Power exploded from Todoroki's quirk and a mass of ice rushed towards Izuku, the kind that had trapped the noumu back at the USJ. But Izuku had been able to stop the weapon designed to fight All Might.
So Todoroki shouldn't have been so surprised when Izuku avoided it and seemingly appeared into his space. He had the time to summon a wall of ice, and it shattered under Izuku's punch, making Todoroki fly backwards in the middle of ice shards.
But not enough as he stopped himself with another ice wall, bouncing harshly on it.
I was right. Air blasts are out.
Long distance attacks were probably better if Izuku wanted to play it safe, but unlike Honenuki, Todoroki could stop himself from being flung around. The trick would be to hit hard enough to break the wall at his back and any defense at the front, but Todoroki was in the middle and Izuku wasn't trusting his control enough not to break his opponent's neck.
And the middle of the Sport Festival was no testing ground.
Izuku fled as ice flew towards him, stalagmites attacking him instead of the usual surges of ice Todoroki could summon. Someone really wanted to stop Izuku. Still, it wasn't fast enough to actually threaten him.
He kept avoiding the stalagmites, destroying Todoroki's ice, and hitting him when he wasn't fast enough to create a shield. Izuku hounded him, relentless. In return, the ice quickly spread through the arena, Todoroki trying to keep him away or at least to break his run. With the unleashing of this quirk, the temperature dropped, and the cold air started to burn the inside of Izuku's lungs.
''MIDORIYA DROPS HIS PREVIOUS TACTICS OF OVERWHELMING IN ONE HIT HIS OPPONENT, AND PREFERS A HIT-AND-RUN STRATEGY !'' Present Mic screamed.
''He has to be careful since Todoroki can keep himself from being thrown out of the ring,'' Aizawa-Sensei explained.
The two commentators distracted Izuku for a second, and he almost slipped on a patch of ice, the soles of his sneakers hindering him under the polar environment Todoroki was creating. He almost fell, calling Balance to keep himself from crashing to the cemented floor, but he was too late and fell on one knee.
Ice surged towards him, faster than before. Spikes once again, instead of the regular entrapment.
Strength. Air Pressure. Durability.
Izuku punched the ground, and the ice didn't as much shattered as exploded under the impact, and with it, the cement underneath started to crack.
Todoroki looked at the fissures, evaluating, and as he breathed, mist escaped his mouth. Izuku got back on his feet, fists clenched in an attempt to hide the shivers that had started to run on his arms.
This strategy also had its limits. Since Izuku was so close to Todoroki, mist was escaping his nose and mouth every time he breathed. His skin had started to burn because of the cold. He had been using Speed quirks like crazy but had stopped using Cooldown. And every time he moved, he created wind pressure, which was making it worse.
If this continues, can I get hypothermia just by standing next to him ?
Todoroki didn't seem to fare better, ice starting to cover his left side. But since he could allow himself to stay in place and to let his quirk do the dirty work while Izuku had to move so Air Pressure, Speed and Strength could work, Izuku wasn't sure he had the advantage here.
Three spears of ice almost kebabed him as he was trying to think of a way to make Todoroki lose without beating him to a pulp on live television.
''You think too much,'' Todoroki calmly said, drawing another ice shield just before Izuku kicked it again.
Ice shards scratched him, but he didn't slow down. Izuku pretended to attack on the side, circled around Todoroki as he protected himself, and kicked the ice wall that should have stopped Todoroki's fall, then Todoroki himself, in the back. His opponent went airborne, but not before he froze Izuku's leg, from knee to ankle.
He didn't even touch me. He doesn't need a contact point if I'm close enough. He couldn't help a smile. Interesting.
Izuku retreated so he could break the ice. He couldn't let it stay. The longer it was in contact with him, the more it weakened him. He stomped on the floor, letting Strength break it.
''And you're shivering, Todoroki. It's almost like you're not using the mechanism that keeps you from being hurt by your own quirk.''
He saw the stalagmites coming at the last second but his feet slipped a little because of all the ice on the ground, and something stabbed him a little. His fault, he should have noticed it in time to use Durability.
Todoroki took advantage of his pause to kick him in the stomach, which was just rude. Izuku didn't manage to stop his fall despite Balance. It wasn't even the ice patches but his body wasn't perfectly responding to him. Because the cold is getting to you. He landed on his side, and kicked the air, Air Pressure in tow, hitting his opponent and the ice he has started to throw at him.
And once again, Todoroki stopped himself with an ice wall.
But Izuku was back in his space before he had the time to think. He kicked the ground at Todoroki's feet, making the boy stumble. His movements were slow and uncoordinated, and he would have fallen if Izuku didn't grab his wrist. He pushed on his feet, and started throwing Todoroki like a human frisbee.
Throw him away, kick him in mid-air so he isn't protected by another ice wall.
End the fight.
Except this time, the ice never came.
Instead, pure and complete absence of warmth sank its claws inside his chest, and it was as if his heart tried to drop in his chest.
Izuku jumped back, crashing though some mass of ice as he did, and he almost fell. He could feel the pain in his chest, as if his heart was about to stop, and nothing else existed apart from that.
Resistance. Durability. Nothing worked because the frost was already inside him.
He had fallen to his knees at some point, and it's the chime of Todoroki's quirk activation which brought him back to reality.
Izuku clutched his chest, fighting to not lose consciousness. Falling asleep meant dying. He wasn't in a mock fight anymore as far as he was concerned.
All of his Speed quirks were activated and he wasn't even moving. He couldn't, not when he was feeling so bad. But the one common point every speed quirks seems to have was the warmth they created.
''Sorry Midoriya,'' Todoroki said, holding out a hand, almost entirely covered in frost. ''But you're too much like All Might to be stopped by anything less.''
But Izuku wasn't listening to him. And he barely acknowledged the iceberg coming his way.
He had never felt so cold in his entire life.
Shouto had underestimated what a pain in his side Midoriya would be.
He was hurting all over, as he kept being flung around by someone who only slowed down when he was about to hit him. He also hurt a little – probably a lot for anyone else- every time he breathed, and two kicks ago, his vision had become worryingly blurry.
Even when Shouto managed to freeze Midoriya, instead of wincing or showing discomfort, he just effortlessly broke through all of his attempts to encase him in ice. The only sign that Midoriya was indeed affected by the cold was that he was taking longer and longer pauses before attacking.
It was enough.
Hypothermia led at first to shivers, numbness, and the start of the absence of coordination. Then, people became slow, and mildly confused. Shouto had learned to recognize the signs and to push through the cold, while Midoriya's quirk probably provided enough stamina to deal with it. But he didn't have enough experience to realize he was starting to slow down.
Until he let an opening large enough for Shouto to focus the intensity of his quirk on Midoriya himself, lowering his core temperature. The backlash hurt Shouto more that he would usually care to admit, and he needed a second to push through the pain of the extreme cold he had created.
Extreme temperature shock. He never would have done that against anyone else. It was too dangerous. But he had seen Midoriya surviving worse.
''Sorry Midoriya,'' Shouto still apologized as he froze Midoriya's feet to the ground since he had finally stopped moving. ''But you're too much like All Might's to be stopped by anything less.''
Shouto unleashed the full power of his quirk as Midoriya was still kneeling on the ground, unable to run.
Ice spread out, before engulfing his opponent and half of what was left of the field.
''TODOROKI TURNS THE FIGHT AROUND BY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF MIDORIYA'S PAUSE ! AND HE SHOWED NO MERCY !''
Shouto started to advance, conscious he couldn't let someone encased in ice for too long. There was no such a thing as harmless freezing. Even for him and he had a resistance to cold.
His legs weren't responding correctly, numb and slow. Shouto had destroyed his mobility while trying to outpower Midoriya.
It was worth it. If only to see the look of absolute annoyance on his father's face.
''Midoriya can't continue,'' Midnight declared.
Shouto put a hand on the ice.
He barely had the time to feel alarm when he heard a crunching noise.
Ice exploded in sharp shards around him, and though he didn't have time to see Midoriya jumping out of the ice trap Shouto had created, he perfectly felt him punching him in the face.
Shouto crashed into the ground, stunned.
''I am not All Might,'' Midoriya said, completely still. He wasn't even looking at Shouto. He was pale, but he wasn't shivering. Not showing any sign that he was affected by the cold. ''And you can't beat me.''
What does it take to stop him ?
Shouto managed to get back on his feet. His flames were begging to be released, but he wouldn't.
Instead, he was focusing on Midoriya. He raised his arm, looking at his hand.
''MIDORIYA MANAGED TO FREE HIMSELF BUT DON'T ASK ME HOW ! HE IS DETERMINED TO GRAB VICTORY !''
No, he wasn't. He was angry. He was monumentally angry, the cold kind which could make ravages. Usually, anger made quirks more powerful but also made people clumsy but not this time.
Midoriya clenched his fist. ''You are about to pass out because of your own quirk. I don't even have to defeat you when you are doing your best to lose.''
Midoriya looked at him.
Shouto immediately understood what he meant when he said he wasn't All Might. The Symbol of Peace's eyes had never felt so cold and intense. It was like Midoriya wasn't even seeing Shouto but something at his core. It was chilling.
''You want to surpass All Might ? Or Endeavor ? Or even me ? That's impossible while you're playing around. I limit myself too, but at least, I admit it and it's not out of spite.''
Annoyance shot through Shouto.
''Why can't you understand...''
Midoriya whipped his hand, and with it, a shockwave swept through the field, drowning sounds and even the sensation of Shouto's back hitting another wall of ice.
Shouto dragged himself up. Somehow.
At other end of the arena, Midoriya was unmoving, calmer than he had ever been.
''Now, shall we begin ?'' he asked Shouto, his green eyes burning with something incredibly cold.
Toshinori had stopped pretending he was watching the third years and he was focused on his phone. He had intended to glance at it to see how Young Todoroki and Young Midoriya would fare, and the answer seemed to be : busy unleashing hell.
At least, that was he had thought. Until Young Todoroki almost won. Until Young Midoriya emerged from the sea of ice, a horrible expression on his face. Confusion, shock, and something blank that could almost be mistaken for peace for those who didn't know better.
It was the kind of all-out response a call close to death could provoke, and Toshinori knew intimately to what it could lead.
He grabbed his phone. Called Cementos.
As Young Midoriya and Young Todoroki gave up on any strategical thinking they had at the start of the fight, and simply threw the full force of their quirks at each other, starting to destroy the arena that was supposed to withstand the exploits of Third Years.
''Be prepared to stop the match.''
Midoriya was a blur, disappearing between Shouto's attacks, when he wasn't crushing any shields he could create.
It wasn't like before.
Midoriya's usage of his quirk was less careful, all caution thrown to the wind. He used to avoid the ice spears. Now, he broke them or passed through them. He used to slow down before trying to hit Shouto's ice. Now, his attacks rattled Shouto to the bone even when he wasn't hitting directly.
Shouto answered in kind, ignoring the pain on his whole body as the cold was robbing of every sensation.
Until Midoriya broke the shield in front of him, the ensuing shockwave almost breaking Shouto too.
Then, almost in the same breath, Midoriya destroyed the wall at his back, almost leveling the field at the same time.
At this moment, Shouto only knew that something was behind him, something faster and stronger than him, and he reacted with only one thought in mind.
Get away from me.
Flames burst from him in an incandescent veil, and for the first time since the beginning of this fight, Midoriya retreated before landing a hit.
Shouto's fire grew, spreading on his arm and his entire left side. With it, the numbness brought by the cold finally started to subdue. Pain started to spread in his skin, as if his whole body was remembering what it was like to feel something.
He didn't realize how much he was suffering until now.
Midoriya's eyes were wide, and though he wasn't moving for now, he had lost this specific stillness that came with anger. He sighed, seemingly relieved, and the frightening intensity that had taken hold of him was gone.
His hand was clutching his chest, as if he was out-of-breath. Or in pain.
Panic, Shouto realized. He wasn't angry. He was lashing out because my attack scared him. Hurt him.
Which meant that despite what Midoriya was pretending, Shouto had managed to injure him.
Now, he just had to continue and to finish this fight because his body gave up on him.
''Finally'', Midoriya simply said, the beginning of a smile on his face. He was looking at Shouto's flames as if it was something beautiful.
There was something peculiar about how Midoriya reacted to things that could kill him.
''You're insane,'' Shouto realized.
''That's not the point.''
This actually made Shouto smile. Though this might have to do the exhilaration of going all out for the first time in years.
As they used their quirks again, they both knew that this had to be the last attack.
Midoriya ran at him and jumped as if gravity didn't have a hold on him.
Shouto gave everything he had, pushing on both of his quirks like he never did before, because he was conscious of the aftermaths of extreme temperatures brutally coming into contact.
He braced himself.
As much as Midnight hated to interrupt two young men fighting with such passion, she was already starting to rip her sleeves even though her quirk probably wouldn't reach them in time. But Cementos' did, walls rising in front of the teenagers in a desperate attempt to separate them.
The two boys destroyed them as if they had never existed.
Right before Midnight was ejected from the platform, she saw the two boys disappearing into a storm of fire.
Shouto clang to the remnants of the circle of ice he had created to protect himself and used it to get back on his feet. Even breathing hurt and his vision was blurry. He couldn't see Midoriya past the swirls of smoke and the remains of what had been the arena.
Until the smoke brutally dissipated, and Midoriya appeared, standing calmly as if he hadn't just survived a massive explosion. His hand was still raised as he has lightly used his quirk in order to get rid of the smoke and to see where Shouto was.
Midoriya put his full focus back on him, and Shouto could almost feel the intensity of this quirk so similar to All Might's being summoned. There you are, he seemed to say silently. He started walking towards Shouto, clenching his fist.
Panting, Shouto prepared himself to use his quirk again. Fire, ice, he didn't know what to use since Midoriya seemed to be impossible to harm permanently, but he wouldn't give up.
But Midoriya stopped.
He looked down at his feet, and every ounce of his previous intensity disappeared as if it had never existed. He sighed, and bowed at Shouto.
''Midoriya is out of bounds,'' Midnight screamed as she climbed back on her platform. ''Todoroki wins !''
Shouto finally understood as he realized where the broken line of the delimited field stood. His ice, fire, and Midoriya's strength had mostly destroyed it.
And Midoriya was outside of it.
Nagisa sighed, the weight on her chest being finally lifted as she saw her favorite bug leaving the ring without any sign of injuries.
This wasn't the case for his opponent. The winner tried to leave. Limped a few steps, then hanged on pile of ice and cement rubble, slightly hunched as he tried to fight what looked like a mix of exhaustion and pain. Be it because of the beating Midoriya had inflicted, the effect of the cold his own quirk generated, or the last explosion, the fight had left his marks.
While Midoriya was none for worse for wear.
''Midoriya would have won if it wasn't in a tournament,'' Chiyoh said next to her. ''The Todoroki boy looks half-dead.''
More people started to agree but Nagisa stayed quiet, worry clutching at her.
The medical robots told Shouto to wait so he could be transported to the infirmary but he refused, iced his injuries, pretended nothing hurt, and dragged himself away from the pit. He couldn't bear the claps and the spectators, not when he was this agitated.
He had won but he didn't feel like it.
He had used his left side.
Shouto's hand went to his scar, the gesture instinctive. Midoriya had scared him. Or Shouto had desperately wanted to win. He wasn't sure.
His mind was a mess and he needed time to think.
''Without control over your flames, going all out is dangerous,'' Endeavor smiled, almost giddy.
But fortunately, his father had decided to visit him again, replacing the maelstrom of thoughts and unidentifiable emotions by the familiar feeling of utter annoyance and the desire to hit him with something heavy.
He thought he had heard him screaming during the match but Shouto was used to ignore what escaped his father's mouth.
''This was a close-call, but at least, you've put aside your childish rebellion !''
He was in the way, so Shouto had to stop, and instantly regretted it.
''You're finally ready to replace me. To surpass me, even.'' Endeavor hold out his hand, so proud of the weapon he had created. ''Come work with me after you graduate ! I will guide you down the path of supremacy !''
''I didn't put anything aside,'' he managed to say. His ribs didn't like him talking. And they didn't seem to appreciate air either, which was concerning.
His father finally shut up. Shouto didn't know if it was because of what he had said or the calm in his voice. It was a rare thing during their father-son conversations.
''It's just that... in the moment... in the instant... I forgot all about you,'' Shouto realized. ''Whether that's a good, bad, or something in between... That's something I will have to think about.''
He did manage to walk away. At least ten steps. Then, his knees gave away, and suddenly, he couldn't remain standing anymore. Endeavor rushed to him, trying to catch him.
Shouto at least had the time to slap his father's hand away before he crashed to the ground.
Toshinori's attention was brought back to his phone as his old master sent him two messages.
A screenshot of Young Midoriya just after he had escaped the ice.
And a question.
Gran Torino: [Doesn't he remind you of someone?]