The thing is that Bakugou knows how difficult it is to kill off a desert plant like aloe vera, which makes the Todoroki’s unassuming expression cut at Bakugou’s pride all the deeper than if he’d had openly looked down on Bakugou for managing the near impossible. Bakugou scowls as he looks at Todoroki looking at the poor, dying plant, and finds himself momentarily distracted from his silent complaining (just judge me already, dammit, it’s not like I don’t know this is fucking pathetic) at the way that Todoroki juts his lower lip out slightly as he examines the aloe vera. Bakugou doesn't even bother to hide the fact that he’s blatantly checking Todoroki out as he rakes his gaze across Todoroki’s face and –
“Can I take it out?” Todoroki asks, breaking Bakugou’s concentration.
“What?” Bakugou says, having not actually paid attention to what Todoroki was asking.
Todoroki is either exercising magnificent patience or mild obliviousness – Bakugou has never quite been able to tell with Todoroki for as long as he’s known him – because all he does is nod once before replying, “I was just asking your permission to take the plant out of the pot… I think I have an idea of what’s wrong with it.”
“Sure, knock yourself out,” Bakugou answers. The health of the houseplant, to be honest, is secondary to him trying to figure out how to hit on his local florist, so he can’t say he particularly cares what Todoroki does with the poor thing in light of the fact that he’s been trying to figure out how to hit on Todoroki since their college days and still hasn’t actually figured it out yet.
That, and the plant isn’t even his – it’s Kirishima’s, and Bakugou is just looking over it while Kirishima takes an extended vacation. Bakugou is quite certain that either Kirishima made a terrible mistake when he put another life into Bakugou’s apathetic hands, or that Kirishima was setting him up with a reason to go visit Todoroki’s flower shop. In either case, Bakugou reasons with outstanding self-centeredness, Kirishima shouldn’t be upset at what’s become of his poor plant.
When Todoroki carefully extracts the aloe vera from its pot, a foul stench immediately emerges – the kind of bad smell that’s eye-wateringly horrid. “Holy shit,” Bakugou says, wrinkling his nose.
“Ahh,” Todoroki says, apparently unaffected both by the terrible odor and by Bakugou’s potty mouth. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Root rot has set in.”
“Okay,” Bakugou replies, trying as best as he can to breathe through his mouth. “I have no idea what the implication of that is, but as long as it can be fixed, I don’t really care about the details.”
Todoroki turns the aloe vera around in his hands, carefully surveying the root system at various angles. His grip on the plant is both delicate and deliberate; the spiky leaves hardly even move as he rotates his wrists to shift his vantage point. “I have good news and bad news,” he finally says.
“Good news first,” Bakugou immediately says.
“Well, the good news is that it’s salvageable, I’ll just cut off the parts that are already too far gone to be saved and the rest of the roots should rebound before long,” Todoroki answers. “The bad news is that it’s going to be some effort to get it back to full health… how much have you been watering it? Root rot is usually from overwatering.”
Bakugou frowns. “It’s not mine, it’s Kirishima’s, he just told me to do it as often as I remember it exists… so maybe a glass every other day?”
“How much is a glass?” Todoroki asks.
Bakugou does not like where this conversation seems to be going. He looks up at the ceiling for a moment and thinks to himself, Fuck you, Kirishima, this is your fault for not leaving more detailed instructions before fucking off to take a three week long vacation. Do you think you’re a European or something? You paid half of the rent for the month and were only there for seven damn days!
After venting mentally, he sighs deeply and answers: “Probably about 8 fluid ounces?”
There’s an awkward pause.
“Every other day,” Todoroki repeats.
“Can you just tell me straightforwardly how badly I screwed things up?” Bakugou says, tone frustrated as he tries to reconcile how attracted he feels to Todoroki with how stupid Todoroki is making him feel.
Todoroki, though, smiles slightly at that response. Even though Bakugou gets the feeling that the expression is purely at his expense, he can’t help but find it cute anyway. “Succulents only need to be watered about every two weeks,” Todoroki explains. “Don’t worry, though, you caught it pretty early. If you just leave it alone for a while, it should be fine.”
“But there’s no miraculous way for me to make it look normal again in, say, a week,” Bakugou says.
“Only time heals all wounds,” Todoroki replies.
Bakugou can’t tell if Todoroki is serious or teasing him. He narrows his eyes slightly and then sighs sharply again. “I guess I’ll figure out something else to make up for half killing his plant,” he mutters to himself.
“If I could make a suggestion,” Todoroki says, “you are in a flower shop. There’s a shipment of orchids coming in next Monday.”
To be honest, Bakugou had been trying to come up with an excuse to come by again, and here Todoroki is, giving him a clear opening. He smirks and props his elbows up onto the counter, leaning in slightly, testing the waters. “I’ll think about it,” he says.
Todoroki smiles again, but it seems more affectionate than before. “In the meanwhile, then, I’ll cut off the affected parts and then re-pot this for you… should I use the same pot?” he asks.
“Nah, I’ll buy a new one,” Bakugou says, as he rummages around his pockets for his wallet.
Bakugou watches quietly as Todoroki does his work, cautiously carving out the parts of the plant that are soft and rotted away, trimming away the roots that have gone to waste while leaving the healthy parts intact. The image of Todoroki carefully placing the plant into the new pot, mixing soil with sand and gently patting it down, sticks in Bakugou’s head long after he’s left the flower shop.
Kirishima returns the following Sunday with his suitcase and a tan. “Welcome back,” Bakugou says, not even bothering to look up from his laptop when Kirishima walks in. “I almost killed your dumb plant with water, but it’ll live.”
“Don’t you think you could maybe start off by asking how my vacation was?” Kirishima asks.
“No,” Bakugou replies. “You messaged me so often that I already know every detail of what happened.”
“You never reply to them, so I didn’t know if you actually read my messages or not!” Kirishima says. He sits down at the table, across from where Bakugou’s sitting. In between them is the aloe vera, still looking like it’s seen better days. “Out of all the things you choose to tell me about first, it’s the houseplant?”
Bakugou, sensing that he can’t shrug off having a conversation now that he’s already responded a few times, sighs and takes his computer glasses off, rubbing his forehead a few times before looking up. “I used it as an excuse to go visit Todoroki’s flower shop,” he explains.
Kirishima laughs. “So it’s not about the plant at all, it’s about the hot florist you still don’t know how to admit you have a crush on. Got it.”
“I admit I have a crush on him, just not to him,” Bakugou replies. “But I did make sure your shitty plant is going to be alright, so I did my duty and don’t wanna hear any complaints about it.”
“Nah, I know better than to think that complaining will change your ornery ways at this point,” Kirishima says.
Bakugou looks him dead in the eye as he replies, “If nothing else, Kirishima, I’m glad you understand me. Now leave me alone, I’m working.”
Kirishima dramatically clasps his hands over his heart as he gets up, pretending to swoon. “I make Bakugou glad about something! I’m calling all our friends and telling them, I got Bakugou to give me a compliment the day I got back. Almost like he missed me, or something,” he says.
“Shut the fuck up,” Bakugou says, rolling his eyes before putting his glasses back on and turning back to his laptop.
“I love you too, man,” Kirishima replies, before turning to leave the room.
Some people merely remember their first love: Bakugou Katsuki is still living it. Infuriatingly enough, he still recalls when he first met Todoroki with alarming clarity for somebody who barely remembers peoples’ names even when he tries. They’d been in the same circle in college for aikido, and in their first practice match as newcomers, Todoroki had soundly and casually showed Bakugou up – Todoroki caused Bakugou to not only fall on his ass, but reluctantly also fall in love.
Bakugou then proceeded to pretend for a solid two years that his interest in Todoroki was only about getting his revenge for that moderately embarrassing practice bout, despite the fact that he took every excuse he could to hang out in the same general space as Todoroki – an especially impressive feat, given that Todoroki was in the business school, and Bakugou in technology. It was only in their third year that Bakugou caved under peer pressure and a few too many drinks, admitting to Kirishima that actually, he also has an interest in kissing Todoroki, making out with him, doing some stuff below the belt, and perhaps even holding hands.
For somebody who is effortlessly and obnoxiously good at a lot of things, Bakugou has to admit that social interactions are not really his thing, nor has he ever wanted them to be his thing. Incapable of expressing his feelings in a normal and straightforward manner, and also a tad too prideful to be the confessor instead of the confessed to, Bakugou allowed himself to simply graduate without saying a word about his raging crush. Instead, he co-rented an apartment a short walk away from the flower shop Todoroki opened, found a generous job with his computer programming degree that let him work remotely from home, and promptly took every excuse that he could to visit Todoroki during the slow daytime hours, when most people are stuck in the office, including accidentally-maybe-a-little-purposely-near-the-end drowning his roommate’s plant.
What’s a good love story without a near death incident, anyway?
When Bakugou stops by the next day, Todoroki is busy arranging pots of flowers in the shop window. The flower shop is small enough that even an extra shelf of flowers fills the place up full to bursting with new blooms, and Todoroki seems to be having trouble cramming one last pot onto the display. But when Todoroki notices Bakugou walk in, he immediately straightens up, offering a smile: “You came back,” he says.
“I said I would,” Bakugou replies, even though he knows very well his actual response was far more coy and less straightforward than that. “Are those the orchids you were talking about before?”
“Yeah,” Todoroki says, holding up the pot that he’d been struggling to place. “These ones are potted, but I also bought some for bouquets too.” There’s a pause as Todoroki seems to restrain himself from laughing. “… The cut flowers might be better for you,” he finally manages to say.
Bakugou contemplates for a moment how far gone he is that he found that cute and endearing and not infuriating, as he’s sure it he would feel if pretty much anybody else said that to him. It helps somewhat that Todoroki’s face is seriously his type. “Look here,” he replies, frowning as he points accusingly at a random flowerpot. “I tried my damn best at something I didn’t even want to do, I feel like I get points for that.”
“True, if you really were apathetic towards plants, then you would’ve let it die instead,” Todoroki concedes, sounding alarmingly unconcerned about plant death for a florist. “And here you are again, for that matter. Perhaps you’re turning over a green thumb.”
“Let’s not get ambitious,” Bakugou says wryly.
Todoroki smiles, kindly and softly. “So, a bouquet for your roommate, then. What do you have in mind?”
Bakugou shrugs. “You know what kind of guy Kirishima is. Something red, I guess?”
“And your price range?” Todoroki asks.
“Something that says, I make more money than your sorry ass does while simultaneously saying I’m a damn cheapskate and this is all you’re getting,” Bakugou replies.
Todoroki laughs at that. “You’re a demanding customer,” he says. “But I think I’ve got the thing for you.”
Bakugou watches as Todoroki wraps up a bouquet with a few long-stemmed red orchids at the center, framed with soft yellows and lush greens. It’s sparse in flowers, but each individual bloom is obviously a pricy one. Neither of them speak as he works, carefully placing each piece so that even Bakugou, a philistine among philistines, can appreciate the balance in the arrangement. “You’re surprisingly good at this,” Bakugou says.
“Thanks,” Todoroki replies dryly. “It’s kind of my job.”
“Sorry if I don’t expect an eye for elegance from somebody who studied business,” Bakugou shoots back.
Todoroki smiles. “Okay, point taken. I just watched my mother a lot when she was the one who ran this place… I guess I picked up a thing or two from her,” he says. Then he ties a ribbon around the bottom of the bouquet, holding it out for Bakugou to take.
Along with the bouquet, Todoroki passes him a single white flower wrapped separately. Bakugou raises an eyebrow. “This isn’t mine,” he says.
“No, no mistake,” Todoroki says. “Consider it an extra for the large purchase.”
That’s enough to make Bakugou forget his usual cheapskate ways when he sees the receipt for the present.
Bakugou doesn’t own any vases, so he empties out one of Kirishima’s half-finished bottles of cheap wine, rinses it out, and puts the white flower into it with a water and a sprinkle of sugar. He puts it along with the the bouquet onto the kitchen table, right next to where the recovering aloe vera sits. And then he sets his work laptop up in the kitchen, sitting so that he can look at the white flower whenever he glances up from the screen.
When Kirishima returns from his own job, he seems torn on what he wants to comment on first. Finally, though, he says, “You’re going to buy me a new bottle of wine, right?”
“I bought you a bouquet to apologize for almost killing your dumb aloe whatever,” Bakugou replies blithely.
“No, you used me as an excuse to go visit Todoroki,” Kirishima says. “Which is cute, but – ”
“Kirishima,” Bakugou cuts in. “Do you want to see what I paid for that.”
“I humbly accept your gift,” Kirishima immediately replies.
Bakugou doesn’t even hide his triumphant smirk. “That’s more like it.”
Before Kirishima goes to his room to change out of his work clothes, though, he pauses by the kitchen table, pressing his lips together in thought as he stares at the flower. “Bakugou, do you know what kind of flower that is?” he asks.
“I only care about flowers because I want to make out with somebody who sells them,” Bakugou answers. “Of course I don’t.”
Kirishima’s shoulders shake slightly as he attempts to restrain himself from smiling in a distinctly giddy sort of way. Bakugou frowns because that’s the sort of expression that screams something like haha, I know something you don’t for once! He sees it from Kirishima once or twice every year, and generally it means that he’s about to thoroughly regret something.
“I think you should look it up,” Kirishima says, and then covers his mouth with the back of his hand as he snickers.
“How the hell am I supposed to do that, I don’t even know what it’s called,” Bakugou says.
“You’re a smart man, I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Kirishima replies, which would be nice if he weren’t on the verge of breaking down in laughter as he turns to leave the kitchen and retreat to his room. “I can’t believe he actually did it, though, you would never be able to get this on your own.”
“I don’t know what your game is, but preemptively, fuck you,” Bakugou calls after him as he leaves. The only response he gets is what sounds like the muffled sound of Kirishima laughing raucously into his pillow.
Bakugou frowns deeply. Don’t be a moron, don’t fucking take the bait! he yells at himself internally.
He takes the bait anyway.
A series of Google searches conducted by Bakugou Katsuki over the course of an hour, when he really should have been doing work, or other productive things in his life:
white flower many petals
white flower what the fuck IS this
white flower many petals smells strongly
white flower gardenia
gardenia Chinese medicine
gardenia medical uses
gardenia??!! I do NOT fucking GET It
gardenia flower language
And then he slams the screen of his laptop down into sleep mode, grabs his keys, and yells at Kirishima through the walls with all the prickly, reluctant affection he has for the man, “You are the actual worst!” before running out the door.
For the second time that day, Bakugou finds himself at Todoroki’s flower shop, but this time he shows up panting and slightly out of breath as he breezes through the entrance, nearly knocking down a customer on her way out, and approaches the counter, putting both hands on it as if to brace himself. Todoroki looks mildly startled, to say the least. “Uh,” Todoroki says, a bit cautiously. “Can I help you with something?”
“Todoroki,” Bakugou replies, tone artificially even. “What kind of flowers mean love in flower language?”
There’s a pause before Todoroki begins listing them off: “The red rose, of course. White carnations mean pure love and red chrysanthemums are a declaration of love. The forget-me-not means true love. And…”
He trails off.
“And?” Bakugou prompts him.
Todoroki doesn’t quite meet him in the eye as he answers, “The gardenia symbolizes a secret love.”
Bakugou straightens himself up. “Right,” he says. “Okay, I want one of each of those.”
Both of them are quiet as Todoroki gathers the flowers, movements more than a little stilted as he moves through the store, bundling the flowers into an awkward-looking bouquet before handing them over to Bakugou, who drops several bills onto the cash tray in front of the register. He stares at Todoroki intently as he takes the bouquet – and then promptly hands it back.
“These are for you,” he says.
For a few moments, Todoroki seems taken aback. And then finally, he raises a hand to cover his mouth as he says, “Did you just make me wrap up flowers… for myself?”
“Look,” Bakugou replies heatedly, “I think it would’ve been kind of rude if I brought somebody else’s flowers into your flower shop, don’t you think.”
Todoroki brings his hand back down, revealing the soft smile on his face, as he carefully holds the flowers close. “Thank you, I’ll accept them happily,” he says.
“And what about the feelings that go along with them?” Bakugou asks, attempting valiantly to remain stalwart even in the face of the fact that he knows every single one of their mutual acquaintances would piss themselves in laughter if they knew that he, Bakugou Katsuki, is finally confessing, and it’s somehow turned out like this.
“If you’ll accept mine in turn,” Todoroki answers, almost a little too quickly, and then his cheeks flush a light red.
Bakugou’s pretty sure his face is also heating up. “So, like,” he says, “are we dating now?”
And just like that, the tense, awkward atmosphere around them shatters. Todoroki laughs softly and places the bouquet down, stepping over to the other side of the counter. “I think so, yeah,” he replies. “I can’t believe this is actually happening, it’s – ” He stops there, and then shakes his head slightly even as he smiles. “Never mind.”
“No, tell me,” Bakugou says, because apparently there’s a lot of things they haven’t been telling each other that would’ve been good to know earlier.
“I think you’re going to laugh at me, honestly,” Todoroki says wryly.
“I just embarrassed myself enough for the rest of my lifetime,” Bakugou replies, “at this point, it would just be getting even.”
Todoroki holds his hand out and Bakugou takes it, trying to not be overly conscious of how nice it feels to be able to interlace his fingers with Todoroki’s. “It’s just that, I thought to myself… after all this time, this is finally happening,” Todoroki says, a bit wistfully.
It’s about time, Bakugou tries to say, but his mind doesn’t seem willing to coordinate with his mouth – so instead he leans in and presses his lips to Todoroki’s, kissing him slow and sweet: his first love has finally bloomed.