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and the pain of my mother will not let me go

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It was a peculiar thing, Shouko thought, being a girl.

At home, it was rarely mentioned after her Quirk manifested. As a child, the women of the household matched the men in numbers. Mother and Fuyumi would dote on her in her earliest days before she'd gained her power- Fuyumi was seven when she was born, nine when Shouko was old enough to play fashion models with her. The two of them would strut down a fake runway in far-too-big high heels and dresses, Shouko having no clue what was going on but eagerly mimicking her sister’s motions as she spun and twirled, their mother laughing and clapping for them. Those memories were her favourite, much preferred to the times she would walk past the training quarters and hear Touya and her father in a screaming match before the heat of flames picked up and a maid would materialize out of seemingly nowhere to scoop her up and move her away. No, the memories of being young, dressing up with Fuyumi, having her hair pulled into high pigtails by her mother, running outside and squealing in joy when Natsuo would pick her up and spin her around- Shouko preferred those.

Then one day in late December, Touya left. He was there, and then he was not. There were no answers for her.

Six days later, Shouko’s Quirk manifested at dinner, fire and ice bursting from her head after she sneezed. Her father’s face lit up, and her mother’s dropped in anguish.

From that point on, gender was a non-factor. There was no difference between male and female on a battlefield of unbelievable superpowers, nor was there in her father’s training room (at that time, at least). He insisted her hair be cut short, long locks cropped to her ears. Shouko’s childish complaint that she looked like a boy was met by a harsh slap across the cheek by her father, her young body skidding across the floor from the impact.

She didn’t complain about it again.

Her days consisted of training until she was ill, tears falling down her face as fire and ice shot from her body erratically. She was three when her Quirk came in, four when she started training, and five when her last point of female contact was removed from her life in a flash of pain and tears, of screeching tea kettles and melting flesh. Fuyumi was hardly allowed to talk to her anymore, not since that fateful late December dinner, and now her mother was gone. Shouko had nothing but her power and her father, two things she was rapidly learning to despise. Her heart started to grow cold, cold, ever colder.

Her elementary school was all-girls, very much an elite affair for wealthy daughters. Shouko didn’t stand out much, ignoring the other students entirely. Why should she care about joining in on soccer games, choir clubs, lunchtime chats? She lived in a different world from all of them. These girls who talked too loud, laughed and cheered for each other, had access to frivolities like dolls and game consoles- Shouko couldn’t relate. Comments about her physical appearance and gender never started until middle school when her schooling became co-ed and boys became a part of the scene.

Shouko didn’t care about boys in the same way she didn’t care about girls- they weren’t a part of her world, her world of pain and burns and a father she loathed so much that she had stopped using his power entirely. Her first year of middle school was the one that made her remember that ah, right, she was female. The stares in elementary school had been ones of confusion and irritation, often born of Shouko brushing everyone off without even a verbal response. The ones she got now, though… they were leers . Suddenly, she was the one staring in confusion as male classmates eyed her body over, often stopping at her chest or legs where her sailor uniform skirt rode up a bit past her knees. It was both surprising and enlightening- she was different from her father in this way, different from the overpowering and intimidating giants he saw as the ideal heroes. The leers may have disgusted her, yes, but Shouko had a weapon stronger than her ice now.

“I need a bra.” She said one day before training, about a month after middle school started. Internally, she whooped in laughter at the way her father’s face tightened up in discomfort. Didn’t see that one coming, did you, you piece of trash? “All the other girls wear them now. I need one too.”

“... Then we’ll tell a maid to get you one.” Endeavor looked like he didn’t know what else to say, something Shouko relished in. She didn’t need a bra that badly- though she was on the tall side, a mix of intense training and a highly monitored diet meant she’d remained almost entirely muscle, her sturdy yet lean body looking more androgynous than anything else. A few nights after that particularly harsh session, a maid sent to measure her confirmed that all she really needed was a training bra. Fine by her. That by itself was what set off a lightbulb in her head- her femininity was something she could use to get back at her father, the bastard who’d robbed her of her childhood.

Slowly, she started growing out her hair. The boy’s cut she’d worn since four years old gave way to chin length locks, and Shouko relished in the subtle twinge of irritation her father wore after her hair finally brushed her shoulders, long enough for her to tie back with a pink elastic- not a colour she particularly cared for, really, but wasn’t it supposed to be for girls or something? Her ultimate goal was to grow it to the length she’d remembered her mothers’ being, rib length or so. The more she could resemble the parent who’s Quirk she planned to use for her entire life, the better. The more she could remind him which parent was allowing her to succeed.

It was all out of spite, frankly. Shouko’s heart remained coated in frost, barring any sort of real happiness. Her world was still so harsh and violent that she knew a moment of genuine softness would mean her downfall. She’d seen what had happened to her mother. All she knew about Touya was that he’d had a meltdown and run off. And most of all, she pretended she was asleep on the nights a shaking Fuyumi would crawl into her bedroom, nestle up next to her to whisper sobbing apologies and ask the air why it had to be like this. The Todoroki bloodline was full of wires ready to snap at any moment, and Shouko knew she was being pulled taught. This would not happen to her, not if she had anything to say about it. She didn’t particularly want to be a hero defined by her gender- people like Midnight always made her roll her eyes- but if it could be something that would separate her further from her glorified sperm donor? Then she’d happily adjust her appearance. God knows her behavior wouldn’t change- that was beyond Shouko’s realm of ability. The thought of wearing big smiles and making squealing noises at cute things and acting cheerful was just undoable. But if she could emulate the subdued aesthetics of an elegant woman- oh, her mother was elegant, I miss you I miss youmissyoumissyou - then she would achieve her goal.

“Onee-san. Please teach me makeup.” Fuyumi jolted up from her homework in the dining room, eyes widening at the sight of her sister. The older girl was a second year in university now, studying hard at something or another- Shouko didn’t really talk to her that much. Didn’t get the chance, aside from those nights when she’d crawl into her room, and that was just Fuyumi talking to herself next to Shouko. The bicoloured girl stared blankly ahead as Fuyumi struggled for words.

“I- That’s um- Oh, right, you want to learn cover up for yourself?” Their few interactions over the years had often involved Fuyumi covering bruises and burns for her little sister, something she’d learned to do for everyone else in the house. Shouko briefly pondered over the fact that Fuyumi had essentially become the mother to the children at barely ten years old before shaking her head.

“No. I want to learn makeup. Real makeup like you have. The other girls wear it now.” That was a slight stretch, but now in her second year of middle school, the other female students certainly seemed to at least be interested in it. Fuyumi looked like she didn’t know what to say before offering a hesitant smile, tapping her phone screen once and checking something.

“Okay, um- yeah, dad won’t be home for a few hours. I can show you some.” Getting up, Fuyumi brushed off her jeans before leading Shouko to her bedroom. It wasn’t as big as her own, but it was more furnished, a few posters from what Shouko vaguely recognized as a popular singer decorating the walls. She also didn’t have a vanity like her older sister did, small and covered with products. “So I don’t really have that much in regards to fancy makeup, but dad’s business associates usually bring gifts for everyone when they meet here, so- ah! But you probably know that already, haha. I bet you haven’t touched yours much.”

Shouko furrowed her brow in confusion. “Wait, what do you mean about ‘yours’? They bring gifts?”

Now it was Fuyumi’s turn to look confused. “Um, they do. You know, like… Like when he had that meeting with Gang Orca and his PR team last month?”

Shouko did remember that, actually. Their estate had a meeting hall built into it, so meets with other pros weren’t uncommon. As per usual, she and her other two siblings had been ushered in to greet Gang Orca and exchange pleasantries with a few people before being told to scuttle back to whatever they were doing beforehand- just routine etiquette, honestly. The hero had seemed nice enough, though Shouko didn’t really care that much about the whole ordeal. “I remember.”

“Yeah! Like how dad passed those courtesy gifts along to us? I got a really pretty set of teacups, Natsuo got this neat little phone speaker, and I think they got you… oh! You got that nice pink lip gloss!” Fuyumi snaps her fingers as she recalls it. “Remember? The thing in the silver packaging?”

“I literally didn’t get anything. I’ve never gotten a present from any heroes before.” Shouko blinked, confusion turning into hard understanding. “... Father must intercept anything meant for me.”

“That’s- oh. Um. Maybe, uh. Never mind.” Fuyumi’s face fell, awkwardness resounding throughout the room until she let out a nervous chuckle and clapped her hands together. “... Alrighty! Let’s show you how to use makeup, then.”

Shouko’s anger over this revelation turned into an opportunity for spite. So he was denying her the chance to choose the type of person she wanted to be? Not fucking shocking. That had been her entire life. But the shitty old bastard wasn’t here right now, and she was going to wear makeup no matter what. Allowing Fuyumi to guide her over to the vanity, the older girl pulled Shouko’s hair back into a loose, low ponytail before pinning back her bangs. “Um, yes. So I’m gonna do your makeup so you get an idea of how it goes on. S-So first things first, we’ll get your hair out of the way. It’s gotten really long! It’s past your shoulder blades now.”

Fuyumi was trying too hard to make the atmosphere light again, but her efforts were commendable enough to get a response out of Shouko. “I’ve been growing it.”

“It looks so pretty!” The pitch in Fuyumi’s voice indicated her relief at getting a reply. Shouko knew too well that she didn’t always indicate that she’d heard people past a nod or flick of the eyes. “Okay, so I’m gonna start with a primer. That basically gets your skin ready for makeup and ensures it stays on.”

Fuyumi talked Shouko through all the steps, the younger girl content simply to listen to her sister as she spoke about different products and how each one went on. The only small pause was during the application of foundation, Fuyumi’s voice trickling to a pause as the makeup started to reach the edge of her scar. Shouko knew it wouldn’t be enough to cover it- if the chemical products developed by Japan’s best skincare specialists could hardly fade it despite how hard her father had pushed for it in her youth, it wasn’t going anywhere. “Just go around it. Eye makeup can go on it normally, but it’ll be too hard to cover it up.”

“R-Right!” Stumbling a bit, Fuyumi fell back into rhythm shortly afterwards, moving onto contouring and explaining how to seal the makeup. Shouko watched in content silence as her face changed gradually, internally realizing how she couldn’t recall the last time she’d blushed as the pink powder of the same name was applied to her cheeks. She wasn’t too interested in the makeup itself, but for a little… it was nice. Doing something an ordinary girl her age would do. Did her classmates have big sisters of their own to show them how eyeliner is applied? Did they also shirk in caution away from the eyelash curler until it was explained? This was a world of normalcy, one she’d been denied her entire life- one Fuyumi had been denied. The older girl looked like she was actually having fun, making little jokes about the names of the products (Shouko had no idea what ‘Deep Throat’ meant or why her sister giggled at her saying it, but it did sound like a bad name for a blush) and chatting idly about her day. Turns out her major was childhood education. Shouko was learning more about her older sister in the span of an hour than she had in the past seven years.

At one point, Fuyumi had excused herself for a minute, coming back in with a small black speaker in her hands. “This is that speaker Natsuo got from Gang Orca and his firm- he let me borrow it!” Turning it on and fiddling with her cell phone for a minute, the room soon filled with music. It wasn’t anything special, some pop song, but Shouko found herself tapping her foot nonetheless. Maybe it was just because she was enjoying this entire atmosphere- comfortable, lighthearted, with hands on her skin that touched her softly with no intention to harm. It was… nice. Really nice. Despite herself, her lips curled up slightly, small smile on her face as Fuyumi returned to her makeup.

“It’s almost done, Shouko-lat.” There was a pause as Fuyumi realized what she’d done, the girl making a ‘meep’ noise and pulling away even as Shouko missed the feeling of the hand on her cheek. “I, uh- I’m sorry! Th-That slipped out, I-”

“No, Onee-san. It’s okay.” Shouko’s heart had jumped at the nickname. God, how long had it been since she’d heart it? At least six years, probably more. It came from Natsuo originally- as a very small child, Shouko’s love for zaru soba was only tempered by her love for chocolate- milk chocolate specifically. Given how much easier it was to be given a piece of chocolate than it was to be cooked a full meal, she ate it a lot more, too. Having noticed her adoration, Natsuo teasingly knighted her ‘Shouko-lat’ because lookie Fuyumi, lookie momma, doesn’t it sound like chocolate when ya say it fast?! Let’s call her Shouko-lat! And it had stuck up until her cursed Quirk developed, until she was pulled away from that love and warmth and forced onto a strict diet with no room for sweets.

… God, she hadn’t eaten chocolate since she was five . “Please. You can call me that.”

Fuyumi looked hesitant. “I… If you’re sure, then… Okay. Shouko-lat.” Hiding the warmth that spread through her body at the name, Shouko settled back into the routine of makeup and chatter, occasionally interspersed with a word from herself. It wasn’t like she had much to say, not much of a life to talk about, but she did recount a story about a boy from her class pranking the teacher with a blackboard eraser over the door only for the teacher’s laser eyes Quirk to instantly disintegrate it. Though she hadn’t found it particularly interesting at the time, Fuyumi’s overjoyed belly laughs brought that small smile back to her own lips.

Maybe it wasn’t the makeup she was after. Maybe it wasn’t the urge to spite her father that drove this afternoon. As Fuyumi offered to style her hair, Shouko’s agreement stemmed from something entirely different. Maybe… Maybe she just wanted to experience an ordinary moment of happiness. As she actually chuckled due to the way the hairspray made Fuyumi sneeze, Shouko could forget her burden as an object created to overcome the current Number One. She was a normal kid having fun with her sister.

All good things, though, must come to an end. And in the Todoroki household, it was always an end of flames and tears. Just as Fuyumi was digging through her vanity drawer to find the perfect accessory for her newly-styled hair (which now barely brushed her shoulders due to how the loose ringlets shortened it, but Shouko didn’t particularly care about that), the music was just loud enough to drown out the stomping footsteps. Loud enough to ensure neither of them heard Fuyumi’s phone buzz with Natsuo’s warning text. Loud enough that they didn’t suspect a thing until the door slammed open, shattering their happy moment.

Fuyumi yelped and Shouko jumped at the sudden noise and heat. Endeavor stood in the doorway, blazing gaze looking down upon both his daughters. Eyes flickered around the scene seemingly stopped in time- Fuyumi frozen in shock, bent over her vanity drawers, diamond hair clip in one hand. Shouko, deathly still with her hands in her kneeling lap, face done in full makeup with her hair curled. The music played on, too cheerful for a situation of this level.

“... Shouko.” Endeavor spoke evenly- never a good sign. “Get changed. We’re training in twenty minutes.”

“You’re-” Shouko’s voice caught in her throat for a moment. “You’re home early.”

Her father’s eyes turned harsh. “Work ended early. And I don’t see how that negates my previous order. And as for you,” Endeavor’s gaze turned to Fuyumi, who was visibly trembling under his stare. “I need to talk to you.”

“It- Father, it was my idea.” The reality of the situation crashes down on Shouko all at once, and she’s scrambling to get to her feet and get between Endeavor and her older sister. “You can’t- I asked her to do this, don’t-”

“And she chose to agree to your childish whims .” A hand wraps around her wrist, and Shouko bites back a scream as she feels the heat burn right through her sailor uniform’s long sleeve and onto her skin. “This is not your world, Shouko. This is not the life you were created for. Now wash the crap off your face and meet me in the training hall before you make this worse for all of us.”

“Shouko, honey, please just go.” Fuyumi pleads, and Shouko can feel her own heart break at the tone in her voice. “It’ll be okay, please, please just go.”

She can’t even bring herself to look back as the shame as to what she’s put Fuyumi through hits her. Yanking her hand away from Endeavor, she steps around him and out into the hall. As soon as she’s out of sight, she books it for the furthest bathroom from this wing of the house. Shouko learns that it’s harder wiping makeup off when you’re crying from something other than immense physical injury for the first time in maybe four years. She learns many things that evening. She learns Endeavor is not above threatening to ‘burn that goddamn hair off’ if she doesn’t understand her position as his creation. She learns his attacks become infinitely harder to block when there’s anger fueling him. She learns the healing Quirk user employed privately with the vast funds belonging to the Todoroki family can keep an unaffected face while puttering away at the fabric that melted into her skin from the sheer force of her father’s fire.

And the next morning, Shouko learns crushing guilt as Fuyumi, poorly concealed black eye and all, hugs her and apologizes for not being more careful. Shouko-lat, I'm so sorry, I didn't protect you.

Shouko’s hatred for her father grows like a pillar of ice. She’ll never let that bastard win.