Tears stained the cover, drops of sadness on Todo's comfort. The bed was always a bastion of safety for them. They could hide under the covers and pretend-even for a moment-that their mom was still here. Their siblings weren't being torn apart. That they didn't have a Quirk. That they weren't the son of Endeavor. That they weren't anything. They could be nothing for a moment and that was so goddamn nice.
And right now, Todoroki desired to be nothing once more. To not have feelings to torment them. To feel as free as air. But the words of Kirishima, so light and airy, weightless from their implications. They rang through in Todoroki mind.
"You’re starting to look a bit like Momo! It's a good transition goal! That's what it's called, right?"
The stiff smack to the back of the head form Deku didn't take back the words. The fact that everyone waved it off as a joke didn't make it less true. The lies she told herself-that Endeavor told her- never wore off from her mind. The desire to be something other than Endeavor wanted her to be. To have no quirk. To not continue this horrid legacy. To not be a man like Endeavor.
To not be a man.
It was the only pronoun she ever used for herself. She was a thing. A vessel for a quirk. It was folly to think herself anything else. Her father made sure of that
Before she could fall back into disarray, the sound of crashing furniture signified something both welcome and dreaded. Family visits.
"Shit! Shit! Be quiet!" Dabi was most definitely saying that to a shattered diorama of Todoroki. Great, gotta make a new one of that too. Better just sleep on it. It's all she does anyway.
"Todo? Todo? TODOOOOOOOOOOOOOO? Todoki? Ma’ Toad!? Ya' there?" And yes, Dabi poked Todoroki in the forehead with each name call.
"I'm asleep. Go away." In a dramatic flourish, Dabi grimly nodded and made their way to the window. Part of Todoroki hoped that this was the end of it. But the common sense in her new Dabi was not equipped to leave well enough alone.
"I was wondering when you'd realize, you know that?"
"I could tell. Had the same look in my eyes. I called myself “it” too. Early on." Leaning on the window still, Dabi begun forming a rollie. Nothing in it. Just a relaxation habit. "The drugs helped. They hurt a lot more....But they helped here. Made me stop caring about “it” and “itself” stuff. I could be a girl. Then, I realized why stop there if it ain't me? I could be anything that I was. I could be ALL." Even imitating the voice of their previous boss. "Joke in poor taste, I know."
"What if he comes back?"
"I'll smoke him if he does.....I'll be who I should've been for you." Shifting off the window still, Dabi stood over Todoroki. For a few moments, she could feel the memories of a day so long ago.
"YOU WON'T TURN THEM INTO ME!"
Dabi tried. They failed. But they can never say they never tried.
A hand gently tousled Todoroki hair.
"Get some sleep, little sis. I'll have Mange visit in the morning." It wasn't that Dabi didn't know to leave well enough alone. They simply knew when you gotta be there for your sister. “
"How did you know?" Already transitioning through the window, Dabi stopped, looking up into the air in contemplation. Look about as realistic as a Einstein Impersonators.
"I said you weren't the man our father was. I meant it."
And Dabi kept good on their promise. And also royally fucked it.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize he would be here. Could we reschedule.”
“Nah, little sister. We doin’ this. Just cos the kookey, spookey, kabuki man can’t be left alone don’t mean we ain’t talkin’” With a gesture of her forehead, Magne rolled her eyes along with it to the subject of conversation
A towering figure at 7ft high, he was an assortment of loose and dirty wrappings. Dirty with what, Todoroki was grateful she was never curious enough to ask. Within, his torn apart and bloody body was a fire. More crimson and alive than any drop of blood.
“I do not care for your troubles, Young End-”
“Dont. Call her that.” It was an instant as Mange spun around, eyes full and more fire within them alone than Stain’s whole body. “Her name is……….Shit, forgot to ask.” There was something warming in Magne’s voice. She was nothing at all like Todoroki’s mother. Being all riled up energy and fury where her mother was demure and quiet. Perhaps it helped that Shoto had those two forces in her life.
And speaking of which:
“Reii. I would like to be called Reii.”
“A damn pretty name, little girl. I would call you little sis, but considering I’m underground banging ya’ sib It might get awkward.” Todoroki was glad she no longer had a Quirk. For many reasons. But at this moment, it was due to fear she would’ve tried to literally burn that mental image out of her brain.
“That is the name of your mother, is it not?” Still looming over the library, perusing through random books like he was tasting a buffet, Stain did not even flip around for this piercing question.
And Todoroki responded with a coldness that her mother’s Quirk would have been proud of.
“It’s the greatest name I know.”
Stain simply stared into the distance at this supposed rival in verbal interaction.
“You’re mother is strong. I can respect that.”
Magne, who Todoroki noticed was slowly beginning to draw anything ferrous towards her, relaxed her fist.
“I’m sorry for Shit-Stain there.” Reaching over, Magne held out her palm. Todoroki knew this and laid her own within. Always wanted her palm read. Shamed that according to Magne it was all “Beatnick Bullshit” she used for an easy con.
“I see………….A good life for a girl named Reii.” And yet, Todoroki couldn’t sense a single lie in Magne’s voice.
And she could swear she even saw Stain crack a smile.
Here it was. The biggest day of her life. Possible the biggest ever. Would definitely not be the same after that.
“Todoroki, it is so good-” The mother Rei, comfortable tucked beneath a bed roll, had her voice falter by the sight in front of her.
Todoroki-No…..Reii. She loved her sisters in the dorm, but she would never go dress shopping with them again. Be it Momo’s mothering. Bakugou’s aggressive older sistering. Or Jirou’s twin sistering it all got too much. Denki was cool though. But, the end result made it worth it.
A flower dress, Reii loved flowers. They could bloom from anywhere in the world, no matter how harsh or unforgiving. The dress was flowy, draping down her entire figure. The rest of the girls are a masterclass on confidence, but a transition never happened in a day. And a single plait in her hair. A gift from her sister.
“Hey, Mom. I don’t know if you’ve met me.” Moving over, Reii felt her knees were practically jelly. Fear overcame her. She would trip and fall back into that hell. But, something else stabilized her. Someone else.
Warm hands from a taller woman wrapped around Reii. A soft weep, a joyous concord between the two women. A mother who had finally met their child, free of pain. Moving so space was between them, Rei gave a smile as soft as fur.
“What’s my daughter’s name?”
And Reii knew something. She didn’t want this moment to end. Reii wanted to live here till the sun burned out.
But then, she wouldn’t get to experience every moment after it. And that’s just too high a price to pay.
“Reii. My name is Reii.”
Must’ve been about five months at this point. Five months since a giddy yet sobre Dabi broke into her room and gave Reii the life advice she had been craving. Five months since Mange granted her a bullshit but reassuring palm reading. And four months since she realized her mother was truly that.
And now, five months later. Alongside Dabi who was currently munching through a double decker cheese burger, they reached a step both had been long awaiting for.
“That burger stinks.”
“When you look like this,” Dabi gestured with the burgered hand to their heavily pregnant stomach as they walked through the cemetery. “You get to stink as much as you want.”
“Should we wait till….after.” Reii was not talking about the burger.
“Nah. It’s gonna be the closest my little girl has to meeting him. And then,” Blowing an azure puff of smoke, Dabi smirked. “Then he’s wind. For all of us.”
They passed by many graves. Saints. Sinners. Straight Men. Jokers. Poets. Dregs. Any and all cos death is an equalizer of faith.
Which made Endeavor’s simple and bare tombstone a pleasing sight to see.
Hero. Father. Husband.
“Lies. Lies. Lies.”
“Nice one, little sis.” Holding out their hands, Dabi stepped away from the tombstone, dropping the remaining burger wrapper next to it. “You’re up to the plate first. My stuff might get...viceral.”
Kneeling down, Reii wanted to be meeting Endeavor on the same level she felt.
“You’re nothing. You always were nothing who thought he was something. Though he deserved to be something. Wanted to make us into his...things. Well, look at us.” Reii shot a matching grin to her sibling, which probably made them look like madmen. “We’re never gonna be things again. And I was never the man you are.” And to add it completely to the mix, Todoroki pulled the chisel she had brought with her and had been practicing with for five months.
Endeavor may be a hero to the world, but he would never be their father or her mother’s husband.
“I’m done. He doesn’t get anymore of me.” Rei stepped back, allowing Dabi to get their blows in.
“Fair, but he’s about to get a lot of me.” Reaching down to their belt, Dabi gave a shit eating grin to Rei. “Better turn around. This isn’t something a younger sister would wanna see.” And then Dabi proved a very important statement.
Everything’s A Gender Neutral Bathroom If You’re Brave Enough.
People thought Stain didn’t feel. That he was literally that. A stain of someone. Everything good and righteous taken out, only leaving the waste. Stain agreed with that assessment. He was not meant to be anything else.
But, stains mark everyone. Not just the good.
“WHAT THE HE-WHERE THE- HOW!?”
The young end-Reii. Must call her that name. Two I’s distinguish her from the other. So similar in mood and strength. The girl called Reii was tugging on his arm, attempting to lift of the throat of the bitch. Why?
“She called you a wrong word. The original told me.”
“And she’s a bitch. But you can’t kill her.” Stain looked eyes into the…….OK, there wasn’t any eyes to look into. But Stain didn’t need that.
“Because…..” Todoroki knew this would get no-where. Stain is a corrupted copy of her sibling, with all that entailed. Can’t just say “It’s wrong” when she was copy and pasted without a concept of wrong.
“Because it’ll get me in trouble. And then Dabi in trouble.” The looming spectre stood there with the blood stains still cracking and reeking on his bandages. No words passed from his thin lips.
“Stands to reason.” And he dropped the bitch, who ran away like a scalded dog. “I apologize, Reii.” And like that, Stain reached a hand out into Reii’s chest, which was understandably blocked.
“What are you doing?”
“I must return.” Reii felt her heart sank. She was smart. She knew what was going on. Stain was connected through Dabi’s blood. Her blood. Endeavor’s blood. They’d never be free.
“Find someone elses blood to live in.”
“It is not blood. It is emotion I am connected to. The ones Dabi finds dear connect me through this land. You. Magne. Muscular. I am connected by his feeling.” Reii had no words. And neither did Stain as he skulked off into the distance. “Contact Dabi. Have him meet me at your dorms.”
And since that day, Reii didn’t feel so edgy around Stain. She always wanted an older brother.
“This irritates my skin.”
“You say skin like it isn’t just raw flesh underneath there.”
“.........This irritates my raw flesh.”
“Please, stahp with the flesh talk at the table.”
“He started it.”
Reii looked at the four of her family, three bickering like devils over the soul of an honest man. But this time, it was more over one devil disliking having to wear a sweater with a smiling rudolph on and his two fellow devils grinning and bearing their snowman and robin sweaters. Reii felt she got off lucky with the gingerbread man.
And then, the fourth member of the family entered and even Stain shut his torn and frayed jaw. It had been two months since she left the hospital. Two months since Dabi and Mange landed jobs as “Wardens of the dorm” (Read: Den Mothers) Two months since stain started wearing something other than bloody rags.
And one month since that bundle of joy in Rei’s hand came into this world. And as she handed Eri to her child, the baby didn’t scream or call out at her fluid parent with more burns than skin. The uncle with a raw flesh for a face. The aunt with a wound that will never heal. The mother with...Mange’s doing OK.
But this child only cared about the fact that she would be so loved and so cared for that she won’t even know what to do with it. Eri, Dabi and Magne’s hope. Rei’s second chance. Stain’s center. Reii’s opportunity to make a happier next generation. She was so many things but above all she was loved damnit!
“How does a picture sound?”
“It sounds like a ‘P’ at the beginning. Then a ‘I’, Then a-”
“You’re fucking with us, right Stain.”
Realizing they’re going to fall into a pit of bickering and five stooges behaviour, Reii decided to commit the ending.
“A picture sounds great.” They’re like children. Once someone makes a decision, it all falls into place. And like a weird jigsaw, each fit perfectly into this selfie. Yes, Rei had been dying to take a family selfie. Don’t judge.
Rei, a woman who may never forgive herself but she would be happy.
Magne, a woman who would always be an edge piece, but could shield others from her pain.
Dabi, a parent who couldn’t sleep soundly but would always make sure their loved ones could.
Stain, created to be a killer and nothing more. But, however slowly, he was becoming so much more.
And Reii, a woman who thought she’d be defined by her quirk till she died. Now, she can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous her mother looks trying to figure out the phone. Such a simple enjoyment she thought she would never be able to have.
The fire still burns bright. But where it burned. It now warms.