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you are the end, you are the beginning

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bakugou: hey. thermostat fuck

halfie: ?

bakugou: mom’s house td evening?

halfie: what for

bakugou: disgusting fam party
dad’s cookin, dw about dinner

halfie: alright. meet you there. time?

bakugou: 7. be as late as u want, fuckin’ save yourself

halfie: and where would you be then. see you @ 7

-

“I can’t believe because of you the old hag expects me to be fuckin’ on time to this shit,” Bakugou griped, unlacing his boots on the front porch.

The entryway was already crowded with footwear of various colors, shapes, and sizes, a pink flip flop with no visible pair haphazardly fallen beside a set of mud-crusted hiking boots. Todoroki’s sneakers were hidden behind the potted plant sitting by the door, a trick Bakugou had taught him years ago to avoid intentional or unintentional trampling by his younger (demonic) cousins.

“Punctuality,” Todoroki replied flatly, “No greater a crime.”

Dropping his shoes beside Todoroki’s, Bakugou turned to face him, mouth quirked and eyebrow raised.

“You have no fuckin’ business being as funny as you are, you know that? It’s not even like you try.

“So you’ve said,” Todoroki offered him a half-smile. “You’re punctual to everything else in your life. What makes this an exception?”

“The rest of my life is fucking awesome,” Bakugou said matter-of-factly, digging through his pockets for his keys. “This couldn’t be further from that. This is a goblin cave full of the shithead members of my family, and we’re gonna hate every godamn second.”

He didn’t have to look back as he fit the key and twisted the doorknob to know that Todoroki was likely rolling his eyes at him. Flipping him off with one hand and twining their fingers together in the other, Bakugou inhaled deeply, stashed his keys away, and kicked the door open hard enough to nearly knock it off its hinges.

Nearly being the operative word.

Frost puffed over his ears in a palpable show of surprise from Todoroki, which, Bakugou didn’t know why. If he wasn’t used to this kind of behavior after five years of their carefully maintained charade, there really was no hope for him.

Katsuki!” his old hag bellowed from across the room. “Don’t kick the fucking door in, bastard! Were you raised by a troupe of monkeys?”

He made direct eye contact with his mother, saw in her eyes that she knew what was coming, and with the most neutral expression he could manage said, “Yeah.”

Todoroki made an irritated growling noise behind him as the devil herself stormed down the warpath to reprimand her son, her mouth stretched in a manic grin and hands clearly itching to slap him upside the head. Before he could properly process the action, his “boyfriend” hooked an arm around his waist, swung them around so Todoroki was in front, and directed the most charming smile in his arsenal at Bakugou’s mother, fingers chilled against Bakugou’s side in a warning to shut the fuck up.

“Mitsuki-san,” Todoroki said, easily falling into the role of Bakugou’s polite and endearing boyfriend. “It’s been a while.”

The immediate transformation his mother’s entire countenance went through at the sight of Todoroki gave Bakugou honest to god whiplash. He swore he saw horns retreat into her scalp and fire extinguish where it had been pouring from her ears. Her face positively lit up.

“Shouto! Too fuckin’ long, kid. It’s good to see you!”

He returned the sentiment, settling easily into a rhythm of small talk and life updates with Bakugou’s mother. Todoroki’s tea talk had improved vastly over the years since the two of them had originally established their agreement, which wasn’t saying all that much considering the absolute social clusterfuck he’d been before. Seriously, Bakugou hadn’t the faintest fucking clue how they hadn’t been discovered the first time Todoroki had met his parents. With how quickly his Quirk had reacted to his near tangible nervousness, it was a miracle the Bakugou household was still standing.

“Katsuki-kun!” a soft, sweet little voice called from his left.

Bakugou turned, grinning and breaking free of Todoroki’s hold when he caught sight of Deku’s mother making her way towards him. The half-n-half bastard bumped his shoulder lightly as he slid past, which Bakugou understood as a silent plea not to make more trouble. He hoped his aggressive mental ‘fuck off’ made it across their non-existent telepathic connection and walked over to let Midoriya Inko wrap him in a slightly awkward, height-disadvantaged hug.

“Izuku’s sorry he can’t come, but I’ll kick his ass and drag him to the next one if he flakes again,” he promised.

The other half of the popular and newly professional hero duo climbing through the ranks was working a side case with Lemillion as a favor to the head of one of the highest ranked agencies in the country, Miruko. He’d been holed up in the Shinjuku branch office all day and had, tragically, missed the get-together because of it. Bakugou envied him deeply. He’d make his partner pay in full the next time his mother decided out of the blue she wanted people in their house. Ugh.

Inko laughed, squeezing his hand gently and leading him to one of the couches to chat. One of Bakugou’s little cousins sprinted past like a bat out of hell, something shiny flashing in her grip. He snagged the back of her shirt, swinging her up into the air to pry the knife out of her grip before handing her off to her exhausted father. All, of course, while continuing to carry civilized conversation with Deku’s mother. To her credit, unlike someone, she wasn’t the least bit fazed.

To Bakugou’s immense surprise, the evening passed fairly pleasantly, Todoroki joining him on the couch after a spell to the delight of every unforgivably nosy member of Bakugou’s extended family. His aunt sent him an exaggerated wink when he leaned fractionally into the heat of Todoroki’s arm resting across the back of the couch, and he wondered, palms crackling dangerously, when he’d be free of the army of clowns he just so happened to share a significant percentage of DNA with.

Todoroki pressed his lips against the fabric covering Bakugou’s shoulder blade, wedged half between the sofa and Bakugou with the way the other was sitting. It was a private gesture, one the hawk-eyed relatives surrounding them undoubtedly picked up on but let slide. The quiet intimacy of it was something reserved for just the two of them, a sturdy rock at the swirling center of the storm.

“You good?” Bakugou murmured, tipping his head back to rest against Todoroki’s shoulder. “The hag swooped in right when we got here.”

He curved his fingers like talons, reveling in the amused huff of laughter it earned him.

“I’m fine,” Todoroki said, tapping some meaningless pattern into his thigh. “And that probably had to do with you kicking the door in.”

“Gotta make an entrance in this fuckin’ family,” he said, sweeping a hand across the room to indicate the frankly ridiculous number of guests present. “We’re just lucky my dad’s sister is pregnant. To this godamn day, I don’t know how the fuck they’re related. She’s a fucking headcase and also, probably, on inhumane amounts of crack.”

“Ah,” Todoroki grimaced, the handful of memories he had in company of Bakugou’s insane aunt flashing behind his eyes. “Yes, probably. Which reminds me.”

“Crack?” Bakugou squinted at him, mildly alarmed. “Crack cocaine jogged your memory of something important?”

No,” Todoroki said, pinching his thigh. “Pregnant. My sister is holding a dinner party next Thursday for close friends and family to celebrate.”

“Well, then fucking say that.”

Rubbing his thigh, Bakugou leaned closer to view the invite Todoroki’s sister had sent out, along with a more personal message to her youngest brother requesting Bakugou’s presence if he happened to be free.

“I still can’t believe your family likes me,” he quipped. “Also, fuck you.”

He elbowed Todoroki in the ribs in retaliation for earlier, grinning as the idiot wheezed weakly before shooting him a sideways glare.

“Can’t be your people skills,” Todoroki muttered, jostling Bakugou slightly as he shifted in his seat. “It’s been five years, Katsuki. It would be more strange if they didn’t like you.”

Bakugou leveled him with the flattest, most withering stare he could muster.

“The first time I visited as your boyfriend, I broke a ten-thousand yen vase five minutes after I got past the front door,” he said. “I burnt a tapestry so expensive you wouldn’t even tell me how much it fucking cost. Your siblings are mental, and so the fuck are you.”

“You made a splendid waste my father’s money and got rid of two of the most hideous statement pieces in the house. Obviously, they took to you instantly.”

Bakugou shook his head with a snort, turning his gaze back on the unmitigated chaos of his living room with a warm ember of feeling settling in his chest. Though he’d never voice it, he was infinitely grateful for Todoroki’s presence at these infrequent family gatherings and neighborhood block parties. It may have been pure coincidence and the wild misreadings of Todoroki’s older brother that pushed them together, but it was the two of them who had forged and retained a genuine friendship despite the obstacles presented by both their equally and uniquely difficult personalities.

Touching had been a problem at first, their shared lack of experience leaving them unsure what was too much or too little for the two months the backstory they’d agreed upon indicated they’d been dating. Bakugou had nearly killed the both of them reaching for Todoroki’s left hand with a nitroglycerin-slick palm when Fuyumi had dropped by for a surprise visit upon hearing from Natsuo that the two of them were in a relationship. They were comfortable with it now, though, trading kisses and affectionate gestures like any other couple when the situation called for it. Despite not actually being in the ring, Todoroki and Bakugou were fucking winning at dating.

“Shouto!” Bakugou’s uncle called just as Bakugou checked and confirmed his availability for Fuyumi’s dinner party. “Play something for us on the piano, would you? The song you played last time was so lovely.”

Todoroki blanched, and Bakugou desperately held back the demonic laughter bubbling in his chest.

His family all thought Todoroki was some kind of piano prodigy, taught the skill from his youth. The truth was, Endeavor had deemed everything but Quirk training useless and had paid solely for Todoroki to learn the bare minimum for the sake of outward appearances and charity galas targeted at earning sponsors. As such, Todoroki only really knew how to play one song and had used that card already at a cousin’s engagement party last year. He shot Bakugou a despairing look, silently entreating his help. Of course, because he was an insufferable gremlin horror, he kissed his not-boyfriend on the cheek and thoroughly abandoned him to the mercies of his unhinged family.

-

It wasn’t clear to either of them who had been the one to actually suggest the fake dating scheme, just that the idea had somehow come up after a visit from Bakugou’s mom and Todoroki’s brother happened to overlap. Really, Natsuo was largely to blame for being as misinformed and genuinely awful at reading people as he was, but “blame” was a strong word for a situation that had worked out astonishingly well for all parties involved.

Bakugou had had the great misfortune of meeting Todoroki’s brother on the way back from remedial classes one evening, when the half-n-half asshole had requested they make a brief stop at Natsuo’s university on the way back. Todoroki had naturally only asked this after leading Bakugou onto the wrong train, going north to the college campus instead of east to the U.A. The latter, still in his first year and only just learning the beginnings of self-control with regards to his temper, nearly blew them off the godamn train. And so Bakugou had stomped around the campus of Natsuo’s school, sniping disagreeably at both Todoroki’s and in general acting a menace.

And yet, in spite of Bakugou’s … entire personality, Natsuo seemed to take to him, which he would later find out had more to do with Todoroki’s relaxed demeanor around him than his startling lack of personability. Whatever the hell was going on in Todoroki’s brain that put him, of all things, at ease in Bakugou’s presence was what led to Natsuo believing the two were a couple, unused to seeing his little brother as quietly content as he’d been then. Him revealing the preposterous conclusion he’d come to, loudly, in the common area, in front of Bakugou’s mother, had caused a flurry of excitement and speculation before the two in question had the chance to get past their unadulterated shock and disavow the insane, nightmarish claim.

Until they’d realized what they could get out of it.

From that moment on, Bakugou was free of his family’s incessant needling into his romantic prospects and worry that his lofty aspirations would isolate him, and Todoroki had both a solid excuse to escape uncomfortable family events and someone in his corner should he choose to go. Thoughts of finding him a fiancé, which hadn’t been something his father had talked about since he’d promised he would make an effort to change, had been effectively nullified by the presence of a significant other in his life, especially considering how long they’d managed to keep the con running. At twenty, the two of them were successful pro heroes breaking records in popularity polls and the speed with which they were climbing the ranks. Bakugou and Deku were already on the edge of giving the Big Three of their freshman year a run for their money where they occupied the higher end of the top ten, and Todoroki wasn’t far behind.

The tabloids had known about Ground Zero and Shouto for ages now, ridding them of the annoyance of paparazzi speculation so long as they were both careful not to spark rumors of fading romance or scandalous affairs. A staged outing now and then took care of the problem, and Bakugou was proud to this day of the photo of him kissing Todoroki that had stormed the internet when they were nineteen. The picture was blurry and fractured, embers dancing around the frame, since Bakugou had blown up the camera lens as soon as he’d hauled Todoroki in. The media hadn’t shut up about it for weeks.

Overall, the two considered their act a mutually beneficial way to appear as though they were balancing hero life and romantic life to their families and avoid the claws of the media in anything that didn’t correspond to their professional lives.

Being ridiculously competitive in any and all aspects of their lives definitely gave them a leg up.

-

Bakugou rolled his wrist, testing the building stiffness where he stood leant up against the side of an ambulance. He’d finished aiding the last of the evacuees from the sea of crumbling debris and smoggy air once he and Deku had apprehended the villain they were after. With Shouto and Suneater chasing after the remaining small fry, scattered in the wake of their ringleader’s loss, the young hero team had a moment to themselves before Miruko, who had taken point on the raid, started riding their asses to report back. Deku made his way over, having briefly explained the status of a few injured civilians to the paramedic team responsible, and frowned.

“Kacchan, are you okay? You let off some pretty strong explosions one after the other.”

“Fine, loser,” he assured, crossing his arms. “The fuck was up with you? You got tripped up for a sec.”

Deku grinned sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.

“Yeah, sorry. The echolocation of her quirk was really strong with all the rubble to bounce off of. I thought someone was trapped in the clear zone for a moment.”

Bakugou hummed, stepping free of the ambulance as an injured hero was carted onto it. Truth be told, he was exhausted. Deku wasn’t wrong about the strength he’d put into his attacks in order to disrupt the wily criminal’s quirk. He’d favored coverage over precision until he’d managed to catch sight of her, and his arms were bearing the weight of that particular decision. Strength training over the years had toughened up his endurance considerably, but as stretched thin as they’d been this week, the overwork was beginning to take its toll.

“Let’s just get this supervision crap over with, report back to bunny bitch, and sleep through our day off tomorrow, yeah?”

Deku made a haggard noise of agreement, drawing a low, familiar laugh from behind them. Todoroki stepped up beside Bakugou, his neutral expression pinched slightly as he caught sight of his purposefully hidden forearms. He pressed an absent kiss into the side of the explosive hero’s head as Deku quietly assured him that no, Bakugou wasn’t being a stubborn idiot, he was sore and tired but ultimately alright.

Bakugou, who’d been gifted a second wind by the gods of spite themselves, felt a shit-eating grin split the corners of his face. He gazed up at Todoroki, radiating smugness as he waited for the fucker to take note of his mindless gesture.

Todoroki blinked down at him, bemused, as Midoriya chattered amicably with Suneater a ways away. The realization hit him with sudden and striking force, and Bakugou threw his head back with a laugh as Todoroki cursed quietly.

“Thirty-two to thirty-five, my favor.”

“Shut up,” Todoroki hissed, pointedly looking anywhere but Bakugou. “Who won last time?”

“That was a fucking hoax, and you know it,” Bakugou beat back, still positively beaming like the asshole he was. “I grabbed your hand to pull you away from the train platform and keep your ass from getting knocked onto the tracks.”

“I was barely past the yellow border,” Todoroki grumbled, but it was an old fight and he’d won it anyway.

What mattered was the sound thrashing Bakugou was giving him now.

A three-point lead in the triannual tally of accidental affectionate gestures made when none of the persons they were fooling were present was no small advantage. Todoroki had beaten him by a single point earlier that year, and since they’d begun the tradition, they had always managed to stay neck-and-neck. Bakugou was going to dangle the growing gap in Todoroki’s face for ages once he’d won, and the thought of it filled him with immeasurable glee.

Sighing, Todoroki gave him a hard look and dropped the petty argument, clearly seeing no real way to come out on top. Instead, he nudged Bakugou along to regroup with Amajiki and Deku, the eldest dismissing them once the reinforcements and clean-up effort radioed in.

Bakugou, feeling rather victorious after a successful day of hero work and wreaking havoc upon Todoroki’s miserable existence, generously invited his dumbass friends over for dinner, only to be reminded by his vindictive faux boyfriend that his turn hosting Class A’s movie night was approaching in approximately t-minus four hours.

If the television adorning the painstakingly installed wall-mount in the apartment he shared with Kirishima and Kaminari wasn’t as fucking outstanding in quality as it so happened to be, he’d have had no problem blowing their entertainment system to hell and back to keep his hellish former classmates out of his house.

As it was, Bakugou resisted the urge to blast his own brains out and settled for cooking up small acts of revenge in the form of the night’s menu and the preferences (more notably, the dislikes) of the guests that would be in attendance.

Stopping at the grocery store on his way back from the agency, he made certain to throw in an extra box of hot peppers and a tin of wasabi, both meant for Todoroki.

-

The Todoroki household never failed to impress.

Looming over the acres and acres and acres of land it occupied, it was a clear display of superfluous wealth on the part of Endeavor and his massive ego, traditional architecture notwithstanding. Or it had been, before.

In recent years, the slowly healing Todoroki clan had managed to reconceive the frigid, stifling compound into something resembling a home, though Fuyumi, her partner, and their father were the only ones who still lived there. Todoroki’s mother visited more often than not, but she had taken up residence in a small apartment in the same building as Natsuo for the time being, her children too anxious to leave her alone with Enji despite the progress made in their fractured relationship.

Bakugou shucked his boots off on the genkan, sliding into a pair of house slippers before following Todoroki down the winding path to the kitchen. Unnecessarily complicated, like everything in this fucking house.

They’d arrived a few hours in advance to help Fuyumi prepare. Both had no doubt that Todoroki’s sister was likely making an effort to run the show despite being eight months into her pregnancy, and Bakugou had offered to take the load of cooking off her shoulders without Todoroki even having to ask. The smile the bastard had given him had been worth it, though Bakugou wouldn’t admit to that satisfaction on pain of death. He fully planned on making up for the embarrassment of finding gratification in small acts of kindness for his friends by lording over the kitchen and terrorizing Todoroki’s father.

It was hard not to fuss, though, when they walked in to find Fuyumi bustling around. Todoroki made an aggrieved noise, raising his hands uselessly as if he could mentally will his sister to relax.

Bakugou sighed.

Fucking useless.

“You,” he said, pointing at Fuyumi, who had frozen guiltily with her ladle in the air when she’d caught sight of them, “sit the fuck down. You may be able to trick these chucklefucks into taking care of shit that lets you slip under the radar, but that’s not gonna work with me, and you know it.”

As if summoned by Bakugou’s collective insult, Natsuo and Enji appeared at the kitchen’s other entryways (because it was so ridiculously fucking big that there were three separate ways to enter) panicking at the sight of Fuyumi on her feet.

Fuyumi crossed her arms, glaring out at the lot of them. “Would you all stop fussing? I’m not an invalid.”

Bakugou raised an eyebrow. “No one said you were. You’ve just got an entire human child cooking in that stomach of yours, which is more than the rest of us can say, and you deserve to put your feet up and let us handle some of the menial shit.”

He gestured around the room as Fuyumi seemed to consider his point. “I know the court of fucking jesters here can be glaringly incompetent at the best of times, but surely they can handle picking up a few deliveries and lending a hand with cooking and cleaning.”

That earned him an amused smile from Fuyumi, a dark look from Todoroki and his father, and a begrudging nod from Natsuo. Todoroki’s mother peeked her head in over Natsuo’s shoulder, Fuyumi’s husband at her side. They both smiled at the sight of Bakugou, voice of fucking reason in this disaster of a family, and gave him a pair of highly conspicuous thumbs-up.

Sighing in defeat, Fuyumi placed the ladle on the counter and made herself comfortable in the chair her husband pulled over, sparing him an adoring look before directing Bakugou to the aprons and kicking her father and brothers out. As he reached to tie the strings of the pristine white apron he’d pulled from the needlessly large stash (considering Fuyumi was the only one who knew how to cook), a pair of hands covered his own, pushing them away to lace the cloth neatly over the small of his back. Todoroki spun him around when he was finished, and Bakugou bit his lip to swallow down a startled noise at the sight of Todoroki directing that same look his sister had just turned upon her partner at him. God, he was too good at this. Bakugou felt like his heart was going to beat itself out of his chest.

“Thank you,” he murmured under his breath, lest his sister overhear.

“Don’t fuckin’ mention it,” Bakugou huffed, feeling his cheeks heat and hating himself for it. “If you would all stop acting like she’s a delicate flower or some shit you’d probably be a lot more effective.”

Todoroki laughed, which for him usually sounded like a muted puff of air because he was unbearably repressed, and Bakugou couldn’t help leaning into the kiss he pressed into his forehead before stepping back out of his space. Ugh. He hated being nice. His chest felt like a disgusting, warm, gooey mess, and Bakugou wanted nothing to do with it.

Todoroki cleared out before his sister could call him on it, his own list of tasks tucked neatly into his pocket. Bakugou would know. He fucking put it there, deciphering the jumbled texts Fuyumi’s husband had sent into a clear-cut checklist. The hopelessly domestic feeling made him kind of want to vomit, but as it was, he shook his head clear of Todoroki’s lingering, hazy warmth and set to work.

-

“Well,” Bakugou said harshly, wrapping Todoroki’s injured arm in a makeshift tourniquet, “that was a resounding fucking success.”

“Katsuki,” Todoroki murmured.

“No,” Bakugou snarled, voice wet and shaky. “You don’t get to fucking ‘Katsuki’ me. I told you I had that shit handled and you walk in and fuckin — fuckin —”

“Yank you out of the way of a falling piece of concrete?” Todoroki offered weakly.

“And nearly get fucking crushed by it yourself?” Bakugou hissed. “I saw it coming, asshole.”

Bakugou had barely managed to blast the jagged slab of concrete apart before it smashed Todoroki’s head in, a large chunk of it still catching his shoulder and upper arm. The mangled mess of muscle and bone had had Bakugou’s stomach turning in horror as Todoroki’s face twisted in pain.

“Better me than you,” Todoroki said, unrepentant, and if they weren’t currently walled in by debris and Todoroki wasn’t already bleeding out, Bakugou would’ve killed him.

What?” Bakugou bit out, Todoroki’s face slackening as he realized his mistake. “What the fuck does that mean, Shouto? You think I’m not strong enough to—”

“No!” Todoroki cut him off, wincing as his outburst jostled his shoulder. “That’s not—Shit, I didn’t mean it like that. Of course, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Then what,” Bakugou growled, adjusting the tourniquet and putting pressure on Todoroki’s shoulder.

Todoroki made a helpless noise, head thumping back against the precariously positioned block of uprooted concrete he was leant against.

“I don’t know how to explain this to you,” he admitted finally, a combination of pain and frustration turning the corners of his tone hard and edged.

“Try,” Bakugou demanded.

Todoroki glared, baring his teeth.

“What do you want me to say? What can I say that wouldn’t piss you off? I care about you, Katsuki. You’re my friend, and I made a mistake, not because I don’t trust you, but because you were in danger and it scared me. I’ve lost you once before and I—” he swallowed tightly, and Christ, if looks could kill he would’ve burned a hole straight through the floor. “I just moved.

And Bakugou —

Bakugou just stared, open-mouthed with shock. Todoroki wasn’t one for grand declarations, even if he was a dramatic little shit, and the admission that Bakugou mattered to him enough to put himself in harm’s way without second thought —

Todoroki’s next breath came out a startled wheeze, eyes wide and concerned. As though he had any right to be concerned looking like a fucking science experiment gone horribly wrong propped up against the wall.

“You’re crying,” he said dumbly.

“Congratulations,” Bakugou snapped, scrubbing futilely at his eyes. “You have basic fucking skills of observation. Just — shut up.”

He sniffled a bit and Todoroki tried not to feel like he’d kicked an angry, ruffled puppy. He had an inkling that if he voiced that analogy Bakugou really would kill him, earlier near fatality aside.

He’d seen Bakugou cry before, had no way of avoiding it with how closely linked the two of them were. He’d seen him cry over missions, over minor inconveniences that had broken a dam of stress built up over weeks, over nightmares, over guilt, over the sight of his partner lying broken and bruised and smiling (because, of course) in a cot headed for surgery. He’d held his hand through some, unsure of how else to provide comfort, and stood back during others, leaving him in Kirishima and Midoriya’s capable hands.

He’d never been the reason for Bakugou’s tears, though.

Coupled with the constant pain radiating from his shoulder, it was a bit of a miserable feeling.

He opened his mouth to say something, anything, only to find himself interrupted by none other than Midoriya. God, if Todoroki could applaud his friend’s timing without further destroying his arm, he would.

“Kacchan!” Midoriya called through the makeshift wall to Bakugou’s left. “Todoroki-kun! Are you both alright?”

Todoroki managed all of a pained grunt before Bakugou took over, voice miraculously steady despite the way it had been fracturing apart before.

“We’re both here,” he yelled back. “Shouto’s injured pretty badly, shoulder and upper arm. I made a tourniquet with some of the fucking debris, but it’s just a stopgap. He needs a hospital. Also, use our fucking hero names, nerd, we’re still on duty.”

Todoroki huffed a laugh, and Midoriya’s tone when he assured them he and Uraraka would have them out soon was relieved. Trust Bakugou and his typical brashness to set everyone to rights.

They didn’t say a word to each other as Uraraka floated pieces of concrete free, careful not to collapse any of the supporting detritus on Bakugou and Todoroki’s hunched forms. The media was already crawling around the scene when they made it out, Midoriya and Bakugou using their quirks to aid their landing from where they’d been forced to jump. Uraraka floated Todoroki gently down beside them, the paramedics ready with a cot by the time they reached the ground.

They didn’t say a word to each other, but when Bakugou brushed his bangs back and kissed his temple, somehow Todoroki had a feeling it wasn’t for the media’s benefit.

-

Todoroki was grounded for a week after that stunt and, despite all his blustering, Bakugou ended up injuring himself badly enough alongside Midoriya soon after that Aizawa and All Might stepped in to demand they take a few days off.

Kirishima and Kaminari were more than happy to accommodate the sudden increase in apartment residents, Bakugou demanding Todoroki stay with them for lack of confidence that the half-baked idiot would redress his wounds and feed himself instead of sleeping the week away. With him now benched as well, the two of them ended up lounging around the house with paperwork for the better part of the afternoon, fielding calls from their respective offices until dinner rolled around and Bakugou, unable to stand another take out order after days of Kirishima and Kaminari’s fussing, made his way to the kitchen. Todoroki followed, worked to the bone. The characters on the stacks and stacks of papers piled around the living room had started running together, and the voices on the other end of the line had begun devolving into incomprehensible white noise. It was as good a time as any to call it quits, and being present while Bakugou cooked had always had a sort of calming effect on him. He went about it as methodically as he did everything else, and the kitchen never smelled anything short of heavenly.

After years of observing, he’d picked up a few things himself. Enough, at least, that Bakugou let him help dice the vegetables when he bored of simply watching. They were about halfway through it when Kirishima returned, covered in dust and grime from a day’s worth of hero work that had both Bakugou and Todoroki scowling in envy. He laughed at the both of them, wisely choosing not to comment on the fact that they were up and about despite their injuries.

“God, that smells fucking amazing,” he said instead, leaning in the doorway of their (normal sized, for fuck’s sake) kitchen and inhaling deeply.

“Of course it does,” Bakugou snorted, bringing the wooden spoon in his hand down lightly on Kirishima’s nose. “Go take a fucking shower, nasty. I’m not feeding you otherwise.”

Kirishima laughed, rubbing at the condensation left on his nose as Bakugou tossed the spoon into the sink.

“Asshole,” he said, sounding remarkably fond for all that it was meant to be an insult.

He was in the shower by the time Kaminari stumbled through the door, weepy and exhausted and absolutely drooling at the thought of Bakugou’s cooking. Bakugou sent him packing to the other bathroom without so much as a glance, Todoroki offering him a sympathetic smile as he dragged himself off with a whine.

“Grown fucking men,” Bakugou muttered, “You’d think they’d know better.”

Todoroki hummed from his position at the island, flipping through a book. He’d been relegated to the sidelines as soon as Bakugou had fired up the stove, and had grabbed a volume at random from Kaminari’s impressive collection of manga stacked painstakingly along the shelves in the living room.

The two that had been on duty joined soon after, and Bakugou plated them all a generous helping. There were only three stools at the island, for each of the apartment’s usual tenants, so Bakugou ended up sitting atop the counter and shoveling his food down as his roommates bantered about their days.

“What did you guys get up to while we were gone?” Kirishima asked, turning the conversation over to the pitifully house arrested pair.

“Enough paperwork to make want to gouge my eyes out with my pen,” Todoroki muttered, grinning slightly as Bakugou muffled a laugh into his sleeve.

“He’s such a bad influence on you,” Kirishima sighed quietly just as Kaminari leaned past him to wiggle his eyebrows at them.

“Oh?” he said suggestively. “Is that all you got up to?”

Bakugou and Todoroki exchanged a confused glance.

“What the fuck else would we have done?” Bakugou asked, setting his emptied plate to the side and stretching his hands above his head until his back cracked with a satisfying pop.

Kaminari stared flatly at them both, disappointment evident in his features as Kirishima snorted into his hand.

“You’re telling me,” Kaminari said finally, “that you two lovebirds were at home, alone, all day, and you didn’t do anything?

Todoroki frowned, shaking his head slowly at the answering disbelief in Kaminari’s expression.

“Dunceface,” Bakugou sighed, “You’re not seriously telling me you forgot we’re not actually dating. It’s an act, remember? Been going on for five years now, kind of hard not to notice.”

The pindrop silence in the aftermath of Bakugou’s comment was so decidedly unfathomable coming from his loud-mouthed housemates, himself included, that Bakugou’s hackles actually rose.

“What?” he demanded.

“Dude,” Kaminari said, eyes wide and incredulous. “You’re not serious.”

“Of course he’s serious,” Todoroki said.

Dude.” Kaminari gaped, Kirishima groaning and dropping his head into his hands.

“I can’t believe you two are in the top five,” Kirishima said, “I know you guys are like, emotionally challenged or whatever, but this is ridiculous.”

Todoroki and Bakugou stared.

“What the fuck,” Bakugou said eventually, unable to stomach the despairing looks his roommates were giving them, “are you talking about?”

“Just,” Kirishima sighed, Kaminari wailing something about romance being dead behind him, “go sit on the couch. I’m calling Midoriya.”

-

Bakugou felt a little targeted.

He and Todoroki were sat on the couch in his living room, his legs across Todoroki’s lap, with Kirishima, Kaminari, and Midoriya sat in a loose semi-circle around them. Uraraka, who shared an apartment with Midoriya and Aoyama, was listening through a joint call Midoriya had made with Iida and Asui, Sero and Ashido similarly set to speaker on Kirishima’s phone.

“So,” Midoriya began, fingers steepled as he tried not to let the existential weight of Kirishima and Kaminari’s revelation trample him underfoot. “Kacchan. Shouto.”

“Izuku,” Todoroki returned.

“Deku,” Bakugou snapped.

“Kirishima-kun and Kaminari-kun seem to be under the impression that you two still think your relationship is fake.”

The look in his eyes begged them to tell him he was wrong.

“What do you mean ‘think’?” Bakugou asked, irked.

Todoroki nodded. “It is fake.”

Silence. Again.

All those fucking times Bakugou had demanded quiet from this horde of extras, and the one time he wanted an explanation they all chose to keep their mouths shut.

“Oh…wow,” Sero said finally, the tinny echo of his voice over the phone grating on Bakugou’s ears.

“A lot to unpack, ribbit,” Asui commented lightly.

Midoriya, for all that he usually looked like someone had shoved sunshine up his ass, made an aborted motion with his hands like he wanted to strangle them.

“Kacchan,” he said with a forced sense of calm, “you know that tally you guys kept? Of all the times you’d accidentally touch or kiss when there was no one around to fool? Do you guys still do that?”

“Yeah,” he said, frowning at the collective groan that received.

“We’re two months into the most recent one,” Todoroki offered, drawing mindless patterns into Bakugou’s thigh to relieve the mounting tension of their friends’… intervention?

“And what,” Midoriya asked, “is the score?”

“Thirty-four to thirty-nine, my favour,” Bakugou answered smugly.

Todoroki scowled. He’d lost himself another point earlier that very day, a there-and-gone peck against Bakugou’s lips as thanks for replacing his dried-up pen with a new one.

“So, what you’re telling us,” Ashido piped up, “is that over the last sixty or so days, you guys have slipped up on more than half of em’ at least?

A dawning sense of dreadful realization was starting to settle upon the pair.

“Yeah?” Bakugou said, strained. “And?”

“Todoroki-kun,” Uraraka said then, “Do you remember that promotional concert Kyouka-chan held a few months ago? Where her drummer fell ill so she called in a favor with Bakugou-kun?”

Todoroki grimaced. “I remember…parts.”

Unlike Bakugou, Todoroki wasn’t a lightweight, nor an alcoholic disaster when he was drunk. Still, he’d participated a little too enthusiastically in the open bar following an argument with his father, and Bakugou had stayed at his apartment that night, rubbing his back through the vomiting spells and getting food and water in him incrementally. They were familiar enough with sharing a bed from years of family events or nights that ended a little too tipsy to get behind the wheel that it hadn’t really stuck out in Todoroki’s memory until Uraraka’s mention.

“Uh huh,” Uraraka giggled, “Do you remember what you talked about when you were drunk?”

Todoroki squinted. His memory of that night was snippets of loud, flavorful music vibrating in his bones and bits and pieces of stitched together conversation. Bakugou grinning behind the drums, Jirou’s proud smile as he showed off a bit during his solo, Bakugou traipsing off the stage satisfied and sweaty, spinning his sticks between deft fingers and pointing them at Todoroki, Bakugou’s laugh at some drunk comment he’d managed, Bakugou, Bakugou, Bakugou.

Todoroki’s eyes widened.

Fuck.

“Well?” Bakugou demanded, startling him back to the present. “What’s that fish-mouthed stare for, the fuck did you ramble about when you got shitfaced at that concert?”

Todoroki swallowed thickly.

“You, Bakugou-chan,” Asui said, “Just you.”

“‘Katsuki’s so fucking good at everything it’s ridiculous, look,’” Sero said. “True.”

“‘Katsuki’s so godamn pretty it’s not fair,’” Ashido provided. “Agree, honestly.”

“‘Do you know how soft his lips are? Sometimes they get chapped, but they’re usually so soft it makes me kind of want to punch him. Does that sound like him? That sounds like him, doesn’t it.’” Midoriya recounted with a smile.

Oh god. Todoroki didn’t think it was possible, what with his general complete lack of awareness in social situations, but he was going to die of embarrassment.

“Okay,” he said thinly, “Maybe we should st—”

“‘You know he always brings flowers when we visit my mother. She’s got a little vase by the window just for him, and even if I haven’t been by in a while there’s always a fresh bouquet every couple of weeks. He never lets them wilt. How could anyone ever know Bakugou Katsuki and not fall in love with him?’” Uraraka said softly.

Todoroki didn’t dare look over at Bakugou, emotion curled tight in his throat. How could he not have known? God, he was an idiot. There was a fucking limit to how deeply he could suppress things, and yet Todoroki had managed to push his feelings down far enough that he hadn’t even realized how head-over-heels in love he’d been all this time. He wondered, idly, distantly, when it had started.

“Of course,” Kirishima said, “We thought Katsuki knew all that. He’s said his fair share of embarrassing crap about you too. I guess it never occurred to any of us that the reason you guys only did that when you were drunk is because you didn’t actually have it figured out when you were sober.”

“We just thought it was you two being emotionally constipated in the usual, ‘I don’t talk about my feelings ‘cause I don’t have any’ way,” Midoriya said, “Not the ‘we’ve been dating for years and hadn’t realized it’ way.”

“Oh,” Bakugou squeaked, and when Todoroki finally forced himself to look, he had his hands covering his face, skin red and flushed underneath. He didn’t know if that was a good or a bad sign.

The atmosphere in the room was beginning to tilt from exasperated awe to mildly awkward as everyone watched them process in silence.

“Um,” Todoroki said intelligently, “We should probably talk.”

“Finally,” Kaminari snorted, leaning back on his hands where he was perched on the coffee table.

No one moved. Todoroki sighed, resigned.

“Katsuki,” he said.

Bakugou made a garbled noise into his hands before dragging them down his face and turning to glare at the circle of traitors he called friends. They knew how deeply he resented confronting his own emotions, and yet.

“Will the peanut gallery,” he seethed, “get the fuck out!”

“Oh!” Midoriya scrambled to his feet flushing, Kirishima and Kaminari doing the same.

“Sorry, man,” Kirishima said sheepishly, a chorus of flustered goodbyes echoing from his and Deku’s phones as the rest of them signed off. “We’ll head over to Mina’s for a bit.”

“Do that,” Bakugou hissed, tamping down on the light spark of guilt he felt at essentially kicking them out of their own apartment. They’d brought this on themselves.

Midoriya squeezed his shoulder then Todoroki’s as he walked past them to the door, following Kirishima out. Kaminari dawdled a bit to dig through the kitchen for something, letting out an ‘aha!’ as he surfaced with a few bottles of alcohol in hand. He set them down on the coffee table with a solemn look.

“You’ll need these.”

Todoroki had to hold Bakugou down to keep him from blowing his friend’s face off.

-

They did end up needing them.

The silence stretched between them, heavy with things unsaid, until Bakugou physically couldn’t take it anymore. He yanked his legs off Todoroki’s lap and grabbed a bottle at random, unscrewing the cap as he stormed into the kitchen for glasses. Todoroki joined him, looking rather haggard and drained, and they clinked their glasses in anguished harmony before downing the finger of burning whiskey Bakugou had poured for each.

A not-insignificant amount of the bottle had disappeared by the time either of them managed to speak. Todoroki’s head felt fuzzy, thoughts of all the things he’d apparently said the last time he’d been intoxicated working him into a downward spiral. Bakugou was slightly unsteady on his feet, hip against the counter as a soft red overtook his cheeks and ears, spreading down to his neck.

He’s gorgeous, Todoroki thought despairingly.

“Don’t fuckin —” Bakugou raised his arms, crossing them over his face, “Don’ look at me.”

Todoroki frowned, curling strong fingers around each of Bakugou’s wrists. He didn’t like it when he hid.

He tugged sharply, too sharply, sending Bakugou stumbling into his chest with all the poise and grace of a newborn deer.

“Fuck,” he mumbled, grabbing at his forearms to steady him. “Sorry.”

Bakugou looked up at him, swaying slightly, and Todoroki—fuck, Todoroki couldn’t do this anymore.

He slid his hands down over his hips, tilted his head down, and kissed him for all he was worth.

Bakugou groaned against his lips, bringing his hands up to frame Todoroki’s face as he pressed into it.

They’d probably kissed hundreds of times over the course of their fake relationship; light, fluttering kisses against cheeks and foreheads and lips; heavy, heated kisses in the aftermath of a rough mission with the cameras salivating after them; slow, warm kisses traded at family gatherings as a goodbye.

But never anything like this.

Todoroki’s hold on Bakugou’s hips was rough, and the heated press of his mouth was nothing short of bruising. Bakugou was no less, fingers just this sight of too tight against Todoroki’s face, shuffling through his hair. He moaned, unbearably soft, at the slide of Todoroki’s tongue against his, hips jerking forward mindlessly. Todoroki made a low noise at that, grip tightening to hold him still. He nipped lightly at Bakugou’s lip in answer to the other hero’s whine of complaint before pulling back to catch his breath. They looked at each other, gazes molten and chests heaving as they panted, and Bakugou brought his thumb down to swipe across the swollen curve of Todoroki’s bottom lip.

God, he wanted that mouth everywhere.

Todoroki made an aborted growling noise, shoving Bakugou up against the edge of the counter before lifting him onto it.

Shit. If his not-boyfriend-except-maybe-boyfriend got any fucking hotter Bakugou was just going to up and die on him.

Todoroki slid into the space between his legs like he fucking belonged there, Bakugou’s thighs squeezing at his hips as he kissed down the halfie’s throat. Todoroki groaned, getting a hand in his hair and yanking him back up to kiss him. The choked, breathy gasp Bakugou let out at the pressure nearly pushed him over the edge then and there, and he licked into his mouth with a vengeance, tasting the sharp tang of whiskey and the smoky sweetness that was just Bakugou.

He pulled back to take his turn at Bakugou’s neck, remembering his reaction from earlier and using the grip on his hair to pull his head to the side. Bakugou bared his throat with a hoarse whine, evidently enjoying the manhandling more than Todoroki ever thought he would. God, that was hot. Todoroki was fairly certain if his pants got any tighter, he was going to either burn the apartment down or frost half the building in an effort not to combust.

With that in mind, he ground his hips forward with every press of teeth and lips against Bakugou’s throat, the other man gasping and squirming in his hold. Bakugou shifted forward on the counter and Todoroki had all of a second to make a questioning noise against his skin before he was rolling his hips up in a dirty grind that had his head lolling in Todoroki’s grip, mouth hanging open.

“You,” Todoroki swore, “Fuck.

Bakugou grinned, dragging his tongue across his teeth and that was it. Todoroki’s life was over, he’d never be able to go back to a time before he’d seen that, and god, he didn’t want to.

Bakugou lifted his hips to repeat the movement and Todoroki bit into his collarbone, dragging his lips over the scattering of marks he’d left to the swollen pout of Bakugou’s mouth.

“So good,” he murmured against his mouth. “Fuck, Katsuki, you’re so good.

“Shut up,” Bakugou wailed, “Fucking—you can’t say shit like that or I’ll—”

Todoroki raised an eyebrow, and Christ, how was he so effortlessly attractive, the devastating motherfucker.

“You’ll?”

“Fuck off,” Bakugou practically whined.

He was a wreck, and oh, the things it made Todoroki want to do to him. He wondered if Bakugou would let him drag him down into his lap, force him to make a mess of himself grinding against his thigh while Todoroki sat back and watched. Wondered if he could get the other off simply by whispering soft, mindless praise into his ear while Bakugou touched himself. Wondered if he could bend him over the counter right now, or bend over himself, if that’s what Bakugou wanted.

The images were enough to send Todoroki over, gasping against Bakugou’s skin as he pulled him tight against him. When he came down, breaths stilted and heavy, a glance down told him Bakugou had finished too, and he tipped his head up in surprise.

Bakugou, arms loose and tired where they rested over Todoroki’s shoulders, went impossibly redder.

“You were — talking,” he said defensively. “It was…fuck. It was kinda fucking hot, okay?”

He blinked uncomprehendingly for a moment before Bakugou’s words translated and his eyes widened. He’d said all of that out loud? And Bakugou had enjoyed it?

“Oh,” he said, trying not to let the mortification bowl him over.

Bakugou watched him flounder, helplessly amused despite himself.

“You are such a fucking idiot,” he said finally, hauling him in for a hard kiss before leaning back. “And apparently so am I, for fucking falling in love with you.”

Todoroki choked on his next breath.

What?” he wheezed.

Bakugou looked thoroughly unimpressed. “Need me to spell it out for you, halfie?”

Yes,” Todoroki hissed, “Please.”

Bakugou blinked, taking in the way his scarred, calloused hands framed Todoroki’s face, the feeling in his heart that insisted on how right it felt.

“You’re the most ridiculous, cliched disaster of a human being I’ve ever met,” he said definitively. “And I’m partners with fucking Deku. You replace my coffee with decaf when I’ve had too much caffeine, and you think I don’t notice. You send me pictures of animals that remind you of me, and unlike the pictures everyone else usually picks, they’re usually not fucking feral. You buy me books you think I’d like, and you leave your shit all over my fucking house, and you’re a godsend to sleep next to because I can roll over to whichever side of you I want without waking you up.”

“You stay with me when I get sick — like sick sick — and deal with me being a pouty, clingy fucking child about it. You’re always there if I get hurt looking all nervous and gross and sad, and even though you’re shit at comforting people it always somehow fucking manages to make me feel better. Every time you fuck up and earn another tally its for cute shit like kissing me when I’m tired or upset or you making sure I’m okay. You sat next to me when I cried like a little bitch after apologizing to Deku for all the shit I put him through as a kid and you didn’t say anything, you were sorry about me getting kidnapped because you went and thought it was your fault like some sort of idiot, you fucking took a concrete block to the shoulder because you were scared I’d get hurt, and yeah, I figured most of this out when we were grinding on each other in my kitchen like teenagers, but I don’t know how I’ve spent the last five fucking years pretending to date you without realizing I wasn’t really pretending at all.”

“You…” Todoroki looked destroyed.

Bakugou, for once in his godamn life, swallowed his anxiety down and waited.

“Fuck,” Todoroki murmured, “shit.

Bakugou huffed a laugh, idly twining the strands of Todoroki’s hair between in his fingers.

Beat that, he thought.

And then Todoroki went and did.

He thumbed circles into his hips and met his gaze with a helpless, overwrought smile.

“I love you,” he said simply, and Bakugou’s breath left him in one fell swoop.

It was his turn to stammer, throat working around the everything and nothing clogged in his throat. Stupid, ethereal bastard fucking lighting up his kitchen like an angel at one in the morning with those three fucking words.

Fuck you,” he settled on finally, punching his uninjured shoulder. “That’s not — I give you a whole godamn speech, and you just — fucking —”

“Sorry,” Todoroki said, still smiling. “I didn’t know what else to say.”

And really, what else was there to say?

Bakugou huffed, pressing a kiss against the corner of his mouth.

“I love you too, asshole.”