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the courage to stand alone

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Endeavor is coming to the dorms.

It’s Sero that spots him first—catching sight of the hulking figure that was slowly crossing the grounds of UA. Endeavor is a hard man to miss, even without his quirk. He is tall, broad and imposing. It was as if he commanded respect by just being in the same room as another.

Soon enough, most of the class of 1-A crowds around, excitedly whispering as the now number one hero parades up the steps of their dorm.

Midoriya Izuku watches on with dread. Todoroki Shoto watches on with grudging acceptance.

It’s really not hard to guess why he’s here. Todoroki failed his provisional exam and Endeavor heard about it. Really, this is something he should’ve expected. Endeavor had groomed Todoroki to be perfect so when he fails, when something goes wrong, Endeavor shows up to remind him.

Todoroki had told him all about his past failures behind closed doors. Izuku tries not to be sick.  Dread pools in his stomach, twisting and turning as he watches Endeavor slowly approach.

“He’s so cool,” Ashido says with a wry grin and smashes her face against the glass. She’s pushed out of the way not a second later by another classmate wanting to take a look. It dissolves into a full-out brawl with laughing high schoolers eagerly crowding around just to spot a glimpse of their idol. Iida tries to rein in the situation but it’s too out of control for even the class president so he just stops and waits for the rest of the class to burn itself out.

“I wonder why he’s here?” Hagakure says.

“Well that’s obvious,” Kaminari responds and shifts his gaze to Todoroki who sitting on the lounge’s couch and trying to make himself as small as possible. The rest of the class offers little more than a glance and soon the subject is changed to Endeavor’s recent escapees as number one hero.

Izuku is starting to think that the feeling in his stomach is much, much worse than dread.

“Todoroki…?” he questions and quietly makes his way over to the couch. Todoroki doesn’t acknowledge his presence at all. Izuku tries again, waving his hand in front of Todoroki’s face. There—for the briefest second—their eyes met and Izuku could truly see the fear of beneath his calm mask.

“I’m fine,” says Todoroki who is definitely not fine.

“He’s not here yet,” Izuku says and he knows it’s a little desperate, knows it won’t help but he can’t call himself a hero is he doesn’t at least try. “We could still leave. There’s a back exit. He wouldn’t know.”

“He’d find me,” Todoroki says flatly. “He always does.”

Izuku tries to respond to that, to offer comfort, but before he can even lift a hand, Endeavor bursts through the door. The students of 1-A crowd around him and ask questions, holding up papers for autographs (after all, it’s not every day that the number one hero strolls into their dorms) yet Endeavor ignores every single one of the students, eyes slowly raking through the room.

“Where,” he says, voice cold and low, “is Shoto?”

There must be something about the way that he says it that makes the rest of the class part like the red sea. Their chattering has died down and they stare wide eyed at the cold, masked fury on Endeavors face. 

Izuku is already jumping out of his seat to get Todoroki anywhere but here when Todoroki stands up, mask back in place and says, “I’m here.”

“Come,” Endeavor barely glances at him, gesturing out the door. “We have things to talk about.”

Izuku can only watch as Todoroki Shoto—his classmate, his friend—leaves with a villain disguised as a hero.

 


 

The class eventually gets bored trying to spy on the conversation considering both Endeavor and Todroki are long gone. Izuku would be surprised if they were still on campus and if they were, they would be far away from any prying eyes. Endeavor is not stupid. He’s a lot of things, but stupid has never been one of them.

The class migrates back to the lounge, waiting for Todoroki to return. Most played video games or chatted about schoolwork. Sato makes a beeline for the kitchen before Bakugo can get there while Shoji is curled up on one of the couches, headphones in his ears.

There’s a kind of subdued silence, the one that’s felt before a storm. Izuku knows that none of the class know but he can’t help but think even they sense something is wrong with the situation.

 “Maaaan, Endeavor looked mad!” Perhaps it was an effort to break the mood, but Izuku tries not to cringe. Mad would’ve been pleasant compared to what Endeavor looked like. His eyes were cold, glazed over with fury. He looked at Todoroki like one would look at an insect—insignificant and annoying. It was hard for Midoriya to believe that people could look up at that manand see a hero.

(He tries to ignore the voice in his head that screams you thought he was a hero too.)

A hand on his shoulder stops him from starting to mutter and he looks up, only to see Uraraka. There’s concern on her face, head tilted to the side. She’s concerned for him even though he’s not the one she should be concerned for.

“Deku?” she says, “Are you okay?”

He glances at the door, imagining the look of acceptance on Todoroki’s face. Imagining the rage on Endeavor’s. He tries not to cringe. He shouldn’t be the one she worries about. “I-I’m mad.”

 “You? You’re mad?,” Uraraka says, confusion in her voice. The conversation draws the attention of some other students.

“Why are you mad?” Ojiro asks.

“I don’t like Endeavor,” Izuku says.

“You?!” Kirishima interrupts and laughs. “You, the hero fanboy, don’t like the number one hero? I thought you would be dying to meet him but now that I think about it, you were at the door with the rest of us.”

“Deku, is this because of Todoroki?” Uraraka asks, her voice soft. Izuku doesn’t want to spill secrets that aren’t his, so he just stares at the door. Uraraka pulls him into a hug and tries to offer comfort. “Endeavor is the number one hero for a reason you know! Todoroki will be fine. I think Endeavor was just a little upset but it’s not Todoroki’s fault. I’m sure he’ll understand. Endeavor is his father, after all!"

Her words only made the dread worse.  

 


 

Todoroki comes back not ten minutes later, looking defeated and dead. There are red spots on his arm that he seems to try and cover up. Endeavor follows him into the door and Izuku can almost see satisfaction in his eyes. The class quiets again, watching as Todoroki hurries across the lounge and there’s something just so off about his expression that Izuku mind goes blank.

When Izuku looks at Todoroki, he doesn’t see his friend. He sees a mask put in place to protect himself. Sees the defeated look in his eyes. The acceptance. It was like he was saying this is just how it is.

He’ll be fine, Uraraka had said.

Todoroki is definitely not fine.

Todoroki is a good person. Sometimes he seems cold and aloof towards others, but Izuku knows. Todoroki is a survivor. He saw it in his eyes when they first met, but couldn’t place what, exactly, he had been looking at. After their talk at the sports festival, everything clicked into place. The Sports Festival passed and Todoroki was getting better. He started to talk to his classmates, make friends. Started to smile, started to laugh. It made Izuku happy, to see him like that. It was like Todoroki was allowed to be free for the first time.  

The dorms only made things better. Not seeing his father for weeks at a time was helping Todoroki grow. He joined them in Friday card game night, crushed them all at Mario Cart, joked around (in his own special way) with the rest of the class. He offered help to tutor other students, hung out with Yaomomo on Saturday nights, helped cook dinner every Tuesday.

(There were still nights that Todoroki would come to Izuku—nights that he couldn’t sleep, wanting comfort but not knowing to ask how.

“I’ll be fine,” Todoroki had told him. “I’ve dealt with him my entire life.”

“You shouldnt've had to.” )

Izuku knows what Todoroki needs. He needs friends and comfort and support. He doesn’t need the pain and hurt and disappointment that Endeavor always seems to push on him. He doesn’t need the fear, doesn’t need the memories.

He doesn’t need Endeavor.

Maybe that’s why the blood rushes to his head and Midoriya feels his entire body heat up. His face flushes and his arms shaking, but for once he doesn’t feel like crying. It’s not fear that drives him. He doesn’t feel fear when he looks at Endeavor. He feels rage. White hot rage that pulses through his body and burns with the same power of One For All. Unlike Kacchan, he’s not quick to anger and quick to attack. His anger burns just as bright and as hot as any of Endeavor’s flames.

Endeavor has no right coming in here and taking away Todoroki’s safe space. He has no rightto cause that expression (fear, dread, anxiety, acceptance—) on his friend’s face.

Todoroki is half way across the lounge when Izuku shoots out of his seat and fixes the number one hero with as fierce a glare as he can muster. His fists are clenched at his side and his entire body is starting to shake. Beside him, Uraraka stares, looking up at him at wide eyes. He sees Todoroki pause out of the corner of his eye.

“Endeavor,” Izuku says and suddenly he’s five feet away from the hero. He doesn’t know when he moved, doesn’t care. Endeavor turns to him, eyebrow raised and distain clearly on his face. Izuku doesn’t care.

His classmates are all watching, knowing something was wrong but not knowing what. Izuku was never one for anger, never one for confrontation. They’re used to the tears, used to the fear but not used to the fury. They’re all watching him with baited breath. Todoroki seems the quietest out of all of them.

Endeavor starts to walk away again when Izuku doesn’t immediately reply. It’s petty and rude and Midoriya knows that something like that shouldn’t get to him but it does. He curls his hands into fists and grits his teeth.

You don’t get to burn your own child and walk away as if nothing happened. 

Fuck you,” Izuku spits voice low and full of venom. He pours all of his anger into the words, his fear for his friend. He’s shaking violently as all his classmates turn to look at him in shock. One For All is right underneath his skin, rattling and almost begging to come out.

Endeavor stops before slowly turning. Izuku knows by the expression on his face that he heard clearly, yet he doesn’t move forward, doesn’t engage. He towards about Izuku, face fierce and cold but Izuku doesn’t back down. “Excuse me?”

Izuku doesn’t use his quirk—doesn’t want to. Even with it screaming to be called upon and rattling through his body, he doesn’t let it win. Using One For All against a person like Endeavor (a hero, as much as Izuku loathes to admit it) would be a disgrace to him and all the users before him. All Might entrusted that power to him to use to protect people, to save people when all else fails. Here, he doesn’t have to use it. He stands strong with his own power and his own emotions.

He’s not Deku right now—he’s Midoriya Izuku.

“I said fuck you,” Izuku repeats, slower this time. Spelling out each word so he knows Endeavor hears every syllable. “Get out of our dorm.”

He thinks of Todoroki, how safe he feels in these walls. Thinks of the friends that support him, thinks of the place they’ve managed to create with a little support and a little friendship.

He won’t let Endeavor ruin that.

His classmates gasp and mutter among themselves, eyes wide. Ashido falls off the couch and Kaminari slaps a hand over Kirashima’s mouth before he can shout in shock. Tysu is watching him, head tilted and curious. Uraraka gasps and stutters but holds back Iida when he tries to interfere. The other classmates stare on, unsure how to respond to the entire situation. They whisper, trying to call him back, try to understand.

“Midoriya, what are you doing?”

“Is he serious?”

“Did he really just say that to Endeavor?”

“What the fuck, Midoriya!”

And Todoroki? Todoroki has a hand over his mouth and tries to hide a small, grateful smile.  

 “Midoriya Izuku you will eat those words,” Endeavor warns. The fire is back, but this time it’s not directed at Todoroki. That’s good, that’s fine—Izuku can handle Endeavor’s rage, his fire. He can handle being Endeavor’s enemy.  

As long as it’s not directed at Todoroki, Izuku can handle anything that Endeavor throws at him.

Izuku doesn’t respond. He can’t bring himself to care. His anger is gone, burning hot and fast, leaving him feeling heavy. He wants Endeavor gone. He never wants to see him again. He meets Endeavor’s eyes, tired and numb, but still standing strong.

He can’t say he’s not grateful when Endeavor walks out of the dorm without another word.

 


 

Izuku is sent to the principal’s office that evening. He gets a lecture from the principal about proper behavior and representing UA, especially around pro heroes. There’s something in the principal’s eyes when he talks—not quite anger, not happiness. He’s not proud, but he’s not disappointed.  

(“Don’t make enemies like that,” Principal Nedzu warns. “People like that are better allies.”

“I can’t ally myself with someone like him,” Izuku replies and that’s all he will say. )

It doesn’t stop him from getting suspended for a week.

He almost thinks he sees pride in Aziawa-sensei’s eyes when he passes his homeroom teacher in the hall. Aziawa-sensei doesn’t say anything to him, just nods towards the dorms. He doesn’t comment on the suspension, doesn’t say anything about the situation. Midoriya likes to think that he understands a little bit.

The same cannot be said for All Might.

All Might takes him by the arm and drags him to his office. It’s three hours before All Might even let him get a word in edgewise. He’s never seen his mentor so angry and hurt. A part of him feels bad about it—he doesn’t want to get his mentor in trouble, doesn’t want his mentor disappointed in him but then he sees Todoroki’s expression and Endeavor’s eyes and he just can’t bring himself to feel sorry.

“Why did you say something like that?” All Might asks.

Izuku stays silent, closes his eyes and takes All Might’s words and disappointment.

 “I just don’t understand why you, of all people, would do something like that.” All Might buries his head into his hands. Izuku still doesn’t respond. He’s not going to spill a secret that isn’t his to share in the first place. All Might, of all people, should understand that.

By the time he makes it back to the dorm, the sun is down and he feels exhausted. His anger has left his body, replaced by an aching numbness. He feels like his feet are dragging on the grass and his backpack weighs him down.

When he opens the door, he’s greeted by his classmates. Mostly questions, some concerned. Izuku glances at the crowd, doesn’t see Todoroki, before giving them a half-assed reassurance and scurries up to his room. He flops on his bed, buries his face into his pillow. He’s so exhausted that he feels that he could simply fall asleep anywhere, but he doesn’t.

He’s suspended for a week before he said fuck you to Endeavor, the number one hero. The current keeper of peace.

Izuku can’t bring himself to regret what he said.  

(Later, when the class is asleep, Todoroki comes into his dorm room and says thank you, and Izuku is sure that everything will be all right).