Izuku shook his head, trying to shake away the sleep that threatened to creep up on him by slapping both his cheeks. The words in his textbook were starting to blur together in front of him, but there was homework due tomorrow and he had missed today's lesson because of his internship. If not for Todoroki's notes-- carefully written in neat, spartan handwriting-- he wasn't sure how he'd be able to keep up at all.
But he needed to stay awake for it.
Pinching his arm only worked for five minutes, and then Izuku's face almost landed on his desk. This wouldn't do at all. He had to do something. With a sigh, he pushed himself to stand, taking a second to stretch before he glanced at his clock.
Almost one in the morning. Coffee now would be a terrible idea. Right?
Even as he thought that, he knew what he was going to do. Izuku headed out of his dorm room and made his way down the steps to the first floor, taking care to be as quiet as possible so none of his floormates woke up. He wasn't sure which of them were light sleepers, but he wanted to be considerate.
Only, he could hear someone else in the kitchen already.
"--told you to stay in your room and keep reading!"
"But I was falling asleep! You don't want me to fall asleep on you, do you?"
"Fucking shithead, you think that's my problem?"
There was a little more grumbling and wheedling, the voices-- clearly belonging to Kacchan and Kirishima-- lower and harder to make out now with the sound of pots and pans clanging around. Izuku heard the click and hiss of the gas range turning on, and as things quieted down the conversation picked back up again.
"How could you fucking forget to eat?"
"Dunno. I didn't! Just, it was late when I got back and the cafeteria was closed by the time I was done showering and stuff. I mean. I had some bread?"
"That's not dinner. You're fucking unbelievable."
"Is this-- are these all yours?"
"What if they are?"
"But what if our classmates needed to store their own vegetables and stuff!"
Kacchan snorted. "Have you met our classmates? This fridge stayed empty the first week of class-- trust me, no one's fucking using it."
"Are you really making me stir fry?"
"I'm not making you stir fry. I'm making myself some food because I'm hungry."
"But-- but I can have some too, right?"
"Fucking obviously. Because apparently you can't even feed yourself. And they let you run around saving people like that?"
Kirishima made a sound of protest, and Izuku realized then that they were likely going to be there a while.
Things hadn't been bad between him and Kacchan lately, not since their fight. Izuku was less concerned now that the smallest look or interaction would set Kacchan off, so it's not like he was worried about starting a screaming match in the middle of the night.
But at the same time, he felt kind of like he would be intruding. He heard part of the conversation, but Kacchan was making a full meal at one in the morning, and whatever denials he made, he was making it for Kirishima. For someone who viewed acts of kindness as a weakness, Kacchan was already stepping over a line Izuku hadn't seen him step over in a while. And yeah, Kirishima was the clear exception to that-- Kacchan was probably more comfortable acting this way around him. But Izuku wasn't sure that Kacchan would react as kindly if Izuku walked in now.
Then again… was that really Izuku's problem?
Taking a deep breath, Izuku straightened his back and walked in, like he'd just come down from the stairs. Both boys quieted down, and Izuku could feel Kacchan glaring at him from where he was aggressively stirring vegetables in a wok.
"Hey, it's Midoriya!"
"Good evening, Kirishima. Kacchan." Thankfully, the cupboard that had coffee mugs was on the other side of the kitchen. Izuku made his way there and began to make himself a cup of coffee. Kacchan hadn't said more, and it looked like Kirishima was more than happy to fill in the silence.
"You up late studying too?"
Izuku nodded. "Trying to get that homework turned in to Present Mic tomorrow."
"Oh man, yeah, that was brutal. Couldn't figure out--"
"Shitty Hair!" Kacchan barked. "The fuck did you put the sesame oil in?"
"Right here!" Kirishima handed the bottle over without even looking, and Kacchan snatched it without another word. Izuku knew the two of them sparred more often with each other than anyone else, but he was fascinated by how in sync their movements were. Kacchan shot him another glare, and Izuku knew he was overstaying his welcome.
"I'm gonna head back up," he told Kirishima. "Those verbs aren't going to conjugate themselves. You guys enjoy your dinner."
"Night, Midoriya! Bakugou, man, that smells so good!"
Izuku got to the landing of his floor when he heard, wafting from the kitchen below, Kacchan's grumbled "Fucking eat up, then."
Though Kirishima had been released from the hospital three days ago, he wasn't really fully recovered yet and was under orders from Recovery Girl to rest for at least a week more.
But at least he was in the dorms and in relatively high spirits. Denki visited him after classes every day since so far, once with Ashido, once with Sero, and today, just on his own. He'd stay til dinner time, but didn't return after-- Kirishima mentioned Bakugou came by with the day's homework then. Denki would do anything for his best bud, and that included knowing what he was and was not capable of helping with. He was more than happy to leave schoolwork to Bakugou, although why Kirishima seemed to enjoy getting tutored by that guy was beyond Denki.
"Then Tokoyami goes, honest to god I shit you not, 'And that is how the cookie crumbles'," Denki concluded, collapsing into snorted laughter as he recounted the events of that afternoon's heroics class. He thought he did a pretty good impression of Tokoyami, and Kirishima's shoulders shook with laughter. "Seriously, you should've been there man. We miss you."
"Soon, I hope," Kirishima said, bright and perky as always. Denki didn't really think he needed more time stuck in bed; maybe he could move just very very carefully or something?
"Don't you get bored just staying here all day by yourself?"
Kirishima shrugged. "A little bit," he said. "But Bakugou's been eating lunch here with me, so it's not too bad?"
"Really?" Come to think of it, Denki couldn't remember seeing Bakugou around at lunch the past few days, though he assumed that was just Bakugou being Bakugou. The only reason he even sat with their usual group was because Kirishima did. Probably. Most likely. "Man, I didn't even think about that."
"It's fine, don't worry about it dude. Not that big a deal. Plus by the time you get your food from Lunch Rush it'll be too late anyway."
"I guess, but then how does Bakugou--"
The door slammed open then, and an irritated Bakugou walked in. "Oy, Shitty-- what's Pikachu still doing here?"
"Oh, is it dinner time already?" Kirishima asked, sitting up and giving Bakugou a wide grin.
That was when Denki noticed the tray. "Did you bring food?" There were two bowls of miso soup, both carefully covered in saran wrap that had fogged over from the heat. "I thought the menu tonight was curry."
"Shitty Hair doesn't want to eat curry," Bakugou grumbled, shooting Kirishima a glare. "Or anything of actual fucking substance."
"I told you," Kirishima argued back, "you didn't have to--"
"How the fuck are you supposed to get better if you don't eat?" Bakugou asked, looking more agitated by the minute. He set the tray down on Kirishima's table, the bowls on it rattling loudly before they settled. It was a thing Denki didn't realize he could be agitated over at all, Kirishima's post-injury appetite. "You're supposed to fucking try to recover, dickwad."
"I am," Kirishima mumbled, ducking his head.
"Hey man," Denki said, brow furrowing with concern, "you haven't been eating?"
The first time he visited, Kirishima had said he was good for dinner. Denki had taken that at face value, because Kirishima was the sort of guy you could take at face value. Wasn't he?
"Hey, no, don't listen to him, I have so been eating!" Kirishima protested, flailing a little.
Bakugou snorted. "Soup for lunch, soup for dinner. It's been nothing but fucking water for three days now. You wanna tell me that's food?"
Denki got the feeling he was caught in the middle of an ongoing conversation, but neither of them were asking him to leave, and Kirishima was his friend too. "Yeah, that doesn't sound like it's real food to me either, man," he told Kirishima, not entirely sure how he ended up siding with Bakugou on an argument. "But you gotta try to eat. Look, I can grab you something from downstairs, okay? Just like. A small thing. Anything. A little bit of curry to go with that soup?"
Bakugou crossed his arms, and between Denki's plea and Bakugou's glare, Kirishima gave in. "Fine. Okay. Jeez, neither of you need to make such a big deal out of it."
Denki grinned. He felt like he should be high-fiving right about now, but he didn't think he and Bakugou were at that point of their relationship yet. Baby steps. "Okay, awesome, you two stay here alright? Bakugou, bro, I'll get you something too, be right back!"
He left before either boy could tell him anything else, sprinting down the stairs two at a time. There was no miso soup on the menu when Denki picked up dinner, a mystery he was still trying to solve as he headed back to the dorms, carefully balancing a tray full of curry rice. It was when he stopped by the kitchen to grab some utensils and he saw the pot in the sink and the roll of saran wrap lying nearby that everything shifted and clicked into place at the same time.
He didn't exactly decide not to say anything about it then, but when he got back to Kirishima's room and found half of the soup from one bowl carefully poured into a mug for him, there was really only one thing to say.
He grinned at Bakugou. "Thanks, man."
Hanta never voiced this out loud, but privately he had thought setting the dorms up was kind of a stupid idea, especially if the point of it was to protect them better. All it would do, he thought, was tell the villains exactly where the students were at all times, and they'd already managed to sneak into the USJ before.
But that was his Reasonable Hero-to-Be thought. His Fifteen-Year-Old thoughts went mostly along the lines of how sweet it'd be to hang out with his friends and classmates more now, so if his parents didn't voice any doubts about the whole arrangement, why should he?
And it had been pretty great so far, even now in their second year. Sure, some days he needed to just be by himself, but that was what having his own room was for. Plus, they still did movie nights.
Nearly all the class showed up every time for the tradition that started early on in their first year. The common area turned into a massive fort of blankets and pillows, and by now it almost never mattered what the movie was. Tonight it was Battle Royale, which was slightly dark and made Hanta worry slightly about Hagakure, who'd picked the movie, but hey, whatever rocked her boat. It wasn't for another half hour though, so he thought he'd grab himself a snack in the kitchen. He was one of those people who hated snacking while watching things-- the chewing sound he made was always distracting to him.
But the kitchen was already occupied when he walked in. Bakugou and Kirishima stood facing each other, with Kirishima's hands cupping Bakugou's hand, both their heads bent together.
Before Hanta could quietly excuse himself, there was an explosion. It was small and contained, but he was embarrassed to say he yelped anyway. Kirishima and Bakugou turned toward him, as though they hadn't noticed his presence before, and where Bakugou's face remained neutral Kirishima's broke into a wide grin.
"Sero!" he greeted, opening his hands to reveal he'd been cupping just Bakugou's finger (not that it made things any less weird just because it wasn't his entire hand, Hanta's brain was careful to remind him). "Look what Bakugou's training to do!"
"Uh... are you making popcorn?"
Kirishima stuffed the handful of it down his mouth. "Uh huh!"
"Dude." Hanta looked at the two of them with renewed interest, noticing the bowl that lay by them, on the table, and how it was half filled with popcorn.
"Stop eating all of it before the movie, dumbass," Bakugou groused, swatting at Kirishima who laughed, spitting out bits of popcorn as he did. "Fuck, you're so disgusting."
"Just doing a bit of quality check." Kirishima flashed a bit of fang with his grin. "Those were a bit burnt, Bakugou."
"Shut up, they've been perfect every time," came Bakugou's reply. "Soy Sauce, tell him."
"Can't do that if I don't sample the goods."
"Shitty Hair, gimme your hands."
Up close, Hanta could see exactly what the two of them had managed. Kirishima scooped a few unpopped kernels into his palms, hardening them to such a state that it was basically a makeshift oven. There was a small opening between his fingers, where Bakugou slid his index finger in. His gaze was sharp with concentration, and Hanta could imagine the control he must have to exercise-- what was it he was igniting, like one or two drops of sweat?-- before the small pop! inside Kirishima's palms.
Hanta picked up a piece and popped it in his mouth. "Ah, damn, I forgot this needs more flavor for me to enjoy BUT not bad, Bakugou. Not bad at all." He gave him the thumbs up before opening the snack cupboard and taking out a bag of chips for himself. "I think you've got the hang of it, personally."
Bakugou smirked at Kirishima. "Told you so."
"Okay, well, popcorn's one thing, but can you do s'mores?" Kirishima asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
"The fuck do I wanna make s'mores for?"
"I dunno, Todoroki could and they were delicious..."
"Fuck you, I'll make the best s'mores of your goddamn life!"
Kirishima was still laughing when Hanta headed out of the kitchen.
Mina liked to think she was a pretty friendly girl, and she definitely got along with most of her classmates, all of whom had gotten closer with each other one way or another through their nearly two years at Yuuei. It was hard not to, after what they've all been through (and continue to go through).
But while Mina was the class social butterfly, it was with Kaminari, Sero, Kirishima and Bakugou that she spent most of her time with. Only Kaminari hadn't been on the cavalry team at the sports festival their first year, but he joined them for the second year when the teams allowed for up to five students, and though Yuuei encouraged changing up groups as often as possible to make sure the students knew how to work with all kinds of people for hero work, the five of them tended to stick together when the option was available. She sparred with Kaminari, did her homework with Sero, gossiped with Kirishima, and went on evening runs with Bakugou. And they all usually ate lunch together.
It wasn't all the time, because some days Kaminari hung out with Jirou, or Mina would be with the girls, or someone (usually Sero, because he is a veritable saint and honestly the unsung hero of the class) would be on Mineta duty. And while Bakugou had grown less hostile with people in general, he still usually had a few days when he liked pretending he was a lone wolf or something.
But in the meals they did eat together, Mina quickly learned a few things about Bakugou, like how he almost always made his own food because he had also, in the last few months, become an absolute nut about nutrition.
"Do you honest to god ever eat anything else besides meat and carbs?"
"What's wrong with that? S'good," Kirishima replied around a mouthful of chewed up food.
"Gross, Kirishima, didn't your parents teach you manners?" Mina asked, wrinkling her nose. Boys were so disgusting sometimes.
"Where the hell are your vegetables?" Bakugou demanded. "Your body needs them too, and fuck, your calcium intake is fucking pathetic."
"Strong bones to support your muscle when it hardens up, this is basic fucking science."
"You're starting to sound like Midoriya, man," Kirishima said, but this didn't make Bakugou explode in the same way it would have a year ago.
"And he's fucking fighting for top in the class! You have any idea what kind of tiny little pipsqueak shithead he was in middle school? You really want a loser like that to beat you out of the second best spot because you're afraid of a little green in your food?"
Kirishima laughed. "I appreciate the vote of confidence, man, but I don't think I'm gonna get to Midoriya's level just because of my diet."
Mina rolled her eyes, because that's exactly the kind of thing Bakugou would not let go, and as they bickered over the importance of diet in their hero lives she tuned them both out, catching Sero's gaze instead.
I know, he mouthed at her, shrugging and lifting both hands up as though to say, not like we can do anything about it.
Mina giggled. At least she wasn't the only one.
Bakugou didn't use to care, she thought, about finding the little ways to get a leg up on the competition. He came into class that first day like he was entitled to win, but Mina thought that attitude was probably soundly beaten out of him by everything that happened since. He'd begun to see everyone as a legitimate rival, and even if it came with the weird side effect of Bakugou obsessing over sleeping patterns, eating habits, and all those other weird things Mina didn't really care about, it was nice to feel recognized by someone who probably didn't even know her full name until the start of second year.
"You're going faster than usual today," she told him, her legs burning as they crossed the second kilometer mark of their usual run. "In a hurry?"
"What's the matter? Can't keep up?"
"I thought we were trying to cool down!" she protested. Wandering around at night was kind of against Yuuei security rules, but because they also didn't want students to riot over their movements being restricted too much, they approved a buddy system for after-sunset activities. They still had to be in their rooms by curfew, but it was nice to go for a jog after working out. That Bakugou ended up being the only other person who enjoyed night runs was something Mina learned to appreciate over time-- there was a popular misconception in 1-A that Kirishima was Bakugou's only friend, but the guy had his moments.
"Yeah, well, hurry up cooling down then, I got other shit to do."
Mina whined in response, but noticed Bakugou didn't actually try to leave her behind. "Homework?" she asked, not remembering anything the teachers gave them that day. Or was there a project due tomorrow she'd somehow forgotten about?
Bakugou only grunted back. Some nights he gave away more, but she supposed tonight was not one of those nights.
"Fine," she huffed, finding their marker for 2.5km and jogging around it before, with one more burst of energy she didn't think she had left, she sped up. "Race you back!"
"What the--that's cheating, Black Eyes!"
Mina roared with laughter, but didn't let up right away. They slowed down the last two kilometers of the run, parting ways on the first floor where they each headed for the baths. Her muscles ached with the kind of sore that came after a good workout, and after her scalding hot shower she allowed herself to sink into the bath and just let the heat do its work. She may have fallen asleep until a small "oh!" woke her up and Tsuyu was getting in with her, telling her it was already almost nine.
Her fingers were pruny from the water but she'd never felt so refreshed, changing into her pajamas and heading out of the baths to get back to her dorm.
She passed by the kitchen on her way and a flash of blond caught her attention, so she poked her head in.
"Bakugou, are you cooking?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
He must have gotten out of the baths ahead of her. His hair was still a little damp around the edges, but there were vegetables steaming over the rice cooker and mackerel grilling on another pan. On the counter, two identical containers.
"That smells so good! And it's all so healthy!"
She could hear Bakugou's teeth grinding together, even from where she stood. She bit down on her lip to stop the giggle from coming. The years had taught her the value of patience, too.
"What," he grits out. The tips of his ears were red, and it matched the back of his neck.
"Who's the second bento for?"
Bakugou answered her with expletives, a small explosion, and in no uncertain terms he kicked her out of the kitchen, but Mina giggled all the way back up to her room.
When Kaminari asked where Bakugou and Kirishima were at lunch the next day, she just shrugged and changed the subject.
She was Bakugou's friend now too, after all, and Mina always had her friends' backs.
Their last year of high school could not end soon enough. Ochako felt a little bad thinking that, but they'd barely even started the year before that whole Shigaraki Incident happened, and it had felt like there was just one gut punch right after another. It certainly strengthened nearly everyone, and not a day goes by that a 1-A student did not receive an offer, or heard from a scout, or get featured in the news. Everyone's eyes were on them, but that felt like too much for a group of kids.
The last two months had been blessedly quiet to the extent that they almost felt like filler, but while it made some of her classmates antsy with suspicion and paranoia Ochako was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe villains liked celebrating the holidays too; she wasn't about to complain. So she helped Kaminari and Mina wrangle the class for a Christmas outing, headed to the shrines with Tenya and Deku and Tsuyu to welcome in the New Year, and now--
Now they were making chocolate.
Trying to, anyway.
"Wait, do you mean to tell me not a single one of us has ever made chocolate before?" Mina wailed. "Girls, how did we let this happen? We're in our last year of high school!"
Tsuyu shrugged. "We were kind of busy the last two years."
"I'd always just bought the chocolates I gave," Momo admitted with some guilt. "But there is something very appealing with homemade chocolate."
"I tried to make some in middle school," Toru said, "but I burned the chocolate and had to throw away the pan. I got so traumatized I've never tried it since."
"But you want to make some for Ojiro-kun, don't you?" Ochako asked. When Toru made a sound of affirmation, she pumped her fists in the air. "Okay, so we'll do this for you and Ojiro-kun!"
That got the rest of the girls-- most of them, anyway, Ochako suspected Kyouka was only in it to point and laugh should things start going south-- excited and eager to start. This was going to be good, Ochako thought. It was a fun bonding moment with the girls, and the boys would get chocolates, and it would be something nice and normal to remember about their high school life in the future.
They went to look for video tutorials first. That morning had already been spent shopping for ingredients, with each girl having some kind of idea about the kind of chocolate they wanted to make. Tsuyu and Kyouka wanted to make chocolate cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, which were the easiest to figure out-- Ochako and Tsuyu had baked before, at least.
But the rest of the girls wanted to make more traditional chocolates, and this was where they slowly realized they were out of their element. Momo had bought a thermometer for tempering the chocolates, but it soon became very clear none of them actually knew what that meant. Tsuyu, who was getting more and more nervous about the fire that was supposed to melt the chocolates but was only heating up the kitchen, finally insisted they ask for help.
"Satou-kun might know what to do," she suggested.
"But Satou-kun's home for the weekend!"
"Oh shit." That was Kyouka. "Uh. Maybe we should get Todoroki in here or something, just in case?"
"Don't be so pessimistic," Ochako said, pasting on her bravest, most determined, most encouraging smile, but the girls just shrank back a little.
"You, um-- you kinda look like Deku when he's getting ready to fight," Mina whispered in her ear. "Maybe we should--"
"No!" she interrupted. Toru was the sweetest girl in their class, and Ojiro was the nicest, gentlest boy. They'd been dancing around their feelings with each other for years and Toru had finally decided to confess with chocolate, on Valentine's Day no less! What kind of heroes would they be if they couldn't help support one of their own in their time of need?
"Ochako-chan," Toru wailed, and Ochako realized then she'd said all of that out loud. "We don't deserve you!"
She felt a flush creeping up her cheeks, embarrassed at the racket she made, but Momo was wiping away a single tear and Kyouka was slow clapping, so maybe she did something right after all?
"The hell is all this noise?" The door to the kitchen slammed open, Bakugou Katsuki storming in with a flash of irritation, followed very quickly by confusion when he saw all the girls together. "The fuck? What are all of you doing here? You burning the dorms down?"
"That's not very nice--" Mina started.
"Then what's the smell coming from that pan?"
Six girls turned towards the stove, and six girls shrieked as they realized that the chocolate was burning.
"You goddamn idiots are gonna ruin my fucking kitchen," Bakugou grumbled, shouldering past them all and grabbing the pan with his bare hand before he filled it with cold water from the sink faucet. He picked up the thermometer from the pan, shook his head at its state, and unceremoniously tossed that in the trash.
Ochako gasped. "Bakugou! Momo bought that and it was really expensive!"
"She better get her money back, that was a rip-off," Bakugou said. His gaze flickered to the cupcakes and cookies cooling to the side, then to the cacao, butter, and various molds lying around the counter. "Is this why Soy Sauce said none of us could go in?"
"How did you get past Hanta anyway?" Ochako asked, rolling her eyes when Bakugou only shot her a look that clearly said, How do you think? "Okay, well, whatever, unless you know how to make chocolate and can help us you should leave."
"And why the fuck would I help you?"
"Wait, Bakugou, you know how to make chocolate?"
"Like it's fucking hard?" Bakugou sneered, crossing his arms. "It's not rocket fucking science. But I guess for you idiots it is-- my old hag made me do it every year so she could give my dad something too."
"We'll pay you," Toru said with a touch of desperation.
"In chocolate," Ochako added, because there was no reason to spend money like that. "We bought a lot of ingredients and materials, you get first dibs. It's very good chocolate." She wasn't sure if Bakugou had a sweet tooth; he seemed to like spicy stuff first, but-- "You can make it spicy if that's how you like it, right?"
"You'll also get our undying admiration and worship," Mina said. "We promise not to call you Blasty or Bakubro for the next month!"
Bakugou's arms remained crossed, but Ochako thought she saw the corner of his lips curling up slightly.
"And we'll clean up," Kyouka volunteered, going in for the finishing blow. "After you finish with whatever you wanted to use the kitchen for."
Bakugou snorted, and for a moment Ochako worried that they'd pushed him too far. But then he rolled his sleeves up. "This stays within this room, and we've got a deal."
It turned out, Bakugou had his own thermometer. It didn't seem like something he used for chocolates only, but he definitely knew what he was doing. With his usual brusque manner he called up each girl to the stove, asking them what kind of chocolates they wanted made, and then walking them through the process.
"I'm not fucking gonna tell you how to do this next time, so listen up," he said.
When each batch was done, Bakugou also showed them how to place them in the molds they'd picked out, laying down the fruits and nuts and other flavors they'd each decided on if there were any.
"Ojiro-kun really likes nutty chocolates," Toru was explaining as she stirred the milk chocolate in the pan. "And, um. I wanted to make him a special batch."
"Did you pick out the nuts you wanted?" Bakugou's irritation had gone down to a very low, very faint simmer, and when he asked he was almost in true neutral. When Toru gave him the bag she'd bought, Bakugou poured them out on a plate and actually studied them for a bit. "Alright, these kinds are gonna be better roasted, so let me fire up another pan for that. These can go in on their own. Chop these up, they'll be too much in one bite if you don't. Here, just do it like this and you'll be fine. Got it? Okay, I can stir that for a bit while you get those ready."
"Bakugou-kun, thank you so much!" Toru said, the knife coming up as she began chopping some hazelnuts into smaller pieces.
"Whatever," Bakugou muttered, but there was no bite to his tone anymore.
Mina wanted to make white chocolate, Momo had red cherries to add to hers, and Ochako wanted oranges in hers.
"These going to anyone in particular?" Bakugou asked when it was Ochako's turn, the rest of the girls busy with watching their chocolates set in the molds.
"Oh! Um, no, no, it's just. All the boys are getting them," she said, scratching the back of her head. She'd realized early on that romance could not possibly be in the cards for her if she wanted to become a strong hero first, and her goals hadn't changed. Although, in all honesty, neither had her feelings.
Bakugou grunted, mumbling something under his breath.
She regretted asking as soon as she did, because the smirk Bakugou gave her was pure and utter evil. "You know I know who likes orange in their chocolate, right? We've only fucking known each other our whole lives."
Ochako turned bright red. "It's not-- that's not--"
Bakugou just snickered. "Whatever, Round Face." But he said nothing else about the matter, leaving Ochako marveling at the fact that, if she read that right, Bakugou had just teased her. Over a boy.
They barely had time to thank him, their chocolates now set and wrapped and ready to be distributed, before Bakugou was shooing them out of the kitchen with clear instructions not to let anyone in for the next hour.
"Then you can clean up," he reminded them before shutting the door in their faces.
All the boys but one (but Mineta didn't count) had chocolates on their desks come Valentine's Day morning. It was an almost even pile for all, but an especially larger one for Bakugou, who the girls all decided deserved an extra piece for his help.
"The hell is this? I hate chocolate," he groused, glaring at the girls. Ochako didn't care; by now she knew Bakugou didn't really mean it. She beamed and mouthed the words 'thank you' at him. He looked away with a huff.
The rest of the boys, as they came in, were all thrilled to see the chocolates. Deku blubbered so excitedly over the orange flavor that Ochako knew one look at Bakugou and she would break, but it was definitely nice to see how much he liked it.
Ojiro's desk was empty, but Ochako knew Toru had planned to confess before class started, so she must have pulled Ojiro away to talk to him in private.
"Ashido, you did the white chocolates?" Satou asked, grinning at Mina and flashing her a thumbs up. "They look really good!"
"The dark chocolate works really well with cherries. Thank you, Yaoyorozu-san," Tokoyami told Momo.
"Now you gotta make sure you don't fuck up for White Day," Kyouka was telling Kaminari with a smirk.
"We certainly won't fail you! Thank you so much, everyone!" Tenya promised, standing up in front of everyone and bowing low.
Ochako giggled. He was always so earnest and took things so seriously. But this was what she'd hoped for, when she suggested the activity, just a moment where the class got together and acted for themselves, selfish as that sounded. It made her chest warm with affection for everyone, and she thought, almost bitterly, that this was something she would definitely miss once the term ended.
She sighed, resting her cheek against the heel of her palm as she watched her classmates. At Ojiro and Toru finally walking in, clearly holding hands. At Hanta and Mina, chatting in a loose circle with Kyouka and Momo. At Deku, eyes shining happily. Todoroki and Tokoyami, in quiet conversation. Bakugou, studiously glaring at his notes. Kirishima, frowning at his chocolates--
He looked up just then and caught Ochako's gaze. "Is something wrong, Kirishima?" she couldn't help asking.
"No, um-- I don't think so?" he said, tilting his head to the side. He was holding a box of chocolates in particular, one Ochako did not remember any of the girls making. "Just. Uh. Which one of you made the one with bacon in it?"
There were very few true shows of forces in the world. Ochako knew All Might's presence and All for One's were two of them, and she'd had the small fortune of never having seen either up close. But at that moment she experienced the collective and unbelievable will and power of six teenaged girls decidedly not looking in the direction of one Bakugou Katsuki.
"Oh, you got something else?" she asked brightly, putting in as much innocence and surprise in the question. "I don't know who that could be from, Kirishima!"
Mina and Toru jumped in immediately too.
"Yeah, sorry to say it's definitely not any of us!"
"We would tell you if it were."
Even Momo caught on. "But that sounds like they know you really well. You like meat a lot, don't you?"
"Is there a note or anything?" Kyouka asked. "Did they want to meet, maybe?"
Kirishima shook his head.
"I'm sure they'd let you know when they were ready," Tsuyu told him.
Ochako nodded emphatically. She wasn't sure what, if any, Bakugou had planned, but she had never been so certain in all six of the girls' determination not to ruin that.
But it didn't quite stop her from texting him a message later, between classes:
Do your best! Plus Ultra!
Mezou was a man of few words, which was a little ironic considering technically, he could have six mouths if he needed them. But he'd always preferred to use his other senses, choosing to observe and study his surroundings in order to make the best decisions.
So it hadn't come as a surprise to him when Bakugou and Kirishima started dating. Granted, it hadn't come as a surprise to anyone by the time it actually happened, but Mezou had the additional advantage of nearly three years of proximity via living on the same floor.
He'd gotten used to the creaking of doors in the middle of the night not long after they first moved into the dorms, sounds he learned to tune out once he realized they were usually preceded by a muffled sob or a faint explosion. They happened again after that internship mission, but then it was the door closer to Mezou's that would creak open and shut close.
It became routine over the next few years when, inevitably, something happened to either boy. So, too, did the hushed late night conversations that Mezou did his best to ignore. He was observant, not voyeuristic.
He knew both boys were close, that they had grown closer over the years. He knew that Kirishima was a calming presence on Bakugou's explosive nature as much as Bakugou was a source of strength to Kirishima's fears. He hadn't meant to learn these things, but his senses were honed to an extent that neither of them probably realized, and he'd have needed to custom order ear plugs-- an expensive purchase-- if he'd wanted to cancel out the noise entirely. He did always try to give them their space and privacy out of respect, but he still needed to follow curfew.
If only Bakugou and Kirishima did too.
It was late at night on Valentine's Day when Bakugou knocked on Kirishima's door, later still when the frustrated stammering gave way to quiet whispers and, probably, heartfelt declarations. Mezou tried not to think about that.
He turned onto his side, his back to the wall he shared with Kirishima's room, blanket tucked underneath his chin, and closed his eyes.
On the other side of the wall, the bed creaked.
Mezou's eyes flew open. All six of his appendages turned into hands just to cover his ears with.
On the other side of the wall, someone moaned.
Mezou shot up in bed and was out his room and down the stairs in the next minute. If Aizawa-sensei wanted to punish him for breaking curfew, then so be it. There were, Mezou realized, worse things to endure.
Like learning what sounds Bakugou made in bed.
Mezou shuddered at the memory. It was impossible to forget now, seared as it was into his brain. Now he was on the first floor, not sure how long he might need before it was safe to return to his room. Ten minutes? Twenty? An hour, to be sure? Or would they end up talking the entire night? He huffed, sinking down into the couch in the common area and burying his face in all six of his hands as he realized this was just day one of Bakugou and Kirishima's relationship.
Maybe he could move into that extra room on the fifth floor.
Mezou hadn't planned on falling asleep at the couch, but the next time he opened his eyes there was a little bit of early morning light peeking in through the windows and the soft hum of activity in the kitchen. It was only a little past six, classes not for another two hours, but once he was awake there was little he could do to go back to sleep. He rolled out of the couch and went to see if he could get himself some coffee, only to find Kirishima there.
"Shouji! Morning! You're up early," Kirishima greeted, too happy for the hour. He had come down in a tank and shorts, despite the chill of winter. There was some bruising visible on his neck and collar, and Mezou wasn't sure if he was aware they were there at all. He closed his eyes, wishing he could unsee that.
"Couldn't sleep," he mumbled, his exhausted brain supplying the words unfiltered to his mouth.
"Why n-- oh. Oh." Kirishima's entire face reddened, the egg he'd been holding in his palm cracking when his hand unintentionally hardened. "Shit. I'm sorry, man, that was totally not cool of u-- um. Sorry."
"I just have, uh, more sensitive hearing than most," Mezou said with a shrug, grabbing a paper towel and handing it over to Kirishima once he realized what he'd done with the egg. "So you know, next time. But I'm glad you two--"
He didn't think it possible, but Kirishima flushed even more. "Uh. Yeah. Thanks, that's-- thank you." He beamed. "I'm making him breakfast! He's always kind of doing that sort of stuff for me so I figured I'd return the favor or something."
"I think he'd appreciate that." And, remembering he'd never actually seen Kirishima cook before, Mezou added: "Do you need help?"
"Ahh, thank you, but I actually know how to make a few things," Kirishima admitted, scratching his chin. At Mezou's raised eyebrow-- this was new information, wasn't it?-- Kirishima grinned guiltily. "Do you think I would have stopped him making me food just because I knew how?"