Soft hands carding through his hair. Warm. Familiar. Murmured words and gently spoken stories. Red, puffy hair and piercing blue eyes.
Injury after injury. Burn after burn. Play gently, oh so gently. Red hair and blue eyes.
Ice and fire. Separation, isolation. No play, only training. Sneaking around, visits in the night. Red hair and blue eyes.
Heat and screaming. Confusion and pain. No mother. Gone. Warm hands carding through his hair. Red hair and blue eyes.
Mother, what did I do?
Sister, why did they go?
Brother, it hurts.
“How sad for you… Todoroki Shouto.”
Shouto’s eyes snap open as he startles awake. The quiet buzz of his fan above his head sends a spike of relief through him. He’s at the dorms, no one would care if he was awake at night. He can relax. He sits up very deliberately and releases a puff of air, breath curling into mist. He could breathe. Shaky hands run through his hair; one side sweaty, the other tipped with frost.
Just a dream. He tells himself as he goes into his bathroom. Just a dream. He says as he splashes his face with cold water. Just a dream. He repeats as gray and blue meet their reflection.
Red hair and blue eyes.
His father was never one for soft words and kind touches. Never one for stories before bed. That had always been his mother, before… Before. (Things were better between them now. Not yet fully repaired, still a little awkward, but better.) Fuyumi would see Shouto when she could get away with it too. But after his training started they saw each other less; Fuyumi avoided invoking their father’s ire. Besides, she took more after their mother.
So who was it?
One of his other siblings? They had been left to play, to run and escape training. Shouto had been singled out because of his quirk.
Shouto gently slides open the door to his balcony. Some fresh air might help him think. He leans against the railing and slides back into his thoughts.
His memories from before his quirk came in are hazy. He had been allowed to play with the others. He remembers mostly white hair peppered with red. Out of everyone, he had the most red.
Except… That wasn’t exactly right.
There was another. Isolated, as he would be. A brother who was there infrequently, and just about always sore or injured. But he always had a smile or a story. And bright red hair. And…
“How sad for you… Todoroki Shouto.”
Shouto jerks away from the railing like it scorched him.
Suddenly he feels stifled, trapped. Despite being outside, his room is suffocating him. It’s still night, well after curfew, but Shouto burns with the need to be anywhere but his room. Long ingrained habit helps him leave without making a racket. His feet take off in a direction while his mind whirls.
He knows that statistically, not everyone with brilliant, light blue eyes was related to his father. He also know logically, that having a fire quirk didn’t automatically make someone a Todoroki. And he knows that growing up with Endeavor for a father could make anyone hate heroes.
Endeavor is his own judge, jury, and executioner. When it came to villains if they could not be subdued quickly, they were killed. When it came to his family they were just tools, a means to an end. If you weren't deemed useful, you were a tolerated presence. Shouto’s older siblings all knew who Endeavor was at home, where the veneer of a hero came off. He wouldn't be surprised if any of his “less useful” siblings defected from the family, Endeavor would do his best to cover it up.
“How sad for you…”
It takes every ounce of his self control not to jump. Instead, he turns towards Midoriya standing on the stairs. His feet had carried him to Midoriya’s room.
“Is everything okay? Did you need me for something?” And that was just Midoriya, wasn’t it? Always ready to listen.
“What are you doing up, Midoriya?”
“Me? I er, couldn't sleep. So I went for a walk around the lower floors. You? Can’t sleep either?” Midoriya asks kindly, and Shouto nods. “Did you want to talk about it?”
Shouto wonders idly if there was an issue that Midoriya could resist sticking his nose into. That was how they ended up friends after all.
But this was private, wasn’t it? Midoriya had an idea of what Endeavor was truly like. He hadn’t expected the other boy to believe him, but he had. Midoriya had even seen the pain it caused him, and tried to save him.
Midoriya fidgets. Shouto blinks; an awkward silence had fallen when he slipped into thought.
And so Shouto finds himself in Midoriya’s room with many posters of All Might staring down at him from all angles, sitting on Midoriya’s bed with its All Might themed blankets. He remembers it from the room decorating contest, but being in the room was different. How does Midoriya sleep, with all of these eyes staring at him?
“I am not my father's first child,” Shouto starts abruptly, “if you didn’t have a satisfactory Quirk, he would leave you alone. I didn't think any of my siblings had Quirks strong enough to get his attention… But…
“I've been dreaming of an older brother. Red hair and blue eyes are all I can remember. But none of my siblings have hair that red. And he's not around any more.”
“Todoroki-kun…” Midoriya trails off. He looks concerned and out of depth.
“I think… I think Dabi might be my brother.” There it was. The thought he had been avoiding since he woke up. Shouto wasn’t sure what to make of it. Dabi was a villain - had tried to kill Aizawa-sensei and helped kidnap Bakugo. By all means, he should feel no sympathy. And yet, he did.
“So, what about when we fight him again? Will you be okay?” Midoriya asks, straight to the point.
Shouto squares his shoulders. “He is still a villain. Someone who has murdered and broken the law. And he needs to answer for that.”
“You sound like Iida-kun.” Midoriya grins and Shouto returns it with a small one of his own.
“Is that a bad thing?”
“I don’t suppose it is.”
Silence falls again, but this time it’s a comfortable one. If Dabi was his mysterious brother, Shouto hopes that he can still fight him when needed.