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erosion

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Bakugou can still remember the way his mom would smile at him. The corners of her mouth would pull wide, popping dimples in her cheeks, as she beamed at him. Wrinkles in the corners of her eyes, which had just begun to form, would crinkle. It was the most beautiful thing in the world- still is, he thinks, as he leans against the wall. Sometimes, when things are particularly hard, Bakugou closes his eyes and remembers it.

This is one of those times. He can hear the sounds of the other omegas outside his cell. Sometimes they scream. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they sing to themselves, until one of their keepers walks by and hears it. Bakugou bristles as he hears the sizzle of flesh burning and the sharp cries of pain, closes his eyes, and thinks of that smile.  If it’s a particularly good day, he can still hear her laugh and the sound of the car radio crooning soft rock. Mom’s smile is the only thing he remembers of the life that was once his.

Bakugou was only six when that life ended. Well, he’s pretty sure he was six, anyway, it’s hard to remember. He doesn’t know how old he is now. It’s been so long since he was stolen that he has no idea what his birthdate is anymore. He can still remember the smell of the hot asphalt in the summer sun as he walked home from the park that day. His mom’s car pulled up outside to pick him up- or at least, he thought it was her car- and he hopped inside, eagerly waiting a bright smile.

The smile that he received was not the one he expected. Sinister, brutal, terrifying. The look of the man sitting in the driver’s seat of his mother’s car was unlike anything he’d seen before, and when you were raised living in a world full of people with Quirks, that’s really saying something. Bakugou’s brain sometimes flips to that awful smile and the fear it brought bubbling forth in his belly. Wrinkled skin pulling around dried, bloody lips, and rotting teeth- Bakugou can still remember the smell of them as it hit his face. When he saw that smile, his world went black, and when he woke up he was here.

Here is not a fun place to be. Where here is exactly is yet another terrifying mystery in his life. Bakugou is considered lucky here. He’s got the biggest cell, which is big enough for a blanket, a pillow, and a corner to relieve himself in. Light even spills in from the hallway, which others have told him is a luxury they aren’t entitled to. Others don’t have it so lucky. Others have to share.

Squirming in his small cell, Bakugou growls angrily under his breath as he fights against his restraints. They aren’t much, just a pair of handcuffs with large, tempered steel containers on the end that cover his hands, but they are the things he hates more than anything else about his cell. As much as he makes the sweat on his skin explode, he can’t free himself from their hold. If they were gone, he’d have some sense of freedom in this tiny room, but with these shackles, he’s truly a prisoner.

“Someone get Blondie out of his cell,” he hears a voice say. It’s very familiar. He can hear it dripping with vitriol and bated breath. This voice always gets excited when he survives. This is the voice that he both loves and hates; it’s the one that chooses his brief, terrifying moments of freedom, and doles out the even scarier punishments.

It’s answered by a lazy sigh. “Really? He fights so hard. It’s annoying.”

“I’m serious , Dabi. If you quit arguing, I’ll melt that disgusting flesh right off your face.”

“Tch. Don’t need to make threats, I’m already doing it.”

Bakugou rises to his feet and rolls his shoulders, despite the aching hunger in his belly. He’s the blonde. Well, right now, anyway; who knows if they’ll get another omega who’s also blonde. His scalp is shaved clean of any hair that once grew there to save his keepers the trouble of bathing him, but when he did have hair, it was blonde. Ashen, like the color of beach sand touched by stones and sediment.

Dabi stops outside his cell with the keys and Bakugou can feel rage and fear and determination all begin to well inside him like blood from a wound. He hates Dabi. Not as much as the other one, but enough to make him bare his teeth and snarl.

“Pipe down. You smell disgusting,” Dabi sneers. Of course, the alpha scent rolls off of him like smoke off a pipe: musky, unrelenting, nasty. Bakugou smells this on every single one of his keepers and it always makes him sick to his stomach. The smell means treachery and horror beyond anything anyone ever taught him when he still had a life.

“Fuck you!” Bakugou snarls.

Dabi only smiles at him. “Maybe later.”

That makes him flounder ever-so-slightly, only to bounce back to his defensive position with his metal cuffs in front of him. Dabi can smell it, the fear, and it always makes him smile. It makes Bakugou tremble because he knows what usually comes next. It’s never nice and always leaves him limping and hurt after. He cringes and snarls as Dabi slides open the barred gate to his cage.

“Out. And no funny business, or you’ll get another pretty scar to match all the others, omega.”

Bakugou hesitates just a moment and regrets it as Dabi reaches in, grabs his cuffs by the chain, and yanks him out, leaving him to fall face-first on the floor. Laughter echoes through the dingy room as his other keepers laugh at him. There’s several of them gathered at a small table in the corner. Some of them are familiar, some are new, but all are hated. The room reeks of alpha.

“Now now, Dabi, don’t hurt his pretty face,” Tomura says, looping one leg over the other. “You know he’s my favorite.”

Bakugou hisses at him, writhing on the floor as he tries to push up on his sheltered hands. Tomura plants a boot in his side and laughs again as Bakugou falls and snarls.

“Die, asshole,” Bakugou growls.

Tomura only smiles at him from his perch on an old barstool. His fingers curl around his wrinkled, disgusting chin as he rests his elbow on the table to peer down at him. Normally, he has a hand over his face, Bakugou has never figured out why, but today it lies, palm-up on the table, revealing the entirety of his face.

Tomura is one of a very few that haunt Bakugou in his dreams. Those wretched, awful hands have touched him everywhere they could reach, strangled him, suffocated him, beaten him, taken everything that they could. Where Dabi is aggressive and hurtful, Tomura is sinister and calculated. Dabi has left the scars on his body, but Tomura made the scars on his mind.

“Toss him in the ring,” Tomura said. “We have some new ones I want to test out.”

Dabi answers him with a sigh, grabs his handcuffs by the chain, and leaves. Bakugou yells angrily as he drags along on his bare knees, trying to rise to his feet. “Don’t kill these ones. Don’t let them kill you. Don’t go for the eyes,” Dabi says, as they walk down the hall. The hallway stinks of cigarette smoke and the light fixtures overhead buzz, which never fails to give Bakugou a headache.

They go through a door, which leads to a stairwell, and descend. Bakugou can count until they hit ten, and then he’s lost. It’s a wonder how many more they descend, and he’s dying to know. He stumbles clumsily down the stairs as Dabi yanks his chain hard and laughs.

“Alright, blondie. Remember the rules?” he asks, turning to face him. He uncuffs him quickly before using his alpha voice to command, “Don’t fucking blow me up.”

Bakugou spits in his face.

The cruel smile returns to Dabi’s face as he wipes the pearly drool from his left eye. “Just for that,” He mutters, yanking Bakugou close so he can whisper in his ear, “I’m gonna fuck you, even if you win.”

“I’ll kill you first.”

“In your wildest dreams,” Dabi says, before he opens the door, thrusts Bakugou through it, and closes it behind him.

Bakugou reaches to massage the raw skin on his wrists and grimaces as his dirty hands sting the open flesh. He settles for shaking the feeling back into his sweaty palms as they start to smoke. Won’t be long now, he thinks, as he makes his way hastily to the corner of the arena that’s covered in blast marks and bloodstains.

To call it an arena is kind of a joke. It looks like something out of a wrestling show when the announcer calls for a cage match. Chain link barriers line the three sides of the old boxing ring that are open to the air. The surface of the mat is disgusting; various bodily fluids and remnants of weird quirks stain its surface. It reeks of past horrors and omega fear pheromones. Bakugou’s stomach twinges out of instinct as they pass under his nose.

Old folding chairs litter the floor of the room outside the chain link cage. The usual crowd is here, which isn’t surprising at all. They always come for Bakugou’s fights. Most are quiet, save for a few leering cheers from time to time when his body starts to hurt and he’s hard most of the time. Those are the times he hates the most. Those are the times he fights the most.

The door he just came from opens again. Another omega is pushed inside and the door is firmly shut behind them with a slam that echoes through the empty, quiet room. Bakugou snarls at him, teeth gnashing, ready to fight. Dabi’s words echo in his brain and he craves comfort from the fearful images that creep into his mind. Memories, painful ones, ones he wants to forget but his body will never allow him.

Holding his wrist out in front of him, his hand simmers, pops, and an explosion fires off at the other omega. Bakugou watches as they don’t fight back, merely fall to the floor, their clothes singed and nose bleeding. His eyes are hazy and Bakugou creeps closer with curiosity.

“The fuck is wrong with you? Fight, asshole!”

They don’t fight, though. They just lay there in a twitching heap on the floor. Bakugou wonders if maybe they’re having a time, but he can’t smell them and he crouches by them to poke at them. He’s not about to take an easy win, so fighting is out of the question, and Dabi told him not to kill this one, anyway.

“Hey!” he yells.

He can see their lips moving but the way his ears ring makes it hard for him to hear so he leans down and gets closer. “Hey!” he yells again.

“They’re coming, I can hear them. I can hear it…” the male omega mutters. His voice is a wheeze and he reaches out for Bakugou with claw-like fingers. Bird quirk, Bakugou thinks, until he sees the ears. They’re way bigger than a normal human ear. That’s weird, birds don’t have ears.

Bakugou watches as his eyes dilate rapidly and his body shakes before he starts to foam at the mouth and falls still. He reaches out to touch them, realizing how oddly still they are. Did they just die? Did they just fucking drop dead? What the hell?

Dabi’s gonna kill him. He’s gonna see the scorch marks on his shirt and think that he was the one to make this shit-for-brains drop dead. Bakugou grabs him by the shirt, picks up his body, and shakes him so hard the spittle that dribbles from between his lips flecks across the stained mat.

“Wake up, wake up!” Bakugou sobs as panic grips his chest like a vise. “You stupid piece of shit!”

It’s getting uncomfortably warm in the ring. Bakugou can normally handle the heat, seeing as he makes explosions out of his own sweat on a near-daily basis, but this heat is sweltering. Sweat starts beading on the sides of his neck and smoking almost instantly. He can feel it stinging in the flesh rubbed raw by his shackles and in his eyes.

The heat fills him with panic. This isn’t normal. Everything around him is already so chaotic that throwing anything else off-kilter will drive him insane, and this is pushing that little thread of sanity he’s worked hard to maintain. He looks down at the corpse on the floor and then back up to the door.

The door- that’s the key.

He reaches for it and the handle burns his skin.

“The fuck!?” he howls, cradling his hand to his chest. Why does the handle burn him? Why is it still locked? He realizes now that the crowd is funneling out of the room at an alarming rate. They’re pushing and shoving and crawling over each other to reach the little door on the other side of the room. These freaks have seen him kill many times, so he knows it’s not because of the stiff on the floor. They want out of here, which means he probably should want out of here, too.

He takes an aggressive stance, orients his fists towards the chain link, and fires off some explosions. Nothing. He even grips the chain link in his hands and tries to blow it up that way to no avail. Bakugou wants to try to blow up the door, but it’s too hot to press his hands against and if it’s hot then there’s something hot on the other side. Right?

Of course can’t blow them up, he realizes. Someone with a Quirk around here who knows his fighting style made them or bought them or- Bakugou doesn’t fucking know. He just wants to get through it, wants to escape the hellish heat that’s boring down on him and making him wish he had more clothes to take off, just to keep cool.

Bakugou has an epiphany that makes him grasp fistfuls of his hair and scream at the top of his lungs with rage. Even if he got out of the arena and broke free, then what? He doesn’t know how to get out of here. He doesn’t even know where he is . Nevermind following the signs posted on the walls of what he thinks is an abandoned office building because he can’t fucking read.

It’s pointless. Even in the best possible fucking scenario he’s lost. Slumping against the chain link, Bakugou slides to the floor. He pulls his knees up into his chest and wraps his arms around them as his sweat soaks into his grimy t-shirt. Whatever is happening, it’s bad, and no one gives a shit about him enough to come down here and sneer at him as he sweats his guts out.

It sucks to die, and it sucks even more to die alone.




Bakugou doesn’t know how long he’s been sitting there now. The lights went out a long time ago. The digital clock they keep by the ring to keep time for matches reads one-two-four-seven, whatever the hell that means. He’s sweat through his shirt by now; fortunately, since it’s soaked, it does a better job at keeping him cool. The body on the floor across the mat reeks from the heat. He closes his eyes tightly and swears under his breath. If whatever’s gonna happen could just get itself the fuck over with, that would be great.

Mama’s smile, ensconced in a twilight glow, shines at him from behind his eyelids. She’s so pretty, and her smile is so warm. Bakugou wonders if she’s still alive. If she’s not, then they’ll meet in the afterlife. Sounds nice, nicer than any of this.

Suddenly, the whole room starts to shake. Like, really, really shake; Bakugou can feel his teeth rattling together in his mouth, it’s shaking so hard. Dust starts to fall from the ceiling like snowflakes as the trembling continues. He can hear massive rumblings above. Is the building falling? It must be.

A massive column from the floor above comes punching through the floor, along with another load of debris that sends dust billowing into the air that stings his lungs and his throat and his eyes and he can’t help but clench them shut as he holds his shirt over his mouth as some kind of shitty filter-

There it is. A voice.

“Found the basement!” someone yells.

Bakugou yells in reply, but no one comes. They can’t leave him down here to rot, they just can’t, he’s too valuable, he’s the only good fighter they have. They’ll have to start all over without him, won’t they? Tomura can’t lose him. He’s worth money. He said so last time he misbehaved, when he blew one of Dabi’s fingers off when he tried to touch his scent gland and Tomura said he’d sell him as a slut to the highest bidder.

There’s so much anger and hate bubbling up inside him at the memory that he lets off a round of explosions, one from each fingertip. They make the walls quake and the ceiling lurch. Maybe not his best idea but he’d rather be buried alive down here than go back up there with them.

The column that’s piercing the roof is crumbling; someone practically obliterates it with their Quirk as they come crashing through it with a swift kick. As it crumbles to the ground, Bakugou presses his back against the chain link. Whoever Tomura has sent is new, and strong. Stronger than him, he thinks, as he watches the column fragment into a million pieces. He wants to be stronger, though. He wants to be free of this place, of Tomura, of everyone that’s ever hurt him, and this guy is the only thing standing in the way.

He can see the dust billowing in the sunlight as the air clears and its rays nearly blind him. When was the last time he saw the sun? It’s so fucking bright, he can’t stand it. Growling in frustration at the sudden blindness, he presses the heels of his hands into his eyes.

“There’s someone down here!” the man calls.

No.

“I’m on my way down!” another calls.

Fuck. He’s so tired, he doesn’t know if he can fight off this guy, let alone two guys. His legs shake as he tucks them underneath himself, trying to lift up off the mat. Raising his hands, he gets weak little crackles out of his palms instead of his big explosions. “Don’t come near me!” he shouts in a rasp.

“He’s agitated, be careful,” the first one says, holding his hands up, palms toward him. Fuck, what kind of quirk is that gonna be? Maybe fire from the hands, he fought someone who had that once. Or maybe his hands get really big. Bakugou is getting dizzy trying to think of a way to take this guy down.

“Hey! What’s your name?” the second one calls. His hair is red, almost as red as blood, and his smile is made of teeth sharpened to points. That’s terrifying. They look painful.

“Don’t… don’t fucking come near me!” Bakugou bellows as they approach the chain link.

“We need to check and see if you’re alright,” the first one says. He’s green. Green all over, with a grate covering his face. The bunny ears on his costume remind Bakugou of some guy he used to watch on TV that smiled all the time.

The second one sticks his hands through the chainlink- Red, Bakugou thinks, that one’s red- and his skin hardens like a rock. He pulls the chain link apart like it’s made of tissue paper. Fuck, he’s strong too, Bakugou can’t handle the both of them and he’s so tired, so tired of the fighting and the abuse.

He’ll die fighting, he thinks, as he lifts his palms, presses their heels together, and summons the remainder of his strength to fire a massive explosion in their direction.

The smoke clears, Bakugou’s ears ring, and… nothing. Red’s standing there with his skin looking like the side of a cliff face. His clothes are smoking, but he’s still smiling at him with those shark teeth and those weird black bands on his face like Bakugou’s just made his day. It makes Bakugou’s gut clench in fear.

“Hey! That’s a pretty rad quirk, dude,” Red says excitedly. “You can blow shit up!”

Bakugou snarls at him. “Don’t fucking talk down to me, just kill me already!”

Red examines him with a furrowed brow and a frown. Maybe he’s mad, that looks like the kind of face Tomura makes when he’s mad. Good. Let him be mad; it’s the angry ones that always make bad decisions, and bad decisions leave open spaces for strong hits. “What is he talking about, Deku?”

Green grabs Red by the sleeve. “He’s one of the omegas Naomasa told us about!”

“Oh yeah! You think so?”

Bakugou tries to inch around them as they chatter. Maybe he can make it out, then he’d be free. Find mom, get his life back. After that, he has no idea.

“Can’t you smell his scent? He’s so stressed. Poor guy,” Green says. Bakugou can see right through him and the ruse; he’s probably trying to draw him close with kind words so he can smash his face in with one of those kicks. His hands are shaking and his knees slip as he crawls around the edge of the ring.

Red sighs. “Let’s get him out of here. They’ve got the paramedics upstairs to get these poor people out of here. Can you believe this shit?”

“Now’s not the time, Kiri… wait, did you see where he-”

“He’s over there!”

No !” Bakugou screams, backing up against the chain link.

Red - Kiri, the green one called him- holds out a hand as he approaches. They’re huge, so much bigger than his, and already the man reeks of alpha. Bakugou retreats even further until the chain link starts to press into his skin painfully. He just wants them to go away.

“We’re here to help you,” Red says confidently. His scent shifts. He smells like… what does he smell like? It’s not that sickly smell like Tomura or Dabi, but still, Bakugou smells that musk of alpha and it makes his stomach turn.

“No, no, no, no. Stop, don’t!” Bakugou says, his voice rasping from the smoke. His ears are ringing. His chest is tight, like he can’t breathe, like someone strapped a cage around his lungs. His breath falls fast and heavy from his lips as he tries to focus his eyes on the alpha, but his vision’s getting spinny.

“Deku, I’m gonna pick him up.”

“Be careful. I’d harden first, seeing as he has an explosion quirk, but he’s pretty tired. Should be easy enough.”

“I said no! Don’t! Don’t! ” Bakugou chokes as Red gets so close he can’t smell anything but alpha. His hands crackle weakly as he swats at Red, trying to get him to back off. The other keepers know better. They know the crackles are a warning before the real explosions start and Bakugou prays he’s got enough left in him to ignite a few good ones.

Red picks him up firmly and tucks him over his shoulder. Bakugou writhes against him and presses his palms flat against Red’s back, screaming as his arms ache in protest. He can feel the veins pulsing in his arms as he strains to ignite; it hurts so badly, but the only feeble chance he’s got he’s got to escape is fading.

The hard skin beneath his palms barely reacts to his explosions. It’s impressive; even with the keepers, they know better than to get on the wrong end of his blasts, but this alpha seems to have the strength to survive them. Nevermind survive them, it’s almost like Bakugou didn’t even blast him at all.

“The fuck?” Bakugou hisses as he resorts to wailing on Red with his fists.

Red only groans as he tightens his grip on his waist before Deku lifts all three of them out of the crumbling basement with a mighty jump. “My hardening counteracts your blasts, dude. I’m trying to help you, why are you acting like this?”

“He’s probably irrational and afraid, Kiri,” Green says.

Bakugou growls, “Shut the fuck up, I’m not afraid!”

The look Green gives him as Red hands him over to the paramedics is full of pity. Bakugou hates it, wants to blast it right off of his stupid face. He doesn’t need pity. He doesn’t need sympathy. He just needs a goddamn opening, a break, something .

He just wants his life back and he missed his only chance.

He’s still struggling as the paramedics try to force him to lie down on the stretcher, but he’s less than cooperative. A hand rests on his arm and suddenly, sleep hits him like a sack of bricks. A quirk. It’s a good one, he thinks, effective. His eyelids are suddenly too heavy to keep open. Too tired to protest, he falls limp against the cold cotton sheet on the stretcher and passes out.