It takes Todoroki Shouto exactly one minute and forty seconds to realize who, exactly, is rooming just below him.
Not coincidentally, it takes Bakugou Katsuki just less than this to eye his pile of liberally-taped-up moving boxes and decide that a few ‘small’ explosions would be preferable to asking someone for a scissor.
Shouto listens to the banging, looking down at the floor in faint disbelief, then returns to unpacking. It’s just something to live with, he supposes. Besides, maybe the mats will muffle it?
The ‘room tournament’ is… exhausting.
His classmates have something to say about every. Single. Room. Shouto isn’t really sure why, since their rooms all seem to reflect their personalities so well. Even Satou’s baking is unexpected, but hardly shocking. (Also, it explains the smell wafting through the whole fifth floor—not that Shouto minds.)
As he trails after the group through the girls’ rooms, though, he can’t help but mull over what they’d said about his room. I worked really hard, he’d explained, and they’d looked at him as if he was inhuman. Jirou has her instruments, Hagakure her stuffed animals, Ashido her bright patterns. All the rooms say something about their owners—what does Shouto’s say about him? That he’s absorbed his parents’ traditionalism? That he’s unusually hardworking? He tries to think of something that reflects his taste, that makes him like a normal teenager with interests beyond heroism.
Shouto’s exhausted mind turns the question over and over, and he’s no closer to an answer by the time Satou is declared ‘Room King’ or whatever. He isn’t really sure why he’d tagged along the whole time, except that everyone else had been doing it.
Then Uraraka brings them outside to talk to Asui (she’s asked a lot of people to call her Tsuyu, but Shouto’s never actually spoken to her, so he isn’t sure if he’s allowed or not), and the others agree to go back to the good old days. Shouto hangs back and wonders if that means he’ll go back to not speaking to any of them.
When he gets back to his room, he goes straight to bed, but sleep is a long time coming.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Shouto rolls over, blinking muzzily.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
It’s dark enough that he can’t make out the shape of the ceiling, and the blinks turn to confusion—his alarm shouldn’t be set this early.
Beep. Beep. Be—Boom.
Ah. Not his alarm, then.
A much closer explosion cuts off the second source of noise, and Shouto bolts upright before he can help it. This is ridiculous. He contemplates banging on his floor or yelling or something, then winces at the thought of Bakugou’s probable response.
He’s just resolved to go back to sleep and talk to Aizawa in the morning when a siren starts to blare.
Lurching into motion immediately, Shouto starts toward the door, then notices an acrid smell and stops. If there’s an alarm going off, there must be villains on campus—what if they’ve released some sort of gas, like at the training camp? The building itself won’t be safe unless he has a gas mask; Yaoyorozu can make them, but she has enough sense to evacuate outside, so that’s where he’ll have to go.
Sighing sharply, Shouto strides over to the window. Pressing his hand to the side of the building, he forms his ice into a curling slide and steps on.
Halfway down, Shouto realizes that making the slide curve may have been a tactical error. This occurs to him about a millisecond before his momentum throws him over the side.
There’s a peaceful moment of absolute weightlessness before the panic and confusion of freefall sets in. Shouto flails, trying to think past the air rushing in his ears, when suddenly he’s moving sideways instead of down.
Shouto blinks, and then the motion stops, though somehow no part of him has made a crushing and painful impact with the ground.
He looks up and sees Midoriya. His normally curly hair is wilder from sleep and wind and possibly from the electricity that crackles around him like a halo, revealing in short flashes the deep forest green of his curls and the flint-hard emerald of his eyes. His teeth are bared in something fiercer than a smile. Shouto has seen nothing so wild or so beautiful.
And then Midoriya looks down at him, and for a moment, Shouto feels he will be eaten alive and smile the whole way. But Midoriya’s smile warms, his eyes soften, the electricity fades. Shouto becomes aware of the gentle, reassuring strength of the arms holding him and the warmth of Midoriya’s body against his side. He feels cherished, protected, safe; he wants nothing so much as to curl against Midoriya’s chest and fall asleep listening to his heartbeat.
Midoriya’s solid, muscular, bare chest.
(Shouto’s brain goes away to scream for a little bit.)
Midoriya’s mouth curls into a teasing grin. It’s far too dark for him to see Shouto blushing, right?
“You should really be more careful,” he says, and oh, he’s just amused by Shouto’s stupidity. Shouto can’t decide if that’s better.
wriggles flails makes his way out of Midoriya’s arms and smooths his hair with his right hand to disguise his desperate attempts to cool his burning face.
“Sorry,” he says awkwardly before turning back to the building. The building which is still blaring alarms and which is full of their classmates, and possibly dangerous villains. Right.
“Do you know what’s going on?” he asks Midoriya, not looking back at him. It’s the middle of summer. Plenty of guys who don’t automatically regulate their body temperature probably sleep shirtless, right?
“No,” says Midoriya, and it takes Shouto an embarrassing moment to remember what questions he’s answering. How is he so easily distracted?
It occurs to him suddenly that if villains have attacked, whatever defenses the school put up have failed already. Even if, miraculously, everyone makes it through unarmed again, they aren’t going to be staying on campus anymore. Yuuei’s reputation is going to plummet, and public confidence in heroes will follow. It hasn’t even been a week since Kamino Ward.
“I can’t believe this is happening already,” Midoriya says, echoing Shouto’s thoughts—except the tone is all wrong, almost lighthearted.
Shouto’s brain stutters, because he’s seen Midoriya in a serious fight or five, and lighthearted is not even close to how he’d describe him. Intense, worried, angry, sometimes even terrifying , sure but amused?
“Everyone who came down the regular way is probably waiting at the front,” Midoriya says, and that at least makes sense, so Shouto follows him around the building willingly enough.
In fact, the entirety of Class 1-A is milling around in front of the dorms, looking equally unconcerned. Uraraka, Ashido and the other girls burst out giggling when they see the two of them, and Shouto didn’t spend a lot of time with his sisters but even he knows to be concerned when girls reach that particular pitch.
That being said, all of his classmates are behaving incredibly nonchalantly. Shouto dismisses the Midoriya impersonator theory in favor of the possibility that this is all a dream. It actually makes sense—the impending feeling of doom, his general confusion and outlandishly stupid decisions, shirtless Midoriya—
…Shouto definitely doesn’t dream of his classmates in compromising states of undress. That would be weird.
The same cannot be said of Mineta, who is staring at the hem of Yaoyorozu’s (admittedly somewhat short) nightdress like it’s the holy grail. Shouto casually wanders into the other boy’s line of vision and wonders how none of the very scary girls in their class have maimed him yet.
Iida is, for some reason or other, scolding Bakugou (who mostly looks bored, although his eyebrows are twitching ominously), but he turns when he hears them approach.
“Todoroki!” he calls, looking relieved.
Shouto blinks. Was Iida worried about him specifically? Why? They were the last ones here, but shouldn’t Iida be more worried about Midoriya? They’re close, after all.
Iida gestures in the sudden, emphatic way that made Shouto tense three months ago when he still expected men taller than him to randomly blast fire (testing his reflexes, the story went. Shouto thinks this is ridiculous, since Bakugou undoubtedly has the fastest reflexes in the class, and Shouto can’t imagine anyone trying that on him more than once.)
“You look unsteady, Todoroki. Are you suffering from smoke inhalation? It is a very serious condition, and since your room is directly above Bakugou’s…”
From there, he transitions smoothly back to lecturing Bakugou, leaving Shouto with more questions than he started with. He looks over at Midoriya, hoping his confusion is obvious enough on his face.
“I should have known it was Kacchan,” Midoriya says, sounding almost fond. Shouto raises his eyebrow. “He set off the ones in his house within three hours of getting his quirk, and he wasn’t home for the first two and a half.”
Shouto is suddenly, overwhelmingly jealous of Bakugou. He’s not sure if it’s because he has such an innocent childhood memory or because he has it with Midoriya.
Also, he still doesn’t know what’s going on.
Shouto starts sat Iida’s verbal salute (which is accompanied by an actual bow) and turns to look at their homeroom teacher, who has not removed his sleeping bag and looks even deader inside than usual. Iida must recognize this as Aizawa’s second most dangerous emotional state, because he hurries to explain. (Finally.)
“Our apologies for disturbing you so early, sir, but Bakugou used his quirk on his alarm clock and then his room’s smoke alarm, triggering the building wide fire alarm when the smoke reached the hall.”
Shouto mentally rewinds to the first few moments he’d been awake and assigns victims to the explosions he’d heard.
Aizawa blinks very slowly (or falls asleep very briefly—it’s difficult to tell) and says, “So nothing is actually on fire?”
“Fuck no,” barks Bakugou, either unaware or uncaring that he’s taking his life into his hands.
After another slow blink, Aizawa sighs and makes his way into the building. After a minute or two, the blaring alarm stops. Aizawa emerges, returns to where they are all gathered, and says in the kind of dangerous monotone Shouto has been attempting for years, “If any of you wake me up at 5 in the morning for no good reason again, you’ll be running laps until dawn.”
Then he shuffles off.
“Sometimes I feel like Aizawa-sensei is going to try to eat our brains,” Midoriya whispers.
While Shouto has what he believes is an entirely healthy level of fear of their homeroom teacher, he wouldn’t have expected such a graphic image out of Midoriya of all people.
“Like a zombie?” Uraraka giggles, which means this is just a cultural thing Shouto has missed out on and not a sign that Midoriya has an unusually disturbing imagination.
Speaking of Shouto’s cultural ignorance…
“Smoke alarm?” he asks Midoriya as they walk to the boys’ side elevator.
“To warn if there’s a fire,” Midoriya reminds him, looking lost. “You didn’t have them?”
Shouto frowns. “My whole family has quirks that either control or put out fires,” he points out.
“But when you were small children…”
“Endeavor probably cared more about the annoyance of it going off every time he set something on fire,” Shouto says, because he’s tired and Midoriya makes him forget that other people exist.
Thankfully, everyone’s too busy watching the pulsing vein in Bakugou’s neck bulge as Iida lectures him to notice that Shouto just called his own father by his hero name, or that he implied the number two hero valued his ability to set household objects on fire with impunity over his still-quirkless children’s safety. (In their defense, it is fairly amusing.)
Midoriya, though, eyes Shouto with worry and pain and a little bit of anger, but somehow no pity, and Shouto wants to tell Midoriya not to do that, that he shouldn’t care so much about everyone he meets, let alone about Endeavor’s son who was literally created to defeat him.
Instead he looks away.
Later that morning, Bakugou is given three hours of detention, and takes his anger about it out on the gym where they’re meant to be developing their special moves.
Endeavor thinks yelling move names in a fight is gauche and unwise. Shouto personally agrees, but thinks that his father’s opinion comes at least as much from his jealousy of the popularity of All Might’s smashes.
So Shouto takes pleasure in perfecting a flashy move where he forms a giant hand of ice to hold an opponent, and takes Kaminari’s name suggestion: The Long Arm of the Law.
As Mr. Aizawa’s dead-eyed stare bores into him, Shouto reminds himself that he doesn’t have to yell the name unless he feels like it and simply blinks blandly in response.
“Alright, not my problem,” Mr. Aizawa sighs, writing down the name. “That’s one. Do you have any ideas for your second?”
Shouto does not.
“Well,” Iida suggests at dinner that night, “you have one special move related to your ice. How about one that makes use of your fire?”
“Yeah!” Uraraka agrees. “Maybe you can use one of you dad’s as a base.”
“Thanks,” Shouto says, because they’re trying to help even if they’ve told him nothing new. “Those are good ideas.”
Next to him, Midoriya makes a contrary noise, then blushes when they all turn to look at him. “Sorry! It’s just, I don’t know if that’s the best choice!”
Shouto tilts his head in curiosity as Midoriya begins to ramble.
“I mean, I agree that you should use your fire, but you still don’t have as much control over it as your ice, right? And I’m sure you’re working on it, but you should play to your strengths, right?”
“So you think I should make another ice based move?” Shouto asks thoughtfully, but Midoriya shakes his head.
“That’s not your only strength, Todoroki! I mean, of course it isn’t, you’re really strong in all your abilities, I really doubt you’ll need a special move to pass the exam,” Midoriya says offhandedly. Shouto is used to his father’s effusive, self-satisfied encouragement, but somehow this casually sincere compliment makes his insides flip in an unusually pleasant way. “Anyway, I think the important part of the phrase “play to your strengths” is the your part. A special move is special because it’s something only you could come up with, right? Or something only you could pull off.”
“So… I can’t use my father’s moves?”
“No! Or well, not really, because your power sets are actually very different. Not to mention, you have very different fighting styles; you’re much more of a range fighter, while Endeavor prefers melee combat. But what I was actually thinking about, which is kind of related, is how you blew up the arena at the end of our sports festival match--”
Shouto blinks. “You think my special move should be a giant explosion?” Uraraka snickers, and Midoriya rolls his eyes.
“Well, that’s an option,” he points out, “but my point was that no one else can combine fire and ice the way you can, so wouldn’t that make a good move?”
Shouto blinks and wonders how he didn’t think of that.
Since they’ve each figured out one move, Shouto and Uraraka are paired to spar the next day.
“Your special move is really cool!” she tells him, sounding unconcerned by the cocoon of ice trapping her arms and legs.
“So is yours,” he says, trying to keep his voice even as he contemplates the ground far below. Maybe it’s different for someone who can control gravity, but Shouto finds hanging completely unsupported in space distinctly unsettling.
“I think they both need some fine-tuning,” she responds, and Shouto snorts. She’d used her special move to get close enough to touch him just before his ice-fist had caught her, and now they were both floating, stuck.
“Maybe I can melt your arms free,” Shouto says, but she’s drifted behind him, now, and he can’t just throw fire around blindly. They float in silence for another few moments.
“It’s funny, you know,” Uraraka says finally, and Shouto makes a questioning noise. “I always thought I’d be a rescue hero, going into collapsing buildings and stuff like that. It makes more sense with my quirk being what it is. But I guess everyone has to learn how to fight now.”
Shouto contemplates that. “I’ve always known I was going to fight villains,” he tells her.
“Really?” she asks, and Shouto blinks at the disbelief in her tone. “I mean, I guess you’re following in your dad’s footsteps, but your quirk could be really useful for rescue! You could help with fires, or make fresh water for wilderness rescues so you don’t have to carry it. And that’s just off the top of my head. Your quirk is really versatile.”
“You sound like Midoriya,” he tells her, and she laughs.
“I’ll take that as a compliment, but honestly I’m nowhere near his level,” she says. “Did you know he keeps notebooks analyzing all the pro heroes, and he also has pages for us? He has notes on our strengths and weaknesses, all the little nuances and rules for how our quirks work and everything. It’s amazing.”
“I can believe that,” Shouto says fondly.
“You’re smiling, aren’t you?” Uraraka asks. “I can hear it! I can’t believe you’re doing your Deku smile and I’m missing it because you’re facing the wrong way.”
Shouto chokes, surprised. “My-- what?”
Before she can responds, a voice sounds from the ground. “Need a hand?”
Shouto cranes his neck to see Sero smirking up at them.
“An elbow would be nice!” Uraraka yells back.
Shooting a strip of tape up at Shouto, Sero laughs. “It’s like rescuing a cat from a tree.”
As he pulls himself down the line of tape toward the floor where Sero’s attached it, Shouto decides not to voice the fact that he feels like a balloon; they’re going to be teased enough without that mental image.
Though he’s still weightless, he can touch the ground enough to get leverage now, so he maneuvers to face Uraraka as Sero pulls her down.
He melts her free, and Sero moves away to keep his feet dry. When Uraraka releases her quirk, Shouto has a split second to realize that his feet weren’t placed quite right for standing before he’s landed on the ground next to her.
“What were you saying about my smile?” he asks as takes her offered hand.
She grins and pulls him up so forcefully that he almost loses his balance again; he forgets how strong she is. “You really like Deku, don’t you?”
Shouto opens his mouth, though he manages to keep from sputtering idiotically. Still, he feels his eyes widen, and judging by Uraraka’s growing grin, his normal poker face has not saved him.
“It’s okay,” she chirps teasingly. “He has a Todoroki smile, too.” Then she skips away. Shouto tries to chase after her and demand an explanation, and finds that his right leg has frozen itself to the floor.
There are people in the hallway outside of Shouto’s room.
He tries to ignore them, he really does. But the footsteps keep pounding back and forth, and the voices get more and more raucous until they drown out the music from Shouto’s earbuds.
When he pokes his head out into the hallway, he’s met by a grinning Kaminari and Kirishima, as well as Sero, who’s pinching his nose between his fingers.
“Todoroki!” he says, turning toward Shouto. “I’m sorry about all the noise, Kaminari’s being an idiot--”
“Hey!” their classmate protests, putting on a fake frown for a moment before his face turns conspiratorial. “It’s a good idea.”
“They’re going to kill you,” Sero argues before turning to Kirishima. “Come on, tell him this is a stupid idea.”
“I don’t know, it might be kind of funny,” he says contemplatively.
Sero makes a disbelieving face at him, then rolls his eyes and turns away. “Fine, but just remember: I told you so,” he warns before walking back into his room.
Curious, Shouto steps out of his room, following Kaminari and Kirishima as they walk to the opposite end of the hallway, by the elevators.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
Kaminari points at the interior wall. “Yaoyorozu’s room is over there, right?”
“Yes,” Shouto says, confused. “But the girls and boys’ sides are separated.”
“They are,” the blond boy confirms, “but the wiring isn’t,” he smirks, pointing at the light above his head.
“All the girls are in there,” Kirishima elaborates. “They’re having a sleepover or something.”
“And you’re going to… mess with their lights?” Shouto asks.
“Yup,” Kaminari responds, placing his hand on the wall. “What’s a sleepover if you don’t freak out about ghosts at least once?”
Shouto wouldn’t know, so he just settles back to watch. At first, nothing happens, and it occurs to Shouto to wonder since when Kaminari could even do detail work like this. Then it flickers quickly, just once, off-on.
“First, you gotta get their attention,” Kaminari explains. “Then, make them a little nervous…” The light blinks again, at first just in short, regular bursts of darkness and then faster and more erratically, the light staying off a little longer each time. It’s mostly just annoying, though Shouto supposes it might be creepy if you didn’t know what was causing it (and if you couldn’t hear Kirishima’s suppressed snickers).
The flickering stops, and Shouto tilts his head in question.
Kaminari smirks. “Just giving them a second to think ‘Maybe it was nothing,’ and then…”
A spark passes from his hand to the wall, and every light in the hallway goes out.
A chorus of muffled shrieks sound through the wall. Shouto blinks at the sudden darkness, and then Jirou’s outraged, “Kaminari!”, audible through three walls, makes the other two burst into giggles.
“I think you overdid it a little,” he informs their general direction.
“You think?” a new voice asks, and Shouto’s glad the darkness hides the way he jumps as Kirishima and Kaminari shriek.
Sero huffs, and Shouto can practically hear him rolling his eyes. Then there’s a creak from the direction of Satou’s door. “What happened to the lights? Is there a villain?”
“Not unless you count Kaminari,” Sero says dryly, and Kirishima snorts. They stand in silence for a few moments.
“Okay, this is kind of creepy,” Kirishima says. “Can we get the lights back now?”
“Oh,” Shouto says, and ignites the left side of his face.
“Holy shit,” screeches Kaminari, so loudly that Shouto lets his quirk go instinctively, plunging them back into darkness.
The hallway is filled with the sound of panting for a few seconds before Kaminari swallows and seems to pull himselfs. “Alright, now that I’m going to have nightmares about weirdly pretty demons for the rest of my life, can you do that again but like… with your hand?”
Shouto complies, raising an eyebrow, because with the scar and the fire he kind of gets the demon part, but... “Pretty?”
“Oh, don’t even pretend,” Kaminari says, the light gleaming across his eyes as he rolls them. “Mina’s been calling you the class pretty boy since the first day.”
As Shouto blinks, the others step into the circle of firelight. Sero must notice his face because he laughs.
“Wait, you didn’t know that?” he asks, incredulous. “There’s no way you cut your hair like that just because.”
“But,” Shouto protests, and then gestures at his face, drawing a line of light through the air as his hand waves.
“What, the scar?” Kirishima asks. “I mean, I think it looks pretty cool, and you’ve still got the pretty eyes and hair and, like… face.”
“Oh,” Shouto says, looking around at the other boys, none of whom look like they disagree. Apparently, he’s pretty. Who knew.
“Todoroki’s general perfection aside,” Kaminari says, “I should probably fix the lights before Aizawa comes to kill us all.”
He sets his hand back on the wall, closing his eyes in concentration. Sparks of electricity play up and down his arm, adding a flickering brightness to the warm, steady glow of Shouto’s fire. Then, in a rush, they flow into the wall.
A moment later, the hall lights buzz as they come back to life. The one above Kaminari lets out a high-pitched whine, then explodes in a shower of sparks and darkens once more.
Shouto’s still trying to adjust his eyes to the new brightness when the acrid smell of burning polyester stings his nose.
“Shit, the carpet,” says Sero at the same moment. Sure enough, a small tongue of flame is blackening the floor below the blown light and emitting a nearly invisible plume of gray smoke.
“I’ll go get a fire extinguisher,” Kaminari says sheepishly.
“No, it’s tiny, we can use baking soda,” Satou tells him before disappearing into his room.
Shouto steps forward, holding out his hands. “I can just pour some water on it.”
“No!” shout Kirishima, Sero, and Kaminari more or less in unison. Shouto freezes, confused, and backs away to let Satou pour white powder over the flame.
“You don’t put water on an electrical fire unless you want it to get a lot bigger very fast,” Kaminari explains, looking unusually grim. Shouto wonders if he’s had a bad experience, then realizes that if his classmate uses his quirk this casually, he almost certainly has.
“I didn’t realize you could create water, though,” Kirishima says. “That’s pretty awesome.”
“If I could do that, I’d be spraying people all the time,” Kaminari muses, the joking exterior apparently back now that nothing is on fire. “Aren’t you ever tempted to just give someone an ice bath?”
The answer is actually no; Shouto thinks of his quirk as a weapon, sometimes even a tool, but never an instrument for petty pranks. But perhaps, he thinks, Uraraka was right: his quirk has a lot of potential outside of fighting.
“Bakugou does seem like he needs help cooling down sometimes,” Shouto says. Only after Sero snickers does he realize that he’s just told an actual joke, or something close.
It’s kind of fun, he decides.
Shouto interlaces his fingers and activates both sides of his quirk, melting his ice as it forms to create a jet of water that puts out the fire in seconds. Then he sends a wave of cold through the resulting pool of water, freezing everyone where they stand.
“I can use it to put out fires in rescue situations,” he tells Midnight. “The ice will stabilize any structural damage the fire caused to the building until rescue crews can arrive.”
“It’s a little unusual to have a rescue-focused special move,” she tells him seriously before breaking into a grin. “It’s daring! I like it!”
“I’m calling it When Hell Freezes Over. ”
“A reference to your father’s Hellfire, huh?” she asks. “Cute!”
Shouto smiles and doesn’t correct her. Endeavor will recognize the phrase as the declaration of war it’s always been.