Kirishima doesn't have a problem with airplanes, it's the sitting still for forever that he's got a problem with. It's exhausting.
Ashido must be of a different opinion, because she's bouncing her feet and tapping her hands against her thighs as she's looking out the small airplane window, where the white ground is getting closer and closer. There's a jolt when the wheels hit the ground and her face breaks out into a wide grin.
On the other side of him, Kaminari immediately starts struggling to remove the grounding chain he'd been forced to wear for the entirety of the fifteen hour flight.
"Guys, we're in Europe!" Ashido squeals as she turns towards them, almost vibrating with excitement.
Kirishima only manages to hum in agreement, his headache not really making him up for any proper show of enthusiasm, while Kaminari ignores her completely in favor of rubbing his unchained wrist with a dramatic sigh of "Ah, freedom!"
Ashido seems to feel they haven't entirely grasped the monumentality of their current situation, because she leans closer, supporting herself with one hand on Kirishima's knee.
"We're going to the Alps."
Before Kirishima can muster another lukewarm response, he sees Aizawa standing up in the aisle in front of them.
"There'll be two buses coming to pick us up shortly, so if you could please board them right away, no strayers. And don't forget anything on the plane."
The plane slowed to a standstill, and there was a general shuffle as the 41 students put on winter outerwear while still in their seats, before they filed out of the aircraft and out into the chilly midday air, most of them huddling together against the cold. There were exceptions, of course, most notably two of them - Todoroki and Bakugou. Kirishima had noticed that they tended to gravitate towards each other along with Tokoyami when there was a risk of too much socializing, using each other as shields against more chatty classmates, barely speaking to each other, so he hadn't been surprised (even though just a tiny bit disappointed) when Bakugou had opted to sit next to them instead of him and Ashido on the plane.
Tokoyami had gone over to Shouji who had been sitting on the single seat row with Mineta, and Todoroki probably just didn't mind the cold. Bakugou, though, was standing several feet from anyone else, arms crossed and curled in over himself in a futile attempt to compensate for his lack of hat, scarf and gloves, and wearing nothing but a t-shirt underneath his jacket.
Kirishima let him have his few minutes of solitude, but as soon as the buses rolled up he seized the opportunity and plopped down in the seat next to Bakugou who was pointedly staring out the window, resting his face in his hand. He'd gotten better at taking part in Bakugou's quiet moments, had even started to appreciate them. Sitting between Ashido and Kaminari for that long has made even him a bit socially drained, so he just let his head drop against the head rest with a yawn, foregoing any greeting.
It only took a few minutes for the warmth from the radiators and the hum of the engine to lull them both to sleep.
"You're drooling on my jacket, you fucker. Get up."
Kirishima pushed himself away from where he'd been half-lying on Bakugou, rubbing at his eyes and yawning wide. He catches Bakugou looking at his teeth so he makes sure make the yawn as wide and menacing as possible, but, as expected, there's no visible reaction.
"Move. We're here," Bakugou says in a flat tone, and jabs him in the side with his elbow.
The drop in temperature outside the heated bus is jarring, and he has to squint at how bright it all is, covered in snow, knee-high walls of it along every sidewalk. They're at a small bus station in some small town made up of small wooden houses that look like they're taken from some fairy tale, with high roofs and intricately carved trimmings.
And then there were the decorations. From what little he could see of the town, it seemed to be drowning in tinsel, baubles and lumpy wires that were probably string lights. Even the two fir trees at the edge of the station itself were exorbitantly decorated. There was some kind of music coming from the old speakers attached to the station house, and it took Kirishima a while to realize it was Christmas carols.
These Europeans sure didn't joke around, huh.
He glanced at Bakugou, who was taking it all in, back to his hunched, futile, heat-retaining position, face in a harsh scowls as if provoked that the air had the audacity to be this freezing. Kirishima shuffled closer, with tiny, obvious steps, until their sides were pressed together.
"This cold is fucking bullshit, why the fuck didn't they warn us," Bakugou gritted out, leaning into him slightly.
"Well, they did say where we were going," Kirishima said, because it was easy to feel slightly smug when wearing a hat and jacket with a thick sweater underneath. Bakugou shoved at him, and he snickered.
"... a mistletoe, you're supposed to kiss under it!"
"Kendou, get away from under there!"
Kirishima looked behind him to where two girls from class 1B were giggling, and then to Kendou, who glanced back at the girls with an eye-roll and a small smile and stayed put. She was standing alone right under the edge of the protruding roof, and, yup, there were small bunches of leaves hanging from it every few feet.
He glanced straight up, above his head. Yup, they were standing directly under one, too.
It seemed Bakugou had heard the girls as well, because he followed Kirishima's gaze, and then snapped his head slightly to the side to glaring at the people behind them.
"Don't worry bro, I'll keep them away," he joked, which made Bakugou's eyes dart to him instead, before settling back into the distance.
"They could fucking try," he scoffed.
Finally, four small buses rolled up to the station, met by cheers from some of the students. The first one stopped right in front of them, and out of it stepped a person with a strong mutation quirk, looking like a big cat of some sort, with gray speckled fur and black tufts atop the ears. Kirishima did a double-take as he realized that no, those weren't questionable accessories - this person actually had paws, no shoes or gloves. They were wearing a white, fairly fitted uniform considering how thick and padded it looked, and had a severe posture as they gazes upon the students.
"Hello, UA Students! My name is Lovis Mjuktass, but call me Lou. It will be easier on everyone. I will be one of your teachers during your stay," she said in almost perfect Japanese, which made the name sound all the stranger. Whatever small conversations had been going on among the students died out completely at the authority in her clear, deep voice.
"First, there is a great risk of avalanches in the area we are going to, so we must ask that you do not create any strong vibrations of any kind. We have put together a list of students that will be assessed to see if their quirks are too high risk to be used. The assessment will be held this afternoon, and keeping in line with our recommendations is mandatory for continued stay. Understood?"
There was a pause. Bakugou stopped leaning into him, instead standing up straighter, putting a couple of inches of distance between them.
"Good. We will tell you the list of students to be assessed, and the housing arrangements, when we arrive."
With that she turned and stepped into the bus again, getting in the driver's seat. The other buses had rolled up and they were all standing in a line, doors opening.
Kirishima dared a glance at Bakugou, who had a sour expression as he headed for one of buses. There was no way his quirk was avalanche-friendly.
To nobody's surprise, Bakugou was one of the first students called to be assessed. The others were Jirou, Aoyama, Iida and Tokoyami, and Kendou, Shoda and Honenuki from Class B. All with strength-enhancing quirks were sternly asked to be cautious with the output. It was no surprise none of the warnings applied to his own quirk, not really. If anything his temperature resistance along with the ability to survive being buried even under a giant robot meant he was extra avalanche-compatible. Like a burrowing insect, but without the cool antennae and wings.
For the cabin assignments, Kirishima would be happy no matter who he ended up living with, but he let out a sigh of relief when he heard his name be called right after Bakugou and Ashido, the latter nudging him and shooting him an excited grin. He and Bakugou had a... a thing, where, sometimes, less than once a week, Kirishima would wake up from the sound of small explosions from the other side of the wall, to which he punched the wall hard enough that the sounds stopped. Sometimes, it didn't work, and he had to go knock on Bakugou's door for a couple minutes, until Bakugou opened it with a grumpy acknowledgment and quickly closed it again, going back to sleep.
He didn't know if Bakugou would still have bad dreams here, but it was nice to know he'd be close by, if it did happen. It didn't seem Bakugou wanted anyone else to know about it, and depending on the sleeping arrangements it could be hard to keep it secret, but he'd do his best.
He was brought out of that line of thought by a heavy hand that slammed down on his shoulder; he turned his head to see Tetsutetsu grinning at him. "Kirishima! Looking forward to bunking with you!" Coming up behind him were Kendou and... Tsunotori? The American exchange student.
"Oh, this is gonna be so much fun!" said Ashido from his other side, smiling at the Class 1B-students. Kirishima didn't know how she did it, but she was still bubbly, bouncing up on her toes.
They were given a cabin number and directions, and headed out to find it, Bakugou ordered to come back for the assessment as soon as he'd left his luggage. Kirishima tried to keep Tetsutetsu and Bakugou from out of each other's line of sight, but that had quickly failed as Tetsutetsu slung an arm over his shoulders. Bakugou glowered at him, and he glared back.
"Aw man, this place is so cool, I wonder what they've got planned for us. Could be anything up here!" Kirishima said with forced joviality, trying to break the tension.
Ashido, apparently not in the mood to help, just snickered at him. "Don't work too hard Kiri, I don't think that even you can make those two get along." He could tell Kendou was struggling to not look too amused.
It was only a few minutes to the cabin, and once they got inside they just stared for a bit, because it was way bigger than any of them expected. There was a living room with two couches and a coffee table, a fireplace, a small kitchen and a dinner table big enough for all of them. At the far end is a corridor, which they found led to three bedrooms, each with a bunk bed, and two bathrooms.
Bakugou threw his things into the bedroom that's on the same side as the bathrooms and headed out again, not saying a word.
"I guess I know where I'm crashing," Kirishima said, and Tetsutetsu raised out his hand in a go right ahead, before he freezes, and looks over to the three girls who are inspecting the two bathrooms to decide which one is better, and therefore, theirs. "Ah - Wait, but then, I'm sharing with a girl?!"
"A sacrifice I'll make to spare Poni's ears. You're in the bottom bunk though, don't want you falling down on me," Kendou says with a smirk, making Ashido bark out a laugh while Tsunotori just smiles amiably, distracted by the locking mechanism on the first bathroom door.
"So that means we're roommates!" Ashido says to her, which gets a much brighter smile in response.
They decide that the furthermost bathroom belongs to the girls, and then head back to the living room to kill time for the couple of hours before they were to be back for dinner in the mess hall. Ashido and Tsunotori goes to rummage through the kitchen, finding tea and some crackers of indeterminate age. They also find a old western style deck of cards, so Tsunotori teaches them to play Go Fish.
When they go to the main building there's a series of handmade signs pointing them in the direction of the mess hall, where there's a European style buffet. Kirishima and Tetsutetsu vaguely compete over who can pile more food onto their plate, Kirishima's full of meats and Tetsutetsu's with a respectable pile of green vegetables.
As they go to sit together at an available table, Kirishima spots Bakugou sitting a few tables away with the other students who were assessed, eating quietly, ignoring the talk around him. He seems fine, considering he’ll probably be effectively quirkless for a week, more put-out than angry, and Kirishima feels a bit of tension drain out of him.
When they head back to the cabin, Bakugou has already left. Everybody's exhausted after the traveling, so they all just get ready for bed. Kirishima finds Bakugou already under the covers in the top bunk, glaring at the ceiling.
"Hey man. How'd the assessment go?"
"Fucking guess." Bakugou leans up on his elbows to look at him. "They don't want me to use it. At all. Fucking bullshit."
Kirishima winces in sympathy, and Bakugou’s pout softens a bit.
"Man, that sucks. But you'll probably kick everyone's ass anyway.” At this, Bakugou smirks, and Kirishima smiles back, happy Bakugou’s not as upset by the whole thing as he’s been worried he might be. Then again, it was true. Bakugou had a lot more going for him than just his quirk, and there was no doubt in Kirishima’s mind that he’d still find ways to show off without it.
Kirishima gets into his bunk, then knocks the bedpost twice, in a mimic of their goodnight knock back at the dorms. It takes a while, but Bakugou knocks back.
Bakugou was - ... At first, he'd been awe-inspiring. The wild ferocity, unhinged, that he'd displayed that first time Kirishima had seen him in action, when he blew out the side of a building with a single blast. He'd seemed like a natural disaster taken human form. Violent, unrelenting, unpredictable, tremendous.
There had never been any possibility that Kirishima would see that and go oh, that seems a bit much, better keep my distance.
It had been slow, but inevitable, this final destination laughably predictable in retrospect.
He should have noticed when the Villain Alliance attacked at USJ. They'd leapt for the warp gate as one, and then fought side by side so easily. It wasn't just their quirks that fit well together, they did. He hadn't realized it though, not at the time, because it had been the first time he'd actually fought, for real. He hadn't known it wasn't supposed to be that easy to synchronize.
He should have noticed during the sport's festival, during the tournament, the way it felt to be the only one invulnerable to that, the way their violence had bounced off each other in exhilaration, even though he had turned out to not quite be good enough.
He should have noticed from how much he'd liked the idea of Bakugou tutoring him, and only him, and how satisfying it had been to find it so easy to convince him, the boy who never did anyone any favors.
He should have noticed during summer camp, how hearing Bakugou's name called out in warning shredded through him.
He really, really should have noticed at Kamino. Or when remembering Bakugou's words helped him push Unbreakable further than ever.
Instead, it had been small, although maybe that had been necessary; a moment without distractions, without danger or prestige. Just a regular weeknight, as he was falling asleep, his mind had drifted to Bakugou and, oh. Of course.
How else could it have turned out.
But by then it was too late, because they'd already moved into the dorms, he'd already woken up so many times to the sounds of explosions and shouts, they'd already had the silent agreement, that astounding sign of trust, that he'd pound the wall to wake Bakugou up before the worst part of the nightmares came.
It wasn't just that he was a coward (even though that also was true), he was afraid that saying something would shift the carefully crafted comradeship they had, make Bakugou pull away from him. And maybe it was selfish, that he wanted to keep the friendship that had taken so long to build, but it was also because, just as Bakugou was the best friend he'd ever had, he was fairly sure that he was (even if it was in another way) pretty important to Bakugou too. He didn't want to ruin what they had, for either of them. It was great. Amazing. He was in love with Bakugou, he couldn't deny it, but, he was in love with their friendship as well.
Everyone had to choose between two loves at one point or another. And he's already got Bakugou, he doesn't want to risk what they have, especially not over something as stupid as unrequited love. It just wasn’t worth it.
He can love him like this, it's enough, close but not too close, sharing everything except for the things that they don't, spending most days together but never the nights, touching with playful fists instead of open palms.
Bakugou was a comet, blazing out of reach. Kirishima knew he was stupidly lucky that his furious trajectory went by close enough that his fingertips got to graze the cowl of fire.
It was enough.