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The Beauty in Tragedy

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For what Bakugou knew was at least the 50th time in the last day or so, he flipped up the cover on the ignition switch, pushing his thumb roughly into the button.  His eyebrows raised, hearing a new sound, one he hadn't heard all of the previously ineffective tries, and his heart skipped a beat before he realized it was only his own slightly hysterical laughter.

 

"Bakugou."  Iida's voice was like a scythe, cutting through the stale air.  "I don't think my soul can handle it if you push on that damned thing even one more time.  Please."

 

"Is that right??"  Shrill and rough at the edges, Bakugou continued to laugh, gently turning himself to stare Iida down.  "And what would you suggest as an alternative, 'professor'? Isn't this why we dragged your oversized, annoying ass on this trip?  To think your way out of difficult situations? CULMINATION OF YOUR CAREER, RIGHT HERE, IIDA-SENSEI! Sort THIS shit out!!"

 

Unable to 'get away' like he wanted, Bakugou settled for floating himself to the end of the cockpit, facing away from Iida and anchoring his suit so he could cross his arms in a proper pout.  It seemed Iida had finally learned when to keep his mouth shut, Bakugou's unintended companion simply letting out a long breath before returning his attention to his notebook.

 

Not that that was much better…  The incessant scribbling sounds and Iida's occasional mumbles and hums were definitely wearing on whatever tatters of self-control Bakugou had left.  Determined to refuse to speak to him any further, Bakugou began to hum to himself, trying to block out the noise. He had a terrible voice, off-pitch and gravelly from their rationing of water, but at this point he was beyond caring.  And maybe it would annoy Iida even half as much as Iida had been annoying Bakugou for the past 30 hours or so.



*



"Bakugou."  The whisper shocked Bakugou out of his accidental nap, feeling a hand resting softly on his shoulder.

 

"Hruuh?" he garbled, blinking and looking around, trying to remember where he was.

 

"I'm going to cover the windows, okay?"  Iida's voice was soft, tentative even, and Bakugou eventually processed that Iida was going to darken the cabin so they could sleep.

 

"Whatever you'd like, professor."  Apparently his nap had done nothing for Bakugou's mood, the venom in his voice seeming to fill the small space with a tangy bitterness.  Once again, Iida forwent a reply, drifting to the control panels while Bakugou unhooked himself and made his way to one of the two cockpit chairs, strapping himself in.  His eyes followed Iida as he methodically tugged down the visors, latching them in place and plunging the two into complete darkness before securing himself in the other chair.

 

Listening to Iida's soft breathing, Bakugou closed his eyes, willing himself to rest, but there was something unfamiliar clawing at his guts, and it took him noticing he was beginning to fumble with the restraints of the chair before he realized he was panicking.  He'd never been a fan of the dark, and in their current situation, it was proving to be more than he could handle. "I-Iida-Sensei," he gritted out, hating himself for the raw fear he could hear sparking in his tone.

 

"Bakugou?  Is something the matter?"  Iida's voice was startled from him, laced with his own sudden panic.

 

"Iida, please.  Crack one of the visors."

 

Bakugou was eternally grateful that Iida asked no questions, listening with rapid, shallow breaths as Iida unbuckled himself.  Soon, a tiny slit of light appeared at the base of a window, and they both squinted helplessly for a moment as their eyes adjusted.  As soon as he was able to see, Iida snapped his gaze to Bakugou, looking him over as concern danced across his face. "Are you injured?  Did something happen?"

 

Bakugou waved his hand in the air, aiming for nonchalance.  "Nothing happened. Everything's fine. Or, as fine as it can be."  He immediately closed his eyes, squirming around to try to get at least less UNcomfortable, and prepared himself for sleep.

 

Several moments passed, silent except for their quiet breathing.  Bakugou was beginning to drift off when he heard Iida shift, opening his eyes and darting a glance at the dark-haired man.  Iida appeared to be studying him, and Bakugou opened his mouth to toss something snarky his way when Iida finally spoke. "You're going to sleep?"

 

"What?"  Bakugou turned away from Iida as best he could, huffing, his body wriggling in a decidedly undignified manner under the belts.  "Isn't that what you wanted?"

 

Bakugou rolled his eyes as Iida held his silence, wedging his arm under his head in a makeshift pillow.  Iida still hadn't moved from the windows, and Bakugou found himself getting more and more irritated, wondering just how long Iida was going to stare at him before he went back to his own chair.  "Okaaaay…" Iida eventually breathed. "So… Can I shut this, or…"

 

"No.  Just… Go to sleep.  It doesn't make sense for it to be completely dark in here.  If something happens and we need to react quickly, not being able to see is a disadvantage," Bakugou croaked, squinting his eyes closed in shame.

 

Iida pushed himself back to his chair, a soft "I see," easing from his lips, and he strapped himself back in, tossing his arm over his eyes only to have it immediately float away from his face.  His disgruntled grumbles had Bakugou clenching his fists, never wanting to strike another human being so much before in his life.

 

Iida seemed to be having a great deal of trouble finding a position he was happy with, tiny, muttered phrases of "I have no idea…" and "Certainly not optimal for sleep…" drifting to Bakugou through the dense silence.  He felt like he could hear every last movement of Iida's body, shuffling and stretching and twisting, and when Iida still hadn't settled down after a minute or more of tense and unhappy movement, Bakugou lost it.

 

"HOLY SHIT, WOULD YOU JUST BE FUCKING QUIET??" he rasped, Iida jerking at the sudden sound.  "How am I supposed to sleep with you wriggling around over there like your ass is on fire and mumbling like a goddamned madman??  God DAMN, I would kill you myself if I didn't know I'd have to spend a week with your fucking rotting CORPSE!"

 

"Bakugou."  Iida's voice was little more than a breath, but there was something there Bakugou had never heard, and he was simultaneously terrified of the harshness and thrilled that he finally, somehow, pushed a button on the unflappable man.  "I am sincerely sorry you must spend your last living moments with someone you clearly despise as much as you do me, but I think before I sink to calling you names, poking fun of your fear of the dark, or threatening your life, I will offer you one last chance to stop being an asshole.  We are both thoroughly and completely screwed, here, and I would rather not spend my last breaths being hateful. Please go to sleep. I will do the same."

 

"Fuck you, Iida.  That is some self-righteous bullshit, right there.  I'd have been asleep a long time ago if it weren't for you making so much noise."

 

Iida's breaths were slow and measured, and Bakugou felt a flare of pride that he had clearly 'won', that Iida had nothing else to say, that he had come out on top in their little 'argument'.  He let his eyes fall closed, wondering how long he'd really be able to sleep all cramped up in this chair.

 

"It wouldn't be a week," Iida suddenly murmured, the sound ginger and timid in the semi-darkness.

 

Bakugou had a smart-ass reply ready, but just before it fell from his lips, Iida's words sank in.  "Wh… Huh?" he stammered out instead, fighting with the restraints to roll himself back to face his companion.

 

"I finished the calculations while you were napping.  We have plenty of food, and the water will last us a week.  But we won't need it." A tiny laugh escaped Iida's lips. "So I guess we don't need to be so careful with it."

 

"What are you saying?"  For the first time since their doomed flight from the main ship, Bakugou sounded cowed.

 

"The radiation will likely begin making us feel ill in 3-4 days.  Violently so." Iida took a deep breath, his eyes locked on Bakugou.  "And around the same time, our trajectory will carry us close enough to the star that…  Well, we will begin to um… burn. Or boil. Or bake. Or however one would describe it. I can't pinpoint it exactly, because all I have to go on are manual measurements of our position and course, but the radiation threat is indisputable.  The faulty magnetic field is what caused the loss of our propulsion capabilities in the first place, and if it fried the electronics, it isn't even worth mentioning what it is doing to our bodies."

 

"3 DAYS?  You've got to be fucking kidding me.  So soon? You probably… missed a decimal, or something..."  Bakugou's eyes had widened to the point of comedy, if Iida was in such a mood.

 

"Are you that eager to get another day or two with me, Bakugou?"  Bakugou's mouth fell open, flabbergasted that Iida was TEASING, his tone playful and light.  "I assumed you would have been thrilled if I told you we only had 15 more minutes before this entire hellish situation came to an end."

 

"I DON'T WANT TO FUCKING DIE!" Bakugou screamed, breaking his fingernails as he ripped at his restraints, launching himself at the other chair to grab Iida by the collar of his suit.  "THIS IS JUST A FUCKING PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED, SO SOLVE IT! There is no way we are fucking dying here!" Bakugou squeezed his eyes shut against the perfectly round drops floating serenely away from his eyes.  "Iida! Iida, you are the smartest person I know! I KNOW you can fix this! You just aren't trying hard enough, oh my god…" his words tapered off into wracking sobs, Iida watching quietly as Bakugou jerked at his suit, his legs bouncing around behind him, feet glancing off the instrumentation of the control panel, the windows, the ceiling.

 

Riding out the storm, brows furrowed and lips pulled into a concerned grimace, Iida knew he had nothing to offer to the other man, no words of comfort, nothing to give him at all except the truth.  Bakugou's wails eventually softened into quiet, hopeless gasps, his hands pulling him forward until his face was pressed to Iida's neck. Iida held still, hands gripping the armrests, unsure of what to do besides let this run its course.  "Aren't you afraid?" Bakugou finally whispered, his hand grasping roughly at the back of Iida's neck. "I'm fuckin' freaking out."

 

Iida thought for a moment, the feeling of Bakugou's fingers grasping desperately at his hair finally making up his mind as he lifted his arms, carefully wrapping them around Bakugou's shoulders and pulling him down into a gentle embrace.  "Yes. I am afraid."

 

Iida had wagered the touch was worth the risk, but was surprised as Bakugou relaxed into him, shoving his arms between Iida and the seat to lock himself in place, his breaths fast and shallow against Iida's cheek.  "I don't want to die like this, Iida. Suffering. Scared. So far from home that they won't know we're dead for another 15 years. Alone."

 

The silence stretched out for what seemed like an eternity, and when Iida felt the man squeeze him tighter, he began to rub slow circles on Bakugou's back, Bakugou's breaths beginning to hitch again.  "May I tell you about my family?" Iida finally offered, voice low and sweet, and he felt Bakugou nod. Sighing heavily, Iida felt the smaller man's arms tighten around him, and he began. "I have an older brother.  I've worshipped him since I was a small child. He was so brave, so confident, and seemed to always know exactly what to do. He wanted to follow in my Dad's footsteps, travel to the stars, be a hero, you know? And we all knew he would.  He was destined for great things. He was larger than life, really. Everyone that met him loved him, that sort of thing. And while it was hard to have an older brother like that, feeling like I was always skulking around in his shadow, I wouldn't have had it any other way."

 

Iida felt his own breath catch when Bakugou's nose pressed to his ear.  "You keep using past tense," he whispered. "Did he… pass away?" When Iida didn't respond, Bakugou pulled back to get a look at his face, the bottom half of his body lifting into the air.  "I'm… I'm sorry, Iida."

 

"No.  No, he is still very much alive," Iida stated, frowning at the way Bakugou's back was bowed up, his body practically making a 'U' in the air.  "Aren't you uncomfortable?"

 

Bakugou finally seemed to come back to himself, his cheeks flushing with heat as he frantically dug his arms out from underneath the other man.  "Oh my god, no, um, I'll just go back to my chair. I'm sorry, I don't know what I wa-"

 

"Do you have to?" Iida interrupted, pulling Bakugou closer.

 

Their eyes were so close they couldn't bring each other into focus, and Iida felt a warm exhale on his nose before Bakugou replied.  "I… I don't."

 

"Okay," Iida breathed, locking an arm around Bakugou's waist and grabbing his hand with the other.  "Here, hang on to this for a moment." Pushing Bakugou's fingers around the armrest, Iida let him go, leaning down to fuss with the leg belts, Bakugou watching carefully as he drifted up near Iida's head.  Iida seemed hellbent on making the loop larger, and once he was done, he turned a triumphant smile to Bakugou. "Here, look. Slide your legs in here."

 

Blinking slowly, Bakugou pulled himself over to do as instructed, wondering what the hell the two of them were even doing, but unwilling to creep back to his half of the cockpit, Iida's presence and body warmth doing more to keep him comfortable than his suit ever could.  He did his best to push his legs through the loop, hands grasping at the armrests as the foot he wasn't concentrating on floated up over his head. "GOD, this is fucking annoying," he finally grunted out, shoving his knee down to the strap so he could work his other leg into the restraint as well.  

 

Iida wisely held in his abrupt urge to giggle, keeping his face impassive as Bakugou wrangled himself into place.  "Okay, good, stay there," Iida instructed softly once Bakugou stopped wriggling around. Tugging at the belt at his waist, he made the loop much larger, then unhooked it, an end in each hand as he felt his ass lift from the chair, Bakugou's weight only effectively holding down the lower half of his legs.  "Come closer. Let me wrap this around your back."

 

"Iida…"  Bakugou's eyes narrowed, surveying their situation.  "What exactly are-"

 

"I could be wrong, but I think we'll sleep better this way," Iida offered, beckoning with the buckles in each hand.  "You don't have to stay, though. I apologize; I shouldn't have assumed you-"

 

"Oh my god SHUT UP," Bakugou mumbled, sliding his arms beneath Iida's torso again, gently this time.  With Bakugou's face pressed against his shoulder, Iida let a tiny smile curl the corner of his lips, happy for whatever comfort he could get.  He buckled them in, sure to leave a bit of room, and wrapped his arms back around Bakugou's shoulders, clenching his fingers into the fabric of his suit.

 

Both men determinedly NOT thinking about what they were doing, they simply breathed, the vibrations of each other's breaths strangely soothing in that alien space, so far from home.  Iida's eyes began to feel heavy, his mind sinking into sleep, refusing to touch on why they were there, why they were together, and what was, inevitably, waiting for them.  

 

"Tell me more about your brother when we wake up," Bakugou murmured, so quiet Iida barely understood in his state of half-consciousness.

 

"Yeah."

 

With his nose pressed into the skin of Iida's neck, Bakugou felt himself going under, the rise and fall of Iida's chest beneath him helping to keep the unnatural stillness of the cockpit, of their situation, at bay.



*



"Iida.  Iida-Sensei.  IIDA. Wake up, asshole."  Bakugou's voice slowly lifted Iida from his haze, his eyes opening to find Bakugou floating a few inches above him, arms crossed, face furious and strangely flushed, and Iida's left leg drifting off to the side of the chair.  "I didn't want to unbuckle us while you were still asleep, but holy shit, dude. You're like a furnace." Swinging his head to the side to avoid Iida's uncomprehending, wide-eyed stare, Bakugou sent himself into a spin, the strap still around his knees twisting awkwardly at his legs.  "FUUUUUCK, goddamn it, you're awake so…" Rough hands flipped open the buckle at their knees, Bakugou immediately dragging himself along the instrumentation to take up residence in his favorite corner of the cockpit, facing away from Iida.

 

Iida, now only held to his chair by the belt at his chest, let himself float there, slowly working himself into a conscious state, the crack in the visor seeming brighter than he remembered.  "Um… Good morning, Bakugou," he mumbled, impatiently sweeping the sweat from his brow while he rubbed at his face with his hands.

 

"MORNING?  Oh my god, you are seriously the most annoying asshole I've ever had the misfortune of meeting.  We are hurtling at one-fourth the speed of light into A FUCKING STAR, and you want to talk about 'mornings'.  Yes, Iida. Good morning. And day. And afternoon. And night. We are about to be incinerated. I could care less about the time of 'day'."

 

Suddenly much more awake, Iida flipped the buckle open at his chest, swinging himself around to head for the cabinet in the corner of the cockpit.  "For what it's worth, Bakugou, I was simply making an attempt at being polite." Coming to a stop with a slight 'thud' against the wall, Iida wrenched the door of the cabinet open, grabbing a bottle of water and throwing it at Bakugou.  "DRINK UP. We have PLENTY." Bakugou caught the bottle, hand freezing in place as Iida grabbed one for himself. When Iida's gaze swung back up, his head tilted, confused by the look on Bakugou's face. "WHAT? God DAMN, Bakugou! You have done nothing but provoke me since we climbed on board this flying fucking coffin!  Can you not give me a few minutes of peace, to wake up?? Do you hate me SO MUCH that you can't stomach the idea that I might be just as confused and frightened as you? JESUS!"

 

Shoving himself much too roughly, Iida bounced off the windows as he grasped for purchase, finally stopping himself with a hand clenched around the handle of a visor.  He began throwing them open, violently, the light blazing in blinding both of them as Iida continued, until all the windows were open, and they were both forced to swallow around the lumps in their throats at how large the star had become, taking up nearly every bit of window the small craft had.  "That's…" Iida finally whispered, turning his head to Bakugou, his eyes blown wide. "It appears my calculations were… optimistic."

 

Both became aware of the heat suddenly pouring in, and without needing to exchange a word, they frantically worked to get the visors lowered again, panting against them in the darkness.  "I thought it was really warm when I woke up, but I just figured it was you and your huge body," Bakugou muttered.

 

"I…  Let me crack this one over here, okay?  As you mentioned last night, it is best if we are able to see," Iida uttered, and Bakugou found himself appreciating how well Iida managed to school his voice into a semblance of calm.

 

Holding himself perfectly still, Bakugou waited without breathing until Iida managed to lift a visor, fussing with it until it provided the bare minimum of light needed.  Panting heavily, Iida sent himself drifting across the cabin, snagging the bottles they'd left spinning in their mad dash to get the windows shuttered. He passed one to Bakugou, and Bakugou responded by heading to 'his' corner, securing himself in place, unable to meet the frank, open gaze of his cabinmate.

 

"Iida-Sensei," he finally croaked.  "Tell me everything you know." Iida floated himself back to the cabinet, rummaging around until Bakugou thought he might actually combust from anger rather than the warmth that was slowly, but inexorably, pervading the cockpit.  "IIDA!"

 

"Dear god.  Please stop screaming.  You're giving me a headache.  And you say I'M annoying." Iida finally found what he was looking for, stretching out to loft a protein bar at Bakugou's face.  "I'll tell you what I know, if you will stop shouting. Deal?"

 

"The fuck ever," Bakugou growled, angry with himself that he WAS hungry, and that Iida had realized it before he had done so himself.

 

Snickering happily, Iida tore into the wrapper of his own bar, taking a large bite before stretching himself out as far as he could, feet bumping against the levers and dials of the control panel, his knuckles grazing the cockpit door.

 

"Why are you so goddamned MASSIVE, jackass?  Who even let you ON this mission? You are waaaay over the limit.  I bet your calorie intake is like… twice mine." Bakugou threw his wrapper at Iida, disappointed when it floated harmlessly past Iida's face.  And was also embarrassed the recoil from his actions sent him bouncing off the wall, suddenly grateful he'd locked himself in place.

 

Iida turned his head towards Bakugou gently, his body slowly swiveling to follow.  "You know… I could truly act like the asshole you keep accusing me of being, and not tell you a single thing.  Because you are being terribly rude, to me. Perhaps I'll keep my information to myself."

 

Snorting derisively, Bakugou waved a hand in the air, chomping down on his food.  "You wouldn't," he slurred, little pieces of his bar drifting out of his mouth.

 

"No.  I wouldn't.  Because I'm not an asshole, Bakugou."  Iida sighed, running a hand roughly through his hair.  "But I swear to god. I do not deserve to be treated like crap in the final moments of my life.  Please, try to have at least a modicum of respect for our situation."

 

Bakugou was suddenly brought back to reality as Iida's damp locks stayed flopped back over his head, rather than falling back down where they had been.  Sweaty. Shifting uncomfortably in his suit, Bakugou took another bite, finally offering Iida a nod. "Uh, fine then. Just… tell me what you know."

 

Iida gave him a half-smile, dragging himself over to his chair, fumbling with the desk drawer as his feet floated up behind him.  "Right. So, let me see…" Iida yanked himself to the seat, tightening the strap over his waist as his fingers nimbly flipped through his notes.

 

"Approximately 40 hours ago, our colony ship was attacked.  As far as I know, there were 33 of us 'awake', tending to duties around the vessel.  The ship's self-defense systems were activated, and it held for quite a while, my estimation is about 25-30 minutes, the systems on board sending everyone into 'emergency awareness', which means the computer was attempting to wake all passengers as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, that process takes at least 2 hours. So those of us already up and around, you and I included, were really the only ones who actually had any real opportunity to escape." Iida took a deep breath, his eyes dark as he directed a heavy gaze at his companion.  "There were approximately 30,000 people onboard. You were unconscious when I found you in the hangar, and I dragged you to this pod. I saw no other living beings. I'm sure there were others, as there were already pods missing, but…"

 

Iida and Bakugou swallowed heavily, in unison.  "Iida…"

 

"We jettisoned as normal, and I was swinging the craft around our host planet for a gravity assist when um…"  Iida's slow breath did not cover up the trembling in his voice, and Bakugou found himself breaking out in goosebumps, despite the sweat trickling over his body.  "Bakugou… The colony ship detonated. It was there one minute, the next was an explosion that blinded me. And when I could finally see… it was gone."

 

Speechless for once, Bakugou ignored the moisture smarting at the corner of his eyes and nodded, urging his cabinmate to continue.

 

"So.  Returning to the ship for either shelter or provisions is impossible, as it… no longer exists.  And as is likely obvious, no rescue will be forthcoming." Clearing his throat, Iida pressed on.  "It is my belief that the blast damaged this pod's magnetic shielding. I steered us in a course with the intention of leaving the solar system, hoping we could light-warp somewhere safe.  But the controls stopped responding, and I have… basically fired us, accidentally, into the star. My goal was to use our host planet's gravity to slingshot us out of here, but unable to steer after the onboards were fried, we… well, I couldn't have aimed us better if I tried, it seems."  Chuckling humorlessly, Iida stared at the visors, blank eyes weighing the impact of what he had done.

 

"You saved me," Bakugou whispered, his mind stuttering over what he'd been told.

 

A manic laugh escaped Iida's chest, his eyes finding Bakugou's over his notebook.  "I prolonged and worsened your death, Bakugou. I am truly, deeply sorry."

 

Heavy, unpleasant silence fell over the cabin, neither man knowing what to say.  Tired of looking over his shoulder, Bakugou released his suit from it's clasp and shoved himself to the chair, tossing on his own lap belt before raising his eyes back to Iida.  "Okay. So what do you know about the ship, or I mean, the pod, and our situation?"

 

"Right."  Iida leaned back, sending his notebook twirling into the air with a careful flick of his wrist, watching it raptly until it bounced off the ceiling, momentum carrying it to the corner where Bakugou usually hid.  "My first concern was oxygen, as the scrubbers are down. Turns out, there's about 12 days worth here, even without recycling."

 

Bakugou decided silence was the best way to keep his companion talking, and waited patiently as Iida sighed, tugging at the collar of his suit.  "Next concern, water. Which… I've already discussed. Food was a non-issue, as we have enough to get by for far longer than the water or oxygen would hold out."

 

A sudden thought seared through Bakugou's brain.  "Wait, so… How long was I out? How long have we been here?  When did you…" Trailing off desperately, Bakugou began to feel guilt on top of the anger and hopelessness already crowding his brain.

 

A warm smile painted Iida's face, and Bakugou felt his mouth drop open, senses shoveling everything to him as quickly as they could.  Iida looked… angelic, and while he recognized he was likely projecting, Bakugou couldn't help but think that maybe if he had to die, it wasn't the worst thing in the world to do it with this guy. 

 

"You were starting to stir about an hour after I realized I could no longer control the craft.  Which is when I gave you the basic rundown of our situation. I wasn't sure how to tell you… more."  Audibly swallowing, Iida shot a guilty glance to his bewildered comrade. "I kept thinking 'I can sort this.  I can figure this out.' So I kept at it, and you were… um… eager for me to do so, and I ran into dead end after dead end, and…"

 

When Iida fell silent, Bakugou stretched himself out, hand grasping.  Iida stared at it, not comprehending, and Bakugou clicked his tongue, his fingers making insistent 'grabby' motions in the air.  "Give me your HAND, asshole! We're dying together, and I'm fucking terrified, and there's no one around to see me act like a baby except for you.  And you…" As Iida frowned, clearly still not understanding, Bakugou leaned forward as far as he could, his fingertips brushing over the thigh of Iida's suit.  "You won't judge me," he breathed.

 

"You want me to hold your hand?" Iida clipped, confused, head tilted, mind still stuck on all the things he'd done wrong, all the things he couldn't manage to solve, and was frankly baffled by Bakugou's sudden shifts in mood.  Thoughts whirring, he made no move to reach out, desperately trying to sort what it is his cabinmate was asking of him, nearly biting his tongue when Bakugou set himself free from his chair's belt, guiding himself a little too eagerly to Iida as his hands grasped Iida's shoulders, his feet bouncing off the visors past him before finally getting his body to drift, quietly, in front of Iida.

 

"You saved me."

 

"I made things worse," Iida groaned, stubbornly closing his eyes and turning his face from the man now floating inches from his face.

 

"Iida."  When Iida refused to meet his gaze, Bakugou grabbed his chin, pulling it to him as he felt his body respond to the impetus, floating softly to the side.  Quiet once more fell over the space, Bakugou noticing that he felt sticky and uncomfortable, the heat beginning to reach levels that were decidedly… unpleasant, and he wiped his hair from his forehead with his free hand, eyes still trained on Iida.  "Thank you."

 

Iida finally dragged his eyes up, meeting Bakugou's glance.  "There is no need to thank me. I simply did what anyone would.  And managed to make the end of your life even worse than it needed to be."

 

"That's not fair.  You did what a… What a hero would do.  It wasn't your fault things turned out the way they did."

 

"I hardly think my actions could be construed as her-"

 

Dragging himself in by the hand on Iida's chin, Bakugou shoved his nose against Iida's cheek, mouth at his ear.  "Stop it. Iida. You did well. You did everything you could. Yeah, so we're gonna die. It isn't your fault."

 

Iida froze, his body rigid, and Bakugou pulled back in time to watch in fascination as a tear slid from Iida's eye, forming a perfect sphere and hovering between them.  

 

"Iida?"  Bakugou reached instinctively for Iida, hand pausing briefly as he wrestled his ingrained social conventions to the ground, and once he took a deep breath, wiped the residual moisture from Iida's cheek.  "Why are you crying?"

 

"I couldn't save you.  I couldn't save you, Bakugou."  Iida's voice was a riptide, tugging insistently at both of them, and Bakugou found himself gasping at the strength of it, shoving forcefully away.

 

"Iida, you never had to do any…"  Noticing the blank look in the dark-haired man's eyes, Bakugou decided to stop talking, floating softly to 'his' corner.  He shot a glance over his shoulder, Iida still unmoving, and Bakugou snagged the notebook bumping softly against the defunct emergency light.



I can more than double Bakugou's supplies if I forgo water and food.  Still, I am using up valuable oxygen… I have been unable to determine a way to eliminate myself from this space without causing him more trouble than I would be alive…  If there were even a forebay, some way to separate myself from his air supply… A fetid, rotting body will suck up oxygen he will need to survive. So. Not an option.

 

And how quickly are we approaching MidoriyaX9?  I have no way to repair the radiation shield, nor a way to deflect us from a descent into the star itself.  With any luck, I have slung us past its gravitational hold. My observations are ambiguous, but certainly not encouraging.  It is possible that if he wore my suit, as well as his own, and shielded his head… I still fear the radiation would overwhelm him at some point before the craft could escape the influence of the star.

 

Well, after calculating, and checking, and rechecking…  even if I had managed to send us on a path that would eventually escape MX9's gravity, it wouldn't be quickly enough to save us from the radiation.  I could, in theory, use my own body as a shield for him, but our relationship is proving to be tenuous at best, and he would likely refuse. And I am becoming uncertain I've thrown us free of the star at all…  Its approach is terrifying. It's all I can see. All this work, FUSSING, and ineffective fluttering, and I am truly but a speck. My death is so utter, so unambiguous, so brutal, and completely inexorable. And gods above, it's so beautiful.  I wish I could tell Tensei how my heart is swelling with pride, even though fear is choking back my breath.



"IIDA, WHAT THE FUCK!" Bakugou hollered, swinging himself around so swiftly he did an inadvertent pirouette, waiting until he managed to circle back around to throw the notebook at his cabinmate's head. Unsurprisingly, he missed, the ledger bouncing off the dead instrument panel and slapping against the window visor while Iida turned to him with mouth hanging open, dumbstruck.  "You were trying to figure out how to k-kill yourself so you DIDN'T USE UP MY OXYGEN?? What gives me any more right to it than you? Are you INSANE? Just how many times do you have to save my life to feel like you've earned a right to be alive, yourself??"

 

Iida didn't respond, turning his face away, his hands clenching into the rough material of his pants.

 

"Un-fucking-believable."  A bone-deep sigh shuddered from Bakugou's chest.  "Okay, so tell me this. How much protection are these suits giving us, as far as radiation?  I understand why we can't wear the helmets, but… Honestly, I feel like I'm melting in this damned thing."

 

Bakugou's eyes were drawn back to his companion from his hands uselessly plucking at his collar and sleeves, a tiny, humorless laugh escaping Iida's throat.  "It probably doesn't matter, at this point. We'll be broiled alive before the radiation has an opportunity to kill us. However, as you are well aware, if you remove your suit, we'll have to deal with… bodily secretions.  The suit takes care of that quite neatly for us. I fear things would grow even more unpleasant, in here, with globs of urine floating around. Or worse."

 

Despite himself, Bakugou felt laughter bubbling from his throat, and he gave himself over to it, tossing back his head and cackling, sending himself gently spinning until his feet kicked the ceiling.  "You're not wrong," he finally chuckled, stabilizing himself with hands outstretched. "Okay. So, what's it like being cooked?"

 

Iida finally turned to Bakugou, his expression tired.  "It is a terrible way to die. The only upside is that it is likely faster than dying of radiation poisoning.  But only just. Bakugou… I will admit I'm… I'm frightened."

 

Not even really understanding why, just knowing he needed to, Bakugou pushed himself to Iida, wrapping his arms around the larger man's shoulders in an awkward embrace, locking his feet beneath the desk drawer.  "Knowing it's coming makes it so much worse, doesn't it," he eventually mumbled, Iida's arms reaching up to return the hug. "I can say for sure that this was never how I imagined my life ending. I always thought I'd go out in a blaze of glory or something, fighting, or maybe growing old with a wife and family by my side-" Bakugou's throat seized up suddenly, tears floating into the space by Iida's ear.  "This is fucking horrible," he sobbed, feeling Iida trembling with his own weeping, and they tightened their arms around each other, grateful for the solid presence of the other as they cried.

 

Neither had any idea how long they stayed like that, wearing themselves out until there were no more tears to cry, but gradually, they both noticed the heat sticking the sides of their faces together with sweat and let loose of each other, Bakugou suddenly embarrassed by his show of weakness.  "Jesus…" he grumbled, quickly returning to his corner. "I can't believe I'm being such a baby about this whole thing." Twisting a defunct knob, Bakugou found himself satisfied with the mechanical clicking sounds, turning it back and forth just to hear it. "So much for facing my death with dignity."

 

Iida had unstrapped himself to retrieve his notebook and was settling himself back into his chair when he spoke.  "There is bravery in admitting your fear," he murmured, clipping the ledger to the desk and pulling a pen from the drawer.  "True strength is not just muscles and brute force. To be able to look upon yourself and your weaknesses takes more courage than most realize."  Bakugou didn't reply, and Iida bent himself down to begin writing, the scritching sounds somehow comforting to Bakugou, despite his earlier annoyance.

 

Bakugou allowed himself to float freely, lightly bumping off walls and ceiling and floor as he closed his eyes and let the noise wash over him, finding it a useful distraction from the heat.  At some point he drifted into a dreamless sleep, startling awake when Iida called his name.

 

"Bakugou?"

 

"You should call me Katsuki," he mumbled, groggy, and opened his eyes.  "We're dying together, after all. Doesn't get much more 'intimate' than that."

 

Ignoring Bakugou's defeated words, Iida continued.  "I ah… I have a plan, if you would like to hear it."

 

Bakugou was instantly at full attention, yanking himself down to his chair.  "You figured something out?? Oh holy shit, Iida, that's fantastic!" His smile could have lit up a small planet, but it quickly fell at the haunted look in Iida's eyes.  "Wait… What do you mean, a plan?"

 

Iida's jaw hardened, a look of dogged determination sharpening his features.  "A plan for how to die on our terms. Quickly and... relatively... painlessly."

 

"Uh."  Bakugou noticed for the first time that Iida looked like he'd just stepped out of a shower, hair soaked, skin damp with beads of sweat occasionally breaking free to drift in the space around him, and realized he probably looked the same way.  Brushing a hand over his forehead, he stared, unblinking, at the wobbly drops now stuck to his hand. "I guess… you'd better tell me, then." Glancing back to Iida, his eyes brightened slightly. "Oh, did you finally find the pills?"

 

Iida shook his head, turning himself slightly to face Bakugou.  "No. The only bottle I was able to locate was empty, as I mentioned when you came to."

 

"You did say that, didn't you.  At the time, I wasn't really sure why you pointed it out.  Had no idea just how dire the situation was, at that point."  Sighing heavily, Bakugou flopped back into the chair, lightly securing the buckle at his chest so he didn't float off.  "Okay, then. Let me hear it."

 

"It's fairly straightforward; It occurred to me as soon as I realized we were… in an impossible situation.  But it would take agreement from both of us, and I won't do anything you are not willing to do."

 

Bakugou waved a restless hand in Iida's direction.  "Yeah, yeah. Just tell me. We can decide together."

 

Wiping the sweat beading in his eyebrows, Iida leaned towards Bakugou slightly, pointing behind them at the door.  "We just… open the airlock."

 

Bakugou blinked stupidly, staring at Iida in confusion.  "But then we won't be able to breathe."

 

Iida laughed, he LAUGHED, and shook his head, a small smile staying put on his face even as he sighed.  "Precisely. Better than burning alive, wouldn't you agree?"

 

Grim understanding finally settled over Bakugou, and he felt his nerves prickling with fear.  "I uh… I guess you're right." He turned back to look at the door. "But how do we open it? The controls are fried."

 

Iida undid his restraint, gently pushing himself to the door and grabbing the large wheel in the center.  "It can be opened manually. We would just have to turn this wheel."

 

"HOLY SHIT WAIT, DON'T DO IT YET!" Bakugo boomed, wrestling with the strap at his chest.  "I'm not ready!"

 

Removing his hands from the wheel as if they were burned, Iida held them out in front of himself, his face apologetic.  "Of course not! Bakugou, I'm sorry I frightened you. As I said, I will do nothing without your express agreement."

 

Bakugou had flung himself so roughly from the chair in his haste to get out that he was now slamming into the visors, ricocheting off of them and barreling towards Iida with a look of pure panic twisting his features.  "Oh my god, I thought you were just gonna…" Taking enormous, choking breaths, Bakugou willed himself to calm down, Iida grabbing him by the shoulders.

 

"I didn't mean to distress you," Iida murmured, squeezing lightly on Bakugou's suit.  "If we do this, it will be together. Alright?"

 

Nodding sheepishly, Bakugou averted his eyes, Iida eventually propelling himself back to his chair.  "I have a bit more writing I'd like to do beforehand. That is, if you agree. If not, we proceed on along our current… course of action."

 

Bakugou stuck out an arm, shoving himself to the cabinet.  "Writing? I don't mean to be an asshole, but why? It's not like anyone will ever see it."

 

"I am aware of that," Iida replied, voice soft.  "It is simply to help me order my thoughts."

 

"Huh."  Bakugou rummaged around until he found a packet of something gooey, the word 'strawberry' emblazoned across the side.  Treat in hand, he headed back to his chair. "Can I see what you've written?"

 

Iida paused, pen hesitating above the paper.  "I… Yes, you may. It is… quite personal. But I intended to ask you if you would like to write anything, as well.  Let me finish my thoughts, if you wouldn't mind."

 

"No problem.  Do whatever you have to."  Bakugou squeezed some of the goop into his mouth, watching silently as Iida wrote.  Bakugou was idly spinning the empty packet in the air by the time Iida sat back, a slow breath issuing from his chest.

 

"I suppose that's it, then."  Unclipping the book, he passed it to Bakugou, face impassive.  "So, are we doing this?"

 

Bakugou reached out, snagging the ledger.  "I think… it's the lesser of the available evils, isn't it."  Iida knew he wasn't looking for a response, so he remained quiet as Bakugou began to read.



Tensei-

 

I write this to you with the certainty you will never see it, but I am compelled in my heart to do so anyways, allowing myself to imagine these words could appear to you in a dream or through some other entirely unscientific means.  It is surprisingly easy to believe in such things, face to face with my own death.  

 

I couldn't save you, and I am deeply, terribly sorry.  I began this journey as a tribute to your bravery, wanting to live your dream for you, in ways you no longer could, and I am ashamed to share with you that I've failed at that, as well.  As it turns out, I am unable to even save myself.

 

I will do my best to meet my end with courage, knowing it's all I have to offer you, so far away.  I hope you would be proud of me, somehow. For doing what I have to, and for seeing the beauty in the sheer, terrifying power of the stars.  The poetry in how little my struggles really matter compared to the large-scale workings of the greater universe. I love you, Tensei. Know that you were in my heart and thoughts until the very last.

 

Tenya



Bakugou felt tears he didn't know he was shedding loose themselves from his eyelashes, and he held out an impatient hand to Iida, gesturing at the pen.  Iida offered it in silence, and Bakugou thought for a moment before adding his own words.



Mom,

 

You'll never believe this.  I'm going to die trapped in a glorified tin can with a dude I barely know.  But you know? I can think of worse things. Like your cooking. Heh, or that time you caught me smoking and damn near took off my head with that backhand.

 

We're gonna be in control til the very end, though.  We will die like men, Mom. I won't try to tell you I'm not scared, but it's nice to not be alone.  I wish I'd gotten to see you one last time.

 

I hope you grow old, wrinkly, hideous and happy.  Don't forget me.

 

Love, Katsuki



Leaning over, Bakugou held the notebook and pen out, Iida taking it with almost reverent movements, clipping it open with their letters facing up.  Neither man spoke for several minutes, Iida waiting patiently for Bakugou's choice, and Bakugou screwing up the courage to make the decision.

 

"So uh.  What happens, when we do this?  Like, are we gonna get sucked out of here?" he finally ventured, Iida startling slightly at his voice.

 

"Oh.  Right.  Um… I guess we can decide, really.  Or at least, I think so. All we really need to do is breach the seal.  But if we are physically able, I suppose we could always open the door the whole way.  What would you prefer?" An otherworldly calm had seemed to settle over Iida, and Bakugou was grateful, as it helped him quell the nausea beginning to stir in his gut.

 

Turning his face to the door, Bakugou thought for a moment.  "I think I'd rather us stay in here. Um. Together. If that's okay," he finally mumbled.

 

"It is."  Iida unstrapped himself for what would likely be the last time, floating gently to Bakugou.  "So? Shall we do this?"

 

Bakugou found his voice caught in this throat, so he gave Iida a brisk nod instead, releasing his own restraint.  The two made their way to the door, arranging themselves on either side of the wheel, each with a hand grasped tightly on it and the other braced against the door jam.  "This might be a bit… difficult at first," Iida breathed, concerned with being able to physically move the wheel without gravity to hold them in place.

 

Nodding again, Bakugou tensed his fingers on the metal.  "So, should we do a countdown or something?"

 

Iida chuckled, and Bakugou found the sound utterly beautiful.  "We can do that. On three, then?"

 

"Okay."  Bakugou could feel moisture smarting in his eyes, and did his best to blink it back, taking a deep breath.  "Iida… I'm afraid."

 

"It's going to be okay.  You don't have to be afraid anymore.  It'll be over before we know it."

 

Not for the first time during their hellish time spent together, Bakugou thought Iida looked like an angel, and he felt his body relax, the end finally here, and Bakugou was going to meet it with eyes open.  "Thank you, Iida. For everything."

 

Iida smiled, reaching down to shake Bakugou's hand, and Bakugou laughed, returning the gesture.  "Thank you, Bakugou. It is… good to not be alone."

 

They fell silent, bracing themselves as best they could before their eyes swung back to each other.  Each giving the other a swift nod, they began to count, and on three, both pulled as hard as they could, nervous breaths puffing their cheeks when they felt the wheel finally give.

 

Bakugou had no idea what sort of look he had on his face, but Iida's eyes were wild, and they continued to crank, a slight hissing sound beginning somewhere near Bakugou's head.  "It's working," he whispered, and Iida nodded.

 

Suddenly the hissing became a piercing, screaming whoosh, the sheer force of the air moving crushing them to the door, and they both yanked their hands from the wheel, afraid to be sucked out into the emptiness of space, away from each other.

 

"IT'S SO LOUD!!" Bakugou shrieked, reaching blindly for Iida's hand.

 

"IT WON'T BE FOR LONG," Iida hollered back, gripping Bakugou's fingers as hard as he could.

 

It was only a minute or two, but it felt like an eon, the crush of air pressure finally relenting, and they floated from the door.  Bakugou realized he could no longer pull in a breath, and he panicked, eyes flying to Iida. Iida was relaxed, the feeling of knowing it was over washing over him like relief, and Bakugou once more thanked whatever gods there were that he was here with this man, at the very end.  "Iida," he attempted to say, but no sound came out, and Bakugou realized if there was no air to breathe, there was no longer anything to carry sound waves. Darkness was starting to creep in from the corners of his vision, and he watched Iida hungrily, knowing in his last moments that the other man's presence was the only thing keeping him sane.

 

Suddenly, Iida turned his body to Bakugou, squeezing his hand, and an enormous smile spread over his face.  Bakugou could barely see it at this point, but he watched carefully as Iida's lips formed two words.

 

"Goodbye, Katsuki."

 

And everything went black.