Nobody messes with Bakugo because they know he carries gasoline and matches in his pockets. He’s regarded as a lost cause anyway so society isn’t missing out by ignoring him. He was expelled six times throughout his middle school years and high school should be no different, except his parents have procured an establishment that boasts a zero dropout rate and offers special classes for those at risk of it - which, in truth, just means they corral all the troublemaking kids and leave them to fuck up each other, demanding no real academic accomplishments from them.
Naturally, Bakugo asserts himself as the pack leader on his first day. His introduction consists of cracking his knuckles while spewing threats and insults, then spitting up some blood for good measure. People need to be aware of the fact that he’s not scared of enduring physical pain.
Since no one’s really being quiet as they should be, Bakugo’s addressed the moment he takes a seat, by a rather sanguine voice. He glances at this stranger, the corner of his lips opening into a snarl.
“Yo, man, that was, like, so cool? Where’d you learn to talk like that? Do you work out? ‘Cause you’ve got manly as hell muscles!”
A mouth jammed with filed teeth grins at Bakugo, excited eyes beaming from behind sleek, obsidian bangs. The stranger’s elbows are propped on his desk and he’s holding his chin in his palms.
“The fuck did you just say?” Bakugo grumbles because he honestly did not understand half of it.
A nervous, breathless laugh slips through the other boy’s lips. Bakugo’s never met someone that treats him like this and his gaze narrows with suspicion.
“Ah, sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? I’m Kirishima Eijiro! Pleasure to meet you, Bakugo!”
He thumps his chest as he says this, Bakugo’s name sliding off of his tongue like some kind of syrup he’s savoring.
Kirishima extends a hand to pat Bakugo’s arm, a friendly gesture that he performs around just about everyone, but Bakugo is hardwired to fight so he jerks away and stands.
“You wanna fucking go, asshole?” Bakugo barks, contour hardened by hostility.
Stunned, Kirishima gawks at him, but soon straightens his composure. He looks Bakugo up and down, chewing on his bottom lip.
“Yeah,” he says, devoid of emotional inflection. Then, with a hammering heart in his throat, he chokes, “no better way to get to know a guy than to wrestle it out.”
It’s the day Kirishima Eijiro falls in love - for the thousandth time, really, but this crush lasts him for a whole three years before detonating like a firecracker coiled around his neck.
Kaminari spends every class building towers of cards and practicing his magic tricks. He’s too smart for the shit they teach in the special education course, but he can’t concentrate during exams or speak fast enough when the teacher calls on him so he’s been stuck zoning this out since kindergarten. Class never lasts long anyway - there’s this kid that sits behind him with a chaotic case of poor anger management that always blows his fuse a couple of hours into the day. No one seems to have the guts to deal with him (Kaminari’s heard horror stories about those that did: threats on their lives, desks on fire, holes in walls from when they were punched - someone even got bit once), so the teacher usually excuses themself and then never returns.
Right on cue, the student behind Kaminari crosses his legs over his desk (touching a bit of Kaminari’s hair with his sole, which Kaminari flinches away from) and bellows, “shut the fuck up!”
Startled, the teacher leaps a little, as if this an unexpected development. Sweat manifests across his forehead as he registers who has spoken. He attempts a feeble, “ah, Bakugo.”
“I told you to shut up!” said boy shouts, flinging a notebook that’s never been used at the teacher. He dodges and it collides with the board, which drops onto the ground.
The teacher glances at it, seems to weigh his own wellbeing against it, and then stutters, “I’ll - I’ll find someone to fix this.”
As the teacher walks out, Bakugo crosses his arms over his chest and huffs. His face is so crumpled that it must hurt. His gnashing teeth give off the impression that he’s starved and will take a bite out of the first person to approach him.
The classroom promptly descends into anarchy.
Kaminari’s only friend is absent today (probably sneaking into the gym time of other classes again) so he’s fresh out of distractions. He could continue this game of solitary, but he realizes he’s messed up and would have to backtrack. That’s too much brain energy for his current level of attention deficiency. He decides to rest his arm on the back of his chair and turn to face mister McSplode.
“Hey, dude, thanks. Teacher was driving me crazy,” Kaminari says, flashing a salesman smile. He offers Bakugo his hand, which is a seriously dangerous move but he’s hoping that if a miracle is ever going drops on his lap it’s right fucking now.
Bakugo raises an eyebrow, taken aback by the mere fact that he’s been addressed. He must be a lonely loser, too, which makes Kaminari feel a little better.
There’s a pause, Bakugo’s glare attempting to burn holes through Kaminari’s chipper demeanor, but he remains firm and eventually Bakugo grunts. The moment his fingers brush Kaminari’s, Kaminari snatches his hand up with a mocking laugh.
All five of the electrifying rings he wears zap Bakugo.
“Asshole!” Bakugo yells, pulling back from Kaminari and aiming a punch. As he dodges, Kaminari’s glad Bakugo was surprised by his little trick because that grip he gave Kaminari was ready to bust bones.
“Calm down, calm down! It was just a little joke!” Kaminari jeers, eyes narrowing in satisfaction. Standing, he decides to move closer to the door so he can make a run for it if Bakugo gets serious about murdering him.
“Get back here, bastard!” screams Bakugo, but his route to Kaminari is blocked by Kirishima’s appearance.
“Kaminari!” Kirishima exclaims, grabbing his friend by the elbows and shaking him. Kirishima’s chest is heaving.
“Wha - what’s up?” answers Kaminari, the shadow of a smile draining the shock from his face. Kirishima’s excitement is always contagious.
“I got my dad’s car, let’s ditch class and -!”
Kirishima stops when he notices Bakugo’s seething presence. One hand has been shoved in his pocket, while the other remains in the air, clenching and unclenching with the desire to crush something.
Awed, Kirishima asks, “you’re friends with Bakugo?”
Of course he interprets Bakugo wanting to break someone’s neck as a possible sign of friendship.
Bakugo looks outraged, but Kaminari’s quicker to answer.
“Friends? Psh, no. I just pissed him off a little.”
Kirishima’s expression goes sullen. “Oh.”
Kaminari’s brain establishes a connection. His face explodes into shock.
Jabbing an index finger in Bakugo’s direction, Kaminari shrieks, “this is that Bakugo?”
Kirishima flushes a brilliant shade of red and starts scratching the back of his head. His tone is saccharine as he mumbles, “yeah, man.”
“The Bakugo you’re like in love with?”
Alarmed, Kirishima elbows his best friend. “Don’t say it in front of him!”
He steals a nervous glance at Bakugo.
Bakugo snorts, his expression cooling from fury to contempt. “I already know all about your idiotic crush on me, shitty hair.”
His voice is the definition of cruel but Kirishima’s heart still manages to flutter with affection. Bakugo’s the sort that douses anyone that attempts to get close to him with gasoline and the worst he’s done to Kirishima so far is step on his foot because he placed a hand on Bakugo’s chest a little too fondly during one of their wrestling matches, so clearly there’s hope here.
“Figures that you two are friends,” adds Bakugo, swiveling around to return to his desk (or, more likely, start a fight with some other victim).
“Hold on!” Kirishima calls, dashing after him. When Bakugo stops, Kirishima beams.
“You can come with us. I’ll buy you ice cream.”
He’s asking Bakugo out on a date, but Bakugo doesn’t give a fuck about that. Free ice cream is free ice cream.
Kaminari is going to demand that Kirishima get him one of those fancy sundaes with three different flavor, in exchange for third wheeling.
Shaking water from his hair, Kirishima squints at the mirror so he can assess his new appearance. Scarlet locks adorn his reflection, sending a shiver through his spine. He smirks at Kaminari standing next to him.
“Looks awesome, man,” Kaminari decrees, forming a thumbs up with his hand.
Kirishima grabs the bottle of gel and starts spiking up his hair. He’s spent the last month figuring out how best to do it and tonight he won’t be disappointed. He is going to clear the dance floor with his looks alone.
“I still can’t believe Bakugo’s letting you take him to a bar, like it’s an actual date or something,” Kaminari says. There’s a jealous edge to his tone - there’s no way he’d ever get involved with someone like Bakugo but damn it must be nice to be in love at all.
“Me neither, honestly,” answers Kirishima, as thrilled as when he first informed Kaminari of this development. “I didn’t even ask if he wanted to go. I was just telling him about how apparently there’s a gay bar in the area now and you were gonna be my wingman, and then he said, why do you need a wingman? Dude has no idea how to say he wants to do something but luckily I understood.”
Kaminari snorts, arms crossing over his chest. “You better be my wingman, then.”
Winking at him through the mirror, Kirishima says, “I’ll try my best, but if Bakugo decides to -”
“Stop. Shut up,” Kaminari interrupts, sounding severe but he’s still smiling. “If you guys decide to do anything at all make sure I can’t find out. If you disappear, I won’t even go looking - you’re on your own.”
He’s joking, obviously, but Kirishima hums as if in agreement. As revolutionary as the prospect may seem, the best Kirishima can hope for from Bakugo is a hug. Their relationship is in its infancy - if he can call their awkward back and forth flirting and a little too touchy wrestling a relationship.
He’s never been so excited for the future.
“You are,” Bakugo says, pausing as he wrinkles his nose. Kirishima leans into him, hands cupping Bakugo’s ears.
“Drunk. You idiot, you are fucking drunk,” concludes Bakugo, irritated.
Kirishima’s features broaden as if he’s heard something outrageous. “It’s a bar! What did you expect me to be?”
Bakugo allows Kirishima to kiss his cheek, blushing a smidge. He’s had more alcohol than Kirishima but his gut is a fortress. He’s as sharp as ever.
Under his breath, Bakugo grumbles, “yeah, but I was hoping to make some progress before this happened. Now we can’t do anything.”
Kirishima gasps at him. Were he sober, he’d be so flattered he’d hide his face in his hands.
Juvenile delinquent Bakugo Katsuki does not play when senses are impaired.
Through a snicker, Bakugo adds, “you probably won’t remember any of this anyway. It’d be a shame.”
Placing one hand on Kirishima’s collarbone, Bakugo smashes their lips together - like, with actual smashing force. Kirishima moans as Bakugo pulls away, batting his eyelashes like the flirtatious bastard he is. Bakugo’s heart races but he contains himself. He picks Kirishima up, bridal style, and yells at Kaminari hitting on the bartender.
On the ride home, Bakugo has to deal with Kaminari blabbering about all the guys and gals he exchanged phone numbers with. Kirishima falls asleep on the floor of the back seat.
A fist collides with Bakugo’s jaw and he stumbles backwards, the wall saving him from falling to the ground. His nails rake against the concrete, a snarl forming on his face that promises to pay his aggressor back tenfold. They exchange glares while Bakugo fondles the switchblade in his pocket.
The guy lunges, arm raised to take another swing at Bakugo, but a stone slams into his temple and he freezes. Blood oozes down his ear. He touches it with his hand, heartbeat skyrocketing.
“Hey, asshole, stay away from my boyfriend!” Kirishima yells, throwing another rock. It bounces off of the wall, barely missing the guy’s shoulder.
Reeling, his gaze locks onto Kirishima sitting atop the building. How he climbed up there is anyone’s guess.
Kirishima smirks. Bakugo grunts, pissed off at Kirishima for intervening in another of his fights. He can no longer earn the satisfaction of winning this on his own, so he pulls out the knife and moves it in a threatening arch - that’ll scare him off.
It does, so Kirishima leaps onto the fire escape and then climbs over the railing to land on the ground. He races up to Bakugo, breath quick with adrenaline.
“You piece of shit. I’m not your boyfriend,” Bakugo growls, eyeing Kirishima with disgust. Through a soft chuckle, Kirishima headbutts him.
“Sure, sure. I’ll call you something else then. Is snogging partner acceptable?”
Wrapping his arm around Kirishima, Bakugo performs a headlock. His voice bristles as he barks, “I have a fucking name, dumbass! Just call me Bakugo!”
Kirishima’s still roaring with laughter as he says, “you never call me by my name, though! I want to use pet names, too!”
Heaving an exhausted sigh, Kaminari sinks into the seat adjacent to his best friend.
“How’d it go?” Kirishima asks, attempting to look hopeful but he’s every bit as crushed as Kaminari.
“Nothing new,” is Kaminari’s bitter response - all the counselor ever does is paraphrase Kaminari’s academic failure.
“Yeah, my prognosis is pretty grim, too,” offers Kirishima.
Sitting opposite to them with arms folded over his chest, Bakugo huffs. He hasn’t got any good news, either, but at least he doesn’t engage in this dumb game of self-pity.
“I,” Kirishima says, hesitant, uncertain. His mouth feels dry. Clasped hands are sweating.
After a pause, his muscles loosen and he continues: “I want to be a pro wrestler. And I want my stage name to be Red Riot.”
“Dude, that’s so cool,” Kaminari responds, flashing him an encouraging smile. His hand forms finger guns while he adds, “bet you don’t need school for that, just lots and lots of gym time.”
It’s always felt like an unattainable goal, but Kirishima shows his friend a grateful expression. Admitting to the fact that he has a goal at all bestows a special brand of satisfaction.
“What about you?” inquires Kirishima. He knows that Kaminari hates discussing the future but he’s opened up here and their camaraderie demands equivalent exchange.
Raising his hand to rub his nape, Kaminari answers in a nonchalant tone, “I guess it wouldn’t be bad to help kids like us. Everyone does a shit job here and, I dunno, maybe if we had someone that actually cares about us we’d stand a chance at getting better. I know we’ve got the potential.”
A spark of passion emerges midway, revealing how serious Kaminari is about his own dream. Out of the three, he’s suffered the most at the hands of a messed up academic system. Society’s never been compassionate to kids like him.
Kirishima chooses his words carefully when he says, “that sounds like it’ll take a lot of work, but I’m sure you can make a difference somewhere.”
They exchange optimistic gazes, the pressure in Kirishima’s chest diminishing, Kaminari’s shoulders ceasing to shiver.
“You’re both idiots,” comes Bakugo’s contemptuous statement.
Kaminari turns to face him with a pungent frown. His eyebrows have knitted.
“Oh, yeah? What’s your plan then? Gonna burn down the school and then rot in jail?”
Shocked by his friend’s harshness, Kirishima gapes. He shoots Bakugo a sympathetic, apologetic look, but Bakugo ignores it.
Standing, Bakugo adopts a defiant, menacing stance. Fists are clamped by his sides.
“I’m not stopping here! I’m showing those bastards what I’m capable of!” he shouts.
Kaminari doesn’t get it, but Kirishima muses for a second and then gasps.
“You’re… you’re applying for college?” he asks. Disbelief is scrawled across his features. Bakugo has never struck him as the kind of person to want that.
Boggled, Kaminari exclaims, “for real?”
Lowering his gaze to the ground, Bakugo’s sole response is a growl. He’s never admitted this to anyone. They’re the first people to hear.
Recovering at lightning speed, Kirishima straightens himself up as well and says, “that’s great! You should totally do it! I'm no good at studying, but Kaminari’s actually really smart so he can probably help you. And if you fail, you can try again next year. You shouldn't give up.”
Kirishima grabs Bakugo’s hand, which almost lasts for a whole minute before Bakugo shakes him off. Snorting, he strides away, but Kirishima catches the corner of his mouth upturned into a smile.
As soon as Bakugo’s out of earshot, Kaminari says, “man, I really hope you two get married and adopt me because I’m going to need somewhere to crash when my parents finally kick me out.”
“Okay, okay,” Kaminari says, attempting to ease his breathing so he doesn’t slide into a panic attack. Sitting next to him, Kirishima rubs his back, eyebrows quirked in concern. Feigning disinterest, Bakugo watches them from the corner of his eye.
Sucking air in through his teeth, Kaminari plunges into his story: “so you know I’ve been stealing electronics from people’s houses, mostly satellite dishes and those light up animals people put in their yards - well, turns out the police has started investigating, and a couple of them came to my house today, so I had to go to the station, were luckily they decided I’m not who they’re looking for, but of course my parents know, and - and they have a criminal record! Like, these people even took me away for a few months when I was a kid, because they thought I was being abused.”
Here he pauses to laugh, loud and scornful. Kirishima grips his best friend’s trembling shoulder.
“I was - I am -, but it’s never been proven, so I went back home. Anyway, they’ve been terrified of me making a case against them ever since. They’ve threatened me to not even speak to the police. But, I mean, what choice did I have in that situation? Now I’m sure they’re either going to beat the shit out of me or turn me in so I never have a chance to talk!”
Kaminari covers his face with both hands, exhaling a sad, frightened whine.
“You… you don’t have to go home immediately,” Kirishima says, gentle like he’s treating an open wound, “you can crash with me until things cool down.”
He offers a smile, but Kaminari looks up at him with dread.
“No. If I don’t return soon, they will phone the police,” is his verdict.
So this is why Kaminari has invited them to his doorstep - he wants someone that cares about him to be present when his parents find him.
Bakugo scoffs. “Run away then. They aren’t doing you any favors. Fucking shelter’s probably better.”
Kaminari looks like he considers this for a moment, but the weight of the unknown proves too powerful.
“They’ll find me eventually. And when they do -”
The sound of wood creaking alerts them to the door being opened. Kaminari leaps from the ground, landing next to Bakugo. Kirishima turns to face Kaminari’s mother. His expression hardens with hatred.
“Denki, darling,” she chimes, a tone that is cloying, “you’re finally. Home.”
The pause between her words makes Kaminari flinch. He actually bends towards Bakugo, as if his violent temper can blow away this problem, too.
Turns out it can.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Bakugo grumbles, grabbing Kaminari by his forearm and stalking away. Both Kaminari and Kirishima stare in astonishment. Kaminari’s mother frowns.
“You said you keep a copy of the car’s key, right?” Bakugo whispers. Swallowing the knot in his throat, Kaminari manages to nod.
Releasing Kaminari, Bakugo punches through the truck’s window, then flips the lock. He opens the door and gestures with his head.
“Hurry the hell up,” he orders.
Kirishima runs up to them and nudges Kaminari. This snaps him out of his daze. He climbs into the driver’s seat.
“Hey -!” the woman yells, but they zone out the rest of it.
Kirishima and Bakugo cram into the back seat, one of them tense with panic, the other merely irritated. Kaminari catches a glimpse of his mother advancing, then slams his foot into the gas pedal.
Now I’m definitely going to jail, he thinks, but at least I dissed them good first.
Her scandalized expression will make him laugh in the darkest of times.
“So where are we going?” Kirishima asks. Kaminari’s been driving for about an hour and they’ve calmed down enough to think critically about their situation, which isn’t looking all that great.
“Ask Bakugo,” is Kaminari’s answer. He keeps a car key just in case he’s in desperate need of it - which hasn’t been often - and his driving experience is actually minimal. He needs to concentrate on the road or they’re all going to die before they make it anywhere.
Shrugging his shoulders, Bakugo says, “just get as far away as possible. Then you can figure out how to hide.”
In an anxious whisper, Kirishima asks, “so we’re really doing this?”
Kaminari produces a skittish chuckle. “No! No, we are not! I should just drop you two off and -”
“Stop being a fucking wuss,” Bakugo interjects. Kaminari can feel the intensity of his glare.
“If they’re going to ruin your life, then you might as well run for as long as you can. It’s like dying - no one can stop it, but why rush?”
An astonished silence follows. Kaminari gapes, then grimaces as one of the tires encroaches on the sidewalk. He spins the wheel to return the vehicle to the center of the road.
“That was… really manly - and profound,” Kirishima says.
Bakugo rolls his eyes.
“It only seems that way because you’re both morons with no common sense,” he retorts.
Scooting closer, Kirishima presses his arm into Bakugo’s. A smile has returned to his face.
“Thanks,” he says. Bakugo doesn’t protest when Kirishima kisses him, right on the mouth. Their fingers intertwine and it feels like inhaling after holding his breath underwater.
It hits Bakugo, rather violently, that he’s in love with this shithead.
“What about us?” Kirishima asks once they’re separated, though they remain in close proximity. For a moment, Bakugo think he’s talking about them as in their relationship. He prepares to tell Kirishima to fuck off because he can’t have this conversation right now, but realizes what Kirishima’s actual intentions are and stops himself.
Kirishima, however, detects the hopelessness that flashes in Bakugo’s eyes and offers a reassuring look - warm, patient, understanding.
Damn, Bakugo adores him.
“Yeah, ‘cause, like, I may - and I’m saying may because I’m not sure yet - be okay with being on the run, but you guys can’t just tag along. You have decent families. Bakugo, you have to go to college,” says Kaminari.
“We can figure that out later, too. We ditch school all the time,” Bakugo responds.
“I’ll phone my mom to tell her I’ll be out tonight. She won’t like it but she can’t stop me,” Kirishima says, a smirk now dancing on his lips.
Bakugo’s been going on and on about them just doing whatever the fuck they want, while he keeps inhibiting himself. Deciding that he’s had enough of that, he grabs Kirishima’s chin and kisses him again.
Desire goes both ways this time. Instead of merely accepting Kirishima’s mouth, Bakugo pours his heart into moving, too. Before this, their only proper kiss was during a sleepover in Kirishima’s house. Bakugo was ticked off that Kirishima had invited Kaminari because he ran his mouth like he was being executed in the next ten minutes and had written a really long essay to serve as his last words. Bakugo was also kind of nervous because he’d never been in Kirishima’s house at night and the prospect of them sleeping next to each other on the floor felt like a disaster waiting to happen. But when Kaminari finally tired himself out and fell asleep, Kirishima spilled half of his guts in front of Bakugo, saying how he loved Kaminari like a brother but couldn’t do anything about his shitty family situation, how bad he wanted to succeed in school but knew he’d always be a fucking idiot, how terrified he was of graduating without a future. Kirishima was crying, which Bakugo had no idea how to deal with, so he tried wiping the tears away with his sleeve. When a fresh wave crowded Kirishima’s eyes, Bakugo had the impulse to kiss him. He did. It felt special.
This feels special, too, but there’s none of that bittersweet atmosphere - no desperate need to blot out sadness, no trembling lips and downcast eyes.
Kirishima’s hands are squeezing Bakugo’s hips and their bodies are creating friction, and when they part Kirishima sighs and then laughs, a captivating sound.
“Do you love me?” Kirishima asks.
A knife slashes through Bakugo’s chest, dividing him in two. His right side is arranging an answer, the left wants to push Kirishima away and jump out of the vehicle.
“I’m not doing that gay shit,” Bakugo manages to grumble.
“Hah!” Kirishima exclaims, “your hand’s on my thigh - it’s already gay!”
Got him there.
Like coaxing a wild animal, Kirishima frees Bakugo’s hand and wraps his arms around him. Instinctively, Bakugo’s body shifts so Kirishima can climb onto his lap. Bakugo’s looking up at Kirishima now, a blend of apprehension and awe adorning his face. Kirishima recalls everything he’s learned about romance when their lips connect.
“I love you,” Bakugo concedes. He doesn’t even sound reluctant - he’s confident.
Kaminari glances at the front mirror and shouts, “hey! I told you to wait until I’m not around to do that!”