The snowstorm gets worse during the night.
When Todoroki wakes up, he can feel the chill seeping through his bones, and the world outside the window is nothing but a veil of white. He warms himself up easily enough with his magic, but the first thing he does after getting up is check the fireplace, next to which Bakugou is still sleeping soundly.
Thankfully, the fire hasn't gone completely out, but Todoroki adds more wood to renew the flames anyway. Even though the sun is hidden in the dull sky, he knows it's early - his body is used to being up by the crack of dawn, a habit from his childhood he hasn't been able to break even after all these years.
He takes his time brewing some tea, then pulls a wooden chair to sit by the window, across from where Bakugou is lying. As the warm liquid touches his lips, his gaze unwittingly falls on the shapeshifter.
Bakugou looks almost innocent like this, Todoroki thinks. At some point during the night, he's pulled the blankets closer to himself, tucking them under his chin so that all that Todoroki can see are a small part of his face and his messy hair. He finds it amusing, even a little hard to believe, that this is the same man that had actively tried to bite his hand off the previous day.
It's only when Bakugou groans, starting to stir, that Todoroki realizes he's been staring for a while, and quickly turns his gaze towards the window.
"Shit, it's cold," he hears a moment later, followed by a grunt of pain. There's a few minutes of silence, and Todoroki wonders if Bakugou remembers what happened the previous night. "What the fuck are these?"
Todoroki looks back at Bakugou, only to find that he has managed to pull himself into a seating position, blankets pooling around his waist as he examines the clothes Todoroki's left for him.
"I know you're a shapeshifter, but I would've thought you'd know what clothes are," he says, frowning.
Others might be scared of the stare Bakugou throws at him, but Todoroki simply takes another sip of his tea.
"I know what fucking clothes are, bastard. What I mean is, why are they here?"
"Well, they are usually made for wearing."
"Are you making fun of me? I'll kill you," Bakugou literally growls. His body seems to move on instinct as he begins to lunge towards Todoroki, but his expression suddenly turns to one of discomfort and he stills his movement, frustration etched on his face. "I'll kill you, once these fucking wounds heal."
Todoroki has to hold back a huff of laughter. As harsh and angry as Bakugou sounds, he can't feel any real threat coming from him; his magic swirls peacefully under his skin, not sensing any imminent danger. He's thankful, however, that Bakugou has refrained from doing anything foolish. It'd be bothersome if all the work he'd gone through the previous day, mending his wounds twice, were to go to waste again.
"I believe a thank you would be more efficient, considering I'm the one healing them for you," Todoroki replies. When it seems like Bakugou might be reconsidering his previous halt on his attack, however, he adds, "You should put those clothes on before you freeze. They might be a little big for you, but I don't have anything else. I'll go get some food."
Todoroki gets up before Bakugou can say anything, taking his empty teacup with him to the kitchen. To his relief, there's no further complaints from the shapeshifter, and Todoroki can hear the rustling of clothes behind him as he tries to put together a decent meal.
Considering how weak Bakugou must be due to the blood loss, it'd probably be better for him to eat meat - which might even be his preference, Todoroki believes, with him being half wolf - but while he still has some kept safely frozen in the basement, it's not much, and it's best to ration it well while the snowstorm doesn't pass.
For now, then, Todoroki settles for an assortment of bread and fruits; he can make meat stew for dinner, when the temperature is certain to have dropped even more and something warm might be of good use.
By the time he's back to the living room, Bakugou is dressed, blankets thrown haphazardly over his shoulders. He eyes the food in front of him suspiciously, and it doesn't escape Todoroki's attention that he only begins to eat after Todoroki takes a bite from the plate he's prepared for himself. He wonders if Bakugou thinks he has poisoned the food; he can't see how that would make sense, considering all he's done so far is save his life.
Maybe it's another wolf thing.
"What are you?" Bakugou asks after a few moments of eating in silence.
"What do you mean?"
"You're clearly not a normal human." Bakugou fixes him with a pointed stare. "The way you reacted to me was fucking weird. Most people who've seen me transform usually run away screaming monster or demon. And they would never know what a shapeshifter is, but you didn't even bat an eye."
Todoroki's eyes widen a little, surprised that Bakugou has picked up on that. He hadn't struck him as the perceptive type, but maybe Todoroki's first impression of him had been wrong.
"So I'm going to ask again, what the hell are you?"
Todoroki hesitates, but it's not like he can hide his powers for long - the snowstorm still rages outside, and Bakugou is stuck there with him until his wounds heal. Besides, Bakugou has magic; a different kind from Todoroki's, but it's still magic, and he doesn't believe the shapeshifter will think to attack him because of his powers when he himself has just admitted to being seen as a monster most of the time.
Deeming he's safe from a negative reaction, Todoroki sets his plate down on his lap before extending his hands and summoning ice crystals to his right palm, and a flickering flame to his left.
Bakugou lets out a huff that sounds suspiciously like a laugh.
"Magician, huh? Should've known. You bastards do like to meddle in everything," he says, but while his words are sharp, his tone holds more amusement than anger.
"Oh. I apologize, then. Next time I'll leave you to bleed to death, if you'd prefer me not to meddle," Todoroki says, but he's also trying to hide a smile at the way Bakugou's expression turns into a frown. He becomes serious, however, when he's reminded of a question he's been meaning to ask. "What happened to get you that hurt?"
Bakugou's eyes turn away from Todoroki, and he shoves a piece of bread into his mouth, taking his time chewing and clearly trying to avoid answering. Todoroki patiently waits, keeping his stare fixed on Bakugou. He knows it shouldn't matter, but he can't deny he's curious, and an explanation is the least he should get for saving the other's life.
"Normal wolves are social creatures, but shapeshifters aren't," Bakugou finally says, confirming Todoroki's suspicions. "Packs don't like it when a wolf that's not one of their own enters their territory." He growls, then, and points an accusing finger towards Todoroki. "Don't go getting any wrong ideas. I can beat those fuckers anytime, but this pack was bigger than usual. And they took me by surprise." Bakugou takes a deep breath, fists closing in anger. "Gonna rip their throats out as soon as I can transform again."
"You can't blame them for acting on animal instinct," Todoroki replies.
"That instinct is going to show them who's stronger only when I beat them up."
"They're just normal wolves, like you said. What would you get from that? If you think you can win against them, then you don't have to worry about it," Todoroki says. He's not going to argue about the truthfulness of Bakugou's statement - no matter how strong a shapeshifter might be, if they were outnumbered enough, Todoroki is sure even normal wolves could do some damage, and Bakugou's case is an example of that - but from what little Bakugou's spoken about it, Todoroki knows this isn't just about strength, but pride as well.
"Tch. You're not a shapeshifter, you wouldn't understand anyway," Bakugou says.
Todoroki thinks about arguing, but he feels it would be pointless, so he turns his focus towards the window once again, effectively ending the conversation.
The rest of the day is awkward, to say the least, with both of them being unable to get out of the house. Todoroki hasn't had much contact with people ever since his childhood, so he's not sure how to hold a conversation simply to pass the time. Bakugou doesn't seem to make any efforts in that regard, either; after hours spent analyzing the storm outside without uttering a word, he goes back to his place near the fire, dozing off in a matter of seconds.
Todoroki raises his eyes from the book he's been studying. It's one of the few from the collection he's acquired over the years; he'd been hoping to find some information on shapeshifters there, but to no avail. If he still had access to the library at his old house, he'd find it in a second, but here, the materials at hand are limited.
Todoroki shakes his head, trying to get rid of the unpleasant memories that come from thinking about his childhood. Since sunset is approaching, he decides to prepare more of the healing paste he used for Bakugou's wounds before getting started on dinner; once the shapeshifter wakes up, Todoroki will have to convince him to let him change his bandages and reapply the medicine.
He has a feeling that it's not going to be easy.
Days pass, and the snowstorm doesn't seem like it's going to end anytime soon.
If anything, it keeps getting worse. Todoroki is sure this is the worst blizzard he's ever been through, and while he's thankful that his house is resistant enough against the strong winds that are constantly howling, he's beginning to get worried about the rapidly diminishing amount of wood to keep the fire going. At this rate, the food isn't going to last much longer, either - he hadn't stored it with two people in mind.
Despite his concerns, however, he's come to enjoy having Bakugou in the house with him. After their first rather unfriendly interactions, they developed a sort of routine, and while Bakugou is still frequently angry and spouting insults at him, Todoroki has learned not to take them too seriously. Now, they tend to fill the silences with talking, mostly about magic and Bakugou's journeys. Todoroki finds out that he hasn't interacted much with other people, either; Bakugou tells him that he spends most of the time wandering in his wolf form, and claims that his few encounters with humans were less than pleasant, and the thought of living among them makes him want to bite someone's head off.
Todoroki is sure Bakugou's speaking quite literally when he says that.
He can't remember the last time he's talked to someone for so long, or shared meals together, or just spent time with them. He's run into people before, lost travelers who found themselves in the wrong path, but they've always regarded him with fear, running away before he can offer help.
Now, having Bakugou constantly there fills Todoroki with a warmth that's different from the one coming from the fireplace, and the one from his magic - it feels cozier, not quite physical, almost like a tingling in his heart. He tries not to think about it too much, but if he had to name it, he'd say it's something like... happiness.
Sometimes, however, Bakugou starts asking too much about Todoroki's own past, and Todoroki always finds an excuse to leave the conversation, or quickly steers it to another topic.
It's not that he doesn't trust Bakugou, but some things he'd rather be left forgotten.
As his wounds slowly heal and his strength returns, Bakugou takes on a habit of testing the limits of his transformation.
He sits for hours on end, changing small parts of his body, trying to manifest more of his wolf characteristics each time. More than once, Todoroki finds him passed out after pushing too far, and has to hold back a sigh as he moves Bakugou from whatever weird position he's lying in so he doesn't get even more hurt.
It's been almost a week since the snowstorm began when Todoroki finds himself once again sitting behind Bakugou, examining the wounds that are now scabbed over, the red of the irritated flesh mostly gone. This time, however, Bakugou isn't falling asleep in exhaustion against him; he's wide awake, and has been busy elongating his nails into claws, only to bring them back to normal moments later.
Todoroki is used to it, so he doesn't pay much attention to Bakugou at first.
"I don't think I need to bandage it anymore," he says, lightly touching the skin next to the wounds. "If we just keep it clean-"
Todoroki stops mid-sentence, however, when he raises his head and notices that Bakugou's now has two very fluffy, clearly not human ears perched on top of it.
He doesn't know why the sight surprises him - Bakugou is a shapeshifter, after all, and Todoroki's seen him in his wolf form before, but there's something about the ears that are distinctively dissonant in comparison to Bakugou's overall image, and Todoroki can't quite pinpoint what it is.
"Hey, why the fuck did you stop talk-" Bakugou starts, and turns around at the exact moment that Todoroki reaches up, holding one of his ears between his thumb and forefinger.
Bakugou's jaw drops open, and maybe it's because of the shock, but he doesn't bat Todoroki's hand away.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"They're... so fluffy," Todoroki says. He slowly rubs his fingers over the back of Bakugou's ear, feeling how soft the fur is - he wonders if his hair would feel like that, too. "You look cute."
Bakugou blushes, a sight Todoroki never thought possible, and for some reason his heartbeat speeds up. He finally drops his hand, realizing he's leaned forward without noticing, and Bakugou's face is now really close - close enough that he can see when Bakugou's eyes quickly fall towards Todoroki's lips before coming back up again, his expression a confusing mix of emotions.
It's Todoroki's turn to blush and he scrambles back, the hollow sound of his heart thumping against his chest echoing on his ears.
"Sorry," he says. He's not sure what he's apologizing for, or how he can make the situation any less awkward, but Bakugou looks almost terrified, and Todoroki's starting to panic.
They stare at each other for a while, and then Bakugou blinks as if he's waking up from a trance, going back to his human form completely before scratching the back of his neck and looking away.
"You were saying, uh. About my wounds," he stammers, which Todoroki takes as a sign that he definitely isn't okay, because he's never heard Bakugou stammer before.
But right now, he's happy to take any chance to steer the conversation back to a normal topic.
"Yes, they're... they're nearly healed. You can just. Put your shirt back on." Todoroki cleans his throat, getting back on his feet and not looking at Bakugou as he gathers the used bandages. "We won't need to use the healing paste anymore."
"Great," Bakugou says.
Todoroki is almost glad that it's night time already. He keeps replaying the scene from earlier in his head, and each time his eyes meet Bakugou's, Todoroki feels that quickening thump on his chest again, something he doesn't understand; maybe it's because he's been alone for so long, and he's just not used to being close to people.
Todoroki considers that explanation as he feeds the weakening fire, frowning when he notices he's used the last of the wood he'd stored. His gaze falls on the window, where the snow still falls in heavy blankets, and his mind is momentarily occupied by worry once again. He'll have to find a way to go out to get more wood tomorrow.
Todoroki doesn't linger for long in the living room, too bothered by the awkward silence that hangs in the air, and he announces he's going to sleep early, faking a yawn even though he doesn't feel tired.
Bakugou simply nods at him, claiming he'll be going to sleep too.
At the door to his room, Todoroki hesitates, turning to look at Bakugou, whose eyes are fixed on the fire, the orange glow illuminating his face and making him look almost ethereal.
"Goodnight, Bakugou," Todoroki says, and Bakugou's stare snaps towards him.
"Thought you'd left already, bastard, don't fucking scare me like that," he says, and even though Todoroki thinks his voice sounds strange, he's relieved that Bakugou seems to be back to his old self. It isn't until he's barely closed the door behind him that Bakugou speaks again, and his voice is so low that Todoroki is barely able to catch it. "'Night."
If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw me screaming and freaking out as I tried to write this chapter, but finally, here it is!
I had a lot of fun writing this one (despite all the previously mentioned screaming haha) and I really hope you guys enjoyed it :3
I'll probably switch back and forth between updating this fic and Strange Ways, so it might be a little bit longer until the next chapter! I have almost everything planned out already, though, so I'll do my best to not leave you guys waiting for too long hihi