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The moon that breaks the night

Chapter Text

 

 

“I swear to God, every time you bring him in here I want to tear my hair out,” Katsuki grumbles.

 

In the pen in front of him, the sheep is struggling, trying to pull away from the needle in his hand and, without even looking up, Mitsuki reaches across the metal fence of the pen to smack him across the head.

 

“Maybe if you didn’t have that goddamn look on your face,” she snarks at him. “You know Midoriya’s always been a little nervous and you sneering at him like a gremlin isn’t helping.” She’s busy stroking her hands along the sheep’s wool in an effort to calm him down and Katsuki growls at her.

 

“That’s because he’s a fucking weakling and he knows it,” he hisses.

 

At his voice Midoriya pulls harder at the halter securing his head to the fence, his hooves scrambling and bucking against the floor until the metal rattles with the force. Both of them angle themselves away as much as they can without letting go because as much shit as Katsuki’s giving him, he knows from experience that those hooves hurt .

 

“Katsuki, I swear,” his mom grumbles, “you’re a great vet but you have a sucky bedside manner.” As she talks, she reaches under Midoriya’s head until she can hold him just behind his jaw and press , massaging the pressure point there. Even with all the noise her movements are calm and sure, and eventually Midoriya quiets under her hand.

 

“You’re the one that asked me for help,” Katsuki grumbles. But he still peers at her out of the corner of his eye, watching without trying to look like he’s watching. Mitsuki’s lips tilt up.

 

She nods her head at him and he leans forward to probe at the sheep’s thigh, applying pressure before inserting the needle and depressing the plunger. Midoriya starts slightly, bleating as he shuffles to the side, but Mitsuki murmurs at him and, at least in this, Katsuki’s movements are just as confident as his mother’s.

 

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Mitsuki says as she works the halter off. She begins to gather their things and Katsuki’s not sure if she’s talking to him or the sheep but he still shoots Midoriya the evil eye.

 

“Goddamn pain in my ass is what it was,” he growls and Mitsuki swats him again.

 

“You’re just mad he kicked you so many times,” she laughs.

 

“That little shit does it on purpose!” he yells as they walk out of the barn to where Inko is waiting for them.

 

“How is he?” she asks. Her hands are wringing her sunhat and Mitsuki immediately gives her the brightest smile she can and a thumbs up.

 

“Don’t worry, he’ll be just fine,” she says, then turns to eye Katsuki. “Right?” she asks, nudging his shoulder and he grumbles, snatching his arm away. He’s uncomfortable with this part of the job, much more interested in the mechanics of solving the issue than the customer service, and she knows this, but looking at Inko’s watery eyes he can’t muster up his usual snark.

 

So instead he scrunches up his face and mutters out an affirmative, kicking at the ground so he doesn’t have to look at her. Inko beams at him anyway, like he’d just told her the best news ever, and he huffs, waiting impatiently for his mom to wrap up the business of billing.

 

“You’re going to have to get used to that if you want to start your own practice,” she tells him as Inko leads Midoriya out of their barn and to the carrier attached to the back of her car. She waves at them before pulling off and Mitsuki waves back.

 

“I don’t need that shit,” he says, turning around to walk back to the main building of their clinic. It’s small but busy, the only clinic in Musutafu for as long as Katsuki can remember. He has memories of hanging out there as a kid after school, watching his parents treat everything from turtles to horses until he was old enough to help out, and he wants that for himself, wants a clinic of his own to rival all others. “I’m the best vet in this town, they’ll have to recognize me.”

 

“Katsuki!” she calls, but he doesn’t answer. They’ve had this conversation a thousand times and he knows what she’s going to say before she says it, so once he gets inside he busies himself putting away their equipment hoping that his mom will take the hint.

 

She doesn’t.

 

“That won’t mean a damn thing if people are too afraid to approach you,” she says, following him to the counter as he walks behind it to grab the paperwork. It’s the end of the day and the place is deserted, only the soft sounds of his dad working in the back to break the silence. Normally he would embrace the stillness but now he’d give anything for a distraction.

 

“If they’re too chicken shit, that’s their problem not mine,” he hisses.

 

He shoves the paperwork across the counter at her so violently it almost tears, and for a moment he thinks she’s going to yell at him some more. But she only sighs.

 

“It’s not about them fearing you,” she says as she bends over the forms. “It’s about them fearing what you’ll do to their animals. If they wouldn’t go under your knife how could they surrender their livestock? Their pets?” She glances up to lock eyes with him and hold his gaze, searching. For what he has no idea. Whatever it is she must not find it because she just sighs again and turns back to her work. “It’s hard to trust someone with something precious,” she finishes.

 

It’s a different spiel than her usual and he feels a little like he’s been skimmed by a bullet - shaken but missing the full impact of what she’s saying.

 

He has no idea how to respond.

 

So he doesn’t, just clicks his tongue at her and stomps away to the backrooms. It’s darker back here, quieter, and he lets it press in on him and the stinging in his chest.

 

“Arguing again?” a voice calls and Katsuki whips up to see his dad watching him from his office, illuminated by the soft light of his desk lamp.

 

“You deaf? You got ears don’t ya?” he growls. His fists keep clenching, he can feel them where they’re pressed against his jeans, and he wants a fight, something he can actually win instead of all of this hypothetical bullshit.

 

But his dad only stretches until his back cracks and stands up.

 

“You’ll have your own clinic soon - a successful one. But until then you’re welcome to work at ours as long as you want,” he says as he steps out of the office to where Katsuki’s standing in the hallway. “We’re lucky to have you.”

 

He sets a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder and the warmth of it seeps through Katsuki’s shirt. He scoffs.

 

“You think I don’t know that?” he says. But he doesn’t shrug off his dad’s hand and Masaru smiles at him.

 

“I’m making curry if you want to swing by,” he says. And then he walks off down the hallway. Katsuki listens to the soft noises of his parents talking in the waiting room then the sound of the front door clicking shut before turning to walk out the back door.

 

Their clinic is at the edge of the forest, on the outskirts of the noise and pollution of the town, and it’s cooler out here now that the sun’s set. It’s never silent, not completely, but the rustling of the leaves, the droning of the cicadas, all of it helps to focus the static buzzing under his skin.

 

He takes off his shirt and drops it by the back door, letting the air pebble his skin as he walks further into the trees. It’s a full moon out, and even with the shade of the canopy there’s just enough light to find his usual path through the underbrush. He follows it, letting the frustration from earlier build up again, until he stops in front of his punching bag.

 

It’s not really a bag, more like a thick mat wrapped around the base of a tree. But it’s perfect for wailing on.

 

It’s been a while since he last raged and the first punch sends pollen flying out in a cloud around him. He doesn’t stop though, doesn’t even pause, letting loose one punch after another until it’s a flurry of impacts. His arms, knuckles and back are screaming by the time he’s done but at least his mouth isn’t.

 

He turns around, sweating and panting, and slumps down against the tree until he hits the ground.

 

It’s irritating.

 

It’s irritating to have all the skills, all the technical know-how and then some, and still be found wanting. It shouldn’t matter that Inko is the only patron he can talk to - and not even well at that. His work speaks for itself so who gives a damn what people think. If they can’t get over themselves enough to get help for their animals, maybe they don’t deserve them, maybe their animal should die and teach them a lesson-

 

His hands throb and he clenches them to cut off his thoughts with the pain.

 

“Some fucking vet you are,” he says. Nothing answers him but silence and he closes his eyes.

 

When he opens them a while later, there’s a wolf staring at him.

 

He jolts.

 

It’s huge, black paws and snout fading into red fur and even redder eyes - an unusual coloring for a wolf but he’s sure that’s what it is, it couldn’t be anything else. It’s less than five feet from him and terror seizes his muscles at the thought of it sneaking up on him without him noticing.

 

For a long moment, neither of them move.

 

The wolf’s not snarling - in fact, it actually seems to be going out of its way to make itself seem smaller - but Katsuki’s mind is still running a million miles a minute, doing everything from planning escape routes to wondering how the fuck a wolf wandered into Musutafu’s forest.

 

It only comes to a halt when he notices the blood.

 

It’s hard to see with the way it blends into the red fur but now that he’s looking there’s a shocking amount, matting the wolf’s coat and running into its right eye. The wounds must be deep too judging from the way the animal’s holding itself.

 

It whines at him and Katsuki blinks.

 

“Holy shit,” he breathes, slowly easing onto his feet. He’s pretty sure in situations like this, people are supposed to make themselves seem bigger and back away. And if this wolf is injured, well that sucks for it but just works in his favor.

 

He backs up a few steps in the direction of the clinic, mindful of roots on the path and maintaining eye contact.

 

The wolf limps after him.

 

He immediately stops, tensing up in case of attack. But the wolf just stops too, whining again and Katsuki’s brows furrow. He takes another step back. The wolf takes a step too. He stops. It stops.

 

When he came out here he had no idea he was going to be playing red light, green light with a wolf and yet here he is.

 

“Don’t fucking follow me,” he says, his earlier terror fading into exasperation, and it cocks its head slightly, one of its ears flicking at the noise. “Go back into the forest, you stupid wolf.”

 

But the wolf just whines at him, edging closer, and Katsuki steps back. He has no idea what’s wrong with this animal but he can think of better things than spending all night with it in the forest. So he backs up, keeping a close eye on the wolf following him, until he makes it to the tree line. He half expects the wolf to stop then, too afraid by the lack of cover to pursue him, but it doesn’t, padding after him all the way to the back door.

 

“What the hell do you want from me?” he finally asks. The wolf is visibly shaking now, leaving a trail of bloody pawprints on the grass behind it, and Katsuki wants to yell at it, tell it to go somewhere safe where it can rest and lick its wounds instead of following him like an idiot. “I’ll leave you out here, I swear to God.”

 

It doesn’t answer of course and Katsuki fumbles the door open, slamming it behind him before the wolf can get in. It scrabbles at the door, a much weaker, quieter sound than it should be, and even though Katsuki’s finally safe now, he still feels like his chest is seizing.

 

Then there’s a thump and silence.

 

He waits for a couple moments, seconds drawing out into what feels like hours, but there’s nothing, no whines, no footsteps padding off. There’s something clawing up from his seizing chest to his throat and it feels like dread but that doesn’t make sense because it’s just a fucking wolf .

 

He opens the door.

 

He’s slow about it, cursing himself to hell and back but still cautious just in case the wolf’s waiting to tear his face off. But when he peaks out the wolf’s passed out on the ground, blood threading through the grass surrounding it.

 

“God fucking damn it,” he breathes.

 

He's going to regret this, he just knows it.

 

It’s too dangerous to move the wolf in its condition so he brings his tools outside. It's miles from a sterile environment but it’s the best he can do and from the look of things he doesn’t have much time. Blood is strange - it always looks like there’s too much even when there’s barely any at all. Not this time though. If he doesn’t fix this, the wolf is going to bleed out. It’s bleeding out already.

 

There are gashes all along the wolf’s side, one of which that stops just short of its right eye, that need tending to and it occurs to him as he works that this is what he would have thought of as his ideal situation only a few hours ago. No people to deal with, no need for consolation, just a problem that he needs to fix and a deadline to fix it in.

 

He hates it.

 

“Don’t you fucking die on me,” he breathes, and even though his voice is a little shaky his hands aren’t. “If you die on me I’ll turn you into fertilizer and feed you to the grass so sheep can eat you. How’s that irony for you?”

 

By the time he’s done, he’s shaking from exhaustion.

 

He finishes what he can and then works on bandaging, cleaning the wolf up as much as possible. Then he runs to get a gurney, gently levers the wolf onto it, and wheels him inside to the recovery room. It’s relatively small and lined wall to wall with cages, all unoccupied but for one.

 

“I know, I know, shut up,” Katsuki hisses as Iida immediately whips up to bark at him. The dog’s still got a cone on his neck from his operation and he looks ridiculous. “Barking my fucking ear off.”

 

But even though Iida’s overzealous he’s also obedient and he quiets, choosing to pace around his cage and stare at them disapprovingly as Katsuki wheels the wolf to the storage closet at the back of the room. There are more cages inside, among other things, but this closet is relatively unused and the wolf should be fine here.

 

“Your body’s gonna be hurting like a bitch tomorrow,” he grunts as he locks the wolf inside a cage. But even as he says it, he’s not sure there will be a tomorrow. It’s good work, possibly some of his best, but it’s still a toss up if the wolf will survive the night.

 

He slumps against the opposite wall and slides to the floor, watching the steady rise and fall of its chest. He should clean himself up, get a shirt, call his parents.

 

He’s asleep before he knows it.

Chapter Text

When he wakes up there’s a man inside the cage.

 

A naked man. And, as an unrelated observation, a man cut like a fucking diamond.

 

“What the fuck!” Katsuki yells, scrabbling to his feet and the man jolts awake, immediately grabbing his side.

 

“Shit, that still hurts,” he groans and Katsuki gawks at him. He’s fairly certain if his eyes got any wider, they’d pop out of his head like ping pong balls.

 

“Tell me who the fuck you are before I beat the shit out of you and call the cops!” he yells again, heart racing, and the guy winces, covering his ears.

 

“Could you not yell so loud?” he pleads. “My head is killing me.” As his hands move, Katsuki catches a glimpse of stitches running down his side, freshly sutured, and he blinks at them stupidly for a moment before taking in the red hair and snagging on the stranger’s eyes, also red. There’s even stitches on the dude’s right eye. The stranger catches him staring and flashes him a smile, waving a hand at his wounds. “Thanks for the work, Doc. I don’t know what you were talking about last night, you’re a great vet. Really glad I took a chance on you to be honest, I don’t think I would have made it otherwise.”

 

He laughs weakly, scratching the back of his head, but Katsuki can’t respond, too busy staring at the rows of sharp as fuck teeth lining the dude’s mouth.

 

“Who the hell are you?” Katsuki asks, low but strong this time, and the guy’s reassuring smile slowly fades away.

 

“Okay, please don’t freak out-,” he starts but Katsuki cuts him off.

 

“Answer the fucking question,” he barks and the guy winces as he shuffles around to face him, tilting his head to bear his neck.

 

“My name’s Kirishima Eijirou,” he says quietly, gaze flicking from the floor up to Katsuki’s face and back down again, never holding eye contact for too long. It’s weird and Katsuki has no way of knowing whether or not he’s telling the truth but that’s the least of his worries right now.

 

He doesn’t want to believe what his eyes are telling him, but he’s not a fucking idiot. There’s a guy with red hair and eyes, stitches, and sharp as fuck teeth, lying in the cage the wolf had been locked in. It’s not hard to connect the dots. If, by some fucked up stretch of the imagination, he’s right then this freak is a threat, even more so than when he thought he was just a wolf. There’s no telling what he’ll do.

 

Even as he thinks that though, Katsuki can’t forget last night. Snatches of it keep flashing into his mind - the way the wolf had tried to make himself seem smaller, the sound of his whine, the way his blood had pulsed hot and sticky under his hand as he’d worked to save his life.

 

He shakes his head. He’s not sure how to handle this.

 

“Fuck,” he spits, running a hand through his hair, “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

 

“Please don’t tell anyone about me,” Kirishima says and the tone of his voice makes Katsuki look up. He’s curled in on himself as much as he can with his wounds, glancing up at him again from underneath his lashes. “I’ll be out of your hair as soon as I’m healed, I promise, just please don’t tell.”

 

He’s tense, waiting on a response, and Katsuki clicks his tongue at him.

 

“What? So people can think I’m crazy? No thanks,” he says. And Kirishima shoots him a look like the sun coming out from behind the clouds. Katsuki frowns at him, confused about how a man in his situation can be so happy, but he doesn’t comment on it. “Alright fine. You stay in this room until I take out your stitches and then you leave and never come back. Try anything and I’ll kick your ass. Got it?”

 

Kirishima nods eagerly at him and Katsuki huffs. Thank God it’s a Sunday - at least the clinic is closed.

 

His stomach grumbles at him and he groans. He’s hungry, dirty as fuck, and, for some god forsaken reason, still shirtless.

 

“What the fuck do you eat anyways?” he grumbles.  

 

Kirishima beams at him. “Same as you, dude,” he chirps like it’s obvious, and well, at least that’ll make things easier.

 

“Don’t move,” Katsuki says, pointing a threatening finger at him. Then he walks out the door and locks it behind him. Across the room Iida perks up from where he’d been watching the door, head on his crossed paws, and Katsuki strides over to him. “Guard,” he says, pointing at the storage closet and Iida hops to attention with all the vigor of a salute. Not like he’ll be able to do much but at least he’ll have some warning if this Kirishima bastard tries to escape.

 

Katsuki rolls his eyes then heads back to the office.

 

In any medical profession, schedules can get insane what with being on-call all the time. Usually that’s a hassle but right now it’s working to his advantage: namely, a mini fridge stocked with food in the back office. There’s even a small shower and some extra clothes for the especially long nights, and Katsuki takes the time to clean himself up and change before snagging extra clothes and food.

 

What the hell are you doing? He thinks as he makes his way back to the room. But he pushes the thought to the back of his mind. Yes, it’s incredibly stupid and there are any number of things that could go wrong, but the only alternatives are leaving him to fend for himself before he’s healed or turning him over to the authorities, assuming they take him seriously in the first place.

 

They’re both death sentences and he knows it. And even he’s not that much of an asshole.

 

“You better not complain about any of this,” he gripes as he lets himself back into the room, but he needn’t have bothered honestly. Kirishima had perked up as soon as he smelled food and he might not have his tail right now but Katsuki can still see it wagging.

 

“Thanks! Uh,” he says, pausing. “Sorry, I don’t even know your name.”

 

“The fuck do you need to know that for?” Katsuki asks, chucking the clothes at him. The fabric is thin enough to slip through the cage, thank god, and Kirishima manages to pull it through without ripping it. While he struggles to change into it in the narrow space, Katsuki slides a tupperware of food and a fork over until it bumps up against the edge of the cage. “Quit thinking about stupid stuff and eat.”

 

“You don’t think it’s weird that you know my name but I don’t know yours?” Kirishima asks as he finally gets the last of the clothes on. They’re Katsuki’s and they’re a tight fit on Kirishima but even though they’re distracting in their own way - stretching over his muscles and not hiding a goddamn thing - at least he doesn’t have to deal with trying not to stare at his fucking junk anymore. They’ll do.

 

Instead of answering, Katsuki keeps quiet, digging into his food, and after a moment Kirishima tries wiggling his fingers through the cage to grab his own fork. The holes are too narrow for his hands though and he pouts. “Hey, can you-”

 

“I thought I told you you’re staying in that cage,” Katsuki says, glaring a warning at him, and Kirishima shrugs.

 

“Okay, well, you got a longer fork or…?”

 

“Goddammit, you needy bitch,” Katsuki grumbles. But he still sets his own food aside so he can scoot across the floor and swipe up Kirishima’s fork. His heart is beating hard - loud, slow thumps against his ribcage. He chalks it up to getting anywhere near those razor sharp teeth. “Breathe a word of this to anyone and I’ll end you.”

 

“Who would I tell?” Kirishima asks, head cocked to the side. But he shuts up when Katsuki glares harder at him, obediently nodding his head and opening his mouth.

 

He moans at the first mouthful and Katsuki almost drops his fork.

 

“Oh my god, this is so good!” he sighs around the food in his mouth and Katsuki jabs another forkful at him.

 

“Quit talking with your mouth full, it’s disgusting,” he says. But he can feel his face heating up as Kirishima immediately swallows.

 

“Did you make this?!” he asks as soon as his mouth is empty.

 

Katsuki force feeds him another bite. “Of course I did, who else is there?”

 

“That’s amazing!”

 

Bite.

 

“It’s just curry, you idiot, quit freaking out.”

 

Bite.

 

“I never want to eat anything else but your curry!”

 

Bite.

 

“Just shut up and eat,” Katsuki grumbles, focusing on shoveling the food at him as fast as he can without choking him. Normally he’s good with praise, used to it, but for some reason he’s sure if Kirishima compliments him one more time his heart will explode.

 

“Thanks for the meal!” Kirishima chirps when they’re finally done.

 

Katsuki falls back. He feels like he just ran a marathon and he’s more worn out than he has any right to be. “Thank fuck,” he says, swiping up his own food and finishing it in three bites. If he never does that again it’ll be too soon.

 

Kirishima leans back, sighing as he pats his stomach, and Katsuki watches him out of the corner of his eye. He’s got so many questions to ask that he hardly knows where to start, or even if he should bother asking since he’ll be kicking Kirishima out soon never to be seen again.

 

But no matter what, there’s one thing that he needs to know.

 

“Let me check them,” he says, nodding at Kirishima’s wounds. “I need to see how well they’re doing.”

 

“Don’t worry, I heal pretty fast,” Kirishima says. But Katsuki sends him a skeptical look and he obediently moves closer to the edge of the cage.

 

He doesn’t look threatening at all from where Katsuki's sitting, to be totally honest. Kirishima’s got a face like an open book and it’s hard to imagine him hurting anyone but himself. But if Katsuki’s got to get anywhere near those fucking teeth he's not taking any chances.

 

“Hands up where I can see them,” he orders, pointing at the top two corners of the cage. Kirishima nods, hooking his fingers into the spots he indicated, and that at least makes him feel a little better. “Move so much as an inch and I’ll kill you.”

 

“You’re pretty violent for a vet,” Kirishima muses. But he shuts up at the first touch of Katsuki’s fingers against his skin. Katsuki’s as gentle as possible, trying to feel for any inflammation or swelling, but Kirishima’s still wincing by the time he pulls away.

 

“What happened to you?” he asks. Kirishima’s eyes flick open to look at him and for the first time Katsuki notices the thick ring of black around his irises. Wolf eyes.

 

Kirishima holds his gaze for a moment, and then he looks away.

 

“Bear,” he murmurs. Katsuki’s eyes narrow.

 

“You’re a shitty liar,” he says.

 

Kirishima’s brow furrows but he doesn’t say anything more and normally Katsuki wouldn’t press. He doesn’t give a fuck about other people and Kirishima’s issues are his own fucking issues. But medicine is different. He needs to know what happened so he knows what to watch out for in case Kirishima’s wounds take a turn for the worst - looking at them now, they’re already a little too swollen for his liking. So he slams his foot against the cage just hard enough to make it rattle.

 

Kirishima jumps.

 

“Look,” Katsuki growls, “I don’t know what the fuck is going on here and I don’t care. But if you tell me you got mauled and I treat you for those complications, you’re the one getting fucked.” Kirishima blinks at him and Katsuki’s eyes harden. “I’m not going to ask you again.”

 

They stare at each other for a few tense seconds before Kirishima finally swallows.

 

“It was a hunter,” he says and this time it’s Katsuki’s turn to blink. Sure his wounds looked a little too precise to be a mauling, but there’s still an insane amount of savagery to them. It’s hard to believe a human was capable of that.

 

“This side of the forest is private land,” he says slowly. “Hunting here is illegal. And most of the hunters here use shotguns, but I didn’t see any buckshot wounds when I treated you.”

 

“That’s because he didn’t use a shotgun,” Kirishima says, quiet. “All he had were two bowie knives.”

 

Katsuki blinks at him.

 

What the fuck kind of hunter tries to take on a wolf with only two knives as weapons?

 

“Is he dead?” he asks.

 

Kirishima shakes his head.

 

There are any number of ways to respond to that. Is the hunter still alive because Kirishima spared him? Or, as ridiculous as it sounds, is he still alive because Kirishima, a near 200 pound wolf, was overpowered?

 

Silence descends over them as he thinks about that last option. Kirishima’s looking away from him again, his face crumpling like paper, and Katsuki doesn’t know what to say to him either. He sucks ass at comforting people on the best of days - not that he gives a fuck - so there’s absolutely no way he’ll be able to do it with a complete stranger, not after everything that’s happened.

 

Even if he did want to.

 

He’s almost relieved when his phone breaks the silence, jolting him out of his thoughts. He pulls it out and immediately curses. He’s got a text from his dad and nine missed calls from his mom.

 

Who’s calling him again right now.

 

“Goddamnit, hold on,” he mutters, answering the phone. The longer he waits the worse it’ll be so he might as well get it over with now. “The fuck are you calling me so much for?!” he yells as soon as the call connects, distantly aware of the way Kirishima jumps at the noise.

 

“Excuse me?!” Mitsuki yells right back and her voice is so loud even Kirishima winces. “Your dad tells you we’re having curry and you don’t come by? I call but you don’t pick up? I was worried about you, you little shit!”

 

“Quit nagging, I’ll be there in a second!” he barks and on the other end of the line, she laughs.

 

“Good. You better bring your appetite too.” And then she hangs up, leaving him with nothing but the dial tone.

 

Katsuki clicks his tongue. He’s not sure he wants to leave the clinic after everything he’s learned. But if she’s cooking then that means she wants to mend bridges, and he grumbles before getting to his feet.

 

“I’m leaving,” he says and Kirishima grips the cage bars tighter, wincing as he pulls himself closer.

 

“What? Why? When are you coming back?” he asks. The questions fall out in a rush, practically toppling over each other in their hurry to get out, and Katsuki cuts him off, impatient.

 

“Calm your tits. My house isn’t that far, I’ll be gone two hours max.”

 

Kirishima’s face still looks pale though, and Katsuki pauses on his way out of the door to look back at him.

 

“Hey,” he says and Kirishima perks up. “I don’t care how insane he is, he’s not getting in here.” And he means it too. This is just as much his clinic as his parents’ and he’ll die before he lets a single messed up hunter fuck with it. Kirishima gives him a weak smile in response and nods. It’s almost as frustrating to see as his lying had been.

 

“You never told me what your name was,” he says, leaning his head against the cage. His hair falls into his face as he moves and it softens his face, makes him look younger. More lost.

 

Katsuki gives him a long, considering look, brows furrowed.

 

“Bakugou Katsuki,” he finally says.

 

Then he turns around and leaves without another word. And if he double checks the locks and alarms around the entire facility to make sure they really are secure, that’s nobody's fucking business but his own.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“About time you fucking showed up,” Mitsuki calls as soon as he makes it through the front door. Katsuki grumbles, taking off his shoes and coat by the entrance before padding through the hallway to the kitchen. His mom is standing by the stovetop cooking an aggressive amount of breakfast food and he can already see his dad setting the dining table.

 

“Shut up, I had shit to do,” he says. But he still makes his way over to help her out, sliding on one of her spare aprons so he can chop up the vegetables she sets out for him while she whisks eggs for omelets.

 

She hums at him, interested without prying, and he feels his shoulders relax somewhat. As long as he can remember this has been their routine, cooking together after a disagreement while their dad watches but pretends to busy himself doing other stuff.

 

It’s simple and familiar and exactly what he needs.

 

And it’s completely shattered when, less than five minutes later, the doorbell rings.

 

They both turn to look but Masaru gets up before Mitsuki can so much as take off her apron. “Don’t stop, I’ll get it,” he says. But even though his cutting doesn’t slow down one bit, Katsuki can’t help but listen in as he hears the soft click of the door opening and a voice piping up.

 

“Sorry to come by on such short notice,” Sero says and Katsuki grimaces.

 

Sero is one of the park rangers at the local Forest Service that oversees Musutafu’s reserves - a forester that specializes in trees.

 

And also being a pain in his ass.

 

“Is Bakugou here? I need to talk to him,” he continues and before his dad even has a chance to call for him, he’s already washing his hands and walking out into the hallway. He crosses his arms when he sees the both of them standing in the entryway, and Masaru blinks at him.

 

“Oh, there he is,” Masaru says, shuffling out of the way so he can head back to the kitchen. “I’ll go and help out your mother then. Nice to see you, Sero.”

 

“Nice to see you too!” Sero calls.

 

And then it’s just the two of them.

 

“The fuck do you want?” Katsuki growls, skipping straight past the pleasantries, and Sero smiles at him.

 

“Nice apron,” he laughs and Katsuki bristles.

 

“Shut the fuck up!” he roars but Sero just laughs harder. That’s the problem with these park ranger types - they think just because they end up crossing paths with the clinic a couple times they have the right to start acting all familiar. He’s clearly been around Katsuki too long to know his place. He’ll have to rectify that. “Okay, okay, chill,” Sero says, waving his hands when Katsuki takes a threatening step towards him. “Believe it or not, I actually do have some important stuff to tell you.”

 

“Start talking then,” Katsuki growls.

 

“What, you’re not going to let me in?”

 

Katsuki doesn’t even bother dignifying that with a response and Sero sighs but takes the hint, shifting on his feet.

 

“It’s about the park,” he starts and immediately Katsuki cuts him off.

 

“Well no shit,” he says. “I swear to God if you’re wasting my time again-”

 

“Can you let me finish?” Sero snaps. Katsuki grumbles but leans against the wall as he settles in to wait and Sero nods at him. “Thank you. As I was saying, there’s been some weird stuff going on at the park lately. Mina stumbled on some animal carcasses while she was leading the last wilderness tour and ever since we’ve found a lot more - too many for this season. I know it’s your day off but we need you to take a look at them.”

 

Katsuki nods. He doesn't ask why Sero didn't go to his parents for help first, he isn't being arrogant when says he's the best vet this town has. But Sero is just a forester - normally his calls aren't any more serious than this or that owl falling out of a tree and getting injured. It’s been a long time since they’ve had to deal with an issue like this.

 

Immediately Katsuki’s mind flashes back to Kirishima at the clinic. It’s probably too much of a stretch to think the two could be related - he might not have even made the connection if not for the way Kirishima keeps running through his head.

 

But still.

 

He looks down at the ground, thinking.

 

“What did the bodies look like?” he asks and Sero shrugs.

 

“That’s the weird thing. They looked like animal maulings, but if that were true it would be an open and shut case - we track down the animal in question and either relocate them or put them down.” He pauses then, shuffling to the side and grimacing as if he’s reliving the scene in his head. “These are different though. I’m no expert but I’d almost say they’re too clean for that.” Katsuki’s eyes flash up to snag his at that and Sero blinks. “That sound familiar to you?”

 

All too familiar. He scowls.

 

“When did you find the first one?” he asks instead of answering.

 

He doesn’t want to jump to conclusions, especially with nothing but gut instinct to back them up, but he isn’t at all surprised when Sero says, “Pretty recently, I guess. A couple of days ago I’d say. What’s up?”

 

Katsuki doesn’t say anything though, just turns to walk back into his house. After a few minutes he hears the sound of Sero taking off his shoes and following him inside but he doesn’t care about that, too focused on making a beeline for his parents.

 

“Dad!” he barks and Masaru blinks at him. “Let me use your car.”

 

“What?!” Mitsuki yells at the same time as Sero says, “No, it’s okay, I brought my Rover.” But Katsuki isn’t deterred in the slightest, stomping over to the dish bowl where his father always keeps his keys.

 

“Take my parents with you and fill them in,” he orders Sero. “I have to stop by the clinic but they can help you out until I get there.”

 

Sero blinks at him, mouth agape, but Katsuki doesn’t wait for him to speak, just turns to leave. Before he can even take a step towards the door though, his mom is snagging his shirt.

 

“Oh no, uh uh,” she says. “I don’t know what Sero’s told you but the rangers will survive without you for a couple minutes. Don’t think you’re getting out of eating with us that quick.”

 

She tries to drag him back into the dining room, but as forceful as she is she’s not really strong enough to pull him and he holds his ground.

 

“I’m fucking being serious!” he yells at her, then whips around to face Sero who jumps under the attention. “Quit gawking and tell them!”

 

Mitsuki and Masaru both turn to face him at that and this time it’s Sero’s turn to blink. This obviously isn’t how he expected this encounter to go but tough shit, Katsuki’s got some things he needs to take care of and he doesn’t need anybody breathing down his neck while he does it.

 

“Well, we want to keep it quiet until we know exactly what's going on,” Sero hedges. “But there’ve been some carcasses on the reserves and we need some necropsies done. Forest Services have already restricted certain campgrounds and sent out warnings to use extra caution on the trails.”

 

Mitsuki and Masaru both stare at him.

 

Katsuki can understand why.

 

Musutafu is more forest than town - nearly everything here is built on the back of it. As a result, their Forest Service is a well-oiled machine, no matter how much Katsuki might shit talk it. If they’re restricting access to their biggest draw, there’s definitely a problem.

 

“Alright,” Mitsuki says as both she and her husband wipe off their hands and begin putting food away. “We’ll be ready in a few minutes.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t bother waiting around to watch them get to it.

 

He’s out of the house and climbing into his dad’s truck before they’ve even gotten ready, backing out of the driveway and heading to the clinic. He doesn’t want to say he’s worried because that would be stupid. There’s no concrete reason to be worried just yet. But there’s still a palpable feeling of dread clawing up the back of his throat and he pushes the acceleration more and more until he’s reached the back parking lot, swinging the door open almost before the car’s fully parked.

 

He can’t see anything off about the building, at least from here, but that doesn’t mean shit and he doesn’t slow down.

 

In fact, he’s rushing so much he almost doesn’t see the footprints.

 

He freezes.

 

By the back door, right next to the puddle of coagulated blood Kirishima had left last night, are a pair of footprints. They’re deliberate, two prints leading off around the corner of the building, and too big to be his.

 

Katsuki immediately whips his head up to look around, his heart stuttering into overtime. They could belong to anybody technically - it’s rare but not uncommon to get people wandering around out here. But he still waits in tense silence, listening for the slightest noise out of place.

 

When no one jumps out at him he follows the footsteps.

 

They fade off the farther they get from the blood but from the electrical box near pried open on the side of the building, he can figure out where the stranger stopped.

 

He goes back around to try the back door.

 

Still locked.

 

That eases his nerves a little bit but he’s still on high alert as he unlocks the door and eases his way inside, closing and locking it back behind him. The alarm goes off immediately and that too is normal. Whatever damage the electrical box had sustained, it hadn’t been enough to actually fuck with the alarm system and he’s met with silence when he turns it off.

 

In the recovery room, Iida’s pacing around his cage again. He stands alert when he sees Katsuki but for once he doesn’t bark, just watches him as he makes his way to the back of the room.

 

When he opens the storage closet, Kirishima’s white knuckling the bars of his cage. There are remnants of... something in his expression - raised hackles, furrowed nose, pupils like pin pricks - but Katsuki barely has time to register it before it fades away, relief and confusion surging up in its stead.

 

“Bakugou?” he asks, eyes darting over his body before returning to his face. “You’re okay?”

 

And Katsuki’s brows furrow at that. As far as he can tell, Kirishima’s the one who was possibly in danger, what with the still unexplained footsteps. But he still crosses the room to settle in front of Kirishima so they can be on eye level.

 

“Of course I am, why wouldn’t I be?” he asks, coming to a crouch beside the cage. Kirishima shifts as he approaches, pressing closer to sniff the air.

 

“I could hear him,” he says by way of answer when Katsuki raises a brow at him. “Outside.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t need to ask who he’s talking about.

 

“He left just before you pulled up,” Kirishima continues. “You didn’t run into him right? I don’t smell him on you.” He sniffs the air again for good measure and only when Katsuki wordlessly shakes his head does he stop, hackles lowering as he slumps against the bars. “Good,” he murmurs.

 

And there’s so much earnest sincerity in his voice that Katsuki’s skin crawls at the thought of running into that hunter unawares.

 

God what kind of creepy fuck is he?

 

But at least now he knows for sure that the guy is still lurking around the area and that makes it even more important that he try to confirm his suspicions. So he taps his fingers against the bars until Kirishima shifts to look up at him.

 

“They found animal carcasses with wounds that match yours,” he says and Kirishima nods, eyes dropping.

 

“I’m not the first he’s hunted,” he murmurs, “but he told me I’m his greatest challenge.” He sneers weakly as he says it, slumping back against the far end of the cage, and Katsuki doesn’t even know this guy but that doesn’t stop his blood from boiling. Hunters that break the law already make him want to blow shit up. This guy though. This guy makes him want to tear him apart.

 

But as angry as he is, he has to prioritize and he knows the first thing on his list is moving Kirishima somewhere else. The clinic obviously isn’t going to cut it anymore.

 

“You can’t stay here,” he says as he gets to his feet and Kirishima flinches, whipping his head up to blink at him.

 

“What?” he asks, all quiet. But his face is already fading into resignation and Katsuki has to bang a hand against his cage to snap him out of it.

 

“Not like that, you idiot. I mean it’s not safe for you here. We need to move you somewhere else.” Then he huffs as he bends over to unlock the cage.

 

Kirishima stares at him while he works. But he doesn’t have that dead-eyed look anymore at least, more of a cautious optimism now, so Katsuki doesn’t comment on it.

 

“I thought you said I was staying in the cage,” he says as he climbs out. His joints crack as he moves and he tries to stretch himself out the best he can without pulling on his stitches.

 

Katsuki scowls at him.

 

“Yeah well, trying to transport a whole cage is difficult as shit,” he grumbles. “I don’t have time to deal with that.” Kirishima keeps looking at him though, blinking slowly, and Katsuki bristles under the attention. “What?” he finally gripes. “You want me to put you back in or something?”

 

But Kirishima just shakes his head and smiles.

 

“You’re a nice guy, Bakugou,” is all he says. Katsuki can feel his eye twitching.

 

“Just shut up and follow me,” he growls.

 

“Where are we going?” Kirishima asks as they walk out into the recovery room. He’s still a little slow, his limp a lot less pronounced than yesterday but still noticeable. Still worrisome. Katsuki files it away under ‘things to address later’ as he watches Kirishima make his way over to Iida’s cage and kneel, holding up a hand for the dog to sniff.

 

“What are you doing?” he asks instead of answering.

 

Iida gives Kirishima’s hand a tentative lick and Kirishima smiles.

 

“This little guy started barking as soon as the hunter came and didn’t stop until he left,” he murmurs, giving Iida’s chin a gentle scratch. Iida practically preens under the attention and it’s ridiculous for any dog to look that proud of themselves with a cone around their neck.

 

Ridiculous too, the way Katsuki’s chest squeezes at Kirishima’s warm smile.

 

“Come on,” he says and Kirishima immediately perks up. “We’re going to my place.”

Chapter Text

“You sure have a lot of skull decorations,” Kirishima muses the moment they step into the apartment. He’s wandering around as fast as his injured body will take him, sniffing and prodding at everything, and Katsuki growls at him.

 

“Would you shut up?” he gripes. “I’m trying to make a call. And quit touching my shit.”

 

Kirishima looks up at that, his hands frozen inches away from where they had been about to pick up a plastic anatomical model of a dog. Katsuki rolls his eyes at him and directs his attention back to the ringing in his ear. If that idiot doesn’t pick up his phone right now-

 

“Chargebolt Industries, this is Kaminari speaking,” a voice drawls.

 

“Would you quit it with that ‘industries’ bullshit,” Katsuki growls on reflex and on the other end of the line the electrician gasps.

 

“Rude, my company is more than successful enough to earn that title,” he says in mock offense. But immediately after that his voice drops into its usual teasing lilt and he moves on. “To what do I owe the displeasure, Bakugou?”

 

Yet another fucker with the audacity to act friendly with him. As much as he wants to snark at him, Katsuki bites back his retort. He’s got more important things to deal with.

 

“Some fuck tried to bust into our electrical box at the clinic,” he says and he can almost hear Kaminari shift into business mode. That, at least, he can appreciate about the guy. “I think he was trying to disable the alarm system but didn’t get a chance.”

 

“You want me to go take a look now?” Kaminari asks and Katsuki glances to Kirishima. He’s been inching closer and closer to the dog model the whole time and is now turning it in his hands, despite Katsuki’s specific instructions not to touch anything.

 

“No,” he says, and even though it grates on him to say it, he doesn’t have much choice. “I need you to come keep your eye on someone.”

 

“What?” Kaminari says, drawing out the word until Katsuki wants to chuck his phone at the wall. “The great Bakugou Katsuki needs a favor?”

 

“It is not a favor,” he yells and Kirishima almost drops the model, fumbling it for a second before shooting Katsuki a wide-eyed stare. “You owe me after you trashed my apartment, you dipshit.”

 

“That’s not fair, it was a surprise party! For your birthday!” Kaminari whines. “Isn’t that what friends do?”

 

“I hate surprise parties,” Katsuki hisses. He just barely manages to restrain himself on the “friends” comment - he does need the fucker’s cooperation after all - and Kaminari groans, long and petulant like a child.

 

“Alright, fine,” he says, “who’s the lucky lady?”

 

“Not a lady,” Katsuki says, curt. “And you’ll fucking see when you get here, won’t you?”

 

Then he hangs up and starts clearing out some of the crap in his guest room, ignoring Kirishima’s curious glance when he passes by.

 

His apartment is relatively small, but no smaller than the rest of the units at Yuuei Residences - just two bedrooms, a bath, and a living room slash kitchen. But the clinic is clearly compromised so he can’t leave Kirishima there. His apartment is closer to the police station than the clinic and just as secure, so even though he barely knows Kirishima they’ll both just have to live with this for the time being.

 

“The fuck are you doing?” Katsuki grumbles as he works. He’s been watching Kirishima out of the corner of his eye and the guy’s been alternating between staring at him and subtly rubbing his hands and wrists all over every piece of furniture in a five foot radius.

 

Kirishima starts at his voice, and whips up to look at him.

 

“Sorry,” he says, immediately stopping to rub the back of his neck, and Katsuki arches a brow at him. “I’ve just- no one’s ever let me into their territory before.”

 

Katsuki stares at him like he’s grown a third head.

 

He has no idea what the fuck Kirishima’s talking about - isn’t he supposed to be a wolf and run in a pack or some shit? How can he not have been in someone’s territory?

 

But he also knows that Kaminari’s going to be arriving any minute now so he decides to skip the questions and focus on priorities.

 

“Don’t pull any weird shit in front of Kaminari,” he says without preamble. “You’re in an apartment complex not the woods.”

 

Kirishima blinks at him.

 

“Weird shit like what?” he asks, cocking his head, and goddamn it why does he have to look like such a goddamn dog when he does that.

 

“Like I fucking know!” he says, flustered. “Just don’t do it! And if he asks who you are or where you’re from or whatever, just make up some shit. Tell him you’re just in town for the week or something.”

 

Kirishima laughs at that and Katsuki bristles. He wants to ask what the everloving fuck is so funny but Kirishima’s already speaking before he gets the chance.

 

“I got it,” he says, still chuckling. “I have done this before, you know?”

 

And no Katsuki doesn’t know. But he supposes that makes sense. Kirishima hadn’t been freaked out at all coming into town, other than the fear of being outed to the authorities, so he must have had experience with it before. In fact, now that he thinks about it, that fear of authorities couldn’t have come out of nowhere either.

 

Katsuki sobers a little at that but Kirishima doesn’t notice, too distracted by the door bell ringing.

 

He turns around to look at Katsuki and Katsuki makes his way to the door. After everything that’s happened, he makes sure to check the peephole before opening the door and pulling Kaminari inside.

 

“Yo, what’s the rush?” Kaminari asks as he stumbles forward, but he immediately shuts up when he sees Kirishima, sitting cross-legged on Katsuki’s rug like some kind of overgrown toddler. “Man, when you said keep an eye on someone I thought you meant a kid or like some old dude. Who’s this?”

 

Kirishima waves at him, smiling wide, and Kaminari’s eyes almost pop out of his head looking at his teeth.

 

“None of your fucking business,” Katsuki says, quick and to the point as he grabs what he needs. “I have to go up to the reserve. Just make sure he doesn’t go anywhere or touch my stuff while I’m gone.”

 

He heads for the door then, more than ready to deal with the rest of the shit on his plate, but Kaminari snags his arm before he can even get halfway there.

 

“Dude, I know you’re new to the whole ‘friends’ idea but you can’t just leave me here with some stranger,” Kaminari hisses, covering his mouth with a hand as he does. Katsuki’s not really sure why he’s bothering, it’s not like Kirishima’s paying any attention anyways, too caught up in the dog model again. “What am I supposed to do?”

 

Katsuki growls at him. He doesn’t have time for this.

 

“Do I look like I care?” he says, snatching his arm out of Kaminari’s grip. “Just distract him or something.”

 

Then he moves away, his mind already on other things.

 

“Bakugou?” Kaminari asks, uncertain, but it’s cut off by the sound of Katsuki closing the door behind him. They’ll probably be fine. Kaminari’s a shit but socializing is one of his strong points. He can already hear him asking “How did you file your teeth like that?” through the door as he locks it.

 

He’s still not sure how to handle this stalker hunter thing. He knows he’s going to have to call the police at some point - tampering with an electrical box is an actual crime and that will at least get the police on alert -  but at the same time he wants to make sure he won’t end up implicating Kirishima should an investigation actually happen.

 

So for the moment, he just focuses on heading up to the reserve. There are plenty of officers there, so at least if he does decide to tip them off, he’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When he arrives, Mina is the one waiting for him. She flags him down as he pulls up and is jogging out to him before he can even get the car door open.

 

“Well you took your sweet time,” she says, hands on her hips, and Katsuki swears if he has to deal with one more person sassing him, he may literally explode.

 

She must sense the tension rolling off of him or hear his teeth grinding or something because she doesn’t press the issue, just leads him up one of the trails and then off into the underbrush.

 

“They haven’t really gotten anywhere,” she says after a moment, and Katsuki chances a glance at her. She’s looking straight ahead, confident enough on these paths that she doesn’t have to check where she’s stepping. “I didn’t get to hear that much, but it looks like they’ve at least decided a hunter was at fault.”

 

“Good,” he says and she turns back to look at him, searching his face. He glares back at her.

 

“You don’t sound very surprised,” she comments.

 

“That’s because I’m not,” he says.

 

She watches him for a second, curious now, but her attention is diverted as the murmur of voices begins to filter through the quiet of the forest. They round one last bend and suddenly he sees them, a bunch of rangers huddled around two crouched figures.

 

It’s his parents and Katsuki hurries to meet up with them.

 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” his mom is saying. She’s bent over the limp, bloody form of a buck, her husband kneeling on the other side. “They’re clearly knife wounds but the power.”

 

“Making just one incision this long and deep is remarkably tough,” Masaru chimes in. “But to make so many…” He trails off after that and Mitsuki nods. Both of their faces are pale and strained and Katsuki forces his way between the rangers to get closer.

 

Mitsuki glances up as he kneels beside them but doesn’t comment other than to say, “We’ve already looked over most of the other carcasses. The causes of death all look to be the same.”

 

It’s exactly what he expected to hear. But looking down at the buck, slashed almost beyond recognition, Katsuki still feels his stomach turn. This level of savagery in a person, or an animal for that matter, is a sign that something’s wrong with them. He had thought Kirishima’s wounds were bad, but if this is what this hunter is capable of then he’s not sure he has any other option but to tell what he knows.

 

He’s still hyper aware, though, that in terms of evidence he’s got basically nothing other than Kirishima’s word. So he waits until the rangers are convening and his parents are stripping off their examination gloves before he pulls them aside.

 

He can’t even get the words out of his mouth before Mitsuki is talking over him.

 

“Why were you gone so long?” she immediately asks. It’s not her normal teasing or even her nagging, just a solid question that brooks no argument and demands an answer.

 

So Katsuki answers.

 

“Some fuck tried to break into our electrical box,” he says. They both blink at him, clearly not expecting that, but their faces are already furrowing in concern and Katsuki tries to figure out how he’s going to work in the next part without them losing it or thinking he’s lost his mind. “I got there before he could finish though, and he ran off.”

 

“Oh my god, are you okay?” they ask at the same time, their hands moving to check for bruises and he shakes them off, impatient.

 

“I’m fucking fine, just listen,” he gripes. “I think it’s the same guy that killed these animals.”

 

They both pause at that, staring at him before glancing to each other. It sounds like a stretch, even to him, and he grits his teeth while he waits for them to say something.

 

It’s Masaru that finally breaks the silence.

 

“What makes you think that?” he asks.

 

A werewolf Katsuki thinks. He shakes his head.

 

“Last night, after you guys left, there was a wolf with the same injuries at our back door,” he says instead. “Whoever did that came back today and fucked around with the blood, walking through it and shit. That’s how I found out about the electrical box, there were footprints leading up to it.”

 

“That’s… not enough to accuse someone on,” Masaru hesitates, but at least he’s not outright calling Katsuki a liar.

 

“I know, I fucking know,” he says. He runs a hand through his hair, agitated and impatient. “I just- If we tell the police about the electrical box and tell them our suspicions, they can keep an eye out, alright?”

 

He looks hard at the both of them, switching from his dad to his mom, and he hates waiting for them to say something but there's not much he can add. So he just grits his teeth and bears it.

 

This time it’s his mom who speaks up.

 

“Well if there’s someone tampering with our shit, then I’ll want to keep an eye out anyway,” she declares. “So alright, punk, we’ll talk to them.”

 

“That’s all I’m fucking asking for,” Katsuki gripes.

 

But the knot in his chest loosens once the two of them walk back to start chatting with the officers. This whole situation’s not over with by a long shot, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

 

Now he just needs to deal with Kirishima.

 

He turns around, fully intending to head back down to his car, and almost runs smack into Mina.

 

“What the-” he yells, but she shushes him, tugging him back in the direction of the path until he yanks his arm away and starts walking himself.

 

“What’s this about police?” she whispers once they’ve gotten some distance between them and the others. “You know who did this?”

 

“You eavesdropping bitch,” Katsuki immediately growls and she sticks her tongue out at him.

 

“It’s not eavesdropping with the way you guys talk, asshole,” she says. “You Bakugou’s are a loud bunch.” He rolls his eyes at her and stomps off faster, but she only jogs to keep up with him. “Come on, tell me,” she whines.

 

“So you can tell everyone else?” he mutters. “No way.”

 

“I won’t, I swear!” she promises. “Cross my fingers and hope to die.” She holds up her fingers in a mock salute and Katsuki’s never been so glad to see the path as he is at that moment. He hops out of the underbrush, heading down the hill, but Mina doesn’t stop for a second, just keeps following him. “I might even know them,” she continues. “There are a bunch of hunters camping on these grounds, even if they’re not allowed to hunt any game here, and there’s this one new guy in particular who’s super creepy, I mean next level creep vibes for sure-”

 

Katsuki stops at that, so fast and sudden that Mina almost runs into him.

 

“A new guy?” he asks, rounding on her, and Mina perks up before smirking at him.

 

“Uh, uh, nope,” she says, wagging a finger at him. “I’m not spilling one more drop until you fill me in.”

 

Katsuki snarls at her.

 

“Fucking harpy,” he grumbles. But he changes directions to head back to the main building of the Forest Service anyway. They’ll have records of the people that use their grounds there and a record means a picture. “Alright, but if I’m going to tell you anything, you’re going to show me his name and what he looks like.”

 

She cheers behind him and he rolls his eyes. If there’s anyone willing to break the rules for some gossip, it’s her.

 

It’s surprisingly easy getting inside the back offices. Katsuki’s been here enough times in a professional setting that no one even spares them a second glance as they make their way back to where all of the information on the patrons is kept.

 

“I feel like a spy or something,” Mina says, giggling as she opens a file cabinet and rifles through it.

 

“Hurry up and find the damn thing before we get caught,” he says in answer. There aren’t a lot of windows in this room so there’s not a huge chance of someone seeing them by accident, but he’s still keeping an eye out from the window at the door just in case. The last thing he needs on top of all of this is a felony charge.

 

“Got it!” Mina crows and Katsuki turns to look at her as she brings the file over. “See! Doesn’t he look like a walking restraining order?”

 

She’s right. Xeroxed on the form is a copy of the dude’s driver’s license and he’s got all the makings of a stalker - long lanky hair, unhinged smile, muscles with throbbing, too defined veins criss-crossing them.

 

Katsuki’s creeped out just looking at him.

 

“Rappa Kendo,” he says, reading the name scrawled on the page.

 

Then he whips out his phone and snaps a picture.

 

“Hey!” Mina says, snatching the file back and stuffing it back in the cabinet. “I didn’t say you could do that!”

 

“Tough, I needed it,” he says and she pouts at him.

 

“Bakugou,” she whines, making a swipe for his phone. He whips it out of her reach just in time and she whines again. “Come on, if anyone knows I showed you I could get in serious trouble.”

 

“Chill the fuck out before someone comes to see who’s making all the goddamn noise,” he hisses and that finally gets her to stop, choosing to glare at him with her hands on her hips instead. “I’m not going to show it to your fucking boss or anything, I just need to see if this is the guy I think it is.”

 

She looks at him for a long uneasy second before shifting her weight.

 

“You really think that’s him?” she asks and he nods. She bites her lip. “Okay,” she finally says. “But you’re deleting it immediately after. And you’re telling me everything.”

 

He scowls at her.

 

He doesn’t want to promise anything - sure he only wanted the picture to see if Kirishima can peg this guy, Rappa, as the hunter but there’s always the possibility he may need it in the future.

 

But before he can mull over it too hard his phone starts ringing, and besides, a deal’s a deal.

 

“Fine, I’ll fill you in on the way,” he says, already turning away to answer the phone. “What?” he barks.

 

“Dude,” Kaminari says and his voice is high and panicky. Katsuki feels the floor drop out beneath him at the sound. “You need to come back now.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Where is he?” he yells the moment he slams in the door.

 

“In here!” Kaminari calls.

 

The voice is coming from the guest room of his apartment and when he slams that door open too, Kaminari whips up to look at him. Beside him, Kirishima is lying on the bed, flushed and panting under the bag of ice Kaminari’s holding to his forehead. His eyes blink open at the noise, rolling to find the source of the sound.

 

They land on Katsuki and his lips twitch up.

 

“Hey, Bakugou,” he slurs around the thermometer in his mouth, visibly tired, and Katsuki’s hardly aware of Mina entering the room behind him, too busy shoving past Kaminari to feel Kirishima’s burning skin. He hasn’t even checked to see his temperature yet and already he knows he’s too hot.

 

“I was only gone for a few hours, what the fuck happened?” he demands. He whirls on Kaminari as he says it and Kaminari holds up both of his hands.

 

“Don’t look at me, his temperature just started climbing!” he says, traces of panic still lacing his voice, and Katsuki grits his teeth.

 

His mind is whirling, flickering through memories of Kirishima’s swollen wounds and trying to analyze them for anything he might have missed, but he can’t think of a single explanation for how an infection could have progressed this quickly. He was only gone for a few hours, it should be impossible for his condition to have deteriorated to this extent.

 

“I tried cooling him down but nothing’s working. He just keeps getting hotter,” Kaminari continues. “Maybe we should take him to the hospital.” He reaches past Katsuki to check the thermometer in Kirishima’s mouth again but Katsuki slaps his hand away.

 

“No hospitals,” he manages from between gritted teeth.

 

Kaminari looks at him like he’s crazy, then glances over his shoulder at Mina, but Katsuki doesn’t care to check her expression. He knows how it sounds. He’s a veterinarian not a doctor and he doesn’t have anywhere near the tools he needs to deal with this - all he has in his apartment are some spare IV drips and some ibuprofen. He’s not prepared for an infection, especially with a human patient.

 

“Who is he?” Mina asks and Kaminari shakes his head, running a hand through his hair.

 

“His name’s Kirishima but I don’t know much more than you do,” he says, shooting Katsuki an expectant look.

 

Katsuki scowls. He knows at this point that he can’t just give them the same amount of information he’d told his parents and be done with it. Just by seeing Kirishima like this they’re already starting to wonder too much and he knows from experience they can be tenacious as fuck. But whatever questions they may have don’t matter right now. He doesn’t have time to deal with their confusion. He just needs their compliance.

 

“We’ve got to break the fever,” he growls instead of answering. There’s no way Katsuki’s going to risk exposing Kirishima - out of everything they’re dealing with right now that takes precedence - and the thought helps him bite back his frustration so he can focus. He whirls on them and they both snap to attention. “Mina, get ice water and towels. Kaminari, there’s a box in my closet labelled IV. Get it.”

 

He glares them down, daring them to do otherwise, but they both nod.

 

“Oh man, oh man, oh man,” Kaminari chants and beside him Mina looks just as worried, but they don’t hesitate for a second, running off in opposite directions to follow his orders with an urgent focus that reminds him of his clinic.

 

It calms his mind somewhat, gives him more room to think. He still needs the ibuprofen.

 

He gets to his feet, about to search his medicine cabinet, but a hot grip around his wrist stops him. He looks down to see Kirishima smiling at him, even weaker this time.

 

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” he murmurs, the thermometer slipping out of his mouth. It lands screen up and Katsuki glances at it, his heart skipping into overtime when he reads it. “I heal fast.” He pets Katsuki’s arm as he speaks like Katsuki’s the one who needs comforting and Katsuki bristles.

 

“Kirishima, your fever’s running over 106 degrees, fucking let go of me,” he snarls, nerves entirely too frayed to worry about bedside manner. But Kirishima just keeps repeating himself. When he looks up at him his eyes are glazed over.

 

“It’s okay, don’t worry,” he says over and over, the same variation of the same ideas, and if he’s already progressed to delirium then Katsuki needs to act now.

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you heal fast,” he says, working his wrist out of Kirishima’s grip so he can get to the bathroom. It’s surprisingly difficult but he manages to do it, slipping away before Kirishima can grab for him again and wrenching open the medicine cabinet. The ibuprofen is the powder tablets kind and thank fuck for small mercies. He snatches the IV box from Kaminari when he stumbles in to find him and busies himself measuring out a dose to mix in the drip.

 

“Help Mina soak those towels in the ice water,” he says as he grinds the pills. It’s methodical work and he loses himself in it, trying not to think about what to do if this doesn’t work, if Kirishima’s fever spikes and they can’t bring it down. He has to focus. “We need to cool him down.”

 

“Cool him down, gotcha,” Kaminari says, rushing out to follow his orders and Katsuki takes a deep, steadying breath.

 

He can do this.

 

When he’s finished with the bag, he comes into the guest room to see Kirishima practically covered head to toe in wet towels.

 

“Didn’t know how many you wanted,” Mina says by way of explanation, wringing her hands, but Katsuki doesn’t give a fuck. The bed’s going to be soaked all the way through to the mattress tomorrow but at least the towels will be doing their job.

 

He nods, pushing past them to set up the IV. Kirishima’s eyes are closed now, flickering fast underneath his eyelids when Katsuki glances at him. He looks in even worse shape than before, his mouth turned down into a grimace like he doesn’t even have the energy to pretend at a smile anymore.

 

It grates on him to see it.

 

“I didn’t fucking save you so you could die now,” he mutters, voice so low it’s almost unintelligible over the sound of ripped packaging. He knows Kaminari catches his words by the way his brows furrow but Katsuki ignores him. He’s got more important things to worry about. “Hold his arm,” he grunts as he rubs an alcohol swab over the back of Kirishima’s hand. The last thing he needs is for his patient to start flailing while he’s trying to poke a needle through his skin.

 

Kaminari swallows. “I hate needles,” he mumbles. But he still steps forward to press Kirishima’s arm into the bed, looking away as Katsuki slides the needle in nice and smooth. Then he steps back, giving Katsuki room to tape it down and set up an impromptu stand by the side table.

 

Katsuki doesn’t stop there though. There isn’t anything left for him to do but it’s like his hands are refusing to stay still, continually checking the temperature of the towels and forcing the thermometer through Kirishima’s gritted teeth. He hears an audible gasp when he assesses Kirishima’s wounds, pulling back the bandaging to look at the sutures underneath, but whether it’s from Mina or Kaminari he can’t tell. Neither of them say anything more so he ignores it in favor of finding something more to do, something that might bring this entire situation back under his control.

 

But eventually there’s nothing else left. 

 

He stops. Mina and Kaminari are still looking at him and the silence stretches, hanging heavy over all of their heads. Katsuki’s glaring at Kirishima’s face - it seems even more of a violent splotchy red now that it’s surrounded by white towels - and he stands there with his hands against his pants, clenching around nothing.

 

Eventually Mina clears her throat. His eyes feel gritty when they turn to look at her.

 

“What do we do now?” she asks.

 

For a moment he doesn’t answer. He’s not sure he has one - in a normal situation he would have just taken Kirishima to the hospital. He might be a vet and Kirishima might be a werewolf, but that doesn’t mean he can play at being a doctor and if it comes down to choosing between taking Kirishima back to the clinic to run his own tests and getting him the help he needs, the choice is obvious.

 

But this isn’t a normal situation.

 

He scowls, leaning forward to grip the sheets inches away from Kirishima’s hand. “We fucking wait,” he spits, like the idea itself is burning his tongue. Maybe it is. He hates being powerless.

 

“What the hell do you mean wait?” Kaminari demands. He steps forward, throwing his hands up as he does, and Katsuki bristles. “We should be taking him to the hospital, not performing emergency medical procedures in your bed and then hoping he gets better.”

 

“You don’t think I know that?!” he yells. It’s not his ideal situation either, far from it, and for Kaminari to talk to him like he hasn’t thought of every single implication of what he’s asking them to do in explicit detail makes him want to blow something up. But he refuses to explain himself. “No hospitals,” he growls instead.

 

“But why?” Mina chimes in and Katsuki switches to glare at her. “Who is he? Is he in trouble or something?”

 

“None of your fucking business,” he bites out, trying to force her into submission with his eyes. He’s done talking about this, had been done the moment he ran out of things to do. But she just frowns, squaring her shoulders and glaring right back at him.

 

“Hey, I let you take that picture because you said you would tell me everything,” she says. “Now there’s some mysterious, beat up stranger on your bed and you won’t tell us anything.” She flings a hand out to where Kirishima is starting to squirm on the mattress. His face is tight and strained but Katsuki can see the cracks, the places where the discomfort is beginning to bleed through.

 

He grits his teeth, steels himself. “You don’t need to know.”

 

“How are we supposed to help if we don’t know anything?” Kaminari asks. He still looks incredulous but now there’s something sharper threading through it that Katsuki can’t place. It jabs at him though, stabbing him where he’s most vulnerable, and he rounds on both of them, bearing his teeth like a wild animal.

 

“I don’t need your help,” he seethes. He’s breathing hard, firsts clenched and wanting to swing again but there’s nothing to direct it towards, nothing to focus all this static building under his skin. He knows they’re right, and there’s a knot of tension resting at the base of his throat that’s winding tighter and tighter with the knowledge, but he refuses to back down now. “Why are you even still here? Leave.”

 

Kaminari glares at him.

 

“Newsflash, Bakugou,” he says, more serious than Katsuki’s ever heard him, “I know you don’t have many of them but this is not how you treat your friends. We’re not just some tools you can use and toss whenever you feel like it.”

 

Katsuki sneers. “Clearly not since you’re still fucking here.”

 

For a moment neither of them speak. There’s a tension running through them like electricity and Mina watches them, gaze flicking from one to another before landing on Kirishima.

 

Kaminari speaks up first.

 

“You’re such an asshole,” he says, low but harsh, and Katsuki holds his glare, returning it in force. He doesn’t care what they think of him. He doesn’t.

 

Then Mina cuts in.

 

“He’s in pain.”

 

Katsuki breaks at that, looking away from Kaminari to where Mina is striding across the room to sit at Kirishima’s bed. Kirishima’s writhing now, gripping at the sheets and biting at his lip hard enough to draw blood, and it shakes him, shakes him down to his bones. He can feel something clawing up his throat at the sight no matter how much he tries to swallow it down.

 

Bakugou,” Mina says and he knows what she’s going to say, knows that she’s going to tell them they have to go to the hospital, that there’s no other option, but they can’t, they can’t, they can’t.

 

Then Kirishima changes.

 

It’s nothing like the way the movies had shown it, distorted limbs and joints turned the wrong way. It’s more like watching film negatives burn in those old movies, the man melting away from the center out to reveal the wolf underneath. Mina and Kaminari both gasp, Mina jumping off the bed to get some distance between them, but Katsuki hardly notices, too busy staring.

 

He’d told himself that Kirishima was a werewolf - forced himself to accept it more like - and somewhere along the line he’d even convinced himself that it was true. But it’s a completely different story watching the transformation happen not two feet from him.

 

It’s beautiful.

 

“Who the fuck is this guy?!” Kaminari squeaks, all of his earlier anger gone, and Katsuki blinks, suddenly reminded of their presence. Kirishima’s still unconscious, and although he looks like he’s in less pain than before he’s still effectively revealed his deepest secret to everyone. Now it’s up to Katsuki to work damage control.

 

Great.

 

“This is why I fucking said no hospitals,” he grumbles and Mina and Kaminari both round on him.

 

“You knew?!” they yell in unison and Katsuki snarls at them.

 

“Keep your fucking voices down,” he hisses. The last thing he needs is for his neighbors to come knocking and find a 200 pound wolf in his apartment. But they look like they’re on the verge of exploding now so he cuts over them before they can yell any louder. “Yes I knew. Why the fuck do you think I was fighting you so hard? For my health?”

 

“I mean, kind of,” Mina says, giving a weak shrug. She glances from Kaminari to Katsuki to Kirishima, who’s curled up on his side now. “It’s not like you were giving us any reasons-”

 

“Look at this shit,” Katsuki says, flinging a hand at Kirishima. “Would you have believed me if I had?”

 

Mina and Kaminari hesitate, sharing a long look, and for a moment he almost bristles. This is exactly why he hadn’t wanted their help. He’s so tired of people doubting him, making him explain himself over and over again, and he doesn’t need it from these two idiots.

 

But when they turn to look at him, he stops. Their look is nothing like how his parents had looked at each other or at him. This is different - less directed at him and more shared, like they’re all in on the secret - and he feels his shoulders relax ever so slightly.

 

It feels good to have someone else experiencing this bullshit for once.

 

They all look at each other, just letting the situation sink in for a moment, and then Mina speaks up.

 

“Alright,” she says, nodding. “Where are your blankets? We’re spending the night and you’re going to explain everything to us.”

 

“The hell you are,” Katsuki growls. But at this point it just feels like token resistance and Mina doesn’t even bother acknowledging it, just walks out of the room. He can hear the distant sound of her rummaging through his closets and he sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face. He doesn’t have the energy to deal with this anymore.

 

“You’re sleeping on the couch,” he finally grumbles at Kaminari. He’s still busy watching Kirishima’s chest rise and fall but his eyes flick up when Katsuki speaks.

 

They watch each other for a moment. Kaminari doesn’t apologize and Katsuki doesn’t ask him to. He just runs a hand through his own hair and lets out an explosive sigh, shaking his head.

 

“I can’t believe I’m getting involved with this,” he mutters. But he pivots to walk out of the room and, after a moment to look back at Kirishima, Katsuki follows him. He can’t hold off explaining this - they already know too much and he needs to make sure they keep quiet about it.

 

Might as well get it over with.

 

It’s a long and arduous process filling the both of them in. They keep piping up, interrupting him to ask this or that question, and it drives him up the wall. More than once he finds himself wanting to drag them out of his apartment even if he has to do it by force. But Kirishima’s in the other room and he’s counting on them to help him, to keep his secret safe. So he soldiers through it, telling them everything from Kirishima showing up at his doorstep to alerting his parents about Rappa.

 

It’s night by the time they finish.

 

“Wow,” Mina says, whistling. She falls back against the couch, sighing as she sinks back into the cushions.  “I can’t believe this is real. Can you?” She looks at Kaminari sitting next to her and he shakes his head, slowly like he’s still taking it all in.

 

Katsuki leans on the wall opposite them, arms crossed over his chest and a perpetual eye on the door to Kirishima’s room. “Well believe it,” he grumbles back. That’s two more people in on this secret now. Hopefully he didn’t make a mistake.

 

He straightens up, ready to go to bed and kick them out in the morning, when Mina pipes up.

 

“So what are we going to do now?” she asks and he looks at her, surprised.

 

When he had started telling them this story he hadn’t been looking for any favors and hadn’t expected any. He had just wanted their silence. But thinking about it now, every time she had asked what was next she’d always said “we.” He refuses to think about the way some of the tension melts out of his spine at the word.

 

She’s still waiting on an answer though so he clicks his tongue.

 

“Show Kirishima the picture then we report this fucker to the police,” he grunts.

 

Mina nods easily. “Alright.”

 

Next to her Kaminari stays quiet and after giving him a quick once over Katsuki ignores him. He doesn’t know what’s going through the idiot’s head at the best of times and right now he’s got better things to do. Like rewrapping Kirishima’s bandages.

 

When he slips into the guest room, Kirishima’s awake. It’s dark inside but Katsuki can tell by the way Kirishima’s eyes are reflecting the moonlight streaming in through the window, somehow making them even more red and piercing.

 

Kirishima shoots him a wolfish grin, tongue lolling out, and Katsuki pauses.

 

“What the fuck?” he rasps. He’d been expecting Kirishima to be in the same condition, worse even if he’s honest with himself, and here Kirishima is, seemingly in peak health.

 

Kirishima yips quietly at him, knocking off the damp towels piled at the edge of the bed with the force of his tail wagging, and Katsuki strides across the room to swipe the thermometer off the side table and jam it into Kirishima’s ear. Kirishima jolts, snuffling at him in protest, but Katsuki ignores him, waiting for the thermometer to beep before glancing at the screen.

 

98.6 degrees. Perfectly healthy.

 

He runs an experimental hand over the bandages where the gash in his side should be, just to be sure, but Kirishima doesn’t even flinch. When he moves the bandages aside and parts the fur, there’s nothing but a fresh pink scar.

 

“What the fuck,” he says again, a slow whisper this time. Kirishima had told him he healed fast but he’d thought that was just the delirium talking. Kirishima looks up at him, cocking an eyebrow, and Katsuki blinks back. “This isn’t fast, this is-” he starts to say, but he cuts himself off. He wants to say it’s impossible, that it’s only been a few hours since Kirishima was riding the line of emergency medical care. But it feels pretty stupid to talk about impossibilities with a wolf man running for his life from a deranged hunter.

 

Kirishima bends over to lick his hand where it’s still pressed against his side, his tail flopping on the mattress when Katsuki looks at him. And Katsuki’s not really sure how he did it but in just the few minutes that Kirishima’s been awake he’s already helped to loosen the ball of tension that was slowly tightening in his throat.

 

It’s a relief to see him being his normal idiot self again.

 

“Can’t believe I wasted an IV on you,” he grumbles, turning away as he sits on the edge of the bed.

 

But even though his body’s angled away, he’s still closer than he was before and he can feel Kirishima shifting, curling around his back to lay his muzzle in Katsuki’s lap. He looks up, shooting him the best puppy eyes Katsuki’s ever seen, and Katsuki hesitates with a hand over his head. But eventually he touches him, feeling the soft fur under his palm and huffing at the way Kirishima’s tail thumps against him when he scratches behind his ears.

 

“You fucking exposed your secret to Mina and Kaminari, you idiot” he says quietly after a while. There’s no urgency to his voice though - he’s fairly sure neither of them will tell anybody at this point -  and he knows Kirishima picked up on it by the way he flicks an ear but otherwise doesn’t move. He’s still attached to the IV drip so Katsuki wordlessly takes his paw to get the needle out.

 

When he looks up, Kirishima’s looking out the window at the night sky.

 

“What? No howling at the moon,” Katsuki asks and Kirishima’s sides shake against him as he huffs out some version of a laugh.

 

But he’s still looking at the moon, still not howling, and Katsuki finds himself wondering about where he came from and who’s waiting for him there. About his pack.

 

That, in turn, makes him think about the hunter.

 

“Kirishima,” he says, digging into his pocket for his phone. The wolf turns to him as he opens it up and swipes through it to get to the picture he’d taken earlier. Now more than ever he needs to know who this fucker is, needs to know who he’s fighting.

 

Who he’s protecting Kirishima from.

 

“Is this him?” he asks, turning the screen so that he can see it.

 

And Kirishima can’t speak right now, but from the way his muzzle crumples into a snarl, hackles bristling against him as they rise, he knows he has his answer.

 

 

Chapter Text

The Forest Service closes at 9pm so Katsuki has to wait until the next morning to call Sero.

 

“Do you have a fuck named Rappa Kendo there?” he asks as soon as the call clicks through.

 

Sero sighs. “You know I’m not legally allowed to tell you, right?” But Katsuki can still hear the sound of him shuffling and flipping through papers, so he bites back his irritation and waits. “Why are you asking?”

 

Katsuki grimaces.

 

Normally he would tell Sero that it was none of his damn business. But that hadn’t worked so well with Mina and Kaminari and he was 95% sure Sero would be the same. So he just grumbles.

 

“He’s stalking my ...” he starts, then glances at Kirishima. The wolf is watching him from the bed, ears perked and swiveled towards him, and he realizes that he doesn’t exactly know how to finish that sentence. He looks away. “He’s stalking someone I know.”

 

Sero hums.

 

“Seriously? I guess I’m not surprised, he does look like a walking restraining order,” he mumbles and Katsuki would almost find it funny to hear him say that if he weren’t so keyed up. “Isn’t this something you should call the police about?”

 

Katsuki grits his teeth. He knows that, and he’s going to. But as deep as he’s fallen into this shitstorm of a situation, he still doesn’t have any actual evidence to pin on the guy, and he can’t go to the police empty-handed and pointing fingers. If his mom did like he asked, then the police should at least suspect that the rabid hunter and criminal at the clinic are the same person. That will have to be enough for now.

 

Everything else, he’ll have to take into his own hands.

 

“Just tell me if he’s there,” he growls.

 

“Alright, alright.” There’s the sound of more shuffling and computer keys clacking and Katsuki grits his teeth, popping his knuckles to stave off the feeling creeping just underneath his skin. It had started last night and had been building ever since, getting stronger now with each second Sero doesn’t answer. Then finally he hears the noises stop. “Well, I don’t see his pass. Looks like he signed out of the park last night.”

 

Last night. After the police and rangers had gathered to inspect the animal carcasses. Katsuki curses, scrubbing a hand through his hair. He’d missed his shot to nail the bastard while he was tending to Kirishima, but there was no helping that. Besides, he doubted that Rappa would leave Musutafu entirely, not with Kirishima still here.

 

He would just have to hunt the fuck down.

 

“Call me if you see him,” he says, but before he can hang up, Sero’s speaking again.

 

“Wait, wait, wait!” he says and Katsuki growls impatiently at him. “This is the same guy that tried to break into your clinic, right?”

 

Katsuki bristles. “How do you know that?”

 

“Your mom told me. You know. While I was driving your parents back home.” Sero pauses then, pointedly, and Katsuki grits his teeth.

 

“What do you want. A medal?”

 

“I’m just saying,” he says and Katsuki can almost hear the shrug in his voice, it’s so clear. “She was pretty worried since you just ran off like that. She was trying to call you but you didn’t pick up.”

 

Katsuki frowns, pulling his phone away from his face so he can glance at the screen. Sure enough there are several missed calls fighting for space at the top of his notification bar. He grimaces, something twisting low in his gut, but he shakes it off. She’s tough and he’ll make it up to her later. Right now he needs to focus on finding the hunter.

 

He does grunt an acknowledgement though and Sero takes it as his cue to continue. “She also said not to go to the clinic today. The police are going to be investigating there and she’s waiting until after they finish to get the electrical box fixed so she doesn’t want you getting in the way.”

 

Katsuki perks up and catches Kirishima sitting up straighter out of the corner of his eye. If they’re conducting an investigation then maybe he can catch them and tell them what he knows, possibly even point them in Rappa’s direction. “Which officers?”

 

Sero sighs. “You’re going to go down there anyway, aren’t you?”

 

He growls. “Answer the damn question.”

 

There’s a brief pause on the other end of the line and then Sero caves. “Toyomitsu and Amajiki.”

 

Katsuki nods, thinking. He’s had the chance to work with Amajiki before on poaching cases and he seems like a quiet, creepy fuck. But he’s also smart - if the way he’s been climbing the ranks at the police office is any indication - and therefore more likely to actually think over what Katsuki has to tell him. And Toyomitsu is a bleeding heart.

 

He couldn’t have picked a better duo to deal with if he’d tried.

 

“When are they going to be there?” he asks and Sero hums.

 

“She said the morning so they’re probably already there,” he says and Katsuki glances at the clock. It’s still fairly early so he should be able to catch them.

 

He gets to his feet and watches as Kirishima immediately mimics him, leaping off the bed and coming to a stop at his side.

 

Sero clears his throat. “Seriously, try to stay out of trouble. From this stalker guy and the police.”

 

He falls silent after that and Katsuki considers telling him to fuck off. It’s what he would have done before, probably only a few days ago.

 

But the irritation that would normally flare under his skin at those words isn’t there. So he let’s the silence stretch out for a little bit before finally muttering out a “thanks” and then hanging up before Sero can get a word in edgewise. He doesn’t want to have to deal with his stupid reaction.

 

Kirishima places a paw on his foot and Katsuki glances down at him while he pockets his phone.

 

“Stay here,” he orders. The last thing he needs is for anyone else to see him walking around with a huge red wolf.

 

But when he steps back towards the door, Kirishima only follows.

 

“I said stay, goddamnit.” But the wolf just flattens his ears and darts past him, knocking the door open so he can get out to the living room.

 

Katsuki curses, stomping out after him so he can drag him back to his bedroom by his ears, but he stops when he sees Mina sleeping alone on the couch.

 

His brow furrows.

 

He checks the rest of the apartment just to be sure, but both the kitchen and the other bedroom are empty.

 

Kaminari’s gone.

 

Katsuki grits his teeth. Fine. Whatever. He’d told them this shit without the expectation of help and he wasn’t going to beg for it now. If Kaminari wanted to dip then good riddance. He’ll make due with what he has.

 

“Get the fuck up,” he growls at Mina, kicking the couch for emphasis. She starts then blinks at him, rubbing her eyes as she yawns.

 

“What for?” she whines, voice still thick with sleep.

 

“You’re going to make sure Kirishima doesn’t do something stupid while I go to the clinic,” he says. Kirishima growls, nipping at his fingers, and Katsuki waves him away. He doesn’t care if that’s what Kirishima wants or not, he’ll just have to suck it up and deal.

 

“How could you work at a time like this?” Mina mumbles. She’s still half asleep, stretching until her back cracks, and Katsuki has half a mind to kick her off the couch.

 

But he does still need her compliance so he just scowls. “I’m not going to work. The police are there.”

 

Mina jolts up.

 

“Why? What’s going on? Is it some type of emergency?” she asks, suddenly wide awake now. “You’re going to talk to the police; are you telling them about Rappa?” She’s practically buzzing with energy and Katsuki grimaces. He’s already regretting telling her.

 

“Would you just shut up and watch him?” he growls, jabbing a finger at Kirishima, but Mina shakes her head, bouncing onto her feet.

 

“No way! I’m the reason you even know what Rappa looks like, of course I’m going!” She races around the room to grab her things and he clicks his tongue, scraping a hand through his hair as he checks his watch. He doesn’t have time for this.

 

“Fine,” he hisses. “Just hurry up, I don’t have all day.”

 

It turns out to be an unnecessary statement, though. Mina moves quickly and she only needs a minute or two before she’s following Katsuki out the door and across the lot to his dad’s truck.

 

“Where’s Kaminari?” she asks as they slide inside, Kirishima hopping into the back.

 

Katsuki slams his door shut. “Gone.”

 

She raises an eyebrow at him. “Well obviously. Where did he go?”

 

“Don’t know, don’t care. He left.” He’s still simmering as he says it, hands tightening on the wheel as they pull out of the lot and onto the road.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her glance at him. He doesn’t turn to see her expression.

 

“I’m sure he had a good reason,” she tries. “I’ll call him.”

 

Katsuki clicks his tongue. “Don’t bother.”

 

As far as he’s concerned, it’s over and done with. The stinging in his chest belies it but he just grits his teeth and pushes the pedal down harder. He’s got more important things to deal with right now.

 

Mina sighs, turning to share a look with Kirishima, but she doesn’t say anything else. For that, he’s grateful.

 

When they pull up to the clinic, there’s already a police car in the closest space.

 

“Stay here,” Katsuki says, looking back at Kirishima, and he means it this time. He can’t explain a wolf and up close there’s no mistaking Kirishima for anything else.

 

Kirishima holds his gaze for a long moment, shifting restlessly. But eventually he sniffs, sitting back on his haunches. Katsuki watches him for a little longer, then nods, hopping out of the car to follow the voices coming from the back of the building.

 

When he rounds the corner, Toyomitsu and Amajiki are standing at the electrical box, Amajiki jotting down notes in his pad.

 

Toyomitsu spots him first.

 

“Oh, Bakugou! Perfect timing,” he says, scratching underneath his hat. Amajiki glances up at him and then quickly averts his eyes, practically burying himself in his pad. “Since yer here anyways we can ask ya a few questions.”

 

Katsuki grunts - this is exactly what he was hoping for - but before he can say anything more, his phone rings. He frowns, pulling it out of his pocket to glance at the screen just as Mina trots up beside him.

 

He scowls. It’s Kaminari.

 

“See!” Mina chirps, glancing over his shoulder at the screen. “I told you he’d have a reason.”

 

But Toyomitsu is still waiting on him and Katsuki stuffs his phone back into his pocket, ignoring Mina’s protests. He’ll listen to the idiot’s excuses later.

 

He looks up then and Toyomitsu smiles at him. “Yer mom told me that ya were the one ta stumble on the box here. Could you tell me what happened?”

 

Katsuki nods. He’s told this story so many times now that he’s practically got it memorized.

 

“When I pulled in the parking lot, there were footsteps leading around the back of the clinic,” he starts. “When I followed them, it barely took a second to see someone had been fucking with the box.”

 

Toyomitsu hums, rubbing his chin. “Yeah, we saw the blood already,” he says, cocking his head at the footsteps on the ground, now dried a dark brown. “Didja manage ta get a good look at ‘im?

 

Katsuki nods. “I know what he looks like.”

 

It’s not technically a lie and he pulls out his phone, thumbing through the pictures to find Rappa’s. Kaminari calls again while he’s searching and he growls, hanging up so he can pull up the picture. Can’t the idiot even wait a fucking second? Jesus christ.

 

He hands the phone over and Toyomitsu takes it, squinting at the screen then angling it so Amajiki can see around his arm.

 

Immediately, Amajiki glances up at them.

 

“Where did you get this?” he asks. Katsuki was expecting that question - Rappa’s photo is practically a mugshot - but he still grimaces. He can already see Mina fidgeting out of the corner of his eye and he’s not looking forward to explaining either.

 

But for her it might mean losing her job, so he bites the bullet. “I took it from the Forest Service,” he says. Mina’s head whips around to look at him, but he doesn’t falter. “His arrival coincided with the attacks and I was suspicious, so I got into the back offices. His name is Rappa Kendo.”

 

“You took pictures of private files,” Amajiki says. There’s no inflection to his voice, just a statement of fact, and Katsuki bristles but holds his tongue. There’s nothing he can say anyway..

 

Amajiki glances to Toyomitsu and Toyomitsu rubs the back of his neck.

 

“Well,” he drawls, “yer not really supposed ta be doin’ that.” He shifts from side to side uncomfortably and Katsuki grits his teeth, tense as he waits. But Toyomitsu surprises him by clapping a hand on his shoulder. “You’re sure this is the guy?” he asks, serious, and Katsuki nods. “Well, yer a pretty straight-laced kid. We could look inta it at least. Add ‘im to the suspect list, maybe?”

 

He glances at Amajiki as he says it and Amajiki sighs.

 

“You’re going to anyway,” he mumbles and Toyomitsu laughs.

 

“Ya know me so well,” he says, leaning over to nudge him with an elbow. “Sometimes, ya just gotta follow yer gut.”

 

Amajiki groans.

 

“Workplace harassment,” he mutters into his collar. But it’s drowned out by the sound of a car pulling up and they all turn to see Kaminari slamming out of his door almost before he’s fully come to a stop, sprinting towards them.

 

“Why don’t you answer your phone?!” he screams, and Katsuki bristles.

 

“Can’t you see I’m busy?!” he yells back, flinging a hand at the startled officers. But Kaminari hardly even glances at them, skidding to a stop in front of him with his hands on his knees. “Thought you had somewhere to be. What happened to that?”

 

He can’t stop the snark from tainting his voice and turning it bitter, but Kaminari just shoots him an incredulous look.

 

“I had to go back to the shop for my tool kit to fix your electrical box,” he says between pants, then waves his arms in front of his face. “Never mind, never mind, that doesn’t matter! That stalker guy is asking about your parents.”

 

Katsuki feels all the blood drain out of his face.

 

For a moment, he can’t say anything, and it’s Mina who ends up speaking first.

 

“What?!” she says and Kaminari nods wildly.

 

“When I got there, they said he had come by the shop. Other ones too.” He takes a deep, gulping breath. “Wanted to know about the clinic.”

 

Katsuki inhales, sharp.

 

There’s only clinic in this town. In this small town, where everyone knows each other and can’t keep their damn mouths shut.

 

“What the fuck did they tell him?!” he yells. His fist is already wrapped in Kaminari’s shirt - he’s not sure when it got there - and distantly he’s aware of Toyomitsu trying to interject, but Kaminari is shaking his head.

 

“I’m not sure-” he starts, panicky, hands flailing and Katsuki feels his heart rate skyrocket.

 

Then they all fall silent at the sound of two radios beeping, the walkie talkies at the officers’ hips crackling to life simultaneously.

 

“Unit 132.”

 

Immediately, Toyomitsu brings the radio to his face, glancing at Amajiki.

 

“132,” he says and the radio crackles again.

 

“Unit 132, we’re getting reports of a 10-76 at 17 Shizuoka,” it says and Katsuki freezes. “White male, light shirt and hair, dark pants.”

 

That makes him move.

 

“That’s my house!” he shouts, pushing forward even as Toyomitsu holds up a restraining hand. “Hey! What the fuck’s a 10-76?” There’s alarm spiking through his system and the curdling feeling he’d felt in the pit of his stomach is returning en force and he hates it.

 

But instead of responding, Toyomitsu just speaks into the radio again. “10-4, respondin’ from the Clinic.”

 

He slots the radio back onto his belt and his hand is huge on Katsuki’s chest, holding him back even though he wants to push past it, snatch that radio up and demand answers.

 

“Calm down, kid, this is police business,” he says, stern now, but Katsuki couldn’t care less.

 

“What the fuck is a 10-76?!” he screams. His mind is racing through possible scenarios, each one worse than the last, and every single one of them featuring his parents.

 

Toyomitsu looks down at him, brows furrowing.

 

“It’s a prowler,” he says.

 

He’s hardly finished speaking before Katsuki is sprinting back to the cars, Mina and Kaminari close behind.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Pick up the fucking phone!” Katsuki screams into his cell.

 

He’s careening around corners, driving much faster than is either safe or advisable, and somewhere on the road behind him, Kaminari is probably struggling to keep up, but all he can think about is how much he wants to go faster because his mom hasn’t picked up once in the four times he’s called her.

 

In the passenger seat, Mina’s curled up with her face in her hands, peaking through tense fingers.

 

“God, I hope they’re okay,” she says and it’s barely audible over the sound of tires squealing and the police siren wailing in the distance. But he still wants to reach over and shove the sentence back down her throat for voicing what he himself had refused to admit.

 

“Come on, come on, come on,” he growls. He’s already punching in the numbers to the house phone but it just rings incessantly and he hangs up. “Why the fuck aren’t they answering?!”

 

Nobody responds to him - Mina too busy burying her face and Kirishima struggling to stay steady in the backseat. He can’t tell if the silence is better or not - not with all of them thinking the same thoughts.

 

By the time they finally round the corner to his parents’ street, there’s so much dread building underneath his skin that he thinks he’ll lose himself in it. But the sight of houses grounds him and he immediately scans every one that they pass, looking for anything suspicious.

 

There’s nothing and Katsuki almost sags with relief.

 

Then Mina gasps, gripping his arm so hard her knuckles turn white.

 

There’s a man standing on his doorstep.

 

He’s huge, long hair falling over shoulders so brawny that his back seems to almost bend under the weight. There’s no mistaking him from the guy in the picture. He’s looming over his dad, pressing the door open where Masaru’s trying to force it closed, Mitsuki armed with a fireplace poker behind him.

 

Rappa’s at his house. That fucker got to his house. He’s so angry he can barely see straight.

 

Katsuki and Mina jump out of the car, slamming the doors behind them. Distantly, Katsuki’s aware of the police sirens getting louder, of Kirishima scrabbling at the car windows, but it doesn’t register, his brain too busy screaming THAT FUCKER at him and flashing blaring pictures of animals mauled beyond recognition.

 

“I’m warning you!” Mitsuki yells.

 

She’s got the poker raised high and ready to swing, and it’s the perfect distraction for Katsuki to get in close.

 

He sprints ahead of Mina, takes a running leap, then slams his fist into Rappa’s face.

 

Pain flares in his hand, so much of it that he knows something must be broken, but the hit is solid. It would have been enough to send a normal man flying, maybe even knock him out.

 

Rappa just stumbles.

 

His weight falls against the door, pushing it closed, and beyond it Katsuki can hear his mom’s voice screaming his name, so muffled and distorted with panic that it’s almost unrecognizable. His anger ratchets up into rage.

 

“Get the hell away from my place, you shitstain!” he yells, using his momentum to whirl around and slam an elbow into the back of his head. The impact is so hard it jolts through his arm like electricity, but it’s enough to get Rappa to his knees and that makes all the pain worth it.

 

But it’s still crippling and if this turns into a battle of endurance, he’s going to lose. He has to end this fast.

 

So he slams a foot into the guy’s face.

 

Or tries to.

 

Rappa’s hand shoots up and Katsuki’s foot sinks into his palm instead, trapped there by the freak’s iron grip.

 

“Wow,” Rappa chuckles, and his voice sounds like he’s been throat punched so many times that it’s partially collapsed. It brings goosebumps to Katsuki’s skin. “It’s been a long time since I fought an average Joe.” He grins up at Katsuki from underneath his bangs and his eyes gleam in the shadows of his face. “You’ll be a fun warm up.”

 

His fingers crunch down on Katsuki’s foot, grinding the bones together, and Katsuki feels his expression begin to fracture and break under the strain.

 

Then Mina catches up.

 

“Let go of him!” she yells, darting around Katsuki to kick Rappa’s wrist like a soccer ball. Her foot cracks against his bone and Katsuki can feel the power behind it.

 

But Rappa doesn’t let go.

 

His fingers only crush down harder and when Mina tries to follow it up with another kick, he just yanks Katsuki’s foot to the side hard enough to knock them both off balance.

 

“Fuck off!” Katsuki screams, trying to break free, but it’s like he’s moving through quicksand, too much happening at once. There’s the sound of tires squealing to a stop and Kaminari’s voice yelling his name, but Katsuki doesn’t have time to find him in the mess, his mind aware and unaware of everything around him at once: his position, their disadvantages now that they don’t have speed or surprise; Kaminari’s panicked cursing; the sound of a car door opening; claws clicking on asphalt.

 

Then something huge and red barrels past them and slams into Rappa, knocking both Katsuki and Mina to the ground.

 

Rappa takes the brunt of it, slamming into the door so hard Katsuki can hear it splinter.

 

“Holy shit,” Kaminari shouts from somewhere behind him, but Katsuki can only stare wide eyed at the wolf reared up on its hind legs and pressing Rappa into the door, snapping its jaws centimeters away from his neck.

 

“Kirishima!” he tries to scream, but Kirishima either can’t hear him or isn’t listening so he whirls on Kaminari. “You let him out of the car?!”

 

“You needed help! I had to!” Kaminari shouts.

 

The sirens are getting louder and he needs Kirishima out of here now. But Kirishima and Rappa are too wrapped up in their struggle to stop, the scrape of Kirishima’s claws against wood loud in Katsuki’s ears.

 

“Nice,” Rappa wheezes, straining under Kirishima’s muscle. “Thought I was going to have to hunt you down again but you came to me.”

 

He’s somehow managing to keep the wolf’s mouth away with just an arm braced against his neck, but the other hand is groping around his belt for his dagger, just visible from where Katsuki’s lying.

 

Katsuki’s sprinting before he even thinks about it.

 

“Bakugou, wait!” he hears Mina shout. “The police-!”

 

But he doesn’t stop moving.

 

“Claw at his neck!” he yells at Kirishima as he slams a fist into Rappa’s side. The pain that flares in his hand at that is excruciating but he doesn’t stop punching. He’s aiming for the kidney and he knows he got it when Rappa bends a little, curling protectively around himself and leaving his shoulder exposed.

 

Kirishima does as he’s told, clawing at the area, and Rappa’s pained yell morphs into excited laughing.

 

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” he shouts. Then his foot shoots out and slams into Katsuki’s stomach, knocking him back and forcing the air out of his lungs. “It’s not man versus beast because we’re all beasts now!”

 

“Police! Freeze!” Toyomitsu shouts from somewhere behind him, but Rappa’s laughter is only climbing into manic screaming and Katsuki’s struggling to pick himself up off the ground, get some oxygen down his throat, do something.

 

“Are you okay?” Mina asks, suddenly much closer as she skids to a stop next to him. “Don’t shoot, you’ll hit Kirishima!” she shouts at the police, then turns back to press a hand against Katsuki’s shoulder. But Katsuki can’t even look at her, too focused on the glint in Rappa’s hand.

 

“Kirishima, move!” he screams, but it’s like seeing it happen in slow motion, the blade slashing through Kirishima’s fur, the yelp as he falls back.

 

He’s barely even aware of his own body as he shoves out from under Mina, ignoring her warnings and sprinting towards them.

 

“I’ll kill you!” he screams, letting all the rage and helplessness and pain well up in his throat.

 

“That’s it!” Rappa screams right back at him. “Come at me with all you’ve got!” His knife is still primed and ready, spotted with red that’s slowly filling up Katsuki’s vision.

 

But something yanks him back and it’s Toyomitsu that slams into Rappa, hitting him so forcefully that it sends the knife flying from his grip to skitter along the ground.

 

“Yer under arrest!” he yells as he slams him into the ground, one of Rappa’s arms trapped awkwardly beneath them while Toyomitsu crooks the other behind his back. Rappa keeps fighting underneath him, though, and the officer barks at him. “Keep strugglin’ and yer gonna pop out yer own shoulder!”

 

He lifts up threateningly on his arm, leveraging it against his back, and Rappa screams out, hoarse and frustrated.

 

“No arrests, no draws!” he spits, face smushed into the dirt. “This is a fight to the death!”

 

Toyomitsu just shakes his head, grimacing.

 

“Yer right. It’s not a draw ‘cause ya lost.” He glances up, eyes locking just over Katsuki’s shoulder. “Amajiki, come help me put the cuffs on ‘im and read ‘im his rights.”

 

Amajiki steps forward, releasing his grip on Katsuki’s shoulder and nodding at him as he passes, but Katsuki doesn’t even see it.

 

Part of him wants to kick Rappa’s fucking teeth in, curb stomp him until he never wants to even think of Kirishima again, let alone hunt him. But the other part, the larger part, is focused on the way Kirishima’s slumped on the ground, curled protectively around himself. There’s blood splattered on the grass around him and Katsuki drops to his knees by his head.

 

“Let me see it,” he says. His voice sounds like it’s coming from someone else. “I can’t treat it if I don’t see it.”

 

“Is he...?” Mina asks and her voice is choked up too but Katsuki still whirls on her.

 

“Shut up,” he hisses. “Shut the fuck up, he’s fine.” She stares at him, eyes shiny and a hand balled over her mouth, and he turns back to look at Kirishima. “You’re fine. You told me you heal quick. You wouldn’t shut up about it. You’re fine.”

 

His right hand is hardly functioning anymore, just a lump of pain attached to his wrist, so he combs through Kirishima’s fur with his left, looking for the wound.

 

“Let me see it,” he whispers and Kirishima blinks up at him, just once.

 

Then he changes.

 

Holy shit,” Toyomitsu breathes.

 

Katsuki doesn’t say anything though, too caught up in staring into his eyes, and Kirishima smiles at him.

 

“You were awesome. So manly,” is the first thing out of his mouth, and if he weren’t so injured already, Katsuki would punch him in the face.

 

But the tension that had been crackling underneath his skin is fading now, and for the first time since Rappa slammed a foot into his stomach, he feels like he can breathe again.

 

“Just shut up and let me think,” he grumbles. He’s careful to be gentle around the wound, but even though it’s long and deep as hell, it’s still not as bad as he’d feared. “What the fuck were you thinking jumping out like that? Now even more people know your secret, you idiot.”

 

Kirishima smiles lazily up at him, wincing occasionally as Katsuki continues assessing the damage. “I wanted to protect you,” he murmurs. “Gotta do what I can.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t say anything to that. There’s nothing to say - he knows exactly what Kirishima means.

 

Everyone else isn’t nearly as quiet, though.

 

“What in sam hell?” Toyomitsu says, awestruck, and over him Katsuki can hear his mom’s voice.

 

“Katsuki?! Katsuki!” she yells through the door. She tries to open it but the wood is so splintered and distorted that the knob only rattles, and something bangs against it from the inside. “Goddamn this stupid fucking door. Don’t you move a muscle, I’m coming around!”

 

Her footsteps thunder off and Katsuki grimaces, wondering how he’s going to explain any of this to her. But Rappa breaks through his thoughts.

 

“Is he a man now?” he yells, voice muffled from the floor. “You see it, don’t you? A true opponent, worthy of an all out brawl!”

 

He laughs once, low and harsh, and Kirishima shudders, his face dimming somewhat as he avoids looking at him.

 

“Why the fuck is he still here?” Katsuki yells, whipping around to hone in on Toyomitsu. Both he and Amajiki are perched on top of the guy, their combined weight crushing him into the ground, and Katsuki glares at them. “Isn’t he supposed to be in the back of your cop car by now? The fuck are you waiting for? An invitation?”

 

The officers blink at him simultaneously, then Toyomitsu shakes his head. “Alright, but yer tellin’ me everythin’ when ‘m done.”

 

He gets up carefully then, hauling Rappa up with him and dragging him off to the car, but not before the guy manages to crane his neck back and shout one last thing.

 

“You’re a real man! You hear me?!” he screams. “When we meet again, it’ll be a real brawl!”

 

The rest of his words fade off as Toyomitsu forces his head down and shoves him bodily into the back of the car, slamming the door behind him. Even then his voice is still audible, the car rocking from side to side as he screams.

 

When Katsuki looks back to Kirishima, his lips are thin and tight.

 

“What a nut job,” Toyomitsu mutters, staring at Rappa through the window. Then he turns to face them. “You,” he says, pointing at Kirishima. “We’re gettin’ ya some clothes. Then I’m callin’ an ambulance and gettin’ ya treated ‘cause that gash looks pretty nasty. And you three,” he says, this time turning to Katsuki, Mina, and Kaminari. “Gettin’ ‘im fixed up’ll give ya plenty a time to explain yerselves, so ya better start from the beginnin’.”

 

He gives them a stern look and Katsuki knows there’s no getting around it. But he can also hear his back door slamming open, and he knows this isn’t the time or the place.

 

“Not in front of my parents,” he murmurs, staring Toyomitsu down.

 

Toyomitsu’s gaze flicks up at the sound of his parents running across the grass towards them, then gives Katsuki a long considering look.

 

Then, finally, he nods.