The news had been all over the media for days, by that point - in hindsight, Bakugou was sure he’d heard of it in passing at least a dozen times.
It was just, in the midst of being accepted at UA and finding out somehow Deku had gotten in too, his mind had been preoccupied enough to not give the information much attention at all: just another villain attack, just another casualty, sad, but not particularly surprising.
He knew firsthand this shit happened, he knew firsthand heroes, at times, could be completely useless cowards.
The news had been all over the media for days, though, and by will or not Bakugou knew what it was all about: a kid around his age in the Chiba prefecture, jumping in trying to do god-knows-what in the middle of a villain attack. A terrible death, the community was mourning, heroes sent condolences and reminded civilians to not act harshly, yada yada.
The only thing that really came as news to him, on the first day of high school out of the mouth of their new, very tired-looking teacher, was that the kid should have been a member of their class.
An aspiring hero, then. Bakugou scoffed quietly, turning his eyes away from the rest of the class (from the pink girl who seemed on the verge of tears, from the empty desk that for whatever reason had been left in the middle of the room) and settling his eyes on the clear sky outside.
Middle schoolers throwing themselves in the middle of attacks they had no way of helping with, he thought. What a fucking joke.
It took Bakugou more than he’d like to admit before he realized that something was seriously off.
The first time it happened, it was the first day of school - he was making his way out of the building, hunched shoulders and snarling lips, when a concerned voice called for his attention with a quiet man, you should seriously learn to lighten up. He turned around ready to tear a new one to whoever had dared utter such bullshit at him, but the hallways stayed still and quiet at his back, completely empty.
He begrudgingly assumed he'd been hearing things, turned back around and forgot about it.
The second time - as far as he could remember - was a couple of days later, as he scribbled fast and sure on the worksheet in front of him. From somewhere at his side the sentence damn, you're good reached his ears, and he sharply turned his head around to snarl at whoever had managed to get so close without neither him nor Aizawa noticing, but the only thing his eyes met was the girl sitting next to him biting on the tip of one of her ear-jack-things and unsurely filling in her own work.
“‘the fuck”, he mumbled, and the girl turned around to look at him with a raised brow in answer. He snarled at her, clicked his tongue, and forgot about it.
The third time had been a persistent blur in the corner of his eye - the feeling of something moving in his peripheral vision, an image that disappeared or overlapped with something not completely fitting the second he tried to properly focus on it. It was the same day as the second incident, and then the day after, and after, and after.
Try as he might, this time he couldn't really forget it, the impression of red eyes peering at him, of black hair moving according to the wind. He rubbed his lids, wriggled his nose in annoyance, and forcefully put it out of his head as something he didn't have the time for.
The next noticeable time he was sitting on a bus in his nearly brand new hero costume, his useless classmates chattering about quirks around him, when the comment if we're talking flashy then Bakugou and Todoroki, for sure, caught his attention and had him turn and look for a face to put to the voice.
His eyes caught the frog-girl’s, an action that prompted her to make an offhand jab at his supposedly not-made-to-be-popular personality, and the next thing he knew he was involved in a shouting match with the pretentious prick with yellow hair; whatever it was that had gotten his attention in the first place, it was forgotten in the midst of it all.
The next time wasn't as much as he'd forgotten about it, but the dozen and a half villains surrounding him made for a higher priority than the faint behind you’s he could nearly convince himself he didn't really hear or the smudge of red eyes placed so that he couldn't really ever catch them to make sure they existed to begin with.
That day turned out to have more important things to focus on and reflect over than whether or not he was going crazy, in the end.
Bakugou supposed Kaminari was a friend - or, well, the most similar thing to a friend he currently had at hand. Kaminari also seemed to have good memory for faces and quirks, social fly that he was, and was easy to distract in case he decided to ask stupid questions.
And Bakugou had been seeing the locks of black hair in his peripheral the whole morning, which was a special type of bullshit he was finally over and done with.
“Someone with red eyes and black hair?” Kaminari asked, tilting his head and scrunching up his whole face as he thought - fucking nerd probably wasn't much used to the activity.
“A guy,” Bakugou supplied, because the voice obviously belonged to one, and the more info he gave to the idiot the higher the chance of him reaching a conclusion before overheating.
“I don't think there's anyone like that in our class… oh, wait, do you mean Tokoyami?”
“I don't know who the fuck that's supposed to be,” Bakugou replied, starting to feel the annoyance rising just as fast as one of Kaminari’s eyebrows was - what was up with that stupid-ass expression, anyway?
“Dude,” Kaminari said empathetically, and then sighed when Bakugou leveled him with a blank stare, turned around to point at someone in the far back of the classroom.
Bakugou leaned around him, letting a snarl contort his features when he figured out who the idiot was pointing at.
“No, you useless fuck, not the fucking bird,” he snapped. Kaminari shrugged, then slumped atop Bakugou's desk with a sigh.
“Then there's no one,” he concluded, “only people with black hair are Yaoyorozu and Sero, but they both got black eyes also.”
Bakugou considered that for a while.
“Anyone with a ghost-related quirk?” he asked then, deciding that maybe he'd been going about this the wrong way.
“You mean like Hagakure?”
“Who the fuck is that supposed to be now,” he growled, and Kaminari only rolled his eyes at him.
“The invisible girl,” he elaborated. The snarl on Bakugou’s face only got worse, which was probably enough of an answer in itself, and Kaminari just shrugged again.
“Oh, oh, wait, Tokoyami does have a bird-shadow-thing-”
“It's not the fucking bird!”
“Alright, jeez, then I don't know what to tell you, man!”
Bakugou still found himself approaching Tokoyami later that day.
“You're not following me around, are you,” he asked.
“...no?” Tokoyami replied.
That settled it, then.
Also, he had the distinct feeling of nearly being able to hear and see someone laughing in the corner of his eye at Tokoyami’s baffled expression, so there was that too.
(As soon as Bakugou found out who it was that was trying to make a fool of him, he was gonna beat the shit out of them so thoroughly they were never gonna recover.)
A week before the sports festival found Bakugou walking back home in the late afternoon, sunset light making his scowl even more menacing and drawing a long shadow right in front of him.
Someone was walking by his side.
There was no second shadow on the floor beside his own to confirm this, but if he kept his focus on the street ahead and carefully avoided trying to look to his left, he could consistently make out black hair swishing in the wind and strong arms leading to hands sunk in pants’ pockets. The edges were blurry, but there was definitely someone at his side.
He gritted his teeth, curled his hands in tight fists inside his own pockets, and then snarled, low and gravelly:
“Alright asshole, who the shit are you.”
There was a startle in the guy’s stride that led to him stopping and twirling around to look at Bakugou - lucky fucker could do that no problems, while there he was, struggling to make sense of the arm raised to point at a baffled face.
“Yes, you, who the fuck else!” Bakugou snarled, and took the not-particularly-thought-through decision of instinctively turning around to glare at him.
The guy disappeared, and Bakugou barely stopped himself from blowing up the closest lamp post in a fit of exasperated rage.
Instead he walked the rest of the way home with drawn-in shoulders and wide strides, yelled an I’m home to the empty house, threw his bag in a corner of his room and then himself on top of his bed: there was no point in thinking this over when there was nothing he could currently do about it, sleep sounded like the best course of action in that situation - he’d been feeling tired enough as of late that a nap could never hurt, anyway.
Half an hour later he woke up to deep red eyes staring down at him.
“What the shit!” he yelled, jumping out of the bed to aim an explosion right at the guy's face, who answered with a yelp and a staggered step backwards, skin cracking and hardening as his feet tangled under him and made him fall on his ass.
“Who the fuck are you?!”
“You can see me!”
“What the fuck are you doing in my room?!”
“Can you hear me too?”
“How the shit did you get in?!”
“I followed you!”
“You can hear me!”
Bakugou lunged at him again with a snarl, palms crackling and smoking, and the guy let a panicked wait! out, his skin still stone-looking as he awkwardly dragged himself backwards and successfully cornered himself, fucking useless-ass burglar or whatever the shit he was supposed to be.
He aimed a hand at his face, let out an explosion powerful enough to have the other faint, but when the smoke cleared out all he could see was a scorch mark on the paint on his wall.
“What the fuck,” he whispered, turning around to check his empty room for the intruder with hands raised to strike. When he turned back around, the guy was once more right where he was supposed to be, head hiding the black mark on the wall and red eyes wide and surprised behind his black fringe.
“Dude,” he said.
“What the fuck,” Bakugou replied.
“You don't have the most imaginative vocabulary, do you,” the guy pointed out, and Bakugou snarled at him, trying to explode his head off again just for good measure.
“Alright, okay, enough of that!” red-eyes whined as he ducked out of the way and scrambled back to his feet, “why are you being like this, man!”
Bakugou couldn't believe his ears.
“You're in my goddamn room!” he yelled, throwing a hand out to point at the obviously-private property the guy was unapologetically trespassing into.
The other opened his mouth, closed it again.
“... well,” he started, stopped, and then pointedly began avoiding Bakugou’s eyes instead of trying to elaborate his motives any further.
“Get the fuck out,” Bakugou snarled, moving up to his feet and reaching for the other with a fast movement of his arm - he watched his hand pass right through the broad shoulder, frowned, tried again. The result remained the same.
“Yeah, that’s, uh, that’s probably not gonna work,” the asshole uselessly supplied with a weary smile on his lips, and Bakugou found himself just about ready to kill him on the spot.
“Then deactivate your motherfucking shitty-ass quirk or fucking move it on your own,” he growled. The guy looked at him for a moment, then down at himself, back up at him.
“That’s not my quirk,” he said with a tilt of his head and a frown to his brows, “I harden, see,” he continued with a wide, sharp-toothed bright smile, showing off his rock-looking arm as if it were an information worth giving at the moment or something, “I’m unbreakable!”
Bakugou was so fucking done.
“I don’t give half a shit get the fuck out of my house!” he yelled, throwing an angry hand to point at the door - god, how he hated the fact that he couldn’t just blow this asshole up and be done with it.
The guy had the gall to roll his eyes, opened his mouth to retort, but while Bakugou could see it flapping around words no sound came out of it. A second passed, then the guy tried speaking again, moved a hand in front of Bakugou’s face as if to make sure he could still see him - Bakugou made to swat it away, but the next thing he knew he was once again alone in his room.
He stood there for a while, senses on high alert and unsure about what to do. Then he clicked his tongue, rolled his shoulders, and set to finally fish his homework out of his school-bag and get started on it.
“I hope you actually fucking left, you creepy motherfucker,” was the last he let himself say on the topic. Only silence answered him.
Bakugou might have maybe, just a tiny bit panicked and heavily relied on instinctive reactions when he'd woken up to too-wide, too-red eyes peering down at him, but he was no damn idiot: he knew the guy in his room had been the same one he'd been seeing and hearing for weeks at that point. He was aware of that.
And he sort of maybe half-regretted not asking him what the fuck was up with that while he could have.
His main hypothesis for a long while had been that the guy was someone who couldn't make it in the UA hero course and instead used his shitty ghost quirk to attend anyway - not particularly believable, he admitted, but it was all he’d been able to come up with using the little information he'd had. The guy following him home didn't really make much sense though, keeping up with that line of thought, and it wasn't like Bakugou trusted him to tell the truth about anything, but it seemed like being a ghost wasn't even his actual quirk.
(Illusions, maybe? Could make up the hardening thing to mess with him, with something like that. He didn't seem to have much control on them, if illusions were his quirk - or maybe the fading was also to mess with him, motherfucker.)
So now he maybe half-regretted not beating answers out of the guy when he'd had the chance to. Which was why, when after taking a shower that same night he came back in his room to red eyes peering at the posters littering the walls, he took a breath, held it in, and forced himself to not yell.
Also because his parents were downstairs, and the last thing he needed was for them to make this even more of a mess than it already was.
“You're back,” he said as a way of letting the other know he was aware of his presence. The guy startled and twirled around, deer-in-the-headlights look making his eyes seem even bigger than they had earlier in the day, round and childlike.
“You never fucking left, did you,” Bakugou growled, then clicked his tongue at the guy's guilty smile and let himself fall to sit on his bed, one hand up to rub a towel on his still dripping hair.
“Why the fuck are you even here,” he asked after a beat, and the guy shrugged, took a few steps forward to come sit cross-legged on the floor in front of Bakugou.
“You can see and hear me,” he said, like it was all the reason he might ever need to stalk someone in their own home, “well, now and again,” he then amended - Bakugou scowled at him, and the guy rolled his eyes.
“No one else can,” he specified, his tone that of a teacher explaining something obvious for the fifth time to a particularly slow student. Bakugou felt the scowl get worse as his annoyance rose.
“‘the fuck do you mean no one else can,” he let out through gritted teeth; the guy shrugged.
“I meant what I said, man.”
Silence stretched between them as they stared at each other for a while. Then Bakugou raised a foot to kick at the other’s shoulder, and watched it sink through him with an angry twist to his lips as the guy snorted at him, the fucker.
“That's bullshit,” Bakugou declared in the end, “I don't fucking believe it, try another one.”
The guy's brows furrowed.
“It's the truth though,” he insisted, and Bakugou scoffed and pushed back to his feet, throwing the towel in with the dirty clothes and then starting to fix his bag for the next school day: might as well go on with his usual routine, given how the other didn’t seem to have any intention of leaving any time soon.
“Bull-shit,” he repeated. He saw the guy let himself fall on his back on the floor, and tsk-ed at his pout twisting into a scowl.
“‘s not, why would I lie,” he grumbled. Bakugou had a very long list of answers ready for that specific question, and he nearly found himself starting to give them too - before he could make any sound come out of his already open mouth, though, the door to his room slammed open and hit the wall with a bang, revealing his very suspicious-looking, pajamas-clad mother standing on the other side with a hand on her hip.
“Who the fuck are you talking to,” she squinted at him. Bakugou waited a moment to see if she’d acknowledge the guy obviously sprawled on the floor in the middle of his room, then rolled his eyes and turned away from her when she just kept waiting for an answer.
“Nothing, just fucking studying,” he grumbled as he picked up a book from his desk, threw it inside his bag without checking if he would really need it next day.
“That so,” Mitsuki said, moving a few steps inside the room, still squinting at the walls as if they were hiding something from her, “don't be up too late,” she chided him once she was close enough to ruffle his hair, and he swatted her hand away, rolled his eyes again. She’d walked right across the guy on her way to him, but didn't give any hint of noticing even when her foot sinking smack in middle of a broad chest caused the other to let out an undignified squak.
“I’m fucking serious, Katsuki, you’ve been looking tired since school started - there’s no need to burn yourself out already, it’s not even been a whole month,” she sighed, wrinkles between her brows and crossed arms, then she turned back around and headed to the door, ignoring him as he growled at her that he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, fuck off.
“Yeah, yeah, what-the-fuck-ever. G’night.”
The door closed. Both Bakugou and the guy kept their eyes on it as the sound of Mitsuki’s steps grew fainter as she walked away from it; another door down the hallway opened, clicked shut. Then the guy turned around, bright smile and shining eyes as if he'd just won the lottery or something equally improbable, who even was that fucking loser, seriously.
“See? Told you you're the only one!” he whispered for absolutely no damn reason given no one aside from Bakugou could hear him, supposedly.
“How can I know you weren't doing that on purpose,” Bakugou seethed back, crossing the room to his bed and purposefully walking through the other’s still-sprawled-on-the-floor form while at it. The guy grumbled at the act, and Bakugou smirked self-satisfied.
“Dude, seriously, why would I even lie to you?” he whined, rolling on the floor first to the left, then to the right, then on his stomach to press his face on the tiles and mumble incomprehensible words in them. Bakugou watched him with pursed lips and narrow eyes - what the hell was that idiot even doing.
“I can’t understand a fucking word you’re saying, jackass,” he let him know, then threw a pillow at him just for the hell of it - the guy yelped as it sunk through his head, and finally sat up again just to scowl offended at Bakugou.
“I said,” he ground, crossing his arms and wriggling his nose, “what sort of creep do you even take me for.”
Bakugou nearly actually snorted at that, what the hell.
“You’re in my room, uninvited, in the middle of the motherfucking night, and I don’t even know who the fuck you are,” he summed up, every word further twisting the other’s expression away from offended and closer to sheepish, “if you know any ways in which you could be any more of a creep, I’m all fucking ears.”
“Uhm,” the guy started, avoiding Bakugou’s stare for a few tense seconds and then turning back around to peer at him through his black fringe with a small, unsure smile on his lips.
“I’m Kirishima Eijirou...?” he settled on, like his lack of a known identity was in any way the most important point that had just been made, what the fuck.
Bakugou uselessly kicked at him again, then reached out to pick up the pillow he’d thrown earlier and made to throw it again just for good measure, but as the guy scrambled out of the way on all fours ("stop doing that, seriously, I hate how it feels!” ) something suddenly clicked in Bakugou’s head, having him halt his movements and frown.
“Wait a motherfucking second-” he begun, voice already rising more than the late hour would allow for, just to be cut off right away when the other misplaced a hand, slipped, and instead of tumbling on the floor fell right through it with a panicked yelp.
Bakugou cursed and jumped up from his bed, was sprinting past the last step of the stairs not even a full minute later, but when he reached the living room the guy was nowhere to be found.
He looked through the first floor just to make sure, messed up his hair as he heaved a frustrated sigh.
Bakugou spent the length of the next school day weighing the possibility of bringing it up with someone.
Admittedly, he didn't have many options: even though he was currently the closest thing he had to a friend, Kaminari was out of the question straight away - he couldn't keep a secret to save his life, and he would have been useless anyway; the second option was Aizawa - undoubtedly more useful, but exponentially more likely to be a pain to deal with. All Might could have been a good option, weren't it that Bakugou simply refused to ask for his advice. No way in fucking hell was he asking Deku, for however much his creepily encyclopedic knowledge of quirks might have been useful with the matter at hand.
In the end, late afternoon found him back home without having uttered a single word on the topic to anyone - he stood in fighting stance in the middle of his backyard, hands smoking and skin dripping sweat as he focused on training for the upcoming Sports Festival, pushing any other thought to the back of his mind for later consideration.
He wasn't sure how long passed before he realized he could see the guy watching him from the porch, but when he did he found himself nearly stumbling between an explosion and the next. He still completed the routine though, more for personal pride than anything, and took his time with his usual wind-down exercises for completeness sake.
Red eyes remained trained on him all the while, attentive but not excessively intense - curious, maybe. A bit wistful.
Bakugou retrieved his towel and water bottle from the ground, uncapped the second, and moved to lean against the porch’s railing not even five full feet away from where the guy was sitting cross-legged on the floor.
He gulped down half the bottle, wiped his face of the sweat running along it.
“I looked you up,” he said then, eyes still trained on the yard in front of him. The guy laughed at that, shoulders shaking with it and eyes scrunching up at the corners.
“I saw,” he replied, amusement clear in his tone, “would have been easier if you could have remembered my name, probably - it's Kirishima, by the way.”
Bakugou grunted, not even trying to justify himself - he’d managed just fine anyway in the end, so who even cared.
“Do you spend all your time just looking at me?” he commented instead, finishing the water and setting down the empty bottle by his feet, “remind me again of how you're not a fucking creep.”
Kirishima opened his mouth, closed it to pout, then shrugged dismissive.
“I didn't stay the whole night, just until you fell asleep,” he specified, “in case you’d be able to see me again.”
“Creep,” Bakugou repeated, and Kirishima stuck out his tongue at him, the child - he didn't dignify that action with an answer.
The air felt crisp on Bakugou’s cooling skin. Birds were singing someplace close by, cars sped past on the road up front; the sun was starting to get low on the horizon, his parents would probably be home any moment.
“You're dead,” Bakugou said, breaking the silence with a statement that, in its smallest parts, was maybe also a question. Kirishima hummed low, swaying left and then right with languid movements.
“Yeah,” he agreed, something in his voice quiet and faraway.
Bakugou finally turned to properly look at him, narrow eyes and crossed arms. He studied him, his black hair moving in the wind, the uncertain smile playing on his lips.
“This makes no fucking sense,” he concluded, and Kirishima seemed unable to do anything but agree with him yet again.