“Don’t you think Bakugou is pretty?”
Todoroki looked up, after having apparently caused the untimely deaths of his three friends. Uraraka was doubled over, clutching her throat as bits of food sprayed from her wheezing mouth, Iida had somehow mini-Recipro Bursted his way through the floorboards and was struggling to get back out of the crater, and Midoriya… Midoriya looked like he needed an ambulance. Or an immediate blood transfusion at least, his face was so white.
Todoroki glanced across the cafeteria, eyes drawn as they always were to the abomination of a human being that was currently screaming bloody murder at his classmates. On default, probably. Seeing Bakugou’s lips stretched back so far into a murderous snarl Todoroki could count every single one of his (perfectly straight, pearly white) teeth - so, a very common expression - he guessed he couldn’t blame his friends for their overblown shock at his comment.
Todoroki looked back down at his food as the telltale crackle of mini explosions went off on his far right, and a strangled, spluttering sound emitted from his left as Midoriya appeared to slowly drag his soul back into his body. Forcibly.
Todoroki cut a small piece of meat and raised it to his mouth to muffle his quiet mumble.
Bakugou Katsuki made one hell of a first impression, on possibly everyone that had ever seen him. Even in the rare moments when Todoroki hadn’t seen the trademark scowl on his face - usually when nobody was breathing in his direction to piss him off - just his spiky shock of blond hair and sharp, blood-red eyes were enough to draw attention. And, of course, usually he was either blowing someone’s face up, threatening very loudly to do so, or stomping around, probably pissed that he wasn’t currently wiping the floor with someone’s obliterated remains.
Okay, Bakugou hadn’t actually killed anyone before, and despite the amount of times Todoroki had heard him very explicitly tell Midoriya to die, Todoroki knew Bakugou never would. But, you kinda got the feeling that the guy liked to bathe in kittens’ blood every time he opened that foul, unnecessarily loud mouth.
So yeah, out of all possible words any sane person would use to describe Bakugou Katsuki, “pretty” wasn’t a popular choice.
Todoroki couldn’t help it, though. It was Bakugou’s fault. And his own awful tastes, apparently. He wished he could say it was when he saw Bakugou smile rather than smirk for the first time or something, or- or seeing his face soften after saving a puppy from drowning… or something that made sense. Unfortunately, he still had yet to see the aggressive boy smile, let alone save people or animals without yelling at them.
It was actually when he was brushing his teeth one morning in the boys’ bathroom. Bakugou walked in with a huge yawn and sleepy dust crusting his bleary, squinty eyes, looking like a sleepy, angry mess instead of just the standard angry mess… and Todoroki suddenly lost all his brain cells and wanted to kiss him.
And then Bakugou shot him a murderous glare and told him to keep his damn creepy eyes to himself.
(Todoroki knew he sometimes came across as creepy, because when he was interested by something he would stare at it indefinitely. It still made him a little dejected to hear it from Bakugou though, and he glanced away with a quiet “oh”.
That must have pissed the guy off more because Bakugou then proceeded to choke and swear and blow up a chunk of the sink. Todoroki didn’t look directly at him for a while after that.)
Todoroki had thought about Bakugou before that, sure. How could you possibly not spare a passing thought or two for the literally explosive, brilliant, powerful ball of pure assholery that came first in the entrance exam, first in the Sports Festival, and scored closely behind Iida and Yaoyorozu to place third in the class for academic grades despite looking like a brainless delinquent. And that was just in their first year.
But up until recently Todoroki had been preoccupied with his own less than pleasant issues that he still hadn’t fully shaken off, though he liked to think he was a bit more at peace with himself and the world in general now. Plus, he was self-aware enough to acknowledge that he was a bit of an asshole as well. Frankly, he hadn’t cared much about other people before Midoriya entered his life. His passing thoughts about Bakugou had remained just that, added with a dash of disdain for his brash, rude behaviour.
But now that he actually slowed down and took his time to notice other people around him, and try to “come out of his shell” a little, as Uraraka had put it… well. Apparently he’d had to sacrifice his sight and general sanity in exchange for the positivity in his life.
Well, objectively speaking, Bakugou wasn’t bad looking. In fact, when he was only moderately frowning, he was a pretty attractive guy.
The questionable thing was that Todoroki found even his crazed, bloodthirsty grins in battle as he screamed at some poor soul to go to hell, attractive.
Todoroki generally thought himself to be a rational, reasonable guy. He didn’t place much importance on other people’s opinions of him, but he knew most people would describe him as coolheaded. There was probably a pun in there somewhere that Todoroki couldn’t be bothered acknowledging, but the point was, he and other people were clearly under a misconception that his brain was functioning normally.
“Todoroki-kun, are you thinking about Bakugou-kun again?” Uraraka sounded apprehensive, her wobbly, half concerned, half hesitantly supportive smile mirroring Midoriya’s. They both tended to look at him like that a lot, whenever he spaced out and it was all too obvious what was on his mind. Like they weren’t sure exactly how to tell Todoroki that the object of his affections was practically a fire breathing monster. Well, thankfully for him, fire was on his side. Though explosions weren’t too far off from fire, he mused.
“What do you think it’d be like to hold his hand? It’d probably be sweaty. His Quirk activates from his sweat after all, so to be able to use it at will like he does…” Todoroki wondered aloud, half to himself, and artfully ignored Iida choking on thin air beside him. It was a common reaction whenever any sentence concerning Bakugou left Todoroki’s mouth.
“T-Todoroki-kun, you uh… you think about holding… Kacchan’s… hand?” Midoriya sounded like he was confirming whether Todoroki liked sticking thorns into his own eyeball. Todoroki looked down at his own outstretched hand, and imagined warm, strong fingers wrapped around it. In reality, those warm, strong fingers would sooner break his hand in half than hold it, but fantasies came unbidden anyway.
“I think about it a concerning amount of time every day, yeah. Maybe… Maybe I should try it and see. So I stop thinking about it.” Todoroki replied pensively, and again ignored Iida’s choke.
Uraraka and Midoriya stared at him for a very long time in silence, and Todoroki could hear them trying to decide whether or not to point out to him that attempting to hold Bakugou Katsuki’s hand was a surefire way to lose an entire limb.
Uraraka eventually said, “At least you know it’s concerning.”
In Todoroki’s (weak) defence, he was just curious about a lot of things to do with Bakugou. He was curious about holding Bakugou’s hand, just as he was curious to see what his face would look like when laughing in genuine amusement. He was curious about Bakugou’s obsession with winning, he was curious about Bakugou’s grudge against Midoriya, he was curious about Bakugou’s purposefully unlikable, unapproachable demeanour, he was curious about the strange but definitely substantial bond between Bakugou and Kirishima… he was curious about so many things.
Over time, he’d spiralled from thinking “shit, he’s pretty” as Bakugou scowled at the mirror while casually obliterating his teeth with his toothbrush, to being unable to keep thoughts of the aggressive fireball out of his head whenever he wasn’t focused on training.
He’d actually only first voiced aloud any thoughts about Bakugou (and his very subjective prettiness) recently, though the thoughts had been plaguing his mind for a good several months or so. When he first started thinking about him he’d thought he’d finally gone and lost it and hadn’t wanted to infect Midoriya and his other friends with whatever illness had clearly struck him, but it just slipped out a few weeks ago, and, well… Though the reactions had been comical and in all ways negative, none of them had teased him for it. And now, it was like the proverbial dam had been broken. He wasn’t known for being a very chatty person at all, but now in comparison to his usual aloof self, he just wouldn’t shut up about Bakugou.
The sad thing was, with all his time spent thinking about him, Todoroki hadn’t actually spoken to Bakugou himself at all. That was hardly surprising, they were barely friends. Bakugou had simmered down quite a bit in their third year now as compared to when they first entered U.A. Todoroki liked to think Bakugou viewed him as a classmate and rival now, rather than another nameless enemy he had to bulldoze through on his way to reaching his goal of greatest hero. But both of them were fantastically horrible at social interactions - well, Bakugou chose to be - and their respective friends had surrounded them of their own will.
In all honesty, he really didn’t know why he wanted to be Bakugou’s friend in the first place. He couldn’t imagine it was a very easy or healthy job. He had no idea what it’d be like to talk to him or to hang out with him, since he only knew the trash talk Bakugou would spit down at him whenever they sparred for training in class. He only knew the sense of exhilaration, adrenaline, and challenge rushing through his veins whenever he fought him, his toughest, most evenly matched opponent, and let a wide, teeth-baring grin of his own slip onto his face when he forced a gleam of respect and cautiousness into those blazing red eyes with his own power.
Other than that, he and Bakugou had exchanged only a handful of words before, usually just pointless, snarky remarks at each other. (Although the snark definitely weighed more prominently on Bakugou’s end, it wasn’t to say just because Todoroki didn’t talk much meant he wasn’t a fan of sharp-tongued banter. Plus, it was always funny pissing him off.)
Maybe it was just that addicting rush that spurred him to take the initiative, and commence mission impossible.
He had no idea how to begin expressing that he wanted to be friends to Bakugou of all people, who only barely tolerated Kirishima on some days and only put up with the rest of the “Bakusquad” because their persistence tired him out, it appeared. (Okay no, he knew that Bakugou actually did care about his friends, but... that was the general vibe)
Todoroki had neither the bubbliness nor the energy that group shared enabling them to plaster themselves at Bakugou’s side without being sent to the hospital, but persistence and tenacity was something he had in droves. Determination, as well.
“Bakugou, can we be friends?”
Okay, yeah, that’s exactly what Todoroki had expected. He kept his face neutral, not that he had to try, watching Bakugou’s blood pressure visibly skyrocket. He’d expected this from the guy that genuinely wanted to call himself King Explosion Murder, so he wasn’t upset or taken aback at all as Bakugou cursed and spat at him as if Todoroki just insulted his family.
“The fuck’re you playing at, Halfie?!” Bakugou yelled, demonstrating the impressive maximum volume his voice was capable of making as per usual. Todoroki wasn’t sure which part Bakugou was the angriest at, that Todoroki presumed to want to be friends, that Todoroki was implying Bakugou deigned to even have friends, that Todoroki had asked him so bluntly, or… maybe just at Todoroki himself.
“I’m not… playing at anything. I just want to be your friend.” Todoroki replied evenly and Bakugou stared at him like he’d grown a second head. In hindsight, Todoroki was glad he’d chosen to stop Bakugou on their way back to the dorms, standing off to the side of the path lit up by the setting sun, rather than subject his classmates to Bakugou’s rage inside the dorms as well as everywhere else.
“Fucking why?” The question was as aggressive as everything else, not a shred of insecurity or self deprecation in his aggravated tone. He was really just confused in that Bakugou way of ever present anger, as to why Todoroki wanted to be friends. It reassured him, for some bizarre reason.
“Beats me.” Todoroki let out a barely there snort, and Bakugou looked like he was less than a second away from blowing himself up out of sheer irritation.
“Are you fucking around with me, Candy Cane? You just here to waste my time? Thought you actually had something important to say, never thought you’d joke around for no reason. Don’t fuckin’ speak to me, get lost.” Bakugou yelled, snarled and growled all at once in that spectacular Bakugou fashion, and at that, Todoroki couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Not that he’d expected anything better.
“So, that’s a no?” Todoroki asked quietly, putting in a bit more effort to maintain his blank expression. But something must’ve slipped through, as Bakugou stiffened, and his slanted red eyes narrowed. For a tense moment, they just stared at each other, and Todoroki watched the piercing light of the golden sun catch in equally piercing red irises. Though a little upset at the rejection and uncomfortable by the way Bakugou scrutinised him, Todoroki didn’t let his gaze waver, not backing down from the unspoken challenge for a second.
Then Bakugou must’ve come to some conclusion and let out a long-suffering sigh, curling his lip and messing with his hair irritatedly.
“The fuck’s wrong with you, waltzing up all of a sudden and asking me to be fucking friends with that stupid empty expression- what was I supposed to…” Bakugou pinched the bridge of his nose and paused to just look at Todoroki for a second more. Then he said in a quick, angry little mutter, the calmest Todoroki had ever heard that voice speak to him before,
“We’re not… not friends, alright? Fucking Half and Half bastard. Stop looking at me like that. Jesus.”
Then he turned and stomped his way to the dorms, shoulders hunched, posture terrible as always. Todoroki was left standing there feeling like the very ground just got pulled out from under him.
He almost swooned, but he decided to save himself the remaining bit of his dignity today.
“We’re not… not… friends?” Midoriya echoed slowly and Todoroki nodded.
A second of silence ticked by, and Midoriya leant back on his palms, breath escaping him in a rush.
“Wow. That’s… That’s pretty much a love confession, coming from Kacchan.” Midoriya spoke dryly, making Todoroki choke despite himself. Love conf-?
“Don’t put it that way, it’s bad for me.” Todoroki muttered, and Midoriya shot him a sympathetic look with just a slight edge of hysteria.
“So what exactly do you want to… um… do about Kacchan? Are you… You like him, right?” Midoriya asked hesitantly and Todoroki blanked. He guessed Midoriya meant that in a non platonic sense.
He liked him, right? There was no other reason to think about what it’d be like to kiss him, after all. No other reason to wonder what Bakugou would be like if he were dating someone, wondering (maybe hoping) whether he’d be a little softer with them.
But really… all he knew about Bakugou was that he yelled at everyone and acted like he hated the world in general. How could he like someone like that? Todoroki was not an impulsive person, and he definitely didn’t fall for people easily. In fact, he’d never thought about anyone like this before, so why Mr Blasty Explodo-Kill Nutcase?
“Oh God, he’s such a terrible person.” Todoroki buried his head in his hands and groaned in defeat, the more he thought about Bakugou’s personality. That was admission enough, he guessed. Great, he liked the amazingly rude, arrogant asshole. For no reason. What was he even drawn to?
“Kacchan is overly aggressive and angry and proud, and quite cruel with his words to other people sometimes, sure… But do you really think he’s a terrible person?” Midoriya asked, his voice suddenly taking on a knowing, perceptive lilt. Todoroki looked up at that and frowned, shaking his head even though Midoriya’s soft smile made it feel like he’d been baited.
“No… no. He’s not a bad person. He has his own morals and ideals and he sticks to them without allowing anyone or anything to change him. He tries just as hard as you and me to become the strongest hero, and he tries harder than anyone else to be the best he can be at… everything else. And it’s not for shallow things like compliments or recognition, he doesn’t care what other people think of him, he only does it to reach his own impossible standards of himself. He’s been compared to villains by pretty much everyone before but even when he was given the opportunity to become one he never considered it even for a second. He’s so honest and straightforward, he’d never do anything behind our backs, or resort to dirty tricks in battle. He yells at everyone, sure, but he’s improved a lot now. He actually cares about Kirishima, and gets along with his group in his own way. I’m sure he cares about us too. Whenever he fights alongside other people he takes care to alter his attacks so they don’t get hurt. He’s so sure of himself and puts his all into his goals and dreams…” Todoroki trailed off, his monotonous rant probably sounding a lot like Midoriya’s usual mumblings. Shit, that was the most he’d spoken in longer than he could remember, and… oh.
“Oh. I like him, don’t I?” Todoroki finished a little lamely, and Midoriya just gave him a nod and an even softer smile.
Other than Midoriya, Iida and Uraraka, the group he usually hung out with, Todorokiwas also very good friends with Yaoyorozu in a very casual, low maintenance sort of way. She wasn’t a part of their circle, but he’d gotten really close with her ever since they were paired together against Aizawa in their first year. She was actually the only person outside of his family that called him by his first name (other than in his hero name’s context). He still called her Yaoyorozu just because it was more comfortable for him, just like how he still called Midoriya by his last name.
Even though his class had gotten so close he was almost certain some would open hero agencies together once they graduated, a lot of them were like that. Probably only Kaminari and Kirishima, Kaminari and Ashido, Midoriya and Bakugou (sort of), Bakugou and Ashido, Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, and then all the girls, were on first name basis.
“I thought you had to tutor Jirou and Sero right now.” Todoroki handed Yaoyorozu a vanilla éclair he picked up on the way back to the dorms from the hospital, and Yaoyorozu smiled her thanks. They were always buying each other their favourite snacks, not that Todoroki (or Yaoyorozu he was sure) did it on purpose, he would just tend to always pass some café or bakery and see something she’d like. In their second year, apparently half of the class had been convinced that they were actually dating, but really, she was more like a sister.
“Well, mid-terms are still a while away after all, and Kyouka and Sero-san have never been the most motivated… They went out with Mina’s group to an arcade. I am worried though, Kyouka was really struggling with English.” Yaoyorozu sighed and peeled open the wrapper. Todoroki hummed at that, sticking his straw into his matcha milk tea. He put a hand in his pocket and leaned against the wall, wondering if he should ask Yaoyorozu for help with English too. He’d probably be fine on his own since academic tests had never been a problem for him, but it couldn’t hurt seeing as English wasn’t his strong point, and he knew Yaoyorozu loved teaching others.
“It’s okay. They’ll start panicking in about a week and come crying to you as always.” Todoroki spoke around his straw, giving her a dry, sympathetic look. Yaoyorozu returned it with a raised eyebrow.
“That’s exactly what I was trying to avoid by scheduling a study session earlier rather than later.” Yaoyorozu sighed, moving to lean against the wall beside him. Todoroki paused and watched her for a second as she took a bite of her éclair. Yaoyorozu wasn’t the type to get hurt just because she got cancelled on, but he knew how excited she got about these study sessions.
“Are you upset?” Todoroki asked softly, just to make sure. Yaoyorozu flashed him an understanding smile.
“No, not really. It wasn’t set in stone and besides, Kyouka apologised so much just before that I had to shoo her out the door.” Yaoyorozu laughed and shook her head fondly. “What about you, are you studying with anyone for midterms?”
“I’m supposed to help Uraraka, Asui and Tokoyami with maths tomorrow after school.” Todoroki replied, internally wincing as he’d completely forgotten about that till she mentioned it just now.
“Oh, Mina said she and Kaminari-san are studying maths after school tomorrow with Bakugou-san. Why don’t you two teach everyone at the same time?” Yaoyorozu suggested, and Todoroki immediately foresaw yelling, injuries, and Bakugou picking unnecessary fights with him. They’d never seen eye to eye with anything involving a method after all, i.e. battle strategies or even how best to load the dishwasher.
“Ah… I’ve seen Bakugou tutoring Kirishima before. It was pretty violent, so I think I’ll pass.” Todoroki muttered dryly, and Yaoyorozu laughed again, shrugging.
“That is a fair point.”
Todoroki drank his milk tea in silence for a few moments, thinking it over again. He and Bakugou had reached an unspoken agreement ages ago to avoid working together as much as possible. It just wasn’t efficient and annoyed the both of them, after all. Even if Todoroki’s attitude towards Bakugou had changed, he still hadn’t reached out to try any sort of teamwork with him since maybe the start of their second year. Would it be different now? Would Bakugou be willing to listen a little and cooperate more now?
He knew Bakugou was able to successfully lead a team, his keen battle sense let him make on the spot decisions to utilise his abilities and everyone around him to achieve impressive results, just like Todoroki’s intellect allowed him to do so. But he and Bakugou had been terribly incompatible as allies back then unless they were in a life or death situation against villain attacks, and even then it’d been bumpy at best. And their thoughts and very natures clashed on everyday mundane things involving living together at the dorm. He’d just accepted that and barely gave it any more thought. As long as they were able to fight alongside each other as heroes if need be, nothing else really mattered.
But it was different now. As Bakugou had said, they weren’t not friends. Todoroki wanted to be more amicable towards him now. Would Bakugou also attempt at better communication?
Todoroki chewed on his straw, slowly.
“Say… hypothetically, how would I know if I liked someone?” Todoroki asked, staring straight ahead absently. Yaoyorozu almost jumped at the question and turned to him in surprise.
“Shouto, you like someone?” Yaoyorozu gasped, and Todoroki slid her a flat look.
“Hypothetically.” Todoroki repeated firmly, as if it were actually true. Yaoyorozu lifted a hand and rested her bent finger against her chin in thought.
“Oh, well… I’m not too sure. I’ve never had a crush on anyone before, but I’m assuming you would think about them a lot, and you’d want to spend time with them. When you see them it probably feels different than seeing everyone else….?” Yaoyorozu offered uncertainly, looking like she desperately wanted to ask why Todoroki was suddenly curious about this, but was resisting. Todoroki twitched at the word “crush”, but…
“Shit.” Todoroki mumbled as he realised he did indeed think about Bakugou a lot, more than he should. And he did want to spend time with him and get to know him, that’s why he reached out and asked to be friends. And yeah… whenever he saw that telltale spiky mess of blond hair it certainly didn’t feel the same as when he would see Midoriya or any of his friends. Yaoyorozu paused, staring at his expression wide eyed.
“Shouto, you do like someone, don’t you?” Yaoyorozu asked a little quieter, and Todoroki bit the inside of his cheek, letting his gaze drift away.
“I’m… figuring it out.” Todoroki muttered, kicking aimlessly at the ground. Yaoyorozu looked positively floored, but she didn’t push it, leaning back against the wall again.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me unless you want to.” Yaoyorozu spoke reassuringly, and Todoroki shot her a grateful smile. He would tell her, eventually, just not now. Yaoyorozu seemed to understand that, as she returned the smile and spoke again. “In any case, I can’t imagine you having a crush on anyone. It’s not really part of your image, is it?”
Todoroki raised an eyebrow. His image…? What was his image even? “...Is that a bad thing?”
“No, of course not. I’m just wondering how sweet and lovely whoever it is must be, to have caught your eye.” Yaoyorozu sighed, sounding a little in awe, and Todoroki dryly wondered for the briefest moment exactly how she saw him, before he violently choked on his milk tea.
“Shouto?!” Yaoyorozu turned to him in concern and Todoroki just wiped his mouth and waved his hand, trying to suppress his coughing.
“Sweet and lovely”? Bakugou couldn’t be further if he tried.
Todoroki was pretty socially inept, and blunt in a way that sometimes came off as awkward, sometimes arrogant. But he wasn’t by any means shy, so when he saw his… “crush” (it was still strange to use that word) peacefully lying on a grassy bank by the classroom, arms folded behind his head, he walked up to him and sat himself down beside him.
Needless to say, Bakugou wasn’t very peaceful anymore after that.
He opened one baleful red eye into a slit as if Todoroki’s mere presence had offended him, and that scowl stretched his lips as always.
“Are you fucking lost?” Bakugou growled irritably, and Todoroki decided to ignore the clear “piss off”.
“No. I deliberately chose to sit here.” Todoroki replied as monotonously as he could manage, knowing it’d piss the guy off more. What could he say, it was just fun to purposefully get on Bakugou’s nerves. And he was one of the only people who were brave enough to.
“Hah? You looking for a fight, Icyhot?” Bakugou curved his fingers and let off a few warning blasts in his open palm. It was so typical Todoroki found himself smothering a smile.
“That’d be you.”
So eloquent. Todoroki wondered why Bakugou sometimes chose to speak exclusively with various grunts and swear words like a typical brainless brute, when he knew the guy was sharp and brilliant, practically a genius. Todoroki merely shrugged, straightening his fingers in Bakugou’s direction and casually freezing the budding explosion in the centre of Bakugou’s hand.
“...What the fuck, you can do that?!” Bakugou almost screeched after a dumbstruck second of staring at the frozen sphere of light that hovered over his palm, before dissipating and falling back onto his hand in little frozen droplets of nitroglycerin. Todoroki savoured the shocked, if infuriated expression on his face. It wasn’t often that he could catch Bakugou off guard with his Quirk nowadays, seeing as they sparred together so often.
“Only because your hand is nearby, and you’re not focused.” Todoroki shrugged again, and Bakugou looked speechless. It was an unexpected victory that Todoroki was practically singing over, but he restrained himself just to a small, smug smile. Bakugou continued staring at him, mouth ajar, red eyes wide and searching, and Todoroki had to consciously cool his face down with his Quirk.
“You’re- I… Fuck. Why are you here anyway? Is there a reason you’re sitting so close to me you can freeze my fucking sweat?” Bakugou growled agitatedly and Todoroki looked at the distance between them mildly. This could hardly be called close. There was about half a metre between them, Todoroki sat closer even to Uraraka. But then again, the radius of Bakugou’s personal space bubble was on average ten metres or so.
“Because… we’re friends?” Todoroki tried for a calm, non-provocative tone, but of course Bakugou took it as a challenge anyway.
“Who in the hell is your friend, Ice Prince?” Bakugou sneered, and Todoroki paused, trying not to show any sign of hurt. Did Bakugou forget what he’d said a couple of days ago? Sure, it was the most half-assed confirmation that they were in fact not enemies Todoroki could’ve received, but he would’ve thought it wasn’t just a careless comment thrown out, Bakugou being as inclined to shun all other human beings as he was.
“‘We’re friends’ is easier to say than ‘we aren’t not friends’.” Todoroki pointed out neutrally instead of second guessing himself, subtly reminding Bakugou in case he really had forgotten. Or maybe that had just been Bakugou’s instinctive response to the distasteful notion of friends. That was more likely. Bakugou tensed a little at that, and he didn’t reply for a second.
“Ah, whatever. You’re so fucking weird, just don’t talk to me, alright? I can feel my IQ dropping.” Bakugou grumbled and turned over onto his side to face away, head resting against the crook of his elbow. But he didn’t tell Todoroki to go away. Todoroki smiled and entertained the thought of running his fingers through that spiky hair as he sat there beside Bakugou on the grassy bank quietly, letting him nap in peace.
That night, Todoroki couldn’t get to sleep.
It was a pretty common occurrence, something he’d grown up used to dealing with, but the bouts of insomnia hadn’t plagued him for a while now. It was around 3am but he decided to go downstairs and walk around a bit, instead of trying to force sleep to come.
He paused as he got to the kitchen and saw the light was on.
“Oh. Hey.” Todoroki called quietly from the doorframe and Bakugou looked up from his cereal bowl like he’d been caught while committing a murder. His eyes rested on Todoroki and narrowed slightly, before tension left his hunched over frame. Todoroki was a simple guy, pleased by very small, simple things, such as Bakugou relaxing a little when he saw him.
“Why’re you down here at ass o’clock in the morning?” Bakugou asked, and wow, apparently he did have an inside voice. It was nice and smooth. Todoroki took a seat at the other end of the short counter, feeling slanted eyes boring into him.
“Why are you? Who eats cereal at 3am?” Todoroki fired back with a small smile and Bakugou flipped him off, though he didn’t shout at him like he might’ve during the day.
“I do, shitface.” Bakugou scowled and shovelled a spoonful into his mouth as if to prove a point.
“Do you always?” Todoroki asked curiously, and Bakugou shot him a flat, “why are you still breathing” look.
“I get hungry a lot around this time yeah, because I eat and go to sleep early. What’s it to you, Japanese Flag?” Bakugou glared challengingly and Todoroki blinked in surprise, before accidentally letting a quiet laugh slip out. “Japanese Flag”? Because it was red and white? That was a new one. His laugh must have irritated Bakugou, who turned his attention back to his cereal with an exponential increase in intensity.
“Maybe you shouldn’t eat and sleep so early, then.” Todoroki suggested mildly, and Bakugou barely spared him a glance.
“Maybe you should go to hell.”
Todoroki couldn’t help it, he laughed a little again, quickly bringing his fist up to his mouth to try to suppress the giggle. God, it was just so typical. And he liked it, for some reason. He really did.
Bakugou was staring at him like one might regard a dead insect, and he suddenly burst out, in much greater and Bakugou-esque volume, with “The fuck’s wrong with you?”
“Other than my stupid empty face and my stupid split hair and my stupid braindead attitude?” Todoroki was almost grinning as he spoke, quoting the things Bakugou had insulted him about before. His response seemed to fuel the exasperation, disbelief and annoyance clashing in Bakugou’s contorted expression.
“Why don’t you get pissed off when I talk shit to your dumbass face? Why do you find it funny, and not in the way Mina and Kaminari and shit do?” Bakugou sounded nothing short of mystified, and maybe a little horrified, which just amused him all the more. Todoroki just smiled at him, and Bakugou seemed to glitch a little, a million expressions jerking across his face before he settled on the usual put-upon irritation, face a little red from… frustration maybe? He groaned and dragged a large hand over his face as he muttered, seemingly to himself, “Jesus Christ, you’re like Kirishima but on a whole new level of stupid.”
“Thank you?” Todoroki replied, honestly feeling a little flattered, but the incredulous stare Bakugou gave him indicated that it probably wasn’t intended as praise. Todoroki shrugged, explaining with a simple, “You like Kirishima, so.”
Bakugou sat there motionlessly for a few seconds as the implications of that sunk in. Then the cereal bowl exploded in his hands in a milky, flaky mess across the counter.
“First of all I don’t like- And what the fuck do you- What, you mean, what, so it’s a compliment to you if I liked you? Don’t just say weird ass shit like that, God, why can’t you just be normal for a few goddamn seconds-“ Bakugou hollered at full volume as usual, half rising out of his chair as he practically hissed and spat in outrage. Todoroki frowned as he glanced at the mess of the cereal bowl, and was about to tell Bakugou to keep it down when there was a loud groan echoing from upstairs.
“Bakugou, please,for the love of God shut up when we’re trying to sleep!” It sounded like Kaminari’s desperate cry cracking with sleep, and Bakugou responded, as expected, with an aggressive shout.
“Eat my fuckin’ ass, Sparky!”
“Gross!” Came Ashido’s muffled voice, and Todoroki rested his face in his hand for a moment, silently apologising to his classmates for instigating the disruption to everyone’s peaceful night. Bakugou was just… so fucking loud.
Bakugou blew air out of flared nostrils like an enraged horse, and sat himself back down in his chair with a thump. Then, like nothing had happened, he narrowed his eyes at Todoroki contemplatively.
“Okay, sayI actually like Shitty Hair… Which isn’t fucking true because he has molasses for brains, but. You sounded awfully happy to be compared to him because of that. Why do you want me to like you?” Bakugou asked bluntly, so bluntly Todoroki almost felt winded, and he wondered if this was what other people felt when Todoroki spoke his mind. And Jesus, yelling aside, Bakugou was just so… so sharp. Todoroki stared at him silently for a few moments, feeling pinned to the spot with those piercing red eyes.
“The milk’s dripping onto your pants.” Was not what Todoroki meant to say, but it gave him a few seconds of Bakugou looking down and cursing to steel himself to reply to his question. “Of course I want you to like me. Because we’re friends.”
A beat of complete silence passed. Todoroki fidgeted a little, unable to bite back a quiet, much less certain “Aren’t we?”
Bakugou stared at him for a few more wordless moments, though his expression looked infinitely calmer.
Then he sighed, running a hand through his unruly hair.
“Look, I didn’t think it’d fuck you up like this, but I probably… should’ve been, I dunno, clearer… or nicer about it before, and today as well, or some shit. I don’t fucking know. My bad, okay? We are friends, alright? So stop looking at me with that stupid kicked puppy face.” Bakugou grumbled impatiently, swatting at the air like Todoroki brought upon him the same irritation a buzzing fly might.
Todoroki on the other hand, was over the moon.
“Ah, I see.” Todoroki replied softly, unable to push down a small smile. Bakugou made a strangled noise and punched the table, cheeks a little pinker than usual.
“Stop that face too.” Bakugou demanded unreasonably, and Todoroki couldn’t help but snort.
“Then what do you want me to do with my face? Blank isn’t okay, supposedly kicked isn’t okay, smiling isn’t okay…” Todoroki replied dryly, a little teasingly, and Bakugou sneered at him again, all bared teeth and pointy eyes and yet Todoroki felt his heart thump.
“Well, fix your ugly mug then.” Bakugou spoke with probably the most condescending tone he could saddle his voice with, and Todoroki raised his eyebrows, taking no offence.
“I don’t want to hear you of all people telling me to fix my face. Your default expression makes children cry.” Todoroki pointed out, which, while being a jab, was also one hundred percent true.
“Fuck you.” Bakugou replied with no real heat behind it, even flashing Todoroki a lazy smirk. Ah, was he proud of it? Wasn’t a stretch to imagine.
Todoroki internally rolled his eyes and got up to start carefully picking up the broken shards of the ceramic bowl.
“The fuck are you doing, Halfie? Keep your pristine young master hands to yourself, I don’t need you to clean up my mess.” Bakugou growled unnecessarily as he swiped a piece away from Todoroki’s reach. It reminded Todoroki exactly why Bakugou was so very difficult and hard to like, as he bit his tongue to stop himself from replying with “I’m just helping like any other person would”. “Helping” was probably the greatest insult one could give Bakugou. But if he couldn’t handle Bakugou grouching over normal, inoffensive things, how could he possibly hope to survive being his friend?
“I don’t want anyone accidentally cutting themselves on these, so I’m clearing it away.” Todoroki replied with his flattest deadpan voice, and Bakugou just scoffed in disbelief but turned his attention to cleaning up the mess.
“Ever the fuckin’ hero.” Bakugou muttered, then paused as he seemed to realise what he said, and Todoroki laughed. He was laughing a lot around Bakugou, he realised.
“I sure damn hope so.” Todoroki replied blithely and Bakugou snorted, but when Todoroki snuck a look at him, his lips were twitching upwards. It filled Todoroki’s chest with something warm.
They cleaned up in silence for a while, Todoroki stepping outside to safely deposit the broken shards into the bin as Bakugou wiped the milk and cereal off the counter and floor. Todoroki paused as he came back to the counter to see it positively sparkling under the kitchen lights. Ah yeah, it came as no surprise that Bakugou’s strive for perfection in everything extended to mundane chores like cleaning as well. Still fascinating, though.
“Oi, Todoroki. Why are you so obsessed with being my friend anyway? What’s with the sudden interest in me, Ice Prince? Thought you were marginally less idiotic than Kirishima and the others.” Bakugou suddenly spoke, voice much smoother and calmer than usual. It was more thoughtful than anything else, and Todoroki stared up at him in surprise at the lack of any challenge in his tone. He was a little distracted by the intent look in Bakugou’s eyes, that would only appear when he was giving something one hundred percent of his attention and focus. There were so many reasons, so much Todoroki could probably bore Bakugou to death with… but he just offered a resigned laugh, shrugging.
“Because you’re so… unapologetically you. I like it.”
Bakugou stared at him with a strange look on his face, something open, and miles more relaxed than his standard scowl, yet completely unreadable. Todoroki just stared back impassively, and Bakugou laughed, this low, barely audible sound.
“Y’know, I’ve been praised my whole life. For my Quirk, my talents, my brain, my body even. And still… that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” Bakugou grinned, and it was still more of a sharp smirk than a genuine smile, but it was the least evil grin Todoroki had ever seen on his face. He felt his breath stutter.
Bakugou snorted at Todoroki’s expression, turning to walk towards the stairs.
“You’re a real dumbass. Night, Frosty.”
And Todoroki went back to bed with a smile on his face, disproportionately happy for someone that just got called a dumbass. He’d never have imagined interacting with Bakugou would be anything close to positive, let alone leave him feeling a little floaty and dazed as he was, in a nice warm, drowsy way.
Then all signs of drowsiness and hopes for a good night’s sleep were unceremoniously shoved aside as he suddenly realised that Bakugou had called him by his actual name for the first time tonight.