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The only sound at the dinner table was the clanking and scraping of knives and forks against plates. No one spoke, despite this being the first time they’d all been together for a full year. Except mom, of course.


Shoto wouldn’t be here if he had the choice. None of them would be. But their ability to visit mom in the hospital was contingent on them putting in an appearance. Plus it was a chance to see his siblings. So long as everybody behaved, they could make it through one dinner with their father and enjoy the rest of the weekend with each other.


The silence weighed on Shoto. He gnawed on his bottom lip as much as he chewed his food. He had something to say and spent the whole flight home weighing the pros and cons of saying it.


He was dating someone. He met them at a mixer neither of them actually wanted to be at and hit it off. They were the child of successful clothing designers and were a profitable and suitable match for a Todoroki. His father should approve. He’d been bugging Shoto to find someone since high school and he became even more insistent when Shoto entered college.


Except they were a man. And Shoto didn’t know his father’s feelings on his son dating a man.


Touya was the only one who knew. Shoto sent him selfies with Katsuki sometimes and asked for relationship advice since Touya had been in a happy and stable relationship for six years now. Also with a man, though Shoto didn’t know if their father was aware of Keigo at all.


“I’m moving to France,” Touya suddenly announced. Fuyumi and Natsuo looked up with interest, and Enji’s focus centered on Touya.


“Why is that?” Enji asked neutrally.


“To get married to my boyfriend.”


Both Enji and Shoto choked. Oh, no, Touya. You are not doing what I think you’re doing.


But he was. Touya grinned and flashed his left hand, showing off the ring on his finger. Shoto understood his game immediately. He’d told Shoto before dinner to hold off for a bit in telling Enji about Katsuki. He’d said that because he wanted to test the waters. Take the hit Enji might throw instead of Shoto taking on that risk.


Like he’d always done - he pissed off their father and drew his ire so his little brothers and sister didn’t get hurt. He dyed his hair when Natsuo wanted to and Enji dunked his head in the bath and scrubbed his scalp raw. He talked to Enji about visiting mom before Fuyumi could and was slapped to the ground for it. He always, always took the hit before his siblings did.


“Your boyfriend?” Enji spat and fully answered Shoto’s dilemma. Dating a man was not okay in Enji’s eyes. “Have you lost your mind? What kind of legacy can you produce for the Todoroki family married to a man?”


“Hey, that’s your bullshit, not mine.” Touya shrugged. As if it didn’t matter at all that Enji was standing up and looming over him, practically burning with apoplectic rage.


Enji gripped the back of Touya’s head and slammed his face into his plate. He’d eaten most of his takoyaki, but the sauce left behind splattered out along with a spurt of blood from Touya’s nose. The plate cracked, the sound echoing harshly against the dining room walls.


“What the fuck?” Natsuo roared, shoving Enji away and helping Touya tilt his head back. Before Enji could lash out at Natsuo, Fuyumi stood in front of him and began her well-rehearsed script to placate him.


Shoto was frozen to his seat. His hands were shaking. He should say something, Touya did this for him, he should say something. He opened his mouth, unsure of what words were about to come spilling out but he couldn't stand staying silent-


"Fuck off, old man," Touya swore before Shoto spoke. "Smash my face in all you like, I'm still getting married."


Enji's fists clenched. Fuyumi continued in her efforts to calm him, and shot Touya a dirty look over her shoulder. You're not helping, she told him silently. Shoto disagreed. He was helping Shoto instead of himself. He wanted Shoto to shut up and keep Enji's focus off of him. I can take it is what he wanted to communicate.


Shoto shut his mouth. He was ashamed for it. He was an adult and still cowering behind his big brother, letting him get smacked around while the rest of them stayed safe. This damned house - it brought him right back to his childhood. It made him want to run and hide. It made him want to cry.


Shoto, sullen and shoulders slumped, followed Natsuo and Touya to the bathroom, leaving their father to Fuyumi. He’d never hit her before, she’d be fine. It wasn't out of affection for her - he didn’t consider her worth the effort.


“Is it broken?” Shoto asked quietly while handing Natsuo tissues to wipe off Touya’s face.


“Nah.” Touya didn’t have to explain why he knew what a broken nose felt like. “Did that answer your question, kid?”


Natsuo raised an eyebrow. “What question?”


“I have a boyfriend,” Shoto whispered.


“Oh.” Natsuo didn’t need more than that to understand what just happened.


“So now you won’t get egg on your face, yeah?” Touya asked. Likely to make sure his little brother didn’t go poking the tiger out of a sense of responsibility for this.


“Or takoyaki.” Shoto removed a bit of octopus from Touya’s hair and dangled it in front of him. His hand was still shaking.


Touya laughed, then wheezed in pain. “Shit, kid, don’t make me laugh. And don’t sass me, that’s my job around here!” He reached out and ruffled Shoto’s hair, who managed a small smile.


It was alright. It was going to be alright. It wasn’t like when they were kids - they could laugh because they would all leave this house and go back to their lives. Maybe they’d shed a few tears over the memories dragged up by this, maybe they’d rage at the humiliation Touya suffered, but they could laugh right now because it was going to be alright.


Touya would still get married to the love of his life. Shoto would keep dating Katsuki and hopefully find the same happiness Touya did. Natsuo would keep working towards his degree and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. Fuyumi would go back to her kids she adored teaching.


They weren't trapped here anymore. They would all walk away from his cursed house and go back to the lives they built in spite of Enji.


“Come here, kid.” Touya invited Shoto into his arms. Shoto hugged his big brother tight. He was smaller than Shoto despite being older – he'd always been small. But not weak. Never weak.


“It's fine,” Touya assured. “I'm fine. We're all gonna be fine.”


“You know when you say a word too many times, it stops sounding like a real word?” Shoto muttered into Touya's shoulder. “You just did that with 'fine.'”


Touya laughed. "Brat," he said fondly.