When it first happens, Shouto feels a little like he’s coming down with the flu.
Bakugou is over at his apartment, reviewing some case files for an upcoming team-up, and they’re sitting in companionable silence on Shouto’s plush blue couch. The only sounds are the rustling of papers and background noise from Shouto’s television, where reruns of some trashy reality dating show are playing.
When Shouto first flipped to the channel, Bakugou’s entire face twisted up in repugnance, his disdain for the show clear as day as he lunged for the remote, making fun of Shouto for being “uncultured as hell” and choosing to watch “cheap-ass television” of his own volition.
Shouto simply stuck his tongue out and froze the remote in a block of ice so Bakugou had no choice but to sulk and watch people with horrendously fake spray tans try to romance each other on a tropical island.
On the screen, some girl in a scantily clad bikini makes out with a man who is most definitely way past the point of being sunburnt — he looks like a wrinkled tomato. Bakugou’s face scrunches in disgust and Shouto snorts.
It’s relaxing, comfortable.
Which is surprising, since Shouto had always assumed he and Bakugou would always be acquaintances at best. But right out of UA graduation, Bakugou had joined an agency just five minutes away from Shouto’s. And after multiple team-ups, overnight stakeouts, and late-night ramen runs where they shit-talked the lame villains they encountered on patrols, they grew closer than Shouto ever thought possible.
They’ve been reviewing the case files for a few hours and Shouto is about to suggest they take a small snack break when Bakugou yawns and leans back against the couch, stretching his arms over his head like a cat waking up from a midday slumber. Looking over, Shouto finds himself admiring how the pale sunlight plays over Bakugou’s biceps. He kind of wants to reach over and squeeze those arm muscles.
Shouto blinks. He’s never had any thoughts about Bakugou’s evidently beefy arms before. Maybe Bakugou is right — the trashy dating shows are corrupting his mind and turning it into mush. It takes a few seconds for his brain to whir back to life and register that Bakugou is currently speaking to him.
“You should invest in a fuckin’ haircut, icy hot. I know you’re going for a lame-ass ice prince look, but your bangs are falling all over your damn eyes. You look like a shaggy dog.”
“Woof,” Shouto deadpans in the most monotone voice he can muster, which isn’t very difficult since unbothered is his natural state of being. Bakugou cackles.
He’s about to get snarky right back and tell Bakugou he should invest in some etiquette classes for his less-than-stellar manners when Bakugou reaches forward and combs Shouto’s bangs to the side with surprisingly gentle hands, threading his fingers through silky hair and tucking the red and white strands behind Shouto’s ears.
“There. That’s better. You can fuckin’ see now.”
Shouto feels his body growing oddly warm and Bakugou smirks at him, all self-satisfied and laced with confidence that would make anyone else look arrogant, but just makes Bakugou look extremely mischievous. Bakugou is so close, Shouto can feel the warmth of his breath over his cheeks and smell his smokey, sweet scent. He feels like his heart is about to jackhammer through his sternum.
Oh god, is this what cardiac arrest feels like? Is he dying? He’s only twenty-five, he can’t be having heart problems already.
Bakugou is clearly unaware of Shouto’s apparent panic, continuing to comb his fingers softly through bi-colored hair, and Shouto’s body temperature spikes exponentially. He kind of feels like a packet of ramen noodles that’s been dropped into boiling water to cook.
He attempts to regulate his body temperature before he spontaneously sets the couch ablaze, but his left side flares up like he’s about to use his fire and Bakugou flinches back, untangling his fingers from Shouto’s hair before he accidentally gets second-degree burns.
“What the fuck, halfie?”
“I— Sorry, I don’t know what happened,” Shouto stammers. He’s feeling feverish and his heart feels like it’s hammering out of his chest, “I’m not feeling very well, I think I have a fever.”
Bakugou frowns, “You do feel like you’re burning up, can you not use your fuckin’ quirk to cool yourself down?”
Shouto shakes his head, “I’m trying but it’s not working. I must’ve caught a bug from someone at the agency.”
Furrowing his brows, Bakugou gets up off the couch, “Gonna go to the store to get you some medication. We can review the case files later, get some rest.”
Slipping his shoes on, he steps out of Shouto’s apartment.
Shouto lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and flops back onto the couch, picking up his cell phone and punching in Izuku’s number. The other man answers after one ring, “Shouto! Hi!”
“Hi, Izuku. I have to cancel our dinner plans tonight, I think I might be getting sick. Don’t want to pass it on to you.”
“Oh no, Shouto!” Izuku exclaims, sounding concerned. Probably because Shouto rarely ever gets sick, “Don’t worry about it, your health comes first! What are your symptoms?”
“It was very odd, it just suddenly came on. My whole body feels really hot and I can’t seem to cool myself down, so I think I have a slight fever. I also feel like I’m having heart palpitations. Do you think I should be concerned?”
Izuku hums, “Sounds like you may be coming down with the flu and the heart palpitations may just be from stress. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Shou! Do you want me to bring you anything?”
“No, it’s okay. Bakugou was here helping me go over some case files. He just went to the store to buy me some medication.”
“That’s so sweet of Kacchan!” Izuku wails.
Shouto can almost imagine Izuku bursting into tears of joy over the fact that Bakugou acts less like a feral cat around Shouto now like he did back at UA, and more like a companionable human being.
“Well, let me know if you need anything else! Hope you feel better soon, Shou!”
“Thank you, Izuku.”
His body seems to be back to normal the next day — it must’ve just been a fluke then and not the flu.
His body temperature went down a considerable amount after Bakugou stepped out and the pounding in his chest calmed down enough that he didn’t feel like he was going to spontaneously combust at any moment.
Sitting at a booth in the corner of an izakaya, he plays Neko Atsume on his phone while waiting for Izuku and Bakugou to show up for lunch. The owner of the restaurant is a sweet, mellow old lady who lets Shouto and other pro heroes slip in through the back of the restaurant, away from the prying eyes of fans and journalists.
Shouto is just about to feed his virtual cat some virtual sashimi when Izuku appears in a blur of green light, curly hair tousled from the wind, all smiles and crinkled, happy eyes, waving at Shouto as he makes his way towards the booth.
Smiling back, Shouto tucks his phone into his costume pocket.
Shouto hears Bakugou before he sees him — can hear the clunk clunk clunk of his heavy combat boots and the low timbre of his gravelly voice saying hello to a waitress. Shouto looks up and immediately feels like someone ignited fireworks inside his body while simultaneously kicking him in front of a moving train.
Bakugou is stalking towards their table with a giant rip down his hero costume, the fabric split straight down the front, exposing tanned skin and solid muscle and a few scrapes and bruises. Shouto gulps, low-key breaking out into a cold sweat.
Oh no, is he still sick?
Izuku also spots Bakugou and waves him over, frowning at the messy state he’s in. There’s some soot on Bakugou’s face, his ash blonde hair slightly gray from an assortment of rubble and dust. He’s pulled up his mask to his hairline like a headband, his hair pushed back, and Shouto suddenly feels an overwhelming urge to give Bakugou’s forehead a little smooch.
Wait? A forehead smooch?
“You okay, Kacchan?” Izuku asks, voice laced with concern.
“Yeah, some newbie sidekick got in the damn way when I was trying to take down this weak-ass villain,” Bakugou grumbles, plopping down onto the booth next to Shouto, “He has some sort of tornado quirk and his incompetent ass lost control and accidentally hurled me into a building. Someone should take his goddamn hero license away, a fucking menace to society,” he snarls, slamming a palm down against the table.
Shouto shivers a little when Bakugou’s shoulders brush his. He’s starting to sweat profusely and his head is spinning. He kind of wants to excuse himself so he can go outside and air out his armpits.
The waitress brings over some side dishes and Shouto immediately begins shoveling some potato salad into his mouth. Maybe he’s just hungry — sometimes when he forgets to eat lunch, his sugar levels get too low and it makes him feel disoriented and sluggish.
He’s zoning out, barely listening to Izuku ramble on about some inane topic when Bakugou turns towards him.
“Oi, halfie. You have shit on your mouth.”
“Fuckin’ messy eater, no table manners. Let me just—”
Bakugou reaches up and thumbs some potato salad from the corner of Shouto’s mouth. Shouto sucks in a breath and holds still as Bakugou leans in to make sure all the crumbs are wiped off his lips. He feels the hammering sensation in his chest intensify tenfold and he shivers against Bakugou’s fingers, a quick little motion that gets more pronounced the longer Bakugou stares at him.
Oh god, the heart palpitations are back and he feels an odd fluttering sensation in his stomach. Maybe he ate something that doesn’t agree with him? Is he allergic to potato salad?
“The fuck is wrong with you, half ‘n half?” Bakugou frowns, leaning in even closer to Shouto’s space, “You doin’ alright? You’re all red and you’re looking kinda shitty.”
Shouto ignores Izuku’s indignant squawk of “Kacchan that’s rude!” and fans himself with a menu.
“I’m not sure… I think I’m not feeling well again. I feel feverish and there’s this weird feeling in my stomach.”
Bakugou’s questioning face morphs into one of concern and he takes off his gloves, placing a calloused palm on Shouto’s forehead. Shouto nearly bursts into flames. The last time he felt this out of control with his quirk was when he was just a toddler.
“Oh yeah, your face is super warm,” Bakugou murmurs.
“Maybe you should take it easy the rest of the day, Shouto,” Izuku says, eyebrows furrowed.
Shouto tries to give both his friends a reassuring smile but Bakugou’s palm is still on his forehead and he kind of feels like he’s going to vibrate out of his body.
“I’ll be fine, Izuku. I think I’m just going to walk back to the agency, I need some fresh air. I’ll take my food to go.”
He squeezes by Bakugou, hightailing it out of the izakaya and into the cool autumn air. He can immediately feel the heat draining from his body and the hammering in his chest starts slowing down.
It’s probably not any major health problem then.
He still asks his boss if he can take a simpler patrol route, just in case.
A week later, it happens again.
Shouto has almost forgotten about his last health scare at the izakaya and he’s currently sitting on the couch in Izuku and Bakugou’s shared apartment, waiting for the two of them to finish getting ready so they can all head out to Kirishima’s birthday celebration together.
Hearing footsteps behind him, Shouto continues scrolling through his phone, assuming it’s just Izuku putting on his shoes. “Mina just texted us the address to the bar in the group ch—”
Shouto looks up and freezes.
Bakugou is standing there, fresh out of the shower, dripping water on the floor with only a towel around his waist. Shouto swallows, cheeks burning and eyes wide as saucers.
“Oh, fucking finally. We should never let Pinky plan a damn party, she always gives us the details super last minute. Lemme see the address.”
Stalking forward, Bakugou leans over the back of the couch to peek over Shouto’s shoulder at his phone. Bakugou’s cheek is almost pressed against his and he can feel the heat radiating off his body from the warm shower.
“Oh, that bar is downtown, I’ve been there before. It’s close enough that we can walk over. Just lemme change real quick,” Bakugou says, then stalks across the hall and into his room, oblivious to the fact that Shouto is ten seconds away from keeling over and passing out on the living room floor.
Shouto continues staring at Bakugou’s closed door while he’s seconds away from hyperventilating. He feels like he needs to breathe through a paper bag.
Maybe he’s dying. This is the end.
R.I.P. Todoroki Shouto.
Izuku comes out of his room in a pair of jeans and a limited-edition All Might hoodie and ties his shoes while Shouto devolves into a panic, trying to figure out what’s medically wrong with himself.
Knotting up the laces, Izuku looks up and makes a confused face at Shouto, who is currently trying his best to keep from bursting into flames in the middle of the living room.
“Shouto? Are you okay?”
“B— Bakugou— he—”
“He just walked out of the bathroom. In a towel. And like, nothing else.”
Izuku chuckles and nods, like Bakugou walking around half-naked is the most normal thing in the world. “Oh yeah, Kacchan does that a lot. He says he doesn’t like the feeling of clothing sticking to his wet skin.”
“Oh,” Shouto says weakly.
Izuku frowns, “Are you okay, Shou? Are you not feeling well again?”
“I— I don’t know,” Shouto croaks, “The symptoms just seem to randomly come on. The last time I felt this way was when I got lunch with you and Bakugou a week ago. Do you think I’m dying?”
“No, no, you are absolutely not dying,” Izuku squeaks out, waving his arms, “Maybe you’re just very stressed out? Tell me all the times you’ve felt sick.”
Shouto thinks back and furrows his brows, “There’s no pattern to when these symptoms appear, they just kind of happen and then go away.”
“Well, there’s always a pattern to everything, we’ll get to the bottom of it! Let's see... you’re very close to breaking into the top five in rankings, maybe you’re just stressed out about that. Maybe you ate something that’s messing with your body. You’re also turning twenty-six next year, maybe you’re having a quarter-life crisis—”
Shouto lets Izuku ramble on and on about what might be the cause of his symptoms while he tries to cool himself down so he feels less like a rotisserie chicken roasting over a fire.
His mind keeps wandering back to how Bakugou looked fresh out of the shower, water dripping down his body, shoulders a little pink from the hot water, and whoa that’s weird. Why is he fixating so much on Bakugou’s bare torso? He snaps out of it when Bakugou himself emerges from his room in a pair of dark jeans and a thin v-neck t-shirt that exposes his collarbones.
Shouto’s chest pains increase in intensity and he grips the couch cushions. Yep, he’s dying.
“Alright, fuckers. Y’all ready to go?” Bakugou asks.
Izuku, ever the kind soul, turns to Shouto with worried eyes, “Do you feel well enough to attend the party, Shou? Do you need to rest? I can stay here with you if you’d like to take it easy tonight.”
“Um, I think I’m fine,” Shouto rasps out.
“Then let’s fuckin’ go,” Bakugou says.
The party is in full swing by the time they get to the bar.
The birthday boy is already many beers deep, cheeks ruddy with alcohol as he launches himself at Bakugou who catches him easily, forearms flexing with the full weight of a red-headed pro hero in his arms.
“Baku-bro! Izuku, Shouto! You’re finally here!” Kirishima slurs, hanging off of Bakugou’s neck. Bakugou promptly drops him to the ground with a thud.
Thirty minutes later finds Kirishima on a tabletop doing the macarena with such vigor, Shouto is worried the table will split in half. Downing a shot of extremely vile-smelling liquor, Kaminari hops onto the table as well, with Sero following soon after. Shouto is one-hundred percent sure someone is going to topple onto the floor and bash their heads in.
He’s sitting at a booth, nursing an aperol spritz, absently freezing and melting the condensation on his glass. He’s too busy smiling at Izuku and Mina singing some fascinating drunk version of Mr. Brightside while Kirishima cheers them on, and doesn’t notice a certain blonde slipping next to him in the booth until he feels an arm wind around his shoulder.
He nearly jumps a clean ten feet into the air like a cat, his butt lifting straight up off the seat, and he promptly freezes Bakugou’s arm in place in his panic.
“If you wanted my arm around you that badly you could’ve just said so, halfie,” Bakugou drawls, taking a sip of his whiskey sour.
“Oh, sorry,” Shouto rasps out, “Did you um, did you want me to melt the ice?”
“Nah it’s fine, it’ll melt on its own,” Bakugou smirks, then motions towards Shouto’s drink with his free hand, “If you’re not gonna eat your orange slice can I have it?”
“Um, sure,” Shouto says cautiously, plucking the orange garnish off the rim of his drink and handing it to Bakugou.
Instead of taking the orange slice with his free hand like a normal human being, Bakugou leans forward and bites it with his teeth, ripping the flesh off the rind, his lips lightly brushing Shouto’s fingers, and oh god, Bakugou’s lips feel so soft.
Then Bakugou is licking the orange juice off his lips, a smug smirk on his face, and that sight obliterates every other thought in Shouto’s mind. Shouto’s heart races and he feels like he’s having a heart attack. Frankly, he’s never had a heart attack before, but he can only imagine this is what it feels like.
He’s not even twenty-six yet and he’s already developing a slew of health problems. Unbelievable.
Shouto downs the rest of his drink and stands abruptly from the table, “Sorry, Bakugou. I have to go.”
He darts toward the exit, ignoring Bakugou’s irritated yell of, “Oi, halfie, my arm is still frozen to the goddamn booth!”
Izuku catches him before he stumbles out the front door of the bar, “Shouto! You’re leaving already? We haven’t even cut the birthday cake yet!”
“I think there’s truly something wrong with me, Izuku,” he says frantically, “The chest pains are back, I feel like I have a fever, I can’t regulate my temperature, I feel like I’m having a heart attack, I don’t know what’s happening—”
“Whoa whoa, Shouto. Calm down,” Izuku says frowning, moving Shouto to a corner of the bar away from the crowd, “There must be a reasonable explanation for everything. I’m sure you’re okay. When did the symptoms start up?”
“I— I don’t know? Just a few minutes ago I think? Bakugou sat down next to me and he asked to eat the orange slice from my drink— did you know his lips are soft? It’s like he uses chapsti—”
“Wait,” Izuku interrupts, “What?”
Shouto forges on, “Before that, the symptoms appeared when I was at your apartment and Bakugou came out of the bathroom. I don’t think Bakugou should walk around in a towel all the time, Izuku. It’s indecent. Anyone can look through the windows and see him. I started getting fever-like symptoms then.”
“Okay… and you’ve felt these symptoms a few more times before today, right?” Izuku asks. He’s looking at Shouto kind of funny, an odd, thoughtful expression on his face.
“Yes, last week when we met for lunch, and Bakugou was upset because a sidekick threw him into a building. His hero costume was all ripped up and I could see his chest—”
“You saw his… chest…”
“Yes, keep up Izuku. And I think the first time was when Bakugou came over to my apartment to review a case with me and—”
“Hmmm…” Izuku interrupts.
“Eijirou!” Izuku bellows and Shouto takes a confused step back, “Come here please!”
Kirishima stumbles over like a drunken sailor and nearly collapses onto Shouto, “You summoned me, ‘Zuku?” he slurs.
“Yep, hold still please, Ei.”
And without any warning, Izuku grips the front of Kirishima’s flimsy excuse of a tank top and promptly rips it off his body.
“Oh my god, what are you doing?” Shouto squeaks, horrified.
Kirishima giggles and looks down at his now bare upper body, “Heh, I'm naked,” he hiccups.
“Oh my god,” Shouto repeats again, extremely taken aback. He feels like he’s in the middle of a very bizarre, unhinged dream.
“How do you feel right now, Shou?” Izuku asks, staring at Shouto like he’s some sort of weird specimen that needs to be examined.
“I— I don’t know? I don’t understand what is happening? You should probably buy Kirishima a new shirt.”
“So you don’t feel any symptoms?”
“No? Why would I—”
Izuku blinks then interrupts him, yelling across the bar, “Kacchan! I need you to come here please!”
Bakugou has apparently gotten himself free from the ice prison Shouto put him in and is now having a conversation with Sero by the pool tables. He looks up, confusion clouding his face as he takes in the scene before him.
“What the fuck, Deku? Why the hell did you rip Shitty Hair’s shirt off?”
“Just, come here please, Kacchan.”
Bakugou grumbles, making his way over without barking out a single curse word, and it’s a huge testament to how much his relationship with Izuku has improved over time. Shouto opens his mouth to ask Izuku what in the world is going on, when Izuku suddenly grabs the bottom of Bakugou’s shirt and lifts it over his head so his bare torso is exposed.
Bakugou squawks and Shouto nearly faints, stumbling back and tripping over his own feet to lean against the wall.
Izuku squints at him, “So, Shou? What about now? How are you feeling?”
“Um, not well,” Shouto croaks out. His heart is beating so wildly it feels like it’s about to escape his chest. He needs to get out and get some fresh air now.
Bakugou smacks Izuku upside the head and the other man promptly lets go of his shirt, letting the fabric fall back down. “What the fuck, you goddamn shitty-ass nerd? What the hell was that?”
“Ah nothing, just an experiment.”
“What kind of experiment involves needing to rid me and Shitty Hair of our shirts?”
“Oh, you’ll see,” Izuku says, a sinister grin on his face.
Shouto gulps and runs out of the bar.
“I think I have heart failure.”
“What?” Izuku shouts as he hops onto the roof of the next building.
“My symptoms. I think it’s heart failure,” Shouto yells back, skating on his ice towards the villain bolting away ahead of them.
The villain they’re chasing after has some sort of quirk that turns his feet into coils. It’s honestly a very stupid quirk — Shouto can hear the boing boing boing of the man’s weird springy feet as he hops from building to building.
“I looked it up on Google,” Shouto continues yelling, “It said shortness of breath, chest pains, and fevers are all symptoms of heart failure.”
“You do not have heart failure, Shouto,” Izuku shouts while flicking his fingers, performing a Delaware Smash that sends the villain stumbling.
The villain screams, stumbling on his weird coiled feet and Shouto saves him from tumbling off the building to his doom by encasing his whole body in a block of ice. The villain collapses onto the roof with a loud oof, frozen solid. They move to lean against the railing of the building to wait for the authorities to arrive.
“So if I don’t have heart failure, what do I have?”
Izuku stares at him, “Do you really not know?”
“Um… I mean I think I have heart failure, but clearly, you don’t think so.”
“Oh my god, Shou. You can’t be serious,” Izuku wails.
“I truly don’t know why you’re not telling me what illness I have if you clearly know, Izuku,” Shouto snaps. He’s starting to get impatient. He just wants to stop randomly feeling he’s going to burst into flames while simultaneously having his heart beat out of his chest.
Izuku turns to look at him and he looks slightly apologetic. He puts a gloved hand on Shouto’s shoulder, “Okay Shou. I’ll give you a hint. Think back to every time you’ve felt symptoms. Have there been any… patterns or similar things that happen before you feel the symptoms arise?”
Shouto frowns. He thinks back to the first time he felt sick. He had been sitting with Bakugou on his couch, and the other man had brushed his hair out of his face.
The next time was at the izakaya when he had lunch with Izuku and Bakugou and Bakugou had wiped potato salad from his mouth. The third time was when Bakugou came out of the shower in nothing but a towel, and the fourth was at Kirishima’s party when Bakugou sat next to him at the booth and ate his orange slice.
Shouto’s eyes widen, “Oh my god.”
Izuku beams, “You understand now?”
“Yes. Do you think I’m allergic to nitroglycerin?”
Izuku drops his face into his hands.
The annual hero gala is as miserable as Shouto expects. It’s stuffy and boring with weak drinks and too many reporters packed around the area trying to get Shouto’s attention. He’s currently standing outside on the red carpet, ignoring the annoying voices of the photographers screaming “Strike a pose for me, Pro Hero Shouto!” while nursing glass after glass of watery liquid claiming to be alcohol.
Shouto finds Izuku in the crowd and ducks behind him, letting the other man field questions from reporters since socializing is more of Izuku’s strong suit. Shouto is far better at standing and looking pretty. The photographers don’t seem to mind, snapping photo after photo of him while he stares off into space. He didn’t win Most Attractive Pro Hero four years in a row for nothing.
He spots a shock of blonde hair in the crowd and immediately lets out a chuckle. Bakugou’s PR manager is currently shoving the explosive pro hero towards a group of fangirls holding up “WE LOVE YOU DYNAMIGHT” signs while Bakugou scowls at them.
Smiling and shaking his head, Shouto looks around, trying to figure out how he can slip away without drawing any attention to himself. He’s about to make his escape when a reporter shamelessly reaches over the barrier and gropes his ass.
Shouto lets out an embarrassingly loud yelp and promptly spills a few drops of red wine down the front of his new suit. He winces, his stylist is not going to be happy with that stain. The reporter reaches out in preparation to grab his ass a second time and Shouto decides he needs to nope the hell out of there and makes a beeline towards the bathrooms, pushing his way past Izuku and the crowd.
He ducks his head down once he makes it into the building and dives through the bathroom door, extremely thankful to find it empty. Walking toward the sinks, Shouto grabs a few paper towels in an attempt to rub the red stain off his freshly pressed dress shirt.
Suddenly, the bathroom door bangs open and he whips around, terrified that the reporters might have followed him to the bathroom, but in walks Bakugou, hands in his pocket and a smirk on his face that looks exceptionally self-assured this evening.
“Half ‘n half,” Bakugo drawls. He’s dressed in a fashionable black suit, clearly altered to fit his body perfectly. The trims of his lapels are orange, imitating the orange X on his hero suit. He has black studs in his ears and some kohl eyeliner drawn onto his waterline. His stylists did a fantastic job.
Shouto swallows, “Bakugou,” he responds, trying to keep his voice level.
The sudden presence of Bakugou in the same room as him is so overwhelming, he starts to sweat through his dress shirt, which is stupid considering how air-conditioned the bathroom is. He’s starting to get extremely irritated with his random hot flashes — what’s the point of having a temperature regulating quirk if he can’t even use it?
Bakugou stalks forward, standing next to Shouto by the sinks, fixing his hair in the bathroom mirror, “I spoke to Deku earlier this week,” he says ominously.
“Yeah?” Shouto swallows. Bakugou’s shoulder is brushing his and the heart palpitations are coming back. Screw Izuku for not believing he has some sort of heart disease.
“Heard you’re feeling sick or some shit,” Bakugou says, voice deep and raspy.
“Uh yeah. I was thinking I might have some early symptoms of heart disease. Or maybe I might be allergic to your sweat? Since the symptoms mostly come on when you’re around.”
Bakugou barks out a laugh, and Shouto gives him a wary look, “I don’t think you’re allergic to nitroglycerin, halfie.”
Shouto’s eyes widen, “So you think I have heart disease then? But I’m only twenty-five. I shouldn’t have heart disease. Do you think I should see a doc—”
“What the fuck, no!” Bakugou growls. He looks like he’s trying to hold himself back from putting his hands around Shouto’s throat and throttling him like a rag doll. He pinches the bridge of his nose, “Just— look at me, halfie.”
Shouto turns slowly and is met with red eyes, so very intense, he can’t look away even if he tried. He shivers, no one has ever looked at him that way before. Bakugou raises a hand and lightly grips Shouto’s chin with his thumb and forefinger, pulling Shouto’s head down slightly so they’re maintaining eye contact.
“What if I told you… I also feel funny when I’m around you. I also get fuckin’ heart palpitations and fevers and whatever the fuck else you feel.”
Bakugou stresses those words with a weird tone and Shouto is very confused. His chest feels all tight, overflowing with some odd emotion he can’t name. “Are— are you allergic to… me? Is it the lotion I use?”
“What?” Bakugou shouts incredulously. He releases his grip on Shouto’s chin and wipes a hand haggardly over his face. “No, I’m not allergic to your stupid fragrance-y lotion, you dipshit,” he barks.
Shouto has no clue where this conversation is going. If they were in a cartoon he’d have animated question marks bouncing around his head. “Okay… then what are you allergic to?”
“I’m not allergic to anything, you icy hot bastard!” Bakugou shouts, exasperated, “Don’t you get it? I’m in love with you!”
Shouto feels like he’s been pummeled to the ground by Izuku’s Detroit Smash at 100%. All the air has been knocked straight out of his lungs and his legs feel like jelly.
He stares at Bakugou, waiting for the other man to bark out a laugh and say he’s joking, but Bakugou looks deadly serious. It takes almost a full thirty seconds for Shouto to croak out a weak, “Y— you’re what?”
“My god, half ‘n half,” Bakugou growls, voice full of frustration. He grabs onto both of Shouto’s shoulders so they’re standing just inches apart. The heat from Bakugou’s palms feel like molten lava and the warmth seeps through his suit jacket, it makes Shouto burn even hotter.
“I am in love. With you,” Bakugou repeats.
Shouto is silent, his mind trying to grasp the fact that Bakugou is being extremely serious and isn’t playing some bizarre practical joke on him. Bakugou continues on.
“I’ve been slowly falling in love with you for the past six years, or maybe even earlier than that, I don’t fucking know.”
Bakugou sighs when Shouto just keeps staring, trying to steady himself from the emotional whiplash he got from first thinking he might be dying from heart disease, to realizing Bakugou Katsuki is in love with him.
“Maybe it started during our third year at UA, when we sparred together all the goddamn time and we both never wanted to lose, so you’d give me fuckin’ frostbite and I’d nearly blow your head off almost every day. And we’d study for exams in your room because all the shitty extras were too damn loud in the common room, and you’d make me green tea and share your mochi with me, the ones Fuyumi would make for you.”
Shouto feels a little unhinged, like his grasp on reality and his own emotions have been hurled into the stratosphere. Bakugou keeps going.
“I look forward to the days we have patrol together. I get really fuckin’ excited whenever you text me about stupid shit, like how you texted me last week that you cooked dinner without burning your kitchen down, and I have to keep myself from texting back immediately so I don’t look like a fuckin’ creep. I love how you drag me to cat cafes with you when we both have the day off even though I hate cats. I love going over to your place and watching your lame-ass trashy dating shows. You annoy the hell out of me, on purpose, and I don’t ever want you to stop.”
“I’m not done yet, Icy Hot.”
Shouto closes his mouth and stares at Bakugou’s sincere expression, so full of concentration. Communication is most definitely not Bakugou’s strong suit, but he’s currently trying so hard to make sure he’s explaining everything to Shouto, and it makes Shouto’s heart clench.
“The heart palpitations are just my heart beating out of my goddamn chest every time you’re around me because I’m nervous and want to impress you. Stomach pains? Just fuckin’ butterflies in my stomach because you’re so fucking pretty, I can’t stand it. My palms get so sweaty when I’m around you, I’m worried I’ll blow my own damn arms off because I get so excited when I have your attention.”
Bakugou continues staring at Shouto like he’s the only person in the world and Shouto is mesmerized and helpless, he can’t do anything but stare back.
“So no, I’m not allergic to your shitty-ass lotion, icy hot. And I also do not have heart disease. I am. In love. With you.”
“Oh,” Shouto rasps out. Bakugou looks so genuine and hopeful and so different from the usual sarcastic, scathing man he knows. His lips are swollen from nervously biting them while he waits for Shouto to respond, and Shouto really wants to kiss him.
Shouto wants to kiss him?
He looks at Bakugou and is nearly blown away by how beautiful the other man is. He thinks about how almost all the happiest moments in his life have involved Bakugou. Whenever anything happens, good or bad, the first person he wants to tell is Bakugou. Whenever he has a day off, he immediately wants to spend it with Bakugou.
He thinks about how he always looks up articles and videos of Great Explosion Murder God Dynamight on the news, how his heart always swells with pride whenever he sees Bakugou lighting up the sky with red-orange-yellow, so powerful, so graceful. He thinks of the countless number of times Bakugou has made him smile.
Neither of them say anything. They stand there in silence, eyeing each other.
Bakugou is so stunning it makes Shouto’s teeth hurt, all sharp eyes and high cheekbones, and a smirk that makes Shouto weak in the knees. Shouto thinks about how he feels all the heat rushing to his face when Bakugou gets too close, how his heart races when Bakugou brushes warm, calloused palms over his skin. His symptoms have always just been his body yearning to have Bakugou close.
And it all becomes clear.
“It appears,” Shouto whispers, “I am maybe in love with you too.”
Bakugou’s mouth breaks into a smile, a feral uncontrolled thing, “Yeah?” he says softly.
“Yeah,” Shouto murmurs, a small smile tugging at his lips, “It took me a while to figure it out.”
“Because you have marbles where your brain should be,” Bakugou smirks.
Shouto feigns offense, but then Bakugou is lifting a hand to cup at Shouto’s cheek and all thoughts fly out of his head and down the proverbial drain. Shouto leans into the touch, feeling half-drunk and wondering if he’s hallucinated everything that just happened, if he’s going to blink and find himself back outside on the red carpet.
“Please don’t burst into flames,” Bakugou rasps out, snapping Shouto from his thoughts, and then Bakugou is kissing him.
Bakugou’s mouth is warm and soft (just like he knew it would be.) His nose is pressing into Shouto’s cheek, and it’s like the one last piece of a puzzle slotting into place when he didn’t know he was putting a puzzle together in the first place.
Because of course, this is what it all meant — the fevers, the stomach butterflies, the heart palpitations. And in another world where Shouto has more in his brain than just Wii music looping around on repeat, he would’ve realized years ago, that he’s been in love with Bakugou Katsuki for longer than he could possibly know.
He would’ve realized it when Bakugou walked out half-naked from the shower and Shouto nearly set the apartment on fire. He would’ve realized it when Bakugou tucked Shouto’s hair behind his ear and he felt like he was going to vibrate out of his skin. Hell, he would’ve realized it back at UA, when he’d always naturally gravitate towards Bakugou, even when Bakugou would scream in his face that they’re “not friends, goddamnit icy hot.”
The realization that he’s been in love with Bakugou for years and years and that the other man feels the same way makes him put his hands up to Bakugou’s collar to pull them flush against each other, kissing him even harder.
Bakugou’s palms are warm and rough on Shouto’s face, and he kisses like he’s trying to express how much he loves Shouto and it makes him want to cry — it leaves him breathless.
They kiss for what feels like hours, clutching at each other and kissing like it’s going out of style, like they’re going to bring it back to style through sheer enthusiasm.
Eventually, Bakugou pulls back to heave in air, leaving Shouto to chase his mouth, the feel of it more important than oxygen at the moment. Bakugou puts his lips on Shouto’s jaw instead, mouthing at the pulse thrumming through his veins.
“So… still think you have some medical condition where you’re allergic to my sweat?” Bakugou asks, voice several tones deeper than usual.
Shouto snorts, “Shut up.”
He pulls Bakugou in again, kissing him long and slow, memorizing the taste of him, loving the way he gets rougher when Shouto tries to pull back, biting at his lower lip.
“I was sick, though,” Shouto says when he pulls back to breathe.
“What the hell are you going on about, half ‘n half?” Bakguou asks, frowning.
“I was lovesick,” Shouto says, face completely serious.
Bakugou’s face cycles through several emotions at once — confusion, disbelief, pure happiness, then exasperation. He rolls his eyes, “You’re so fucking ridiculous.”
At any other time, Bakugou probably would’ve punched him in the shoulder for saying something so stupid. But tonight, it makes Bakugou exhale shakily and reach out to cup Shouto’s face in his hands and kiss him again, like he never wants to do anything else ever again.
Shouto thinks he could kiss Bakugou for days, maybe even for the rest of his life.
He wants to be lovesick forever.