Aizawa-sensei had, of course, done his best to keep everyone together - to keep everyone safe.
But Shouto had been born to do this, had had a lifetime of training and, so, when one of the villains was getting away, he hadn't even bothered to ask permission. He'd just shouted that he was going to pursue, and darted after her.
Steps made slick with ice, honed muscles working to push him forward, he caught up in no time at all. Which, of course, should have been his first clue that there was merit to the whole "too good to be true" concept.
Two more people popped out of nowhere (and he was stupid - so stupid - because he knew better), and there was a flurry of ice, fire; knives and explosions and something that looked an awful lot like electricity.
And then blood, and pain, and he was staggering because one of those stray daggers had ripped through his thigh, long enough to stick out the other side on his inner flesh. Instincts kicked in, and he iced it over, musing it must have been laced with something because he felt far too woozy far too soon.
Ducking, he managed to avoid another blade that surely would have embedded into his shoulder and wasted no time in aiming flames at the nearest enemy, letting a crackle of electricity graze his side in his refusal to give up.
It was a haze for a little while, but he was somehow still standing, and two of them weren't; only the original woman was still upright, chest heaving and eyes wild.
Her desperation was palpable.
Out of nowhere, he heard a fierce cry from behind him; wasn't even able to turn around to its source before a flash of green sped passed him, scream steadily tearing through the air.
One punch and she was down, and Shouto thought she was maybe a decent role model in some respects, because sitting down sounded like the best thing he could possibly do right then.
"Todoroki! Todoroki, are you okay?" Hands were resting gently on his shoulders, belying the urgency in their owner's voice.
He nodded, trying to brush the touch away but secretly relieved when they remained.
"I think..." He paused, scrunching his eyebrows, because suddenly he had no idea what it was he was thinking.
"You need to see Recovery Girl," Midoriya was telling him, firmly, and then his voice softened. "Can you stand?"
"'Course," he grumbled, but the thing was he was on the ground in first place due to the fact he couldn't.
Midoriya was eyeing him dubiously - he didn't need to look to know that - but he slowly, trembling the whole way, got himself to his feet. It wasn't until he was up, right knee bent awkwardly to avoid pressure on his wounded thigh, that he realized his success was because of the helpful grasp on his shoulder and had a disconcertingly small amount to do with his own strength.
"We'll wait here to make sure someone can arrest these guys, okay?" Midoriya said quietly.
Maybe he wasn't quiet; maybe Shouto just couldn't hear.
He nodded anyway, head hanging like an anchor on his neck, and really considered that it would cause him to sink back down again.
Time passed, and Midoriya was talking steadily to him about things that didn't make sense but Shouto just kept nodding because Midoriya made these awful, worried, choked sounds any time he stopped.
"'S'drugged!" He exclaimed suddenly, whipping his head up and ignoring the lurch in his stomach. "'S'what I wanted to tell you."
Midoriya looked like he might cry, which was all wrong, because that's not what Shouto wanted, but then Aizawa-sensei was there, and people were there, milling about noisily.
"Can you walk?"
He blinked a few times, unsure of the meaning of the question never mind the answer he should give.
Unfortunately, or, really, fortunately, he never got the chance to answer, because suddenly he was hoisted up in the air.
One arm was cradling his shoulders - fingers digging into his armpit - the other letting his knees drape over its elbow, and his face was lolling backwards before he got the sense to lean it forward, burying it in a soft neck.
"Smell nice," he murmured, feeling the weight of his exhaustion like a physical wave, the way it crashed over him.
"I smell like sweat," came the fond correction, and it rumbled in the chest that his own was being pressed against.
"Mmm. You have freckles on your neck," he commented, trying to use a hand to trace them, but it only flopped awkwardly, and Midoriya was shifting anyway.
He received a response, but he had already passed out before he could learn what it was.
. . .
The next time it happened were under far less drugged, bloody circumstances.
"What's that?" He stopped in his tracks, ears strained.
Midoriya paused as well, a step ahead of him, and turned around with a cocked head.
"What's what - ? Oh," he cut himself off, eyes squinting as though that could improve his hearing.
"I think - I think it's a cat," he decided, scanning the grass off of the sidewalk before landing on the couple trees down the hill.
"I do too," Shouto agreed, and had already shrugged off his backpack and begun slipping down the bank.
Midoriya stumbled to catch up, and shortly after they were at the base of a tree staring up at a mottled-looking cat, mouth stretched into an obnoxious keen.
"I didn't think cats actually got stuck in trees," Shouto commented absently, earning a snort.
"My mom always told me that they're never really stuck, they're just drama queens and like the attention."
It was followed by a fond laugh, and it warmed him to know that Midoriya and his mom were so close like that. It made him want to work that much harder to earn his own mother's love - her laughter - too.
"Well, nothing for it then."
"What do you mean?"
"We'll have to help it out, of course," Midoriya responded, setting his school blazer in a carefully folded square on the grass.
"Didn't you just say they can get themselves out?"
"Well, probably, but you know it's going to bother me if we leave it."
Shouto rather agreed with the sentiment so didn't protest, instead he simply asked, "How do we do this then?"
"Sit on my shoulders."
"I - ...what?" Shouto sounded as blank and confused as he felt.
"C'mon, it's the easiest way to get at it," Midoriya was already squatting down, motioning him over.
And, well, there was nothing for it then, was there?
He crawled on him with ease, panicked anyway at the sensation of warm hands latching onto thighs to stabilize him, just missing the new scar he'd gained from that recent battle. Admittedly, he panicked a little, too, when he was raised up on wobbly legs before Midoriya gained his balance.
"Can you get it?"
Shouto was too busy thinking about the fact he was sitting on Midoriya's shoulders for a solid two heartbeats before he swallowed the dry air around his tongue and got it to work.
"Yeah, I mean I think so. It moved, though," he pointed, and felt Midoriya's head brush up against him as he shifted his neck to look up. Shouto instinctively looked down, and then they were looking at each other, traces of shock and sheepishness and something else before they snapped out of it.
Midoriya's fingers tightened as he shuffled gingerly forward, and even when Shouto successfully had the now-purring cat securely wrapped in his arms, he found himself reluctant to move.
. . .
Relay races had always been stupid, if one were to ask Shouto.
He didn't feel the competition the way everyone else did, and it usually seemed to tear teams apart instead of build them together.
It was All Might's training for the day and, though he still thought they were stupid, he agreed they could use a break after all the vigorous training they'd been enduring of late.
He and Midoriya had teamed up with Momo and Jirou, and they were currently talking about who would pair up with whom for piggy back races.
He thought it seemed rather obvious that he and Midoriya should be the ones to do the carrying, but before he could properly put his two-cents in, it had already been decided that Momo would carry Jirou and Midoriya would carry Shouto.
His brow wrinkled in confusion, but arguing seemed like a waste of energy, so he carefully clamored onto Midoriya's back, felt hands hooking under his knees and let his own arms carefully encircle Midoriya's shoulders.
"You okay up there?" He asked, adjusting his grip so Shouto was even more flush against him.
It never ceased to amaze him how warm Midoriya was, and he blamed that fact for the sudden heat in his cheeks.
He nodded before realizing that it would be missed, and murmured a soft, "Yeah," looking down and thinking that he kind of wanted to bury his face in the fluffy green curls at his chin.
. . .
It'd happened a few more times after that; if there was ever something too high up to reach, the entire class was keen to have Midoriya pick up Shouto in some fashion to reach it. That seemed rather odd, to be honest, and he knew there was more to their motivations that he simply was missing, but he couldn't bring himself to press the subject.
Every time it was brought up, a refusal was on the tip of his tongue, but then he'd take one look at Midoriya's bright eyes, his freckles, and he would nod numbly.
The one instance he had managed to murmur an "I don't know", which has been his closest denial to date, he'd been unheard. By the time Midoriya's arms had wrapped around his waist, his nose prodding into his stomach, and Shouto had rested his knees on the hips supporting him, ankles crossing securely at Midoriya's back, he found himself incapable of saying much of anything, never mind, "no".
. . .
There was something about it that made him feel safe. The comforting heat radiating off of Midoriya, the gentle ease with which he used his innate strength to pick Shouto up despite his heavy muscle, the light touches to secure him into place.
But he wasn't feeling particularly safe right then.
No, he was feeling jittery, and tense, and something that he'd label as afraid if he weren't so numb to it by now. He'd just come from a weekend with his father, and he had been so used to his cozy life at UA dorms that he was wholly unprepared to face it - to face him - the way he had done so naturally for so many years.
He stepped into the first floor common room, drained and cagey and sure to keep his eyes on his feet.
So he wasn't paying attention to the right things, felt his throat close up when suddenly two strong arms were wrapped around his midsection, and he watched his shoes leave the ground and panicked - didn't understand. But then green hair was in his face, and lips were murmuring soft words against his windpipe, and all at once he lifted his legs and his arms to loop around Midoriya, sagging with relief, and hope, and that something else, once he was secure.
Because he was now - secure, that was. Secure with Midoriya, and safe with Midoriya, and his nose was finally burrowed in the green curls like he'd thought about doing so much recently.
They stayed like that, too wrapped up in each other - their bodies, their presence, their heads, any way that counted - to notice the careful but curious looks they were receiving.
"I like it when you hold me," Shouto whispered, didn't know it was a truth until he heard the words out loud for the first time, but it was.
"I know. I know you do," Midoriya whispered back, grip tightening.
"You...can do it whenever you want," it was muffled, and he thought maybe his eyes were trying to dribble tears, but he kept them in by squeezing them shut and digging his knees into Midoriya's sides.
Shouto finally pulled back - didn't drop down - just leaned away to see Midoriya's face and was met with glossy eyes and a watery smile; and it was worth it - it was worth everything - if it got him to this point.
"You can put me down if you want," he offered.
And he promptly did not.
. . .
"You know," Shouto began, adopting that slightly dramatic, whiny tone that he'd learned over the course of spending time with Izuku. "If you keep doing this, I'll have muscle atrophy in my legs."
"Are you complaining?" Izuku asked with a grin, earning a scowl for his cheekiness.
"You know I'm not."
He wasn't, and he hadn't, especially once they became an actual thing. Well, really, they'd been a "thing" long before Shouto realized it, and the whole class insisted they were a "thing" long before Izuku realized, who had been much quicker on the uptake.
But so what if Shouto had a thing for being picked up - for being held?
He thought he was entitled to things like that, as long as Izuku didn't mind.
"You know I don't," came with a soft kiss on the tip of his nose.