Actions

Work Header

Like a Hammer on a Glass Piano

Work Text:

Like a Hammer on a Glass Piano

         “Who’s telling Shouto about the Midoriya kid?” Touya asks the week before Shouto is due back from his European vacation.

         The three eldest Todoroki siblings all stare at each other cagily across the kitchen table, no one daring to move lest the others pounce on the twitch and dump the task of explaining the Successor Situation to Shouto on the unfortunate twitch-er. 

         “What’s up with the Midoriya kid?” Keigo asks, like an idiot, wandering into the kitchen eating ice cream directly from the carton.

         “Hawks can tell him!” Natsuo says, pointing at the interloper.

         “Tell him what?” Keigo asks around the spoon in his mouth.

         “Ha! Natsuo tried to dump it on Kei, that means Natuso volunteers!” Touya declares, pointing at his brother.

         “What? No! That is literally the opposite of what I suggested!”

         “Dump what on me?” Keigo asks, “What’s wrong with the Midoriya kid?”

         “Nothing’s wrong with Izuku,” Fuyumi assures him.

         “Yumi! Tell Touya he can’t make me do it!”

         “I’m the oldest, I can make you do whatever the fuck I want!” Touya declares.

         “I can’t believe they let you near children,” Natsuo grumps.

         “I’m a guidance counselor. I guide and I counsel.”

         “So, you should be the one to tell Shouto.”

         “Nope, you already volunteered. I’m saving my therapist energies up for the school year.”

         “I still don’t know what’s happening,” Keigo observes.

         “That’s fine, honestly,” Fuyumi says, “Just eat your ice cream.”

         Keigo sits down with his ice cream and takes another bite.

         Fuyumi folds her hands and lets her brothers argue it out. At least this way, she won’t have to do it, no matter what happens.

         Natsuo loses the argument.

         “Okay, Natsu,” Fuyumi says, “You know what this means, right?”

         Natsuo slumps in his seat, “I have to pick Shouto up from the airport.”

         “And?”

         “And explain that Dad has chosen a successor and it’s the little green-haired gremlin.”

         “Maybe don’t call him a little green-haired gremlin when you do it.”

         “He’s a gremlin. He has green hair. He’s little. I see no problem with this.”

         Fuyumi sighs. “Just don’t forget to pick Shouto up from the airport.”

         “I won’t.”

         “And explain everything. And I mean everything. There’s a good chance Shou will be in the same class as Izuku. They need to get along.”

         “I know. I got it. Pick up Shouto from the airport. Explain the successor thing. Easy. That’s like two things. I can remember two things!”

         “Can you, though?”

         As it turns out, Natsuo cannot.

         Shouto, after waiting an hour in the arrivals lounge at the airport, gives up on Natsuo’s punctuality and just calls Hawks’ agency.

         “Hawks’ hero agency, how can we help you today?” the perky receptionist answers.

         “Hi, can I talk to Hawks?”

         “What is this regarding?” the receptionist asks, never losing her perkiness.

         “Natsuo forgot me at the airport.”

         This dims the woman’s perkiness only slightly. “Can I ask who’s calling?”

         “Shouto. Todoroki Shouto. Hawks knows my brother. And my dad. And my mom. Can I please just talk to Hawks? I’ve been at the airport over an hour, I don’t think Natsuo is coming.”

         The receptionist, perkiness well and truly quelled, transfers him to Hawks’ phone.

         “Is there a reason you didn’t call your brother?” Keigo asks when he lands, “Or your dad? Or your sister? Or Nighteye? Or, like, literally anyone else?”

         Shouto shrugs, “Touya will give Natsuo more shit for this if I waste your time.”

         Keigo deflates theatrically, “And here I was thinking you just thought I was the coolest.”

         “Nope, I’m mostly aiming to shame Natsuo without getting him in any real trouble.”

         “I respect that, little buddy,” Keigo says.

         Keigo also forgets to tell Shouto about the Midoriya kid, but in his defense, he was never told what exactly Shouto was supposed to know and he figures just saying “so this green haired kid exists,” would not have been helpful.

          Natsuo would like it to be known that he did not deliberately leave Shouto at the airport. He was going to pick him up, he swears. It’s not his fault a bridge collapsed. It’s also not his fault that he’s spent the last ten years surrounded by obnoxiously heroic people and his first instinct upon seeing a catastrophe in progress is to pull over, park his car and jump out yelling “I know CPR!” and help the EMTs triage wounded civilians.

         It is his fault that, upon seeing one of the responding heroes walking towards him he immediately loses all powers of speech and maybe walks into a car.

         “You okay there, buddy?” one of the EMTs asks him.

         Natsuo blinks a couple times, rather stupidly. “Mount Lady…”

         “Oh, yeah, she and Kamui Woods typically respond to this kind of thing,” the EMT says with good humor, “you a fan?”

         A fan? Hell yes, Natsuo is a fan. Mount Lady is his celebrity crush and has been since her debut last spring. Every time his family drags him to some hero event he’s torn between desperately hoping she’s there and will see him looking suave and cool in his tux and desperately hoping she’s not there because, knowing his family’s track record, he’ll probably trip and fall into a vat of shrimp cocktail sauce the moment she looks at him.

         He nods dumbly and is very glad Touya and Fuyumi aren’t here to mock him. “Yeah,” he croaks once he gets his voice working. “She’s very. Um. Strong.”

         “Well, she’s coming this way, if you want to say hi.”

         Say hi, die, you know, either might happen. Natsuo is open to all options at this point. Oh, god, he’s covered in weird filth from the traffic accident, isn’t he? He’s covered in weird filth and about to meet the hottest girl in the universe. Is this how Hawks felt when he met Touya? Very stupid and covered in disaster grime?

         “Hey, cutie,” Mount Lady says, “I haven’t seen you around here before, you new?”

         Natsuo looks over his shoulder, assuming she’s talking to someone else, just sees his new friend the EMT giving him a thumbs-up and looks back at her, feeling very stupid. She’s shrunk down to her regular height, the top of her head about even with his chin, but there’s something imposing about her confident swagger. Natsuo wonders if it’s too late for the ground to open up and swallow him.

         “Oh, you mean me?” Natsuo says because he has apparently not reached his quota for stupid today.

         “Yeah, you, hot stuff,” she slugs him in the shoulder. His arm goes a little numb, but he’s used to that kind of thing. His siblings are not always cuddly. “It your first day or something?”

         “Oh, uh, kind of? This isn’t actually my job,” Natsuo is babbling, he’s babbling and she’s still looking at him and he wants to die. There’s a little smudge of dirt or something on her cheek. It just makes her cuter. “I’m a medical student. I was just driving past and thought I’d help.”

         “Aw, don’t go saying that kind of stuff where the cameras can hear you,” she laughs, (she laughs, Natsuo’s soul may leave his body) “You’ll give us pros a run for our money.”

         And suddenly he’s casually chatting (Chatting! Casually!) with Mount Lady, and all thoughts of Shouto and airports and green haired problem children have officially left Natsuo’s brain. No thoughts, head empty.

         Natsuo may feel a little bad about this later, but right now the hottest heroine in town is asking him out for coffee and he’s not saying no.

         Shouto’s first days back are…strange. Not bad, necessarily. But jarring in the way returning from a long time away can be. Maybe. Shouto has never been away from home for this long before, so he has no frame of reference really. But there’s definitely something different about the home he’s returned to as compared to the home he left. Like he stepped off a carousel only to step back on in a slightly different spot. Or something. Shouto isn’t great at metaphor.

         This calls for an investigation, he decides.

         Step one, studying his family members.

         Fuyumi is the first, mostly because she’s the most accessible and the least likely to lie.

 

Shouto’s Investigation, Subject 1: Todoroki Fuyumi

         Subject is not distressed. Some tension, most likely related to the upcoming school year, when she starts work as an independent teacher with her own class for the first time. Subject seems to be excited about this eventuality. Subject is rarely at home as she is busy with school related work. Subject views this investigation with wry amusement. Investigator is not amused by subject’s amusement. Subject ruffled Investigator’s hair when he mentioned this, which was not appreciated.

         Conclusion: Nothing is amiss with Subject Todoroki Fuyumi. Will look elsewhere.

 

         Well, that was a bust. Shouto moves on. Next up is his mother, due mostly to proximity. He’s already in the apartment building and so is she.

 

Shouto’s Investigation, Subject 2: Todoroki Rei

         Subject appears to be thriving. Subject provided Investigator with many hugs and snacks and distracted Investigator from Investigation. Investigator will allow it because he missed Subject more than he anticipated.

         Point of Curiosity: Subject mentioned having made a new friend in Investigator’s absence. New Friend apparently has a son Investigator’s age who is taking the UA entrance exam soon. Subject expressed a hope that if New Friend’s son enters UA Investigator will attempt to befriend him. Investigator reminded Subject that he is not very good at making friends, people just seem to follow him around and talk at him until he gives in. Subject was not convinced by this extremely convincing argument. Investigator might have to talk to a random stranger at school. Horrible. Maybe Ejirou can do it instead. He likes people.

         Conclusion: Subject has some incorrect notions of Investigator’s social prowess but does not otherwise seem unhappy or distressed.

 

         Shouto tries to move on to Natsuo, but no matter his persistence, his stupid brother never seems to be home anymore. So, he caves and writes down his conclusions en absentia for the sake of moving things along at a reasonable speed.

 

Shouto’s Investigation, Subject 3: Todoroki Natsuo

         Subject is unreliable and NEVER AROUND. UGH.

         Conclusion: Natsuo sucks and also probably has a new girlfriend because his dopey face has gotten dopier. Probably nothing wrong with him other than being a JERK.

 

         Shouto is temporarily distracted from investigating his family members when Bakugo calls to bitch about someone in his life acting like a cagey weirdo, much like the rest of Shouto’s family. They spend about an hour contemplating whether or not it’s a massive conspiracy and whether or not it’s ethical for Bakugo to hang his childhood friend upside down by his ankles until he admits why he’s avoiding Bakugo and not answering Bakugo’s very reasonable (and very loud, knowing Katsuki) questions. Shouto ultimately decides that probably falls in the realm of ‘villainous behavior’ and Bakugo gives up on the idea. When he finally hangs up with his friend (after Bakguo assures him, with varying degrees of excessive volume, that he will TOTALLY CRUSH/EXPLODE/ANNIHILATE the UA entrance exam) Touya and Hawks are home for dinner and Shouto can interrogate them.

 

Shouto’s Investigation, Subjects 4 and 5: Todoroki Touya and Hawks

         Subjects are morons as usual. Hawks clearly wants Touya to ask him out. It’s so obvious even I – I mean, Investigator – can tell. And I’ve been reliably informed I’m oblivious.

         Also, I totally asked Hawks why the fuck he’s being a weirdo and he said that he doesn’t want Touya to feel like he’s been cornered into a romantic relationship with him which…okay. That’s…whatever. It’s not like they don’t SPEND ALL THEIR TIME TOGETHER ALREADY, something Touya does VOLUNTARILY or ANYTHING. So, he’s leaving all these conversational openings where Touya could ask him out, but Touya doesn’t because he’s a moron and also because Hawks is being really weird. Is too late to get a new family? One that isn’t dumb?

         Ahem. This is getting off-topic.

         Point of Interest: Subject Touya mentioned the beach getting cleaned up by a person or persons known only as ‘Midoriya’. Subject Touya expressed annoyance with the beach clean-up as this means people will be using said beach for recreational activities. Subject Hawks stated that Subject Touya will need to find a new place to “be a broody edgelord” in. Investigator has to agree with Subject Touya, though, the beach was nice when no one visited. I – um, Investigator needs to find a new desolate, abandoned place to run in the mornings. Ugh. I probably shouldn’t be using a voice recorder to record this investigation. Transcribing this will be a bitch.

         Subject Touya did not elaborate on who ‘Midoriya’ is, because Subject Hawks was doing something distracting. Will investigate further another time.

         Conclusion: Subjects are morons. ‘Midoriya’ seems suspicious.

         Follow-up: Asked Subject Hawks who Midoriya was. Subject said “Oh, the little green-haired guy. Training with your dad. About your age.”

         Which.

         What.

         Did Dad…replace me? No, that’s insane. Is it? I don’t know.

         Follow-up 2: Ejirou says Dad would never replace me, because he loves me. It’s probably just a new intern. I said love is fickle and fleeting and he gave me a tragic look and hugged me for an uncomfortable amount of time.

         Conclusion 2: Dad has some kind of protégé (possibly a replacement for me? Why? Am I not satisfactory? I know I came in second in the recommendation tests, but Inasa was really good, and Dad was the one who stopped me from training until I passed out, so that’s kind of on him, right? Right?)

 

         Shouto is troubled by the revelation that his father has picked up a protégé in his absence. He asks Fuyumi about the mysterious ‘green haired kid’ and she says “Oh, Midoriya, he’s a real sweet kid. Just like Dad, really. Always smiling.”

         Which. Suggests an alternative explanation. One no less troubling than the (upon further reflection) somewhat outlandish notion that his adoptive father would just…replace him with a random other teenager. If he was going to trade Shouto in for a better model he could have definitely just…not adopted him. Thinking otherwise is illogical and Mirai has taught him to be logical in all things. Well, tried to. There are times when he’ll tell Mirai his theories and Mirai will just sort of stare at him with a blank look of utter incredulity.

         But what if Fuyumi’s statement that the interloper is ‘just like Dad’ is code? What if it’s more than a propensity for smiling? What if it’s instead…50% of the interloper’s DNA? What if, instead of getting a new adoptive son, Toshinori has instead discovered a long-lost or unknown secret biological son? Toshinori is honorable to a fault. He’d of course try to make up for lost time with his hitherto unknown progeny. He probably feels guilty for not knowing about them in the first place. He’s probably trying to do the right thing.

         But why hasn’t he told Shouto about it?

         Maybe.

         Maybe he’s worried that Shouto will think he’s being replaced? Or maybe Shouto is being replaced. Shouto has always been the most different from Toshinori. Always the quiet one, the skittish one, the one who lashes out unexpectedly, who doesn’t trust easily. All the temper of Touya with none of his big brother’s charisma. He doesn’t have the soft strength of Fuyumi or the big-hearted generosity of Natsuo. He tried to tell his mother, he’s not good at people. He’s not very loveable, really. The only person who’s just understood him without questions or judgment is Mirai.

         So, Shouto goes to Mirai, sits on the couch in his office and curls his knees up to his chest, resting his chin on top of them.

         “I think Dad is replacing me.”

         “He would never.”

         “I know.”

         “He loves you.”

         “I know.”

         “It’s hard to remember sometimes, isn’t it?” Mirai says. People say Sir Nighteye is harsh and inscrutable, but Shouto remembers the earliest years of his childhood with painful, unnatural clarity. He remembers tiptoeing around Endeavor’s moods, waiting for the next burst of unexpected, unprovoked violence. Mirai is nothing like that. Mirai is predictable, careful, measured in all things. Mirai has never hurt him, never would hurt him. Mirai is comforting in his cool rationality.

         Shouto nods into his knees.

         Mirai comes over and sits beside him on the couch, wrapping both long arms around Shouto’s shoulders and pulling the teenager’s head down to rest against his chest. “No matter what, you are Toshinori’s son. He loves you. Toshinori’s heart is vast. There is no upper limit on love, not real love, you understand? It’s not a finite resource.”
         “But who even is this Midoriya kid? Why does he get part of my dad?” Shouto knows he sounds petulant and childish, but in his defense, he is a child and he wants to know why his dad hasn’t been around as much, why he’s spending his time on this other child, this stranger.

         Mirai opens his mouth, ready to respond, to explain, when the alarm above the door blares, announcing an all-hands-on-deck hero emergency.

         “We’ll continue this conversation later, okay?” Mirai says, squeezing him again before standing to answer his ringing phone.

         “Okay,” Shouto mumbles, but he isn’t sure he wants his questions answered.

         It’s the next day and Eijiro is freaking out.

         “I’m gonna fail, I’m gonna fail, what was I thinking? My quirk is so stupid and useless, I’m gonna fail!!!”

         “Well, you’re definitely going to fail with that attitude,” Mina declares, despite Shouto elbowing her.

         “Gee, thanks, Ashido,” Eijiro grumps.

         “You’re not going to fail,” Shouto sighs, “My family was willing to recommend both of you to take the pre-test with me and Momo. You’re the ones who wanted to take the regular test.”

         “Yeah, because I’m gonna crush it!” Mina declares, flexing a bicep.

         “That’s because your quirk is awesome. You’re awesome,” Eijiro says, “You’re totally gonna crush it!”

         “Hell yeah!” Mina cheers, Eijiro following suit.

         Shouto is hoping hyping up a friend – Eijiro’s favorite activity – will distract his friend from his anxiety spiral. Shouto hopes in vain.

         Eijiro slumps in place, “I don’t know what I was thinking. Trying for UA.”

         Mina groans, “Dude, what happened to the crazy kid who spent like half of kindergarten throwing himself into ice walls to try and knock out a tooth? That guy would be psyched to kick test butt!”

         “That kid actually knocked out a tooth. On an ice wall!”

         “Yeah, but you were right back at it the next day!” Mina says, “You two were totally crazy when we were little! What happened?”

         Eijiro looks at Shouto, who shrugs. The truth is, while Mina was pretty much universally admired throughout school, effortlessly popular and confident through sheer force of personality, they were… not. Shouto was the weird kid and Eijiro was his loud friend. Mina had been in a different class from them, their recess and lunch periods the only scheduling overlap they had during the school day. She didn’t really see the way people steered away from them, or, in Shouto’s case, needled him about his celebrity dads and mysterious mom. She stepped in whenever anyone was a shithead in front of her, but for the most part it had been Eijiro and Shouto’s island of two, separate from the rest of the school. Shouto hadn’t minded, really, but he’d seen the toll it took on Eijiro’s confidence, his vivid personality dimming until it only really flared bright when it was just them.

         “I guess I just figured out my limits, you know, as a person,” Eijiro says to his sneakers.

         “Well, time to un-limit you!” Mina says, taking his hands in both of hers, “Because you’re one of the coolest kids I know, and I know a lot of cool people.”

         Eijiro gives her a tiny smile and she beams back at him. They’re such a study in contrasts, Mina all bubbly and pink, wearing a leopard print shirt and a sparkly black skirt, Eijiro in his worn jeans and faded Red Riot t-shirt.

         “Hair,” Shouto blurts out. Both their heads swivel his way and Shouto blinks at them.

         “Yeah?” Mina asks.

         “Well…” Shouto shrugs, “Touya dyes his hair blue. And our first day of kindergarten I tried to shave off my red side because,” he waves his hand vaguely, “Negative connotations. Point is, I wanted to be a better, more confident version of me. So, I changed my look. Like, I did it really wrong and six-year-olds shouldn’t cut their own hair, but the idea is good, right?”

         Mina squeals, “Yessss! Makeover for my boys!”

         “Since when are we your boys?” Shouto huffs. “And what do you mean makeover for both of us? I look fine.”

         Eijiro has brightened too, “I could dye my hair red! Like Crimson Riot! New school, new me! Hell yeah! Makeover time!”

         “You two are gonna look so good!” Mina bounces in place.

         “Please do not make me a part of this,” Shouto insists.

         “No, it’s time you stopped dressing like a grandpa,” Mina declares, “New year, new you, Shou.”

         “But –”

         “Come on, buddy, it’ll be fun.”

         Shouto gives up. If it makes Eijiro feel confident for the entrance exam, he’ll let Mina drag him through a mall for the day.

         It’s a lot more than a mall. And more than a day. Somewhere along the way, haircuts are involved. Eijiro is styling his hair into a spikey red…thing now. He seems very happy. Shouto has an undercut now and he is…not unhappy with it. The buzzed-short bits are very soft.

         Eijiro buys some very bright, very ugly clothes and insists on wearing them in combinations guaranteed to cause blindness to at least one pedestrian. He has never seemed more comfortable in his own skin. Shouto’s eyes may never be the same.

         Shouto does not buy new clothes, because dammit, Mina, he will wear his grandpa cardigans if he damn well pleases. And also, because he can’t dress too trendy or Touya and Hawks will start fight over how to “style” him and if he’s going to get those morons together sometime this century they can’t be bickering over Shouto’s “look”.

         They go back to Eijiro’s house and collapse in the living room under half a dozen shopping bags and the pleasant weight of a day well spent in the company of friends.

         “Feeling better?” Shouto asks Eijiro.

         “Yeah,” his first and best friend says quietly, “Yeah, I’m feeling better. More me, you know?”

         “Sure,” Shouto agrees. Then, after a pause, “You’re going to crush this exam, you know.”

         “Hell yeah, I am.”

         Bakugo calls at four am the day of the entrance exams because he’s a monster in human skin.

         “What?” Shouto growls in the phone when he answers it, not caring about rudeness. Polite pleasantries are for people who don’t wake him up before the sun.

         “I found out what was up with the damn nerd.”

         Shouto flops back down onto the bed. He’d sat bolt upright when he thought there was a chance that someone was dying or there was an emergency. Now, he’s going to lie here like a decomposing log on a forest floor and try to tune out whatever Bakugo wants to screech about.

         “What?” he asks, knowing that open-ended questions will allow Bakugo to carry the conversation (which is what he really wants, anyway) while Shouto slowly drifts back into a half-asleep doze.

         “So apparently he’s not quirkless at all.”

         “Uh-huh.” Shouto only has tangential knowledge of Bakugo’s ongoing rivalry-friendship with the person referred to only as ‘the damn nerd’. He’s never met the other boy, doesn’t think he even knows his name, and doesn’t expect to ever need to.

         “Yeah, apparently you can have some kind of latent quirk or whatever that can express itself in fuckin’ high-stress situations or something. Like hysterical strength or something, only once it’s active and shit, you can’t turn it off. And most people it kinda wrecks their bodies since the quirk’s never been used and shit. Apparently, the damn nerd’s got one of those, and All Might saw it when I almost got swallowed by the sludge monster so he’s been training Midoriya and shit in secret.”

         Shouto’s eyes snap open. “Who?” he asks.

         Bakugo scoffs, “You’d better not be falling asleep on me, Icy-Hot!”

         “No, what was that name?”

         “The damn nerd. You know, Midoriya.”

         “You’ve never said his name before. It’s always ‘the damn nerd’.”

         “That’s what you’re focusing on here?!?!? The damn nerd has a secret quirk!!!! He’s been training with All Might!!!!! BEHIND MY BACK!”

         “I trained with All Might for years. He’s my dad. Why are you jealous now?”

         “Because it’s the damn nerd! What the fuck, what the fuck, what the FUCK. We grew up together, we don’t have secrets, I know everything about that punk and now he’s sneaking around not telling me shit? It’s because of the sludge monster, it’s because he thinks I’m a weakling now, fucking – ”

         “Katsuki,” Shouto says sharply, he’s got plenty of his own thoughts about this Midoriya and his sudden onset quirk (is it a strength quirk? Is that how All Might knew this was his secret son?) Shouto’s theory is looking more and more accurate and he doesn’t know what to do with that information. “You need to breathe.”

         Bakugo takes a ragged breath on the other end of the line. “He’s gonna leave me behind. He’s always fuckin’ looking down on me.”

         “Is he looking down on you, or are you just projecting all your insecurities onto him?” Shouto asks bluntly, thankful for Touya and his psychology textbooks now.

         Bakugo growls into the speaker.

         “Yell at me and I’m hanging up,” Shouto says bluntly.

         Bakugo releases the breath he’s holding. Takes another. And another. “Shut up,” he finally grumbles, “I hate it when you’re smart.”

         “You’re the one who harassed me into being your friend,” Shouto huffs.

         “And I regret it every damn day.”

         “Can you regret it at a decent hour? I want to go back to sleep.”

         “Yeah, yeah,” Bakugo huffs. He pauses, takes another breath. “Nerd says he’s trying for UA too. Guess I’ll see what this shiny new quirk of his can do at the entrance exam.”

         “What kind of quirk is it?” Shouto asks.

         “Some kind of enhancement, strength thing. I don’t think he really knows. Normally he’ll ramble for days about quirks, but his seems to kinda freak him out.”

         Strength enhancement. Fuck.

         “Well,” Shouto says, trying to be reasonable, “If I suddenly had a whole new quirk I’d never had before, I’d be freaked out too.”

         “I wouldn’t. I’d just be twice as awesome,” Bakugo blusters, but it sounds a little hollow to Shouto’s ears. The other boy is unsettled by this. Bakugo never did like change.

         “It’ll be okay,” Shouto says.

         “Well it fuckin’ has to be, doesn’t it?” Bakugo grumps.

         “Yeah,” Shouto says, but it’s his turn to sound hollow to his own ears.

         For the record, when Mirai came up with the mostly-but-only-kind-of-true explanation for Midoriya to give Bakugo re: his recent quirk acquisition, he’d sort of assumed Shouto would have heard the truth before hearing the Bakugo-safe story. Mirai was wrong, but that’s not his fault.

         Shouto wonders who he should tell about his suspicions. Should he just confront his dad and lay it all out there on the table? No, that sounds bad. Backing Dad into a corner isn’t a good idea. He’ll get all flustered and the conversation will go nowhere and then he’ll run off, because that’s what he does when he’s uncomfortable. He runs away. Fuyumi will walk on eggshells, concerned about hurting Shouto’s feelings (which is insane, Shouto is more offended that his entire family seems determined to lie to him about his dad’s secret love child than that the secret love child exists.). Touya is unpredictable when it comes to truth-telling, and anyway, he’s one of the staff members on hand for the exams, so he’s gone by the time Shouto wakes up for the second time, having gone back to sleep after hanging up with Bakugo. Natsuo is also missing, but that’s fine because Shouto still hasn’t forgiven Natsuo for ditching him at the airport. His mother is probably still asleep and Mirai is at the office while All Might is on UA’s campus for the practical exams.

         Shouto sends off quick ‘good luck’ texts to all his friends, and sits as the breakfast table, where Hawks is destroying an omurice omlette and wonders what he’s supposed to do now.

         “Is it weird for you to eat eggs when you’re basically a bird?” Shouto asks, for want of something else to say.

         “Nah, birds eat other birds’ eggs in the wild all the time. Circle of life, little buddy,” Hawks says, trying to wipe ketchup off his face and instead smearing it worse.

         Shouto nods, sips his tea, and pokes at his breakfast. “I think Midoriya is All Might’s secret love child,” he says.

         Hawks blinks, tilting his head like a curious bird, “Well, stranger things have happened.”

         Shouto sighs and drinks more tea.