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The first time you saw him, you thought he was beautiful.

Five-year-olds have a vague idea of what beauty is, but somehow you knew he was beautiful the moment you first laid eyes on him.

It was purely done on accident–one of your playmates threw a ball at you at a speed that you didn't handle, and instead of catching it with your small arms, the ball caused impact on your head and made you fall over. You laughed and looked up at your playmates to tell them you were fine, but then your eyes caught sight of the traditional house right across the street where you were playing. Upon closer inspection, you saw a boy, maybe about the same age as you were, standing on the wooden balcony with his hands clutched on the railing. A smile was upon his lips.

He was what one would describe as odd. His hair–red on the left side of his head and white on the right–was odd. His eyes–a vibrant turquoise hue colored his eye while a cold gray was present on his right eye–was peculiar.

Yet you–a five-year old who still doesn't grasp the concept of beauty–found him beautiful. So beautiful that you found yourself staring at him for a few moments, not minding the curious gazes of some of your playmates and the others' attempts to regain your attention to the game.

He, too, was looking at your direction, perplexed as to why a girl from across the street was staring at him so intently. Before he discovered his answer, a rough hand pulled one of his arms away from the balcony railing and dragged him inside the house.

You looked on silently at the boy dragged aggressively by a man with tongues of fire on his face. For the last time, however, you saw him look back at your direction.

His smile was gone, his expression forlorn.

He disappeared after a slide of a door.

In that moment you knew.

You had to know his name.

----

Todoroki Shouto.

"Mama, mama, there's a boy living across the street with white and red hair and two differently colored eyes!"

A soft smile graced your mother's lips as she gave you a glass of water to drink to refresh you from your afternoon playdate.

"Really (f/n)?" she asked, feigning curiosity.

"Yes, mama! He was... um... what's the word..?" you trailed off to say the word on the tip of your tongue.

"Odd?" your mother finished.

"No, that's not it."

"Then what?"

You stayed silent, looking at the glass of water with intent, hoping to find the word suitable to describe the boy. Your mother looked at you with curious eyes.

"Was he... beautiful, (f/n)?" she asked.

A spark seemed to go off in your head and you looked at you mother with a twinkle in your eyes.

"He was beautiful..." you tested the word on your tongue before bursting out with joy. "Yes, mama! He was beautiful!"

You smiled as you downed the glass of water with satisfaction and handed it back to your mother.

"Do you know his name, Mama?" you asked suddenly, tiptoeing to meet your mother's eyes.

Your mother set the glass down in thought. She must've heard from the neighbors about a boy with red and white hair and differently colored eyes living across the street. Now if only she could remember the name...

"Todo...roki, was it? Ah wait, I remember now. Todoroki Shouto. His name's Todoroki Shouto."

Todoroki Shouto.

You said the name slowly, testing how it felt on your tongue.

"Todoroki Shouto."

Your eyes twinkled again in delight the moment his name left your lips.

Even his name was beautiful.

----

The second time you saw him, he had a scar on his face.

A light breeze touched your skin gently as you rushed outdoors one morning where you had woken up earlier than usual. You took a deep breath as your feet planted themselves on the street outside your house, filling your lungs with fresh air, and exhaled with satisfaction as the morning air left you feeling more refreshed than usual.

That’s when you saw him.

Right across the street, standing behind a cast-iron gate, illuminated by the sun’s rays.

Staring at you.

The morning sunlight touched his face and emphasized his facial features in morning light. But, there was something that caught your attention. Something you didn’t see from the moment you first saw him.  Something odd.

A jagged, red mark covered a rather large region around his left eye.

He looked hurt.

You took a small step toward him, as if to test the waters between you. You had a condition: If he would flinch or react even the slightest, you wouldn’t pursue it any longer and leave.

He didn’t.

So, you took small steps toward him, every move calculated and careful. Your eyes didn’t leave his form, examining him as you walked toward him. He didn’t react with every step you made.

He just stared.

Moments later you were right in front of him, barely close enough that he could reach you. Only the cast-iron gate was separating the two of you. With only a few inches of distance from each other, you noticed his eyes were blank, devoid of any expression.

“Hello, Todoroki-san,” you greeted warmly, hoping to initiate even the smallest of conversations.

He blinked, lips parting slowly as if to form words.

You then realized your mistake.

“You… how did you know my name?” he asked. There was a barely visible expression coloring his heterochromatic eyes with a bit of vibrance… surprise, maybe?

Your cheeks flushed red with embarrassment, lips trembling and voice stuttering as you struggled to form coherent words. “A-ah! S-sorry ab-about th-that, I..I..”

“Speak slowly.”

You gulped, deeply breathing a few times to regain your composure and started to speak again. “Ah, the thing is…my mama happened to know your name and told me when I asked her.”

There was a new expression present in Todoroki’s eyes, you noticed, as his eyes lit up fractionally.

“Why?” he inquired again, as he looked into your eyes, seeming to search for the answers he was seeking in them. His childish curiosity was getting the better of him.

You were silent for a while, debating on what you were going to say to him. If you were to say the wrong thing, it would break the conversation, and you might not see him for god-knows-how-long, and that might be a long time. Maybe never.

You wanted to see him again.

“I saw you two weeks ago while I was playing with my friends on this street,” you began, slowly enunciating the words as if to test how they would sound. “I…wanted to…see you again.”

Silence.

Deafening silence.

You felt a pang of fear well up in your stomach as you heard your words echo back. Oh no, you thought. Maybe that didn’t sound right.

He’s still staring, but the tiniest of expressions were gone. His eyes have gone blank again.

Oh no. That definitely didn’t sound right.

“A-ah! I’m sor—” you managed to stutter out before his voice interrupted your apology. “What’s your name?”

You stand in silence for a few minutes, this time however, avoiding his eyes and trying to hide the redness that dusted your cheeks in embarrassment. Todoroki slightly tilted his head to the side, waiting for your answer.

“I’m (l/n) (f/n),” you finally said after a few moments of silence.

He nodded slowly and whispered under his breath. Your ears caught syllables of your name being repeated in his hushed whispers.

The sun was starting to warm the surroundings when he turned to leave wordlessly.

“Wait!” you exclaimed suddenly, attempting to make him turn back. Your heart leapt when he did.

“Can I see you again?” you blurted out, barely keeping your emotions under wraps for too long. Todoroki saw your eyes hold a small glimmer of hope.

“Yes,” he replied softly, holding your gaze with his briefly. His voice held no tone of hesitation.

“Same time… here in front of your gate?” you asked, expecting to feel a sense of definitiveness of when you can see him again.

He gave you the smallest of nods before he walked off, disappearing from your line of vision.

You smiled in content, as you slowly made your way back to your home, a renewed energy coursing through you.

Even the smallest of nods was enough confirmation for you.

----

You found yourself waking up when the sun barely peeked over the horizon every morning.

Todoroki would be in the same place every morning, behind the cast-iron gate of his house, waiting patiently for your appearance. And, every morning, without fail, you would always show up almost immediately, greeting him with a smile. “Good morning, Todoroki-kun!”

He would always nod to acknowledge you but would stay silent.

Todoroki wouldn’t talk much either when you were having conversations. You talked about almost everything, from your quirks to how your day went to other random things you would ramble on about with your childish bubbliness.

But you would never talk about family. You had attempted, however, in the first few days you got to talk to him, but he evaded the topic so suddenly that you never pursued it again in fear that you would never get to talk to him again and go back to square one in getting to know him more.

Todoroki doesn’t voice it out though, but he enjoys your company. He’d listen to your rambling on and on to distract him from other things, even though he wouldn’t usually reply and be silent for most of your conversation.

After a few weeks of early morning talks, he asked if you could be friends.

“Eh, aren’t we already friends?” you asked in bewilderment, your small hands clutching on the railings of the gate, wide eyes staring at his.

“We are, (l/n)-san?” it was his turn to ask, eyes holding the same bewildered expression as yours.

“Well,” you started. “We talk about almost everything…and we are getting to know each other more every morning. You always listen to me when I talk, and I’d listen to you. Besides…” you trail off, attempting to find the right words to say.

“Besides, I’m happy when I’m with you every morning, Todoroki-kun.”

Todoroki stood still, as you smiled warmly at him. He noticed how your eyes sparkled in the morning light as you smiled.

Though Todoroki doesn’t talk much, he felt he was at a loss for words. He was hesitant to say anything that may break the friendship he realized you have shared for a very long time that only grew whenever you met every morning.

He was afraid to say anything that may make him lose the only friend he had.

“Friends make you happy, don’t they?” you said cheerfully.

The boy glanced at you, feeling a warm feeling bubbling inside him. Before he knew it, his lips had upturned into a small smile.

“In that case, (l/n)-san, we’re friends now.”

----

Today wasn’t like most days.

You stood still, unmoving, even as the sun had begun its steady rise to place itself in the sky. Still, there was an unease that pushed you to the brink of confusion. Your eyes remain fixed on the cast-iron gate.

There was an unusual emptiness behind the cast-iron gate. You waited.

“Shouto-kun?” you called out. Your voice faded in the emptiness.

You had resigned to calling Todoroki by his first name after you had grown accustomed to your early morning meetings and realized the friendship that was cultivated by the morning talks. He was hesitant to call you by your first name, but he eventually got used to it. He still adds the honorific “-san” out of habit, which you didn’t mind.

There was a lump in your throat as you waited for him to arrive at his usual spot behind the gate. Still, you didn’t move, your small feet planted firmly on the ground.

The sun had started to warm your skin when you realized that he wasn’t going to appear.  

----

Every morning, out of habit, you still wake up before the sun peeked out over the horizon.

Every morning, out of habit, you stand in front of the cast-iron gate. Out of habit, your heart drops to find it empty.

You don’t realize how long you’ve been doing these things out of habit until the first year you started middle school.

“Again?” your mother asked you as she saw you reenter the house after yet another futile attempt to see Todoroki again.

You nodded slowly, before sitting down before the dinner table. You placed your chin in your hands and let out a sigh. Your mother sat down beside you, her hands finding their way to your hair to stroke it gently.

“You’ve been doing this for how long?” she asked.

“I dunno,” you mumbled under your breath in reply.

Your mother looked a you with eyes glassed over with concern as she continued stroking your hair to comfort you.

“At first, I thought it was a habit that would fade eventually with your childhood,” she explained. “But then I noticed it still continued even as you started elementary school. It’s been years (f/n), and you’re thirteen now. You’re still continuing a habit that started when you were five.”

In her tone, you deduced that she obviously wanted you to stop your childhood habits and move on.

But you can’t help but feel that you wanted to see him again.

“I’m sorry mama,” you whispered softly as you stood from your chair, escaping from your mother’s touch.

“I haven’t told him that I found him beautiful yet.”

----

On the morning of the first day of your third year in middle school, you tried to force yourself out of old habits.

You didn’t wake up in the early hours of morning, neither did you walk outdoors to stand at the cast-iron gate across the street.

Still, you found it tempting to stare at the gate as you stepped outside to go to school. You tried avoiding looking at it for too long as you started walking the route to school.

Your pace slowed to a stop when you were a few steps away from the gate. You craned your neck to look at the gate for a moment. But, your gaze lingered. Lingered for too long.

Before you even realized that your eyes were on the gate for too long than you intended, you caught sight of him.

Behind the iron-cast gate.

Staring at you.

“Shouto-kun.”

Chapter Text

It’s been ten years since you last saw him, and you still found him beautiful.

His hair had gotten slightly longer, bangs falling just a little over his eyes, yet still dually colored with red and white. The scar from ten years ago was still prominent on his face. His heterochromatic eyes were blank, blank as you remembered seeing it ten years ago.

He’s still what one would call odd, but you, you still thought he was beautiful.

Todoroki’s gaze fell away from yours briefly. You watched as his hands unfasten the lock on the cast-iron gate and open it with a squeak before closing it behind him. His eyes turned to yours again as he stepped slowly toward you, making your breath hitch.

He stopped once he was a few inches away from you. His eyes, you noticed, never left yours.

Todoroki was close, close enough to touch. So close that you were tempted to brush your fingers over his skin to know if he was real or just some sort of mirage.

The cast-iron gate had long become a non-existent boundary between the two of you. You were now both standing on the same side of the road.

“Shouto-kun,” you repeated softly, your voice just above a whisper. You said his name almost desperately, as if he was going to disappear from your sight in mere seconds.

You didn’t want him to leave. Not now.

Not when you’ve finally seen him again.

“(f/n)-san,” Todoroki replied, voice holding no emotion. Yet his voice was rich and deep, in stark contrast from his slightly high-pitched tone you would rarely hear from your early morning conversations in your childhood memories.

You never failed to notice how he changed so much in ten years.

You had to stifle a giggle threatening to bubble from your throat when you heard him say your name. He hadn’t strayed away from old habits and still added a formal honorific at the end of your name. Even so, hearing your name fall from his lips didn’t fail to make your heart skip a beat. Or two.

“It’s been so long, huh?” you mused, directing your gaze to your feet as you rocked on your heels back and forth. You felt a lump uncomfortably lodge in your throat. Your heartbeat became erratic.

“Yeah,” was his only reply.

A pause.

Silence.

Uncomfortable silence.

Your lips parted in an attempt to say something again, but you felt your uneasiness grow by the passing second that you decided against continuing the conversation. Your heartbeat seemed to thrum in your ears as the silenced pressed against you.

Todoroki, still unaware of the chaos ensuing inside of you, stared. His eyes scanned your form (that was currently avoiding his gaze), unconsciously taking note of how you’ve changed from your past meetings ten years ago. He may or may have not noticed how you looked very different from before, how your eyes seem to shine more in the sunlight at present, or how your cheeks were rosier than before.

He may or may not have thought your smile was the only thing that didn’t change from ten years ago. A familiar feeling of warmth rushed through him.

That’s when he noticed something.

“(f/n)-san,” he called, trying to get your attention. Your head whipped up in surprise, eyes meeting his again.

“Yes?” you replied. You prayed he didn’t notice how your reply was rushed.

“You go to Koudei, too?”

You raised an eyebrow at him in confusion, but your expression changed the moment you realized that his eyes were fixed on your uniform. You let out a surprised gasp as your eyes fell on his uniform too.

“I… You… We… go to the same middle school?” you stammered, barely recovering from the initial shock.

“Apparently,” Todoroki said shortly. His fingers absentmindedly fiddled with the top button of his gakuran as he spoke.

“Ah, how come we don’t meet then?” you asked.

“Different classes, maybe?”

You sighed in exasperation as you ran your hand through your hair in frustration. The two of you were studying in the same school for two years and you barely noticed until now. If only you knew long ago then…

“(f/n)-san, we have to go. We’re going to be late.”

You seemed to snap out of your wishful thinking as you glanced at Todoroki when he started walking, passing by you with a few steps. You came to your senses and ran to catch up with him, positioning yourself only a few inches behind him.

The walk was silent.

You didn’t realize how you found the silence comfortable now.

----

You found yourself with new morning habits.

You would wake up just as the sun has started to place itself in the sky and start to get ready for school earlier than usual. You would leave home thirty minutes earlier than before and find Todoroki standing outside the cast-iron gate, patiently waiting for your appearance.

Just like ten years ago.

“Good morning, Shouto-kun,” would be your usual greeting. A nod would be his usual answer.

The two of you would walk together to school, Todoroki starting a few paces ahead before you, with you at least one step behind him.

Never walking beside him.

Todoroki found it strange that you would never walk beside him, but he never bothered to bring up the topic. He’s sure you have your reasons.

You do; however, you would never tell it to him.

Short conversations would sometimes be made but most of the early morning walks to school would be done in silence. You didn’t mind it, even though you would always prefer talking to people you are with. You found yourself enjoying Todoroki’s company even in silence.

The morning routine ends when both of you would separate at the shoe lockers with no farewells exchanged.

You would always be hesitant see him leave.

----

For some reason, you rarely get to see each other at school.

When you do, however, it’s only a brief encounter in the hallways. No conversations exchanged. Just a meeting of eyes for a few seconds. Sometimes you would smile. Other times, Todoroki’s eyes would linger on yours for a few seconds longer before he would continue passing by.

Every encounter left an uncomfortable feeling of emptiness swirling within you as you saw him only at fleeting moments at school.

Like now.

You watched him pass by you, stopping briefly for a few moments to acknowledge you, the proceeding to go on his way. You followed him with your eyes staring at his passing form before disappearing.

The emptiness engulfed you again. First came the wishful thinking. Then, the incomprehensible breaking. Finally, the repeated longing.

He left you longing for the next morning. And the next. And the next.

It was the mornings when you could be with him.

Just for a little while.

----

“(l/n), I’m concerned about you.”

You avoided your homeroom teacher’s eyes and hung your head low. Guilt started chipping away at you slowly as your teacher handed you a piece of paper.

“You’re the only one who passed your form blank, with only your name written on it. Don’t you have any plans after graduating middle school? This is your future we’re talking about, (l/n).”

You stayed silent and stared at the piece of paper. The blankness of it stared back, almost mocking your indecisiveness. Your teacher looked at you, eyes glossed over with concern.

“I called you here because I want you to decide on your future. You have good grades and an equally impressive quirk, (l/n). It would be a waste not to decide,” your teacher continued.

“Sorry, sensei,” you mumbled as your hands tightened around the piece of paper.

“Turn that in by next week, at least. I’m counting on you (l/n).”

“Yes, sensei.”

You bowed low, before turning to leave the staff room. You stopped near the door, however, when you caught a glimpse of white and red.

Todoroki was talking to his homeroom teacher when you saw him. There was a smile on his teacher’s face as the conversation progressed, while Todoroki, as usual, held no obvious emotion, but if one would look closely, they would see a spark of delight in his eyes.

You did look close enough to see it; it may or may not have warmed your heart a little bit.

You didn’t realize how long you’ve been watching him from the other side of the staff room until he said his farewell to his teacher and gave a light bow, before he started to leave the room.

He stopped when he saw you standing near the door and nodded lightly to acknowledge your presence, just like your short encounters down the hallways. You smiled.

“Hey, Shouto-kun,” you greeted with a small wave.

“What brings you here, (f/n)-san?” he inquired. His fingers hooked on the handle of the door and slid it open. He motioned you to pass through first, which you obliged, before he stepped out of the room after you, closing the door behind him.

“Apparently, I have no future,” you said nonchalantly as you showed him the blank paper in your hand. Todoroki looked at the paper, then to you, and shook his head.

“You should think more about those things, (f/n)-san,” he chided.

“Yeah, yeah.” You blinked. “What did Haruko-sensei talk to you about?”

You saw the spark in his eyes again. There was a fluttering feeling in your chest.

“I was recommended to be admitted at UA,” Todoroki answered. There was an emotion slightly lacing through his voice.

You gasped in surprise and your eyes widened. “U-UA? That fancy school for aspiring heroes?!”

Todoroki nodded to answer your question as you struggled to contain your overflowing happiness for him. You knew being admitted to UA was a privilege in itself and being recommended to be admitted to UA was a great honor. You knew there was so much potential in him for him to become a pro hero. You knew his entire life has been mapped for him from the very start.

You knew he had so many opportunities waiting for him and equally great honors to achieve.

“I’m happy for you, Shouto-kun.”

When the bell rang to signal the end of the lunch break, the two of you went on your separate ways, no farewells exchanged.

By the time you entered your classroom, you made a beeline to your desk and rummaged inside your bag to find a pencil.

You found yourself filling up the blank form before the afternoon classes started.

To be admitted to UA.

----

On the morning of your last day of your third year in middle school, you found yourself breaking an old habit.

Todoroki walked steadily ahead of you. You were both enclosed in the usual silence that you had come to love every morning.

It may be the last morning where you would be enclosed in quiet solitude with him. There was no reassurance that there was another morning where you would be with him again.

The few inches between you became a distance you found too far. You only noticed it now.

Slowly you moved forward, taking one step at a time. You moved until you could match your pace with his, until you found yourself walking beside him.

Todoroki glanced at you, his eyes seeing a warm smile upon your face. The corners of his lips turned up slightly. There was a distinct, yet comforting presence by his side which didn’t bother him much. The walk continued.

Before you separated in front of the shoe lockers, there was one farewell said.

“Bye, then,” Todoroki whispered. He turned to leave.

You stood still in front of the lockers. Your lips didn’t part to reply. Your head didn’t nod.

-----

You didn’t see him during the closing ceremony, let alone after it.

On the last day of your third year in middle school, you felt a different emptiness wash over you.

First came the wishful thinking. Then, the incomprehensible breaking. Finally, the repeated regretting.

On the last day of your third year in middle school, you haven’t told him that you found him beautiful.

Chapter Text

You couldn’t rid yourself of old habits again.

You woke up as the first rays of sunlight spilled over the horizon. Spared a glance out of the window. Looked wistfully at the cast-iron gate.

Unlike frowning like usual to find it empty, you smiled.

You made your way downstairs to the kitchen. There was a soft sizzle coming from the kitchen, coupled with a few metallic clinks. An aroma wafted through the house. You peeked inside the kitchen. Your mother was unusually awake at this hour.

“I figured you’d be awake,” she said as she noticed you peek in. “Sit down, I’m making omelette rice. It’d be done soon.”

You obliged, sitting at the dining table. You watched as your mother busied herself in the kitchen, your ears catching a tune she was humming to herself as she cooked. Soon after, she placed a plate in front of you along with a pair of chopsticks. The omelette rice was still steaming.

She took a seat beside you as you began eating your meal. She noted something different about you this morning.

“You’re smiling, (f/n).”

You stopped mid-chew, raising an eyebrow at her in confusion. Your mother chuckled lightly at your expression.

“It’s just that…I noticed you’ve been frowning every morning during the summer. Ever since the day after the closing ceremony,” she explained.

“I didn’t,” you replied. You took a few bites of food at a faster pace.

“I’m your mother, don’t lie to me.”

A pause.

“You missed him, right?”

You coughed a few times and scrambled to stand to get a glass of water. Your mother looked at you, amused at your behavior, as she watched you down the glass of water in one gulp.

“Mama!” you exclaimed as you recovered from your coughing fit.

“What? I did nothing wrong,” she said innocently.

“You…You surprised me!” you accused.

Your mother laughed at you. You sighed exasperatedly as you returned to the dinner table. Your chopsticks hovered over the plate before they clattered against the wood of the table.

“Maybe I did,” you mumbled softly. “I didn’t want to bother him during the summer. He’s probably busy preparing for the school year at UA.”

“Like you are.”

You looked at your mother as she gave you a warm smile. Her hand held yours. “I’m proud of you, (f/n).”

You gave her hand a gentle squeeze and smiled. “Thanks, Mama.”

“But,” she began, looking at you with a serious expression. “That doesn’t mean you have to forcefully push yourself to your limits even though you’re now going to UA. I’m worried that you would overstep your boundaries again.”

“Mama, I had to, back then,” you replied, releasing your hand from your mother’s grip. “It was the only thing I can do to ensure that I can be admitted to UA.”

Your eyes looked at your hand. A long, jagged scar stretched across your palm. Memories flashed in your mind.

She sighed, her eyes softened with worry. You picked up your chopsticks again and slowly finished your meal. Breakfast passed in silence.

As the last morsel of food disappeared from your plate, your mother spoke again.

“You’ll see him again today, right?”

You set your chopsticks down, gently this time. There was a smile unconsciously forming on your lips. A spark unknowingly made your eyes shine.

“Yeah.”

----

It seemed that everyone had their reasons why they enrolled in UA. Everyone in the hero course aimed to become pro heroes. One student in your class, an arrogant loudmouth who seemed to be angry at anything, wanted to surpass the current top hero, All Might. Another student in your class wanted to impress ladies.

You asked your friends their reasons during a lunch break one day.

“Well, I never thought about it that much, (f/n)-chan,” Ochako, one of your newfound friends, replied when you asked her. “But to tell you, I think I enrolled here because, like everyone, I wanted to become a pro hero. And becoming a pro hero means so much to my family. I can help them with the money I will receive if I become a pro hero.”

You smiled. The usual Ochako. Always putting others before herself. Her overflowing kindness made you become friends with her in the first place. You looked back at the first day of school where she came up to you and asked for your name. Her smile was bright and warm, as if she was welcoming you. She then became the first friend you made at UA.

“How about you, Midoriya?” you asked another friend of yours. The emerald-haired male sitting across you jumped in surprise. You had to stifle a giggle at his shocked expression. He was, as always, jumpy and nervous, but like Ochako, you knew he had a kind heart. He exhibited that during the entrance exams when he saved Ochako from a robot, even though time was running up and he still hadn’t gained any points. You wanted to get to know him since.

“Well, it’s my dream to become a pro hero, I guess.” Midoriya said shyly, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. “Why’d you ask, (l/n)-san?”

Both Ochako and Midoriya looked at you as they waited for your answer.

“Nothing in particular. I was just curious,” you replied, avoiding their gaze and let your eyes wander around the bustling cafeteria.

“How about you, (l/n)-san? Why’d you enroll at UA?” Midoriya asked again, letting his childish curiosity get the better of you.

You fell silent and directed your gaze back to them. Your eyes met Midoriya’s, then Ochako’s. Both had the same curious expression as they anticipated your answer.

“I…I don’t know,” you muttered softly. Your eyes swept across the cafeteria again, until your gaze fell on someone on the other side of the cafeteria. You were unaware that both of your friends were trying to get your attention when they realized your thoughts were directed to something else.

To your surprise, Todoroki noticed you staring from the other side of the cafeteria. As always, he nodded to acknowledge you. Your eyes met his heterochromatic ones for a brief moment before he turned away. Your eyes lingered on him more than they should be.

Everyone had their reasons as to why they enrolled in UA. Everyone had good, practical and heroic reasons. You chuckled dryly, amused at your own reason, that was neither good, practical nor heroic.

You wanted to tell him that you found him beautiful.

----

He’s grown distant somehow.

The cast-iron gate remained empty every morning whenever you snuck a glance at it on the way to school. You understood that he was too preoccupied with his training to accompany you to school like back then in middle school.

Maybe he was growing out of old habits.

Still, you can’t help but feel your heart sink.

You would greet him every morning when he would arrive at school. Todoroki would respond with a soft hum as he would sit in the desk beside you. Your lips would part to start a conversation, but the words would not come. The words would never come.

Silence.

Uncomfortable silence.

On most occasions, would be no words exchanged for the remainder of the day. You would sometimes initiate short conversations which he only replied to with a hum, a nod or a short sentence. Some conversations you started when you were required to speak to him, like during group projects in class and during basic hero training. On most occasions, your only encounters with him were made in silence. Lingering stares. Brief moments of eye contact.

You felt the silence suffocate you.

----

The silence of the empty classroom pressed in your ears.

You had watched your classmates disappear one by one through the classroom doors until the room had been left to its present state. Some of your classmates had looked at you in confusion before they left, seeing you still sitting on your desk, unmoving. Ochako’s and Midoriya’s eyes had turned to you, concerned. They had remained standing at the door, waiting for you to stand. It was until Iida had said to them that it was best they leave you alone. They were the last to leave the classroom.

You didn’t know how long you were sitting on your desk until your eyes turned to the windows to see the last rays of the sunlight spill through the glass panes and turn golden as it started to disappear behind the horizon.

You didn’t know what you were thinking about at present. Your chin was in your hands as your eyes remained fixed on the windows, as if in deep thought, though all your thoughts were muddled up until you’ve lost grasp of what you were thinking of in the first place.

The door of the classroom slid open unexpectedly, pulling you out of your reverie. Your gaze turned to the door, your lips releasing a small gasp when you saw someone enter. The dull blankness of gray and turquoise met your eyes.

Your scattered thoughts suddenly pieced together one by one.

All along, all you were thinking about was him.

Him.

“S-Shouto-kun,” you stuttered. You stood up suddenly, the chair scraping against the wooden floor.

“Still here?” Todoroki asked in confusion. He sidled to the desk beside you, picking up a textbook atop the wooden table and placing it into his bag. You watched him intently, your eyes never faltering from his form. The waning sunlight filtering from the windows touched him gently, making it seem as if he glowed.

How could one be so beautiful?

“(f/n)-san?”

You blinked, snapping out of the seemingly enchanting trance he appeared to pull you in. He was staring at you, his head tilted slightly to the side in confusion.

“A-ah,” was all you managed to say.

There was a pressing feeling in your chest. Words formed themselves in your thoughts, aching to be said.

“I’m going to leave now, (f/n)-san,” Todoroki announced, swinging his bag over his shoulder. He took a few steps toward the door. It echoed through the empty classroom.

The peculiar feeling pressed in your chest deeper. It felt heavy. More words formed in your mind.

“I have to tell you something before you do, Shouto-kun.”

Todoroki stopped just as he was only a few centimeters away from the door. His eyes turned to you slowly. His only response was a soft hum, spurring you to continue.

“I…” you began slowly. You swallowed thickly and wrung your hands before you continued. “I always thought…when we were kids…” You inhaled gradually, filling your lungs with fresh air in an attempt to calm your nerves. The words fell steadily from your lips.

“I always thought I found you beautiful.”

Silence.

Deeper silence that ever before.

Your chest still felt heavy. Words still formed. They were begging to be said.

Wait.

No.

That’s not it.

Todoroki’s heterochromatic eyes held no particular emotion. His lips formed no response.

He only nodded.

Todoroki’s footfalls echoed. They were loud in your ears at first but gradually faded to silence. Soon, you were staring at the empty space where he was.

Wait.

Wait.

“Wait!”

Your voice, loud and demanding, reverberated through the empty classroom. You ran through the classroom doors and into the empty hallway. You hoped he heard your desperate demand.

He did.

Todoroki was standing a few meters away from the classroom. He didn’t look back, but he stood still. Waiting.

“I..”

The words ached to be said. So much.

“I…love you.”

The heaviness in your chest was gone. No more words formed in your mind.

He turned to you slightly but didn’t look back at you directly. His eyes, unfortunately, were unsurprisingly blank. The blankness of them consumed you.

“I’m sorry,” he said, just barely above a whisper.

His voice held no emotion at all. Unsurprisingly.

Your eyes followed his form as it disappeared. Not once did he look back.

You didn’t know what came first. Was it the tears? Or maybe the shattering. The breaking. The suffocating.

Suffocating.

There was something slowly clouding your lungs. You gasped desperately for air as your hands closed around your neck. You felt an itching sensation creep up your throat slowly. One of your hands flew to your mouth as a cough left your lips.

A drop of blood fell from the hand on your mouth.

Followed by a few petals of white carnations striped with red.

Chapter Text

There was a sudden addition to your morning routine the next morning.

You woke up with your throat dry and raw. There was the distinct taste of blood on your tongue. Petals of red and white striped carnations were strewn across your pillows. You inhaled shakily. Expelled a cough. Another petal fell from your lips. The same striped carnation – white striped with red.

It reminded you of him.

You coughed again. Not one petal fell from your lips, but two. You could feel something bloom in your chest, filling your lungs and shortening your intake of breath.

You can’t let him take over your thoughts.

If you did, you would suffocate.

You gathered the petals on your pillows with your hands. There was an empty glass container by your desk. You let the petals fall from your fingers and into the container. It filled no more than an eighth of the transparent vessel.

You wondered how something so beautiful can suffocate you.

You didn’t spare a glance at the cast-iron gate outside your window. You didn’t need another reason to remember him.

You then realized you will meet him eventually at school.

A cough. Three petals fell into your palms. They were dropped into the glass container. A sigh.

----

That morning didn’t go as usual.

There was silence prevalent over the dining table that morning. There was none of the usual chatter with your mother. Breakfast proceeded in unusual silence. Your mother spared a few concerned glances at you as she watched you barely touch your food.

You only had a few bites of your meal and a glass of water before you left the house with only a whisper of a farewell to your mother.

It was unlike usual.

Your classmates always anticipated your enthusiastic greetings once you entered the room every morning, but that morning was different.

There were no words that came from your lips even as you walked into the classroom. There was an unusual silence present that you dared not to break. Your classmates watched as you wordlessly slipped into your desk, hoping that you would say a word or two like what they used to hear every morning.

Still, silence.

Your eyes were directed to the front, staring at nothing in particular. If one would look closer, they would see your eyes were blank.

It was unlike usual.

Many times did Ochako attempt to approach you and inquire of your strange behavior that morning. It was until Midoriya held her wrist gently to stop her from making any more advances and shook his head. A wordless signal to say that it was best she leaves you alone for a while. Still, Ochako’s eyes would turn to you from time to time to check if you were alright.

You didn’t know when you would.

Soft footfalls reached your ears. With a rhythm so familiar, you knew who it was without looking.

Unlike usual, you didn’t turn toward him to acknowledge him, or even greet him a good morning. You remained silent, pursing your lips into a thin line and stared blankly at the front of the classroom.

Unlike usual, Todoroki turned to you. His lips parted to speak. A barely audible “Good morning,” was said.

He settled in the desk beside you. His eyes never left you, waiting for a reply.

There was none.

Instead there was silence.

Unsettling silence.

You dared not to speak, in fear of letting the petals release from your lips if you did.

----

There was a blooming sensation in your chest that you couldn’t ignore.

Your breath came out in short intervals, struggling to intake oxygen to fill your lungs. But your lungs were slowly being filled with flowers that you found it difficult to breath with ease. Some of the petals in your lungs came up to your throat, causing a burning sensation. You swallowed thickly, trying not to cough.

Not now. Not in the middle of class.

You gripped your pencil tightly and strained your ears to listen to the discussion. You took notes to distract you from the burning in your throat and the clouding in your lungs. Your wrist moved at a rapid pace, spelling your notes out in haphazardly written kanji.

Snap.

The lead of your pencil broke off rather loudly. A few of your classmates looked at you, including Todoroki. They glanced at you for a few seconds before turning their attention to the discussion again.

Todoroki, however, still had his eyes on you.

The usual blankness in his eyes was not present, instead, he had a soft look of concern glazing over his heterochromatic orbs as he gazed at you. Todoroki paid no mind to the present lesson, yet he focused on you. You and your strange behavior he wasn’t used to.

It bothered him.

You were aware of his heated gaze but paid no attention to it as you struggled to breathe in slow but sharp breaths. You refilled your mechanical pencil with a new lead and refocused on the discussion. Your wrist moved fast as you wrote your notes, but not too fast to avoid breaking the lead once again and catching anyone’s attention again. Although you were quite aware you have caught the observation of a particular person you didn’t want to focus of.

More petals came up to your throat. You suppressed a cough threatening to fall from your lips.

Snap.

The lead broke off again, softer this time, but loud enough for the people beside you to hear. However, they were too absorbed in the lesson to notice.

Except for –

“Are you alright, (f/n)-san?”

Your throat felt like burning. Your lungs felt full. Your breath came out in short bursts as you struggled to keep a steady pace of breathing. The petals in your throat increased in number.

You coughed, your hands flying to your mouth to catch the petals escaping from your lips. The now familiar taste of blood was on your tongue. You coughed a few times more, with more petals falling into your palms. You pressed your hands closer to your mouth to prevent the petals from falling and being noticed by anyone.

The class was silent, save from your audible coughing. You felt twenty-one pairs of eyes stare at you. You tried to muffle the noisy coughs escaping your mouth, but to no avail.

“(l/n)-san,” your teacher began, her eyes looking at you with the same concern everyone had. “I think you need to go to the infirmary.”

“Ah, n-no need, Midnight-sensei,” you stammered, words still muffled (but still loud enough to hear) by the hand over your lips.

“Nonsense!” Midnight yelled suddenly, staring at you with her hands on her hips to feign authority. “Todoroki-kun, please accompany (l/n)-san to the infirmary.”

The said teen nodded and stood from his seat. He stretched his hand to you for you to take but you ignored it, standing from your seat suddenly and making the chair scrape against the floor. Your hands fell from your mouth and were shoved into your pockets. Your lips were pursed tightly, subduing another cough that threatened to break out from your throat. You stalked out of the room, with Todoroki following you at a short distance.

Your rapid footsteps echoed through the empty hallways, mingled with Todoroki’s steady footfalls. You clenched your teeth tightly in annoyance at the company you didn’t want to have.

You stopped at the stairs abruptly and turned to Todoroki, who stopped promptly when you did. Your eyes met his. Todoroki’s breath hitched in his throat as he saw your eyes were unusually blank. You, however, didn’t notice how his eyes held a bit of emotion in them.

“Shouto-kun.” Your voice, unlike usual, was devoid of emotion. It was cold.

“Leave.”

Todoroki blinked, confused at your sudden command. He advanced a step closer to you, as if going closer to you would say that he would not leave.

“Shouto-kun, please.” Your voice was firmer, but still cold. “Leave me.”

“I…won’t,” he answered softly. A step.

Petals started to come up to your throat again. Your breath came out in short gasps but still, you tried to breathe at a normal pace. You don’t want him to see you crumble right in front of him.

Crumble at the fact that you were hopelessly in love with him and it was slowly suffocating you.

“Is this about yesterday?” he asked. There was another emotion present in his eyes.

“Leave me, Shouto-kun,” you repeated, your voice breaking as you enunciated his name.

“If this is about yesterday, I’m -”

“Please, Shouto-kun,”

“(f/n), I’m -”

“Leave me be, Shouto-kun!”

Your voice reverberated through the empty hallway. You ignored the itch in your throat as petals came up from your lungs. You stifled a cough by swallowing thickly to alleviate the itch in your throat for a while.

Todoroki stared at you, lips parted to speak, yet pursed when the words he wanted to say died on his tongue. He bit his lip as his eyes lingered on you for a short while before he tore his gaze from you and started turning away from you. His steps faded into silence, as he, himself, disappeared from your line of vision.

Your heartbeat was erratic as you began walking alone to the infirmary. You felt your lungs being filled slowly again as more petals came up to your throat.

By the time you reached the infirmary, you felt yourself choking.

You slid the door open with shaky hands and came face to face with Recovery Girl. You approached the old nurse as you slid the door closed behind you.

“Ah, (l/n)-san, what seems to be the matter?” Recovery Girl asked.

As if to answer her question, you coughed. Petals escaped your throat and fell to the floor.

Recovery Girl looked at you with soft eyes and nodded slowly. She strode to her desk and opened a drawer, fishing a small card from the confines of the drawer and handing it to you.

“I’m afraid your ailment is out of my field of expertise,” she said as you took the card from her. “Visit her as soon as possible. She’s a doctor from a nearby hospital.”

You glanced at the card she gave you. Small, fine print gave you the doctor’s information.

Doctor Takeshi Inori, M.D.

Specializing in Hanahaki Disease

Rm. 305, Musutafu Hospital

01-****-**67

 

There was a short silence before you spoke again.

“Is tomorrow soon enough?”

----

There came news that you were being sent home.

You came back into the classroom, only to take your things. Todoroki glanced at you from the corner of his eye. There was an occasional shuffling and sometimes, the sharp sound of an item being dropped that made him shift slightly in his seat.

Once all your things from your desk were placed in your bag, you left without a word. Todoroki followed you with his eyes until you vanished from the room. He sighed and tried to focus on the discussion again, but all his attempts were futile.

There was an unusual emptiness bothering him.

A glance was made to his right. There was the empty desk where you previously sat.

Empty.

His eyes started to turn away when something caught his attention. He let out a small, barely audible gasp, as he noticed something different.

A white and red striped carnation, steadily blooming at the edge of your empty desk.

When he blinked, it was gone.

Chapter Text

There was a distinct sense of emptiness the next morning.

It felt like a void of some sort, or a gaping hole aching to be filled. It was a cloud without a silver lining. A sky without stars.

A desk without you.

There was a distinct sense of emptiness Todoroki felt that morning. It bothered him, gave him a feeling of insufficiency.

He pinned the blame on the vacant desk beside his.

There was an unusual, yet unsurprising silence that morning. The room felt empty, somehow, even though there was only one desk left unoccupied.

Todoroki wasn’t sure if he was the only one feeling empty.

He scanned the room, looking at his classmates one by one, spying for any sign of any unconventional behavior. Aside from the peculiar quietness of Midoriya and Uraraka (who were talking in hushed whispers in the corner of the room), no one seems to be bothered.

Except him.

He didn’t know how much an empty desk beside him would make him feel oddly incomplete. He didn’t realize how much he was bothered by the peculiar feeling of emptiness until someone tapped his shoulder to get his attention.

“Todoroki-kun?”

Todoroki seemed to wake from his many thoughts and looked at the direction of the person who tapped his shoulder.

“Ah, Yaoyorozu-san. Do you need anything?” he asked.

Yaoyorozu waved her hand dismissively, giving him a small, lopsided smile. “No, no, I don’t Todoroki-kun. It’s just that…” A pause. A short breath before she continued. “You seem awfully quiet.”

Todoroki raised an eyebrow at her in confusion. “I’m always quiet.”

“Ah, no, that’s not what I meant,” Yaoyorozu clarified. “Your silence today is… unusual.”

Todoroki didn’t bother asking what she meant by her latter statement, but he just gave her a small nod. Wordlessly, his eyes returned to what they were looking at before.

The empty desk beside his.

He didn’t even realize he was looking at it before until his eyes returned to it again.

The emptiness washed over him slowly. First came the recurring confusion. Then, the unfathomable regret. Finally, the bothersome emptiness.

The emptiness consumed him. He pinned the blame again to the empty desk he had his eyes on for the past ten minutes.

He seemed to memorize every detail of the empty desk and tracing it repeatedly into his mind, until his eyes caught an unusual sight.

A red and white striped carnation, blooming on one of the legs of the vacant desk.

It was like the flower he saw blooming on the edge of the same desk yesterday.

He blinked. Unlike what he saw yesterday, the carnation didn’t disappear. He blinked again. It was still there.

“Yaoyorozu-san,” he said suddenly.

The said girl looked up from a book she was reading a few moments ago and looked at Todoroki. The teen was not looking at her but, was focused on gazing at the empty desk.

“Yes?” she answered.

“Do you see that?” Todoroki asked.

Todoroki pointed at one of the legs of the desk, still not looking at her direction. Yaoyorozu directed her gaze to where Todoroki was pointing and squinted her eyes. Her fingers scratched the back of her head in confusion.

“What am I supposed to see, Todoroki-kun?”

There was a short pause. A soft gasp. A confused look.

“There’s a carnation blooming there, see?” Todoroki explained to Yaoyorozu, pointing to where he allegedly saw the said flower.

Yaoyorozu shook her head in bewilderment as she gazed at the empty desk. “Todoroki-kun, I don’t see any carnation.”

“Don’t you see, Yaoyorozu-san? It’s right - ” Todoroki reached for the carnation, only to have it disappear once it touched his fingers. “…here.”

Todoroki stared at his fingers in disbelief, then to the leg of the desk where he had seen the carnation bloom mere minutes ago. He blinked. The desk leg remained barren, with no sign of any flower blooming. Yaoyorozu could only look at Todoroki with concern.

The bell rang. Aizawa-sensei entered a few moments after. Yaoyorozu directed her attention to homeroom. As did rest of the class.

Todoroki was left in his own thoughts, staring aimlessly at the empty desk.

Another flower appeared in front of his eyes, blooming steadily on the wooden surface of the desk. The same from before.

A red and white striped carnation.

----

I presume you have prior knowledge of the Hanahaki Disease, (l/n)-san.

The walk home was longer than usual.

You fiddled with your fingers in an attempt to entertain yourself during the walk home. You looked at the landscape before you as the ground crunched beneath your feet. The sun was turning golden as it slowly disappeared behind the horizon.

A disease caused by unrequited love. The disease is uncommon, but not rare. I’ve seen a fairly large number of patients in the past years.

You had gone to the Musutafu Hospital that afternoon as Recovery Girl had suggested. You had told your mother that you were going to the hospital but didn’t tell her the real cause. You had said it was for a bad cough. She believed you.

Your case, however, is rare.

You laid a hand on your chest as you tried to even out your breathing. You can feel the slow blooming and filling of flowers in your lungs. It gradually suffocated you.

The flowers seem to be like they were growing for years. They grew at an intensely slow pace, so gradual that you didn’t feel the symptoms of the disease earlier on.

Realization dawned over you then. A crooked smile came upon your lips.

You were in love with him ever since you laid eyes on him.

You were in love with him for ten years.

Ten years.

It seemed that your body knew that you were in an unrequited romance, that it took it upon itself to make the flowers grow in your lungs gradually. Now that you realized you loved him…and with the shock that came with his sudden rejection of your confession, the flowers are now growing in your lungs in an increased pace.

Your case was rare.

You loved him too much. Too much that you had a rare case of an uncommon disease.

You wanted to laugh.

The only thing that can save you is a surgery. If you refuse the surgery, I’m afraid to say that you have a week or less to live, depending on the pace of the flowers’ growth.

Surgery meant forgetting your feelings for him, every romantic feeling you never realized you felt over the past ten years. Surgery meant forgetting ever loving him.

Loving him was waking up before the sun had positioned itself in the sky.

Loving him was staring at him longer than you intended.

Loving him was sitting in a comfortable silence together.

Loving him was everything.

Loving him was living.

“Let me die then,” you whispered softly to yourself.

If you were to forget ever loving him, you might as well forget to live altogether.

----

You forgot how long you were walking until the familiar street of your home stretched in front of you. The asphalt seemed to emit an amber glow as the sun gradually set behind the skyline. You found it was beautiful.

Like him.

You bitterly smiled to yourself.

Even in the sunset you remember him. Even in the last sunsets you would ever see.

You were in love with him too much that you remember him in the most mundane of things.

You walked, the rough asphalt coming in contact with the soles of your shoes in a soft rhythm. The long stretch of road leading to your house became shorter and shorter with every step.

You stopped in front of a cast-iron gate you know all too well the moment it caught your eye. It wasn’t empty like it usually was.

Heterochromatic eyes watched you through the bars of the gate. You returned the gaze, eyes catching a glimpse of gray and turquoise. They weren’t blank like they used to be.

“(f/n)-san are you alright?” a rich voice permeated the silence between you.

“I’m fine, Shouto-kun,” you replied coldly. You felt petals at the back of your mouth as you spoke.

“You’re not,” he pointed out. Todoroki came closer to the gate but didn’t open it. The waning sunlight kissed his face as he inched near. You tried not to let your eyes linger on him.

Tried not to fall hopelessly in love all over again.

“What’s the matter with you?” he asked. He seemed desperate for an answer. His eyes held a plea.

As much as you wanted to answer him, you can’t. Words were not enough to answer him. Words were never enough. You looked at him apologetically, tears pricking the corner of your eyes, and shook your head.

You wished the silence would answer his question for you.

You turned away, tearing you gaze away from him. You stood still, for a moment. A tear fell from your eye. Followed by a petal from your lips.

You didn’t look back when you walked away and disappeared into your house.

Todoroki stood still behind the iron-cast gate. The street in front of him was now lit by a nearby streetlamp, the sun having set a few minutes ago. The street in front of him was now empty.

You disappeared once the sun did.

His fingers absentmindedly traced the patterns on the cast-iron gate. When he did however, carnations appeared in the places his fingers traced over. White and red striped carnations, just like before. His fingers stopped, hovering over the gate. His eyes observed the flowers steadily blooming on the cast-iron gate.

While the carnations seemed to be an image of himself, it reminded him of you.

It always reminded him of you.

There came a distinct sense of emptiness washing over Todoroki that evening.

Chapter Text

You said eleven lies that evening to save yourself.

“It’s nothing but a bad cough, Mama. The doctor said I only need to rest and take a few medicines.”

One.

Your mother looked at you, scrutinizing your every detail, as if scanning for any sign of dishonesty. You tried to look as normal as possible and held back a cough that threatened to leave your lips at any moment.

“You sure you’re fine?” she asked after a few minutes of silence. From the tone of her voice, she seemed to question your first lie.

“Yes, Mama, I’m fine.” Your voice came out low and raspy, too unusual and uncharacteristic for you.

Two.

A nod told you she believed your second lie. A short breath left your lips in relief that you managed to convince her with another lie.

“I’m going to my room, Mama,” you announced. Your feet had already led you halfway up the stairs, not anymore waiting for an answer from her.

Your mother stood by the start of the stairs, eyes following your disappearing form. Her lips were parted, but no words came. She stood by until you were completely out of her line of vision, then went to the dining room, looking forlornly at the dining table that was set and ready for dinner.

It would be the first dinner where you weren’t there.

-----

3 unread messages.

You glanced at your phone as it lit up with the notification. You opened it and tapped on the messages one by one. The first one was from Ochako.

From: Ochako-chan~

Why are you absent? Deku and I were worried about you.

You sighed. You wished Ochako wouldn’t worry too much. Still, Ochako wasn’t Ochako if she never worried about the welfare of her friends. You tapped in a short reply to her to try to stop her from worrying.

To: Ochako-chan~

It’s only a bad cough, Ochako-chan. I’ll be back.

Three.

Another lie.

You tapped on the second message after you replied. The second one was from Midoriya.

From: Midoriya-kun

Uraraka-san and I are worried about you. I hope you’re doing fine.

It was practically the same message as Ochako’s. The same worry emanated from his message. An even shorter reply was sent to reassure him.

To: Midoriya-kun

I’m fine don’t worry.

Four.

You felt guilty for reassuring your friends with lies, yet you felt that this was good enough to stop them from worrying. For now.

Your finger tapped on the third message, the time stamp on it indicating it was sent only a few minutes ago. You froze suddenly, eyes widening at the message. You almost lost grip of your phone if only you didn’t hold it tightly in your hand.

From: Shouto

Sorry.

One word.

One word from him.

One word from him already did so much to you.

It made your fingers shake, your breath hitch and your lungs fill. It made you freeze, then tremble, then choke.

You closed your phone and set it on your bedside table without typing out a reply. You laid on the bed and closed your eyes. You breathed, slowly, feeling the flowers in your lungs when you did.

The only thing that can save you is a surgery.

“No,” you whispered. Your eyes opened slowly and fell on the glass container sitting on your bedside table.

The glass container was half-full of carnation petals.

You sat up and reached for the glass container. Your fingers traced the cold glass, as your eyes examined the petals inside.

These flowers bloomed inside you, as if punishing you for loving someone out of your reach. Punishing you for engaging in a romance that was impossible to be reciprocated.

You didn’t know how loving someone can slowly suffocate you.

“Why does it have to be you?”

Petals escaped from your lips as you spoke. You gathered the petals that dropped onto the floor and slipped them inside the glass container. You inhaled slowly, trying to let in even a bit of oxygen to circulate into your flower-filled lungs.

You were suffocating.

You needed something to save you.

Would telling lies save you now?

“I hate you, Shouto.”

Five.

 “I hate you.”

Six.

A cough was expelled from your lips. Small flowers tumbled onto the ground.

“I hate you.”

Seven.

Another cough, harder this time. More flowers dotted the floor.

“I hate you.”

Eight.

The glass container slipped from your fingers, with petals and glass shards spilling onto the ground.

“I hate you, I hate you…I hate you!”

Nine, ten, eleven.

You fell onto the floor, some of the glass piercing through your skin. You felt the sharp sting of the glass on your skin, yet the discomfort of the flowers blooming in your lungs overpowered any kind of pain you felt at that moment. You struggled to breathe, your lips parting to take in short gasps of air, stopping to cough a few times as larger carnations tumbled from your lips and onto the glass and flower-dotted floor below you.  A cough. A gasp for air. A cough. A gasp for air. Your mouth tasted of blood and your throat was dry and raw. Your breathing was quick and labored. Your vision was blurring and darkening. Your lungs were gradually filling with more and more flowers. A cough. A gasp for air. A cough. A gasp for air.

There was a knock on the door, then a muffled noise from outside of your room. Your lips parted to speak, but your words were interrupted by another cough that expelled yet another carnation from your throat. Your eyes turned to the door, one of your arms reaching toward it. You pushed yourself to slide toward the door inch by inch, but to no avail. You collapsed only a meter away from the door, panting with exhaustion and loss of breath. A cough ripped from your throat.

A white and red striped carnation speckled with your own blood fell from your lips.

“I…love you.”

There came darkness.

-----

Seeing flowers is an after-effect of a disease known as the Hanahaki Disease.

Todoroki tried not to concentrate on an article he read a few minutes ago as he focused on doing his homework. He tried drowning out the earlier information he read with mathematical equations and terms he repeatedly wrote on his notebook. Solved word problems to restrain his thoughts from straying to the article.

“x is equal to negative b, plus or minus the square root of the difference of b squared and four times a multiplied to c, all over twice a,” he mumbled under his breath to distract himself.

This after-effect usually occurs to the person the patient suffering from Hanahaki Disease is in love with.  

“x is equal to negative b, plus or minus the square root of the difference of b squared -”

Only the person the patient is in love with can see the flowers.

“x is equal to negative b, plus or minus -”

The flowers appear on the objects of which the person is reminded of the patient.

“x is equal to -”

This after-effect is sometimes called, “The Punishment,” as the recipients of this after-effect are seemed to be punished with seeing flowers on things that remind them of the patient, a sign of guilt for not reciprocating the love of the patient.

He let go of his pencil and closed his notebook. He ran his hands through his hair, a shaky sigh escaping his lips.

Todoroki reached for his phone from the far end of the desk and opened it. The screen showed no notification or sign of a new message.

It’s been fifteen minutes since he sent you the one-worded message.

Sorry.

You’d usually reply to his messages within minutes. But this time, this time it’s different.

Was the message too short? Too cold? Insincere? Was it not enough to encapsulate all his feelings?

He thought one word was enough. He thought saying one simple word would enough to let the weight off his chest.

It wasn’t.

The feeling of guilt weighed on him too much.

His eyes stared at the carnation blooming on the edge of his phone.

The recipients of this after-effect are seemed to be punished with seeing flowers on things that remind them of the patient.

“All this time, (f/n)-san,” he whispered.

All this time he was being punished all along.

Todoroki’s ears perked at the unusual sound of sirens outside the street. He got up from his desk and shuffled to the window. His heart was beating hard against his chest. He took a deep breath before pushing the curtains aside.

His breath hitched as he saw the sight before him.

An ambulance.

Right in front of your house.

An ambulance.

Todoroki dashed outside his room and ran down the hallways to the front door. He slid the door open in haste and sprinted outside the house without bothering to put on any shoes. The ground was cold beneath his feet as he ran to the gate. His fingers undid the latch on the gate rapidly and ran outside the street.

He stopped at the sight of the ambulance before him. He panted, inhaling sharp bursts of air, before making his way closer to the ambulance.

 “(f-f/n)?” he whispered softly, his voice breaking.

Your unconscious state, lying in a stretcher and carried inside the ambulance, devastated him. You were deathly pale, with no sign of life in you. Your chest rose and fell in a barely noticeable motion of respiration.

It’s all his fault.

“I’m sorry.”

What sense was there to an apology you couldn’t even hear?

His heterochromatic eyes caught a glimpse of (e/c) ones that were strikingly like yours. Todoroki stared at the woman in front of him that was about to climb into the ambulance.

Your mother.

Her eyes held a fire in them, despite being glossed over with tears. She looked at him with scorn, as if she knew that he was the cause of her daughter’s suffering.

His eyes held her gaze for a while. He didn’t notice a tear fall from his eye.

It’s all his fault.

Without a word, she looked away from him and climbed into the ambulance. The doors closed behind her. She never gave him a second look as the ambulance drove away.

His gaze lingered on the ambulance as it disappeared slowly from his line of vision. His bare feet walked a few steps, until his knees buckled, making him kneel on the ground. The rough asphalt scraped his knees and his feet, but he didn’t wince in pain. It’s as if he became numb.

Todoroki stayed in the middle of the street in silence. Tears fell from his eyes. His lips were parted but there were no words said.

He saw a white and red carnation bloom on the road in front of him. Another on the sidewalk. He craned his neck to look at the cast-iron gate of his house and saw one more carnation bloom on one of the bars. Soon, everywhere he turned he saw a carnation. More and more carnations bloomed in front of his eyes, filling his vision with flowers. He panted, his fingers weaving in his hair and pulling it in frustration. His lips parted and let out a yell, yet he couldn’t make out what he was saying. He didn’t realize he was shouting your name over and over again until his throat went raw.

The recipients of this after-effect are seemed to be punished with seeing flowers on things that remind them of the patient.

Seeing flowers is sign of guilt for not reciprocating the love of the patient.

A broken smile was etched on his lips in realization.

Of course, he was seeing flowers everywhere.

Everything reminded him of you.

Chapter Text

He would find himself waiting by the cast-iron gate as the first rays of sunlight spilled from the horizon.

It started one morning, a morning he can’t remember exactly when. He found himself waking up before the dawn broke over the skyline. He casted a longing look outside the window. A carnation bloomed on the windowpane. He sighed softly and got ready for school earlier than usual.

The morning breeze bit into his skin as he walked outside. He exhaled, mist escaping from his lips. His eyes turned to the sky, seeing a soft golden light break through the horizon. He leaned against the cast-iron gate behind him, a small clink resounding from the metal as he did so. His gaze was fixed on the house across the street. Carnations bloomed in front of his eyes.

Then he waited.

He wasn’t sure what he was waiting for, though.

Yet, every morning, though unsure, he would wait by the cast-iron gate.

Always.

When the sun would start to warm his skin, he would leave for school.

When he would see the empty desk beside him, realization would always hit him as soon as he saw carnations bloom.

Todoroki was waiting for you.

Always.

----

The carnations were gradually fading away every morning.

Todoroki didn’t understand why they were slowly fading from his vision. One morning they were blooming steadily, the white and red colors of the blossoms vibrant. The next they were dull in color.

Today they were almost translucent.

He tried to keep his thoughts at bay, yet theories formed itself in his mind. If the flowers were fading away, did they mean anything? What would happen if they would disappear? Did it mean you were going to be alright? Did it mean he would see you again? Did it mean you forgot you ever loved him?

Did it mean you were…dead?

His breath hitched in his throat at the thought. He shook his head, trying to erase the theory he formed. He swallowed a lump that formed in his throat.

If you died…he would never forgive himself.

It was all his fault.

All along he thought he was uncapable of being loved. All along he thought he was uncapable of loving. All along he thought if he would ever love someone, he would break them.

If he would ever love you, he thought he would break you.

But it was different. It was when he didn’t love you when he broke you. Shattered you. To the verge of dying.

It was when he wasn’t blinded by all his thoughts that he realized the truth.

It’s all his fault.

“Am I too late?” he whispered.

----

The flowers had disappeared one morning.

Todoroki blinked. His hand touched the windowpane where he saw the carnations mornings before. The carnations were no longer there.

As usual, he went on with his weekend morning routine. Yet the fact that the flowers he would always see at the windowpane were gone bothered him. He reassured himself with the thought that maybe the window didn’t remind him of you that much anymore, and that maybe the cast-iron gate would be filled with flowers blooming right in front of his eyes when he’d see it.

He was wrong.

The cast-iron gate was barren. The flowers didn’t bloom right in front of his eyes.

Todoroki set aside the theories brewing inside him. He stood a little taller by the gate and kept his gaze focused on the house across the street. Your house.

He didn’t know how long he was waiting. He didn’t count how many mornings he spent waiting. Waiting for you.

What he knew, however, that he would always wait for you. Every morning by the cast-iron gate. Just like ten years ago. He would wait for the day when he would see you again.

He would wait for the day where he would tell you everything he wanted to ten years ago.

He would tell you how he was awestruck the moment he saw how your (e/c) eyes sparkled und er the morning light. How your (h/c) hair fell in just the right places. How your voice was a symphony to him. How he found warmth in your smile.

He would wait for the day he would tell you he found you beautiful.

Todoroki looked at his feet, a broken smile playing on his lips. He wanted to laugh.

He was too late.

The carnations have already disappeared.

The sun had started to warm his skin, yet he stayed by the gate.

‘It’s the weekend, anyway.’

He waited for a while longer.

“Ah, mornings are beautiful, aren’t they?”

Todoroki’s head whipped up abruptly at the sound of the voice. That voice…akin to a cacophony of symphonies…a familiar melody.

Your melody.

His heterochromatic eyes met a flash of (e/c) he grew familiar to. A breath hitched in his throat.

Standing on the street across him, head turned toward the horizon, was you.

“(f/n)?” he said softly.

You looked at him at the sound of him calling your name. Todoroki felt his heart race in incredible speeds the moment your eyes turned to his.

There was an expression on your face that he cannot read nor understand. It was…different somehow. As if you were different somehow.

“I’m sorry,” you began. Todoroki waited with bated breath the next words you were about to say.

“Who are you?”

He felt his heart drop.

His eyes remained transfixed on you as they widened slightly in shock and disbelief. Todoroki didn’t understand. Was this a joke? A prank for revenge?

But you looked so sincere and earnest upon asking that question that it felt…real.

He swallowed thickly then parted his lips to speak. All the things he wanted to say died on the tip of his tongue and were replaced by a single question. “Don’t you remember?”

You avoided his gaze and said no reply, yet you made your way across the street and stopped in front of him. The distance between you was only a few inches apart, yet Todoroki felt it was too far. You were within his reach, yet he still couldn’t reach you.

Your eyes met his. He noticed an apologetic expression swirling in your (e/c) irises. You shook your head as a reply to his question.

“My memory’s been pretty fuzzy lately after a recent surgery,” you explained sheepishly as you dropped your gaze from him again. Your right hand took hold of your left arm, fingers skimming across your skin. “It’s strange, though. I never encountered problems with my memory until now.”

You explained further, yet Todoroki could barely make out the words, “surgery,” “doctor,” “month,” and “memory”. He was drowning in his own thoughts to even focus on what you were saying. It was only in your last sentence that he was pulled from his reverie.

“I’m sorry if I couldn’t remember you.”

No, don’t be sorry.’

‘After all, it’s my fault.’

Todoroki was used to holding back emotions behind a stoic façade. Yet now, he struggled to keep his emotions under wraps. He bit the inside of his cheek gently and blinked back tears. He swallowed the growing lump in his throat. If one would look closely into his eyes, they would see a flurry of emotions swirling in his heterochromatic irises, a mirror to the chaos reigning over his thoughts.

“Can I ask for your name?” you said suddenly.

Todoroki stiffened at the request, then relaxed. His lips, shaky, gave you a response. “Shouto.”

You smiled at the sound of the name. Todoroki half-hoped that the name might have sparked a memory in you, yet your smile was different somehow. It wasn’t warm like it used to be.

“I’ll make sure to remember that, Shouto-san.”

A change of honorific. It was too formal, too distant.

He watched as you gave him another smile, before turning away. He heard your fading steps on the asphalt. The steps stopped abruptly, before he heard it again, the sound nearing toward him.

You were a few inches away from him again. He felt you were too far again.

“I felt that I have to tell you this before I go,” you explained. You flashed him an awkward smile as you ran a hand through your hair and gave him a nervous chuckle. Todoroki hung on every word that fell from your lips.

“I think you’re beautiful.”

A pause. Silence.

In that silence, he watched you walk away from him.

In that silence, he watched you disappear.

In that silence, tears fell from his eyes. He didn’t attempt to stop them.

His hand slowly stretched toward the emptiness where you previously stood. He slowly retracted his hand after a few seconds.

It’s impossible to reach you now.

‘She told me I was beautiful.’

He inhaled slowly.

‘When in reality, I was the one who found her beautiful.’

“Is it too late to love you, (f/n)?” he whispered.

First came the longing. Then the regret.

Then, the suffocating.

Todoroki’s breaths came short. A heavy feeling pressed into his chest. His hand clutched onto his shirt as he breathed heavily to retain a normal pace of respiration.

No.

A cough fell from his dry lips.

Petals of a red and white striped carnation fell onto the asphalt.

It’s too late.

Let this blooming tragedy suffocate me slowly.

Chapter Text

I met someone beautiful today.

He was what one would call odd. He was what I would call beautiful.

He was akin to a striped carnation.

Like the one I saw blooming on my windowpane.

I met someone beautiful today.

Why am I crying?