Written for the BakuTodo Week event on Tumblr. Prompt: Loss.
He can see them. He can hear them, crying for help, reaching out their hands for him, only for them to slip out of his grasp and there's something slick that won't let him hold on to them, and when he looks down he sees the blood, there's so much blood and so many desperate voices and so many pleading eyes that lose their life as soon as he gets close to them-
Todoroki's panting, whimpering as Bakugou shakes him awake, calling his name over and over again. He opens his eyes, but doesn't register the other's face leaning over him; he's still too imersed in his nightmare to make sense of his surroundings, vaguely aware that his body feels both too hot and too cold, his Quirk out of control as he desperately struggles against the images burning behind his eyelids.
"Shouto, snap out of it," Bakugou says again. "Shouto, it's me. Damn it, wake up. You're here now, it's over. Shouto - ugh - wake up."
Bakugou's voice is strained, and it's the pain he can hear in it that pulls Todoroki back to reality.
"Katsuki," he gasps, trying to regain control of his Quirk, his lungs burning with the effort to get as much air as he can. He notices there's something holding his arms down - Bakugou's hands, which are in direct contact with his skin. "I hurt you," he says, that ugly feeling in his chest squeezing harder.
"It's nothing." Bakugou leans back, removing the pressure from Todoroki's body, and pushes him away as the other tries to take hold of his hands to examine the burns that are probably there. "I'm not weak, Shouto. I can handle your Quirk for a few seconds."
Before Todoroki can protest, Bakugou pulls him close - his touch a bit lighter than usual, he notices, which means he's in more pain than he's letting on - and presses his nose to Todoroki's hair, fingers threading through the damp strands.
"You're shaking," he says, his voice unusually soft, in a way that Todoroki knows he only uses when they're alone like this. It's true - Todoroki's body is drenched in sweat, and he's still shivering; if from his Quirk or his nightmare, he doesn't know.
Todoroki doesn't reply, and Bakugou doesn't say anything else. They're used to this - to the nightmares, the sleepless nights, the crushing guilt over every life they failed to save when they were so close within their reach. Many times, it's the other way around, with Todoroki waking up to a screaming Bakugou, and it's his turn to hold the other close, to calm him with gentle whispers of his name.
It's a part of their hero lives they can't get rid of. The lives lost, the people they couldn't be a hero for, those are things that inevitably happen in their line of work, and they both know it. They learned long ago that it can't be changed. But the guilt will always be there, the if I had gotten there earlier or if I had been faster - if, if, if.
And that's why Bakugou doesn't try to say that it's okay, doesn't try to tell Todoroki it's not his fault, because he feels the same way as Todoroki and he understands. He simply holds him, waiting until he stops shivering, listening as his breath eases into the regular sound that tells him Todoroki's finally fallen back asleep.
Only then does Bakugou allow himself to close his eyes, giving in to the exhaustion that seeps through his limbs.
Todoroki will feel better the next day, and he'll go out and save more people, and Bakugou will do the same. Sometimes they will fall, and the lives that were lost because they couldn't be there for them will come back to haunt them in their dreams, but they'll keep pushing forward, between blood and screams and whispered words and gentle touches.
Because they're heroes, but they're also humans.
And at the very least, they know they'll always be there for each other.
This fic is part of another collab with the wonderful dontblamelys from Tumblr! You can find the link to the amazing art she made for it on my profile.