Actions

Work Header

'till the end I will be with you

Chapter Text

Todoroki Touya hates his hair, hates his eyes, hates his quirk, hates that they all make Mother flinch at the sight of him.

 

He especially hates Todoroki Enji.

 

He hates that the man bases his children’s worth off of whether or not their Quirk was the one he wanted out of his marriage to Yukimura Rei. He hates that even when you’re considered a “failure” to Todoroki Enji, you have to live up to the other Todoroki expectations. You still get tutored as soon as you’re learning to talk, so that you speak and think like a ten year old at the age of 5.  You’re still expected to bring home top grades and be able to defend yourself in a fight, but you don’t get congratulated for succeeding. You just don’t get yelled at for being completely worthless.

 

He hates the man for being the piece of shit father willing to train a four year old with a quirk that was powerful but also self-harming until the kid vomited on the floor. He hates him for making his mother cry, for treating him and his siblings like trash because they didn’t live up to his expectations.

 

He hates that his mother would flinch from him as he grew older, with his red hair and sea green eyes that looked to much like his . Dyeing his hair black had helped, but Touya hates that he had to do it in the first place.

 

He hates that when Shouto’s quirk came in, he felt relieved, because that meant he was off the hook. Then he hates that the old man is training his five year old son when his fifteen year old is ready and willing to train more to keep his baby brother safe.

 

But mostly, Todoroki Touya hates the man he is forced to call Father because Mother is gone (has been gone. It’s been two months now and he still wishes she were here even though it’s best that she’s away from the old man) and Shouto has burn scars on the left side of his face and shoulder and neck and he still wants Shouto to train because “All Might won’t be beaten by a snivelling child. Get up!”

 

Touya wants out. He could just leave, he knows. The old man doesn’t give a fuck about him; hasn’t since Shouto’s quirk emerged. Touya could just pack up his shit and leave in the middle of the night and the old man wouldn’t waste two seconds wondering where he went unless someone started asking the wrong questions.

 

With that in mind, Touya packs up everything important: some cash the old man doesn’t know or care that he has, some clothes, enough non-perishable food for about three days. He almost doesn’t take a family photo: Mother and Fuyumi and Natsuo and Shouto and himself, smiling at the camera and relaxing at the park. His guitar, his baby, is also packed. He can busk for cash if necessary.

 

The old man is out on patrol and the house is dark, the perfect time to leave and never come back.

 

Touya makes it to the front door before he hears the whisper of, “Tou-nii?”

 

Touya curses in his mind. Of course it’s Natsuo. He turns to see his younger brother peeking from behind the corner. The ten year old’s eyes are wide, chin wobbling. Snow white hair falls into his face, disheveled from sleep. In the silvery light, Touya can see dried tear tracks running down his cheeks.

 

Touya knows what that face means. Touya crouches down, arms open, and Natsuo runs into them. “Did you have a nightmare, Natsu?”

 

Natsuo curls his head so that it lays in the crook of Touya’s shoulder. “You left me and Fu-nee and Shou-Shou alone. Like Mama. Are you gonna leave now, too?” he murmurs quietly.

 

Touya’s body has a core of ice—impractical when his fire as blue as the old man’s top temperature and will damage him more than he could damage an enemy—but he’s never felt colder than he does now. Natsuo’s tone is so simple, so blasé, as if he’s been expecting Touya to leave.

 

As if he’s resigned to losing family.

 

“Touya,” Mother’s voice rings in his head. “Touya, you’ll be the oldest okay? That means that I need you to help me take care of them when I’m not around.”

 

Even then, Mother didn’t mention the old man, knowing that he wouldn’t care of they didn’t meet his expectations.

 

Touya had forgotten that she asked that of him, and he feels even colder, because how much has he forgotten because he hates the old man that much?

 

“Touya-nii, be careful!”

 

“Don’t worry Fuyu! I’ll be fine!”

 

Fuyumi, soft as the first snow of winter, anxious and now burdened with becoming the new woman of the house at the age of twelve. Who is so, so kind. Who wants to become a teacher. Who is ignored just because her quirk is identical to Mother’s, if not colder than anything he’d ever seen Mother make.

 

“Come on, Natsu!”

 

“Tou-nii, wait up for me!”

 

Natsuo, as spirited and irreverent as the fire he doesn’t hold, cheerful like the first snowball fight of the year until his temper gets the better of him and he rages like the blizzards he cannot summon. Who definitely got their father’s ability to hold grudges and their mother’s vicious protectiveness, even if he never inherited either of their quirks. Who adores Touya and dreams of being the sidekick to Touya’s hero.

 

“Tou-nii, you shouldn’t be here!”

 

“You’re a million years too early to tell me what to do, Shou-Shou. Where’d he bruise you this time?”

 

Shouto, the youngest, the baby, the one who by some stroke of fate became everything the old man wanted in a weapon except for the fact that Shouto didn’t want to obey. Who would never obey because Shouto was a Mama’s Boy and held grudges just like the old man did. Who would only get sweets and gifts because Touya had to sneak them to Shouto , when Mother finished patching him up in her room after training sessions that left the five year old on the ground and exhausted.

 

(Who only got gifts now because he and Natsuo slipped them to Shouto when he or Fuyumi took care of his injuries, because Mother was gone ).

 

“I will!” a younger Touya’s voice echoes. “I’ll be their hero when Mama’s not around!”

 

How could he forget?

 

Touya strokes Natsuo’s hair as he silently shivers. “No Natsu,” Touya breathes into his hair. “Tou-nii’s not going anywhere without you and Fu-nee and Shou-Shou.”

 

Natsuo grips his arms tighter, a little hiccup escaping from his lips. “Promise? You’ll take us with you?”

 

Touya nods. “Promise.”

 

Touya may hate the hero industry, when it lets shits like his old man become famous and known for “saving people,” but part of him still wants to be a hero, at least to his siblings.

 

And let’s be real, nothing would be more satisfying than to spirit away his siblings without leaving any way for the old man to get them back.

 

“Now come on,” Touya says as he lifts Natsuo up. “It’s time to sleep.”


He can wait. He needs to wait. He needs a plan, because he’s not gonna leave Shouto alone with the old man, and that’s gonna be the hardest part.

 


 

Two heads are better than one, and Fuyumi has always been smarter and sneakier than anyone ever gives her credit for.

 

“Are you mad!?” Fuyumi hisses to him as they walk home, groceries in hand.

 

Touya nudges her with an elbow, careful not to dislodge either of their payloads. “No, but even you have to admit that finding a way out of the house would be better.”

 

“There are so many ways this can go wrong,” Fuyumi moans into the eggs.

 

“Nothing you’re saying is telling me you don’t want out of that house, Fuyu.”

 

“...I just. I want us to be a normal family, Touya, is that really so much to ask?” Fuyumi mumbles into her bags.

His baby sister, ever the optimist. Too kind for her own good, Touya thinks.

 

“Some things can’t be forgiven, Fuyumi,” he says gently. “Nothing about what he did to Mom or us is okay, especially not what he does to Shouto. And I’m not gonna let you guys live under that roof anymore if I can help it.”

 

“You’re fifteen, Touya, and he’s the Number Two Pro Hero! What can you do against that?” Fuyumi splutters.

 

Touya shrugs. “I know people who’d be willing to help. And god knows that there’s some lawyer out there ready to sue the shit out of the old man.”

 

The front door looms over them as their legs begin to slow. Fuyumi still looks anxious, and Touya wonders if he should’ve made sure Fuyumi was having a good day before springing this on her.

 

“Fuyumi,” Touya says softly. “You don’t have to join me, but I want you to. Let me protect you from him.”

 

Fuyumi looks miserable as she nods. “I know you’ll try, Touya, but I just… I don’t want to get my hopes up.”

 

Touya unlocks the door, feeling victorious. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll make sure we all get out of here.”

 


 

Touya doesn’t talk to Shouto about leaving. He already knows what kind of answer he’ll get.

 


 

The old man hasn’t given a shit about where Touya goes ever since Shouto’s quirk came along, so long as Touya isn’t, you know, arrested or anything else that could drag the old man’s name in the mud.

 

He doesn’t even look at the credit card bills, or else Touya probably would have been charred for buying the guitar that now sits in his lap as he busks in the park.

 

He usually makes a pretty penny in a weekend, and it all goes into a bank account Mother opened for him two years back.

 

He thinks back and wonders if she was preparing to run herself. There’s no other reason that can explain why he and his siblings have bank accounts they can access, nor why Mother seemed to be quietly moving money into those accounts. It’s not enough to live off of, once things like rent and utilities are considered, but it’s a damn good start and best of all, the old man’s name isn’t anywhere on the accounts, and from what he can tell, the old man hasn’t seized her accounts since the bank statements still list her name alongside his.

 

Once home, he sneaks his way into Mother’s office. It had been a gift to the aspiring writer when they’d gotten married, and Touya knows that she had hundreds of hiding spots hidden in the room that the old man didn’t know about.

 

Most of the hiding spots are filled with cash, which Touya makes a note to squirrel away in the bank as soon as possible, or maybe give to Fuyumi so she has some money on hand as well. The real prize though, is the list of lawyers who are apparently willing to review contracts and ensure that the contract has no loopholes for others to exploit so long as they get paid.

 

Touya grins. He can work with this. He can really work with this. He shoves the list into his pocket and makes a mental note to look them up later.

 

First, he has a contract to write.

 


 

Todoroki Touya is not known for his stellar grades, but that’s more because he could care less about his teachers than any actual failure to learn or understand. More importantly, he knows exactly how slippery his old man can get, and what matters most to him.

 

Todoroki Enji can be counted on to put one thing above all else: his ambition to become the Number One Hero. After all, the man decided that if he couldn’t beat All Might after years of trying, then his offspring should to do it for him.

 

To that end, Touya knows that the trickiest part will be getting Shouto out of the home and away from the man. The bank accounts he and his siblings have mean they’re well off for the first couple of months if they did nothing else, but Touya doesn’t like high school anyway, and can make better money with his guitar and doing odd jobs than sitting through schooling that he could technically afford to do online.

 

The contract he ends up drafting covers as many loopholes as he could think of, and includes loopholes of his own to ensure that Shouto comes with him. Sure, the language he uses disgusts him to use, Shouto is not a “masterpiece” goddamn it, but unless the old man wants to explain what exactly the masterpiece is, Touya’s got him by the balls.

 

It helps that some of those hiding spots have photos of the various bruises they used to gain from training, the ones that were too obvious to explain away.

 

Touya could just tell the authorities, but years of being known as Endeavor’s son has taught him that the media is fickle and the authorities corrupt. His various classmates and their bragging about how their parents get away with under the table deals doesn’t help either.

 

No, what will work at this moment is blackmail, plain and simple.

 

Touya types up his handwritten draft on the crappy laptop he bought for a couple thousand yen and prints it out in Mother’s office. The printer is wiped clean, reset to factory standards and then back to his mother’s preferences. Once that’s done, he brings the laptop and handwritten notes to a dump and burns them both. With all of his evidence destroyed, Touya makes his way to the office of the most discrete lawyer from the list his mother wrote up.

 

The train ride isn’t long and, before he knows it, Touya is in downtown Shizuoka. He follows the hastily scribbled directions to a nondescript building and walks in.

 

The receptionist at the desk looks up at him. “Good afternoon. How may I assist you?”

 

For this meeting, Touya is in his nicer clothes, the ones he kept on hand because Mother loved seeing him looking smart. His dyed hair was retouched for today and styled to look neater than its usually messy spikes. He doesn’t look anything like the delinquent the old man or his schoolmates expect, and that can only work in his favor.

 

“Good afternoon. I’m Yukimura David. I have scheduled a one-o’clock afternoon appointment with Ikazuchi-sensei.”

 

It’s not the most original of pseudonyms, using his mother’s maiden name and a foreign name similar to the pronunciation of his quirk, but Touya knows how to play a part and the awkward, foreign teenager is all to easy after one too many afternoons people watching in Shizuoka.

 

The receptionist checks the schedule on his computer. “Everything seems to be in order. Please follow me.” He walks Touya to the office and enters the room to alert the lawyer of his presence.

 

The receptionist bows as he leaves the office. “Ikazuchi-san is ready for you.”

 

Touya bows in response. “Thank you.”

 

The office is plain, subdued. Everything is in neutral colors, from the beige walls to the grey carpet. A few certificates line the walls, along with a bookshelf but Touya cares more about the person behind the desk.

 

“Ikazuchi-sensei,” Touya begins. “Thank you for having me on such short notice.”

 

Touya did his homework. Ikazuchi Masaki was a family lawyer, and some heavy digging resulted in notes on cases in which Ikazuchi defended abuse victims from their abusers and managed to fight for the exclusion of the abuser from their lives. Many of her clients came to her under pseudonyms, their names never revealed to the public.

 

Touya wanted that.

 

Ikazuchi-sensei nods. “You are welcome. How may I assist you?”

 

“I know someone who is a bit of a bad situation,” Touya starts. Ikazuchi-sense’s face doesn’t change, but Touya felt the air shift, humming with energy. It felt like he was in the middle of thunderstorm.

 

Touya remembers, briefly, that Ikazuchi-sensei is known to have a minor quirk that allows her to manipulate thunder, and what else is thunder but shockwaves caused after a lightning strike?

 

He steels himself, because the energy doesn’t seem threatening, just heavy. “The man currently in charge of her care has been abusive, but is also influential enough that she fears that reporting her situation to the authorities would be hushed up. To that end, she asked me to write her a contract she could give to her abuser such that the abuser would be forced to leave her and her loved ones alone. I would be most appreciative if you would look over this draft and tell me if I have covered every loophole.”

 

Touya pulls out the contract he’d drafted and slides it across the desk. “You are well known for reviewing these types of documents without making a fuss or alerting authorities without the client’s permission, and I came to you under the hope that you would help me get her out of that household with no questions.”

 

Ikazuchi-sensei purses her lips, but takes the document. “I am well known for my client confidentiality, yes. I would also prefer that the client herself come to me.”

 

Touya feels dread crawling up his spine. Mother is in the hospital, and the old man controls the visitor’s list. He needs this to work.

 

“But given the apparent circumstances, I will work with what I’ve got,” Ikazuchi-sensei finishes. She pulls out a pen and legal notepad. “Tell me what you were thinking as you wrote these conditions and clauses. It’s best if you are as forthcoming as possible.”

 

The next five hours are spent discussing the contract Touya wrote. His brain hurts thinking about it, and while Touya has to admit far more than he felt comfortable sharing, they manage to get as close to a perfect document as they could.

 

He eventually admits that at least one of the children might require emancipation, in case the client is not capable of keeping the children.

 

Ikazuchi-sensei brings up a good point that Family Services will be harder on an emancipated minor who also has guardianship of their siblings, but Touya is adamant that the minor in question will be able to handle it. Either way, the emancipated minor clause gets written in.

 

If Ikazuchi-sensei slips Touya a list of cheap but serviceable apartment buildings with a connection to the local community programs, well, Touya isn’t telling.

 

At some point, Ikazuchi-sensei levels him a glare and says, “Yukimura-san. You’ve hired me to be your attorney, and that means that we do have a thing called attorney-client privilege. It means that anything you tell me that you do not want to be known cannot be shared with anyone else. You could admit to murder, and I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone without ruining my own reputation and losing my license.”

 

Touya, for all that he a paranoid teen who has trust issues, does believe that Ikazuchi-sensei would not risk her job. He tells her a few more truths, like his real name and the truth about his old man.

 

If he thought Ikazuchi-sensei was terrifying before he got the particulars, that was nothing compared to how terrified he is now that she knows more of the truth. But honestly, he finds a small measure of comfort in her shark-like grin and her comment of, “Oh, taking him and his legal team down will be fun .”

 

The contract hinges on how desperate the old man will be to cover up his abuse and how much he regards his children as worthless beyond their use to keep his reputation looking good. Touya has photographic proof of injuries on all of the children involved. Some of the the photos depict bruises on too young bodies, the size of an adult male’s fist, but a majority of them are general bruises from hitting the floor too many times. Touya’s paranoia meant he didn’t bring the damning photographs of burns the size and shapes of an adult male’s fist, but that’s probably a good thing for now.

 

More than one newspaper would love this kind of dirt on the Number Two Pro Hero, and Ikazuchi-sensei apparently knows enough people willing to work with Touya if needed.

 

It also helps that Touya isn’t asking the old man for money either. Touya is ready and willing to work as many jobs as possible to support his siblings, though the bank accounts they all have mean it’s not imperative at the onset.

 

Touya is sure that the old man would be willing to let his three “failure” children live away from him under the guise of “keeping them safe.” He probably won’t even need to use the photographic evidence to get him to sign.

 

The trickiest part, though, is the Masterpiece references in the fine print. The very tiny fine print. He didn’t think people actually did that anymore, just used it as a reference, but no, it was real.

 

Ikazuchi-sensei is apocalyptic when she heard a little more about who the Masterpiece is. Touya supplies no reasoning, it isn’t any of her business, and even she agrees that it’s likely best if he did not tell her more, for the sake of her office and his own safety, if nothing else, thanks to the low rumbling of the surrounding air.

 

The Masterpiece clauses are probably the tightest section of the entire contract. In exchange for not giving any media outlet proof of the decade and a half of abuse the old man inflicted on his wife and family, Shouto would be placed in Touya’s care. The old man wouldn’t be allowed to touch, talk, or approach Shouto without Shouto’s prior permission and at least two neutral adults in the room.

 

Touya makes his way home after the meeting completely drained, but with a legally binding contract ready for when he’s prepared everything else necessary to get out of the old man’s thumb. He also comes out of it with emancipation forms, a list of apartments, news stations, and assistance programs.

 

The golden goose of the lot is definitely Ikazuchi-sensei’s continued, pro bono, legal counsel for as long as it takes for Touya to escape with his siblings.

 

He has the means, now he has to set everything up.

 


 

There is no point to escaping if there’s nowhere to escape to .

 

To that end, Touya starts looking around at neighborhoods. He immediately discards anything in a too pricey neighborhood. He then nixes anything too close to the old man’s place, but also too far from his siblings’ current school, on the off chance that Touya manages to get them out before the school year ends.

 

On top of that, Touya still has his own classes to take, so time he used to spend busking on the streets is now spent looking at neighborhoods.

 

Two weeks into his search, Touya thinks he’s found the perfect place. It’s a tiny neighborhood on the other side of the city, much less opulent than the old man’s place, but more comforting for it. No one would expect him and siblings to live here, and even better, there are apartments from Ikazuchi-sensei’s list in this neighborhood.

 

Now that he has a location, it’s time to get the paperwork rolling.

 


 

“What do you want.” The old man says brusquely. His eyes don’t leave the paperwork on his desk.

 

Touya sneers internally. He can’t even dignify his oldest son with some attention. “We both know that you think I’m a disappointment and that we’re never going to get along. To that end, I know for a fact that I could be emancipated and no one would give two shits.”

 

The old man looks up. “And what makes you think that I would agree to that?” He’s not lit himself on fire yet, so Touya figures that the old man must at least be in a humoring mood.

 

“It’d get me out of your hair, for one. It’d be one less stain to your reputation, wouldn’t it?” Touya picks at his fingernails as he says it, keeping his tone light and unaffected.

 

The old man nods, thoughtful. “And I suppose you’ve done your research if you’re telling me this now.”

 

Touya nods, pulling out the emancipation application. “Emancipation would go much faster if a parent was the one who filed for it, and if your connections can’t speed it up even more then I’d be disappointed in both of us.”

 

The old man reaches for the papers and almost grabs them before stopping. “Don’t expect me to be paying for you.”

 

Touya snorts. “Please. You and I both know that I don’t want your shitty money anyway.”

 

The papers leave Touya’s hands as the old man lets out a cruel, amused smile. “Fine. We’ll see how long that lasts. I’ll get back to you with the papers once I’m done.”

 

The old man’s eyebrows furrow when Touya doesn’t move after the clear dismissal.

 

“I want to tell Mother myself.” Touya says as the silence stretches out.

 

The old man smiles, bitterly satisfied. Likely, he wanted to tell Mother himself, the ass. “Fine, I’ll let the hospital know to expect you.”

 


 

Access to Mother is limited, between his own dwindling free time, her various appointments with therapists, and the old man’s ability to revoke access if Touya manages to piss him off too much.

 

Fuyumi comes as often as she can, though that isn’t saying much considering the shoes she needs to fill, and Natsuo and Shouto haven’t stepped foot in the building, let alone Mother’s room.

 

Today is a good day, the nurses tell him as he walks into the room. Touya hates the bland colors of the walls, of the bed. The lack of personal touches makes Touya feel like he’s in a nicely furnished cell, and not a room in which Mother has lived for nearly four months now.

 

Touya does appreciate Mother’s smile when he walks in though. It’s remarkably light, though he willfully ignores her glances at his arms and his neck, looking for burns that used to reside there as an aftereffect of his Quirk and the old man’s training.

 

“Hello Mother.” Touya sinks into her open arms the way he was rarely allowed to as a child, the way he avoided as he got older, for her sake and the sake of his siblings, who needed her more.

 

“Touya, how are you? How are your siblings?” Mother’s voice is warm, soft, the way that Touya remembers in the best of his memories.

 

“I’ve been well. So have the brats.” Touya chuckles as he took a seat next to Mother’s bed.

 

“And,,,,, Him?” she asks, hunched in on herself and voice small.

 

Touya burns to see his mother wilt so easily. “He’s left most of us alone. Shouto is still… Yeah. But me and Fuyumi have been making sure he gets taken care of afterwards, and Natsuo takes him out to play when the old man’s gone and the sitter is distracted.”

 

Mother smiles, faintly. “Thank you for looking out for them.” Floating in the air between them is the heavy unspoken thought of ‘since I cannot.’

 

It’s now or never. “Speaking of looking out for them… I may have come here for another reason.” Touya passes the paperwork to Mother, waiting for any reaction.

 

He didn’t have to wait long.

 

“Is He kicking you out!?” Mother asks, furious.

 

Touya blinks. “No. I came up with the idea.”

 

“Why?” Her gimlet stare briefly brings Touya back to his childhood, back when all he had to worry about was whether or not he stole cookies from the jar.

 

“With the way we’ve agreed to it, once I’m emancipated the old man can wash his hands off me. And that means I can move out, make a home somewhere far from him.” Touya says, gesticulating wildly.

 

Mother nods, expression pensive.

 

“And once I have a home, I can take them with me. ” Touya finishes, satisfied.

 

Mother gasps, one hand to her mouth, the other clenching her blanket in excitement. “How? He would never go along with it.”

 

“I found your list of lawyers,” Touya admits, slouching in his chair. “Ikazuchi-sensei is very willing to help me out, and she’s sworn herself to secrecy. We’re both pretty sure that the old man will go along with it, if only for his reputation and the fact that he can’t afford to be caught in this type of scandal.”

 

Mother takes his face in her hands. “Be careful, Touya. God knows I will help however I can, but please, be careful.”

 

“I promise,” he whispers, nuzzling a cool hand with his cheek.

 

When they finally pull away, Mother has a smile on her face. “Tell me more about your plans, Touya.”

 

The rest of the visit is spent going over the paperwork, Ikazuchi-sensei’s plans, and his own thoughts.

 

He has his mother’s blessing, a location picked out, and his paperwork ready.

 

Now it’s time to see how far the old man’s reach can stretch.

 


 

It turns out the old man’s reach can go quite far. What usually takes four to six months ends up taking one. If Touya weren’t so disgusted by the fact that it only took one month thanks to the old man’s money/reputation, he’d be impressed by the fact that it only took one month.

 

By prior agreement, Touya has three months to find a new place to live or be kicked out.

 

The first thing Touya does do after the paperwork is filed is show Mother the papers declaring him an independent. If the both of them shed tears, well, that’s no one else’s business but theirs.

 

After that, it’s signing up for online education for next term and the years after that. He has one term and two years left, that should be easy to do. Ikazuchi-sensei had given him a list of good online education programs, and signing up for one was easy.

 

The next thing he does is go back to the neighborhood in Musutafu and apply for housing and a job, even if it’s part time. Anything to make himself more financially independent would be amazing.

 

Luckily, the library near his preferred neighborhood is hiring, and the head librarian, Houjou Mitsue, is willing to keep him there as long as his grades are good.

 

(If he heavily implies that he needs to job to escape a dangerous situation that can’t go the the police, well, it’s true . The fact that sympathy gets him a job can only be a plus. Even if he does have to deal with well meaning, overbearing coworkers. Houjou-san in particular looks speculative as he speaks of renting an apartment nearby. Touya almost doesn't want to know what she's thinking.)

 

Then he talks to the landlady who owns the building he’s looking into. Takeshiro Nozomi asks few questions besides those required to lease an apartment. Apparently, she and Ikazuchi-sensei are friends, because she’s been waiting for him, and the rent he would have to pay for the 2LDK apartment is much lower than he was expecting, even for the neighborhood.

 

When Touya asks, Takeshiro-san just says, “Kid, I have money to spare. Lowering the rent won’t kill me. And both Masaki and Mitsue are vouching for you. So long as you and your siblings don’t disturb the other tenants, I see no reason to lower the rent a little the first couple of years until you have a nice, steady income that can handle taking care of you and your siblings.”

 

As it is, Touya is on the short list of people with the money to pay both the security deposit and the next six month’s worth of rent and utilities upfront. If he gets the library job, and continues busking, he should be able to save some money every month, even if it’s just a pittance.

 

The apartment will require furnishing, but that’s fine. Touya doesn’t need anything besides futons and drawers for the bedroom, and the secondhand shop usually has good kitchen supplies. Even his siblings, once they move in, won’t require much else, though if they want more Touya is willing to pay for it.

 


 

By the end of the year, Touya has done enough double shifts at the library and busking to afford all the basic furniture needed for the apartment, as well as the various kitchen supplies he thinks he’ll need when feeding two growing teens and two children.

 

He almost dipped into his emergency fund to buy everything he needed, when packages started appearing for him.

 

One package was high quality cookware, and the billing information told him that they were paid for by Houjou-san, who has become a sort of big sister/aunt after a few shifts at the library.

 

Another is a delivery of futons, high quality and with extra foam padding to ensure that sleeping on the hardwood floors wouldn't be painful. There is no name, but Touya thinks he knows by the dumb little storm-cloud scrawled on the card that comes with it.

 

The last is a freaking... television from Takeshiro-san. It's not the most expensive, but it's much better than anything Touya would have paid for.

 

Touya wants to return them, to refuse the gifts because his pride demands it, but for his siblings, for the comfort these items could provide them, Touya only gives each woman a heartfelt thanks the next time he sees them and his vehement protests that they did not have to do it.

 

"I don't need charity!" Touya protests.

 

"We wanted to," Ikazuchi-sensei says bluntly when he tries to tell her they shouldn't have. "We do this often, with all of the abused clients who make their way to Musutafu and end up in Nozomi's apartments. Granted, Mitsue doesn't usually get involved, but you're her employee and we care too much to let something like not being able to afford decent supplies screw over your attempt at independence."

 

"Isn't this favoritism or emotionally compromising or whatever?" Touya asks in a last ditch effort to convince Ikazuchi-sensei to take them back.

 

"Maybe, but we don't care. Nozomi is well known for doing things like this for her tenants, and I owe her a favor for buying the futons for me. There's no paper or electronic trail that says I was involved, so unless they get someone with a lie detector quirk who asks the right questions, no will be finding out I was involved any time soon. You can't give them back," she tells him. "If you want to pay us back, do your best with work, school, and taking care of your siblings. It's going to be hard, but it will be doable."

 

With a growl, Touya leaves that meeting with all of the gifts as a permanent fixture in his apartment.

 

The money he was going to spend on the television and bedding and kitchen supplies goes to better furniture, a desk, and a home computer.

 

In the end, as he looks around his apartment, Touya can’t regret a thing.

 

Touya has the apartment, the job, and the freedom. Now all he needs to do is to get everyone else out.

Chapter Text

Todoroki Shouto is five-almost-six, and he hates.

 

He hates the sound of a kettle boiling. He hates the scar that mars his face—The left side of his face.

 

He hates his left side, the side that looks like Father. He hates that his left side made Mom not love him anymore. He hates the fire from the left side that only brings the people he loves to despair.

 

He hates that because of his “perfect” quirk, he has to train, day in and day out. He hates that he can’t be like his siblings, playing in the yard and being carefree.

 

He hates that all he knows of his siblings are what he can spy from out the window and the tiny, rare moments they can come to his aid.

 

The only good thing in his life now that Mom is gone is the fact that his siblings are starting to interact with him more. Part of him is bitter that it took Mom leaving for them to disobey Father, but more of him is just glad he’s not alone in the aftermath. It’s a little awkward, because Shouto has never played the games he now participates in, and they can only do it when Father isn’t home to yell at them, but it’s fun.

 

He loves Natsuo, who sneaks him candy and plays games with him. Natsuo is loud, even when he’s trying to be quiet, and his energy can be both infectious and overwhelming to the mostly-isolated five year old.

 


 

“I hate him, you know,” Natsuo told him once, when Father was away and the babysitter engrossed in the television. They’d snuck into the backyard and Natsu-nii showed him how to play ball. Shouto had never been able to do that before, too afraid to ask if he could play, his siblings too wary of Father’s temper or the babysitter telling on them.

 

Shouto dropped the ball, but Natsuo didn’t yell at him, just kept talking.

 

“I hate him for what he does to you, what he did to Mama. I hate that he ignores the rest of us unless he wants to yell at us. I hate that he kept you away from us, Shou-Shou.” Natsuo kicked at the gravel, dust clouds forming in his wake.

 

“Why didn’t you come find me, Natsu-nii?” Shouto asked before he can think better of it.

 

Flinching, Natsuo’s right hand travelled to his left shoulder, as if remembering a phantom pain.

 

Shouto froze, and didn’t ask again.

 

“I hate him ,” Natsuo said, voice cracking.

 

Shouto didn’t know what to do. Touching people felt dangerous, after Mom and Father. But Natsuo was all enthusiasm and cheer where Mom was sad and quiet and Father was loud and demanding. Natsuo was Mom’s hair and eyes and his own unique Quirklessness and that beat out Father’s jaw. Natsu’s anger was never harmful, not the way Shouto expected.

 

Shouto carefully reached for Natsuo, letting his brother see his approach, and was gratified when Natsuo reached back, wrapping him in a hug that was almost as cool as any Shouto had shared with Mom.

 

He wasn’t sure he was doing this correctly, he and Natsuo were still basically strangers to each other, but Shouto didn’t want to see him cry.

 

Tears stung Shouto’s eyes too. It wasn’t fair! It wasn’t fair that Natsuo and Fuyumi and Touya got to stay out of Father’s way while Father “trained” him. He didn’t want to be Father’s “masterpiece,” he wanted to be Mom’s baby boy, Fuyumi, Natsuo and Touya’s youngest brother.

 

He wanted to be a normal kid.

 

“I-I just,” Shouto started tearily. “I just wanna be with you and Mom and Fuyu-nee and Tou-nii!!!” He gripped Natsuo’s middle tighter as he buried his wet eyes into Natsuo’s shirt. “I don’t wanna train with Father! I wanna play ball and have candy and be normal.”

 

Natsuo’s arms tightened around him. “I want that too.”

 

They were both silent criers, something they had to pick up in order to avoid more punishments. When the tears stopped, they let go, feeling awkward and out of place.

 

“Hey,” Natsuo said. “You wanna see if Kaito-san is asleep? I bet we could get Fuyu-nee to let us watch All Might videos if he is.”

 

Shouto perked up at the mention of his favorite hero. “Can we please?”

 

Natsuo grinned at him. “Yeah! But, we gotta be super sneaky and quiet. Like an underground hero! Because they get in trouble if they get caught, yeah?”

 

Shouto nodded, and they ran off, Shouto’s quiet giggles and Natsuo’s muffled guffaws echoing in the yard.

 


 

Shouto loves Fuyumi, who does all the cooking and helps Shouto with his homework. Fuyumi is very jumpy, very quiet, but Shouto knows Fuyumi is awesome. She gets that Shouto sometimes becomes overwhelmed by all the freedom, all the things he originally missed out on. She’ll pull him aside until he can relax, and he loves her for not making a big deal out of it.

 


 

“Fuyu-nee? Do you hate Father?” Shouto had asked one night, curled up in Fuyumi’s arms as her ice cold hands soothed his still healing burns.

 

“Can you keep a secret, Shouto?” she’d asked him in return. When he nodded she whispered, “I’m too afraid of him to hate him, Shouto. I’m too afraid of him to do anything but what he tells me to do.” Tears dripped down her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

 

Shouto shook his head. “It’s okay. I understand.”

 

Fuyumi pushed him away, and Shouto felt a split second of fear before he noticed the tears in her eyes. “It’s not okay! I’m your big sister, I’m supposed to protect you! I’m just too weak.”

 

Shouto shook his head. “No, you’re wrong! Fuyu-nee is amazing! She makes me food and helps me with homework and she’s always here after training is done to help me make everything hurt less!!!”

 

Shouto grabbed Fuyumi’s hands, “Just because you’re scared of Father doesn’t make you weak. Father’s scary. He’s a meanie. But Fuyu-nee comes even though she can get into trouble and that’s brave of her. Fuyu-nee makes me miss Mom less, because Fuyu-nee is nice and kind, just like Mom.”

 

Shouto wasn’t sure if Fuyumi was happy with what he said or not. She’d been frozen since she grabbed him. He wondered if he did the right thing.

 

Suddenly he was engulfed in a hug. Shouto twitched, but this was Fuyumi, who looked just like Mom except for the red streaks in her hair and her glasses. “Thank you,” he heard. He relaxed. Fuyumi wouldn’t hurt him.

 

‘That’s what you thought about Mom too,’ a voice whispered in Shouto’s mind. He ignored it and let himself enjoy the hug.

 

Looking up, he saw that Fuyumi was crying. “I’m a terrible older sister and I’m always afraid of Father but I swear I’ll help you, okay? You’re not, you’re not alone, Shouto, and I’m sorry if you ever felt like you were, because I love you. Touya loves you. Natsuo loves you. Mom loves you.”

 

Shouto interrupted, “How can Mom love me when she did this to me?” He gestured to his scar.

 

Fuyumi sighed, reaching out for him. “Oh Shouto…”

 

He deliberately moved so that her hands caught his cheek instead of his scar.

 

“Mom wasn’t well, Shouto. You know she didn’t mean it.”

 

“I know,” Shouto found himself saying. “I don’t blame Mom. I blame Father. But I’m still scared.”

 

“Scared of what?” Fuyumi asked him.

 

“I’m afraid Mom hates me.”

 

“We could go see her if you want,” Fuyumi suggested.

 

“No!” Shouto near shouted. He held his breath, praying that no one ( Father ) would come and see why he almost yelled. A few moments of silence passed, and when no one came to check up on him, Shouto continued. “No, I’m scared that she’ll see me and only see Father. That’s why…. That’s why I wanna be a hero without his fire.”

 

Fuyumi looked at him. She opened her mouth, but closed it after a moment. “If that’s what you want.”

 

Shouto was glad she didn’t question him about it. They spent the rest of the night in silence until Fuyumi laid a kiss on his forehead and left for her own bed.

 


 

Shouto loves Touya. Even before Mom went away, Touya was around to help him. He would sneak into his room and read him a story or bandage a burn or a bruise when Mom was busy with all the other house stuff or something Father wanted done. Touya understands the training, what it does to a person. He understands how much of a normal childhood Shouto is missing, and he doesn’t pity him or hate him or is jealous of the attention he gets from Father.

 


 

“Tou-nii, you shouldn’t be here!” Shouto cried.

 

Touya scoffed, kneeling down and gently brushing some hair out of Shouto’s face. “You’re a million years too early to tell me what to do, Shou-Shou. Where’d he bruise you this time?”

 

“My arms. And my tummy,” Shouto mumbled. Touya didn’t need to know about the large bruise on his back. He didn’t have enough salve or bandages for all of them anyway.

 

Touya inspected aforementioned limbs, frowning. He muttered something under his breath that Shouto couldn’t make out, but would assume was the bad language Mom used to tell him to never repeat, even if it came out of Father’s mouth.

 

Touya’s hands were warm. It was a nice warm that made him feel like he could sink into a nap. A faint memory of a park, of sunlight dancing through the treetops and onto his skin, ran through his mind. However the chill of the applied salve struck him as Touya’s hands moved to his stomach.

 

“Sorry, Shouto. I know it hurts,” Touya said softly as he continued to apply the salve.

 

Everything about Touya was soft and warm, now. It’s such a difference compared to Father that Shouto sometimes wondered if fire is really all that bad, if Touya can be gentle and warm like this.

 

But then Shouto remembered Mom and “His left side is unsightly to me,” and the bruises ached a little more.

 

“Shouto, what is this,” Touya said, tone flat. His fingers brushed against the large bruise on Shouto’s back as the smaller boy let out a hiss of pain.

 

“He said I didn’t dodge right,” Shouto mumbled into his arms.

 

“The old man has never known the meaning of the words holding back,” Touya muttered under his breath.

 

Oh, Shouto remembered. Touya used to be trained like he was too. Sometimes, he forgot, until Touya said something or Father made a comment about his “failure” of a son.

 

Touya didn’t say anything after that, applying as much salve as he could and wrapping the bruised limbs in compression tape.

 

Once finished, Touya carefully pulled Shouto into a side hug, warm limbs reducing the ache of Shouto’s muscles. “One day,” Touya said. “One day we’ll get out of here, all four of us, and we’ll see Mother and the old man won’t be able to get to us. And if you really wanna learn how to use your fire, I’ll do it and I’ll never treat you like he does.”

 

Shouto looked up at him. “Do you promise?”

 

“I swear,” Touya said back, eyes glinting.

 


 

Touya is up to something. This is nothing new, to be honest, because Touya always looks like he’s up to something, especially if it will make Father angry. However, Shouto notices that this is the first time he’s ever seen Touya be up to something and dress up for it. By his own admission, Touya hates “those damn monkey suits. Gimme a pair of jeans a t-shirt any day.”

 

Shouto trusts Touya, or at least, trusts Touya enough to believe that Touya would tell him if he were going to leave. Not that he’d blame Touya for running away on his own and without telling anyone.

 

God knows if he could, he would.

 

As it is, Shouto survives every training session, deflects questions about his bruises when teachers ask, and occasionally allows Fuyumi or Touya to take care of his injuries.

 

The best thing he can do for Touya is to pretend that Touya’s not doing anything out of the ordinary. Still though, Shouto hopes he finds out what is going on soon.

 

Even if finding out what’s going on only results in an empty room.

 


 

Shouto finally finds out what’s going on just days before his sixth birthday.

 

He’s been hearing Touya and Father arguing for the past week, and Shouto is concerned that this may be it, the moment where Touya leaves and never comes back. Or worse, Father turns on Touya the way Mom did him. Shouto goes to bed exhausted and anxious, fearing that the next time he sees his eldest brother, he too will have scars upon his face.

 

Instead, he wakes up with a silent shout, a hand upon his left shoulder and his quirk flaring up.

 

Shouto shuts down his quirk the minute he realizes it’s activated. The hand retracts, and Shouto breathes a sigh of relief when it does so and the only thing he smells is burnt cotton, and not burnt flesh.

 

He looks at the intruder and relaxes when it turns out to be Touya, fully dressed and a bag hoisted over one shoulder.

 

“Get dressed,” Touya whispers. “Grab everything you think you need and make sure it fits in your backpack, okay? Include a couple changes of clothes. Make sure you put on a jacket, it’s windy.”

 

Shouto nods in the moonlight. “Okay.” He scrambles out of his futon and heads for his drawers, pulling out a pair of pants and a sweater. He pulls them over his pajamas, too tired to think about changing out of the warm cotton. He grabs the All Might t-shirts Fuyumi and Touya bought him but that he never got to wear and dumps them in the new black backpack Touya got for him. Following those shirts are jeans and socks. Squished to the side are an All Might plush that never sees the light of day and several rolls of money that Father called allowance, but he never had to spend. A small picture book, one Mom used to read to him, follows suit. His favorite blanket, gray and white like Mom, is the last thing to be shoved into the bag, filling it to the brim.

 

It’s a little heavy and unbalanced for Shouto to carry in his arms, so Touya grabs it from him. “Come on,” Touya says lowly. “We’re gonna meet Fuyu and Natsu in the entry hall, but stay quiet, okay?”

 

The mansion is quiet and spooky as they traverse the hallways. They both know exactly which floorboards will creak, which tatami mat is in need of repair. They avoid the windows for shadowed halls, especially with how Shouto’s hair glows in the moonlight.

 

Shouto almost wants to ask what’s going on, but Touya asked him to stay quiet. That doesn’t stop his nerves from twitching, the lump forming in his throat, the little flutter in his heart that whispers of hope .

 

They enter the entry hall to find Fuyumi and Natsuo by the door, dressed and holding bags of their own, shoes already placed on their feet. His head tilts. “Tou-nii, where are we going?” Shouto asks.

 

“Away from here, Shouto. But you gotta be quiet, okay?” Touya tells him. He places Shouto’s sneakers in front of him and drops his backpack next to them.

 

Shouto nods vigorously, shoving his feet into his sneakers and grabbing the bag. The little flutter in his heart is stronger now, fear and hope and gratitude fighting each other in his chest.

 

Touya is getting them out.

 

Father will kill Touya if he finds them.

 

Touya isn’t leaving him behind.

 

He’s going to be free .

 

They will get to be a real family.

 

He wishes Mom got to be free too.

 

“Alright you guys, we gotta be super quiet. Follow me.” Touya ushers Fuyumi and Natsuo out of the door and Shouto follows, tasting freedom on his tongue for the first time in five years.