The first thing Bakugou saw as he opened his eyes, was a shift of red dancing in the room. Then a body beneath the red, moving almost seamlessly in front of the fire.
“You’re awake,” a voice carried its weight into his ears, making him still. His eyes wandered across the cabin, searching for the closest door there was. His body tried to move but he was stilled in his place by the crushing pain in his abdomen. “Shh, it’s alright little guy. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Gentle and soft hands went to rub his face. In panic, he reached out to bite the hand. The boy let out a whimper but did not retreat his hand. He simply stared at Bakugou with soft watery eyes. Bakugou could taste the copper in his mouth, and anger swallowed him at the sight of the boy not even reacting. He bit harder, earning him a hiss from the small boy.
“It hurts,” was all he said. He didn’t even shake his hand away or move an inch. Big green eyes stared into his, and with a soft voice, he pleaded, “please. I want to check your injuries…”
Slowly, he let his jaw go slack. His eyes landed on the boy’s hand, it was dripping with blood and underneath the faint silhouette of scars were shown.
He didn’t move his hand immediately, instead waiting until Bakugou had completely closed his mouth.
“Can I?” he asked. Bakugou did not bother to answer and opted to close his eyes. If the guy did anything funny, he would bite his hand off.
The boy mover forward, ever so slightly. Almost as if not to scare Bakugou. He shuffled with the bandages that covered his chest, and Bakugou enjoyed the feeling traveling through his body.
“You have such beautiful fur,” the boy’s voice melted with the fire crackling in the chimney. Bakugou allowed himself to relax against it, as the tiny hands scratched behind his ears. “You’re the biggest dog I have seen!”
Bakugou wanted to growl at this. And he would have, if not for the loud sound of the door opening at that exact moment.
“Midoriya!” the man called in a hurry. “Are you alright?! I heard you went out to the forest last night and-!”
“Kirishima,” the boy said with a calm voice. Bakugou dropped his snout to the floor and rested there. He watched the boy move towards the door, making sure he could wrap the hood against his skin. “It’s alright, nothing happened.”
“You sure?” the boy nodded. “Thank god! You scared me!”
The boy simply let a small giggle under his breath, which Bakugou couldn’t help but scoff at.
“Sorry about that,” he said with sincerity. “It’s just that the moon was so beautiful yesterday that I-”
“I know you like the moon,” the man replied with a sigh. “But it’s not safe to go out at night!”
“I’m sorry,” he said again. “But I needed the supplies for tomo-”
The man caught eye of the blood that streamed down the boy’s hand. The bite marks that covered it were enough to make the man try and rush inside the house. The boy stopped him, but it did little to calm the man out.
“What happened!?” he asked. His timber going up, making the boy nervous.
“Don’t worry about this it’s just-!” he tried to speak.
Bakugou yawned from the floor, making both men turn towards him. The man’s eyes narrowed towards him, while the boy smiled.
“What’s that?” the man asked. “Is he the one who did that to-?”
“Ah! I found him yesterday by the forest,” the boy commented, giving a dismissive wave. “Isn’t he cute?”
“Sure? I mean it’s a dog…” the man said, mildly confused. “I don’t think I have seen that kind of breed in this area, though…”
“Maybe he’s a traveler,” the boy replied, his eyes cast to the ground. There was something sad and grim in the boy’s posture. “…just like me.”
This caused the man to stop in his tracks and freeze.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay until the month has ended?” the man asked with a low voice. His eyes were full of an unheard plea. “I could talk to the leaders again! I cou-could make it, so the chief gives you more time-”
The boy shook his head, ever so slightly, cutting the man short. The thunders that echoed the sky were signal of the storm that was nearing.
“Thank you so much, Kirishima…but you should head back home. It’s going to rain soon,” the boy replied, closing the door a bit. He gave the man a sympathetic smile, “Take care.”
“Midoriya,” the man said in a last attempt to keep the boy’s attention. Their eyes locked. “Promise me you’ll be careful.”
There was a silent entreaty with the man’s words. It was loud that the thunders that echoed in the forest. The boy, however, did not hear. As if the words were nothing more than a whisper in the grass.
“I will,” he said. His evergreen eyes gave one last look at the man. “Goodbye, Kirishima.”
He closed the door. For a solid minute, the boy didn’t move from the door. He stayed there until the footsteps of the man were gone. And even then, he stayed there. His shoulders trembled as if he were crying. But no sobs came from his mouth. Bakugou had long since stopped listening to the stranger’s footsteps -which was farther than the human could- when the boy separated the door.
“Goodbyes were never my forte,” he confessed to the air. He went to walk closer towards Bakugou, kneeling by his side. “Don’t worry. Your injuries should be fine when the morning comes. You can go back home then.”
Bakugou didn’t bother to acknowledge the boy’s words and opted to rest for a while longer. At least, he was. Until his stomach growled.
Perfect. What was he going to eat?
The boy by his side laughed. It was nice if he dared to say so. Soft and warm, at least better than the sound of the storm that came from the window.
“I bet you’re hungry,” the boy said. He got up from the floor and reached for the fireplace. The copper of the fire burnt with intensity.
The cauldron was smoking. The smell that came from it was delicious, making Bakugou’s mouth water. He propped himself up, watching his surrounding for the first time.
It was a cozy little place. Maybe too little. It wouldn’t be able to shelter them both for long, but Bakugou was not one to complain when outside the raindrops were starting to fall. It had a fire, food, and a bed. Not much, but more than what he had.
The boy placed the bowl of food in front of him. It smelled good. It was a stew of meat and vegetables which, with the cold and the rain, felt like heaven on his tongue.
“I hope you like it,” the boy said. He sat by his side, on the floor, with his own bowl hot in hands. “I usually make too much and never have who to share it with.”
Bakugou began eating. It was good. Better than a lot of things he had tried in his life. The contents of the bowl were gone soon, and he pushed it towards the boy with his snout.
“You eat fast,” the boy commented with a laugh. He was still halfway through his. “I guess seconds for my savior can’t be bad.”
The boy poured the contents of his bowl into Bakugou’s and added what was left of the cauldron. Bakugou stared at the plate, unsure of what to do. He turned to see the boy, who simply stretched out, reaching for the dirty dishes. Was this really all he had?
“You can eat,” the boy said, taking the dishes to the sink. “I’m not that hungry.”
Bakugou felt the lie in the boy’s tongue but didn’t say a thing. If the boy wanted to starve himself, then fine by him. He ate with gusto what was left in the bowl until his belly was full.
Minding his own manners, he took the bowl with his mouth, minding his teeth. He got up and walked slowly towards the sink, where the boy hummed out a song.
“Oh thanks!” the boy smiled as he took the bowl in his hands. “You’re such a help.”
The boy washed the small number of wooden dishes, and his own hand, underneath the warm water that ran in the sink. Bakugou yawned, walking back to the place where he had been sleeping.
The water stopped running, and the boy continued to hum. It was an old song, which Bakugou had the feeling he had heard somewhere else. The rustling of the bandages -probably to heal his own wound- along with the soft melody, made him doze off.
“I see the moon, the moon sees me,” the gentle song of the wind carried the boy’s voice. Bakugou yawned loudly, earning him a soft giggle in between the notes. “Shining through the leaves of the old oak tree...”
The brush of the broom then came. It was such a soft tune, but Bakugou’s ears picked it up immediately. It all felt like a lullaby, bringing calm with ease. Bakugou went to sleep with the crackling of the fire slowly dying, as the song echoed in the small cabin.
Izuku yawned after a while. His body drifted into the bed, next to the dog. The thunders from far away began rumbling. He went ahead and took the heavy and uncomfortable blankets to cover himself. He shivered at the cold material, tears prickling his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered under his breath. He curled himself up into a ball, feeling the weight of the world coming crashing down into his body.
The thunders kept coming. His hands went to rest on his ears trying to block out all the noise that kept coming his way. He wanted to cry, but no voice would come out of his mouth. His throat closed up, drying up his insides.
The urge to scream kept coming farther up his neck.
His eyes were closed shut, hoping that it would help alleviate the pain. It didn’t. He counted sheep, one by one. The soft melody of the lullaby his mother used to sing, was the only solace he could find.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as the whimpers just kept spilling from his throat.
The only thing he wanted was to sleep. Why was that so hard?
Bakugou woke up with the sound of muffled cries. He looked up into the bed. The trembles of the boy’s shakes were making the bed move slightly. Bakugou let out a huff, annoyed by his sudden wake.
The thunders kept on screaming against the glass windows. The water that fell from the sky wouldn’t stop until morning.
Bakugou climbed on top of the bed, careful so as not to crush the boy underneath him. As if by a magic spell, the trembled subdued. The boy’s hands went to meet Bakugou’s fur, nuzzling as if he were a lost child. Bakugou wouldn’t be a liar and claim it felt bad. He let the boy’s hand cling to his fur, and bury his face deeply, inhaling the smell of wood that impregnated it.
Bakugou stared at the sleeping face of the boy. A pang in his chest screamed for him to do something. He was in pain, and he had been the one to cure Bakugou’s injuries. A weird protective feeling settled in the deepest parts of his body. Bakugou had to fight the urge to scoop him up and take him far away from the storm.
He couldn’t, however, stop himself from licking the tears that pooled in the small boy’s eyes. They were salty and big. The boy let out a soft giggle at this. It felt like a blessing against his ears. Bakugou finally allowed his body to relax against the other.
“Warm,” the boy said in his sleep. Bakugou didn’t bother growling at this. He let his snout drop to the boy’s face. His body was big enough to surround the petite boy’s body. As if it were a nest for him.
Bakugou yawned loudly, happy that he could finally return to sleep.
For some reason or another, sleep came easier this time around.
Izuku didn’t want to open his eyes when the light came from the window. His body was limp against the sheets, and the drowsiness wouldn’t go away. It had been such a long time since he last felt this comfortable in his sleep. He buried his head deeper, inhaling the smell of earth and gravel, feeling the hair tickle his nose.
He sneezed awake and blinked. The dog by his side also woke up.
“Good morning,” Izuku laughed softly against the big body. “Are your injuries better?”
The dog yawned and got down from the bed, leaving Izuku cold in the bed.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said with a soft smile. He turned to see the window by his side.
He walked towards it, opening it slowly. The wind blew softly against his face. Izuku closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of the morning dew against his face. The smell of grass freshly rinsed, and the wooden trees made him relax against the frame.
“I’m gonna miss this place,” he said in a very low voice. A sigh escaped his lips as he turned around. The dog was scratching the door. “You want to go out already?”
Izuku laughed as he reached for the door. He kneeled down, so he was face to face with the canine. Big red eyes stared back at him as he gave the dog a big ruffle in his hairy neck.
“Don’t go getting in more trouble, okay?” he said, giving the dog a small kiss on his forehead.
As soon as he opened the door, the dog dashed out of the cabin. Izuku gave a sad smile as he saw the dog roll around in the leaves and mud. Well, that explained the earthy smell.
He closed the door and got inside of the cabin once again. His hands went running against the wooden table and cabinets. There was no more food in them, although there was not much, to begin with. Izuku sighed as he reached for the old bottles that rested on the counter.
Hep laced them all inside of his bag, feeling the weight of each in his own fingertips. It was so strange to pack them, after so long of having them on the top shelves.
Lilies of the valley. Frog mist. Moon water…
A knock came from the door as soon as he was done the packing.He glanced at the window. It was still early. What could someone want?
“Kirishima,” Izuku breathed out the name as he saw the man on his doorstep. He smiled. “You ran all the way here?”
As if to prove the point, the red-haired man panted, his hands resting on his knees. He was sweaty and covered in water in the morning.
“I wanted to see you-,” Kirishima panted out, heavy breaths as he looked up to Izuku, “-before you left.”
Izuku tilted his head to the side. Kirishima got up and offered him flowers. They were big and red, like Izuku’s own riding hood.
“They’re so pretty!” Izuku exclaimed, reaching for the small bouquet. His hands went to caress the petals, which covered Eijirou’s red face. “Thank you much!”
“I wanted to give them,” Kirishima said, small voice, red cheeks. “As a good luck charm…”
“Good luck charm?” Izuku asked. His eyes focused on the flowers and they darkened slightly. Lilies…
“You’re going into the woods,” Eijirou said. His own voice also dropping. He was obviously worried, and Izuku didn’t have the words to comfort him. “It’s very dangerous and-”
“I told you I’d be careful,” Izuku insisted, holding the flowers close to his chest.
“You took in an injured dog,” Kirishima said with a laugh. “I was more scared he’d attack you in your sleep, to be completely honest.”
“Oh, he was completely harmless,” Izuku reassured him. A small smile spread across his lips, when he remembered the dog cuddling him that same morning.
“Still,” Kirishima said, giving him a pointed look. “You should be careful. The forest is known for its enormous wolves! I’d be better if I at least escort you to-”
“Kirishima,” Izuku’s voice came out low and cold. His smile was the same kind one as ever. But there was something really terrifying about the dead eyes he carried. “It’s okay.”
Kirishima bit his lips, eyebrows furrowed.
“You shouldn’t worry about me,” Kirishima tried once again. Izuku’s sad smile wasn’t wiped away. “I’m the best lumberjack here! I could help-!”
Izuku smelled the lilies in his hands. They were precious.
“I better get going,” Izuku said with a calm voice. “The sunlight is scarce. I’d hate to travel at night.”
“It was a pleasure to be your friend, Kirishima,” Izuku said with a warm smile. “I do hope we meet again.”
Izuku hated goodbyes. He had encountered far too many in his lifetime, and each one had been increasingly worst than the one before.
So, really, you couldn’t blame him for avoiding it as much as he could. He didn’t look back when he left the house. Too scared that if he acknowledged he was leaving, he wouldn’t be able to leave.
He also didn’t say goodbye to Kirishima. At least, not a former goodbye. It was more of a “see you later” goodbye. The kind you can easily throw into the air and forget once it left your lips.
Goodbyes to the rest of the townspeople were out of the question too. One, because he wouldn’t know what to say to make it not hurt. What to say to the baker, to the flower lady, to the little girl in the park, the librarian…Everyone who had been kind to him, how would he say goodbye without making it hurt?
And the second reason was…
Izuku pulled down his hood a bit farther down, hiding his face from the forest’s judging eyes. ‘Witch,’ it whispered against his ear.
He wanted to deny it, to say it wasn’t true but-
It wasn’t. The forest would never lie. It would never say things that were false.
Izuku was a witch through and through.
The rustling of the leaves came to him like a whisper in the night. He knew the song like a melody he never forgot. He sang with it.
“Over the mountain, over the sea,” his voice traveled across the forest, his hands held on tight to the basket he carried, where Eijirou’s flowers laid. “Back where my heart is longing to be…”
Izuku took a deep breath, making long strides as he walked through the forest. He knew that no matter how far and fast he went today, there was no way he’d reach the next town before the night fell. He would be stuck in the dark forest for a long time.
With each footstep he took, the branches creaked underneath. The forest felt alone and big. It would be far too easy for him to get lost if he went off the well-trodden path. With deep breaths, he continued. He was scared of what laid into the forest, no doubt in that, but he was far more worried about what was outside of it.
‘Witch’ the echo continued. Izuku pulled down his hood farther, his steps getting bigger as he advanced. ‘Witch! Witch!’
“I was just trying to help,” Izuku confessed under his breath. The fire in his memories kept on burning alive.
The rustling of the leaves brought him back to life. It came from behind him. And then next to him. And then up front, and then-…
It was following him.
“Be careful,” Eijirou’s voice echoed in his mind, letting the sweat run cold down his back. “There are wolves in these forests!”
Without a second to lose, he dashed forward. He started heaving in distress, as he ran. Panic surged in his chest, unsure of what would follow.
He ran. And ran, feeling the silhouette of a stranger following him close by. The distress calls from the forest made his body shiver uncontrollably underneath his skin.
His feet stumbled. Out of the corner of his eyes, he managed to see the big figure of a wolf rushing towards him.
The weight of his body felt too heavy, as it came closer and closer. He tripped, turning as fast as he could to face the beast the reached for his neck. The basket was scattered in the floor, the flowers destroyed by his side. He covered his face with his hands, an attempt to get some kind of protection.
“Help!” he managed to yelp, closing his eyes tight, bracing for the impact.
A loud sound was heard. Izuku vaguely managed to open his eyes, barely managing to look past his tears. Everything looked blurry, but Izuku recognized the fur of a familiar body.
The dog bit the neck of the wolf that had been attacking Izuku, tossing it aside as soon as he finished. The wolf scurried away, howling in terror.
Izuku locked eyes with the red-eyed dog and the adrenaline finally subdued. He gave the dog a happy smile, as it reached towards him.
He licked his dirt covered face, making Izuku giggle slightly.
“You came to save me,” Izuku said, his hands reaching for the fur in his neck. It was as soft as he remembered. “Thank you…”
The dog stilled and Izuku took it as an opportunity to let his head rest against the dog’s forehead. He sighed.
With the fear finally leaving his body, the pain and stress of his body being completely torn came back. Izuku groaned, his hands reaching for his ankle. Softly, he began padding the surface of his skin and sighed when he found what was wrong.
“I think I twisted it,” he declared. His hands went to the branches of the nearest tree. Swallowing down the pain, he got up.
He tried to set his foot down, but as soon as he tried he had to bite down the scream that threatened to escape his throat. The pain if anything, indicated how bad his situation was. His eyes went to wander in the forest, examination the place he was in.
The path he had been following was nowhere to be seen. He had run so fast to escape the giant wolf that he was now lost in the forest. Finding the path back would be hellish. Walking towards it, a nightmare. And the mere idea of spending the night in the forest with his feet incapacitated was…
Izuku dropped to the ground once again. The dog nudged his face, making Izuku smile the tiniest bit.
“At least you’re here,” he said, stroking the wolf’s fur. He sighed, looking up to the mist-covered sky. “What am I going to do?”
He hugged the dog, feeling the helplessness swallow him whole. He choked back the tears, as he buried his face in his neck. It was so warm…Izuku pretended he wasn’t so alone when the kindest of the animal was by his side.
He didn’t want to be alone.
Bakugou knew it had been a bad idea to follow the human boy. But it’s not like he could help himself. The boy had helped him when he needed it, so it was only logical for him to return the favor.
The wolf attacking the boy had been both a surprise and not.
On the surprise side, it was a zone that was relatively full of humans. It was stupid for a wolf to come near it unless they were Bakugou.
But then again, it was a helpless lonely human walking in the forest. Few wolves were going to stop themselves at such a tempting invitation.
Even more, when Bakugou knew exactly what they wanted.
Bakugou had to fight the urge to devour the boy who was hugging him. The boy didn’t know. He thought he was just an abnormally large dog, who wouldn’t dare to hurt him.
He was wrong.
‘You’re going to get eaten alive,’ he growled out. The message went unnoticed by the boy, who kept on clinging to him.
Big green eyes. Full lips that were far too close to his own.
Bakugou wanted to eat him. And if he were a bit stronger if his wound would just heal a little faster, he would.
But he was not the only thing in this forest who wanted to eat him. Wolves, bears, lumberjacks…Bakugou felt his blood boil. All of them were too weak to protect the boy, from others and from themselves.
Bakugou licked the tears off the boy’s face, enjoying the feeling of the smooth skin on his tongue.
“That tickles!” the boy laughed. He wanted to drink that laughter. “Are you trying to cheer me up?”
Bakugou woofed. Yes, he had meant. He wanted more than a syllable to tell him everything he fell.
“It’s working,” the boy confessed, scratching the side of his ear. It felt so good… “Thank you.”
The boy finally separated Bakugou. There was a silent need for him to stay by his side, one which Bakugou would not be able to satiate.
The boy began walking away, limping with every step he took. Bakugou sat there, staring. It was going to be impossible for the boy to reach anywhere with his injury.
Much less be able to protect himself from whatever there was in the forest. Bakugou yawned and walked towards the boy. He walked close by.
“Are you going to follow me?” the boy asked with a smile. “It’s a long way, you know?”
Bakugou knew. He had walked across the villages plenty of times. Most of them, however, were times when he was in his human form. Reaching them as a wolf would be piece of cake.
At least, if he were in his best condition. Right now, he wouldn’t be able to carry the boy, so he was stuck with walking at the slow human pace the boy was setting.
He nudged the boy’s side, prompting him to rest against him. The boy looked startled for a second but complied without fuss. Bakugou knew a faster way than the one in the human-made path, but it was also a fairly more dangerous one.
But at that point it would be better to go that way, seeing the condition of the human.
“I’m Izuku by the way,” he said with a soft voice. The named echoed inside of Katsuki’s head. “Midoriya Izuku. And you?”
For a second, Bakugou forgot his state and tried to answer. All that came out of his mouth was a woof that was so loud the boy winced.
“I don’t think I can understand that,” the boy said with a genuine laugh escaping his lips. “Shall I give you a name?”
Fuck no, Bakugou wanted to say. But it’s not like he could easily tell that to the boy.
“Hmm, how about Spot?” Izuku asked. Bakugou growled, but the boy just laughed. “Alright, alright, not that one…”
As they walked down the forest, Izuku started to sing. It was a nice song. One that brought back many memories from when Bakugou was just a pup. The song felt too real, too sincere, with every note that echoed in the immensity of the forest.
“Oh, let the light that shines on me, shine on the one I love,” Izuku’s voice was clear like the water of a lake. Transparent and silent to anyone who didn’t want to hear. But loud and precious in Bakugou’s ears. “I hear the lark, the lark hears me, singing from the leaves of the old oak tree…”
It was as if the wildlife were also singing along. As if the grass and the wind were in tune with the words escaping from his mouth. Bakugou couldn’t help the feeling that he was being bewitched, with every little pitch his voice made.
Izuku stopped singing. The grass was suddenly less green, and the wind was less cold. Bakugou looked up at the boy, whose smiling face was untouched.
“Kaachan!” he beamed out of the nowhere, startling Bakugou. Izuku looked back to Bakugou, his eyes gleaming the morning dew. “How about that name? Kaachan!”
To be sincere with himself, Bakugou had no idea where the name came from. But since it came close enough to his actual name, Katsuki, he guessed he could live with it. He woofed in approval.
Izuku laughed, ruffling his fur. It was such a nice feeling that Katsuki wished he’d never stop.