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I Bet I Can Love You One-Handed

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The sound of an engine running woke Izuku from a dreamless slumber. He sat up and rubbed his cheeks, feeling dried tear tracks and drool. Maybe his night hadn’t been so dreamless after all. Swinging over to the edge of his bed he leaned over, letting a hand run over the ground until he felt what he was looking for. With a small grunt, he heaved up the prosthetic limb from under his bed, the remaining sleepiness making him pause for a moment and yawn wide and loud. Izuku shook his head to wake himself some more, curls flying every which way, causing his head to resemble a lion’s mane more than that of a young man. As he slid the light-weighted wooden limb over the stump where his right elbow used to be, he stepped on a pedal near him, causing the blinds covering the windows in his room to fly open. Sunlight streaming softly inside, setting everything aglow.

He smiled, the cold from the lack of blankets causing his nose and cheeks to turn a ruddy color of red before he stood to get dressed. Thankfully he had done the laundry the other day, with little fuss from the villagers, so the lapels he would be wearing that morning wouldn’t be as irritating as usual. As he carefully worked his right sleeve over his prosthetic, someone knocked on his bedroom door. In walked his wonderful mother with two steaming cups of tea in her hands. She always knew what he needed before he realized it himself.

“Thanks, Ma! Just give me a sec, the sleeves on this coat are kinda tight,” Izuku said determinedly, tongue sticking out slightly until he finally got his arm through. With a small sigh in relief he put on a pair of silk gloves and took a mug from her, blowing on the tea before sipping it. Ah- peppermint. They stayed quiet and enjoyed the peacefulness of that morning. That is, until a cacophony of rattling came from the room downstairs causing the both of them to put down their drinks and check it out. Izuku frowned and bit his lip when he saw that the noise came from the ‘Self-Heating Furnace’ he’d been trying to perfect for the past two months.

Izuku ran back upstairs and grabbed his notebook and pencil, writing down possible causes for the noise and problems that may occur in the future. He opened the chamber door, wincing from the heat the coals radiated and switched the furnace off. Next time, he’d build a switch on the outside of the body.

“I think the problems coming from the conversion from coal to energy, or heat, but I’m not sure why,” Izuku said aloud. “Either the coal is too sufficient a power source or the gauge reading it itself is wacky. I’ll try replacing the gauge first as that would be the safest option but if that doesn’t do the trick than I’ll disassemble the machine and start from scratch,” He sighed and ran a hand through his curls. “Again.”

His mom approached him from behind and rubbed his back in comfort, “You can do it, honey. I’ll always believe in you.” She kissed his head. “Just make sure you don’t burn down the house like last time, okay?”

He turned to her looking aghast, “There was barely a speck of ash on the ground!”

“The thing caught on fire, baby. We were asleep. You’re a smart boy, you do the math.”

Izuku puffed out his cheeks as he sulked, “At least we made it out alive. I only had to replace a rocking chair and repaint the ceiling.”

Inko’s eyes twinkled in amusement as she watched her only son pitifully defend himself. Kissing his head once more, she made her way to the kitchen and opened the ‘Self-Icing Ice Box’. “What do you feel like having for breakfast, Ace”

“Some eggs would be wonderful! Thanks!”

Izuku had to run downtown to purchase some more blank notebooks and paper for his research when he passed the bookshop. The back of his neck prickled with want, but he tried to ignore it for the sake of his mission. Emphasis on tried. Not ten seconds after, he entered the store, only the jingle of the doorbell alerting to his presence. He held his hands together as he slowly walked around, eyes scanning over the spines of various titles ranging from Shakespeare to Sophocles. The colorful bindings and musky air each book held never ceased to comfort Izuku since he was young.

He ran a gloved hand over the stacks of books until he found one that was a bit of a guilty pleasure of his. A romance novel about a man in the sky and a princess on earth. She could have entire kingdoms fall to their knees for her if she wanted them to but all she really wanted was for him to notice her and fall in love with her as she had with him. The ending was bittersweet; the princess dies of old age, after years of pining for the man in the stars only to end up watching the world with him, learning that he had fallen in love with her too. Izuku’s father had read this to him when he was baby, or so his mother tells him.

He could really only vaguely remember flashes of a scruffy jaw and green eyes, likes his. Sometimes he liked to imagine if his life would be any different with a father around until he deduced that it wouldn’t. He was as stubborn as he was smart, his choices were his own to make. But he would have liked one.

Would like one.

Sniffing once, he tried pulling out the book with his prosthetic but became frustrated with himself when he found that he still couldn’t make fine movements with the hand. He tried again and failed. And again, and again. As stubborn as he was dumb, he should say in the future.

“Need a hand with that?”

Whirling around with a guilty evident on his face, Izuku saw an old friend with purple hair standing bemusedly behind the front desk. “Do you happen to have one on you? Mine seems to like being uncooperative this morning.”

Shinsou blinked, a frown twitching at his mouth before he responded with a humorous, “I’ve got two right here.” Lifting his own in the air.

Izuku giggled at this, a blush threatening to creep up from beneath his collar. Ah, yes. The other reason why he loved this bookshop. “Well, come on then. Don’t keep a customer waiting!”

Chuckling, Shinsou walked over and elegantly pulling the book from its spot on the shelf, flipping it over to see the cover.
“A fine choice. I just had this copy re-bound and detailed so it’s definitely worth checking out. Would you like to?”

Izuku continued to stare at the cut jawline before him. Blinking, he shook his head, “Yes? Sure? What?”

Shinsou smiled, eyes going half-lidded as he tilted Izuku’s chin up. Redness blossomed from under the green-haired boy’s cheeks as he gulped.

“I asked,” he murmured, “If you wanted to check the book out?” One of his fingers teasingly dragging down from Izuku’s Adam’s Apple to the base of his chest.

Squeaking— as if he wasn’t mortified enough, Izuku nodded his head wildly.

Shinsou’s smile widened as he patted the young man’s chest before slinking away to the register.

Oh, mercy on his heart. The same one that seemed to be doing a very good job at pumping no blood to his brain.

Izuku followed the bookkeeper until he was standing across from him, dazedly handing him the correct amount of change and stepping out of the shop with a story clutched in his hand.

He gulped and looked around nervously as he tugged at his shirt collar, desperately trying to get rid of the feeling like he was choking.

Looking back through the window he saw Shinsou placing books on their shelves before a woman his age approached him with one from his box. He took it from her, kissing her lips so sweetly it made Izuku’s physically feel his heart was being spat on and set aflame.

Izuku should write a novel about how to not pine over boys that were already married, engaged to be married, or are boys in the 1700s.

He wondered if Shinsou would sell it for him.

Izuku wandered through town, trying to reason with himself after the heartbreak that occurred only moments ago.

You know he’s married. He’s been married for 2 years now.

But he must be unhappy, right? I mean, I’m bad at registering social cues but that straight up seemed like he was flirting with me.

Maybe he’s just trying to be the guy that has the mistress. He’s reached that period in his life.

Maybe he’s sexually frustrated and treats me like a toy because it gets him off.

Now you’re seeing it my way. I promise you’ll be so much better off tha-

I wouldn’t mind helping him not be sexually frustrated.

… I can’t believe we just thought that.

He was too busy berating himself to notice the extra pair of eyes on him.

Todoroki Shouto, dubbed oh so kindly as ‘The Handsomest Bachelor In Town’, kept behind a wall as he watched Izuku weave himself almost effortlessly through streets bustling with activity. Throat drying when he noticed a stream of dirty rainwater rushing down towards the mumbling boy, only to be easily deflected by a quick smack of the sign overhead. The muddy water spraying everywhere but him and yet his wise eyes still did not look up. Not a stain threatened to mar such perfect cheeks and, to Todoroki at least, he glowed. An angel walking among men.

It was like this every time he saw him.

All grace and wit. At least, coming from the one he was vying for. Here he was, gripping a bacteria-infested wall like it was the only thing keeping him upright when Izuku was around.

Whenever Izuku was within spying distance, he felt like his body was split into two very different parts. One made him feel like he was on fire; all passion and need and want him close by to hold and to talk to and-

The other was frozen ice-cold, muting his tongue and making him lurk in dirty alleyways. To see him. This boy, not quite turned man, who made the ten-minute trek into town to buy equipment, sat against a tree in the nearby park to write, and entered a bookshop every Monday morning like clockwork.

All rituals and Renaissance thinking.

Todoroki wasn’t stupid; however, he knew why his fancy went into the bookshop. The man with the silver spoon and the man with the silver tongue. Both powerful, yet dangerous; able to influence any and no thing. Shinsou Hitoshi did not deserve the heart of a scientist. Nor did he deserve to play with it, married or otherwise.

But he gritted his teeth and steeled his gaze on the man, hyper-focused on the way this playboy held himself around Izuku. Irritation and protectiveness warped in him, silent as shadows usually were.

Then Izuku would exit the shop, dazed and unharmed with a new book in tow (Todo liked to guess what title he’d picked out when he went), and everything went back to normal.

Todoroki was just like him in the sense that he was all shyness and pining. At night, he would ponder his hopes to the sky and in the stars, he would see Izuku’s eyes twinkling down at him. Mischievous and magnificent.

Todoroki couldn’t order servants to clean the shoes on his feet or make people bow when he entered a room, but he could order fine silks and spices from abroad. He could bargain and barter with shops from different lands to sell his father’s products with a flick of a quill. He was powerful in his own right and had helped build his father’s company from the ground up.

And yet.

and yet.

He wished he could look into Izuku’s eyes and see love instead of a reflection.

He would ponder some more that night.