You were frozen, stuck trying to make sense of a completely nonsensical situation. There you were, kneeling in front of your ex-boyfriend’s old dresser, which had previously stored a massive engagement ring – presumably for quite some time – that you now were holding open before yourself. Across the room, your ex’s best friend pulled on an old t-shirt left behind, a curious expression starting to spread across his features. None of it pieced together in any logical manner. So, you sat there, unmoving and unbreathing.
“[Y/N]?” Kirishima asked, taking a few steps toward you. “Are you okay?” His voice freed you from your trance, spurring you to slam the ring box shut and quickly tuck it back into the drawer from which it had come, sliding it closed. Boosting up from the floor, you attempted the most casual smile you could manage, well aware that it was likely awkward and tense.
“Yeah, I’m good,” you managed, waving a hand dismissively. Kirishima looked like he was not buying it. “Just spaced out for a minute there.”
“What was that box?” Every muscle within you flexed. Simultaneously, your mind raced, struggling to come up with an answer that sounded even mildly plausible. For a moment, you stared at him blankly in a way that was definitely not suspicious.
“Oh, just Katsuki’s old class ring,” you answered as casually as you could compel yourself to. Waving your hand at him again, you hoped that the lie sounded even ten percent more convincing than it did to your own ears. Clearly, fibs were not your strong-suit. “I guess I’ll need to find a time to return it to him.”
“I can give it back to him, if you want.” Oh no. Oh God no. That was not how you planned for the conversation to go. You desperately needed to find some way to get yourself out of this situation, get Kirishima out of your home. You couldn’t handle having him around anymore.
“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Your voice shook. Stacking lies like this not only made you feel guilty to Kirishima, but it made you nervous that you’d be caught in one of them, leading you to have to explain the rest. “If you bring it back, he might ask why you were at my apartment.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He smiled reassuringly, taking a couple steps toward you. “We can just say you found it and asked me to return it. He knows we’re talking still, anyway.” The guilt was eating away at you, chewing through your heart as you clambered to find another way to reject his offer. Why was Kirishima so goddamn courteous all the time?
“No, really, it’s fine. His office is close to mine, so I can just leave it with one of the receptionists to give to him. They all know me anyway.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, definitely. Thanks for offering, though. I appreciate it.” You looked pointedly at your phone, pretending to gasp at the realization that it was, in fact, much later than you had initially thought. It was probably a pathetic excuse at an acting job, but your only hope that was it was too early in the day for Kirishima to catch on. “Woah, it’s already past eight? I’m supposed to be meeting with a friend in less than an hour.” You bit your lip and knit your brows. “I’m sorry to kick you out so early, but…” You trailed off in the hopes that he would pick up on the implication.
“It’s fine.” He collected his dirtied shirt from the floor and meandered toward the door. “Would you be interested in getting dinner sometime this week?”
“Yes!” you said enthusiastically. “I would love to!” And you absolutely would. It was probably the only completely truthful statement you had made since discovering the ring. After you dealt with this whole fiasco, you were going to put Bakugou out of your mind for a while, instead directing your attention to the man before you. Sure, you had a good bit of talking to do with your ex, but once that was through, you were not going to think about that relationship any more. The past was the past. Even if seeing the ring did hurt a bit. “Will you text or call me to let me know when you’re free?” Kirishima grinned at you, the same infectious smile that you couldn’t help but mirror back, even with the present circumstances.
The two of you made your way up to the front door, where Kirishima turned back to face you. With his messy hair spiked up in a dozen different directions and the clearly ill-fitted t-shirt, you couldn’t help but giggle. It was the most obvious walk-of-shame that you’d seen in a while.
“What are you laughing at?” he chuckled, leaning down to peer at your face.
“Nothing, you just don’t look very heroic right now.”
He raised his arms, giving himself at once over, and then turned to check out his face in the mirror. Eyes widening in surprise, he pushed around some of the crimson strands in a vain attempt to reset it. When his efforts bore no fruit, he simply sighed and laughed again.
“Guess I’ll just have to get home quickly then.”
“Would you at least like to run your head under the faucet to rinse out the gel?”
“As appealing as that sounds, I’ll pass. I don’t want to make you delay meeting your friend.” Your chest twinged at the reminder of your lie. The smile fell from your face for a moment, but you managed to revive it before Kirishima seemed to notice.
The door hinges squeaked slightly as you pulled the door open for him. Outside, the hallway was all but dead silent, quiet enough to hear the faint ding from the elevator landing on a different floor. It was Saturday after all, so few people were awake. You were well aware that many of the tenants on your floor were new money twenty-somethings who had built their own startups in unique fields, so most of them worked until late during the week and partied until early during the weekend. Some had probably only gotten home a few hours ago. Others, likely passed out somewhere else. Either way, the halls were abandoned.
“So, I’ll call you early next week to make plans?” Kirishima asked in a low voice, stepping through the entryway. He turned on a heel to look back at you as he spoke.
“I’m looking forward to it,” you answered. And you were – you really were – but you couldn’t bring yourself to continue the conversation, not when you had a diamond to return and an ex to berate.
Kirishima hovered in the doorway, leaning onto the edge of it with his left hand and cradling his t-shirt against his chest in his right. Slowly, he leaned down and pressed his lips against yours before giving one final goodbye and heading down the hall to catch the elevator. He turned one final time before making a sharp right, tossing you a small wave, and then he was gone.
As soon as he was out of sight, you heaved a sigh of relief. You weren’t quite sure what you would do now that he was gone, but one thing was certain: the ring had to go.
Staring up at the towering building, your breathing quickened at the thought of taking even one more step toward it. You had gone months, months avoiding Bakugou and yet here you were, planted in front of a place you’d spent numerous long nights in – a place you knew as well as your own home, frankly – with a velvet-wrapped nightmare boring a hole into your right pocket. Amazingly, the box hadn’t collapsed under the force of your grip. You could feel your fingers going numb from how tightly you had held it on the entire ride over.
As soon as Kirishima left, you had called Uraraka to see if she knew Bakugou’s schedule for the day, which had very quickly devolved into an incredibly awkward conversation.
“Uraraka-san, can I ask a weird favor of you? And can I also ask you to not tell anyone I asked?”
“Um… I guess so? It would depend on the favor, probably. What’s up?” Her tone was hesitant and suspicious, the pause before her response long as she considered her final answer.
“I need Katsuki’s schedule today.”
The wait for Uraraka to answer was painfully drawn out, sending you reeling with anxious thoughts of every possible response you could receive. Your chest felt like it would explode.
“I, uh, I need to return something he left at my apartment.”
“Why would you need his schedule for that?”
“So, I can give it to him in person.”
“Leave it with his receptionist.”
“I really need to be the one to hand it to him directly.”
“[Y/L/N]-san…” The line went quiet for a moment. “I don’t think either of you should be seeing each other without a buffer around. Bakugou-kun is finally getting over you and Kirishima said you’ve seemed happier the past couple weeks.” You found yourself clicking your tongue in frustration. Of course, Uraraka would be opposed to it, she and Bakugou were surprisingly amicable and she had razor-sharp intuition. She probably sensed that something was up. “How about I go with you to see him? I won’t intrude on conversation, just stand around and make sure no one starts yelling or kiss-”
“No!” you cut in. “No, no, I really need to be the only one there. Also, I’m not trying to get back together with him if that’s what you’re worried about.”
She went silent.
“I’m sorry, [Y/L/N]-san. I can’t give you his schedule knowing full-well what that meeting would do to both of you. Even if you say that it’ll be okay, I just don’t know if it actually will.”
“You have no idea.”
Click. You hung up, bitter and more frustrated than you had already been spending the morning. Either way, though, you were getting in to see Bakugou. So, you called up Kaminari instead.
“Really should have started with the dumber friend,” you mumbled to yourself, finally willing your right leg to take another step toward Bakugou’s office. You rarely spent time with Kaminari, but during the short encounters you had previously, he was far and away the most gullible out of that group. Which also made him easy to manipulate. A small inkling of guilt was burrowing into your chest for tricking him into giving you Bakugou’s schedule, but returning the ring was too important to be left to someone else.
Steeling your resolve, you slammed a hand against the swinging door, walking into the agency as confidently as you had when the two of you were dating. It was as if you had never left. The entryway was quieter than a typical hero agency, only the few staff members needed to deal with paperwork and two receptionists whose main jobs were to ward off anyone that didn’t work there. At this point, Bakugou certainly had the means to afford a larger staff, but with how poorly he got along with others, it was unlikely that he would hire anyone else. Let alone any sidekicks.
“[Y/N]-san?” You stomach leapt to your throat. Slowly, you twisted your head to look down at the wide-eyed receptionist you had come to know over the years.
“Hi, Rie-chan.” Forcing your fingers to uncurl from around the box, you pulled your hand from your pocket to give a small wave. “I’m just hear to drop off something of Katsuki’s. Shouldn’t be long. Is he in his office?”
“Um, yes, he is, but…” She glanced hesitantly at the other receptionist next to her, a young girl some ten years your junior whom you didn’t recognize. The girl didn’t say anything, just mirrored Rie’s concerned expression. “I thought the two of you broke up?”
“Yeah, we did. I just found something of his while I was cleaning yesterday and wanted to return it to him.”
“Oh, well then, please head on up. I will let Bakugou-san know you are coming.”
“I appreciate it.” You smiled at the pair, giving them small nods before turning to the elevator down the hall.
Bakugou’s agency was not as large and luxurious as Kirishima’s, primarily because it was not designed to welcome any guests. Its purpose was practicality alone. So, once you took the elevator to Bakugou’s office on the third floor, you were greeted by the same generic décor that had been there for years. The room’s focal point was Bakugou’s massive desk which had dozens of villain records meticulously organized in folders, some spread across the surface, others in cabinets on either side. Aside from that, there were few personal items. Only a handful of decorations – most of which you had forced him to put up – and a minimalist couch that Bakugou had spent many nights sleeping on with a glass coffee table before it.
The only thing missing was the small photo of you he had previously kept next to his computer monitor. It was a simple thing, just an old picture from a vacation to Australia in a cheap, plain black frame, but if was displayed so prominently in the past that its absence was striking. It had been embarrassing when Bakugou first tried to lay it out. You couldn’t help but remember how you had yelled, trying to pry it from his hands and discard it. “Let me have a fucking picture of my girlfriend. It won’t kill you.” He had said. Why did it hurt to think of then?
“Why are you here?” Bakugou’s voice broke your trance. It was terse and clipped, the same way he spoke to strangers, but you could hear a hint of emotion that he was fighting to hold back.
“I think you know.”
“Don’t be so fucking cryptic.” Wow, this was going swimmingly so far. “But…I assume you found the ring.”
“I found the ring.” Marching up to his desk, you slammed the box atop a stack of folders right within his eyeline. “You can have it back. What was the point of even leaving it behind?”
“Because I wanted you to know. I bought the ring weeks before your trip and had been planning to ask once you got back. I just never could find the right time.”
“Great, well now I know and you can have it back.” You shook your head. “I should have just sold it instead. What did it go for two million?”
“Two point five, actually. And you can sell it if you want. If should have been yours anyway.”
“It’s not mine. You never proposed. I never said yes. It means nothing to me.” Your tone was like steel, no place that would yield any ground, nothing that would bend even slightly.
“[Y/N], if I hadn’t…if I hadn’t cheated, would you have said yes?” And with that, the steel melted. Something about the way he paused and wrinkled his brow, the hesitation in his voice just softened your heart. When you summoned the energy to respond, your voice sounded like his, slow and reluctant with a hint of something more, something like lingering affection.
“Of course, I would have.” His expression cracked. “But you already knew that. You never would have bought the ring if you didn’t.” If someone asked what you were feeling at that moment, you would have no words to describe it, too many emotions swirling together in a whirlwind of confusion. “It’s probably for the best though, that you never got a chance. Imagine if this same situation had happened twenty years down the line.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.” For the first time since you broke up, Bakugou agreed with you. Maybe Uraraka was right and Bakugou really was getting over you. And if that was the case, why did your chest sting when you thought about it?