Kirishima sighed, his breath fogging the train’s window as his forehead bumped against the glass. Amajiki fidgeted next to him. He could tell his upperclassman was anxious—not that that was out of the ordinary for the guy—and was stealing glances at Kirishima. He was sure Amajiki was struggling to decide whether to ask him what was wrong; however, his nervous energy was just stressing Kirishima out. He honestly hoped Amajiki wouldn’t say anything because he didn’t think he had the patience for a drawn-out conversation right now.
He was tired and hungry, and he missed Bakugou.
Bakugou’s provisional license training and Kirishima’s work-study with Fatgum and Amajiki on top of regular classes and personal training made for hectic schedules all around. Kirishima loved working with Fatgum; he was learning so much every day, and his mentor was super cool, friendly, chivalrous, and attentive—a really manly guy! And Amajiki, though awkward and tense, had a lot of valuable insight and experience, and he was never unkind. Kirishima was incredibly grateful for his opportunity with them. But, man, did it eat into his personal life.
It didn’t help that since Fatgum teamed up with Sir Nighteye and Ryukyu, the internship was becoming extra intense, and Kirishima and the others had to keep secrets from their friends. He wondered if Uraraka and Midoriya struggled to keep their lips sealed the way he did. He was normally a pretty open book, and admittedly a shit liar, so he was stuck awkwardly saying things like “I can’t talk about that” or giving vague answers.
Luckily, his friends didn’t seem to mind. Every now and then, however, conversations would feel stilted. Bakugou especially tended to look displeased, but he never complained. Kirishima always felt doubly guilty with Bakugou, though. They couldn’t hang out as quite much as they used to because they were busy, and now all of a sudden this barrier existed between them when there hadn’t really been one before.
The train stopped, and Kirishima followed Amajiki out. He was still distracted, though, operating on autopilot. The walk to UA was silent, the brisk fall air and night sky doing little for Kirishima’s mood. He glanced up at Amajiki, who flinched and quickly snapped his gaze forward.
He side-eyed Kirishima briefly before dipping his head down. “Is there something on your mind?”
Kirishima smiled weakly and took a deep breath. “Yeah. I’m too tired to talk about it, though.”
Amajiki sighed. “That’s fine. It’s just . . . as your upperclassman, I feel sort of responsible for you. So . . . if you need anything . . .” His voice trailed off heavily.
“Thanks,” he said sincerely. “It’s nothing major, just feeling stressed, I guess.”
Amajiki nodded. Kirishima glanced at him and saw a look of heavy consternation: the older boy was chewing his lip and frowning deeply. Kirishima was at a loss, and they lapsed into tense silence once again.
Their campus gates appeared quickly, so the awkwardness at least didn’t last long. Once they were on school property, they turned to each other to say goodnight. Amajiki reminded him that he could talk about anything he wanted to, and Kirishima again thanked him before they each headed off to their separate dorms.
Kirishima trudged up to his room in more silence—the dorm dark as everyone else was presumably in their rooms. It was a school night, after all. Only the foolhardy like Kaminari and Ashido and sometimes Todoroki stayed up late in the middle of the week. As he passed Bakugou’s room, he wasn’t surprised to see no light beneath the door.
Kirishima changed into his pajamas and grabbed his toothbrush and face wash. It was such a pain to have to go all the way to the common bathrooms for this, and he could admit that sometimes he just didn’t bother with his normal routine after a long day. Tonight, though, he followed through on it just so he wouldn’t have one more thing to feel guilty about. And then he had to march all the way back to his room and put his toiletries away before he could finally collapse into bed.
He lay on his stomach over the covers, sighing loudly, and closed his eyes. Honestly, he could have fallen asleep like this. Just then, two knocks sounded. Kirishima picked his head up, listening. He didn’t think they’d come from his door—maybe from the wall or the floor above?
Two more knocks.
Kirishima sat up. They’d definitely come from the wall. Bakugou’s wall. He tiptoed around his punching bag and stood between his desk and the shelves he used for his books and games. He pressed his ear to the wall and knocked twice. He listened as hard as he could, spreading his fingers out and resting his palm the wall. Just maybe, there was a light scratch on the other side, but that could have been his own shirt.
One knock, this one lower on the wall. Goodnight, it seemed to signal.
The sound came from behind Kirishima’s desk, so he lifted a corner and silently moved it out of the way. Once he had enough space, he knocked once on the spot where he thought he’d heard the sound. Even though he didn’t expect another knock, he continued to stand there for a long time. Bakugou was in bed on just the other side, probably not even two feet away. If Kirishima really wanted to, he could punch straight through this wall and be there with him. He wouldn’t do that, of course, but he did really want to be . . . not alone.
His eyes prickled with tears. He supposed he wasn’t alone; Bakugou was checking on him. Bakugou cared. Ugh, it was dumb, but that simple gesture—so small, yet so intentional—really touched him. With a sniffle, he wiped his tears and stepped away. He needed sleep. He moved his desk back to its place, careful not to bump into the wall, and climbed into bed with another sigh.
After a good night’s sleep, his confidence was restored, and in gym, Kirishima dominated the rock climbing lesson. Bakugou was pissed at him and the other interns for not sharing their discoveries, but Kirishima focused on his task to avoid the nagging sense of guilt.
He and Bakugou sat next to each other at lunch. This wasn’t out of the ordinary, and neither was the way Kirishima leaned into Bakugou’s space, pressing against his side one minute and the next minute touching his shoulder or wrapping an arm around him. Today, though, Bakugou leaned into him almost as much. Anyone observing probably wouldn’t have been able to tell, but Kirishima could feel it, Bakugou’s warm weight pressing into him. It made something pleasurable hum in his chest. He felt wanted. Maybe Bakugou had been missing him, too.
Their friends chattered and laughed, and Kirishima joined them, feeling light-hearted despite the infiltration plan weighing heavily on him. Friends were the best! Nothing cheered him up like the company of his favorite people. He glanced across the room and saw Iida and Todoroki talking to Midoriya. Ah, he looked down. Kirishima’s stomach tightened. He was crying, and Kirishima thought he knew why. He couldn’t say anything, though.
Only a couple days later, the sting operation began and basically went to shit. Sir Nighteye died, and his intern, Togata, lost his quirk. Mr. Aizawa was beat to hell; Kirishima, Amajiki, and Fatgum were no better. Kirishima had almost died. It was . . . a lot to take in. They’d rescued Eri, though, and Kirishima couldn’t be happier about it. In that sense, they’d succeeded. He tried to focus on that and not on his gnawing sense of failure.
Kirishima was bandaged up like a mummy for about a day, and he had to stay at the hospital overnight. His parents flipped when they saw him, but they didn’t try to talk him into quitting the hero course—it probably helped that Recovery Girl’s healing worked so quickly. The next night, after all the police inquiries, he was able to return to the dorm with Midoriya, Uraraka, and Tsuyu. The whole class erupted around him, Kirishima and Sero shouting at him, Iida yelling at everyone else. Everyone expressed how worried they were.
Kirishima didn’t see him at first, but when the initial uproar died down, he spotted his friend by himself on a couch. Kaminari approached him, probably teasing him, and Bakugou shoved him onto the sofa as he left, declaring he was going to bed. Kirishima sought his eyes, but Bakugou wouldn’t look at him. The disappointment stung.
With heavy hearts, all the interns went to bed early, turning in not long after Bakugou and Todoroki who had their license training in the morning. Kirishima couldn’t sleep, though. He sat against the wall feeling numb, not even thinking about anything, unable to think about anything. But he didn’t feel good.
Two knocks on the wall pierced through his heartache, and tears sprang to his eyes. His lip trembled as he padded over to the wall. He knocked once, raised his hand to knock twice, but suddenly felt too weak to carry out the second knock. His chest shook, and he had a cold sweat. His fingertips touched the wall, and the tears finally spilled. He wasn’t stupidly strong yet. He wasn’t there yet. I’m sorry, I’m not there yet. Don’t give up on me. Just don’t leave me behind—
Two more knocks cut through his spiraling thoughts, this time coming from his door. Kirishima turned quickly toward the sound and wiped his tears and his nose with his shirt. He took a deep breath, massaging his warm cheeks, before approaching the door. He tried his best to look tired instead of emotional as he cracked open the door. Bakugou stood there, looking at the floor—his phone was in his hand. And was that his wall charger? In surprise, Kirishima pulled the door open wider.
“Bakugou? What’s up?” His voice was thick and a little creaky, so he cleared his throat quietly. He hoped he just sounded sleepy.
Bakugou’s eyes snapped up to his face and narrowed, and Kirishima suddenly got the feeling that he knew he’d been crying. His cheeks heated up again.
“Let me in, stupid.”
Kirishima stepped aside. Bakugou pushed past him and turned on the light. Kirishima, stunned, watched him plug in his phone, squatting by the wall as he tapped lightly away at the screen. He stood up silently and sat on the bed; then he frowned at Kirishima, one eyebrow arched.
“You gonna turn the light off or what?”
Kirishima blinked. “Uhhh, what?”
Bakugou bristled, his shoulders hiking up to his ears, and he crossed his arms. “Quit wasting time! Even a hair-for-brains idiot like you needs to sleep.”
Kirishima’s mouth fell open; the room seemed to spin. “Yeah, but—what are you doing?”
“I have to get up early, so I set an alarm,” he said, not answering Kirishima’s question at all. But he huffed an exasperated sigh as though he were explaining the obvious. “I’m sleeping on the outside, so move your ass, Shitty Hair!”
“Oh! Okay!” Kirishima’s body moved, flipping the light off and crawling into bed behind Bakugou, but his brain hadn’t caught up at all.
What the hell is going on?! He had so many questions—what was Bakugou doing? Why? What did this mean? But he had no idea where to start; he didn’t even know whether Bakugou would answer him if he asked.
Well, he supposed Bakugou was spending the night with him. He could feel his heart speed up. This was like that time at I-Island—only the bed was a lot smaller this time, so they were right up against each other from the start. And they were a lot more . . . intimate now. His fingers twitched; he wanted to touch Bakugou, hold him. If he’d let him.
They settled on their sides facing each other. Kirishima could feel all of Bakugou’s exhales on his face, could smell his minty toothpaste. He inhaled deeply, a smile blooming even as his eyes grew wet again. Tentatively, he brushed his fingers on Bakugou’s arm. Bakugou shifted a little closer, and Kirishima’s palm slid to Bakugou’s back and rested between his shoulder blades.
He pulled Bakugou closer, tucking his head under Bakugou’s chin. He felt Bakugou’s chest inflate, and then a loud sigh blew across his hair. Bakugou’s arm wrapped around his middle, squeezing when Kirishima clutched him tightly. Kirishima tucked a leg between Bakugou’s knees, and the pressure all around him was so secure and comforting—he wanted to laugh, but only a choked half-sob came out. Bakugou shushed him, chin nudging his forehead.
I like you. I really, really like you. I missed you so much. The words crowded in his mouth, the pressure building in his skull, but he locked his jaw. He let the warmth between their bodies sink into his heart, his gut, until his skin tingled, and he snuggled closer. Rubbing his face on Bakugou’s shirt, he took a shaky breath and forced himself to relax. He smiled when he felt another squeeze around his ribs. Slowly, all the tension melted from his body, and he drifted to sleep as he felt Bakugou relax around him.
Despite Kirishima’s emotional and physical exhaustion, he slept poorly. He didn’t want to blame Bakugou because he really, really loved being so close to him and totally wanted to share a bed again, but . . . the guy slept like an asshole. He kept stretching out, taking all the space and all the blankets, pushing Kirishima into the wall, kicking him under the covers. Kirishima’s pillow was gone; he couldn’t guess where it had ended up. Bakugou’s arm was slung backwards over Kirishima’s face, elbow sharp and heavy on his neck. He snored, too, but Kirishima knew that from sharing a hotel room with him in the summer. He didn’t mind that.
Kirishima hadn’t noticed his friend’s restless sleeping habits back then—the bed had been spacious enough that even the moments when they’d cuddled up had been comfortable. But now that they were squished together on a twin-size mattress, Kirishima felt crowded and disgruntled.
He plucked Bakugou’s arm off his face and turned away with a huff, curling up toward the wall as he tugged the comforter over his shoulder. There was a lot of resistance—it was probably trapped under Bakugou. He sighed through his nose and pulled on the blanket again as hard as he could without ripping the fabric. Bakugou snorted in his sleep and shifted, finally freeing enough of the blanket for Kirishima to cover his upper body.
“K’shima?” Bakugou’s voice was slurred and drowsy.
He opened his eyes and turned his head to his friend. “Hmm?”
There was no answer, but there was a patting sound behind him before a warm hand slapped his back. After some more shuffling, Bakugou pressed flush against him with a long sigh, clutching Kirishima’s shirt and snoring peacefully. Kirishima couldn’t stop a little smile. Bakugou was pretty cute in his sleep, no matter how annoying. It was super nice to be snuggled up to.
His contentment did not last long. Pretty soon, Bakugou was practically rolling on top of him; he was heavy and hard to breathe under, and Kirishima ran way too warm for this much full-body contact all night. Sweating, he tried to pry Bakugou gently off, but when he wouldn’t budge, Kirishima resorted to pushing him away. Bakugou made a disgusted sound and turned around, kicking out a foot as he pushed his back into Kirishima’s side. In an attempt to contain his bed partner, Kirishima curled his body around him; he wrapped his arms tightly around Bakugou, holding Bakugou’s arms to his chest. Bakugou kicked again, so Kirishima pulled a knee up and rested it on Bakugou’s hip. He was fully spooning his friend at this point; he just hoped Bakugou would lie still long enough for Kirishima to fall asleep again.
Blessedly, several minutes passed without any movement. Kirishima let himself relax, his tense grip on Bakugou’s body loosening. He nuzzled the back of Bakugou’s neck, prickly blond hair tickling his forehead, and Bakugou snored softly.
When Kirishima next woke up, it was to the warm weight in his arms pulling away. An annoying, unfamiliar alarm rang somewhere in the distance. He frowned, scrunching his nose, and cuddled closer.
He grunted, tightening his arms. He felt a palm cover the back of his hand, and he breathed deeply, Bakugou’s smoky, kind of sweet scent filling his nose and mouth. An elbow hit his shoulder, and he groaned in protest. The alarm continued, blaring now that Kirishima was more aware of it.
“Kirishima, wake up,” Bakugou huffed. “I’m leaving early, remember?”
He squinted up at Bakugou, who was half-turned to him, elbow still stabbing Kirishima’s shoulder. Kirishima’s memory of the previous night gradually filtered through the fog of sleep, and he nodded once before releasing his friend. Bakugou sighed and slipped out of bed. The alarm finally stopped. Kirishima groaned tiredly, arching his back in a deep stretch. A warm, clammy hand pushed through his hair, and he turned toward the touch, keeping his eyes closed.
“Later, Shitty Hair.”
He hummed softly in acknowledgement, nuzzling into Bakugou’s palm. He heard a quiet, amused huff; then, the hand was gone. The door opened and clicked shut a moment later, and he rolled onto his stomach with a sappy smile. The sheets still smelled like Bakugou.