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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.

Chapter Text

Kirishima was a lonely, extroverted soul. Years of solitude in his manor and brief bouts of disguised trips to the town had, without a doubt, made their impact on him. Even with Bakugou’s declaration to piss Kirishima off enough to fight him ‘seriously,’ Kirishima was more than happy to welcome Bakugou with open arms. Born from the combination of his extreme loneliness and innate kindness, Kirishima wanted to be the best host possible! He offered Bakugou a room in the vast manor, open access to anything he wanted, anything he wanted all he would have to do was ask! Bakugou adamantly refused the invitation and when they returned to the manor that fateful night, he made himself a cozy camp right outside. Kirishima was half confused and half in awe of his actions. It was pretty cool and manly to go camping! But at the same time… Why turn down someone’s hospitality and camp right outside their house ? It had to be some sort of pride thing for Bakugou, so it was admirable. In a stupid kind of way.

They settled into an odd schedule over the next week. Every morning, the second he woke up, Bakugou helped himself inside and blew up the first thing he put his hands on. Kirishima was pretty certain Bakugou thought this method would give him a rude awakening and the destruction would piss him off. Joke was on him, because Kirishima woke up way before Bakugou did and he could not give two shits about anything on the first floor. All the furniture and items were useless displays of wealth his father had wasted money on. He was more than happy to see the gaudy things in piles of ash.

Whenever Kirishima finally made his way downstairs, Bakugou seemed really annoyed by how relaxed he was. It was honestly so amusing to watch his face.  He went from a smug smirk–almost childlike with how prideful he was of his destruction–to scrunched brows and lips pulled in a sneer. This guy was so determined to piss Kirishima off, that he managed to piss himself off in the process! But Bakugou was quick to get over his annoyance and immediately challenged Kirishima to a fight. Sometimes it was a vocal challenge, but mostly it was not so much a challenge as Bakugou just went at him.

Fighting with Bakugou was surprisingly a lot of fun. That first fight in the middle of the night, all Kirishima could think about was how he did not want to accidentally maul the stranger that popped up in his house. Sure, said stranger destroyed the big foyer window, broke in, and tried to kick his ass, but he could tell Bakugou was a good guy! It was impossible for anyone to enter his lands with bad intentions without Kirishima knowing. The fact Bakugou managed to surprise him meant he had to be a decent guy! So yeah, his focus had been more on ending the fight than actually fighting.

But oh. Kirishima missed sparring. Fighting off bandits was not the same. Against them, Kirishima embraced his curse and fought tooth and nail to protect the people of his land. They stood no match to his cursed powers and always crumbled under his might. No, what Kirishima had been missing for so long was an equal opponent.

Back in the days before his curse, he had sparred with the knights under oath to his father and it had been so much fun! There was a big difference in fighting against a friend to strengthen oneself and fighting against an enemy to win. The bond of companionship and the manly exchange of blows and shows of strength were such an amazing way to grow! Kirishima felt fighting against one’s equal in an arena of friendship was the manliest way to fight.

Not to say he considered Bakugou a friend, but Bakugou was definitely way stronger than any of the enemies Kirishima had ever faced since being cursed. His explosive power put him on an equal playing field of Kirishima’s imprentrenable scales. For the first time in so long, Kirishima found himself being able to enjoy the rush of a fight and laugh with the energy of it all. Bakugou would certainly cause an explosion in Kirishima’s face if he dared suggest it aloud, but Kirishima truly felt they were getting closer thanks to these daily fights.

“You’re still not fighting me seriously!” Bakugou yelled as he slammed Kirishima to the ground, hand hovered over his face in a clear threat.

And, well, he was not wrong. Just as with every other morning spar, Kirishima kept his claws balled into a fist and had zero intention of seriously injuring Bakugou. Bakugou no longer had any serious desire to destroy Kirishima either. He used his explosive palms less. Not to say that Bakugou was any less aggressive in his attacks, but he seemed to be approaching their fights with a desire to keep them going rather than to take Kirishima out. What exactly the other’s intentions were by sticking around, Kirishima had no idea. But he was not about to complain.

Kirishima laughed and held his hands up in surrender. “I am fighting seriously! Just because I don’t want to hurt you doesn’t mean I’m not serious! Promise! Wanna have breakfast with me today?”

Just as every other morning, Bakugou quickly pulled back with a look of disgust. “For the last fucking time, Hair for Brains. I don’t want your fucking food. I want you to fight me .”

“I am fighting you, Blasty! I don’t get what more you want,” Kirishima whined as he pushed himself into a sitting position to stare at his sparring partner. He went so far as to stick his bottom lip out in a sad pout. Unsurprisingly, Bakugou just growled in frustration and stomped out of the manor. With an amused snort, Kirishima called after him, “Let me know if you change your mind!”

Apparently joining Kirishima for breakfast went against some ‘I want to piss you off enough to violently fight me’ code. But, it hardly put a dent in Kirishima’s delight of having company. Just knowing someone was outside his home that knew who he was was comfort enough. Well, it could be comfort enough if Kirishima had an ounce of self control. The first day of Bakugou’s stay, Kirishima tried his best to stick to his normal schedule. It had been a Thursday, so it was flower garden day.

Kirishima had a fairly strict schedule for himself to keep busy in his isolation. He cleaned the house, took care of the flowers and hedges, even started a vegetable garden for himself. It helped keep his mind busy and gave him some sort of purpose between fights with hostile threats entering his territory. The thing was, there was only so much weeding and trimming a guy could do each week. Even with the extra chores of cleaning up the mess Bakugou made, he was left with no set duties by the afternoon. Normally, he would go up to the library and read or go on a run deep on the woods to exhaust himself. But, with the allure of another person right outside, well, it was too tempting to pass up.

And so it quickly became a habit to go bother Bakugou the second he was done with his responsibilities. Bakugou was not personable and refused to answer any questions Kirishima asked outside of noncommittal and sorta-committal grunts. Not that it mattered one bit to Kirishima. It was awesome to be able to talk to someone instead of the empty air! So Kirishima talked and talked and talked about his days and books he liked to read and the different intruders he had fought before. He had years of stories he had never been able to share before! He kept talking until Bakugou got too annoyed to keep trying to ignore him and they sparred again.

Bakugou was always more aggressive come the afternoon, as if Kirishima talking with him was so aggravating it warranted physical violence. Kirishima liked to think it was just Bakugou’s way of opening up in exchange for Kirishima sharing about himself. Fighting was Bakugou’s way of sharing just as Kirishima’s sharing was talking. At least, that was what Kirishima hoped. Bakugou was a nice person in his heart, Kirishima knew it to be true thanks to his bond with the lands. He was a nice guy, just a weird, violence-prone kind of nice guy.

Their afternoons were something Kirishima honestly looked forward to whenever he heard the telltale boom of Bakugou blowing something up in the morning. For this reason, he was pretty disheartened he had to go into town after his chores instead of going to bother Bakugou. Normally trips to town were the highlight of the month. He got to talk to a bunch of people and buy some fun things and talk to more people.

The catch was, he had to go in complete and total disguise. The villagers were downright terrified of the beast living at the top of the hill in their old lord’s manor. After cursing him and his father, the witch had scared off the soldiers sworn to the lord with a gruesome tale of his death (and they were not that loyal to begin with). Those soldiers were the ones that spread the rumor of the lands being lordless and plagued by a beast.

The last thing Kirishima wanted to do was scare the townspeople he had befriended before being cursed. So he loaded up on long sleeved shirt to hide his scales, thick gloves to conceal his claws, bandages around his head to hide his horns and facial scales, and to top it all off a heavy cloak to help downplay everything else. He gave the townsfolk a story of a disfigured loner that lived deep in the forest to keep away from other people. His sweet, kind citizens accepted his story and did their best to help out ‘Ei the hermit’ whenever he ventured into town.

It just was not the same as talking to Bakugou, all his beastly horror open to the world. Bakugou did not seem to care how he looked as long as he was someone strong enough to have fun fighting against. Or perhaps a better assessment was someone strong enough he could have fun winning against. Bakugou knew him as Kirishima, the cursed guy covered in scales. It was a bit of an understatement to say the trade off to Ei, the hermit dying from heatstroke under all his clothes, was not the most appealing.

But, putting off the trip to town was not the smartest move with the height of summer approaching. Afternoon thunderstorms were going to start rolling in with the coming weeks, and Kirishima did not want to deal with the first floor turning into a lake thanks to the wide open foyer window. So a trip to town was positively necessary to avoid such a grievance. Kirishima had to keep assuring himself that his trip should not take too long, and there would be plenty of time to hang out with Bakugou when he got back!

This was what he keep repeating to himself as he circled through the forest to enter the town from the opposite direction of the manor. He took every precaution he could think of to make sure no one grew suspicious of him. Of course, who would suspect the monster of the manor would disguise himself to come down to town? It was a silly precaution, but one he made nonetheless.

“Ei! How are you doing! Haven’t seen you in a while!” As soon as he entered the town’s outskirts, someone called out in greeting to him. A bright smile pulled at Kirishima’s mouth, even if they could not see it under all his bandages and the shadows of his hood. He pushed aside his disappointment of not spending the afternoon with Bakugou, because how could he not enjoy seeing his villagers again? It had been too long!

Kirishima slowly made his way to the town square where they held market in the afternoons. He cheerfully stopped to chat and catch up with anyone that crossed his path. He inquired on the health of those that were not their best last he visited, gave congratulations to a recently engaged couple, played around with the children. Honestly, what the heck had he been thinking, being disheartened to go down to town? Even if they did not know what appearance he was hiding, all the villagers loved him and were just excited to see him as he was them.

With a skip in his step, Kirishima finally reached the vendor he was looking for. A few months back, a trio of traveling merchants set up shop in the town and had quickly become the go-to guys for anything someone might need to order from out of town. With a giant smile and an energetic wave, Kirishima loudly greeted the tall man working the stall that afternoon.

“Hey, Iida! How’s business going!”

Iida pushed up his glasses as he looked up from the book he was reading. His expression warmed into a welcoming smile as he returned Kirishima’s wave.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Ei! How pleasant to see you in town again. Business has been going well, albeit a tad slow. We expect to be getting a rush of work once the summer harvest begins though! Everyone is always excited to buy new, exciting things when they have extra money in their pockets. Although I always do advise that one should invest their money instead of spending it on friv-”

“Woah that’s great! I got a request for you guys in the meantime then!” Kirishima always felt guilty for cutting Iida off when he started going off on one of his lecturing rants, but he had been caught up in one too many endless conversations before. Thankfully the guy never seemed to be phased when someone interrupted him when it was just one of his general, rambling lectures. Sure enough, Iida hardly missed a beat and nodded as he opened his order book.

“Of course, Mr. Ei, that is what we are here for after all! What can I get for you?”

Kirishima leaned against the stall, peeking at the order book. It was basically empty.

“Well I’m actually hoping to get some big glass panes sometime in the next week or so? Like something along the lines of ten four-by-four panes? Think you guys can manage that?”

“Oh absolutely! We can go out this week to the city, tomorrow morning even!” Iida started writing the order down, then paused and looked up at Kirishima with a contorted expression. It was as if he were trying to mask his confusion and a hint of suspicion. “Whatever do you need so much glass for up in the forest?”

Ah shit. That was a really damn good question. Kirishima was eternally grateful for his hidden face, because it prevented Iida from reading the pure panic that was certainly clear as day in his expression. What the hell would a hermit living up in the woods need with that much glass? He burst into nervous laughter and did his best to pass it off as a genuine laugh.

“I’m renovating,” were the first words out of his mouth, so he had to run with it. “Yeah! No reason I can’t spruce up the place a bit just because no one else is around. Big windows will really let the light in and I’ll be closer to nature than ever before!”

Iida appeared ashamed of his question and quickly finished writing in the order.

“Of course, Mr. Ei. There’s nothing wrong at all with improving your state of living for your own personal enjoyment. I apologize for being so rude.”

Kirishima burst into genuine laughter this time. Honestly, Iida was too sincere of a guy.

“Hey, no need to be sorry! It is kinda a weird order coming from me of all people. I’d be curious too if I were in your shoes. So when’s the earliest you think you guys could get them in? I’m really hoping to beat the summer storms.”

They discussed business for a bit, then delved into gossip of the town and how his companions were faring. Kirishima was sad he never got to meet Iida’s group before his curse. He had no doubt they would have been great friends. Eventually, someone else approached the stall, and Kirishima bid his farewells so Iida could get another potential order. He started to walk away when someone else called out his name. Running down the opposite street was one of Iida’s companions, Midoriya. Kirishima grinned and met the other halfway, excited to be able to catch up directly with him.

“Hey! I was just placed an order and was talking with Iida about you and Uraraka. But I wanna hear from you! How ya been doing? Anything exciting happen for you lately?”

Midoriya laughed sheepishly as he scratched at his head.

“Well, I had a bit of a mix up with our last order but… You don’t want to hear about that!” He grinned and quickly changed the topic.

“I’m actually really glad I was able to catch you! I was wondering if you knew anything about the loud noises coming from the forest lately.”

Loud noises coming from the forest? What loud- Oh. Oh god. Kirishima’s stomach dropped. Bakugou’s daily furniture explosives, the deafening noise that had been the window blowing up that first night. It had not even occurred to him how those blasts would surely travel enough for some townsfolk to overhear.

“What loud noises?” He squeaked in a poor attempt to sound curious. Midoriya hardly seemed to notice his tone though, and just tapped his lips in thought.

“Well there was this really loud bang several nights ago that woke up half the town. Following that, several people have reported hearing quieter but similar sounds early in the morning. They’re starting to get concerned that something has really upset that monster living in the manor. Have you been okay up in the forest?”

Dammit Bakugou! Kirishima tensely nodded.

“Wow, really? I haven’t heard anything like that in my neck of the woods. You sure people aren’t just hearing things? Maybe some bears are growling real loud or something!”

“Hmm, I suppose. We might have to ask for assistance from neighboring lords if it keeps up for much longer. If it is the beast, it might mean it’s angry enough to attack the town now.”

“What? No! That’s ridiculous!” Kirishima burst into nervous giggles and pat Midoriya’s shoulder. “I would probably know before any of you guys if that monster decided to start going on a rampage, you know? My house is way closer than the town! I’m certain there’s nothing to worry about!”

Midoriya looked up to him with those giant green eyes of his and they were brimming with concern. “If you say so Ei. You know that if you’re ever in trouble, all of us would come running to help you, right? All you need to do is ask. We’ll help no matter what.”

His giggles quickly sobered under that determined and caring stare. Midoriya was such a nice guy. Everyone in the town was too nice. It was overwhelming how they could all care so much about someone they thought they hardly knew anything about. Kirishima had to swallow back a lump in his throat before he could respond. “Yeah- Yeah I know. You all are too kind, jeez. Don’t worry so much about some hermit like me. I’m fine, really! But I’ll totally let you all know if anything ever happens, okay?”

“Okay…” Midoriya did not seem too convinced, but he smiled nonetheless. “Well safe travels back home, Ei! I hope I’ll see you when you pick up your order?”

Kirishima pat his back with a reassuring laugh. “Totally, man! And really, stop worrying so much! You’re gonna get gray hairs!”

They parted with Midoriya looking a little happier, so Kirishima was pleased. He felt ridiculously guilty that everyone was worried for no reason, considering he was the monster they were worries about. But what could he do? Not like revealing his gruesome secret was going to do much good in making them not scared. So he could shoulder the guilt for their sake. It was the proper, manly thing to do.

The trip back to the forest took even longer than the trip into town. Word had spread that he was around and it seemed like everyone in town had gone out of their way to hunt him down. His well being was questioned many times over and Kirishima did his best to assure them as he did with Midoriya.

When he finally made his way into the cover of the trees, he had several baskets of breads and fresh produce in his arms. Each were gifts with an admonishing, “You’re too skinny! You don’t eat enough! Don’t worry about it, take it!” How the townsfolk came to the conclusion he was too skinny when he was literally covered head to toe was besides him, but he appreciated their concern and the gifts.

Kirishima was surprised to notice the sun setting by the time he returned to the manor. Had he really managed to spend the entire afternoon in town? It felt like no time at all had passed! Laughing to himself, Kirishima happily carried his gifts to the kitchen and began shedding the layers of his disguise. Oh sweet, glorious fresh air! How nice it felt against his scales and-

“Where the fuck have you been, Shitty Hair?” Bakugou slammed Kirishima into a wall, a gloved hand holding his throat while an ungloved one hovered over his face, an unspoken threat of explosives. His brows were knit together and his lip curled in a snarl. Despite the blatant anger and the threat of violence, only one thought came to Kirishima’s mind.

“Aww, did you miss me?”

Bakugou reeled back, lip pulling up even further in his disgust. But Kirishima noticed a hint of panic, maybe embarrassment in his face.

“What the fuck gives you that idea you fucking dumbass? Of course I didn’t fucking miss you! That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! What the fuck! I’m just pissed I didn’t get to beat your ass again this afternoon! That’s fucking all! Fuck!” He turned on his heels and stomped away.

He was embarrassed! Embarrassed! Kirishima struggled to contain his giggles as he grabbed Bakugou’s gloved hand. “Okay, sorry, you didn’t miss me! My bad! Sorry I didn’t tell you I was going to town today, though. I’ll be sure to clue you in next time.” He grinned, Bakugou was not turning around to face him. It was adorable!

“Wanna have dinner with me so I can make it up to ya? I got some fresh veggies and fruit and bread!”

“Fuck no!” Bakugou pulled his arm away and whirled around to glower properly at Kirishima. “I don’t want your damn charity, for the last time! You better not be a piece of shit fighting tomorrow because you slacked today!”

“Oh shit!” Kirishima gasped, as that reminded him of the little noise traveling problem. “Speaking of which, think you could do me a favor and not blow shit up in the morning anymore?” Bakugou looked like he was about to blow up, so Kirishima quickly followed up on the request.

“I promise I’ll fight you even without the prompting! To tell you the truth I’m already awake and getting ready for the day by the time you start exploding furniture. I don’t even care about that even! The problem is sound is traveling to town and people are starting to get suspicious. I’d rather not have soldiers from neighboring lands being called in because the people are scared the monster is pissed off and gonna start trying to eat them or something.”

Bakugou’s face scrunched up in thought. How could someone make any little action look so full of anger? He eventually let out an annoyed huff as he reached some conclusion.

“Fine. But only because I don’t want any other fuckasses trying to take my prey away from me. You’re not fighting anyone else because I’m going to take you down when you finally stop being a pansy ass and fight me at full strength!”

That was easy! Kirishima laughed. “Thanks! I appreciate it! Sure you really don’t want to join me for-”

“Fuck off!” Bakugou yelled as he stormed outside.

Kirishima watched him leave with his smile still intact. Bakugou was the angriest guy he had ever met. Was it weird that Kirishima thought he was one of the cutest too?

Chapter Text

There was a major flaw in Bakugou’s plan to pissing Kirishima off to get him to fight. Like, a huge kind of major flaw. The kind of major flaw he felt like a honest to god idiot for not seeing to begin with.

Kirishima would not get angry. Did not get angry. No matter what Bakugou did in an attempt to anger Kirishima, it failed. Bakugou was used to riling people up, pissing them off or scaring them off. Never in his entire life had he met someone so infuriatingly unflappable. Kirishima did not care how much Bakugou insulted him or cursed at him or destroyed his belongings. If anything, the weirdo seemed amused by Bakugou’s behavior. Why was he amused? Bakugou was not amusing.

Granted, Bakugou had not helped his case the prior week when he got mad that Kirishima left for the entire afternoon without a word to him. It was not like Bakugou had missed him like Kirishima had the gall to suggest. No, he was just pissed off that Kirishima felt it was fine to consistently bother him every day and then break their schedule with zero notice. Bakugou had come to expect getting a second fight out of Kirishima after he was unable to ignore him. Okay, well if he had to be honest he picked their fights after he realized Kirishima somehow got him caught up in his pace and got Bakugou talking about himself. It was not like Bakugou actually talked about anything important or mind blowing, but the fact he actually talked to Kirishima was enough to piss him off.

And he was so happy all the time! Why was he so happy all the time? This guy was clearly not the loner type and he had been living alone for how long? He was under some kind of curse, because he was not a weird scaled humanoid naturally. There was no way someone as stupidly welcoming and sincere as Kirishima was cursed for a legitimate reason, so why was he not bitter about his situation? Bakugou would be angry! He sure as hell would not be content just sitting around in his big empty house all by himself and fighting off weak asses to protect a bunch of stupid weak townspeople. Why was Kirishima so happy? Why was he so carefree?

Why the hell was Bakugou helping him fix the fucking window was the real question.

“Hold that steady for me!”

Bakugou did just as asked and Kirishima fit the last piece of glass down. It was a pretty damn good window- but what the fuck did he care about the shitty window?! How the fuck did he end up helping? They sparred in the morning as usual. Bakugou told Kirishima off and went back to his camp as usual. Oh- yes. That was where the usual went awry. Kirishima took too long to come around for their afternoon spar, so Bakugou went in search of him. Because he wanted to fight. And only because he was bored. He certainly had not been waiting around for Kirishima. Bakugou did not care what Kirishima did with his time, he just wanted to fight. That was it. So when he found Kirishima building a window frame, he was understandably annoyed. This is detrimental to his sparring intentions.

Kirishima just looked up with a bright smile and said, “I was wondering when you were gonna come wandering over!” As if he had been expecting Bakugou! What the fuck! The absolute nerve to expect Bakugou to seek him out! So Bakugou told him to go die. Kirishima just laughed. Why the fuck did he just laugh in the face of a death threat? What a goddammit idiot. Somewhere between demanding they fight and Kirishima declaring he needed to finish the window first, he started helping Kirishima with the construction. And he just kept helping as they tag teamed the big window and secured it in the open space of the wall, Kirishima chattering away the entire process.

“Hey by the way, how come your gloves don’t blow up?”

“Hah?” He looked to Kirishima with his usual snarl. “The fuck kind of question is that?”

Kirishima gestured to his gloved hands. “I mean, you blow stuff up with the touch of your hands, right? So how come your gloves don’t blow up?”

“Well it’d be pretty fucking impossible to get through life if there was literally no way to touch anything.” Bakugou sneered and focused on securing their hard work.

“Okay, but, like, how come? Are they special gloves or does your power have an oddly specific exception toward gloves?”

Why the fuck was Kirishima so determined to talk. Bakugou violently slapped down the putty they were using to fill the small gap between the wall and the new window frame. He spread it out sneering. This was so obnoxious. Clearly, ignoring Kirishima’s efforts did not make him stop, so fine. He would give in and hopefully reverse psychology would work.

“Because it is not a power dumbass. It’s a fucking curse. I pissed off some old hag of a witch and she cursed me. She honestly did me a damn favor with this shit. I’m a force to be reckoned with, ha!” Bakugou rolled his eyes and spoke in a mocking falsetto. “Your hands will destroy anything you try to touch until you have felt deep in your heart the agony of being unable to hold a loved one in your bare hands.” He scoffed. “Stupidest condition for a curse ever. At least she gave me the damn gloves.”

Kirishima had a weird look on his face and Bakugou had no idea what it meant but he did not like it. He did not want to know what was going through that hair for brains. He changed the topic. “How the fuck did you get cursed.”

Thankfully, the expression wiped away with a frivolous laugh. Kirishima shrugged. “Yeah actually, my dad upset a witch because he was a selfish asshole and I got wrapped up in the curse. It could be worse; at least she let me stay and protect everyone in our lands.”

Bakugou rolled his eyes. Kirishima was literally the most mind boggling person he could imagine. How was he so nonchalant about just casually being wrapped up in his dad’s curse. Bakugou was kinda pissed off for him. What a goddamn bitch! Who the hell did she think she was, just cursing someone because of his father? People should be valued on their own damn merit and strength, not that of their family. Kirishima was so selfless. Disgusting.

“Wow! Look at that! It turned out great if I do say so myself!” Kirishima stepped back to admire their handiwork. The frame was a little uneven, but the hole in the wall was completely sealed and the big window seemed secure enough. For a couple of amateurs, even Bakugou had to admit they did a pretty decent job. Huh. Who knew he could be an okay window maker?

Kirishima started cleaning up their building supplies, smiling and humming some random tune. Bakugou watched him for a moment before following after him through the manor. “So you’re not pissed off about some random bitch cursing you just because your dad was a dick?”

“I think it was sorta an attempt to motivate my dad to learn to be a better person faster? Because despite his flaws he does love me. But she was nice about it! My curse breaks when my dad breaks his, but she also gave me the opportunity to break it on my own if I find true love or whatever!”

“That’s fucking idiotic.” Bakugou accepted the ladder to hold as Kirishima put things away in the garden shed. “At least you got a cool perk to your curse. Those scales are strong as shit and I bet your claws could fuck shit up if you actually fought me with them.”

Kirishima snorted as he took the ladder back to find its spot. “Yeah, but, I don’t really want to fuck shit up like this. I don’t want to be the beast, the monster, that rumors say mindlessly destroys things. I used to dream of being a knight, yknow?”  Kirishima readjusted a few items in the shed before shutting the door behind him. He turned to Bakugou with that obnoxiously bright smile. “Protect the realm and be a hero to the people and all that jazz. I don’t mind being a monster to keep the people of these lands safe, but I’d rather fight someone like you as a human with super strong skin.”

That was actually logical in a way Bakugou could respect. He nodded sagely as he followed Kirishima into the kitchen. “So you just don’t know how to fight at your full strength as a cursed human yet. I had to practice and change my fighting style after my curse, but you haven’t done it right.” He grinned, rather proud of the conclusion he came to. Bakugou dropped himself in a chair at the kitchen table and said cockily, “You’ll finally fucking fight me properly once you actually know how !”

“Sounds like a good theory to me! I’ve honestly really enjoyed fighting with you Blasty McSplodes!” Kirishima laughed as he pulled out various ingredients and supplies for dinner. “Guess you’ll be more of a sparring teacher than a partner now!”

Bakugou growled and kicked his feet up on the other chair. “Gross, don’t fucking call me that dumb nickname.”

Snickering, Kirishima laid out a line of carrots and started unevenly chopping them. It was a painful sight to behold. “But that’s basically what you are!”

Oh god. Bakugou winced with each awful slice. Those carrots were not going to cook evenly with such asymmetrical pieces. This guy had been living by himself for how long and he still could not cook properly? What a goddamn dumbass… Kirishima started reaching for another carrot. No, he could not handle this pathetic excuse of dinner preparations. “Who the hell taught you how to cook? That is the sloppiest knife work I have ever seen. Fucking move over.” Bakugou snatched the knife out of Kirishima’s hand and body checked him out of the way.

Completely ignoring Kirishima’s indignant shout, Bakugou properly cut the row of carrots. He assessed the ingredients on the table and decided he was making soup. Did he care what Kirishima was planning on making? Not in the least. He ordered Kirishima to get more spices and a bigger pot. Kirishima did as requested and tried to resume conversation, but Bakugou would have none of it. Cooking was not a medium for conversation.

Eventually they were seated at the table together with steaming bowls of heartiful soup. Bakugou took a sip and nodded in approval. Yeah that had been a good decision on his part to cook the lamb instead of the chicken. Was Kirishima raised by wolves? His cooking abilities were appalling.

Kirishima slurped loudly at his spoon and hummed his approval. “Wow, Bakugou! This is amazing! Might be the best meal I’ve had since all the servants left!” He looked up from his bowl with a delighted giggle. “You’d be such a wonderful little housewife! Such precise knife work!”

“Oh shut the fuck up. Cooking is an essential skill to have a balanced and nutritious diet. What kind of dumbass can’t properly cook for himself?”

That actually made Kirishima shut up. He looked down at the soup again with a thoughtful look. They ate in silence for a few minutes before Kirishima looked up again with shining eyes. “You gotta be the manliest guy I know Bakugou! That’s so true! Being able to take care of yourself properly really is so important!”

He scoffed and rolled his eyes. Yeah he just fucking said that. “Just eat your damn food.”

Kirishima cackled and happily did so. He kept rocking in his seat and breaking into delighted hums every other bite. Bakugou could hardly get angry about it, because damn right Kirishima should enjoy his food. He grinned smugly throughout the meal and continued the smug expression as Kirishima cleaned up. He leaned back in his chair to watch him wash the dishes. It was rather impressive how cleanly Kirishima was. He gave off the impression of someone that’d be really messy.

“Hey so, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” Kirishima placed the last dish down to dry and turned to Bakugou. “You reek. Like no offense, but I don’t care how much you dunk in the river with whatever travel soap you may or may not have. We worked hard today putting up that window and I have to insist you take a real bath.”

“How the fuck can you say no offense, but you reek? How is someone not supposed to take offense to that?” Bakugou shoved his chair aside as he stood and got up in Kirishima’s space. He froze, unsure what action Bakugou was going to take next. With a smirk, Bakugou took a big whiff of him and raised his nose. “You don’t smell like a walk in the fucking garden either. No offense.”

Kirishima burst into laughter and side stepped Bakugou. “Okay, okay you have a point. Come on we both deserve a nice, hot bath.”

“Fucking fine, whatever.”

The indoor bath was damn nice. Bakugou almost regretted not taking Kirishima up on his offer to use whatever he wanted in the manor earlier. Almost. Bakugou Katsuki did not have regrets. But damn the hot water felt great on his muscles. Camping was fine and it was how he spent most of his nights since he traveled so much, but it was rough on the body. The swift current of the river helped soothe some aches, but nothing compared to the deep relaxation hot water brought.

Kirishima was talking about something, or maybe he was just talking to himself. It was hard to tell half the time. His voice echoed in the tiled room and the heavy heat in the air seemed to make his scattered laughter linger. With a stomach full of good food and the relaxing atmosphere of the bath, it was not a surprise when Bakugou started to doze off. He jolted to alertness at the sudden touch of claws on his shoulders. “What the fuc-”

“Don’t sleep here Blasty!” Kirishima cut him off with a laugh and dragged him out of the water.

Bakugou was still in a bit of a daze and did not protest as Kirishima led him around. He got him a fluffy towel, some soft pajamas. It was not until Bakugou was tucked in a soft bed that smelled of fresh linen that he realized what the fuck just happened. His eyes flew wide open as he stared at the ceiling. How? How did this happen? He gave in a little to Kirishima and suddenly spent the entire afternoon wrapped up in his pace. After a couple weeks of rejecting Kirishima’s offers of hospitality he suddenly shared a meal, bath, and was about to pass out in one of the guest rooms.

He sat up with a low growl, about to stomp out of bed to give Kirishima a piece of his mind. His growl subsided as he gave it a second thought. Technically he never accepted any kind of charity. He worked on the window and cooked dinner for both of them. If anything, he had more than worked his fair share for room and amenities. And from their discussions earlier, he was basically a personal trainer for Kirishima at this point. How else was the idiot going to learn how to properly take advantage of his curse? Yeah… He earned this amazingly plush bed.

Kirishima’s obnoxious laughter echoed in the back of his mind as he slipped into a peaceful sleep.


It was morning! Kirishima bounced out of bed, smile brighter than the rising sun. Mornings were something he rarely looked forward to. Sometimes he wished he could just sleep his days away, but he knew from past experience it was better to be awake and active no matter how lonely he was. There was no reason to wish for more sleep today though, because today he was excited . Bakugou was asleep in the room next to him. They spent the whole afternoon just hanging out together! Bakugou helped him with the window! Actually opened up and talked with him! They had dinner together! Bakugou cooked their dinner. Bakugou! He cooked! He was an amazing cook and took pride in it! Kirishima had learned so much about Bakugou and he could not wait to learn even more today.

Too excited to get the day rolling, Kirishima raced out of his room without bothering to get dressed. They took a bath together last night, it was fine to bug Bakugou in his boxers! He peeked inside and stifled a snicker at the sight. Bakugou had not only kicked all the covers off the bed in his sleep, but also shed his pajama shirt and pants as well. He was sprawled across the mattress, face first in a pile of pillows precariously close to the edge. Of course he was a violent sleeper. Unable to hold back his laughter anymore, Kirishima bound into the room and leaped onto the foot of the bed. “Good morning Blasty!”

Bakugou’s immediate response was to kick. And it was a well placed kick right in the middle of Kirishima’s face. He yelped more from surprise than pain and toppled over the end of the bed. Bakugou growled and started to roll over to sit up, but he went in the wrong direction. So close to the edge, he also fell to the ground in a loud thud. Thoroughly awakened by this point, Bakugou jumped up with a loud, “What the fuck?!”

Uncontrollable laughter was not going to help save him from Bakugou’s wrath, but Kirishima was a slave to his hysterics. He tried his best to roll away from Bakugou’s feet as he kicked at him. “What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. You.” Each word was punctuated with a swift kick. Kirishima finally caught his breath enough to curl around Bakugou’s leg to keep him from kicking him again. “Get the fuck off! Stop laughing!” Bakugou snarled, shaking his leg in an attempt to get Kirishima to let go.

“I’m sorry-! It was too funny!” Kirishima wheezed, only tightening his hold on Bakugou’s leg. “You kicked me off! And then you fell off! And-and-and you’re so angry and loud after just waking up-oh my god it’s so funny-” He broke down into hysterical laughter again, burying his face in Bakugou’s shin as his entire body shook with his amusement.

“Son of a- fucking hell.” Bakugou gave up on trying to shake Kirishima off and waited out his giggle fit. He looked out the window and cursed again under his breath. “Seriously what the fuck is wrong with you, Shitty Hair? The sun isn’t even completely up yet! Why did you wake me up?”

Kirishima sighed, hysterics finally under control, and let go of Bakugou to flop on the ground. He grinned up at him with a snort. “I was up and you were right here! So I thought I could surprise ya and I ask you to spar!”

It did not come as much of a surprise that Bakugou’s lip raised in a sneer. He always made faces when Kirishima did nice stuff. Adorable. He kicked Kirishima again, albeit this time it was more of a firm nudge with his foot. “Get the fuck out and get dressed. Don’t do that shit again. Wake me up like a normal person at normal hours or I will do more than kick you in the face!” Bakugou turned on his heel to get dressed, but seemed to just realize that all of his stuff was still in his camp. He huffed and stomped to the door. “I’ll meet you in the garden in ten.”

“Okay!” Kirishima called after him as he disappeared down the hall. That was a success in Kirishima’s opinion. He skipped back to his room to get dressed. Today was going to be a great day! Since they never ended up sparring again yesterday, Kirishima was particularly energetic. Bakugou was probably feeling the extra energy too, perhaps why he was surprisingly agreeable despite the rude wake up call.

They met in the garden and exchanged grins laced with adrenaline. They danced across the open space with quick steps and heavy breaths. Their fight lasted longer than usual. Bakugou seemed determined to draw it out rather than to end it with a swift victory. Perhaps even more glaring, was how Bakugou had yet to loudly demand that Kirishima fight him seriously. Rather… He seemed to be toying with Kirishima. Bakugou hardly made an effort to dodge Kirishima’s punches and just smirked whenever they landed. As if that were not frustrating enough, Kirishima belatedly realized Bakugou was not using his explosive power.

It was surprising it took Kirishima as long as it did for him to realize it, especially considering Bakugou lead his attacks with explosions. The only conclusions Kirishima could draw was that Bakugou was not fighting him seriously. What the hell was that about?

Kirishima’s brows knit together and he unclenched his fists. If Bakugou did not want to take their fight seriously then Kirishima would just have to make him. He flattened his hands, his claws pointed out like a spear. His heart pounded in his ears. It was equally freeing and terrifying to brandish his talons at Bakugou.

One swift jab at Bakugou and his entire demeanor changed. A vicious smile filled his face as he twirled out of the way and down into a fighting stance. Kirishima returned with a determined smile of his own. The air between them charged with anticipation. They stared at each other and breathed in sync for a moment before they charged at each other again.

Bakugou went full force, his explosions back in play while Kirishima swiped at him with his claws. Kirishima hardly felt the fired blasts, but the impact was enough to make him falter. If he wanted to stay on level ground, he had to dodge Bakugou’s open palms as much as Bakugou had to avoid Kirishima’s speared hands.

They moved faster, leaving no room for thought, only instinct. Time lost all meaning between them. It was only the ebb and flow, the exchanged threats of fired explosions and sharp claws. Sweat dripped from their brows. Their chests heaved with breath. It was primal. It was exhilarating.

All it took was claws slicing skin for the spell to break.

Kirishima was a split second faster than Bakugou, and talons grazed his cheek. It should have been nothing more than a glancing blow, but Kirishima’s claws were sharper than any sword. They sliced Bakugou’s skin like it was water and blood instantly welled in the wound.

“Fuck! Shit! I'm sorry!” Kirishima yelped, immediately dropping his guard and reaching for Bakugou’s bleeding face.

Bakugou did not give him the chance. The injury hardly gave him pause. He kicked Kirishima’s feet out from under him and sat on his chest, pinning his upper arms to the ground with his feet. Kirishima struggled for breath, but also to get up and stop Bakugou’s bleeding. This was his fault. It was his fault he should not have allowed himself to fight with his talons. He tried to gasp out another apology, a plea for Bakugou to allow him to tend to his injury.

“Shut the fuck up you fucking hair for brains.” Blood and sweat mixed together and dripped from his face onto his shirt, and onto Kirishima’s chest as he leaned forward. Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s forearm, held tight against the force of the explosion as their skin made contact, and held Kirishima’s hand in the space between them, blood glistening from the tip of the claws. “Do you apologize when you nick someone with your sword when you spar?”

Kirishima could hardly think between his short breaths and crushing despair. This was why he had not wanted to fight Bakugou with his claws. They were monstrous and dangerous . He could not look away from the steady stream of red on his friend. It was his fault.

“Kirishima!” Bakugou yelled, shoving his palm on his face.

The resulting explosion directly in his face was not what snapped Kirishima out of his stupor. Bakugou had used his name. His gazed focused on Bakugou and the deafening ringing in his ears lessened. “W-what-”

Bakugou scowled and repeated his question. His grip remained strong on Kirishima’s arm and he shook it for good measure. Kirishima was not sure what point he was trying to make, but shook his head nonetheless.

“Fucking exactly. You don't. It's a risk you accept when you choose to spar with real weapons.” Bakugou shoved Kirishima’s claws into his face. “You said you wanted to be a knight? Well these are your sword.” He let go of Kirishima’s arm to hold his face with both hands. Once the smoke cleared from the explosion, he pulled at Kirishima’s scaled cheeks. “This is your shield. You protect the people of these lands with your sword-” He lifted his foot from Kirishima’s arm to kick his taloned hand. “-and your shield.” He pinched Kirishima’s cheek harder. “So don’t you fucking apologize for fighting and practicing with your weapons like a knight should !”

The following silence was heavy between them. Kirishima stared at Bakugou, quite utterly in awe. The motivational lecture was unexpected, yet still fit with the image Kirishima had created of Bakugou over the course of his stay. He was violent and brash about it, but the core of his intentions were good . A grin slowly crept its way onto his face and strained against Bakugou’s tight hold on his cheeks. Bakugou’s somewhat neutral stare instantly twisted into a disgusted scowl as he shoved Kirishima’s head into the ground and stood.

“Don’t you dare fucking say it-”

“You’re such nice guy at heart Blasty!” Kirishima cheered, popping upright into a sitting position so he could smile brightly and freely up at him.

With a snarl, Bakugou shoved his hand in Kirishima’s face and the shock wave sent him flat on his back. “Fuck off! Fuck! You’re so fucking annoying! Why did I even fucking bother! Fuck you!” He turned on his heel and stomped across the gardens, slipping his gloves on in the process.

Kirishima pushed himself upright and called after him, “Let me patch you-”

Bakugou tore his shirt off and pressed it to his bleeding cheek as he looked over his shoulder to Kirishima. “You’re not getting anywhere fucking near me. I can take the fuck care of myself and I don’t want your fucking help. Just fuck off.”

Okay, so, Kirishima should have seen that coming. Bakugou turned away once more, already to the entrance to the manor when Kirishima jumped to his feet with a frantic, “Wait!” Thankfully Bakugou paused, but he did not turn around. Kirishima smiled softly at Bakugou, even if he could not see it. “Thank you.”

They were simple words. It was an appropriate response to Bakugou’s meaningful lecture. But the gratitude made Bakugou’s posture stiffen. With rigid movement, Bakugou reached for the door handle. He paused. “Fucking shut up!” He screamed, punching the door frame before throwing the door open and disappearing inside the manor.

Kirishima struggled to fight off amused giggles until he was certain Bakugou would not hear him. He collapsed to the grass, clutching his sides as he heaved with laughter. Was it so hard to accept appropriate thanks? Bakugou was unreal ! How was it possible for someone to be so resistant to normal, decent human behavior? It was so stupid! Even stupider was how endearing Kirishima found it. All he wanted to do was keep being nice to Bakugou and make him react in such ways even more! He sprawled out on the ground and grinned up at the sky.

He was so happy to have made such an amazing friend.

Chapter Text

“What the fuck are you doing?”

Kirishima glanced up from the flowers piled in his lap with a smile in response to Bakugou’s confused sneer. He quickly tied off the last flower in the loop and held up a completed flower crown. “I’m making crowns! Want one?”

“Hah? Why would I want some fucking flowers?” Bakugou moved to step on the flowers next to Kirishima that had fallen out of his lap, but stomped on Kirishima instead as he leaned over to protect them.

“Oh come on don’t be a complete jerk!” Kirishima whined. He pushed Bakugou away with a small pout. “I think you’d look cute with a flower crown!”

As expected, Bakugou recoiled at the suggestion. His lip curled in his distaste and he flipped up his middle finger at Kirishima. “Fuck off, shit hair. That’s not funny.”

Kirishima laughed and pat the ground next to him in an invitation for Bakugou to join him. He was not trying to be funny, but Bakugou would not believe him even if he tried to argue. Kirishima had found delight in complimenting Bakugou and making him flustered over the past couple of days.

Having made himself comfortable living inside the manor, and after a second morning of Kirishima’s loud and disruptive wake up call, Bakugou declared their morning fights were cancelled and that just afternoon fights were fine. Bakugou claimed it was because they were fighting harder and longer, so they should focus on just one really good spar a day. The real reason became clear when Bakugou slept in till noon the next day. Kirishima said it was cute how Bakugou liked to sleep in. Bakugou reacted explosively.

It only escalated from there, really, because it was easy to call anything Bakugou did cute. The way he was super intense about cooking? Adorable. The way he zoned out in the bath when he got sleepy? Positively precious. Although Kirishima’s teasing backfired when he had called Bakugou’s bandage cute and then Bakugou had snapped back, “You don’t sound that remorseful about hurting me.” Needless to say, Kirishima did not tease Bakugou about his cute semi-sloppy bandage work again...

“You know, for someone obsessed with manly shit, this is pretty damn girly.” Bakugou dropped down next to Kirishima, slightly further away than the spot Kirishima had prompted. He snatched a flower from Kirishima and twirled it.

Kirishima protectively collected his flowers away from Bakugou’s reach and started another chain of flowers. “It’s not girly!”

“Hah? I wouldn’t call playing with flowers fucking manly .” Bakugou plucked the petals one at a time until they were all gone. He reached over for another, but Kirishima pushed him away.

“Why not? It’s fun and I enjoy doing it!” Kirishima laughed and turned his back to Bakugou to better protect his flower stash. “I used to make flower crowns with my mom all the time. She taught me there’s nothing manlier than being true to yourself and doing what’s right!”

Bakugou snorted and scooted closer to steal another flower. “That’s a weird definition of manly.” He snaked a hand under Kirishima’s elbow, but it was quickly pinned to Kirishima’s body to stop him.

Kirishima grinned as he released Bakugou’s hand and quickly dropped the first flower crown on his head. Bakugou violently jerked away with knitted brows. He reached his hand up, about to rip the flowers off, but paused and stared at Kirishima a moment before dropping his hand to cross his arms. The flower crown remained atop his head, making a small indention in Bakugou’s fluffy hair. The faintest of pink dusted Bakugou’s cheeks as he scowled and looked away. Kirishima’s smile only grew as his heart soared. Cute!

He was not about to vocalize that, no matter how fun Bakugou’s reaction would be. He would rather Bakugou keep wearing the flowers and not destroy them in retaliation for being called cute. So he continued their conversation and resumed connecting flowers for his own crown. “Well how would you define being manly?”

“Uh. I dunno…” Bakugou picked at the grass, nose scrunched in thought. He looked up to meet Kirishima’s gaze with a smug smirk. “I’d say I’m the definition of manly.”

“Yeah you’re not wrong!” Kirishima quickly agreed. “You’re definitely the manliest guy I’ve ever met!”

Bakugou tried to scowl, but his face betrayed him with the faintest of smiles lighting his eyes. “Oh shut the fuck up.” He threw a handful of grass at Kirishima and flopped down on his back to stare at the sky. Kirishima was pleased to note that Bakugou almost seemed mindful to not crush his flower crown in the action. “How the hell are you going to fit that shit over your shitty hair anyways?”

Kirishima laugh and held up his line of flowers. “Like this!” Rather than a complete circlet like he had put on Bakugou, Kirishima nestled the chain in his hair and tucked the ends into his thick tresses. He posed playfully for Bakugou, who just rolled his eyes.

“Figures your shitty hair would let you do something stupid like that.”

With an exaggerated pout, Kirishima teasingly bat his lashes at Bakugou. “Aww you don’t think I look cute too?”

The progression of confusion, shock, and then embarrassment in Bakugou’s expression was worth the following punch in the gut. Not like it actually hurt. Bakugou had the most disgusted scowl, but his pink ears gave him away and Kirishima had to resist teasing him more. He clenched his fist, a threat of another punch. “What the fuck, you hair for brains fuck face. You’re the furthest thing from cute. You look fucking stupid!”

Okay maybe it was too hard to resist teasing as Kirishima broke out into hysterical laughter. “Your mouth is saying one thing, but your blush is saying another!”

“Fuck off!” Bakugou jumped to his feet and kicked Kirishima over. He stomped back to the manor. “Fuck you, I’m leaving!”

Kirishima instantly sobered up. Leaving? Wait- What? No Bakugou could not leave on such short notice! He would apologize, grovel, anything to make Bakugou stick around for a little longer! It would be too lonely to suddenly lose Bakugou’s company. Kirishima scrambled after Bakugou, desperation in his voice. “I’m sorry! Please don’t leave!”

Bakugou halted and turned around, his flustered anger melted away to pure confusion. He stared at Kirishima’s pleading expression and scrunched his face. “What the fuck is your problem? I’m just going to make us some lunch before we spar.”

Oh. Oh . Heat instantly filled Kirishima’s cheeks; it stood out horribly with the contrast of the black scales around his face. This was an embarrassing misunderstanding. Of course Bakugou was not going to up and completely leave over a little teasing. That was ridiculous, but his mind decided to play tricks on him anyways. While Bakugou moving into the guest room was a delightful change, it also seeded a bit of doubt in Kirishima’s thoughts. He was scared of getting too used to having the company and of how awful it would be when Bakugou finally left… Because Bakugou was not going to stay forever.

Some of this thought process must have been visible in Kirishima’s expression, because Bakugou smirked and reached out to flick Kirishima’s nose. “What? Are you afraid of me leaving? How unmanly.” With a laugh, he left Kirishima flustered and confused.

Wait. Hold up. Kirishima shook his head in an attempt to clear his muddled thoughts. Had Bakugou teased him? Bakugou had totally just teased him. The needling anxiety of Bakugou leaving evaporated with Kirishima’s large smile. He raced after Bakugou, laughing lightly. It was silly for him to be worried and dwell on the possibility of Bakugou leaving sooner rather than later when he could just ask him about it. When Bakugou was planning on leaving was not going to be affected by Kirishima asking.

Bakugou was already setting up a simple lunch when Kirishima joined him in the kitchen. He looked up briefly before rolling his eyes and focusing back on his food preparation. Kirishima laughed as he took a seat at the table. “So Bakugou-”

“Don’t talk to me if you want to eat,” Bakugou snapped.

“Oh come on you’re just making sandwiches that doesn’t-”

Kirishima shut his mouth under Bakugou’s glare. Fine, gosh. He did not understand why Bakugou was so particular about not being spoken to when making any kind of meal. It was a weird rule, but one Kirishima would follow to be fed. How it was possible for someone to make such an amazing sandwich was beyond him, but Bakugou’s sandwiches were definitely to die for. Kirishima leaned back in his chair and played with his claws as he waited.

As soon as plates were set on the table, Kirishima leaned forward with wide eyes. “How come you’re still hanging around anyways?”

Sandwich poised just about to be bitten, Bakugou paused and lowered it. He raised his brows, his mouth quirked in the hint of a grin. The scrape of the chair on the ground was painfully loud as he stood. “Well if you want me gone that much I suppose I’ll just-”

“NO!” Kirishima leaned across the table to grab Bakugou’s wrist. “I don’t want you to leave! I want the exact opposite! You being here has been the best thing ever! I love having you here!”

Bakugou’s smirk contorted into a blushing scowl as he jerked his arm away from Kirishima’s grip. “I know that you fucking loser. I’m the best damn thing to happen to your pathetic life.” He picked up his sandwich and angrily took a large bite out of it.

Laughing, Kirishima sat back down. Bakugou would not look at him, but Kirishima kept his happy smile directed right at him. “You really are the best thing to happen in my life!”

The faint pink in Bakugou’s cheeks turned bright red. He squeezed his sandwich so hard it spilled onto his plate. “What the fuck, you’re really fucking pathetic you fucking shitty hair.”

“Yeah I guess so!” Kirishima shrugged jovially. “Which is why I guess I’m worried about you leaving. I’m surprised you’ve stayed here for so long! You don’t seem like the type that would relax and stick around!

Bakugou grumbled as he reassembled his sandwich. “I get to fight you every day. You have a nice kitchen and great bath. I’m usually stuck wandering around keeping an ear out for rumors about new opponents to fight. I might as well stay here and get quality fights out of you instead of aimlessly traveling.” He took another violent bite out of his food and leveled Kirishima with a glare, as if challenging him to call his logic flawed.

Well, Kirishima was not about to argue Bakugou’s reasons for staying, but what was it with this guy? “Are you really so itching for fights you have nothing better to do than prowl around and wait for rumors about scary monsters?”

“Hah? No fuck ass! I’m not fighting monsters for nothing!” Bakugou held his head high with pride and thumped his chest. “I’m going to be the best knight in all the damn lands and everyone is going to praise my name.”

“Oh- Oh?!” Kirishima leaned forward with wide, shining eyes. Bakugou dreamed of being a knight too? Suddenly everything was put into perspective. No wonder Bakugou was actually such a nice guy! And how he knew exactly what to say after Kirishima accidentally hurt him! “We have the same dream-” His excitement dwindled as he sat back in his seat. He quietly added, “ Had the same dream.”

A trace of panic flashed in Bakugou’s eyes before he kicked Kirishima under the table. “What the fuck are you talking about you fucking hair for brains? You’re already the knight of these lands.”

Crestfallen was not a good look on Kirishima, and it did not stay long. He immediately li up and reached out for Bakugou across the table. “Aw Blasty! That’s such a nice thing for you to say!”

“Shut the fuck up! But you raised a good point. I should go into town and scope out new rumors about fearsome beasts. I can’t keep dicking around if I want to be the best.”

That was a bad idea. Kirishima shook his head. “No, no, I’ll ask next time I go to town. It’ll be really suspicious if you go into town and leave without any real business besides scoping out rumors? We’re out of the way of any place so we don’t get many passerbyers.”

“Tch. Whatever. Just find me a new monster so I can fucking kill it since you won’t die.”

Kirishima picked at his food before hesitantly asking, “Would you come back?”

Bakugou met his eyes with a scrunched up expression. “Fucking maybe.”

With the flower crown still nestled in Bakugou’s hair, that maybe felt more like a yes.


It would not stop fucking raining.

Kirishima had told him that summer storms were coming, but Bakugou was not prepared for the endless downpours that consumed the past two afternoons. At first he decided it was fine to take a lazy day and then kick Kirishima’s ass super hard when it stopped raining the following day. But then it was pouring again when he woke up the next day. They tried sparring inside, but the spacious gardens had spoiled them. So Bakugou demanded they fought in the rain.

That just ended with them soaking wet, shivering, and miserable.

So when the rain persisted for a third day in a row, Bakugou decided it was time to reorganize the kitchen to make it his own. He was not sure how much longer he would be sticking around at Kirishima’s manor, but he would be damned if he had to spend one more day searching for cooking supplies.

It was still raining when Bakugou finished rearranging the kitchen, much to his annoyance. He started a slow cook pot roast for dinner and whipped up a small snack for lunch. Without much physical activity the past few days, there was little need to eat multiple large meals. As Bakugou finished cutting the various fruits for their snack, he realized something was missing. Someone was missing. Kirishima had not wandered down to bother him once all day. That was weird. He was used to Kirishima bothering him at every waking moment.

Brows knit in confusion–and perhaps the tiniest nagging sense of concern–Bakugou set out in search for the shitty haired idiot. The first floor resulted in no signs of life, but Bakugou hardly saw Kirishima hanging out downstairs anyways. Actually, now that he gave it some thought, he had no idea where Kirishima liked to spend his time in the manor. Bakugou only ever spent time in the kitchen, vast wash room, and what had become his room. The two of them never hung out or anything like that. They just happened to both be doing the same things most the time…

What the hell did shitty hair do with his time before Bakugou came around anyways?

Investigations took him upstairs and Kirishima’s room turned up empty as well. Bakugou bit at his lip, not nervously, definitely not worried. He was maybe just a little concerned. If only because it would suck if he lost Kirishima as a sparring partner just as Kirishima started fighting better. He checked several more empty rooms, not bothering to pay attention to what they held as soon as he registered no signs of life. Bakugou eventually found himself in front of a large set of doors at the end of the hall. They were heavy to open, but once the momentum started, they swung open on their own accord with a low thud.

The distinct smell of books filled his nostrils before the sight of countless bookshelves registered in his vision. Wow. Bakugou had no idea this room existed. Not that he had cared to ask or look, but still. The sheer amount of books was almost overwhelming. Bakugou had been raised in a small town not unlike this one, and even with his schooling in the city he could not say he had ever seen so many books at once like this. He really wanted to read some…

“Oh! Hey!” Kirishima’s cheerful voice snapped Bakugou out of his thoughts.

At first, Bakugou had no idea where Kirishima was, but then a mass of cushions and blankets started to move and flaming red hair popped into view. Kirishima excavated himself from his fort and bounced to his feet with a giant smile. His gaze zoned in on the plate of fruit Bakugou held.

“Aw? Did you bring me a snack? That’s so sweet of yo-”

“No dipshit!” Bakugou grabbed an apple slice and bit into it angrily. Fuck Kirishima for making a big deal about every little thing Bakugou did. “I made a snack for myself and I was just wandering around looking for a place to eat. Now I’m going to eat it all by myself and read a book now that I’m here!”

“You can read?”

Bakugou fixed a furious glare on Kirishima as he shoved a handful of fruit in his mouth.

Kirishima’s smile fell into a playful pout. “Don’t be that way, Blasty. There’s totally too much food on that plate for you to have planned on eating it alone. You’ll spoil your dinner if you eat it all~”

Bakugou flicked his middle finger up at Kirishima, but did not bother arguing. He was caught and he really did not want to eat everything just to stick it to Kirishima. “Shut up or I’m not letting you have any of the dinner I’m making.”

Food was always a good threat to make Kirishima shut the hell up. He dutifully closed his mouth and pleadingly looked to the plate. Bakugou rolled his eyes and held it out to the idiot, who quickly raced over and snatched it from Bakugou’s hand before he changed his mind.

“Dumbass,” Bakugou grumbled as he left Kirishima to stuff his face in search of an interesting read. He collected a decent amount of potential books to decide from and turned to the closest armchair. It was gutted. A quick glance around the room concluded that all the furniture were gutted of their cushions and pillows. Bakugou snarled and turned toward Kirishima, only to realize he had already disappeared back into his fort. What the fuck? Was he a fucking child?

Bakugou kicked at one of the cushions creating a wall and a shrill yell resounded from inside the fort. “Don’t destroy my fort you asshole! Just get in here if you wanna read!”

He really did not want to go into the fucking pillow fort.

Dammit he was going to go into the fucking pillow fort.

“You’re a goddamned child, did you know that?” Bakugou said under his breath as he tossed his books into the opening and climbed in after them.

In Kirishima’s defense, it was a pretty awesome pillow fort. He set the fort up in a corner, so there were two solid walls to support the structure. With so many blankets and pillows inside the fort, it was basically a nest of softness. Kirishima was nestled in the corner of the wall, practically buried in a pile of pillows. He looked… Ridiculously stupid. Yeah.

Bakugou scowled in response to Kirishima’s smile and sat up against the wall close enough to Kirishima so that he could easily reach the plate of fruit. Kirishima was surprisingly silent. He did not try to strike up a conversation, just curled into his book and continued reading. It was a nice change of pace.

Each selected book went through a review process, reading a couple of pages at the beginning to help him decide which he wanted to read first. About three books in, Bakugou had to pause and break the silence. “What the fuck is this?” He held up the book in question, which had perfect circular holes in several pages, as well as slices on the edges. “Did you have a fight with it or something?”

Kirishima looked up and flushed bright red. “Aw man, dude, you just had to pick one of those, didn’t you?”

Bakugou just raised his brows in response and flipped to another damaged page, waiting for an answer.

“Stop! I get it! Augh!” Kirishima covered his face as he whined. “I really struggled dealing with my claws when I was first cursed! I cut into everything ! It was awful! I had to throw out a lot of stuff, but I tried my best to only accidentally damage the edges of book pages!”

“Hah. Idiot.” Bakugou smirked and settled down with the damaged book. This seemed like the perfect one to read now.

Kirishima’s eyes bugged out of his head. “You’re not going to read that one are you?! Bakugou! Honestly! It’s embarrassing!”

“Try and stop me.” Bakugou opened to the first page and started to read.

Silent energy filled the space next to him, but Kirishima accepted defeat with a small sigh. He curled into his corner again to continue reading his own book.

They remained like that for a while. The plate of fruit slowly dwindled down and was kicked away once empty. The soft patter of rain set a relaxing ambiance in the library. Through their shifting and fidgeting, they ended up rather close to each other by the time Bakugou had to go check on dinner. Kirishima’s feet were a scant few inches from Bakugou’s when he pulled away and crawled out of the fort.

He did not think much about it.

The rain let up the following day and they were able to spar until they collapsed in the grass together.

When Bakugou woke up to rain again, there seemed to be an unspoken agreement as to how the afternoon would be spent. He made a small snack and joined Kirishima in the pillow fort to start a new book from his original pile. Eventually the plate was kicked away again and Kirishima wiggled into the space it once resided. They brushed arms every once and awhile as they turned pages; their feet ended up tangled together underneath the blanket.

Even when summer storms did not lock them inside, Bakugou found himself seeking out the library in his free time between sparring and cooking. It was a peaceful space and he was enraptured by the selection of books. Kirishima kept to a strict schedule of chores and with the afternoon storms disrupting a lot of his self-assigned duties, he had to use a lot of the dry afternoons to play catch up. His presence was not unwelcome when he was able to join Bakugou, however. Bakugou found himself almost enjoying the warmth of Kirishima at his side.

It was easy to fall into a peaceful schedule with an endless supply of good books to read. Bakugou could not remember the last time he had allowed himself to just relax and learn. He really enjoyed learning new things and books provided a wealth of knowledge he could never gain otherwise. As Bakugou worked his way through his first pile of books, and then started a second pile, Kirishima kept sitting closer and closer.

Soon enough it was commonplace for them to be leaning on each other as they read. On stormy afternoons, Kirishima’s warmth was even more welcome. Bakugou did not hold any qualms in letting their legs tangle together as they sat even closer together. He even did not think much of Kirishima occasionally sprawling out across his lap. Bakugou just rested his book or elbows on Kirishima’s body and continued reading. It was like having an oversized housecat and Kirishima was certainly warmer than any blanket.

One evening, after a particularly vigorous spar and early dinner, they found their way to the library to get in a little read time before the daylight completely disappeared. Bakugou read through his latest book with a purpose. He really wanted to finish it before it got too dark to continue reading. His book moved closer and closer to his face as the light in the room dwindled. It finally got the point he could not strain through the moonlight any longer. “Hey Kirishima, can we light a lamp or something safely near the fort, or no?”

The heavy weight on his lap did not show any signs of hearing the question. Kirishima hardly shifted, except for the heavy, even movement of his chest in his deep breaths. Bakugou raised his lip in annoyance and leaned down to better see Kirishima’s face in the dark. Motherfucker was fast asleep on top of him. Unbelievable.

“Hey, shitstain. Wake up and get off of me.” Bakugou shook him none too gently.

Kirishima sighed and shifted just enough to snuggle his face against Bakugou’s arm.

Gross. Bakugou’s heart definitely did a little skip out of pure disgust.

He scowled and shoved Kirishima off of him, but even that did not wake up the slumbering beast. Bakugou was half tempted to explode his face, but… It was rather late. Kirishima did go to sleep pretty early, and Bakugou knew the idiot for some god awful reason woke up ridiculously early every morning. He gnawed the inside of his cheek before letting out a disgruntled sigh. If Kirishima gave him any shit in the morning he was going to smother him in this pillow fort.

Bakugou crawled out of the fort. He rearranged the blanket opening so he could pick up Kirishima without toppling the entire structure. Kirishima was surprisingly lighter than he appeared; Bakugou had expected his scales to contribute to some extra weight. It took no effort at all to carry him down the hall. He had to shift Kirishima over his shoulder to open the door to his bedroom, but Kirishima hardly reacted to the manhandling.

With zero consideration, Bakugou dropped Kirishima on his bed. Kirishima merely smacked his lips and curled into his pillows. What a dumbass. He was damned lucky that Bakugou did not want to try to kill him anymore, honestly. The moonlight lit Kirishima’s room better than the library. It was bright enough to make out the details of Kirishima’s face.

Kirishima looked peaceful sleeping like this. Without that giant dumbass grin of his, he actually managed to not look like a total idiot. Though, as Bakugou closed the door behind him, he could not help but think that he preferred Kirishima with that stupid grin.


“Hey Blasty-”

“Don’t fucking call me that. Don’t fucking talk to me.”

Kirishima sighed and draped himself across the kitchen table. “Oh come on, you call me shitty hair and hair for brains all the time. Why can’t I call you Blasty?”

Bakugou pointed the knife in Kirishima’s direction with narrowed eyes. “Because I’m holding a knife.”

Fair point. Not that it really mattered considering no measly kitchen knife was going to hurt Kirishima, but the point was made. “Okay, Bakugou. Be pissy. Anyways, I was wondering if you could teach me how to cook!”

“No.”

Well that was an immediate answer. Kirishima whined and tapped his claws on the wood. “Why not? It’s really cool how you’re such a good cook! I wanna learn from the best! Besides, it’s not fair that you always cook for us!”

It was obvious Bakugou really did not want to be having this conversation from the wrinkles in his brow. He stared at Kirishima’s hopeful smile, then set the knife down with a heavy sigh. “Yeah actually. You should pull your own fucking weight some time.”

Kirishima leaped to his feet with an elated whoop. He had not actually expected Bakugou to agree. This was awesome! He bounced on the balls of his feet to join Bakugou at the counter. Bakugou looked the exact opposite of excited. He looked pained to have agreed to this. This was fantastic. “So what are we doing first, Chef Blasty?”

Bakugou grabbed the knife and slammed it into Kirishima’s hand. The knife crumpled up to the hilt and Kirishima just continued to smile unwaveringly. “What the fuck you shit head?” Bakugou scowled and tossed the knife away. “You ruin a perfectly good knife with your shitty scales.”

“Um- Technically you kinda did that because you-”

“I warned you what would happen if you called me that again. It’s your fault.”

That was kinda true, kinda not true. But no point in arguing when he already won getting some cooking lessons from Bakugou. Kirishima smiled and shrugged in apology. “Sorry, sorry, what’s the first step?”

With another long suffering sigh, Bakugou pulled out a new knife. “Tell me what your usual cooking process entails. How much fucking work do I have to do.”

Kirishima crossed his arms in thought. Usually he just ate and did not think much about how he made it. “Well I guess you could say that my meals were mostly centered around meat before you came along! And everything was separate! I kinda only ever mixed stuff together for soup and stuff, but my soup never tasted as good as yours does!”

He had to hold back laughter at the absolutely appalled expression on Bakugou’s face.

“How have you not died by now?”

“Hey, I kept balanced diets! It all might not have tasted great, but I kept myself well fed!”

Bakugou rolled his eyes and shoved the kitchen knife into Kirishima’s hand. “Listen up. This is going to be an ongoing process because there is no way I’m going to be able to teach you how to be decent cook in one day. Today you’re starting off with learning how to cut fucking vegetables correctly.”

He was getting multiple lessons out of this? Jackpot! Kirishima’s smile would have been infectious with anyone else, but it seemed to only make Bakugou’s scowl deepen. That was okay, because Kirishima loved Bakugou’s stupid scowl. It was too cute how he managed to scrunch his face up like that constantly. It was surprising Bakugou’s face had not gotten stuck.?

Kirishima gripped the knife and rocked on the balls of his feet. “Okay Chef Bakugou, what do you want me to cut?”

With a sigh that sounded as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulder, Bakugou placed a couple of onions in front of Kirishima. “You’re going to dice these first and-” He grabbed Kirishima’s wrist to stop him from the cut he was about to make. “What the fuck is fucking wrong with you?”

“Um-” Kirishima stared at the onion, the knife, then back at Bakugou. “I don’t know?”

Bakugou growled and moved Kirishima’s pointer finger from the top of the knife to grip the handle. “You don’t hold fucking knives like that dipshit. Don’t do that dumb finger sticking out shit.”

Really ?!” Kirishima stared at his hand in awe. It felt weird to hold the knife that way, but damn he would take Bakugou’s word on it! He focused intently on the first onion and very slowly made his first chop. Not too bad… However, Kirishima only got halfway through that onion before Bakugou let out another annoyed growl.

“It’s not that fucking hard!” Bakugou stepped behind Kirishima and slid his arms around him to guide Kirishima’s hands. He used Kirishima’s hands to finish the first onion and was saying something, but none of his words reached Kirishima’s comprehension.

They had gotten closer recently, yeah. Kirishima would go as far to say they cuddled together when reading in the library. But that physical closeness was different. It was a sense of sharing space and they were too focused on reading to really pay attention to how they were touching each other. It was intimate in a casual way. This. This was real damn close. Bakugou’s entire front was pressed into Kirishima’s back and his breath tickled his neck. And his arms. Holy shit his arms .

Kirishima knew Bakugou’s arms were muscular, but there was a difference between seeing them and feeling them wrapped around his body. He could feel the movement of Bakugou’s muscles as he moved Kirishima’s hands to cut the onions. Bakugou’s chest was so solid too. And Kirishima could feel his heart thudding against his back. Could Bakugou feel how fast Kirishima’s pulse was racing? Did he notice and not care? Honestly the only saving grace of this situation was the rough gloves covering Bakugou’s hands. Kirishima was certain his focus would be unsalvageable if he knew what Bakugou’s hands felt like around his own.

Oh. Oh god. Kirishima felt a cold sweat wash over him. His mouth went dry. Blood drained from his face. And he felt extremely uncomfortable.

When one spent the entirety of their teenage years in solitude, getting worked up over some basic physical contact was to be expected. But it was still positively mortifying.

Please don’t notice. Please don’t notice. Please don’t notice ,” Kirishima chanted mentally as Bakugou took his sweet time cutting those damn onions. How many damn onions did they need anyways? Bakugou was definitely still saying things. Oh god what in the world was he saying? Kirishima could not understand a word over the loud rush of thumping veins in his ears.

Sweet relief came as Bakugou let go of Kirishima’s hands and stepped to the side. “Got it?” He asked, clearly oblivious to the internal crisis Kirishima was experiencing. When Kirishima did not give an immediate response, Bakugou leaned into his space again. “It’s not that hard, dumbass.”

Kirishima snapped back to reality with Bakugou’s face so close to his own. He burst into hysterical laughter and took a step closer to the counter. “No, yeah! I get it! Just processing! Um- You cut all the onions though! What should I do next?”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes, but did not question Kirishima’s odd behavior. He dropped some potatoes in Kirishima’s workspace, as well as a peeler. “Dice these into bigger chunks after you peel them. You don’t need to be taught how to peel a potato, do you?”

“Nope! I’m good!” Kirishima quickly said before Bakugou decided to resume his teaching method. He picked up the peeler and got to work, pointedly not looking to Bakugou’s direction.

Thankfully, Bakugou decided not to pry into Kirishima’s weird behavior. In fact, Kirishima was pretty sure Bakugou always thought he was weird so this probably was not even phasing him. At least, that was what Kirishima hoped. Once they were both invested with their tasks, Kirishima chanced to glance over in Bakugou’s direction. He looked completely unaffected by the weird way Kirishima was acting. No signs of recognition or blushes of understanding. Kirishima hunched his shoulders and focused on peeling the potatoes. If Bakugou was planning on teaching everything the same way he did with the knife work, Kirishima was positive he was going to die of heart failure. He glanced at Bakugou again, watched the way his arms rippled with movement as he worked. Heart failure was not the worst way to go.


It was weird, feeling at peace somewhere away from home. Peaceful was not an emotion Bakugou felt often. He felt content, had a neutral state of course, but he had been on the road traveling for so long he had come to relish the peace of visiting his home. When he was home, Bakugou could let all his guards down. He did not have to worry about making camp, or keeping track of his finances in an inn. There was no concern of keeping an eye on his surroundings or being ready for a fight. It was the only place he could let go of everything and just exist. Well, it had been the only place.

Bakugou looked down at the snoozing idiot in his lap. How had this happened? This had started with the intentions of pissing Kirishima off to make him fight ferociously. It was supposed to last a week, maybe two. But now it was getting to two whole months Bakugou stayed put, and he would be fine staying for two more. The thought itself was unsettling, but Bakugou did not let this sense of comfort send him into a panic. There was inherently nothing wrong with having some down time. He spent longer than a couple of months relaxing at home when there were no monsters to hunt down. This was nothing new, just somewhere different.

He set his book down, it was not like he was actually reading at this point. These thoughts had been plaguing him the past couple of days. Perhaps since he agreed to help teach Kirishima how to cook. It was an activity he had never shared with anyone else before. His mother taught him at a young age and it had become something of a private task Bakugou enjoyed. And yet, he decided to let Kirishima into his world and cook with him. Bakugou wanted to be annoyed, mad at Kirishima for getting so close to him, but he could not lie to himself. He truly enjoyed this–dare he think it–friendship he developed with Kirishima.

The guy was insufferable, no doubt about that. He was relentlessly and obnoxiously cheerful. And yet, perhaps that was why they got along so well. Kirishima somehow understood Bakugou, even when Bakugou really wished he would not. No one had ever truly gotten him like Kirishima did. Sure, Bakugou had acquaintances when he was a kid. Perhaps some of them he called friends at the time, but he hardly ever gave those relationships a second thought. Whenever Bakugou left to continue his journeys, he would actually fucking miss this idiot’s company.

Lip raised in disgust at the sheer thought, Bakugou flicked Kirishima’s nose. The slumbering fool just mumbled in his sleep and shifted so he could bury his face in Bakugou’s thigh. Bakugou sighed and rested a hand in Kirishima’s stupid hair. It was surprising how pliant the red tresses were despite sticking straight up from Kirishima’s scalp. Bakugou ran his gloved fingers through the spikes and bent his arm so he could feel how soft the strands really were. It would probably feel real nice to pet Kirishima’s hair with his bare hands. Kirishima shifted in his sleep again and Bakugou froze, even if he knew there was no way a few light pats would wake Kirishima up. In the dim light of the pillow fort, Bakugou could just barely make out the content expression on Kirishima’s face. He scoffed and leaned his head back against the wall, but continued running his fingers through Kirishima’s hair.

Kirishima was fighting harder with each passing day. Even the rain keeping them locked indoors did little to hamper his progress. Their fights were long, gritty, exhilarating. Bakugou was used to fighting monsters. They were strong, but they were still strageticless beasts. Kirishima had the strength of those monsters and the wits to keep Bakugou on his toes. He had a few more clean cuts on his skin, but he wore the bandages with a content pride. The only reason Kirishima was even using his claws in their fights was because of Bakugou. It was proof of how serious Kirishima was that Bakugou had his wounds. Besides, he won almost all of their sparring matches, so it was not as if the bandages were a sign of his defeat.

And yet, despite all the reasoning to want to stay, Bakugou felt the coming itch of wanderlust. He was not being stagnant in his goals, for sparring with Kirishima was without a doubt building his strength and battle smarts. But Bakugou had high aspirations and he needed to know if there was a new potential monster for him to slay. Bakugou sighed and twirled Kirishima’s hair around his fingers. Hopefully there were not any new rumors just yet and he could enjoy these days a little longer.


Kirishima giggled to himself as he dug his fingers into the warm soil of his garden. The sun slowly climbed higher in the sky as he pulled weeds. There was perhaps another hour or so before Bakugou finally rolled out of bed, but even still Kirishima’s mind was filled with thoughts of his grumpy friend. He was the happiest he had been in years. Definitely the happiest since he was cursed, maybe even the happiest since his mother died. Bakugou was crass, rude, violent–honestly had nothing going for him personality wise–and yet he was so much fun to spend time with. The small gestures of kindness Bakugou showed were enough to send Kirishima over the moon.

He was not too sure how Bakugou felt about him. Surely he also thought they were friends, right? Bakugou let Kirishima snuggle with him while they read in the library and was teaching him how to cook. Bakugou even carried Kirishima to bed whenever he fell asleep on him! At least, Kirishima assumed he did since he never could remember whether or not he dragged himself to bed by himself or not. He would ask, but then Bakugou would probably stop if he was doing it. Kirishima was content with the mystery and the hope that Bakugou was carrying him to bed. He had a lot of hopes about Bakugou, really.

The sun continued to rise high in the sky and kissed his scales as he sat back on his heels. Kirishima thought about Bakugou’s cute blushes and sly kindness. He thought about the way Bakugou’s face contorted in scowls that had so many different meanings. Bakugou scowled when he was angry, scowled when he was embarrassed. It was not farfetched to think he was Bakugou’s closest friend, maybe even his only friend.

“Hey! Asswipe! I made some fucking lunch, get in here and eat!” Bakugou’s voice traveled across the garden from where he stood at the back kitchen door.

Kirishima laughed and bounced to his feet, wiping the dirt coating his hands on his pants. Was it too farfetched to think maybe Bakugou could develop romantic feelings for him?

Was it too much to hope Bakugou could be his true love?

Chapter Text

“Just let me go with you.”

Kirishima paused in the winding of his bandages to level Bakugou with an unamused stare. They were in the kitchen, Bakugou finishing up a small lunch and Kirishima slowly putting together his disguise for town. This was an argument of the past couple of days and really, at this point, Bakugou felt the need to ask just to not seem suspicious.

“For the last time Bakugou! No! I’m supposed to be a hermit living up in the woods! What kind of hermit has guests that come to visit? Answer. None!”

Bakugou shrugged and leaned against the counter, waving his knife cavalierly. “I could be a relative or something. Hermits still have family. You’re all wrapped up anyways, no one could even question that we look nothing alike.”

With the final wrap of bandages, Kirishima looked pretty ridiculous. His horns forced him to pile the bandages up on his head way higher than any normal person would have them. Bakugou was astounded no one in the village questioned the supposed deformity that made Kirishima’s head so tall. Then again, they were a bunch of rural idiots so it was not too surprising. Despite his face completely wrapped, Kirishima’s exasperated expression was still all too easy to read.

“No mean no, Bakugou. I feel like I’m speaking with a toddler!”

A sly smile pulled at Bakugou’s mouth as he set his knife down and picked up Kirishima’s plate. “Oh. Then I suppose you don’t want this toddler’s food made for you. I’ll just go chuck it outside-”

“No- Dammit- Yes I want to eat before I go!” Kirishima leaped across the kitchen and snatched the plate away from Bakugou. Just to be extra cautious he would not lose his lunch, he hunkered around it and took a giant bite. He pointed at Bakugou, still chewing, “Stop being a jerk just because you’re not getting your way!”

Bakugou scowled at Kirishima’s disgusting manners and took his lunch to the table. “Don’t speak with your mouth full, toddler.”

Kirishima stuck his tongue out and remained squatting on the floor to finish eating. He probably thought he had won this argument. Bakugou smirked and leaned back in his chair. Dumbass.

As Kirishima cleaned up the kitchen and completed his disguise, Bakugou watched with a bored expression. Heavy gloves covering his claws and hood drawn to minimize the height of his horns, Kirishima look every bit the weirdo that lived deep in the woods in solitude. The cheerful smile that made its way through the bandages and the shadows of his hood really diminished the look. Rural villagers were really stupid.

“You know, your villagers love you so much, I doubt they would care you’ve been the not-so-terrifying beast all along.”

The change of topic caught Kirishima off guard. He stared at Bakugou with wide eyes for a moment, as if in disbelief Bakugou was not harassing him again to accompany him to town. Kirishima sighed heavily and fidgeted with his hood. “They like me now when I’m just a weird disfigured hermit… But the rest of the world isn’t like you, Bakugou. I’m not human looking anymore! Normal people would be terrified of me.”

Kirishima pulled his hood further down his face.  “Not to mention I’ve known all of these people most of my life, so I wouldn’t be able to handle them rejecting me if they knew.”

“That’s dumb.” Bakugou rested his chin in his palm and appraised Kirishima with a level stare. Sure, some of what he said made sense, but looking at him all bandaged up he looked even weirder than with his scales. “You’re honestly not that scary looking and you’ve only ever helped the villagers. They’d be dumb shits to hate you for being cursed. Not to mention it’d let you stop this dumb disguise act and I could go to town like I want-”

“Oh my god!” Kirishima threw his hands in the air in exasperation. “I knew you being nice was too good to be true! You’re staying here! That’s final!” He grabbed his pack in a huff and stomped out the door.

Kirishima tromped down the path to the town and did not take a second glance back. Bakugou waited with a smug grin until Kirishima’s figure disappeared into the forest to jump into action. Kirishima was full of shit if he thought Bakugou was actually going to listen to him and stay home when he did not want to. Fuck that shit. They may be getting along and maybe even kinda sorta unspoken friends, but Bakugou was not about to listen to that shit hair for brains. He already had a bag packed to look like he was traveling and threw on his cloak as he went out the back door.

Sure, Kirishima promised to ask around about rumors of new monsters, but Bakugou wanted to hear the words for himself. Bakugou trusted Kirishima to share what he learned, but he doubted Kirishima would ask the right questions. Kirishima was not as dumb as Bakugou liked to make him out to be, but he also was not the smartest. There was also that bad taste in Bakugou’s mouth at the thought of relying on someone else to gather information for his aspirations.

Bakugou was independent to a fault afterall.

Even taking the widest path around the town to get to the main road, Bakugou knew he had plenty of time to make it back before Kirishima did. The guy was way too popular for someone that was supposed to be a hermit, and always came back late in the afternoon burdened with gifts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. There was little doubt in Bakugou’s mind that Kirishima stopped and talked at length with every single person that gave him a gift. It seemed like the kind of bullshit Kirishima would love.

The town was surprisingly bigger than Bakugou expected. When traversing the countryside, he had hardly gotten a glimpse of the settlement and assumed it was more of a dinky collection of rural homes. Kirishima talking about the townspeople had raised the size a little bit in Bakugou’s mind, but he still expected it to be fairly small since Kirishima spoke as if he knew every single person living there. Knowing Kirishima, he surely did know everyone, but that number was much more impressive now that Bakugou could see it. No wonder it took Kirishima an entire day to visit.

Bakugou kept his hood raised as he continued down the main road into town. Those he passed paid him no mind.  He was able to make it to the town square until someone noticed he was visitor. It was market day and the square was bustling with activity, but even with the crowd the first stall he passed had the vendor calling to him, “Hello there traveler! What brings you to our little town!”

Jerk reaction was to scowl and snark a reply, but Bakugou quickly bit his tongue and forced his attempt of an agreeable expression as he lowered his hood. It was a good thing the first vendor he passed reached out to him, meant less people for him to potentially interact with who could give him away to Kirishima. “Good morning,” he said with a gruff tone. The vendor seemed a bit taken aback, so Bakugou quickly answered his question. “I’ve been on the road and it has been some time since I’ve passed through civilization. Just wanted to hear the recent news that may have come this way before I continued on my journey.”

The chance to gossip changed the vendor’s demeanor immediately. He leaned across his stall and began jabbering away about conflict in distant kingdoms, rumors of royal marriages, the latest achievements of the greatest knight in the land. Bakugou nodded and gave his best act of attentiveness, but the longer the vendor spoke and did not mention any new beasts or monsters, the harder it was for Bakugou to keep up the act. He could not care less about local politics or royals. The only interesting thing was about knight activity.

Bakugou crossed his arms and leaned in closer to the vendor. He might as well play ignorant and take a chance asking directly. “I’m actually a traveling monster slayer.” He said under his breath. The vendor’s eyes lit up. “I’ve just come from a distant kingdom, could you point me in a good direction to head for news of such beasts?”

“Your luck is unbelievable my friend!” Friend? When the fuck did they become friends? The vendor grabbed Bakugou’s hand with a giant smile that did not waver even when Bakugou jerked away with a scowl. “We have a fearsome monster right in these very forests!”

Oh fuck.

Somehow Bakugou managed to completely forget that Kirishima was, in fact, a beast of rumors that had brought him to this place to begin with. Bakugou raised his brows, trying to appear surprised and interested. Acting was not his strong suit. Thankfully the vendor took it as cue enough to keep speaking. He leaned further over his stall and pointed across the square toward a covered figure. Kirishima. Hold up-

“We have written to the king many times to send troops to help us, but they won’t send any knights to kill it because it has never attacked the village! But it has been keeping the old lord’s son captive all these years!”

Bakugou bit his lip to hold back a snort. No way-

“That is Eijirou across the square there. We suspect he has made some sort of deal with the beast that killed his father to keep us safe! Please save him!”

This was unreal. Bakugou had to speak through gritted teeth to contain his laughter. “So the entire village knows of him and yet no knights have been dispatched to help?”

The vendor took Bakugou’s strained expression as indignation and nodded desperately. “We got a response once that we cannot be sure our suspicions are correct and so the king cannot afford to send men to help when none of his citizens are for sure in danger. But we know! Eijirou pretends to be a hermit living in the woods, but it’s clearly him! He’s always been such a bright and loving boy.” The vendor stared at Kirishima’s figure as he lowered his voice even more. “We fear he’s developed some sort of stockholm syndrome for the thing. He’s always making excuses and trying to downplay the monster’s terror.”

Bakugou took a sharp intake of air and desperately fought off hysterics. The villagers were not as dumb as he thought. Kirishima was the dumb one for thinking they would fall for his hermit act. This whole time, the whole damn time the townsfolk knew who he was! Fucking unbelievable. The funniest part though, was they thought Kirishima, the beast, was being held hostage by the beast, who was in fact Kirishima. Comedy fucking gold!

“That is concerning! It seems I really have lucked out chancing upon this town,” Bakugou said airily, still fighting his snickers. “Thank you for the information, I think I will go observe these forests myself. Perhaps, keep my presence a secret for now. I will return after I’m done investigating.”

The vendor nodded excitedly and pressed a pastry into Bakugou’s gloved hands. “Thank you so much kind traveler! We’ve been praying for someone to free Eijirou for years!”

Too bad the only thing imprisoning Kirishima was his own insecurities. Bakugou waved off the vendor and pulled his hood back up. This trip had been such a great idea. Not only was he able to assure himself there were no new monsters in the lands, but he discovered quite the titillating secret. If it were not for the fact he had to keep this venture a secret, Bakugou would have so much fun teasing Kirishima about his damn idiocy.

The whole time they knew! Kirishima was such a dumbass! Bakugou allowed himself a small snicker as he crossed the square away from the vendor he spoke with. As he took a bite of the pastry, Kirishima’s distinct and loud laughter drew his attention. Kirishima had moved to another stall and was talking animatedly with some girl.

No shit no one believed Kirishima’s hermit story when he went around acting like that. Bakugou paused in an alley with a clear line of sight of Kirishima and the girl. She was standing real close to him with a stupid giant smile. Whatever she said had Kirishima peeling with laughter again, so much so he had to lean against her for support. She burst into giggles and struggled to keep both of them standing with her small stature. Bakugou had no doubt Kirishima’s smile was just as stupid and big as hers. No, actually, Bakugou could clearly see Kirishima’s stupid smile in his mind. His was way bigger than that girl’s.

Kirishima threw an arm around the girl’s shoulders in a half hug as they continued giggling with each other. She leaned into him without a second thought. Well they were chummy. Bakugou narrowed his eyes and shoved the rest of the pastry in his mouth. That girl probably would not be so damn comfortable with Kirishima if she knew what he looked like under all his bandages and clothing.

They hugged again and started walking together across the square, so Bakugou took that as his cue to get back to the manor. He made it back under the cover of the forest without anyone else noticing him. The sun was high and filtered through the trees, but it would be close to setting by the time Kirishima made it home. Bakugou raised his lip and kicked at a stone in the path. Did Kirishima spend all his time in town with that girl? He wanted to believe he just acted chummy with everyone, but… Kirishima had slowly worked up to a physical closeness with Bakugou and they had been living together for weeks! What was so special about that girl?

He paused in the middle of the path and flexed his hands. What if… Was it possible Kirishima liked her? Did he want her to be his true love to break his curse? The thought twisted Bakugou’s stomach and furrowed his brows. What did it matter if that were the case? It was not any of Bakugou’s business who Kirishima wanted to be his true love.

Bakugou scuffed the ground with the toe of his boot and resumed walking with a low growl. Despite knowing it was none of his business, Bakugou knew he would be lying to himself if he tried to say he did not care. Why did he care? He sneered at the scenery as his brain worked for an answer. Perhaps it was because Kirishima was the first person Bakugou could say he honestly cared about outside of his family in a long time. As a friend it was Bakugou’s duty to be concerned about Kirishima’s feeling on some level, right?

Yeah, that sounded right.

That girl did not deserve Kirishima’s affections if she did not know about his curse. Hell, no one in that damn village deserved to hear Kirishima’s laughter if they could not accept him scales and all. Kirishima was just wasting his time keeping his curse a secret from the town, when clearly they all cared about him. If Kirishima really wanted to end his curse, he had to tell that damn girl about it.

If she happened to reject him for his scales, well fuck it, she was not good enough for Kirishima anyways.


Kirishima was never hungry after his visits to the village because of all the food the townsfolk pushed on him, so Bakugou did not bother waiting up for him to have dinner. The sun was already past the horizon when Kirishima finally made it back to the manor. Bakugou could hear him moving around downstairs from his spot in the blanket fort, but made no move to join him.

Sure enough, Kirishima entered the library with a lit lantern and a basket of muffins. “Were you reading here all day?” He asked with an easy laugh as he climbed into the fort and secured the lantern on the wall where they had cleared the blankets so Bakugou could read later into the night.

Bakugou grunted a noncommittal response and kept his gaze on his book. He had been staring at the same page since he heard Kirishima come home, but had to keep up appearances so not to make Kirishima’s suspicious. Kirishima’s easy laugh sent a pang of discomfort through Bakugou’s chest, and his warmth as he flopped down next to Bakugou and pressed into his side made his stomach flip. These actions were nothing new. Emotions were weird.

“Aw is someone still grumpy I didn’t let him go to town with me?”

Not quite.

“I brought yummies! Don’t be upset with me, Blasty!” Kirishima pushed one of the muffins into Bakugou’s face with an expectant grin.

“Fucking- What have I said about calling me that!” Bakugou snatched the muffin away with a scowl, but still took a large bite out of it. “And I’m not upset, shut up. I was just finishing the page I was on.”

Kirishima’s grin said he still thought otherwise, but he kept his mouth shut and slid down the wall to better snuggle into Bakuguo’s side. He closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh; Bakugou could feel all the tension in Kirishima’s body evaporate. It was a natural response by now to slide his fingers into Kirishima’s hair when they were like this, so Bakugou did not think twice as he began to trace the base of Kirishima’s horns as he worked through the red strands.

Not one to wait, especially since he had spent the entire rest of the day festering in his thoughts, Bakugou asked, “Do you have someone you hope can break your curse?”

Tension returned to Kirishima’s limbs and his breath hitched. Bakugou felt himself tense in response and forced himself to relax and act natural. What the hell, why was Kirishima acting like this about that girl? Ever so slowly, Kirishima looked up to Bakugou with narrow eyes. “That’s kinda random. Why you asking?”

Bakugou had played his story enough that it was an easy lie. He shrugged and continued playing with Kirishima’s hair. “You always seem really excited to go to the village even though you need to get so covered up. Not to mention you were so adamant about me not going with you. I was just thinking there was someone there you got your eye on.”

Just like that, Kirishima relaxed one more. He laughed under his breath and nestled his face into Bakugou again. That- That was the opposite kind of reaction Bakugou was expecting. What the hell? Why was Kirishima so goddamn confusing? Silence settled over them and Bakugou realized Kirishima was not going to answer him. He grabbed Kirishima’s horns to flip him onto his back and glared down at him. “What the fuck, hair for brains. I asked you a question.”

Kirishima stared up at him with his bright smile and joyous laugh. “Sorry! Spaced out for a second!” He wiggled around to better use Bakugou’s thigh as a pillow and stretched his arms into the air. “Nah, there’s no one in the village I have a crush on or anything like that.”

It was hard to tell with the warm glow of the lantern, but it seemed like Kirishima’s cheeks were red under his dark scales. Why was his reaction seemingly different than the words coming out of his mouth? Bakugou narrowed his eyes and flicked Kirishima’s forehead, an indication he wanted him to keep talking.

Kirishima swat Bakugou’s hand away with a small noise of protest. “That’s not to say I don’t have hope about finding true love though! I mean, the world is full of surprises you know? My true love could come out of nowhere and cure me one day!”

What a stupidly optimistic way of seeing things. Bakugou expected no less out of Kirishima. He rolled his eyes as he said as much. Kirishima just laughed with a shrug.

“Yeah, I guess so, but I can’t help but be optimistic, y’know?” He held up his arm so the flicker of the lantern reflected off the red of his scales. “My scales have been slowly spreading the past year. I have no idea when it started, but I just noticed there seemed to be more one day and have been keeping a close eye ever since.”

“Hah?” Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s arm and squinted at the scales wrapping around the top. The underside of his arm was still primarily skin, but there were still scales creeping into the area. Whether or not that was the case when Bakugou first arrived, he could not say. “Have they spread any while I’ve been here?”

“Only a little bit, really. Like I said, it’s been real slow.” Kirishima lifted his leg and pulled back his pants. “Actually the biggest difference has been on my legs. There were always more scales there than my arms, but now there’s hardly any skin left. Sure, my skin is hard like my scales, but it’s still human, y’know? At this rate I’m going to be a full lizard person in the next couple of years.”

Bakugou stared at the reflecting crimson and honestly struggled to picture Kirishima without the scales. Kirishima with wider spread of scales looked more natural in his mind than a Kirishima with no scales. “Kinda shitty of that hag to not tell you that you had a time limit to your curse.”

“She might have had more faith in my dad than he deserved when constructing the curse. I don’t know if she expected it to last for this long.” Kirishima shrugged and dropped his leg onto the cushions. “What about you?”

“What about me?”

Kirishima laughed and sat up to sit cross legged next to him. Bakugou felt a strange without Kirishima pressed against him.  “Y’know, your curse? Can you ever see yourself loving someone so much it hurts that you can’t touch them with your bare hands?”

“Hah? What the fuck?” Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s hair and ruffled it roughly. His lip raised in disgust as he pushed Kirishima over. “Does it seem like I care about that bullshit? Exploding shit isn’t a curse. It’s just a mild inconvenience.”

He smirked haughtily as he pulled a glove off to snap his fingers and make a small pop of an explosion. “I used to have mild fire powers even before I was cursed. The only difference is that I can’t turn it off without my gloves.”

Kirishima rolled onto his stomach and wiggled closer to rest his chin on Bakugou’s knee. He was smiling, but his eyes had some strange expression Bakugou did not understand. “I guess you just haven’t met the right person yet that makes you wish you could touch them.”

For a brief moment Bakugou thought about what it would feel like to run his fingers through Kirishima’s hair without his gloves. He could feel how soft it was against his skin, but would it feel ever softer again his fingers? Would Kirishima’s scales be smooth to run his hand across? He quickly pushed it away with a snort and shrugged. “I doubt that will happen. The only thing I wish is I could touch myself without making a damn explosion. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to jack off with gloves on? Better than blowing off my own dick, though.”

Kirishima’s eyes went wide before he rolled over, shaking and howling in his amusement. Bakugou cracked a grin of his own and could not resist Kirishima’s infectious laughing. Suddenly, Kirishima sobered as he sat up with all color drained from his face.

“Bakugou. If - If I go full lizard… I’ll have a scaly dick!”

It was Bakugou’s turn for his eyes to go wide. He fought the rising tide of laughter for a brief moment before giving in and bursting into hysterics of his own. Kirishima whined and pushed at him to stop laughing at him, but quickly started laughing with him.

“Who’s gonna wanna love me if I have a scaly lizard dick!” Kirishima exclaimed through their laughter, only bringing on another round of delirious cackling.

They eventually calmed down and settled into the cushions. Bakugou’s mind was at peace after their conversation and he was able to actually read his book now. As Kirishima began to doze off in his lap, Bakugou could not help the passing thought: if it was Kirishima, surely a scaled dick would not be that bad.

Chapter Text

Lunge. Dodge. Attack. Breathe. Move again. Move. Take the hit. It should not hurt.

Kirishima stumbled back, lost his footing from the force of Bakugou’s explosion and landed hard on his ass. His brows scrunched, more from confusion than the tingling sensation of pain itself. It was so faint it hardly registered, but the fact it was there was odd. His chest rose and fell in time with Bakugou’s. Even with the disruption of their pace, they were still in sync.

Bakugou held out his wrist, a silent offer to help Kirishima up and end their fight. They did not need words when they were like this. The slight crinkle in Bakugou’s forehead told Kirishima of his concern, wondering if they had been going for too long.

They had been going for a while. The sun was much higher in the sky than when they started. But Kirishima was not tired. He still wanted to keep going! His playful grin smoothed Bakugou’s face in a relaxed smirk. Bakugou stepped back and gestured for Kirishima to come at him. So Kirishima jumped back to his feet and did just that.

There was nothing to fall back into, because they never fell out of their connection. Kirishima charged with his claws out; Bakugou twirled out of the way and slammed his palm onto Kirishima’s chest, sending him back a few steps. You keep leaving your front open was the message, had been the message all afternoon. Bakugou kept targeting Kirishima’s chest. Kirishima grinned through the slight pang where Bakugou hit him. Maybe they should stop… After Kirishima got a good hit on Bakugou.

He waited for Bakugou to lead the assault. Bakugou shifted the weight on his feet, took his time before he feinted left. The feint was clear to Kirishima; he moved with Bakugou, ready to meet him with a speared hand. Bakugou changed his direction last second. He took advantage of Kirishima’s seconds of confusion to slam both palms on his chest. Kirishima gasped for air from the shock and the heat (heat?), but held his ground and pushed through the pressure. He crouched low and swiped at Bakugou’s legs; Bakugou leaped over him, landed behind him with a cocky snort.

Kirishima whirled around crouched with his leg outstretched, managing to catch Bakugou off guard. Bakugou stumbled, but quickly caught himself. His cocky expression was focused once more. It was Kirishima’s turn to grin. That’s right, don’t underestimate me. They parried each other’s moves at lightning speed. Kirishima still managed to nick Bakugou’s skin when he was not fast enough; Bakugou always targeted the exact moment Kirishima left his front open and slammed his palms onto his chest. No one else would have been able to see those small openings and take advantage of them, but this was Bakugou and Kirishima expected nothing less.

His chest ached. It was an exterior ache, one he had almost forgotten from his years existing with impenetrable skin. It made no sense. It had to be mental. Bakugou hit him again and it hurt enough to elicit a wince. Immediately, Bakugou retreated, concern in his brow. What was that? Kirishima laughed and waved it off, it was nothing. Right? Bakugou narrowed his eyes, but trusted Kirishima’s judgement. They continued.

Bakugou seemed to be avoiding hitting Kirishima’s chest now. Kirishima realized when he left small openings and braced himself every time, but Bakugou did not take advantage of them. There was nothing for him to be worried about! So Kirishima purposefully left himself glaringly open, not even a cautious Bakugou could let such an opportunity pass. Bakugou took the bait, Kirishima’s claws were at the ready. But then there was pain. Searing pain .

Kirishima dropped to the ground, unable to even scream as his vision went white. He heard Bakugou’s breath grow frantic. His vision focused in as his body went numb. Blood oh god. More blood than last time. The four distinct claw marks gouged from Bakugou’s shoulder to his navel were starting to disappear under the blood gushing out. Kirishima’s breath caught in his throat. His heart stopped. He could not breath. Could not breath. Could not move, why could he not move to help !?

“Fucking shit! Kirishima are you still with me?!” Bakugou touched his shoulder with his bare hand as lightly as possible, he grit his teeth through the pain of the small explosion and moved lower from the now burnt, no longer bleeding spot of skin to repeat again.

Kirishima found his voice. “What are you doing?! Are you fucking crazy?” He tried to push himself up, tried to stop Bakugou from haphazardly cauterizing his flesh. His body was not listening to him. Why was his body not moving?

Bakugou’s expression through his pain was weird. Why did he look concerned, guilty? Kirishima was not the one that messed up here! “You’re in shock dipshit. Why didn’t you tell me you could get hurt?!” He pressed his palm to the end of the claw marks and hissed. He stopped the bleeding, but Bakugou’s chest was a spattering of burnt skin. Why?

“What? I can’t- I can’t get hurt?” The smell of burnt skin was so strong. Too strong to be from Bakugou. Kirishima tilted his head down. The smell was coming from him. Why was the smell coming from him? His brain barely processed his flaking scales, blistered skin before his eyes rolled back and his world was black.


Days were long.

Nights were even longer.

How many days had it been since the witch had shown up on their doorstep? It was hard to keep track without anyone else around. Kirishima hoped his father would get his head out of his ass before Kirishima ran out of food.

He was starting to run out of food.

Kirishima tried to distract himself by keeping up with his training regiment. It would do no good for him to get rusty in his knight training while he waited for this to be over. But it was hard to. His talons made it near impossible to properly grip his sword and they broke every bow cord. There was only so much strength training he could go through.

Tomorrow, he kept trying to tell himself, tomorrow his dad would learn to be a decent human being for his son’s sake and this nightmare would be over. Kirishima lost track of how many tomorrows passed. He spent every single one of them sitting outside, staring at the path to the manor and waiting with dwindling hope. The days grew longer yet.

Even with rationing himself, Kirishima was out of food before his father returned. He could no longer use his bow; how was he supposed to hunt? Maybe- maybe his villagers would understand. If he went into town, explained what happened and that no one had been killed, maybe they would help him. His villagers could look past his appearance, right?

Kirishima dragged himself away from his perch at the window. Surely if his dad returned while Kirishima was out, he would wait around for his son. Besides, Kirishima was not going to be out that long anyways! Just a quick trip to town for food, assure the villagers everything was good, and right back home.

Going to the village sounded like a wonderful idea, actually. Kirishima wondered why he had not done it sooner. They were probably all extremely worried about him. It was unfair of him to have kept to himself for so many days- weeks? Long enough that they were definitely worried!

For the first time in so long, Kirishima stepped outside his manor. The air was crisp with the promise of winter approaching. Had it not been warm before the witch appeared? Kirishima shook the thought aside. Temperature changed drastically in the mountains, his father had not been gone that long. It would not do to greet his people with a long face! Happy thoughts!

He picked his way through the path to town. There was already underbrush taking root from lack of use. Plants grew fast around here, it was nothing to be concerned about. Kirishima made sure to scuff at the plants as he passed them. It would not do for his dad to return and feel unwelcomed after all.

The sound of footsteps further down the path brought Kirishima to attention. This was good! It would be a lot easier to get one person to understand everything before trying to explain to the whole town. Kirishima’s face lit up in a toothy grin and he broke into a little skip-jog to find the person sooner. He came around a bend in the path and skidded to a stop face-to-face with one of the village women. “Ah! Hi Mari-”

Her terrified expression killed the words in Kirishima’s throat. Why did she look like that? Her lip quivered and she took a hesitant step backward. From her hip she drew a small dagger. She held it between them with shaking hands. “I'm not going to let you k-kill me too y-you monster!”

Kirishima shook his head and reached out to her, trying to calm her down, but she screamed and slashed the dagger at him. It clanged uselessly against his hardened skin. They both stared down at where he should have been cut with wide eyes. She stumbled back, screaming shrilly. Kirishima kept reaching out, walking toward her in a desperate attempt to reassure her. Instead, she stumbled to the ground and her eyes rolled to the back of her head as she passed out.

“No- hey- you're okay no don't pass out!” Kirishima crouched down next to her and frantically shook her. He could not just leave her like this! Was she okay? This was all his fault!

“Mari!” Several voices called out for her and the chorus of footsteps jerked Kirishima to his feet.

They were going to misunderstand. He had not hurt her. He did not want to hurt anyone else. He definitely did not want to scare anyone else. Was he- was he really that terrifying?

The footsteps sounded closer and Kirishima could hear shouts of horror as they rounded the bend. There was no point in trying to wait around and explain thing. Kirishima took off down the path back to the manor. Why had things turned out this way? He did not think he had changed that much. Surely he had not?

He raced into the manor and slammed the door shut with a heaving chest. Why. Why? Why!

Since he had been cursed, Kirishima avoided the mirrors in the manor. He had done it without noticing. He never made the conscious decision to avoid his reflection. It just happened. Now, now he raced to the closest mirror and took a hard look at himself.

Scales. Scales everywhere. He knew- He knew logically they were there. He could see them on his body, in the corner of his eye on his cheeks. He knew they were there. He knew and yet he managed to lie to himself that he did not look that different. The curse had not changed him that much. But staring at himself, truly looking at himself for the first time, Kirishima felt the pit in his stomach he had been trying to fend off.

Horns. Horns like that of a demon of fables. He touched his face, traced the black scales covering his skin. There were more than he thought. His focus shifted to the talons- his talons. They were so long, lethal looking. Kirishima smiled at his reflection. His teeth were always sharp looking, but now he had fangs. He looked scary, horrifying.

No wonder Mari was terrified. He was a monster.

Kirishima stumbled away from the mirror. He was a monster and his father was not going to be back tomorrow. Or next week. He was a monster and he was alone. There was no way to break this curse alone. He was alone.

“I didn’t do anything,” he choked on the words. His feet brought him to his room as his hands shook. “Why-why did she do this to me?”

Bed. Bed was soft, comforting. His mother used to read him stories, lying next to him till he fell asleep. If he was in bed, it was one step closer to being in his mother’s embrace again. Kirishima fell into his pillows, curled around them and shut his eyes to the world. What was he supposed to do? How was he supposed to get through this?

What was day? What was night? Was there anything outside of the manor, his bed? Was there any purpose of leaving it? Time lost all concept. In a haze he forced himself to drink some water, nibble on the scraps of dried meat he had left until there were none. His stomach grumbled and ached, but his talons would not pierce his skin no matter how much he clawed at his sides. Why? Why ?

Kirishima wondered if this would be his end. Would he let himself just waste away like this? Was there any point in holding out, having hope his father would turn over a new leaf and break the curse? Was there any point in striving to break the curse on his own? How could anyone fall in love with him when he was going to scare them away? There was no point. Nothing. Why bother. He was alone. Always going to be alone.

It was night. Was it night? It was dark, it had to be night. Kirishima sat up, eyes blank and listless in the soft moonlight. There were voices, distant and yet clear. His mind was fuzzy and it was hard to understand what the voices were saying. Why did they sound so clear? Were they in the house?

Kirishima stood on shaky feet. When had he got up for water last? The voices were growing louder and it made his head hurt. He stumbled to the water basin and drank till his head did not hurt as much. The voices remained. Kirishima leaned against the wall, wincing as he tried to make sense of what they were saying. Something about the town? Lords? Beasts?

Oh god.

All of his muddled energy washed away as if he had been doused with cold water. There were bandits entering his father’s lands and they were planning on raiding the town since the presiding lord and knight protection were gone. Kirishima raced out of the manor without a second thought. He did not care how he was able to hear these invaders or how he knew exactly where to go. That did not matter.

What mattered was that his town was in danger. There were no knights. There was no one to protect these peaceful families. Kirishima had to do something. Anything. His bare feet crashed through the underbrush without abandon. He could faintly feel the prick of branches, the stab of rocks, but nothing pierced his skin. The voices were getting clearer yet, and soon he could hear them outside of his mind.

Kirishima hardly spared a thought as he burst through the trees into a clearing lit by several campfires. The bandits merry chatter came to an abrupt silence as they looked up to their uninvited guest. Kirishima stared blankly back at them, unsure what he was supposed to do now. He certainly could not fight a bunch of unarmed people eating dinner, but he also would not let them stick around.

The bandits made his dilemma easier. A handful screamed in terror and simply ran away. Those who remained grabbed their weapons and charged at him. Kirishima dodged out of reflex, but there were too many to avoid. The clash of metal against his scales resounded in the clearing. They could not cut him down. Kirishima grabbed one of the swords, ran his claws through the metal as if it were water. Many more ran away. The few that remained were fighting their fears and struggled to stand their ground. They were scared. They were scared of Kirishima. Good.

He snarled and raised his claws. “Leave my town alone!” But his words were strangled from days of silence. His words hardly came out intelligible, rather he may have been the only one to understand their meaning. To everyone else, his words were a roar of anger, a roar of a beast.

The bandits screamed and scrambled away. They had come for easy pickings, not a fight with an indestructible monster. The pang of discomfort did not quell the swell of pride in Kirishima’s chest. He scared them off. He protected his town. Kirishima smiled, smiled so hard his cheeks hurt. No one was going to hurt his town without going through him.

Being alone was just a small price to pay.


When Kirishima woke up, his head was foggy and his mouth felt like cotton. Panic surged through him. How long had he let himself sleep for?! This kind of grogginess felt like days worth of being in bed. He had no reason for, no reason to be breaking his schedule especially with Bakugou here. As he sat up and pain flared up his chest, two realizations hit Kirishima.

One, he was bandaged up and his chest hurt like hell. Two, Bakugou was not here.

Kirishima looked around the empty room and a different fear fueled his racing heart. Was he- Was he alone? Had Bakugou bandaged him up and decided he had had enough? Why should Bakugou stick around and nurse him back to health? Bakugou had big dreams, lofty goals that he was going to achieve. He could not advance while playing doctor to a stupid beast.

A clatter and loud curse from downstairs quelled the tears bubbling up. Kirishima blinked and wiped at his eyes, a grin pulling at his lips. Of course Bakugou was not going to leave him to fend for himself. Even if Bakugou would never say it, he cared. Kirishima smacked his forehead. Stupid pessimistic thoughts. Long sleeps were awful on his mindset. His dreams had not helped either. Almost three years later and those beginning months of his curse still haunted him.

Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts!

Kirishima gingerly propped his pillows around him so he could sit up easier. Or, not his pillows. This was Bakugou’s room, he realized as he settled against the headboard. The desk by the window was covered in medical supplies. Several plants and mixing bowls accompanied the bandages and few ointments Kirishima owned. Somehow it did not surprise Kirishima that Bakugou knew how to mix up medicines. Bakugou could do anything.

His gaze shifted to the nightstand and he immediately pounced on the glass of water. It was gone in seconds. Kirishima felt tons better now that his mouth did not feel like a desert. As he set the glass back on the stand, Kirishima noticed a very familiar book. His cheeks flushed as he snatched the ragged thing and set it in his lap.

Why did Bakugou have this book in his room? He already read it! It was not even that great of a book. Just some silly adventure novel his mom read to him when he was younger. He flipped to the first page and his cheeks burned hotter at the holes on the edges. Why the heck was Bakugou keeping this in his room?

Something was inside the pages, making them warp upward. Kirishima cocked his head and shook the book out into his lap. A delicate, pressed flower crown landed on the sheets. Kirishima’s heart swelled and tears pricked his eyes. He carefully picked up the fragile ring, just to make for absolute certainty it was the crown he made for Bakugou. Of course it was, but this seemed too surreal to be true. Bakugou kept it. He went out of his way to try to preserve it. A watery chuckle came to life as Kirishima gently placed the crown back in the book. Bakugou preserved his flower crown in the first book he read with Kirishima. That was so ridiculously sentimental and endearing, Kirishima had no idea how to react.

The creak of the fifth step on the staircase and Bakugou’s attempt to curse quietly made Kirishima jump hard enough it hurt. Oh god. Oh no. Bakugou could not know that Kirishima knew. He frantically set the book back on the nightstand and tried to remember exactly how it was before he moved it. Trust Bakugou to notice even the slightest of changes. As the door swung open, Kirishima just sat back against the headboard and turned his biggest smile to Bakugou.

“Oh. You’re awake.” Bakugou’s brows were knit together so securely, Kirishima wondered if he had not stopped wearing that expression since Kirishima passed out. Balancing on Bakugou’s arm was a tray sporting a pitcher of water and several fruits. He saw the empty glass on the nightstand and his tense expression softened a bit. “Actually awake.” Under his breath Bakugou said something that sounded a lot like ‘thank god.’

Tears threatened to fall again and Kirishima quickly tried to wipe them away. Bakugou still noticed of course. The tension returned to his expression as he sat on the edge of the bed and set the tray on the nightstand. “Does it hurt? I gave you some pain reliever medicine last time you woke up, so I’m sure it’s worn off.”

Bakugou leaned in close and Kirishima felt his heart stutter. Oh god there was so much concern in Bakugou’s eyes. Kirishima jerked back in surprise when Bakugou pressed their foreheads together, but Bakugou just grabbed his shoulders and held him in place. He closed his eyes with a thoughtful expression before he leaned back and poured Kirishima more water.

Holy shit. Oh god. Kirishima’s chest hurt, but in an emotional way. His heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest with the next beat any second now. Bakugou had been so close . For a second Kirishima thought we was going to kiss- But that was ridiculous! His cheeks burned at the thought, but he could not tear his wide eyes away from Bakugou. Would kissing Bakugou be like that?

“Well it seems like your fever has gone down finally, and this is the first time you’ve been lucid and awake which is-” Bakugou turned to Kirishima with the glass of water and froze. He took in the wide eyed, blushing expression and immediately turned a shade of pink. “Wh-what the fuck look is that shit head? I was checking your fucking temperature! I can’t exactly do that easily with my fucking hands, now can I? Just- Drink your fucking water and shut up!”

Kirishima accepted the glass of water roughly thrust at him, but had to smile before drinking. “I haven’t said anything.” His voice was quiet and raspy from misuse, but it was more than enough for Bakugou to hear.

His cheeks flared red now. “Your fucking face was saying a lot of shit! Drink your damn water!”

The water was amazing. Bakugou must have just gotten it from the well, because it was delightfully cool against Kirishima’s pallette. He leaned heavily against the headboard and his pillows, had to force himself from downing it all in one go again. While Kirishima savoured his drink, he watched Bakugou meticulously rearrange the plate of fruit. Once the plate was to Bakugou’s liking, he moved the tray to the empty space next to Kirishima. Bakugou’s eyes flitted back to the nightstand and locked on his secret book. Kirishima tightened his grip on his glass and kept his attention focused on Bakugou, not the book he had already rifled through.

Thankfully, it seemed Bakugou did not see anything amiss. Rather, Bakugou was taking precautions to hide the book now that Kirishima was awake. He moved with such casual ease, picking it up and moving it to the desk, that Kirishima never would have thought anything of it. That was, a Kirishima that did not know the contents of the book would have thought nothing of it. This Kirishima that was in know struggled to keep his smile small as he finished off his glass.

Bakugou turned around and immediately noticed Kirishima’s grin. “Is there something fucking amusing to you?”

Well now it was impossible to hold back his smile. Kirishima beamed. “I’m just really happy!”

“Well I’m fucking not.” Bakugou kicked the desk chair across the room and plopped down in it next to the bed with a furious glare. “You’ve been in and out for a fucking week , Kirishima. A week ! Why the fuck did you not stop when you felt pain? Pain fucking exists to tell the body when it should fucking stop!”

Kirishima slid down into his pillows, stared at his fidgeting hands instead of Bakugou’s angry stare. He deserved this lecture, but he had hoped maybe Bakugou would put it off till he felt a little better. “It was stupid of me,” Kirishima mumbled. “Just because I’d never been hurt before, didn’t mean I could never be hurt… I just didn’t think…”

“No fucking shit you didn’t think.” Bakugou crossed his arms and Kirishima could feel his glare continuing to bore into him. “You have no idea how incredibly fucking lucky you are your scales held up as much as they did, but your entire chest is a burnt fucking mess now. You could have died .”

The slight hitch in Bakugou’s voice made Kirishima meet his stare. Bakugou was angry, so understandably angry, but his eyes betrayed the fear and worry he felt. Kirishima swallowed thickly. He was always so worried about hurting Bakugou with his own curse, Kirishima had never stopped to think about Bakugou being concerned about hurting him . Bakugou had spent a week taking care of Kirishima, all while thinking he could have killed his best friend.

This time there was no stopping his tears. Kirishima blubbered and desperately rubbed at his eyes. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to worry you!”

“Yeah you fucking worried me.” Bakugou’s voice was heavy and he seemed to be trying to glare his tears away. He fisted his pant legs and spat out, “You better fucking never do it again.”

Kirishima nodded frantically, and tears just kept falling. He felt so guilty for putting Bakugou through this. He felt so unbelievably happy that Bakugou cared about him this much. And, actually, his chest was starting to hurt in a physical way now. He hiccuped with a wince and gingerly slid onto his back again.

“Stop fucking crying and moving so much, shithead.” Bakugou stood and adjusted the pillows around Kirishima to help relieve his discomfort. His bangs shadowed his face, but Kirishima was just able to make out the shine of tears streaming down Bakugou’s cheeks.

Wet giggles shook his body and it ached, but Kirishima smiled through it. “You’re crying too, Bakugou.”

Bakugou dropped back in the chair and wiped at his face roughly. “Fuck off. I’m fucking relieved and I’m fucking allowed to cry after this last fucking week.”

There was no arguing that. Kirishima fought a large yawn with a small whine. “Noooo, why am I tired already?”

“Because you’re still healing dumbass. Don’t fight it.”

But the last thing Kirishima wanted to do was sleep. And yet his eyelids betrayed him and were suddenly so very heavy. Another yawn wracked through him and he sunk deeper into his pillows. “Hey, Bakugou?”

Bakugou glared him down. “I said go to sleep.”

“I know! I know-” another yawn, but Kirishima had to say it before he fell asleep again. “Thank you. For caring. For being here.”

Kirishima could not keep his eyes open any longer, so he missed Bakugou’s expression. But Kirishima felt the soft leather of Bakugou’s glove around his hand. Bakugou gave his hand a light squeeze and his voice was soft in Kirishima’s ear. “Go to sleep dumbass. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

No words ever sounded sweeter.

Chapter Text

Fuck this was fucking fucked up. Bakugou struggled to carry Kirishima across the gardens. His own chest ached horribly with every passing breath, but this was hardly the time to let his body limit him. How had this happened? What the hell had this idiot been thinking? Bakugou cursed under his breath as he laid Kirishima down by the well. He was mad at himself for not stopping their fight sooner. He knew something was off. Dammit!

His explosions were dangerous, deadly. How many monsters had he slain in his travels thanks to his power–his curse? He had gotten careless, cocky, stupid. Of course Kirishima would have a weak spot. Everything in this world had some sort of weak spot. And now, now he grievously injured his best friend.

Bakugou poured the chilled groundwater over Kirishima’s chest, and continued until the tension in Kirishima’s brow lessened. He drenched his chest with the cold water as well, but his pain was nothing in comparison. The cold water helped take away the heat of the burn, sometimes even helped lessen the extent of the injury itself, this he knew from experience. He had managed to burn himself with his curse too often than he cared to admit through the years. But those had been glancing touches, small explosions like what he had done to cauterize the gashes Kirishima gave him. How to care for smaller burns was ingrained in his mind, but something as drastic as this?

Maybe the library had something to help.

He tried to push himself to his feet, but his body was exhausted. The adrenaline was wearing off and he could feel the ache in his shoulders and arms from drawing up so many buckets of water. Breathing hurt with the tightness of the burns down his front. There was no way he was going to be able to carry Kirishima to the house just yet. Bakugou leaned against the hard stones of the well and stared at Kirishima lying so peacefully in the grass. The blisters were not open and the water had washed away any sweat and dirt. Kirishima would be okay like this for a little bit. Bakugou placed a gloved hand over Kirishima’s and held it tight as he closed his eyes for just a quick nap to regain his energy.

A terrified yowl jerked Bakugou to attention. The sun was beginning to set, casting an orange glow over the gardens. Shit he did not mean to sleep for that long. Kirishima’s hand was no longer underneath his own. His heart leaped into his throat as he realized what had woken him. Kirishima was awake, sort of. His eyes were glossy and showed no signs of lucidity. His hands, his claws were at his chest as he rolled in the grass.

“Fuck!” Bakugou scrambled to pull Kirishima’s claws from the sensitive blisters and pinned him to the ground. Crap he opened the blisters and managed to rub dirt and who knew what else in the open wounds. Kirishima stopped moving the second Bakugou had him pinned and looked up at him with a small whine.

“I don’t get hurt,” he whimpered before his eyes rolled back and he passed out again.

Bakugou wanted to kick himself. Now things were even worse because he could not keep his weak ass awake. What a disgrace. He ignored the painful stretch of skin across his chest from the sudden movements and quickly drew up more water to wash off Kirishima’s burns. They needed to be properly cleaned out and bandaged, now . Whether he had slept enough or adrenaline had kicked in once again, Bakugou carried Kirishima through the manor with relative ease. He washed the wound best he could in the bathroom and loosely bandaged it to keep anything else from getting in the open blisters.

The trip upstairs with Kirishima’s dead weight brought Bakugou’s exhaustion back. He growled through his trembling limbs and carried Kirishima the length of the hall to his room. Logically, Bakugou knew his injury was one that would have put anyone else in the same position Kirishima was in, but Bakugou was not anyone else. Bakugou was supposed to be the best, the strongest. He felt so impossibly weak and hated himself for it.

He paused at Kirishima’s door, brows knit together. Kirishima was not the type to care about someone invading his space, but Bakugou still felt uncomfortable at the prospect of spending the time needed to care for Kirishima in his private room. Bakugou would need to keep a constant eye on him until he was lucid again after that fiasco in the garden. Yeah, Bakugou’s room was a better choice. He kicked his door open and placed Kirishima on the bed as gently as he could with his shaking arms.

Dammit he already felt the need to sleep and recharge again. He glanced at the chaise across the room, then back at the seemingly sleeping Kirishima. Bakugou really did not trust him to stay asleep and not hurt himself again. He dropped into the bed next to Kirishima and grabbed his hand. If Kirishima felt the need to wake up and freak out again, Bakugou would stop him. He closed his eyes and would be lying if he said the warmth beside him was not comforting.

The following week was stressful and exhausting. Despite Bakugou’s best efforts to keep the wound clean and the several ointments he made from the plants in the garden, Kirishima’s chest still managed to get infected. The fever that came with it made him delirious and kept Bakugou in a constant state of concern. Kirishima woke up at least once a day either panicked or confused.

The dead look in Kirishima’s expression and the certainty that he was alone, despite Bakugou’s stern reassurance he was right there was enough to make Bakugou hope for Kirishima to wake in a panic. Bakugou felt his blood run cold whenever Kirishima quietly woke up with that distance haze over his normally bright eyes. It was wrong. It was not Kirishima to look so… lost. How had Kirishima managed all these years alone? How was the Kirishima that Bakugou had come to know so bright, so damn cheerful ?

When Bakugou found him awake and smiling , it was like all was right with the world again.

“Let me go outside!”

Bakugou groaned and set his book down to glare at the worst patient ever. Just one day of Kirishima awake and lucid was making Bakugou almost wish he would just go back to being unconscious. Almost. The hopeful smile shining his way was enough to remind him this, while obnoxious as hell, was a much better alternative.

“Hell no. You were ready for a nap after I took you to the bathroom. I am not carrying your sleeping ass back up here after you fall asleep in the garden.”

The late morning light spread over the bed, giving even Kirishima’s small pout a bright glow. It also made the stark white of his bandages stand out in contrast to his tanned skin and red scales. The bandages drew Bakugou’s attention and he glared at them instead of Kirishima’s expression.

“I’ll just nap in the garden and you can wake me up when we gotta head back inside! Please!” Kirishima pushed himself further up against the headboard to gesture to the wide window. “It’s so beautiful out! I’m going to go crazy if I’m stuck inside all day when it’s so nice!”

Bakugou rolled his eyes and picked up his book. “I’ll take you outside tomorrow-maybe-if you behave yourself. You’ve been awake for a day, dumbass. Let’s not push it.”

Kirishima grumbled and started to slide back down into his pillows, but sat up again with a sharp gasp. Bakugou immediately looked up, assuming he had hurt himself somehow, but Kirishima’s expression was not one of pain. Rather, he looked extremely distressed.

“My flowers! My vegetables! Bakugou!” He whined pitifully and reached out for Bakugou. “They’ve been neglected for a whole week! I gotta check on them! Gotta make sure there’s no weeds and there might be tomatoes to pick!”

“Oh yeah, a great idea.” Bakugou sneered and kicked at Kirishima’s outstretched hand. “You can barely make it to the bathroom without falling asleep, but hey, I’ll let you go garden !”

From Kirishima’s shocked expression, he clearly had not thought that through. Bakugou rolled his eyes and slouched in his chair. It seemed a week of fever had allowed Kirishima’s hair to finally take over his brain. Bakugou stared at Kirishima’s silent dejection and sighed. Dammit, he really did love Kirishima’s tomatoes. There was no point in letting them go to waste.

With another heavy sigh, Bakugou pushed himself to his feet and dropped his book in Kirishima’s lap. “I’ll take care of your garden. Just stay in bed and read.”

Kirishima perked up, eyes shining with hope. “If you’re going down there anyways, you might as well take me with you! I promise I’ll just sit in the shade and drink a lot of water and nap if I get tired!”

The fierce glare Bakugou shot his way did little to diminish Kirishima’s shine. Obnoxious shitty haired idiot. Bakugou’s shoulders dropped in defeat and Kirishima whooped in victory. “I’m going to leave you outside if you don’t fucking wake up to come back inside.”

“Okay!” Kirishima chirped, not in the least concerned with the threat. Perhaps Bakugou should have been a little more annoyed Kirishima seemed to pay no mind to it, but they both knew it was empty.

Bakugou hooked Kirishima’s arm over his shoulders and carefully wrapped an arm around his waist. He ignored Kirishima’s cheerful protests that he could walk just fine on his own, and shot him a smug smirk when Kirishima almost tripped on the staircase. Kirishima mumbled an excuse under his breath as he pushed at Bakugou’s face.

There was plenty of shade by the vegetable garden for Kirishima to oversee Bakugou. As Kirishima chattered away, telling Bakugou what to look for and what not to do, Bakugou tuned him out and got his fingers dirty. Kirishima took real good care of his plants, so a week of neglect was hardly noticeable.

“You seem to know what you’re doing,” Kirishima said with a curious raise of his brows.

Bakugou shrugged and chucked a weed in the bucket at the edge of the garden. “My mom grew some stuff in our yard. I was expected to help out whenever I had free time.”

“Ah? Really? She probably misses your help.” It had been a while since Kirishima tried to pry into Bakugou’s personal life. Though, this subtle prompting could hardly be considered prying. Kirishima’s attempt to keep himself from looking too interested clued Bakugou in how much Kirishima wanted to ask directly about his home life. Surprisingly, Bakugou found himself missing the usual reluctance to talk about himself.

“Nah, my dad is more than enough to help her. She just liked making me do household chores, even when I started as a squire.” Bakugou sat back on his heels and shot Kirishima a smug smirk. “She had this crazy idea that I was too full of myself and needed to be humbled.”

Kirishima stared blankly for a moment before bursting out in a barking laugh. Bakugou let him get his laughter out and continued weeding with a grin. It had been too long since he heard that laugh.

“I can’t imagine how bad you would be if your mom hadn’t tried!”

“She still tries. I’m stuck doing housework for her whenever I visit home.” Bakugou threw the last weed in the bucket and stretched to his feet. “But at this point I think she just makes me do household work for her because I’m better at it.”

“Oh yeah, I’m sure that’s it,” Kirishima snickered. He stretched out with a small wince to grab his picking basket. Bakugou pinned him down with a glare till Kirishima returned to his position against the tree, looking thoroughly cowed.

Bakugou went to pick up the basket himself and bopped Kirishima’s head with it. “If you don’t stay put I am going to drag you back upstairs.”

“I’m staying put, I’m staying put!”

Satisfied, Bakugou returned to the vegetables and squat by the tomato plants. They were beautifully ripe and red, begging to be picked. He smiled and started filling the basket. “I will say, you put our gardening to shame. I think your flowers could even give the royal castle gardeners a run for their money.”

Kirishima laughed sheepishly as he scratched at his cheek. “My plants have been some of the best company before you. They say lots of love helps them grow, and they’ve had all my devotion.”

Before, Bakugou had never given a second thought to Kirishima’s passing comments about his time prior to Bakugou’s arrival. All he could think of now was the shadow of Kirishima he had witnessed during his fevered week. Many times Bakugou had wondered how Kirishima was so happy, but had never considered the possibility there was a time when that happiness was not there. Bakugou rolled a tomato between his hands as he asked quietly, “How did you keep going? When things got rough?”

The breeze carried the silence between them. Kirishima was rarely slow to answer. Bakugou glanced up to see Kirishima staring at his hands, gnawing on his bottom lip. Dammit, he spoke without thinking. He wanted Kirishima to smile again. That look was too close to the one Bakugou had seen during Kirishima’s fever. He hated it. He was about to speak up, take back what he said, when Kirishima looked up with a bittersweet smile.

“I almost gave up, once.”

It was suddenly hard to breathe. Bakugou’s chest felt heavy and yet empty at the same time. He knew, he knew that Kirishima’s mind was in a bad place those few times. He knew and yet he desperately wished it was not the case. It was impossible to fathom Kirishima giving up. Bright, cheerful, and optimistic Kirishima did not mix with the thought. His expression must have given away a thread of his thoughts, because Kirishima was quick to laugh and try to lighten the mood.

“It was just once, at the beginning! But then I discovered I was tied to these lands through the curse and found a new purpose in protecting the town.” He fidgeted with his claws, his smile wavering just the slightest. “Sometimes I wonder if the witch knew what she was doing, yknow? If she had left me normal, neighboring lords could have tried to come in and try to swoop my dad’s lands out from under me because of my youth at the time. But as a beast, none of the lords want to try to take this land. It’s not worth the trouble to tax a single town and some outlying farmers at the cost of fighting some scary monster.”

“I still think she’s a mega bitch and I would not hesitate to blow her up if she ever showed her ugly mug around here again.” Bakugou scowled and plucked the last ripe tomato. He got to his feet and turned to a giggling Kirishima. His lips twitched in the smallest of smiles. That was better.

I think you should avoid angering any more witches! The last thing you need to do is get a curse on top of the one you have!”

Bakugou shrugged, his smile growing. “Or I could threaten her to break your curse if she doesn’t want a face full of explosion.”

Kirishima laughed harder and they argued the benefits of threatening to blow up witches. As Bakugou traveled out of Kirishima’s sight in the depth of flowers and shrubbery, Kirishima’s voice traveled to him with a waver of uncertainty. “So, you worked at the royal palace?”

Of course he would push his luck and actually pry now. Bakugou sighed at stared at the clouds passing by. Well, Kirishima was pretty damn lucky, because he was in a sharing mood. “Yeah, I started as a page at the palace as soon as I was old enough. Got to my second year as a squire before I got fed up with the system.”

An amused snort bounced between the flowers. “Got fed up with the system or got fed up with the knight you were assigned to?”

“Shut the fuck up! Both! It’s stupid I had to kiss ass to some second rate knight to become a knight myself!” Bakugou scowled at the weeds and grabbed them with a forceful fist. “Not to mention this fucking kid I knew as a kid somehow got squired to one of the best knights in the entire fucking kingdom! And there I was playing nice to this dipshit knight. So I quit. Figured I’d become a knight out of my own fucking merit! Killed a monster terrorizing some noble’s lands so he knighted me and became my patron. I was knighted at 16 and got a lot of attention for being the youngest knight in history. Been gathering more glory by killing beasts and I get to work alone.”

“Wow, you really are super manly Bakugou.”

“No fucking shit.”

Soon a peaceful quiet fell between them as Bakugou turned his attentions to Kirishima’s flowers. The afternoon sun warmed his back as he reached the furthest end of the gardens. It had been a lot more work than Bakugou expected. Kirishima always managed to get his gardening done before Bakugou even woke up, and Bakugou had a newfound respect for his gardening abilities.

He wiped sweat from his brow as he picked his way back to the tree he left Kirishima under. Sure enough, the idiot had dozed off. He had fallen asleep with a hint of a smile, giving him such a serene look surrounded by his plants. Bakugou crouched next to him, followed the trail of black scales from his brows to his thick lashes dusting his cheeks as he slept. Kirishima had really pretty eyelashes. It was normally something Bakugou did not pay attention to, but it was hard not to notice on Kirishima. His gaze traveled down the path of scales to Kirishima’s smiling lips. Not for the first time he wondered if Kirishima’s lips were soft. He could find out even without his hands. He had begun to lean in closer without realizing it. A quiet snore from Kirishima jerked Bakugou back to attention, and several feet away from Kirishima.

“Shit,” he muttered, rubbing at his warm cheeks. What the hell was he doing, spacing out like that. Bakugou stood to kick lightly at Kirishima, who only mumbled and shifted slightly in his sleep. Idiot. “I told you I’m going to leave you down here,” Bakugou hissed at the sleeping figure.

Of course no response was given. Bakugou scowled and brought the tomatoes to the kitchen before returning to scoop up the sleeping dumbass. Kirishima sighed and curled into Bakugou’s chest, which certainly did not make his stomach flop. “Fucking dumbass. I bet you fell asleep on purpose,” he grumbled with red cheeks as he carried Kirishima back to bed.


Kirishima was slowly gaining his strength back. He was sleeping less and was able to walk on his own for short distances. His chest was healing rather well now that the infection was gone. With each passing day that Bakugou changed his bandages, he wished he could deny what he saw. But with almost a week past of Kirishima healing infection free, there was little doubt left.

Bakugou sighed as he set the bandages in the wash basin. There was so much red on Kirishima’s chest, but it was neither blood nor blister. Around the edges of his burns were dense patches of new, shimmering red scales. Bakugou knew for a fact they were new. Kirishima went around shirtless enough that Bakugou could recognize the presence of the new scales. In place of the beginnings of healthy skin growing over the burns, it seemed only more scales were to come.

“I haven’t touched anything! I swear!” Kirishima wiggled on the stool, trying to catch Bakugou’s eyes to assess his expression better. “What’s with that grim look? I thought I was healing great!”

“Yeah, you’re healing fine.” Bakugou leaned back with another sigh. He was not sure how Kirishima was going to take the news. Sure, Kirishima seemed fine when they talked about it before, but Bakugou had a feeling Kirishima was also good at lying to himself. Well, no point in keeping him in the dark. He was going to find out sooner or later. “I think your chest is going to heal with scales, not skin. It’s already started to on the edges.”

That clearly was not the answer Kirishima had been expecting and a flash of darkness shadowed his face. He pushed it away with a forced laugh. “Well, that kinda makes sense, don’t you think? My skin wasn’t strong enough to ward off your explosions, so I guess my body decided to reinforce it. Am I cleared to take a real bath, doc?”

Sometimes Bakugou wished Kirishima would stop being so damned optimistic when it was an appropriate time to get angry or upset. He sighed and gestured to the baths. “Yeah you can take a bath. Just make sure you don’t soak your chest in the water too long and don’t scrub it.”

Kirishima cheered and make quick business of ditching the rest of his clothes before racing to the warmed waters. He had been stuck to sponge baths, so Bakugou could not blame him for his enthusiasm. As Bakugou washed out the bandages, he could hear Kirishima splashing around in the water like a child. Unsurprisingly, only a few minutes passed before Kirishima called out in a loud whine, “Join me Bakugou!”

“Already planning on it,” Bakugou called back as he squeezed out the bandages and hung them up to dry. “You still can’t raise your arms all the way, dumbass. I need to help you with your shitty hair.”

The ripple of water and a pained hiss echoed into the changing room. “Yeah you’re right I can’t raise my arms all the way. Help me wash my hair please! It’s really gross!”

“Dumbass, you didn’t have to test it.” Bakugou rolled his eyes as he set his folded his clothes on a shelf. He grabbed several towels, because Kirishima had of course forgotten his own. As Bakugou pushed the curtains separating the baths from the changing room, Kirishima sharp breath drew his attention. He turned to scold Kirishima for trying again , but realized the gasp had not come from pain. Kirishima’s eyes were locked on Bakugou’s chest.

Bakugou looked down at the red skin of his fresh scar, and back at Kirishima. Fuck, he completely forgot Kirishima had not seen it yet. He dropped the towels by the edge of the bath with a scowl. “Don’t even start to feel guilty, dipshit. It only looks worse than it is because I had to cauterize it so crudely.”

“I-I completely forgot I had scratched you,” Kirishima whispered, sinking lower in the water till he was blowing bubbles with his nose.

“Don’t feel fucking guilty about that either .” Bakugou slid into the water and lightly smacked the top of Kirishima’s head. “You passed out before you could fully process what fucking happened and I’ve been fine so there was no reason for you to remember.”

Kirishima looked up with sorrowful eyes, but slowly nodded in a reluctant agreement. It pissed Bakugou off. He grabbed Kirishima’s horns and shoved him under the water. Kirishima came up spluttering and gasping for air. He turned on Bakugou, his lip raised in annoyance, and splashed at him. “What the hell! I’m injured! Don’t drown me!”

“Stop acting like a pitiful idiot and I won’t drown you,” Bakugou smirked, splashing back at him.

They fell into a splash fight after that until they were both breathless and grinning. Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s horn to drag him back to the edge of the pool and made him sit on a step to keep his chest out of the water. He laughed at Kirishima’s protests as he grabbed the shampoo and poured a healthy amount on Kirishima’s head. His hair had gotten pretty damn gross. As he worked up a good lather with gloved hands, Kirishima hummed and played with the water.

“Did you get cursed before or after you were knighted?” Kirishima asked.

Bakugou’s hands froze and his lip raised. He grabbed Kirishima’s horn to jerk his head to look at him. “How long have you been sitting on that one to ask?”

At least Kirishima had the decency to look embarrassed. His hair fell in his face, rounding it and giving him a look of innocence. He shrugged noncommittally. “I dunno, I guess since you talked about your knighting. I’ve been curious.”

“Tch, of course you have.” Bakugou shoved Kirishima’s head forward again and aggressively returned to scrubbing at his head. “It’s wasn’t long after I was knighted.”

“What’d you do-” Kirishima spluttered as Bakugou dumped a pail of water over his head. He turned, indignant, but hesitated at the sight of Bakugou glaring at the water. Bakugou hated that Kirishima somehow knew he was ashamed about it. Why was Kirishima so damn good at reading him?

“Sorry, I won’t ask again.” Kirishima mumbled, turning back toward the ledge of the bath to grab the soap.

Bakugou growled under his breath and snatched it before Kirishima could. “Let me get your back while you’re here.” He ran the bar down Kirishima’s skin as he said quietly, “I deserved it. I had gotten too full of myself. I’ve always been an asshole, always known I’m an asshole. I never cared. As long as I was a kickass knight, what did I care if I stepped on some toes? Well, I stepped on the toes of the wrong person and she had heard plenty of my personality. I really don’t blame her for cursing me.”

Kirishima glanced over his shoulder, and Bakugou did not want to see what expression he had. Idiot probably felt bad for him. He scrubbed the soap harder as Kirishima said, “The curse she gave you doesn’t seem very fair-”

“I was fucking careless with my power, okay? I used it too freely and didn’t care if I seemed like a bad guy when doing the good guy job. I didn’t care about anyone besides myself, really. I think it was an appropriate curse after-” Bakugou gestured to Kirishima. “-after this .”

How did Kirishima manage to be so goddamn loud in his silence? Bakugou scowled at his back, tossed the bar of soap to him and slid away to wash his own hair. He could feel Kirishima’s eyes following him. Fucker. It should have been obvious he felt this way. How could he not? This was the first time in his life since his curse was actually a curse. Kirishima was a fucking dipshit for being shocked. Bakugou chanced a glance at his companion. He was no longer looking his way, instead was staring at the soap with a pensive expression. Bakugou really did not want to know what was going through his head.

They finished their bath in silence. As Bakugou helped Kirishima dry his hair, Kirishima broke the quiet and said, “Is it wrong I’m kinda happy you care about me that much?”

What. What . Bakugou knew the heat from the bath was not the source of his flaming face. What the fuck- Where the fuck had that even come from- His whole body felt way too warm. He dropped the towel on Kirishima’s head and stomped off to the changing room. Trust fucking Kirishima to hit bullseye with a single fucking sentence and leave him speechless. Because, yeah that was the fucking problem. He cared about Kirishima that much. Fuck Kirishima for realizing it and actually saying it .

Bakugou was almost dressed when Kirishima came running into the room with a frantic expression. His wet feet slid on the tile and Bakugou scrambled to keep him from falling. “What the fu-”

“There’s bandits on the border! They’re planning on attacking tonight ! I need to go- I have to scare them off- They camped outside of my territory and waited till now to cross to attack the town!” Kirishima was frantic and Bakugou struggled to force him to sit down.

“Calm the fuck down. You’re in no state to fight. I’ll take care of the fuckers. I am a knight.”

Kirishima grabbed his arm, pupils blown wide in his panic. “You don’t know this area Bakugou! I can’t just give you directions!”

He had a point. Bakugou scowled and threw Kirishima’s pants at him. “Get dressed. I’ll just carry you and you direct me, okay?” He grabbed fresh bandages and made quick work of wrapping Kirishima’s chest, slightly hampered by Kirishima’s anxious fidgeting.

All too soon Bakugou was running through the forests surrounding the manor, Kirishima on his back and grunting directions. The movement surely hurt his chest, but this was not the time for either of them to be concerned. As the sound of several people tramping through the underbrush reached Bakugou, he slowed and dropped Kirishima to his feet. “Stay out of fucking sight and don’t you dare try to fight. I will fucking kill you if you open your injury by being stupid, do you hear me?”

Kirishima had the gall to snort. “Seems a bit counterproductive to kill me if-”

“You know what I fucking mean.”

With a stupid pinky swear from Kirishima, Bakugou ran toward the torches and voices. Idiots really thought if they attacked this late they would get away with being careless? They deserved what they were about to get. He smirked and pulled a single, damp glove off. These idiots were not worth two hands.

“Who the fuck are you?” A man yelled as Bakugou ran into their light.

Bakugou smirked. “Your worst fucking nightmare.”

He danced between the trees, just lightly tapping the leather armor the invaders wore. It was not enough of an explosion to critically injure any of them, but it sure would fucking hurt. It had been too long since Bakugou last got a decent workout. Training alone was never the same as a good spar or even a sub par one-sided fight. How the hell did these idiots expect to win against Kirishima when they could hardly keep up with Bakugou’s slower movements?

One man screeched as he turned tail and started to run the other way. “I thought there was a monster guarding these lands! Not someone with fire magic!”

Bakugou let him run, but did not let up his attack on the others. His grin was feral as he kicked the feet out from under an opponent. “There’s no monsters here. Just a couple of knights.”

As he ducked into stronger light, a bandit’s face flickered with recognition. “Shit! I’ve heard of a knight with fire power! He’s no fucking joke! Let’s get out of here!”

With that, the rest of the bandits followed their first coward companion. Bakugou spit at the ground and stomped out the torch they had dropped. “Fucking piece of shit pussies. I was hoping I could at least get a workout.”

Light laughter jerked his attention to one of the surrounding trees. There the fucker Kirishima was, leaning against it like he had been there the whole time. He probably had been because he was the worst at following instructions.

Bakugou glared and stormed over to shake him roughly from his horns. “What the fuck you fucking idiot! You’re fucking lucky none of them noticed you standing there clearly injured! I told you to stay the fuck out of sight! And yet here you are!”

Kirishima held his hands up defensively, laughing without a care. “I’m sorry!” He sure did not sound sorry. “I wanted to see you fight, though! And it’s fine, no one saw me! Besides, if I stayed back I wouldn’t have heard you calling me a knight~”

“I hate you,” Bakugou growled, shoving Kirishima away from him as he headed back toward the manor. That had been a spur of the moment response. Definitely not something he intended for Kirishima to also hear. How embarrassing.

He forgot to keep an eye for Kirishima trailing after him until a breathless and distant voice called his name. Bakugou halted and looked around. Kirishima was nowhere in sight. Ah damn he walked too fast for the injured idiot to keep up. He retraced his steps to find Kirishima leaning against a tree, clearly winded from the most activity he had seen in weeks.  

“Dumbass,” Bakugou huffed, leaning down to offer his back. Kirishima clumsily pulled himself up and wrapped his arms around Bakugou’s neck.

“Please go slow,” he whined. He nuzzled his face in Bakugou’s hair, ignoring the shout of protest. “That run kinda hurt.”

Bakugou snorted. Yeah, no fucking shit. He secured his hold on Kirishima’s legs and resumed the trek back to the manor. Unsurprisingly, it did not take long before he heard Kirishima’s breathing grow heavy with sleep. He took care to take easy steps and not to jostle the scaled idiot too much. Kirishima’s head fell onto Bakugou’s shoulder and he nestled his face against his neck. Chills ran down Bakugou’s spine, but he was not about to wake Kirishima up to make him move.

Fuck Kirishima. Fuck him for being too nice to a cursed asshole. Fuck him for being fun and easy company. Most of all, fuck him for working his way past every single wall Bakugou had that kept others at a distance. Or maybe, fuck himself for not caring that Kirishima was so close. If only he could stop caring. Surely things would be easier if he could.

Once back in the manor, Bakugou hesitated in the upstairs hallway. They had been talking about moving Kirishima back to his room soon. Bakugou missed sleeping in his bed, and he was not about to share it with Kirishima when he could remember it. After carrying him to and from deep in the forest, Bakugou decided now was just as good a time as any to drop Kirishima in his own bed.

As Bakugou stripped down to his boxers and slid into his bed for the first time in a week, he could not help but miss Kirishima’s presence. Those nights he had slept next to fevered Kirishima had been nice for the closeness and warmth. Those nights sleeping on the chaise, just hearing Kirishima’s even breaths and occasional mumble had been reassuring. Now it was almost uncomfortably quiet.

Fuck Kirishima.

Bakugou was at sleep’s edge when the creek of the door opening brought him to attention. He sat up, ready to spring into action, but the moonlight only shone on a sleepy Kirishima. Ever so slowly, Kirishima padded across the floor till he was standing at the edge of the bed opposite Bakugou.

“I woke up and you weren’t there. Can I still sleep with you just tonight?”

Words were beyond Bakugou. He tried to reason, Kirishima was just concerned about the bandits coming back, or maybe waking up in pain. That was all. It made sense to just lift the covers and shift the pillows for Kirishima to join him. The way his chest tightened at Kirishima’s easy smile did not make sense.

Too many afternoons reading in the pillow fort had made closeness natural. Kirishima, clearly just awake enough to complete this task, immediately curled into Bakugou’s space and fell back asleep. Bakugou lay there, frozen rigid as his mind spun with excuses and rationalizations for his mixed feelings. But finally, exhaustion won out and he relaxed against Kirishima.

When ‘just tonight’ continued into the next evening, neither of them made any comment of it. And when Kirishima did not even ask and Bakugou said nothing against it, well, they definitely were not going to talk about it now. Kirishima did not need to know how much Bakugou enjoyed sleeping with him by his side.

Yeah, fuck Kirishima.

Chapter Text

It was so warm. In another life it could have been uncomfortably warm, but Kirishima relished in the heat of the present. Summers were short in the hills around the manor, and already the nights were starting to gain an autumn chill. The long lonely winter nights of the past were all too present in Kirishima’s memory for him to complain about heat. Especially heat that came from Bakugou.

Kirishima should have gotten out of bed a while ago, but he had lost track of time. At some point in the night Bakugou had decided to forgo his pillow for Kirishima’s chest. With Bakugou’s arm draped around Kirishima’s waist and their legs thoroughly tangled together, Kirishima was a tad pinned down. Not that he would complain about that either. He enjoyed simply watching Bakugou sleep and let his mind wander.

There was no doubt Bakugou was a handsome individual. His physique rivaled the artisan statues Kirishima’s dad liked to buy. Unlike some of his dad’s knights, Bakugou was perfectly proportioned. His arms were strong, but so was the rest of him. Kirishima never knew he could love watching someone’s back so much until he saw Bakugou’s.

When Bakugou’s face was not twisted in anger or annoyance or disgust or- Well, the list went on for quite a bit. But when his emotions were not making him scowl, Bakugou’s face was honestly quite soft. Kirishima had a feeling ‘soft’ was not a word anyone would ever associate with Bakugou , but they never had the chance to see Bakugou content, let alone happy. Without the almost perpetual wrinkle in his brow, Bakugou was honest to god pretty . Kirishima would probably get punched in the gut if he ever expressed it aloud, but he was free to think about it at times like this when Bakugou would not notice him staring.

Bakugou’s bangs fell toward Kirishima’s chest, giving him a perfect view of Bakugou’s smoothed forehead and adorable sleeping face. His cheek pressed against Kirishima’s chest smooshed his lips into a slack smile. The smallest bit of drool trickled down his chin and Kirishima had to resist giggling at him. Kirishima probably could have stared at Bakugou for hours if it were not for the slow creeping ache from his injury. Bakugou had managed to be considerate of Kirishima’s chest even in his sleep. But the weight was enough to slowly start pulling at the tender skin.

Ever so gently, Kirishima tried to pry Bakugou off. Sleepy growls of protest came from Bakugou as he pulled Kirishima closer till he was almost completely on top of him. Any other time Kirishima would have been a mixture of hysterical laughter and pure endearment, but right now he was only aware of the searing pain of pressure on his wound.

“Bakugou! That hurts!” He whined. Bakugou’s arm was tight around his waist and his legs were locked around Kirishima’s. Kirishima could only helplessly try to push Bakugou off or at least roll to the side and get the direct weight away.

Whatever Bakugou said in response was completely incoherent, but he started to roll off Kirishima. Relief was short lived. Bakugou dragged Kirishima’s head down so he could nestle his chin between his horns. He kept his arm around Kirishima’s waist and only tightened his hold, pulling Kirishima closer. On their sides, Kirishima’s chest did not hurt anymore. But. This was not what he intended to happen.

“Bakugou!” He huffed, pushing at Bakugou fruitlessly. Bakugou just held tight. Reasoning with Bakugou before noon was near impossible, but Kirishima really did have to get his day started! “Come on! Let go, I have things to do!”

The mumbled response sounded suspiciously like, ‘I don’t care.’

Oh come on. Kirishima was torn between being smitten and annoyed. Curse Bakugou for being so obnoxiously adorable. He settled in Bakugou’s hold, because okay, yeah, he was weak and could not resist the feeling of Bakugou’s arms around him. But dammit he really did have to get his day started. Unlike Bakugou, Kirishima could not laze in bed till noon. He was awake and already had the jitters from energy that needed to be used. Especially after having to take it easy for the past couple of weeks, Kirishima was ready to move .

He poked at Bakugou’s stomach. Bakugou hardly registered it. Kirishima scrunched his nose and wiggled, jostling Bakugou’s head between his horns. A low growl rumbled through Bakugou’s chest and he hugged Kirishima tighter to restrict his movements. Oh come on!

“Stop being a brat and let me get up!”

“No, shut up. It’s too early,” Bakugou mumbled into his hair.

Kirishima grinned and kicked his feet in an attempt to free his legs. The fact he actually understood Bakugou meant he was starting to properly wake up. “It is not too early. I’ve let you sleep undisturbed way longer than I should have. C’mon, just let me go and you can go back to sleep.”

Bakugou had the gall to hug Kirishima even tighter . “Don’t wanna.”

Now he really could not move. Kirishima sighed. It would be easier to give up if he had a better view. But with the way Bakugou had him, Kirishima was stuck staring at Bakugou’s neck. It was a nice neck, but Kirishima preferred staring at Bakugou’s face. “Come on, Blasty. I actually have things to do today!”

“Fine. Fuck you.” Bakugou pushed him away as he rolled onto his other side.

Kirishima had to resist laughing at Bakugou’s turned back. Was Bakugoug pouting that Kirishima did not want to cuddle anymore? How cute. Clearly his silent amusement was too loud for Bakugou, because he rolled over again with the grumpiest of scowls. Kirishima held his hands up defensively and slid out of bed. He was not going to say anything, swear! Bakugou narrowed his eyes, but stayed silent as well.

Over the past couple of weeks, Kirishima had slowly started moving into Bakugou’s room. He went to the wardrobe and pulled out his clothes to get changed, all too aware of Bakugou still watching him. Honestly, Kirishima was scared to comment about the recent development. He had not expected Bakugou to so easily accept him sleeping with him. And then Bakugou went and started the process of moving Kirishima in when he had brought both of their laundry into his room. What did it mean? What if Kirishima messed it all up by asking about it?

So yeah, he said nothing at all.

It was so hard to not ask, though, when he could feel Bakugou’s eyes traveling his body as he got dressed. Did Bakugou even realize he was doing it? Kirishima sighed and turned to Bakugou, who only continued to stare at him as if nothing was amiss. “You can go back to sleep, y’know. It is pretty early for you.”

Bakugou furrowed his brows, then sat up to stretch his arms out. “Nah, I’m already awake now. I can make us some breakfast. Think I’ll go for a run.”

“Oh, breakfast? Today is my lucky day!” Kirishima grinned as he unwrapped his bandages. They only had to be changed once a day, and that was only to be on the cautious side. He was healing up nicely. “I hope we have enough for something decent.”

“I’ll make it work,” Bakugou grumbled, rolling out of bed to smack Kirishima’s hands away from the fresh wrappings rolled up on the desk. He inspected Kirishima’s chest for a moment before starting to rewrap it.

“I can do it by myself by now, you know.” Kirishima huffed, but did not bother trying to push Bakugou away.

Bakugou looked up in pure disdain. “You either make it way too tight or loose enough it starts falling off in a couple hours. So, no, you can’t.”

Kirishima grumbled and stared out the window. Just because Bakugou was right did not mean he had to agree. Not to mention he would be completely lying if he said he dis liked Bakugou helping him. He spaced out a little too long, because Bakugou was already dressed when he flicked Kirishima’s nose with a smirk.

“I’m gonna be pissed if you made me wake up when you’re still half asleep.”

“Ah- No I’m awake!” Kirishima scrambled to grab a shirt as Bakugou left the room laughing at him. Jerk.

Properly clothed, Kirishima grabbed his old bandages to wash out real quick before breakfast. As he hung up the strips of cloth outside to dry, he frowned at the sky. It really was much later than he intended to start the day. Kirishima ran back upstairs to grab his village disguise from his room. If he wanted to make it back at a decent hour he would have to leave right after eating.

As he entered the kitchen and dropped his armful of clothing on the table, Bakugou did not look up from his skillet. “I just used the last of our eggs. I’m surprised you don’t have any chickens of your own. It’d be pretty damn useful.”

“Animals don’t exactly like me that much.” Kirishima began the long process of covering his scales with a soft laugh. “And I know, that’s why I’m going into town today.”

Bakugou slammed his spatula on the counter and whirled around. He glared at Kirishima’s pile of clothes with a fire in his eyes. “No you fucking aren’t. When the fuck did you decide that?”

“Last night when I realized how low we were on everything!” He replied without batting an eye at Bakugou’s reaction. Honestly, it was a lot calmer than he had been expecting. It probably helped that Bakugou was still cooking, so Kirishima was sure he was going to get an earful once Bakugou was done.

The way Bakugou slammed things around in the kitchen, Kirishima worried if they would hold up to Bakugou’s anger. Kirishima slightly worried if he was going to hold up to Bakugou’s anger. He was positively fuming as he dropped Kirishima’s plate in front of him.

“You are not going to town on your own. You may have your strength back for the most part but you still aren’t back to normal.” Bakugou forcefully scooped eggs up with his toast and glared at Kirishima as he took a giant bite.

Kirishima had a feeling Bakugou was going to suggest that. He sighed and ate a little bit before quietly saying, “You know why I can’t have you coming into town with me, Bakugou.”

Rather than respond, Bakugou just sneered and focused on his breakfast. Kirishima picked at his food, appetite gone with the heavy mood. He knew Bakugou was coming from a good place in being so stubborn, but at the same time, there really was no reason for Bakugou to get so angry. The oppressive air hovered over the kitchen as Bakugou cleaned up the kitchen. Kirishima continued covering himself in his disguise without a word. It felt like the calm before a storm.

A silent and angry Bakugou put Kirishima on edge. He was not sure how to handle this. Pulling his hood up, Kirishima stood by the door and stared at Bakugou’s back as he angrily washed the dishes. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry. I’ll take my time walking and won’t go the usual roundabout route I take, okay?”

When Bakugou ignored him, Kirishima sighed and stepped outside. Perhaps this was just Bakugou’s attempt to not argue and he would be in a better mood when Kirishima got back. If that was the case then Kirishima would have to apologize and thank Bakugou. It probably took a lot out of him to give up and not fight.

That train of thought exploded into a million pieces not even a mile out from the manor when Bakugou appeared at his side with a smug grin. Kirishima dug his heels in the dirt and turned on Bakugou. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

Bakugou shrugged and walked past Kirishima. “I won’t go into town with you. I’ll just follow you and chill in the woods until you come back.”

Kirishima ground his teeth together. Of course Bakugou had not been silent to be nice. He had been silent because he already made up his mind to completly ignore Kirishima. Why was Kirishima even surprised? He stomped after Bakugou. “No! What if someone sees you? What are they going to think? It’s a small town! They’ll talk about the stranger they saw hanging around town! What then?!”

“They’ll have some juicy gossip for the next couple of weeks. Then they forget. Nothing changes.” Bakugou shoved his hands in his pockets, the picture of nonchalance. It really irked Kirishima.

Even more annoying, was the realization Bakugou had planned this out perfectly. By dropping the argument earlier, he left it to be had while they were walking. So he was getting his way regardless. Kirishima came to a halt and crossed his arms stubbornly. There was no way he was going to let Bakugou win. “Or they remember and get suspicious and everything goes to shit. You’re not going.”

For the briefest moment, Bakugou paused and glanced over his shoulder at Kirishima. He made eye contact with Kirishima’s shrouded glare, then shrugged once more and kept walking. “I doubt it.”

Kirishima watched him keep walking till he was almost out of sight. Dammit he was not going to stop, was he? Kirishima ran after him and grabbed his arm to force him to stop. “I don’t care what you think, Bakugou! I know these people so my opinion weighs more. Stop being an asshole!”

On a better day, they would be at a standstill. But Kirishima had not been able to use his arms at full strength without aggravating his chest since he got hurt, and that put him at a severe disadvantage. Bakugou curled his arm and proceeded to drag Kirishima down the path.

“I’m not being an asshole. I’m being logical. You clearly don’t know them as well as you think you do.”

What? Kirishima let go of Bakugou’s arm to run in front of him, placing his hands on his shoulders to force him to stop walking. “What do you mean by that?”

Bakugou furrowed his brows and looked away. He dragged his teeth across his bottom lip, scrunched his nose before meeting Kirishima’s hard stare again. “I went to town last time you did-”

“You what ?!” Kirishima shoved his hood off so Bakugou could properly see just how pissed off he was. “You- You went-” The words stuck in his throat as hundreds of thoughts swirled around his head. He was angry, so goddamn angry that Bakugou had ignored his wishes, lied to him, flat out disrespected him? He was also scared. What if the villagers were suspicious? They most certainly would be now if they saw Bakugou again.

Completely ignoring Kirishima’s mild panic, Bakugou brushed his hands off and kept walking down the path. “I only talked with one guy. Said I just got back from a long journey and was looking for rumors about monsters. Totally forgot you’re supposed to be one.” He snorted and Kirishima clenched his fists. “Anyways, told him I was gonna investigate to get rid of their scary beast problem. He probably just thinks I got eaten. So no harm, no foul.”

“No harm, no harm that a villager thinks I ate someone ?!” Kirishima could hardly think through the hot rage coursing through his veins. What the hell. How had this morning started off so wonderful and was now- now this?! His claws pressed into his palms, tearing through his heavy gloves, but of course they would not break the skin. Somehow, that only made him angrier.

Bakugou glanced back over his shoulder. “No he would think a beast that doesn’t exist ate someone. No one would think you ate anyone.”

“Oh because that makes it better?” Kirishima caught up with Bakugou once more and threw a punch. Bakugou easily dodge it, but Kirishima expected that. He crouched and kicked Bakugou’s feet out from under him to get him to stop walking. They were already way too close to town. There could be villagers using the hunting trails nearby!

The quick movement was enough to catch Bakugou off guard so he actually hit the ground. Bakugou growled and leaped back to his feet. “Don’t fucking fight me Kirishima. You’re still not healed.”

Kirishima grabbed Bakugou by the front of the shirt, baring his teeth from under his facial wrappings. “If fighting you is the only way to make you actually listen to me, then I will fucking fight you.”

“You’re overreacting, dipshit. Maybe if you actually listened to me and just revealed yourself to your fucking villagers none of this would a problem.”

That was it. Kirishima was so done with Bakugou thinking he knew better for everything. Was it so hard to take Kirishima’s word at face value and leave it at that? Apparently for Bakugou, it really was too hard. In the words of Bakugou, fuck him. Kirishima tightened his hold on Bakugou’s shirt and punched him as hard as he could. His chest twinged at the movement, but the satisfaction of Bakugou collapsing to the ground from the impact was worth it.

Bakugou spat a bit of blood on the ground as he sat up and glared up at Kirishima. “I let you have that one. Feel better?”

Maybe he would have if Bakugou had not followed up by being a complete prick. Kirishima tugged his gloves off and threw them aside. He flattened his hands and took a fighting stance. “No, fuck you Bakugou. Either go home or fight me.”

“No.”

Why was Bakugou so determined to not take Kirishima seriously? With a snarl, Kirishima slashed at Bakugou’s face. He fell to his back to avoid Kirishima’s talons and then rolled to his feet. Bakugou’s brows and nose were scrunched in a mixture of anger and concern. He pulled one glove off. Only one. “Kirishima-”

Kirishima did not give him the chance to speak. He charged and stabbed at Bakugou. With his gloved hand, Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s shoulder as he twirled out of the way. He pushed his ungloved hand against Kirishima’s arm, the explosion burnt through his cloak and the force sent him stumbling several feet away. The only reason he did not fall was because Bakugou had kept him steady with that gloved hand. It pissed him off so much.

He growled and charged at Bakugou again. They danced around the open space of the path. Bakugou dodged Kirishima’s frantic attacks without breaking a sweat. He took extra care to only ever place his ungloved hand without too much force, always far from Kirishima’s chest. It ached, his chest ached horribly. He knew he was being reckless and acting stupid, but Kirishima was too angry to care.

Out of breath, he stumbled and Bakugou caught him with his gloved hand. He was only looking out for him, but Kirishima still swiped out at him with his claws. Kirishima struggled to breath, but refused to back down. Bakugou scrambled back. His face contorted in a dizzying mix of emotions. He grumbled under his breath and slammed his ungloved hand on a tree. It exploded in a deafening shatter of ash, the shock sent Kirishima stumbling to the ground.

“They already know! They fucking know it’s you under that stupid disguise, Kirishima! They weren’t fooled once by your fucking hermit act!”

Kirishima stared up at him, his jaw slack as he gasped for breath. The villagers knew? How was that possible. All these years? No. How would Bakugou know. There was no way-

“They clearly care a lot about you, fuckass.” Bakugou squat in front of him, his face pinched as if what he said physically pained him. “Why would they be so kind and generous to some random stranger? Of course they’ve known it’s you. They think you’re protecting them by playing servant to the big scary monster in the manor.”

This was too much to process. Kirishima could hardly breathe, let alone comprehend everything Bakugou was saying. They knew. They had always known. Always? How was that possible. All this time, all the precautions he took. Had they all been for naught?

Bakugou sighed and reached out to wipe soot off of Kirishima’s face where his wrappings had begun to slip. “How about we go home and get you cleaned up. And then we can go into town tomorrow and-”

“What do you think you’re doing to Ei?!” The voice wavering, clearly afraid, but the speaker strained to sound forceful.

They looked up and Kirishima gasped at the sight of almost half the town armed to the teeth with whatever they could find. He yelped and jerked away from Bakugou to pull his hood up. No, no, no, did they see his horns? Kirishima pulled the edges of his cloak over his exposed claws and scales. They could not see. They could not know.

Bakugou scowled as he stood. “I’m not fucking doing anything. This is getting out of fucking hand, Kirishima-” He grabbed Kirishima’s arm to drag him to his feet, but the villagers took a step forward, their makeshift weapons pointed toward Bakugou.

“Unhand him!” Someone yelled.

Kirishima struggled to find his voice. He shrugged Bakugou off to keep his scales hidden as he stood. “N-no- It’s okay-” but his voice was too quiet for the crowd to properly hear.

“This is fucking ridiculous, Kirishima just show them-”

“Are you okay Eijirou?”

“Who are you!”

“Kirishima I swear to god just-”

The cascade of voices was too much to handle. Kirishima looked wildly between the villagers slowly coming closer and Bakugou. They were speaking to him, but he could hardly understand through the rush of blood in his ears. What was he supposed to do?

“I saw that man several weeks ago!” A man called out from the crowd. “He was asking about the beast and Eijirou!”

“I saw him blow up that tree!” A younger voice yelped from the back.

“Our monster has been hiding in the guise of man this whole time?”

The crowd erupted in a clamor of fear and anger. Bakugou scowled and grabbed at Kirishima’s cloak. “Dumbass, just show them already and clear this up-”

Kirishima pulled away. Why was Bakugou trying to take his cloak away. The villagers could not see him like this. They would never look at him the same way again. They would reject him. They would shun him. He would not be able to handle all of them turning him away. It had been bad enough when it had just been one girl. How would he recover from the whole town fearing him ?

The puff of a smaller explosion surrounded Kirishima. His cloak fell away in a rain of ash. No. Kirishima’s heart pounded in his chest so hard it was painful. His breath stuck in his throat. He could not breath. No, no it was okay. He still had his bandages- if he ran away right now they would not see all of him- Bakugou’s bare hand entered his range of vision. The cloth around Kirishima’s face burst away. He was exposed.

This is your so called beast you fucking asswipes!”

Oh god. Oh no . Kirishima was suddenly breathing too much. Tears pricked his eyes and his head swam. His entire body shook as he gasped for air. His fingertips tingled. His head spun. They were going to hate him. He was disgusting. A monster. The screams of horror were coming. He needed to run away. Run away and lock himself up in his manor and never leave again-

“What did you do to Eijirou!” Someone yelled as the entire crowd advanced, pitchforks and butcher knives pointed toward Bakugou.

Bakugou blanched. “What the fuck ?! I haven’t fucking done anything you dumb fucks! Kirishima fucking tell them-” He turned to Kirishima and paused. “Hey- are you okay-”

There were no screams. No one was running away from him. They were not looking at him in disgust. Was-was it going to be okay? But his quick breaths were not stopping. Why was he not breathing normally. What-

“Everyone shut up and back up!”

Kirishima looked up at that sweet voice. Oh he knew that voice. Uraraka came running up to him, concern written all over her face. Oh good, Uraraka was such a sweet girl. Kirishima would hate if she was scared of him and he lost her friendship. Maybe if he could stop freaking out he could tell her as much.

“Who the fuck do you think-”

Uraraka flashed Bakugou a cold glare. “Can’t you see he’s hyperventilating? Shut up and give him some space!” She gently stroked Kirishima’s arms and Kirishima’s head spun. She was not recoiling from his scales? She was touching him like he was a normal person. “Hey, Ei. Eijirou. It’s okay. You’re okay. No one is mad at you. Take deep breaths. Breathe with me, okay? Deep breath in. One, two, three-”

Her soothing voice and soft touch grounded Kirishima. The villagers and Bakugou faded from his attention as he focused on Uraraka’s reassuring smile and followed her instructions. Yeah, breathing real deep was much better. Uraraka had to be some kind of witch because he felt tons better. His fingers stopped tingling and his head did not feel like it was going to fly away anymore. Kirishima blinked, slowly reassessing what was going on.

The town know he was cursed now, but they also thought Bakugou was a monster that had been keeping Kirishima captive. And now those villagers were armed and arguing with an extremely angry Bakugou that was quickly losing grip on his temper. Iida was surprisingly in the mix, trying to keep peace between the mob and single, very angry and powerful Bakugou.

“Everyone please calm down! I am a knight of this realm! I am sorry for the deception, but believe me, I am prepared to handle this kind of situation!” Iida had his hands raised, trying his best to placate everyone. “Please just take a few steps back and we can discuss this like civilized people! As we can see this man is surely no monster-”

“He blew things up!” Someone yelled and soon the entire crowd was clamouring along the same lines.

Kirishima looked to Uraraka. “Knight-?”

She giggled and pat his cheek. “We can talk about that later. Are you feeling better?”

Bakugou looked ready to shove his ungloved hand in Iida’s face as Iida started to lecture him while the crowd pressed at Iida’s back. This was the worst possible situation. This was the last way Kirishima could have ever wanted this to happen. But it was already happening and he had to deal with it. He shot Uraraka a weary smile before leaving her comforting hold to tug at Bakugou’s arm.

“Calm down, idiot. You’re only making everything worse-”

“Oh look who decided to join the fucking party!” Bakugou yelled, turning on Kirishima with a furious glare. “Things wouldn’t be so fucking bad if you weren’t such a fucking dipshit to begin with-”

“Don’t call Ei that!”

“Leave him alone!”

“Eijirou you don’t have to defend this monster!”

Kirishima faltered as the crowd pushed forward, despite Iida’s attempt to hold them back. He was overwhelmed by their unwavering support. They really did care about him so much.

“I’m no fucking monster! Who fucking said that?” Bakugou tried to meet the crowd halfway, but Kirishima tightened his grip on his arm. “I’ll fight you, you piece of motherfucking shit!”

“No- Bakugou- Don’t fight them-!” Kirishima struggled to speak over the loud, arguing noise of the mob. “Everyone! Please! Let me explain-!”

Bakugou suddenly tensed in Kirishima’s hold. While he was making threats, Kirishima could tell from his body language he was not really ready to start fighting with a mob armed with farming tools. But now, now Bakugou’s entire stance said he was prepared to brawl. He started to pull away from Kirishima, a growl growing from the depths of his chest. A new voice joined the noise, but he was closer and despite the soft tone, it was firm. And all too familiar. Kirishima had been wondering where he was when Uraraka and Iida had shown up.

Kacchan ?”

Chapter Text

For as long as he could remember, Midoriya dreamed of becoming a knight. The earliest stories his mother ever told him were about the brave knights that saved the kingdom from falling apart after the royal family disappeared many years ago. His favorite stories were of All Might, the strongest, most noble knight in all the lands. While there had been tentative peace thanks to the other knights, it was only when All Might appeared with his magic sword was the kingdom finally able to unite once more.

All Might advocated for the people of the land, not just the nobles and the rich. No one knew who he was or where he came from, but his strength and power was like no other. Many nobles tried to hire him under his cause and offered him glorious riches and lands to call his own. The stories said he rejected their propositions with a boisterous laugh. Instead he brought an end to all the fighting between the power hungry nobles. He brought the lands together for the first time since the king disappeared.

His magic sword could make entire armies fall to their knees. It could split the very land itself in two. He protected the small and the defenseless with a shining smile and reassuring laugh. All Might instilled hope and joy in all those who crossed his path. When looking for a leader for the united lands, everyone had looked to All Might as the new king. The man laughed so merrily they say the entire kingdom laughed with him. He turned down the proposal. Smiling, he told the people that he could no longer do his job if he were king. All Might suggested another strong knight as a potential king and promised to continue advocate for the people.

Midoriya knew all the stories turned legend. He spent hours playing with his wooden sword, pretended he wielded the most powerful sword One for All. Midoriya grew up with only one goal, one dream: to be a knight just like All Might. He wanted to be a knight that stood for peace and justice; a knight that helped anyone that needed it; a knight that could smile and laugh even in the harshest of times.

As soon as he was old enough, Midoriya started working as a page. It was hard work. Everyone underestimated him and his abilities. Midoriya knew he was small, weak, so that was why he had to work harder than everyone else. His childhood friend started a year sooner than Midoriya and everyone constantly compared him. He knew Bakugou was amazing with his fire magic and quick wits. He just had to be better.

It got easier when Uraraka and Iida moved to the capital during his last year as a page. Their friendship was irreplaceable and their support kept Midoriya motivated despite everyone else telling him to give up. And then it happened.

All the pages in his group were claimed by knights and he was the last one yet to be promoted to squire. There was unrest at the borders, one of the neighboring kingdoms had armies amassing too close for comfort. King Endeavor ordered a sizeable amount of troops to meet these suspicious forces at the border. Midoriya was part of the forces as the oldest and most experienced page.

There was not supposed to be any fighting. Even if there was fighting, Midoriya was not supposed to be a part of it. He was just a page, a weak page with no extra magics or exceptional strength. A fight did break out. It was chaotic and terrifying, but the king and All Might were there so no one was truly worried. But no one saw All Might stumble and drop his sword except for his opponent and Midoriya.

It did not matter what he was supposed to do. Midoriya ran across the battlegrounds, dodged and wove his way through the opposing sides as fast as his feet could carry him. His hero was about to be hurt in front of his very eyes. His hero needed help and no one noticed. Midoriya did not give it a second thought when he picked up All Might’s sword to deflect his attacker’s blow. The rush of adrenaline and fear dulled the tingle that ran from his fingers to his toes the second he touched One for All’s hilt. The immediacy of the moment allowed Midoriya to forget that he should not have been able to pick up this legendary magic sword.

But he had.

And he had saved his hero.

When the dust settled from the battle, Midoriya returned home at All Might’s side as his squire.

No one had seen what happened during that battle. No one knew One for All had chosen Midoriya as All Might’s successor. No one would know till Midoriya was a knight worthy of leading the way with One for All held high in the air as a shining beacon of hope.

It was better this way. All Might was weakened from a severe battle kept secret, but he still had the strength to protect the people of the kingdom. All Might was Midoriya’s hero, his mentor, and he did not want him to step down too soon. While the power of One for All was already imbued in Midoriya from the second he touched it, he would not inherit the physical sword till the moment was right.

So even when he graduated to becoming a knight, Midoriya was not running out on flashy, daring adventures. He was still only a rookie knight, so he had the most minimal of duties during a time of peace. Like standing guard when people had audience with the king.

Midoriya slumped slightly against his pike with a tired sigh. Sometimes he wondered if Bakugou had the right idea by quitting the squire system and doing his own thing under the patronage of a carefree lord. Bakugou was probably off having an adventure saving a town from a fearsome monster while Midoriya was stuck standing in a stuffy hall as King Endeavor took advantage of All Might’s absence to push aside a lot of grievances.

A sharp jab in his side brought Midoriya to attention again. Uraraka started at him as she stood straight at her post again and mouthed, ‘you okay?’

No matter how much Midoriya disagreed with King Endeavor’s ruling tactics whenever All Might was not around to advise, he had to suck it up and do his job properly. He smiled and shrugged, quickly mouthing back, ‘just tired.’ It was a good enough for Uraraka as she smiled in response and turned her attention back to the vast room. Midoriya shifted his weight and focused on the newest citizen before the king’s throne.

“Your Majesty, please, my village has written and petitioned to the crown for several years!”

Midoriya genuinely stood alert at that. Endeavor was a decent king, but All Might’s biggest criticism of him was his tendency to deem problems too small for him to care. What was this poor man’s village experiencing that Endeavor had decided was not worth his time?

“Several years ago our lord was killed by a monster! All the knights under his patronage ran away and we have been without assistance since then!”

Endeavor stared down at the man, his expression hard and unreadable. “This monster regularly attacks the people? Your livestock? Have you been attacked by bandits or foreign parties without the aid of knights of the crown?”

The man hesitated. “N-no your majesty. The monster has not bothered us and its presence seems to be enough to scare off anyone that means harm- But-!”

“Then it sounds like this is not a problem the crown should send limited knights and resources to take care of. Send the next one in!”

“No! Your Majesty! Please! I’m not done-”

“Someone escort this man out,” Endeavor said, not even looking at the desperate villager.

Midoriya surged forward before any of the rougher knights could harass the poor man. He gently placed a hand on his back and led him out of the throne room. Under his breath he asked, “What more is there, sir?”

The shown of concern made the man relax instantly. He looked up, trying to see the face behind the helmets Endeavor required they wear in court duty. “Oh kind knight, please help us. While we are not in danger, we are certain our precious lord’s son is still alive and being held captive by this beast in exchange for our safety!”

That was certainly a twist. Midoriya nodded reassuringly as his mind raced. He had never heard of any monsters in their kingdom with the consciousness to strike such a deal. If there were such an intelligent beast, well it would certainly be cause for concern for the whole kingdom should it grow bored of a single village. All Might would certainly agree.

He pat the man’s shoulder and lifted the guard from his eyes so the man could see his sincerity. “I will do my best to get this investigated sir. Do you have a written request with more information still?”

The man lit up with hope as he scrambled to pull an envelope from his coat. He shoved it into Midoriya’s hands, tears pricking his eyes in his smile. “Thank you, sir knight! Thank you so much!”

Midoriya smiled and shook his hand before returning to the throne room. Uraraka shot him a wary glance, but he waved her off. They would talk about it later. The letter burned his side where he had tucked it under his armor. He would talk to All Might as soon as he returned from his most recent assignment.


 

“This is such a cute town! It reminds me of home.” Uraraka exclaimed as they unpacked their bags in the inn’s only room big enough for the three of them.

Iida neatly refolded his clothing into the dresser. “It is indeed quaint. But we would be best not to forget our mission, Uraraka.”

She only laughed as she tossed things into her drawers. “I know, I know, Iida! But we’ll be here for a while probably, so might as well enjoy ourselves!”

Midoriya smiled at his friends’ conversation, but did not look up from his journal to join them. Despite reading All Might’s instructions enough he had it committed to memory, Midoriya felt compelled to read it again. This was their first solo mission as knights of the realm. While the balance of the entire kingdom did not rely on the outcome of their success, All Might had entrusted this to them. They had to make him proud.

Since no one but a single woman had ever seen the monster in person, there was still a small shred of doubt as to the beast’s actual existence. While All Might had jurisdiction to assign knights to jobs without having to counsel the king, this request had been rejected already by the king. Jurisdiction did not matter to Endeavor, if he caught wind of their mission, he would be angry with All Might. So these two factors contributed to the trio traveling under the guise of merchants.

This allowed them not only to have a reason to be in the village, but also plenty of reason to come and go without raising suspicion. All Might wanted them to investigate , not engage the beast. He had agreed with Midoriya’s concerns of a higher intelligence monster. If such a thing truly existed, it would be in all of their best interest to thoroughly investigate before they had to fight such a fearsome creature.

Midoriya felt the chills of excitement run through his veins. This was their first assignment. It was not flashy or glamorous, but Midoriya liked it this way. They had to be smart and have compassion for the townspeople and the possible captive. Being a knight was not only blood and glory. His mind briefly thought of a certain knight hunting down monsters in just a fashion. Hopefully Bakugou would not catch wind of this precarious situation.

“So can we check out the manor now?” Uraraka asked, eyes shining with the prospect of adventure. She looked to Midoriya for the answer, as did Iida.

While their expectation of leadership from him was nothing new, Midoriya suddenly felt the added weight of it now they were on a real job on their own. He smiled nervously and fidgeted with the corner of his journal. “I think we should hold off on that for now. Let’s get to know the townspeople and learn everything they know about the area and this monster. We don’t want to chance any accidental encounters before we’re ready.”

Iida nodded firmly. “A wise plan, Midoriya! We will gather every bit of information we can!”

“And get people excited to buy stuff from us!” Uraraka chirped, grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of them being able to play merchants. If knighthood had not worked out for her, Midoriya knew Uraraka’s backup plan to support her family was to join a traveling merchant band. No one haggled better than Uraraka, making her perfect for their cover story.

Midoriya laughed as he set his journal aside. “Uraraka’s right, we can’t make it seem like we care more about these rumors than our sales. Let’s start slow with the information gathering, okay? For now let’s get to know the people and get them to trust us. They’ll probably tell us more without us needing to ask that way.”

“Very intuitive!” Iida nodded hard enough his entire body shook with the action. Midoriya smiled fondly as Uraraka hid an amused giggle. “You truly are the best leader for this mission, Midoriya!”

Praise from Iida was always enough to get a flush on Midoriya’s cheek. For someone so strong and intelligent to regard him so highly time and time again was something Midoriya would never get over. He smiled and mumbled his thanks before leading them out the inn to begin their mingling.


It was a good month into their investigations that the mystery only deepened. Iida had found some of the knights that had been under employ the former lord. They told a tale of your typical mindless monster that attacked and claimed the manor as its new lair. They spoke of a towering scaled beast with deadly claws and breathed fire.

The only villager to ever see the beast told them of a more humanoid monster. It was still covered in scales and she claimed it almost killed her with its claws, but she also swore it tried to speak with her. She feared it might have wanted to kidnap her to work for it in the manor as well.

And that was where the mystery only got weirder. The villagers believed the son of their former lord was living with the beast in exchange for their livelihood. The trio finally had the chance to meet this supposed ‘Eijirou’ a week after their month mark. It was hard to believe the young man was the hermit he claimed to be, but just as hard to believe he was a slave to a monster.

Ei was cheerful and starved for human interaction. He made quick friends with Midoriya, Uraraka, and Iida. It was clear from how he spoke and held himself that he was well born and raised. As noble born himself, Iida assured Midoriya and Uraraka that there was no way Ei had not grown up in a noble household.

So there was little doubt Ei was the lord’s son the villagers believed him to be. He usually only came to town once a month. Each time he arrived at least one of the trio made sure to be there to interact with him. They tried following him home several times, but Ei knew the woods far better than they. No matter what, they lost him every single time.

Then there was the matter of his extensive disguise. Something was off with the man. He covered every inch of his skin and kept his hood firmly over his head no matter the weather. While Ei went to every length to diminish the height, there was no doubt his hood rested higher than his head should end. It was strange. How could a monster disfigure someone in such a way this was how he had to hide?

There were too many questions and not enough answers.

They started taking turns staking out the manor. There were extensive gardens around the back, making it impossible to properly survey those open grounds without getting noticed. So they stuck to the woods around the sides and front. They never saw signs of a giant beast. There were little signs of life anywhere except for the glimpses of the beautifully well kept gardens in the back. Midoriya highly doubted the existence of a monster and the others agreed. Surely this was a big misunderstanding and Ei was living alone and disfigured.

Uraraka wanted to just go up and knock on the door to find out once and for all what was going on. The idea was tempting. Midoriya was close to agreeing when they received a message of trouble in court. Their invesitagtions would have to be put on hold. Rather than completely lose all their progress, the trio began rotating merchant duty to keep a foothold in the village despite the work required of them back in the capitol.

(If Midoriya had any say, he would have said it was stupid to call them back to help search for the king’s missing youngest son. It was obvious the young prince had run away. Midoriya would have done the same if he were in the position.)

Something drastic changed while their attentions were divided.

The villagers were visibly terrified when the trio returned from another failed search party disguised as a goods run to the capitol. Just a few days before they had returned, a loud explosive sound had woken the village in the middle of the night. Since then, many of the villagers living nearest to the manor reported similar, quieter explosions in the morning.

Midoriya immediately thought of Bakugou. He had heard through the grapevine how his magic changed in recent years. He was fighting his monsters with an explosive fire magic. Was it possible-? A weight settled in his chest as he feared for Ei. They would invesitage the manor tomorrow and make sure Ei was okay.

But then Ei came into town. He was happy, truly happy. There had always been a hint of loneliness in his interactions, a taste of desperation to speak with anyone that would give him a chance. But today he was shining so bright even his hood and bandages could not hide his internal light. The light only flickered when Midoriya asked about the explosions coming from the forest.

Ei froze. While his expression was hidden by the bandages and hood, Midoriya noticed how his entire body went rigid. Ei tried to force himself to relax and the flash of a forced smile shined from the shadows. His voice strained in his attempt to sound casual, “What loud noises?”

Midoriya kept his composure, refused to let Ei know he noticed how tense he was. He tapped his lips, the picture of curious nonchalance. The explosions had him curious and concerned. But if Bakugou truly was here because of monster rumors, surely he would have moved on by now when he discovered none, right?

“Well there was this really loud bang several nights ago that woke up half the town. Following that, several people have reported hearing quieter but similar sounds early in the morning. They’re starting to get concerned that something has really upset that monster living in the manor. Have you been okay up in the forest?”

Ei remained tense as he nodded, trying so desperately to replicate Midoriya’s level of seeming relaxation.

“Wow , really? I haven’t heard anything like that in my neck of the woods. You sure people aren’t just hearing things? Maybe some bears are growling real loud or something!”

As always, Ei deflected any speculation around the manor. Did he not realize how obvious he was in his denial? Midoriya shrugged and mindlessly continued the conversation as he would with the villagers.

“Hmm, I suppose. We might have to ask for assistance from neighboring lands if it keeps up for much longer. If it is the beast, it might mean it’s angry enough to attack the town now.”

Ei’s exclamation was enough to catch Midoriya off guard. He burst into nervous laughter as he pat Midoriya on the shoulder. “That's ridiculous!” He said almost too forcefully. “I would probably know before any of your guys if that monster decided to start going on a rampage, you know? My house is probably way closer than the town! I’m certain there’s nothing to worry about!”

His house was closer because it was the manor. But this was neither the time nor the place to confront Ei. Soon. This mission was coming to an end soon, though. Midoriya truly hoped this job had a happy ending. He stared at Ei, full of concern for him. This kind and sweet person deserved a happy ending. “If you say so Ei. You know that if you’re ever in trouble, all of us would come running to help you, right? All you need to do is ask. We’ll help no matter what.”

It was as if such a level of care was too much for Ei to handle at the moment. His laughter quelled and he fidgeted with his gloves. “Yeah- Yeah I know. You all are too kind, jeez. Don’t worry so much about some hermit like me. I’m fine, really! But I’ll totally let you all know if anything ever happens, okay?”

They parted, but Midoriya still felt worry for the man he had come to care for. It was not fair they were getting to the end of their mission and they were split attentions with the manhunt for the prince. He wanted to focus on Ei right now and make sure he was okay…

There was little chance to get near the manor and properly investigate Midoriya’s suspicions. At this point when they were technically still on the job looking for the prince, they could not take the chance of a real fight if they had been wrong all this time and there was a real monster. There was too much guesswork and nothing was solid. It was frustrating.

When Ei came into town the next month, only Uraraka was around to chat with him. She reported he was more cheerful than ever. His happiness only worried her more and she had yet to drop it.

“I say we should just knock the door down! Orders be damned! If there's really a monster, then I don't want it to crush Ei’s newfound happiness! We gotta help him!”

“Uraraka we can't just ignore orders from the king! We still need be in our best condition to find the prince.” Iida’s hands flew around him, punctuating his words. “If there really is a monster we could be hurt and then charged with insubordination!”

Uraraka pouted, her arms crossed and cheeks puffed out. “I hate all of this inaction. Deku said it himself, the prince doesn't want to be found! It's stupid we have to look for someone that doesn't want to go home. Ei is right here and we can help him !”

They continued arguing the same point all three of them had been discussing the past few weeks, especially more so after Uraraka’s interaction with Ei.  It was truly frustrating how their hands were tied. Midoriya tuned their voices out as he stared at his journal. No one had heard from Bakugou for a while… It seemed like such a stretch, but he could not get the thought of those explosions out of his head.

Thoughts of his childhood friend also offered another explanation. Bakugou had been cursed… The villagers said their lord had been a rude, inconsiderate man. It was possible that a witch was involved in all this confusion. Witches loved giving curses to teach people a lesson. But what kind of lesson could Ei had possibly needed to learn?

“Deku!”

“Midoriya!”

Midoriya looked up from his notes with wide eyes. Clearly the argument had shifted to need his participation, but he had been too deep in his thoughts to keep up. “Sorry, guys. I was thinking…”

Uraraka and Iida stared at him curiously, then lowered their mental swords to sit near him. They were always so attentive when he had thoughts to share. Midoriya could not ask for better friends.

He smiled gently and traced his finger along the words in his journal. “I was thinking- Maybe Ei has been this supposed beast all along?”

Thoughtful expressions stared back at him, neither willing to interrupt as they waited for him to elaborate. At least they were not immediately laughing off the idea.

“We know he's always quick to discredit or downplay any rumors about the monster. The townsfolk fear it's because he's been tricked into caring. But what if he's just trying to defend himself?”

Iida nodded thoughtfully as he pulled his glasses off to clean. “Indeed it would explain his complete coverage as well. We know he's some form of disfigured. It's not a stretch to believe his disfigurement involves scales and horns.”

“How would he have gotten this way, though?” Uraraka crossed her legs to prop her head in her hands. She chewed on her lip as she thought. “The only explanation I can think of would be some sort of malicious magic. But why would someone do something like that to Ei? He's the sweetest!”

Midoriya smiled and relaxed. His friends agreed with his hypothesis, and were even following his train of thought without prompting. “It's possible he somehow got cursed with his father. We've all heard how he was a terrible lord. Witches are temperamental, so I wouldn't be surprised if one just lumped Ei in as well.”

Uraraka sighed heavily. “Poor Ei. If he's been cursed like we think, he's been hiding it all alone for years! How do we even approach him about this? Knocking down his door would probably just make him panic.”

“We need to devise a plan!” Iida jumped to his feet, fists clenched in his determination. “We owe Ei that! He has been nothing but a friend to us and as knights of the realm we owe him to help his happiness!”

“I wonder…” Uraraka cocked her head, gaze distant. “What has made him so cheerful as of late?”

No one had a guess for that one. And Midoriya felt silly to share his suspicions of Bakugou’s involvement. It was silly. Why would Bakugou be hanging around with Ei for so long, let alone be the source of so much joy.


 

It was Midoriya’s turn to scour the surrounding lands in search of a prince that did not want to be found. He sighed heavily as his horse plodded along the road. What a waste of time. He almost felt guilty for not spending the whole day looking like he was supposed to, but it was honestly stupid. The wind picked up around him, spiced with the scent of flowers and pine trees. That was Uraraka’s magic. She was calling him back.

Midoriya pushed his horse into a gallop back toward town. What could have possibly happened? They agreed not to do anything until Ei came back into town! The town was deserted as he entered the streets. Where was everyone?

One of the stable hands at the inn raced out in front of him. “Midoriya! Iida told me to wait for you to take care of your horse! Please run to the forest! People have been talking about seeing the beast!”

Oh god.

Midoriya gave his thanks and left his horse in the man’s capable hands. He was thankful he had his light leather armor and sword on him for the prince hunt. Who knew what the situation would be like when he got there.

It was not hard to find the large group of people in the woods. Their voices were loud and angry, but Midoriya could see a glimpse of Iida at the front of the mass. He ducked through the trees to get around the crowd. Uraraka was at the edge of the path with- Who could only be Eijirou Kirishima.

He was a man. A man with hands, legs, and feet. But also scales, talons, and horns. Perhaps he could have been terrifying in another situation, but the pure terror in those ruby eyes only elicited concern from Midoriya. This was probably Kirishima’s worst nightmare come to life. Uraraka was making good work of calming him down.

Iida had a handle on the crowd, so Midoriya began to approach Uraraka and Kirishima through the trees. No one had noticed him yet. Kirishima pulled away from Uraraka and his smile seemed so tired. So often Midoriya had wondered what it would be like to finally see Kirishima’s smile without anything hiding it. He wished his first time seeing it was not like this.

Kirishima pulled away from Uraraka and went to touch the angry man on the other side of Iida and the crowd. Midoriya froze. He could hardly hear the words being spoken as shock rolled over him. Despite his wildest conjectures, Midoriya never truly thought he would find Bakugou in the midst of all this. He slowly walked out of the tree line. Bakugou’s eyes immediately met his and his tense posture only got worse.

“Kacchan?” Midoriya asked, as if the furious body language was not enough of a clarification that yes, this indeed was his volatile childhood friend. “What are you doing here? Stop trying to fight these nice townspeople and let's talk.”

It had been too long since he had seen Bakugou. He had thought maybe, just maybe he had calmed down some. Clearly, this was not the case and Midoriya knew it the second the words left his mouth.

Bakugou lunged forward, almost breaking free from Kirishima’s grip, but he held strong. “Deku! What the fuck are you doing here? Fuck off I don't need your fucking help! Fuck this! Fucking shit! Kirishima fuck this let's just go home!”

Kirishima looked confused and a tad frightened. He dug his heels into the ground and pulled Bakugou back away from Midoriya. His eyes looked to Midoriya, a silent plea for answers or help. Midoriya was not too sure which.

“Oh you're Kacchan?!” Uraraka stepped up, her cheery smile and bright tone clearly an attempt to pacify the tense atmosphere. “Iida and I haven't seen you since you quit the squire program! You know Ei?”

Her attempt backfired. Bakugou turned his glare from Midoriya to Uraraka in an instant. “I thought you fuckers looked familiar. You're this shitstain’s loser friends? Fuck off we don't need your help!”

Midoriya made a mental note of the ‘we.’ When had he ever heard Bakugou grouping himself together with another person? And the fact Kirishima was still clinging tightly to Bakugou and had yet to be pushed off… Now was not the time for speculations.

The crowd had quieted, curiosity at the interaction having distracted them from their mob mentality. Now with their initial surprise over, they pushed forward shouting questions.

“Midoriya do you know this monster?”

“Izuku please save Eijirou!”

“You're a knight too, right Midoriya? Defeat this beast!”

There was too much happening at once. The villagers kept pressing forward, Iida struggled to keep them back. Bakugou looked overwhelmed and pissed . Rather than try to defend himself to the townsfolk, he growled ferociously and escaped Kirishima’s grasp. The crowd jumped back with screams of terror. Iida and Uraraka reached for swords they did not have. Midoriya had his sword, but did not move to draw it. Bakugou was unarmed with his hand outstretched. And yet everyone seemed tense.

Before Midoriya could block what he thought would become a punch, Kirishima jumped between them and shoved his arm in the path of Bakugou’s bare hand. The explosion was small, but still deafening in such close proximity. Midoriya took a step back, eyes wide. Had Bakugou been trying to attack him in such a manner? He had not thought he actually would. Despite the heat Midoriya could feel from his distance, Kirishima’s arm was unscathed. Clearly this was common knowledge between the two men.

“What the fuck, Bakugou! Calm down!”

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” Bakugou tried to duck around Kirishima to get at Midoriya, but Kirishima easily blocked him again. “Fucking Deku I’m going to beat your fucking ass! You’re always making me fucking look bad!”

“You’re making yourself look plenty bad all on your own,” Kirishima scowled and shoved Bakugou.

Bakugou hardly had eyes for Kirishima. His glare was locked on Midoriya in a way that sent chills down his spine. He had grown so much since he last saw Bakugou, and yet that fiery glare made him feel like a weak page again. Bakugou was not the type to let his emotions cloud his judgement, but his anger always managed to grow too strong when Midoriya was involved. He shouldered past Kirishima, and then shoved him away when Kirishima tried to stop him again.

But Bakugou used both his gloved and bare hands to shove Kirishima away, dead center of his chest.

The explosion was again small, even smaller than the one against Kirishima’s arm, but it made the scaled man gasp and fall to the ground in pain.

All while this volatile exchange had been going down, Uraraka and Iida had managed to keep the villagers a safe distance. But with Kirishima collapsing to the ground, Uraraka abandoned her crowd control post to run to his side. Midoriya remained alert, ready for Bakugou to attack again, but Bakugou was frozen in place. His expression was a twisted in terror. When Uraraka gasped loudly, Bakugou showed a hint of guilt.

Midoriya turned his attention to Kirishima. Oh god. The explosion had burnt away his clothing, as well as underlying bandages, to expose freshly burnt skin. How was that even possible? They had just seen Kirishima block that same kind of explosion.

“Oh my god Ei are you okay?” Uraraka knelt next to him, ready to help him however he may need.

Iida was not enough to hold the villagers back now, especially with Kirishima injured by Bakugou’s hands. They started to surge toward Bakugou, and he was too distracted to notice. Midoriya grabbed Bakgou’s arm and pulled him behind him so Midoriya could stand before the crowd. He missed Kirishima’s response to Uraraka.

“Everyone! Please! Kacchan did not mean to hurt Ei! This has been a bit chaotic, but let us all calm down and try to figure out what is happening together!”

They had become a mob again. Anger electrified the air and the people managed to stay still long enough for Midoriya to speak with them. Their desire to rid themselves of Bakugou was palpable. Damn this was not good.

“I’m sorry everyone,” Kirishima’s strained voice gave the mob true pause.

Uraraka helped him stand next to Midoriya and he forced a playful smile. “I’ve been lying to all of you this whole time. I’m sorry you’ve all worried about me for so long. Sorry for how I look too-”

Voices raised, quick and loud reassurances for Kirishima’s apologies, but he raised a hand to ask for quiet again.

“My father was cursed for being inconsiderate to his people. The witch cursed me as an added incentive to him. Bakugou, he’s been staying with me only recently, my situation isn’t his fault. He’s cursed just like me.” His breath was heavy with pain. He dropped his head and leaned heavily against Uraraka.

The village doctor pushed his way to the front of the crowd. “Eijirou, none of us blame you. Sir Midoriya is right, we can all talk about this, but that can be later. Let’s get that burn taken care of.” His eyes flickered to glare at Bakugou.

Kirishima laughed weakly as he lifted his head again. “Thank you. Don’t be too mad at Bakugou for my injury, it’s my fault for being reckless.” His voice dropped and grew cold. Midoriya had never heard anyone with such a chilled anger. “You can blame him how you all had to find out about this.”

Midoriya stared in disbelief. With his back turned and not a look spared over his shoulder, Kirishima did not see how distraught Bakugou looked. Midoriya had never seen Bakugou looking so lost or helpless before. He stared at the ground, his teeth digging into his bottom lip. As the doctor and Uraraka assisted Kirishima in heading back to the village, Bakugou did not budge. Kirishima did not look to him or try to speak to him as he left.

Soon it was just the two of them standing on the path.

Bakugou had yet to move and Midoriya wondered if he was trying not to cry. Before Midoriya could try to ask, Bakugou stood straight, picked up a discarded glove, and headed down the path in the opposite direction of the town. Midoriya followed him, a frown pulling at his mouth. “Kacchan, don’t you think-”

“Fuck off, Deku.” His voice was gravely and lacked the usual vigor his ‘fuck off’s usually held.

Midoriya actually almost felt bad for him. It had been years since Midoriya had seen Bakugou, but he had kept up with news of Bakugou’s travels. He had still been just as self absorbed and solitary as he had been when they were younger. He only ever worked alone and never interacted with any of the other knights under his lord’s patronage. When he was not hunting monsters alone, he spent time with his family. No one else. But now, Bakugou had been staying with Kirishima. They were friends. Kirishima’s anger clearly unsettled Bakugou. They kept walking down the path and Midoriya asked quietly, “Ei is really important to you, isn’t he?”

Bakugou’s faltered, but did not stop. He growled without any true energy behind it. “That’s none of your fucking business, fucking Deku. Just leave me alone.”

“If you just apologize, I’m sure Ei would like if you were with him right now and-”

“Leave me alone!” Bakugou whirled on his heels and threw a gloved punch.

Midoriya caught it easily enough. The look in Bakugou’s watering eyes spoke of the emotional turmoil he was going through, as well as the panic he was surely feeling in response to it. Had Bakugou ever cared about someone outside of his family as he cared for Kirishima right now? It was probably scary. Midoriya kept his voice level, showed nothing of his thoughts as he said, “I’m sure you’re confused with yourself right now, Kacchan. But if you care about Ei you should get over yourself right now and go to him before you make things worse.”

Panic flashed across Bakugou’s eyes before he narrowed them and snarled. “You don’t know anything about Kirishima. Fuck off. He’ll come home once he’s patched up and then things will be fine again. I’m only going to make things worse by going into that fucking town where everyone wants to fucking kill me.”

Sometime in Bakugou’s posture gave away the shred of doubt he felt in those words. But he still turned away from Midoriya and continued toward the manor. Midoriya did not trying following him again. He watched him disappear around a bend and quietly sighed.

Iida appeared at his side. He must have stayed hidden to follow them at a distance just in case Bakugou grew violent again. Midoriya appreciated it. “I do not have many memories of Bakugou, but I do remember he had few emotions outside of anger and contempt. I did not think he could have more.”

Midoriya snorted and pat Iida on the back. “Kacchan probably thought the same. Let’s go see how Ei is doing. There’s nothing we can do for Kacchan at this point.”

“But he clearly loves-”

“I know, Iida, I know.” He smiled sadly and stared down the path Bakugou disappeared down. “I just hope Kacchan knows it.”

Chapter Text

The manor was big . Somehow Bakugou had never noticed just how big the place was when Kirishima was around. Kirishima had a way of filling the vast emptiness of the manor with his presence. It had been three days, only three days since Kirishima went into town, but it felt like an eternity. How had Kirishima survived alone before Bakugou came along? Really how long had he been stuck with only brief, disguised visits to town as his only solace? Bakugou had never been able to get a straight answer out of Kirishima about that. Now he feared that answer.

Just three days alone in the empty manor, in a bed too big for one, just three days and Bakugou was ready to go absolutely insane. He hated– hated– being stuck alone with his thoughts like this. Kirishima was ingrained in every room. It was impossible to do anything, be anywhere without being reminded of his crippling guilt. Bakugou Katsuki felt guilty , truly honestly guilty for the first time in his life. He was mad at himself most of all because he deserved every second of it.

He was angry that first day. That first day, he reacted as anyone (including himself) would expect him to. Kirishima had been acting like a dumbass, they got in a fight. Suddenly the entire fucking village was there to make things worse. And then fucking Midoriya of all people had to show up. It was too much stupidity to handle and Bakugou lashed out accordingly. He hurt Kirishima again in the process.

And then Kirishima got mad. Kirishima. Mad. It was almost funny–in that absolutely not funny at all kind of way–how Bakugou’s entire relationship with Kirishima started with the intentions of driving him to anger. Here he was, months down the line and he finally achieved his initial goal. He succeed in making Kirishima angry and regretted it with every fiber of his being.

They argued plenty, but even sensitive topics like Bakugou going into town had never made Kirishima truly angry. Disgruntled and extremely irritated Bakugou could handle, but an angry Kirishima was something Bakugou thought could not exist. Even when Kirishima was trying to fight him to get him to go home, Bakugou just saw it as Kirishima being stubborn. But then the mess with the villagers started. And then Bakugou hurt Kirishima. It was not like Bakugou expected Kirishima to be happy about Bakugou accidentally hurting him again, but he thought Kirishima would at least know how much Bakugou regretted it. He never thought that would be the last straw.

Kirishima’s anger was cold and frightening. It contradicted with his personality too much, it made him feel like a completely different person. His anger was like icicles, froze over every inch of his being and reached across the space to take hold of Bakugou’s heart. Kirishima ignored him with that anger, did not even grace Bakugou with a cold stare. Bakugou had not been worth that. Bakugou had never felt so small.

The worst part of it all, was coming back to the empty manor with the full realization he deserved every bit of Kirishima’s anger. He was a complete and utter asshole and had to stew in it until Kirishima came home. If Kirishima ever forgave him and came home. When had this empty manor become home?

Bakugou spent most of his time in the garden. Inside was too gloomy. The warm sun at least lessened the ache of Kirishima’s absence. Besides, the garden was not going to look after itself. Kirishima would be sad if his flowers and vegetables went neglected. It would be easier for Kirishima to forgive him if Bakugou did nice things for him, right?

No matter how hard Bakugou tried to keep the dark thought from returning, it was impossible to ignore the persistent fear that Kirishima would not forgive him. Bakugou had no idea how to make things better. He knew he monumentally fucked up, but how much of his actions had been irredeemable? Had it just been blowing up Kirishima’s cloak that pushed Kirishima over the edge? Or had Bakugou hurting him added on to that? Maybe fighting with the townspeople was another reason Kirishima was so angry. How was Bakugou supposed to make up for all of that stuff?

Four days. Morning of the fourth day and still no sign of Kirishima. Bakugou considered going into town to plead his case and hopefully gain Kirishima’s forgiveness. But if he did that and the villagers tried to fight him again, surely that would only add to Kirishima’s anger, right? Besides, what if it was too soon to see Kirishima? If he went now and Kirishima was still super pissed, he could also make it worse that way. How long did it usually take people to be capable of forgiveness? Dammit!

Bakugou always thought of himself as superior in every way possible. He was strong, the strongest . He was smart, so fucking smart that it surprised people and he loved shocking fuckers for thinking he was just all brute strength. Making friends, caring about people, knowing how to maintain relationships, all of that shit had always seemed beneath him. None of it mattered to him and his superiority was not hindered in the least because of it.

Now, now he felt like the lowest of idiots.

Fucking Midoriya would know how to fix this situation. Fucking Midoriya would not have even gotten himself into this bullshit mess to begin with. Midoriya was kind and soft and understood how other’s feelings worked. It pissed Bakugou off to no end how Midoriya had always seemed to understand him when they were younger. Meanwhile Bakugou could only ever process Midoriya’s actions as looking down on him. Older, wiser, calmer Bakugou could look back and understand that had never been the case. This same older Bakugou, for the first time, saw Midoriya’s compassion and empathy as anything other than a weakness. Dare he think it, those qualities could even be strengths. Regardless of how he viewed those traits, the biggest issue was Midoriya had something Bakugou lacked. If he was lower than Midoriya, what hope was there?

The manor had gotten to be too much. It was impossible to be inside those walls and not be consumed by weak thoughts. Bakugou set up camp in the front yard. When–if–Kirishima returned, he would know immediately. The already meager food supplies were gone, so Bakugou chanced leaving to go hunting. No one was there when he returned. Bakugou had been expecting as much, so why was he still disappointed?

Day five and quiet footsteps on the pebble path of the garden jerked Bakugou’s attention from the flowers. His heart pounded in his chest and his mouth went dry. Kirishima was back. What was Bakugou supposed to say? What if Kirishima told him to leave? It was too soon, Bakugou was going to screw this up and-

Kirishima was not the one on the path.

It was that damn girl. Midoriya’s friend. The knight. The girl he had seen Kirishima talking with in town.

A chill ran through Bakugou’s veins. He had forgotten all about that encounter he witnessed. Kirishima had said he was not interested in any of the townsfolk when Bakugou asked, so why should he think of her again? But, she was not a villager. She had accepted Kirishima’s appearance instantly and had helped him when Bakugou was making a fool out of himself. What if. What if Kirishima had sent her to tell Bakugou to leave because he wanted her to break his curse?

Bakugou sneered. “What the fuck do you want?”

She hardly bat an eye at his rude greeting, and her gaze was steel. “You need to come to town and apologize to Eijirou!”

The fuck did she think she was telling him what to do.

“Who the fuck are you to be calling him Eijirou.” Bakugou threw the pruning shears he had been using on the ground and advanced toward her. “Kirishima will come back when he wants an apology. So fuck off.”

Even as he stopped toe to toe with her, glaring down at her with his nastiest sneer, she did not waver. She crossed her arms and met his glare with her own hardening. “Eijirou is my friend and he likes being called by his first name by his friends.” Was that a hint of smugness in her eyes? Bakugou ground his teeth and resisted the urge to punch her. “And Eijirou has been wanting an apology all week, but he’s not about to come to you to get it. How much of an idiot are you? You’re the one that did wrong. You have to pull all the stops to work for his forgiveness.”

“I’m not a fucking idiot,” he growled, raising a threatening fist. Again, she did not back down nor flinch. If anything his unspoken threat only made her square her shoulders and lean in closer to him. “I’m doing him a favor by not riling up his precious villagers. Fuck off you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She rolled her eyes. Bakugou clenched his jaw so hard it hurt. Did she want him to fight her?! “Honestly, your reasoning doesn’t matter. You’re clearly not trying to think about how Eijirou must feel like right now. Because to him it just seems like you don’t think he’s worth apologizing to.”

“What?” Bakugou dropped his fist. He took a step back in hope of concealing the panic that coursed through him. Why would Kirishima think that? Bakugou was not that much of an asshole. Kirishima supposedly thought he was. But it had been almost a week since they last saw each other. And Bakugou did not say anything before Kirishima was helped into town. Oh god Kirishima had every reason to think he was that much of an asshole. “Fuck.”

The girl’s glare softened. No fuck, she better not be pitying him. But her tone had softened as well. “I know you regret how everything happened and want to make things better with him. Just come back to town with me and see him, okay?”

Fuck her and her pity. Bakugou clenched his fists. “Fuck off I don’t regret anything. I just feel bad about it. I’ll go see him when I fucking will and don’t need you to escort me.”

Bakugou was not sure what she did, but one second he was glaring down at her, and the next he was flat on the ground with her foot on his chest. Her brows were knit together in her anger. “You’re just as stupidly prideful as when we were pages! Get your head out of your ass Bakugou! Eijirou has hardly been sleeping or eating this whole week he’s so upset! The doctor says he’s not healing right because he’s so mentally unwell! The only reason I came up here was for him ! Come to town or not, Eijirou’s health is on you!”

Wind magic. Bakugou remembered her now. Uraraka almost outsmarted him in a sparring match when they were pages with her wind magic. She had improved through the years. He was not in top form to have allowed her to get the jump on him like that. Fuck. Bakugou sneered up at her, and she just huffed with a roll of her eyes. She took her foot off him and turned on her heel to leave. The pressure on his chest did not leave with her foot. He felt like he was glued to the ground till she was out of sight.

Even with the magical pressure gone, Bakugou remained on the ground staring at the sky. The weight of her words were finally setting in. Kirishima was being a dumbass and hurting himself even more because of Bakugou. Dammit. Dammit . Bakugou slammed his fists on the ground. Why did he keep fucking up with Kirishima? How was he supposed to face Kirishima now? How did not matter, he just had to do it. Fuck.

Bakugou pushed himself up and did his best to ignore how his entire body felt like his was made of lead. His stomach had a rock in it, or maybe his heart had just dropped down there. Fuck he was being such a wimp about this. Fucking Uraraka was right. He needed to get his head out of his ass. He should finish up in the garden before he went to see Kirishima…

The sun was close to setting by the time Bakugou finally set out to town. It was not like he had been dragging his feet or anything, but he really needed to finish the garden work for Kirishima. And if the apology went well and according to plan, the manor really should be in perfect condition for Kirishima to come back home. And flowers were a good way to express regret, right?

Bakugou stared at the collection of flowers he had to present to Kirishima. Maybe sitting in the garden and laboring over which flowers to bring had not been the best use of his time. If he were being honest with himself, yeah, he had been procrastinating going to town just a little bit. A lot. Yeah, okay, dammit, he had put it off as long as he could. He was fucking nervous as hell and despite knowing he needed to go today, he really did not want to. What Bakugou wanted was for everything to go back to normal, but that was impossible without going. Dammit.

He clenched his fists, then quickly loosened his death grip on the bouquet he had slaved over. With his damned luck, this was going to make everything even worse than if he just stayed in the manor. Maybe the villagers would try to fight him again. Maybe they would not even tell him where to go… Why the fuck did Uraraka not tell him where Kirishima was staying? Because he had been rude as hell, but still.

This was all for the sake of seeing Kirishima smile at him again. He needed to sincerely apologize for the first time ever all for the hope of Kirishima forgiving him with that warm, welcoming smile. Hell, if he was really lucky Kirishima would try to do that stupid thing where he apologized when he did nothing wrong. That was the kind of person Kirishima was. He had every bit of Bakugou’s strength, and an empathy that rivaled Midoriya’s. He shined brighter than anyone Bakugou had ever met. Kirishima was too good for him.

Once upon a time, Bakugou thought no one would ever measure up to how highly he held himself. He was the best in everything he did. Yet somehow, over these few months Kirishima not only reached Bakugou’s level, but somehow surpassed it. Kindness had never been a strength in Bakugou’s opinion until he met Kirishima. He had always known he was a shitty person. Now that very fact could make Bakugou lose Kirishima because he was not as good as him.

Bakugou never wanted to lose Kirishima.

Sooner or later he was going to leave to pursue his aspiration, but he always wanted this. He wanted to be able to come back to this shitty little town to a manor way too big for one person. Those months where there were no monsters for him to hunt, he wanted to spend them here with his personal beast. He wanted more lazy afternoons pressed close in a childish blanket fort while reading. He wanted endless nights with Kirishima’s warmth next to him. He wanted to see Kirishima’s smile turned to him for the rest of his days. Maybe he could convince Kirishima to go on adventures with him. Even the thought of being separated from him for a few months put a dull ache in his chest. Because.

Because he loved that dumb shitty hair.

Fuck !

Bakugou scuffed his boot in the dirt of the path, scowling at the offended ground as if this realization was its fault. No, he had known this for a while but had refused to acknowledge it. Hell, he had tried to fucking kiss Kirishima on more than one occasion before he caught himself. It had been easy to just push it off to the side of his mind, pretend he had just been spacing out. But deep down, deep down he knew. Fuck! He was so stupid for ignoring this! Maybe, maybe if he had just told Kirishima about his goddamn feelings he would have understood why Bakugou was being such an asshole. He had be worried to hell and back about Kirishima traveling town by himself. Fuck he should have just been honest about his feelings and-

No, that still did not excuse his shitty fucking actions. He needed to apologize profusely and gain Kirishima’s forgiveness first. It would be even shittier to try to cover up his apology with a love confession… Was he going to confess to Kirishima tonight? Dammit he was just assuming Kirishima was going to forgive him no problem! That kind of attitude was what got him into this mess in the first place. He seriously took Kirishima’s goodwill for granted.

So deep in his thoughts, Bakugou had arrived to town without even realizing it. A group of villagers suddenly blocked the path, arms crossed and glares stern. Oh come on. He did not have the time or patience to deal with this shit.

“You should just leave before you hurt Eijirou more.”

Bakugou grit his teeth. He was trying to fix things, not make them worse. Do not fight the villagers. Kirishima cared about these idiots. Do not fight them. Take a deep breath before responding to their dumbasses.

“You guys, let Kacchan through. He’s here to apology to Ei, right?”

It just had to be Midoriya. Of all the people to come to assist him, it had to be him. Bakugou would have even readily accepted Uraraka or that glasses kid’s help, but no. It had to be Midoriya. Bakugou strained to keep from crushing his flowers by accident. He had to keep his cool. Losing his shit when Midoriya arrived made everything ten times worse last time.

Through a clenched jaw, Bakugou spit out. “Yeah. I am.”

Those three words hurt every fiber of his being, but dammit it was for Kirishima. Even when Midoriya’s big fucking smile made Bakugou want to punch his face, he remained still. The villagers seemed unimpressed, but moved aside without any further prompting. Midoriya nodded cheerfully and gestured for Bakugou to follow him. It took every ounce of Bakugou’s self control to silently follow Midoriya. All he wanted to do was snap and walk on his own, but he would only look like a damned fool since he had no idea where Kirishima was staying.

This was for Kirishima. This was for Kirishima.

Unfortunately, Midoriya seemed to have a death wish and decided to make fucking small talk. “We were really worried you still weren’t going to come even after Uraraka talked to you. We didn’t tell Ei she went to see you, but he kinda figured it out with how angry she was…” Midoriya trailed off, and Bakugou easily filled in the blank. Kirishima was upset before, he must be even worse now. Fuck. “Well, to say the least I’m just really happy you’re here for him, Kacchan.”

“Fucking shut up, Deku.” Bakugou glared holes into Midoriya’s back. “I don’t care how you feel.”

Of course he would not just take a hint and shut up. Midoriya glanced over his shoulder with a small smile. “But you care about how Ei feels. And that’s what matters.” He glanced down and his smile grew. “I think Ei will like the flowers you picked out for him.”

Bakugou’s cheeks filled with heat and he hid the bouquet behind his back. Fucking Midoriya, what the fuck was his damage did he want to pick a fight? Before Bakugou could form a proper response, he quickly ducked down to avoid a punch to his face.

“You’re a bigger asshole than I could have imagined!” Uraraka yelled, gearing up to launch herself at him again. Iida raced out of the inn after her to hold her back. “It took you the entire afternoon to drag your ass down here?! Go inside and talk to him right now!”

Iida picked her up off her feet so she was just kicking fruitlessly at the air. He frowned at Bakugou and said, “I would let her go if Eijirou didn’t need your apology so much right now. He’s upstairs, first room on the right.”

Bakugou sneered at all of them. “You’re the fucking lucky ones I have a handful of flowers for that dumbass. I could kick your asses with just one hand.”

Uraraka looked ready to slam him to the ground again, but he left before she could use her magic again. Now he was in a shit mood about to try to apologize to Kirishima. This was going to go wonderfully. God dammit. Fucking shit. Bakugou stood in front of the door, fist raised to knock but unable to move. He was frozen in fear. What if Kirishima told him off? What if Kirishima never wanted to see him again? What if Kirishima refused to forgive him? How was he going to get over that? Right when he acknowledged his feeling for the idiot too!

“I know you’re there,” Kirishima’s voice sounded from inside. “Either come in or stay away. You’re pretty good at doing that.”

“Oh fuck you!” Bakugou pushed his way in, slamming the door shut behind him. He chucked the flowers at Kirishima, who was slowly pushing himself upright in the bed. “I came here to fucking apologize but if you’re going be like that I might as well have stayed away!”

Kirishima looked like shit. There was dark bags under his eyes and his skin looked pale behind his scales. He stared at the flowers now strewn across the covers, then leveled Bakugou with a deadpan stare. “You’re starting that apology off swimmingly.”

Shit.

Fuck.

Bakugou ground his teeth and roughly ran his hands through his hair. Dammit! He was supposed to be groveling and shit, not throwing flowers at Kirishima and yelling at him! “Sh-shut up! That wasn’t the start of my apology. Fuck! Those fucking clowns you call friends pissed me off! I didn’t mean to throw those at you, sorry, shit.” He moved a chair next to the bed and sat down with a groan. “You look like shit. Why aren’t you sleeping?”

Kirishima hardly reacted to Bakugou’s outbursts. He slowly looked down and started collecting the scattered flowers. His dead eyed look was so wrong and Bakugou would rather even that bone chilling anger than this. “I can’t sleep.”

“Well that fucking bit-” Kirishima winced and Bakugou quickly corrected himself. “-Uraraka implied you aren’t sleeping because of me. So I guess I gotta apologize about that too. Fuck. I’m sorry, I’m really shit at this. I’ve never apologized to anyone like this before. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

He wiped his gloved hands on his pants, as if he had sweat to wipe away, before reaching out to hold Kirishima’s hand. Kirishima flinched slightly, but still allowed Bakugou to clasp their hands together. Dammit why wouldn’t Kirishima look up at him already? “I’m fucking sorry I didn’t come sooner, okay? I thought I was doing you a fucking favor because clearly these fucking villagers don’t like me. I thought it would be better if I just waited for you to come home but clearly I was fucking wrong- Fuck! Kirishima! I’ve really fucking missed you, please look at me?”

Ever so slowly Kirishima raised his eyes from the pile of flowers to meet Bakugou’s pleading stare. Tears brimmed his eyes, threatening to fall any second. Bakugou’s breath caught in his throat. Oh god Kirishima was going to cry, he was not going to be able to handle this.

“You-you’re a complete idiot,” Kirishima’s voice shook from his building tears. “I thought- I thought you didn’t think I wasn’t worth apologizing to-” His voice cracked and a fat tear escaped to run down his cheek. “I thought maybe you just left because you felt like all of this wasn’t worth dealing w-with-”

It was like a dam breaking. Tears streamed down Kirishima’s cheeks without abandon. Last time Bakugou saw Kirishima cry, it had been a bittersweet sobbing. Kirishima’s tears now were full of the pain and anxiety he had been holding in for the past week. Bakugou’s chest ached. This was his fault. Kirishima was this upset because of him. God he was such an asshole.

“Hey, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m a complete fuck up asshole.” Bakugou reached up to try to wipe some of the tears from Kirishima’s face, but his hand was smacked away.

Kirishima glared through his hiccuping sobs as he pulled his other hand from Bakugou’s hold. “Yeah! You are! A-and you still haven’t apologized!”

“The fuck? I just did! Are you deaf?” Bakugou furrowed his brows, leaning back in the chair with arms crossed. What the hell was Kirishima on about? “I’m sorry! There I said it again! Want me to grovel on the damn ground for it to be a real apology?”

“You’re fucking hopeless!” Kirishima fell back on the headboard, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to control his tears. It did not work too well. He bit his lip and opened his eyes again to whimper out pitifully, “Do you even know what you did wrong besides the obvious?”

Bakugou was stunned silent. Was this a trick question? What kind of answer did Kirishima want here? What answer would get Kirishima to stop crying… “I’m… sorry I was stupid. I’m sorry I hurt you again. And- I’m sorry I fought with the villagers.” He paused, then added quietly. “And I’m sorry I blew up your cloak…”

“That’s the obvious, Bakugou!” Kirishima burst into another wave of hard tears. His entire body shook with his sobs and he was clearly struggling to try to compose himself. Bakugou hesitantly reached out to try to comfort him, but Kirishima shied away from him. “You completely ignored me! You had zero respect for my opinion, feelings, or decisions! You just decided you were right about everything like you always do and didn’t pause for a second to consider anyone else besides yourself! You just took away my decision to reveal my secret and don’t even seem to realize why what you did is wrong!”

Half of what Kirishima said was hard to understand through his tears, but Bakugou managed to get what was important. Mainly, that he was literally the biggest asshole in the entire universe. As if that fact was ever in question. As Kirishima dissolved into incomprehensible sobs, Bakugou slowly climbed onto the bed next to him. Kirishima weakly tried to shove him away, but Bakugou just pulled him into a tight hug and nuzzled his face between Kirishima’s horns. Every bit of tension in Kirishima’s body melted away as he curled into Bakugou’s chest and cried harder.

“I’m sorry, Kir- Ei-Eijirou.” Kirishima hiccup and hugged Bakugou tighter at the sound of his given name. “I’m no fucking good at feelings or understanding other people. I never bothered to try and never gave a fuck about it. But-but, I want to get better at this–this shit–for you, okay? I’m sorry I didn’t respect you or try to understand what you were feeling. I want to work at it-” His voice caught. Shit, his heart was hammering so hard in his chest. Kirishima probably felt it. Bakugou swallowed roughly before finishing. “If you want me to stick around, I promise I’ll work real fucking hard at getting better at this feelings shit. You don’t have to forgive me right now, I’ll take just letting me stay with you.”

They sat like that for a while, Kirishima curled into Bakugou’s embrace as he cried out the stress of the past week. It was too much for Bakugou. He tried to bite back his own tears, he was the jerk here, he did not deserve to cry. But he felt so damned shitty and relieved that Kirishima had not pushed him away yet, that he could no longer deny the stinging in his eyes. He silently buried his face in Kirishima’s shitty hair and let the tears fall.

Eventually, Kirishima squirmed so Bakugou let him go enough that he could sit up. Bakugou kept his arms around him, and took comfort that Kirishima still leaned into him the slightest bit. His tears had yet to dry up, but Kirishima was no longer overwhelmed by his sobs. “You would do that? For me?”

Bakugou scrunched his brows. Was that really so hard to believe? “Yeah I’d fucking working on feelings shit for you dumbass. I don’t want to be the reason you ever cry like this again.”

“Why?”

Was Kirishima really asking that? Bakugou brought a gloved hand to Kirishima’s face and wiped at his wet cheek with his thumb. His heart was about to beat out of his chest, but there was no going back now. He was not sure if Kirishima had forgiven him yet or not, but there was only one truthful response to that question. Their faces were a breath’s width apart, when had that happened? “Because I care about you, Eijirou.” The next step only made sense.

After wondering so many times, Bakugou was delighted to learn Kirishima’s lips were as soft as they looked.

Kirishima was frozen and did not respond to his kiss. Bakugou pulled away and was met by a bright red, wide eyed Kirishima. “You just kissed me!” He yelled, hands flying up to hold his burning face.

“What the fuck- Wasn’t it obvious that was where I was going!?” Bakugou yelled back, rolling out of the bed to his feet, his own cheeks starting to burn. Why did Kirishima have to go and ruin the moment? What the fuck Bakugou felt so cool and now he just felt embarrassed!

“N-No!?” Kirishima floundered for a moment. “You said you cared about me! How was I supposed to know you were going to kiss me!? You kissed me! Why did you kiss me?!”

Bakugou screamed and covered his ears. “Stop saying it! Oh my god! Shut up! Don’t make me spell this out! Oh my god I thought you were supposed to be good at this feelings shit! Fuck you!”

“Hey guys is everything okay, there’s a lot of screaming-” Midoriya called out, opening the door.

“Fuck off!” Bakugou yelled.

Kirishima grabbed the covers and pulled them over head. “Everything’s fine Midoriya! We’re fine! Could you leave us alone a little longer?”

The door closed once more and only their heavy breathing sounded in the room. Ever so slowly, Kirishima peeked out from under the covers. “You kissed me,” he said in an accusing tone.

Bakugou scowled and turned his back to Kirishima. He was not going to be able to say this while facing the idiot. It was a wonder his voice remained steady as he bit out, “Because I fucking love your dumb ass.”

Silence.

Fuck.

His heart had a vice grip around it as he turned around to face Kirishima again. What if- what if Kirishima was upset- did not feel the same way- Kirishima had the biggest smile on his face. Bakugou forgot how to breathe. Kirishima’s cheeks were a vibrant red, almost the same color as his hair or the scales on his body. The black scales across his face only made his flush stand out more. His red eyes shined brighter than any of the summer days they had spent together.

“You love me.” Kirishima said it as a fact, not a hint of doubt in his voice. He repeated it not as a question, but as a confident declaration. It made Bakugou’s blood run hot and his head spin.

Bakugou scowled and glared at the ground, unable to handle Kirishima’s brilliance anymore. “Yeah, idiot. I do. I know it doesn’t excuse any of my behavior, but, I guess it might help you understand why I’ve been a complete fuck up. This is all new and hard for me, okay? I’ve never– anyone before. Ever.”

“Oh my god,” Kirishima squeaked. Bakugou glanced up to see his hands covering his face as his smile somehow only grew. “You’re adorable.”

“What the fuck!” Bakugou was sure he was going to fucking explode from embarrassment. He took a step forward, fists raised. “The fuck did you say? Do you want me to kick your ass?!”

Kirishima only laughed and grabbed his fists, planting a smooch on each. It efficiently shut Bakugou up and froze him in place. Kirishima looked up with sparkling eyes, a shining smile, and pulled Bakugou back onto the bed. He hugged Bakugou close, nestling his face in his hair. “I love you too, Katsuki. You’re forgiven because I love you too damn much to stay mad at you when you’re trying so hard.” Kirishima shook with quiet laughter as he sang, “And you kissed me~”

“I take everything back,” Bakugou grumbled into Kirishima’s chest, wrapping his arms around his waist. “I actually hate you a lot.”

“Nope! No take backs!” Kirishima giggled and hugged Bakugou closer. “Besides, I dunno if you’re gonna find anyone else that appreciates how cute you are.”

Bakugou sneered. “I’m not fucking cute. Fuck you. You’re the cute one.”

A strangled noises sounded above him. Bakugou pulled away to see Kirishima once again bright red with a flustered smile. God dammit . He had said it flippantly, but Kirishima was honest to god damned adorable. And Bakugou never thought anything was adorable. He scowled and dragged Kirishima into him, nestling his head between his horns once more. “Fuck you and what you do to my fucking heart.”

Kirishima laughed breathlessly, limply sinking into Bakugou. “You sure do know how to lay on the romance.”

“Shut up. You’re the one that ruined my perfectly fucking romantic moment.”

“When you kiss-”

Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s horn to jerk his head back and kiss him again. “Yeah! I fucking did it! And did it again! Stop saying it you piece of shit!”

“What- That wasn’t fair!” Kirishima whined, grabbing Bakugou’s head to drag him back down. “I wasn’t ready for either of those! Redo!”

They were both bright red when their lips met once more. Kirishima was ready this time. And despite Bakugou having his eyes squeezed shut tight, he was all too aware that Kirishima was staring. He cracked an eyelid open and sure enough, Kirishima was staring right at him. He broke the kiss with a grumbled, “What are you staring at, fuck ass.”

“You~” Kirishima sang shamelessly.

Honestly- What the fuck. Bakugou growled and dragged Kirishima down into his embrace again. “Your kissing privileges are revoked until further notice.”

Kirishima whined playfully and tried to tickle him to no avail. He eventually relaxed against Bakugou with quiet scattered chuckles. The warmth in Bakugou’s chest almost made it feel like he was going to float out of his body. Maybe this was just all a dream…

He ran his gloved fingers through Kirishima’s hair with a soft sigh. No, no way this was a dream. Kirishima’s breathing slowed as he began to drift off, and Bakugou continued to stroke his hair till he was completely out. From the bags under his eyes, this was probably going to be his first decent sleep all week.

Guilt still lingered in Bakugou’s heart, and he expected it would linger a while more. Kirishima may have forgiven him, but all was not going to immediately go back to normal yet.

But for now.

Bakugou stared at Kirishima’s peacefully sleeping face. He placed a soft kiss to Kirishima’s forehead, unable to keep a smile from spreading across his face.

For now, things were perfect.

Chapter Text

The very notion of normalcy shattered with Bakugou’s arrival so many months ago. Kirishima welcomed the destruction of his lonesome days. Despite all those months of Bakugou’s presence, Kirishima not once allowed himself to believe this could be regular. It would surely have to end eventually.

He had been right.

Just, not in the way he had initially believed.

It was never feasible for their days of solitude, their days of just the two of them, to become constant. Their days of sparring and reading in a blanket fort were not built to last, at least, not on their own. Kirishima had to a build a new normal now that his village was back in his life, and this normal included Bakugou.

After years of keeping himself separate from his town, it came as no surprise that Kirishima found a reason to make his way down the mountain every day. The townsfolk were more than happy to accept his offer of help for, well, just about anything. Kirishima was elated to integrate himself in the town’s inner workings again.

Bakugou tagged along on Kirishima’s trips down to town. The townsfolk were understandably wary of him, because Bakugou’s behavior had not changed much for the better. But the simple fact he was not sticking behind and sulking in the manor showed Kirishima he was attempting to try, which actually was sort of trying his best. It warmed him through and through.

Because Bakugou cared . Bakugou wanted to change for the better, for Kirishima . Because Bakugou Katsuki was in love with him.

“Woah there boy! You’re about to hammer your finger off there!” The carpenter Kirishima was helping snatched the hammer out of his hands.

Kirishima stared up at him in a bit of a daze. Shoot. He did it again. It was so easy to zone out thinking about the fact that Bakugou Katsuki was in-

The carpenter laughed and ruffled Kirishima’s hair between his horns. The casual gesture made Kirishima’s breath hitch. His townsfolk were so quick to accept him, to treat him like a normal man instead of one with horns and scales.

“Your head is in the clouds, Eijirou. I appreciate your help, but I think I’ll be good finishing up. Why don’t you go find who your mind is on?”

While the townsfolk were slow to accept Bakugou as a person, they did not extend that reluctance toward Kirishima’s feelings for him. Honestly, what had Kirishima done in a past life to deserve such an amazing village?

The biggest of grins spread across Kirishima’s face as he jumped to his feet. “You caught me. Thanks for letting me help out!”

Smile easily returned, the carpenter shooed Kirishima off. “I should be the one thanking you, boy. Go have a carefree afternoon.”

While Kirishima had certainly one too many afternoons with no responsibilities through the years, carefree had never been part of the equation. A 100 percent carefree afternoon with Bakugou sounded like heaven. After all, they were in love .

Kirishima could hardly contain the giddy laughter that threatened to erupt with the simple thought. Unsurprisingly, talking about their newly found mutual feelings was the last thing Bakugou wanted to do. Every time Kirishima tried to bring it up, Bakugou swiftly shut him up with the cutest of blushes. Kirishima could hardly be upset about it, considering Bakugou’s method of shutting him up involved kissing. Bakugou claimed it was the easiest way to get him to stop talking.

And, well, he was not wrong.

Very little had changed between them since Bakugou’s apology and confession. Kirishima could hardly complain, considering the little that had changed was the kissing. Bakugou’s angry ‘shut up Kirishima’ kisses were perfect. Life was amazing and perfect. Kirishima would suffer through his years of solitude tenfold just to continue living this dream. What could possibly go wrong?

“Eijirou!” Uraraka’s voice was frantic as she rounded a building and collided into his chest.

He hardly faltered at the collision, holding her upright with furrowed brows. “Yeah?”

“You gotta follow me right now !” Her tone was urgent, yet her eyes were alight with excitement.

“Is something wrong or-?”

“What? No! Oh god, you just have to see this!” Uraraka grabbed his hand and lead him back from where she came at a run. She slowed down as they neared the town square and beckoned for him to peek around the corner.

A gaggle of children sat around the fountain in the middle of the square. Standing on the ledge of the fountain was none other than Bakugou. He had his arms raised high, a cocky grin spread across his face.

“It towered over the mountain it was so big.”

A chorus of gasps ran through the group. One of the girls bounced in her seat and called out, “Weren’t you scared ?!”

Bakugou’s grin only stood to grow. He jabbed his thumb at his chest. “Hell no. I’m a goddamn knight, remember? It’s my job to kill monsters and not be scared!”

The kids were clearly awestruck as they begged for him to continue his story. Bakugou was more than happy to oblige. He jumped right back into his tale, pride radiating off of him.

“Oh my god,” Kirishima gasped. He had to look away. It was too much. How was this possible. He covered his face as he sunk to the ground. “Ochako? He’s adorable?!”

Uraraka squat next to him giggling. “I couldn’t believe it when the kids cornered him and he actually entertained their barrage of questions. Next thing I knew he was telling them stories about his ventures!”

“He’s such a show off,” Kirishima whined. “I love him so much.”

“He makes the worst first impressions.” Uraraka laughed quietly and pat his head. “But I’m slowly understanding why you put up with him. Wanna go join story time?”

Kirishima shook his head and peeked around the corner again. “I think I’ll just keep watching from here. He’ll probably get embarrassed and stop if I tried to join them.”

Uraraka stood with a small nod. “You’re probably right. Mind if I leave you?”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re busy! Thanks for guiding me here.”

After Uraraka left, Bakugou’s story time only got better. The kids hung off his every word and Bakugou fed off their attention. Their excited questions elicited more stories that only heightened their excitement. Kirishima felt just like the children from his hidden spot. He had never seen this side of Bakugou before. He was possibly falling in love all over again.

“Mr. Bakugou! Did you come here because you thought Eiji was a bad monster like the ones you usually fight?”

Bakugou looked around, as if it was a big secret. He jumped down from the fountain ledge to sit on it instead, leaning in close to his audience. Kirishima leaned as far out from his hiding spot as he could to hear Bakugou’s response.

“Yeah. I came here because I heard rumors about a fearsome monster hiding in these mountains. Instead I found a scaley idiot.”

The kids giggled and leaned in closer to Bakugou as well. Another spoke up, “So why’d you stay when it turned out he wasn’t a bad monster?”

Again, Bakugou looked around and his expression was almost uncomfortable . “I was bored and he was strong. There was something about him that made me want to stick around for a bit.”

A little girl crawled her way to the front of the group, eyes shining. “Was it love at first sight?”

Kirishima almost gave away his hiding spot he was so taken aback by the question. He clamped his hands over his mouth and fell back out of sight. That was so out of nowhere!

Bakugou fared worse than him. He made a strangled noise, cheeks flaring red as he tried to mask his embarrassment with anger. “Why the fuc- What the hell would make you ask that?!”

The girl giggled, not in the least deterred by Bakugou’s sudden change in demeanor. “Daddy was talking about how he thought you should go away for being mean to Eiji, but Mommy said we should give you a chance because Eiji likes you! You live together in the manor, right? You love each other, right?”

The barrage of questions was too much for Kirishima to handle and he was not even the one under fire. He peered around the corner once more to witness Bakugou blushing twenty different shades of red while trying to keep his cool surrounded by children. Had it been anyone over the age of fifteen, Bakugou probably would have been cursing up a storm. Kirishima was beyond smitten that even Bakugou tried to censor himself in front children.

Ever so slowly, Bakugou worked his way through his embarrassment to mutter almost too quietly for Kirishima to hear, “If I tell you about us, do you promise to put a good word in with your parents?”

Oh god.

Oh no. Kirishima fell back behind the corner and buried his face in his knees. Bakugou was too much. He was too much to handle. This was possibly the cutest thing Kirishima would ever witness. Was Bakugou seriously about to trade talking about his feelings in exchange for the village kids to turn their parents in his favor? He was! He absolutely was!

The children nodded in a chorus of agreement. Kirishima flopped onto his stomach, joining the kids’ nodding. Bakugou glanced at their surroundings once and Kirishima realized he was probably double checking to make sure Kirishima was not around. He almost felt guilty for hiding. Almost. Kirishima was just as curious as the kids to hear Bakugou’s story about falling in love.

Bakugou sighed heavily. He vigorously ran his hands through his hair, then give the kids a soft scowl. “The first time I saw stupid Eijirou, he had a ridiculous bedhead and was only wearing bright pink boxers…”

The afternoon melted away all too quickly. Villagers would pass by as Bakugou spun his tale and answered the kids’ questions, and Kirishima quickly beckoned them to keep going and not blow his cover. A few of them stopped to join the kids and listen to Bakugou’s stories. Despite promising a story about how they fell in love, Bakugou easily fell into tangents of some of their better sparring matches. The kids hardly seemed to mind, as they were just as enraptured with retellings of their spars as they were with stories of how stupid Kirishima looked with flowers in his hair.

Bakugou was visibly drained as the sun began its descent in the sky. Parents took pity on him and called their children home, a hint of approval in their eyes as the kids joyously thanked Bakugou. Once the square cleared, Bakugou groaned loudly and flopped on his back. He covered his face with his hands and groaned even louder. He had probably used up all of his patience and talking quota for the rest of the year.

Kirishima could hardly resist pushing his patience even further.

As in he did not resist.

He quietly left his hiding spot to sit in the space the kid vacated. Grinning like a complete loon, Kirishima asked in a childish tone, “But Mr. Katsuki! You never answered the most important question!”

Bakugou scrambled in surprise, almost launching himself into the fountain. He quickly diverted his limbs to fall on the ground in front of Kirishima instead. His cheeks were impossibly red and daggers were in his eyes. “Mother fucker how long have you been here?”

“Do you want the truth or what you want to hear?” Kirishima asked, batting his lashes innocently.

Another loud groan escaped Bakugou’s throat as he covered his face once more. “I’m going to fucking kill you, Kirishima. What the fuck . Fuck. Fucking fuck. Fuck I don’t even want to know how much you fucking heard. You’re not allowed to sleep in our room tonight. I’m kicking you out. I’m not cooking you dinner. Fuck you so fucking much. Fuck .”

Kirishima laughed freely, scooching closer to Bakugou to lean over his face. A low string of ‘fuck’ continued under Bakugou’s breath and Kirishima only laughed louder. Bakugou was probably going to curse excessively for the rest of the night after being on such good behavior for the kids. He grabbed Bakugou’s hands and pried them away from his heated face. “Don’t be like that Kat~su~ki! You know you’ll be lonely without me to snuggle with!”

While it was physically impossible for Bakugou’s cheeks to get any redder, but his eyes bulged slightly with the immense pressure of mortification. He snapped his hands out of Kirishima’s hold and grabbed Kirishima’s horns. He shook his head so hard Kirishima lost his train of thought and could only helplessly laugh. Bakugou only continued to curse under his breath.

Eventually he stopped, and Kirishima could only collapse on top of Bakugou, winded and slightly disoriented. Bakugou’s frustration seemed to have run its course, because he just wrapped his arms around Kirishima and pressed him against his chest. “I can’t fucking stand you,” he grumbled into Kirishima’s hair.

Kirishima hugged him back with a smile. It was not worth calling him out on his lie. They both knew the true meaning behind the statement. A harsh wind swirled through the square from the mountains, sending a shiver down Kirishima’s spine. Bakugou huffed, shoving him away so he could pull them both to their feet.

“Dumbass, it’s way too late in the season to be wearing as little as you are. It could start fucking snowing in a few weeks and here you are like it’s the middle of summer.” He wrapped an arm around Kirishima’s shoulders and led them back toward home.

It was such an exaggeration, but how could Kirishima possibly deny Bakugou an excuse to walk like this? He hummed, cheeks hurting he was smiling so wide. “I’ve spent years being overdressed whenever I come to town. I might have gone a bit too far in the opposite direction.”

Bakugou snorted and rolled his eyes. “Clearly. Fucking idiot.”

They walked in silence through the town. Everyone was already home for dinner; they did not pass a soul on their way into the forest. As the cover of the trees blocked out the remaining residual sunlight, a true chill passed over Kirishima. He happily huddled closer to Bakugou, who in turn gave him a light squeeze.

In the near dark of the forest, Kirishima had to ask again. “You never answered the first question.”

Bakugou looked down, brows furrowed as he tried to figure out which question would have been the first. His lip raised in a sneer. “Fuck if I know which you’re talking about, shitty hair.”

“Was it love at first sight?”

If it were not for Kirishima’s arms wrapped securely around Bakugou’s waist, he would have escaped before the question was finished. But no, he was effectively trapped. Bakugou scowled and tried to shove Kirishima off of him, but Kirishima held tight. He was going to get an answer of some kind!

Giving up on escape, Bakugou smacked the back of Kirishima’s head. “That’s a stupid fucking concept! No one falls in love at first sight! Stop acting like a fucking little girl.”

Kirishima pouted and gave Bakugou’s waist a squeeze. “It’s not stupid! I don’t think it happens the way love stories make it out to be, but I think it’s real. Maybe it’s not love, but I knew you it was something when you showed up.”

Bakugou’s scowl only deepened, and in the low light of twilight Kirishima could just barely make out the red on Bakugou’s cheeks. He looked away from Kirishima’s sincere gaze. “Yeah it was irritation at first sight. And I’m still irritated the fuck by you.” He paused, then glanced Kirishima’s way, head still turned. “Fuck you Eijirou.”

Warmth spread from Kirishima’s chest. He hugged Bakugou tighter, laughter bubbling up he couldn’t possibly hold back. “I love you too, Katsuki.”

“Shut up.”

Bakugou shoved Kirishima’s head into his chest as they walked, hiding his face from view. If Kirishima had not been so close he would have missed the mumbled, “Love you too.”


 

“These are amazing!”

Kirishima could only nod in agreement as he stuffed the rest of his pastry in his mouth. He could easily eat twenty more. Maybe thirty. Kirishima turned to Bakugou, about to ask if there were more, but was quickly cut off.

“Don’t you fucking dare try to talk with your mouth full,” Bakugou snarled. A light dusting of powder covered his face, making the expression cuter than it had any right to be.

Midoriya laughed quietly. “I think Ei is trying to ask if you have any more.”

“No fucking shit.” Bakugou turned his glare to Midoriya. Brows furrowed deeper as he snapped, “Why the fuck are you even here?”

Before they could start arguing, Kirishima waved a hand between them for attention. He gave Bakugou his biggest smile. “Tenya and Ochako are off doing knightly work! You’re busy baking, so we’re keeping each other company!”

The mayor’s son was coming back home after several years of schooling in one of the bigger cities. A big celebration was in the making, but the baker’s daughter had come down with the flu right when she needed help. One thing led to another, and Kirishima managed to convince Bakugou to help out in the bakery.

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “Why the fuck are any of you still here? Your dumb mission with the fake monster is over. Go home already.”

“This town works as a good base for our search, Kacchan.” Midoriya crossed his arms against his chest, eyes narrowed in defiance to Bakugou. “You know, your lord would probably appreciate if you helped too. It would certainly put you both on the king’s good side-”

“Fuck that shit. I do what I want and my lord is fucking fine with that.” Bakugou flicked Midoriya off and shot a piercing glare back at Kirishima. “I’ll bring out more samples when they’re done. But you’re not allowed to share with fucking Deku.”

“I’m so loved!” Kirishima cooed, making Bakugou blush enough it was visible through his floured cheeks. The reaction was enough to elicit a laugh out of Midoriya, which only turned Bakugou’s mild embarrassment to anger.

“Shut the fuck up!” Bakugou grabbed their plates and turned to rejoin the baker in the kitchen.

Kirishima grabbed his wrist and stretched up in his seat, pursing his lips teasingly. “Aw, don’t I get a goodbye kiss before you go back to work?”

The contortion of emotions on Bakugou’s face was too much. Kirishima covered a laugh as Bakugou glanced from Midoriya back to him, as if he was honestly considering entertaining Kirishima’s request. Fully expecting Bakugou to storm off back to the kitchen, Kirishima almost jumped in his seat when Bakugou leaned down so their faces were level.

It did not matter how many kisses Kirishima got out of Bakugou, his heart had yet to stop thudding in his ears whenever Bakugou got close like this. His lips quirked in a smile as he leaned up in his chair to meet Bakugou halfway. His angry knight was too cute-

A rough flick on the tip of his nose caught Kirishima off guard. He yelped and fell back in his seat, holding his nose with betrayed tears pricking his eyes. “Katsuki!”

Bakugou stood straight with a smug smirk. “You’re becoming a spoiled monster. Did you really think I was going to give you a kiss in the middle of the fucking bakery in broad daylight? Fuck off, dumbass.”

“Stingy!” Kirishima whined, sliding down in his chair with crossed arms.

An exasperatedly fond smile was Bakugou’s only response as he disappeared to the back of the building. Soft chuckles pulled Kirishima’s attention to across the table as Midoriya desperately tried to quell his laughter. This. This was the biggest betrayal of all! Kirishima sat up again to place his hands on his cheeks, mouth agape.

“Izuku?! Really? I thought you were on my side!”

Midoriya shook his head, hands covering his mouth in a failed attempt to be polite. “I am! I swear! It’s just-” He doubled over in renewed laughter.

Kirishima pursed his lips and draped himself across the table. Midoriya’s giggles slowly quieted down and he clasped his hands together apologetically.

“I’ve never seen Bakugou like that!” Midoriya ruffled Kirishima’s hair between his horns with one last soft laugh. “You’ve really done the impossible.”

It was hard to keep acting put off with such praise. Kirishima lifted his face from the table with a dopey smile. “I was too manly to resist. Now he’s stuck with me.”

“More like you’re stuck with him,” Midoriya snorted under his breath. A pensive look suddenly passed his face. Silence settled over them as Midoriya mulled over what just crossed his mind, and Kirishima curiously waited for him to share.

Midoriya brought his hand to his mouth, as if he was about to start nibbling on his nails. He realized his action and quickly pushed his hands in his lap. “Eijirou, do you mind me asking what the terms of your curse were?”

Well that was random. Kirishima shrugged. “Classic fairy tale mumbo jumbo. Either my dad accepts what a dick he was and he returns, or I find true-”

True love.

In the words of Bakugou, what the fuck.

Kirishima pushed himself off the table, a seed of panic nestling in his stomach. He was still cursed. He was so happy to be accepted by the villagers, to be loved by Bakugou, he had not stopped for a second to consider what the relationship development with Bakugou implied. They loved each other! Why was he still a beast?

“Izuku!” Kirishima hissed, leaping across the table to grab his hands in a death grip. “She said my curse will break if I find true love! I love Bakugou- Katsuki! A lot! Tons! For a while now! And he loves me too! He said so! He’s said it multiple times. Sure begrudgingly, but it’s Katsuki he can’t be open with his feelings! And we’ve kissed tons! Lots! Like a lot- I’ve gotten good night kisses, good morning kisses, breakfast kisses, bathtime-”

“Okay I get your point!” Midoriya blushed bright pink and tried to pull his hands from Kirishima’s grasp, but Kirishima held tight. He sighed and nibbled on his bottom lip. “I mean, you said it yourself, fairy tale mumbo jumbo. True love is more of a concept than an actual form on love, right? You guys have only been aware of each other’s feelings for two weeks. That’s not very long at all in the grand scheme of things, right? I’m sure it’ll happen naturally as you guys strengthen your new relationship.”

Kirishima let go of Midoriya to flop back in his chair, a deep frown pulling at his face. He stared at his talons, tapped them together. The resulting sound filled the front of the bakery. “Yeah, you’re right. I shouldn’t think too much about it…” He looked up, only a hint of the panic he felt in his eyes. “But what if- what if we end up incompatible? This is only the beginning? What if no matter how much I want Katsuki to be my true love it’s not going to work and-”

Midway through his ramblings, Midoriya’s eyes grew wide and he shrunk back ever so slightly. Kirishima was too consumed with his panic to give it much thought until he was cut off with a sharp tug on his horns and a firm kiss on the lips. Oh. How much had Bakugou heard? Shit. Kirishima started to pull away, to try to explain himself, but Bakugou slid his hand to the back of Kirishima’s head and held him in place.

All thought processes screeched to a halt when Bakugou ran his tongue along Kirishima’s lips. This was a late at night Bakugou was feeling bold kind of kiss. Kirishima had only been able to get two kisses like this out of Bakugou so far, and it was only after lots of convincing. And now Bakugou was instigating one himself?

Kirishima parted his lips without a second thought and Bakugou’s tongue slid into his mouth. Bakugou kissed as he fought, demanding every inch of Kirishima’s attention or else he would be be left behind. Heat raced through Kirishima’s body and his neck strained leaning up into the kiss. Bakugou coaxed Kirishima’s tongue to his mouth and sucked on it lightly. Kirishima’s lungs burned and he wondered if he could even remember how to breathe after this.

It seemed he could remember, as he sucked in air desperately once Bakugou pulled away. Even though his cheeks were pink, Bakugou licked his lips and let go of Kirishima’s head with a smug smirk. Kirishima could only stare after him in a mild daze.

“Fucking Deku, stop giving this idiot shitty ideas.” Bakugou ran his thumb across his lips, wiping away the remaining shine of their kiss. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that bitch witch made sure your curse wouldn’t break immediately just to weed out the weak. What we should be concerned about is she somehow fucked up your curse. What else could your scales spreading means.”

“Your scales are spreading?”

Kirishima managed to drag his gaze away from Bakugou to meet a flustered yet concerned Midoriya. Oh god. The fact Bakugou just kissed the hell out of him right in front of Midoriya sunk in and his face quickly turned the same shade as said spreading scales. He coughed and played with his talons. “Uh- Yeah. Started a year ago. It’s been real slow, but I definitely have more than when I was first cursed.”

Whatever Midoriya was going to say in response was interrupted by the kitchen door slamming open. “Kirishima Eijirou!” The baker, Mrs. Kendou approached their table with a sweet smile. “I love you to pieces darling, but you keep distracting my volunteer helper. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You two can make sweet in your own time in the privacy of your own home.”

Oh god . Kirishima shot to his feet, covering his burning face. “I’m sorry! We’ll leave! So sorry! Katsuki! Apologize!”

“I’m not fuckin-”

Kirishima shoved Bakugou’s head down. “He’s very sorry too! He’ll get right back to work! Can’t wait to try all your great food at the party Mrs. Kendou! Thank you for putting up with us! Bye!”

Before Bakugou could retaliate to being manhandled, Kirishima dashed out the door and a bit down the street for good measure. Midoriya joined him, slightly out of breath with soft laughter.

“I think Mrs. Kendou was contemplating hitting Kacchan with a rolling pin and he actually seemed worried.”

“He should be. She once spanked me for stealing pastries when I was a kid. She’s strong .”

They were quite the pair, both winded and equally flustered for slightly different reasons. The absurdity of the situation settled and they had to lean on each other as laughter overcame them. It was hard to believe that the same Bakugou that refused to hold hands when there were people around was the one that just made out with him in the middle of the bakery.

“Wanna come over for some tea?”

Midoriya happily agreed. They stopped by the inn for Midoriya to leave a note for his fellow knights and tea ended up as dinner plans. Arms laden with enough food for four big eaters, Midoriya and Kirishima made their way back to the manor.

It was not till they were deep in preparation that the bakery incident came up again. Midoriya set down his last peeled potato and looked to Kirishima with furrowed brows. “So your scales have been spreading?”

Kirishima slipped and chopped his finger, which only resulted in the knife folding into itself and breaking in half. “Shit!”

“Are you okay?” Midoriya jumped to his feet and rushed over, only to give pause at the sight of the broken knife.

Under his questioning gaze, Kirishima whined and cradled the remains of the knife. “Katuski is going to kill me. He said this was one of the best knives in the kitchen. He told me I wasn’t allowed to use it unless I promise not to break it.”

Midoriya lips twitched as he fought back a smile. “How many have you broken?”

“Too many! I kept chopping my fingers when Bakugou first started teaching me how to cook properly!” Kirishima dropped the pieces on the counter with a heavy sigh. “Whatever. He’s already gonna be angry we’re having a dinner party. What’s one more thing?”

“Are you sure it’s fine you have us over for dinner?” Midoriya’s smile was playful. “Maybe you guys want to pick up where you left off in the bakery-”

“Oh my god! Stop!” Kirishima dragged his hands down his face. “I can’t take the teasing! And don’t you dare tell Ochako. She’ll tease us both and then Katsuki will try to fight her and it’ll be a complete mess.”

Midoriya’s expression was grave. “I can’t make any promises.”

“I have the worst friends,” Kirishima sighed, dropping the vegetables he managed to cut before destroying his knife in a pot. “And to answer your question, yeah they have. It was slow and barely noticeable at first, but then my chest healed over in scales instead of skin.”

Kirishima pulled his shirt up to display his crimson chest. Only the smallest amount of skin remained in patches of less dense scales. Midoriya stared pensively as Kirishima continued. “Not really sure when it started, and I thought I was imagining things at first. But this definitely clears any doubt about it.”

“Kacchan might be right about something being wrong with your curse…” Midoriya crossed his arms, brought his thumb to his lips and began to mumble. “I’ve encountered quite a few cursed individuals on my missions. You’d be surprised how many curses mutated from their original casting. Magic is really unreliable and tends to do it’s own thing, no matter how powerful the witch…”

Realizing he was mumbling, Midoriya looked up with a reassuring smile. “We have a friend that specializes in helping people with curses gone awry! She’s been traveling with a friend as, I guess you could call them magic merchants. Ochako can get a message to her with her wind magic.”

Words were beyond Kirishima for the moment. He knew magic was more common place in other kingdoms, and even in the more urban areas of their own kingdom. But the concept of someone traveling as a magic merchant, that such a profession was even possible, was hard to grasp. That there was someone out there that could help him with the technicalities of his curse was even harder to accept. He never considered it as a possibility.

“I- Wow. Izuku.” Kirishima grabbed Midoriya’s hands and grasped them tightly, trying to convey what he struggled to put into words. This was such a nice offer. This was something Kirishima would never able to do without Midoriya’s help. This could change everything. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

Midoriya gave his hands a squeeze. “It’s the least I can do. We’ll figure this out, I’m sure of it.”

Their conversation turned into Midoriya musing over tales of a younger Bakugou. Kirishima hung off his every word in pure bliss. Young Bakugou sounded like an absolute terror and while Kirishima would have probably hated the asshole he was, it gave him more reason to love the slightly less of an asshole he had become.

Uraraka and Iida joined them later in the afternoon. They were exhausted from spending the day traveling the countryside, but were delighted by the promise of a big meal with friends. The four of them snacked while waiting up for Bakugou, Uraraka and Iida more than happy to add to Midoriya’s stories of the Bakugou of their youth.

When the Bakugou of the present arrived home, he was as pissed as Kirishima had expected. He took one look at the company and turned a furious glare to Kirishima, demanding everyone gets out of ‘his kitchen.’ The resulting laughter was not the response he was looking for and he only got angrier. Kirishima managed to redirect his anger with a sneaky smooch. Bright red, Bakugou punched Kirishima in the gut. He deemed as long as his kitchen was in one piece and they ate in the dining room, the others could stay.

Hopefully he would find the broken knife tomorrow.

It was the most activity the manor had seen in years . Kirishima helped himself to his dad’s wine cellar, something he had never dared before. Soon they were laughing freely and even Bakugou managed to crack a smile. Uraraka contacted their magic merchant friend, then proceeded to perform some tipsy wind magic tricks. After a bit of wine got to him, Bakugou reluctantly offered up goodies from his work at the bakery. The only one  not let loose was Iida and Kirishima teased him relentlessly.

As the night started winding down, he had to apologize. Both Uraraka and Midoriya were near passed out, leaning against each other as they giggled over nonsense. Iida was clearly expecting this outcome and shook his head fondly to an offer to spend the night. They had to continue their official work as knights of the realm tomorrow after all. It was almost absurd how easily he sat each of them on a shoulder to carry them back to the inn.

As the trio disappeared down the path back to town, Kirishima leaped onto Bakugou’s back with a giddy laugh. “Carry me upstairs!”

Bakugou caught him on reflex, but quickly let go and tried to shake him off. “Fuck no! You’re perfectly capable of walking by yourself!”

“No, my limbs are jelly I absolutely need my big strong knight to carry me to bed~”

The blush that filled Bakugou’s cheeks was unparallelled. He opened and closed his mouth several times before grumbling, “You said that on fucking purpose.”

Kirishima snickered and planted a wet smooch on Bakugou’s cheek. He tightened his legs around Bakugou’s waist as Bakugou tried anew to shake him off. “Well after that kiss you gave me earlier today-”

“Oh shut up! You were being stupid!” Bakugou reached up to shake Kirishima by his horns. “It was the easiest way to get you thinking less stupid.”

“I’m thinking stupid again!” Kirishima nuzzled his face in Bakugou’s neck. “Cure me Katsuki!”

Bakugou turned his head to look down at him. “Maybe if I dump you in the bath you’ll be cured.”

Kirishima gasped and hugged Bakugou tighter. “You wouldn’t dare! It’s bed time, bed time! Your agenda includes cuddling and kissing with me!”

“Why the fuck should I do that? You invited the dipshit trio to dinner without telling me and now you’re drunk off your ass.”

How cruel! Kirishima blew on Bakugou’s neck, felt a shiver ran down his spine and grinned. “Kat~su~ki~” He cooed before sucking lightly on his neck.

Bakugou let out a strangled curse and flipped Kirishima off of him by the horns. Stunned, sprawled on the ground, Kirishima stared up at him with wide eyes. It seemed to take a moment for Bakugou to comprehend what he just did, and his brows were furrowed almost apologetically while his lip raise in a sneer. “Fucking dipshit. Don’t do that!”

He could hardly be upset about getting dumped on the ground. Kirishima wiggled on his back with a dopey grin. “Did it turn you on?” He sang.

“Fuck you. You’re never allowed to drink again,” Bakugou spat. He hauled Kirishima over his shoulder and headed upstairs.

The jostling was extremely uncomfortable, but before Kirishima could complain, he found himself comfortable in their bed. He hummed contently and snuggled under the covers. Bakugou complained loudly and wrestled him out of the covers to strip him out of his clothes. That was so sweet of him! Kirishima thinked he expressed that aloud. From Bakugou’s exasperated huff, he probably did.

Once Bakugou dropped on his his side of the bed, Kirishima immediately latched onto him. He nibbled at Bakugou’s earlobe, grinning at how Bakugou’s entire body shivered. “Let’s make out.”

Bakugou shoved a hand on his face and pushed him away. “No, fucking hell, Eijirou. You reek of wine. Just go to sleep.”

Well this sucked. Kirishima stuck his lip out in the best pout he could muster. It must have been a pretty great pout, because Bakugou sighed and pulled Kirishima close again. He kissed Kirishima’s forehead and ran a thumb across his cheek. “You get a goodnight kiss. Be happy with that.”

This close, Kirishima could just barely make out Bakugou’s blush. How cute. He smiled sleepily, just now realizing he was rather tired. “I love you~ Can I have one more goodnight kiss?” He puckered lips just so Bakugou understood where he wanted that kiss.

Bakugou scrunched his nose, but snorted softly and shook his head. He shifted so their faces were level and held Kirishima’s face in both of his hands. “Love you too, dumbass.” It was a sweet kiss, barely lasted a second before Bakugou slid his hands from Kirishima’s face to his shoulders and nestled his face in his hair.

The leather of Bakugou’s gloves dragged slightly against Kirishima’s scales. It left a phantom feeling as he settled in Bakugou’s embrace. His wine addled mind realized something in that moment. It wasn’t just Kirishima whose curse had yet to break. Maybe, deep down, he was waiting to accept Bakugou as his true love until his curse broke. After all, how could he be Bakugou’s true love if Bakugou was completely unaffected by the fact his curse kept them apart in a sense.

He desperately wanted Bakugou to be the one to break his curse.

But deep down, he had yet to be convinced.

Chapter Text

If Bakugou had to be completely honest: he hated parties. He hated the posturing and small talk that came with them. Even as a free willed knight without a leash, he had been roped into too many parties and banquets. The worst were the ones in his honor. People were disgustingly sweet and always tried to win his favor at those parties. Parties were always politics disguised as fun in the cities.

Going to a party to welcome back the mayor’s son was the last way Bakugou wanted to spend his afternoon. Well. Second to last. He would take the painful small talk over an afternoon in the manor without Kirishima. His presence would at least help his standing with the villagers, right? They seemed a little less wary of him recently.

Kirishima pulled him out of his thoughts with a light squeeze of his hand. “Hey, you’re not nervous are you?”

“The fuck ?” Bakugou sneered, using their joint hands to lightly smack Kirishima. “No I’m not nervous, dipshit.”

Honestly, he was going out of his way to try to be considerate and Kirishima kept teasing him for it. Maybe he should go hunting instead. That could easily take up the whole afternoon.

“Oh good,” Kirishima sighed. He leaned against Bakugou’s shoulder as they walked. “I’m terrified.”

What.

Bakugou stared at his companion. He sure as hell didn’t look terrified. Although, on second look, Kirishima’s smile did seem a little strained. And he was fidgeting with his claws on his free hand. And he had not finished his breakfast, claiming a lack of appetite so early. Dammit. How had Bakugou missed it? He refrained from sighing at himself, dare Kirishima believe it was directed toward him.

“The fuck you terrified about?” Bakugou asked. The second the question left his lips, he considered a softer way to ask. How was that supposed to be taken as a supportive question from a lover? Dammit-

Kirishima hardly bat an eye at the gruff words, just sighed heavily. “The mayor’s son… He’s… To tell you the truth he’s kinda an ass. I’m not looking forward to his reaction to, well, me.”

“I’ll kick his ass if he says anything,” Bakugou said without a pause for thought.

“You’ll kick the mayor’s son’s ass if he says anything about me,” Kirishima repeated. He stood straight to meet Bakugou’s eyes. There was something shining in his smirk, but Bakugou had no idea what.

“Do you not fucking believe me?”

Kirishima burst into laughter. He brought their joint hands to his lips and kissed Bakugou’s gloved knuckles. Heat ran up Bakugou’s neck to his ears. He turned away, teeth bared in embarrassment rather than threat. What was so funny? Why did Kirishima have to do embarrassing stuff like that when anyone could see them?

“Oh I believe that’s exactly the kind of dumb thing you would do, I was just wondering if you would figure out on your own why that would be a bad idea.”

“What, because he’s the mayor’s son?” Bakugou scoffed with a roll of his eyes. “Who the fuck cares. If the villagers really care about you as much as they claim, they shouldn’t have a problem with me kicking his ass if he hurts you.”

Hands suddenly encased his face and Kirishima’s lips met his own. It was a quick kiss, but Kirishima still managed to steal his breath. Kirishima pulled back with a playful smile, the strain from earlier completely gone. “You’re unbelievable. I love you so much.”

Bakugou pulled away, cheeks heated and unable to snap a response. He walked ahead a few paces before turning around. “Why do you have to do shit like that in public? Anyone could have seen!”

The playful smile only grew. Kirishima caught up with him, laughter on his lips. “You’re adorable. No one’s around to see. Besides, you did the same exact thing in front of Izu-”

“Fucking Deku doesn’t count! Fuck! Fuck you, shut up!”

Hardly deterred, Kirishima laced their hands together again. He hugged Bakugou’s arm to his chest. “Love you too, ya angry jerk.”

Kirishima always played dirty. He played so fucking dirty. It was highly possible Kirishima had no idea what he was doing, but Bakugou still cursed him for it. He did it too much. Whenever Bakugou would get embarrassed, tell him to fuck off, Kirishima laughed and said ‘love you too.’ And damned if Bakugou would let Kirishima get away being the nice one after Bakugou just told  him to fuck off.

“Love you too, fucker.”

The remainder of their walk was in content silence. Kirishima kept bumping their shoulders together to catch Bakugou’s attention and blow kisses at him. Bakugou pretended to not care. His red ears gave him away, but neither of them brought attention to it.

As they made their way into the village, Bakugou realized this was nothing like the stately affairs of the city. If anything, this party was more of a festival. The town square was alive with music and laughter. Tables circled the fountain, piled high with trays upon trays of food.

The dumbass knight trio were the first to see them and immediately came over, all smiling and shit. There was the overwhelming urge to grab Kirishima and kiss him. Audience be damned, he just really wanted to remind these idiots just who Kirishima liked the most. But, no, that would be childish and Kirishima would probably get mad at him for that. And yet as Kirishima leaned against Iida as he laughed, Bakugou itched to go through with his stupid possessiveness anyways.

“I say! Is that Kirishima Eijirou?” A loud and obnoxious voice broke through the chatter Bakugou had been tuning out. From the crowd broke through a man that looked their age, a smug smile on his face. “You know, everyone warned me about your appearance, but I still wasn’t prepared! I definitely understand why you stayed hidden for so long!”

Kirishima stiffened, but kept a cheery smile on his face. The idiot knights had varying expression of disapproval. Bakugou saw red. Who the fuck did this prick think he was? Who said that? Not even Bakugou was that tactless. Rather than let Kirishima try to pretend to be fine, Bakugou stepped in front of him to glare down who had to be the mayor’s son.

The man’s eyes grew wide, but not in fear. “Bakugou Katsuki?!”

“Hah?” Bakugou raised his lip, narrowed his eyes at this stranger that knew his name. “Do I know you?”

He laughed, a desperate look in his eyes. “Very funny. You know who I am. We’re rivals!”

“You know Neito?” Kirishima asked, nudging closer.

“Doesn’t ring a bell,” Bakugou shrugged, already losing interest in the guy. Hands grabbed his shoulder and forced his attention back.

“Monoma Neito?” He shook Bakugou, desperation radiating off of him. Bakugou shoved him off. “We have the same lord! We’ve been competing as his best student since I moved to his castle!”

“You’re a knight?” Bakugou squinted, trying to recall someone with such an obnoxious face hanging around his lord’s castle.

Monoma’s eyes were bulging at this point. “No! I’m a scholar! Lord Hakamata was my teacher!”

“Hakamata? Don’t know anyone by that name. You got the wrong guy, dumbass.”

“Lord Hakamata Tsunagu! He’s your patron lord! How do you not know his name?”

“Oh Tsunagu. That bastard.” Bakugou could hardly say he was on good terms with his lord sponsor. They had extremely differing opinions, but whatever. “Yeah that’s my sponsor. How do you know him?”

“Katsuki…” Kirishima placed a hand on his elbow. “Are you trying to be an asshole-”

“I just said! He was my teacher! We’re rivals!” Monoma’s voice grew shrill, a nervous sweat beading his brow.

“But I don’t remember you.”

Monoma looked like he was either going to pass out or commit murder. It seemed passing out was the option selected for him, as a swift chop to the back of his head sent him crumpling to the ground. The baker’s daughter, Kendou caught him by the back of his shirt. She shook her head. “Honestly Neito. You can’t be back home for even a day without making an ass out of yourself.”

She turned to their group with an apologetic smile. “Sorry guys. I didn’t realize he escaped to say hello without a chaperone. You two have the same lord?” Kendou turned to Bakugou, an easy smile on her face despite the dead weight she was holding upright.

Bakugou stared at Monoma’s face frozen in idiocy, then shrugged to her. “I guess so. I don’t go by that guy’s palace often, so I have no idea where this dumbass got the idea we were rivals.”

Kendou laughed. “Yeah that sounds like him. Can’t believe that fancy education didn’t do anything to cure him of his narcissism.”

“Is he okay?” Uraraka inched forward to survey the unconscious man.

Again, Kendou laughed. “His head has gotten soft! Or maybe I’ve gotten stronger. Either way, he’s fine. He’ll knock out of it in a few minutes. He’s more dazed than anything.”

Great, that was taken care of. Bakugou turned to Kirishima, concerned he was still upset about what Monoma said. He looked normal, but he was also too good at hiding bad emotions. Bakugou squinted, started to reach for his beast. The knight trio descended on Kirishima in a flurry.

“Ei are you okay? He was absolutely awful!” Uraraka grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

Kirishima laughed and shook his head. “To be honest, that was better than what I was expecting from him.”

“That doesn’t excuse what he said.” Midoriya ruffled the hair between his horns and Kirishima leaned into the touch.

Kendou inquired what exactly Monoma had said before she came after him. The topic quickly changed and Kirishima was laughing joyfully again.

Bakugou slipped away. He had nothing to say. Kirishima clearly did not need him right now. He grit his teeth. Dammit. He should not be feeling this way. It was stupid . The flash of jealousy whenever the idiot knights interacted with Kirishima was too strong to ignore. Bakugou wanted to cut out this offending emotion and for it to never return. But they were always too close, Kirishima always smiled too much. The way everyone had taken a liking to ruffling Kirishima’s hair between his horns particularly put Bakugou on edge. And yet all of it was for Kirishima’s benefit.

Bakugou knew he had no reason to feel jealous. He fucking knew it, and yet still felt it. It was driving him crazy.

Over the past few weeks, Bakugou thought he had come to terms with the fact he no longer had a monopoly on Kirishima. But perhaps, he needed to come to terms with the fact he had enjoyed having Kirishima all to himself all this time. Bakugou felt like the beast of the two of them, selfishly wanting to hoard his treasure all for himself. Because, what else was Kirishima but a treasure? He was a treasure that would lose its shine if Bakugou dared try to keep him from the world.

A shrill shriek jerked Bakugou from his thoughts. He looked to the group he left. Kirishima had Uraraka in his arms and spun them around in a circle. Uraraka held on to his horns and threw her head back with laughter. His smile was so wide his eyes were closed. Dammit.

Bakugou looked away, forced himself to fill a plate of food so it was less obvious he was sulking. He knew why he was feeling possessive. He did not want to think about it, did not want to acknowledge it. It was hard to ignore in this setting. It was a thought that had started to plague him, perhaps, as early as his first few weeks. That early, it had not been fully formed, but Bakugou could pinpoint the first flare of emotion he once did not understand. It was only in the current weeks as Kirishima was free to the world once more, that Bakugou really began to understand.

What if he was not the one to break Kirishima’s curse?

He had so confidently shut down Kirishima’s worries the other day in the bakery, but he held the same doubts. For different reasons perhaps. He knew he could never love another person the way he loved Kirishima Eijirou. Love had never been in the cards for Bakugou. Hell, even basic friendship had been a struggle for him. It was overwhelming how many emotions Kirishima dragged out of him he did not know he was even capable of having.

But what about him for Kirishima? He did not doubt Kirishima loved him, but was he the true, only one, for him? It was a difficult fear to swallow. What if, Kirishima only fell in love with him because Bakuou was the only person to interact with him without a disguise for years. It was not an outlandish fear. What if the knights trio had figured out the secret of the beast in the hills and approached Kirishima before Bakugou came barging in. Would Kirishima have fallen in love with Uraraka? Iida? Even damned Midoriya ? What if one of the villagers had tried harder to ‘save’ Kirishima and had discovered his secret? Would Kirishima have found someone to love in the village?

Everyone liked Kirishima. Kirishima smiled the same with everyone. It was not an outlandish fear at all.

What if everything they shared–their pillow fort, the garden spars, haphazard cooking lessons, all of it–what if it was only special because no one had the chance to beat Bakugou to it. It was damned upsetting to even consider. He would go to his grave before he shared the thought the anyone else.

“There you are!”

Kirishima’s voice appeared at Bakugou’s side. There was something in his tone that made Bakugou look up instantly. He was smiling his usual big smile, but there was something else. There was a tenderness in his eyes that changed his smile. It was joyful, of course, but the sheer fondness that Kirishima managed to put into that smile was staggering.

Maybe Bakugou let himself stew in his thoughts for too long.

Kirishima did not smile the same with everyone. That smile was for Bakugou, and Bakugou alone.

It was impossible not to meet that smile with one of his own, no matter how small his smiles were. “Here I am.”

“I thought you ditched me and decided to just go home!” Kirishima pursed his lips and crossed his arms. “I can’t believe you left me to deal with Monoma alone. Jerk.”

“Hah?” Bakugou furrowed his brows. “The knights idiots were with you. And the assholes apparent babysitter. You weren’t alone.”

Kirishima laughed and linked their arms at the elbow. “Yeah but you weren’t there. It’s not the same. C’mon, maybe you can make him shut up about how great his lord is.”

Bakugou let himself be led back to the group. He was being a dumbass, something Kirishima was much better at. It was idiotic to worry about the possibility of not being Kirishima’s true love. Bakugou thought it was a dumb condition to break Kirishima’s curse. And if Bakugou was honest, he could care less if Kirishima’s curse was ever broken.

He loved the scaled idiot.


 

It was a couple of days later. They sat in the bakery enjoying a cake made to thank Bakugou for his help preparing for the party. Kirishima’s smile was so big, it was worth Mrs. Kendou’s lectures and a few pinched ears that came out of helping.

An idiotic voice came traipsing down the stairs, followed by Monoma’s idiotic face. He paused at the foot of the staircase and looked like he was about to bolt back upstairs, but Kendou was right behind him and pushed him into the room.

Kirishima waved, Bakugou ignored them both. He had enough of Monoma at the party. He was glad he never met him at his lord’s manor, because he would not have had Kirishima to hold him back from knocking the bastard out. Although, Bakugou probably would not have had a reason to get annoyed with Monoma without him being an ass to Kirishima He would have just ignored him. Hm. Maybe they had met briefly…

“Isn’t that cake delicious?” Kendou asked, stepping out from behind Monoma. “Mom and I are really thankful for your help, Bakugou. I made sure it was super tasty for you!”

“Eh, I’m not that much of a sweets person.” Bakugou shrugged, quickly cutting Kirishima off, as he looked like he was about to scold him. “However, this idiot really enjoys it, so thanks. That’s enough for me.”

Kirishima flushed and kicked Bakugou under the table playfully. “You sap! That’s so sweet!”

“What? I’m being honest.” He smirked. “And you were about to yell at me for being rude, weren’t you?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Yeah I’m sure you don’t, you liar.”

“I wonder-“ Monoma physically interjected himself into the conversation, taking a step closer to the table. “-How would Lord Hakamata feel about you playing newlywed while there’s a monster terrorizing the northern border towns.”

What did you say?” Bakugou pushed off the table as he stood, his chair scraping loudly on the floor.

Monoma pursed his lips. “I believe it was rather clear. I’m making a jab about you not doing your job while playing lovey-dovey with-“

“Not about that you fucking idiot.” Bakugou grabbed Monoma by the front of his shirt. His entire body burned and a manic grin pulled at this lips. “There’s a monster in the north? Since when?”

Monoma desperately looked from Kirishima to Kendou, both of whom made it clear he was on his own. He tried to push Bakugou off of him, but quickly realized that was not going to happen till he answered. He swallowed roughly, his eyes trained on Bakugou’s gloved hands. “The news started coming down a couple of weeks ago. It hadn’t made it this far south yet?”

Bakugou pushed him away, his smile only growing. “No, dumbass. Clearly fucking not. How much do you know? Shit, I need my map. Do you know any details about the beast?” He glanced around the room before fixing his gaze on Monoma again. “Fucking, stay right the fuck here. I’m gonna grab my shit. You’re gonna tell me everything you know.”

And with that Bakugou dashed out of the bakery. The remained three stared at each other in varying degrees of disbelief. Kirishima was the first to break the silence.

“I don’t think I’ve ever see him so gleeful.”

Monoma stared at the door, dumbstruck. “Has the news really not spread this far yet? I would have thought everyone knew by now… It’s pretty gruesome what’s going on up there.”

“Trust me,” Kirishima shook his head, a rueful smile at this lips. “Bakugou would not be here ‘playing lovey-dovey’ if he had known.”

He stared at the door as well. “Fighting beasts is what he lives for.”


Bakugou would be lying if he said he hadn’t been enjoying his relaxing months with Kirishima, but he would also be lying if he said he was not overjoyed about going out to fight a real monster. He was going to be able to see his improvement after months of training with Kirishima.

It would do Kirishima some good to fight something other than Bakugou too.

Grilling Monoma for information was not as productive as Bakugou had hoped. He had gotten great details on location and aftermath, but Monoma knew close to nothing about the actual attacks.

Since they were on the south border, it was a damned long trek to the complete opposite end of the kingdom. Bakugou wanted to get as much information as he could before he left so he did not have to waste time information gathering as he traveled.

Unfortunately, Jadane, the closest city was at least a two day walk.

“I can’t believe you’re officially knighted and walk everywhere!”

Kirishima would not stop talking about it.

“I thought I’ve been pretty fucking clear,” Bakugou said through grit teeth. “Horses don’t fucking like me. I probably smell like fire to them and it freaks them the fuck out.”

“I know, but still !” Kirishima grin was obnoxiously teasing. “The big bad knight Bakugou strolls into town where ever he goes. It’s hilarious. I bet if you tried hard enough you could find a horse that puts up with you.”

It was a low blow, but Bakugou was annoyed past being nice. “The likelihood of me finding a horse that likes me is only slightly higher chance than you finding a horse.”

Surprisingly, Kirishima hardly paid mind to the jab. He shrugged, that damned smile still in place. “Well I haven’t tried, so maybe you’re just making excuses.”

“Find a horse that likes you and maybe you’re right.”

“I will, just to prove you wrong!”

“Hey! Kacchan! Eijirou!”

Bakugou’s spin stiffened. His annoyance instantly skyrocketed as Midoriya came running up to them.

“I heard you’re going to Jadane for information. Uraraka and I need to head up there actually, so do you want to catch a ride with us?” He smiled and clenched his fists. “Uraraka’s horse is very calm since he has to handle her wind magic. You should be able to ride him with her, Kacchan!”

Of all the degrading and idiotic ideas that could come out of fucking Midoriya’s mouth. Bakugou sneered, was about to snap a reply, but Kirishima cut in first.

“That’s a great idea! It’ll save you an entire day and a half, Katsuki!” He turned an almost pleading smile to Bakugou. “Why not make this trip short so the monster hunting can start even sooner?”

It was a fair point. As awful as riding behind Uraraka sounded, it would make the information trip a whole lot faster. He did want to get a move on with the actual hunting. But-

“Hah?” Bakugou narrowed his eyes at Kirishima. “Weren’t you coming with me to Jadane?”

Kirishima raised a brow and cocked his head ever so slightly. “Don’t you think I’d be more of a distraction than assistance with your sleuthing?”

That stumped Bakugou. Why would Kirishima think that? Sure Bakugou called him a dumbass all the time, but he was actually quite smart. Plus, he was looking forward to seeing how Kirishima would fare gathering information. “Why?”

From behind, Bakugou could hear Midoriya poorly attempt to stifle a laugh. Kirishima bit his lip, trying to contain his own laughter. His eyes always gave him away, though. Before Bakugou could really snap, Kirishima grabbed his face and planted a kiss on his lips.

Bakugou spluttered, his face burning. He looked around frantically, a little less mortified seeing no one around. “What the fuck was that for!”

“For being so unbelievably endearing,” Kirishima chirped. He held up a hand and flicked his talons together, then flicked a horn. “I think you might have forgotten, but explaining this would waste more time than you’d want.”

Oh. Right.

No one in town bat an eye at Kirishima’s appearance, that Bakugou really had forgotten that others would not accept it so easily. While traveling on the road, Bakugou could just kick their ass and call it a day. But Bakugou needed people to want to talk to him in Jadane. It really was impractical for Kirishima to come along.

Damn.

“I guess you’re right,” he grumbled. He felt like a complete idiot forgetting that important detail.

Kirishima snorted and slid their hands together. “I appreciate you forgot, really. But how about you take up Izuku and Ochako’s offer so you can get back sooner?”

“Fine.” Bakugou sighed heavily and turned a glare to Midoriya. “You better not be fucking with me that her horse will be fine with me.”

Midoriya nodded. “Trust me, Uraraka does some crazy magic on horseback and he could care less!”

Suffering the indignity of sharing a horse with Uraraka was a difficult, but a fair price to get back sooner. The sooner Bakugou knew everything he needed, the sooner he could go monster hunting with Kirishima at his side.

“Let’s get a move on, then.”


 

What was supposed to be a day trip turned into a grueling, hellish several days. Every person Bakugou spoke to had heard rumors and happily shared them, but also recommended Bakugou speak to someone else who might know more. It was an endlessly frustrating cycle of finding someone, getting what they knew, and then having to track down a new person for better information. And tracking down people often involved finding other people who would know where they were.

It was a mess.

Bakugou was fucking exhausted.

He could not wait to sleep in his bed– any bed . Bakugou had become unbelievably soft after the past few months of having a plush comfortable bed–and more recently, a snuggly bedmate. Camping was something he was going to have to get used to very quickly once they got on the road.

But, for now. Bakugou rationalized he deserved to have a bed tonight, a day to relax and plan, and one last night with a bed before heading out bright and early. At least he would still have his heat radiating snuggle monster, especially with winter already started in the north.

Uraraka, surprisingly, stuck around and even assisted Bakugou with his wild goose chases. Hell, she even camped with him, despite having way more funds than he and could have easily stayed in an inn. Her answer to why earned her a bit of respect from him.

“We’re both knights of this realm. No matter how insufferable you are, you are one of the best if not the best suited knight for the job of tackling some actual monsters. Why wouldn’t I help you get to the important part sooner?”

It was the annoying kind of helpful attitude all of Midoriya’s like shared, but with it was sense of pride for her title and responsibilities that Bakugou respected. And, to be fair, her assessment of him did not hurt either.

But she also had to throw in a jab of, “Besides, you can’t get back to Eijirou easily without my horse.”

They were actually joking with each other by the time they were riding back to town. Joking meaning, Uraraka was making fun of him and he did not actually want to go through with the threats he snapped back. It was a very amicable atmosphere, really.

Uraraka bypassed the main roads into town and dropped him off at the foot of the mountain trails with a teasing, “Don’t get too crazy tonight, lovebird!”

He flicked her off, but was not quick enough to turn and hide his smirk. She giggled and turned her appropriately named horse, Dusty, toward town. The damn animal was always a complete mess thanks to Uraraka’s magic whipping up all kinds of junk.

The trek up to the manor was relaxing in its familiarity. Bakugou did not realize how much he would miss this place in such a short amount of time. He had never felt homesick for his parents home, but just perhaps he would feel it on this coming trip. It would be worse, without a doubt, without Kirishima. Homesickness would probably not be so bad with Kirishima by his side.

The manor looked as empty as always. There was a sharp chill in the mountains so all of the doors and windows were shut tight. Bakugou realized it was highly possible Kirishima was not home yet. A loud shout upon entry answered with silence was a clear answer.

Damn.

Bakugou had wanted to avoid as many people as possible by bypassing the town and managed to avoid Kirishima in the process. A quick peek in the kitchen gave Bakugou a grin. It was fully stocked. He could take this opportunity to surprise Kirishima with his favorite soup for dinner.

He just placed the lid on the pot to keep things warm when the doors to the manor slammed open, shaking the entire building. “You asshole!” Kirishima yelled.

Bakugou could hear Kirishima tromping upstairs, probably assuming Bakugou had fallen asleep. He smirked and set the table for them. Heavy footsteps sounded on the staircase again and Kirishima burst into the kitchen, brows furrowed and ready to continue yelling.

One look at the set table and steaming soup and his entire demeanor changed. He blinked, trying to process what he was seeing. “I just found out you have been back for a while…” Kirishima slowly crossed the room, staring at the bowl of soup at his seat. “I was mad you didn’t immediately come to find me…”

Kirishima looked up from the table with wide eyes. He grabbed Bakugou’s hands. “The first thing you did when you got home was cook us dinner?! I think I’m in love.”

“Well I would damn hope it’s more than think.”

He laughed and gave Bakugou a quick kiss, immediately sitting himself at the table. “Of course, of course! Let’s eat!”

Bakugou was expecting more than a smooch, especially from clingy damn Kirishima. It seemed his cooking won over Bakugou himself at the moment. He smiled and shook his head as he joined Kirishima. He could hardly complain when Kirishima was this excited for a dish Bakugou had made plenty of time before.

“This is so good!” Kirishima held his hand to his face, eyes shut in pure bliss. He rocked in his chair slightly and turned a giant smile to Bakugou. “I think I have the best lover in all the kingdoms.”

Heat instantly filled Bakugou’s face. He glued his eyes to his bowl and willed his face to stop blushing . “Fucking shut up,” he grumbled, shoving food in his mouth to excuse any further speaking.

Kirishima just laughed and tangled their legs under the table. Embarrassment crept up Bakugou’s neck, but he refused to look up or pull away from Kirishima. The rest of dinner passed in peaceful quiet. Kirishima’s joyous humming was the only sound besides the scraping of spoons.

They sat in silence for a bit even after they were finished eating. It was nice to just revel in each other’s company, even if it was a bit distracting how Kirishima kept playing footsies.

Eventually Kirishima grabbed their dishes as he stood. “Go take a bath Katsuki, I got clean up.”

Bakugou leaned back in his chair, smirking. “Are you telling me I smell bad?”

“What? No!” Kirishima floundered, shaking his head emphatically. “I mean you’re probably exhausted and you should enjoy a nice hot bath while I clean up!”

It was too easy sometimes to tease Kirishima. Bakugou snorted and kissed Kirishima’s cheek on his way out. “I know. Thanks.”

Walking through the darkened halls of the manor was second nature. Bakugou knew every corner, every creaky floorboard. It was strange to think he would soon be out of these walls for at least a couple of months. But, it would be waiting for them when they got back, and that was a reassuring thought.

A hot bath was exactly what Bakugou needed after an obnoxious cycle of having to talk to people and play nice. The tension in his shoulders melted under the warm waters. Bakugou rested his head on the edge of the pool and closed his eyes.

He was finally on the hunt again. Half a year, almost half an entire year he had spent in this manor with nothing to do but spend time with Kirishima. It was not the longest span Bakugou had to wait for news of a new monster. In the beginning of his monster hunting days, he had been busy constantly. Besides the top level knights, there were few people that could take down ferocious beasts of myths. The top knights had to make priorities, and hunting down every least beast in the kingdom was not one of them.

Bakugou was traveling and fighting almost constantly his first two years. It was exhilarating. It was what he lived for. But things started to slow down. There were not that many monsters waiting in line to take over territories within the kingdom. If anything, Bakugou had a feeling many were keeping out and taking up residence in other kingdoms. Even monsters had to have some form of animalistic communication to know where was safe for them to live.

So his monster slaying days drastically slowed down. He spent those days at home, helping his mom with housework and training alone. Those days waiting for a new rumor to pass by were pure agony. He was restless, on edge, could never truly relax. All he wanted was his next target. It was truly all he lived for.

This was not the longest stretch he had to wait for a rumor, but this was the first time he stopped counting the days in impatience. He was excited to finally get out and fight some monsters again, but he was not chomping at the bit. Before, he was like a starving man desperate for even scraps fallen off the table, waiting for his day to feast.

Bakugou was no longer starving. He was preparing for a feast not because he needed it, but because he enjoyed it. Perhaps it was because fighting monsters was not the only thing he lived for anymore.

The sudden touch of cold fingers on his shoulder jerked Bakugou out of his dozing. Kirishima’s soft laughter quickly put him back at ease. He languidly looked up through the steam of the bath. Kirishima’s horns casted a shadow over the bath, stretching farther than any normal human’s shadow would. The scales on his face crinkled with his smile, moving so naturally on his skin. His smile was toothy, full of sharp points and fangs, but that was how it always was. Kirishima was beautiful like this.

“Don’t sleep here Blasty!”

A sense of deja vex ran through Bakugou, but he could not place his finger on it. Kirishima dragged Bakugou out of the bath and playfully wrapped a towel around his head.

“C’mon let’s get you to bed. You’ve worked super hard this past week, Mr. Knight.”

Bakugou grunted and sleepily dried himself off. “Damn right I have. And you’ve just been dicking off playing around in the village I’m sure.”

Kirishima huffed in offense as he lent his shoulder for Bakugou to keep balance as he pulled pants on. “I’ll have you know, I’ve been doing something very useful to make monster hunting a lot easier for you.”

Oh, now that was interesting. Bakugou grinned, allowing Kirishima to half carry him to their room. His limbs felt like pure jelly. “Have you now? I’ll be the judge of that.”

The bed was soft, so damn soft. Bakugou struggled to keep his eyes open as he nestled under the covers. Kirishima quickly changed and dove into bed. He was glued to Bakugou’s side almost instantly, where he belonged if Bakugou was to be honest. Bakugou smiled and nestled his face in Kirishima’s soft, soft hair.

“I’ll miss this place,” he mumbled, already drifting out of reality.

Kirishima whispered into his chest, “I’ll miss you.”

Bakugou’s sleepy mind could hardly make sense of the statement. He just nodded. “I missed you too.”

They were going on an adventure together, what did Kirishima have to miss in the future?


“You've got to be fucking kidding me.”

Kirishima grinned maniacally, waving Bakugou closer. “I told you it was something to help monster hunting! I was dead serious!”

“I didn't know you had such a passion to prove me wrong.” Bakugou refused to move from his spot. He crossed his arms, unamused with the situation but absolutely smitten with Kirishima.

Kirishima had the decent flush a little. “That's not the only reason! You're a knight, Katsuki! You need a damn horse!”

No matter how accurate that statement may be, Bakugou could not let go Kirishima went out of his way to find a horse for him after their conversation. “And you need to be right, apparently.”

“Oh shut up and come meet Riot! He's taken a liking to me so there's no way he won't like you!”

Bakugou squinted, but finally approached the barn. “What kind of fucking name is Riot for a horse.”

The manic grin returned. Kirishima led him to a stall at the end of the barn where a giant auburn horse stood eating hay. “He's a riot of a ride!”

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Is this some wild horse no one else wants.”

That damn grin only grew. “What, are you not up to the challenge? It took me up till yesterday to ride without getting bucked off.”

“I hate you so much. This is not how I wanted to spend my last day in town,” Bakugou grumbled, all while grabbing a halter for the damn animal.

Kirishima only laughed and opened the stall door for him. “Just think about how much faster it’s going to be traveling to the opposite end of the kingdom and back.”

“Yeah, we’ll see if the fucker warms up to me or not.”

“He has an itchy spot on his butt. If you work on that real hard he’ll warm up real quick!”

It was a long, grueling day. Bakugou had to give Kirishima credit where he could, the horse was without a doubt not scared of either of them. The animal was not scared of anything and seemed to have a death wish with how often it kept throwing Bakugou to the ground. Riot was shit horse and Bakugou was a shit rider. It had been years since he last rode a horse on his own.

Thankfully, his old lessons started coming back to him. He adjusted accordingly as memories jostled to the forefront of his mind–where to hold his legs, which muscles he should be using, how to properly use the reins. Riot was a stubborn, mean-spirited thing, but Bakugou was even meaner and more stubborn.

He worked through the day. Any breaks he took were for Riot, and Bakugou made sure to stay with the animal so it knew there was no rest till Bakugou won. Kirishima left to arrange supplies for Riot, once he was positive Bakugou was going to keep him.

Bakugou wanted to strangle Riot every time he ended up on the ground, but he could not help but respect the horse’s spirit. This was a determined, free-spirited horse, what better steed for a knight like Bakugou?

The day was coming to a close and Bakugou felt confident in saying he could ride Riot across the kingdom. He had a lot of training to do along the way–and he knew jackshit about training horses–but it was possible he would come out of this trip with a trusty steed. There was no better trial than that by fire.

As he was grooming Riot before putting him back in his stall, the rancher popped his head in to pass on the message Kirishima had gone back to the manor. Bakugou thanked the pat and gave Riot a pat on the head.

“The jerk couldn’t wait up for me, huh?”

Riot snorted and butted his nose into Bakugou’s pocket, where he had been keeping the treats all day. Bakugou smirked. This horse was a pain in the ass, but smart, and had totally grown on him. He pulled out the remaining treats and let Riot have them.

“You’re going to spoil your dinner, dumbass.”

Bakugou double checked the saddlebags and gear Kirishima had brought down earlier in the day. All he needed was his rucksack and he was good to go tomorrow. He was going monster hunting, finally.

The trek back to the manor hurt more than Bakugou expecting. Being on horseback and being thrown off horseback did a bigger toll on his body than he realized. By the time he reached the manor doorstep, he was highly considering just going straight to bed.

A surprising aroma of food hit Bakugou as he opened the door. It smelled delicious. Thoughts of sleep were instantly replaced with ravenous hunger. Bakugou made a beeline to the kitchen, stomach starting to rumble, reminding him he only had a small lunch.

“What the fuck are you making?” Bakugou asked, walking into the room.

Kirishima yelped in surprise and whirled around from the stove to face him. “No! What are you doing back so soon? I’m not done yet!” He paused, and a look of panic crossed his face. “Wait, does it smell bad? Did I screw something up?”

“Hah? No I asked that in a good way.” Bakugou followed his nose to the pot Kirishima was trying to block with his body. “It smells spicy and amazing.”

“You said you like spicy stuff, so I asked around for some good recipes and tried this one-“ Kirishima shoved him away from the pot. “I wanted to be done before you got home and surprise you!”

Bakugou felt his heart swell with adoration. Honestly, Kirishima was too good. He snorted and ruffled Kirishima’s hair. “Well I am completely surprised, so you accomplished that. I’ll help you finish.”

There was no better way Bakugou could think of to spend their last night in the manor than cooking together. He was a damn good teacher, if he said so himself, so Kirishima’s dish was turning out good. Bakugou added his own touches to make it fantastic.

There was no longer the awkward bumping elbows and trying to move around each other in the limited space. It was only natural for Bakugou to step in and guide Kirishima on how to do something better. It was no longer distracting when Kirishima rested his head on Bakugou’s shoulder to watch him cook. Their ways of working around and with each other had become second nature.

Dinner was a quiet affair, as the night before. They were both rather tired, and the meal was too delicious to spare energy talking when they could be eating. A bath was in order for Bakugou, and Kirishima teased him about falling asleep again as he gathered their dishes.

Bakugou wrapped his arms around Kirishima’s waist from behind and nestled his head on his shoulder. “Fuck the dishes for later. Come take a bath with me and make sure I don’t fall asleep.”

A tremor ran down Kirishima’s spine that Bakugou could feel. He could not restrain the smirk the pulled at his lips. Bakugou turned his head and kissed Kirishima’s neck. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“You’re awful,” Kirishima muttered, pulling away to set the dishes down in the wash basin.

“But I win.”

Kirishima smiled and shook his head. “Yeah, you win.”

 

They spent a little too long in the heavy air of the baths. However, the heat was not the only source of their flushed skin. Kirishima was full of giddy laughter as they dried off, almost toppling over as he tried to pull his boxers on.

Bakugou caught him with a fond roll of his eyes. “Dumbass.”

“Love you too,” Kirishima crooned, pecking him on the lips and dashing out of the room.

“I’m not chasing after you!” Bakugou called after him. He snorted to himself and stared at Kirishima’s discarded towel. Damn, what were they even going to do about some of this stuff while they were gone? The kitchen was still pretty stocked as well. Kirishima probably figured all of that out, this was his manor after all. Knowing Kirishima, he probably put out an open invitation for anyone to help themselves to the manor.

Bakugou yawned as he appreciated the darkened halls he would not see for a while. Yeah, he was really going to miss this place. It was nice, having somewhere he truly wanted to return to when the job was done.

Kirishima was already burrowed under the covers when Bakugou finally made it to their room. He was so burrowed, in fact, that the ends of the blanket were tucked up underneath him.

“Bed hog,” Bakugou accused, jerking the blanket off of Kirishima.

He whined and latched his arms around Bakugou’s waist, pulling him into bed and attaching himself to him. “It’s cold,” he whined, nuzzling his face against Bakugou’s hair.

“Yeah, well maybe if you left some blanket for me to get under, I wouldn’t have had to take to drastic measures.” Bakugou rolled his eyes and pulled the blanket over the both of them. “Besides, it’s only going to get colder.”

Kirishima sighed and hugged Bakugou tighter. “Yeah…” He kissed the top of Bakugou’s head before nuzzling against him again. “Early morning tomorrow, let’s get some sleep.”

Bakugou grunted in response, his fatigue finally catching up with him. He traced Kirishima’s scales with a gloved finger. “G’night.”

“Night…” Kirishima sighed again. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Actually touching Kirishima’s scales would be such a relaxing way to fall asleep…


This was it. Riot was fully tacked up, Bakugou’s rucksack had all of his essentials, his fingers were itching for some monster killing.

The kids in the village were up at the crack of dawn to see them off. They raced around Bakugou’s heels, screaming out wishes of good luck and demanding Bakugou come back as soon as possible to tell them about this adventure. Bakugou promised he would and Kirishima managed to get the kids to back off once they got to the edge of town.

They walked side by side, Riot trailing behind Bakugou almost obediently. It was a lie, Bakugou knew it had to be. The horse was probably still groggy at these early hours. There were going to be some trials to get through riding the first couple of days. For now, it was nice to walk and warm up the muscles.

The further they got from town, the slower Kirishima’s pace became. He kept slowing down, and slowing down, until he stopped. The village was still in view, but would disappear with the next bend in the road. Bakugou stopped as well, looked over his shoulder with furrowed brows. Now was not the time to get getting cold feet!

“I guess this is where we should part,” Kirishima mumbled, not looking up from the ground.

His words bounced around Bakugou’s head as he tried to comprehend their meaning. Why were they parting? They were going monster hunting together. Was that not why Kirishima went out of his way to get Riot for them? To make this trip shorter so he was not away from his village for too long?

Wait.

Bakugou squinted. Where was Kirishima’s rucksack? Had he not packed one? Had he? Bakugou assumed he had taken care of all that when he was stuck in Jadane gathering information. But, Kirishima had nothing on him. Bakugou looked at the bags on Riot, truly looked at them for the first time. He had trust Kirishima with those preparations, but now that he gave it a good look, that did not look like enough supplies for two people.

Hold up.

Kirishima was not coming with him. Kirishima had never planned on coming with him. Why was Kirishima not coming with him? Oh god. Was this the end? Did Kirishima want to part part? But everything was perfect! Or was it. Kirishima had been sighing a lot. And seemed off. Oh god were they breaking up?

Bakugou had finally found someone he cared about. Now was his heart about to get shattered? How was this fair? He should have seen the signs, tried to stop this before it got to this point-

Exasperated laughter jerked Bakugou out of his downward spiral of thoughts. Kirishima’s smile was sadden, but fond. “I knew it. I didn’t think you could be such a presumptuous asshole, but you always prove me wrong. You assumed I was going with you, didn’t you? You’re such an asshole, you’re lucky I love you.”

The rapidly rising tension broke instantly. Bakugou’s shoulders dropped as he sighed out, “Oh god you do? You’re not breaking up with me?”

Kirishima stared at him, mouth agape for a moment before bursting into laughter. “No, Katsuki, I’m not breaking up with you! What in the world gave you that idea?”

“You just said we should part!” Bakugou yelled defensively.

“I meant literally!” Kirishima yelled back through his laughter.

“Oh.”

They stared at each other, Kirishima’s laughter stifling as silence settled over them. Bakugou furrowed his brows. “Why the fuck aren’t you coming with me?”

“Are you seriously asking that?” Kirishima gestured to himself.

Bakugou scowled. “Oh fuck all that. I’ll kick anyone’s ass that tries to give you shit for how you look. You’re going to win over anyone that talks to you for more than two sentences anyways!”

Kirishima shook his head. “I have no doubt you would, but I do doubt people’s ability to just accept me. My villagers are weird. You’re weird. The rest of the kingdom is not going to be so lenient for my appearance. I can’t leave like this, Katsuki.”

“Oh sure you fucking can. You’re just too scared to.”

Kirishima winced and tried to shrug it off. “Yeah, but that’s not the only reason. I’m still connected to this place. If something bad happens, I’m going to know and not be able to do anything to help. There’s no way I’d be able to live with that.”

That was a better reason, but Bakugou knew it was still only secondary. “The fucking knights trio have set up base here for their dumb quest. I doubt they’re leaving any time soon, so your precious village will be fine without you.”

“I’m totally out of practice fighting, too. We haven’t properly sparred since I got hurt. I’ll only be a hindrance.”

Now he was just grasping at straws. Bakugou rolled his eyes. “We can spar on the road. You’ll be fucking fine. Stop making excuses.”

“I can’t go with you, Katsuki. Can you please drop it? I don’t want you to leave with an argument the last thing between us.” Kirishima looked so overwhelming upset it put a vice grip on Bakugou’s stomach. Dammit.

Riot was content munching on some grass, so Bakugou dropped his reins and stomped over to Kirishima. He pulled him into a bone crushing hug and buried his face in his hair. “You’re so full of shit, Eijirou, but fine. You’re not coming. This time.”

Kirishima laughed weakly. “This time… Katsuki-“

“Nope, don’t say anything. We’ll talk about it when I get back.”

Fuck he had been planning this whole time with the thought of Kirishima at his side. He already felt homesick for this damn village and Kirishima.

Bakugou pulled back and stared into Kirishima’s eyes. Kirishima stared back, a hint of a smile starting to return. That was better. Bakugou glanced at their surroundings. He looked back to Kirishima and took a deep breath.

“I love you and I’m going to miss you, a lot. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”

Before Kirishima could respond, Bakugou leaned in pressed their lips together, determined to convey his feelings in action. Kirishima returned the sentiment, pressed himself even closer to Bakugou and nipped gently at Bakugou’s bottom lip. Bakugou slid his gloved hands through Kirishima’s hair, grabbed a fistful and held him in place as their tongues twined together. Kirishima huffed through his nose, grabbed Bakugou’s hair in retaliation and scraped his teeth against Bakugou’s tongue.

They could have easily lost themselves to the give and take battle that kept them in the baths so long the night before, but a soft whinny from Riot pulled them back to reality. They broke their kiss, foreheads still resting together as they caught their breath.

Heat crept up from Bakugou’s neck and he fought to keep his composure. If anyone happened to have walked past them-

“We’re still the only ones around, don’t worry,” Kirishima whispered, his words caressed Bakugou’s wetted lips.

Bakugou scowled and gave Kirishima’s hair a light tug. “Shut up, I don’t care.”

Kirishima laughed and gave him a quick peck. “Of course you don’t. That’s why you’re turning bright red.”

“Oh fuck you,” Bakugou pulled away and grabbed Riot’s reins once more. “Like I said, don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”

“Same goes for you,” Kirishima replied in a sing-song tone. “This monster better not be someone else with a curse that’s gonna fall for you.”

Bakugou snorted and pulled himself up on Riot’s back. “Yeah well even if it were, they would be shit out of luck.”

“Because you love me.”

Even though Bakugou had just said it himself, the way Kirishima said it made his heart flip. He looked away. “Shut up.”

“And you just kissed me.”

Bakugou squeezed his eyes shut, prayed for patience he knew he did not have. He had intended on leaving on a good note with Kirishima, but he just had to be a teasing piece of shit. “I did, fucking shut up.”

“You didn’t seem to want me to shut up when you were kissing me last night-“

“Okay, fuck you. I’m going.”

Bakugou turned Riot down the path and tried hard not to look over his shoulder at Kirishima. He did not want to see his expression as he left.

“I love you!” Kirishima called over him, a hint of desperation in his voice. “Come home soon!”

Bakugou bit his lip, but refused to turn around. He raised a hand in the air and waved. “I love you too. I’ll be back soon.”

As he continued down the path, Kirishima yelled advice after him. Make sure to sleep enough, don’t skip any meals, take good care of Riot. He waved each of them off till he could no longer hear Kirishima’s voice. Bakugou still refused to look back. He refused to acknowledge the wetness on his cheeks and the grip of emotion in his chest.

He would see Kirishima again soon. He would hold Kirishima again soon.

Bakugou stared at his gloved hands.

He still would not be able to touch Kirishima, trace his scales and feel his hair between his fingers.

Bakugou hoped he would be able to do that someday soon.

Chapter Text

It was impossible to stay in the manor. Kirishima missed Bakugou so much it physically hurt. The manor had always been too big for one person, but it had been easier to fool himself in his solitude. Bakugou completely shattered any hope for Kirishima comfortably living in the manor alone again.

It was impossible to stay in town. Plenty of people offered a place to stay so he would not have to be alone again, but Kirishima had to turn them down. The bed smelled like Bakugou. Their room had items Bakugou did not pack for his journey. The kitchen was arranged just as Bakugou liked it. For every reminder that Bakugou was gone, there were two more that he was coming back.

Kirishima left the manor as early as he could every morning, but always returned to make himself a small dinner and sleep in their bed. His heart was heavy, but he slept in the comfort of Bakugou’s lingering presence.

There was plenty to do in the village to keep his mind occupied. He loved helping the local farmers with their crops. Word of his impressive gardening skills had quickly put him in high demand. It was nice, spending his days digging in the dirt. Whenever he needed to take care of his own garden, he managed to find some sort of companion.

The knights trio were busier with less time to just hang out, but Kirishima managed to nab them when they had moments of peace. He asked them why they were still sticking around. Surely they did not have to stay in the tiny village inn. Apparently, there were not many knights in this part of the kingdom. They were picking up odd jobs here and there, but recently there was a bit of a demand for them in the neighboring cities and towns. There was still a hunt for the missing prince, but they had plenty of real work to do now.

Kirishima was happy they were sticking around for a while longer.

It was two weeks into Bakugou’s absence and Kirishima was invested in his new pet project: making flowerbeds around the town square fountain. Uraraka came running into the square, a giant smile on her face.

“Eijirou! My friend is going to be getting here this afternoon!”

He sat back on his heels and stared quizzically at her. “Congrats?”

She laughed and gently bopped him on the head. “My magic merchant friend I contacted for you a while back? To investigate your curse?”

“Oh. Oh!” Kirishima jumped to his feet, eyes wide and mouth agape. “I totally forgot about that! Seriously? Today ? Oh my god there’s no room in the inn, I should make a guest room! That was no warning at all!”

Uraraka grabbed his shoulders to keep him from running off to the manor. “She’s awful at keeping in contact with me and just popped a message over the winds. No need to fret, she’s not expecting any accommodations since it’s so last second.”

Kirishima shook his head. “She’ll be helping me tons, I have no doubt. It’s the least I can do is let her stay at my place.”

“She has a companion too, Ei. They’re both pretty rowdy-“

“The more the merrier!” Kirishima laughed and broke away from Uraraka’s hold. “I should make some dinner too! You all are welcome to join as well!”

“We have some business to take care of tonight. Sorry-“

“That’s fine!” Kirishima gathered his gardening supplies as fast as he could. He was going to have guests! He was so excited, his heart was thumping in his ears. His home was not going to be empty for a bit! “Another time! Thanks for telling me, Ochako! I have lots to do now!”

Uraraka reached out for him. “Wait, Eijirou, I should tell you-“

He was already racing out of the square before she could finish her sentence.

This was it, this could be the solution to everything.

Kirishima despised his curse, it was common knowledge. He hated looking like he did, hated not being normal . At first he hated it for keeping him solitary. He hated being alone, hated the terror he would bestow upon those that saw him. But then Bakugou happened. Kirishima started to think about his curse less. Despite the traumatizing way it happened, once his secret was in the open, Kirishima honestly started to feel content with himself. Maybe, just maybe, he would be alright if his curse was never broken.

But then Bakugou got a quest.

The precarious house of cards Kirishima built his confidence out of fell apart with the lightest of breaths.

There was no way he could ever live a full life if his curse was never broken. He loved his town, his villagers, but more than anything he wanted to join Bakugou on his quests. Kirishima wanted to travel the kingdom with a sword on his hip and Bakugou at his side. He wanted to meet the people of all the lands, wanted to help all who needed it.

He could not do that looking like a monster.

Kirishima hated how confident Bakugou was in his stead. He hated how his curse form was normal for Bakugou. He had a feeling Bakugou couldn’t care less if Kirishima’s curse was ever broken. He feared he could care less if his own curse was ever broken… That was another thought for another time.

Since Bakugou left, Kirishima distracted himself from the loneliness, yes, but also his disappointment. He could not let himself think of the what ifs or he would never get out of bed. What if his curse had already broken and he could have gone with Bakugou to hunt the beast in the north. What if Bakugou had realized Kirishima was not planning on going sooner, would he had been able to convince Kirishima otherwise? What if Kirishima was not so terrified of other people, would he have been able to go?

The what ifs went on and on. Kirishima had to distract himself to stop them from spiraling with no end.

But now, oh now he could let the what ifs fly free.

The what ifs were for the future and he could not be more excited.

What if this magic merchant figured out what was wrong with Kirishima’s curse? What if she could tell him exactly how to break it? What if she could break it for him? What if when Bakugou returned, Kirishima’s curse was already broken? Next time, Kirishima could go with him without a second thought.

Kirishima tried to tell himself to be reasonable; he should not get his hopes too high. It was hard to keep the hopes from rising with such bright possibilities in his future.

Dinner was hardly anything as great as Bakugou could achieve, but Kirishima was quite proud of himself with how quickly he got something decent put together. He was getting the guest rooms set up when a loud knock echoed through the manor.  They were here!

He raced back downstairs, trying his best to fix his clothes and hair to be presentable as he opened the door. The least he could do was make sure the rest of him looked nice to maybe dwindle the shock of his scales and horns. Sure, this magic merchant worked with curses, but he doubted she would be unfazed by him.

It was Kirishima who was in for a shock as he opened the front door.

Standing on his doorstep was a pink woman. She was pink . Her skin was a soft lavender pink. Her hair was short, big, and pink . Nestled in her lightly curled locks were small yellow horns. She looked up at him with a beaming smile and her pitch black eyes sparkled. Her entire eye was black, except for golden irises. What-

“Hello!” She chirped, holding her hand out to him. “Ashido Mina, at your service! I’m Ochako’s friend, she said you have a bit of a cursing problem?”

Kirishima shook her hand in a daze. How was this not a dream? “Y-yes, I do. Kirishima Eijirou. I’m sorry, but what are-“

“Mina! You have got to stop running off without me so I’m stuck taking care of the cart on my own!” An exasperated voice called from down the path to town. A small cart came into view, the man leading the horse looked none too pleased. He came to an abrupt stop as he got a look of Kirishima. His eyes went wide.

“Holy shit.”

Kirishima felt like hiding. He started to shrink back into the shadows of the house when Ashido bounced off the doorstep with a laugh.

“But you’re perfectly fine on your own, Denki. Besides, I wanted to check him out before you caught up!”

Denki? Why did that name sound familiar? Wait, caught up?

“I’m not fine, you know Bolt likes you more than me. He’s a pain in the ass on wooded paths if it’s just me!” He turned his attention from Ashido and flashed Kirishima a giant smile. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be bitching first thing! Long time no see, dude! I thought you were dead! What the hell happened to you?”

Confusion consumed the dread Kirishima felt. He stepped forward out of the house to get a better look of the man. Why was he speaking as if they knew each other? Kirishima squinted at the blond man and his easy smile. A strange design of black adorned his fringe, sparking a memory.  

No way.

“Denki… Kaminari Denki?”

Kaminari’s smile grew and he pumped a fist in the air. “Ha!” He turned to Ashido. “I told you he would remember me! And you doubted me!”

What were the chances? Kirishima approached him in a daze. He grabbed Kaminari’s face and tugged his cheeks. “This has got to be some strange dream.”

“Woah! Dude!” Kaminari jumped back, eyes bulging. “You're supposed to pinch yourself in a dream, not me. And watch those nails, jeez.”

“How- How are you here?”

It was like a ghost from his past just appeared on his doorstep. Kaminari was the son of a wealthy businessman in Jadane. Their fathers had worked together a lot in their youth, so they became quick friends. He was the only friend Kirishima had outside of the village. But Kaminari’s father remarried and moved to an entirely different kingdom . Kirishima had not thought of Kaminari since before his curse. His strange lightning bolt hair was hard to forget.

“I'm traveling with Mina!” He laughed and pat Kirishima’s shoulder. “This is totally a lot to process right now, I'm sure. You have stables, right? Let's get Bolt set up and then we can talk!”

Ashido threw an arm over Kirishima’s shoulders, her unsettling eyes stared up at him in delight. “Ochako said you made us dinner, too!”

Right, there was still the issue of this strange woman. How in the world was she traveling around looking like that ? Kirishima just nodded. “Y-Yeah. I'll help you guys get your horse and wares settled. Then we can- talk?”

Kaminari grinned like a madman. “Hell yeah we can! We have years to catch up on! I'm so happy to see you, seriously!”

At that declaration, Kirishima felt a rush of joy. He had not thought of Kaminari in years, but seeing him now reminded him of the sorrow he felt as a kid when he moved. As he helped them with their cart, Kirishima realized something else.

After Kaminari’s initial shock, he hardly seemed to pay mind to Kirishima’s scaled condition.

Kirishima was brimming with questions, but it seemed to be an unspoken agreement to wait till dinner to talk. Rather than leave all their personal items in the stable, Kirishima helped the duo bring things to their guest rooms. He hesitated briefly, unsure if they wanted to share a room, but Ashido rushed forward with an elated whoop. She declared delight she would not have to deal with Kaminari’s snoring for once, which set them off into lighthearted bickering. Kirishima wondered what their relationship was.

Soon enough they made it to the kitchen. It still felt like an eternity to Kirishima. He was near bursting at the seams with his questions, but he had the role of host to play. Kirishima served dinner as quickly as possible and was hardly in his seat before the first question escaped.

“What are you?” He asked, unsure how else to phrase the question for Ashido.

She stared at him blankly, her lips slightly parted in shock. Kaminari looked between them uncomfortably and leaned across the table to whisper.

“Dude, seriously? That’s not how you ask a girl-“

Quiet giggles cut him off as Ashido covered her mouth to try to cover them. Kaminari’s jaw dropped and the sight of his shocked expression made her break. She started laughing hysterically, clutching her sides with tears in her eyes. Kirishima had no idea how to respond. He kept his mouth shut until Ashido got her giggles out of her system and took a small sip of water.

“I don’t think anyone has ever asked me so directly before!” She grinned, clearly not offended like Kaminari expected her to be. Kirishima relaxed a tad. “I’m a fairy!”

“I’m sorry- what?” Kirishima said. His mind shut off, was unable to understand the meaning of her words. Surely she did not just say-

“A fairy .”

She definitely just said that.

Kirishima gave her another good, hard stare. His mother used to tell him tales of olden days of their kingdom where magic was more common, and beings of magic lived side by side with humans. Fairies were part of those tales, but fairies were supposed to be tiny, winged humans. He had never heard of a type of fairy with pink skin or horns.

“You’re thinking of pixies,” Ashido said, digging into her food. She hummed in appreciation before continuing. “I can see it on your face, you’re trying to figure out how I’m a fairy without any wings.”

Kaminari snorted, almost choking on his food. “No, he’s trying to figure out how a fairy looks more like a troll-“

Kirishima coughed in his surprise. Kaminari was ready to give him a lecture about being rude in asking a question, but then he went and said that! Ashido was clearly of the same mindset and harshly kicked Kaminari under the table.

“Asshole!” Her cheeks puffed in a pout and looked to Kirishima. “Don’t listen to him! Trolls are not pink and they may have horns, but they’re not nearly as cute as yours or mine!”

Cute- Kirishima blushed a little and fought a smile. No one had ever called his cursed features cute before. Ashido’s horns, he could understand describing them as cute. They were dainty and did not look lethal. “I’d hardly call my horns cute. I’ve never seen a troll before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re similar-“

“No way!” Ashido and Kaminari yelled in unison. They exchanged a look, then snorted at each other. Any offense Ashido took to his earlier words was gone as she gestured for him to go ahead.

Kaminari nodded sagely and leaned in close to Kirishima. “Troll horns are all jagged and broken. You know when your nails start chipping and shit? Totally the texture of troll horns. Shit’s nasty.”

“Your horns are so healthy looking! What do you do to get such a nice shine to them?” Ashido’s eyes were almost glowing with curiosity. “Mine always look so dull! What’s your secret?”

“I don’t really do anything special.” Kirishima brushed the topic aside, much more interested about trolls. He leaned in close to Kaminari as well. “You’ve seen trolls? Did you fight them? Where do you find trolls at?”

“They’re nasty buggers!” Kaminari shook his head. “Awful temper and dumb as rocks. They steer clear of this kingdom. Most magical creatures do. Do you have any idea how infamous the knights of these lands are?”

Kirishima thought about Bakugou, his knighted friends, and the stories of All Might and their king. “I didn’t know, but I’m not surprised.”

Ashido grinned and joined them leaning across the table. “Ochako told us you caught the heart of the Monster Slayer.”

Kirishima was thankful he was not trying to eat, for he surely would have choked if he were. He stared at Ashido, jaw agape. “ Excuse me ? Monster Slayer?”

She giggled. “Didn’t you hear Denki? This kingdom is infamous for its knights! Any magical being with half a brain has heard of your man. All Might and Endeavor are scary enough, but in the past couple of years Bakugou has single handedly made creatures quiver at just the thought passing through the area!”

Oh. Wow. From the way Bakugou spoke about his monster hunting, Kirishima had never considered the possibility that people knew of him–that he had an epithet! But it made sense. Bakugou had been a knight since he was 16. He exclusively hunted down monsters and won every time. He was certainly an unforgettable character.

Did Bakugou know about how far his name had spread? From the way he spoke, it would make sense he was in the dark. And yet, the more Kirishima thought about, the more he wondered if Bakugou would still talk the same despite knowing. Bakugou’s goal was much higher than simply being known. He wanted to be the best. Anything below that was probably not worth celebrating.

Yeah, that sounded like Bakugou.

“Monster Slayer is such a cool name,” Kirishima mused, leaning back in his chair with a nod. “It’s super manly and totally fits him.”

He looked at their near full dishes and gasped. “I’m sorry! I’m distracting you from your dinner! I’m sure you’re hungry! Eat! We can talk more once you’ve had your fill!”

With his first and most pressing question answered–for the most part–Kirishima was content to let everyone eat undisturbed. Kaminari and Ashido ate with such an appreciation for his food, it filled him with pride. His cooking had improved so much under Bakugou’s tutelage. Maybe he could work hard on a new recipe to surprise Bakugou with when he returned…

Ashido stifled a yawn as she leaned back in her chair, patting her stomach appreciatively. “That was delicious ! We’ve been on the road for a while, that might be our best meal in months!”

“Definitely! Thanks so much man!” Kaminari’s eyelids drooped a bit and smacked his cheeks.

They were both clearly exhausted. It was getting rather late, and they had been traveling all day. Kirishima’s throat tightened as he offered, “Why don’t you guys get some sleep? The bath is open to you as well if you wanna relax before bed.”

Ashido squinted at him, her long lashes blending in with her blackened eyes. “Don’t you want to know about your curse right now?”

He did, god did he ever want to know. But he could hardly bring himself to demand their services when they were falling asleep at the dinner table. Kirishima shook his head and forced a smile. “There’s no rush. Whether I find out now or tomorrow, it makes no difference in the long run, does it?”

“Yeah, but-“

Kaminari stood and pulled Ashido to her feet. “Quit pushing him, Mina. He’s trying to be considerate of us! You don’t know how much energy you’re going to have to put into this curse, best as well go at it fully rested.”

She crossed her arms and pursed her lips, but then sighed and shrugged. “Fine, fine, you have a point. At the very least let’s chat about stuff! The more I know, the easier it will be to figure out the magic. Let’s take a bath!”

That sounded nice. Kirishima nodded and gathered their dishes. “Sure! You’ll love my bathroom, it’s awesome!”

A strangled noise came drew their attention to a blushing Kaminari. He pointed accusingly at Kirishima. “Dude! What the heck?! How can you just casually accept an invitation to bath with a girl !?”

Oh. Right. He totally forgot that was a bit strange to share a bath between the sexes. But, Ashido said it so casually she clearly did not care. So what was the harm? “She offered?”

Kaminari opened and closed his mouth, unable to form words. His cheeks only grew a deeper shade of red. Was it really that big of a deal?

Ashido huffed with a roll of her eyes. “Honestly, Denki. He’s practically a married man! He doesn’t care about silly human modesty like you do.”

It was Kirishima’s turn to flush. He turned around to hide it and clean the dishes. A married man? Hardly! Well, maybe just a little. There was no one he wanted to be with other than Bakugou. Would Bakugou marry him if he broke his curse? Could they even get married? Bakugou would look so good in formal clothes…

“Ha, see! He’s flustered at the thought of marrying the Monster Slayer!” Ashido’s giggles only made Kirishima’s face hotter. “Join us, Denki!”

Kirishima peeked over his shoulder to see Kaminari’s face contorted in a mix of embarrassment and thoughtfulness. His cheeks were redder than Kirishima’s scales. He finally shook his head and turned on his heels. “F-fine! I will! It’s not weird at all! Let’s all take a bath together!”

As he left the room, Ashido joined Kirishima at the sink with a playful grin. “He’s totally going to hide in his room. He’s so easily flustered it’s adorable!”

Kirishima’s lips twitched in a small smile. He remembered how Kaminari used to make a bit of a fool of himself around girls when they were kids. It seemed he had not changed much. Again, he wondered what their relationship was, but he felt it was a question better for Kaminari.

With the kitchen clean, Kirishima led her to the bath. She squealed in delight at the steaming waters and proceeded to investigate every nook and cranny to discover the underlying magics of the room. Kirishima never gave the room much thought, since he grew up with it, but was extremely thankful for the mild enchantment as Ashido went off on a tangent explaining it. Life would have sucked if the enchantment had been too weak and wore off.

Kaminari would probably have lots to say if he knew, but Kirishima could not help but stare at Ashido as they slid into the steaming waters. It made sense her skin would be pink everywhere, but it was still startling to see in person. She was so otherworldly it was difficult to fathom.

“How do you travel looking like you do?” He blurted out, once again probably too blunt about her appearance.

Ashido cocked her head, her soft curls bouncing around her horns. “What does what I look like have to do with traveling?”

“Well, I mean, aren’t people scared of you?” He realized that was the worst way to phrase his question at her immediate offended expression. He quickly amended. “Not that you’re scary! You don’t look scary! But you’re different, and clearly not human. And people tend to be scared of what they don’t know.”

She pursed her lips in thought. Kirishima did not understand how it was a difficult question. “I’ll be honest, I’ve been traveling around the human realm for quite a while. People are startled and put off at first, yeah, but I’ve honestly quit noticing. I have something they want, and you’d be surprised how quickly people get over their prejudices when you can help them.”

She crossed her arms and leaned against the side of the pool. “Although, now that I think about it, people have been a little more welcoming from the get-go since Kaminari started traveling with me. I think it’s easier for them to accept I’m what I say I am with a human at my side, y’know?”

Kirishima hummed, mulling over the information with a frown. It was hard to believe people just got over how un-human Ashido looked so easily. It probably helped she was pink and cute, not covered in scales with deadly looking horns and talons.

“Enough about me! I want to know all about you!”

With an ecstatic grin, Ashido grilled him about his relationship with Bakugou. She was completely enraptured by his story and no detail was too small. Kirishima never told the whole story from the beginning to anyone before, and it made his heart ache as he spoke. They went through so much together. It hurt he was missing out on this adventure with Bakugou.

Ashido picked up on his feelings and comfortingly pat his shoulder once they were out of the water. Her smile was sweet and knowing. “I’ll figure this out. You won’t have to stay behind next time, Kirishima.”

Tears pricked the corners of his eyes and he smiled them away. “Thank you, Ashido.”

She giggled and ran a towel through her thick hair, the soft curls bounced against her horns. “Please, call me Mina! We just shared a bath and you spilled your heart out, I can’t be Ashido anymore!”

He blushed, but nodded. “Well in that case, same goes for you, Mina. It’s Eijirou now.”

Her smile was blinding. Those blackened eyes were no longer unsettling, but instead sparkled like a starry night sky. It was impossible not to feel hopeful under that shining smile. “Well Eijirou, let’s get some sleep. It’ll be a big day tomorrow with lots of hocus-pocus!”

And maybe, if he was lucky, a lot less scales.

Kirishima grinned. “Can’t wait.”


 

“You're a scoundrel.”

Kirishima looked up from the pancakes he was working on and met Kaminari’s accusing stare with a pout. “We just talked about Katsuki the entire time. Why are you making a big deal out of it?”

Kaminari waved his hands around, struggling to find his words. He finally crossed his arms. “How long have you been alone up here? Clearly you've forgotten how normal people act!! Mina has an excuse because fairies are weird, but dude you took a bath with a girl !”

A sly grin pulled at Kirishima’s mouth. He set his spatula down to face Kaminari, leaning against the counter. “Are you guys together? Is that why you're upset?”

If the scrambling for words was bad before, it had nothing on the silent flailing Kaminari responded with. He smacked his cheeks and pointed at Kirishima. “We’re not! But what if you got some untoward thoughts and-” As he spoke his defensive stance melted away and his brows smoothed. “Right- you're totally head over heels for the Monster Slayer…”

He flushed bright red and collapsed at the kitchen table. He buried his face in his hands and groaned loudly. “I'm such an idiot!”

Kirishima could only laugh. It had been years since they last saw each other, but it really was still the same old Kaminari. He overreacted way too easily. “It's okay! You're clearly really close. What is your relationship if you're not together?”

He turned back to making breakfast as Kaminari sprawled himself across the table. “I guess, she's sorta my fairy godmother?”

Kirishima choked on a laugh. “Dude, what ?”

Kaminari groaned even louder. “It's so embarrassing! I don't want to explain it!”

Now that just would not do. Kirishima piled the pancakes on a plate and set them in front of Kaminari with a grin. “Story or no pancakes.”

He stared at the plate, contemplating his options. Kaminari sighed in his defeat. “Fine. When my dad got remarried and I moved away, we moved in with my step-mom and step-siblings. They were awful people but it wasn’t too bad because I had my dad around. But then my dad died-“

Kirishima did not mean to cut him off, but his sharp intake made Kaminari look up and pause. Under his gaze, Kirishima felt obligated to whisper, “I didn’t know. I’m sorry, Kaminari.”

“Hey, don’t fret about it. How would you know? It happened a while ago, I’ve grieved.” Kaminari shrugged and filled his plate while he had the chance. He meticulously cut his pancakes as he continued.

“After he passed I was less of a relative and more a servant for my step-family. It was shit, man. I was getting close to just running away and cutting my losses with what my dad left behind for me, but then Mina came out of nowhere. I have no idea how, but she just knew the whole situation and was there to help me. She did some crazy magic stuff and my step-mom coughed up my inheritance. So, yeah. She might as well be a fairy godmother.”

Kaminari popped a bite of the pancakes in his mouth and threw his head back. “Fuck dude! This is delicious!”

All the praise for his cooking was making Kirishima so proud. He could not wait to brag to Bakugou about it. But- “Wait, hold up, that’s not the end of the story!” Kirishima snatched Kaminari’s plate away before he could eat more. “How does that story end with you here now?”

“Aw come on, I explained the fairy godmother part, that’s what I agreed to!”

Kirishima waved the plate under his nose. “I want the full story!”

Kaminari whined and slouched in his chair. “God, fine. I don’t remember you being so bossy as kids. I got my inheritance, but it wasn’t like I had anything going for me in that house. I asked Mina if I could travel with her with the intentions of it being temporary, but then we realized I’m pretty decent at helping her with her job.”

He held up a hand and small lightning bolts bounced between his fingers. “I’d been sitting on magic of my own for years and didn’t even know it. She’s strong as hell, don’t get me wrong, but having me as back up when things get hairy was just what she needed. We’ve even figured out other uses to my magic that helps her. So now we’re a pair. Can I eat now?”

Kirishima laughed and set the plate down. “Thanks for telling me! I’m glad she showed up for you and that you ended up here.”

Already Kaminari’s mouth was full of pancakes, but he managed a puffy-cheeked grin. “Me too!” He said through his mouthful.

“Gross, don’t talk with your mouth full!” Ashido scolded as she entered the kitchen. “I’d expect the lack of manners from someone who hasn’t been a part of civilization like Eijirou. You know better!”

As she sat next to Kirishima, Kaminari dropped his fork and pointed accusingly at them. He swallowed roughly then shouted, “You scoundrel! You’re on first names all of a sudden? You said you just talked about the Monster Slayer the entire time!”

Ashido giggled as she piled pancakes on her plate. “Calm down, Denki. He shared his whole love story with me, how can I not consider us friends now?”

It was a very simplistic explanation, but Kirishima honestly felt the same. It hardly felt like he just met Ashido last night. She was such a comforting presence, they could have been friends for years. He smiled and nodded. “Yeah. Besides, I’m about to entrust my future to Mina, so why not be friends first?”

“That’s a lot of pressure. I hope I can live up to your expectations.”

Despite her cheerful tone, Kirishima realized how intense that statement sounded. “No expectations to live up to! Literally anything you are able to do or figure out will be more than where I am now, swear!”

Denki gave a thumbs up. “If anyone can figure this out, it’s Mina!”

 

They found themselves in the garden once they were done with breakfast. Ashido requested a beautiful nature backdrop to her investigations, so Kirishima led them to a small swing and bench in the middle of the flower garden. A small fountain sat in the center of the clearing, time had taken its toll on it, the statue inside was weathered beyond recognition. She ignored the bench and swing and sat herself in the grass. Kirishima followed suit.

Kaminari plopped into the swing and closed his eyes. The air charged with his magic and shivers ran down Kirishima’s spine. He was about to ask what was going on, but Ashido placed a finger to his lips.

“He’s amplifying the natural energy of the area. Makes it easier for me to use my magic to investigate your curse.” She spoke in a low voice, almost a whisper. “He’s still getting the hang of it though. Let’s not distract him.”

“I can hear you,” Kaminari said through grit teeth.

Ashido covered her mouth to stifle her laughter, and her eyes shone with her amusement. She grabbed Kirishima’s hands and gave them a squeeze. “Just relax, maybe take a nap. This could take five minutes, it could take hours. I never know what sort of nasty things witches wrap up in their magic. If you feel any discomfort, let me know immediately . Okay?”

“Gotcha.”

She closed her eyes, so Kirishima followed her lead. The charged air around him suddenly felt heavy. It wrapped around him and his breath caught in his throat. This was magic. He remembered the feeling of magic surrounding him when he was first cursed. Before he could start to panic, Ashido squeezed his hands and a soft breeze ran through the clearing.

The scent of flowers broke through his rising nerves. The sunlight basking down on them was much warmer than that dark, rainy night. As he started to relax, Kirishima noticed the differences in magic. He could remember the feeling of witch’s magic like it had happened yesterday. It was oppressive and felt like thick mud surrounding him. Ashido’s magic felt as pink as she looked. It was soft and Kirishima imagined flower petals swirling around him.

He lost track of time while reveling in the sensation of flowers. The wind started to give him a bit of a chill and his stomach growled. Kirishima peeked his eyes open. The sun moved way more than he expected. They had been out here for hours. Kaminari looked asleep. He leaned against the chain of the swing, his cheek pressed upward comedically. Ashido still had her eyes closed, but her brows were scrunched together concentration.

“Goddammit!” She exclaimed, startling both of the men. Kaminari squawked and toppled off the swing. Kirishima jumped, jerking his hands out of Ashido’s loosened grip.

Ashido covered her small giggles. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”

Kaminari rubbed the back of his head and struggled to stare straight at her. “Whatta didjya fwind.”

“Frustrations upon frustrations,” Ashido sighed, not seemingly in the least concerned that Kaminari lost his focus on her and was spaced out at nothing in particular.

Kirishima frowned and whispered, “Mina, is he okay?”

She glanced to Kaminari and laughed. “Oh, yeah, he’s fine. His magic tends to zap his brain, he’ll be back to normal in a bit. The side effect isn’t so strong when he’s been focusing on just using it in a controlled flow. You do not want to know how bad he gets after a big fight.”

“Okay…” Kirishima felt skeptical about her assessment as Kaminari started to drool slightly, but trusted she knew best. He turned his attention back to her. “What’d you figure out?”

Her heavy sigh was not very reassuring.

“So you said the conditions of your curse were: your father gets his head out of his ass or you found true love. Right?”

Kirishima nodded.

“This happened-?”

He chewed his lip and tentatively answered, “About four years ago now, maybe?”

“And your scales started spreading-?”

That answer was immediate. “A year or two ago.”

Ashido twirled a lock of hair around her finger and pursed her lips. “I- I have some theories, but I don’t know how accurate they are. There’s a missing puzzle piece that’s evading me…”

“Honestly, your theories will be way better than the thoughts that have been swirling around my head recently.” He did not want to think about the doubts that haunted him on these past lonely nights.

“Well, for starters, I think it’s highly possible your dad isn’t alive anymore.”

Oh. Kirishima blinked slowly, let the words process. They were not a shock, nor did they elicit much emotion out of him besides confirmation. He did not actively think about his father often, and never in a present context. In a way, his father had been dead to him for quite sometime. The idea of him not in this world anymore simply sounded like a fact.

“I wouldn’t be surprised. Why would that matter?”

She grabbed his hands again and a serious look shadowed her face. “I’m getting there. You might be able to confirm this theory. Think back to around when you first noticed your scales spreading. Were there any days that seemed out of the ordinary before you noticed?”

Kirishima scrunched his face in thought. “I dunno, I’m pretty sure I would remember if something big happened-“

“Not big. Think small.” Ashido cut him off, almost sharply. “Emotions, feelings, a sensation that just didn’t feel quite right. You probably brushed it off as time passed, but in that moment it felt too important to ignore.”

He sighed and closed his eyes, determined to remember this if it was so important. Around the time before he noticed his scales spreading… The days before Bakugou came around just blended together. It was hard to focus his memories on a specific time period when they were all the same. Around the time before he noticed his scales spreading… Oh. There was a day that was different than all the rest!

“Would getting sick count?” He asked, eyes flying open with a hopeful grin.

Ashido nodded, “Sounds possible. Tell me about it.”

“Well I almost never get sick. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten sick except for that one day. I don’t know how long before my scales spread, but I know it was before. I had a horrible fever. It was like my entire body was on fire and my insides felt like they were full of snakes. I felt awful and could only move enough to puke in the bin over the side of my bed. It only lasted a day, though.”

As he spoke, the feeling of Ashido’s magic surrounded him again. She furrowed her brows and squeezed her eyes shut in concentration. Only Kaminari’s quiet mutterings to himself filled the garden as she focused. Finally she looked up to him with a grim expression.

“I think my theory is correct. Magic leaves a record that humans don’t know how to read. Your account helped me pinpoint that day in the history of this magic.” Kirishima realized she was stalling, explaining the process rather than the meaning of her discovery. How bad could it be?

“So what does it all matter?” He prompted again.

Ashido gave his hands a squeeze and took deep breath. “When your dad died, one of the conditions for breaking the curse turned void. It messed with the construction of the curse. Magic is unreliable and finicky, especially curses. The curse… The curse mutated in a way I can’t figure out.”

“What.”

“The curse was a classic ‘reveal what’s hidden within’ type of curse. The problem is, it’s supposed to take people with strong faults and manifest those faults in their physical appearance. But, you didn’t have any personality faults strong enough for the curse to latch on to. I don’t get why or how it made you look this way.”

She was rambling, stalling again. Ashido was trying to distract him from her true discovery. Surely she meant good by it, did not want to distress him with the bad news, but he had to know.

“Mina, what do you mean by the curse mutated.”

Her grip on his hands made him worry for her skin, pressed to tightly against his scales. She paid no mind and locked their gazes together. “I don’t know if the original conditions of the curse still apply. I’m not quite sure what this is anymore.  I need to do some research. Hope isn’t lost, I promise.”

Kirishima’s blood ran cold. Ashido was really good at softening the blow, but he could read between the lines. He knew what the original conditions of the curse were. True love. Was the world really so cruel to let him find true love, but give him no way to free himself from his beastly bonds?


The first snowfall of the year came early. It was Kirishima’s first winter with company since being cursed. He was thankful for it, but could not help but wish it were Bakugou with him.

Kaminari and Ashido were great company, especially since the knights trio had to leave for the capital for the winter. Kirishima loved his villagers, but there was a difference between them and friends of his own. He would have been miserable if Kaminari and Ashido had not decided to stick around.

Ashido was determined to get to the bottom of Kirishima’s curse. Every couple of days she simply disappeared, not even Kaminari was sure where she went. She always returned for dinner and really only told them that she was doing research.

Hanging out with Kaminari was great. Kirishima managed to convince him to spar and he was a better fighter than he liked to give off. He had nothing on Bakugou, but Kirishima had fun avoiding his lightning magic. He had even more fun joking around with a spaced out Kaminari when he over used his magic.

Even better to spar with was Ashido, surprisingly. She was able to create an acidic fluid from her skin and it actually stung through Kirishima’s scales. Her fighting style was amateur, but she was unpredictable in her movements and it made their spars endlessly entertaining.

At some point, Kirishima started giving them advice during their spars and they became more of fighting lessons for the traveling merchants. Ashido was improving at an almost terrifying rate. Kaminari struggled only in that his magic was such a double edged sword. The three of them spent many an afternoon trying to figure out how to help him use his magic more efficiently.

It was all welcome distractions from the empty presence in his life. It was going on a month now since Bakugou left. Kirishima was worried, but tried to reassure himself that no monster could defeat Bakugou. How long did it even take to get to the opposite end of the kingdom? How long did it take to take down a monster? Kirishima did not have enough information and wished for any sort of word on Bakugou.

A messenger came at the end of the month with a letter from Bakugou. The attack on the villages in the area had all but stopped by the time he got there, but not for a good reason. Bakugou suspected the monster’s attacks had been so constant because it was nesting. He needed to find the nest and kill the monster before it gave birth. With the heavy snow up north, he suspected it would be at least a month of searching for the nest.

Kirishima was distraught, of course, but he was glad Bakugou managed to get a letter to him. Waiting that long without knowing would have killed him. The very shakily written ‘I miss you’ and ‘I love you’ also helped soothe his hurt. Kirishima reread those little sentences over and over at night till he fell asleep.

The first snowstorm hit on one of Ashido’s days out.  Kaminari and Kirishima stared out the window at the icy winds and really hoped she managed to find cover. It was impossible for them to go out and look for her, since they never knew where she went. They dragged some books into the foyer and tried to distract themselves by reading.

Every strong gust that shook the doors made them jump up, hopeful it was Ashido returned. As the afternoon passed, they had stopped jumping up at every little sound. It was hard to ignore the growing concern. Kaminari tried reassuring them both by recounting stories of crazy things Ashido did on their journeys. She had fairy magic, after all, she should be fine.

It was getting close to dinner time and there was still no sign of Ashido. They were in the middle of discussing a search and rescue plan when the doors to the manor burst open. Wind surged through the opening and snow filled the foyer. Kaminari and Kirishima leaped up to help a heavily clothed Ashido shut the doors again against the wind.

The second the doors were secure, she dropped to the ground and let out a heavy sigh. “I can’t believe hell decided to break loose today without me knowing!”

Kaminari dropped down next to her and held her face in his hands. “What the hell Mina, you scared us half to death! Where were you? Are you okay?”

“I’ll make some tea!” Kirishima exclaimed, but Ashido grabbed his pant leg to keep him in place.

She pat Kaminari’s cheek and giggled. “You two are so cute. I’m fine! Were you worried about me?”

Kirishima joined them on the floor and frowned.”Of course we were. You were out in that all day and we had no idea where you were!”

“Hm? No, no, it’s just snowing that bad here! The weather is quite nice in the magic realm right now!”

What. Kirishima looked to Kaminari, whose face expressed the same level of shock and confusion. They looked to her and asked together, “Magic realm?!”

Ashido grinned, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “Oh right, I keep forgetting to mention that’s where I’ve been going. I was so late getting back today because I usually use a portal in the river, but that wasn’t possible in this weather. It took me a while to trek through the forest from the cave portal I found.”

“There’s another realm?” Kirishima asked, eyes wide and jaw agape.

Kaminari’s brows furrowed, less shocked and more offended. “Why is it this is the first time I’m hearing about a magic realm . What kind of friend are you to keep that a secret!”

Ashido shook her head. “Well where do you think magical beings live? It's not like we come from other kingdoms!”

“Never really thought about it,” Kirishima admitted.

Kaminari squinted at her. “Why the hell would anyone bother coming here if there's a magic realm?”

“Better for business.” Ashido got to her feet with a playful wink. “Although people have lots of reasons for coming to the human realm. There's just as much politics and whatnot there as there is here. Sometimes it's easier to escape to the human realm.”

She put her hands on her hips and huffed, “enough of that. I'm starving! What's for dinner?”

They spent the rest of the evening grilling Ashido about the magic realm. She complained that she kept a secret from them to avoid the endless questions, but she was too delighted to share for them to take her seriously. The world was so much bigger than Kirishima’s village, than his kingdom. Hopefully the magic realm held the clue to breaking his curse so he could explore all the wonders of the world.

Night fell and Kirishima struggled to fall asleep. His mind was alight with thoughts of the magic realm. It would be amazing to go there, especially with Bakugou. Ashido said humans were allowed, just very few knew how to get there. Bakugou would probably be excited at the idea of going to the source of monsters. Apparently monsters were bountiful to hunt in the magic realm.

He was just beginning to drift off when a loud bang startled him to wakefulness. It sounded like the front door slammed open. Did they not secure it enough against the winds? As he slowly dragged himself out of bed, a loud voice echoed through the manor.

“Who the hell are you?!” The loud crack of furniture being destroyed punctuated the words. “What are you doing in my mountain?!”

Kirishima raced out of his room, heart thumping in his ears. Whoever crashed into the manor was obviously angry, but never set off the alarms that came with people intending ill. Hopefully he could diffuse this easily enough. The foyer was pitch black and freezing with the wide open door. Kirishima stumbled down the stairs, mustering his most calming tone of voice.

“I’m sorry, let’s talk this out! It sounds like there’s a big misunderstanding going on! Let me get some light in here and we can discuss this!”

The man’s voice was gruff, but no longer at max volume. “Fine, I guess. You better have a damn good reason-“

Kirishima lit a lamp on the wall and even the low light took a moment for his eyes to adjust. They stared at each other, equal parts shocked. Standing in Kirishima’s foyer was a man, a man a lot like him. While he was covered to protect from the winter winds, there was still no mistaking the reflection of silver scales in place of skin. Around his eyes were a thick patch of lighter scales, almost like eyelashes. His horns were molten silver, shining brightly even in this low light.

How was this even possible?

The man’s mass of scales furrowed like brows and he snarled. “Oh hell no. There’s nothing to talk about now.”

“What, why-“

He charged, talons out and teeth bared. Kirishima dodged, but held his hands up in a sign of peace. “Listen I don’t know what’s going on-“

“You’re full of shit! This is my territory and you know it!” The silver man yelled, jabbing at Kirishima’s face.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”  Kirishima ducked and tried to get some distance between them, but the man stayed on him with fire in his eyes.

He swiped faster than Kirishima could dodge, but his talons just glanced against Kirishima’s scales. “Playing innocent isn’t going to get you anywhere!”

Trying to talk this out was not going to work. Kirishima sighed and brandished his talons. What was it with people bursting into his manor in the middle of the night looking for a fight? They went back and forth, neither having any effect on each other’s scales. This fight was going nowhere! What was this guy’s problem?

The smell of flowers surrounded them, and suddenly the man was pinned against the wall. He thrashed against his invisible bonds and Ashido made her way down the stairs. Kirishima took the opportunity to finally slam the front door closed. The chill in the foyer was undeniable.

Ashido got to the bottom on the stairs and gave the man a solid look over. “What’s your damage, dragon? I know you aren’t the most polite type, but it’s the middle of the night for goodness sake!”

Dragon ? Kirishima turned to stare at the man, jaw agape. But he looked just like Kirishima!

“Oh great! Now there’re fairies!” The man struggled even harder against her magic. “He’s the rude one here! This is my territory and he still parked his ass here!”

Kirishima crossed his arms and cocked his head at the man. “Um, sorry, but I really don’t know what you’re talking about. My family has lived here for several generations, they built this place.”

The man’s face dropped. “What.”

Ashido rolled her eyes and approached the dragon to jab a finger in his chest. “You dragons are the worst at keeping track of time! There’s no signs of your magic in these lands! It’s been at least a century since you were last here, and humans have the tendency to build things and take up residence.”

He was quickly losing his anger, and a hint of sheepishness pulled at his face. “Well- I don’t expect a fairy or humans to respect or detect dragon territories, but other dragons should!”

Ashido squinted. “What other dragons?”

“That asshole!” He yelled, jerking his head at Kirishima.

They turned to stare at Kirishima. Kirishima took a step back, but the front door stopped him. He shook his head, trying to sound confident. “Sorry for the confusion, but I’m just a human. A little cursed at the moment, but that’s hopefully getting fixed soon.”

The man flushed. “Well- You look like a dragon!”

Ashido brought a hand to her chin, stared at Kirishima pensively. “You do, don’t you?”

He furrowed his brows again. “A-and, besides! Someone went through the portal in my lair! No one but dragons are supposed to be able to use dragon portals!”

“Oops.” Ashido brought a hand to her mouth, eyes wide. “I thought it was strange how difficult it was to get that portal to work for me.”

The dragon growled at her, but Kirishima drew his attention with a placating laugh. “See, this is all just a misunderstanding. Mina was struggling to get back to this realm and used your portal without knowing better. And I’m just a human suffering from a curse! Neither of us knew this was your territory before. No reason to be mad!”

“Hold up- If you’re just a cursed human-“ There was a new fire in the man’s eyes, but not with anger. “You’re strong as hell for only being human! My claws did nothing against your scales! You’re just as strong as a dragon! Fairy let me down!”

“Don’t make any more of a ruckus!” She snapped her fingers and he dropped to the ground. “And my name is Mina!”

He completely ignored her and rushed over to Kirishima. He grabbed his hand in a firm grip. “I’m Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu! Your strength is impressive!”

That was a quick turn around. Kirishima returned his firm handshake and grinned. “Kirishima Eijirou. You're no joke yourself.” Now that he wasn't annoyed, Kirishima could appreciate their quick fight. “If Mina hadn't stepped in, I don't think I would have been able to get the upper hand.”

“I wouldn't have either! Your scales are just as good as any dragon’s! You're sure you're really just human?”

Kirishima winced through a smile and merely nodded. “Yeah. Definitely human.”

Tetsutetsu’s grin dropped. He grabbed Kirishima’s hand with both of his and gripped it tightly. “That’s touchy, sorry. You’re the most badass human I’ve ever met. Sorry, man.” He paused, then took a step back, horror stricken. “I’m so rude! It’s the middle of the night! I’ve insulted ya, crashed into your house, and been accusing you of shit you didn’t do! I’m sorry! I’ll get out of your hair!”

That would not do. Kirishima grabbed Tetsutetsu’s hand again, a more confident smile shining in his eyes. “Forget that, it’s crazy out there! You’re welcome to stay the night! Maybe we can have a real fight tomorrow?”

A confident fire shone back in Tetsutetsu’s eyes. “I’ll gladly accept your invitation! I haven’t had a good opponent in years!”

A soft cough from behind them drew their attention to a bemused Ashido. She shook her head and stretched her arms over her horns. “Great, now that we’re all friends, let’s go back to sleep. I’m exhausted. Do you have another room for him, Eijirou?”

Oh shoot. All of the good rooms were in use, minus his old room, but it was also a mess. There were the servant quarters rooms, but he could hardly as a guest to stay there! His panic must have been apparent on his face, because Ashido laughed and waved it off.

“He can use mine.” She winked and stuck her tongue out. “Denki couldn’t be bothered to get his ass out of bed to help, so he can wake up to me stealing his bed.”

Tetsutetsu bowed deeply. “Thank you very much, kind fairy! Mina, was it? Sorry I woke you up and was rude! I don’t like it when people use magic on me and I was already in a bad mood!”

She laughed and waved him off as well. “We’re all tired, it doesn’t bring the best out of anyone. Let’s start off on a new foot in the morning.”

“Yes! Let’s!” He pumped his fist in the air, way too energetic for the time of night.

Kirishima could not help but feel equally excited. It would be fun to fight with someone similar to himself. A new face would also be a good distraction from the building tension of Ashido’s struggling to figure out his curse.

He was not going to lose hope.

But it was getting difficult.

 

The snowstorm cleared in the early hours of the morning and Kirishima woke to the reflection of the sunrise on fresh snow. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It also made his stomach drop. There was so much snow. He had winter flowers in his garden, but not even they would survive under mounds of snow. Dammit.

Kirishima bundled up in as many layers as he could and crept outside as quietly as possible. He knew Kaminari was a deep sleeper, and only a giant ruckus like last night would wake Ashido, but he did not want to chance Tetsutetsu being a light sleeper. The morning chill instantly seeped through his layers and sent a shiver down his spine. A wall of snow awaited him behind the back door. He would be working up some heat soon.

He stretched with a yawn and cupped his hands. No shovel got through the snow faster than his own two hands and talons. He got to work making a proper path through the snow toward his garden. It was only a few feet from the manor before he had to take a quick break. This was going to take all morning.

“You’re an early riser, too!”

Kirishima looked up and had to cover his eyes from the way Tetsutetsu’s silver scales reflected the sunlight. He was brighter than the sparkling snow around them and Kirishima realized it was because Tetsutetsu was hardly wearing anything.

“Aren’t you cold?!” Kirishima yelled, jumping to his feet to offer his cloak.

Tetsutetsu laughed heartily with a shake of his head. “A little, but I saw you out my window and figured you might want some help! What a practical use of your curse, but that will take you all day!”

“So… You came out to help me with barely anything on?” Kirishima raised a skeptical brow. He did not follow that logic in the least.

“It’s less clothes for me to ruin!” Tetsutetsu dropped down to stretch out his legs, then popped up to stretch his arms high in the air. “And, it’s better than coming out here butt ass naked, ain’t it? Take a step back.”

“Naked? What-”

A blinding silver light emitted from Tetsutetsu and Kirishima scrambled backwards as Tetsutetsu’s glowing figure grew. It grew till it was the size of the manor. As Kirishima’s vision recovered from the abuse of the bright light, he slowly processed the sight before him.

It was a dragon.

A giant, silver dragon.

His heart lodged in his throat. Tetsutetsu said he was a dragon. Ashido said Tetsutetsu was a dragon. Kirishima knew Tetsutetsu was a dragon. Despite that, nothing could have prepared him for the overwhelming shock of seeing a dragon in his yard . Some stupid part of him thought that maybe the myths of dragons were false. Dragons were simply humans covered in scales with horns. He did not consider the possibility that Tetsutetsu had another form, that he was literally a dragon.

Your face is hilarious!

Tetsutetsu’s voice was nowhere to be heard. The voice was in Kirishima’s mind, much like the voices he heard when invaders entered his lands. His jaw dropped and he could only stare up at Tetsutetsu’s giant, toothy grin in shock.

Laughter echoed in his head and Tetsutetsu stretched his wings outward, showing off their impressive size and the way the sun streamed through the thin silver skin. ‘ Humans are so funny. I tell ya I’m a dragon and yer always shocked the first time you see me in my full form.

Kirishima found his voice to point at Tetsutetsu. “You didn’t give me any warning, asshole! Of course I’d be surprised!”

Tetsutetsu reared his head back, the gold around his eyes emphasizing how wide they were. ‘ You can hear me?

“Yes, I can hear you!” Kirishima pushed himself to his feet and glared up at him. “You’re in my damn head!”

That’s weird. Humans normally can’t just hear my kind in our full form. ’ He lowered his head to the ground and grinned an ever so menacing grin. ‘ You’re interesting, Kirishima Eijirou. Hop on. I’ll clear this snow in a blink.’

What a start to the day. Kirishima’s initial shock melted away to pure delight as he climbed on top of Tetsutetsu’s head. In an instant, he was high in the sky, sitting on top a dragon’s head. Bakugou was going to be so jealous when he heard about this. “Be careful about my garden over there! That’s why I’m clearing the snow!”

Roger that. Hang on .’ Laughter bounced between Kirishima’s ears again as Tetsutetsu gently flapped his wings. The snow blew away gradually with each gust of air till there were no signs of a snowstorm in the yard. Kirishima’s garden and the protective coverings he had secured before the storm were perfectly intact.

“Awesome!” Kirishima cheered. “Damn man, thank you so much! Now I can actually take care of my flowers!”

Tetsutetsu dropped his head to the ground once more so Kirishima could jump off. He settled in the yard and watched Kirishima as he went about pulling tarps off his plants. Bursts of colorful winter flowers greeted them from underneath. Kirishima sighed in relief. Thank goodness they survived the storm.

Damn, I’ve never seen so many flowers in the middle of winter! ’ Tetsutetsu moved his massive head closer to better appreciate the garden. ‘ I have a garden in the summer, but I’ve never been able to upkeep anything during the winter. What’s your secret?

Kirishima grinned, chest swelling with pride. “Well you see-”

The morning flew by without Kirishima noticing. It was surprisingly so easy to chat about gardening with the dragon in his yard. He finished his check up and joined Tetsutetsu, resting comfortably between his talons. With the sun shining on them and the heat Tetsutetsu’s large body radiated, it was quite comfortable. They continued to chat until Kaminari stumbled out of the house, blubbering incoherent sentences of shock. Ashido followed after him, clutching her sides as she shook with laughter.

Tetsutetsu shimmered bright silver to join them at human level again, butt naked and laughing. Kaminari shrieked and scrambled to cover Ashido’s eyes, who only fell over she was so far gone in her amusement. It was positively ridiculous. Kirishima could only weakly offer Tetsutetsu his cloak as laughter wracked through him as well.

At some point in the day, the invitation for Tetsutetsu to stay extended to an indefinite date.

The next day found them in the yard, talons speared and exchanging blows in an endless dance. Tetsutetsu’s fighting style was similar, yet different in a way that Kirishima quickly adjusted to and started adopting in his own movements. The way Tetsutetsu moved was more natural, a more fluid use of his attributes.

Several days of sparring and their fights lasted even longer as Kirishima’s slight disadvantages began to fade. Ashido and Kaminari joined in their fights to add some stakes, pairing up with each of them so they were not so evenly matched. Kirishima loved being able to fight with someone at his side, loved having someone he could defend in rough moments.

He could not wait to show off his honed skills with Bakugou.

He prayed for the day where he could fight with Bakugou at his side.

There was no word of Ashido’s investigations till another snow storm swept through the mountain and trapped them inside for the day. Over breakfast, she suddenly slammed her fists on the table and announced, “We’re getting to the bottom of things today!”

Kaminari hardly looked up from his breakfast while her outburst startled the others. He pointed his fork toward her, waving the piece of fruit at the end. “What’s so special about today compared to the rest of the week? You haven’t visited the magic realm since the last storm.”

She grinned proudly and jabbed her thumb into her chest. “I’ve been probing while we spar! I think I know what’s going on, but I need proof before I go saying anything!”

Tetsutetsu scrunched his nose and recoiled in his seat. “Probing? What fairy bullshit ya doing without us knowing?”

“Just magic analysis, nothing to worry your eyelashes over.” Ashido winked and turned to Kirishima. “You wouldn’t happen to have any family records, would you?”

Well, that was a strange request. Kirishima pursed his lips in thought. “If there’s anything, it’d be in the library.”

It was the perfect day for combing through the library. There was not much else for them to do, after all. Book by book they searched for any signs of official documents or family registers. Kaminari and Ashido dropped out several hours in to take a nap in the pillow fort. Kirishima could hardly blame them, his own eyes were starting to grow heavy from the mindless task. At least Tetsutetsu seemed to be enjoying himself getting distracted by human texts.

The snow started to calm some when Kirishima discovered a giant tome stuck between the backs of two bookcases. With Tetsutetsu’s help, they managed to wiggle it out without too much hassle. They exchanged hopeful grins. This looked important! Kirishima cracked it open and his breath caught in his throat. On the very first page was a stunning portrait of his family from when he was a baby. He had almost forgotten what his mother looked like.

“That’s ya?” Tetsutetsu asked, pointing at the red tufts of hair already thick and full on his baby head. “Cute. You look a lot like your mom.”

Kirishima laughed and turned the page. “Yeah, I think that haunted my dad after she passed. Think this could be what Mina is looking for?”

Tetsutetsu shrugged, curiously surveying the portraits on each page as Kirishima flipped through them. “She wasn't exactly clear about why she wanted it-”

On the very last page of the book was an old painting, faded through the years and browned on the edges. A man, a woman, and their son stood in a garden. The man towered over the woman, dressed impeccably with his silver hair slicked back. She was petite, but clearly pregnant in her soft summer gown. Her vibrant red hair was piled on her head in an intricate design. The boy looked more like his mother with a bright smile and red hair. In the background was a small fountain, a fountain that Kirishima knew quite well. The statue in the middle was intact, a dragon spouting water.

“I know where this is!” Kirishima gasped, just as Tetsutetsu jammed his finger on the man’s face.

“That's my dad!” He hollered, jaw agape.

Kirishima squinted at the painting, then looked back to Tetsutetsu. Without a doubt they had the same eyes, although the man’s were dead in comparison to Tetsutetsu’s fiery passion. The similarities ended after their silver hair. The man was devoid of scales, horns, or talons.  “But he looks human.”

“He never told me he was a lord as a human!”

“Ah! I was right!” Ashido popped up between them and snatched the book out of Kirishima’s hands. “Dunno if it’s a good thing or not, but everything finally makes sense!”

“Well nothing makes sense to me right now!” Kirishima gestured between Tetsutetsu and the painting. “How is he possibly a dragon when he looks nothing like Tetsutetsu?”

Ashido and Tetsutetsu exchanged a look. She shook her head, a small smile on her lips. “I always forget common knowledge isn't common for humans.”

Tetsutetsu laughed. “Let's get ‘em up to speed and then you gotta explain what magic mumjo you've figured out!”

They woke Kaminari up and settled in the pillow fort for story time. Between Tetsutetsu and Ashido bickering about what they considered to be common knowledge, and the actual information they shared, Kirishima thought he understood the important parts.

Tetsutetsu was a dragon halfling, born from a dragon parent and a human parent. Only halflings took on a draconic human appearance. Full blooded dragons only had their natural dragon form and a human form that required a substantial amount of magic.

It was really difficult for full blooded dragons to produce heirs. So, a lot of dragons came to the human realm to use humans to get children. It was the topic of debate, but the consensus between Tetsutetsu and Ashido was that in recent centuries halflings were more desirable than full blooded dragons. While there was still a faction of dragons obsessed with the purity of their bloodline, most dragons saw the benefits of halflings.

Halflings could be just as strong as full blooded dragons when in dragon form. They could naturally shift between dragon and human form without massive amounts of magic. Best part, in Tetsutetsu’s opinion, was that halflings retained dragon features in their human form. Full blooded dragons were almost vulnerable in their human form, without their thick scales and piercing claws.

Kirishima asked if the woman in the painting was Tetsutetsu’s mother. She was, probably, the human that gave birth to him, but Tetsutetsu had never met her. He was raised in the magic realm by his dragon mother and sometimes visited his father’s territory in the human realm. He had no idea his father had played the part of a human lord or that the manor even existed.

“So how come there's a human kid in the painting?” Kaminari asked, a question that had been plaguing Kirishima since the beginning of their explanations.

Tetsutetsu shrugged. “Sometimes a regular human comes out of a human/dragon coupling. They’re stronger than the average human and have way higher levels of magic, but other than that you would never know there’s dragon blood in them.”

“So, does that make this kid your brother?” Kaminari asked, brows raised skeptically.

“Huh, yeah. I guess so? Technically.”

That was when it hit Kirishima. This was his family register. These people were his ancestors. That meant- “Holy shit!” He hollered, snatching the book from Ashido to quickly flip through the pages. The signature Kirishima family red hair passed down from page to page till the most recent one. “Holy shit !”

Ashido snorted. “Well, Eijirou figured it out.”

Kaminari gasped and pointed at Tetsutetsu. “Shit, that makes you Kirishima’s, like, great-great-great-great- what? Uncle?”

The process of realization worked its way across Tetsutetsu’s face before he turned to Ashido, eyes wide and jaw agape. “How the hell did you figure that out?!”

Kirishima snapped the book shut, turning to Ashido with knitted brows. “Honestly, Mina, how did you even think to look for something like this? And what does it have to do with my curse?”

She giggled and flipped her hair playfully. “What can I say? I’m great at what I do.”

Deadpan stares answered her joke. Ashido huffed and crossed her arms, smile dropping as an air of seriousness surrounded her. “So, as I said, I don’t know if this is good or not, but I have the answers, finally.”

“I’ve been stumped about your curse, because of two factors. I could not figure out what the witch’s magic latched on to and I could not decipher the strange magic that mutated the original curse.

“The curse itself is simple, something witches use often to punish people with bad attitudes. It takes the ugly that’s hidden inside and turns it into a physical manifestation. There was nothing ugly hidden in you, so the curse had to drag out something else hidden. I could not figure out what that was.”

Ashido nodded to Tetsutetsu. “But then this idiot crashed in in the middle of the night and mistook you for a dragon. Honestly, it was the final puzzle piece. I just had to compare the magic in both of you and it confirmed that the strange magic in you was draconic. The witch’s magic latched onto the dragon blood hidden in your family lineage. It was a logical leap to think maybe Tetsutetsu’s family was involved since this is his territory.”

“Damn, you’re a genius,” Kaminari said, awestruck. Her already pink cheeks turned lilac in her flush.

“Woah, woah, hold up!” Tetsutetsu said, holding his hands up to call for a halt. “Kirishima gives off draconic magic? Does that mean he’s actually a dragon?!”

“No, no! The witch’s magic is still there! He’s still a cursed human, but I think the draconic magic is why your scales started spreading, Eijirou.” She turned to him and tried to smile reassuringly.

There was a lot to process and Kirishima felt a pit of dread in his stomach. He was speechless, in shock, but there was one question he had to voice. He cleared his throat, struggled for a moment to get the words out, “What does that mean for breaking my curse, Mina?”

All eyes were on Ashido as her smile wavered. She clasped her hands together and bowed her head. “I’m sorry, Eijirou! Mixing magics is unpredictable, completely and utterly unpredictable. I have no idea what’s going to happen when you break your curse.”

Kirishima knew so much more about his curse and himself now. His world was wider than he ever could have imagined. And yet.

And yet.

It was all for naught.

He was no closer to knowing what the future had in store for him.

It was terrifying.


 

Time passed much quicker than Kirishima could have imagined. Already, the height of winter had come to pass. Even in the mountains as they were, winters were long but mild, so far south in the kingdom. Snow still fell, but it was light and melted under the bright morning sun.

It was going on the second week of Tetsutetsu’s stay, almost two months since Kirishima last saw Bakugou. The ache of missing him wasn't as bad, but it was still there. Perhaps worse than the feeling of loss for Bakugou, was the giant dose of denial over his cursed state. His company was the perfect distraction for both emotions.

This particular morning, Kirishima and Tetsutetsu found themselves in the yard, Tetsutetsu in his dragon form. He enjoyed basking in the sun in his dragon form and Kirishima had way too much fun sitting on top of his head.

All of them had demanded he take them on a flying adventure, but he was worried about how they would fair in the winter skies. He promised he would take them flying once it warmed up a bit. Kirishima was amused how all of them seemed content to stay indefinitely in the manor till they had a reason to leave.

It was like that, Tetsutetsu in dragon form and Kirishima sprawled out on top of his head, that their visitors discovered them.

A strangled noise drew their attention from Kirishima’s gushing about Bakugou to the side of the house. A very pale Monoma was on the ground, his mouth opening and closing in silent words. Kendou stood behind him, wide eyed but considerably less terrified.

“E-Eijirou?” She asked, hesitantly stepping forward into the backyard.

I think she thinks I'm you ,’ Tetsutetsu’s voice said in his mind, full of laughter.

With Tetsutetsu’s head resting on the roof of the manor as it was, there was no way for those on the ground to notice Kirishima. That they would come to the conclusion that he turned into a dragon was hilarious. He snickered and replied quietly, “Let’s mess with them.”

Tetsutetsu’s laughter roared silently. He grinned a toothy grin and nodded his head at Kendou. She started to approach him, but Monoma reached out to hold her back.

“You don’t know if that’s actually Kirishima!” He dragged her back several steps. “It could have eaten him, that’s why we haven’t seen him in weeks.”

Aw, they’re worried about you !’

Kirishima instantly felt guilty. They were coming to check on him since he had not been to town since before the snowstorms started. He hopped to his feet and waved his hands over his head. “I’m sorry! We’re just messing with you! I’m here!”

Kendou sighed in relief, even from his perch Kirishima could see how tense she had been before that sigh. Her moment of relaxed relief ended as she placed her hands on her hips and glared up at him. “That was not funny, Eijirou!”

“I’m sorry, sorry!”

Tetsutetsu dropped his head to the ground so Kirishima could get off. The sudden movement startled the others, but they held their ground and tried not to look as terrified as they surely were. Kirishima could hardly blame them, after all this was a dragon in his yard.

“We briefly met your fairy friends when they came through town-but-” Monoma squinted up at Tetsutetsu, Kirishima dreaded what was about to come out of his mouth. “When did you get a pet dragon?”

Pet?! ’ Tetsutetsu started to shimmer silver, ready to give Monoma a piece of his mind.

But-

Hold up-

Kirishima whipped around to face him, but it was too late, Tetsutetsu was already shrinking down to their size. “Idiot! You didn’t bring any clothes out!”

He had nothing to spare Monoma and Kendou a shining, silver sight. The weather was nice enough he was not wearing a cloak and Tetsutetsu was already comfortable enough to not bother wearing clothes out when he was going to transform. What a great first impression.

“I’m not a damned pet!” He hollered, stomping across the yard to confront Monoma.

Both Monoma and Kendou were wide eyed with red on their cheeks. Kendou slowly brought her hand over Monoma’s eyes and unclasped her cloak. “Would you- ehm - like to cover up?” She asked ever so politely, holding it out to him. Her eyes did not leave Tetsutetsu’s figure for even a moment.

Tetsutetsu actually looked a bit flustered as he accepted her cloak and wrapped it around himself. He coughed awkwardly and shot Kirishima a smile. “I’ll, go, uh, get dressed. And then introduce me to your friends!”

“Might as well stay like that-” Monoma started to say and was cut off with a swift chop to the back of the head.

Kendou held him up by the back of his shirt and smiled sweetly. “It’ll be a pleasure to meet properly when you’re more comfortable!”

Just like that, the group in the manor added two more. Kendou had lots of work in the bakery, but Monoma honestly had too much free time. He shamelessly invited himself over any chance he got and it would have been unbearable if Tetsutetsu was not surprisingly good at handling him. Kendou came around sometimes in the evenings to drag him back to town, and spent her days off with them. She and Ashido really hit it off and often disappeared together.

They were a strange, mix matched group. It amazed Kirishima how easily Kendou and Monoma accepted how unnatural Ashido and Tetsutetsu looked. Even more amazing was the rest of the village shared their easy attitude when the group of them went into town. Kirishima thought his town accepted because it was him , but they seemed to truly not care about scales, horns, or any other type of starling features.

It was easier to believe Ashido’s claim that people simply accepted her appearance while traveling. It gave Kirishima hope for the bleakest futures that plagued his solitary moments of contemplation.

The two months mark hit. Kirishima was surrounded by friends. Never in his wildest dreams would he have pictured his dining room full of laughter with so many different kinds of people. Kaminari and Monoma were animatedly argument about different types of wine. Tetsutetsu sat at the edge of their conversation, completely lost, but trying to pretend he knew what was going on. Ashido and Kendou were giggling to each other about something they would never bother sharing.

Kirishima picked at the pastry Kendou brought for them as he watched his friends. It sucked, how he was surrounded by so many people that cared about him and yet he still felt like something was missing. Because, well, someone was missing. He could not help but think about what Bakugou would be doing in moments like these; how he would react to certain things people said or did. It sucked, feeling unsatisfied with his present company. He felt guilty for feeling down, but it was hard to turn off the emotion.

A loud slam startled everyone to silence. They all exchanged curious looks, expecting the noise to have come from one of them.

The source was in the doorway to the kitchen.

Kirishima’s heart swelled and a smile instantly filled his face. Finally! It had been so long since he had last seen that- that really nasty scowl.

“Who the fuck are all these people in my house?!”

Bakugou was back.

Chapter Text

It was amazing to be on the road again. He had gotten too soft; spoiled with a hot bath, plush bed, a giant kitchen to call his own, amazing vegetables, Kirishima… It did him no good as a knight to get too spoiled, so it was great to be on the road again. At least that was what he was desperately trying to convince himself.

Bakugou could despise Kirishima for how deeply he had changed. Hate was so much easier than the deep longing that clenched at his heart as he struggled to fall asleep, only Riot’s heavy breathing to keep him company. Despite the crushing emotions, Bakugou embraced them.

Without the overwhelming emotions that plagued him as he rode Riot in silence or tried to fall asleep, Bakugou would doubt the past few months ever happened. He was suddenly back on the road, back at his regular life with nothing but a temperamental horse to show for how his life was completely turned upside down. It felt like a waking dream he finally woke up from, Kirishima a figment of his imagination.

He knew that was not the case; but without Kirishima at his side like he had originally planned, Bakugou was struggling. The nights were cold, and no amount of fur or blankets he wrapped around himself compared to the living heater Bakugou had grown accustomed to. His meals were bland without fresh ingredients, even blander without the company of a certain idiot vocally enjoying his food. The silence of solitude Bakugou once relished in irked him more than the almost endless chatter he was so good at tuning out.

His journey north was relatively uneventful. He passed through towns for supplies and news without any trouble. Many people recognized him through his questions, gloves, and permanent glare. They expressed their joy he was going to fix the problem. They had been wondering when he would show up.

Even with a half year break, Bakugou’s name only continued to grow.

Good. It should.

Bakugou finally reached the mountain town where most of the attacks happened as winter snows began to fall. Word managed to travel faster than Bakugou himself and the townsfolk were eagerly awaiting his arrival. They were worried he was not going to beat the snow, for the mountain passes into town were easily blocked in the winter. What worried them even more was the chance the monster would attack again before he arrived.

No one had ever gotten a good look of the thing. It was larger than the average human, perhaps a bit larger than a bear. Reports agreed it was furred, but there was much debate on whether or not it could fly. In neighboring towns, people claimed to have seen it in the sky. This town–where most of the attacks occurred–had no such reports.

It started attacking several months back, but they were sporadic attacks on livestock that the towns blamed on wild animals. Sightings started, and then a few people went missing. That was when the real panic started and word got out to the rest of the kingdom. Leading up to Bakugou’s arrival, the townsfolk kept their livestock locked tight in their barns and kept vigilant watch at night. The beast attacked at least one of the towns every week, trying to get at livestock. The attacks suddenly stopped last week, so the villagers were on edge for what was to come next.

While Bakugou was glad no other villagers went missing before he could arrive, this whole mission would have been a lot easier if the beast came to him. He feared the frequency of attacks was the monster’s way of preparing for the winter and it would not resurface on its own till the season passed.

That would fucking suck.

Bakugou spent the following week investigating in the neighboring mountain towns and forests. Snow only continued to fall. No animals were ever left behind, and the barns attacked looked like they were torn apart by sharp claws. The thing was clearly strong and had some level of intelligence to only target solitary humans in the forest or animals. Unfortunately, there were no clues as to where it took its prey.

When no attack occurred during his investigative week and snow only continued to fall harder, he accepted the unfortunate fact he would be stuck in these mountains for a while. One of the kids in town ran messages down the mountain for spare change, so Bakugou sent him off with a letter for Kirishima.

Bakugou spent the whole night laboring over it. It was easy to write about his investigations and his growing suspicion the monster was nesting (something he would not share with the villagers). It was difficult to write his feelings. He considered not writing anything at all, but then he thought about Kirishima alone in the manor. Was Kirishima smiling any? Surely he was upset.

Bakugou wrote about his concern for Kirishima’s well being, then quickly crumpled the letter and started over again. He wrote about his own feelings of loss without Kirishima with him, then threw that out too. Finally, after several attempts to express himself and rewrites of the letter, he sprawled a quick ‘I miss you’ and ‘I love you.’ Bakugou shoved it in an envelope before he could change his mind.

The following day Bakugou set Riot up with one of the locals and set out to the mountains. If he wanted to get anywhere with this hunt in a timely fashion, it was time to go deep in the mountains. The townsfolk tried to persuade him to wait out the height of winter, but Bakugou did not want to wait around that long. There was only one shitty little town he wanted to stick around in and it sure as hell was not this one.

There was one thing Bakugou enjoyed more than fighting monsters, and that was a good mountain to climb. It was the best kind of workout and little put him at peace more than nature and a good hike.

Damned Kirishima had to ruin that too.

By the second day, the novelty of a good hike wore off with the bitter cold and deafening silence. Bakugou found himself imagining Kirishima’s voice, what he would say to fight the quiet. It was infuriating how easily Bakugou’s mind ruined the serenity of nature with the grating cackle of Kirishima’s laughter. It was not fair how much he missed him.

The deeper in the mountains he got, Bakugou started to notice the almost indetectable signs of an unnatural beast. There was an abundance of small animals, out and about when they should be burrowing and concerned of hungry predators. Bakugou suspected the large predators of the area cleared out with the arrival of the monster.

Deeper yet, Bakugou found the first blatant sign of the beast. A cow carcass was lodged in the branches of a tree, all meat stripped cleanly off. That confirmed a flying creature.

As he continued to hike, he passed more animal carcasses and even the small creatures were scarce. The monster had to live nearby.

Every cave and clearing turned up empty and snow only continued to fall harder. A snowstorm picked up one evening, the sharp winds cut through the trees without reprieve. Bakugou had not seen a cave since the day before and there were none in sight. He was just starting to grow concerned about getting through the night when through the trees, in the middle of a clearing, was a tiny cottage.

The hell? Bakugou stumbled through the open space, fighting the vicious winds with every step he took. He worried for a moment it was an oasis illusion, the water to a man in the desert. His hand touched solid wood and he sighed in relief. He would not be staving off frostbite tonight.

Without a second thought, Bakugou let himself in. Never in his wildest dreams would he have expected someone to be in this shitty cottage in the middle of nowhere. It was outside of the realms of possible thought to consider finding the prince of the damned kingdom in this shitty cottage in the middle of nowhere. And yet, that was who looked up from a book in shock, seated by the fireplace cozy as could be.

Bakugou had never met the youngest prince of the Todoroki family personally, but he had caught some glimpses of him while in the capitol. His half-white, half-red hair was undeniable. He also had heard plenty about him. He was wicked strong, expected to grow stronger than his father with his fire and ice magic. He was apparently really level headed and took on a lot of responsibilities not expected of the youngest prince. People suspected he would be bumped ahead of his older siblings to be heir to the throne.

So what the hell was he doing here, in the middle of fucking nowhere?

As Bakugou was about to vocalize his confusion, Todoroki jumped to his feet, sending a trail of ice across the floor. Bakugou cursed and tried to get his gloves off before the ice hit him, but the ice was faster and encased his entire body.

“I never took Lord Hakamata’s wild knight the type to heel and play the dog.”

Bakugou raised his lip and struggled against his frozen bonds. “The fuck you on, shitty half-and-half prince? I’m going to fucking kill you! It’s cold as shit; why did you freeze me if you know who I am!”

Todoroki’s brows furrowed the slightest bit. “Because you’re here to kill me?”

“Are you a fucking idiot? I came in here to get away from the snow. I’m going to kill you because you just froze me! The hell you even doing out here?”

“Ah so you’re not even aware of the role you’re playing.” Todoroki shook his head, almost in disappointment. “I regret to inform you, I will not be returning to the capitol with you.”

It was highly possible the prince was off his knocker. Why would he- Uraraka’s voice suddenly flitted into his mind, she chattered endlessly during their time together information gathering. Bakugou tuned it out just as he did Kirishima, but still managed to process some of it. She had mentioned something about the youngest prince disappearing and all the knights of the kingdom were tasked with finding him…

Bakugou snarled, struggling against the ice even harder. “I don’t give a fuck about you or your family problems! I’m here for a damn monster, not you!”

“Oh. My apologies for the misunderstanding, then.” Todoroki waved his left arm and heat surrounded Bakugou, melting the ice around him. “I’ve had a few close-”

The second Bakugou could move, he threw a punch. Todoroki was completely unsuspecting this time and Bakugou’s fist made a solid connection with Todoroki’s face. Satisfied, Bakugou pushed past him to make a beeline for the fireplace. The air around Todoroki was cold, his ice magic on the ready, but he realized the punch was the only attack Bakugou intended.

Confused and annoyed, Todoroki followed after Bakugou. “What was that for? And take your boots off, how rude are you?”

Bakugou helped himself to the armchair Todoroki had been sitting in upon his arrival and peeled off his soaking boots. “You froze me, so now we’re even.”

The glare directed toward Bakugou would have made any lesser man waver. It was the glare of a royal, someone who expected utmost respect from those who interacted with him. Bakugou looked up to meet that glare with a smug sneer.

“Don’t give me that look, half-and-half prince. Out here, on the run, you have no authority over me.”

Todoroki was clearly torn over this concept. His expression slowly smoothed into that of indifference again. “It does not hurt to have basic manners nonetheless.” He turned to his small kitchen and grabbed a kettle. “You may stay the night to avoid the storm. Would you like some tea to warm up?”

Boots propped up by the fire, Bakugou made quick work of stripping his damp clothes to dry as well. It was delightfully toasty in this small cottage despite the raging snowstorm outside. Bakugou grinned, relaxing back in the chair.

“Sure I'll have some tea.”

Todoroki placed the kettle in his hands, along with a cup. “The leaves are in the red pot.” With that he collected his fallen book and retreated to the bed in the corner. “Good night.”

“Hah?” Bakugou surged to his feet, gripping the kettle and mug in a deathly hold. “The fuck kind of host are you, shitty prince?”

Ever so calmly, he pulled the covers back and slid under them. He pulls them up to his chin and closed his eyes. “I'm not a host if I never invited you. Good night.”

“Haaah?!” Bakugou contemplated chucking the cup at Todoroki, but settled for hearing it creak under his grip. “What kind of shit spoiled prince logic is that? You fucking froze me-”

“I'm trying to sleep, Monster Slayer. I would appreciate if you were quiet, or I might have to ask you to leave regardless of the weather.”

Monster Slayer? Was that what they were calling him these days? Irregardless of the cool nickname, Bakugou was annoyed, but not about to jeopardize his shelter for the night. He snarled and went about making his own damn tea.

 

Morning came with no relief from the storm. Bakugou woke to Todoroki bustling in the kitchen, making some sort of porridge for breakfast. Or at least, he was attempting to. Bakugou stared at the forming lump in pot over the fire and groaned loudly. What was it with idiots living in the middle of nowhere not being able to cook?

“That's fucking disgusting. Drop the ladle before anyone gets hurt from eating that disgusting mess.”

Todoroki looked up, his brows pinched together ever so slightly. “Excuse me?”

Bakugou pushed himself to his feet and stretched out the kinks from sleeping in the chair. He scowled and snatched the ladle from Todoroki and pulled the pot off the fire. “I don't know what kind of fancy education you get in the castle, but clearly taking care of your damn self ain't part of it.”

Any responses Todoroki had were shut down with fierce glares as Bakugou got to work making a decent breakfast. Despite the abomination, the porridge was still salvageable with Bakugou’s expertise.

Soon enough they were at the small kitchen table enjoying a delicious breakfast. It was not nearly as good as Bakugou could do without an affronting base, but it was still a million times better than whatever Todoroki would have ended with.

“I'm surprised,” Todoroki commented, halfway through their silent meal. He did not seem like he was about to continue the train of thought, not till Bakugou shot him a confused glare. “I never imagined the Monster Slayer would be so good in the kitchen.”

There was that nickname again. Bakugou could hardly get annoyed by Todoroki’s insulting assumption while being called such a cool name. He grinned smugly and leaned back in his chair. “Well some of us have to take care of our own damn selves.”

Todoroki nodded sagely. “Indeed, I tend to forget common folk do not have servants to complete day to day tasks. I've truly been put at a disadvantage being raised with all my basic needs taken care of for me.”

Was he trying to brag about being a rich noble?  Bakugou glared at him, but Todoroki’s expression remained pensive as if it were truly a revelation to him. That almost pissed Bakugou off even more. How the hell had this idiot prince managed to survive on the run for this long?

Bakugou scoffed and shoveled the rest of his breakfast in his mouth. “As wonderful as this stay has been, I have a monster to track.”

“Can you in this weather?” Todoroki looked to the window, there was nothing to see except pure white.

Damn. He had a point. No matter how quickly Bakugou wanted to end this search, going out in this snowstorm was hardly going to help him. He sneered. “Offering to let me stay?”

Todoroki shrugged. “I haven't had company in a while. Even bad company is better than none.”

Okay, that was definitely a direct dig. “You’re hardly a delight either, half-and-half.”

“Stop calling me that, please.”

Bakugou grinned, glad to have found something to dig at Todoroki. “I could call you shitty prince instead, maybe more fitting than half-and-half now.”

His brows furrowed lightly. “I’m not a shitty prince.”

“You ditched your duty to your people and have been hiding the fuck out here.” Todoroki tried to speak up, but Bakugou cut him off as he continued. “I don’t give a shit what kind of reasons you had. There’s been a damned monster terrorizing the towns of this area and you’ve been sitting on your royal ass doing jack shit.”

The information was clearly news to him. Todoroki’s eyes grew wide and he shook his head. “How is that possible? How have I not seen any signs of it?”

Bakugou got to his feet with a shrug. “I don’t fucking know. You’re the one that’s been hiding near its territory. You tell me.”

Todoroki had no answer.

The rest of the day was spent in a heavy silence. Todoroki seemed pensive, just staring at the fireplace with a blank face. Bakugou could care less. He grabbed one of Todoroki’s limited books and settled in an armchair to read.

As evening grew closer, Bakugou broke their quiet. “What do you have to eat? I'm making dinner before you ruin any more food.”

Todoroki looked up in shock. They had hardly moved all day, and Bakugou’s sudden declaration of cooking was unexpected. “I have a deer from before the storm and vegetables.”

That got Bakugou’s attention. “Vegetables? Really?”

“I have a small greenhouse-”

“Hold up you can't cook, but you can garden?”

A light flush filled Todoroki’s cheeks and he looked away. “A… merchant helped set me up the greenhouse… and enchanted the plants…”

“A merchant.”

“Magic merchants from another kingdom. They didn't know who I was.”

Somehow Bakugou doubted that, but he kept it to himself. Instead he rather gleefully grinned. “Show me your vegetables, shitty prince.”

It was the best dinner Bakugou made for himself since he left the manor. From Todoroki’s expression, it was probably his best meal since he ran away. Good, Bakugou had more to lord over him.

They were finishing their meal when Todoroki spoke up. “Can you tell me about the monster you're hunting?”

Bakugou squinted at him, trying to figure out what the hell was going on behind that blank facade. Todoroki showed no signs of breaking under Bakugou’s glare, so he sighed. “Why do you want to know, shitty prince?”

“You're right, I shouldn't have been ignorant of my people’s plight when I've been so near. I'd like to know what my ignorance has wrought.”

Damn, what the hell. Bakugou really did not understand this strange prince. He shrugged and leaned back in his chair. If Mr. Sheltered wanted to feel guilty, well it was hardly an inconvenience for Bakugou. Perhaps talking out the beast’s path of destruction would help him think of something new to find it.

Throughout the tale, Todoroki remained impassive. His brows twitched the slightest bit at the mention of missing townsfolk, but other than that he gave away nothing.

Midway through his explanation of tracking the beast, Bakugou slammed his fists on the table. “Fucking shit!” Todoroki stared at him quizzically. “You caught a deer. I strayed far as shit from the monster’s territory if you caught a fucking deer . No wonder you had no idea it existed. Fuck!”

“Ah, that's right, you said animals were scarce.”

Bakugou scrambled out of his seat to rummage through his rucksack. Travel journal in hand, he made quick work of clearing the table and spread out his makeshift map. While he was no cartographer, Bakugou prided himself in some basic map building. It was a useful skill when tracking monsters.

He recounted his surroundings that lead him to the cottage best he could and sketched them out lightly. Todoroki leaned in to point at a clearing Bakugou passed the other day.

“Ah. I've noticed there's no game in this area anymore. I only caught my deer because I went further west.”

Bakugou looked up, suddenly seeing Todoroki in a completely new light. “How much of the area do you know?”

“A fair amount. I used to hike a lot to pass the time, but then it started to get too cold.”

“Tell me everything you know in as much detail as possible.” Bakugou grabbed some fresh loose parchment and spread it out. “Maybe you’re not such a shitty prince after all.”

 

There was no respite from the snow as dawn arrived the next day. Bakugou was equipped with the knowledge to find the damn beast, but it would be reckless to the point of stupidity to try to traverse the mountains in the heavy snow. So in the cottage Bakugou remained.

He was bored beyond belief, because Todoroki’s book selection was awful. There were only so many pushups and situps a guy could do before his mind needed something else. Unfortunately, the only thing in the cottage to do besides cooking was talking to Todoroki. Damn Kirishima for making him grow accustomed to company.

“Why are you even out here anyways?” Bakugou asked, tossing Todoroki’s book to the floor without a care.

Todoroki stared at his discarded book disdainfully before calming replying, “My father wants my heart.”

He said it as if it were a normal reason that plenty of people ran away for. It took a solid moment for Bakugou to fully process the words because the delivery threw him off so much. Finally he scrunched his brows together and said, “Is that some sort of weird royal bullshit metaphor or-?”

“No?” Todoroki frowned. “Why would I say something like that and not be literal?”

Usually, Bakugou did not care about other’s life stories. It was a waste of his time to sit around and listen to someone ramble on about themself. This was a peculiar case where his curiosity outweighed anything else. He propped his head in his hand and waved Todoroki on with the other. “Explain.”

It was a story that began before either of them existed. Before Endeavor was king, he was the second strongest knight in the kingdom. He and All Might were the champions of the land, but Endeavor was unsatisfied. He wanted to be the strongest. That dream seemed impossible with All Might the goal to surpass. To the public, it looked like Endeavor shifted his focus from being the strongest to raising the strongest heir when he married a noblewoman proficient in ice magic.

Endeavor assumed the throne and led the unification of the kingdom after the chaos that had consumed it after the royal family disappeared. It was during that time Todoroki Shouto was born. He was everything Endeavor wanted out of his marriage–an heir with the perfect balance of magic proficiency in both fire and ice. From Todoroki’s earliest memories, tutors and instructors surrounded him to groom him to be the perfect heir.

All went according to Endeavor’s plans until Todoroki’s mother broke. Her hatred for Endeavor led to her lashing out at Todoroki, trying to erase his father out of him. She was whisked away to a countryside manor to bring her peace. Todoroki’s heart was scarred far deeper than his face.

He refused to use the fire his mother hated so deeply.

For years Todoroki struggled against the endless pressure to use his fire magic again. For years, the tension in the royal family was palpable in the palace. Everyone, including Todoroki, assumed Endeavor’s anger stemmed from his star child not rising to his expectations. Todoroki wished that had been the case.

It was the truth that led to Todoroki going on the run.

A palace tournament was the catalyst. Bakugou remembered hearing about the tournament, and had been severely pissed off he was not allowed to participate since he was not a knight of the capitol. Todoroki had won, but only because he unleashed his fire magic. The knight against him in the final match challenged his decision to only use his ice magic. Somehow, the knight managed to change Todoroki’s decision and values. He would no longer keep denying a part of himself.

Endeavor was more than pleased, because Todoroki had to be at full strength for his plan to work.

A month after the tournament and with Todoroki practicing his fire magic, he discovered his true reason for existence. It was late, later than Todoroki intended to finish his practice. A voice carried through the halls that did not belong, especially at these hours. He found his way to a small room hardly ever used, inside was his father and a very large mirror. They spoke of Endeavor’s plans unaware of their eavesdropper.

Endeavor had never given up on personally surpassing All Might. Not once had he thought of raising a strong line of descendents to carry the Todoroki name to the future. All he cared about was his single mission in life: to be the strongest in the land. The witch in the mirror had promised him a spell years ago that would help him finally achieve that goal. It was a dark spell, one that required the heart of an offspring destined to be stronger than his parents.

With Todoroki once more embracing his fire magic, he would soon be strong enough for Endeavor to use for his treacherous spell. Soon Endeavor would reach a level of strength unsurpassable even by those chosen by One for All. That was, if he had Todoroki’s heart.

There was not a shred of hesitation that night. Todoroki left to his room, as quiet and calm as he had been before his entire world turned upside-down. He packed his bags, stole some food from the kitchen and left in the dead of night. He dared not risk taking his horse, should the stablehands wake and learn of his departure. By foot he left using underground tunnels few knew up and began his escape.

“And so, I found myself here and have been here since,” Todoroki concluded, hands folded in his lap with an impassive expression.

Bakugou’s mind reeled. It was difficult to fathom the king would be doing something so nefarious, and yet was easy to accept at the same time. Something had always seemed off about him in Bakugou’s opinion. He slouched in his chair, honestly a bit exhausted from such a long story. “Couldn’t you have just said your dad wants to kill you to use your heart for a spell to make him stronger?”

Todoroki stared at him blankly, then looked to his folded hands. “Ah, I suppose a short answer is suffice as well. I figured since we have nowhere to be, the whole picture was best.”

“No fucking shit.” Bakugou ran a hand through his hair, a tumultuous amount of reactions rolled through him. He finally settled on disbelief. “Why the fuck did you run away instead of just fighting his ass?”

Clearly this thought never occurred to Todoroki, from the way his eyes blew wide. “Fight him? He’s the king , Monster Slayer. Who would take my word over his? If anything, that could have given him a public excuse to rid of me to get a hold of my heart.”

“Oh, shit, true.” Bakugou glared at the fire, trying to think of how he would have reacted in such a situation. Direct probably would have resulted in a situation as Todoroki said, not good. Loathe as he was to admit it, Bakugou could not deny that Todoroki’s decision to run away was probably the smartest given the situation. However, his decision to remain hidden and not plan some sort of return was stupid. “You should be amassing allies to go back and kick his ass.”

Todoroki glared at him. “Allies from where? From the knights of this kingdom? Why should they believe me and go against their king? From neighboring kingdoms? And potentially put the citizens of this kingdom through a war they do not deserve? No, I can’t turn to anyone, Monster Slayer. It’s better I stay away from it all and hope my father does not harm anyone else to achieve his asinine goals.”

His defeatist attitude pissed Bakugou off. He sneered and pushed himself to his feet. “ I believe you, shitty prince.” Bakugou went to the greenhouse to collect ingredient for their dinner. He left Todoroki to his thoughts with his parting words, “Am I not a knight of these lands?”

 

The snow finally stopped the next morning. Bakugou made a quick breakfast and readied his possessions to resume his hunt. He pointedly ignored how Todoroki also packed a bag. When he also bundled himself up for the cold and followed Bakugou outside, there was no more ignoring. Bakugou turned on him with a fierce sneer. “The fuck do you think you’re doing, shitty prince?”

Todoroki narrowed his eyes and gripped his bag straps tightly. “I’m going to fight this monster with you.”

“Like hell you are!” Bakugou tried to snatch Todoroki’s bag away from him, but Todoroki held tight.

“You can’t force me to stay here. I want to make up for my ignorance.”

Bakugou let go and tugged a glove off. “I can make you stay, if I beat your ass.”

Sudden heat melted the snow around them and Todoroki’s eyes burned. “That would be more trouble than it’s worth, and you know it.”

Unfortunately, Bakugou knew the truth in his words. He snarled, shoving his glove back on to flick Todoroki off. “Stay the fuck out of my way and don’t steal my kill.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Monster Slayer.”

Even with the expansion of his map, and Todoroki’s knowledge of the mountain forests, Bakugou was no closer to finding the monster’s lair than he was before the snowstorm hit. If anything, he was even further behind now that the icy winds blew away any tracks he could have hoped to find. They had several days of camping until they found sign of the beast’s trail again.

Bakugou was loathe to admit it, but the nights felt shorter with company. He was not about to cuddle up with Todoroki, but his magic always kept them warm in their sleep. They mostly traveled in silence, neither much to talk about themselves. When they did talk, Bakugou found himself sharing about Kirishima.

It started as an accidental passing comment. As they settled to camp for the night, Bakugou discovered a small bush desperately hanging onto its winter flowers. They were bright red, a beautiful contrast to the whitened scenery around them. The thought hardly had a moment to form as Bakugou picked a flower and pulled out his journal. Kirishima would like it.

“You press flowers?” Todoroki inquired, looking over their fire at Bakugou carefully securing the flower in the journal pages.

Fuck. Bakugou fought the rising heat in his cheeks and resisted the urge to shove his journal back in his bag. “No. I’m just bringing this back with me for someone that would appreciate it.”

“Your mother?”

“No, shitty prince!” Bakugou scowled. “It’s for… my… His name is Eijirou.”

Todoroki tilted his head, his bangs falling into his eyes. “I suppose even the Monster Slayer would have friends.”

“Not my friend,” Bakugou snapped.

That seemed to only confuse Todoroki more. They sat in silence for a few moments until he hesitantly asked, “Love-”

“None of your business, shitty prince! Fuck off!”

And yet, somehow, Todoroki managed to get Bakugou talking about Kirishima. It was easy to talk about him, perhaps because he missed him more than he would like to admit. The words fell from his mouth without abandon. Kirishima’s bright smile, his awful hair, his stupidly optimistic personality; it was too easy to share.

One evening over their fire, Todoroki quietly admitted, “I’d quite like to meet this Eijirou. He sounds like a kind person.”

Bakugou almost choked on his soup, ready to snap a scathing remark. However, no matter how averse he felt to the idea, he knew how Kirishima would feel. He sneered into his bowl and mumbled, “Get your ass out of this shitty mountain and come visit us. I know the fucker would be delighted to meet you too.”

Todoroki nodded, the smallest hint of a smile at his lips. “That would be nice.”

Finally, after days of scouring the mountainside, they found a solid trail for the beast. Bakugou’s heart soared with anticipation. His thirst for a fight was immeasurable. It had been too long. Their limited conversations shifted to strategies. Bakugou refused to let Todoroki steal his glory, but he was not so idiotic to ignore the strategic benefits of having someone fight by his side.

He had already mentally prepared himself for a fighting companion on this trip, just now it was someone wholly unexpected.

It was the smell that found them first. The sun shone brightly the past few days, and while it did little to lessen the cold, it clearly managed to heat up the rotting carcasses littering the entrance to the beast’s cave. They could smell the pungent smell from a mile off.

“Well that solves the case of the missing villagers,” Bakugou commented as they peered at the cave entrance from a pile of rocks. Todoroki shot him a stern glare, but he only shrugged. “Well it’s true.”

The entire entrance to the cave was covered with animal and human remains. They were strewn about, half eaten and left to rot in the sun. A loud growl rumbled out of the depths of the cave, silencing any further conversation. The entrance shook and a large figure emerged from the shadows. It was massive.

It held the resemblance to a bear in its stature, furred body, and powerful jaws. It walked on its hind legs, for it had wings instead of forelegs. They were massive feathered wings with deadly looking talons. It sat itself next to the nearest carcass and started eating from it.

Bakugou pulled his gloves off with a gleeful grin. They were damned lucky they did not need to venture into the den to find the damn thing. He started to leave their hiding spot, but Todoroki grabbed his cloak and pulled him back down.

“Shouldn’t we make some sort of plan instead of running in head first? It’s quite big.”

“Fuck it is. I’ve fought bigger on my own. There’s no plan besides kill the-”

A chorus of screeching brought them to silence, even so far to cover their ears against the affronting sound. Out of the shadows came five winged bears, roughly the size of large dogs. Bakugou cursed under his breath as they descended on the rotting mess before them. The litter was already born.

Todoroki tugged on Bakugou’s cloak again, a hint of a smirk in his eyes. “You’re glad I came with you now, aren’t you?”

Even Bakugou would have been pressed in a six-to-one fight. He scowled and shoved Todoroki away with his elbow. “Shut the fuck up and don’t be useless. Let’s go.”


“Is it really necessary to drag all of them to town?” Todoroki sighed, wiping sweat from his brow as they took a quick breather.

After a long and grueling fight, there was little time for rest. Bakugou wanted to get back home as quickly as possible. He and Todoroki patched each other up best they could and camped for the night. The following day, Bakugou enlisted Todoroki’s help to drag the fallen monsters down the mountain.

“I’ve done this enough, shitty prince.” Bakugou chugged his water, leaning against a tree heavily. One of the damn monster offspring managed to get its jaw around his arm, it was surely broken. Their rudimentary splint was fine for now, but he really hoped the village doctor was adept at his job. “People want proof their suffering is over. There’s plenty of shitstain knights out there that will pretend to take care of a problem, reap the benefits, and get the shit out of dodge before things go to hell again.”

Todoroki took the flask from him to refill it in the creek. Bakugou was much too tired to protest against the assistance. “Is the word of the Monster Slayer not enough in cases like this?”

Bakugou snorted. “Are you shitting me? Half the time, the more famous a knight is, the bigger a liar he is. It takes big feats to get your name circulating and not everyone is as capable as me.”

“Ah. I see.” Todoroki passed him the now full flask with a frown. “However, is it necessary to take all of them to be trusted?”

A feral grin broke through Bakugou’s exhausted. He pushed himself upright and grabbed his ropes to resume the trek. “That’s for bragging.”

The continued down the mountain at a painfully slow speed. After an hour in silence, Todoroki asked, “Is it not making you a liar knight if you brag about killing all of them?”

Bakugou almost stumbled, he turned to face Todoroki so quickly. He raised his lip, brows knit tightly together. “Who the fuck said I was going to lie? I’m not some idiot that needs false laurels. I get credit for my own fucking actions. I’m telling them I had help from a traveling fighter that didn’t want to stick around.”

“Ah, my misunderstanding, then.” Todoroki shrugged, brushing off Bakugou’s anger as if it were nothing. Asshole.

With a heavy groan, Bakugou dropped his ropes. Todoroki looked to him in question and Bakugou stretched his good arm. “Might as well stop here. You’re gonna risk running into a villager if we keep going.”

Todoroki looked at their surroundings. “Are you sure?”

“We’ve been following a hunter’s trail since midday. The trek down is a lot quicker when you know where you’re going.” Bakugou adjusted his splint tenderly and turned to his companion. “I can just leave the fuckers here, the villagers will have no problem finding them now. Thanks.”

The way Todoroki’s eyes widened comically, he clearly was not expecting any kind of gratitude. What an asshole. Bakugou was capable of being a decent person. He quickly recovered from the shock, and nodded. “It’s only right I assisted as much as I could since I let the beast run loose for so long.”

Bakugou shrugged, not about to argue that point. “Well guess that’s that. Good luck with whatever you do, shitty prince.” He turned on his heels, about to continue his trek into town, when a sharp tug on his cloak brought him to a halt.

Todoroki was wide eyed again, looking bewildered at his own actions. He coughed and awkwardly let go of Bakugou. “I- That’s it? I was expecting you to raise a fuss and try to force me to go out of hiding.”

How the hell did Todoroki see him? Although, to be fair, he probably would have tried something like that a few months ago… Bakugou sneered. “No matter how stupid I think you’re being, I can’t make your decisions for you. Nothing good would come from that.” He learned that the hard way.

When Todoroki offered no form of response, Bakugou shoved him roughly. “Shitty prince, you can’t keep hiding. If the king is fucked up enough to want to sacrifice his own son, who knows what else he can do. You’re a complete idiot if you think it’s you against the world. There’s people out there that will want to help you.” He thought of a certain knights trio and his lip raised even higher. “There’s knights out there that will help you if they fucking know the truth. You’re never as alone as you think you are.”

Todoroki continued to stare at him blankly. With a frustrated groan, Bakugou turned back down the path. He was done with this shit. A tug to his cloak did not stop him this time, but Todoroki’s hesitant voice followed after him.

“Will you be there on my side when the time arises, Bakugou?”

The answer was obvious. Bakugou would always be on the side of the right and just. He was a knight , after all.

Bakugou did not look back, simply raised his good arm in farewell. “There’s a small village with a secluded manor on the southern border near Jadane. Eijirou is an idiot that gets too excited over visitors. I’m sure you’d be welcome anytime.”

“You didn’t answer my-!”

“See you around, Todoroki.”

The prince grew silent and did not try to call after Bakugou again. They would see each other again eventually. Bakugou would have to prepare for what the meeting would mean.


The journey back home was downright miserable. Riot was a piece of shit after the rancher spoiled him rotten the entire time Bakugou was gone. Thankfully the village doctor had a bit of healing magic in her and was able to speed up the healing process on his arm, but he was still stuck in a sling and it made riding an asshole horse all the more difficult.

Everyone in the village tried to convince him to stay for a bit, let himself heal before going back on the road with winter still strong. They were more than willing to treat him the hero he was. Even if he did not have Kirishima to get back to, Bakugou still would have denied the invitation. He hated sitting around healing . He was perfectly capable of healing while he traveled.

For his entire journey, Bakugou had refused to let himself ponder too deeply on what Kirishima was up to. He would never admit it to anyone, but he was worried about Kirishima being by himself. Sure, he had his villagers and the knights trio if they were around, but what about his evenings alone in that big manor? That damn building was too big for any one person and memories of being alone far outweighed the amount of time Bakugou was there.

Heading back home, it was impossible not to endlessly worry about Kirishima. Was he eating enough? Was he getting enough sleep? Were the villagers at least keeping him occupied? Was he lonely at night? Hopefully the winter was mild enough he was not stuck alone in a snowstorm. Was he worried about Bakugou? He probably was, the big worry wart.

It was late when Bakugou finally reached Kirishima’s lands. He consider s riding through town, but the thought of dealing with the townsfolk before he saw Kirishima was undesirable at best. Bakugou went around the town and hoped Kirishima was already back at home.

The windows were lit within and even from outside, Bakugou could hear chatter and laughter. Kirishima had company, that was good, right? Bakugou brought Riot to the stables only to find another occupant already there. The sandy horse snorted at them, but quickly resumed munching on his hay.

Judging by the half empty cart positioned in the back corner of the stable, this visitor was unlikely an evening guest. Okay, so Kirishima has someone staying with him while Bakugou was gone. That was good, right? It kept him from getting too lonely in this giant damn manor.

Bakugou got Riot set up with some hay and water, trying to keep a positive attitude. It was good Kirishima had not been alone. It was good he was having fun with company.

He cracked the second he opened the back door into the kitchen. His kitchen, his beautiful kitchen was a goddamn mess. It was hardly dirty by any means of the word, but things were out of place. Clearly someone besides Kirishima had been cooking in here. That pissed him off. He slammed the door shut and went in search of the damn party going on.

To the dining room he ventured, where it truly was a fucking party. The baker’s daughter and the asshole were the only people Bakugou recognized. Some idiot was talking with the asshole. There was a girl with pink skin and horns. There was a guy who looked all too much like Kirishima, just in a different color palette. How was that even possible.

And there was Kirishima. He looked upset in the split second before his entire face lit up in the brightest smile Bakugou had seen in awhile. It did little to calm his anger.

“Who the fuck are all these people in my house?”

A cacophony of voices hit him in response.

“Ahh do you wanna fight?!”

“Well technically this is Kirishima’s house he's welcome to have whomever he wants over.”

“Wow, what a delightful first impression!”

Really , Kirishima? This is the guy you're head over heels for?”

“Is that really the first thing you say to Eijirou?”

Bakugou wanted to strangle all of them. Especially the assholes berating him, having never met him. He was ready to explode when Kirishima broke out of his stupor and leapt across the room into Bakugou.

He had a split second of anticipation and managed to keep them both upright as Kirishima collided into him. His horns almost knocked Bakugou in the jaw, but he managed to dodge them just barely. Kirishima wrapped his arms around Bakugou as tight as could be, somehow managing to be conscious of his sling, and nuzzled his face against Bakugou’s neck.

“I missed you so much!” He whined.

This was it. Bakugou fought ferocious beasts as a living, but this would be his end. Five pairs of eyes stared at them– him– expectantly as Kirishima obliviously hugged him. These assholes were waiting for his response, waiting to judge him for whatever came out of his mouth.   

His most immediate desire was to hug Kirishima back and confess how much he missed him as well, but like hell he was going to do that with an audience. The damn audience pissed him off.

Bakugou pulled away, wanted to suggest they go up to their room to reunite, but his mouth decided to shoot him in the foot instead. “Seems like you did pretty fine without me.”

What. No. He was not supposed to actually voice that dark thought. Kirishima stared at him with wide eyes, and honestly Bakugou’s were just as big. Fuck. He fucked up.

“I didn't mean that,” he grumbled, pulling away from Kirishima’s outstretched arms. “I'm fucking disgusting I'm going to go take a bath.”

As he escaped the room, a soft giggle followed him out. “He's not very good with his words, is he?”

The pink freak was the first on his hit list.

Unsurprisingly, Kirishima joined him in the bathroom. His hesitant voice echoed in the room, “Katsuki? Are you okay? How's your arm?”

Bakugou grumbled and sunk deeper under the water till only his eyes peeked out. The sling was only a precaution to force him to keep it easy, so he was free in the bath. He watched Kirishima push back the divider into the room and smile softly when his gaze fell on Bakugou.

“Hey you.” He was still dressed and sat at the edge of the pool to dangle his feet in the water. “Sorry for the overwhelming welcome home.”

Kirishima was always so damn infuriating. Of course he would apologize first. Of course he would apologize for something he should not apologize for. Bakugou blew angry bubbles before sitting straight, crossing his arms and glaring at Kirishima.

“No, I'm fucking sorry. I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't fair of me.” He blew at his wet bangs dangling in his eyes. “I was worried about you being alone, so I’m glad you had some friends to keep you company.”

There was a look in Kirishima’s eyes that did not sit well with Bakugou. He was about to do something stupid-

Water splashed Bakugou square in the face, followed by a soggy Kirishima hug. “You were worried about me! And you actually told me!” He laughed and grabbed Bakugou’s face, eyes shining with his bright smile. “I love you.”

Why was he in love with a complete idiot?

Bakugou rolled his eyes and pulled at Kirishima’s drenched clothes. “Was it necessary to hop in fully clothed to say that?”

“Absolutely!” Kirishima laughed and planted a quick kiss on Bakugou’s lips. He pulled away before Bakugou could catch him for more, clambering out of the pool with a playful laugh. “But I already took a bath! I'll get you some dinner! Want to eat in our room?”

The thought of having to interact with everyone else sounded horrific. “I'd like that.”

“I'll tell them I don't want to share you tonight.” Kirishima winked. “And that's not a lie.”

He popped behind the divider, laughing as heat filled Bakugou’s cheeks. Kirishima’s teasing was something Bakugou could live without, but he had missed it nonetheless. He sunk down in the warm waters again, unable to fight a smile.

It was so nice to be back, even if there were too many fools in the manor.

His smile fell. This was not how their reunion was supposed to go. Bakugou felt like a complete and utter asshole. He was supposed to be happy being home again, no matter what Kirishima had been up to. If anything, this situation was the best case scenario. Bakugou had not wanted Kirishima lonely and sad. Surrounded by a bunch of people was exactly the kind of setting Kirishima needed.

And yet, his deepest insecurities had to surface the second he stepped in the manor. Just two months, just two months he was gone and Kirishima somehow managed to befriend so many flat-out strangers. It would have been one thing if Bakugou walked in to see the knights trio and the village fools, they were people he knew and had somewhat gotten over his idiotic insecurities with. But these people, these strangers were a different story.

It was hard not to think: what if one these people was better for Kirishima? Maybe one of the two unnatural looking ones made Kirishima feel better about his cursed state. Or what if that blond man accepted Kirishima for who he was and was less of an asshole than Bakugou. Sure, Kirishima was clearly ecstatic to have Bakugou back, but what if he realized his feelings had changed now that he could compare Bakugou with these people.

Dammit!

Bakugou slapped the water as he stood, more angry at himself than anything or anyone else. It was not fair for him to think like this, for him or for Kirishima. He knew it was stupid and knew he should not let it bother him. Insecure thoughts were weak thoughts, and Bakugou refused to accept he was emotionally weak.

He forced himself out of the bath and his stewing thoughts. Kirishima wanted to spend time together, just the two of them, now was not the time to waste on things he could not change.

Voices still filtered from the dining room as he made his way through the halls. Those assholes were way too much at home here. As much as Bakugou wanted to kick them out, he would have more luck in a day or two. For now, he avoided the main hall and snuck upstairs from the small service stairs.

Kirishima was already in their room. He had cleared off the table for Bakugou to eat at and had a nice fire glowing in the fireplace. He whipped around at the sound of the door opening and smiled so wide, Bakugou felt even guiltier for entertaining his insecure thoughts. That smile wavered a tad, his gaze locked on Bakugou’s arm.

“Aren’t you hurt? Where’s your sling?”

Bakugou fought a grin and shrugged. “It’s just a bit tender, that’s all. I’m fine.”

That answer clearly was not acceptable for Kirishima, because he pulled the chair out for Bakugou and proceeded to pour water for him. “That sounds like bullshit to me, Katsuki. If it was bad enough you needed a sling, clearly it’s not just tender .”

“It is, swear.” Bakugou squeezed said arm to prove his point. There was only the slightest pang of discomfort, more of the pain of a bruise than a broken bone. “The doctor that healed me up told me to wear the sling so I didn’t overexert myself while traveling back.”

Kirishima narrowed his eyes, but accepted his words with a small shake of his head. “Fine, fine. Eat up! And I want to hear all about your adventure!”

It was all too easy to get lost in his story. Kirishima was eager to know every little detail and Bakugou was more than happy to share. He kept forgetting to eat, only with Kirishima’s gentle nudges did he take breaks from recounting his journey.

At some point he managed to finish eating and they found themselves in bed, limbs tangled together as Kirishima shared about his past couple of months. He explained Ashido and Kaminari, how they were the knight trio’s friends and traveled selling their magic wares and knowledge. The term magic merchants jogged something in Bakugou’s memory, but he could not put his finger on it. The quest for figuring out Kirishima’s curse sounded stressful, and Bakugou wished he could have been there to help. Tetsutetsu was a twist Bakugou was not expecting.

Who knew dragons still existed.

Bakugou tried his best to be attentive as Kirishima started rambling about inconsequential stories. It was hard to give his full attention as Kirishima recounted things he did with these new friends so fondly. As he spoke, Bakugou traced his scales lazily.

Midway through perhaps his third story, Kirishima burst into giggles and nuzzled their noses together. “Neito’s face was hilarious! You would have loved it!”

Ah. Bakugou looked up from the patch of scales he had been tracing as realization dawned on him. Kirishima kept typing all of these stories into how Bakugou would have reacted had he been there. In all these fun moments he recounted, he had been thinking about Bakugou. Warmth spread through Bakugou and his chest felt tight.

“Fucking hell,” he mumbled, feeling all the fool.

Kirishima started to ask what he meant, but Bakugou cut him off with a rough kiss. He tangled his fingers in Kirishima’s hair, held him tight as he ran his tongue along those sharp teeth. Kirishima lightly bit him, sucked on his tongue while his talons lightly pricked Bakugou’s back. He was clearly struggling to restrain himself. It was too hot under the covers like this.

Bakugou grabbed Kirishima’s horn as leverage and pushed him on his back to straddle him. Kirishima’s breath was heavy, his eyes had a slight haze as he looked up at Bakugou with a mix of anticipation and confusion. Bakugou’s chest ached . He slid his hand from Kirishima’s horn to trace the black scales along his cheek. Kirishima’s closed his eyes into the touch Bakugou could not feel. Dammit.

“I love you so much,” he said, his voice just barely above a gruff whisper. Kirishima opened his eyes, grinned brightly and was about to respond, but Bakugou shook his head. He had more to say. With a shaky, deep breath, he steadied himself. “I- I think I’ve been holding myself back some without realizing it. I’ve been unconsciously waiting for you to realize you made a mistake, that there’s someone you can love more than me, someone better for you.”

Kirishima squirmed, surely ready to argue and pull Bakugou into a tight hug, but Bakugou tugged at his hair. “Fucking shut up, I’m not done .” He had to say this, had to make himself clear. “It’s not fair to you for me to be thinking shit like that. It’s why I was an asshole earlier and I’m sorry, really.”

“You already apolo-”

“Yeah and I’m saying it again! It was a real shitty thing of me to say and a part of me meant it.” Bakugou glared at his gloves, mustered his energy out of the hatred he felt for them in that moment. “But I’m telling you this because I’m not going to let those thoughts fester anymore. I love you more than I could have ever imagined possible. I know you love me, and you’re not going to leave me, but even if you did and I’m not the one to break your curse, it wouldn’t matter. I love you and always will.”

His entire body burned by the end of his confession, and Kirishima’s awestruck expression only made it worse. While half of him wanted to escape this whole situation, Bakugou stayed put and caressed Kirishima’s cheek. “What, now you have nothing to say?”

Kirishima surged up, throwing his arms around Bakugou hugging him tight. He nuzzled his face into Bakugou’s neck, and Bakugou could feel his scales against the bare skin. His heart clenched. “I don’t even know what to say! I love you so much, Katsuki! So much!”

Bakugou snorted and rested his cheek against Kirishima’s hair. He slid his hand through the red locks, enjoying at least the soft strands against his arm. His chest was tight, so unbearably tight with his overwhelming love and crushing defeat that he could not properly hold Kirishima in his arms. Damn his curse, damn his past self for being an utter fool.

The heat that covered his body was quite uncomfortable. Bakugou started to pry Kirishima off of him so he could get out of his lap, when a burning sensation covered his hands. He yelped, more from surprise than pain, and scrambled away from Kirishima, lest he get burned as well. There was no fire, but his hands felt as if they were alight. Bakugou tugged off a glove to inspect underneath, and the pain dissipated instantly. He quickly rid of the other to relieve himself of the burning before he could process what it meant.

He stared at his bare hands, then up at at wide eyed Kirishima. Kirishima reached out to grab Bakugou’s hand and he jerked it away with a sharp, “Don’t do that idiot!”

Kirishima ignored him and snatched his hand between his own. Nothing happened. They stared at their joint hands in stunned silence. Bakugou raised his free hand, tried to remember what it felt like to conjure his magic on his own. Small puffs of fire crackled in his palm and then he willed them to stop.

“Holy-”

“Katsuki!” Kirishima yelled, throwing himself on him, sending them both down on the bed. He covered Bakugou’s face in kisses, only hindered by his giant smile. “It’s broken! You broke your curse!“

Bakugou’s head spun as his hands found their way to Kirishima’s hair. It was soft, he knew it was soft, but now it was soft between his fingers. For years he had felt nothing against his hands except for the worn leather of his gloves and the heat of his explosions. Kirishima’s hair was almost overwhelming to his senses.

He grabbed Kirishima’s face, and his heart flipped at the feel of those black scales adorning his skin. With precise detail he could feel every ridge and bump of each individual scale. He traced the faint scar over Kirishima’s eye he kept forgetting to ask about but loved nonetheless. All of it, he could feel all of it . Bakugou stared up at Kirishima, the softest of smiles adorning his face. “You broke it, Eijirou.”

The high pitched sound Kirishima made in the back of his throat would have been annoying coming from anyone else. “I love you so much!” He whined, covering Bakugou with kisses again.

Laughter bubbled up and Bakugou was soon shaking with a care-free, joyous sensation he had never felt before. This felt like a dream. He flipped them over so he could run his hands over Kirishima with more ease. His laughter was infectious as Kirishima soon was squirming and laughing underneath him.

The explorative touching got to be too much, as Kirishima shoved at Bakugou and they fell to their sides, staring at each other with matching smiles. Bakugou twined his fingers in Kirishima’s hair instead, relishing at the sensation. Kirishima laughed and kissed him gently. “Can I make a confession?”

Bakugou raised a brow, unsure how he felt about that opening. “Sure?”

Kirishima’s smile turned sheepish and he averted his gaze. “You’re not the only one that’s had stupid, insecure thoughts, y’know. I’ve been having the same doubts as you at times, even though I didn’t want to. I was afraid…” He bit his lip and met Bakugou’s eyes again. “I was afraid that you loved me, but were never going to break your curse over me. I kept trying to tell myself that touch isn’t a quantifier of love, but I was still afraid I wasn’t enough…”

The lingering guilt of his own insecurities lifted at Kirishima’s words. Bakugou snorted, gently kissed the tip of Kirishima’s nose. “Well looks like we’re a pair of proper idiots.”

Kirishima laughed. “A pair of idiots in love, even.”

Nothing could be better in this moment. Bakugou’s heart ached for all the right reasons as he twirled strands of soft hair he could feel around his fingers. Nothing could ruin this moment, nothing could go better-

A soft red light enveloped Kirishima. They stared at each other with wide eyes before sitting upright. Kirishima’s jaw hang open agape, words frozen on his tongue as the glow started to grow stronger.

Bakugou could only stare in silence. Were they really going to break both of their curses in a night? That seemed impossible, but it was the only explanation for a shining Kirishima. He started to find words, started to express his disbelief, when Kirishima’s face twisted in pain.

That was not something of happily ever afters.

Kirishima clutched his head and groaned loudly. “Katsuki, is this supposed to hurt so much?”

The light started to grow brighter and Kirishima’s pupils turned to slits. Bakugou’s breath caught in his throat. This was wrong.

Just as Kirishima let out a pained yowl, the door to their bedroom burst open. Ashido and Tetsutetsu rushed in, out of breath in a panic.

“Outside, outside, outside!” Tetsutetsu yelled, rushing over to grab Kirishima.

Bakugou snatched him away from Tetsutetsu’s outstretched arms. “The fuck do you think you’re-”

Kirishima screamed again and was almost impossible to see through the bright red light.

“No time!” Ashido yelled, dashing to the window and throwing it open. “Bakugou, I know we don’t know each other yet, but you have to trust me and jump!”

There was little room to argue when he was so confused. He scooped Kirishima up and joined Ashido at the window. She linked their arms and jumped from the window with him. A flowery breeze surrounded them and then landed on the ground softly. A loud thud sounded next to them where Tetsutetsu landed.

“What’s going-”

Kirishima’s light started to grow in size and his scream sounded unearthly. Tetsutetsu snatched Kirishima from him and raced further from the house. Ashido held Bakugou back as Tetsutetsu left the shining form behind to join them again.

“The hell are you doing, he needs help!”

Tetsutetsu helped Ashido hold him back as he thrashed against him. Ashido’s voice was shrill in her panic, “We can’t do anything! I never thought this would be the result! I’m so sorry!”

The light continued to grow in size and Bakugou lost his fight as his heart dropped. His vision went white. As the light subsided and the spots in his vision clear, Bakugou would have dropped to his knees if not for the tight hold Tetsutetsu and Ashido had on him.

Where Tetsutetsu had left Kirishima, now lay a large figure. It was half the size of the manor, and even in the weak moonlight, its red scales were vibrant. Bakugou’s heart thumped in his ears. The dragon slowly raised his head from the ground and looked at them, red eyes blown wide.

Kirishima’s voice rang in his head.

Katsuki? What’s happened to me ?’

Chapter Text

For all his optimism, Kirishima was never one to think too deeply about the future. It was a dangerous exercise that tempted the defeated mindset that almost consumed Kirishima in the past. Before Bakugou, it had been easy to fend off stray thoughts of an indefinite future. It was easy to quell a wandering mind when there was not even a glimmer of a chance of finding ‘true love,’ making it truly impossible to imagine the future.

When Bakugou came crashing into his manor, the void of his future suddenly gained a bit of definition. He could imagine something, but he dared not think about what . There were moments when he caught a glance of that developing image of his future. Just glimpses here and there were all he entertained.

Fighting side by side with Bakugou in a fierce battle. Riding on horseback next to Bakugou in a vast, open field. Laughing with Bakugou, in some far off tavern in some unknown city.

He never saw himself in those moments of entertaining his mind. Kirishima always saw out of his imagination’s eye, took in the scenery and Bakugou as if he were truly there.

Perhaps it was his way of avoiding the real reason thinking about the future was dangerous.

Before Bakugou, all Kirishima wanted in his life was to be human again.

Somewhere along the way, that single desire shifted. At some point, Kirishima realized the only thing he wanted out of his life was to remain by Bakugou’s side.

He dared not think past that simple fact for his future. Now, even that was dangerous territory to think about.

It was hard to be optimistic about the present, let alone the future.

The sunlight was harsh as it came over the horizon, reflecting off the remains of snow in the trees and the silver of Tetsutetsu. The chill of the night disappeared almost instantly as Kirishima’s scales absorbed the light, and resulting warmth. If he had been asleep, the rising sun would have surely roused him. However, the night had held no such escape from reality like sleep.

Kirishima vaguely remembered panicking and the comforting feeling of Ashido’s magic around him, along with an apology from her. When Kirishima awoke with a start in the middle of the night–with Tetsutetsu’s larger form draped over him, pinning him to the ground with his long neck–it was easy to piece together she had magicked him unconscious. Tetsutetsu’s weight was some comfort through the night, helping his mind from wandering too much. Now, with dawn breaking, it felt suffocating.

Kirishima wanted to disappear.

With morning would come talking. They had to figure out what the hell happened, so they had to talk about it. The last thing Kirishima wanted to do was sit in the yard as everyone theorized about his condition. In reality, what was there to really talk about? His curse had completely fucked up and now he was a dragon.

He was a dragon.

Fuck, he was a dragon.

“Quit thinking so loud at the crack of dawn.”

Kirishima started at the sound of Bakugou’s voice. Movement against his chest brought his attention to the light weight against him. Had Bakugou been there all night? Kirishima’s body felt foreign to him, only Tetsutetsu’s heavy presence had registered in his senses.

As Kirishima moved to confirm where Bakugou was, he noticed similar weight against his side.  Bakugou was nestled against Kirishima’s chest, protected from the world by Kirishima’s foreleg and neck around him. He had a thick blanket from the manor on his lap, and despite his thin shirt, he seemed comfortable pressed against Kirishima’s scales.

Against Kirishima’s side, underneath his splayed wing–wing! That was his wing!–were Ashido and Kaminari. They were snuggled together under another blanket from inside, still fast asleep. A glance to his other side and he noticed Kendou and Monoma nestled similarly together against Tetsutetsu.

Shit. Everyone was out here. There was no escaping this awful conversation first thing in the morning. The desire to disappear had never been stronger. He was a dragon. A dragon. All hopes and plans for his future were slain like the monster he became.

“Dumbass, I said stop being so loud.”

A dull thud hit Kirishima’s chest, drawing his attention back to Bakugou. Kirishima narrowed his eyes, his mild panic turning to annoyance. That was easy for Bakugou to say! His curse broke last night! Kirishima’s only got worse!

Why did he have to fall in love with an utter asshole?

“Eijirou, I hear everything you're thinking. I'm being literal here when I say quit thinking so loud.”

Oh. Well that was awkward. Could everyone hear his thoughts? He figured he would be the same as Tetsutetsu, only being able to communicate mentally with other dragon kind. It was going to be difficult to get out of talking to everyone if they could all hear his every thought. How did Tetsutetsu do it?

Bakugou stood, stretching his arms over his head with a small groan. “You know, we’d probably be able to figure out the answer to some of those questions if we talked about it. Because there’s plenty to talk about, idiot. Your life isn’t over.”

Get the hell out of my head .’ Kirishima scowled, quite the frightening expression on a dragon, but Bakugou hardly reacted.

“I told you to quit thinking so loud for your sake. I’m not doing anything, you’re the one projecting your thoughts everywhere.”

Not like I want to be asshole! I'm confused and scared and my life is ruined.’ Kirishima squirmed underneath Tetsutetsu in an attempt to get out and escape. He did not want to be talking to Bakugou of all people about this while he was still trying to accept the fact he was a dragon . He loved the idiot, but he was too harsh with his words.

Bakugou sneered and crossed his arms. “I'm not harsh! I'm just saying the fucking truth, hair for brains. Your life isn't over and you're completely overreacting.”

Kirishima’s movement jostled everyone awake in a chain reaction. Ashido and Kaminari rolled out from under his wing is a sleepy daze. Tetsutetsu grunted and pushed down against Kirishima, holding him even more in place. Kendou and Monoma groggily started to rouse at Tetsutetsu shifting.

This was the worst.

Tetsutetsu let me go!

The larger dragon groaned deep in his throat and lazily opened an eye. ‘ Where are you going to go if I do?’

Anywhere. Nowhere. Away from Bakugou and his piercing stare and mind reading. ‘ For a walk.

Tetsutetsu snorted as Bakugou scowled. ‘ He's not mind reading. You're projecting everything, not just what you want us to hear.

Oh well that’s just fan-fucking-tastic That’s just one more thing out of my control. ’ Everything was going to shit. Everything was already shit. Kirishima dropped his head to the ground with a heavy sigh. This was what he got for hoping to have a normal life. He thought that finally– finally –he was going to break his curse and get to do something with his life. Of course that had been too much to even wish for.

“Cut it out with that doomsday bullshit thinking.” Bakugou stomped over to stand next to Kirishima’s eye, arms crossed and brows furrowed. “You can turn into a dragon now, so fucking what? Does that really change anything?”

It changed everything, and yet nothing at all. Perhaps that was the worst part. He did not want to think about anything at the moment. Kirishima squirmed underneath Tetsutetsu again. ‘ Let me go.’

Tetsutetsu seemed to ponder over the request, his gaze lazily falling from Kirishima to Ashido and Kaminari standing a bit of ways away, the former watching attentively. He sighed heavily and pulled his neck off of Kirishima.

Kirishima popped to his feet the instant the weight was gone. He stumbled in his haste, and in the unfamiliarity of his four-legged body. Bakugou had to scramble out of the way as he barreled forward. Kirishima was so annoyed with him, he hardly felt guilty for giving him a scare.

“I heard that you damn lizard!” Bakugou hollered after him. “Quit freaking out and get back- FUCK.”

A quick glance back showed Bakugou rubbing his head, glaring at a pissed off Ashido. Kirishima would have to thank her later. He just could not deal with Bakugou’s attitude at the moment. He continued to stumble through the woods, deeper into the mountains. His form was thankfully smaller than Tetsutetsu’s and he managed to squeeze through the trees without toppling any of them in his clumsy escape. He did, however, destroy a few treetops with his flailing wings. They flapped about in his hurry and he did not care to get them under control.

Kirishima paid no mind to his surroundings, just kept running until his lungs burned and his sleep deprived body wanted to collapse. He found himself higher in the mountains than he or the villagers ever ventured. It was rocky and treacherous, a terrain that would have been dangerous for a human form.

He lost track of time, fading in and out of sleep, blissfully too exhausted to think. The rush of wings pulled him back to reality. Kirishima looked to the skies, not surprised to see Tetsutetsu flying his way. He groaned and buried his face in a pile of rocks.

Tetsutetsu landed in a gust of wind, but Kirishima refused to pull his head out from the rocks. He knew this was something they had to talk about, but that would not stop him from being reluctant. The touch of a hand on his flank made him jump.

Ready to snap at Tetsutetsu for bringing Bakugou along, he jerked his head up to meet a softly smiling Ashido. The tension in his body instantly melted away.

“Oh come on man, do you really think I would have brought Bakugou when you made it very clear you didn't want his brand of support?” Tetsutetsu was already in his human form, arms crossed and brows raised in a slight smirk.

Ashido shook her head with a light laugh. “Although, we’re not going to say much different than him. Just, a bit gentler.”

Spare me the pep talk. I'm not in the mood .’ Kirishima rested his head on his foreleg with a heavy sigh.

Tetsutetsu snorted as he flopped down next to Kirishima’s head. “Nah, no pep talk from us for now. We're here to help you make sense of this-” He gestured to Kirishima’s giant red form. “-and help you plan a bit for the present.”

As Kirishima tensed again, Ashido pat his brow and slid down next to Tetsutetsu. “Don't worry, nothing too big. We get it you don't want to think too hard about what you're doing next.”

He relaxed slightly and raised a scaled brow at them. ‘ Okay, I guess. I already have an idea why this happened though. My curse fucked up, right? '

Tetsutetsu relayed the question to Ashido, who shook her head. “Sorta, not really. We already figured out that the curse latched on to your draconic heritage and brought that out of hiding. What I didn't know was how the mixture of the witch’s magic and your awakened draconic magic would react to the curse breaking.”

Kirishima resisted rolling his eyes. ‘ Isn't it obvious what the answer is now. I don't get why it matters.

“Quit being pissy and let her finish!” Tetsutetsu scolded, smacking Kirishima’s snout.

Ashido grinned and said playfully, “I don't know what you said, but it seems like Bakugou really brings a different side out of you. Is his bad attitude contagious?”

Kirishima looked away, and would have been blushing had he been in a human form. She took his reaction with a soft giggle and continued.

“So when you guys were getting all lovey dovey last night and breaking curses left and right, there was a lot of magical energy bouncing around. As soon as I felt the magic of Bakugou’s curse breaking I started paying attention to you guys.”

Tetsutetsu cut in with a snicker. “You were magically eavesdropping.”

Ashido punched his arm, not even deigning him with a response. “Anyways, what I'm saying is I know exactly what happened. Draconic magic has slowly been building up in you, and when we suspect your father died, the witch’s curse got a little weaker. That's why your scales started spreading, because draconic magic was overpowering the curse.”

She ran her hand along his jaw as she spoke, coaxing Kirishima’s eyes closed as he relaxed into her touch. “It isn’t the curse that’s been changing; it’s you. When the witch’s spell broke, it was the last barrier holding back all the draconic magic that's built up through all these years. You're not a cursed human anymore, Eijirou. You're a full-fledged dragon halfling.”

He knew that was what she was leading up to, and yet it still came as a surprise. Kirishima sighed and kept his eyes shut, letting his mind mull over the fact. He was no longer human. How could he ever become a knight now that he was a dragon ? Would Bakugou still love him now that he was truly a monster?

“Okay, first off I take offense to being called a monster, because we're not. ” Tetsutetsu was suddenly standing at Kirishima’s face, pulling his eyelid open so he could glare at him. “Secondly, we explained all this to the others before we came to find you. Bakugou explicitly told us to tell you that, and I quote, you're full of shit if you think he cares you're not fully human.”

Ashido jumped to her feet to hug his snout. “Eijirou! Don't go thinking that you're a monster. You're still you! Just a slightly more magical you than before. No one is going to think of you any differently.” She paused and pursed her lips. “Okay, no, Bakugou definitely is already thinking of you as stronger than before, but that's a positive difference!”

That was just like Bakugou. Guilt crashed through Kirishima as he thought of his partner. They were finally reunited again and all Bakugou wanted to do was help, but Kirishima had rather forcefully pushed him away. He wanted to apologize, and yet even still did not want to face him. Bakugou’s abrasive honesty was too much when he had access to Kirishima’s every thought.

“He’s not mad at you, just super worried,” Tetsutetsu reassured with a smile. “But I think he gets why you wanted to get away from him. He also told us to tell you he's sorry for trying to push you to accept everything already.”

Kirishima snorted softly and shook his head. ‘ I'd love to learn how to stop this mind reading problem. Actually, even better, to go back to a human form.

Tetsutetsu laughed and pat his brow. “Filtering your thoughts is going to take some practice. But going back is the easy part! You just have to want to, and you do!”

Well, that sounded like a load of shit. Kirishima narrowed his eyes. ‘ I've been wanting to go back since last night. Nothing's happened.’

That seemed to stump Tetsutetsu, as he turned to Ashido and shared what Kirishima said. She hummed, tapping her lips in thought.

“Well, it's possible that Eijirou’s body doesn't want to turn back to human till he's used to his dragon form.” Ashido met Kirishima’s wary gaze with a bright smile. “Maybe if you learn how to control everything dragon first, then you can control shifting.”

Well how the hell am I supposed to do that? ’ Kirishima rolled his eyes, his small snort whipping Ashido’s hair around her face.

Tetsutetsu grinned wolfishly. “You can call me teacher.”


 

Bakugou was in a shit mood. Two weeks, Kirishima had been hiding away in the mountains for two weeks. He could understand wanting to be away from the village to learn how to be a dragon. He could understand learning how to function in a new body could take a while. What he could not comprehend was Kirishima’s adamant refusal to see Bakugou.

Okay, sure his thoughts were unfiltered for Bakugou to hear, but that was hardly a problem in Bakugou’s opinion. He always wondered what was going on under that shitty hair, so it was great to argue against what Kirishima was actually thinking.

According to Ashido, that was exactly why Kirishima did not want to see him. Bakugou thought that was spineless as hell and told her to tell Kirishima he was chicken shit.

He had a feeling she did not relay that message.

Despite how annoyed he was with Kirishima, the biggest contribution to his bad mood was how much he missed the infuriating idiot. His months away were not nearly as bad as it was now. When he was traveling, hunting the monster, he was doing things and easily distracted himself from thoughts of Kirishima. In the manor, with nothing to do, it was impossible not to think about Kirishima.

Especially after being reunited with him for hardly a night before they were separated again.

It was frustrating as hell.

Distractions became even more far and few between when Ashido and Kaminari left. An acquaintance of their apparently required their magical expertise, so they trekked up the mountain to say their goodbyes to Kirishima and departed. While Bakugou wanted to say good riddance, he had appreciated Ashido playing messenger for dragon training camp progress.

He found himself in the village a lot, helping out with odd jobs here and there. The villagers attitude toward him was a drastic change from before he left. Bakugou had a feeling some of them suspected he would not come back. He quickly found out that Kendou and the fool had blabbed about Bakugou breaking Kirishima’s curse. They took the news of Kirishima being a dragon halfling surprisingly well.

They actually agreed with Bakugou’s stance that nothing had really changed. So what if Kirishima was a dragon halfling? He was free from the witch’s magic, free to live his life as a halfling. Most of the children were ecstatic for Kirishima to come down from the mountains and take them for a ride in the sky.

Bakugou was looking forward to Kirishima coming down even more , so he could smack it into his idiotic head that this was just the beginning of his life.

It was not the end.

As the end of the second week approached, Bakugou entertained the idea of going up the damn mountain himself. It was complete bullshit Kirishima was still hiding from him. He resisted. Bakugou was trying to be a better person for Kirishima, and that included not deciding what was best for the other on his own. No matter how right Bakugou knew he was.

Patience paid off one late afternoon as Bakugou worked in Kirishima’s garden. The sound of giant wings had him looking to the sky long before he caught sight of a bright red figure. All the annoyance and frustration Bakugou had been festering melted away at the sight of his idiotic dragon. His grin was impossible to fight. Kirishima was a far cry from the awkward, stumbling mass of limbs of two weeks ago. Now he moved like he belonged in his body, his wings gracefully arching in the sky as he made to land in the yard.

Tetsutetsu slid off his back with a cheerful wave. “Aren't I great teacher? He makes a great dragon now!”

Bakugou smirked at Kirishima, who refused to look his way. “Definitely better than the bumbling idiot I last saw.”

Oh shut up! You try suddenly becoming a dragon!’ Kirishima snapped back, his voice loud and clear in Bakugou’s mind, without the wandering scatter of thoughts like last time.

It seemed dragon training camp had paid off. Bakugou snorted and crossed his arms. “Yeah, yeah, I'll give it a try and let you know. Now get down here so I can fucking kiss you, ya damn lizard.”

Tetsutetsu made a strangled noise and covered his flushing face. “So brazenly manly!”

While Kirishima could not blush, Bakugou felt a wave of emotion through their strange mental link. Embarrassment, fondness, and… shame? Kirishima looked away again, his head hanging limply in defeat.

Well I want too, but…

Tetsutetsu recovered from his second hand embarrassment with a gasp. “Oh right! Bakugou, man, I've trained him best I can but he just can't turn back to human yet! I thought you might have better luck than me with that!”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes. “Why the fuck can't he turn back?”

Now it was Tetsutetsu’s turn to look away. The air around them was tense; they were clearly hiding something. Bakugou ignored Tetsutetsu to stomp up to Kirishima and grab his lip, the easiest thing to give a hard tug.

Kirishima made a strange growling yelp in surprise and looked to Bakugou incredulously. ‘ What the hell?!

“Quit it with the woe is me and tell me what the fuck the problem is.”

His eyes widened in a rush of panic Bakugou felt before words replaced the feeling. ‘ How are you still reading my mind?! Tetsutetsu said I'm filtering perfectly!

“You are!” Tetsutetsu exclaimed, staring at Bakugou in awe. “I didn't hear anything I wasn't supposed to!”

Why were all of Kirishima’s friends as idiotic as he was? Bakugou sneered and tugged at Kirishima’s lip again. “I don't have read minds to know what's going on in an idiot’s brain, dumbasses. Now tell me, how do you change back?”

They were silent again for a moment, but a small growl from Bakugou got them talking. Tetsutetsu twiddled his thumbs nervously as he spoke. “Shifting is supposed to be as natural as breathing for changelings. It's simply a matter of wanting to and it just happens.”

Kirishima shook free of Bakugou’s grasp to look at him pleadingly. ‘ And of course I want to! But I haven't been able to change even once! Mina thought maybe I had to get used to being a dragon first, but I’m used to it already! I still can't shift!

“Okay,” Bakugou said with a slight shrug. He grabbed hold of a spike on Kirishima’s neck to hoist himself onto Kirishima’s back. “Let's fly some and tell me about dragon camp.”

Kirishima whipped his head around to stare at Bakugou with wide eyes. ‘ Okay? Just okay? I can't go back to human, Katsuki! That's your reaction?!

Again, Bakugou shrugged. “What's there to react to? There's no reason to get upset. Silver Idiot here says it's natural to change, so it'll happen eventually. I bet you're just over thinking it.”

“Such a simple response!” Tetsutetsu exclaimed, despite the insult in his words, his tone sounded in awe.

Bakugou flashed a sneer at him. “It's not simple, it's fucking obvious!” He kicked Kirishima with his heels and ordered him to take flight.

Kirishima remained obnoxiously grounded. ‘ Why do we have to talk while I’m flying?

A frustrated growl tore through Bakugou as he resisted setting a small explosion on Kirishima’s neck. “Because you’ve been avoiding me for two weeks, so you gotta do what I want.”

Guilt washed over him through in place of a response. At least Kirishima felt bad about it. A heavy sigh and the opening of his wings rocked Bakugou and he quickly found a more secure spot to sit on Kirishima.

Hold on tight. My take offs are still a little rough.

“If you drop me I'm going to kill you,” Bakugou threatened, his voice getting drowned out by the rush of wings.

He gripped Kirishima as tight as possible, suddenly very thankful for the muscles he had retrained riding Riot. His legs kept him seated much more than his grip on the spike in front of him.

Soon enough they were soaring through the skies. Bakugou watched the ground below them, mesmerized. This was awesome . Never in his wildest dreams would he have ever imagined being able to fly. Kirishima was idiot for being upset about this.

Feels like you're having fun !’ Kirishima sounded delighted, a far cry from the mopey attitude on the ground.

Bakugou laughed freely, the wind sweeping away the uncharacteristic carefree sound. “So you can feel my emotions too, huh?”

He belatedly realized his voice was lost to the wind, but Kirishima’s startled look over his shoulder meant he was still understood.

Too?! You can feel my emotions? You- why didn't you say something sooner!’

Bakugou shrugged. All things considered he brought up pretty damn soon. Whatever, he wasn't going to argue semantics. “I didn't feel like talking with an audience. So how come we can feel each other’s emotions? And Lightning Idiot clued me in that I'm the only one that can hear you besides Silver Idiot. What's up with that?”

A mental heat of embarrassment warmed Bakugou  as Kirishima shook his head. ‘ Don't freak out, okay?

Bakugou snorted. “You've been doing that plenty for both of us. Tell me.”

Well, we’re kinda sorta bonded.

He smacked Kirishima’s neck with a roll of his eyes. “Yeah no shit. That's obvious. What sort of bond?”

Kirishima’s response came as a quick rush of words that Bakugou had to take a moment to decipher the thought. ‘ Dragons create a magical connection with their partners.’

Well… that was something. Silence settled over them, but Kirishima’s uneasiness quieted as he felt Bakugou remain calm. They passed over the countryside, appreciated the view as they mulled over their thoughts.

Bakugou broke the silence with a quick exhale, just barely a laugh. “So I guess we're magic married.”

A flash of embarrassment raced through their bond before laughter filled Bakugou’s mind and Kirishima’s chest rumbled in what had to be a dragon laugh. Bakugou felt his stomach drop despite himself. He smacked Kirishima for good measure.

“That scared the shit out of me, asshole! Don't do that!”

Laughter continued to bubble in his mind, but Kirishima refrained from letting his dragon form laugh again. ‘ Sorry! I just can't believe you said that!’

Bakugou smirked. “What, you don’t want to be magic married to me?”

Kirishima glanced over his shoulder again, teeth glinting in the sun with his reptilian grin. ‘ Don’t tease me. I love you, of course I want to be married to you, magic or otherwise.

It was Bakugou’s turn to get flustered, only he could not recover from it. He hunched over the spike in front of him and clutched his flaming face. What the fuck! Kirishima was a complete idiot! He always had to take things a step more serious and damn romantic to the point Bakugou could not play it cool anymore.

Sometimes the only way to respond was to further escalate and hopefully get the upper hand.

“Well, you probably should meet my parents if you want to get non-magic married,” he mumbled, certain their bond would carry his words to Kirishima.

Panic seized Kirishima, but it suddenly dissipated with words that almost sounded relieved . ‘ Well I can’t very well do that stuck as a damn dragon, now can I?

That was not the response Bakugou expected. He gripped Kirishima tightly to lean over enough to try to catch a look at his eyes, but it was impossible from his position. What the hell was even going through Kirishima’s mind to elicit that kind of reaction? Bakugou really wished Kirishima had not learned how to filter his thoughts. Sometimes his thought process was so idiotic it was impossible for Bakugou to even hope to figure it out.

“Oh my god.” He sat upright as realization dawned over him. “You’re afraid.”

Kirishima shot a cold look over his shoulder. ‘ Yeah, no shit, Katsuki! I’m terrified of being stuck as a dragon for the rest of my life!’

“No, you think that’s what you’re scared of.” Bakugou shook his head, in disbelief over his conclusion but it was the only explanation that made sense. “Once you turn back to human, you can’t use being stuck as a dragon as an excuse anymore. You’re afraid of having to face reality and get on with your life.”

You’re full of shit. That’s not true!

Bakugou scoffed. “Yeah, so what are you going to do when you finally manage to shift?”

Easy! Kiss you!

The attempt at distraction was not going to work. Bakugou narrowed his eyes and said through gritted teeth, “Besides the obvious immediate actions, Eijirou. What are we going to do now that your curse is broken?”

Discomfort filled his mind rather than words. Kirishima remained silent, hopefully thinking.

Unfortunately not.

We’re not talking about this right now. It doesn’t matter until I can shift anyways .’

Fucking hell. Bakugou really had to resist sending an explosion to Kirishima’s face. How stubborn could he be? “There’s no running away this time. We are talking about this and now.”

Kirishima groaned, his chest shaking in his defeat. ‘ You fucking asshole. That’s why you were so adamant about flying. You planned on cornering me.

The idea had crossed his mind, but primarily Bakugou had wanted to go flying. He let Kirishima hang on to the idea he was an evil mastermind. “Yeah, now let’s fucking talk. What’s so scary about going to visit my parents, huh?”

I’m not human anymore, Katsuki! It doesn’t even matter we broke my curse! I still can’t leave here!’

The sorrow was overwhelming. Bakugou almost felt bad for pressuring Kirishima to talk about this, that was if his reasoning were not so damn stupid. “That’s a load of fucking bullshit. Like hell you can’t leave. You’re not tied to these lands anymore through the curse. Your villagers don’t want you sticking around out of obligation for them. They explicitly fucking told me that. And who the fuck cares you don’t look like a normal human? The Silver Idiot and Pink Fool look even less human than you and they do fucking fine out in the rest of the world. There’s nothing tying you here except your own damn insecurities.”

He let his words sink in and was content to watch the clouds as Kirishima thought. It was cold, high in the sky on a late winter day. At least Kirishima’s scales gave off a surprising amount of heat. And with his own curse broken, Bakugou’s magic was free to fill his whole body again, raising his body temperature a tad. He was comfortable for now, but he would have to remember a cloak next time they went flying.

Kirishima sent a flurry of emotion through their bond as he thought, and Bakugou did his best to keep calm and relaxed. He imagined sending those emotions to Kirishima to help calm him down. It was a magic bond, surely it was possible.

After a while, Bakugou’s good vibes either did the trick or Kirishima managed to figure something out, because only a sense of desperation remained.

I’m scared, Katsuki. I’m scared of the future, the outside world. I hardly left my manor for years, let alone ever left these lands. I’m scared of being rejected, or feared. I’m scared to let myself dream of my future, because what if it’s not possible?’

Bakugou shook his head, hugged Kirishima’s neck best he could. “There, doesn’t it feel better to admit that?”

Kirishima trembled underneath him and started angling toward the mountains. ‘ I guess, but I’m still scared .’

“That’s fine, you can be scared all you want, but I’m not going to let it stop you from doing what you really want. You’re fucking strong as hell Eijirou. It doesn’t matter what the world throws at you, you will achieve your dreams. And when you start to doubt yourself, that’s what I’m here for.”

Katsuki… ’ Kirishima looked back at him, eyes brimming with emotions that Bakugou could feel . The sheer amount of love was almost overwhelming if Bakugou did not know he was surely giving off the same feeling. Before they could say anything, red light filled the sky and Bakugou’s seat disappeared from underneath him. His heart leaped into his throat as he began to fall, an equally terrified, very human Kirishima next to him.

Had it been any other situation, Bakugou would have enjoyed the sight of his scaled idiot again. He looked no different than before he became a full-fledged dragon halfling; dangerous talons, scales that faded into his sun-kissed skin, and all. It would have truly been a sight for sore eyes if they were not hurdling toward their deaths .  

“You fucking idiot! Change back!” Bakugou screamed.

Kirishima snapped out of his shock and yelled a shrill apology as the light of his magic filled the sky again. He caught Bakugou in his claws and dove for the ground. Bakugou hardly had a chance to catch his breath before he hit the ice cold water of a lake Kirishima dropped him in.

He pushed himself to the surface and gasped for air just as Kirishima glowed red again, and his human form splashed into the water several yards off. Bakugou growled and swam over to the gasping idiot.

“I’m going to fucking kill you!”

A shrill scream escaped Kirishima as he started to swim as fast as he could away from Bakugou.

They eventually found themselves on the mossy shore of the lake, shivering as they tried to catch their breaths. They lay next to each other, and Bakugou lifted his arm to smack Kirishima across the stomach. “I hate you so much.”

Kirishima wheezed and captured Bakugou’s arm to curl around it. A violent shiver wracked through him. “I’m sorry!” He whined, nuzzling his face against Bakugou’s wet shoulder. “I’m so cold!”

“Because you decided dropping us in a fucking lake in fucking winter was a fucking good idea!” Bakugou grabbed a horn and gave him a good shake. “You’re damned lucky it wasn’t iced over.”

“I panicked!” Kirishima rolled on top of Bakugou with an apologetic grin. “Forgive me? For avoiding you as I was trying to figure myself out. And for dropping you in an ice cold lake.”

Bakugou snorted and laced his fingers in Kirishima’s hair. “Yes to the first. But you're going to have to work a little harder for me to forgive you for the lake.”

Kirishima grinned, not wasting a second to capture Bakugou’s lips with his own. Their lips were clammy and freezing, but it did not take long till they were hot with each other’s breath. Bakugou freely ran his hands through Kirishima’s hair, spiking it up once more against the water that had weighed it down.

They could have easily lost themselves in each other's presence for longer, if it were not for the sharp breeze that blew through them. They shared equally violent shudders and pulled away. Kirishima scrunched his nose, shivered again, and sneezed.

“What the fuck, assface?” Bakugou shoved his idiot off of him to wipe his face off with his shirt. “You couldn't sneeze the other way?”

Kirishima sniffled and hugged himself, suddenly very aware of his lack of clothes. “Sorry!”

Scowling, Bakugou ripped off his still dripping jacket. “Go find me some damn logs so we can make a fire. I'm not idiotic enough to fly back with wet clothes.”

A bright smile filled Kirishima’s face as he hopped to his feet. “And we can cuddle?!”

“Yeah sure, but-” Kirishima ran off before Bakugou could finish his sentence. He rolled his eyes as he got to work shedding the rest of his wet clothes. Cuddling was fine, but Kirishima had no clothes and Bakugou’s had to dry. He was not about to snuggle naked in the middle of the forest.

They could cuddle, but Kirishima would have to turn back to a dragon first.

Bakugou laughed to himself as he got to work clearing a spot for their fire. There would be plenty of time for proper cuddles when they got back to the manor.

After all, they had the rest of their lives to look forward to.


 

The rest of winter passed in lazy contentment. They sparred almost every day. Bakugou had to retrain on how to use his magic without restraints. Sometimes they sparred with each other, some days they teamed up against Tetsutetsu.

It was exhilarating to fight side by side as partners. The months they spent as opponents made them impeccably in tune to one another. When the knights trio came to visit, they were truly put to the test.

The fight had to be called a draw after several long, grueling hours. Bakugou had never felt more proud of his choice in partner as Kirishima slowly started to believe he could achieve his dream of becoming a knight.

(Bakugou may have mentioned a mysterious man with some strong elemental magic that helped him on his monster quest. It got the knights trio plotting and departing the next day in a hurry. If asked, he would never admit to meddling with Todoroki's affairs.)

He and Kirishima took a day trip to Jadane to ease him into venturing the rest of the kingdom. The journey itself was a pain in the ass, since no other horse could tolerate them and they had to share Riot if they wanted to ride. Bakugou tried to convince Kirishima to just fly them, since it was completely impractical for them to continue to share a horse. While Kirishima was slowly becoming more confident of his draconic self, he refused to entertain the idea. He did not want to risk scaring people with his dragon form. So they rode into town like fools sharing a horse.

It came as no surprise to Bakugou how easily Kirishima assimilated with the townsfolk of Jadane. Sure, it was highly probable they had heard word of him from the villagers by now, but it was also impossible for them not to be comfortable around that idiotically bright smile.

Since the venture was such an overwhelming success, Kirishima was more open to making plans for a real trip. He started getting his affairs in order for when they would eventually leave.

Monoma and Kendou had all but moved in as of late. They were spending so much time with Tetsutetsu that they ended up crashing for the night more often than not. Kirishima made it official, setting them up with rooms of their own so they wouldn't have to keep squishing on chaises or taking Tetsutetsu's bed and kicking him to the floor.

Tetsutetsu was delighted to take custody of Kirishima’s garden whenever he was gone. The dragon was excited to help Kirishima groom the garden back to full glory when spring came around.

Perhaps even more important to Kirishima was Tetsutetsu's promise to keep an eye on the village in Kirishima's stead. Tetsutetsu had no plans of leaving anytime soon and had already started to reinstate his family’s magical claim of the territory.  

Everything was arranged so they could leave at any given notice, but they were content to wait till the last bit of winter gave to spring. Bakugou had enough of cold nights camping while monster hunting and saw no need to leave their comfy home just yet.

Most nights found them in the library. No matter how much time could pass or what may happen between them, Bakugou would always feel most at peace in their stupid pillow fort, pressed close together as they read. Bakugou was shameless in letting his hands wander to pet Kirishima’s hair or trace the scales along his arm. Not that Kirishima complained, of course. He often fell asleep, his book discarded to the side as Bakugou ran his fingers through his hair.

Bakugou would never take the ability to touch for granted.

They were tangled together as usual–Bakugou delicately tracing the outlines of Kirishima’s scales as Kirishima struggled to keep reading against his drooping eyelids–when a shrill noise filled the manor. Kirishima bolted upright from Bakugou’s lap, almost conking their heads together in his haste. A look of confusion passed between them before they scrambled out of the pillow fort to find the source of the noise.

The others had gone to town for the day and had yet to return, so the noise was not coming from anyone living in the manor. It almost sounded like a human shriek, but its repetitiveness made it inhuman. They stumbled downstairs, clutching their ears as the noise pierced through their skulls. The noise echoed through the halls, making their search near impossible. Bakugou was close to screaming with it when Kirishima’s voice cut through the shrieking.

“I found it! The hell is this thing!?”

Bakugou joined him in the front hall. Sitting on a pedestal that once housed a fancy looking vase (that Bakugou had destroyed within his first week) was a small mirror pulsating a faint pink light.

“Ah. The Pink Fool gave it to me before they left. Didn’t tell me what the fuck it was, she just said to answer it when she called.”

Kirishima winced as he took a hand off his ears to pick up the mirror. The second he touched it, the noise came to an end and the light concentrated on the frame. They sighed in relief, but a voice quickly filled the blissful silence.

“Lord! It took you guys long enough to answer!” Ashido’s voice came from the mirror. They looked down in shock to see her smirking face looking up at them. “I didn’t interrupt anything did I?” She winked for good measure.

As Kirishima flushed bright red and squawked in rebuttal, Bakugou snatched the mirror away to glare at the fairy on the other side. “What the hell was the god awful sound, woman? You should have fucking explained more about this bullshit thing before you left!”

Ashido giggled, unphased by his anger. “Oh, did you like my alert? I captured the sound of Denki shrieking when I walked in on him in the bath!”

“You did what?!” Kaminari’s voice yelped from behind her.

“Forget that!” Kirishima hooked his chin over Bakugou’s shoulder to look in the mirror as well. “What the heck is this magic!”

“Ah? Didn’t Ochako explain when you gave her the mirror I left for her?”

The image blurred as a new voice spoke, giving way to Uraraka’s wide eyed face. “Oh, I’m sorry! I thought Mina had explained it to you guys already! It’s a scrying mirror! Mina wanted to have a more direct line of communication with us!”

Bakugou could feel Kirishima light up at the sight of his friend, ready to surely sidetrack the point of this magical mirror conference. He cut him off before he could even begin. “Okay, magic mirror, got it. Why the fuck did you contact us and why is Knight Number 3 here.”

Uraraka’s indignant expression to the nickname faded to Ashido’s visage once more as she spoke. “Ah, well I need as much help as I can get and it’s easier to explain this once!”

Kirishima snatched the mirror from Bakugou, all smiles as he skipped off to the dining room. “This sounds like a story! I’m all ears!”

It was hard to be annoyed when Kirishima’s excitement flowed so strongly through their bond. Bakugou snorted and joined him at the dining room table, where he created a stand out of plates and bowls to hold the mirror up.          

“Alright Pink Bitch, explain why you had to melt our brains with the Fried Brain’s shrieking.”

Ashido stuck her tongue out at him. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Bastard Sour Puss. You’re the one that was too busy smooching to answer in a timely fashion.”

“We were not!” Kirishima huffed. He punched Bakugou’s arm lightly. “Now stop flirting in front of me and tell us your story, Mina!”

She laughed as Bakugou settled back in his chair, the hint of a grin pulling at his lips. If he had to pick a favorite out of Kirishima’s obnoxious cast of friends, Ashido would easily win.

“So, there’s kinda sorta possibly some trouble about to go down in both our realms and I need some strong fighters on my side if shit goes down…”

Uraraka flashed on the mirror. “Mina! What kind of trouble are you causing now?!”

“I’m not causing it, swear! Let me explain!” Ashido was back, her brows furrowed defensively. “In the magic realm, we have a legend about the creation of the realms. It’s said far in the past there was only one realm where humans and the magical races lived together. It was a really turbulent time, and humans were slowly overpowering the magical races. An extremely powerful fairy could not stand the strife between humans and magic kind, so she created a home just for those born of magic. And thus the two realms came to be. No one knows if the story is true or not, but there’s no denying the Yaoyorozu bloodline have been the most powerful fairies throughout time-”

Just as Bakugou thought the family name sounded familiar, a new voice came from the mirror as red and white replaced Ashido’s pink. “Did you say Yaoyorozu? As in the former royal family of this kingdom?” Todoroki asked, eyes wide and hair tussled as if he had dived for the mirror.

He probably had, judging from the way the image blurred as if jerked away while Iida’s voice said, “You’re supposed to stay quiet and hidden, Your Highness! Miss Mina said it’s dangerous for you to appear in mirrors!”

It seemed the knights trio had found Todoroki. Bakugou snorted at Kirishima’s frantic look from him to the mirror, jaw gaping. While he had kept his encounter with the prince a secret from the knights, Kirishima had gotten the full story of his time monster hunting. He nodded to confirm, yes, indeed, that was his ‘friend’ the prince. Kirishima broke out in a giant grin, exhilarated energy still thrumming strongly through their bond.

“As our fugitive said, yes, just like the former royal family of these lands. Some time ago the Yaoyorozu family started campaigning for a merging of the realms. They claimed truth to the tales of old and that we should once more live in a single realm. They were exiled to the human realm for those ideas. Their magic dwindled through the years and couplings with humans, so the royal family of this kingdom was more human than fairy.”

Ashido pursed her lips and furrowed her brows as she paused momentarily. She sighed and hesitantly continued. “There… There was a prophecy about the Yaoyorozus, that one day a descendent would be born with the same power of creation that supposedly made the realms. A faction in the magic realm did not like the chance of that happening even in a humanized Yaoyorozu bloodline. They eliminated the family to take care of that possibility, thus throwing your kingdom into chaos all those years back.”

“Let me guess, they missed someone and that supposed power has manifested,” Bakugou cut in, not wanting this to be dragged out any more than it had to be. He could see where this was headed.

Several gasps sounded in response, the loudest of all being Kirishima next to him. Ashido just scrunched her nose at him. “Thanks for stealing my climax, asshole. Yes, I’ve reason to believe I found a lost Yaoyorozu with said power, which would make her not only important to this realm, but to the magic realm as well. And I think there’s already forces working to either use her or take her out. We’re not strong enough to protect her, nor properly come up with any sort of long term plan.”

“You have our help, Mina,” Midoriya said as his face filled the mirror. He glanced off to the side. “I think... This might aid our friend’s current plight. It’s possible there’s a shared solution to both troubles.”

“Thank you, Izuku!” Ashido’s bright smiled returned as she looked straight at Kirishima. “Can we count on you two as well?”

The underlying question was obvious. Was Kirishima willing to leave his village for a quest that would surely put them in the path of many adversaries, and in the eye of the public? Bakugou looked to his partner as well, trying to feel out any sense of doubt or dread in the connection. The only thing between them was sheer anticipation .

Kirishima’s smile was blinding. “Absolutely!”

They discussed when and where they would all meet up before the magic faded from the mirror and it held their reflection once more. Kirishima immediately jumped to his feet to bounce excitedly around the room.

“We have a secret quest, Katsuki! There’s a lost princess to help! And we have a prince in disguise on our team! It’s a quest to save not just a kingdom, but possible two realms ! Katsuki! We have to pack our bags, go to sleep, and leave first thing in the morning!”

Bakugou fought a grin as he watched Kirishima pace around the room, his arms flying through the air as he spoke. He had never seen a more excited Kirishima. It was a good sight. “You’re not worried? We’re probably going to be going against a lot of strong people. We might need you to shift to fight.”

Kirishima’s eyes flashed, his pupils turning to reptilian slits as he held his head high. He pounded a fist against his chest. “I’m going to be a knight one day, Katsuki. Our friend asked for our assistance. There’s a princess in need of our help. I can’t let my insecurities hold me back or put my comrades in danger. If we’re going against the magic realm, we’re going to need my dragon side. I’ll take that responsibility with pride.”

There was not a hint of doubt in Kirishima’s words. His confidence rang loud and true between them. His smile was hardly the biggest Bakugou had seen, but it was by far the brightest. It was radiant in his pride and determination. Bakugou had always found Kirishima attractive, but in this moment he was overwhelmed by how beautiful he was.

Bakugou was proud to have played a part in helping this radiant creature discover his potential. This unbridled confidence, this sheer determination toward the future, this was the true beauty of his beast.

A matching smile pulled at his mouth as he stood. “Well, that’s that, then. Go pack our bags, I’ll get Riot ready for us to leave.”

Kirishima shifted on his feet, the first flash of unease made it way through their bond, but he refused to let his confidence expression waver. “I’ve thought about what you said. We’ll reach our meeting place much faster if we don’t have to share a horse. I’ll fly us.”

Bakugou’s brows shot up. He was expecting Kirishima to cave on the flying debate eventually, but he never thought it would be so soon. “Are you sure?”

That brief uneasiness was pushed aside by another burst of confidence. “I wouldn’t suggest it if I wasn’t sure, Katsuki.”

“Well, shit.” Bakugou grabbed Kirishima and pulled him close, wrapping his arms around his neck with a smirk. “I think I’m falling for you all over again.”

Kirishima laughed as he pressed their foreheads together. “Sorry we gotta put visiting your parents on hold.”

Bakugou snorted. “Fuck ‘em. We’re going to save a damned lost princess. They can wait.”

A fire burned between them, and reflected in Kirishima’s determined eyes. “We’re going to save the kingdom .”

“Damn right we are,” Bakugou said before pulling Kirishima in for a kiss.

In their bond were the unspoken words they knew all too well, I love you .

Fate had played its course, for how could he not love this beast?

 

The End.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








There were too many damn people in the hall. Kirishima tried his best to escape notice, but he stood out too much to be successful. Nobles of boths realms were dressed in their finest clothes, sparkled with their finest jewels. The only clothes Kirishima doned were his well worn pants, his scaled torso on display for all to see.

He had to chide himself for feeling self conscious, but it was difficult to push the feeling aside. Even though he knew he was not the strangest sight in the hall, what with all the magical races in attendance, he was still one of the most notable. This was supposed to be a party to celebrate peace and unity, after all, and he might as well be dressed for battle.

That was the point Ashido had stressed while preparing them all for the party. They were the representation of the new royals’ power, as well as the direct players in bringing about the peace. They needed to assert their strength to quell any doubts some nobles might have about the co-rulers of this new kingdom.  Despite whatever reasoning she had, Kirishima still felt silly in his enchanted harness and accessories. Any being with an ounce of magic could tell everything on him was enchanted for shifting, as if he would actually have a reason to shift here.

A wave of annoyance wash over him, and he scrunched his brows together. That was the type of annoyance Bakugou felt when he was about to do something destructively stupid.

I don’t think Momo and Shouto would appreciate if you take out one of the nobles who’s supposed to be swearing fealty to them at a peace party.

He glanced around the room, his search for Bakugou given more purpose. They had gotten separated in the throng of nosy nobles and Kirishima was more than ready to return to his partner’s side. It was easier to ignore the stares when Bakugou attracted more of them than he did.

I don’t know, they might thank me for getting one less idiot out of their hairs .’

Kirishima bit back a grin as he headed in the direction of Bakugou’s energy. ‘ Katsuki, no. I don’t care what they said, it’s not worth causing a scene .’

Even if I was defending your honor?

Did they call you Dragon Knight again? That’s not an insult to me, Katsuki. Stop being so aggressive about it .” Kirishima rolled his eyes as he caught sight of Bakugou gripping his wine glass with all his strength, teeth grit in a strained smile as some human noble rambled on to him. At least he was attempting to play nice.

I’m not the fucking dragon between us! It’s stupid to call me Dragon Knight just because my partner is a dragon!

Yeah, well they can’t call me Dragon Knight because I’m not a knight.’

Bakugou glanced over his shoulder and grimaced at him. He turned to the noble and excused himself to make a beeline to Kirishima. While Kirishima stood out for his enchanted state of dress, he at least looked a little dressed up for the party with his golden accessories. Bakugou, on the other hand, was quite literally dressed for a fight. He refused any sort of ceremonial garbs and opted to wear his well worn leather armor. Yes, Bakugou was definitely drawing more attention with his plain dress.

“Took you long enough to save me from that prick,” Bakugou snarled under his breath. He threw an arm over Kirishima’s shoulders and leaned into his space. “I’m so sick of all this asslicking. We have work to do, and we’re wasting our time here.”

Kirishima shook his head with soft snort. “Our monster hunting can rest for a night while we play the part of the realm’s saviors.”

“I don’t feel like a fucking savior when all we did was manage to bring all the fucking monsters from the magic realm here,” Bakugou grumbled, his lip raised in disgust.

It was a sore spot for Bakugou, that they had not been able to save the magic realm from collapsing. He refused to accept their victory, despite the fact they saved everyone in the magic realm from following its demise. In his mind, the enemy had succeeded in one of their goals and that was unacceptable. He was a perfectionist to a fault.

Kirishima pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Yeah, well no one else sees it that way, so stop sulking and I’ll fly us to as many terrorizing monsters as you can take tomorrow.”

“I’m holding you to that,” Bakugou said with an impish grin, stealing a kiss from Kirishima’s lips before pulling away. “I see Pinky waving us over. Look like it’s time to parade around as the prized pets.”

“Katsuki.”

Bakugou shrugged. “I know their royal high-asses don’t see us that way, but all these fuckers just think of us as their trained dogs.”

Kirishima slid his hand into Bakugou’s and twined their fingers together as they worked their way through the crowd to the dais at the front of the hall. “Well these aren’t the people that matter to us anyways, so suck it up. You can bask in the glory you like tomorrow when we save some normal people.”

“You know the words to my heart.”

They parted as they reached the dais. Bakugou reluctantly joined the knights trio to the right of Todoroki and Yaoyorozu’s thrones. Kirishima stood between Ashido and Kaminari, raising a curious brow at the giddy grins they shot up at him.

Yaoyorozu was flushed and kept glancing his way, clearly trying to hold back her own giddy smile as Todoroki address their guests, thanking them for coming and working toward a future of peace. She composed herself when it was her turn to speak about unity between the magical races and humanity, but quickly resumed the actions when Todoroki took over talking once more.

Kirishima leaned slightly to get a look at the knights. Midoriya was trying his best to look serious for the occasion, but there was definitely a hint of mischief in his eyes. Iida kept pushing up his glasses, shoulders a little too square to account for nerves of being in front of a big audience. He was anticipating something. Uraraka was the most obvious of the three, her eyes shone with the same giddy energy as Yaoyorozu. When she caught Kirishima looking her way, she smiled a tad too brightly.

Katsuki, is there something going on I’m not aware of?

He knew something was up when the corner of Bakugou’s mouth twitched while he pointedly did not look to Kirishima. ‘ I dunno, maybe .’

Oh come on. What were these idiots planning-

“Eijirou!” Ashido hissed in his ear, giving him a small push forward.

He snapped back to Todoroki and Yaoyorozu’s speech only to realize neither were talking and they were both staring directly at him. Bakugou’s laughter bounced around in his mind mockingly. He pictured flipping him the bird, and knew he got the message when the laughter grew stronger. Asshole.

Ashido gave him another shove, this time strong enough to clue him in he was supposed to approach the royals. Hesitantly, he let his feet bring him before the new King and Queen, his friends. He raised his brows questioningly to Todoroki, but even he just gave the faintest of smiles and gestured for Kirishima to kneel off the edge of the dais.

Kirishima obeyed the suggestion. He looked up at them, mind reeling as he tried to make sense of what was happening. This had some sort of meaning, he had a feeling he should know what was going on.

“Kirishima Eijirou,” Yaoyorozu stepped forward with a fond smile. “You are much like our new land. You were once human, with traces of the magic realm buried deep in your past. Through forces outside your control, the heritage of your past became your present. Now, as a dragon halfling, you have fought bravely for the safety and survival of peoples from both realms.”

Todoroki stepped next to her, his eyes alight in a joy only those on the dais could see. “You have been an essential part of the peace we strive to build in this kingdom. Will you continue to lend your strength to our cause?”

What were they going on about? “Of course,” he said without a shred of hesitation.

Murmurs from the crowd behind him–and a smug ‘ smooth ’ in the back of his mind from Bakugou–clued him that he perhaps should have tried for a more formal response. Shoot, he was totally screwing up whatever this was.

Yaoyorozu brought a hand to her mouth to stifle her giggle, and Todoroki’s lips twitched. “I’m glad to hear that,” he said.

He stepped to the side as Midoriya stepped between the royals, face scrunched up in an attempt to be serious despite his obvious excitement. Midoriya drew One for All and held it high above him, eliciting excited chatter from the crowd below.

“While it is a bit unorthodox for this ceremony to be lead by another knight,” Todoroki addressed the crowd. “I believe none would have dispute with a new tradition being set with the legendary sword One for All.”

No sound arose from the crowd gathered. Todoroki took that as agreement and nodded before turning his attention back to Kirishima.

“By the power entrusted to me as the sovereign representative of what once was the human realm-”

Yaoyorozu picked up where he left off, “And by the power entrusted to me as the sovereign representative of what once was the magic realm-”

Together they said, “We dub thee-”

Midoriya slowly placed One for All on Kirishima’s right shoulder, and his stomach flipped. This was really happening.

Bakugou’s voice, accompanied by a surge of warm pride, filled his mind. ‘ With your talons as your sword -”

Midoriya lifted One for All from his shoulder, had to lift it quite high to hover over his horns, and started to place it on his left shoulder.

-and with your scales as your shield.

“-Sir Eijirou, knight of this new land and its people.”