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burn me up in your embrace

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On Monday, Todoroki receives a letter from her father.

She takes one look at the matchmaker seal on the envelope and burns it to a crisp. It is one of the most satisfying uses of her left side yet. She drops the ashes into the waste bin and goes back to sorting through the mail.

"What was that? I smell smoke." Midoriya, holding a number of binders, pokes her head into Todoroki's office. Todoroki waves her in and offers her a biscuit. She knows that Midoriya tends to get hungry easily.

It's the first time Todoroki's been alone with Midoriya in a couple months and that's only because of the cartel bust they did that morning. It’s rare for Todoroki to see Midoriya one on one these days. The duties of being Japan’s young and upcoming pros makes four years fly by as the days run together and the patrol routes stay the same.

"My shitty old man has been trying to set me up. This is the third invitation this month." Todoroki explains.

Midoriya chokes on her biscuit. Todoroki reaches over to pound her on her back until Midoriya swats her away. She straightens up, a little pale. "Is that even legal?"

Todoroki snorts. "Yes. Coercion or being forced into marriage, technically no, although it happens. Just setting it up with a matchmaker, unfortunately yes. I haven't gone to a single one though."

Midoriya scowls, filled with righteous determination. It's a face that has struck fear into many a villain, and it amuses Todoroki to see it here. "He should just leave you alone. Who you date is none of his business."

"I don't want to date at all." Todoroki says with a shrug. Midoriya’s eyes flick towards her, curious. "It's sounds like a hassle. I barely have enough time to sleep, let alone spend time with someone I don't care about."

“Well, good. Don’t waste your time on those…” Midoriya trails off, clearly looking for a word to express her outrage, but coming up short. She ends up swearing loudly in English, a habit Todoroki has noticed All Might had given her years ago, and Todoroki can’t quite hide her smile.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Rubbing at the bags of her eyes, Midoriya drops into the nearby chair with a huff. Todoroki slides her another biscuit. “You look tired.”

Midoriya nods sadly. "My commute’s too long. Half the time, I just want to skip the subway and use Full Cowl to get to work."

"If you ever see a giant glacier on the freeway, that'll be me." Todoroki says mildly. Midoriya blinks up at her for a second before bursting into laughter. Todoroki hadn't been joking, but oh well. Watching Midoriya eat the biscuit in two bites, she asks, "You're still living with your mother, right? Why don't you move closer to the city?"

“You'll laugh, but I haven’t even had time to look for a new place.” Midoriya confesses, wrinkling her nose.

The two of them take a look the tower of binders in front of them and share a look of commiseration. It reminds Todoroki of late nights before final exams, when they had sprawled out on each other’s dorm room floors. Todoroki remembers a younger Midoriya, head drooping into her book, repeatedly telling her to wake her up in five minutes. Yet every time, Todoroki would fall asleep herself and they would wake up in a panic with stiff necks at dawn.

The memory of those days feels distant and hazy amid the cluttered hero office where Todoroki spends most of her waking hours.

Without thinking, Todoroki blurts out, “I have a spare bedroom after my mom moved out. You could… come live with me, if you like.”

Midoriya stares at her in surprise at first, but quickly, a beaming smile spreads across her face. Her eyes light up with excitement. Taken aback, Todoroki can feel her own mouth quirk up in response.

“I would love to- wait. You sure your mom won’t want the room?” Midoriya catches herself, visibly struggling to reign in her enthusiasm.  

Todoroki nods.

“Her new apartment is very nice.” Todoroki says, with just a touch of pride. She had spent the last three years saving up her paychecks to pay for that cozy, newly remodeled apartment in the Tokyo suburbs. Conversely, the apartment she lived in by herself was older and worn, with its high price mainly due to its distance to the city center. Todoroki feels a sudden stab of embarrassment for her shoddy place and hastily amends, “Before you agree, you should take a look. It’s probably smaller than your family home.”

“It’s on the Yamanote Line, right?”

Todoroki nods again. Only ten minutes from both of their hero agencies.

“Then it’s perfect. I don’t really care about size. That is, if-if you don’t mind having me as a roommate.” Midoriya backtracks, waving her hands, looking flustered. Todoroki can’t help the snort that escapes her.

“I wouldn’t offer if I minded, Midoriya.”

“Ah, yeah, of course.” Midoriya laughs too before the smile settles back on her face. “When can I move in?”

As simple as that, Midoriya steps back into Todoroki’s life.

 

Midoriya moves in without much fanfare. The day of the move, Todoroki gets an emergency dispatch from her agency about a villain with a liquid nitrogen quirk.

“Go. They need you.” Midoriya says with a knowing look as she hefts two boxes over her shoulders. Todoroki drops a copy of the key into Midoriya’s purse and, apologizing, heads to the battlefield.

By the time Todoroki returns home, sore and sweaty, Midoriya’s already unpacked and gone to a conference on public defense. She leaves a sticky note on the counter, apologizing for missing dinner and that leftovers were in the fridge.

Todoroki opens the fridge and sees zaru soba in a plastic container. Midoriya remembered her favorite. It makes her smile as she cracks open the dipping sauce.

During dinner the next day, Midoriya’s bottom lip wobbles and her eyes widen when Todoroki suggests they order katsudon. They squeeze together on Todoroki’s old couch and Midoriya chatters about her new sidekicks. Todoroki, used to eating in silence and scrolling on her phone most evenings, finds herself telling stories to Midoriya about her day, much like she does for her mother.

It’s unexpectedly nice.

Todoroki’s life changes in these small ways. Midoriya is a considerate roommate, despite their hectic lives and often conflicting schedules. Now living close to her, Todoroki can really see how Midoriya’s grown, aside from the couple of inches of height and muscle. It’s in the way that she carries herself, the youngest Number Seven hero in the history of Japan, and still on the rise.

Sometimes Todoroki finds her gaze drifting over to Midoriya, as if her mind is always unconsciously trying to puzzle her out.

“You’re staring at me.” Midoriya catches her on occasion with a curious smile.

“Just thinking.” Todoroki always replies and for some reason, Midoriya never pushes on Todoroki’s strange habits. So Todoroki stares and fills up her memory with as much as she can, with drowsy morning scowls, scarred fingers that fly wildly over her phone, and bare ankles propped up on the coffee table.  

Sometimes Todoroki looks up from stretching her sore legs and sees Midoriya quickly averting her eyes. Maybe Midoriya watches her too. The thought makes her hide behind the curtain of her hair, smiling.

Some days they talk long into the night, about the pro hero circuit and the people they couldn’t save and the movies they’d like to watch, but never have the time for. Other nights, they sit in silence, Midoriya on her phone and Todoroki on her laptop, content with breathing in the same space.

Todoroki doesn’t look twice at the matchmaking envelopes Endeavor continues to send her.

A month into their new arrangement, Todoroki’s mother asks her if she’s seeing someone.

“You know I don’t have time for that. Nor is anyone really interested.”  Todoroki replies, quizzically. Instinctively, her finger comes up to scratch at her scar. It’s an annoying and oft-repeated question from the media and Endeavor, but from her mother, it’s harmless enough.

“You’ve just been so happy recently. So I thought you might have met someone special or made a new friend.” Her mother explains. Todoroki looks down at her half-finished box of strawberry milk and furrows her brow.

Todoroki isn’t stupid. She knows her mother is right, that she is more happy than not, nowadays. The reason is clear enough and the memory of a freckled grin rises in her mind. Yet acknowledging it makes her heart twist in a funny manner.

“I’ve been rooming with Midoriya. You remember her.” Todoroki responds and her mouth moves without her permission into a half-smile. Her mother smiles back encouragingly. “It’s been nice living with her.”

“Well, I’m glad you aren’t alone. I’m always worried, you know. When you’re still so young, it’s important to have good friends.” She says and takes one of Todoroki’s hand into her own. Her wrinkled skin is soft against Todoroki’s numerous calluses. “Midoriya-chan is good to you, right?”

Todoroki nods as a warmth spreads across her chest, unrelated to her quirk. Strange.