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teach me your language of love

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Todoroki came to accept that he loved Midoriya during his second year.

The realization came slowly, but the weight of his certainty, that he loved Midoriya, rewrote his worldview and tilted it on axis. He couldn’t imagine not watching and looking after Midoriya, not now. The Todoroki who never looked twice at his nervous, mumbling classmate had become unrecognizable to him. He had been a wounded creature back then, with his scars still oozing from his father’s poison.

Now, Todoroki watched Midoriya and thought of broken fingers and shattered ice. Of that crazy grin illuminated by his flames.

All of these memories of Midoriya piled up in his heart, creating a map of his love. Some of them were innocuous - the view of Midoriya’s back during class or the feeling of Midoriya’s bruised wrist underneath Todoroki’s chilled right palm. Others made his chest ache - the pounding blood in his ears as he had raced through Hosu, praying he wasn’t too late.

One memory tended to haunt him more than others. The night after Stain, when they had been alone on their hospital cots, Midoriya had told Todoroki that he had never had a friend rush to his aid as Todoroki did. That he never had friends before UA. Friends who broke quirk laws, shouted at police chiefs, and were ready to die for him.

“Midoriya, if you ever need me..” Todoroki had said then, serious, and the unspoken words hung between them with the weight of a vow.  

“I’ll-I’ll text properly next time.” Midoriya had let out a warbled noise, as if he had been holding back tears. Todoroki had wanted to reach out and to comfort him somehow, but he hadn’t known how to express that tremulous feeling in his heart. Instead, he had lain there in the darkness, listening to Midoriya’s breathing and reassuring himself that they were alive.

That Midoriya was alive.

Todoroki couldn’t say when he fell for Midoriya, but he knew that he’s better for loving him. From the day that Todoroki first challenged him, Midoriya had pushed him, demanding his strength, but also his compassion. He had become a better hero, a better man, today because of how Midoriya smashed his way into his heart.

Despite his lack of experience with having friends, he tried to be a good one to Midoriya. He must have not done too badly, because Midoriya confided in him his uncertainties and anxieties. He told Todoroki about his fears of never living up to All Might and Todoroki, who grew up under the overwhelming shadow of Endeavor’s hatred, understood better than anyone else. Sometimes the harsh reality of being both a teenager and a hero weighed too much on Midoriya’s narrow shoulders. Todoroki consoled him with quiet truths and a hand on his shoulders when he cried. They are best friends, Midoriya declared one day, and he smiled at him with so much affection that it had made Todoroki’s heart jerk painfully.

Here was the only tragedy.

Todoroki was certain that he loved Midoriya more than Midoriya loved him.

 

After his acceptance, Todoroki resolved to be content with his feelings.

He had always been good at compartmentalizing- had done so his entire life to survive. So he learned to rationalize. If he had to fall for anyone, he was lucky that it was Midoriya. Midoriya who loved his friends and cherished them carefully. If anything, he was too kind at times, Todoroki thought, when he watched Bakugo walk all over him in the name of past friendship. Midoriya would never damage Todoroki's heart willingly.

He told himself to be grateful that he could be Midoriya’s friend, to be grateful that he was strong enough to protect each other amidst their dangerous lives.

Most days, he barely thought about it. Loving Midoriya was almost damningly easy. They saw each other every day, training during the day and grinding through their calculus homework at night. All around them, their classmates grew furiously in their skills and strengths, Midoriya most of all, and Todoroki had to stay focused if he didn’t want to be left behind. The rush of their everyday life didn’t leave him a lot of time to engage in wistful thinking over his feelings.

Other days, however, Todoroki felt like he was just another kid floundering in the throes of puberty. Uncomfortable with himself and really sweaty. It happened again the weekend before finals, when he was visiting his mother in the hospital. His mother had asked how that ‘Midoriya-kun he’s always talking about’ is doing and Todoroki froze up.

“...He got a confession the other day.” Todoroki finally said and his mother’s eyes widened. They had talked about a lot of things in these visits- ten years was a lot of time to catch up on and they had barely scratched the surface- but Todoroki had never spoken about this.

“What happened?” She asked, gently. His mother was always careful, trying not to create distance between the two of them. After all, they were both still so unfamiliar with each other.

Todoroki had heard about the event in passing when his classmates had crowded a red-faced Midoriya after lunch. “It was a first year he hadn’t known. He turned her down.”

“And do a lot of your classmates get confessions?” His mother was a little confused by Todoroki’s clenched fists and ducked head, but it didn’t stop her from reaching out and brushing back his bangs.

“He said it was his first. And I don’t know. I don’t really talk about this stuff.”

Midoriya hadn’t looked pleased, more embarrassed than anything, but still, Todoroki found him clutching the confession letter to his chest after school. It made sense, Todoroki had thought, to be flattered by attention, especially for someone like Midoriya who cried the first time someone praised him on the news. “She was really nice about it even though I turned her down. Said that maybe we could be friends. But I feel guilty.” Midoriya had confided to Todoroki that evening. It had taken all of Todoroki’s willpower not to ask why he’d turned her down.

“Does it bother you?” His mother asked as her grey eyes searched his face and Todoroki jolted in his seat.

“Why would it bother me?” He replied a little too fast, a little too gruff. “Everyone’s trying to become popular for their careers. It’s only natural that people would notice Midoriya. He’s an amazing hero, after all.”

His mother’s smile turned wry and she gently ruffled his hair. “Maybe you’re right. High school’s a tricky time. It goes by fast though, Shouto, so if something bothers you, you should tell Midoriya-kun about it, rather than hold it inside.”

Todoroki didn’t respond, looking down at his hands. His mother sighed.  

“Come here.” She gestured and Todoroki obediently came to sit by her side. She pulled him into her arms, half-cradling him. It was a little awkward now that he had grown far taller than her, but when she started to stroke his hair, it made him sag into her arms.

Face buried against his mother’s shoulder, something he hadn’t felt in over a decade, he felt like a child again. It made his chest tighten in a way that feels almost overwhelming and he mumbled, “...I don’t want to lose him.”

To what, Todoroki wasn’t sure.

His mother’s hand paused just for a second, as if she realized something, and then she started to card her fingers through his hair again. There was a gentle smile in her words.  

“Oh, Shouto. He’s your best friend, right? You won’t lose him. He brought you back to me, didn’t he?”

 

After that day, an uneasy feeling began to rest in Todoroki’s heart. He stared at All Might during their practicals and wondered if his childhood idol ever had a family, ever had a loved one. Surely he didn’t- Todoroki knew firsthand how families and heroics, especially top heroes, didn’t mix.

Midoriya, who idolized All Might, who was constantly looking at All Might for his inspiration, surely would follow a similar path. Todoroki almost couldn’t imagine Midoriya looking for a quiet domestic life, not with that blazing ambitions that left him almost manic and desperate in his climb to the top. And Todoroki liked that about Midoriya - it was something he liked to think they shared and understood about each other - but at the same time, it made Todoroki’s heart hurt, just a little.

He didn’t want that climb to hollow out Midoriya - to make him less a person and more a symbol. He liked the Midoriya who couldn’t cut vegetables properly when they made curry and who complained about his old man joints on rainy days. The Midoriya who had made it his mission to watch all the old, terrible superhero movies with Todoroki as part of a 'cultural education'. The Midoriya who still loved turning over Todoroki’s hands and quizzing him on his quirk, even though, after two years, Todoroki was sure he was the only one who knew more about his quirk than Todoroki himself.    

He didn’t want to lose that.

Finals came and Todoroki had to buckle down to study. Still, he found his thoughts wandering back to his mother's words at the most inconvenient times. He had forgotten, that his time with Midoriya was coming to a close.

Strange, all his life, he had been waiting for the day he’d graduate high school and escape from under his father’s thumb. But now that he had just one more year left, he wanted to savor it. Maybe long hours of studying ended up getting to him or something else, but, one night, Todoroki wrote down one goal for the day after finals.  

He had too many regrets in his life and he didn’t want this thing with Midoriya to be one.

 

The day before break, Todoroki called Midoriya out to the quad behind their dorm. He could feel his nerves making his chest tight, but he hid behind an impassive face.

"I'd like to talk."

At first, Midoriya looked nervous, almost tense enough for battle, and Todoroki wondered if he had an inkling as to what Todoroki intended to do, until he joked, “You’re not going to ask me to fight you, are you?”

“No.” Todoroki replied, briefly taken aback. Then he remembered their conversation in the corridor during the Sports Festival, of how Todoroki had called Midoriya out, and swallowed back some year-old embarrassment. Trying to reassure his friend, Todoroki added, "It’s nothing like that. I don't have that many childhood stories to tell you."

Midoriya laughed at that and the knot in Todoroki’s chest loosened, just a little. Looking more relaxed, his friend leaned forward with a teasing look in his eyes, “Really? You don’t want to tell me you’re objectively stronger than me and that you’ll defeat me-”

“No, stop.”

“Or that our levels are too different -” Midoriya flattened his hair and twisted his face into a mock-scowl. Todoroki had to resist the urge to slap at his hands.

“You weren’t even there for that one.” He muttered, indignant. He distinctly remembered Midoriya needing to be carted to the nurse’s office after that first match with Bakugo.

“I watched the tapes afterwards and Ojiro-kun told me.” Abandoning his absurd impression of Todoroki, Midoriya grinned. Golden sunlight, dappled from the leaves above, spilled across his freckled cheeks. The sight made Todoroki’s throat constrict. Midoriya was here, smiling and watching him expectantly.  

Todoroki’s nerves ebbed, just for a moment, and his mind filled with a pleasant white static. Before he realized what he was saying, the words tumbled from his lips.

“Midoriya, I’m in love with you.”

The weight of his words filled the clearing. Midoriya inhaled sharply, shoulders and chest rising. His eyes widened, still staring at Todoroki.

“That’s what I wanted to tell you.” Todoroki added afterwards quietly.  

“Oh…” Midoriya sounded shocked, more than anything, and Todoroki’s stomach sank. “Are you… confessing?”

Mechanically, Todoroki nodded. Confessing, that made it sound almost juvenile, a shallow approximation for the depth of his feelings. But, that seemed to startle Midoriya more than anything and a bright, sticky flush had begun to rise from his throat. He shrank into his jacket and his breathing grew shallow.

It was awkward, far more than he had imagined, and he watched Midoriya's eyes dart across his face.

He made Midoriya uncomfortable.

Shit.

From a young age, Todoroki had known how to lose a fight. He knew how to curl his body and roll with the blows to make them less painful. But even those years of pain couldn’t quite prepare him for how the silence hurt more than a gut-punch.

Face smarting, Todoroki couldn’t look at Midoriya anymore. He ducked his head, tugging his hair over his scar, and rehearsed words bubbled up to his lips.

“This doesn’t need to change anything. I don’t want you to be… creeped out or anything. I’ll still be your friend-”

He wasn’t prepared for Midoriya to barrel into him. Strong arms wrapped around Todoroki’s middle and crushed the air out of his lungs. Midoriya’s forehead banged into his chin and his hair smushed into his cheek. Off-kilter, Todoroki stumbled backwards and they crashed painfully into the grass.  

Midoriya’s weight pressing down on him made him go still.

“No, Todoroki-kun. I’m not- I’m not rejecting you. Please don’t make that face.” Midoriya’s voice trembled and oh, Todoroki could feel his own eyes begin to water.

The blood pounded loud and heavy in his ears. He could feel Midoriya’s knees digging into his thighs and his back hurt from the fall, but in this moment, held down by Midoriya’s weight, he didn’t want to move. As Midoriya nosed into his collarbone, Todoroki tentatively rested his hands on Midoriya’s back. His fingers could trace the outline of Midoriya’s shoulder blades and it made him shiver.

Staring up at the dusk sky, being crushed under his friend, Todoroki muttered, “… it’s okay. Sorry about springing this on you.”

“I wasn’t expecting… I never thought- ” Midoriya mumbled and his grip tightened to the point Todoroki heard his own bones creak. He didn’t seem like he intended to let go. The front of his shirt feels damp as Midoriya exhaled heavy and shaking into the cotton.

Todoroki couldn’t help himself. Shifting, he dropped his face into the crook of Midoriya’s neck and breathed, pressing his mouth to the exposed freckles on his skin there. Midoriya smelled of linen and sweat and shower gel and it made Todoroki go lightheaded.

Then Midoriya gasped, pushing himself up to hover over Todoroki, and Todoroki jerked back.

“S-sorry.” Todoroki didn’t recognize his own voice, cracked and strangled. Being under the boy he had liked for so long like this, with Midoriya’s strong, scarred arms braced around his sides, made his heart pound so hard that it hurt. The flush on Midoriya’s face turned deeper.

“I-it’s okay. It wasn’t bad.” Midoriya mumbled. He scrambled backwards on the grass and offers Todoroki a hand, “Sorry for pushing you.”

“It’s okay.” Todoroki echoed as Midoriya’s strong grip pulled him up. Even afterwards, however, Midoriya refused to left go of his hand and he stares at him. Holding hands wasn’t something they had done before, but Midoriya’s scarred fingers slipped naturally around Todoroki’s. If his heart wasn’t pounding at the moment, he might have been able to enjoy the sensation a bit more.

“I… I never expected you to have those types of feelings for me.” Midoriya muttered again, staring at their joined hands with a type of fascination that made Todoroki squirm. “C-can I ask how long?”

Todoroki thought this might be worse than waiting for Midoriya’s response. He cleared his throat and spiked cold into his cheeks to keep his face from turning hot. “A-a long time. Maybe over a year.”

Midoriya made a pained wheezing noise and squeezed his hand. “I had no idea. Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I mean. I didn’t expect you to.” Todoroki didn’t particularly want to get into questions of sexuality and late night realizations about who looked at who, so he let out a deep sigh. Then, he untangled his hand from Midoriya. That was enough, he thought. If he heard another apology from Midoriya, he feared he might start crying.

As he stood back up, however, Midoriya looked at him, confused. “Where are you going?”

“Back to the dorms. We’re going to miss curfew.” Todoroki was careful to keep his voice neutral. He could already see it - they would walk back together and Todoroki would say good night in the elevator and maybe he could make it back to his room without anyone seeing him. Then the break would start and Todoroki would have some time to shove his feelings back down before he had to see Midoriya again.

Something flashed in Midoriya’s eyes and his expression changed to something calculating. Then he sighed and gave Todoroki an exasperated smile. It was a little shaky, but it lightened Todoroki’s heart regardless. “You always do this. Confront me and then leave. I haven’t responded yet.”

Todoroki blinked in surprise, even as he automatically reached out to give Midoriya a hand and pull him to his feet. It was an old habit leftover from training.

Once again, Midoriya refused to let go of Todoroki’s hand and he stepped forward until their chests were almost touching. Todoroki could practically see the thoughts whirling in Midoriya’s head as he lifted his chin to stare at Todoroki in the eyes. It almost looked like a challenge and Todoroki didn’t budge, even if the intensity of being watched made the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

“You don’t have to respond. I-I’m not looking for a relationship. I mean. We have one.” Todoroki was never normally this tongue-tied and he hated it. But he shouldered on, goaded by Midoriya’s furrowed brow and sweaty grip. “I’m grateful to be your friend, Midoriya. Just because… I’m in love with you doesn’t have to change that.”

“I think we should try though.”

Thrown off kilter, Todoroki froze. Then his sense returned to him and he huffed.

“Midoriya, you don’t like me.” He replied, incredulous, even as his traitorous heart started picking up again, against his better sense. Midoriya was looking up at him, offended, and he still hadn’t let go of his hand. “You’ve never-”

“Of course I like you.” Midoriya snapped and seeing his angry determination up close made Todoroki shut his mouth. Then, growing flustered, Midoriya finally averted his gaze and his voice softened, “In fact, you’re one of the most important people in my life. I just haven’t even thought about d-dating, or think I would ever have a chance with my best friend. I mean. You’re you, Todoroki-kun, and I’m me.”

Midoriya’s thumb had begun to stroke Todoroki’s knuckles and it was horribly distracting. Todoroki let out a shaky breath and the icy vapor ghosted over Midoriya’s hair. He could barely get the next few words out. “But you want to try…?”

“Sorry, this probably doesn’t make any sense.” Shyness fully overtook Midoriya now and his shoulders hunched as if he was trying to make himself smaller. “I don’t know what I’m doing. You could do a lot better-”

“That’s bullshit.” Todoroki croaked and there must have been something desperate in his voice, because Midoriya looked up, mouth slack, and flushed.

“You really like me?”

Todoroki nodded.

“You’re serious. ...Of course you are, you’re Todoroki-kun.”

Todoroki groaned. He was starting to think someone must have used their quirk to make embarrassment contagious, because he had never been so mortified. Hiding behind his gruffness, he looked to the side. “Yeah. You’re killing me, Midoriya. I can’t just… keep saying it.”

When he looked back, however, Midoriya beamed up at him despite his watery eyes. Todoroki’s bruised heart jumped into his throat as their hands loosened.

Then Midoriya was throwing his arms around Todoroki again with a big grin. In his embrace, Todoroki melted.

“I want to try with you, Todoroki-kun. I do like you. So much.” Midoriya murmured, voice thick with emotions, and for the third time, Todoroki’s world shifted beneath him.

“...okay.”

Chapter Text

Todoroki walked back with Midoriya to the dorm in a daze.

Midoriya had taken his hand again and hadn’t let go after their embrace in the quad. Even though the sweat between their palms had begun to steam, Todoroki gripped back just as hard. They remained silent all the way back. Midoriya, who usually filled their time together with chatter whenever Todoroki was feeling reticent, looked to be in deep thought.

Whenever he looked over, he could see Midoriya avert his eyes. There was a wobbly, wide smile tugging at his lips. What was he thinking? To his horror, Todoroki couldn’t stop smiling either.

It was driving him crazy.

When they got inside, he quietly slipped his hand from Midoriya’s. Although their friends were occupied with celebrating the end of exams in the lounge, he didn’t want to risk any questions, not when he was still so off-kilter. He awkwardly wiped his sweaty palms on his shorts while Midoriya hesitated in front of the elevator buttons.

Todoroki leaned over his shoulder to remind him, “I’m on the tenth floor.”

“R-right! Of course.” He squeaked in a strangled voice. Did he expect something different?

With a lurch, the elevator started to rise and they stood quietly by each other’s side. Although Midoriya’s hands hung loosely between them, Todoroki couldn’t muster up the courage to take it again.

Midoriya seemed to be studying him, as if there was some puzzle in the curve of his bangs. It felt strange, after two years of building an easy and comfortable friendship, how uncertain and tense they were now.

“You’re staring.” He finally spoke up and turned to properly face him. Midoriya jumped with a start, looking guilty. Even though they were alone in the elevator, he looked around before leaning in.

“I’m crazy nervous.” Midoriya whispered, eyes twinkling. Todoroki believed him - he could feel the tension in his grip the whole way back. “I’ve never d-dated anyone before.”

“I don’t want you to be.” Todoroki replied, trying to ignore the tiny thrill that sparked through his spine at the admission. He shoved his hands in his pockets and hunched a little. “I told you, we don’t have to change.”

Midoriya wrinkled his nose at that. “I disagree with that on principle. We should always be changing.”

Okay, that made Todoroki smile a little. “Are you thinking about this the same way you think about quirk practice or hero training?”

When Midoriya started stammering, flustered, he knew he hit the nail on the head.

“You can’t blame me, I don’t have much to compare it to.” He fretted, wringing his hands and biting his lip. “I’m not, um, handsome or popular with girls like you-”

Todoroki squinted at him, confusion rising. Was someone considered popular and handsome if they had a physical disfigurement on their face, a bad attitude, and only about four close friends? Noticing his expression, Midoriya threw his hands up in exasperation.

“Of course you don’t even notice. And that only makes you more high level-” Then he trailed off, turning a brilliant shade of red, before erupting into a fit of nervous mumbling.

His eyes flitted briefly to Todoroki’s mouth. A burst of heat that had nothing to do with his quirk swept through his face. What was-?  

“Anyway!” The word burst out of Midoriya as if he was flinging a lifeline. He straightened up to stare Todoroki in the eye, determined despite the fact he was clearly sweating through his shirt. “You’re going to be my first so I’m sorry if I do anything wrong. Just… tell me what you want and I’ll improve.”

Todoroki couldn’t help it. Maybe it was the nerves, but he snorted into his palm, trying to hold his laughter in. The answer was so Midoriya . He could practically see the new analysis notebook being created in his honor.

“You… you are such a tryhard.” He couldn’t stop laughing. His heart felt so strange and fond for his weird, batshit, wonderful friend. The next words spilled out of him without thinking. “It’s not like there’s anything to improve. I like you well enough as you are to embarrass myself through all this.

Midoriya’s mouth dropped open, looking dumbstruck. Then, he started cracking up as well, smile wobbling and eyes watering. “Okay, well, when you say it like that …” He croaked, hoarse with emotion. It made another unbidden smile flit across Todoroki’s face. If he didn’t know what he was doing and neither did Midoriya, Todoroki suspected they could be a little stupid about it and no one would have to know.

They’d figure out the rest.

The elevator lurched to a stop and the doors slid open. When Midoriya stepped out, Todoroki followed behind, unthinking.

“Todoroki-kun?”

“Can we…” Todoroki swallowed. He was allowed to ask these things now. Midoriya wanted to try, he had to remind himself. At the very least, he didn’t want to leave, not yet. “Can we hang out? You haven’t shown me that Silver Age documentary yet.”

Midoriya lit up, grinning so hard that Todoroki found himself smiling back. Funny, how his confession had done nothing to stop the flip-flop of his stomach. “Y-yes, of course! You’ll love it, it has super interesting meta-commentary on how heroism used to actually be more diverse prior to its commercialization, oh and I have snacks too-”

As they walked down the hallway, Todoroki quietly took Midoriya’s hand.

 

Izuku: is it weird that i’m nervous about tomorrow?

Shouto: you’re nervous about everything

Izuku: dfjskldsf rude but true

Shouto: <3

Izuku: :o !

Izuku: <3 <3 <3

Shouto: why are you nervous?

Izuku: i think it’s because i used to dream about this

Izuku: going out on Christmas Eve, i mean

Izuku: because i wasn’t very popular in middle school and so

Izuku: it’s just weird! To me! That, yes, I am going on a date? ??

Izuku: and it’s you? ???

Shouto: ...is this how you were when you got into UA?

Izuku: DJFKSFD why are you roasting me so badly today ;u;

Shouto: it’s because you unlocked my fire quirk

Izuku: you’re on thin fucking ice mister

Shouto: hah

Shouto: also because i’m nervous too

Izuku: ;u; don’t be, it’s just little ol’ me

Shouto: i just want you to have fun i guess

Izuku: :OOOO ahhhh but i always have fun with you

Izuku: ...maybe i’m overthinking the dating thing

Izuku: i mean even though you’re one of the best people i know

Izuku: argh now the embarrassment is kicking in

Izuku: just pretend you didn’t see all that

Shouto: Already screenshotted and saved ;)

Izuku: why

“-Shouto!”

“What?” His sister’s voice interrupted his concentration and he looked up to see her hovering over him.

“Shouto, I asked you what you wanted for dinner.” Fuyumi sounded exasperated.

Eager to get back to his conversation with Midoriya, he shrugged. “Anything is fine.”

Fuyumi made a noise of consternation, before throwing the fridge door open and pulling out all sorts of vegetables. Amidst the rustling of plastic, she called, “What’s wrong with you, by the way? You’ve been smiling at your phone since you got home. I never see you this happy.”

Todoroki’s expression soured. “Well, the old man’s not back for another three days.”

Heroes rarely had time off, and especially not during the end of the year. Criminal activity and requests for public media appearances tended to spike around holidays and so Endeavor would be in the field until the day after Christmas. Shouto, who only tolerated his father in professional settings at best, found it a blessing. With Natsuo home on break from college, the three siblings had planned to celebrate Christmas Day with their mother instead.

Christmas Eve, however, was for Midoriya.

The last couple days had been a strange mix of bliss and anxiety for Shouto. He hadn’t seen Midoriya since they left for break, but they had been texting each other furiously at all hours of the day. None of the subjects were particularly different from usual. They still theorized about next semester’s classes, monitored the news about the League, and sent each other cute cat gifs. Yesterday, he got a number of blurry pictures of Midoriya and Eri covered in toilet paper and with their hair gelled up to look like Aizawa-sensei. But the warm bask of Midoriya’s attention had glued him to his phone.

“Well, yeah, but that’s not why you’re excited. What happened?” Fuyumi wasn’t even looking at him, focused on chopping leeks, but her knowing tone made Shouto frown. One of the many downsides of being raised by his sister meant she was even more well versed in reading him than his mom.  

“I’m just going out tomorrow with a friend.”

“A friend on Christmas Eve? Does my baby brother have a girlfriend?” His brother bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen, grinning cheekily. Natsuo had come home for the break for the first time since going to college in an attempt to ‘bond’ with Shouto. So far, all he had done was tell Shouto way too many stories about his girlfriend and humiliate him at video games. Fuyumi had been thrilled that they were ‘getting along.’

In a flash, Natsuo snatched his phone from his limp hand and scanned it eagerly. “Who’s Izuku?”

Shouto paled.

“Give that back!” He yelled and lunged for his brother across the dining table. Between the two of them, Shouto was the one with the provisional hero license, years of combat training, and a top rank in his class. But none of that stopped Natsuo from ducking around the table and using his stupidly long arms from holding it above his head.

“Isn’t that the friend of yours? Midoriya Izuku?” Fuyumi said, turning in surprise, as Shouto and Natsuo circled the dining table, like two cats ready to pounce. When Shouto lunged for him again, Natsuo grinned and danced out of range.

“You mean that kid that the old bastard hates because he’s like All Might’s son or something?” Thanks to not living at home, Natsuo absorbed a strange slice of knowledge about his life. It was still enough to make Shouto’s face burn with old embarrassment. He dove for Natsuo again and managed to grab him by the waist. That didn’t stop his brother from backing up and dragging Shouto with him.

Fuyumi yelped as the two of them barreled past her. “Not in the kitchen!”  

Shouto had never play-wrestled with Natsuo before and the fear of accidentally hurting him kept his reflexes too slow to grab his phone back. He managed to snag his brother’s wrist, but, between keeping a hand on his brother’s jacket and dragging his arm down to a manageable height, Shouto was stuck. Natsuo meanwhile kept trying to pry Shouto off by the forehead. With a huge shit-eating grin, he managed a glance at the screen. “That’s a lot of hearts you sent to that boy.”

Shouto’s entire body went cold with rage and he abruptly let go of Natsuo’s wrist.

Stop it.”

The room quieted with the force of his voice. The playfulness had melted off Natsuo’s face, leaving a troubled expression in its place. Fuyumi’s wide and nervous eyes darted between them. Shouto extended one trembling hand for his phone.

In a softer, desperate voice, he said, “Give it back.”

Without a word, Natsuo handed him back his phone. Shouto’s hand couldn’t stop shaking even as he carefully locked his phone and put it back into his pocket for safekeeping.  

“Shouto…” Fuyumi started as she carefully turned off the stove, “You shouldn’t yell at your brother like that.”

Anger slowly receded and shame crept up in its wake as he realized what he had done. “I’m sorry.” He murmured.

Natsuo held up his hands in a placating manner, sighing. Shouto was suddenly aware of how much older his brother looked when he wasn’t smiling. “I shouldn’t have looked through your messages without asking. Sorry about that, kiddo. We cool?”

Not for the first time, Shouto had the sense that his brother was giving him an easy way out. The shame grew deeper. Throat tight, he nodded.

What he didn’t expect was Natsuo flicking some snow into his face. The cold flakes melted against his skin and made him jerk back. When he looked up, he saw his brother’s light eyes studying him. “Stop looking like you killed a man. C’mon, you’re scaring Fuyumi.”

Shouto rubbed at his wet nose and, grimacing, attempted a smile.

“Okay, now you’re scaring me.” Natsuo said with a snort. Fuyumi cuffed him lightly on the back of his head and Shouto scowled. But when Natsuo’s heavy hand dropped onto Shouto’s head, gentle and hesitant, Shouto didn’t shake him off.

 

After dinner, Shouto stayed behind to help with the dishes. Natsuo had run off to videochat his girlfriend, leaving him and Fuyumi in the kitchen, up to their arms in soapy water.  

"Seriously, he comes home with a bag full of dirty laundry and now this! He's going to get dumped if he doesn't shape up." His sister griped, fondly exasperated.

It was clear she had sorely missed him these last three years. Growing up, she and Natsuo had always been a unit in Shouto's mind, especially after Touya ran away. They were his elders, the ones who he couldn’t play with, the ones who had normal extracurriculars and not nine hours of hellish training on weekends. For all the years they had lived together, there was a line that separated them, no matter how many times they had secretly warned him about Endeavor’s bad moods or snuck him a rare sweet.

"Maybe his girlfriend is messy too." Shouto muttered as he carefully washed the teacups. He didn't have a clear picture of this 'Ayame-chan', because every time Natsuo bragged about her, she seemed to acquire one or two more virtues. It was strange, how carefree his brother seemed in his relationship, when Shouto seemed to tremble at the mere idea of talking about Midoriya.

But of course it was different for Shouto. It was always different for him.

Fuyumi laughed at this and the two of them finished up scrubbing the dishes in silence.

"You know what the hardest parts about raising you was?" His sister said abruptly as Shouto put the last plates in the cabinets. Taking off her glasses, she rubbed at the bags under her eyes. "It was that I didn't know how to talk to you.”

Shouto paused. “What do you mean?”

“I was just twelve when Father sent Mom away. I was a kid , I barely knew understood myself, let alone you two. And you both kept changing and growing. Every time I thought, that’s it, I get it, you’d go change it up on me.” Fuyumi said, wistfully. “And you especially, you’d get cross about so many things, sometimes it made my head spin.”

A heaviness swelled up, an old guilt, to rest on his heart. “I’m sorry. I burdened you a lot.”

“It’s not something to apologize for. We were too young, after all.” She leaned up against the bare walls. The kitchen, like the rest of the house, had never been truly decorated. “But you’re a bit more grown now, so, I can tell you to cut Natsuo some slack. He’s still scared that you resent him. That’s why he’s trying to be around a bit more now. Even that means he does dumb things to get your attention.”

Taken aback, Shouto didn’t know what to say. He stared down at his hands, feeling the curl of his quirk underneath his skin and the terrible power sleeping within him. Even in his darkest moments, he had never wished that on his brother or anyone else.

“I don’t resent him.”

“I know that up here and I think he does too.” His sister tapped her forehead, before pointing to her heart. “But it’s a different thing to know it in here. Words can just be words, you know.”

 

Izuku: real talk tho

Izuku: i figured out why i was nervous when i was talking to all might yesterday

Shouto: ...did you tell your dad about us?

Izuku: nononono oh god i would die from embarrassment

Izuku: also, not my dad!!

Izuku: ...i kind of wish he was tho ;u;

Shouto: tell me about it hah

Izuku: i did talk to him about relationships in general?

Izuku: since, to be honest, i don’t know a single person our age that has a relationship like us

Shouto: aren’t hagakure and ojiro dating?

Izuku: yeah but i meant more of

Izuku: no offense to them

Izuku: but you’re way more important to me than just any old high school boyfriend

Izuku: like you know that, right?

Izuku: three, five, ten years from now, you’re still going to be important no matter what happens

Izuku: so i wanted to know

Izuku: when we become pro heroes, when we would have to compete  

Izuku: if i was going to hold you back or something

Shouto: you know you won’t

Shouto: i wouldn’t let you

Shouto: i won’t hold you back either

Izuku: yeah i know <3

Izuku: all might said the same thing. well…

Izuku: he basically told me to stop thinking so much

Izuku: enjoy things while i was still young and that i should be true to my feelings

Shouto: and that’s making you nervous?

Izuku: well because it’s all so real now

Izuku: i never thought i could, you know, have this career but also, have this kind of relationship?

Izuku: i thought i wasn’t allowed

Izuku: does that make any sense?

Shouto: yeah

Shouto: i understand completely

Chapter Text

Christmas Eve was a brisk day, with grey clouds hanging over Tokyo. Both Natsuo and Fuyumi had curled up under the kotatsu to avoid the chill. Shouto paced the room and watched the clock. He had another hour before he had to leave to meet Midoriya at Roppongi, but he wondered if he should head out now.

“Shouto, can you get me another bottle of tea?” Natsuo mumbled, rolling around under the blankets to look up as his brother.

“Me too!” Fuyumi chimed in, not looking away from the tv.

“Am I a servant?” He muttered, but he obediently padded out into the colder kitchen. His half-hot side was working hard today to keep the slight chill at bay. As he rummaged out the kitchen, the doorbell rang.

The Todoroki household didn’t get visitors.

“Shouto, can you-” His sister’s voice echoed down the hall.

“I’m getting it!” He yelled back in exasperation. Wary, he peeked through the security camera display. When he saw who it was, however, he rushed to throw open the door.

Bundled up in a woolen coat and a thick scarf, Midoriya Izuku stood outside with a nervous grin.

“Surprise! I thought I’d come pick you up since I finished my morning jog early anyway. Sorry it’s so sudden - I hope I’m not bothering anyone!” Midoriya stammered. His cheeks were pink from the cold and the sight of his eager face spurred on Todoroki’s heart.

In a daze, Todoroki quickly ushered him inside. He murmured, “You’re lucky the old man isn’t home.”

“Oh, I checked Hero Watch! Endeavor’s tied up in Chiba today on the promotional circuit.” Midoriya said slyly and tapped the side of his nose. Todoroki’s lips quirked up into a small smile.

“Clever.”  

“And I brought a gift! For your siblings and your mom!” Rummaging through his bag, he produced a bag of mandarins that he shoved into Todoroki’s arms, “It’s nothing that special but I figured, since it’s almost New Years. You know, for good health and fortune for the upcoming year-”

“Fuyumi will love them.” He said, putting the mandarins aside. Stepping forward, he pulled Midoriya into a hug.

Startled, Midoriya hesitated for a moment before his hands came up to grasp Todoroki’s back. “Hello, you.” He murmured, breathless. His words came out as a rush of warm air across his collarbone. When he pressed his chilled cheek against Todoroki’s neck, it made him shiver.

Holding Midoriya and being held by him - if he never had to move again, he wouldn’t. He could feel Midoriya’s breathing, the rise and fall of his chest, up against his own, and the broad width of his back. If he pressed his hand against Midoriya’s chest, would he feel his heartbeat? Would it be as fast as Todoroki’s?  

When they parted, Midoriya’s eyelids fluttered as he dropped his gaze, just for a moment, to Todoroki’s mouth.

Something lightning quick ran through his body. Their faces were close, closer than he was used to and Todoroki could hear blood starting to pound in his ears. Midoriya looked up at him, wide-eyed and fond. It was too much information, to see the light scar under his hairline, the wry quirk of his lips, and those sharp, searching eyes. Maybe he was leaning in or Midoriya was reaching up-

“Shouto, who was it?” His sister’s voice floated down the hallway, startling both of them.

With a jolt, Midoriya stiffened and stepped back.

Chill air expanded in the space between them and rushed over Todoroki's skin. Reflexively, his left side began to heat up, as if to compensate. He wasn’t sure, but, in the moment when Midoriya had pulled away, something like discomfort had flickered across his face.

“Your sister?” Midoriya muttered, craning his neck to look down the hallway and avoiding Todoroki’s eyes.

It took a moment for Todoroki to regain his bearings. He nodded slowly.

“Midoriya’s here.” He called out. As he predicted, there was a squawk of his siblings scrambling out of the living room.

“Hello, sorry to intrude!” Midoriya echoed, smiling nervously as Fuyumi and Natsuo crashed into the hallway. Both his siblings looked disheveled from the hours of toasting under the kotatsu. “It’s nice to meet you!”

“Midoriya-kun! We’ve heard all about you.” Fuyumi recovered the fastest, straightening up to welcome their guest. Natsuo’s own grin grew wider the moment he sized him up.   

“A-all good things, I h-hope!” Midoriya stammered, nerves back in full force. He seemed caught in between trying to bow and extend a hand out for a handshake. When Todoroki put a hand on his shoulder, Midoriya startled so hard that he tripped on the entryway step.

Todoroki’s stomach clenched and he stiffly dropped his hand. The urge to flee rose up hot in his throat. Squeezing past his siblings, he muttered, “I’m going to get my bag. Don’t heckle him.”

Both of them ignored him and Todoroki could hear his sister saying, “Shouto speaks very highly of you.”

Midoriya’s nervous laugh echoed through the house behind him.

 

To his surprise, Natsuo followed him out into the hallway. Shouto could hear Fuyumi and Midoriya doing an overly polite pantomime in the living room.

“He looks like a good kid.”

Shouto really did not want to have this conversation right now. His head still churned from the encounter in the entranceway and he kept thinking of Midoriya’s grimace as he pulled away. Was he scared of being discovered or did Shouto himself repulse him?

Undeterred by Shouto’s silence, Natsuo prodded, “You’re close to him.”

“...He’s my best friend.” Was his brother just going to stand there and speak obvious facts? Shouto scowled as he dug through his room for his bag. “Since first year.”

“Does he know-?” Natsuo gestured around the house in a vague hand motion. That made Shouto pause. When he looked up at his brother, he looked serious again. Something flickered over his face, something that almost looked like worry.

It confused Shouto. Worry for what? Surely not for the family reputation.

“He knows a bit.” One day, Todoroki would sit down and tell him of those endless years of pain.  He would tell him of how his father's fist had burned and crushed him until his heart had hardened into a white hot coal.

Maybe if he could tell Midoriya, he could one day tell the world.

“Is that why you’re so comfortable with him?”

Shouto shook his head as he slipped his bag on his shoulder. “That’s just the kind of person he is.”

“Huh.” Natsuo replied, sounding amazed. “You really do admire him.”

Shouto hesitated. It felt like a mischaracterization of the depth of his feelings. “...I guess so.”

The soft sounds of Midoriya and his sister conversing in the living room filtered down the hall. Even with their indistinct words, he could hear the lightheartedness in their tones. It heartened him, to think of them getting along.

A startling realization came over him. He wanted his siblings to approve of Midoriya.

Shouto had never cared like this before. After all, he and his siblings had belonged in two different worlds, divided by the chasm their father had carved between them. But while Shouto had turned his back on his siblings, they hadn’t given up on him. It would have been easier, he had no doubt, for Natsuo to swan off to his new girlfriend and his new college. Fuyumi could have left long ago with a fulfilling career in helping children.

But his sister had stayed. One of his brothers had come back.  

He thought back to Midoriya’s text message, about being allowed. There had been so much in his life that had been forbidden to him, things that his father had disparaged as distractions or things that he had subconsciously thrown away. But Endeavor wasn’t here right now- only Shouto’s nightmares and memories.  

Shouto turned back around to face Natsuo. Took a deep breath. This too was part of moving forward. He could recognize that now. After all, if his quirk was not his father’s, neither were they, right?

“I’m going out on a date with Midoriya.”

Natsuo’s mouth dropped open. Shouto waited, watching. His left palm felt sweaty and he wished, just for a moment, that Midoriya was by his side. A flurry of emotions crossed his brother’s face before he settled on a small teasing smile.

“Is he your first?”

Taken aback, Shouto nodded. Natsuo let out another noise of surprise before turning contemplative.

“I guess I didn’t expect that. Makes sense though.”

For a second, the words smarted, more than Shouto expected. “What, me being-” His throat closed up and he scowled. He couldn’t say those words out loud, not like that, hurtful and angry. Shouto roughly grabbed a random jacket from his closet and shrugged it on.

This ‘coming out’ thing might have mattered more to him than he first realized.

“That’s not what I meant.” Natsuo looked alarmed and the horror in his voice made Shouto pause. Then, his brother went to his closet and pulled out another jacket, one made of black leather with faux fur. “Try this one. I bought it ages ago, but I never wore it. It matches your pants.”

“Stop stashing your stuff in my closet just because you’re running out of room.” Shouto muttered. Still, he shrugged off his old coat and let Natsuo help him tug on the new one. It smelled new, fresh off the coat rack. Natsuo helped him smooth down the wrinkles and herded him towards a mirror.

He was right. That did look better.

“Shouto. Listen to me.” Natsuo brought his hands to rest on his brother’s shoulders and murmured, “I’m glad you found someone you’re comfortable with and that you can talk to. It’s not always easy for an outsider to understand. But also, you can always come to Fuyumi or me, okay? About family stuff, boys, whatever. I know we weren’t there for you in the past, so…”

In the mirror, Shouto could see his own eyes widen. The anger leaked out of him. For the first time, he felt he could properly see who his brother was. Someone who also bore a misplaced guilt for the crimes of their father, but tried to lift his chin and smile anyway.

Slowly, the tension in his shoulders melted away under the careful weight of his brother’s hands.

“...thanks, Natsuo. The jacket’s good.”

His brother grinned and dropped a heavy hand on the top of his head. “Gotta look handsome for your date. Next time, let’s get your hair. You look like a brat with those bangs.”

 

Later, after they escaped from the house, Midoriya snuck a look at Todoroki and blurted out, “You look nice, Todoroki-kun. I’ve never seen you in that jacket before.”

The curl of vain satisfaction settled warm in his chest and he subconsciously twiddled with his bangs. “Thanks. So do you. The jacket’s actually my brother’s though.”

“His name’s Natsuo, right? Fuyumi mentioned he’s in college. What is he studying?”

Todoroki frowned. “Something about medicine. I’m not really sure. We’re not exactly close.”

Midoriya’s eyes sharpened and his lips quirked up, amused. “Really? It seemed like you were the darling baby brother though.”

Todoroki pulled a face.

“I used to want siblings since I was an only child. Someone to play with and look up to.” Midoriya said, wistfully, “The best I got was Kacchan.”

“When you put it that way, I didn’t get a bad end of the deal.”

That made Midoriya laugh out loud.

When they reached the station, Todoroki was in the middle of fishing through his bag for his bus pass when he found the bottle of tea that he had fetched for Natsuo. He glanced over at Midoriya and then, after fiddling with his left hand a bit, handed the bottle to him.

“What’s this?” Midoriya accepted it, confused.

“You said you ran from your home. You must be thirsty.”  

“That’s… really considerate of you. Thank you.” Midoriya murmured, looking stunned and clutching the warm plastic between his hands. He let out a sigh of contentment. “Oh, it’s nice and toasty like your left side.”

Todoroki’s heart twisted. The urge to embrace Midoriya and let his left side flood the space between them with heat rose up from his stomach. Overwhelmed by the sudden feeling, he grew confused. Wasn’t the want supposed to subside once Midoriya accepted his feelings? Instead there it burned, stronger and more desperate than ever, threatening to consume what sense he had left.

Get a grip on yourself.

Blinking rapidly to clear his thoughts, he muttered, “You know, it’s easier to get dehydrated in the cold. Because your body's circulating more blood to the extremities to stay warm and your sweat evaporates faster.”

It was unclear to Todoroki why health facts made Midoriya crack up. Yet the sound of his laughter, without a hint of nervousness, made relief slosh inside him like an overfilled tea bottle. They stepped on the bus together, as if it was just another day afterschool.  

But, when Todoroki reached for Midoriya’s hand, it was Midoriya who interlaced their fingers, easy and natural.

Chapter Text

For all of Todoroki’s longings tangled in his chest, it was hard to stay uneasy in Midoriya’s warm and familiar presence. As they sat shoulder to shoulder on the bus, Midoriya seemed to relax as well. They passed the time making up quirks for their fellow bus riders. Todoroki didn’t have the same kinds of elaborate deductions that Midoriya had. Instead he had been coming up with increasingly absurd ideas.

“She looks like she could have a flight quirk, with those feather earrings.”

“Why would she ride the bus then, you goof?” Midoriya had laughed, elbowing him lightly in the ribs.

It felt good to make Midoriya laugh.

The moment they stepped out into Roppongi, they were greeted with a blast of distorted Christmas carols from a couple market stalls. The station was filled to the brim with people laden down with shopping bags, and Midoriya lunged for Todoroki's hand, just before he got swept away. The two of them exchanged startled looks as the loud hustle and bustle of the city surrounded them.

"Why are there so many people in the middle of the day?" Midoriya exclaimed as he tugged them into an alleyway.

Catching his breath, Todoroki looked up and then muttered, "I think this is all All Might's fault."

Plastered on the nearby shopping mall front, standing seven stories, and beaming down at them was All Might. He looked as muscular as he did from his heyday, but for some reason, he had on a large white beard and the ugliest red pajamas Todoroki had ever seen.

The weirdest part of the advertisement, however, was definitely the enormous bucket of fried chicken cradled in his flexing biceps.

Midoriya went instantly starry-eyed.

"They're re-doing the Kentucky for Christmas promotion?" He shrieked, disturbing some nearby crows, "How did I not know about this?"

Amusement started to rise in Todoroki's chest,  even as he squinted at Midoriya, "The what-?"

The glee on Midoriya’s face took Todoroki aback as he started fumbling for his phone. “Oh my god, have you not seen the ad from three decades ago? It’s a classic! All Might was dressed up like Santa and they had these robotic reindeer, hang on-”

Quietly, Todoroki grabbed Midoriya’s shoulders and started leading him down the street. Midoriya didn’t seem to notice, still talking thirty miles a minute while searching frantically on his phone.

“They came up with these fried chicken baskets that had the drumsticks sticking out the top like All Might’s hair. It was a dinner set with champagne and cake and they marketed it as one of All Might’s traditions that he brought back from America-”  All Might’s laugh blared loud and jolly from Midoriya’s phone and he yelped as he turned down the volume. He had found the video apparently. Todoroki peered over his shoulder, as they crossed the street. “-and that’s how fried chicken became popular in Japan! But the All Might licensed tie-in was replaced about five years ago-”

“Wanna check it out?” Todoroki interrupted.

With a start, Midoriya realized that Todoroki had steered him to the storefront. A slightly smaller than life-size All Might cardboard cutout with a bright white Colonel outfit beamed next to them. It declared a special 10th anniversary Kentucky for Christmas exhibit on the third floor, rife with vintage All Might memorabilia. To Todoroki’s amusement and Midoriya’s distress, they had folded down All Might’s hair to make him fit in the display case.

“Really? I mean, we can be quick-” He exclaimed, looking sheepish, but Todoroki shook his head and herded him through the sliding doors. Caught up in Midoriya’s excitement, he felt nothing but fondness. This was fun. He realized.

“C’mon. Let’s go get your photo with All Might Santa.”  

 

Todoroki had been to many promotional exhibits in his day and this one was just as bombastic as he expected. Nothing sold things quite like hero endorsement nowadays, and no hero more than All Might. The front of the Kentucky for Christmas had a number of red pj-clad hawkers taking orders for the fabled Kentucky Smash Bucket, vintage edition, 5800 yen with champagne.

“I don’t even want the chicken, just something with the logo.” Midoriya mumbled, looking longingly at the bearded All Might grinning from the buckets.

“Here.” Todoroki handed him a napkin printed with All Might’s face. Sputtering, Midoriya pushed him into the exhibit.

The exhibit itself looked like a mini-museum, with several rooms dedicated to the different eras of All Might. Memorabilia, from signs with peeling paint to faded plastic toys, were all in glass cases. A small TV played the fabled Santa commercial on loop and All Might’s tinny laughter rang through exhibit. Everything seemed to have a story behind it and, for the first few rooms, Midoriya was the excited storyteller. He pointed out facts every time Todoroki glanced at something. In those twenty minutes, Todoroki had learned more than he had ever needed to know about All Might and American fried chicken.

Yet as they went from the Bronze Age to Modern Age, Midoriya started to grow quiet. His stories petered off as he stared at the faded All Might posters and the accompanied photographs of the man himself. Even Todoroki’s occasional questions only managed to keep his attention for a couple moments.  

As they turned the corner to the final room, Todoroki realized why.

In the last room of the exhibit, printed on the wall, was a dedication for the victims of Kamino. A large charity box had been hung up next to it. Several photos from last year’s news had been framed on the wall, alongside a smiling, gaunt-faced All Might. After seeing the advertisements and figurines of his former muscle form, he looked particularly aged.  

“Of course…” Midoriya whispered. His eyes had started to mist over, but he didn’t look away. His hand pulled away from Todoroki’s as he went to stand in front of the wall, eyes tracing over all the names. Then he let out a small pained exhale when his eyes landed on a specific newspaper clipping. It was a still that had been across the nation’s papers for weeks after the incident. The small caption underneath was redundant - everyone knew what it was called. All Might’s index finger seemed to point out to them with his bloodied face shadowed and turned away.

You’re Next.

Todoroki’s own throat tightened, as memories of that day jolted him back. His voice sounded hoarse as he murmured, “Midoriya…”   

Midoriya turned around and, for just a second, Todoroki caught a glimpse of his wide, lost eyes, right before he pulled Todoroki tight into his arms. Face buried into Todoroki’s chest, his shoulders shook and he choked out a single heavy breath.

“Sorry…”

To whom he was apologizing to, Todoroki didn’t know.

He moved without thinking - his hand came up to cradle the back of Midoriya’s head and his mouth pressed to the crown of his head. Midoriya’s pain simmered under his skin, too heavy for their narrow shoulders, and Todoroki could only let him cling on. 

“Don’t apologize.” He breathed against the heated skin of Midoriya’s forehead, insistent. Midoriya let out another ragged breath.

"Todoroki-kun..."

Faint footsteps echoed as another couple turned the corner into the exhibit room. Arm-in-arm, the man laughed, carefree, at something the woman said, lost in their own world. In his arms, Midoriya stiffened, before he pushed himself out of Todoroki’s arms, stumbling backwards. Todoroki let him go, hands still outstretched in concern.

Shying away from the intruders, Midoriya rubbed at his eyes and laughed hollowly, “I gotta stop crying at everything-”

“You know it’s okay, right?” Todoroki muttered, turning his shoulders to give them some privacy. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the couple idly glancing at the wall, before moving on.

“I know, I know.” Midoriya said airily, not convincing Todoroki at all. He did one last frantic scrub of his face before giving Todoroki a wide, wobbly smile. “It’s good, right? That they’re using the promotion to raise money for the victims. H-honoring his legacy.”

Todoroki nodded. He looked up at the wall filled with the photos of the last year. It was a solemn reminder that everything they had just seen, the vibrant pop art collages and the cheery holiday jingles played on cassettes, had passed. The bright and strong All Might of that era was a museum piece.

He wanted to pull Midoriya back into his arms, but instead, he turned away from the wall, trying to ignore the growing ache in his heart. “Let’s get something to eat.”

They quietly deposited a thousand yen each to the charity drive before leaving. Midoriya slowly collected himself in the silence, only taking Todoroki’s hand again once they were back on the street. If he noticed Todoroki holding on a little tighter, he didn’t say anything.

 

The Aoyama family bakery’s line ran out the door, with people huddled together to brave the slight chill. It seemed like everyone was here for sweets on Christmas Eve and, more specifically, every couple. Todoroki had never seen so many couples in the same place before. Everywhere he looked, he saw people with their arms wrapped around each other with soppy expressions on their faces. It was a little much and he shifted uncomfortably.

At least he wasn’t alone in this. Midoriya had turned pink and ducked behind Todoroki’s shoulder when the couple in front of them started kissing. 

“Some people are shameless.” Todoroki muttered, feeling his cheeks heat up and quashing the slightest feeling of jealousy. Midoriya nodded.

“I didn’t realize it involved so much head-angling-”

“Are you studying?” Todoroki snorted in disbelief, trying to hide his own mortification, and Midoriya squawked in embarrassment. They spent the rest of time slapping their hands over each other’s eyes until they got inside. Several couples gave them irritated looks as they failed to muffle their laughter. At Midoriya’s renewed cheer, however, Todoroki found it hard to care.

The relief also helped him swallow down any distracted thoughts he might have had about Midoriya’s smiling mouth.

Their horseplay ceased, however, as soon as Todoroki stepped foot into the bakery and he inhaled the most wonderful smell in the world.

“Have you ever been in a French bakery before?” Midoriya asked, looking delighted, as Todoroki gawked left and right. Everywhere he looked, there were more and more pastries he had never seen before. 

Racks upon racks of strawberry shortcakes graced the displays, with pale fluffy cream and deep red strawberries. The cakes took up an entire wall, with several already cut into to show the layers of soft sponge cake and embedded strawberries. Nor was that all. Piled on silver trays and lace doilies were dark chocolate mousse cakes with shaved chocolate flakes on whipped cream and glistening fruit tarts with small hills of kiwis, blueberries, and strawberries. Long eclairs dusted with powdered sugar and chocolate drizzle were arranged in a spiraling tower.  

Mouth watering, Todoroki managed to tear his eyes away from the display long enough to respond. “I wasn’t allowed sweets as a kid.”

Midoriya squeezed his hand, looking increasingly excited. “Okay, well, I have to get you strawberry shortcake then. You’ll love it.”

“I can help pay-”

“Nope, I wanna buy it for you, Shouto-cake-kun. Go take a look around. I’ll wait here. Tell me if there’s anything else you want.” Midoriya gave him a little shove, still beaming.

He’s excited for me, Todoroki realized, flushing at the nickname.

Feeling a little childish, Todoroki wandered to the front of the bakery, near the small mountain of honey drizzled raisin croissants. He could see Aoyama’s parents running to and fro behind the counter, bearing large trays filled with little pear-almond tarts, fresh from the oven. The rich scent of sugar and fresh bread filled the air and he furtively wiped a little bit of drool from his lips.

He was about to turn around and suggest they grab a couple of those to bring back to their families when a familiar voice made him freeze in his tracks.  

“Midoriya-kun, did you come to visit moi?

Aoyama Yuga, decked out in a bedazzled chef’s hat and brandishing a shining tray of samples, had ambushed Midoriya in line. The other patrons of the cafe looked unnerved as the cookies on his tray nearly went flying into the crowd with every gesture. Midoriya caught a flying palmier in mid-air thanks to hero reflexes and laughed.

“Well, you did say your parents’ bakery was the best in the Japan- mmph!”

In front of Todoroki’s eyes, he watched Aoyama lean in and pop a cookie right between Midoriya’s lips.

What.

Non, non, non, best in the world, Midoriya-kun!” Aoyama sing-songed as Midoriya choked down the madeline. “And this surely will not do, two dazzling bachelors stuck by themselves on Christmas Eve. We should go out and paint the town red-”

“Oh, actually, I'm with-” Midoriya cut off with a yelp when Todoroki appeared behind him and slid his hand down to the small of his back.

“The line’s moving.” Todoroki muttered, trying to keep his voice even. He could feel the muscles of Midoriya’s back underneath his shirt and how they tensed at his touch. He gave a polite, if slightly frosty nod to Aoyama.

Aoyama didn’t miss the gesture and his eyes glittered with barely contained excitement, “Oh, Midoriya Izuku, mon lapin , is it true? Why didn’t you tell me ? You were so worried about everything-”

All amusement drained from Midoriya’s face and he shot Aoyama a warning glare.

“You were worried about something?” Todoroki asked Midoriya, suddenly confused again and unsure again.

Aoyama’s attention shifted to Todoroki and he threw him a wink that could only be described as ‘saucy’.

Mon dieu, he didn't tell you? Well, no matter, you had nothing to worry about after all, with someone like Todoroki-chan-"

“Aoyama-kun!” Midoriya hissed instead, ignoring Todoroki and looking embarrassed now. The pit in Todoroki's stomach grew. “We’re just here for cake. Todoroki-kun’s never had any.”

It took him a second to realize Midoriya had thrown him under the bus. At the declaration, Aoyama had let out a cry of horror and promptly shoved a cookie into his mouth.

 

They left the bakery with an entire strawberry shortcake and a bag of cookies that Aoyama had foisted on them at the register. He had shouted his cheery goodbyes from the doorway until his parents dragged him back to work. After the vibrant colors in the bakery, the streets seemed almost dull in comparison. The afternoon light shone weak through the clouds and the crowds had started to thin, leaving the streets mostly empty.  

“There’s a place around the corner we can grab dinner before the lights. I couldn’t get a reservation at one of the popular cafes, but-” Midoriya was rambling, tapping rapidly at his phone. 

“Midoriya.”

Startled, Midoriya jumped and nearly slipped on a patch of ice. He flailed for a moment until Todoroki seized his elbow to keep him upright. Straightening himself up and looking flustered, Midoriya tugged his arm from Todoroki's grasp. Slowly, Todoroki dropped his hand to his side, trying to ignore the feeling of ice now creeping across his chest. He didn't think it was from his quirk.

"Midoriya," he repeated himself, trying to steady the tone of his voice, "What's wrong?"

"I just wasn't watching where I was going-"

Todoroki shook his head. "Not that. You look... preoccupied." Upset , he wanted to say.

“I was just thinking.” Midoriya deflected.

“About what Aoyama said?” Todoroki prompted and Midoriya’s sharp inhale confirmed his suspicions. “He said you were worried about something.”

“That’s- he misunderstood something we talked about before.” Midoriya shot him another nervous glance before sighing, “When I rejected Hayame-san.”

The name felt like a slap across the face. “The girl that confessed to you?” Todoroki said stiffly.

“Listen, we don’t have to talk about this. It's in the past. Aoyama just likes to gossip so-” Midoriya said softly, clearly trying to soothe. “Didn’t you want to see the lights?”

Something in Todoroki’s chest snapped painfully and he stopped. When Midoriya realized they were no longer walking side by side, he turned around, surprised.

“Todoroki-kun, what’s wrong?”

“Would you tell me what was bothering you if we weren’t dating?” Todoroki said stiffly. Somehow, they both knew they weren't talking about Hayame or Aoyama anymore.

Midoriya gaped at him. Yet already Todoroki could see his eyes darting away. It was the same discomfort he had seen this morning, when Midoriya had pulled away from their almost-kiss. At once, the insecurity in his heart roared to life, like a spark on dry wood. The words rushed out of his mouth, rough and frustrated.

“I’m not trying to pry.” He continued, gritting his teeth. His grip crinkled the handle of the cake box. His voice had started to rise even though they were on the public sidewalk, attracting curious stares from strangers. Passion was something Todoroki could never properly suppress in front of Midoriya. “But those burdens you carry? Those worries? I want you to be able to talk to me. It’s fine if you don’t- if you don’t feel the same way as me, but at least this much isn’t too much to ask, right? Weren’t we always like that before?”

Realization dawned in Midoriya's face, alongside a flare of hurt. "I- I thought that way about us too." He murmured.

Todoroki nodded his head, resolute, even as his heart quietly fractured. Loving Midoriya had given him so much, but perhaps most of all, it had taught him how to let go. He tilted his head upwards to the sky, to force his tears back, and noticed the first flakes of snow floating down from the sky. When he looked back down at Midoriya, he put every bit of warmth he had left in his voice.

“I would rather us be just friends, then if it means I can be a source of strength for you, Midoriya.”

Midoriya inhaled sharply, looking shaken. Tears had begun to gather in the corner of his eyes again, making guilt lance through Todoroki. He reached into his pocket for his handkerchief, only for Midoriya to wipe his face on his sleeve roughly with a loud sniffle.

When he emerged behind his arm, his face had cleared and determination smoothed over his expression.

The familiarity of it made Todoroki’s heart grow quiet.

“I get it.” Midoriya breathed. He wasn’t smiling, but there was sincerity in his expression.  

“...good.” Todoroki exhaled, shaky. That’s it, he thought. It’s over.

Then, to his surprise, Midoriya extended one scarred hand. The light in his eyes seemed brighter than it had been all afternoon. He seemed expectant.

“Forget the lights. Can I take you somewhere, before you go home?”

Chapter Text

Todoroki had never been to the beach at night. Midoriya, holding tightly onto his hand, led him carefully off the street and down the stone wall to the sands. Under the moonlight, he just barely managed to make out a splintered and worn sign that read ‘Dagobah Municipal Beach’. The ocean looked endless at night, melting into the sky. Midoriya shivered as the chilled breeze gusted past them, scattering the flurry of snow.

At night, the waves were stronger, dark and churning against the shore and they filled the entire beach with a dull roar that drowned out any city noise. Todoroki was still carrying the cake box, so they slowly stumbled to the shoreline, their shoes sinking into the rough sand.

“Right here should be good.” Midoriya decided when they reached the last crest of sand before the gentle slope down to the water. He plopped down with a sigh and patted the sand next to him. Following suit, Todoroki gently set down the cake box and settled beside him.

They didn’t speak at first. Midoriya wasn’t even looking at him, staring out to the water almost transfixed, with moonlight providing just the barest of details. Even now, as fraught as the moment felt, Todoroki still found him handsome.

“This is really hard for me.” Midoriya finally broke the silence with a low laugh. “I don’t even know where to start.”

“Take your time.” Todoroki said, quietly.

“I love that about you.” Midoriya declared, still staring at the ocean, “That you have always treated me as someone worth getting to know. Someone who mattered. Even back when you first challenged me.”

Taken aback, Todoroki let out a soft “oh.”

“And I think it’s because, for a really, really long time, no one thought I mattered.” Midoriya grew quiet again and pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around his legs. He gave a watery laugh that Todoroki didn’t understand. Heart pounding, he watched Midoriya scrunch up his face, as if tasting something bitter. “How much have I told you about my childhood?”

Feeling as if he stood on a precipice of a great chasm, Todoroki shook his head, “Not that much. You and Bakugo went to the same middle school. You two were on bad terms then.” He hesitated, “Rather, he bullied you, didn’t he?”

“...Yeah. Okay, then let’s start at the beginning.” Midoriya mumbled. He looked restless, as if he had been holding something in for so long that his entire body vibrated with it. His eyes flitted over to Todoroki. “When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with quirklessness.”

Todoroki’s eyes widened as the noise of the oncoming waves drowned out his exhale.

 

On that cold beachfront, Midoriya told Todoroki a story of a young boy’s despair and years of terror and longing and envy from a former friend. The story came halting and piecemeal as Midoriya struggled to recount the schoolbags tossed into rivers and the bruises from young, pudgy hands.

“I spent years trying to pull objects or breathe flame and I just couldn’t. There was nothing in me.” Midoriya breathed and he reached out his hands, palms open, fingers wide, grasping at the horizon. “My mother apologized to me for years.”

He faltered, rubbing his chilled fingers against each other and head tilting up to the night sky. When his hands dropped to the sand, Todoroki reached out with his left and rested it, warm, next to Midoriya’s.

“Everyone thought I was a lost cause.” Midoriya murmured, as he intertwined their chilled fingers. His voice was thick with unshed tears, but he was quick to move on. “Everything changed when I met All Might. He trained me on this beach so my body would be strong enough to make it to UA.”

Todoroki watched as Midoriya’s voice lightened at the mention of his idol. Even the story of the ridiculous litter-cleaning challenge brought a nostalgic warmth to his face.

“All Might gave me everything. UA gave me everything. I went from useless to closer to my dream than ever.”

“So your quirk now-” Todoroki finally said because it needed to be said. Midoriya’s fingers tightened around his, just for a moment, almost painful.

“I was given it too.” By All Might. He didn’t need to say the words. Todoroki already knew them.

“Did you want it?”

Midoriya fell silent, startled. He grew defensive for a moment. “I wanted to be a hero more than anything.”

“I just wanted to make sure.” Todoroki quietly said and he leaned over to knock their shoulders together, “That this was something you chose.”

Realization dawned on Midoriya’s face and a little of the irritation on his face ebbed away. “Thank you for considering my feelings.” He leaned back against Todoroki’s shoulders, just for a second, before pulling completely away.

Their hands parted. The chasm widened.

“When Hayame-san confessed to me, she said she admired my quirk. That All Might was her favorite hero and it was cool to her I was trying to follow in his footsteps. I heard those words and panicked, Todoroki-kun.” Midoriya said bitterly. “I thought, oh god, she has a crush on this fraud, this second rate wannabe.”

The words Todoroki wanted to say, the biting reassurances, got caught in his throat. Midoriya gripped the edges of his jacket, shivering.

“Aoyama-kun helped me, that time. He encouraged me, told me that I was overthinking it because I wasn’t ready for a relationship.”

The idea of Aoyama giving mature romance advice edged on the line of believability and Todoroki would have snorted, had the mood not felt fraught with tension.

“Really, I probably just didn’t like her all that much. But then you-” Midoriya let out a choked sound and that went straight to Todoroki’s cracked heart. “I told you before, right? You’re so important to me.”

The sincerity of Midoriya’s feelings could overwhelm a lesser man. Todoroki remained still and quiet, grasping for a measure of composure.

“You laughed about it then, but it really felt just like getting a quirk. How am I good enough for you?” Midoriya wheezed and then laughed, running his hand through his hair, “And now that I’m saying out loud, it sounds pathetic. I didn’t- I didn’t want you to see that side of me. I wanted to be better for you. Someone who could be like All Might’s son.”

The last statement hung in the air, quiet and damning, as Midoriya sighed. His scarred hands slumped into the sand as if he had been holding on for so long that his fingers had no energy left.

Todoroki exhaled.

The weight of Midoriya’s secrets settled heavy in his bones. He had always known Midoriya’s insecurities ran deep, but at last he understood why . How could they not, with All Might’s weight bearing down like that?

There were no words Todoroki had for Midoriya, because he knew those fears well and he had no answers for how their future would turn out. The fear of not being enough rang deep because that was what pushed Todoroki, Midoriya, their whole generation, further and faster and higher.

They sat in silence for a while, arms length apart, in the darkness.  

“I’m sorry.” Midoriya breathed, out of the blue.

That startled Todoroki out of his musings. “For what?”

“For lying to you for so long?” Midoriya looked equally confused for a second. “For making you think I’m something I’m not? For upsetting you?”

Oh. Understanding dawned on Todoroki.

“Get up.” He said abruptly as he rose to his feet. Surprised, Midoriya stared up at his outstretched hand.

“What-”

“I want to spar with you.”

 

Even after Todoroki had tugged him to his feet, Todoroki’s declaration had frozen Midoriya in place. His eyes bulged slightly. “What- what are you playing at?”

“No quirks, hand-to-hand. First to yield loses.” Todoroki said as he shrugged off his brother’s jacket. The idea had begun to warm in his chest and he shot heat through his body to loosen up his muscles. “You’ve always been saying I need to work on my hand-to-hand combat.”

Eyes widening, Midoriya slowly shrugged off his scarf and jacket, broad shoulders shivering as the cool night air hit his skin. He stiffly started some half-hearted stretches before he shook his head and straightened up. “This isn’t really what I was thinking when I brought you here. Why do we have to fight?”

“Warm up properly, I don’t want you pulling anything.” Todoroki shot back, brow furrowed, as he bent down to touch his toes. He could see Midoriya’s face from between his legs, flushed from the cold. “I’m giving you a minute. Then I’m not holding back.”

The seriousness of his voice seemed to snap Midoriya to attention, and he started stretching for real. Still Todoroki could hear him muttering to himself in disbelief and confusion. A minute passed quickly and then Todoroki was up on his feet, arms up and ready. Midoriya slowly unfurled himself as well, curling his scarred fingers into fists, still clearly unfocused.  

“Nothing above the neck. I don’t want you breaking your fingers on my skull.” Midoriya said warily.

“You do have a thick head.” Todoroki called and his own smirk surprised him. Midoriya barely had enough time to snort before Todoroki lunged forward.

Shit- ” Midoriya barely avoided the first kick Todoroki threw his way, diving to the side and sending up a spray of sand. He barely got his arms up in time to deflect the second kick and Todoroki’s third punched through his guard, sending him rolling back in the sand.

“Focus!” Todoroki called and Midoriya leapt back up with an irritated scowl.

“I didn’t expect to be fighting my boyfriend on Christmas Eve!” He yelled back, shaking sand from his hair, and then narrowly dodged Todoroki’s rapid jabs. Midoriya’s words sparked a thrill of adrenaline through Todoroki and he easily ducked away from his punch.

“Your boyfriend is going to kick your ass if you don’t get serious.” Todoroki called back, deadpan. He pivoted into a kick, landing a solid smack to Midoriya’s ribs and sending him staggering backwards.

Midoriya wheezed, annoyed. With every chilled exhale, Todoroki could see Midoriya’s focus starting to settle heavy on him and it made exhilaration bubble up in his veins.

This was fun, Todoroki realized.

Not wanting to give him time to think, he lunged forward for Midoriya’s exposed stomach. Even without his lightning-fast quirk, Midoriya was quick to react and spun around to jam his knee at Todoroki’s torso. Todoroki rolled away from the strike, but his eye caught Midoriya’s smug grin-

A feint!

Midoriya’s other leg hurtled from the side, straight at Todoroki’s back. With a curse, Todoroki threw himself to the side, sand flying up into his mouth.

The tables turned in that moment. There was a glint in Midoriya’s eyes as he charged forward. Todoroki’s arms rang with the force of each of Midoriya’s blows, as he weaved and dodged and parried, teeth gritted. The shifting sand made for shit footing. Each time Todoroki stumbled back, Midoriya pressed forward just a little more.

“I thought we talked about this-” Midoriya panted as Todoroki narrowly avoided being kicked in the stomach, “-you’re too defensive in close-combat!”

Growling, Todoroki threw a hard elbow jab followed by a low kick to shut him up. The jab missed, but Todoroki’s kick caught Midoriya’s knee and his leg buckled. As he staggered, Todoroki surged forward and seized his wrist. Hooking his leg around Midoriya’s, he twisted his arm, and-

He threw his whole body down, dragging Midoriya down under him.

Off-balance, Midoriya hit the sand hard with a gasp. Todoroki hovered over him with a knee pressed into his stomach and his hand locking Midoriya’s arms. It took the entirety of Todoroki’s weight to force him still as he strained against Todoroki’s grip. They were both panting.

“Yield.” Todoroki managed to get out.  

Wide green eyes met his and that was all the warning he got before Midoriya twisted, legs swinging up to grapple Todoroki around waist. The two of them thrashed, Midoriya half-gasping, half-laughing, as they wrestled in the sand, forgoing any real technique. His thighs had locked around Todoroki’s hips, stronger than steel, and pulled, making Todoroki’s knees slip against the sand. Todoroki had one hand digging into hard muscle of Midoriya’s forearms, the other grabbing his back, fingers slipping on the soft cotton of his shirt. His back hit the sand once, twice-

They fought each other for control and flipped themselves over the drifts. Todoroki’s head rattled as he lost track of the sky and the earth. All he could see and feel was Midoriya gritting his teeth, both above him and below him in the same instant.

Then, as furious and explosive as it started, Todoroki found him trapped with Midoriya’s forearm braced against his sternum. He wheezed, chest heaving, straining against the weight of Midoriya’s body pressing down on him. His legs scrambled useless against the sand as Midoriya’s thighs kept his hips still. His quirk roared under his skin, almost reflexively, and Todoroki had to clench his teeth to stop his ice from punching Midoriya off him. The sand pooled cold into his clothes but everywhere that Midoriya’s weight pressed against him was hot.

They were close, as close as had they had in the foyer that morning at his house. Todoroki drank in the detail, the slight bit of sweat at Midoriya’s temple and above his lips and those dark eyes, pinning him with their focus.

There you are.

“Yield.” Midoriya whispered and his breath was hot against Todoroki’s face. Todoroki could smell stale sugar on his breath and it made his stomach clench.

“I yield.” Todoroki gasped, going slack under his grip.

Losing stung, but he did not avert his eyes. His heart pounded so hard that he was sure Midoriya could feel it rattle through his skin, echoing into his own. Already he wanted to go again, or maybe flip them and press Midoriya’s heated skin into the cold sands. His eyes fluttered down to Midoriya’s panting mouth.

The distance between them had never seemed so small.

“What was the point of this?” Midoriya murmured, unmoving and heavy on Todoroki’s chest. He gave Todoroki a heady look, still slightly out of breath.  

Todoroki raised his eyes, solemn. Despite being the one holding him down, it was Midoriya who looked vulnerable in that moment.

“No quirks.” He breathed. “Isn’t this your strength? Hasn’t this, everything you worked for, always been yours?”

Midoriya stilled. Todoroki could see that brilliant mind of his at work, whirling right behind those eyes. They were so close that his world was filled with just Midoriya, warm and real. The weight on Todoroki’s chest lightened as he shifted back.

That was the only warning he got before Midoriya pulled his face to his.

Midoriya is kissing me.

Todoroki stiffened for half a second, shocked at the warmth and wet of Midoriya’s mouth , brushing against his. The sand from those scarred palms scraped against his cheek as Midoriya gently cradled his face. Then, the desire a year in the making flooded Todoroki down to his fingertips and he reared upwards to taste Midoriya’s mouth.

“You!” Midoriya looked overwhelmed, just for a second, before diving forward for another hungry kiss. He pushed Todoroki’s head back with the force of his kisses, crushing their lips together. “You’re so-!”

“God-” Todoroki gasped in-between hard kisses, neck straining as he chased his lips. His mind roared with white hot pleasure, fuzzy at the edges. His hands moved on their own, twisting into Midoriya’s shirt, ghosting past his collarbones, please, don’t make me let go-

It was as if something inside his heart ignited, and with a sudden surge of strength, he flipped them over, pinning Midoriya into the cold sands. Their eyes met and the spark of understanding, of desire, rendered them quiet for a moment.

“Midoriya-” Todoroki choked out, throaty and wonderstruck, “Are you cold?”

Midoriya shook his head as heat rose in the lingering spaces between them. “You’re warm.” He murmured, chest heaving. One scarred hand gripped Todoroki’s bicep, just for a second, before Midoriya was the one pulling Todoroki closer, frantic and impatient. “You’re warm, Todoroki-kun-” Midoriya panted into his mouth.

Neither of them knew what they were doing, noses squishing against each other and lips catching on teeth. Yet it hardly mattered. The touch of Midoriya’s hands, Midoriya’s nose, Midoriya’s mouth-

Todoroki was dizzy with permission.

“Incredible, you are- god, you are the most incredible person,” Midoriya exhaled, eyes glimmering with unshed tears and smiling wider than Todoroki had ever seen. He knocked his forehead against Todoroki’s, still holding onto his face. Something lifted in Todoroki’s chest, bright and untouchable. It was exhilaration and contentment all in the same glistening breath.

Unable to contain it, he leaned down, tender despite their hunger, and kissed Midoriya full on the mouth.

 

 

Group Chat (3 active, 1 offline)

Fuyumi: @Shouto, should I leave some leftovers out for you? When are you getting back?

[Read 3:15 pm]

Natsu: @Shouto, the old bastard’s back. He’s snoring like a pig though.

Natsu: I left the back window open if you want to sneak back

[Read 8:32 pm]

Fuyumi: @Shouto

Natsu: @Shouto

Shouto: i’ll meet you guys tomorrow at mom’s at 10

Shouto: i’m staying at Midoriya’s

Natsu: !!!!

Natsu: OMG have fun

Natsu sent a sticker!

Shouto sent a sticker!

Natsu: RUDE >:O

Fuyumi: tell us earlier next time!

Fuyumi: and give me Midoriya-san’s phone number in case of emergencies!!!

Shouto: let me ask

Shouto is typing...

 

 

The sound of someone talking in a low whisper roused Todoroki from his slumber. His body was too sleep-heavy to move and someone had wrapped him in a blanket. The room was dark, with only soft moonlight filtering through the blinds. For a moment, he forgot where he was, until he heard Midoriya mention his name down the hall.

"-don't turn on the light, Todoroki-kun's still asleep on the couch.”

"You must have tired him out. Did you boys have fun?" That must have been his mother. The crinkle of shopping bags was familiar to Todoroki and an edge of light poured lit up the corner of the room - a fridge being opened.

"Yeah, it was a lot of fun." Midoriya murmured in reply, stammering a little.

They had come back to Midoriya’s home, covered in sand and arms slung around each other. For how new it all was, Midoriya had no qualms with pressing Todoroki up against the bathroom wall, learning how to kiss deep into his mouth. Nor was Todoroki any less fired up. He had learned what sand and salt tasted like on Midoriya’s neck and what Midoriya’s hips felt like under his hands (bony, but strong). Todoroki had tried to feed Midoriya spoonfuls of strawberry shortcake, but Midoriya’s own embarrassment meant they settled for chaste kisses between bites of cream. When they had grown too exhausted to kiss much more, Midoriya had tugged Todoroki close to spoon, mouthing at his neck. The sensation had made Todoroki’s toes tingle and turned his mind hazy with bliss.

In other words, fun.

“That’s good. You boys have been working too hard. You deserved some relaxation after all those tests.”

There was nothing particularly remarkable about the conversation, carried in hushed tones with the sounds of groceries being put away. Yet Todoroki quietly listened in, careful to appear sleeping.

So this is how he sounds when he speaks to his mother. The thought was charming.

"Did you two already eat? I can make something quick."

"I’m a little hungry, but let me ask him? I should probably wake him soon anyway, otherwise he'll sleep through the night."

"He’s staying over, right? The snow's getting a bit worse- wouldn’t want him to catch a chill."

"Mum, his quirk is half-ice, half-fire." As Midoriya came over to the couch, Todoroki quickly let his breathing even out and his eyelids fluttered closed.

"So half of him will get cold, young man." Midoriya and his mother shared the same teasing lilt in her voice. Another charming thought.

There was a shuffle and Midoriya knelt beside him. A gentle hand came down on his head, brushing back his hair to reveal the scar on his face. What is he doing? Todoroki could feel Midoriya hesitate for a moment, before those callused fingers lightly traced up his jaw to the stretched and burnt skin on his cheekbone.

Few times in Todoroki's life had he been touched so tenderly.

"Todoroki-kun." Midoriya whispered and Todoroki could hear the smile in his voice. "Are you awake?"

Todoroki didn't respond, breathing carefully through his nose. Midoriya's hand returned, hesitantly, to his shoulder, but instead of shaking him, he just rubbed his thumb against the fabric of Todoroki's sweater.

"Still asleep?" His mother's voice echoed down the hall.

"Yeah. I'm going to let him rest. I think he needs it."

"He’s not the only one.” A pause. Todoroki could imagine the sheepish expression on Midoriya’s face. “He'll wake up with a crick in his neck like that though."

"I could move him to my bed."

"Can you really carry him? He's a lot bigger than you." Another pause. "Well, don't drop him!"

He chanced a peek and saw, in the half-darkness, the collar of Midoriya's shirt and the hint of collarbones underneath. Then there was a rustle as Midoriya leaned into the couch and the sensation of breath, warm against the scarred skin over his temple. The slightest bit of wet and a firm pressure.

A kiss.

He didn't have much time to contemplate how his fingers started to tingle, because Midoriya dug his hands under his body and lifted him, blanket and all, off the couch. Todoroki barely remembered to let his body go limp, head lolling against Midoriya's firm shoulder, as his stomach swooped.

Unlike earlier, Midoriya had no hesitation in touching him, carefully re-arranging his grip on Todoroki’s thighs and back. "There we go." He murmured, gently holding Todoroki as if he were no lighter than a sack of flour. When they crossed through the door to his bedroom, Midoriya carefully sidled to avoid his head from cracking on the doorframe.

"Is he heavy?"

His mother must have followed them. Midoriya grunted as he set Todoroki down on his bed. The sheets smelled like him as he pulled them up to tuck him in.

"He's lighter than he should be. He should eat more. More meat.” Midoriya’s laugh made it hard for Todoroki to hide his own smile.

“Well, I bought ingredients for sukiyaki so we can cook extra in case he wakes up hungry.”

“Thanks, mom.” Midoriya’s hand returned to Todoroki’s forehead, gently threading through his bangs. The sensation did something strange to Todoroki’s chest.

“He’s very handsome, isn’t he?”

Todoroki tensed and Midoriya’s hand stilled.   

“Yeah, but, it’s not just that. He’s… a really, really good person. I’m very lucky.”

Even as unfamiliar Todoroki was with Midoriya Inko, he could hear the fondness in her voice, “I’m glad. I was always worried, you know, about how you were making friends at UA.”

Midoriya hummed. “He’s been nothing but good to me. Good for me.”

Then his hand dropped away and footsteps retreated into the distance. The door swung shut with a click.

 

Todoroki waited for a second, and then another, before he could hear the distant sounds of cooking in the kitchen. Then he opened his eyes.

A little bit of moonlight seeped through Midoriya’s window and he could see shadows cast by rows of All Might figurines. Though the shape of the room was different from his school room, the familiar beaming All Mights put Todoroki ease. He could see the snow building up on the windowsill by the bed.

Rolling over to pull the blankets more firmly around him, he inhaled deep to breathe in Midoriya’s scent.

“I knew you weren’t asleep.”

Todoroki gave a start as Midoriya emerged from the shadow of the door, half-hidden in the darkness, smiling.

“...I was earlier.” Sleep made his voice rough and petulant.

Crossing the room, Midoriya knelt by the edge of the bed. “Tired?” He murmured, still smiling and resting his chin on the edge of the mattress. Todoroki could see the twinkle in his eyes, even in the darkness. With their faces so close, he found himself leaning in without thinking. Midoriya met him halfway, darting forward for one kiss, and then another, and another-

The softness of Midoriya’s lips and the hard press of his multiple kisses slowly pushed Todoroki back down into the mattress. He fell back, eyes fluttering close, as Midoriya started to kiss down his jaw. There was an intensity to how Midoriya did things, once he pushed past his initial nervousness, purposeful and focused, that Todoroki could only be swept away by.

When Midoriya pressed a light kiss to his chin, hair tickling his lips, Todoroki let out a surprised laugh. “What are you doing?”

“You have a little scar here,” Midoriya breathed, warm breath ghosting over Todoroki’s throat. A blunt fingernail traced the little divot that Todoroki had long forgotten about.

“I think that was when I was ten or so. Endeavor threw me too hard and I banged my chin on the dojo floor. Got a couple stitches.” Todoroki remembered blood in his mouth and a ringing in his head, made worse by his father’s bellows. Yet in the darkness of Midoriya’s room, surrounded by plastic All Mights, the memory felt hazy and his body remained soft and lax against Midoriya’s sheets. It was just a recollection, carelessly remembered and easily discarded.

Midoriya’s fingers curled tight against Todoroki’s arms for a second, before he reached up to kiss Todoroki hard, all warm tongue and demanding mouth. Todoroki sighed in pleasure - he was just drowsy enough that Midoriya’s touch didn’t make him feel like he was about to shake apart.

When Midoriya pulled back, Todoroki opened his eyes and saw him being studied. “What?” He mumbled, half-asleep.

“Are you sure you’re not hungry?”

“I’ll get up if you want to eat.”

Midoriya shook his head. “You can sleep, you know. Let me just tell my mom and we can go to sleep.” He said, fondly, carding his fingers through Todoroki’s hair. Then he blushed, “That is, if you don’t mind sleeping next to me-”

“How are you not exhausted?” Todoroki grumbled and turned just enough to press his cheek to the back of Midoriya’s scarred hand. Already his eyes had begun to flutter close again. “Get in bed with me already.”

Midoriya burst into a fit of incredulous snickers and slapped his hand over his face, clearly embarrassed. “Ah, you’re dangerous, Todoroki-kun.” He mumbled into his hand. Reluctantly, he got to his feet and headed to the hallway. Right before he stepped through the door, however, he turned around. His cheeks were flushed, but his eyes were ablaze with light when he murmured, “Let’s go see the lights together next year.”   

Warmth filled Todoroki, unrelated the mountain of blankets he had been buried under. Oh, I love him. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Midoriya looked surprised, as if he hadn’t expected Todoroki to agree, before grinning. “It’s a date then.” Then he quietly closed the door.

Here Todoroki laid, inside the Midoriya home, upon his childhood bed, tucked in as if he belonged there. Outside, he could hear Midoriya conversing in warm tones with his mother. Maybe tomorrow they would welcome him warmly to their table, before he would go to see his own mother.

He would even get to spend the night, sleeping quietly next to Midoriya as snow covered the city.

Carefully, his fingers touched his forehead, where Midoriya had pressed his mouth earlier. The tingling sensation, not unlike when frost crept up his toes, hadn’t faded. Happiness , he realized, for that quiet, simple gesture.

Half-asleep underneath the covers, Todoroki felt the truth seep warm through his bones.

Ah, he loves me.

 

 

fin.