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With the Patience to Grow Roots

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On a rainy June morning, Todoroki storms into an old flower shop hidden in the shadow between two office buildings, and slams a small stack of notes onto the counter without looking up.

He doesn’t see the constellations of colours here, the vibrant hyacinth outside putting the two umbrellas by the door to shame as they glow with the rain, the roses climbing an old pillar, or the chrysanthemum standing in full bloom by the counter. Ribbons fall in showers of blue, purple and pink by a selection of rainbow coloured cards, and small handmade teddy bears in pastels peek up from small baskets for special decorations.

“Would this be enough for a bouquet full of lo—“

But Shouto looks up as he speaks, and Shouto sees the boy beyond the counter, whose round cheeks are dotted with summer freckles and whose hair stands out in every direction and catches the light in green and blue. He sees eyes as wide and eternally green as mountain lakes, pretty and intelligent and, oh, so painfully cute, and Shouto—

The boy smiles. It twists just at the edge of his lips, a hint of sunshine and humour. “Judging by your temper, I’m guessing you didn’t mean to say ‘love’”

Shouto regrets everything.

He opens his mouth to respond, but finds that his brain has lost its grasp on his vocabulary, words trickling through his fingers like drops of water.

“Uh...”

The smile grows just a little and Shouto’s heart does a weird flipping motion against his chest that hurts. “Perhaps you meant loathing instead?”

Surprise, and perhaps an extraordinary amount of luck, restarts his brain. “I wasn’t under the impression that flower shops usually sold a lot of bouquets like that.”

“No.” He laughs and it lights up his whole face. “But I have a friend who’s learnt the immense satisfaction of using flowers to send passive aggressive fuck-yous to people he can’t chew up in person.”

It’s not too difficult to imagine such a person; he knows enough people with fiery tempers, knows himself well enough to know that such people exist (it’s exactly what he’d had in mind, after all). But it’s difficult, in this moment, when faced with a boy who smiles with the warmth of summer sunlight, to imagine that such people have ever interacted or had an influence on somebody so friendly.

“You look like you’re having trouble imagining that,” the florist observes with good humour.

“Not exactly,” comes the hesitant reply. “I’m here after all, for something very similar.”

His father’s face flashes before his eyes and Shouto’s mood sours instantly. Endeavour’s victory party is going to be a public event and Shouto had been ordered, up-and-coming hero that he is, to maintain facades, if not for his father’s sake, then for his own.

“So you are,” the florist agrees. His smile catches a little, stiffens on his face and melts from his eyes in silent sympathy and curiosity at Shouto’s shift in mood. But it quickly springs forth again. “I think you’ll like this, though.”

He waves for Shouto to follow him as he leaves the counter behind and moves to a wall full of flowers already cut for bouquets. It’s another rainbow of colour, flowers separated into the different colour families, always interspersed with the the deep green leaves and stalks.

“Let’s see,” he says, and glances at Shouto out of the corner of his eye.

He’s shorter than Shouto, just a few inches, so Shouto can see the whirlwind birds nest on top of his head, curling charmingly at the tips, better than his eyes. Though it doesn’t hide the vague amusement that plays at soft lips, or the tint of shy pink that colours his cheeks.

This close Shouto feels the gentle warmth from his body, a caress against rain chilled skin, enchanting and magnetic.

“If we use geranium —stupidity,” he begins, picking out a couple of vibrant flowers from a crown of bright red. He pauses, then, and glances up at Shouto. “How big do you want it to be?”

“Hm? The fuck you, or the—“

“No! No. The bouquet. So, yes, I guess, since the bigger the bouquet, the bigger the fuck you, but—”

The geraniums flail dangerously in his hand as he waves, awkward and flustered, the words cutting a different edge on a soft voice than they ought.

“Aaaaah! Sorry!” The other boy exclaims and throws his elbow over his face to cover it. “That came out wrong.”

And he’s so painfully cute that Shouto’s mouth goes dry at the sight, words trickling away from him all at once. “It’s—“ he stuffs his hand into his pocket for good measure “—it’s okay. Yes, as breathtak— I mean, as big as possible. I can pay.”

“Alright,” the boy says, and seeming to revitalise at the task, he gently slips another couple of bright red geraniums out of their place on the wall. “Then we’ll need foxglove for insincerity and meadowsweet for uselessness.” Smaller portions of purple and white flowers follow, pretty and humble, not at all unworthy of brighter messages. “Aaaaaand,” he nearly sings, “for a better colour theme, you’ll want yellow carnations, which basically yell disappointment—“ he shoots Shouto a quick grin “—and orange lillies, the ultimate flower for hatred. Together with the red geraniums they should make a fiery bouquet.”

Shouto, who’d been smiling without realising it, starts at the comment. But the smile the shopkeeper shoots him is so full of fae mischief that he completely forgets what he was going to say. “You’re having fun, aren’t you?” flies out his mouth before he can stop himself.

“Maybe just a little,” comes the answer. “But there’s a lot more energy in this type of thing, rather than a birthday or a present for a grave. Not that I don’t enjoy those, or take them seriously,” he adds quickly, looking up at Shouto as he backtracks with fervour. “I just like the creative challenge this brings.”

“Fair enough,” Shouto says, smiling.

Too soon the flourist has finished the bouquet and handed it over to him with a blinding smile. “Here you go!”

It’s such a pretty image too, the reds and yellows framing summer tanned skin and green highlights, elfish youth, and it comes back to him, how full of rage and fire this bouquet is. The boy on the other side of the counter seems almost too good to be handling something so destructive.

“Oh,” Shouto murmurs, regretful fingers curling around the stalks so the plastic rustles. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I take it you don’t need a card?” He tilts his head, eyes dancing.

And Shouto forgets again, for a moment, as he marvels at the brightness of this other boy, as he draws out the payment process, savours the last remaining moments before he has to leave.

The boy smiles and waves, fae amongst the green of his shop, old beams holding up the little isolated world. “Come again soon,” he nearly sings.

And Shouto exits the store, smiling.


His father loves the bouquet.

So does the media.

And while they all wax poetic about how faithful a son Shouto is, he signs up with All Might’s Hero Agency.


It takes Shouto longer than he would like to get back to the flower shop.

Rainy season has passed and Obon is upon them before he knows it; it’s as good an excuse as any, family always being at the centre at this time of year, even when that family had been severed in two by a violent, all-powerful hero.

His real excuse is to squint curiously at the little plaque on the florist’s apron as he ties a pale pink ribbon around the ear of a vibrant pink teddy bear with deft fingers. Elegant and sun kissed, there’s something sturdy in their build, aided by the specks of dirt he hasn’t bothered to dig out from under his nails.

He’d greeted Shouto with another sunny smile and a ‘welcome back’, a flush stinging his cheeks as he’d blinked answered hope out of his gaze. “I just need to finish the last touches, and then I’ll be right with you, Todoroki-san.”

He hadn’t seemed to notice the slip-up, attention already back on the basket and stuffed toy, gentle ribbons and roses dyed in sweet pinks sing in rhythms of love and wishes for the future that comes in the wake of new life. And though he had revealed last time that these types of gifts do not excite his creative mind anymore, it doesn’t mean Midoriya Izuku treats this present with any less care than the bouquet Shouto had nearly slammed into his father’s chest a couple of weeks ago.

He doesn’t feel bad about memorising Midoriya’s name, now that he knows he’d been recognised.

“There,” Midoriya says and presents the basket. “It’s for this little girl who comes here often with her grandfather. Her quirk took a great toil on her when she was younger, but she’s cheered up more recently, and she did really well for her tests in her first middle school semester so her grandfather asked me to make something for her.”

His eyes glow with the story, and Shouto feels the loss when he turns back to the basket to check just one more time if the roses are okay. But his smile changes to soft indulgence as he adds “He works a lot, but he’s the only family she has, so he asked me to think of something. I hope it’ll make them both happy.”

Midoriya’s tones bend with empathy to their situation, and Shouto wonders if perhaps he comes from a small family as well. It’s something Shouto has never experienced, being the runt of the litter, the last child in the line of four. Weeds grown strong and loud and full of life under an unforgiving sun.

“I’m not the best with flowers,” he says, doing his best to answer the hope on Midoriya’s face. “And I don’t know her. But you do, so I’m sure it will make her happy.”

The smile Shouto gets in return is so bright and overpowering it blasts the cool air of the air conditioning out of the store, a rush of wind, and he feels like he’s standing in a green valley under a clear blue summer sky.

“Thank you!”

Before Shouto can find the words to respond, Midoriya has pushed aside his project and granted him his full attention. “So, what can I do for you today?”

“Your—“

Shouto stops himself so abruptly he feels the words slap against the back of his teeth. I just wanted to know your name. “I mean,” he pauses, and scratches the back of his neck awkwardly. “My mother. I wanted to get some flowers for her, since Obon begins tomorrow.”

“Oh.”

The smile falls so abruptly that Shouto feels it like a physical punch to the gut, draining his lungs of air. “I didn’t know—“

“No,” he says, and he’s never rushed to correct himself so quickly in his life. “She’s in the hospital. I didn’t mean to imply… but I don’t get to see her that often so I thought it might be a nice... gesture.”

“Oh, no, then it’s I who jumped to conclusions,” Midoriya says, hands flailing and cheeks flushing. He bows his head in apology, falling back to the proper speech of store clerks, formality bending his words to project the wall the counter creates, an illusion Shouto had done his best not to see. “I humbly apologise for my rash assumptions.”

Shouto feels the sudden rush of the greedy desire to burn the wall down, but he stops himself. “Not at all,” he says, and hopes his smile will somehow have a similar effect of breaking past the barricade of social hierarchies and reach the shy boy on the other side of the counter. “But this time I really am looking for a bouquet full of love.”

Shouto is beginning to learn that Midoriya’s smiles speak with as many different voices as his words. This one he does not expect; it’s the one of quiet empathy, of familiarity with an emotion. “I know just the thing,” he says, eyes leaving Shouto’s face as he moves with a purpose.

To his surprise Midoriya walks past the wall full of flowers, blooming in every colour and casting his face briefly back into that fairy-like context where he looks like a creature of the forest, and into a different room. When Shouto doesn’t immediately follow he retraces his steps and waves him along, and Shouto’s feet find their path without needing direction.

“Red carnations are the customary gift for mothers,” Midoriya says. “They symbolise the purity, sweetness and resilience that they embody, our mothers, but I always think something a little more long lasting suits… well, at least my mother better. Something with roots.” He glances up at Shouto through his lashes, withering at the edges. “How about Todoroki-san’s mother?”

The beams here are exposed just under the ceiling, and a metal grid has been arranged over them so lilac fuji flowers may bloom. Beneath them stand small tower-like cases filled to the brim with potted plants of every kind, all bursting over their pots in an explosion of life, glowing with colour in the sunlight.

It’s difficult to take it all in, to see all there is to see, to not let his eyes stray back to the way the sunlight falls golden across Midoriya’s skin, the way it makes his hair stand out in so many hues of green, it reminds Shouto of a roof of leaves in a forest during spring. 

His heart feels heavy in his chest as he searches the room for something that suits his mother, grateful to Midoriya for not jumping at the red carnations, even if it were just an innocent fancy.

Finally, in a small corner, framed by two shelves full of books and tools, he sees a small collection of bonsai pots, with a couple of plants already grown.

“That’s a little lifeless, don’t you think?” Midoriya says as Shouto picks up a small bag of seeds. “As a gift I mean…”

A memory strikes Shouto, of sunshine falling over pale hands, elegant and deft. He remembers eying the little tree, a child who didn’t need to bow over the low work table on the outside walkway of his parent’s home.

“Life is a fragile thing, Shouto,” his mother had said, as she turned to him and smiled, a golden halo glowing in her white hair. “But if we treat it with care and consideration, we don’t need to encase it in ice to preserve it.”

“No,” Shouto says in response, smiling. “Not if you have the patience to let it grow roots.”

Mischief sparks in Midoriya’s wide eyes, and he grins at Shouto’s wordplay. “I can’t argue with that.”


So he finds excuses.

He drops in on his sister with her favourite lilies just because it’s been a while since he’s been home (he makes sure Endeavor isn’t around, because they still aren’t talking after Shouto began working for All Might), and he visits Natsuo at the university with the hopes that his desk in the office that holds half a dozen other exhausted PhD students might be hopelessly empty of colour, and returns with two potted plants less than a week later.

“Your brother must be terrible at keeping those plants alive,” Midoriya laughs when Shouto has repeated the process of buying the same type of flowers for his brother three weeks in a row. “Perhaps you should get him a manual.”

“That’s alright.”

It’s another excuse.

His mother smiles with more and more pleasure as her collection of bonsai begins to grow under the sun, shaded occasionally by bars across her windows. She has dirt on her cheek some days, and she accepts his offerings only with the occasional insistence that he begin to take part in their care, and the request for certain species that has Midoriya scrolling through his laptop with sparkling eyes and a muttered string of words hanging from the edge of his lips.

Those are the best days; when he can bring Midoriya a flower-related riddle that piques his interest to the point that he nearly forgets himself and the fact that he’s a florist in a shop who should be taking immediate care of a customer so he can get on his way. Shouto’s favourite days are the ones where he’s allowed to stay in Midoriya’s presence, breathe the sweet air of the flowers he blooms with the magic that is his dedication and his love for the plants.

He’s in a particularly good mood the day he runs into an old classmate.

Shouto has begun to suspect that his mother enjoys the little challenge that runs back and forth between her and Midoriya, and she’s assured him that the newest specimen she’s requested is a particularly rare plant. Which means he can expect just that much more time in the little flower shop today, sitting across from Midoriya with a mug of tea and enjoying the words of somebody who loves his craft.

Only the door flies open and Bakugo Katsuki’s voice floats out, loud and grating like his personality, only to stop, cut off on his tongue as he beholds Shouto.

“The fuck are you doing here, you half-assed bastard?”

He hasn’t seen Bakugo since their graduation a year or so ago, except for on the occasional news site. Their respective work places had taken them far from one another and so he’d had no occasion to deal with the old classmate’s extreme temper.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“My friend works here, dammit!” he snaps, temper flaring.

Friend. Somehow he can’t imagine that.

He glances down at the bouquet in Bakugo’s hands to see a mixture of fiery red snapdragons and pretty white hyacinths. It’s not the combination of flowers he expects. “You wouldn’t happen to be the person who invented the idea of saying ‘fuck-you’ in flower, would you?”

“Hah?! What’s it to you?”

Shouto shrugs. “It would just be in character.”

There’s a lot of rude hand motions after that, and Bakugo stomps off without ceremony or a goodbye. 

He calls Shouto back, before he can close the glass door behind him, sky reflected across his frame. “Oi, Todoroki! Congrats on landing that job at All Might’s!”

“…thanks?”

White teeth flash. “Makes it easier for me to kill two flies with one stone.”

Shouto smiles and closes the door behind him. Bakugo had rarely been on his target-list, not the type to catch Shouto’s attention, but somehow they’d still always ended up competing when there was a cause to compete. Though more often than not he’d gotten to watch Bakugo and Uraraka Ochako fire each other up for competitions, whether official or in-class matches, which had only ended when Kirishima had succeeded in calming them down, or failed and they’d had to watch Aizawa work them both to the bone, as they’d “clearly had too much energy”.

Bakugo had always been easy to rouse, too focused on the end result and never satisfied with where he was. And it looks like his obsession with beating Shouto once and for all will mark their professional lives as well as their school lives.

Not that he’s particularly worried, and the sight of the store brings him enough sombre pleasure to forget the surprising meeting with his old classmate and make-shift rival.

The presence usually here, that makes him return every week, however, is missing.

“Midoriya?”

“In the back,” a disembodied voice floats out to him, and Shouto follows it.

He glides behind the counter, eye catching on a printed academic article left behind on the microbiological properties of some soil or other that Shouto isn’t even going to attempt to understand, even if he is curious…

Shouto has learnt to visit the store in the late afternoons on Thursdays and Fridays, after several missed attempts and the owner finally informing him that Midoriya, being a first year university student, only works those two days with steady regularity.

But would a first year university student really be reading something so complex…?

Shouto had picked the literature line at Yuuei rather than the mathematical line, so he might be wrong.

Being an old building in a small forgotten street in Tokyo, the shop connects to a home upstairs, and as Shouto pushes the curtain aside to step out back he finds a small hallway shaped like a T. Here the stairwell whispers of more life than he had imagined above their heads, creaking steps leading aside to a world he has no intentions of intruding upon, when sunshine blooms ahead of him.

Having once been a greenhouse the ceiling in the back is made mostly of glass, so the dust dances like stars in the little space. Like the secondary room in the store with all the fuji flowers, a metal grid rests above his head, and he finds remnants of Yamanashi peach plants still growing fruit there in the late summer. The rest of the space has been turned part-way into storage, old shelves boasting a heavy load of boxes and bags of fertiliser, pots the abandoned homes of plants, and on the other side a table with tools laid out for flower arrangement, though only a lonely piece fills the space as Midoriya adds the finishing touches.

“So what does snapdragons and hyacinths mean?” Todoroki murmurs as way of greeting, as he settles with his waist against the tall work table.

“Hm?” Midoriya looks up, green eyes full of concentrated distraction. “I… Oh!”

He drags a hand over his forehead, exposing it for a fascinating moment as he draws a line of dirt across, before his fringe falls back to hide it. “They’re an apology,” he says, with an indulgent laugh. “Kacchan never was very good at anything but insults, after all…”

“Kacchan?”

Shouto feels like he might choke on the endearment. From mortified suspicion or fatal amusement, he isn’t quite sure.

“It’s a childhood nickname. We’ve known each other forever. He hates it, so I insist on using it.” An impish smile pulls on his lips, before he glances up at Shouto. “I suppose I don’t need to introduce you?”

It sounds more like a question than it actually is, and Shouto notices for the first time that Midoriya’s fingers are very subtly trembling.

“Nah. I shared a high school class with him,” he replies, and pulls his phone out of his pocket for effect. “Though I do have a LINE chat with about thirty people, who need to hear of this.”

A snort, and a laugh, and the trembling ceases.

Midoriya tilts his head to the side to regard the fan of pale pink and orange chrysanthemum in-between green branches. Orange and purple flowers rise from the core of the arrangement, but Shouto doesn’t recognise them the way he was able to do with the chrysanthemum.

“I’m still not very good at these,” he murmurs, and pushes the tall pot away with a careful hand. “But it’s a slow process. I’ll have to ask mum when she gets back.”

Shouto frowns and leans closer to study it. “I’m not an expert,” he admits. His fingers trace the lines in the wood of the table in Midoriya’s shadow. “But my household is fairly traditional so my father would hire kado practitioners from time to time. This one…”

He breathes in the space between the branches, the peace of the arrangement, enjoying the silence it brings. “I like this style more than the one he preferred,” he says simply, gaze returning to Midoriya’s face. “It breathes. It’s beautiful.”

It’s been a while since they’d been this close; too often separated by the counter in the shop. Here, in an artist’s lair there is nothing parting them but the warm caress of sunshine. Here, Shouto can see the way Midoriya’s freckles glow like stars that dot a blushing evening sky, sunkissed skin. Here, Shouto finds himself drawn by far green eyes, enchanted by the way they glow at his compliment, at the simple joy he can bring another.

Midoriya opens his mouth to say something, but he closes it again, swallowing thickly.

“I…”

He stops again and rubs his face, eyes straying so Shouto feels the immediate loss.

When Midoriya regains his bearings he smiles sweetly, flustered and thrilled all at once. “Todoroki-kun, if I offered to buy you coffee, would you help me with something in return?”

And it’s the excuse he’s been waiting for, the one he hasn’t made himself, but the one Midoriya has offered, to step across the threshold and leave the store behind, formality at their backs and friendship on the horizon.

The thrill that burns in his veins makes Shouto feel that much taller. “I’m at your disposal.”

“Alright,” Midoriya says and grabs his hand, smile glowing like the sun. “Let’s go then!”


Until the moment when he’s sat under a bright red and white parasol, with iced coffee in front of him and a shy Midoriya Izuku facing him, Shouto hadn’t realised exactly how curious he’d been, or how little control he has now that the dams are open.

He thanks whatever deity is listening for his quiet nature, which has saved him from the humiliation of launching a thousand questions at Midoriya all at once.

But the boy opposite him, his own age, while shy and quiet talks in streams of words and phrases, thoughts taking shape like intricate patterns on his voice. He weaves stories and theories, memories and dreams in the air between them, words like a lullaby, visions of different worlds taking form and coloured pastel-pretty by gentle tones.

Shouto learns that Midoriya is studying biology for now, but has every intention of becoming a botanist in the future; that his mother owns the flower shop he works in; and that it’s been in her line for several generations.

“She’s the one teaching me ikebana,” he adds with a bright smile. “She’s really good at it, too. It’s basically what keeps us afloat financially.”

Before he can stop himself Shouto hears himself asking “what about your father?”

Midoriya pulls back a little at the question, the assumed familiarity, and Shouto withers at the edges, regrets. They’re not really friends. They barely know each other, and he’s shared very little of himself. He had no right to ask.

And yet Midoriya still answers. He smiles with bitter pride and sour memories. “He and my mother are divorced. I’m still in his family register, but only because my grandparents insisted... he didn’t like that I—“

He clams his mouth shut with sudden finality, eyes catching Shouto’s with stark surprise and apprehension, and the world is sucked out of Shouto at the raw fear in Midoriya’s eyes.

The sun falls behind a lifeless moon... 

It’s Bakugo that saves them.

Shouto’s phone, still lying on the table between them pings a warning of a text and several more arrived in its wake.

It breaks Shouto and Midoriya apart, though Shouto can still feel the rattle of chains around his wrist as he reaches for the phone. The heavy chain connects him to Midoriya with a sudden finality that usually only arrives in the wake of clarity that he feels disoriented even as he taps the LINE chat open.

‘The fuck you think you are, sharing that?!’

‘Don’t you have anything better to do?’

‘Oi, you half-assed bastard!’

‘Hey, Kacchan,’ Kaminari jumps in. ‘How could you sit on such a goldmine without telling us?’

‘Yeah, Kacchan,’ Ashido agrees. ‘Don’t attack poor Todoroki for simply providing a public service.’

A string of indecipherable key smashing follows, and then an ‘I’m going to fucking murder you, you half-assed bastard!’

When Shouto shows Midoriya the reactions of his former classmates, he’s gifted with another smile. The warmth of the sun returns, and the sound of the patrons around them reaches his ears again, finally.

While Midoriya doesn’t just have a gift for talking, he’s also good at getting others to talk, and Shouto soon finds himself speaking in longer phrases around another human being than he’s done in a long time.

It’s difficult not to, when somebody pays as rapt attention to you as Midoriya does, eyes sparkling with quick intelligence, and voice breaking the silence with questions full of intrigue or comments full of natural sympathy and humour.

“Not as glamorous as they all say then?” he confirms, when Shouto reveals that being a rookie sidekick at a major hero firm means that more than half his time is spent behind the desk, rather than patrolling the streets.

“I don’t know about that,” Shouto says, lips twisting in a smirk. “Pissing off my old man has its own glamour.”

A laugh, soft and indulgent. And Midoriya tilts his head to regard him pensively. Shaking his head he says “I guess you just need to wait for your chance to move up in the ranks for the real glamour, or—“

He hesitates.

Shouto tilts is head to the side curiously.

“No, I was just thinking,” he says, mouth shaping around words with hesitant impatience, the sign of an idea forming in his head. “You were really popular in high school. And you’re pretty damn good at what you do, judging by the results of your internships. And the mentors you had should’ve given you a well-rounded skill set. So why waste away the remnants of your popularity from high school by working a desk job? When you could start a company on your own?”

It’s not that he hasn’t considered this before, but it’s barely been half a year since he finished high school and Shouto still finds himself stretched between what he wants and what he knows is practical. His father’s shadow still looms over him and he’s lost faith that he can escape it on his own.

And if he started his own company now, he’d have too little time to glory in the company of a sunny florist on a nearly bi-weekly basis.

“That’s not a lot of faith you have in my popularity,” he challenges instead.

A flash of a smile. “Well, good looks fade so quickly, or so they tell our female counterparts. And while your quirk is quite something, if you don’t get to show it off to it’s full extent you won’t get much exposure, and you’ve never done that even when you’ve had the chance, so...”

He trails off on purpose, lifting his mug to sip his coffee for extra effect, green eyes dancing with impish mirth over the edge of the cup, enchanting and magnetic.

His words ring in Shouto’s ears, emphasised with every beat of his heart. And he barely knows where to start, how to process all the little pieces of information he’s just gleaned from Midoriya’s observations.

“You’re not telling me,” he says, words coming slow, as he carefully pushes his forgotten mug of coffee out of the way to lean across the tiny table, closer to this boy that ensnares him so. “That you find me attractive, are you, Midoriya?”

“A—“

Midoriya’s face blooms in shades of red, and he nearly drops his mug, hands fumbling to get it safely down on the table, and still managing to slosh what little is left. All the while he stammers a word he cannot seem to get across his lips in clean syllables.

“We—well,” he begins again, eyes incapable of staying on one object longer than a moment. “That’s what the— yeah, that’s what the girls used to say!”

Relief crawls into his expression, brightening with a smile, and Shouto almost feels bad for being selfish, for poking greedily at this shy boy. Almost.

“Is that why you’ve been keeping such an eye on my high school track record?”

“Wha- aah, no, why—“ Midoriya stammers and throws his elbow over his face while thrusting his free hand out in front of him waving it frantically. “Why-why would you assume that? I didn’t say that much, did I? It’s normal from what I’ve heard others talk about, and— oh, my god, I sound like a stalker.”

Immediately he releases himself from his embarrassed shield of limbs and turns back to face Shouto with such honest intensity that Shouto finds himself pulling back. “I’m not. I swear. That’s not why I’m— you’re just really difficult to miss!”

Midoriya Izuku is a force to be reckoned with.

And Shouto is beginning to realise just how much he’s already caught up in him.


They forget the time.

The sun has set and the dregs of coffee in their mugs have dried out, forgotten at their side, as they talk. People move around them in blurred memories, the lights and rumbles of cars a faraway detail, except for the way the light shifts across Midoriya’s skin.

So Shouto leaves with ‘Midoriya Izuku’ imprinted in his phone’s contact list and a new LINE chat room with an animated All Might sticker as icebreaker at the top of his app. It doesn’t take long before the LINE sticker is joined by other messages, by photos of filled lecture halls and descriptions of customers, by random conversations about books they’ve both read, manga they follow and heroes they admire.

A couple of weeks pass before they remember the purpose of the exchanged mail addresses.