Actions

Work Header

Ocean's Treasure

Chapter Text

   A sweet August blush glows through the window, tiny dust particles dance in the quiet of the living room. The house is at peace, a gentle hush all around. With a sigh of content, Eijirou Kirishima lays his backpack down on the couch. He smiles tiredly; he had gotten lucky. After a night of no sleep, a long day of advanced placement classwork and even his extra curricular work, he had somehow managed to get home first. Good, he should still have about an hour to rest until his parents get back- the thought made his shoulders relax, his brow un-furrow.  One hour to enjoy his freedom; one hour before the yelling, screaming and violence ensues.

   Just as his eyes drift slowly closed, an aggravated curse calls from the other side of the front door. Eijirou sits bolt upright in a panic. They shouldn't be here yet! As he scrambles to get up and race to the top of the stairs, he hears his father growl from the doorway. He had just gotten to the top stop when his father snarls, "And where the fuck do you think you're going?"

   He gulps, turning to face the irate man. Eijirou was fairly big for a middle school kid, about 5'5" and 196 lbs, but he felt minuscule compared to his father. 6'8" and 275lbs, his father could scare the shit out of even an MMA fighter; his bulging eyes deranged with misplaced rage and hard liquor. No one could stand up to him physically, not that anyone was ballsy enough to try. Eijirou's only calming thought was that at least it was just his dad- if it was just his dad, maybe he could get away with a punch or two and he would let him go. If his mother were around, all hell would break loose. His father was a physical threat, but his mother could at least out rank him verbally. No one was more verbally abusive than his mother, so at least Eijirou only had to contend with one of them today. 

"You fuckin' deaf, you worthless piece of shit? Get down here, NOW!"

   Fuck.

   Trying not to anger them further Eijirou quickly came back to the ground floor. "S-sorry sir," he whimpered.

   His father grunted, eyeing him as he placed his work helmet on the dining room table with an echoing thud. "Why isn't dinner made?"

   Eijirou's eyes fell to the floor. "I'm sorry dad. I just got home a minute ago and-"

"I don't need your goddamn life story, you shit! How many times do we have to have this talk? Dinner needs to be on the table when I walk through that fuckin' door, got it, brainless?"

   Eijirou frowned, trying to get the courage to speak. "B-but dad, I have my entrance exam to study for and-"

"You fuckin' talkin' back boy?!" his father roared, backhanding Eijirou in the jaw; the force of the blow knocking Eijirou to the ground. His vision blurred as he tried to sit upright. His jaw smarted as he went to feel for injures; it felt dislocated. A puddle of blood sat on the floor beside him. Shit, my teeth must have gotten my lip, he thought, gently brushing at it. He winced as he heard his mother's steps draw near.

"Oh get up, Eijirou. Never seen such a pathetic brat in all my life," she snapped under her breath. "Hiroto, if you're gonna waste your time bitchin', then just go do it yourself. And have more common sense, you lout- I'm tired of all the goddamn phone calls from the school about 'this bruise this, or that cut there,' if you're gonna beat 'em, then do it right! Or else deal with the fuckin' school yourself.. waste of a goddamn parent," she fumed, hauling Eijirou up by the arm hard.

"I don't remember asking for your advice, Yuna; and look who's talkin', ya bitch! You're probably the poster-child for two- faced, unbridled rage! Sometimes there doesn't even need to be a trigger! You just fly off the damn handle!" his father shouted.

"Ha? You gotta bone to pick with me, Mr. Father-of-the-Year?" his mother smirked venomously. She yanked Eijirou up by the arm into the middle of the conversation. "Let's see what he thinks! Go on Ei, why don't you tell your father what a waste of fucking space he is!" she laughed, pushing Eijirou closer to his father. Eijirou gaped up at his father's enraged features, shaking his head in refusal as quickly as his neck would allow. His father shoved Eijirou back toward his mother, who promptly moved out of the way and let him smash into a large curio cabinet. The glass windows shattered on impact, and the shelves with all their fragile inhabitants, came crashing down on top of him. Eijirou howled in pain, shards of glass cutting his arms, neck, chest and face.

   His mother kicked a shelf away from his face and glared down at him. "You will replace all of that. And clean it up. And you're grounded for a month. If I hear even a single bitch or moan about any of this, you'll never see the light of day again, got it?"

   Eijirou quietly began pulling glass out of his body, careful to curl up against the wall as his mother strode past and began stacking shelves on the floor. His father strutted over and grabbed him by his shirt collar, lifting him off the floor. He yelped, hands feebly trying to pry his father off of him. Eijirou felt something cold and sharp pierce his rib cage as his father pulled him up to eye level. "Mommy won't always get to intervene, just remember that kid. And you better not mention this to anyone at school; you remember what happened last time, don't you?" he sneered.

   Eijirou felt the shard of glass carve back and forth along his rib bone and bit his lip to prevent him from crying out. He nodded quickly and stifled a groan as his father dropped him and walked away. He trembled on his knees, his limbs numb and bloody. He gasped, trying to control his breathing and shut off his emotions for fear of crying. Before he could stand, his father peered around the corner.

"If dinner isn't ready in 15, you will regret it," he cooed a murderous, happy grin on his face.

Chapter Text

   Ahhh!!

   Kirishima sat bolt upright, chest heaving. He looked back and forth across the room, reaffirming that they were not actually there. He patted his arms, touched his face, staring at his hands. Though the scars were there to remind him, the past had stayed where it belongs; it was only a dream.

   Quieting his rapid gasps, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, feeling his feet hit the floor. The frigid tiling grounded him; he is safe. He repeated this mantra as he dressed, brushed his sharp teeth and headed to the kitchen for breakfast.

   I am safe.

   I am safe.

   As soon as he had turned 18, Eijirou Kirishima had left his abusive adopted parents behind. At the tender age of four, Kirishima's parents had died overseas on a business trip, causing him an immense anguish. For many years, he had become mute, and almost all the kids at the orphanage teased him. His lack of communication also made him a less favorable choice for adoption. So when his awful parents, Hiroto and Yuna, showed the slightest interest, the orphanage coordinator was thrilled that he may finally leave.

   Eijirou's timid behavior only made him an easy target for their agitated attitudes. He was expected to be perfect, and when he fell short, there was no end to their utter disappointment.

   Due to the long suffering of abuse, Kirishima was shy, timid and mostly closed off as he grew. To keep the nightmares and anxiety at bay, he turned to exercise, sculpting his exterior to be strong enough to guard his weakened interior. Now at 27 years old, the bright redhead was 6 ft, 160 lbs of pure, lean muscle. Being more quiet and reserved had made it difficult at first for Kirishima to live on his own, but luckily he had quickly been taken under the wing of a very enthusiastic extrovert. Denki Kaminari had swooped into his life very easily, almost as though he had always known Kirishima. Thanks to his new friend, Kirishima now had a three bedroom apartment to share, and a small flock of close friends to lean on. Having never had many good friends as a child in the orphanage, the redhead bathed in the companionship, and treasured all the love they were willing to give.

   Kirishima smiled warmly as two of said friends entered the kitchen. He chuckled to himself at the sight of his best friend clinging onto his boyfriend like a sleepy koala. Shinso, the one who was actually exhausted from a 12 hour night shift, dumped Kaminari in a chair unceremoniously as he made his way to the coffeepot. "Mornin'," he mumbled, giving Kiri's shoulder a squeeze. "Whatcha' makin'?"

"Oh, just wanted to throw a little something together- there's some pan fried salmon, miso soup and some leftover rice. Would you mind bringing the umeboshi and nori with you? I have them on the counter there," he nodded towards the side dishes with his chin, carrying the other dishes carefully to the table. As soon as the food was placed down. Kaminari's hand darted out for a Hokkaido milk roll, but Shinso swatted his hand away. "Be patient," he chided, placing the sides down as he laughed. "Pick your head up off the table and properly thank your roomie for the meal."

"Uuuugggghh, fine," Kaminari groaned, gathering himself up in his seat. "Itadakimasu!" he exclaimed before shoving a roll in his mouth.

"All Might's sake, Denk, you disgust me," Shinso shook his head, sighing.

"Yough loff meh," the blonde smiled, shoveling food onto his plate greedily.

   Still glaring, Shinso turned to Kirishima with a grateful smile. "He really is lucky to have you, ya know. Itadakimasu," he said, raising his mug of coffee.

"Shouldn't I be saying that to you?" Kiri laughed politely. "I mean, he's your boyfriend."

   Shinso chortled, genuinely moved. "Nah, all I do is fuck 'em."

"I'm right here, assholes," Kaminari sneered, digging into his fish.

"Anyway, got any plans today, Kiri?" Kaminari asked between mouthfuls. "Shin- Shin and I were going to go to the aquarium! Heard they have a new exhibit!"

"Don't call me that," Shinso dead-panned, sipping his coffee. "But yes, please join us if you like Kirishima."

   As the memories of his nightmare threatened to haunt the apartment for the day, Kirishima quickly decided. "That sounds great; Count me in!"

Chapter Text

   Kirishima grins, at peace among the beautiful sea creatures and his tiny friend group. Far past the point of feeling like a 3rd wheel, Kirishima walked peacefully between his two friends; Kaminari and Shinso always make sure to walk arm-in-arm with Kirishima, so he never feels lonely and never gets overwhelmed by the size of the crowds.

   The blonde is loudly moaning, complaining to his other half about this and that- most of which Kirishima just lets fade into background noise; He's too busy admiring the gentle sway of the bright pink jellyfish in front of him to be bothered with much until they enter the next room. The large room has a glass window covering the remainder of it's three walls, the building sharply ending in it's corridor. The room is oddly completely empty besides two other men who stand in front of the window to the far right.

"Seriously? For a new exhibit, it sure doesn't seem too popular," Denki groans. "Are we in the right building?"

His partner nods. "Wonder what it is," Shinso muses, pulling Kaminari closer. "I don't see it anywhere...does it have a special camouflage or something? That would be kinda neat."

   Kirishima searches the remaining windows to the creature's enclosure, but besides a few small rock formations and fake seaweed, the tank appears to be empty. "Wonder why it needs such a large enclosure," he thought aloud, following closer to Shinso as they neared the right wall. As he drew near, he heard the end ramblings of the shorter of the two visitors nearby.

"What a fuckin' waste. Who the hell pays almost 3,000 yen to see a giant goldfish! It doesn't even do anything!!"

   Intrigued, Kirishima stepped up beside his friends to get a closer look; True, a goldfish is a goldfish no matter it's size, but he was still curious. His curiosity did not disappoint.

   He did not see a goldfish in the tank; Not even close.

   Now, if he were in an anime, his eyes would grow comically large, may even bug straight out of his skull like a cartoon might. For there, sitting peacefully on a large rock formation, was a man. Er, half-man; Half fish?

   Merman, his brain finally supplied. The beautiful creature sat perched on the rock in a most relaxed position, almost as if it were asleep. His muscular arms rested beneath a shock of sharp, spiky blonde hair, softly swaying with the natural vibe of the water. Glittering sunset orange scales lined the creature's cheeks, forearms and elbows and melted into an obsidian black to form his tail. Explosions of the almost neon orange reverberated through the ends of the fish's powerful tail as it lay limply on the edge of the boulder. The very tip of the enormous dorsal fin peaked out from a corner of the rock formation, and Kirishima couldn't take his eyes off of the creature's enchanting face. 

"Holy shit," he breathed, mystified. He had been captivated by stories of merpeople ever since he was little. His parents used to tell him all the stories of them back when he was little- the ethereal residents of the deep; the glow of their unblemished skin, the shining of their eyes, the lilting of their songs. Ever since, he had always held these stories close, and hoped that someday, he may get to see some pictures of one if he got lucky. He never imagined he would actually get to see a live one.  And this one put all the stories to shame; It's sharp, defined jaw, muscles littered with white scars, it's tail thin, but long and elegant- he looked like something straight out of a daydream.

   Kaminari let out a low, sad whistle, snapping the redhead back to reality. "Well, I bet he'd be more impressive if he didn't look like he was dead. Have you seen it move at all?" he asked the two other guests.

"Nah, damn thing's probably too stupid to do much more than eat and sleep," said the taller, more gangly of the men.

"Fuckin' stupid is right," the other continued, rapping his knuckle sharply against the glass. "No wonder your kind is going extinct! You're nothing more than a glorified glamor pet!"

   Kirishima's palms were growing sweaty, his vision tunneling. He had been through years of therapy to overcome his mother's verbal abuse, but the way the man taunted the defenseless creature made him feel vulnerable in all the worst ways. He tried some of his calming breathing techniques he had been taught, placing his hand on the glass window to ground himself. He stared at it, breathing in and out in rhythm- trying to focus. After a few moments of relief, he noticed a few subtle movements in the tank. They were small, so small that if you were not directly staring, you would not see them- but as he breathed in and out, the frills along the merman's face would twitch ever so slightly... almost as if he were listening.

   Kirishima blinked in surprise. Can he hear me? he puzzled.

   Surely his breathing wasn't that loud. He turned to ask his friends when he saw the other guest strike the glass repeatedly with his foot as he yelled, "You are the biggest fuckin' waste of money I have ever spent! I hope you're happy! Stupid animals like you are lucky anyone gives a rat's ass whether you live or die. Without us, you probably would be dead! Might as well sell you and at least get some decent money for your lazy ass!"

   Visions flashed in his memory of his mother telling him about how the Mers need to be protected; How they were captured and sold on the black market for their shining scales, their beautiful fins and their powerful tails; How these creatures should be treated with reverence and respect, like all creatures- not like some trophy or prize.

   Something in him snapped.

"Hey, stop that!!" Kirishima erupted, taking swift steps toward the man. "If you don't like it here, then you can get the fuck out!- he can't!" he shouted. "This is his home; It's not his job to entertain you! Stop causing him distress and just leave already!"

   The man glared at Kirishima, rolling up his sleeve like he might try to start a fight, but his friend held him back, seeing Kirishima's menacing stare and Shinso turning to glare at them too. The two left the room, and Kirishima breathed heavily for a moment, trying to calm down.

"Thanks for having my back there- guess I got a bit carried aw-what?" he asked, confused by their flabbergasted stares. Shinso raised a finger and Kirishima follows it, turning his gaze back to the tank; Where he comes face to face with a pair of crimson red eyes.

 

 

 

 

https://preview.redd.it/c8r0zfadebr71.jpg?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=85e80d9c6e332f4bba5f9bb79095a3d8ea65b76c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://preview.redd.it/c8r0zfadebr71.jpg?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=85e80d9c6e332f4bba5f9bb79095a3d8ea65b76c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

   Kirishima yelps in surprise, instinctively jumping back a good foot or so. The merman's eyes smile, the rest of his expression unreadable.

"Woah!" Denki shouts, practically plastering his face to the tank wall in giddy excitement. "He's so fast! Do it again, Kiri! I wanna see what else he can do!"

   Kirishima blinks in confusion. "But I didn't do anything- did I?"

"Probably not intentionally," Shinso muses. He walks up to the glass, planting his own palm on it. "Perhaps he could hear the vibrations of your voice as you touched the glass, like this. Maybe he'll do it again," he said, waiting to see if the the large fish would react. But other than some minute frill movement, the blonde creature showed no signs of acknowledgment; he just kept staring at Kirishima, unperturbed.

"Ha, whatta' ya know? Must only like redheads," Kaminari laughed, giving Kirishima a gentle ribbing. Kirishima tentatively placed his palm back on the glass. Feeling awed but a bit embarrassed, he rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. "I don't know what to say," he admitted. The merman's eyes grew wider, and he flicked his shimmering tail back and forth, the flashes of orange dazzling excitedly like fire.

"Say anything dude! I think he likes you!" Kaminari encouraged.

   Kirishima looked back to the exotic creature, seeing his obvious interest and his own curiosity peak.

   Shinso gave him a thumbs up. "We can give you a bit of space- you know, so there's no pressure...or dog whistling from the peanut gallery," he chuckled, linking arms with a reluctant Denki.

"Thanks guys," he sighed, calming his nerves again at their retreating figures. He turned back, replacing his hand on the glass and meeting the merman's watchful gaze. Okay; Just start small- just something little. I can do that, he thought.

   He took a breath and smiled genially. "Uh, h-hello! My name is Kirishima- It's nice to meet you! Or, see you, I guess," he laughed anxiously. "Not sure if this can be called meeting you really." He paused again, feeling completely foolish. "Man, I hope you can actually hear me or even understand me, 'cuz I think you're really cool! I hope you know that, somehow," he felt his cheeks flush as their eyes reconnected.

   He sighed, wanting to give up, when the merman raised a webbed hand to mirror his own to the glass. Though shocked, Kirishima perked instantly. "Oh my gosh! Can you understand me?!"

   The merman rolled his eyes playfully, mouthing something. When Kirishima cocked his head in confusion, the merman nodded instead, showing off a razor sharp smile.

Chapter Text

"Wonder if he fell asleep in there- We've walked around the whole park like, three times!" Denki exclaimed.

A very exhausted chuckle came from his purple haired companion. "I've walked it three times; you've been on my back all day," he griped, dumping the blonde on a bench inside the merman's building. Kaminari complained loudly, but his boyfriend ignored him; He groaned as he stretched, back muscles spasming and twitching uncomfortably. "I hope he's okay."

"Who, Kiri? Ah, I'm sure he's fine- he's a manly guy, remember?" Kaminari laughed. "C'mon, let's go get him."

   The two walk through the empty building, looking at the tanks of creatures as they go, just as before. As they grow nearer, they hear an excited voice chattering on. Shinso cocks a brow and places a hand on Denki's chest, stopping him. He holds up a finger, expecting his mate to stop as their friend rambles on.

"- don't give me that look man! You don't understand! She just kept staring at me- what was I supposed to do? I was a shy guy- I didn't know what to say, so I just ran off!" he yelled in mock- anguish.

   The two boys looked on in amazement as the merman appeared to laugh heartily at their friend, clutching at his scaly sides in earnest glee. "Woah!" Kaminari shouted excitedly, running over. "You got him to talk?!"

   The merman startled and hissed, seeming bothered by the loud noise, shrinking back from the glass. Kirishima gave him a concerned expression, quietly apologizing.

"Try keeping it down, Denk, jeez," Hitoshi chided. "Sorry Kiri; we didn't mean to interrupt, but the aquarium is closing. We have to go."

"Oh," Kirishima whispered, visibly deflating. He took a look back at the tank- the blonde merman's expression was sullen, his hard eyes never leaving the redhead as he stood to leave. Kirishima replaced his hand on the glass, trying to smile encouraging. "I'll come back soon; I promise," he whispered.

   The merman hung his head, but swam over and placed his hand opposite Kirishima's. His eyes begged for his friend to stay.

"I promise," Kirishima reiterated, with conviction this time. The merman nodded, and waited at the glass as the men left the building, leaving him alone.

________________________________

 

   Kirishima kept to himself, sitting quietly the whole ride home. Even when the three entered the apartment, he still hadn't made a sound. Kaminari brought the redhead a bottle of water, sitting beside him on the couch, as he broke the silence. "So...he talks, huh?"

   Kirishima smirked to himself, and thought a moment before replying. "Well, I'm not quite sure. He seems to understand me just fine, and appears to try speaking back, but I don't hear any sounds. Can't tell if it's the glass, the water or a language barrier, but I feel bad. I can tell he's trying. And clearly he wants someone to talk to! He seems to lonely in there."

   Shinso sat on the arm of the sofa smiling softly. "Well, I think it's sweet of you to promise to continue seeing him; that's quite a big step for you. You didn't seem anxious when you were with him, and you two genuinely seemed to be having a good time-You've certainly improved socially, Kiri. I'm proud."

   Kirishima rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed but grateful for his friends' support. "I don't know what it is; he's just...easy to talk to."

 

Chapter Text

   A week and a half goes by before Kirishima is finally able to return to the aquarium. He would've called in sick to work the very next day if the rent wasn't due by the end of the week; but not a single day had gone by without him thinking of the merman. He hoped he hadn't forgotten him.

   He raced through the park, knocking into other pedestrians and awkwardly apologizing as he sped on, until he came to the right building. Still huffing and puffing from the pace, he rounded the last corner, finding himself alone once again. He sped over to the right side of the tank; his heart simultaneously sank and skipped a beat.

   The vibrant merman lay coiled up in a ball, almost like a snake, in the very corner of the thank. His scales appeared almost dull, his whole frame seemed small. His eyes were squeezed shut tight- he seemed distressed and unhappy.

   Kirishima's eyes misted with tears, angry with himself for not being there for his companion. He softly placed his palm on the glass, whispering, "I'm so sorry, my friend."

  The merman jolted, like he'd be struck by lightning, whipping his head around. A devilish smile grew on his face as their eyes connected and he raced toward the glass. Kirishima let out a small chuckle as the blonde slammed his hand against the glass; an enthusiastic greeting. Kirishima mirrored his action gently, giving the other a tender smile. The two gazed at each other fondly for a few moments before the merman's stare grew venomous. He bared his sharp teeth, jaw set in a silent roar, and fanned out his tail and large dorsal fin.

  The display was meant to come off angry and aggressive, but Kirishima could see in his eyes: the hurt, sadness, loneliness. He poured all his kindness into his expression, hoping the merman would feel it, would understand. "I'm sorry! I really am! I wanted to see you again, right away! But I have to go to my job so I can afford to live- so I can come see you!"

   The merman stared, still seeming angry, but he let his fins and tail relax, and chose to cross his arms instead. He nodded to Kirishima to continue."Thank you. I can't say that I'll be here everyday; it's just not feasible," he paused as the merman's lip curled in a snarl. "BUT," he paused, making sure he had the creature's eyes,"I promise to come at least once a week, and more frequently whenever I can," he finished, placing his other hand up to the window to affirm his words' authenticity. "Deal?" he pleaded, smiling softly.

   The merman seemed to mull it over, then with a roll of his eyes, he smiled, bringing his other hand up to match the redhead's. Kirishima smiled bright. "Thank you! It's so good to see you again buddy! I have so much to tell you!"

   The merman seemed to chuckle and then waved Kirishima on to tell his story. Hours went by like this, Kirishima jabbering away while the merman listened on. The two were content just to share each other's company.

   Kirishima was in the middle of a particularly funny joke when he saw the merman visibly stiffen, his eyes hard and firm. Confused, Kirishima followed his gaze to see a ragged looking man in all black against the left side of the tank, watching them. The merman's fins frayed back out, his glare hotter than fire. Concerned by his reaction, Kirishima turned to face the man. "Can I help you?" he asked, trying to remain friendly.

"No need for concern; I'm Bakugou's handler. I was just interested in your behavior, as I've never seen him react so... normally," the man stated, crossing the room to stand before the merman. The blonde, Bakugou (Kirishima gathered) spun in the other direction, flipping his tail in a cyclone of bubbles at the glass. The tired man chuckled, eyeing the great fish comically. "He tolerates me, you see, but no one else. Not 'til you, anyway. He had a hard transition from ocean to tank, but he's a rare type- they sell for millions on the black market, so we were trying to protect him. Don't know if he gets that though."

   Kirishima smirked as the merman came back over to the glass, staying close to Kiri. "His demeanor has changed quite a bit around you; It's impressive. I've even seen this little shit smile," the man teased. The merman snarled and threw up his middle finger in retort. Kirishima laughed heartily keeping his hand on the glass between him and Bakugou. "Would you mind coming around more to help us care for him? We can pay you; and I know a certain blonde who would love to have you."

   Kirishima looked back to see Bakugou's eyes light up like a kid at Christmas. He turned to Kirishima, eyes full of curiosity and hope. The redhead laughed jovially in response. "I would love to!"

Chapter Text

   The pep he felt could not be disguised as Kirishima skipped into the aquarium entry and on to the new exhibit. He smiled at every person he passed, even finger- gunned the octopus as he waltzed by, the cephalopod  unfazed.

   The redhead dashed over to his favorite spot, placed his hands on the glass and hummed a greeting. Ever since he figured out that vibrations helped the merman understand, it had come to be their special greeting to each other. He couldn't contain his glee as the rush of bubbles and glittering scales confirmed his companion's arrival. The blonde swam over gracefully, high-fiving his mirrored hand with excitement. Kirishima let out a thrilled whoop whoop! which made his partner laugh. The redhead smiled and placed his forehead to the glass. "Hey Bakubro, you ready?" 

   The Mer stuck his tongue out at the nickname, but nodded all the same. A tiny growl told the redhead his new mentor was there. He turned his excitement to the man, extending his hand.

"Welcome back, Kirishima, and thank you. My name is Shota Aizawa, Bakugou's trainer. I'll be working with you two," he said, ushering Kirishima into a back room. He caught the worried look on the blonde's face, giving him a cheery thumbs up. "Don't worry, he will be much happier when he sees you again," Aizawa said. He chuckled at Kiri's confused expression, but otherwise kept walking. "Ever been in the ocean before, you man?"

"Uh, no. No sir," Kirishima responded quickly, taken off guard by the sudden tone change.

"Well, this is not the ocean, of course, but he comes from the ocean; from the wild. No one is allowed in the water with him due to his aggression, but you may be able to change that," he concluded, pushing open another door that led to a platform surrounded by water. Kirishima's eyes fell to a cabinet near the door; oddly out of place. "Does he need a locker for his swim trunks or something?" he said with a snicker. Aizawa's expression became somber, more serious. "Let's just hope there's never another need for what's in there.. took him weeks to even eat again after the last time, let alone trust anyone."

   Kirishima stared at the cabinet and shivered. He had a guess what was in there, but he didn't want it confirmed.

   His shiver turned into a whole body quake as he saw his companion come closer to the surface of the pool. He knew he was big, having seen him so many days through the glass, but watching his full form sway through the calm waters from this new angle.. the Mer was hugeHis tail appeared to be at least seven to eight feet long, and that didn't even account for his toned, sculpted torso. Kirishima blushed nervously as Bakugou drew nearer. His delicate blonde locks pierced the still water's surface, shimmering red orbs searching for his as he emerged. He smiled gently as he rested his arms on the side of the pool wall, eyes never leaving Kirishima's.

"I'd like to properly introduce you, Kirishima; this is Bakugou, our venomous alpha merman. We suspect he may be a sub-breed of dusky bat-fish found off the Australian coast; they're very common in that area. He's still young for his breed based on his coloration, but he's also a fairly aggressive alpha, so most other sea life avoids him," he said with a chuckle, gently splashing the merman. The creature snarled and appeared to swim away, dipping back under the waves with a glare; that is, until his large onyx tail rose in the air and came slamming back down with a hearty slap! 

   The waves rose tumultuously in the tank and came raining down upon the two men. "What the...?" Kirishima sat flabbergasted as Aizawa laughed beside him.

"Yeah, he's got quite the temper on him; and quite the tail; It has poisonous barbs along the outer length, so be careful of that," Aizawa snarked, wiping droplets out of his eyes and squeezing it out of his lengthy hair. 

   Kirishima rung out his shirt, attempting to restyle his fallen hair spikes when he heard a new sound. Aizawa placed a hand to his chest, in an attempt to still him. He froze, listening intently to the soft, melodic trill, the sound echoing through the glass enclosure. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Bakugou's animated features racked with what could only be laughter. Kirishima was stunned, speechless at the beautiful symphony.

"Well would you look at that; I've never heard him laugh before," Aizawa murmured, wonder bright in his eyes. "Well done, kid."

 

 

https://preview.redd.it/av422a3s7yp71.jpg?width=640&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=84f2ea9377b2556eb61d5e9937fcf84d79cbdac4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://preview.redd.it/av422a3s7yp71.jpg?width=640&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=84f2ea9377b2556eb61d5e9937fcf84d79cbdac4

Chapter Text

   As the days went by, the blonde merman opened up bit by bit, with the help of his redheaded friend. Kirishima was given his own key and lanyard to get in each morning, and Aizawa had stopped being surprised to see him there so early after the second day; it was just routine now.

   One morning as he sat by the water's edge watching Bakugou splash about, a thought popped into Kirishima's head. "Hey, Mr. Aizawa? Do Mers speak at all?"

   The man shuffled over to the boy, winding a rope around his arm absentmindedly. "Studies on Merpeople are few and far between- most evidence comes from old sea-shanties and fishermen tales. Some say the Mers really could talk; saying their voices are lyrical, like that of the elves. Others say they speak in songs- probably sounds like Bakugou's laughter. But if you're asking if Bakugou speaks, I would have to say no; I've never heard him speak. Not even when we caught him and brought him in.. just a lot of snarling and hissing," he concluded, placing the gathered rope back by the locked cabinet and moving onto a new task.

   Kirishima pondered this information quietly. He hadn't realized he had caught Bakugou's attention until he was right in front of him. The blonde chirped at him, cocking his head to the side like a curious puppy. Kirishima chuckled, instinctively reaching out to pet the Mer, but stopped short. Bakugou wasn't growling, but his eyes were hard, threatening, the red glinting in the florescent light.

   Kiri pulled his hand back quickly with a blush. "Oh, sorry buddy! Force of habit, ya know... See something cute, pet it, haha," he said, nervously rubbing his neck.

   The Mer seemed to consider his words for a moment. He then came up to the pool's edge, eyeing the redhead for a moment, and started lifting his upper body out of the water, leaning into Kirishima's space. For a moment, they both stared at each other, until Bakugou bowed his head, bearing his spiky locks.

   Kirishima sat stunned, mesmerized by this beautiful creature before him, when Bakugou cooed again, grabbing his attention. He eyed the redhead, looking up from under thick, curly lashes. "Uh, do you want me to pet you now? Is that it?" Kirishima murmured tentatively.

   The blonde batted his eyelashes, a silent confirmation. Slowly, Kiri reached out and poked a spike. Much to his amusement, it was soft. Taking care not to spook the alpha, he strokes his hand gently through silky smooth rays of sunlit hair. He smiles, exhilerated, as he feels the Merman start purring; a rumbling sound emanating through the waters. Kirishima laughs boisterously, which in turn makes Bakugou trill with a blush.

"You're so cool, Bakugou! I feel like I learn new things about you every day- it's like a birthday surprise, except every day!" he chuckles. He gives the golden locks a final tousle before withdrawing his hand, making the blonde whimper. "Ah, it's okay buddy. You know I'll come back tomorrow! I wouldn't miss it."

   The blonde lets out a growl and leans back into Kirishima's space. Trying not to shake, Kirishima gulps down his nerves as the blonde grabs for his hand. And just like a stubborn kitten, he places his hand back on his head and nuzzles it, asking for more pets.

   Kirishima almost dies from cuteness overload.

-------------------------------------

   Pets have become a new part of their routine; Greet Kirishima with a splash, get pets; Exercise and practice jumps, get pets; Work on likability and meeting the crowds? Lots of pets. But today, Kirishima wants to test another big boundary.

   Kirishima hums, sticking his arms in the water for Bakugou's attention. As the merman speeds over, the redhead waves his mentor over as well.

"Everything alright?" Aizawa pondered, watching the Mer pop up and glare in his direction.

"Of course! He's doing so well in fact, that I wanted to try and help you both with something. Kneel with me?"

   After giving a confused look, the man kneels at the water's edge rigidly causing Bakugou to growl. "Ah, ah, ah Mr. Grumpy Gills- we have to fix this; you can't get mad every time he's around," Kirishima chastised. Looking guilty and sulky, Bakugou softened his gaze to eye the redhead momentarily before side-eyeing Aizawa.

   Kirishima smiles, ruffling the alpha's hair. "Whatever issues you have together, let's agree to put them aside; And just because you're an alpha does not mean you need to be agitated with him; Remember, he's here to help you."

   Bakugou met Kiri's shining eyes, and he gave a curt nod as a blush grew on his cheeks. "Very good!" Kirishima praised enthusiastically. "Now, I want to try something, but only if you're both comfortable with it; if at any time you are not, just tell me."

   The merman and his mentor exchanged concerned glanced before Kirishima laughed. "Relax! You guys can do this! Do you trust me?" he asked Aizawa. The man nodded once, and the redhead turned to the Mer. "Do you trust me?"

   The merman nodded without hesitation, eyes never faltering. With that, Kirishima smiled brightly. "Okay! Now, nice and easy, give me your hand," he explained to Aizawa, his open palm waiting. Shrugging ,the man offered his hand. Bakugou let out a low growl, but backed off as Kiri smiled at him. "Okay, good job. Now we're going to reach out and touch him, together." Aizawa cocked a brow, but at the redhead's encouraging nod, he agreed.

   The merman watched their joined hands closely, like a tiger watches a gazelle, catching ever centimeter in his line of sight. Slowly, Kirishima guided the hands to rest gently among Bakugou's tresses, and with many encouraging words, Bakugou allowed this. For five minutes, and then he backed away, a tiny snarl escaping with his glare.

   Kirishima clapped his mentor on the shoulder excitedly. "That was great for a first day! Nice work!"

   Aizawa released a shaky laugh. "Who's teaching who here? That was more progress than I've made the entire time we've had him!" he exclaimed. He squeezed the redhead's shoulder in appreciation as he watched Bakugou flip them off sarcastically. "Thank you Kirishima."

   The redhead's eyes widened, surprised by the man's reaction. His smile grew up to his rosy cheeks as he whooped! with joy. "Glad I can help!"

Chapter Text

   Today had been a rather lazy Tuesday. Mr. Aizawa wasn't feeling the best and had resigned himself to napping in a large blanket near the door as Kirishima tended to Bakugou. Even though a frigid breeze had blown in early that morning, Kirishima sat at the water's edge, his toes tip-tapping the rippled surface. He sighed, content, as Bakugou swam over, cooing and inclining his head for pets. Kirishima ran his fingers through the damp blonde hair, gently rubbing and massaging Bakugou's scalp. The merman purred and cooed, relaxing against the pool's edge and closing his eyes. Kirishima continued this idly for almost an hour, lost in thought staring down at his companion.

   He was happy; happier than he had been in a long time. These weeks spent with the merman seemed so natural, like he was always meant to be with him. Even Aizawa had noted the remarkable change in the blonde, and relayed his progress to the aquarium director and staff. Kirishima was so proud of him.

   He glanced down at his friend, noticing the flutter of his frills as he deeply breathed. His obsidian scales shimmered at the water's wake, giving off tiny bouncing rainbows. Kirishima wondered what it would be like to swim with such an incredible creature; he could maybe even touch those frills; his dazzling tail..

   He shook his head, trying to lose the rising pink on his face; good thing Aizawa was still asleep. After calming his breathing and raging hormones, he gently stroked the blonde locks again, letting his fingers daintily brush the quivering frills as he went, watching them twitch from the contact. He sighed, a bit restless, and whispered softly, "I wish I could hear you talk, even just once."

   As he got up to go check on Aizawa, he missed the frills flutter and glinting eyes follow him with new resolve.

-----------------------------------

   Kirishima smiled brightly as he helped his mentor into a seated position, handing him a steaming bowl of soup. "Thanks kid, I appreciate all the help today. How's Bakugou been?"

   Kirishima gave a small frown, finding the merman at the bottom of the tank with his eyes. "I'm not sure- he seemed okay this morning, but he has been fairly stand-offish since he woke up from a nap."

   Aizawa shrugged, sipping the broth. "Maybe he's just tired too; Been working extra hard to impress you lately.

   Kirishima chokes, sputtering like a beached whale with a growing sunburn. "Wh-what?! What are you talking about? Why would you think that! That's crazy!"

   The older man chuckled roughly, causing a coughing spasm. "Relax kid; he likes you, it's obvious. Nothing to be embarrassed about. You're good for him." Aizawa went back to snoring as Kirishima walked over to the water's edge. He knelt down, softly humming as he considered his mentor's words. Letting people in had always been a struggle for him, but maybe Bakugou would be different. He felt a swell in his chest, the heat rising to his face as the merman swam up to greet him. He tried to calm the flutter in his stomach as Bakugou breached the surface, letting out a low trill. The redhead smiled affectionately, but waited there. "Hey buddy, how're you doing? Everything okay?"

   The merman cocked his head, confused.

"Sorry, you just seem to want some space this afternoon, which is fine! I respect that; I'm just not used to it," he joked, nervously rubbing his neck. "Guess the 'honeymoon phase' excitement of having a friend is over, huh?" he whispered sadly. He wasn't trying to make the Mer feel bad, he just couldn't shake the anxiety-driven thoughts in his head.

   Maybe Bakugou didn't need him anymore...

   Maybe he only saw Kirishima as one of the workers?

   Maybe Kirishima had imagined that there was more to this relationship than there actually was.

   He was shaken, quite literally, from his panic, Bakugou's firm grip on his arm grounding him. He smiled weakly at the blonde, a silent thanks, but the Mer was still shaking him. He stared, puzzled, as Bakugou began to tug on his arm. "Uh what's up Bakubro? Do you need some food or something?"

   The merman snarled, yanking at Kirishima's arm aggressively. "Hey hey, buddy! Be careful, okay? Don't want me to fall in there with you, do ya?" he snarked, but stopped when he saw the merman's eyes: cold, sharp. Determined.

   He gulped, but stopped resisting. "Whatever it is, I trust you."

   This was the right thing to say apparently, as Bakugou smiled, cooing excitedly, before dunking Kirishima's upper body into the cold water.

---------------------------

   Panic.

   Absolute panic.

   He had to quickly remind himself not to breath so he wouldn't choke, but not breathing isn't a good idea when you're in a panic. The blood rushing to his head blocked out all sounds, all thoughts; Even though he was still partially on land, he knew he was going to drown.

"Hey, shitty hair! Look at me."

   Shitty hair?

   Kirishima opened his tightly clamped eyes to find Bakugou's glittering smile. "You okay?"

   Kirishima's eyes nearly blasted out of his skull, mouth wide open at this incredible revelation! He was trying to reach out, to tell Bakugou how happy he was, when he was heaved out of the water. He saw the look of alarm and fear on Bakugou's face beforehe was staring up at the ceiling. He landed hard on his left hip, trying to balance as he gasped for air. He whipped around to see a very exhausted but protective Aizawa standing between him and the tank, pointing a buzzing cattle prod at the merman.

"What are you doing, Bakugou?! Get back! GET BACK!! Don't make me use this thing on you!"

   Bakugou growled and roared, trying desperately to reach the edge of the tank to find Kirishima. His fins flared out and his scales gave an ominous glow. At first glance, he looked terrifying, but his eyes told the truth: he was scared.

"Wait! STOP!" Kirishima cried, racing over to his mentor. "Please, don't hurt him- it's not what it looked like!"

"Oh yeah? Then explain, 'cuz from where I was standing, he was trying to drown you!"

   Kirishima threw the prod to the ground, kicking it out of reach. He stood between Aizawa and Bakugou, a hand up to both of them to deescalate. 

"I know how it looked, but believe me- he would never hurt me."

   Aizawa still looked tense, but lowered his hand in an act of trust. "Then what was he doing?"

   Kirishima grinned wildly. "I think I finally got my question answered. Let me show you," he exclaimed, kneeling once more. He beckoned Bakugou over, who never let his eyes leave Aizawa until he was safely within Kirishima's arms reach. "Don't pull me up unless I give you a signal," and he plunged his head back below the waves, coming face to face with the Mer.

"Gee, took you long enough," the merman's musical voice sung out in a low lilt among the water's stillness. "I've been waiting a long time to talk to you."

 

 

 

Image preview

Chapter Text

   His gasps for air were interlaced with cacophonous laughter. "Ha ha! I knew it! I KNEW IT!" he exclaimed, racing to a bewildered Aizawa's side. "He CAN talk! I knew he could!"

   Aizawa looked at him skeptically. "You sure you aren't losing brain power from all the early mornings? Or water to the brain?"

"Don't be ridiculous! He can talk- I just heard him!" the redhead exclaimed exuberantly, fists pumping in the air.

   Aizawa strolled to the tank's edge, crouching to get closer to the merman. "If that's true, then why has he never done so before?" he questioned, eyeing the Mer. Bakugou returned his gaze with an icy stare.

"Well..." Kirishima pondered, "has anyone else stuck their head in the tank?"

"And why would that be necessary?" the other man said scowling.

"I can't say for sure, but I think that's how it works.. I suppose I could ask him.. Want me to?"


    Aizawa scoffed but smirked. "Knock yourself out, kid."

   Kirishima whooped and grinned, waving Bakugou over to his side. The merman seemed just as excited, splashing and twirling all giddy. He swam right up to the redhead with a beaming grin, resting his hands on the boys arms. Kirishima nodded enthusiastically, letting the blonde pull his upper half into the water again. Kirishima opened his eyes, looking for the blonde's sweet smile.

'You alright this time Red?'

   Kirishima nodded fervently, smiling widely at his companion. The merman gave one of his melodic laughs, a content smile stuck on his calm face. "Glad to hear it- you had me a bit worried last time. Did'ja convince ol' droopy eyes that I'm not a threat?" he snarked, jabbing a thumb in Aizawa's direction. Kirishima's mouth loosed a barrage of bubbles, a sparkling watery giggle. He raised a hand to give the 'so-so' sign, then gave him a finger, signifying his return for air.

"This would be a bit easier if we at least had a mask or snorkel- you think we got one?" he queried. His mentor waved him on, getting up to search for the requested items. Kirishima took an extra deep gulp before burying his head in the waves.

   Bakugou was there waiting, barely containing his enthusiasm. "Stupid air-breathers," he teased. Kirishima flipped him off, but greedily eyed the merman's gills as they fluttered in the cool waters.

   Clearing his mind of distractions, he signaled to Bakugou for attention before doing his best to get his voice to project. 'Why can I hear you now? Can you only talk in here?'

   After expending all that air for questions, he went up for more air. Luckily, the older man had returned with what he needed. He fastened the mask to his face, sinking below the surface. He gave Bakugou the thumb-up. He had seen Bakugou smirk before, but there was something different in his eyes that Kirishima couldn't quite name. Appreciation? His guess was interrupted-

   "You're pretty smart. Maybe your brains aren't all hair after all," he chortled as the redhead tried to give him a playful smack. "Mer vocalizations register on a different frequency than your regular sounds. The water helps 'dampen' the vibrations, so to speak. So now you can hear me, and about damn time too; was startin' to lose faith in you, handsome."

   The resulting gasp for air had nothing to do with a lack of oxygen. The redhead tried to calm his burning cheeks, fanning himself as he coughed up half a gallon of water. He heard Bakugou's sing-song laughter, chirping through the open space. "Behave , will ya? I'm trying to communicate!" Kiri shouted at the overgrown child, earning a laugh from Aizawa as well. Bakugou stuck his tongue out, before sinking below the water again. Sticking his hand above the water, he waved his companion back in, to which the redhead complied.

   After a few steadying gulps of air, Kirishima continued his questions. 'Why have you never tried to talk to the humans before?'

   This made the merman frown, disappointment clear. "Maybe those extras aren't worth my time."

'Bakugou..' Kirishima chided with only a semi-serious face, causing the blonde to roll his eyes. 

"Tsk, not my fault all the stupid bipeds assumed I would attack them! After they plopped me in here, none of them even tried to come in the tank."

   Kirishima gave another effervescent laugh, head cocked to the side in confusion. 'The humans don't come in the tank because of your poison, dude! Pretty sure they all assume you secrete a harmful mucus or something,' he tried to convey in a mass of bubbles.

   Bakugou scoffed. "First off, get a voice modulator so you don't pass out from lack of oxygen, ya moron. Second, that's the most asinine thing I've ever heard- what do I look like, a frog? Besides, if that were the case, you would be dead."

   Kirishima blushed. 'Yeah, thanks for not killing me; 'ppreciate that.'

  Bakugou smirked affectionately, admiring his sweet companion. "My 'quills' have toxins that I can release on command, but the water I swim in as clean as when they filter it; no toxins in here."  The blonde's expression turned serious, but soft as he placed a webbed hand on the redhead's cheek. The contact caused Kirishima to freeze, eyes widening, never leaving the scarlet orbs that matched his. "Besides, I would never hurt you," the merman said firmly, and then, impossibly quiet, "alphas don't hurt their mates."

   Mates?

   Kirishima's brain filled with white static at the implication of such a phrase. His quickening heartbeat super-charged his muscle movements, causing his subtle attempt at leaning forward to over-correct, sending him tumbling into the tank.

________________________________-

"KIRISHIMA!"

   Aizawa's voice boomed throughout the exhibit as he raced to the water's edge, eyes bulging with panic. He seized the emergency phone, ready to call for backup if need be. He paused there, waiting.

   Startled, Kirishima flailed a bit, trying to right himself when a pair of strong arms wrapped around his waist. He tried not to think of the toned biceps and firm abdominals he was surrounded by as Bakugou breached the surface with ease. The merman left his arms out and under Kirishima's armpits; offering support, but not caging him in. Kirishima squeezed his webbed hand with a bright smile. "Thank you, Bakugou. I appreciate your help man."

   The blonde cooed and held on to his hand as he motioned to his mentor. Aizawa gave a questioning thumb-up. "So...he's not poisonous?" he bellowed.

   Kirishima barked a laugh, making Bakugou join in. "He's not quite what he seems."

 

Chapter Text

   From then on, Kirishima spends all his free time in the aquarium's exotic attraction exhibit, relishing every moment. His heart would nearly stop every time he saw the blonde's dazzling smile; having to remind his brain that his lungs had to do something besides clam up.

   With their recent discoveries fresh in their minds, Kirishima never hesitates to enter the tank, often with an exited yelp as he hops in. Kirishima was never denied access by the alpha, who would pretend to be bothered by the intrusion, but he wasn't fooling anyone; ten seconds in and he was grinning, frill to frill. The merman's attitude had drastically changed due to his new companionship; in just a few short days, the crowds outside Bakugou's exhibit grew steadily, everyone wanting to catch a glimpse of the exuberant creature. Bakugou would even smile and wave at small children from time to time, but only if Kiri was in the water with him. In Bakugou's mind, there was nothing he wouldn't do for the redhead, and he was about to prove it.

"Okay, we will stay over here for now; just ease in slowly and quietly," Kirishima instructed.

   His mentor nodded, sitting at the water's edge in a blue and green wet suit. He eased himself into the water, soft and slow, trying not to create a disturbance. The blonde rolled his eyes at this, but let his partner continue.

"Great! Now, it's probably best if you let him come to you on his terms, so I'm going to come be by you, and Bakugou, you can join us whenever you're ready," the redhead finished with a sweet smile. The merman instantly stiffened, wanting to follow his mate, but feeling very nervous about the other man. He remembered all the times that Kirishima has told him this man was good, that he meant no harm, that he should be work on being kinder to him. And for Kirishima...

   Bakugou knew how he felt about Kirishima, how he longed to keep the man with him always, how he wanted to protect him, provide for him- to be a the only alpha for him. But he wasn't entirely sure how the redhead felt about him. Humans are so strange- they value other things, like kindness, empathy, love- not that the merman didn't know what those were, they just weren't things that most omegas of his kind needed to find a good alpha. But Bakugou could already feel new emotions bubbling up inside himself every day, every time he saw the redhead's goofy smile, every time his eyes glittered with happiness.. For Kirishima, there were close to zero things he wouldn't do for him. With this thought, he stared at the dark haired man, trying to ascertain whether he was a threat to his relationship, but though the man smiled and spoke kindly with the redhead, he gave off positive energy; Bakugou could sense he was an honest man.

   Armed with this information, the merman decided to show Kirishima what a good human mate he could be. Kirishima wanted him to be nice? He would be the nicest he could be. He glided through the water peacefully, not wanting to interrupt their conversation. Kirishima was busy laughing, telling some silly story, but the other man watched his approach carefully out of the corner of his eye. Bakugou could feel the irregular flutter of the man's movements as he tread water; he was scared. The merman stopped short, just a few feet away. The man had reached out, placing a hand on Kirishima's arm as though to ask for help. The redhead assured him that it was okay, to connect with Bakugou if he was comfortable, but the man sat frozen to the spot.

   Bakugou thought about his mate's personality for a moment; about how Kirishima could make anyone feel safe and at peace so easily. He wanted to show his friend that he could do that too; that he could help the man face his fear. Determined, the merman put on an encouraging smile, reaching his hand out for the man. The dark haired man hesitated for a moment, getting lots of excited encouragement from Kiri, before tentatively putting his hand in Bakugou's. The merman pulled him in a bit closer so the man didn't have to strain so much. He moved the end of his tail underneath the man's feet, allowing him to relax in his presence. The man still had a subtle shake, still a small sense of unease. Bakugou cooed and chirped playfully, splashing at the man in a child-like manner. Aizawa chuckled, finally earning the Mer a smile.

   Feeling triumphant, Bakugou patted the man's arms expectantly- he wanted to show him more. But the man's eyebrows creased in confusion, making the blonde worry that he'd messed up somehow. But luckily, Kirishima's bright laugh intervened with ease. "You're doing amazing, sensei! Bakugou is really warming up to you! He wants to talk to you; that's what this means," he explains, patting his own arms and gesturing to the Mer's actions. "Do you want to hear him?" Kirishima all but begs. Bakugou gives the man a nod of approval as their eyes meet again, and the man nods back. 

   Chirping emphatically, Bakugou nudges Aizawa under the water. Giving him a moment to adjust, Bakugou gives his most amicable smile. 'It's nice to formally meet you, care giver. I do regret my previous unease with you; I understand now that you have protected and cared for me since my arrival. And you are also the reason I met my Mate; for that, you have my undying thanks,' he concluded, giving the man's hand a squeeze, just as Kirishima always did with him.

_________________________________________________

   There was an eruption of exuberant cheers as they breached the water's surface, the redhead practically causing a tidal wave with all his supportive splashing. "That was so awesome, sensei! What a great day! You got in the tank and you talked to him!! I'm so proud!"

   Aizawa laughed boisterously, giving the merman's shoulder a pat. "I never thought I would be here; thank you, Kirishima- this never would have happened without you."  The older man placed Bakugou's hand in the redhead's patting them as he made his leave. Kirishima blushed, but did not back away as Bakugou pulled him into his arms. They sat there peacefully, enjoying each other's company in the quiet room. Kirishima hummed, earning a sweet purr from the merman as they floated on. Kirishima felt eyes on him, looking up to see the merman's flaming red eyes gazing at him intently. He gulped, looking down to the merman's lips, subconsciously inching forward as his mind lingered on the desire to find out what those sharp teeth would feel like- He leaned in, breath ghosting over soft, plump damp lips..

   The sound of loud, steady clapping caused the two to jump apart, embarrassed. Kirishima turned toward the sound to see a large, hulking form with stark white hair eyeing them greedily from the door.

"Well well well, and what have we here?"

Chapter Text

   The man steps out of the shadows, slow leisurely gate moving just within a few inches of the tank's edge. Kirishima's limbs gave an involuntary shiver, and he could feel that something was off about the man just by the glint in his eye, the sneer pierced by his sharp under-bite. The air in the room felt stagnant upon his arrival; the water surrounding the two feeling like a frozen lake in the dead of winter. As if reading his silent fears, Bakugou pulled Kirishima behind him, as if to shield him from the man's unstable aura with his large, powerful body. The merman's frills frayed out, his dorsal fin fanned out and imposing; he was reading to protect his precious mate at all costs.

   The man smirked with a cocked brow. "My, what progress you've finally made! I could hardly believe all the positive stories I was hearing about our feisty little alpha- I felt it necessary for me to come see for myself." His mocking chuckle was met with a feral snarl and a gnashing of carnivorous teeth.

   Kirishima couldn't pinpoint what about the man made him feel so queasy, but he knew by Bakugou's reaction that this man did not mean them well. "I'm sorry, but who are you?" he queried, trying to keep his voice level.

   The man seemed only now to notice his presence, barely letting his eyes settle on him for even a second. "I am the man responsible for all of this," he crooned, gesticulating at the faded walls, cracked tiling and horror movie lighting with undeserved pride. "I'm the reason your little 'friend' here has a home. And while I'm grateful to you for training him, I wouldn't get too attached if I were you," he mocked menacingly. His icy eyes bore into the merman's body in a perverse manner. "Remember who you belong to, little prince," he sang before straightening at the dark haired man's presence. "Ah, Aizawa. Come; we have important matters to discuss."

   Aizawa's eyes lingered on his subordinates and their overly tense postures before acknowledging the nonnegotiable statement for what it was. "Sure, Sekijiro-san. Kirishima, please complete today's training, and then you may leave," he said directly, giving an unspoken command to stick together before following the other man.

_________________________________________________

   The clinking of the ice cubes rang out musically in the somber ambiance of the night club. The scene reminded Aizawa of western movies about mob boss meetings, particularly the moment right before the boss has his goons 'take out the trash'; he hoped to All Might he was wrong. A petite server broke him from his mental image, soundlessly offering a drink off a silver tray, to which he politely declines. Opting to let his boss speak first, he waits patiently as the other man enjoys a hearty swig, drying his lip with his thumb as he sets the dark haired man with a calculated smirk.

"I'm afraid I owe you an apology, Aizawa. I did not give your status reports on the merman much thought until today. Hard to do honest work when there are so many obnoxious patrons oohing and awing, ya know? I just had to see what all the fuss was."

   Aizawa nodded silently, eyeing the condensation dripping from the rocks glass as the man took another sip. There was a nagging feeling of foreboding in his gut- his boss was the kind of man you cross to the opposite side of the street for if he was approaching you on a sidewalk; there was always the feeling of being caught, as if in a large web, from which the only escape was a violent, blood-sucking end.

"He has improved quite rapidly. How is it that you finally managed his complacence after months of apathy?" the man drawled, another gulp on his lips.

   Aizawa tried to remain nonchalant, unreadable. "My pupil is the one to thank for that, sir. He has formed a rather strong bond with the alpha, born of mutual affections and respect."

   The man's eyes narrowed a fraction further, snickering as he set his glass down firmly with an audible clack! "Let's not play coy now, Shota; I'm sure you know why we're here. The new attraction has not brought in near enough revenue to continue to keep it; it simply takes too much money and effort to care for it."

   The raven haired man could feel his heart sink to his stomach. The direction of this conversation was souring, fast. His brain immediately switched lanes; salvaging this wreckage was priority #1, for Bakugou's sake. "What would you suggest we do to help then, sir?"

   The man's broad shoulders shook with laughter, his face contorted into a malicious grin. "I have a buyer lined up, an 'enthusiast of cryptids' so to speak off the Irish coast. 'Says he has an alpha female, young and fertile, who needs a mate. Since our Mer is a male, I would own the rights to him and any subsequent offspring he sires. I plan to pawn them off to wealthy bidders and be done with it; I will have all the money I could ever need," he cooed, his gluttonous smile widening, "though I'm not against the idea of keeping him for 'personal' use and just making money of the mate and offspring."

   Aizawa sat stunned, mouth gaping. "You-you can't be serious! Sir, the whole reason we rescued him was to protect him!"

   The other man's face grew sinister. "Your whole reason, not mine Shota. And if you want to keep your job, you'll mind your tongue. I have no use for an attraction that bankrupts me, and I'm certainly not holding on to it just for you and the little 'redheaded lover boy'. The sale is set to go down in a month, regardless of your thoughts on the matter," he snapped, rising from his seat and downing the last ounce of his liquor in an act of finality. "Oh, and do try to behave yourself til then; the Mer does belong to me, and I can do as I please with him- any and all parts of him," he affirmed in a heady tone, tossing the small glass over his shoulder as he made his exit. The glass crashed to the floor, shattering into a million, minute fractals that punctuated his leave. As the staff rushed to wipe and clear the mess, Sekijiro's vile eyes and smug grin lingered on Aizawa's stupefied expression. "Do try to remember that, Shota; or else." 

Chapter Text

   Kirishima's concern was growing. The look on his mentor's face told him without a doubt that he should not leave Bakugou's side, and that made him nervous, but the way Bakugou was acting made him completely uneasy. Bakugou seemed to have come unhinged; His pupils dilated, his appendages and subsequent movements were nothing short of erratic, like those of a panicked humming bird. His entire body shuddered with anxious energy; His fringe and large dorsal fin giving abnormal twitches and flutters here and there, uncontrolled.

   When Kirishima attempted to quiet his friend's fears, the blonde snapped to attention, turning on him slowly. The redhead didn't have time to flee as the merman darted for him, catching him in a death grip and yanked him close. Kirishima gasped for tiny gulps of air as Bakugou bear-hugged him within a inch of his life. He was about to shake him out of his weird trance when he stopped, taking a good look at his companion.

   The vibration he had witnessed was now a tiny, sad shiver; the blood-shot, rage filled eyes were squeezed tightly closed; the dorsal fin was out, but not his quills.. Bakugou was no longer angry.

   He was scared.

   Kirishima's eyes widened, tear-filled as he listened to Bakugou coo silently, repeatedly, as if begging with someone; his tail tried to curl around the redhead's legs, as if looking for comforting warmth. His heart broke; this was not the way he wanted to see his strong alpha. Kirishima tapped the merman's cheek softly, catching his eyes. The redhead hummed their tone tenderly, snuggling into the Mer's chest and remaining there peacefully until Bakugou hugged him tight. The redhead's cooperation in becoming a human body pillow seemed to have an instant affect: The rapid heartbeat under his ear gradually started to even out, and Kirishima found himself surrendering to a sleep-like state. Moments of utter silence passed without a notice; the two lost in a tranquil sea.

   After a time, Kirishima patted Bakugou's arms, their special signal, and let himself be pulled under. Once settled, he gave Bakugou a nod, the go-ahead to talk it out. The blonde gave a curt nod, but looked shell-shocked. He would try, opening and closing his mouth, but nothing came. He shook his head, willing himself to speak, but all that came out were tiny gasps filled with air bubbles. His frills fluttered again, tiny waves of motion buffeting toward the redhead in broken rhythms.

   Even under water, Kirishima knew what a pre-panic attack looked like. He waved a hand in front of the merman's eyes to grab his attention; He hadn't used a lot of sign language over the years (he preferred to just stay mute when he was young) but he remembered a simply phrase that Shinso had introduced him to when he needed someone to help calm him down: flashbacks of sharp razor blades, blood dripping off his arms, creating ripples in the puddle forming down belong; moments of Shinso taking his hands in his own, cradling them softly in his calm manner, and then placing his own hands with Kirishima's on the redhead's cheeks as he repeated the phrase once, twice, three times, and then they would sign the phrase three times together- this would always repeat until Kirishima was calm and safe again. He shook the haunting memories aside, and resolved himself to give it a try; he was sure it would help.

   He gestured between the two of them, back and forth, before making an 'O' and 'K' symbol with his fingers: 'We're okay.' Bakugou's blown out pupils seemed to focus on the motion like it was all he could see; his muscles seemed to relax, and his nerves seemed to fizzle out a bit. He gave a calming sigh. 'I'm sorry, my inner alpha was in a panic. That human is vile and cruel, and I don't want him anywhere near you! I already lost someone because of him, I won't lose my mate too!' Bakugou howled mournfully, his sharp claws digging deep gouges into the glimmering scales of his arms, a few even trickled off his body in a cloud of rubescent blood. Kirishima, quick to seize the serrated digits before they could do more harm, calmly traced comforting circles into his companion's wrists ever so gently, like the minute brush of a butterfly's wing. His steady gaze met a frightened one, but he smiled tenderly, mouthing 'I am here' one, two, three times as the Mer took in a few much needed deep breathes.

   Kirishima couldn't imagine the hardships the merman had to face before they had met, but now that they were together, he never wanted Bakugou to fear for anything ever again.

_________________________________________________________

   The two spent their time huddled together just beneath the watery surface, only rising occasionally when Kirishima needed air. The two were content to rest in each other's arms for hours, with nothing but the filtration systems gurgle and the sinking afternoon glow, bathing the tank in a deep flaxen gleam.

   A deep, unnatural hum interrupted their peace, and upon investigation, they spotted their mentor, fingers wiggling frantically at the water's edge. Before they could reach him, he leapt into the water, bridging the gap in swift strokes. "Aizawa- sensei, is everything okay? What did that man want?" Kirishima voiced his concerns.

"Unfortunately, nothing good," his mentor replied, voice dripping with disdain. He turned a crestfallen eye to the merman. "You are in danger, my friend, and I am sorry for it; Had I known this would be your fate, I never would have brought you here!" he growled, slapping the water in frustration.

"I don't understand sir; what's going on?" Kirishima persisted.

"The owner," Aizawa snarled through gritted teeth, "wants to sell Bakugou to a breeder."

"WHAT?!!? He can't do that!" Kirishima bellowed, his voice echoing in the empty exhibit.

"He can, and he will, at months' end. Apparently there's a wealthy man with a female alpha who is awaiting his arrival in Ireland."

   Kirishima vocalized Bakugou's explosive growl. "Bakugou is an alpha; alphas do not mate with other alphas- that's like, Zoology 101! Plus, Bakugou is gay!"

   Aizawa paused the argument with a quizzical stare. "And we know this, how? I mean, yes, he seems fond of you, but-" 

"He called me his MATE! That's not something friends do unless you're in a boy-band or from Australia!" he shouted with a crimson blush adorning his cheeks.

   The dark haired man considered this new information silently. "Then that's all the more reason to get him out of here." He swam to the water's edge, leaving Kirishima puzzled but following by Bakugou's side. There Aizawa had his phone, open to a password protected notepad. "Alright boys," he began, thumbs ready over the keypad. "Let's hear some rescue plans."

Chapter Text

"I got your call babe- is everything okay? You sounded tense," Kaminari worries as he runs into Shinso's outstretched arms.

"Wha-? Oh! Yeah, I'm fine, but I got a call from Kiri that sounds pretty serious- sounded really shaken," Shinso muses, ushering Kaminari into a cab absentmindedly.

"Did he say what's up? Another episode or something?" Kaminari asks, checking a work text as they drive, an eye-roll in his tone. "I mean, I left the shop early out of fear, so I just want to make sure this isn't a false alarm."

   Shinso gives a sideways glare. "Look, I know you've been dealing with the brunt of the PTSD longer than me, but try to cut him some slack; he's doing his best, and we are the closest thing he has to family. He's been working really hard too; Just try to remember, he's our 'bro' and we love him."

   Kaminari looks down at his hands, guilty and chastened. "Yeah; You're right, sorry."

   Shinso rests his hand on top of Kaminari's. "It's okay; helping someone with their baggage can be stressful, but Kiri would be crushed if he thought he was a burden on us; he would be beside himself with guilt. Besides, when he needs help, you got him. When you need help, I got you, and he's got me- a triangle's the strongest shape in nature they say," he jokes, giving Kami's hand a squeeze. Kaminari chuckles. "Ah, a poet after mine own heart," he teases with a swoon, cracking a smirk out of his solemn companion.

-----------------------------------------------

   After double-checking that the text was correct, Shinso and Kaminari enter the door near the merman's exhibit and walk down a dimly lit hallway where Kirishima sat idly kicking a door frame. Upon noticing them, he jumped in surprise, quickly trying to recover. "Oh thank All Might! Thank you for coming- I really need you guys." He raced to them, crashing into them in a giant bear hug.

"You know we're always here," Shinso smiles, squeezing his boyfriend's hand gently. Kaminari's grin grew. "You got it bro! So, you have a bad day at work or something?" he quirked, following Kiri through the door. "I know how you feel man, today was a long annoying day for me to- Ah, wait- water," he paused, realization hitting as he viewed the surroundings. "Uh, where are we?"

"Jeez Kami, when I said to meet here, didn't you wonder why?" Kirishima laughed, taking a running leap before jumping into the water.

"Woah! Is this like, after hours swim-time? That's so cool!" Kaminari howled, tossing his shirt to the side excitedly.

"Hold it," Shinso warns, holding his partner back with one arm and pointing to the water's rippling surface with his other; a dark figure hidden below. "Whatcha got out there Kiri?"

   The large sinewy form of the merman rose to the surface beside Kirishima. Only his spiky mane and his eyes breached, the carmine orbs never leaving the newcomers.

"Holy shit!! He's massive! He doesn't look half that size behind the glass," Kaminari shrieked, clutching Shinso's arm. "Kiri, are you safe around that thing?! How are you not terrified! It's like being in a bathtub with a great white; there's nowhere to hide!!"

"Claws," Shinso intoned, digging his boyfriend's dagger nails off his arm.

"He is a he, not a thing, Kami- and yes! I'm probably more safe with Bakugou than I would be anywhere else!"

"Ah..So, you named it.." he sighed, shaking his head and rubbing his temple. "I'm just saying now, he can't come live with us just because you got a new pet; he's a lot bigger than the tarantula!"

   Kirishima flushed. "Okay, One, He's not a pet! Two, He was given that name, I didn't name him! And three, leave Princess Furry Feet outta this!"

   The two began to laugh but stopped abruptly at the soft musical tone wafting through the air. "What the...hell" Kaminari cut himself off as Shinso pointed to the merman.

"My God..That sound...it's the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. Is that how he communicates?" the purplette asked in awe.

"No; He can talk, but only under the water." He shook his head at their confused looks. "We can go over the science later. Right now, he needs our help," he paused, gazing at the alpha fondly. "We need your help."

Chapter Text

"Woah, that's fucked up, man. I can't believe someone would do something like that! Especially to our sweet little Baku-babe!" Kaminari wailed, wiping his eyes after Kirishima's recount. Bakugou gave a weak hiss at the dumb nickname, but otherwise stayed close to the redhead. Kirishima felt a shiver of pride, relishing in the merman's desire for closeness with him.

"Yeah, so that's why I asked for help; we have to get Bakugou out of here before the end of the month or we're fucked.. I won't let him go through that!" he shouted. He had worried before that any affectionate acts in front of his friends may be met with disdain, but in that moment, caution thrown elsewhere, he had never cared less. He reached out a hand to the Mer, beckoning him into an embrace. Bakugou looked trepidatious for a brief moment, but wrapped his arms around the redhead happily. Given the go ahead, Bakugou nuzzled into Kirishima's neck, as if to scent him, and began to hum sweetly, like a lullaby. Kirishima blushed at his friend's shared look of confusion, but turned in to Bakugou's hold. "After all, he is my mate," he said with a hum, which Bakugou reciprocated.

   Shinso smiled softly. "A suitable mate; congratulations, my friend," he said, clapping Kirishima's shoulder in celebration. Bakugou's grin grew, giving Shinso's hand a tender squeeze of appreciation on his mate's shoulder.

   Kaminari erupted with uncontrolled laughter.

"The hell are you laughing at you lunatic?" Shinso asked, trying to get him to calm down while the merman growled.

"Oh Gods," Kaminari wheezed in between giggles, "Now I can say 'Kirishima is swimming with the fishes! Ha! Get it? Like the old threats sailors use?" he crowed, rattling off more laughter.

   Shinso and Kirishima shared an exasperated face palm, while Bakugou smirked smugly at the joke, eventually joining in to the laugh in his own musical way.

_________________________________________________

"So, let me get this straight; hosting events here will save Bakugou? How exactly?" Aizawa queried as he typed in his notes. 

"Well, your boss seems to care most about money; So under the 'guise that this will bring in more money, host events after hours that bring people in. Those people will act as our distraction so we can get him out," Shinso explained.

"Not bad," Aizawa agreed, "but what if one of these people sees us? I mean, Bakugou isn't exactly small enough to hide in a bag or purse."

   Bakugou growled at that idea. Kirishima patted his hair, thoughtfully smiling. "No problem! I have a friend, Sero, who has a moving van. We could put something large inside for Bakugou to be in and sneak him out that way."

   Aizawa smirked. "Also not bad. I like the way you kids think. So, after that where will he go? Surely he's too big for your home?"

   Kaminari chortled so hard he almost peed himself. "Oh, there's no way he can come home with us! Are you kidding?? He can't even fit through the door!"

   As Shinso was busy punching the stupid out of his boyfriend, Kirishima's eyes dropped to Bakugou, who had rested his head on Kirishima's lap while they talked. He tucked a strand of pearly cream hair behind a shimmering frill, that danced under his fingertips. His mind drifted, a somber haze clouding his visions; He pictured those glimmering frills waving daintily in the salty waves, a broad obsidian tail swishing through crowds of multicolored fish, that shimmering smile, happy and free at last...

   His heart shattered, but he knew the right thing to do.

   All eyes snapped to him as they heard him sniffle, and watched as his tears fell like silent snowflakes in the winter breeze.

"We bring him to the ocean, where he can be free."

Chapter Text

   The silence that overtook the room was deafening. All had worries, words of encouragement and strength for their friend, but no one could muster a single phrase; stunned. Bakugou's eyes fluttered open slowly, looking around at the absence of sound, but seeing instead all of their dumbstruck faces. His eyes landed on Kirishima's tear stained ones, and his expression and demeanor instantly shifted. His eyes shouted the fear and comfort he so wished to vocalize to his mate. He cooed softly, dabbing at the moist skin tenderly, long claws grazing in a pillow-soft stroke. Kirishima leaned into the touch, yearning to feel every touch his mate was willing to give before their time was cut short.

   He shook his head at the Mer's questioning chirp, faking a smile. "Alright, we have our assignments; let's get to work. We don't have much time."

___________________________________--

"Shota, what's the meaning of all this? The aquarium is closing, so what are all of these people doing here?"

   Aizawa turned to address his disgruntled employer. "Ah, Sekijiro-san, you must have missed the memo I left on your desk this afternoon. In an attempt to draw in larger crowds, we have started a few 'carnival' type attractions, if you will; A 'museum after dark' sort of thing. Patrons can swim with the dolphins, pet our rays and help feed the penguins. And the main event, guests can come watch Bakugou perform tricks and interact with people; It's really quite exciting sir," he concluded, smiling and waving more guests in.

   Sekijiro glared silently as more people trickled in towards the merman's exhibit. "Your puny attempts at chump-change will not keep me from selling him; So your little side project better not get in my way," he glowered, stomping back to his office.

   Aizawa gave a subtle smirk to his turned back, and made his way through the crowd. He walked toward the merman's enclosure, giving tidbits of information to the crowd about their alpha merman as Kirishima tended to the Mer behind the glass. The dark haired man frowned, empathy for his young protege clouding his mind. "I know this will be tough for you, but you guys have to pull through; it's the best chance we've got," he whispered, watching the two talk at the ledge of the tank. He could see from where he was standing that Bakugou was upset, his tail whipping around in the water like an agitated cat. He sighed; he prayed this would work.

________________________________________

'And I have to do this, why?' Bakugou grumped, pulling Kirishima back above the waves after seeing the swarms of people. Kirishima did his best to put on a huge grin. "Trust me! It will be fun, I promise! Plus, if more of the guests like you and bond with you, there's no way they can sell you, right?" he proffered, trying to be convincing. It didn't work. His companion had been giving him melancholy looks ever since their plan was hatched, his concern growing like the waves of a deadly tsunami, and Kirishima knew why.

   They hadn't told him.

   Kirishima had sworn the others to secrecy- it was to protect Bakugou; of course, if the alpha knew the truth, there was no way he would go through with this. Kirishima hated to keep this from him, but what choice did he have?

   He pushed past his sadness, smiling brightly as he wrapped the merman up in a sweet embrace. "It's all gonna be okay, yeah? I'm gonna be right here, I promise," he vowed, holding the blonde close. The merman gave a squeeze before cooing, pulling back so Kirishima could see him making a circling motion with one hand, as if orbiting something. The redhead's heart squeezed painfully tight, but he nodded, gulping down his desire to sob.

"Yeah buddy; always." He wiped a tear before it could fall and gave an enthusiastic grin. "Alright man, let's go! Our public awaits." 

Chapter Text

   Kirishima stared out at the rows of chairs, his nervous energy close to bursting. He knew the crowds were a good thing, part of his plan even, but his bravado felt brittle, crumbling into every excuse he could think of to not have to do this. After all, he had finally found his mate; he had never been so fully accepted, so fully loved in his whole life. Was he really ready to give that up? To feel all alone, even when he was in a crowd? The doubts swirled around in his head, an unruly tempest, when a cool, webbed hand rested upon his shoulder. His eyes found those crimson garnets, a reflection of his own, and he felt grounded even when his feet never hit the floor.

   He smiled tenderhearted from his affections, and gave the hand a firm squeeze, one he hoped showed strength and resolve instead of pain and sadness and loss. "You got this buddy- just remember, these people are here to help you, so try to smile and be welcoming!" He tried to follow his own advise, giving a sad smile that never got close to reaching his eyes, and he swam toward the glass, Bakugou following close behind.

"Hey everyone! Thanks for coming out tonight!" he spoke loudly, projecting into the waterproof microphone. "We have a real treat for you! We're proud to show off our amazing alpha merman, Bakugou!" He paused, giving the crowd a chance to clap and oow in awe. "He's a bit shy, so help me cheer him on tonight as he dazzles you!"

_________________________________

   Denki tried to hurry down the back corridor undetected, but that can be hard when you have two left feet; he almost flew down the hall after tripping on his own shoe. "Are we sure this is a good idea? I mean, Bakugou still doesn't seem too sure if he likes us or not," he worried aloud, dodging as Shinso flung the door open hurriedly.

"We don't have a choice; there's a 20 minute intermission window where no one can see Bakugou; we have to take him then, or the whole plan fails. Mr. Aizawa and Kirishima have to stay out with the guests to avoid suspicion," he raced over to the tank's edge, wiggling his fingers beneath the surface as Kirishima had taught him. Bakugou rose slowly, eyeing him closely with a questioning coo. Shinso steadied his breath, trying for a genial smile. "Hey buddy, remember us? We're your friends." 

Bakugou cocked a brow as he looked between the two, his unease seeming to grow; his massive tail twitched and splashed in an agitated manner behind him. A bead of sweat threatened to give away his own uncertainty as Shinso continued. "We came to get you out of here; Can you trust me for a bit?" 

   Bakugou seemed to freeze, glancing first at the two men, then frantically around the room. "Shit," Kaminari panicked, fidgeting aimlessly as Shinso tried to reach out to pat the merman's arm, but Bakugou snapped at him, hissing and backing away. The merman's sail snapped open, poisonous quills at attention as he gnashed his jaw in warning. "Wait, I got this one!" Kaminari exclaimed, quickly kneeling by Bakugou's side. He slowly signed the necessary phrase, and realization finally set on the Mer's face: 'to help Kirishima.'

   The merman chirped anxiously at the mention of his mate's name, and though he was still trepidatious with the two, Bakugou allowed Kirishima's companions to come close and explain themselves.

Chapter Text

"Welcome back everyone! Now that you're refreshed, let's continue on with the show!"

   The crowds hollered, exhilarated, as the large black tail of the Mer passed by the opening curtain. Small children ran up to press against the glass, mouths agape in awe as Bakugou winked, swimming on by. His plastered on smile looked unnatural to Kirishima, but he knew his mate was trying, and it warmed his heart to see Bakugou attempt to connect with the audience.

   The show consisted mostly of Bakugou showing off many of his alpha traits: his speed, strength and endurance. The crowd rumbled with applause as Bakugou held Kirishima up in the air with just one hand, much like a cheerleader base. The redhead clapped and cheered right along with the crowd, earning a proud smile from the blonde.

   Exactly 15 minutes from the end of the show, Kirishima started to notice that Bakugou wasn't looking very well. His movements seemed sluggish, his breathing labored; His complexion looked so pale, the redhead worried he may faint. He signed to his companion, concerned, who confirmed his suspicions. "I'm so sorry folks, but Bakugou doesn't appear to be feeling his best anymore. We will unfortunately be ending our show early tonight so he can get a little TLC and rest; We hope to see you again tomorrow!" he said, trying not to let all the 'boos' bother him. The curtain closed on the tank, and the team got to work.

________________________________________________________

"So what am I hauling again? Don't think Kiri actually said," a young man with raven- hair implored, extinguishing his cigarette as he opened the hatch to his truck. He turned to find Shinso, Denki and Kirishima holding what appeared to be a massive tail. He blinked, wide-eyed and confused until he spotted the animal's head. "Whatcha got..?"

"Uh..cat?" Denki supplied with a lazy smirk.

   Sero walked around the three until he was closest to Bakugou's head. "Interesting; Don't think I've ever seen a 'cat' quite like this," he chuckled.

   The Mer hissed in warning. "Watch out! He bites," Kirishima went to warn him, but to his surprise, Sero shifted his hand quickly, avoiding the sharp teeth to give the merman soft scratches behind his ear frills. Bakugou's eyes went wide for a second before his whole body melted like butter. The three watch, utterly bewildered, as Bakugou quickly relaxed, almost leaning into the touch. "Nah, this guys' a peach; ya just gotta know where the sweet spot is."

_________________________________________________________

   In the throngs of people leaving the aquarium parking lot, no one gave the large, nondescript truck in the back a second glance, and no one stopped them as they left the town, merging onto the interstate on their quest.

   And no one would question the video footage from the backroom security tapes that night either; Aizawa made sure of that.

Chapter Text

   The interstate drive was long and winding, and the crew sat quietly huddled around the large storage tank holding the merman. The nearly full tank sloshed about, spraying the boys in a misty drizzle with every turn of the road. The bumps along the way irritated the Mer, jostling him around and trapping his large fin and tail. He chirped and hissed pitifully, and the boys did their best to comfort him. Kaminari made the extra effort to cup handfuls of water over the merman's tail and back, making sure to keep him hydrated; Bakugou cooed in appreciation.

   Kirishima sat beside Bakugou's head, petting his hair and speaking in hushed tones to help soothe his companion. "Don't worry Bakugou, we're gonna save you- no one will ever sell you, I promise," he whispered, rubbing soothing circles into the now dry, fluffy hair. He hoped his message conveyed confidence, even though his voice trembled with fear and concern. The Mer looked up at him, his eyes betraying his own worry as he motioned between the two of them and gave a rotating type gesture; 'Where are we going?'

   Kirishima's face fell; he didn't think he could tell him yet. But if not now, when would he have the courage to do it? He meant to smile and brush off the question, but his eyes met Kaminari's across the tank, and his calm shattered.

"Kiri," Kaminari whispered, causing the redhead to jump in alarm. "It's time bro; you have to tell him. He needs to understand," he concluded, giving Bakugou's tail a loving pat before giving them a bit of space to talk. Kirishima gulped, trying to keep his anguish in check as he nodded. He held Bakugou's webbed hand tight, and squared his shoulders with resolve; He could do this.

____________________________________

   He was wrong.

   As their eyes met, Kirishima realized just how terrible his idea was; In theory, the plan was solid, and logically, this was the best plan they had. But there was more to life than logic and sound reasoning. No, this was a terrible idea- not just because of how much it would hurt him, but the other person he had not considered: Bakugou. He had wanted to protect him, to save him. He wanted to make sure Bakugou would never have to endure such pain. But he had neglected to realized just how badly this would crush him emotionally, even if he wasn't hurting physically.

   At the soft chirping and twittering of his mate, a traitorous tear tumbled from his eyes without permission. The merman swiped gently at the redhead's tears and began to hum gently, as if to soothe the man. He yearned to lean into the hand, to hold it to his lips and place loving kisses all over it's surface; to never, ever have to let it go.  The merman tipped their heads together, nuzzling Kirishima with such tenderness that the redhead's heart swelled with sorrowful love. "I'm sorry Bakugou," Kirishima stuttered through his tears. "I should have told you...I j-just wanted to keep you s-safe!" he wept, lovingly stroking the merman's hair. "I'm so sorry- p-please don't hate me."

   Bakugou chirped timidly, pointing at his chin, then his chest, in sign: 'Tell me.'

   Kirishima closed his eyes, not bearing to meet his soulmate's gaze. With a weak whimper, he finally came clean. "We're taking you to the ocean, to set you free."

Chapter Text

   Bakugou's reaction was immediate and visceral. The merman howled in anguish, a musical weep filling the truck bed. He grasped for Kirishima's hands, his face- anything he could to try to keep the redhead by his side. The Mer gasped, cooing sorrowfully as he frantically flailed his hands, desperately trying to sign his pain. 'You can't;' 'Mates;' 'Please don't;'

   Kirishima began openly weeping, anxiety driving him into a depressive state. He clutched weakly at his chest, trying not to hyperventilate unsuccessfully. His head spun and no matter how many breaths he took, his heart would not slow its' pace.

   He's subconsciously aware of someone calling his name and trying to get his attention, but he couldn't see anything, his vision clouded by grief. His heart felt more broken than he's ever felt, until a cool hand reached his cheek. His eyes flicked open to see Bakugou's tear stained cheeks before him, the Mer gently drying his eyes. Kirishima is awestruck; His lover's own tears still falling, but he's more concerned for the redhead.

   Kirishima clutched his hand to his cheek, clenching his hand wholeheartedly. "I'm so sorry Bakugou; I just couldn't let them sell you- this was the only way."

   The merman nodded solemnly, but his eyes betrayed his pain. He whimpered, seeming miles away in his turmoil, as he made a motion from his head to his hand, almost like a slow clap: 'Mates?'

   Kirishima tried his damnedest to smile through the wave of sadness, to reassure his loved one. "Yes, of course Bakugou; We're mates, always. We always will be."

   The Mer began to hum, pulling their foreheads together as if staying connected by physical touch would hold them together; If only it could.

_______________________________________________

   A thunderous rapping on the hatch of the trunk frightened the boys from their sadness- induced stupor. The shine of the setting sun broke through the opening, bathing Sero and Shinso in shadows. "Hey guys," Sero greeted, a compassionate sadness to his voice. "We're here."

   Shinso assisted Kaminari out and together with Kirishima, they wrapped the merman's massive tail in damp towels to assist in hydration during transfer. Kirishima hugged Bakugou's torso, cradling the merman's head to his chest. The blonde chirps mournfully, nuzzling closer to the redhead, shivering weakly. Kirishima hummed tenderly, shushing his lover peacefully, trying not to let Bakugou notice his fresh supply of tears. He sniffled quietly, and put on a brave face as they head for the beach. The friends trudge silently through the sand, no one wanting to impede on the final precious moments the pair have together.

   The sound of the crashing waves pull Bakugou's attention, causing him to flail in a spastic manner, almost falling from Kirishima's arms. "Woah, woah there buddy! Take it easy, Bakubro!" Kaminari calls, trying his best to hang on to the Mer's tail without getting quilled.

"Let's put him down a sec," supplied Shinso helpfully, speaking softly to not further spook the merman. 

   As Kirishima kneels, Bakugou reaches for him, frantically signing for his life. "Slow! Slow down, dude- sign slower for me," Kirishima begs, softly rubbing the merman's shoulder. Though still panicked, Bakugou did his best to slow his movements, desperate to make Kirishima understand.

'Please no;' 'Can't separate;' 'Mates;' 'Will find me- they find me- help;'

"Shhh, I've got you Bakugou, I'm here," Kirishima soothed, gently stroking the merman's frills, watching them flutter slowly and helping Bakugou to even out his breathing. "Listen, I know that you're scared, but everything will be okay now, ya? The bad guy is gone, you're no longer stuck in a tank- you get to be free now! No one can hurt you now. You have the whole ocean to explore!" he supplied, trying to sound enthusiastic, but neither he nor the Mer had an interest in current happiness. More tears trickle down Bakugou's face, his lips trembling and shoulders shaking in waves of fresh pain. His doleful tears and whimpers wash over the boys, not leaving a single dry eye on the beach. Kirishima bares his teeth, fighting his own emotions as he walks with Bakugou into the water. He makes it waist deep, still cradling the blonde even as his tail becomes weightless, moving freely in the water. "It's time now," Kirishima whimpers, not loosening his grip on the love of his life. Bakugou's actions reflected his, his claws clinging to his shirt, tearing the fabric in his urgency to keep him close. "It will be okay, I promise."

   Bakugou howled mournfully, only releasing his hands from around Kirishima to sign, motioning slowly; his thumb to his chin, shaking his head, pulling his fisted hands together and then apart, before pointing at Kirishima with conviction: 'Not without you.'

   Kirishima tried to cut through his crying, pressing his head to the merman's, still thoroughly weeping. "I'm so sorry Bakugou," the redhead murmured, pressing a sweet kiss to the blonde locks. Bakugou's eyes widen sadly, shocked. He clings to Kirishima, eyes never leaving his mate as he signs one last time: 'I love you.' He squishes Kirishima's cheeks sweetly, and pulls him in for a longing kiss. Kirishima grasps him close, gasping for air in fractured breathes, but never letting go.

"As touching as this may seem, show's over kids; The merman is mine."

Chapter Text

   Kirishima's fear and rage drown him quicker than the waves around him can even think about. He whips around, seeing that all of his friends have been bound and gagged, left helpless in the sand. Sekijiro stalks toward the water with a prideful smirk, eyes glittering mirthfully.

   Bakugou snarls at the man, trying his best to pull Kirishima behind him, to protect him. The redhead pulls the merman in close, glaring daggers at the impending danger. "Back off man, you can't have him!"

   The man cackles maliciously. "Oh come now, don't be a fool. That fish is my property, and legally I can do as I please with him. Now, hand him over quietly, and no one will get hurt."

   Bakugou growled deeply in warning, ready to pounce. Kirishima's breath caught like a boulder stuck in his throat; of course he wanted to save Bakugou, more than life.. but he couldn't sacrifice his friends. They had always been there for him, and had always defended him- Hell, he probably wouldn't still be alive without them.

"Kiri! Don't listen to this sick fuck!" Kaminari screamed, having managed to negate the gag. "Do not give Bakugou up! Don't give in just for us!"

   Sekijiro rolled his glowering eyes, slow clapping as he entered the tide. "Ah yes, such a brave stand. But your bravery will mean nothing. By the end of the hour, I will be leaving town in that truck, with my merman in the back. You can either make this easy and give him to me like a good boy, or you can watch me pry him from your hands as I hold your head beneath the waves; Your choice, kiddo," he grinned haughtily, giving off confident waves of nonchalance.

   Kirishima was about to tell the guy to fuck right off, but Bakugou beat him to it. The Mer lunged for the man, teeth bared in a feral howl and claws catching the man's throat and face. Sekijiro barked in pain, wildly flailing as he tried to pull the Mer off of him. Bakugou's powerful tail coiled around the man's legs, rendering him immobile. Kirishima watched, awestruck as his lover fought to protect him. By this point, Sekijiro's upper body was beginning to look like shredded beef; his forearms were dripping with blood, his neck looked like a cat's scratching post. The man was doing everything in his power to keep the rabid Mer from devouring his neck, sacrificing his one arm to keep Bakugou away.

   Kirishima snapped to attention as he realized why his struggle was so half-hearted. From below the water, he saw the shimmering barrel, watched as it breached the surface. He dashed forward, as quickly as the waves would allow, desperate to save Bakugou. "Bakugou, no!" 

   In an instant, everything happened in that one instant. As Kirishima rushed to Sekijiro, he realized that the gun was not raised to aim at Bakugou; it was raised at him. Bakugou realized this at the exact same time, and in a final attempt to subdue his attacker, he brought his tail spikes around with a flourish, qwilling the man in the abdomen, just as the air around them exploded with the ringing of a gunshot.

   As Kirishima topples into the sea, the last thing he sees is Bakugou thrashing wildly in Sekijiro's arms, desperately reaching out for him, his siren song a heartbreaking wail  caught in the stagnant air of sorrow. Then, everything goes black.

Chapter Text

   Everything is quiet, and darkness surrounds him. He cannot feel the ground below him and he feels as though there isn't a soul around.. he is alone. Looking around the dark place, he feels at peace, normally darkness and loneliness frighten him, but now, everything is calm. He hums, content.. until visions flash before him: brilliant red eyes, shining blonde hair and a musical laugh that even the God's would envy; a sultry voice, strong arms surround him, 'Mates'..

   He begins to feel woozy, a heavy weight upon his chest, as the bloodied face of the merman plays before his eyes; tears cascading over his heartbroken features as he's carried away...

"-shima! Kirishima! Please wake up man!"

"Fuck, is he still breathing? Where are the Goddamn police!"

"C'mon bro, you can't die on me! Live damnit!"

   His heavy eyelids open just an inch, slowly and with labored effort. "Wha-wha happened..?"

"Oh thank God!" Kaminari shrieked, blubbering like a lost child. "Don't you ever fuckin' do that to me again, you hear me!"

"You were shot- bullet grazed your collarbone and went through your shoulder.. knocked you out cold. Kami wriggled free of his wrist restraints and swam out to get you," Shinso explained, helping the redhead to a seated position. Kirishima groaned at the insurmountable pain in his shoulder, the shock making his head spin; It felt like his whole arm was missing.

"Is everyone else okay at least?"

   The remaining boys looked between each other nervously. "Well, everyone got out of their restraints pretty quickly with some help," Sero supplied, guilt riddling his features, 'but by the time we all got free, Sekijiro was gone.. and he took Bakugou with him."

________________________________________________

   The three men stared at their redheaded friend, waiting for the inevitable roar of angry yelling, or even the sorrowful weeping of melancholy.. but he just stood there, a hollow husk of a man. His eyes, bloodshot and weary before now were blank, unseeing. His complexion seemed paler now than when they had dragged his unconscious body from the water; The once vibrant soul seemingly vanished, giving his friends a haunted vibe.

"Who has a phone?"

   Kaminari balked, confused after being interrupted. "Uh, I-I do? But how is-"

"Let me have it; Please," Kirishima asked, walking stiffly toward the group, not unlike an undead corpse. Kaminari tossed the phone at him, still baffled, as Shinso walked to his side to comfort him.  The confusion quickly dissolved as a gruff voice answered the line.

"Sensei? Yeah, shit went south and Sekijiro's got 'em; No time to explain what happened- pick us up at the beach," with that he hung up, handing the phone back to Kaminari. A single pat on the shoulder from Shinso finally sees the dam break. Waterfalls worth of tears race down Kirishima's cheeks, collecting around his lips and chin, their salty flavor igniting a deep chasm of longing. His limbs, numb from physical and emotional turmoil, sagged tiresomely against Shinso, who supported the redhead's weight with strong, compassionate arms. He strokes his friend's hair, ever patient as Kirishima sobbed, pounding on Shinso's shoulders with fists balled up so tight they were bright white, like snow.

"Shh, it's okay, Kirishima-kun; we will get Bakugou back; Everything will be okay."

"HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!!?" Kirishima bellowed, his voice hoarse with agony. "What if he gets shipped away before we can make it? What if Sekijiro touches him?! I swear to All Might, that motherfucker better not-!" he cut himself off, crumpled on the floor in a heap of despair.

   Kaminari knelt to the ground too, scooping his best friend into his arms. "Ah, c'mon now dude- have a little more faith in your mate, bro!" he beamed with a smile. "I know ol' frosty-tips is a fuckin' skeez, but Bakubro is strong as hell! I mean, dude definitely isn't coming away from this encounter unscathed- Bakugou tore him up!" he laughed encouragingly, noting Kirishima's pause in weeping. "Fuck, I'm even pretty sure Bakugou might have qwilled the guy; couldn't see for sure, but there was a lot of fuckin' blood- he will be okay until we can make it, man. I'm sure of it."

   Shinso and Kaminari tended to Kirishima's shoulder as best they could and continued to sooth him while keeping him awake until Aizawa's car rolled right onto the beach, ushering them in.

Chapter Text

   Kirishima jerks back to consciousness, shrieking in agony. He moves to clutch weakly at his shoulder. His hand is intercepted, Kaminari holding his arm with a weak but comforting smile.

"Have to sit still kid," Aizawa chided, causing Kirishima to jump, realizing where the pain came from. With deft fingers, the older man stitches up the wound with silent precision. It takes Kirishima only two more minutes of solemn groaning before his thoughts return to his lost love. "Bakugou?" he whispered, his eyes threatening to spill weary tears. No one speaks, only the hum of the fluorescent lights as they try not to flicker. Kirishima's patience is gone, dried up. He jumps to a stand, knocking papers and knick-knacks off the nearby desk. "We're getting him back," he snaps, whisking around to face his mentor. "Where did they go?"

   Aizawa gave Kirishima's shoulder a purposeful clap, causing the redhead to yelp. He growls at the man, but Aizawa chuckles as he sits at the office compter. "Grit your teeth, kid. I've been tracking the shipment since he left. I gave Bakugou a tracker, telling him that he should never lose it; he's kept his promise." He pauses briefly, dawning a pair of glasses as he types away. "Hmm... I don't know the specifics of Sekijiro's plan, but my guess is.. private jet. Otherwise he would never get Bakugou to the buyer on time.. or covertly, I would guess." He points to a blinking light on the screen, moving slowly and steadily over the giant continent of Asia. "He's here; We need to get moving if we're going to intercept him. It's around 14 hours, so let's get going. It's gonna be a long night.

__________________________________________

   Bakugou jerks back to consciousness, his head throbbing after smacking into porcelain. He groans, rubbing his temple and drawing his hand back to reveal a trail of blood. Bakugou chirped tiredly, letting his eyes drift closed in his weary state. He cooed again, listening intently. Where was Kirishima? Normally he would have come to check on the merman by now; He never kept Bakugou waiting..

   His eyes fly open, and a broken sob echoes endlessly in the small plane's cabin. Memories of a struggle, the white haired man and blood run like film reel through his brain, but it all comes crashing to a halt when the red blood transforms, shifts into the shocked look of pain playing out on his beloved's face..

   His lover..

   His mate.

   Bakugou screams, his mourning howl deafening in the small space. His claws tear into his scalp, tearing out clumps of faded ash as he rocks back and forth, his stability threatening to shatter. He's momentarily interrupted when a booming male voice snaps at him, warning him to shut it or else. Bakugou ignores the man, every fuck to give, gone. He begins to shriek, screeching out Kirishima's name until his lungs feel like they'll give out. Even though these men are not the white haired man, they are still guilty; they are still helping him. And if they're going to help the evil one, then they must suffer.

   He continues his auditory assault, bellowing out as loud as he can. The door to the cockpit smashes open, the door's slam reverberating off the wall as a tall, burly man stalks toward him, knife drawn. "Shut the fuck up! I've heard enough out of you, ya damn canary! You keep quiet until we can pawn you off or so help me God I will fillet you and serve you to the buyer in pieces!"

   Bakugou growls with a daring smirk, egging the man on with a coo and a flipped middle finger. The man goes to lunge at the Mer before the pilot jumps in, grabbing the man's arm to restrain him. "Just put on some damn headphones if the sounds bother you; You don't  want to fuck with this thing.. If it was strong enough to kill the boss, there's no telling what it would do to us."

   Bakugou paused, shocked at the newest information. He had killed the white-haired man? His memories were a blur.. He remembered attacking the man's throat, hoping to kill him- but if he had succeeded, the man couldn't have delivered him to these fools..

   Ah, his quills.

   The men's eyes were trained on them too. They probably didn't know of their mystery toxins, but it seemed they had their suspicions. Bakugou thrashed in the small bathrub, displaying his quills threateningly, much like an archer with a readied shot. The two backed out of his space, leaving him alone once more. He began to whimper and chirp again, drowning in his sorrows again. He wanted to fight, wanted to destroy the people who hurt him, but what would be the point? His mate was gone.

   And without Kirishima, his alpha had no one to protect, to provide for..to live for.

   He sank deeper into his loneliness, his anguish a deep chasm. He had already lost so much.. but the loss he felt when he pictured Kirishima's final moments was a pain more excruciating than he had felt last time; when he lost her.

   His eyes, weak to his fear and heartache, slid closed again. Perhaps his dreams could keep him afloat, if only for a short while.

Chapter Text

"Come on Katsuki, you should at least try it once!"

   Katsuki rolled his eyes, not really annoyed, but not entertaining the conversation either. "I said no, so quit it already. I don't care what's up there, I'm the tribe leader's son, and head of the Guard, and if I say it ain't safe, then you should fuckin' listen!"

   The petite seahorse hybrid giggled, unphased by his stance. "Oh man, everyone make way for future King Katsuki! Oh, I'm so sorry your highness, is the coral reef in the way of your soap box?"

   Katsuki pinched the bridge of his nose, glowering from under hooded eyes. "Fuck off cheeks; Just because I was able to change the council's minds about our betrothal does not mean I get to change the rules. The surface isn't safe, and you shouldn't be going up there.. no matter who's out there," he trailed off, gazing through the blue expanse up to the glimmering sunlit waves.

   Uraraka sat quietly beside him, taking note of his reverent stare. She placed a thoughtful hand to his shoulder with an alto hum. "You feel it too, don't you?" she asked, smiling warmly with a knowing look. Katsuki held her gaze, wanting to listen, wanting to believe the feeling in his heart. "You feel the pull, the tug- your soul mate is out there."

   Katsuki snapped out of it, quickly shaking off the notion, whipping around in a tornado of bubbles back toward the colony. "Guess we'll never know, because unlike you, I actually follow the rules; I don't need to become a human hors d'oeuvre."

   Uraraka made sure to make her exasperated sigh more than audible. " Fine fine, I won't drag your 'good boy' ass into this, but I'm still going- no snitching on me, okay?"

   Bakugou turned to giver her a look of concerned disapproval. "Chaco.. is it really worth risking your life for?"

   Uraraka swam over to her friend, placing her hands firmly on his shoulders. "Yes it really is. I know you don't understand yet, but someday you will! Someday you will finally breach, and you'll find the one- the one guy who sets your soul ablaze! The one who will make all those other extras fall from your view.. they'll be everything to you, and you would do anything for them. That's why I have to go.. he's waiting for me," she trailed off, love-struck eyes trained on the surface. "I have to go," she said again, looking back at him confidently. She caressed his cheek tenderly, a warm glow adorning her cheeks as he leaned into her touch. Bakugou sighed heavily, knowing there was nothing more he could do. "Fine. If you aren't back in 30 minutes, I will kill you myself."

   The brunette's face turned grave, and she nodded absolutely. "I'm counting on it."

_________________________________________________________

   Katsuki was beginning to grow anxious. Twenty-some minutes had passed, and though her time wasn't up yet, he sent a member of the royal guard her way, just in case. Armed with a sonar bracelet connected to Iida's and a poisonous spear, the blonde sat nervously at the palace gate, tail twitching in erratic waves. It's not that he didn't trust her- Ochaco was was a kind but sturdy omega, royalty herself, and she had been able to go fin-to fist with him in a spar, but that was in the water.. that was when she was safe.

"Tch," Katsuki chided his skittish gills, annoyed at having to care. He hoped she would come barreling around the reef's edge, heart-shaped eyes and gushing about 'her man,' that she would go on and on about what a hunk this guy was, so Katsuki could scowl and be annoyed with her.. but secretly, he would sigh with relief at her safety. They may be ex-fiances because they weren't in love, but he still loved his friend, and felt the strong alpha in him rear it's proud head with the need to protect her; it was his honor.

   A minute before thirty and Bakugou's communicator was blaring with shrill sound. "Your highness! We have an emergency! A boat ammbushed her on her way back- I'm wounded, and they are trying to haul her aboard!"

   The buffeting of water rushing past his frills drown out everything else, but it didn't matter; he needed to get to them, now. Schools of fish scattered in frightened clouds around him as he burst through, not a thought spared. He caught his fin on something sharp, only giving enough fucks to hiss through gritted fangs as he kept going. The clearing was up ahead, and he followed the trail of bright red blood that lead to his wounded guard. The blue-fin tuna hybrid lay sprawled out on a large boulder, a deep gash from his left shoulder down to his opposite hipbone seeping copious clouds of blood into the murky waters.

"Iida!" Katsuki cried, casting aside his spear and clasping the man's hand in a death grip. "I'm so sorry Iida, fuck! What can I do? How do I-?"

"D-don't worry for me, sir.. 'nother guard member coming for m-me. Go- get her," he gasped raggedly, coughing up blood as he point behind them. Bakugou didn't feel right about leaving the man there, he just couldn't-

   A high pitched scream split the sea.

   Bakugou bolted for the boat, seeing the commotion and the fray of bubbles encapsulating the boat's hull; she was putting up one hell of a fight. He stayed close to her tail as he drew near, remaining out of sight to not further endanger them both. He grabbed hold of her lithe tail and yanked with all his might. The small boat lurched heavily to one side, almost capsizing as it released the omega. "I got you, Ochaco, it's okay now," Bakugou called out to her, but as she whipped around, he stopped dead.

   Her eyes were blood-shot, pupils dilated and panicked. Dark purple hickies adorned her soft pale skin, like squid-ink blots down he neck, her arms, back and hips; her bralette had been taken, exposing her petite breasts which looked abused and raw. Blood oozed from different angles on her tail, and he realized upon further inspection that there were clusters of scales missing, ending with a large piece of her dorsal fin completely gone.

    Bakugou felt like he was drowning, feeling the bile rise in his throat, threatening to cut off his air supply. He couldn't breathe; he couldn't move.

   The once vibrant, beautiful seahorse looked doped up, high on something that took away her essence. Her limbs twitched in awkward motions, the frills on her cheeks seemed to continuously flutter, like a coked out hummingbird.. she looked hollow and ragged, like a sex slave. She shook violently, as if catching a cold, making a labored wheezing sound. Bakugou inched closer, reaching out for her. "Ochaco? A-are you-"

   Her whole body forcibly jerked out of his reach, her eyes seemingly more deranged. She hissed lowly, as if ready to fight him, but he could see that she was really fighting the demons inside herself. She shook her head vigorously, scratching at her arms and chest like a nervous twitch. "K-kasski..!"

   The sounds of the men above startled them both. The brunette looked petrified and electrified, her poor instincts unsure of what to do. She clung to his shoulder, dagger like nails cutting through layers of skin as she wept hoarsely. "Y-you promised, yeah? You said you'd kill me! Please Katsuki! Please kill m-me!"

   Bakugou tried to swim them further from the boat, but his companion sat still as a rock. "Ochaco! We have to go home! We have to get help, now!" he bellowed.

"SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO ME DAMMIT!" she yelped as loudly as her weak throat could allow. "I don't k-know what they gave me, but even if we could leave, I can tell it's fucking me up inside.. everything is burning from my throat down, and I can't see very well anymore."

   Katsuki's blood grew cold. "What are you saying? What about your mate? You can't die! We have to go!!"

   She shook her head weakly. "It's too late for me. Either you kill me, or they'll fuck me like a toy 'til I'm dead, and I am not going out like that. Kill me Katsuki; please."

   Before he could work out a plan, sharp, metal spears shot through the waters, showering down around them. Katsuki howled at the gash in his forearm, the pain white-hot and blinding. He clutched his limb to his chest, breathing heavily as he tried to keep moving. "'Chaco, you.." the words died on his lips as he spotted her a few yards away, spear impaling the thickest part of her tail.

"Ochaco!!"

   Her eyes were huge, frightened and engorged from the drugs. "Katsuki! KILL ME NOW!" she begged as the line at the end of the spear began to drag her in, fast. "Don't let them take me again! I can't go back!! DO IT NOW! PLEASE! KATSUKI!!"

   Just as the men began to hoist her up, a spear careened through the water to Bakgou's right, impaling the brunette right through the chest. Bakugou howled in agony as Ochaco smiled her last.

 

Chapter Text

 Bakugou jolted awake, his own pained scream still stuck in his ears. He forced himself to even his breathing so he could focus on the issue at hand; one life crisis at a time.

   He needed a plan. He knew he was stronger than the men, and it didn't hurt things that they were afraid of him either. He didn't know what the hell he would do about the plane (how the hell should he know how to fly?) but he would figure something out.. better to crash into the sea anyway.

   He paused mid-thought; something was.. different. The plane was eerily quiet. Frills humming, searching for the sounds he had grown used to: the roaring engine, rush of air, the sound of the pilots.. gone. His heart raced with dreaded realization. They were on the ground.

   The door on the side of the plane opened slowly, and Bakugou sat poised and ready to fight. At first, nothing happened. Just as Bakugou began to click, searching for anything unusual, the two men from the cockpit entered, followed by another man. All three had strange black suits on, covered in weird pillowy- bumps. Bakugou hissed as they drew near, flaring his fins and displaying his quills, waiting for them to back off. The newcomer laughed as his companions froze. "Not to worry men; that's what the armor's for- too thick for the quills to get'cha."

   The men still seemed weary, but followed the third as he approached the Mer. "My my, well aren't you a pretty one!" the man crooned. Bakugou growled, baring his teeth for emphasis. The man smiled warmly. "Don't you worry none," he whispered, "You're safe here. Ain't no one gonna hurt'cha." In a louder voice, he barked "Now I know why he cost so damn much; he'll do just fine for my gal and her kin." He turned to the plane crew with a stern look. "Your boss too lazy to do a transaction in person, or what?"

   The men glared, one replying, "No; he's dead," gesturing towards Bakugou.

   The third man seemed to think on this a moment, but kept his face composed. "Well, not ma' problem; you got'cher money, now go on; get off ma land," he shooed them on, seeming to pay them no more mind. The two men eyed him venomously before turning their glare on the Mer. Bakugou gave a quick flick of his tail, a warning, and glared right back. If they wanted to do any harm, their window had passed, as the buyer returned with a tarp. He tossed it on the ground, straightening up with a leveled gaze at the men. "If you're still here, yer helpin'. We're gonna hoist him up and get him on the tarp. Then from tarp, to lake; this will be quick and will be done in one shot; I do not tolerate failure."

   Bakugou smirked; he didn't like being someone's property, but this guy was just his style.

   The man from the plane pulled his suit pocket open, revealing the hilt of his gun. "Who says we take orders from you?"

   The old man smiled confidently, grabbing his own gun from his waistband. "Well, not to one-up you son, but I got a gun, a venomous Mer right next to me and another alpha Mer no more than five feet from here- not to mention, she's a real good jumper.. and eater."

   The men from the plane gave each other irate side glances before nodding. On the count of three, Bakugou was transferred to the ground, much to his annoyance, before the men began hauling him toward a small, man-made lake. Bakugou chirped anxiously, and felt the warm hand of the buyer on his shoulder, comforting him. He didn't know what was in store for him, but he wanted to trust the man.

   They reached the lake, where the buyer waded out into the shallows to dip Bakugou in slowly. The men glower once more before stalking back to board the plane. After watching the plane take off and creep off into the distance, Bakugou glanced to the older man, unsure just how much he could be trusted, but the man smiled warmly, and he began to sign slowly so the Mer would understand; hands gently fisted before crossing each other: 'Safe.' And the blonde felt that, for all of two minutes before being yanked below.

Chapter Text

   Bakugou chokes on the surprisingly large amount of water he swallowed, complete with a large chunk of moss, as he rights himself. Viewing his surroundings he can see that besides the water's edge which had become murky due to the shore, the middle of the 'lake' was almost as clear as the open ocean. The man-made structure had been made very homey, complete with basking outcroppings, tiny coral beds and large stone formations for hiding, playing or sleeping. But what caught his attention most was the large chunk missing from the middle of the lake, like a giant drop-off.

   Bakugou inch closer, curiously. As he was about to reach its' edge a flurry of black and white flew out of the void, knocking him backward. He tried to sit very still, eyes never leaving the giant female orca hybrid. Her coal black eyes never wavering, never leaving his. She gave a threatening bellow, drawing close enough for him to smell her protective alpha scent. He hissed, trying to overpower it with his own scent, one that roared 'Stay back!' as he fanned out his fins and quills. The female took note of his display and without warning began to laugh in hysterics. Bakugou growled, puzzled by the sudden change, unsure if he should feel more or less tense. His mother had always warned him to be careful around orcas; they are known for their abrasive attitudes and ravenous appetites.. he'd even heard they ate sharks. And this one seemed unhinged, given the sudden random laughter. Why would the nice man leave him here? was he supposed to be a special treat for her or something?

   The female seemed to realize he still hadn't moved or spoken as she calmed herself with a rough smile. "Easy kid. Sorry 'bout that. Thought you were here for my kids, but I realize you're the new drop-off! Made me laugh- me gettin' worked up over a bat fish." She wiped at her non-existent tears.

   Bakugou stared, dumbstruck. She seemed nice enough, but what if it were all a front? "Oh c'mon now, you're not mute, are ya? I was hopin' to have someone new to talk to! I mean, I got the kids, but you know how they are; only wanna play games and fight each other and-"

"Hey! Shut it, will ya?" Bakugou snapped. He'd been waiting to speak, but if he kept that up, he'd never get to talk.

   The female giggled. "So ya do talk! Good! Don't think I could handle talkin' to myself anymore!" she rubbed her arm embarrassed. "Name's Rumi! Ol' Taishiro must have saved you too, huh?"

   Bakugou bristled. "Saved me?!! The old man bought me! He took me away! He took me f-from.." he trailed off in anguish. He collapsed in on himself, helplessness threatening to overtake him when he felt a tiny set of hands on his tail. Confused, he twisted around to see a small orca calf tracing the glimmer orange of his scales with her tiny finger. He opened his mouth to speak, but was semi-blinded by a pair of equally tiny hands. He gently pulled them down and tilted his head to one side to catch the eye of another calf. This one was a bit large than his sister, and he gave a weak trumpet as he swam around the blonde's head, putting himself between the intruder and his sister. "Don't you touch my sister!" he warned, cute little fangs set in a sneer. Bakugou blinked in confusion.

"Me not touch her? Sh'e she the one touchin' me, kid."

   The young male gave another trumpet. "Well I'm the man of the family, so I gotta protect her, so you just sit there! I don't wanna have to hurt you stranger!" he warned, eyes narrowed in concentration.

"Akio, that's enough. Be nice to our new friend...?" she trialed off, waiting for him.

"Bakugou," he replied softly, still keeping an eye on the little girl.

"Bakugou! That's great!" she exclaimed enthusiastically. "They are my kiddos, you met Akio there, and that's my curious little sea-cucumber, Mira," she said, gesturing to the other calf. The little girl looked up at the sound of her name, blinking rapidly, taking in the scene before her as if she hadn't seen them before. "Mama, the orange fish has nine different striations of orange on his tail."

   Bakugou quirked a brow, looking back at this tail quizzically as if to check her math. Rumi laughed. "That's fascinatin' baby! But it's not nice to talk about someone like they ain't there." She turned to address Bakugou again. "Sorry 'bout that; Mira's a real inquisitive kind; she's been takin' lessons with Taishiro to 'broaden her horizons' I guess," she chuckled.

   Bakugou stiffened at the man's name, his previous concerns resurfacing. He glowered at the grinning alpha, confused and feeling betrayed. "Rumi, how can you be so giddy? So happy after what that human has done to you!"

   The silver haired alpha cocked her head, genuine confusion present in her features. "After what he's done? What do you think he's done? 'Cuz I can guarantee it's not what you think."

   Bakugou paused, caught off guard by her words. He knew what Kirishima would have done; he would give the man the benefit of the doubt- innocent until proven otherwise. His heart ached at the thought of his lover; he decided to try it his way. He sighed. "You have a point. How about you tell me your story. How did you get here?"

Chapter Text

   Rumi smiled, vivaciously clapping her enthusiasm. "Ooooh, story time! C'mon kids, huddle up! This one's a good one!"

   The little girl curled herself up in Bakugou's tail, her brother sitting on a stone nearby to keep an eye on her. "Well, it all started about six years ago; my mate and I had just given birth to little Mira when our pod was warned of incoming poachers. We were usually able to avoid them or overpower them, but our sisters had been through a horrid winter, wand our warriors were weakened. We thought we had enough time to hide the young and the very old, but the boats appears out of nowhere. I wanted to help, but I had to stay with my babies," she said timidly, her throat sounding choked off as she held back tears. "But that did not stop Ryuko. Oh my Ryuko, always so brave in the face of danger," she said, tearing up openly now.

   Bakugou's stomach was all in knots, anxious to hear how her mate had been lost. He startled briefly at a soft chirping sound in all the quiet, and found little doe-eyed Mira looking up at him from his knee. He nodded his approval, and she nestled in his lap for comfort. His hands automatically began to pet her sweet curls, the gesture reminding him of his own lost love.

"She had blocked a harpoon from hitting an elderly whale.. they must not have roped it off because they didn't drag her up with them..they just.. left her there to die. We did get to say our last goodbyes. I was heartbroken; It was incredibly hard to leave her, but I knew we had to leave the area, so I could keep the kids safe," she murmured tearfully, brushing Akio's hair in her own lap.

   Bakugou looked down, Mira peacefully snoozing in his arms. He was crushed; he and his parents didn't always see eye to eye, but at least he didn't lose one of them. Tears pricked his eyes as Rumi continued her recount. "We were weak from hunger, sickness and grief when Taishiro found us. He caught us fresh fish, gave us broth and medicine and helped us to get our strength back. He told us he was a hybrid activist, and that he had helped hundreds of sea creatures rehabilitate and then return to the oceans. He normally doesn't keep multiple species in here at once for safety concerns, but he said he received a special request for you to be here; and now, here you are!" she tried to sing cheerily, but the light was gone from her eyes.

   Bakugou cooed gently, and she smiled at his sympathy. "It's been just us and Taishiro ever since. He isn't my mate, but he cares for my kids and that's a debt I can't repay."

   Bakugou tried to sort his thoughts. "Well, the old man seems to be a good human.. but why was he making deals with the shady white-haired man? That bastard sold me to Taishiro so I could mate with you!"

   Rumi nearly chocked on her own laughter. "Fuckin' what!?! That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!"

   Bakugou snarled. "Hey, that's what they told me!"

"No, no," Rumi gasped for air, "I believe you hun, it's just so ludicrous! We're both alphas! That's not how that shit works!" she chortled on.

"I know!" Bakugou roared in annoyance. "That's what my mate said.. before.." he couldn't finish.

   Rumi stopped laughing and cooed somberly. "They get your mate too?" Bakugou nodded tearfully, sobs racking his frame.

"Oh baby, I'm sorry," Rumi whispered, tenderly reaching for his hand and squeezing it tight. "I'm not sure what story he sold them, but I know with absolute certainty that Taishiro did what he did to save you; I have no doubts at all."

   Seeing the sincere conviction in her eyes gave Bakugou a bit of peace, and as Rumi sang a childhood lullaby to her resting infants, Bakugou closed his eyes and had his first real rest since Kirishima's death.

Chapter Text

"We're nearing the buyer's land, so stay sharp; We hit the ground in fifteen," Aizawa advised, standing by the plane's window for the view. Kirishima nodded his acknowledgement, also watching the terrain fly by them below. He prayed that they would make it in time; that Bakugou was okay. "I hope it doesn't come to this, but in case it does, you know how to shoot?" his mentor asked, holing out a medium sized silver handgun. Kirishima took it tentatively, resting it on his lap as if holing it in his hands might cause it to go off. He gave a silent nod, trying not to let thoughts of his childhood cloud his mind. His teacher nodded, giving his shoulder a pat as he tucked his own gun into his waistband. "Don't worry kid; I'm sure he's okay."

   Kirishima gave a small, weak smile as he returned to the cockpit, and he looked out over the clouds hoping beyond hope that he was right.

_____________________________________________

   Bakugou sat quietly on a rocky structure near the south side of the lake. After waking from a nightmare in the early morning hours, he had gently laid Mira next to her mother and brother and began to swim off to clear his head. He paused, hearing a soft voice behind him. "I'll be here if you need a shoulder, Bakugou." He turned his head slightly to catch Rumi's kind smile, giving her a nod as he continued on. He had swam to the far side of the lake in the hopes they wouldn't hear him sobbing, but he was sure they probably could.

   He sighed, tired of being sad, but not rewady to give up his anguish just yet. His stomach, tied in knots of anxiety and loneliness, made it hard to eat, even thought Taishiro had tried to offer food. He had smiled jovially, giving Bakugou's hair a pet before helping Rumi wrangle the kids. The pit of Bakugou's stomach burned, and he realized in embarrassment that he envied them; they weren't a conventional family, but Rumi trusted the human fully, never cautious or worried when he was with her kin- and he yearned so much for that bond. Hot tears strayed from his eyes as he swam back to his rock, choosing space over comfort. Maybe in time, he'd change his mind.

_____________________________________________

"C'mon, Mr. Bakugou! Spar with me!" Akio repeated. Bakugou rolled his eyes playfully, giving the calf a gentle nudge with his tail.

"What about Mira? She asked me to braid her hair first; it wouldn't be very nice if I just ditched her, right?"

"Yeah! Not nice, Aki," little Mira chided from Bakugou's lap. He chuckled at the boys frustration, continuing to weave the little girl's hair.

"Ugh! I'm so boooorred though! There's nothing to do today."

"Not my problem kid. I can only babysit one at a time," the blonde teased. "Why not play with your mom?"

   Akio pouted, crossing his little arms irritably. "Mama is talking with Tai-san, so I-"

"Bakugou! Kids! Get into the cave now!"

   Bakugou and the calves jumped in alarm, frightened by the fear on Rumi's face. She frantically snatched her children and kept swimming, Bakugou having to quickly make up the difference. "Hey! What the hell is happening??"

"A plane is approaching; Taishiro thinks the mercs are back. Taishiro is armed, but still, if they get past him, they'll be coming for us."

   Bakugou stopped by the mouth of the cave. "We have to help him! We can't just abandon him- what happens to us if he dies? Even if they don't find us, we'll still die with no food!"

   Rumi looked pale and saddened. "I understand Bakugou; he's my friend and I don't want him to get hurt..but.." she stopped, gaze drifting to her young children, whose innocent eyes looked up to her, their guardian; their safe place. She brought them close to her chest, her arms the haven they knew had always been there for them. "I just can't lose them.. they're all I have left of Ryuko." She sat silently, nuzzling her son's cheek as he clung to her neck; Bakugou's chest ached with the distant memory of his own protective mother. He couldn't ask her to leave them behind. 

"I'll go. You stay hidden- hopefully I'll come get you all when this is over." He didn't wait for her response, knowing how she would try to protect him too. He darted toward the surface in a watery parade of bubbles, itching for a fight.

Chapter Text

   As the plane landed, Kirishima raced to the door, only to be stopped short by Aizawa's arm. The man doesn't flinch away at the redhead's glare. "I know you're amped up to save your man, but let me do the talking. Maybe this guy can be reasoned with so drastic measures don't need to be taken."

   Kirishima wanted to argue, but the plane door opened, and he followed his mentor out onto a grassy knoll. A man was approaching from a lake, and though he was smiling, there was an unseen tension about his features. Kirishima glared, muscles tensed and ready. If this man hurt Bakugou in any way, Kirishima was ready to destroy him.

"Well hello there folks! Are ya lost?" The tall blonde man asked in a friendly-enough tone.

"Not quite, sir," Aizawa replied respectfully, keeping his own tone level. "We are looking for a friend of ours, and my records show that he might be here with you. You don't happen to have an orange and black Mer lurking about, do you?"

   The man's eyes gave a threatening glint. "That depends on who's asking."

"The fuck does that mean?!" Kirishima growled, cutting the man off. "We want him back! What have you done to Bakugou?!!" Kirishima trudged forward, fists white-knuckled.

   The man reflexively pulled his own gun as Aizawa tried to calm Kirishima down. "Now everyone just clam down here! I'm not letting anyone else hurt that poor boy, so you mercs get outta her or else!" he yelled, taking the safety off his gun.

"Mercs? We aren't the fucking mercs you-!!" Just then, a large figure jumped from the edge of the lake, landing with a wet smack! The three startled, seeing the massive Mer hiss and snap at the intruders, only to stop short and instantly begin chirping, excitedly dragging himself over.

"Bakugou!!" Kirishima shouted, dashing to the Mer and crashing to his knees. The two older men watched in astonishment as the two held each other, listening to the trills and sobs.

   The Mer began hurriedly signing as he squealed, and the blonde man gave an exuberant shout. "Oh! So you're this mate! Oh thank All Might, we thought there was more danger for this poor fella. Whew!" he smiled brightly, stashing his gun again and raising a hand in greeting. "I'm so happy you're okay! Your mate here thought he'd lost ya!"

Kirishima searched the merman's eyes sadly, pulling his head to his chest in comfort. Bakugou cooed softly, allowing himself to just be held. "He hasn't eaten anything since he arrived; now that you're here, maybe he'll tried my smoked salmon!" the man chuckled as Bakugou hissed in his direction. The two young men sat quietly together, listening as Aizawa explained their story. Kirishima blocked out the rest of the world; nothing else mattered but the man in his arms. The merman cooed and chirped, nuzzling into the crook of his neck, and he held him tight. "I'm so glad you're okay buddy- I thought I'd never see you again! he wept.

   Bakugou placed his forehead against red spikes and hummed their special sound. Kirishima reciprocated as thankful tears continued to land atop their joined hands. Seeing Bakugou's proud smile brought on a new swell of joy and admiration blossoming in his very soul. He took the blonde's face in his hands and pulled him close, their lips finding each other in quiet need. Bakugou's eyes widen in surprise before fluttering closed as he melted into Kirishima's hold. The merman's sweet hum turned into a moan of longing, chasing the savory taste of Kirishima's affections.

   The two startled as Aizawa cleared his throat behind them. The blonde smiled in greeting at Kirishima. "You must be the 'stunning lover' we've heard so much about! I'm Taishiro! And I'm so happy you could be reunited with your mate."

   Kirishima rose to his feet. He approached the man quietly, brushing straight past his outstretched hand and into his surprised arms. "Thank you; thank you so much for saving him. You'll never know how much it means to me that you kept him safe."

   Taishiro let out a joyed chortle, hokding the redhead in a bear hug. "It's been my pleasure, young man. I'm happy to help. Now, why don't we grab us some food and come back to the lake, yeah? I think there's someone Bakugou would like you to meet!"

Chapter Text

   Kirishima paced anxiously, counting the minutes that passed since Bakugou had dived back into the lake. Taishiro had patted his shoulder, assuring him that he had nothing to worry about, but his nerves just wouldn't settle. He had agonized for days over their separation and couldn't bear the thought of being torn apart again; but his mate had kissed his cheek softly, signing to 'wait here', before slipping below the water. In his heart, he wanted to trust that his mate was safe- but his eyes needed to see the proof.

   A large showering of water brought the redhead back to the shoreline, his grinning mate watching him. He went to kneel down close, to join him in the water even, when he noticed the enormous dorsal fin behind him. "Bakugou! Look out!" the redhead shouted, pulling on the blonde's arms, desperate to get him to safety.

   Bakugou reached for his mate, patting his hands patiently, trying to convey how silly this behavior was. At first, Kirishima wanted to snap at him; How was it so silly for Kirishima to want to protect his mate? The last time they saw each other, he had almost died! He opened his mouth to chide the merman when two little heads popped up above the water's surface, one on either side of Bakugou. They were children; one girl and one boy. Their dark eyes watched him, curious, but cautious, like he might hurt them. The little girl even curled into Bakugou, as if seeking his protection. Bakugou chirped down at her, nodding over to Kirishima with an enraptured smile. Kirishima looked away, embarrassed, like he felt he shouldn't see the intimacy of the moment. It was then he remembered the large fin, and upon finding it again was struck with awe; the fin was that of an adult female orca. She had flowing silver locks that framed a powerful jawline and eyes solid and firm. Her frame was built for strength and endurance; She had alpha written all over her, except one place: her smile. Kirishima was absolutely baffled by the childish sweetness to such a dangerous animal, but here she was, playfully ribbing his mate while her pups swam close to her, excited by her energy.

   Bakugou held out his hand to the orca, guiding her to his waiting mate. He placed her hand in Kirishima's and signed very slowly, making sure the redhead understood. The wave of relief to rush over Kirishima in that moment was so... unexpected. Not only had Bakugou had Taishiro to save and house him, he also had another hybrid to live with and keep him company! Gratitude washed over him and the overwhelming need to express it fueled him as he reached for her. She nodded vigorously, her arms open for a return hug, before dragging him off the ground and into a half-wet bear hug. He floundered for a moment, but quickly gave in, content in her motherly embrace and the relaxed laughter surrounding them, from both the men and Mers alike.

_________________________________________

   With food reduced to a few crumbs and a campfire's warm glow the group sat together at the water's edge, watching the children splash about with the moon's rising. Kirishima sat with his legs in the cool water, with Bakugou tucked between his knees. The orca pups kept trying to pull him into their game, but Bakugou chirped the same response again and again, content to sit in Kirishima's arms. He cooed and trilled a sweet sort of lullaby, and Kirishima sighed the weight of a planet leaving his worn shoulders. In this moment, the pain, fear and anger of the past few days felt miles away; he felt like nothing could possibly hurt them now.

   He watched curiously, having noticed that the orca family had grown quiet; the mother, who Bakugou had called Miruko, swam next to them, her little boy in her arms. She chirped at Kirishima in query, and though he didn't understand, he still nodded. She curled up next to his knee, resting her head next to Bakugou's as he sang. He was surprised by this, having expected Bakugou to push her away, but he was even more dumbfounded when he noticed the female calf; she sat quietly by the merman's knee, playing with his scales. When Bakugou looked down at her, she made an 'up' motion, just like a human child asking to be carried. He chuckled, pulling her up into his arms. She trilled softly, patting his chest as if to ask him to sing again.

    Kirishima kept quiet, observing this new side to his mate. He felt... conflicted. It wasn't that he disliked this version of Bakugou, far from, but the tenderness of his movements, his efforts to soothe and comfort the other hybrids.. Kirishima knew it seemed selfish, but he felt left out, or like he didn't belong there with them. He wasn't a part of their world, and maybe..

   Bakugou had finished his tune, and Miruko gently gathered her clan for bedtime. As she reached for her little girl, she nuzzled Bakugou's cheek, making Kirishima blush jealously. The moment was fleeting though, as she came to do the same to him. He awkwardly tried to reciprocate, making her laugh. She patted his knee, signing something to Bakugou before heading off to the cave to sleep.

Chapter Text

"What was that about?" Kirishima tried not to sound offended. He knew his jealousy was pointless, but he just couldn't shake this feeling of unease. He shook himself free of his thoughts, realizing how quiet everything was. He turned, noticing Bakugou's lack of response. The Mer sat still, eyes roaming over the water's moonlit surface, a grimace and creased brows set on his face. "Bakugou? Is everything okay buddy?"

   The Mer looked over at him, movements solemn and slow. His eyes didn't quite meet the redhead's as he shook his head. He made a trickling-like motion from his eyes down his cheeks, 'sad', before making a sign like two fingers jamming together-'conflicted'. The nerves started to bubble up in Kirishima's gut, like a kettle reaching its' boiling point. The blonde must have noticed and grabbing his mate's arms, tapping them for permission as he always did. Tossing his clothing aside, Kirishima slid into the cold water with his mate. Bakugou barely let Kirishima get his head under before the rambling took over. 'I'm sorry, please don't panic. I don't want you to be sad anymore; I never want to hurt you, mate. I almost lost you, that should be all I think about, and it is! But, they remind me of home, of the family I left behind-'

"Bakugou,"

'And it's not like I want to go back there, or that I want to stay here without you-'

"Bakugou."

'I Can't hurt mate again, but they've lost so much, and they've cared for me-'

"Bakugou!!" Kirishima bellowed, trying to amplify his voice through the water. The merman quieted down, looking chastened and embarrassed. Kirishima tugged the Mer into a lingering embrace, softly rubbing the thin membrane of his dorsal fin. "I hear you, Bakugou..I know you want to help them, and I'm so amazed at how much you've changed lately! I can hardly believe you're the same man I met back at the aquarium," he teased, bringing out a small smile from his mate.

   After grabbing a gulp of air, he settled back into Bakugou's arms. As he gently stroked the scales on his arms, he felt tears wanting to form, even though the water stopped them from falling. It felt like he was signing up to say goodbye again, and the ache in his chest seemed to explode with the pressure of an underwater volcano.

   Bakugou chirped sadly next to him, bringing his eyes level. "Do you want to stay here with them..?"

   Bakugou's lip seemed to tremble, and he shifted his gaze aside, desperate to avoid his mate's begging stare. It seemed he had his answer. The redhead turned away, starting toward the surface, heartbroken for another world-changing decision, when a voice rang out amongst the blue stillness.

'No. He can't stay here.'

Chapter Text

   The two whip around to find the female orca sitting on a rock ledge close by, arms clasped in front of her comfortingly, and a soft smirk on her lips. Though her words seemed harsh, her tender aura was enough to show them the truth. Still, Bakugou's face fell into saddened confusion. 'Y-you don't want me to stay?'

   Rumi glided over in a whisper of bubbles, coming to rest a hand on the other alpha's shoulder. 'Bakugou, honey, we love ya, but we aren't your problem to deal with; we have a great set-up here! My children are fed and safe, Taishiro takes great care of us.. there's nothing you need to worry about!' she exclaimed, proudly resting her hands on her hips in defiance, causing Bakugou to chuckle a bit.

   Rumi's smile glowed as she gave Bakugou a side hug. 'We will be okay without you, kid, but ya know who won't?' she asked, tilting Bakugou's gaze up to match with Kirishima's, who tried to hide his blush. She beamed, nodding at the obvious answer in her eyes. 'I lost my mate by force, Bakugou; Don't make the wrong move and lose yours by choice. We will be okay; Go- be with him and have a long, beautiful life together,' she concluded, giving him a clap on the shoulder before swimming back to bed.

_________________________________________________________________

   The glow of the morning sun warming his cheeks woke Kirishima from a restless sleep. After talking with Miruko, the two lovers had sat on the lake's edge together, with nothing but soft whispers and the rustling of the grass to keep them company. Bakugou had calmed after their talk, and as Kirishima hummed in his arms, his head resting against the Mer's chest, he had begun to rub the length of the redhead's arms in a soothing manner. Kirishima's own hum became a choked off gasp as he felt the ghost of warm breath and plush lips on his neck. He looked back out of the corner of his eye; Bakugou's cheeks were dusted a rosy pink as their gaze met, and he purred, a deep rumbling sound. Kirishima gulped, trying to contain the on-slot of butterflies inside that desperately wanted to escape. "Bakugou," he murmered, grabbing for the blonde's hand and holding it tight. 

   The Mer seemed to understand, not needing words to express what he also felt. He tipped the redhead closer, meeting his lips in a deeply longing kiss. Kirishima let his body rest against a firm, steady chest, relishing the silk-like smoothness of Bakugou's scales. He pulled back just enough to brush his nose against his mate's. He peered into the beautiful hooded crimson irises with newfound familiarity. "I love you, Bakugou, so much. I love you," he gasped through his last words as Bakugou pulled him back in, and the still night air filled with loving promises and a chorus of smacking lips.

   With morning here and their promised future, Kirishima rolled over on the grass to see Bakugou dozing sweetly, his torso laying on the grass, his arms folded as a pillow for his head. Kirishima had confessed his love to this mystifying creature, and made an unspoken plan to prove it once they returned home. Bakugou was worth it; As he kissed shining flaxen strands, he knew that no matter what happened, he wanted to be with Bakugou through it all.

Chapter Text

   A week had passed since Kirishima had brought his mate back home. It was a tearful goodbye; Little Mira had tried to camouflage herself in Bakugou's quills, and the small group of friends didn't have the heart to pull her out. As Taishiro packed a goodie bag for their flight home, Bakugou had scooped up the sweet little girl and pulled her close. He chirped softly to her, patting her silky hair with a special fondness, before nudging her over to her mother. Miruko beamed, tears glistening in her eyes as she teasingly told them to get lost. Bakugou flipped her the bird with a grateful grin, waving over Kirishima's shoulder as they boarded the plane. And with Taishiro's assurance of a visit in the future, the plane took off toward home.

   Upon their return, Aizawa had advised Kirishima to keep Bakugou at his apartment to avoid any other.. kidnapping situations. And also, the aquarium wasn't able to house the Mer after the scandal of its' director was revealed. So.. yeah, safer; that was all Kirishima was given from his mentor before he left in a troubled state. Kirishima hoped he would be okay.

   His roommates had..mixed feelings upon their return. As soon as they opened their front door, Kaminari pounced on the two, sobbing about 'love conquering all; and nonsense. Shinso helped them all up, welcoming them back and getting his boyfriend to sober up a bit. The group of friends sat in the living room, with Bakugou stuck in a little unicorn-kiddie pool, as they recounted their stories. The boys talked and talked, laughing about their near death and rescue 'til the wee hours of the morning.

   As he chuckled at Kaminari's ocean joke, Kirishima's eyes wandered to Bakugou, who appeared to have fallen asleep in his little pool. Kami had teased earlier that Bakugou fit perfect in the pool since they were both mythical creatures, but Kirishima felt pity for the Mer; he was much too big for the tiny pool. "What are we gonna do with him?" he whispered, catching Shinso's eye. The purplette hummed, working through his thoughts. "Well, short-term, the kiddie pool and the bathtub are our only options, obviously. And I guess long-term.." he paused, giving Kirishima a look he unfortunately understood. "I'm sorry Kiri, but you had the right idea before.. It's not that we don't want him here, and of course we want you guys to stay together, but..his home is the ocean..yeah?"

   Kirishima knew it would come to this, he just didn't want to face the facts. "Yeah, I know; but that's not how this will end- I will find a way to make this work."

   Shinso grinned encouragingly at his usually meek friend's determination. "I know you will."

_______________________________________________________________

"So, you understand that we have to do this, right? I know it didn't go well last time, but this is the best plan," Kirishima explained somberly, softly rubbing his thumb over the glimmering scales of Bakugou's knuckles. The Mer remained quiet, nuzzling his head into his mate's neck. "Don't worry Bakubro, I'll come see you every day; everything will be okay and I'll do everything I can to find a way to be together. No matter what it takes, I-" he trailed off as a cool finger pressed to his lips. His mate's eyes were misty but held a calm resolve. The blonde smiled sadly, pointing to his chest, then dabbing below his eye, 'I know.'

   Kirishima held his mate's hand to his heart, trying to hold his lover's spirit close so he wouldn't lose him. Bakugou trilled sweetly, making a y-like shape with his fingers, pushing them toward Kirishima with fervor. The redhead's heart swelled with pride, recognizing the symbol and treasuring it; 'I love you.'

"I love you too, always; Now, let's get you someplace a little more your size, buddy," he teases, laughing at the merman's enthusiastic chirps.

 

Chapter Text

   The day had come. Kaminari and Shinso came to help, getting Bakugou into the water and giving sweet, heartfelt goodbyes before leaving to give the two mates privacy. The moment was hard, of course, every goodbye is, but this time felt different; much more calm and a decision they both agreed upon. No villains, no one-sided surprise abandonment, just the two of them.

   Kirishima had sat at the shores edge for a while, Bakugou in his lap, as they tearfully sat, recounting their love for each other and promising he would figure this all out as soon as he could. Bakugou chirped soothingly, nuzzling into the redhead's chest, taking in every breath of his mate's scent while he still could. Soft, longing kisses left Kirishima weak, surging forward as if to chase his strength back. The Mer smiled, encouraging his mate's desperate crawl until they were out in open water. Bakugou held out his arms, a welcoming goodbye, and Kirishima flung himself against his lover with fervor. Bakugou brought them under, making sure to hold Kiri up with his tail to avoid fatigue. Bakugou hummed their special tune, carding his fingers through the crimson hair he loved so much. 'I will miss you, mate; so much. My thoughts will always be of you; I won't know what to do without you,' he said softly.

   Kirishima pulled back, seeing his Mer's eyes wet for more than one reason. A new wave of fear and anguish blossomed inside, and he wanted to panic. His mind wanted to fall back to his old habits, to let the pain crash over him, sending him down to depths he couldn't hope to surface from; but he couldn't do that- his mate's eyes were searching, pleading for a life-line, a strong hold: they were looking for a firm foundation, a rock.

   Squaring his shoulders in determination, Kirishima smiled as brightly as he could, mustering all his affection. "It will be okay, my love. I will be here every day at sundown to meet up with you. And during the day, I will do everything I can to get us back together- all the studying, research, word of mouth.. fuck, I'll look to legends if I have to! But I will find my way back to you, I promise," he gasped, flurries of bubbles accentuating his exasperated declaration. The Mer chuckled, pulling a slightly red-faced Kiri to his chest. 'I love it when you're flustered; it's cute.'

   Kirishima made to argue but lost track of his argument as the blonde moved in for a kiss. The two pressed into one another, holding each other as close as they could manage. The usual heat of their lips melding together felt white hot, like the flame of a forge. The need to be closer, to hold tighter was suffocating, impossible to ignore. "Bakugou," Kirishima moaned headily, twisting his fingers tightly in the bright shock of flaxen hair, "I love you- please don't forge that." 

   The Mer trilled emphatically, his massive tail coiling around his mate possessively. 'Come back, mate; Please come back to me.'

   The two caressed and held each other until the water around them slipped into a quiet, blackened eternity.

Chapter Text

   Bakugou had never felt so alone. He had sat at the water's edge after Kirishima had finally driven away, staring off after his lover in mourning. He knew he shouldn't still be at the surface- it was too dangerous. After all he had been through, he knew that, but he just couldn't move. Perhaps in some small portion of his mind, he believed that if he just stayed right there, his mate would come back and take him home. He wouldn't mind being in the little child's pool if it meant he could just stay with Kiri, right? He would never complain, not a single squeak of annoyance or bother, just let him stay with his mate.

   He wanted to believe that, but he knew Kirishima was right; they couldn't stay that way forever. And he couldn't sit here waiting forever either; he should try to find his home for now. He sank below the waves and for the first time in months, he followed the path he helped to create in his years with the palace guard toward his home. He let the current set his pace, the steady ebb and flow allowing him to take in scenery he remembered solely through habit. He felt like he had forgotten about the giant coral reefs, the sunken boat debris, the far-off shimmer of his village; it all felt like some strange dream; one he sadly realized he hadn't missed in the months of his absence.

   He felt odd, pausing for a moment near a familiar stone grotto; he remembered many boring lessons on Mer culture and the songs of the Merpeople here when he was just a boy. But something felt off, something suspicious; like he was being watched. His frills fluttered back and forth, trying to catch sounds that shouldn't be there. A quick, bated breath was giving off soft huffs from behind the stone formation, and he pounced before the culprit could catch him unaware. He collided with a hooded figure, sending the two tumbling over the facade and smacking to the sandy ocean floor. "Speak now or forever hold your peace, you cretin," Bakugou growled, fangs bared and quills at the ready. The figure chuckled, removing their oversized hood to reveal a shock of bubblegum pink hair and stinging barbs. "Is that any way to greet a friend, your majesty?"

___________________________________________________

"Mina? What are you doing tailing me?" Bakugou asked, carefully helping her back up, trying to avoid her poisonous barbs and stingers. The jellyfish hybrid looked absolutely baffled. "You're kidding, right? You're the heir to the thrown and my responsibility! Have you forgotten? You were gone for a while, but not that long!"

   Guilt flooded the blonde's senses. "..have you been here, looking for me, since they took me away..?"

   The girl nodded. "That's my job. Your parents never gave up looking for you, and neither did I. We were so scared of what the humans would do to you, but we held out hope that you would come back someday," she cooed sadly, digging the heel of her hand into her eyes to stop the rush of tears. "We were so scared you were a goner; what with what happened to poor Iida..and Ochaco.."

   Bakugou froze. He had had a sickening feeling in the pit of his gut since he first returned to the ocean, and hearing his best friend's name made him almost choke. He felt dizzy, like the roller coaster of emotions from that night all returned in violent technicolor urgency; It hurt to breath, let alone think. "Ochaco," he whispered weakly, his anguish a subtle quiver to his voice as his stomach threatened to erupt.

"I am..sorry, your majesty," Mina began quietly. "I know how hard that was for you-"

"How could you possibly understand how hard that was for me?!" the blonde roared in rage, getting up in the jelly's face. He could see his own bitter anger reflected in her calm tears. She gave him a gentle but distancing shove, her eyes holding their own loss-induced rage. "You weren't her only friend, ya know. She and I had been long-time friends before we found your village. She was important to me, so much more than I could ever describe... She was like my soulmate. That's why when I followed you that night, having heard she was in trouble, I watched in horror as they tried to take her away. I know you were afraid, and you thought you couldn't do much for her.. so I did it for you; I did it for her."

   For a moment, Bakugou sat puzzled, not understanding. He didn't remember seeing Mina that night...

   His eyes widened in painful realization, his eyes following the teardrop trickle down her rosy cheek. "T-the spear in her chest..?"

   The female nodded. "I couldn't sit there and watch her become their victim any further. I let her go out on her terms, the way she wanted," she declared, and then more quietly, "but I am still sorry. I do acknowledge that I was not the only on who loved her."

   For a moment, the two sat in silence. Mina waited patiently, understanding how hard this would be for him to take. The blonde looked up at her, the pain still there but slowly being masked by his general facade, and held out his hand. She took it, and he placed his other hand atop reverently. With a calming breath, he gave her hand a squeeze. "Thank you for telling me this, and for helping her when I could not; you are a true friend."

   Mina smirked, giving the hand beneath hers a playful squeeze in return. "I appreciate that, but it was my duty- a thanks is not necessary. But what is necessary is that we get you back home where you belong! You have been sorely missed!"

   As she began to drag him along, Bakugou looked back anxiously, hoping his home wasn't the only one missing him tonight.

Chapter Text

   As the two Mers reached the village gates, Bakugou couldn't shake the surreal feeling in his gut. He knew this place of course: he had been born here, went through countless years of training..his whole life had been here. He had never thought of any other place up until a few months ago, when he had felt that strange pull. Now that he was finally back, everything felt so..wrong. He felt foreign; he didn't belong here anymore.

   Distracted by his dissociative thoughts, he was unaware as every head in the village turned to him in recognition, disbelief, and hope. The shrill shriek and sudden tackle brought him back to reality. "Hey! What the fu-!" 

"Language! There are children present, your majesty," Mina stifled a giggle. 

   Bakugou shut his mouth quickly, realizing how many eyes were on him; all of them, all the eyes were on him. He shook his head, regrouping, before pulling the Mer from his chest like a leech. "Jirou- would you mind loosening your grip a bit? This is quite the display, and from what I can tell the whole damn-"

"Katsuki!"

"-village is out here," the blonde growled more softly, glaring at Mina from the corner of his eye. A few bystanders chuckled, used to the young heir's tongue as the blue sea slug hybrid pried herself from his firm chest.

"Gee, sorry to embarrass you, highness; not like I didn't think you were dead for the last few months! So sorry!" she growled, not moving any further than an inch or two away.

   Bakugou snarled back, his version of playful coming out more as a gremlin smile. "You really think those fuckers could kill me? C'mon now; It would take a leviathan to take me down, and probably not even then," he beamed with pride, while trying to discreetly wipe her toxic mucus off his skin.

"I expect nothing less of the rightful chief of our people," an authoritative voice sang out among the crowd. The sea of Mers parted to reveal a weathered-looking Iida approaching gracefully. The blue-fin tuna looked as though he had aged 50 years since their last meeting, and his pale under-belly looked like a broken picture frame: the massive incision scar adorning the full length of his upper body accompanied by a smattering of smaller wounds. He smiled genially, but not without effort.

"Iida!" Katsuki exclaimed. "I'm so glad you're okay! And...and I'm sorry you got mixed up in all this."

   Iida's smile warmed, reaching his tired eyes. "No apologies, your highness. I knew the risks of the job when joining the guard. All is well. I'm overjoyed to see you alive and well sir! The village has suffered terrible loss in your absence, but now we will celebrate!" he bellowed, looking to the crowds as he spoke, "For our beloved prince is home!"

   The Mers erupted in thunderous applause. Bakugou waved dutifully as Iida led him towards the royal estate. He had to yell somewhat to be heard over the volume of the crowd. "Iida! What do you mean, 'we suffered' while I was gone? What happened? Were we attacked or something?"

   Iida remained silent until they reached a beautiful coral reef garden right alongside his childhood home. "This is beautiful, Iida! I'll be mom loves this-when was it put in?"

   Iida gives in to his weariness, seeming a million miles away in his grief. "After her death."

Chapter Text

   Nothing. Empty nothingness- that's all Bakugou could feel, staring down at the vibrant purples, pinks and oranges of the coral arrangement. After Kirishima had left, he was sure his heart couldn't handle anymore grief, it's funny, the way the universe turns you into a liar.

   He has to force himself to focus on Iida again, listening to a story he never thought he would hear. The blue-fin recounted his parents' grief, having found out from the guards that he had been taken by the humans. His mother, whose strong independent nature rivaled his own, had set out with the palace guard to hunt the boat down. And while they were able to locate the boat, the young blonde Mer was long gone. She had to return home, sorrow-stricken and empty handed. 

   She continued to have the guard track and monitor the boat, but it never contained another Mer. It was a dead end. His father, more of the communication expert, met with allying Mer tribes, begging for the help in the search. It had taken a lot of convincing for some groups, but in the end, the tribes all agreed to help; it was to no avail.

"Your father's health began to fail quickly, and there was little we could do for him. Shortly after his passing, your mother all but gave up. She had resigned herself to her fate, telling me that she hoped I would rule for her; She said her heart just couldn't handle this much loss. She just wanted to be with you again."

   Bakugou couldn't look at Iida, too ashamed of all the pain he had caused. It wasn't his fault, it's not like he asked the humans to fuckin' take him.. he had been drawn to the surface, true, but out of a sense of loss for his friend. And that damn tug! No matter how much he wanted to ignore it, there was always this itch, this nagging tingle, just outside his reach that he had to chase after. Had he known what would happen to his family, could he have fought it..?

"When?" was all he could muster, staring down at his mother's flowers.

"Seven days ago, sir," Iida replied gently. "She just couldn't hold out any longer.

   Bakugou's mind shattered at the realization: if they hadn't been ambushed by the white-haired man at the beach, Bakugou might have been able to see his mother again, one last time.

__________________________________________________________________________________

   The two sat together, silent except for the choked off sobs the blonde let out. The blue-fin knew his prince well, thus only offering the comfort of sitting close by, waiting. Eventually, the tears dried and Bakugou rose slowly, heading for the door to his now empty home.

"Your majesty?" Iida called after him quickly, trying to catch him.

"Whatever it is Iida it can wait. I've been through hell, and I just want to rest."

"Of course, sir, but we must talk about your coronation, sir."

"My what? " Bakugou sighed, trying not to be too snappy with his aid.

"Your coronation, your highness!" Iida exclaimed excitedly. "I was only a stand-in, someone to keep everything in check after the loss of your parents, but you are back and here to stay! Our people will want you to reign, just as your parents did. Things will finally feel back in order!" he chuckled to himself, as if this were the easiest conclusion to reach.

   Bakugou sat torn in his old bedroom, battling a mental conflict he hadn't anticipated. On the one hand, he didn't want to disappoint his people; he was a prince, he had known what that meant since he was a little Mer... but on the other hand, he had found and bonded with his mate! He couldn't just abandon his mate, his alpha would never let that happen.

   The blonde curled in on himself, nestled in fluffy pillows that dampened the echoes of his cries. What would Kirishima do? he wondered, as the darkness surrounding his thoughts helped him slowly drift to sleep.

Chapter Text

"-ishima! Kirishima! Man, wake up!"

"Huh?!" Kirishima snapped to attention, having received a firm smack to the back of the head. "Uh, ow?"

"Not my fault you're sleeping at 2pm, my dude," Kaminari snarked, arms folded across his chest like a mother disciplining a child. "Did you go get groceries? You know it's your turn to make dinner tonight."

   The redhead cringed, knowing he'd been caught. "Ah, sorry man, I meant to! But then I thought I found a new lead! And I was looking into-"

"Yeah, yeah- I know what you were doing. Half of it is scrawled on the side of your face because you laid your tired cheek in the wet ink!"

   Kirishima's cheeks flared in embarrassment, quickly grabbing his phone to take a look at himself.

"Look man, I know you love him, and I'm happy for you. But you can't just spend all your time doing that! You have to help out around here too," Kaminari snapped, shaking his head in annoyance.

"I'm sorry. I really am. I'll do what I can when I can, but I can't just give up on this- he's my mate. How would you feel if someone separated you and Shinso?"

   Kaminari growled something under his breath, clearly ready to retaliate, when Shinso himself stepped in. "We would be devastated to be apart, just as we know you are. We just want you to take care of yourself too man, okay? We're worried about you."

   Kirishima contained an eyeroll at Kami's annoyance and instead gave Shinso a grateful nod.

"How about you rest tonight. We can get groceries tomorrow. Kami and I are actually going out on a date, so no need to worry about food for us. You just have a relaxing night in."

   The flurry of events was enough to make his head spin, so Kiri just nodded again as his friends left. He tried to watch tv, to just lounge around, but he couldn't. He scoured his notes again from last night before finding the name of the man he hoped could help.

__________________________________________

   Kirishima sat concealed by a large stone outcropping along the beach's shore, right where he had told Bakugou they would meet. Every little ripple in the water had him excitedly jumping up in greeting, only to not be his mate. He began to worry that he couldn't come before nightfall when a set of glowing red eyes appeared in the shallows. "Bakugou!" Kirishima cheered jovially, pulling the Mer in close. The blonde chirped and cooed nervously, rubbing his cheek against the redhead's cheek, neck and chest."Hey, hey buddy- are you okay? You seem upset."

   Bakugou seemed to hesitate, like he wanted to say something, but then shook it off. 'Missed you,' he signed quickly. He patted the redhead's forearms, and Kirishima beamed happily, letting himself sink below the waves.

   He was not expecting a visitor.

   Kirishima nearly choked on his own saved breath at the sight of the massive size of the blue-fin tuna hybrid. He was a few feet away for privacy reasons, but still close enough to jump in if needed.

"Don't worry, that's Iida, head of the royal guard; he just wants to make sure I'm safe."

   Kirishima nodded, trying to follow along when he damn near choked again. 'Are you royalty?!' he shouted in a flurry of bubbles. Bakugou chuckled, shaking his head at his lover. "Gods I've missed you. And that's what I needed to talk to you about.. when I was gone, my parents.." he paused, a weary sigh leaving his lips. "My parents passed." He took a few deep breaths, composing himself enough to continue. "S-so that means that I, being their only child, am now the chief of our tribe."

   Kirishima's eyes bugged out comically in astonishment. 'That's awesome! Right? Why does your face look like that's not good?'

   Bakugou's faced twisted in anguish and Kirishima's heart dropped into his stomach. He was confused, but he waited patiently for the Mer to continue."Don't you see? If I'm chief, I can't leave my people!"

   Kirishima felt himself pale at the realization. 'Y-you don't mean..?' he whimpered.

"We can't be together."

_________________________________________

"We can't be together."

   He watched his mate say those world-shattering words before falling in on himself, desperate for something to hold on to. Kirishima rushed over, and though Bakugou tried to push away at first, Kirishima finally calmed him enough to cradle him in a hug. He tried to hum their special note, but found it hard not to get choked up. 

   This couldn't really be the end, could it? After everything they had been through, this couldn't be happening.

   As Kirishima held his Mer tight, he couldn't shake the eyes of the other Mer. The blue-fin, Iida, kept a lazor-focus on him, never wavering. He tried not to fidget and squirm as the Mer drew closer. He held a large spear in one hand, and though they were close range, Kirishima didn't want to know what he could do with it. The Mer paused about a foot away, tapping the blonde's shoulder. "We must be going, your highness; it's not safe here."

   Bakugou sighed a growl, prying himself from Kirishima's chest with reluctant obedience. Kirishima grabbed his hand, pulling him back in close in desperate need. 'I can still come visit, right? 'Cuz I don't want to call it quits- we're mates, remember? I promise I will find a way to make this work, if it's the last thing I do.'

   Bakugou's eyes seemed to fall, but he nodded, giving Kirishima a quick goodbye kiss. "I hope you do, Red."

   And as the two Mers swam away, Kirishima pulled out the piece of paper he had written down earlier with a phone number and the single name of his hopeful savior: Izuku Midoriya.

Chapter Text

   A cool breeze burst through the now open window of the Midoriya household. The wind tousled the unruly green locks of the young man as he flipped a pancake on the stove, humming as he went. It was his first weekend off in two months, and he was overjoyed to finally spend time with his beloved husband.

   Whistling his way up the stair with cheer, he gently hip-checked the door open, and placed the plates piled high with food on the dresser. He knelt beside his husband, taking a moment to admire his restful features. His husband was one of the most graceful beings he had ever met; Even in sleep, he lay perfectly curled up on his side, hair aesthetically falling across his closed eye, and not a single snore leaving his lips.

   Midoriya made to lean in and plant a kiss on his brow when a polished, entirely awake voice chuckled, "How long do you mean to stare at me like that, love?"

   The greenette toppled onto his butt in surprise. "Ah! S-sorry Shoto-kun! I just can't help it sometimes... you're just too beautiful not to watch."

   His hetero-chromatic lover blushed fiercely, pulling the comforter up to cover his face. "You really know how to flatter a man, Izu."

   Now it was his turn to blush. "W-well, I was just trying to be honest! I mean, I do enjoy flattering you too! I mean, it would be hard not to want to flatter you, what, with your shining eyes, and your stunning smile and-"

"Okay honey- thanks. How about we just try to eat now. Thank you, for everything," Shoto smirked, kissing the tip of his husband's nose before he could pull away. Izuku smiled back excitedly, jumping up to grab their food. "I made your favorite! Butterscotch banana pancakes!"

   His husband placed another peck to his green haired lover's cheek before digging in. He moaned appreciatively, taking the time to revel in the flavor before smiling at Izuku. "They're the best, like always. Itadakimasu."

"Itadakimasu!" Izuku cheered, his first bite almost to his lips when a frantic pounding resonated through the house.

"Someone at the door?" Shoto asked once his mouth was empty. "Were you expecting someone?"

   Izuku sat his plate down, disappointed he would have to wait. "Don't think so.. I'll go check it out." He smiled, patting his husband's arm. " I got it- you eat."

   The pounding from the genkan was fiercely urgent, and shouting could be heard from the other side. Nervously, he opened the door just a crack. An exasperated young man stood panting on his porch. The man had a kind smile full of sharp teeth and hair the color of a Valentine's day box of chocolates. Izuku opened the door a bit wider, intrigued. "Uh, hello? May I help you?"

   The man perked instantly. "Yeah! Are you Izuku Midoriya?"

   A bit puzzled, Midoriya nodded. The redhead cheered, fist pumping the air before grabbing for the other man's hand. "Oh, thank All Might!! I'm so glad I found you! You're an oceanographer, right?"

   The more the redhead talked the more befuddled the greenette became. "Um, yes- yes I am..but how do you know that? Do I know you?"

   The other man shook his head. "It's a long story, but I desperately need your help." He leaned in closer, acting as if he were going to spill a juicy secret. "What can you tell me about the magic of Mers?"

_________________________________________

   It's probably for the best that Midoriya hadn't been holding his plate still; that one sentence would have seen his china-wear shattered and his food splattered across his doormat. He tried not to appear too floored by the man's inquiry, but his body language betrayed him; his eyes were the size of saucers, his face whiter than a sheet, and for the first time in a long time, he was speechless. He must have looked like a ghost- the other man seemed very concerned. "Hey man, are you okay? Do you need to sit down or something?"

   All he could manage was a strange series of squeaks, like a field mouse. "Here- let me help you sit down, okay?" the redhead offered, slipping his arm around Midoriya to help him walk easier. After helping him to the dining room chair, the redhead took the seat opposite him, and spoke in a soft, calming tone. "I'm really sorry if I upset you with my question; I had no idea it would garner such a reaction."

   At the blank stare from the other man, he pushed forward. "Sorry, I should explain myself. My name is Eijirou Kirishima, and, well to make a long story short, my mate is a Merman. I know, that's probably a lot to take in," he summed, seeing the other man grow impossibly more pale, "but it's the truth! And since the aquarium can't house him anymore, I had to take him back to the ocean.. but I-I don't want to lose him.. I don't k-know what else to do.. please, do you know anything that can help us?" Kirishima whispered wetly, his tears dropping soundlessly to the hard maple-table top.

   At the sounds of sniffles and whimpers, Midoriya snapped out of his nervous stupor, taking pity on the other. "I'm sorry to hear about your struggle, Kirishima-san. I'm not sure that, as an oceanographer, I can be of much help to you."

   Kirishima's eyes fell, filling with fresh tears before Midoriya could finish. "But!" he exclaimed, scaring the poor man. "I do know what you need to do."

   Kirishima practically dove across the table, grabbing the man's hand with bated breath. "You do!? Oh my gosh, thank you, thank you!! I'll do anything to get him back, just tell me what to do!"

   Midoriya smiled timidly at the man's enthusiasm, trying to still be the voice of reason. "I wouldn't thank me just yet, Kirishima; the road ahead has obstacles that may make you question your choice."

   The redhead squared his shoulders, giving the other a confident nod. "Whatever it takes."

   Midoriya nodded sternly. "Alright, well first, you're going to need another Mer, as humans cannot replicate Mer magic- we don't possess that capability," he rattled off, with Kirishima trying to pay close attention. "And it's not just any Mer you need; you need an omega Mer who is descended from an Elemental Mer; ya know, fire, water, earth, and wind. They are the only known Mers to possess Magic, which means, they are few and far between."

   Kirishima tried to interject, but Midoriya continued without notice. "Then, the Elemental descendant must perform a special magical spell, one that will turn your mate into a human. But! You must make sure that this is absolutely what you both want- once the spell is complete, it is permanent."

   He paused, looking to find the man across the table crestfallen. He waited, giving Kirishima time to gather his thoughts. "So basically, if I can't find this super rare Mer, there's nothing that can be done? I lose my mate, just like that?" he cried, openly weeping as he lay his head on the solid wood. "It's over, then? Nothing more I can do? How did it come to this... I finally find the love of my life, rescue him from poachers and the black market, fly hours to bring him home safe, all just to lose him again?" he sobbed, smacking his fist against the table, shaking it loudly. He felt the other man gently patting his fist, awkwardly trying to comfort, but Kirishima hardly felt it. All he felt was pain, loss and disappointment. "How would I even find one of these 'Elemental' Mers anyway?"

   Kirishima's head snapped to attention when a new voice spoke up. "I can help you with that."

Chapter Text

   The silent and soft demeanor of the new inhabitant startled Kirishima a little, but it flat out frightened his companion; Midoriya leapt into the air with a yip, almost catching his head on the dining room lighting.

"All Might's sakes, Shoto-kun! You nearly gave me a heart attack!"

   The taller man smiled sweetly, resting his hands on his husband's jittery shoulders. "Sorry Izu, I didn't mean to eavesdrop. When you didn't come back upstairs, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay," he said, eyes traveling over to their anxious guest. "It sounds as though you have a rather unique problem, friend. If you are willing to share your story with me, I will offer you my story in return."

   Kirishima cocked a brow at Midoriya, confused by how that could help, but at Midoriya's determined nod, he obliged, recounting his last few months once again. The somber listener would nod here and there, seeming intrigued but otherwise quiet. After the recount had finished, he nodded a final time. He looked to his husband, as if asking something without needing words. The greenette smiled, reaching for his husband's hand to squeeze. Kirishima tried to wait patiently, his nerves threatening to ruin the loving looks between the two. "I'm sorry- does that mean you'll help me somehow? Or what does all this mean?"

   The man with the bi-colored hair chuckled in a friendly manner. "No worries, my friend. I have a story that I think you'll really want to hear. It's the story of an Elemental Mer, and his fight for his mate."

   Kirishima's eyes bulged in surprise, his ass at the very edge of his chair. He opened his mouth to ask, but Shoto held up a hand. "Allow me to tell you- trust me, you'll find your answers."

________________________________________

"There are few tribes left of Elemental Mers, as their elders believed in only 'pure blood lines'- meaning they should only mate with other Elementals. The elders weren't even pleased when different elements combined to create subspecies, but they had to compromise somewhere. So they weren't impressed when a pod of Fire Elementals mated with a subspecies of water Elemental; a few of the offspring remained Fire, a few became Wind, Water and Ice, but one- one child was truly scorned, for he became Fire and Ice. The elders considered him unpure, a true abomination, and immediately demanded his expulsion from the herd. The sire of the family agreed, not wanting to ruin his standing in the herd. But the dame could not abandon her youngest child. Even though it was only half, he was the only child who had received both her magic and her mate's. In her eyes, he was truly incredible, and she wanted to give him just as much chance at life as any of his siblings. So as the elders held council to rid the herd of this smear on their record, she set off to find an old friend to save her child.

   The heavens smiled upon her bravery, and her friend was willing to take her child and care for him just like her own child. But the dame dismissed the idea of normalcy, begging her friend to hide her child away, so he would not be discovered and punished, or worse. The friend reluctantly agreed, hiding the child from all for his own safety."

   The redhead's eyes felt misty with unshed tears, his heart going out to the Mer in the story. She only meant to save her son, but surely the poor boy would not do well being isolated. He hoped he would be okay.

"The friend kept her promise, never telling a soul about the young boy... but that doesn't mean he was alone. The friend, already a mother, made sure to visit the boy often, giving him love and affection; she believed that just because he was in hiding did not mean he should be neglected. She made sure to teach him, care for him and bring h8im up to be a fine young man.

   When he came of age to look for a mate, he became antsy and restless. He felt shame for wanting to leave the only home he'd ever known, but he could feel this burning, this tug at his heart trying to pull him out to sea. So with a heavy heart, he begged his caretaker to let him go.

   He was shocked to see her sweet smile beam at him with pride, her arms open wide. He swam to her gratefully, so thankful for her kindness and understanding. And with her help, he stole away in the dead of night, not knowing where he would go or what lie ahead, but ready to face it head on."

"Shortly there after, he finally found the reason for the ache in his heart: his mate. He was stunned to find that his true love wasn't a Mer or even a fish, but a man. Out of fear, he first tried to forget about the man, trying to convince himself that that couldn't possibly be right. But after a week, he could deny it no longer; the time separated had ailed him, his scales chipped and flaked off, his skin turned a dull yellowish green, and his breathing was ragged and worn. He had tried to swim back to shore, just for a glimpse, but blacked out before he could make it."

   Kirishima held his breath, scared for the young Mer, desperate for a happy ending. Across the table, Midoriya sat solemnly, his face pale, his eyes sad.

"Luck smiled upon the young Mer once more, for when he awoke, it was to the gentle touch and soothing care of his mate. The young man had been visiting the sea shore, mourning the death of a lost love, when the Mer washed ashore, inches from death. The man studied sea creatures and was able to tend to the Mer easily; within a few hours, the Mer was well enough to communicate with the man, explaining why he was there. Reluctant at first, (since he had just lost his love), the man agreed to be his mate, but there was just one problem: How could he be the Mer's mate without being together? Obviously being apart wasn't good, it made the Mer sick.. so what could they do?

   The Mer thought back to his surrogate mother, and all the lessons she had taught him about his heritage. He was rare, a very special kind of Mer, one that had immense power. He recounted this knowledge to his mate, and they agreed it was worth a try. The Mer understood that by using such a powerful spell, he could never reverse it, but he didn't care. He knew he had to be with his mate, no matter what. So with his final resolve, he was able to summon the magic to be with his mate..by becoming human."

   Kirishima gasped, honestly shocked. He didn't know what he had expected, but the Mer's commitment to his lover was so bold, so pure- it struck him as the truest form of love.

   Shoto turned and smiled at his dewy eyed husband, pulling him into his arms in a tender embrace. "And we lived happily ever after, right Izu?" he whispered with a forehead kiss. Kirishima's eyes widened, disbelief oozing from every pore on his body. How could he have known they were talking of their own story?

"Right, Shoto- kun," Midoriya tearfully replied, snuggling into his lover's once scaled arms. "Now, let's get you your happily ever after too, Kirishima-kun."

 

Chapter Text

   The walk home felt like a journey that would never end; with every thought in his mind, it seemed another mile was added. He had answers now, but would this special Mer be able to fix his problem? Could he and Bakugou really be together?

   Lost in thought, he only half processed the high pitched squeals and clapping coming from the corner of the room. Giving it a second glance, he realized, his roommates were face-timing someone, the two seeming happy, but tired at this point in the conversation. Shinso nodded for Kirishima to wait with them before thanking the family member again, ending the call in his awkward way. He waited patiently as the two seemed to melt into the couch with heavy sighs, like they had been through a mental trauma. Shinso smiled at Kirishima as Denki laid his head on his shoulder, opting out of this conversation. "Might as well jump right to it then-" he said, lifting their left hands up together, showing off a modest, matching set of silver rings.

   A pang of jealousy swept over the redhead before he could swallow it down. It must be nice to not have to fight so hard to be with the one you love, he thought begrudgingly. But he smirked brightly, hugging his two best friends close and congratulating them like he ought to. He knew if the roles were reversed, they would do the same for him.

   After some celebratory drinks and small talk, Kirishima and Shinso sat quietly together, soaking up the now calm atmosphere. Kirishima pondered over everything that had happened today, once again stuck down the rabbit hole of his problems until his train of thought was interrupted by Denki's loud snore; The snore seemed to rattle a memory loose for Shinso as well. "Ah, that does remind me; We were on the phone with family just a few towns over because..well.."

"Yeah?" Kirishima asked, puzzled by the sudden hesitance.

"Well," Shinso continued, "because we will be moving after we marry."

__________________________________________________

   The waves silently rolled in toward the shore, the ocean's spray landing on tan arms in tiny droplets. Kirishima had arrived to their special meeting spot early today, hoping to sort out his now seemingly complicated life. Soon, he would be without roommates to help pay bills, a job to pay for said bills, and be without his mate, unless he came up with a plan..

   He sighed, defeated, and tried to skip a smooth stone across the surface of the water; but a hand reached out from below, gingerly catching it on the second skip. Kirishima leapt up excitedly, expecting his mate to do the same, but he did not. Bakugou remained mostly submerged; only his eyes were visible. He motioned adamantly for Kirishima to join him in the water, and the redhead followed without complaint, concerned. Once under the waves, Kirishima almost cried out in horror- Bakugou looked awful. The blonde appeared like he had aged 30 years in such a short time; His pale skin rivaled that of the sea weed surrounding them, looking a sickly moss green, and his limbs held a constant subtle shake to them, as if he were battling the cold. His beautiful, shimmery scales were dull and faded, a few of them even fluttered off his once powerful tail as it jerked back and forth, trying to keep him afloat.

'Bakugou! My God, are you okay?!'

   A shiver ran down the length of the fragile alpha's spine, agitating his large dorsal fin as he weakly nodded, trying to stay upright with much effort. "Just hard to be away from you, my love."

   Kirishima's heart raced and his cheeks threatened to burn bright, but he pulled his mate in close to his chest, kissing the Mer's soft spikes. 'I'm so sorry Bakugou- I'm here now; I'm here.'

   The alpha gave an audible gasp of relief, his body collapsing heartily into his mate in exhaustion, as if the very act of existing was simply too much. The redhead smiled, humming their special tune as they floated there, undisturbed by their problems or the world. Everything seemed perfect in life, as long as Bakugou was there, Kirishima thought to himself, and he felt the blush finally creep up on his neck and cheeks as the subject of his affections nuzzled tenderly in his neck, purring in a deep, resonating hum.

   After a while, the blonde's breathing became less labored, and he pulled back to look at his mate. Kirishima looked down at him, bashful, but he didn't dare look away. The blonde looked down to where the redhead had his lip trapped between his sharp teeth, cocking his brow with a sly grin. "We have to find a way to make this work out," he said, closing in, inching closer and closer, "because I can't live without you, Kirishima."

'Me either, Bakugou,' Kirishima gasped, leaning in for a much needed kiss...

"I can help with that."

Chapter Text

"Aahh!!" a mixture of hollers and bubbles erupt and the two whipped around, embarrassed and shocked to find the perfectly parted, two- toned hair of Shoto, his upper body hanging over the side of a boat above them. He smirked at their surprise, giving them a moment to catch their breaths. Kirishima noticed Bakugou's calculating look, and held up a hand in a placating gesture. But to his surprise, his mate beat him to an introduction.

"Todoroki."

   Baffled, Kirishima looked between the two. 'Do you know each other?'

   The other man simply smiled fondly, as if lost in thought, as he gave a gentle inclination. "Nice to finally see you, young prince."

   The redhead looked between the two once more, feeling more perplexed by the second. 'Can someone explain what is going on here?'

"One second- Midoriya figured there would be lots of questions, so he brought masks for you both so you'll have enough air."

'Don't you need air?' Kirishima queried, as the other helped his husband gently out of the boat and into the cool waters. 

"Strangely enough, no; Seems like I was able to retain some of my Mer traits. Comes in pretty handy, I must admit," he explained, handing the redhead his own mask to surface and put on.

   When he returned, he realized the other three hadn't moved, and had stayed silent. Even more odd was Midoriya appeared like he was trying to hide behind his husband, almost like he was afraid of Bakugou. Kirishima let out a tense sigh; he would have to mediate for a while. 'Okay, let me try to sort my thoughts- Shoto, you used to be a Mer, but you were basically in hiding until you became human.. so how do you know him, Bakugou?'

   The blonde nodded over toward the newcomers, as if to say, 'your story, you till it.' Shoto nodded.

"Do you remember me telling you of the friend of my mother's who took me in and cared for me all those years?"

   He blinked, brows furrowed, trying to think why that information would help here...when understanding hit him. He was surprised he could still be more surprised tonight as he looked back to the knowing look on his mate's face. "We were never able to meet face to face for safety reasons, but I knew he was there, and my mother encouraged me to write notes and stories for my 'fishy pen-pal, Shoto-kun,'" Bakugou chuckled.

   The greenette let out a sad whimpering sound, and both Kirishima and Bakugou jumped, having somewhat forgotten he was there. As Todoroki whispered reassurances and comfort to his husband, Kirishima once again noticed his mate's expression harden. 'What is it, Bakubro? Is there something bothering you about Midoriya?'

   At the mention of the name, Bakugou's eyes blazed, his body stiff as a board. "Midoriya? I knew it! I knew you seemed familiar!" he bellowed, surging toward the smaller man in determined fashion. Kirishima yelped in shock, waves buffeting him backward. Shoto instinctively moved to protect his spouse, baring fangs that were not quite human.

   Bakugou stopped short, trying to remain calm, even as his voice quaked. "It was you, wasn't it? You were her mate?" The words caught in his throat, like the life was choked out of them. "You were the one she was trying to see that night?"

   Midoriya's eyes welled with tears, pain and fear written all over his features, the guilt seemed almost palpable. 'I'm so sorry! I-I never meant for this to happen! I loved her! You have to know that!' he sobbed brokenly, clinging to Shoto's shoulder like a life-line.

   Kirishima stayed close by, nervous for Bakugou's eventual reaction. The blonde looked between the two huddled together before speaking again. "And I take it the two of you are mated now?"

   Shoto pulled Midoriya into his chest, a proud smile adorning his features as he gazed upon his husband, like they were the only two around. "Yes; Becoming a human to be with him was the best thing I have ever done."

   Kirishima smiled, his heart feeling warm and fuzzy from the tenderness between his two new friends, but he didn't miss the hurt that crossed his mate's face for a split second before moving toward the couple with an amicable smile. "Congratulations brother; I do not know your mate, but Ochako loved him and my mother believed in you, so as current chief of our tribe, your mating bond has my blessing," he recited, placing strong hands on the joined hands of the couple. "May you have a long and happy life together," he said, before backing away, head lowered and tone somber.

 'Bakugou, wait!' Kirishima cried quickly, trying to salvage the moment's magic. Fear gripped his gut as his mate gave a weary sigh, but his small ember of hope grew as the blonde looked over his shoulder in question. Getting the nod of approval from the Midoriya's, Kirishima pulled Bakugou around, taking deliberate care to hold both of his hands firmly. 'You have been through so much lately, my love, and you have given so much,' he said softly, rubbing gentle circles into the tops of his hands. 'I know you must be tired, but if it's alright, I have one more very important thing I must ask of you.'

Chapter Text

   Bakugou eyed his mate with a mixture of longing and misguided heartache. "I'm sorry Kirishima, but if it's all the same to you, I think I should just head back to the village now; This has been a long day, and I just don't have the strength to take care of much else now," he concluded, turning back to leave in his cloud of pity bubbles. But Kirishima was not having it. He swam as quick as he could, right in front of the beautiful black and orange Mer and stopped him. Bakugou raised a brow, a snarl growing in his maw in warning, trying to swim past when Kirishima blocked him again, arms flung out wide in desperation. Full on growling now, Bakugou snapped his jaws, fangs glinting and eyes narrowed venomously. "I don't want to hurt you, Kirishima- we can talk another time; Just let me pass."

'No; Not until you hear me out.'

"I'm not doing this right now, okay?! I'm -I'm not.."

'Bakugou- Can I be your mate?'

   The Mer stopped and stared, caught off guard by the smiling redhead. "Huh?"

'Can I be your mate, my love?' Kirishima reiterated, drawing near to hold both of Bakugou's hands again. 'You see, that's the reason we all came here today. I know that you can't leave your people, and I would never ask you to! But I couldn't just give up on us either!' Kirishima cried, holding their clasped hands to his heart, afraid to let go, and Bakugou felt a twinge of guilt for causing his mate so much distress. 'So I looked and looked, I did as much research as I could until I came across Midoriya! He's a local marine biologist who happens to study Mer lore too. That's when I met his husband, who turned out to be your brother, I guess!' he chuckled. Bakugou looked quizzically at the Midoriya's, who waved awkwardly, before turning his attention back to Kirishima.

"And this has to do with being my mate, how? Besides, I thought you already agreed I was your mate? Why are you asking now?" the blonde asked sadly, looking as if he'd just been rejected. Kirishima cupped his lover's cheeks in his hands tenderly, holding his attention. 'Because I refused to give you up. Todoroki here is a special Mer, an Elemental, and he can use a special kind of magic; a magic that can change a Mer into a human in his case,' he nodded, and Todoroki smiled, swimming over in greeting. Kirishima returned his smile before turning back to his partner. 'So, if you will have me, Bakugou, I will change for you, so we can finally be together.'

   Bakugou gasped in shock, eyes fearful. "I could never ask you to do that for me!"

   Kirishima's heart fluttered with unspoken affection, knowing without a doubt that he'd made the right choice. He leaned in, pressing a searing kiss to the blonde's surprised lips. The tiny gasp was swallowed up and lost as the redhead used it as an opening to show his mate just how much he cared. Breaking away, he nuzzled his nose against Bakugou's affectionately. 'You don't have to ask me. I love you, Bakugou, and if this is what it takes to be together, then i can do it. Go ahead, Shouto,' the redhead shouted, swimming out a ways to give the spell room to work and watched in awe as a silvery-blue aura glittered around the Elemental; the ocean itself seemed to flow around him, and though the water crashed and tumbled about, all Kirishima could hear was white noise as the glittery haze seemed to crumble down around him, and his vision faded to black.

___________________________________________________

   There was nothing to see. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't seem to open his eyes. Maybe he was dreaming..maybe he still needed sleep. Maybe. But something didn't seem right. There was a strange sound- a muffled roaring sound, crashing about, but there was something more.. screaming, shouting? and crying..

"shima! Kirishima! God damn it, say something baby! Open your eyes, please!"

"Wah? Wah happened?" he asked groggily, trying to sit upright, but he realized that he couldn't quite seem to sit, no matter what he tried. Why was his ass not sitting? He took a look around.

   Ah. They were still under water. No worries then.

   Until he realizedd his mask was missing.

"Ah shit! My mask! My mask! Have you seen my mask anywhere, Bakugou?"

   He looked up to find the blonde Mer ogling him in a strange manner, a fresh dusting of pink growing from his cheeks and spreading down his chest. "You don't need the mask anymore- just breath- genius," the blonde said tentatively, speaking shakily from behind his hand. 

   Half a second more than it should have passed before Kirishima realized why he didn't need the mask, and after taking a gulp of water just to be sure, he followed the blonde's gaze to see what was so interesting.

"You look good baby," Bakugou hummed lowly, swimming over to gently run a hand over the new black and crimson scales of Kirishima's tanned forearms, "real good."

   Kirishima gulped anxiously. "Y-ya think so?" he asked, looking over the rest of his new features. He must have been built more for power, as he seemed to have taken on the characteristics of a shark, with a large dorsal fin, pectoral fins and lengthy caudal fin, all in gradients of reds, grays and blacks. He was impressed; He really liked the way he looked as a Mer.

   A low rumbling sound shook him to his core, and all of his senses flipped to high alert. All he could focus on was the source of the sound; Whatever it was seemed to be emitting a delicious aroma too..

   His nose led him straight to his lover, who was purring and smiling like a proud kitten. The pheromones he was emitting were a delicate balance of sweet cinnamon and caramelized sugar; it was enough to drive Kirishima mad. "Is this what you've been experiencing whenever you're around me as a Mer? How have you not jumped me yet?!" he groaned, encircling his mate in his arms and rubbing his own scent on the blonde. The blonde purred smugly, taking a in the scent of his mate greedily. "It hasn't been easy, love; you smell of fresh autumn rain and pine- it clouds my thoughts and my brain shuts down," he cooed, rubbing soothing circles into his mate's wrist glands, releasing more of the piney aroma.

   Kirishima began to nibble softly on Bakugou's jaw when they heard a subtle throat clearing, reminding the two that they were not yet alone. The redhead snarled, groaning and whimpering as his mate pulled away. "I can barely keep my hands off you, babe!" he whined, visibly struggling now to keep his arms crossed so as not to touch anymore. Bakugou laughed. "Patience, my love. While he isn't my blood brother, I would still like Shouto's blessing for us. ANd to thank him, for finally letting us be together."

   Kirishima smiled, and the two went hand in hand to thank the Midoriya's. Izuku cried, overwhelmed with joy for the happy couple. Shouto smiled after his husband's antics, turning back to Kirishima with a serious matter. "I hope this truly is what you wanted, my friend. Remember, it cannot be reversed."

   Kirishima turned to Bakugou's scared expression and pulled him in close enough to nuzzle their noses. "I've never been more sure that you're everything I've ever wanted, Bakugou; This I swear."

"Please, call me Katsuki, mate. I will love and protect you, shelter and provide for you and I will never take you for granted, so long as I live, this is my promise," the blonde Mer recited, eyes misty with tears of pride.

   Kirishima burned beet red, nodding quickly as Shouto blessed their mating bond. "Then I will love and honor you, humor and defend you, fight for and with you and treasure you, every day for as long as I live, my darling," Kirishima stated, pulling his mate back in for another kiss. The two smiled, happy tears and giggles making a sappy kiss into a sloppy one, but they didn't mind- "We finally made it, Katsuki; We're finally together."

   Bakugou kissed his mate lovingly, and with a proud smile, he began to hum their tune, to which his mate joined in, and he signed one final message, just for old time's sake:

'I love you.'

 

Chapter Text

"Eiji, sweetheart, could you help me with these?" the blonde Mer cooed softly, popping his head into their bedroom for his mate. He couldn't help but stare fondly at this mate, who had been sitting by the window, letting the gentle current rustle his now shoulder length hair to and fro.

   Kirishima jumped in a flurry of bubbles and tiny fish, almost catching his head on a hanging planter. "Whoo- Yes! Coming love!" he chuckled, drifting over to help. He took the sets of pearls, gold and shells from the blonde, adorning his chest, neck and head and wrists with riches. When he was finished, Bakugou made a nervous face, looking at his reflection awkwardly. "Well, how do I look?"

   Kirishima placed an additional chain or two on the massive orange tail of the Mer before wrapping his arms snugly around his husband's waist, giving his neck a sensitive kiss as he found his gaze in the mirror. "You look perfect, darling; the jewels are befitting a King," he kissed his cheek sweetly, "Now come on, we have to get to the ceremony!"

   Bakugou snickered to himself but nodded, clasping his husband's beautiful hand, with it's sparkling garnet wedding ring. He gave a heartwarming squeeze, and the two swam for shore.

__________________________________________

"Thank you friends for joining us here today for the union of Hitoshi Shinso and Denki Kaminari. I had the pleasure of meeting these two fine gentlemen through their Best Men, Bakugou and Kirishima- one used to be my mentee, and one used to be under my care. Through all the turmoil and strife, love blossomed for more than one couple, and I'm proud to have been a witness to such strong bonds," Aizawa grinned, looking between the human and Mer couples.

   Bakugou looked longingly into Kirishima's eyes, humming their tune softly together. Kirishima's eyes grew misty, listening to his best friend's words of love as he caressed the cheek of his loved one- his heart felt whole. "I love you Katsuki," the redhead whispered as the two grooms exchanged rings. And after the two had their big moment, Bakugou swept his husband up in his arms, whispering against his lips," I love you too, Eijirou Bakugou."

__________________________________________

   The small reception of friends resembled a quaint backyard barbecue; the grooms in their swim trunks out in the open waves with the Mers. 

   Among the few guests were Taishiro and his Mers, having recently purchased the old aquarium with Aizawa's help, the aquatic rescuer decided to move his operation closer, so Miruko and her calves could be a part of a pod. Mira and Akio had leapt straight off the transport truck and into Bakugou's waiting arms, the calves chirping excitedly and the blonde ruffling their hair, trying to hide proud tears.

   Sero and the Midoriya's also attended the party- Shinso actually had met Shouto a handful of times at work and the two had a similar sense of humor. Only people who would protect the Mer's secret were allowed on the beach, and Aizawa even made sure to hire extra security to protect the Mers in the bay going forward. With this promise, it was time to say goodbye. 'Thank you for everything you did for us, Aizawa- sensei- on land and sea,' Kirishima chirped in his new tongue after coaxing his mentor under the waves.

   The older man smiled, making an open- handed gesture from his chest, then laying one palm flat with the other hand making a thumbs- up motion; 'My pleasure.'

   As they rose to the surface, the shark Mer was attacked on both sides, sending him careening back into the water. Using his powerful new tail, he righted himself and his two goofy assailants. "He made me do it," Shinso smirked, shaking water out of his unruly lion's mane.

"Damn straight I did! Kiri! What are we gonna do without you!? You can't leave! Can you still visit us??"

   Kirishima chirped in laughter, stunning all in attendance with its' unique lyrical tone. The redhead nodded and spread his arms wide, inviting the two in for a bear hug. The three held each other close, with many whispered prayers for the future, invitations for visits and lots of sentiments of brotherly love. Kirishima pulled his husband in too, not wanting him to feel left out; To his surprise, Bakugou willingly pulled the other boys in tight, chirping enthusiastically, causing both Kami and Shinso to tear up. Before long, the children swam over with their mother to join the cuddle, Sero jumped in saying something about 'a dog pile!' and before they knew it, the whole party was crouched around the new Mer.

   And as Kirishima looked around at all of the smiling faces of all the people he loved most, his heart ached- not in a painful way, but with an over abundance of gratitude. He had lost his parents at such a young age, struggled through his childhood because of his horrible foster parents, and even struggled up until very recently! But all of his struggles had helped him meet some incredible people, and he wouldn't change anything about that. So as he looked around at the family he had created, his eyes landed lastly on his adoring husband, who was watching him fondly. Kirishima parted the sea of friends, reaching out for his husband to pull him into his side. The blonde snuggled in, purring and nuzzling him softly. He nuzzled back, kissing soft blonde spikes and scenting his mate to help comfort him. "You sure you're not going to miss them? You had to give up all of that for me.." Bakugou asked quietly.

   Kirishima tilted the alpha's chin up until their eyes met. "I may miss them, but we can always see them again; but I didn't lose anything to be with you my love. You are my family now, and I want to be wherever you are. You will always be the best decision I have ever made," he trilled, kissing his mate reassuringly. "This I promise you."