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Skin and Bones

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Six days. That’s how long it’d been since he’d had a proper meal. Five days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes to be exact.

Kirishima stared at the blaring red clock in front of him, digital numbers swirling with his vision.

2:17 am

His stomach hurt. His legs shook. His vision swam.

Kirishima curled even tighter into the ball on his bedroom floor, arms locking weakly around his knees. Maybe if he’d had more strength he’d realize that what he was doing wouldn’t accomplish anything. Maybe if he opened up to someone he’d be able to stop. Did he want to stop?

Doesn’t matter, Kirishima decided as he sat on the cold hardwood. The floor was starting to dig into him, and his back ached from sitting for so long. It’d been hours, days, weeks, who kept track anymore?

2:20 am

His stomach growled in anger, begging him to eat something. But he wouldn’t - couldn’t. He watched the glowing numbers flicker and change, each time curling up tighter.

Soon, he thought. Soon It’ll be over.

Every fiber in his body was telling him to get up, to eat something before he collapsed. His skin was sweaty and muddled with dirt, palms clammy around his knees. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a shower. The skin on his cheeks was hollowed, dark bags hanging heavy under his eyes. He hurt everywhere.

2:25 am

Seven more minutes. Seven more minutes and he could sink his teeth into the nearest source of food. Seven more minutes and he could breathe again. Seven more minutes and he would win.

2:26 am

Six. His muscles tensed and he blinked sluggishly. 2:27 am Five. The crimson numbers pounded into his skull, burning their image into his retinas.

2:28 am

Four. His breath was coming faster, lungs pounding.

2:29 am

Three. He let go of his knees and began to stand.

2:30 am

Two. His legs buckled beneath him, and there was a resounding thud that echoed throughout the room.

2:31 am

One. Footsteps. Screaming. Worried voices overlapping above his head. He let his eyes slip shut .

Chapter Text

“Eijirou? Hey, can you hear me?”

“Oh my god, I think he passed out!”

----

Mina Ashido paced back and forth, gnawing at her hot pink fingernails in a nervous habit. Her short pink hair bounced with every step she took, dark eyes flicking from Kirishima, who now laid unconscious on their couch, to the other man in the room, Denki Kaminari. She growled in frustration, running nervous fingers through her hair shakily.

“Okay, okay we need to calm down.” She breathed, forcing herself to stop pacing. Kaminari nodded, brown eyes wild with nerves. His heart was going crazy. He’d never seen Kirishima just knock out like that, and he’d known him since they were just kids - nearly 20 years.

Kaminari planted himself firmly in the chair adjacent from the couch, tapping his leg nervously. His fingers clawed at one another and his lip was raw from where he’d been chewing on it.

Calm down, dammit! You need to think.

Ashido locked eyes with him, brows furrowing in concern. Her eyes were pleading, scared and confused. He needed to do something. He needed to find a way to calm her down. He needed to-

“Ughhh.” A groan came from the couch. Both pairs of eyes froze, then slowly shifted to the form on the couch. They widened in shock.

“Eijirou!!!” Ashido shouted, launching herself on top of him and wrapping her arms around his neck. He startled back slightly, bracing himself on his elbows on the sofa.

“M-Mina, what the-?”

“You scared us half to death, man!” Kaminari shouted, heart rate skyrocketing. Ashido’s eyes watered with relief.

“You guys…” Kirishima started, eyes softening. His heart clenched. He hadn’t meant to scare them, he’d only meant to- to what? Starve himself to death? Good job Eijirou, good fucking job .

Kirishima sucked in a deep breath, vision blotting with a mess of colors he definitely should not be seeing right now. His eyes stung and his chest was sore with the effort it took to keep breathing.

“Mina, I can’t- breathe.” He gasped out, trying in vain to push her off of him. She leaped back immediately, tears streaming down her eyes.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think about it, I just-” She took in a gaping breath, body shaking on the exhale. “I was just so worried about you.” She cried, wiping her eyes furiously.

Kirishima smiled sadly at her, then at Kaminari, who had been silent for the past few minutes.

“I’m sorry guys.” Kaminari took a step closer to him, fists clenching.

“Good.” He said. “You should be.” Kirishima flinched at his blunt tone. Kaminari paused, hovering over Kirishima. Kirishima saw Kaminari’s fist clench tighter, and he thought he was about to be hit, pinching his eyes closed in reflex. However, the only thing that hit his body were two strong arms, pulling him into a sitting position and wrapping around him securely.

“You really had us worried, man.” Kirishima took in a shuddering breath, eyes tearing up. He struggled to get out another word,

“Sorry.”

Kaminari laughed pitifully, pulling him in closer. Mina made her way back over and joined the group hug, making sure to be more careful this time around.

2:41 am

Kirishima cried.

----

Another week had gone by with no mention of the “Scare-the-shit-out-of-Denki-and-Mina” event (named by Kaminari, of course). The three of them were walking on eggshells around one another, trying not to say anything to upset the others. However, Kirishima did notice a few changes around the house.

Like how, for example, Kaminari had a slightly longer breakfast in the mornings, now - long enough that Kirishima came out of his room and had his own morning meal. Or how Ashido postponed her morning run so she could go at the same time as Kirishima.

Kirishima appreciated the little gestures, he really did, but he also couldn’t stand them. He wanted to keep doing what he had been - needed it like he needed air. He needed to go hungry for hours on end, it wasn’t a choice. He needed to run until he felt like collapsing. He needed to feel the burn in every muscle in his body. It was his punishment for-

“Come on Eijirou, you’re gonna be late!” Ashido shouted from the front door. Kirishima swung his well-loved backpack over his shoulder, throwing in a few incomplete papers that he was sure were do weeks ago, and made his way to the front door to catch up with Ashido. Kaminari had left a few hours ago, as he had a morning class. It was barely noon now and Kirishima and Ashido were on their way to their shared Tuesday class. She waited for him patiently, hoisting her own bookbag over her shoulder when she saw him coming over. The two headed out without incident.

----

“And remember, those papers are due on my desk next Friday. No exceptions.” The class let out a murmur of general discontent before filing out of the lecture hall one by one. Kirishima was among one of the first students out of his seat, rushing to the door. Maybe if he left before Ashido, he could pretend to have lost her in the crowd.

“Kirishima, wait.” His teacher said from his stand at the front of the hall. Kirishima flinched, turning around slowly to warily eye his teacher. The man was tall, a  bit taller then Kirishima, with long black hair and eyes that somehow always seemed bloodshot. Kirishima briefly entertained the idea that his teacher was just high all the time, but immediately shook it away, cringing at himself.

Ashido caught his eye, quirking an eyebrow in a question. Kirishima shrugged helplessly. She planted herself by the door, apparently not about to let him stay here by himself. Great, she doesn’t trust me anymore. Not like I can really blame her though. He sighed, looking at his teacher - Mr. Aizawa - yet again.

“Yes sir?” He asked, sweat forming on his brow. Mr. Aizawa held up a hand.

“Ashido, do you have a question for me?” She blinked in surprise.

“Uh, no sir.”

“Then why are you still in my classroom?” She gulped, eyes flicking from Kirishima to Mr. Aizawa then back.

“U-um,” she began to stutter, but Kirishima cut her off with a fake smile and mock cheerful words.

“I’m fine Mina, you should head to your next class.” She continued to look worriedly between the pair, but eventually gave in, heading out.

“...Okay.”

Kirishima faced Mr. Aizawa fully now.

“Sir, if this is about those papers I didn’t finish then let me tell you, I have a really good reason for-”

“Stop.” Kirishima flinched.

“You know what this is about Kirishima.” The boy sighed. His shoulders slumped. “To put it simply, you’re in danger of losing your scholarship.” Kirishima looked away glumly, disappointed but not surprised. His grades had gone from the region of “wow this kid is good” to “why are you even trying?” Mr. Aizawa simply looked at him for a moment.

“Obviously you’re not surprised by this.” Kirishima shook his head and Mr. Aizawa sighed. “Look, you got in on a football scholarship, but if you can’t maintain your grades you’ll be kicked off the team.” 

I know that, Kirishima thought . I know, but it’s what I deserve.

“No one wants to be represented by someone who doesn’t try.” Kirishima looked at the ground.

I am trying, he wanted to scream. He wanted to shout it in his teacher’s face, but in the end, all he could do was bite his lip and pray that he wouldn’t start balling right then and there.

Mr. Aizawa took a step closer and placed a hand on Kirishima’s shoulder. Kirishima blinked up in surprise, pinpricks of tears forming in the corners of his vision.

“You’re a good kid, Kirishima. Don’t throw it all away.” Kirishima sucked in a harsh breath, eyes tearing for real now. He nodded sharply, heart screaming.

You can’t even do this right. Dammit!

He balled his fists up so tight he could feel the blood starting to drip from under his fingernails. Mr. Aizawa’s eyes flicked down to Kirishima’s hands subtly.

“That’s all, you can leave.” Kirishima moved away shakily, body one step from collapsing all over again.

“Yes sir.” He choked out, practically running out of the room and furiously rubbing at his eyes.

Stop crying Eijirou, be a man.

Aizawa ran a hand through his unruly hair,

“What am I gonna do with this kid?”

Chapter Text

The days passed in a blur, some strange conglomeration of sleepless nights and worried faces. He’d hardly been alone for the past two weeks, his friends made sure of that. The only time he was ever truly by himself was in the dead of the night, laying in his bed, eyes searching the ceiling for something. Answers, maybe? Kirishima didn’t know. All he did know was that he was still failing all of his classes big time, and had made no real effort to improve.

After all, he thought to himself, it’s what I deserve for what I’ve done. 

He bit his lip until it bled, reopening the scab that was still there from the last time he’d done the very same thing. His mouth tasted like metal, and his eyes were dry and red. How many hours had he been laying here, sleepless? How many nights had this same pattern repeated? What was he going to do if he was too tired to play football? What if he starved himself so much his muscles deteriorated? Could he play then? If he couldn’t, would that finally be penance enough?

No, he decided. Nothing will ever be enough. Not until I’m six feet under. Maybe not even then.

He groaned, rubbing his eyes, thoughts swirling around him in a myriad of dismay and confusion. He was just so damn tired .

Sighing, Kirishima swung himself upright in his bed, draping his legs over the edge of his comforter and touching his toes to the cold floorboards. The hardwood was smooth under his feet, and Kirishima pressed his body forward, standing slowly. He wasn’t going to get any sleep so he might as well do something productive. However, instead of working on the literal pile of assignments he still had not finished, he stumbled his way to the front room, silently checking all around him to see if either of his roommates happen to be awake.

The apartment was dead silent, and Kirishima closed his eyes tightly, listening to the sound of nothing. It was rare that he got moments like this, moments where he didn’t have to worry about making someone else happy, where he didn’t have to agonize himself over the thought that he was letting someone down. He’d done plenty of that already.

Heading to the main entryway, Kirishima slipped on his running shoes and picked up his headphones and phone from where it’d been charging on the wall. Whoever designed this apartment was a complete idiot, because his room didn’t have a wall outlet. Kirishima shrugged off the thought and slipped his headphones in, opening the door to the apartment hallway. Wordlessly, he made his way down to the first floor and started blasting music. He cranked the volume up until he couldn’t hear anything else, couldn’t focus on anything but his own breathing as he took off down the street.

The town was peaceful in these early hours, with few cars driving the streets, and even fewer store lights on. Kirishima could see the sky above him, stretched out in a canvas of beautiful stars, and he breathed in the cool night air, soaking in the sensation burning through his veins.

He loved this.

But he didn’t deserve it.

Kirishima picked up the pace, running so fast it started to hurt. His lungs burned with every inhale, a fire igniting with every breath. His blood started pumping faster, heartrate kicking into overdrive, and dammit he should have warmed up before this Too late now, he thought as he continued to sprint. The activity burned him, but not in the good way. His chest heaved and his muscles spasmed under the pressure. His head pounded in time with his racing heart. It felt like his ribs were crushing him and yes, this is what I needed.

Kirishima ran until light started to rise in the sky, and he ran even more.  When he finally made it back to his apartment, his face was as red as his hair, which had been tied in a loose ponytail, and his entire body was glistening with sweat. When he opened the front door it was to a very disappointed Ashido, her arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed sadly. Kaminari was in the kitchenette, sitting on a barstool and looking pissed beyond belief.

Kirishima’s eyes widened, and he slipped out one of his headphones, body stiff and uncomfortable. Mina was the first to speak,

“You can’t keep doing this, Ei.” She said sadly, letting her arms drop. She took a step forward, “You can’t keep hurting yourself like this.” His heart sank. He’d let down another person. Great .

“Mina, I-” He started.

“No!” Kaminari shouted as he rose from his stool, knocking it to the floor. “You don’t get to keep apologizing and think that we’ll just roll with it! We’re not gonna ignore this anymore!” He screamed, livid. His eyes burned with a rage Kirishima hadn’t seen since middle school. “We’re worried for you, man, and you can’t keep acting like nothing’s wrong!” He shouldered Ashido out of the doorway, staring down Kirishima. Even though the redhead was several inches taller, he couldn’t help but shrink down when Kaminari glared at him like that.

“Denki…” Ashido said, placing a hand on his arm. Kaminari seemed to break a little at that, body losing its fire.

“We miss you, man. We miss how happy you used to be. And I know that I can’t just ask you to get over the accident, it’s not just some kinda flip you can switch, but you can’t keep breaking yourself like this because you think it’s what you deserve. Because that’s what this is, isn’t it?” He asked, voice barely a whisper. “It’s guilt, right?” When Kirishima didn’t respond Kaminari let out another long breath.

“You need to talk to someone, man.”

Kirishima breathed slowly, making a conscious effort to keep it even. It was no use. His voice broke, and so did the wall he’d built around himself, tears flowing freely for what felt like the hundredth time in weeks,

“Yeah. Yeah, I will.” He fell forward into the two of them, and they wrapped their arms around him, pulling him close to their chests.

“It’s okay, Ei.” Ashido breathed reassuringly, lifting a soothing hand to brush softly through his red locks, gently tugging out the hair tie that fastened it in place. “Let it out. We’re here for you.” He sobbed into her chest as she and Kaminari rubbed his back and whispered comforting words.

Chapter Text

After the heart-to-heart last night, Kirishima hadn’t been able to stop crying. His eyes were red and puffy, and his nose was miraculously still running. It was morning now and he, Ashido, and Kaminari were all laid out on the couch. Ashido’s head was sprawled over Kaminari’s lap, her hips on Kirishima, who was leaning against Kaminari. The three of them had been sitting together simply talking into the early hours of the morning before finally drifting off. It had been the first truly good night for Kirishima in months. However, unlike Ashido and Kaminari, Kirishima had morning classes on Fridays, so he had gently nudged the two awake, and after eating breakfast (which Kaminari and Ashido had both sat with him for - their way of making sure he actually ate something) he headed out.

Kirishima had been having an amazing morning, but that all changed the moment his class was dismissed for the day. Today he had class with Mr. Aizawa, and after sitting through a lecture designed to target every student who didn’t turn in their papers, Kirishima hightailed it out of the room. Sadly, he didn’t make it out before being caught by Mr. Aizawa, yet again.

Kirishima turned when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Kirishima. My office. Now.” Kirishima winced. Guess that’s what I get for skipping another assignment, he thought bitterly. Kirishima followed Mr. Aizawa to his office, cringing the whole way. Once they were finally there, Mr. Aizawa shut the door and turned on Kirishima.

“I won’t sugarcoat this,” he started. “You’re going to fail this class if you don’t do something now.” Kirishima bowed his head in shame. He already knew he was on track to fail, but he had been trying. It was just hard to understand what was being taught sometimes. The fact that he was running on barely two hours of sleep each night and next to no food didn’t exactly help, either. Not to mention how hard football practice was starting to get now that they were further into the year. 

“I warned you about this last week and yet you still refuse to turn in your paper, something which could have increased your grade in this class greatly,” Mr. Aizawa continued. Kirishima nodded.

“I know, sir, and I won’t make any excuses,” he whispered. Mr. Aizawa scowled, stepping toward his office door.

“I know you won’t. Because I’m not going to let you.” Mr. Aizawa swung open the door, revealing a tall, blonde kid with piercing red eyes and a harsh posture. His hands were buried deep in his pockets, and he was glaring at Kirishima like he was a bug beneath this kid’s feet. Kirishima couldn’t help the feeling of intimidation that overcame him as he locked eyes with the boy, taking him in. No matter how aggressive he may have looked, Kirishima couldn’t help the awe seeping out of him. This boy looked like he could be a model. His jawline was sharp and defined, hair a wild mess that somehow looked good on him, and Kirishima was entranced.

“Kirishima, this is Bakugou Katsuki, and starting from today on, he’s going to be tutoring you.” 

Kirishima blinked. 

Wait...what? 

Mr. Aizawa nodded, shoving Kirishima toward Bakugou. “Obviously you can’t pick up the material on your own, so Bakugou’s going to help you learn it. Normally I wouldn’t do this, but contrary to popular belief I do actually want my students to succeed, and I think you can if you just try a little harder.” Mr. Aizawa turned to Kirishima yet again, and his eyes seemed to soften just a fraction. “I already told you I think you’re a good kid. You just need a push,” he said simply. Kirishima balled his hands into fists, determination showing through as his eyes started to sting. He refused to cry today.

I’m not going to let down another person, not after Kaito.

“Now get out of my office.” Kirishima barely had time to nod before he was being forcibly thrown out and the door was slammed in his face. He had to stop for a minute to process what exactly had just happened. Finally, he took in a deep breath, turning to face the student - Bakugou - who was going to be tutoring him. Kirishima forced himself to smile brightly, holding out a cheerful palm,

“Kirishima Eijirou. Nice to meet you!” His sharp teeth showed as he grinned and Bakugou stared at him for what felt like an eternity before glaring even harder.

“Bakugou Katsuki.” He said gruffly, not taking Kirishima’s hand. Kirishima just smiled and let his hand fall to his side.

“So, uhhhhh, tutoring?”

Bakugou slammed a piece of paper at him and slouched away angrily. Kirishima looked at the paper curiously. On it, in explosive handwriting, was the name Bakugou followed by a ten-digit number. Kirishima sighed,

“Guess I’m supposed to text him when I want to meet up.”

----

What Bakugou did to deserve this hell he had no idea. One minute he was sitting in class doing his goddamn work, the next he was being pulled aside and forced into tutoring some extra. Why did he have to be the one to do it, huh? Aizawa had simply looked at him and raised an eyebrow as if to say, you know damn well why you have to do it .

Alright, so maybe Bakugou wasn’t the most social, but he didn’t need any fucking handouts, alright? He had Jiro and that was enough for him. So what if she was his only friend? They’d been close for years now, he didn’t need another person in his life.

He simply scowled at Aizawa and clicked his tongue, shoving his hands deep into his pockets, causing his pants to sag even further down than they already were. Fucking teachers always tryin’ to butt in where they don’t belong, he mentally cursed.

By the time Bakugou got home, he was fucking beat. He threw his bag down on the small coffee table in his apartment and shoved his way through the long hallway near the entrance and into the kitchen. He yanked open the fridge door and pulled out the eggs and bacon, slamming it back shut again. Music was blaring from the door that connected to the kitchen, and Bakugou knew what that meant.

Mere seconds later the music had stopped and the old door was creaking open, a girl with dark purple hair and tired eyes stumbling out.

“Who pissed you off this time?” Asked Jiro as she leaned against the counter in her old sports bra and sleep shorts.  Bakugou growled.

“Fucking Aizawa.” He spat, cracking open an egg and letting it drip onto the pan he had pulled out. “One egg or two?” He caught her eye, glaring viciously. She completely ignored the scathing look in favor of grabbing the milk from the fridge door.

“Two,” she said, screwing the lid off. She pulled out two glasses from the cabinet while Bakugou cracked open three more eggs and threw the remaining shells in the trash can. The two made their way around the kitchen in amicable silence, preparing their dinner-breakfast. Bakugou worked on the eggs and bacon while Jiro threw a couple of pieces of bread into the toaster and set the table (which was actually just a nightstand with two folding chairs attached to it).

“What’d he do?” She asked as she put down the second fork, finished setting the table. Bakugou grumbled under his breath as one of the eggs stuck to the frying pan and he scraped it off.

“Paired me up with some fucking extra. Told me I had to tutor him or some shit.” He finished scraping the eggs off and whirled around to face Jiro. “I mean, if the idiot needs a tutor to pass his classes why the fuck did he even go to college?” Jiro quirked an eyebrow at Bakugou, passing him a plate.

“Maybe it’s a good thing.” She smiled deviously, “You’re not exactly the most socially adept person I know.”

“You tryin’ to get me to throw your eggs away!?” Jiro smiled, a laugh bubbling out of her chapped lips.

“Sorry!” She giggled, trying to steal the plate of eggs from Bakugou “I’m sorry Katsuki! Please!” She continued laughing as she tried - and failed - to take the plate from him, wrestling with him around the kitchen.

“Back off Kyouka! You forfeited these eggs when you insulted me!” He screamed, holding the plate above her head tauntingly. She shoved him in the gut, stealing the plate from him and cackling as she ran.

After nearly ten minutes of non-stop back and forth, Bakugou had managed to secure the plate, throwing on the bacon and toast that had long since finished cooking. Jiro smiled, breathing heavily.

“Great, now the eggs are cold. Thanks a lot, Katsuki.” She said sarcastically.

“Oh, and who made them in the first place?” He quipped. Jiro was silent as she pushed the eggs around on her plate.

“That’s what I thought,” Bakugou said as he shoveled a cold bite into his mouth. Jiro followed suit, going for the toast first.

“So what’s the deal with the whole tutoring thing, anyway?” She said as she took another bite of toast.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full. It’s fuckin’ disgusting.” He took a swig of milk. “I don’t know what Aizawa’s expecting to happen by makin’ me tutor this kid.” Bakugou took a bite of his bacon, “I mean, seriously, if he’s not picking this shit up it’s his own damn fault. The hell am I supposed to do? I can’t force him to understand it.” He grumbled as he continued to eat. Jiro nodded, finished with her toast and now going for the eggs.

“Well, how are you gonna do it anyway? Have you guys figured out when you’re gonna meet up yet?” She tilted her head.

“Not yet. All I did was get his contact info.” Bakugou shrugged. “He seems fuckin’ weird though.” Jiro snorted,

“Like you’re one to talk.” Bakugou growled again and she apologized frantically, scarfing down the rest of her toast.

“Like his hair adds an entire foot onto him. He literally gelled all of it up like some sorta skyscraper.” Jiro took a sip of her milk, “What’s he tryin’a do? Become a lightning rod?” Jiro spat out her drink, doubling over in laughter as she reached blindly for a napkin.

“What the fuck, Katsuki?” She gasped, cackling. “Lightening rod?” She was nearly crying with laughter. Bakugou stood up defensively, slamming his hands down on the table,

“What!? He’s the one trying to reach the fuckin’ sky with his hair!” Jiro covered her mouth to stop another wave of laughter but failed miserable, nearly falling out of her chair in mirth.

“Would you stop fuckin’ laughing already!?” Bakugou shouted, leaning further over the table and into Jiro’s face. Jiro clutched her stomach.

“I’m sorry, I just-” She laughed again, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so worked up about something as simple as a person’s hair. Stupid voice? Sure. Annoying personality? Definitely. But hair? Really?” Bakugou looked down his nose at her, fuming. Jiro gulped, finally getting control of her overwhelming urge to laugh. She stifled a chuckle. Bakugou glared at her, but sat back down in his chair with a huff, finishing his food wordlessly.

After they had both finished eating, Jiro collected all the dishes and began washing them, handing them to Bakugou to dry. Despite how much they argued (albeit good-naturedly) the two got along swimmingly. Bakugou had never really had any close friends before Jiro, and he didn’t plan to have any after. The two had met over half a decade ago in their first year of middle school. Bakugou had decided on day one that he was too good for everyone in the room and was adamantly not going to speak to any of them, but Jiro caught his eye. She was quiet and reserved but had an edge about her that had reeled Bakugou in.

Apparently, Bakugou had the same air about him, because as soon as Jiro spotted him she made her way over and introduced herself. The two had become unlikely friends and shared some of the misery of middle and high school together. Whenever one of them got into a fight, it was their fight. When one person was happy it was their joy. And when Jiro got her heart broken for the first time it wasn’t just her pain, it was Bakugou’s pain, too. Despite what a lot of people tended to think about him, Bakugou was an amazing, and fierce, friend.

The second he heard what had happened to Jiro he stormed up to the girl that hurt her and punched her dead in the face. It didn’t matter that she was a girl because she broke Kyouka’s heart, dammit. And when Katsuki got suspended for a week? Well, Jiro was right there beside him, bringing him all of the assignments that he was missing, explaining what they had gone over in class that day, and thanking him every time she saw him for what he had done. 

Back then Jiro wasn’t confident about anything concerning herself or her image, and Bakugou helped her through what she had said was the worst time in her life. She’d been depressed and anorexic, trying hopelessly to grasp on to an image of herself she could never achieve. Bakugou was the one person who had kept her together. He checked on her damn near daily, made sure she was eating right, and got her into therapy. 

Bakugou was pretty sure his mom thought the two were together for the better part of their school career, and when they announced that they were not only going to the same college but also renting an apartment together? Well, that certainly didn’t help their case. 

But Bakugou didn’t care about that. He didn’t care what anyone thought because he was always going to be there for Jiro, and he knew she would always be there for him, just not romantically. They’d never felt the need to evolve into something more. They were comfortable how they were.

Bakugou shook his head to clear away some of the thoughts. He had no idea why he was feeling such a strong sense of nostalgia right now, but he didn’t like it. He finished drying the last plate and followed Jiro to the living room. The two flopped down onto the too-cramped love seat and whipped out two controllers, firing up the Xbox they’d both chipped in to buy.

“You ready to get fucking destroyed, Kyouka?” Bakugou grinned harshly.

“Get ready to eat those words, Katsuki.” She smirked back.

Chapter Text

Unknown: Hey!

6:28pm

 

Unknown: When are you free?

6:28pm

 

Unknown: For the tutoring thing I mean

6:29pm

 

Unknown: Oh, this is Kirishima by the way!

6:34pm

 

Bakugou growled at his phone screen, silently wishing he could just ignore this altogether. What a pain.

 

Bakugou Katsuki: 2716 North Duke Dr. apt. 16

6:47pm

 

----

Kirishima looked at his phone screen in confusion, wondering what the address on his screen meant. Should he go there now? Did he need to wait until tomorrow morning? But he had made sure to text Bakugou early on in the night so that they could meet up that day if needed. But maybe Bakugou didn’t realize that? Wait, then why would he just send an address?

Kirishima bit his lip nervously, pacing back and forth. His thighs ached from the run he had gone on this morning. His friends had told him not to, he knew he shouldn’t, but he just couldn’t help himself.

It was like there was some sort of urge curled up within him that prevented him from not harming himself. It was a physical need for him, something he couldn’t escape. Kirishima couldn’t help but feel guilty.

Kaminari and Ashido had tried to convince him that he was innocent, that he’d done nothing wrong, but Kirishima knew better. If it weren’t for me he’d be better. If it weren’t for me none of this would have ever happened. Kirishima could feel his mind spiraling down a rabbit hole that was dangerous and self-destructive, but he couldn’t stop his wandering thoughts.

Kirishima’s breath started to come in harder, faster, lungs expanding and contracting wildly. It’s your fault this happened he thought to himself, chest heaving. It’s all your fault. Why did you do it? Why did you do this to him? Kirishima fell to the floor in one swift drop, knees banging the ground with a resolute thud and if Kirishima wasn’t on the verge of a panic attack he might’ve been concerned about the bruises that would almost certainly be there tomorrow. His phone fell from his hand, hitting the floor with a loud clap, and his left palm came down to catch him.

Kirishima reached for his throat, balling up the collar of his shirt with his right hand, eyes flying from object to object without control. His lungs burned. He could smell smoke in the air. He could hear a siren in the distance. His hands clambered to his side, feeling blood rush between his fingertips, glass shards broken inside of him. He couldn’t breathe.

Kaito lay restless on the floor next to Kirishima. His head pounded with the blood flowing to it. He was upside down, he was in pain, he was broken. Kirishima gasped for air, throat closing further and further with every attempt. He couldn’t breathe .

Flames engulfed him and smoke filled his lungs. Blood dripped down Kaito’s face as he spasmed, seatbelt locked around his neck. The panic in his eyes was thick and palpable. The front window was shattered, and police cars raced in from every side. Lights flashed one after another, blue, red, blue, red. Light spilled in through the front of the car, highlighting the blood dripping down Kirishima’s side. Kaito reached out his head, eyes pleading for help. Smoke plumed, coating Kirishima’s lungs in a thick layer of smog. Kaito froze, his hand dropping lifelessly, dangling in the red-blue lights and Kirishima couldn’t fucking breathe and this was all his fault. He was the one driving if only he’d been a better brother if only he’d have been safer if only he’d-

 

Bakugou Katsuki: You coming or not

6:55pm

 

Kirishima blinked. His body started to move again and his throat relaxed the slightest bit. He gasped for air like a dying animal, falling forward. I’m here. I’m at home. It’s over. He chanted, scrambling to the toilet. Kirishima kneeled over the bowl, puking, as the sounds of people approached.

Heavy footsteps ran through the house and the bathroom door was thrown open, revealing a very concerned Ashido. Her hair was disheveled and her eyes flashed with fear. She raced to his side, holding him and pulling back his hair.

“Hey, you’re okay. You’re okay.” She shushed him. His stomach lurched and he doubled over the bowl once again, throat hot. His face was flushed and his gut was churning.

“Was it another attack?” She whispered, rubbing his back. Kirishima nodded, taking in huge gulps of air. It had been almost three weeks since he’d had a full-on panic attack, and he was scared at the feeling. He gripped Ashido to him, breathing her in. She was a reminder that he wasn’t in the past. He was here. With her. In their home. Safe.

----

After another ten minutes that consisted of Ashido’s soothing voice leading him through breathing exercises, he was relatively calm again. He had to go meet Bakugou, had to study because Dammit I am not going to fail. He carefully pried himself away from Ashido as she studied him, silently gauging whether or not he was fit to be by himself. After what seemed like a hard internal battle, Ashido let Kirishima go and rose to her feet. Kirishima explained to her that he had a tutoring session to get to, and she frowned at him before insisting on at least driving him there. Kirishima nodded, still a bit shaken up.

As Kirishima packed up all of his textbooks, Ashido pulled out her phone, calling Kaminari. She probably thought she was being slick when she quietly relayed what had happened to him. Kirishima knew both of his best friends’ rutines by heart at this point, and he knew he was on his way home from class right now. Kirishima steadied himself before tapping Ashido lightly on the shoulder, signaling that he was ready to go. She nodded.

The ride to Bakugou’s apartment was long and agonizing, filled with tense silence. He shrank into his seat, desperate to get away from what he knew were Ashido’s prying eyes. He understood that she didn’t mean to be forceful, but sometimes she could be a bit overwhelming.

“You know you can talk to me, right Ei?” She asked softly, eyes on the road. Kirishima gulped.

“I know.”

“Then why don’t you?” Four words. Four little words were all it took to have him relapsing into an ocean of guilt, drowning.

Silence.

Ashido sighed.

“I love you, Eijirou. Denki and I both do, and we’re here for you, but if you don’t talk to us, you do need to talk to someone. I can’t-” Her voice broke, lips trembling. “ We can’t keep seeing you like this. You’re not the only one getting hurt.”

Kirishima opened his mouth, prepared to reply, but Ashido cut him off.

“And don’t try and tell me it’s not serious. I know it’s not just the running. You don’t eat Ei. Haven’t really eaten in months. You work yourself to the bone every day in practice. You need to remember, we’re friends with everyone on your team and they’re all worried about you, too. Sero, Tetsu, Ojiro, all of them. Just…” She slowed to a stop, hands tightening around the wheel until her knuckles turned white. “Just please promise me you’ll talk to someone.” She whispered as she parked in front of an apartment complex, finally looking Kirishima in the eye. He sighed.

“I’ll try, Mina. I promise.” He climbed out of the car and shut the door, leaving her alone in heavy silence. As he walked to the front steps, she let her head fall into the steering wheel, hands clenching.

“Dammit, Ei.” She whispered.

Chapter Text

Kirishima pulled out his phone, checking the address one final time before taking a deep breath and knocking on the door to apartment number 16. His knuckles wrapped on the dingy door cautiously, but he plastered on a friendly smile and tried to ignore the nagging guilt in the back of his mind. He’d promised Ashido that he’d try, and try he would. So, when the door opened to reveal an explosive blonde in baggy sweatpants and a loose muscle shirt, Kirishima beamed, though it felt hollow.

“Hey, Bakugou!” He cheered. He could do this. Be a man .

“Took you long enough,” Bakugou grumbled as he opened the door wider, allowing Kirishima entrance. Said boy took a careful step in, looking around as he did so. The door opened up to a small living space, a hallway leading off of the left wall. There was a door on the far wall that Kirishima assumed led to the bathroom, and the right wall held a large picture window with a drawn beige curtain. Kirishima took it all in, mouth dropping open in mild surprise.

“Nice place, man!” He smiled, hands wrapped around his bookbag straps. Bakugou just clicked his tongue and turned away.

“Put your stuff wherever,” he said as he slumped his way over to a couch that clearly needed to be retired. Kirishima followed, placing his bag down next to the coffee table that sat in front of the sofa and fishing out his textbooks. He set each of them gently on the table, along with two pencils. Kirishima couldn’t feel more uncomfortable. He used to be an extremely outgoing person, but he couldn’t help the feeling of unease that crept up on him upon being in a new location. He was serious about understanding this material, however: he couldn’t afford to lose his scholarship. Especially not after all the medical bills for-

Kirishima breathed in deeply, sitting on his knees in front of the coffee table and digging the lead of his pencil into his palm. Don’t think about it. Not now.

“The fuck’s wrong with you, huh?” The harsh voice knocked Kirishima out of his own head and back down to reality. He smiled. Funny, that’s the second time today Bakugou’s snapped me out of it.

“Nothing!” He said, still holding onto that ridiculous smile. It won over most people eventually, but Bakugou was looking to be a bit tougher to sway. The boy in question rolled his eyes, which Kirishima noted were a bright crimson color. That was the first thing he’d noticed about Bakugou when he first met him a few days ago, too.

Kirishima opened up his textbook to a bookmarked page and handed Bakugou a pencil. He was coming over to Bakugou’s place to study, so he might as well get to it.

“So, this stuff right here is really difficult for me.” He said honestly. Bakugou scowled. These were basic equations. Kirishima knew they were easy to most people in his class, but Calculus had always been his weakest point, and with everything going on lately he was a complete mess. Kirishima thought he was about to get an earful from Bakugou about how easy this was for him and how Kirishima was stupid for not understanding it but, instead, Bakugou simply took out a sheet of paper from Kirishima’s binder and sat down next to the boy. He then proceeded to solve the problem in approximately two minutes, writing out all of his work.

“Try doing it without my help first. I wanna see how far you can get on your own” Kirishima quirked an eyebrow at him but did as he was told. He grabbed a blank sheet of paper and started to scribble on it. After a few minutes of trying to solve the problem (and failing miserably) Bakugou intervened.

“Stop.” He said, scowling. “What the hell are you doing?” Kirishima looked at him nervously.

“I told you, man, I have no idea what any of this means.”

“This is high school shit!” He yelled incredulously. “We learned derivatives junior year!” Kirishima flinched under Bakugou’s harsh glower.

“That was years ago!” he yelled back, eyebrows furrowing in disbelief. Did this guy really think he would be asking for his help if he had any idea what he was doing? He hadn’t exactly been active in class for the past few months. Clearly, he was behind.

Bakugou ground his teeth together, fist tightening around the pencil in his hand and Kirishima deflated only slightly. I need to get it together, he thought sadly. I need to catch up. Bakugou took a deep breath in through his nose, nostrils flaring. He seemed to be making a conscious effort not to explode.

“Your first mistake was really early on.” He spoke slowly, attempting to reign himself in somewhat. He then pointed to Kirishima’s paper where he had started to simplify the equation he was given.

“If the top and bottom are both in a fourth root you can combine them together. That means that you don’t have to write out all these extra steps doing each part separately. If you start to simplify the numerator and denominator at the same time you can save time and get further along on a test.” He explained with shocking clarity. Kirishima’s eyes widened. He’s...actually helping me…? Bakugou scowled at him,

“You’re not the only one in trouble if your grades don’t improve. Aizawa won’t stop hounding me about it, either.” He spat. Kirishima nodded in understanding and looked back to his paper. He started to erase his work, trying again from the top. This time he combined the roots into one and went from there. Bakugou barked at him again,

“Are you some kinda idiot?” Kirishima shrank under the insult. Wasn’t that obvious?

“What do you mean?” he said instead. Bakugou grabbed his paper, motioning around with his pencil as he spoke,

“If your numerator and denominator both have two variables and neither of them can go into the root you’re given, you don’t just ignore them and try to simplify straight away.” Kirishima nodded attentively, following Bakugou’s pencil as he crossed out numbers and rewrote them. “You have to break up everything. So if you have 32 times y to the third times z to the sixth over two times z to the second times y to the 11th, you need to make it 32 over two times z to the sixth over z to the second times y to the third over y to the 11th. The order of the numbers can be different on the top and bottom but you can still group them together because multiplication is commutative.”

Kirishima paused to take it all in, watching as Bakugou’s pencil moved at light speed, fixing Kirishima’s mistakes like they were nothing. He’s so smart. Kirishima smiled ever so slightly, nodding slowly. Once Bakugou had finished speaking he gasped,

“I think I get it!” He shouted. Bakugou nodded, crossing his arms,

“Good. Then you should be able to do the next one, too. Same steps, different numbers.” Kirishima retrieved his paper and immediately went to work on the next problem in his textbook, making sure to repeat every step he had just learned. 

 

----

 

Once Kirishima finally finished he shoved his paper in Bakugou’s face,

“Is this right?” he asked excitedly. Bakugou clicked his tongue and ripped the paper from Kirishima’s hands, vibrant irises tracing over the numbers carefully. His eyes widened a fraction, lips slipping open in a slightly surprised manner.

“Yeah, it is,” he said, accidentally letting some of his shock show through. “Maybe you’re not completely hopeless after all.” Kirishima beamed, entire body practically vibrating with excitement.

“REALLY?” He screamed, leaning into Bakugou’s face, sharp teeth on display. How the hell are his teeth that pointy? Bakugou thought. Does the fucker sharpen ‘em or something? His eyes traced Kirishima’s teeth with mild interest. What the fuck?

Bakugou brushed away the odd thoughts, placing a hand over Kirishima’s face. He pushed the boy away forcefully, grimacing.

“Yeah really, now don’t fuckin’ jump all over me, shitty hair.” Kirishima frowned.

“Hey, my hair’s perfect!” He said defensively. Bakugou rolled his eyes. Sure.

“Do the next problem already,” he growled. “Just because you got this one right doesn’t mean it’ll keep going like that.” He eyed Kirishima’s paper before snatching it away and shoving a new one at him, “And don’t use your fuckin’ notes this time!” 

Kirishima whined at him but got to work, dutifully writing out each step. Bakugou would yank on his ear or yell at him from time to time to get his attention and tell him he was doing something wrong, but other than that the two sat in near-amicable silence.

Bakugou set his head in his right hand, elbow resting on the table, and looked over at Kirishima. He’d thought the guy looked dumb the first time he saw him, but now he was sure that he acted dumb, too. Bakugou silently took him in. This was the first chance he was getting to really look at him. He had long red hair that had to be dyed, smooth, tan skin, and blood-red eyes that Bakugou would have been certain were contacts if not for his own strange eye coloration. 

Kirishima was fit, Katsuki noted, but there was something about him that just didn’t seem right. It was like he had the muscle, but it was only halfway there as if his body was deteriorating. He was too thin to be normal, and Bakugou narrowed his eyes. Kirishima was tall, but limber. Tough, but slim. Bakugou stayed silent as he observed Kirishima, watching the boy’s muscles flex as he moved his arms and continued to write. He scowled, but he wasn’t one for jumping to conclusions.

Bakugou scoffed and turned away from Kirishima, choosing to instead focus on the problem the redhead was completing. It was another derivative, but a bit more complicated than the last few. Bakugou scowled. He probably won’t be able to get this one.

Three minutes later, however, Kirishima was slamming down his pencil, a strong smile on his face, and turning to look at Bakugou.

“I did it!” He shouted, smile broadening even more than before. Bakugou rolled his eyes, sliding the paper over.

“Yeah ri-” he stopped dead. Bakugou looked from Kirishima’s paper to his own, where he had worked out the same problem ahead of time. No way. He looked between them one more time, just to make sure he was actually reading the numbers right, before forcefully sliding the paper back over to Kirishima. The boy looked at him nervously, cautiously hopeful. Bakugou sighed.

“Surprised you got that,” he said simply, cutting right to the point. Kirishima grinned,

“Well, you’re surprisingly good at explaining things.” He chuckled, “Definitely not what I expected.” Bakugou growled as Kirishima continued to laugh, blissfully ignorant. Bakugou couldn’t help but notice how bright Kirishima’s smile was, and how melodic his voice sounded, but that only made him angrier, and he rose to his knees, launching himself at Kirishima.

“The hell is that supposed to mean, shitty hair!?” Kirishima cut off abruptly, squeaking as he scrambled away but starting to laugh even harder than before.

“Bakugou, stop!” He yelled, laughing hysterically as he ran away from the man, arms flailing like a chicken with its head cut off. Bakugou continued to chase him around the cramped apartment, but he couldn’t help letting a small smile of his own making its way onto his face. His eyes glinted with the spark of a new challenge.

“You’re dead!” He screamed, grinning wickedly.

 

----

 

Kirishima tossed and turned in bed. He couldn’t stop thinking about everything that had happened today, though. He knew it wasn’t personal, knew it was just how Bakugou was, but he still couldn’t stop the ache in his heart every time he thought about the things the blonde boy had called him.

Stupid, idiot, dumb…

Kirishima brought his hands up to his eyes, pressing down hard to try and stop the warm liquid he knew was flowing out. His hands balled into fists as he angrily wiped the tears away. He knew it wasn’t personal but he just felt so damn pathetic.

Kirishima couldn’t force the tears away no matter how hard he tried, and his lip quivered and he trembled for hours, alone and in the dark.

Chapter Text

Kirishima laid in his bed, arm draped limply over the side. His eyes hurt from the tears that had refused to stop pooling for hours now, There were harsh red streaks covering his face from where salty water had dried. His head pounded but his heartbeat was slow and rhythmic. Kirishima’s hair was down, each strand going a separate direction as he laid on his bed stiffly. His body ached all over and his eyes were sunken in, red, and inflamed.

He’d gotten home from tutoring yesterday and today was the weekend, he was supposed to be having fun and taking a break from school, but he hadn’t been able to stop his thoughts from spiraling.

He slowly tilted his head, finding the alarm clock at his side.

 

1:53 am

 

He breathed out a long, shallow sigh, closing his eyes. It was like everything hurt, but at the same time, nothing did. He was just...numb. This was the part of depression that no one ever told him about. He expected the tears, he expected the pain, he even expected the lack of interest in, well, anything really. But...he wasn’t ready for this part of it. He wasn’t ready for the clothes piling up on his floor, for the sleepless nights where he couldn’t escape his own mind. He wasn’t ready for the fact that he hadn’t showered in days but didn’t care enough to do something about. He wasn’t ready for any of it.

Kirishima lifted his right arm, the one that was hanging off of his bed, and ran it down his face slowly. He could feel the stiffness of dried salt on his cheeks mixed with the wetness clinging to the corners of his eyes. How had it gotten this bad? How had he become so far gone?

He sighed once again, dropping his arm back to his side. His chest felt tight and heavy and he knew he needed to do something about it, knew he needed to talk to someone but...to be honest, that scared him. He didn’t want to bring someone else down. He didn’t want to have to rely on anyone but himself to get through this. He was strong, he was capable, and he thought that he could do this on his own. He was terrified of letting someone else in only to let them down again.

Kirishima bit his lip and one of the only emotions he had felt in a long time came rushing back through him: and overwhelming wave of guilt mixed with self-pity. He knew that sitting here like this wasn’t manly, knew that it wouldn’t do him any good in the long run, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.

Every step he took during the day was a physical pain, every breath he took shredding his lungs. He felt like his bones were made of glass and skin of paper. What would happen if he shattered? Would anyone really even care?

Distantly, he knew that Ashido and Kaminari would be there for him, and he liked to think that even Bakugou cared about him at least a little, but he couldn’t help that creeping sense of self-deprecation clawing its way into his mind.

What if they secretly hated him? What if they were only pretending to care about him out of pity? What if they really did blame him for Kaito’s death but just weren’t saying anything?

Kirishima sucked in a shuddering gasp, fresh tears beginning to prick at his tear ducts, clouding his vision.

That was it, wasn’t it? They hated him.

Kirishima grasped the thin fabric of the tank top he had on, feeling his heart pump fast, faster than he thought he’d ever felt it. His chest hurt, his head hurt, everything hurt. He just wanted it to be over, wanted to not feel this stupid pain anymore. His eyes slid over to the closed bedroom door that he knew was directly adjacent to the restroom. His breath caught in his throat.

Maybe...maybe that was what he needed to do. Would that make up for it? Would he finally be free from this guilt?

Kirishima bit his lip and slowly, stiffly, sat up in his bed. His eyes were glued to his door, breaths coming faster and harder. His feet slid onto the ground numbly.

The floor was cool against his warm body and the hardwood felt smooth on his skin. Kirishima slowly lifted himself completely out of his bed, standing. His hands were limp, hanging beside him as he started to walk, and as he moved it was as if his body was on autopilot. He barely registered walking until his hand was clutching his door handle, cold and round against his flushed palms. He fumbled with it for only a second before he got his door open, making his way into the hall.

Kirishima looked to his left, seeing the living room he shared with his two closest friends. There was an old lipstick-stained mug sitting on the coffee table and an old pair of headphones that he remembered Kaminari drawing a lightning bolt on. Kirishima felt his eyes swell with unshed tears, throat closing ever so slightly. He lifted a shaking hand to his mouth to muffle the sob that was screaming to get out.

Was he really ready to do this?

Kirishima’s eyes caught on the bathroom door before flickering back to the living room briefly.

Was he ready to leave all this behind?

He eyed the living room again, eyes trailing around it. Before he could understand what was happening, his feet were carrying him into the shared space, and he was collapsing onto the carpeted floor in front of the couch. There was a bright pink hairbrush sitting on one of the couch cushions and Kirishima remembered Ashido using it yesterday. On one of the chairs across the room was an old T-shirt with a picture of Pikachu that Kirishima had bought Kaminari for his birthday a few years back.

Kirishima’s heart felt like it was going to explode. Could he give all this up? His stomach lurched as he felt another sob bubbling up, and even after slapping both hands over his mouth, he couldn’t cover it. The cry broke loose from his throat, the tears that had been gathering behind his eyes finally opening the floodgates and pouring down his warm cheeks. Kirishima let himself sink further into the carpet, sob after sob retching its way out of his mouth.

After a moment Kirishima couldn’t take it anymore and full-on cries were escaping his lips, no matter how bad he wanted to shut them off. That was when he heard the sound of a door opening and saw Kaminari standing in his doorway, eyes wide and shocked. Kirishima didn’t have time to think before the blonde boy was flying down the hallway and throwing himself onto Kirishima, wrapping around him with a vice grip.

Kirishima wailed, arms grabbing at Kaminari frantically, eyes stinging from the abuse. He could barely breathe through all of his cries, hiccuping and sniffling non-stop. He gripped Kaminari’s shirt as tight as he dared, letting all of his walls come crashing down.

“I’m-I’m so s-sorry.” He hiccuped, letting out a new sob between each word. Kaminari was just barely visible through the dim lighting of the living room, but the way his eyes widened in understanding was not hard to see. Kirishima could practically feel the hurt as the boy gripped him even tighter and before long another door was opening and Ashido was peeking out in confusion. Kirishima caught her eye as he continued to hug Kaminari and Ashido immediately raced to him, throwing her arms around the two boys already on the floor.

Kirishima let out a loud, broken cry, irises mimicking waterfalls as he wept, eyes squeezing shut. He couldn’t believe what he’d almost done. Kaminari and Ashido were silent as the hugged him, simply letting him cry.

Kirishima was sure Kaminari’s shirt would be covered in a gross mixture of tears and snot if this kept up, but he couldn’t really help it at this point. He cried and cried until his chest burned with the effort and his eyes had gone dry. Then he simply held on to the both of them, body numb.

Finally, Kaminari pulled out of the hug, making sure to keep his hands on Kirishima and Ashido continued to hold him. The blonde boy looked him dead in the eyes,

“We care about you.” It was simple, and under normal circumstances would’ve been met with a teasing remark or a sweet smile but right now all Kirishima could do was whimper and dive back in for another hug. Kaminari gladly accepted, rubbing his back as Ashido shushed him soothingly.

“I’m serious, Eijirou. We care about you.” Kirishima let out another whimper. “I don’t-” For the first time in a long time, Kaminari’s voice broke. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re so fucking important to me.” He gripped Kirishima tighter with every word as if willing him to believe.

“You’re important to us, and if you were gone I don’t know what I would do with my life. Hell, I don’t even know if I’d be able to keep going,” the blonde boy continued. Ashido nodded as Kirishima buried his face between them.

“It’s the same for me, Ei.” She started, voice soft and soothing. “I care about you too much to let you think otherwise. You’re funny, and you’re kind, and you’ll never say no to anyone that asks for help, and I really really love you. You’re amazing and I don’t know how I’d live without you here.” 

Guilt pooled in Kirishima’s stomach as he listened to the words but at the same time, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of belonging start to bloom within him.

“Please, Eijirou.” It was Kaminari this time. “We can’t keep doing this.” Kirishima knew that. He knew that, and he knew that both of them knew that he knew that. He couldn’t keep scaring them like this. He had to keep reminding himself that people did care about him, it wasn’t some elaborate lie. They cared about him, and they loved him, and they wanted him to be happy. He knew that, and yet, it was so hard to believe sometimes.

After another minute of silence, Ashido pulled away, grabbing Kirishima by the shoulders and forcing him to look at her. Her eyes were warm and friendly, swirling hazel, but there was a fire of determination lit under her this time.

“You need to talk to someone. I’m not going to let you get away from it this time. This needs to stop.” Kirishima hadn’t seen her that determined in years, and his eyes widened as her grip on his shoulders tightened. It was like a flip had been switched. Ashido was commanding and her eyes burned straight through him. Kirishima gulped, body physically trembling under the intense stare.

“Yeah.” He swallowed again, forcing himself to hold her gaze. “I promise I will.” And if Kirishima hadn’t seen her that determined in years, he had never seen her that relieved. It was like relief had flooded ever pour in her body, and the fire was blowing away to leave just a few sparkling embers. She pulled him close once again and Kirishima could hear Kaminari chuckle against him.

“Thanks man.” Kirishima nodded,

“It’s way past time I did something for you guys.” Ashido snorted and Kaminari smiled softly,

“Damn straight.”