It was perhaps the most important meeting of his life and Shouto was running late.
In a desperate attempt to make up for lost time, Shouto tossed a ludicrous hundred dollar bill into the surprised taxi driver’s lap before making his escape out of the cab and running into the bustling city traffic. As he navigated through the sea of taxis and commuter cars alike, he could vaguely hear his driver call out after him with an emphatic, “Thank you!”
Shouto hardly heard it. His mind was elsewhere, lost in a whirlwind of hectic thoughts and unable to rest on a single one. They wandered from mentally rehearsing his well-practiced presentation notes to idly wondering if he should have ordered something nicer than pizza for his business partners. He enjoyed their neighboring pizzeria immensely, so it had seemed like a fantastic idea at the time. Plus, he wanted to help Mr. Romano keep his shop afloat since it was easily the best one dollar slice of pizza that Shouto had come to find in the city.
Dodging and weaving through tourists and locals alike, Shouto sprinted his way down the sidewalk. Despite his best attempt at avoiding a bumper cars situation, on multiple occasions he still found himself frantically apologizing to those he accidentally crashed into. Nevertheless, he didn’t slow, not even when it resulted in him getting cursed out by a woman he collided with. It’s not like he wasn’t used to such colorful language being thrown in his direction.
After all, he worked with Bakugou as his CFO.
Shouto’s phone vibrated incessantly in his front pocket. It surely was important but went entirely ignored. He didn’t have the hands to retrieve it even if he wanted to answer, one hand holding his now-cold coffee and the other arm cradling an important stack of documents.
Well, he was holding a coffee, at least until a bump to the elbow by a stranger’s shoulder sent the flimsy paper cup flying backward into the breast of his suit jacket. The utterly useless lid popped off with a disappointing ease as the dark liquid sloshed down his entire front, forever staining the expensive fabric.
“Aw, coffee, no…” Shouto whined under his breath, mounting anxiety gripping him even tighter now. Nothing could seem to go right. At this point, his investors were going to simply denounce him the moment he set foot in the conference room. That thought drove him ever closer to his breaking point. He could feel unwanted tears begin to itch behind his eyes before they started to well up.
There was no time for the luxury of a breakdown though. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Shouto simply threw his now-empty cup into a dumpster as he passed, continuing his rapid pace toward the towering building that held the company’s main office.
Damn… that thought still felt unreal.
Endeavor Inc had always been his father’s baby, more so than any of the man’s children could ever hope to ever be. Its success had always been above all else in his life. It was that toxic ambition that landed Enji Todoroki behind bars when, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant and show his company as prosperous in a problematic financial scape, the man fell into a Ponzi scheme. In wanting to prove the stability and steady growth he’d satiated his investors with, Shouto’s father had quickly taken to forging numbers. These falsified books brought in new investors, but Enji only used their funds to pay off the old ones. And so, the cycle continued. Shouto knew that his father was not proud of himself or his desperate actions, likely assuming he could fix everything in due time, but he assumed that about far too many irreparable things.
Finally, the building was within sight. Relief flooded through his system as he pushed to sprint the last few blocks with zero regard for the cars honking at him as he ran into the street. The building had a menacing aura. With walls built of a dark glass, it loomed above the borough, reaching above the surrounding skyline.
Shouto pushed his way through the lobby’s rotating doors in a whirlwind. He awkwardly balanced his armful of papers as he scrambled to retrieve his entry pass from whatever now-soggy pocket he’d left it in. The entry security guard, Rumi, knew him quite well by now, but regardless he still found it necessary.
“Mr. Todoroki, it’s fine—”
“Ah, Shouto please— oh! ”
In the middle of gently correcting the woman on his name, Shouto managed to locate his identification. He promptly dropped it in his fumbling, the card clattering at his feet. As Shouto leaned down to reach for it, some of the documents tucked into the crook of his arm spilled out onto the marble floor, his meticulous stacks and folders losing all organized meaning. Rumi bit her bottom lip as she tried to keep herself from laughing at her new boss’ misfortune, but she was quick to kneel down beside him to assist in hastily gathering the loose papers into haphazard piles.
“Hope these aren’t too important,” she attempted in a light joke. Shouto’s next words nervously tumbled past his lips before he could find the right mind to stop them.
“Actually, they are. Critically so.”
She briefly looked at him with wide, surprised eyes before finally breaking into a loud cackle that turned the heads of office workers and businessmen alike ending their daily commute in the lobby.
“Well, then you’d better get a move on, kid!” Rumi advised through the dregs of her laughter. Lacking the formality that she had previously held, she shoved the papers back into Shouto’s arms and pushed him towards the elevators. He nodded emphatically, racing his way into the elevator she pointed him towards. Just as he arrived at the sliding doors, it appeared on the ground floor with a timely chime. Stepping inside, he swiped his building ID through the scanner, which allowed him access to the several floors the company worked out of, and pressed his desired location.
The doors were spurred to close, but before they could, Shouto called out through the gap, “Thank you, Ms. Usagiyama!”
“Call me Rumi, dork!”
Now left alone in the elevator as it began to gently ascend, Shouto was staggered by the momentary sense of pride that hit him knowing that the security guard was already comfortable enough to tease him. It made him feel hopeful that with time, he would be able to lift the antagonistic air his father had left behind like a thick veil over his employees. Even still, Shouto could feel the aftereffects of the infamous legacy Enji left in his wake. His father was surely a fool if he thought that their fear of him could qualify as even resembling respect.
It was much the same as the way his father had kept the home. He pressed for perfection so harshly, not caring if it caused his children to snap beneath his boot, because in his mind they could always still be pushed further.
Success. It’s what any parent would hope for their child, but what Enji Todoroki considered to be only the bare minimum for his children to achieve, including his expectations on the company—
Shouto took in a deep breath. Closing his eyes, he let the words his friend Midoriya said to him run through his mind.
It’s your company, not his.
The ding of the elevator alerted Shouto to his arrival and, letting out the breath he’d been holding, he opened his eyes and walked out of the now-parted sliding doors.
“There you are!” Yaoyorozu, his secretary, cried out with palpable relief. She righted herself from leaning against the front desk, where she must have been frantically talking to their receptionist, Ochako Uraraka. Uraraka’s eyes widened into circles when she caught sight of him walking into their lobby. She immediately spurred into action, punching out an extension on the phone to hastily inform the recipient of his arrival. Meanwhile, Momo rushed to his side. The hasty tapping of her heels against the marble made a pleasant sound that Shouto would always associate with the power-suit clad woman in front of him. “We were all trying to get in contact with you!”
Her manicured hand, nails classily simple, grabbed Shouto by the arm, already starting to haul him away. Momo briefly looked back to Uraraka for some sort of confirmation. That confirmation came in the form of a thumbs up from the lady on the phone, but there was somewhat of a grimace on her normally sweet face. Gradually, Uraraka held the phone further and further from her own ear, as though the shouting on the other end was only barely tolerable.
Ah, so he was angry, then.
“Where were you?” Yaoyorozu hissed in an anxious whisper as she pulled him through the ritzy office spaces that would soon be entirely upended in order to make better use of company assets. Shouto was actually fairly excited to get rid of the cold atmosphere created by the fancy modern decor in favor of something more warm and welcoming in its simplicity. There was something satisfying about ridding this place of the grandstanding facade Shouto’s father had cultivated through the years while things had been rotting at its core.
There was a lot about Endeavor Inc that grimly mirrored the homelife Shouto had grown up with, more so than just the unattainable expectations placed upon each of them. He and his siblings each played their parts as mere assets to Enji’s ultimate scheme in life.
“I thought I’d taken the train into the city, but apparently it was the wrong platform. By the time I’d realized I was on the wrong train, I was already a half-hour into the trip and the train back from the closest station was running late…” Shouto tried to explain, but ultimately, he gave up. Sighing through his nose, he hopelessly tried to dab at the coffee stain on his jacket with his pocket square. “It doesn’t matter, I’m here now.”
“Kaminari has been working on finding you a decent apartment within the city, and I’ve been personally going over the recommendations. So, hopefully it will be ready for you soon to make commuting easier. Oh, I should have had him put together detailed directions for you since you have a hard time with public transport—”
Shouto quickly interrupted her fretting. “It’s not your fault, Yaomomo, I should have taken more time to look it up myself. I just…”
A soft look came to rest upon her face as she looked at him. The nickname from their days together in university seemingly caught her off guard, but she was quick as ever.
Shouto sighed deeply, unable to lie to one of his closest friends. “I couldn’t sleep at all last night.”
“Oh Shouto…” Frowning with worry, Momo looked like she wanted to say something more, but as they came within sight of their destination, the two were soon interrupted by a voice that made Shouto’s head perk up.
“You’re late , asshole!”
Shouto looked up to see that Bakugou was standing outside the ornate mahogany doors of the grand conference room that surely held rows of investors waiting for him to convince them that this business still had any leg to stand on. And , his plan was going to overhaul its core structure entirely, stepping away from what was familiar to the old men that sat around that polished table.
Why did he order them pizza!?
Momo tugged him along through the ever-mounting panic that attempted to cloud his mind once again. It nearly caused him to stumble and drop more papers, but he found himself pulled away from his thoughts by the sight in front of him.
“Please give him a break this time, Bakugou,” Momo damn near pleaded with him as the duo approached the scowling CFO.
Shouto held up a calming hand to communicate to Momo that she didn’t need to defend him, it was Shouto’s own stupidity that led to such a thing happening. “It’s alright. He’s right, I’m late.”
Bakugou’s arms were crossed across his chest, the man clearly seething with a not-so-quiet annoyance as he leaned forward to look Shouto over with a critical eye. Tanned forearms were formally on display with how the sleeves of Bakugou’s dress shirt were rolled up and buttoned at his elbow, the same enticing way he always wore it. There was something consistently endearing about the way he dressed, managing to somehow look put-together despite his proclivities towards actually wearing a suit jacket and buttoning his shirt’s top two buttons.
Maybe what Shouto liked about how Katsuki dressed was that he managed to exude confidence regardless of his charmingly disheveled edges, finding a sort of power within the lack of perfection. It turned everything that Shouto’s perfectionist father had always taught him on its head.
Shouto was actually surprised to see that Bakugou’s collar actually looked fairly manicured. His tie was knotted tight against his neck with his golden tie clip proudly displayed, instead of the casually loose way he tended to wear it.
The bottom half of his tie was tucked into an elegant suit vest that was perfectly tailored to hug Bakugou’s waist. This particular one was embellished with some tasteful floral patterns up its sides, an item Shouto had never seen him wear.
Then, there were his eyes. Burning embers unable to be dulled behind the black thick-framed glasses that sat upon his slightly upturned button nose. Currently, those calculating eyes were roving over Shouto’s form, making him suddenly feel far too vulnerable before the man. Bakugou moved his hands to his hips as he scoffed.
“ And, you look like shit, Mr. Todoroki.”
“A-ah, please call me Shouto.” Even with his crass words, Shouto felt his cheeks flush hotly and he rubbed the back of his neck like he’d been reduced to an awkward teenager again. “And I— um… I’m sorry?”
Bakugou raised a golden brow at such an answer, leaning back with his hands still on his hips, seeping judgment from his very pores, “You should be. You’re the CEO of this company now, you’re our face, and you’re about to go into a meeting that could mean saving hundreds of jobs. You could even save lives if this reform of assets gets passed. You’d be better off if you drank that fuckin’ coffee instead of wearing it .”
He was right about a lot of things, of course, and Shouto found himself once again mourning the tragic loss of his morning coffee.
Above all else, Endeavor Inc was a tech company. They manufactured plenty of products, but what never sat right with Shouto was the division dedicated to the development of militaristic machinery and weaponry. With the plans that he devised during the weeks of sleepless nights since this company was thrown into his lap, Shouto had made what he believed to be a solid plan to revise the division’s assets and move away from militaristic production altogether. Endeavor Inc would shut down the current division, instead utilizing their existing employees and real estate to manufacture hospital machinery and various technologies for health and wellness. But, Shouto’s entire plan hinged on whether or not he would be able to convince the investors inside that boardroom to stay. After the ruin that Enji had left in his wake, that surely would be no easy feat.
Like Katsuki said, the matter could truly save lives.
Shouto was suddenly jolted out of his thoughts when Bakugou stepped in front of him, plucked the documents from his arms to place on a chair, and started undoing the buttons of his suit jacket.
Shouto immediately spluttered, “Wh-what are you doing?”
“I’m working with what I’ve got, sir .”
Shouto was sure his face was red up to his ears, barely suppressing a shiver after Bakugou of all people addressed him like that. The CFO, either not noticing or not caring to comment, moved behind him to smoothly tug the chic grey jacket off of Shouto’s shoulders.
Bakugou didn’t hesitate to toss the jacket in Yaoyorozu’s direction. She caught it rather effortlessly. Her college years, most of which spent playing softball, seemingly made the reaction impossible to unlearn. Not even turning to her, he asked, “Get this to dunce face to get dry cleaned before that stain sets, would ya?”
“Fine, but you need to stop calling people names like that,” she ordered in response, “Iida will come down from HR to get on your case again.”
Bakugou rolled his eyes, grumbling something under his breath about that ‘four-eyed pain in the ass.’ Shouto did his best to stifle a laugh at that as Momo turned heel to go find her personal assistant, Denki Kaminari. The clacking of Momo’s posh heels against the tile became distant, and soon it was just him and Bakugou, who was silently redoing Shouto’s tie from its previous poor excuse for a windsor knot.
“Where’s your head at?” The blond asked him surprisingly quietly, red eyes focused on the tie in front of him as Shouto studied his face. This close, he could see the light spattering of freckles across the man’s nose where his glasses would normally conceal. Golden lashes glinted in the light, so long that he was sure they could graze Katsuki’s cheeks as he looked down at his nimble fingers upon Shouto’s silver silk tie.
Shouto swallowed thickly, trying to find an answer for his CFO. His thoughts were entirely halted by the pad of Bakugou’s callused finger accidentally brushing against his Adam’s apple as he finished tightening his tie. Tucking it into the neckline of Shouto’s deep blue vest, Bakugou’s eyes flicked up to meet his with concern, since he must have taken Shouto’s silence to mean the worst.
“Deku is already in there schmoozing those sons of bitches to stall for time, they should be properly buttered up by the time you get in there,” he said as he straightened out Shouto’s collar. “So just stand there, look pretty, and follow the presentation we went over.”
“Bakugou…” Something in his tone made Katsuki pause his wrinkle-smoothing ministrations, his hands froze tugging at the base of Shouto’s vest, his attention instead on studying his face as the now-CEO continued, “What if I can’t sell them on this?”
“You’re not going to sell them shit,” Bakugou replied immediately, going back to fixing Shouto’s wardrobe. Shouto’s blood felt like it had turned to ice until the man continued, “You’re going to make them believe in this… and in you . Then I’ll be there to give them their beloved fuckin’ numbers.”
Katsuki Bakugou never ceased to surprise Shouto.
Lips parted in shock, Shouto stared at Bakugou in wonder. From such simple words, he felt some of the tension uncoil from between his shoulders. He wasn’t alone in this. He watched Bakugou’s hands with rapt interest as he plucked his golden tie pin off of himself to place upon Shouto’s own. Raising his hand, Shouto lightly ran his fingers over the gleaming object and looked down at his chest, almost unable to believe the thing was really there. He snapped his head back up to Bakugou with a sort of astonished, questioning look in his eyes that made a pale dusting of pink grace the other man’s lightly freckled cheeks.
“Shuddup,” he snapped, despite the fact that Shouto hadn’t said a word, “It’s- ugh, fuck ... It’s lucky so just— wear it .”
Warmth settled itself inside Shout’s chest as he looked at Katsuki, mismatched eyes sparkling as he spoke with a gentle kind of earnestness, “Thank you.”
Biting his lip, Bakugou’s flush seemed to grow even deeper as he tried to ignore the honest gratefulness for such a silly action. Stepping back, his CFO looked over him one last time before giving a stiff nod of acceptance, saying, “Look… you don’t have the room to fuck this up, and that’s exactly why you’re not going to. Okay?”
With a soft smile on his lips and a new sense of confidence, Shouto softly replied, “Okay.”
“Then get in there, Shouto.”
Shouto’s heart felt like it skipped a beat when the man actually used his name like he’d asked, but before he could reply, Bakugou had already turned on his heel to hastily stomp his way into the conference room. Just before he disappeared behind the large mahogany doors, Shouto caught sight of the unmistakably bright red color that settled at the tips of Bakugou’s ears, barely noticeable from where they peeked out from his fluffy, untamable hair.
Smiling to himself like an idiot, Shouto took a moment to calm his heart rate with a deep breath before he made his way into the room to greet the investors waiting to hear how he could possibly save the seemingly ill-fated company.
Shouto’s life changed in many ways that day.
Of their twenty-six major investors, Shouto had just needed to convince seventeen of them to stay on board to achieve what he had planned for its new future in advancing medical technology.
They got twenty-two .
The excitement in the air had been palpable, Shouto’s team side eyeing each other throughout the business lunch as they each realized that this really was going to work . The moment that the room had emptied of their guests, Midoriya let out a nearly inhuman squeal as he jumped onto Shouto’s back, excitedly beating on his chest. It quickly spurred on a group hug as they all let out their pent-up exhilaration by cheering and jumping around like idiots, rather than the facilitators of a multimillion dollar deal.
Smiling with true relief, Shouto locked eyes with Bakugou from across the room where he leaned against the expensive meeting table. A rare smile was present on his lips, and Shouto felt his heart leap at the sight.
That night, those that were tight knit within the office came together to celebrate at a nearby bar. It wasn’t anything special or fancy, just a hole in the wall place that happened to be the closest bar to their corporate building. But now, it was their bar . On many Friday nights to come, they would find themselves sitting at their table, sometimes to celebrate and many other times just for conversation over drinks.
The bar owner also happened to be the regular bartender during the hours they frequented and although her name was Nemuri, other patrons at the establishment seemed taken with calling her by the nickname ‘Midnight.’ Welcoming them enthusiastically that night, she seemed genuinely excited to meet some new possible regulars, though she did come in a little strong sometimes with the flirting. Shouto hadn’t even known it was possible for Midoriya’s face to turn that red.
There was a comfortable atmosphere around the place. It was one that you could just sink into amongst the flickering dim lights that cast a yellow glow upon its customers. Shouto frequently caught his eyes roaming to Bakugou, admiring how it managed to make his hair look like spun gold. Sometime during the night, the two ended up sitting cramped together in one of the booth’s cushioned seats, their coworkers around them. On such a special occasion, Shouto had offered to foot the bill for the drinks soon after their victory, and even when most of the team was hurtling far beyond tipsy, he couldn’t find it in himself to regret the choice.
In that moment, they were in the middle of a toast. Momo held her large glass of beer high in the air as she saluted everyone’s hard work in turning Endeavor Inc around. Her eyes landed on Shouto as she loudly proclaimed her pride in having him as their new CEO, nearly stumbling in her haste to clink her glass against Ochako’s when she offered it. Making note that he should probably call her wife Kyouka to pick up a drunken Momo before the night’s end, Shouto was startled by the cheers for him her speech had actually garnered. He watched with wide eyes as glasses were clinked together, sloshing various drinks that spilled over the nicked wooden table, creating a mess that no amount of cocktail napkins had any hope of soaking up. He didn’t linger on that thought for very long as he was suddenly pulled into a different world by a defined arm thrown over his shoulders.
Perhaps it was the drinks in Shouto talking, but in that moment, Katsuki’s smiling face may have been the prettiest damn thing he’d ever seen. His eyes were crinkled at the corners, his nose scrunched up as he let out involuntary mirthful snorts of laughter as he looked up at Shouto. Nose flushed a sweet red that even reached his cheeks, it was clear the man also may have indulged a bit too much, despite his claims of a supposed high alcohol tolerance. Pulling Shouto tighter into a side hug, Katsuki leaned in until his face was so close that Shouto could feel his hot breath on his ear.
“You did it, fuck head.”
And with that, Bakugou buried his face into the side of Shouto’s neck to somewhat-successfully stifle a second wave of laughter while a stunned Shouto tried not to shiver at the feeling of his soft blond hair tickling his jaw. Shouto would chastise himself for weeks to come for giving in, but he was nowhere near sober enough to not lean into Katsuki right then. Between the open nature of Katsuki’s laughter and the scratch of the faint stubble on his chin, Katsuki exuded a warmth that Shouto was entirely weak to, like a moth pulled towards a flame.
That day changed Shouto’s life in many ways… but, above all else, that was the exact moment that he realized his feelings for Katsuki Bakugou.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
-Eight Months Later-
“Hey, got something for you.”
Shouto looked up from his paperwork with a start only to see Bakugou stride into his office quite pridefully. As their eyes met, the blond waved some documents in his hand that were sealed within a manilla envelope. Just seeing him was enough to make Shouto’s heart stutter, but what he did next made him think that perhaps Katsuki’s sole goal at this company was to torture Shouto throughout his day.
In a powerful move, his CFO sat on the front edge of Shouto’s desk with a confident, roguish swagger before he pointedly dropped the envelope in front of Shouto. It landed with a thump. Pink lips slightly parted, his mouth forming a small ‘o,’ Shouto stared up at Bakugou with wide eyes. Bakugou held his gaze, an eyebrow quirked expectantly as he crossed his arms across his chest, those tantalizing forearms on display as always.
Katsuki looked down at him through his glasses, a teasing smirk gracing his lips as he cocked his head to the side and said, “You might wanna take a look at that, sir.”
Embarrassed, Shouto snapped his mouth closed with an audible clack and quickly turned his head down to the delivery, hiding his flustered blush as he cleared his throat and mumbled, “Yes, of course.”
The first thing that alerted Shouto to something amiss was when his CFO became a bit fidgety with his hands. It wasn’t like him to take the nameplate that simply said ‘Shouto :)’ off his desk to twirl around in his hands, like he was nervous. Shouto lifted an elegant brow in question, but Bakugou didn’t even have a retort, he just flicked his eyes back down to the envelope and then to him, as though urging him to open it.
Something was definitely up. Now, he wasn’t just suspicious because some of his other coworkers began to gather in his doorway, a quiet yet excited murmur amongst them. Shouto eyed up Bakugou in search of an answer and found none. But, as he carefully slid the documents out of their confines, a smile grew on the man’s face. Finally turning his gaze downwards to begin reading the contents, Shouto’s eyes widened to saucers, his heart racing as he stood up out of his chair in exhilaration.
With his hand on the desktop to steady himself in his disbelief, Shouto looked to Katsuki with his eyes alight. “It all went through? It’s done?”
“That’s the last warehouse,” Katsuki announced with pride, his grin contagious as he leaned forward with his hand beside Shouto’s atop the desk, “Endeavor Inc is officially entirely out of the weapons business, and at this rate, is on track to be the country’s leading hospital provider both in quality and quantity.”
The celebratory cheers and clapping from the doorway easily drowned out Shouto’s breathy laugh as he ran his hand through his hair, carelessly tangling the different colored strands as he absorbed the news. The undertaking had been projected to take nearly a year and a half to meet its completion, but with the hard work and dedication of the team Shouto had hand selected, they managed to slice that time in half. Together, they had all managed to create something special, and Shouto’s heart swelled to know that his employees cared and believed in the project just as much as he did.
“You did it, Mr. CEO.”
The praise from Bakugou was spoken softly as he slid off the desk and back onto his feet. It was something to live in the air just between the two of them, and that alone was nearly enough to give Shouto goosebumps.
Shouto shook his head, unable to stifle the gentle smile that tugged at his lips as he replied, “I couldn’t have gotten anywhere close without my CFO.”
There was something in the look that Katsuki gave him that Shouto couldn’t describe, but was pulled in to attempt to dissect. There was some surprise there, in the way that his smile slightly slipped and eyes widened a fraction, but there was something else hidden inside the depths of his irises and the pink dusting upon his cheekbones. Though he wanted to study the man further, his attention was suddenly pulled away by Momo’s personal assistant who shouted to Shouto from his office doorway.
Popping his blond head in, Denki was quick to declare, “I’m ordering pizza from Romano's for everyone to celebrate! It should be in the breakroom in half an hour!”
As the man started to run off, likely to get the pizzeria on the line, Shouto called after him, “Ah, put that on my card, Kaminari!”
“You got it, bossman!”
When Shouto turned back to Bakugou, he found that the man had vanished somehow in the short moment he had looked away. Despite the jubilation that surrounded him in that moment as colleagues congratulated each other across the offices, Shouto’s smile deflated some with the stinging lack of his presence.
The sound of heels alerted Shouto to Yaoyorozu’s arrival before she’d even spoken. The woman looked at him with an almost knowing smile as she said, “Do you have a moment to speak, Shouto?”
“Oh, of course.” Still subtly looking for where Bakugou could have gone, Shouto gestured to the comfortable plush lounge chair in front of his desk as he sat back down himself. A light giggle came from his secretary, and Shouto found himself a touch embarrassed that his mind could only seem to focus elsewhere when this was such a big time for their company.
“I’m sure you’re already trying to think of ways to thank everyone for their hard work. I’ve already been brainstorming since Mr. Bakugou informed me of the projected success, but seeing as it is the holidays, I thought we could do something fairly fun.”
Shouto balked at the mention of the season, quickly turning to his calendar to see that Christmas was only two weeks away. “The holidays… I’d almost forgotten. What do you have in mind?”
For as long as Shouto had known her, Momo had always enjoyed leading the charge in planning for large events, so it was no surprise when she pulled out what looked like a spreadsheet for a party. Smoothing it out on his desk in front of Shouto, she began to explain, “We should hold a large party here at corporate headquarters for our employees, one where everyone could bring their family or loved ones if they wish. I’ve already gotten Kaminari to help organize a holiday-themed area for children that may need to be babysat. The idea is to create a proper atmosphere to allow everyone to have fun, and for different divisions of the company to mingle more than they usually do. I’ve even come up with a few events to liven things up throughout the night.”
“Like what?” Shouto urged with clear interest. An excited smile came to Yaoyorozu’s face at the eager prodding, the woman taking out a clipboard and retrieving a pen from her breast pocket.
“Well, one thing that most people seemed fairly enthusiastic about was the idea of a Secret Santa exchange amongst our office. I’ve actually been taking down names for anyone willing to participate. I’m assuming you’d like to take part?”
Shouto was already nodding adamantly as she looked at him with hopeful round grey eyes. He took the clipboard offered in her outstretched hand to add his own elegant signature in the list. Not wanting to ruin any surprise, Shouto only lightly glanced over the names already present and found many were familiar before he dutifully handed it back to his secretary.
At that moment, he hadn’t really thought much about what it would mean to sign up for such a thing and had already moved on to discuss more of Momo’s ideas for the party.
How was he to know that, upon receiving the name of his Secret Santa, it would consume the entirety of his thoughts in the coming weeks?
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
Kaminari seemed nearly nefarious in the way that he crept up to Shouto’s office door, shaking an empty box that once held vodka bottles. Instead of the distinct rattling of glass, the contents sounded like small pieces of paper.
“Hey, bossman!” He cooed in a sing-song voice, “It’s time for you to pick your Secret Santa!”
It had been a couple of days since his discussion with Yaoyorozu and he had already completely forgotten about the aforementioned exchange, and he perked up at the excuse to take a break from some particularly boring work.
“Oh! Is that starting now? Have you already picked a name?”
“Sure did!” Denki grinned as he plopped the cardboard box down on the desk in front of Shouto. “I’m totally psyched I got Hawks! Me and Keigo share the same tastes when it comes to quality fashion statements, so I think it should be easy. I’m thinking about hitting up some thrift stores this weekend to look for the loudest patterns I can find. I’m thinking something with shoulder pads—”
“I’m sure he’ll love it,” Shouto finally interrupted only because he knew, if left to his own devices, Kaminari could rattle on without ever stopping. It was almost like how a shark must always keep swimming to survive, and Shouto almost feared what it would be like if the man ever went completely silent. “Sounds tasteful.”
“You know it. ‘Can’t spell class without ass,’ and all that!” He chirped. Meanwhile, Shouto cocked his head to the side as he furrowed his brow, wondering if what the personal assistant said was really a turn of phrase. Kaminari was entirely unaffected by the look and simply pushed the box forward, urging him to take part. “Come on! Let’s find out who is lucky enough to get a gift from the boss! If it’s me, just say it's Yaomomo and I’ll take that as code that you’re getting me an iPad.”
That managed to pull a soft laugh from Shouto as he dipped his hand into the box’s contents to pluck out a name. The laugh trailed off as he opened the folded piece of paper, his smile slipping from his face. He had to read the name several times to truly absorb it.
Katsuki Bakugou .
“Come on, Shouto, don’t leave me hanging! Who’d you get?!”
Denki eagerly leaned over the desk, nearly knocking the computer monitor to the ground to peer at the small piece of paper. He beamed upon reading it.
Letting out a long whistle, the PA leaned back and crossed his arms as he asked, “Katsuki? That's awesome! Got any ideas already knocking around in your head?”
“I…” Shouto was stunned in a way, anxiety suddenly hitting him like a bus as he immediately began overthinking the simple action of giving his CFO a gift. While Kaminari just seemed all too pleased with this development, Shouto tormented himself with a sudden spiral of unexpected self doubt. It had been months now that Shouto had spent pining for his CFO, yet he couldn’t find the nerve to actually tell the man. He knew he wanted to get Bakugou something truly meaningful, something that would pull forth that rare, sweet smile of genuine happiness from the man… but what could be good enough?
Or could something even be too much, enough to unintentionally reveal just how deep his feelings run at this point?
The fine line already had Shouto fretting. Kaminari looked concerned about his silence, seeming like he was about to change the subject right before Shouto finally softly admitted, “I don’t know.”
Frowning at that, Denki cocked his head to the side curiously. “Really? I mean Katsuki is a fairly simple guy once you get to know him, and you know him better than most people here.”
“Wait— you think I— what?”
“Yeah!” The blond grinned again, slamming his hands down to the desk in his sudden enthusiasm. “You’re one of the only people around here he actually likes! Besides yours truly, of course, but that’s just squad rights.”
“Y-you really think that?” Shouto stammered in surprise, but somehow it was Denki that looked at him like he was the crazy one.
“I mean, yeah, there is no way he would have taken your job offer if he didn’t. Not to be dramatic, but for a chief financial officer, this company was quite literally a shit show to walk into after the whole ponzi scheme scandal. Katsuki had a stable job with a reputable company already lined up for when he got out of school, but he came here because you asked him to.”
Shouto’s mouth was slack in shock as he stared, absolutely stunned as he looked up at Kaminari, but he quickly snapped it shut as he processed the man’s words. There obviously was risk in coming aboard a company at it’s time of sinking. Shouto wasn’t an idiot, and deep down he knew that Katsuki must have turned down some much safer options in order to join him. The truth was that Shouto wasn’t even sure he would have been able to accomplish any of this if it hadn’t been for Katsuki joining his team. Even if he quit tomorrow, Shouto would always be thankful for the hard work his CFO put forth. However… now there was just one question on his mind.
“I think that might be one for you to figure out on your own, bossman!”
Kaminari gave him a sympathetic look but still held an air of amusement about himself as he plucked the box of names back up from the desk. It may have been a desperate move, but Shouto nearly stood up as he hastily asked, “But, wait, what would he like? ”
“He’d like anything you get him!” Denki laughed as he headed out the door.
Denki looked like he truly believed what he’d shouted over his shoulder as he left the room and went back into the hustle and bustle of the office, but Shouto couldn’t find that sort of confidence in his own gift giving abilities. It was no secret that Shouto was quite obtuse when it came to people, but Shouto really didn't want to irreperably fuck up this time.
Though he felt silly for doing it, Shouto bit his lip as he pulled out a pen and a small pad of paper to start formulating a list of people he could possibly speak to just to pick their minds about Katsuki Bakugou.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
“You know that I’d never complain about free pizza, Shouto, but is there any reason you asked us to lunch today?”
Ochako looked at him with inquisitive eyes and puffed out her cheeks in worry, definitely searching for anything amiss that would have urged Shouto’s sudden invitation.
There was no real reason for her to worry, of course. It was ridiculous for Shouto to be as nervous as he was, but that didn’t stop him from forming this impromptu meeting. Midoriya, Uraraka, and Iida were not only some of Shouto’s best employees, but also some of Shouto’s closest friends ever since they met at university. He valued their input greatly, which is why it had seemed like a great idea to pull them away for some lunch at Romano's, but now they were crammed in the back of the old pizzeria during lunch rush. The sight of the four of them in their pristine business attire stood out amongst the casual atmosphere of the small, greasy pizzeria. Immediately upon seeing him, the owner had happily called out to Shouto, shuffling him and his friends to a table. The table was tiny, built to accommodate the small city dwellings of such a hole-in-the-wall place, but the four were more than happy to just hunker over their box of pizza in the corner. Shouto still held no doubt that this was the best pizza in the city.
Shouto sighed, contemplatively chewing his bite before admitting with a grimace, “Yes, actually, but I’m starting to realize just how silly it was—”
“If there is something bothering you, then it is not silly!” Iida was quick to correct, pushing his glasses further up his nose to look at him closer, as though he was appraising his state. “You should already be aware that if anything or anyone in the office has created a problem, or made you uncomfortable, you can see me in—”
Shouto was already waving his hands in front of him, nearly choking on his slice of pizza in his haste. “It's really nothing that serious— I mean, well, it's um… It’s serious to me, I guess. I just need some help, or advice …”
Ochako was nodding her head emphatically through her own large bite of pizza, silently urging him to spill the beans while Midoriya gave him an encouraging smile and said, “Of course we’ll help!”
He could already feel his face growing hot, though he hoped that maybe it could be disguised by his red nose from just coming in from the cold. “It’s just… I’ve got Bakugou for the holiday party’s Secret Santa, and I can’t think of something that feels right to get him.”
Midoriya’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head with the way he started coughing, some soda having accidentally shot up his nose at his rapid inhale that he had to quickly spit out like some cheap comedy bit. Shouto really couldn’t tell if the man had been ready to laugh or nervously cry with how he hacked, but Iida was already prepared with napkins to assist Midoriya in not ruining his suit. Meanwhile, Uraraka almost choked herself on a sudden giggle fit that couldn’t wait until she had finished chewing. Shouto wanted to sink into his seat until the red vinyl completely engulfed him, feeling like an absolute buffoon.
“Oh my gosh, you’re so cute,” the receptionist finally wheezed out, her cheeks flushed pink as she grabbed her own napkin to cover her mouth, swallowing down both her pizza and tears. “How long have you been worrying about what to get him?”
Shouto felt his blush run deeper than could be written off as a flush from the lingering outside chill, and he wrung his hands together. “I spent all morning online shopping and then canceling orders… I think I have a boogie board on the way to my house. Why would I think he’d want a boogie board? We’re not even near a beach—”
“What does it look like?” Iida asked, receiving a quizzical look from Midoriya, who was still recovering from his spit take. “What? I have Kaminari for the Secret Santa, and it honestly sounds like something he would like. Rather than wasting it.”
“It has a surfing iguana on it surrounded by fire… he probably would,” Shouto sighed, letting his elbows fall to the table to hide his face in his hands, “well, that’s one crisis averted…”
“Ah, I think you might be overthinking it a bit, Shouto,” Midoriya rasped, fighting off the dregs of his coughing fit.
“I just… want it to mean something.”
“Mean what, exactly?” Midoriya’s face seemed to light up at the question, but Shouto furrowed his brows, tilting his head to the side slightly in question as he finally looked up from his hands.
“Well, I—” he paused, unsure, “I just want it to be something he likes, I guess.”
Midoriya deflated some at that, but Uraraka was quick to start spouting some suggestions. “Doesn’t he love cooking? Maybe you could get him some personalized cookware, or some of those really nice kitchen knives.”
“Actually, it might be best to not gift Bakugou knives in the workplace,” Iida advised, having spent months now dealing with HR complaints about their CFO. “I can’t imagine that won’t mean more paperwork for me.”
“You just want him to leave more leftovers and baked goods in the breakroom.”
Uraraka didn’t look ashamed at Midoriya’s accusation, just shrugging and taking a sip of her drink before she said, “So what if I do? I’ll never forget the time he was angry enough at a slip up in the billing department that he made croissants .”
Smiling to herself, Uraraka hummed at the memory of those croissants and Shouto couldn't help but to nod sagely, remembering himself just how damn good those pastries were.
“You know, I have a fair amount of yoga and self-help books I would strongly recommend. I think they could greatly help Bakugou in improving his coping mechanisms and outlets for his anger.” Iida seemed genuinely excited about this prospect, likely having thought about recommending these things to Bakugou before, but feared getting his head ripped off at the mere suggestion.
However, the idea wasn’t exactly what Shouto was looking for, and he shot it down gently with, “I’m not sure that would be his particular cup of tea…”
“What if you just got a pair of movie tickets?”
The suggestion actually managed to startle Shouto, his head snapping to meet Midoriya’s gaze to ask, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, you know,” Midoriya gestured through the air, as though to will the idea into Shouto’s head before soon giving up on that to attempt clarifying, “Ask him to a movie or something! Usually there are good ones that come out around the holidays, and I know he likes horror. You could get snacks, and then maybe—”
“Midoriya… I can’t.”
“And why not?!” Ochako cried with a disappointed pout, letting her hands fall to the table in obvious agreement with Midoriya.
Making a fairly inhuman squawk, Midoriya flailed and covered Iida’s eyes under his glasses with his hands. “No, Tenya, no. You hear none of this right now, okay? Shouto would fill out the fraternization forms!”
Whatever rebuke Iida may have had was left unsaid, perhaps only out of the pure confusion that came with the fact that, in his panic, Midoriya had covered his eyes instead of his ears. Shouto sighed, realizing it was up to him to be the realistic one now.
“Iida is right. It's not my place as head of the company to ask one of my employees on a date, even if we go about it from the correct channels. I don’t want to put Ka— Bakugou in a place where he feels he couldn’t say no, especially since that would likely be his answer if I were to ask him such a thing.” Even if it wasn’t exactly the same situation, his mother’s face came to mind at that moment. She had always felt powerless in saying no to his father, and was trapped inside a prison where most could simply not understand the bars. No matter how badly she wanted to leave, there was nowhere she could go.
“I’m… not entirely sure about that, Shouto.”
Iida’s careful words came as a shock to Shouto, who was caught off guard and struck silent by them, and the spectacled man used the opportunity to elaborate in a serious tone, “If there is one thing I have learned about Katsuki Bakugou, it's that man will say what is on his mind, no matter who he is talking to. I have full confidence that he would not feel compelled to make any choice that is not his own. That being said, if you two were to decide to… rendezvous, then feel free to stop by my office for the paperwork.”
A giggle snuck its way out of Uraraka at the word choice, but she hid it through another bite of her pizza. Despite her efforts, an embarrassed dusting of pink appeared on Iida’s face.
Shouto was reluctant to allow himself to feel something like hope but… it did give him some things to consider.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
It was only a few days before Shouto just couldn’t keep his mouth shut any longer.
“Yaomomo, can I ask you something?”
Momo turned around from where she had been dutifully overseeing some hired help, who were currently putting up a sizable tree and large light up menorah in their company lobby. She had a clipboard in the crook of her arm, tucked against her chest, as she took inventory of the different holiday decorations they had, and if any had broken in their transport to the building. It was easily a job that could have gone to Kaminari, but Shouto wouldn’t be surprised if the woman had taken it on as part of her own in her sincere determination to make the holiday party the best anyone had ever seen.
“Of course!” She drummed her nails on the back of the board, briefly looking back at the workers currently putting up the tree, but must have deemed it acceptable to leave them to their work. “Is it about the new deal with the heart monitors at Hosu Hospital? I was fairly certain that Hawks was taking care of the details on the rush—”
“Ah, no, actually it's… well, it’s a bit of a personal matter.”
“Oh,” Momo’s face morphed to one of surprise with a touch of worry at hearing that, now actively forgoing her previous work so she could give the entirety of her focus to Shouto. “Is everything alright? Is your family—”
He shook his head near immediately, holding his hands out to reflexively try to put her at ease. “Everything’s fine! Really, it’s nothing that serious.”
“Your face was just— never mind. What do you need?”
With her looking at him expectantly, Shouto suddenly found all eloquence physically leave him in his panic and he simply asked, “Bakugou? ...Thoughts?”
In all honesty, Shouto thought he would have liked it better if Momo had laughed right in his face instead of the stunned silence that followed as she gaped at him.
“H-has it happened?” She whispered urgently to him with a growing excitement, leaving Shouto entirely puzzled.
“The Secret Santa,” He clarified, with that as his best guess for what Momo was talking about. “Bakugou is my giftee.”
Understanding flashed across her face and Momo giggled into her hand. Shouto was left confused, unable to figure out what she now thought was so funny. She shook her head in a gesture for him to ignore her and said, “Sorry, sorry, I was just expecting— never mind. Yes, Kaminari mentioned that to me, actually. Have you gotten him something?”
“Well, no, that’s what I wanted to speak to you about… I was going to spend my lunch break looking around the shopping district, and I was hoping that you could maybe… help me?”
Shouto felt pathetic for asking it, once again awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck on reflex. He received a gentle smile from his friend as she assured, “Of course, Shouto. Let me just hand this off to Kaminari and we can go.”
Smiling in relief, Shouto nodded before Momo went to retrieve the PA. He was left to wait by the large glass window panes, watching the soft start of snowfall with his thoughts belonging solely to Bakugou.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
The shopping trip didn’t exactly go as planned.
It was impossible for Shouto to find something that really felt right and personal enough to truly mean something to Katsuki the way he wanted it to. With what Uraraka had said in mind, Shouto and Momo had examined the contents of a ludicrously expensive specialty kitchen-wares store. Though Shouto was willing to lie to his CFO about the price, he couldn’t find anything special enough to justify the money spent. The truth was that Shouto really didn’t have any idea what he was looking at to begin with, never one to be any good in the kitchen, and unfortunately Yaoyorozu seemed quite the same in that regard. Neither of them had any need to learn how to cook in their youths, as they both came from the same sort of well-off family that would simply hire someone else for that sort of thing.
Shouto made a note in his phone to maybe call his sister, knowing Fuyumi frequently enjoyed cooking family meals herself since it relaxed her.
He and Momo were discussing the merits of possibly getting Bakugou some kind of camping gear, since the only time the man took off work was to go on long mountain hikes, but a soft noise caught Shouto’s attention midconversation. At first, he assumed it was just the screech of the door as they left, but then it came again.
A soft but distinct ‘mew.’
“Did you hear that?” Shouto grabbed Momo’s shoulder to halt her in her tracks. The woman stopped, looking around in confusion for what he could be talking about.
“That quiet little—” He trailed off for a moment and tried to make the tiny squeaking noise, only to hear it again as if it was attempting to respond to him. Yaoyorozu’s own grey eyes widened, obviously having heard the sound too, and soon they were both cooing out little mews in an alleyway. There was no doubt in Shouto’s mind that the two of them looked like idiots, crouching around in the thin layer of crunchy snow despite their well-dressed attire. With a pretty good idea of what those sounds were, Shouto was fearful of what would happen if they couldn’t find the source in the winter chill.
“Shouto! Oh goodness— come quick!”
That was how Shouto’s shopping trip was immediately cut short, leading to him sprinting through the lobby of his own company with a cardboard box of four shivering kittens in his arms, swaddled in his balled up, too-expensive jacket.
“Uraraka! I need you to page Kaminari to my office immediately !” The receptionist jumped in surprise at the sudden order that was barked at her, but she gasped when a little black kitten popped its head out of the box to look at her with round, curious yellow eyes.
“O-of course!” She was already hastily punching in the extension to connect to the PA while Shouto and Momo rushed into the office space.
“I’m going to see if the cleaning staff know where there might be a space heater! I’ll be back!” Momo took off in another direction, showing off her miraculous talent for running in heels while Shouto just nodded and quickly made his way to his office.
The kittens were in an absolutely pitiful state, piled together in the corner of the box with tremors wracking their bodies, their fur wet from the snow. As soon as he was in his office, Shouto dropped to his knees with the box placed gently on the ground, his heart in his throat. Eyes barely open, three of the cats were already looking around their new surroundings from where they were huddled around the form of their last sibling.
The fourth cat, the smallest fluffball of steely grey, was barely moving.
Shouto could feel his hands shaking as he gently parted the squirming kittens so he could cup the tiny bundle in his hands, soothing, “Shh, it’s okay.”
He didn’t truly know if it would be okay, and it felt like Shouto was speaking more to himself than the little kitten in that moment. In a desperate attempt to keep the tiny things warm, Shouto began to pile the other kittens into his arms to snuggle against his chest with their tiny mews.
“What the fuck…?”
Snapping his head up with unshed tears in his eyes, Shouto’s breath hitched in his throat when he saw Bakugou staring slack-jawed from the doorway with an ogling Kaminari behind him.
“K-Katsuki, it’s too cold—” Shouto’s voice broke, his fear for the smallest kitten reaching its zenith, but he didn’t need to say anything else before Katsuki was kneeling in front of him with a serious expression.
“The grey one.”
With a nod, Katsuki’s gentle hands carefully took the kitten from the CEO, the rough, calloused pads of his fingers accidentally brushing against Shouto’s inner wrist as he did.
“C’mere, baby,” Katsuki whispered, his voice so soft that it almost caught Shouto off-guard. As he held the kitten closely, warming it with his breath, Shouto realized just how gone he was for the man in front of him.
Shouto watched with amazement as the blond tugged more buttons of his collar open so he could easily tuck the grey kitten in his shirt to get some body heat. Bowing his head and cupping a hand over his mouth, Bakugou blew more hot breath onto the little creature.
Though Kaminari spoke up from the door, Shouto was unable to tear his eyes away from the sight in front of him. “What do you need me to do, Shouto?”
“I think you mentioned your husband fostered cats with his dad? Could you get a list from him of things these kittens may need and give it to Uraraka?”
“Oh yeah, no problem! Hitoshi is great at that kind of stuff, I’ll be right back!” Nodding emphatically, Kaminari gave him a thumbs up before he dashed away to do what was asked of him, leaving Shouto alone with his CFO.
There was a tense moment of silence, Shouto anxiously watching Bakugou attempt to revive the grey one while the three other kittens tried to wiggle their way further into Shouto’s warmth. Katsuki’s eyes met his for just a moment, a steeled determination in his expression, and he knew that the man would fight until the last second to save this kitten.
Then, when Shouto’s hope was growing warily thin, a long mew of complaint rang through the air like music to their ears. Shouto was already grinning when Katsuki looked up to him with a bright smile on his face, a fluffy grey head soon poking out from behind his hand. Another long and exaggerated meow was belted out that seemed nearly impossible for such a tiny creature’s lung capacity.
“There we go, baby.”
That was it. The smile that Shouto had been so desperate to pull out of the other man for so long. That expression on Katsuki was one revered by Shouto in the moments he was lucky enough to bear witness to its simple glow.
Apparently, the little kitten was also not immune, and managed to wiggle its way into suckling on Katsuki’s chin.
“Looks like someone wants a kiss,” Shouto teased and Katsuki’s eyes widened briefly in some sort of shock before he quickly shook it off.
“It’s just fuckin’ hungry, idiot.”
Katsuki watched him carefully, looking for something within Shouto with those eyes like burning embers, but they were soon interrupted by the clicking of Yaoyorozu’s heels and a knock on the doorframe.
“Sorry to interrupt,” She apologized quickly, for a reason Shouto could not place. “We managed to find a small space heater that should hopefully help with warming up the kittens.”
Hastily shuffling to plug the device in nearby, Yaoyorozu sat the modest but old space heater beside them as Katsuki glared at her all the while. Shouto couldn’t help but frown, wondering what it was that could make the man dislike his secretary so much, but Momo paid him no attention. She was far too busy trying to adjust the heater’s settings while simultaneously filling Shouto in with updates for the cats.
“Kaminari was able to get through to his husband, and his father-in-law is apparently willing to foster the kittens. So, at least they have a place to go after this, and before being adopted out! Hitoshi is going to come by much later today to pick up Denki and the kittens. I have a list of things from him that the kittens might need sooner rather than later. Should I—”
“Leave it on my desk,” Shouto interrupted, “I’ll get my brother to take care of it and run everything by.”
With a nod, she placed the note somewhere Shouto could easily find it later. Regardless of Bakusou’s scowl, she couldn’t help stopping to coo at the kittens, “Oh my goodness, look at them!”
Now that the hot air from the space heater was on them, most of the kittens had ceased their violent shivers and were sniffing around their surroundings from the comfort of Shouto’s lap. Besides the grey kitten in Bakugou’s palms, there was a jet black one, a creamy white and grey one, and a kitten that was black with a white belly and chin. Momo didn’t hesitate to crouch down to pet the black and white one under the chin, delighted when it squeaked and stepped forward with a tumble only to fall into her hands.
“What are you going to name them?” She asked eagerly, and Shouto bit his lip in thought.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
Staring through the blinds of his office window at a busily typing Katsuki might not have been subtle, but Paperclip was asleep in the breast pocket of Katsuki’s vest.
Each of the kittens had been given a name now, with the little one having been named Paperclip by Shouto in a panic. The tiny kitten had definitely taken a liking to the blond, and Bakugou wasn’t one to betray that kind of trust. Though he may have complained about the kitten’s presence constantly that day, he’d likely bite the hand off of anyone who even reached towards the slumbering grey fluffball.
Shouto had managed to name two of the other kittens himself; Fax Machine and Keyboard, but Bakugou named the final all-black kitten Murderboy Hellspawn .
An eclectic group of siblings.
As though fate wanted to play off that thought, that was when Shouto caught sight of his brother Touya at reception. Touya had also been forced down the path of learning the business trade, although it had never really been his cup of tea and the man eventually dropped out of college. Their father had been absolutely enraged by the decision, but Touya didn’t have any intention of coming home, instead dropping off the radar to become a tattoo artist under the name Dabi. Now, without the looming presence of their father, the siblings had managed to start to rebuild bridges together.
Uraraka was currently on a short break for an important call with her parents, and despite not knowing shit about reception, it was Takami from quality control manning the desk for the twenty minutes she was gone. With his sharp eyes, the man had been given the nickname Hawks by his coworkers, and was one of the only main floor employees to remain after the company-wide overhaul following Enji’s leave. While Ochako would have instantly recognized the tattooed man approaching the counter, Hawks tilted his head to the side inquisitively with a hungry leer at Touya in his long winter jacket.
“Hey there, handsome, anything I can do for ya?”
Touya silently looked over Hawks with appraising eyes before he said, “You reception’s pretty new face?”
Keigo looked momentarily flustered at the well-received flirtation, which was a feat in itself, but he recovered quickly, “Come here often, then?”
“You could say that.” There was a slight quirk upwards on Dabi’s pierced lips, something that differed from his usual smarmy smirk, and he leaned over the desk to punch in the extension code for Shouto’s office into the phone in front of a stunned Hawks.
There was a ringing from Shouto’s desk, and soon Touya’s voice was in the room from his cut to voicemail, “Shou, I see you lurking in your fucking window. I’m coming in.”
Shouto jerked in surprise before he ungracefully slipped away from the window in a way that was a touch suspect.
Within seconds, Touya was barging in through the door like he owned the damn place, dropping the bag of kitten formula and other amenities right into his arms.
“Are these the little bastards?” Touya mused, crouching next to the box of three kittens all snuggled up together in front of the heater. In lieu of an actual blanket, Shouto had just left his best jacket crumpled up inside the old box for the contented little creatures to happily curl up in. Now that they had dried from the snow, the tiny things really were little fluffballs, and even Touya couldn’t help offering the kittens a finger that they began to examine curiously.
“That’s three of them, the fourth has grown attached to my CFO or… maybe it’s the other way around.”
Shouto looked to the window again, just in time to witness Katsuki place a kiss on the kitten’s fluffy forehead when he thought no one was looking. It tugged at Shouto’s heartstrings. Longingly, he thought about what it would be like if he had the privilege of kissing the top of Katsuki’s own fluffy head.
“You want to fuck him so bad it makes you look stupid.”
Shouto was immediately sent into a coughing fit when he inhaled so quickly he choked on his own spit, causing his brother to chuckle.
“Shut up, asshole.” Shouto glared at Touya with a moderate scowl, but the look was drastically undercut by the hot blush prickling at his face.
“Pft, then tell me I’m wrong,” He quipped, though he didn’t wait for an answer. “You look like a creep staring at him through your window, by the way.”
“I’m just… I got him for our office Secret Santa and I’m trying to think of what to get him—”
“Give him a blowjob and call it a done deal,” Touya stated blankly, while Shouto felt himself go through several stages of grief. Looking back down at the litter, Touya scratched the chin of a pure black kitten that had been nuzzling the palm of his hand. “These cats up for grabs?”
“Cool, I’m taking this one.”
With an easy scoop, Touya picked up the kitten in one tattooed hand while Shouto gaped in shock, “W-what?”
Holding the squirming little thing in front of his face, Touya looked into its large, round yellow eyes and ignored Shouto’s surprise. “This one got a name?”
“Oh uh, that one is Murderboy Hellspawn…”
Touya looked at him with a pierced brow raised in question, but Shouto just shrugged, embarrassed. “That one was… not me.”
“Mmm, I’m good with it.” Touya carefully placed the tiny kitten in the pocket of his long jacket, Muderboy Hellspawn poking its little paws out the top to rest its head on as though this was perfectly fine. “I’ll see you at Fuyumi’s for dinner next week.”
Before leaving, Touya stopped at Shouto’s desk to pluck a pen from its holder,quickly scribbling something onto a stolen Post-It note while Shouto pointed out, “Doesn’t your apartment building not allow pets, though?”
“Like that stops my fucking neighbor from keeping three ferrets. No one will give me shit about it.” Touya folded the paper and turned on his heel to exit the office, but Shouto followed him.
“Do you even have the stuff you need to take care—”
“I bought it all when I got the shit you needed, I’m not an idiot,” Dabi mentioned as they approached reception, and finally Shouto realized that collecting one of the kittens may have been a part of Touya’s plan all along.
Ochako was in the middle of a discussion with Hawks, who was gesturing wildly with his hands until Touya slapped the small piece of paper into his palm as he passed. With a jump, Hawks looked to Touya with surprise only to receive a smirk from the tattooed man in question. Raising a bushy brow as he opened the paper, Hawks paused to read it for only a moment before he was suddenly beaming with his own smile. Glancing up, he got a wink from Touya while Shouto watched the exchange, dumbfounded.
“Like I said, Shou, I’ll see you next week,” was the only farewell he received from his brother as he walked into an already opening elevator, taking his leave with his new kitten.
Ochako, Hawks, and Shouto were all silent for a moment until Hawks quietly cackled to himself and retrieved his phone from his pocket, plugging something into it.
Shouto sighed deeply. Feeling more discouraged than ever about what he should get his CFO for Christmas, he asked Hawks out of desperation, “What would you get someone you really like for Christmas?”
“Can’t go wrong with a blowie,” the blond replied without an ounce of hesitation, not even looking up from his phone. Ochako choked on her own laughter.
Shouto just groaned and sulked back to his office in shame.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
An actual idea came to him in a moment that he didn’t expect, but felt entirely correct.
Shouto was visiting his mother at the time, the woman now comfortably moved into an assisted living home outside the city. The transition came as soon as her medical care had been transferred to Touya’s authority, as the eldest child. The siblings agreed together that it would be best to get her out of the hospital. Her days there had become long and dull in a way that deterred her mental growth rather than aiding it, and they felt that this would give her the correct amount of freedom without leaving her all on her own.
She was happy here, now a proud member of the community’s small book club, an excellent keeper of plants that she raised all on her own, and an avid knitter in her downtime.
At least once a week, though almost always more, Shouto would find the time to go visit her, and they would comfortably share a dessert that he picked up along the way. It had become their tradition.
“I have something for you,” his mother told him with a soft smile as she put down her fork from the matcha cake they were eating. “I was going to save it for… well, for Christmas, but it's been getting so cold…”
Christmas had never been something they celebrated much as a family. If they were lucky, his father would work that day, and they could have their own small celebration of the holiday. There was one year when Shouto was just a baby that Natsuo had offered him a poorly-wrapped avocado. That gift above all others had caused the two-year-old to burst into raucous laughter upon opening. It had been the loudest happy outburst from the boy any of them had seen over those years, all because Shouto was holding his then-favorite snack. Natsuo had watched quite proudly that day as Touya used his pocket knife to cut the avocado into small pieces for Shouto to pop into his mouth, which he ate while doing a happy little dance in place.
The concept of spending Christmas with his family now … it was very exciting, to say the least.
“What is it?” Shouto asked before he could think better of it, his wide eyes urging his mother on.
“Just a little thing I have been working on in my spare time,” she explained as she stood up from her chair, walking beside the couch to a storage box that contained her knitting gear. “The yarn was soft, and I thought you might like it.”
Retrieving what she needed, she stepped over to gently place a red scarf and a white pair of mittens that she had personally knitted for him. There was nothing Shouto could have done to suppress the smile on his face as he ran his hands over the soft articles of warm clothing.
“I love it…” His heart swelled to its fullest, his words whispered in a quiet, but emotional cadence as he felt tears tickling the back of his eyes. It was something so simple but… it was made out of love.
If a light bulb could have gone off above Shouto’s head, it would have, and he looked up at his mom eagerly to ask, “Can you teach me to knit like this?”
Her mouth parted in surprise, obviously not expecting him to ask such a thing of her, but then the most genuine smile he had seen from her in months lit up her face.
✼ •• ┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈ •• ✼
Shouto thought that his idea was absolutely genius up until the long-awaited night itself when he was standing in the midst of the holiday party, holding his questionably wrapped Secret Santa gift in his hands.
“It’s all wrong— I should just go—”
“ Shouto! ” Yaoyorozu caught him by the sleeve of his finest suit as he tried to turn tail and run out of the party to avoid the lovely visage that was Katsuki Bakugou dressed in a deep red suit. On this occasion, the man had even gone as far as wearing an actual tie, with his lucky tie pin and all, his ears adorned with simple black gemmed studs on the lobes.
He was gorgeous, and Shouto thought he could knit him a fucking beanie as a proper gift?
“I can’t do it, Yaomomo—”
“Shouto, if you walk out that door, I can guarantee that at least several employees of yours will absolutely riot ,” she whispered pointedly before moving back into her usual, more gentle tone. “You’re just giving him a gift, what is there to be scared about?”
She was right. Of course she was right, though even logically knowing that, it couldn’t stop the panic in Shouto’s heart. Even if the beanie wasn’t perfect, its pattern of black and orange mixed-up and uneven, some of its stitches accidentally skipped no matter how hard he had tried, Shouto had worked on the project tirelessly. When he wasn’t at work, he was sitting cross-legged on his bed with the books on knitting his mother had lent him open in front of him. There even were many times when he was at the office that he would hide the project beneath his desk to work on when no one was looking, only to hide it whenever someone entered.
It wasn’t perfect but… his heart was in it.
“Alright… okay.” Shouto took in a deep breath, holding the parcel tighter in his hands. “I’ll go talk to him.”
Momo gave him a proud smile, and Shouto suddenly felt bad that in his panicking, he’d torn her attention away from her wife, although Momo herself didn’t seem to mind. “Go on, then. You’d better tell me all about it later.”
With a wink and a gentle pat on his shoulder, she left to go back to Kyouka’s side. When he turned around again, Shouto found himself face-to-face with Bakugou’s fiery red eyes.
“What’s your deal tonight, huh?” Bakugou had a scowl on his face that in Shouto’s mind looked more akin to a pout as he complained, “You’ve been avoiding me, and don’t act like I didn’t just see you squabbling with your little friend while looking my way.”
“Ah, sorry.” Immediately, Katsuki opened his mouth again to say something in response to the awkward apology, and Shouto stumbled over his words in his haste to get them out first. “I was actually about to ask you if we could— um… talk privately?”
Reduced to silence for a moment, Katsuki studied his face, and Shouto found himself nearly sweating under the intensity of his gaze. He had no idea what his CFO found in those moments of looking at him, but there was a sort of breathy wonder in his voice as he simply said, “Yeah…”
Suddenly, Katsuki’s hand was wrapped around his, pulling him through the room with an authority that made crowds of people part in front of him.
He tugged Shouto out of the spacious main room they had cleared for the party, and instead led him away into the intimately empty area of their usual office space. Though it was also decorated for the occasion, the only real light came from the pleasant glow of the Christmas lights strung up around them, since the usual overhead fluorescents had been shut off to conserve electricity in the unused area.
Katsuki stopped suddenly in place. Even in this low lighting, Shouto could make out the gentle curves and features of the man’s face that he’d come to treasure. There was no usual grimace or glower present, and if Shouto had to identify the blond’s expression, he would say that Katsuki actually looked nervous about something. Shouto wanted to ask, or at least say something to ease the man’s troubles, but words had never been a strong suit of his. Instead, with all the grace of a caveman, Shouto shoved the gift into Katsuki’s chest, only to be met with a look of surprise.
“I… for you.”
Looking down at the present’s crinkled wrapping paper, Katsuki looked fairly confused even with Shouto’s lackluster explanation, so he clarified, “I pulled your name for the office Secret Santa. I know it’s not much. I can get you something better, just name it—”
The sound of the wrapping paper being torn interrupted whatever else Shouto had to say. He snapped his mouth closed, anxiously observing Katsuki investigate the lump of yarn in his hands. Calling it a ‘lump’ may have been harsh, as it could definitely function as a sufficient hat, but it wasn’t really anything to marvel at. Katsuki’s lips were parted slightly in awe, for what Shouto could only assume was for his own stupidity. With bated breath, he watched as Katsuki ran a thumb over the stitchwork Shouto had put so many careful hours into. When he had looked for the correct yarn at the store, he agonized over the colors for a purely ludicrous amount of time until he was physically sitting in the yarn aisle with possible contenders piled around him.
“You made this,” Katsuki whispered, finally looking up at him.
“...Yes,” he admitted quietly, “I asked my mother to teach me but… ah, I guess I’m not exactly a prodigy. Again, I could get you—”
Yet again, Shouto was interrupted, but this time it was by Katsuki grabbing him by the lapels as he leaned up to pull him into a chaste kiss on his lips.
Shouto stared dumbly, absolutely stunned as the blushing man pulled back with his lip nervously between his teeth, his hand still gripping Shouto’s suit jacket.
“Mistletoe,” Katsuki breathed out, his face still close to Shouto’s as he quickly looked up to see a sprig of the plant dangling above him.
Shouto’s heart sank suddenly in his chest, “I-is that why—”
“No,” Katsuki interrupted quickly, and Shouto had never seen him look so anxious. “But it is why I dragged you over here in the first place.”
“...Can I kiss you again?”
Katsuki was already nodding emphatically before he could finish his sentence, and with one hand on his hip and the other cupping the back of Katsuki’s neck, Shouto pulled him back in. This time when their lips met, it was hungry, the months of pent-up longing pouring out all at once between them. Katsuki’s hands slipped up his chest to wrap his arms behind his neck, standing on his toes to properly kiss Shouto, who swallowed an involuntary desperate whine of Katsuki’s. Shouto moved to support him with hands on his back, pulling them flush together in a way that Shouto thought would only ever exist in the fleeting confines of his sweetest dreams.
Breaking for only a moment, their breath mingling between them, Shouto’s voice cracked as he whispered, “You have no idea… how long I’ve—”
“Me too. Fucking moron—”
Katsuki even didn’t bother to finish the thought, instead choosing to drag Shouto into their third kiss, his fingers entangled in his mismatched strands of hair.
God only knows how long they spent there, making out like teenagers at prom in the middle of their office bullpen. Nothing could have pulled Shouto away from Katsuki in that moment, his skin alight with the feeling of Katsuki in his hands, entirely pliant as Shouto mouthed at his neck.
Then, in the middle of Shouto leaving a particularly difficult-to-cover and downright bastardous hickey, a small but distinct ‘mew’ carried through the air loud enough to make Shouto pause.
“F-fuck, damn it —”
“Katsuki, what was that?”
“Look, I got you for the Secret Santa, too. Okay?” Katsuki said with an annoyed groan from where Shouto had him pinned against the door to his office. Shouto pulled back to look at him in surprise as he continued, “I’m pretty damn sure the office set us up to pick each other for this fucking thing, but whatever. My point is… I got you something too.”
Katsuki grabbed the door handle behind him. Twisting it, he pushed the door back, opening it and stepping into Shouto’s office. Following him in a near daze, Shouto’s heart could have stopped in his chest when Katsuki retrieved his gift from inside a large cardboard box hidden in his office.
“I told dunce-face to hold onto her for ya. I know it's crazy, but I’ll take the little asshole in if you can’t. You could… visit her and shit like that.”
Shouto swallowed back the flood of emotion that came with looking at Katsuki, backlit by his office windows and the snow gently falling in the city outside as he held the little grey fluffball, the kitten adorned with a silky red ribbon delicately tied around her neck. Paperclip was fairly bigger now, but still looked so little in his hands, staring at Shouto with her big blue eyes.
Studying Shouto’s face carefully, the relief from Katsuki was near-palpable when Shouto’s face split into an uncharacteristic but euphorically delighted grin. Whatever Katsuki was about to say went unvoiced as Shouto moved forward to grip him in a tight embrace, prompting a comical squeak from both Katsuki and the kitten when he spun them around in his hold.
Laughing to himself in his elation, Shouto lowered Katsuki’s feet back to the ground, but continued to hold him in his arms. Shouto’s chin rested on Katsuki’s shoulder, and he turned in to bury his face against his neck, breathing in deeply. A shiver made its way through him, dragging another chuckle out of Shouto, and he whispered his next words against his skin while Paperclip tried to weasel her way between them.
“You’re amazing, Katsuki.”
“...You’re not that bad, either. Just as long as you take me out on an actual fucking date after all this. You’re paying, and I’m gettin’ anything I want, got it?”