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Starting Over From Ground Zero

Chapter Text

When Todoroki got the call to respond to an emergency one sunny afternoon, he didn’t think much of it. The details he’d received had been brief but succinct: three villains, one already apprehended, but the last two giving substantial trouble to local officials, necessitating the call for backup. As a new intern fresh out of school, he was often sent on missions deemed unimportant enough to require the agency’s real heroes and sidekicks. Hence, his presence here was required.

It wasn’t until he actually arrived at the scene that he began to realize things were going to be different today than the routine he’d recently thrown himself into.

Screams filled the air, a fire burning somewhere down a nearby alley, smoke filtering heavy and thick into the skyline. He stepped onto the street to find it filled with surprisingly familiar faces—all familar young faces, and all contorted in various expressions of anxiety.

“Deku. What’s the situation?” Todoroki asked as he came to a stop next to Izuku, taking a loose fighting stance to be ready for whatever might happen.

Izuku spared him only a brief glance, his face serious, though he sounded relieved when he said Shouto grimly by way of greeting.

“This was supposed to be fairly small-scale, according to the report,” Izuku told him. “Kirishima managed to capture one of the three villains, but the other two have quirks that are causing us some… issues.”

A sense of foreboding settled in Todoroki’s stomach, heavy and unwelcome.

“Issues?” he replied with a frown. “ What kind of—“

A loud explosion came from the building before them, the glass shattering out and racing directly towards them. Todoroki threw up a wall of ice barely in time to stop the shards from running them through.

Izuku let out a shaky breath. “Um. Issues like that.

Wonderful.

“What’s the quirk?” he asked thinly.

“Not sure,” Izuku mumbled as he peered carefully around the wall of ice. Todoroki followed him and found that there was no sign of anyone being present at all. Other than the distant screams, it was eerily quiet. “It seems like some kind of telekinesis quirk, but it’s way more powerful than the report said it would be. He calls himself Reaper.”

Todoroki snorted. Villains had a way of naming themselves in a manner that frequently impressed him with their sheer lack of creativity.

The two of them moved forward slowly, eyeing the building with no small amount of trepidation as they approached. Nothing seemed to move. No sounds came from within. And yet Todoroki knew, could somehow feel, that this was precisely where their targets were hiding.

He’d developed a sort of sixth sense for it, as of late. That kind of thing tended to happen when you did little more than run mission after mission all day every day, or so he’d found.

“And the other villain’s quirk?” he murmured as they came to a stop, sizing things up quietly. Izuku’s eyes flitted around, mouth moving silently as he clearly worked over some kind of plan.

“We’re not entirely sure,” he answered distractedly after a moment. “The only real information on the report was that she’s fairly small, that her quirk is short-range, and that she calls herself Fugue.”

A loud thud sounded from behind them, the familiar accompaniment of small sparks cluing Todoroki in to who was behind him without him even having to turn around. Oddly, he felt a sense of relief that surprised even himself in its intensity.

“What a stupid fucking name,” Bakugou spat, stomping toward them, Kirishima a few meters behind and running to catch up. “People are so uncreative it’s unreal.”

Todoroki rolled his eyes despite that he’d just been thinking the very same thing not two minutes ago. “Does anyone besides me remember the time you legitimately wanted to call yourself Lord Explosion Murder? Or do I still need to remind you?”

“Fuck off. You have no right to talk when your hero name is probably the lamest I’ve ever heard. At least mine was original.”

“Hey, guys, let’s—uh, maybe focus?” Izuku suggested, eying the building. “I was thinking, since most of the damage being done is physical, maybe Red Riot could rush in and go unbreakable for a bit to try and draw some attention? Or at least, draw them out? I just need one clear shot to rush in and apprehend them, so provided you can give me that, we should be more than capable of—“

“No fucking way,” Bakugou interrupted, stalking forward a few feet past the rest of them. “I’m more than capable of doing it myself.”

Todoroki sighed deeply. He tried and failed to suppress his eye from twitching in annoyance.

“Uh, bro, I don’t really think that’s a great—“

“Just fucking wait here,” he continued, ignoring Kirishima entirely.

“K-Kaccha—I mean, Ground Zero, you can’t just—we have no idea what Fugue’s quirk even does, and the level of unknowns surrounding the other villains quirk make that way too risky. Plus, despite the vagueness of the report, she’s classified as a high priority target. I’ve never encountered that before. If you don’t like the plan at least wait until we can come up with a better one.”

“You’re going to get yourself hurt,” Todoroki added with a scowl, crossing his arms over his chest.

Bakugou glanced over his shoulder at Todoroki’s words, eyes locking with his briefly, the stare intense enough to make Todoroki’s blood boil. He could tell when he wasn’t being listened to.

Sure enough, Bakugou turned around and rocketed himself through the broken-out windows of the building, disappearing from sight in seconds.

“Why is he always like this,” Izuku muttered to no one in particular, Kirishima wincing apologetically before rushing to follow in Bakugou’s wake, the other two sighing but not far behind.

Explosions could be heard coming from out of sight, rapid-fire and fast, the tell-tale signs of a battle raging. It sounded to Todoroki like Bakugou had moved upstairs. How the hell he’d gotten there so fast remained a mystery. Debris littered the hallways they ran through, light fixtures broken out and hanging haphazardly from the ceiling as they ducked and dodged around them.

He saw a gaping hole with singed edges and realized exactly how Bakugou had moved upward so rapidly.

“This is taking too long,” he said abruptly to no one in particular, throwing his ice forward in a rushing jagged wave up into the hole to give them all a makeshift staircase to follow, Izuku and Kirishima rushing after him wordlessly.

When they finally reached the source of the explosions, it was to find most of the entire third floor destroyed, smoke hanging heavy and cloying in the air. Bakugou stood on the other side of a blasted-out wall, melted glass crunching beneath is feet.

“You fool,” said a voice, and Todoroki shifted far enough that he could see the figure of a large man, mostly humanoid but with pupilless eyes that seemed to stare at everything and nothing all at once. “You cannot stop us.”

“Already stopped one of you,” Bakugou said, a smile in his voice, sparks crackling menacingly between his fingers. “I’d say my odds ain’t lookin’ too bad. Yours, though. Well.”

Bakugou rushed forward, barreling further into the open space of the room beyond and out of Todoroki’s line of vision, explosions shaking the floor and rattling the plaster from the walls. He moved to follow and assist, worry clenching hard in his gut, but a hand suddenly whipped out and grabbed him by the wrist, Deku pressing a finger against his lips in a motion to stay quiet. Todoroki’s body remained tense, but he nodded in understanding. Deku turned and gestured for Kirishima to lean in as well, eyes darting around with what Todoroki knew to be calculating thoughts. He clearly had an idea.

“We don’t know where the other villain is,” Izuku whispered. “Red Riot, when I give the signal, I want you to go unbreakable and restrain the telekinetic villain. I’m going to attempt to knock him unconscious; we don’t know how his quirk works, so pinning him down may not be enough. Shouto,” Izuku said, turning his eyes briefly to address him. “Stay hidden for now. When Fugue reveals herself, encase her in ice, but keep your distance. We don’t know how close she has to be to use her quirk, or what it even does for sure.”

Todoroki didn’t like that plan, because it meant not doing a whole lot to help in the immediate sense, and hanging around uselessly was very high up on his list of least favorite things, but he also knew it was the smartest course of action. He trusted Izuku with his life. If Izuku thought this would work, then he believed it would.

He nodded silently in affirmation despite his frown, Kirishima giving a wordless but enthusiastic thumbs up alongside him.

He ignored the part of him that wanted very badly to rush in and make sure Bakugou was unharmed. It was illogical and didn’t even make sense.

Izuku released them both, face turning determined. He took a few quiet steps toward the wall, the other two moving into position as Bakugou continued to duke it out with their target, bits of plaster and glass and steel being continually chucked at him and being repeatedly beat back or incinerated in turn.

A green glow filled the corner of Todoroki’s eye, electric currents lighting up Izuku’s skin as he activated One for All. As soon as Bakugou threw a particularly hard blast at the man, knocking him back several feet across the room, Izuku shot forth with a cry, striking Reaper in the back of the head solidly and sending him reeling into the concrete of the far wall. Kirishima rushed forward, body rigid as his ability flared to life before he threw himself on top of the villain, securing his arms behind his back and pressing his full weight down on the backs of his thighs. The man looked to be out cold, thankfully, but Izuku was right in that they really couldn’t be too safe with this one.

That left two down, one to go.

“I thought I told you fucks to wait outside,” Bakugou spat, standing and rubbing a smudge of dirt and blood off his chin where his lip had seemingly split. “I had this handled. Those apprehensions could have gone on my record and now you’ve fucked it up for no goddamn reason.”

Izuku turned around to say something in response but was cut off before he could get a word out.

“Oh, don’t worry,” a soft voice said. Todoroki watched with a surreal sense of detachment as Bakugou whipped around just in time to be doused in the face with some kind of viscous liquid, the substance clear but thick and somehow jelly-like in appearance. “You won’t have a record to worry about when I’m done with you.”

He saw her, then, a short and lithe woman leaning against the far wall very near to where Bakugou had been –how had they not seen her before?—with one hand extended towards Bakugou, a smile twisting her features into something cruel.

Todoroki didn’t hesitate. He moved from his position, placing one hand on the wall and sending a wave of ice racing across the perimeter of the room, freezing the woman to the wall with a startled gasp.

Bakugou stood in the center of the room, trying and mostly failing to wipe the substance from his face. He stumbled back a step, looking around with wild and unseeing eyes.

“Ground Zero?” Izuku asked, green eyes wide with concern as he walked towards him, arm hesitantly raised. “Are you alright?”

Bakugou looked at him, blinking rapidly, the emotion draining from his face slowly. “Don’t touch it,” was all he said, voice falling disconcertingly flat.

Then he slumped face-forward onto the ground.

“B-Bakugou!” Kirishima yelled, though he didn’t move from his position.

Todoroki’s pulse spiked in panic, his eyes locking with Izuku’s and freezing him in place with a look. “Don’t touch him,” he warned. “We don’t know what that stuff does. Just call this in and request immediate medical assistance.”

Izuku’s head bobbed, jerky with anxiety, a hand already pressed to the headset he wore to begin calling in the capture, Todoroki hearing him requesting medical aid as though from far away.

He walked slowly across the room, stepping carefully around the destruction as he approached Bakugou, watching closely for the steady rise and fall of his chest, noting the way his face looked utterly relaxed despite being covered in a slimy mess. He seemed entirely comfortable and content, not a single frown-line marring his features for once.

“What’s wrong with him? Is he alright?” Kirishima asked, voice strained.

Todoroki blinked, tilting his head slightly. “Yeah. I think he’s just… sleeping, actually.”

It wasn’t long before the sound of sirens began to drift in through the broken out windows, and within a few short minutes the police had arrived and secured all three villains to be taken away, Bakugou being carefully handled and placed into the back of an ambulance as a medical team worked to clear his face of the mystery liquid while wearing thick elbow-length gloves to avoid coming into contact with whatever it was.

“I want to go with him,” Izuku said quietly once he’d finished giving his report to the police, Kirishima and Todoroki standing next to him. “I need to make sure he’s ok.”

“I’m going,” Kirishima said, eyes grave. “I need to be there when he wakes up.”

Todoroki didn’t know what to say. Didn’t know how to feel, really. Ever since school had finished a few months prior, he and Bakugou had only run across each other once, and their interaction had been brief enough to almost not even count. Seeing someone who was usually so powerful and loud taken down so easily and in such a quiet way left an uneasiness roiling around in Todoroki’s stomach that he wasn’t sure what to do with. He felt nauseous and maybe more than a little afraid.

“I’m going to go,” Izuku said again, breaking into Todoroki’s thoughts. He was looking at Todoroki with a question in his big green eyes, a look that felt like it was saying please don’t make me go alone.

Todoroki sighed, feeling defeated—both by Izuku but also by his own weird sense of guilt. “I guess that means I’m coming, too.”

 

 

 

“How serious is it?” Kirishima asked the doctor as soon as he appeared, fists clenched at his sides nervously.

The three of them had been pacing the waiting room for hours now with virtually no word on Bakugou’s condition, other than that it was stable. They were still in their hero costumes, a fine layer of dust and plaster coating Todoroki’s pants, which he’d tried and failed to brush off over the last few hours out of sheer boredom and maybe a touch of anxious fidgeting.

The doctor adjusted his glasses, a frown on his face as he seemed to consider his words. “Ground Zero’s condition is, as I’ve said, stable. He has no serious injuries other than a few cuts and bruises, and will make a full recovery.”

The words were positive, but the way he said it told Todoroki there was more to it than that.

“So that’s good, right?” Kirishima prompted, seeming to sense the same thing. “He’s ok, then?”

The doctor didn’t seem to be able to meet their eyes. “He… is healthy, but.”

Tension hung in the air, the doctor seeming to struggle with what to say next.

Izuku leaned forward, placing a hand on the doctor’s arm gently. “Please, sir. Just be honest with us. We can handle it.”

Todoroki wondered if there would ever come a day where he wouldn’t feel amazed at Izuku’s ability to radiate a sort of calming empathy he seemed to exude without thought.

“Ground Zero was hit with a quirk,” the doctor said after a moment. “The villain, Fugue, produces a liquid which causes amnesia.”

Todoroki heard Kirishima suck in a sharp breath, his own chest feeling like the air had suddenly frozen in his lungs.

“He has… no memories of his life,” the doctor continued, voice solemn. “The good news is that they will return, thanks to your fast actions. Fugue gave up some more details about her quirk in a, uh, interrogation, I’m told. She said the memory loss could be for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but that he had not been under her influence long enough for it to be permanent.”

“A few days to a few weeks?” Izuku breathed, eyes wide. “And he remembers— nothing? Absolutely nothing at all?”

“He does not seem to remember anything, no,” the doctor agreed quietly. “Fugue mentioned that it may be possible that he will retain a certain sense of memories related to feelings that were particularly strong, but beyond that, he is unlikely to remember details of any sort until the amnesia wears off entirely.”

Todoroki’s face felt slack with shock. He understood it in a logical sense, but practically speaking, he couldn’t wrap his mind around it.

“We ran a few preliminary tests to try and ascertain the full extent of the damage. It seems like Ground Zero still retains at least some semblance of the skills he’s learned in his life, though to what degree we can’t be absolutely certain— for example, he still appears to know how to read. But any information about the events of his own life up to this moment seems to be locked away somewhere that is temporarily inaccessible.”

The doctor paused to take a deep breath. “The amnesia also appears to have affected the use of his quirk. While Ground Zero still produces nitroglycerin from his sweat, he no longer seems to recall the function of how to utilize it to create explosions. We’re fairly sure the problem will clear up as soon as his memory returns, but until then, he’s somewhat… defenseless.”

They all stood there a moment, digesting this information silently, a heaviness hanging palpably in the hall with them.

What was this going to mean for Bakugou until his memory returned? He clearly couldn’t work. The lack of a working quirk might also put him in danger if any villain should come looking for trouble or revenge. Not to mention that, in his current state, Todoroki wasn’t sure Bakugou could even be trusted to care for himself. Did he know how to eat? How to walk and find his way around? He clearly needed to be watched over by someone.

“Can we see him?” Kirishima asked suddenly in a rush, interrupting Todoroki’s anxiety-induced thoughts. “Please? I just—I need to know that he’s—“

“Of course you can,” the doctor said kindly. “But please be warned: we don’t want to cause any extra damage by overloading Ground Zero with information he doesn’t remember at the moment. Try and remain as calm as possible, and don’t volunteer any more information than is strictly necessary.”

The three of them nodded in tandem before the doctor turned and gestured for them to follow him down the brightly lit hallway without another word.

When they reached a nondescript room at the end of a long corridor, the doctor paused, giving them one last look before knocking twice on the door and swinging it open slowly.

Todoroki took a deep breath, not sure what to expect, and followed the man inside.

“Bakugou,” the doctor said warmly as he entered. “You have some visitors here who would like to see you.”

Todoroki experienced the strangest sense of vertigo in the world as he took in the sight before him.

Sitting up in bed and looking out the window was none other than Bakugou Katsuki, but Todoroki had the surreal sensation that he was looking at someone he’d never met. Bakugou’s features, for once in his life, weren’t pulled into a scowl, his eyes no longer glinting with challenge; they were soft, though their sharp intensity remained, and when they moved to pin the three of them with his gaze his stare was simply bold and open with curiosity rather than repressed anger, his posture relaxed and leisurely.

“Oh. Uh, hey. Who are you?” Bakugou asked bluntly, sounding bored.

“We—I mean, uh,” Izuku began, hands waving uselessly before him, suddenly seeming unsure of what to say or where to start.

“We’re old classmates of yours,” Todoroki said smoothly, stepping forward and taking control of the situation wordlessly. “And now we work in the same field, so I suppose you could call us colleagues, too.”

“Oh,” Bakugou repeated, blinking at him and seeming to roll with the answer easily. “Nice of you to drop by, I guess. Uh. Why are you guys dressed like that?”

Todoroki looked down at himself, Kirishima and Izuku looking at themselves in turn.

Ah. Their hero costumes.

“Work,” Todoroki said simply with a shrug.

Bakugou snorted. “So, what. Does that make you guys, like. Superheroes or some shit?”

“You could say that,” Izuku replied faintly, sounding dazed.

Bakugou’s eyes widened slightly at this, his interest clearly piqued. “Wait, really? Hold on, if we’re coworkers or whatever, does that make me a superhero too?”

“S-something like that,” Kirishima agreed, seeming torn between amusement and anxiety.

Bakugou seemed to consider this for a moment, his gaze turning up towards the ceiling. After a moment he grinned to himself. “No way. That’s pretty fuckin cool.”

“R-right, it is pretty—um, cool, for sure. So,” Izuku said, clearing his throat in an obvious attempt to try and regain some footing. “My name is Midoriya Izuku. And this is Kirishima Eijirou,” he said, pointing to Kirishima, who gave a small but genuine smile and a wave. “And this is Todoroki Shouto,” he finished, Todoroki startling at the sound of his own name but managing to give a polite nod.

Bakugou frowned slightly, though it was with thoughtfulness rather than anger. “Ok. Uh, I’d say nice to meet you, but I feel like I already know you, so.”

“You—wait, you do?” Kirishima asked, sounding hopeful.

Bakugou nodded slightly, blond hair bouncing a bit with the movement. “Yeah. Feels like we’re friends or something.”

Todoroki suppressed a laugh at the look of pure, unadulterated joy that crossed Kirishima’s face. “We are friends. We’re best friends, actually. Even if you, uh, usually won’t admit that.”

Bakugou ignored this, turning his stare to Izuku instead. “We’re friends too,” he said, like this was simply a fact.

Izuku’s mouth dropped open, eyes welling, his lip trembling in a smile as he nodded furiously with a wet sniffle. “We are friends, definitely.”

Todoroki huffed softly. He wasn’t so sure Bakugou would agree to that under normal circumstances, but, well. The doctor did say he might remember particularly strong emotions or impressions, so if this was one of them, he guessed it had to be true. Even if Bakugou would have pitched an unholy fit if he’d known they were aware of the fact that he considered anyone to be his friend, let alone Midoriya.

And then Bakugou turned his gaze on Todoroki, tilting his head to the side thoughtfully as he seemed to consider him. It was unnerving, somehow, but not entirely unpleasant to be looked at with such intensity when there was no hostility lurking in Bakugou’s gaze.

Bakugou suddenly shot him a grin that was startlingly roguish, hair falling over his eyes artfully as he pinned him with his stare. “So. You must be my boyfriend, then, huh.”

Todoroki’s mouth dropped open, his eyes flying wide, Izuku making a choked noise beside him while Kirishima let out a squawk.

Bakugou looked between them, his grin slipping ever-so-slightly. “What? Am I wrong?”

“I—I am not your boyfriend,” Todoroki managed to croak, completely at a loss for what else to say.

“Oh,” Bakugou mumbled, visibly deflating somewhat and sounding thoroughly disappointed. “Well. Damn. That sucks, then.”

“What the fuck,” Kirishima whispered, biting his lip to fight off a laugh. “Bakugou, uh, why do you think Todoroki is your boyfriend?”

“I don’t know, he just feels like he should be, I guess?” Bakugou mumbled, seeming like he was struggling with putting something into words. “It’s just… a feeling. I don’t fuckin know how to explain it. Plus he’s hot, and I think I’m probably pretty hot too, so why wouldn’t he be?”

“Because you’re not—“ Izuku started, before breaking off rapidly, eyes widening. “Kacchan—I mean, Bakugou. Are you, um. Gay, by any chance?”

“Uh,” Bakugou said, raising an eyebrow like this was perhaps the dumbest question he’d ever heard in his entire life. “Yeah? Like, hell yeah.”

Todoroki snorted, abruptly clasping a hand over his mouth to stop himself from laughing out loud.

“Is this real life right now?” Kirishima said, eyes wide. “Like, no way. No fucking way. Now I owe Denki fifty bucks. Shit.”

“What?” Bakugou said, glaring slightly for the first time. “Did you not know or something?”

“You’ve always been, um, very private about your… private life,” Izuku responded, face bright red. “Though given this revelation, I suppose I can see why.”

“Why wouldn’t I tell people that?” Bakugou asked, frowning in earnest now. “It’s not like anyone cares. You guys don’t care, right?”

“Right,” Kirishima and Izuku agreed in unison. Todoroki nodded, but couldn’t get himself to speak.

“Then why—“ Bakugou broke off, pressing a hand to his forehead with a wince.

It was funny until Todoroki suddenly realized the motion was likely less due to annoyance and perhaps more due to actual pain, Bakugou probably struggling to make sense of what he was hearing considering he had absolutely no memories to work off of.

“Let’s come back to this topic another time,” Todoroki cut in, trying and somewhat failing to keep his amusement out of his tone. “I’m fairly certain there are more important things to focus on right now anyway.”

“Right,” Izuku agreed, flushing slightly, likely out of a sense of shame. “You’re very right, Todoroki-kun.”

Kirishima echoed him, equally red but still unable to keep the bewilderment out of his expression.

“Bakugou,” Todoroki addressed him again, when became clear that no one else was up for the task. “What did the doctor tell you about your condition?”

Bakugou eyed him thoughtfully before answering. “That I have amnesia. Which sort of makes sense since I don’t know anything about anything right now. He, uh, also ran some tests on me or… whatever.”

Todoroki nodded in what he hoped was an encouraging manner.

“And my memory is supposed to come back, I guess, but they don’t know how long it’ll take,” he added with a shrug. As though this were merely a minor inconvenience and not a huge, life-altering problem.

“That about sums it up,” Todoroki agreed, feeling off balance despite his outward calm. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” Bakugou said, yawning widely as if to emphasize his point. “A little sore, too, I guess. Feels like I got into a fight or something.”

Todoroki smiled slightly but didn’t agree or disagree with the statement.

“That’s to be expected, given—I mean, uh. That does make sense,” Izuku said, seeming to catch himself just as he began to say too much. “I’m sure you’ll be feeling fine after a good night of rest. Did they say when they’d discharge you?”

“He can leave any time now,” the doctor said from the corner, Todoroki almost having forgotten his presence entirely. “But he will need to be under strict supervision.”

“Right,” Kirishima agreed, nodding vigorously. “I can totally take care of him, no problem.”

“I feel it’s best he go with someone who he isn’t quite so close to, actually,” the doctor said. “Not that I think you’d intentionally do him harm, but Bakugou shouldn’t be overwhelmed with information at the moment and I suspect you may find it difficult to keep things to yourself. You as well,” he finished, gesturing to Izuku pointedly.

Izuku bit his lip, wringing his hands behind his back but didn’t bother to argue. All three of them knew he was right.

“So who’s going to watch him, then?” Kirishima asked, shooting the doctor a frustrated look. “I mean, we can’t just leave him with someone he doesn’t know. And if we’re not good options then his parents certainly aren’t, either.”

“We want to keep this out of the public eye as much as possible to ensure Bakugou’s safety. The less people who know, the better. Ideally, he would be placed with someone he knew well and got along with but was not particularly close to. A fellow Pro Hero. Someone else from your graduating class, perhaps?”

“Todoroki-kun,” Izuku said.

Todoroki startled, turning to look at him. “Yes?”

“No, I wasn’t—I meant, Todoroki-kun would be the best choice for keeping an eye on Bakugou until his memory returns.”

Todoroki’s mouth fell open. “What.”

“That does seem like a good option,” the doctor agreed quietly, looking at Todoroki with a discerning eye.

“Todoroki is calm, level-headed, and practical. He already knows the situation, and he and Bakugou got along, uh—decently well, before this, but weren’t exactly… close,” Izuku continued, seemingly thinking out loud. “Not to mention Bakugou clearly seems to be, uh. Fond of him.”

Todoroki felt his face heat at the comment, but his mouth seemed unable to form words.

“Do you want to stay with Todoroki, Bakugou?” Kirishima asked, his eyebrows drawn together in worry.

Bakugou crossed his arms behind his head, leaning back comfortably as he gave Todoroki a once-over. “I mean, I don’t see why not, considering I don’t even know where I’m supposed to live otherwise. He seems cool enough anyway, so,” he finished, shrugging as if to say it’s whatever¸ not meeting Todoroki’s eye. “Might as well.”

“Well then, that settles it,” the doctor said, picking up a clipboard and scrawling something on it briefly as he made his way to the door. “We’ll start checkout procedures here shortly. Red Riot, if you would be so kind as to run by Bakugou’s place of residence and collect his things for him, perhaps?”

“Sure,” Kirishima agreed immediately. “No problem.”

The doctor nodded pleasantly. “Well, gentlemen. Let me know if you have any further questions.”

Then he left the room, Todoroki feeling like his life was falling apart in his wake.

“I can’t just—” he tried when the silence dragged on between them but found himself unable to continue.

Izuku walked up to him, putting a hand on his arm gently. “Todoroki-kun, you can, and I really think you should. I think it’d be good for him and you, probably.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked incredulously.

“He means all you do is work anymore, man,” Kirishima said with a sigh. “You could probably use some time off. No one’s seen you since graduation.”

What? He didn’t—that wasn’t true. He’d seen them all since graduation. Definitely. Why, there was that one time when they’d. When they’d all… Huh. Well, surely someone had had a birthday since then, right? Hadn’t they…?

The realization that they were perhaps right seemed to creep over him slowly, sinking into his bones with a heavy sense of guilt.

“Todoroki,” Izuku asked gently. “When was the last time you had a day off?”

He opened his mouth to reply but found he truthfully had no idea.

“I’m sure your agency won’t mind if you take a bit of time off to care for a fellow Pro Hero. Not to mention it’s hardly time off considering he sort of needs protection,” Izuku went on, squeezing his arm lightly. “And you really are the most level-headed out of the three of us. Bakugou needs you.”

“Level-headed isn’t the right term,” Todoroki murmured automatically in response. “Less emotional, maybe.”

“Sure. Whatever makes you feel better, buddy,” Kirishima said with a grin before turning back to Bakugou. “So, Bakugou, my man. You got any pants on under that blanket or do we need to get you dressed, too?”

“No pants here,” Bakugou replied flatly with a shrug, looking down at himself briefly before shooting Kirishima a shrewd look. “I don’t know if I want you dressing me, though.”

“What?” Kirishima asked, sounding a bit hurt. “Why not? I’m your best friend.”

“Well you’re half-naked and not in a hospital bed, which means you have no excuse for looking like that. I’m not sure you can be trusted to get the job done, frankly.”

Todoroki let out a surprised laugh, Bakugou’s eyes flickering to him. His crimson gaze seemed to bedancing with amusement. He’s teasing him, Todoroki realized. Bakugou Katsuki was cracking a joke—and not a bad one, considering he’d gotten Todoroki to laugh, which was no small feat.

Since when had Bakugou ever been funny? Since when had he ever teased anyone good-naturedly?

Todoroki wondered what was going on with his life.

He had a suspicion he’d be wondering that frequently for some time.

 

 

 

Several hours later, Todoroki found himself standing outside of his own apartment, Bakugou beside him with a duffle bag full of belongings slung over one shoulder as he gazed at the door in mild curiosity.

Todoroki wasn’t really curious, himself. Tense? A bit. Anxious? Probably. Weirded out beyond all comprehension? Oh, without a doubt.  But curiosity wasn’t exactly at the forefront of his emotions.

Mostly, the most powerful emotion he was currently experiencing was disbelief. He couldn’t believe he was about to allow Bakugou Katsuki into his own home—willingly, and with the intention of doing him a favor. Mild coercion had perhaps been heavily involved, sure, but he’d still agreed to it in the end.

He just wasn’t entirely sure why. He was reluctant to think about it too much for some reason. It made his head hurt and his stomach feel weird.

“Well, are we going in, or what?” Bakugou asked him mildly, sounding faintly amused.

Amused. Bakugou Katsuki was amused. Todoroki felt like he was experiencing a mild to moderate lapse in reality.

With a quiet huff, he pulled out his keys, sticking them in the door and preparing himself for the worst before stepping inside.

Bakugou followed him, dropping his bag heavily in the entryway and gazing around in open fascination. “Huh. This place isn’t what I expected at all.”

“What were you expecting?” Todoroki asked as he slipped off his shoes, genuinely curious.

Beside him, Bakugou toed off his own shoes distractedly as he hummed in thought. “I dunno,” he finally answered, the honesty in his voice blatant. “Have I been here before?”

“No,” Todoroki told him quietly.

Bakugou nodded. “Didn’t think so. It’s nice here, though,” he said, stepping past Todoroki and walking towards his living room as though he were completely at home in Todoroki’s space. “I like it.”

Strangely, some part of Todoroki felt inordinately pleased by this information.

“Whoa,” Bakugou’s voice called from around the corner, Todoroki following him to find him bent down with a hand extended, grinning. “What the fuck. You didn’t tell me you had a cat.”

“I didn’t think to,” Todoroki replied truthfully, a thought occurring to him suddenly. “Do you, um, like cats?”

“I don’t know,” Bakugou replied, tilting his head as Todoroki’s calico bumped her head gently against Bakugou’s outstretched fingers, her tail waving in a friendly gesture as she moved in a bit closer to better soak up the attention. “I like this one, though. What’s her name?”

The answer should have been innocuous enough, and yet somehow it left Todoroki feeling warm. “Lady.”

“Lady,” Bakugou said with a snort. “What a goofy name. Suits her, though. She seems kind of regal or whatever.”

“Why don’t you put your bag in the bedroom?” Todoroki suggested, his throat feeling inexplicably tight.

Bakugou looked up at him, frowning slightly as he dropped his hand from petting the cat. “Uh. Why?”

“Because that’s where you’ll be staying?” Todoroki responded, annoyed with himself when it came out like a question instead of an answer.

Bakugou stood up suddenly, crossing his arms over his chest. He squinted at Todoroki, mouth a thin line. “Ok, uh. I don’t get it.”

“Um,” Todoroki said eloquently, at a complete loss. “What do you not get?”

“Why would I be staying in your bedroom?” Bakugou elaborated.

Todoroki frowned, still feeling confused. “Why wouldn’t you?”

“Uh, excuse me, but I’m pretty sure you’re the one who told me we weren’t dating,” Bakugou replied, arching one eyebrow imperiously. “So unless you’re a fucking liar, I don’t see why we’d be sharing a bed, then.”

Oh. Oh.

“No, that’s not—you will be staying in my room,” Todoroki told him, rubbing at his forehead and trying to fight off the way his cheeks felt dangerously close to flushing with embarrassment. “I will be staying out here on my other futon.”

“But it’s your house,” Bakugou said, his frown deepening.

Todoroki felt a headache coming on rapidly. “Yes. I am aware. And you’re my guest. Which means I have to be a good host.”

“Giving me your bedroom is what a good host does?” Bakugou asked, clearly skeptical. “That sounds fucking stupid.”

Todoroki dropped his hands from his face, turning around and walking towards the kitchen. “Just— go put your things away, Bakugou.”

He heard Bakugou mumble something that sounded vaguely disagreeable under his breath as he walked to snatch up his bag, but he didn’t argue further. Todoroki listened to his footsteps as they moved down the hall, heavy and yet not the angry stomping Todoroki was used to from him. The heaviness was just Bakugou’s natural gait, likely due to the sheer amount of height and muscle he’d put on over the last several years. Todoroki had been pleased when they graduated to find that he was still the tallest, though not by a large margin.

In a contest of sheer muscle mass, however, Bakugou still came out on top by a good bit.

When he felt confident that there were no concerning noises coming from the direction of his bedroom, Todoroki decided it was probably wise to make a pot of tea and a very late dinner for the both of them. They’d probably have to hit up a grocery store the next day, but until then, his small stockpile of instant food would have to suffice for keeping them fed. He set about putting on some water to boil, wondering to himself what they’d do for the rest of… well, however long it took for Bakugou’s memory to return. Todoroki assumed that letting him have free reign over the television probably wasn’t wise, what with the potential that’d have to overload him with too much information too soon, so he’d have to keep him otherwise occupied. He had absolutely no concept of how he was going to do that, but he was sure something would come to him.

Probably, anyway. Food seemed like a decent enough place to start.

By the time Bakugou had returned to the living room, Todoroki had finished making them both instant ramen and was in the process of grabbing cups from the cabinet to pour their tea into.

He glanced into the living room as he passed the doorway, vaguely curious about what Bakugou was up to in there.

This, he discovered, was a huge mistake.

Bakugou was seated under the kotatsu, a hero magazine pulled towards him as he flipped through it with obvious interest. It was one that had featured an article about up and coming Pro Heroes and had included a brief interview and highlight of Izuku. Todoroki couldn’t remember if Bakugou was mentioned in it himself or not, though he knew several other classmates of theirs had been—himself included, much to his annoyance. Next to Bakugou on the floor, Lady had curled up comfortably, her eyes shut in bliss as he distractedly rubbed behind her ears while he read.

That wasn’t the problem, though.

The problem was the glasses.

Bakugou glanced up at him suddenly, as though sensing he was being watched, his red eyes pinning Todoroki through a set of thin golden-wired frames that set off the color of his eyes.

It wasn’t until Todoroki heard the sound of shattering ceramic that he realized the cup he’d been holding had slipped from his hands. Lady darted into the bedroom with a hiss at the loud crash, not used to loud noises and unappreciative of them to begin with.

“What the fuck,” Bakugou asked, eyes wide as they darted back and forth between Todoroki’s face and the remains of the cup that laid at his feet. “Are you like, ok?”

Todoroki opened and closed his mouth a few times. Was he ok? He didn’t know. He wasn’t sure why he wouldn’t be, but at the same time, he also wasn’t sure that he was.

“Glasses,” was what he finally managed to say, very intelligently.

Bakugou’s brow furrowed, his hand reaching up to touch the frames and push them slightly higher up over the bridge of his nose, the movement making Todoroki’s heart race for some inexplicable reason. “What, these?”

Yes,” Todoroki answered emphatically.

“What about them?”

“You’re wearing them,” Todoroki replied, wishing he knew how to explain why this was such a big deal.

Bakugou rolled his eyes. Glasses shouldn’t make an eyeroll look good, and yet— “No shit, dumbass. That’s kind of what they’re for,” Bakugou muttered.

“I didn’t mean—I just. Wasn’t aware you wore… glasses,” Todoroki finished lamely, upset that it came out sounding a bit breathless and more than a little disjointed.

Bakugou shrugged before turning back to the magazine before him—something he probably shouldn’t be reading, Todoroki realized belatedly, and yet didn’t have the wherewithal to try and stop him. “Maybe. I mean, they’re just for reading, so I guess that’s possible.”

Reading glasses.

Bakugou Katsuki wore… reading glasses.

Despite that Todoroki was actively looking at them, this still didn’t fully register somehow.

How long had he been wearing them? Since they’d first met, or was it more recent? Now that he thought about it, he did think he recalled Kirishima mentioning something about how the light from the explosions Bakugou’s quirk produced had been hurting his eyesight. That conversation was sometime last year though, assuming he was remembering correctly. It stuck in his mind because Todoroki had felt a bit bad for Bakugou, knowing that his quirk had begun to take a small toll on his body. He hadn’t realized that it had gotten to the point that Bakugou now had to wear reading glasses, though.

There was something else about it that bothered him, though. Something to do with the glasses, and yet it was also more than that. It took him a moment to really parse out his own thoughts, but eventually he managed to land on what it was that was eating at him.

What else about Bakugou did he not know? He suspected the answer to that was a lot more than he’d ever realized. And for some reason, that knowledge quietly ate at him in a way he didn’t really understand.

He picked up the broken bits of ceramic quietly, wondering when he’d come to care at all about what he did or didn’t know about Bakugou. He shouldn’t, really. They’d been on good terms for the last couple of years, but Todoroki doubted they could really be called friends, either.

And yet here he was. Caring.

By the time they’d finished eating, Todoroki tucking himself into his futon for the night with Lady a comforting weight against his side, he realized he still didn’t have an answer.

He didn’t sleep well. He had a suspicion he had a lot of sleepless nights in his near future.

 

 

 

News reports of the incident showed up the following day, leaving a bad taste in Todoroki’s mouth.

An Unlikely Capture: How Four Young Heroes Stopped Tragedy in its Tracks

The Pro Hero world was booming yesterday –literally—when four of UA’s fresh graduates stopped one of the city’s most wanted criminals from further eluding capture.

The capture of the villain known as Fugue has been a high priority for the city’s police chief ever since her involvement in the permanent memory erasure of multiple political figures and even a handful of law enforcement officers for their involvement in attempting to stop the smuggling of quirk-enhancing drugs into the city. Yesterday, this reporter received word that Fugue and her latest accomplice had made a botched attempt at a robbery, likely meant to fund the dwindling smuggling operation, only for some of UA’s finest from this years graduated class to show up on the scene.

Heroes Red Riot and Ground Zero were first to arrive, securing one of the villains on their own just as the hero Deku arrived. Reports state that the Number One Hero’s own son showed up not long after, the hero Shouto, who has been making big waves in the Pro Hero world ever since his graduation. The four heroes moved the fight into a building where Fugue and her remaining accomplice, Reaper, had apparently holed up in an effort to avoid detainment, Ground Zero taking the lead in the attack.

What precisely followed remains unclear, though reports state that Shouto was the one who made the official capture of Fugue (and as such will likely be at her sentencing at the end of this year). Red Riot and Deku were both seen being treated at a local hospital for minor wounds, Shouto alongside them and apparently unharmed—as expected of such a fine hero!

Since the battle, however, Shouto has seemingly been put on a temporary leave of absence and his agency has declined further comment. Deku and Red Riot were both seen back on the job early this morning, looking no worse for wear! But there has been a strange amount of radio silence over the most explosive hero on the current market.

What this reporter wants to know, and what the rest of the world is dying to find out, is what in the world happened to Ground Zero?

Todoroki shut the news app on his phone, refusing to check it or any news again until his “leave of absence” had resolved itself for the sake of his own sanity.

 

 

 

Despite the awkwardness of their situation, Todoroki and Bakugou developed a sort of routine rather quickly.

Bakugou, it turned out, was an early riser but not a morning person. He woke up around the time the sun rose and stumbled around noisily as he showered and got cleaned up, and he straight-up refused to speak to Todoroki until he’d had a cup of coffee (though he didn’t seem to mind petting Lady, who now spent most of her nights with Bakugou rather than him, Todoroki noted sourly). Todoroki, a morning person by nature, frequently got up and made a nice big breakfast for the both of them before heading to the gym. The trouble with that was that he now often ended up bringing Bakugou along with him—a development he didn’t seem to have much of a choice in, given that Bakugou couldn’t sit still throughout the day if he wasn’t allowed some kind of outlet to burn off his energy. A pent-up Bakugou was a surefire way to guarantee Todoroki had a massive headache by the end of the night, or so he’d quickly discovered.

Blessedly, they spent most of the time at the gym in silence, Bakugou not awake enough at that point to start a conversation, for which Todoroki was endlessly grateful.

Regrettably, as a result, Bakugou spent almost the entire journey back from the gym asking questions.

“What are quirks?”

“Do you have a quirk?”

“Do I have a quirk?”

“How do I use it?”

“Why can’t I use it?”

“What’s a hero?”

“Are you a hero?”

“Am I a hero?”

“Why?”

That last one stumped Todoroki frequently, because Bakugou asked about Todoroki’s motives for things almost as often as he asked for answers about his own.

He learned rapidly that Bakugou had an insatiable need to be doing something with his free time. Sitting around in Todoroki’s apartment petting Lady didn’t cut it; he wanted to be reading or watching the television— things that required supervision, lest he overload himself and earn a migraine, which had happened once and left Todoroki feeling no small amount of guilt.

Feeling guilty about his treatment of Bakugou was a new thing. In the past, Bakugou had always seemed somewhat deserving of any minor grievance Todoroki might have thrown his way. This Bakugou was different, though. He was oddly… nice, if still somewhat blunt and abrasive.

“This food is horrible,” he said one afternoon, looking at Todoroki’s attempt to cook them lunch with no small amount of disdain.

Todoroki knew it wasn’t meant expressly as an insult, despite that it still stung a bit. “My skills in the kitchen are somewhat limited,” he said sourly by way of apology.

“Why?” Bakugou asked, looking up at him curiously. He was always looking at Todoroki curiously. To be fair, he looked at most things curiously, but when he trained his red eyes on Todoroki, there always seemed to be a certain intensity and focus that was unique, his attention single-minded and hanging off of every word that made it past his lips.

It was weird. It was even weirder in that it was surprisingly not that unwelcome.

“My parents didn’t spend a lot of time teaching me how to cook,” Todoroki said with a shrug, deciding to be honest but keep it simple. He shoved his food around with his chopsticks, slowly scooting the mess on his plate in a circle, not sure what else to say.

Bakugou was quiet a moment, seeming to absorb this. “Your dad is that famous hero. The flame one. Endeavor,” he blurted after a minute of nothing but the sound of Todoroki’s chopsticks scraping the plate before him.

Todoroki’s eyes snapped forward on instinct, body seizing up, his expression hardening.

Bakugou seemed to be mulling something over as his gaze lingered on Todoroki’s face, taking in the sweep of his hair before slowly, ever so slowly, falling to his left eye. He couldn’t read the expression on Bakugou’s face, despite that there was a powerful emotion laid out there for him to see. “Your mom. She did that.”

Todoroki’s didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but it hadn’t been that. His mouth dropped open in shock, his heart feeling like it had frozen in his chest. “How… do you know that?” he asked slowly.

Bakugou continued to look at him, and after a moment Todoroki finally recognized that at least some of the emotion on his face was in fact sadness. “I don’t know,” Bakugou said quietly, dropping his eyes back down to the table and pushing his own food around his plate distractedly. “I wish I could remember.”

For the first time since Bakugou had lost his memory, Todoroki wished he could, too.

He knew it wasn’t a secret, exactly –a handful of people were well-aware of the origins of his scar, and the complicated situation with his family—but those people were few and far between. Beyond the people directly involved with the incident when he’d been a child, he knew Izuku, Uraraka, and Iida were aware.

He also knew that none of them would have told Bakugou that information.

How had he found out? And why, of all things, did that seem to be something he remembered?

“Does it bother you?” Todoroki found himself saying without meaning to, the words simply tumbling from his mouth before he could stop them or take them back.

Bakugou snorted, stuffing his face with a bite of food and talking through it as he chewed. “What, the scar?”

Todoroki nodded, hating that he cared about the answer to this question. It shouldn’t matter. It really, really shouldn’t.

And yet it mattered to him very, very much for some reason.

No, dumbass,” Bakugou replied, rolling his eyes and taking a long sip off his tea before continuing. “Not unless you count the fact that it makes you look hot. Rugged and mysterious and shit. I’m into it. It’s distracting.”

There was a wheezing noise. Todoroki realized, belatedly, that it was coming from his own mouth.

“Bakugou,” Todoroki said once he’d managed to get his brain to function properly again. “You can’t just keep saying shit like that.”

“What? That you’re hot and I like it? Why the hell not?”

“Because—because you just can’t,” Todoroki said, wishing it sounded more like a command and less like a not-so-subtle plea.

Bakugou raised his eyebrows in amusement, the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. “Why? S’it bother you or something?”

Todoroki thought about it. Did it bother him? On some level, yes, because it was annoying to keep being flustered out of nowhere, but on another level, it was actually really… flattering.

The fact that he didn’t mind it too much was confusing, and maybe the part that actually bothered him most. Todoroki had never given a damn what anyone had thought of him, ever. He didn’t know when or why that had suddenly changed.

At Todoroki’s silence, Bakugou hummed knowingly. “Or maybe you actually like it, huh.”

He said it like it was a fact, rather than a question.

“Just shut up and eat your food,” Todoroki muttered, wishing he didn’t feel so off-balance. It wasn’t something he was accustomed to, nor was it a feeling he particularly enjoyed.

Bakugou shrugged, stuffing his mouth full of his lunch again and talking just because he appeared to have picked up on the fact that it annoyed Todoroki and he seemed to get a certain pleasure out of irking him. “Fine. But I’m cooking dinner tonight.”

Todoroki was too emotionally drained to even bother arguing that Bakugou didn’t know how to cook. He could embarrass himself later, Todoroki figured. At least it would make Todoroki feel slightly better if he did.

 

 

 

He turned out to be horribly, incredibly, infuriatingly wrong about Bakugou’s cooking abilities.

“How do you know how to do this?” Todoroki asked, somewhere between annoyed and awed.

Bakugou shrugged, flicking his wrist and sending the stir fry mixture in the wok flipping through the air and back into the pan effortlessly. “I like cooking.”

“Do you just know that, or do you remember it?”

Bakugou shrugged, seeming to mull it over. “I just know it, I guess. Probably did it a lot before or something. Plus, I’m having fun right now, so I at least know that much for sure.”

“I had no idea you could even cook,” Todoroki confessed. “Let alone that you enjoyed it.”

“There’s a lot you seem to have not known about me,” Bakugou said flatly. Todoroki wondered whether or not the note of hurt in his voice was just his imagination.

He swallowed, leaning against the counter and watching Bakugou work. It was strangely… captivating, somehow. “You and I weren’t particularly close, before,” he admitted after a minute had passed, feeling like that much was safe to give away and feeling like he owed Bakugou some kind of explanation.

It was true, after all. They may have been classmates for three years, and they may have spent a lot of time around one another for a variety of reasons throughout school, but they’d never really been friends. Most days, Todoroki felt like they’d barely even gotten along, even if they had ended up working well enough together in the field by the time they’d graduated.

“Why?” Bakugou asked, adding a handful of scallions to the rice with practiced ease and breaking into Todoroki’s thoughts.

“Why what?” he replied, his brow furrowing slightly.

Bakugou glanced at him briefly before turning back to the stove. “Why weren’t we close?”

Todoroki opened his mouth to respond and, for once, had no idea what to say.

He couldn’t say it was because Bakugou had hated him—because he now had reason to believe that assumption had perhaps been off-base, though by how much he wasn’t really sure. He also couldn’t say it was because Bakugou had been an asshole, because not only was that rude to say, but it also wasn’t the full truth. Bakugou had been an asshole—at first. But over the last three years, he’d mellowed out quite a bit to be less of a walking fist-fight waiting to happen and more of an actual person.

And yet, somehow, they still hadn’t been friends.

“I don’t know how to explain that to you,” Todoroki finally settled on, deciding honesty was the best course of action. “You never really seemed to like me much, and as a result I was never overly fond of you in return.”

“Why wouldn’t I have liked you?” Bakugou shot back, narrowing his eyes in disbelief.

Oh, where to even begin with that one.

“Well, for starters,” Todoroki said evenly, trying to ignore the part of him that was flattered by Bakugou’s quiet confidence that anyone would be stupid not to like him, “we were sort of rivals, I guess. Or rather, you were very determined to make us rivals, and after that it just kind of… happened naturally.”

Bakugou didn’t reply, though he did appear to be listening intently, his hands still moving without thought as he continued to make their dinner on autopilot, his eyes hazy and far away.

“We were very competitive,” Todoroki admitted softly. “We fought a lot. Mostly bickering, but sometimes it got a little out of hand. I can’t even count the number of times we had sparring matches, both sanctioned and unsanctioned. You were always wanting to fight me and best me, and I was always wanting to—”

To what? Put Bakugou in his place? Maybe, but that also didn’t feel like the whole truth, either.

“—to not let that happen,” he finished lamely instead.

Silence fell between them, though it wasn’t uncomfortable—just heavy with things that were left unsaid. Bakugou finished cooking their food without saying anything further, moving things around with a sort of distracted grace that caught Todoroki’s eye and held his attention. He thought Bakugou had dropped the subject entirely, in fact, until he finished plating their meal only to whirl around on Todoroki in a sudden flourish, startling him from where his dazed stare had been focused on Bakugou’s hands.

“I don’t get it,” Bakugou said, sounding—well, mad, for the first time Todoroki could recall since he’d lost his memory.

He was surprised at himself for not feeling immediately defensive. Instead, he simply asked, “What don’t you understand, exactly?”

“I’m going to level with you here,” Bakugou told him, crossing his arms over his chest and cocking a hip to lean against the counter. “All of that shit sounds like reasons I would want to be friends with someone. I don’t know what the fuck would have kept that from actually happening.”

Suddenly feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him, Todoroki realized he didn’t know, either.

Stubbornness had kept them from friendship, maybe, though even as he thought it he knew that wasn’t quite right. It was more than one or both of them just being stubborn. There was something that had kept Bakugou from being honest about a lot of things, and while stubbornness was close, it also wasn’t quite the same as—

“Pride,” Todoroki said, speaking the word aloud as soon as the thought came to him. It felt like the click of a puzzle piece sliding into place. “It was pride that kept us from being friends. You were too proud.”

Bakugou shoved his fingers roughly into his own hair, tugging at it in frustration. “That’s stupid. That’s so, so fucking stupid.”

Privately, Todoroki agreed, though he was smart enough not to say so.

Pride had always been Bakugou’s most defining personality trait. There had never been a moment when Bakugou wasn’t proud of his achievements; when he hadn’t seemed desperate to be recognized as not just good but the best. He’d always had an infallible sense of confidence in himself—often to a fault, but surprisingly that confidence had just as often seemed to work out in his favor. He had never hesitated, always believing he knew exactly what he was doing at any given moment.

Confidence, however, didn’t necessarily equate to pride. And yet for Bakugou, who had grown up being told how wonderful and powerful and great he’d someday grow to be – told it over and over until it was the only thing that seemed to matter to him— his pride and his confidence had merged into something inseparable. Pride had dictated Bakugou’s hobbies, had decided his interests, had constricted his ability to show emotions; it told him what to wear, who to associate with, how to act, how to present himself to the world at all times.

Todoroki wondered, with unexpected pity, if that sort of hardwired pride hadn’t actually hurt Bakugou more than it had helped him in the long-run.

“You know, a lot of times I wonder what I was like,” Bakugou murmured suddenly, snapping Todoroki out of his thoughts abruptly. “Sometimes I want to know everything I’m forgetting because I know it’s important and I need to remember it to function normally, or whatever, I think. But you know what’s fucked up? Like, really fucked up?” he said, anger hardening his expression as he attempted to glare a hole through the floor. “Sometimes, when you tell me shit about myself, I’m not so sure I want to remember any of it at all.”

The self-hatred in his voice was so obvious it made Todoroki’s gut twist with guilt and the urge to do something to help comfort him. He had to quell the impulse to reach out and touch Bakugou as a result—something that he knew would be unwelcome, because sympathy and pity were things that Bakugou despised.

Wait. Was that really true, though?

Bakugou would have despised that in the past, sure. But now? Now, Todoroki had absolutely no idea how Bakugou would have reacted if he’d dared to reach out to touch him on the arm.

He paused, thinking.

What would their relationship have been like, if Bakugou’s pride hadn’t stood in the way? Would they have been friends, or would things have mostly stayed the same? Would Bakugou have been happier, more open and honest about his feelings and wants and needs as a person? Would he have accepted and even appreciated the comfort others offered him, rather than always keeping people at arm’s-length in an effort to maintain an image of independence and strength?

Todoroki didn’t know.

He didn’t know. But he wanted to.

Abruptly, like a bolt of lightning, he realized he actually had the chance to find out.

You’ve been given a second chance, a voice inside him whispered. Do you really want to waste it?

He had to be losing his mind. There was no other explanation for why he was considering doing something as stupid as attempting to reach out to Bakugou Katsuki, of all people. And yet the idea stuck, thrumming through his veins with a kind of desperate curiosity to just try, try, try.

Todoroki wasn’t the sort of person to act on impulse. And yet, despite that, he found himself abruptly making a choice to do the unthinkable.

“Come on,” he said as nonchalantly as he could, reaching a hand out and carefully resting it on Bakugou’s elbow to guide him towards the table, holding his breath all the while. “Forget about it for now and let’s go eat the food you made before it gets cold.”

He prepared himself to be shoved away, or perhaps have a fist swung directly at his head.

Instead, Bakugou looked up at him, some emotion in his eyes that Todoroki couldn’t decipher because he’d never seen it on Bakugou’s face before in all of his life.

“Fine,” Bakugou agreed, sucking in a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh as he let Todoroki guide him to the table.

Todoroki’s nerves felt like they were on fire, his blood humming with adrenaline as they sat down and began to eat in silence.

Bakugou hadn’t pulled away.

 

 

 

Everything seemed to change after that, despite that it also somehow felt exactly the same as before.

Bakugou still seemed to enjoy needling him, though Todoroki was starting to recognize this as his way of showing fondness rather than his attempt to actively antagonize. It grew on him, the two of them lapsing into banter with an ease that made things feel almost like they had before Bakugou had lost his memory, except now with the added bonus that Bakugou was seemingly in love with his cat, was addicted to Todoroki’s collection of odd books, and refused to let Todoroki cook anything in his own home anymore (which Todoroki was frankly not about to complain about).

“I wish I could use my quirk,” Bakugou mumbled petulantly a few days later, starfished out on the floor and gazing up at the ceiling while Todoroki worked on a backlog of menial reports for work he figured he might as well complete while he had the time. “It sounds really cool.”

Todoroki snorted. “I think explosions are the opposite of cool. My understanding is that they’re supposed to be a little on the warm side, actually.”

Bakugou kicked at him lightly with his foot, grinning up at nothing. “Shut up. Are you calling me hot or something?”

For gods sake. For some inexplicable reason, this was something Bakugou seemed determined not to give up on, no matter how often Todoroki repeatedly ignored his efforts to… to goad him, or flirt with him, or whatever this was.

The whole thing was annoying, because Todoroki had never really considered things like dating or relationships or hotness or anything of the sort to begin with. He’d been too busy with dealing with an extremely dysfunctional home life, and then the pressures of school and graduation and obtaining his license, and then getting a job and actually working said job, which wasn’t exactly a stress-free profession. Relationships had never been a part of the plan because he’d never seemed to have the time to give them a lot of thought.

Regrettably, the frequency with which Bakugou brought it up was making him start to do exactly that.

A massive inconvenience, frankly.

Todoroki was also somewhat concerned with the rate at which Bakugou seemed to be wearing him down until he almost, occasionally, found himself on the verge of flirting back.

Well, that was assuming anything he said or did could ever be construed as flirting in the first place, he supposed. Todoroki wasn’t exactly an expert on the subject, but he did heavily suspect some of his own actions weren’t entirely innocent.

And what with the way Bakugou seemed to grin at him with that knowing look in his eye whenever Todoroki did happen to slip up and respond, he had a feeling Bakugou was very aware of this.

And also quite possibly very smug about it.

“I’m not calling you cold,” Todoroki told him with a shrug, eyes back on the papers before him as he tried to change the subject somewhat. “Coldness is kind of my forte more than yours, anyway.”

“I don’t know,” Bakugou said, something in his tone that told Todoroki he was about to say something very stupid and probably very flattering. “I think you’re pretty hot. Even when you’re not on fire, which is saying something.”

Christ. Why had he ever agreed to help take care of him, again? And why was he now trying to actively befriend him? He must be insane.

“I sure hope you get your memory back soon,” Todoroki told him flatly, fighting to keep the flush from clinging to his cheeks. “You’re going to be kicking yourself for the rest of your life for saying things like that.”

“Nah,” Bakugou told him confidently, lacing his fingers behind his head with a smirk. “The only one regretting anything here will be you for turning me down.”

“How do you even know I’m interested in men?” Todoroki asked, genuinely curious. “For all you know, I could have a slew of ex-girlfriends you’re completely unaware of.”

Bakugou rolled his eyes, snorting. “There’s no way in hell you’re charming enough for that.”

Wow.

“Don’t be a dick,” Todoroki mumbled. “Just answer the question.”

“I dunno. I don’t think you’re going to like my answer. Are you sure you wanna hear it?”

“Dammit, Bakugou, I said—”

Bakugou sat up so fast Todoroki barely had time to do much more than blink, his voice catching in his throat. Bakugou’s eyes locked onto Todoroki’s own, pinning him thoroughly in place with the intensity of his stare. His irises were extremely interesting, Todoroki had recently discovered with no small amount of surprise or shame; sometimes a deep blood red, while other times, when the light caught them just right, they seemed almost like the color of warm honey, making Todoroki think of things like the taste of cinnamon and the smell of campfires.

It took Todoroki a moment to realize that Bakugou was moving forward, though he never broke eye contact as he leaned up to move towards Todoroki on his hands and knees, slowly but with an air of quiet confidence clinging to his every move.

Distractedly, Todoroki thought it looked awfully similar to the way Lady looked when she was stalking a particularly fun-looking toy.

“You honestly expect me to believe,” Bakugou started, one of his hands landing close enough to Todoroki’s hip that he could feel the heat of it through his sweats, his other hand bracing against the table as he leveraged himself up to tower over Todoroki, crowding into his space and making his heart thunder against his ribs as if it were trying to run away. “That you’re straight, when you look at me like that?”

Todoroki sucked in a sharp breath, still unable to look away from Bakugou’s eyes, which were edging ever closer as he encroached on Todoroki’s space further still. “I don’t know what you mean,” he said, because he really didn’t. He felt—weird, but good, and he had no idea what that meant or why it was happening.

“No,” Bakugou murmured. “You definitely, definitely do. No one looks at someone like they want to eat them whole and doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing.”

Jesus. That wasn’t—he wasn’t looking at Bakugou like—he really wasn’t, surely he wasn’t, Todoroki had never—

Bakugou finally broke eye contact to drop his gaze to Todoroki’s mouth, his eyelids fluttering along the curve of his cheek as he licked his own bottom lip before pulling it between his teeth and biting down, as though imagining what it would be like to do the same to Todoroki.

Bakugou,” Todoroki growled, his tone a warning, because he abruptly realized Bakugou was right, he was one hundred percent exactly right and Todoroki was afraid if he didn’t move away immediately he would do something he would seriously regret.

Like grabbing Bakugou and kissing him until he forgot what it felt like to breath air.

At the sound of Todoroki’s voice, Bakugou froze, the muscles in his arms twitching slightly before he visibly forced the tension from his shoulders with a shrug. He leaned back slightly, shooting Todoroki a smirk that somehow didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Sorry. You’re the one that asked, though. I did warn you.”

And then he moved away, flopping back on the floor listlessly and rolling over to coo at Lady, who was seated across the room in a beam of sunlight and drowsily meandered over at the sound of his voice. He seemed content to pretend like nothing had happened, stroking Lady contentedly and humming quietly to himself.

Todoroki barely noticed any of this, however. He was too busy having a mild panic attack inside the confines of his own mind.

What the hell was that? And why wasn’t he upset about it, rather than left feeling disappointed it had ended?

 

 

 

Everything, once again, became different and yet stayed the same.

It had only been a week and a half since Bakugou had all but moved into his house and destroyed his carefully built routine of work, work, work, and yet somehow it also felt like it had been months or even years. Largely because, in that time, Todoroki felt like he’d realized a lot of things he’d somehow never been aware of previously or cared to even think about.

The shocking part was how many of those things were about himself rather than Bakugou.

“Why did you decide to become a hero?” Bakugou asked him one day completely out of the blue.

“Why aren’t you dating anyone?” he’d asked another.

“Where did you grow up? What was your family like?”

“Tell me about your hobbies. You do have hobbies besides saving people all the time, don’t you?”

“You need to get out more, this place is fucking boring. It’s like all you do is work. We should go on a hike or something. Do you like hiking?”

“What’s your least favorite food? And before you even say anything, no, I promise I’m not asking so I can make it for dinner.”

“What’s your favorite song? I don’t even know what kind of music I like, so just show me yours or whatever.”

And on and on and on the list went, until Todoroki felt like he suddenly knew answers about himself to questions he’d never even thought to ask.

The weirdest thing of all was how intent Bakugou was on hearing his answers. One-word answers weren’t enough for him; he demanded details, wanted to know the reasons why Todoroki thought the way he did or felt the things he felt, which was hard because Todoroki himself was often unaware of the answer to such things until he was really prompted to think about it.

It was oddly… nice, to have someone care about his answers to things both big and trivial alike. He realized only one other person had ever really listened to him this way, and that person was Izuku, his undisputed best friend. Yet something about the way Bakugou made him feel still felt different, and Todoroki couldn’t put his finger on how or why precisely; he only knew that it was.

It was around the two week mark that Todoroki finally broke down and sent Izuku a text asking for help.

[Shouto]: I don’t know how to word this but I think something is wrong with me.

[Izuku]: ??!? are you ok?? do you want me to come over? are you feeling sick??? i can grab food and medicine on my way i don’t mind at all.

[Shouto]: No, none of that. I’m just feeling weird. And I don’t understand it.

[Izuku]: ah. is this an emotional thing then?

Todoroki thought about it before he responded, scuffing his foot on the floor as he sulked against the doorway to the kitchen. Was it an emotional thing? Was that why he was struggling? He supposed that made a lot of sense, really. Emotions weren’t exactly his specialty.

[Shouto]: I think so, yes.

[Izuku]: can you describe the problem as best as you can so I can try and help?

Todoroki glanced across the room at Bakugou, who once again had his reading glasses on, a tight-fitted black tank top exposing his arms to best effect as he read through one of Todoroki’s books on the history of All Might’s hero career with fanatic zeal for the second time. He chewed on his lip as he read, leaning back on one arm, the muscles of his body taunt and relaxed all at once and so utterly captivating Todoroki could hardly—

[Shouto]: You have to keep this a secret.

[Izuku]: todoroki-kun you’re really freaking me out. of course i’ll keep anything you tell me a secret. what’s going on???

Todoroki glanced over at Bakugou’s form one last time, watching as he moved to turn a page in the book carefully, his hands looking broad and graceful as they shifted, the soft sound of paper rustling seeming to ring loudly in Todoroki’s ears.

[Shouto]: I think I’m gay.

[Izuku]: WHAT

[Izuku]: TODOROKI-KUN WHAT IS GOING ON?????

[Shouto]: Stop freaking out or you’re going to freak me out worse.

[Izuku]: YOU’RE freaking out?? you never freak out. oh my god, I’m coming over.

[Shouto]: Do NOT do that.

[Izuku]: too late I’m on my way and kirishima-kun is coming with me.

“For gods sake,” Todoroki mumbled as he moved forward into the room, dropping his phone heavily to the table and rubbing his face with his hands.

Bakugou looked over at him curiously. “Everything ok?”

“No. I mean, yes,” he amended, shaking his head in an attempt to clear it and doing little more than sending his hair falling into his face. “We, uh. Have company coming over.”

Bakugou’s eyebrows rose in silent question.

“Kirishima and Midoriya,” Todoroki answered with a sigh.

“Oh,” Bakugou said, sounding pleased. “I was hoping they’d come visit at some point. I can make all of us lunch, too, I guess. Something spicy sounds good. Hope they don’t have weak-ass taste buds. This’ll be fun.” He moved to stand up, making his way into the kitchen with a grin.

Fun wasn’t the word Todoroki would have used, but he chose to keep that to himself, his stomach thrumming with nervous energy so powerfully it made it hard for him to find the will to speak at all.

About half an hour later there was a polite series of knocks on his door, Bakugou hollering at him from the kitchen to answer it. Like he expected Todoroki not to. It was Todoroki’s apartment, dammit, why would he not get the door.

When Todoroki finally did throw it open, he was greeted by the faces of a very concerned Izuku and an extremely excited Kirishima.

“Where is he?” Kirishima asked, practically bouncing in place. “Ooooh, what smells good? Is Bakugou cooking?”

Todoroki opened the door wider, gesturing towards the kitchen wordlessly, Kirishima kicking his shoes off and darting around the corner in quick succession. The sounds of amicable conversation drifted towards the front door almost immediately, somehow setting Todoroki’s nerves alight and at rest simultaneously.

“Todoroki-kun,” Izuku said quietly, eyes heavy with affection and worry. “Are you alright?”

“I’m—good,” Todoroki replied honestly. “Really, really good. Too good, maybe, and that’s… kind of part of the problem.” He looked back in the direction of the kitchen, swallowing—a task which suddenly seemed hard to do for some reason.

Izuku’s eyes flickered into the apartment, following Todoroki’s gaze, understanding settling over his features a second later. “This is about Kacchan.”

He could try and deny it. He could pretend it had all been a joke, and that he wasn’t having some kind of existential crisis or sexual crisis or whatever this was. No, he tried to force himself to say, but instead the word came out, “Yes.”

“Oh, Todoroki-kun,” Izuku murmured, sympathy hanging off every word. Just the sound of it made Todoroki feel somewhat relieved. “Do you want to… talk about it?”

“No,” Todoroki told him flatly. He sighed, sucking in a deep breath before continuing. “But I think I probably should, or I may lose whatever is left of my sanity.”

Izuku smiled at him crookedly, patting him gently on the arm. “If you did that would just finally make you as crazy as the rest of us.”

“I suppose that much is true,” Todoroki replied, managing a small smile back as he gestured for Izuku to come inside.

They both moved to join the other two in the kitchen. When they came into the room, Todoroki was completely unprepared for the sight of Bakugou smiling at Kirishima as Kirishima recounted a story about rounding up a villain the day before, complete with overzealous gesturing and sound-effects, which seemed to amuse Bakugou rather than annoy him.

“You’re crazy strong,” Bakugou told Kirishima once he’d finished, his hands flying over the stovetop as he put the final touches on their meal. “I bet you’re a sight to see in the field.”

Kirishima blushed hard enough to match the color of his hair, his grin threatening to split his face in two, sharp teeth gleaming and white. “That’s—that’s like the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me, man. Thanks.”

“What the fuck. Am I always a dick or something?” Bakugou asked, mostly to himself. When he caught sight of Izuku and Todoroki in the doorway, he pointed a wooden spatula at Izuku with exaggerated flair.

“You,” he said, eyes narrowed.

“M-me?” Izuku squawked.

“Yeah, you. Am I always an asshole, or what?”

“Yes! I mean—I mean no, oh my god, I am so sorry, you’re not—I didn’t mean to say—”

A feeling bubbled up in Todoroki’s stomach at the panicked look on Izuku’s face, and before he knew what he was doing, he was doubled over laughing so hard his stomach hurt.

When he finally managed to get control of himself again and looked up, it was to find Bakugou gazing at him with a look that managed to be somewhere between awestruck and smug. “That was a nice laugh,” Bakugou murmured, quietly enough that Todoroki wasn’t sure anyone else noticed or heard.

“I don’t understand,” Izuku mumbled, a confused frown on his face.

Todoroki turned to look at him, the remnants of a smile still clinging to his features. “He’s messing with you, Izuku.”

“He’s what?” Kirishima asked, eyes wide.

“Teasing,” Todoroki clarified. “Bakugou’s actually quite funny, if a bit of a jerk about it sometimes.”

“You like it,” Bakugou grumbled, turning back around to switch off the stove and begin piling food onto plates for the four of them.

“Kacchan was—was teasing me?” Izuku whispered in disbelief.

Todoroki nodded emphatically as if to say, See? This is part of my problem.

Izuku, blessedly, seemed to wordlessly understand.

“Alright, let’s fuckin eat this shit before it’s cold,” Bakugou said to the room at large. “Then I wanna ask you both some questions.”

Todoroki sighed.

“Don’t you fuckin’ sigh at me,” Bakugou said without heat. “There’s just some stuff I wanna know.”

“You always want to know everything,” Todoroki replied drily, grabbing his own plate off the counter and following Bakugou into the living room.

“I like knowin’ shit. What’s it to you? You don’t even have to answer this time, they do.”

Todoroki rolled his eyes, privately resigning himself to a long evening. As much as he was anxious, he also found himself looking forward to it.

 

 

 

Several hours later, Todoroki wasn’t sure it was possible for him to be more amused than he currently was.

Bakugou had been drilling Kirishima and Izuku for information on an off ever since they’d finished their meal, asking questions about their jobs, their quirks, their time at school, how they first met Bakugou, and every other odd thing imaginable in Todoroki’s opinion. Seeing Bakugou question Izuku about his dating history was a moment Todoroki was fairly certain he’d never forget, largely because of the way Izuku all but had an actual heart attack when Bakugou asked if the two of them had ever dated—“just to be sure,” he claimed, despite that he seemed to be vaguely disappointed to find out Izuku wasn’t particularly interested in men. He asked Kirishima the same thing, to be fair, but Kirishima had found it a lot more amusing than anything else; “Man, I didn’t even know you were into guys, how in the hell would we have dated?”

Things had calmed down now, though, Bakugou watching with no small level of fascination as Kirishima demonstrated his quirk for him for no less than the fifth or sixth time now. He’d done the same to Izuku prior to this, though he claimed Izuku’s quirk was less interesting to watch than Kirishima’s—something that had very nearly made Kirishima burst into tears and sent Todoroki into another fit of stomach-splitting laughter.

“Hey,” Izuku said to Todoroki eventually, tugging on his sleeve. He hadn’t realized until that moment that he’d been staring at Bakugou with a smile on his face, and now felt a bit embarrassed about having been caught doing so, but Izuku simply gestured to the back door with a tilt of his head. “I think we should maybe talk?”

Todoroki swallowed, nodding and standing to follow him outside. Bakugou and Kirishima didn’t even seem to notice them getting up, too engrossed in discussing how best to use Kirishima’s quirk in battle.

Once the door closed behind them, Todoroki moved to lean heavily on the rail of his balcony, enjoying the feeling of the afternoon sun warming his skin. Izuku moved to stand beside him, neither of them speaking as they took in the skyline and setting sun in companionable silence.

Eventually, Izuku bumped his shoulder against Todoroki’s gently as he cleared his throat. “So, um. About your problem…”

Todoroki didn’t want to have this conversation. It felt scary, to have to talk out loud about the way he’d been feeling. But he knew he could trust Izuku with this—and trust him not to judge him for any of it, either. That was a comfort, at least.

The words still stuck heavy with nerves inside his throat, though.

“I don’t know what to do,” he finally decided on, speaking quietly.

Beside him, Izuku hummed. “What are you worried about, exactly?”

“Everything,” he said immediately, because it was true.

Izuku snorted softly. “Alright, well, while that’s highly relatable, why don’t you try and tell me at least some of the things you’re worried about with this?”

It felt impossible to even know where to start, but once Todoroki opened his mouth, words just seemed to tumble forth unbidden.

“I’m scared,” he admitted. “Scared of doing the wrong thing. Scared of how people might react. Of how he might react, if he knew. I don’t want to ruin this, Izuku. I’ve never— there hasn’t ever been anyone else.”

He hoped Izuku would understand what he was getting at. That this wasn’t just a random crush, or a desire to have a fling with someone. Todoroki had never felt this about anyone else, ever, and that made this feel extremely important—and extremely fragile, as a result.

“Do you want my honest opinion?” Izuku asked him.

Todoroki nodded, unable to look at him as he chewed on his lip in frustration, not sure he could meet anyone’s eye right now even if he wanted to.

“I don’t think you need to worry about any of that,” Izuku told him, voice quiet but strong with conviction. “No one will react badly, except maybe your father, but we both know that’s not important to you or anyone else. All of your friends will be thrilled. Half of our old classmates are dating each other now, and at least half of those are gay. No one cares, Todoroki-kun.”

Really? Todoroki hadn’t noticed—well, any of that, actually. He wasn’t exactly good at picking up on that sort of thing, though, to be fair.

“And I think Kacchan will care the least out of everyone. I’m pretty sure we’re all aware he’s, um. Interested in you, at the very least. He’d probably be thrilled. He’d have to be stupid not to be. And as much as Kacchan can be a bit of an idiot sometimes, he’s also not stupid at all.”

Todoroki snorted, smiling despite himself.

Izuku leaned against his shoulder again lightly. “You won’t do the wrong thing. You’re a good person, Todoroki-kun. You need to believe that.”

“I don’t want to hurt him,” Todoroki whispered, voice thin.

“You won’t.

“You don’t think it’s—it’s wrong?” he said, hating the way his voice cracked slightly at the end. “He can’t even remember who he used to be, Izuku. It feels like I’m taking advantage of him.”

“I really don’t think it’s taking advantage,” Izuku murmured. “He’s very clearly always felt this way about you. It’s not new, apparently.”

“That… may be true,” Todoroki admitted, voice still strained. “But what if we—we do something, anything, and then his memory returns and he—he doesn’t—”

He bit his lip harshly, unable to continue.

“You’re worried he’ll regret it,” Izuku said, eyes widening. “You’re worried he’ll change his mind.”

Todoroki swallowed.

His throat felt tight. His heart ached. He didn’t know what to do.

“Oh, Todoroki-kun,” Izuku whispered, reaching out to gently grab Todoroki’s arm, giving it a comforting squeeze. “I can only imagine how scary that must be, but you have to believe me when I say I really, really don’t think he will.”

His stare seemed to bore into Todoroki’s. It was so intense, so powerfully Izuku, that it refused to let him look away as Izuku finished saying, “And you’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t at least try.”

They went back inside shortly thereafter, Izuku and Kirishima saying their farewells amicably and promising to come back soon. Bakugou was in high spirits once they left, spending the rest of the evening playing around in the kitchen and attempting to cook them a meal that he’d seen on a cooking show that afternoon, succeeding on his very first try.

Todoroki felt strangely distanced from the whole thing. From the whole world, really.

Izuku’s words kept running themselves over and over through his head. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t at least try.

He didn’t want that to be true.

He didn’t like that he knew exactly how true it was.

 

 

 

The next morning dawned bright and early, the two of them wordlessly falling into their routine of breakfast, coffee, and then a trip to the gym. It eased something in Todoroki, to be able to cling to that sense of domestic normality.

Strange, when he thought about how surreal it was that Bakugou and domestic life was now what made him feel most at peace.

Once they’d returned to the apartment, Todoroki sat down in the living room, Lady curling up happily in his lap to snuggle and bat at his fingers—something that was a true display of genuine affection for once, considering he’d already fed her and thus had no ulterior motives.

A few minutes into their love fest, a shadow slowly crept across the table as someone wandered into the room. Todoroki looked up to find Bakugou towering over him, arms crossed, mouth set in crooked smile. The determined glint in his eye told Todoroki that Bakugou was about to start shit somehow. It left him feeling excited, rather than annoyed.

“I want to see your quirk,” Bakugou said conversationally without preamble, using the same tone one might ask what was for dinner or what the weather outside was like.

Todoroki knew better, though. “You’ve seen my quirk. I saw you watching videos online with Kirishima last night. I’m not stupid, Bakugou.”

“Yeah, but that’s just a video,” Bakugou countered, dropping down heavily beside Todoroki. He tried not to pay attention to just how close Bakugou was now sitting and failed spectacularly. “Seeing something on a screen is way different than actually witnessing it firsthand. So, I wanna see. Show me.”

Todoroki sighed. He could try and argue, but one of the things he’d discovered about Bakugou over the last couple of weeks was just how absolutely stubborn he could be when he was legitimately interested in something. Trying to dissuade him would really only be a massive waste of his own time.

Besides, it wasn’t like doing so would hurt.

“Fine,” he mumbled, turning to face Bakugou with resignation. “Watch closely, then.”

Bakugou looked immensely pleased that he’d convinced Todoroki with such ease and simply nodded in response, his sharp teeth worrying his bottom lip in a poor effort to suppress a grin.

Todoroki sighed, raising his right hand, a chunk of ice forming in his palm on a whim. He then lifted his left as well, igniting a small flame and letting it crackle for a moment before unceremoniously dropping the ice into it, steam spiraling up and away until the ice had melted and disappeared completely.

Then he let the flame go out, watching the look of awe on Bakugou’s face with no small amount of amusement. It was strangely flattering, to be looked at like that by someone he knew to be exceptionally powerful himself.

“That,” Bakugou whispered, eyes still locked on Todoroki’s hands as though worried he might miss something if he looked away. “Was so fucking cool. Holy shit.”

Todoroki snorted, a smile working its way onto his face despite himself. “Glad I could entertain you.”

“Can you do other stuff?” Bakugou asked immediately. “Like what kind of ice stuff can you make? How hot do the flames get? How far away from yourself can you make either of them go? Does it affect your body temperature at all or—”

Todoroki barked a surprised laugh. “Calm down or you’re going to give yourself another migraine, Bakugou. Here, look. Hold out your hand.”

Bakugou blinked, his mouth snapping shut with a click. He tentatively held out a hand, palm facing up.

“I think you might like this,” Todoroki murmured, holding his right hand out to let it hover just above Bakugou’s own. He took a deep breath to help himself focus, dropping his hand lower until their palms were almost but not quit touching.

When he pulled away, a small rosebud sat in Bakugou’s palm.

“Wow,” Bakugou whispered, a small flush riding across the bridge of his nose. “That’s—”

Todoroki smiled, prepared to hear something like really amazing, or maybe extremely impressive. It was a trick he’d worked on for the express purpose of showing off, should the need ever arise. It had also always seemed to please his mother when he showed it to her.

“—that’s really gay,” Bakugou finished, cradling the flower between both of his palms now, his eyes dancing as he finally looked up at Todoroki. “Are you flirting with me?”

What?” Todoroki choked, eyes widening. “I wasn’t—I was just trying to—”

Bakugou barked out a laugh, something in Todoroki’s heart aching at the genuine joy of the sound. “Yeah, sure,” Bakugou said, rolling his eyes with good humor. “Nothing gay about almost holding hands with a guy and then making him a rose out of ice. Totally fucking normal, right there.”

Ok, well, when he put it like that, Todoroki supposed it… might have been slightly gay.

Slightly.

“Whatever,” Todoroki mumbled, somewhat annoyed. “You’re the one that wanted to know what I could do. I was just trying to show you.”

He moved to stand up but abruptly froze when Bakugou reached out and grabbed him firmly by the elbow, pulling him closer.

It startled him so much that he found he couldn’t move away, couldn’t speak or even think. He was just stuck looking at Bakugou’s eyes, which seemed surprisingly… apologetic.

“Look, I’m sorry, ok?” Bakugou said, low voice and eyes serious. “I wasn’t trying to like, make you mad, or uncomfortable, or whatever. I was just teasing.”

Some of the tension slowly drained out of Todoroki’s shoulders. He knew Bakugou was only teasing. It wasn’t Bakugou’s fault that Todoroki was having some kind of sexuality crisis or awakening or whatever this was. Or, well. Maybe it was his fault, to an extent. But Todoroki also felt like he couldn’t exactly blame him for it, either.

“It’s fine,” Todoroki replied quietly, his heart racing at the feel of Bakugou’s fingers on his skin. “I’m just—overreacting, really.”

“Maybe,” Bakugou mumbled, sounding distracted. His grip on Todoroki’s arm shifted, his fingers relaxing until they were free to trace slowly down the length of Todoroki’s arm, trailing softly, hesitant and exploring.

Todoroki stopped breathing. He was terrified of moving. If he did, he wasn’t sure if it would be to push Bakugou away or ask for more.

When Bakugou’s hand finally reached the bones of his wrist, the pads of his fingers gliding over them gently, he reached out with his other palm as well, taking both of Todoroki’s hands slowly in his own.

Todoroki felt dizzy. He didn’t know what to do. So he let Bakugou do what he wanted, and didn’t pull away.

“I just wanted to see if they were different temperatures,” Bakugou whispered, swallowing thickly.

That was very, very obviously not the reason, but Todoroki chose not to say so. Instead, he hesitantly curled his fingers around Bakugou’s own, letting his quirk simmer beneath his skin so that Bakugou could feel it. When Bakugou inhaled sharply with surprise, he knew he’d succeeded.

“Yeah. They, um. Do run at different temperatures,” Todoroki said.

Bakugou nodded, his eyes looking away from Todoroki’s hands and finally settling on his face. “Yeah. Guess they do.”

They were both nearly whispering now. Something hovered in the air between them, intimate and fragile. Todoroki felt like it was more precious than anything else in the world, and he wasn’t even entirely sure what it was.

Bakugou’s eyes seemed endless, warm and open with emotion. He looked about as shaken as Todoroki felt.

Neither of them spoke. Neither of them moved.

Todoroki wondered if he should do something. He wasn’t sure what, exactly; if he should pull his hands away, if he should pull Bakugou closer, or if he should simply hold on tighter and see what Bakugou would do next.

Thankfully, the choice was made for him when a loud crash came from the direction of the kitchen, the two of them springing apart instantly.

Todoroki turned his head to see Lady standing regally on the counter –where she was definitely not allowed to be—while an empty coffee mug now sat shattered on his kitchen floor.

“Dammit,” Bakugou mumbled, not meeting Todoroki’s eyes as he gingerly moved to stand and walk into the kitchen. “That’s two broken cups in like two weeks, you damn cat. Between you and Todoroki, there aren’t gonna be any cups left in this damn apartment before long.”

Todoroki wanted to be amused but was a bit too busy trying not to feel incredibly disappointed. He no longer had the feel of Bakugou’s hands against his palms. He wanted them back. He shouldn’t have been feeling so emotionally raw from a simple touch to his hands, and yet he felt extremely vulnerable in a way he couldn’t remember ever feeling— wasn’t sure he’d ever felt before, in fact.

Bakugou seemed completely unaffected by what had happened, bending to pick up shards of ceramic before tossing them into the trash.

Todoroki knew better, though. He’d learned that Bakugou had a tendency to ramble when embarrassed or shy. In the past, before his memories had disappeared, he’d often rambled with anger; now, he had a habit of simply saying whatever came into his head, often talking to himself or the cat until he’d seemingly calmed down.

The gentle but steady sound of Bakugou murmuring quietly to Lady floated in from the other room as he moved about. Todoroki smiled slightly to himself, because he knew what that meant and he was extremely happy to know he wasn’t the only one affected by what had just happened.

He had no idea what the hell he was doing. And while that terrified him, it was also surprisingly fun for a change.

 

 

 

That night, when the two of them went to bed, something new happened.

Something new and not entirely welcome.

Todoroki snapped wide awake in the dark sometime around three or four in the morning with absolutely no idea why he’d woken in a panic. He listened, assuming something must have tipped him into wakefulness, nerves on edge as he tried to figure out just why he felt like there was an emergency.

A cry came from the direction of his bedroom. Todoroki was moving towards the source of the noise before he’d even made a conscious decision to do so, braced for a fight.

However, when he rounded the doorway he immediately realized there was no intruder. The only thing he could see in the dark was the strange sight of Bakugou thrashing around on his futon, clearly in the throes of a nightmare.

He groaned as if in pain, the sound making the strings of Todoroki’s heart twist in empathy, and before he knew it Todoroki was stumbling across the room. He dropped heavily at Bakugou’s side, raising his hands in the air only to freeze with indecision, completely out of his element and utterly unsure of how to handle this situation.

Should he try and comfort him? Wake him up? Let him ride it out and hope it would just stop?

“Don’t—don’t touch me,” Bakugou grit out, eyes still squeezed shut. “Fuck you. Not going with you.”

That made Todoroki’s breath catch in his throat. What was Bakugou dreaming of? A memory? But Bakugou had no memories to dream about, or at least he shouldn’t, not ones like this—

“No,” he gasped suddenly, whimpering. “No, let me go. I won’t—join you fucks, I’m not—”

He seized up then. Todoroki was horrified to realize tears were leaking silently from his closed eyelids.

He knew, with some kind of gut instinct, that Bakugou was dreaming of the time he’d been kidnapped their first year. Guilt swelled hot and heavy in Todoroki’s chest, apologies that he’d never had the chance to say sitting like poison in his throat. In all these years, he’d never known Bakugou had been affected by it hard enough to have nightmares about the incident, but of course he would have been—many of them had nightmares of that summer camp and what had followed, Todoroki included.

And all that time, Bakugou had been suffering in silence. Todoroki hadn’t even known. He wondered if anyone had.

All Might,” Bakugou choked out abruptly, hands reaching out to grasp something only he could see, his voice raw and one second away from breaking apart at the seams.

On pure instinct, Todoroki reached out and took his hands in his own, squeezing gently. “Bakugou. Bakugou, it’s alright. You’re ok. It’s just a dream.”

Bakugou moved his head back and forth across the pillow, hands trying and failing to pry themselves from Todoroki’s grasp.

“Shhhh,” Todoroki tried again, rubbing his thumbs along Bakugou’s knuckles in what he hoped was a soothing motion. He let his left hand become slightly warmer than was normal, doing the same with cold on his left and hoping the strangeness of the feeling might help bring Bakugou out of it. “You’re alright. You’re safe. No one—”

Todoroki’s voice cracked, emotion he wasn’t even aware he possessed pouring out of him as he finished with conviction, “No one is going to take you away. I won’t let them.”

Bakugou’s eyes shot open as if he’d been shocked into consciousness, inhaling a sharp breath as he looked around with unseeing eyes. His gaze finally settled on Todoroki’s own, tear streaks gleaming faintly in the light that filtered in through the window. “Todoroki?” he croaked, sounding confused.

“Yes, Bakugou,” Todoroki assured him. “It’s me. I’m here.”

“What happened?” Bakugou asked, his hands squeezing Todoroki’s back with a grip so tight it almost hurt. “Where am I?”

“In my room,” Todoroki told him, wondering suddenly if his memory had returned, given what he’d been dreaming about. The thought alone made him feel slightly sick. “Do you remember how you got here?” he asked cautiously.

Bakugou shot him an odd look, blinking away the remnants of tears. “Obviously, dumbass. We ate dinner, watched the hero news network for a few minutes, and then went to bed. I came in here myself.”

He paused, swallowing thickly. Emotion shone in his eyes despite the darkness. It took Todoroki a moment to recognize it as fear. “I don’t know why I feel terrified, though,” he admitted quietly.

“You were dreaming,” Todoroki answered. He tried not to think about the way he was still rubbing his thumbs across Bakugou’s hands in a soothing motion. “Do you remember what about?”

Slowly, Bakugou shook his head, a frown forming on his face as he concentrated, clearly trying to recall. “No.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing,” Bakugou told him. “I just—know it was a nightmare. And now I feel—fuck.”

“What?” Todoroki asked, trying to keep him talking. Talking always seemed to help when it came to nightmares. He knew because Izuku had done it for him on more than one occasion, truth be told. “What do you feel?”

“It sounds stupid because I don’t know why I’d fucking think this,” Bakugou hissed quietly, sounding frustrated with himself. “But I feel like someone’s about to run in here and… I don’t know. Kidnap me, or something.”

Todoroki wasn’t familiar with heartbreak, but right then, he thought he might have an inkling as to what it felt like.

“I’m sorry,” Todoroki told him in a whisper, wishing Bakugou remembered everything so he could apologize for more than just the dream. He wanted to apologize for the memory attached to it, and for the fact that he’d had to go through it in the first place. Part of him had always felt like that incident had somehow been his fault. A large part of him now felt even more directly responsible. “What can I do to help?” he asked instead, willing to do something –anything—to try and make it up to him, even if Bakugou wasn’t fully aware of why just yet.

“Can you sleep with me?” Bakugou whispered. “Not like—in a gay way, just. Bring your futon in here or something. I don’t want to be alone right now.”

Somehow, Bakugou’s need to assure Todoroki he wasn’t trying to take advantage of him managed to make Todoroki crack a small smile. “I think that’s fair,” he agreed, letting go of Bakugou’s hands slowly as he stood. “Let me grab my stuff, then. I’ll be right back.”

He all but ran into the other room and hastily gathered up his sleeping things, somehow nervous about leaving Bakugou alone for too long. He settled his futon down directly next to Bakugou’s, despite that there was plenty of space in the room for them both. He felt like space wasn’t something Bakugou wanted right now.

Frankly, space wasn’t something Todoroki wanted at that moment, either, for reasons he couldn’t fully identify.

As soon as he laid down, he turned to face Bakugou, who was looking determinedly up at the ceiling, a grimace twisting his expression.

Todoroki could see the tear tracks on his face even in the dark. They didn’t look dry. He wondered if Bakugou had been crying again while he’d been in the other room, his heart giving a lurch at the thought.

“Are you alright?” he asked quietly.

Bakugou sniffled, chewing on his bottom lip a bit too aggressively for a moment before responding. “I don’t like this feeling.”

“What feeling?” Todoroki asked calmly. Something about the fact that they were both lying here together in the dark made things feel more… intimate. Safe. Like it might be ok to share things that would otherwise be considered secrets.

He wondered if Bakugou felt it, too.

Bakugou breathed in a deep sigh, mulling his thoughts over, seeming t choose his words carefully. He eventually seemed to give up, his own body slumping slightly as he quietly said, “Weakness.”

Without thinking, Todoroki reached out and took Bakugou’s hand with one of his own. Bakugou startled briefly, looking over at him in surprise.

“You’re not weak, Bakugou,” Todoroki told him firmly.

Bakugou looked like he wanted to believe him, eyes wide with something akin to but not quite hope, but his determination to argue seemed to win out. His hand shook slightly in Todoroki’s grip, seeming more delicate than someone with hands as powerful as Bakugou’s should ever have to feel. “I’m crying over a nightmare I can’t even remember,” he hissed, sounding annoyed with himself.

“Listen,” Todoroki told him, squeezing his hand a little harder to pull his attention back from whatever self-loathing spiral it seemed to be falling into. “I’m not going to tell you what those dreams were about, but I will tell you that you’ve been through some very rough things. It’s part of being a hero, regrettably. You are well within your right to have nightmares and be a little fucked up by them. We all are.”

Bakugou seemed a bit shocked by the bluntness of Todoroki’s words, but the meaning behind them seemed to catch up to him more slowly. “Wait. You have them, too?”

“I do,” Todoroki told him honestly, swallowing down his own sense of shame.

“And you also cry to yourself at night sometimes like a fucking baby?”

Todoroki snorted, a huff of laughter bursting from his chest. “And I also cry to myself sometimes at night like a baby, yes.”

He couldn’t be sure if it was his words or the lightheartedness with which he said them, but Bakugou managed to smile at him, even if only a little. He rolled onto his side to face Todoroki better, his fingers wrapping around Todoroki’s hand and holding back tentatively, as though afraid Todoroki might pull away if he weren’t careful.

“Thanks,” Bakugou mumbled, looking at Todoroki intently before glancing away. “I’m glad you’re here.”

For the first time in his life, Todoroki found he was glad he was there with Bakugou, too. “No problem,” was all he could manage to say, though.

Bakugou’s hand was still shaking. It took Todoroki a moment to realize he wasn’t meeting his eye because he was likely still fighting off the surge of emotions running through him.

“Hey,” Todoroki all but whispered. “If you need to let it out, go ahead and let it out. Even if you can’t remember why you’re crying, the feeling is still going to be there until you do something about it. I’m not going to judge you for crying. My best friend is Midoriya, and he cries all the time,” he finished wryly. He rubbed his thumb across the bone of Bakugou’s wrist softly. “I’m also not going to leave you alone.”

The light of the window caught and held in Bakugou’s eyes as he looked at Todoroki in surprise briefly before his expression abruptly crumbled, his eyes squeezing shut as he pressed his forehead against their clasped hands. Todoroki murmured to him quietly as he watched his shoulders move in the dark, wracked with silent sobs, his fingers running back and forth over Bakugou’s knuckles as he finally let himself go.

Todoroki had no idea how long it was before Bakugou’s shoulders eventually stopped shaking, his breathing slowly evening out. It wasn’t long after that it finally slipped into the rhythm of peaceful sleep once more. Eventually, Todoroki closed his own eyes as well, his heart feeling like it was far too full. Emotions, the like of which he’d never felt before, seemed like they were swelling inside him and attempting to break him apart—but it didn’t hurt so much as it felt good, and that was maybe the most disconcerting thing of all.

Yet despite that, and despite the thoughts of Bakugou that raced through his mind, Bakugou’s quiet breathing slowly dragged him into the depths of his own dreams, his warm presence lulling Todoroki to sleep in a way he’d never imagined it could.

He never let go of Bakugou’s hand.

 

 

 

It became a new part of their routine.

They didn’t talk about it much, despite that they’d both acknowledged it more than once in passing, but it felt like something that was too taboo to speak about until nighttime fell around them, the two of them getting ready for bed before rolling out their futons side by side in silence and settling in for sleep.

Three nights in a row, Bakugou had nightmares. And three nights in a row, Todoroki woke him up and helped comfort him quietly before the two of them fell back asleep, hand in hand.

Despite that Bakugou never remembered his dreams when he woke up, Todoroki knew that the frequency with which he was having dreams related to his memories had to be a sign that they were close to returning in full.

He also found himself terrified of their return.

What if Bakugou hated him for the things he’d said and done while his memories had been compromised? What if he never spoke to Todoroki again once they finally returned, too embarrassed or perhaps too angry to even look at him anymore?

What if Todoroki lost his only chance to do something about the feelings that now felt like a constant storm that had taken up residence in his chest?

Every hour that passed suddenly felt precious and fragile, like watching grains of sand slip through a timer but having no idea exactly when they’d run out.

And so it went, night after night and day after day, his anxiety increasing as his feelings only seemed to grow in their intensity with every passing interaction they shared, every quiet moment of domesticity between them feeling more and more like home than anything else Todoroki had never known.

Around the three-week mark, in the middle of the night, things finally seemed to reach their breaking point.

He woke to find Bakugou was already awake for once, gazing at him in the darkness—the feeling of being stared at likely what had pulled Todoroki from his own dreams, though his mind was still hazy and disoriented with the remnants of them. Bakugou was close, almost on the edge of Todoroki’s pillow, which wasn’t entirely unusual given that Bakugou tended to move around a lot in his sleep even when he wasn’t having bad dreams.

“What’s wrong?” Todoroki asked groggily, voice rough with sleep. He reached out toward Bakugou purely out of habit, taking his hand lightly has he yawned. “Did you have another nightmare?”

Bakugou looked down at their linked hands, sliding his palm along Todoroki’s in a slow caress. Awareness broke through Todoroki’s sleep-fogged mind at the way the touch left his skin tingling as though warmth had been brought to life beneath it. Something was off but—but not bad. The feel of their hands touching was completely different from what they’d been doing the last several nights, something about the slow slide of skin on skin thrilling and electric, the hairs on Todoroki’s neck standing on end as he sucked in a sharp breath when Bakugou made the motion again, and again.

“No,” Bakugou told him quietly in answer to the question Todoroki had almost forgot he’d even asked, eyes like molten fire in the darkness. He licked his lips, pink tongue swiping out like he was trying to capture the remains of something delicious he’d tasted, his stare pinning Todoroki in place thoroughly enough that he may as well have been tied down to the bed. “I had a good dream this time,” he went on, voice low.

“What did you dream about?” Todoroki whispered, feeling like something inevitable was building in the air between them.

Probably because it had been for the last three weeks now. Probably because it had been for the last three years, if Todoroki was really being honest with himself.

Bakugou leaned forward slightly, eyes gleaming and unreadable and everything Todoroki had never known he wanted to see. His gaze was like the glowing embers of a fire, bright with a sort of comforting smoulder and lined with a promising intent to consume and burn if given half the chance.

Todoroki was abruptly willing to beg for that chance if that was what it took to know what it might feel like to have Bakugou’s hands all over his skin.

“I dreamed of you,” Bakugou murmured, leaning in until there was no space between them at all.

And then Bakugou Katsuki was kissing him, and Todoroki never wanted him to stop.

He’d wondered before what it might feel like to kiss Bakugou. He’d tried and failed not to think about it for the last few weeks, in fact, the idea of it growing stronger in his mind with each passing day. He’d wondered if there’d be something playful to a kiss they might share, or perhaps a gentle sort of exploration—maybe even a sort of curiosity-driven determination, the kind that seemed to cling to Bakugou in everything Todoroki had seen him do.

Nothing could have prepared him for the way Bakugou kissed him like he wanted to taste Todoroki’s lips with his dying breath.

Bakugou moved up and over him, dropping Todoroki’s hand only to reach forward and cradle the side of his face with his palm, tilting his head slightly as he pressed their lips together, the angle somehow deepening their kiss till it was almost dizzying. Bakugou’s kisses reminded Todoroki strangely of the ocean in a storm, unrelenting, moving back only to dive in again and again, the heat between them increasing with each passing press of their mouths.

“Bakugou,” Todoroki tried to say, because some part of him realized this was probably not a good idea, that he should maybe say something—warn him to be cautious, to not get carried away and do something he might regret.

But the second he opened his mouth to speak it was like he’d sprung a trap, Bakugou silencing him with an open-mouthed kiss and licking hotly into Todoroki’s mouth as though he’d been waiting to do so all along, his hand sliding from the side of Todoroki’s face to the back of his head to fist lightly in his hair.

Someone moaned long and loud. It took Todoroki a moment to realize the noise had come from him, his head feeling dazed and hazy with a combination of sleep and desire.

He surged up into Bakugou, arms wrapping around him firmly as his head swam with the feeling of their tongues gliding hot and wet along one another, half convinced he was caught in some kind of fever dream because nothing –nothing— had ever felt this good in his life.

Despite that, despite wanting nothing more than to fall into Bakugou’s embrace and never come up for air, the guilt sitting heavily in Todoroki’s stomach wouldn’t let him be silent. Bakugou’s lips suddenly broke from his mouth, licking and nipping along Todoroki’s jaw before moving further down the line of his throat. He felt like he wasn’t being seduced so much as devoured, absorbed and consumed whole, as though Bakugou were trying to memorize everything about him by touch and taste alone. Every hot press of his mouth, every drag of his lips, every graze of his tongue across Todoroki’s skin left him feeling not just cherished but nearly worshiped, the affection behind each gesture leaving Todoroki shaking beneath him in its wake.

But Bakugou moving from his mouth also meant he finally had a chance to talk, and as much as he didn’t want to do anything to stop this, ever, he also knew he had to.

“Bakugou,” he tried again, to absolutely no effect. “Bakugou, stop. We can’t— we can’t do this, not while your memories are—”

Bakugou reared up, the hand that was tangled in Todoroki’s hair sliding back to his jaw to grab it firmly, holding him in place and effectively cutting him off.

“Todoroki,” he growled, voice low. His eyes seemed dark, endless and swimming with a torrid of unnamed emotions. “For once, in your entire goddamn life, stop trying to think and just feel.

It was like someone had pulled the pin on the grenade of Todoroki’s self-control, something in him bursting, the feeling of it shattering like shrapnel racing through his veins and knocking the breath from his lungs.

He surged up, pressing against Bakugou and grinding his hips against Bakugou’s own before neatly rolling them over, pinning Bakugou beneath him as he kissed him for all he was worth.

He stopped thinking. Entirely. In the haze of his brain, the only thought he did seem to be able to keep hold of was that he needed to make the most of the opportunity he’d been given, and to him that meant pressing his affection for the man pinned beneath him into every inch of skin he could reach, determined to let him know he cared, through touch alone if necessary; to show him that his feelings were more than just some passing whim and not born out of simple desire, even if Bakugou thought of this moment later with nothing but regret.

Todoroki didn’t care if he laid himself bare only to be rejected. He just needed Bakugou to know the truth. If there was one thing he’d learned in his life, it was that he regretted the things he hadn’t done or said far more than the things that he had.

Bakugou gasped, writhing beneath him, Todoroki tracing his neck with his tongue, mapping out each dip and curve of hardened muscle, nipping the crook of his shoulder, tasting his collar bones. He pulled Bakugou up briefly, instinct driving him more than anything else as he fisted Bakugou’s shirt in his left hand. He reached inside himself for the fire that always burned there, pushing out hard, the garment in his grasp catching flame and burning away completely with such precise intensity that it seemed to be there one second and then was gone the next in little more than a flash and a cloud of smoke.

Todoroki knew it was hot enough to sting but not hot enough to harm, the burst of flame too quick to do any lasting damage. He’d done it to himself on accident once or twice, which was apparently enough experience to give him the confidence to do it again now and not even bat an eye. When it had disappeared, he simply shoved Bakugou back down against the bed and crawling over him once more to pick up where he’d left off as though nothing had happened.

“Holy fuck,” Bakugou whispered, eyes wide with shock and something else—something Todoroki was beginning to identify as arousal. “That’s—that’s really fucking hot, what the fuck.”

“Yeah?” Todoroki asked breathlessly, feeling drunk off the idea that he’d done something that had apparently turned Bakugou on rather than scared him off, and he’d accomplished it without even having to think about it. “You have a thing for power or something?”

Bakugou swallowed, his throat bobbing in the dark. Todoroki leaned down to press his lips against it gingerly, letting the touch linger as he spoke against his skin. “Do you like feeling like you’re not the one in control?”

A colorful litany of swears followed this pronouncement, Bakugou grinding up and into him almost mindlessly. “Yeah. Fuck, yeah,” he gasped.

The knowledge felt like someone had set a torch to Todoroki’s blood, fire simmering beneath his skin, consuming him.

“Good,” Todoroki told him, realizing he enjoyed having that kind of power over Bakugou—Bakugou, who was always so strong and so proud of doing his best to assert that he was the one in control. “Just relax, then. I’m going to take care of you.”

“Take care of—what do you mean?” Bakugou rasped.

“You,” Todoroki told him, looking up at him again and taking a moment to fully absorb the sight before him.

Bakugou was sprawled across the futon like something out of Todoroki’s wildest fantasies, hair mussed from sleep, eyes sharp but somehow hazy in the darkness. His skin was pale, but his hair was even more-so, the color gleaming in the light of the moon as it filtered in through the window, turning it nearly translucent.

He looked ethereal. He looked amazing.

And yet, somehow, he looked exactly like Bakugou always had.

He also looked like everything Todoroki had never realized he wanted.

“I want to take care of you,” Todoroki told him in a whisper, the strength of his emotions making him feel unusually honest. He refused to look away from Bakugou’s eyes, despite that he felt vulnerable admitting—well, any of the mess that was his feelings currently. He wanted Bakugou to know he was sincere. He wanted Bakugou to know he was allowing himself to be vulnerable to him like this. “I want to know what feels good to you. I want to make you feel good.”

Bakugou’s mouth dropped open, his eyes widening even further.

“I’ll do anything,” Todoroki told him in a rush, wishing he didn’t sound quite so desperate to please, and yet unable to stop himself. “Whatever it takes to make you feel sated and cared for and safe.”

Fuck,” Bakugou swore, biting his own lip hard enough that Todoroki could see the indentations his teeth left behind. “Fuck me. Please.”

He wasn’t sure what he’d expected Bakugou to say, but that certainly hadn’t been it, his hands pausing in their glide across Bakugou’s stomach—an action he hadn’t even been conscious of until he found himself stopping.

“What?” he asked, because somehow he couldn’t believe it. The words just didn’t compute.

Bakugou must have just been swearing. There was just no way he’d ask Todoroki to—to do that, and to him, rather than the other way around. Not Bakugou Katsuki, with all his insurmountable pride.

But when Bakugou wrapped a hand around the back of Todoroki’s neck, pulling him closer and looking him dead in the eye, Todoroki was suddenly reminded of the fact that he’d never really known Bakugou at all. Not realy.

Not until now.

“I said, fuck me,” Bakugou whispered. The words weren’t harsh or threatening the way most of Bakugou’s demands had always been. This wasn’t a demand so much as a plea, something desperate in the way he spoke, in the look in his eye. “I need it. Please, Shouto. I need it.”

Todoroki was dying. Or he was already dead, one of the two. There was no other explanation for what was happening to him at this moment except that he’d somehow entered heaven without his even knowing.

But if this was what his idea of heaven looked like, he wasn’t nearly stupid enough to turn it down.

He sealed his open mouth over Bakugou’s once more, reaching between them to grasp at Bakugou’s hip with one hand and leaning to hover over him.

He’d never had sex before—had never really been interested in anyone in particular. That didn’t mean he hadn’t thought about it at great length on more than one occasion, though. He might not have given thought to a relationship, but sex? Well, Todoroki was a teenage boy, after all.

He dipped his thumb into the curve of Bakugou’s hip, loving the feel of muscles clenched tight with anticipation beneath him. Without breaking their kiss, he shifted his hold just enough to press Bakugou down into the mattress, rolling his hips up and into him with obvious, deliberate intent.

Bakugou gasped sharply before groaning into his mouth, Todoroki swallowing the sound and feeling unrepentantly greedy for more. Calloused hands tangled in his hair, tugging gently and guiding his mouth into a dance that felt like breathing, drowning, and dying somehow wrapped up all into one beautiful package, Todoroki falling into a rhythm with the movement of his hips, shifting his hand to feel Bakugou’s abs as they clenched and undulated beneath his palm in kind.

Bakugou’s hands abruptly dropped from his hair to grasp the collar of Todoroki’s shirt, giving it a sharp upwards tug, a rumble of a growl vibrating through their kiss and making Todoroki’s hair stand on end. He got the message, breaking the kiss just long enough to tear the fabric over his head before diving back in, hungry for more, feeling half starved for a meal he couldn’t even begin to imagine.

He moved his hand lower, tracing Bakugou’s torso lovingly with the pads of his fingers, Bakugou giving a pleased sort of hum in response. It seemed stupid to ask for permission to reach below the waist of someone who had just asked him very explicitly to have sex with him, and yet Todoroki broke their kiss to give Bakugou the opportunity anyway, just in case.

It also gave him a perfectly valid excuse to watch the look on Bakugou’s face as he traced his hand over the bulge resting heavily along Bakugou’s thigh, but no one else had to know that, he figured.

“Fuck,” Bakugou hissed, moving restlessly towards Todoroki’s exploring fingers. “Come on. Don’t tease me.”

Todoroki hummed, watching the flush riding high on Bakugou’s face, the way his lips were slightly parted, eyebrows drawn down with frustrated anticipation. “Impatient?” he asked, amusement leaking into his tone as he simultaneously rubbed firmly along the length of Bakugou’s hardened cock through his pajamas.

“You have—” Bakugou started, breaking off on a long and loud moan, Todoroki’s own cock twitching with interest at the sound. Bakugou blinked up at him, intense eyes half-lidded and nearly black with desire. “You have no idea.”

Arousal coiled hot and low in Todoroki’s abdomen, the sheer magnitude of it leaving him breathless.

“No,” Todoroki whispered. “Maybe not. But I think I can relate.”

He watched Bakugou’s eyes widen at the admission but was suddenly too impatient to wait any longer, sliding his fingers under the elastic of Bakugou’s pants only to find he wasn’t wearing anything underneath.

God, that shouldn’t have been so hot, and yet it was. He wondered if Bakugou had slept like this every night they’d laid next to one another. Maybe it was something he did regularly for the sheer comfort of it.

He wondered if he’d have a chance to find out, and then promptly turned that part of his brain off.

He could worry about that later. He didn’t want to waste this moment on fear of the future.

Bakugou groaned, bucking his hips up slightly to encourage Todoroki and letting out a sound that was nearly a sob when Todoroki finally wrapped his long fingers around him. It was odd, touching someone else like this, and a part of him worried about whether he’d do it in a way that pleased Bakugou as much as it usually pleased himself.

Given the sounds Bakugou was making, however, he didn’t worry about it for very long.

“You feel so good,” Todoroki said, face tucked into the side of Bakugou’s neck as he pressed barely-there kisses against his skin. Sex seemed to make him more talkative and honest, words falling from his mouth without a conscious decision to speak them. “I love the way you sound.”

Chirst,” Bakugou hissed, fucking up and into Todoroki’s palm harder at the words, his cock pulsing in Todoroki’s grip. “You can’t just—say shit like that, or I’ll—”

Todoroki dragged his mouth upward, grazing the shell of Bakugou’s ear with his teeth. “Or you’ll what? Come?”

He grinned slightly when Bakugou swore in response, dropping his hand from around Bakugou’s cock to press him back down fully against the bed. “Well, I guess we can’t have that. I’m not done with you yet, after all.”

When Todoroki pulled away to look down at him, Bakugou was staring up at him with an expression somewhere between bewildered and awestruck. His flush had traveled clear down his neck and covered half of his chest at this point, the sight endearing and arousing in turns, Todoroki thumbing one of his nipples distractedly and relishing the shiver it provoked as he did his best to memorize everything he possibly could.

“You’re—you’re fucking unreal,” Bakugou whispered, sounding amazed. “I mean, I always knew you were hot, but I never imagined you were—”

He seemed speechless. Todoroki’s heart thundered at the unspoken praise, the fact that he could do this to Bakugou feeling a lot like winning an award he hadn’t even known he was in the running for but was now immensely proud of. He wondered if Bakugou would have been just as amazed if he remembered who Todoroki had been to him before, or if it would have changed anything at all.

He was suddenly, intensely filled with the need to make sure Bakugou was incapable of forgetting this moment—of ever forgetting what they were sharing between them right now.

“Don’t move,” he told him, voice low as he sat up, leaning over to rummage through his nearby dresser for—ah, yes, there it was.

He tossed a bottle of lube towards Bakugou, yet another stab of arousal zinging through him when Bakugou caught it easily on instinct, face flushing dark with embarrassment and maybe a hint of nerves as he realized what it was.

“Have you, like, done this before?” Bakugou asked, still sounding a bit winded. “Because I haven’t, so I’m—”

“That you remember,” Todoroki broke in, smiling at him slightly. “For all you know, you’ve done it plenty.”

“I mean, yeah,” Bakugou backtracked, running a hand through his hair as he stretched back along the futon once again, eyes towards the ceiling. “Obviously. I’m just saying it definitely feels like I haven’t done this before at the moment, or whatever.”

Todoroki crawled back over to him, curling over his prone form and resting his head in the crook of Bakugou’s neck, kissing him sweetly on the underside of his jaw. “I haven’t done this before, either.”

“You… haven’t,” Bakugou replied, sounding very, very skeptical of this answer.

Todoroki snorted, rolling his eyes even though Bakugou couldn’t see him do so. “I’m pretty sure I’d know better than you, so trust me when I say this is new and uncharted territory for me.”

“How,” Bakugou said flatly. “That sounds fucking impossible. You’re way too good at this to never have done it before.”

The praise made him feel warm, his heart fluttering. He nuzzled his nose against the curve of Bakugou’s ear, breathing in deep and sighing as his sharp, smoky scent filled his lungs. He hadn’t realized how familiar and soothing Bakugou had become to his nerves, and yet he felt calmed almost instantly. “I’ve never done anything with anyone. I never even liked anyone before—”

He swallowed, wondering if the admission would be too much but deciding to listen to Bakugou and try not to over think it as he finished, “— before you.”

He felt more than heard Bakugou’s breath catch, the hand not holding the bottle coming up to stroke along Todoroki’s side, Bakugou tilting his head and pressing a barely-there kiss to Todoroki’s temple in a wordless display of affection that felt like it said so much it almost hurt, the gesture something like a promise.

Todoroki didn’t know what that meant. He only knew it filled him with a kind of longing for something he’d never experienced before.

He pulled back slowly to look Bakugou in the eye again, Bakuogu’s expression filled with so many emotions Todoroki didn’t even know where to begin trying to parse and name them. He’d never seen Bakugou look like that—not before his memories were gone, and not in the weeks that had since followed.

“I love the way you look at me,” Todoroki whispered truthfully, his heart feeling too full.

Bakugou made a small noise in the back of his throat that sounded half-broken before he suddenly surged upward, wrapping his arms around Todoroki and kissing him as though he were trying to reach in and touch Todoroki’s very soul.

They fell back into a rhythm once again, the passion from before rising around them but now intertwined with something else, something more that Todoroki didn’t have a name for. It felt consuming and comforting, vast and endless and yet fragile all the same.

I could do this forever, Todoroki thought as Bakugou’s hands roamed the expanse of his back warmly.

I could gladly live in this moment for the rest of my life, he realized as Bakugou bit down gently on his bottom lip, a moan escaping him at the feeling.

What if I could be woken up to this every night? he wondered, mind reeling as he rocked their hips together slowly.

What if I could wake up to him every morning?

Tears abruptly stung the corners of his eyes as he realized that was exactly what he wanted, and the thought that it could be taken away from him at any given moment was startlingly, gut-wrenchingly painful.

He suddenly couldn’t decide if he wanted to take all the time in the world or do this as fast as possible. Luckily, Bakugou seemed to make the decision for him.

“Have you ever—” Bakugou started, breaking off mid-sentence. “Goddammit, why is this so embarrassing. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. Fuck.”

Todoroki pulled away from him just far enough to look him in the face, only to find Bakugou glaring at the ceiling, beet-red.

“Look. You said you haven’t had sex, so I’m just trying to figure out if you’re familiar with how this works. Have you ever—” he bit his lip briefly, looking anywhere but at Todoroki. “—put anything in yourself?”

Oh.

“Are you asking me if I’ve ever touched myself?” Todoroki asked, desire making him feel bold. “Fingered myself open?”

Bakugou sucked in a sharp breath, eyes darting back to Todoroki’s face. He swallowed audibly, licking his lips as he slowly nodded.

“Yes,” Todoroki said honestly. “I’ve explored that part of my body more than once, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Now that he thought about it, the fact that he was seemingly gay probably should have been more obvious to him, given the truth of that statement.

“I know what to do to make sure you won’t be hurt,” Todoroki promised him quietly. “And I fully intend to take my time.”

Ah. Hunger, Todoroki realized silently. That was the look in Bakugou’s eyes.

He reached over to gently pry the bottle of lube from Bakugou’s hand, kissing him softly as he did so in yet another unspoken promise to be gentle. And then he was making his way slowly down the length of Bakugou’s body, kissing and touching as he moved further down the bed, pausing to linger in places that seemed to have Bakugou squirming restlessly beneath him. When he again reached the hem of his pants he looked up in silent inquiry, Bakugou lifting his hips to allow Todoroki to slide the remainder of his clothing down his legs in reply. Todoroki pulled them off with his heart in his throat, eyes raking over each inch of skin that was revealed and carelessly tossing the garment aside as an afterthought.

Todoroki had seen Bakugou naked any number of times over the three years they’d attended UA. Realistically speaking, the sight of him naked now should be nothing new. And it was familiar in a way that told Todoroki he’d probably looked and memorized a lot more than was probably normal for two boys sharing a locker room, yet despite that Todoroki couldn’t stop drinking in the sight before him because it also felt wholly new to be allowed to look. He allowed himself to take in the sweep of hair that trailed from Bakugou’s naval down to his groin, the shape of his hips that jutted in sharp lines, the toned and thick muscles of his thighs—the bright flush of his cock, where it lay hard and heavy against his abdomen.

“You’re beautiful,” he said in awe, reaching out to run his hand along Bakugou’s inner thigh because he couldn’t not touch him at this point, desperate to feel his skin in a way he’d never longed for human contact before.

Bakugou, surprisingly, didn’t preen at the praise. Instead his eyes went soft, tension seeming to drain out of him as he sagged further into the futon. “I’d say the same about you, but. Well.” He gestured to Todoroki’s clothing pointedly, his teeth glinting briefly in the dark.

With a smile, Todoroki pushed himself up, managing to wiggle out of his pajama bottoms and boxer briefs all in one go. Once he’d tossed his clothing to the floor, it occurred to him that maybe he should have stripped a little more… sexily, or something of that nature. He wasn’t very experienced with seduction –at all, in fact— so it hadn’t crossed his mind until the moment had already passed.

But when he looked up to find Bakugou gazing at him like he wanted to eat Todoroki alive, he decided that maybe it didn’t really matter after all.

He’d never been particularly self-conscious about his body. People seemed to like it alright, if the sheer number of fans he seemed to have was any indication. But no one had ever seen him like this before, not under these circumstances, and it left him feeling more nervous than usual.

He’d been naked in front of others. Nothing had left him feeling quite this vulnerable, though.

Bakugou’s eyes traced him with such intensity that it almost felt physical, like a brush on his skin that somehow sank into his veins, aching in the best possible way.

“I can’t believe this is actually happening,” Bakugou mumbled, sounding awed, his fingers tracing along Todoroki’s chest in wonder.

Todoroki’s skin flushed under his touch, his cheeks heating at Bakugou’s words. He could relate to that feeling. A lot, in fact.

Instead of saying so, he moved to duck his head back down between Bakugou’s legs, rubbing is face softly against the inside of his thigh simply because he could, already addicted to the softness of it. He heard Bakugou sigh at the touch, felt him relax even further as he began to kiss his way slowly higher, each movement seeming to wind him up and melt him down beneath the onslaught of his affections at the same time.

The scent of arousal was strong, heady and somehow wholly different when it came from someone other than himself. The sight of Bakugou’s cock mere inches from his face was even more powerful, something hot and possessive deep in his heart twisting and lunging to stake it’s claim.

He didn’t deserve to claim this. Not really.

That wasn’t about to stop him from taking absolutely everything Bakugou was willing to give him regardless.

He leaned forward, licking him slowly from base to tip, Bakugou crying out, hands fisting in the sheets on either side of his hips as Todoroki continued to explore with his tongue.

“S-Shouto,” Bakugou panted, his hips rising slightly off the futon every time Todoroki came into contact with his cock. “Goddammit, this is torture. Please, can you just—”

Please rang in Todoroki’s head on repeat, his own cock pulsing at hearing Bakugou, of all people, begging for anything— let alone this.

Without waiting any further, he carefully stretched his lips over the head, taking his time to sink down as far as he was able—which was surprisingly farther than he’d expected.

Fuck,” Bakugou hissed out, his hands abruptly raising to touch Todoroki’s head, though he didn’t seem to know what to do with them once he’d put them there. “Jesus christ Todoroki, you feel so good.”

A spike of pleasure tingled through Todoroki, making him hum slightly as he moved to take him down again, able to go even deeper this time as he got used to the feeling, his own saliva now coating Bakugou’s length and helping him glide even lower.

Bakugou threw his head back, his hands abruptly fisting in his own hair as he arched his spine, moaning long and low as he seemed to shake with the effort of not thrusting into the wet heat of Todoroki’s mouth. It was without a doubt the most erotic thing Todoroki had ever seen or heard, his own cock throbbing in response, desperation surging through him.

Todoroki pulled off abruptly, Bakugou whining in frustration at the loss of contact. Todoroki angled his head just enough to turn and look him in the eyes, his white and red locks falling into his face and somewhat obscuring his view.

“Touch me,” Todoroki rasped, voice scratchy from abuse.

Bakugou gazed down at him with wide, half-crazed eyes. “What?”

Without breaking eye-contact, Todoroki licked up the side of Bakugou’s cock, swirling his tongue over the head before pressing a kiss against it. “I want your hands in my hair,” he demanded, voice low.

Bakugou’s cock pulsed against his lips, his quiet swearing filling the room. “If you don’t knock that shit off right goddamn now I am going to come, I swear to fuck, it’s too hot and I can’t deal,” Bakugou threatened, as if this would somehow deter Todoroki even slightly.

He smirked up at him, fondness leaking into his tone as he spoke. “No one said you couldn’t come more than once, you know.”

Bakugou’s eyes widened until they looked like they were in danger of falling right out of his skull. “I might actually fucking die.”

Todoroki snorted, smiling up at him genuinely before opening his mouth again to swallow him down once more without further ado.

Bakugou’s hands were on his head instantly. Todoroki had half-expected him to pull his hair (which he wouldn’t have minded at all, he realized distracted) but instead Bakugou kept running his fingers through the soft strands, his nails dragging along Todoroki’s scalp deliciously as he lost himself more and more beneath Todoroki’s eager mouth.

When he felt like he’d sufficiently reduced Bakugou into a writhing mess, he pulled off to grab the bottle of lube once more, popping the cap open, the sound shockingly loud in the quiet of night around them. He felt Bakugou tense up slightly as he sat up to pour a generous amount on his fingers before setting the bottle down nearby.

He sought out Bakugou’s eyes in the dark, and when he found no signs of him having changed his mind, he gently pushed Bakugou’s knees up to expose him further. Bakugou’s flush deepened in embarrassment, but he made no move to stop him or shove him away.

He hadn’t been sure he’d ever see anything more erotic than what he’d already witnessed, but the sight of Bakugou spread out before him, legs splayed wide and ass on full display, so vulnerable and willingly submissive, instantly managed to be the most erotic thing Todoroki had ever witnessed in his life.

Most things Bakugou did tonight seemed to be vying for the number one spot, frankly.

He laid down between Bakugou’s legs, his left hand hooked under Bakugou’s knee to help keep him in place. Rather than going straight for the goal, Todoroki let his fingers wander, trailing along Bakugou’s balls experimentally before stroking along his taint. Bakugou turned his head to the side, biting his lip as Todoroki slowly made his way further back, until his fingers rested right over Bakugou’s hole.

The muscles of Bakugou’s leg under his hand were tense, his expression clearly nervous even if he seemed interested.

That wouldn’t do. ‘Interested’ wasn’t what Todoroki was going for. Desperate was more the goal, truthfully.

The next logical step would have been for Todoroki to press one of his fingers inside him. Bakugou would be aware of this, and would be waiting for it, he knew.

So Todoroki made like he was about to press inside of him but instead simply rubbed the pad of his finger along the flesh, pushing in just far enough to hint at what it might feel like before pulling back to run along the sensitive outer skin, repeating the motion over, and over, and over.

Anticipation, Todoroki had found in his own solo experimentation, was half the fun.

Within minutes Bakugou was a shaking mess beneath his touch, gasping and rocking his hips up to try and force Todoroki in further to no avail. “Fuck, fuck, stop teasing me and just do it already.”

Todoroki leaned his head to the side to press a kiss to the back of Bakugou’s exposed thigh but otherwise ignored him, continuing his agonizingly slow pace until the last of the tension had drained from Bakugou’s form.

Please,” Bakugou gasped, voice more whiny than he’d ever heard it. Desperate, Todoroki decided, feeling victorious.

He pressed one finger inside of Bakugou without warning, meeting absolutely no resistance.

Bakugou threw his head back, crying out long and loud, moving his hips and fucking himself on Todoroki’s finger mindlessly.

Todoroki bit his own lip, because christ that was hot to watch, his own cock twitching in interest at the sight. He immediately added a second finger, Bakugou’s breath hitching before he groaned in what sounded like relief.

Still, Todoroki met no resistance, Bakugou too worked up to not take him at this point.

Everything felt like it went both too fast and yet agonizingly slow after that. Slowly, he worked Bakugou open, his movements too gentle, too careful, too precisely orchestrated to bring Bakugou deeper into the throws of passion and yet push him carefully back from the edge, unable to really get anywhere except for increasingly more aroused and simultaneously further from climax.

“Goddammit, that’s—” Bakugou mumbled incoherently, “Stop teasing—no, no don’t stop, oh god yes—fuck, Todoroki you asshole I said don’t stop, do that again, jesus christ please—”

Todoroki had a pretty good idea of where Bakugou’s prostate was within a few short minutes. He intentionally refused to do anything more than brush against it teasingly as he continued to stretch Bakugou out.

An idea occurred to him, taking shape through the haze of his mind.

He moved to press a third finger in, Bakugou tensing up ever so slightly because that was a bit of a stretch no matter how much he wanted it— until Todoroki leaned forward to swallow down his cock at the same time.

Fuck, oh my god, yes,” Bakugou gasped, bucking into Todoroki’s mouth before fucking himself back onto his fingers, repeating the motion over and over.

Todoroki curled his fingers just so this time, mouth stretched over Bakugou as far as he could go.

A loud, broken moan filled the air and lingered, a note of tortured pleasure that made Todoroki’s head swim.

He pulled off, removing his fingers abruptly, Bakugou crying out at the loss.

“What the fuck—,” he heaved, aiming his crimson gaze at Todoroki in what Todoroki assumed was meant to be a glare but mostly just looked wrecked beyond all reason. “It was just getting good, why the fuck did you stop.”

Just getting good?” Todoroki asked, a smile in his voice as he poured more lube into his hand, working it over his own cock and trying not to focus too much on how good it felt to finally get some friction. “Are you actually trying to implying it wasn’t good the whole time?”

Yes,” Bakugou mumbled petulantly.

“That’s funny, because I could almost swear you were just begging me not to stop.”

“Don’t be a dick,” Bakugou growled, but Todoroki saw the smile at the corner of his mouth, saw the way the light caught and held in his eye with quiet mirth.

“Thought you wanted my dick,” Todoroki replied, raising an eyebrow and relishing in the way Bakugou flustered in response.

“If you don’t hurry the fuck up I might just change my mind,” he threatened, but it was a very empty threat and they both knew it.

Affection swelled in his chest as he leaned forward to kiss Bakugou long and slow, their breath mingling, tongues swirling together languidly as though they had all the time in the world.

“I’m going to do it now,” Todoroki whispered against his lips, taking his cock in hand and rubbing it along the cleft of Bakugou’s ass to emphasize his point. “So if you want to change your mind, now’s the time.”

Bakugou ground back against Todoroki’s cock in reply, the head of it catching slightly on Bakugou’s hole briefly, their groans filling the room in tandem. Bakugou bit down on Todoroki’s lip gently, hand wrapped around the back of his neck to hold him close. “Give it to me,” he breathed.

Todoroki didn’t need to be told twice.

He lined himself up, one hand gripping his cock and the other hooked under the back of Bakugou’s knee to keep him spread wide. Bakugou laid back on the bed, arms splayed out and hands fisted in the sheets as he watched Todoroki watching him, eyes intense and charged with some emotion Todoroki couldn’t name.

He pressed into him carefully, mouth falling open on a moan as blinding wet heat engulfed him, the fit tight but clearly to Bakugou’s liking if the way he arched his spin and groaned, head thrown back, was anything to go by.

“Oh my god,” Todoroki whispered, pressing inward slowly until he reached the hilt.

I’m inside him, Todoroki’s mind screamed. I’m inside Bakugou Katsuki.

None of it felt real, and yet it was also the most viscerally real and alive Todoroki had ever felt.

“Are you ok?” Todoroki asked him, leaning forward and heaving a breath, trying to give Bakugou time to adjust to him. “Does it hurt?”

Bakugou blinked up at him blearily, mouth hanging open. “It feels fucking amazing,” he rasped, the muscles in his stomach clenching as he moved to rock his hips slightly, riding Todoroki’s cock from below.

The sudden and unexpected friction was almost enough to make Todoroki lose it, his hands dropping to Bakugou’s waist to hold him still with a gasp. “You—you have to wait a second,” he said, shaking his head when Bakugou made a noise of protest. “I mean it. If you don’t I’m going to come immediately.”

Rather than laugh at him, a shiver seemed to work its way through Bakugou from head to toe. “That good, huh?” he asked, sounding genuinely curious.

Todoroki swallowed thickly, leaning down to press a kiss to Bakugou’s chest and trying to figure out how to make words work for him like they usually did. “The best thing I’ve ever felt,” he confessed in a rush, annoyed with himself for still sounding so utterly wrecked.

Bakugou swore, his hands suddenly cupping Todoroki’s face as he leaned up to kiss him on the mouth.

And then they were moving, both of them rocking into one another in tandem, a kind of dance Todoroki hadn’t even known he’d been capable of but now found he never wanted to stop, the sweet push and pull between them feeling like so much and yet not enough, never enough. He wanted to do this until he forgot who he was or simply ceased to be altogether, it didn’t matter to him, nothing mattered but the way Bakugou shook and cried out beneath him, against him, with him.

He had expected sex between them to be rough and passionate, and he could feel it there simmering beneath the surface, knew it could be like that between them if given half the chance. But he didn’t want to, and seemingly, neither did Bakugou. This was something altogether sweeter, something that didn’t just make Todoroki’s blood race but made his soul feel raw and flayed open, like he’d exposed the most vulnerable part of himself only for it to be cherished and adored.

This isn’t sex, he realized in a daze, something between them cresting, building on itself with every press of their lips and every slow slide of skin against skin. This isn’t fucking.

Bakugou gasped as Todoroki rolled his hips at just the right angle, his moans suddenly rising in pitch, telling Todoroki he must be close. “God, Todoroki, don’t stop.”

“Don’t call me that,” Todoroki told him immediately, pressing him further into the mattress but not changing the angle. “You didn’t earlier. Don’t start now.”

“Shouto,” Bakugou whispered in acknowledgement, his voice cracking, sounding broken. “Shouto, please.

This is making love.

He reached between them, taking Bakugou’s cock in his hand, the remnants of lube and their own sweat mixing with the precum that dripped from the end as he worked him in long, firm strokes that matched the pace of their hips.

“Katsuki,” Todoroki breathed against his lips, shaking with the emotion of it and feeling himself break apart at the seams—

— only for Bakugou to catch him and carefully put him back together, new and different and forever changed in a way he never wanted to live without.

Bakugou cried out beneath him just as Todoroki finished riding it out, the splash of come hot and wet against Todoroki’s palm as Bakugou moaned into his mouth, his entire body wracked with tremors as it seemed to go on forever. Todoroki held him carefully, gently, slowly working him through it until he finally collapsed against the bed in a heap, arms wrapping around Todoroki and taking him down with him.

He let himself fall heavily against Bakugou’s chest, pulling out slowly and regretting the loss of connection between them almost instantly. He contented himself with burrowing against Bakugou’s neck instead, inhaling deeply and doing his best to let the calm feeling his scent brought with it wash across his heart and sooth his soul.

Eventually, he sat up just enough to look at Bakugou’s face, only to find his eyes closed. The remnants of tears lingered on the corners of his eyelashes, dried traces of salt painting the sides of his face beautifully in the dim light, his breathing deep and even. He looked completely sated, a small smile in the hint of his upturned lips. Wholly relaxed. Completely at peace.

Todoroki had so many things he wanted to say to him and yet he didn’t have the heart to wake him. Not when he looked like that.

We’ll talk in the morning, he reasoned, closing his eyes and resting his head back on Bakugou’s shoulder. Maybe I’ll even get up and make us breakfast.

It was such a pleasant, stupidly domestic thought. He felt lucky to have something so simple and yet so powerful in his life. He felt lucky to have Bakugou at all.

He fell asleep smiling.

 

 

 

When he woke up in the morning, Bakugou was gone.

His things were missing. His bag had clearly been repacked, all traces of his presence erased from Todoroki’s life completely.

Todoroki stumbled to the tv, clicking it on almost on autopilot, only for a live feed of a nearby raid to show up on screen.

“Ground Zero Returns With a Bang to Stop Villains From Targeting Local Elementary School,” the headline flashing across the bottom of the newscast read.

“When the arrests had been made, we asked Ground Zero to comment on his recent absence from the world of fighting crime,” the woman on the television said as she spoke into her microphone, the image of a school in the aftermath of chaos behind her, clearly at the end of the news coverage on the subject. “Ground Zero’s only statement was to say that it didn’t matter. ‘I’m back,’ he told us. And as little as that reveals, we can only say that we here at Hero Action News Network agree it’s great to see him back in action once more. Now back to you at the studio—”

Todoroki clicked the television off, sinking to his knees, the remote falling from his fingertips. Lady came up curiously to investigate, meowing quietly in concern, but Todoroki barely heard her.

He couldn’t really hear much of anything over the sound of screaming silence that now rested where his heart used to be.