Fan Fiction Contest Entries for DigiKumo 2020

Best Fic

Starved – by SurelyHeavenWaits
Franchise: Boku no Hero Academia

Best Happy Ending

Runaway – by Tobu Ishi
Franchise: Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 anime and Conqueror of Shambala)

Honorable Mention

Blindspot – by ScreamingLotus
Franchise: My Hero Academia

Honorable Mention

Business Lunch – by Blackjack Gabbiani
Franchise: Pokémon

Entries – Table of contents

Entries may contain adult content.

Love Burns, Love Heals – by Victoria Trost
Franchise: Hitorijime My Hero

(untitled Zelda haiku) – by Blackack Gabbiani
Franchise: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Akira on the Canvas – by Foxy Madarame
Franchise: Persona 5
(Not published online.)

Starved – by SurelyHeavenWaits
Franchise: Boku no Hero Academia

Found in Mistranslation – by SurelyHeavenWaits
Franchise: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Business Lunch – by Blackjack Gabbiani
Franchise: Pokémon

Blindspot – by ScreamingLotus
Franchise: My Hero Academia

Runaway – by Tobu Ishi
Franchise: Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 anime and Conqueror of Shambala)

Close Call – by revkingdip18
Franchise: Boku no Hero Academia

Love Burns, Love Heals

by Victoria Trost

“I’m sorry Natsuo, but it’s over between us.”

Anyone who says words can’t hurt is a liar.

“Love burns very hot in the beginning, but love can fade.”

The night air had an icy chill to it, but it was nothing compared to the icy chill in my heart as I wandered aimlessly through the streets.

How did this happen?? I thought to myself, We were so in love with each other! He filled my life with passion and excitement. I was sure that we would be together forever, that nothing would change the way we felt about each other. He was my soulmate, my true love, and I was sure that he felt the same way about me. But I guess that was all a lie. Love is for fools. My true love has cast me aside. I gave everything I am to him; he is my everything, he held my heart like no one and nothing else did. We were so in love and so devoted to each other. Being with him brought me so much happiness. We were happy and in love, so how did it end up like this?? It’s not fair! How could my love devastate me like this!? Love is a lie! There are no happy endings in love! Love is fleeting and will leave you.

I continued to be consumed within my despondent thoughts as I turned towards home. I didn’t think that anything would be able to break in and grab my attention, but the smell of blood proved me wrong. I glanced around, trying to find the source of the delectable scent that had reached me. That’s when I saw her. She was barely more than a child and was standing across the street from me as she fumbled to get something to stop the bleeding on her hand. It appeared that the old basket that was now hanging on her arm was to blame. A strand of the handle had broken and was now sticking up sharp and ready to tear at soft, young skin.

I shouldn’t feed right now… But she smells so good and I need something to comfort me…

“Pardon me m’lady,” I said as I approached her, “Are you alright?”

“Oh, yes, I just cut my finger. I will be fine but thank you for asking.”

Such a sweet, innocent little thing. She looks delightful. I bet she is a virgin too…

“Please allow me to help you tend your wound. A beautiful lady such as yourself should not have to deal with such messy things and you wouldn’t want it to scar because it wasn’t taken care of properly.”

“Th-thank you, sir, but I think I can manage.”

With the most charming smile I could manage under the circumstances, I gently took her hand, “Please, I insist.”

My charms, good looks, and innate vampire appeal must have done the trick because she quietly relented.

“Come,” I said quietly before leading her gently down the alleyway. Once we were out of view of the street, I lifted her hand and licked away the warm red liquid. She took in a breath like she was about to protest, but I looked her in the eyes with mine, which I was sure must be getting the slight ethereal glow that they get when I feed, and she became silent and transfixed again. I licked her hand until the bleeding stopped and then I moved my lips to her neck. My fangs extended and then slid smoothly through her delicate skin. I drank in deeply, letting her sweet blood temporarily take my thoughts away from my heartache.

I almost took too much that time… Thankfully she was still conscious enough to tell me where she lives and there was someone at home to take care of her. I guess I better go home now before I make a mess of anything else…

I locked myself away for a fortnight after that. When I finally showed my face again I realised that everything I looked on reminded me of him and brought my heartache back to the forefront of my thoughts. So, I got my affairs in order and left. I traveled from country to country seeking-- peace, answers, sometimes even I didn't know.

After a few years, my heartache became quiet, though my jaded view of romance and relationships was unmovable. Eventually I decided to return to Japan. Over a century after I left it, I found myself once again in The Land of the Rising Sun.

On a whim I decided to return as a high school student. Luckily, I was turned into a vampire young enough that it wasn't too hard to pass off as a teenager. It was during my time as a student that I met him, Kousuke. He was the first person to catch my eye since the lover who had broken my heart. Kousuke was an attractive young man, smart, determined, a bit rough on the outside at times, but he had a pure heart. I quickly felt drawn to him despite myself.

I never consciously or openly flirted with Kousuke, but I also couldn't stay away from him and couldn't help taking care of him. Though that last part could have also been because sometimes if I didn't make food for him, he wouldn't eat. His tendency to become blindly obsessed with problems until he solved them was often self-destructive if someone didn't step in.

After school we all drifted our separate ways. I did what I had planned to do from the beginning: opened a quiet bar in an out of the way location. Money wasn't a concern thanks to the wealth I had amassed over the centuries. I worked simply to give myself something to do. I'd spent the last few decades working coffee shops and bars and came to truly enjoy it. There was just something about being the person that people come to with their deep thoughts and feelings that appealed to me. I never claim to have all the answers or the best advice, but I do have centuries of experience that I hope people can draw from.

Bar Relax Mary ended up being a sort of home port for my high school friend group. Even after we went our separate ways, we ended up back together in my bar. I would never admit it out loud, but I enjoyed having my friends frequent my establishment. Especially Kousuke...

I wouldn't say I was ever truly in love with Kousuke, but if I ever fell in love a second time it would have been with him. I never opened myself to love him, but I would have accepted, welcomed even, a relationship with him. But it's too late for that now…

No rain was falling, but the dark, ominous sky threatened rain as I walked home after Kousuke and Masahiro's wedding. I had agreed to be the bartender for their reception because I had no good reason to refuse and Kousuke is my friend. I kept my neutral, bartender mask on during the whole event and now I was worn out and exhausted. This wedding had been a long time coming; it's been over five years since they started dating, but that didn't make it any easier to see Kousuke sealed away at last. I've said for decades that I would never love again and never wanted to be in love again, but on days like this I couldn't deny the emptiness and longing I felt…


"Why? Why why why??" Yabase fumed at the darkness as he repeatedly kicked a discarded box that was sitting in the alleyway, “Why did he have to leave me? We were supposed to be together forever. He was the only person I cared about, the only person who understood me. We were the same, or at least that’s what I thought. This is so unfair! Why does he get to go off and be happy without me??”

Yabase kicked the box with such force that it flew into the air and landed a few feet away from him. He turned then and noticed the dark-haired man looking at him.

“What?” Yabase snapped.

“Want to come in?” I asked, “The first drink will be on the house.”

I unlocked the door to my bar and went inside. The young man followed me warily and sat down at the bar while I busied myself getting things set up.

“What would you like?” I asked.

“Whatever,” the young man asked shortly.

There was silence as I pulled out a glass and started mixing a simple drink.

“Here you go,” I said as I set the glass before him.

He looked at it for a moment, smelled it, then shrugged and downed it in a single gulp. Silence again filled the room as he swirled around the remaining drops in his glass. He was clearly deep in thought, so I left him alone for a moment before I spoke.

“Would you like to talk about it?” I asked gently, “I don’t know if I will be able to help you, but at the very least I am a trustworthy ear if you need one.”

“It’s nothing.”

“Clearly it was something. Either that or you just really do not like cardboard boxes…”

There was silence again for a long moment. When it didn’t seem like he was going to speak, I turned and started cleaning up my work area.

“Have you ever been betrayed by someone?” he asked quietly.

“Yes,” I said as I turned back to face him.

“How did you deal with it?”

“Well, I was upset for a long time, but then eventually learned to accept what had happened and to try to move on.”

“You make it sound so easy.”

“It wasn’t. I still struggle with it. Especially on days like today…”

Quiet again filled the room as we both drifted into our own melancholy thoughts.

“I thought this place was closed today,” the young man said at last.

“Technically yes. I was at a wedding all day, so I had to close the bar while I was away.”

“A wedding? Ironic…”

“How so?”

“The person who betrayed me got married today.”

He can’t be talking about Masahiro, can he? He does look like he is around the same age and like he could be in a gang… “Did you go to the wedding?”

“No! You couldn’t pay me to see that! It was bad enough when he chose him over me to my face five years ago!”

“Pardon me for asking, but what is this person’s name?”


I knew it. “Were you in love with him?”


“When you say he betrayed you, do you mean he fell in love with someone other than you?”

Yabase opened his mouth as if to retort, but nothing came out. After a short moment he looked down at the bar top and quietly said “yes”.

“I see. That is a very painful form of betrayal.”

We were both quiet for a moment before Yabase spoke. “Have you been betrayed that way?...”

I let out a breath. I normally try to avoid talking about myself, but I was worn out and this young man felt like a kindred spirit. “Yes. Twice. Years ago I had a lover. I thought we were soulmates destined to be together forever, but then out of nowhere he abandoned me. After I finally started to get over him, I met a man who I liked, but he never saw me as more than a friend and today he married a young man and in doing so sealed himself off from me forever…"

“Are you talking about the guy Masahiro married?”


“I guess we have both had crap days then.”

“It wasn’t too bad for me. At least I got to see Ko happy, even if I wasn’t the one who was making him happy. It could have been worse. But yes, it has been a long, rough day.”

“You do look pretty worn out.”

“Oh, do I? I thought I was hiding it better. I generally try not to show my emotions too much in front of customers. But I had to do that for hours at the wedding, so I’m not surprised that my mask is slipping now, which is why I closed the bar for today.”

“But you let me in.”

“That is true.”

“So why did you?”

“Because you looked like you needed a place to take your emotions. And when you were kicking the box you said somethings that reminded me of myself and what I had gone through, so I guess I felt a sort of connection and understanding with you.”

The room got quiet again for a few minutes as we both drifted into our own thoughts. Finally, Yabase spoke. “Well I should probably get going. How much for the drink?”

“Don’t worry about it, it’s on the house this time.”

“Ok, thanks. Um, would it be alright if I come here again?”

“Yes, of course. Bar Relax Mary is always here for those who need it. I would be happy to have you at my bar whenever. Though I should probably warn you that Kosuke and Masahiro come here quite a bit, though you will be safe from seeing them for a couple weeks.”

“Good to know, thanks. Well, see you around I guess.”

“Before you go, would you mind telling me your name?”

“Yabase. You?”


As soon as Yabase left I closed up the bar properly. With little ceremony I locked the doors, turned out the lights, and escaped into my private residence upstairs. As I entered the apartment, I kicked off my shoes and pulled off my tie and coat before tossing them aside. I went into the kitchen and grabbed a bag out of the fridge, sinking my fangs roughly through the plastic to get to the red liquid within. I then went into the sitting room and allowed myself to melt into the armchair.

The exhaustion and emotion of the day left my breathing shaky and uneven. I an attempt to relax, I got up and turned some classical music on then lay down on the sofa. Mary came out of whatever place she had been hiding all day and hopped up onto my chest. Somehow the cat always seemed to know when its presence would be comforting. I focused on the notes of the music and the feel of the black fur against my fingers and drifted into the state of still thoughtlessness which was the closest my vampire body would ever get to sleep.

A couple days later Yabase returned. The bar was relatively busy at the time, there were two people sitting at the counter and a group of three sitting at one of the tables. Yabase ordered his drink at the bar then took it to the table in the back corner. I continued my work as usual, making drinks, cleaning the bar, offering a listening ear to the people on the bar stools. Eventually the customers started to leave until Yabase was the last one.

"Can I get you another drink, Yabase?" I asked as I walked over to his table.

"No, just the one is fine today."

"How have you been?" I asked as I collected the dishes from the table next to his and wiped it down.

"Fine, I guess. Just the usual. You seem to be doing well."

"I suppose so."

"You seem to be a natural at talking with people."

"Not really, I've just had a lot of practice."

"Well I think it is amazing."

"How so?"

"You can make connections with anyone, you're never alone."

"That's not true. Just because I talk with customers doesn't mean I'm not alone myself. The customers aren't really talking to me, they are talking to a version of me, the perfect bartender I try to be. Even my friends don't really know me. There are parts of me and my life that I don't let anyone know because they wouldn't understand it. So, saying I'm never alone is definitely a false statement."

"I'm sorry, I should have known better. I'm also an example of looking like I'm not alone even though I am."

"How so?"

"I've been in Toru's gang for years and spend most of my time with those guys, but none of them really know or understand me. They do accept me and bring me into their group when no one else does, but still they don't do anything for the loneliness I feel. Only… only Masahiro made me feel like I had someone else in the world… But now..."

“But now he is gone.”


"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"You said you lost someone close to you before, right?"

"Yes. My lover abandoned me. One day he just stopped loving me and moved on to someone else."

"How did you cope?"

I sighed and sat down across from him. “To be honest, at first I didn’t cope. I shut myself inside for over a week and refused to go out or see anyone. After that I ran away and traveled so that I wouldn’t have to face places and people that reminded me of my lover. Eventually I decided that if my lover could abandon me then I could abandon him, so I pushed him out of my heart and mind. Around that time I also started working in coffee shops and bars. I used other people’s problems and emotions as a way to ignore and work past my own.”

“I wish I could run away, but without the gang I have nothing.”

“I wouldn’t suggest running away. I did, but that’s because I was immature and foolish. It’s much better to find an escape closer to home.”

“Like here?...”

“Yes, like here.”

"I just wish I had someplace to belong. It would make the loss of Masahiro easier to bear. The guys in the gang don't care about what I'm going through and don't even try to understand. I live in gang's base, but I feel so alone and isolated there."

"It is hard when you don't have anyone to turn to, but I'm always here. I'm not sure how much help I can be, but I'll do what I can."

"Thank you."

"Do you really not have any family or friends you could turn to?"

"The gang is the closest to friends that I have. I have no family to speak of. My parents were addicts who became estranged from their families before I was born. I know nothing about my extended family and don't even know where my parents are at this point, they ran off when I was in middle school."

"That must be tough. I haven't let people too close to me for a while, but I still have people I can turn to if I need them. Seriously, if you ever need anything just ask."

"If you ever have any leads on jobs, I could do that would help. I've been wanting to get out of the gang and start living on my own, but I need money for that."

"I can't offer you much, but I could hire you to do some things for me here. It would probably be mostly cleaning and such before opening and after closing, but if you would like to learn bartending, I could teach you that also."

"At this point I will do almost anything to make some money, so I will do whatever you need me to do."

After that Yabase started working for me. At first he just helped with dishes and odd jobs when the bar was closed, but soon he was helping during open hours also. He was a devoted student and picked up my lessons quickly. He soon became a dependable worker and spent almost as much time at my bar as away from it.

A month or two after Yabase started working at the bar, Kosuke and Masahiro visited for the first time. It was a slow night and I was checking inventory in the back when they came in. Yabase started the standard greeting we had for customers, but then fumbled through the ending.

"Ya-yabase? What are you doing here?" Masahiro asked.

"I-I work here now."

"Well look who decided to return at last," I said as I walked over to try to save Yabase from the challenging situation.

"Natsuo, I never thought I'd see the day you let someone else behind your bar," Kosuke said.

"I am selective about who I let back here, but not impossibly so. How are you two doing? Settled back in after the honeymoon?”

“Yes, more or less at least. Right angel?”

“Yes, things have been great,” a blushing Masahiro said.

“He’s still getting used to being my husband,” Kosuke grinned as he playfully rustled Masahiro’s hair.

“Well I am glad to see that you are both happy. What can I get you to drink?”

“We’ll take a bottle of your best red wine.”

“You better be paying upfront this time. I don’t put fine wines on a tab, even for you.”

“You are never going to let me live down that huge tab I had that one time are you,” Kosuke laughed, “Don’t worry I can pay for it.”

He placed his card on the counter and I took it to run the payment. “Yabase, can you go get one of the vintage wines from the back?”

“Yes, of course.”

Yabase hurried into the back and I finished running the payment and then setting out two wine glasses. Yabase returned a moment later and handed me the bottle which I then opened and poured into the waiting glasses. I then sent Yabase to the back to do the dishes while I tidied the work area and listened to Kosuke chat about their honeymoon and everything that had happened since then.

Unfortunately, though expected, Kousuke chatted for longer than Yabase could reasonably hide in the back doing dishes. Because I couldn’t come up with a justifiable reason to send him elsewhere, I let him wipe down the tables while I tried to keep Kosuke and Masahiro occupied while they finished their wine. I caught Masahiro glancing over at Yabase occasionally, but he never made any move to approach or talk to his old gang-mate.

At last, the bottle of wine was empty and the newly-weds said goodbye. I shut the door after them and closed up the bar for the night. I then turned my attention to Yabase.

“Yabase, are you alright?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?...”

“You know why. You’ve told me how you feel about Masahiro-”

“Felt. I’m not in love with Masahiro like I used to be. Though… It was still tough to be around him and Kosuke. Thank you for sending me off to do dishes in the back.”

“You’re welcome, I’m just sorry that it didn’t take you the whole time that they were here.”

“It’s fine. It was probably good that I spent some time around them; hopefully it will make the next encounter easier. What about you? Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? You were in love with Kosuke weren’t you? So, wasn’t it hard to be around him tonight?”

“It definitely wasn’t easy, but I never really allowed myself to be in love with him anyways. Plus, I have learned to cope and be resilient.”

“You don’t need to put on a brave face with me…”

“I know and thank you.”

After that we finished cleaning and preparing for tomorrow in mutual silence. Kousuke and Masahiro came in a few times over the following weeks and each time it was easier to cope with.

“You two seem close,” Kousuke said out of nowhere one evening when he and Houjou were the only patrons at the bar.

“Oh, what’s this? Another boy has been caught in a snare of passion?” Houjou cut in excitedly.

“Calm down Houjou,” I said.

“You didn’t deny it,” Kosuke prompted.

“We aren’t dating if that’s what you’re getting at.”

“Not yet at least.”

“Believe what you will.”

After closing up the bar and saying goodnight to Yabase I settled into my armchair with a glass of warm blood. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, Kosuke’s words earlier were still swimming in my mind.

Are Yabase and I close? I never considered him being a romantic partner, but I guess it could happen… How do I feel about him?... I said that I would never love again, but I can't deny that I enjoy spending time with him… This place wouldn't be the same without him… I don't know if I would be the same without him… But letting him in would put me at risk of being abandoned again… And more than that, if he got closer to me, he would eventually find out about me being a vampire. I'm not sure how he would take that… Though I guess before worrying about vampire stuff I should see if Yabase is even interested in me as a man…

I didn't work up the courage to bring up the topic with Yabase the next day or the two days after that. Though neither of us brought up the topic of romance, there was a tension present that wasn't there before. As we were finishing work on the fourth day, I was about to bring up the topic when Yabase spoke.

"Natsuo?" Yabase asked somewhat hesitantly, "About what Kosuke said a few days ago…"

"Yes? What is it?" I asked as I set down my cleaning cloth and gave Yabase my full attention.

"Are we close?"

"I suppose so. Depending on your definition at least. What do you think? Do you think we are close? Do you want us to be?"

"What, um, well… I-I think we are close, but… but I think I'd like to be closer."

I let out a breath and allowed myself to take the next step. "I think I'd like that too. But keep in mind that I have a bit of a dark, messy past."

"I don't mind," Yabase said as he crossed the room so that he was now standing across the bar top from me. "My story isn't particularly pretty either."

"I said that I would never be in a relationship again, but I can make an exception for you."

“So, we are dating then?”

“Yes, if that is what you want, I am happy to date you.”

“It is what I want! I-I really like you.”

“I like you too Yabase.” I smiled softly and stroked his hair gently.

Yabase blushed sweetly at my touch but didn’t move away. After a few quiet moments I suggested that we get back to work, so we did. Yabase was fidgety as he got ready to leave after all the work was done. Finally, he built up the courage to ask for a goodnight hug. I complied and was surprised by how nice it felt. I hadn’t felt anything like it for centuries and hadn’t expected to ever feel anything like it again, but in that moment I was again feeling the gentle warmth of the embrace from a special person.

The weeks went by and Yabase and I continued to grow closer. “I like you” turned to “I love you” and he spent even more time in my bar outside of opening hours.

“Yabase, have you figured out your housing situation yet?” I asked one evening as we relaxed after finishing the work for the day.

“No, not yet. I should have enough money saved up to move out of the gang house, but I haven’t taken the time to find anything yet.”

“What about here? I have a spare room that I could make up for you if you want.”

“Really?!” Yabase asked excitedly. “You would really let me live here with you?”

“Yes. You spend most of your time here anyways, so it would be a practical location for you to live. Plus, then we can spend more time together.”

“I’d love that.”

“Wonderful. I’ll start getting the room cleaned up and then maybe we could go furniture shopping this weekend. It will probably be at least a week before you can actually move in.”

“That’s fine. The wait is no problem.”

By the end of two weeks Yabase was fully settled in the downstairs bedroom and I was more or less adjusted to living with another person again. It took me a little getting used to at first. I have to be much more careful about what I do and say when there is another person around. I have to be particularly careful with feeding and where I store my blood supply. But I soon adjusted and we settled into a peaceful life together.

“Yabase, you seem completely different now,” Masahiro commented one evening.

“You think so?” Yabase asked as he wiped down the bar top.

“Yeah. You used to be a lot more… lifeless, I guess. You were always so reserved and kept everyone at a distance before. You had a kind of shadow that hung around you. But now you seem a lot happier.”

“I am a lot happier. I quit the gang a few weeks ago too.”

“You did?! That’s great. I’m happy for you. I was worried about you when I left. I knew you had a sort of attachment to me and that at your core you were a good person, but I didn’t know what I could do to help you so I just left the gang alone because I didn’t know what else to do.”

“You were worried about me?”

“Yeah, of course I was.”

“ knew I felt an attachment to you?...”

“Yes… at least that’s what I thought. Sorry if I was wrong.”

Yabase’s laugh surprised Masahiro. “You weren’t wrong. I was actually infatuated with you back then. There were even times when I thought I was in love with you.”

“Wait, really?? You were in love with me??”

“Yes. Or at least I thought so at the time. Though I have since felt love greater than what I felt about you. It took me a while though. I was a mess after you left and then again after you got married. I don’t even want to imagine where I might be right now if Natsuo hadn’t found me and invited me in on the night of your wedding. I know he would never admit it or accept the praise, but Natsuo is my hero.”

“I’m so happy for you Yabase! It’s wonderful that you have found someone and a new life with that person.”

“Thank you, Masahiro. I can now say the same thing to you too.”

“Hey Natsuo,” Kosuke said as I came in the room with his plate of food, “So I hear that you are a young man’s hero also.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your boyfriend, obviously.”

“Sorry, Masahiro and I were talking about how much has changed over the last few years, I guess Kosuke overheard us.”

“You don’t need to apologize, Yabase. I don’t care what anyone else may say, but I never considered myself his, or anyone’s, hero. I help out where I can and that’s all.”

“You still saved him,” Kousuke prodded.

“Perhaps, but I didn’t do it alone and who says he didn’t save me also?”

“Aw aren’t you both so cute.”

“Be nice Ko,” Masahiro said.

“Come on babe, I am being nice.”

Kosuke made his cheeky, mischievous grin, before turning serious again. “I am happy for you two and will always support you both. You know that, right?”

“Yes, Ko, I know and thank you,” I answered.

Weeks went by and then months. Yabase and I continued to live happily together. There was soon no possible denying that we were completely in love with each other. Our friends were even starting to hint at the prospect of us getting married. I wasn’t opposed to the idea, in fact, a part of me greatly desired it, but there was one more thing that I would need to deal with before the dream of calling Yabase truly mine could come true.

“Yabase, I have something I need to talk to you about,” I said after everything was done for the day.

“Ok, what is it?”

“We’ve been together for a while now and you are the most important person in my life. You are precious to me and I love you.”

“I feel the same way about you.”

“Which is why I feel I need to tell you something about myself. I have a secret that I don't tell anyone. But our relationship is at the point where we can't go further without you knowing this secret..."

"What is it?" Yabase asked when I didn't continue.

"I know I need to tell you this, but I'm scared. I'm scared that you will see me differently and leave me when you find out the truth..."

"Natsuo, do you really think so little of my love for you?!" Yabase asked as he burst out of his chair and stood over me. He softened somewhat and stroked my face. "I love you Natsuo. That will never change no matter what your secret is."

"I know, please forgive me. This secret may be hard to hear and even harder to understand, but please bear with me." I gave Yabase time to sit back down in his chair and then I continued. "This may be hard to believe, but I'm a vampire."


"Ok? That's it?"

"Does there need to be more?"

I was speechless for a moment. I never imagined that anyone, even Yabase, would accept my vampire side so quickly and easily. "Does it not freak you out?" I asked at last.

"No. I'm guessing you've been a vampire the whole time we've been together right? So, it's not like anything has changed."

"I-I guess that's true… And yes, I've been a vampire for hundreds of years."

“See, the only you I’ve known is the you who is a vampire.”

“But you didn’t know that I was a vampire.”

“So? I know you, don’t I?”

“How are you so chill about this?!” I asked a bit louder than necessary.

“I am chill because I trust you. I trust and believe that I know the real you, so learning this new fact doesn’t change who I am in love with.”

“But I’m not human,” I almost cried.

“But you are still Natsuo.”

Yabase stood then came over and sat on the sofa next to me. He placed one of his hands on mine and then ran his other one through my hair. “I love you Natsuo, not because of what you are, but because of who you are and how you treat me and the people around you. Whether human or vampire or something else it doesn’t matter, I love you regardless.”

At that point I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I cried from relief and awe and adoration for the man I get to love.

"This is new, I've never seen you cry before," Yabase said gently as I got myself back under control.

"I couldn't help it. I never dreamed that anyone would accept my vampire side so instantly and completely."

"Well I guess that means you never met someone who truly and completely loved you,” Yabase said as he wiped the tears from my face, “I can’t imagine anything that would change my love for you.”

“Oh Yabase,” I said as I reached up and kissed him.

“So many firsts tonight,” Yabase said after the kiss. “First cry, first kiss…”

“First time I have told anyone about being a vampire.”

“Your previous lover didn’t know?”

“He knew, but I didn’t have to tell him. He was also a vampire and it was his sister who turned me into a vampire.”

“I was going to ask how that worked, if you were always a vampire or were turned into one.”

“Humans are turned into vampires if vampire blood gets mixed into their own.”

“I see, sounds easy enough.”

“The transformation is easy but not fun, you get a bad fever and your body aches all over for a few days.”

“So, what is it like being a vampire? What parts of vampire lore are true?”

“Well let’s see… I need to drink blood to survive. Human blood is best, but I can live off of vampire, animal, or manufactured blood. I’m immortal. I don’t sleep. As you know I have no problem with sunlight or garlic. Crucifixes and holy water aren’t an issue either. Either a wooden stake or silver through the heart will kill me. I can see better in the dark than humans, but besides that my senses are the same as most humans. I have retractable fangs… I'm not sure what more there is to tell…"

"See, you aren't that much different than a normal person."

"I'm an immortal bloodsucker."

"Well yes," Yabase laughed.

"Do you really not mind that I'm a vampire?"

"Not at all. I love you Natsuo, no matter what. I have always been a lonely outsider, a delinquent mistake child that no one wanted or tried to know or understand. I imagine being a vampire must have some similar feelings and situations.”

“Yes, I suppose you are right. No one would accept me if they knew I was a vampire-”

“Almost no one.”

“Yes, almost no one would accept me if they knew I was a vampire. At best they would disown and ignore me, at worst they would attack me for it. I don’t blame them for it, I am inhuman after all. That’s why I would always keep people at a distance and never show my true self. I needed to protect my secret to protect myself, even if it meant my life was hollow and lonely. “

“Apart from the loneliness, do you like being a vampire?”

“Yes, I suppose so. The freedom of literally having all the time in the world is nice. And the diet of blood isn’t too bad once you get used to it. In some ways it simplifies things. Immortality when you are alone isn’t something to be desired though…”

“What about immortality with a partner who you love and who loves you?”

I looked up at Yabase unsure about what he was saying. A part of me jumped for joy at his words, but another, more jaded part of me, pushed that hope back.

“If you turned me, you wouldn’t have to face eternity alone,” Yabase said.

I was speechless for a moment as I tried to process what was happening. Yabase waited patiently for me.

“Y-you really want to become a vampire and spend eternity with me?...”

“Yes Natsuo. You are my whole world and I don’t want anything to ever separate us.”

I struggled to keep my emotions in check. But I was determined not to cry, not yet.

“Alright, I will turn you, but only under one condition.”

“No problem, what is it?”

I took a breath, got out of my seat and onto one knee in front of Yabase. “Please promise to marry me.”

“I promise. Nothing could make me happier.”

I couldn’t hold back the tears then. I pressed my forehead against his knee and wept. Yabase quietly ran his hands through my hair and across my shoulder while my emotions ran their course. Finally, my crying calmed down and I sat up. I was slightly surprised to see Yabase’s face wet with tears, he had been so still and quiet that I hadn’t realised that he had been crying too. His warm smile beamed down on me then.

“Get up here,” he said simply with a shaky voice.

I complied and stood up. I leaned forward and Yabase threw his arms around me. We then kissed passionately.

“I love you Natsuo,” Yabase smiled.

“I love you too, Yabase.”

(untitled Zelda haiku)

by Blackack Gabbiani

Calamity looms...
But there are dogs to be pet.
Zelda can wait, right?


by SurelyHeavenWaits

“Dude, you're going to be filling out paperwork forever,” Katsuki fights the urge to slam his keyboard into Kirishima's sympathetic face. The anger bubbles in his veins, molten lava flowing towards the summit of his mouth but he tries to halt it, to divert the vitriol before it can escape. “I can't believe that the station got so wrecked! Are they docking your pay, or do you think they'll be able to show the villain was at fault?”

He wins, just barely, and only by reminding himself that he can't take time out of his busy schedule for another agency-mandated appointment with his therapist. Besides, the idiot is on vacation for a month and Katsuki refuses to see anyone else, everyone else just cowers and tries to sling antidepressants and mood stabilizers at him without even attempting to find the source of the issue.

The plastic creaks beneath his white-knuckled fists as he closes his eyes and inhales deeply, and he hears Kirishima take a hasty step out of his immediate vicinity. The redhead knows the signs of his rage all too well and he clearly wants to beat it before Katsuki explodes.

“Ha, yeah, so I just stopped in before my patrol because I haven't seen you in weeks! I'll catch up with you later this week, I think we have a day off together! Later, bro!”

Katsuki wishes he could escape from himself, too.

He waits several seconds before exhaling and opening his eyes, before forcing his fingers to uncurl from the cracked plastic keyboard. He resists the urge to scream his frustration and explode the defenseless keyboard: he's not a teenager anymore and that kind of behavior isn't excusable, no matter how much it helps him de-stress.

Katsuki doesn't get it. He feels… he feels off. He doesn't understand why. He can't see a reason for the itch beneath his skin, the tightening in his chest. His lungs are a vacuum, sucking in air but it doesn't go anywhere, it doesn't do what it's supposed to do. The air is more like tar, coating his insides, sticking to his ribs, and weighing him down.

He doesn't understand why.

All Katsuki knows is that he's more volatile than usual: the anger seethes beneath his skin like a violent beast, ready to snap at anyone for the slightest offense. Kirishima hadn't said anything out of line: it was a perfectly reasonable question given the topic of Katsuki's report and yet, there must have been something on his face that showed the smoking embers he usually tries to smother. Something that told Kirishima to back off. Something angry.

The anger itself is fine.

He's used to the wrath, it's an old friend to Katsuki. He harnesses the overwhelming strength of his fury to fuel himself, to fight harder and for longer. To take down more villains and rise steadily up the hero rankings, to use that single-minded ferocity to save those in need. The anger helps him better himself, push himself. Keeps him focused.

It's the other things that bother him. The cloying despair that clings to his esophagus, drowns out all rational thought. Tells him things like you've pushed your friends away for the last time, they don't even want to touch you, they don't want to be in the same room as you, how are you supposed to save people when you lead to the complete destruction of an entire train station.

He knows none of it is true, he does. At least, he thinks none of it is true. He fights the anxiety away as if it were a villain he can blow up, with all the anger he can muster.

“Kacchan,” the voice takes him by surprise, he slings the smoking keyboard away as if it's… well, as if it's a bomb, and then growls when that freckled face beams at him, albeit nervously. He squints hard at the fidgeting nerd. A drumline must be practicing nearby, there's a beat suddenly so loud his bones are vibrating with the force of it.

“The fuck do you want,” he snarls, unplugging the keyboard and cramming it in the trash can beside his desk. Deku doesn't answer immediately, just goes to the filing cabinet and digs around in the bottom drawer for a minute before emerging victorious with a spare keyboard. “Hah?! How long's that been there?”

“The cleaning staff started leaving a spare after you exploded the last one,” Deku says cheerfully, expertly moving around Katsuki to plug up the new keyboard. It's even the same jet black with dark orange keys.

Katsuki jerks his hands away when Deku has to set it down, staying clear of the other's hands without even realizing it. One green eyebrow raises minutely but Deku wisely doesn't comment on the odd movement, how it's almost fearful, like he's running away.

“Anyways! I just wanted to see if you have a copy of your mom's curry recipe,” Deku leans back against his desk, on the far side of the desk but still close enough that Katsuki doesn't have that surging thought that he's actively trying to keep his distance.

Stupid, idiotic Deku. Of all people who should resent him, Deku should be number one. Instead, here he is, close enough that Katsuki can smell the bergamot in his body wash with a sincere smile.

“I have a recipe that I found online but it never turns out as good as Auntie Mitsuki's!”

“That's because you can't cook worth a shit, I don't know how you haven't killed yourself yet. I can see it now, 'Number Four Hero Dead Due To Food Poisoning.’”

His voice is mocking but Deku's grin only turns sheepish, not upset. His laugh is full of humor as he says, “You're probably right! But it's not like I can go to Auntie's when I get a craving for some good curry after a midnight patrol!”

Katsuki glares at him and curses that stupid drumline, wherever it is. He can barely think through the heavy beat resounding in his veins but he thinks… he thinks he sees something in those green eyes. Concern, maybe, buried beneath the amusement at his own poor cooking skills. Then he thinks about the waiting report–about the property damage, about the injuries caused because the villain had a heat-intensifying quirk and Katsuki hadn't known until it was too late, until his sweat was pooling uncontrollably in the palms of his hands.

And then he thinks about his empty apartment, about how the silence clings to every surface. Deafens and dulls every sound until his apartment is less of a home and more of a mausoleum, cold and silent and lonely. Until he's just another ghost haunting the hallway, just like his regrets haunt him.

He never thought he'd miss the days of living in the UA dorms, with all its ceaseless noise and rowdy teenagers with no respect for personal space. Never thought he'd miss how his friends were always nearby, screaming dibs over the tv or the game console and draping themselves over his lap and his shoulders until he craved their casual affection whenever his bitter regrets resurged to set fire to his heart.

Not until he had to come home to his lonely apartment after the third month in a row of their whole squad being too busy to meet up.

It's unbearable.

Deku is watching him, that concern eeking out into the faint lines creasing the freckled skin beneath his eyes, a symbol of the harsh weight of their job, aging him far beyond his twenty-seven years. His beefy arms are crossed over the straining fabric hiding his chest but Katsuki sees the nervously eager tremble that threatens to vibrate the dumb nerd into orbit.

“C'mon then, you incompetent stalk of broccoli,” he slides his chair back abruptly, wheels squealing over the tile. Deku jerks upright, eyes comically large as he watches him hopefully. “The corner store might still be open.”

He grabs his jacket, tugging it in over his charred top and battered jeans. The rest of his costume was trashed, too damaged by the rescue efforts to save those buried beneath the train station. It's only when he pauses at the door that Deku slams his mouth shut and scurries after him.

“Kacchan is going to help me pick out ingredients?”

Fuck that stupid drumline, his head is pounding as Deku smiles up at him, still short and stocky but Katuku knows who's physically stronger, who wins every spar they attempt with no Quirks.

“Fuck no, I'm not helping you,” Deku's face falls and Katsuki raps his knuckles sharply against his head until he brings his disappointed eyes back up. “Like I'd trust you in the kitchen,” he scoffs, and hopes dawns over the freckled horizon of his cheeks as Katsuki continues, “you're going to sit your ass down and do absolutely nothing but watch me because you're not ruining my curry recipe.”

“But I always watch Kacchan,” Deku has the gall to say, words far more innocent than the sly twist of his lips would suggest. The frantic pace of drumming shakes loose some of that tar, freeing his lungs enough that he can inhale deeply.

“Yeah, yeah, stalker fanboy,” he unfolds his fingers to ruffle those curls and Deku just laughs as he reaches up to grab his wrist. The touch is searing, hot, his fingers are branding their fingerprints over his bare skin, and Katsuki wants to freeze that moment forever… but he can't. Who would want to touch him for longer than necessary, when his hands are good only for destruction. He coughs to clear the smoke from his mouth, chest burning from something he doesn't want to name. “If that store closes before we get food, I'm giving you a beating.”

“Kacchan is more than welcome to try!”

He ducks out from under Katsuki's hand and darts down the hallway, leaving the blonde to chase after him, sputtering threats like air.

“I can't believe we made it before they closed!”

“I can't believe you gave them such a huge tip, who tips their cashier,” Katsuki barks back, following Deku up the stairs to his apartment. It was closer, or so the green-haired hero said.

“We got there ten minutes to close, it was the right thing to do!” Deku argues, shifting his bags to dig for his keys. He continues to argue even as he searches, until he holds them up with a quiet, “Aha!”

Katsuki just shakes his head and waits for Deku to open the door before shoving past him into the softly-illuminated entryway. He kicks off his boots with only a sort of stumble, catching himself before he faceplants on the floor. He tries not to think about how much more welcoming Deku's tiny apartment is, how inviting and warm but his chest eases slightly.

“Long shift?” Deku teases but he's already halfway to the kitchen, leaving the blonde to follow in his wake.

“The fucking longest,” he mutters to himself, shaking his head harshly to clear the image of Deku's muscular backside from his eyes. He's come a long way from the angry, emotionally-constipated fireball of his youth and he's grown up enough to admit the feelings he's struggled with for years but that doesn't mean he wants to face any of that tonight.

He plops the bags down on the counter and hip checks the nerd out of his way. He grins as he orders, “Scram, short stack.”

“Kacchan! This is my kitchen!” he protests, laughing as he sets his own bags down and begins to spread the ingredients along the countertop. “You can't kick me out of my own kitchen!”

“Oh, is it? Because I thought kitchens were for people who could actually cook,” he smirks when Deku shoves at him, trying not to lean into the touch. Those scarred hands linger a fraction too long on his back, as if he's reading Katsuki's mind and then there's a deep inhale from behind him.

“Kacchan,” he begins, voice far too serious for a tiny, dimly lit kitchen at one in the morning. Katsuki stiffens beneath his hands.

There's only a quiet, world-weary sigh, and then Deku slams into his back, sending him careening into the counter, catching him just as suddenly as he caused the axis of his world to shift. His arms tighten around Katsuki's waist, constricting around him until the air is chased from his lungs but it's nothing like the suffocating sensation from earlier.

Katsuki chokes, stunned by the weight at his back and the warmth suddenly enveloping him and he can't breathe but it's okay, he's okay, this is…

He chokes again, his breath scratching at his dry throat, but he settles his hands over Deku's forearms and just exists until the frenetic thrumming of his heart slows to a normal pace. Deku's forehead rests on the muscles between his shoulder blades, every puff of air filtering through the fabric of his jacket and shirt to graze his bruised back and he thinks he feels his lips press firmly to his cloth-covered spine but he honestly can't tell.

When his chest is no longer heaving, when breathing isn't as hard as trying to suck tar through a plastic straw, when the scattered thoughts in his mind finally settle, he gasps out, “Deku.”

“Breathe, it's okay, Kacchan. I know it's hard for you to ask for help, especially with something like this but Kacchan, I am here for you,” the words are muffled against his jacket but he feels them in his chest, in the burning of his glassy eyes. “Y-you don't have to ask me, I'll just be here if that's okay with you. Whether you just need a hug o-or whatever you need. I'm here.”

Fucking–of course, Deku would have realized what was wrong with him, before he did. He savors the warm embrace, sagging into those scarred arms.

“It's okay to want hugs, to need them. Touch starvation is a real thing, and it can really mess with your head, make you angrier, depressed even,” Deku begins to babble and Katsuki sighs heavily but there's no tension in the sound.

He's just relieved.

“We don't have to cook curry, I just didn't know how else to help. We can order pizza, just curl up on the couch and watch movies,” Deku rambles, and finally Katsuki decides to put him out of his nervous misery.

“I'm not hungry,” he lies and the nerd's mouth clamps shut. He can practically hear the anxiety skyrocketing and he's had enough of that tonight. He's just tired, he's so tired that his bones ache with exhaustion. He thinks if he falls asleep, he might sleep for a decade. “I just, let's watch a movie?”

“I get it,” Deku says softly, and yeah. Katsuki is pretty sure that he does. He detangles their limbs long enough to guide him to his sofa and it's… it's a replica of the one from UA. Maybe he's not the only one who misses those days.

Maybe he's not the only one who's cold, and lonely, and scared.

When Deku sprawls over the cushions, Katsuki sinks down after him, the moon following the sun across the sky but not quite. Because when he collapses into the overstuffed cushions, Deku's arms come up around him to drag him up the hard muscles of his chest. His head settles in the hollow of his neck, Deku's hand falls gently onto his soft hair.

When he exhales, Deku inhales. Exhale, inhale–repeat.

His eyes close of their own volition, and Deku's chest rumbles with a sleepy hum. The tar still lingers within him–angry and sad and vicious–but the warmth of Deku's embrace holds them at bay.

Exhale… inhale… repeat.

“We'll talk in the morning,” Katsuki slurs into his skin and Deku mumbles back a sleepy reply.




The two heroes sleep soundly, safely, warmly–no longer alone.

No longer starving.

Found in Mistranslation

by SurelyHeavenWaits

The world tips and spins at alarming speeds, a whirl of blurred green and gray shadows that makes him groan and slump as his stomach roils rebelliously. His forehead comes to rest against something cool, soothing the vicious ache that pounds behind his eyes. He’s so fucking hot, and he knows that that isn’t right, that it’s very decidedly wrong but he feels so weak and drained by the heat ravaging his body that he can’t do anything about it. A shiver makes him curse, makes him smack his head against whatever it’s resting on, and that’s wrong too; why is he shivering if he’s so hot?

A noise catches his attention, makes him blink and blink and blink, trying to clear the blur from his eyes but that doesn’t work, all he can see is dark, dark, dark. But his eyes are open so maybe it’s something in front of him? He raises a shaking hand to see if he can touch it but before he can, it’s yanked away from him and he falls forward, fully expecting to hit the ground but instead, he’s gripped by firm hands that wrap around his biceps like iron bands, like shackles, like… like an anchor. Because instead of feeling trapped, he feels safe; drifting but no longer in danger of flying away on a gusty breeze, he lets himself relax into the hands and by extension, the arms, that gather him up with a curse.

“You’re going to poke my eye out with this thing, Fullmetal,” he hears but the words flutter through his head like a butterfly in a cloud of smoke, pretty but vanishing before he’s sure if they ever really existed, “Hey, what the hell, brat. Are you drunk? God, you’re freezing,” the voice sounds so worried, but he can feel something and that’s more solid than the words, sinking into his chest and lingering like a cold. An ache that won’t dissipate but it… it doesn’t feel bad like a cold. It’s warm and painful, yes, but not… not in a bad way.

He wants to put that thought to words, but he can’t, his brain isn’t working, nothing makes sense.

Especially not the way his body is burning brighter with every brush of bare skin against his own, the fire centralized to the pit of his belly, an unfamiliar fire. A personally unfamiliar fire, but he understands the concept, even if he’s never really felt it himself before. A noise escapes his lips, a sound he’s sure he’s never uttered before, and the person holding him so steadily falters, grip loosening, and the noise turns protesting, head twisting to search out the person, hearing another curse as his head meets resistance.

“Stay still, this crown thing is pointy,” the voice tells him, so he lets himself go limp again, sure that they’re not going to let him go. Why do they sound so familiar? Why does being near them make his chest feel tight? “Okay, I think I’ve got it,” and a pressure he didn’t know was bothering him is suddenly eased, leading to a pleased sigh, although whatever it was is still stuck in his hair, dangling in the strands.

He’s pressed onto something soft and warm, although the warmth doesn’t bother him unlike the heat burning through his body. Something is draped over his body, but his sensitive skin hurts at the feel of soft cloth dragging over it, so he shifts until it’s dislodged, leaving him mostly bare.

“Fuck,” he hears, and then that odd sensation in his chest burns even more fiercely, badly enough that he clutches at the space over his heart, fingers meeting something smooth and soft and his brow furrows in confusion. It feels like… like… the word is on the tip of his tongue, but his mouth won’t open. “You’re killing me here. I need you to keep covered, okay? What the hell were you even thinking? Fishnets? Fucking… lingerie, my god,” the voice wheezes. “What if someone had seen you? You are insanely lucky! Or you could have frozen to death, it is snowing outside!”

He tries to force his brain to form words, mouth opening and closing several times before he manages to croak out, “Hurts. ‘M hot, it hurts–”

The back of a hand touches his forehead and there’s another curse, he’s hauled up into those capable arms, the world careening past him, or is he careening past the world? It doesn’t matter because he’s in safe hands and then he isn’t but he’s deposited on something softer than before, and then something cold and wet is settled so gently on his forehead, water trickling down into his hair and he blinks, trying to force his eyes to focus. They refuse to obey him, and the panic is starting to build, almost eclipsing the burning need in his belly, but the panic doesn’t really belong to him.

It does feel familiar though.

“Edward, I need you to answer me. If you don’t answer me, I will call Hawkeye and send you to the hospital.” The knuckles caressing his cheeks are so much more gentle than the words being spoken, not that he cares. He leans into the soft touch, the press of skin to skin somehow soothing, despite the feeling he has of his flesh melting off of his bones.

He blinks again and then finally; he recognizes the person half-kneeling over his feverish body. He tilts his head, whining when that hand starts to pull away, “Roy, Roy, stay–”

“Edward, who were you with? Did you drink something? Eat something? Did someone hurt you?” Mustang’s words pour out in a violent rush and Ed identifies that the concern on his face corresponds with the concern churning in his stomach.

Is he… is he connected to Mustang somehow? Are these Mustang’s emotions that he’s feeling? The–the arousal burning in his belly… Does that belong to him or to Mustang?

His arm–the flesh one, not the one made of metal–stretches upward, fingers splaying open, but he misses his goal, grabbing at short strands of messy hair instead of Mustang’s face. Something sears through his chest, so sharp that Ed gasps at the shock of it, eyes wide and awestruck and still glossy from whatever delirium is ravaging him.

“Roy,” he says, slow and thick and hoarse, trying to focus on the slow bob of Mustang’s throat as he stares down at him, “Roy, I think–” he cuts himself off, mind still scrambled but steadily clearing, almost as if Mustang’s presence is enough to… as if Mustang himself is a balm, soothing him, making him think more clearly. He shudders, his entire body shaking with it, and Mustang’s intently dark gaze follows the wave of it as it crests over him.

“You are a temptation,” Roy tells him, words dark but his knuckles rub gently upward, fingers uncurling to lightly touch Ed’s messy hair. “And you don’t even know it. Are you drunk?”

“No,” and of that, he’s certain. This feels more like an alchemical rebound, but he doesn’t have the words to say that, just now, can’t really say much of anything. But maybe it’s contagious? Because Ed doesn’t think that Mustang has ever looked at him with such… such… the word won’t come but Mustang has never been open with him, never been soft with him. He tries to speak, to explain that, and chokes on the words that won’t form.

“Easy, Fullmetal, take a deep breath. We’ll figure this out,” Mustang pulls away, likely to go call the Lieutenant, and Ed panics but this time, the emotion is all his own.

“Do–Don’t go,” he rasps, hand grasping at what should be Mustang’s sleeve, but it isn’t because–because Mustang isn’t wearing a shirt. It’s the most he’s ever seen of Mustang, all bare skin and bulging muscles, and he can feel the flush burning down his chest, the fire is spiraling out of control. “Don’t lea–”

His ragged plea brings Mustang back to him, has him kneeling at his side, those bare fingers brushing over his crimson skin as if Mustang can’t resist touching him.

“Edward, I cannot–I can’t stay here with you, something is… something is wrong. And I think it might–I cannot think–” Mustang’s voice is starting to mimic his own, rough as tree bark scratching against his soul; Ed arches toward him, hips jerking up to rut into Mustang’s thigh, whimpering at the soft slip of fabric over his skin. “God, you are a damned torment–” Mustang snarls, and then his hand is fisted in Ed’s hair, twisting the golden strands around his knuckles and yanking, and then their lips are smashing together, and Ed is both lost and found, ripped asunder and stitched together.

Ed breathes into him, air shuddering past his chapped lips as his hands scrabble for purchase along Roy’s sweat-slick skin, scratching up his forearms and curling around his biceps; fuck, has Roy always been so thick? His arms bulge with muscles, lending him an unearthly strength as he throws his leg over Ed’s waist and pins him between his knees, sprawled wantonly beneath him.

He squirms, trying to gain the freedom needed to press up into the heat of Roy’s body but the damned man is unrelenting; he keeps Ed’s hair tightly wound about his palm, jerking his head sharply to the side, and then his mouth is searing like a brand upon his throat, teeth nipping carelessly, desperately over his feverish skin.

“Fuck,” Roy groans, warm breath sending shivers along his skin. Ed’s ear falls victim to the sharp pressure of Roy’s teeth, biting his earlobe and dragging a moan from Ed. “Look at you, like some fallen god of old with a broken crown in your golden hair, all shattered divinity, just for me–”

Ed gasps but words escape him; he much prefers Roy’s poetic dirty talk, rumbling hot and dark in the shell of his ear. He wants to wrap his thighs around Roy’s waist, wants to dig his fingers into the meat of his ass, and yank him deep inside, wants Roy’s teeth gnawing at his fucking bones. “Inside, get–ah! Inside, please–” he begs, all breathy moans and raspy pleas, fingers painting bruises on Roy’s arms. “I need you, I need you–”

“How prettily you beg for me,” Roy muses, and how his words are so coherent when his hips are dragging desperately against his own, his mouth sucking harshly at any stretch of skin he can reach, is beyond Ed. “Fuck, that’s right, cry for me, sunshine. Give me your liquid gold. Look at how your makeup is leaking–” like Ed can look at his own face, like he can even decode Roy’s lyrical nonsense. “If only I had a camera... I suddenly see the appeal of immortalizing a moment, freezing your likeness in time forever. Would you like that? Would you pose for me? Wearing this exact lingerie, your skin all bound in silk and lace.”

“Roy,” he moans, dragging the sound out, hoping the sadistic asshole will finally read the memo written in the shaking lines of his body.

And he does, thank fuck.

The scrap of silk and lace across his chest rips, falling in tattered pieces on the bed, and Roy’s vicious mouth attacks the stiff peaks of his nipples in turns, lathing the skin before biting harshly, rising up on his knees to better mouth at the pebbled skin, and Ed seizes his chance; he shoves at the waistband of his panties, the fabric forever soiled by the liquid leaking from the slit of his cock, until he bobs free, fitting his flesh hand around his aching length with a hissed curse.

But then his hand is batted away and that dangerous mouth is sinking over him, lips wrapping around his cock and Ed can’t stop his hips from bucking up, crying out sharply, the sound trailing off into a shocked but silent scream as Roy sinks all the way to the base of him.

“Fuck, oh my god, Roy, Roy, Roy,” Ed chants, the words slurring together as Roy devours him, his teeth occasionally scraping over his most-sensitive skin, dragging out hoarse screams whenever that delectable tongue darts down, swiping at his balls or lower, where his hole is already stretched wide–had he fucked himself before he managed to make it to Roy’s house? Or is this part of whatever is affecting them? Shit–much to Roy’s whispered delight.

Roy’s magnificent fingers sink into his thighs, pulling him up and he is going to be so sore when they’re done but for now, he allows himself to be manhandled into whichever contortion of his limbs gets Roy’s tongue deep inside him, until Ed’s legs are tucked beneath him, shoulders shoving into the bed in an attempt to shove himself closer to Roy. He curls upward, fingers twisting around Roy’s dark hair, shouting a garbled warning as he teeters on the edge of what promises to be an amazing orgasm–

But then Roy pulls away, leaving Ed to fall to the bed like a marionette with its strings suddenly cut, sobbing out at the injustice of the perceived robbery before Roy is back over him, pressing down into him, hands ripping at the fishnet stockings and the delicate panties, blazing a trail for his hips to settle in the cradle of his body, the head of his cock nudging hard and hot and heavy against his gaping hole.

“Yes, yes, yes! Please, please, Roy–” Ed’s words cut out as Roy shoves inside him, hands resting just above his knees to hold his thighs wide open for Roy’s larger frame. His mouth falls open, eyes filling with tears of pleasure at the pressure splitting him in half. His hands bury in his own hair, getting caught on the damned crown with a pinch of pain as the spokes stab at his flesh hand.

“Fuck,” Roy snarls, and he looks like a wild beast, dark eyes and flared nostrils, lips stretched over his bared teeth as he fights to hold still, to let Ed adjust to his girthy cock. “You feel just as I dreamed you would–” and Ed can feel it, that echoing pleasure burning his guts, a mirror of Roy’s emotions; all-consuming passion and desire and something reminiscent of love. “You fit me like a tailored glove, my darling. All silken heat, ambrosia, Edward,” his flowery words crash into each other, losing their sense but not their heat, the rumble of his deep voice shattering Ed from the inside out. “Beautiful, breath-taking, fucking… god! Perfect–”

Ed cannot fathom the sincerity of Roy’s words but the emotions he can’t deny; they’re burning him up. Roy shoves at his thighs until Ed is bent nearly in half but it brings Roy close enough that he can capture Ed’s mouth in a devastating kiss, almost more amazing than the thrust of his hips, driving his cock deeper into Ed. He releases one thigh, leaving the weight of his automail leg to crash back to the bed but only so that he can press a hand to Ed’s stomach, hissing at the bulge he finds there, growing prominent each time he fucks deep into Ed.

Ed is reduced to scattered atoms, expanding outward and drawing back in, to the ragged gasps jerking from his lungs, to the graveled grunts and groans expelling from Roy’s mouth, to the absolutely overwhelming crush of pleasure tightening his belly each time the head of Roy’s cock brushes against his prostate. He is a melting candle, pooling into a puddle of hot wax, shifted and shaped by Roy’s magnificent hands into something new, someone new, someone who will never be able to forget this moment, not for the rest of his life.

A string of stinging roses bloom in a brilliant riot of reds–painted by the insistent indentations of Roy’s teeth–trails down one side of his neck, over his shoulder and clavicle, and Ed tilts his head, inviting Roy to decorate the other side in a similar fashion.

To mark him.

To bind Ed to him.

God does Ed want to be bound to Roy, for all eternity, for beyond eternity. He rips his fingers from the confines of his own hair in the same instance that he curls his automail leg around Roy’s waist, curling his arms around the stretch of Roy’s strong shoulders to drag him closer until his body covers Ed entirely. And then, the hand that Roy was using to feel the imprint of his cock bulging Ed’s belly moves down to his own dick, wrapping around him, and no sooner than his fingers overlap around him does Ed orgasm; it rips through him like a wildfire, has him choking on a scream, has him gripping Roy for dear life as the ferocity threatens to shake him apart.

Somewhere in the vicinity of his chest, something snaps firmly into place.

Roy manages to last a few more powerful pumps, thrusting into Ed’s oversensitive hole as his walls clench tight around him, before he loses the rhythm of his thrusts, driving deep in a frenetic pace that has Ed crying out in a combination of pleasure and pain, until–after several aborted jerks–he stills within Ed, filling him up with the heat of his seed, and he falls over Ed, crushing him beneath his weight. But not in a bad way. It’s comforting, having Roy over him, their bodies stuck together with sweat and cum, with Roy’s face tucked into the curve of Ed’s sweat-soaked shoulder, his breath tickling the baby-fine hairs at the nape of his neck.

For a long time, they lay there in relative silence, panting for air, their breaths slowing from their frantic bout of sex. Ed doesn’t release Roy from the circle of his arms, but he does relax his leg, knowing full well that Roy will have a bruise along his lower back from the strength of his automail. His fingers dance and swirl over Roy’s warm back– the flesh ones, not the automail ones, although he doesn’t think Roy would mind the cooler touch of them.

He’s dozing, drifting in a haze of relief with a mind numbed from pleasure, when Roy mumbles, “Dear god, Alphonse is going to murder me.”

Ed chokes on a rasping laugh, pausing to clear his throat before he says, “If he does, you won’t see it coming.” He nuzzles his cheek against Roy’s, shifting just enough that Roy’s soft dick slides out of him, and then stretches with a yawn. “M tired,” he whispers.

“Don’t fall asleep just yet, my dear,” Roy says, pulling free from Ed’s arms to stand on his knees between the sprawl of Ed’s legs. His eyes are burning coals, staring down at Ed like they want to consume him. “You are truly a gorgeous vision but that won’t be comfortable to sleep in. Would you like a bath while we discuss the particulars of how you came to be here, now that your wits have returned?”

Ed’s face scrunches into a worried frown. “You don’t regr–”

“No, of course not, Edward,” Roy leans forward, cupping Ed’s face in the palms of his hands, thumbs sweeping soothingly over his cheeks. Ed relaxes, unaware until then that he’d even tensed up. “But anything could have happened to you tonight before you managed to stumble to my door, darling. I just want to make sure that nothing else happened to you. And… I would like to apologize,” one thumb swipes over to press against Ed’s lips, sealing his mouth from issuing a protest as Roy continues, “for taking advantage of you. Despite whatever had befallen you, and I suspect it was some form of aphrodisiac or something similar, I should have been able to resist, at least until I could be certain that you were truly a willing participant.”

“You’re an idiot,” Ed says fondly, lips moving beneath his thumb. He soothes his words with a quick kiss to the digit before adding, “I’ve only loved you since before I knew that there was a word for what I feel for you. If you couldn’t tell–”

“I admit, I was trying not to notice. No, don’t frown, your beautiful face should never wear a frown. I was trying to wait until I felt less of a, dare I say, creep for not only noticing your affection but returning it. You are an adult, and now you are also no longer in the military under my command.”


Roy smiles down at him, nothing like the fake smile he so often wears. “Now, a bath. It’ll help with the soreness and also the stickiness. And also, we can both fit in my bathtub.”

Ed can feel the smile stretching his lips before it explodes into a wide grin that he hides in Roy’s face when Roy sweeps him up into his arms.

And after, when Roy has treated him to the softest, sweetest affection he never thought he’d receive–those wonderful hands massaging shampoo into his hair, rubbing gently at his scalp and down the slope of his neck, easing all the tension from his body–Roy sets about drying him off with the fluffiest towel he’s ever seen and then he grabs a spare shirt to bundle him into, a white button-up that swallows him, the hem falling below his knees. He’d complain about it but Roy’s eyes darken at the sight of him–either from him wearing Roy’s clothes or just how small and delicate he looks wearing it, Ed doesn’t know and he doesn’t care–but they’re both too tired to entertain that particular thought.

So, Ed watches as Roy changes the filthy bedclothes and then he cannonballs into the giant bed, purely for the gruff laughter that escapes Roy when Ed bounces over the mattress before snuggling into the mountain of pillows.

“Why do you have so many pillows?” he mumbles into said pillows, wiggling around in them.

Roy laughs, his hand sweeping over Ed’s hair, always drawn to the curtain of shimmering gold silk. “Clearly, I was preparing for you.” A pillow sails past his face, smacking into the wall behind him, but then Ed rolls onto his back, patting at the empty spot beside him with half-lidded eyes. “Ah, I see. You were just getting the bed ready for me, that’s why you threw the pillow.”

Ed can’t fight the smile, nor does he want to. “Sleep,” he says, patting the bed more forcefully. “Sleep and then we can do important things like talk and break stuff then blame the broken stuff on other people.”

“I always knew you just had a fondness for wreaking havoc,” Roy muses dryly but he settles down on the bed, slipping an arm beneath Ed’s ribcage and then tugging him in close so that Ed can rest his cheek on Roy’s chest. Ed fits perfectly against him, curling into his side with an exhausted sigh. “Sleep, my darling. Sleep while you can. We have work to do in the morning.”

Ed smiles into Roy’s chest but he’s too tired to respond, choosing instead to drift off to the soothing motions of Roy’s fingers carding through his hair.

In the morning, he’ll have to explain that this was the mixed result of a drunken attempt to return Al’s soul to his rightful body; but Ed had mistranslated the ancient text. It must have read “bind soul to soulmate” rather than “bind soul to soul’s body” which really, anyone could have made that mistake.

That he’d made the mistake after a night of drinking and dares with his brother and Winry meant nothing.

Well. It did mean that Roy Mustang is actually his soulmate and they’re now bound together for all eternity but it’s not like that’s a bad thing.

The best thing, really.

A rarity found in mistranslation, soulmates. How very… them.

Business Lunch

by Blackjack Gabbiani

Cyrus read over the list once, twice, three times, but it did nothing to change the words before him. The corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly, and his dark eyes narrowed as he turned back to me. "This is all of it then?" he asked, voice low and raspy as though he was unaccustomed to speaking even though he talked all the time.

"Yes sir," I confirmed. "That's the entire menu."

He scoffed, glaring at our surroundings. The Seven Stars was maybe too opulent a place to bring him for a business meeting, but on the other hand, nothing was too good for my leader. Although I had to agree to foot the bill.

A moment more of stony silence before I added "Sir? If you don't feel like having anything, you--"

"Hunger is an unfortunate curse of the physical body. We require sustenance to sustain ourselves, yet by doing so, we continue along a cursed path." He paused and I wondered if he was finished, but he wasn't. "But to deny ourselves that need is to hasten to the grave. To accomplish anything in this life is to give ourselves over to the base needs of our bodies."

I waited until I was sure he was done. "So you're going to order something?"

"It appears it was the destiny of a cow to provide me with a six ounce steak."

That was the most normal thing I had heard him say all day. Which speaks volumes about him, and probably about me as well. "Six ounces is pretty small. If you're not that hungry, they have salads."

He snapped the menu closed with surprising force for such a simple action. "Such a thing consumes multiple entities. For so many lives to lend themselves to sustain a single person for merely a few hours when only one sacrifice is sufficient is needless waste. If you give your life to something when there is no reason to do so, you have lived in vain."

He fell silent as I gave the order to the waiter, who never took his eyes from Cyrus and who scurried off the second he was able to. "Sir, about this proposal," I began, bringing the papers to the tabletop.

But of course he wasn't finished. "If you die for the wrong thing, you will never be able to give yourself to any other cause. But then, that's not to say that you should never do so. One needs to be able to discern when such a cause comes along. That is what drives me to work so hard." His eyes glazed over and he fixated on the far wall, startling a waitress who thought he was staring at her. "Most people can accomplish far more en masse than they can as individuals...even if such a destiny has to be given to them by someone else."

I could have asked him what he meant by that, but we were there on business, after all. He seemed to be waiting for me, so I handed him the proposal and began to outline the points. The energy sources seemed to interest him, as did information from the Kanto region regarding the volcano that had recently destroyed a city. The raw power from the blast, I pointed out, could power all of Sinnoh for two years, and that we had a similar volcano on Battle Island to the northeast.

He smirked a little bit and he leaned back, pushed out from the table enough to reveal long legs crossed at the ankles "It was the folly of man that reduced that island to such a state. It would take divine retribution to return it to its original condition."

"You mean Heatran?" I'd never heard him speak of the beast before, so I was slightly confused.

"Such an undertaking must be performed by someone with the ability to reason. It cannot be mindless. But perhaps such a thing could serve as a testing ground. One cannot enter into such an endeavor without the proper planning, of course."

"O-of course, sir." Having no idea what he was going on about, I was about to show him the final paper when the waiter brought our dishes, hesitantly setting them on the table and rushing off without making eye contact. Damn, I hadn't even thought about what I'd ordered--I'd been thinking about noodles all day off and on and didn't consider what he'd told me earlier, and I hoped he wouldn't think any less of me for it. Hesitantly I looked over at him.

His head was down and he was scowling, and for a moment I wondered if he was all right. Then it hit me--while I'd ordered his steak without any side dishes (something the waiter seemed confused by but obeyed), it still came with a thin sauce.

"Sir, you can just scrape that off and--" The way his hand tightened around the knife concerned me. He wasn't a violent man by action, but by order he was ruthless.

" orders have been disregarded..."

I tensed up. I could make a dash for the door and he'd probably let me go, but with my knowledge of the Team's workings they'd be after me in no time.

"...but I suppose such a thing is to be expected with the world in its current state." He sighed deeply, as though steak sauce was the gravest situation facing the planet today. "Absolute obedience is a rarity, and unfortunately always has been, through deepest history and into the animal kingdom. However, if it permeated our behavior, there would be no leaders, only followers, and that is no way to create society. True in fact, there would be no higher powers, for those who possessed such things would neglect to use them properly. And if there were only leaders, things would no doubt be in a sorrier state than they are now. If only leaders existed, the world would have ceased to exist some time ago with no hope of rebirth, having been damned by those who purported to be able to command it."

I took a drink of my water, the ice having melted some time ago. I wasn't about to start eating before he did, and I knew he wasn't finished talking.

He brushed the sauce away into a puddle, dragging the knife across the lip of the plate to make sure none remained before cutting into his steak. "To truly command the world, one must have more than mere power. One must have the logic and foresight to do so." Finally he took a bite, swallowing the piece without time to taste it. "I believe the gods are far too removed from the living world to understand its plight. Such a task must be undertaken by one who has experienced the troubles of life rather than an eternity of disconnection from all but one's own powers."

"But in all the stories I've ever heard, sir," I reminded him, finally able to have some of those noodles that had been on my mind all day, "mortals can only ascend to godhood if the gods that already hold that title deem them worthy." Oh wow, they were so good that I had to force myself to focus on him.

"Stories are in most cases only that. It is foolish to assume that all are true. Most are without basis and ought to have been dismissed as falsehoods at their conceptions. Another skill to acquire is the ability to separate the chaff from the grain, so to speak." This bite he partially chewed. It was medium rare as he had neglected to specify and the waiter had been too distracted to think to ask, and a spot of red dashed on his front teeth. "I was under the impression that this was a business meeting," he reminded me grimly.

"Oh! Of course, of course!" I fumbled with the papers, pushing the bowl of delicious noodles out of the way with mild reluctance and snapping a stray piece of broccoli in my mouth before resuming work.

The rest of the lunch was as any other meeting, and after what had already happened, the normalcy was more disturbing than anything else. I was beginning to think if he was mad at me; for the sauce, for the noodles, for something in the project, for anything, and with a man like him it's incredibly hard to tell.

Finally I closed the notebook, quicker than I'd meant to; even though I was finished, the waiter was approaching. He started to take our plates without a word, but Cyrus grabbed his wrist with a snapped-out hand. The man went pale and nearly fainted. "I'll be taking the remainder of that with me," Cyrus ordered, voice hushed and calm as usual but with the underlying threat that accompanied it.

All that was left on the plate was the puddle of sauce, and the waiter looked quizzical for a moment, but nodded frantically once the grip tightened, then relaxed and withdrew. He ran off with the plates, nearly tripping over his expensive shoes.

I looked over at Cyrus, who appeared to have zoned out again, and wondered if he honestly intended on eating the sauce later, by itself accompanying nothing.

And suddenly everything made sense again.


by ScreamingLotus

It was midday, and the sun had already reached its highest peak in the hazy blue sky before starting its slow decent into the evening. While most of his classmates were outside, trying to soak up the last of the late summer sun, Katsuki Bakugou sat in the empty main room of the door, slumped over his computer. There was a vague sense of irritation hanging around him as he lingered inside, trapped by his own self-defeat.

In a lot of ways, it was no different than any other day.

Yet, the embarrassment of failing the license exam pushed him to a new low. The endless parade of silence that filled the dorm while the others were off at their internships made Bakugou’s blood boil. Besides, he missed the times when his friends would force him out of the dorms. Kirishima had always been a big instigator of going out for a good time, but since he was busy, it left Bakugou with little reason to hang around the others.

To make it worse, Deku had outpaced him. The only hope of catching up to him now seemed to be locked behind and iron gate. It was just a stupid slip of paper. Yet, obtaining it had been one of the most important moments in his hero career. Bakugou had been left empty handed, left in the dust as the others pressed on.

He wouldn’t let it get to him, though. There was no chance in hell that he was going to be left behind. He just had to push harder, be stronger. There was no turning back for him; this was the only path that mattered, and he would be damned if he let anyone take it away from him now.

Lost in thought, Bakugou had completely missed the last few minutes of the online course he was in the middle of taking. He gave a frustrated huff, sliding the bar back a few minutes so he could review the last bit of material. He watched the instructor sign with careful attention then followed along, copying the fingerspelling with his right hand.

He was too focused on the screen to see Todoroki come and sit on the couch, but he felt the weight as he did and immediately looked over and slammed his computer shut. He scowled at him, growling through clenched teeth as his whole body tensed. The pulsing in his temples made his eyes blur as he yelled, “What the hell are you doing?” If their quirks were switched, Bakugou would have breathed fire into the words for emphasis.

With a slow, stiff glance to the computer and back against, Todoroki gave an absent shrug. “Isn’t learning with someone better? Then you have someone to practice with,” he said in his usual calm and distant voice.

“Who asked you, you damned idiot?”


Thrown back by the weak reply, Bakugou recoiled, but quickly recovered. “You think you can just come out of nowhere and interrupt me,” he hollered, rattling the windows lightly with the strength of his voice. Todoroki seemed decidedly unimpressed, which only caused Bakugou to quake with anger. “You some kind of stalker? Where did you come from anyway? It’s not like I need your help,” he spat rapidly. It was as though he were trying to distract him, to throw Todoroki off so he couldn’t question him further. “I just saw some dumb video and decided to mess around. Is that so hard to understand?”

“My room,” he replied, “And you seemed pretty intent from what I saw.”

“Intent?” Bakugou scoffed, clicking his tongue as he looked away like a child caught with his hand in a cookie jar.

“Yes,” Todoroki replied, “Besides, if you didn’t want people to know, you’d be practicing in your room.” Bakugou instantly flinched at the words, falling into a stunned silence as his mouth hung slightly open and his eyes widened.” You wanted someone to notice,” he continued, “Am I wrong?”

Bakugou’s shoulders tightened. He rubbed at his neck, looking away as a shy expression passed across his eyes. “But why did it have to be you?” With a sigh for emphasis, he leaned back into the couch and looked up at the ceiling. “And why do you care anyway?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”


As Bakugou looked over, he found Todoroki smiling fondly at him. “I want to be able to talk to my rival,” he said. Feeling his cheeks warming gently, Bakugou quickly stood and went to the window to look out. Todoroki followed him with his eyes. “It’s your quirk, isn’t it,” he asked, “You’re exploding bombs in your hands. It’s making your ears vulnerable…”

“You’re smarter than you look.” Bakugou rolled his eyes at himself, looking away. “Well, maybe that doesn’t work for you… you already look smart.”

“When I was young, my brother would separate the packs of firecrackers. He’d light them and throw them, but the wick is short when you detached them like that. There was a time when he accidently dropped one at our feet.”

“What’s your point,” Bakugou asked irritably.

“Even that was enough to cause our ears to go silent for a moment… well, silent aside from the ringing in our ears.” There was a pause. “You’re much stronger than a firework.”

Feeling his chest swell with pride, Bakugou grinned and turned back to face him. “Hell yeah, I am,” he called out with a laugh, “I’m like a whole damn show! Don’t forget it.”

“So what do you say? May I learn with you?”

Bakugou seemed to hesitate but nodded slowly. “Y-yeah…” He looked away to hide his smile. “That’s fine.” He opened his computer back up and loaded up the video from the beginning. He paused as his hand hovered over the keys. “Hey, and uh… don’t tell anyone, okay? Especially… especially not Deku.”

With a nod in understanding, Todoroki replied, “I won’t.”

Over the passing weeks, the two were able to pick up a fair number of rudimentary signs. They were able to fingerspell and were getting faster each day. At the very least, they could have small conversations. Though they were stiff, they muddled through it together. They practiced relentlessly, each wanting to best the other.

They had picked up a habit of learning signs behind the other’s back. Bakugou loved the silent, but frustrated confusion on Todoroki’s face when he didn’t recognize a sign. He liked the way his brows pushed together as he tried to remember if he had forgotten one or if Bakugou had slipped a sign in to throw him off. Likewise, Todoroki seemed to enjoy the way Bakugou’s whole body shook when he didn’t recognize a sign, as though it was taking all his being not to implode on the spot as his jawline stiffened with his teeth clenched tightly together.

There was a subtle satisfaction in learning new signs from each other. Without the others around, and, specifically, without Deku, it was easier to find that the two had a lot more in common than they had previously realized.

Perhaps that was the reason they hadn’t gotten along, though. When he had first come into the classroom, Bakugou had seen Todoroki as a stuck-up rich snob with a famous daddy and a straight line into UA that he didn’t deserve nor work for. Likewise, he knew that Todoroki thought of him as a rude, loud and impatient jerk who was used to getting things the way he wanted simply by complaining the most. Each of them had made assumptions about the other. In some ways, those assumptions had been right, but they were only surface level observations at best.

Bakugou had a habit of exploding into violent reactions in order to distract from how he felt with his own noise and showy personality. All that aggression was just a cover, a ruse to hide behind. But Todoroki did the same thing using a different method. He was cold and distant, keeping everyone just far enough away to hide himself from everyone.

Realizing he had been mindlessly stirring the pot this whole time, Bakugou snapped out of his thoughts. He looked over to Todoroki, who seemed lost in his own as he calmly stared at the green onions on the wooden chopping board. “Stop spacing out and chop the onions,” Bakugou scolded as he nudged Todoroki out of his own daydream. He passed him and went to the fridge to get milk. “It’s going to be done by the time you wake up.”

Todoroki watched him, mildly amused as he stomped back over to the pot. “Do you ever walk normal,” he asked with an uncharacteristic teasing tone.

“What did you say to me,” Bakugou snapped, whipping around to face him.

“Ah, my mistake. I didn’t realize it was a sensitive subject,” he joked.

“Did you want to eat or not? Because I can just keep this to myself, you know. I did most of the work. You stood there and watched meat brown.” Bakugou hit himself in the chest, like some sort of proud gorilla trying to make a point. Todoroki shrugged in response. Bakugou let out a triumphant ‘ha’ as he turned back to the pot. “That’s what I thought.”

Before he could gloat further, he noticed Todoroki sign something out of the corner of his eyes. He scowled at him. “You’re really testing my patience here, icy-hot.”

With smug satisfaction, Todoroki silently chopped the onions that would top their udon. Bakugou turned back to the pot of broth and added in the milk. He checked that the noodles were cooked. Once they were to his satisfaction, Bakugou divided the noodles into to bowls, spooned the broth over them and added the meat topping.

After turning off the burners, he grabbed the two bowls and placed them near the cutting board next to Todoroki. Taking the hint, Shouto distributed the green onions between the two bowls, admiring the hint of bright green among the mostly brown dish. Finished with their work, the two carried their respective bowls to the table and sat down to eat.

The two of them ate quietly. Every now and then, Bakugou would glance out of the corner of his eyes at the other, wondering what he must have thought of it. It was a different take on udon, sure, but it always warmed him up. Besides, everyone he made it for seemed to crave it after they tried it.

The broth itself was a milky, creamy consistency with a hint of spice. The meat on top was a little sweet from the mirin, but also had its own hint of sharpness thanks to the chili paste also added during cooking. The two flavors combined into a marriage of sweet and spicy that was satisfying and quickly devoured.

Bakugou let out a content sigh as he leaned back in his chair, his stomach full of warm udon. “Well?” He looked at Todoroki expectantly.

“it’s really good,” he replied, “Thank you.”

“And you’re not just blowing smoke up my ass, right?”

Todoroki let out a scoff, trying not to choke on his food as he held back a surprised laugh. “Sorry, but I’d be the last person that would do that.”

“Good.” Bakugou glanced to the side, hesitantly drumming the table with his thumb. “Hey, uh… your old man?”

“What about him?”

There was a sharpness to his voice that Bakugou hadn’t heard before. It almost made him recoil, rethink what he was about to ask. However, there was a reason Todoroki had that scar, and he had a pretty good idea of what had caused it. Bakugou had scars too. “He’s not so nice to you, is he,” he asked, not daring to spare a peek in Todoroki’s direction.

“What makes you say that?”

“My old hag of a mom… she’s not so nice to me either.” He let out an annoyed sigh through his teeth, pausing briefly to contemplate what he wanted to say. “You know, I always kind of thought that was just how it was, you know? When your child misbehaves, you smack ‘em to straighten them up. That’s just what parents do. But…”


“Deku’s mom… she was always really gentle.”

Todoroki gave a slow nod. “It was must have been frustrating,” he replied.

“It infuriated me! Why did that little quirkless weasel get such a… such a nice mom.” He frowned. “You know, he used to come to school every day with a homemade lunch.” Bakugou tensed. “I hated him.”

“And now?”

Bakugou looked around the room as if trying to hunt down an answer in the drywall. “I guess,” he started slowly, “Things are different now. Anyway, I just had a feeling… about your pops, I mean.”

Todoroki paused at the confession. It was clear neither of them wanted to really talk about it, only acknowledge that they had an understanding. He nodded slowly, setting down the spoon and chopsticks as he carefully tried not to clutter the moment with unnecessary noise. “We have more in common than either of us realize, don’t we?”


“I’ll give you one more.”


“This burn on my face… the damage isn’t merely to my skin. My eye was injured as well,” Todoroki confession, “For now, I can see out of it… mostly, but it’s unreliable and it’s getting worse over time. The doctors told me I’ll eventually lose my sight completely in that eye.”

“But you don’t want anyone to know, right?”


Despite being touched by the sentiment, Bakugou hid his feelings behind a smirk. “Am I the only one you’ve told?”


He forced a laugh, but it came out half-hearted. “Damn, I guess we’re basically the same person at this point.”

“I really hope not,” Todoroki teased.

Bakugou shot a glare over to him. “Who wouldn’t want to be me,” he demanded, “I’m the coolest guy in this place.” He clicked his tongue, looking Shouto up and down as if he were appraising him. “I guess you come pretty close, though,” he continued, “But don’t let it go to your head! There’s still no way you can beat me.”

“I’m pretty sure I can find an opening if I tried.”

Gasping softly, Bakugou narrowed his eyes once more. “You better not mean what I think you mean,” he muttered bitterly, “And you better not tell anyone about it either. You know what will happen to you if you tell, right?”

“I assure you, Bakugou, I have better things to do with my time than damage your trust in me,” Todoroki replied firmly.

Bakugou took a sharp breath, taken aback by the resolve behind his words. If he didn’t know any better, he would think that Todoroki actually felt betrayed. Maybe he was reading into it, but Bakugou’s expression softened, nonetheless. He stood with a playful scoff, taking both their bowls from the table as he glanced around for something else to distract him from his own feelings.

“Does this mean we’re still secretly friends, “Todoroki asked.

Smirking, Bakugou came to stand behind him and leaned into Todoroki’s left side. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, “I still got your blindspot as long as you got mine.”


A post-Conqueror of Shambala FMA fic
by Tobu Ishi

The station clock’s ornate minute hand clicked into place beneath the number twelve again, and Edward Elric sighed and forced his attention away from it. Time wouldn’t pass any faster just because he willed it to. Besides, it wasn’t as if he was looking forward to anything in particular.

He didn’t even know what he was waiting for.

Curiosity and impatience had always been Ed’s weaknesses, besides of course his almost obsessive tendency towards self-sacrifice. It was the former two flaws that had brought him and his little brother here to wait on a little shop balcony in King’s Cross Station for whoever had sent them the unsigned and mysterious telegram now growing crushed and sweaty in Ed’s fist.

They’d received it two days before, delivered by a puzzled telegram runner who had been unable to enlighten them as to the sender’s identity. The telegram itself had simply read, ‘Meet me at King’s Cross. Station atrium, 11:30 am, this Sunday. Don’t you dare be late.’

It was the familiar tone of the last sentence that intrigued him, and when Ed’s interest was caught, it stayed caught. It was an Elric thing, he supposed. Al was just as curious, and had refused to be left behind.

So here they were, Al sitting patiently on a wrought-iron bench and paging through a copy of the Times while Ed leaned against the stone wall next to him, joggling his foot anxiously and staring holes in the clock overhead.

“Brother,” Al said quietly, just as Ed started to feel as if time would never stop stretching out like sticky taffy. Ed flinched, startled, and looked down at him.


“Who do you think it is?”

Ed frowned, and shrugged. “Could be anyone, I suppose. One of Heiderich’s friends, do you think? Or maybe Noah finally decided to come and visit us. She kept saying she might, someday…”

Al nodded, thoughtfully. “I suppose.”

They lapsed into silence again. Neither of them said what they were really thinking. The names Ed had mentioned would have been freely signed to the telegram. And the only sort of people they could think of who would refuse to sign their names, were not likely to be the sort they looked forward to meeting, even in a crowded station.

Especially in a crowded station.

Elric curiosity could not be denied. But the small sidearm each brother wore under his jacket paid testament to the years of lessons they’d learned about mysterious messages.

Into the worried silence between them fell the jarring notes of the clock striking half past the hour, and with it came the loud chuffing and screeching of a braking train. Al sat up straight and folded his newspaper, glancing around warily as he rose to his feet. Ed swallowed hard, fingering the outline of the pistol grip through the fabric of his long coat.

Together, the two of them walked across to the railing of the small café balcony, and looked out over the atrium as a rush of people came hurrying across it from this latest arrival, scanning the faces as they passed.

Al spotted it first, the broad, pale circle of a straw hat bobbing among the jostling crowds, but he didn’t assign it any major importance until it paused, turning this way and that as if the head hidden beneath it was searching the passing crowds. Something about the relative stillness of that splash of lighter color among all the chaos drew his eye, and he nudged Ed and pointed.

“Look, the girl in the straw hat—”

And then she turned, raising a slim hand to keep her hat from sliding off as she tilted it back and swept her gaze over the windows and balconies of the shops lining the atrium.

Until that moment, Ed might have laughed at the idea that the sight of a girl’s face could stop the world. He wasn’t laughing now. Everything seemed to go blurry and vague, the sounds of the station becoming so much muddled background noise, as his field of vision narrowed to that one uplifted face, framed with loose golden hair.

“Winry…” he whispered, and in the same moment she spotted him, and her eyes went wide with delight as she mouthed the familiar shapes of his name, Al’s name…

And then before Ed knew what he was doing, he had burst back through the balcony door and was running downstairs, his coattails flying out behind him as he galloped down the steps, taking them two and three at a time. He shoved past the other people in the cramped café, scanning the crowd frantically to catch sight of her, then glancing down and up and down again as he tried to negotiate the steps down from the café door without falling or taking his gaze off of her, nearly tripping once over his own feet. At the edge of his hearing was Al’s voice, just behind him, joyfully shouting her name.

And Winry, laughing and crying, left her suitcase sitting in the middle of the atrium and came running to them, her hat sailing forgotten behind her to the floor.

He opened his arms without conscious intent, except for the intense need to hold her and prove to himself that she was real, but as she ran into them, rocking him with the impact so that he stumbled back and nearly fell, her own arms wrapped around his neck—

“What are you—” he started to ask, bewildered—

--and suddenly her lips were on his, warm and soft with a rush of her giddy breath against his mouth, and he was being kissed with an enthusiasm that blotted out what little was left of the station around them and lifted them both into a brief private space of their very own.

When she drew back far enough to rest her forehead against his and grin, he was too breathless and pleasantly shocked to do anything but grin back.

“There,” she said, fiercely satisfied. “Finally. Now the world can fall down all over again, if it has to.”

He let out a gasp of laughter and pulled her close for a bit of equivalent exchange. Over twenty years of close calls and frustrated chemistry had left them a lot of lost time to make up for.


Al’s voice, hesitation mixed with amusement and happiness, broke the spell, and they loosened their grip on each other, looking around themselves for the first time.

“You’ve got a bit of an audience,” Al said, almost apologetically, just as the crowd of gawking people that had gathered around them burst into good-natured applause, laughter and wolf whistles.

Ed and Winry exchanged a look, both blushing scarlet to their eartips, and let go of each other with a burst of nervous laughter, quickly stepping apart.

“Uh…hey, everybody,” Ed mumbled, waving sheepishly to the crowd.

Winry grabbed his hand. “Right, show’s over! Nothing to see here!” she shouted, and ducked through the nearest group of people, dragging Ed with her as Al followed laughing in their wake.

The three of them ducked into the first door they came to, which happened to be the stone arch to a side maintenance passage. The minute they were out of sight, Al pushed past his brother and caught Winry in the sort of bear hug ordinarily given only by those whose technique has been passed down for generations.

“You’re here!” he shouted, openly ecstatic. “What are you doing here? I can’t believe it!”

She squeaked and giggled, pounding him enthusiastically on the back as her feet were lifted from the ground to kick happily in the air.

“Al, you’re huge!” she exclaimed as soon as he’d set her down, looking up at him and shading her eyes as if observing a soaring mountain view. He blushed and scratched the back of his neck.

“Well, not really…I mean, I guess I did grow a little…”

“He hit six feet last month,” Ed grumbled, though the smile playing at the corners of his mouth couldn’t be squashed by even this most delicate of subjects. “He’s only sixteen! I swear he stole my half of the height genes somehow.”

“Aw, you’re not that short, Brother,” Al scolded him fondly, ruffling his hair. Ed made a disgusted face up at him, and Winry snickered.

“Anymore,” she added, sticking her tongue out.

Ed scowled, and Winry scowled back at him in imitation. “Oh, c’mon, Ed! Lighten up!”

“Some way to say long-time-no-see,” Ed grumbled, rolling his eyes. She tapped him on the nose playfully, startling him.

“I already said that,” she pointed out. “What, do I have to say it again?”

It was Ed’s turn to blush. “Well…” he started to say, and then she was kissing him again, more gently this time, her arms sliding around his waist. Amazing the way their surroundings seemed to melt right out of focus when she did that…

Her fingers bumped the handle of the firearm strapped against his side, easily identifiable even through the fabric of his coat, and she gave a start and drew back, staring at him in shock.

“Ed!” she yelped. “What the hell! Is that a gun?

“Oh, he’s just happy to see you,” Al said, brightly.

“AL!” Both of them turned to glare at him, as he doubled over and laughed helplessly at their scandalized expressions.

“Sorry, sorry,” he managed, with a grin that did not look remotely apologetic. “I figured I should remind you I’m still here.” He paused, thoughtful. “Really, though, should I, um, take a walk? Give you two some privacy?”

“No!” Winry exclaimed, at the same time that Ed hesitantly said, “Well…”

Al gave them an impish look. “Was that a yes or a no?”

Winry grimaced with frustration. “Of course it’s a no! Look, Al, I’m really sorry—the last thing I want is to shut you out. I just got here, and—and I love you both, and we’ve got a lot to catch up on, and—“

He shrugged, still smiling that mischievous smile. “Hey, it’s okay, I know. We’ve got plenty of time to talk later, right? Unless you’re planning on leaving again…?”

She shook her head emphatically. “Definitely not.”

“Well, that’s all right, then,” Al said cheerfully, giving her another hug. “I’ll get your bag for you. It looks like it weighs a ton!”

“Al!” Winry protested.

“See you tomorrow, Ed!” Al said, jogging out of the maintenance passage with a jaunty wave. His older brother blinked, then turned a vivid shade of crimson.

“T-tomorrow!? Oi…oi! Al!!”

“Have fun, you two!” he called, and vanished into the crowd just as they took their first steps after him. Ed and Winry exchanged glances and shared a deep sigh.

“Well, somebody’s sure turned thoroughly sixteen, hasn’t he?”

“Yeah,” Ed said, gazing resignedly up at the ceiling, as if in a plea for sanity. Winry threw a last exasperated look at where Al had disappeared, and turned back to Edward, her hands on her hips.

“So, why are you carrying a gun?” she asked, half suspicious, half curious.

Ed shrugged. “Hey, think about who you’re talking to. I’d have to be an idiot by now to walk unarmed into a meeting with an anonymous telegram sender. I’m assuming it was from you?”

Winry nodded, looking a bit smug. “I wanted it to be a surprise,” she said.

“It was that,” he admitted ruefully, taking a seat on a bench recessed against the wall. “You practically gave me a heart attack. Can’t think of anyone I was expecting less. How the hell did you get here, anyway?”

“I called in a few favors,” Winry said flippantly, settling onto the bench next to him and leaning against his shoulder. He noticed belatedly that she’d somehow gotten ahold of clothes in the local style, a full-skirted white sundress and button-up boots, and added that mystery to the list of a million questions he already planned to ask her.

“Favors?” he echoed, wondering what on earth kind of favors got you a ticket to another world…

The answer hit him like a bolt. Equivalent exchange. A family for a family. “It was Mustang, wasn’t it.”

She nodded. “Well, him and his vast network of contacts. You’d be surprised how many talented alchemists owe him something.”

“No, I wouldn’t,” Ed said flatly. “How’s the old bastard doing, anyway? I barely caught a glimpse of him, last time, but Al filled me in on the last few years and they didn’t sound too good.”

“Oh, he’s back on top,” Winry said with a smile of grudging respect. “You can’t keep a good schemer down, especially when he’s got as many contacts as the General.”

Ed whistled. “He’s a general now?”

“Got promoted after the disaster in Central. And promoted, and promoted. Once the higher-ups realized he’d got his old fire back, they couldn’t stack stars on his shoulders fast enough,” she said, with a roll of her eyes.

“Typical Mustang,” Ed muttered. Winry chuckled, and settled more comfortably against his shoulder.

“He told me to tell you to take care of yourself,” she said. “And that he particularly hopes you’ve remembered to drink your milk, so I won’t have come all the way across the Gate just to not be able to find you at all.”

Ed sat up with a growl. “Who’s he saying has a skeleton the size of a tiny little sparrow’s and no hope of ever getting taller?” he yelled indignantly, as Winry laughed.

“Hey, I’m just repeating what he said,” she protested. Ed huffed, but relaxed back onto the bench again, gazing up at the ceiling for a moment. He frowned suddenly, realizing that he had probably just reacted to his last insult from the old cad. There was something faintly melancholy about that thought. But yeah, unless they ever somehow got pulled back through the—

“The Gate!” he cried suddenly, grabbing her arm. “You went through it! You saw it?”

Winry nodded, chewing her lip a bit. “If you mean that huge…door thing, then yeah. I think it took about five years off my life with sheer creepiness alone.”

Ed flinched; she seemed to be joking, but did she have any idea how close her joke was to the potential mark? And why had she suddenly turned her face away from him? “Have you felt…weird, at all, since then?” he asked urgently. “How long have you been here?”

“A few months,” Winry said, speaking hesitantly, as if choosing her words carefully. “It took me a long time to find you. I fetched up in some abandoned building in Munich when they sent me over. What the hell is going on in this world, anyway?” she blurted, in an abrupt change of subject. There was a flicker of genuine distress in her blue eyes. “Some of the things going in that city made the Ishbal War look like a squabble!”

Ed grimaced. “It’s the same thing on a bigger scale, as far as I can see,” he said wearily. “Bigots killing off whoever they don’t like, for whatever reasons they can make up.”

Winry shuddered. “And here I thought going to another world might get me away from some of that,” she muttered.

“Honestly? The more you travel, the more you see of the same old wars in different disguises.” Ed shook his head, his face drawn with memory.

“Well, believe me, I don’t intend to go traveling this far again,” Winry said, forcing a cheerful note into her voice. “Once through that Gate thing was more than enough for me.”

He swallowed. It was odd how shy he felt, all of a sudden.

“So…does that mean you’re staying?”

She smiled, reaching over and bumping her knuckles lightly against his temple. “Stupid. I already said so, didn’t I? Where else would I go?”

“Hell, I dunno…you got yourself here, didn’t you? For all I know, you’ve got folks waiting to pull you back when you’re ready,” he said defensively. “And what about Granny? Is she coming, too?”

Winry’s shoulders slumped, just slightly.

“Granny passed away last year,” she said quietly, looking at the floor. “Complications of pneumonia.”

Ed fell speechless, staring at her in shocked dismay. Pinako had always been such a stable old bird…

“That was when I went to the General,” Winry continued, her hands curled in her lap. “Without her around…well, you guys are my only other family, so I didn’t have anyone else to really…keep me there. You know?”

She gave him a plaintive look, and he swallowed, knowing the real meaning under the casual words. He knew that Winry had friends, colleagues, surrogate family…Scieszka, Dominic, Paninya, the Hughes family. Her home. Her career.

There was nothing, no one else who had mattered as much as the Elric brothers.

“Winry,” he murmured, touched more deeply than he could have expressed. He knew what it was to leave a world behind.

“It took almost a year to work it out, even with Al’s old notes and the remains of the arrays in the underground city, and all the eyewitness accounts we could get from the battle,” Winry was explaining. “Don’t worry, the General did most of the final studies and drew the last array on his own, and he promised me he’d burn all the research materials after. It was all classified info anyway. He’s doing fine in Central, and he doesn’t want another invasion in either direction, any more than you did.”

Ed nodded, still uneasy, but satisfied for now. Mustang was irritating, but thorough, and fairly reliable. He wouldn’t want anything on his side of the Gate to interfere with his plans for Amestris, and could be trusted to cover Winry’s tracks. They could head to Munich and double-check their side as best as they could, as soon as things calmed down there. They had to, eventually, didn’t they?

Winry smiled fondly at the memories. “Scieszka helped with the research…she said it was an honor to be part of an inter-dimensional experiment, but she told me to watch out for the aliens.”

Ed laughed outright at that. “Well, sorry to disappoint you, but—”

“Yeah, you’ve only got the one antenna,” she teased, reaching up to flick the stubborn strand of hair. “Pretty lame alien, if you ask me.”

“Hey, nobody did,” Ed shot back, swatting at her hand. She caught his wrist, and they hesitated, gazing at each other as if they’d just realized all over again that this wasn’t a dream.

Then Winry shifted her grip, lacing her fingers through his again, and smiled. “So. You still haven’t told me anything about what you’ve been up to all this time. How’d you guys end up in London, anyway? It took me forever to track you down!”

Ed smiled back. “It’s a long story.”

“I could go for a long story,” Winry mused.

“Fair enough, as long as you fill me in too. I want to hear about this network of Mustang’s. I haven’t talked any new alchemical theory in ages.” Ed hesitated. “Do you, uh…feel like getting some dinner or something?”

Winry squeezed his hand lightly. “Sounds great! My treat.”

“You have money already?” he asked, astonished.

“What, you didn’t think I’d come into a new world without some practical assets, did you?” she scolded. “Who do you take me for? Train tickets don’t grow on trees, you know.”

Ed groaned. “That suitcase of yours is full of tools, isn’t it.”

“And my clothes, and a few paperbacks, and one or two photos,” Winry said with a shrug. “Oh, and there was a little jewelry and stuff lying around the house, so I brought that and sold it when I got here. Nobody ever wore it anyway.”

Typical Winry, Ed thought. Always a plan, and a sensible one at that. She’d probably have a career, a shop and a clientele before the year was out.

“Well, at least now you can fix my automail for me,” he said, smiling.

Winry scowled, reaching for his sleeve to pull up the cuff. “You haven’t broken it, have you?” she chided him, then sighed with relief at the unmarred silver surface that greeted her. “Ed! Don’t scare me like that!”

“I meant if anything does happen to it!” Ed sputtered. “Theoretically! As an accident!” he tried to explain, as she glared suspiciously at him.

Ed…” Winry groaned, but his stomach conveniently chose that moment to gurgle loudly.

“Hey! I’m starved! How about we go get that dinner!” Ed exclaimed a bit too loudly, standing up and pulling her with him.

Winry rolled her eyes, but followed as he led her out into the bustle of the station. It was good being back on the old footing again, even if it did mean extra work for her.

Life without the Elrics had been far too lackluster. Seeing them again…

Well, it was sentimental of her and all, but she couldn’t shake the glorious feeling that she was finally alive again, after far too many years of simply going through the motions.

The crowd in the atrium jostled them this way and that, and Ed let out a frustrated growl and squeezed her hand as a warning, then broke into a run, ducking and shoving between their slower-moving fellow Londoners and calling out apologies to those he elbowed particularly hard. Pulled along behind him, Winry laughed helplessly at the outraged expressions they passed, then got her balance and caught up to him, running hand-in-hand down the station steps and out into the warm London summer.

She didn’t stumble over the steps, which was worth a small measure of pride. The prosthesis had taken a long time to get used to, even though she’d made it with her own hands. Sooner or later, she supposed the boys would notice; she couldn’t keep her boots on forever. In all honesty, Winry considered it a perfectly fair trade. It wasn’t as if they’d taken her hands, after all. She’d asked them not to—she needed those. Her right leg to the knee was fair game, though; particularly since not agreeing meant that the alchemist who’d so kindly agreed to help her would have paid her travel toll instead.

The shit would hit the fan when Ed and Al found out, she knew. But she could talk them around.


And in the meantime…it was wonderful to be home again.

Close Call

by revkingdip18

Kirishima heard the whistle of a sword cutting through the air before he saw the flash of metal. Time stood still as he took in the situation. Bakugo, his fearless and brash partner, was right in the line of fire. Bakugo couldn't even see the sword, as the enemy was attacking from behind. That was the least manly thing Kirishima had ever seen. He couldn't stand people who performed sneak attacks.

Bakugo was going to get seriously wounded by the sword and Kirishima did the only thing he could think of to keep his Bakugo safe from harm. He lunged in front of the swordsman without hesitation. He knew he had ultimately sacrificed himself to the bloodthirsty swordsman, but as long as Bakugo was safe, that was all that mattered to him. He had expected to get scratched up at most, but as the blade cut through his outstretched hand, Kirishima realized he had made a grave mistake. The sword cut through him like butter and a searing pain shot up his arm.

Bakugo could only watch as Kirishima, the only man he had ever considered to be his equal on the battlefield, dove in front of the sword meant for him. He saw red as the sword slashed through Kirishima, but he couldn't bring himself to engage with the masked swordsman. Kirishima needed medical attention as soon as possible. Nothing else mattered at that moment.

Bakugo knelt beside his fallen partner. He couldn't believe he had let this happen. He was supposed to protect Kirishima, not the other way around. His pride stung at the thought that he wasn't able to save his partner from harm. "Kirishima? Are you okay? We're going to the hospital now, so you need to hold on for only a little bit longer, alright?"

Kirishima opened his mouth to speak, but Bakugo laid a finger over his lips. "'s alright. You don't need to say anything right now. I've got you." Noting the wound, he tore a strip of cloth from his clothes and wrapped it tightly around the gash on Kirishima's hand. He had never seen this much blood before and was terrified that the sword had hit a major artery. Bakugo couldn't think straight, but he was certain there was some kind of major artery in the hand.

Bakugo took his phone out and proceeded to dial emergency medical services. He couldn't drive and didn't know where the nearest hospital was. It took ten minutes for the ambulance to arrive, but Bakugo was sure Kirishima was dying in those ten minutes. It destroyed him that he was unable to do anything more for his fallen battle buddy, it stung his pride that he was so completely useless in Kirishima's ultimate time of need.

Bakugo was prohibited from following Kirishima any further than the waiting room. All he could do was watch as a medical team swarmed Kirishima's lifeless body and usher him down the long corridor towards the operating theater.

With shaking knees, Bakugo sank down onto a waiting room chair. He buried his face in his hands and reflected on everything that had happened. If only he had been more vigilant, if only he hadn't been so careless, then Kirishima wouldn't have gotten hurt. He wouldn't be fighting for his life in a bleak hospital room.

Bakugo wasn't able to sulk for very long before Mina came barreling through the waiting room. She stopped in front of Bakugo and he glanced up at her. He wasn't in the mood for her emotional theatrics. There was fire in her eyes and her hands were on her hips, which Bakugo knew was never a good sign.

"What have you done?" she began to chastise him. Bakugo wasn't feeling up to trying to defend himself, but her words stung like a slap to his pride.

"I haven't done a damn thing. Maybe if you had been with us, we wouldn't have been so badly outnumbered. Kirishima was hurt trying to protect me from a sneak attack," he admitted. "The fucker was going to stab me in the back, but Kirishima jumped between us. If it hadn't been just the two of us, he wouldn't have needed to do that."

Mina burst into tears by this heated retelling of what happened, but Bakugo wasn't fazed by it in the slightest. He had become accustomed to Mina's crying, which seemed to have a hairpin trigger. "If he hadn't been trying to protect you, this wouldn't have happened! I keep telling you to look out for your blind spots, but you never listen to me!"

"This is stupid!" Bakugo roared. This outburst caught the attention of everyone in the waiting room, but he didn't care. His boyfriend was on the operating table and his girlfriend was freaking out. He felt like he couldn't do anything right in that moment, but knew that fighting with Mina would get them nowhere closer to finding out if Kirishima would be okay. "I'm not doing this with you right now, Mina. Look, I'm really sorry for yelling at you, but you didn't see it. You didn't have to see him being slashed to confetti! I did! I had to watch as the dumbass jumped right between us! It should have been me! Why wasn't it me?"

Bakugo broke down into tears, angry tears that belied his damaged pride. Mina faltered in her stance. She had only ever seen Bakugo this vulnerable once before. She sat down beside him and wrapped her arms around him tightly. She felt sick to her stomach for trying to pick a fight and knew that Bakugo had a point. She should have been there with them. While Bakugo cried, Mina buried her face into the crook of his neck. "I...I'm sorry. I didn't mean to add any more stress to the situation. It wasn't either of our faults. It just happened. We knew things like this would happen in our line of work."

Bakugo leaned heavily into the embrace. He craved Mina's warmth around him, having her scent invade his nostrils. It kept him grounded and gave him something to fight for. As long as he had Mina by his side, he could sit through this excruciating hospital stay. He gave her a peck on her temple and he could feel her lips curve up into the tiniest of smiles against his neck.

Before the couple could get too comfy, they were interrupted by Deku and Ochaco's arrival. In everything that had happened, Bakugo had completely forgotten he had contacted their friends in the ambulance. Everything had happened so quickly that Bakugo acted on impulse.

"Hey guys! We came as soon as we could." The normally bubbly Ochaco was subdued by the gravity of the situation. She took a seat beside Mina as Deku stood behind her with a somber expression on his youthful face. "How's Kirishima? Have you guys heard anything yet?"

Bakugo shook his head. It had been over an hour already and he had heard nothing from the doctors about Kirishima's progress. His anxiety was starting to overwhelm him, but Ochaco spoke up again.

"I'm sure he'll be fine. Kirishima's been through much worse," she reassured the couple. "For now, no news is good news, right? And both are better than bad news."

The friends were interrupted by a doctor approaching them with an unreadable expression on his face. Bakugo and Mina squeezed each other's hands as they braced themselves for the worst.

"Your friend will be fine. Kirishima got very lucky that no major arteries or nerves had been damaged. If you want, you can go see him. He's been requesting Bakugo and Mina ever since he came out of anesthesia. He's right down the hall." The doctor gestured down the corridor with his clipboard in hand.

Bakugo had the faintest feeling that something wasn't being said, something was purposefully being left out, but he couldn't fathom what. He got up with Mina and the couple made their way down the hallway, hand in hand. Deku and Ochaco remained behind, not wanting to intrude upon the trio in this sensitive situation.

Mina and Bakugo rushed into Kirishima's room to find Kirishima exactly the same as always—until he raised his bandaged hand to wave at them. They noticed that he only had three fingertips sticking out of the bandage. Mina and Bakugo glanced at each other before looking back at Kirishima's hand to make sure they were seeing things properly.

"Are you guys alright? You look like you've seen a ghost!" Kirishima laughed at his partners' shocked faces. He was just glad to be alive—the sword cutting through him had been one of the worst pains he had ever felt in his life.

Mina threw herself into Kirishima's arms, unable to control the massive wave of relief coursing through her body. She wrapped her arms around his neck and lavished him with kisses all over his face. Bakugo watched the tender scene for a moment and felt lucky that he was able to be in this relationship.

His thoughts were interrupted as Kirishima pulled him into the embrace and landed a kiss on his lips. He returned the kiss eagerly, overcome with the same whirlwind of emotions as Mina.

Kirishima would need to stay in the hospital overnight, but Bakugo was already planning something special for when he came home. Tonight, however, he would be with Mina at Kirishima's bedside, taking turns watching over their boyfriend.