They had planned this operation for a year. Countless trials and sting operations had all led up to this, and they’d flubbed it.
Of course, Kirishima couldn’t be to blame. His split-second call had been the right one, and now a hundred people were still breathing because of it. However, plans A through Y had to be thrown out the window, and all that the generation’s best heroes were left with was one last dangerous confrontation at Kamino Ward. Todoroki feels the stress of the last three days weigh on his shoulders as he crumples against Midoriya in their makeshift camp. His joints ache, and every movement aggravates old bruises. The warehouse does nothing to shield the November chill, but Todoroki is mostly unaffected and presses his warm side to Midoriya’s shoulder. Midoriya says nothing but smiles in thanks, and they lean against the rubble with their heads on each other’s shoulders as they count down the seconds until the strike.
“Hey Todoroki?” Midoriya speaks after a while, breaking the comfortable silence.
“If we make it out of this alive, will you come on a date with me?”
Todoroki sputters, now bright red. Midoriya chuckles softly at him.
“No need to feel pressured, but since it might be my last shot, I thought I’d ask.”
“A date as in…something romantic?”
“Dates generally are.”
“I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Midoriya cocked his head and smiled. “Silly of me to bring it up now. Just focus on the fight, okay?”
Todoroki gapes like a fish, as it’s all he can manage.
“I’m going to go call my mom, I’ll meet you guys on the roof.”
“Midoriya, no. That’s not—" But the hero had already left, now standing outside with his phone in his hand. He takes a moment to smack himself, as Midoriya had just offered Todoroki something he’s wanted for at least eight years and he just sat there like an idiot. He stands to go follow him, but stops short as Midoriya was already on the phone.
“Hey mom? Yeah. It’s time…I know…I love you. I love you.” Todoroki hears Midoriya’s voice break like a blow to the gut. Quiet sobs come from both ends of the line as they murmur their goodbyes for as long as they can. Their relationship isn’t so strained by Midoriya’s work as it once was. Inko is proud of her son, and Midoriya loves his mother more than anything else in the world. Perhaps it makes it easier, or perhaps it makes it harder to let go.
“Please, come home Izuku.”
“I love you mom.”
There’s a small beep as the line terminates. Midoriya lets one last sob escape before drying his eyes and walking back inside. Todoroki realizes they were supposed to meet on the roof about five minutes ago, and launches himself up on a column of ice. He faceplants on the tar—you know, like an idiot—right at the feet of Ground Zero.
“Get up, half n’ half dumbass.” He grumbles without the usual venom. “Is Deku coming or what?”
Todoroki’s face burns slightly as he nods, and in a minute the number one hero joins them on the roof. He makes a beeline for Ground Zero like a man on a mission, eyes still puffy and nose running like a river.
“For if I die, or if I’m compromised in any way.” Midoriya hands Bakugou a small plastic baggie with what looked like…strands of his hair? Todoroki wrinkles his nose in distaste, and the other heroes watch the interaction from afar with some confusion.
Bakugou looked at the baggie as though someone had handed him a ticking time bomb.
“No. No fucking way Deku—”
“No way in Hell. I saw what it would do to your body—”
“Please, Katsuki. I know you’re strong enough—”
“No, you idiot!” Bakugou sounds as close to tears as Todoroki has ever heard him. “I could never pick someone! Not like Yagi, and not like you. I’d choose some dumb fuck and the world would be fucked to all hell.”
“You managed to pick us, didn’t you?”
“We might not even have to worry about that.” Midoriya tentatively rests his hand on the other hero’s shoulder. “Just, hold onto it for me, okay? Just in case.”
“…Fine, you dumbass.” Bakugou bows his head and tucks the strands into one of his pockets.
"Thank you, Kacchan."
The two make their way over to the other waiting heroes, and Todoroki falls into step behind them. Deku stops in front of the weary group, addressing them with a nod and pulling his mask up over his chin.
Energy fizzles in the air around him. Todoroki feels his ears pop and ozone singes the hair on his arms, filling the air with the smell of stardust. He glows, as he always does, with his unearthly green lightning. Midoriya looks down at his hands in a mild fascination, as though his quirk were still new to him, and watches as the power flows through his veins. He then looks up, to the group of heroes who he loves most in the world, and speaks with a humbling mixture of love, dread, and determination.
They form a triangle, Midoriya and Bakugou meant to spearhead the charge. Uraraka crouches behind them, and Kirishima and Todoroki flanking her on either side. The rest are led by Ingenium, who fans them out in a semicircle across the standing buildings, gazing across the flattened city center. It would be minutes until Shigaraki appeared.
“We have three minutes at most.” Midoriya speaks into his headset, his real voice blended with the tinny one Todoroki could hear in his earpiece. “It’s been an honor to fight alongside you all.”
A brief chorus of reassurances started up, but quickly died down. After all, they all knew better.
After a few seconds of silence, it’s Bakugou who finally speaks, voice grave and gruff as he’d ever been.
“I’ll see your sorry ass on the other side.”
Midoriya turns towards his oldest friend. They share a meaningful look, one that no one can really understand except for that it’s important. They crack a small, short-lived smile.
“Izuku.” Todoroki feels the name leave his mouth without warning. The hero’s eyes widen at the mention of his given name. It was a definite breach in protocol, but the only people around to hear were the classmates they grew up with.
Todoroki leans forward to kiss him. Their lips catch at a slightly odd angle, and Todoroki’s never kissed anyone before in his life. As far as first kisses go, with the evil supervillain looming over them and literally all of their friends watching, it isn’t great, but Todoroki can feel Midoriya slide his arms around his waist and he finds that all of those things don’t matter quite as much. After a moment, they break apart, but Midoriya is still holding him in his arms.
Definitely a breach in protocol, but even if Todoroki lives to get fired the next day, it’ll be worth it.
“We’re coming back from this alive.” He insists.
“Yeah…okay.” Midoriya blubbers.
Just before they’re set to take off, Deku turns to glower at Ground Zero.
“Not a single word.”
Ground Zero snickers, and then they’re off into the sky.
Shigaraki puts up a tough fight. Even with a crew of ten heroes they still struggle against him and his small squad of three. The blonde girl is quickly apprehended due to her lack of combat power, and the one with the blue fire goes down after a good deal of trouble. Eventually it’s just Deku, Ground Zero, and Uravity, and himself standing against Shigaraki.
It was something like Todoroki had never experienced before, and it was the most cautious fight of his life. Lucky enough to be able to rely entirely on his quirk, he stays back and supports Ground Zero and Deku from afar. Uravity tends to the wounded as best she can.
Every time Deku goes in for a strike, Todoroki’s heart stops. Still, he’s a whirlwind of seemingly unmatchable power, multiple quirks bursting from his fingertips like violent confetti. Still, Shigaraki is maintained by his perfected mutations. Instead of executing his multiple quirks in the refined and controlled way Deku does, they morph his body in ways that pains Todoroki to even look at. Skin ripples and bones break and knit themselves back together and it makes Todoroki feel nauseous just looking at it. It’s not natural, but it allows him to release his quirks with far less restraint and much more power than Deku’s refined attacks. Todoroki remembers how even his father struggled to defeat the early Nomu over nearly ten years before, and a chill runs down his spine as he realizes that, now perfected, Shigaraki could do a hundred times worse.
Shigaraki is unpredictable in the most dangerous of ways. Todoroki learns this when he makes a sudden dash for Uravity, who has her back turned as she wraps Creati’s wounds in fabric scraps. She turns as Creati screams just in time to see Shigaraki’s hand close in on her face.
Todoroki blinks, and Uravity and Creati are gone, sent tumbling fifty feet away. Shigaraki’s hand lands on Deku’s chest, and for a moment they look at each other in shock.
For what feels like eternity, no one moves and Todoroki watches the love of his life collapse into atoms.
His skin crumbles in slow motion. Sinew and muscle revealed itself for an instant before it was swept away with his outer layers. His cells disintegrate, and have already reached his fingertips before Todoroki even has a chance to scream. His limbs feel like syrup as he runs to the dying hero.
It’s a nightmare in slow motion. Ground Zero is screaming somewhere across the battlefield and Ingenium is suddenly behind him, pulling him away with burn-scarred arms. Deku makes brief eye contact with Todoroki before his face disappears. His feet crunch charred dandelions and ashes fly into the wind.
However, as soon as the decay reaches Deku’s fingertips, it stops. The silence is as charged as a lightning rod, and then the fingers snap.
Todoroki watches in awe as Deku knits his own molecules back together.
“HA! I KNEW THOSE FUCKERS COULD DO IT!” Ground Zero crows jovially from a building off to the side. Todoroki frowns for a moment, as it seemed like he’d been referring to multiple people. However, this concern quickly vanishes as Todoroki watches the colorful lights swirling above Deku. It’s as though the planets have come to greet him, a rainbow of shimmering stars shooting through his body as it rebuilds itself.
“NO! HOW?” Shigaraki screams, trembling in his frustration. “YOU WERE DEAD!”
Todoroki gapes and so do most of the others, because Shigaraki is right. They watched him die only moments ago. There’s no way to come back from such an immediate and thorough decay, yet the action was being undone before their very eyes.
Todoroki had never been religious, but as he watches Midoriya Izuku cheat death itself, he wonders if he’s been in the presence of a god.
“I am the culmination of something sacred,” Deku says, his face rebuilding into a soft, but cold smile. “I hold with me the hopes and dreams many. A strength more than just my own. But it is still mine.”
The symbol of peace falls to one knee, and brings a fist to the ground. Fireworks explode from it. The ground shakes. Todoroki’s vision turns white and everything is gone.
Somewhere in the white light, a young Tomura stands before a young Izuku.
“She loved you, you know.” Izuku says.
“I didn’t.” Tomura spat viciously.
“I can feel her here.” Izuku points to his chest. “There is love, and regret. And a lot of sadness.”
“Why are you saying this?”
“Because she wants you to know. And I think, somewhere, deep down, you wanted to know too.”
Tomura’s expression softens ever so slightly, and then they’re gone.
Todoroki wakes up later in a soft cot, some sheets hastily thrown over him. He can still see the night sky, but the stars are now clouded by police lights and people milling about. His head pounds, but other than that and some bandages wrapped around his extremities, he seems to be alright. He sits up slowly, and glances around for his friends. Uravity and Red Riot are leading rescue missions on the surrounding area (although it had been mostly destroyed when they had gotten there). Some are speaking to the authorities, and the rest are having their wounds tended. Todoroki finally makes eye contact with Bakugou, and the other hero comes to sit on the end of his cot.
“Good, you’re awake. Shigaraki took most of Deku’s attack, but the rest of us got a little tailwind too. You had it the worst, but you’ll be fine in a couple hours.”
Todoroki nods slowly, the events returning to his memory.
“Shigaraki? And the league?”
“Dead, and scattered into the wind. We can deal with them later.”
“You know a lot about Izuku’s quirk, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. What about it?” Bakugou turns tense, something coming alight in his eyes. Todoroki realizes this isn’t something to ask through Bakugou.
“Will he be okay?”
Bakugou relaxes a little, then turns to stare at his boots.
“The idiot had his body ripped apart and put back together again on a molecular level, then released more power than he’s probably ever done in his sorry freaking life.” He snorts, then laughs with something akin to fondness. “Yeah, he’s going to be fine.”
“You love him.”
“Of course, I do. But not in the same way you do.”
Finally, they catch sight of Midoriya meandering towards them, phone to his ear as he talks to his mother. A shock blanket had been tossed halfhazardly over his shoulders, which seems to be annoying him more than helping.
“Hey mom. I’m coming home this weekend. Yeah, I’m okay. Oh, you uh, you saw that on the news, huh…yeah…oops?”
“YOU IDIOT!” A high-pitched cry came from a one Uraraka Ochaku as she threw herself at Midoriya, knocking his phone out of his hands. “I told you to quit playing hero.”
“Look at who you’re talking to here.” Midoriya laughs lightly and throws his arms around her.
“You know what I mean. You were lucky. My life was not worth yours, not in that scenario.” She scolds, tears running down her cheeks. “What would we have done if we’d lost you, Deku?”
“I know you would’ve found a way. You’re the cleverest person I know.” He murmurs into her hair. “And your life is worth everything to me. Never forget that.” He kisses her forehead tenderly. “You’re my family.”
“Fine. But I’m not letting you off the hook for this. Like, literally ever.” She swears, furiously wiping the tears off her cheeks. Midoriya chuckles and dries his eyes as well.
Bakugou throws his arms around Midoriya, holding him tight as he whispers.
“You are your own image of victory. Don’t you fucking forget it, Deku.”
“You’re still there too Kacchan.”
Izuku and his friends cry openly in a huddle. A strange, patchworked family of the people who he had saved, and who had also saved him. The selfish, but hopeful part of Todoroki wishes for a part in it someday.
Midoriya catches his eye, and then rises to sit next to Todoroki on the cot. Uraraka and Bakugou give Todoroki a pointed glance before shuffling off to help Kirishima.
“So, we made it out alive.” Midoriya prompts him, leaning into his warm side as they’d done only a few hours prior. But instead of resting on his shoulder, Todoroki turns to face him. Midoriya does the same, and he’s keenly aware of how close their faces are.
“Yes, we did, although I’ll be dealing with the trauma of watching you disintegrating before my very eyes for the foreseeable future.” Shouto glares, but there’s no venom. He can’t bring himself to be angry when those big green eyes look so remorseful.
“I know. But you saved us in the end.”
“I’m still sorry.”
“I know you are. I’ll always forgive you.”
Midoriya laughs fondly.
“We both know that’s far more than I deserve, but thank you anyways.”
Once again, they stay pressed against each other in a comfortable silence. Only this time, Midoriya seems to be searching for something in his eyes. Todoroki doesn’t break his gaze (a difficult feat, mind you) but frowns quizzically.
“…What did the kiss mean?”
Right. That had been a thing that had happened.
“Do I really have to spell it out?”
“We all do crazy things when it’s the end of the world.” Midoriya offers a wry smile. “It’s just a matter if you have any regrets.” He tilts his head, his expression vulnerable but not weak (as far as Todoroki was concerned, he would never be weak). “Do you have any regrets, Shouto?”
“Hundreds.” Todoroki replies without hesitation. “But none for the way I feel about you.”
The smile on Midoriya’s face could clear the night sky, and Todoroki takes this as a good sign. They giggle like teenagers and melt into each other’s arms. Todoroki revels in this new feeling that makes his heart skip beats and his stomach all fluttery. In a burst of daring, Todoroki leans in for a kiss, but misses, landing on the corner of Midoriya’s chin. He laughs, and all of a sudden Todoroki is in the air. He lets out an undignified shriek as Midoriya spins him around as though he weighs nothing.
“Let’s have dinner.” Midoriya says once he finally settles down.
“You want to have this date now?”
“Call me impatient. We’re alive, and you’re a catch, Shouto.”
“Rich, coming from you.”
“Is that a yes?”
“Yes. Of course.”
“I think McDonalds should still be open.”
“You’re taking me to McDonald’s for our first date?”
“C’mon! Getting each other’s themed Happy Meals? How romantic is that?”
“You’re such a dork.”
Midoriya leans in and pecks him on the lips.
“Well what if I’m your dork?”
“Shut your damn mouth.” Todoroki chuckles in spite of himself and presses their lips together one more time.
They do go to McDonalds, and Todoroki manages to score a Deku figurine. Midoriya gets Red Riot and pouts until Todoroki kisses it off his face.
He quite likes this kissing thing.
Todoroki finally lets the relief settle in his bones, because—at least for now—they really do get to have their happily ever after. Todoroki knows he would trade the world for just this one night, but the way Midoriya smiles at him, as though he’s the most precious thing in the world, tells him he’ll have many more evenings to come.