It's the jostling that first pings Bakugou's awareness; like being strapped to the back of a horse. It should concern him, probably, but his conscious mind is sluggish, and worrying feels like too much work.
It's a rough ride, though. Bakugou's stomach flips weakly, and his instinctive recoil at the thought of vomiting sharpens his senses. A voice? Is someone… muttering? He does his best to focus.
"Oh god oh god oh god oh—"
Okay, then. Bakugou's gonna hurl, and there's someone nearby panicking. Perhaps related? He has no idea. "Furrgh," he articulates, relieved when only his voice exits his mouth.
"BAKUGOU-KUN!" blasts into his ear, and hell if that doesn't pop his eyes right open. "Are you awake?! I could use a little help, here!"
Dumbfounded, Bakugou assesses what he can of the situation. Scenery passes in a blur. He is cradled in someone's arms. Turning his head, Ingenium's helmet and armor swim into view.
A bridal carry? Bakugou's mind squawks, but then his gorge rises, and it's all he can do to aim himself off to Iida's side. It's humiliating, the contents of his stomach ripped from his mouth as soon as he opens it. Like tossin' his cookies from a car window on the freeway. Oh. OH. Iida's quirk. He's hauling ass.
"Bakugou-kun, behind us!" Iida screams, and it finally registers they are in danger. Twisting as best he can in Iida's grip, he peeks over Iida's shoulder.
Oh hell no. He cannot even process what he's seeing. A terrified shout tears from his lungs. "WHAT IS THAT?" he manages at last, because it looks like a cat and runs like a cat, but it is keeping up with Iida, that is not possible, and it's at least six meters tall.
"SCARE IT OFF!"
Ah. Iida makes a fair point. Bakugou's stomach lurches when Iida takes a hard right, skidding effortlessly around a corner like some high-budget action film star. "Bakugou-kun, NOW!"
So stinkin' bossy, Bakugou grumbles to himself, but he doesn't exactly have a better plan. With a muttered curse, he throws his arms over Iida's shoulders and unleashes.
It blasts the two of them forward (Oh, he jumped in the air, how did he time that so perfectly? For that matter, how is he still hanging on to me? His upper-body strength is unreal) and Bakugou watches the monster cat rear back from his explosions, darting away.
His triumph is immediate. It is also short-lived, because they land, hard, tumbling ass over teakettle through a pile of trash, and he is bounced from Iida's grasp. "Oh my gaahd," Bakugou groans when he comes to rest, splayed limbs-out like a starfish. Iida scrambles over, yanking his helmet from his head, and begins searching Bakugou for injuries.
"I'm fine—CUT IT OUT, I'm fine!" Slapping Iida's hands away, he drags himself upright. "What the hell WAS that thing? And why was I passed out?"
Iida's grimace is… unsettling. "How much do you remember," Iida mutters, hopping to his feet and scanning the area. "Never mind. Follow me. We can talk once we're safe."
Mouth cocked with an indignant reply, it finally occurs to Bakugou he has no idea where they are. The crispy crap they crash-landed in looks like… Well, gigantic leaves, if Bakugou had to guess. The terrain is rugged, rough-hewn boulders stretching tarry and black before him like volcano-spew.
Maybe he can follow Iida's lead for now. Just until he gets his bearings.
It becomes apparent Iida didn't intend to give him a choice. He's dang near out of shouting range by the time Bakugou hoists himself to his feet. Ugh, Iida is fast even walking. "HEY! Jackass, wait up!" The hand Iida lifts over his shoulder, carelessly beckoning him closer, sets his teeth on edge.
Furious, he hustles to catch up. "What are you doing? Do you even know where we are? Maybe don't order me around like some—"
"I told you," Iida interrupts, voice perfectly controlled, and Bakugou still recognizes that tone more than a decade out of high school. "We can compare notes once we are safe."
He's pissed. Not that it matters to Bakugou whether Iida is angry. Bakugou is a grown-ass man and definitely not obsessed with the approval of someone he's been secretly lusting after for years. Who cares if the guy is built like a greek god? What does it matter if he's intelligent and ambitious and confident? That his smile could probably make plants grow? Those are facts, certainly, but Bakugou shakes them off like the professional he is. He just wants to know what the hell is going on.
Hating the way he needs three steps for every two of Iida's long strides, he stays quiet. Show-off, he grumbles internally. Sorry my legs aren't tree trunks.
The 'snick' of a blade jerks Bakugou's attention to Iida's hand, a knife appearing out of—as far as Bakugou is concerned—nowhere. Saying nothing, Iida stops at a strange, low platform. Bakugou stifles a gasp when Iida plunges the knife into it.
"The-hell-are-you-doing?" he rushes out, gaping as Iida tears downward. Wait, is that… paper? Cardboard? It's… a container of some kind, and Iida is determinedly slicing one of the short ends off of it.
Bakugou steps to the side for a better view. "Is that… a huge sculpture of a juice box?" he asks, just as Iida completes his task and tosses the bottom away.
Iida lifts the entire thing in the air, unwieldy and heavy as it must be, and holds it over his head, like all of this should make perfect sense. Bakugou wants to punch him. "Get in WHAT? What are you doing?!"
Iida's sigh sets every hair on Bakugou's body on end. "Please," Iida concedes, and he looks so tired. "Get in, and I will explain."
FINE, god. A few moments—and a couple of whispered curses—later, Bakugou takes a slow breath. "Iida," he seethes, and Iida's eyes flicker to him before looking away. "Could you kindly tell me why we are standing inside a juice box?" Bakugou kicks the plastic straw hanging between them instead of Iida, and congratulates himself for showing mercy.
"You were far more pleasant to deal with when you were unconscious," Iida snips, and says nothing more. Just... stops talking.
And Bakugou waits, too. Because surely, surely after all of this, after promising to explain, after HIDING THEM INSIDE A JUICE BOX, Iida requires no further prompting. The silence stretches on, deafening. Or maybe that's Bakugou's rage rip-roaring behind his eardrums.
"I will absolutely murder your self-righteous ass," Bakugou remarks, conversational.
Iida rolls his eyes. "We've been shrunk. Shrunken? Ah, it hardly matters. My best estimate is six centimeters or so." He holds his hand flat at the top of his head. "Like a tube of lip balm."
Bakugou blinks. Leans forward. Iida darts him another glance. "What?"
"THAT'S IT? That's all you have to say? We are huddled up in a piece of garbage, Glasses. Feel free to, you know, expound."
The knife reappears (Is that a magic trick or something?!) and Iida begins carving himself a peephole.
"We were struck with a quirk during the convenience store robbery," he explains, punctuating every other word or so with a sharp slash. "We are tiny. When I came to, I had no idea where I was. I saw you—" Iida pauses, tearing a square of the box away, and shifts to cut a hole for Bakugou. "I saw you as I was running for my life from a cockroach, in the interest of full disclosure."
"A cockroach," Bakugou snorts. "So that was just a regular cat."
Iida nods, finishing Bakugou's little window before stepping back to his own. "And we'd have died a regular death in its jaws."
"Safety, in your mind, is a juice box."
"We can move around this way and not attract attention," Iida glides out like he is some sort of grizzled, war-hardened expert at being no larger than an action figure.
"God, you're obnoxious."
This, strangely enough, finally garners a reaction other than annoyance. Iida's lips pull back, eyes crinkling with what Bakugou swears is hurt. "I'm aware," Iida breathes, and pushes a hand to each side of the box. "Come on. This is a temporary solution. I'd like to make it to those gachapon machines so we can hide in there."
Inexplicably chastened, Bakugou nods and spreads his arms as well. He'll be damned if he's going to apologize, or thank Iida for saving him from that stupid house cat. Still, he could… say something.
"Glad we're not dead," he mutters as they crab-walk toward what must be the convenience store. Bakugou has no idea where they're going, honestly, and is suddenly very grateful for Iida. Who knows what sort of stupid shit Bakugou would be doing, if left to his own devices?
Merrily digesting in the gut-juices of a common house cat, his brain supplies. He sneaks a look at Iida, and feels like a supreme asshole. "So, hiding in a gachapon," he says, but it comes out just as hateful as everything else, and his eyes close in frustration.
"I look forward to your superior planning and ideas," Iida lilts, and the smile he bestows upon Bakugou is all teeth. "What a blessing, to have—"
A sharp, sudden thud against the box nearly tips them over. Their garbled curses echo within the cramped space, the two wide-eyed and gaping at each other, waiting for the death-blow. "The cat," Bakugou hisses, and their hands press harder to the walls.
There's another thump. Then another. An excruciating handful of seconds passes, and they are markedly NOT dead, nor has the box tipped. "What on earth," Iida whispers, and cautiously peeks outside.
Bakugou is half-waiting for a jump scare, so Iida's laughter catches him a bit off-guard. "The hell—"
"Rain," Iida chuckles, turning to Bakugou with a wide, dimpled grin. Bakugou's heart speeds in his chest, the way it always does when Iida genuinely smiles at him. "I suppose it's different when we're so small."
Clearing his throat, Bakugou wills himself to calm down and jerks his chin toward the store. "Let's get a move on, then, before we drown."
It takes them far longer than Bakugou would like. Iida keeps up a near-constant stream of chatter; seems he's tried his com in his helmet (dead), his cellphone (no service, and Bakugou discovers his is the same), hollering at random passers-by (he nearly got stomped and decided it wasn't worth the risk), and was planning on kicking out a quirk-fueled S-O-S against the side of a dumpster when the cockroach 'ambushed' him and sent him screaming for cover.
Once Bakugou has stopped laughing—for the most part—he asks where the cat came into the picture.
"I nearly had us to the gachapons," Iida grumbles, squinting through the peephole. "We were lucky, to be honest. I heard someone try to get the cat's attention, which was the only reason I knew it was there, though it very much had its eye on me. The guy distracted it long enough for me to get a running start."
"Holy shit," Bakugou snickers, smirking. "What were you gonna do if I didn't wake up?"
"Die with you in my arms, I would imagine," Iida murmurs. Suddenly, Bakugou finds it hard to swallow. Without Bakugou weighing him down, Iida could have easily escaped.
"We're here," Iida continues, as if he hasn't just wiped Bakugou's mental hard drive with the most romantic words anyone has ever said to him. "Once we ditch this box, we can use our quirks to fly up to the dispenser opening."
Stop staring and SAY something! Bakugou is exhausted, freezing, soaked from the knees down, and his cheeks must be the color of a stop light for how hot they're burning. "Okay," he manages weakly, and Iida turns to him, brows knitting in concern.
"Are you all right? You look—"
"I'm FINE. Let's just—" Dropping his hands to his sides, Bakugou scowls and looks away. "How are we doing this?"
His body chooses that moment to produce a mortifying, full-length shiver. Ugh, he is going to perish in this god-forsaken juice box while he's no larger than a thumb. What will they do at his funeral? Maybe they'll display him in a little glass case, wrangled into some badass, dramatic pose. A man can dream.
With a final peek outside, Iida straightens his shoulders and gives Bakugou a decisive nod. "I'll go first, and get the flap lifted. You follow, and then we can both duck inside."
It goes about as well as they could hope; they end up huddled at the back of the dispenser, safe from cats and cockroaches and the rapidly worsening storm. They're also drenched, and tired as hell.
"If someone comes looking for us, they'll never find us in here," Bakugou pushes through chattering teeth.
"We'll hear them, and can flag them down."
"Why's it taking so long? Surely someone's figured out what's happened to us by now."
A long, shuddering sigh gusts from Iida's chest. "I don't know. At least we are no longer in danger."
"Unless we freeze to death," Bakugou snaps, rubbing his hands over his bare arms. "It just HAD to rain."
Iida's soft, understanding smile is too damned much for Bakugou's heart. He wants to taste it. Figures; he finally gets some extended alone-time with the guy, and they are both running on fumes and thoroughly miserable.
The snap of Iida's armor-releasing mechanism is startling, ricocheting off the metal walls of their shelter. For a panicked heartbeat, Bakugou fears he is naked under there, and squeezes his eyes shut. "What are you DOING?" he hisses, refusing to look.
"Take off your gauntlets."
Scowling, Bakugou whips his head to Iida (who is—mercifully—clothed, though the skin-tight undergear is heart-stopping in its own way). "My gauntlets? Why did you—"
"Body heat," Iida replies, shooting Bakugou a mischievous smile. "Come here; we can keep each other warm."
"I am not snuggling you."
"Why not? Is this really the time to be embarrassed? It isn't a big deal, is it?" Even Iida's chuckle is warm, filling the space. "Survival 101."
Bakugou hates that Iida's right. Hates that he wants to, and it has nothing to do with survival. "Just dying for an excuse to get your hands on me, huh," he mutters.
"Am I so transparent?"
The words are little more than a purr, delivered into Bakugou's ear on a puff of hot breath. Bakugou must be losing it; how did the man get that close without him noticing? And is he saying...
"You want to touch me," Bakugou whispers, motionless. If he turned his head, their lips would—
"I want many things," Iida laughs, but comes no closer. Why did he stop? Bakugou can feel the heat radiating off the long line of him at Bakugou's side, can feel how carefully Iida is not touching him.
He's asking permission, Bakugou realizes as Iida speaks again.
"What do you want?"
Bakugou isn't certain he could speak even if he tried; he's never been good with words. He lets his gauntlets slide from his arms, pulling in a steadying breath.
Tentatively, he lifts a hand to Iida's neck, gliding along warm skin to the close-trimmed hair at his nape, and Iida's sudden grin nearly takes out his knees. God in heaven, the man is beautiful.
"Okay," Iida whispers, sturdy arms encircling Bakugou's torso, and then he is stealing the very breath from Bakugou's lungs.
It's searing after the chill in the air, Iida's mouth soft but determined on his own, and he lets Iida crowd him against the wall, bodies pressed together from chest to thigh. He'd expected something chaste, or timid… It's shocking, thrilling, when Iida pushes into his mouth, chasing his tongue.
His hands are mighty adventurous too, Bakugou notes amusedly, and lets his own palm graze Iida's side, settling over the jut of Iida's hip. Making out is definitely not in HIS copy of the 'Survival Basics' manual, but holy shit, it should be, with how quickly the two have chased off the cold.
He can't help the grin that stretches his lips. With a tiny huff of laughter, Iida slides his own smile along Bakugou's jawline, easing down to his neck, slick and tingling hot. It hitches Bakugou's breath, and Iida hums, obviously pleased.
"Glasses," Bakugou chuckles, "Since when are you—"
Whatever teasing Bakugou had planned is abruptly interrupted. Blinding light erupts around them, the sound of explosions and screeching metal drowning out their terrified screaming, and then as quickly as it started, it is over.
"What the actual f-gghell," Iida groans from beneath him. Bakugou opens his eyes to find them both sprawled across the sidewalk, rain sheeting down. The gachapon is blasted to hell and back, pieces of plastic and metal littering the pavement.
"We're back," Bakugou slurs, groggy and sore, just as a man flies from the convenience store with phone in-hand.
"SIRS!" he hollers, clearly terrified. "Are you okay?"
"Call the police," Iida instructs, his voice somehow just as calm as ever, "and tell them Ingenium and Dynamight have been found."
Bakugou allows himself a few more heartbeats to catch his breath before heaving himself to his feet. "I think you lost your armor," he mutters, and stretches out a hand.
Shrugging—and it looks so foolish with his shoulders in a puddle—Iida grins and grabs on, pulling himself upright. "Worth it," he snickers, letting his momentum carry him to rest against Bakugou's body.
Iida doesn't kiss him; he could—they're definitely close enough—but the wicked sparkle in Iida's eyes is just as good. "We're gonna be filling out incident reports all night, aren't we?" Bakugou sighs, gently pushing Iida away. Iida goes happily, humming in agreement.
"Wanna get dinner after?" Bakugou forces himself to say, and almost fist-pumps in triumph when he manages it.
Iida's shoulder bumps his, playful, and Bakugou turns to find Iida watching him with a tiny, unreadable smile. He looks ridiculous—hair plastered to his face, his undersuit soaked, rain dripping from his eyelashes.
Not ridiculous. Gorgeous.
"I'd like to finish what we started," Iida murmurs, and Bakugou guffaws. "But dinner is fine, too."
"Yeah, yeah," Bakugou laughs, shaking his head. Grinning, Iida stomps in puddles, shooting glances over his shoulder to catch Bakugou's reaction. Bakugou rolls his eyes, shoving him until Iida is laughing, too. "Yeah," Bakugou repeats to himself as Iida splashes ahead. "That sounds really good."