He should have noticed.
For the past three years they had been practically inseparable. It was a rare occasion that they went twenty-four hours without seeing each other, and if they did, they were still talking on the phone or sending messages the entire time, so how had he not seen the signs?
“How do you feel, Kacchan?” he asked, trying his best to speak clearly. “Are you okay?”
“I'm fine,” Bakugou grunted, glaring at him for his concern. “Leave it alone.”
“But Kacchan, I want to-”
Midoriya sighed, but nodded, instead shuffling a little closer on the couch and letting Bakugou pull him into his lap. It was just as comfortable as always, leaning into his warmth with the arms looped around his waist, his own hands sitting on top of Bakugou's as if he were holding them in place, preventing him from letting go. Tonight, though, it came with a hint of reluctance too. He wanted to talk about it, wanted to plan and reassure and research, but all Bakugou wanted to do was shut him out.
He reached for the remote, hitting a couple of buttons, and Bakugou glared at him again when the captions popped up along the bottom of the screen.
“Humour me!” he insisted, wriggling in closer and turning his head to plant a kiss on Bakugou's cheek. “I want to see what it's like.”
“I swear to God if you don't fuckin' drop it I'm gonna leave your ass.”
“Just give me five minutes, Kacchan. Five minutes to talk then I'll gladly drop it, okay?”
“Please, Kacchan? I'll do anything.”
He pried himself from Bakugou's grip, turning instead to straddle his lap, leaning in so close their foreheads almost touched.
“Fuck. Five minutes, not a second more.”
“Thank you, Kacchan!”
“Clock's ticking, nerd.”
“Okay so I know what the doctors said, I got a rundown from work – and yes, I know, confidentiality or whatever but it's me Kacchan, so don't argue about that right now. I'm just really mad at myself because I should have noticed, you know? I should have seen the signs and I didn't and I'm such a terrible boyfriend, I could have helped.”
“You're not, it's not like that.”
“Then what is it like, Kacchan? Talk to me!”
There was a pause for a moment, silence other than the TV in the background, and Bakugou pulled Midoriya's head to his shoulder lightly.
“I knew it was happening and I just... I hoped it would go away. I wanted to pretend.”
“Because how am I supposed to be a fucking hero like this?!” he demanded, making Midoriya cringe. “What happens when a fuckin' villain sneaks up on me and I don't hear them coming?!”
Midoriya tried to move his head away but Bakugou held firm, and it took him a moment to understand.
“Kacchan, they told you, right? Technology is amazing, they have all sorts of tools that can help you and-”
“Like fuck. You expect me to run around town with big-ass computers stuck in my ears? No fuckin' way. I have a reputation to uphold, shitty Deku.”
“We can research it together,” Midoriya told him firmly, again trying to sneak out of the grip and again being denied. “I'm sure there are options that would work, Kacchan. There have to be! You're Ground Zero, someone will make you something that works!”
“Oh yeah and leave me vulnerable to technological terrorism if we pick the wrong person,” he scoffed. “Sounds perfect, thanks nerd.”
“Don't abandon the idea just yet, okay? Promise me you'll at least consider it. I'll come with you to the next appointment and we'll work something out.”
“There's not gonna be a next appointment.”
Midoriya finally forced his way out of the grip, cupping Bakugou's face between his hands firmly and locking eyes with the gorgeous rubies, shining with unfallen tears.
“Kacchan, it'll get worse. If you keep going like you are now it'll just get worse and then you won't be able to work anymore because you didn't take this time to learn things. You have time, Kacchan. Years of time. Let's make the most of it, okay? Together. We'll learn.”
Midoriya smiled softly, kissing the corners of his boyfriend's eyes where stray tears leaked through unpermitted. This was the man he'd known and loved since he was just a toddler, and it didn't take a genius to know that when it came to Bakugou, anything other than the word “no” was a yes.
“I researched some stuff before you got home, want to see?!” he asked excitedly, lighting up as he reached for his laptop under the table. “It's gonna be great, Kacchan! You should see all the stuff that's out there!”
Bakugou grumbled at him but didn't immediately shove him away, so he settled in Bakugou's lap and turned off the television, pulling up a folder full of bookmarks on his laptop screen.
“Look at this! It's a bracelet that reacts to loud noises like alarms and sirens, isn't that cool?!”
“I can hear a fucking siren.”
“I know that, but it came up in my search and I just thought it was neat! Okay look at this one, then. It uses lights and vibrations to notify people for things like phones ringing or doorbells or even alarms. I know you can hear those things but look at it, Kacchan!”
“Yeah, it's cool, I guess,” he mumbled, leaning his cheek against Midoriya's hair lightly. “Could be handy for people who start watching hero news and forget they're cooking, too.”
“Okay, point taken!” he laughed, reaching up to caress Bakugou's cheek fondly. “Are you gonna get mad if I show you hearing aids?”
Bakugou sighed, and didn't answer for a moment, letting Midoriya hover his fingers over the mouse button nervously.
“Fine, asshole, whatever.”
“Okay! Look Kacchan! This one fits right inside your ear canal so you can't even see it! They say it's good up to moderately severe hearing loss, which is a thousand times worse than the mild you're at, so it could be worth considering, don't you think? Even just to try it out and see what you think?”
“If it's mild, why do I even need one in the first place?” he grumbled.
“Because it'll help! I mean, supposedly. You could test it and see.”
“This one is cool too,” he grinned, clicking over to another tab. “It's a little bigger, but not much, and you can control it through your phone and even connect it to other devices! You could get the sound from the TV straight into your ears!”
“Might be handy for tuning you out.”
“Oh haha, very funny,” Midoriya pouted. “You can just turn them off if you don't want to hear me, anyway.”
“I'm hearing you right now, aren't I, fucker?”
“I mean in the future Kacchan! I know you're fine right now but they said it'll probably get worse and I know you don't want to think about that because it makes you scared and Kacchan is never scared of anything, but it's me. It's your Deku. You're allowed to be vulnerable sometimes!”
“Shut up,” Bakugou scowled, shoving him off and slamming the laptop closed. “Enough of this bullshit.”
“Please, Kacchan! I just want to help!”
“I don't need your fucking help!”
“I know you don't need it but that doesn't mean you can't accept it!”
Bakugou froze for a moment, as if the thought had never occurred to him before, and tentatively Midoriya reached for his hand.
“Kacchan, please,” he said softly. “I know you're fine, I know you're doing well and coping and you're good but this is to make your life better and easier, why is that such a bad thing? Would you refuse to get glasses, too, if your vision started to get blurry?”
“I'm supposed to be a hero.”
“You are a hero. You'll always be a hero. We have whole companies dedicated to making support gear for us to wear as heroes to make our lives easier. Just think of it as support gear.”
“You make a fucking convincing argument,” Bakugou conceded, letting Midoriya climb back into his lap. “How long did it take you to write that speech?”
“I know you, Kacchan,” he smiled. “You're the love of my life, I know how you think.”
“I love you.”
“I loooove you.”
“Iiiiii loooooove youuuuuu!”
“Fucking hell! I love you too! Now shut it!”
Midoriya grinned as he wound his arms around Bakugou's neck, leaning in close and kissing the spot under his ear lightly.
“And Kacchan, I'll never think any less of you for accepting help, okay? I'll still love you no matter what, and I'll still think you're the most handsome guy in the world no matter how big your hearing aids are.”
“I mean it.”
“I know you do, asshole.”
They fell silent for a moment, snuggled together in a pile, until Bakugou rubbed his cheek against Midoriya's lightly, tickling him with stubble.
“You have to come with me,” he said quietly. “If you want me to go.”
“I wouldn't miss it for the world.”