“We’re back!!” Kirishima’s excited voice rings throughout the clearing as he makes his appearance, deer carcass slung over his shoulders. Bakugo and Deku appear behind him, each carrying some sort of dead animal.
“Welcome back!” Ochako calls out as she drops her bundle of firewood on the ground and takes a seat beside it. Similar calls of welcome sound from the other side of the clearing where Todoroki and Iida sit, sharpening their weapons. “How was it? What did you get?”
“It was great!” Deku exclaims as he walks over to the fire to set down his handful of rabbits. “We got two deers !!”
“We?” Bakugo sneers, dropping his deer unceremoniously on the ground.
“Er, well, Kacchan and Kirishima got two deers. I only got these rabbits and it was because of trap we set up,” Deku amends, rubbing his head sheepishly. “But it was so cool! You can really tell that they’ve been doing this a long time. The way they predicted that deer’s movement was so precise and smooth and the kill shot was executed so cleanly I’m sure tha--”
“Okay okay!” Ochako quickly interrupts, knowing that if she didn’t, he could go on forever. “How about we get started on cleaning and skinning them so we can get dinner going?
It’s an abrupt command that cuts across the air and suddenly Bakugo appears directly in front of her. He drops heavily to the ground and props his arms on his knees, staring at her with his intense ruby eyes. “Heal me,” he demands, flipping over his arm to reveal a long gash on his forearm.
“Oh, you got hurt?” Kirishima asks, peering curiously at his lord. “That’s weird, I didn’t se--”
“Just fucking heal me already ya damn witch,” Bakugo snaps, cutting his dragon off.
Ochako’s little eyebrows furrow as she shuffles closer to the abrasive blond. “I told you, I’m not a witch, I’m a mage,” she argues, taking his arm in her grasp. He was a dick but she wasn’t gonna not heal him. She had a duty to her group, she couldn’t just leave an ailing person, not when she was the only one in their party with healing capabilities.
“Same fucking difference.”
Although she was tempted to.
She inspects the wound with careful eyes, taking note of the size and depth. It didn’t seem too bad. It took up his entire forearm, stretching from the corner of his elbow to his wrist, but it was shallow and bled a lot. It would definitely leave a nasty scar if she didn’t heal him.
“Alright,” she mutters, taking a moment to center herself and realign her purpose. Her hands cradle his forearm, her fingertips brushing against his skin with the gentlest of touches, and she closes her eyes.
A deep breath.
And she feels her energy well up inside, like a warm fire, gently coaxed to rise. It fills her body to the very brim, bright and playful, and with an exhale, she encourages it to spill over and into the wound. In her mind’s eye, she can see the skin mend, stitching itself together and sealing so that there is no evidence of injury at all.
“There,” Ochako breathes and she slowly opens her eyes to examine her work. The gash is gone and in its place, fresh, unblemished skin, with only the faintest wisps of magic on its surface. “All done,” she smiles, giving his arm a small pat.
“Hn,” Bakugo grunts. He takes his arm back and stares at it for a second and Ochako looks on curiously. Did she miss something? Was something wrong? But he stands without another word and walks away. He immediately rejoins Kirishima who has already begun skinning the first deer.
She lets out an exhausted sigh.
She’s not sure how Deku knows the Prince of Naur Nún, the Great Dragon Tribe of the South, or how he even convinced him to join their rag tag group, but he and his second in command have been with their group for nearly a month now.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning, considering how rude and abrasive Bakugo was. He picked fights with the boys constantly and hardy even gave her a glance. It wasn’t until she had to forcibly pull him and Deku apart and pin him down with a gravity spell that he even spoke to her. She’s not sure if it’s respect but it’ssomething .
It might be wishful thinking, but Ochako likes to think that Bakugo has warmed up to them a little.
“OI YOU SHITTY NERD THAT’S NOT HOW YOU FUCKING SKIN A RABBIT!!”
Just a little.
“Damn,” Kirishima whistles, “That’s a nasty one. How’d you get that?”
“Tch,” Bakugo sneers, “There was a fucking xiphiidae in the river. It swam up while I was bathing.”
Ochako tunes them out as she works on cleaning the bloody gash on Bakugo’s calf. His boot sits next to her and his pant leg is rolled up to the knee. She methodically wipes at the afflicted area with a wet rag.
Kirishima was right though, it was a nasty cut.
“Argh, fuck, ” Bakugo hisses when she presses the cloth against his wound. “That fucking hurt Round Face.”
Ochako raises an eyebrow at him. “What, the great mighty warrior can’t handle a little pain?”
Kirishima snickers as Bakugo rolls his eyes.
It’s become sort of a routine now. At the end of the day, Bakugo will usually come up to her, strength and valor personified, and sit down, wordlessly asking her to heal him. It fills her with a certain amount of pride to know that she can help someone like him. She’s not sure why, but there’s something about his approval and his respect that makes her inexplicably happy.
Ochako takes a calming breath and the magic she wields comes naturally as air. Within seconds, the wound is sealed and her lips curl into a self-satisfied smile.
“There,” she sighs, “Good as new.”
Bakugo bends his knee so he can inspect her work. “Not fucking bad,” he remarks, running a finger against where the wound used to be.
“Not bad?” She scoffs prettily, “I’d like to see you do better. Clearly, I’m the best around here.”
He chuckles softly, a sound she’s so unused to hearing that it makes her heart stutter. “Yeah,” he agrees, “You really fucking are.”
He stands up slowly, muscles flexing underneath golden skin, and for some reason, Ochako can’t say a single word. He carefully wiggles his ankle, testing out his range of motion, and when it seems like he’s satisfied, he nods at her. “Thanks,” he says, and he walks away.
Ochako stares at his back, dazed.
Who knew a smirk would look so good on him?
Deku suddenly appears at her side, dragging her attention away. “Hey! Did you heal Kacchan again?”
“H-huh? Oh, yeah.”
Deku looks over to his childhood friend with a curious look on his face. “He’s been getting hurt an awful lot hasn’t he?”
“Oh, I suppose?” Ochako says, stretching out her legs in front of her. “It’s good healing practice though! Did you just get back from the river?” She asks, taking note of his flattened, wet hair.
“Yeah! It’s hot so I figured a dip in the river would be nice.”
“Ah, it’s a good thing you didn’t see any xiphiidae, that’s why I had to heal Bakugo.”
“ Xiphiidae ?”
“Mhmm,” she answers distractedly as she realizes the sun is close to setting. “Oh shoot, I have to go set up the barrier spell before nightfall. Gotta go!” She scoops up her staff and hops to her feet. “Be right back!” Ochako calls out as she hustles to the edge of their camp.
She runs off so quickly that she doesn’t hear Deku mutter to himself with a bewildered expression.
“But I thought xiphiidae only lived in saltwater….”
Now that she thinks about it, maybe Deku had a point. Bakugo was getting hurt an awful lot.
It’s not like she means to question his abilities, she’s sure that warriors get hurt a lot. But this much? Hell,she didn’t even get hurt this much and she’s nowhere near his skill level.
If Ochako didn’t know any better, she’d think that Bakugo was getting hurt...on purpose.
Which was ridiculous, and it made no sense! Why in the world would he get hurt on purpose? What purpose would that serve?
But in the past week alone, he’d come to her for a scrape on his bicep, a dislocated finger (that she had to pop back in, much to his chagrin), a slice across his palm, and a sprained ankle.
And yet none of them, were as difficult as this one.
“Oi! Fucking pay attention to what you’re doing!!” Bakugo snaps and Ochako immediately yelps.
“Sorry sorry!” She exclaims. She hurriedly turns her attention back to his injury and she feels her subsiding blush return full force. The gash wasn’t big, hell it wasn’t even deep, and yet this was probably her hardest injury to heal, to date.
Ochako has healed plenty of injuries before, in all different places, arms, chest, leg, groin. Once, she cut open a man’s pants to get to his thigh injury without blinking an eye.
So why, why , was she getting so worked up about a little gash on Bakugo’s side??
Ochako swallows as she presses her hands against smooth, fire warmed skin, and wills her magic to rise.
Was it because of his amazingly defined abs? Was it his surprisingly soft, bronzed skin riddled with scars that were evidence of his physical prowess?
Or maybe, maybe, it was because the gash dipped teasingly down into the waistband of his pants and dear Mother of Heavens, if she chased that path with her finger tips--
“Uuuwaah, you’re done!” Ochako abruptly pulls her hands away. His abs flex in response and she squeezes her eyes shut, fervently willing her blush away. She yanks her magic back into herself and it bubbles inside her, teasing her playfully.
“Hah? Already?” Bakugo growls at her and she cracks open an eye to peer at him but his face is turned away. Was it just her imagination or did he sound almost...disappointed? The prince abruptly stands and makes a 180, vigorously rubbing at his face. “Thanks,” he mutters, shooting her a brief glance before he walks off with a spin of his cape.
Ochako stares after him wide eyed.
Had he...been blushing?
It’s a nice, balmy evening when Deku approaches the campfire with a concerned look on his face. All of them are gathered around the fire minus one Bakugo, who had gone to the lake to take a bath.
“Deku?” Ochako questions, seeing the troubled look on her friend’s face. “Is something wrong?”
“Guys,” he says solemnly, “I think something’s wrong with Kacchan.”
“What??” Ochako exclaims and beside her, Kirishima sits up and scrambles over to Deku.
“What happened?” He asks urgently, “What’s wrong with him?” There’s a worried crease between his eyebrows and Ochako can see that his entire frame is tense. Even Todoroki and Iida look at Deku with concerned looks on their faces. Everyone in their group was strong but Bakugo was one of the strongest and if something was wrong, it could be dire for their little group.
“Well,” Deku hesitantly begins. “At first I wasn’t sure I saw correctly, and then I didn’t quite believe it...but I think something’s seriously wrong with Kacchan. Earlier today he...he...he ran into a tree!”
And then Kirishima starts laughing.
“T-this is serious! I think something’s wrong!” Deku yells, flailing his arms around as Kirishima cackles loudly, falling backwards onto the ground. “I don’t think he realized I was there but he just plowed straight into a tree and came away all bloody!”
“Was he possessed?” Iida asks, his face dark with concern.
“Perhaps there’s something wrong with his equilibrium,” Todoroki muses.
“Was it something we ate? Was it those mushrooms we thought were sketchy?” Ochako clasps her hands as she thinks back to the past 24 hours. She’s already trying to figure out if she has the healing capabilities to fix Bakugo. “Kirishima, this is serious!” Ochako scolds at the laughing redhead who’s laughing so hard he’s holding his sides.
“Aaaaah man,” Kirishima finally sighs, giggling to himself. “I can’t believe I thought it was something serious. Bakugo’s fine, don’t worry about it,” he says, waving a flippant hand at them.
“But if he’s running into trees then--”
“I said it’s fine,” Kirishima interrupts Iida and he contentedly tucks his hands behind his head. “He’s just being a little stupid, that’s all.”
Deku and Ochako share a look.
“U-um, what do you mean by...stupid?” Deku ventures carefully.
“You know, dumb? Dense? Like that.”
Ochako laughs nervously. Could subjects talk about royalty like that? She’s pretty sure it’s considered treason somewhere but maybe they’re that good of friends. They were just lucky Bakugo wasn’t here to hear all of this.
“I think we get it,” Ochako says, eyes darting past the trees just in case an angry dragon prince came stomping in. “But what does running into trees have anything to do with being stupid?”
Kirishima heaves this long, exasperated sigh as if the whole weight of the world rests upon his broad, tanned shoulders. “Well, if someone would’ve just done what I told him to, he wouldn’t be acting so dumb. Just a short conversation! A few words, yanno, quick. But nooo , he’s resorted to this. The great Dragon of the South, crowned prince of Naur Nún , running into trees.”
“I’m not sure we follow…” She says slowly.
“Look.” Kirishima abruptly sits back up and he shoves his face into the air before her. Ochako reels backwards at the invasion of personal space but his bright golden, reptilian eyes stop her from getting too far. “Haven’t you noticed that you’ve been healing him a lot? Like, a lot? Always cuts and scrapes, all shallow, none particularly life threatening, just inconvenient at worst?”
Ochako blinks her wide brown eyes. “U-uh, yes?”
And then Kirishima spins around to shove his face equally as close to Deku’s face who nearly falls over at the intrusion. “And Deku! Haven’t you noticed that he never gets injured while hunting or fighting, he’s too good for that of course. But when we get back, he mysteriously has a wound that needs healing?”
Deku nods vigorously. “I’ve noticed that actually and I thought it was odd!”
“Wait,” Todoroki interrupts. “Are you saying that he’s injuring himself on purpose? So Ochako can heal him?”
“Why would he do something so reckless?” Iida mutters as he strokes his chin.
“It’s obvious ain’t it?” Kirishima shrugs, scooting back to his side of the circle.
“Obvious?” Ochako whispers faintly. The dots are all there, waiting for her to connect them but she can’t. Or she won’t? Because it’s not possible right? There’s just no way!
“You,” Kirishima points at her, “My little mage, have captured the attention of our very own dragon prince.”
Ochako stares at him shock because first of all, no. No? No no no. There’s no way.
“Do you mean to say Bakugo is romantically interested in Ochako?” Iida asks, eyes widening in realization.
“N-no no, I’m sure that’s not wh--”
“Yep!” Kirishima grins toothily.
“Ehh?” Ochako presses her hands against her rapidly reddening cheeks. “Romantically??” She squeaks out.
Deku smacks his fist into his palm. “Oh, it all makes sense!”
“Doesn’t it?” Kirishima nods sagely. “Fighting, swordsmanship, wielding explosions. Our prince was trained in everything except the art of pursuing a girl, apparently.”
“Isn’t it a little sad?” Todoroki contemplates, “Surely he could’ve come up with something better than hurting himself.”
“This is coming from the guy who called for his beloved knight to put out a small kitchen fire. You, he who controls fire and ice.
“Please Midoriya, stop.”
“Okay wait wait waait,” Ochako intervenes. “You can’t possibly be serious! Bakugo? Interested in me??”
“What’s unbelievable about that?” Kirishima cocks his head, eyes peering at her guilelessly.
“W-well,” Ochako wrings her hands as her gaze drops to the ground. “It’s just….well, it just can’t be true. I mean, c’mon, he’s this great, powerful prince and I’m just, just--”
“Just what? A strong mage that specializes in celestial magic, a magic only a few have dared to try? A powerful healer that any party would be lucky to have?” Kirishima speaks with no hesitation behind his words and she can feel the strength in his belief.
“Ochako, you are strong,” Deku places a scarred hand over her clasped ones. “You’re strong and you’re kind, that’s what makes you so great.”
She clenches her hands underneath his and sighs. She knows they’re right and she knows she’s strong, why else did she agree to go on this mission with them? But there’d always be always be that small voice in the back of her head that said she wasn’t good enough, that she wasn’t anything special.
“We wouldn’t have made it this far without you Ochako,” Deku says and behind him, the others nod wholeheartedly in agreement. “You’re incredible, please don’t think otherwise.”
His words make her heart swell with love and appreciation and her magic dances underneath her skin, like a fine buzz that makes her fingertips tingle. Her cheeks are flushed with joy and she absently rubs at them. “T-thank you, that means a lot,” she mumbles shyly.
“Yeah besides, do you really think Bakugo would be interested in someone weak or frail? Kirishima laughs. “You’re super strong! That’s why he wants to court ya!”
“C-c-c-court?!?” Ochako squeals. “Whoa whoa there, you said he liked me, not court??”
“Well of course he’d wanna court you,” Kirishima picks at his teeth with a finely sharpened claw, “You’re the first girl I’ve ever seen him interested in, I’d wager it’s pretty serious.”
“B-but, he, aaa, huh??”
“You know, I think you’re right,” Deku rubs his chin, “Even when we were younger he never had an interest in courting or marriage.”
“I guess the big question now is,” Kirishima begins, leveling her with a serious look, “What are you gonna do about his affection?”
“O-oh.” Ochako lets the question sink in. What was she gonna do about it? She never once thought Bakugo, of all people, would be interested in her. This situation had never occurred to her, and now that it was happening, what in the world was she gonna do? “I-I don’t know,” she says slowly.
“Well do you like him back? Do you think he’s attractive?” Deku asks.
Ochako flails a bit. “A-ah, I don’t know! I mean, I’ve always thought he was attractive of course, it’s Bakugo!”
“The girls in my kingdom call him ‘spicy,” Todoroki deadpans.
“But like him??” Ochako fights the urge to cover her face in embarrassment and settles for groaning loudly, much the boys’ amusement. “I guess I’ve always admired him and thought he was strong. He respects me and puts a lot of faith in what I say and that makes me feel...good. It makes me want to be better,” she admits. “But like him?? I dont know…”
“Well you should figure it out soon,” Kirishima advises. “I doubt he’ll be satisfied with this ruse for long. He’s a dragon, he’s greedy and he wants your attention, I just wonder what he’ll do next.”
Ochako sighs and plays with the fabric of her skirt.
“I wonder indeed.”
What he does, is actually, nothing, which is surprising considering who he is, and it frustrates her almost as much as it clearly frustrates him. There’s been so many times where he’s looked at her with this glint in his eye, like there’s something on the tip of his tongue that he wants to say, but every single time, he bites it back and there’s nothing.
She knows she shouldn’t push him, but heavens is she tempted.
Now that she knows, it was so obvious. How did she miss it before? He always came to her at the end of the day, always gave her the best cuts of meat, and although he always yelled at her, she realizes that it was his way of showing his concern.
Ochako wants to call him out but then what? What is she gonna do? She hasn’t come to a conclusion about her feelings yet and she doesn’t want to give him the wrong idea, but she’s tired of this weird tension between them.
“Hey Round Face,” Bakugo drops into a crouch in front of her and waves a hand in front of her face. “Where ya spacing off to, huh?”
“H-huh?” Ochako meets his expectant gaze and shakes her head. “Oh, nothing, sorry! Just..thinking about stuff.” Her eyes drop down and of course, she sees a particularly nasty gash on the outside of his upper arm. She inwardly sighs.
Did he run into a tree again? Or maybe he did it with a rock? The healer side of her hates the idea of him hurting himself just to spend time with her but the other side wants to grab him and shake him because who would be so stupid??
“Give me your arm,” she commands, not even bothering with niceties. She takes his arm and practically tugs him over to her and he grunts in response.
“The fuck is wrong with you today, why are you so pissy?” He scowls at her.
Ochako grinds her teeth and tries to center herself. “Nothing’s wrong, I just have a lot on my mind,” she mutters. Seriously, how could one person be so emotionally dense? Maybe he didn’t like her? He was so rude.
She takes a breath and tries to quell her frustration or else it’d be difficult for her to control her magic. She always had issues controlling her emotions, she felt too much too strongly, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing when it came to wielding magic, but it made healing magic a little difficult. Healing required a calm mind and soul and intense focus. It took a lot to reconnect blood vessels, magic pathways, and stitch together skin.
But as she gently coaxes her magic up, it rumbles like a stormy ocean, restless and anxious.
Ochako blows a stray hair out of her face in frustration and Bakugo’s eyebrows furrow.
“What’s the matter Round Face? Can’t heal or what?” He asks and Ochako huffs lightly.
“No, it’s just taking a little more focus than usual, that’s all,” she mutters, closing her eyes shut.
“Did you fucking overwork yourself again?” He berates, his growl cutting into her focus. “What did we say about not tiring yourself out? Did you even fucking eat?”
“I did eat!” She snaps, eyes opening to glare at him. “And it’s not that! I’m fine!”
“Ya don’t fucking look fine!” Bakugo yells and she feels his hand clench. “What good is a healer is she’s too tired to fucking heal, don’t be dumb!”
It spills out before she can help it.
“At least I’m not dumb enough to get hurt on purpose just because I can’t confess my feelings!”
The whole entire camp is silent. Even Deku and the rest of the boys have frozen, staring at them with mixed expressions of horror.
His reaction is predictable. Bakugo yanks his arm out of her hands, like he touched fire, and snarls at her. “ Haah ? The fuck are you talking about?” His face is twisted and his body is tense but there’s a certain glint in his eyes that tells her he’s feeling vulnerable. That she hit the mark.
When did she become so proficient in reading his nuances?
“Look, I kn--”
“Shut the fuck up,” he snaps, cutting her off. “You don’t fucking know anything!”
“I know,” Ochako says, her voice tense, “That you’ve been hurting yourself on purpose. Don’t tell me I’m wrong, because I’m know I’m not.”
A growl rips out of his throat and he jumps to his feet. “Aren’t you supposed to be a fucking healer? Just fucking do your job and don’t make stupid assumptions!”
There’s no way Ochako is gonna let him talk to her like that. She pulls herself up to his to level and stands her ground.
“I AM a healer, but I can’t keep doing this!” She yells, feeling like her emotions are spiraling out of control. “I can’t let you do this to yourself anymore! It’s- it’s pointless! What did you think was gonna happen? It’s a waste of my time! You’re just- you- you’re wasting my time!”
Bakugo stares at her with a stricken face and all of a sudden Ochako can’t breathe.
She didn’t mean to say that. Why did she say that? Why did that come out?
Underneath all of her anger, she recognizes the hurt in his eyes, but it’s gone as quickly as it appears.
“Is that fucking so?” Bakugo sneers, his face turning to stone. He steps close to her, invading her space with his overbearing aura. “Who was the one who told me to trust you? Who was the one who told me to let you heal me. Who was the one who told me to be nice? And now I’m a waste of time?”
“Th-that’s not what I mea-”
“I know what you meant!” Bakugo roars but all she can hear is the pounding of her heart. This was all wrong, this was all wrong. There’s a stillness in his body that she’s never seen before and his eyes bore into hers as he leans forward.
“Listen here you damn witch, and listen well,” he says lowly, his voice gravelly and raw, and he stops inches away from her. “I. Don’t. Need . You.”
And with that last final word, he spins off and disappears into the forest. Ochako feels her eyes burn with tears of frustration but refuses to let them fall. How did it end up like this? Why did he have to say that? Why did she have to say anything?
Her nails dig painfully into the flesh of palm.
Whatever, she tells herself. He could get hurt. See if she cared.
“Ochako, watch out!!”
Deku’s yell cuts across the clearing and she whips her head around to see mangled tree trunk flying towards her. Her chest tightens with magic and she flings her hands out in front of her, casting a barrier spell that materializes from the very tips of her fingers. The tree trunk collides with her pink, translucent wall and Ochako widens her stance to endure the weight. With a grunt, she flings it off but there’s no time to think because another one is heading her way. This time, it’s Kirishima that intercepts in, slashing through with his enlarged claws.
“Thank you!” She shouts and he nods shortly, eyes trained on the final boss.
They had been heading east when they accidentally stumbled on a nest of ungoliant and being the territorial type, the large spiders had not taken too well to intruders. Between Bakugo and Todoroki, with their blasts and fire, they had managed to wipe out a good portion of the smaller spiders but the leader was proving to be quite tricky and evasive.
It was massive, as big as some buildings she had seen in Todoroki’s kingdom, but its size wasn’t the problem, it was its legs.
Long and spindly, they were as thick as some of the trees that surrounded them and with eight of them, they were successfully preventing any of the group from getting too close. It seemed like their only chance was to utilize long range attacks but their other issue was that it was fast.
“Naur dan i ungoliant!” Ochako intones and with a wave of her staff, a column of fire appears from the air and speeds towards the spider. With a piercing screech, the ungoliant leaps to the side and she curses as the spell manages to only nick its legs. It lashes out in anger and manages to catch Deku and Bakugo, who had circled behind it in an attempt to attack its blind side. “Deku!! Bakugo!!” Ochako screams in concern as they’re flung away, as easy as swatted flies.
Deku hits the ground and skids, leaving a streak in the dirt but Bakugo is not so lucky and Ochako winces as he makes impact against a boulder and slumps. For a second, his form is still and her heart lodges in her throat, but with a groan, Bakugo lifts his head and pushes his body up.
“FUCK! That fuckin' HURT!” He growls, staggering to his feet.
“We need to get it to stop moving somehow!” Deku shouts, wiping his mouth of blood.
“We can’t get close to it and it’s so fast, it keeps dodging our long range attacks!” Iida answers from his perch on one of the trees.
Ochako’s heart pounds as the spider’s multiples eyes all swivel and fixate on their group. It lets out an inhuman screech that makes her ears ring but it’s the following clicks it emits that really unsettle her. “Uhhhh guys?! I think it’s pissed off!”
“Pretty sure it was already pissed off when we came crashing into its nest!” Bakugo snarks, tiny explosions popping in his palms.
“Hey Ochako!” Deku calls out, “You think you got enough in you for another blast?”
She checks her reserves and nods. “Yeah! What’s the plan?”
“You’re gonna blast another spell at him but make sure you aim for his left side so that when he jumps to the right, Todoroki can trap him in ice and we can go in for the kill! Can you guys do that?”
Ochako and Todoroki share a glance before nodding determinedly.
She holds her staff out in front of her with two arms and begins to chant the spell. “ Naur dan i ,” she begins, letting her magic spill out and concentrate in the jewel at the tip of staff, “ Ungoliant! ”
The fire manifests and hurtles itself towards the ungoliant and as Deku predicted, it leaps to the side. It’s long legs gather in the air but as soon as it sprawls on the ground, Todoroki unleashes his ice.
But it’s still too fast.
“Damn it!” Todoroki curses when the ice only encapsulates half of the spider’s body. The other half immediately digs its legs into the ground, writhing to escape.
“Watch out!” Ochako yells, eyes widening as she sees the ice begin to crack, “It’s gonna escap--!” But she’s interrupted by a loud, deafening blast and then she sees Bakugo flying towards the spider, hands outstretched behind him.
“DAMN ICY-HOT BASTARD, YOU HAD ONE FUCKING JOB AND YOU COULDN’T EVEN DO IT RIGHT!” Bakugo yells, and with a ferocious roar, he unleashes a massive blast at the ungoliant, wiping out its spindly legs. It immediately collapses and cries out loudly, the stumps of its appendages, charred black and smoking.
Bakugo lands hard on the ground, boots skidding into the dirt, and he whips his head around. “GET THE LAST YA SHITTY NERD! DON’T FUCK IT UP!”
There’s a bright, streaking green light as Deku speeds past her. Lightning races across his form as he pours his energy into the sword he’s wielding and it crackles in response. She’s seen him like this countless times but every single time, it still manages to render her speechless.
With a triumphant yell, Deku plunges his sword into the crown of the spider’s head and it sinks in with a sickening crack. His forearms flex and the sword slices through the head, the shockwave tearing apart the entire body of the ungoliant .
What’s left of the spider crumples and Deku lands in a crouch besides it. There’s energy crackling in the air, evidence of his power, and it tingles against her skin, almost painful but exhilarating.
The clearing is silent except for the smoking and crackling of the damage until Kirishima whoops loudly from above.
“Yo! That was AMAZING! WE DID IT!” He cheers, circling above them with excitable flaps of his wings.
“Yes, that was quite impressive Deku!” Iida calls out, “It’s always a pleasure to see you fight!”
“Tch, it’s only because I fucking gave him the last shot!” Bakugo scoffs, kicking away mutilated legs to make his way back to them.
“Aww, you were great too, don’t worry!”
“SHUT UP YA SHITTY DRAGON!!”
Ochako giggles, happy that the fight is over. There’s still adrenaline coursing through her, that she knows, but she actively slows her breathing and lets her eyes give a quick scan over everyone. Iida, Todoroki, and Kirishima are relatively unharmed, save for a few scrapes and bruises. It’s Deku and Bakugo that took a direct hit.
“Deku, are you hurt anywhere?” She asks as he trudges back to her, exhausted but happy.
He shakes his head and experimentally flexes his fingers. “Just a little bruised, that’s all. I’m not the one that was flung against a boulder.” He says, looking over to Bakugo.
“Haah?” The prickly dragon prince snarls. “I’m fine.” He drops to take a seat on a small boulder and there’s a quick pause, a tensing of his neck muscles, that makes Ochako narrow her eyes.
“Are you sure?” She asks, taking a step towards him. “You landed against it pretty hard, you could’ve broken or fractr--”
“I’m FINE!” He yells, ruby eyes glaring at her. “Fucking leave me alone already. I’m not hurt.”
Ochako bites the inside of her cheek as she meets his angry gaze. “Fine.” She concedes, but not without one final cursory glance. He looks fine, sure, but there was something off about his stance and the way he held himself.
But if he wanted to be difficult, then fine.
“Fuck this,” Bakugo grunts, “Kirishima let’s go. We’re setting up camp.” And with a swirl of his cape, he turns away and stalks off.
Kirishima follows his prince but not before turning to mouth ‘sorry’ at them.
They don’t see the two for the rest of the evening.
Ochako can’t fall asleep that night, tucked underneath her mother’s blanket, in the middle of her tent.
Maybe it’s because the moon is full and that’s when she always feels the strongest, when the night is brightened by light of the pale moon and the stars twinkle their greetings. Her magic thrums underneath her skin, in tune with her heartbeat, and she takes comfort in its ebb and flow.
She knows why she can’t sleep. It’s because of that jerk of a dragon prince.
Ochako scoffs into the quiet of her tent.
Why did he have to be so difficult? Why couldn’t he just admit to being hurt so she could do her job and heal him? He was so stubborn . And yet, she understood, she really did. Their conversation hadn’t ended well. Hell, it was barely a conversation.
It wasn’t like she rejected him but knowing Bakugo, it was good as that. She shouldn’t have brought it up like that, there was a better way, but she couldn’t help it. It just spilled out.
She could never forget that crushed look in his eyes that appeared for a second. It made her heart hurt.
She’s not sure what that means.
Letting loose a loud exhale out her nose, Ochako squeezes her eyes tight, willing herself to stop thinking about. It was late and they had a long trek ahead of them tomorrow, she needed to rest.
But her mind refuses to settle and she lays there in unrest.
And that’s probably why she hears the softest rustle outside her tent. It’s too purposeful to be a sound of nature, and too loud. Ochako tenses underneath her blanket and a hand creeps up to finger the small dagger she keeps under her pillow. The noise is getting closer and Ochako prepares for the intruder, the handle of the dagger solid in her hand. And then a quiet whisper cuts into the night.
She blinks open her eyes and sits up to stare at the flap of her tent. “Kirishima? Is that you?”
A hand appears through the folds of her tent to push the fabric up. Kirishima’s head pops through and the harried expression on his face immediately kicks up concern. “Ochako, I need your help.”
She’s already pushing the blanket up off of her. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
“It’s Bakugo. He’s hurt. It’s bad.”
She pulls herself to her feet and quickly throws on her short cloak, tugging the hood up over her head. Grabbing her staff from beside her bed, she nods at Kirishima.
“Take me to him.”
“I should’ve said something earlier, I know I should’ve,” Kirishima berates himself as they hurry across the clearing. Bakugo had chosen to set up his camp away from her and others, settling further into the forest. “But he yelled at me not to. I’ve never seen him like that before.”
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Ochako soothes him even though her mind is just as frantic. “Just tell me what’s wrong, what happened?”
“It was during the fight with the ungoliant , when Bakugo landed on the boulder. I’m pretty sure he broke a rib, or multiple when that happened. He said he was okay when we left but…”
“It was probably the adrenaline talking,” she finishes, fingers tightening around her staff. “How is he now?”
“Not good,” Kirishima says, face grim. “Lots of pain, and he’s not breathing well. He’s taking shallow breaths but they hurt and he’s turning pale.”
They finally get to the pair’s tent and Kirishima pushes aside the flap for Ochako to enter. In the center of the tent is a makeshift bed of animal pelts and sprawled on top, is Bakugo.
“Dear heavens,” Ochako breathes as she drops to her knees beside him. There’s a deep furrow between his brows and his lips are curled in a pained grimace. She leans closer and hears how shallow his breathing is, hardly any exhale at all.
“ Haah ,” Bakugo gasps, eyelids fluttering open. His gaze falls on her but his eyes are cloudy with pain. “U-Urara-- aagh, ” he begins to say but is cut off. His hand comes up to clutch at his ribs and a soft whine escapes, tugging at her very heart.
Ochako can feel tears burning at the corner of her eyes. She’s never seen him in so much pain before. He’s supposed to be Bakugo, the pillar of strength, indomitable and great. And here he is, injured and weak before her. Why didn’t she heal him earlier, when she thought something was wrong? Why didn’t she just stop him?
Her heart lurches when he tries to say her name again and she rushes to soothe him.
“Shh shh, it’s okay it’s okay, don’t try to talk, it’ll just hurt,” she hushes him gently, desperately hiding the crack in her voice. “I’m gonna check your injury, okay? Okay.”
Kirishima hovers over them anxiously as she lifts Bakugo’s hand off his side. There’s a sharp inhale when they see the damage. His whole entire side is bruised a deep dark purple, with jagged cracks of red throughout splitting across the skin and the edges are a sickly looking green.
“ Shit, ” Ochako mutters. “Okay, it looks like he broke a few ribs but I’m afraid his lungs will collapse if he keeps breathing so shallowly.”
“That can happen?” Kirishima asks, kneeling beside her.
She nods. “Yeah, I’ve seen it happen before. Broken ribs can pierce a lung but they can also collapse if you don’t breathe deeply and cause pneumonia.” Her hands glide over the rest of his upper body with the faintest touch as she does a quick assessment. “I’m glad you got me when you did. A punctured lung can cause death in minutes if untreated,” she says grimly.
Kirishima clenches his fist.
“Can you heal him?” He asks, raw desperation edging at his voice.
Ochako looks down at the dragon prince laying underneath her hands. Despite the fatigue in her bones and the weakness in her muscles, she’s never felt so sure of anything before.
It takes all of her focus and energy to call up her well of magic. The day had sapped her of energy and the lack of sleep didn’t help either, but she was determined. She had to heal him, she had to heal Bakugo because he was someone she cared about and she was damned if she let him go without doing something about it.
She grits her teeth, molars grinding against each other, as she wills her magic to rise. She feels the sweat on her brow and the rigidity of her muscles, feels the strain of pulling on her last reserves of energy.
“ Thind ithil, anno vellas lín enin 'raw hen ,” Ochako whispers fervently and as if it heard her, the moon above shines upon them and she is filled with a swirl of magic. Pressing her hands gently onto Bakugo’s skin, she wills her healing magic into him and this time, she lets her emotions loose, because she knows that every fiber of her being wants nothing more than to heal the man before her.
Bone melds with bone, arteries rejoin, and bruises fade as she pours more and more magic into him. It takes nearly all of her to heal him but she doesn’t hesitate for a second, she just focuses on making sure he is well.
Moments pass and when she finally thinks she’s done, she slowly lets her magic ebb away. Faint wisps of energy flutter against his skin and Ochako watches with blurry eyes as they slowly dissipate.
Beside her, she hears Kirishima whisper, “Thank Glaurung. ”
Ochako feels her energy leave her in a rush and she slumps.
“Woah woah there,” Kirishima calls out as she tips over to the side. She leans heavily against his sturdy arms and he gently lays her onto the ground next to Bakugo. “Ochako? Are you okay?”
“‘M’fine,” she slurs, eyelids heavy with an invisible weight. “Jus’ tired.” She’s slowly losing the fight against sleep as her eyes shut and her body involuntarily relaxes.
“Do you want me to take you back to your tent?” She hears Kirishima ask but his voice is distant.
The last thing she remembers is mumbling ‘ I wanna stay ‘ere,” before everything goes dark.
Ochako awakes, slowly and groggily, feeling incredibly weak. She presses her cheek against the warm, smooth surface under her skin and groans softly, unwilling to fully wake up.
A soft snort.
“You up yet?” It’s a low rumble that sounds entirely too close to her and she blearily cracks her eyes open to see a familiar face inches away from hers.
“H-huuh??” Ochako squeaks. They’re practically nose to nose and she had been using his shoulder as a pillow. She tries to pull away but an arm that she didn’t realize was around her tugs her close.
“You passed out after you healed me,” he says gruffly, as if it explains why they’re, for lack of better word,cuddling.
“I-I’m pretty sure I was on your other side,” she says, “And I was definitely not pressed up against you like this.”
Bakugo avoids eye contact. “You were cold.”
A fond snort escapes her. Now that the shock of waking up in Bakugo’s arms has passed, she realizes that it’s surprisingly...nice. Really nice.
Ochako fights the urge to bury her face in the crook of his neck.
“How do you feel?” She asks and he twitches at the feeling of her breath on his skin.
Bakugo stares at the ceiling of his tent for a few beats before he finally answers. “Like I got sat on by Kirishima while he was in dragon form.” He pauses. “Again.”
She presses a hand against her lips to muffle her giggle and he rolls his eyes.
“I’m fine, a little tender,” he admits, his other hand absently scratching his chest. She lifts her head up to examine him. She can’t see much from her angle, but it looks fine for the most part. No bruise, nothing. She did a pretty good job.
But if only she had healed him earlier, before it got this bad, they could’ve avoided the whole mess.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbles, dropping her head back down onto his shoulder, “This is all my fault.”
“How the fuck was this your fault? I’m pretty sure it was a building sized ungoliant that threw me against a rock, not you.”
“Still,” she sniffles miserably against his skin and Bakugo tenses up in alarm. “I should’ve healed you after the fight!”
“H-hey hey wait, fuck! Why the fuck are you crying?” His arm tightens around her and she willingly presses herself closer.
“B-because!” Ochako cries, shoving her face in his neck.
“Well, fucking stop!”
Bakugo groans loudly and lets his head drop onto the ground with a ‘thud.’ “Look, it’s not your fault! It was... fuck , I was just...I was an idiot okay,” he huffs reluctantly, as if it causes him great pain. “I should’ve, yanno, fucking let you heal me and shit."
Ochako sniffles again and she rubs the pads of her fingers against her eyes. “Yeah, you should’ve,” she mumbles, the pout evident in her voice. Bakugo turns his head to look at her.
“I didnt…” He begins, looking flustered and shy. “I didn’t mean what I said. You’re...good for us,” he mutters, his eyebrows furrowing as he stares at point next to her face.
“I know,” she says simply. “I didn’t mean anything either.”
He nods because really, that’s all they need.
His eyes finally shift to her and they trace over her face as if it’s something precious. Her heart flutters in her chest. How did she ignore this feeling for so long? Was it always so obvious? It was always him that made her feel this way. Happy, content, nervous.
“Thanks,” he says, ruby eyes soft and molten, “For...everything.”
It’s the gentlest she’s ever heard his voice sound and she wants to commit it to her memory forever. Ochako shrugs half-heartedly. “It’s my duty to you guys, you could’ve died.”
“Yeah but I mean..for all the other times too. I was a dumbass.” Bakugo grimaces, his lip curling in distaste.
“You were,” she agrees, poking his chest with her finger before letting it rest next to his hand. “Promise not to hurt yourself anymore?” She asks, peering up at him through her eyelashes.
“Fuck yeah. You know how much dislocating my finger hurt?”
She laughs softly before her mouth opens into a huge yawn. She knew, from the light peeking through the tent, that it was still ridiculously early and neither of them had gotten much sleep.
“You should sleep,” Bakugo mutters and she sees a faint dust of pink on his cheeks as she nuzzles into his neck like a kitten.
“You too,” she mumbles, feeling overly warm and soft. Something tight in her chest loosens and unravels and she feels utterly content. But she doesn’t want to fall asleep just yet. There’s something she still needs to do.
“You know,” Ochako says airily, “There’s better ways to show someone you like them.”
Bakugo cracks open an eye. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah,” she nods. “Like this.”
She slides her hand under his hand resting on his chest and she laces their fingers together, neatly fitting into the spaces between his knuckles. They’re palm to palm and his hand is rough against hers. She curls her fingers and the tips press against the back of his hand. When she looks back up to meet his gaze, his eyes are liquid, a swirl of emotion that she wants to delve into. His eyes flick from their joined hands, back to her face.
“Do..do you?” He asks, his breath ghosting over her lips.
She nods. “I do.”
His hand tightens around hers and his laugh is more like a sharp exhale.
“You should sleep, you spent a lot of energy,” he reasserts, turning his face away from her, and Ochako rolls her eyes.
What did she expect?
What a silly silly man, she thinks fondly. She practically saves his life, tells him she likes him, and he still can’t confess his feelings.
Part of her wants to stay up and talk because this whole thing is so new and sweet that she never wants it to end. But he’s warm and he’s comfortable and the sound of his solid heartbeat is a soothing melody that lulls her to sleep.
Just as she slips off, she feels a kiss against the crown of her head and a whisper against her ear.
“Guren min gaim lín.”
My heart is in your hands.