He’s seven when his sister meets her soulmate.
And a year later he watches her mourn him. She’s fifteen and he’d always thought she looked so big and strong, but stood in front of his grave, her shoulder’s hunched forward she looks so young, seems so small. So broken. She cries— big round tears, but tells him it’s just the rain. The sky is bright and blue, not a cloud in sight— he doesn’t say anything.
She doesn’t cry again, but she drinks a glass of cheap whiskey with their father and swears she’ll kill the hero that took her soulmate away. Their father smiles bigger and wider than he’s ever seen and hands her a cigarette. “Don’t forget.”
She lights it, presses it against her arm until all he can smell is burned flesh and ash. They are a family of singed things.
He’s eight the first time he notices a cut that isn’t his own, well cuts. Three thin long red marks stretched across his knuckles.
He doesn’t tell anyone.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
A snap of fingers. Smoke twists up from the sagging end of a cigarette. Kaminari stares at the grey tendrils, he doesn’t risk looking up or down. Just sits frozen before his father’s disdainful gaze
“You hesitated. Look at her.” Blood drips from his elbow landing on concrete like thunder. He can’t look, can’t move his head.
His father roughly clenches his face, pulling him until he’s looking forward. And it’s red, everything’s red.
“This is what heroes do.”
Her hair is congealed and plaited in blood, it used to be the same bright blonde as him, but now it’s just red, red, red.
“Fucking look at her.” his father sneers down at him, presses the lit end of his cigarette to Kaminari’s thigh until it burns through his pants. His legs spasms and he jerks back, but his father holds him in place, leans forward, “Never forget what they did to your sister.”
Kaminari doesn’t look away. A drop of blood falls from her hair sliding down the curve of her cheek and to the ground.
His father stands, flicking the cigarette away and gestures to the only other person in the room— a man with a yellow cape slowly crawling to the door, “Now finish it.”
Kaminari jerkily pulls himself from the ground.
He doesn’t hesitate again.
He picks at the edge of the scabbing burn mark, until tender and raw it starts bleeding. A thin trail of red skidding down the side of his thigh, he can feel it warm and wet, but he doesn’t look away from the mirror, from the small cut just above his jaw.
He’s covered in bruises and burns, but this one, the one lying innocently on his face is different, it’s small— an accident. And it’s not his. He’d always coveted these small wounds, loved each scraped knee and elbow, and he’d wonder what they were doing. If his soulmate was playing, having fun.
Another scab bleeds. The front door opens, he stands up straighter, relaxing when his father stumbles past and falls loudly on the couch.
He turns the sink handle until hot water spews from the faucet. The heat burns and sting, but he keeps rubbing his hands together, trying to wash the blood from his fingers, but he can’t. Never will. His thigh oozes, his hands are stained red, and there’s a small cut just above his jaw.
Soulmates are rare, and he’s eleven the first time he wished he was in the majority.
The stink of beer on his breathe, staining the rug, half empty cans next to the couch. The hot tip of a cigarette, a fist, a kick.
No one’s surprised, least of all him, when his father dies, drink in hand.
It’s his second time at a funeral in as many years. He doesn’t cry even though it rains. But he stays, stands alone in front of the stone long after the few scraggly characters that came make for shelter from the downpour.
“You’re Kaminari’s child, correct?” A man made of dark smoke in a well tailored suit steps next to him. Kaminari nods warily, he knows this man, has seen him splashed across the front page of newspapers under words like: beware, dangerous. Do not approach.
“Follow me.” A cloud of dark fog appears in front of them, and the man gestures to it, the swing of his arm elegant, but cold, and says, “My boss has a job for you.”
And Kaminari follows him, it’s not like anyone’s waiting in that old beat up apartment.
The room starts spinning, black specks move hazily before him. He pushes out another surge of electricity.
Someone screams. He thinks they’re shaking against his palm, but he can’t tell. Can’t feel anything really, not around the electricity clinging to his nerves.
A sob. “No, please. No, No—.” The voice beats steadily in his ear, but the words are hazy, incomprehensible around the buzzing.
He’s dulled and can’t fucking think and directs another shock of electricity.
There’s another scream. Everything goes black.
He wakes up with jagged lines— thin and bright and deep— spreading more than halfway up his arm. The first beams of grey morning light peak through the window and he notices a small bruise at the edge of his wrist. And he knows it’s another of those— too small and innocent, too accidental to be his own.
He smooths his finger along the bruise, imagines his soulmate, late and flustered rushing out of the house, their mother handing them a piece of toast with a disapproving look, but her lips still curled up sweetly. They smile back, swing their school bag over their shoulder. And when they hurriedly pull the door open their wrist bangs against the frame. Their mother reaches forward— worried and kind— but they just smile again, wave once more and head to school.
Kaminari presses his thumb against the bruise until it aches.
He wants to feel it for days.
They cut his hair, teach him how to joke a certain way, laugh a certain way, how to play stupid, and they send him to U.A. And he jokes and laughs— he makes friends. But, they are not really his friends, are they? They love the idea of him, this person he created.
Sometimes it hurts. When Kirishima puts a warm arm around his shoulder. The way Mina lights up. Sero’s lazy laugh. When even Bakugou snorts at one of his stupid jokes.
He lights a cigarette, presses it against his shoulder, one mark for each of them.
And a few extra for Kurogiri’s disappointment. For the look in his eye when he tells Kaminari not to lose sight of the job.
One for the kid that grew up a block from him, who was just walking down his street and just happened to pass a robbery. The kid who a hero just happened to assume was involved. Who hadn’t done anything wrong except live in a bad neighborhood. He was only fourteen.
And a hero killed him.
And no one cared, no one said anything.
Then there’s Shinsou, fucking Shinsou, his soulmate.
His soulmate who actually wants to be with him. And fuck, he wants to be with Shinsou too. He even says he’ll prove it, like they have time, like there’s not a looming, inevitable expiration date.
But, Shinsou is looking down at him, cheeks wet, a small smile quirking his lips and Kaminari can’t help it when something sweet and happy blooms in his chest.
He tells Shinsou he’s worth it and he’s not lying.
And he hopes Shinsou remembers that when everything falls apart.
The air is warm, even with the rickety dorm AC on full blast. The excitement of third year already wearing thin with tests and practicals on the horizon. He is currently avoiding eye contact with a thick pile of homework spread across Shinsou’s desk— an attempt at studying he now realizes the futalness of.
Because how could he study right now. The room smells of lavender detergent, Shinsou pottering around, placing his last carefully folded t-shirt on top of the pile and into his drawers. Domestic bliss really. The moment perfected when Shinsou finally plops down on the bed, the springs creaking under his added weight. And Kaminari lifts his head, laying it on Shinsou’s thigh, practically mewing when fingers curl through his hair. He closes his eyes, enjoys the touch, because Shinsou’s still so new, so awkward with affection. He tries memorizing the feel and the warmth of his fingers. Because, despite the aching guilt and conflict. Despite everything they don’t say to each other, haven’t told each other— he is so happy. Has never been happier.
“You’re quiet tonight.” Shinsou’s voice is a low grumble, he tries memorizing that too.
Fingers lightly trace the shell of his ear, along the curve of his jaw and he leans into the touch, “I’m just tired from training.”
“Doesn’t usually stop you.”
Kaminari turns his head, snuggling against Shinsou’s thigh, his pants smell like lavender, “Hope you’re not complaining, people usually beg me to shut up.”
“I like your voice.” He says this decisively, but jerks his hand away only moments later, and Kaminari can imagine a small blush forming high on his cheek. Still so tentative and unsure that it aches and rages against the thick veneer around Kaminari’s heart.
He doesn’t let himself stew in it. Doesn’t even turn over, just reaches for Shinsou’s hand and puts it back in his hair, and add lightly, “I guess someone has to.”
Shinsou doesn’t say anything for a moment, just gently continues moving his fingers, before exhaling loudly, “You don’t have to pretend with me.”
He stiffens, “What?”
“You don’t have to act happy, if something’s bothering you.”
Fuck, had Shinsou seen through him? He turns over, stretches his mouth with a smile, “Who do you think you’re talking to? If something was bothering me I’d just tell you, I’m too stupid for anything else.” He knocks his knuckles against the side of his head and sticks his tongue out dumbly for good measure.
Shinsou narrows his eyes, “You’re not stupid.”
“Maybe you should look at my grades.”
“That’s just school, doesn’t make you stupid.” He shakes his head, then gently tucks a bit of hair behind Kaminari’s ear, “And when it’s just you and me, you don’t act nearly as ditzy.” He curves a palm along Kaminari’s cheek, and he can’t help lean into the touch even as his heart pounds anxiously.
He feels exposed. Anxiety pushes up his throat, scared and acidic like bile, and with great effort he pushes it down, locks it in his chest to examine later, and raises a teasing brow, “Did you just call me ditzy?”
“Fuck, sorry.” Shinsou looks endearingly worried, even as he tries for nonchalant.
Kaminari’s heart flutters happily and then so fucking guiltily. And he forcefully twists his face brightly up at Shinsou. “I’ll forgive you if,” he pauses a moment as if considering, before shifting his lips mischievously, “if you let me keep this sweatshirt.”
“It’s too big for you.”
Kaminari giggles, waggling his eyebrows stupidly, “Isn’t that what makes it so hot.”
Shinsou sets his face sternly, “It’s my favorite.”
“Come on, you just called me ditsy,” He bats his eyelashes, jutting out his lower lip, “and I’ll buy you a Pikachu one, so we’ll match. Come on it’ll be cute!”
“I’m not cute.” Kaminari doesn’t respond just keeps looking up at Shinsou big eyed and pleading, until he relents with a gruff, “Fine.”
He leans up for a quick kiss with a chirpy, “Thanks.”
“And I really don’t think you’re ditsy or anything.” Shinsou grumbles eventually, leaning back and picking at the sweatshirt, “You did just con this off me.”
“Yeah, and don't think I'll forget to collect.” Kaminari laughs, but it catches anxiously at the end. He’s getting worse at telling where the act starts and he ends. Shinsou’s still looking down at him, a twist of worry at the corner of his mouth, and Kaminari just turns over and curls in on himself, his knees knocking against the wall, and adds, “I’m going to nap before dinner.”
The bed sags behind him and Shinsou keeps a bit of space between them, but he throws an arm around Kaminari’s waist. And Kaminari sees a flash of jagged scars when his sleeve catches on Kaminari’s waist, exposing his forearm.
He tugs his own too big sleeves down, clutches the excess length hard, until his knuckles ache and his palms sweat. And then there is soft steady breathing behind him, he inhales slowly and it smells like lavender. He relaxes his grip.
They don’t talk about the scars. Shinsou never asks about them and Kaminari doesn’t brings them up. But, with every passing day and week he notices Shinsou’s gaze lingering longer, on his thighs, his waist, his shoulder, the places the burn marks are most condensed. He figures it’s just growing curiosity until a month before graduation.
Spring has just breezed lushness onto the campus and Kaminari— completely exhausted with finals and the riggers of the job hunt and the simple act of being awake (no one told him third-year would be this bad)— has pushed Shinsou away from his desk and to his favorite napping spot. Where large canopy blushes pink above them, rosie against the light blue sky.
Shinsou's heart beats sluggishly beneath his head, his hand trailing along Kaminari's arm, along the creases of the recently stolen, overtly too big sweatshirt. He snuggles deeper into the hood, taking a long inhale— it still smells like Shinsou.
He turns, on his side, settling into the crook of Shinsou's arm, "I had a weird dream last night."
Shinsou opens an eye, peering down at him. He hums in response.
"It was really colorful, like I was in the middle of a Kaleidoscope someone just shook up. It was so beautiful, like just mesmerizing, and then these dark figures showed up. They were like paper, black bits cut out of the color. I think they were trying to take me somewhere, they tried to grab me, but their hands weren't solid, so they just kept talking, but it was just noise. Kind of like snoring, but scratchier, if that makes sense." A pink petal lands on Shinsou's chest, and he pinches it between his fingers, bringing it to his nose, inhaling the fresh sweet smell of it. Somewhere further down the hill, someone laughs. "Then you showed up, and you were like riding this like gigantic cat. That was awesome."
"Well, I woke up."
Shinsou blinks blearily up at the leaves, "Weird."
"It was cool though, too. Like that time we smoked too much with Sero and everything went real slow and like, gooey." He sighs. "Maybe my mind is telling me I need a good old relax session."
"You getting any closer to deciding who you'll work with after graduation?"
He pushes his face into Shinsou's chest, shaking his head. Shinsou threads his fingers through Kaminari's hair.
"What about where you want to live?"
He shakes his head again, adding a pitiful groan, "No more adult-y questions Toshi. Please."
Shinsou snorts, pressing his nose against the crown of Kaminari's head, "How about just one more?"
He wants to say no, he really does, but Shinsou's flurries a few more kisses to his forehead and when Kaminari stretches his neck, Shinsou even presses a few to his nose.
He relents. "Fine."
Shinsou's hand moves down along his head and neck, over his collarbone, until it settles on his shoulder, just over the bundle of healed over scars. Kaminari glances up at him, Shinsou's still staring determinedly up. But his jaw his clenched, his mouth set.
"You won't go home, right?"
The intensity of it catches him off guard, feels so out of place in their little bit of calm carved beneath the canopy.
He hasn't been called 'home' since he started seeing Shinsou all that time ago. Reporting in through his burner phone, which has been helpful in both keeping his identity hidden and avoiding this very line of questioning.
And he wants to lie, tell Shinsou what he so obviously wants to hear, but there are already enough lies. And it would be a lie, home is danger and mean, but it's been his for so long, he wouldn't know how to be without it. He tells the truth, "I will, for a bit."
The grip tightens on his shoulder, "Is it safe?”
He pats Shinsou's hand above the burn mark and winds their fingers together. “Yeah, it’s safe.” And well, there's only so much truth he can tell.
“Okay,” Shinsou looks moments away from nervously running his fingers through his hair, instead they his twitch nervously against Kaminari's, “but, if you want to stay— I mean, Aizawa's giving me a deal on his old place, so if you want to,” he jams his other hand in his pockets and looks away, “yeah.”
“I’ll be fine.” Kaminari smiles, lightly, genuinely, then feels sick as he digs around for the background story he’d rehearsed, “I’m staying with my grandmother now. She’s nice.”
”Okay.” Shinsou repeats again still looking away.
Kaminari knows he wants to ask more about it. Hell, there are a million questions Kaminari wants to ask Shinsou— like why he always stays in the dorms over break and why he never talks about family— but Kaminari knows the answers would be harder than the question. Knows the answers would make him feel even worse about his eminent betrayal. And Kaminari's a bit selfish and worst of all he’s already in too deep. So he just smiles again, laces their fingers together and pulls Shinsou closer.
Shinsou holds him back, like Kaminari's important, and for a moment Kaminari pretends that all this stress over jobs and graduation isn't complete bullshit. That he's not just fooling himself. For a moment, wrapped in Shinsou's arms, he pretends that they'll move into that apartment together. He'll get to wake up to Shinsou's snores, and complain when Shinsou forgets to sleep at all. They'll get a cat or two, and they'll name one Aizawa, half as a joke, but mostly out of something genuine. He'll try learning to cook more than a frozen meal and accidentally set the stove on fire, and Shinsou will be annoyed, and maybe they'll fight. But Shinsou will forgive him. Shinsou will always forgive him: even when he acts like a fool, or drinks too much, or does something stupid on patrol. And he'll forgive Shinsou too.
Another petal lands on his cheek and he almost says something about this ghost of a future, but even he's not that cruel. Instead he nuzzles against Shinsou. All he can do now is make the most of the time they have.
And that night he wakes up to a loud ding and something nudging his shoulder.
“Phone loud.” Shinsou grumbles from beside him before turning to face the wall, knocking Kaminari lightly in the process. These beds really aren’t big enough for two people, he thinks sleepily.
He clumsily reaches for his phone, missing it the first few times, before finally peering blearily at the screen until he focuses. And then he jolts awake.