Actions

Work Header

Him and His Crush and The Springtime of Youth

Chapter Text

It takes Katsuki a month to catch onto the fact that every weekend, Todoroki leaves the school compound early in the morning and doesn’t come back till late at night.

 

It was more of a coincidence than anything, really.

 

For certain reasons, ever since the start of the new year, Katsuki has taken to jogging in the early morning on weekends.

 

As the rare case of a “screeching owl-lark”, an English portmanteau christened by Kaminari and Kirishima as the unholy mix of the morning lark and the night owl, Katsuki is used to going to bed early and sleeping in until noon on weekends. So it is tiring as hell for him— no, scratch that. If fucking Deku can do it, so can he.

 

(To be honest, Katsuki is more surprised by the fact that the duo actually knows English than to be annoyed by the whole naming thing. He even voiced said opinion to the two of them on the spot, eliciting a humorous “Hey!” out of them.)

 

It was a sleepy morning, only yesterday —Saturday— when he, while jogging at the school track, saw Todoroki. Dressed in civilian clothes. Not accompanied by a teacher. Leaving by the school gate. And he only returned to the dorm at night, looking ready to drop.

 

The same thing happened the next day.

 

To be entirely fair (not that he needs to justify himself, because he doesn’t care at all), he’d been busy the whole month. It wasn’t easy juggling school work, extra hero training (because recently he found out fucking Deku was working out more than he was, what the actual fuck) and, annoyingly, the increased frequency in joint-hero-intern patrols due to a sudden spike in petty crimes in his assigned area. Katsuki wasn’t even able to take out his pent-up frustration on the villains, they were just that much of a pushover.

 

Of course, despite his shitty schedule, he still managed to pull off the month perfectly.

 

So obviously, he wouldn’t have the time to note down the changes in Half-Assed Bastard’s schedule.

 

Even though he has made it a point to memorise the schedules of everyone in his class. Like how every Sunday night Kaminari always scrambles to finish homework due tomorrow and blast study music so loud he can hear it from where he is sleeping.

 

(Or at least trying but failing to study. Kaminari isn’t even sleeping directly above him, for fuck’s sake.)

 

So, to preempt that, every Sunday afternoon he drags Kaminari — and Ashido who tags along — to the school library and forces them to complete their homework.

 

Even so. He is miffed when he realises that actually, he didn’t know Todoroki’s schedule as well as he’d thought he did. Then he is even more miffed at being miffed that he is not fully informed of what Todoroki fuckin’ Shouto is doing on his weekends. Because he doesn’t care about the candy cane fucker — he’s probably visiting his mother at the hospital or some other shit.

 

Except that Katsuki knows the school makes exceptions for him to visits her every Tuesday and only on Tuesdays. They only have enough staff available to escort him to and from the hospital for having such a predictable schedule.

 

Fuck .

 

He stomps up to Kirishima’s room, flings the door open and slams it close.

 

“Why the hell is Todoroki is allowed to leave the school compound on weekends?!”

 

Kirishima is lying on his bed rereading his tattered novel of Crimson Riot for the umpteenth time. It's a vintage edition of Crimson Riot’s autobiography; Katsuki even has his own copy in his room, courtesy of Kirishima in recent light of his efforts in spreading around his sacred texts to convince Katsuki to convert to the Crimson Riot religion.

 

Interrupted, he puts down his book and raises his head to shoot Katsuki a questioning look.

 

“Huh? What?”

 

“Security’s been more rigid because we’ve been targeted by so many villains — why does he have permission to go out on a weekend as well as Tuesdays now?!”

 

“And you found out because…?”

 

“I’m not fuckin’ blind, I saw him leave yesterday and today… he just came back.”

 

“Bakugou… it’s 11pm.”

 

Exactly. What the fuck.”

 

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

 

Bakugou frowns. Kirishima has, grudgingly, very grudgingly, a point. In fact, he was already dozing off in the common room when Todoroki came back — normally he sleeps at least two hours earlier than that, but. But.

 

“The fuck is it your business when I sleep?!”

 

Kirishima tilts his head.

 

“Waaaait.” He says, drawing out the word. “You just found out that Todoroki is going out on weekends? Bakugou, it’s been going on for a month now.”

 

What.

 

Kirishima thinks about it for a while, before coming to a realisation — Katsuki can see it in his face.

 

Katsuki scowls. He does not like the way Kirishima’s face lights up — it is the same face that Kaminari and Sero make when they are up to their usual nonsense, and he is not in the mood for it right now.

 

“Ahhhhh.” Kirishima says, grinning.

 

“What.”

 

“Well, I mean, I guess it’s to be expected, since you’ve been trying to ignore him for weeks . Yeah, he’s been going somewhere with special permission from Aizawa-sensei. Nobody knows what it is because no one dares to ask Todoroki —let alone Aizawa-sensei, he’s been keeping mum about the whole matter. Heck, there’s even a betting pool for it now.”

 

“What—what the hell?!”

 

Kirishima’s grin grew wider.

 

“Truth.”

 

Kirishima had to be fucking with him.

 

 

Kirishima was not, in fact, fucking with him.

 

Katsuki glares at the piece of paper Invisible Girl passes to him during Japanese class. The paper is scribbled in various fonts and flowery words:

 

Places our class ikemen is probably sneaking out of school to go to during the weekends:

  1. A host club~✧・゚:*
  2. lmao maid cafe
  3. A Cat Cafe! For the Gap Moeness!

 

Katsuki knows that everyone in his class is missing a few screws, but still. To involve him in their shenanigans is outright infuriating.

 

…But really, what in the world was Todoroki doing?

 

Deku. Deku would know what’s going on. But he would rather break the bones in his arms than even consider consulting Deku on this issue.

 

Or he could break Deku’s bones instead — it has been a long time since he has had a training session with Deku. The last time they had a serious spar, the repair fees for the training ground had been so huge Aizawa-sensei had limited them to a serious spar a month.

 

Scowling, Katsuki crumples the paper into a wad, resisting the urge to rub his temples.

 

Fuck this. He was tired of thinking about this and he was getting distracted, in class, which could very well affect his grades. Invisible Girl and the rest of the class can puzzle over the mystery that surrounds Todoroki fucking Shouto’s circumstances without Katsuki.

 

Katsuki scowls. Enough.

 

He flicks his wrist, lobbing the crumpled paper ball at Deku’s forehead. Deku, being Deku, ducks, of course.

 

And yet, the insidious image of Todoroki in a maid outfit stays in his mind throughout the entire class.

 

Katsuki forgets about all of this — more like he forcibly rips apart, crumples, and shoves these unwanted thoughts into a small compartment at the back of his head and He. Will. Not. Think. About. It. Dammit. — until it is brought back up a week later.

 

It is a Saturday morning when the multiple buzzes on his phone wakes him at an ungodly hour. It is still dark outside and his room is pitch black save for the glowing screen of his phone. He fumbles for the phone and it reads 3:30 AM, — the hell? — it is too early for Katsuki to be dealing with this.

 

Katsuki brings the bright screen closer to his bleary eyes, squinting at the onslaught of notifications on his phone.

 

[Delusion Gal]

(unread) (3:27 AM) Bakugou!

(unread) (3:27 AM) (,,꒪꒫꒪,,)✧・゚:*

(unread) (3:27 AM) EMERGENCY

(unread) (3:27 AM) Shinjuku Station ASAP

(unread) (3:27 AM) [sticker]

 

The last message is just a sticker of a white bear in tears. Katsuki slowly becomes more alert with every word he reads. The weird kaomoji and stickers… Camie better have a good reason for waking him up so early in the morning.

 

Even now, Katsuki does not know whether Camie is super oblivious or just plain stubborn; she easily bulldozes past the walls that he has put up and insists on talking to him on a regular basis, and every time their schools meet for joint practices.

 

He is still figuring out how she got ahold of his LINE number. Todoroki is not the type to share personal information about others although the opposite can be said about his own personal information — that, he gives freely, because he shares too much and does not know how to hold back.

 

And Camie has not formally met his other classmates yet, because of investigative reasons that has to do with the security breach during the provisional license exams and some shit.

 

Katsuki isn’t that much of an idiot, he knows it has something to do the fact that the Camie who took the exam was completely different than the one he had met at the makeup course. He has also heard the murmurs from the Shiketsu students (especially the chatterbox Slit-eyed Bastard) about how an imposter had drugged her and taken her place.

 

Katsuki drops the glowing phone beside him and rubs his eyes. He glances at the clock just as it clicks to 3:30. It is too early in the morning for him to be dealing with this. He should just go back to sleep.

 

...Except, his stupid brain chooses this moment to betray his exhausted body and recall that Hero Killer incident a year ago where fucking Deku had, in a state of emergency, sent his location to the whole class with no written explanation.

 

While the circumstances are not exactly the same, because it was, well. Camie. She has been targeted by the Villain Alliance once.

 

Camie could be in mortal danger again.

 

Of course, it is not like she is weak. Katsuki snorts at the very thought. He has sparred with her before and laughed at people getting beaten up by her because they don’t believe that the fashionista gyaru can, surprisingly, pack a mean punch.

 

But… her Quirk isn’t exactly suited for prolonged battles.

 

Aaaah, screw this.

 

He really really hated this part about him— No, fuck that, he was awesome.

 

He sends Camie a simple [DIE], and heads out immediately.


When he arrives at the exit to Shinjuku station, the sun is just beginning to rise in the distance.

 

Normally it would take one thirty minutes to get from Yuuei to Shinjuku — Katsuki gets there in five.

 

And here he gets to exercise his terrain navigation skills, recently taught during the hero courses. It is essentially glorified parkour, and no, he’s not using his Quirk because it is five in the goddamn morning, he’s not stupid. His route includes lots of shady back alleys and roof-running, and of course, he when he reaches the station he takes the train like a good, law-abiding citizen.

 

He is not even winded. But he is irritated as hell. Especially when he sees Camie leaning against a pillar, not a sign of distress in her posture.

 

Katsuki clamps a hand on her shoulder. She whips around, her expression one of delight.

 

“Bakugou! Mooornin’ good!”

 

Camie is dressed in a tank top and a long, flowy skirt with patterned with sakura petals, her feet clad in kitten heels. Her nails are neatly trimmed and covered in a film of clear polish. Her hair is left untied, but a gold-plated magnolia flower clip is pinned above her left ear. A chain purse dangles from her shoulder, reaching down to her waist.

 

Overall, Katsuki concludes, an outfit unfit for combat. And-

 

“You’re not in danger.”

 

Camie’s mouth twitches up.

 

“Aww, you were worried about me? That’s like, totes sweet!”

 

Katsuki snorts. “I am not sweet.” Katsuki has been called many things for his whole life, most of them derogatory names and snide remarks. But sweet? Sweet is the last thing he has ever expected to be described as.

 

Camus nods solemnly. “True dat.”

 

Oi.”

 

Katsuki knits his brow at Camie, letting his originally tense body relax. “Well? What did you call me here for, then.”

 

Camie’s blond hair flutters in the gentle breeze. Her skirt billows out, as if playing with the wind. With the dawning sun appearing behind her--

 

“Bakugou, my fam. Let’s—”

 

Camie winks.

 

“—Go shopping together!”

 

“… … …”

 

Katsuki.exe has stopped working~


...What. Is the only coherent thought Katsuki can think right now.

 

“You- I- What-” He splutters in incoherent rage. “You dragged me out of bed — at three thirty in the morning — just so we could go shopping?!

 

“Of course! I need to get more eyeliner, so I need a second opinion, you get me?”

 

“What- Couldn’t you have asked someone else?! Anyone that is not me?!”

 

“Who else better to ask than an expert?”

 

Katsuki’s brain screeches to a halt. He raises an eyebrow at her. “Is that supposed to be a fucking insult?”

 

“Huh?” Camie tilts her head. “Whaddya mean?”

 

Katsuki knows that she isn’t the type to lie. Yup, definitely not. Airheaded and easygoing, she is the kind of person with no brain-to-mouth filter. She is like Todoroki, in that sense — they both tend to speak their mind without heed to who they are talking to. Talking to her is slightly more of a pain compared to talking to Todoroki, and not because she is too candid.

 

It is just that most of the time, what comes out of her mouth is usually weird lingo.

 

“I’ve seen you put on killer wings. It’s like, mad lit y’know?” Case in point. “So I thought I’d take pointers from you.”

 

…Shit.

 

Katsuki can feel it, can feel his heart weakening and bending against his will and Camie looks at him with those puzzled eyes, and... and... damn his soft fucking heart.

 

“Aahhhhgghhh.” He puts a palm to his forehead and rakes it through his hair, groaning loudly.

 

He points a finger at Camie.

 

“Listen here, Camie.”

 

“One day. Just for today. I’ll go along with your whims.”

 

Camie’s face lights up. “Thanks, Bakugou! I knew I could ultracount on you!”

 

Katsuki gives an internal sigh.

 

He knows. He just knows that by the end of the day he’s going to regret this.


 

Spoiler: Katsuki regrets it.

 

And it hasn't even been a full day yet.

 

Four hours in and he is sitting on a bench, laden with an armful of shopping bags and already longing to go back to sleep. Shopping is not part of the regret, no. That is all his stupid biology telling him he needs ten hours of sleep every day.

 

In fact, he managed to grab a few shirts (that Camie called “delinquent-like” and “out of fashion already”, but screw Camie) to add to his “angsty, dark wardrobe” as Camie puts it.

 

What, is he Tokoyami now?

 

Camie has never seen his wardrobe anyway, so how would she even know what it looks like? It is-- it is not angsty, it is pretty fucking kickass!

 

He tells Camie as such, and she gives him a ‘ahhh, I told you so’ look and he has to strongly resist the urge to smack that smug, catlike smile off her face.

 

They also accomplished their original goal, which was to pick out the best type of eyeliner that suited Camie. Now that Katsuki thinks about it, had Camie decided to ask Todoroki to tag along, the financially illiterate ‘young master’ would probably go straight for the most expensive brand. Heh.

 

For brunch they go to a fancy French cafe. Camie orders an earl grey waffle coupled with a scoop of thai milk tea ice cream while Katsuki opts for a plate of truffle fries and a salmon avocado toast. He has to wait for Camie as she coos over the food and takes snapshots with her phone before he can eat, though. Shows just how much of a paragon of patience Katsuki is. Yep, that’s him alright.

 

After that they wander around the streets of Shinjuku, essentially doing the ultimate time-killer known as window shopping. Disregarding the fact that the time could be better spent training and reading up on next week’s materials, Katsuki finds the change of pace surprisingly refreshing; the last time he recalls going out of the school compounds for something other than his internship was a month ago.

 

As for the activity itself, window shopping is not, Katsuki reflects with a bit of nostalgia, new to him at all; his parents have often brought him along when they scouted clothing stores, looking for new sources of inspiration during their occasional dry spells of artist’s block.

 

And then they — and what a fucking shocker — stop by a cat cafe.


The cat-eared maid hands Katsuki a flyer, beckoning to them with her gloved paw. “We’re holding a time-limited special gacha at their cafe right nyow!” She says cheerfully. “It’s perfect for a couple like you two, nya!

 

Camie snickers. “Bakugou, y’hear that? Apparently we’re a couple now. Lmao.”

 

Katsuki tunes out her chatter; he’s only focusing on the list of prizes printed on the flyer.

 

~ :3c Nyantonaku Cafe ~

Instructions: Today and tomorrow at 12:00 PM, Nyantonaku Cafe will be holding a gacha contest for customers to participate in!

TOP PRIZE: ☆ All Might SSR Platinum Edition Trading Card ☆

SECOND PRIZE: Six premiere movie tickets for the much-anticipated show, [Paramount Heroes]!

THIRD PRIZE: A newly-released game cartridge for the all-time popular horror game, a remastered version of [The Lich's House]!

FOURTH PRIZE: A set of cat coasters!

CONSOLATION: A bag of homemade cat-themed sweets by Nyantonaku Cafe!

PARTICIPATION REWARD: 50% discount for all drinks from our menu!

 

“An All Might SSR All Might SSR Platinum Edition Trading Card…” Katsuki mutters.

 

As a current intern to an accomplished top underground pro hero, Katsuki has visited many underground places that have never seen the light of day. Shady pubs where he and his hero mentor meet with information dealers, underground arenas for unrestricted Quirk-brawling, and abandoned warehouses where undercover heroes meet up to exchange information… they are all part of his job as an intern.

 

(He is more like a slave than a ‘secretary’ in actual fact. Katsuki internally scoffs his official title. Secretary? Accompanying his hero mentor around everywhere he went just to help him carry things and take notes, fucking Deku would be better suited for this job. The only time Katsuki ever gets to use his Quirk is when things go horribly and their cover is blown, or the rare times when he gets assigned to do hero patrolling. And even then villains rarely pop up in his area, nooooo, they have to show up in the area right next to his assigned one, so when he is called in as backup he has to run all the way to the next sector, just to discover the incident is already resolved.)

 

Through Katsuki’s time in the pubs, he catches scraps of information and rumours and takes them down in his mind to write down and organise later back in the hero office — obviously not when he is in a den surrounded by shady-ass people. Putting together seemingly-unconnected information to form a bigger map of villain activities is also a job assigned to him by his mentor. It is part of hero work, his mentor says. It is tedious as fuck, Katsuki says back.

 

It is like looking at tiny puzzle pieces and figuring out which ones fit together and which don't, and 90 percent of the time it is the latter.

 

Yes, Katsuki loved his internship.

 

(This is sarcasm, by the way.)

 

And, getting to the main point: over the course of his internship, Katsuki has heard rumours.

 

The bare bones of it, mostly bits and pieces, spoken in hushed whispers to him, all point to a supposedly one-of-a-kind All Might trading card sold in an underground auction months ago.

 

And of all the places he’d expected its name to pop up, Katsuki least expected it to be in a cat cafe flyer, of all things.

 

And of course, where there was All Might, there was Deku… at least, Katsuki corrects himself, Deku would be there, if he wasn’t currently in the hospital for fucking up his body, again. Doped up with ten different kinds of drugs to keep him unconscious so he can actually stay still and rest. Damn bastard was too insistent on going back to hero-internship patrolling duties, the fucking masochist.

 

“Helloo Bakugou, are you a-okay in there? You’ve been glaring holes into that flyer for a while.” Camie sidles closer to Katsuki to get a look at the flyer. “Oh look,” she says happily, pointing at the second prize. “I wanna get that. Y’know, me and my gals wanted to watch that soooo badly but they sold out seconds after the online booking opened up. It was a total bummer.”

 

Katsuki crumples the flyer in his fist. (Camie: Hey, Bakugou, you’re crushing it, you’re crushing it.) “Then, it’s settled. Let’s fucking steamroll this competition.”


Katsuki and Camie take a seat in the cafe and call a waitress over to listen to the explanation. The participation requirement was to attract as many cats in the cafe to the customer’s table within one minute. At the end, each cat counted as one gacha ticket. Touching the cats with your hands or leaving your seat is forbidden. Usage of Quirks is allowed, but only if it doesn’t hurt the cats in any way or destroy the cafe.

 

To Katsuki, this event was made for him. With his own merit, he’ll get an indisputable first place. As they say, everything is fair in love and war. (Camie: You’re really into this, aren’t you.)

 

“Well then! Is everyone ready?” The head waitress called out, standing at the counter with her microphone. She holds out her hand like a referee, and, chopping her hand down, she yells, “Theeeen, start!”

 

Some of the customers around the shop start beckoning to the cats, calling out with meowing sounds or saying ‘here here, kitty’. Some even hold out cat treats and toys — using outside items, how desperate are they?! — to try and entice the cats.

 

But, cats are, by nature, finicky and hard to please. Just because people call out to them does not mean they will answer the call. Katsuki knows this from watching too many nature documentaries (read: NatGeo) with Kirishima and Kaminari (who eventually attract the peanut gallery that is his whole class), and as a result he knows too much about the predatory habits of the wild tamed cat in its hunting grounds. (Camie: That makes no sense, Bakugou.)

 

Camie creates illusions of bowls of cat food and toys, attracting the attention of a few curious cats, but there are too many holes in that plan to begin with: Though her illusions stimulate all five senses (and that was only after a whole year of practice), she’s still working on the olfactory part, and once the cats smell something fishy, the game is up. They are easily distracted creatures, after all.

 

And then, there are the obviously advantageous assholes with Quirks perfectly suited to this situation. Like the blond dude with slick hair sitting at the booth next to theirs, calling cats by the dozen to him- wait. That’s...

 

Monoma… Neito…

 

“That bastard… when did he copy Dumbass’s Quirk!”

 

“Oh? Bakugou?” The bastard grins as he caught sight of Bakugou and Camie. “Oyaoya? What might a student of Class A be doing here? Could it be, that you came here, expecting to win? With my Quirk, I guess it’s game over though~”

 

“You bastard…” Katsuki growls like a feral cat.


Camie is having the time of her life.

 

Sure, the competition is fun and all, but the cake taker? Watching Bakugou and the dude from Class B — Monoma, she remembers, from their joint school practices together — duke it out, metaphorical sparks flying everywhere in the cafe. Was it going to escalate into a catfight? Would it even count as a good ol’ catfight (haha, pun) if it wasn’t between two gals?

 

Bakugou, you did good restraining yourself, huh. Camie thinks. If you exploded something, we’d be disqualified from the competition.

 

“Aaaah? You got a problem, you can say it to my face, Copy Bastard.”

 

“But I would never~ May the best person win.” Monoma singsongs, already assured of his victory.

 

“Tch… Camie!” Bakugou yells, making her jump. “We’re winning this!”

 

“Uh, sure, fam, but at this rate…”

 

And then Bakugou goes silent, his face closed off and all stone-faced like, staring intensely at the cats. Very un-Bakugou. Camie is struck dumb by his face - like she has said before, when he is not scowling he is actually pretty hot. Wait- now’s not the time to be frozen!

 

Camie whips out her phone and primes it to snap a photo of rare Bakugou, when Bakugou —

 

— he —

 

— with that uncharacteristically expressionless face—

 

“Nyan”

 

He said.

 

 

Ny… Nyan. He, he clearly said that, didn’t he?

 

Camie wasn’t dreaming, was she?

 

That word, coming out of his mouth, held such a destructive power it could nuke the universe.

 

It was the word “Nyan”, y’know?

 

Camie was shookt.

 

Monoma, too, was shookt.

 

If there was a ranking (and if there wasn’t Camie is creating one now because, seriously, what the heck . She has to find a way to cope with this internal crisis somehow ), what Bakugou just said would be a close contender for the ‘Words Most Unlikely To Come Out Of Bakugou’s Mouth’.

 

Conversely, if there was a ranking for the ‘Words Most Likely To Come Out Of Bakugou’s Mouth’, ‘fuck’ would definitely be ranked first (was it the presence of All Might in Yuuei that influenced Bakugou, Camie wonders), followed closely by ‘fucking Deku’, or so Camie hears.

 

Click. Camie taps the shutter button on her smartphone, mournful that she didn’t have the foresight to make a video. How will Inasa and Todoroki ever believe her without concrete evidence? She opens her mouth to make a comment on it when, suddenly, she sees it.

 

All the cats in the cafe prick up their ears, their fur spiking up — reminiscent of Bakugou’s hair, Camie faintly thinks.

 

Then, with a pattering of paws—

 

The cats surround Bakugou, paws firmly tucked beneath them, eyes wide, akin to followers listening to the sermon of a cult leader— No! Bad analogy, Camie reprimands herself, it’s like, like… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ … Ok, so maybe she can’t think of a good analogy right now, but man . Bakugou.

 

Just now, that ‘Nyan’ that he uttered…

 

Like the squeak of a lonely kitten, yowling out loud for the whole world to hear …that kind of feeling, it was hard to put a name to, if Camie was being honest.

 

Though, could any ‘Nyan’ coming out from Bakugou’s mouth ever be considered normal? The very thought of the abrasive Bakugou holding a cattail, trying to coax a cat into coming nearer… yep, Camie can see it happening.

 

In one of her fantasies, that is. Gap moe is a current trend right now, she hears.

 

And oh god, now Camie is imagining Bakugou dressed like in a Disney Snow White outfit, cooing and singing to birds. She may or may not have let out a stifled ‘pdfffffft’ at the thought.

 

The cats start petting Bakugou with their paws —er, shouldn't it be the other way around?— and jumping into his lap and making purring sounds in their throat. One even licks Bakugou’s ankle, eliciting a tiny ‘ow, fuck’ from him.

 

All in all, it is precious. They’re, like, treating him as a kitten or something, Camie thinks faintly.

 

“T-the contest is now over! We have an overwhelming winner, Katsuki and Camie! …Well, we didn’t prepare for this, but I guess they get all 40 tickets to try for the gacha! To the rest of the customers, thank you very much for coming to our contest today! We will be holding another one tomorrow with different prizes…” The head waitress breaks off to shake her head at the unbelievable situation. Camie herself is still smh-ing at the sight of Bakugou being covered in furballs of fluffiness.

 

All for the gap moe! Her mind silently cheers. Camie agrees.

 

Bakugou leans back in his seat and gives Camie a smirk. “Ha! Told’ya we’d get an indisputable first place.” His victorious expression is kinda ruined by the image of him drowning in cats. “Wouldn’t settle for anything less.”

 

“Ah, but there’s still the gacha to win, Bakugou.”

 

“Even in contests of luck, I’ll come out first! That’s what it means to be top! I’ll beat that shitty gacha into oblivion!”

 

“Mmkay. Y’know, after all that just happened? Nothing can surprise me anymore.”

 

And that’s the story of how Bakugou and Camie walk out of a cat cafe with an All Might SSR Platinum Edition Trading Card, six tickets to a premiere movie, and a new release for a game.



“Here.” Katsuki dumps the bag of cat-shaped sweets onto the kitchen counter, eliciting a gasp from (mainly) the girls. “Knock yourself out.”

 

“Thanks, Bakugou-kun! These are so cute! Where’d you get them?” Uraraka cheers.

 

“Is this related to where you went for the whole day?” Hagakure asks.

 

“These are really good! Thanks, Bakugou!” Kirishima has already opened the bag and popped one into his mouth.

 

“You idiot, don’t talk while eating, do you wanna choke and die?” Katsuki says.

 

“Molding sweets into shapes… maybe I should make that my next project?” Satou comments as he inspects a boiled sweet in his hand.

 

“Bakugou, Bakugou! You were able to leave the school grounds? That’s so sneaky! Take me with you next time you sneak out!” Ashido cries, waving her hands and saying, “That's un-faaaair!”

 

“I got a permission slip, stu-pid.” Katsuki drags out the last syllable, waving the piece of paper with All Might’s signature in front of Ashido, the noisy brat.

 

All Might was already awake, marking quizzes they did the day before. Like teacher, like disciple… Katsuki respects sleep too much for him to follow their brand of insanity.

 

And talking about sleep…

 

Katsuki was really tired. He did spend a whole day out -- shit, did that mean his stamina wasn’t enough? Dammit, he is definitely increasing his reps the next time he goes to the gym.

 

“Oi, Kaminari. Catch.” “Wha- OW!”

 

Katsuki tosses the video game to Kaminari, but he muffs the catch (of course he does) by catching it with his face. The video game smacks into his face with a thwack and falls, but not before Kaminari’s reflexes kick in and this time he actually, properly, catches it in his hands.

 

“Huh? What’s this?” Kaminari pinches the videogame with his index and thumb, bringing it to his eye level with mild interest. “New Release, The— UOAAAAAAHHhhhhhASDFGHJKSHHS!?!”

 

Kaminari nearly drops the game in surprise (with a ‘Careful!’ bark from Katsuki), yelping as he juggles it from hand to hand like it is a hot potato.

 

“Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-” Kaminari stutters. It takes him awhile to actually form a coherent sentence.

 

For that alone, Katsuki muses, it was worth going to that cat cafe.

 

“BAKUGOU!! WHERE DID YOU GET THIS FROM?!?”

 

Katsuki opens his mouth to answer, but at the last moment he thinks better of it, and instead replies, “Just take it. I got it for free, and I don’t need it.”

 

“I… I am forever in your debt.” Kaminari grabs Bakugou’s hand and starts emitting sparkles from every inch of his body. “The soul and body of this loyal servant belongs to you now…”

 

“Stop making it sound so fucking suggestive!”

 

Katsuki presses the tip of his fingers to his forehead and sighs: this is the kind of bullshit he has to deal with every day. Even worse, the bullshit multiplies with every new idiot that joins in the conversation.

 

“These were all prizes from some dumb gacha. I already got what I wanted, so you all can have the rest.”

 

At this point, it was hard to resist not showing off the golden prize, and in mint condition for its age too -- having only been printed ten years ago, this foil card was a one and only rarity special from a special event happening in Akihabara… Katsuki is still in awe that he was able to get his hands on this. Maybe he’ll frame it up to preserve its condition.

 

Like showing off a card trick, Katsuki appears to pull the card out of thin air. The peanut gallery that is his class, however, does nothing but stare at it in confusion.

 

Kirishima points to the card. “Uh,” he starts, “I never took you for the trading card collector type, Bakugou. Is this… supposed to be rare or something?

 

“RARE?” Katsuki splutters. “ONLY RARE?”

 

Katsuki wants to take Kirishima by the fucking shoulders and scream to him how rare — only rare? This is a one-of-a-kind product and he dares to call it rare?! — this card is, and if he doesn't recognise it's value he can take rare and shove it up his ass, but that would take too long to explain. So Katsuki just keeps quiet, simmering in rage and juuuuust the tiniest littlest bit wounded.

 

But—

 

He forgets—

 

A big gust of wind envelopes the inside of the dorm as Midoriya fucking Izuku nyooms across the end of the dorm to stand in front of Katsuki.

 

—That the nerd increases the idiocy of the room exponentially.

 

“AaaaAAAAaaAhhHDAHADSAJKLH KACCHANNN! H-H-H-HOW DID YOU GET THAT??!??”

 

“Ah? You were discharged from the hospital? This card is mine . I’ve got my eye on you, if you so much as touch it, I will tear you into pieces and—”

 

“I-I’m not going to steal it! That’s preposterous, Kacchan! I just want to look at it! That’s all!”

 

Katsuki gives Deku look that says, ‘Really?’, but after giving him a long look, hands him the card. Deku receives the card gingerly, looking at wondrously upon the holy item like he is looking upon the sacred texts of the autobiography of All Might. Katsuki himself has a copy, but he would rather die than admit it to anyone.

 

“Ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod I’m holding it, I’m holding it, the only card that I don’t have in my Hero trading card collection, and I can’t believe I’m holding it, look how shiny the foil is for its age! The good condition that this card is in! The art of All Might wearing his Silver Age costume, equipped with support items! And the unique misprint of the points in the top right corner of the card, adding on to the fact that it’s the only SSR Plat card ever to be printed in existence… I estimate collectors would pay a hundred million yen for this —No, even more, aaaaarrghh, it may as well be priceless!”

 

Beside him, Iida peers over his shoulder, saying, “I don’t really get it but good for you, Midoriya-kun!”

 

“And you say you won it off a gacha?!” Kirishima exclaims. Oh, so it took him a nerd to finally understand how rare this card was?

 

Katsuki shrugs. “The owner musta not liked All Might.”

 

Deku gives back the card with an expression akin to one of pure sorrow at having to part with their lover. Disregarding the visible commotion his return to the dorms brought, Katsuki yawns.

 

“I’m going to sleep.”

 

“Huuuh? But it’s still early, you screeching owl-lark!”

 

“Continue coining new words and you’ll create enough to sell your own dictionary. At that time, I’ll buy one just to smack your stupid brain with until it rattles in that empty skull of yours.” Katsuki returns Kaminari’s complaint with a snappy rejoinder, which he smugly rates as an ‘average’ on the scale of Bakugou-Katsuki savage remarks he has ever come up with. Katsuki silently applauds himself.

 

Shopping, eating lunch, more shopping, competing in a cat cafe, more shopping, then having to apprehend a robber, then handing over said robber to a strangely-acting butler of the cafe that was almost robbed because they didn’t want to deal with paperwork and legalities… Katsuki was ready to end this day already.

 

He is heading to sleep when his phone rings; it is from Camie. He picks it up, irritated that she is reducing his sleep time yet again. Maybe from now on he should turn off his phone before he sleeps, Katsuki muses.

 

“What.”

 

“Whelp, today was fun, wasn’t it?”

 

“If dealing with villains is your idea of fun, there must be something wrong with your head. You should go get it checked up tomorrow.”

 

“Whaat? I found it mega-loads of fun.”

 

“You were flirting with the butler while I was tying up the villain.”

 

“Yeah, but didya see him? He was hot . And dark. Brooding. Mysterious. And did I mention hot? All good qualities in a handsome guy I’d wanna date, like, f’real. In fact, he was so hot, he was emitting heat waves visible from ten metres away. …Not that you would know, since you were tying up the villain.”

 

“You… Would it have killed you to flirt with the butler after we handed the villain over to the police?”

 

“Sorry, not sorry,” Camie chants. “After you tossed him over, you said, quote, ‘Let’s fucking go already’ unquote, remember?” She sighs. “And I wanted to talk to him more…”

 

Is— is she really doing this to him.

 

“You really shoulda seen him, fam.”

 

“What- He can’t be that hot .”

 

“Is too.”

 

“Is not.”

 

“Is— wait, you wouldn’t know until you see him anyway, since our standards are different.”

 

“Oh yeah? Between Todoroki and him, who is more handsome, hunh ?”

 

The line goes silent, and for a moment Katsuki thinks that the line was accidentally cut, but nope, when he looks at the screen the call is still ongoing.

 

“Well?” He demands.

 

“...I’d say about the same.”

 

“Hah!”

 

Though…

 

“...Well, I will concede, the icicle prince bastard will definitely lose to him in terms of common sense. Todoroki doesn’t even know how to cook.”

 

“Ehh…” Camie makes a noise of skepticism.

 

“What.”

 

“No, it’s nothing~”

 

“What? You got something to say, just say it.”

 

“No, no, it’s really nothing.”

 

There is silence for a while as Katsuki thinks of how to phrase his next words.

 

“Well… if I had to say it… Today wasn’t so bad. It was…” And here Katsuki mutters the last word as if in great reluctance, “... fun.”

 

“Right, gotcha. Yep, if you had fun too, I’m totally glad! Y’see, the other day hottie boy mentioned that you were feeling stressed out recently. Those pent up hormones have gotta go somewhere, right?”

 

Are you implying— no, no, I’m too tired to even go there. Good night.”

 

“Nite, Bakugou! Let’s go out again sometime, okies?”

 

The line beeps as she hangs up, leaving Katsuki to drop the phone and stare at his ceiling. His last thoughts before he drifts off are mushy and suspiciously leaning towards to what Camie would call ‘feelings’.

 

Camie? Worried about him? What a laughable matter. But maybe Camie waking him up at three thirty in the morning wasn’t such a bad thing… after all…


This last thought of his comes back to bite him the next day.




He wakes up because he can feel a heavy weight pressing down on his body, what the fuck—

 

Karma was a fucking bitch.

 

It was as if the devil had read his thoughts and decided that yes, Katsuki likes being woken up in the early morning, let me grant your wish and poof—

 

Todoroki Shouto was straddling him in his bed at 3 am in the morning.



-3:00-

 

The bright digits on Katsuki’s clock reveal to him one thing: It is an ungodly hour to be awake. Ergo, he must be in a dream.

 

Yup.

 

Katsuki blinks once, blinks twice and presses his palms to Todoroki’s chest.

 

Hm. Solid, just like what he thinks Todoroki’s chest would ever feel like if he touched it. Seems real enough.

 

Wait-

 

“W-WHAT THE FUCK??!??” Katsuki screeches, pushing Todoroki away from him.

 

Todoroki, however, is prepared for this (WHY?!? Katsuki’s mind screams) and regains his balance quickly. Todoroki lunges forward again, probably aiming to pin down his arms but one good thing Katsuki has learnt from his internship is going from sleep mode to battle mode real fuckin’ speedy; Katsuki hooks his legs onto Todoroki’s body and knocks aside his hands, grabbing his shoulders and with a thump, Todoroki lands on the bed under Bakugou.

 

Katsuki claps Todoroki’s cheeks together and almost regrets it because of how his lips pucker when Katsuki does that. Well, it’s a step up from initial thought process of wanting to grab his neck and wring it, his mind supplies, along with, You wanna grab him in other places, don’t you?

 

Katsuki ignores that part of his mind. Vehemently.

 

“Okay, asshole,” Katsuki leans in and hisses. He locks eyes with Todoroki, who is just lying down and looking at him silently. His face is inscrutable - no shit, it’s night, and the room is dark. “What the fuckity fuck gives- GUH!”

 

Todoroki headbutts him in the fucking chin , of all things, and Katsuki blacks out.


Katsuki wakes up to a heavy weight pressing down on his body, and a massive headache. “Ugh…”

 

Fuck Todoroki. No wait, don’t fuck him, dammit. Never fuck Todoroki. Bad.

 

“Are you all right?” Todoroki leans forward and stares into Bakugou’s eyes. Personal space, you ass, Katsuki thinks faintly. What does come out of his mouth is more straightforward and to the point, “Get off me.”

 

“Do you forfeit?”

“Forfeit what?

 

“Uh…”

 

Todoroki is nonplussed and at the same time looking like a child charged guilty of taking sweets from a jar.

 

“The fight we were having?” He tries.

 

“WHO CREEPS INTO OTHER PEOPLE’S ROOMS TO FIGHT AT THREE AM IN THE MORNING?!”

 

“Bakugou… you’re too loud… you’ll wake the others up.”

 

“LIKE YOU’RE ONE TO TALK!”

 

Yeah, Katsuki is definitely more awake now. Combined with the headache that Todoroki just gave him, literally and metaphorically speaking, as well as the lack of sleep from the day before, Katsuki is really pissed. “You wake me up in the middle of the night, then knock me out, and then scold me for waking others up?”

 

(Anyway, the dorm rooms are all top quality stuff; they are totally soundproof so they can make as much noise in Katsuki’s room as they want to and no one will be able to hear.)

 

(...Katsuki gives that lecherous part of his brain a good, hard mental slap.)

 

“Bakugou…” Todoroki leans forward and -personal space, dammit- his lips brush part Katsuki’s ear and his spine gives an involuntary shiver. “I need your help.”



-A few hours ago-

 

“I’m back.” Shouto says as he enters the dormitory, shutting the entrance door behind him.

 

“Oh! Welcome back, Todoroki-kun! Have you eaten dinner?” Uraraka runs to greet him.

 

“Ah, yes.” He takes off his shoes and socks at the entryway, rolling his shoulders to relieve the tension in his weary muscles. One of his coworkers had to take a sudden extended leave, so the lack of staff meant more work today.

 

Uraraka offers him a box of sweets. “Want one? Bakugou-kun brought some back from his trip to Shinjuku.”

 

The packaging is familiar — Shouto immediately recognises it as the logo of that cat cafe. The cat paw-shaped sweets, too — Ouka had offered him one earlier that day.

 

“Hmm…” Shouto pops a sweet into his mouth and bites into it. The caramel inside spills out and fills his mouth. “It’s delicious. Thanks.”

 

“Eheheh, you can thank Bakugou-kun.”

 

They walk to the living room, where they are met with utter chaos.

 

Midoriya’s body is lying collapsed on the floor. Iida is crouching beside him and shaking him by the shoulders. “Come back to us, Midoriya-kunnn!” Kirishima is waving his hand over Midoriya’s glazed eyes, calling, “Earth to Midoriya! Are you okay? ...Dude, he’s out cold!” Mineta, Ojiro and Shouji are also crowding around him. The way his classmates surround Midoriya in a circle is as if they are performing—

 

“...A seance?” Shouto mutters.

 

“Uh, Todoroki-kun, Deku-kun’s not dead…”

 

“WHO LET THE PS7 CONTROLLERS RUN OUT OF BATTERY AND NOT CHARGE IT?!?” Kaminari yells.

 

And Sero yells back: “CHARGE IT WITH YOUR QUIRK, DUH!”

 

And then Jirou pitches in with a: “KEEP QUIET! WE’RE TRYING TO LISTEN TO A MUSIC VIDEO HERE!” She, Kouda, Hagakure are sitting comfortably on the living room’s sofa, headphones plugged into the computer on Jirou’s lap.

 

Satou is in the kitchen area, cooking with Yaoyorozu, Asui and Aoyama.

 

“Hey! Yaoyorozu, you have to wash the eggs before you crack them!”

 

“Aoyama-chan, polishing the cooking utensils would make it unfit for use.”

 

Tokoyami is just watching the chaos from afar, muttering something about ‘pandemonium’ and ‘darkness’.

 

“...Everyone’s pretty lively as usual.” Shouto remarks, walking up Satou. “What are you making?”

 

“Ey, Todoroki! Welcome back!” “Todoroki-san!” “Todoroki-chan.” “Welcome back. ☆” His classmates greet him.

 

“We’re making cat cookies and apple pie.” Satou explains as he and Asui cut cookie dough into the shape of cat faces. Shouto is fascinated.

 

“Why are the cookies cat-shaped? Is it some kind of special event?”

 

“Ah, Bakugou-san gave us a bag of cat-shaped sweets and it was delicious! Satou-san was inspired to make cookies for us all, so I helped him by using my Quirk to make cookie cutters!”

 

“Aoyama-chan and I thought we should lend a hand, since it's for everyone after all, croak.”

 

“Yaoyorozu, here,” Satou hands her a toothbrush -a toothbrush?- “Scrub the ends of the apples — here, at the indent at the stem and the the bottom, see?”

 

“You— you need to scrub apples before eating them?” Shouto thinks out aloud. “I see.”

 

“Well duh! Gotta make sure there's no pesticide sticking to the apples before you can cut and eat them.” Satou replies, waving a cat-shaped cookie cutter non-threateningly at Shouto.

 

“I see…” Shouto’s face lights up with a sudden revelation. “Then I suppose using toothpaste would double its effectiveness?”

 

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE. You just said some scary-sounding things in that sentence there. You’re banned from the kitchen, Todoroki.”

 

“Ah, speaking of cooking… Today my co- ah no, my friend told me I should learn how to cook omurice. I was wondering if you could teach me.” Shouto bowed his head.

 

Satou narrows his eyes at Shouto.

 

“Todoroki.”

 

Shouto knows that there is no way Satou knows , but still, the look in his eyes makes him pause. Did Bakugou tell them? No, there was no sign that he had recognised Shouto…  

 

“Are you… Could you be…”

 

Shouto keeps his face blank of emotion. A single bead of sweat drips down his temple.

 

“Trying to learn how to cook ?!”

 

“Eh?” Shouto is genuinely taken aback. That was… not what he was expecting Satou to say. “Is there something wrong with that?”

 

Satou crosses his arms in a X shape. “Uh, yeah, no. Nope. Nada. We’re not letting you into the kitchen, period. The last time we let you into the kitchen, you tried to microwave an egg. And it turned out to be bad. I was scrubbing out its remains for days before I could get rid of the smell.”

 

“It was my first time seeing an egg explode, croak.” Asui comments, putting a finger to her chin in deep thought.

 

“Let’s face it, Todoroki. Bad luck follows you when you’re in the kitchen. Before that you put a pizza still covered in aluminium foil into the microwave. There were green sparks, man. Green sparks.” Satou waves his hands in exaggerated motions. “Part of it is because you’re bad at cooking, but some of the stuff that happens in the kitchen when you’re around are just plain supernatural.”

 

“Come to think of it… there was that time Todoroki-san was washing vegetables for the class camping trip and found maggots on them.” Yaoyorozu pipes up.

 

Shouto shoots her a mournful look. Traitor. As a close friend of his, shouldn’t she be on his side?

 

“Dude, a week ago you were helping Yaomomo to brew tea and discovered too late that salt was added to the infusion and not sugar.” Ashido pops out of nowhere and adds in her two bits to the conversation. As an afterthought, she adds, “...Though that may have been a prank on the behalf of Kaminari. But there’s still the Konnyaku Jelly Incident, the strangely-coloured salmon, the malfunctioning electric mixer, the bugs in the rice…” She starts listing them down on her fingers.

 

Shot down by all these accusations, Shouto is left with no defense. He himself came up with the theory after all.

 

“The Curse of the Kitchen Destroyer,” Shouto mutters unhappily. “Will there ever be a day when I will be rid of it?”

 

“Todoroki-san, are you… are you sulking?” Yaoyorozu asks with a small smile on her face.

 

“No.” Shouto replies, sulking. “Never mind. I’ll find another way…”

 

“WAIT! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO, TODOROKI?!? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! DON’T JUST WALK AWAY CALMLY AFTER SAYING SUCH OMINOUS WORDS!!!”



 

Todoroki Shouto is an asshole.

 

This is a fact.

 

A conclusion Bakugou Katsuki has come to after a year of being in the same class as him.

 

On a first glance, his interactions with others are clumsy, awkward, and often missing the point. Sometimes it is as if he is on a different wavelength compared to his conversation partner. This gives people the feeling of talking to an innocent child that they must love and protect at all costs.

 

“... And that's the situation.”

 

Katsuki really wishes he can go up to those people right now, holding Todoroki by the scruff of his neck for all to see, and scream, “HOW THE HELL DID YOU CONJECTURE ALL THAT??!”

 

“You woke me up to cook.” Katsuki replies flatly. “At three in the morning.”

 

“Satou and the rest won't let me cook, you see. So I can only turn to you.”

 

“The hell makes you think I won't say no?”

 

“You never back down from a challenge. Wouldn't you succeeding in teaching me how to cook be a great accomplishment in itself? You'd also be able to rub it in my face how bad I am at cooking compared to you at the same time.”

 

Katsuki reiterates:

 

Todoroki Shouto is an asshole.

 

Specifically, a scheming, manipulative and stubborn asshole. Once he decides to believe in something, no one can change his mind -- he will defend his stand until the end of time, with his dying breath.

 

For example, the belief that [Todoroki Shouto can cook if he tries].

 

Katsuki has blessedly never seen the Misfortune™ of Todoroki Shouto in action but he has heard things. Every time Todoroki’s cooking prowess is brought up it is accompanied by shudders from his classmates, and Katsuki would lying if he said he wasn’t curious to see him in the kitchen.

 

Also, Todoroki is absol-fucking-lutely correct to say Katsuki never gives up an opportunity to show him up. Katsuki is irritated at how easily Todoroki is playing him like a fiddle, but for now he’ll play along with Todoroki.

 

…Thinking about the word ‘play’ while Todoroki is straddling him in bed, nonetheless, may not be the best idea in the world.

 

“Kitchen. Two minutes.” Katsuki grunts. He is thankful for the dark; Todoroki cannot see the colour blooming in his cheeks when his face is obscured by the inky blackness of the night.

 

That does not stop Katsuki from seeing the shoujo manga-esque sparkles emitting from Todoroki as the boy grabs his hands and says, “Thanks. I owe you one.”

 

I have ideas on how you can pay me back. Katsuki’s inner voice suggests. Said voice also makes a noise of disappointment as Todoroki climbs off him.

 

“Then, I'll head there first and prepare the ingredients.” Todoroki says, and walks out to the balcony.

 

Wait.

 

The balcony?

 

“You fucker—”

 

Katsuki leaps out of bed and rushes towards the open sliding door. The balcony is empty — the half-and-half bastard is probably already entering his room from the balcony, which is right above Katsuki’s.

 

The bastard used his ice to creep under the cracks and unlock Katsuki’s door from the inside. Fortunately for Todoroki, the doors and the lock are left intact — were they in a worse state, Katsuki would not hesitate to obliterate him.

 

Still, Bakugou is this close to hitting him, index and thumb touching like that one meme Kaminari likes to quote as being ‘perfect for him’, because the lock is cold to the touch, and there are puddles of water soaking the floor.

 

Chapter Text

“Hey fam, do you have a plan in mind?” Camie shouts.

 

“Does it look like I have a plan?” Katsuki shouts back.

 

Katsuki and Camie, all tired out from the day, were about to call it a day and head back home. Of course , a stupid villain decides to ruin their plans by choosing today to rob a cafe.

 

Brilliant.

 

We’re just going to buy a drink and head back, Camie says. It’s not like there will be an idiot holding a waitress at knifepoint in the cafe, Katsuki retorts.

 

Apparently the villain had burst into the cafe in broad daylight , taking a waitress hostage and brandishing a knife at her throat, yelling for the other waiter to give him all their money. And it just so happened that a few moments later, Camie and Katsuki walked into the cafe all because Camie wanted a fucking latte.

 

Upon seeing them, he had panicked, shoving the unhurt but shaken waitress at them. The waitress collided into Camie, who fell onto Katsuki like a domino effect.

 

That caused a lot of confusion and distracted them — yes, Katsuki would think one would get distracted if they were used as a human airbag — and the villain used that window of opportunity to book it.

 

And here they are at the present, chasing after the villain. Because hero work and all.

 

And somehow Camie is able to keep pace with Katsuki in those infuriating kitten heels .

 

That girl is inhuman.

 

Katsuki grins at prospect of the thrill of the chase, setting off small explosions from his hands. “Yeah, I have a plan all right. We beat and explode that asshole into oblivion!” He snarls.

 

Camie whistles. “Nice and straightforward, I see! But do you happen to have a clearer plan of attack?”

 

“I have a plan. Attack!”

 

Katsuki surges forward with consecutive blasts from his hands, barging past Camie as they turn into a deserted alley — finally, somewhere out of public sight — and Katsuki activates his Quirk to blast over the villain. He does a somersault midair and lands in front of the shithead, causing him to skid to a halt in front of Katsuki. Behind the villain, Camie, having predicted and dodged Katsuki’s blast, stays at the entrance of the alley to cut off his escape route.

 

“Hey, asshole! On the account of assault and battery I'm gonna take you in and blast you to pieces! I have a provisional license, so get ready to be killed!” Katsuki yells, and blasts straight into the villain. The villain does an about turn and at the sight of Camie, hesitates, before dashing straight towards her.

 

Shit. Katsuki increases his firepower and catches up with the villain, grabbing him by his clothes and spinning him around by using his other hand to set off explosions as a booster. He lets go, and the villain lands heavily in a nearby dumpster with a groan.

 

Katsuki dashes forward, ready to deal the finishing blow but before he can there is the sound of an explosion — not his — and a reddish gas cloud is released from the villain’s skin.

 

“A gas Quirk, huh!” Katsuki snarls. He instinctively ducks down and feels the rush of air above his head as the villain swipes at him but misses.

 

Crouching on all fours on the ground, Katsuki closes his eyes and stops his breathing. Estimating the general direction of the villain, he lunges upward, swinging his right fist until it connects with a satisfying thud of flesh against flesh and a pained cry.

 

Then, just to be sure, he adds a roundhouse kick. There is a ‘oof’, but a hand scrabbles for his leg and Katsuki is forced to back off.

 

Just die already, dammit.

 

Away from the gas, Katsuki releases the breath he is holding in and opens his (slightly stinging) eyes. Pepper gas?

 

“Tch.” Katsuki says, breathing deeply to flush out any traces of the gas in his system. “That's illegal Quirk usage, you dumbfuck. One more crime to add to your record.”

 

The villain has his back against the wall of the alley, but he is making no effort to run away. He is staring at Katsuki with shock. No, not at Katsuki — at the sight behind him.

 

Katsuki clicks his tongue in disapproval.

 

The sound of claws clicking against concrete grows louder.

 

Centipedes, spiders and other insects crawl past Katsuki like a flood, avoiding his feet like the parting of a curtain. A cloud of flying insects swarm past Katsuki, their wings buzzing and scraping hollowly. Beetles and scorpions crawl down from the wall behind the villain, making clicking sounds. All head straight for the villain.

 

The insects surround him on all sides.

 

Shimensoka (四面楚歌): a fortress besieged on all four sides, with nowhere to escape.

 

Katsuki watches him faint just as the first cockroach climbs up his shoe. The insects disappear into thin air shortly after. He approaches the man carefully, and slaps his cheek roughly.

 

Out cold.

 

He pats the man down for any offending objects  — courtesy of his hero mentor’s training — and tosses several other kitchen knives, a toy gun, and a can of pepper spray into the dumpster. Eh, Katsuki has seen weirder things.

 

Then, dragging the man by the collar, he turns to shout at Camie, only to find someone else talking to her.

 

It is a teenage man with messy black hair and his bangs covering the left side of his face. He is dressed like a waiter — wearing a white shirt with a black vest and black pants. Around his neck is a gold chain that looks like something a yakuza member would wear.

 

Overall, he looks like a really bad cosplayer.

 

Well, Katsuki doesn’t care.

 

He walks up to Camie and chops her on the head, hard .

 

“Owie.”

 

Then, taking a deep breath, he yells, “YOU IDIOT!!!” His yell echoes down the alley. “Why did you use your Quirk, dumbass! I had it under control!”

 

“Huh? I thought you would appreciate the assist.”

 

Katsuki can feel the veins in his temple popping. “ASSIST?! ASSIST?! YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A LICENSE YET AND YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT ASSISTING OTHERS?! AND WE HAVE A WITNESS! DO YOU WANT TO GET ARRESTED??!”

 

“... ah. Rite.”

 

“DON’T JUST SAY ‘ah, rite’!!”

 

Unlicensed and unsupervised (supervision meaning in the presence of a pro hero) use of a Quirk by a minor, albeit in self defense is a tricky territory to deal with. Under normal circumstances, Camie would be arrested and put under questioning for going against normal Quirk regulations. If they were alone, Katsuki could just claim that he took on the villain by himself, and if the villain testified otherwise, he can always claim that the villain was dizzy from taking a hit to the head.

 

The problem lay with the witness. What the hell was the waiter even doing here anyway?! Why did he even chase after them?! It would be nice and dandy if they could just say Katsuki dealt with it, but contradictory testimonies would dig themselves a larger grave.

 

All this would have been avoided if Katsuki has been faster in apprehending him, dammit, he had tried to quicken his pace but Camie just had to butt in. Well, all this would be solved it the waiter just disappeared.

 

In other words…

 

Katsuki places a hand on the waiter’s shoulder and activates his Quirk. Smoke drifts away from his fingers as Katsuki makes sure to slightly char the uniform — it is a black vest and burn marks will not be visible so he has a bit of liberty here.

 

Then, forcing a ‘friendly’ smile, Katsuki leans in and says in a low voice, “Hey. Nothing happened here, capische? You arrived in the alley just as the villain tripped on his own two feet and knocked himself unconscious. Say anything else,” he pauses to let the burning smell intensify and widens his grin, “and I'll kill you.”

 

“Wow, you sound just like the yakuza.” Camie comments.

 

“If anyone is a criminal here, it's you .” Katsuki quickly dumps the unconscious villain into the stunned waiter’s arms and grabs Camie’s arm. “RUN.”




…Miraculously, the prizes they won from the cat cafe were unharmed. (The All Might SSR Platinum Trading Card less miraculously so; the moment Katsuki was handed the card he sealed it in a waterproof ziplock bag and carefully placed it between the pages of a book in his bag.)




Back to the present.

 

When Katsuki gets to the ground floor, he is met with a really amazing aura.

 

Todoroki is already at the kitchen island, struggling to chop a cucumber.

 

As a seasoned cook in the kitchen, seeing Todoroki’s cooking posture ticks Katsuki off.

 

First of all, the cucumber’s ends need to be removed because they are inedible.

 

Second, when he cuts the cucumber, his knife is angled almost parallel to the chopping board— wait—

 

“You dumb fuck, that's dangero—HEY!” Katsuki breaks off as Todoroki forcefully slices through the cucumber, and the knife, unhindered, swings in an arc towards Katsuki, who leans back just in time to see a flash of silver miss his stomach by mere inches.

 

That… that was too close. His guts almost spilled out like a samurai performing the harakiri .

 

“... …” Katsuki and Todoroki both stare at each other.

 

“... Bakugou.” Todoroki nods towards Katsuki as a simple greeting, as if he did not just fail to disembowel Katsuki.

 

“You bastard…” Katsuki grabs the collar of Todoroki shirt and pulls him closer. “ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME??!!”

 

“...Sorry. I'll… try harder next time.”

 

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN, TRY HARDER?! YOU’RE LUCKY IT WAS ME, YOU SHITHEAD, IF IT WAS ANYONE ELSE THERE WOULDN’T BE A NEXT TIME!!”

 

First Camie, now Todoroki. Is he destined to be forever surrounded by people with no common sense?! He already has his arms full with Kirishima and the others, dammit. And Deku — Deku is as far away from common sense as he is from the moon, what with his easy willingness to break his arms and legs to save someone. Saving someone is good , sure, but Deku’s way of doing things is just… stupid.

 

Katsuki grabs the knife from Todoroki — what a fucking hazard that was — and pushes him aside. “Here. Watch.

 

“You’re supposed to angle the knife perpendicular to the fucking chopping board, and cut — like this.” He cuts through the cucumber with a clear ‘thock’ sound; the sound of the iron striking the wooden chopping board resonates throughout the dorm.

 

“... Ah!” Todoroki’s eyes open wide with the sudden revelation.

 

It was at this point that Katsuki knew.

 

Todoroki Shouto was, without a doubt, utterly and truly useless at cooking.




Utter despair.

 

Katsuki feels it burning within him, a flame burning brighter and higher.

 

What was this feeling?

 

Katsuki knows it intimately.

 

The feel of adrenaline flowing through his veins, the thrumming of his heartbeat, the feeling of the air moving past him as slowly as honey.

 

Yes, this is—

 

The thrill of a challenge.

 

It has been a while since Katsuki was presented with such a wonderfully impossible obstacle to overcome.

 

Todoroki Shouto cannot cook.

 

To overturn this immovable fact of life, this irrefutable statement, how far will Bakugou Katsuki push himself?

 

Todoroki was right.

 

Katsuki hates backing down from a challenge.

 

How else would one measure one’s own strength?

 

Katsuki was going to find out.

 

“Todoroki…” Katsuki says, all fired up from the challenge issued, “If you (and your shitty cooking skills) intend to win then I'll kill you!”





Bakugou’s words confuse Shouto. Why did he suddenly declare war out of nowhere?

 

“Eh?”

 

“Forget about cooking, we’re starting at the basics.” Bakugou growls, snatching the carton of eggs on the counter and preparing to put them back in the fridge.

 

“No-no, wait,” Shouto stands in front of the fridge, blocking Bakugou. “What about the omurice?”

 

“Can you even crack an egg?” Bakugou demands.

 

“Of course I can!” Shouto replies, vexed.

 

…Well, theoretically so. But Shouto does not say this out loud. All he needs to do is break the shell, right? In this area, Shouto is confident of his abilities.

 

After all, he ranked second their class’ last physical examination.

 

Shouto grips the egg in his left hand, pouring force into his hand and willing the egg to break. He stares hard at the egg in his clenched hand, his face pinched in concentration.

 

Nothing happens.

 

“See?” Bakugou says, snorting. “You don’t even know to crack an egg open.”

 

Shouto chews his lip. “...Maybe I’m not using enough force?” He holds out his right hand and covers it in ice.

 

“Huh? …Oi, Todoroki, what are you— hold on a second, are you trying to crush the egg?”

 

Shouto switches the egg to his right hand. Not looking up at Katsuki, he grunts with effort, “Is that not — how you crack open — an egg?”

 

“HELL N—”

 

CRACK.

 

Both yolk and clear egg white leak from Shouto’s hand.

 

“... Ah.”

 

He forgot to grab a bowl first.

 

As if reading his thoughts, Bakugou yells, “THAT’S NOT THE PROBLEM HERE, YOU IDIOT!”

 

He grabs Shouto’s hands before the mess can drip to the floor, growling, “You fu— How the fuck can you be so clueless!”

 

At this point Shouto is not listening anymore, too aware of the warmth of Bakugou’s hands on his. He has fantasised about Bakugou holding his hands before, sure, but none of them featured Bakugou shouting at him while hustling him to the sink. In a way, it is nice.

 

It is at this thought that Shouto’s left sleeve catches on fire.

 

“HEY!”




“... Sorry.” Shouto mutters. He is washing his hands with Bakugou at the sink, after that embarrassing incident which resulted in a burnt-off sleeve, leaving Shouto’s left shoulder bare.

 

“Tch.” Bakugou scoffs. “Can't handle a knife, can't crack an egg, let me guess, the next thing you're going to tell me is that you wash food with washing detergent.”

 

“...”

 

“...I was right?”

 

“...I'll be in your care.”

 

Bakugou lets out a world-weary sigh.



“Okay.” Bakugou shoves the bag of bread in Shouto’s hands. “We’re starting from the basics of the basics. No cooking. No one can possibly screw this up.” Bakugou pauses for a moment, before adding, “Under my supervision, that is, no one can possibly screw up.”

 

“You said it twice.”

 

“Did I fucking stutter?” Bakugou says. “For the rest of today, you'll be learning how to make a sandwich. Preparing food by hand shouldn't be too difficult. By the way, you-” Bakugou points at Shouto, lip jutting out, “— are banned from using the kitchen without my supervision.”

 

“...Ok.” Shouto replies immediately. That is a small price to pay for learning from a master, when he originally could not find one to teach him.

 

Hm.

 

“...Bakugou-sensei?” Shouto tests the name out on his tongue.

 

“Aaaaaah? Say that one more time and I'll rip out your tongue and mince it into pieces.”

 

“Bakugou-sensei.”

 

“DAMMIT.” Bakugou points the knife he was washing at Shouto, who smiles and backs off.

 

Bakugou hands Shouto a cucumber grumpily. “First. Washing the ingredients.” He waves the cucumber that Shouto was originally trying to cut in his hands. “Rinse. Do not think of using detergent.”

 

Bakugou turns around as if having thought of something. “The hell were you doing, cutting a cucumber anyway?”

 

“Don't you like cucumber sticks? I often see you munching on them while you study in the common room… I was thinking of preparing some for you in exchange for cooking lessons.”

 

Bakugou snorts. “Well, you sure did a great job cutting it. Next, I'll take out the ham out of the freezer to defrost.”

 

Bakugou takes the packet of sliced, frozen ham that Kirishima bought just yesterday out of the freezer, and puts it in a bowl. Then, he fills the bowl with tap water from the kitchen sink, filling half of the bowl with water.

 

“The butter needs to be taken out of the fridge to melt for a while so it is easier to spread.”

 

Bakugou slams the box of butter onto the kitchen counter, and takes out a plate and a butter knife.

 

“Then, while we're waiting for them to melt, let's see your chopping skills.” Bakugou points to the Shouto’s still-whole cucumber on the chopping board.

 

“Hold your knife like this.” Bakugou grabs Shouto’s right wrist and places the knife’s grip in his hand, adjusting it with his other hand.

 

Shouto swallows inaudibly. Bakugou’s hand is warm, and a little rough. He stares at the back of Bakugou’s hand, and for a moment wonders what it would feel like if he intertwined his hand with Bakugou’s; not palm to palm, but one in front of the other, like a sudden embrace from behind.

 

“Hey, bastard, don’t space out!” Bakugou shouts, bringing Shouto back. He hurriedly brings down the knife, neatly chopping the cucumber in two. With Bakugou’s guiding hand, they slowly chop the cucumber into circles of even width, something Shouto would never have achieved on his own.

 

“Good. Next!” Bakugou barks, chucking a plastic container at Shouto. “Put the slices of cucumber that you don't need in the box and leave it in the fridge.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Then sit down and butter the bread.” Bakugou carves out a slab of soft butter, puts it in a small dish and puts the rest back in the fridge.

 

Shouto takes a knife and follows Bakugou, spreading the butter with his knife. The butter, however, is not soft enough; and instead of a smooth spread he gets uneven lumps of butter on the bread.

 

Shouto looks over to Bakugou and frowns. “How is yours so smooth?”

 

Bakugou smirks, and, not pausing, says, “Your lumps of butter are too big. You have to carve out only a small sliver of the butter; then it'll be thin enough to spread.”

 

Shouto hums, unconvinced, and tries to imitate Bakugou’s actions, but with limited success.

 

…Okay, more like zero success. Beep beep. Shouto imagines a buzzer going on in his head. You fail.

 

Annoyed, Shouto surreptitiously glances at Bakugou, who is busy chopping up the other cucumber that Shouto had failed to chop. While he is distracted, Shouto discreetly uses his left hand to heat up his knife. He uses the knife to melt the butter to achieve a texture similar to Bakugou’s. Then, he nudges Bakugou.

 

Bakugou checks his bread and nods his head in approval. Shouto exhales in relief.

 

He then takes out the defrosted ham and puts it on his bread, followed by cucumbers. “Here, like this. You can add cheese slices, tomatoes and lettuce or whatever you want. Then slap on a slice of bread, and done.” He squeezes a bottle of sauce on his bread and completes the sandwich with another slice of bread on top.

 

Bakugou bites into his ham sandwich and chews. After a while, he swallows, then nods his head. “Now you try.”

 

Shouto follows Bakugou’s steps and examines his handiwork. The bread is battered from Shouto’s attempts to spread the lumpy butter, leaving it uneven compared to Bakugou’s perfect-looking sandwich, and the cucumber is layered on top of each other, making his sandwich a little hard to hold without the cucumbers falling out.

 

Well, there’s always room for improvement , Shouto thinks and bites into the sandwich.

 

“Mm…” The crunchiness of the cucumber, mixed with the creamy texture of the butter and smoothness of the cold ham bursts into flavour in his mouth. “It's good…”

 

“Hmph. The whole process was supervised by me so of course it would taste good.” Bakugou says. “The next time you make it, you'll aim for perfection. Not,” Bakugou sniffs, “That you'll be able to beat me.”

 

“Whatever you say, Bakugou- sensei .”

 

You bastard —” “Kacchan?! And Todoroki-kun?!”

 

Shouto turns to see Midoriya dressed in sportswear gaping at them. His right hand lets go of the sports bag he was holding, and it lands on the floor with an audible ‘thump’.

 

“Midoriya.” Shouto greets him. “Perfect timing. Come here.” Shouto beckons to Midoriya and he walks to them with a big question mark floating above his head. Bakugou glares at Midoriya but does not say anything as he approaches.

 

“Here.” Shouto pushes his plate towards Midoriya. “Take a bite.”

 

“Uhhh…?” Midoriya looks down at the already bitten sandwich, then looks up at Shouto. Even more question marks pop up above his head.

 

“...I made it, so I want to get a second opinion on how it tastes.” Shouto supplements.

 

Midoriya blanches.

 

“Uh…”

 

Shouto tilts his head. “Midoriya? What's wrong?”

 

“Uhhhhhhh…”

 

Shouto has a front seat ticket to seeing the blood drain from Midoriya’s face, leaving him paler than Shouto’s white hair.  In fact, he looks almost close to fainting.

 

Is he ill?

 

“Midoriya!”

 

Shouto worriedly rushes over to Midoriya, putting a hand on his forehead.

 

Then it happened.

 

Shouto hears a small, high pitched sound coming from behind him.

 

Shouto has heard this sound before. It has been one year, he recalls, since he has heard it. But this time, it is not stifled, growing louder and wilder like a caged bird set free.

 

Shouto turns around and ingrains the glorious sight of Bakugou laughing into his mind.

 

God, Deku,” Bakugou says, doubling over in fits of laughter, “I've never seen you this frightened before!”

 

Midoriya pouts. “Don't so mean, Kacchan! You'd be scared too!”

 

“HA! I personally supervised Todoroki while he made it, so you won't die! ...Probaby!”

 

Ah, Shouto thinks, they're talking about my cooking.

 

“Well… if you say so, Kacchan…” Midoriya takes the sandwich and examines it as if looking for any irregularities —  to be fair, the last time Shouto made a sandwich for Midoriya, the bread was covered in mold — and takes a bite.

 

“Ah! It's crunchy, is this carrots, or- no! Cucumbers! And ham! Ah, it's actually good!” Midoriya puts a hand to his bulging cheek in wonderment.

 

He turns to Shouto. “Todoroki-kun! That's amazing!” Then: “Kacchan! You’re even more amazing!”

 

“That’s right,” Shouto deadpans, “You’re amazing, Bakugou-sensei.”

 

I’ll kill you .”

 

“On the contrary, you’ve been saying that for about a year and so far we have,” Shouto wiggles his fingers, “Zero casualties.”

 

And then, because Shouto remembers that he needs to foster a good relationship between him and Bakugou for the sake of his cooking skills, he adds, “...That was a joke, by the way.”

 

Bakugou would most likely have acted on his promise to commit homicide had Midoriya not forced himself between Shouto and Bakugou. “C-Calm down, Kacchan!”

 

“You!” Bakugou scowls, pointing his finger at his new target. “You are not supposed to be working out. Pretty sure the granny’s protocol is to rest for at least forty-eight hours.”

 

“But Kacchan— hey!” Bakugou snatches Midoriya’s sports bag and slings it over his shoulder. “I’ll give it back to you in two days, shitnerd-” He breaks off in a yawn, mouth stretching to reveal his canines. “Shit, I’m too tired for this.”

 

Bakugou glares at Shouto, putting two fingers in a V-shape to his eyes and pointing them at him. “I’ve got my eye on you.” He says while walking backwards into the shadows up the dorm staircase, muttering something about waking up early in the morning and idiots.

 

Shouto waits for a minute, then another for good measure, before turning to Midoriya and saying, “What a drama queen.” He picks up Bakugou’s sandwich and bites into it, because to leave it would be waste of food, obviously. However, as he chews, he has the nagging feeling at the back of the mind that he is forgetting something — his suspicions are confirmed a second later, judging from the burning sensation in his mouth.

 

“Blueberry hot sauce sure tastes horrible.”





Katsuki has a good rest after that.

 

(If someone had dared disturb him, the next day Katsuki would have been charged for murder.)

 

The reason?

 

Someone had pinned a sign outside Katsuki’s door reading: “Do Not Disturb.” Scribbled at the bottom as if added as an afterthought are the words: “He Bites.”

 

The sign is not, well, signed , but Katsuki is a hundred percent sure it is Todoroki’s doing.

 

Katsuki doesn't know whether to hug him or slug him, so he goes the middle and says nothing when they see each other again at opposite sides of the dorm.

 

The rest of the afternoon is spent drilling math formulas and doing practice papers with Kaminari and Ashido, disregarding his pleading to “Lemme go and finish my video game streaming so I can start on my new game you gave me!!”.

 

His cries go unheard.

 

Katsuki has a good sleep that night too.

Chapter Text

It is a well-known fact in Yuuei that Class 2-A has devised a special routine for Home Economics.

 

After the first disastrous Home Econs lesson that shall not be spoken of, Class 1-A (then) all agreed to take turns to be Todoroki’s Home Econs partner, because nobody wanted to be his Home Econs partner.

 

Because the only thing worse than partnering up with Todoroki to cook is letting Todoroki cook on his own.

 

Yeah, the first Home Econs lesson they had was really educational.

 

To prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again, the class (sans Todoroki) made a pact to take turns to be his cooking partner. Yaoyorozu provided the numbered lottery sticks, and everyone drew a random one from a cup. So every time Home Econs came up, the sacrifice person next on the numbered list would hold back tears and partner up with Todoroki.

 

They called the list the Todoroster.

 

(And by the way, the Todoroster is no secret to Todoroki, and he himself said to the class, “Sorry for the trouble, I'll leave it to you.”)

 

Katsuki, who was absent for the drawing, got the last stick by default, placing him somewhere in the middle of the Todoroster. So he has not had the chance to partner up with Todoroki yet. Still, it is hard to ignore when someone melts an entire wok.

 

Yes, melt .

 

Katsuki is pretty certain Sero did not even let Todoroki breathe near the cooking utensils, so how the disaster happened is a mystery. As they say, strange things happen when Todoroki is in the kitchen.

 

So okay, maybe it is understandable why his classmates would stare at him when he volunteers to be Todoroki’s Home Econs partner for the day like he is volunteering for a suicide mission. Even Aizawa-sensei taken aback, eyebrows raised so high they are hidden under his fringe and his mouth pressed in a thin line. And hey, this is the most stunned Katsuki has never seen him. As they say, there's always a first time for everything.

 

“The hell are you staring at.” Katsuki snaps, turning around to glare at the peanut gallery.

 

“Bakugou…” Tokoyami, Todoroki’s-almost-to-be-cooking-partner-for-the-lesson, places a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder. “...You saved me. Thanks.”

 

“I ain't doing it for you,” Katsuki scoffs.

 

He snaps at Todoroki, the idiot who is standing there staring at Katsuki. “What the hell are you waiting for?! The day to end?!”

 

“Ah, right.”

 

Todoroki shuffles over to Katsuki’s cooking area just in time for Katsuki to dump a bowl of eggs into his hands. “Wash these. Now . And for each one you break I'll break your fingers in training later.”

 

Aizawa, back to normal, clears his throat and says, “Ah, well, today is a free day, so you all can cook whatever you want. Just don't destroy the kitchen. It’s a pain to clean up.”

 

And as he always does before he starts Home Econs, he shoots a pointed look at Todoroki before adding, “Do your best, hero chicklings.” After muttering those words, he crawls into his sleeping bag behind the teacher’s kitchen counter and falls asleep.

 

Sadly, nobody is listening to him because the whole class is watching Todoroki obediently washing the eggs in the sink, without incident .

 

From the adjacent cooking section, Ashido Mina jabs Kirishima and hisses, “Hey! What happened to Bakugou? Was he replaced by some god of luck? Todoroki’s handling food in the kitchen and nothing is breaking, turning blue, or exploding!”

 

“I don't know!” Kirishima hisses back. “And it's too early to say that!” The duo sneakily (not very sneakily) peek over at Bakugou and Todoroki, chopping up meat to grill for Home Econs at the same time. (It’s what they do every lesson.) To be fair, the rest of the class is also watching Todoroki like a hawk. This results in a lot of misplaced cooking utensils, butter spread on lettuce, and people bumping into each other.

 

“Are we going to cook today?” Todoroki asks him with a tinge of hopefulness.

 

“No.” Bakugou says. “ I’m going to cook. You’re,” he points to the bowl of eggs in Todoroki’s hands, “—going to crack all these eggs.”

 

Todoroki looks at Bakugou in disbelief. “You just emptied a carton of eggs into that bowl. Realistically speaking, that’s enough to give someone a heart attack five times over. Also, extremely wasteful.”

 

Bakugou jabs a finger at Todoroki’s chest. “The only thing realistic here is how utter shit your cooking is. Now get to it.” He grabs an egg and drags over a huge ceramic bowl. Using two hands —who even uses two hands anymore, really— which should be easier for a beginner like Todoroki, Bakugou cracks the center of the egg and uses both his thumbs to pull open the egg shell; the egg plops into the bowl neatly, with the yolk still intact.

 

“Now do it. Over a hundred times.” Bakugou shoves ten cartons of eggs over to Todoroki, who gives him the evilest stink eye he has ever managed with a stone face like his.

 

Under Bakugou’s eyes, Todoroki picks up an egg and tentatively knocks it against the bowl’s edge.

 

“Not like that!” Bakugou barks, making everyone else in the kitchen (who were nosy spectators) jump. “You think a lovetap will break the damn shell? Hit harder !”

 

Unruffled, Todoroki actually does try to imitate Bakugou this time. He hits it hard enough for him to pull off the shell and drop the egg into the bowl, but the yolk is ruined. Todoroki eyes the egg, feeling a little peeved.

 

“Good. Remember to fish out the eggshells.” Bakugou hands him a table spoon and walks off to wash the chopping board and knives.

 

Shouto picks up another egg and cracks it clumsily, egg white running down his fingers. Throwing the eggshells into the bin beside him, he repeats the action with another egg.

 

Broken yolk.

 

Another.

 

Eggshells in the bowl.

 

Another.

 

Repeat.

 

It is at the last egg of the bowl that Shouto finally manages to crack an egg perfectly. No bits of eggshells in the bowl, too.

 

He can hear sharp inhales and whispers of “noooo way” behind him, but he is too caught up in his joy to notice.

 

“Bakugou,” Shouto says, heart fluttering —though literally speaking one’s heart is incapable of having wings, so how is that even possible, Shouto wonders, but somehow he can clearly understand the feeling— “I did it. I cracked an egg perfectly!”

 

Bakugou does not stop chopping garlic, only giving him a grunt of affirmation and, “‘S not perfect ‘till you can do it consistently. Heroes don't rely on one-time tricks to save the day.”

 

Shouto sighs, conceding Bakugou’s point.

 

He opens a new carton of eggs and repeats the entire process.

 

It takes him two cartons to perfect the art of not breaking the yolk (“Bakugou-sensei, Bakugou-sensei, look, I did it ten times in a row.” “AAAAHHH? Do it in only one hand, you amateur!”), three more to gain the confidence of cracking the egg with one hand (“Bakugou-sensei, Bakugou-sensei—” “You can't even crack two at the same time, you think I’m gonna let you touch the frying pan?!”), and the last five to master cracking two eggs in both hands.

 

Shouto tosses the pieces of the egg shell into the bin, allowing himself to do a little dance and cheer in his head.

 

In the immortal words of Kaminari Denki: “Ellll yeaaaayyyy”.

 

Shouto rotates his aching wrists and shoulders, feeling proud of himself. He shoves the bowl at Bakugou, poking his arm.

 

“Here, Bakugou.”

 

“WHAT IS IT.” Bakugou brings down his knife so hard the onion he was cutting splits neatly in two, both halves quivering back and forth like two rubber duckies in bathwater. Blame Todoroki Shouto’s entire childhood for that particular metaphor. “...Shit.”

 

“I have done as you asked and prepared a bowl full of…” Shouto taps the bowl with a spoon in contemplation, “...Raw eggs. I saw you prepare rice in the cooker just now, are we making omurice today?”

 

Shouto looks up just in time to see Bakugou swiping a tear from his cheek.

 

The spoon he was holding clatters onto the counter.

 

“Bakugou— Are you crying?”

 

Oh. Oh no.

 

Did he do something wrong?

 

Shouto is often told that he is dense; sometimes too dense to read the atmosphere. This leads to a lot of blunt words and ruffled feathers and people storming off in a huff.

 

Did he push Bakugou too hard with the name thing? But Bakugou, he — usually he matches his banter and ping pongs back insults as good as Shouto dishes it out — he doesn't — he isn't —- truly mad at Shouto, is he? No, maybe he was tired already, tired and frustrated of bearing with him what with him being forced to teach Shouto because of Shouto’s dare— no, that's not— not like his family—

 

Shouto reaches out and places both his hands on Bakugou’s head, turning him to look at his tear-stained face.

 

“What's wrong? Was it my fault? I’m sorry for whatever I did, it was not my intention, I—”

 

Bakugou knocks away his hand and takes a few steps back, knocking into the counter behind him. He wipes his face with his apron sleeve, face flushed from the endless tears rolling down his cheeks.

 

His next words come out a little choked. “No- you— that's not what I — it's not — You—-it's the fucking onions, you idiot!”

 

...Ah.

 

Todoroki feels his heart (which was formerly jackhammering its way down to the pits of his stomach) settle down a bit. He lowers his arms and glances at the chopping board, then back at Bakugou.

 

“...This?” Shouto gestures weakly to the bisected onion, feeling a little awkward after that outburst.

 

Bakugou swipes his cheeks with his knuckles. “No, not at all— YES, no shit, Sher-fucking-lo—”

 

Bakugou freezes, his eyes widening and he turns his head around in slow motion to fixate on his classmates watching the whole scene. His classmates were acting as though they were watching some kind of movie drama, complete with popcorn and drinks.

 

No, really. Somehow Uraraka had produced a bowl of popcorn from thin air and was passing it around, all the while crunching some in her mouth.

 

Bakugou slowly drags the knife in his hand across the air in a thin line at the general direction of his class. With the most threatening, most dangerous tone that he can muster (note that his throat is clogged up from crying so the effect is effectively ruined), he shouts, “You fuckers- Don't you dare take photos or I'll-” He starts coughing as the tears intensify and his nose starts running.

 

“Ooooohhhh. My. Gawd.” Kirishima’s whisper-yell is so loud that it technically isn’t a whisper anymore. Like everyone else, his phone is out, recording the rare event that was happening in front of him.

 

“Pics uploaded to the class LINE chat!” Ashido chirps cheerfully, swiping her phone and flourishing a victory sign. This must have been some kind of secret signal to everyone, who must have received said signal with some kind of special invisible receiver that Shouto did not have, because everyone starts bellowing with laughter.

 

“He’s—- King Explosion—pffft— Murder is crying—- ahahahahahHAHA!” Sero clutches his sides, the words coming out breathy and high pitched. “Oh God, I can't, I'm going to die of laughter — BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!”

 

“I am King Explosion Murder, and onions are my sole Achilles Heel.” Kaminari narrates dramatically, before bursting into fits of giggles. “I tremble before the mighty onion!”

 

“FUCK YOU ALL I’LL KILL YOU SONOFA—-”

 

Shouto misses the once in a lifetime opportunity to savour the million dollar scene of Bakugou being defeated by an onion, because he is occupied putting Bakugou in a restraining hold lest he becomes witness to a mass murder incident. A worthy sacrifice, he thinks to himself, albeit rather mournfully.

 

 

 

It takes Bakugou a few growls, a few snarled insults, and a quite a few death threats before he calms down.

 

And he still wonders why everyone likens him to a dog. He had even barked, “I’M NOT A DOG, YOU SHITTY EXTRAS!!!” back to Kaminari. “Case in point,” Shouto had said to him back then, which had led to an explosion in his face and a visit to Recovery Girl.

 

Fun times.

 

Bakugou grabs a fork and channels his anger into whipping the eggs like he's churning the blood of his fallen classmates, muttering “Die, die, die” under his breath. It is amazing how not a single drop is spilled.

 

Shouto, on the other hand, is exiled to a seat in the corner of their cooking area by said egg executioner. Egg… secutioner. Heh. He should tell that joke to Bakugou at a later time and see if he can get the splodey-boy to laugh.

 

The exile is fair, Shouto thinks, because his last cooking adventure that featured a kitchen stove had ended up with lots of smoke and an evacuation. Oh, and a melted wok. Yeah, that part was hard to forget, even if Shouto tried.

 

“Oi.”

 

Shouto couldn't bear to look at Sero for the whole day after that.

 

“Oi, half-assed bastard, are you listening to me?!” Bakugou jabs a finger in his face.

 

Ah. Shouto was zoning out again. “Uh…”

 

“I SAID TO WATCH CLOSELY, DAMNIT!” Bakugou yells. Too bad the sight of Bakugou wearing a frilly pink apron with a cute cat in front is too comical to be serious. When Shouto asked, apparently Camie had bought it for him when they went out the other day. Bakugou, a fellow antisocial hermit, go out with Camie, the extrovert gyaru? When Shouto voiced his doubt, Bakugou had shut him down quickly with a muttered “Shut up.”

 

Stifling his smile, Shouto nods and shifts his stool closer to watch Bakugou from the side.

 

Bakugou lights the electric stove with a lighter and slams the wok onto the stove. He then proceeds, in short, swift motions, to scoop out some of the egg from the Bottomless Egg Bowl (as Shouto now christens it) into the wok, add in chopped garlic, onions and a few other ingredients plus a bowl of rice into the wok, stir it a few times, and it was done.

 

Yeah. Shouto nods his head. There’s no way he was able to learn anything from that instant cooking. Everything was so fast it was a blur in his mind.

 

Oblivious to Shouto agonising over Bakugou’s ninja cooking skills, Bakugou slams the completed omelette rice dish onto the counter before him, shoving a spoon of it into his mouth. “Well?” Bakugou demands.

 

The gooey sensation that melts in his mouth… cheese? And the rice grains are smooth but not sticky to the point of being overcooked. The capsicum and onions’ crunchiness helps to enhance the fluffiness of the omelette without overpowering its flavor… Shouto was more of a fan of noodles, but this rice… this rice was a work of art.

 

But, just to be a jackass, Shouto slowly chews and takes his time to swallow, before answering: “So-so.” He taps his chin thoughtfully, inwardly snickering at the growing anger on Bakugou’s face. “If you used less cheese and a little more rice it would taste better.” The comments are genuine, if anything.

 

“Whoa, your words really don’t match your expression.” Kaminari snorts as he reaches past Shouto to take a bite. His eyes widen and start to shine. “W-what the heck are you talking about, this is really good!”

 

“Hah! Naturally.” Bakugou says, folding his arms and smirking. Whoa, talk about a quick recovery.

 

“The same cannot be said for the chef, however!” Kaminari says cheerfully.

 

“You can take it,” Shouto offers. “Bakugou can make some more.”

 

“Really? Sweet!” Kaminari takes the plate and walks off, calling, “Hey, Kirishima! Try this! Bakugou made it!” “Whoa, really?” “Hey, let me try some too!”

 

Shouto watches as Kaminari is swallowed up by a cluster of hungry classmates who are waiting for their own food to cook. The murderous aura behind Shouto, however, takes away the lighthearted mood.

 

“Giving away your food, you bastard? Ohhh, that is the worst insult you can give to a chef.” Bakugou growls, tightening his grip on his kitchen knife. “It is on .”

 

It takes Bakugou only a few minutes to cook the exact same dish, this time with the adjustments that Shouto had mentioned.

 

“Well?” Bakugou demands, shoving the steaming dish in front of him. Shouto rubs his chin, staring critically at the expanse of pure yellow (the omelette) before him.

 

Hmm. It was missing something…

 

Ah.

 

Shouto grabs a bottle of blueberry hot sauce from the counter and squeezes it over the omelette, moving it in practiced patterns and swirls like a work of art.

 

“There. That’s better.” Shouto gestures to the omelette with a flourish. Bakugou stares, dumbstruck.

 

Written on the omelette was the word ‘LOVE’ in English, surrounded by a big heart and the illustration of a cute kitten in the corner.

 

Uh.

 

Bakugou shoots him a look that pretty much says, ‘The fuck?’ Shouto is a little happy that he and Bakugou have progressed to a point in their relationship where he can tell what Bakugou is thinking, even if most of the time he does not need to think hard to gather that Bakugou is either 1. Angry, or 2. Disgusted.

 

…It’s a work in progress.

 

“...! I did it on instinct…” Shouto stares at the bottle in his hands. Hot sauce does look an awful lot like ketchup, so Shouto just… A bead of sweat drips down the side of his head. Bakugou is scrutinising him so painfully close, Shouto can almost hear the gears in his head turning.

 

Contrary to what outsiders might think, under that brash exterior, Bakugou was pretty darn perceptive. And smart. And hot. And beautiful— but that was digressing from the topic.

 

He opens his mouth:

 

“You—” “Dude! Is that another dish? Man, you’re fast, Bakugou!” Kirishima pops up from behind Shouto, interrupting Bakugou. “Thanks for sharing, bro!” He scoops up a spoonful of the omelette rice and eats it before Bakugou can object.

 

“Hey, I never said—” Bakugou starts irritatedly, but is cut off as Kirishima starts coughing.

 

“OH MY— KIRISHIMA! KIRISHIMA, ARE YOU OKAY??!” Kaminari yells, thumping his back. He turns around. “GUYS, I THINK HE’S CHOKING!”

 

“WHAT?!” Uraraka yells, attracting everyone’s attention who starts to crowd around Kirishima.

 

“EVERYBODY! PLEASE STAY CALM!” Iida shouts, hands frantically chopping in robotic motions.

 

“Uh, Iida, you're the one that's panicking the most…”

 

“The Heimlich maneuver! Someone do that thing we learnt in Basic Cardiac Life Support for choking! We have gotten our licenses for this very moment!”

 

“No good! He's collapsed on the floor! Everyone just hit his back and stomach really hard to force it out!”

 

Then everyone proceeds to thump Kirishima’s back and stomach, resulting in a dozen to-be heroes battering Kirishima like they’re having target practice with a dummy.

 

“GAH-HAAAAA—-” Kirishima takes a deep breath and starts wheezing, as if him collapsing on the ground was not dramatic enough.

 

“HE LIVES! EVERYONE, GIVE HIM SOME SPACE!”

 

“Like I said, Iida, you’re the only one smothering him…”

 

“Dude, what happened?” Sero asks, pulling Kirishima up. “Did you choke on a bone or something?”

 

Kirishima’s voice comes out weak and scratchy. “Wh-what… ”

 

He points a shaking finger at the plate of omelette rice sitting innocently on the counter. “What on EARTH is that POISON???!”

 

“What, scared of some spice?” Bakugou says at the same time Shouto replies, “It’s blueberry hot sauce.”

 

Blueberry?!” Kirishima screeches. And because Bakugou is not to be outdone in a shouting match, he yells back, “What’s wrong with blueberry?!”

 

“It certainly is unique…” Sero says, plucking the bottle from Shouto’s offered hand and scrutinising the label. “What’s it taste like?”

 

Kirishima shudders. “Something not fit for human consumption.”

 

“Oh? Now I’m curious.” Uraraka takes a bite of the omurice. “Oh! It’s surprisingly good!”

 

“Kuh… to be beaten because of my weak taste buds… Uraraka… you’re more manly than I am…”

 

“One man’s hot sauce is another man’s poison, bud…” Kaminari shakes his head and pats Kirishima’s back knowingly.

 

“You saying my food is poison?? HAaaahHH?!” Bakugou growls. “I’ll kill you with my food!”

 

“HOORAY! Thanks, Bakugou!!” Everyone cries.

 

“SHUT UP!! Die!!”

 

“Less talk, more work, explodey kitchen chef!” Kaminari singsongs.

 

“Cook your own food, dammit!”

 

And then Bakugou proceeds to cook a whole array of dishes anyway.

 

“Whoa, you really managed to finish the eggs.” Shouto pokes the former Bottomless Egg Bowl (which now has a bottom), and brings it to the sink to wash. “Granted that we gave some to Satou for his baking, but still…”

 

“Omurice, omurice, omurice — why the heck are there so many plates of omurice?! Sunny side up, chawanmushi, scrambled egg with bacon bits, okonomiyaki, normal cheese and ham egg omelettes, there’s even tamagoyaki?!” Kirishima, who recovered from his anguished stomach pains, grabs his chopsticks and starts putting food on his plate like everyone else.

 

“Kacchan, you’re really amazing…” Midoriya mutters.

 

“What a sparkling feast ~☆!” Aoyama picks up a slice of french toast with his thumb and index finger, examining it for a whole minute before giving it a slight nibble.

 

“Uwaah, the bunny drawn on the omurice is so cuuuute!” Hagakure squeals.

 

“Ah, thanks.” Shouto pipes up. This time he properly used ketchup to draw it.

 

He and Bakugou hang back and watch their classmates ogle (and take part in) the egg feast — the dishes too numerous to count. Seeing their classmates enjoy themselves, with smiles on their faces… Shouto mentally notes this down as another wonderful memory with his classmates.

 

Oh, speaking of that, he remembered what he wanted to ask Bakugou.

 

“Bakugou.”

 

“Ah? What is it, half-assed bastard.” Bakugou is leaning against the counter, arms folded and finger tapping his bicep.

 

“I never did hear the true reason. Why you decided to teach me how to cook, that is.”

 

“...” Bakugou turns toward him and raises an eyebrow.

 

“Even just now, you were cooking the same dish over and over again. That was so I can memorise the cooking procedure, right?”

 

If it was a one-time show, Shouto would not be quick enough to catch Bakugou’s techniques, unlike someone with a more analytical mind such as Midoriya. But with watching something akin to reruns, he is able to take note of the finer details and commit Bakugou’s movements to memory, and later, recall them perfectly when he is practicing his cooking. That is his way of learning new things.

 

Bakugou really is perceptive .

 

“You always were more focused, more intense… your eyes were always fixed towards the top. You always strived to be better, even better than your current self. That is, for you, what it means to be the strongest Hero.

 

“This innate drive, this furious passion and ambition… I’ve often wondered if it is okay for me to feel that way as well.” Shouto drops his gaze to his left hand. “But sometimes I'm scared. Scared,” he admits, his voice growing soft, “Of becoming someone like the past him .”

 

Bakugou probably does not know what he is talking about, or even what he was rambling on about.

 

Earlier, when he thought Bakugou was angry at him—

 

Don't leave me . Don't abandon me .

 

Such a stray, pointless thought had entered his mind for a moment.

 

It's not his family’s fault. Fuyu-nee being pushy about him making friends is not supposed to be a jibe at how unfriendly he must be. Natsu-nii blowing up at him and leaving their arguments that they have in a huff is not because he truly despises being in Shouto’s presence. They always make up afterwards, and they have a good sibling relationship, but— it reminded him of how his old man used to ignore his siblings— no, it's not like he's saying Natsu-nii took after his father— okay maybe he was— no, that’s not fair, they are siblings, they have to live with each other whether they like it or not. Shouto is just paranoid thinking that they have stopped trying to put up with him, to endure him, or if they haven’t, one day everyone will see how utterly boring he truly is—

 

He’d be alone again.

 

No, no, of course, he knew they wouldn't. It is just the pessimistic part of his mind talking. He was stronger than this. He believes in his friends. They wouldn’t—

 

“But for you…” It was getting harder and harder to talk with his throat clogging up on him. “You're brilliant. Your gaze is clear and empty of hesitation. You won't stray from your path, but I…” Shouto trails off.

 

He doesn't know what to say next. That he admires Bakugou? That he wants to be more like Bakugou? But that is not exactly right; while the self-confidence that Bakugou possessed is sometimes blinding to Shouto, he has never once wished to be like him.

 

He never was good at talking his feelings out. The thoughts were always there, squirming and burrowing and chewing away at his mind, but when it came to voicing them out, they always hid themselves from his tongue.

 

“I…” Shouto repeats, faltering.

 

“What're you thinking so hard for?” Bakugou interjects, his voice gruff. “You’re a spoiled young master, so I bet you've never been in a real kitchen before, right?”

 

“That's…”

 

“I only do the things I want to do.” Bakugou levels a glare at him. “So don't worry your pretty little head thinking too much about it.” He clears his throat. “‘S not a fair cooking match if you don't know how to cook.”

 

Shouto swallows, feeling the cramped feeling in his throat easing.

 

“And you don't need to worry about being the top hero,” Bakugou tosses his head, “Because I'm going to take first place.”

 

And then, because Shouto is never one to be outdone, he replies automatically, “I'll top you before that happens.”

 

“Top what?” Midoriya asks, popping up beside Bakugou.

 

“Bakugou.” Shouto explains in one word. There was nothing else to elaborate on, after all.

 

 

“Eh, EHHHHHH???!!” Midoriya covers his mouth with his hand, pointing at Bakugou. “Kacchan is… is… ” His brain must have short circuited, because he turns into a statue.

 

Kaminari appears out of thin air to sling an arm around Shouto, a wide grin on his face. “Ohhhhh, I seeeeee.” He draws out his words playfully. “So you’ve got the hots for Bakugou here, huuuh.”

 

Shouto nods. “Yes, he is very hot. Even without his Quirk, he has a naturally high body temperature.”

 

“Uh—”

 

Shouto tilts his head. “Oh. Were you not talking about his body temperature? I, too, acknowledge that Bakugou is very hot tempered.”

 

“No, Todoroki, that’s not wrong, but that’s not right either…”

 

“Ah HAH! I've had my suspicions, but— so that's how it is!!” Mineta cries, striking a glorious pose while pointing at Shouto and Bakugou. He spreads his hands and raises his head high to the heavens in revelation, proclaiming:

 

“Todoroki is a M(asochist) and Bakugou is his S(adist)!!!!!”

 

WHAT????!!!” Everyone yells.

 

*beat*

 

“No, wait. If you think about it, it all makes sense.” Uraraka says, rubbing her chin in deep thought.

 

The whole class starts clamouring, adding in their two cents worth to the conversation.

 

“Why else would he insult Bakugou like he wants to be insulted back at?” Kouda murmurs.

 

“Wait, is that why he always seeks out Bakugou to spar with, even though everyone knows that Bakugou is so persistent he doesn't stop sparring until someone drops dead from exhaustion?” Jirou asks, blinking.

 

“And cook with Bakugou-chan even though everyone knows that he is really harsh on people who cook and don't meet his cooking standards? And frankly, Todoroki-chan is terrible at cooking, croak.” Asui says.

 

“If you extras have time to talk then go and focus on your cooking, dammit!”

 

“Whoa, Bakugou, calm down, dude.” Kirishima says, the effect of his words dampened by the food in his mouth, so his words sound more like, “Oh, Hagugou, cahh ow ood.”

 

“Truly a matching pair forged from the abyss of hell,” Tokoyami mutters.

 

Shouji silently judges the pair from afar.

 

“And now they're arguing because they're dissatisfied with their positions and Todoroki wants to switch!! That must be it!” Hagakure squeals. And then that is the trigger for everyone to burst into chatter, occasionally sneaking glances at Shouto and Bakugou.

 

What.

 

Shouto and Bakugou exchange equally puzzled looks. Shouto has… zero idea what his classmates are talking about right now.

 

“S? M? Are they some kind of Hero Duo?” Shouto asks out aloud in confusion.

 

“No, I don't think you need you know…” Beside Shouto, Ojiro shakes his head.

 

The whole class is abuzz with noise, though not necessarily talking about Shouto(?); some of them have already sidetracked from the original topic.

 

Bakugou sidles up beside Shouto, a cup in his hand.

 

“What the hell is a top and a bottom?” Bakugou grumbles.

 

Shouto shrugs. He points to the cup. “What's that?”

 

Bakugou hands it over, and Shouto takes a sip, and he immediately regrets it — the sour, acidic taste is shrivelling his taste buds.

 

“Lemon?”

 

Bakugou is smirking — all too aware of the dying state of Shouto’s tastebuds, the smug bastard. It is, in fact, Number Two on Shouto’s List of Conspiracy Theories: That Bakugou Katsuki has tastebuds of steel capable of resisting acid and spice. (Theory Number One is, of course, the suspicion that Midoriya Izuku is All Might’s secret son, even though Bakugou keeps telling him that he watches too much soap operas. He will prove all of them wrong one day.)

 

Bakugou nods. “Sugar High made it for his lemon meringue cake. You saw him beating the lemon with a wooden spoon just now, right? That was to let the juice flow out easier when he squeezed it later.”

 

“I see.” Shouto had thought it was some kind of ancient cooking ritual. Satou was really going at it, beating up the lemon like it had personally orchestrated his father’s death and he was now taking revenge on it.

 

Shouto’s eyes flicker to Bakugou, and their eyes meet for a moment, before Bakugou clicks his tongue and looks away. After a moment, he crinkles his eyebrows and clears his throat to say, in stilted words: “So. You. Had fun cooking?”

 

His words are clipped and subdued, unusually so for someone always so loud and commandeering. If this is his way of showing that he cares, it is very like the antisocial him to do it with such a cold, not-at-all-friendly tone. Though when it comes to being antisocial, “I have no intentions of making friends” Shouto, as Sero once said jokingly, is not the best critic on social manners. But Shouto likes the silent part of Bakugou too.

 

Shouto chuckles softly, covering his mouth with the back of his hand. “I always enjoy myself when I’m with you.”

 

He doesn’t notice Bakugou staring at him with widened eyes, or the faint pink dusting his cheeks — or how quickly Bakugou recovers and returns to his original scowl.

 

“Good. You wouldn’t be a good marriage candidate if you didn’t know how to cook.”

 

Shouto smiles wryly. “I have a col- friend, who said the exact same thing.”

 

“You see?”

 

They lapse into a comfortable silence, watching the rest of his classmates eat their cooked food for the rest of the period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omake:

 

“Oof.” Uraraka clutches her bloated stomach. “This is the first time… I’ve ever… gorged myself on food… I couldn’t stop myself… uurghh… ” She clutches her mouth and prevents herself from vomiting through sheer willpower.

 

Everyone is collapsed on the floor, stuffed from finishing Bakugou’s egg feast. They had no choice — Aizawa had threatened them with a “No wasting food. Or else.”, and his signature laser-red glare. As a result, most of them were bloated to the point of passing out, or in an induced state of food coma.

 

Meanwhile, Bakugou and Todoroki are seen standing at one side, with Bakugou’s hands on his hips, fully intent on scolding Todoroki.

 

“What do you mean, you forgot to wash the eggs?!!? Do you—DO YOU KNOW HOW DIRTY THAT IS???!?”

 

Todoroki is hanging his head, feeling thoroughly rebuked. “Uh… well…” He manages weakly.

 

“The true disasteroki… was the eggs all along…” Kirishima manages to get out, before he faints for the second time that day.

 

 

Chapter Text

[Sunday]

 

The cat bell attached to the door jingles merrily as Shouto enters the cat cafe. He zeroes in on the bar counter and collapses onto a seat. Slumping down, he presses his head to the cool, lacquered wooden table and finally lets out the deep breath he’d been holding in.

 

T-That was too close for comfort… I didn’t expect I'd recognise anyone here in Shinjuku…

 

“Aha, Shouto-nya! Ya gotta hear this!”

 

Shouto cracks an eye open to look at Kirarin Ouka, a first year student studying in Shiketsu High and a part-time waitress at Nyantonaku Cafe.

 

Ouka was pretty, polite, and peppy, all-around enjoyable to be with and a recent acquaintance that Shouto had made. When working, her straight hair is tied up into two buns, and she wears a frilly apron under a gothic maid outfit, complete with a cat-eared headpiece. As a person, her character is practically flawless.

 

…Well, save for one thing.

 

Ouka slams her hands on the counter, making Shouto — with his ear pressed to the table — wince.

 

“Today, y’know, Bakugou-san came into our shop! Bakugou Katsuki! Waaaah!” She squeals, jumping up and down in excitement.

 

She was a total fangirl of Bakugou.

 

That in itself was okay.

 

But.

 

But.

 

She also happened to really, really like.

 

The hero, Endeavour.

 

WHY.

 

Of all heroes to choose from.

 

WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE HIM???!?

 

The first time she sat down to talk to him, she’d immediately bombarded him with questions about Endeavour’s lifestyle, (“What’s he like at home? Stern? Fierce? Hot ??”) to straight up fangirling (“His permanent scowl and the way he glares at everyone is sooooo raw but when he smiles? HOOO BOY DID YOU SEE THE WAY HE SMILED WHEN HE ATE KUZUMOCHI IN THAT ONE YOUTUBE VIDEO WHEN HE WAS IN THAT RESTAURANT KYAAAAA”) with the occasional thirst comments mixed in there (“Him and his big bara tiddies preachhhhhh”).

 

By the end of in, Shouto was literally writhing in torturous agony . It was like every praise coming out of her mouth shot through him like a bullet and strangled the life out of his beating heart, then, while he was down, jolted him with the shock of a thousand tasers and got his pitiful, feeble heart beating once again, complete with Kaminari and Tokoyami’s horrible rendition of A Cruel Angel’s Thesis playing mournfully in the background.

 

Stuck in this neverending hell where people. Thirsted. For. His. Shitty. Old. Father.

 

STOp. STooooooooP.

 

When he eventually found the strength to say in a weak, strangled voice, ‘that is my father you are talking about’, she’d yelled back at him, ‘ENDEAVOUR-SAN IS UNDERRATED, YOU FOOL!!!!!’ and gotten them kicked out of the cafe.

 

Then, after Shouto had begged her to ‘Stop talking about him, please . I'll answer literally anything else.’, she'd started to ask him about Bakugou. How is he supposed to answer how Bakugou is like every day? That he screams a lot? Has a big ego (and mouth) with the brains and brawn to back it up with? What was it about Bakugou that everyone seemed to like, anyway????

 

His conclusion? People sure do have varied tastes, huh.

 

Shouto secretly suspects that Ouka has a thing for assholes (yeah, Bakugou may be calmer than when he first started out at Yuuei but he clearly still falls into the asshole category. The bastard threw Shouto into the lake the other day during a simple training exercise in USJ. They were trying to rescue dummies, not fishes!), and he will never understand why .

 

“Bakugou-san attracted cats like he truly was catnip, nya! ‘Twas truly phe-meow-menal! Oh, here, your regular.” Ouka sets down a cup of hot sencha beside him, and Shouto nods his head in thanks — which feels extremely good when one’s cheek is pressed against a cool surface — but he does not move a single inch, closing his eyes again.

 

As Ouka rambles on, he feels something brushing against his ankles and he reluctantly cracks open his eyes. There is a tabby cat tugging at his pants, begging — no, demanding his attention.

 

Obliging, he reaches down to scratch under her chin, and he can feel his soul being healed as she purrs contentedly. He also knows that she loves it when he scratches the base of her tail, so he does that too, smiling as she rubs affectionately against his legs.

 

Fluffy…

 

“So the couple came up to register, and I recog-nya-sed the guy’s face! And it was none other than Bakugou. Katsuki. GYAAAAAAH! What an unexpected side of hiiiiim! He was so coooooool! And the way his grumpy face morphed into one of sweet gentleness as he cuddled the cats… Aha, ahahahahahaha… I managed to take a picture to keep for myself…”

 

Shouto shudders.

 

He had first met Ouka during one of his breaks. To absolutely no one’s surprise, he’d been lured in by the images of cats on the cafe’s giant signboard. Fully determined to spend all of his break playing with cats, he’d entered the cafe and sat down at a table.

 

Ouka was the waitress who came to his table to take his orders. She’d took one look at him and dropped her notebook, screaming, “KYAAAARGH!” Soon after she’d quickly picked up her notebook, flipped to an empty page and asked him to sign it.

 

The reason for wanting his signature?

 

Much later, after they got to knew each other better, she admitted to him that she was going to keep it ironed out in a vacuum sealed box, tucked away safely in the corner of her closet. She'd only bring it out ten years later, when [Pro Hero Shouto’s Autograph When He Was A Teenager] would be priceless, to auction off to his to-be avid fans.

 

By the way, Ouka takes the Business Course in Shiketsu.

 

Shouto resists the urge to ask whether it's for blackmail purposes or truly for personal usage. Honestly? It could be both.

 

Well, that was Bakugou’s bad luck to decide to go to a cat cafe today.

 

Heck, in the first place why would Bakugou, resident stay-at-home-to-study nerd who mocks other people for being a nerd when he is one himself, that Bakugou, actually venture out on a weekend anyway?

 

It was like trying to prove a really confusing math formula.

 

Bakugou + Weekend = Cat Cafe? That didn’t make sense.

 

“And I saw Camie-senpai too!”

 

Bakugou + Weekend + Camie = Cat Cafe, on the other hand, made perfect sense.

 

“I see.” Shouto mumbles into his arm. So Camie dragged Bakugou out on a platonic date? That was nice of her, taking into account he had only recently mentioned Bakugou’s workaholism tendencies to her.

 

“Mmm…” Ouka rubs her chin, examining Shouto’s listless state with critical eyes. “You’re…surprisingly down in the dumps. Never thought that’ll happen to Todoroki Shouto, the hottest guy that everyone talks about in my school.”

 

Shouto buries his head further into his arms. “How do I say it… Today, we had a hostage situation that I had to deal with, then our kitchen caught on fire, and then after that my boss scolded me, saying, ‘Oi, oi, if you don’t know how to cook, who would want to marry you?!’, and threw me out of the kitchen, and now I'm banned from doing anything else but take orders in front.”

 

“...So you were the one who set the kitchen on fire, huh…”

 

“I don’t get it.” Shouto says, throwing up his hands in frustration. “Can’t I just marry someone who can cook really well?”

 

He returns to poking his cup of sencha, petulantly ignoring Ouka’s muffled laugh. “I just wanted to help with the cooking. We only have one chef on the roster right now, and if he ups and dies of overwork we'll be left with an empty kitchen and a dead body to deal with.”

 

“Well that doesn't sound too good.”

 

“...”

 

“Juuust kidding, don’t mind what I just said! Uhhh…” She shoots a guilty look at the owner of the cafe, who was listening in on the conversation, and lowers her voice to a whisper. “Boss… uhh… w-what should I do? I think I just made him feel even more depressed…”

 

“You…don't have a lot of friends, do you, Ouka.”

 

“Now you're making me feel depressed, boss…”

 

The owner reaches forward and pats Shouto’s back. “Come on, it's not good to wallow in one’s mistakes for too long. Cheer up, it's at least you didn't melt anything this time, right? …That's right, we still have some leftover cat coasters from our gacha, how about you take them? As a thanks for being our regular.” The owner slides a paper bag to Shouto.

 

“Y-yeah!” Ouka chimes in. She rushes to the counter and back to Shouto, dumping a bagful of sweets in front of him. “Have some cat paw sweets too! Come on, when you fall down seven times, you gotta get up eight times! I’m sure if you practice you’ll get better than Lunch Rush himself!”

 

At this, Shouto widens his eyes. “Get a cooking teacher, huh…” He turns to Ouka in revelation. “That might work!”

 

People who are good at cooking around him… Satou, and maybe Bakugou. No problem. Shouto would get either of them to teach him, and he’d be able to help out in the kitchen and expand his skill base. Two birds, one stone. A perfect plan.

 

He smiles at the owner and Ouka. “Thanks for the idea, Ouka.”

 

Ouka and the owner both put a hand to their hearts, their faces contracting into a 囧 face. “Too bright…”

 

Still petting the cat, Shouto reaches over with his left hand to his cup of sencha. It is nice and hot, the steam warming his lips as he sips it. He checks his watch: his break is almost over.

 

“That’s right, Ouka,” he says. He sets down his cup and pops a sweet into his mouth.

 

“What was that about a picture of Bakugou?”

 

*

 

[Monday night]

 

>> Hey, Delusion. I got a question for you.

 

[Delusion Gal]: Owo what’s this? Getting a text from you is like super rare! Okie dokie, guns loaded, fire away!

 

>> What does topping and bottom mean

 

>> when I googled that shit up I got pictures of fishnet stockings, wtf

 

>> hey

 

>> Oi respond

 

>> I know you've read my message you dumbass. ANSWER.

 

>> It's been five minutes and if you do not reply within ten seconds I swear I will kill you and bury you under your tacky collection of tacky shoes hidden in your tacky closet

 

[Delusion Gal]: OWO



 

Ten minutes later, a tremor rocks the very foundations of Class 2-A’s dormitory.

 

*

 

[Tuesday]

Location: Entrance of USJ

 

“Alright, gather around and listen up.” Aizawa-sensei says. “Today we’ll be doing something a little different from our usual Quirk-strengthening exercises.”

 

The class shifts restlessly, their curiosity peaked. Shouto, too, is curious as to what new hellish exercise Aizawa-sensei has devised for today’s Heroics Lesson. Aside from his normal hero costume and bandages, Aizawa-sensei is also sporting a matte black gun holstered to his belt. So is Thirteen, who is standing beside him.

 

Well, knowing him, it cannot be anything good.

 

“Hey hey hey, is he serious?” Mineta whispers beside Shouto. “The last time he said that, he made us jump from a helicopter to practise falling from heights. Without any safety equipment, too!”

 

“And before that, it was forcing us to dive to the bottom of the school swimming pool and hold our breath for as long as we could…” Hagakure says, her gloves gesturing wildly to a spot in the air. “Look! My hair’s been frizzy for weeks!”

 

“Frankly, I’m not feeling so pumped up today… especially since I didn't get a good sleep last night.” Sero chimes in.

 

Sero interlocks his fingers and stretches his arms over his head, his mouth opening in a yawn. When his eyes blink open, he mischievously nudges Bakugou beside him. “Did you get a good sleep last night, Bakugou?”

 

Bakugou, self-proclaimed King Explosion Murder, had been unnaturally quiet and even a little fidgety the whole day, to the point that no one dared to talk to him in fear of ruffling his feathers and setting off whatever big explosion he'd been bottling up inside. At Sero’s words, he jolts and turns to glare at Sero.

 

“Shaddup.” Bakugou hisses, nudging Sero back. “Just… Shut. Up.”

 

“Aww, you don't need to be ashamed just because you got too excited reading your porn mags and exploded your walls and woke everyone up in the process!” Kaminari says cheerfully, walking up to Bakugou to elbow him as well. “Geez, I knew the dorms were fireproof and soundproof, but nobody said anything about earthquakeproof so I was really worried for a moment there!”

 

“I was not. Reading. Porn magazines.”

 

“You. Definitely. Were. Too!” Mineta and Kaminari chorus in sync like a perfectly rehearsed choir duo.

 

Kaminari puts a hand on Bakugou’s shoulder, shaking his head knowingly. “It's okay. Everyone has their own secret stash. Nobody’s judging you. But you gotta share the goods, man.”

 

“Quiet.” Aizawa-sensei says, his eyes glowing a furious red, effectively hushing the rowdy classmates surrounding Bakugou.

 

Judging from the grins etched on their faces, Shouto suspects they already know Bakugou is not the type to spontaneously combust while enjoying pornography — he is too obsessed with the idea of control for that to happen, Shouto rationalises —  but is just teasing him for the sake of pissing him off.

 

Shouto can see why: Pissing off Bakugou is also his favourite hobby.

 

As if Bakugou had picked up on Shouto’s thoughts, he turns and both their gazes meet. Immediately, a wave of red flushes Bakugou’s cheeks, and he clicks his tongue before furtively shifting his gaze to avoid Shouto’s.

 

Well that was unusual.

 

Aizawa-sensei’s glare sweeps through the class. “It looks like you all have a lot of energy, if you're spending it making small chat. Use that well in today’s lesson.”

 

“Does it have something to do with that… obviously-real-and-not-fake-at-all-gun? It totally does, right?” Satou asks nervously, pointing at his gun holster.

 

“That’s right. For today's Hero Lesson, we’ll be having…”

 

Aizawa-sensei slides out his pistol and spins it in his right palm like a true cowboy, catching deftly it with his hand. Then, he aims it at person nearest to him — Kirishima — and pulls the trigger.

 

The watery projectile hits Kirishima neatly in the face, causing him to stumble back.

 

“—A water gun battle.” Aizawa-sensei finishes.

 

There is a silence for Kirishima as he sputters and shakes his head like a wet dog, spraying water everywhere.

 

Then, he opens his mouth, and whoops in unison with everyone: “YELL HEAHHHHHH!!”

 

Everyone bursts into chatter.

 

“Dude, I may have just been waiting for this moment my. Entire. Life.” Kaminari screams, jumping up and down with excitement.

 

“When do we start? When do we start?” Ashido squeals.

 

Iida’s hand shoots up faster than a bullet (or in this case, a water bullet), and he shout-asks, “Excuse me! But for what purpose will we be conducting a child’s game for?!”

 

“That’s a good question.” Thirteen answers cheerfully. “You see, this competition will test all of you on your individual and teamwork skills.

 

“Each person will attach a piece of cardboard to their body.” Thirteen holds up a square of cardboard the size of his hand. “Please try to keep it as dry as possible until the end of the game. Tearing apart the cardboard is a no-no. Replacing or exchanging your cardboard is not allowed, since the cardboard is keyed to you anyway. The cardboard must be exposed where others can target it.

 

“At the end of the lesson, we’ll allocate each of you an individual score based on the water content percentage is the cardboard. Ah, but during the game, the moment your cardboard reaches a hundred percent water content, you're out! At that point, please immediately leave the battlefield and report to the control centre.”

 

(“Battlefield?” - Someone)

 

“For the teamwork part, all of you will be made to wear these bracelets.” Aizawa-sensei holds up a metal bracelet for the class to see. “See the red light in the middle? When it is within half a metre of another bracelet, it will beep and flash green, indicating that two people have formed a team. The bracelet is keyed to your cardboard, so shots fired from the guns of your own teammates will slide off instead of being absorbed into the cardboard.”

 

(“Sweet!” - Someone)

 

“At the end of the lesson, for every teammate that has a water percentage of over fifty percent, a set amount of points will be deducted from each team member.”

 

“In other words, having team members would be a deadweight for you.” Bakugou mutters.

 

Shouto silently nods his head at Bakugou’s words. Assuming that there was no way to disband the team, forming a pact with someone with a soaked cardboard would be disadvantageous.

 

“Fifty percent?! Aw, c’mon, sensei!” Kaminari pleads.

 

“...You’re right. Fifty percent is too much. Twenty percent, then.”

 

“...”

 

Sero clasps a hand on Kaminari’s shoulder and gives him a thumbs up. “Good job.”

 

“It’s up to you whether you want to team up or not. And anyway, there can only be a maximum of four people in a team. The game will start when I press the buzzer.”

 

Aizawa-sensei points in the direction of USJ’s control centre in the distance. “The evacuation shed beside the control centre has been stocked with a pile of water guns and ammo for you to take. Scan them with your bracelet to key it to your cardboard. Then head into one of emergency tunnels; as you know, they’ll send you to different parts of USJ.”

 

“Please give it your best shot, everyone!” Thirteen chirps.

 

“I’ll be sending you out now, one by one in a two minute interval, by your seat number. Aoyama, you’re up.”

 

Aoyama heads into the shed with a cheery wink to the class, followed by Ashido, Asui, and in a flash, it was Shouto’s turn.

 

*

 

The evacuation shed was something built a year back during the revision of USJ’s security measures, something that was sorely needed due to the villain attack right at the start of the year. Doubling up as a bomb shelter, the shed was built to withstand strength and firepower Quirks alike.

 

The shed also contained evacuation tunnels coming from different parts of USJ. In case of an emergency, the students would regroup quickly at the shed and, if necessary, evacuate through one of the seven different escape tunnels also built into the shed. Aizawa made their class memorise the locations of all twenty four tunnels scattered around USJ per school protocol.

 

Needless to say, USJ got a huge upgrade to its facilities as well.

 

Shouto enters the dimly lit shed and closes the door behind him.

 

The main room is a shelter filled with canned food, up-to-date communication earpieces, first-aid kits and many more survival equipment. There is also a side door that leads to a room full of monitors, mirroring the one in the control centre, but what catches Shouto’s attention is a plastic box in the middle of the room.

 

Like Aizawa-sensei said, the plastic box is full of guns and bottles of water ammunition. Shouto picks up one and presses the trigger; a stream of water flies beautifully in an arc and splatters the wall of the shed.

 

Oh thank goodness, Aizawa-sensei wasn't lying.

 

Even though the guns looked like the real deal, they were, thankfully, only for verisimilitude. The idea that Aizawa-sensei would give their class real guns to practice fighting gun-wielding villains in the future was, and still is, very, very plausible.

 

Shouto picks up two (water) guns and scans them with his bracelet on his right hand: a small one that can be easily hidden in his palm, which he straps onto his right wrist, and a medium sized (water) gun, which he clips to his belt.

 

Shouto stares at his right palm.

 

(I don’t really need ammo since I can make my own water… Maybe I’ll just take one cartridge.)

 

He clips one for his mid-sized gun to his belt; his other small gun refills when submerged in water. Anyway, it was not like he was planning to use his (water) guns in a fight. His style was more of immobilising his enemies before taking them down anyway, he wouldn’t actually use his (water) guns unless it came down to a desperate, close-ranged fight.

 

Okay, now he was ready to go. There was no question to where he would head to; he had already decided while he was waiting with his class at the entrance.

 

Shouto shifts his cardboard such that it is tightly secured over his chest, covering his heart area. Checking that equipment are secured tightly, Shouto turns and heads into the tunnel leading to the Avalanche Zone.

 

*

 

If you asked Midoriya to describe what the Avalanche Zone looked like, he'd probably go on a rant about how the school must have spent a lot of funds when they revamped USJ to include new disaster facilities, what with the fully artificial snow, and how the constant blizzard and icy sharp winds, doubling up with the steep terrain, fully replicated the harsh conditions of an icy peak. And, oh, the occasional tremors on the mountain causing an avalanche was a thing, too.

 

Then he'd go on to talk about the various precautions and safety measures when taking on the Avalanche Zone, because your footing in deep snow would tend to be uneven and people with strength-based Quirks needed to be careful in case they disturbed any of the already unstable snowdrifts and caused an avalanche too and you get the point.

 

If you asked Shouto to describe the Avalanche Zone, however, he'd probably say:

 

“It's a mountain.”

 

If you asked him for more details, he'd think about it for a while, then elaborate:

 

“It's a snowy mountain.”

 

His face would be expressionless the whole time, too.

 

Shouto has mixed feelings towards snow.

 

Sure, it was his mother’s element, but it was much more than that.

 

When he was young, he always used to watch his older siblings play in the snow. Having snowball fights, building a snow igloo, making snow angels, all things he had longed to do in the company of someone else.

 

Of course, that was prevented by his shitty old man who’d forced his own unaccomplished dream onto Shouto and took away his childhood, leaving behind a smoldering husk fuelled by nothing but unbridled hatred and spite.

 

So okay, maybe deciding to go to an area where he was in his element was not exactly the best choice for Shouto.

 

Not when it brought back unpleasant memories about a younger him, sitting alone in a room, trying to recreate the snowy scene he’d seen his siblings play in. Drifting white flakes. A carpet of soft snow. A snowman.

 

But no matter what he did, he could never recreate the sound of laughter.

 

But that was life.

 

Things happen. You move on.

 

Shouto had faced his past. And he’d do it again and again, not because that was what a hero did, but because there was no other way he could live if he couldn't.

 

Accept that he has fears, and face it, no matter how nightmare-inducing it was, no matter how many times it stood back up to confront him, no matter how much he would rather rip off his fingernails and tear apart his skin than to face it again.

 

How he hates loud noises. The sound of a wooden shinai striking flesh. The figure of a small, shivering boy, watching helplessly as a person precious to him is hurt, unable to scream or reach out to help in fear that their attention would focus on him .

 

Shouto had moved on.

 

For awhile now, Shouto had been walking, attempting to put a distance between him and the emergency exit, and also because he was partially lost in thought. Ah, that was no good. Concentrate, he had to concentrate.

 

Shouto slaps his own cheeks and drops into a crouch, examining the snow. The artificial snow is powdery and crumbles away in his hand; if he wanted to, he could make a thin layer of frost under the snow, so thin that no one would notice the ice creeping up their leg until it was too late.

 

Shouto touches his cardboard. It is still dry; the zone is far too cold for the snow to melt easily, and he has also lowered the temperature of his body with his Quirk. He had been wondering for a while though, could he actually dry his cardboard and lower its water percentage?

 

Before Shouto can conduct his experiment, a chime rings throughout the entire facility. The screech of a microphone being switched on sounds, and Aizawa-sensei’s voice filters through the speakers.

 

“Attention, all. All students have been sent into the grounds of USJ. So you can start—”

 

Before the announcement can finish, the snowbank to his right explodes in a flurry of snowflakes, blinding his vision!

 

So soon…!

 

Shouto hops back and instinctively flings out a wave of fire, melting the mini blizzard and creating a curtain of mist in front of him.

 

Whoever it is, they took advantage of the announcement and attacked when my guard was at its lowest!

 

Shouto twists his right foot, and the ground in a five-metre radius freezes in an instant, the sheet of ice giving off a silver sheen in the cold snow.

 

Hmm. He was hoping to scare off the attacker but the ice didn't register contact with anyone. That meant either they avoided his wave of ice by jumping over it, or anticipated it and retreated out of his range.

 

Shouto clicks his tongue. While he’s prepared for it, excelling in close range combat is another thing altogether. And with his large scale attack just now, he’s revealed his location to the attacker, which was pretty much screaming for them to attack him.

 

Shouto exhales an icy breath.

 

Calm down. Assess the situation. Think like Yaoyorozu and Midoriya.

 

His first priority is to identify who is attacking him, and whether they are multiple people or just a single threat. That should tell him whether he should stand his ground or retreat.

 

He was in the middle of a snowy field. The watery mist caused by the upturned snow and his flames made it hard to see and avoid surprise attacks. He had to sharpen his senses. For what you cannot see, make up with your hearing.

 

Concentrate. Focus on the air currents. Attune your ears to the slightest change in the wind.

 

Focus on immobilising anyone who comes into your range.

 

A explosion sounds to his right and Shouto spins around, throwing up a wall of ice to shield himself and encapsulate the attacker. Which is why he is not ready for the hit to his left side, making him stagger in wild confusion.

 

A decoy?!

 

Before he can react, his left foot is swept out from underneath him, and a blow is driven into his stomach, sending him sprawling to the floor. A hand grabs his hair and drives his face into the snow, hard , skin scraping against cold, hard grit. His right arm is pinned to the ground, the other twisted painfully to rest on the back of his head.

 

Shouto closes his eyes in frustration. If this was a real life situation, he’d be dead.

 

His assailant is not even out of breath, Shouto finds out, to his annoyance, when they lean closer to Shouto’s ear to speak.

 

“Surprise, bitch,” Bakugou’s low growl reverberates in Shouto’s ear, making him shiver, and not just from the cold.

 

“Bet you didn't think you’d find me here.”

Chapter Text

“Write a death poem??!” The whole class echoes.

 

“That’s right.” Aizawa says. “To grieve for victims that were unable to be saved, heroes would sometimes send cards of condolences or flowers to the families of the deceased.

 

“Yet, back then, what was considered the most sacred, most reverential gesture one could ever do for the dead was the penning of a death poem. Fifty years ago, the [Flower Hero]: Petal Wing wrote an anthology of one hundred poems — now known as the famous Ichinin Hyakushu , meaning ‘one person, one hundred poems’ — to mourn those who had died during the Ibaraki Prefecture Incident.

 

“…Well, even if I speak in past tense about writing death poems, it’s a tradition that has persisted throughout the times. Writing death poems is a solemn act, used to reflect on one’s journey so far and their eventual end at death. In our line of work, death is not uncommon. In fact,” and here Aizawa’s gaze lands on a few of his students, “...Some of you may personally know of a pro hero who has died on duty.”

 

“Which is why—” He slams a stack of papers onto his desk. “For today’s lesson, we will be practising writing death poems.”

 

“That sounds really exciting but at the same time really serious!!” (Everyone)





Shouto wrote his first poem when he was five.

 

He’d sneaked out of his room to play with his siblings — such moments were very rare, and thus very precious to Shouto —  only to find them in the middle of a poetry lesson. As far as calligraphy was concerned, Shouto knew the basics, having been taught to write his name traditionally with brush and ink. But poetry? That was something he was entirely new to, thus it peaked his interest.

 

They’d offered a brush and some paper to him, so he sat down and thought for a while, before proudly writing down, in wide and broad strokes, a few lines he had heard in one of his mother’s afternoon dramas.

 

Fuyu-nee had taken a look at it and given him a gentle, albeit a little pained, smile. Natsu-nii had read the first line out aloud and started laughing. Touya-nii had simply said, “I think you should give up on poetry.”

 

True to their words, Shouto’s later attempts at poetry were… unsuccessful enough that his father gave up on his hopes of getting Shouto to write the customary New Year’s couplet every time the new year came around.

 

So, for calligraphy to come back to him now…

 

Shouto absently taps his calligraphy brush against the inkstone, watching the excess drops of ink slide from his brush into the inkstone’s cavity. Well, his calligraphy was decent enough, Shouto considers, writing his name on the side of the rice paper to test out the ink, considering he hasn’t touched a brush in years.

 

He pauses for a bit, before writing in broad strokes:

 

A river

A boat

In silence

They float

 

The moment Shouto finishes writing, a hand swipes his rice paper from his table; he looks up to see Bakugou lifting it to eye level and reading it, his eyebrows rising higher and higher with each line he scans. When he finally hands it back to Shouto, his mouth is twitching in what Shouto recognises to be one of amusement, and to others what might be interpreted as a smug grin.

 

“Too vague.” Bakugou declares, in the only way one full of self confidence can declare. “How is that supposed to convey death?”

 

Shouto inwardly pouts a little at the heavy criticism. It can’t be that bad, can it? And why is Bakugou at his table anyways?

 

“The river is supposed to be the Sanzu River — the river of death. And the boat is what dead souls use to cross over to the underworld.” Shouto says. For emphasis, he takes a new sheet of rice paper and draws it out for Bakugou to see.

 

Bakugou furrows his eyebrows. “Your drawing is as bad as your poetry-writing.” He says bluntly.

 

“Stop being so childish.” Shouto says. (He was not acting petulant at all.) “What did you write, then?”

 

Bakugou’s smirk deepens as he slams a sheet of paper onto Shouto’s desk, confidence oozing from his aura.

 

Shouto leans forward to get a better look at the paper, but then frowns. The paper is blank. He opens his mouth to ask Bakugou what he means, but all of a sudden—

 

The ground gives way and Shouto is falling, falling into the deep darkness beneath him, his surroundings dispersing into snowflakes and sakura petals that smell of calligraphy ink and musty rice paper.

 

He lands softly in a field of wheat, the golden stalks, tall enough to reach his chest, rippling back and forth with his disturbance. He slowly gets up, pushing aside the stalks as he does so, and starts to walk.

 

He does not know where he is going; it is dark, as if he had entered a painting dipped in black ink and left to dry, a night with no stars and no moon, with only the shining field of wheat to light his path.

 

And yet, after what seems like a lifetime to him, he sees a river, getting closer and closer to him.

 

The river itself is quiet and lazy, with multitudes of blooming higanbana — red spider lilies, and the flower of death — floating on its dark waters and colouring the scenery blood red.

 

And on the other side of the river, he sees a figure standing at its bank.

 

…Touya-nii?

 

Shouto reaches out to call him, but Touya-nii shakes his head instead.

 

Huh?

 

He was saying something.

 

It’s not… my time yet…?






“…!” Shouto jerks awake, scrambling on the snowy ground. That was close… he’d just seen the afterlife flashing before his eyes!

 

“DIEEEEEE!”

 

Instinctively, Shouto rolls to his left, shielding his face as an explosion impacts the spot he had been lying (unconscious) on. He picks himself up from the ground and dodges another incoming explosion, but it looks like it was a trap, because Bakugou materialises on Shouto’s other side and sweeps his feet (again???), bringing him to the ground with an ‘oof’.

 

At this point, Shouto is a little annoyed; they’ve done this same song and dance three times already, and each time it ends with him on the ground, resorting to using his fire side (which is harder for him to start in this cold weather) to force Bakugou back. And the last time he’d been thrown to the ground, he’d been knocked out too.

 

Bakugou nudges Shouto’s face with his boot, scowling. “You’re getting sloppier and sloppier. Are you even serious about this?”

 

Shouto spits out a mouthful of (100% purely artificial, all additives, also wet, gritty, and overall generally unsatisfying, deserves a 1 out of 10) snow. “Is this payback for sneaking into your bed and pinning you down?”

 

“Less talking, more fighting !” Bakugou snaps. “I didn’t show myself to you to participate in fucking teatime gossip! Stop half-assing this and put your fucking back into it!”

 

“……”

 

A small flame lights up in his gut.

 

He’s right… what the hell is Shouto doing?

 

He…

 

He may be hesitant and unsure of the path he is currently going down, which is throwing his emotions into turmoil and dulling his movements.

 

But.

 

But as of now, he still carries the pride of being a hero in training.

 

All this while, Bakugou, as his rival and friend, has been going at Shouto with all he’s got. It’s his way of showing his respect and his resolve to stand at the top — by taking every battle, every training opportunity as seriously as possible, with the intention to win.

 

The least Shouto can do… is return the favour.

 

For the first time during the fight, Shouto ignites his blue flames. The tongues of fire ripple in the wind, fanning out around Shouto like a brilliant azure wing, forcing Bakugou to retreat.

 

“Don’t blame me if you die.” Shouto mutters.

 

He twists his foot, and beautiful fractals of ice form on the snowy ground like a trail of soft snow feathers, making its way towards Bakugou. About a metre away from Bakugou, Shouto brings his right hand up in a scooping motion, and the ice emerges as a giant, towering cavern, trapping Bakugou inside, with a small opening in front like an igloo.

 

Shifting his feet, Shouto assumes a stance for stability, and brings his hands together,  with his left hand outstretched and his right hand forming a circle on his left palm — not unlike the once Bakugou uses for his AP shot.

 

“This is the move he uses… for maximum firepower, right?”

 

In his mind, Shouto pulls the trigger.

 

Out from his makeshift ‘barrel’ blasts a fire bullet, tearing through the air towards Bakugou, leaving a misty trail of azure flames in its wake. The moment it flies into the hole in the igloo, Shouto wills the fire to expand rapidly and the ice promptly




Explodes.




This all started on one fine day, when everyone was hanging out in their dorm’s common room doing their own stuff, when Kaminari, a recent convert of the Funky Science Videos on YouTube cult, had turned to him and said, “Hey, Todoroki, ever heard of ‘steam explosions’?”

 

It only escalated from there. When the new year started, Shouto started to focus less on raw power and more on fine-tuning his Quirk to be able to handle more precise tasks. (It was also then that he learnt of the wonders of ice sculpting.) He began watching old videos, analysing his fights in the Sports Festival and recorded training sessions to spot his own mistakes and unlearn bad habits of his.

 

And this was a new move that he had devised in his own time: an explosion caused by the sudden expansion of gas, its effect multiplied due to the enclosed space. An extension of Flashfreeze Heatwave — his final move during his Sports Festival fight with Midoriya last year, effectively. With enough intense heat, the cool air would evaporate all at once, causing a sudden expansion of gas. The enemy in the igloo would be subject to intense pressure, and when the igloo explodes, suffer serious damage from the ice shards.

 

Shouto has to use his ice as a cushion to prevent himself from being blown away. When the mist clears, he can see Bakugou a distance away, buried underneath a heap of snow and only recognisable by an orange and green splotch.

 

For a very brief and unfounded moment, Shouto has the frightening thought that Bakugou was seriously injured. In his excitement to try out his move, he had forgotten that practising alone was very different from actually using it on someone.

 

In that moment, Shouto is transported back into a time when he is staring dazedly at a bruised and broken body, thrown out of bounds of a duelling ring and sliding to the floor, and he is frozen to the ground, unable to run to Bakugou, and suddenly he can’t breathe, there is a sharp whistling sound in his ears, high-pitched enough to drown out the sound of the wind, and the sobs of a mother—

 

How could he have forgotten that fire burns?

 

Shouto takes a step forward, intending to call out to Bakugou, but—

 

But in the next moment, Bakugou gets up, shaking off the snow like a frisky dog shedding water droplets everywhere, and then all is well, Bakugou is okay, his terror is unfounded and Shouto exhales in relief, his warm breath misting the air and vanishing like it never was there in the first place.

 

In fact, Bakugou looked a little bit too energetic for someone who had just taken an explosion to the face. How irksome. Not that Shouto was unhappy with finally downing Bakugou for the first time today — since he had been practising in secret, it was Shouto’s first time using that massive-scale move on someone. Ergo, Bakugou should not have seen it before and therefore would have not way to counter it… and yet he had managed to shake it off like it was nothing.

 

He had even made sure to counter Bakugou’s godly instincts (seeing then moving by reflex) by masking his attack with the igloo, but it looks like Bakugou had suspected the ice wall was not for buying time but was hiding an attack, and had his guard up. (Again, godly instincts and judgement.) And so, he had not tried to blast through the ice wall as per his usual full frontal attack tactic, but probably dug a hole in the snow as cover, thus tanking through the shockwave and avoiding the brunt of the attack.

 

No, wait. Shouto had even made sure to lure Bakugou into a spot downwind of him so that his fire would work; surely Bakugou had noticed that too? And yet he had not made the decision to retreat and stood his ground… Was it to gauge the firepower of Shouto’s attack? As expected of one of the two juggernauts of Class 2-A. What terrifying combat prowess.

 

In fact, from where Shouto is standing warily a distance away, he can see Bakugou giving him a manic grin.

 

Or, as everyone in Class 2-A calls it, Bakugou’s Trademark™ 3 Dollar Smile.

 

“Heh. Heh heh heh heh AHAHAHAAhahahahahahaHA! What the hell! You sneaky bastard, where were you hiding that shit all along?!”

 

“That’s a new move that I made up… I haven’t perfected it yet, so it’s not like I was hiding it on purpose…”

 

“WHAT’S THAT?” Bakugou yells over the wind.

 

“Like I said, it’s not like—”

 

“SPEAK LOUDER!”

 

“....... I’m coming.”

 

Shouto bends forward, and sensing the change in the mood, Bakugou also shifts into a stance mirroring Shouto’s. Then, as if receiving a signal, the two of them charge forward at the same time, Shouto using his ice to push him forward and Bakugou using his explosions to propel himself across the air.

 

Contact in three.

 

Two.

 

One—

 

But just before the point of impact,

 

Shouto

 

slips

 

on his own ice

 

and falls---

 

WHAT.

 

Just before he hits the ground, Shouto performs an ukemi; one of the first basic moves his father taught him in order to break a fall, the movements drilled into his body until they became almost second nature.

 

Extend your arms and use the flat of your palms to cushion your fall. And then, when you hit the ground, direct the force of the fall into your arms, and push into a forward roll and get onto your feet again.

 

…Which would have turned out perfect, if it were not for Bakugou.

 

Because of the trip, he had essentially ducked, causing Bakugou’s explosion to miss him by a hair, which was good. Following which, however, Shouto’s forward momentum from the ukemi brings him to headbutt Bakugou in the stomach, which would have been even better, had Shouto not felt like his neck had been snapped in two by the force and the angle of that impact.

 

Feeling like a certain magical girl , Shouto is too sore and dizzy to react as the two of them drop to the ground like a sack of potatoes, his face landing on Bakugou’s chest ( Tiddies , Kaminari’s voice resounds in Shouto’s head) and effectively suffocating him.

 

And then, it happens.

 

Throughout the whole battle, Shouto was careful not to let his bracelet anywhere near Bakugou’s because of the close-contact rule. Bakugou had done the same, in respect of their duel (read: one-sided beat-up). That is, until Shouto crashed into Bakugou.

 

Both of their bracelets beep in sync and flash green.

 

…Well that was a thing.

 

But that’s not the end of it yet! Oh, no.

 

While they were still trying to untangle their limbs from each other, suddenly a force wrapped around them and they found themselves unable to move!

 

Shouto jerks against his bonds in futility — stiff and inflexible, their restraints felt like they were stuck to Shouto’s body… Shouto forces himself to calm down, raising his head (from where it lay on Bakugou’s chest) to inspect the restraints closer.

 

“This is… tape?!” He exclaims.

 

“Heck yes!” A voice pipes up from a bush near them. “We got ‘em!”

 

The bush quivers, before parting to reveal a grinning Ashido. She climbs out of her hiding spot and hoists her big-barreled gun onto her shoulder, giving Shouto a thumbs up. Or was it more accurate to say she was giving the person behind Shouto a thumbs up?

 

“Well? Well? How was my sniping? Wasn’t it great?”

 

“Perfect timing!” Ashido’s teammate answers. “Mixing your acid with water was a brilliant idea!”

 

Ah. Shouto understands now.

 

Ashido had mixed a melting acid into her water canister, and sniped the ice beneath Shouto’s feet as he was running towards Bakugou. The acid melted the ice, creating a solution not unlike soapy water, which the unsuspecting Shouto had then proceeded to slip on, and fall down.

 

Even with his friction-enhancing boots, for him to trip on his own Quirk… how embarrassing. Shouto notes this down as another mistake to reflect on later.

 

“Wheeeew! Tripping up two of our top-ranked classmates feels so good!” Ashido says. She interlocks her fingers and extends her arms outward in a long stretch.

 

Then dropping her arms to her side, and rubbing the barrel of her (water) gun lovingly, she says,

 

“Now let’s tie them up tighter than Midoriya’s All Might booty shorts and riddle them with (water) bullets!”

 

Bakugou actually does a spit-take at that.

 

Shouto knows because he is literally lying on Bakugou, with Shouto straining his neck muscles to keep himself off Bakugou (to breathe) and Bakugou lying face up, not trying very hard to keep Shouto off him as he snickers, shoulders heaving up and down in silent laughter.

 

“Is… it really that funny?” Shouto asks, genuinely curious.

 

“Shut up, and hell yeah it is!” Bakugou manages to get out, before dissolving into fits of silent laughter again, repeating the words ‘fuckin’ booty shorts’ and ‘the thing is he actually does own a pair’ between snorts.

 

For a moment, Shouto is breathless. This isn’t one of Bakugou’s usual smug smirks or cold, menacing grins — this is an actual, genuine smile. To see Bakugou’s beautiful face without any frown marring it… he stares at Bakugou for about the time it takes for a butterfly to flap its wings, before letting the topic and his head drop, resting it back on Bakugou’s chest in a more comfortable manner.

 

“Yesterday's enemy is today's friend, huh…” He murmurs. “Well, in this case, it’s less of a ‘yesterday’ and more of a ‘two minutes ago’…”

 

And on a completely different (side) note, with his ear pressed to Bakugou’s chest, he can tell that Bakugou’s heart is beating really fast.

 

Huh. Leftover adrenaline?

 

“Hey, it is not like I like being tied up either.” Bakugou retorts. Contrary to what his heart rate suggests, his voice is steady and contemplative. He resumes his efforts in yanking on the tape bonds, prompting Shouto to wriggle to find a more comfortable position to place his arms, and in turn, his head.

 

“Hey— you— you shithead, stop moving around so much!”

 

Shouto resists the strong urge to roll his eyes. They were clearly on the same page here, so what was the point of insulting him?

 

“Holycrapholycrapholycrap!” Ashido pats her thighs frantically, as if in search of something, before sighing and hanging her head in dejection. “Ok, when I get back I’m definitely adding pockets to my suit. And attaching a camera to my suit. Permanently.”

 

“Heh, don’t even bother.” Sero jokes. “This is a once in a lifetime event, y’know? The next time it happens, hell would have frozen over.”

 

“I know, right?”

 

The two of them stop right beside Shouto and Bakugou, and for a while there is silence as the four of them stare at each other, unmoving.

 

Ashido is the first to break the silence:

 

“Y’know, I suddenly have the urge to bury them in the snow. You know how — like you do with sand.”

 

“Whoa, that’s a good idea. Prevents Todoroki from carelessly melting the snow too, with the cardboard and all.”

 

Well, even though the two of them were saying such stuff, they did not move an inch from where they were standing. Though the provocation was enough for Bakugou to give them a scathing glare. Shouto squeezes his hand and gives him a warning glance.

 

“Eh… I thought if we taunted them to attack first, it would be easier to predict their timing and counterattack, but they’re just lying there staring at us creepily…” Ashido says, shifting her feet. “This is kinda boring.”

 

“Tut, tut, Ashido.” Sero says, shaking his finger. “Ya gotta learn from the expert. Right now, where d’you think we’re standing?”

 

“Uh, in a pile of snow?”

 

“The answer: Upwind. That is, in respect to Todoroki’s fire side. See, can’t you feel the wind on your back?”

 

“Ahhhh. In other words, if Flamey Man tries to torch us the wind would only blow it back in his face!”

 

“Bingo. And since we’re standing on his left side, if he wants to hit us with his ice, the ice would have to go around Bakugou and himself, which would take enough time for us to just… I dunno, blast them with our water guns? Yeah, that sounds about right.

 

“So it’s all up to Bakugou to carry out the attack, yeah? But in this cold weather, and judging by the fact that he’s not attacking before the cold snow leeches the warmth from his hands, he’s definitely run out of firepower.”

 

Below Shouto (oh boy, Shouto never even dreamed a day would come where he could say that), Bakugou rolls his eyes.

 

“Huh.” Ashido tilts her head. “By the way, I just noticed, but Bakugou and Todoroki are both holding hands.”

 

Sero blanches.“Ah, shoot.”

 

Too late, Shouto thinks. With a wicked grin, Bakugou slams his hand down on the snow and sets off an explosion.

 

*

 

When the snow clears, the two of them are already gone.

 

“Aw man. We almost got them too.” Ashido says. She points to the trail of overturned snow in front from them. “Well? You wanna pursue?”

 

“Hmm.” Sero rubs his chin in thought. “If I know Bakugou well, we can expect a counterattack from him in the next few minutes or so, regardless of what we do. What do you think?” He asks out aloud.

 

The comm attached to his ear crackles to life. “Pursuing would be unadvised. It is unknown whether they have other teammates covering their retreat. And from what I gathered, it seems like they cooperated in escaping — there is also the possibility that they are no longer enemies and have teamed up.”

 

“Due to the game rule, you mean?” Sero says, sighing. “Alright, we’ll head over to your position first. Let’s go, Ashido.”

 

“Roger that.” Ashido says.

 

They walk in silence for a while, before Ashido speaks up: “So, what are the odds of Bakugou launching a surprise attack on us on our way back to base?”

 

Sero snorts. “That is also a possibility. For someone with such a loud and flashy Quirk, that guy can be surprisingly quiet when he wants to. Be on your guard.”

 

*

 

Shouto watches as Bakugou explodes yet another stalagmite with his Quirk, the deafening explosion echoing throughout the cave.

 

You’re too loud…

 

He then starts stomping on the debris in much apparent anger, muttering ‘die, die, die, die’ under his breath.

 

This is the third stalagmite already… is he aiming for the number of death or something?

 

After much effort, and pain, and blood and sweat and tears and grunts of “Stop struggling, dammit” “No, you stop struggling.” “Argh, stay still. I’ll do it.”, the two of them had finally torn off the tape and retreated (which Bakugou calls ‘fooling the enemy into thinking we’re retreating, when we’re not actually retreating but devising our counterattack’) (which Shouto calls ‘retreating and planning our next move’) to one of the caves that littered the snowy mountain. Except right now Bakugou was venting his frustration on the poor stalagmites in the cave, like he had a personal vendetta against them and was out to wipe out their whole clan.

 

Speaking of tape…

 

Shouto rubs his arms mournfully — when Bakugou had ripped off the tape, it had made a loud, ‘schhhhhhrip’ sound, accompanied with a small ‘ow’ courtesy of Shouto. Can anyone blame him?

 

He wagers Bakugou had ripped out about fifty percent of his arm hair along with that tape. Okay, maybe he was exaggerating a bit. But that does not mean Shouto cannot hold a grudge against that tape.

 

He narrows his eyes at the roll of tape wrapped around Bakugou’s forearm. “Aren’t you going to throw away the tape?”

 

“Do you see a dustbin anywhere around here, dumbass?” Bakugou snaps.

 

It sounds less convincing when you say it while destroying school property…

 

Shouto had only needed to blink ‘L’ for left in morse for Bakugou to get the message, prompting him to take Shouto’s left hand in his right while he was pretending to struggle against the tape bonds. Warming Bakugou’s hand generated enough nitroglycerin sweat to create an explosion big enough to cover them while they ran- er, made a strategic retreat to the caves.

 

That much was proof that they were able to work as a team, and even communicate using subtle eye blinks and hand squeezes. (By the way, the hand squeezes were just hand squeezes, and not some complicated morse code spelling out ‘KEEP QUIET OR YOU’LL GIVE AWAY THE PLAN’.)

 

Which meant that Bakugou had accepted that he and Shouto were a team now.

 

At that, the little bit of wryness Shouto feels tugs at the corner of his mouth. Back in the dark days of their time as first years, with his extreme tunnel vision for his father, it would have been unthinkable for Shouto to form a team with someone, much less Bakugou.

 

Shouto waits until there is a lull in the destroying and stomping of rocks to speak up again. “Bakugou. Let us come up with a counterattack. You’ve calmed down enough, right?”

 

“Oh, absolutely. I’m totaaaally calm right now. In fact, I’m in the perfect mood for murdering a few shitheads.” He says, cracking his knuckles menacingly.

 

“Great.” Shouto summons an icicle and starts to etch away on the ground.

 

Bakugou frowns. “What the hell are you doing?”

 

“Making a map.” Shouto says as he marks out a cross.

 

“That looks more like a deformed hand than a mountain.”

 

Unwilling to discuss pedanticism for hours long, Shouto ignores the Self-Acclaimed Perfectionist and Major Asshole in favour of moving the conversation along.

 

“We’re currently in one of the caves near the peak of the mountain.” He marks a few other crosses on the map, and circles one of them. “What I expect is for Sero and Ashido to keep a close eye on each of these caves, and ambush us when we exit.”

 

“So we spring an ambush on them instead.” Bakugou says, unclipping a folded white sheet from his belt. He fiddles with it for a while, and it billows out to reveal a cloak big enough for two. “Thermal invisibility cloak. Blocks out heat signals and made for camouflage in snowy conditions. How do you think I managed to ambush you earlier?”

 

Shouto furrows his eyebrows. Did Bakugou always have that piece of support equipment? “Where did you get that from?”

 

Bakugou looks at Shouto like he was an idiot. “The evac shed. Sensei didn’t say anything about a restriction on items you could take from the shed. Though I could only scan a maximum of two guns with my bracelet. Probably to prevent any extras from hogging the guns.”

 

Shouto…did not know that.

 

“You did not know that…” Bakugou says as if reading Shouto’s mind. He sighs. “Forget it. I bet with your stubborn view on what a hero is like, even with an advantage you still would not take it. But let me tell you now: In the field, a villain would not hesitate to capitulate on your weaknesses and decimate you. Scratch that, you have so many weaknesses that a villain wouldn’t even need to know what they are to utterly destroy you.”

 

“Oh? Like what?” Shouto asks, feeling a little insulted.

 

“For one,” Bakugou says, raising his finger, “Your complete dependence on your Quirk. Using only long range attacks from a distance makes you predictable. And your basic movements are too slow — Look, if you actually cared about being a real hero? You’d cover your close-combat weakness by learning martial arts or even hand-to-hand combat like Uraraka, not stagnating your growth by solely focusing on improving your Quirk.

 

“Rather than being limited to only your perspective, your growth would be more than exponential if you gathered other people’s opinions of how you can improve, absorb it, and make it your own.”

 

That stings a little bit too close to home for Shouto. It did not help that it felt a little bit too similar to the words a particular bloodthirsty, knife-wielding villain had told him about a year ago. And what was worse was that while Bakugou was being mercilessly honest, he still held his tongue out of consideration for Shouto.

 

He did not say it out loud, but the words were implied.

 

Did your shitty old man not even teach you such a simple thing during that Spartan training of his?

 

And Shouto hates it, because it is true.

 

He has been slacking off in his training for a while now, ever since he had lost sight of his reason to be a hero. Though if he explained it to Bakugou it would probably sound ridiculous to him. So instead, what comes out of his mouth is:

 

“I see.”

 

There was no correct answer to reply to Bakugou. Because Shouto has not found it yet.

 

For a time frame so short Shouto half-considered putting it to a trick of the light, Bakugou’s facial expression cycles through a multitude of emotions at once: frustration, anger, disappointment, and something that looks so uncharacteristically soft on him that Shouto cannot name, before finally settling on neutral.

 

He clicks his tongue and turns back his attention to the map. The next time he speaks, his tone is insouciant, as if he had not just held a Aizawa-level critic session with Shouto.

 

“Anyway, did you notice it? On those bastards’ ears.”

 

Shouto stares at Bakugou.

 

Is that an olive branch? Because Bakugou doesn’t do olive branches. Heck, he’s more likely to set a branch on fire and poke Todoroki with it, in the name of ‘vampire hunting’ and ‘rightful exorcism’.

 

And as if knowing that Shouto is not going to answer, he continues. “Communication earpieces. In other words, we’re up against more than just Racoon Eyes and Soy Sauce Face. If I were leading the group, I’d have two people set to ambush the cave and two people covering for them.”

 

He snatches the icicle from Shouto and adds a few more lines and circles to the map.

 

“Which is why we’re not going to attack them directly. Instead, we lure them here, where you’ll be waiting to sneak attack them back. Ha. Hopefully you’ll manage to take out one of them before the rest adjust to the situation and start attacking, and by then I’ll join back up with you and beat the heck out of their asses.”

 

“Hmm. But this place… do you mean to…?”

 

Bakugou grips the icicle in his hand and it explodes into pieces. “Naturally.” He growls.

 

“After all, we’re aiming for a perfect win.”

Chapter Text

[...You say that we’re launching a counterattack, but as expected it will be hard to take the initiative from them.]

 

[Mn. With that loud and flashy explosion I set off before, they’ll be on the lookout for other teams as well. Their guard will definitely be up.]

 

[......Well?]

 

[Hah?]

 

[I myself have a few ideas, but… 

 

…Take it as an apology for my earlier lack of enthusiasm. I’ll go with whatever you suggest.]

 

[Tsk. I don’t need your stupid apology.]

 

[...]

 

[...]

 

[...]

 

[*sigh* Archimedes.]

 

[...Huh?]

 

[Archimedes once said, ‘Give me a big enough lever, and I can move the Earth.’

 

So that’s what we’re going to do.







We’re going to move the Earth.]

 


 

[Location: Avalanche Zone]

[Time left until end of Heroics Lesson: 1 hour]

 

They are currently staking out a cave. To be exact, the cave Todoroki and Bakugou are seeking refuge in.

 

To be honest, there were much easier targets they could search for, but due to their leader’s insistence (“This is no longer a simple competition. This is a battle of honour!”) and their other member’s extreme straightforwardness, complete with hand-chopping (“Imagine that everyone else is a villain. You can’t just pick and choose which villains you’d capture and which villains you’d let go, can you? That goes against my ideal of a true hero!”), the other two members ended up going with the flow, and here they were. Staking out a cave like cops in those cops-and-robbers dramas.

 

Sero shifts in his position at the cave’s entrance. “They’re not coming out of the caves,” he says. “Are you sure they’re in here?”

 

Their leader’s voice crackles from the receiver in his ear. “Positive. If I were them, the optimal location for a temporary base-slash-lookout would be at the ledge formed by that overhang to your right. However, everyone else also knows that, due to our past training experience at the Avalanche Zone — so naturally, it would be the first place anyone would check to flush out people in hiding. Ergo, their second choice would be this cave here, and hence their first choice.”

 

Beside him, Ashido whistles. “That’s some high level IQ stuff right there. As expected of Yaomomo!”

 

“Ah, thank you.” The receiver falls silent, and the two of them conjure up the image of their vice-president’s flattered, blushing face.

 

Yaomomo… The two of them think with warm, fluffy feelings in their heart.

 

“More importantly,” she continues, “It’s about time they made their move. What’s the situation?”

 

“Negative.” Sero grouses, fiddling with the thermal imaging goggles on his head. “Like I said, the two heat signatures inside the cave haven’t moved for a while now. In fact, I’m thinking maybe it’s all part of their trap—”

 

Boom.

 

In the far distance, an explosion sounds, quickly followed by ominous rumbling.

 

“…”

 

“...”

 

“What… was that?” It was less of a question and more of a statement.

 

“We’ve got a problem!”

 

Iida’s voice crackles over the comm. Their fourth team member and lookout, Iida was originally stationed at the peak of the mountain to act as a lookout for other teams. For him to abandon his station and run down the mountain slope towards them…

 

Behind him, large, white billowing clouds nipped at his heels as he ran for his life.

 

“This is…”

 

“Bakugou-kun caused an explosion at the peak of the mountain and triggered a mass avalanche!”

 

“...WHAT?!”

 

“My deepest apologies! I don’t know how, but somehow he managed to sneak past Sero-kun and me!”

 

Yaoyorozu was keeping a lookout on the overhang above Sero and Ashido’s position; but the moment she saw Iida running down the mountain, she turns around and jumps down from the overhang.

 

“Sero-san!”

 

What confronted her, however, was a towering ice wall that stretched on for miles, ice spikes jutting out like a wall of thorns, preventing them from going any closer and shutting them out from the only way down the mountain.

 

Beside Yaoyorozu, Ashido curses. She presses her hands to the spikes and immediately the ice starts hissing, melting from her acid. “Sero’s trapped on the other side and I don’t think I’ll be able to melt this in time!” She says worriedly. “What do we do? Should we go around it? 

 

“Let me—” “PLEASE MOVE ASIDE!”

 

Yaoyorozu and Ashido dive to the side just as Iida slams his armour-clad leg into the ice wall, creating an opening wide enough for the three of them to rush through. On the other side they meet up Sero, who immediately runs up to them.

 

“Where’s Todoroki-san?” Yaoyorozu asks.

 

“That guy blasted away all the traps I set at the entrance of the cave and immediately ran down the mountain.” Sero says. “But he couldn’t have gotten far!”

 

“Ugh… for both attacks to coincide so neatly… so they are working together.” Ashido mutters.

 

An avalanche was not something that could be taken lightly, but with their specific combination of Quirks, it was hardly a life-or-death situation for the four of them. Especially since all of them had prior experience with the Avalanche Zone thanks to Aizawa-sensei and Thirteen.

 

In other words… 

 

“‘It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.’ Those were the words of the strategist Sun Tzu. If we can take the initiative, we can surely win.” Yaoyorozu says.

 

But, if this is a trap, then… 

 

She narrows her eyes.

 

…No. With our difference in numbers, surely…!

 

The object Yaoyorozu was creating finally pops out of her back — since it was a little large, it took a while before she could finish making it.

 

“Everyone, please get on! We’ll have to change our plans and attack Todoroki-san four-to-one, before Bakugou-san has time to catch up! Iida-san, please give us a boost!”

 

Silence.

 

“Ah…”

 

“Uh…” 

 

“That is…”

 

The three of them stare at Yaoyorozu and her [Creation], dumbfounded.

 

A normal sled or toboggan big enough for four people to slide down the mountain would have sufficed. 

 

But. 

 

This kind of common sense only applied to normal people.

 

Yaoyorozu Momo was a lady of size and magnitude, and most importantly, grandeur. 

 

And so, it was as if she had taken the normal convention of ‘snow transportation’ and proceeded to commit defenestration, and after which, presented to them what her new definition which she had been hiding behind her back all along:

 

“A sleigh…” Ashido says, dumbfounded.

 

“Certainly, it is a sleigh.” Iida says.

 

“...Has Christmas come early this year or something…” Sero says.

 

“Ah, no, this is because… Yesterday night I happened to be reading an English storybook about Christmas, you see!” Yaoyorozu replies, a little flustered. “It was the first thing that popped into my mind!”

 

No, I’m pretty sure you just wanted to ride a sleigh, didn’t you… Ashido and Sero both think.

 

“No, wait. This is perfect.”

 

“Huh?” Ashido and Sero both whip their heads to look at Iida, who is staring at the sleigh with deep emotion and longing.

 

Could it be that the ‘young master’ Iida has never gone out to play on a snow day, and wants to make up for his lost childhood by riding on a sleigh?

 

“I’ve always…”

 

With hands grasping onto the reins (yes, the sleigh came with reins), Iida says, with deep joy,

 

“...Wanted to try pulling a sleigh.”

 

“WHY.”  

 

“Ah, but with my engines, it would be better if I pushed the sleigh from the back… Oh, what a miscalculation!”

 

“You can rest assured, Iida-san. For I took that into account and created handholds at the back of the sleigh for you!” Yaoyorozu says.

 

“No… that’s not the problem here.”

 

“Come on! Let us hasten our speed, everyone!” Iida says. His hands fly in a robotic, chopping motion as he herds the three of them onto the sleigh, saying, “Fasten your seatbelts, everyone!”

 

Yaoyorozu seizes command of the front seat, grabbing onto the (empty) reins with no small amount of ardent fervor. Ashido gets in next, squeezing beside Yaoyorozu. 

 

“Hey, Yaomomo,” she asks, “What’d you create the reins for anyway?”

 

“This… this is for verisimilitude! As you know my Creation relies on my own knowledge of sleighs, so it is natural that I would create a set of reins to go with it!”

 

“Yes, yes, of course it is.” Sero says placatingly as he climbs into the back seat and straps himself in. 

 

You just wanted to try holding the reins, right? Went unspoken.

 

The moment they give the all-clear, Iida grabs the handholds attached to the back of the sleigh and revs up his Engine Quirk. The sleigh starts off smoothly, and soon pans out into a full blown rollercoaster-bumpy-teacup-ride, the wind streaking past their face at what feels like a hundred kilometres per hour.

 

“We’ve effectively created the world’s first human-driven sleigh, fuelled by eco-friendly orange juice and with ten times the horsepower of a normal fuel-driven sleigh.” Sero mutters. He spreads out his arms. “I may now receive my prize.”

 

“No, instead of a sleigh, it feels more like I’m pushing a trolley at a supermarket, but at a very high speed! Ah, but please stay clear of the center so that you don’t block my vision!”

 

“Ahahaha! I love it!” Ashido says. “Hey, hang onto me!” With Yaoyorozu securing her ankles, she leans over the edge of the sleigh and starts spraying the path ahead of them with her acid, melting the snow and increasing their speed even further. 

 

Trees and rocks whizz past them at an incredible speed, and in the distance they can see the background of the rest of USJ inch closer and closer, and then— 

 

“There!” Yaoyorozu shouts. She points to a blur in the distance. “We’ve caught up to Todoroki-san!”

 

Ashido widens her eyes. “No, wait— but that is—!”

 

“Impossible!” Sero cries out in disbelief. “How can this be…!”

 

“He’s—”

 

“RIDING A SLEIGH AS WELL??????!!!!” 

 

“... Ah, incidentally… the book that I was reading… was borrowed from Todoroki-san…” 

 

Do you rich people not possess any common sense????!!!

 

Yaoyorozu passes the reins to Ashido and stands up. Then, creating a javelin in her hand, she says, “Ashido-san, direct our course by creating a path with your acid! Sero-san, if you see an opening, tape our sleighs together! Once we’re stable, give me the signal, and I’ll jump onto his sleigh and intercept him!”

 

“Copy that!”

 

As they draw near, Yaoyorozu levels her javelin at Todoroki, determination crossing her face.

 

Todoroki-san… to me, you are my friend, but also an extremely strong hero. Right here and right now, let us determine the difference between our levels!

 


 

This wasn’t in the script.

 

The sentence runs through Shouto’s mind as he drives the sleigh, his right foot channeling an ice path for his sleigh to follow.

 

I’ll cause a distraction, Bakugou says. Buy enough time for me to return and launch a pincer attack, Bakugou says.

 

Distraction— his— ass! This was a full-blown avalanche! There was no way this was a scheduled avalanche triggered by the Avalanche Zone mechanism.

 

No, no matter what, Shouto knows one thing:

 

Whatever happened at the peak of the mountain, Bakugou definitely had a hand in causing it. 

 

His intuition says so.

 

He sighs.

 

Well, it can’t be helped. 

 

Yup.

 

Guess I’ll throw him in the river later.

 

Channelling this thought as his sole motivation, he metaphorically floors the gas, speeding over bumps and rocks, dodging bushes, trees and the occasional javelin thrown by Yaoyorozu.

 

Yaoyorozu, Iida, Sero, Ashido. Four against one is not ideal… I have to avoid a full-on confrontation.

 

Shouto flings up a curved ice wall and his sleigh banks right sharply. Four astonished faces speed past him, before Iida comes to his senses and yanks on the sleigh, directing them back on course.

 

His prediction was right: Iida has problems with sharp turns and braking. 

 

With that in mind, Shouto uses his ice to form a zigzagging path, changing direction every 3 seconds. And then, to make it even more difficult for them to draw near, he’d occasionally toss fireballs behind him, forcing them to duck and weave.

 

Is this what it feels like to be a villain? Was this what Donkey Kong felt when he had to keep throwing barrels at Mario?

 

He changes direction and heads towards a thicket, with Yaoyorozu and her team hot on his heels. They plunge through the dense mass of trees, mindless of scratching branches and falling snow clumps, pulling out of it battered but still going fast.

 

What none of them expected, however, was there to be a fallen tree blocking the exit to the thicket.

 

There’s no time to brake…!

 

Making a split-second decision, Shouto crouches down and springs up and out of his sleigh, ignoring the cries of astonishment behind him.

 

Airborne, he breathes in the wintry mountain air, relishing the sting in his throat. 

 

From this height, he can see the rest of the USJ in the distance — among other things, the giant lake of the Flood Zone that bordered the Avalanche Zone, the dense mass of tropical flora of Jungle Zone, and, when looking up, the patched-up ceiling that All Might once smashed through.

 

In that instant, Shouto felt as if the shackles weighing him down had slipped through his ankles and disintegrated. His family and his current dilemma no longer felt so pressing, and he no longer felt like his future ahead was dark. In his mind, he can hear Bakugou whispering to him.

 

“Stop half-assing everything and put your fucking back into it.”

 

The ice sleigh beneath him crashes into the fallen tree and shatters into pieces.

 

He can hear his mother’s words calling to him, a gentle smile on her face.

 

“Are you enjoying hero school, Shouto?”

 

And then, the clouds in his mind clear, and all that is left is but one thought.

 

Ah, I really am alive.

 

Shouto waves his hand outwards, like a pianist running his hands down a keyboard, preparing to orchestrate music that would bring the whole hall to their knees. Instantly, spirals of cold frost coalesce and twine together, forming an entirely new ice sleigh. He lands lightly on it just as the sleigh touches the ground, and he speeds off again.

 

CRNCHHH— CRACK.

 

There is a bone-crunching sound, and Shouto throws a look over his shoulder just in time to see Yaoyorozu’s sleigh bash through the fallen tree like a wrecking ball, sending splinters of tree flying every-which-way.

 

Hey. Isn’t Yaoyorozu’s Quirk too cheat-level. Was that sleigh reinforced with titanium plating or something?

 

As if following his trail of thought, Shouto senses something coming towards him and instinctively summons a large shard of ice that shoves his sleigh to the left — soon after, a javelin shoots past his right side, missing his sleigh by a hair’s length and drilling a hole in the icy ground.

 

Launched at that speed and power, had the javelin crashed into his sleigh, the impact would have definitely sent him flying.

 

Scary. Too scary… 

 


 

“Ah… I missed again.” Yaoyorozu says. 

 

She drops her hand to her side. She was standing up on the sleigh, like an experienced surfer poised on a surfboard. “As I thought, it is hard to lock onto Todoroki-san because he is very skilled in his judgement, use of his Quirk and body flexibility.”

 

“What’s with that Quirk of his?! Even Yaoyorozu has to take time to create stuff, but Todoroki can just create a new sleigh with- with just a whoosh and kapiiiing of his hand? Isn’t his Quirk too cheat-like!” Ashido complains. “And him occasionally throwing fireballs behind and making us dodge them… this isn’t a highly-competitive-guaranteed-to-break-friendships go-kart racing game!!”

 

“Nonononono, don’t you think there are bigger problems here! Like how fast we are travelling — it’ll going to be life-threatening if we crashed into something, you know! And Yaoyorozu, please get down! Standing up when we’re going this fast is too dangerous!” Sero yelps from where he is plastered against his seat, face riffling from the super acceleration of Iida’s engines.

 

“So this is what they call… a backseat driver…”

 

“A backseat driver that cares for their life!! Don’t you thin— AAAAAAAA TEN O’ CLOCK, IIDA!”

 

The bastard Todoroki, taking advantage of Iida’s narrow line of sight to make stupid turns!

 

Iida swerves, causing everyone to jerk to the left, and then to the right, following Todoroki onto a rocky cliff trail, spiralling around and down the mountain.

 

Ashido peers over the side. Her eyes follow the lined edge of the cliff trail where cold stone meets air. One wrong move would mean a steep drop into the Flood Zone below, since Yuuei didn’t believe in safety fences or nets of the sort.

 

“Uh… be careful, Iida.”

 

“Of course! Who do you think I am!” Iida cries from where he is at the back of the sleigh. “I am one-hundred-percent confident in my driving abilities!”

 

“That’s funny, because I’m pretty sure you said this was your first time driving a sleigh!!” Sero retorts.

 

“Like I said, it is much like pushing a trolley at the supermarket!”

 

“I beg to differ but — GAH! IN FRONT! LOOK IN FRONT!”

 

The path ahead led to a sharp right turn.

 

In front of them, Todoroki reaches out and snaps his fingers. Beneath his sleigh skis, frost unfurls, growing into hardened ice that extended the cliff’s edge. He then uses the extra space provided by the ice flooring to make the right turn, melting it as he went along.

 

But—

 

No, no matter how you look at it, it was obviously impossible for them!

 

“We’re going too fast! If we don’t slow down we’re going to go off the cliff!” Sero shouts.

 

“No! It’s the other way around — we need to speed up further!” Iida shouts back.

 

“EXCUSE ME?!!”

 

Iida accelerates even further, the madman, his engine flames flaring blue as he activates his Recipro Burst, zooming the sleigh towards the bend. And just as they reach the bend— 

 

He slams his leg to the ground and yanks sideways on the sleigh’s handles, causing the sleigh to pivot and skid a full 90 degrees, forming a horizontal with the road. 

 

“N-NANI?!???? KANSEI DORIFTO!?!??!?!?!”

 

Sero screams. Ashido laughs. Yaoyorozu applauds.

 

Now perpendicular to the road, the sleigh continues to skid, nearing dangerously close to the edge of the bend — but just before the skis touch the cliff edge Iida kicks off the ground and the sleigh jackknifes and belts forward, speeding off after Todoroki once again.

 

Sero is still hyperventilating.

 

“That. Was. Awesome.” Ashido says in an awed voice. “Let’s do that again!”

 

“No!” Sero says sharply. “Let us not! Do that! Again! Ever.” He hisses.

 

They were on a cliff road so there was nowhere for Todoroki to swerve to dodge. 

 

Sero presses a hand to his forehead, sighing. “Why don’t,” he says, “We stick to the original plan, and get Yaoyorozu over there.”

 

He shoots out two streams of tape and they latch onto Todoroki’s sleigh. Fastening them together to form a makeshift bridge, he gestures to Yaoyorozu. 

 

“Please go ahead.” Sero says dryly.

 

Yaoyorozu nods. “Then, I’ll be off.”

 

She hops onto the tape and starts to run across, forming an iron pole in her right hand. Spinning it around, she leaps and lands on the back of Todoroki’s sleigh, swinging the pole and aiming for his head.

 

Todoroki, of course, was not idle — the moment Yaoyorozu landed on the sleigh he had turned around, shocked, and ducked.

 

They continue like that for a while, with Todoroki bobbing and weaving to avoid her attacks, and Yaoyorozu aiming to break his concentration and push him off the sleigh. 

 

As she pressured him by slowly increasing her onslaught of attacks, it soon became harder to predict her movements and avoid them. In her next swing, Todoroki raises his hands up in an X-shape, ice shards emerging from his wrists like twin gauntlet blades to guard against her iron pole.

 

Clang!

 

Yaoyorozu jumps back, iron pole raised in a defensive stance. She looks warily at Todoroki. 

 

“That’s a new move. As expected of Todoroki-san, you’re well-versed in close combat at well.”

 

“I can’t tell her it’s just something I thought up right on the spot…” Todoroki looks away and mutters to himself.

 

Todoroki stands up and freezes his legs to the sleigh for stability. Since his right leg is the medium for directing the sleigh, that leaves the rest of his body free to concentrate on going on the offense.

 

He creates an ice sword in his hand and clashes with Yaoyorozu, matching her blow for blow. She backs away and grabs a matryoshka doll grenade on her belt and lobs it at him. He shoots a bolt of ice at it, freezing it before it can explode. 

 

Taking advantage of the distraction, she closes in on Todoroki, aiming her pole at his right shoulder. Todoroki lets her take the opening, wincing as the pain makes him drop his sword on reflex. The moment she hits him, he grabs her pole and sends a burst of heat through it, forcing her to release her grip on her weapon as well, and retreat.

 

Todoroki tosses the pole out of the sleigh and it lands somewhere on the snowy banks, soon swallowed up by the avalanche as the sleigh drove on.

 

With both of their weapons lost, it looked like the two of them had traded equal blows.

 

However, Todoroki was slightly worse off.

 

Part of his concentration and Quirk was divided to controlling the sleigh’s path. As a result, his breathing was rough and uneven, and sweat was beading his forehead, whereas Yaoyorozu did not show any outward signs of fatigue. He was not sure if his stamina could hold out in a fight against her here, especially if Yaoyorozu used guerilla hit-and-run tactics to exhaust him.

 

Fortunately, he only needed to stall for time.

 

Like mini-firecrackers popping, a series of small explosions sound in the distance.

 

The backup was finally here.

 


 

In the far distance, they could tell that Something or Someone was approaching their sleighs at a very great speed.

 

It was obscured by the clumps of snow it threw up in its wake as it barreled towards them. 

 

But, as it neared the two groups in combat, they could barely make out two figures within the snow cloud. The two figures were wrestling with each other as they rolled down the mountain slope, wreathed in green electricity and smoke.

 

Midoriya, and Bakugou.

 

What— what were they doing. Is that hair pulling? And biting?? Shouto cannot decide whether they were engaging in a deathmatch or an ancient animalistic mating ritual — or maybe it was both. Hmm… well… if Bakugou was into that sort of thing, then Shouto too… 

 

The victor is quickly decided with Bakugou German suplexing Midoriya into the snow — nice move! Shouto gasps in approval.

 

Moments later, Midoriya’s buried figure is swallowed up by the avalanche, never to be seen again.

 

“Midoriya, out.” Aizawa’s voice crackles from a speaker nearby.

 

There is a moment of silence for Midoriya.

 

And then Bakugou lands on Yaoyorozu’s sleigh, completely disrupting the mood.

 

“Alllllll right.” He says with a growl, cracking his knuckles menacingly. “Let’s clear out this lot, then we’ll be done with the spring cleaning.”

 

“Bakugou!” Shouto yells. “What took you so long! What were you doing?”

 

“What were you doing?” He shoots back. He gestures at Yaoyorozu’s team, his words dripping with sarcasm. “Taking out four people?”

 

As if on cue, Aizawa’s droning voice continues over the speakers.

 

“Satou, Kirishima, Jirou, Tokoyami, out.”

 

“…Taking them out with an avalanche is a little over-the-top, don’t you think?”

 

“If they can’t even deal with one measly natural disaster, then they really shouldn’t be calling themselves heroes!”

 

That disaster was anything but natural, though… it was made by you . And you’re a thousand times more dangerous than any natural disaster! Just look at what you did to Midoriya!

 

Bakugou squints at Shouto. “Did you just mutter something about me under your breath?”

 

Shouto looks back at Bakugou innocently.

 

“Let me handle this! It’s my turn to shine!” Ashido yells excitedly. She tears off her seatbelt and steps up, stretching her shoulders and cracking her neck. Shouto recalls that a few months ago, she signed up for a course in Muay Thai and, with her lean body and flexible legs, aced the final exam.

 

She cracks her knuckles and grins wolfishly at Bakugou, who bares his teeth back at her. Then, she launches herself at Bakugou, aiming a roundhouse kick at him.

 

Bakugou leans back.

 

The kick swings over his head.

 

And then, a passing overhanging tree branch knocks Ashido off the sleigh.

 

“Ashidoooooooooo!!”

 

Ashido tumbles onto the snowy ground, and quickly disappears under the rushing avalanche of snow.

 

Aizawa’s voice crackles from the USJ-wide speaker. “Ashido, out.”

 

There is a moment of silence for Ashido.

 

Yaoyorozu glares at Shouto.

 

“How terrible… We shall avenge Ashido’s death!”

 

She’s not dead… Or rather, she was the one that outed herself!

 

Not privy to his thoughts, Yaoyorozu reaches for the (water) gun attached to her belt the same time Shouto does. No time to focus on Bakugou now. The two of them take aim at each other.

 

Shouto, however, does not pull the trigger.

 

“What…?” He mutters in puzzlement.

 

To be precise, the two of them were aiming at each other’s cardboards — their sole weak point and the crux of this war game. But, on Yaoyorozu’s body, were multiple pieces of cardboard.

 

Yaoyorozu’s lips turn up in a smile. “Can you figure out which one is the real one?”

 

“I won’t matter if I hit all of them!” Shouto replies, pressing the trigger. She ducks the stream of water and whips her gun up, shooting multiple bursts of water at Shouto as she runs in a zigzag towards Shouto.

 

Shouto raises his arm towards the incoming streams of water and freezes them; and after a moment of thought, melts the ice fetters on his left foot. Yaoyorozu enters close range and strikes Shouto’s gun with hers, redirecting his aim and at the same time, aiming for the cardboard over his heart. He pivots on his right foot, letting the water pass harmlessly by his left side, and, flicking out the small gun strapped to his right wrist, aims for her face and shoots.

 

Instinctively, Yaoyorozu closes her eyes, and Shouto takes that unguarded moment to splatter water onto the cardboard pieces plastered over Yaoyorozu’s exposed left side.

 

Undeterred, Yaoyorozu wipes away the water and circles behind Shouto, sweeping his left leg from under him, and when he falls, shoots at his chest again. Shouto has no choice but to melt the ice on his right foot and roll to the side to dodge; keeping his right hand on the floor to control the sleigh.

 

A yell of warning gives Yaoyorozu just enough time to switch from attacking Shouto to defending. An instant later, Bakugou slams into Yaoyorozu, knocking her off the ice sleigh. Before she touches the ground, however, a tape wraps around her arm, courtesy of Sero, and he hauls her back onto their own sleigh.

 

It looked like Bakugou had encountered some trouble too, judging by the state of his arms. They were fused together by a sticky, gel-like substance — Ashido’s acid, Shouto presumed, distributed to her teammates who had then used it to hinder Bakugou’s acrobatic movements.

 

Bakugou did not care to explain his abrupt return, merely grunting, “Cliff.”

 

Cliff?

 

…Oh. Right.

 


 

The road ahead led to the edge of a precipice. There was no other path. They’d either have to brake, or take the jump off the cliff. If they braked, the avalanche behind would swallow them up. If they jumped, they would fall all the way down into the Flood Zone.

 

And then there was the problem of Todoroki and Bakugou. With the two of them back together, Yaoyorozu’s team had changed from being the hunters to the hunted. They had to keep a certain distance from their sleigh, lest Bakugou blow up their sleigh.

 

“Ahhhhhh damn it, this must have been their plan all along!” Sero yells, grabbing his hair with his hands.

 

It was your typical game of chicken, played amidst mortal combat against mortal enemies in the snowy mountains. Now all they needed was a red jewel and a rope of icicles… Not!

 

“We have to brake now or it’ll be too late!” Sero yells.

 

“No, not yet!”

 

“What?!” Sero screeches.

 

As team leader, Yaoyorozu makes a split-second decision.

 

“Brake just before we reach the edge!” She commands. “We’ll lure the two of them down the cliff!”

 

“Nonononono, no matter how you at it, that’s insane!”

 

“Since when was our class ever sane?”

 

“...Goddammit, you’re right!”

 

Four metres… three… two… “Now!” Yaoyorozu shouted.

 

Immediately, Iida stomps his foot down and ignites his boosters in the opposite direction. A huge parachute enfolds from Yaoyorozu’s back, billowing out like a sail, causing the whole sleigh to jerk back from the drag. Sero shoots out his tape, latching onto a relatively large rock and pulling, causing the sleigh to swing in a parabola. 

 

Slowly but surely, the sleigh skids and comes to a stop.

 

A distance away, Todoroki and Bakugou zoom past them, driving off the cliff and disappearing from sight.

 

Yaoyorozu pauses in her motion of taking off her seatbelt, and frowns.

 

Strange.

 

Judging from their unperturbed expressions on their faces, they had predicted this would happen. Even though Todoroki could have stopped the sleigh with his ice powers — heck, he could even extend the ice path over the cliff to make a u-turn — he didn’t. Instead, he had followed Bakugou’s example and jumped out the moment the sleigh flew off the cliff, without sparing a glance at them.

 

Had they given up on chasing their team and jumped off, afraid of the avalanche?

 

Or maybe they did not need to look back, because they were already certain of their victory… 

 

Yaoyoruzu feels the blood drain from her face. She shouts to Sero and Iida, “Get away from the sleigh!”

 

Before any of them can even move a muscle, the sleigh explodes.









Somewhere down below, carrying Todoroki as they fly away, Bakugou says with a smug smirk:

 

“Can’t have a race without a finish line now, can we?”

 

“It’s the end of the line for you.”

Chapter Text

Watching Yaoyozoru’s team splash into the waters of the Flood Zone was especially satisfying. Watching the remnants of the avalanche fall into the waters of the Flood Zone was much less so; Shouto is praying that they won’t be charged later for the premeditated deliberately-engineered-avalanche murder of their classmates, or even worse, for the heinous crime of damaging of school property.

 

As they walk around the Flood Zone in search of more victims- er, classmates, Shouto stares silently at Bakugou.

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

It takes a while, but Bakugou finally cracks under his silent gaze.

 

“...What.” Bakugou says, his voice gruff. “Not thankful I covered for you?”

 

Shouto blinks. He shakes his head. Of course he was thankful. Why would Bakugou think that? What could he say to get that across… Oh, what was that phrase Kirishima would say in this kind of situation?

 

“Thanks… bruh.”  

 

Bakugou stops and gives Shouto an odd look. “Yeah, you can thank me by never saying that again.”

 

Shouto cocks his head. Did he remember it wrongly? Should he have said, ‘homie’ instead? ‘Ya saved my ass, thanks my homie?’, or something to that effect? Teenage lingo sure is tough.

 

…No, he was getting off-topic.

 

“I was just,” he starts to say, “...Recalling something.”

 

“And there you go, changing the topic just like that. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, people don’t want to hear your fancy elaborate soliloquies?”

 

“A while back.” Shouto continues, a bit louder this time, “You wrote a death poem.”

 

“...Huh? Are you blind? I’m alive and in front of you right now. Why would I ever think of dying?!”

 

Shouto recites, word for word, the ink-painted characters he read on that crinkled and age-spotted sheet of rice paper that day:

 

Does it matter?

There is nothing to reflect on —

Death is the end.

— Bakugou Katsuki

 

He pauses.

 

“It was very… straightforward.”

 

“Todoroki. I’ve been saying this for a while, and I’ll say it again: Go have a checkup on your brain. There’s seriously something wrong with it.”

 

“And the reason I was able to recall it… was because it flashed through my mind when I heard an explosion. I turned around, saw the avalanche coming towards me, and suddenly my life flashed before my eyes.”

 

Bakugou rolls his eyes. “Ah, finally getting to the main point, I see.”

 

Shouto shoots him an admonishing look. “You set off an avalanche. That could have hit me, who also happens to be your teammate. Adding that to the fact that I had to fend off four of our classmates on my own, all of which happen to have extremely competent Quirks, and at the same time lure them to the cliff hanging over the Flood Zone… What were you thinking? This isn’t a free for all!!”

 

Bakugou shrugs nonchalantly. “Obviously, I had faith that you would be able to outrun them.”

 

Shouto remains unmoved. “You could have been planning to use me as bait and abandoned me to the avalanche.”

 

“But I didn’t.” Bakugou says, scowling. “What the hell, why would I betray you when you’re on my team?!”

 

“Says the guy who once threw me into a lake during training. I have half a mind to do the same to you right now.” Shouto replies.

 

“You were on fire! The rescue dummies were on fire! Did you want us to fail the fucking test?!” Bakugou yells.

 

Shouto crosses his arms. “Well, thankfully, I was able to hold them off long enough for you to return. But what if it was someone else? I doubt they would have been able to drive a sleigh and deal with Yaoyorozu’s attacks at the same time.”

 

Bakugou nods his head. “True, anyone would have a hard time fighting Yaoyorozu with nothing but an ice popsicle.”

 

“Sword. It’s an ice sword.”

 

Bakugou snorts. “Sure, and the ice cats that you make actually look like cats and not some grotesque Lovecraftian monster. Where did you learn such fancy sword skills anyway?”

 

“…My father. I’ve had some basic lessons in kendo.” 

 

Shouto chooses not to elaborate on how he was intimately acquaintanced with the wooden shinai, having being beaten up by it numerous times while growing up.

 

“Ha.” Bakugou says triumphantly. “So you did listen to my advice.” His smug smile deepens, and he shoots Shouto a I-told-you-so expression. “See what I mean? With your ice popsicle, your options of fighting have now drastically increased.”

 

“Ice sword. Coming from someone who resorted to brute force via throwing bombs at the enemy, it doesn’t sound very convincing.” Shouto says.

 

“I didn’t throw bombs.” Bakugou says, scowling. “What the hell do you think I am, Donkey Kong? I taped my grenades to the side of the sleigh and tied a string to the pins. Once we jumped off the cliff, I pulled them out.”

 

Although Shouto is very much aware of the brains lying under the brawn that made up Bakugou, he still felt a shiver of elation run through his veins, happy to be privy to the inner workings of Bakugou’s mind, and happy that Bakugou thought him close enough to bother explain to Shouto what he was thinking.

 

Of course, Shouto does not say that. “Huh. Despite your demeanour, you really do love elaborate setups… You sure have some strange hobbies.”

 

Bakugou, however, is not privy to the inner workings of Shouto’s mind, and so he shoots back an appropriately snappy rejoinder: “Hey. Oi. I don’t want to hear that from someone who plays with ice sculptures in his free time.”

 

That was uncalled for. “It’s to train my Quirk!”

 

“Oh, so is that why you invite Kirishima to help you carve ice sculptures? To train your Quirks?” Bakugou says, mimicking Shouto’s voice.

 

Shouto frowns. “Why are you so agitated? I don’t see—” 

 

Ping. A lightbulb turns on in his head. “ Ahhhh, I see.”

 

Bakugou turns to look at Shouto at the abrupt change in tone. “What?” He says suspiciously.

 

He gives Bakugou a sympathetic look. “Is it because you’re hiding that you don’t have any normal hobbies that you’re this defensive?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

Shouto shakes his head knowingly. “Don’t worry, I won’t judg—”

 

“I don’t have weird hobbies!” Bakugou roars. “I’m not like you!”

 

Shouto nods understandingly. “You can trust me. My lips are sealed.”

 

It is a miracle that the buzzer sounds off just then, signalling the end of the training exercise, because it looked like Bakugou was just seconds away from making Shouto swim with the fishes in the Flood Zone.

 


 

“Alright,” Aizawa-sensei says the moment everyone is gathered, “Let’s cut to the chase and give out the individual reports.”

 

The only teams left in the exercise were the paired Bakugou and Todoroki, as well as Kaminari, Asui, and Uraraka as a team. 

 

For what happened on the mountain, apparently Bakugou scattered a few of his bombs around the mountain and, gathering the people in the vicinity, triggered the bombs to explode at the same time, taking out quite a few people. 

 

Aizawa’s comment: “You’ll make it harder for heroes to retrieve the villains buried under, so don’t do that.”

 

Overall, Kaminari, Asui and Uraraka took out most of the competition. They had snuck into the monitoring room in the evacuation shed — which acted as a twin to the USJ’s control centre — and set off the sprinklers all around the facility. Then, with Uraraka and Asui’s mobility-equipped Quirks, they travelled around the facility, using Kaminari’s electricity to zap the sprinkler-rain and finish off any remaining stragglers. The only place not covered by the sprinklers were the Flood Zone and the Avalanche Zone; places unlikely for a fire to start and hence unequipped with sprinklers.

 

As for Aizawa’s comment: “Making use of the terrain was a good idea, but in real life you’d need to worry about civilians and other heroes working in the area. Overall though, it was rationally planned out, so good job.”

 

“…Also, since you’re too trigger happy with them, you’re prohibited from using water guns, Kaminari.”

 

“WHAT?!”

 

Because of the added teammate bonus, Kaminari’s team won over Bakugou and Todoroki. Bakugou was quite peeved at the results, but that was it.

 


 

It is only at lunchtime that it occurs to Shouto that he stands to gain from hearing out other people’s opinions.

 

He turns to his friends and waits for a lull in the conversation before asking them their reasons for becoming a hero.

 

“Oh? That came out of the blue.” Iida remarks. He does not ruminate on that for long, however, and adjusts his glasses and begins to narrate enthusiastically. “My family has been heroes for generations, so it is natural that I be one too! …Is what I would have said a year ago.” 

 

He looks down at his lunch, smiling gently. “But now, to be honest… it is to carry on the legacy of the name Ingenium that my brother passed on to me. I’m sure you’d know all about that.”

 

Shouto nods somberly, recalling their frightful encounter with the Hero Killer Stain. It certainly had made a lasting impact on Iida. 

 

Uraraka pipes up next. “At first, I just wanted to secure a license to use my Quirk and a job to support my family. But with all that’s happened this two years… I’m starting to think that maybe I do really want to become a hero that can save others too.” 

 

Shouto turns to Midoriya. “And you?” He asks drily. “You’re not going to say something like inheriting your father’s mantle, are y—”

 

“I’m telling you, you’ve got the wrong idea about All Might and me…!” Midoriya squeaks, arms flailing in desperate cephalopodic style. “It’s just that I idolised All Might, and wanted to save people just like him.” He pauses. “No, not just to save… but also to win.”

 

Midoriya’s expression is one of solemn determination. Perhaps such a strong will of the budding young hero before Shouto was reflective of the current state of the society, a bright ideal emerging from a dark age in dark times — a time when people were still recovering from their loss of their Symbol of Peace.

 

Or maybe, it was rooted in something even deeper, something more personal than that.

 

Shouto cannot deny that such a strong will, in comparison to his own, is making him feel a little envious. However, he pushes it away, because the fault lies not with Midoriya but in the weakness of his own heart, half-hearted as it is. 

 

The humor is not lost on him, he thinks wryly, having recalled it being pointed out to him just as recently as today, as he brings up the aforementioned person: “I wonder what Bakugou’s motivation to be a hero is.”

 

Uraraka puts her hands to her mouth to hide her giggle. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it was fuelled by spite, towards all the people who said his Quirk made him more suited to be a villain that a hero.”

 

Midoriya, of course, shakes his head. “No…” He says thoughtfully. “It’s more than that.”

 

Shouto thinks about Bakugou, in all his complexities and layers upon layers of thorns and softness all wrapped in a package of brusqueness and brevity. 

 

“So it is.” He agrees.

 

What does it mean to commit to being a hero?

 

Shouto falls silent and ponders over the question for the rest of his dinner.






[Bakugou]

(Sent) (12:00AM) hey, bakugou. why do you want to become a hero?

(Received) (12:02AM) TODOROKI IT IS TWELVE IN THE MORNING GO TO SLEEP FFS