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Forgive or Forget

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It’s the kind of night where it seems as if the masses of the seedy underground of the city shared a single, collective thought, the overindulgence of their vices. Drug dealers, drug abusers, addicts, murderers, and so forth. The dirty, vile, wretched garbage of a society that lauded the men and women who called themselves heroes as new Gods and Goddesses, were his only company nowadays – he is sixteen, too young to be out so late and alone, dressed in dark clothes far too big for his skinny frame, his skin an unhealthy pallor that clashed with the burned flesh, stapled together in an attempt to look normal, human, put-together, his hair was once a deep red, now it’s dyed black, his eyes are ghostly blue, he has a name but it’s one he no longer answers by, giving it up when he awoke cold and alone, disoriented and aching. He has, had, a family, a family that lived in the property across the street from where he stands, a large, traditional Japanese styled house, a house filled with secrets and poisonous ambitions, and it’s tonight that he has returned in the dead of night to rid the world of a false hero, a man undeserving of the title but the world loved anyway. Maybe it was a bit ambitious, to attack some odd days after his injuries have healed, but revenge is all he could think of, to the point it drove him mad, pain being the only thing to bring him back down.

Creeping onto the property, it’s almost surreal for him to be walking through the stone gardens, a place he’d either train on his own, or play with his brother and sister when he was tossed aside for their father’s greatest masterpiece, their baby brother.  A child who was perfectly half and half, as if someone had pieced two different halves together, a child who yearned for an affection that could not be provided as he was brought into the world for power. A parasite. The one thing his father always told him as he was being trained to take over the spot of number one hero in the old man’s stead, was that his quirk was stronger than his own, and that it was wasted on him, but really, it isn’t his fault that he inherited his mother’s vulnerability to intense heat, it isn’t his fault that he was the product of their combined genes, it isn’t his fault his quirk burned him alive every single time he used it, it isn’t his fault his father tossed him aside the second his Masterpiece developed his quirk. It just isn’t. And there it is, the anger he concealed beneath a veneer of disinterest, if he thinks too much on it, he’ll go mad, and the only thing to bring him down is pain, the digging of the medical staples into his flesh as he wraps his hand around his wrist. It soothes him, comforts him even, because no matter how bad things get, the pain will always be there – before the sixteen year old can take another step towards his goal, he hears the stifled whimpering of someone attempting to smother their tears, and it’s a sad insight into his childhood when his immediate thought is of his mother and the countless times he’s seen her cry when she thought she was alone, but the memories are dismissed when he remembers that she had been sent away to some hospital after hurting the Masterpiece, so that means those cries could only belong to the only other person left in their father’s path.

Interested in the sound of misery, wanting to see his replacement crying, he switches directions and starts to follow the choked sobs, until he finds himself in a part of the house he’s never really been in all that much, and in front of a door he’s never seen beyond. Their father had made sure to keep the older three children separate from his Masterpiece, designating their halves of the house, it was done out of some ridiculous reasoning that they would somehow contaminate their precious, baby brother with their worthlessness, ruining his chances at becoming the number one hero, the only time they ever saw him was at dinner. Reaching out now, he slides the door open, the rattling of it in its frame making the somber inhabitant hiccup from an attempt to choke down the sorrow – and there sits the Crown-Jewel itself, bruised, bandaged, and attempting to muffle his cries.

A part of him cruelly wonders if their father knows that his Masterpiece breaks down in the safety of night.

Taking a step into the child’s room, he sees the small silhouette tense up and start to move away from him, the moon outside providing enough light for him to see the look on the Masterpiece’s face, so he stops – the child has only ever seen him from a distance, neither boy shaving talked to one another for longer than a minute, or without the supervision of their father, not to mention the fact that his appearance has changed rather drastically since he’d left the household, no one having seen him the night Endeavor pushed too hard. It’s here that he’s given a choice though: he could ignore the sobbing, bruised child and continue on his way to satiate his desire for revenge, or he can take a different approach to his revenge plan. And as he thinks deeper on the choices before him, the more the latter starts to sound more appealing, because what would be better than taking their father’s prize-bull right from underneath the fucker’s nose? And in his own damn house too?

Feeling his lips twitch at the thought of the old man’s possible reactions, he trains his expression to look kind and reaches a hand out towards the child, hoping the disgust he feels doesn’t show, the boy attempts to move away from him once more, but must be in too much pain to move more than an inch since he winces and sucks in a sharp breath, his joints locking to keep from hurting himself further.

“Hey now,” he whispers, “It’s okay, Shouto.”

The boy stares with wide-eyes upon hearing his own name coming from him.

From such a strange face.

The older boy sweetens his smile, “Don’t you remember me, Shou?” he kneels so that he’s just about eye-level with the scared child quaking on the floor, “It’s me,” he fights to keep himself from sneering when he says the name he’s forsaken, “Touya, your big brother.”

The bi-color haired child blinks his large, cat-like eyes, while simultaneously searching his face, “T – Touya?”

Touya smiles softly, reaching with his other hand to touch the staples on his face, “I know I must look – scary, to you, different even, but this is what happens when father no longer has any use for you.” their eyes meet, “You know what it’s like to have father’s attention on you, I know what it’s like, I used to be in your place, and it’s terrible, isn’t it. Hurting every day, being judged for the smallest of mistakes, and being secluded from others.”

The little boy looks down to the ground, a look of intense thought on his face.

“I’m here to save you.”

Shouto’s gaze snaps back up to his face, “S – save me?”

Poor little thing, starving for affection, a look of hope sparking life back into his eyes – oh how easy it would be just to take that hope and crush it, to crush the child, the sadistic thought creates a sense of glee, but he keeps it hidden.

“Of course, you must know what the old man is doing isn’t right.” he can see the tension in Shouto’s shoulders start to leave, “I can take you away from this place, never to return, you’d be safe, no more pain, no more father.”

Shouto is so close to breaking, to giving in, “W – what about Fuyumi, and Natsuo?”

“They’ll be safe here.” assures the blue-eyed teen, “Father never – cared for them in the first place, to him, they were rejects who couldn’t quite make the cut. Not like you and I. You and I, we’re the same.”

The Masterpiece falls silent, looking pensive, and leave it to their father’s favorite treasure to take his sweet time, he’s never had much patience to begin with, but what little tolerance he did have is damn near nil when it came to the brat who’d been an upgrade from him in their father’s eyes, so he asks, silently prodding the child to answer:

“Do you want to end up like mom?”

It’s a dirty trick, but it gets him the result he wants.

Shouto jerks as if slapped, “N – no!”

Touya extends his arm further, just a few inches from Shouto’s face, “Then come with me, and I’ll keep you safe.”

The child gulps, heterochromatic eyes trained on Touya’s hand like it were a particularly dangerous snake looking to strike, but after another moment of hesitation, the boy takes the teenager’s hand. Moving closer, he scoops the child up and holds him close, grabbing the boy’s blanket to cover him up, hiding his obnoxious hair colors, trying not to concentrate too much on the way small hands grasp tighter onto his clothing, the feeling of the child’s hands on him making him cringe, his ire spiking irrationally, or not, he hated the kid, but he hated their father more. As he’s creeping back out the way he’d arrived, Touya can’t help but feel an immense sense of satisfaction, wishing he could see the look on the bastard’s face when he realized that his greatest creation was gone, taken in the dead of night, it would definitely knock the asshole down a peg, take away his sense of pride and security – keeping the blanket over Shouto’s small form as he walks through the streets, attracting attention from the unsavory characters of the night, he approaches his apartment building. It was hard to get a place when one was only sixteen and attempting to pass as someone older, fake I.Ds helped from time to time, but they only got him so far before questions were being asked, it was a good thing this particular place didn’t ask too much questions, like now, the manager merely glances at him from over the worn, wood desk, a brow arched in judgment as he passes by with a child-shaped bundle, their eyes meet, but the man goes back to reading whatever news tabloid he had in his hands. Taking the stairs, he walks up the concrete and steel steps until he makes it to his level, he heads to his door, a beat-up old thing, and proceeds to fight with the stupid thing’s sticky lock with one hand, the child in his arms having fallen asleep sometime during the trek, so he was no fucking help. But eventually, thank God, he unlocks the door and steps into his space, flicking on the light and illuminating the main part of the apartment, closing and locking the door, which is a hell of a lot easier than unlocking it,  he sets his keys on the small table next to the entrance, and makes his way through the small apartment, heading past the small kitchenette and down the small hallway, everything was just so damn small, and growing smaller thanks to the extra body, he opens the last door to the left of the hall, the room beyond it is his, he approaches his lumpy mattress and sets Endeavor’s prize down, resisting the urge to just toss him carelessly onto the bed, he steps back and stares at the child a moment longer, the reality of what he’d just done now sinking in and – what the fuck was he thinking? How the hell does one even take care of a child? How does one take care of a fucking child when one couldn’t even take care of their own damn self?!

There were so many things kids needed that he didn’t have, didn’t need.

Annoyed, he turns away from his precious, baby brother and returns to the living room where he throws himself down onto his creaky couch – definitely should have thought more about it, now he was saddled with a kid he didn’t even like. God, he was such a dumbass. Shutting his eyes in agitation, he somehow manages to fall asleep, only waking when the feeling of someone shaking his shoulder wakes him up. The light from the thin curtain has him shutting his eyes once more, he lifts an arm and covers his eyes, cursing the fact that his room faced east, and attempting to ignore the presence hovering at his side, as well as the feeling of someone staring at him. Another shake has him peering at the leech, said parasite is staring at him with those wide, honest, freaky eyes of his.

“Touya?”

The teenager resists the urge to flinch at that goddamn name.

Finally, he asks wearily, “’s wrong?”

“I’m hungry.”

That’s right, kids had to eat to grow or some shit.

Touya swallows the curse just at the tip of his tongue and pushes himself up, “Hold on, let me get ready.”

As he’s stretching his body out, vowing to never sleep on the couch again, he sees the way Shouto watches him, similar to that of a cat that just stares and stares, something like awe shining in those eyes, he fights the urge to sneer at the child and his face, feeling disgust churning in his gut, he didn’t want the kid’s affection. It’s then, that the dyed, black-haired boy realizes that someone was bound to recognize who the brat is with that unique, obnoxious, hair color of his, and who knew what Endeavor was going to do about his missing child, masterpiece, so better to be safe than sorry, he gestures for Shouto to follow.

“Come on,” he says, good thing he has some hair-dye left, “If I’m going to keep you safe, we have to change that appearance of yours.”

Shouto follows like a duckling, voice curious, “My appearance?”

They enter the cramped bathroom, cramped despite the lack of personal belongings, Touya reaches for the box of black-dye that had been sitting on the counter, he should get a contact similar to the shade of Shouto’s left eye, at least then people won’t think too hard on their relation to one another, the scar – there was really nothing he could do for that unless he wanted to give the kid an eye-patch, which would just raise questions rather than dismiss them.

oOo

Endeavor had done everything within his power to find his kidnapped son the second he learned of his treasure’s disappearance, he came close to finding them a couple of times the following days, not like the old man knew that and the idea of it just made Touya laugh. But that had been then, because now the hero had this far off look in his eyes, it was amusing at first because the man was obviously suffering, and what’s better than that? But the disappearance of Shouto seemed to take quite the toll on the man, far much more than he’d initially assumed, he now seemed more akin to a zombie shuffling through his days, the look of a parent who had lost their child, their youngest one at that, and this was something everyone seemed to pick up on. It earned him sympathy from the world, the people supporting him through his trying times, not knowing that it was because the man was such a bastard father that his treasure disappeared. All of it disgusted Touya, the bastard had never looked so defeated when he disappeared, or was burning alive from his own damn quirk, but apparently he wasn’t important enough, not as important as little Todoroki Shouto and his amazing quirks and the ease of which he grasped on to subjects – Touya having to pick up extra work to pay for a private teacher for Shouto, and groceries for two for an actual dinner.

Feeling a migraine coming on, he shuts the TV off in an attempt to stave it off and starts to tend to the injuries he’d gotten from his latest job, but despite his effort, tendrils of annoyance and insecurities have already latched onto his bitter heart, digging their talons into the muscle and poisoning his bloodstream: the old man had no right to look so damn defeated just because his favorite toy was taken away, he had no right to look like a shell of his former self, he had no right to feel because he was a goddamn monster masquerading as a man.

But that’s just it wasn’t it, he was a failure, he wasn’t like his baby brother, and some small part of him mourned the idea that they were different, that Shouto had things that he couldn’t just because life was unfair. During the darkest of days, he would wish that he was like Shouto – gritting his teeth, he chokes down a sob, realizing that he’s crying when a hot tear rolls down his cheek, surrounding one of the staples and creating a stinging sensation, he grabs onto his wrist and holds tight, the feeling of the staples digging into his flesh grounding him as he curls in on himself, with more bitter tears falling and blood beginning to drool out from the ripped staples. Because of this, the sobbing male doesn’t realize the apartment’s other occupant is present and approaching him, not until he feels a feather-light touch on his shoulder, he tenses, his tarnished pride ready to stitch itself haphazardly together when Shouto kneels before him, his little hands holding on to his much larger ones.

“Touya? Are you hurt? Do you need help?”

The older male rears back, ready to snap at the child for the use of his name, for finding him like this, until he sees the look of concern in said child’s eyes, a whisper within him finds satisfaction in the thought that this child who was so much better than him cared, but at the same time, the look of honest concern shatters him and his mask, the pain in his chest amplifying and spreading throughout his body, he turns away in shame from the boy who’d replaced him and screws his eyes shut, his mind warring with itself, one half wanting the child to leave him alone, to leave him to self-destruct and work his way through this, piecing himself back together again, while the other half cries for him to stay, to  not leave so he doesn’t have to be alone anymore, so he doesn’t have to feel so lonely, all the while bitter tears fall freely. Small arms wrap around his neck and a chin rests atop his head, something about the warmth and the kind gesture makes the older male cry even more, sobbing harder as he wraps his arms around his little brother and holds him close, almost afraid that if he were to let go, the moment would be over and he’d be left alone – after years of being denied the kindest of touches, he knows that this kind gesture is going to be his undoing, and he’s afraid that he’ll lose himself, but he wants it, he wants to feel important to someone.

The irony of it isn’t lost on him, the Masterpiece comforting the Failure, the little brother and the older brother: the little brother who looked at the older with awe shining bright in his eyes, thinking everything he did was amazing, even if it was the most basic of things, thinking that he was amazing. To Shouto, Touya was someone who was awe-inspiring despite his more than obvious flaws, he wasn’t like their father who ridiculed him for things he couldn’t help, instead he loved him for it. Now there was someone who saw him as something more than what he’s been led to believe, it was soft and scary, vulnerable and exposing, but it was refreshing, freeing, this feeling of being loved just for being who he is, just for existing – he never wanted to let it go.

“I’m okay.” murmurs Touya as he pulls away from the hug, but not before giving his brother a comforting, reassuring squeeze, the concern still shining bright in Shouto’s eyes chokes him up, “I’m okay, Shouto, I just need a moment.” he then spots the blood on his brother’s shirt, “You’ll need to change before bed.”

The ice-and-fire user looks down at his shirt, sees the blood and startles, his eyes immediately start searching Touya for all sources of the blood, the nearest is the gash on the back of his hand and the ripped staples near it, he reaches out with little hands, both warm and cold, and cups his brother’s hand.

“You’re hurt!”

“I’ll be fine.”

But he stays where he sits as Shouto attempts to dress his wound, the warm touch of Shouto’s hand filling him with a somber happiness, the look of determination in Shouto’s eyes filling his chest full of cotton – it was nice, not to be alone.

oOo

It’s been about a month since he’s been living with his brother, and it’s been pleasant, right now, Shouto is holding Touya’s hand as the older leads them through the late night streets, each sound from within the shadows and the howling echoes makes the child jump and cling tighter to his brother, his mind running a mile a minute with wild nightmares, being mindful of the staples. The fact that Touya remained calm and steady during their trek made him feel safe, his brother was brave, strong, and not afraid of anything, Touya would keep him safe if something were to happen and he would protect Touya. They’re passing a building that looks like some kind of warehouse with a man standing out front, the man is tall, scarily tall, wide and muscular with bull horns coming from his head and a ring in his nose, and he was almost as wide as the door he seems to be guarding. The man was intimidating in his black shirt that stretched tight over his barrel chest, threadbare jeans, and boots that had spikes on the toes, he was such a stark contrast to Touya who Shouto believed to be more approachable.

“Oi, Kid!” the man calls out, Shouto tenses and Touya stops, Shouto half-believing this man was talking to him until the man speaks again, “The boss has been looking for you, says he’s got another job that’s right up your alley,” the man stops himself midsentence when his eyes land on Shouto, the child hiding behind his brother’s long legs, the man then starts to laugh this full-bellied laugh that echoes within the night. “You’ve got a kid? Since when?”

Touya frowns, tucking Shouto behind him, “Since forever. Tell your boss I’ll talk later, right now I’m a bit - ,”

“Nah-uh, knowing you, you’re going to put it off until you feel like it’s worth your time, you’re gonna want to head in now, otherwise they’re passing this job on to the next fella they feel can get it done.” his head tilts, as if he’s attempting to look around Touya’s legs to get a better look at Shouto, “When the hell did you have this kid? Fourteen?”

“None of your business.” Touya growls, he turns to Shouto, kneeling in front of him, “Come on.”

Before Shouto can take a step towards Touya’s open arms, the man speaks up.

“No kids allowed, man.”

Touya tenses, he turns his head to glare at the man, “I’m not leaving him.”

“That’s the rules.” the man then guffaws, “Besides, it’s not like you’re leaving him forever.”

Touya’s frown turns into a deep scowl, “Watch him then.” he growls deep within his throat, he stands, hand holding Shouto’s, “If something happens to him, I’ll be using your arms and legs as firewood.”

The man just grins at Touya, the lamp above the guy’s head giving him a demonic look, the teenager turns away from the man and situates Shouto at the man’s side, about an arm’s length away just in case he tried something funny, the dark-haired male kneels before his brother, the younger clinging to his jacket sleeve.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m heading inside,” Touya says, voice soothing and ignoring the scoff from the giant man to their right, “Stay right here and protect the groceries, okay?”

Shouto purses his lips, but nods in the end, “Okay.”

“Good, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

The half-hot half-cold boy watches his big brother stand, glaring at the big man as the man opens the door for him, and before Shouto knows it, Touya is disappearing into the dimly lit insides of the building. The boy hunches in on himself and sits with the bag of groceries that were almost as big as him, his eyes beginning to sting with oncoming tears, they had just come from the grocery store and were heading home, why did this man have to bother them? Why couldn’t he have let Shouto follow Touya?

The scary man attempts to talk to Shouto, but the child keeps silent, not wanting to say something that could possibly get his brother in trouble, after a minute or so, the man must realize that Shouto has no intention of talking and wouldn’t be answering any of his questions, so he huffs something under his breath and crosses his arms over his massive chest, fully ignoring the child. The two are left in silence, it feels like hours have passed when a loud explosion startles Shouto into standing, the ground below his feet shakes, the building rumbles and quakes, the scary man swears and runs inside the building, having to twist his body a bit to fit through the doorway, and leaving Shouto on his own, gawking at the building as blue fire starts to eat away at the roof. The black-haired boy’s initial thought is that his brother is under attack, but before he can make a decision, three men on the opposite side of the street are stumbling closer, gaping at the building like a bunch of fish, all loud and most likely drunk, Shouto didn’t like when people were drunk, it scared him, the idea of losing your senses, not knowing what a person would do – one of the men notices Shouto, he promptly elbows the man closest to him and points at the child once he has his friend’s attention.

Soon all three are looking at him, the expressions on their faces makes the fear Shouto feels increase, he feels his hands start to shake, his heart beating faster than before, and his fingertips turn cold with dread. They start to cross the street, calling out to him, telling him to come over, and that’s all Shouto has to see before he turns on his heel and starts running from the men, stupidly away from the building Touya had entered, he hears the men shout after him, coupled with laughter, the sound of their footsteps thundering after him as he runs blindly, turning corners left and right, until he trips over his own feet in the middle of a dirty alleyway, the rough pavement scrapping his palms and knees, behind him, he hears the heavy breathing of the men and their breathy chuckles as they slow to a stop.

“What are you doing out so late, kid?” one man asks.

“Do you think he’s an orphan?” another questions.

“Does it matter?” the final grins wickedly, “Fun is fun.”

The lump in his throat is hard to swallow around, the terror in his little heart kicks up several notches as the men banter between each other, he tries to listen to what they’re saying, but nothing they say makes sense to his fear-addled mind, as he gets it into his mind that he should be escaping while they’re busy, they turn their attention to him, each wearing a similar grin to each other, Shouto feels warm tears blurring his vision as the men start to approach.

“Make sure he doesn’t get away, or else.”

A familiar voice answers back, “Or else what?”

The tears fall as an immense sense of relief spreads throughout his body when he sees Touya standing behind the men, his fingers gripping tightly onto the back of two, out of three, of his pursuers’ necks, the relief he’d felt is short lived, taken over by fear when the two men burst into demonic, blue flames. The remaining man screams when he sees the bodies of his friends burning, he starts to sprint away from Touya, running past Shouto, not caring in the least about the scared child watching blue fire devour the bodies of the men who’d been chasing him not too long ago, Touya charges past him with murder written in his eyes, chasing after the other man, the look on his face highlighted scarily in the blue light, his brother shouting as he runs by:

“Stay right there, Shouto!”

Shouto doesn’t think he can move even if he wanted to, his mind imprinted with the faces of horror the two men wore before blue swallows them whole, the scowl twisting his brother’s face, and the men’s screams. Somewhere behind him, in the distance maybe, he can hear the man yelling, pleading with his brother to spare his life; he hears the muted growling of his brother’s voice, then the familiar whoosh of flames being let loose. All is silent after that, except for the raging of the blue flames still eating away at the two corpses in front of him – Shouto slaps his hands over his mouth and nose at the smell that starts to waft from the bodies, fat tears rolling over his hands, his stomach churning, his tears being that of fear. Soon, he hears the stead rhythm of Touya’s booted footsteps coming closer and closer, stopping when he’s in front of Shouto and kneeling before him, still highlighted eerily by his own quirk’s lighting, he reaches out with one hand and starts wiping at the free-falling tears, gentle and kind, with the same hands that had murdered those men.

“I won’t let anyone hurt you, Shouto.” he scoops said boy up, “Not anymore, Baby Brother.”

Unconsciously, Shouto holds onto his brother’s jacket for comfort, his face buried against his brother’s shoulder as tears continue flowing despite Touya’s attempts at soothing him. The child looks over the blue-eyed male’s shoulder and sees the bodies still burning, a little further away he can make out the faint light of another fire, he’s scared, so scared, his brother had just killed three men without batting a lash, he acted like it was a completely normal act – the fear cranks up a notch when he hears his brother’s humming echoing eerily off the walls of the damp alleyway as they leave the scene.

Chapter Text

“I don’t think it’s healthy for Shouto to be cooped up inside this apartment all the time.”

Touya looks from Shouto, his baby brother sitting on the floor of the living room, in front of the couch, with a colorful child’s book situated in his lap, to the man he’d accepted to be his brother’s teacher, after having done extensive checks on his background and his own personal investigations, back then it had been because he’d been suspicious of letting anyone into their place, but now he’s glad he was cautious as he wouldn’t let just anyone near Shouto. The man he hired goes by the name Fukuyama Hei, a thirty-two year old man with two kids around Shouto’s age, one boy and one girl, and happily married to a kind-hearted woman who he’s so obviously devoted to, the joyous couple having been married for fourteen years. The first time the family-man had met the brothers, he’d insisted adamantly that they call him by his given name, so as to establish trust, connection, or whatever he had been prattling on about, it was obvious he was a parent who read extensively about the act of parenting and such, taking the words to heart, it was annoying, but Touya didn’t care about the man’s nurturing nature so long as he didn’t do anything to upset Shouto, or pry too deeply into their business since men like these tend to stick their noses where they don’t belong, all in the name of what society dictates is right and wrong – men like him are a pain to deal with for many different reasons, Touya just hopes he doesn’t do anything stupid, it would be a hassle to find another to tutor Shouto.

“Don’t make it sound like I keep him chained up in here.”

Hei startles at his words, hands flying up and between them in an act of submission, “I didn’t mean for it to sound like that, I just – as a child, Shouto should be meeting new people and making friends. This is a crucial part to a child’s development, if he doesn’t get the social stimulation that comes with interacting with others, he may wind up apathetic, or even suspicious of others. Repressing feelings can be detrimental to a person’s growth, especially a child’s. There’s also the chance that he may become codependent, I’ve noticed that he’s already exhibiting signs of this codependency, for example: when you leave, he hides behind the walls he constructs around himself, he keeps his thoughts to himself, he doesn’t show the imagination a child his age should, it’s almost like he’s afraid to show the smallest hint of emotion. This will cause problems later on and will affect his ability to maintain healthy relationships.”

Touya frowns, attention turning back to Shouto; he didn’t want to undermine the kid’s growth, even if he didn’t see what the big problem was with codependency, “What should I do?”

Hei sounds as if he’s smiling when he says, “Take him to a park, not only will it give him some fresh air, but he’ll be introduced to children his own age. If you want, there’s a park near the area I live, it’s one of the safest playgrounds I know. I can show you where it is after Shouto finishes his work.”

“No.” Touya pushes off the counter, “Let’s go now.”

“Now?” Hei splutters, “But Shouto still has - ,”

“Shou.” Touya calls out, effectively cutting the older man off, “Come on, Hei’s going to take us to the park.”

The child looks from his brother to his teacher, and then back again, he gets to his feet, setting the book onto the couch cushion and approaches his guardian who watches him as he slips his shoes on, the child already dressed for the day. Finished, Shouto looks up and holds his hand out for Touya to take, the blue-eyed man huffs, but takes Shouto’s hand in his while Hei watches on with pinched brows – they’re exiting the apartment complex and stepping out onto the sidewalk, Shouto watching the crowds of people going about their day, oblivious to the group of three. It was always nerve-wracking when they had to go somewhere, he and Touya, the younger brother always afraid that someone would somehow recognize them and turn them in to their father, he didn’t want them to take Touya away, or take him back. Pursing his lips, he tugs on his big brother’s hand, successfully capturing the elder’s attention, once he has his brother’s eyes on him, he holds his arms out and up towards the taller boy.

Touya snorts, but kneels down anyway, “Honestly, Shou.”

Now safe within his big brother’s arms, being closer to him and feeling his beating heart, he feels a bit better about being in the throngs of people, he rests his chin on Touya’s shoulder, absently staring at the nameless faces in the crowd while Mr. Fukuyama attempts a conversation with Touya – Shouto didn’t trust Fukuyama, didn’t like him, the man always acted like his attachment to Touya was a bad thing, asking questions about their parents, the reason why they were alone, always attempting to pry into Touya’s job or Shouto’s thoughts. A funny look sent their way snatches Shouto’s thoughts on the man Touya thought best to teach him and to the people around them, he also didn’t like how people looked funnily at Touya whenever they saw them together.

The child tightens his hold on his brother, he loves Touya, why was that such a bad thing?

Touya saved him.

Killed for him.

And if that wasn’t proof of love, then Shouto didn’t know what is.

Eventually, they arrive at the park in a different part of the city, the neighborhood they’re in looks more family friendly than their area with parents smiling, holding hands, as they watch their children, children who run around without worry of strange people, no graffiti to be seen, or broken windows – Touya stops along with Fukuyama, his brother setting him onto the ground, the ice-and-fire user looks up at his brother who takes on his usual tired-looking countenance, his brother’s eyes flitting towards the playground behind Shouto, it’s obvious he’s uncomfortable, but he wants this for Shouto so that meant he was going to bear it.

“Go, I’ll be watching.”

The black-haired boy flexes his hands, wanting to reach out and grab Touya’s hand once again, not wanting his brother to leave him, but said person is already turning away and walking to a nearby bench where Fukuyama sits with that stupid little smile of his, almost like he were proud with Touya as he claps a hand to his brother’s back. That man is troublesome and Shouto hates how he always asks after his brother, but if Touya feels that all of this is the best, he’d make an attempt at having fun, even though he has fun with Touya, until someone upsets his brother, then he’s kind of scary. Spinning on his own heel, he faces the park filled with laughing children, shouting and chasing each other around, playing so effortlessly like they didn’t have a care in the world, it’s because of this that he starts to realize that he’s out of his depth, his comfort zone – he doesn’t know what to do. Taking a step forward, he looks down when he feels his foot sink into the ground a bit; the playground floor is covered in woodchips, not ideal, but better than obnoxious sand and its weird properties. How it manages to get in his pant leg, he’ll never know.

Sighing, Shouto scans the various, plastic play-things, all covered with kids crawling on them, until he spots a swing-set with all four seats unoccupied, deciding that this is the best place to start, he moves towards the abandoned swings, already planning on spending his time there to make it look like he was enjoying himself. When Shouto takes a seat on one of the swings, he stares emptily at the ground below his dangling feet – he didn’t understand, how does one play?

The two years he spent training with their old man was more than enough to kick that childish urge aside, he was just fine with Touya, Touya who had returned and saved him from their father, Touya who was making good on his promise to keep him safe – even if he hurt people in the process, the murder of those men in the alley was something he couldn’t quite forget, sometimes when he thinks of it, he feels a little afraid of Touya, but while it had been scary at the time, and Touya could be scary, he understood that his brother had done it, and everything else, to keep him safe, he trusted Touya, unlike Fukuyama who didn’t know what it was like growing up in the Todoroki household, he didn’t know, and that meant he couldn’t be trusted.

Annoyed, he starts swinging his legs back and forth – he isn’t on the swings long before a child approaches him, a pale-blonde boy with hair that looks a little like Touya’s, but ash-blonde, his eyes are red and he’s standing with his fists on his hips, looking far too confident for a child, dressed in a black shirt and tan shorts, behind him are two other kids, or three, there’s another kid standing a little ways behind them, a stark contrast to the blonde, considering how scared the green-haired boy looks, not to mention the nervous habit he seems to have with how he wrings the hem of his shirt in his hands.

“Hey!” the blonde says, “We’re playing a game, but we need even teams! You’re not doing anything, so play with us!”

Letting the momentum of his swinging start to decline on its own, he takes to staring at the boy, feeling a hint of confusion pricking at his thoughts, there’s already four of them, that’s an even number, even teams, could he not count?

“There’s already four of you.”

The blonde scoffs at this, “There’s three of us, Deku doesn’t count.”

The swing finally comes to a stop, he looks past the group of kids and sees his brother watching, just as he said he would, looking like he was about to walk over to them before Fukuyama stopped him by way of grabbing his arm, holding him in place, his brother reminds him of the mom cats ready to attack and defend their kittens, he turns his attention back to the group of boys and nods.

“Okay.”

“Great ~ !” the blonde turns to the others, “You two will be the villain team ~ me and the new kid will be the heroes!”

The other two boys nod and voice their affirmatives before taking off as fast as their legs can carry them, Touya watching them with a close eye as they zip across his field of view, Shouto has no idea what they’re doing, or playing, but he gets off the swing, his eyes drawn to the sheepish kid with freckles once more, what were they going to do about him? Were they really just going to ignore him? Was he a ghost?

The blonde turns to Shouto, “My name’s Katsuki, and I’m the hero, you’ll be my sidekick.”

“Okay.” Shouto has no problem with that, “My name is Shouto.”

Finally, since Shouto had seen him, the nervous boy speaks, head bowed like he were afraid of retaliation or punishment for speaking, “U – um, K – Kacchan? What – what about me?”

Katsuki’s brow ticks, his voice a sneer, “What about you?”

“Well,” the kid is looking at the ground, “What should I do?”

Katsuki starts to walk away from them, throwing a flippant statement over his shoulder as he goes, “You can be the civilian since you’re useless, and can do nothing but get in the way. Quirkless loser.”

A part of Shouto feels bad for the green-haired boy who bows his head, a small pout on his lips and eyes stating to water, but he can’t find it in himself to do much of anything, or rather, he doesn’t want to. It was amazing how much of his has changed since living with Touya, not that he was complaining, his brother is an amazing person doing the best he can with the hand he’s been dealt. Still, what the blonde said about being quirkless lingers in his mind - the game they play is kind of like tag and hide-and-seek mashed together, but with teams instead of one person seeking the others or being it. Currently, Shouto and Katsuki are hiding after having found and fought the villains earlier, they’re hiding under a plastic mountain, the inside of the mountain hollow with a small enough gap for a child to slip in, Shouto is sitting with his back against the bumpy insides of the mountain wall, the angle making him sit slightly bowed, and static making strands of his hair stand, his arms wrapped around his knees and staring at the woodchips.

“I’m going to be a hero when I grow up.” Katsuki says, causing Shouto to look up, “I’ve got the quirk for it and everything.” he holds his palm up and creates little sparks that make popping sounds, the noises made louder within the hollow space they sit in, “See ~ .”

From what his father had drilled into his head about quirks and quirk training, with time and effort, this kid’s quirk will grow into something formidable, it also helped that his quirk was flashy since heroes nowadays were based on popularity and flashiness, always trying to one-up each other, his brother always said that the hero society was messed up, corrupt, and likening the heroes to a pack of dogs.

“Explosions?”

Katsuki beams, “Yup ~ ! And I’m going to be better than All Might himself ~ !”

All Might?

All Shouto can think of is Endeavor when people talk about heroes.

“What about you?” Katsuki asks, “What’s your quirk?”

“Just fire.” Shouto creates a small flame in his palm, “It isn’t as strong as my brother’s though, but I’m okay with normal.”

Katsuki’s nose wrinkles at this, “You don’t want to be a hero?”

“No.” Shouto kind of wants to be like Touya, “I guess that means you can be my hero.”

Since he’s toying with one of the many woodchips on the ground, he doesn’t see the look on his companion’s face.

Shouto starts once more, “Hey.”

“W – what?”

Katsuki sounds weird.

Shouto looks at him, sees that his face is looking a little pink, but brushes it aside because he could just be hot.

“Can I touch your hair?”

“My - ?” Katsuki blinks several times, his face twists in indignation, “Why?!”

Shouto shrugs, “It looks soft.”

Like Touya’s.

Katsuki looks like he’s thinking hard, face turning red now, “F – fine.”

Reaching out while Katsuki bows his head, Shouto is surprised at just how soft Katsuki’s hair is, he shifts onto his knees and reaches out with his other hand as well, running his fingers through blonde spikes and marveling at the strands, unaware of the red-faced expression on Katsuki’s face, his attention taken wholly by the blonde’s hair.

“That kid, Deku you called him,” Shouto drones, “You called him a quirkless loser, what did you mean by that?”

Katsuki’s voice sounds muffled, his chin resting against his own chest with how his head is dipped, “It means what it sounds like. The idiot doesn’t have a quirk, quirkless, but he still wants to be a hero and he follows me everywhere, no matter what I do, he still follows me, it’s annoying.”

Quirkless, Shouto has never met someone who was quirkless, maybe he could talk with Deku – snorting loudly, Touya’s eyes snap open and he sits up, his neck was killing him, but he was more concerned with Shouto and where he was, beside him, he can hear someone snort out a laugh while attempting to muffle it, whipping his glare to the person, he sees Hei hold his hands up in a placating manner, a sheepish expression on his face.

“Sorry, sorry.”

Touya growls, turning away, “How long was I asleep?”

“Two hours.” answers Hei, “You must have been tired, so I guess this was good for both of you.”

“Tell that to my neck.” the fire-user snarls, but work has been piling up lately, “Where’s Shouto?”

“Your brother’s fine, he’s still playing with those kids from earlier.”

Grabbing his phone, he takes a look at the time and sighs, “We’ve got to get going.”

Hei stands at the same time as him, “You can come over for dinner. My wife tends to cook too much for just us alone.”

“No thanks.” Touya grumbles before his voice raises, “Shouto!”

Almost immediately, he sees his brother’s head pop out from underneath a plastic mountain, or at least he assumes it’s a plastic mountain, the thing was a bit weathered so it could just be a castle of some sort.

“Time to go!”

Shouto clambers out from underneath the mountain and rushes up to him, holding his arms out so Touya can scoop him up into his own arms, both brothers ignoring the looks they receive from the parents and children present. The blue-eyed man was used to the stares after all, especially when he was carrying Shouto, he didn’t look like someone who would be taking care of a child, but leave it to humanity in a world of freaks to still judge a person by their appearance.

Touya turns to Hei, “Later.”

“Um, yeah, okay.” Hei then offers a smile to Shouto, “See you tomorrow, Shouto ~ .”

The seventeen year old feels his brother’s grip tighten on his jacket, before Shouto speaks, “Bye.”

oOo

Lounging on the same bench from their last visit a couple of days ago, Touya feels tense, knowing full well that he’s scowling, all because of Hei, the man having been making attempts at getting the brothers to come over to his place, claiming that they were welcomed and that his wife would love to meet them, wanted to meet them, the bastard having told her about the two brothers and their familial situation, i.e. lack of parental figures. That’s probably what the man wanted them to see him as, some kind of parent. It annoys him, the fact that the idiot talks about them to others, to the normal people, and the fact that it feels like this perfect, whole, little family was pitying them, that and the addition of Hei butting in on how they live their own lives, it was maddening. He hired a teacher, not a nanny.

No, they didn’t need help.

No, they didn’t want to meet his wife.

No, Shouto didn’t want to have a play-date.

Super annoying.

There were some days Touya contemplated murder.

It even came close to a boiling point when the man found out that they had spent Shouto’s birthday at home, just the two of them, as if Touya wasn’t feeling bad about the minimal party, but the man had made such a big deal about it despite it being a few months back, saying that they could have invited him and his family over, that they were happy to spend a birthday with them, yet what the man didn’t get was that Shouto didn’t want them there, Hei was starting to turn on him, thinking he was actively secluding Shouto, which wasn’t true but he wasn’t going to deny Shouto if all his little brother wanted was him, regardless, that pissed him off because he wasn’t their damn father, they didn’t have a father. Also, his quirk may or may not have activated, it hadn’t been used against the man, it was just a small flicker of blue before Shouto interrupted, telling Hei that he was being mean to Touya and that he didn’t like it. Things had simmered down after that, but still, he couldn’t let the man’s trespass go.

Looking up, he sees that same blonde kid whose been dragging Shouto all over the playground whenever they arrive, one time, the kid had told Shouto that Touya had looked like a villain with how he dressed and how he looked, well, it technically wasn’t untrue, he got wary looks from the clean-cut people whenever he was out and about, he was a murderer, had a mean sadistic streak, dealt with other small-time criminals, made sure to keep himself out of the limelight, and loved burning a building or two, but the point still stood, and apparently Shouto wasn’t having any of that no matter how true it may be, they had left early that day. It looked like things were okay between the two kids now.

Touya muses on the sudden realization that the blonde kid seemed to grab Shouto quite a bit, when a shadow falls over him, looking up, he sees a woman that looks similar to the little boy tugging his little brother along like he couldn’t walk on his own, he tilts his head to the side. This woman looked rather young, but old enough to be a parent, or maybe she was the blonde kid’s sister, didn’t matter, she was still bothering him all the same.

“Yes?”

“Are you Touya?” she asks, “Shouto’s brother?”

This has Touya arching a brow, “What if I am? What does it matter to you?”

The woman frowns, clearly not liking his attitude with the way she glares at him, “I’m Bakugou Mitsuki, Katsuki’s mother, his birthday is today and he’s been wanting to invite Shouto, I suspect he’ll be asking himself soon enough, but I’m here to invite you as well, for both Shouto’s benefit and yours.”

The dark-haired male frowns, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Mitsuki doesn’t back down like any other person would, instead, she hardens her gaze and stands taller, meeting his flare head on as if she weren’t several centimeters smaller than him, “Katsuki’s told me that it’s just you and Shouto, I may not know the ext3ent of what’s happened to either of you to warrant the scars you both have, but I’m inviting you so you don’t have to worry about things such as responsibility, if only for a while. This isn’t out of pity, you know.”

Touya continues scowling at the woman, then turns away with a sneer, “Fine, whatever.” he starts watching the kids once more, wondering just what he and Shouto looked like as they skulked through the streets, were they pathetic? “How did you know what I looked like by the way?”

The blonde woman huffs, “Katsuki says you look like a patchwork, Frankenstein villain.”

The black-haired man huffs, if that’s what the kid said to Shouto, it’s no wonder his brother got mad, “Your kid’s a brat.”

“I know.” Mitsuki hums, but her voice is filled with adoration, “But he’s my brat.”

Touya hums, understanding where the woman was coming from – staring at Shouto as he sits at the top of the slide, he really can’t comprehend the squishy feelings he feels towards the dark-haired boy, it’s weird to think that his thoughts revolve around this one kid, wanting his attention, wanting to be the hero Shouto deserves, feeling jealous of dumb Deku that one time Shouto decided to talk to him about his stupid quirkless self.

“What are you looking at?”

Shouto’s voice brings him from his thoughts.

Blinking, Katsuki blurts the first thing on his mind, “Come to my birthday party.”

And Shouto looks at him with this little look of surprise, the expression nearly making Katsuki take his words back and swallow them down, but the others have already heard him and are watching, he can’t afford to take his words back unless he wants to look like he was backing down, so he squares his shoulders and stares at Shouto no matter how much he wants to look away. The blue-eyed boy goes sliding down the slide, stopping in front of Katsuki, he stands and covers Katsuki’s face with his hand and gives him a small push.

“Stop staring at me.” he demands, then says, “Okay.”

Katsuki smacks Shouto’s hand away, but feels himself grinning widely, unable to help himself.

oOo

It’s any other day, Shouto is minding his own business when he starts to realize that Fukuyama has been staring at him for God knows how long, this look of intense scrutiny on his face, but when the blue-eyed boy looks up and meets the man’s gaze with a steely look, the man doesn’t back down, doesn’t bother to look away in shame at being caught, in fact, it just serves to send the boy’s hairs standing on end, and before Shouto can cobble together some kind of plan, Fukuyama speaks, voice steady and cool:

“Todoroki. Your brother and yourself are Endeavor’s kids.”

A cold chill sweeps over Shouto, the cold not coming from his quirk.

“That explains so much.” Fukuyama continues, “But – you do know that your father has been looking for you, don’t you?”

What can Shouto really say in a situation like this? Being called out in a lie?

The ice-and-fire user looks towards the door of the apartment, just hoping that his brother would walk through and save him from his current predicament, Touya always knew what to do to keep their secret safe, he would know what to do now. The look on his face must be one of fear, because Fukuyama’s gaze turns worried, then angered, with Shouto immediately not liking whatever conclusion the man came up with inside his head.

“Did – did your brother kidnap you?” he says full of unwanted sympathy, “Did he hurt you? Threaten you?”

Now Shouto knew he wouldn’t like whatever the man came up with, but that didn’t stop his temper from flaring and burning his blood, “No! Don’t talk about my brother like he’s some kind of criminal! He keeps me safe and I do the same for him! We’re all we have!”

Fukuyama just looks like he pities him, the look grating on Shouto’s nerves, “Is that what he tells you?”

Angry, Shouto jumps to his feet, scowling at Fukuyama, “You’re not taking him from me!” fire starts to flicker to life around his left hand, while ice starts coating the other hand, “You don’t know what it was like living with the number two hero as our father! Training from morning to night, going to sleep bruised and hurting! Touya saved me, he saved me and I won’t let you ruin his life!”

“Shouto, calm down please - ,”

“No!” Shouto stomps his left foot on the ground, ice splinters towards Fukuyama and encases him in the stuff, the man makes a noise of surprise, and even discomfort, but Shouto doesn’t care, “I love Touya, and he loves me! He came back for me when he didn’t have to! I won’t let you take him away! He’s mine!”

“Shouto!”

The little boy startles, looking towards the door with wide-eyes where he sees Touya standing in the doorway, a bag of groceries in hand, immediately, Shouto recoils in shame at his outburst, at being overheard, he hunkers down on himself as Touya shuts the door and makes his way into the room, blue eyes scanning the miniature glacier. The elder stopping when he spots Fukuyama trapped within, he stares for a moment then looks to Shouto, then back again.

“What’s going on here?”

Fukuyama grits his teeth against the cold, “I know who you are.”

The man sees the look in Touya’s eyes shift from curious, to ominous in five seconds flat, he turns his gaze to Shouto and sees the little boy still hunched in on himself, as if he were afraid of his brother and his anger – Hei always wondered what circumstances led the two brothers to where they are now, but now knowing what he does, all he can see are the red of alarms and warning signs. This is unhealthy, for both boys, Shouto’s words still ringing in his ears:

“You’re not taking him from me!”

“I won’t let you take him from me!”

“He’s mine!”

That was the most he’s seen Shouto emote, it also bordered on being considered a temper tantrum where the child did not get what they wanted or had their favorite toy taken away, in this case though, it’s his brother, and Touya, Hei has seen the way the elder hovers, giving Shouto whatever he wants, keeping him in his sights, as if he’s afraid, afraid to be left alone, and clinging to the one thing that he knows is his, suffocating Shouto’s growth.

“I see, don’t worry, Shou, I’ll take care of everything.” Touya ruffles Shouto’s hair, “Go to bed, I’ll be back.”

Swallowing hard, Fukuyama doesn’t know what to expect, but knows it’s no good, especially with how Shouto doesn’t argue and immediately turns tail, scampering towards his room and shutting the door. Hearing the distinctive click of the child’s door locking, Touya sighs and rubs the back of his neck, looking older than he probably is.

“You know, I was kind of hoping this wouldn’t happen.” Touya’s eyes are closed, “It’s such a bother to look for someone to teach Shouto what he needs to know, what with the crazies society creates. Is it really that bad if we depend on one another? I mean, we’re not hurting anybody, are we?”

Hei musters the courage to speak to the teen, “It’s unhealthy, what you two are doing – just imagine what will happen to Shouto if something were to happen to you, your brother loves you, I don’t know the range of the love he feels, but I know it’s a bit much. He’ll be devastated. Tell me, how would you feel if something were to happen to Shouto?”

The light in Touya’s eyes dim, “I’d kill everybody.”

Hei gulps, but maintains a straight-face, “And what do you think Shouto would do?”

Touya looks down in thought, he’s silent for a moment then speaks, “I won’t let that happen.” he looks back up at Hei, “I’ve killed to keep Shouto safe, to keep us safe, he knows this and accepts it. You tell me, who else would look at what I’ve done and not be bothered by it? Who would look at me and all my flaws and accept me as I am?”

Hei keeps quiet, not quite sure how to answer that.

“I thought so.” Touya turns away and heads for the kitchenette, there’s nothing Hei can do stuck as he is, his quirk not meant for fighting, but nurturing, it was why he became a teacher, he hears the clanging of metal and feels the beating of his heart pound against his chest. “For what it’s worth,” Touya returns, he’s holding several trash bags, a large knife, and what looks like small pliers, “I’m sorry about this.”

Hei swallows hard, fighting the whimper threatening to leave his throat, the look in the other’s eyes tells him a different story, he rasps, “You’re not.”

The grin that spreads across the young man’s face sends a chill down his spine, it distorts his usual bored expression, the look in his eyes are crazed, manic, and those staples of his are stretching his skin enough to the point it looks as if his skin will tear, Touya’s voice sounds as if he’s holding back laughter when he says:

“You’re right.”

Later, eyes closed and listening in on the sounds of the night, he knows he should have seen this coming, doesn’t matter now, guy was dead, burning in an old dumpster with the rest of the trash. Absently shaking his hand, listening to the rattle of the teeth, he’d have to toss them somewhere, he turns away from the mesmerizing flames of his own quirk, and decides that he’ll have to pay a visit to the man’s family. It was a good thing he knew exactly where they lived.

Chapter Text

There was something wrong with Touya and it was making him worry for his brother, usually the elder would always make sure his work got done early just so he could return home and have dinner with him, even lay him to sleep, but lately, he’s been late, really late, so it’s just been him and Ms. Hana – Ms. Hana being Fukuyama’s replacement after his unexpected retirement, Touya having found the woman not too long after the Fukuyama Incident, she had long blonde hair pulled into a tight, neat bun, deep blue eyes, fair skin, lips painted pink, and dressed like a lawyer, or even some big-shot CEO’s secretary, while she looked strict, she was rather spineless, a complete pushover. It was obvious that she hadn’t initially believed that Touya had a little brother at home, because the second she saw Shouto sitting on the couch, she relaxed for a moment with relief crossing her fair features. That was a tally against the woman in the child’s eyes, but that was beside the point.

Each and every time Touya returned from his work, he smelled of smoke and something distinctly – dirty.

Whatever it was that his brother got into, Shouto didn’t like it because it kept Touya away and let a complete stranger eat dinner with him and put him to bed, and because of Touya’s lateness, Shouto had been acting out in an attempt to get his brother’s attention, to get him back home, metaphorically throwing people under the bus, each time his brother has hunted his assailant down, checking in on him after each one. Those times were the most time Shouto has spent with him. Sure, Shouto felt bad about throwing innocent people into his brother’s path, but that was eclipsed by the giddiness he felt knowing that his brother tracked them down, murdered them, and returned to him, all in the name of keeping him safe, of defending him – there was also the fact that he was always running through scenario after scenario about his brother’s possible fate while on his jobs, these dreadful thoughts forcing him to stay up so he can see his brother with his own two eyes and see if there was any clue as to what his brother did, or of any injury, but either Touya was silent whenever he returned from work, or he didn’t come home at all. The thought made him sad. But the child was pretty sure it was the former as Touya would enter his room at seven in the morning, looking fresh, like he’d been home all along, while Shouto himself only got a solid three hours of sleep max. It was annoying and he was starting to feel hurt. The emotions he was feeling was almost as bad as the days followed the Fukuyama Incident where he couldn’t sleep because of fear, the fear of being found by the police, heroes, or even their father himself, and being dragged back to the hell-house, not even sleeping in Touya’s bed those nights helped, Touya had been just on edge as he was back then as well, always checking on Shouto, reaching for him, asking if there was anything out of the ordinary. But that was a year ago, and Touya was now eighteen, something most seemed to look forward to as it was a transition into adulthood, or something, Shouto didn’t care about others, so did that mean Touya adopted that weird teenager way of thinking, thinking that younger siblings were bothersome?

“Oi, you awake?”                                                                                                           

Blinking sluggishly, Shouto lifts his head, which now feels ten-times heavier than it’s ever been before, and turns to look at his companion. It’s Katsuki, and they’re sitting on the swings, the very same ones he’d been sitting on when Katsuki had approached him and demand he play with him, or them. Today, Katsuki is alone; his normal entourage is gone, the pale-blonde having said something about them not wanting to hang out today, but if so, why did he look so sheepish when he said it? Was he embarrassed about his friends not wanting to play with him?

“I’m fine.”

Katsuki’s brows pinch in that way of his when he’s thinking, it’s obvious that he doesn’t believe him, “If you’re tired, then you shouldn’t be on the swings, you might fall asleep and then what do you think will happen?”

Shouto’s eyelids feel heavy, “I imagine I’d fall off the swing.”

“And get hurt.” concludes the little blonde, Shouto watches the other stand, fists on his hips and looking determined, sort of reminiscent of their first meeting, “And I can’t let that happen, especially if I’m going to be your hero. Come on; let’s go sit under that tree over there!”

The dyed-haired boy allows the loud blonde to tug him off the swing and lead him towards the aforementioned tree, Shouto finds it funny that the red-eyed boy seemed so insistent on being Shouto’s hero, like it were some kind of big deal, all it did was remind the disguised child of a Champion to a Princess, which makes Shouto the Princess in that metaphor – he’s too tired to even bother to berate himself for conjuring up an image of himself in a stereotypical, pink Princess dress, and a Katsuki in a knight’s armor with his chest puffed out and smiling that cocky smile of his.

Katsuki seems to be judging the spot he’d picked, Shouto absently wonders what he’s looking for, before he deems it worthy to seat them and plops down with the black-haired boy following his lead. The grass is rather soft, plush, that or Shouto is too tired to notice the prickly sensation that he often gets when he sits on grass, he scoots back so he can rest his back against the rough bark of the tree, ignoring the little ridges, Katsuki sliding back next to him, with their shoulders touching. The last thought that crosses Shouto’s waking mind is of the disappointment he feels for not being able to come to the park with Touya, no, he was here with Ms. Hana who he’d seen talking to Katsuki’s mom earlier – eyelids opening slowly, he finds the world is tilted onto its right side, his neck is killing him as he’s lying in an awkward position, and it seems to be sometime in the afternoon.

Then something moves below him, sitting up slowly, he rubs at his eyes, then neck, the nap didn’t refresh him at all and he feels a bit robbed, when he turns to see what it is that he’d been lying on, he sees Katsuki, he’d been lying on Katsuki. The blonde is sitting up, but his face looks an unhealthy shade of red. Could he be sick? Perhaps Shouto should go home before he too gets sick? Or is it allergies? Does Katsuki have allergies?

Shouto sounds groggy, “What happened?”

“Y – you fell asleep! On me!” snaps the little blonde, perhaps the reddening of his face is due to anger, Shouto would be made if someone fell asleep on him too, then again, he would have just pushed them off. “I wasn’t expecting you to just fall over like that! Your weight crushed me and I couldn’t move! You wouldn’t wake up either!”

“Oh.”

“That’s all you have to say for yourself?!”

Looking to the bench he’d last seen Ms. Hana and Mrs. Bakugou, the two women are still talking it seems, but Ms. Hana looks to be uncomfortable with how she’s leaning a little ways away from Mrs. Bakugou, Shouto can understand his teacher’s discomfort, seeing as how Mrs. Bakugou was a stark contrast to Ms. Hana, Mrs. Bakugou being the type of woman who didn’t take anybody’s attitude, his brother’s included. Suddenly, the thought of going home just to eat with his teacher and being sent to bed by said teacher sounds, sad, lonely – he didn’t want to face that loneliness.

“Katsuki?” he turns to look at the blonde, “Do you think it’d be okay for me to sleep over at your house?”

Katsuki blinks, cheeks, which had been returning to normal, tints pink, “What?”

Shouto tilts his head at the tone, “No?”

“No! I just – I didn’t expect you to ask is all!” Katsuki looks away, seemingly towards his mom and Ms. Hana, both of which now noticing them standing, “I’m okay with it, b – but I’ll have to ask my hag of a mom.”

The other boy doesn’t give him time to respond because he’s already heading towards the two women – Mitsuki was a bit surprised when her little boy had rushed up to her, looking up at her with those red eyes of his and a look of determination on his face, a look that often followed with an argument or two if she refused whatever it was he was about to ask for, yet it was the small hint of a blush on his adorable little cheeks that gave her pause. When Katsuki had asked if Shouto could spend the night despite it being a school-night, she was a little more than just surprised, she loved her little boy, but he was a prideful little thing despite being just a child, the people around him always buttering him up and treating him like he were a young God in the making, always complimenting his quirk or intelligence, but never once in his life had he bothered to bring any of his friends home, thinking it was silly, so for him to ask her if it was alright for Shouto, quiet, little Shouto who lived alone with his big brother, a brother that was becoming increasingly busy it seemed, she couldn’t even bring herself to think of saying no to such a request.

Which is how she ends up waiting with Katsuki on the step of their front door, waiting for Shouto’s babysitter to drop him off, originally, she had offered to be the one to bring Shouto over, but Hana had insisted that it was okay, that she didn’t want to trouble her, the way she had dodged the offer was a little sketchy, but Mitsuki knew the woman was shy, so she assumed that it was because she was being too polite to tell her that Touya hadn’t wanted anyone around when he wasn’t there. It kind of warmed Mitsuki’s heart when Touya accepted the idea of Shouto staying the night with them, especially since the older boy often hovered over his little brother, protecting him from all possible threats, and not afraid to speak his mind if he didn’t agree with the speaker, to know that he sort of trusted them with his brother was comforting. The two brothers needed a break every now and then, and she kind of wanted to give them that after what life has put them through – soon, a car pulls up, both Hana and Shouto stepping out, the little dark-haired boy carrying a pillow and little bag in his hands. Before Mitsuki can so much as greet them, Katsuki darts forward and takes the pillow from Shouto, grabbing his wrist and tugging him into the house with a large smile on his face as he talks about the different things they can do, the look on her baby’s face makes her heart melt, feeling proud to be a mother if she got to see that bright-eyed look on her child’s face.

oOo

Making connections in the underbelly of the city was tough, having to watch his back and make sure no one came sniffing around Shouto, making connections was especially tough when said connections were a bunch of Grade-A assholes who never came through when it came to the payoff, well, at least this one did. The asshole kept changing his payment, slowly taking away a few bills after each pay, as if he wouldn’t notice a few missing bills. It got to the point where he finally called the sleazebag out on his shit, the miserly bastard even had the balls to lie to his face, attempting to turn it on him, saying that he was the one that was lying, and that he was trying to get more money from him than was agreed upon. Sure, Touya always made sure to get the most he could from his employers for Shouto’s sake, if he knew they could pay that is, and this dickhead definitely could. Anyway, it’s safe to say that he’d had enough of the man’s bullshit, his patience, which he’d been working on since he’d taken Shouto in, snapped in half and his temper reared its ugly head – the man was now nothing more than a charred corpse, Touya not caring about the body being identified.

What makes losing both his patience and temper worse, is the fact that he’d thrown a burst of fire in the man’s face pointblank, right in front of the bastard’s lackeys – not his finest moment, and he was now paying for it, he barely made it out with his life, his body not able to sustain his own damn quirk for too long, that and the goons had ganged up on him. All of this is why he’s shuffling through the streets like a zombie, late at night, bloodied, bruised, clothes a mess, smelling of smoke, and the all too familiar smell of burned flesh, at least familiar to him – he really is a dumbass.

Normally, he wouldn’t bother with others, content to do things on his own terms and with no one holding him back with their own ideas, desires, or bickering over the pay, but he needed all the money he could get. For Shouto’s sake. A little brother made for power, trained for ambition, a child who just needed someone there for him, and damn it all, but Touya was going to be that person for Shouto, even if it gave him a few bumps, bruises, cuts, and a few close calls along the way – at least the little brat was over at the other little brat’s place, Shouto having taken to staying over at the blonde kid’s place the past few days since he’s been busy, and no longer acting out, he thought Shouto was more refined than that, but apparently the boy wasn’t immune to tantrums. It – pricks him with an ugly possessiveness, but he sweeps it aside as best as he can, knowing that if Shouto were with that family while he was away, he would be safe, cared for in his absence, that Bakugou woman proving to be a strong woman, plus, Shouto always lit up whenever he did return, and what was better than knowing that he was still favored more than a normal, functional family?

Finally making it home, after receiving a few looks from the late night crowds and the manager who just arches a brow at him, he unlocks the door to his and his brother’s apartment, because Shouto’s been at the blonde’s place a lot more, he doesn’t expect for his little brother to be home, sitting in front of the TV, flipping through channels with a small pile of papers scattered around him, those papers most likely being his homework. The ten year old doesn’t give him much time to make a run, one that would have been pathetic considering his current state, for the bathroom, because he turns in his seat, immediately spotting him. The elder feels his shoulders slump and all strength leave him, he can hear the concern in Shouto’s wordless cry as the child rushes over to him, he must look like a sorry sight, especially given the way that his right arm dangles uselessly at his side, blood dripping from the tips of his fingers and staining the cream carpet.

Shouto reaches out with little hands, as if he’s going to cup his face, but stops, “What happened?!”

Touya shuts his eyes, sighing as he closes the door behind him, fighting the absentminded instinct to flinch from the pain that shoots throughout his limbs, “The guy I’m working – was working for, kept cutting my pay, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I called him out on his shit, the little bitch then tried blaming me for being greedy. Lost my temper. Killed him in front of his men. And here I am. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a report on some building catching fire tomorrow.”

Opening his eyes when he hears nothing, he sees that Shouto is frowning, that something’s off about the look in his mismatched eyes, the child having taken the colored contact out when home and alone, but Touya really can’t concentrate, or filter his words for that matter, at the moment, too much blood loss. Still losing, still bleeding. The older male feels Shouto tuck himself under his good arm and steady him, a little awkward given their height difference, guiding him towards the couch he’d been sitting on previously.

“Here.” he helps him sit, completely ignoring the fact that his papers are now bloody, “Let me get the medical kit.”

“Fuck.” the elder brother growls once the blurry form of Shouto is gone, “This is gonna set things back.”

Meanwhile, Shouto attempts to stop the shaking of his hands, attempts to rid himself of the cold creeping through his limbs and crushing his heart. Seeing his brother like that, knowing that people had cheated him, had hurt him, done that to him – it hurts and the anger he feels is overpowering, it chokes him up. Grabbing Touya’s med-kit when he manages to control the shaking of his body, he exits the bathroom and makes his way to the couch where his brother is sprawled over gracelessly, looking small. For the first time in his life, he considers hurting the people himself, hurting the people to have done this to Touya, thinking on how satisfying it would be to have hurt them the way they hurt his brother.

It’s that same month, Shouto stops meeting up with Katsuki.

Chapter Text

Something was wrong, something was terribly wrong and Katsuki had no idea what to do about it – it’s been about a week since he’d last seen Shouto, at first, he had rationalized that his friend was simply a bit busy and couldn’t make it those first few days, after all, no one was as amazing as he was, but later on, when there was still no sign of the quiet boy, he went to his mom with his worries, to which his mother had told him to give Shouto time as he may be a tad busy just like his brother, the patchwork Frankenstein creep, he allows his mom’s words to calm him despite it being the same thing he’d used to rationalize with himself previously, after all, his mom was an adult and adults knew things every now and then. So he waits, he waits as patiently as he can, unaware that his mom was starting to get as anxious as him, and it was during those times that he wished he knew Shouto’s home number, or where he lived at the very least. For all the time that he knew and hung out with the other, he didn’t know the simplest of things about him, what kind of friend did that make him? What kind of hero?

Perhaps Shouto realized how selfish he was being and left?

As it is, the days start to turn to weeks, then months, then years, his visits had been almost religious at first, always wondering if it was going to be the day he finally sees Shouto again, but always leaving downtrodden when there was no sign of the black-haired boy or his creepy big brother, sometimes he wondered if he’d failed his friend in some way and Shouto was currently suffering somewhere, those thoughts often left him feeling hollow, he hated that feeling. Eventually, the visits turn to once a week, then once a month, then becoming nothing more than just a passing thought at the back of his mind, crowded by other thoughts and ideas, but while his visits may have become less and less, that never meant he stopped thinking about the quiet boy and his scarecrow of a brother, the boy was his first – love, crush, whatever people wanted to call it. And while Shouto’s absence hurt more than he could possibly say aloud, those words he’d said underneath that stupid hollowed out mountain still stuck with him, becoming one of his most treasured memory, the pale-blonde often thinking back on it, examining it, like a favorite photo, crinkled, faded, but loved, adding to the fuel that was his determination in becoming the number one hero, in becoming the hero he always said he’d be for Shouto, the hero he never got to be for Shouto.

oOo

Arms wrapped around Touya’s right arm, he keeps himself plastered to his brother’s side as the bouncer steps aside and lets them into the illegal nightclub, blue and purple strobe-lights zip around the level, music thumping from the black, speaker-boxes hidden amongst the crystals hanging from the ceiling, there’s fog coming in from somewhere, there’s a bar with black-lights installed within it, the three bartenders are fancifully painted with streaks, swirls, and points in UV paints, artistic and time-consuming, there are people dancing on the elevated dance floor, bodies bumping and grinding, voices loud and cheering. Looking at it all, Shouto wonders how this place can remain hidden – he thinks he sees several people having sex in one of the booths, but Touya grabs at his chin to keep him from looking. The one thing his brother really hated about Shouto growing up is the fact that he grew into a handsome, young man who garnered attention from people, and if Shouto acted like a wide-eyed, naïve school-boy, he’d attract unwanted attention, which is what they needed for their goal tonight, and tonight, he was dressed in a white, skin-tight, spandex hooded-bodysuit, a pair of black overalls with the straps hanging around his waist, and the ends of the legs tucked into a pair of leather, combat boots. It had been a little hard to get into the bodysuit, having trouble buttoning the thing together, considering the buttons were located between his legs. Not fun. As they weave through the crowds of drunken individuals, several people sending surreptitious looks Shouto’s way, someone grabs at his ass – the teen spins on his heel, inadvertently ripping himself from Touya, and grabs the man’s wrist with his right hand, sending tendrils of ice creeping up the man’s arm and stopping near his neck, Shouto snarls, yanking the man down to his eye-level.

“Don’t touch me.”

The man is shivering, gulping around the ice encasing the left half of his neck and nods frantically, feeling Touya’s arm wrap back around him and pull him close, Shouto follows his lead willingly, sneering at the man one final time as he says:

“Good luck getting out of that before frostbite sets in.”

A whimper is all the two brothers hear while walking away from the grabby man, there are several snickers and laughter from those who witnessed the scene, some even back away from the two as they continue on their way. They take a few more steps before someone appears from the crowd, stepping in front of them with a smarmy smile, a smile that was undoubtedly supposed to be charming, dressed in a purple, pinstripe suit, Touya then gives Shouto’s shoulder a squeeze, letting him know that this is the man they’ve been hunting for the last few days. The man’s eyes are glued to Shouto, a glimmer of interest shining bright in whisky-colored eyes.

“My name is Nori, and I couldn’t help but notice what you did to that man.”

Shouto hums imploringly, slipping into his, as Touya puts it, brat mode, “And is there a problem?”

“Not at all.” the man purrs, Shouto feels Touya’s fingers flex, “Why don’t we talk for a bit? Get to know each other?”

Shouto gestures towards Touya, “What of my friend here?”

The ice-and-fire user notices the way the man seemingly flinches upon seeing Touya, the younger has to fight the indignation threatening to pull his lips downward, the sooner they got this done, the better. Nori pulls himself together and straightens his suit, as if he were taking a few precious seconds to compose himself.

“Your friend is welcome to tag along if he wishes.”

Shouto looks to Touya, his brother shakes his head, “You go on.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Okay.”

Both brothers don’t miss the enthusiastic way Nori replaces Touya’s arm around his shoulders with his own, Shouto rolls his eyes, earning a snort from Touya who disappears into the crowd, with just a flash of glowing blue eyes seen amongst the people, showing that he was still close enough that he can intervene should something happen. The eager man leads Shouto to a booth and gestures for him to sit in a gentlemanly way, a grandiose way as if to inspire awe in him, it doesn’t work, it does the opposite, but he has to make it seem like he’s interested. The man slides in beside Shouto and throws an arm over the back of the booth’s seat, leaning towards Shouto.

“I don’t mean to offend,” Nori starts, Shouto already knowing that whatever comes out of the idiot’s mouth is bound to offend him no matter what, “But how does a pretty-faced stranger like you end up with someone like – him?”

Shouto narrows his eyes, the growl that escapes his mouth startling Nori, the bi-color haired boy quickly covers his anger, “I’m not a whore that he pays if that’s what you’re implying.”

“Not at all!” the man back-pedals, “It’s just – a surprise, seeing an attractive man like yourself with a guy like that.”

Shouto was so gonna kill this guy once this was over.

Huffing, the young man takes the empty glass that had been sitting on the table and toys with it, “I have a – thing for bad guys.”

This strikes the man’s fancy, he smirks down at Shouto, “Oh yeah?”

Shouto sees a glint of the key he’s supposed to be getting from the man, he meets the man’s eyes and smiles as sweetly as he can manage, Nori takes Shouto’s ponytail and plays with the end, twirling the ends around his index finger, saying something about his hair being so silky. This act was taking an awful amount of pride from him. Beyond the idiot’s left shoulder, he spots Touya watching them with a lopsided grin, Shouto has to fight with himself not to flip his brother off, besides, it wasn’t like Touya liked what was happening any more than he did.

“So,” Shouto hums, “What do you do for a living? Must pay well judging by the suit.”

The man jumps at the chance to talk about himself, “I’m a reporter, an off-the-books kinda guy, I do my own thing with no one telling me what to do, I find the things the heroes don’t want us to know.” he then grabs the key on the black cord around his neck, so close Shouto can just snatch it. “This key here unlocks all the secrets I keep back at my workplace.”

Shouto hums once again, not particularly interested but needing to keep up the act, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll lose it?”

The man laughs loud and boisterous, “Even if I did, I have a spare in my office.” he settles back down, still smirking, this time leaning close enough that Shouto can smell the alcohol on his breath, “You know, I can be pretty bad myself.”

“Oh?” Shouto smirks, “And you think I’m pretty?”

Nori leans closer, their noses barely an inch away, “Yeah.”

“Even with the scar?”

“Even with it.” he then pulls back, a perplexed look on his face, “Although,” his eyes roam over Shouto’s facial features, “You look an awful lot like Endeavor’s missing kid, the uh, the Todoroki Shouto kid.”

There’s a stab of panic in his heart, but hides it well with another smirk, “I was inspired by his looks.”

This guy is enough of an idiot to take his word for it, that or he’s too busy trying to get Shouto to go home with him, which was not going to happen, either way, it works in his favor – BANG!

All eyes turn towards the main entrance where a swarm of police start running in, several more exits slam open and more come rushing in, growling, Shouto takes the distraction of the ensuing fight as his chance to grab at the key around Nori’s neck, he rips it from the man’s neck, surprising him and regaining his attention. Jumping over the table, he sends a quirk burst of ice hurtling towards the man, spikes of ice ripping the ground up and the man as well, encasing him in ice like some gory ice sculpture. No one even looks twice in their direction. Immediately Touya is at his side, throwing the hood of Shouto’s stupid bodysuit over his head.

“Come on!”

Quirks are being activated left and right, there’s yelling and cussing, glasses breaking and shots interrupting the fast-paced tempo of the music still blaring from the speakers, the room quickly becomes a free for all with the police and nosey heroes against a whole crowd of night-goers. The two brothers approach a tin garage door, Touya punching a hole in it with his quirk like it were nothing more than wet paper. They slip out with several others and start running, they run until they collapse in some dirty alleyway where they begin to laugh their asses off, they’re more than a safe distance away from the ongoing brawl, so they allow themselves to relax, their peals of laughter dying off, Shouto rests his head against his brother’s shoulder, sitting side-by-side.

It had been fun, the chaos upon the arrival of the police and some nosey heroes had been ridiculous, hectic, noisy, with quirks flying all over the place, it had been a mess and Shouto rather loved the thrill he’d experienced during it. That had been last night. This morning, he’s lying in bed with arms wrapped around Touya and face buried against his chest, Shouto reveling within the heat radiating off his sleeping brother – his tactile adoration for the elder was often appreciated by said elder, especially after a night like theirs.

When Shouto had been a child of ten years of age, just five years ago really, he had proclaimed to his brother with determination swelling within his chest, that he would join him in his line of work, Touya had been a touch surprised by his sudden declaration at the time, but had said that when he finished his schooling, then he could do whatever he wanted. Now fifteen years old, he can see that it was a roundabout way of telling him no – but that had been then and the red-and-white haired, having allowed the natural color of his hair to return, as well as throwing out the itchy colored contact, teenager worked his way around his brother’s words, or rather wore him down. It always warmed Shouto to be reminded that Touya could be fairly easy to persuade if he asked the right way, which is why he was even there last night at all. Besides, Touya was just as bad as him when it came to showing his own brand of affection, perhaps worse, but Shouto wasn’t going to judge too harshly, after all, it made him feel loved and safe within his brother’s adoration.

Speaking of, arms that aren’t his own wrap tighter around him for a moment, a taller body curling around him before returning to its previous position, he hears a low grumble from the person lying in front of him, Touya is starting to wake, so Shouto waits until his brother is fully awake before he speaks, his own voice still a bit hoarse from the lingering remains of sleep.

“Good morning.”

“Fuck.” rasps Touya, “Morning?”

“Morning.” Shouto confirms, “What now?”

We could always join another free for all?”

“Too early, way too early.”

Suddenly, Touya starts making a spitting noise, making Shouto look up from his comfortable position and sees his brother’s nose scrunch up as he sticks his tongue out, a hand coming up and picking a single strand of long, red hair from the tip of his tongue, his brother makes an annoyed sound shortly before gathering all of Shouto’s hair in his hand and bunches it behind the heterochromatic-eyed boy, far from his face.

“Tie your hair up, it’s everywhere. Fucking Medusa over here.”

Shouto snorts and pries himself from the comfort of his brother, “Like your staples are any better, Frankenstein bitch.”

Touya throws a pillow at the back of his head, “Go take a goddamn shower, you smell like a sewer.”

“I think you’re mistaking your own smell for mine.”

“Asshole.”

“Dick.”

“That’s it – you’re grounded.”

The younger brother snorts as he leaves the darkened room, Touya having finally put up some thicker curtains to keep the sun out, fully intent on taking that shower of his while his brother lies around like a slug. Said slug of a brother lies on his back, actually sniffing at his clothes, the very same ones he’d worn last night during the battle, he’s surprised it doesn’t smell too bad considering they’d stopped in some dirty alleyway and laughed their asses off. Still, getting up, he decides to change clothes, his brat of a brother was going to take a while, apparently long hair was a bitch to deal with. So, removing last night’s clothes, he throws on a large, white shirt and black shorts, both of which were just lying on the floor, he starts to move through the apartment, past the bathroom door where he can hear the rushing of water from the showerhead – the apartment they live in is much better than the last, this one is bigger, more spacious, and not as rundown, it’s still in a crappy neighborhood, but Shouto made sure they had luxury, his brother was like a goddamn bower bird with the way he picks up random objects, albeit, these random objects happened to be expensive, there’s three bedrooms, not that Shouto ever sleeps in his own room, one bathroom, one kitchen, a living room, and even a laundry room. Heading towards the kitchen, he gets himself a bowl of cereal, and walks into the living room where he sits on the couch, grabbing the remote, he turns the TV on.

And the first thing he sees is a news segment about last night, Touya smirks at the memory of the chaos, idly listening in on the reporter, after it, there’s another segment, this time from yesterday, neither brother having seen it since they were out and about: on screen, the news anchors are talking about an attack that had happened on U.A grounds, the attack having been done by a group that was calling themselves the League of Villains. Apparently they had tried going after All Might for some inane reason, there were no casualties, just a few seriously injured, and the majority of criminals were taken in to police custody. How fucking sad. Scoffing, the fire-user switches the channel – eventually, Shouto exits the bathroom, rubbing at his hair with a fluffy, black towel, the teenager walks over to him and plops down beside him, the sudden weight of his brother making the couch bounce and Touya bob in his seat, his little brother then rests his head against his shoulder. Chills running all over his right arm from the touch of cold, wet hair on his previously warm and dry skin.

“How are our funds?”

“Okay, for now.”

“Guess it wouldn’t hurt to get a bit more money in our wallets.”

“No it wouldn’t.” he looks at his brother from his periphery, “Is there something you have in mind?”

“No, I figured you’d have something already planned.” he curls up; “I’m fine doing whatever you think is best.”

Touya huffs, throwing an arm around Shouto, “After last night, we’re going to need to get to Nori’s office before the police decide to start snooping around there themselves, then go hero hunting.”

“Hero hunting?” the older can feel his brother smirk lazily, “Sounds fun.”

This has Touya smirking as well, “Of course it is.”

When the sun begins to set and bring an end to their lazy day indoors, the brothers slink out of their apartment complex and make their way into the seedier parts of the city, Touya is wearing a black, zip-up jacket as his normal jacket has currently been confiscated for Shouto’s own use, the latter wearing it at the moment over the same white, hooded-bodysuit from last night, the jacket is ridiculously big on the bi-color haired teen, it’s basically the same outfit as yesterday sans the jacket, but both are happy with the arrangements so the fit hardly matters – they reach the sleazy reporter’s office, a man that had been confirmed dead via the news station, and help themselves in.

“Is there anything in particular we’re looking for?”

The younger asks the second he finds the filing cabinet Nori had spoken to him about.

Touya thinks it over, “Anything you think is worth a hero being hunted.”

With that, the brothers scour the files the man has on several different heroes, most are heroes that aren’t as well-known as the top-dogs, small time, the kind that most won’t miss all that much should something happen to them. There are some on the bigger heroes, but nothing worth killing them over, it was a surprise that neither of them found a file on their old man. Apparently Nori wasn’t as good a reporter as he liked to think he was.

“Hey,” Shouto murmurs to Touya, he holds out a file, “Look at this.”

Touya grabs the file and sees a familiar face, “It’s one of the heroes from last night.”

Shouto watches his brother flip through the pages, “Do you think she was there to find Nori?”

There’s a grin on Touya’s face as he says, “Looks like it. She’ll be the perfect starting line.”

Shouto takes the file and sets it aside, “It’s a miracle she didn’t get here before us.”

“Heroes have to jump through hoops before they can so much as sneeze.”

Gathering other files on several more heroes, Shouto holds the files they’ll be taking while Touya starts piling the others onto the desk of the late Nori, Touya then asks as he’s creating the pyre:

“Have you heard of the Hero Killer?”

“Hero Killer?” Shouto frowns, “I’ve heard the name, but nothing more than that.”

“He’s a man who kills heroes, the heroes who are only in it for the fame and money, for selfish reasons.”

“Like our old man?”

“Like our old man.”

“Okay, what does this Hero Killer have to do with what we’re doing now?”

“I’m just saying,” Touya sets the pile of flammables on fire with a small spark of blue, “We should follow his example, get rid of those society doesn’t need. Heroes and criminals alike. Just think about it, the world would be so much better without them.”

Shouto thinks on it as Touya ushers him out of the building – it would be nice to avenge his mother, Touya, and himself alike, but knowing the amount of power their father has makes him falter, but it’s a thought, the direction he’s been lacking, and it wouldn’t hurt to take out a few other heroes like their father, the people just like his father, it would make everyone’s lives easier, the world easier just like Touya said. Plus it’s something Touya thinks will be best for them.

“Okay.”

Touya grins, giving Shouto a friendly squeeze, “We’ll work our way up, until we have enough power to take down Endeavor. I’m sure you know that if we were to attack the bastard now, we’d get out asses kicked. We’ve got a goal now, Shouto, this is good.”

“Won’t we need different names if we’re going to do this?”

“You’re right.”

“I’m keeping mine, there’s no way I’m going to go back to wearing itchy contacts and dying my hair with that weird smelling dye you love so much, besides, people will recognize me so there’s no point in picking a name.”

“Brat. But fine.”

They spend the rest of the night wandering the streets, only stopping when they come across a familiar park, both taking a seat on a bench, the same bench Touya always sat at those odd years back, and sit in silence as they skim through the files they’d pilfered. The skies start to turn pink as the sun begins peeking over the horizon, Shouto closes his eyes and covers a yawn, settling against his brother’s side, leeching the warmth from Touya’s body, not that Touya was complaining since he throws an arm around him.

oOo

Already pissed off at everything and nothing, Katsuki is glad the sidewalk is relatively empty with only a few faceless, nameless extras out and about, like the two hobos currently sleeping on a bench in the park. The pale-blonde storms through the streets and makes his way to school, the U.A Sports Festival would be his shot at proving that he was the best, better than all of the dumbasses in his class, and if there was a small, inconceivably tiny spark of hope that Shouto would see him on TV, Katsuki absolutely refusing to think that he was dead, and see him for the hero that he was going to become, and possibly, hopefully, maybe attempt meeting up with him. Not that he really gave a damn, but the bastard deserved to be stood up for the shit he put him and his pathetic little emotions through – as soon as he steps into the classroom, the extras are talking about the morning’s news about the Blue-Fire Arsonist, a stupid name the media has given the bastard unimaginatively due to the arsonist’s fire being blue, apparently the criminal had struck again, sometime last night. The Blue-Fire Arsonist was rapidly becoming a serious debate between the idiots of the world, each creating theories about the arsonist and who they could be, some say he’s a man while others say woman.

Katsuki didn’t care, but if these idiots wanted to focus on the wrong thing, then that wasn’t his problem.

Chapter Text

“Dabi is the name I choose, but for you, I’ll always be Touya.”

Head tilted forward with his brother’s fingers on the back of his neck, massaging the muscles in slow, circular movements, Shouto feels goose-bumps prick both arms and chills running up the length of his spine, the action is possessive and a clear warning sign to the twenty-something year old man to their right that he belonged to Touya. The man is scrawny, his skin is tan, his hair a sandy-blonde, his eyes are golden, he wears a pair of goggles around his neck, a white, muscle-tee, dark blue, cargo-pants, and a pair of black, steel-toed boots – Shouto can feel the man staring at him, or trying not to, since his brother had already snapped at the guy for it previously. The three of them are waiting for the man’s partner, Touya having called the man here when word got out that they were looking for a particular bit of information on one of the heroes they had in the files they possessed, but so far, they’ve been waiting for thirty minutes and there was still no sign of the man’s companion, it was obvious this wasn’t some kind of ploy since the man was looking way too uncomfortable, sweat on his brows, fingers fidgeting, constantly shifting where he stands, and his eyes constantly fell on both him and Touya, most likely looking for any signs of anger, he won’t be getting anything from Shouto since he’s basically fine where he is, enjoying the massage he was getting from his brother, but Touya was getting annoyed, has been annoyed. And finally, after another five minutes, the door to the warehouse opens up and the silhouette of a woman can be seen, the scrawny man perks up, his relief was palpable.

“Chiharu!” he takes a step towards the woman, “You’re here!”

The woman looks severe, sharp, everything about her sets off the warning bells within Shouto’s head and reminds him of a snake, from her body-hugging, black dress, thigh-high black boots, and wavy black hair, her green eyes reflecting light. The woman’s presence seems to strike a chord in Touya as well, his hand falls from Shouto’s neck and is buried within his jacket pocket, the woman smiles sweetly, her black-painted lips stretching to reveal sharp teeth and a snake-like tongue.

“Apologies for the wait.” her green eyes turn to the brothers, her eye-shadow reflects a bit of light, kind of like scales, “I assume you two are the ones who have the information we’re looking for?”

Touya answers, “We are.”

The second he confirms it, a bright flash of weird, purple energy slams into Touya’s abdomen, Shouto can hear his brother wheeze from the hit, a hit that sends his brother skidding across the concrete floor, Shouto is about to run to his brother’s side when he hears someone tutting just over the sound of his brother coughing, turning his scowl towards the person responsible, he sees two people dressed up in hero costumes, a man and a woman, they step into the warehouse and flank Chiharu. The man Touya had called here starts to panic, taking steps away from the heroes, his eyes wide and hands grabbing at his short hair.

“Ch – Chiharu! What are you doing!?!”

Chiharu ignores the man, her eyes fixed on Shouto, “These two lovely heroes would like those files you stole.”

Getting a better look at the heroes, he realizes that they’re faces he’s seen in two of the files, the woman is the one who’d tried to get to Nori a while ago and the man is an accomplice of hers, both guilty of blackmail, taking bribes, extortion, threatening, and witness tampering. The two heroes take a step forward, only to pause when they take a good look at his face, the looks on their faces indicates that they know who he is, but all he cares about is the wrong they’d done against his brother – sharp shards of ice encase his right arm, creating a claw-esque looking armor, and fire springs up all over his left arm, the flames licking angrily, hungrily at the air.

Shouto snarls, voice loud, angry, bordering on hysteric, “How dare you hurt him.”

The teen ignores his brother’s weak call for him, ice forms beneath his right foot and propels him forward, the cold element ripping up the concrete and moving him faster than either hero can move, he stops the ice, the force sends him flying towards the two heroes, the woman, Millennia, manages to move out of the way, but her partner isn’t as fortunate. Shouto grabs him by the throat and slams him to the floor, the man gasps, the fall knocking the breath out of his lungs, the boy ignites his hand in a burst of fire that eats at the flesh of the man’s throat, the man not able to scream, doesn’t get the chance to. Turning towards the other hero with teeth bared, he slams his right hand to the ground, ice shoots up from the ground, the woman dodging the large spikes in time, she shoots a burst of purple energy at Shouto, the teen raising an ice barrier while icing the ground. The woman falls, her feet slipping out from underneath her, he rounds his barrier and rushes her, grabbing her by the shoulders and slamming her back down as she attempts to get up. Using his weight to keep her down, he snarls in her face as ice starts to encase her hands and feet, reaching out with a hand, he creates a makeshift gag that covers her mouth with ice.

“I’m going to take my time with you.” he growls, creating a sharp icicle and stabs it into her shoulder, her screams are muffled, he sneers, “So you don’t go anywhere.” standing, he sees that the woman is gone, but the man is still standing in place, he starts stalking towards him, feeling his face contort in anger, “You sold us out!”

The man swallows hard, waving his hands in front of him, “I – I didn’t! I didn’t know Chiharu was going to - !”

“Shouto.”

Hearing his brother’s voice snaps him out of his red-haze, he turns, “T – Dabi!” he rushes towards his brother and throws himself at Touya, arms wrapping around him and giving him a tight squeeze, the elder making a grunting sound, “I saw you, I heard you and I thought – I was so scared.”

Touya mumbles, hand yanking on Shouto’s ponytail to pull him back, “’m not leaving you.”

They both turn towards the man who stands where Shouto left him, watching them with anxious eyes.

Shouto murmurs, “What do you want to do with him?”

“I’ve got an idea.” Touya hums, he turns his gaze towards the hero, “But first, let’s have a little fun.”

oOo

Gen, the man that Touya had decided to spare on the account that the man help them whenever they need it, had reinforced the room to withstand all kinds of damage with his quirk, he stands opposite of Shouto as the red-and-white haired teen concentrates on conjuring both fire and ice in his left and right hand respectively, his mind starting to wander back to the woman he’d murdered not too long ago, she didn’t deserve what he’d done to her, probably, he really didn’t care and he was tired of pretending that he had a conscious at this point, she didn’t do anything that warranted being left frozen to the wall of an abandoned, dirty alleyway with hypothermia taking her life in a slow death, but she had looked at his brother, whilst he was talking to him, with an intense fervor, her salacious gaze roaming over the length of his oblivious brother’s body, biting the corner of her lip, her bottom lip, as if she were hungry for a little taste, a bite, a bite she would never get to experience. The woman’s death was something he didn’t feel the need to share with Touya, since his brother would tease him when he finds out that jealousy was the reason that Shouto had planted a kiss on his cheek. Giving up his little practice session, dull ash and vivid turquoise turn to stare fixatedly at the face of the woman who’d sold them out, Gen’s partner Chiharu, her knees are scraped from the floor she kneels on, her mouth is covered by a sizeable chunk of ice, her hands and feet also frozen in blocks of ice heavy enough to make moving a bit of a hassle, her face is screwed up in a hideous way as she attempts to keep herself from crying – Shouto wonders if Gen feels a bit sad for her.

The room the three are in resides within an abandoned warehouse, forgotten and left to wither away, sometimes he wonders how Touya finds these kinds of places since it was the perfect place for foul play, something he’s sure his brother is looking to enact, torture perhaps, his brother had that sickly glint in his eyes when he’d left Shouto here.

Initially, when Shouto had entered, he’d heard the woman pleading with Gen to release her, telling him she was sorry, telling him that she would be a better friend, so and so forth, she had stopped immediately when Touya entered the room shortly after Shouto, looking like a nightmare in the dim lighting, snarling at the woman to shut the hell up, the way the dark figure of his brother moved through the room, radiating the grace of a predator content in its power and just as languid, each move dangerous and making something within Shouto’s head ring.

In the end, Touya had asked Shouto to gag the man, so he did.

If he were honest, he didn’t know how long they had the woman like this, but any longer and she’ll be suffering from frostbite, or hypothermia just like the woman in the alley – just then, Touya returns with a leather wrap under his left arm, it looks worn, as if it’s been handled many times before.

Shouto tilts his head at the appearance of the roll, “What is that?”

Touya speaks, “Get out of here, Gen, unless you want to play?”

Gen shakes his head, uncrossing his arms, “I’m good, you uh – you two have fun.”

With that, the sandy-blonde haired man leaves the room, Touya has stopped beside Shouto and kneels when the door closes behind Gen, he throws open the wrap, the leather unrolling to reveal the shimmer of tools, the heterochromatic-eyed boy not knowing that his brother used instruments such as these, always assuming he preferred the haunting blue flames of his quirk over anything else when it came to the torment, or death, of others, not that he really knew since this would be the first time he’ll see how his brother operates. For some reason, Touya kept his more – adult errands to himself, always making sure Shouto wait some distance away or at home, despite the fact that his baby brother had quite a few tallies himself, he didn’t like it, his possessiveness flaring whenever he thinks of Touya participating in the more carnal acts, he shouldn’t feel the anger swelling within his chest, he shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t, but as far as he was concerned, Touya is his and anyone who threatens that must go: women, men, heroes, villains, their father.

All must go.

“This,” Touya says, holding what looks like a scalpel up to what little light the single bulb in the room produces, “Is just a fun little toy.”

Shouto is staring at the crazed gleam in his brother’s eerie eyes, “Can I see?”

Touya’s gaze turns from the blade, to him, “I don’t want you to get dirty, but you can watch.”

A part of him wants to protest against this, but his mind immediately supplies him with the fact that Touya was actually letting him stay to watch what he was going to do, so the teenager stands where he does and watches his brother grab a few more things before turning to their captive. The tears Chiharu had been fighting to keep hidden now flows freely, and Shouto watches, curious, wanting to see the work his brother does as he’s never really seen anything like this before, and who better to introduce him to such things than his big brother?

The first cut is mesmerizing, the easy way the skin parts, like butter, is almost satisfying in a way, and blood springing forth from the cut, looking a lot like red candy. The look in his brother’s eyes are even more enthralling, flashing gleefully when the woman lets out a particularly loud, muffled scream, the twitch of his lips as the blade continues slicing. For a moment, just a moment, he thinks Touya is handsome, beautiful even, and this prompts him to speak:

“Have you had sex?”

Touya’s hand twitches, he stops what he’s doing and looks at Shouto over his shoulder, “What?”

Shouto repeats his question airily, his attention on the crying woman so he doesn’t see the narrowing of Touya’s eyes, “Have you had sex?”

“I have.” Touya turns back around, continuing with his cutting of Chiharu’s flesh, “But why should my sex life matter to you? Unless you’re looking for pointers, is there someone you’re interested in, Sweetheart?” Touya says one more thing before Shouto can reply, “Is it that little blonde kid that dragged you everywhere like you were his fucking pet?”

Whatever irritation he felt quickly diminishes upon hearing of his childhood friend, “Katsuki?”

That was a name he hadn’t heard in a long time – not that he hadn’t thought of Katsuki every now and then, often wondering how the other was doing, wondering if he was still aiming to dethrone All Might, if he was still aiming to become a hero, if he still lived in the same area, the same house, if he remembers him. While his love for his brother eclipsed any other emotion he could have held for anyone else, there was something special about Katsuki that made him want to smile, that made him feel lighter, maybe it was the way his eyes shone whenever he talked about his ambitions, the way his cheeks always dusted pink whenever he fussed over Shouto or talked about being his hero, being his hero like it were the best thing ever, or maybe it was his confident personality that charmed Shouto. Now that he’s older, he can see that Katsuki had been a cute kid, but thoughts of the pale-blonde bring feelings of – longing, tinged with loneliness. It was so much safer with Touya.

A choking, gurgling, wet sound drags Shouto from memory-lane to see his brother stand up, wiping the blade off on a cloth, he’s covered in a spray of blood, he walks back to the leather roll, Shouto’s eyes turn from his brother to the woman Touya had been working over. There’s a large, jagged slit stretching from the woman’s ear to the other. Eyes flitting back to Touya’s back and his hunched shoulders as he fixes the instruments, Shouto knows that his brother is upset, annoyed, his taste for blood being doused by irritation – he wonders what set his brother off.

“Touya?”

“It’s him.” growls his brother, Shouto thinks he sees a flicker of blue, “Isn’t it.”

Remembering what he’d asked previously, Shouto shakes his head, “I haven’t seen him for nearly a decade, and when I did see him, I was just a kid. Why would I be having those kinds of thoughts now?” he notices a speck of blood on his jacket sleeve and swipes at it, “I just wanted to know since you’re, well, an adult and have needs.”

Touya finally looks at him, haunting blue eyes searching his face before he answers, “I do fuck around, but they’re nothing serious.” Shouto hates the sudden weight on his chest, Touya reaches out and pulls Shouto close, burying his nose in his hair, the smaller feeling his brother press his lips against his head, muttering, “No one’s going to replace you.”

oOo

The next day finds both brothers sitting on the sleek, black couch in their living room in front of their flat-screen TV, both of which Shouto had demanded they get, the two are dressed down for their lazy day in, Shouto is dressed in one of Touya’s white shirts and a pair of blue-and-white striped pajama pants, meanwhile Touya wears a black tank-top and black boxer-briefs. With remote in hand, Shouto flips through several stations until a loud, overly enthusiastic voice catches his attention, keeping it on the channel that had caught in his interest, he realizes that it’s the start of U.A’s Sports Festival. Wanting to see some of the aspiring heroes, he leaves it where it is and throws the remote haphazardly aside, he settles against Touya, Touya resting the weight of his head atop Shouto’s, and listen absently to the hero, Present Mic, as he commentates on the things so far, there’s also another man in the booth with him, but he doesn’t say as much, he’s also covered in an extreme amount of bandages, because of this, Shouto can’t tell who it is. Another hero, Midnight, calls up one of the students for the student pledge – the moment Shouto sees the pale-blonde hair spiked in that familiar fashion, he swears his heart stops working for a few seconds.

Touya hums dismissively, “Well, look who it is.”

The childish face from Shouto’s memories has aged into that of a teenager, and Shouto, Shouto is slowly dying while trying not to alert Touya to his predicament. The ice-and-fire user hadn’t really been lying when he’d told Nori that he had a thing for bad guys, and Katsuki, Katsuki was extremely good-looking.

“I just want to say, I’m gonna win.”

It seems Katsuki is still just as confident as he’d been as a child, but there was something else about him that was different, something that wasn’t really there before, or if it was, then Shouto had never noticed, but standing on that platform, looking out over the crowds, Katsuki seems – harsher. And as the pale-blonde responds to whatever is shouted at him, giving them a thumbs-down, Shouto can feel the rumble of his brother’s voice.

“Cocky little bastard isn’t he.”

Shouto huffs, Touya’s voice grounding him, “Like you’re any better.”

The first event is an obstacle course, it’s interesting to see the different quirks at play as the students manage to free themselves out of the arena’s narrow entrance, but Shouto’s attention is trained solely on Katsuki as he rockets himself ahead of the rest, his quirk having grown into something stronger. There’s another student he competes with for most of the race, a tall, broad student from his class who goes by the name Yoarashi Inasa, his quirk having to deal with wind, Present Mic, commentating on the kid’s quirk and how he had gotten in through recommendation – Touya chooses to comment on the guy’s powerful quirk when the students are placed. Katsuki having gotten third.

Also, how did Deku, or as they call him, Midoriya Izuku, get into U.A?

Katsuki said he was quirkless didn’t he?

“He might be as strong as you, Baby Brother.”

Shouto tears his gaze from the TV and glares at his brother.

Touya grins shamelessly, “I’m just saying.”

The younger scoffs, “Please.”

The following event is a cavalry battle – it nearly makes Shouto smile, seeing the amount of students clamoring around Katsuki to get a spot on his team, but before the teams can be assembled, Touya sighs loudly.

“This is fun and all, but I’m getting hungry.”

Shouto wants to snap at his brother to make something for himself, but reigns the desire in with a hint of surprise, there was no reason for him to be snappish with Touya. Swallowing hard, he tears his gaze away from the screen, fear creeping into his heart as he reaches for the remote to shut the TV off, he had to stop watching – these people, these students his age, they were a part of a different world than him, a world that would tear him away from Touya once it got the chance, and he couldn’t afford that. Turning his entire attention on Touya, he asks:

“Where do you want to go for lunch?”