Chapter 1: Rei
When Rei Todoroki had given her estranged husband a second chance she had been cautiously optimistic. Enji had really put forth an effort and she was willing to meet him along the way. She had not quite expected for their relationship to become as passionate as it did. And she had not at all expected the consequences of that. Nevertheless, it was time to tell her unsuspecting husband.
They were the only ones at home at the moment, with Shouto living at the U.A. Dorms, Natsuo at his college dorms and Fuyumi currently out with friends. And Touya in prison. They'd have to visit him again soon.
“What did you want to talk about?”, asked Enji. They were sitting in the living room, a comfortable space that held no bad memories for either of them. She just hoped that wouldn't change with what she was about to tell him. Rei let her eyes wander over his face, over his scar, to his oh so very blue eyes.
“I went to the doctor today for my back pain”, she started. Enji nodded. She had told him about that and he had been the one to convince her not to put it off but to talk to a doctor about it right away. She took a deep breath, but then suddenly did not know how to continue. Enji leaned forward and took her hand, an alarmed look on his face.
“Whatever it is, we'll get through it together”, he reassured her.
A small chuckle escaped her, but it was nice to hear him say that nonetheless. She even believed him. That alone showed how different their relationship was nowadays. She just had to hope and believe it would continue to stay that way.
“It's nothing bad. Not really. It's actually good news”, she said.
Enji frowned in confusion. “What do you mean?”
She grasped his hand in return and decided to get it over with. “Enji, I'm four months pregnant”
“What? How?!”, he exclaimed.
“What do you mean, how? We've been having sex again for longer than that.”, she said dryly.
“That's not what I mean. We ware careful.”
“Were we, though? I can think of a few times where we weren't that careful”
Enji, to her delight, sputtered and turned as red as his hair. “But you're 43, Rei!”
“I know! I didn't think it would happen either, but then again my menopause hadn't started yet and I should have really not dismissed the possibility like that! I mean, I thought it had started when my periods stopped coming, but I guess not. Now I have this high-risk pregnancy and I don't know how to deal with that!”
“High-risk? Why? Is something wrong?”, asked Enji, switching to serious concern immediately.
“No, the doctor said everything looks good so far, it's because of my age that it's high-risk. I'll be monitored closely.”
“Okay, good, that is good.” Enji grew quiet then and his eyes wandered to her stomach. She had gained some weight, but there wasn't really much to see yet.
“Four months along?”, whispered Enji.
Rei nodded. “Remember that stomach bug I had a few weeks back? That was morning sickness. And it turns out the bit of weight I put on had a cause. It's a good thing that I don't drink, isn't it?”
Enji nodded, then he stood up and went to sit next to her. He put his arms around her and pulled her into a gentle hug. “I swear, I will be better this time. If you see me slipping, tell me and other people. I only just managed to be an okay husband to you and okay father to our mostly grown up children, I don't know how I'll be with a baby. But I will try. I sear to you I will try.”
And honestly, that was what Rei had been fearing the most. How Enji would act around a baby, a small child. What quirk they would get and how that would affect things. But hearing him say this so very sincerely, some of her fears were quenched. They weren't the same people they had been all those years ago. They could do this.
When Fuyumi came home that evening, filled with good food and laughter, she did not expect to find her parents snuggled up to each other in the living room, watching a cheesy romance movie. It was kind of cute, but also kind of gross. This was what summed up Fuyumi's thought on her parents newly blossoming relationship best. Kind of cute, but also kind of gross. She had often considered moving out so she did not have to witness their bad flirting (and was ever so grateful her bedroom was far away from theirs), but she was deliriously happy to finally have the family she had always wanted. She could not move out, now that both of her parents were home, getting along and willing to interact with her as well.
Her father looked up from the TV screen and smiled at her. He still did not do that often, and most of his smiles were like this one, small, unassuming little things. But he did smile now.
“Fuyumi, come sit down with us”, he said. Her mother looked up as well and turned the TV off. While Fuyumi walked over to them her parents disentangled themselves, but stayed sitting close to each other, her mothers side leaned against her father in comfortable, casual intimacy. Fuyumi sat down in an armchair across from them.
“There is something we need to tell you”, said her mother. She, too, was smiling. “You're going to get another sibling”
For a moment the words did not compute. Them Fuyumi sharply looked at her father. He was watching her cautiously, but there was nothing harsh in his expression, nothing greedy. If anything, he looked happy, and a bit scared. She looked back to her mother. She, as well, looked happy.
Fuyumi had not expected any more siblings. She was 24 and already working as a teacher. But her mother was apparently not too old to have children yet. It was a reminder that her mother had her when she was nineteen. It made Fuyumi feel old and young at the same time. But it also made a sudden spark of happiness ignite in her chest. She loved her family, and what was one more sibling to love, really? Fuyumi smiled. “That is wonderful! How far along are you?”
She could not help her disbelieve when her mother confided that she had not noticed her own pregnancy for so long.
This chapter is a bit shorter, but still sweet, I think.
Tell me what you think about it! I'm grateful for every comment, kudos and bookmark.
Next up: Shouto
Chapter 3: Shouto
Shouto is confused.
Shouto did not know what to expect when his parents visited him in the dorms in the middle of the week. This had never happened before. Still, none of the scenarios he had imagined were even close to this.
“A big brother?”, he repeated in disbelieve. What? How? No, actually, he didn't want to know.
His mother nodded and smiled. His father was holding her hand, his thumb stroking the back of her hand. Weird. “Yes, Shouto. I am four months pregnant.” She looked happy about this. He looked back at his father.
“Why?”, Shouto asked him. Because this did not make sense. Why would his father have decided to have another child? Did he change his opinion on Shouto? Was Shouto no longer good enough? There had been no signs to indicate such a shift in opinion, but then again Shouto had been around his father less ever since he moved into the school dorms. He had thought that the distance actually helped with mending their relationship, but apparently he had been wrong. When did his father notice that -
“This child was not planned.”, his father interrupted his thoughts, “We were as surprised by them as you are”
He stared at his father in disbelieve again. Endeavour looked as serious as ever, but there was something about his posture, about the line of his mouth and his eyes that was much less severe than in Shouto's childhood. It reminded Shouto more of those recent family dinners where his father had made an effort to be civil. Was this really a surprise child? How strange, Endeavour seemed to really not have planned to have another child.
Shouto looked over to his mother. She was watching him with a warm smile. Shouto had no idea what she was thinking. Was she the one who had planned to have another child, who had wanted another child? Wanted a chance to have the experience of raising a happy child in a good home with a supportive husband? But then again, wasn't she risking the stable relationship with Endeavour she had at the moment by introducing a pregnancy and later a child into the equation? No, Shouto might not know his own mother well, but he could not imagine her planning such things. Even thinking about her coming up with such mechanisations seemed wrong. So this child really was unplanned.
“We understand if this is a bit of a shock to you.”, his mother said gently, ”You have been the youngest of the family all your life. It will be different to have a younger sibling”
It would be. Shouto would be an older brother. He had no idea how to do that. He could not even think back to his own childhood and copy how his own older siblings had acted, because theirs had not been a normal childhood and Shouto had had little regular contact with his siblings. What did it mean, having a younger sibling? Was there something he had to do? Who could he ask for help? Midoriya also had no younger siblings, but he would have ideas. He had ideas about everything. What would Midoriya say? … He would tell Shouto to ask another classmate that actually had younger siblings, like Tsu. Yes, that seemed like a good idea.
Across from him his mother and Endeavour shared a look. She squeezed his hand and then looked back at Shouto again, still smiling.
“If you have any questions, feel free to ask”
“I do not have any questions at the moment”, Shouto dutifully answered. What was he supposed to ask? This was all very strange.
“Well, once you do, we are both only a phone call away. Or you can talk to your siblings. But we do ask that you don't mention it to Natsuo and Touya yet, as we have not told them yet. But we will this weekend, so after that you can talk to them as well”, his mother said.
Shouto simply nodded. As if he ever called his brothers.
Chapter 4: Natsuo
Natsuo wishes for a normal family.
Natsuo really had better things to do than this. But here his parents were, crowded in his tiny college dorm room, sitting on his bed. He had even tidied up his room when his mother called to let him know they would come over. While it was true that his room needed to be cleaned at some point anyway, he really could have used his time better this week. Now he was behind on three assignments! And all that just so his parents could come confess that they had not learned how to use contraception correctly.
“And why did you come in person to tell me this? Could you not just have texted me?”, he asked from where he was sitting in his desk chair.
His parents exchanged a quick look, then his mother started talking again. “That seems very impersonal, don't you think? These are after all big news.”
“Yes, how nice. Congratulations or whatever.” He assumed they were happy, because why else would they be smiling like that. Natsuo knew his mother's smiles. This one was as genuine as it got. And even his father looked marginally happy, which probably meant he was overjoyed. For a moment Natsuo thought to question his father about his motives and plans for this new child, but then he decided not to bother. Natsuo wouldn't be around them anyway. It was none of his business.
“Natsuo”, his mother gently chided.
“What? You want me to be happy because you messed up contraception? You would be mad at me if it I did that. And besides, aren't you too old to have a baby? Your oldest children are twenty-four and your youngest is sixteen. I am twenty. What twenty year old gets another baby sibling? This is weird and embarrassing”
His mother frowned, but it was his father who spoke this time. His frown was more pronounced, his mouth slanted in anger.
“That is no way to talk to your parents, Todoroki Natsuo!”, his father growled.
“What, you raised me better than that? News Flash: I raised myself, you were not involved!”
“Boys!”, his mother interrupted them sharply. She was watching both of them with cold grey eyes and made sure she had their attention before she continued speaking. “Do not argue with our son like that, Enji. I see that there are more issues between us that need addressing, but I think we would benefit from professional help with those conversations. And you, Nastuo, really were a bit rude just now. I understand that this change in circumstances can be a bit much and that you are not necessarily happy about it. But if you want to be treated like an adult act like one.” Here she smiled and leaned forward to gently pat Natsuo's hand. “You were doing really well with acting like an adult so far. What was the grade you got on your latest test again? 96, right?”
Natsuo looked down at her hand patting his. His cheeks flushed slightly. “Yes”, he mumbled.
“See, that is a really good grade”
“It could be better”
“Natsuo”, his father said. Nastuo looked up to see him watching him intensely. How often had he wished to actually have his fathers full attention? “I know I was not there for you when I should have been and left you alone too often. For that I am sorry. But I am also very proud of you. You are doing very well in life. And that is only due to your own efforts and strengths.”
Nastuo felt himself flush hotly and looked away. Since when did his father say such things?!
“You... you two are really embarrassing!”, he mumbled again.
This time his mother just laughed while his father remained pensively silent. Then he said very blankly: “We will be sure to take mushy pictures of doctor appointments, baby clothes shopping and pregnancy yoga and then send them to you as well as one of your friends.”
His mother lost herself to laughter while Natsuo just stared at his expressionless father. Had he just made a joke? Or was that a serious threat? Natsuo couldn't tell.
“You wouldn't really. You don't even know my friends”, Natsuo replied weakly.
“Watch us”, his father just said, as blank as before. His mother was still laughing. What a great help she was. Natsuo groaned. Why couldn't he have a normal family?
Next up: Touya.
Chapter 5: Touya
Touya does not take it well.
When the fucking waste of breathable air that was his sperm donor showed up alongside Touya's mother to spoil her visit, Touya knew something was up. The asshole had only come to visit a few times before and had always come together with Touya's mother. Touya had done his best to ignore him, because he had not wanted to scream and curse in front of his mother. Acknowledging the asshole had always lead to screaming, cursing and attempted violence in the past, and Touya was sure that would continue, even if he was in prison now and the asshole was pretending to be civil. As if Touya would believe that. And Touya had thought that his efforts of ignoring the menace had paid off, because he had not been there during the last three visits. So why was he back now?
As his mother and the asshole sat down in the comfortable couch across from Touya's armchair and the usual officer settled in his corner to observe the visit, Touya watched them closely. His mother had gained some more weight and was smiling contently to herself while both the asshole and the officer showed barely noticeable signs of underlying tension.
After the usual banter where he exchanged greetings with his mother and ignored whatever the asshole said, his mother started gushing about the newest report she had gotten from the prison. Urgh, fucking rehabilitation program, this was so embarrassing! Why did he ever agree to her getting these reports? But it was nice, hearing her talk about how proud she was that he went to psychological and physical therapy and was actually working with his therapists, how proud she was that he was behaving well and slowly earning privileges. He could also do without Endeavour hearing all of it. (And yes, he knew that in theory the man who was legally his father also had access to those reports, but there was no way he was actually reading them).
Then she changed the topic.
“Touya, I mentioned before that your father and I have rekindled our relationship a while ago. There has recently been a new development.”
Oh, had she finally realized that he did not deserve her - that she would be better off without him and was getting a divorce? Why was she smiling like that?
“You are getting another sibling, Touya”
“I'm four months pregnant!” His mother said with a beaming smile, as if this was a good thing.
“What the actual fuck?” Touya growled lowly. Do not scream at your mother, do not scream while your mother is in the room, do not get violent, you were doing so well, breath, this is not worth ruining all your progress so far -
“You just want a new child to ruin!” He screamed at his father. His mother flinched. Touya froze. Sat back down. When had he stood up? The officer stepped back into the corner. Endeavour put a hand on Touya's mother's knee. He hadn't flinched, hadn't stood up. He was strangely calm.
“I understand why you would think that, Touya. I do not blame you. But let me reassure you that this child was not planned, but is no less welcome than any of you were,” his father said in a calm, low voice. Touya couldn't remember when he had last heard that tone of voice. It was strange, like a long forgotten memory. It froze him in his seat and stole all words from his mouth.
“Your mother and I both continue to want you in this family, especially now that it is getting bigger. We want you involved in your new siblings life. I still remember how well you did with Natsuo and Shouto. We will strive to make arrangements for you to become more involved in our family life.”
Who was this man? His hair was red like Touya's own and the big, stark scar Touya had given him marred his face. His quirk was not activated. He seemed smaller, somehow, than Touya had remembered for so long. Why was his voice so calm and quiet? Why was he saying he wanted Touya in his life? His family’s life?
“What family life?” Touya whispered.
Suddenly his mother leaned into his fathers space and smiled at Touya. “Good thing you asked, Touya!” she cheered, “We're still working on that. Which is why we are going to include you from the get-go. We were thinking of a regular family dinner! Leave the logistics and legal stuff up to us!”
Dumbfounded, he nodded. He couldn't say no to his enthusiastic mother. Not when she smiled like that in response and started excitedly talking about all the food they could possibly eat and about how great it would be to have everyone on one table. Next to her, his father sat quietly and held her hand. Strange. Since when was his mother the loud one of his parents?
But there was something nibbling at the back of his mind, a memory, that this was right. His mother loud and enthusiastic, talking a mile a minute. His father a calm presence beside her. For a moment Touya thought he could smell something warm and spicy and could see Fuyumi sitting beside him, listening to their mother with rapt attention. Had this been normal, once?
Thank you for reading! Tell me what you think about Touya's reaction and his interaction with his parents.
Also, keep in mind that prison systems are varied. The one in this fic (and in the world I am building with it, because this is what I need for the story to work) is build heavily on rehabilitation.
A big thank you to DrAphra for betaing this chapter!
Chapter 6: Enji
Enji and Rei go baby clothes shopping and Enji thinks about himself and his wife.
Enji and Rei were shopping for baby clothes. They were in one of those high end fancy stores that had agreed to close down for a few hours to allow them private shopping. As the number one hero it was simply not feasible to go to a regular shop. And if it had been hard for Enji to go unrecognised in public when he had been wearing civilian clothes before he got his facial scar, now it was impossible.
Enji looked away from his reflection in the tinted window of the store to his wife. Rei was humming contently to herself as she was browsing the wares. Maybe it was a bit early to already be buying clothes, but Rei had really wanted to go do this.
The last time Enji and Rei had bought baby clothes together had been for the twins. But that had been in vastly different store and not with a private appointment. Enji had been a rising hero, but didn't yet get recognised in public much, even less when he was in civilian clothing. They had been so excited for their twins, back then. Rei had fluttered from one item to the other and talking about all the things they still needed and how cute their children would be. Meanwhile, Enji had held the shopping basket and sneaked in the occasional hero onesie. Incidentally those hero onesies had been almost the only items of clothing the twins wore that were not white and red. For Natsuo they had not needed to buy much, because they had kept the twins' things. Enji vaguely remembered Rei ordering some things online. He couldn't remember how it had been with Shouto. He hadn't been around much at that time.
“Are you daydreaming, Enji?”, asked Rei. She was standing in front of him with an arm full of tiny little onesies, jackets and trousers.
“I'm sorry. I was thinking about when we did this for the twins”, he said.
Rei's smile softened. “Yeah, we were so young back then. And a little bit silly”
“A little bit?”
“Oh hush!”, she playfully hit his arm and then grimaced and rubbed her knuckles. He raised an eyebrow (the good one).
“Stupid steel muscles”, she mumbled.
“That's not what you said last night”, Enji mumbled back. Suddenly her expression changed and he knew he should never have said that.
“Oh Enji!” She leered and fanned herself artfully. ”You normally are not one for flirting in public! How forward of you! Is it because we have the shop to ourself? Should we take advantage and -”
“What did you pick out?”, he said in a slight panic, desperately trying to change the topic again. This woman, really.
Rei chuckled, but then held up the baby clothes again. “Here, I thought these were really cute. We will of course need more later, but they should do for the first weeks. What do you think?”
Enji took the items from her and looked through them one by one. The fabrics were soft but durable, very high quality. The colours were gender neutral and there was no overrepresentation of white and red. The cuts looked like they would work well.
“Seems all right”, he said.
Rei nodded and put them in the shopping basket Enji had forgotten he was holding. “Good. Now you pick something”
Enji frowned. “What? Why?”
“Because you were doing some obviously important daydreaming before and I didn't want to interrupt you to early, so I ended up picking up all of this myself. It is our turn now. I'll take pictures for Natsuo”
Right, he had promised Natsuo embarrassing pictures. Enji nodded and after two minutes had found a ridiculously soft and fluffy beige onesie with a hood and teddy bear ears on it. He looked up to Rei in confusion.
“Why did you not already pick that?”, he asked.
Rei, as helpful as she sometimes could be, just shrugged and smiled. “I must have missed it”
Enji narrowed his eyes at her, but could not tell if she was lying. She knew of his secret weakness for soft and fluffy fabrics. The weakness he had not indulged in for years and years until recently. When he had finally given in and taken the old soft blanket out of storage. The same blanket he had not allowed himself to have, because what grown man had a weakness for soft things? And a grown man who was going to be the number one hero? Ridiculous. So he had allowed that old thing to be around for his children, but put it away when Shouto started walking. As he had put away anything soft in his personality that may have had survived up to that point. That had been a bad time in his life.
Enji took a deep breath. Time to focus on the present again. He was fine with soft things again. The blanket was on the living room couch. And he could pick a fluffy bear onesie for his unborn child. He held the onesie up and gestured for Rei to step up next to him. She understood immediately (because they had done this countless times before, back in the day).
The selfie they sent Natsuo was of both of them smiling into the camera with Rei holding onto Enji's arm and taking the picture while Enji was holding the bear onesie up with two hands. He might also have been blushing a bit, but it was hard to tell with half of his face covered by a scar. Rei, as usually, was not blushing. That woman simply had no shame. It was one of her best qualities.
Chapter 7: Enji
Enji welcomes his sons home for family dinner.
When the doorbell rang Rei, Enji and Fuyumi looked up from cutting vegetables and made eye contact. Rei took one of the carrots she had been slicing and started eating it instead, still looking at Enji. Incidentally Enji and Fuyumi both got up a moment later, only to share another look.
“I can go”, Fuyumi said.
“I should go. If it's Touya I have to be there anyway”, Enji replied. He could see Fuyumi grimace (most likely at the reminder that her long lost twin brother was a convicted criminal), but she nodded and sat back down.
The one at the door was not Touya, but he also came with an escort. Shouto stood next to his home room teacher, Eraserhead, who looked as tiered and stressed as ever, but was watching Enji with keen, intelligent eyes. Enji felt compelled to check if he had his quirk activated. No, no active flames around him. Shouto was looking down at the floor.
“Remember what we talked about, Todoroki-san. I will come pick you up later. Good luck.”, said Ereaserhead. Shouto nodded and stepped inside the door next to Enji.
“Thank you for bringing Shouto here.”, said Enji politely. He only received a nod in return. Well, Eraserhead was not know for his civility, but for his competence. And he was a dedicated teacher to Shouto. As he closed the door Enji turned to his son and waited. When nothing happened and they stood there in silence for an awkward moment he started speaking again.
“Welcome home”, he said.
Shouto flickered a look at him and mumbled out a quick. “I'm home”
Well, it may have been in the wrong order, but at least they had managed a polite greeting. Maybe he would manage to interact with Shouto normally without having practised what to do and say beforehand one of these days. Or with any of his sons. But then again, what was a greeting but a practised and formalised form of interaction? Enji repressed a sigh. Small steps. He would just leave the talking to Rei for today. Just having everyone at one table would be enough for now.
Natsuo came home a few minutes later and grimaced when Enji opened the door for him. They stared at each other without saying a word for several seconds. Great, they were off to a good start. Natsuo shouldered past him into the door and started taking off his shoes and jacket without a greeting as well. Enji tried saying a greeting, but the words stuck in his throat. He kept standing in the entrance as Natsuo walked into the kitchen. He could hear him call out to the others there. Fuyumi and Rei called back. There was even a quiet hum that could have been Shouto. At least Natsuo seemed to have a good relationship with his mother and siblings. Which could not be said for Touya.
When Touya arrived Enji had been waiting for him in the hallway. Maybe because he liked listening to the sound of his family talking freely, like they only did without him around. Maybe because Touya was scheduled to arrive any moment now anyway.
He didn't talk to Touya at first, only exchanged some formalities with the officers who had brought him. Then he looked at Touya. His oldest son's face was expressionless, the dark scars on his skin a constant reminder of how utterly Enji had failed him. The least he could do now was giving Touya time with the members of this family his son actually liked, in a relaxed and informal environment in private. And to make it possible for him to develop a relationship with his newest sibling.
(And if deep down he yearned for another chance with Touya, a chance to get his son back, he was just going to ignore that. This wasn't about Enji, after all.)
I finally did the math about how old evreryone in this fic actually is and consecuently edited Rei's age in chaoetr one from 45 to 43. Sorry about that.
And with this chapter we arraive at the second little arc of the story: the (first) family dinner.
All of these arcs will each contain one chapter told from the point of view of a different family member, which means there will be six chapetrs each arc! Currently I plan for 6 arcs, meaning 36 chapters, so there is much content still to look forward to.
This fic escalated way beyond what I originally planned for it. But don't they all? I say, like an experienced author.)
What did you think of this chapter? It is the second one from Enji's perspective in a row. Does he seem at all in character? What do you think about his interactions with his family members?
Next Chapter: Fuyumi!
Chapter 8: Fuyumi
Fuyumi is determined to get some sibling bonding going.
Fuyumi, Natsuo and Shouto had just been kicked out of the kitchen by their busy mother and started moving over to the living room when Fuyumi spotted Touya in the hallway. She knew he was going to come and had even prepared a few different versions of a welcoming speech, but seeing him here in the familiar hallway of their home, even with his scars and deeds and all the years between them, she just saw her brother being back home. So she did the logical thing. She called out his name and threw herself at him, engulfing him in a big hug. He froze, as he had done every other time she had hugged him when she had come to visit him in prison. But just like those times he relaxed after a moment and tentatively let his hands rest on her sides. She smiled and was able to hold back the tears that threatened to spring to her eyes.
“Welcome home, Touya!”, she said softly, as she smiled up to him.
His lips twitched into a small answering smile. “Hey, Fuyumi”, he said just as softly. Then he looked behind her and his smile vanished. That would just not do. She took his hand and started leading him to the living room. He came without any resistance. When they passed Natsuo and Shouto, she gave each of them a look that told them to follow as well. And they did.
It was still awkward when the four of them settled on the two couches there, her and Touya on one and their younger brothers on the other. She kept hold of Touya's hand just in case.
“So, now that we are all together again, who is spring and who is fall?”, she asked innocently.
Touya's hand in hers twitched and she could hear a small snort from him. Across from her Natsuo groaned and rolled his eyes. Shouto started absentmindedly stroking the fluffy blanket that was lying next to him. His face was carefully blank, which was his usual facial expression when he didn't know what expression would be appropriate.
“Honestly, Fuyumi, that old thing is what you bring up again?”, Natsuo complained.
“Don't be a brat, little brother! Who is spring?”, she replied.
“Okay then, spring! Obviously it's Shouto, because there is often still some snow in spring and his hair is half white!”, Natsuo argued.
Shouto looked at both of them with slowly growing confusion. He started pulling the blanket over to himself, but didn't say anything.
“The same can be said about fall. And if we go by hair colours red is obviously a symbol for new life, which means Touya is spring”, Fuyumi said.
She looked over to Touya and waited for him to contribute an argument. But he remained silent, his hand in hers lax. He wasn't looking at any of them.
“That argument is even less valid. Because red is the colour of fall. Red like falling leaves and all that!”, Natsuo said into the building silence.
Fuyumi shot him a thankful look. “Okay, so colours as an argument are out. How about birth order. Since I am the oldest Touya has to be spring!”
“We don't know which one of you is the oldest. If Touya is then he must be fall”, Natsuo said back.
“Well, that's an opinion you can have. What do you think, Shouto?”, asked Fuyumi.
Shouto pulled the blanket over his legs and looked at her confused. “What are you talking about?”
Natsuo chuckled and turned to face Shouto. “It's this thing we used to argue about. Since I am named after summer and Fuyumi after winter, you and Touya must also be seasons, right? But your names don't clearly relate to one, so we used to find reasons why you were one of them”, he explained.
“And what conclusion did you arrive at?”, Shouto asked.
“That's the thing, Shouto, we never did. It became this game between us at one point, to argue who was what season.” It was sad that Shouto had never been part of those arguments. He had missed so much because he had been separated.
“Shouto is spring”, Touya suddenly said without looking up.
Fuyumi whipped around to him. “What?! You never argued for Shouto to be spring! You always wanted to be spring yourself!”, she gasped.
“Yeah, Touya, what's up with that?”
“Shouto is the one with a bright future ahead of him, like spring. I am like fall, with nothing to look forward to”, Touya elaborated and looked up with a tired grin. Rude, calling winter nothing. “Besides”, he continued, “I am the oldest”
“Actually, Fuyumi is”, said their father. He was standing in the doorway to the living room. When did he get here?
Touya snorted. “As if you would know that”, he sneered.
“Of course I would know. I held her for the nineteen minutes it took for you to be born as well.”, her father said casually, as if he regularly talked about family history like that and this wasn't one of the few morsels of knowledge her and Touya now had about their early childhood. But instead of freaking out Fuyumi turned to Touya and said deadpan: “See, you are spring after all. Congrats, little brother, it's time to face the reality that you do indeed have a future!”
Alternative chapter summary: The one where the titel is explained.
Chapter 9: Touya
Touya calls Endeavour out on his bullshit and as a result get's his life turned on his head.
This was so like Endeavour, making everything about himself. But had he really been there when they were born? Surely not. He had never cared about them enough to be there. And what was this bullshit Fuyumi was talking about? Touya having a future? Yeah, right. He simply shrugged in response and looked away again. It felt weird, how they were trying to include him. He didn't fit anymore.
Endeavour was saying something about setting the table and they got up without complaint. Even Touya, because if they didn't do it it would end up being their Mom's job. It wasn't like Endeavour would do it. His siblings all walked past Endeavour through the door, but Touya stopped in front of him. His hand slipped out of Fuyumi's and she looked back at him questioningly.
“Go on ahead. There's just something I want to say”, Touya told her.
She narrowed her eyes at him and then looked over to Endeavour, then back to him. “I'm really looking forward to having dinner with all the members of my family. And dinner is almost ready”, she told Touya, “Just so you know”
Was she threatening him? Or Endeavour? Or both of them? Huh, Touya had kind of forgotten Fuyumi was like that. She turned around and walked to the dining room. Touya turned to Endeavour. He would not trust this man. And he would let him know what he thought of this whole farce.
“Don't think I don't know what you're doing. You only want a new child with a better quirk, because that is the purpose of your quirk marriage”, Touya said coldly.
But Endeavour did not quite react as Touya had expected. Instead of shouting at him in anger, he blinked and looked at him like what Touya had said was incomprehensible.
“What are you talking about?”, Endeavour had the gall to say.
Was that bastard really playing innocent? Really? “About how you forced Mom into a quirk marriage!”, Touya hissed.
“You think we had a quirk marriage?!”, that bastard gasped in incredulous outrage, “How ever did you get that idea?”
“Mom told me so!”
“Yeah! She told me! You can stop pretending you don't know now!”
“Rei!”, that bastard yelled. What was he trying to do? Should Touya -
His mother stepped out of the kitchen. “What is it?”, she asked and looked from Enji to Touya. “Are you two arguing?”
“Rei, why does Touya think I forced you into a quirk marriage?”
“What?!”, Rei gasped. Okay, this was getting weird. What was going on?
“You told me so”, Touya said to her.
“You did what?”, called Fuyumi from the doorway to the dining room.
“Okay, whatever this conversation is, we are not having it in the hallway! Dinner is ready to serve. I will go back into the kitchen, turn off the stove and you two will help me serve the food while you three finish setting the table. Then we will talk about this!”, Rei commanded. And they did. Even if Touya really wasn't feeling like working together with Endeavour in any form or way. Even if it was only to serve the food. But his mother had spoken. And he was really confused and wanted answers. Answers it seemed he would get once they all sat down for dinner.
When they finally did Touya could not help staring at his mother, looking for answers. As were all the other members of the family. Rei smiled nervously. No one had taken any food yet.
“Okay, so, I told you your father and I had a quirk marriage?”, Rei began.
“That I forced you into a quirk marriage”, Endeavour corrected.
“Yes, that. I told you that?”
“Yes, you did”
“I … don't remember doing that. But I believe you when you say I did. Do you remember when that was?”
“Long ago. Natsuo was still small. My quirk had come in. We went to appointments about it a lot.”
Suddenly Rei's face became pensive. “Oh”, she sighed, “Oh, I can see what happened there. I did not mean to make it sound like a quirk marriage. You were so upset, Touya, during that time, about your quirk. It was hard to see that. Do you remember telling me how you were scared your father would be disappointed? I said something about Enji really liking my quirk when we got married, didn't I? About how he was sure we would make amazing children and that our quirks would work well together?”
“Yes, something like that”, Touya said, a vague memory surfacing in the back of his mind.
“I was trying to tell you your quirk was in no way defective and that your father would never think it was. Neither would I, by the way.”, his mother said softly, imploringly.
O...kay. Okay. She wouldn't lie about that, would she? But could Touya really have misunderstood something that had become such a vital part of his life? Something that had fuelled so much of his hatred for his father? Something he had told Shouto as a truth of their family?
Touya did not think this was where the day was going. He's also not quite convinced yet. Was his life a lie, based on a misunderstanding?
Next up, questioning his existence: Shouto.
What do you think about Touya and the family secrets slowly coming to light here?
Chapter 10: Shouto
Shouto has an existential crisis. His parents continue acting weird.
Not a quirk marriage? That … could not be true. It was such a core part of Shouto's identity. His father had forced his mother to have children in the pursuit of a child with a perfect quirk in order to be able to surpass All Might. Shouto was that child. That was a fundamental truth of Shouto's existence, something he had fought against, but had known to be true since he could remember. But could he actually remember either of his parents ever saying telling him this truth? No … no the one who had told him was Touya. And if what Touya had told him was based on a misunderstanding …. why did Shouto come to exist?
“Why did you have me, then?”, he heard himself asking.
His mother whipped around to him, looking at him with a concerned face. “Shouto? What do you mean?”, she asked.
Shouto looked from her to his father. He was staring back at Shouto in disbelieve. “Shouto, do you also believe we had a quirk marriage?”, he asked quietly.
“You think we had you for your quirk?”, his father asked.
Shouto nodded again.
“Oh Shouto, that is not true”, his mother said. Shouto looked over to her. Her face was drawn in concern and sorrow. “I just wanted another baby. That's why we had you. The twins were getting so big already and Natsuo was in kindergarten already and I started feeling sad sometimes. I didn't know that sadness was the beginning of depression, I just thought I missed having a baby around. I had always been so happy when I had been pregnant and had a baby to take care of. And it worked to some extend to make the sadness go away for a time, but then it came back with force.”
“You're not an eugenics project, Shouto”, his father said in a quiet, serious voice. Shouto turned to face him again. He was meeting Shouto's eyes. Then he turned to look at Shouto's siblings. “None of you are. Natsuo, you were planned long in advance. We started talking about 'the third one' as soon as we knew Rei was pregnant with twins. It took us forever to stop referring to you as 'number three', we had been planning you for so long. And you two”, he said as he turned to Fuyumi and Touya, “were the result of our wedding night”
“That's debatable”, his mother quietly threw in.
“Sure, let's give them details about our younger selves sex lives. I'm sure they want to hear that”, his father dryly replied.
“Well, considering two of them thought we had a quirk marriage maybe we should”, she countered.
His father winced. “Okay, you may have a point”, he conceded, “How do you think we met, Fuyumi, Natsuo?”
Shouto looked over to his siblings. Fuyumi had gone even paler than usual and Natsuo looked deeply uncomfortable. Touya was staring at some point far away, his face frozen. Fuyumi was the first one to answer.
“Mom told me Dad rescued her”, she replied.
“I thought it was an arranged marriage”, Natsuo said.
His father sighed deeply. “That explains a few things”, he mumbled.
It grew quiet for a moment. The food was still in the pots in the middle of the table. It was curry with rice. Shouto could smell the spices. It would be cold by now. He did not know what to think. Everything was a mess and nothing he knew was true anymore. But before he could sort through his confusion his father started talking again.
“Rei, we have to tell them the truth”, he quietly said.
“We both agreed we could not tell them the truth”, she immediately replied, like it was an automatic response. She didn't think like she really meant it.
“We agreed we could tell no one, after those first few reactions we got. It seems like we succeeded in lying about our marriage to everyone a bit too well. Our own children believed in three different versions of how it went down. And two believed it was a quirk marriage ”
“You're not the only one to blame, I also never mentioned anything. And the whole quirk mess certainly didn't help. We could at least have given them some version of the truth. You tell them what really happened, I go get the evidence”, he said and got up with a sigh.
“What evidence?” , she asked in confusion.
“The pictures”, he replied dryly.
“Oh. Oh my, Enji, that's … um, unlike you. I though we agreed we could never show them those pictures?”
“We also agreed never to tell them and see how that turned out. And at this point we need the evidence to make sure they believe us. I doubt the truth can do as much damage. And they are old enough to know this. Most of them are older than we were”, he argued.
“Natsuo is only barely older than I was. And Shouto is sixteen.”, she countered, though it did not sound like she really believed her own argument. Why were their ages suddenly part of the argument. Wait, did Shouto know how old his parents were? No? Why not? Thinking back, they never seemed to have celebrated their birthdays much, and never mentioned their ages. And Endeavour's age was not publicly know. All Might's wasn't either, but it was still strange. Most hero's ages were public. Shouto knew for example that Hawks was 23.
“Really? You think Natsuo is at risk?” His father said. “He's the most level headed and reasonable person in the family. Besides, two years are not barely. And I doubt Shouto would emulate me”
“What if he emulates me?”, his mother countered.
“... Alright, we'll have to keep an eye on Shouto, I agree”, his father replied. Which … What was that supposed to mean?
Next up: Rei
What shameful or scandalous things could Enji and Rei have been hiding about their marriage?
Chapter 11: Rei
Rei tells a story of young love.
While Enji went to get the pictures out of their hiding place Rei settled in to tell the story of how she and Enji had met and gotten married. And she would actually tell the real story this time, not one of the countless ones her and Enji had made up to tell friends and family in order to keep comments and judgement at bay. You can only hear disbelief and disapproval so many times before you start changing up the tune. At least Rei did.
“We didn't tell you this story because we did not want you to emulate the kind of reckless wild actions that lead to our marriage.”, Rei began, “When your father and I met I was crying in public. It was on a beach just after sunset and no one else was around. The beach would have been beautiful if not for the trash littering it. The sand was still a little warm from the sunlight of the day and made for a nice soft place to sit on. All in all it felt like it was a safe spot to cry.
I was nineteen and had one small bag with me that held all I had left in life. My parents, my only family, had been killed in a villain attack two days before and our apartment was gone. The only place I could go back to was the public housing unit and that place felt crowded and uncomfortable. The beach suited my mood much more. Then suddenly a voice asked me why I was crying. I looked up and behind me stood a handsome young man with fiery red hair and a sombre face. That was Enji, of course.
After he sat down next to me I told him the whole story in between big heaving sobs. Then I asked him why he was there, just after sunset, on a deserted beach slightly littered with trash, talking to a sobbing girl. He told me the love of his life had just broken up with him for bullshit reasons. We bonded over our shared misery.
Then we discovered that we both had elemental quirks and bonded over that as well. After some fire and ice jokes we deicide to say fuck it to our misery and ran into the city to have fun. We went to the night market and into all kinds of bars, ate street food, talked to strangers and sang karaoke. It was great!”
“Still the best night of my life”, said Enji, who had just walked back into the room with a box in his arms that he now sat down on the table.
“Really?”, asked Rei, startled. Surely there had been better nights in Enji's life. He had been out fighting villains many a night and had won some of his greatest victories at night. And he said the night the two of them met was the best one of his life? If he really meant that … Why would he lie about that? Oh Enji, he was such a romantic at his core!
“What? They were all born during the day”, Enji said with a nod to the children, like he completely misunderstood why she had asked, displaying his usual grace when it came to social interaction.
“Anyway, when we were lying on the hotel beds all relaxed - “, she continued her tale, only to be interrupted again.
“Rei, they don't need to know that”, threw in a blushing Enji. That silly man, so easily embarrassed when it came to sex. She had only alluded to it and here he was, blushing and objecting. He was so easy to tease. She continued like she had not even heard him.
“All relaxed, we were talking about how well we got along and how great a couple we would make and how beautiful our children would look. And how we did not want this to be a meaningless night that ended with us separating in the morning. I was the one who brought up marriage. Enji was already a hero and came from a wealthy background, he could take care of me. He would be in a relationship again, this time with the added security of marriage. I would have a family again. It seemed like a perfect solution to all our problems. We didn't sleep that night and were at the marriage registry when it opened. The twins were born nine months later. Do you have any questions?”
Natsuo was staring at her, his face expressionless. Shouto's face was just as blank and he was slowly looking from her to Enji. Touya's eyes were unfocused, staring off somewhere in the middle distance. Fuyumi, however, was slowly starting to smile.
“So Dad did rescue you after all!”, she cheered.
Natsuo choked on air. “This is was you take away from that?!” He sputtered, whirling around to his sister. “They didn't even know each other for a day when they got married! No wonder this family is such a mess, it has been a mess from the beginning!”
“Now now, Natsuo, I would not call it a mess! Enji and I did very well together for quite a few years before things started getting bad. And yes, things getting bad might have had something to do with both of us rushing into a marriage when we were both to young and were both at a moment of extreme emotional vulnerability and we really should have dealt with our problems at some point instead of ignoring them like we did, but I refuse to regret it. I love the family I got out of it, all of you, and I would go through all of it again if it would lead to me getting you as my children. And you as my husband, Enji.” Rei felt herself choke up, felt tears swimming in her eyes. Suddenly Enji took her hand in his and gently pressed it. When she looked up he was kneeling beside her chair, looking at her with worried eyes.
“Maybe that was enough about old woes for tonight?”, he asked.
She nodded and sniffed. “I'm sorry I'm so emotional, must be the pregnancy.” Rei said and wiped a tear from her eye.
“It's fine”, Enji said gently and kissed her hand. Then he remembered their children were in the room and watching them and blushed as red as his hair. That man, really. Such an awkward, adorable romantic idiot. Rei really loved him.
In this universe, you have to be 18 to get married without the consent of your parents.
What did you think about how Rei and Enji met and got married?
Chapter 12: Natsuo
Natsuo and his siblings look at pictures of the night his parents met. Natsuo realizes his parents really are disaster people.
Apparently his father was a romantic fool. He was still blushing as he got up from where he had been kneeling next to Natsuo's mother. This was the man Natsuo had idolized growing up, had longed to be acknowledged by and had been kind of afraid of.
His father awkwardly cleared his throat, stepped back to the table ext to Natsuo and opened the box he had brought earlier. It was a simple paper box and Nastuo could see where a big hand had recently wiped away most of the dust. His father took out one of those envelops you got your developed pictures in. The colours were slightly faded and it looked like it had been handled a lot. It was a thick envelop. He passed it on to Natsuo. When had his father decided Natsuo had to see embarrassing pictures of his parents? First that one of them shopping for baby clothes last week and now this. The evidence of a rushed, reckless marriage. Natsuo stared at the envelop. Did he really want to see this?
A hand reached over from his right and took the envelop from him. It was Shouto. His little brother shot him an impatient look, opened the envelop and looked at the first picture. Natsuo leaned over so he could see better.
It was a selfie of a young couple standing on a beach at night, illuminated by the small fire in the hand of the boy held between them, the girl taking the selfie. The orange glow painted their faces in soft lines. The girl had white chin length hair and was smiling sadly, her eyes were puffy and red, her cheeks still shining with moisture. The boy had shock of red hair and wore a sombre smile.
“You look so young!”, exclaimed Fuyumi from behind him. Natsuo whipped around and found her and Touya standing there. Touya was still staring at the picture, but Fuyumi had turned to their parents, who had stepped up next to the cluster of their children. His father shrugged, while his mother giggled quietly.
“Next”, said Shouto suddenly. Natsuo turned back to him and saw him put the first picture to the back of the pile he was holding. The next picture showed the couple in the same position, but the girl turning to the boy and looking at the fire in his hand in surprise. The picture after that was from an awkward angle, like the girl had forgotten she was holding the phone. It showed the boy grinning and the girl raising her hand to his, ice rising from her hand. The next picture, still at the odd angle, had him staring at her in surprise, his mouth opened in some sort of exclamation and her laughing. The next set of pictures appeared to be taken later. They were no longer selfies and showed the boy and the girl using the fire and ice to make small figures and shapes, then both of them working together making kaleidoscopes of ice illuminated by fire, lighting up the dark beach in strange patterns.
“You were so smug when you were able to surprise me with your quirk”, his father said somewhere in the backgorund.
His mother laughed. “Oh, you're the right one to say that, Mr. 'I have a way to make good light for the picture, trust me'”
“Well, yeah, I do. It worked”
Then the locations in the pictures changed. They were taken on different roads, in bars, at an arcade and showed the two young people posing together, showing of different food, singing karaoke. The girls eyes grew less and less red and puffy, her smile became brighter and brighter. The boy's face lost it's solemn slant and somehow he started looking even younger. Then there was a series of six pictures taken by a purikura machine, with both the boy and the girl having ridiculously big eyes and cat ears and bows in their hair and posing cutely. At least that were the first three. The last three were different. Though they still had the sparkly filters over them, the people in them had not been edited. They showed first the girl kissing the boy on the cheek, her eyes closed and his eyes wide open in surprise. Then they were staring at each other and in the last picture they were wrapped in each others arms and kissing. The next picture showed the two of them holding a marriage license. Before Natsuo could look at that picture for long Fuyumi leaned over and snatched it. Natsu turned to her and saw her narrow her eyes at it.
“Dad”, she said slowly, “Did you get married on the morning of August the 9th?”
Their father started rubbing his neck and looked away, not saying anything. Their mother laughed.
“Yes we did!” She exclaimed.
“Dad!”, yelled Fuyumi. Their father still didn't say anything and their mother laughed even more. What was so funny? Fuyumi turned to her brothers in outrage and only met inquisitive looks. “Do none of you know Dad's birthday? Seriously? It's August the 8th”
Natsuo stared at her for a moment longer before that computed. He heard a pained sound from somewhere on his right, either from Touya or from Shouto. His father had gotten married a day after he turned eighteen. His mother had said she had been eighteen as well. They had been reckless young disaster people. How had Natsuo ever believed he had to live up to his super distinguished, unreachable father? His parents were both disaster people who only had been able to hide that well, he understood now. This … was, strangely, a great relief.
“How old are you two?”, Shouto suddenly asked.
“I'm 43”, their mother said with a smile.
“42”, mumbled their father. But it was quiet enough in the room that they all heard it anyway.
“You're older than him”, said Touya. It was still strange, hearing his voice. When Natsuo looked to him, Touya's face, hard to read as it was because of the scars, was the picture of confusion. Apparently he was taking this all even worse than Natsuo.
“By eight months, yes”, they mother confirmed. Which was really strange. Their mother was lithe and small, especially compared to their tall muscular father. It had always just seemed like he would have been the older one in the relationship and the one who had initiated it. Natsuo had thought his father had either been looking for a wife and approached a marriage agency or had simply agreed to an arranged marriage his parents had set up for him. But the truth was that his parents had been the same age, had started the relationship as equals. If anything his mother had been the one to initiate it.
Wait, his parents had met on his father's birthday. Did that mean his father had been broken up with on his birthday?
“Anyway, we really should eat”, his mother continued speaking, “You all sit down again and put the pictures safely away, would you? Enji, the food”
Fuyumi and Touya sat down again and Shouto put the pictures away. Their father stepped up to the table and took one pot in one hand each. The bottom and sides of the pots started glowing a soft orange. Natsuo blinked in confusion.
“Are you reheating the food?”, he asked.
“We're not eating it cold”, his father said defensively.
“Best thing about having a flame husband. He comes with a built in microwave”, said his mother with a sly grin, “He can even do that with baby bottles. I'll have to take the flame proof ones out of storage”
“You kept them?”
“Of course I did! Flame proof baby bottles! That is still one of the best custom orders I got to make, ever. Why would I ever throw that away? And I thought they'd come in handy for any possible grandchildren when I stored them, but I'm happy to use them for number five as well.”
For some reason Natsuo found himself looking over at Touya, who had paled underneath his scars. Yeah, Touya would not have any children soon. But when Natsuo looked over to Fuyumi she had turned pale as well. Okay, she didn't want any children any time soon either? Fair enough, it wasn't like Natsuo planned on having any that young. (Unlike their parents.) Then Natsuo looked over to Shouto. His younger brother was wearing a pensive, considering look. Okay, what?! Were his parents right to be concerned about Shouto? What did they know that Natsuo didn't? This family was such a mess. (Maybe Natsuo liked it anyway.)
Shouto is thinking about asking his father for advice on fine control over fire. That food reheating trick seems handy.
What did you think about the pictures and the ages Enji and Rei revealed?
And with this the second arc of the story is done! Updates will slow down until I have the next arc mostly written so I can post it all pretty quickly then. As I said, there are four more arcs currently planned. The next arc will show why the LGBTQ+ tag is here.