Fuck, but stake-outs were boring. There's only so much shit to talk about with your partner, there's only so much fucking coffee you can drink, there's only so much space in your goddamn bladder before you start thinking about breaking and entering yourself just to use the goddamn bathroom.
That's what Officer Bakugou Katsuki was thinking as he took yet another ill-advised sip of his now-cold coffee. He knew he should stop drinking it, but every sip saved him from having to actually acknowledge the celebrity gossip his partner insisted on discussing, since they'd long exhausted the topics of active case files, their days at the academy, home life and even the weather. Katsuki thought eventually Officer Ashido Mina would run out of celebrity gossip, too, but it seemed every day was some new scandal, some new juicy tidbit to dish on. And Ashido, while excellent at her job, seemed to have a weakness for celebrities and their lives.
This house better get fucking robbed tonight, Katsuki thought, swirling the dregs of the coffee in his cup. At least this time, he'd filled out all the correct paperwork, followed all the right procedures, alerted all the appropriate up-lines, so that he wouldn't have to half-ass an excuse like the last three times. Telling the police chief "I was in the area to get a cup of coffee at midnight" wasn't going to fly again.
And he'd actually caught one of these thieving, arsonist assholes last time. It burned that he'd been forced to let them go on the technicality that he was off-duty and out of his jurisdiction when he made the arrest.
For almost a year now, Katsuki had been tracking the movements of a petty gang of criminals with the MO to break into a home, usually when its occupants were on vacation, steal whatever could be carried easily (usually money, jewelry or valuable collectibles) and then torch the house before making their getaway. So far, the gang was responsible for nearly a hundred thousand dollars in stolen goods, and over half a million dollars in damages to homes and property. To date, no one had ever been hurt--the homes were always empty when the criminals broke in--but that didn't mean there weren't victims. Katsuki was going to enjoy bouncing at least one of these assholes off the hood of his car while he read them their rights.
Ten minutes after the hour, Katsuki held up a hand to his partner's endless chatter and flicked on the radio, checking in with the other cars staking out the other homes he'd identified as possible targets. When everyone reported in that everything was quiet, Katsuki snapped off the radio with a muttered curse.
"Tell me again why you think it'll be tonight?" Ashido asked, stretching long in the passenger seat.
"The timing is right. They strike every holiday weekend. That's when the most families go on vacation." That was the reasoning that had gotten him the authorization for this stake-out.
"Okay, but then why are we only watching four homes?" Ashido asked. "Lots of people are on vacation right now. Hell, my house is empty right now; I don't have a guard outside watching it for arsonists."
"They always target upper middle-class homes, ones without security systems." Katsuki kept his eyes forward. They were parked half a block from the house he suspected might get robbed tonight. If they were too close, they might be seen and then the whole stake-out would have been for nothing and Katsuki would never get permission for another one. "There are only four homes in the area that match the usual profile. So as long as they stick to the pattern, they'll hit one of these houses tonight."
"I had to miss my brother's barbecue this weekend for this," Ashido pouted. "Did I tell you my nephew is almost walking now?"
"Three times. Tonight." Katsuki eyed his cardboard coffee cup, wondering how offended Ashido might get if he pissed in it. Seriously, the worst part of stake-outs: No bathroom.
"You could have come, too, you know," Ashido offered, linking her fingers and stretching her arms out. "You didn't have to schedule a stake-out just because you didn't have any plans for--"
A flicker of movement in the street ahead had both of them jerking their heads around, staring forward. A weighty silence filled the undercover car as they waited, watched, scarcely breathing. The shadows of the doorstep were difficult to see through, but then the door swung open a crack and a shadow slipped through, an ink stain against mottled shadows.
"That's it," Katsuki whispered. "We have movement."
"Radioing for back up," Ashido reported, reaching for the handheld unit.
"I'm going through the back," Katsuki told her, easing the door open. "Cover the front."
"Right. Remember, Bakugou, they haven't hurt anyone and no one's home, so--"
"Yeah, yeah, nonlethal takedowns only, I got it." He didn't bother closing the car door all the way; he didn't want the noise to alert the burglars. The front door had opened from the inside to let the shadow in, so likely there was someone inside already. And from past experience, there would likely be a getaway car to pick the criminals up after their haul, but Katsuki was happy to let his back up chase that one down; he wanted to catch the fucking arsonist red-handed.
The house had a low, decorative gate around it and without knowing how squeaky the hinges might be, Katsuki was forced to step over it, swallowing a curse as the cuff of his pants caught on a wooden post. He checked his pepper spray, his taser, his handcuffs and, yes, he checked his gun, too. Just because these assholes hadn't hurt anyone yet didn't mean they weren't armed. Handguns were among the items stolen from their previous robberies, so it wasn't outside the scope of possibility that they'd armed themselves. Katsuki leaned around the corner of the house, keeping an eye open for a lookout. When the coast appeared to be clear, he eased around to the back door, noting where it had been broken at the hinges with what was most likely a pry bar.
Pry bar counts as a weapon, Katsuki thought, his hand drifting to his gun. Then he bared his teeth and intentionally reached for his taser instead. Had to do this by the book. And anyway, these guys deserved a nice long prison stay, not the sharp reprieve of a clean death.
Katsuki inched through the broken door, watching and listening hard for movement. He was in a mudroom of some sort--shoes, boots, jackets and outside-wear littered the floor, making him watch his step as much as the doorway ahead of him. He froze as he heard the scrape of a step, a half-uttered curse and then the soft thump of something falling on carpet. He eased back against the wall as padded steps crossed the room close enough that he could have reached out and touched one of the burglars.
If Katsuki had to guess, he'd say the thieves were consolidating their haul near the front door, likely preparing for their getaway car. Which meant they'd be starting a fire soon. Katsuki's hand hovered over his taser, silently wishing for Ashido to hurry the fuck up and kick in the front door.
There was the gentle thud of cabinets opening and closing, a shushing step followed by the rummaging of small objects, like one of the burglars was looking for a snack while he waited.
Or an accelerant.
Arson experts had already confirmed that each fire had been started with common household items, most likely whatever the arsonist found during the break in. Usually cooking oil, but sometimes lighter fluid, gasoline or chemical cleaners.
Katsuki couldn't wait for Ashido any longer.
He checked to make sure his badge was in plain sight, clipped to his vest, then grabbed his flashlight and his taser from his belt, leaping around the doorway.
"Police! Hands up!"
He noted only distantly that he was standing in a family's darkened kitchen, odd shapes scattered around the room. Something heavy fell to the floor, something full of liquid judging by the glug-glug sounds that followed. The burglar had his back to Katsuki, hands held at shoulder height, seemingly empty.
"That's right, scumbag, just--"
A sudden noise from the front room--he only registered later that it was the sound of the door being kicked in, along with Ashido's announcement of herself--made Katsuki jump. He spun and fired his taser towards the commotion on reflex. In the instant that his attention was diverted, he heard a soft "click" and turned back in time to see a dim, flickering light in one of the burglar's hands. He watched, almost as if in slow motion, as a lighter fell free of the burglar's hand. A second before it hit the floor, the flame caught and flared, illuminating a dropped jug of cooking oil as well as piles of blankets, pillows and towels, likely gathered from across the house for the sole purpose of serving as kindling for the fire.
The burst of light seared Katsuki's eyes, making him cover them instinctively. Blinking through his ruined night vision, Katsuki saw the shadowy figure cover his face with a hand, then run for the front door. Katsuki shouted a warning for Ashido, though he expected she was already dealing with the arsonist's accomplice. The floor was slick with oil that was quickly going up in flames. Katsuki scooped up a towel from the floor, flicked it open and threw it over the brightest part of the spreading flames, using it to step over the oil. It flared up again in his wake, but at least it helped him cross the room unburned. He raced into the living room just in time to see the front door swinging shut.
"I got this one! Go get the other one!" his partner hollered. Katsuki saw a reflected flash of light from her handcuffs: She was kneeling over the prone form of the accomplice.
"Watch out for the fire!" Katsuki shouted over his shoulder as he barreled out the front door after the arsonist. A car was still screeching to a stop at the curb outside the house even as the arsonist ripped open the passenger door and shouted for the driver to go. Katsuki bolted for the undercover cop car, scrabbling at the still-open driver's door and throwing himself behind the wheel. He grabbed the radio in one hand as he wrenched the wheel around in his other, reporting that he was in pursuit of at least two burglars. He dropped the radio once he was finished, slamming on the brakes to follow the getaway car through a sharp turn.
The driver in the getaway car must have been panicked, because after only a few twists and turns in the residential neighborhood, he ended up turning into a cul de sac. Katsuki drifted his car sideways to block the road, groping blindly for his loudspeaker to demand the thieves come out of the car with their hands up. Before he could find the handheld piece of the unit, the getaway car's engine roared, the tires squealing. Katsuki braced for an impact, then watched, startled, as the car drove up over several lawns, knocked over a mailbox, then roared back up the way it had come. Katsuki cursed, kicked his car back into gear, and followed.
This time, the driver found the correct route out of the neighborhood and onto one of the main thoroughfares through town. Katsuki turned on his siren and lights, though thankfully it was late enough at night that no one else was on the road. He was aware of his radio blaring, asking for his status, his location, his back up, but he couldn't focus on it at all. If these assholes gained any amount of distance, they were going to get away again. In all the shadows of the house, Katsuki hadn't gotten a good look at the arsonist's face and therefore wouldn't be able to charge him unless his caught him red-handed a second time.
He wasn't going to wait for round two; Katsuki was going to end it tonight.
He gunned the engine, gritting his teeth as he gained on the thieves' car. The driver swerved, trying to avoid him, slammed on the brakes and turned a corner so sharply that the two inside tires briefly left the road before tearing off again. Katsuki spun his car through a controlled drift and followed, noting the damage done to a lamp post by the car's sudden turn. The driver ahead seemed to be losing control, the car jerking from side to side, hitting trashcans and sign posts. Katsuki slammed on the gas again, gaining with every RPM. The getaway car jerked towards his and Katsuki took the opportunity to execute a pit maneuver, sending the getaway car into a tailspin. He cringed as the front of the car swiped through a fire hydrant, sending up a violent burst of water, then spun out of control and crashed through the front window of a mercifully-closed convenience store. Katsuki's tires squealed as he stopped his car, leaving the door open and the engine running just in case the getaway car was able to pull out another miracle and keep going.
Katsuki checked the charge in his taser, resetting it as he prowled towards the store front, the parking lot littered with broken glass, steam and debris blowing out from inside the store. He'd dropped his flashlight somewhere, so he had to wait until the steam cleared before stepping through the broken window to see what had become of the car.
The driver was curled over the wheel. He wasn't moving, but from the dim light cast by the car's headlights, he appeared to be breathing. The passenger was--
Where the fuck--
Movement, out of the corner of his eye. Katsuki spun, taser coming up, though he knew his shot wouldn't bridge the distance.
But the criminal wouldn't know that.
"Freeze! Hands up!"
The arsonist staggered to a halt, his back to Katsuki, his open hands held up to shoulder height.
"Place your hands on your head!" Katsuki kept his eyes on the perp while trying to keep an eye out for hazards. If the impact from the car damaged enough of the building's structure and killed either one of these assholes, his job could be on the line. "Walk backwards towards me. Slowly!"
There was a moment of hesitation from the arsonist, then, in a manner that seemed grudging, he shuffled his way backwards through the littered convenience store debris. When he came close enough, Katsuki ordered: "On your knees."
This time, the criminal definitely sighed, seemingly in resignation, but also with a twinge of annoyance. He did, however, slowly and carefully, settle to his knees while keeping his hands on his head.
"You have the right to remain silent," Katsuki recited, holstering his taser and grabbing his cuffs from his belt. "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." The Miranda rights were more a formality at this point; Katsuki had caught this perp red-handed; there was no way he wasn't going away for a long, long time. Katsuki finished cuffing the arsonist and jerked him up to his feet, hauling him out of the possibly structurally unsound convenience store. The slender male allowed himself to be manhandled, head down as he watched his step over tipped-over shelving, scattered bags of chips and rolling cans of soda.
His silence was actually a little off-putting. Most criminals Katsuki had collared whined or cried or threatened or begged. This guy--maybe a few inches taller than Katsuki, but with a slim swimmer's build--kept his mouth shut.
"Got nothing to say, punk?" Katsuki growled, yanking his prisoner along by his arm. "You're going down for larceny and arson, not to mention trying to light a cop on fire. Better take a good look around because this is the last time you'll ever see the outside."
The perp still said nothing.
While the last thing Katsuki wanted to be was gentle, he also didn't want to be accused of harming a prisoner in his custody, so as they neared the shattered plate-glass windows, he paused and let the arsonist carefully pick his way through the glass and over the crunched and twisted metal frame. Yellow light from the streetlamps bathed the perp in sickly light, revealing longish straight black hair and a burn scar covering the left side of his face. For a moment, Katsuki feared the criminal had gotten hurt during the home invasion, then realized the scar was far too old for that. The criminal saw Katsuki looking and turned his face away.
"Yeah, like that'll help during your processing picture," Katsuki jeered. "There's no way this ends any other way than life in prison, so you might as well get used to looking cops in the face."
As he opened the back door to his undercover car, he thought he saw a tiny smile play over the arsonist's lips, but it could have been a trick of the light. For his part, the burglar went along meekly, not even resisting when Katsuki placed his hand on his head to push him inside the car. The perp's silence still bugged him, but with one criminal safely locked up and tucked away, Katsuki had to focus on the driver of the getaway car, who still wasn't moving.
He had just confirmed a pulse and the fact that the driver was breathing when back-up finally arrived, cop cars, a fire truck and an ambulance all pulling into the tiny convenience store parking lot. Katsuki waited patiently as the paramedics loaded the driver onto a gurney before handcuffing the driver to it and sending a uniformed officer to ride along and read the driver his rights, in case he happened to wake en route to the hospital. By the time he returned to the parking lot, other officers were already moving the scarred arsonist from his undercover car to a marked car, securing him safely in the backseat.
"Bakugou!" Ashido had arrived, her non-regulation pink-dyed hair a mess of smoke and ash, as were her clothes, but she looked unharmed and almost cheerful. "Did we get all of them?"
"I got the two in the car," Katsuki confirmed. 'What about on your end?"
"I got the burglar in the house and put out the kitchen fire." She grinned, hooking her thumbs through her belt. "Score one for the good guys!"
Katsuki chuckled. "They might have more accomplices, but hopefully they'll give them up during questioning. The one with the scar was the one who started the fire in the house. I saw it firsthand."
"Way to go, partner!" Ashido punched him in the arm, apparently still riding the adrenaline rush of catching a criminal and saving a family’s home. "Promotion, here we come!"
"'Bout damn time," Katsuki agreed. He glanced back at the convenience store, the getaway car still halfway through the plate-glass window.
"Yeah, shame about that," Ashido commented. "It'll probably be fine, though. Places like this are always insured."
"I'm not worried about it." All property and city damage had been caused by the criminals' car; Katsuki's car was unmarked, save for the bumper where he'd executed the pit maneuver. "I'm just wondering if that place has a bathroom that's safe to use."
Ashido burst out laughing, clapping Bakugou on the back again. They checked in with dispatch, then decided to call it a night. Processing would take time Katsuki felt was better spent sleeping, and he didn't mind making burglar-arsonists cool their heels in a cell for a few hours. He promised Ashido he would bring the bagels if she brought the coffee and they decided to start the following day at noon, to catch up on sleep.
All in all, Katsuki thought, it had been a pretty good day.
The next day, Katsuki felt like a conquering hero reclaiming his homeland as he walked into the station. Officers clapped him on the back and offered their congratulations on his successful arrest of the burglar-arsonists. A few asked how he'd determined which homes to stake-out, others asked for details about the car chase. Everyone grabbed a bagel from the box he brought in (because donuts were a fucking cliche) but he made sure to save one sugar-cinnamon flavored one for his partner, whom he couldn't seem to find anywhere in the office. The cardboard cup of coffee on his desk was still warm, so she had passed through the station recently, but fucked if he could see her pouffy pink head anywhere in the office.
Just as Katsuki was sitting down to start his paperwork from the night before, the door to the chief's office flew open and Ashido bounced out, grinning from ear to ear. Katsuki grinned back, waving her bagel at her. If Ashido was in a good mood after talking to the chief, that could only mean good things for Katsuki as well. As she bounced up to their shared workspace, the police chief's dour glare caught Katsuki from the doorway of his office. His grim visage was a startling contrast to Ashido's good cheer. With a crooked finger, the chief summoned Bakugou back to his office. He punched Ashido on the shoulder as he passed her on his way back to the chief's office.
"Shut the door," Chief Todoroki Enji commanded as he settled his bulk behind the desk.
Katsuki refused to show any nerves as he pulled the door shut and stood at parade rest before the chief's desk. There was no reason to think he was in trouble. None at all. Ashido had clearly been pleased if not out and out chipper when she left the office. And the police chief always looked pissed off. Like his thick, red beard and heavy eyebrows gave him a permanent scowl of perpetual disappointment. Even when he praised someone, he looked like he was about to tear their head off. Katsuki was sure he wasn't in trouble.
He'd just collared the burglar-arsonist gang. What the fuck could he be in trouble for?
"Do have any idea how much you cost the city in damages last night, Officer Bakugou?" Chief Todoroki growled, crossing his arms as he glared over his desk.
Katsuki bit back a knee-jerk smart-ass response and took a deep breath, looking for the correct thing to say. "My actions last night saved a family's home from burning down and my arrests should prevent any future victims by this same gang."
"You'd already stopped the fire before getting baited into a dangerous and against-regulation car chase!" The chief argued back. "You knocked over two lampposts, a fire hydrant, tore up lawns in a surburban neighborhood and crashed through the window of a convenience store!"
"The criminals caused all that damage!" Katsuki protested, unable to help himself. "You can see from the damage on my car, all I did was the pit maneuver."
"Which caused the crash into the storefront, injuring the driver of the vehicle!"
"He was still breathing when I cuffed him," Katsuki snarled.
"That's completely besides the point!" Chief Todoroki roared. "Who do you think is picking up the tab for your little joy ride last night? The city is not happy with our department right now, not after this little stunt. I should pull your badge!"
Katsuki sputtered, utterly floored. "I arrested a dangerous criminal! Two of them! And saved a house from burning down. What should I have done? Let them get away?"
"Officer Ashido already had one of the suspects under arrest. You should have remained at the scene and waited for your back-up."
"The arsonist would have gotten away!"
"The one Ashido collared would have given up his colleagues for the chance at a plea bargain! There was absolutely no reason to engage in a highly dangerous car chase!"
"I caught the bad guy! That's my fucking job!" Katsuki slammed his hands down on the police chief's desk.
"That's enough!" Chief Todoroki bellowed, standing to pound his own fists on the desk, towering over Katsuki as he glared down at his subordinate. "I should have your badge and gun for all of this! Now sit down and shut the fuck up if you don't want to come back from a suspension to ride a desk for the rest of your career!"
Shutting up was the hardest part. If it wouldn't have ended all the career dreams he'd ever had for himself, Katsuki would have been tempted to throw his gun and badge down on the desk and storm out of the office to a chorus of expletives. As it was, if there was a chance he might walk out of here without ruining his chances to rise through the department, he knew he had to take it. His jaw clenched painfully tight, he dropped into a chair in front of the desk. But he didn't stop glaring malevolently at his unreasonable boss.
Since when was catching the bad guy a bad thing??
Chief Todoroki remained poised above the desk for a moment longer before blowing a breath out of his nose (Katsuki half-expected to see flames shoot out his nostrils) and sitting down. He placed his hand over a closed manila folder, eyes dropping to the desktop for a brief moment before flashing up to meet Katsuki's again.
"You've cost the city more than enough in damages to warrant a full suspension from the force, but I managed to convince the higher-ups that you'd do well on a secret assignment. If you can keep from pulling any more stupid, flashy dangerous shit, after this assignment you can come back to the force and be eligible for promotion again."
"What's the job?" Katsuki asked, already steeling himself. He had to accept it, no matter what it was. He couldn't lose his job on the police force after all this time.
"It's a bit...delicate." The chief sounded strangely hesitant all of a sudden. "Essentially, it's a bodyguard assignment, but it'll entail more than that." He stopped, eyes darting away almost as if ashamed, then the big redheaded boss ran a hand down his face, seemingly in exasperated frustration. "Bakugou, have you ever met my son?"
"No?" Katsuki's confusion came from the sudden left turn the conversation and the mood in the room took. Had he met the chief's son? Perhaps at a community function, or an inspection? He thought he'd remember if he had. "What the fuck does--Why do you ask?"
The chief ignored the question. "You're aware that my family is highly connected in the local government and has political ties even higher up the chain. We're...influential."
"Influential" being a metaphor for "richer than God" in this case. Everyone on the force knew that; Todoroki Enji hadn't become chief for his pleasant demeanor and upbeat attitude; the general belief was that he'd greased the right palms to earn the position and aspired for more, as he was still fairly young. Katsuki didn't mind too much: if the chief left the position to pursue something greater, that meant it would be all the easier to become police chief himself. Through merit, though, not "influence."
"Due to our influence--" That word now automatically translated to "money" in Katsuki's mind. "--sometimes members of my family are unduly targeted by unsavory elements. In the interest of due process, I can't explain everything, but for now my son requires a...bodyguard. On a fairly regular basis."
"You mean for like political events or fundraisers, that kind of shit?" So far, this didn't sound so bad. Bodyguard assignments weren't his favorite, but mostly because they tended to be boring. Often just the presence of a bodyguard at a social event was enough to deter any sort of threat--if there even was a threat to begin with. A lot of politicians just liked having bodyguards as a way of looking important.
"It's a bit more extensive than that." The chief rustled the manila folder a bit. "I need someone who can keep him out of trouble, whether trouble comes looking for him, or if he...goes out looking for trouble."
Oh. Katsuki was starting to see the downside. The chief's son was probably an alcoholic or a gambler or maybe even a drug addict and it was about to be Katsuki's job to keep the little shit from either harming himself or end up shaming the family name on the evening news. Joy.
But still, it didn't sound like the worst possible thing in the world.
"How long would this assignment go on for?" Katsuki asked, already resigning himself to a few weeks of putting up with a royal pain in his ass.
"Let's give it six months to start." Katsuki nearly choked on his own tongue, but the chief missed it as he was opening the folder and sliding it across the desk towards him. "We'll re-evaluate at that time. Obviously, if you screw up on the assignment, you'll be retasked to desk work. This is a standard non-disclosure agreement, for privacy purposes. Anything you learn about my son or the details of his life are strictly confidential and highly privileged. You can't share any of those details with the press, the rest of the force, or even your own family. Understood, Officer Bakugou?"
"Yeah, yeah." Katsuki scanned the NDA. It looked fairly rich-guy standard. So if he found out the chief's son had a fetish for wearing women's shoes or snorted cocaine off a dried bull's penis, he couldn't embarrass the family by reporting any of those details. He'd signed NDAs before; they were standard in bodyguard detail. "Are there any more case details I should be aware of? Anything more specific than keeping him out of trouble? Is this just for, like, when he goes out in the evenings, or does he need morning-to-night coverage?"
"He'll need supervision any time he leaves his apartment." The chief tossed a cellphone onto the desk. "That phone has his number programmed into it, as well as an app that'll show you video surveillance on his front door and windows, the entrance of his building and the elevator that goes up to his floor. It's also got a 'find' function to locate his phone, but if he leaves his phone somewhere, that won't help you very much."
Katsuki stared at the blatant violation of privacy before blinking and staring at his boss.
"He knows about all of that." The chief shrugged, apparently unconcerned as to what Katsuki thought of his over-attentiveness. "If he doesn't like it, he can move out of the apartment I pay for and get his own damn phone."
"Ah." Katsuki didn't really know what to say. He was loath to take the phone and invade a stranger's privacy; maybe he should at least meet with Todoroki's son first before spying him through a camera? "Um, does your son know about the security detail you're putting on him?"
"I told him last night." Chief Todoroki shifted uncomfortably. "He's expecting you this afternoon. His address is in the file."
Katsuki turned a page and noted the address onto a scrap of paper. He still had doubts about the phone, but the chief shoved it roughly across the desk at him, making him fumble to catch it.
"He's a handful, so you'll need that," he said gruffly. "Don't fuck this up, Bakugou. If anything happens to him, it'll be your ass in front of the firing squad."
The way he said it left Katsuki doubtful as to whether the chief meant he'd be fired or executed if he messed up this assignment. Grudgingly, he pocketed the phone as he stood. "Anything else I should know?"
Another moment of clumsy hesitation, then: "His name's Shouto. He's about the same age as you. Sign over the burglary case file to Ashido, then get your ass over to his place. Before--just, before anything happens."
Katsuki stopped halfway to the door. "Ashido and I worked that case together. The stake-out was my idea; you want me to give her all the credit?" That was bullshit! All Ashido had done was bitch about missing a barbecue and talk non-stop about celebrities! (That wasn't entirely fair, but Katsuki was pissed.)
"Unless you want to pay for all the damages to the city and a certain convenience store out of your own pay," Todoroki growled menacingly.
Katsuki sneered and slammed the door to the office as he stomped out. This whole thing was complete and utter bullshit! The whole case was his and while Ashido had helped, he had been the one to establish the thieves' pattern and follow the procedural nightmare to ensure a proper stake-out, leading up to the arrests. All fucked because of one little car chase. He may have protected the family's home from being burned down, but Katsuki had been the one to get robbed this time.
His expression must have looked downright murderous because when he returned to their shared workspace, Ashido didn't try to talk to him immediately. Instead, she warmed his coffee in the microwave, then quietly worked on her write-up for the night before. Katsuki logged onto his computer, reviewed his case notes, then signed off on them, giving control of the case--and all deserved praise--over to his partner. It pissed him off, but it was still better than turning in his gun and badge.
He nursed his coffee for almost an hour, refusing to run to the young Todoroki's apartment like a trained dog. He still felt conflicted about the surveillance cellphone the chief had given him. Perhaps it was one thing for a parent to spy on his kid, but it was entirely another thing for that parent to ask a stranger to do it. The fact that Chief Todoroki had deemed it a necessary part of the job made Katsuki feel more certain that most of his job would entail keeping this rich kid from giving back-alley blowjobs in exchange for a bump. Still not the worst of assignments, but far from what he wanted to be doing, which was climbing the ladder until the position of "police chief" was in reach.
Maybe this guy will be cool, Katsuki thought longingly, swirling the dregs of his coffee. Maybe we'll just sit down, rap it out, I'll escort him to a few political functions or whatever, and this whole assignment will be over before I know it.
If only his luck weren't such shit, he might believe that.
"Hay, Bakugou?" Ashido sounded curious. "I just got your report from the job last night? Did you sign the whole thing over to me?"
"Boss's orders," Katsuki growled, giving up on his coffee and dropping it hard enough into the trash to splash brown droplets over the rim. "Something about unnecessary damages and liability. Congrats, partner, you're getting all the credit for the good stuff."
Ashido cringed. "I'm sorry. This whole thing was your gig. That's totally unfair."
Katsuki shrugged. It wasn't Ashido's fault, but he still felt like punching her in the face.
Seeming to sense his dark mood, Ashido didn't respond right away, instead humming softly as she drummed her fingers against the desk thoughtfully. Then: "Hey, I know what'll cheer you up!"
Katsuki glared. He didn't need cheering up; he needed to go start his new temporary assignment.
"Let's go make faces at the perps we collared!"
Katsuki considered, then nodded. "Yeah, fine." That would cheer him up. A little. Even if he wasn't getting any credit--even if he almost lost his job over it--the burglar-arson gang was in lock-up and wouldn't be hurting anyone else ever again. That was something to feel proud of.
Ashido led the way down to the station's basement and holding cells. They wouldn't hold criminals here too long--just long enough to meet with lawyers, be arraigned and then usually they were carted off to the local prison. They passed the officer at the check-in desk with a friendly wave, then peered into the cells built into the bowels of the police station.
"That's my collar," Ashido said proudly, gesturing at the guy in the first cell. He was sitting on his cot against the far wall, doing his best to ignore them. "Tried to hit me with his flashlight--one of those long, heavy ones, you know?--but he got a taste of my taser. Remember?"
The guy rolled his eyes and resumed staring at the ceiling. Ashido waved a cheerful farewell to him before they moved on to the next cell.
"Glad to see this guy survived," Katsuki said, nodding to the next inmate. "Last time I saw him, he was unconscious over a steering wheel."
"Fucking abusive cops," the getaway driver muttered. His head and left arm were wrapped in thin bandages; he probably needed a cast, but those could be used as weapons and the bandages were flimsy enough to break if used for self-harm. He'd get better treatment in a real prison, but he'd likely be spending time in isolation while he healed. Katsuki couldn't feel too bad about that; this was the guy who'd caused all the damage to the city and crashed through the front window of a convenience store.
"Next time don't be such a shitty getaway driver," Katsuki taunted, already feeling slightly better. He moved on, though, more anxious to see the arsonist behind bars. The other two were petty criminals; the arsonist was the dangerous one.
But the next cell was empty. As were the four other cells in the basement.
"Where the fuck is that scar-faced fire-starter?" Katsuki demanded to know, pacing the corridor between cells again, just in case he'd missed him.
"Maybe they have him up for questioning?" Ashido offered. "Or maybe he's meeting with his lawyer?"
"Of course that scumbag would have a lawyer," Katsuki growled. He marched up to the admitting officer and asked: "Where's the arsonist? He's not out on some fucking plea, is he?"
The desk officer gave him a confused look. "These are the only ones admitted since yesterday. My notes say the injured one was the arsonist."
"Fuck that!" Katsuki wheeled around, pushing past Ashido to grip the grid-like bars of the driver's cell. "What happened to your partner? The one who tried to leave you fucked up and unconscious in the car?"
The bandaged criminal pressed his lips together and looked away.
Incensed, Katsuki raged against the bars. "You gonna go down for all the shit he did? Millions of dollars in damages? Attacking a cop? He worth that much to you?"
The criminal kept his mouth shut, glaring stubbornly down at the floor even as Ashido gently pulled Katsuki away from the cell.
"There were three of them!" Katsuki shouted at the admitting officer. "Ashido got one, I collared two! That arsonist had a scar across half of his face!"
"I don't know what to tell you," the desk officer replied, seemingly unconcerned. "I wasn't here last night, but my records say we only checked in two of them. One came in right after he was collared, the other came in after the paramedics finished with him. That's all I know."
"We can check the other officers' reports," Ashido said, trying to soothe her out-of-control partner. "Do you remember which car you put your arsonist in? We'll go talk to his officer and we'll find out what happened. Maybe he got taken to the wrong precinct? That's happened before."
"Yeah. Yeah, maybe." But now that Katsuki was thinking about it, he was remembering all the arsonist's little oddities. How he wouldn't speak, how he looked away, as if trying to hide his scar. How he'd smiled ever-so-faintly at Katsuki's taunts about prison. Something just felt...off. "Yeah, let's go talk to--"
He jumped as his pocket squealed at him. Ashido made a face as he pulled the chief's surveillance cellphone from his pocket. "Is that your ringtone?"
Katsuki ignored her as he read the message on the screen: "If you're still in the station in the next five minutes, Bakugou, our deal is off!" The sender was listed as "Todoroki Enji," meaning that the chief had programmed his own number into the phone as well as his son's.
"Fuck, I have to go," Katsuki growled, shoving the phone back in his pocket.
"Go where?" Ashido asked. "Our shift only started an hour ago."
"Special assignment." He didn't want to admit he'd been reassigned in order to avoid a suspension and possible termination. "Boss's orders."
"Ah." Ashido gave him a sympathetic look, seeming to understand anyway. "Look, don't worry about anything here. It's my case now, so I'll have access to all the reports and any video or audio recordings. I'll figure out what happened to the arsonist."
"Thanks, Pinky." He slugged her in the arm, not too gently because he was pissed, but not too hard either because it wasn't her fault he was pissed. "Once I get off this fucking assignment, I'll let you buy me a beer."
"Ha!" Ashido laughed, following him up the stairs from the basement. "After all this is over, you'll be the one owing me a beer!"
"Fucking whatever." When he'd first joined the force, Ashido had been the last person he'd wanted to partner with. Now, he found the idea of working an assignment without her sort...well, lonely wasn't the right word, but maybe...boring. "Don't text me any of your shitty celebrity gossip while I'm on assignment."
"Gotcha! Only A-list gossip and above!"
"I'll fucking kill you."
"And baby pictures. Everyone loves celebrity babies."
"I swear to God, shitty pinky."
It turned out that Katsuki's assignment was so under-the-radar that he wasn't even able to check out one of the sleek undercover cop cars to drive to the address he'd scrawled down, so instead he took his own car. Not that he minded--his Challenger was fucking badass as hell--but he hoped at least he'd be able to submit the cost of gas back to the police department. A six month mission of babysitting semi-royalty, he was bound to drop a few hundred dollars on just carting the rich kid's ass around town. He wasn't terribly surprised to learn that the address was in the heart of their little city, in one of the few buildings actually built ten stories high. The building even had a private parking garage and a fucking doorman, who Katsuki had to show his badge to in order to be allowed to pass. He had young Todoroki's apartment number written along with his address, but when he approached the bank of elevators, he saw that none of them even had a button for the top floor, so he had to trudge back to the reception desk and ask what the fuck.
"Ah, Officer Bakugou." The simpering receptionist slid an envelope across the counter to him. "This is your card key. The elevator to the top floor is down that hallway."
A private fucking elevator. And his own fucking floor. Yeah, Katsuki hated this guy already. He stomped down the half-hidden corridor, glaring at the live potted plants and the art deco as if they were somehow to blame for this shit assignment.
Kid's gotta be a crackhead, he told himself on the stunningly fast elevator ride. There's no other reason for this. My job for the next six months is going to be keeping this kid's crack addiction from embarrassing the police chief.
When the elevator door slid smoothly open, Katsuki swept the hall with his police officer's instincts. He noted the cameras in the corners, one focused on the apartment door, the other pointed at the elevator. He casually flipped off the one staring at him, then knocked solidly on the sole door. Seriously, why even bother having a waiting chamber outside the elevator? Why not have the elevator simply open into the apartment? It needed a card key anyway so--
Katsuki's thought cut off as the door clicked and swung open. The first thing he noted was that young Todoroki wasn't fully dressed, despite the fact that it was nearly two in the afternoon. A low-slung pair of designer sweatpants and a towel around his neck were the only clothing in evidence, revealing toned muscles beneath pale, unmarred skin. A long-fingered hand was rubbing the towel against damp hair that--shockingly--was white on one half of his head, the police chief's fire-red on the other. Did he dye it that way? Why?
"Oh. You must be the babysitter my father told me about last night." Half his face was obscured by the towel, the other half looked grimly amused. "Who's ass did you fail to kiss to wind up with an assignment like this?"
As he spoke, he let the towel drape around his neck, revealing a burn scar over his left eye.
And Katsuki's police training took over.
"Police! Down on the ground!" Even as he spoke, he charged, throwing his shoulder into the other man's chest, sending them both to the floor. His thoughts tangled and snared because last night's arsonist couldn't possibly be the chief's son, which meant the arsonist had targeted the young Todoroki as his next victim. He couldn't rule out the possibility that the chief's son was in danger at that very moment. "What have you done to Todoroki Shouto? How the fuck did you get in here?"
"I am Todo--Fuck, are you the cop from last night?" The scarred man laughed even as Katsuki grappled him onto his back and slipped his cuffs off his belt. "God, this is Dad's best joke yet. Hey, asshole, this is my apartment. You can't arrest me in my own home. You couldn't even arrest me properly in the middle of a car wreck after watching me torch a building."
Katsuki's body was on autopilot as he locked the cuffs around twig-thin wrists, then jerked the arsonist up to a sitting position on the floor. "Keep talking, fuckface, everything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law."
"Not likely." How was it possible for someone to look smug while sitting shirtless and handcuffed, wearing nothing but sweatpants? "Dad had you sign an NDA, didn't he? I could confess murder to you right now and your word wouldn't be worth shit in a court of law. Not to mention, you still can't arrest me in my own home."
"Todoroki Shouto?" Katsuki shouted into the space beyond the entryway. "Todoroki-san, if you're hurt or injured, just stay calm. The police are here."
"I feel so relieved," the scarred man said blandly.
With a final glare at the arsonist, Katsuki removed his gun from its holster and did a perimeter sweep of the apartment. He hadn't brought his radio up--for fuck's sake, he'd been expecting a routine bodyguard assignment!--but at least he'd kept everything else on his belt as usual. He kept the weapon pointed low and down, but let it precede him into each new room as he stalked the layout, looking for the captured and possibly injured Todoroki Shouto.
"Apartment" didn't really do the space any justice. Katsuki lived in an apartment--two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen the size of a postage stamp with the office-living room-dining room in one combined space. This was a penthouse suite: Two spacious bedrooms, at least three bathrooms, an expansive office and one room set aside just for workout equipment. The living room was immense, with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the city and the kitchen was enough to make a Michelin star chef jealous.
What the penthouse lacked, however, was one captive police chief's son.
"Are you done invading my privacy?" the arsonist asked, sounding bored from his seat on the floor. "Look. Inside the basket under the coffee table, there's a city magazine. My dad's on the cover. If you open it, there's a picture of the two of us with an interview. If that doesn't convince you, then you're a lot dumber than you look."
Katsuki glared, hard, but as he'd patrolled the penthouse, some of the things his captive had said weren't things he would have known if he weren't the boss's kid. Why would a criminal know about an NDA, or the bodyguarding assignment? But it just didn't gel in Katsuki's mind that the arsonist and the boss's son could be the same person. Rather than follow the arsonist's suggestion to check a magazine--which might have been a plant to sell the ruse, but that seemed far-fetched even to Katsuki--he took out his personal cellphone and searched "Todoroki Shouto." Sure enough, photos from policemen's balls and city fundraisers popped up, almost all of them showing a glad-handing Todoroki Enji and a sullen but well-dressed Todoroki Shouto. Of course, the hair could be an elaborate dye job, but that burn scar on his face... It wasn't likely anyone would go so far as to replicate something like that.
"Satisfied?" Todoroki asked, one slim eyebrow arched as Katsuki compared the person to the image on his phone. "Are you going to uncuff me, or do I hit my panic button?"
"You have a fucking panic button and you haven't pressed it already?"
"I'd really rather not summon my father if I can avoid it. Although, I'm beginning to think that watching him fire you would be worth it."
Katsuki glared down at him, crossing his arms over his chest. "Even if you really are my boss's son, that doesn't change the fact that you're the arsonist who's burned down nearly a dozen houses."
"You're right. It doesn't." That superior, arch tone again. "Neither does it change the fact that you signed an NDA to take this assignment, so legally there is nothing you can do about that fact."
"I recorded your description in my official report."
"Yes, a report that goes to my father for approval?" Todoroki rolled his eyes. "Yes, that'll help you arrest me.” He rattled the cuffs on his wrists. “Could you please? Unless you're afraid of me burning down my own home."
A muscle ticked over Katsuki's jaw. He wanted to call in the cavalry, give his evidence that Todoroki had been the arsonist, have him paraded in front of the media and publicly shamed and held responsible for all the damage he'd caused, but, infuriatingly, the young Todoroki was right. Without a warrant, Katsuki couldn't arrest him within his own home and if the chief--who undoubtedly knew his son was behind the robberies and arson--was simply going to bury his report to save himself the embarrassment of having a firebug for a son, then there really wasn't anything Katsuki could do. So with a deep sense of self-loathing, Katsuki crossed the room and unlocked the handcuffs.
"Thank you," Todoroki said cordially, rubbing his wrists. His skin was so fair that the cuffs left dark red marks on his wrists. He stood slowly, taking Katsuki's measure as he picked up the towel that had fallen from his neck when Katsuki tackled him earlier. "You looked taller last night."
"Yeah, well. Your hair was black."
"Dye. Why do you think I was in the shower?" Todoroki gave the towel a flick. "Not that this isn't enough to positively identify me--" He gestured to the scar on his face, "--This is just a genetic nightmare." He tossed his bicolored hair.
"So..." Katsuki was still taking stock of the situation, trying to find a frame of reference to keep him from foundering. "Your dad knows you're the arsonist I've been after, released you from custody last night, and decided it was a good idea to assign me as your babysitter?"
"Probably because you saw me. In essence, he tied your tongue with that NDA. Almost smart of him." Todoroki smirked disdainfully. "You should take it as a partial compliment, though, that he thinks you're good enough to keep an eye on me."
"I take it I'm to keep you from setting any more fires?" He didn't disagree with the premise in principle, but now that he was considering it, keeping watch over a crackhead would have been easier. Ah, how perspective changed things. "Now I get why he has cameras on your door and a tracker on your phone."
"And a tracker on my car, too, not that I use it often." Todoroki shrugged, making the gesture look inordinately elegant. Not that Katsuki thought the arsonist was elegant. Or beautiful, despite that facial scar. He was a criminal with high connections, which made him the worst sort of person in the world. "Do you mind if I get dressed? Or will you charge through my bedroom door and handcuff me again? Although, if you were to handcuff me again, the bedroom would be the place to do it."
"I'm not fucking--" Katsuki cut himself off for phrasing. "I don't give a shit what you do in here. My job is to keep you from robbing any more homes and setting them on fire, so if you plan on leaving this fucking apartment, you'd better fucking call me first so I can watch your ass."
"Hm." Todoroki seemed capable of inflicting innuendo on Katsuki without speaking a word. "You know, if I were planning on committing any more crimes, I'm not exactly going to give you a heads-up first. And if you think I can't get around a few store-brand surveillance cameras, you'd be mistaken. My father doesn't really care what I do; he just doesn't want me getting caught again. That's where you come in."
"I'm not going to fucking stand by and let you burn down another--"
"Like a dog with a bone." Todoroki sighed. "Look, I only just got up. I had a late night. I'm sure you did as well." A tiny smirk like they shared a secret. Katsuki bared his teeth in a snarl. "I'm sure you and I can come to a mutually beneficial understanding. Let me buy you a drink tonight and we'll start over. Much more amicably, I hope."
"You're a fucking criminal," Katsuki growled. "We're not going to be friends."
Todoroki smiled, slow and sly. "Whoever said anything about being friends?"