Warnings: discussion of bullying.
The Kind Sort
Izuku’s life as far as he is concerned is full of uncomfortable and painful situations he doesn’t often bother calling to memory. He’s fine with this system of casual forgetfulness and he feels okay more often than not; when ill feelings present themselves there’s generally a way for him to redirect his attention to the sorts of things that hold his entire self on hold, until someone or something snaps him out of it and he realizes he’s let minutes go by unaccounted for. Uraraka has become especially good at managing this, almost as good as his mom.
He thinks, watching Kirishima brood on the floor of his still-unfamiliar bedroom, that he can’t really let that happen right now.
“Um,” he says.
Kirishima doesn’t bulge. He’s sitting cross-legged on the carpet, one hand closed around an All Might plushie worn soft by years of handling that Izuku is faintly ashamed of still having around. His mom packed most of his belongings for the move to the dorms, and he hasn’t exactly taken the time to sort through what is socially acceptable to have for a fifteen year-old boy.
This didn’t bother him before. But he didn’t live with a bunch of other fifteen year-olds before, either.
The skin on the back of Kirishima’s hand cracks with a small sound, and All Might’s stuffed head swells a little. Izuku winces.
“Man,” Kirishima says brightly. He’s still looking at the floor. “Sorry about that, dude. I really didn’t mean to bother you this late.”
“It’s fine,” Izuku replies automatically. It’s past midnight and you’ve been sitting here for ten minutes, he doesn’t add. That’s the sort of comments his mom told him were a bit too direct.
He clears his throat, shifts as lightly as he can on his bedspread. “Er… did you need to talk about something, Kirishima-kun?”
“Nope,” Kirishima lies.
Izuku gnaws on his lip lightly.
“Okay, yeah,” the other boy amends. He’s lifting his head at last and glancing cursorily around the room. He’s seen it before. They all have. Still, he pauses on the posters and the figures and the books as if they’re the most interesting things he’s ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.
“What’s up?” Izuku tries weakly again. There’s fatigue along the muscles of his legs from the weight of his new hero costume, and a quick look at the dark stains around the collar of Kirishima’s top is enough to tell him that the other hasn’t bothered showering before showing up here.
Kirishima raises the All Might plushie to eye-level and puts it down again. “It’s about Bakugou,” he says slowly. He turns his head to look at Izuku after that, and Izuku schools his face into one of nonplussed curiosity.
Kirishima makes a face at the nickname. “Yeah, yeah. Him.” As if he can encompass everything Bakugou is in a single word. Izuku could empathize, but he doesn’t really want to.
He kicks his leg softly against the foot of his bed. “Did something happen between you too?”
And then Kirishima blushes a deep red, stark and ugly against his dyed hair even in the dark of the bedroom.
Izuku really, really doesn’t want to have this conversation.
Kirishima pushes against his hands to lift his hips off the floor and turns sideways to sit in his direction.
“I kind of,” he hesitates. “I sort of. Ugh,” he lifts a hand to rub at his forehead; the skin along its back is still cracked and rough, like stone, and when he lowers it the space between his eyebrows scratched-raw red. And then, “He’s awful to you, right?”
There’s something disgusting unfolding at the hollow of Izuku’s stomach now, a familiar emptiness he’s only just begun to learn how to deal with. He swallows when his eyes meet Kirishima’s and immediately looks down to the straps of the boy’s tank top instead. “It’s fine,” he says again.
“It doesn’t look fine,” Kirishima protests immediately, blunt and honest as he always is. “He’s always insulting you. I mean, he always insults everyone, but with you it looks personal, and he talked about how he’s been treating you before UA too—” He must catch the face Izuku is making then, because he stops in his tracks. “Shit, sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Izuku says hollowly.
Kirishima’s mouth turns to a frown.
“Kacchan’s been avoiding me since we went to save him,” he adds with a shaky smile. “He’s not talking to me at all. And I don’t care anymore what he says about me, anyway. So it’s fine.”
Kirishima grabs his hand so suddenly that Izuku feels his heart jump in his chest and his entire body white out into shock—when he comes back to himself his blood is pulsing at his throat and Kirishima’s eyes are shiny with wet.
“You’re my friend, Midoriya,” he says, voice heavy with emotion.
Izuku tugs uselessly against the grip of his hand. “Uh, yeah. I know. You’re my friend too.”
“Shit,” Kirishima says. He rubs the tears from his eyes with his other arm. His skin is still rough against Izuku’s hand, and Izuku stops trying to untangle his wrist for fear of cutting himself. “I just, I just feel really shitty about this, you know.”
“About what?” Izuku replies in confusion.
Kirishima takes a breath. “I really like Bakugou,” he says shakily. “But you’re my friend, and he’s been horrible to you. I don’t even know how horrible, but what I know is already enough to make me feel like crap.”
The ugly goo-like thing inside Izuku’s stomach has congealed into place and filled him to the bones now. He’s not sure if Kirishima is asking him for details or not, but either way he doesn’t want to give them. It’s enough that he knows the sort of words Bakugou has hurled at him in the past like rocks.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he rasps out.
He immediately knows that it was the wrong thing to say. Kirishima looks like he’s been struck, or like the ground is opening beneath him to swallow him whole. He lets go of Izuku’s hand.
“I’m sorry.” He’s standing up, now, and Izuku bites his tongue until blood fills his mouth, but he still can’t find the words to stop him. All Might’s stare from a nearby poster looks almost accusing.
Kirishima is almost at the door, shoulders drooping on self-blame maybe, and it looks comical, sort of, with the way gel has stopped holding his hair upright somewhere during the day and red locks are falling over his damp nape.
Izuku rises from his bed and walks the distance separating them. His hand closes on Kirishima’s shoulder where the skin is soft and human-like. “Wait, Kirishima-kun.”
“I don’t want to bother you anymore,” Kirishima replies lowly, and Izuku clenches his teeth and turns him around by force.
“I said wait,” he growls.
He’s not sure how exactly to keep going. You still haven’t told me what’s bothering you, he thinks would be a good start, except Kirishima did, even if too obliquely for Izuku’s head to figure out without hurting. He’s not good with words.
“I don’t mind that you like Kacchan,” he settles on. Kirishima winces like he’s just swallowed something really sour, so he tries again: “I don’t. It’s fine.”
“I,” the other halts, “I really. Really. Like him.” And he looks at Izuku as if he can drive the concept to full understanding, as if Izuku hadn’t caught its meaning the first time he said it.
“I’m happy for you,” Izuku replies.
Kirishima flushes again. A stray strand of hair shivers against the soft of his cheek.
Izuku can’t bite his lips now, not with Kirishima staring straight at his face, so he settles for rubbing his free arm against his side along the length of the biggest scar there. His mouth feels dry.
“I don’t want to hurt you by going out with your bully,” Kirishima mutters.
“You’re not,” Izuku says, and Kirishima snorts loudly.
“You suck at lying, Midoriya.” But he doesn’t look as upset as he did before, so Izuku considers it a victory.
Izuku licks his chapped lips. “I… I have my issues with Kacchan.”
“You make it sound like you’re the guilty one,” Kirishima says bluntly, and, yeah, Izuku is not having this conversation.
He lets go of Kirishima’s shoulder to wave at the space beside them instead. “Look. You’re a good person, Kirishima-kun. You deserve to be with the person you like.”
“I don’t want you to feel like I’m siding with him,” Kirishima says again. Izuku closes his eyes.
“I know you aren’t,” and this is easy to say and easier to believe, “you’re not that kind of guy.”
“Kirishima-kun,” Izuku cuts in firmly. “I’m fine. I’m okay. I know Kacchan’s changed and that he hasn’t hurt anyone in UA, else you wouldn’t even have feelings for him. And I’ve changed, too. I’m not—I can defend myself. I will, if he ever does anything.” He smiles. “But he won’t, because he has you.”
There’s a infinity of shades to Kirishima’s face and currently all of them are different kind of scarlet. “You care a lot about him,” he blurts out.
The hole in Izuku’s entrails pulses deeply. When he opens his mouth to speak nothing comes out.
Kirishima seems to take this as a cue to hug him, and a second later Izuku is stuck between two arms—one of which is still rock solid—and a chest broader than his, slightly sticky with leftover sweat. It’s not very comfortable, but it soothes something in him until he doesn’t feel like his insides have been carved out of him anymore. Kirishima pats his back with a thankfully skin-soft hand.
“You’re such a great guy, Midoriya,” he says against his temple. Some of his red hair gets in Izuku’s mouth when he tries to reply, so instead he stands still and waits for the moment to pass.
They part after a few seconds, Kirishima with a soft smile on his lips. “We all like Bakugou,” he says, “but none of the others are forgetting the way he’s acted towards you either.”
There’s a knot in Izuku’s throat, and it tastes like tears.
“We’re not, like, talking about it or anything.” Kirishima raises a hand, scratches lightly at the back of his head. “But we all know it’s not easy for you both. Especially you. And if you need anything just knock, okay?”
“It’s past curfew,” Izuku says.
“Don’t be like Iida. What’s the point of living in a dorm if we don’t break curfew?” Kirishima grasps his shoulder firmly. “You seriously rock, Midoriya. I’m sorry Bakugou’s so horrible to you. You don’t deserve it.”
Izuku tries to find a way to push a thank you past his lips for an entire ten seconds. In the end he nods silently, which seems to be enough for Kirishima, because he pats him one last time before wishing him good night.
He stands still for a long while after the other is gone. It’s still hot enough outside that his window is open in invitation for cool air that isn’t coming at all. Izuku has already showered once tonight but he feels a little light-headed and a little disgusting, so he gathers his bath supplies with the intent to soak and forget the entire evening. It’s not very fair to Kirishima, who has been nothing but kind and genuine, but Izuku isn’t as fair as he wishes he were.
His phone buzzes right as he’s opening his door. He hesitates a moment before picking it up from his bedside table and opening the text.
ill punch him if he starts being an ass 🙂 sorry for being all mushy on you, Kirishima is saying, and something alleviates inside Izuku, some kind of resentment or apprehension he didn’t know he was holding like an open flame.
Kirishima’s the kind sort, he thinks. He hadn’t quite realized how much he wanted that in his life.