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The Beauty of a Beast

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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a selfish lord. The lord cared little for those in his lands. He ordered his men to fight off bandits and invaders for his own profit and gain, not to help protect the people directly threatened. His taxes were high and he showed no understanding of the people’s plights. The lord had a son who took after his kind, late wife. The boy was a gentle soul and went out of his way to help the people his father neglected. With extra coins in his pocket and strong hands to assist, the son did everything he could from buying a child a loaf of bread to helping with repairs after attacks. While tales of the lord’s cruelty traveled across the land, only the people of the village knew of the son’s kindness.

Late one night, as rain cascaded from the heavens and wind howled outside the windows, the son heard a knock too human to be branches hitting against the manor. He crept out of bed and opened the door to find nature buffeting against an old, haggard woman. The son was quick to usher her inside, not one to consider any other option. He offered her a hot meal and a fireplace to dry herself, but warned she could not stay long. The lord appeared at the stairs, angered at the sight of a drenched hag in his front hall.

“Cast her out!” He yelled descending into the foyer. “I will not have filth in this household!”

The woman smiled, almost cruelly. “I have heard tales of your frozen heart, my lord,” she said. “I hoped you could at least spare pity for a wet old woman.” A bright light cast across the room, and where the old woman once stood was a beautiful witch.

The lord trembled in fear. Witches in disguise never bode well to those that mistreated them. He collapsed to his knees and begged the beauty for forgiveness, but the witch had heard enough.

“Your cruel, selfish ways will be hard to unlearn. Only by suffering in the way of those that own nothing can you start to learn to care for other humans. I banish you to harsh lands, far from here! Until you learn humility and empathy, you will be bound to those lands, unable to return to your home!”

She waved her hand and prepared the magic. The lord looked to her, defeated and accepting of his fate.

“What of my son?” He asked, genuine love shined in his eyes as he turned to his son, who was frozen in shock.

“He will remain, not as he is now, and will be unable to leave till you learn,” the witch said before sending the man away with her magic. The son broke out of his stupor with a roar. He charged the witch, ready to fight.

“Give him back! Bring him back! You can’t do that to my dad!”

A wave of her hand and she had the son restrained in the air. She observed the boy; he had shown her kindness, but what was truly in his heart with a father so selfish? The son struggled and spat at her, eyes alight with anger. The anger of a terrified animal.

“Your father will pay for his behavior. As you will yours.” Magic surrounded the boy, changing him as she spoke. “You will remain here in this manor and protect the people of this land in your father’s stead. You will collect neither tax nor tribute from them in exchange for your protection. Bandits and invaders will stray clear of these lands, for a mighty monster has killed the lord and claimed this land as its territory.”

Crimson scales traveled across the boy’s skin. His nails grew long and pointed into talons. Pitch black horns grew from his scalp, black scales traveled down his face. His sharp teeth grew larger, his canines extended into fangs. He looked up to the witch with despair in his ruby eyes.

“You will remain the fearsome protector of the people until your father has found remorse… Or. Until you find true love.”

The witch felt a pang of pity for the boy. But fate would play its course.

“I wonder, who could love a beast?”

“Fucking shit!”

Bakugou shook the horse-crap from his boot and scowled at the offending animals in the distance. Fuck provincial towns. Why was it that anything with strength notable as of late had to be in the middle of fucksville nowhere? It made finding things to fight so aggravating, but it was worth it when they lived up to rumor. And was he ever excited for this rumor. A scaled monster with sharp fangs and horns killed the lord of the land and had taken the manor as its territory several years ago. It never terrorized the villagers, but any bandits or soldiers hoping to cross into the beast’s borders were swiftly defeated.

Now, any sane traveler hoping to fight a rumored fearsome beast would, perhaps, stop in the town to try to learn something about it. Maybe further investigate why the people living in its land were safe from its terror. Maybe discover some insider information the rumors lacked. But Bakugou was neither sane nor about to ask help from some hicksville villagers. In his original information gathering, Bakugou doubted the villagers would give him much more insight. No one except invaders had ever seen the beast.

Besides, he was confident in his power and strength to be able to take down any foe. The only question was, how much of a challenge would this foe pose? The distinction between invaders and residents of this beast’s lands indicated some level of intelligence. Hopefully, that level of intelligence would give Bakugou more of a fight. There was no question of whether or not he would win.

Bakugou always won.

He had to win. He had to get stronger to get his name out there in the world. People had to laurel his battles and call for his name when they wanted protection. Bakugou was going to be the strongest knight of the realm and no human, no monster would get in the way of his dream.

Soon enough, the pastures gave way to heavy woods. He followed overgrown paths till, eventually, the manor appeared between the trees. Bakugou set up a small camp just in sight of the beast’s lair. He settled in the branches of a tree and could just barely make out the interior of the building from the large windows facing him. With a fiendish smile, Bakugou began plotting his attack for when the sun went down.

A few times through the afternoon, Bakugou caught glimpses of movement inside the manor. Just small shadows and distant blurs, so far nothing to give support to the claims of a big terrifying beast. Perhaps the beast had servants, or it could shapeshift to fit its needs. There had to be some form of a monster to merit the rumors. Bakugou would not let his excitement dwindle just yet.

Heart thumping with excited adrenaline, Bakugou struck once the moon was high. He approached the large windows of the first floor as he pulled off his thick gloves. A simple touch of his palm and the glass exploded into the hall with a deafening boom.

Knock knock. Bakugou Katsuki had arrived.

He stepped over the empty window frame with a manic smile. If this kind of entrance did not enrage the beast into a wild fight, nothing would.

Bakugou flexed his hands, ready for the roar of anger and the clatter of claws on marble as the beast charged for him. No such response came. Only the shrill, white noise that followed in the silence after a loud sound. What the fuck. Fingers twitching in anticipation, Bakugou slowly walked further into the hall. Had the beast snuck out from other sides of the building without his notice? He had picked such a good vantage point though. While the entire grounds, with their extensive gardens, were not in view, Bakugou had been sure he had most paths in sight.

“What the hell is this?!” A very human voice cried from the top of the stairs. Bakugou jumped into a fighting stance on reflex, but there was no bloodlust coming from the voice’s owner. “Who the hell are you?!”

It was not quite a human that emerged from the shadows as he races down the stairs. Blood red hair was in all states of array, a very clear bedhead. Black horns adorned his forehead, black scales trickled down from them to crest his nose and frame his face. He was shirtless, giving Bakugou a clear view of the deep crimson scales that trailed from his shoulders and chest to the tops of his arms. Bakugou took in a similar pattern of scales on his legs, but was quickly distracted by the sheer, silk, glaring pink boxers he wore. What the f- oh, but worst of all. Worst of all were those bright red eyes that shifted from confused anger to concern. Concern?!

“Hey, are you okay? Did you crash through the window, man? That’s really not safe!” The underwhelming monster walked across the hall without a care for his bare feet with the glass littering the floor. “Are you cut anywhere? That was a really stupid thing to do, flying through a window! You scared the shit out of me!”

Bakugou snapped out of his stupor just as the beast-man stepped into striking distance. Without a second thought, Bakugou shot his hand out like a spear at the beast-man’s throat. The beast-man gave an undignified yelp, but surprisingly dodged the attack and scampered across the room, lightning quick. Bakugou growled and pursued his target. He was going to fight this fucker whether he liked it or not!

“Hold on- hold on! Yo! Oh my god, why are you-!” The beast-man was unable to get a complete thought out between Bakugou’s rapid attacks. He was agile and had an amazing reaction time to keep up and remain on the defensive. But why was the beast-man staying on the defensive. Why was the beast-man not angry to find an intruder in his home.

“WHY WON’T YOU FIGHT ME?!” Bakugou bellowed just as his palm made contact with the beast’s arm. He grinned. The beast-man spared a second of confusion before an explosion erupted from the point of connection. He gasped in surprise–rather than pain–and instead of retreating, he grabbed Bakugou’s arm and held it in place.

“I don’t get why you want me to-” He was not able to finish before Bakugou shoved his other palm on his face.

The resulting explosion made the beast-man stumble back. He held his face and beast-man glared up through his fingers. “Fine! Be an asshole! If you wanna fight, let’s fight!”

“About fucking time, chicken-shit!” Bakugou jeered, rushing at him once more.

They raced around the hall, exchanging blows and pushing each other back. Bakugou’s excitement soared at how durable the man-beast’s scales were against his explosions. A worthy, challenging opponent indeed! But as the minutes ticked by and their violent dance prolonged, Bakugou realized something. The man-beast’s talons were tucked away within his fist, rendered useless in the fight. What the hell was this beast’s problem?

He was about to demand a real fight, when the beast took advantage of his split second hesitation and knocked Bakugou’s feet out from under him. The man-beast leaped on top of his figure to pin him down as he hit the ground; his body seated dead center of Bakugou’s torso, and his feet pinned his wrists, palm-up, to the ground.

“God, it took forever to get you away from all that glass!” The beast sighed as he wiped at his damp brow. Bakugou felt a surge of anger at the beast’s implication. He had been toying with Bakugou this whole time to take him down away from the glass? What the fuck kind of altruism was that?

“What the hell do you want?!” Bakugou yelled, struggling against the beast’s weight.

The beast stared at him with an odd expression before bursting into laughter. Bakugou sneered and struggled more.

“Isn’t that my question? You’re the one that blew up my place and demanded I fight you in the middle of the night! I want to know what you want!”

“Shouldn’t that be damn clear?!” Bakugou kicked his feet, hoping to maybe unseat the amused bastard.

Laughing louder, the beast simply adjusted his weight and remained still.

“Yeah, it’s pretty clear you want to fight me, but why? Last I checked, there hasn’t been any sort of bounty put on my head.”

“Because I want to.” Who the hell did this scaley dumbass think he was asking all these questions? It was none of his goddamn business to know why Bakugou wanted to fight him. All that should have mattered was fighting and losing against him! But no, this beast had to have some kind of conscience or morals that prevented Bakugou from beating the shit out of him and claiming another victory.

“You’re a bit of a dick, you know that?" 

Bakugou shot a glare back in response to the light laughter still coming from the beast. “And you’re a complete disappointment. I’ve never been so underwhelmed by rumors before in all my years of monster hunting! You’re a complete disgrace to fearsome beasts everywhere! I don’t even want to fight you anymore because you’re a complete waste of my time!" 

“Oh good, glad that’s settled then!” The beast-man hopped to his feet and held a hand out to Bakugou to help him up. “I would hope I don’t do a fearsome beast justice because I’m just as human as you. I may look a little weird, but still bonafide human!”

Honestly, what was this guy’s damage? Bakugo tried to insult him, rile him up, hurt him, tried to get any response other than cheerful? Why was this idiot cheerful? He was not even hurt being called a monster when he was apparently human. A human with shitty hair. Here he was, holding out his hand with an infuriatingly carefree grin after Bakugou destroyed his home, picked a fight with him, and then insulted him. Bakugou really wanted to punch that grin off his face. 

He slapped away the offered hand, purposefully palm up to set a firecracker against the supposedly human’s scales. The not-beast-human-with-shitty-hair jumped back out of shock rather than hurt, but his smile did not waver. “That’s a wicked power you got there, man. Do you make everything you touch explode like that, or does it go at your command?”

Why for the love of god was this idiot still smiling? Bakugou scowled and brushed his pants off with the back of his hands. This had been such a waste of time and energy, and now he was just angry with no proper way to let off steam and- Shitty Hair suddenly perked up, cocked his head as if to better hear a sound. He looked like a dog listening to something in the distance. He looked even more like an idiot. 

“What are you-”

“Sorry, man! I gotta dash! There’s enemies crossing my borders!” Shitty Hair leaped up his staircase three steps at a time. “Damn, I really wanted to go back to sleep! Why is everything happening tonight?!”

“What the f-”

And suddenly Shitty Hair was barreling back down the stairs and bounded past Bakugou out to the forests before he could properly process what the hell was going on. But he could figure that out later. He was not about to let this annoying asshole out of his sight. Bakugou took off after him a split second later, but the other clearly knew his way around the woods. A couple times Bakugou had to backtrack and find Shitty Hair’s trail. When he caught up, he came upon an exhilarating sight.

Shitty Hair’s eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight with a righteous rage as he fought back a group of men who were armed to the teeth. Bakugou watched with the rising delight of a child discovering a new toy. The bandits put up a hard fight, but Shitty Hair was serious. His claws were out and poised to draw blood. His fangs bared with a furious snarl. His muscles rippled with strength and power. The moon reflecting off his scales gave him an ethereal shine. As the bandits gave up and began to retreat, the scaled warrior stood tall and yelled after them, “Stay away from my land and my people!”

Bakugou flexed his hands with a wild smile. Oh now this was going to be fun! This was the kind of opponent he was looking for! He was about to attack when Shitty Hair abruptly turned around and beamed a bright smile to him. Bakugou froze in his tracks.

 “Didn’t expect ya to follow me! I much prefer fighting with weapons like I used to, but it’s a lot easier to play the monster part to keep bad guys away from the village. Why-”

“Why didn’t you fight me like that , Shitty Hair?!” Bakugou growled, stomping up to the damn confusing creature to jab him harshly in the chest with his knuckle. Why was the fucker still shirtless? All he had done was throw pants on.

Wide eyes stared in confusion before lighting up with his laughter.

“My name isn’t Shitty Hair? What the hell! Yours is so worse than mine! Mine’s just a little jank because somebody woke me up, so I have bedhead!” He put out his hand, that infuriating smile still in place. “Kirishima Eijirou! Nice to meet you-?”

 Did this idiot forget that Bakugou’s hands would explode against his hand if he shook it? Bakugou glowered and ignored the introduction and silent question of his own name and opted to shove Kirishima’s chest with both hands. The resulting explosion sent him a few feet back on his ass, but that smile still was not going away.

“Why didn’t you fight me like that?!”

Kirishima just laughed–Bakugou grated his teeth together at the sound–and pushed himself to his feet.

“Well, you seem like a nice guy. Minus the exploding me thing and breaking my house thing, but you’re a nice guy nonetheless! I’d rather not fight you like that.”

Maybe the earlier explosion to the face dislodged something in this guy’s head. Nice? Nice? How could he have possibly come to that conclusion?!

“That’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard my entire life! You have got to be the biggest idiot I have ever met and will ever meet and no one will ever be a bigger fucking idiot than you. Fight me!”

There was no change in demeanor to Bakugou’s outburst. Rather, he almost seemed to be even more amused and that was enough to make Bakugou want to scream and rip that shitty hair off Kirishima’s head. “I have no reason to! I’m heading home to go back to sleep. You’re welcome to stay if you want! It’s been awhile since I had company! 

And with that he had the outright gall to dismiss Bakugou and simply walk past him back toward the manner. Bakugou snarled and fell in step with the idiot. “You know what! Maybe I will fucking stay! I’m going to prove to you I’m not a nice fucking guy and then you will fight me and I’m going to kick your ass for real!”

 Kirishima grinned, and there was a bounce to his step as he looked to Bakugou. “Alright! Sounds like a deal! If you convince me you’re not a nice guy, I’ll fight you for real!”

Wait- No- Bakugou had not been proposing a deal- But. Fuck it. Sure. Why not take him up on this proposal. He had no doubt he could harass Kirishima enough to make him want to give him a proper fight.  

“Fine. Hope you’re ready to lose this deal and your fight against me.” The bright grin given in response put the smallest seed of doubt in Bakugou’s mind. Well… He was fairly certain he could convince Kirishima he was a complete asshole.