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He stands at the precipice of courage. In his childhood, strength was the silent perseverance through pain, the refusal to back down when faced with adversity. The way he feels around Izuku terrifies him in a new way.

Without consciously making the decision to do so, he let his walls drop. Or rather, they were broken down, and he never managed to put them up again.

And it’s all Izuku’s fault.

Shouto is hardly well-versed in love, but he’d have to be a fool not to recognize it when it’s already rooted so deeply within his heart. He speaks the word in his head, but has yet to speak it aloud. He thought he knew fear. He thought he knew strength. But the prospect of losing Izuku in any way mutes his words and sets his heart shivering.

He holds their friendship close and finds himself securely within 1-A’s social sphere. I’m not here to make friends, he said. And yet now, he finds himself surrounded by them — though Izuku will always be the first.

But losing their friendship is one thing, while losing Izuku’s is something completely different. Just standing beside Izuku gives him courage to face everything except for baring his feelings. He can stand beside Izuku and support him, but struggles to risk baring his feelings.

Little by little, he tries to tell Izuku without telling him — to show him the depth of his care without putting it into words. Little by little, he realizes that irregardless of the way Izuku feels, he can still offer his support. That the thing important to him isn’t Izuku returning his feelings, but rather, it is Izuku’s happiness.

With that thought solidified in his mind, he stands facing Izuku. He stands at a precipice with the unknown laid out below. But with the certainty of knowing his feelings, he’s no longer afraid of falling.