Like a lot of things in his life, Kirishima isn’t sure of what exactly he’s looking at until it’s pointed out to him.
It’s a Tuesday and he’s up early, whirring his daily protein shake together. The common room is quiet, save for the wails of his mixer, so when Midoriya walks in Kirishima can easily hear his approach.
“Good morning, Midoriya!” he calls, turning down the speed of his whisk. “Sleep well?”
Midoriya nods politely, settles on one of the chairs by the kitchen island. “Yeah, I did, thanks! Good morning, Kirishima.”
Kirishima grins at his new company, and re-whisks the mixture, adding a few bananas.
A while ago, Bakugou had caught him trying to make a protein shake and sneered as soon as Kirishima had started prepping. You dumbass, he had said, you have to chill the banana’s overnight.
Kirishima had blinked, and said, Oh.
Bakugou had swung open the freezer door with a vengeance, as if the refrigerator had personally wronged him. He’d pulled out a pair of bananas, sliced them up deftly, shoved them into the mix, and whirred it all into a flurry.
So there Kirishima was left idle, blinking owlishly. He hadn’t even asked, but Bakugou was already done. He shoved the shake into Kirishima’s chest with a harsh glare, leaving him no choice but to fumble and take it into his hand. Bakugou had griped, Don’t do shit if you can’t get it right. Then, for good measure, he tacked on an insult: Fucker.
Kirishima smiles fondly at the memory. Shit, Bakugou’s so manly. He goes all out with whatever he does, guns-a-blazing etcetera. It’s super admirable, to be honest, and Kirishima likes to reinforce that kind of drive into what he does too.
He doesn’t realise Midoriya’s been staring at him, till he turns to see green eyes wide and trained on him. Kirishima creases a red eyebrow, not unkindly. “Uh, what’s up? Did you.. need something from me, man?”
Midoriya splutters, shaken out his head. “K-Kirishima! Uh, nothing, nothing, sorry I—haha, just thinking!”
Kirishima chuckles. Midoriya’s a funny guy, really—always bumbling about and tearing thoughts out of his dark hair into a plethora of funny little battered-down notebooks, barely held together with tape. He mutters, writes fast enough to have the page crinkling under his hand. By now, the whole class is used to his oddly charming antics; so Kirishima just shrugs and pours out his drink.
“Ah, actually…” Midoriya clears his throat. “Actually, I do have something to ask you.”
“Oh?” Kirishima grins, leans across the counter. “Ask away, my guy!”
Midoriya smiles too. “Um. It’s about Kacchan, actually.”
“Err, yeah! I was just noticing—as of late, and I mean, we were all noticing that—you two are pretty close, right?”
“Of course! He’s pretty funny, when you get to know him, isn’t he!”
Midoriya pauses at that, as if stumped. “Kacchan… funny…” he mutters under his breath, then shakes his head, plunges onward: “I was just thinking, Kacchan lets you get away with a lot of stuff he wouldn’t normally do with other people, you know?”
Now that, had been a thought.
Midoriya’s right, of course—he’s pretty observant and smart beyond Kirishima’s understanding—and it’s true, Kirishima realises, rather belatedly. Bakugou lets him get away with a lot, more than he would any other student of their class.
It becomes abundantly clear later that afternoon.
Kaminari presses his feet up into Kirishima’s lap. Training had been exhausting, and they all chose to clutter up on the couches and unwind together. It’s a kind of ritual that Kirishima finds relaxing and warm. They’re all just kids with the same aim of being heroes! A truly manly cause, and it really feels good to ease out together, mindlessly watching some bad game shows.
So yeah, Kirishima finds some warmth in how they’re all here together, just, y’know, being. Chilling out. It makes him feel calm, it lets him exist slowly, lets him doze off to the sounds of Takeshi’s Castle and Mina’s idle retelling of gossip to a very uninterested Jirou.
Bakugou decides to trudge into their little circle of calm at that moment, hands shoved deep into his pockets. A scowl marrs his features, lips twisted downward, and his back is tensed. He’s wired up like a shut clam, full of anger and this trademark bold uptightness that he seems to never disarm around others, some crude self defence mechanism. He glowers at everyone.
And… It’s stupidly cute, because he’s wearing these fuzzy slippers and comfortable black sweats as he saunters by with exaggeratedly rough steps.
He stops right in front of Kirishima. He turns his nose up harshly, and snaps, “Where the fuck’s my eraser.”
Kirishima blinks up at him groggily for a second, pauses. Huh. Eraser. He’s still tired, so he tries to think back as the dregs of grogginess pull at his mind. “Did I… take it during our study session, or someth’n?”
Bakugou simply thrusts his hand out, obviously waiting for him to return it. He’s still cramped up like a petulant toddler, and Kirishima leans backward into the couch. “Dude,” he tells him, frowning as he finally takes to a semblance of full consciousness. “I don’t have it on me right now, I’ll give it back after?”
Bakugou only thrusts his hand out again, jaw taut.
Sero casually leans over. Kirishima sees his big and broad mischievous smile before he seamlessly claps Bakugou’s open palm. Kaminari smothers a laugh.
Bakugou stiffens, wipes the sweat off his hands roughly on the fabric of his sweats and then pushes it back out to Kirishima, clearly waiting.
Denki pulls up to sit, now. His legs press deeper into Kirishima’s lap. “Oi, Kacchan! Speaking of your little, uh, study sesh, would you mind if I joined in tomorrow?” He punctuates this with a silly little wiggle of his brows.
“No.” Bakugou barely spares poor Kaminari glance, continues to make frankly disconcerting eye contact with Kirishima, hand still open and waiting.
Kirishima shifts a little on the couch. Bakugou’s eyes are red, his gaze is piercing and Kirishima feels pinned down by its weight.
“Heyyy, why not?” Kaminari presses on, now sweeping his feet off and pressing a chin into Kirishima’s shoulder, pushing into Bakugou’s line of sight.
“Because,” Bakugou growls, “you’re fucking annoying.”
“And Kirishima’s not?”
Bakugou doesn’t answer, but his gaze shifts away from Kirishima to cut across to Kaminari. His hand falls, and wavers for a second—it forgets why it was pulled out in the first place, and is then shoved back into the depths of his sweatpants. Abruptly, Bakugou turns around. “I’m using the kitchen,” he spits out, and then leaves, dramatically stomping his fluffy slippers.
“Man, Bakugou’s such a wuss.” Kaminari pouts, crossing his arms.
Kirishima pats his head absently. “Sorry, bro.”
He tries to slip back into the thoughtless stalemate his brain had taken to before, but his mind is abuzz with a realisation.
He can’t stop thinking about how Midoriya had really hit the nail on the head with this one.
Kirishima supposes he and Bakugou have a sort of—an understanding, a mutual bond shared between them which Bakugou doesn’t really share with other people, except maybe Midoriya himself. But well—that, too, is a little bit different, Bakugou and Izuku have a history that a lot of the class is not privy to.
The bond that Bakugou and Kirishima share is borne from sheer trust, and determination—an outstretched hand, an unspoken promise, an unstoppable force and an unmovable object. A depth in this language they share, fist bumps and an arm slung around a shoulder, a shared glance of question the morning after they can tell the others had a nightmare.
It’s a careful thing, a measure of respect, trust and an exclusivity, being an exception, it’s something that tastes a shade close to things that… Kirishima has to decipher at his own pace.
Still. Kirishima feels a little stupid, because why hadn’t he noticed this before?
Then, his thoughts halt. “Guys,” he says out loud. “I think I lost Bakugou’s eraser.”
Jirou snorts. “You are so dead, man.”
Kirishima wakes up one morning with an overpowering tension in his back.
Light streams through his window, paints the floor in gold. His muscle clock rings, a shrill alarm signaling the start of his day.
The tension in his back, it—it doesn’t hurt, it’s more of a throb, and it pulses when Kirishima moves—ow, ow, shit, okay, so it hurts too. Kirishima counts the seconds before he carefully slides off his bed, lowers himself on his knees.
He counts ten more, and then gently raises his arms above his head, as if feeling how the pain might ease out under the stretch of his deltoids.
A sickening crack, not unlike a knuckle popping—and the pain eases out, his shoulders slot into place. Oh, Jesus fuck. A dull ache spreads out his spine. He counts three seconds, and it disperses.
Then he gets up, runs through his daily routine of meeting Bakugou at the floor’s common bathroom and vigorously brushing his teeth, grabbing breakfast at the vending machines.
He doesn’t think any more of it, of the pain in his back—he’s faced much worse, he’d pieced his broken skin together in front of Rappa and held his armour up against powerful villains—so he doesn’t care all that much.
Bakugou rarely texts first, which is okay—Kirishima likes to spam his phone using a dozen hearts and little angry cat memes and a this u? Bakugou usually responds with a middle-finger emoji.
So when Kirishima’s phone buzzes one evening he assumes it’s Kaminari’s group chat, or maybe Mina asking him to tag along on a shopping haul. It’s why he raises an eyebrow at Bakugou’s name in his notifications, surprised.
BAKUGOU: give me your eyeliner
Kirishima grins at his screen, sliding the notification and unlocking his phone. Bakugou has a way with talking—he prefers to use two words where others would use five. He’s to the point, and his texting isn’t much different it seems.
He types back with no hesitation.
KIRISHIMA: Ahaha hey blasty whats up !!!!
I mean sure of course ill lend u some !! But why 😳
There isn’t a reply for a few minutes, and it gives Kirishima a moment to appreciate the… exclusivity this simple text message entails. Kirishima’s been Bakugou’s friend for a while, and it’s a hard process if he’s being completely honest. He’s super proud of how far he’s gotten, really, because he gets to sling an arm around Bakugou’s shoulders without being shrugged off roughly.
They’ve spent time in each other’s rooms, and Kirishima’s taken it all as some kind of win, a bit of a privilege too: it’s nice, to see Bakugou in his elements. To spend time with him alone. It’s all something only Kirishima gets to stand witness to, and he relishes in every minute of it.
His phone buzzes in his palms, tearing him out his thoughts.
BAKUGOU: get in here
He chuckles. As always, Bakugou’s abrupt, brash and uncaringly to the point. Shit, so manly.
So Kirishima pulls on a fresh pair of sweatpants and picks up a small vial of liquid liner. When he opens his door, Bakugou is already standing at his door with his arms crossed, tapping his foot.
“Oh, hey bro!”
Bakugou glares, red eyes flashing. “Thought I told you to stop fucking calling me bro.”
Oh, yeah, he did. Kirishima blinks sheepishly, scratches his nape. “Ha ha, sorry man. Anyway, why’d you need my liner?”
Bakugou grits his teeth and his steady gaze flickers away, fixes on the floor for a second. Then he reaches out, holds onto Kirishima’s wrist, and pulls. Kirishima staggers half a step forward, swallows. Bakugou’s fingers are warm and they brush over Kirishima’s lifeline, and it flutters stupidly beneath his burning touch.
Bakugou thrusts his chin towards his right, down the hall, and then drops Kirishima’s hand. He stomps off to his room, fully expecting Kirishima to follow him.
Which he does, of course—if after a moment of hesitation, after a second spent leveling out his pulse. Bakugou can be so intense sometimes, and yeah Kirishima appreciates it, but it’s a little hard to take head on sometimes.
It’s stupid, because Kirishima is the unbreakable hero—a hardening quirk that helps him barrel through everything unflinchingly. But standing before enigmas like Bakugou fucking Katsuki, Kirishima finds that he’s a little at odds with himself. He’s left counting seconds and glancing down at the flecks of skin poking out in his cuticles. He’s lost, looking for something he’s never seen before. Reaching, reaching, reaching.
Bakugou waits for no one, and yet… And yet, he’s different when with Kirishima: he glances back, raises an expectant eyebrow. He never ceases to surprise, he’s explosion after explosion, a thousand curveballs being thrown and no seconds to cope, no time to catch his breath.
Kirishima runs a shaky hand through his hair. Shit, dude, okay. And follows Bakugou to step into his friend’s room.
There’s a bunch of equipment spread out carefully on his bed. His hero gear and paraphernalia is laid out on crisp sheets: his metal neck cuff, his gauntlets and arm guards, his gloves and the explosion clips he wears in his hair. They look a little like a butterfly. Kirishima wonders if Bakugou would punch him for saying that out loud.
As always, Bakugou’s room is clean—it’s not impersonal, though. There’s a single vintage All Might poster tacked upon his wall, notebooks racked neatly on his desk, a spice-flavoured lemon energy drink Kirishima has seen him drinking on multiple occasions set upon his nightstand.
Kirishima glances around. He’s only been in Bakugou’s room twice before. “You’re doing changes to your costume?”
Bakugou nods, picks up his face mask. It’s attached to the butterfly explosion clips, something that Kirishima never noticed before. “Needed some eyeliner to fill in the gaps of this shit.”
“Oh! For your mask! Hey, that should look super badass,” Kirishima says, grinning. “You ever do make up before?”
Bakugou meets his eyes for a second, looks back at the mask in his hands. He grits out, after a pause: “no.”
Kirishima blinks. It’s unusual for Bakugou to so easily admit to being inept. Another curveball that Kirishima strains to strike, he’s reaching for as it swerves away from his fingers.
Spending time with Bakugou feels like a privilege in and of itself, and the way parts of him open up feel like fruits of plenty, even when it’s something as simple as admitting to not knowing how to apply make up.
Recovering, Kirishima goes on, “I can help you! Don’t worry about that part—make-up just takes a little bit of practice, really.”
Bakugou sits down on his bed, stares up at Kirishima. “Show me how.”
Kirishima’s throat dries up a little. “I only have eye liner, at the moment—”
“Don’t care,” Bakugou snaps, interrupting him unkindly. “I don’t need any other fuckin’ make up.”
“O-oh, yeah, makes sense. To be honest, though, Mina’s way better than me at—”
“I don’t want that Alien anywhere near me.” But you’re fine with me being anywhere near you? “Just fucking get on with it, Shitty Hair, what the hell?”
“Right, right,” Kirishima manages, fishing the small bottle of liner out his pocket. He steps towards Bakugou, keeping his weight spread out as though prepared for a sudden attack. He trusts Bakugou blindfolded of course—he’s more scared of his own body betraying him with the threat of proximity.
Bakugou’s legs are spread out in a careless V, and he’s leaning back on his palms, squinting up at Kirishima bullishly. His thick eyebrows are furrowed in annoyance. He’s keyed up, and yet the downturn of his lips are slack and uninterested.
Bakugou is just so—unfair sometimes. He’s a balance of opposites, a set of contradictory things tied up into one angry package: he is careful in how he arranges his room tidily, and yet he is brash in how he speaks manerlessly. He is calm as still waters, but willing to churn up a whole hurricane at a moments notice—he is this mix of a hundred and zero, equal measures of these conflicting things. A plethora of antitheses.
Just when Kirishima thinks he understands Bakugou a little better, he sends Kirishima reeling as the floor is pulled ten inches to the left beneath his crocs.
“Oi!” Bakugou calls, voice aggravated. He pushes out his leg and nudges his bare foot into Kirishima’s shin. Something suspiciously like concern festers in his red eyes. “Do you not want to do it, or someshit?”
“No!” Kirishima blurts, and then backtracks, “wait, I meant yes! I want to do it, yeah. Yes.” Kirishima steps towards him, just shy of being in-between Bakugou’s legs. He tries not to think about that.
Bakugou is two inches taller than Kirishima, so it’s funny to see the top of his head, how he tips his head backwards to look back up at Kirishima square in the face.
“Can you hold on to this while I paint?” Kirishima asks, handing Bakugou the bottle of liner. Bakugou leans forward, holds onto the glass. His fingers fold over Kirishima’s for a second, a warm spark of contact.
Kirishima dips the little brush, Bakugou holding on to the liquid, and then pulls back. He breathes before he takes the leap. He reaches out to hold Bakugou’s chin steady, letting his hand hover over the crest of his pale cheekbones.
“Close—could you close your eyes.”
Bakugou glares one last time, as if for good measure, before letting his eyes slide shut.
Kirishima tries to smoothen out his voice. “Relax your face for me, man.”
Surprisingly Bakugou does without protest, slackening out his brows and easing his lips into a loose line. From this angle, Kirishima notices that his lower lip is bigger than his upper lip—something you could never tell by the way his mouth is always twisted up in a scowl.
Quietly and carefully, Kirishima paints Bakugou’s eyelids.
The silence rings and the aircon switches off on its own, the air around them stilling calmly.
His fingers dance over his face, and he can feel Bakugou’s warm breath skating over his wrist. It’s distracting, and he has to force himself to hold his breath to keep his hands from shaking. It’s why it takes so long for him to balance out the shape of each wing, to make sure they turn up at the same angle, that they don’t curl too far up.
Finally, when he pulls back, Bakugou opens his eyes.
The red is sharp, piercing. The line that frames his eyes makes Bakugou look more intense than he already is. It’s uncanny how steadily Bakugou keeps his eyes trained firmly on his, unshaking.
“Uh,” Kirishima croaks intelligently.
“Well, dumbass? How the fuck does it look?” Bakugou glares, now. The line of paint slants as he squints, and it crinkles a little with his skin. His eyes are really red, holy shit, they gleam, looking like delicate light caught in rubies at the bottom of the sea.
Kirishima clears his throat. “Uh,” he says again, burning up. It’s warm, and he really wishes the A/C would turn on again. “Uh—s’good. You… you can—you can check in the bathrooms, maybe.” A beat, and Bakugou’s eyes seem to glint with something suspiciously like humour—but it could have just been a trick of the light. Kirishima adds on, feeling a little helpless, “in the mirrors, yeah?”
Another beat, and Bakugou doesn’t move. His lips quirk up at the edges. Kirishima’s neck warms.
“Yeah,” Bakugou says at last. His voice hitches on something deep in the back of his throat, rumbling.
Kirishima laughs, a nervous and uncertain burst of his breath falling out his lips. “Homework,” he blurts. He hooks a thumb in the air, pointing back to the way he had come into Bakugou’s room. “I’ll. I probably have to. Uh, I gotta do some—”
“Yeah,” Bakugou repeats.
Kirishima nods. A pause. Their gazes are caught, three seconds too long. The A/C switches on again somewhere. “Uh. Bye. See you, Blasty,” Kirishima says, sounding a little odd.
He stumbles out the room, and almost runs into the door frame, feeling incredibly foolish, and he doesn’t need to turn around to know that Bakugou’s watching him go, eyes sharp and lined with the makeup Kirishima put on for him.
Kirishima loves sparring, really. It reminds him of how powerful he can be, how strong he is—and it chases out the demons in his mind.
The demons he’s chased away, welding his skin and flesh back together in front of Rappa, feeling the terror of being not enough, of not grasping his full potential, a weakness—something he’s vowed not to feel, never again.
Not since middle school: days of dark hair and tears and some self loathing bullshit that he’s long since tried to overcome but fuck, sometimes it seeps through the bomber doors, sometimes creeps up on him like a ghost and he cries himself to sleep because yeah. It hurts, and it’s hard to remember that he’s allowed to hurt because that’s what it is.
It’s stupid, a man who swore to grow up: looking back on his wallowing past, and wounds that he’d wished had scabbed over open up again—you’d call it a badly written story.
But when he’s sparring, it all melts away.
“Hey, Bakugou! You willing to go another round?” Kirishima calls out, hands cupped up to his lips.
Bakugou turns around, and his red eyes immediately meet Kirishima’s. His face splits into a rude and brash grin, teeth bare. “You’re on, shithead.”
Kirishima matches his smile, spreads out his feet, lets hardening course down his body in jagged spikes, skin turning to a terrain of mounds.
They clash and meet together at the centre, a crackling explosion meeting an impenetrable wall.
So yeah, man. In times like this, hardening to stone, taking every attack that comes his way, every doubt in Kirishima’s mind turns into ghosts—if only for a second—and it makes him see red, letting him feel power course through him.
He likes sparring with Bakugou the most for those reasons, really.
Bakugou is a damn difficult sparring partner. He’s hard to impress, and he gets angry when someone refuses him, and is personally offended when his opponent doesn’t go all out. But Kirishima never refuses a second dare, he never gives nothing but his all—so of course they slot together like cogs of a gear, and they turn together towards progress.
Kirishima finds such immense faith and trust in their battles.
Because he often wonders, staring up at the stippled expanse of his ceiling—how monumental, how important he felt to be the one taking Bakugou’s hand midair, ears whistling as their hair rips around them in the cold torrent of the wind. He pushes his hands out, and Bakugou takes them.
He often trails off thinking of how conceptually and thoroughly wild it is for Bakugou to accept someone’s hand. How incredibly rare it is for him to ever comply to even just something as simple as a handshake. Because Bakugou is this petulant, gritty and biting boy, one full of dreams so far beyond everyone else’s scope, with harsh words and a concrete sort of stubborn wisdom. It seems so utterly outlandish to think that Bakugou considered his hands wrapped around another’s.
And yet Bakugou has made a place for Kirishima, for them to hold hands that night and share a bond that neither of them fully fathom.
The sheer abundance of trust it needs sometimes renders Kirishima quiet, stuttering in his thoughts.
So, yeah, Kirishima knows he’s someone important to Bakugou, he just… he wonders if he can make Bakugou important to him.
Kirishima taps out under the brunt of Bakugou’s weight. He licks his lips, breath all but lost to him with the force of Bakugou’s gloved hand pressed down hard on his chest.
“’Nother round?” He croaks, chest heaving. A lull, and then Bakugou relents, pulls him up to a stand with a quick tug of his wrist. Before Kirishima can even close his fingers around Bakugou’s palm, the hand is gone.
“Fuck yeah, I’ll go another round,” Bakugou says, and curls his index and thumb into a ring, barely giving Kirishima a moments time to recover as an AP shot bursts out in the training grounds, zipping into his chest, searing and loud.
Kirishima stops thinking about the aching pain he had felt in his joints.
Until it happens once more a week later.
This time, Kirishima’s knee is locked. It burns as he braces his feet on the floor, sends shocks of overwhelming pain up his body. He eases out his leg, points his toes out. It pulls and strains his muscles, till it clicks into place.
Kirishima learns that it happens after hours of immobility. The longer he’s still, the more likely it is to find his joints groaning and racking with discomfort.
And that’s all it is, Kirishima thinks—it’s just discomfort.
Kirishima walks out the baths with damp hair one evening, and that’s all it takes for Mina to literally manhandle him into letting her play with his red locks.
“Finally!” She crows, delving her fingers into Kirishima’s hair. She’s got a little box full of accessories and hairclips all set out, in a thousand shades of pink and teal, shaped like butterflies and flowers. Kirishima rattles them under his fingers; he likes the sound of plastic bumping against the tin.
Momo and Hagakure settle around them to watch Mina braid through Kirishima’s hair. Even Kaminari and Sero glance up from their DS.
“Wow, it’s so soft,” Mina mumbles. “You keep real good care, huh, Kiri?”
She doesn’t mention the fact that he dyes, and Kirishima’s grateful for the sensitivity on her part. Mina can be perceptive like that. Kirishima beams. “Yeah! I could lend you my conditioner, if you’d like.”
Ashido hums and reaches over his shoulder to pick up a few of the glittery hair clips. She fastens his hair into sections, pinning down with butterfly clips. It takes a while, and the clips pinch his scalp a little, but Mina’s fingers are pretty gentle.
“Look!” Mina says, when she’s done. She pulls out her phone and drags out her camera app. Kirishima blinks at her screen, and his own face blinks back. Slowly, he smiles. Hey, he looks pretty sick!
His hair is a mane of pink and red and yellow hair-clips. “Oh, man, thanks Mina these look so cool!”
“I know right!” Mina says, and she snaps a few pictures of them, throwing up a pink peace sign. Kirishima grins, all sharp teeth.
He’s late to his tutoring session with Bakugou that day, and he rushes down the hall, trying to stuff a worksheet down his bag as he staggers. When he opens the door to his room, he sees that Bakugou’s already taken out the packet of questions Present Mic assigned for them today, his back turned to Kirishima as he works the translations out on his table.
“Hey, man!” He greets, closing the door behind him, slinging his shoulder bag off.
Bakugou grunts. “You’re fuckin’ late—” He turns to see Kirishima, and his eyes blow wide, voice breaking, “—Shitty hair.”
Kirishima blinks. Is there something on his face? Oh, right—he never bothered to take out the glitter clips Mina had put on him, so it’s still pinning his red hair down in little waterfall braids and stuff.
Before he can explain this, though, Bakugou slams his palms down on the table and pushes his chair back with an unsettling screech. His neck is painted red, his ears tinged, and wow, he must be really angry about how late Kirishima is—which is weird, he’s only twelve minutes late, really—and so he watches as Bakugou pushes himself up to his feet with far much more feeling than is really required for such a simple movement.
Bakugou whirls around on him, fast enough that Kirishima wonders if he got a head rush—and he snaps, “you’re late, and we aren’t going to be fuckin’ studying together today.”
Kirishima immediately frowns. But English is so boring if it isn’t with his best bro! The alphabet is so stupid and the way they spell their words is so hard, he can’t do it without help. “Wait, man, what’s wrong? Did I do anything—”
“Yes!” Bakugou snarls, lips snaring over his teeth and his hands curling into a loose fist out in the air, hooked as it always is before he lets explosions rip across his palms. “Yes, you fucking—” He stops there, and the redness in his neck plunges out and spreads up to his face, festering between his eyes and down his cheekbones in a way that looks vaguely frustrated and—oddly, little bit endearing.
Kirishima tilts his head, though, completely perplexed as to what he might’ve done wrong.
He thinks back. Is it the eraser? He never really found it, he kinda looked through the bottom of his Edgeshot backpack and found a bunch of breadcrumbs there, but no eraser—so he can’t really be sure as to what, exactly, could warrant such a harsh reaction from Bakugou.
“Is there anything I can do to… help?” Kirishima shrugs, at a loss. “I don’t know if I did—”
“You’re fucking distracting!” Bakugou barks out, now. His shoulders hitch up and he shakes with this admittance, voice hard and pushed out from the back of his throat.
Kirishima stares, eyebrows cramping. Now he’s really damn confused. “Have I…? I don’t think that—I’m sorry, Bakugou—”
But he doesn’t manage to get a word in edgewise, really, because Bakugou shoulders past him aggressively, muttering curses under his breath. Kirishima’s eyes follow him, completely baffled.
Before leaving, Bakugou’s hand stills on the doorknob. He doesn’t turn around, but he speaks. “Shit, I’ll—just shut up. Dammit, Kirishima, you didn’t do anything wrong, so just. Stop. Don’t apologise, Jesus shit. Just give me one fuckin’ day.” He waves his free hand vaguely before he turns around, and his glaring red slits meet Kirishima’s eyes for a split second, then glares down at the floor as if he can’t bear to face him now, hissing another what the fuck under his breath. Then, out loud, “we can finish this translation shit tomorrow.”
Kirishima nods, dazed, eyebrows fully pushed up.
Then Bakugou leaves, slamming the door behind him.
A similar thing happens in the week.
Kirishima’s up late on a sunday morning, so he saunters down to the common rooms, lips torn in a yawn. His hair is undone and knotted, and he scratches his stomach, shirt hiking up his arm.
Bakugou chokes from where he’s sitting on the couch, shoves past Kirishima roughly again, muttering something about distracting assholes and red, and all Kirishima can do is blink at Bakugou’s back as he goes.
And then a third time. Bakugou kicks open Kirishima’s door to assign him some tutoring questions, and Kirishima’s boxing his punching-bag, bare chested because of the sweltering weather.
Before Kirishima can even say, hey man! Bakugou’s already out the way he came.
Bakugou sits himself roughly beside Kirishima, throws his feet up on the table.
His shirt’s first button is undone, grey blazer discarded and tossed carelessly off the back of his chair. Hard, red eyes take a single cursory glance down Kirishima’s worksheet, and then he scoffs. “That’s all wrong.”
Abruptly, Kirishima’s hand hardens on reflex, and his pencil snaps in half. “Fuck,” he hisses, loud enough for Bakugou to raise a pale eyebrow at him, and for the librarian to glance his way.
Kirishima frowns, unable to meet his friend’s eyes as he digs around in his case for a new pencil. There aren’t any. Shit, he’d lent his spare to Kaminari in the morning. Man, he really doesn’t want to get up right now, his back is too sore and—
Bakugou tosses him a spare pencil. It’s yellow, and it clatters down on the desk, rolls over lazily to Kirishima’s worksheet. A sigh punches out of him—unrelieved, a little forced. He picks it up.
A pair of tense, instantly familiar red eyes track him with startling and uncanny concentration.
Kirishima doesn’t think too much about it—he just can’t, not today. Instead, he uses the damn pencil to cross out his previous working, the scratch of graphite grating on his ears. Damn. He lost his own eraser, and apparently Bakugou’s too, and he’s always forgetting to buy one off the check-out racks in the convenience store.
Absently, he wonders if Bakugou’s already bought a new eraser. He seems like the type to carry a list, or at least type out pointers on his phone before going out to buy groceries. He’s always arranged, deftly finishing assignments on time and turning in for bed at eight-thirty in the night and… in general, being perfect.
Kirishima’s… well, Kirishima’s kind of falling apart at the seams really. Like a stuffed toy animal, all the cotton inside him is just way too much for his body, so it’s all pushing out at the stitching. His assignments are always two days late, and right now he’s working on one due yesterday. He’s not even sure why he’s doing it, Ectoplasm’s probably not going to accept it in the end anyway.
And to make things worse, he woke up with his fingers all jammed up, unable to move them until he individually cracked each knuckle. The dull ache still persists in the joint of his thumb, at the crown of his metacarpal. Instinctively, he wriggles all his fingers before he moves to the first question.
A linear equation, in two variables. His static, uncooperative mind draws a blank.
Kirishima sighs once more, this time angled just a shade close to a scoff in his nose.
“The fuck’s wrong with you, dumass?” Bakugou spits out.
Dumbass. And, like, really—Kirishima usually doesn’t mind Bakugou’s brash way of talking—but this time, it hits a nerve, chafing him the wrong way.
So when Kirishima glances up, he doesn’t find it in him to soothe the sharp irritation sparking in his eyes. His brows are way too tensed up, a headache pounding right behind it.
Bakugou blinks at him, now. “Shit,” he says, voice small, and there’s a small bit of realisation in his tone. Both his brows are pushed up, now, and his mouth’s loose.
Kirishima immediately regrets it, and stumbles over himself as he rushes in to fill the impending awkward silence. “Shoot. Ah, man, I. Hold on—hey, don’t worry about it, I’ll be okay, I’m just a little… not myself? Today, and—”
“Sorry,” Bakugou’s voice cuts through his, and Kirishima swears he wouldn't have been able to hear it if not for the ambient silence of the library.
Kirishima halts, his words falter and die in his throat. He stares blankly, eyes wide.
Oh, he thinks.
He’s never… really heard Bakugou say that.
Warmth blooms in Kirishima’s chest, and his eyes feel a little warm. Jeez, man, he’s been really susceptible to emotions today, feeling high strung and tired, so feelings just… burst out to the surface.
Especially when Bakugou says, voice low and caught—
“How… the fuck’re you always so good,” and the way he says it is in awe, in frustration, like the word good isn’t quite good at all—wait, maybe not like that, more like it’s something… difficult.
And, well, Kirishima tears up a little. Because it is difficult sometimes.
He stares blankly at the polynomials written out in front of him, and tries his best not to blink. It’s so fucking hard, today especially, he wasn’t even able to face Kaminari when he asked if Kirishima was up for an arcade run with Sero and the others. Kirishima had to lie, make some stupid excuse about a teacher needing him and—shit, he still feels terrible about it.
“Shit, are you fucking crying?” Bakugou blurts, looking at him incredulously—and Kirishima snaps out of it, rubs his hands over his eyes aggressively as if all his problems will go wipe away at the sleeve of his grey UA blazer.
“I’m good bro!” He blubbers out from under his hands, still pressing his knuckles deep into his tear ducts. “I just—haha, shit, don’t mind me, I’m just being a dumbass, y’know so—”
“Kirishima.” Bakugou cuts, and he holds the syllables of his name like he doesn’t want to chase it out his mouth.
Kirishima stiffens, slowly moves his hands down from his glassy eyes, looks at his friend.
“Kirishima,” he says again, slower this time. “What’s that stupid shit you always say to me every damn day.”
“That you and I should do rainbow fireworks for the summer festival—”
“Not that shit,” Bakugou snaps, glaring hard, but there’s that small glint of humor in his eyes that betrays him. Kirishima smiles back, and for the first time in his day, it doesn’t feel fake. “I meant, dumba—Kirishima. I meant that stupid shit about being humpty dumpty fuckin’ best bros or whatever.”
Kirishima blinks, slow. Where’s Bakugou getting at with this?
Bakugou clicks his tongue and glances away, wrings his hands up to the table. He clenches and unclenches his fist, chewing the side of his cheek as if it’s all a damn inconvenience to communicate and talk. “I meant—holy shit. I meant that you always. You get to see me, when I’m—fuck. I just mean,” he meets Kirishima’s eyes now, meaningfully, “if you’re not feeling hot right now, you don’t have to fuckin’ force it, with me.”
Kirishima lifts his gaze up, carefully.
That’s… He blinks rapidly, staggering out his breaths. He really shouldn’t be crying right now, they’re in a library.
But that’s, uh, kinda exactly what Kirishima has wanted with Bakugou for a while.
He’s content and glad with himself being Bakugou’s exception, to give when Bakugou is willing to take, but sometimes he wonders what it’d feel like to be on the receiving end of that kind of stuff. He can’t really explain all that, though, and he’s all keyed up from not trying to cry, and—
“You can break,” Bakugou says, and his voice is terse yet somehow soothing, the deep crackle of his baritone running over Kirishima like molasses, gets caught in all the right places, floods him honey-warm, like Indian silk passing through rings.
Kirishima just wobbles for a second there—like a cartoon character midair who hasn't glanced down yet, so physics doesn't take its effect—he hovers. Because Bakugou was the one who told him that he was stupidly strong, told him to never waver and to stay standing and unbreakable in front of villians—but here, Bakugou tells him that it's fine to breakdown... in front of him alone.
Then gravity catches up to him.
Kirishima's heart climbs out his throat and he sniffles loudly, pushes the palm of his hand into his nose. “Bakugou, can we—can we go, I—” He doesn’t want to cry anything other than manly tears in front of other people, and he can finally grasp how it feels to have someone be your exception, to have someone bear witness to the vulnerable parts of him.
Like a soldier returning home to remove their pieces of armor in front of their lover, like someone bearing every part of them out in front of careful, watchful eyes.
“Shit, yeah,” Bakugou says, pushing up to his feet.
He closes his fingers around Kirishima’s wrist, pulls him to a stand. He doesn’t pull away when Kirishima’s done rising to his height, he chooses to continue holding him. It’s a cable to his fluttering pulse, an anchor to Bakugou, and he swallows the tannin biting at the back of his tongue.
Swiftly, Bakugou leaves him and closes Kirishima’s Campus Kokuyo notebooks, puts his yellow pencil back into the case, and slides the worksheet into a plastic folder. Kirishima chokes back his impending rush of feelings and his hand grasps a loose fold in Bakugou’s white button-down shirt, unable to let go of him, holding on like a lifeline.
Deftly, Bakugou zips up his red sling bag and pushes it up his shoulder, and takes his own in the crook of the same arms elbow. Then, he pries Kirishima’s shaking fingers out of his clothes with surprising gentleness.
His voice takes up a low, buzzing quality when he murmurs, “Kirishima.” Nothing else, just his name.
Kirishima bites his lips hard, razor sharp teeth dangerously close to drawing blood. A sob racks through him with just that word.
“Shit, shit, shit, Kirishima, just a fucking minute, hold on for me—”
For me, Kirishima thinks. Yeah, he will, of course he’ll hold on for Bakugou.
He looks up at his friend through his lashes, to see him furrowing his blond brows. His lips are turned down, concerned in the way he eyes Kirishima up and down.
Finally, Bakugou takes Kirishima’s wrist again, and he almost sighs out loud in relief but he doesn’t for fear of it turning into a quiet whimper. He’s supposed to hold on, so he does, biting down on his lips harder.
He holds on for Bakugou.
They start walking. Kirishima doesn’t think of anything at all, except for how Bakugou’s fingers hold onto his wrist, his rounded fingernails.
He drifts, trying not to drag his feet, and feels heavy, as if he’s carrying a tonne of bricks on his back along with him. Like there’s the weight of the sky bearing down on him, like he’s Atlas and he has braced the weight of the clouds and the stratosphere. Maybe Bakugou is his Hesperides, a garden full of sweet golden apples, lakes and gurgling fountains and—
He’s at the door of his room before he knows it. His name is there, surmounted on the wall, a plaque in steel Kanji, labeling his dorm.
Bakugou lets go of his wrist, and Kirishima whines, completely alarmed at the loss—he’s going to leave me here, he’s leaving me, I’ll be alone again, he’s—
“M not going anywhere, Kirishima,” Bakugou gripes in odd reassurance. And all his qualms that had festered forward so fast immediately subside, because there it is, that’s his name again, spoken so easily. “Just hold on, I’m getting this fuckin’ door open.”
Right. Hold on for Bakugou.
Kirishima tries not to tremble as Bakugou pulls the keyring off Kirishima’s bag, the little Crimson Riot charms dangling off the chain, and with a click, his door opens.
Bakugou takes his wrist again, and his pulse flutters like a damn hummingbird now, heartbeat thundering in his ears. He pulls Kirishima into his room, takes him to the foot of his bed. The sheets are undone.
“You can,” Bakugou says, and they’re alone now, his voice crackles a little with uncertainty. “You can stop holding on, or whatever, I—”
Kirishima keens into Bakugou’s shoulder, and sobs rack his body.
Surprised, Bakugou brings his hands up to Kirishima’s quaking shoulders. “Shit,” he swears, “Jesus fucking shit, Kirishima, what the hell. Shit. Shit.”
Kirishima pushes deeper into him, breathing in the way he smells—caramel and almonds and clean laundry detergent. Bakugou takes him, doesn’t ask any questions.
“Fucking fuck, how do you… how do you keep this shit in all the time, if you—” he falters here, pulls at Kirishima’s hair. Kirishima hisses and follows the tug of his hands, pulls back to finally face his friend. “Why do you. You don’t have to be good all the time if—”
“It’s—it’s not an act,” Kirishima promises, vision swimming. “It’s just—today was a shit day, I woke up—” he doesn’t want to tell him that he woke up with his joints groaning, so he just patches over with, “I felt terrible, y’know and—and there’s so much work, to study and to train and then I—it’s not an act, I swear, it’s hard sometimes but I really mean all of it, it’s just—”
“Shit,” Bakugou swears once more. “Sit down, you—sit down, Eijirou.”
Another sob racks through him. Eijirou. His entire form trembles as he lowers himself to his bed.
Bakugou’s hands find him immediately, smelling so much of nitroglycerine. He tugs the grey blazer off his shoulders, pulls it and discards it to the side. Then he pulls at Kirishima’s tie, lets it unfasten under unpracticed fingers—he’s probably never tied one, seeing as how his throat is always bare—and then moves on to unbuttoning his shirt.
Kirishima sighs out loud when the air hits his bare chest, and he looks up at Bakugou.
Bakugou, Bakugou, Bakugou. He’s usually so animated, so full of emotion, bursting and relaxing and bursting again, explosion after explosion. He stands firm at the epicentre of an earthquake, the firm image of fiery oranges and forest greens, barreling forward even as the dust begins to settle and get caught in his roughed-up ash blond hair. He is perfect in ways that Kirishima wishes he could count, but really, it leaves his brain fried much like a wheeyy-ing Kaminari.
But here, Bakugou is less than all that. He’s still in his school slacks, but he’s popped open a few more buttons at his shirt. They stare at each other, and Kirishima doesn’t have the headspace to—to hold on to any of this, to decipher or decode, he doesn’t really give a shit.
All he cares about is that… he doesn’t want for people to see him as he is right now, but he doesn’t mind if Bakugou wants to.
“Go to sleep, Eijirou,” Bakugou says, and he pulls back, crossing his arms across his chest, the muscles of his biceps flickering as he tucks his hands into his elbows.
Kirishima chokes, reaches out to grasp a loose tuck in his shirt again. “Don’t—”
“M not going fuckin’ anywhere,” Bakugou repeats. “Go the fuck to sleep, Eijirou.”
Kirishima is soothed by this. He lets go of Bakugou’s shirt, slumps back into his bed. In his periphery, he sees Bakugou take his beanbag, the one he placed next to his boxing bag. He left it there for when Sero and Kaminari joined him in Mario & Sonic, and now Bakugou simply slumps down awkwardly into the faux-leather.
“I—Bakugou,” he whispers, and twists at his torso, facing his friend. “I lost your eraser.”
Bakugou snorts, grins at him. “Tch. Ion’ give a shit. Sleep.”
“Bakugou,” he says again, but nothing after that.
He lets sleep take him.
When Kirishima comes to, his muscle clock reads 4:12PM.
Bakugou has changed into more comfortable clothes. He’s in a soft cotton tank, and another pair of sweats from his seemingly endless collection of black articles. Bakugou’s at Kirishima’s study table, frowning down at a workbook and solving a list of equations, completely engrossed. Really, though—leave it up to Bakugou, Kirishima thinks, to not waste his time away without getting work done.
Smiling like a damn fool, Kirishima twists a little to see his friend better—and oh fuuuck. His spine is rigid, his elbow stuck and shoulder-blades completely frozen. Before he can think to muffle his groan, to hide away from Bakugou, he hisses out in pain.
Bakugou instantly swivels around in his chair to find Kirishima wincing, stuck mid-turn. “Shitty Hair? The fuck’s wrong—”
“Nothing!” Kirishima shoots out an arm to wave his friend off, but oh no oh fuck, he totally forgot his elbow wasn’t working and he falls into a flurry of more curses, cradling his left arm and swaying in a daze of pain.
“That’s not fuckin’ nothing,” Bakugou says seriously, and walks over to the foot of his bed.
“I—I’m fine it’s just—some kind of problem with overusing my quirk, it’s only been happening for a few weeks so—”
“Weeks?” Bakugou echoes, utterly incredulous. “A few weeks?”
“Jesus fuck,” Bakugou pinches the bridge of his nose, his other hand is shoved down into the depths of his pockets, and it clenches. “Kirishima. Let me take care of your dumbass.”
Kirishima looks up at his friend. Bakugou glares back down at him, pale hair falling over his forehead in a fringe, eyes focused and hard and so concerned. Kirishima swallows around his dry throat. “Yeah,” he whispers, voice hitching, “okay.”
Bakugou presses a knee into his mattress, leans over him. From here Kirishima can tell that his eyelashes are long and pale, and his tensed brows are a darker shade of blond. “Okay?”
Kirishima nods, shuts his eyes.
Bakugou pushes at his shoulder gently. Kirishima grimaces as he turns, but focuses on the warm brand of Bakugou’s fingers and broad palm. He flattens out on his chest, gingerly spreads his arms out.
Immediately, Bakugou takes to pressing his curled knuckles into the ravine of his spine, pressing down the divots of his vertebrae. Kirishima hisses as his hands find a knot, relaxes with a punched-out sigh when Bakugou kneads it out.
Kirishima tents his brows, bites down on his lips as Bakugou works carefully down his back, tapering out at his waist. He can’t think much at all, and he trembles under Bakugou’s touch like a leaf in the wind.
Bakugou’s hands find the crest of his shoulder-blades, and Kirishima grunts, low and trilling. “Nnnggh—there, there, right there.”
“Yeah.” Kirishima’s entire body clenches up as Bakugou’s fingers press firmly down into his bone, rubbing a tight circle. Kirishima gasps out, choking on a surprised moan, and trembles beneath him once more.
Kirishima must have no shame, really, because he mumbles pathetically, “please don’t stop.”
Bakugou swears out loud, over and over, then finally returns to his back. Kirishima’s arm clicks in place when he stretches it out this time, and Bakugou pulls back onto his haunches, stares at him.
Kirishima twists back over onto his back, meets his friends wide eyes and flushed face, his slack lips. The afternoon sun filters through Kirishima’s blinds, casts Bakugou’s face in a dappled orange glow, kisses the crown of his cheekbones and gets caught warmly in his red eyes. His lips are parted, and Kirishima can’t help but stare for a moment at how awed Bakugou looks.
There’s no conflicting emotion this time, there’s just one, and Kirishima leans back into his bed. He reaches out and holds onto Bakugou’s black shirt, this time, and says, “do you want to sleep here?”
Bakugou doesn’t say anything.
“Please,” Kirishima adds, voice tired and low and sleepy.
“Fuck.” His face glows red, marrying the sunlight in rose. “Fuck, okay. You need dinner, Kirishima—”
“Eijirou,” he prompts, and meets Bakugou’s eyes steadfastly. His fingers tighten and twist up Bakugou’s shirt.
Bakugou bites onto the insides of his cheeks for a lull, then nods once, jerkily. Kirishima loosens his grip, satisfied.
They eat quietly at Lunch Rush, and their knees touch under the table the whole time. Kirishima doesn’t talk to anyone for it—they’re both early to dinner, kind of just having a late afternoon meal, and the mess hall is empty.
They return back to his dorm. Kirishima collapses into his bed, and pulls Bakugou by his shirt, lines them up to sleep. Bakugou faces away from him.
They sleep in a room full of dwindling orange light, sun-dust slanting over them, a still summer afternoon. They sleep awash in warmth and to the harmony of each others breaths, the pound of each others hearts.
Kirishima throws a leg over Bakugou's hip.
Kirishima rises early.
He finds that Bakugou is already up, staring up at his ceiling. Maybe if Bakugou stares close enough, he will find the fantasies Kirishima has played out upon the stippled expanse, maybe he will find the last of his nightmares that paint negatives on the white. Maybe Bakugou will find him, vulnerable and bare, and really though—Kirishima doesn’t mind the fact, not if it’s Bakugou.
Kirishima’s eyes flutter and he pushes deeper into his pillow. “Whatcha thinkin’, man,” he slurs, voice crackled by sleep.
Bakugou doesn’t spare him a glance, glaring steadily up. “I fucking hate being your friend,” he spits. His confession is bitten with a growl, and there’s something crude in the way his lips curl around the word friend.
Kirishima blinks, taken aback. He loves being Bakugou's friend, though, they—they’re really close and they spar together, and he really thought Bakugou liked what they have, seeing how he hides his smiles into the collar of his shirts. Kirishima frowns. “But—”
“I think,” Bakugou cuts over him, and finally turns to meet his eyes. The red is softer than Kirishima has ever seen them, and his blond brows are eased out for once. Bakugou’s fingers find the curve of Kirishima’s chin, soft and warm. “I think, that we should fucking stop.”
Bakugou runs a thumb over the bow of his lips, fingers at his sideburns. Oh, Kirishima thinks, lost in Bakugou's red eyes, in the way light gets tangled and caught in his ashen hair. Oh, he thinks, much too slow, when Bakugou closes his eyes.
Kirishima grins, and meets him halfway.
He's smiling too much in the first kiss, and Bakugou grunts, tugs at his lose hair once in annoyance.
Kirishima laughs into his lips, and Bakugou swallows it like a secret. They pull away and angle better, and this time Kirishima doesn't smile—he licks carefully into Bakugou's mouth, feels the press of his teeth against the inline of his lips.
They twist around in cotton sheets, Bakugou straddles over him, lips still slanted over his. This—god, this feels like curling satisfaction, like striking a curveball square with your baseball bat, letting it fly out to a homerun. This feels—
Kirishima's hands dig into Bakugou's waist, and he grunts as he accepts all of Bakugou's weight. He kisses him slow and hard, closing his eyes to actually feel.
At last, when he looks up from his bed, what he sees is not a fantasy—it's Bakugou, blushing red and lips sore, eyes overwarm as they kiss and kiss and kiss, over and over and over.
Bakugou sucks onto Kirishima’s lips, runs a tongue over the edge, and they memorise the shape of each other as dawn breaks.
The cashier at the convenience store smiles politely at him after he’s done beeping through all of his items. “Is there anything else you might need, son?”
Kirishima pauses. “An eraser! Two erasers, please.”
“Thank you for your business!” They crow, and check out his items, slide them into a brown paper bag. Kirishima beams, thanks them for their service, and rushes back out to meet a bored Bakugou leaning passively on the brick walls, scrolling through his phone.
“Did you get everything?” He says, when Kirishima rounds up next to him. He pushes out a stubborn hand in Kirishima's direction.
Kirishima grins, digs out one eraser from the bag, presses it into Bakugou’s palm.
Bakugou glares at the thing as if he’s never seen an eraser in his entire life, and then his cheeks dust red. "I already told you Ei, I don't care about the damn eraser!"
Kirishima laughs, knocks an elbow into his side. "Yeah, well, I wanted to anyway."
Bakugou meets his eyes, scoffs. Pockets the eraser with a exaggerate, jerky movements, and then sticks his arm out once more, much like he had in the common rooms, when Sero gave him a low-five.
He pushes his lips into a pout, cheeks huffing out. “Hold my fuckin’ hand, you asshole.”