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To Perish Twice

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Before the twins were born, there were three Todoroki children.

Fuyumi, the second oldest, knows that every one of them share a dream of leaving the household. They are different, the three of them. Natsuo smiles brightly, warmer than everyone in the house, innocent in his youth. Kouen is older, subdued and reserved in a different way that scares Fuyumi sometimes. Fuyumi's more silent, more shy, but her heart bleeds for her brothers and mother.

All three of them are, undoubtedly, deemed failures in Todoroki Enji's eyes. It's a bitter pill to swallow for more than one reason. Before, it was because of expectations that piled up. But now it's because seeing her younger brother go through the same thing she did, if not more, hurts her twice as much. Fuyumi also knows her mother is pregnant, and silently, futilely, she despairs and hopes for her siblings.

Todoroki Rei gives birth to twins.

The first, a boy with red and white hair split in the middle and the most curious eyes. Rei names him Shouto. This is one thing Enji cannot take away from her; each and every one of her children are hers more than they would ever be their father's. Enji might forge and sharpen them as weapons but Rei was the iron and steel they were made of. Shouto isn't exempt from that. Rei feels her eyes tear up as Shouto cries and cries, like he knows how rough his fate would be.

The second, a girl with pink hair and quiet disposition. Rei names her Sakura. Her hair was a mild surprise - the red and white was expected, but the mix that gave way to pink was unprecedented in her family. Enji scoffs at her pink hair when he bothered to look at her, like the shade was a washed out version of the red crown of the hero's. But Rei falls in love with Sakura's hair as quickly as she falls in love with Shouto's eyes.

She holds them close to her heart. Shouto cries and cries until Sakura reaches out, small pudgy fingers finding Shouto's hand, curling ever so softly. 

 


 

 

The first word Sakura speaks is a quiet "-to" in the middle of a very tense family dinner. Enji, in a rare moment of familial affection, puffs up in pride until Sakura repeats the word loudly, "Sh'to," and babbles in Shouto's direction, making it very clear that she was referring to her brother.

Fuyumi chokes quietly as Natsuo grins, cooing over his sister. Rei smiles, a small thing that she does not dare show Enji. Meanwhile, Shouto bangs his fist in response to his twin's calls.

"Enough," orders Enji, and Natsuo straightens up. Rei loses her smile as Fuyumi timidly picks up her cup of water. She catches Kouen's eyes and there is the lurking darkness in her brother's eyes, a deep fire that burns and scorches. Kouen has always been the intense one. Each one of them fear Enji but it's Kouen who's brave enough to despise him.

Enji looks at Rei. "Learn to discipline them better." Or I will, was the unsaid. He throws a cutting look at Shouto's non-stop banging hand.

Kouen reaches out, gently stopping Shouto's motions. Sakura whips her tiny head and narrows her eyes at Enji. If Fuyumi didn't know any better, she would say Sakura's glaring at him, but eventually her sister loses interest and snootily - something Fuyumi never thought she'd say about her baby sister - ignores their father. Blessedly, Enji does not see this and continues eating.

Shouto grins at Sakura, his baby teeth showing. Sakura pats his twin's cheek. "Sh'to," she repeats once again, smiling back.

 


 

 

Sakura and Shouto are barely two years old when they stumble upon the Training Room.

Even though none of them are considered Enji's heirs (heirs to what, Kouen once scoffed, to his bullshit?), all three Todoroki siblings who showed Quirks are trained once a week by Endeavour. They know their purpose. Or lack thereof, in their father's eyes. It's no surprise that there's approximately three to four years of gap in their ages - Natsuo is six, Fuyumi is nine, and Kouen is twelve. Enji discarded them when they didn't show what he wanted them to.

In the Training Room, it is Endeavour who trains them, not Enji. Because while Enji is a terrible father and husband, Endeavour is on another level. When the twins peek inside a hole in the sliding door, they see Natsuo and Fuyumi sitting side by side as Endeavour and Kouen fight.

It's less of a fight and more of a beating; Endeavour repeatedly brings Kouen to his knees. Natsuo is stiff as a board. Fuyumi, her own hands shaking, reaches out discreetly and clutches Natsuo's shirt.

Shouto does not understand what's going on but he does not like seeing his siblings hurt. He turns wide-eyes towards his sister. Sakura is trembling, her eyes watering, and Shouto's heart squeezes tightly.

"Sakura?" whispers Shouto.

Sakura briefly looks at him and she smiles, patting his head. "Stay."

Then she barges in the room with all the grace of a two-year old, running in front of Kouen. She spreads her arms and bares her teeth, saying, "No." so fiercely that even with tears in her eyes, Endeavour is taken aback.

"No," she repeats, glaring at her father.

"No?" Indignant, Endeavour asks her, "You dare?"

"I dare." For a long time, they look at each other, not breaking eye contact. It makes for an interesting dichotomy - a small pink-headed child against the towering, burning form of her father's. Yet Sakura stays undaunted even in the face of the pro-Hero, who stares down (and does more) villains as an every-day job.

(A very, very small part of Enji, a part which he will never admit, feels a shiver of.. something he does not want to name. His daughter is only two years old, ridiculous pink-hair and soft green eyes, and yet. She looks at him with a burning fire that he's only ever seen from other heroes and the worst villains. It makes him think, then, who is this child?)

Endeavour's eyes narrow. His gaze shifts from Sakura to Kouen, lying on the ground with his head down, to Natsuo and Fuyumi sitting on the other side of the room, to Shouto whose wide eyes stare at the scene, and finally back to Sakura. Sakura has shifted from open arms to a stance that he isn't familiar with, but recognizes as one with intent to attack. His daughter lifts her chin. It should be a comical sight but it's not - for a moment, Endeavour sees a spectre of the woman his daughter will grow into.

For a man whose family does not rank very high in his life, Endeavour - no, Enji feels a tiny pocket of triumph in his chest. Kouen might have the spark but Sakura has what it takes to burn indiscriminately.

"For today, you are excused." Without warning, Endeavour lifts a hand and strikes Sakura's cheek. Only his hand does not connect - Sakura's tiny arm blocks it, the loud smack ringing hollowly in the cold silence of the room.

Sakura stares incredulously. Then, throwing a last glare at Endeavour, she turns to Kouen and says in a high-pitched voice, "Let's go, nii-san." She tugs him up and drags Natsuo and Fuyumi outside, too. Shouto follows, hesitantly looking back at his father.

Shouto doesn't know it yet, but he will think and realize it is the start of everything.

Endeavour looks at Sakura contemplatively.

In another world, it is Shouto alone who will bear the brunt of his father's machinations and expectations.

In this world, Shouto has Sakura. It doesn't change everything but it changes something.