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Suspended Disbelief

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His fingers brush the marble, and it falls away from him, just beyond his grasp. Damnit, come on, reach further- and then a scarred hand comes into view, snatching it away before Shouto can put his quirk behind his jump and try again.

Bakugou materialises in the villain's grasp. His classmate's expression is fearful, but Shouto is frozen to the spot, unable to do anything except stare up at the villain who holds him by the neck.

The face is familiar, but it can't be him- Shouto hasn't seen him in five years, he's got to just be confused. After all this time, this is not where he's going to see him again-

"How sad, Todoroki Shouto," the villain says, a smug grin on his face.

And all of a sudden Shouto knows, with every fibre of his being. Because he has heard those words before.

He remembers his brother sitting on top of him as they fought over the remote. How sad Shouto. The same brother, putting the book Shouto wanted to read on a shelf too high for him to reach. How sad Shouto. A hand closing around the last can of soda that Shouto had wanted to drink. How sad Shouto.

That same hand closing around the throat of his classmate as they stand in a clearing in a forest, surrounded by other villains and scared students. How sad Todoroki Shouto.

Shouto remembers his childhood and he remembers how every 'lesson' with his father had left him feeling. He doesn't think any of it compares to the sudden rush of fear and disbelief that he feels now. Not even the first time his father punched him hard enough he threw up, or when his mother threw boiling hot water on his face.

His brother is not a villain. He refuses to entertain the notion any further.

And yet the thought of it haunts him all the way back to camp, and as they reunite with the rest of the class, and as they're hurriedly herded back onto the bus. Even as he gives his statement to the police, it swirls in his mind like a forming hurricane.

It's only when he gets to the hospital and has the plan of rescuing Bakugou that he manages to partially push it out of his mind enough to think.

Shouto's brother can't be a villain. He just can't. So he pushes it from his mind as best he can - buries it deep and refuses to mention it even as it nags away at him when Fuyumi asks him if he's okay, or as they ride the train to the villain's hideout, or as they don disguises.

It's an impossible thought and an impossible notion - one that doesn't have any logic behind it at all.

(The pieces begin to fit together, in the quiet moments before the rescue is properly underway. Dabi didn't emerge as a villain until sometime after Stain - the vigilante who had wanted to kill fake heroes, including Endeavor. It's been five years, but Shouto would recognise that face shape and that fire and the sound of that voice as it forms those words anywhere. It's not impossible, no matter how much he tells himself that it is. But Shouto doesn't want to believe it, and as such he will never speak of it again and childishly hope that it never comes up and is never brought to light.

It's the only thing he can think to do.)

He is eternally thankful that Dabi isn't present during the rescue at the hideout, even when the leader of the villains summons everyone to his location.

Not that it matters, because Dabi isn't Shouto's brother (God, but he is, he is and Shouto knows-). That's insane and it's not true. It's a shit theory that has no bearing in real life.

(He goes home and he tells Fuyumi. They call Natsuo, and then they all cry together over their lost brother and what became of him - of the lost chances and the locked future they all could've had together.)

But Dabi isn't a Todoroki, so the thought needs no further pondering.