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Todoroki Shoto didn’t smile. Todoroki Shoto never showed his emotions. And because of this, most everyone at UA thought Todoroki Shoto was of the same nature as his quirk - cold, dangerous, unfeeling. But Class 1A was different. They knew better than anyone that just because Todoroki Shoto didn’t say much didn’t mean he didn’t care.

Mina

Mina couldn’t take it anymore. The cramps were getting worse, and at this point, with how much she’d twisted and turned all over the couch, she more or less resembled human taffy. Trying to hold back tears, she cursed the ever-loving shit over whoever invented periods. And she knew in the back corner of her mind that what she was thinking didn’t make any sense, that it was a natural biological process and not really anyone’s fault but trying telling Mina that right now and she’d be liable to rip your head off. That’s how bad her state was.

Worse, she’d just come from hero training. Bless her female friends for noticing her predicament, wincing all the while. Uraraka-chan asked permission from Aizawa-sensei for her to leave early so that she could visit Recovery Girl, while Yao-Mo even offered to make her some pads with her quirk, but even Mina wasn’t that shameless. With thanks, she explained she had some left in her room and hightailed it out of there. Full of frustration, she continuously rebuked herself thinking if she couldn’t even handle a few cramps, then there was no way she would become a top hero (though she’d swear that the pain might almost be comparable to one of All Might’s punches).

Ha! If a female hero ever got underestimated again, she’d dare those puny ass males to undergo what her gender went through every month. They wouldn’t last even a second.

Left to her increasingly violent thoughts, she didn’t notice someone’s presence till her name was called.

“Ashido.”

That deep timber couldn’t have belonged to anyone else. And of course, he’d be the first one back after splendidly finishing the training. Tapping down her embarrassment, she tried to go for a smile.

“What is it Todoroki?” Her tone was equal parts trembly and weak. Her normally buoyant voice came out in a slight wheeze through gritted teeth. The smile she was going for probably turned into a grimace. Even so, she tried her best to smile at her classmate, and fellow dormmate, the ever as always cool and composed Todoroki, carrying a plastic bag in one hand.

“…You alright?” He said it in the same monotone voice, but it seemed like he was concerned. Mina found it hard to tell.

Waving her hand around carelessly, she answered in a flippant voice (or at least tried to), “Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I be?” Stupid question. And her picture of nonchalance was probably ruined by her still lying down and clutching at her stomach painfully.

“Hmmm…,” Todoroki murmurs, handing the plastic bag to a surprised Mina, “It’s just that earlier…You were moving more than usual, but at the same time, it seemed as if you were forcing yourself.”

If Mina was surprised before, it didn’t compare to how astonished she felt now as she rifled through the plastic bag to find all kinds of chocolates and even a warm water bag. She wondered if she was gaping open-mouthed.

“Nee-san always says chocolates are a necessity during…this time of the month. I also warmed the water bag a bit. I couldn’t buy the…,” Todoroki seemed to struggle as he tried to find the proper word but settled it with, “other things you might need. I was hoping Yaoyorozu or Uraraka or the others might have taken care of that.”

Mina was still speechless. She might have looked like a pink fish out of water, staring at Todoroki who was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

Todoroki turns a bit away letting his hair fall to shield his eyes. “Sorry, I might have breached your privacy.”

“Hey, wait!” Todoroki stayed where he was, still with that blank expression on his face.

Mina had the same line of thought as him. Normally, it’d have been creepy, if it was say Mineta, but Mina realized this was his way of looking out for her. She was just a bit speechless because the hottest guy in their class bought her two-thirds of the essentials for a period kit. A minor part of her brain thought he’d make a great boyfriend for someone else someday. The major part thought that, no that was wrong. This wasn’t just some Ikemen. This was Todoroki, her classmate, and her friend.

With all the cheerfulness she could muster, she grinned huge and wide as if a million arrows weren’t torturing her uterus, and beamed, “Thank you Todoroki!”

He didn’t even smile, just nodded and left her in peace, but Mina knew anyway that it was just his way of looking out for other people.

Rikido

KA-BOOM!

Todoroki sighed. Here he was hoping that with most of the dorm residents out enjoying the week-end off, he’d have a little bit of peace and quiet. Of course, peace, much less quiet, was a lost cause with Bakugou still in the dorm. Then, he realized that the noise came from somewhere else and not from anywhere near where his belligerent classmate’s room was. Neither did it come from the courtyard where he could be training.

Deciding to inspect the source of the noise, he left his green tea where it was and ended up in front of Sato’s room. He knocked and waited for his larger classmate to come out. When he did, he was only mildly surprised to see the other boy was covered in soot marks. Disregarding the possibility of an enemy, seeing as Sato was smiling sheepishly, he decided to ask what happened.

“Sorry ‘bout the noise,” says Sato as he rubs the back of his head, “I was baking a cake but then the oven suddenly exploded.”

“…Oh.” It wasn’t worse than he thought. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m not injured, although,” here, Sato started to look back inside mournfully, “That was my only oven.” He then looked back to Todoroki questioningly, “I don’t suppose you know how to fix appliances?” When Todoroki shook his head, Sato sighed deeply. “Well of course, right, that’d be too good to be true. Sorry Todoroki. Nothing for it then, have to ask the support department for a favor.”

Having confirmed his classmate’s safety, Todoroki should have left then for the relative silence of his room. But he didn’t and stayed rooted to the spot.

Sato also expected Todoroki to have gone back already as he started to talk to himself aloud. “I don’t really mind the oven though of course it might cost me to repair, but I kind of feel bad for the cake. I wanted to finish it by the time the others got back so we could have it for a snack. I kinda don’t want to throw it away unfinished too.”

“..Can I help?”

“Woah, Todoroki, sorry didn’t expect you to still be here.” After getting over the slight shock, Sato scrutinized their most powerful student. Well there was one thing he could help with…

“You sure you don’t mind doing this?” Sato asked for the nth time as he handed Todoroki the baking pan containing the chocolate cake batter.

“No,” Todoroki hummed noncommittally, “Besides, it may also provide good training in controlling my quirk.”

“Sheesh, you, Midoriya, and Bakugou really are obsessed with being the best. What was that saying again about all work and no play?” Todoroki decided not to answer him opting instead to focus on generating the optimal temperature for baking the cake with his quirk. Deciding to continue the conversation, Sato asked him, “Do you prefer your desserts sweet? I’m preparing the ganache now.” He expertly mixed a chocolate mixture in a bowl, as he said, “You’ll have to hold that for fifteen minutes.”

“I don’t like sweet things,” he answered while making himself comfortable, sitting cross-legged on Sato’s floor as he steadily held the pan.

“Alright, I’ll add some more chocolate then, and add less the usual amount of sugar.”

“You don’t have to-“

“It’s no problem. To be honest, eating sugar all the time for my quirk gets kinda tiring. It’d be nice to eat something bittersweet for a change. I’ll make a dark chocolate cake and we can have it with some tea with everybody when they get back.”

Looking at Sato’s smiling face, and at the baking pan in his hands, Todoroki thought of his past self who swore he’d never use his father’s power. And here he was, using his left side for mundane tasks like heating a water pack or baking a cake. But that was wrong wasn’t it? Because it wasn’t his father’s power after all. It was his, and he’d use it for any purpose he’d like, and this wasn’t a bad way to use it in his opinion. He didn’t get to be alone on his rare day off, and he’d even be with his rambunctious classmates later eating cake, but unlike before, the prospect didn’t leave him feeling tired. “I have some green tea to go with it.”

“Perfect!”

Koji

Koji was in heaven, pure, fluffy, furry, kitty heaven. He noticed a pregnant mother cat on one his walks one day, and noticing that it was near labor, decided to take it to the dorm to take care of her. He fed her milk and saved some money to buy kitty treats. She’d birthed five kittens a while ago, and right now Koji was having the time of his life snuggling all of them in the courtyard as the mother cat lounged beneath the shade of a tree.

Koji was distracted but could somehow feel the presence of someone near him. Looking up from where he was lying down on the grass, he met the strangely intense stare of one of their two recommended students, arguably the strongest in their class, Todoroki Shoto-san.

Koji shivered, wondering why he was staring at him like that. Was he mad? Did he do something to offend the other boy? Though Koji and Todoroki were both sparse with their words and had that in common, they rarely interacted. He couldn’t even remember a time where they exchanged two words with each other aside from in group conversations. But then, although his first instinct was to go back inside the dorm, Koji stayed where he was and realized something fundamental about his classmate. Because underneath that seemingly cold glare, Koji could recognize a kindred spirit. There was no way he, Koda Koji, could ever fail to recognize a fellow animal lover!

“Ano…Todoroki-san?” Koda’s teensy voice broke Todoroki out of his trance, likely because it was rarely heard. “Would you like to pet the kitties?”

“Hmm.” That was most likely acquiescence, but Todoroki-san didn’t move from his spot. Koji then asked his friends a favor, though for them it was less a favor and more of a chance to play. As one, the five furballs rushed at the still Todoroki like a cavalry set to bring down a dragon. They latched onto his pants legs, and one even managed to hook its teeny claws on his blazer. As it was about to fall, Todoroki gently cradled it in his hands. If Koda was less pure and more conniving, he’d have taken a picture of the plus ultra cute scene and made a fortune. As Koda was one hundred percent marshmallow at heart, he just looked on, content.

It was hard to tell from his face since he almost always kept the same expression, but while Todoroki-san looked a bit unnerved, his aura seemed peaceful. “Koda, how do I pet them?”

Ambling over, Koda then proceeded to teach Todoroki how to hold each kitty, as Todoroki listened seriously as if in one of UA’s hero lectures. When Todoroki suddenly took out a cattail from out of nowhere, Koda seriously wondered who was more of a cat lover between Aizawa-sensei and Todoroki-san.

Ochako

“Pssst. Todoroki-kun!”

Todoroki looked to the side of the couch to find a frantic Uraraka whispering to him. Her face was eerily reminiscent of the one she sported during her fight with Bakugou, battle-ready and emitting so much bloodlust that Todoroki had to wonder if she was challenging him to a duel.

Taking his raised eyebrow as enough of a sign that he was listening, she cautiously looked left and right before leaning forward, “Could I please talk to you privately?”

Now, Todoroki raised both eyebrows, clearly confused and locked in a mini-staring contest with the usually bubbly girl. Without a word, he stood up from the couch and motioned for Uraraka to follow, who did so happily.

Both didn’t notice the green-haired boy looking at the scene agape.

“Man, I don’t even know what kind of face you’re making right now,” Kaminari says while patting Midoriya’s shoulder sympathetically. He turns to peer more closely at his classmate’s face. “It doesn’t even look human anymore.”

“So what is it you want to talk about?” Todoroki sits seiza style on one cushion as Uraraka sits facing him on the other side of the round table. Fight-mode Uraraka is gone, replaced with a blushing mess of a maiden twiddling her fingers. If only Todoroki was more shoujo-aware, such a scene would be ringing alarm bells right now, but alas this aspiring hero is unfortunately a socially-awkward dork. It just isn’t that obvious.

Anyway, Uraraka continues to sit silent, but unlike most people, Todoroki can be patient. It’s just that he gets sleepy. Of course, he won’t do his classmate the discourtesy of sleeping on her, but the faster that they can get this over with, the better. Unfortunately, Uraraka doesn’t seem ready to speak to him yet, and instead continues to mutter things under her breath. Huh, she’s becoming more like Midoriya, Todoroki thinks distantly.

While Todoroki is thinking this, Uraraka gulps in a huge breath of air as if readying herself, and lets it all out in one blow, “You see Todoroki-kun, I wanted to ask your advice since you might have experience in things like this. I have this friend, yeah well my friend has another friend, a boy, no not a boyfriend! Just a very close friend who also happens to be a guy. Anyway, they’re really close and the girl is really comfortable around the boy’s presence, but lately the girl seems to be acting strangely around the boy, like her face becomes hot and her heart starts beating fast, and, and she was worried that it might affect her friendship with the boy, and, and she just can’t have that.” Uraraka ends on a distraught note, breathing heavily, fists clenched on her chest, and catching her breath.

“…I see.” Todoroki doesn’t really know what to make of that display or the words she said in a rush, but if he understood it correctly…“So, you have a problem that concerns you and Midoriya?”

“That’s…!” Uraraka could deny it, but there would be no point. Todoroki almost seems bored as he says it, but of course he would have figured it out. In a quiet voice, almost a whisper, Uraraka clarifies, “It’s not really a problem. Well maybe, I wouldn’t be honest if I said that. The truth is, the problem lies with me.”

Todoroki doesn’t answer her as he seems to be thinking deeply and contemplating. “I don’t really know what advice to give you, except maybe go see a doctor. If you’re feeling nauseous, there’s a pressure point on the instep of your foot that you could press.” It’s the best advice he could give considering his limited experience. Actually, he has to ask, “Uraraka, what did you mean by my having experience? I’m not a medical practitioner. Why did you seek me out for advice?”

No response.

“Uraraka?”

One Uraraka Ochaco couldn’t help but deadpan at the absurd answer given to her. And this! This answer given to her by one of the smartest people in their class! She guesses IQ and EQ are really two different things. And he’d definitely fail any test measuring EQ if he was joking with her at this moment.

Exasperated, she decides to answer his second question, “It’s because you and Yaoyorozu-san like each other and yet you can still continue to act like normal friends! Mou!”

“…”

“Todoroki-kun?”

No response.

Ok, now she was getting worried.  “Heeeeey, Todoroki-kun?”

Blinking slowly, as if rebooting, Todoroki said afterwards, completely deadpan, “I don’t know where you got that notion, but me and Yaoyorozu don’t have that kind of relationship, except as you mentioned, as friends.”

“But, but, you went to the festival together! We invited Yaoyorozu-san, but then she told us she couldn’t go. Then, when we were there, we saw the two of you together. Yaoyorozu-san was so pretty too and in a beautiful yukata. Nowadays, modern girls wouldn’t wear a yukata to a festival unless they were going with someone special. What else can you call that, Todoroki-kun, besides a date?” Uraraka laid down the facts as if she was a detective in a noir drama. Getting into her character, she asked triumphantly, “Checkmate Todoroki-kun! How do you explain that?”

“Simple.” If possible, Todoroki’s tone got even blander. “Me and Yaoyorozu met each other at the festival by coincidence. She was already there by the time I got there. I escorted her, as a friend.”

Defeated by cold logic, Ochako could only get on her hands and knees. She could argue that he was lying, but Todoroki-kun had no reason to and it wasn’t in his character either. If he didn’t want to say the truth, he just didn’t say anything at all. Then, as Ochako realized the implications of this whole incident, she screamed internally and wanted to suffocate herself with the cushion she was just sitting on.

Ochako wanted to get Todoroki-kun’s advice because she was sure he and their vice-rep were already dating, or at least shared mutual feelings, but in class they remained and acted as normal friends. Stupid Ochako! Of course they acted like normal friends, because that’s what they were! And now that Todoroki-kun knew that Ochako was talking about her and Deku-kun, and even compared their situation with his (supposed) situation with Yaoyorozu-san, even someone like Todoroki-kun with such a low emotional quotient could put two and two together to realize…

“Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.”

His words melted her worries away, though lingering embarrassment was still there. Of course, Todoroki-kun would keep it a secret. That was one of the reasons why she decided to ask his advice in the first place instead of turning to one of the other girls. She knew he’d take it to his grave if she asked him to.

“And sorry about this.” And he was even apologizing for inadvertently finding out even if it was her misunderstanding that caused this whole situation in the first place.

“Don’t worry about it Todoroki-kun. Thanks.”

Leaving his room, Ochako somehow felt a bit lighter. Even if a solution to her problem couldn’t be found yet, it somehow felt cathartic to crystallize her feelings and have someone else know, even if she could never tell Deku-kun.

‘I like Deku-kun.’

Just thinking the words made her blush, even as she tried to tamp it down with both hands on her cheeks. Her embarrassment at misunderstanding that Todoroki-kun liked Yaoyorozu-san also compounded to double her shame.

But wait…

When Yaoyorozu-san recounted the story to them after some light prodding, she explained that she saw them at the same time Hagakure-san and her saw Todoroki-kun with who they assumed was a random cute girl. So why wouldn’t Yaoyorozu-san greet them? On that same matter, if Yaoyorozu-san saw them, it was highly likely that Todoroki-kun also saw them. Why wouldn’t they both join a larger group of friends to explore the festival? It was as if they preferred to be alone together. And that reaction earlier in his room! When Todoroki-kun froze! And his specific denial when normally he’d let whatever insinuations fly over his head.

Could it be, they hadn’t realized yet?!

“Fufufufufufufu,” Uraraka chuckled evilly to herself, “A secret for a secret huh, Todoroki-kun?”

Yaoyorozu-san was a precious friend, and Todoroki-kun was too. For their happiness, it would be fun for her to give them a gentle nudge towards each other.

But first,

“Uraraka-san! Umm…what were you doing in Todoroki-kun’s room if you don’t mind my asking!”

“Eep!”

She had to solve this darn blushing problem around a certain All Might fanboy.

 Hanta

Hanta got along well with pretty much everybody. Even if he wasn’t particularly remarkable, he took pride in his easy humor.

So when his opponent from the sports festival (who absolutely crushed him by the way) suddenly took him aside to formally bow and apologize to him, he took it in stride.

“Hey, man, it’s no problem. That’s way behind us.”

See, now if he was Bakugou, he’d probably be fuming and threatening to blow up Todoroki for looking down on him, but Hanta didn’t doubt the guy’s sincere intentions. Bakugou was just too freaking paranoid.

“I wanted to talk to you for another reason besides apologize. I wanted to ask advice.”

Talk about a turn of events! Todoroki was the elite of the elite, in both grades and skill, while Hanta was at best, average. What could he possibly have to teach him? (Huh, apparently, Hanta was more self-depreciating than he thought.)

“I was hoping you could teach me how to make jokes.”

Wait, what? The fact that neither of the corners of Todoroki’s mouth were even slightly a bit upturned as he said that sentence cemented it for Hanta. The guy wasn’t suited to making jokes.

“What’s this, all of a sudden?” Hanta scratched his head, careful not to hit Todoroki with his elbow, as the other boy started to explain.

“During our supplementary lessons for the licensure exam, I learned the importance of connecting with the people we’re supposed to be rescuing. And humor is one of the best ways to do that. Among our classmates, Sero, you’re one of the people always smiling, and everyone likes you as well.”

“W-well, I don’t know about everyone…” What on earth was he doing getting all embarrassed? But he had to admit, it felt nice to be acknowledged by someone like Todoroki in this way. He’d always assumed Todoroki had everything, especially before when it seemed like Todoroki was this impenetrable pillar of ice that no one else could reach. But of course, no one is perfect, and now Todoroki had changed, had warmed up enough to them to ask for help in the areas he was lacking in.

Well, if he was going to ask for his help, there’s no way Hanta would refuse him, although, “You sure about this? You’d be asking help from ‘don’t mind – guy’. With that track record, if I don’t make it as a hero, I think I might hit it big as a comedian.”

“You’ll make a great hero. You’d also make a great comedian. Heroes can have part-time jobs so there’s nothing disallowing that.” Hanta would assume Todoroki was messing with him if he wasn’t saying it with a completely straight face.

Moving to the common room, Hanta stretched both his limbs, settling down on the couch as Todoroki sat on another chair, as he asked, “So why do you think you can’t make jokes?”

And so, Todoroki began the tale of ‘The Hand-Crusher’.

After Todoroki was finished, he waited for his companion to say something, and when he looked like he wasn’t going to, he prompted him, “Sero?” He even snapped his fingers to catch the other boy’s attention to no avail. He sighed.

First Uraraka? And now, Sero?

Just then, an unholy sound emerged from the Tape Hero. It started as a giggle, then a guffaw, then a cackle of decibel-breaking proportions nearly rocking the whole dorm.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP! I’M TRYING TO SLEEP, SHIT-STAIN!”

Not even Bakugou’s explosive temper could douse Sero’s chuckles. All the while, Todoroki just sat there perplexed.

“Man, hahahaha, that was gold, pure gold. The Hand Crusher pffft…hahahaha. What do you mean you don’t have any humour? That was brilliant.”

“I wasn’t making a joke though.”

“Even better! Listen, Todoroki, don’t change. Just, you be you.” Sero put both hands firmly onto Todoroki’s shoulders, looking him straight in the eye while sporting his trademark grin. He pats both shoulders once, twice, before leaving the room to get some water for his parched throat, still chortling about The Hand Crusher.

Placing his hand on one of his shoulders, Todoroki puzzled silently over whether he’d ever understand any of his classmates. They were all undoubtedly good people though, and that was all he needed to know.

Momo  

“Honestly, Todoroki-san! I expected better from you!”

An angry Yao-Momo was rare (if the other person wasn’t Mineta), and a Yao-Momo angry at Todoroki of all people was even rarer that it was probably extinct. Todoroki was one of the people Momo trusted, even dare say, admired, for his presence both on and outside the battlefield. For Momo, knowing Todoroki-san was there, even if she couldn’t see him, lifted a weight off her shoulders. She’ll research later if it’s a form of psychological dependency born about from the final exams, which would hinder her progress as hero, but for now she admits that while he inspires fear in their enemies, he only ever draws out feelings of comfort from her, and she assumes, from her classmates as well.  

After all, having a strong ally does wonders for your battle-field mentality, but Momo wonders if all of them have been putting an invisible pressure on Todoroki-san’s back as the ‘strongest’ of their class.

It started as a hero exercise, like these incidents always do. Class divided into groups of four, her with Todoroki-san, Sero-san, and Mineta-san. Like the hero internships, they patrolled around the city nearest to them. The only difference being that they weren’t under the supervision of agencies, but by UA teachers. Trouble followed, as they seem to always follow Class 1A. Two villains had appeared, and as one whisked Aizawa-sensei, who’d been supervising their team, away with a warping quirk, his partner, a knife-handler stayed behind to deal with them.

Momo grasped the situation in an instant. None of the people in her team were experts at close-range fighting. And worse, basing it on Todoroki-san’s reaction, the Villain seemed to remind him of Stain. It was likely intentional as based on his costume, the Villian before them seemed to be emulating Stain like a hero. From the ensuing fight, they had all grasped that the Villain had a cutting quirk.

Despite some close calls, none of them were badly hurt except Todoroki who was bleeding heavily. As if deciding on something, he enclosed himself and the villain in an ice dome.

Yes, Momo understood the rationality of it. They were in an urban area. The Villain’s quirk could prove dangerous to civilians. But even if her brain accepted the logic, her heart couldn’t, and she would have been furious without compare if he had done it only to protect them. The latter factored into it, but as she heard him whisper under his breath, ‘I’m counting on you guys,’ she realized he left them out, so they could form the best plan.

As to whether it was the best, Momo couldn’t reasonably know, but it was the best they had under the circumstances. They were fighting against time, since they couldn’t possibly know how their team mate was faring in a prison of his own making.

“Hey, maybe even before we finish, Todoroki would’ve beaten that guy’s ass already?” Mineta-san asked nervously, even as his body kept moving. Sero-san chastised him as he continued to implement his side of the plan. Momo would’ve done so as well, and probably even more sharply, but she knew that Mineta’s words were only born out of denial. There’s no way he could lose…!

In the end, they maximized Sero’s and Mineta’s quirks to bind the knife user, after Momo shot a hole in the ice dome using a woman-made canon, after having warned Todoroki through one of the ear-pieces she’d distributed to everyone earlier.

After the Villain was apprehended, Todoroki nearly stumbled before being supported by Momo on his left side.

“Thanks Yaoyorozu.”

“Arghhhhh, I’m so jealous! He gets to feel those mountains up close and personal. So unfair, I mean, we saved him!”

“Give it up man. He saved us first.”

And for this reason, Momo was as mad as she’d ever been at Todoroki. It wasn’t nearly half as bad as many of the other close calls they’d had over the past year, but anyone with eyes could clearly see that he was far more beat up than the rest of his team mates. She couldn’t help that her insecurities would rise at moments like these.

‘If only I wasn’t there.’

But no, she’d already promised to herself she wouldn’t be beaten by her lack of self-confidence ever again, and it would also be an insult to one of the key people who helped her restore it, the one facing her. The one bleeding heavily from multiple gashes all over his body.

“Oh no Todoroki-san! Let me bandage your wounds at least. Since, we are in the city, Recovery Girl might take longer in arriving.”

Kneeling before him, seated on the ground, Momo chanced to look up to see him looking away from her. Oh, was he that annoyed by her chastisement? Disheartened, she asks, “Todoroki-san, why are you looking away?”

Taking a while to answer, he answers, face still turned away, “I was just worried that you might have opened your shirt to activate your quirk again.”

Spirits sufficiently restored, she replies cheerfully, “No need to worry about that Todoroki-san. The bandages we need are small enough that I don’t need to expose more skin, but even if I had to, I trust Todoroki-san.”

Whipping his head back at a pace that for anyone else would be normal, but for Todoroki Shoto would be the equivalent of causing whiplash, he says gravely, “Yaoyorozu, I’m thankful for your trust but…”

“After all, Todoroki-san isn’t a person like Mineta-san!”

Faced with her sparkle-sparkle aura, even Todoroki couldn’t say anything to break the pure bounciness that was Yaoyorozu Momo.

‘In other words, she doesn’t see me as a guy, huh?’

Shaking away the errant thought, he merely observed Yaoyorozu as she applied disinfectant and wrapped the bandages around his cuts. “If only I had an ability like Recovery Girl, I could heal this faster…,” Yaoyorozu sighed forlornly.

“If so, you’d have to kiss it to make it better.”

Did that just come out of his mouth? Based on the brilliant blush on Yaoyorozu’s face, it apparently did. Regardless, Shoto kept his face placid. He realized early on if he didn’t make a big deal of things, no one else would too.

‘Did that just come out of Todoroki-san’s mouth?’

‘Don’t mind it Momo. He said your yukata suited you nonchalantly too. Todoroki-san is just straightforward. It’s an admirable quality.’

Shoto watched the interplay of emotions on Yaoyorozu’s face from shy embarrassment to sudden solemnity.

“Todoroki-san, why did you do that?” Yaoyorozu briefly stopped her treatment to look him in the eye unflinchingly, even as her mouth was trembling a little.

“It was the best course of action.”

“Yes, I am aware as to the advantages of your plan, but you should have brought back-up inside your dome. It seems to me as if you were protecting us.”

“I…,” Shoto was at a loss of words to say, and so he stared down at his left hand, opening and closing it as he thought of the best answer to give to the girl before him, “I’m strong, Yaoyorozu.”

“Yes, I realize.”

“I’m strong so that means I have to protect everyone. I’m not like Midoriya or Bakugou whose spirits spur the class to action. I’m not like you or Iida who can lead the class or make strategies. All I have is my quirk, and if I can use it to protect everyone, then I should.”

It was as she feared. Clenching her hands upon her knees, Momo thought carefully about what she wanted to say, “You’re right Todoroki-san. You’re strong. You, Midoriya-san, and even Bakugou-san are probably the three pillars that hold up the class, and for that the whole class may have unexpectedly put pressure on you. But Todoroki-san,” Here, Momo grasps Todoroki’s left hand in both of hers, “Remember what I said at the festival? I’m not just anybody. The class isn’t just everybody. We’re your friends. We may not be able to do what you three can do but let us do what we can to support you. You can protect us if you like but let us protect you too!” One of her hands clenches Todoroki’s left like a promise, while the other is clenched upon her chest like an oath. Conviction shines out her eyes, and Todoroki is momentarily blinded.

‘Protect?’

Yaoyorozu probably wouldn’t understand, but for someone like Todoroki, who came from having no one at all, to suddenly having one, then two, then three, then twenty friends, he’d do what he could for them in whatever way he could.

What he didn’t know was that if Momo knew, she’d have completely understood. She was friendless, she had acquaintances sure, but not friends who were like family, not people who needed her and who she needed in turn, not until now.

Unbidden, an image of Uraraka appears before his mind.

‘You and Yaoyorozu-san like each other.’

Ridiculous. He shakes it away. It was likely because Yaoyorozu brought up the festival.

“Well then Todoroki-san, shall we have a compromise?” She still holds his hand and looks to be pleased as punch with her ‘brilliant’ idea.

Cu-“Suit yourself,” Todoroki replies as if he couldn’t care either way, and Momo has to hide a smile.

After a moment’s quiet, Yaoyorozu suddenly speaks up to say, “Todoroki-san, you really are like your quirk.”

“Hmm.” He’s heard it all before. Cold. Unfeeling.

Gripping his hand even tighter, Momo says peacefully, eyes closed, “You’re warm.” And she leaves it at that, but even Todoroki knows she doesn’t just mean temperature.

Huh, he wonders. Only through his left side can he channel his quirk, which means only the left half of his face should be hot to the touch, but somehow even without looking he can tell, his whole face is warm, warm, warm.

Unbidden, an image of fireworks light brightly behind his eyes. He doesn’t shake it away.

He hopes Yaoyorozu closes her eyes for just a little while longer.