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He digs his knuckles hard against his eyelids, rubbing frantically until it hurts like hell and the pitch-black void that clouds his sight is twisting and curling in spiralling shapes. The sting is sharp and lingers even when he puts his hands away, though he keeps his eyes squeezed shut and tight.

All of this would be a good distraction if the image of Todoroki and Deku intertwined in bed wasn't carved behind those same eyelids, dancing in that same pitch-black void, and striking just as sharp as that sting. Bakugou would ask someone to knock him out if possible, just to stop fucking thinking, but there’s no one else around other than those two, and the thought of seeing their faces again makes him sick to his very stomach. When he tries to swallow, it takes the greatest effort to get it past the weird lump in his throat. He also must have rubbed his eyes too hard just now, because the ache won’t go away and they’re tearing up as an instinctive reaction in order to relieve the pain. 

Weird biology and all that.

When the door is opened and creaks softly, Bakugou doesn’t have to look up to know it’s Todoroki walking in. His footsteps are slow, but deliberate. He always does everything with that odd kind of calculated delicacy, the careful control of someone who’s been trained since childhood to subject every move and every word to the utmost discipline. He doesn’t wait for permission to come in, nor does he ask for it to approach Bakugou. 

The mattress dips slightly when he sits at the edge of the bed. 

“I’m sorry,” is the first thing he says.

Bakugou’s not exactly the best at tracking time, but he knows it must have been at least twenty minutes since he turned on his heels and left the living room where Todoroki was fucking Deku mercilessly into the expensive leather couch. The question that this too-long pause arises (did they keep going until they were finished? Did Todoroki cover Deku’s mouth to muffle his screams? Did they even notice he left?) is like a kick in the gut. Bakugou clenches his fingers into a fist and gets up from the bed, too viscerally disgusted to stay anywhere close. Todoroki doesn’t follow. He stays where he is, hands lying on his lap, not touching one another.

“What the fuck are you here for?” Bakugou finally snarls, and he’s mortified to hear his voice. It sounds raspy in the most pathetic of ways, like he’s been crying his eyes out, which he hasn’t. If he had, maybe the heavy weight tucked neatly between his ribs wouldn’t be as unbearable. A good old cry makes the weird chest pressure thing fade away, he knows. Again, biology. “Here to gloat?”

“No,” Todoroki answers plainly, always one to reply with utter seriousness to any question he’s faced with, be it rhetorical or not. “I’m here to make sure you’re okay.”

Hah? Why the fuck wouldn’t I be?”

A red eyebrow and a white one rise just barely. “You left.”

“So what!? Do I need to hand in a fucking report on my whereabouts to you every time I exit the room or something? Who the hell died and made you the boss of me?”

“Katsuki,” Todoroki says, with the ease of someone who’s granted himself his own permission to call Bakugou by his given name after infinite years of enduring nicknames and insults. “Can we skip this part where you try to push me away and get working on the part where we talk about what’s wrong and how we can fix it?” And now finally his hands do touch when Todoroki wraps the fingers of his right hand around the index finger of his left one, holding himself gently. 

“Hell no,” Bakugou decides.

With a sigh, Todoroki ducks his head. Bakugou thinks he mentioned once something about counting down from twenty-three, though he never explained why the odd number. 

When he looks up again, he has that thing in his eyes, that something hard and unyielding that made Bakugou fall head over heels like a fucking moron what seems like ages ago. Sometimes, it still makes his stomach twist with interest. Today, he can’t stand the sight of it.

“We were worried about you, but we know better than to come running after you when you get like this. Izuku nearly punched me in the face when I told him to stay back.”

“I’d have liked to see that,” Bakugou says viciously, crossing his arms.

“I’m sure you would,” Todoroki agrees passively. “And I’d deserve it. From you, even more so.”

“Don’t you fucking do that.” Taking a step forward, Bakugou drops his arms, teeth bared. “You don’t get to play the guilt card and make this about the stupid martyr complex you adopted from that freak.”

“Please don’t call Izuku that. And I don’t feel guilty.”

Bakugou snorts unattractively. “That’s right. You were having the time of your life, weren’t ya?”

“I thought I was.” Todoroki’s voice drops lower, quieter. “And I thought you were, too. You’ve always liked this… game.”

“The fuck are you talking about?”

“This competition,” Todoroki clarifies, now a hint of impatience showing in his tone. “Whatever it is. Whatever you want to call it. You know what I’m talking about. I’m not playing the guilt card, so you don’t play dumb. We’ve both been part of this ever since this relationship began.”

The word relationship is enough to make Bakugou’s mouth twist unpleasantly, but he doesn’t comment on it.

“Yeah, so we both get off on getting all possessive of Deku and shit. Your point? What’s this have to do with me?”

“I think,” Todoroki replies carefully, every word dropping as gently as flower petals, “the problem is that you felt like it didn’t have anything to do with you.”

Bakugou’s fingers twitch dangerously. Sweat is gathering on his palms.

“There’s not a problem with it, shithead. You love fucking Deku and Deku loves it when you fuck him, that’s hardly any of my goddamn business. None of this is my business. Not what you two do in bed or out of it or wherever the fuck – this relationship bullshit you keep going on about doesn’t fucking existanywhere outside your head, idiot.”

How could it exist, how could he exist in that weird little bubble where there was no place for him, where Deku and Todoroki were tightly wrapped in a loving embrace of unconditional respect, support, and affection? There wasn’t a single inch left for him to fit in between the press of their bodies filling each other’s gaps and dips and curves, not a single breath he could possibly take from their open mouths desperately clashing and meeting and moving in a perfect rhythm, not the barest glimpse of skin from their bodies he could ever touch that wasn’t already under the attention of wandering hands. 

The hands. It had been that moment when Todoroki stopped thrusting in favour of grabbing Deku’s scarred hand and kissing the ugly off-coloured marks that Bakugou felt the ground disappear under him and his stomach drop not to his feet but into some endless pit. 

He closes his eyes again. It’s not until he sees all that darkness shape and twist again that he realises he’s back to rubbing his knuckles over his eyelids like a madman, pressing as hard as he can.

This time, he doesn’t hear Todoroki. When gentle but firm fingers grab Bakugou’s hands and lower them away from his face, Bakugou feels embarrassed and powerless over being caught off guard like some amateur who didn’t spend three years of his formative teenage education training how to not leave any openings for the enemy to take advantage of.

“I don’t feel guilty,” Todoroki repeats, “because we all wanted it. But if it went wrong, I do want to fix it. It doesn’t have anything to do with guilt. It’s about me caring about you.” He brings Bakugou’s hands closer to him, finger pads massaging circles over Bakugou’s knuckles. “When we first started all this, I didn’t really care for you being here. It made Izuku happy though, and you weren’t as volatile as you used to be, so I went with it.”

“You’re one hell of a comforting guy, half and half,” Bakugou says spitefully under his breath, not taking his eyes off the places where Todoroki’s hands are curling around his, prodding, stroking, relaxing, helping. 

“More often than not,” Todoroki continues, as if no pause had been made, “I wanted you gone. I thought we’d be better off without you. We’ve been over this, I know, but what I mean is-” And now he makes a pause of his own, looking for the words, his brow creasing softly. Then his mismatched eyes look up and find Bakugou’s, holding his gaze steadily. “I was wrong. When you walked out today, I was scared. I don’t ever want you gone like that. I don’t ever want to see you walking away from me – from us – again.”

Bakugou’s jaw is clenched so hard it hurts. Todoroki’s other hand comes up to cup it, the weight of his palm as light as a feather. His thumb presses on a hollow spot under it, kneading the tension away with kindness.

“Having you here makes me happy, as well as Izuku. This has everything to do with you. I don’t want this competition if it’s going to end up with you feeling like you’re losing, when we’re all supposed to be winning.” Todoroki tackles every point he’s named so far with clinical precision, which would be cold if it weren’t for the way his voice burns with sincerity and longing and love, love, love. “And please don’t ever-” he adds seriously, ducking his head to press a kiss to Bakugou’s knuckles, “dismiss our relationship like that again. You don’t have to pretend you don’t give a shit. We know you care, just as much as we do. I’m sorry if we didn’t make that clear enough.”

Finally, he pulls away. He slowly lets go of Bakugou’s hand, drops his own from Bakugou’s jaw. Then he takes a small step back. 

“We’ll be waiting for you. Take your time. As much as you need.”

*

Deku looks like he’s been crawling up the walls with anxiety. His hair is all over the place, and maybe that has something to do with the sex, but Bakugou can tell when he’s been running his hands through it desperately as some sort of coping method. He’s sitting on the couch next to Todoroki, their thighs touching but their bodies otherwise rigid as they seemingly sat in waiting silence, and when he sees Bakugou step back into the room, he looks like he’s about to cry.

Actually, his eyes are already wet. And getting wetter. 

“Kacchan-”

“Shut up,” Bakugou says roughly. 

He drops unceremoniously in the empty space they leave between them when he approaches the couch and they part like a gaping wound. The moment his ass hits the cushions, he has Deku leaning into him with his whole body and pressing a hand to his chest with fingers curling tight around Bakugou’s shirt, and Todoroki is grabbing his hand again, lacing their fingers and squeezing tight. He doesn’t say anything, though, apparently letting it be Deku’s turn to speak, who swallows back tears as he babbles I’m sorry and I was so worried and You always come first. 

Then he finishes it all with small trembling sighs of Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan, like the erratic pulse of a broken beating heart. 

“Katsuki,” Todoroki says simply, lovingly, kissing Bakugou’s ear and tucking his face into the curve of his neck.