That summer brings Katsuki the colour red.
Red in the form of a checkered apron and neon sign the shape of a coffee cup.
Red in the flush of Uraraka’s cheeks when she coyly demands one sweltering day in an empty restaurant, “Don’t be mad at me,” as she holds his phone up to him.
The red of the dating app logo that makes him scowl and last but not least, the bright, vibrant, heinously offensive, fire truck red that is Kirishima Eijirou’s fucking hair. Cursive font declares them a match and suggests Katsuki send a message in greeting, punctuated by a winking emoji.
“No,” is all he has to say about that, tone firm and expression scathing as he snatches his phone back from his giggling, meddling coworker.
Katsuki supposes his life has been somewhat dull as of late.
The monotony of studying for exams gave way to screening calls from his mother as he restlessly searched for something to keep from letting her convince him to come home for the summer. The ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the window of Round Face’s family owned diner and the job as their newest barista had been a momentary relief, but boredom quickly found him in the monotony of a summer day job too.
He lives off takeout mostly at the moment, because walking across town to the supermarket to actually buy groceries and make himself food feels like too much of a chore during the heatwaves threatening to break the fragile air-con system of his apartment. He hides away in his room most of the time, too, a desperate attempt to avoid seeing his half-and-half flatmate making out with fucking Deku on their sofa.
Or so he tells himself.
Katsuki sleeps, goes to work, gets food on the way home and shuts himself in his room for the rest of the night. Rinse and repeat. He spends his evenings reading, or watching youtube, occasionally making progress on his summer homework and usually tossing and turning once his lights are out until the early hours of the morning.
At some point, Uraraka starts hounding him to get out more.
“Deku-kun’s worried about you,” she says, as if that’s going to be any kind of motivation for Katsuki. “He’s been over almost every night this week and says he hasn’t seen you come out of your room once.”
“He’s not there to see me,” Katsuki seethes. “And I definitely don’t want to leave my room if it’s just to see him and fucking IcyHot sucking face.”
“But aren’t you bored, Bakugou?” Uraraka persists. She’s definitely not doing what she’s meant to be doing, standing over Katsuki with her hands on her hips and a pout on her lips as he slaves away at the gum stuck to a table. “I’m worried about you too, you know. Aren’t you lonely?”
Yes, his brain supplies.
“Fuck no,” he hisses back.
Uraraka huffs and folds her arms.
“Fine, holy shit, yes I am bored.” And he just knows she’s squinting now at the way he ignored the last part of what she said, but there’s no fucking way he’s ever going to agree to that. “But it’s summer, summer is always boring, what the fuck do you want me to do about it?”
She doesn’t say anything more on the subject then, opting instead to walk away and get back to her own cleaning tasks in the near-empty restaurant.
But two days later, Katsuki’s phone goes missing. And a day after that, the little round-faced twerp hands it back to him with a smirk.
So sure, his life has been pretty fucking dull as of late, he’s more likely to give in to that fact than anything else. It’s decidedly not the other thing Uraraka had suggested that has him hesitating when he goes to delete the dating app later on that night.
And when this- this fucking- Kirishima Eijirou with the bright fucking red hair in his profile picture sends him a message at quarter to two in the morning, it’s only because Katsuki is tired and bored that he decides to reply.
Kirishima (1:47): hi katsuki! is it alright if i call you that? :D
Bakugou (1:52): No, shitty hair, just call me Bakugou for fuck’s sake.
Kirishima (1:53): aw, you don’t like my hair, katsuki? :( i think it’s pretty manly ^.^
Kirishima is persistent, even after Katsuki tells him his coworker (he refuses to acknowledge Angelface as a friend after what she's done) signed him up without his permission and he has no interest in pursuing anything romantic on the app.
Kirishima (2:08): that’s okay! we can just get to know each other as friends! everybody could always use more friends :D
Katsuki disagrees with that sentiment, but continues the conversation anyway. It’s a good deviation from the tedium of Katsuki’s everyday life right now, and though the way the other boy texts is irritating at first, he can’t help but be swept into the upbeat rhythm their messaging takes on. It starts mostly as just teasing and insults - at least from Katsuki’s end - but Kirishima eventually persuades him into a game of twenty questions, which then just turns into getting to know each other. Katsuki tries not to be forthcoming with his answers, keeping them as short and impersonal as possible. Kirishima, however, replies in big long paragraphs filled with horrible punctuation and numerous emojis decorating the tangents he goes on about his hobbies, his family, his aspirations.
Kirishima is younger than Katsuki by some months, birthday in October. He’s also the baby of his family, with two older sisters and happily married parents. He’s just transferred to Yuuei to study geology in the fall, but decided to move to the city and get to know the place over summer. His best friend is someone called Ashido Mina, who was already majoring in dance at Yuuei and who he has now moved in with. He prefers cats over dogs, and most people find that surprising for some reason. His favourite kind of ice cream is mint chocolate chip. He goes to the gym a lot.
It’s all useless information to him, and Katsuki expects to forget it all in less than a week’s time when Kirishima forgets about him. Or when he deletes the app. Whichever comes first.
Eventually though, Katuski’s eyes droop and both of their replies start to slow down. He glances at the time on his alarm clock and grimaces.
Bakugou (3:36): Okay shitty hair, I don’t know about you but I have to fucking work in the morning, so I’m going to fucking go to sleep now.
Kirishima (3:40): yeah i should probably be getting some sleep now too haha~ goodnight katsuki!! sweet dreams, and thank you for talking with me ^.^
Katsuki scoffs and locks his phone without bothering to respond, finding himself slipping easily to sleep for maybe the first time in months.
And if there’s a smile tugging at his lips when he sees Kirishima has wished him a good morning and to have fun at “wherever you work!!” when he wakes up - well… nobody has to know about that.
In fact, nobody has to know about any of it.
He manages to keep his messaging with Kirishima on the downlow for three whole days. Todoroki doesn’t ask him who he’s texting as they quietly munch on cereal across from each other in the early morning. And it’s a weekend, so Uraraka has enough customers to tend to that she doesn’t notice Katsuki’s sly texting behind the coffee machine. He sees the way Deku’s gaze lingers on the notifications lighting up his phone when he drags Katsuki out to have dinner with him and the IcyHot fucker, but at least he has enough brains to not mention it.
It’s Kaminari who ruins it all in the end, the fucker.
Kaminari is the barista that takes over the night shift when Katsuki is finished for the day, and of course the nosy bastard doesn’t have the sense of self-preservation to stop him from picking up Katsuki’s phone from by the coffee machine when it buzzes as he’s distracted clocking out.
“Kirishima wants to know if you wanna get lunch together tomorrow,” he reads from the screen idly, voice carrying lazily over to Katsuki and making him freeze.
There’s a beat of silence, before-
“What?!” Uraraka squeals from across the restaurant.
“Who’s Kirishima?” another familiar voice chimes in weakly.
Katsuki turns around with a scowl plastered cautiously on his face. He meets Uraraka’s sharp stare, sees Kaminari’s mild curiosity, and notes that fucking Deku is hovering by the diner entrance regarding him with a calculating expression.
“He’s nobody,” Katsuki growls, stomping forward to Kaminari and grabbing his phone back. “Who gave you fucking permission to read my messages, Sparky? Because it sure as fuck wasn’t me.”
Kaminari shrugs, a calm smirk on his face. “You left your phone right there, dude. That’s as good as permission.”
“Is he who you’ve been texting the last couple days?” Deku asks softly, something in his tone that makes Katsuki uncomfortable. It seems to break Uraraka out of her stupor though, because next thing he knows she storms behind the counter and punches him on the shoulder, hard.
“Ow, what the fuck, Round Face?” he exclaims, rubbing his arm and glaring down at her.
“You talk to the guy from the dating app I signed you up for and you didn’t tell me?!” She sounds far more offended than Katsuki thinks she has any right to be.
Deku chokes on his spit. “Kacchan? A- a dating app?”
Kaminari chuckles and mutters, “Kacchan.”
“Fuck!” he yells out loud this time, squeezing his eyes shut. “Can everybody get off my fucking back for one goddamn second? Jesus Christ, is nothing allowed to be fucking private anymore?”
Luckily he’s saved by the bell above the door ringing - a family of four troop in past Deku, who steps out of their way with an apology. Restaurant no longer void of customers, Uraraka gives Katsuki a withering glare before she grabs some menus and makes her way over to the booth they settle into. She schools her face into a cheery smile as she greets them.
Katsuki rolls his eyes and avoids Deku’s as he turns and heads out back to get changed and grab his bag.
It’s only once he’s safe in the staff changing room with the door locked behind him that he fully realises what that dunce face actually said and he scrambles to read the message Kirishima has sent him.
Kirishima (4:02): so mina tells me there’s this really great barbecue place downtown and i was wondering if maybe you would wanna go with me for lunch tomorrow if you’re free? :3
He should just say no. It’s not like he ever expected to still be talking to Kirishima days after replying to his initial message. The guy is naive and mildly entertaining at best, childish and irritating at worst. He’s just something Katsuki needs as a distraction, nothing more. He sure as fuck doesn’t want to meet the guy for lunch - and he has work tomorrow anyway. He should just say no.
Instead, he types something else.
Bakugou (4:11): You don’t even know me.
And it feels true when he presses send. He’s heard a lot of useless facts about Kirishima, but he knows he’s given away far less details about himself in all of their conversations.
The response comes quickly.
Kirishima (4:12): sure, but that’s kind of the point of being friends, katsuki! i want to know you :’)
Katsuki frowns. Types out a simple “Why?”
Bakugou (4:12): I have work tomorrow.
Kirishima (4:13): well, what about dinner then? ^.^ or would that be too date-y for you, mr katsuki i’m-not-looking-for-romance bakugou? ;)
Katsuki scoffs and throws his phone down to actually get changed, only replying once he’s heading back through the kitchen with his bag over his shoulder.
Bakugou (4:15): I’m not fucking meeting you, Shitty Hair.
He tucks the phone away in his back pocket and takes a deep breath before he rounds the corner.
Uraraka is back behind the counter already, writing up the docket for the family’s order, and Deku has moved to sit on a stool by Kaminari. All three of them look up at him and he feels his face heat up. Choosing to ignore the two he can for now, he walks around the counter and lightly cuffs Deku around the back of his head.
“Are you here for a reason, shithead?”
There’s something amused in Deku’s wide eyes now as he nods. “I came to walk you home, actually. I figured I would stop by on my way to see Shouto.”
Katsuki makes a show of rolling his eyes. “Fucking great. Let’s get going then.”
Deku nods and stands at the same time Uraraka calls “Order in!” to the kitchen staff as she pins her docket. Then she spins and points right at Katsuki.
“You and I are talking about this when you get in tomorrow, you hear me?”
“Fucking whatever, Angelface,” he grumbles, flipping her off.
“Bye Uraraka-kun, Kaminari-kun,” Deku chuckles good naturedly. They chime back similar farewells as Katsuki storms out of the diner ahead of the green-haired boy.
The diner is a good fifteen minute walk from Katsuki and Todoroki’s apartment - plenty of time for Deku to ask him about Kirishima. To his credit though, they walk side by side in silence for about a minute before the damn breaks.
“So Kirishima, huh? You met him on a dating app, Kacchan?”
“Remember the days when you never would have been fucking bold enough to ask me shit like that,” Katsuki grumbles, glancing at the grin on Deku’s face.
Deku only nudges him gently with his elbow, a physical prod to get him to open up. And yeah, Katsuki can barely remember those days either - the both of them have grown up a lot in the last five years. Katsuki was horrible to Deku when they were kids, he’ll admit it. But it helps that Deku has wholeheartedly forgiven him enough to stay his friend even now, confident in his role as maybe Katsuki’s best friend.
Not that he’d ever fucking say that out loud.
He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Uraraka signed me up for the fucking dating app.”
“But you didn’t delete it,” Deku points out.
“No, I didn’t fucking delete it.”
“Because-” Katsuki cuts himself off, biting down on his lip for a moment to think. “Because,” he starts again, slowly, “Kirishima messaged me and I decided I needed something else to do than just sit and fucking stew the whole summer.”
Deku nods, understanding that at least. “So then, do you like Kirishima?”
“No,” Katsuki says vehemently. “The first fucking thing I told Shitty Hair was that I wasn’t on the app looking for anything. He hasn’t stopped bugging me to be his fucking friend ever since.”
“Shitty Hair,” Deku mumbles under his breath. He looks at his feet now, contemplative. At least he doesn’t start muttering up a storm, though he looks damn near close to it.
“...What?” Katsuki snaps, squinting at the expression on the shorter boy’s face. Deku looks back up at him, and opens his mouth to say something before he’s cut off by the buzz coming from Katsuki’s back pocket.
And Katsuki is going to ignore it, he really is, but the streets are too quiet and Deku clamps his mouth shut, looking up at him expectantly now.
“Fucking hell,” he grumbles, pulling the phone out to look at the message.
Kirishima (4:27): i do have a name you know, katsuki. would it really hurt you to call me kirishima every now and then? :(
“Fuck off, Deku!” he shoves him from where he’s reading over his shoulder. Deku stumbles a little, clearly surprised by the use of his given name. “The fucker’s called me that the whole time we’ve been talking. Which, by the fucking way, has only been a few days.”
“But.. you let him call you that?” Deku asks.
Katsuki shrugs, typing out his reply. He’d only asked Kirishima to call him Bakugou the first time, and Kirishima had kept on calling him Katsuki. It doesn’t really bug him since they’re never going to meet anyway.
Bakugou (4:28): Yeah, it fucking would, hair for brains.
Kirishima (4:28): oooh, well that’s a new one at least! still a no to dinner though? >.>
Bakugou (4:29): No way in hell.
“I think it’s good you’re making friends, Kacchan,” Deku says carefully once the phone is away again. Katsuki looks at him out of the corner of his eye. “Not everybody has the patience for your, um… prickly exterior.”
“Then they’re fucking wimps,” Katsuki huffs.
“All I’m saying is, maybe it would do you some good to meet Kirishima. He seems like the kind of friend you might want to hold onto,” Deku advises.
But Katsuki doesn’t need to waste his time thinking about that. He’s never meeting Kirishima, and that’s final. They barely know each other, he’s only talking to him to pass the time, and for all he knows Kirishima could be a murderer.
He tells Deku as such, ranting about it for the rest of their walk to the apartment - but under the stare of a boy he’s known since he was in diapers, his reasons not to meet with Kirishima suddenly start to sound a lot more like excuses instead.