Friday morning. The walls of the 1-A dormitory corridor glow in patches where the sunlight pours from the windows at the ends. Kirishima rocks on the balls of his feet in front of Bakugou’s door, bag strapped tight to his back. He glances at his watch, pouting as the seconds drag on. It’s a coin toss as to which one of them waits for the other on a given morning, but they never cut it so close to the end of Lunch Rush’s breakfast before class.
“Bakugou?” Kirishima knocks on his door, a notch in his brow. “You almost ready?”
“Yeah, hold on.”
There’s a pause, a shuffle, and Kirishima pulls a face. Bakugou sounds even more muffled through the door, and the thick sigh that leaks through sets off another red flag for him. His mouth is already parted, another question ready to leap out, before the door swings open.
“Yo, dude,” Kirishima pulls back for a better look, but then his brows fly up his face. “Oh, man.”
It takes a second, but Kirishima’s eyes are boggled taking in Bakugou’s state. He almost wants to check his own hair from how much Bakugou’s is drooping, matted in clumps against the sweat of his forehead. They hide his eyes, squinted and crinkled to slits, the bags under his eyes dragging like evening shadows down his face. His cheeks are puffed pink like peaches, dark and flushed and swollen, a charcoal cough mask covering most of the damage.
It’s supposed to barrel out in a spit of a snap, but Bakugou’s nose is clogged like a backed up toilet, and his voice sounds lost in an echo chamber of cheese graters, rasping out of his lips. As much as Kirishima’s chest tightens, he can’t help but smile.
“You look like one of those K-pop stars, with that mask on,” he grins.
It’s true. Somehow, sagging in his uniform two sizes too big, sweating and squinting and the image of death, Bakugou looks as captivating as ever. Kirishima can guess it’s him being biased, but it’s a bias that shows in the slow, embarrassed frown that pinches Bakugou’s nose, when he clicks his tongue.
“Weirdo,” he mutters, the sound snotty and nasal with his breath. “We’re gonna be late. Let’s head.”
It like the gears switch back online in Kirishima’s head, when he sees Bakugou turn to leave.
“Oh, nuh-uh!” His palms plants onto Bakugou’s chest, stopping him where he stands. “Nah. Nah-ah. Nope.”
“What the hell,” Bakugou seethes, but it’s dampened by the creak in his voice, the blear of his eyes when he struggles to blink. “What’re you doing?”
“You’re not going to class, dude.” Kirishima shakes his head, shrugging at Bakugou’s side-eye of a glare. “I won’t let you do that to yourself. You need to rest.”
“I’m not missing class,” Bakugou barks. Or tries to, with how his voice fades with use, pushing against Kirishima’s grip. “Don’t fuckin’ test me, I’ll… I’ll…”
Kirishima watches as Bakugou rears back, breath chafing through his mouth as his eyes squeeze and his brows contort. He briefly wonders what it looks like without the mask before Bakugou snaps forward in a sneeze, sniffing like his nose is a swamp, eyes teary, heaving like he’s running a marathon to death’s door.
“You’ll sneeze on me?” Kirishima finishes, a brow raised. He catches Bakugou’s baleful look, which in his current state reminds Kirishima of a vexed kitten, before his sympathy starts to shine through. “Babe, you’ll just get even worse if you don’t rest today.”
He keeps Bakugou’s gaze, which stays stubborn on him. But it flickers down, considering Kirishima’s point, and he knows it’s bad if Bakugou isn’t raising hell putting up a fight.
In a thought, he parts Bakugou’s hair to put his forehead to his. His bristle frissons through him this close, and Kirishima catches the whisper of surprise in his eyes. His forehead burns his own to the touch, and he hums with concern.
“You’re burning up,” he sighs, stepping back so only a ghost of Bakugou’s fever lingers on his skin. “I’ll let Aizawa know and get you stuff from Recovery Girl. I’ll take notes and get some from Iida and the others so you won’t fall behind either. Alright?”
Bakugou levels him a sniping scowl, blunted with how his every breath comes as a sniffle, and Kirishima is happy to go toe to toe with him in a staring contest. He won’t budge on this, he’s unbreakable, but the tuck of Bakugou’s chin, the scrunch of his eyes, and the baby creases between his brows make for a formidable opposition. He plans on fireman carrying Bakugou back to bed come what may, but the iron will and bite Bakugou fights to put up while moments away from being bedridden threatens to melt Kirishima’s heart on the spot.
“…Use your phone to record the classes,” he mutters, nose still bunched, reminding Kirishima of a frowning puppy. “M’not using anyone else’s notes.”
“Sure thing. I can send you the recordings after.”
“I got soup from last night in the fridge. Heat that up and bring it here.”
“Great, I can do that now before class. I can bring you stuff from Lunch Rush at lunch too if you want.”
“Yeah, that’d work.” It takes a second, with Bakugou glowering at Kirishima’s tie. “…You coming after class?”
He can see the walls crumbling, the drawbridge lowering, when Bakugou peeks up at him. A reluctance and willingness churning in his eyes when he seeks out Kirishima, in a way that he could only describe as adorable.
“I dunno, Bakugou,” he teases, eyes shining. “D’you want me to?”
Bakugou scowls at him harder, his frustration making Kirishima all light and floaty inside. His face mask shifts with his mumbling.
Kirishima can’t help it. The grin that overtakes him hurts his cheeks, when he kisses Bakugou on the cheek, right above his face mask.
“I’ll come running then,” he murmurs, beaming when he pulls away, eyes smiling at Bakugou’s frowning. “Get to bed, okay? I’ll tuck you in myself in you don’t.”
“Don’t tempt me, you dick,” Bakugou croaks. His bag strap slides off his shoulder when he slinks back to his room. “Soup.”
“Yup.” There’s a skip in his step when he rears back, weight on his heel when he starts for the dormitory kitchen. “I wanna see you in bed by the time I get back!”
He doesn’t hear much besides more grumbling, but Kirishima smiles from ear to ear even when Bakugou’s door clicks shut. For some reason, as much as Bakugou’s health did worry him, there was something about the way Bakugou was acting, how soft he was while staying rough around the edges, that made Kirishima so excited to take care of him.
By the time Kirishima comes back with soup, he opens the door to find Bakugou asleep. He leaves the soup wrapped in foil on his bedside table, and snaps a picture of his sleeping face on his phone before he heads to class, humming his favourite song to himself on the way.
When Kirishima comes by with lunch and cooling packs, he sees the blankets rucked with Bakugou on his side and the soup bowl empty.
He makes as little noise as he can putting down lunch and taking the bowl, but Bakugou’s groan shatters the silence when he stirs. Kirishima checks on him, watching Bakugou roll to his other size so he’s facing him, the rows of his dusky lashes unsticking so he’s looking at him. Peering at Kirishima with his face half-hidden in his quilt, his hair like a dandelion in the dark.
It’s a hoarse, feeble little noise. A whisper in the dark, with the curtains drawn shut, sludge-thick with his plugged sinuses.
Kirishima’s heart floods with love at the sound, when he crouches by his bed.
“Hey,” he whispers back. Smile soft on his face when he tucks Bakugou’s hair out of his eyes. “How’re you feeling?”
“Like shit,” Bakugou grumbles from his quilt coccoon. “Dumb question.”
Kirishima can only chuckle at that. “Ask a question, get an answer.” He strokes Bakugou’s cheek, hot at his fingertips, studying how Bakugou leans into his fingers like a sweet, roughed up little stray. “Have you drank anything since you had your soup?”
Bakugou sinks away from his fingers at the question, a rumble in his throat. Kirishima sighs, his smile helpless when he rises out of his squat.
“Where’re you going?”
Kirishima has to chew his lip. The whine in Bakugou’s voice, dare he call it a plea, inspires the bone-deep urge to coo like his boyfriend’s a baby. It’s the fastest way he can think of to get an explosion to the face and a cuddle embargo for a week, so he swallows it down and settles to pet Bakugou’s hair, a gesture he only learned comforted him when they got closer.
“I’m getting you some water, babe,” he says, stroking Bakugou’s head, his downy hair like feathers brushing against his palm. “Then you can have lunch.”
Bakugou peeks from his covers. “What did you get me?”
“Congee. I figure it’d be best for your body right now.”
“I don’t want it.”
Kirishima’s eyes go wide. “Lunch Rush made it special though. It’ll be good.”
Bakugou keeps staring at him, his frown a shade less neutral than what Kirishima expects. Kirishima keeps staring back, fascinated by how Bakugou doesn’t come out with what he wants like usual, till he cracks on his own, trying to roll away from Kirishima’s gaze in his bed burrito.
“…Eating that soup was a bitch this morning,” he mumbles. “Don’t want it.”
Kirishima cocks his head, lip thin with thought. The fever must’ve been worse than Bakugou let on. It’s nothing to do with the taste, but just with the difficulty.
Then the bulb in his head switches on, shining light through his blinking eyes. Kirishima gnaws on his inner cheek in a bitten grin, swept up in wanderlust when Bakugou’s curled up frame turns into a map of unchartered seas.
“I could feed you,” he tries, already smiling. He can never stop when he’s around Bakugou. “I already ate my lunch earlier, so I got time to kill.”
His heart feels weightier in his chest. The beat presses heavy and steady on his eardrums when Bakugou turns back, not quite meeting Kirishima’s eye. For the first time that morning, maybe the third in the time Kirishima’s known him, Bakugou looks bashful.
“Whatever.” He shuffles again, lying so he’s facing up. Glancing once at Kirishima before he’s frowning closing his eyes. “Get on with it.”
Kirishima knows. If he didn’t before, he’s convinced now: he has the cutest boyfriend in the world.
It’s like a campfire in his heart. The glow radiates through the gaps of his ribcage, the light and warmth blossoming through the bone, blood, and sinew with which his body’s weaved. It warms him down the length of his limbs, to the tip of each of his fingers when he gets Bakugou a glass of water, guiding him to sit up with the gentlest voice, the tenderest touch. When his thumb draws circles at the small of Bakugou’s back as he drinks the water he gives him, gets him tissue when he sneezes, he feels content in a way he’s never felt before.
His spoon clinks against the ceramic bowl before it brims with glutinous congee. The rising steam smells rich and warm when he blows on it, pursing his lips close so it cools down before he brings the spoon to Bakugou’s lips, his hand cupped to catch any spill.
Bakugou doesn’t gripe once as he’s being fed. It may be out of fatigue, but the permanent grouch on his face smooths out with every spoonful, at most sniffling before he eats. Slowly and surely, he looks utterly relaxed. His eyes lidded, almost demure when he slurps the congee Kirishima gives him.
They don’t speak much. Kirishima asks once if the congee tastes good, and Bakugou just shrugs before eating more. The clinks of his spoon, the puffs of his breath, Bakugou’s slurps and sniffs blend together in a cycle, the smell of chicken congee flavouring the air. Blowing cool every spoonful he feeds him, Kirishima thinks he could do this for the rest of his life.
When he catches a dribble of congee from Bakugou’s lip with his spoon, Kirishima thinks he would, if Bakugou needed it.
The thought lodges in Kirishima’s throat, and he catches his breath. He doesn’t think he can tell Bakugou that for at least a few years, when he leaves a kiss on his cheek instead. Bakugou makes a soft noise at the contact, and Kirishima’s grin stretches even wider.
“I like this,” he admits, smiling to himself while scooping up more congee. “Maybe you should get sick more often.”
“Don’t even joke about that.”
His body rocks with chuckles at Bakugou’s growl, like a cub of the beast he usually is. Kirishima kisses him again, this time on the temple, before he finishes feeding him.
After tucking in Bakugou, he picks up the dirty bowls and his bag to head back to class. It’s with another kiss on his forehead that he leaves his room, a sigh saturated with satisfaction seeping from his bones.
Suddenly, there’s a scuffle. “Oh, crap–”
Kirishima’s eyes snap open on alert, the sound of a tumble snatching his attention. He looks to the end of the corridor, where he sees Kaminari and Jirou fallen on top of each other, looking up at him with wide eyes.
He spots Kaminari’s phone in his hand, and Jirou’s earjack trailing from the wall by Bakugou’s door, and the puzzle pieces slot together.
“Buddy, bro, super platonic love o’mine,” Kaminari rambles, backed by charisma and fuelled by panic. “I know what it looks like, but I want you to know that truth is stranger is fiction when I tell you, with complete, one hundred percent honesty, that Jirou and I,” he gestures at her baffled stare, “are now smashing.”
With a punch from Jirou that makes Kirishima wince just watching, Kaminari yelps.
“OW, okay, fine!” he winces, clutching his shoulder. “We were spying, but she made me do it!”
“You are so full of shit!” Jirou hisses at him, red in the face.
“I’ll have you know baseless accusations are unbecoming of a lady, Jirou.”
“What’s on that phone, guys?”
Both Kaminari and Jirou freeze at the question. Kirishima levels them a stare that could bear down a building, and Kaminari’s voice is oddly pitched when he starts humming in thought.
“Like…just a pic,” he mumbles. At Kirishima’s burning stare, he swallows. “A video, maybe?”
“Oh my god.” Jirou’s hand drags down her face.
“Or maybe I’m lying and I have nothing?” Kaminari tries again, grin plastered on his face.
The staredown lasts for another second. Then Kirishima takes off in a dead sprint at them, and Kaminari and Jirou scramble to their feet, both cursing up a storm.
“Don’t kill us!” Kaminari pleads, skidding down a corner before running for dear life. “We can’t split the winnings with you if we’re dead!”
“Gimme that phone, Kaminari!” Kirishima yells, storming after them.
“Kaminari!” Jirou’s whirls her head around, earjack stretching back as she takes the lead. “Pass it!”
Kaminari hands out his phone for Jirou’s earjack to wrap tight around it, reeling it back like a catch on a line she throws into her hand. She leaps down the staircase as Kirishima tackles Kaminari a second too late, spitting a curse before he goes for Jirou.
“Go, Jirou!” Kaminari cries after them. “Spread our legacy…!”
As they disappear down to the ground floor, Kaminari sighs in relief. Adrenaline dying, he looks down to check the damage, before blinking at the pile of bowls and spoons now cradled in his hands.
He slumps on his way to the washroom sinks. As much as Kaminari hates it, dish duty is a small price to pay for spreading gospel.
He manages to negotiate with Jirou after catching her, leaving her a photo and keeping the video for himself with a steak lunch waiting in the wings for his trouble.
Damage control is fun, but it takes a lot out of Kirishima for the rest of the day. He changes into loose home clothes and puts on his headband, doing some reps with the weights in his room before he heads back to Bakugou’s. He replaces the cool towel his forehead and pulls a chair up by his bedside. The wastebasket at Bakugou’s bedside steadily fills with more tissues as he tell Bakugou about his day, passing more when Bakugou needs them.
“That’s why you were so goddamn noisy outside,” is all Bakugou murmurs.
“Yeah, it was a whole thing. I locked the door this time,” Kirishima sighs, stroking Bakugou’s head. “I’m sorry if we woke you.”
“S’fine.” A breath leaks through Bakugou’s nose, a cough shuddering his throat. “Couldn’t sleep anyway.”
Kirishima hums. He plays with Bakugou’s hair as he pets it. “Feel any better?”
Bakugou doesn’t answer, and Kirishima doesn’t push for one. He figures Bakugou is ready to fall asleep, before he shuffles in bed, facing Kirishima.
Kirishima’s heart rockets into his throat. A bewildered, goofy smile takes over his shock. “Huh?”
“Cuddle me,” Bakugou demands again, absolutely sullen with his nose blocked. “I’m not saying it again.”
Kirishima can hear the crack of the whip with the words, but he can’t care leaping into action. He deliberates only for a second before settling for sitting up against the headboard. Bakugou sits between his legs and lies back like he’s his personal recliner. Holding his wrists loosely around Bakugou’s waist, his back burning the front of his torso through his shirt, his lips by the curl and cup of his ear, Kirishima could soar with joy.
”You’re so warm," he whispers, smiling. Around Bakugou, he’s never tired of smiling. “Like a big heater.” He kisses the back of Bakugou’s head, giggling before hugging him closer. “My dandelion heater.”
“Shut up,” Bakugou pouts, no force behind it when he snuggles back into Kirishima’s wide chest, his warm hold. “Damn sap.”
“I’m blaming you for that.”
He giggles as Bakugou grumbles, complying readily when Bakugou demands payment in continued cuddles. On the side, his phone lights up with a notification, a message promising barbeque from the group chat and with well wishes. A picture of Bakugou’s sleeping face decorates his lock screen before his phone goes back to sleep, with the real thing nuzzling into Kirishima’s arms.
He soothes Bakugou to sleep again with another kiss to his head, whispering him good night and words too soft for anyone else to know.