t fall asleep! We’re here for you, remember?”

Bakugou didn’t even have the energy to glare or sneer or roll his eyes. He just batted her hand away from his face lazily. He looked completely worn out. It was almost nice, Kirishima thought, to see him so relaxed and at ease around them. He wondered, after all of this was over, if Bakugou would hang out with Ashido more.

“That’s why you guys are here,” Bakugou stated matter-of-factly as he struggled to get comfortable against the wall. His shoulder bumped Kirishima’s and he leaned against him and Kirishima tried not to think too much about it. Buddies leaned against each other when they were tired, right? “If I fall asleep, you guys will just wake me up if someone comes along.”

Ashido rolled her eyes and pulled her knees to her chest as she ate some more cheese. “Yeah right, if you fall asleep and I see who the secret admirer is and you don’t, I’m just not going to tell you.” She smiled deviously as Bakugou sent an annoyed look her way.

“Tch, whatever, I don’t care,” Bakugou grumbled tiredly as he yawned again. His eyes looked dangerously close to falling shut.

Kirishima pulled out his phone again. 2.05 am. They still had several hours before there was even the possibility of someone showing up. He tapped on the folder on his phone screen that had some games and Ashido leaned against his other side, resting her chin against his shoulder, to watch him play some generic racing game.

He hadn’t even been playing for fifteen minutes when suddenly he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He jumped at the contact and looked over, his car crashing into a wall, to see that Bakugou had passed out, his head slumping down and leaning against Kirishima’s shoulder. He looked so peaceful. All the frown lines and angry tension in his eyebrows were released, and he looked so small, scrunched in on himself with his arms tightly crossed and his knees pulled into his chest as he pressed his cheek into Kirishima’s shoulder. His mouth was parted slightly, and if Kirishima listened closely, he was certain he could hear little snores coming from him. Kirishima would have to remember to tease him about being the first one to pass out tomorrow, if he didn’t die of adoration first.

Ashido giggled beside him and he turned to her. She looked absolutely gleeful as she pressed her hands over her mouth, failing to hide her huge smile, before she groped around inside her bag and pulled her own phone out.

“Wait, don’t – “ Kirishima whispered, careful not to move too much. He just didn’t want Bakugou to wake up, that was all. He was so tired. It had nothing to do with the fact that his whole body buzzed at the thought that Bakugou felt comfortable enough to fall asleep on him.

“Stop!” Ashido hushed and pushed his hand away. She leaned away from the wall and held her phone up. “You’ll want this, trust me, you guys are so cute!” She whispered happily before she snapped a few photos. Kirishima felt like his face was going to melt right off as she settled back down beside him and turned her phone so that he could see the pictures displayed on the screen.

He had to admit, they did look pretty cute. Kirishima’s hair was illuminated in the glow of his phone, you could barely tell that his face was red at all in the low light, and Bakugou looked incredibly peaceful, leaning against him, pressed into his shoulder, with his face lulled down towards his chest. Kirishima’s heart squeezed at the very image and he tried to squash that feeling the moment he realized it was there.

This was Bakugou, he had to remind himself, his best friend Bakugou. His good buddy Bakugou. His best pal Bakugou. His you’re-my-only-friend-and-I-don’t-need-anybody-else Bakugou. He’d just decided a few hours ago that he was content being only that, he couldn’t go back on his word now. He wanted to stay in the feeling of internal peace that had enveloped him earlier, but he already forgot what it felt like. Now he just felt like he was pining – even harder than he had before, because, his brain admitted more forcefully this time, they looked so cute together. It wasn’t fair.

“Thanks,” Kirishima grumbled as he ducked his head and looked down at his phone. His car had restarted after being totaled, but he hadn’t been paying attention, and he was in last place with only a few seconds left on the buzzer. He force quit the game and tried to clear his throat; it felt tight and he could feel his heart beating inside of it. “Can you… send that to me?” Was that weird of him to ask? He gripped his phone tighter in his fingers, but Ashido only nodded and hummed happily as she leaned her own head against his other shoulder.

He stared at the wall ahead of him, listening to the light ticking of the clock, when his phone vibrated in his hands. He refused to look at it. He couldn’t. If he did, his heart might fall out of his butt or something.

He was so fucking screwed.

Another buzz startled him out of his thoughts, and he glanced at Ashido, but she was busy scrolling through social media, her eyes half-lidded and her body feeling heavy against his. He looked at Bakugou and his eyes immediately fell to the lit screen in Bakugou’s lap, abandoned and forgotten. There was a single notification and Kirishima felt his heart stutter again.

RoundFace: Where r u??

He tensed and his eyes snapped forward. Uraraka was… texting him? He hadn’t even known that Bakugou had given his number out to the others in his class, though he supposed it made sense. There was no way Kirishima was the only one in his class that had Bakugou’s number. Surely Midoriya did, at least. But neither Sero, Kaminari, or Ashido had Bakugou’s number, so why did Uraraka? Hadn’t Bakugou stated that Uraraka was in love with Midoriya? So why was Kirishima so uncomfortable with the thought of them texting each other? Especially considering the fact that Uraraka was texting him in the middle of the night, asking him where he was. Did she usually visit him at night? Or worse, his abdomen clenched painfully, did Bakugou visit her at night?

He couldn’t picture Bakugou sneaking out of his room and going over to the girl’s side of the dorm building, especially considering how much he cherished his sleep, but then why else would Uraraka be texting him? He figured, painfully, that Uraraka would have to move on from Midoriya at some point, considering Midoriya’s current relationship status with Todoroki, but did that mean she was moving on with Bakugou? Had she confessed to him once she’d noticed the secret admirer was trying to make their move, and she wanted to let him know her feelings before they ever discovered who the admirer was? Kirishima swallowed thickly at that. If so, she was a lot manlier than Kirishima was, and that made him feel really low.

“Hey,” Ashido flicked his forehead lightly. “What’s up? I can practically hear you thinking over there. You’re not going to have any brainpower left for class!”

Kirishima already knew he wouldn’t do very well in class tomorrow. He found that he didn’t so much care. His stomach felt so tight and his head spun with unanswered questions. Questions he refused to ask because he didn’t know if he really wanted to know the answers to them. He tried to shrug, realized both of his shoulders were pre-occupied, and settled for a strange, nervous sound that came out of his mouth instead.

Ashido lifted her head from his shoulder and squinted at him in the dark of the hallway, looking suspicious. “You’re doing that thing where you’re pretending like I can’t tell when you’re distressed.” She said plainly before she nibbled on her lip. “You don’t have to tell me anything, I know that, and I hope you do too, but… you’ve been really worrying me, Kiri. The past few days, you haven’t been yourself at all. I just hope you don’t feel like you have to go through anything on your own. We’re all here for you, hell, even Bakugou would probably set aside his grumpy attitude long enough to listen to you, so I hope someday soon you’ll talk to somebody about what’s bothering you so much.”

Kirishima wanted to talk about it, a small part of him did anyway. But a larger part, the cowardice in him, was begging him not to. Pleading with him to keep his mouth shut and to bury his feelings deeper away. If he confessed to Bakugou, and the blonde didn’t feel the same way, there was no going back. He’d ruin his friendship with him before it’d even really started, and he didn’t want to risk that.

Still, he knew where Ashido was coming from, and his heart thrummed happily at her words. He reached out and clasped her hand in his and she squeezed his fingers. “Thanks… maybe one day I will.” Kirishima whispered in promise before he winced and glanced down at his lap. “But… not today. Not right now.” He finished quietly.

Ashido nodded in understand and she squeezed his fingers even tighter before she leaned against his shoulder again and rattled out a yawn. “’M so tired,” she mumbled against his shirt and Kirishima chuckled, his body vibrating with pent up energy and, hilariously, so much angst.

“You can sleep, I’m not really tired. I think that coffee really helped me.” Kirishima said.

Ashido eyed him hazily through her lashes. “You don’t mind?” She already sounded like she was asleep.

Kirishima patted her cheek. “Go to sleep.” He said, and she was passed out within the next minute.

Kirishima sat completely still, listening to the sound of his classmates breathing against him and trying to ignore the tingling in his backside as his butt cheeks started to lose feeling. He didn’t dare move, though. He felt so warm, wedged between the two of them, so loved and needed. Bakugou shifted in his sleep, leaning further into Kirishima so that Kirishima’s shoulder rubbed against his chest as he slid further between his back and the wall. He mumbled something so softly that Kirishima couldn’t make it out, and his eyebrows furrowed together subconsciously before he settled down again. His arms had fallen a little from their crossed position and Kirishima had to coach himself not to take one of his hands into his own. Even he knew that would be really weird. He was having so many weird thoughts tonight. He must really be tired.

Carefully, he unlocked his phone and opened his camera app, flipping the phone around and angling it up at them before he took a picture. For a moment, the flashing white of the light blinded him, and he worried that his friends might wake up, but neither of them even flinched. He turned the phone back around, blinking away the spots that threatened to take over his vision, and he smiled softly at the image displayed on his screen.

It was an awkward angle, since Kirishima hadn’t wanted to lift his arms, afraid he’d disturb them, but it was so heartwarming that it almost made his chest ache. He loved them so much – his friends, his best friends.

And they loved him too.

It was a foreign concept for Kirishima, to be surrounded by people who he cared about so deeply and who also cared about him. They’d both told him so, over and over it seemed, and Kirishima still had a hard time believing that they could care about him as much as he cared about them. He wanted to squeeze them. Somehow, their close proximity still felt too far away.

He turned his phone off to save his battery before he crossed his arms, giving both of them a little more surface area to cuddle against, and he leaned his head back against the wall. His eyes felt sore. What time was it? He hadn’t thought to check before turning off his phone, and he felt too heavy and laden down to really turn it back on.

As the clock ticked evenly in the background, and Ashido gripped his bicep with affectionate hands, and Bakugou sighed into his chest and pressed his nose deep into the crevice of Kirishima’s armpit, he didn’t even notice when his eyes fell shut and he joined them in peaceful slumber.

 

 

The sound of a door opening and closing jolted Kirishima back to reality.

He jumped and blinked rapidly against the sunshine streaming in from the windows. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear the sound of a door unlocking with the jangle of keys clinking together. What time was it? His body felt stiff from laying on the ground all night and he realized that they’d all shifted at some point.

Kirishima was half-slouched down to the ground. Ashido had moved away from him sometime in the night and she laid sprawled out with her head on her bookbag like it was a pillow. Bakugou had fallen over as well, his face was pressed into Kirishima’s stomach and his arms wrapped tightly around his waist, holding him in place stubbornly.

As Kirishima tried to pull himself from his hazy sleep, Ashido grumbled at the noises around them and pushed herself up into a sitting position. She rubbed at her eyes and yawned loudly before she glanced at the two of them, stretching her arms over her head. Kirishima flushed at how tightly wrapped Bakugou was around him, but Ashido didn’t say anything about it, probably too tired to tease him. She dug around in his bag and pulled out another can of coffee, that was probably warm now, and she took a long sip.

Another door opened and closed, causing them to jump again, and Bakugou grunted angrily at being forced awake. He shoved his face deeper into Kirishima’s gut, cursing quietly before he yawned and blinked his eyes open. Kirishima stiffened, waiting for him to explode and push him away, but instead, Bakugou merely straightened up and cracked his back and neck, stretching an arm across his chest to pull at his shoulder.

Ashido made a sudden noise of surprise and Kirishima felt fully awake now. “Oh my god!” She reached across Kirishima and snatched something off of Bakugou’s face.

Kirishima and Bakugou both blinked dimly at the object clasped in Ashido’s fingers, and it took him a minute to recognize the little yellow sticky note. The same kind that had been stuck on the two green tea bottles left on Bakugou’s desk. Ashido’s mouth hung open and her eyes were wide as they flitted across the note, reading it over and over.

“The fuck?” Was all Bakugou could muster in his sleepy state as he reached over for it. Ashido didn’t put up much of a fight as he grabbed it from her before he turned it around to read it for himself. Kirishima couldn’t contain his curiosity and he leaned over Bakugou’s shoulder to read it too. He was sure his face flushed just as brightly as Bakugou’s did next to him.

You’re so cute when you’re sleeping! :)

“Uuugh,” Ashido groaned loudly as she rubbed her hands over her face. “We missed her! I can’t believe it! We stayed out all night and we all fell asleep and we missed her!”

Bakugou crumpled up the note and his jaw clenched as he ground his molars together. Kirishima could tell by the set in his shoulders and the stiffness of his back that he was just as displeased as Ashido was at their failed attempt, maybe even more so. “What a fucking waste of time.” He grumbled angrily before he tossed the piece of paper away as if it were a gum wrapper. Kirishima winced a little at that, feeling nauseous. Someone had approached them when they were sleeping, had written a note, and carefully stuck it to Bakugou’s hair, and none of them had even noticed it. What kind of heroes were they?

“I have to go change,” Ashido said moodily as she stood and grabbed up her bag. “See you guys in a bit.” She said, before she hurried away down the hall.

Kirishima stiffened at her sudden departure, glancing cautiously at Bakugou out of the corner of his eye. A tired Bakugou was one thing to deal with, but an angry, annoyed, exhausted Bakugou who had slept on the floor all night was something totally different, he was sure. Kirishima waited for him to explode, waited for him to start yelling and trying to blast everything in his sight, so he was surprised when Bakugou only lifted a hand and rubbed lazily at his eye before he grunted, “Any more coffee?”

Kirishima pulled his bag over and rifled through the contents. He grabbed the last can of coffee from his bag and held it out to him. “Here, last one.”

Bakugou scowled at it for a moment, as though he hadn’t just asked for it, before he flapped a dismissive hand at it. “You have it, then.”

Kirishima blinked at this sudden display of generosity. He pressed it closer to Bakugou all the same. “You can have it, I’m not that tired,” he lied, and Bakugou knew it was a lie judging by the glare on his face.

“Stop being so fucking nice, just take it. It’s yours.” Bakugou argued.

“But I got it for all of us,” Kirishima argued right back. “And you look dead.” He hadn’t meant for that to sound so straight-forward, but the dark bags under Bakugou’s eyes were startling against his pale skin. It looked like he’d gotten punched in the face.

Bakugou barked out a laugh and rolled his eyes. “Coming from you. You should see your damn hair.”

Kirishima frowned and reached a hand up to touch at his hair. His eyes widened when he realized that it must have flattened overnight. He didn’t have time to run back to the dorms and force it back up and he suddenly felt very self-conscious. “Shit, ugh, I hate it when it does that.” He grumbled as he tugged at a strand of the red locks disapprovingly.

Bakugou scowled at that. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean? It’s your hair, that’s just what it looks like.”

Kirishima winced. “Well, I don’t like it when it's down. It looks stupid.” He huffed.

“You’re stupid.” Bakugou countered before he snatched the drink from Kirishima’s hand. “We’re sharing this.” He stated matter-of-factly before he cracked open the lid and took a drink from the coffee. He shoved it into Kirishima’s chest and didn’t pull back until Kirishima took it from him. “And your hair isn’t stupid. It looks better like that than when it’s all spiky and shitty.”

Kirishima frowned around the top of the coffee, trying hard not to focus on the fact that it was still warm from where Bakugou’s lips had touched it. It was like they were indirectly kissing, which was a weird thought that Kirishima blushed at as soon as it came into his mind. “My spikes aren’t shitty, we’ve been over this. They’re almost like yours!”

Bakugou snorted. “Yeah but mine look fucking awesome.”

Kirishima couldn’t help but grin at that, even as Bakugou snatched the can back, mumbling ‘don’t fucking hog it.’ He almost forgot about the little note, until Bakugou reached over and snagged it from where it lay a few paces away from them. He glared at the ball as he handed the coffee back to Kirishima, a concentrated frown on his lips.

“I can’t believe we didn’t catch them,” he sounded angry and annoyed as he rubbed the pad of his thumb along the crinkled edges of the ball. “What a fucking waste of time.”

Kirishima shrugged sheepishly. “I still had fun hanging out with you.”

Bakugou raised an eyebrow and looked at him sideways. Kirishima flushed.

“And Mina,” he hurried to add on, even though the damage had already been done. “You and Mina.” He mumbled.

Bakugou snorted another laugh before he lumbered up to his feet, tugging on his waistband to hike his pants back to their preferred slouching position before he tossed the crumpled-up note into the trashcan. “Yeah well… I guess hanging out with you wasn’t so bad either.”

Kirishima almost didn’t care that his hair was a mess anymore. He was on cloud nine.

 

 

He struggled to pay attention to his lessons that day.

Ashido fell asleep a few times at her desk and she was woken up each time when Aizawa walked by her desk and dropped a textbook next to her head to startle her awake. Kirishima didn’t feel much better off. He struggled to keep his eyes open and he fought hard not to rest his head against his hand, knowing that was a sure-fire way to pass out without meaning to. He found himself glancing at Bakugou every now and then when he felt dangerously close to falling asleep.

Surprisingly, despite the note, there hadn’t been another bottle on Bakugou’s desk that morning. Kirishima’s stomach churned more violently knowing that there hadn’t been one than if there had been one, and he couldn’t help but think it had to do with that text Uraraka had sent Bakugou last night. Had she tracked them down and placed the sticky note on Bakugou’s forehead? Is that why she didn’t leave any tea? Because she and Bakugou were already talking? Maybe she didn’t need to get his attention anymore? But then why would Bakugou agree to sit in the hallway with them if he already knew the secret admirer was Uraraka?

None of it made any sense.

He wished he knew what Uraraka’s handwriting looked like so that he could compare it to the one in the note. He wished he had telepathy, so he could hear her thoughts as she gazed off into the distance, lost in thought in the middle of their lecture. He wished he could peer into Bakugou’s phone and read their texts, like some kind of creep, just so he could satiate the uneasy feeling of not knowing.

But as the bell rang loudly, piercing through his thoughts and signaling for lunch, he had more questions than he had answers, and he didn’t know how much longer he could keep them locked away.

He lumbered to his feet slowly, watching Bakugou out of the corner of his eye as the blonde tossed his legs up onto the table and sunk down deeper into his seat.

“You coming to lunch?” He asked, and only received a vague hand gesture in return.

“’M sleepin’, go away,” Bakugou grumbled tiredly as he rested his chin on his chest and closed his eyes. For a while, Kirishima could only look at him. He was so mellow and calm, so utterly tired and gorgeous. Why did his best friend have to be so attractive?

“Alright, see you later,” he finally forced out. The rest of their classmates had mostly left by now, and he trailed out of the room in their wake, shoving his hands into his pockets and stifling back another yawn.

He rounded the corner towards the cafeteria, the hallways almost empty as the initial lunch rush had already passed, and a smile spread across his lips automatically when he spotted a familiar face a few meters ahead of him. “Hey, Hatsume!”

The girl turned on the heels of her shoes dramatically and a huge smile split across her face at the sight of him. She had a smudge of grease on one of her cheeks and above the opposite eyebrow, but she didn’t seem to mind it so Kirishima didn’t point it out. “Kirishima! How are you? You look… absolutely exhausted.”

Kirishima laughed and tugged at the wrinkles in his shirt self-consciously. “Yeah, had a long night last night. I’m okay though. How are you? Been inventing new babies left and right?”

Hatsume’s grin widened and she padded at the front of her shirt proudly. “Of course! Time doesn’t stop for no man, except maybe for whoever wields my new, totally awesome, incredibly magnificent baby!” And she was off, gesturing wildly and indulging him in all of the nuances and details of her latest invention. Kirishima laughed at her enthusiasm, it was always so contagious, and nodded along, despite his stomach grumbling impatiently for food.

It was in the middle of Hatsume’s frantic gesturing that Kirishima noticed it. He almost hadn’t. It was such a small detail. Almost not worth focusing on. Except that it was.

In Hatsume’s hand, recently purchased from the vending machine behind her, was a bottle of unopened green tea. Ginseng with honey.

Kirishima’s throat tightened unexpectedly and his heart slammed into his ribcage as he forced his eyes to focus on Hatsume’s ecstatic face. He tried to breathe normally, but he felt completely overwhelmed, and his sluggish, tired brain didn’t have the energy to try and help him out. He was totally swept away in his emotions.

Could Bakugou’s secret admirer really be Hatsume?

He supposed it made sense… sort of? Hatsume was brash and unapologetic, both in her ambition to create new and amazing products and in her unwavering confidence in herself and her abilities. She was loud and energetic and didn’t take any shit from anyone, Bakugou included, probably. And she had the green tea in her hands, right this very second. But that didn’t mean anything, right? Maybe Hatsume just happened to like that kind of tea too? It wasn’t like Bakugou was the only person in the world that liked green tea – it was a very popular drink. Most of the vending machines in school had them. Besides, he couldn’t really picture Hatsume leaving little notes with smiley faces on them, and he definitely couldn’t picture her calling anyone cute or anything similar. But still, Kirishima couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that started in his shoulders and shot down his chest and into his stomach.

“Uuuh, Kirishima? Are you okay?” Hatsume blinked at him, stalled in her own ramblings to peer at him curiously. “Woah, you look so pale! You should go see recovery girl. Or I can restart your heart for you!” She dived into her bag, as though ready to pull out a defibrillator or something similar and shock him back to reality.

He grasped at his chest at the very thought and stepped back, holding out his other hand to fend her off if he had to. “No! No no! I’m fine, really, I… I just don’t feel very well today. You’re right, I should go see recovery girl, it was nice talking to you!” He stumbled through his words and scrambled to get away. The hallway around him was tilting precariously and his breaths came out shuttering and loud, even in his own ears. He couldn’t even focus on what Hatsume shouted after him as he crashed his way into the closest bathroom and struggled to pull his phone out of his pocket.

He saw spots dart in front of his eyes as he pulled up his text chat with Ashido.

!!! Emergency !!! Secret Admirer !!!

What?!? Who??? WHERE ARE YOU?!

HATSUME! HATSUME MEI!

WHAT?!?!??

Chapter Text

“Here,” Ashido shoved the piping hot cup of noodles into his limp hands not two seconds after she came bursting into the boys’ bathroom that Kirishima had locked himself away inside fifteen minutes earlier. “What the heck? Hatsume Mei? You really think so?” She wasted no time in locking the door and rounding on him, her eyes greedy for information.

Kirishima pulled the lid back on his cup, ignoring the obvious steam rising from the top, before he scarfed down a huge chunk of noodles. He sputtered a little at the intense heat that bombarded his mouth and taste buds, but he couldn’t force himself to stop – his entire body screamed at him to eat. Ashido watched him with wide eyes, and maybe there was some admiration sparkling in them, as he ravenously chomped on the noodles in his mouth before he finally looked at her again.

“I don’t know…” Kirishima twirled the cup noodles around in his fingers, his tired brain working in over time to try and connect the dots he’d seen previously that had nearly sent him into a mini-freak-out. Now that he was looking for them, though, he was having a harder time of finding them. What was it again that had tipped him off? The… drink? “I just… I had… a feeling!”

Ashido’s shoulders slumped and she looked incredibly unamused by his answer. “Are you kidding? A feeling?” She frowned at him so sternly that it made him grimace in shame before suddenly she reached out and flicked him on the forehead, hard this time, hard enough to actually hurt. “Alright, you’re going to talk to me right now! I’ve been patient enough with you and I’ve held back from saying anything and I’ve given you multiple opportunities to talk to me but I just can’t do this anymore! I don’t want to see you like this!”

Kirishima felt his heart stutter in his chest. He tried to swallow but his scorched throat threatened to close in on itself when he did. He was so tired; so incredibly worn out. He didn’t want to have this conversation right now, but it was already overflowing from him. He’d held everything back for so long, he’d tried to ignore it or deny it for months now, but it was too much for him to handle. He looked down at the floor and felt his face blush with bright blotchy colors. This was too much for him. He couldn’t do it on his own. Not anymore.

“Kiri?” Ashido’s voice was softer now as she reached out and gingerly touched at his red locks, treading her fingers lightly through his hair. It felt nice. He relaxed into it a little. “What the heck is going on with you?”

Kirishima took a deep breath. The cup noodles in his hands felt hot and heavy and he couldn’t tell if his hands were trembling or if he just couldn’t see straight anymore as tears gathered into the corners of his eyes. “I…” he hesitated. He could see Bakugou’s face in the back of his mind. Could see him laughing deliriously late at night while he forced Kirishima to try and take more than two steps in a horror game without yelling and throwing the controller down. Could see his challenging, feral smile as he stared him down during one of their many spars, excitement spilling out of him when Kirishima managed to block one of his advances or fend off one of his heavier explosions. Could feel the weight of his body, leaned against him in the hallway late at night, with his arms wrapped tightly around his waist, overwhelming him with warmth and affection and trust.

“Kiri?” Ashido tried again, even softer still.

“I…” Come on! This was Ashido he was talking to. Forgiving, loving, validating Ashido. She wouldn’t tease him about this. Especially not when she saw how upset he was about it. He could trust her; he knew he could. His brain screamed at him to keep quiet, to shut it all away, don’t do this! But his body pleaded with him, earnestly praying for a release, tell someone. “I… love him…”

The silence that followed his confession was thick. Kirishima could feel his heart pounding painfully in his chest and the tears that had stubbornly clung to his lashes dripped pathetically down his cheeks – two salty, emotional water droplets that raced down his cheeks.

“Wha – “

But now that Kirishima had started, he couldn’t stop. “I love him so much… it hurts Mina. I… I think about him all the time and all I want to do is be around him and make him laugh, be the reason that he’s laughing, and e-everything – “ his voice cracked but he didn’t have it in him to be embarrassed about it. Because Kirishima Eijirou’s pride was small and his love was never-ending, and it was finally spilling out of him now in heavy waves of choked sobs and teary, whispered confessions. “E-everything going on lately has b-been… it’s… I want him to b-be happy but I… I can’t not – “

“Oh my god KIRISHIMA!” Ashido knocked the cup noodles out of his hands and he hardly any fight left in him to care as she threw her arms around his midsection and crushed him with arms that had no business being that strong. “I can’t believe you didn’t say anything! What the… Kiri!”

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima mumbled into the top of her head as he squeezed her back. His chest hurt so bad, his stomach felt tight and his eyes felt raw. He was so tired. Exhausted, even. He was so done fighting this. “I didn’t want to ruin anything…”

Ashido sighed into his chest and the warmth of her breath spread directly over his heart. He squeezed his eyes shut, a few more tears escaping to roll down his cheeks, before he pressed himself into her, grateful to finally have somebody to lean on. “I wish you had said something earlier… I’m so sorry Kiribaby. I would have never…” her hands fisted into the back of his shirt and he could feel her frustration radiating off of her. “I would have never suggested that we… God Kirishima! How could you do that to yourself!”

Kirishima huffed out a laugh, despite how weak he felt. The sun filtering in through the tiny windows of the bathroom made him sleepy. “Because… there was no way…” his voice fell away from him before he could continue.

Ashido pulled back, enough to frown up at his face. There was no where for him to hide; he knew his cheeks were probably blotchy and red, and his eyes were probably raw and tired, and his hair, god, he must really look like a mess. He reached a hand up and tried to rub away the wetness from his cheeks, but it felt more like he was just spreading it around than anything.

“You don’t think he’d…?” Ashido looked at him curiously.

Kirishima bit out another laugh, though this one sounded a little more self-deprecating than he would have liked it to. “C’mon Mina… look at me…” He grumbled miserably.

“Hey!” Ashido frowned harder at him as she detangled herself from his reach completely. “Stop talking about my best friend like that! I’m so sick of it!”

Kirishima blinked in surprise at her sudden outburst, his mouth hanging open a little, but she wasn’t done yet. Apparently, she’d been holding this back just as long as Kirishima had been holding in his confessions, and now that she was talking, it didn’t look like she was going to stop.

“You don’t know anything about Kirishima Eijirou!” She pointed a threatening finger at him. “He is kind and loyal and selfless and he’s an amazing hero with an amazing quirk and he’s downright gorgeous and any man would be lucky to have him to shower them with love and affection! So shut up about him before I acid away all of your precious hair!”

Kirishima balked at her. His heart thrummed happily, and he felt a deep blush creep its way up the back of his neck at her kind words. How did she do that? How could she just look at him and say all the right things that he needed to hear? How was he so lucky to have such an amazing best friend? He wanted to squeeze her, but again, she wasn’t done.

“And if my favorite person in the whole world has a thing for stick-up-his-ass Bakugou Katsuki and that little prickly porcupine doesn’t see what an amazing guy my best friend is, then he isn’t worth shit!”

Kirishima couldn’t help the smile that grew across his face, just as much as he couldn’t help the laugh that had started to bubble up in his chest. She was so small and cute, threatening him with an unwavering gaze and intense, black eyes, despite the obvious pout on her lips. He laughed a little harder, gripping at his aching, hungry stomach, and Ashido tried to keep her face serious by forcing down the smile that loomed to dispel her tough-guy façade into a frown.

“Hey! I’m intimidating someone here! Take me seriously!” She swatted at his shoulder and he laughed even harder. “… You have to tell him, Kiri.”

Kirishima’s laughter ended just as abruptly as it had begun.

He stared down at the ground between his school shoes and he thought about it, he did, just for a little bit. For one brief moment, he allowed himself to indulge in the idea of confessing to Bakugou. He tried to push away all of the doubt and the self-loathing he felt curling away in the depths of his stomach and he tried to imagine what it would be like if he marched right up to Bakugou, looked him straight in his dumb attractively smoldering face, and told him exactly how much he meant to him. Told him how late at night he stayed up thinking about him. Told him how he couldn’t stand just being his friend anymore and that he wanted, no, needed something more.

He tried to imagine what it would be like to hold Bakugou’s hand. He’d already done it before, in a totally different situation where thinking about holding Bakugou’s hand in a romantic sense had been the furthest thing from his mind. But he’d felt it – could feel it now. The coarse callouses along the padding where his fingers met the flesh of his palms. He knew Bakugou sweat a lot, but he had a hard time imagining that he’d care much about something like that. Besides, the sweat that came off of Bakugou’s hands was different than the sweat that came off of Kirishima’s. It was sweet and smelled like burnt sugar. He tried to imagine being able to hug him, maybe even carding his fingers through his soft hair that he’d stared at countless times during their study sessions together.

Maybe… he’d even be allowed to kiss him?

Before the flush of heat could overtake his cheeks and make him look even more like an idiot, he thought about how trusting Bakugou was of him. How close he let Kirishima get. A closeness that he didn’t let anyone else experience. A closeness that was made, carved out of stone and willed into existence, just for him. Could he really throw all of that away on the off-chance, the 1% possibility, the slim gamble that Bakugou might actually like him back?

No.

He had seen it; that raw desperation to push his emotions away when Bakugou had thrown up in the bathroom after receiving that second tea bottle. He’d seen it; in the mortified look Bakugou had given him in that bathroom when, a few minutes later, Kirishima had spoken so fondly of having somebody like him. He’d seen it; in the way Bakugou had gritted his teeth and spat vehemently after his failed exam, I can’t fucking do relationships. I just can’t.

Bakugou wasn’t about to date anybody. He definitely wasn’t about to date Kirishima. Thinking otherwise was only going to sink him further into his own demise.

“I… can’t,” Kirishima mumbled finally. He clenched his hands into tight fists by his sides to try and push away the onslaught of disappointment that threatened to drown him. “You don’t… know the way he talks about it. Relationships and stuff. He… he hates it. He doesn’t want anything to do with it.”

Ashido huffed and crossed her arms over her chest, looking annoyed and unconvinced. “That doesn’t sound very manly of you.”

Kirishima’s head whipped up to look at her with wide, unblinking eyes. “What?” He asked, because he really didn’t know what else to say to that.

Ashido quirked an eyebrow at him. “Aren’t you the one who is always saying that you want to be manly? To live life to the fullest? To do things without having any regrets? Where is that Kirishima? Cause I don’t know who this guy is, talking like he’s failed at something before he’s even given it a try!”

Kirishima blinked at her. And then he blinked at her again.

He frowned and really forced himself to think about her words. She was right, of course. He’d been the exact opposite of manly this whole week. He’d hidden away and refused to help his bro out when this whole thing had started, then he’d practically avoided Bakugou for fear that he’d find out how he really felt about him, and now, here he was, a sniffling, crying wreck in the middle of some random bathroom – all because he thought Bakugou wouldn’t like him. All because he thought Bakugou would be furious with him for even thinking about him in that way. All because he was too afraid to take those few steps out of his comfort zone to just try.

“Look,” Ashido said, yanking him from his thoughts. He hadn’t even realized how desperately he’d been gnawing at his lip until she said something. “You don’t have to say anything right now. You don’t even have to say anything this week. But Kiri, baby, you can’t keep pretending like this hasn’t been affecting you. Do you know how many times I’ve seen you smile this week? Like… only four times! That is unacceptable and I won’t stand for it any longer!”

She straightened her shoulders and looked at him like a general gearing up to lead her army into bloody, dangerous battle. When Kirishima just looked at her, she sighed in exasperation before she smacked her hands onto his shoulders and forced him to straighten up too.

“Now you’re going to clean yourself up, and you’re going to straighten that damn tie because it’s seriously been bugging me all day, and you’re going to come up with a game plan! Got it?”

Kirishima could only find it in himself to nod weakly. He knew she was trying to psych him up, but he couldn’t just ignore the tight bundle of nerves he felt rolling around in his stomach. His whole body felt like it was vibrating with anticipation.

“I can’t hear you!” Ashido yelled at him. “You got this or what?!”

Kirishima jumped as she screamed in his face and he chuckled a little. “Okay, okay, I hear you. I got this.”

“You what?! I think I’m starting to go deaf because I could still barely hear you!”

“Minaaa – “

“WHAT?!”

“I got this!”

“YOU WHAT?!”

“I FUCKING GOT THIS!!”

 

 

He so did not have this.

He stared down at the notebook in front of him with a scowl before he quickly scribbled out another attempt at some semblance of the plan that Ashido kept telling him about. But he didn’t have a plan, he didn’t even know where to start! When would be a good time to bring it up? It seemed like it was never the right time for something like this. And what was he even supposed to say? Any time he thought he might have gotten a better handle on his confidence, he’d spot Bakugou from the other side of the room, and Bakugou would catch eyes with him, and he’d jut his chin out in quiet acknowledgement in the way he only did for Kirishima, a quiet why do you keep looking at me? splattered across his stoic face, and Kirishima would snap his eyes away and his entire confidence would be shattered all over again.

How did people just do this kind of thing?

How did they look someone in the eyes, the person that they’re closest to, and just decide to plunge off into the water without checking how deep it was first? What if it was shallow? What if the force of the landing crippled him forever? He wasn’t very good at analogies but the visual alone of leaping off a mountain top and breaking both his legs in the shallow waters below was enough to make him groan out loud.

“The fuck is wrong with you today?” Bakugou slammed down into the seat next to him at the table in the common area of the dorms.

Kirishima yelped and slapped his notebook shut before he quickly shoved it away into his bag. Totally inconspicuously. Definitely not suspiciously. “N-nothing! Just super tired from last night I guess,” he let out a laugh that he hoped didn’t sound as awkward as it felt coming out of his throat.

Bakugou raised an eyebrow at him. He leaned back into his chair with his knee pressed into the side of the table until he was balancing on the two back legs and he crossed his arms over his chest, wrinkling the front of his shirt and exposing his collarbones. His lips were drawn into a tight line of concentration and his red eyes sized Kirishima up like he was debating something.

“What, uh, what’s up with you?” Kirishima tried to sound casual as he struggled to remember what homework he was supposed to be working on. It looked like… math, maybe? It was so hard to tell with Bakugou’s eyes on him.

Bakugou grunted and let the chair fall back down onto all fours. “You and raccoon-eyes find any more leads?” He asked instead, ignoring Kirishima’s question all together.

Kirishima felt his shoulders stiffen, against his better judgement. “Uhhh…” he tried to think about what he wanted to say to that. Technically, Hatsume was still on his list, despite Ashido’s blatant disregard for her when he had tried to explain to her the circumstances that had led him into his hazed panic. She didn’t think Hatsume had time for boys, and he supposed she was right, but he couldn’t completely cross her off the list, right? “Um… maybe Hatsume Mei?”

Bakugou looked at him with an unchanging expression. “Who?”

Kirishima laughed at that, he couldn’t really help it. It was incredible how narrow-sighted Bakugou was sometimes. He could hardly remember the names of their classmates, let alone anyone else in the school. “Uh, we met her at the sports festival? She designs a bunch of stuff? She went up against Iida and then lost on purpose after she displayed all her gadgets?”

Bakugou quirked an eyebrow. “Oh. She’s… something.”

Something. Was that good or bad? Was that the shimmering of interest or just blatant surprise? Was it a good kind of surprise? The unexpected but appreciated surprise? Kirishima couldn’t stop the words from bubbling out of his throat; Ashido’s yells of encouragement forcing something inside of him – his will to be manly and unafraid and unwavering. “Would you be happy if it was her?”

Bakugou’s face dissolved into an agitated scowl. “Fuck no,” he said gruffly. He leaned back in his chair again and chewed on the inside of his cheek and Kirishima tried not to show it as he exhaled the biggest sigh of relief he ever thought he’d ever exhale.

“Oh.” Come on. Say it. Say something. He’s right here. You’re right here. You guys are all alone. Just say it! “Who do you want it to be?” Okay, that wasn’t… quite right. But he was getting somewhere. He was asking questions. Questions with answers that he was afraid of hearing, but he was doing it anyway, and with each question that came out, the next one got a little easier. This was Bakugou he was talking to. Yeah, they usually only talked about surface level things and yeah, their friendship hadn’t really organically flowed in this direction before, but he could talk to Bakugou and Bakugou could talk to him. They were friends. Best friends.

… Maybe… even more?

Bakugou sniffed loudly as he gazed around the room. “I don’t fucking know,” he said, and he reached a hand up to scratch angrily at the back of his head. Suddenly his red eyes landed expectantly on Kirishima and he glared, that same intense, accusatory expression on his face that he’d given him in the bathroom on that day that felt like several years ago. “Who do you want it to be?”

Kirishima blinked in surprise at that. He hadn’t really expected Bakugou to ask him such a question. He’d never even really thought about it before. He’d spent so much of his time thinking about who he didn’t want it to be that he hadn’t even thought about who he wished it could be.

“Mineta,” he said, without hesitation.

The room fell silent. And then –

Bakugou howled with laughter. He cackled into his elbow, scrunching his face away as though desperately trying to hide how hilarious he found that comment, and in the frantic shaking of his shoulders, his chair tipped further backwards than he could balance it until he was falling and sprawled out on the ground with a hefty oof.

Kirishima sputtered out a laugh then, watching Bakugou’s face transform from hilarity, to shock, and then crumble back into jagged laughter. Kirishima watched him grip at his stomach and roll on the ground, pounding a fist against the carpet and choking out curses and half-hearted death threats on Mineta’s life if it turned out that he was Bakugou’s secret admirer.

If Kirishima was braver, he probably would have said something right then and there, as he gazed fondly at the way Bakugou’s entire body shook with the force of his laughter.

If he was stronger, he probably would have said something right then and there, as Bakugou pointed at him and said through thick tears, you better fucking hope you’re wrong.

If he wasn’t so afraid of losing this, he probably would have said something right then and there, as Bakugou lumbered back up to his feet and straightened his chair before he clapped a rough hand on Kirishima’s shoulder and shook his head at the absurdity of it all.

But he wasn’t. So he didn’t.

Not yet, his brain whispered cautiously.

Then when? His body responded desperately.

 

 

“It’s not Hatsume,” Ashido said confidently.

Kirishima looked up from his dinner and eyed her curiously. They had been the first two to arrive in the cafeteria, and their little section of the table that was usually reserved for the bakusquad and any of their honorary members (Jirou, Tokoyami, etc) was empty. Kaminari had texted him a bit ago saying he and Sero would be late because they were busy trying to tape Hagakure up like a mummy to scare Momo, and Bakugou had told him that the only time he could reserve for the gym that day was during dinner so he wouldn’t be joining them.

For now, it was just the two of them, and they could talk as freely as they wanted.

“How do you know?” He asked, though he supposed his moment of panic that he had discovered who Bakugou’s secret admirer was had been satiated long before Ashido confirmed it. He’d been tired, and jumpy, and he felt a little embarrassed at how easily he’d fallen apart in the bathroom. But his moment with Bakugou earlier had settled the uneasy churning of his stomach and he’d gotten an hour or two nap in before dinner, so he was feeling much better.

Ashido shrugged. “I asked her if she liked him, she asked who he was, I told her, she laughed.” She shrugged again, as if to emphasize her point as she shoveled a spoonful of rice pudding into her mouth. “It’s definitely not her.” She mumbled around her mouthful.

Kirishima nibbled on his lip. “Okay… so who is it not?” The questions; they all flowed easier now. It was like a dam had been broken somewhere in his resolve and he felt rejuvenated, almost. Like he knew the answers to all of these questions might hurt him in the end, but he was unbreakable, damn it! He could take it!

Ashido seemed to be thinking along the same lines as him. “You sure you want to talk about it? We don’t have to. I just thought you’d like to know that it definitely wasn’t Hatsume.”

Kirishima busied himself with scarfing down the last bits of his curry before he wiped his mouth with a napkin and looked back up at her. “I want to talk about it,” he said, perhaps a bit more confidently than he felt, but still feeling very sure of himself. “Bakugou was really upset about it. And whoever it is, they’re still suffering with this too, just like I am. I want to find out who it is.” And he meant it this time, which was a relief.

Ashido smiled at him. She looked proud. “Well, it’s not Tsuyu. I asked her when this whole thing started. And it’s not Jirou, apparently she has her eye on… someone else.” Ashido stopped herself just before she definitely over-indulged him with information that he wasn’t privy to know. He didn’t mind though. He had a feeling he already knew who it was. “Momo pretty much laughed in my face when I asked her, so it’s not her, either.”

Kirishima frowned a little. “Have you only been asking the girls?”

The scraping of Ashido’s spoon along her bowl stopped abruptly and her head snapped up to look at him. “Oh my god… yes!” She practically yelled. “I… I don’t know why I did that.” Her cheeks flushed a deep red that contrasted against the pink of her skin. “That was really assuming of me, I definitely should have – “

Kirishima laughed at her apparent distress. Ashido was always so considerate, this revelation was probably earth-shattering for her. “It’s okay Mina. We don’t even know if…” he faltered, but only a little, before he forced himself on. “We don’t even know if he’s gay. And if we don’t know then definitely nobody else in the school would know. It’s probably a girl.”

She didn’t look completely convinced, but she nodded anyway. “So it wasn’t Hatsume, or Tsuyu, or Jirou, or Momo, and it wasn’t Hagakure because she’s so desperately in love with Ojiro it’s a surprise he hasn’t noticed yet.” Kirishima didn’t tell her that he hadn’t noticed it either and instead continued to nod along. “And Bakugou was certain that it wasn’t Uraraka, and it definitely wasn’t me!” Ashido frowned. “And that’s… all the girls in our class.”

Kirishima nodded thoughtfully as he took a slow drink from his lukewarm chamomile tea. “Okay, so, it wasn’t anyone from our class. But remember what Tetsu said? The girls in his class talk about Bakugou all the time. Maybe it’s one of them?”

“Hmm,” Ashido rested her elbows on the table and pressed her hands against her cheeks, puffing them up and squishing them together, her brow furrowing down into deep concentration. She looked like Kirby, though Kirishima didn’t say so. “Well, who do we know in Tetsu’s class? I can’t imagine it would be Kendo or Shiozaki.”

“And it’s not Kodai or Komori, they both have boyfriends, I think,” Kirishima said, not quite sure where he’d learned that knowledge from. Probably Kaminari. He knew all the girls that had boyfriends in the school so that he could keep his distance from them because, as he put it, he wasn’t about to get beat up just cause they couldn’t handle his overwhelming charisma.

“Who is left?” Ashido squinted, like she was thinking really hard. “Tsunotori and Tokage? Yanagi…?”

Kirishima rubbed his fingers against the temples of his forehead. This was harder than homework. “I don’t recognize any of those names,” he grumbled down at the table. Ashido rapped her knuckles against the spot between his elbows and forced him to look up again, but she wasn’t looking at him. Her eyes were trained on something over his shoulder.

After a moment, he glanced around to follow her line of sight.

“Over there, a few tables back from the entrance. Next to Tetsu is Tokage, and on the other side of her is Tsunotori. And then down at the end there is Yanagi, with the silver hair.” Ashido supplied.

Kirishima blinked around until his eyes narrowed in on Tetsu, and then on the girls sitting around him. He recognized them, vaguely, and now that Ashido had pointed them out, he could definitely place the names with each girl. Something inside of him rumbled uncomfortably. “It’s one of them,” he said, and this time, he was certain.

This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision like it had been with Hatsume and her bottle of tea, or an insecurity taking form in the shape of Uraraka slipping out of Bakugou’s dorm room. This was a fact. A conclusion come about by deductive reasoning. Class 1-B was right by class 1-A. Whoever had been leaving the green tea bottles had been sneaking in earlier than the rest of them, but it wouldn’t be much of an inconvenience if their classrooms were right next to each other. And whoever had a crush on Bakugou obviously knew about him, so they must pass by him regularly, maybe even daily.

Ashido nodded, she must have come to the same conclusion, and her eyes looked positively predatory as she gazed at the three girls in question. “Tsunotori, Tokage, or Yanagi,” she listed off, eyeing each of them as she did. “But which one is our secret admirer? And how do we catch her? We’re going to need proof.”

Kirishima didn’t know, but his chest tightened with something that felt like steadfast determination.

 

 

By the time Kirishima flopped down onto his bed after dinner, he was totally and completely exhausted.

The nap he’d taken earlier made him feel a little more human, a little more comprehensive, but his body was still sore from sleeping on the ground and then having to endure a whole day of hero training, and his eyes felt dry and raw. He lay on top of his sheets in his crumpled uniform, knowing he should change and yet wanting nothing more than to drift off to sleep. He stifled a yawn into his pillow.

He thought about texting Bakugou and letting him know how close they were to figuring out his secret admirer, but even the idea of lifting himself up to search for his phone felt far too draining. He resigned himself to remaining where he was with his dorm room lights still on.

Before they’d parted ways at the elevator, Ashido had asked him if he’d said anything to Bakugou yet. He knew she was curious, her rom-com radar was probably close to breaking at this point, but he wished she hadn’t asked about it. Though he felt a little better about his feelings towards Bakugou, and he knew he’d have to tell the blonde how he felt eventually or else he might not make it to graduation to even become a hero, a small part of him was still holding himself back.

He loved Bakugou. Or… maybe love was a strong word, they were still only sixteen after all, and what even was love anyway? But when he thought about Bakugou, he got warm all over, and when he fantasized about being with him, all he could picture was Bakugou’s roaring, slightly off-putting laugh and his chest squeezed even at the dull memory of it, because truly the memory paled in comparison to the real thing. If wanting to make someone laugh and smile for the rest of their life wasn’t love, then what was?

But… they were young.

Even if, by some miracle of something greater than himself, Bakugou liked him back, the odds of them staying together after graduation, or even making it that far, were so very slim. Was it really worth it to give up his newly confirmed tight-knit friendship for just a few months of kissing him? Could he really push aside all of his insecurity and guilt long enough to even enjoy those few months before they were gone and nothing but a dull memory too?

And, of course, there was always the possibility that Bakugou just… didn’t swing that way.

Which was fine, of course. Kirishima knew his sexuality wasn’t something that could be persuaded, even if Bakugou considered him to be his only friend; the only person in the world worthy enough to have such a title. None of that mattered if Bakugou didn’t find him attractive, right?

Kirishima screamed into his pillow. Why was this so hard?

In all of the stupid k-dramas and rom-coms he’d watched with Ashido, everything seemed to happen so organically. Best friends who spent a romantic night on the beach together and fell in love, or strangers who, uh-oh, had to share a single bed in a hotel room. Something coincidental always made it happen so that neither of them really had to talk about it. Nobody had to make awkward confessions to their best friend, in the rush before classes or the lull before training, not knowing whether or not the other person was even interested in them, let alone interested in dating at all.

A dull thud outside his door made Kirishima’s thoughts grind to a halt.

With a frown, he lifted his head out of his pillow and turned to gaze at his door. Had he imagined it? No, there was definitely somebody whispering curses outside of his room. Kirishima dragged his tired body out of bed and stumbled over to the door before he cracked it open and peeked out into the hallway.

He gazed down at Tokoyami in confusion and Tokoyami gazed up at him in absolute horror. And there, on the ground, was a tipped-over tray of chocolate covered chilis, scattered across the carpet.

Kirishima’s mouth fell open and Tokoyami’s eyes widened even further.

He held up a hand, as though to ward Kirishima off like a spirit, and he shook his head quickly from left and right. “No, no, truly, I cannot stress enough how much this is not what it looks like.”

Kirishima blinked at him, completely frozen to the spot, before he slowly opened his door a little wider and looked down at the chilis on the ground. His brain felt like it had been short-circuited by Kaminari’s quirk and he felt his mouth moving even though none of the words he desperately wanted to say would come out.

This was… unexpected.

Before Kirishima could remember how to talk again, and before Tokoyami could gather himself together enough to say anything more, Bakugou’s door flung open and both of them jumped and turned their startled gazes onto him.

Bakugou’s red eyes took a sweeping glance at the scene in front of him. First, his eyes landed on Tokoyami, sprawled out on the ground in just a pair of boxers and a white t-shirt, and he looked like he might scoff and laugh, until he noticed the upturned tray on the ground. His face slowly shifted from humorous to deadly, and Tokoyami turned his raised hands of surrender from Kirishima to Bakugou.

“Truly, really, very much so, I cannot stress to you the misunderstanding that this is.”

Finally, Bakugou’s eyes swiveled to look at Kirishima, with an intensity so harsh and full of… fear? Kirishima frowned and his eyebrows pulled together. Why did Bakugou look so… freaked out? Sure, it was… surprising and very very unexpected, but Bakugou looked like Kirishima being there to witness this was worse than what was actually happening in front of them.

“Uh, whatcha doin there, Tokoyami?” Kirishima finally broke the silence. He turned to look down at his other classmate; any excuse to get away from Bakugou’s unsettling expression.

Tokoyami slowly got back up to his feet, straightening out his shirt and pointedly avoiding locking eyes with him. “I can assure you that I am not Bakugou’s admirer,” he was quick to say again and Kirishima thought he saw his shoulders shudder at the confession. “I am merely playing messenger.”

Bakugou’s scowl hardened and the few dregs of horror and shock that had been on his face quickly vanished as he finally, finally, looked away from Kirishima and gave Tokoyami a murderous glare that, if it were anyone else besides the boy who literally had a demon inside of him, probably would have run away from. “You’ve got about 10 seconds to explain yourself, bird-man.”

Tokoyami glared right back at him. “Don’t call me that.”

“9.” Bakugou warned, but it was the pops and crackles that elicited from his palms that really got his point across.

Tokoyami sighed and rubbed at his beak, looking tired, before he straightened his shoulders. “I took my lunch outside today to enjoy the weather.” Kirishima decided not to comment on the fact that it had rained during lunch that day. “I walked away from my books and bag to throw my leftovers away and there it was.” He gazed down at the tray like it had personally attacked multiple of his family members. “It had a note on it. Someone was asking me to deliver it to you.” He glanced at Bakugou, who crossed his arms over his chest and glowered even harder. “I knew you would not take kindly to it, so I struggled to decide when to… deliver it to you. I thought you would be asleep – “

“I fucking was asleep.”

“ – but then I dropped it and Kirishima came out and… well,” Tokoyami grimaced. “The rest is now a horrible part of history.”

“Where’s the note?” Bakugou demanded.

Tokoyami nodded and hurried away back to his room, presumably to go and retrieve the aforementioned note. Kirishima gripped his hands into fists and stared down at the abandoned treats on the ground in front of them. They looked homemade, which made his stomach clench uncomfortably. Tsunotori, Tokage, Yanagi. He repeated those three names over and over again in his head, picturing each girl’s face as he did so. Tsunotori looked like the baking type…

“Tch,” Bakugou’s sound of derision broke Kirishima out of his thoughts and he blinked back to reality to see the blonde had bent down to examine the discarded chocolates. His face was surprisingly smooth as he ran tense fingers along his forehead and gazed down at, but didn’t touch, the mess of offered snacks. He looked contemplative again, like he had when he’d forced his way into Kirishima’s room only to find Ashido asleep on his bed last weekend.

“Your secret admirer really knows you,” Kirishima said, because the air felt tense and he couldn’t stand the silence that had overlapped them since Tokoyami’s disappearance.

Bakugou swiveled around on the balls of his feet to look at him, still crouched with his elbows resting his knees. “I guess they do.” He agreed, and Kirishima was taken aback by how easily he did so. Bakugou hated to agree with others.

He was staring at him now, red eyes locked onto him, and Kirishima shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He was incredibly aware of the horrible state of his hair and the rumpled fabric of his shirt and slacks, and Bakugou must be able to see the redness in his eyes from lack of sleep and tears. He wanted to say something more, to break up the silence that threatened to overtake them again, and he found himself wishing for the first time that Bakugou was yelling or screaming or exploding something like he usually was.

But, perhaps for the first time in his entire life, Bakugou was quiet and calculating and stony as his eyes flickered from Kirishima’s forehead all the way down to his socks and back up again. He opened his mouth, eyes suddenly alight with challenge and determination, when Tokoyami appeared in front of them once more as if he’d just emerged straight from the shadows themselves. Bakugou snapped his mouth shut, glared at Kirishima as though he’d planned for Tokoyami to interrupt him, before he shot back up to his feet and snagged at the note hanging limply in Tokoyami’s outstretched hand.

Kirishima watched him read it with growing anticipation. He wanted to ask what it said, but something about Bakugou’s gaze had kept him rooted to the spot, unable to speak.

After another moment of the worst silence Kirishima had ever endured, Bakugou crumpled the note up into a ball, sniffed indifferently, and glanced at Tokoyami. “You can go.” He dismissed him. Tokoyami didn’t complain, however, as he turned on his heels and practically flew down the hall and disappeared into the stairwell again to go back to his room.

Bakugou turned away from the dropped tray, completely ignoring the mess all together, and started to go back towards his room and it seemed like that would be the end of it. Kirishima tried to keep his movements calm and slow as he reached for his own door to shut it again, but he stopped mid-reach when he caught Bakugou’s intense gaze looking at him from his doorway.

Bakugou raised a finger and beckoned him, his eyes unwavering and his voice stern and tight as he demanded, “Inside. Now.”

Kirishima’s heart stopped.

Chapter Text

So, this was how Kirishima was going to die.

Turns out he wouldn’t even have to worry about making it to graduation because he was about to die at the hands of his unrequited love. That’s fine. It was a pretty manly way to go, if he really thought about it. Tokoyami would probably write brooding poetry about how his burning love finally scorched too hot until he literally exploded from it – or got exploded for it. Maybe Jirou would even sing tales of the hulking idiot who dared to venture too close to the lion’s den before he was mercilessly eaten until nothing but a chewed-on femur bone remained. He had a few solid months of friendship with Bakugou, so really, this was probably more than he could ever ask for.

After what felt like years, Kirishima’s legs finally unfroze themselves and he followed Bakugou’s retreating figure into the darkness of his dorm.

The only light on was the desk lamp. It cast the room in an ominous, recently disturbed slumber kind of glow, and Kirishima tried not to focus on the way Bakugou closed the door behind them and leaned his back against it, eyeing him through the dark of the shadows. Normally, he wouldn’t have much of a problem catapulting himself down onto Bakugou’s bed, but something about the intense way his best friend was gazing at him, and something about the way the air felt heavy and thick and expectant, and something about the way his chest squeezed so tightly he thought he might forget how to breathe made him think that the desk chair was a much more suitable location for him.

He sat down and only let his eyes skim over to the windowsill for a brief moment. The green tea bottle was still there. It still looked just as innocent, just as serene, and it was still unopened. The fact that it even remained there at all was probably some form of a miracle in itself. Acknowledged, no matter how stubbornly, but not accepted, yet.

There was a metaphor in there somewhere about himself that Kirishima was far too tired to try and piece together in that moment.

He looked away from that damn bottle and trained his eyes back onto Bakugou. The blonde pressed back into his door with his arms crossed over his chest. He looked a little sour, maybe a little moody from being unceremoniously woken up, but his overall demeanor remained the same. Stiff but determined, uncomfortable but assertive; Bakugou wanted to have a talk about something, but for the life of him, Kirishima couldn’t figure out what he could want to talk about.

“Well?” Bakugou asked expectantly. One of his eyebrows quirked up in curiosity and his eyes narrowed the longer the silence stretched between them.

Kirishima nodded along, because what else was he supposed to do? “Well… what’s up? Why did you want me to come in here?”

Bakugou blinked at him like he couldn’t believe Kirishima had the audacity to not know what this was all about. “Are you fucking joking?”

Kirishima thought it was obvious that he wasn’t. He shrugged and the action was difficult to accomplish with his tired, sluggish body. “Not this time. I’m really, really exhausted, dude.”

Bakugou’s hands balled into tight fists on his biceps. “Fucking so am I,” he grumbled, and he glared even harder. He was starting to look angry – like the thin layer of patience that he’d somehow managed to stitch together in the hallway that had kept him from freaking out on Tokoyami like he normally would have was starting to wear off. “So let’s make this fucking quick. You got something to tell me or what?”

Kirishima’s whole body stiffened at those words and his eyes glanced at the green tea bottle again as if on their own merit.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m fucking talking about,” Bakugou confirmed something that Kirishima still hadn’t put the pieces together to. He couldn’t be talking about Kirishima’s… feelings, right? Had Ashido said something to him after they’d parted ways at the elevator? No, she wouldn’t do that. She might want him to hurry up and get it over with already, but she wouldn’t betray him like that. She would let him take his time with it, because it was a big deal, something that shouldn’t be rushed, right?

“I don’t… understand,” Kirishima frowned and he looked back at Bakugou. “I mean, we figured out a few more leads, maybe, but we don’t know anything for certain yet, so I wasn’t going to say anything until – “

Bakugou barked out a laugh. A rough, tired, strained laugh that dissolved into the air in an unsettling way just as quickly as it had arrived. “You don’t understand?” He asked, and he sounded annoyed, like it wasn’t commonplace for Kirishima not to understand something.

Kirishima lifted a hand and pinched at the bridge of his nose. In the silence of the room, he could feel his heart hammering away desperately inside his chest. His body was screaming at him, do it now, do it now! But even he knew, in his sleep-deprived state, that now was not the time. Bakugou was angry, furious even. It rolled off of him in waves, and yet, he wasn’t yelling. Wasn’t yelling because he was angry with Kirishima, of all people, and Bakugou always tried to contain himself when he was directing his unyielding anger at Kirishima. He had to figure out what was going on, and soon. His poor exhausted mind didn’t know how much more of this he could take while running on snatched hours of sleep and stale convenience store bought canned coffee.

Bakugou pushed away from the door and the movement caused Kirishima to drop his hand back down into his lap. When his eyes settled on the boy again, Bakugou had moved over to lean back against his bed, staring directly over the table between them and right into Kirishima’s very soul. He gestured towards the door with one hand, “Fucking weird, isn’t it?” He started, like he was painstakingly dropping down breadcrumbs for Kirishima’s groggy mind to try and follow. “Chocolate, covered, chilis,” he accentuated each word carefully, dangerously.

Kirishima nodded. “They must see you eating them all the time or something. We think – “

“Fucking weird,” Bakugou interrupted him, and he gestured towards the green tea bottle on the windowsill with his other hand. Kirishima tried not to look at it. He tried to keep his eyes trained on Bakugou’s. He tried not to waver. “Ginseng with honey, my favorite goddamn drink.”

Kirishima nodded again, slower this time. Something nudged at him but he was too uncertain to think about what it could be. “I mean… you carry those things around with you all the time, right? Maybe – “

“Oh my fucking god, are we really going to do this?” Bakugou snapped.

Kirishima jumped at the sheer volume of his voice. They’d been practically whispering up until now, but it seemed like Bakugou’s timer on his patience had officially run out. “I don’t – “

“Understand?” Bakugou snarled, flashing white teeth. “Neither do I, Kirishima, so cut this shit out. What the heck is with all of this crap?” He gestured out with both hands now, to the tea bottle and the door, where the chocolate covered chilis lay in an abandoned heap on the floor, slowly melting away into the carpet. Acknowledged but not accepted.

Kirishima blinked up at him. “I…” He didn’t know what to say. What was Bakugou looking for? What reaction was he hoping to spur out of him? Did he think Kirishima had already figured out who the secret admirer was and was keeping it from him like some kind of game? Ashido had teased him about it in the hallway last night, but he assumed Bakugou would know them better than that to know that it was all just jokes. They wouldn’t actually hide anything from him, especially not something like this, especially not Kirishima. “We think it might be someone from 1B,” he offered helplessly.

Bakugou sighed so loudly it was a wonder he didn’t blow himself away as he ran frustrated hands up and down the sides of his face, pressed into his eyes and then wracked shaking fingers through his messy hair. “You don’t say,” he said, sounding incredibly unenthusiastic and unamused and tense. “Well, I think it’s someone from 1A,” he challenged.

Kirishima balked at that. “You do? Who? Not Tokoyami, right? I mean, he clearly was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and – “

“Do you think I’m a goddamn idiot?” Bakugou interrupted him with a loud shout, again. Kirishima bristled. Why did he keep doing that?

“Obviously not,” Kirishima said. “I – “ and then it clicked. It solidified in his head and he felt his whole body straighten like a rope snatched tight when it finally dawned on him. Bakugou thought that he was the secret admirer. The room started to tilt, just a little bit, and it was all Kirishima could do to squeak out, “Bakugou… I’m not your secret admirer.”

It felt like a lie. A filthy, horrible goddamn lie.

Really, he was kind of like a secret admirer, wasn’t he? He spent so much of their time studying together just staring at him out of the corner of his eye, and he did know a lot of little, mundane things about Bakugou that other people probably hadn’t put together merely because other people weren’t looking hard enough.

He was secretly in love with his best friend, and wasn’t that pretty much what being a secret admirer was all about?

But… he hadn’t been the one to give Bakugou the tea or the chocolates, so even if it felt like a lie, even if the words shook slightly as he forced them out, he knew that it wasn’t.

He watched every emotion under the sun flit across Bakugou’s face in the span of a few seconds as the silence settled in around them again. First there was confusion, in the form of a slightly opened mouth and a crooked brow. Then there was anger, as his lips snapped shut and tilted into a little snarl of apprehension and growing uncertainty. Then there was red-faced, wide-eyed embarrassment, before finally, Bakugou fell back onto his bed, completely breaking eye contact and seemingly putting a very sudden end to his tiresome interrogation.

Kirishima blinked over at him, marveling at the very idea of it all.

Bakugou had thought that Kirishima was his secret admirer. Did that mean that… Bakugou knew about how Kirishima felt about him? He’d always thought that he’d done such a good job at hiding his true feelings away; buried deep beneath the surface under the pretense of manly brotherhood and hero camaraderie.

When did Bakugou start to think that it was Kirishima? They had snuck out together to sit in the hallways to catch whoever it was, so it couldn’t have been him then, right? And yet, Bakugou had looked so certain, so exasperated by Kirishima’s futile attempts to grasp the situation at hand. He must have assumed that he had some kind of solid proof, evidence that found Kirishima guilty of the crime, but…

“Of course you aren't,” Bakugou grumbled, sounding even angrier and more frustrated than before. He was rubbing his face with his hands again and the sweet smell of nitroglycerin had started to fill the space between them. Bakugou was sweating. A lot. “You’re just fucking like that with everybody.” He mumbled into the palms of his hands as he pressed them down, squeezing calloused fingertips into the bones under his brows.

Kirishima frowned a little. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He tried not to feel hurt. He didn’t act the way he acted with Bakugou with just anyone. He didn’t act the way he acted with Bakugou with anybody. Nobody else made him feel so seen and yet so overlooked. Nobody else made him feel like he was constantly on the edge of revealing some deep, devastating secret every time he opened his mouth to compliment the blonde on his workout, or his ultimate moves, or his physique. Nobody made him feel the way Bakugou made him feel.

Bakugou lifted his hands and turned his head enough to glare at him. “It means you don’t know how to keep your fucking hands to yourself, dumbass.”

Now, Bakugou had a habit of calling Kirishima every name under the sun. Lame, idiot, fucker, dumbass. It was never said with anything other than subtly masked fondness or the exasperation of a friend who had heard too many puns in a three minute time-span. But this time, he spat the word as if it was poison on his tongue that Kirishima himself had placed there and it set Kirishima’s teeth on edge.

This Bakugou Katsuki was the one he liked the least.

The Bakugou who was angry and volatile, who turned on him as though he were just some other random extra and not his best friend. As though Kirishima hadn’t been the one to sit in his room for several weeks after Kamino and calm him down after every nightmare. As though Kirishima hadn’t been the one to train with him every day, even after they’d had tough hero training, so that he could make sure that Bakugou didn’t overdo it and hurt himself. As though Kirishima hadn’t been the one to brave the storm that was Bakugou Katsuki’s furious, all-encompassing temper in an attempt to befriend him, because everybody needed friends, right?

Kirishima sighed and slowly got to his feet. “I’m going to bed,” he said, feeling defeated before the fight had even really begun.

“Fucking fine,” Bakugou said, but he got up at the same time. They stood across the table from each other, glaring as though the other one had been the one to start the fight. When Bakugou didn’t say anything else, Kirishima started for the door. He’d just been about to grab the handle and make quite the dramatic exit, door slamming and all, it was going to very passionate, when Bakugou’s voice stopped him in his tracks. “What the fuck was that alien doing in your bed?”

The questions. Those damn questions. They flowed so freely now.

“What was Uraraka doing in your room?” Kirishima didn’t turn around. He didn’t think he could handle what truths might be pouring out of Bakugou’s face right now. He was much more expressive when he was tired, and angry, and right now he was both, and Kirishima was so very weak.

“What the fuck?” Bakugou gasped, astounded almost. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Kirishima gripped the door handle harder. “What does Mina being in my room have to do with anything?” He shot back. He felt like there was an odd tension in the room, outside of the regular tension that came with having a fight. Kirishima’s confessions sat heavy in his throat, waiting for the right moment to betray him and bubble to the surface, and Bakugou seemed like he wanted to say something, with the way he was extending this argument well past the usual time that he allowed for these things to stretch on.

“I don’t fucking like it,” Bakugou stated simply.

Kirishima laughed, but he didn’t find the situation all that funny. “It’s not really up for you to decide how I treat my friends.”

Silence.

And then, “Might as well just fuck them all at this point.”

Kirishima sneered and turned so fast he got a headrush. He really hadn’t drank enough water today, he felt dehydrated and slow. He wasn’t in any condition to have a rational argument right now, but that didn’t stop the words from coming out of his mouth, because he truly must be an idiot. “What the hell is your problem? First you accuse me of being your secret admirer and now you’re all pissed because of how close I am with my friends? What? Are you jealous or something?” As soon as he said it, he wished he could take it back.

The look on Bakugou’s face was a mix of humiliation and murder. And it was red. So very red.

He lunged.

Kirishima had just enough time to harden his upper body, expecting an explosion, but Bakugou’s strong arm only snagged around his neck and forced him to bend at the waist, and he squeezed his biceps threateningly as he corralled him into a tight headlock. Kirishima grabbed at his waist with one hand and tried to shove his arm off with the other, but Bakugou only tightened his hold on him, gritting his teeth and sneering. The two scrapped for a moment, the only sound filling the room was the few kicks that Kirishima aimed and missed, knocking against the bedframe or the table, and Bakugou’s low grunts anytime Kirishima’s elbow dug into his side.

“Let me go dude!” Kirishima yelled.

“Fuck you!” Bakugou retorted.

Kirishima finally wiggled a hand in between Bakugou’s bicep and his throat and he shoved with everything he had in him. Bakugou’s arm loosened its death grip and Kirishima bulldozed into him before he could regain his hold. They teetered for what felt like an eternity before collapsing on top of the table, cracking the legs and breaking it as they landed in a pile on the floor with the splintered wood. In Bakugou’s daze, Kirishima looped his arms under his shoulders and pulled him down so his back was pressed into his chest and he locked his fingers together at the back of his head, effectively making him arms useless.

Bakugou struggled. He wasn’t one to give up. He kicked his feet out, sending a discarded table leg flying at his desk chair, which rattled cartoonishly, and he tried to grab at Kirishima’s head, fingers gripping for hair, but Kirishima kept his chin lifted and just out of reach. He could tell Bakugou was tired by the way he panted and struggled haphazardly. This wasn’t one of his calculated attacks, and even now as he labored against Kirishima’s hardened chest, he wasn’t thinking straight. This was all raw emotion and pure exhaustion and Kirishima tightened his hold on him, waiting for the blonde to tire himself out.

“Dude, relax, please,” he grunted as Bakugou gave one more hefty lurch in an attempt to break free before finally falling still.

They laid on the heap of dismantled wood and Bakugou clutched at Kirishima’s forearms locking his shoulders into place and rendering his arms completely ineffective. Kirishima was having a hard time catching his breath and he closed his eyes and tried to steady himself. Despite the soreness around his neck, it felt good to fight. Better to fight than to think. He took a deep breath and let it stutter out of him between hurried gasps.

“What the hell man,” Kirishima finally got out.

Bakugou grunted and swung a useless arm backward again, trying to make some form of contact with his fist and missing completely. “Fucker,” Bakugou spat back. His head tilted forward, so far low that his chin dug into his chest, and he pointedly didn’t look at him.

Truly, it was the worst time for a confession. Mina would be appalled by his lack of romantic tact. But Kirishima’s timing had never been that great and honestly, he was too exhausted to care about any stupid plan. “I like you.”

Bakugou froze immediately. Kirishima could feel the hurried rise and fall of his chest against his elbows and how rigid the back of his neck went against Kirishima’s clasped hands. The silence threatened to overtake them, so Kirishima kept talking, because really at this point he wasn’t sure if he could stop himself even if he wanted to.

“I like you dude… a lot. More than friends probably should. But I didn’t send you that stuff. I wouldn’t do that to you. I know how much you hate it. I know how uncomfortable you get. I’m sorry, okay?” Kirishima tried to push back the tears that threatened to overpower him as they gathered into the corners of his eyes. This was it. Everything was about to come crashing down. All his careful evasion, all of his afternoon spent planning the perfect moment, all of his effort to conceal and to hide, it was all about to be thrown out the window. He’d have to look Ashido in the eye tomorrow and tell her that he’d ruined everything, just like he’d been so afraid of doing. “I’m sorry… I tried to… ignore it and everything…” he didn’t even know why he was still talking.

Was Bakugou even hearing him? Sure, he was silent and listening, but was he hearing?

Bakugou struggled against him again, trying to break free, and this time Kirishima let him go. The crashing waves of disappointment and defeat were almost too much for his tired body to take and he was just about to let his head ‘thunk’ down and maybe let the floor totally engulf him if the universe would have mercy on him, when a pair of hands grabbed at the front of his shirt and suddenly he was being lifted back up into a sitting position.

He blinked at Bakugou’s enraged face, centimeters away, cast in shadows from the desk lamp that they’d somehow knocked over in the middle of their scuffle, and he resigned himself wholeheartedly to his fate. He didn’t even try and harden himself. If he was going to die by Bakugou’s explosions, by his refusal to accept any sort of human affection, he was going to die like a man and accept his fate. He closed his eyes and waited for it.

And waited for it.

And waited for it.

But…

Kirishima cracked open his eyes again in confusion.

Bakugou was crouched in front of him, balancing on the balls of his feet, and a few of his knuckles popped with the sheer force of how tightly he gripped at the front of Kirishima’s shirt, holding up his pathetically limp body.

“The fuck did you just say to me?” Bakugou finally asked through gritted teeth.

Kirishima sighed. He couldn’t even be embarrassed about it anymore, really. This whole secret admirer disaster had been embarrassing enough for the both of them. Besides, he’d already confessed. Saying it a second time wouldn’t hurt his pride more than it already had. “I like you. I know you don’t do that kind of stuff which is why I didn’t say anything before but… I just like you so much, and it’s – “ He didn’t even know where he was going with this, but apparently he didn’t need to know.

It took him longer than it should have to register the heavy weight on his lips as Bakugou’s mouth. It took him longer than it should have to piece together that Bakugou’s hands weren’t gripping at him in unrelenting fury, but in aggressive self-loathing desperation. It took him longer than it should have, but just as Bakugou was pulling away, everything slammed together.

Kirishima’s hands shot out to grab at the back of his head, keeping him from pulling away, and he closed the miniscule distance that had formed between them again. He didn’t have time to think, his brain didn’t have the capacity for that right now anyway. His body ached from sleepless nights spent on hard floors and brutal exercises from sadistic teachers, and his chest ached with unknowing and uncertainty, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t care.

Bakugou stiffened at his sudden brash movements, as though he hadn’t been the one to surprise Kirishima with the kiss in the front place, but he surrendered to it almost immediately. He leaned into him, letting gravity pull him down to his knees on either side of Kirishima’s legs as he pressed harder into the kiss.

Bakugou’s mouth tasted like spearmint toothpaste and spicy curry and some kind of tea that Kirishima couldn’t place and it was intoxicating enough to leave him breathless, but he couldn’t stop. The moment he pulled away, he knew whatever spell they were under in this moment would break, and he couldn’t bare the thought of that.

He tried to hold Bakugou’s weight up, but his sore back shook with the effort. One of his hands disappeared from behind Bakugou’s head and he leaned onto his palm for support as he tongued desperately into his best friend’s eager mouth. He didn’t know how they’d managed to get there, making out in the dark of Bakugou’s room on top of a destroyed table, but Kirishima’s body thrummed with the intensity of this very moment. The alignment of everything he’d ever wanted, now sitting in his lap and grabbing at handfuls of his hair and his shirt and his face. It was like Bakugou didn’t know where to touch first so he’d just settled for touching a little bit of everything. Like they’d never get the chance to do this again. Like it wouldn’t ever be enough.

Bakugou pulled away first with a gasping intake of breath. It wasn’t until his lips had completely disappeared that Kirishima found himself panting just as painfully, the air swooping back into his lungs at uncomfortably harsh speeds.

“You kissed me,” Kirishima said stupidly, partly to make sure that it had really happened in the first place and partly to prepare a defense in case Bakugou suddenly became enraged all over again.

“You like me,” Bakugou said, as though that were enough to justify his actions.

They stayed like that, panting and gripping each other, with Bakugou straddled over his shaking legs. Kirishima suddenly became very aware of how close they were. The heat of Bakugou’s thighs on his hips and his chest pressed against his own overwhelmed his already fragile mind and he subconsciously leaned up into it. It felt familiar. Too familiar for two friends who were just bros and nothing more. It felt… right. Bakugou pressed his chin into Kirishima’s forehead, effectively hiding his face, and he could feel every hurried breath as it escaped his mouth and fluttered across the top of his hair.

“Why did you do that?” Kirishima asked Bakugou’s chest. Bakugou stiffened at the question and shifted on top of him, as though he were about to move away, and something in Kirishima’s body screamed in silent, pathetic desperation, No! Not yet! His arm acted before he knew what he was doing, and it looped around his best friend’s tight waist to hold him in place. “Don’t.”

Bakugou froze again. Kirishima watched the way his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. “It should be obvious idiot,” he ground out.

Kirishima shook his head. “Explain it to me,” he demanded, because he couldn’t take it anymore. He couldn’t take the guessing games anymore. Did he like him, were they just friends, was he with Uraraka, who was the secret admirer? He was so sick of all the damn guessing and all the stupid questions. They weren’t enough anymore.

He wanted answers and he wanted them now.

Bakugou grunted and tried to move again but Kirishima’s sturdy arm kept him in place. “Cause I,” Bakugou hesitated. One of his hands gripped almost painfully into Kirishima’s hair and the other fisted his shirt at his shoulder blade. “I fucking like you too,” he forced out all in one breath. “Idiot. You think I hang out with all your stupid friends for fun? You think I listen to your goddamn endless stories about fucking nothing for hours on end because I’m secretly some kind of social fucking butterfly?”

So, this was how Kirishima was going to die.

Not from a fiery explosion to the face at all, but from a severe heart attack. And truly, what a horribly unmanly way to go, but Kirishima would take it. He would take it all, he would take anything that Bakugou decided to give him, and right now, he just wanted not to think about any of it anymore.

“Kiss me again,” Kirishima said, sounding far more confident than he felt.

Bakugou hesitated, as though he were raging between the pros of being able to kiss him against the cons of actively relenting and being told what to do. The cons might have won the battle, but the pros must have won the war, because the hand that gripped so tightly into Kirishima’s hair suddenly pulled until Kirishima could finally look up into his face again. His best friend’s face – red with embarrassment, red with excursion, red with want.

Before Kirishima could really commit the image to memory like he so desperately needed to, Bakugou’s lips were back, and it was all he could to hold on as his world tilted dangerously off its kilter for the second time in the past two weeks, and this time he didn’t bother trying to stabilize it.

 

 

This was awkward. This was so… so awkward.

He shifted on the bedspread for probably the hundredth time, watching out of the corner of his eye as Bakugou struggled to put the table back together with the few loose screws and random tools he’d had hidden away in his closet.

Since their… ahm… declaration a half an hour prior, neither of them had spoken a word to each other. Not to acknowledge the breathless kisses that had left Kirishima’s heart pounding in his chest at the mere memory of them, not to acknowledge the table that had been broken in another form of Bakugou trying to dispel feelings out of himself before he could be consumed by them (looking back, Kirishima was just glad that he hadn’t puked on him), not to acknowledge the chocolate covered chilis outside that were most definitely going to be stuck to the carpet by now, not to acknowledge the green tea bottle sitting on the windowsill, not to acknowledge the truth of their situation. The silence was deafening.

Kirishima shifted again, balling his hands into tight fists in his lap as he gnawed on his bottom lip, blushing when he remembered where they had been just minutes ago, and he tried to think. He really did. But he was so exhausted. Physically, emotionally, mentally, he was tapped out. He’d passed his limits long ago and it was a miracle he hadn’t passed out the moment he’d seated himself on Bakugou’s bed to watch the blonde silently cuss under his breath and focus 1000% of his energy on to the table in front of him, as though he couldn’t just put in a work order and get a new one by tomorrow evening.

No, Bakugou wasn’t just working on the table. He was thinking.

Kirishima didn’t know how he had the energy left inside him for it, but Bakugou’s mind was clearly racing. He let his eyes wander freely over the blonde’s furrowed brows, watched as he chewed incessantly on the inside of his cheek, as he steadied a screw at the juncture between the table and the leg and twisted his forearm, gripping tight to a screwdriver that forced the screw to bite into the wood deeper and deeper.

“You’re being weird,” Bakugou grumbled into the silence.

“I don’t really know how to be normal right now,” Kirishima answered.

Bakugou sighed and the pretense of his dutiful handyman illusion was shattered. He dropped the screwdriver to the floor, leaned back into the heels of his feet, and pressed his hands into his face. Kirishima had never seen him look so defeated before. It was unsettling.

“Do you really like me?” Kirishima asked, because despite Bakugou having already confirmed it and despite the last half hour spent urgently clawing at each other like the world might actually explode if they stopped for any period of time longer than what was necessary to make sure they didn’t suffocate, he still wasn’t sure. He wasn’t convinced. Bakugou had been so certain that he’d never wanted to deal with any of these kinds of things, with any of these feelings, but then he had felt so certain when his tongue had been lapping fiendishly against the sensitive skin of Kirishima’s feverish neck, so what was the truth?

“I already said I do,” Bakugou said as he ran his hands up into his hair, tugged half-heartedly at the spikes, before he sighed again and lumbered up to his feet. Kirishima followed him with his eyes, watching every muscle move beneath his baggy t-shirt as the blonde ground his teeth together. “I’m fucking tired.”

Kirishima smiled a little at that. “Me too,” he agreed. The tension loosened a bit as Bakugou’s eyes connected with his.

They stared at each other. Trapped in this moment together. They were both exhausted, both praying for the sweet release of unencumbered sleep, but it was nerve-wracking. If Kirishima walked out that door, what would tomorrow bring? Bakugou would have to fill out a slip to get a new table, solidifying into reality that they’d broken it over a dumb manly battle of who was going to break down and confess to the other first. Someone would have to come and clean up the chocolate off the carpet. There would probably be stains. Permanent reminders. And the bottle?

Kirishima broke eye contact to look at the bottle that sat on the windowsill. Would there be another one tomorrow? Would it throw Bakugou into a rage tomorrow like it had yesterday? Would life just… go on? Would they ever do this again – kiss and touch and hold and breathe each other with such vulnerability. Or was this it?

His brief, sweet taste of something he’d felt like he’d wanted all his life suddenly wasn’t enough.

“You look constipated.” Bakugou had such a way with words.

Kirishima couldn’t help the tired laugh that stumbled breathlessly out of him. “I’m just thinking…” He jumped when he suddenly felt the heat of Bakugou near him again, squeezed between his legs until the blonde had slotted himself stubbornly into a place where Kirishima simply could not ignore him anymore.

He looked concentrated as he eyed Kirishima intently, peeling back every layer of his skin until he felt incredibly raw and exposed. “You regret it?” His tone sounded haughty, like a challenge, but his voice came out small, like there was doubt.

“No,” Kirishima said honestly.

Bakugou continued to stare at him and another moment of silence ticked between them. “What the hell are you thinking so hard about?” He frowned and when he was standing so close to him, Kirishima could see the fatigue that clung to him. He was fighting to stay upright, probably, as his knees dug into the bed and he leaned further into Kirishima’s space.

“I don’t… know where to go now,” he fluttered a pathetic hand between them. “Like… you know?” It was the best he could get out. He was so tired. God… so tired.

Bakguou frowned harder, a crease developed along his forehead that Kirishima wanted to poke at in his sleep-deprived state, but he forced himself not to because geez, that would be weird.

The silence stretched between them and Kirishima wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have said anything at all, but then one of Bakugou’s rough, calloused hands touched at the side of his neck, running slow curious fingertips up behind his ear and into his hair and sending shivers racing down Kirishima’s rigid spine. He closed his eyes despite himself and leaned into the touch, and rather than speeding up like he thought it would, his heart slowed to an almost deadly pace. He breathed in the scent of nitroglycerin and some kind of honey-scented shampoo and the left-over smokey embers of a smoldering fire pit and even with his eyes closed he could picture Bakugou’s face perfectly.

“I don’t know about all this,” Bakugou said gruffly, sounding sour at his own uncertainty. Kirishima cracked open his eyes reluctantly. Bakugou’s fingers faltered when their gazes met again before he continued to rub slowly and deliberately at Kirishima’s scalp. “It’s… I’m not gonna be…” he gripped harder at Kirishima’s hair. “I’m not fucking soft and shit.”

Kirishima blinked slowly at him. He was starting to think that this was all a dream. It felt like a dream. “You’re soft right now,” he said and his traitorous hand lifted to rest hesitantly against Bakugou’s hip, rubbing a slow thumb over the fabric of his shirt just above his waistband.

“Yeah cause,” Bakugou seemed to struggle with his reasoning. “It’s just you right now. Shit is different at school. With all those nosy morons.”

“I don’t mind,” Kirishima said, before he even really had time to consider whether he did or not. But Bakugou knew him all too well.

He sighed heavily and his warm breath cascaded over Kirishima’s cheeks and nose. “Yes you do, idiot.” He gave one final tug of Kirishima’s hair, this time hard enough to make him wince a little, before he let his hand drop down onto the bed to rest awkwardly by Kirishima’s hip. He gripped at the bed sheet and clenched his jaw tight. “You’d want all that lovey dovey romantic crap and I… can’t fucking do that.”

Kirishima thought about it as he let his thumb mindlessly scratch at Bakugou’s hip.

He knew, vaguely, deep down somewhere, that Bakugou was right. Though he’d never been in a relationship before, whenever Kirishima thought about it, he’d always imagined holding someone’s hand wherever they walked and sneaking hurried kisses in between classes and snuggling into their warm embrace during lunch. Sometimes he’d tried to imagine doing that stuff with Bakugou, when he was safe and alone in his bedroom, but it never seemed to really stick, which had always been enough of a deterrent to remind himself that he didn’t really like Bakugou like that. He just liked intimacy, and he felt close to Bakugou, so he’d managed to squish those two feelings into one.

But ever since the bottle had appeared that day on Bakugou’s desk, ever since the prospect of knowing that someone else could potentially do those things with Bakugou, he’d suddenly felt desperate. Like he was losing precious time to cherish something that might inevitably disappear anyway.

Bakugou had big dreams. He wanted to be the number 1 hero of Japan. He wanted it to be undeniable that he was number 1, like All Might, where the number 2 hero was so far behind him in the race that no one even considered them when they looked at Bakugou.

And, truly, that’s how Kirishima already felt about him. When he looked at his best friend, there was no other option to be seen. Bakugou was it. He was number 1. He was Kirishima’s only choice.

He didn’t want intimacy and he didn’t want romance. He didn’t want to be swept off his feet by some grand passionate gesture from some stranger who didn’t feel like home. He just wanted Bakugou. He wanted to lean into him, just a little bit, just enough that their shoulders touched, when they sat together in the cafeteria. He wanted to be allowed to look at him, really look at him, without having to feel ashamed or embarrassed. He wanted to show his admiration and appreciation earnestly, without worrying about whether other people would pick up on it or not. He wanted to sit in Bakugou’s dorm room and show him funny videos and watch him laugh and roll his eyes while he called Kirishima an idiot, or a dumbass, or whatever other word he used in endearment so that he felt more comfortable showing his fondness in a way that wouldn’t be perceived as soft and shit.

Yeah, maybe some day that wouldn’t be enough. Maybe some day he’d want Bakugou to tread his fingers between the spaces of his own hand and hold onto him proudly as they walked to class together. Maybe some day he’d want Bakugou to lean in and kiss him in the middle of a training exercise, despite the eyes of their classmates watching. Maybe some day he’d want Bakugou to leave an unopened green tea bottle on his desk.

But right now? He just wanted to be close to him. He wanted to be unwavering and sure of himself, just this once. He wanted Bakugou to trust him. He wanted to be Bakugou’s best friend but he also wanted more.

“I don’t mind,” Kirishima said again, when he realized the silence had stretched on probably a little bit longer than it should have.

Bakugou sighed, again, and his fingers loosened on the bedsheet. “Kirishima…” He sounded tired. Kirishima felt tired. He lifted his free hand and pressed his palm against Bakugou’s soft cheek, marveled at how quickly it flushed with deep red color, and brushed his thumb along the sensitive skin under Bakugou’s eye, bruised from lack of sleep.

“I don’t mind,” he said again, firmer this time. “I don’t… want anything crazy,” he laughed breathlessly, because he couldn’t believe they were even having this conversation right now. “I’m not… looking for you to propose or something.” Another breathless laugh, because wow, he really shouldn’t have said that, but he was so tired… so exhausted… “I just want to…” his eyes flickered down to Bakugou’s lips before he could stop himself. “I just want…”

Bakugou was leaning in, and whatever Kirishima thought he was going to say was drowned away as their lips slotted together again. Slowly, almost lazily, Bakugou moved against him, like the only thing stopping him from falling over and passing out right then and there was the hand Kirishima kept pressed against his hip and the slow movement of their lips touching, and then not touching, and then touching. Kirishima hummed contently when he felt Bakugou lean forward, placing his other hand down onto the bedsheet, effectively trapping Kirishima to the mattress between his strong arms.

“You’re such a softie Blasty,” he mumbled teasingly, sleepily, against Bakugou’s lips.

“Fuck you,” Bakugou grumbled, tiredly, but Kirishima felt him smile all the same.

 

 

There was noise. Oh god, it was so loud. What the hell –

Kirishima fumbled around in his bed, blindly reaching for his phone that seemed to be hiding from him on purpose. He finally found it, wedged between his bed and the wall, and he turned it off before he let his head fall back into his pillow in defeat.

It was too early. He was so tired. Not as tired as last night, but still, so very tired. He wanted to roll over and snuggle deeper into his covers and fall back asleep, just for five more minutes, but even he knew that was a promise he couldn’t keep. Besides, his body was already alive with nerves before his mind even had the time to catch up.

He’d kissed Bakugou last night.

No wait, Bakugou had kissed him last night.

No wait, they’d both kissed each other last night. Multiple times. Numerous times. Over and over again.

Kirishima grinned into his pillow, like a true moron, because wow, he still couldn’t really believe it.

And yeah, he’d roll out of bed and get dressed just like any other day, and yeah, it might be a bit awkward between the two of them, now that the sun was out and could immaculately highlight the glaring fact that they had indeed kissed last night, but it didn’t feel like any other day, and Kirishima was excited. Nervous but excited. He sat up and stretched his arms over his head, cracking his neck and back, before he begrudgingly shimmied out of bed to put on his uniform.

After he’d done his hair and brushed his teeth and made sure he had everything in his bookbag that he’d need for the day, he wandered back over to his bed, stifling a yawn into the back of his hand, and picked up his phone. He had two new messages, both from Ashido.

Um wow, I just heard about the whole Tokoyami incident with Bakugou???

Did you talk to him yet?

Kirishima hesitated and then swore quietly under his breath. Despite the leaps and bounds he’d made to be incredibly honest with Bakugou last night, there was one slight, minor detail he’d forgotten to include the blonde in, and that was the fact that while Bakugou may have been careful enough and strong enough to shoulder his growing affection for his best friend silently and he hadn’t let the secret slip to anybody, Kirishima had not. Ashido knew almost everything, including the fact that he’d been planning to confess to Bakugou at some point, and she’d be expecting him to tell her if anything happened.

But…

Bakugou didn’t want anyone to know yet. He told Kirishima point blank last night before Kirishima had stumbled back to his room that he wasn’t ashamed of being gay and that he most certainly wasn’t ashamed to be with Kirishima (apparently he was god-like compared to the rest of the pathetic morons that went to their school) but Bakugou had studies to focus on and dreams to chase. He didn’t want to go too fast, despite all the kissing they’d done. He didn’t even know if he wanted to hold hands yet.

And Ashido – loving, romantic, passionate Ashido – would not take kindly to that.

Kirishima twirled the phone around in his hands, trying to figure out what to do.

He knew the right thing to do would be to tell Bakugou that Ashido knew about his big dumb gay crush on his best friend, and that it was only with Ashido’s prodding and encouraging shouts that Kirishima had even had the courage last night to say anything at all. He was certain that if Ashido hadn’t planted the seeds in his brain for him that last night probably would have ended very differently. But how would Bakugou take all of that? He might be furious, or maybe not furious, maybe more so embarrassed. But even worse, he might call the whole thing off. He might distance himself. He might rescind any and all affection moving forward. Kirishima might lose it before he’d even had time to enjoy it.

So, it was with a lot of hesitation that Kirishima decided to ignore Ashido’s texts for now. He was going to be late if he didn’t start moving, though that sounded like a half-hearted excuse even to him. He’d figure something out, maybe when he wasn’t so tired, maybe when he could think straight, because right now his whole body thrummed with anticipation as he slowly reached for his door handle, backpack slung over his shoulder, and opened it to find Bakugou leaning against the opposite wall  waiting in the hallway for him. Always waiting. Always for him.

“Hey,” Kirishima tried for a smile as he stepped uncertainly into the hallway. His eyes immediately landed on the carpet where Tokoyami’s tray had been, but the mess was all cleared away now, save for a few dark spots that were stained into the fabric.

“Hey,” Bakugou said, with his curt lifting of the chin. Acknowledgement. And then he glanced back and forth along the deserted hall, pushed himself away from the wall with confidence that looked a little forced, and came to stand right in front of him. He hesitated, just for a second, before he kissed him. Acceptance. Finally.

It was over before Kirishima could fully appreciate it, but the flush of red across Bakugou’s face more than made up for it. He grinned a little too big, trying hard to ignore the frantic pounding in his chest. “Ready?”

Bakugou chewed on the inside of his mouth. He nodded, eyes ablaze with newfound determination. “Hurry up, your slow ass is gonna make us late.”

Kirishima laughed, and it felt so freeing to do so, before he fell into step beside his best friend and started off for class.

It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, Kirishima noted, as they walked side-by-side towards their homeroom, retracing old steps that they’d already taken many times before, except this time it felt so much different. Kirishima couldn’t stop counting the amount of times that the back of Bakugou’s hand bumped against his. At first experimentally, as though to test the waters, to see if Bakugou even liked doing it at all, to see if he even wanted that kind of contact, but by the time they’d climbed the stairs and homeroom was staring them right in the face, Bakugou had bumped his knuckles against Kirishima’s a total of twenty six – twenty seven times, and Kirishima was feeling giddy.

That was until he saw Ashido’s worried face standing in the doorway. She glanced at Kirishima and grimaced before she turned sympathetic eyes onto Bakugou, who instantly stiffened. “Sorry Bakubro… you got another delivery this morning.”

Kirishima and Bakugou’s eyes landed on the green tea bottle sitting innocently on his desk at the same time and something inside Kirishima tightened all over again.

Chapter Text

Hm.

He didn’t really know what emotion he was feeling right now as he watched Bakugou stomp past Mina, glide through their classroom over to his seat, and snatch up the green tea bottle from its spot on his desk. There was another note stuck to it – probably another little comment about him enjoying the drink, or maybe it was calling him cute again, or maybe it – oh

It was jealousy.

The emotion that Kirishima was feeling right now was definitely jealousy.

Which was… okay, he kind of understood where it was coming from, but still, he couldn’t really say that he had any right to be jealous. Someone was leaving Bakugou little love notes, but Kirishima was the one he had kissed last night in his dorm room, right? Had it really all been some kind of weird fever dream?

No. Bakugou had kissed him again this morning – a quick peck on the lips that almost, almost, didn’t count, but it was still something. Still something more than the raging red of anger and embarrassment that flushed across Bakugou’s face as he exploded the little note in his hand and stared daggers at the green tea bottle with a concentrated pout.

Kirishima should be doing something right now, he was sure of it. Even if they weren’t boyfriends or in a public relationship or whatever, he had even more of a reason to help Bakugou through this now than he had the day before when they were just best friends, and he was going to help, really. But the moment he decided to step into the classroom was the same moment Mina snagged the sleeve of his uniform and tugged him back out into the hallway.

“Did you talk to Bakugou yet?” She asked, her black eyes darting over to class 1-B’s homeroom. Tsunotori and Yanagi were walking in side-by-side as they spoke, and she had them in her sights with a predatory look.

“O-oh, well…” Shit. Kirishima bit his lip and glanced into the classroom, almost desperately wishing for something to come along and create some kind of diversion for him. Thankfully, it seemed like the universe was finally showing him a small bit of mercy, because it didn’t really look like Mina was waiting for him to answer anyway. For once, it seemed, she did not care about the romantic development of someone else’s relationship.

No, she had far more pressing matters to attend to. “I know who it is.”

Kirishima’s eyes snapped back to attention. His chest tightened in anticipation and he was surprised at how light-headed he suddenly felt. “What?” The word slipped out of his numb mouth.

Mina nodded; her lips set into a tight line. “I know who it is. I saw them sneaking out of our classroom, just a few minutes before Iida and Midoriya and Todoroki arrived this morning.”

Kirishima blinked in surprise. Oh god. Mina knew. Her eyes were brimming with excitement and knowledge. She was practically gnawing away at her bottom lip and her curled fists were shaking by her sides. But she wasn’t saying anything – she wasn’t declaring who it was loud and proud and asking him what he thought they should do about it. She wasn’t racing over to Bakugou to tell him either; her feet remained firmly planted on the ground in front of him.

No, she was holding herself back. Keeping it all in. She was waiting for him to ask. Mina was a good friend, the best friend he could have ever asked for apparently, because she was waiting for confirmation to see if he even wanted to know. She was waiting for him to take the lead on this.

He had one more question to ask.

One more question and then all of this would finally be over.

He shouldn’t be this nervous. His hands shouldn’t be sweating this much. His heart shouldn’t be beating this hard, like it was trying to physically escape from his chest. His throat shouldn’t feel this tight.

Bakugou had kissed him. Bakugou liked him. So it shouldn’t matter who the secret admirer was anymore, right? It shouldn’t bother him to know – he should be excited for this. If not excited, then at least relieved. It was finally over. They could tell Bakugou, and maybe convince him to let his secret admirer down easy (or as easy as the explosive blonde could possibly let anybody down; Kirishima was thankful, and a little guilty, that he didn’t know what that felt like) and everything could go back to normal. Or maybe everything could transform into a new normal; one where Kirishima and Bakugou were together.

Right?

He opened his mouth. His breath caught in his throat. Why couldn’t he ask this question? Why was it getting stuck in his throat now? He’d been doing so well lately, asking all the right questions and refusing to let the answers and the fear of the unknown deter him or scare him away. Why was he being so hesitant? Why did it feel like the hallway was spinning? Why –

“What the fuck are you assholes whispering about out here?” Bakugou’s scowl was like a beacon in the middle of the dark sea. Kirishima let out a breath at the sight of it appearing over Mina’s shoulder.

Mina twirled around to face him, a huge grin splitting across her face. She teetered on the balls of her feet, her hands clasped behind her back, and she glanced at Kirishima again, her eyes pleading, waiting for permission.

It was all Kirishima could do to force himself to nod.

Mina raised a hand and tapped an innocent finger on the bottle clenched in Bakugou’s white-knuckled grip. “I know who gave you that,” she said teasingly.

Bakugou’s glare could have cut through glass. “Fucking who?”

“Kirishima!”

The trio jumped in unison at the loud shout that echoed down the hall. Kirishima turned and his stomach tightened a little as Tetsu came tearing out of his own homeroom and beelined it straight for them. Kirishima hardened his arm and held it out, clotheslining Tetsu in the chest just as the other boy turned to steel, bringing him to a very sudden stop beside him.

Tetsu looked at Mina and then leveled Bakugou with a knowing gaze before he turned to Kirishima and grinned, like he knew some big juicy secret and Kirishima was the lucky person he was about to spill it all to. “I gotta tell you something. Something about… something we were talking about last week, do you remember?”

“What the fuck? You’ve been talking about this shit with this idiot too?” Bakugou’s glare was now resolutely and whole-heartedly on Kirishima, who shrank back a little at the intensity of it. Shit. Okay, strike that, maybe there had been two things that he’d forgotten to mention to him last night.

“Oh! So he knows?” Tetsu asked, head cocking to the side curiously.

“Fucking knows what?” Bakugou spit out through clenched teeth, still glaring at Kirishima with a silent expression that definitely meant that they were going to be talking about this later. Great.

“Wait, did you figure it out too?” Mina blurted out, rounding on Tetsu with newfound excitement.

“What the fuck!” Bakugou threw his hands up, growing more furious the longer he was being ignored.

Mina turned to Bakugou at the same time that Tetsu turned to Kirishima.

“I know who your secret admirer is!”

“I know who is crushing on him!”

Bakugou snarled like a dog. It looked like he was barely containing his mounting rage now. “I fucking know Raccoon-eyes, who the fuck is it?”

Tetsu opened his mouth, “It’s – ”

Mina elbowed him hard in the ribs. “Hey! I get to tell them who it was! I figured it all out! This is my detective case!”

Tetsu gaped at her in utter astonishment. “What?! How did you even figure it out at all? She’s in my class!”

Mina glared, her hands finding their way to her hips. “If she had been in my class, I would have figured it out ages ago! It’s not my fault it took you forever!”

“Clearly I wasn’t as invested as you are! C’mon, Kirishima and I have been talking about this for way longer!”

“Nu-uh! Kiri and I have been trying to figure this out since the first incident!”

Bakugou’s hands crackled with explosions and effectively brought their bickering to a sudden end. Kirishima hardened a little in preparation, just in case the blonde decided to really let loose on them all. “If someone doesn’t fucking tell me right this fucking second – “

Mina grabbed him by the shoulders. “It’s Tokage Setsuna!”

“Uuugh!” Tetsu threw his hands up in distress. “Dammit! I was supposed to – “

“Who?” Bakugou’s confusion was barely showing under the dangerous red flush that had crept up the back of his neck and spilled over onto his cheeks and ears. Kirishima would have thought it was cute, if he didn’t feel like he was going to throw up.

“It was Tokage – “

“Mhm.”

The little clearing of the throat was so quiet, it was a wonder any of them even heard it all, before a deafening silence fell over them. They turned as one, eyes snapping over and landing on a short girl with wavy, moss-green colored hair, who smiled at them as though they hadn’t just been screaming about her in the middle of the hallway.

“It was me,” she waved a little sheepishly, but her resolve never faltered. Her shoulders were straight and confident, and her chin was high as she looked each of them in the eyes. Kirishima forced himself not to look away when she lingered on him a little longer than the others. “I’m sorry to have caused so much trouble,” she tugged at a strand of hair that fell just below her shoulders before she clasped her hands behind her back and leveled Bakugou with a steady look, who instantly stiffened under her gaze.

“Oh,” Bakugou grumbled, “I remember you.” His voice sounded a little uncertain, and a little calmer than usual; like he wasn’t necessarily sure how to regard her. “From the joint training thing.”

Tokage nodded.

“What the hell?” Is all Bakugou responded with, holding up the green tea bottle. Kirishima winced a little at that, as did Mina. He wished they’d had time to prep this and make sure Bakugou didn’t say anything too rude or harsh.

Tokage was… so small. She definitely wasn’t fragile, though. At least, it didn’t seem like she was from the way she merely laughed off Bakugou’s brash declaration with a dismissive little wave of her hand. “Ah, yeah, sorry. It isn’t really my style to do something like that but I was convinced by someone that…” she paused and eyed the three onlookers around her before she squared off her shoulders and stood to her tallest height; a whole 158cm. “Would you mind if we spoke about this after class? Alone, maybe?”

Kirishima looked at Bakugou, who seemed like he was getting ready to barrel through whatever the hell this was about to be in the usual fashion that he pushed through everything else. His red eyes connected with Kirishima’s and stayed there for a moment, searching for something, but Kirishima didn’t know what he was supposed to be giving him. He felt like he was on autopilot right now. Like he wasn’t really a part of this awkward group; huddled around what should have been a private conversation.

Bakugou scowled before he turned his glare back onto Tokage. “Fine.”

“Good.” She nodded again before she tugged on Tetsu’s sleeve. “C’mon, class is going to start soon.”

And just like that, it was over.

Kirishima felt his muscles unclench as he watched Tokage and Tetsu walk back to their own classroom, whispering to each other. From the sheepish look on Tetsu’s face and the awkward hand that he pressed onto the back of his neck, it looked like he was getting scolded for outing her like that. Which, well, Kirishima could understand. He felt a little guilty, honestly. They’d been so caught up in the moment, so caught up in their own investigation and how all of this had been affecting them, that he hadn’t even realized how loudly they’d been shouting until the other girl had interrupted them.

“Tch.”

Kirishima looked at Bakugou and he had to really work to steady himself against the sudden wave of surprise that washed over him as he watched the blonde crack open the green tea, take a long sip, and walk back into homeroom like nothing had even happened. Mina caught his eye and they exchanged a bewildered look.

“That… went better than I thought it would,” she breathed. “Differently than I thought it would, but… better?”

Kirishima didn’t really know how he was supposed to feel right now.

Bakugou hadn’t yelled or screamed at her, which was a good thing. He really hadn’t wanted the secret admirer – Tokage – to feel bad or ashamed about anything that had happened over the past few weeks. She was just a girl. A girl with a crush on some boy who she’d never really interacted with before and didn’t really know that much about. It had been a leap of faith on her end, it seemed, and he was thankful that she had been spared Bakugou’s unrelenting rage, which had been known to reduce people to actual tears.

But…

“He drank from the bottle,” Mina said quietly, almost nervously. She bit her lip and glanced at him, as though she expected him to fall apart or something. Like Bakugou drinking from the bottle was a horrible admission of some kind. Was it? But…

“He kissed me last night.” Well… he hadn’t necessarily meant to say that out loud, but what the fuck ever at this point.

Mina blinked in surprise. “He…” her eyes widened, and she smiled a little. “Wait, really? So are you guys… wait…” From the way her face scrunched up, it looked like her mind was working a mile a minute to catch up with all of this new information.

Kirishima shook his head. “I don’t really know.” He answered the questions she hadn’t been able to ask, because really, it didn’t matter. He was back at square one, he was just realizing, because he didn’t know anything.

Sure, he knew who the secret admirer was now, and sure, Bakugou knew about his feelings for him, and sure, he somewhat, tentatively got the gist of how Bakugou felt about him, but honestly, he didn’t know anything at all.

He didn’t know how Bakugou was going to handle his conversation with Tokage later. He didn’t know what he was going to say to her or how they would walk away from the situation afterwards. He didn’t know what it meant that Bakugou had finally drank from the tea bottle, like it was no big deal, like Kirishima hadn’t been standing there watching him do it, like he didn’t have the original tea bottle in his room after he’d refused to accept its existence. He didn’t know what they were, or if Bakugou had changed his mind, or how any of this was going to play out. He didn’t know what he was going to say to Bakugou later, when they inevitably had to talk about all of this, and he didn’t know what he was supposed to say to Mina now, as she stared at him with wide, curious and slightly worried eyes.

He didn’t know, and he didn’t have the time to ask because Aizawa was walking towards their homeroom, looking tired and bored as usual. And as much as Kirishima wanted it to be, now was not the time to try and untangle any of this.

Now, it was simply time for class.

 

 

He caught Bakugou staring at him seven times during the course of their morning lessons, uncharacteristically quiet just like the first day the green tea bottle had appeared on his desk two weeks ago. Kirishima didn’t know what that meant. He didn’t know why Bakugou looked so contemplative, all of his features smoothed out and soft-looking, but it was starting to make him sweat, because a small part of his brain was telling him that Bakugou had changed his mind. That somehow, for some reason, Tokage was the better alternative between the two of them. That Bakugou had options now, choices, and that he was trying to come up with the best way to break the news to Kirishima that he was the undesirable pick between the two presented to him.

As the bell rang signaling for lunch, Bakugou was the first one out of his seat.

Kirishima tried to take his time as he packed his notebooks and pencils away, thinking his snail’s pace movements might provide him with some extra time to think. But of course, the universe had other plans for him, as it always seemed to, because Bakugou was already standing in front of his desk, waiting for him. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Bakugou waited for him all the time. They usually walked to lunch together. They were best friends. So why did everything feel so raw right now? Why did every movement feel so magnified – so calculated and precise.

But when Kirishima chanced a glance up at him, Bakugou looked exactly how he always did. His scowl pulled the corners of his lips down, there was a permanent crease on his forehead from the way his eyebrows tugged together, his shoulders were tense but slouched; rough but relaxed. Their eyes caught. One of Bakugou’s brows quirked up.

“The fuck are you stalling for?”

Kirishima’s eyes lowered to the, now painfully empty, green tea bottle hanging loosely from Bakugou’s fingers. Questions poised on his tongue that burned to be asked, but Bakugou moved before Kirishima even had the chance to ask anything.

He sighed loudly as the last few students of their class trickled out into the hallway. Mina hovered in the doorway, looking anxiously between the pair of them, before she hurried to catch up with Kaminari and Sero. She would not be saving him today. Kirishima stiffened when he realized, quite suddenly, that they were alone again. He stiffened even more when he came to the very startling conclusion that Bakugou was loitering behind, yes, but not for him this time. He was waiting for Tokage. Because they were supposed to talk after class. It punched him in the face when Kirishima realized that, for once, he was the one hanging back, unconsciously, waiting for Bakugou, almost afraid to leave him alone. His face burned a little at the thought.

Bakugou clicked his tongue against his teeth, grabbed the back of Kaminari’s chair and pulled it out until it was flush against the front of Kirishima’s desk – where he’d still failed to move from – before he plopped down into it, straddling it backwards, and bonked the empty bottle off of Kirishima’s forehead. “Say something.”

Kirishima’s mouth felt dry. “What are you going to say to Tokage?”

Bakugou snorted. He looked a little amused as he covered the top of the bottle with a hand and placed his chin on top of it, leveling Kirishima with a deadpanned expression. “I’m gonna fucking propose.”

Kirishima blinked. It took him longer than he’d like to admit to understand that Bakugou was fucking with him. His face burned even more, and he looked down at his lap. “Please don’t joke like that right now…”

Bakugou scowled harder. “What the fuck is wrong with you? You were all damn happy this morning.”

Kirishima looked up at him, a little incredulous. He didn’t understand where Bakugou’s nonchalance was coming from. Two weeks ago, when the first tea bottle had appeared, Bakugou had nearly lost his shit, literally. He’d been excused from hero training because he couldn’t keep it together. When the second tea bottle had appeared, Kirishima had listened to him throw up in the toilets while his body overreacted to an onslaught of what was probably intense nerves and overwhelming confusion, not to mention a feeling of extreme vulnerability, considering Kirishima had been there to witness it all happen. He’d been so upset – so embarrassed – so filled with rage and so adamant to dispel any of it and pretend that it wasn’t even happening. So ready to deny and to fight.

So what had changed? Why was he suddenly so calm about all of this? How could he drink from that bottle, knowing who had given it to him and why, when he couldn’t even bare to look at the other ones that had been presented to him? What happened?

“Oi, Kirishima. I asked you a fucking question.” Bakugou was looking at him strangely. He’d lifted his chin up, eyebrows furrowed even further, and his lips were pressed tight together. He looked… concerned?

“I just don’t understand,” Kirishima said, and he had intense déjà vu back to last night. “Why aren’t you freaking out?”

Bakugou’s concerned expression melted back into a hardened scowl once more. “The fuck? Freaking out about what? You’re the one that’s freaking the fuck out. It’s freaking me out.”

Kirishima blinked again and jerked in his seat a little, startled, even more incredulous than before. He was freaking Bakugou out? Bakugou was freaking him out! “You… you found out who your secret admirer is.”

One of Bakugou’s eyebrows quirked up again. “Yeah? That was the whole fucking point of all this stupid bullshit. You guys were the ones that wanted me to fucking figure it out. I wanted to leave it alone!”

“What are you going to say to her?” Kirishima asked again, his chest tightening.

Bakugou’s eyes flashed over his face as he chewed on the inside of his mouth, searching again for something that Kirishima didn’t know how to give him. Suddenly, a little sneer pulled his lip up. “Fuck, you think I’m gonna start dating her or something, don’t you?”

If Kirishima’s face was flushed before, it was nothing compared to how hot it felt now. “I mean… we haven’t really talked about everything and – “ he paused when Bakugou pressed a hand against his face and rubbed tiredly, as if this was a conversation they’d had many times before, which was so incredibly hilarious because Kirishima could have never anticipated having these kinds of discussions with Bakugou just a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago, all Kirishima had wanted to do was have these kinds of in depth talks with Bakugou – to learn more about him, to be closer to him. Now, suddenly, he found himself missing all of their light-hearted chatter and comfortable banter.

Bakugou sighed harshly before he dropped his hand again, pressing the palm hard against the top of his thigh as he leaned so close that his chest nearly rested on Kirishima’s desk. “Kirishima, do you remember what we did last night?”

He didn’t choke – he didn’t – he just hadn’t been expecting that question. “I mean… yeah, obviously.”

“What did we do?”

Kirishima knew his whole body must be bright red at this point. “Well… we kinda… kissed.”

“No. We didn’t just kinda kiss. We fucking made out and you had your hand up my shirt.” The only acknowledgement of the mutual awkwardness of this conversation was that the tips of Bakugou’s ears turned a little pink. “So why the fuck would I start dating someone else the very next damn day? Do you know how little I want any of this to be happening?” Bakugou’s jaw was tight now as he ground his teeth together and kept Kirishima rooted to the spot with the intensity blazing in his eyes. The hand holding the green tea bottle tightened dangerously. “Do you know how messed up I am right now? I feel like I’m fucking losing it. I don’t even want to fucking go to training today, that’s how delirious I am. So I’m gonna need you to get your shit together because you’re supposed to be the one who knows how to deal with all these feelings and bullshit.”

Kirishima looked at him for a long time. Bakugou was tense, yeah, but he was always tense. It was almost imperceivably to see how nervous he was. “Why did you change your mind?”

Bakugou didn’t answer, just gnawed on his cheek and raised an eyebrow for Kirishima to elaborate.

He shifted a little in his seat. “I’m just… a little confused still. Apprehensive, I guess. It doesn’t feel… real? A few weeks ago, you were so against all of this. But now we’re… this, and you aren’t trying to kill Tokage, and I guess I don’t really…” Kirishima huffed a little laugh in spite of everything, resting a hand awkwardly on the back of his neck. “I guess I don’t really know how to handle you when you aren’t raging.”

Bakugou blinked at him, slow and calculating, mind racing behind his bright eyes. He watched Kirishima as though he expected the redhead to be able to read his thoughts and just know everything. As if he were dreading having to open his mouth and actually speak the words that would finally, finally, solidify all of the madness into something more coherent, something that Kirishima could actually wrap his head around.

The past twenty-four hours have felt like Kirishima’s been floating in liquid, suspended between reality and some of his wildest dreams, and he didn’t know what to believe anymore. Nothing made sense and yet everything felt right, which made it even more unsettling how uncertain Kirishima felt in that moment. Like every move he made had to mean something, like everything breath he took or word he spoke had to convey some answer for the millions of questions spiraling around in his head.

A soft, sturdy knock on the door of the classroom made them both jump and finally look away from each other. Tokage stood in the doorway, smiling politely, as though her presence was not both jarring and unfamiliar.

Bakugou sniffed, glaring down at his lap for a second as he teetered on the edge of something, before he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. Kirishima watched in tense silence as he typed in his passcode and tapped around on the screen before he tossed it down onto Kirishima’s desk and slid it in front of him. Without another word, he snatched up the bottle, stood from his seat, gave Kirishima one last stern, meaningful look, and walked away.

Tokage ducked her head a little as he got closer, eyes casting downward as a small blush dusted across her nose, and Kirishima stiffened a little in his seat. He knew what she was feeling, probably. The first few days of knowing Bakugou, Kirishima hadn’t really been able to look him directly in the eyes either. Those red eyes of his were always so intense and purposeful, framed by soft features that hardened into steadfast lines that made him look both angry and attractive at the same time.

The pair of them left in silence, leaving Kirishima alone to stare after them. A part of him wanted to do something incredibly stupid and demeaning, like follow them, because his incessant desire to know was rearing its ugly head again, but one quick glance down at the foreign phone in front of him made his heart stop.

Bakugou had pulled up a text thread.

His text thread with Uraraka.

It was scrolled all the way up to the very top; timestamped two weeks ago – that eventful Thursday that had skyrocketed this entire situation and sent everything careening out of control.

Kirishima felt like he shouldn’t be looking at this. It was a private conversation, on Bakugou’s private phone (which he’d never really looked at before, he suddenly realized; he didn’t even know what Bakugou’s lock screen looked like), but if he hadn’t wanted Kirishima to see it – specifically to read it – then he wouldn’t have left it behind for him, so it must be important, right?

Steeling himself, trying to calm his racing heart and steady his shaking hands, he leaned over the phone, hunching his shoulders up as though to protect himself, and began to read.

It went something like this:

 

RoundFace: Ok training is done. Srry u missed it today. What did u want to talk about??

Bakugou: It was Kirishima

RoundFace: ?? What was???

Bakugou: The bottle

RoundFace: Oh??

RoundFace: Wait u think Kirishima likes u???

Bakugou: You don’t?

RoundFace: I mean I guess it kinda makes sense…

RoundFace: But like wouldn’t he know that u’d hate that? He’s pretty considerate of things like that. I don’t think he would do anything that would make someone uncomfortable

Bakugou: You think I don’t fucking know that?

RoundFace: What do u want from me tho?? If u already know it was him why don’t u just talk to him about it?

RoundFace: Bakugou?

Bakugou: What the fuck am I even supposed to say to something like that

RoundFace: Idk. Do u like him too??

Bakugou: More than any of you fucking idiots

RoundFace: Rude

RoundFace: But that’s also not really what I asked tho? I mean do u like him like that???

RoundFace: Helloooo?? How am I supposed to help u if u keep ignoring me???

Bakugou: Fuck you I’m fucking thinking

RoundFace: Why do u think it was Kirishima?? Like why do u think he likes u like that?

Bakugou: He’s not fucking subtle

RoundFace: LOL!

RoundFace: Okay fair

RoundFace: U’re not mad at him right???

Bakugou: No

RoundFace: I think u should talk to him about it

RoundFace: ????

RoundFace: U’re so annoying

Bakugou: Fuck you

RoundFace: Do u want my help or not??? Like u’re so confusing. I don’t mind helping u with this but u could lose the attitude

Bakugou: What if there’s another fucking bottle on my desk tomorrow

RoundFace: There won’t be one if u just TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT TONIGHT

Bakugou: I’m fucking downstairs with everybody I’m not just going to fucking blurt it out

RoundFace: U’re downstairs??? Wow. Did u get dragged there or something??

Bakugou: Fuck off

RoundFace: Oooh Kirishima got u to go down

Bakugou: FUCK OFF!!!

RoundFace: :)

RoundFace: I think u guys would be kinda cute together!

Bakugou: Delete my fucking number right now

RoundFace: R u embarrassed??? Or r u actually angry?

Bakugou: I’m furious

RoundFace: So embarrassed

RoundFace: I can get up early tmrrw and try to talk to him before he brings another bottle if it even is him

Bakugou: It’s him

RoundFace: R u certain that it is or r u hoping that it is??

Bakugou: GET FUCKING FUCKED YOU FUCKING DEGENERATE

RoundFace: Ugh u’re so annoying!!!

 

RoundFace: Where did u go???

RoundFace: Helloooo??

RoundFace: I didn’t see anybody else when I got here earlier just the bottle so u can stop freaking out now!!!

Bakugou: It was Kirishima

RoundFace: ??? Did he tell u that himself??

Bakugou: No you fucking idiot

RoundFace: Ugh! Don’t call me that!!

RoundFace: How do u know then??

RoundFace: Did he say something to u in the bathroom???

Bakugou: He was fucking talking about how it was a good thing to have a secret admirer or whatever the fuck and he was fucking looking all stupid

RoundFace: Looking stupid?? What does that mean???

Bakugou: His stupid fucking face was all soft and shit

RoundFace: Happy???

RoundFace: R u trying to say he looked happy??

Bakugou: No fucker I know what fucking happy is I’m not a fucking moron he looked

Bakugou: I don’t fucking know!! It was him!!!

RoundFace: Bakugou

RoundFace: I think maybe u’re freaking out a little bit too much about this

Bakugou: I’m not freaking out I’m fucking pissed!!

RoundFace: But like why?? Does it make u uncomfortable that he likes u?? Cause I can understand that u know. That’s not like a totally outlandish thing to be feeling especially if u don’t like him back

Bakugou: I’m not fucking uncomfortable

Bakugou: It’s Kirishima

RoundFace: Aww! That’s sweet Bakugou! :) U’re right tho it’s hard to be uncomfortable around him. He’s so warm!

Bakugou: SHUT THE FUCKING SHIT UP

RoundFace: Ugh

RoundFace: Why are u so pissed then???

RoundFace: ?????

Bakugou: Why wouldn’t he just fucking say it to my fucking face

RoundFace: Is this like a trick question??

Bakugou: FUCKING WHY WOULD I ASK A FUCKING QUESTION IF I DIDN’T FUCKING MEAN IT

RoundFace: Omg

RoundFace: Well u’re kind of scary sometimes u know and u’ve never rlly showed any interest in anything like this. I’m sure he’s probably worried that if he tells u that u’ll like explodokill his face or whatever and then never talk to him again

Bakugou: He can withstand my howitzer

RoundFace: OMG BAKUGOU THAT’S NOT THE POINT I WAS TRYING TO MAKE!!

RoundFace: Is that rlly all u got out of everything I just said??

RoundFace: How are you so smart AND so stupid????

Bakugou: I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!!!

RoundFace: See???? Why would he tell u to ur face when u would probably just scream at him??

RoundFace: ????

RoundFace: R u dead???

Bakugou: I wouldn’t fucking scream at him

RoundFace: Ok but he doesn’t know that

RoundFace: It’s hard having a crush on someone u know especially a close friend

RoundFace: Or well ok maybe U wouldn’t know but it is

RoundFace: Trust me

Bakugou: Yeah I know you’re fucking crushing on shitty Deku for some fucking reason

RoundFace: What???

RoundFace: How did u know that????

Bakugou: You’re not fucking subtle either you goddamn idiot you’re just as fucking obvious about it as dumbass is

RoundFace: Omg

RoundFace: That’s so embarrassing

Bakugou: Yeah it is

RoundFace: Shut up u’re such a jerk!

RoundFace: I don’t have to help u u know

Bakugou: You’re not even fucking helping me at all

RoundFace: I’m talking u thru everything that’s helping!

Bakugou: NO IT FUCKING ISN’T

RoundFace: What do u want from me???

RoundFace: Like what r u hoping that I can do??

Bakugou: I want you to fucking tell me what to do to make all of this go away

RoundFace: Why do u want it to go away so bad??

RoundFace: Look

RoundFace: U have like three options here

RoundFace: If u don’t like Kirishima like that then u should talk to him about it and tell him that u just want to be friends. Kirishima is a tough guy and he will get over it and he’ll probably still want to be ur friend even if u don’t like him like that because he’s so nice and he would probably rather still keep u as a friend than lose u all together

RoundFace: If u want all of the tea bottle stuff to stop happening then u need to talk to him about it because he will probably keep doing it if u don’t say anything about it because he probably doesn’t think u’re getting the message or something

RoundFace: And if u don’t like him like that and u rlly just want everything to go away including his friendship then u still need to talk to him and let him down GENTLY and tell him that u’re uncomfortable and u don’t want to spend as much time with him anymore

RoundFace: But like u still need to TALK TO HIM because otherwise everything will just stay the same as it is

RoundFace: ???

RoundFace: Did u finally block me???

Bakugou: He’s fucking avoiding me

RoundFace: Why?? What did u do?

Bakugou: FUCKING NOTHING!!

RoundFace: Ok well idk I don’t rlly believe that??

Bakugou: Fuck

Bakugou: Come to my fucking room

RoundFace: Rlly????

Bakugou: WTF! WHY THE FUCK WOULD I TELL YOU TO AND THEN NOT BE FUCKING SERIOUS ABOUT IT

RoundFace: Ugh

RoundFace: Fine

 

Bakugou: He wants to hang out this weekend

RoundFace: Ok well that’s good u can talk to him then

RoundFace: Right??

Bakugou: Now he’s not fucking answering me

RoundFace: Well he’s probably a little put off after you YELLED AT HIM today

Bakugou: I DIDN’T FUCKING YELL AT HIM FUCK WE TALKED ABOUT THIS

RoundFace: U’re exhausting to talk to

Bakugou: FUCK YOU!!!

Bakugou: He’s fucking got raccoon eyes in his room now

RoundFace: Ok?? They’re pretty good friends

Bakugou: He always fucking hangs out on Friday night

RoundFace: ????

RoundFace: Wait r u jealous??

Bakugou: FUCKING NO

RoundFace: Omg u’re jealous of ASHIDO??

Bakugou: FUCK YOU I AM NOT

RoundFace: Ok

RoundFace: Can u please talk to him tmrrw?

Bakugou: Why the fuck should I? He’s not even answering my texts

RoundFace: LOL

RoundFace: Because u always answer his right????

RoundFace: U do see the irony don’t u??

Bakugou: Fuck off

RoundFace: Why don’t u go sparring with him or something? He likes sparring with u

Bakugou: And fucking say what

RoundFace: Omg u’re so dumb!!!

RoundFace: Tell him u aren’t mad at him

RoundFace: Because u aren’t right??

Bakugou: No

RoundFace: Ok then just tell him that

Bakugou: Fucking and then what??

RoundFace: Omg Bakugou!! Just hang out with him!!! If u keep making everything weird then everything is going to stay weird

Bakugou: I’m not fucking making anything weird he’s the one leaving me fucking bottles and shit

RoundFace: Oh no ur friend did something nice for u

RoundFace: Alert the hero network. Bring in the pros

Bakugou: I fucking hate you

RoundFace: I can’t believe I have to walk u thru all of this

RoundFace: Just go sparring with him and tell him u aren’t mad at him and he’ll probably be so happy that everything is ok between u guys that he’ll take the lead and make everything feel normal again

RoundFace: Hellooo? R u going to do that or not??

Bakugou: Fucking fine

RoundFace: Finally. Tell me how it goes

 

Bakugou: She was in his fucking bed this morning

RoundFace: ??? Who was??

Bakugou: Fucking raccoon eyes!

RoundFace: Ok??

RoundFace: Oh u’re jealous again

Bakugou: I AM NOT

RoundFace: Where r u?? Why r u up?

Bakugou: I’m fucking going to the gym to spar like u fucking said to

RoundFace: Omg it’s so early WHY?!?!?

Bakugou: WTF WHEN THE FUCK ELSE WAS I SUPPOSED TO

RoundFace: U’re so weird omg idk why Kirishima likes u

Bakugou: Fuck off

 

RoundFace: U guys r actually rlly cute together the more that I look at u two! :)

 

RoundFace: How did it go today?

Bakugou: Fucking weird

RoundFace: Like u made it weird???

Bakugou: Fucking NO

Bakugou: Him and fucking raccoon eyes are sneaking out tomorrow night

RoundFace: What?? Why???

Bakugou: Fucking to catch the secret admirer in the act or something

RoundFace: …

RoundFace: Wait

RoundFace: What???? I thought u said it was Kirishima

Bakugou: IT FUCKING IS

RoundFace: Ok but then why would Kirishima go with Ashido to catch the secret admirer if he is the secret admirer???

Bakugou: I don’t fucking know

RoundFace: I’m confused

Bakugou: FUCKING SO AM I

RoundFace: R u SURE it’s Kirishima???

Bakugou: Fucking yes who the fuck else would it fucking be

RoundFace: Idk it could be someone else u’re kind of cute sometimes when u aren’t going nuts

Bakugou: WHAT THE SHIT

RoundFace: Omg! I don’t like u chill out! Ppl can think other ppl r cute without liking them u know

Bakugou: I’m not fucking cute

RoundFace: Lol

RoundFace: Ok

Bakugou: I’M FUCKING NOT

RoundFace: OK!

RoundFace: I still don’t understand the whole sneaking out thing tho

Bakugou: He probably fucking hasn’t told raccoon eyes that it was him

RoundFace: OH!

RoundFace: Maybe yeah

RoundFace: It would definitely be her idea to do this and he probably panicked when she asked him to go with her so he just agreed to go with her so he wouldn’t look suspicious

RoundFace: That’s smart

RoundFace: ????

RoundFace: R we done talking???

Bakugou: I’m going with them

RoundFace: Oh god

RoundFace: Why???

Bakugou: What the fuck else am I supposed to do

RoundFace: U’re frustrated

Bakugou: FUCKING YEAH I AM

Bakugou: I JUST FUCKING WANT THINGS TO GO BACK TO FUCKING NORMAL

RoundFace: What is happening that isn’t normal besides the tea bottles tho???

RoundFace: U keep saying he’s making things weird but what he is doing that’s making everything so weird for u?? He doesn’t seem like he’s acting any differently at least not that I can see

RoundFace: UUUGH HELLOOOO??????

Bakugou: He just fucking is

Bakugou: He fucking looks different

RoundFace: ??? No he doesn’t??

Bakugou: FUCK YOU YES HE DOES

Bakugou: His hair is fucking different or something

Bakugou: Cause I fucking notice it so it has to be different why else would I fucking notice shit that I didn’t notice before unless it was fucking different

RoundFace: Omg

RoundFace: U’re so dumb

Bakugou: WHAT THE SHIT

RoundFace: U like him too!

Bakugou: WHAT THE FUCKING SHIT NO I FUCKING DON’T!!!!

RoundFace: Yeah u do u just didn’t know that u did

RoundFace: Omg u’re so so dumb

RoundFace: I am shooketh

Bakugou: WHAT THE SHIT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN

Bakugou: I DON’T FUCKING LIKE HIM

RoundFace: Why not??

Bakugou: WHAT THE FUCK

RoundFace: I’m being serious tho

RoundFace: Like

RoundFace: U guys get along really well and u actually like spending time with him right?? He’s really sweet and doesn’t mind all ur yelling and stuff and u guys make a rlly good team when u’re sparring and everything

RoundFace: Do u think he’s cute???

Bakugou: HOLY FUCKING SHIT STOP TEXTING ME

RoundFace: OMG!!

RoundFace: U THINK HE’S CUTE!!!!

Bakugou: FUCKING NO I FUCKING DON’T

Bakugou: THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID

RoundFace: He IS rlly cute Bakugou! It’s just a fact. Like his hair is rlly nice and he has such a pretty smile and the scar over his eye is sooo adorable!

Bakugou: FUCKING WHAT THE FUCK I THOUGHT YOU FUCKING LIKED SHITTY DEKU

RoundFace: Bakugou!

RoundFace: Ppl can think other people are cute and not like them!!

Bakugou: So then I don’t fucking like him

RoundFace: But then u think he’s cute???

Bakugou: Oh my fucking god

Bakugou: Yes

RoundFace: :)

RoundFace: That’s so sweet!

Bakugou: SHUT THE FUCK UP

RoundFace: Bakugou it’s not a BAD thing

RoundFace: You don’t look stupid or anything for thinking he’s cute! If anything it makes u look better because now I know u actually have a heart lol

RoundFace: Omg stop freaking out!!

Bakugou: I’M NOT FREAKING OUT

RoundFace: U’re so freaking out!!!

RoundFace: Would u relax for just like one hour please???

RoundFace: Why don’t u tell him???

RoundFace: ????

RoundFace: Hellooooooo

 

RoundFace: Where r u??

 

Bakugou: It’s fucking weird again

RoundFace: What is??

Bakugou: He left a fucking note on my fucking forehead this morning

RoundFace: ??? I’m so lost u disappeared for like a whole day

RoundFace: Can u just walk me thru whatever u’re thinking right now because I’m not a mind reader and u’re so difficult to understand

RoundFace: U asked for my help kinda and I want to help u so like??

RoundFace: EARTH TO BAKUGOU!!!!

Bakugou: I fucking liked shit the way things were before all this fucking shit happened

Bakugou: This is so fucking goddamn annoying

RoundFace: Why is it so bad tho??

Bakugou: It’s fucking distracting

RoundFace: But doesn’t it make u feel good???

RoundFace: Like doesn’t it feel nice to look at him and know that someone likes u for who u r???

RoundFace: Omg

RoundFace: U think it’s weak or something don’t u

RoundFace: U’re so annoying!!

RoundFace: IT’S NOT WEAK!!!

RoundFace: It would probably make u of all people stronger even

Bakugou: Fucking how

RoundFace: Because it would give u motivation! U’d have someone to work hard for to impress and fight for and all of that

RoundFace: And it rlly wouldn’t be that different from how u guys r now honestly

Bakugou: How

RoundFace: Well like u guys would still go to class and train together and u’d still be on the path to becoming heroes and u’ll probably still do the same things u’ve always done together just as a couple instead of as friends. It’s not like anything momentous would change

Bakugou: He would expect shit from me

RoundFace: ??? What do u mean?

Bakugou: Like lovey fucking shit

RoundFace: Hmm I rlly don’t think so??

RoundFace: He’d probably just like want u to hold his hand and kiss him and stuff

Bakugou: FUCKING THAT’S LOVEY SHIT

RoundFace: Wait so u don’t want to kiss him???

Bakugou: WHAT THE SHIT FUCK OFF

RoundFace: ????

RoundFace: Do u rlly not see how little of an argument u have here?? Like u r literally not making any valid points at all

RoundFace: Bakugou?

RoundFace: R u afraid that u’ll mess it up or something?

RoundFace: Omg!!

RoundFace: Bakugou… :/

RoundFace: U wouldn’t mess it up!!

Bakugou: Fucking how do you fucking know I don’t fucking know anything about this fucking shit

RoundFace: Because the fact that u’re even worried about messing anything up in the first place shows that u would work rlly hard NOT to mess it up and as long as u’re putting in the effort there’s nothing to mess up! It’s rlly not as hard as u’re thinking it is. Relationships r supposed to be relaxing and make u feel good it’s not like it would be torture

Bakugou: It would fuck up our friendship

RoundFace: It rlly wouldn’t…

RoundFace: Ok

RoundFace: I think u should tell him how u feel

Bakugou: FUCKING I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW I FUCKING FEEL

RoundFace: Yes u do!! If u weren’t being so stubborn about this it would be so easy for u to understand!!

RoundFace: It’s okay for u to be feeling like this!! U guys r rlly close and I think u would be rlly good together and it’s probably scary for u because u’ve obviously never dealt with anything like this before but Kirishima is a rlly patient and understanding guy! He would never do anything that u wouldn’t want!

RoundFace: And also this whole thing is rlly exhausting. Don’t u want it to be over?? If u just take the leap and get the initial talk over with then things can settle back down again I PROMISE!

RoundFace: ???

Bakugou: I don’t even fucking know how to do something like that

RoundFace: U’re smart Bakugou u’ll figure it out. Just find a time to talk to him. If u told Kirishima all of this and told him that u’re afraid of messing things up then he would understand! He’s probably scared of messing things up to!!

RoundFace: U both care about each other and u’re both strong so I rlly rlly RLLY don’t think it’ll be horrible and traumatizing like u think it will be

RoundFace: Ok?

Bakugou: Fine

RoundFace: Yay!! I’ll be rooting for u! :) Good luck!!!

Bakugou: Shut up

RoundFace: So rude

 

Bakugou: Thanks

RoundFace: !!! Did u talk to him??? How did it go? :)

RoundFace: I didn’t hear u explode anything so it can’t have been that bad LOL!

Bakugou: It went fine

RoundFace: Come oooon I helped u thru all of that and I don’t even get to know any details!?! :(

Bakugou: We fucking talked in my room and he told me he fucking liked me which I already fucking knew

RoundFace: Aaaand??

RoundFace: Did u kiss him????

Bakugou: FUCK OFF

RoundFace: OMG AWWW U KISSED HIM!!!!

RoundFace: I can’t believe I care so much about ur love life lol but that is rlly cute!

Bakugou: I hate you

RoundFace: :) I’m glad things worked out for u Bakugou!

RoundFace: R u guys dating now???

Bakugou: No

RoundFace: Wait what???

RoundFace: Why not :(

Bakugou: It’s too much

RoundFace: Oh??

Bakugou: We’re just fucking taking it easy

RoundFace: Ok ok I understand. That’s probably good! It’s still rlly new probably for both of u so it’s okay to go slow about things

Bakugou: He wasn’t the fucking admirer

RoundFace: :O

RoundFace: WHAT?!?!?

RoundFace: Wait who is then????

Bakugou: I don’t fucking know obviously

RoundFace: Oh no

RoundFace: Kirishima is probably rlly upset by all of this then

Bakugou: What the fuck does that mean

RoundFace: Well someone has been leaving you little bottles and notes and stuff right in front of him and he has had to watch it all happen and pretend not to care

Bakugou: Fuck

RoundFace: He didn’t say anything about it to u???

Bakugou: Fucking no

RoundFace: :/

RoundFace: What r u going to do?

Bakugou: I don’t fucking know

RoundFace: Ok

RoundFace: Can I say what I think u should do??

Bakugou: Fucking finally

Bakugou: Hurry the fuck up before I pass out

RoundFace: I think u should try to show Kirishima that u care about him even if u aren’t officially dating or anything. Like obviously don’t do anything u don’t want to do but if u can hold his hand or do small things just do them for his sake. I know it’ll probably be awkward at first and u don’t want to go too fast or anything and I get that and I won’t tell anyone but he’s probably kind of sensitive right now so when it finally comes out who the secret admirer is just make sure u’re there for him ok?

Bakugou: Fine

RoundFace: :)

RoundFace: I rlly am happy for u guys!

Bakugou: Shut the fuck up already

RoundFace: LOL u’re so weird

 

 

And that was it.

Kirishima stared at the last few text messages until the phone screen went black, and then he stared at his own tiny reflection for a little bit longer. He tried to process everything he’d just read.

Bakugou had always known about the way Kirishima’s felt about him. Which, okay, he supposed maybe he hadn’t really been as nonchalant and careful about everything as he thought he had been. But Bakugou also hadn’t pushed him away or refuted any of his efforts, even back then. And reading this, seeing it all play out before his own eyes… it was easier to understand how they’d gone from Bakugou puking in the bathroom to them kissing in the middle of his dorm room. It made sense now.

The uncertainty and unknowing that had been gripping at Kirishima’s insides loosened and dissipated. He let his shoulders slump and he finally took in a breath that actually filled his lungs for the first time in what felt like years.

Bakugou liked him. He definitely wasn’t happy about it, considering how much he despised things like this, but there was no doubt about it anymore. Bakugou liked him. And Kirishima liked him. They liked each other. They’d kissed. And they were still friends. Everything was fine.

Kirishima glanced towards the doorway. Bakugou was out there somewhere, probably in some empty hallway or classroom somewhere with Tokage, and he was probably letting her down. Was he telling her that he already liked somebody else? Kirishima didn’t know, he probably would never know what they talked about, but somehow that thought didn’t make him ache anymore.

They liked each other. And here he was, moping about it.

Why was he moping about it?

A little smile tugged at the corners of his mouth before he could hold it back.

They liked each other! Oh god, Bakugou really liked him!

Holy SHIT!

He grabbed up Bakugou’s phone and his bag and sprang to his feet before he hurried out of the room, smiling so wide that his cheeks were already starting to hurt. It played in his head like a mantra, echoing back at him with every step he took. He likes me, he likes me, he likes me. Last night wasn’t just a fluke, or a lapse in judgement, or whatever he’d been so worried about it being.

Bakugou was struggling with this, the emotions and the daunting reality of it was probably harder for him to handle than it was for Kirishima, but he was willing to give it a try – to give them a try. He was willing to put in the effort, for him. He was scared of screwing things up, just like he was. They were in this together.

With every new thought that popped into his head, his mood felt more elated. The weight on his shoulders grew lighter and lighter. It was finally over. And yet, it was just starting, really. He had all the time in the world with Bakugou now, as long as the other boy wanted him too. They would figure everything out, one step at a time, side-by-side, just like they always had.

He turned the corner and slowed when he saw Bakugou leaning against the wall a few meters away from the Lunch Rush entrance. In his pale hands, he held two to-go boxes, and Kirishima’s heart soared.

There he was. Bakugou Katsuki, waiting for him with a boxed lunch and a familiar scowl.

Kirishima beamed at him when Bakugou’s eyes finally slid over to him as he drew closer. “How did it go?” He asked and he couldn’t do much to stifle the excitement in his voice.

Bakugou cocked an eyebrow, his cheeks tinting pink. “You’re in a fucking better mood.” He shoved one of the boxes into Kirishima’s chest when he came to a stop in front of him, grumbling something about it being his favorite. “It went fine. She fucking understood or whatever.”

“What’d you say?” Kirishima was still grinning as he opened the box to peer inside. It was indeed his favorite. He hadn’t even known that Bakugou knew what his favorite Lunch Rush order was until that moment. It made his chest feel warm and tingly.

“Told her I already had an idiot so I couldn’t adopt another.” Bakugou snorted.

Kirishima laughed, a genuine laugh, and it felt so good coming out of him. Bakugou smirked at him, obviously pleased with himself, before he pushed away from the wall and turned his back towards the cafeteria entrance. He held out his hand.

“Oh, right,” Kirishima closed the to-go box and reached into his pocket to take Bakugou’s phone out and give it back to him.

Bakugou stared at the phone in his hand as if he’d never seen it before. He huffed out a laugh, ears tinging a darker red, before he rolled his eyes and shoved his phone into his back pocket. He held out his hand again.

Kirishima stared at it, a little dumb founded, before he caught eyes with him.

Bakugou looked exasperated. “Fucking shit you idiot are you going to hold my damn hand or not?”

Kirishima started in surprise before a timid smile grew on his lips. “Yeah?”

Bakugou wiped his hand on his pant leg before he held it out again more aggressively, face burning, his chin jutting out like a challenge. Whether it was directed at Kirishima or himself was still up for debate. Kirishima bit his lip to keep from smiling too much like an idiot before he slowly intertwined their fingers together.

It was exactly how he thought it would be. He could feel the callouses on Bakugou’s palm against his own. There was a thin layer of sweat despite the fact that he’d just attempted to wipe it away but Kirishima found, much like he’d originally thought, that he didn’t really care. He squeezed the blonde’s hand, who stuck his tongue into his cheek like he was fighting either not to smile or resisting the urge to run away, before he squeezed back, maybe a little too hard.

“You good?” Kirishima asked through a beaming smile.

Bakugou studied his face before the left side of his mouth ticked up into a little smile of his own. “Fucking great.”

Kirishima laughed, maybe a little too giddily, before he followed the other boy away to eat outside.

 

 

Two months.

They’d been together for two months now.

Kirishima still couldn’t really believe it.

He glanced up from his food and looked at the blonde sitting next to him, who was far too engrossed in an argument with Kaminari to notice. Or maybe he did notice, since he pressed their thighs together and slid his foot around Kirishima’s own so that their ankles were touching under the table. Kirishima tried not to smile too dumbly as he shoveled rice into his mouth.

They still hadn’t really told anybody. The only people who knew were Uraraka, Mina, Todoroki (of all people, the sneaky bastard), and maybe Sero, though he had yet to say anything to either of them about it. Still, the way he stared at them sometimes made Kirishima think that he at least had an idea that something was going on.

Uraraka had been right. Not much really changed between them over these past two months. Which was more of a relief than anything else.

Bakugou still waited for him every morning so they could walk to class together, except now he waited outside Kirishima’s door instead of in the common area so that he could peck him on the lips. His cheeks still flushed every time and Kirishima didn’t think he’d ever get over seeing him like that.

They still went to classes, except now sometimes Kirishima would find Bakugou staring at him and they’d share a little smile and it would make Kirishima’s insides dissolve into truly embarrassing goo.

They still trained after class together, except now Bakugou got incredibly flustered whenever Kirishima complimented him or squeezed his bicep or pinched his cheek, which just made Kirishima want to do it even more.

They still studied together, except now sometimes Kirishima would find himself openly staring, and Bakugou would always catch him and they’d look at each other before one of them finally leaned in and they’d kiss in the privacy of their dorms.

Kirishima still tried to convince Bakugou to hang out with the rest of their classmates, except now Bakugou seemed to resist less and less, groaning and rolling his eyes any time Kirishima flashed a pleading look that he knew Bakugou couldn’t say no to.

It’d been two months since they got together and true, not much had changed. And yet, everything seemed to be different now. Better. Closer. Warmer. Lighter.

Bakugou glanced at him out of the corner of his eye when Kaminari turned to grab Tokoyami’s attention and he sent Kirishima a little wink that had Kirishima blushing and looking down at his food and biting his lip to keep from smiling too stupidly. Mina saw the whole exchange, but she pretended that she didn’t.

When lunch was over, they gathered up their trays and threw away their leftovers before marching back to class. Bakugou’s knuckles brushed against his and Kirishima turned his smile towards Sero and pretended to have been paying attention to whatever he was saying. The air around them felt light and charged with electricity as they gathered back into their classroom. Or maybe that was just Kirishima.

He came to a surprised stop when he registered that something was off.

There, sitting innocently on the top of his desk, was an unopened packet of meat sticks with a little note on it. His heart leapt into his throat as Kaminari groaned loudly from beside him.

“Are you kidding me! Another one! Why isn’t anyone crushing on ME?!”

Kirishima’s hand moved on its own as he plucked the note from the little snack package and held it up to read it.

Enjoy fucker.

Kirishima felt the smile slowly take over his face until he knew he had the world’s most obnoxious shit-eating grin. He looked over at Bakugou’s desk, who was pretending to be interested in his notebook, despite his own broad smirk and the little dusting of color on his cheeks.

“Looks like someone’s got a secret admirer,” Mina crooned with a wink.

Kirishima’s cheeks blazed as he sat down in his seat. “I guess I do,” he replied happily.

Bakugou snorted from somewhere on the other side of the room.