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i hope you know (you don't go alone)

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The night Bakugou is kidnapped—in the aftermath as the police arrive and their classes huddle together at the edge of the still-burning woods—Kirishima isn’t doing well.

Whispered word had spread about how things went down in the forest; Kirishima had heard it thirdhand from Mina, who’d heard it from Uraraka, who’d come upon the scene after Bakugou was already gone. And he’s holding it together, sure, but he feels shattered. Everyone can probably see it on his face, from the way they keep shooting him concerned glances—more so to him than they are to anyone else. He wants to tell them he’s fine, really, I’m not the one to be worried about right now—but, well. He thinks maybe just breathing is enough for now.

His own preoccupation is to blame, Kirishima thinks later, for taking so long to notice that Todoroki isn’t okay either.

Todoroki is standing alone at the far side of the group, closest to the trees, staring up at the blue flames engulfing the canopy. There’s several helicopters above attempting in vain to smother the inferno, but it keeps burning. Kirishima wants to approach him, wants to ask him exactly what had happened in the forest. With Midoriya already in an ambulance and Shouji and Tokoyami being assessed on-scene, Todoroki is the last freestanding member of their group.

And, Kirishima thinks, he’d been Bakugou’s partner before the others had even met up with them during the attack.

The lights from the ambulances are playing on Todoroki’s silhouette, a flash turning him a scorched red then splitting him black and ice blue. Blue like his burned eye, like the fire in the trees.

Todoroki could explain it to him, what went wrong.

Without consciously deciding, Kirishima takes a step toward the boy’s isolated figure. But suddenly there’s Sero with a gentle yet firm grip on his elbow, stopping Kirishima in his tracks. His friend shakes his head minutely, and speaks so only Kirishima can hear him.

“Let him be tonight,” Sero advises, or maybe warns, glancing over at Todoroki with a frown. “I don’t think he’s taking this as well as he’s putting on.”

Kirishima follows his gaze and forces himself to look more closely. He blinks.

Oh. What had at first appeared to be a solemn, unshaken Todoroki was nothing but a false idol. His stare into the flames is unsettlingly blank. His hands hang limp at his sides, composure betrayed by the slightest tremble in them, barely discernible in the low light.

“I don’t think he’s spoken to anyone but the police since they came back,” Sero whispers.

“He was with him all night,” Kirishima protests weakly, but makes no attempt to pull away from the grip holding him back. “I just need to know…”

“Exactly,” says Sero, “He was with him all night, and couldn’t stop it from happening.”

Kirishima blinks back the stinging of new tears, frustrated at the fact that he’s close to crying again.

“It’s not his fault,” he says, finally. 

“We know that,” Sero agrees, placating, as Vlad-sensei begins to usher them toward a set of buses, “But I don’t know if he does.”

-X-

Completely independent of each other, they end up at the hospital the day after the kidnapping.

“Todoroki?!” Kirishima exclaims, spotting the other boy a ways down the hall. Todoroki turns back and looks at him, face betraying no surprise—no anything really. “Why are you here?”

“What about you?” Todoroki counters, tipping his head the slightest bit. Kirishima feels like he’s being sized up, and abruptly feels the need to justify himself.

“I… well… I couldn’t just sit still at home… and…” he trails off halfheartedly, scratching at his cheek.

“I see,” Todoroki replies, and then he smiles, a tiny, fragile thing. Kirishima blinks.

“Me neither,” Todoroki admits, and waits for Kirishima to reach his side before they both head off to see Midoriya.

 

They’re in Midoriya’s room, after eavesdropping on Yaoyorozu speaking with All Might and the police. After learning about the tracking device. Midoriya is still out cold, but that’s probably for the better: no one needs to overhear this conversation. Kirishima should have expected it, really. It’s all he’s been able to think about since last night; of course Todoroki would be feeling the same breed of restlessness.

Just—out of the two of them, he hadn’t expected Todoroki to be the one to bring it up.

“We could save him.”

Flat out, no preamble: a plan that could get them expelled, arrested, or killed. Maybe he needs to reassess his perception of Todoroki.

“I know you’re thinking it too,” Todoroki says.

He’s not wrong.

They leave the hospital shortly thereafter and spend the afternoon quietly planning out their rescue strategy in a cafe. Todoroki pays for his lunch when their stomachs start to growl, despite Kirishima’s protests.

Todoroki just pins him with a level stare.

“You said you’re going to buy the night vision goggles, right? I can at least get lunch.”

It deflates Kirishima’s argument in one fell swoop. He thanks him, instead, and is rewarded with another small smile.

Seeing it, Kirishima takes a moment to appreciate where he is and what he’s doing. Who exactly he’s doing this with. And for the first time since Bakugou was taken, the knot inside his chest eases, just the tiniest bit.

They can do this.

-X-

They’re doing this. They’re on the train, the five of them. Yaoyorozu and Iida look anxious at blatantly disobeying the rules, and Midoriya is his usual brand of nervous energy. Compared to them, Kirishima thinks absently, him and Todoroki look completely calm.

He snorts at that, taking another bite of the onigiri Todoroki had bought him. Todoroki shoots him a glance from the corner of his eye, picking at his bento, but Kirishima just shakes his head and listens as Midoriya picks their brain about the situation.

“Did you tell the rest of the class you were leaving tonight?” Midoriya asks, almost hesitant. Todoroki sighs, then bites into his food, nonplussed.

“Yeah,” he replies, “And then they wasted time trying to stop us.” He manages to sound matter-of-fact rather than frustrated, and his straightforwardness is something Kirishima is beginning to appreciate more and more about Todoroki.

That quality becomes glaringly apparent when, casually taking a bite of his meal, Todoroki sums up the crux of their rescue:

“You understand that what we’re doing is selfish and that no one wants us to do it, right?” He says it to the other three, but it’s something him and Kirishima had discussed at length the day before. “It won’t be accepted by anyone, even Bakugou.”

 

(Truly they hadn’t talked much about Bakugou himself in the course of their planning. They hadn’t discussed the aftermath, or what could happen should they fail. But they’d ended the night before with the same goal firmly guiding them.

“I don’t care that it breaks the rules,” Kirishima had said, breaking  the silence before they parted ways at the station. He feels Todoroki staring at him, but keeps his gaze at his feet. “If we can’t save… this one person, then…”

What’s the point he doesn’t say, but the words are there, choking at the back of his throat.

It’s silent for a long moment, long enough that Kirishima thinks that he isn’t going to respond. And then—

“He might hate us after this,” says Todoroki, too honest once again, and Kirishima snaps his gaze to him. Todoroki sighs, pushing a hand through his hair and glancing up at the overcast night sky. “But I can handle being hated, as long as he’s hating me and safe, back at school with the rest of us.”

Kirishima finds himself staring, opens his mouth to say who knows what, when Todoroki continues speaking, voice thoughtful.

“Though—I don’t think he could ever actually hate you, Kirishima.”)

-X-

Their rescue falls apart and reforms so quickly that Kirishima doesn’t have time to think, only act. One moment his back is to the concrete wall, Todoroki at his side with a bone-deep fear keeping them paralyzed, the next—

It has to be you, Kirishima.

—they’re rocketing through the air, and Bakugou has his hand in a death grip, and they’re still in the middle of a war zone, yeah, but Kirishima can’t help the triumphant grin that splits his face. It’s only after they’ve crash-landed and are putting ground between them and the battle, after Bakugou brings it up, that Kirishima shakes off the adrenaline and remembers it isn’t over.

“Where’s half & half?” he snaps at them as they stumble-run through debris.

It’s enough to jolt Kirishima, whipping his head to face Bakugou and nearly tripping as a result, only catching himself when Bakugou yanks him up by the hand with a scowl.

They’re still holding hands.

“What?” Kirishima asks, momentarily struck stupid.

“The ice,” Bakugou growls, frustration at him (at all of them) for being dense apparent. “Todoroki. Don’t tell me you fuckers grabbed me and just left him there—“

Fuck. Something in Kirishima’s chest twists a bit in guilt that he’d been so distracted by the rescue that he hadn’t been worried about the other two’s exit route: on foot, and much closer to the immediate danger.

“Ah!” Midoriya’s exclamation interrupts them, and he pulls a buzzing phone from his pocket to check the screen. “That’s them!”

“Thank god,” Kirishima breathes bodily in relief; he’d probably be slumped over if they weren’t currently running.

Them?” Bakugou asks, sending Midoriya’s back a glare as the boy speaks into the phone. “How many extras did you bring along, shitty hair—“

Kirishima can’t help it: he starts to laugh.

(And if a few tears slip out, well, no one is gonna mention it.)

-X-

They move into the dorms and almost get expelled all in the same day.

Honestly, it’s a bit much for Kirishima to process.

“It’s kinda funny,” Kirishima says to Todoroki that first night as they climb the stairs to their new rooms after Asui’s speech. The others from the rescue group had remained downstairs, the rest of their class filed off into their own groups after their room competition. Bakugou was long since in bed, and Kirishima, well… if he’d feel better finally just being in the room next to his friend, that was no one’s business but his own.

And Todoroki’s, now, he supposed.

“Like, how they put my room next to his, and yours directly above…” Kirishima elaborates, then pauses when Todoroki doesn’t immediately reply, a bit sheepish. The words play back in his head and his face begins to turn the color of his hair. “Aaah, it’s probably pretty stupid, I know—" he backtracks.

“Like a shield,” Todoroki muses, interrupting him, and Kirishima snaps his gaze back to him.

“Yeah, exactly!” He beams, relaxing, and punches a fist in the air. “It’s just funny how it worked out that way, right?”

Todoroki hums in acknowledgment. “Aizawa doesn’t do anything by accident. They probably figured we’d find our own way, regardless. Better to humor us with proximity and keep us from causing trouble.” Kirishima snorts once at that, then sobers as the mention of their teacher brings thoughts of earlier in the day to the forefront of his mind once more.

“Yeah…” He looks at his feet as they climb the stairs. “I can’t believe we were this close to getting expelled,” he confesses, quietly.

“I can,” Todoroki replies without hesitation. He looks unfazed, much like he had in the courtyard during Aizawa’s condemnation of their behavior, but at a closer glance Kirishima can see a tightness to his brows. “But I’d do it again.”

Kirishima stares at him, jaw dropping a bit at the resolution in his voice. Todoroki keeps his gaze forward and they match each other step for step.

“It makes me selfish, I know,” Todoroki admits, and Kirishima frowns at that. “But even knowing the risk, I would.”

Kirishima doesn’t like the isolating look on Todoroki’s face; it reminds him too much of the blankness from that awful night, Todoroki staring up at blue flames like the world had been ripped from under his feet. He acts on an impulse, reaching out to grasp one of Todoroki’s hands in his own and pulling them to a stop on the landing just before the fourth floor.

“Me too,” Kirishima swears, holding Todoroki’s gaze with his own fierce one. “Without a doubt.”

Kirishima isn’t sure what it is, exactly, but something in Todoroki’s expression crumbles at the declaration. Suddenly Kirishima finds himself wholly unprepared to face the softest, smallest of smiles on Todoroki’s face as the other boy squeezes Kirishima’s hand once.

“He won’t thank us for that,” Todoroki says, wry and quiet. Kirishima snorts.

“No,” he grins, shaking his head. The amusement fades to something softer, stronger. “But that’s not why we do this.”

A long moment passes between them on the landing, looking each other in the face with the feeling of, while not knowing each other very much at all, having a complete understanding of another person.

“No, it's not,” Todoroki murmurs in agreement, eyes watching Kirishima with a focus that begins to make the other boy nervous as it finally catches up to him that he’s holding hands with Todoroki Shouto on the landing in their dorms, where anyone could come by. 

As if on cue, the first floor door opens down below, the sound of feet coming up the stairs echoing up to them. The two boys drop their hands and continue up the last flight of stairs.

Finally reaching his floor, Kirishima pauses in the doorway to the hall, turning back to look at Todoroki, who now has his hands in his pockets. For some reason that makes something pleasant squirm in his chest, and a small smile appear on his face. He feels like he should say something, but he doesn’t know what. Todoroki looks past his shoulder, and his gaze lingers on Bakugou’s door.

“We’ll look after him,” Kirishima promises, almost to himself, as he too watches the closed door, both of their minds occupied, as was usual of late, on the sleeping occupant within.

Todoroki hums in agreement, a warm sound, and when Kirishima glances at him from the corner of his eye, Todoroki is smiling again.

“He’ll hate it,” Todoroki acknowledges, sounding far too pleased by the prospect. “I can’t wait.”

Kirishima laughs brightly, caught off guard, and feeling light for the first time in days.

-X-

Bakugou, predictably, is not thrilled by their reckless rescue effort, though it takes about a week to get back to enough normalcy to confront Kirishima. He pulls him into his room after afternoon hero-training, and Kirishima only has a moment to marvel wow, so this is Blasty’s room before Bakugou snaps.

“Alright, listen up. Right here, right now, you’re gonna swear on your shitty fucking life that you and the band of misfits are never gonna pull a suicide stunt like that again, get it? I was fine.”

Kirishima, predictably, gets defensive about it.

“We couldn’t just sit around and do nothing, Bakugou! We were going crazy—“

Bakugou whirls on him, eyes flashing and cheeks ruddy with emotion. Kirishima doesn’t know if it’s embarrassment, or shame, but it’s gotta be at least partly anger.

“I don’t care if fucking Deku was hysterical," Bakugou growls, "I expect you to not to go along with his stupid plans—and don’t bring his pack of do-gooders along next time, for fuck’s sake-“

“There won’t be a next time,” Kirishima says automatically, then pauses, “Oh.”

“Spit it out, shitty hair,” Bakugou scowls.

“I wasn’t talking about Midoriya—I meant me and Todoroki.” Bakugou blinks at him, momentarily derailed.

“What.”

Kirishima blinks right back at him, confused at his confusion. “Yeah? We were the ones who planned the rescue, so...”

Bakugou says nothing, just stares at him with an incredulous look on his face.

“What?” Kirishima asks, fidgeting under the scrutiny. Bakugou narrows his eyes.

“I don’t believe you.”

“What? Wait, why the hell not?!” Kirishima exclaims, baffled, and Bakugou just scowls at him.

“Cause it’s half & half!” he argues, like that’s enough of a reason. “There’s no reason he should’ve been there.”

“He was really worried about you!” Kirishima finds himself defending; he hopes he isn’t breaching some kind of bro code with Todoroki by telling Bakugou this. But Bakugou hadn’t seen Todoroki in the aftermath like he had, and this felt important.

“Like- as much as I was, even.” Kirishima deflates slightly, gaze lowering. “Cause he was right there, y’know? I think it fucks him up a bit.”

Chancing a look at Bakugou, Kirishima sees that his face had gotten steadily redder through his declaration. Oh shit, he thinks, that probably just pissed him off more.

“You-“ Bakugou starts, then cuts himself off with a groan, scrubbing his hands forcefully over his face in exasperation. “Fucking- idiots, the both of them,” he mutters under his breath.

When Bakugou finally uncovers his face his cheeks are still a ruddy red. Kirishima frowns.

“Are—are you actually mad about that? Just ‘cause he-“

Bakugou silences him with a hand held up between them.

“I need to think,” he announces.

“Eh?”

”Get out.”

What? Why?” Kirishima’s eyes widen, alarmed. He hadn’t thought he’d be that upset. “Bakugou, man, I didn’t—“

“Out, out, c’mon, you heard me,” Bakugou instructs, herding him out the door, but Kirishima halts them both with his hands braced wide on the doorframe.

“Wait—we’re okay?” he checks, because that’s the thing that really matters. Bakugou just frowns at him and rolls his eyes.

“Stop worrying so much, hair for brains.”

“But really though?”

Kirishima.”

“Okay, okay,” Kirishima backs out of the doorway, hands raised in an “I mean no harm” gesture. He grins toothily. “Just wanted to be sure.”

Bakugou slams the door in his face.

-X-

Bakugou’s insomnia comes as no surprise to any of them. He can sleep alone, through sheer force of will and stubbornness, sure. But that doesn’t mean he sleeps well.

Nightmares are a fucking bitch.

Because of that, there are times when he dozes off when he’s studying with Kirishima. He never says anything about it, though. Bakugou suspects the other boy might be offering to study with him more so that Bakugou can get some rest, but if Kirishima’s grades are improving as a result then Bakugou doesn’t see why he’s gotta say shit about the arrangement.

He even falls asleep on the ride home from supplementary lessons with Todoroki once. (Fine, twice.) Todoroki never tells anyone it happens, not even the time he’d slumped far enough down the seat that his head pillowed against Todoroki’s shoulder—and that’s good, because Bakugou would probably blast him into next week if he were ever to bring that up outside of their bubble of supplementary lessons.

Embarrassment aside, the days he naps around those two aren’t… so bad, all things considered.

But of course, there are bad days. And then there are the extra bad days where he’d jump at his own shadow—blast first and ask questions later.

Today belongs in the latter category.

He’s sleep-deprived and irritable from the outset, frustrated from an unsatisfying training session and just overall angry at all of the walls he can’t seem to break through as quickly as he’d like. His hands ache from overuse, his eyes are stinging from sleeplessness, and he feels the beginning of a stress headache pounding at his temple.

All that considered, Bakugou doesn’t quite know how he ends up on the couch in the common area with shitty hair and half & half late that Saturday, watching a movie of all things.

(He blames Kirishima, wholeheartedly. Somehow, when he’s around the other boy Bakugou finds himself committing to all sorts of things he’d never intended.

Todoroki, unfortunately, has a similar effect on him—but more often on Bakugou’s temper and patience instead of his good will.) 

The movie is lame, a B-rated action film he’s seen too many times with too few explosions. But Kirishima’s into it, settled deeply into the couch next to him with a pillow hugged to his chest. Todoroki, tucked into the corner on Kirishima’s other side, seems to be paying at least a moderate amount of attention. Not that Bakugou could get a read on his face even if he wasn’t. Bakugou’s barely been watching from the get go, but as the movie progresses he starts to feel his eyelids get heavy. It’s stubbornness alone that’s forcing them open at this point, his head nodding off then jerking up as he repeatedly jolts himself awake.

“You should sleep if you’re tired,” murmurs Todoroki’s voice, snapping Bakugou into hazy awareness. It’s said quietly enough that had Bakugou been truly asleep he wouldn’t have awoken. “We’re here. It’s…” safe, it sounds like Todoroki wants to say, but doesn’t.

The words dig at Bakugou, half asleep with all the poison from the day gathered like acid on his lips. He doesn’t think before he speaks. It’s Todoroki, so Bakugou lashes out. It’s Todoroki, and he can always take it.

“You were there last time too. That didn’t stop them.”

As soon as the words leave his mouth, Bakugou knows he’s made a mistake. He doesn’t need to hear Kirishima’s sharp breath or see the look on his face to know. It shows in the way that Todoroki visibly flinches at his words like he’s been struck.

Bakugou’s eyes widen a bit when it sinks in what he’s just said; the silence around them is suffocating. His mouth parts to—what, take it back? It wasn’t meant as an accusation, but Bakugou can see that that’s what Todoroki’s taken it as. A confirmation of the guilt that must’ve been weighing on him since the day of the kidnapping. And Bakugou just threw it in his face.

There’s a certain kind of self-loathing on Todoroki’s face that Bakugou can see, one he recognizes from the mirror as inadequacy, before the expression on the boy’s face arranges into a carefully forced blank.

Bakugou hates that look.

A long moment passes where no one speaks, then two. Kirishima shifts, uncomfortable in the stillness, and maybe that’s what finally spurs Todoroki into breaking it.

“You’re right,” Todoroki concedes, and it’s with a sickening feeling in his gut that Bakugou realizes he feels no victory in that statement. “But Kirishima is here this time; he saved you before. You can trust him.”

Todoroki speaks in monotone—like it means nothing to him what his words imply: that Bakugou doesn’t trust him. That Todoroki accepts Bakugou not trusting him after everything. After he slipped through Todoroki’s fingers, and after Todoroki came for him anyway.

Bakugou, for once, can think of nothing to say. So he crosses his arms and says nothing at all.

The tv continues playing that stupid movie in spite of the oppressive silence around them. Eventually Bakugou settles back into the couch, and Kirishima at his side does the same. He tries to actually pay attention to the movie this time, if only to ignore the twisting feeling in his gut.

After a while Bakugou’s eyes again start to flutter closed against his better judgement. But then a whispered conversation brings him back to wakefulness.

There’s a quiet, shifting noise, then—

Todoroki—” a hushed whisper, sounding upset.

“He doesn’t want me here, Kirishima; I don’t blame him for that.”

“C’mon, man…”

“It’s fine,” Todoroki says, voice neutral, and it sounds like a lie. “Text me if anything changes.”

Bakugou blinks his eyes open, sees that Todoroki has stood from his seat and is quietly crossing in front of the couch, clearly making his exit.

He passes Bakugou, and before the blond knows what he’s done his hand shoots out and grips Todoroki by the wrist.

Todoroki halts, peering cautiously down at the half-asleep Bakugou. His face is no longer in its inscrutable mask, but it’s guarded.

“I didn’t say you should go,” Bakugou accuses, because that’s how they are, the two of them. But his voice is the quietest Todoroki has ever heard from the explosive boy.

I didn’t say I don’t want you here.

Todoroki is at a loss, wondering if he should pull away anyway, when Bakugou’s face twists into an uncomfortable frown.

“Just…” he trails off, and tugs on Todoroki’s wrist, pulling him bodily down onto the couch beside him. Stay is left unsaid but understood as the movie plays on, and in between Kirishima and Todoroki, Bakugou Katsuki experiences the most restful sleep he’s had in weeks.

-X-

It takes Bakugou ages to talk to Todoroki about Kamino Ward. Months and months. Long enough that they’d even, sort of, figured out whatever this thing between the three of them was.

(Sort of. They’re still a work in progress, but… constantly improving.)

It comes up because their class is planning the second year's summer training camp. It can’t be helped that everyone, and especially Bakugou, is reminded of how disastrous their last one turned out.

He brings it up when it’s just the two of them sprawled across Bakugou’s bed, half-waiting for Kirishima to finish up hanging out with everyone in the common area and come upstairs.

Bakugou’s allowing himself to be held, which is a novelty in itself that’s slowly becoming habit. He’s tucked to Todoroki’s side, ear to his chest, one arm wrapped around his waist in a comforting bind and one of his legs loosely kicked over Todoroki’s. Todoroki’s got his right arm circled around Bakugou’s broad shoulders, right hand carding through his hair while his left rubs warm circles with his thumb over the bone of Bakugou’s wrist.

“Why didn’t you care?” Bakugou asks him out of the blue, and he feels the way Todoroki lifts his head slightly to peer down at him. Bakugou makes the executive choice to keep his head down throughout this conversation.

“Hm?” Todoroki prompts sleepily.

“Kamino Ward.” It’s enough to wake Todoroki up completely, blinking in surprise. “You were going to get expelled. It could’ve trashed your hero career before it even started. The two of you, you’re so... fucking reckless. You could’ve...” died, he doesn’t say, but Todoroki doesn’t have the same qualms.

You could have died,” he explains, and Bakugou blinks as Todoroki flips his argument around on him. It’s enough to break his resolve and make him tip his head back to meet Todoroki’s mismatched stare, more than ready to argue.

“I wasn’t-”

“We didn’t know that,” Todoroki explains in that aggravatingly-level voice of his, but Bakugou feels the way he’s gone tense underneath him.  “Anything could’ve been happening to you. We had no idea.”

“Didn’t stop to think too hard, huh?” Bakugou tries to deflect, but Todoroki doesn’t buy into it.

“No,” Todoroki frowns, staring up at the ceiling, remembering. “We thought. Even before Kirishima and I met at the hospital, we’d been thinking about it. Momo’s tracker just gave us a plan that wasn’t suicidal.”

Bakugou holds back a growl of it was still suicidal, motherfucker, and don’t either of you ever do that again, but it’s a close thing. Instead he breathes deep and tucks his head back down, mumbling into Todoroki’s sternum.

“Sparky said the class gave you a hard time about it.”

Todoroki snorts, a rare sound of amusement that has Bakugou clutching tighter to the fabric at his waist.

“You could say that,” he explains, rubbing a hand down the length of Bakugou’s back and back up to his shoulder blades. “They only wasted their time and ours; they should’ve realized that.”

Kirishima bursts in through the door at that moment, boisterous greeting on his lips. He tones it down when he notices them, blinking at the sight before him.

“You’re cuddle piling without me?” he pouts exaggeratedly, “I would’ve come up sooner.” 

He quickly joins them on the bed, half sprawled on Bakugou’s back, Todoroki lifting his arm to accommodate Kirishima’s head pillowed on his bicep. Kirishima, for his part, presses a quick kiss first to Todoroki’s jaw and then the top of Bakugou’s head (an action which earns him a small smile from one and a half-hearted grumble from the other).

“What were you guys talking about?” Kirishima asks once he’s settled, respectful of the quiet bubble they’d created. “Seemed kinda serious.”

Bakugou doesn’t answer him, just grumbles and reaches back to snag Kirishima’s wrist and guide the other boy’s arm more fully around his own waist, so Todoroki elaborates.

“We were talking about how the rest of the class reacted to our rescue plan last year,” he explains, and Kirishima snorts too.

“They were harsh, man. I mean like–I get it, but c’mon,” he frowns at the memory, and Todoroki drops a kiss onto his forehead to ease it.

“I think Asui’s exact phrasing was ‘we’d be no better than villains’,” Todoroki offers, and Bakugou’s fist tightens on his shirt at that.

“Yeah,” Kirishima acknowledges, “but she felt bad for saying that. Uraraka was ruthless, though.”

“Round face?” Bakugou asks, surprised. Both Kirishima and Todoroki hesitate to answer—Bakugou feels it in the way they tense around him. He’s stating to realize there’s a whole side to this trauma that he had no idea existed. “What?”

“Um,” Kirishima starts, succumbing to the silence first. “Well, basically she told us that… if any if us—if we—tried to rescue you, you’d be… humiliated at needing to be saved.”

There’s silence around them as it sinks in. There’s a clenching in Bakugou’s chest at the judgement against him… but he can’t even argue it—

“We thought that was bullshit, obviously,” Todoroki interrupts his thoughts, breaking the tension even while his quiet voice leaves no room for argument. “Even if you had thought that, we’d decided it didn’t matter. We were going anyway.”

“Katsuki, you should’ve heard him back then, it was so sweet,” Kirishima whispers into Bakugou’s ear, as if Todoroki can’t hear them. “How did you say it, Shouto?” Kirishima asks, then puts on his mock-Todoroki voice,”’I can handle being hated by him, as long as he’s hating me, safe, at home, in my bed—“

“That is not what I said,” Todoroki protests, left side warming under Bakugou’s arm as Kirishima giggles uncontrollably against his back.

“But it’s basically what you meant. God, how did we not realize these feelings sooner—it was obvious!” Kirishima exclaims. “We could’ve been doing this so much sooner,” he mumbles, nuzzling his face into Bakugou’s fluffy hair.

“For the record,” Bakugou grumbles quietly, finally piping up. “… I don’t hate you.”

Kirishima and Todoroki both gasp theatrically, and Bakugou inwardly curses them for being terrible influences on each other.

“Todoroki, I think that was a confession—“

“I take it back.”

“You can’t take back a confession,” Todoroki points out, calmly.

It wasn’t a confession—“

“Dude, stop breaking his heart!“

“I hate you both,” Bakugou groans, miserably fond as he hides his reddened face in Todoroki’s chest and pulls them all closer.