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(some days) it's a lifetime

Chapter Text

For what seemed like the first time in his life, Katsuki had no idea where he was headed; what direction to turn so he could end up in a location at least slightly different than his current one or what was to come around the corner for him to stumble over next. 

Well - excusing the obvious drivers stopping by him to offer a ride every twenty minutes or so; rambling on about how it wasn’t safe for a guy like himself to be in the middle of nowhere with little to no supplies. Katsuki wasn’t stupid. Excusing the angry phone calls no doubt blowing up his phone, thats battery had died long before he had reached this part of wherever the hell he was. 

But that much was obvious. 

What he had no clue about was why his feet refused to stop moving, dragging against the hot dirt along the side of the road lazily and throbbing from what had to be hours of walking. He had thought about taking a break, but couldn’t bring himself to pause for more than a second, concerned that his legs would snap from the sudden lack of movement or he would forget the now mind numbing pattern of placing one foot in front of the other. 

There was no map for him to follow, neither physical nor digital due to his phone’s current uselessness. It was shattered, having been dropped or rather thrown at walls and floors more times than he could be fucked to count. His mother scolded him for it - when didn't she? Reminding him to put the case on each time she set eyes on the thing, but maybe Katsuki liked it that way. The phone was scorching hot in his hand due to hours of being under the Sun, which had since began to set, his grip firm around it as if he could charge the battery from sheer force and strength. 

Street signs were usually Katsuki’s best friend in these situations, but the words all melted and mixed together to form nonsense, nonsense and nothing else. They may as well have been in an entirely different language, because they couldn’t have meant less to him.

It was nearing the end of July, and Katsuki couldn’t recall a single Summer he’d spent like this, hopelessly wandering along the side of the road and desperate for it to just give in under him and swallow him whole. His lungs breathed in air too unfamiliar and heavy, practically crying in protest as he proceeded to take two steps forward at a time. 

The road he had to have been wandering on for hours now was bland, cracked and dry and in need of serious repair. There were mountains upon mountains of land on either side of the road, dried out and the last thing anyone would want to buy if they had the money to buy land in the first place. Barbed wire fences lined the path he swayed on, separated by poles of old worn down wood. Katsuki didn’t stop to explore, because there was nothing to look at, just dull and utterly dead grass that he kicked at when it popped up in his way. 

It was obvious there sat a town up ahead, but it may as well have been the size of a dust particle, doing nothing to ease the pain in his calves or wipe away the sweat on his upper lip. 

He didn’t want to be anywhere near where he was, but his brain wasn’t able to yearn for any other destination than nowhere. He didn’t want to go home, he didn’t want to go anywhere. Too many people crammed into one space despite being worlds apart, too many knowing and concerned looks waiting for him back home. The thought made his stomach churn; or maybe he was just hungry. 

His back was covered in sweat, but he refused to risk peeling off his shirt and attracting any horny hookers or kidnappers like moths to a flame. 

The backpack that Katsuki had shoved any and all miscellaneous objects that could be used for general survival in knocked repeatedly against his ass each time he took a step, and he willed himself to stay calm and not just toss it to the side along with all the dead grass and dirt. 

He was beyond tired, sleep deprived due to effortlessly staying up for days upon days before leaving. It hadn’t taken long to pack what could be useful for however long he would be gone though. 

He went hiking a fuckton, some of his earliest memories spent proudly marching under the silhouetted leaves of trees that had once seemed taller than skyscrapers with his Dad. Katsuki could practically grab his bag and go, though he regretted not packing more water. 

Katsuki had taken the train at first, when the sun was still high in the sky and people still hung around on the streets they’d spent their whole lives clinging to. He had gotten off at the very last stop before catching another train, and tried his best not to suffocate while pressed to so many strangers sides, fronts, and backs in the latter half of July; sweat already trickling down his neck despite the subtle cool breeze of the air conditioning installed inside. Fucking useless.

And after, when his legs were still relatively full of energy and his mind was still the opposite, there was not a lack of cars that slowed to his speed while questioning him as if it was their business. 

 

“Where are you headed?” 

 

“What’s a guy like you doing all alone out here?” 

 

“Can I help you out man?” 

 

Katsuki didn’t hesitate in the slightest before rejecting the extras, too off put by the idea of getting into a strangers car with no control of the outcome to even momentarily consider it. He was already on the verge of falling asleep or passing out if he stopped moving for even a second, and combined with how numb and rusty his body felt, did not make him entirely capable of taking on a middle aged man built like a tank if he tried anything funny. That wouldn’t stop him from trying, but even Katsuki knew his very difficult to reach limits. 

If he did get in, then the “It sure is risky to get in a stranger's car…” would come, the “Sorry, just going to take a short cut.” ’ not too far behind. Then, before he could so much as lift a hand, he would be dead. No fucking thank you. 

One of them had been a nice looking old lady, her car clean and her tone soft and gentle, and Katsuki could lie and say that her offer wasn’t slightly tempting, but he was anything but a liar. After split second hesitation, Katsuki told her to fuck off, to shove her offer right up her wealthy ass and get lost. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with women that smelled of dust and stale candy at the moment, wasn’t sure if he ever would be.

One car in particular stayed in his mind though, catching his eye even from beyond the horizon and sticking out like a sore thumb in comparison to the other cars he’d seen pass him occasionally. It had been a bright tacky orange, covered in stickers and rust and was obviously handed down by someone, weather damage having faded the color in some of the stickers and the head of the car after no doubt decades of use. 

Katsuki scowled upon its arrival, not bothering to hold back his fiery glare once the driver slowly rolled down his window to peer up at him through a pair of ugly ass shades. Even from outside the car, Katsuki could hear how blaringly loud the music had been, and he couldn’t have been more pissed off. The radio had been turned down since the window had opened, but the soft upbeat song was enough to turn Katsuki’s headache into a migraine. 

“Sup dude!” The driver called out to him, his voice nasally and tone cheerful. Katsuki hadn’t stopped walking, and didn’t plan on it anytime soon, so the car rolled quietly at his pace. “Are you-”

“Don’t waste your fucking time, I’m not getting in your shitty car.” He huffed, tugging on his backpack straps stubbornly. 

The driver raised an eyebrow, his smile faltering slightly before he spoke up again. “It’s really no problem man, I promise. You just look worn out and honestly we’re kinda concerned.” He insisted, removing one hand off the wheel to push his shades into his hair lazily. 

He was lanky, wearing a loose fitting sleeveless shirt that suited the heat much more than the all black outfit Katsuki was wearing. His black straggly hair was loosely tied in a poor excuse of a pony tail to presumably keep the Summer heat off of his neck, and his eyes were focused on Katsuki - concern gracing his features true to his words.
“Piss off! I don’t need any fucking sympathy!” Katsuki snapped his head to look at the man. From somewhere inside the car, there was a snort, and the man turned to smack at the offender in a split second, not wasting anymore time before gazing back at Katsuki once more. Katsuki gazed right back. 

It was hard to see anything inside of the car, but he could spot the guy in the passenger seat as clear as day, his obnoxiously bright yellow hair with some shitty black smudge sticking out oddly. Katsuki’s frown did not let up - no matter how tempting it was to laugh in the Pikachu lookalike’s face at his appearance that practically screamed ‘attention whore’. 

If he wouldn’t get in a car with an old lady who looked like he could flick her on the forehead and she would die from pure shock there was no reason for him to get in a car full of twinks that looked to be around his age, so he didn’t. 

He had just met eyes with some spikey haired asshole in the backseat when the driver spoke again, turning up the music halfway through his sentence and unintentionally cutting himself off. 

“Suit yourself, dude!”
And then he was gone. 

They were gone. 

Whatever.

☀︎

 

Katsuki came across a 7/11. 

It was practically run down, small and shitty and suitable for the area that would never get any business, just wandering idiots such as himself and hurried families stopping for gas during their roadtrip to who knows where. The gas prices that were usually displayed on an alarm clock look-alike screen were dead out of power, and Katsuki’s eyes strained to see if there was even a worker inside. 

The occasional car that passed him every half an hour had ceased to be, the distant roar of an engine replaced by dull quiet only broken by cicada’s repetitive songs and the crunch of stones and dead grass under Katsuki’s boots. 

The broken down edge of the road that crumbled into dirt and land had now shifted into a curb with weeds growing through the cracks in the concrete, desperate for anything to cling onto so that they could sprout in the dire July weather conditions. 

The once lifeless and utterly empty grassland now had trees blanketing it’s surface, the only shade to be offered in the bleak area that Katsuki refused to indulge in. It was getting late anyway. 

Katsuki huffed in relief that some sort of civilization seemed to be closer than he thought. He dragged his feet along the ground persistently, the sooner he got under air conditioning the better. 

It was still shitty, a shitty little store for a shitty little town. Katsuki’s legs throbbed in pain, and his feet had gone numb long ago. 

The store sat on the side of the road as a gift from the gods that with aching limbs and a killer migraine Katsuki was almost tempted to thank them for. Almost. 

Though he wasn’t sure he was that far gone yet.

He still didn’t know why exactly he had left that morning, his fingertips just an inch off of reaching a suitable answer that didn’t make him look like some infuriating mix of a coward and an asshole. Tucking the need for reasoning away in the back of his mind seemed to be the best option, at least temporarily.
Before pulling open the heavy glass door that was covered in obnoxious posters and advertisements, he wiped his hands on his baggy pants, stuffing his phone into his pocket hurriedly. 

The air that radiated throughout the space was heavenly, sending a shiver down his spine and practically freezing the sweat on the back of his neck in place.

The aisles were stocked with snacks, the most colour shoved into a single place that Katsuki had seen in hours, a vast difference compared to the bland yellows and browns of the land outside. 

The worker behind the register didn’t even gaze in his direction, too busy on her phone to pay him any mind. Good. He didn’t need anymore judgmental looks or confusion and concern expressed in lingering stares that day. 

Katsuki stumbled his way through the convenience store, his backpack weighing down his shoulders and tugging at his skin like sandpaper. Still, he kept it on his back.

The blonde stared at his own reflection in the ice cream freezer for what had to be at least five minutes; debating whether to simply stick his head inside or just climb on in, fall into a coma to be woken up in another life time that didn’t involve him reaching at straws for some kind of entertainment and satisfaction. 

His hair was stuck to his forehead with sweat, so he shoved a hand through it and huffed, wondering why he had even walked in when he had little to no money in his possessions. 

The phone in his pocket felt as if it weighed a ton, and he snatched it out, the shattered screen reflecting his own image at him in a way that distorted his features. Katsuki gripped it tighter, willing himself to not throw it down and risk it falling to pieces that it was already so close to becoming. 

Disturbing Katsuki’s train of thought, the door to the convenience store swung right open, multiple voices entering the space and bouncing off of the walls as soon as it did. 

Katsuki had to do a double take, because one; for being in the middle of goddamn nowhere, this 7/11 sure did get a lot of business. First him, now a whole ass group of people? Damn, the cashier was going to be rolling in bills. 

And two; at least one of those voices sounded familiar, and Katsuki wasn’t fucking dumb and didn’t have short term memory loss, he knew exactly where he recognised it from. 

He stuffed his phone back into his pocket, hunching up his shoulders and stalking up the aisle, fully prepared to leave without interacting with the idiots. 

“Hey, aren’t you the guy who was on the side of the road?” 

Fuck.
Katsuki snapped his attention to the boy he recognised from the passenger seat of the last car that had offered to drive him standing at the other end of the aisle. 

The idiot was practically in all denim, his cuffed jeans adorned in miscellaneous patches and random rips matching the denim of his jacket that looked to be a size too big for his twink-like figure. He looked like a boy band rip-off, and it pissed Katsuki off. 

“Fuck off.” He snarled. 

The guy didn’t fuck off, choosing to ignore his vulgar remark as he slowly made his way closer to Katsuki, his worn out mustard converse sliding against the clean floor with little hesitation. 

“How the hell did you manage to beat us here?!” The blonde questioned, his lips pulled into a confused pout as if Katsuki had personally offended him. The guy was shorter than he had appeared in the car, and upon closer inspection, the black streak in his hair was, in fact, a lightning bolt. Or at least a college students shitty DIY attempt at a lightning bolt. At a second thought, shitty didn’t quite cut it. 

Katsuki was about to explode at the Pikachu-lookalike for attempting to get into a strangers’ business before a redhead with comically unnatural spiked hair interrupted, placing his hand on the bottle blonde’s shoulder with a mischievous smile.
“Probably because you wanted to get out of the car and look for rocks again, dude.” He pointed out, his smile unfaltering even as the blonde snapped his head and tried to glare at his friend, appearing more constipated than anything.
“Hey! You wanted to as well!”
“Well... yeah I guess you’re right-”

Katsuki had already had enough of listening to the conversation, so he simply turned on his heels and left the aisle, but not before the two had noticed his absence and called after him.
“Hey, you’re just gonna ignore me?? I offered you a ride y’know!” The blonde protested, even though he was very much not the one who had offered him a ride, and even if he had been, Katsuki still wouldn’t have given him the time of day. 

Due to the commotion, the cashier now had her eyes on the three, an eyebrow quirked in disapproval. 

“And?! That doesn’t mean I owe you a fucking conversation, dumbass!”
The blonde struggled to find a response to that, because they both knew Katsuki was right, of course he fucking was. He stood, sputtering over his next words and repeatedly opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water. 

All the haziness in Katsuki’s vision and his throbbing head had seemingly healed in an instant, washed out the second the strangers had set foot in his personal space. 

“Y’know I haven’t even known you that long, so it’s pretty amazing that I can already tell your personality is less impressive than crap steeped in sewage.” The blonde retorted, his eyes closed and his shoulder lifted in a casual half shrug. 

Katsuki’s blood boiled at the smug tone in the strangers voice, the satisfied smirk that enveloped his face at finally finding something to say. What kind of shitty vocabulary was that? 

Fuck his bruised knuckles, fuck his aching limbs and inability to move. Katsuki had no problem punching a stranger, and especially not one that deserved it. 

His patience had already snapped as fast as their two other friends made their way over to peer at the commotion.
“The hell did you just say? I’ll fucking kill you!” Katsuki practically screamed, everything that he had heard all day seeming like absolutely nothing in comparison to his volume. 

He’d had years of practice, perfecting his pitch so that it wouldn’t pick up and make him sound pathetic, killing his throat for the simple satisfaction of standing on equal grounds as his mother. She could scream, yell at him for hours, but so could he. 

And after, when he had expected the strangers to wither away and flee back into their car like desperate bugs running from the rain, they stayed. The smug expression on the blonde’s face remained, the only hint of concern in his features being a twitch in his eyebrow and a bead of sweat on his forehead. 

The eyes of the redhead behind him had gone round though, before his eyebrows knitted together when he caught Katsuki’s gaze.
“Dude that’s not cool, you can’t just threaten people like that.”

Their two other friends had made their way to the register, paying for their gas and snacks while watching for Katsuki’s next movement along with the cashier. He felt like an animal in a goddamn cage, his movements being furiously scrutinized by each and every individual in the store. 

It was quiet. The subtle hum of the air conditioning and slurpee machines filled silence that had been so crudely interrupted not even 30 seconds earlier, and Katsuki didn’t know how to feel, what to say, if he should breathe or not. 

He couldn’t break anything, because he couldn’t pay for any damage repairs with the piece of gum in his pack pocket and an out of battery cell phone that had been shattered to hell and back. 

He couldn’t punch the guy in the face, because no matter how satisfying the thought was, his knuckles were already bruised, and his movements would be as slow as a goddamn snail due to the heat that had once smothered his body and burnt his shoulders all the way to his fingers. 

Not to mention that the guy was built , and Katsuki couldn’t tell if the muscles were just for show or not, but refused to risk his pride when it would hardly be a fair fight. 

“Fuck. Off.” Katsuki settled for. 

He tried not to think about how much he sounded like his highschool self, how all the therapy he had gone through for months seemed to be for nothing; because there he was, in the middle of nowhere, hardly able to move, getting into arguments with strangers that he should’ve just taken the chance to walk away from at first glance. 

And then he left.

Or he tried to. 

For the life of him, Katsuki couldn’t figure out these people, why they were so adamant on ruining his day more than the fact that it was July already had. The redheads hand gripped his wrist, and Katsuki didn’t hesitate before snatching it back and scowling at him.

“Where are you headed?” The man asked, despite Katsuki’s obvious desire to leave without another word and his vulgar display from earlier where he literally threatened to kill the guys friend.
Katsuki shrugged, his eyes narrowed downcast on the floor. 

The man hummed, and it was still unsettling how eerily quiet it was despite six people being crammed in the same small store. 

Realistically, Katsuki didn’t have anywhere to go, no destination in mind that he could use to his advantage. He was tired, mentally and physically, and just couldn’t process how of all times, after getting into a petty argument, the man still insisted on helping him. 

It was nearing the end of July, he was lost, and he had never felt more stupid in his life. 

So he followed the man outside, the others not too far behind.

 

Chapter Text

All the minutes spent standing in the cool corner store were immediately eliminated as soon as Katsuki set foot outside. The almost suffocating summer air, with not a single waft of breeze to its name, warped around his body; wrapping him in an uncomfortable hug that he hadn’t asked for. Katsuki shivered under the weight of the heat. 

The sun had almost completely sunk in the sky, causing a warm palette to dance across the dirt and pavement, bouncing off of the strangers orange car and through all of the windows without a care in the world. Despite the late hour, despite the fact that the sun had almost completely washed away from the sky, Katsuki’s shoulders still stung and his limbs still throbbed in pain. 

If the blonde was sure that his mood couldn’t possibly get worse before, he was dead wrong. 

Katsuki liked summer, it wasn’t necessarily bad and he could enjoy it just as much as the next person, but it really wasn’t doing much to clear his head at the moment. 

The quiet hum of slurpee machines shifted into the hum of cicadas as they stepped outside, and Katsuki could almost feel it breathing down his neck, just as much as he could feel the eyes of the two strangers in front of him burning their gaze into his skull. He glared down his nose at them, stuffing his hands into his pockets despite the heat. 

The driver had followed behind Katsuki and the redhead outside, their two other friends staying behind in the store to, from what Katsuki could see, mess around with the slurpee machines. 

No one spoke for at least a minute, but it felt like an eternity, the two strangers gazes lingering on Katsuki expectantly as he glared back at them. Birds sang in the distance, leaves in trees swayed, dancing to the quiet, and Katsuki huffed, cracking his knuckles before speaking up.  

“Well? Are you gonna fucking say anything?” 

The strangers blinked, the redhead snapping his head to see his friends reaction only to be met with a dumb look of confusion, his mouth hanging open slightly. 

“I mean-” The redhead spoke up finally, before cutting himself off to sigh. He puffed out his chest, willing himself to appear confident and sure of himself, despite speaking to a stranger that had threatened his friend only minutes before. 

Katsuki waited, because what other choice did he have? He didn’t have a place to spend the night, not a single apology on his part that could’ve gotten him out of the less than ideal situation. 

He clenched his fists, keeping his glare steady on the man while swatting a bug perched on his arm. The wind itself paused, not having moved an inch in the first place. The redhead swallowed down a lump in his throat, the driver beside him staring into the distance just beyond Katsuki’s shoulder with a spaced out look on his face. 

“We are curious where you’re headed, we want to help you, dude.” He pressed, his brows knitting together. The drivers attention shifted at that, his eyes narrowing in on the redhead in obvious disagreement and caution.
“Ever heard of minding your own goddamn business?” Katsuki snapped. 

“None of our business, or you just don’t know where you’re going yourself?” The man had the audacity to question, forgetting that he was a complete stranger and that people had a thing called privacy.
Katsuki clicked his tongue against his teeth, averting his gaze to the side. The accusation wasn’t too far off, in fact, it was practically spot on. But Katsuki refused to admit it, refused to admit that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing. 

He’d always been so goddamn sure of himself, positive that his actions were the best and apathetic of how they affected others. That was still true, he didn’t give a shit if his actions made someone else fall to rock bottom, as long as he was number one, as long as he was the best that was all that mattered. But on the one day that he didn’t know what he was doing, why he had ended up in this place and how to dig himself out of the grave he had dug, of course he had to own up to his actions almost immediately. He bit his tongue instead.

“I get not wanting to take an offer from a stranger, especially since we’ve already offered and are probably seeming desperate at this point.” The man laughed to himself, the driver cracking a small grin as well. 

Katsuki narrowed his eyes in suspicion, because what the fuck was wrong with these people? How were they so casual about offering a ride to a guy that was drenched in sweat and got into an argument with one of their friends? Why were they so persistent to offer him help?

Katsuki knew that these people weren’t murderers, too dumb to pull off something like that. So, why?

“Why?”
“Why?” The redhead repeated, angling his head to the side in confusion. 

“Why the fuck are you offering me a ride when I literally just threatened your friend?”

The man only laughed again, his smile bright and his chuckle deep and raspy. 

“Why not?” The driver offered, lifting a shoulder in a lazy shrug.

It was quiet again, only a moment as the stranger contained his giggles and Katsuki kicked at the ground with a foot that had long gone numb. 

The distance between themselves and the road was fuzzy, an uneven blurred separation between dirt and air that clung to the ground due to the heat. Katsuki could practically touch it, feel it pressing down on his boots and kicking at the back of his heels.
“Because, you have no fucking idea about my situation- I’m not even going anywhere so there’s nowhere for you to drop me off, idiots.”
“You’re not- You’re not going anywhere?” The driver questioned, because the conversation was so one sided Katsuki may as well have been talking to a goddamn goldfish.

“Yeah, I just said that.” 

“Right-”

“So, what- you actually don’t know where you’re going? I was right?” The redhead’s eyes were wide as dinner plates, his hair that had once appeared razor sharp flopping slightly in the evening heat.

Katsuki didn’t answer, just raised an eyebrow at the man. 

Seemingly having put the pieces together, the redhead perked up, his voice snapping Katsuki out of his trance of frustration. 

“That’s perfect! Right, Sero? We’re on a road trip so we’re only staying at motels and stuff.”

“Yeah but- I don’t have any money to book another room, dude.” The driver (Sero?) pointed out. With a wave of the redheads hand, his comment was brushed aside.

“I’m Kirishima Eijirou, by the way.” The stranger grinned, jabbing a thumb behind his shoulder in the drivers direction. The man smiled, tired and obviously slightly confused. 

“Sero Hanta.” He confirmed. 

Katsuki hadn’t even given the man a definite yes and he was already talking about motel rooms. What kind of weird simultaneous bad and good luck did he have?

“Bakugou.” He grumbled.

Katsuki wasn’t complaining though, because he definitely wasn’t going to be caught asking someone to give him somewhere to stay the night, and could tell that they all knew his answer despite his lack of confirmation. It was in the way he stood, his feet shifting and kicking at the ground and his fists clenched tight. 

“So are we good?” Sero questioned, an eyebrow raised and an easy smile directed towards Katsuki. Katsuki scowled at it, but nodded despite himself.
“Cool. I’m gonna go uh- get the others and let them know what’s going on. You can wait in the car if you want!” Sero called out after throwing Kirishima the keys, already halfway through the door by the time he finished speaking. 

Then it was quiet again, and Katsuki was beginning to get sick of it. The awkward air that hung between sentences and stuck like glue; it was almost as insufferably long as that July had already been. 

Kirishima shuffled on his feet, disturbing the quiet of the summer ambience without any subtlety. Katsuki could tell that Kirishima wasn’t one that was familiar with the quiet in this context, in the way that it felt so different and uncomfortable when shared with a stranger. Hell, Katsuki was probably even less familiar. Kirishima probably offered people rides and did strangers favours every day of his goddamn life. 

Still, Kirishima smiled at him, making his way over to the worn out car and peering behind his shoulder to see if Katsuki was following only once. He was, because he wasn’t an idiot. Kirishima slowed until Katsuki was beside him and elbowed him in the side, to which the blonde pushed him an unfair amount harder, causing him to stumble and laugh to himself. Stupid.

“Kinda weird we would run into you again, huh? Must be fate or something, man.” Kirishima spoke through his laughter, and Katsuki was beginning to get sick of that sound as well. 

“More like a goddamn tragedy.” 

 

☀︎

 

Everything Katsuki despised, somehow, managed to find its way into the car with him. 

It was stuffy, the stench of sweat, ocean water and recycled air radiating throughout the cramped space and forcing his face into an irritated scowl. Vibrant beach towels hung from the back of the driver's seat and over half of the backseat, the floor of the car messy with old miscellaneous magazines and sand and worn out pairs of shoes. 

Kirishima had opened the car door and gestured for Katsuki to take the seat behind the driver with a grin, declaring that he didn’t mind sitting in the middle when the others climbed inside. And well, Katsuki wasn’t going to put up a fight if the guy wanted to sit in the smaller seat so badly. 

After a couple of minutes of Kirishima mindlessly tapping away on his phone and Katsuki eyeing the dry scenery outside the dusty windows with his head resting in his hand, the doors to the car swung open, conversation to be heard loud and clear. Kirishima quickly shuffled over a seat to make room for his friend, his thigh brushing Katsuki’s own with little subtlety as he did so. 

Upon seeing the other two dumbasses who had entered the car passing around slurpees and snacks, Katsuki wondered if there was anyone in this car who looked normal. Excluding Sero and himself. Katsuki didn’t miss the slightly concerned look the Pikachu-lookalike sent Sero seconds after he caught Katsuki’s eye, or the blatant stare of the Pink haired girl sitting on the other side of Kirishima. 

She had too much blush, too much eye make-up, and the most obnoxious sense of fashion Katsuki had ever seen. Kirishima was dressed almost just as offensively, but even his Ace Ventura rip-off look couldn’t compete with the girls early 2000s hot pink flared jeans. 

“Hey blondie! I’m Ashido Mina!” She grinned, leaning over Kirishima and simultaneously invading both his and Katsuki’s space.
“I don’t give a shit.” He grumbled.

After Ashido’s initial excitement had settled slightly and Sero had practically forced the last uncomfortable introduction with Kaminari, it was quiet. Quiet enough to remind Katsuki that he had just willingly sat himself in a strangers car despite convincing himself that he would never stoop so low just a few hours before. 

It only lasted 30 seconds, complaints soon rising to the surface and arguments starting over whether to turn on the air conditioning or roll down the windows.

“We can’t do both, they cancel each other out!” Sero groaned for the millionth time, his grip tight around the steering wheel to the point of turning his knuckles white.
“Just turn the air on, dude!” Kaminari whined. He reached to fiddle with the controls before Sero gripped his wrist in a tight hold, causing a shriek to erupt from the blonde. “Bro! Stop, stop, stop!” He forced his wrist out of Sero’s grip, shaking it slightly before pouting and trying to reach for the backseat air dial instead. Surely, the same thing repeated in a different manner would get him what he wanted.
Kirishima’s foot blocked his hand, kicking at his fingers before Kaminari retreated once more. 

“Sero, just roll down the goddamn windows!” Mina begged, eyebrows furrowed as she continued coating her nails with bright green polish. 

Sero eventually did roll down the windows, Kaminari silently turning on a playlist that Kirishima had requested while he was at it. 

As faintly nostalgic acoustic guitar resonated from the old, clunky radio and the groups excitement picked up once more, Katsuki shifted in his seat, patched up and ripped leather sticking to his skin and tugging and tugging and tugging. 

Katsuki was crammed against Kirishima’s side with no room left to spare, trying to ignore the heat coming off in waves from the immediate contact. Kirishima wore cargo shorts that looked like they belonged in a middle aged lesbian mothers closet, and Katsuki felt slightly nauseated each time he looked down.

“Oh fuck yeah, Country Roads!” Sero exclaimed, raising a fist in celebration before singing along softly with the others in tow.

He had to physically hold himself back from banging his head against the window in order to drown out the out of tune wailing coming from the group as they sang the tacky song. 

Kirishima was smiling - because of course he was. He bopped his head along slightly to the rhythm, no doubt the most passionate singer out of all of them and refusing to waver under Katsuki’s steady glare. He glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, angling his head to look at the blonde properly as his smile grew and his singing picked up even more. 

Katsuki rolled his eyes, averting his gaze to the hand Sero had stuck outside of the window, swaying in the wind while his fingers played with the summer breeze idly. 

Katsuki had never been in this car before; the smells, the people, the keychains and air freshener that was probably from 2013 hanging from the mirror all unfamiliar to him. 

If he wasn’t so tense, sweaty, and unfamiliar with the people - Katsuki might have considered the moment relaxing. But he was out of place, far from home and intruding on some strangers’ road trip that he hadn’t wanted to be a part of in the first place. 

These people so obviously knew each other well - maybe they grew up together, went through middle and high school as a group and were now on their way to enjoy their summer on the road. Katsuki couldn’t be fucked to ask, his pride ruling over any sense of curiosity that might have peaked. They probably all knew the backstory to the tear in the ceiling above the driver’s seat, or the questionable stains in the backseat or the reason the air conditioning had sticky tape covering one of its corners. 

Katsuki felt like he was intruding, and he was, no doubt about it. What else could he have asked for when he consensually sat himself in the backseat of a strangers car? He had basically signed up to be left out of the goddamn loop, and it irritated him - almost as much as the sudden Police siren from behind their car did. 

“Shit.” Sero hissed under his breath as he pulled over, reaching to turn down the music and glance at Kaminari as if he could read his mind. 

He could, apparently, because suddenly he was moving to stuff multiple sandwich bags into the glove box and holy shit - of course Katsuki had gotten into a car with a bunch of fucking stoners. 

Kirishima had gone stiff next to him, Ashido pausing her neon painting to furiously blow air on her nails. 

“Chill, Sero, it’s just a cop. Just ask him if he has a crush on you!” Kaminari offered as if he were commenting on the weather. 

“N- What?”
Kaminari didn’t answer, because the slam of the police officers car door cut off any chance. 

Sero leant his arm against the window casually as the cop strided up beside him. He was probably trying to seem like he hadn’t just had a ton of weed stuffed into his glove box not even ten seconds prior. Smart. 

The policeman gave the lanky college student a once over, his brows knitting together as Sero laughed nervously. 

“License?”

Sero shoved his hand into his wallet, and surprisingly didn’t fumble around for too long or make himself seem as panicked as Katsuki could tell he was. “Right here, man.” He held the small plastic card between two fingers out to the cop, who took it swiftly. He eyed it for not even a few seconds. 

The cop hummed to himself, tapping his pointer finger against the card as if that solved everything.

“See here, this is why I pulled you over. Your license is actually expired, bud. Were you aware of this?”

Sero’s eyes went wide. 

“Really? Oh shit- How’d that happen? Dude I had no idea!”

The policeman hummed.

“See? It says June 25th is the expiration, so you’re going to need to renew it online before you plan on driving anywhere else.”

“Ah SHIT.” Sero grabbed at his hair in frustration, and Katsuki rolled his eyes, because of fucking course he would get stuck with a bunch of strangers who were not only stoners, but also forgetful fucking idiots. 

Ignoring Sero’s outburst, the cop folded his arms. 

“Unfortunately today it’s going to be a fine, you can pay that online too.”

Sero nodded, humming. 

“I wouldn’t worry too much, it’s only a month overdue so you could probably convince them to just write it off as a warning instead.” The policeman tried, making Sero’s hunched up shoulders relax slightly at the idea of not paying a fine.

“Yeah I’ll try that, thanks.”

“Where’re you headed?”

“I mean - we could probably stop at the town up ahead?”

The policeman peered into the car briefly.

“Do any of your friends have their license?”

Kirishima, who was crammed into the middle seat despite being much bulkier than Mina to his side, perked up.

“I do!”

“Great, I’ll go write this up and you can get on your way.”

When the cop left, Sero turned in his seat, angling his head to look back at Kirishima with narrowed eyes. 

“Are you kidding dude? I’m not letting you drive my car!” He hissed.

“What? But then we can’t-“ 

“No, I don’t even know how you got your license in the first place, but you’re not driving. Period.”

Kirishima pouted, obviously unamused at Sero’s outburst of disapproval at the idea of him behind a wheel. 

Sero tapped his finger against the wheel in a random beat as they waited, no one daring to speak up after the sudden and unexpected interruption of their trip. 

Until Kaminari broke the silence to make an unnecessary comment that no one had asked for, his voice cracking from misuse. 

“My eye keeps twitching, I think I might be dying.” 

“Finally.” Katsuki muttered. Kirishima nudged him in the side again, silently letting him know he heard the comment. Katsuki briefly wondered if that would become a theme between them, but brushed the thought aside to violently poke the redhead in the stomach. Karma’s a bitch. 

“Oh shit, maybe you’ve got conjunctivitis or something.” Kirishima gasped once the pain subsided and the silence after Kaminari’s comment began to grow awkward. 

Kaminari sputtered, his eyes gone wide in shock as he shifted around in his seat to face Kirishima. “What?!”

“Or pink eye.” Kirishima offered next, his grin growing rapidly. 

“Bro shut up!” Kaminari huffed, folding his arms and sinking back down into his seat. 

Katsuki would deny smirking at the interaction all the way to his grave, but the others had no problem with letting out their laughter at the boys stupidity. 

“Oh man, if Jirou was here-”
“Shut up!”

Maybe it was the undeniable stress of the situation, the risk of Sero’s license being taken away and his life being ruined if they ran into another police officer on their way to the town because he wasn’t meant to be driving, but the air in the car felt significantly less stuffy after everyone spoke up again. Katsuki caught himself tapping a finger along to The Rolling Stone’s songs Kirishima had requested multiple times, and so did the redhead himself. 

The tired sun glaring through the window onto the side of Katsuki’s face didn’t dare shift, and neither did he, hyper-aware of the lack of space he had to call his own in the backseat. 

 

☀︎

 

When they reached the town less than an hour later, it was dark. Cars were parked under trees with dust on their dashboard, silent and eerie as if they had been sitting there for years untouched. 

Once Sero had come back from the motel reception with their room keys and gestured for the group to follow him, everyone clambered out of the car in a mess, tripping over their own feet and grabbing their supplies as it were a race. It was, and Katsuki definitely won. 

No roar of an engine or distant footsteps of pedestrians were to be heard as the group set foot outside, the last slam of a door reverberating throughout the car park and sending Katsuki’s glare to the offender. 

Kirishima grinned at him, swinging his backpack over his shoulder and following alongside the others without a second thought. 

Street lights cast a lonely glow on either side of the street, lights appearing cold despite the searing heat coating the evening air. The road seemed distant and unnatural at this time, appearing more like a river that did not waver for a second, not a hint of a ripple in its surface as occasional cars broke its somber emptiness. The motel car park was lifeless, excusing the odd car spread out here and there and the groups footsteps that sounded against the concrete like uneven raindrops, unexpected due to the season yet calming all the same.
“Alright, so we only have two rooms.” Sero stated once the group reached the two wooden doors, his expression silently pleading no one to argue. 

Katsuki clicked his tongue against his teeth in frustration, but he couldn’t deny how relieving the idea of being able to throw himself down onto a mattress was, no matter how shitty or how little space he had. 

“We have three beds; two doubles and one single. Mina already called the single bed.” Sero continued, sighing. 

There was a silent offer in his tone, for someone to speak up and claim a room as their own and state who they wanted to share a bed with.

“Cool! It’s like a sleepover!” Kirishima grinned, Kaminari’s posture picking up at the idea as well. Katsuki internally groaned. “So who’s with who?”
“I mean- you get along with Bakugou the most out of us, right?” Kaminari offered, raising a hand to his chin in thought. Kirishima blinked back at him. 

“I... guess I do? Yeah! Do you wanna room together?” Kirishima turned to him, an eyebrow raised as if Katsuki even had the option to say no. 

“Not fucking particularly, but since I have no choice then whatever.” 

“Great!” Sero grinned, Kirishima sending two thumbs up Katsuki’s way. 

While Kirishima had spent not even two seconds thinking, Ashido had stolen the room keys right from Sero’s hand, entering the two rooms and scoping out the one that had the single bed while leaving the doors wide open. 

“Guys, they have tiny shampoo!” She squealed, leaning against the door frame behind Kaminari for a split second before disappearing once more.
“No way!” Kaminari gasped, running inside after her without a moment's hesitation. 

The three blinked at the sudden disappearance of the two, watching as they ran around like little kids in a goddamn candy store. 

“Anyway, your room’s right there.” Sero jabbed a thumb in the direction of the room directly behind him, that’s door was wide open due to Ashido’s raid earlier. “Now if you don’t mind I need to go try to fix this stupid license shit that I was never taught how to deal with.” He smiled, tight and forced and obviously stressed that he wouldn’t be able to get everything sorted by tomorrow morning. 

Katsuki huffed, smacking at a mosquito on his arm tiredly. 

“You really don’t know how to do something so fucking simple?” He scowled, brows scrunched in confusion at the mans incredible lack of ability. 

“What do you mean ‘simple’?! I don’t know shit about numbers or laws, man. I’m just an art student-” Sero paused, groaning. “My mom never taught me this!” He pulled at the hair on the back of his head briefly, pulling out his ponytail in the process and snapping the elastic over his wrist. 

“Calm your goddamn tits, it’s not that difficult.” Katsuki rolled his eyes. “If you’re gonna be such a bitch about it I’ll just do it for you, man.” He mocked.

“Wait - really?” 

It was just manners, just general human decency. Hell- it wasn’t even that, Katsuki just needed a fucking ride and if the driver had no license and Kirishima really was so inept at being behind a wheel then there was no way of that happening. 

So he helped Sero, entered his and Kirishima’s room, threw his bag down on the floor, snatched the mans phone out of his hand and called the place to fix it. 

He just needed a ride, that was it. 

 

☀︎

 

The door to his and Kirishima’s room clicked shut after no less than half an hour, Sero’s license renewed and a four hundred dollar fine avoided. As soon as Sero and Katsuki had settled on their bed glaring down at his phone, Kirishima had taken it upon himself to switch on the TV and remove his button down and under shirt, peeking over their shoulders occasionally. 

The main light for the room had failed to turn on, only flickering on for a split second if someone kept their finger down on the switch, so they had resorted to their dusty bedside lamps with a harsh yellow glow as their source of light. Katsuki flopped back onto the bed, half lifting up his shirt that stuck to his skin like glue before giving up and resting his arms by his sides lazily. 

Kirishima sat next to him, leaning over his phone and staring before his eyes went wide and he scrambled for the charger. Katsuki huffed, directing his attention to the TV that fizzled and hissed like a soda can, that’s static roamed around the edges of the screen and Katsuki could practically breathe in. 

It was quiet again, the distorted volume of the TV as the only thing filling the silence. But Katsuki didn’t hate it, he didn’t he really hate Kirishima either. Kirishima’s hair was an utter mess after spending the day in a humid car, accidentally banging his head against the ceiling while trying to choose the next song, and now having to spend the night in an even more humid motel room with a stranger. 

Katsuki eyed his backpack in the corner of the room briefly before screwing his eyes shut. The sheets were stuck to his skin already, clothes a burden that he couldn’t even rid himself of. Kirishima shifted, throwing his phone down on the floor with a soft thump and laying on his back with his hands stuffed behind the pillow. The mattress dipped under their combined weight, and Katsuki shuffled a little closer to the edge after his elbow brushed Kirishima’s ribs. 

It was all body heat, the wrong situation to be sharing a bed and the very opposite of the right season to be forced to do so. Katsuki sighed, listening to the laughter in the room next door through the paper thin walls and hating himself even more. 

If he wasn’t here, right now, then Kirishima could have been sharing the bed with someone that he actually knew and got along with. He could have been laughing just as loudly with his friends. But no, because he was such a nice prick of course he had to offer the aggressive blonde who he'd never met in his life a ride. Katsuki briefly wondered why the group wanted to ruin their trip so badly, if there even was anything to ruin. 

Maybe it was because of the dim lighting, the old shitty motel that looked like it belonged in a different era, or the lack of distance between himself and the redhead, but all of the guilt from intruding earlier came back in a rush. 

“We gotta get up real early tomorrow.” Kirishima spoke, his voice cracking slightly as he broke off into a yawn. Katsuki returned the yawn, but not before groaning and banging a fist down into the mattress in silent protest. Kirishima huffed a laugh, and when he spoke, Katsuki could practically hear the smile in his tone.

“Waking up at 6:00 after a summer of sleeping in is rough, I know.” Kirishima sighed, shifting onto his side to face Katsuki. His face was altered under the dim glow of the weird cheap lights next to their bed, casting a halo around his head and enhancing the mess of his damaged hair. 

“Speak for yourself, Shitty hair. I usually have a routine - it just feels like I haven’t slept in a goddamn decade.” Katsuki grumbled in response, stretching his arms above his head and spreading out his legs to ease any leftover aching.

Kirishima didn’t respond at first, silent and still and barely in the room at all, but Katsuki could still feel his body heat radiating off of him and hear his breathing loud and clear. 

“You do know that my name is Kirishima, right? Like - you do remember?” He questioned, sounding slightly worried for the off chance that Katsuki really didn’t remember.
Katsuki only snorted, so Kirishima continued on. 

“And y’know - my hair isn’t that different from yours dude. It takes a lot of effort and-”

Katsuki interrupted him, slamming a tired and sweaty hand over his mouth before he could continue on about what kind of hair products he used. Kirishima squirmed, grabbing at Katsuki’s hand and forcing it off of his face. He was laughing though.
“Shut the fuck up and go to sleep.” Katsuki growled, sitting up and slowly lifting his shirt over his head to hide his faint amusement. Kirishima sighed and wordlessly got up from the bed, the mattress squeaking in protest and now uncomfortably cold and empty despite the sweat still glistening over Katsuki’s torso.

The TV grew rings of purple and pink and green inside of the screen once it was shut off, and the laughter in the other room had simmered down by now, replaced by distant chirps of crickets in unmown grass across the street of the car park. 

Their rooms window was open, separated by old damaged fly screen and closed curtains from another decade, and Katsuki breathed it in. Breathing in the scent of a new town that was ironically probably just as old as Sero’s car felt. Breathing in Kirishima’s damaging hair gel that had softened a fair amount and the cardboard-like bed sheets that he refused to pull over himself in the sticky heat. 

Katsuki breathed it in, and breathed it back out, eventually lulling himself into the kind of sleep that he hadn’t known for months.

 

Chapter Text

The sun had not risen when Katsuki woke, but the aching in his muscles came back with the intensity of a freight train. The morning neither brought with it a hint of sunlight, instead peeking in at the two still bodies on either side of the bed through the dusty motel curtains, baptizing them in its warm blue glow through a tiny slither of unintentionally let in moonlight. 

Everything was still - as if time itself had paused and the lopsided clock hanging above their TV was stuck a few minutes behind, still trying to catch up to the night that hadn’t yet faded. But it was real, time was moving, if at all, very slowly. 

Katsuki didn’t know why he had woken so early, without an alarm or a blazing sun glaring down at him, just pure instinct. But on second thought, maybe it had been Kirishima noisily shuffling around, beside him yet simultaneously an entire world apart - as many miles away as Sero had driven and Katsuki had walked all together, piled into one confusing and surreal moment of chapped lips and foggy motel rooms. 

Kirishima was just as real as the ticking clock on the other side of the room, just as real as the bed they had shared within less than 24 hours of knowing each other, and that had to be the most mind boggling of all. He was real, and so was the bodyheat that lingered between them all throughout the night despite being on opposite sides of the bed, pinning Katsuki down and covering him head to toe. But then the heat had eased up, a dip in the mattress forcing Katsuki’s once glued shut eyes open as he attempted to blink the sleep out of them. 

His blurry vision did not even slightly hint at the expression on the redheads face that had appeared above him in the ten seconds after he had stirred awake. All he could see was red, red, red; a mess of uneven red hair cascading like a tsunami in July, unexpected and intrusive. 

Everything that Katsuki had seen in the past few days - all the busy and bustling streets he was familiar with that shifted to empty ghost towns he’d never seen or heard of with just a few hours distance in between, could not compare to the undeniable unfamiliarity that washed over him as he continued to blink open his eyes. 

Some people were easy to understand right away, some people Katsuki didn’t think he would ever understand, and surely didn’t have the interest to do so. Kirishima - Kirishima was in all honesty, fucking weird. His hair was weird, his sense of fashion was weird, the way he spoke was weird, the amount of times he smiled was weird, and Katsuki was tired of it. 

But out of everything, all of the strange situations he had gotten himself into and the even stranger people he had met, he and Kirishima’s shared motel room during dawn sent a chill down his spine, which had stuck to the mattress uncomfortably and forced his limbs into an aching mess. 

The wind moved as slow as a drying puddle of water, lingering outside their room and molding itself over the old bricks and wood that threatened them with splinters if they were to brush against it. 

Katsuki vaguely registered the mattress dipping and squeaking with each small movement, Kirishima’s palm ghosting over his arm as he attempted to shake him awake gently. 

“F'ck off...” He reflexively groaned in protest, though his voice was muffled and croaky and he sounded half dead. Kirishima either didn’t hear him, or simply didn’t care.
“Dude, come on, we gotta get up.” He whispered, his voice significantly less gravelly than Katsuki’s, as if he had already been awake for hours.

Katsuki reached an arm that was limp with pins and needles into the air and smacked where he guessed Kirishima’s face was, which resulted in the man fleeing to his respected side of the bed once more with an amusing shriek. 

“Damn okay I get it! Guess you aren’t a morning person…” He trailed off in tired laughter. 

What he said caught Katsuki off guard, because once he had been a morning person and could say it with the utmost confidence. Once meaning not even a week before, but a single day that Katsuki slacked off he could feel it - burning and stretching his skin just like the straining sunburn on his arms.

Through the bland wall behind Katsuki’s head, there were the sounds of rustling, of people waking and shifting around to get ready to sit in a stuffy car for 6 hours or more. It mocked him, each faint footstep against old carpet pulling at his ears persistently like a distant Aunt that everybody seemed to have met at least once growing up. 

The air in the room was thick, like the blankets that Katsuki hadn’t even pulled over himself for exactly that reason. He probably could have swam in it, through the dull blues and purples that dawns shadows created; could have drowned in the feeling of a new day that he hadn’t even wanted to come around in the first place. 

Kirishima shuffled around next to the other side of the bed, dumping his bag on the untouched bed sheets lazily and pulling out an old drink bottle and a new shirt. Katsuki huffed into the musty room, sitting up with a groan and reaching for his own bag that had been carelessly thrown on the floor the night before. 

He couldn’t recall exactly when he had first gotten the now tattered bag, but half of it’s zips were broken, forcing him to attempt to fix them with old keychains to at least have some sort of leverage on the things. Accompanied with the homemade patches and unintentional rips decorating the outside of the bag, all of the years of travelling and hiking was obvious to an outsiders eyes. 

An out of battery phone, empty water bottles, lazily thrown in clothes and a wallet full of useless gift cards from 2 Christmases ago. That was all he had taken with him. 

Maybe Katsuki wasn’t as reliable as he had once thought he was. That was fair, apparently he wasn’t a lot of things that he had once thought of himself as. 

“We probably don’t have time to shower or anything, but that's just how it be I guess!” Kirishima spoke up, pulling a fresh shirt over his head before looking down at Katsuki with a wordless ‘good morning’ smile that Katsuki wasn't sure had been repeated. 

Katsuki didn’t get what was so damn okay about that, a shower was exactly the thing he needed; to wash off any remnants from the day before, from the week before, hell even the month. 

The stubborn pull and tug on his back of the words he never got to hear back at home and never planned on hearing stayed, running it’s fingers up his spine as a not so gentle reminder that had his stomach clenching and his lungs gripped in a tight fist. 

He grunted in response though, pulling a wrinkled tank top out and yanking it over his head before lifting himself off of the bed to stretch some more. 

He had no idea where they were even going today, where there intended destination was or if the group even had one in the first place. Katsuki didn’t ask, cracking his knuckles and running a hand through his hair instead. 

“How’d you sleep?” The redhead tried, obviously uncomfortable in the quiet that Katsuki had created. 

“Shit. You?” He decided to humor the man, an eyebrow raised in mock interest.
“I mean - we slept in the same bed so you can probably guess.” He sighed with a smile, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. "Do you know you kick in your sleep?" 

Katsuki scoffed at the question, because yes, he was very much aware. 

"Sounds like a goddamn you problem to me."

Six AM was like a wet dream compared to the rest of the day, made especially obvious when their door swung open to reveal Ashido in yet another disastrous outfit, the breeze whistling a high pitched tune for a split second at the idea of being let into their stuffy room. 

“Are you guys ready to go?” She yawned. 

“Hold up we still have 5 minutes?” Kirishima raised an eyebrow.
Ashido grinned. “Nope! Your clock is wrong!” She pointed behind Kirishima’s shoulder to the tacky motel room clock hung on the wall. “We’ll wait in the car.” The pink haired girl offered before skipping off, leaving the wooden door wide open as she did. 

“Fuck!” Katsuki hissed, throwing himself at his shoes on the floor and shoving them onto his feet hurriedly.
Kirishima wasn’t too better off, scooping up Katsuki’s empty water bottles that he’d dumped out onto the bed as well as his own and rushing into the bathroom to fill them up, the sound of an old and slow tap filling the loud silence as Katsuki jumped up to grab his bag. 

The slow morning that Katsuki had known for no less than 2 minutes had vanished into thin air, carried away in the dawn breeze along with any consideration for just where he could end up by the end of the day. 

 

☀︎

 

The car hadn’t changed a single bit over night; which to a half asleep and already overheating Katsuki, had to be the single worst possibility. It was still as ugly and obnoxious as it had looked from the outside yesterday and still as stuffy and cramped on the inside. But for once, it was quiet, and that was enough for now. 

Powerlines draped themselves along the side of the road, keeping Katsuki’s eyes trained on them instead of any of the same dry dirt he’d glared at for almost all of the day before. The sun hadn’t burst out in flames quite yet, instead hiding behind the clouds and somehow finding a way to cast light blues and greys and pinks over everything within reach. The air felt loose and comfortable for the first time that month, not teasing the blonds sensitive sweat glands in the slightest as his fingers twirled mindlessly in the breeze outside. 

There was a GPS on Sero’s phone which had been muted and sat up so that it could be viewed easily. Katsuki didn’t care to read it, didn’t know if there was a location that had been entered into it at all. He decided he didn’t care, just continued watching the buildings and scenery outside whirr around and past the car with each twist and turn.

The road had repaired itself of it’s obsolete cracks and crevices, filled in and renewed due to it’s increasingly small distance from civilization; of more cars driving simultaneously nowhere and everywhere, of more people to judge at stop lights and pedestrians for Sero to nearly run over. 

Not at the moment though, for the sun was still yet to rise, and so were the careless pedestrians, so were Kaminari and Ashido. The two had drifted off almost as soon as they’d climbed into the stuffy car with their pillows at the ready, much to Kirishima’s (very much awake) dismay. Ashido’s pillow had been replaced by Kirishima’s shoulder as soon as she set eyes on the man, her already pink tinted cheek squishing against him as she slowly fell asleep while muttering some nonsense about sightseeing. 

Kaminari had sunk down in the front seat with his legs kicked up on the dashboard, not bothering to control the music or complain about the not yet turned on air conditioning before drifting off. Katsuki distantly hoped that they hit a bump in the road so that the guy could possibly fracture his neck. Distantly.  

Soft breathing reverberated throughout the car, sleeping through all of the possible views of absolutely nothing that the dawn somehow managed to enhance the beauty of. It was a bland town, full of grey buildings and dead grass and women smoking on their front lawns after no doubt sleepless nights, but when under the early mornings influence, everything seemed a little less dull. 

But then there was this bright orange car driving through the midst of it all, and Kirishima’s bright red hair that Katsuki couldn’t seem to get out of the corner of his eye. 

Even when his eyes fell closed it was still there, the vibrant hint of crimson that stubbornly stayed in place. Katsuki leant his head on it, the few seconds before he fell out of consciousness too little time for him to process anything other than the smell of cheap shampoo and increased body heat. 

 

☀︎

 

The crimson did not dull or grow dust in the time it took for Katsuki to peel his eyelids apart. In fact, it was brighter, everything was brighter, but it was all a blur as far as Katsuki could see. 

Something bitter was under his tongue and something sharp was under his ear, an uncomfortable amount of pressure. It didn’t affect his hearing though, in fact the sharp pain seemed to be the source of the only disruptive sound in the car. It reverberated throughout his side, deep, croaky. A voice; he vaguely gathered, mind still sticky and slow in places and working on one thing at a time. 

It rumbled like thunder, like an earthquake that hadn’t yet concluded but the world had since moved on from. 

“Hey, there’s a beach over there!” The thunder cracked, just short of sending lightning down onto the earth below it. It struck Katsuki though, he swore he could feel it in his very core; the way it was all so close and so warm right next to him. 

But there was no thunder, no rain to accompany it and absolutely no earthquake. Upon forcing his eyes open and wincing at the suddenly very bright sunlight, he saw that it was Kirishima. Kirishima, the one with bright red hair, AKA the crimson smudge that Katsuki had leant his head on.

“Oh, you’re awake!” He smiled, his eyes downcast on Katsuki who had probably given his consciousness away from shuffling around unknowingly. 

His head was ripped from the others shoulder in a split second, sending his vision into a blur and his head into a disoriented mess. He did not cradle it, just sat and stared at the man who wore a slightly concerned look on his face before pulling his gaze away to the ocean, to what the redhead had pointed out. 

If Kirishima shuffled a little further away from him afterwards, whether that be to give him space or who knows what - then Katsuki definitely didn’t notice. 

The sun really wasn’t all that bright once his eyes adjusted, glowing a gentle pink that Katsuki wouldn’t have been surprised if Ashido had managed to find a way to take out of the sky and paint onto her skin. It bleached the ocean with a cotton candy palette that shifted and altered under any slight movement in the wind, waves rolling back and forth in a gentle rhythm. 

Along with the sun, Ashido and Kaminari had seemingly risen just recently. Ashido yawned and stretched her limbs out as best as she could from her seat behind Kaminari, which resulted in her getting frustrated and kicking his seat and him screeching with the smoothness of sandpaper in response. 

Katsuki wasn’t sure whether Sero hadn’t heard Kirishima or just chose to ignore him, but the man was persistent, glancing back at Katsuki with a mischievous grin before leaning forward and reaching for Sero.
“Come onnn-” He groaned, peering up at Sero through his eyelashes with a pitiful pout while the latter kept his eyes glued to the road, though his amusement was clear. “Let’s go!” 

“Where are we going?” Ashido perked up, running a hand through her curly hair with another yawn.
“The beach!”
“Fuck no we aren’t.” Katsuki interrupted, his arms folded over his chest. “Why the fuck would we stop at some random beach if we had to wake up so goddamn early?” He questioned with an unimpressed scowl.

Kirishima pondered over that for a second, his expression showcasing his varying emotions transparently. 

“I-”
“Y’know there are other words than ‘fuck’ right?” Kaminari interrupted from the front, angling his head to peer back at Katsuki with a mischievous smile as if he hadn’t just tried extremely hard to get on his nerves. 

Beside him, Kirishima flinched, leaning into Ashido’s side slightly to avoid any possible sudden attacks from the blond.
“Shut the hell up, Pikachu!” Katsuki snapped, sitting up in his seat and straightening his posture defensively. 

There was a scoff at first, obviously from Kaminari, and then there was a snort, similar to the one he’d heard from inside the car only yesterday. Then, a chorus of giggles burst throughout the car, completely breaking the lingering quiet despite earlier conversation. Katsuki was just surprised it hadn’t shattered the windows and torn the seats to shreds with its shards considering how old and shitty the car was.
“Pikachu!?” Sero repeated, choking down his laughter while Kaminari gave him a glare of betrayal from beside him. Sero wasn’t looking. 

The sun didn’t shift from its place beyond the clouds and freshly cut off dawn light despite the groups sudden picked up volume, and with Kirishima nudging Katsuki in the side for the third time and grinning at nothing in particular, it seemed entirely inappropriate.
“That’s a new one, Blasty!” He pointed out. Katsuki’s brows drew together at the nickname that almost flew right over his head.
“The fuck did you just call me?” He scowled. 

Kirishima didn’t give him an answer.
“Sero pull over, I wanna swim!”

 

☀︎

 

As soon as Sero was half-pulled into a parking space the doors to the car were already flying open as if it were the end of the world - and Katsuki, being the competitive bastard he was, joined in as soon as he caught sight of the blazing fire in Kirishima’s eyes. 

He hadn’t known exactly what he was trying to win, but he jumped out into the abandoned parking lot with a sense of animosity, the redhead hot on his trail. 

From inside the car there was a shout of disapproval from Sero, who’s mood had no doubt already been corroded enough due to having to keep his hands on the overheating wheel and eyes on the dull road as the passengers in his car slept through it all. His complaints were short-lived - easily brushed aside at everyone’s sudden rush of adrenaline. 

It had to have been at least 20 groggy miles since Katsuki’s eyes fluttered shut, the small but completely bare parking lot just off the beach an unfamiliar sight. The area appeared slightly more lived in despite the lack of cars and even less pedestrians for some unknown reason. It was just - nicer, a sense of nostalgia washing over Katsuki as he eyed weatherboard houses that sat at the top of hills just a short walk away. No lights shone from inside of them to break through the dawn that stubbornly lingered around, the neighbourhood of night owls still sleeping through the already steadily increasing heat of the risen sun. 

Kirishima leant one knee on the harsh road beneath them as he rolled the pant of his left leg up to his knee hurriedly and Ashido stretched on the other side of the car, practically bouncing on her feet in excitement.  Kaminari’s eyes had gone wide at the sight of the beach below the parking space, bush and shrubbery separating them and the ocean with the crooked wooden steps leading downwards as their obvious pathway. Katsuki could smell the ocean breeze from here, the sun running its hands up and down his back as he breathed it in and out in a steady rhythm. 

The steps were old and rotten in places with weeds and vines spiraling up and through the cracks one by one at the sides where nobody set foot. He stomped his way down, which did it’s job at immensely freaking out Kaminari who followed behind him warily; cradling the beach towels in his arms as if they could save him from wooden steps collapsing beneath him after Katsuki’s initial disturbance. 

As the steps grew closer to the beach the amount of sand increased, hiding away the wooden planks under it sneakily and messing with their footing. 

Kirishima had taken the lead, the most enthusiastic to visit the beach as if he had never seen one before. He turned on his heel to face his friends after eyeing the ocean for a few seconds, watching as Ashido effortlessly skipped her way down while Kaminari stumbled and groaned each time his foot hit a disturbance in the path. 

“This beach is so cool, man! No one’s here!” Sero commented, lips parted in awe as if it weren’t the first thing in the morning, which explained the public's absence. 

“Perfect time to go skinny dipping!” Ashido grinned. 

Kaminari blanched. “What?!”
Ashido clicked her tongue against her teeth. “It’s called a joke, darling. Ever heard of it?”

“I’ll have you know I’m the funniest bitch here!"

There was a pause, Ashido raising a brow in pure amusement. 
“Just say you’re a het and go.”

There was a snort just behind her shoulder belonging to Sero, grinning down at the sand as he untied his shoes. Kaminari gasped at her comment, wincing as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest and thrown into the ocean before them dramatically. 

Katsuki had had enough of listening to their conversation, ripping off his boots that he’d set on untying as the argument played out and tugging his shirt over his head swiftly.
There was a glint of amusement in Kirishima’s eye as he continued to watch his friends, feet buried in the sand but obviously eager to sprint his way to the ocean. 

“Oi-” Katsuki called to anyone who was listening, glaring at Kirishima all the while. “You up for a race?” He grinned, a fire igniting in his chest at the idea of a competition, at the chance of some sort of amusement other than these idiots pretending to call eachother out. 

The redheads attention snapped to him instantly, his eyes wide as he stared him up and down before they narrowed into something close to smugness. 

“You know it.” He spoke, and his voice was flaming with the heat of the new sun in the reflection of the ocean, of the numb stinging in Katsuki’s tired feet that he hadn’t taken into account.
Katsuki yanked his baggy pants up to his knees in preparation of hitting the water like heavy rainfall, reflexively patting himself down to check for shattered phones that wouldn’t make a difference if they were lost in the ocean before glancing back at Kirishima once more, who swayed only slightly in his ready position. 

The dirt under the shade of plants and whispering night stayed cool, the morning seemingly pausing it’s wakening to accompany Kirishima's intrigued friends who didn't dare move a muscle. 

But then Katsuki nodded.

They dashed toward the ocean. 

Time resumed almost instantly, in fact seemed to skip a second or two ahead; Kirishima stumbling out of the corner of his eye as he attempted to catch up to it. 

Katsuki felt the morning brush his hair as he darted his way across the beach, softly, so softly. It was such a contrast with each quick-paced step on the sharp sand, which reminded his bare feet that they had been scraped raw the day before due to boots that hadn’t been fully worn in yet. 

It left him with a feeling of weightlessness, as though he were looking down upon his body with its odd mix of sensations. 

But Katsuki had to win, he had to get to the shore line first despite the pins and needles stuck in his feet that only cut deeper with each harsh stomp and kick of sand. 

Kirishima put up a fair fight, sticking to Katsuki’s side for a few seconds before falling behind once more - over and over, as repetitive as the push and pull of the ocean washing itself up on the beach, drenching the sand and bringing seaweed to its surface. 

Katsuki knew the redhead wasn’t going to win, himself only a few feet beyond reaching the water as Kirishima was at least four. 

To save the man some trouble and time, he stuck his foot out, effectively tripping the redhead and planting his face into the wet sand with not a hint of remorse or guilt. The sand found its way into Kirishima’s mouth as Katsuki bounded into the water and attempted to slow his heavy steps. 

Once Katsuki’s initial splashing subsided, the waves continued to move smoothly, rhythmically, creating little hills and mountains that were soon to disappear and be recreated again, only not quite the same as the last. 

“Dude!” Kirishima called just as his hand slammed down on Katsuki’s shoulder, effectively startling him out of his goddamn skin despite his lack of expression. He had unintentionally made it a habit over the years of watching shitty horror movies with his dad. “That was so not cool!” He groaned, sand still clinging to strands of his bright red hair and the loud laughter of his friends only half registering in the back of Katsuki’s mind. 

“Not my fuckin’ fault you didn’t make any rules!” Katsuki pushed the redheads weight off of himself with a light shove, stepping backwards to gain at least some sort of distance between them. 

“It’s just common courtesy!” Kirishima spat, throwing his arms out in front of him in order to gesture at nothing.
“That’s some bullshit.” Katsuki responded, smirking at the redhead while side eyeing him discreetly.
“It’s the way of the world, man.” Kirishima sighed, his eyes crinkling up at the corners with his smile as he bent down to pick up some seaglass hovering along the shoreline, the competition seemingly forgotten for the mean time. 

The redhead had his loose jeans rolled up to his thighs now, and Katsuki huffed a laugh to himself at the fact that they’d gone to the beach on the one day he’d worn proper pants in place of those stupid cargo shorts Katsuki had seen the previous day. His olive skin was tinted pink and blue and orange under the influence of the early morning light, and there was a brief moment of lucidity for Katsuki; because Kirishima looked good - like better than he’d looked over the course of the not-even-24-hours that Katsuki had known him. 

But maybe that was just the lighting, maybe it was just the reflection of the water behind him that embraced the silhouette of his body in a picturesque scene that had Katsuki spewing compliment after disgusting compliment for the man in his head. Nevermind the fact he couldn’t remember the last time he’d thought of anyone this way in any sort of lighting, in the way that held his gaze on the outline of Kirishima’s arms, over every curve and scar that he would never know the origin of, in the way that teased the bugs and beetles in his stomach mercilessly and he could only stand uselessly and dwell on. 

The water was different from anything he’d seen on the beaches he grew up on. It was clearer, almost as if it were displaying the seaweed and stones beneath the ripples behind a glass barrier instead of hiding them away under pollen-green. 

It was peaceful.

So Katsuki flattened his palms and slammed them into the water, creating a small tsunami in Kirishima’s direction in a split second. 

The disturbance was as sudden and unexpected as a gunshot would’ve been, and from what Katsuki guessed must have been instinctual shock, Kirishima’s jaw dropped, causing him to choke as soon as the water entered his mouth. 

Katsuki laughed, maniacal and crazed because holy fucking shit. 

“Dude! That’s not funny!” Kirishima tried while coughing up a lung. But Katsuki saw the grin on his face, how he kept trying to keep his eyes trained on Katsuki that only made it harder for him to focus on not choking on ocean water. 

“It is! Asshole!” Katsuki splashed him again, stance ready and hungry for a fight.

“You’re the asshole!” Kirishima shrieked as the water hit him once more, blindly scooping his own hands into the water to create an equally as big splash over Katsuki. 

The two hadn’t realised the group coming up beside them until it was too late, ten times more ocean water flying in every direction as they joined in. They laughed, and for the first time since he had known them, Katsuki laughed along with them. 

Dripping wet hair, Katsuki rubbed his hands over his face to steer the salt of the ocean from his eyes. He didn’t mind that the reason he was drenched in the first place was from some stupid splash fight at the beach with some strangers - and he wondered why that was. 

Maybe it was the fact that these people were utter strangers, that he knew nothing about them other than their names and their stupid senses of fashion that made everything he did seem so natural and acceptable. 

They couldn’t see it, with all of his vulgar language and vicious glares in the way, but Katsuki could. Because here, there was nothing to live up to, nothing that he needed to be better than and not a hint of inferiority. 

Katsuki figured that if only for a little while, he could get used to the feeling, to the warmth that spread throughout his chest along with it.

 

Chapter Text

The sea hissed at Katsuki, but he didn’t sway. 

He had already been knee deep in the glassy water by the time the muted shades of the houses behind the beach had burst with color, of blues and creams, of red front doors and bleached solar panels. 

The summer finally poured its intention of season over the water and sand and rocks and every inch of his skin that had yet to be scrubbed clean - yet to be rid of the dirt lingering under his fingernails or the soft creases on his face from where he’d almost suffocated himself on his pillow the night before. 

He almost wished he had - and decided not to dwell on the thought longer than needed. 

Instead, Katsuki wondered what the beach had looked like before they had reached it, how flat and undisturbed the sand had been all throughout the night when the tide was high and he’d been asleep with only so much as a layer of sweat blanketing him. 

He’d seen it just a few minutes ago, maybe ten, maybe twenty, yet hadn’t taken note of whether or not the waves stood as still as the sand or himself. 

It didn’t matter at that moment anyway, because messy footsteps lead to Kirishima by the shore, perched on the tips of his toes as he leant over just where the waves rolled underneath him, just where they met the wet sand and washed up the green sea glass he inspected with wide eyes. 

Ashido picked up seashells alongside him, her conversation with the man muffled from where Katsuki stood but her growing collection of shells clear to see. 

In the water Katsuki remained, peering down at the limp hands by his sides and the occasional tiny fish that’d swim by at his feet and warp his flesh under the ripples of its trail. 

It had since grown quiet once the water fight had ceased, the group scattering off in different directions to make the most of what little time they had left to soak up the risen sun before the public destroyed their solitude on the beach. 

Katsuki hadn’t even known these people a solid 24 hours yet, but he knew them well enough to know that on any occasion, no matter the time or the amount of sleep they had gotten in their subpar motel beds, they would never frown or turn away at the mere appearance of a few scattered early birds leaving their trail behind in the sand. 

The very act of a man jogging along where the sand met the weeds and shrubbery with bags under his eyes and a dog by his side would have them bounding up to scratch under the dogs chin without another thought; or families with easily excitable children building sand castles that they could give their seashell collections away to, as if they couldn’t just find their own. 

Maybe it was just Katsuki who felt the subtle pressure of a time limit that could go off any second lifting the hair on the back of his neck, maybe it was always just him. 

It wasn't like he had been making the most of the remaining quiet himself anyway - standing in ocean water that he couldn’t even tell was cool or not anymore while attempting to spot even the slightest hint of an outline of himself in the reflection. 

A thin black fish zoomed past Katsuki with a sense of duty, his eyes chasing after the movement just as the silhouette of a shoulder had started to settle in the water and he began to piece an image of himself together. 

He scowled, not entirely sure whether he had stopped upon first blinking open his eyes that morning. 

With no warning and the subtlety of a nails clawing at a chalkboard, an ear piercing scream erupted from the other side of the beach, successfully silencing everything within earshot into the kind of eery quiet that you would hear at a funeral of a distant relative, never mind the fact that the area hadn’t even whispered to begin with. 

A few hours ago, Katsuki would have completely ignored the outburst, would have paid it no mind as if it were just any other ordinary scream of glee and brushed it off as someone else's problem if it weren’t. 

But the disturbance sent a sharp chill down his spine and forced his legs into action before he could process anything at all. 

Dry, as well as just recently washed up seaweed popped up in patches as he lessened his distance from the large charcoal rocks that separated him and the panicked wailing on the other side; a patchwork of sorts that he recalled as useful tools to scare all of the other kids at the beach to the point of tears while growing up. 

Katsuki noticed the flash of red and pink in the corner of his eye just behind him, Kirishima and Ashido no doubt having dropped their collections as soon as the commotion had reached their ears to make their way over. 

The rocks were tall, yet seemed to be sturdy enough to climb with little effort, water not yet splashing against the top of them to create any hazardous surface. 

So when Katsuki met eyes with a very distressed Kaminari, who’s leg had slipped between a crack in between two of the giant rocks, he couldn’t exactly hold back his laughter. 

Sero towered over the man by his side, increasingly concerned expression on his face the longer Katsuki laughed maniacally and Kaminari barely twitched.

“What the fuck did you do?!” Katsuki barked out, muffling his grin behind a hand lazily. 

Kirishima and Ashido reached his side just as Katsuki snorted in amusement, concern with a hint of confusion clear on their faces.

“What happened?” Kirishima stepped closer to Kaminari, his footsteps not even sounding against the rough surface, seemingly ready to pull his friend out of his place wedged between the rocks without hesitation. 

Kaminari ignored Katsuki’s laughter for the time being, too focused on gritting his teeth and wincing in pain. “I- Fuck! I think I cut my leg!” 

Ashido inhaled sharply, and the trees and ocean and Kirishima gasped along with her, their intakes of breath stretching over the field of grass and trees behind them, bouncing from the rooftops and back into their lungs. 

“Holy shit, are you sure?” Sero questioned, his wide eyed stare that usually appeared vaguely spaced out completely zoned in on the scene before him, his fingers twitching by his side. Katsuki could feel his own blunt nails digging into his enclosed palm. 

Kaminari nodded, lips curling and wobbling as if he were on the verge of weeping. 

His eyes remained dry, but the blond reached a shaking hand up to roughly wipe at the ghost tears anyway, quickly attempting to play it off by dragging it down his face with a pained groan; but Katsuki saw it, and his friends saw it, and Kirishima looked to be on the verge of tears himself. Empathetic loser. 

In response, the ocean hit the rocks that they stood on with violent ferocity, bringing them back down to earth and threatening the group into quick movement. 

It was almost amusing how as soon as something disastrous had happened the sun crawled out of its hiding place and shone down eagerly, ready to glare down at Kaminari’s wound as if it were a personal offense, with little concern at all for possible blood loss or anyone overheating under its fresh rays. 

“Guess you could say I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place, huh?” Kaminari shot lazy finger guns in an attempt to lighten the mood. 

Sero and Kirishima reached to take hold of his hands to pull him out, and no one laughed. 

Katsuki clicked his tongue against his teeth. 

“You’re not stuck, you just cut your fucking leg like a dumbass.” He scowled. 

“Don’t bully him, he’s on the verge of death!” Ashido whined, her hands on her hips like a disapproving mother before she scrambled for her phone in what Katsuki could only presume to be preparation for the worst. 

He watched through narrowed eyes as she struggled for a fleeting moment, her dark eyes flicking from person to person before finally getting a hold on the phone and stilling herself, hardly moving as to not disturb the air around the group. 

Kaminari latched onto the hands held out to him with a feeble grip, and Katsuki didn’t fail to notice the way he paled once pulled up and out of his cramped position, or the way his friends matched his skin tone instantly after seeing the flash of bright red that escaped with him. 

Even Ashido’s thick layer of blush could not compensate for the pure visible shock on her face at the sheer size of the wound; at the colour that imitated Kirishima’s shade of hair yet made it appear washed out and dull at the same time. 

It ran up and down his calf, and he couldn’t tell exactly where the cut began or ended, but it was clear that no one else could either. 

Kaminari fell back onto the flat rock almost instantly, not yet having eyed the red waterfall that his leg had turned out to be. 

The blood pooled onto the rock beneath them slowly, and Katsuki could almost smell it, rusty and unwelcome and leaving a bitter taste in his mouth as he breathed in and out and attempted to hold his breath from that moment onwards. It would’ve probably stained dark red and stuck there for weeks, engraving itself into the rock until some rich prick who lived in the area could allow themselves to blame it on a dead animal clawing its way out of its potential grave. 

Kaminari blindly reached down to where his leg had to have been throbbing in pain, hissing through his teeth before his fingertips even made contact with the crimson soaked skin. It was clear to see that Kaminari knew of the injury just as well as the others, and he hadn’t even so much as squinted down at it. 

“Maybe so.” The blond finally replied to Katsuki’s earlier comment with a sigh, his hand dropping limply onto the rock at a loss for what to do. 

Katsuki squeezed his palms tighter at the sight of obvious defeat, recalling the amount of days spent as a kid staring at his very own vicious, bleeding bruises or tiny cuts that could’ve been made by paper on those very same hands, and his grip went weak - like when you’ve just woken up or completely ran out of energy and everything is a chore and you try to make a fist for some odd reason but you just can’t, it hurts, it aches, and Katsuki tried but his fingers were weak. 

He tried to find the anger in his chest, he really did - and maybe he deepened his frown just to put on a show, but he made his way over to Kaminari all the same. No one else despite Sero looked like they knew what to do next - if they should even do anything. 

Sero had since disappeared after setting eyes on his friends leg and groaning, making his way down the rocks with the caution that Kaminari had obviously lacked upon climbing up the first time. 

“Mina, where’s the nearest hospital?” Kirishima questioned, his eyes frantically flitting back and forth between the large wound and Ashido, whose nose was stuck in her phone as she searched for an answer. 

“Not for another half an hour…” 

Katsuki’s stomach churned uncomfortably, Ashido’s neon phone case that strained his eyes and he struggled to look away from surely not helping in the slightest. 

He stepped closer to Kaminari, stopping right by Kirishima’s side to inspect the long cut from above the blond.  

It was absolutely smothering, the stench of ocean water and washed up seaweed and blood pooling onto rocks that teenagers probably snuck out onto to at night when their families were asleep and the dead lamp posts didn’t even so much as flicker. 

What Katsuki wouldn’t have given to be one of those teenagers; to be familiar with the concept of second chances and at least slightly forgiven by adults because it was expected of them - they had to do the forgiving and moving on while he could continue to be as arrogant as he wanted because he’d grow out of it.  

But Katsuki hadn’t grown out of it, the proof in the distorted silhouette he left behind in ocean water and the harsh shadow he cast over Kaminari’s torso while ignoring his complaints and applying pressure to the cut with a glare that couldn’t possibly be any form of comforting. 

He didn’t grow out of it, because the people surrounding where he had crouched next to the bleeding man and speaking in high pitched and panicked hushes were all strangers, each and every one. 

Sero returned with a bright yellow shirt that Katsuki vaguely registered to be Kaminari’s, the closest nearby and his own responsibility to take care of once he snatched it out of Sero’s loose grip and instantly dyed it dark red. 

Kaminari choked on something in the back of his throat, so Katuki pulled on the shirt tighter. 

Sticky tears rolled down Kaminari’s cheeks, and Katsuki couldn’t recall when the man had even gathered the courage to peer down at the cut only to be instantly blinded by his tears, but he must have at some point. 

The tears flooded out of him with furious fervour, and Katsuki could feel Kirishima’s breath on the back of his neck from where he was peering over his shoulder and it was all so loud. 

But Kaminari didn’t say anything. 

He didn’t say anything as Katsuki fixed the shirt around his leg and begrudgingly muttered to keep his hands on the thing until they found the hospital 25 miles away. He didn’t make a snarky remark or a light hearted joke, and Katsuki would never admit it, but it felt wrong. 

Everything felt wrong. 

Just slightly, as if the waves were rolling backwards and the sun was already setting despite just rising. As if Katsuki had just noticed the trees had flipped themselves upside down and he wasn’t quite sure whether they had always been that way or if he was losing his mind. 

No one said anything, but the open stares trailing Katsuki’s back as he pulled Kaminari up roughly and shoved him in Sero’s direction spoke for themselves. He didn’t need anyone to say anything to understand their seemingly unnecessary confusion. 

As they made their way back to the car the staring did not end, and really, it was odd, Katsuki could look around at the unfamiliar faces all he wanted, but would never find anyone to blame it on but himself. 

Just yesterday this group of strangers could have very easily taken Katsuki out and stuffed his limp body into the back of their shitty car when his stamina was the only thing he had forgotten to pack with him, but no, instead he was helping them avoid fines and dying of blood loss. Instead he was helping their injured friend reach the top of the rotten steps despite his rough technique of pushing and shoving and muttered curses under his breath. 

But he wasn’t going to let someone bleed to death in front of his fucking eyes, especially is said person was friends with his only form of stability and transportation at the moment. 

Ashido was the last to slam her door shut, and once she did, it was as if all of the staring and hushed whispers outside had meant nothing at all. Maybe Katsuki hadn’t been going insane, because everyone seemed to let out a collective sigh of relief when the smothering ocean breeze finally cut off and the familiarity of the car settled in. 

Sero’s hands rested on the steering wheel with little movement, seemingly trying to gather himself before starting up either the car or a conversation that Katsuki could zone out of. 

But he was growing impatient. 

“Of course you would slice your fucking leg open within minutes of being around a sharp object.” Katsuki muttered into the dusty air, thoroughly unimpressed with the pathetic twink covered in sweat in the front seat. 

Kaminari angled his head to glare half heartedly back at Katsuki, the leather seat releasing his skin with a damp farewell as he shifted. “I’m dying and you really want your last words to me to be that?” 

“Die faster, see if I care.” Katsuki scoffed, Kirishima watching him out of the corner of his eye with a raised brow as if he were asking a question. 

Kaminari spoke up before Katsuki could give him an answer, not that he knew exactly what to say in the first place. 

“He says after taking care of my fatal wound.” He mocked in narration, slumping back into his seat with a breathy laugh. 

Katsuki stretched his leg across the backseat swiftly, past Kirishima’s lap to kick at the side of the injured mans seat, and Kirishima smiled, and Katsuki looked at him from the corner of his eye as he stared right back - his eyes reflecting only an open window, not even the slightest  hint of Katsuki’s silhouette that he’d searched so thoroughly for earlier. 

 

☀︎

 

If you told Katsuki a few days ago that his near future involved him sitting in the backseat of a strangers car with one of them bleeding out in the front while listening to Grease by Frankie Valli as they pulled into the closest, shittiest hospital in the state, he would have spat in your face. 

It was the kind of shitty fever dream that involved his hands covered in someone else’s dry blood, tugging at the fine hairs on the backs of his hands with his delayed movements that spread the sticky dark palette of reds over anything he so much as brushed due to his sweaty palms, as if he were the one bleeding instead of Kaminari. 

He may have expected his hands to be covered in Kaminari’s blood at least once before he never saw him again, but definitely not with the intention of saving the idiot. 

He couldn’t say that he had ever thought to be in this situation, but it meant nothing; no one else in the car could have possibly seen it coming either. 

Sero hummed along to the old songs that came through the muffled radio as if none of that morning had occurred at all, and Katsuki wasn’t sure if any of them would even notice if Kaminari just died on the spot without a word. 

The turn signal blinked at Katsuki, bright neon orange that ticked and ticked in a stubborn rhythm, but he couldn’t even see it. 

It unsettled him, like the loud ticking of the clock in his therapist's office when he’d run out of things to say - for people to blame or any desire for solutions to problems that seemed non existent at the time, but at second thought belonged there all the same as Kaminari's uninjured leg kicked up on the dust covered dashboard - just as Sero's steady hands that found place on the steering wheel everyday. 

And then there was the clock that had been a few minutes behind in he and Kirishima's motel room last night, and he tried not to think about how fitting that felt with how setback his mental state had been lately - as if one event could sweep his feet off the ground so effortlessly and take him back to the starting point when he'd just been an inch from reaching the finish line. 

Yesterday seemed so far away by then, just a groggy morning, afternoon and night that could’ve occurred either ten years or ten hours ago, it was all the same at that point. It all melded together. 

 

☀︎

 

The waiting room was stuffy, though it was nothing in comparison to Sero’s car. 

The chair he’d practically thrown himself down on after Kaminari had been taken away by nurses with bags under their eyes, was rock solid despite it’s cushioned surface, somehow molded in all the wrong places and still warm from the ghost of where someone else had been sitting before him. 

Except there was only one other patient in the waiting room, no one else to be seen as far as the white walls allowed him to. 

He felt as if he were in the waiting room for Hell. As if all the shit he’d said and done had finally come back to bite him in the ass in the form of an uncomfortable chair and a stingy hospital in the middle of nowhere. 

The street signs and traffic lights that they’d sped by in the car had all gone over his head, towns and kilometres as nameless as the days of the week had felt the past few days. 

Kirishima, Sero and Ashido sat in the chairs alongside him, trapping him next to the open walkway that nurses wandered through in desperate search of something to do in the uneventful hours of the early morning. 

One middle aged woman with an impressively straggly appearance sat in the corner reading a book aloud, under breath but clear enough for Katsuki to hear each and every word as if she were sat right next to him, as if they were intended for his ears alone. No one else in the waiting room even so much as glanced in her direction, and briefly, Katsuki wondered if they could even see her, why they were just ignoring her altogether as if they had agreed upon so beforehand without letting him know. 

Kirishima had swiftly taken the seat beside him once he’d sat down as if he were waiting for Katsuki to do so, and he was tense, Katsuki knew that much. His hair was still damp with ocean water, a mess of eye catching red waves that looked out of place surrounded by the ugly, white hospital walls. His brows knitted together as he glared down at his fiddling hands, his right leg repetitively bouncing up and down; knocking into Sero occasionally - but he didn’t say anything, just continued to scroll through his phone. 

Katsuki couldn’t tell whether he was so tense due to trying so hard to ignore the unsettling woman sat across from them or the fact that one of his best friends was in the hospital, maybe both, maybe neither. Kirishima didn’t give an answer that could be easily translated, just the continuous tap, tap, tap of his shoe onto the squeaky clean floor beneath them that Katsuki genuinely wanted to swallow him whole and genuinely believed that there was the slightest chance it could. 

He looked up from his twitching hands, not recalling looking down at them in the first place, and accidentally made eye contact with the woman in the corner, her wide eyes unblinking and her posture tense- as if she’d been focused on Katsuki for longer than he was able to comprehend. He didn't hesitate before scowling in her direction, watching through narrowed eyes in satisfaction as she flinched. At least she was human enough for that kind of response. 

But her reading never stopped, and he wasn’t sure if she was breathing between words; not even bothering to pause after each sentence ended, that is if there were an end at all. Katsuki didn’t think anyone in the room was breathing - he didn’t think he was breathing, and that was strange, because he could feel the rise and fall of his stomach as he curled his fingers around himself, could feel his breath piercing the heat of the waiting room with ease. 

The longer they sat there, the longer Katsuki had to resist the urge to gag at the familiar chemical smell that radiated throughout the facility. He felt as if he knew the stench that came with trips to the hospital like he knew the distinct crevices and wrinkles inside of his palms, and it tugged at the muscles in his shoulders as he hunched them up and leaned forward in his seat. 

Between the fluorescent lights and the ticking of the clock above the receptionist, Katsuki felt a wave of déjà vu drench him in guilt - and he wasn't sure whether he was ready to decipher if it were the guilt from sitting beside these strangers or the guilt of not sitting beside people he could predict the actions of without a second thought. Really, there was no deciphering needed.

Katsuki was just about to peel himself from his seat for some kind of fresh air when suddenly and seemingly without reason, the tap, tap, tap of Kirishima’s foot halted, but the ticking clock above the tired receptionist did not. The redhead shifted around for something, his cushioned chair squeaking at the movement and alerting everyone in the room of its abrasive disturbance, even the repetitive clock couldn’t save Kirishima from the eyes darting to him immediately. 

Katsuki turned to glare at the redhead, only to be met with the same nervous man he knew just 10 seconds before grinning down at him gently. Only then did Katsuki notice Kirishima’s unnaturally sharp teeth, but before he could even so much as open his mouth to ask ‘what the fuck?’ the redhead had already held out a hand with an earphone in silent offering. 

Katsuki’s brows drew together as he leaned back in his seat, reminding him of the fact that he was still very much still drying of the ocean water from half an hour before. Kirishima raised a brow, gesturing lazily at the earbud once more before he could bring himself to give up. 

Eventually, Katsuki took it, but not before realising Kirishima had handed him the wrong one for where they sat next to each other, the redhead lazily huffing a laugh as they struggled to switch around the pieces without the cord tangling together in a confusing mess and their hands brushing for longer than necessary. 

Katsuki smirked, and somehow, the nostalgic poppy 2000s song that came through the small speaker in his right ear that on any other day, he would’ve immediately taken out and crushed under his heel, didn’t seem all that headache inducing.

 

Chapter Text

Kaminari’s steps were noticeably uneven by the time he had made his way around the corner, his subtle limping in time with each irritating clank of metal sounding from the old rusted fan in the corner of the room. 

The room was tiny. Though it probably could have fit a much more generous amount of people than it had; it was cramped and warm and trapped in itself. Katsuki hadn’t lifted his leg from his chair in a while, hadn’t peeled himself from his seat as many times as Kirishima had to fidget and bounce his leg in blatant impatience, disguising it behind the beat of the songs. 

Everything stuck; skin to cloth damp with old ocean water, the sharp metal fan that Katsuki had just begun to zone out and the same upbeat tone of the songs playing in his right ear. Everything stuck, but then Katsuki looked up and noticed how the walls that caged the group inside had suspiciously turned dull and grey, how the sun had split itself into harsh lines of golden through the blinds pulled over the single window; a burial ground for overheated flies to buzz their final moments away before drowning themselves in the July sun. 

He noticed it, removed his tongue from the roof of his mouth with a scowl, and everything unstuck; shifted into motion once more as Kaminari appeared from around the corner. 

Kirishima sprung from his seat first, the earbud ripping itself out of Katsuki’s ear with the abrupt movement as he did so. The group gathered around the bewildered Kaminari in a flurry, ignoring the receptionists deadpan stare and impatient tapping of her finger to signal at least someone come over. Katsuki folded his arms, eyeing the dressing that wrapped the blondes lower leg from across the room. 

A thin white stick stuck out of Kaminari’s mouth - a lollipop, one that you were given as a kid after getting a shot and a proud look from the nurse - and he smiled through it all, the plastic bobbing up and down as he muttered reassurances with his mouth full of orange candy thats sickening stench made its way over to Katsuki. 

Kaminari might’ve been saying, “I’m all good.” but it was hard to tell, the two thumbs up he gave them all as the only lazy reassurance they were going to get. His eyes were further away than any distance Katsuki could possibly have kept between himself and the others as he rushed out of the hospital taking two steps at a time, not so much as a single glance back past his shoulder. 

Kaminari might have been dazed, but he wasn’t dazed enough to not take note of Katsuki’s quick movement and nearly get himself killed for the fifth time that morning - immediately accusing Katsuki of mocking ‘the cripled’ - but his voice was slurred and slow and Sero just shoved him forward teasingly. 

Katsuki didn’t deny anything he’d said, just let the doors slide open in silence and the summer drown him just as it had those dead flies. 

 

 ☀︎

 

The groups conversation shifted from Kaminari’s state of being rather quickly after making it out of the waiting room alive, which had taken Katsuki by surprise, he had almost convinced himself he’d have to leave the others behind. Shame. 

Sero and Kirishima had moved onto the discussion of old video games that they played or ‘totally should have’ played throughout childhood by the time they’d made their way back into the heat ridden car; the car that Katsuki had despised at the start of the morning yet just wanted to crawl back inside of for the rest of it. The vehicle was surprisingly familiar by that point, like some sort of twisted sense of nostalgia in a way - like the sweat that used to reach the back of his neck after stomping his way home back in middle school only to realise that he needed to stomp an extra few meters to drag the garbage bins in. 

Yeah, nostalgic in a bittersweet way, because he had missed the car but it was stuffy and cramped and the radio was muffled - there were signs of people he’d never known learning how to kiss and how to pay for alcohol without stuttering and growing up in general everywhere he looked. 

At least it was better than the hospital waiting room. 

And sure he had missed those afternoons after school, but then there were the afternoons where he didn’t do his chores out of spite, or simply forgot; the days where his hair was sure to be tugged at so hard he’d be surprised it hadn’t ripped out in chunks by the time the pressure ceased. 

At least it was better than being surrounded by idiots at school. 

The rearview mirror was the only heads up Katsuki was going to get in terms of his appearance, of the smudge of dried blood on his cheek that he must have mindlessly placed there over an hour ago, or the sullen line between his brows that once could've been frightening but now seemed washed out and difficult to describe as anything other than pitiful. 

Pitiful - that wasn’t a word that he had ever thought to label himself as, but it only felt right, due to everything he’d seen in the last 3 hours and would continue to see until the sun set once more. Pitiful was broken down train tracks that had buried themselves under trampled fields of grass and dirt, pitiful was shattered beer bottles on the pavement after a night of strangers drinking and pressing their lips to anything within reach, pitiful had always been those things - the things that Katsuki couldn’t allow himself to fall back on or consider at all. 

Kirishima’s shoulder brushed Katsuki’s as they reached a dip in the road, and he didn’t consider that either. 

Kirishima probably wouldn’t have cared. He probably would have laughed at the sight of empty beer bottles, recalling his own nights with friends spent drinking bad grades away - he seemed like that kind of person. Or maybe he would click his tongue at the sight of it littering the path, shake his head at the hazardous shards in disappointment - he seemed like that kind of person as well. 

But Katsuki wasn’t and never had been that kind of person. He’d never noticed useless shit like that, never tried to relate them to whatever the fuck else was going on in his head and definitely didn’t look back once more in passing. 

So he didn’t. Katsuki kept his eyes down on his calloused hands, on his fingers that twitched once in a while for seemingly no reason. He hadn’t been made to wonder, to wear a strangers blood on his face that hadn’t been made by his own hands; had never prepared himself to see this part of the state where the road broke down into the dirt and built itself back up again a few miles later, and especially not without a destination in mind. 

Kaminari had been fumbling around with the radio for a while, the unstable static rising and falling in volume occasionally, and Kirishima had stopped his insistent shifting to gaze at the injured man so critically that Katsuki could feel it. 

“Just because you cut your leg open on a rock does not mean you get to hog the radio, dude.” Kirishima leaned forward as he spoke up. “You had one job.” He groaned, his back curving and squeezing between the two front seats and over the legs Ashido had kicked up on the compartment separating the driver and the wounded without a care in the world. Kirishima slapped Kaminari’s hands away as Ashido yanked back her feet at the sudden disruption, the volume of the car steadily increasing after just a few seconds of quiet. 

“That’s not very epic gamer of you, bro.”

Kirishima, in response, blew a loud raspberry in the man’s direction, resulting in a scoff coming from the front seat and amused giggles from the others. Katsuki rolled his eyes. 

“Y’know what I think? I think Bakugou is a bad influence on you!” 

Katsuki raised an eyebrow at that. Kirishima only grinned, leaning into Katsuki’s side and cupping a hand around his mouth before speaking for dramatic effect. Katsuki pushed him off before he could even open his mouth, but still, the redhead laughed. “Hoes mad.” 

“Yeah, hoes with a leg wrapped in bandages, Kirishima. Bandages! Have some sympathy for the cripled.”
“Why don’t you have some sympathy for the baby in the car, hm?” Ashido spoke up, met with blank stares of utter confusion before gesturing to herself frantically. “Me! I’m the baby! I already lost front seat privileges today because someone-” Her hands found their way to either side of Kaminari’s seat, attempting to shake the man to prove a point. “-almost died this morning.”
“Your point?” He raised an eyebrow.

Katsuki huffed.
Realistically, he knew that someone would figure out the radio eventually, he knew that they’d reach a gas station for a break and some touristy bullshit would catch one of the idiots eyes and shut them up for a while - but at the same time, he knew the bickering wouldn’t end, he knew that these people were just like this, so he didn’t really know why he had settled for his silencing words to be;

“Her point is that I’ll turn you into a real goddamn criple if you don’t shut the fuck up right now.” 

But they worked. 

 

☀︎

 

Eijirou could’ve taken the chance if he really wanted to. 

Not that there was much of a chance to take, not much of a risk that came with laying on the flat surface of cooling concrete that hundreds of people had probably already walked on by the time he’d reached it. 

It could graze his elbows as he lowered himself if he wasn’t careful, and the final product, ultimately, would probably have disappointed him, but it was tempting. 

No, that wasn’t much of a chance to take, but another chance sat right beside him, with boots that could probably kick his teeth in and hands that were, for once, not stuffed inside of pockets but rather flat next to Eijirou’s; on the hood of the burnt orange car that groaned under their combined weight - over the rust and dirt and dollar store stickers that he picked at idly. 

Even this, this boring and quiet moment that he’d probably only remember as another moment spent waiting and waiting as the sun that he wasn’t sure he could even feel anymore roasted him alive, he could let it slip by so easily. Just as easily as he could slip his hands from the back of the car and sprint down the street, feel the familiar burn in his calves as he ran and ran until he tripped up on his own feet or set his heels ablaze from the friction on the flammable road. 

The street would probably turn to a strange, distant buzzing by the time he sat himself back inside of the car again, everything had. 

But the buzzing was okay, despite his fear of them as a kid, bumble-bee’s were pretty sick. 

Ashido and Kaminari had spread out inside of the car, doors on all sides wide open to let in the summer breeze while simultaneously shielding them from the slight sun that on any other day they'd be seen basking in. 

The road stood still on that end of the street, despite the small distance from buildings that grazed the clouds and disturbed their shape. No drifting cars or wind rustled the papers scattered over the dashboard that no one knew the origin of, didn’t even shuffle around the leaves sheltering the wide and empty street from the sun. 

The silhouette of the leaves above them cast distinct patterns and kaleidoscopes of shapes over everything. Over their hands, over the car that he and Bakugou sat on while waiting for Sero’s return, over his tired limbs and over Bakugou’s as well. 

The quilt had been handmade by the sun itself, and Eijirou hadn’t seen it sew the unsteady stitches, but he had always had a vivid imagination. How soothing that would’ve been, to have observed the sun rise and rise and rise until oddly shaped flecks made of the light above them littered the road they had parked on. 

A second flew by - Eijirou blinked, and then it was gone, another chance not taken in favour of rocking back on his heels in silence. 

Bakugou bounced a finger on the surface of the car impatiently - the hollow tap, tap, tap zapping Eijirou’s hand over and over - drumming a rhythm that traveled all the way up to his elbow and past his shoulder. His hand twitched, so he pulled it back. 

Another second flew by, and the opportunity was still there, but Eijirou didn’t even know what it was yet and wasn’t feeling particularly bold after already being caught up in a stuffy hospital once that morning. Once was enough, in fact, once was far too many, and he couldn’t exactly trust Bakugou not to use those boots to his advantage if Eijirou’s curiosity gained control over his limbs like a puppeteer. 

He would’ve much rather taken the chance to spread out under the shade of the trees that lined each side of the street they had stopped at, the thin, worn material of his shirt as the only thing separating his bare back from the path; and he almost did, although the sudden click of a car door opening behind them startled him out of his fantasy. 

The crinkling of the plastic bags in Sero’s hands was almost enough to drown out the bustling group on the opposite end of the street, a crowd of talkative parents and kids that looked like they’d rather be anywhere else. 

“Would’ve been nice if you helped, y’know.” Sero muttered, leant half inside of the car as he grabbed for their lunches inside of the bags that he’d set down on the backseat - where the sun couldn’t reach and Kaminari had once been spread out with the door on the other side of the car wide open.  

Kirishima rolled his eyes, fully aware that the man wasn’t serious. 

Kaminari ignored Sero’s comment and snatched the bag of gummy worms from his grip instead. The car dipped as he settled by Kirishima's side, his gaze steady on the eye-catching crowd a fair distance away from them. “What d’you think they’re doing?” He questioned, ripping open the bag and stuffing at least five worms into his mouth. 

Bakugou’s face screwed up into the epitome of disgust, lifting himself off the back of the car to snatch the bag out of Kaminari’s grubby hands effortlessly. Eijirou smiled.

“Isn’t it fucking obvious? They’re at church, dumbass.” Bakugou spat, rolling his eyes while keeping a fair distance from the greedy man before him. 

And yeah - that probably should’ve been obvious, with the giant cross perched at the top of the magnificent stone building that was almost impossible to miss - with the stained glass windows that caught in the light as if it were prey in a spiders web, fading the once colourless patterns of the shadows into an out of place neon palette. 

The crowd had on their best clothes, and Eijirou hadn’t even realised it was Sunday, too caught up in the unfamiliar scenery and situations to take note of the day of the week that’s 24 hour time limit seemed endless - blurred into a single drawn out avoidance of anything waiting at home instead of how many days it had really been - how many hours that his parents hadn’t thought twice about his reasoning for him going on this road trip. 

Eijirou was clueless as to how Kaminari had gotten the bag of gummy worms back into his hold, but the bag was shoved into his face before he could even so much as glance around for the man who had to have given it back at some point. 

His stomach twisted uncomfortably at the sickeningly sweet smell that he had no choice but to breathe in. The artificial cherries and excess sugar that the blond would no doubt pour into his mouth once the bag was finished, wafted through the air and intoxicated the sticky summer breeze with it’s stench. 

“You okay, dude?” Kaminari asked, his eyebrows quirked into slight concern - as if he could read Kirishima’s mind like he could read the instructions for any electronic device after being electrocuted a few months back. 

Eijirou didn’t hear anything come out of his mouth, no forced indication of reassurance that clawed its way out of his throat or noncommittal hum. 

He nodded instead, averting his gaze to where the others had begun their trek to a table in the park they had stopped at, void of any families or kids since they had occupied themselves at the other end of the street - and followed after them. 

Eijirou may have not been aware of the days of the week, but by the birds meeting his eyes in the middle of the green grass, hopping around carelessly as if they weren’t surrounded by tall brick buildings and old houses with iron porch railing, he could tell they were at least somewhat closer to their destination - to tour buses and rowdy crowds that Bakugou probably would’ve still managed to find a way to stand out amongst. 

And that thought was kind of dumb, a little bit pointless, because he hadn’t even talked to the blond about where they were headed in the first place, nevermind asked him to stay with them for that long. 

He took a seat across from Ashido - across from where he knew she and Sero were discreetly holding hands under the old wooden table yet continued on preparing lunch with one hand as if their proximity was still unknown. Eijirou wasn’t entirely sure why they hadn’t bothered to tell him and Kaminari about the expanse of their relationship, but figured they were his friends - they’d speak up when they were ready. 

The thought that a road trip was the perfect time didn’t linger around long, interrupted by the groups chatter and hungry hands reaching around for food. 

Bakugou’s voice usually left Eijirou feeling a little lightheaded, the deep scrape of it against his throat that seemed so harsh, as if he were always on the verge of yelling - Eijirou tried to focus on that instead of the crowd around the church, instead of the kids that tugged on their mothers sleeves as a silent plea to leave. 

He couldn’t bring himself to tear his eyes from the unfamiliar setting just a few houses away, between the sun that shone over the park they sat in and the entirely new and entirely unfamiliar sun that shone through the stained glass windows and over white shirts. 

He hadn’t exactly grown up in a religious household, hadn’t gone to a religious school whatsoever - but the sight of the distant families caught him in glancing the rearview of his own childhood. 

He watched it go by, the new and sudden breeze picking it up and washing it away by the time Kaminari spoke up by his side. 

What Kaminari said probably would have gone over his head if it weren’t for the immediate silence that followed, so he looked up, meeting Bakugou’s eyes across the table as he did. They flickered away. 

“I get that you don’t know where you’re going, but don’t you wanna know where we’re going?” 

That was what Kaminari had asked. The most it had received from Bakugou was a shrug as he built his sandwich layer by layer, glaring down at the ingredients as if they had burnt his house down and stepped in a field of flowers he had grown himself. 

“Feel fucking free to enlighten me.” He grumbled, finally, and Eijirou let out a breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding. 

“Well-”
“No, no, no!” Kaminari interrupted as soon as Eijirou opened his mouth, leaning into his side to hang an arm around his shoulders casually. “Let me tell the story.”

There was a groan or two from across the table. They all knew what this meant. 

“So I know you probably wanted me all for yourself, blasty, but I hate to break it to you…” He paused, shrieking as Bakugou swung a fist dangerously close to his face from across the table. Eijirou shook his head wordlessly, trying and failing to suppress his grin. “I have a girlfriend! She’s like - the goth gf dream! Y’know?” Kaminari settled back into place, that time keeping his hands to himself. 

Eijirou giggled at the amusing thought of Jirou’s reaction if she ever got the chance to hear Kaminari say that - the shock, embarrassment, anger, and finally, satisfaction after landing a whack to Kaminari’s face with that obviously little malicious intent that Eijirou had always noticed - even before they had gotten together. 

Bakugou didn’t seem as amused as he and the others.

“You think I give a shit?” He spat, “That doesn’t fucking tell me where you’re going!”
Kaminari didn’t falter for a second. “Ah but it does!” He raised a finger and an eyebrow, and Eijirou thought he was going to continue on with his point - but he stayed quiet. 

Bakugou slammed his hands down onto the table - disturbing Eijirou’s soda can that left a ring of condensation behind once it settled down again a few inches away. “Then fucking continue, you dumb piece of shit!” He snapped at him. Kaminari let the finger he had raised linger on his chin for a moment in thought, frowning.
“I really don’t like that tone on you, kind sir.” He bickered back eventually. Eijirou rolled his eyes.
“What he was getting at,” Eijrou interjected before anyone could get a say. “Is that his girlfriend is in a band. She’s busy all Summer playing shows and stuff so we’re following her around to listen to her play and do touristy shit while we’re at it.” He shrugged nonchalantly, turning his soda can around in a loop. 

Bakugou raised his own can of soda to his lips as Eijirou spoke - swallowing, exhaling, and eventually biting down on his lip as he muttered, “Is she any good?” 

He wasn’t exactly trying to be pleasant all of a sudden, his tone still laced with annoyance as always and the ever present scowl still on his face, but Ejirou could tell he was genuinely curious, and that was enough for him.
“Well I’d hope so for her sake!” He laughed, and Sero was laughing along with him - his mouth full of his sandwich and yeah- that definitely had to be a hazard. 

Eijirou turned back to Bakugou, only just realising how hard it was to maintain eye contact with the man as he stared back at him - he felt it burn, watched the flame evaporate after a second or two from the corner of his eye and smiled. “You’d probably get along with her actually.”
Bakugou scoffed at that. “If her standards are low enough to date dunce face then I fucking doubt it.” He barked.

“Hey!” Kaminari shouted, his irritation muffled by the amount of food stuffed into his mouth. 

Eijirou nudged Bakugou in his side just slightly to gain his attention back - and he marveled at the fact that it seemed to work every time.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.” He swallowed a lump in his throat. “You should totally come to one of her shows with us!” He offered, sure that if any time were to bring it up it would be at that moment.

Bakugou obviously hadn’t agreed, taking a bite of his sandwich to occupy himself as he glared off to the side, to the countless tiny birds that had gathered around the park, to the golden beams of light that reached specific areas that Eijirou wasn’t sure he’d ever be a part of. 

Some answers couldn’t be given quite yet, and Eijirou found no problem in it, devouring his own lunch in sync with the blond and allowing the quiet to linger on, to give the birds around them a voice and the crowd an empty street to fill their echoed conversation with. 

 

☀︎

 

When the silhouette of Kaminari’s arm disturbed the dusty, empty windshield reached in the direction of the side of the road that was barely visible, Katsuki had to sit on his hands to keep himself from instantly strangling the life out of the already injured man for his insistence that they stop. 

Katsuki had been convinced by that point that the car was being driven without any sort of navigation or consideration after all the hours he’d spent spent roasting inside of it that day - if they had been making right turns or taking the wrong exits on dead freeways that they drifted through occasionally. 

No one seemed to mind anyway. 

The headlights on Sero’s car seemed to be the only thing that wasn’t outdated, the beaming lights cutting through the darkness that the night had spilled over their faces and eyes and hands some time ago with ease. 

If Katsuki had a lighter, he was sure that their trail would be set ablaze within a second, their path practically pouring gasoline with each kilometre of quiet conversation that dragged on and on in a continuous spiral of meaningless background noise. 

The minutes didn’t stop, and Katsuki watched as the dark blue air covered everything behind them once they’d zoomed past, watched as the empty beach Kaminari had pointed out came into view and heard the crunch of gravel beneath the tires as they pulled in.  

The old yellow light above the two front seats had remained on all throughout their journey - the light that everyone’s parents used to tell them was illegal to flicker on for even a second when they were kids and the one rule that seemed to have been a universal fear of breaking all the way through to their adolescence. Kirishima hadn’t hesitated though, too careless, too free of any possible responsibilities that chased after their hazardous fire trail outside of the car to ponder over such meaningless concepts or memories - ones that Kaminari had immediately brought up once the warm glow reached his face and altered his features. 

Katsuki’s ass ached from sitting in the same worn seat for hours on end - the lack of leg space due to being crammed behind Sero and his abnormally long legs having finally caught up to him - and that was even after demanding he push his seat forward multiple times, threatening to cover his eyes and kill them all if he didn’t. The result wasn’t even worth the goddamn effort. 

Still, he made no move to get up as quickly as Ashido or Kaminari had once the engine purred to a halt, weighing his options as he pushed open his door of having to deal with shoes weighed down by heavy sand or simply staying behind. He stood on rusty legs littered with pins and needles, ruffling his hands through his hair as the others groaned their sighs of relief.  

No bush or trees or rickety old steps separated them from the view of the beach this time, the only barrier the group had to face being their eyes adjusting to the night that enveloped them after only a few seconds and the mildly steep downward hill that faded into silver sand - the lamp posts on the other side of the empty road deemed useless. 

The car had it’s back turned to the beach, leaving the passengers to spin on their heels and take it in as they stretched their limbs; the flat, vast, and dark, dark ocean bringing the few intrigued of the group closer to the shore clumsily. 

Katsuki stood still. 

Sero shifted on his feet for a moment before moving to lift open the large car boot with a groan as if it were a heavy treasure chest, the golden rays inside of the car gleaming over his face in a way that mocked gold and jewels and everything that a group of college students that had a bunch of weed stuffed lazily into their glovebox and debt to their name wouldn’t even get a glimpse of. 

Sero and Ashido didn’t seem to mind, their faces lit up with the same obnoxious smiles that Katsuki had already learned to grow sick of, the excitement clear on their faces as if they had just won the lottery. 

The white, translucent plastic bag that Sero tugged out of its place in the boot clattered with the giveaway sound of glass and wrinkling plastic, and Katsuki seethed; realising that, of course, that was what had been driving him insane all throughout the day - when they passed a roundabout or sharp corner and gravity forced he and Kirishima’s personal space barriers to shrink each time. The bottles clashing into one another as well as the burning paper under the windshield fluttering about in the breeze, made for an entire list as to why Katsuki was so ‘grumpy’ by the time the redhead had gotten the guts to point it out - and received an elbow to the stomach in response. 

Sero pulled out a bottle of beer that reflected their faces back at them, stretched out, so Katsuki turned to gaze to one of the car mirrors instead. He only saw his torso, his defying arms folded over his chest that he had just realised made him look as childish as everyone expected him to be. He stuffed his hands into his pockets, kicking at the stones and gravel underneath his feet with a huff. 

Sero passed a bottle to Ashido with a wide grin, throwing the next into Kaminari’s general direction to which he swiftly caught it. 

Sero raised an eyebrow at Katsuki in question. 

“I’m staying here.” Katsuki heard himself say - as if these people trusted him enough to leave him alone with their car without a second thought. He internally face palmed. 

Except, of-fucking- course , no one brought it up. 

What? Bakugou you gotta join us, it’s part of the experience!” Ashido pouted, cracking open the bottle in her hand effortlessly and not bothering to break the dull eye contact as she took a tentative sip. 

Katsuki rolled his eyes, sure that he had begun a losing game yet refusing to give in. 

From the other side of the car, Kirishima sighed, appearing next to Sero as he snatched a bottle from the bag with ease. “I think I might actually stay behind as well, guys. My legs hurt like hell.” 

“Not you too, Kirishima!” Ashido gasped, hands placed on her hips in a disappointed manner that the night did nothing to accentuate the pettiness of. “They hurt like hell because you’ve been stuck in the car all day. Come on, come on a walk with us!” She insisted, stepping into the combined light of the golden beam inside of the car that flickered as if it were fluent in morse code, and the moonlight that reflected onto their skin as if they were made of silver.
Kirishima rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish smile. “Nah I’m good - seriously.” He exhaled a laugh, transparently forced. 

The redheads languid steps sounded against the stones under his sneakers with hard cracks and crunching, the car squeaking in protest as he settled down on the edge of the open boot. 

Ashido’s shoulders slumped, taking another swig of her drink. “Okay, but don’t come running to me when you want a drink.”
“I would never.” The redhead grinned, swinging his legs in the nonexistent breeze as if he were a child - and the action and the look on his face hung in the air for a few more sticky moments, just, stuck, before the others moved again. 

Maybe it was the confusing lighting that delayed everything, maybe it was just the lethargic energy that a road trip left behind, but soon enough the three stumbled further into the night, plastic bags in hand.