*~chapter one: punching bag~*
Kirishima felt useless. He had failed, but even knowing this, somehow, the blonde made him feel like a million bucks.]
Bffh- Bffh- Bffh-
The punching bag swung back and forth, the attached chain in the ceiling flourishing with it.
Bffh- Bffh- BFFH-
His fists continued to ram into it as he struck powerful punches over and over. He wasn’t even focusing on training anymore, he was just battering wildly.
BFFH- BFFH- BFFH-The redhead’s mind was fogged over, he couldn’t think, and he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to think about anything, he just wanted to take it out on the bag. He just kept punching, and punching, and punching, until-SNAP-
The chain holding the bag up yanked out of the ceiling as Kirishima reared back and blew a full force punch into the bag, emitting a vexed and frustrated cry. He had sent the bag flying across the gym. It didn’t go very far, only a few feet, but there was still a good amount of damage done.
Kirishima stood there for a moment, his hands still tightened into jagged, hard fists, his breathing uneven and his body covered in sweat.
His wrists throbbed and ached, but the pain was nothing compared to the intense adrenaline coursing through his body. He had never felt so fired up like this, not even in combat. It was all too clear why.
He was angry. He was bitterly, frustratingly, overwhelmingly angry. Kirishima always managed to keep himself positive and bright-sighted, although he would occasionally lose his temper during a fight when things weren’t going well. But after weapons would lower, and combat would end, he would always find himself cheerful again. He had to be- he couldn’t let his classmates see whatever disappointment he was harboring in himself.
But this week was sort of like the last straw for Kirishima, he had been pushed over the edge with his most recent failure.
It had to be during an exam, didn’t it? Of course it did, with his kind of luck, the redhead thought as he used the back of his hand to wipe a trail of sweat running down his cheek. He had himself to blame entirely, it was his fault for messing up like he did, costing him and a fellow classmate the victory.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
He was pumped about it- he was always pumped over a chance to show everyone what he was made of. And he was determined to succeed, no half-assing allowed. He trained, and trained, and trained until he started to feel sore on an everyday basis. He even lost sleep, spending that time doing push-ups on his bedroom floor, or by doing bicep curls with his quirk activated to hone his ability. He wanted to be strong- he wanted to feel good about the upcoming exam. But he didn’t know that soon he would regret not getting more rest, because it would be the thing that ended up keeping him from doing his best.
The exam was pretty special- it was a mixture of combat and rescue, and also worth a huge percentage of their grade. Much like the USJ and practical exam experiences, it would throw the teens into different scenarios that they would normally have a disadvantage in. The task at hand seemed simple by explanation: they would have to locate a mannequin somewhere on the field, the distressee. It would be guarded by either a teacher, playing villain, or a custom built robot, designed to excel in whatever environment it was in. And the students would have no clue who, or what, would be the villain.
All the students had to do was fend off the “villain” and carry the mannequin through the field exit gate to pass. Kirishima felt confident as Aizawa-Sensei explained, excited to find out what environment he would be placed with.
That is, until he found out that his set environment would be surrounded by water.
Watery areas were not easy for Kirishima to travel through. His quirk made that all too obvious, as he would sink like a rock, literally, when it was activated.
Plus- he was a terrible swimmer in general.
His partner for the assignment was Bakugou. He was sure this would make things easier, considering the blonde could use the force behind his explosions to travel through the air. Plus, the two of them were quite close, so partner work wouldn’t be a problem. Kirishima knew how to handle the ill-tempered boy’s explosive personality all too well.
But things went awry quickly. They hadn’t been able to scope out their environment beforehand, and Kirishima wasn’t expecting to be literally surrounded by water. They had to make it from the dock they were set to start at, to a small island off in the distance, about a mile away, to find their mannequin and bring it back in one piece.
He remembered looking over to his partner, and he took note at how calm Bakugou was, despite their circumstances.“Get on my back.” The order came gruffly from the other.
Kirishima did a double take, his eyes widening. “Wait, wh-?”
“You don’t do good in water, yeah?” Bakugou interrupted, his red eyes darting from the island to Kirishima. “I can blast both of us there. Plus, once we get close enough and spot the villain, you can let go midair and drop on them with an attack.” He paused, crouching a bit and glaring at the other. “Now get on my damn back.”
Kirishima felt a bit pathetic- he hadn’t even thought up any plans, and Bakugou seemed to have just pulled one out of his pocket like it was nothing.
He had obeyed, awkwardly clinging to the others back. Bakugou bent his legs, and the two were suddenly in the air, explosion-hopping over the water.
“You weigh a damn ton,” he snarled over the blasts as they neared the island. Kirishima snorted in amusement, his face heating up with embarrassment.
“Heh- sorry, dude-”
“Alright, get ready to jump, shitty hair!” he yelled, firing a strong blast, sending them both flying up higher. Kirishima’s gaze searched over the island quickly, until he spotted the mannequin on the shore, along with it’s protector. He felt his heart drop when he realized that their target was Present Mic. At least it wasn’t Cementoss again, he thought with relief, but Mic was still going to prove difficult. Before they could even attack they had to get close, and with his deafening volume, it could blast them back.
“It’s Present Mic!” Kirishima stated, his eyes fixated on the hero below. He felt his heart race with excitement.
“Alright- Remember, go for the mannequin! That’s all we need! Go, NOW!” Bakugou snapped, and Kirishima released his grip on the blonde’s shoulders, feeling himself plummet down towards the ground. The landing wouldn’t be a problem for him, he could just focus force into his legs to make the landing easier. But attacking without Present Mic spotting them would be easier said than done. As an announcer, he was bound to be incredibly attentive…
Kirishima’s heart continued to race as his gaze locked on his target. He seemed to not be paying attention to the redhead falling out of the sky, and Kirishima felt a burst of confidence as he activated his quirk in his legs and arms and prepared to attack once he landed.
But what Kirishima was afraid of happening, happened. Present Mic’s head craned upwards, casting a hype-crazed, Cheshire smile at him. He had known the whole time!-
Before Kirishima could react, an ear-splitting “FOOOOOUND YOOOOOU!” erupted below, catching the redhead off guard right as he hit the ground. The land didn’t go as planned, and he ended up slamming his legs awkwardly into the ground. Kirishima heard a sickening snap from his ankle, and he cried out in shock and pain.
He didn’t let himself waste any more time, despite his freshly snapped ankle. Once the ringing in his ears stopped, he forced himself to hop to his feet, his balance thrown off as pain shot through his leg. But he stood, wobbling a little, letting his adrenaline fuel his actions. His senses were scrambled from the shock of the landing and the noisy attack, but he tried not to let it overwhelm him. He forced pressure onto his foot as he ran forward, ignoring the pain, and reared back to throw a blind punch at the sound-bound hero.
He realized he probably should have thought of a better backup plan, instead of just running forward to attack at random. He felt a slender hand grab his fist before he could throw a hit, and once his blurry vision steadied, he was met with Present Mic’s unnervingly hyperactive grin.
“Woah-oah there, Rocky! Baaad move!” Mic’s childish smirk only widened, but his stare was disturbingly fierce. “Gonna take a bit more than that to-GYAH!”
The hero’s sentence was quickly cut off as an explosion sent both he and Kirishima toppling over. Kirishima didn’t think he’d ever been more thankful for Bakugou’s short fuse to rear its head, but he sort of wished he hadn’t knocked him down as well. He landed face-down in the sand, his already-sore muscles going limp.
“KIRISHIMA! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!” Bakugou snarled, lowering his gauntlet-bound fist. “WHAT PART OF, GO FOR THE MANNEQUIN, DID YOU NOT GET?!” he roared, teeth bared. The blonde was storming up the side of the beach, looking ready to tear someone apart limb-for-limb. He was seething, Kirishima didn’t even have to look up to tell. He groaned and steadied his palms against the ground, shakily pushing himself up. His brain was starting to go into a sort of sensory overload. The lack of sleep, the soreness, his ankle, his pounding headache, it wore him down fast.
Present Mic quickly regained composure, already on his feet. His gloved hand moved up to his directional speaker, and he flashed an excited grin.
“Howza bout we crank things up a bit for Boomy Boy here, eh?!” he cried, turning a dial to as high as it could go. Katsuki’s face went pale.
“Son of a b-!”
Mic opened his mouth, and let out a yell that was four times louder than before. The sound was so strong, it forced Bakugou back. He let out a loud scream of frustration, pain, and pure rage, shielding against the pressure with his arms in front of his face. He tried to walk against the force of the sound, but it proved useless, and he finally crumpled, his body blown back.
Kirishima felt like his head was going to explode with the shrillness of the noise. He wrapped his arms around his head, desperate to block it out. Overwhelmed by the chaos, he howled out as loud as he could, trying to handle everything going on with and around him.
Even when the hero closed his mouth, Kirishima continued to lay there in a ball, his body shaking, him heaving gruff whimpers as his head throbbed. He felt a surge of panic- he didn’t have a plan, he didn’t have the strength to stand, he didn’t know how much time they had left, and he didn’t even know where his teammate had been blasted off to.
“I have to...stand…” he wheezed to himself, once again trying with all the strength he had left to push himself up. “I gotta...I-I gotta… be a....m...man-!” he told himself, trying to cling to those words to use as strength, but now he was struggling to even push up his own body weight.
“I can...do this-!” he muttered through gritted teeth.
But these thoughts were cut off when a horn blared, signaling the end of the match.
“That’s the end of Match 1! Team Bakugou and Kirishima have failed the exam!”
Kirishima felt his heart almost stop. It was too much.
His stomach churned, and he was finally able to use his last bit of strength and endurance to stand on swaying feet.
He let his weary gaze drift down to his ankle. It was horrifically disoriented- he could almost see the bone.
His eyes widened wildly as he noticed a spider web of cracks shooting up his leg from his ankle.
His body convulsed at the sight, and he felt himself jerk downwards as he vomited, collapsing onto his knees once again with his entire being aggressively shaking.
Present Mic watched the boy from a distance, his hands on his hips as he clicked his tongue.
“Bummer… I really thought you two would’ve had this one in the bag, man. Buuuu-mmer.” he sighed, his gaze a bit sympathetic. But, he knew the teen would have to learn from this.
Kirishima felt like dirt- he was on his hands and knees, trembling violently and sick to his stomach, with his body covered in sweat and his ankle gruesomely twisted. He hadn’t landed a single attack. And Present Mic hadn’t even swung a single punch at either of them.
Kirishima stayed there for a bit, trying to muster up the strength to sit up, when he heard an outraged roar off in the distance.
That’s it. He was going to die. He was going to be blown to bits. He hoped Kaminari took the joke he had made about playing Bob Marley’s music at his funeral seriously, because he could sense it was coming sooner than he had planned.
Once the blonde approached him, he stopped in front of him, his hands curled into fists and his chest heaving angrily. Kirishima kept his head down, his eyes staring wildly at the sand below him as white spots of delirium entered his vision.
“Th’ hell are you on the ground for?! GET UP!” he barked, kicking his boot against Kirishima’s ribcage.
Kirishima’s head immediately jerked back, and he let out a wail of agony as his body jolted with the impact, almost falling on his side as his arms nearly crumpled beneath him.
Bakugou’s eyes widened at this reaction, he hadn’t even hit him that hard. But to the fatigued teen on his hands and knees, it felt like a crushing blow.
Then his eyes flickered to Kirishima’s leg, and he felt a shudder go down his spine at the sight. It looked like it was about to shatter like glass, with all the cracks running up his leg.
“...you look like crap.” Bakugou grunted, forcing his breathing to slow. It was true, the boy below looked almost unrecognizable to him. The real Kirishima would’ve fought his heart out, and would’ve easily landed some blows to remember. But this Kirishima looked honestly pathetic.
And Bakugou felt just the tiniest, itsy-bitsiest bit of pity for his teammate.
But of course, he wasn’t gonna make it too obvious.
He huffed, and crouched down beside Kirishima, grabbing his arm and yanking it around his shoulders. This earned a shaky groan of surprise from the limp-bodied boy, as he was starting to fall in and out of consciousness. He forced Kirishima to his feet despite this, supporting him with a strong arm around him. He was totally limp, and very, very heavy. Bakugou sighed gruffly, and carefully slung his near-unconscious friend over his shoulder, smoke emitting from his free hand as he blasted the two of them back across the water.
Once he finally woke up in Recovery Girl’s office, he was immediately greeted with a stern scolding from the old woman.
“I swear, you kids are out to kill yourselves! That, or render yourselves immobile!” she muttered with a shake of her head. All he could do was awkwardly chuckle and mumble a sheepish apology. She had a right to be upset, Kirishima had been a bit careless, and he couldn’t help but feel terrible. She finished healing Kirishima’s ankle as much as she could without him passing out again, then patted his broad shoulder reassuringly. “If I were you, I would thank your friend over here. He carried you all the way here without stopping!” she gestured to Bakugou, who was leaning against the wall in the corner of the room. Kirishima caught his gaze mid-scowl. His expression was a mixture of “I really wanna blow you to bits for being stupid” and “I’m worried but I won’t say anything”. Kirishima found it easier and easier to tell what he was thinking as they got closer.
“Don’t you ever do that again.” he grumbled.
Kirishima scratched his head.
Bakugou huffed loudly, closing his eyes and rubbing his temples in frustration.
“Quit overdoing your training, idiot,” one of the blonde’s eyes shot open to glare at him, “You cost us a good grade on that exam, all because you don’t know how to fuckin’ take care of yourself.” he explained reluctantly, rolling his eyes when Recovery Girl shot him a look for his language.
“Excluding that foul mouth, I have to agree with Bakugou.” Recovery Girl retorted. “All you’re going to do is hurt yourself if you overuse your quirk and overwhelm your body past its limits like that…”
Kirishima heaved a shaky sigh as Recovery Girl went on about taking care of his ankle, but he barely heard a word she said.
Now, a week later, Kirishima found himself already disobeying half of her instructions as he stood there in a daze, his frustration crazed stare burning into the boxing bag on the floor in front of him.
He lifted his still-clenched fists in front of his eyes. The empty, bitter, desperate feeling he had been feeling right then dissolved into panic as he spotted a small crack forming on each wrist.
“Oh god…” he breathed, his heart now racing due to anxiety instead of adrenaline.
He glanced around the gym- it was empty, from what he could see. It was dim, the only source of light being an overhead spotlight Kirishima had turned on. It was late, everyone else was in their dorms asleep, Kirishima thought-
“Oi, shitty hair, what’re you doing in here at midnight?”
Everyone, except Bakugou. Of course.
Kirishima whipped around to meet the other’s ruby stare, his gaze as condescending as ever. He was leaning against the doorframe of the gym, wearing a bathrobe, shorts, and a snarl. He looked like he had just woken up, and he didn’t seem too happy about it either.
“I asked you a question. Answer it.” he demanded, a chillingly calm tone in the other’s voice.
“Er...I was just… training.” Kirishima mumbled, his gaze quickly darting down to the floor, flickering nervously up to the boxing bag on the ground in front of him.
Bakugou followed the anxious boy’s eyes to the punching bag. After a few moments of silence, he suddenly busted out laughing, holding onto the door as he wheezed.
“Did YOU do that?! Jesus christ, Kirishima! I thought I was the only reckless bastard around here,” Bakugou sneered, still chuckling, and stood up straight.
“I’m not reckless, dude…” Kirishima grumbled, rubbing the back of his neck and shifting awkwardly onto his good foot. “I just… wasn’t paying attention to how hard I threw my punches…”
“Kirishima, don’t give me that. You literally ripped that shit outta the ceiling.” His voice was suddenly cold again, and Kirishima could feel his blood-red eyes staring into the side of his head. He fidgeted with his fingers, his eyes tracing out the shape of the cracks on his wrists.
Bakugou raised an eyebrow, and made his way over, roughly grabbing the redhead’s arm. “What’d you do?” he grunted. Kirishima yelped in surprise and tried to jerk his arm away. “H-Hey! Dude, cut it out!-”
“No, you cut it out. Let me see,” he snapped firmly, and Kirishima huffed, but stood still.
His nervousness grew as he watched the blonde examine his wrist with narrowed eyes. He watched his thumb gravitate towards the cracks, and Kirishima’s heart almost leaped out of his chest. He jerked away again, this time out of Bakugou’s grip, and held his wrist against his chest.
“Don’t touch it!” he warned, a hint of unexpected snarl in his voice. Bakugou just snarled back, grabbing his arm again with an iron grip.
“Quit running away from everyone! Especially me! Cuz I’ll just chase you the hell down,” he leered, but Kirishima could sense a hint of softness in the crude remark. “God, this is why I don’t like to help people,” he added under his breath.
Kirishima snorted a bit in amusement, daring a glance up at the blonde.
“That’s...kind of a hero’s job, Katsuki.”
The blonde huffed, raising an eyebrow. They both didn’t mind the other calling them by their first name, but Bakugou insisted it was only when they were talking alone.
“You know what I meant.” He yanked Kirishima’s arm closer, almost pulling the sturdy male off balance.
“More cracks?!” Bakugou exclaimed, his brows furrowed. He growled a little, and roughly socked the other in the shoulder. Kirishima yelped in surprise, almost falling back and tripping over the punching bag on the floor.
“What the hell, man?! What was that for?!”
“To knock some damn sense into you,” he muttered.
“Every time you hurt yourself like that again, I’ll hurt you even worse,” he raised an eyebrow at the bemused redhead, “so you better not do this again.”
Kirishima rolled his eyes, stifling a chuckle and balancing himself again. “Alright, alright. I get your point, man.”
“That’s not enough,” he barked abruptly, which surprised the redhead a bit.
Kirishima felt himself hesitate, but he finally gave in.
“Alright. I swear it.”
“Good.” Bakugou grunted, seemingly pleased with the submission. “Now get the hell back to bed, you can train when the sun actually comes up.” He swatted the redhead in the back of the head, forcing him to move towards the door. He walked beside Kirishima as they made their way down the hallway together.
“Jeez, quit harassing me!”
“It’s not harassment, dumbass. It’s discipline.”
“There’s a fine line between discipline and punching someone cuz you like it, Katsuki.”
“Shut the hell up, Ejirou.”
“The hell are you laughing at?”
“Yamada-Sensei called you ‘Boomy Boy’...”
“Wh- SHUT UP! HE CALLED YOU ‘ROCKY’!”
“But Boomy Boy is a lot funnier-”
“Next time I’ll knee you where it hurts.”