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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.”