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Being sore was part of the job, but with Bakugou it was worse, and Todoroki was dreading the aches he was going to have all over his body when he woke up the next morning. He was already sore; Bakugou was mercilessly biting down on bruises he’d made earlier, clawing his nails into Todoroki’s purpling hips as Bakugou pounded into him from behind. He bit at the sheets to keep himself from grunting in pain, but his back arched of its own accord and he cried out when Bakugou backhanded his ass.

“You like my cock, slut?”

“Fuck off,” Todoroki hissed, and Bakugou slapped him again.

“What the fuck did you say?” he growled, yanking Todoroki up by his two-toned hair.

Todoroki closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and then let out his best high-pitched moan. “I love your fucking cock, daddy,” he crooned, “love the way you use me. Want more daddy, more, please, more!” Bakugou bit down on his shoulder and he felt his skin tear. He grimaced and blinked tears out of his eyes as the noises Bakugou was making became louder, more animalistic, and he was pushed forward until his body was pressed flat to the mattress, his breathing alarmingly muffled by the blanket below him while Bakugou held him down as he came. When Bakugou went limp Todoroki pushed him off and rolled over, catching his breath.

Todoroki caught the whiff of cigarette smoke and turned to face the blond. Bakugou was sitting at the edge of the bed, lit cigarette pressed to his lips.

“Isn’t this a non-smoking room?” Todoroki asked.

“What are you, a fucking narc?”

Todoroki sighed. “I want one.” Bakugou obliged and Todoroki placed it between his lips, letting Bakugou light it. Todoroki made a face as he inhaled -- he usually only smoked menthols -- but the nicotine was soothing regardless, and it helped him forget about the sorry state his body was in for a moment.

After he ashed the cigarette he stood up and began to rummage around on the floor for his clothes. Bakugou looked at him haughtily from the bed. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m leaving. You got what you paid for.”

“If I pay you for more will you give me more?”

Todoroki sighed, fist clenching in the pants he was holding. “You want more ?”

“How much for the rest of the night?”

“You wanna do this all night ?”

“How much?”

“I haven’t even fucking eaten dinner.”

“Fine then. Get dressed, we’ll go get dinner, and then we’ll come back here.”

Todoroki ran his hand through his hair, the only tell that he was trying to make up his mind, and then pulled his pants on. “Fine. But no more marking when we get back. I’m gonna have these for weeks.”

“Good,” Bakugou smirked. “Let everyone know who you belong to.”

“I don’t fucking belong to you, Bakugou.”

“As long as I’m paying you, you don’t seem to wanna leave, so I’m gonna call that bluff,” Bakugou whispered in his ear as he walked past him to grab his own clothes off of the floor. Once his pants were on and his blouse was lazily buttoned up to his chest, Bakugou walked over to the minibar on the far wall and quickly downed a glass of whiskey. He grabbed his wallet and a set of keys and placed them in his pants pockets, and then his gun, stuffing it in the waistband of his pants.

“Why do you need a gun to go to dinner?”

“I’m Katsuki fucking Bakugou. Why would I go anywhere without a gun?”

---

They went to a high-end restaurant, decorated with glimmering crystal chandeliers and tealights and arrangements of orchids at each of the tables. It was crowded but the pair was seated immediately, in an alcove out of sight from most other guests. Sometimes being Bakugou’s plaything had its perks, admittedly.

They were halfway through their meal, and Todoroki well into his third glass of red wine, when their waiter walked up to the table, a slightly concerned look on his face. “The man at the bar wants to talk to you, Bakugou, sir.”

“Tell him not tonight.”

“He said it’s urgent, sir.”

“Have him call Denki or Mina. They’ll handle it.”

“He said it needs to be you.” The waiter recoiled as Bakugou balled his hand into a fist on the table, but the blond managed to relax himself.

“Fine. Bring an extra chair over for him.”

The waiter nodded and left, returning a few moments later with a chair, a man following behind him. He looked like he didn’t belong in the restaurant at all, wearing a ratty dark grey hoodie and baggy jeans, his light blue hair unkempt and hanging limp and greasy around his face. He sat down and brushed some of his hair behind an ear, revealing some of the most chapped lips Todoroki had ever seen.

“Who’s this?” the man asked, his voice nasally and aggravating, nodding his head towards Todoroki.

“Not a business partner, so keep your fucking mouth shut.”

“No? A pet then?”

Todoroki bristled, but didn’t say anything.

“Could you be any more aggravating?” Bakugou replied. “What’s so important that you need to interrupt me during dinner, Shigaraki?”

The blue-haired man pouted. “I need your expertise, Bakugou. Bunch of street thugs stole a shipment. Need you to show them why that’s a no-no. Make a statement like only you can. Light them up.”

Bakugou glared at Shigaraki with narrowed eyes. “Not tonight.”

“We won’t know where they are after tonight.”

“Not my fuckin’ problem.”

Shigaraki tapped yellow, untrimmed fingernails against the table. “All for One is going to be disappointed when I tell him your allegiance to the League is fading.” There was just a hint of a sneer on his thin lips, and when Bakugou threw the cloth napkin that had been on his lap onto the table, Todoroki could tell that it meant Shigaraki had won.

“Send me the location.” He threw cash to pay for their unfinished meal on the table and then stood up. “Come on,” he gestured to Todoroki. “I’ll drop you off at the hotel. Order whatever you want for dinner once you’re there.”  

Todoroki drifted off on the ride back, and it was only when he opened his eyes that he realized that they were definitely not driving towards their hotel. They were in the industrial section of the city, driving through block after block of warehouses.

“I thought you said you were dropping me off at the hotel,” Todoroki whispered, not bothering to hide the concern in his voice.

“No time,” Bakugou said, distracted, as he read the numbers of the side of warehouse buildings. “Aha.” He put the car in park. “Do not get out of the fucking car, you understand?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Todoroki said, rolling his eyes.

Bakugou got out of the car and opened the trunk, pulling out what looked like some sort of huge gun on a tripod. Bakugou smoked a cigarette as he set the contraption up facing a garage door at the front of the warehouse. Then he pulled his own gun out and walked up to the main entrance next to the garage door, checking his surroundings before kicking it open.

It was silent for a few minutes, and then Todoroki jumped as he heard a commotion, yelling, and several gunshots. Todoroki reached for his phone, but quickly realized there was no one he could call. A prostitute calling the cops while out with a gangster? Not liable to go very well. He could call Inasa, but his boyfriend would probably murder him for being so careless with a client. Or maybe Yagi, but, no, his pride wouldn’t let him call his pimp to get him out of trouble, even if he would be so gracious and willing to. Too doting. Too kind about these kinds of things.

So he sat and waited with bated breath for the commotion to finally quiet down. He started to panic after a period of extended silence, looked at the keys in the ignition and considered taking off, but just as he reached for them to turn the car back on, the garage door slowly lifted up. It was too far away for him to see exactly what was inside it, but the mass of limp bodies on the ground was unmistakable. Someone was walking out of the garage, towards the car, and from his stride Todoroki could tell it was Bakugou. He exhaled and slumped down into his seat, relieved, and watched as Bakugou walked back to the gun he’d set up facing the garage and fired it.

Todoroki realized what it was as he watched the inside of the warehouse garage go up in flames, the blast from the explosion rocking the car a little bit. Bakugou packed up the rocket launcher and walked back to the car. Once the smoke cleared he put it back in the trunk as casually as if he was packing up a grill after a barbecue.

He sat down in the driver's seat and tossed a metal briefcase into Todoroki’s lap.

“What’s this?”

“Shipment.” Bakugou was sporting a fresh shiner, and there was caked blood on his forehead and hands. Even though he couldn't see it, Todoroki was sure that his black clothes were be stained with blood too. “Don’t fucking open it,” Bakugou added when Todoroki started to fiddle with it.

“Fine, sorry.” Todoroki paused as Bakugou started the car back up. “You keep a rocket launcher in your car?”

“What, you don’t?”

Todoroki snorted, genuinely amused at his inability to tell whether Bakugou was being serious or not. He glimpsed a small smile flit over Bakugou’s face for a moment before his usual scowl returned.

They dropped the briefcase off at an unmarked post office box in the middle of the city, and then that was that.

Back at the hotel, Bakugou showered and Todoroki ended up falling asleep while waiting for him. He woke up in the middle of the night to Bakugou pressed up against his back, whimpering in his sleep as his hands clawed into Todoroki’s stomach, holding onto him for dear life.

Bakugou’s choice of profession must also take a toll on him, he supposed.

He’d had dangerous clients before. Hell, his boss was considered a dangerous and formidable man, even in his retirement. But Bakugou was different. Bakugou was the first client he’d ever had who legitimately scared him, and if he didn’t do something about it soon he was worried that he was going to end up part of something that he wanted to stay as far away from as possible.

 

---

 

The first time Bakugou walked into Club Plus Ultra, he’d been fifteen, and he’d strode into the strip club with same swagger as the older men who he had walked in with. The bouncer had given him a dark look and placed his hand on Bakugou’s chest to stop him from going in. “No funny business,” he said, pushing his long dark hair out of his face. “You touch a single one of the dancers and I’ll personally ensure that you’re never able to physically walk into this establishment again.”

Bakugou brushed him off. “Whatever, Scruffy. You don’t gotta worry about that.”

There had been no need to worry because none of the dancers that night had been male. He was only there to drink and get high in private, which the owners of the club curiously turned a blind eye to.

Later, when Bakugou learned that the club had gay nights, he started showing up much more often -- started showing up on his own.

He was eighteen, in a shadowed booth at the back of the club smoking a cigarette and nursing a gin and tonic, watching the men dance from a distance, when a startlingly tall, lanky figure slid into the booth next to him.

“Bakugou, yes?” the man asked, his voice gentle and firm. Bakugou’s hand subconsciously reached towards the gun tucked into his pants. He didn’t say anything and the man continued. “You’re in here a lot.”

“What’s it to you?” he spat.

“From the stories I’ve heard about you, young Bakugou, one would think you’re much older than you are.”

“And?” he said, swishing his drink around in his glass.

“Would you like to meet any of them?”

Bakugou turned to face the man, confused, and then saw that he was looking in the direction of the dancers. His face colored and he slouched back into the booth.

The tall man bellowed with a surprisingly hearty chuckle for his frail body. “The name’s Toshinori Yagi,” he said, offering a large, gnarled hand. “My husband and I own this establishment.”

Bakugou stared at him, open-mouthed. This was Toshinori Yagi? Retired underground fight club champion and right-hand man of Nana, the most infamous crime boss in the underground, at least before the League had snuffed her out?

And Toshinori Yagi had heard stories about him ?

“You don’t look like--” Bakugou started, deciding that deriding Yagi’s appearance would be the best way to deflect his sudden self-consciousness.

“--Like I could crush a man with a single fist?” Yagi answered for him, clenching his spindly fingers together. “Live the kind of life I used to for long enough and it’s bound to break you, sooner or later.” He sounded slightly wistful, but Bakugou wondered if he also sensed a hint of a warning laced in with the nostalgia as well. Yagi sighed. “But you’re not here for a lecture. Come on. I’ll take you backstage.”

Bakugou wasn’t going to argue with that.

Bakugou had been surrounded by men, surrounded by violent and brash overt displays of masculinity his entire life. And there was a homosociality inherent in it, loyal bonds deeper than brotherhood. But the homoeroticism of Yagi’s club was something different, and as Yagi led him backstage and he glimpsed man after man in various states of undress helping each other get ready or wipe down from the show, Bakugou felt his whole body heat up. They walked down the hallways, past dressing room after chaotic dressing room, and then Yagi stopped in front of a closed door. He knocked. “Shouta, dear, can I come in?”

A muffled “yeah,” from inside, and Yagi opened the door.

They stepped into a small office, the grey walls, filing cabinets, and fluorescent lights startlingly bland compared to the rest of the club. The bouncer who was at the door most nights pried his eyes away from a spreadsheet on the computer in front of him and rolled around in a desk chair to face them.

“This is my husband, Shouta Aizawa. You’ve probably seen him at the door before.”

“Sure have. What’s the point of this again?”

“Hi, Bakugou. Nice to formally meet you. Could you sit down over there, please?” Aizawa gestured nonchalantly to a worn leather couch on the far wall of the office. “I can handle the rest, Tosh. Go get some rest.”

Yagi nodded and left, squeezing Bakugou’s shoulder as he walked past him.

“What’s all this about?” Bakugou asked, sitting on the couch and sinking into the well-worn cushion a little bit.

“It’s kind of like a consultation,” Aizawa said matter-of-factly. “You’ve seen the face we show to the world,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the vague thump of bass that could still be heard from the office. “But I guess Toshinori got a sense that you might be interested in,” Aizawa paused, rifling through a folder and pulling out a packet of papers, “the underbelly.” He grabbed a pen from his desk and clicked it.

Bakugou’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion. “Who do you guys work for?”

Aizawa shook his head. “No one. Not anymore.”

“Then what the fuck is this? You trying to kidnap me or some shit?”

Aizawa snorted. “Only if that’s what you’re into.”

“Fuck off,” Bakugou said, standing up and starting to make his way to the door.

“Escort services, Bakugou.” Bakugou stopped walking. “Male escort services.”

The blond turned around. Aizawa’s lips were pulled up in a smirk, his teeth gleaming. He shifted in his seat, leaning back with paper and pen in his hand. “Would you be interested in meeting our boys, Bakugou?”

He gritted his teeth and sat back down. “Yes.”

Aizawa nodded thoughtfully. “Yagi wanted to wait until you were of age. You are of age, right?”

“Yes.”

“So, tell me, Bakugou. What’re you into?”

Bakugou sputtered, his cheeks going red as he crossed his arms and sank further into the couch. “Fuck kinda question is that?”

“A necessary one, if you’re going to have a good time.” Aizawa propelled himself forward in the rolling chair until he was only a couple feet away from Bakugou, face-to-face with him. He showed his teeth again, grinning. “You a virgin, Bakugou?”

Bakugou felt his face go crimson and he turned away from Aizawa, looking pointedly down at the leather on the couch. “The last time someone asked me a bullshit question like that I splattered their brains across the pavement,” Bakugou hissed, barely a whisper. He saw Aizawa check a box on his sheet of paper out of the corner of his eye.

“May I get closer for a moment, Bakugou?”

“Wha--” Aizawa leaned forward, his hand reaching out towards Bakugou’s cheek and jaw. Bakugou snarled and slapped his hand away. “What the fuck was that?!”

Aizawa ignored him, muttering to himself as he wrote. “Needs to be in control of things… good to know…”

“What the fuck are you blabbering on about?” Bakugou snapped, his heart beating rapidly.

Aizawa sighed. “Just read over this packet, check off everything you think you might be into. Cross off what you know you're definitely not into. Sign the waiver, leave it on the desk when you’re done. Oh, and make sure you’re clear on the pricing. The boys set their own prices. Costs a pretty penny.”

“Pretty fuckin’ thorough for dealing in back-alley whores.”

Aizawa stood up and handed Bakugou the packet and the pen, frowning. “Escorts.”

“Same fuckin’ difference.”

A few days later he had sex for the first time, and over the coming months and into years he fucked his way through whore after whore. He revelled in the sense of power sex gave him, a different kind of feeling than the power he felt whenever he fought or killed. It was more fluid, like water simmering slowly to a boil, than the explosive force of violence.

It was a power he could relax into, and Yagi’s men were always oh so obliging.

And then he’d met Shouto Todoroki, who had made it a point to not be obliging, who pushed back against every demand Bakugou made, who forced him to take it from him rather than just rolling over and being an obedient, passive party to Bakugou’s needs.

It drove him fucking insane, and the fact that he couldn’t tell whether or not Todoroki actually hated him or was just playing at being hot-and-cold towards him turned him on even more. He’d become a regular of Todoroki’s almost immediately, rarely ever requesting anyone else.

All the blood and violence and killing built up the pressure, and a hard fuck released it. And God, Todoroki was a good goddamn release.

 

---

 

Bakugou towelled off his hair, looking at his obscured figure in the bathroom mirror through a coat of steam. He prodded at the crescent of purple under his eye and hissed. At least he was clean now. He hated how fucking messy he got when he was out running errands for Shigaraki.

Towel around his waist and cigarette in hand, he sat at the small table at the edge of the hotel room and watched Todoroki sleep. God, the man was so fucking pretty. His legs were tangled in the sheets, and Bakugou’s eyes trailed possessively up the curve of his ass, lingering on the marks he’d left there, up his side and over the bite marks on his shoulder, to his neck. As his eyes rested there he found himself growing angry, thinking about other seedy men with their mouths pressed there, nipping at his soft flesh. He knew it happened, knew it was Todoroki’s job, but he couldn’t fucking stand thinking about it.

But Bakugou always got what he wanted. Always. He made sure of it. And he’d do the same with Todoroki.

He ashed his cigarette and made his way over to the bed, dropping his towel and curling around Todoroki. He grabbed his waist, pushing Todoroki’s ass back into him, and placed his open mouth on the back of Todoroki’s neck. Todoroki shifted and whined a little but didn’t wake up. Bakugou started moving against him but quickly found his eyelids fluttering closed of their own accord. He was so warm next to Todoroki, and the other man’s breathing was so slow and even that without even realizing it his breath began to match it and he was drifting off, past the black of sleep and into eventual nightmares of phantom flames and death.

His head ached when he woke the next morning, a dizzying throb behind his black eye. He groaned and shoved his head into the pillow.

“Should I just take it out of your wallet?”

“Hrm?”

Bakugou rolled over and noticed that Todoroki wasn’t in bed anymore. He was standing at the dresser, fully dressed, holding up Bakugou’s wallet.

“Yeah, whatever.”

“I don’t really have a price point for ‘unwilling accomplice to murder,’ so I’ll just settle on double the normal amount,” he said, counting out crisp hundreds.

Bakugou threw a pillow at him. “Shitty accomplice,” he hissed, his voice gravelly with sleep. “Y’didn’t do shit.”

“Okay. Call it a kidnapping fee then.”

“Fuck you, IcyHot. Y’wanna know what it’s actually like bein’ kidnapped by me?” Bakugou sat up and yawned. “Cause it ain’t pretty.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that one.” He pocketed his wad of cash. “No surprises next time. You want me for the entire night, you tell me beforehand. If we’re going anywhere other than the hotel room, you tell me beforehand. If something like this happens again, I’ll have to go to Yagi. Understood?”

“How much for you to not fuck anyone else?”

“Bakugou, are you even listening to-- wait, what ?”

“Only me. How much for you to only fuck me?”

Todoroki shook his head. “I told you last night, Bakugou. I don’t belong to you.”

“What if I pay you double what you normally make? Triple?” Bakugou’s eyes gleamed dangerously with want.

“No.” Todoroki’s voice was raised, just enough to convey that he wasn’t going to budge.

Bakugou grabbed the lamp on the bedside table and chucked it in Todoroki’s direction. Todoroki calmly stepped to the side and it slammed into the wall, shattering all over the dresser and the floor.

Todoroki strode to the door, opened it, and stood still for a second, facing away from Bakugou.

“Some advice? Don’t alienate the only people who are willing to put up with your bullshit.”

He slammed the door behind him and left Bakugou alone in bed, panting, nostrils flared and chest hot with rage.

The sound of his phone vibrating on the dresser pulled him back into the present, and he trudged across the room to it, shaking shards of ceramic from the broken lamp off of it before picking up.

“Yeah?”

A stern, overbearing voice spoke on the other line, and Bakugou rolled his eyes.

“We need to talk, Bakugou. I’ve been hearing things that are concerning.”

“Yeah, like what, Iida?”

“That’s Commissioner Iida to you, Bakugou.”

Bakugou ignored him. “What kind of things?”

“Things about you. As well as slightly more pressing matters. But I won’t talk about this over the phone. Can you be at the usual spot in two hours?”

“Yeah, yeah, Four-Eyes, I’ll be there.”

“Good.”

The line went silent, and Bakugou sighed, going to put his phone down on the wrecked dresser and then thinking twice about it, tossing it on the bed instead while he got dressed in his old, filthy clothes.

Never a fucking break. There was always someone who needed his attention. Between the League itself, the goddamn city cops that the League had paid off, and his own squad, he was rarely ever able to just turn off for a moment. His brief and intermittent rendezvous with Todoroki had come close, but now the thought of him just sent more white-hot spikes of anger through his system.

He stopped at the apartment he shared with his four top cronies on the way to change into clothes that weren’t caked in blood. It was a cramped shithole, but he wasn’t there that often, out on jobs most nights or opting to stay at a hotel instead.

He could smell the sour haze of weed from the hallway in the apartment complex, and when he opened the door Kaminari and Jirou waved lazily at him from the couch where they were playing a first-person shooter.

“Hey boss!” Kaminari beamed. “Where ya been?”

“Out,” he said. “Gimme some of that.”

Denki reached over and handed Bakugou the blunt he’d been smoking. Bakugou sucked a long hit out of it and then handed it back, and the smoke leaked out of his nose and mouth as he spoke. “I’m going out.”

“Damn, boss, you ever gonna just chill here anymore?”

“Maybe if this place wasn’t so much of a trash heap, Denki. And if I’m chilling I’m not getting shit done. So I’ll pass.”

Kaminari made a teasing face in response as Bakugou walked to his room.

On his way out, in fresh fitted pants and a form-fitting sweater, Jirou stopped him. “We allowed to ask about the black eye?”

“Shigaraki needed me to take some guys out, so I did.”

“Come on , boss, we keep telling you to stop doing that shit alone. What if something were to happen to you?”

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t alone. Now piss off.” He ignored the confused look Jirou gave Denki as he slammed the door behind him.

 

---

 

Iida and Bakugou’s go-to meeting spot was a lightly-trafficked seedy diner on the outskirts of the city. When Bakugou entered he saw him seated at a booth, his hands folded together primly on the table. He was wearing plain clothes to detract from any unease or unwanted attention that a cop in this part of the city might attract. Bakugou slid in across from him and ordered coffee and a spicy breakfast hash.

“So, what’s the occasion, Iida?” Bakugou asked.

“A few things.” He adjusted his glasses. “First, you need to stop making it so easy for us to identify you at crime scenes.”

Bakugou crossed his arms. “No idea what you’re talking about.”

Iida gave him a harsh, knowing look. “Last night’s little warehouse incident, for example. Your blood is on the scene. You’re in the security footage, Bakugou.” Bakugou scoffed. “Not to mention your signature style of attack,” Iida continued, jabbing a hand in his direction. “Detonated weapons.”

“You’re gonna need to talk to Shigaraki then. He’s the one who sent me on such short notice.”

“You need to get smarter about what you’re doing out there, Bakugou. There’s only so much evidence I can obfuscate or destroy before things start looking suspicious.” Iida sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“It’s not like I can just say no to the League when they pull this shit on me. You know how they are.”

“Yes, I know. Just, I don’t know, call me next time before you run into something on such short notice. I could have at least told you where the security cameras were beforehand.”

“That’s fair.”

The pair were silent for a moment as the waitress refilled their coffees and set their food down. Iida gave her a smile and a gracious thank you, but Bakugou just frowned, sipped his coffee, and spat, “you got anything hotter than this lukewarm piss?”

Iida flailed his arms around in the air emphatically. “He doesn’t mean that, ma’am, sorry, he’s just a little grumpy today is all--”

“GRUMPY?!” Bakugou yelled, and the waitress jumped and walked away hurriedly.

“Sullen as a toddler, Bakugou. It’s dishonorable.”

“Honor is the last thing I give a fuck about, Four-Eyes.”

Iida sipped thoughtfully at his coffee for a moment. “That brings you me to the next thing I wanted to talk to you about.” All sense of lightheartedness left his tone of voice and Bakugou noticed it, sitting up a little bit straighter and listening more intently.

“There’s a vigilante killer a couple cities over. Takes down gangs, crime syndicates, the like. Have you heard of him?”

Bakugou shook his head.

“We were keeping an eye on his case, just because you can never be too careful. And I’m glad we did, because your little stunt wasn’t our biggest problem last night. This guy took down an entire small upstart gang, apparently on his own, in the city last night.”

“Shit,” Bakugou muttered.

“He calls himself Stain. Vigilante justice, ridding cities of crime, all of that. And technically, I suppose he’s on the cops’ side, but he took out some cops in that other city too, so…”

“So what you’re saying is he’s going after corrupt cops too, not just street criminals.”

“From what we know about him, he’s got an entire honor code, like a manifesto. And the scene he left for us was… grisly. Just be careful out there, Bakugou. We’re doing our best to track him down but he’s slippery. I wasn’t expecting him to show up in our city but I guess that’s just how it is now. If anything ever feels off, you call me, all right? I’ll let you know whenever we find out more about him.”

Bakugou nodded. “The League know about this yet?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t been in contact with them. I prefer talking to you, if I’m being totally honest. Which is saying something,” he added under his breath.

“I think I’m gonna keep this just between us and my men. I wouldn’t really mind if Stain got to some of the League. It’d give me some more goddamn wiggle room.”

“Once they’ve got you, it’s really like a vice grip, isn’t it?” Iida said, sighing.

“Yeah. Something like that.”

Chapter Text

Bakugou sat on a rusted swing at a playground in a tiny park across from a convenience store, in a part of the city so anarchic that the cops ignored its existence. He held a hand over the cigarette he was smoking to try to shield it from the rain.

When it inevitably got too wet to continue smoking, he tossed in nonchalantly in the direction of the body in front of him.

More of Shigaraki's dirty work.

The fucker had managed to kick his gun away and he'd had to use his knife. He was still covered in blood somehow, despite the rain. He hated that.

The rain chilled him to the bone and he shivered, but for some reason he couldn't get himself to stand up and walk back to his apartment. He dug his feet into the gravel to keep the swing from moving.

He needed hands on him, he needed warmth enveloping him.

He needed obliteration. There were only a few things in the world that could give him that.

"Sero, how are we on Xans?" Bakugou asked on the phone as he finally trudged back to the apartment. "Can we spare a bottle or two?"

"Course, boss. We got plenty."

A couple of hours later, with a plastic orange bottle in his pocket, he was on his way to his favorite hotel, to meet his favorite means of obliteration. The only one who knew what to do with him.

There was no way that Bakugou could have known, but he would end up covered in blood a second time that night. And that time, it would not be someone else’s.

 

---

 

In retrospect, Todoroki should have probably cancelled his next meeting with Bakugou, to give him some time to cool down. But, knowing Bakugou the way he did, cancelling very well might have had the opposite effect.

Instead he simply showed up at their usual hotel the next week, some of his bruises from the week before still a sickly fading yellow.

“What’ll it be tonight?” Todoroki asked, his words tinged with a pointed attitude.

Bakugou sighed as he unbuttoned his shirt, looking down at Todoroki, who was already on the bed, his back propped up against the headboard. “I don’t have the patience for any of your bullshit tonight. Fucking exhausted.”

“Oh? One of those weeks?”

Bakugou merely grunted and got in bed, pulling Todoroki on top of him. He straddled Bakugou and reached down to fondle his chest. “That doesn’t answer the question of what I’m supposed to do to you.”

“Don’t care. Just get me off.”

Todoroki frowned. He had been almost completely certain that Bakugou would still be hot-headed and fiery after the end of their previous meeting. Was Todoroki... disappointed?

“Fine,” Todoroki said, and shimmied out of his own clothing before removing the rest of Bakugou’s. As he did he noticed a pill bottle on the bedside table.

“What are those?”

Bakugou looked up at Todoroki, just the tiniest bit bleary-eyed. “Xannies. Want one?”

“Is that why you’re like this?”

“Like what, IcyHot?”

“Lazy?”

“Heh. Come on, fuck me,” Bakugou said, grinding his hips upward.

“Give me one first.”

Bakugou reached over for the pill bottle, dropping it on the bed next to Todoroki. He took one of the pills and then set to work on Bakugou, pouring the lube he’d brought with him over Bakugou’s cock and pumping it with his hand. He always prepped himself beforehand, so all it took was getting Bakugou hard and then he slid his dick inside him.

Bakugou let out a small moan and let his hands rest lazily on Todoroki’s hips, but otherwise he didn't move, so Todoroki started grinding his hips, curious about this new Bakugou that was too xanned out to rough him up and dominate him.

After a little while Todoroki started to feel it too, a wash of sleepy euphoria coming over him. He stopped caring about what the sex may or may not feel like for Bakugou, and just let himself undulate on top of him, slow and unconcerned. Every time his cock hit his sweet spot he gasped a little, but he was too unfocused to be the least bit concerned with coming.

Bakugou’s eyes were closed, his mouth drooping open. “Bakugou--” Todoroki drawled, “Bakugou, you even awake?”

“Shhhh, shut up,” Bakugou grumbled, his eyes fluttering open for a brief moment before closing again. “Feels good, don’t stop.”

And Todoroki didn’t stop. Time slid on and on, and eventually, Todoroki leaned down, laying on top of Bakugou. Bakugou wrapped his arms around him and rolled them both over onto their sides, hooking one of Todoroki’s legs over his shoulder. He started thrusting slowly, lazily, and Todoroki just held onto him, hands draped around his neck, revelling in the sleepy feeling of warm skin pressed so close to him.

He could get used to this Bakugou.

At some point, Todoroki was flipped over and Bakugou started fucking him in a spooning position. They fell asleep before either of them had the chance to come. If Todoroki had to guess, they had been fucking for close to two hours.

He woke up when Bakugou started moving inside him again, slow humping at first, like he was doing it in his sleep, and then more vigorous, the heat of Bakugou’s body building against Todoroki’s back until they were sweaty and sticking to each other. Bakugou had one hand on Todoroki’s waist and the other in his hair, and his teeth were planted in his shoulder, just hard enough to use as more leverage for thrusting.

“Fuck,” he moaned, “ fuck, baby, fuck, lemme use your hole, yeah, fuck!

He figured he would save working out why he was just the tiniest bit excited that Bakugou seemed to be back to normal for later, and started grinding back into Bakugou’s thrusts, letting him know that he’d woken up. Bakugou growled in his ear, picking up the pace and rolling onto his stomach so that Todoroki was underneath him. “Yeah, that’s right baby, fuck yeah,” he snarled, his hips snapping against Todoroki’s ass. “Who the fuck does this ass belong to?” he said, slapping the side of Todoroki’s ass as he thrusted.

Todoroki grunted and grit his teeth. How was he supposed to fucking answer that question? Bakugou knew what he was doing, knew what he was asking.

“I said, who do you belong to!? ” Bakugou yelled, his fist close to ripping out Todoroki’s hair. Todoroki squirmed underneath him and attempted to sit up, but was just pushed further into the mattress.

God fucking damnit. What he was about to do might end his professional relationship with Bakugou, but Bakugou had started taking it further than he was comfortable with for a professional relationship. The loss would sting a little. Bakugou was one of his most regular clients, but he could handle it.

He steeled himself, and then spoke, as calm as he could manage. “Bakugou, I revoke consent.” It was something Yagi and Aizawa stressed heavily with every client they allowed to see any of their men, their number one rule: They had the right to revoke consent at any point.

Bakugou didn’t stop at first, and Todoroki couldn’t tell if he just hadn't heard him or if he was ignoring him, so he spoke again, raising his voice. “Bakugou!” The blond finally paused, his hand loosening in Todoroki’s hair. “Bakugou, stop. Get off of me.”

Bakugou’s lips pulled into a grimace, and his eyes narrowed just the tiniest bit before his fist closed around Todoroki’s bi-colored hair again. Todoroki tried to push up and out of Bakugou’s grasp more frantically now, fear and adrenaline coursing through him. “Bakugou, Bakugou stop, come on,” he panted, but the man on top of him just held him down and continued pounding more and more relentlessly into him. Todoroki was still groggy from the Xanax, not as used to its effects as Bakugou was, and he found it hard to struggle, as his arms tried to reach for something, anything that could get him some leverage to get out from under Bakugou.

All he found was a pillow that he threw backward to try to distract Bakugou so that he could crawl out from under him, but Bakugou just tossed it across the room. And then both of Bakugou’s hands were wrapped around his throat, he was pulling Todoroki up by his neck and he choked, gasping for air, his hands flailing and nails clawing into his wrists to try to pry Bakugou off of him. He tried to form words of protest, but no air could get either in or out of him, and tears streamed down his face as he struggled for breath.

“Do you understand who the fuck you belong to?” Bakugou whispered, low and menacing. Todoroki could feel his face purpling, and dark spots began to cloud over his vision.

And then his face was against the mattress and he was gasping for air. Bakugou was still slamming into him from behind, his hands clawing into the soft pads of his hips. Todoroki gritted his teeth and stared off to the side until Bakugou’s hot seed was dripping out of him.

Bakugou left first, ignoring Todoroki, who was lying, dazed and teary-eyed, in the same position Bakugou had left him. He listened to him get dressed and grab his things, and he only began to move when he heard the door slam.

He knew he should be calling Yagi and Aizawa immediately, before anyone else, but against his better nature he was calling his boyfriend.

The delighted voice on the other line had him choking back a sob. “Shouto!” his boyfriend called out. “What a surprise! What’s up!?”

He coughed and then spoke, his voice hoarse. “Come pick me up, Inasa. Please.”

He heard sputtering on the other line. “Of--of course, Shouto! Send me the address and I’ll head over immediately.”

“Thanks.”

“Hey, Shouto.”

“What?”

“Something bad happened, yes?”

“Yeah.”

“Stay on the line with me, okay?”

“Okay.”

 

---

 

Todoroki got up shakily when he heard his boyfriend's signature strong knock on the door. He opened it and suddenly felt a hot wave of shame course through him as Inasa took in his naked body with a look of alarm.

The door clicked closed and Inasa reached out for Todoroki with big, warm hands. Todoroki buried his face into the soft, worn cotton of Inasa's Army t-shirt and sobbed into it.

"I'm used to seeing you dinged up, Shouto, but your neck…" he said, uncharacteristically quiet. "A client did this?" His voice was firm and grounded, soothing. Todoroki nodded into his broad chest. "Let's get you dressed, okay?"

Inasa scooped Todoroki up and carried him over to the bed, helping him pull his shirt over his head and his pants on like he was a small child. Inasa always spoiled Todoroki, rarely let him do anything on his own. But this was different.

Inasa's demeanor changed a little bit in the car. He was gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles. "What kind of cold-blooded monster would do this to you?" he seethed. "Was it the client you told me about? The dangerous one?"

"Inasa, Yagi will handle it. It's okay--"

"Yagi is the one who let him see you in the first place!" Inasa yelled, slamming his hand against the side of the steering wheel. "What are you gonna do when I'm gone, Shouto!? I can't protect you from overseas!"

"I don't need protection. I-- this was a fluke, I--"

"You don't need protection?!" Inasa suddenly pulled off to the side of the road and screeched to a halt. "Where the fuck does he live?"

"Inasa, no--"

"WHERE?"

"He'll kill you."

Inasa scoffed. "Let him just try to kill an army special forces operative. I'll show him why you don't mess with my fucking baby ," he said, tears welling in his eyes. He set his jaw to stop them from falling and turned to Todoroki. "Address. Now."

Todoroki sighed. There was no way Inasa would drop this, not when he had gotten so worked up over it. He'd once watched Inasa headbutt a random guy into unconsciousness at a club for "looking at Shouto the wrong way."

He'd only been to Bakugou's apartment once or twice, and he knew he didn't spend a lot of time there. He found himself half-hoping that Bakugou wouldn't be home.

But, sure enough, Todoroki glimpsed Bakugou's car as they pulled up.

"Go," Inasa said.

There was bass-boosted music blasting throughout the apartment, coming, of course, from Bakugou's unit. He knocked, loudly, and a girl with wild pink hair and wild makeup answered, still bouncing to the beat. "Sup," she said. "Got a problem with the music?" She stood, arms akimbo, hip popped to the side.

"No. Uh, is Bakugou home? I need to talk to him."

"Hey Kat! Boss!" she yelled. "Someone here to talk to you!"

Bakugou appeared a few moments later, the most casual Todoroki had ever seen him, in a tight-fitting tee and joggers. He was holding a half-empty bottle of vodka in one hand and a cigarette in another.

"Fuck you want, IcyHot?" he slurred. "Here to finally admit you're my bitch?"

"Can we talk?" Todoroki said. "Outside?"

Bakugou shrugged and put the handle down, stumbling down the stairs behind Todoroki. When they got outside, Todoroki looked up at the sky, hoping to find stars to distract him, but it was an overcast night. Inasa hopped out of his car and stormed towards them.

"Whaddaya want, Todo?" Bakugou said, squinting at the purple marks on his neck and frowning. Bakugou didn't notice the mountainous man approaching him until his hand was in Bakugou's hair and Inasa was dragging him down the street and into an alleyway, Todoroki trailing behind at a distance.

Inasa threw him into a brick wall on one side of the alley and Bakugou doubled over with a grunt, his cigarette flying out of his hand. "The fuck is this?" he barely managed to hiss before Inasa leveled a punch to his gut and Bakugou gasped, spewing bile and alcohol onto the ground.

"This is my boyfriend," Todoroki sighed. "You made him upset."

"Boyf--?"

Bakugou's question was cut short as Inasa sucker-punched him across the jaw, and then immediately landed one of the other side of his face. Bakugou stumbled back against the wall for support, giving Inasa the leverage to level punch after punch at him, to knee him in the ribs and stomach.

Todoroki reached into his back pocket and pulled out a menthol. He lit it, fingers, trembling, and smoked it intently, pretending he was watching a movie instead of two people who he knew intimately.

Because he did know Bakugou intimately. More intimately than perhaps any of his other clients. His aggressiveness made him an open book to Todoroki. It was easy to tell what made him tick, easy to work him to that edge of anger and brutality he needed to get his release. He realized, with a small jolt of surprise, as he watched the scene around him as if he was outside of his body, that Bakugou had been his favorite client.

But that was all over now.

Bakugou was crumpled on the ground, Inasa kicking his body indiscriminately with his hefty combat boots. Todoroki found himself yelling out.

"Inasa, that's enough! Inasa!" He ran forward and grabbed him from behind in an attempt to pull him off of Bakugou. "Inasa, stop! He's not moving!"

With a huff, Inasa stepped back. Todoroki could feel the heat on his body, could feel the rapidity of his pulse as he pulled away.

Bakugou's face was barely distinguishable through the mat of blood and swelling on his face. But somehow, he was still conscious, his entire body shaking as he looked up at the two of them. Inasa grabbed him by his bloodstained blond hair and pulled him upright.

"You mess with my baby again and I'll fucking kill you, you understand?" he spat. Bakugou said nothing, just raised his eyes to meet Inasa's and coughed up blood. "Big and scary Katsuki Bakugou," Inasa mocked. "Big shot, hot-blooded Katsuki Bakugou. But I see the ice in your eyes. Cold-blooded pest," he spat, and then slammed his forehead into Bakugou's face. The back of his head knocked against the wall and he collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

"Come on, Shouto," Inasa said, walking back to the car. "He won't mess with you anymore."

Todoroki stood for a moment, staring at the limp, crumpled mess of Bakugou's body on the ground, and fought back inexplicable tears.

He knew Bakugou was perceptive. But he hadn't realized how perceptive. He stifled a sob before turning back and joining Inasa.

Bakugou knew, he knew before Todoroki knew, but Bakugou hadn’t had the words to say what he’d known. If he had, Todoroki would have refused to believe him.

He didn't belong to Bakugou. No, that wasn't it. It wasn't about money, or possession. If Todoroki had met Bakugou at a bar or at the gym instead of as a client it would have been exactly the same. For some terrible, unexplainable reason, Todoroki cared about him. And that was worse than possession.

Chapter Text

“Boss? Boss, wake up. Come on, fucking wake up.”

He heard Mina’s voice as if in a dream at first, only very slowly realizing that it was something he should respond to. He shifted and cried out, a stabbing pain shooting through his ribcage.

“Shit, boss, what happened to you?”

“Fuckin’ boy--,” Bakugou panted, “boy--”

“Boy? What boy?”

“Fuckin’ boyfriend,” he spat before collapsing onto Mina and passing out again.

He woke up to a gentle hum and steady beeping. Disoriented and drugged-out, he blinked a few times and then opened his eyes.

Momo Yaoyorozu’s illegally operated clinic looked kind of like a tattoo parlor: Bright white lights and an antiseptic smell, the walls lined with Eastern Asian style paintings of dragons and demons, and the majority of her clientele, well, tattooed. The thin curtains hanging from the ceiling were the only privacy he had from any of the other unlucky souls who might have ended up there.

He sat up, stiffly, and looked around him. On one side of his bed was his IV stand, and on the other was a small bedside table adorned with a single vase filled with sunflowers. He leaned over, grimacing at the pain, and opened the small card that was placed next to the flowers.

It was a generic “get well soon” card, but written underneath the card’s hackneyed message was added, in pen, Call when you’re awake. We need to talk. -- Y & A

He leaned back in his cot and groaned in frustration. He heard movement on the other side of the curtain, and then Momo Yaoyorozu pulled the curtain back and stood over him.

“You’re finally awake,” she said, smiling. She was a relatively tall and curvy woman, in a white doctor’s coat, with her thick hair held up in a high ponytail. Bakugou always thought that if he was into women, he’d probably be into women like her.

“I really hope I never have to meet whoever managed to do this to Katsuki Bakugou,” she added, sucking on the end of a pen.

“Why the fuck am I here?” Bakugou said.

“Broken nose, a couple of fractured ribs, twice as many bruised ones. A major concussion. Aaaand,” she said, reading over his chart, “I added ‘bruised ego’ here too, just for fun.”

“Fuck off, MomoYao,” Bakugou said, smiling in spite of himself.

“How’re you feeling?”

“Like I got my ass kicked by a fucking extra and now I’m on hopped up on morphine or whatever the fuck you’re pumping into me.”

She nodded.

“Where’s my phone?”

Yaoyorozu fished through the pocket of her coat and handed him his phone. “Figured there’s probably stuff on there you don’t want the wrong people getting ahold of, so I wanted to keep it nearby. I turned it off but it should be charged.”

Bakugou nodded and took it from her. He turned it on and waited for it to boot up.

“You rest here for as long as you need, but you’re good to go whenever. I’ll send you off with more pain meds. Just take it easy for the next few weeks.”

“Right.”

With a swish of Yaoyorozu’s coat, she turned away and pulled the dividing curtain closed behind her.

Bakugou placed his phone in his lap and closed his eyes.

A fucking boyfriend.

He’d had a fucking boyfriend the entire time.

He felt nauseous.

He’d been so concerned with figuring out how to get Todoroki away from the rest of his clients that he hadn’t even considered that a whore could have a fucking boyfriend.

And he’d broken Yagi’s number one rule, because in the heat of the moment he’d assumed it was the only way to make Todoroki understand.

Not I own you , but I need you, I fucking need you, don’t you fucking take that away from me .

He had assumed that Todoroki would understand.

Too late for that now.

The soft trill of his phone vibrating in his lap alerted him to all of the messages he had missed from the past day.

A text from Yagi: if you don’t see the flowers, call me as soon as you see this

One from Aizawa: you made toshinori angry. I haven’t seen toshinori angry in close to ten years

Get well wishes and messages of alarm from Denki, Sero, and Jirou. Nothing from Todoroki. But a barrage of messages from Mina:

Boss I found you in the alley near our place wtf happened???

We took you to momoyao’s cause you really weren’t in good shape

She says nothing major is wrong w u thank god

Seriously when you wake up let us know who tf we have to jump

And then, more recently:

Call ASAP Kat someone broke into the apartment while we were all taking you to momos

Didn’t steal anything i think but everything is trashed

the same ppl who beat you up?????

He had missed calls from Mina and Yagi. No time to deal with Yagi right now; that would have to wait.

He ripped the IV out of his arm and shot out of his cot. “Momo! Pills!” She trotted over and pushed back the curtain. “Jesus, Bakugou, relax. What’s going on?”

He ignored her question as he dialed Mina’s number.

“Kat! You’re awake! What happened? How’re you doing?”

“Come pick me up right now.”

“Right now like right now ?”

“RIGHT NOW!”

“Kay, kay. Denki! GO GET KAT!” A pause. “Okay, Denki’s gonna come get you. Is everything okay?”

“Is my laptop still in my room?”

“Your laptop?”

“Yes, my fucking laptop. And my burner phone.” He hadn’t grabbed them when he’d gone to talk to Todoroki because he’d assumed he’d be right back.

“Hmmm, lemme check.” Mina was silent for a couple of minutes, the only noises he could hear through the phone the sound of Mina’s thumping and rummaging. And then the noises stopped and everything was silent on the other line.

“Mina?”

“Um.”

“Um, what ?”

“I don’t see them.”

“Fuck!”

“Pills.” Yaoyorozu said, holding out a bottle, unfazed by Bakugou’s outbursts. Bakugou grabbed them from her.

“Mina, tell everyone to stay on high alert for the time being. I need to check something out.”

“Shit, boss, okay. This have to do with whoever beat you up?”

“I hope so.”

“You hope so?”

“Cause if it’s not I think it’s something much fucking worse.”

He hung up on Mina and immediately called Iida.

“Iida, what’s that Stain guy’s MO?” he said as soon as the phone stopped ringing.

“Bakugou!” Iida hissed. “I’m in the office!”

“I’m not fucking around Iida, what’s his fucking MO?”

He heard Iida sigh. “Stab wounds, blunt force trauma, sometimes exsanguination.”

“Jesus Christ. No, I mean, before that. Like, canvassing a scene, when he’s figuring out his targets, that kind of shit.”

“Why? Did something happen, Bakugou?”

“Does he steal shit? Does he fucking break and enter?”

“Hold on, let me get the files.”

More tense silence as Iida muted him while he searched. Denki arrived and Bakugou got into the car, shushing him as he attempted to ask questions about what had happened.

“Bakugou, you still there?” Iida said after a few minutes.

“Yes, I’m still here, Four-Eyes. Whaddaya got?”

“Looks like only a couple of the victims from the last city reported break-ins, anywhere from a couple of months to a week before Stain starting killing people.”

“Shit. Iida, he’s gathering intel.”

“What? Why do you say that?”

“Because he stole my fucking laptop and burner phone from my apartment.”

“Bakugou, are you absolutely sure it was him? Could anyone else have done it?”

“Hold on.” He muted Iida. “Denki, did any of your shit get stolen?”

“No. The guy just trashed my room, basically.”

“Anyone else get anything stolen?”

He shook his head.

Bakugou unmuted Iida. “He could have taken fucking anything. The only shit gone in the entire apartment is my laptop and my burner phone.”

Iida sighed. “God damnit. Okay. Well. We’ll get you all a safehouse as soon as possible. Let me know immediately if anything else happens.”

“Yeah. Got it.”

He put his phone down and let out a roaring sigh.

“What’s this about someone gathering intel?” Denki asked.

“You hear of some extra named Stain?”

“Shit, that guy’s real?”

“What the fuck do you mean, ‘real?’”

“The stories everyone was telling, I thought he was just an urban legend or something.”

“Well buckle your fucking ass up, cause I think he’s gonna try to kill us."

 

---

 

Bakugou took a round of pain meds and showered before calling Yagi. It was a conversation he knew had to happen, but that he really didn’t want to have. Yagi was the only person on the entire planet who had ever been able to make him feel guilty about anything.

Stupid fucking old man.

He told everyone else in the apartment that they were going to have to move to a safehouse soon, and then, ignoring their exclamations of alarm, locked himself in his room. Stain had done a number on it, emptying out his drawers and knocking everything on every available surface onto the floor. He ignored the mess, putting his phone on speaker and placing it on his nightstand, so that he could get at least a little distance from the words he was about to hear.

He laid on his back and stared at his ceiling. There was a brown crack running along it that dripped water sometimes when it rained.

“Young Bakugou. You’re awake?”

“Yeah.”

“Shouto’s boyfriend shouldn’t have done that to you. I need you to know that no one at Plus Ultra authorized that.”

“It’s whatever, Yagi. I’m fine.”

“You understand why I need to talk to you, though, right, Bakugou?”

“Yeah. I broke the rules.”

“I’ve discussed this with Shouta.” He swallowed. “And Shouto.” Yagi let out a long, rasping sigh. “Suffice it to say, you’re no longer welcome at Club Plus Ultra.”

Bakugou stifled the sudden choking noise that threatened its way out of him.

“And if you try to contact Shouto again, I’ll have to do something about it. Do you understand?”

A terrible, dull ache worked its way from Bakugou’s chest up to his throat.

“Bakugou, do you understand?

“Y-yes.” His voice cracked.

“Young Bakugou, I--”

He reached over and ended the call before Yagi could say anything else. What the fuck else was there to say?

The ache in his chest and throat tumbled out of him in a hoarse yell that quickly turned into a sob.

Where was he supposed to go now when things got to be too much for him? His urges to see Todoroki had become his signal that things were bad; the ability to dip in and out of Club Plus Ultra had become his refuge. And he hadn’t even realized it until that moment, the moment it had been taken away.

After hanging up on Yagi, his mind turned to Shigaraki, to how he was being strong-armed into doing the League’s dirty work instead of making a name and a life for himself. He thought about Stain, who now knew more about his life than anyone else on the planet, and who wanted him dead.

He thought about how often he wound up covered in blood, about how much he hated it. He thought about the way that Inasa’s fists and combat boots had taken him by surprise.

And then the image of Todoroki’s face came into his mind. Beautiful, all smooth pale skin and those mismatched, unreadable eyes, but they actually showed fear this time, not a mockery of it, and it was Bakugou who had put that expression there in his folly of thinking that Todoroki would understand. But Todoroki was gone, just, gone from his world now. Unless Bakugou wanted to betray Yagi further and risk the wrath of the only person in the world whose wrath actually frightened him.

He couldn’t do this anymore. He couldn’t fucking do this anymore.

Without Todoroki, Bakugou realized that he couldn’t tolerate any of it anymore. He wanted out. He wanted the fuck out.

 

---

 

The next morning, Bakugou, Jirou, Sero, Denki, and Mina piled into a black SUV with tinted windows, Iida in the driver’s seat. Bakugou slid into the front passenger seat, and Iida looked him up and down, taking in his bruises and making a tittering noise.

“Want to tell me how that happened, Bakugou?” he asked.

“Not really.”

“You sure it’s not anything I need to know about?”

“Fuckin’ positive.”

“Okay then.” Iida tapped his fingers on the steering wheel.

“Just trust me, okay?”

Iida nodded, but didn’t say anything.

They rode through the city in silence, until Iida pulled into a parking garage connected to a casino.

“Four-Eyes, why are you taking us to this shithole?”

“Because it’s where you all are staying.”

“Isn’t this place closing down for health code violations or some shit?”

“Health code violations, human trafficking violations, same difference to your lot I guess,” Iida said. “Regardless, it’s cheap and unassuming and it’s got a connected hotel. Food, housing, and entertainment, 24/7, all-in-one. No need to leave.” He hopped out of the car and the group followed him through the garage to a side entrance.

“No need to leave?” Bakugou said, speeding up so that he was walking next to him.

“That’s what a safehouse is for, Bakugou,” Iida said, exasperated. “If you leave the safehouse, you’re no longer safe.” He jabbed at a button inside the building to call for an elevator.

“How long do we gotta stay here?” Denki called from a few feet behind them, running his finger along a smoke-yellowed wall and then examining it to see if it had picked up any grime.

“Denki, shove it. Like this place could ever be worse than our fucking apartment,” Bakugou spat. “Pretend it’s a fucking vacation. Which reminds me -- it kinda is a fucking vacation.” He turned around to face his squad and grinned. “Watch this.”

He pulled out his phone and dialed Shigaraki’s number as the elevator rose to the top floor.

“Got bad news,” Bakugou said when Shigaraki picked up, but he wasn’t even attempting to hide the glee in his voice. “Me and my guys are on lockdown. No errands until further notice.”

“Is this a prank, Bakugou?”

“Swear to fucking God, Shigaraki, I’m not fucking with you.” He grinned and Mina doubled over laughing. “Can’t take any jobs for the foreseeable future, sorry.” The tone of his voice made it abundantly clear that he was not sorry in the slightest.

He hung up just as the elevator dinged.

“There’s three penthouse suites up here,” Iida said. “No one really stays in them anymore, so the whole top floor is yours. We’ll have people on-call at all times, on the main floor and by the entrance to the elevators. Anything suspicious at all, and you call them, and then me.” Iida fished around in his uniform for something, and then pulled out an envelope. “Room keys for all of you. Free reign of the hotel and casino. Food is comped, but any alcoholic beverages you order and any gambling you do is on you.”

Bakugou took the envelope from him. “Got it.”

“Good. I’ll be in touch. Oh, also, no outside guests. I understand that you’re fond of particular types of… excursions. I’m afraid that they would attract too much attention right now.” Iida stepped onto the elevator and the doors closed behind him.

Not like there was anyone he could have an “excursion” with now. Bakugou ignored the fact that it felt like he’d been sucker-punched in the gut by Iida’s parting words, and instead made a tour of the penthouse suites.

They weren’t very fancy as far as hotel suites went, but if he was being honest with himself, it beat out where he currently lived. And he didn’t have to worry about Shigaraki for once. All he had to do was bide his time until Stain or whoever the fuck this guy was decided to give up, and hopefully do his dirty work on the League instead of on him.

He spent most of that first day loopy on pain meds in the king-sized bed in the largest suite, cuddled up with a stiff, over-bleached comforter and crinkly pillows.

He only thought a little bit about what it might feel like to kill Todoroki’s boyfriend. He was surprisingly calm. Probably the pain meds.

He also supposed it was because he knew he could afford to bide his time. Everything had already reached the level of the worst-case scenario, so Bakugou felt no need to rush to do anything about it. He wasn’t resigned to giving up Todoroki, not in the slightest, but he was stuck in this hotel for the time being. So maybe it was okay to allow his emotions to settle down to a simmer for a little while. The less stress he let in, the less he would feel a compulsion to seek out Todoroki, he hoped. He ignored the numb, decaying feeling that had settled in his chest and stomach, distracting himself from it with all of the vices available to him at the hotel and casino.

And, as the first few days passed by, he realized he didn't completely hate it there. It was a shitty hotel and casino, most definitely, with a terrible aesthetic that was somehow both plain and tacky at the same time, along with a slew of hygiene and maintenance problems. But there was something exciting about the fact that it was always on, 24/7. He found himself wondering what it might be like if this place was actually decent, one worth going to regularly.

On the third night he was there, sitting at a blackjack table and losing way too much money next to an annoyingly cute black-haired man who, suspiciously, almost never made a bad call, he got a phone call from Iida. Bakugou excused himself and walked somewhere secluded.

"What is it?"

"Well, we're definitely dealing with Stain."

"What makes you say that?"

"We posted a watch at your apartment, just in case he showed up again. And he did. He killed the cops who were on the stakeout and broke into your place again, from the looks of it."

"So he knows we aren't there anymore."

"Yes. It's imperative that you don't leave that casino, do you understand?"

"No problem, Four Eyes. I don't hate it here, actually."

Iida let out a low whistle. "That's the closest thing to a compliment I've ever heard come out of your mouth."

"Don't test me, Iida. Keep me updated."

Before Bakugou knew it, a week had passed. All of his injuries except the small fractures felt like they had finally healed up nicely, and he ditched his pain meds, pawning them off to Sero for safekeeping.

He spent his mornings at the on-site gym and the buffet, the majority of the daylight hours in bed alternating between sleeping and ruminating, and his nights on the casino floor or at the bar. Everything he did amounted to a distraction from the reality awaiting him outside the hotel, but he was powerless to do anything else.

"It's not too bad, living in a shitty casino," Bakugou said to Denki one night, close to two weeks into their stay, as they sat at the casino bar watching old people playing slots on the machines that weren't marked as out of order.

Denki murmured his agreement. "Our bill for all the booze we've been drinking isn't gonna be pretty though," he said, sipping on his fruity cocktail.

Bakugou shrugged. "We’ve got enough to cover it. And the place is closing anyway. What're they gonna do about it if we don't pay?"

Denki laughed and shook his head, raising his glass in salute. "This is why you're the boss," he said. They knocked their drinks together and drank. Bakugou's phone lit up where it was sitting on the bar and when he glanced at it he almost choked on his whiskey.

It was a text from Todoroki. His heart beating up into his throat, he stood up and walked to a more secluded area at the back of the bar to read it.

Not funny Bakugou. You know you can just tell me what you want instead of being creepy about it

What the fuck was Todoroki talking about?

Bakugou responded: ?????

He got a response back almost immediately: i can see you skulking around outside my apartment building at night. Ski mask isn't a good look for you

Bakugou's face fell flat. Icy hot that's not me

The next thing he knew, Todoroki was calling him.

"Bakugou, what do you mean that's not you?"

"I'm not outside your fucking apartment!" He seethed. "I'm not even supposed to be fucking talking to you!"

"Oh, shit ," Todoroki said. "You're not lying. The guy's not talking on a phone right now so it can't be you..."

"Great observation skills, Todo. Now go get your buff fucking bullheaded boyfriend to do something about it before Aizawa finds out I'm talking to you and sticks a shiv in my side."

He heard Todoroki sigh and then whimper. "Inasa's not-- he left for his deployment a couple of days ago. He's not in the country anymore. I figured you knew because that’s exactly when... whoever this is... starting showing up."

Bakugou would have felt smug at Todoroki being alone again if alarm wasn’t coursing through his system for the first time in weeks. The feeling magnified when he heard Todoroki curse, panicked, under his breath.

"Bakugou, he's moving. He's walking towards the building-- shit -- I think he saw me looking at him-- Bakugou, what do I do?"

"Fuck, Todoroki, you got a gun?"

"No!"

"Well then grab a fucking kitchen knife! Fucking hide and jump on him and fucking hang up and call the cops Todoroki, Jesus, there's nothing I can do to--"

Bakugou heard a loud crash and then a smattering of sharp clatters. He heard Todoroki cry out, and then the line was silent.

“Todoroki? Todoroki, what the fuck was that?”

"Is this Katsuki Bakugou?" an unfamiliar voice said. It was high and a little raspy.

"Who the fuck is asking?"

"Come now, I can see the caller ID right here. I know it's you." The stranger sighed, and Bakugou heard another muffled cry from Todoroki. "The culling starts tonight, Bakugou."

"If you fucking touch him I'll--"

"Too late for that. But it's not this pretty little candy-cane boy that I want, Bakugou. It's you. Your death will be the first real message I send to the scum that reeks in the underbelly of this city."

"Stain?"

"Yagi and his boys are the only ones I really don't want to have to kill, actually…" Stain drawled. "Yagi is the only one who has truly atoned."

"What kind of fucking game are you trying to play, shitstain?"

"A very simple one: A trade. I'll be with Todoroki at your apartment. All you have to do is bring yourself, and I'll trade his life for yours."

"If I show up, you're dead, Stain. You're gonna wish you never messed with me or this fucking city."

He heard Stain laugh on the other line, cold and cruel. "He'll be dead at, let's say, 3 am. So you better hurry."

Stain hung up. The time on Bakugou's phone read 1:26 AM. He needed to leave the casino. And he needed to do it now.

Chapter Text

Todoroki woke up, his head pounding, in what he assumed was the back of a car. The guy in the ski mask had hit him over the head with something and he'd been knocked out cold. 

If he wasn't bound from torso to feet he would have tried to knock one of the brake lights out, but he could barely move and he was dizzy and nauseous -- probably a concussion, he hazarded through his foggy thoughts. 

He heard the car screech to a halt and made a confused noise through his gag when he could hear the trunk of the car open but still couldn't see anything. He blinked and realized there was cloth covering his eyes too. 

The stranger rolled him out of the car and he landed on the asphalt with a painful thump. Then something was prodding at his legs and he felt the binds restricting them come loose. He was pulled upright and distinctly felt the edge of a blade pressed up against the small of his back as he was led somewhere, through a door and then up stairs and then through another door, before he was made to kneel down on what felt like hardwood and his legs were tied up again. 

"You think he's gonna show up on time, hmm, Shouto?" The sudden sneering voice in his ear made him flinch. "I told him I'd kill you at three. That gives him, hmmm, just shy of two hours? What do you think we should do to pass the time?"

Who would get here in time? His brain was working in slow motion, and he couldn't piece together what was going on. Todoroki didn't say anything in response, couldn't say anything meaningful though the cloth gag digging into the creases in between his lips, just bared his teeth and tried to shift to a more comfortable position in his restraints. 

"So quiet. What a disappointment." A hand came to squeeze his face and he tried to twist away from it. "Do you stay quiet like that when he fucks you?" Todoroki let out a muffled yell and the stranger chuckled. Bakugou? Was he talking about Bakugou? The stranger pulled his hand away from Todoroki's face and Todoroki tried to force his body to relax. 

"Hm, let's see… he likes setting fires, right?" 

The stranger seemed to ignore him for the next little while, and all Todoroki was able to hear was mumbling and fidgeting. He shifted uncomfortably when he heard a slosh of liquid and then smelled gasoline in the air. He jumped as a cold splash hit the left side of his face, dripping from his hair down into his blindfold. "Oh, did some get on you?" the kidnapper said nonchalantly, before continuing in what Todoroki could only guess was dousing whatever room they were in with gasoline. He grunted and squeezed his left eye shut as much as possible as he felt the petrol soaking through his blindfold and starting to irritate his eye. 

This was bad. This was really fucking bad. He wiggled, testing the strength of his bonds and finding them to be annoyingly strong. His head drooped as he started to succumb to exhaustion and the concussed pain in his temple, and he had nothing to do other than wait, half-listening for the sound of a match to signal that everything was about to be over. 

---

Bakugou slipped easily past Iida's stupid makeshift guards and hotwired the closest, fastest-looking car he could find. The smell of burnt rubber lingered behind as he screeched out of the garage and onto the freeway. 

He might have ditched Iida's rent-a-cops, but he was not stupid enough to go into this alone, so he called Iida as he was driving. 

"GET TO MY APARTMENT RIGHT FUCKING NOW,” he bellowed, panic making him even louder than normal.

"Bakugou, it's the middle of the night. What in the blazes is going on?"

"STAIN IS AT MY APARTMENT. YOU NEED TO GO THERE RIGHT FUCKING NOW BUT YOU CANNOT BE SEEN, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" He forced himself to exhale and lower this voice. "I'm on my way there right now."

"Bakugou, what!? How-- what-- how did you even get out of the casino-- I--"

"It was easy, just get to my fucking apartment! And do not let him see you, he's got a fucking hostage and he'll probably off him if he sees anyone else so--"

"I-- Bakugou--"

"GO! Meet me by my car, okay, why am I not hearing a car start, fucking go!"

He hung up, impatient and panicked, and wove in and out of traffic as he tried to beat the clock. He had to slow down and shake out his nerves after his third-near accident. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this off-kilter while tracking someone down.

It was just another dude to find and kill, he told himself. Just another dude to hunt down. Nothing special at all about it. All in a day's work.

Except Todoroki was there. He'd never given a shit about saving anyone before. It was just maim, rough up, kill, whatever he needed to do, no strings attached. But this desperate need to for the first time ever keep someone alive had him frenzied and mind-addled. 

He barely even thought to slow down once he was off of the highway until he got to his neighborhood, when he suddenly realized that making an obvious entrance wasn't the best course of action. He parked the stolen car a block over, out of sight from his apartment building, and snuck over to where his own car was parked. 

Iida was already there, crouching behind his car and hazarding quick glances up at Bakugou's apartment building. 

"I've got multiple units four blocks away. Just say the word and they'll storm the pla--"

"No!" Bakugou spat. "Not until I get Shouto out of there."

"Shouto? Who is Shouto?"

"His hostage, dumbass, now fucking listen to me. I'm gonna go up there and you're gonna follow behind me but you're not gonna do a single goddamn thing until I say so because he needs to think that I came here alone, do you understand?"

Iida nodded. "You don't think this is a trap, Bakugou?" he asked.

"Obviously it's a fucking trap! But I don't know what else to do, okay? Just fucking stay behind me!" 

Bakugou pulled a spare handgun out of the glove compartment of his car and crept with Iida into the apartment building and up the stairs, stopping silently in front of his unit. The door was slightly ajar, the lock already having been broken by Stain. Bakugou nodded and Iida positioned himself outside, gun at the ready, as Bakugou crept inside. The main living space was dark, empty and slightly eerie without any of his hooligan comrades livening it up.

There was no sign of anyone in the kitchen either, so he crept down the hallway, wincing as the floorboards creaked below him. 

There was light coming from him bedroom. Of course, his fucking bedroom. He readied his weapon, aiming it in front of him as he nudged the door open with his foot. 

The smell of gasoline overwhelmed him and he had the sudden urge to retch. His mind screamed get the fuck out of there, you absolute idiot, but he refused to budge.

He peeked his head into the open doorway and grimaced as he took in Todoroki, tied up and kneeling in the middle of his bedroom floor, gagged and blindfolded. 

"Come on, Bakugou, I think we deserve a proper introduction," Stain said, from out of sight. At the mention of Bakugou's name, Todoroki sat up and pulled against his restraints, alarmed, yelling something muffled. 

Bakugou slowly walked into his bedroom, gun trained in the direction of Stain's voice. 

The fucker was perched on the ledge of Bakugou's open bedroom window, white ski mask and red scarf occluding the majority of his face except for the dark, matted hair that spilled out from underneath the mask. 

"Wait," Bakugou said, freezing in a breathless panic as he realized that Stain was holding an unlit match over his gasoline-soaked room. 

"Boom," Stain said, grinning widely through the ski mask. He lit the match. 

Bakugou watched the match fall from Stain's hand as if in slow motion, and before he realized what was happening he had ditched his gun and had flown across the room, one hand grabbing at Stain's shirt before he could make his escape out of the window, the other somehow catching the match in his fist before it could hit the ground. He winced at his burning palm and then pulled Stain towards him and brought that singed fist up to meet Stain's face. 

It met his jaw with a crack and Stain hissed before righting himself and kicking Bakugou forcefully in the stomach. He collapsed into Todoroki, knocking him onto his side.

"Iida, backup!" he yelled, charging Stain again, who was already pulling out another match. 

"Shoulda brought a lighter, idiot," Bakugou said as he wrestled Stain to the ground and tried to pin his hands apart, match in one hand and strike pad in another. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Iida kneel next to Todoroki and start to cut loose his bonds with a knife. Maybe this would all actually work. Maybe this would--

"I did."

"Wha--"

Bakugou had been so focused on the hand holding the match, pinned high above Stain's head, that he'd failed to notice the fingers of Stain's other hand wriggle into his pocket for a lighter. The momentary confusion was all Stain needed to headbutt himself free of Bakugou's hold and flick the lighter on, brushing it over Bakugou's gasoline-soaked comforter. 

Bakugou charged forward as his room went up in flames, an inhuman yell piercing the air as he flew out of the open window with Stain. He managed to grab onto the edge of the fire escape outside of the window and hang there, watching as Stain fell a full three stories and landed with a thud in a pile of bushes below him. 

As he peered at Stain's unconscious, maybe-hopefully-dead body down below him, a guttural scream pulled his attention back to his apartment. 

Shit. The other two were still in there. He pulled himself up and peered through his window, smoke streaming out of it, coughing as he vaguely glimpsed his companions' silhouettes through the smoke. The heat was too great now for Bakugou to get back inside, and fire alarms had started blaring building-wide. He faintly heard Iida yell something like "downstairs!" over what he could only assume with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach was Todoroki screaming. He flew down the fire escape and ran to the front of the building, where Iida was attempting to hold a thrashing, screaming Todoroki.

The fire had spread in the building above, and apartment-dwellers began to stream out of the building, yelling and crying. 

"No," Bakugou said under his breath. "No, no--"

"I think he-- he had gasoline on him," Iida said. I got the blindfold and gag off as soon as I could, but--" 

Bakugou's ears were ringing, his entire body frozen as he saw the left side of Todoroki's face. This was impossible. This was fucking impossible. He forgot how to breathe and his throat spasmed and he choked as he tried to take in air. He could see Iida's mouth moving but wasn't sure what he was saying until he focused in on it.. "--medical attention. Bakugou, he needs to go to a hospital immediately. Bakugou!" 

Everything clicked back into intense awareness and Bakugou was suddenly taking Todoroki from Iida, lifting him over his shoulder as he told Iida, "I've got him. Now go arrest that bastard if he's not dead yet." 

---

"Stay the fuck awake," Bakugou hissed, not even trying to hide the panic in his voice, once Todoroki was in the passenger seat of his car and Bakugou was speeding again, this time to Momo's clinic. Todoroki's screams had turned into moans, and then quieted into whimpers as his skin went clammy and pale. 

"Do not fucking go into shock on me, you Icy Hot bastard!" Bakugou yelled, slamming his fist into the dashboard but unable to do anything other than drive as Todoroki fell in and out of consciousness. "I'm gonna fucking kill you," he whispered through gritted teeth as tears blurred his vision.

Momo was always busiest at night, so he knew she'd be up, and he slung Todoroki over his shoulder and flew down the stairs to the basement entrance of her clinic, past the surprised armored guard and into the main clinic area, where Momo was busy stitching up someone's shoulder. 

"Half his face got burnt off and he's in shock," Bakugou said, breathless, buckling under the weight of the body he was holding. Momo shot up and began authoritatively shouting orders, assistants running out from back rooms to get Todoroki from him and into a bed. 

He half-registered someone guiding him to a metal folding chair as Todoroki was pulled away, felt himself nod through a daze as someone asked him if he wanted a sedative. He barely felt the prick of the needle entering his arm before his eyes were blinking closed and he slumped down in the chair, head falling backwards against the wall. 

He needed this little death tonight. Maybe it would will away the old deaths he didn't want to have to face. Maybe it would will away a new one.