It starts out slow.
He notices it in the small glimpses of peace between their hectic school schedules and training. But once he notices it, it’s the one thing his dumb heart won’t shut up about. It wasn’t used to this.... this soft warm feeling exploding through chest at the oddest of times and for the most ridiculous of reasons. He was used to burning anger and coursing adrenaline pumping through his veins to oxygenate his brain. That was his defense, and without that, he was at a loss.
This, whatever this was, these feelings, they were unchartered waters and he was just barely managing to keep afloat. His head just above the tide flooding his senses, fighting the water dripping into his already burning lungs, suffocating him in somehow the most pleasant and utterly terrifying of ways.
He feels it in the flash of a toothy grin. A grin aimed at him. A smile for him. A laugh, a joke, an arm casually slung around his shoulder. The pulling of his hand and heartstrings. The sigh of his name on lips he wish were entangled with his own, of lips he finds himself staring at far too often, and in the low light of his room as he falls asleep at his desk, bringing an end to yet another late night study session.
Bakugou has a crush.
He would be an idiot not to know that by now, but he’s knows he’s an even bigger idiot for allowing himself to get one in the first place. And for hair for brains of all people…. lord help him.
“Hey!” Kirishima directs his blinding toothy grin in Bakugou’s direction for the 1,000th time that day and there it is again. Unfurling in his stomach, butterflies soaring through his internal organs and bursting into the base of his throat, demanding to be felt, throwing his whole world off kilter and trapping his reply behind his lips.
Shut UP! He screams from within in. His heart hammering a mile a minute in his temples as his eyes trail their way from blinding grin to beaming eyes. Oh no. That was a mistake. His eyes are crinkled at their corners from the sheer power of his smile, swallowing the scar just above his right eyebrow.
Why was Bakugou thinking about that? Why did Bakugou think of those things when he looked at this idiot?? And why did it make him feel this way? Like his whole world was simultaneously being burned to the ground and rebuilt in the vision of the brightest star in the sky. Why was he always internally taking notes of all of Kirishima’s features? Always etching his every look into the farthest corners of his brain.
Perhaps for a rainy day, so that when he closed his eyes Kirishima’s happiest goofiest faces would paint the back of his eyelids and brighten up everything within him, even if just for a moment. Or perhaps for those nights where all he’s been through catches up to him and keeps him up for hours on end, palms sweating, glycerin slick on his skin, fear and anxiety heavy in the air as he stirs from yet another nightmare. For when all he could think of was silky red hair, still damp from the showers, falling over strong shoulders, and hero pajamas reminding him they are just children after all, gently sitting on his bed, a various array of books, papers, and pens surrounding their sprawled out almost touching limbs.
He takes another second to gather his consciousness into a more obedient state and remembers to breath in through his nose and out of his mouth.
“Hey..” he lets the word slip out quietly enough that only Kirishima will hear.
God, was that casual enough? Did Kirishima notice the way his eyes glazed over his face? Did they notice his brief slack jawed expression? Surely he’s been caught wearing it more than once in the presence of someone as illuminating as Kirishima?
“Do you wanna study together again tonight?” he asks Bakugou, eyebrows angled up towards his ruby red hairline.
“Yeah sure” Keep it cool, he reminds himself. Keep it casual, and for the love of God keep your mouth shut when you aren’t speaking.
“Great! I was actually kinda hoping to ask you a favor?”
A favor? That was rare. Kirishima knew Bakugou didn’t really do favors. Well, maybe he did for a few select classmates, but he’d never call it that. He’d be sure to let everyone involved know he was doing whatever the task at hand was for his own benefit, or simply so he wouldn’t have to suffer through watching someone else half-ass the job.
Yes, good. Very casual.The absolute pinnacle of nonchalance.
“Well, I know you would rather just you and I study but Kaminari really really needs-"
“No” he doesn’t need to hear the end of that sentence to know how he feels about the question he’s about to be asked.
“Wait dude! I didn’t even finish, just hear me out! Please! What type of bro would I be if I didn’t at least ask you fully on his behalf before you turned him down??”
Bakugou fixes Kirishima with a particularly annoyed glare, lips thinning as his eyebrow raises in the silent question pressing Kirishima to continue.
“So I know you hate studying with him and the rest of the gang but he’s just not getting how Momo explains things to him, and well, I may have mentioned how good you are at tutoring and he wants back in. He promised he’d keep his mouth shut this time around. What do you think?”
“What I think is that I’ve never seen Kaminari with his mouth shut for more than five minutes at a time” even when he’s eating, Bakugou thinks to himself... disgusting.
“I know, I know. But really he just likes to joke around! You know that about him, but I swear he’s completely serious this time dude. You should’ve seen his face when he asked me to ask you, he was almost crying, he might actually fail math if someone doesn’t help him soon.”
“Well then let him fail,” Bakugou replies, “if the idiot actually slept at night and stayed awake during class instead of the other way around, some of Aizawa’s lessons might actually sink into that shit-brain of his”
Aaaaannd he’s pouting. Kirishima’s bottom lip juts out enough to dimple the chin below it as his hands come up into a false prayer
“Bakugou, ppllleeeeeeaaaasssseeee” he whimpers, “you know just as well as I do how annoying he’s gonna be if we have to deal with him whining over more summer courses. Please, please, pl-”
“Ok!" he exclaims, "God, I’ll do anything if you stop pouting like a fucking three-year-old. Fuck. But we’re meeting in your room this time, I’m sick of you getting crumbs all over my fucking sheets with your ‘study snacks’ or whatever.”
Bakugou stomps towards the door of the classroom, leaving Kirishima at his desk, before pausing at the threshold to yell over his shoulder,
“And tell Pikachu to be there at 6 o’clock on the fucking dot. Not a minute past or I’ll leave both of your asses for dead and you can suffer in summer school together”
Bakugou can hear a mild yell of triumph and Kaminari’s name being called by Kirishima as leaves the room and heads outside.
He knew they’d be celebrating this small “friendship victory” as Bakugou learned they called moments like this. And by they he meant soy sauce, Pikachu, black eyes, and, of course, Kirishima himself. He couldn’t really blame them, even he knew it was rare for him to give in to their whims, but that didn’t stop him from being annoyed at their knack for dramatics over every little goddamn thing, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential.
Kaminari better thank his lucky stars that Bakugou was getting soft in his old age. If it wasn’t for Kirishima asking him like that he never would have agreed to study with that doofus.
But Bakugou had a strong feeling Kaminari already knew that, Bakugou would really have to hand his ass to him extra hard some day in the near future during training. He didn’t like people knowing about his feelings when he just barely understood them himself. And he especially didn’t like the thought that he was close enough with Kaminari for him to pick up on something so small in his eyes.
It was just a crush after all, not the end of the world. Well, sometimes it felt like that when Bakugou really thought about it, but he didn’t like letting his mind rest on the topic too long. It was much easier for him to push it aside, off to the back burner, something to ponder later. Who knows when later would be, but he knew it couldn’t be something he thought about around others. He didn’t want to risk his face slipping into the vulnerable state it did when he was deep in thought over something so conflicting. He must have accidently already allowed that to happen once or twice in order for someone as dense as Kaminari to pick up on it. Damn. He really needed to get it under control. If he didn’t soon enough Kirishima would probably pick up on it too, and he absolutely could not risk that. He wasn’t ready to “confess” or whatever when he was still so perplexed by the feelings raging through him.
Determined to sort through some of his feelings in the privacy of his own room before their impending study session, he stuffs his hands into the pockets of his low slung pants and very casually walk-runs his way to the dorms.
Geez, he really did have some work cut out for him.