When Todoroki wakes up it is not with the slow drag back to awareness that usually accompanies his sleep. Instead, it's like he's being ripped out from a sea of darkness, his magic coursing through him in chaos, cold air burning in his lungs as he gasps and a shrill laugh dying on his ears, left behind at whatever nightmarish place he'd been dreaming of. His eyes snap open, unable to focus on anything due to the sudden light - everything had been so dark moments ago - and Todoroki moves on instinct, trying to pull himself up only for a sudden weight on his shoulders to push him back down.

Disoriented, Todoroki tries to kick at whatever's holding him, but a bout of pain spreads throughout his body the moment he attempts to move his right leg.

"Will you fucking stop that," a familiar voice reaches his ears.

The fight leaves Todoroki's body, his head clearing as he finally takes in his surroundings. He quickly recognizes his room, the faint illumination coming from the flickering flames that burn behind the lamps on the walls. Outside, the world is still covered in a veil of white, the darkening sky a sign that it's almost nighttime, but the snowstorm seems to have lost force, no longer falling in heavy blankets as it had when he'd gone out.

When he'd gone out, and he and Bakugou had been attacked.

Todoroki's stomach churns as the memories come back, magic swirling angrily in his veins. He switches his focus to Bakugou, who's sitting by his side on the futon, hands still resting against the other's shoulders.

"Are you okay?" Todoroki asks. The sight of blood, dripping from fur to a snow-covered ground, flashes in his mind, and he quickly rakes his eyes over the other. He's back to wearing clothes, but there's no sign of blood or injury anywhere that Todoroki can see.

Bakugou snorts.

"I should be the one asking you that."

"You were bleeding."

"Scabs were ripped off during the fight. They're healed already." Relief floods Todoroki at his words, but Bakugou narrows his eyes. "You, on the other hand, got your leg nearly bitten off, then summoned some kind of fucking monster of death before passing out and stayed unconscious for three fucking days. So, like I said, I should ask you if you're okay."

The wolf bite, which Todoroki had forgotten about, explains the pain in his leg - but that's not the part of what Bakugou said that worries him.

He's been unconscious for three days.

Todoroki grips Bakugou's wrists, a nasty taste filling his mouth.

"How many?"

Bakugou frowns.

"How many what?"

"How many did I kill?" Todoroki doesn't mean to sound so aggressive, but he hates the answer he knows Bakugou is going to give him.

"All of them," Bakugou says without hesitation. His eyes are hard, turning even harder when Todoroki tries to dislodge him with a grunt of pain, but his hold on the magician's shoulders only tightens. "Stop moving, damn it. You're hurt."

His words fall on deaf ears; Todoroki's magic, usually woven seamlessly into him, seems to protest against his skin, and Todoroki can't help but feel tainted, anger he hasn't felt since long ago bubbling to the surface. He doesn't care about the stabs of pain that shoot from his thigh, breath becoming irregular as he fights - he's not sure against what, or why. The only thing he wants is to escape this suffocating feeling that still lingers in the back of his throat, the flashbacks that threaten to overtake his mind.

Frost forms across his right arm, and his left starts heating up.

"What the fuck- What's wrong with you?" Bakugou growls. Todoroki barely notices that the shapeshifter is moving until strong hands come up his wrists, fingers intertwining with his as Bakugou forcefully pushes his arms back against the pillow. "Goddamnit, stop- Todoroki! "

Maybe it's the shock of hearing Bakugou use his name for the first time, but Todoroki finally stops struggling. His mouth hangs open, wide eyes fixed on Bakugou's face, and he's suddenly horrified to realize that they sting with the threat of tears. The pressure of Bakugou's skin against his hands brings a sense of security, grounding him in the present. His magic curls languidly at the point of contact, slowly allowing Todoroki to take control over it once again, frost melting and dampening both their clothes and heat subsiding to a bearable temperature.

When Bakugou starts to pull away Todoroki instinctively holds him tighter. The shapeshifter swallows, eyes flickering towards their joined hands before he nods, a gesture that's more for his own sake than Todoroki's.

"Okay," he says. Silence fills the room, Todoroki's heart slowing down bit by bit as he stares at Bakugou with a strange kind of fascination.

This close, Todoroki is distracted by details he's never noticed before. Bakugou's eyelashes are long and almost translucent - pretty is the only word Todoroki can think of to describe it - and his skin looks soft except for where tiny wrinkles form between his eyebrows.

It's endearing, how Bakugou doesn't even seem to realize they're there.

"Calmed down now?" Bakugou suddenly asks.

Todoroki snaps back to reality enough to nod and relax his grip on the shapeshifter's hands. He immediately misses the contact, but allows Bakugou to lean back.

With a wince of pain, Todoroki struggles to pull himself up to a sitting position, lifting up the blankets to take a closer look at the damage to his leg. His shirt - which has been changed from the one he'd been wearing - only covers until the top of his thighs, and his pants have been removed, most likely in order to give access to the nasty bite that decorates the outside of his right thigh.

Pushing the small wave of embarrassment that hits him aside - it's puzzling, because Todoroki shouldn't be embarrassed, since he's seen Bakugou naked several times - Todoroki quickly assesses the stitches that hold the wound closed. It's a messy job, but there's no sign of an infection.

"I didn't know how to make that... healing paste thing or whatever," Bakugou says. Todoroki raises his head, surprised at how uncharacteristicallyapologetic he sounds.

"Thank you," Todoroki replies. "For taking care of me even after... after what I did."

Bakugou's expression turns into a frustrated frown.

"For fuck's sake, you keep making a big deal out of it. What the fuck even was that?"

Todoroki's fingers tighten around the blankets before he relaxes again, letting out a resigned sigh. He could refuse to tell Bakugou the truth, but that would be for nothing - and it's not like it'll make a difference whether he knows or not. Todoroki's sure Bakugou is going to leave as soon as the storm clears out regardless.

He's not sure why the thought bothers him so much.

"My kind of magic has two sources," he starts, under Bakugou's intense gaze. "One of them comes from myself. It's the part of magic I was born with, the one that makes my powers an extension of my body. And then there's another, which is the one I used that day."

"Which is?"

"Dark magic." Todoroki's eyes turn cold, lips tilting downwards in a grimace. "More powerful, more dangerous. No one really knows where it comes from, and most are smart enough to keep away from it. Meddling with it does... bad things to you. And to others."

Bakugou shifts slightly, doubt etched on his features when he says, "You don't seem like the kind of guy who'd go after something stupid like that."

Todoroki can't help but laugh, a bitter sound that reveals the lingering anger that comes with talking about this subject. It's not enough to make him lose control of his magic like before, but it's still unsettling.

"Tell that to my shitty old man." Todoroki says. His gaze moves from Bakugou to the storm outside, his mind filled with memories of things he'd left behind centuries ago. "He was obsessed with it. Thought that I, as a powerful magician's son, should know it too."

Todoroki tells Bakugou everything. It doesn't take long for him to lose track of time - he could've been talking for ten minutes or an hour - too caught up in the memories that play out almost as if he were there again as the words leave his mouth. He talks about the study sessions with his father, as his magic was forced to accept interference from something hideous, power so tainted it felt like slime crawling through his veins and left a bad taste in his mouth every time he chanted the incantation words.

He tells Bakugou about the beginning, when he would spend days unconscious after using dark magic, and how that had happened less and less often as his body became accustomed to it. That sense of wrongness had never fully gone away, and Todoroki still spent countless hours feeling sick afterwards, unable to keep anything on his stomach and wishing he could step out of his own skin. His brothers and sister, at least, were safe from the cruel training, their magic having been deemed too weak by Enji to give them much more than a fleeting thought.

All throughout his story, Todoroki sneaks glances towards Bakugou who listens to him with an unreadable expression and unusual silence. Todoroki is thankful for that - it's easier to just go through it all without interruptions.

He is able to keep his voice even until he has to explain what happened with his mother. Then Todoroki stops with a shuddering breath, ignoring Bakugou's inquisitive stare as he tries to get used to the sudden wave of hurt and anger that fills his chest. He hasn't thought about this for so long - he hadn't expected the feelings to still be so raw.

"I told you how dark magic can affect others," he finally says. "You don't necessarily have to use it, but if you're constantly exposed to it, it'll mess with your head. My mother was afraid of what my old man could do - of what I could do."

After centuries, Todoroki's gotten used to the scar on his face enough that he's barely aware of it most of the time. Now, however, as he talks about the day his mother attacked him, he can almost feel the way her magic had burned his skin - only it wasn't her magic, couldn't be; her magic was kind, her power ice, while that was angry, raging fire, which she should not have been able to wield.

Nevertheless, she had, and the horror in her eyes - for what she'd done, he'd come to understand later, not for him - was the last thing Todoroki saw before Enji took her away.

"Where did he take her?" Bakugou asks.

"I don't know." Todoroki's hands close in a fist, knuckles turning white. "I could never find out, and he wouldn't tell me." He sighs, forcing his palms to fall open over the blankets, refusing to let his anger take the best of himself once again. "I ran away from the house not long after that. A few decades, maybe. It's hard to say for sure - it was a long time ago."

Bakugou doesn't say anything for a few moments, and Todoroki wonders if he thinks there's more. He's about to tell him that's all there is to the story when Bakugou huffs, getting up from the futon to inch closer to the window. He stares at the snow that falls outside before turning towards Todoroki, his usual scowl back on his face.

"Your dad is a fucking jerk, I get it. So you've been hiding from him? Is this why you live in the middle of fucking nowhere?"

Todoroki slowly nods, unsure of why Bakugou sounds so angry.

"Why the fuck didn't you just kick his ass?"

"I told you, didn't I? He's powerful. I couldn't win without using dark magic, and that was something I-" Todoroki resists the urge to rub his temple, feeling the start of a headache settling in. He's tired; whether from the conversation or his injuries, he doesn't know. "Something I'd promised myself I'd never do again."


Bakugou snorts, and Todoroki looks at him in confusion.

"I've seen plenty of magicians, and their power is nothing compared to yours. And if you think you can just hide forever - I'm telling you, that's fucking bullshit. And all this shit about dark magic and blaming yourself for using it - are you telling me you'd rather have let me die?"

Todoroki's left flabbergasted, unsure how to respond to Bakugou's outburst. There are things in what he's saying that he'd rather not think about, truths he's avoided ever since the day he decided to go off on his own. Besides, it's the first time Todoroki's seen Bakugou like this - he looks angry, but it's different from how he was when they'd first met, or the constant state of irritableness he's usually in. His lips are pressed into a thin line, and Todoroki is surprised to see his eyes shimmering with unshed tears.

"Because that's what would've happened, okay? I was cornered, and I would've fucking died," Bakugou growls, a flash of fangs poking out of his mouth. He spits the words out like they're painful, and Todoroki knows they must be - they're a hit to his pride, something that's Bakugou showed time and time again to be something incredibly important to him. "So it's not like you were doing it for some shitty reason. And you might have passed out and made me take care of you, but you didn't let that thing control you. You were stronger. So stop acting like a fucking idiot. I'm going to make dinner now."

It takes Todoroki a few moments to process Bakugou's sudden ending of the conversation, and by the time he opens his mouth to say something the shapeshifter is already out of the room.

Perhaps Todoroki should go after him, but his body is heavy, pulses of pain spreading for his thigh. The idea of trying to use magic to support himself to walk is enough to make him lie back down. His power is still unstable, after all, even more so now that Bakugou's left the room and Todoroki is alone with his conflicting thoughts.

Flashes of his childhood mix with scenes from the fight at the clearing, emotions he's not used to feeling threatening to overwhelm him. At least the anger is gone, his magic no longer fighting against him, but rather flowing lazily as if it, too, wishes to rest.

Eventually, Todoroki succumbs once again to exhaustion, eyes closing as he falls into a restless sleep.

When he wakes up, the air is permeated with the aroma of cooking.

The pain in his leg and his headache have diminished, and while Todoroki still wouldn't classify how he feels as fine, it's better than before. He doesn't think he's slept for long, if Bakugou is still cooking, but he's starting to feel restless being stuck to his futon.

Pulling himself up until he's sitting, Todoroki takes a deep breath before attempting to summon his magic. A strange calm washes over him when it responds without protest, unfurling from his hand until he's holding a crutch made of ice. A small smile graces his features - he feels more like himself now that his magic is entirely his again.

Todoroki quickly puts the crutch aside before making another. Getting up is challenging, but he manages to do so without making any sound that might alert Bakugou to what he's doing. Trying to pull some pants on, however, turns out to be impossible, and Todoroki gives up after a particularly painful pull from his thigh. He'd hate to open the stitches and give Bakugou even more trouble; it's curious, the way their roles now are practically reversed from when Todoroki had been the one taking care of Bakugou's wounds.

He settles for awkwardly wrapping one of the blankets around his waist, though keeping it in place while using the icy crutches he's made isn't the easiest task. At least he doesn't have to worry about the cold, with his magic already moving to keep his body warm.

Todoroki stops as he's about to enter the living room, staring at the fire that burns hot in the fireplace. By its side, there's more wood piled up, and the realization that Bakugou must've braved the storm again for it while Todoroki lay unconscious spreads a warm feeling through him that has nothing to do with the heat of the fire or his magic.

His gaze wanders until it meets Bakugou who is busy pouring what looks like steaming soup into two bowls in the kitchen.

"That smells good."

Bakugou yelps, nearly dropping the soup as he whirls around to look at Todoroki.

"What the fuck are you doing here? And walking?"

"I have help." Todoroki motions with his head to the crutches as he half-jumps towards a chair. By the time he settles down, his leg is throbbing, but other than that the wound doesn't seem worse.

Instead of placing the crutches by his side, Todoroki evaporates them with his left hand. They'd only melt with the heat from the fireplace anyway, and he can use his magic again later.

"Stubborn magician," Bakugou mutters, making his way around Todoroki to hand him a bowl and spoon before he settles on the floor directly across him, back against the wall.

The silence that hangs between them isn't awkward, but it isn't comfortable either; it's a heavy silence, tension-filled as Todoroki pushes the vegetables on his soup around with his spoon, trying to figure out what to say.

"I didn't spend time cooking for you to play with the food, Todoroki," Bakugou suddenly says. Todoroki's head snaps up, his heart beating faster; he hurriedly feels for his magic, wondering if it's getting out of control again, but it's still swirling peacefully now that it's not being used. Bakugou smirks and adds, "Eat."

It's not an excuse to avoid talking this time. Todoroki is sure Bakugou knows there's things he needs to say, but he's giving him time, even if he isn't putting it into words. And the use of his name once again - Todoroki doesn't know why that makes him feel so content, even more so than the delicious taste of the food Bakugou's prepared. He hadn't realized how hungry he was until now.

"I didn't know you could cook," Todoroki says after half his bowl is already empty.

"Tch. I might spend most of the time in my wolf form, but I'm still part human. I don't just hunt and eat raw meat," Bakugou says. "Raw meat tastes kinda gross, actually." Then, perhaps realizing he hasn't answered the question, he adds, "The old hag taught me."

"Old hag?"

"My mom," Bakugou explains. Despite the way he scowls, Todoroki hears a hint of fondness in his voice; his own chest squeezes with something akin to longing. "She was pretty weird for a shapeshifter. My dad too. They didn't like to wander around."

"Oh." Todoroki slowly chews on a carrot, trying to imagine a young Bakugou and having to suppress a smile at the thought. "Where are they now?"

"Hell if I know," Bakugou says through a mouthful of food. "Haven't seen them in, what, decades? They have to move every once in awhile so the humans don't suspect anything. I ran into them a few times since I left home though. Fucking hag wouldn't let me leave again for days."

Todoroki doesn't try to contain his smile, now, which turns into a laugh when Bakugou huffs at him.

For the remainder of dinner and hours afterwards, Todoroki asks Bakugou about his family, questions to which he receives begrudging answers. Talking about Bakugou's past distracts him from the pain of his own, and Todoroki is fascinated by the way Bakugou's features seem to soften when he's not paying attention as he speaks.

Hearing about his parents, Todoroki thinks about what it would be like, to spend centuries with someone like that, without getting tired, without... fearing, or hating each other.

He listens to Bakugou talk, a soft smile on his face, and wonders.

Later, back in his room, Todoroki has Bakugou bring him the ingredients for the healing paste, which he applies over the stitches on his thigh before bandaging it up. He's felt worse pain than the constant throbbing from the wound before, but the relief provided by the medicine is still something he's thankful for.

"Just... call out or something if you need anything during the night," Bakugou says when he comes to pick up the used utensils. Todoroki can't tell if it's an effect of the lamps, but his cheeks seem redder than usual. "I'm going to fucking rip those stitches out myself if you try walking by yourself again."

Todoroki's hand moves before he can think, latching onto the shapeshifter's wrist before he can go too far. Bakugou turns towards him with a questioning look and Todoroki bites his lip, unsure of how Bakugou will take what he's going to say next.

"Sleep here tonight."

This time, Todoroki is sure it's not a trick of the light that makes Bakugou's cheeks flare up.

"Uh," is the only answer he gives.

Todoroki slowly lets go of his wrist, suddenly nervous.

"I just thought that it might be easier if you're, um, here. If I have to call for you. The storm - it's loud."

Todoroki doesn't know why he's having so much trouble getting the words out in a sensible manner. What he said does seem to snap Bakugou out of his daze, however, because he nods, muttering a quick yeah, sure before leaving the room.

When he comes back, it's in his wolf form. Todoroki feels a pang of disappointment in his chest, but it's not entirely unexpected, and he's still happy that Bakugou has agreed to stay in the first place.

After Bakugou has settled down by his side, Todoroki uses his magic to put out the flames in the lamps, plunging the room into almost complete darkness. Todoroki's magic swirls, heating up the cold air - he won't be able to keep projecting it when he falls asleep, but there's something he needs to do before that.

He reaches out, stretching his arm until he meets soft fur. Todoroki sighs as he lets his fingers sink into it, feeling Bakugou shift under his hand. He can't turn to the side due to his injury, but he can still feel the wolf's questioning eyes on him.

"Can you change back?" Todoroki asks.

There's a moment when nothing happens, and Todoroki thinks Bakugou is going to ignore his request. Suddenly, however, his magic rushes towards his fingertips as fur gives way to skin, his hand now resting against Bakugou's neck.

"I'd never let you die," Todoroki whispers. It's easier to say it now, staring at the darkness, letting the words get lost amidst the low crackling of fire that comes from the living room and the dying winds of the storm. "No matter what I had to do."

Todoroki starts to pull his arm back, but he barely has time to regret the loss of contact when Bakugou takes his hand in his, and then he's in Todoroki's field of vision, leaning over him with his silhouette barely illuminated by the moonlight, careful not to put any weight on Todoroki's injury.

"I know," he says.

Maybe it's Bakugou that initiates the movement, but Todoroki meets him halfway, raising his head up until their lips are pressed together. He expects Bakugou to be rough, but instead he's met with a slow, tentative kiss; Bakugou props himself on his elbow, running his thumb over Todoroki's knuckles before intertwining their fingers and pushing his arm back against the pillow much like he'd done earlier that day.

Todoroki's been with a few people a long time ago, before he secluded himself in the mountains. He knows the tingling of magic, the heat of skin on skin, but this is more than that; the way Bakugou whispers his name, his first name - Shouto - against his mouth burns through his veins with far more intensity than anything he's ever felt before, pulling a weak sound from his throat.

Outside, the storm is beginning to thin, and there are ghosts of the past and of an uncertain future waiting to haunt him. But Todoroki can only focus on Bakugou, on the warmth of his mouth and the softness of his touch, on the body moving against his own and the way Bakugou lets out his voice with Todoroki's name falling from his lips over and over again.

Later, with his arms wrapped against the shapeshifter that snores quietly with his face tucked into his neck, Todoroki closes his eyes with a happy sigh, the fingers that were playing with the edges of Bakugou's hair slowing their movement as a peaceful sleep claims him.

Let me tell you something, guys: writer's block sucks.

I know this chapter is really late, and I apologize - I had a rough few weeks and not being able to write wasn't helping. But then the official halloween merch came out and I fucking died over Wolf!Baku JASSJKADASLDGAJHSD

Inspiration came back pretty quick after that, and this chapter ended up being longer than usual - which I hope makes up for the wait! With this, the story is almost completely over, with the next chapter being the last one.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading, and as always, comments are deeply appreciated!