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Watch My Heart Burn

Chapter Text

“A funeral pyre? Is that even legal?”

“Well, it is just his hero uniform…”

“Yeah, but still! A huge fire in the middle of Japan?”

“We're in the middle of nowhere, not in Tokyo.”

“Even if we were, he is - was - the hero who saved Japan. They'd do whatever he wanted.”

“He was an idiot,” Katsuki said, silencing the group with four simple words. The fire crackled in front of him, ready to burn away the last remaining vestiges of him.

Katsuki had forgotten how to breathe.

“Well,” Denki eventually relented. Katsuki shouldn't be angry at him - he knows that Denki's fingers had turned white where he had held the package containing the ripped remains of his clothes, his face pale and stricken. He knew Denki was hurting, that he just didn't want to say goodbye.

But they're just clothes, and refusing to follow his wishes don't change the facts.

A funeral pyre for his clothing - that was only something he would do. Something stupid but simple and private, something extravagant that could be done at little cost in an hour. Katsuki didn't know if he had thought of these things when he wrote them into his will, but Katsuki thought about them now. As stupid as it was, as much as Katsuki rather be literally anywhere but where he was, he had to admit, this allowed his close friends to mourn him alone, without the flashes of cameras and fans crying at the gates.

Denki unwrapped the package, throwing the brown paper into the fire first. Katsuki watched the flames lick at its edges, turning them black and making it curl into itself before the fire engulfed it, burning away all vestiges of the packaging that had just been there.

Katsuki managed to suck in a breath of air.

Denki came into Katsuki's peripheral vision, and while his eyes never left the middle of the fire, he could tell in the soft glow that Denki was crying, surprisingly silent. His tears came constantly, like a stream, and they dripped onto the bundle of black and red cloth in his arms.

For a moment, Katsuki thought that Denki would say something, would try to make it a thing where they all said words they didn't want to say, but instead he unceremoniously dropped the clothes into the fire and stepped away, choking on tears and air.

They're adults now. Katsuki knew that, but it was hard sometimes to not think of his friends as the same idiots he had known in high school. If looked now, he had a feeling that he'd suddenly be struck by how old everyone looked, how grief flattened the youthful smiles and dulled the bright eyes. But he didn't want to look, because someone would be missing, someone who never got the chance to grow up more..

Katsuki managed to push that breath between clenched teeth.

His hero uniform had been made with flame resistant clothing - in part to make him a better partner for Katsuki - so for a brief, panicked second, when the clothing fell on the fire and covered it, plunging the surrounding area into darkness, Katsuki worried that this wouldn't work, that they came all this way out to burn this idiot's clothing and it didn't even work and they'd have to wait for the fire to go out and for the clothes to cool down because they couldn't leave his uniform out here -

But eventually, the flames found something to burn, and licked their way up the seams, building back to a steady blaze.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Don't cry.

The cloth didn't burn quickly, because the world wasn't so kind, but fire burned steadily, eating away at what it could. The air filled with the smell of leather burning as his belt and shoes caught flame, slowly blackening and charring from the fire. If Katsuki had reached out and touched them, he felt like they would have fallen apart.

Although, maybe that was just projection.

With the leather burning, and the parts of the uniform not made of flame retardant materials already burned to ash, the stray fibers and threads were the next to go and slowly, after what felt like a century, the rest of his uniform collapsed under the heat of the fire, curling into itself and burning up, disappearing before their very eyes.

Katsuki didn't know when he had tuned out the other people in that clearing with him, but slowly the sound of quiet crying and sniffling came to him, breaking him out of the revere he had fallen in over the last half hour as the fire had burned.

They moved around, getting ready to leave, but Katsuki focused on the boots, the sole peeling off and away from the leather, the glue melted and gone. The soft leather inside of the boots and the top of the sole caught fire quickly, burning away faster than the hardened outer parts had.

“We're leaving,” Kyouka said softly, a hand resting gently on his arm. He didn't look at her, didn't say anything, just watched the leather burn.

“Are you coming?” She asked, her voice somehow softer than it had been before. He shook his head - or maybe he didn't, maybe he just thought about it; he didn't feel real anymore - and she nodded, just inside his field of vision.

She stood on her tiptoes - she never did have a growth spurt in school like the rest of them - and kissed his cheek, just a gentle show of affection. And then she turned, leaving Katsuki alone with burning boots.

He focused on his breathing, in and out, but when he saw a burnt belt buckle and the R engraved on it, he couldn't stop the dam from breaking.

And when it broke, it was not a small trickle but a flood.

“You're such a fucking idiot,” he choked out through the sobs. His knees felt weak and he fell to the ground, his arms wrapped around his shoulders.

He felt hollow, as if someone had taken a knife and filleted him, carving out his insides and leaving nothing but a husk.

He hadn't been able to breath since he died, hadn't been able to sleep or eat. He was barely going on, only able to make it partly through spite, partly because he knew he'd want him to live on, and he couldn’t deny him, not now, not ever.

“Eijirou… you bastard,” Katsuki sobbed. He wanted to be angry, he wanted the flames of his angry to cauterize the open wounds on his soul, but as angry as he was, as furious as he was for his lost chances, his grief was stronger, more overwhelming. The fire just burned, nothing to stop it until it consumed Katsuki.

He had kissed Katsuki. Ten years of pining, ten years of putting it off and away because he didn't want to lose his best friend, and then Kirishima grabbed his face and kissed him.

“For luck,” he had said, smiling that goofy grin, and then he ran off to what would turn out to be his death. Katsuki, who had always felt stronger than people thought, had never had such a vicious whiplash of hope and then despair.

Ten years of pining, all for ten minutes of hope, and the rest of his life in pain.

His sobs came violently at this point, clawing their way out of his throat and cutting him along the way. He wanted to hit something, he wanted to die, he wanted Eijirou to kiss him again.

“I loved you… I love you,” Katsuki breathed out, trying to ease the desperate ache in his lungs, but all he had was ash for his troubles.

“I had never loved anything as fucking much as you,” he said, focusing his cleary vision back on the belt. He could picture Eijirou'a face, clear as day. It had been tattooed on the back of his eyelids these last few days, after all.

He could see the big red eyes, softer and warmer than they had any right to be; the half smile he saved for Katsuki, where the tips of those shark teeth would poke out, biting back a bigger grin; he could see his hair - down, up, bleached, black-rooted, freshly dyed, tied back - he could see it all and everything all at once. It was ten years of Eijirou, ten years of desperate and stupid yearning, of puppy dog love and then real love and then a deep admiration and happiness to just be around.

He could see all of the sad eyes and happy eyes and pensive and angry and excited and all the smiles and hairstyles and emotions. He feel every touch, every soft touch of his fingers, every sparred punch, every brush of a calloused palm that made his heart race, he could feel thighs pressed together, comfort in the shared silence of their dining room, he could feel arms thrown over shoulders when he had drank a little too much and arms wrapped around him like a koala when he drank much too much, he could remember the touch of unbreakable's spikes and the way they compared to his normal tanned skin.

He could remember the way Eijirou's lips had felt, warm and desperate and soft, how they had felt like perfection, how in the middle of a stressful battlefield it had all just disappeared because Kirishima Eijirou had been kissing him.

It was too much, much too painful, and Katsuki felt like he was being burned along with those dumb fucking clothes on that stupid pyre.

The only difference was that, while he sobbed and the fire ebbed, he still existed, as hollow as he felt. Buried on those embers and ash, most of his uniform was gone, indistinguishable and they'd blow away with the wind; the last remnants of Kirishima left in this world.

Well, that wasn't true - he'd always be there as the person sized hole in Katsuki's heart.

His sobs had waned with the fire, leaving him nothing but an empty and sore husk of a man. Once, once long ago, he had so many things to live for. And yet -

And yet, when he reached for them now, he found nothing.

The wind blew, just a gentle gust that gave life to the embers left on the pyre, making them shine red hot against the burnt belt buckle.

Katsuki's eyes fell on it, on it's familiar shape, on the blackened red tone of the R.

Before the part of his brain not broken by grief could stop him, he reached out and grabbed ahold of the buckle. It burned, as a piece of metal that had just been in fire obviously would, but after nearly three decades of explosions his hands could handle the heat.

The burn was a buoy, a way to tie him back to life, to reality.

It was Eijirou, or all that Katsuki had left anyway.

Chapter Text

And for the people in Red Riot's life? What did they do after the hero's death?

Well, Ashido Mina, Kaminari Denki, Sero Hanta and Jirou Kyouka broke away from their established hero groups to open a practice together, citing the lost of their close friend as inspiration. Kyouka Jirou described the group as an attempt to circumvent the way being a hero can often lead to losing friends, due to the long and often inflexible hours.

The Riot Brigade, as they named themselves, became one of Japan's top hero groups. Their hero work pivoted from pursuing villains to search and rescue and they are credited with saving over 5 million lives over their long tenure.

They eventually disbanded after thirty years, where most of them set down the mantle of hero. Kaminari Denki and Jirou Kyouka married and later adopted a child who they rescued from a natural disaster, one that had sadly claimed her parents. Their daughter is now going to UA High, and is considered one of the brightest students in her year.

Sero Hanta kept out of the spotlight following retirement and retired to the countryside. Rumor is that he still helps out with local disasters, but nothing official has been confirmed.

Ashido Mina became a spokesperson for the risks of hero work, and an advocate for the heroes left crippled by their jobs. Thanks to her, Japan's “Rest Easy Hero” law was passed, ensuring that heroes - both large and small - maintained a small pension for the duties once they retired, as well as high quality medical care.

But what about Ground Zero, Red Riot's hero partner?

Following Red Riot's death, Bakugou Katsuki took an extended break from hero work. While no official statement was issued and the Riot Brigade refused to comment on his whereabouts, anonymous sources claimed that he spent his time in Aomori prefecture, scaling the seaside cliffs and grieving over the loss of his partner.

Not one to make a small entrance, however, Bakugou’s first move back as a hero was to bring down what remained of the crime syndicate that had lead to Kirishima’s death. Most noticeably to some people, however, was that he returned to the career with several modifications to his uniform, including Red Riot's belt buckle. He prominently showed the buckle off as a fastener for the other new addition - a dark red cape that was evocative of Kirishima’s half cape. He also replaced the green in his uniform with a dark red, the inspiration obvious.

While frequently working with The Riot Brigade, Bakugou Katsuki never officially joined them. While he never stated the reason why, many people believe it was because he didn't want to stop fighting villains.

Other people claimed it was because he didn't want to partner with anyone in official capacity that wasn't Red Riot, citing the fact that he never entered another partnership or group despite political pressure.

This, plus his infamous habit of leaving high level villains little more than charred flesh and broken bones, earned him the moniker “The Widower”.

When he eventually retired, he basically disappeared from the spotlight. His patience for reporters had been bad at first, only to progressively get worse throughout his lifetime.

Recently, there have been rumors of a girl with flaming red hair visiting his secluded home. Some more conspiratorial members of the public believe this girl maybe be the granddaughter of a Red Riot secret child, the more reliable rumor is that this red head visitor may be Kirishima Eiji - one of Red Riot's nieces who attends UA High with Jirou and Kaminari's daughter.

Many people who believe the these rumors also believe that Bakugou Katsuki is mentoring her, despite his previous refusal to serve as a mentor. They say that her relation, and similarity, to his late partner is what caused him to relent.

While many heroes knew and loved Red Riot, and many more looked up to him, it is not debated that these five were the closest, and that his presence could be felt in their work as heroes.”

- Excerpt from “A Hero's Legacy”, a biopic about Kirishima Eijirou.